Hello all! Well, here's the companion fiction to the chaptered story that I've had brewing in my head for quite awhile now. At first, I intended this to be a one-shot. However, after I started writing… well… I guess I just couldn't stop. So, I said what the heck, let's make it a double! And, with a lemon twist, of course! (Okay lime here at fanfiction) It's in the second chapter, which is done and will be added once it's back from my awesome beta, Dwellin! Along, with the corrected version of this chapter, since I'm posting before she finishes. I just couldn't help myself! Yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment!

Oh and one more thing, I would like explain my logic pertaining to Ryuho's name, last name to be specific. I know that in episode 2, Ryuho's father introduces himself as Ryu Dairen (Some say Tairen, but the caption has it as Dairen...) but, in episode 21 when Mujo advises were he is, he calls it the 'Ryu family compound' (Ryu family temple in the caption) Then I said why is he calling the compound the 'Ryu,' instead of the 'Dairen' if Dairen is the family's last name. Also, Ryuho is referred to as 'the Ryu heir.' So, I assumed that Ryuho's father was introducing himself in a traditional Japanese fashion by stating his last name first. And that is why I have 'Ryu' as Ryuho's last name.

And with that, enjoy!


Disclaimer: Hmmm... I own my kids (Because I made them) I own my husband, (Because the Marriage License says so) and I own a REALLY big mortgage. (Because I'm stupid and signed on the dotted line) However I don't own s-CRY-ed. (Because if I did, then I wouldn't have said mortgage)

A Birthday Wish

Make a wish and blow out the candles…

It was the same. Every birthday, since coming to the Lost Ground, Mimori Kiryu expected hear the exact same phrase right before she would take a large breath and sharply expel it through tightly pursed lips. But, before she would even take that breath, she would make a wish, a very special one, in the hope that it would finally come true. Like the phrase, the wish was always the same. It was the desire to see the only man that she had ever loved again. Ryuho Ryu.

'Well… except the first one,' she silently amended. Glancing down to the soft flickering candles on the white iced cake before her, she recalled how she had completely forgotten the first birthday. That is, until Straight Cougar reminded her with his usual energetic flow of words and a flash drive containing information regarding a powerful Alter being spotted in the badlands. Unfortunately, it was information on Kazuma instead of Ryuho, but it did, at very least, give her hope that he was alive. And back then, even the slightest bit of hope was encouraging.

It was too bad that Cougar hadn't lived to see any of her other birthdays, though. He was a good friend and always made things, for the lack of a better term, entertaining. The Alter-user was always moving so fast, in her opinion too fast, to the point that the end of his time caught up with him in just a blink of an eye. But, he lived life with exuberance, with flair, and if the redhead would have slowed, even a millisecond, then it wouldn't have been the same man that everybody knew and loved. It was just hard to believe that six years had past since he exhausted the last of his reserves.

Casting her amber gaze upward, the dark-haired woman faintly smiled over the fond memories before settling her thoughts on the blanket of cobalt blue that was littered with millions upon millions of twinkling stars. 'At least the night sky hasn't changed over the years,' she mused, noting that even the paper lanterns hanging sporadically around her home's patio couldn't hinder their luster. It truly was a beautiful autumn night, with just a little nip in the air to warrant a light sweater or jacket. But, it was still warm enough, pleasantly so, to enjoy a party outside.

No, the sky never seemed to change, but everything else around her had. Thriving villages were emerging all over the island, while its people, who were at one time considered miscreants by the Mainland, were working together to make the land hospitable again. Reconstruction also began inside the city limits after large sections of the wall were taken down and used to rebuild homes and offices. It took an immeasurable amount of blood, sweat, and tears, but everything was finally coming together. The Lost Ground was steadily growing, maturing, while moving closer to independence. It was an accomplishment that the occupants of the Lost Ground could be proud of.

Mimori proudly recalled that the two bedroom home she shared with Kanami was even made out of recycled materials from the outer barrier. She and the blooming Alter-user decided it was time to move out of Asuka Tachibana's, because he and his girlfriend, Cammy, decided to get married. So they had a quaint single story cottage built right next door. She could hardly believe that three years had passed since they moved in. It was absolutely amazing how rapidly all the changes were occurring.

Moreover, her new homeland wasn't the only thing that was going through changes. She had also grown, matured, through the years. She was still very idealistic and loved to share her talents and knowledge with others, while helping anyway she could in the rebuilding of the previously known Kanagawa prefecture. However, Mimori was no longer the same impressionable teenager. She was more reserved, cautious, almost to the point of being defensive. Nor did she act so impetuous when her feelings were involved. She really had no need to, since the only person who made her act so irrational hadn't been around for almost six years.

Ryuho was too busy with freeing the Lost Ground to waste his precious time for a visit. In a way, she resented the fact that he couldn't spare her a few minutes over the years. But at the same time, she completely understood why he hadn't, especially now that the fighting was almost over. At least she knew that he was still alive, thanks to Elian's Alter and, naturally, the pendant lying between her breasts. She just hoped that once it was over, he would finally come to see her, even if it was just to say 'hello.'

Then at that very moment, a particularly high pitched and off keyed 'Miss Mimori' from Urizane shook the young woman out of her gloomy reflections as the mismatched triad of 'Happy Birthday' neared its end. Mimori shifted her eyes to the patio again and let her gaze wander, taking in the faces of her friends and considered family members. The now married Asuka and Cammy Tachibana were standing to her left, while Elian Zigmarl and Urizane were standing on the opposite side of the table. Then to her immediate right was Kanami, her 'little sister' and very best friend, with the one and only Kazuma the Shell-bullet standing right next her.

'Even he came for a visit,' she thought sullenly even though she flashed a smile at the two.

At least Kanami was fortunate enough to have the person that she cared about more than anything come for a visit. Mimori knew that her petite roommate loved the brash Alter-user and she had a notion that the feelings were reciprocated, but Kazuma just hadn't realized it yet. He still thought of Kanami as a 'little girl,' especially since he was seven years older than her. However, that wasn't the case any longer. Kanami, now fifteen, was growing into a beautiful woman. And Mimori didn't have any doubts that once the now twenty-two year old saw how other young men flocked around the flaxen-haired teen he would change his tune. But, before Mimori could ponder the couple's potential relationship, the song came to an end. 'Here we go again,' she thought as the infamous phrase merrily danced along the autumn breeze…

"Make a wish and blow out the candles, Miss. Mimori!"

'Hopefully this time,' she thought before closing her eyes and making the wish. Then in the very next instant, she took a deep breath and blew…


.

It had become a ritual. Every couple of months or so he would be there, in the shadows, observing the tiny home and its occupants. He didn't even know why. No, that wasn't entirely true. The man knew exactly why he would stop what he was doing and travel just south of the city limits. He needed to see Mimori, again. Even more so since it was her birthday and he never missed the opportunity to catch a glimpse of her on such a special occasion. Though, he didn't understand why he was always so secretive about his presence, especially now. After all, he was acquainted with everyone who was attending the party. Most of them, at one point, were even his colleagues at HOLY. No, it shouldn't have been a problem. But, for some reason the ex-HOLY member just couldn't leave the security of tall grass on the plateau.

"Hell… I even know why I can't go down there," Ryuho muttered in self-disgust, while intently watching as the revelry below died down.

Quite simply, he was afraid to. And it wasn't because Kazuma was there. Nor was it because he was concerned about what Mimori's reaction would be upon seeing him again after so many years. (Though, he was sure it wouldn't be pretty.) It was because he knew that if he let himself get too close, then he wouldn't want to leave. And, unfortunately, there was just too much to do before he would be free from his burdens. Though, he was close, very close. Maybe another year of fighting and then, once the Ryu family compound was restored, he would come for her. If she was still single and wanted him that is.

Ryuho hoped that she would still be single and he knew just how fortunate he was that she hadn't found anyone else yet. Though, it wasn't for a lack of trying on her part. At least that was how it looked to the viridian-haired man. Sometimes when he came, he would see Mimori with another man from the village spending time together, flirting and laughing, while doing things that two people interested in each other would do, like giving soft touches on an arm or shoulder. And that was only in public! He had absolutely no clue what was happening behind closed doors and, quite frankly, he didn't want to know. If he did, then he would probably cause some bodily harm on the lucky bastard who was able to touch his Mimori so intimately! However, the couple of 'relationships' he had witnessed never seemed to last long, because the next time he would show up she was noticeably alone. Also, every time he and Kazuma would side up in a battle, which was often, the Shell-bullet always advised him of how and what the girls were up to, since he made his visits known.

'Damn perceptive bastard,' he thought, while looking pointedly at Kazuma. Who coincidently had his left arm wrapped around Mimori's shoulders, ushering her toward the back door as the rest of party-goers went home. Upon seeing the display, Ryuho couldn't stop the possessive growl that escaped his sneering lips. "He probably knows I'm here and is doing it on purpose! The son of a bitch!"

Kazuma knew that he had feelings for the onyx-haired woman and had probably known from the beginning. After all, he was the one who just had to put Mimori in harm's way all of the time, resulting many of Ryuho's uncharacteristic outbursts of emotion. He probably did that on purpose too, the master of Zetsuei thought bitterly as he recalled how fierce their rivalry was back then. At least his absolute loathing of the russet-haired man had diminished over the years. To the point that he now admired him for his sheer will and determination, not to mention Kazuma's fighting skills. He even considered him a friend, albeit begrudgingly. Although, would he never admit that to anyone else. Besides, he didn't have any friends. Not really. Other than Mimori perhaps, but she didn't count because of his self-imposed isolation.

Sure, he met people out the wilds of the Lost Ground while defending a village or stopping one of the many futile attempts of conquest by the Mainland. The people he saved always showing their appreciation by opening their huts, offering him anything and everything in the hopes that he would make their little community a permanent home. And a couple of those times, when he first began the undertaking, he even accepted shown gratitude of a more 'friendly' nature from some of the women he saved. It was only when he was feeling his lowest, though. Ryuho used the women to temporarily forget his pain, his self-loathing while, at the same time, trying to erase Mimori's overwhelming hold in him. It never helped. Actually, it made things worse, especially since it always felt like he had somehow cheated on the lovely genius afterward.

"I guess I don't have any right to be jealous of her seeing other people," the Ryu heir mumbled morosely. Rolling over onto his back, he spread his arms wide while staring at the sky. He didn't like the fact that Kazuma was most likely spending the night. But, he had no right to complain about that, either. Besides, Ryuho knew that his one time adversary was there to see Kanami and was probably sleeping on the couch.

Expelling a long and deep breath, he closed his eyes completely shutting out the idea of Kazuma being inside the girls' home. Instead, he thought about Mimori getting ready for bed and how he would love to see her in her pajamas. A few quiet moments passed as he just lay there caught up in the impromptu fantasy, while contemplating if whether Mimori wore cotton, silk, or, much to his perverse enjoyment, absolutely nothing at all. Then a notion struck him that made his stomach knot in hostility as his currant-colored eyes shot wide open…

Kazuma would get to see her in such a state of dress, or undress, depending on what she slept in.

The Shell-bullet did it again. He got Ryuho's blood pumping as electrifying rage shot through him as if he was struck by lightening. Except, this time, Kazuma wasn't even aware of the fact. Without another thought or even being completely aware of the consequences, the aggrieved man took off toward the tiny home, wanting nothing more than to pull the Alter-user out of the house by the scruff of the neck. Then he would beat him senseless.

However, upon reaching the concrete slab of the patio, the most unexpected thing happened. The outdoor lights flickered on as the back door slid open, revealing the one and only Mimori Kiryu wearing nothing but a pair of loose fitting pink, green, and white vertical striped lounge pants, a fitted white tank top, and pink fuzzy slippers.

Her pajamas.

'Oh shit,' Ryuho thought as he skidded to a halt just a few feet in front of her.

Mimori just stood there, in the sliding door's threshold, staring wide-eyed and openmouthed at the man before her, while noting that his expression mimicked hers perfectly. She must have been sleepier than she originally thought! Or, perhaps, it was the three cups of sake that Urizane had urged her to drink earlier that was making her see the unbelievable illusion before her. Because there was absolutely no way that Ryuho was standing there! Closing her eyes and mouth, the young woman immediately shook her head to clear her vision. But, when she opened her whiskey-colored orbs, he was still there…

"Ry-Ryuho?" she finally whispered. Reaching for the door jam with her left hand, the surprised woman kept herself from falling over while the right one instinctively went to the pendant around her neck. Her eyes had to still be deceiving her! Why would he just show up out of the blue like this after six years? Then she realized that her wish finally came true…

"Miss Kiryu," Ryuho uttered coldly, the shock of seeing the heiress instantly being smothered with indifference.

"Figures," Mimori sarcastically mumbled. She then pushed away from the doorway and stepped over to the table to retrieve what she had initially came outside for, Kanami's camera.

"Just what are you doing outside at such a late hour?" he accused more than inquired, before internally berating himself for sounding like a complete ass.

"Shouldn't I be asking you the same thing?" she bit back, spite in her tone. But, before he could come up with a reasonable excuse, she sighed, "Kanami left camera out here and I wanted to get it before something happened to it."

"Oh… very well then…" he fumbled, intently watching her graceful movements as she picked the item up before turning on her heel to face him again. She was just as beautiful up close as she was from far away, like she had always been.

"What do you want?" Mimori then asked, expression guarded, while her eyes took in his appearance. Even though a brown poncho covered most of his body, she could tell that he was quite a bit leaner (in her opinion too lean) and taller than what she remembered and his beryl-colored hair was considerably longer. Almost as long as hers, she noted while moving to look at his face, immediately noticing the lines, like stress cracks, that ran along his forehead and cheekbones. They were just like the ones on Kazuma's face, arm and shoulder. Side effects from using too much Alter power, she surmised before realizing that he hadn't uttered a word. She then impatiently crossed her arms over her chest while huffing out, "Well?"

Ryuho didn't know how to answer her, especially since his brain and mouth decided not to work at that particular moment. So, he just stood there and stared. (Though, it may have looked more like glowering to Mimori.) He knew that there was absolutely no way that he could tell her the truth. 'Yeah right,' he internally snorted. 'Like I would tell her that I was so jealous of Kazuma that had to come running down here like a love-sick fool.' Then he heard her say 'well,' which instantly told him that he needed to think of something and quick.

"I came here to advise you, Miss Kiryu, that the fighting still isn't over and it would be in your best interested to return to the Mainland," Ryuho callously advised before declaring, "The Lost Ground is no place for someone like you!"

"Well… I'm glad to see that you haven't changed a bit," Mimori sarcastically retorted. Her eyes flashed liquid-golden as she flung her hands to her hips, making the camera, which fortunately had the strap wrapped around her left wrist, fly with the momentum. Only stopping after it slammed against her outer thigh and bounced twice. Then trying to keep her anger in check, she lowly bit out, "And just what do you mean by someone like me?"

"I mean someone who…" the Alter-user snidely began, only to be cut of by an irate 'Princess.'

"Someone who doesn't have an Alter, right?" the indignant woman seethed. She could not believe that he actually had the audacity to bring up that fact after so long! The bastard! "Well… for your information, Mr. Ryu, I have been perfectly capable of taking care of myself for the past six years and without an Alter. So, your reasoning for me to head back to the Mainland is completely unfounded! Besides, it's not like you have any say in what I do! I'm a grown woman, not some naive teenager that you think you can boss around!"

"Not that you listened back then, either," Ryuho muttered under his breath as she continued her rant about how it no longer was feudal Japan and women had rights. She definitely wasn't a teenager any longer he thought. A young Mimori wouldn't have spouted off like that. Not to mention how the venting made her mature body react. The way her eyes flashed in annoyance and her cheeks flushed in anger. Then there were her pert breasts that strained invitingly against the lycra tank top every time she moved and how her elegantly tapered fingers gripped her nicely rounded hips. The whole display had him reeling and all he wanted to do was grab her and kiss her senseless! However, before he could act on his instincts, she stopped her tirade.

"What did you just say?" Mimori defensively asked.

"Mimori, that wasn't what I meant," Ryuho sighed instead of repeating himself, while running a hand through his long hair. Then before he could stop himself, he truthfully clarified, "I meant someone who is important…" He paused there, for just a moment, as the realization of what he started to say set in. Then after another heartbeat, he softly finished, "…to me."

"I'm still important to you?" she asked in a small voice and her eyes wide as she moved her right hand from her hip and clutched the pendant again.

"I-I should go…" he quickly murmured, instead of answering her again. He had to go before things went too far, something he couldn't afford to have happen yet.

"Wait!" the raven-haired woman cried as he turned to leave, her right hand instantly reaching for him.

Ryuho immediately stopped his departure, but didn't turn around when he asked, "What is it?"

"I… ummm… I mean it's my birthday…" she sputtered, while trying desperately to think of a way to keep him from leaving. After all, she may never see him again.

"I know…" he quietly admitted. "It's October third."

"Exactly! And it wouldn't be right for you to leave without having a piece of cake, you know!"

"But, I don't have a present for you…"

'Just seeing you again is more than enough,' she thought, hoping that he wouldn't leave anyway. "You don't have to give me a present," she added out loud and was rewarded when he turned to face her.

"Ya' know, I haven't had a piece of cake in a really long time," Ryuho confessed, giving her a small smile. Maybe, spending a little time with her wouldn't hurt too much.

"Great!" she happily exclaimed before motioning to the open door. "Come on in and I'll get us both a piece."

"I don't think that would be a good idea. Besides, Kazuma is in there."

"Why not?" she questioned, her head slightly tilted. Then she realized who he referred to. "So what if Kazuma is here! Are you two still at each others throats or something?"

"No, it isn't that…" Ryuho started before trailing off as he thought, 'It would be another step closer to you.'

"Then what is it? And how did you know Kazuma was here, anyway?"

"Well…" he began, while thinking, 'Oh shit, I did it again.' Then he figured that he might as well tell her the truth. "I was up on the plateau during your party and saw him."

"Oh…" she murmured, wondering why he didn't come down sooner. However, instead of asking, since she figured he wouldn't tell her anyway, Mimori offered, "Well, how about I bring them out here."

"No, that isn't necessary."

"But Ryuho…"

"Mimori, it really is late and I'm keeping you awake," he instantly supplied, interrupting her. Maybe spending time with her would hurt too much.

"But, I'm not sleepy and I haven't seen you in so long," the young woman interjected pleading her case. "Besides, you did say that you haven't had any in awhile. It will only take a moment, I promise!"

"I don't know…" he sighed, while morbidly thinking that cake wasn't the only thing he hadn't had in a while. He wasn't sure if he could keep his hands off of her if he stayed around much longer, especially with the effect the chill in the air was now having on her chest. "I left my gear up on the plateau and I don't want anything to happen to it," Ryuho then tried, hoping that she would simply say 'okay' and just let him leave before he did something that he may regret later.

He had no such luck…

"I know!" Mimori declared, smiling brightly before suggesting, "How about we eat the cake, while walking up to get your gear together!"

She had him there.

And before he could even think of something to deter her, Mimori had already made him promise to wait for her and rushed into the house. A few minutes later, the lady genius reemerged with a blue and white plaid blanket draped over her shoulders while carrying two plates, each holding a piece of chocolate cake. "Here you go," Mimori said, while handing one of the dishes over.

"Thank you," Ryuho replied with a small smile before noticing the fleece throw Mimori was 'wearing.' "Do you not have a robe or a jacket?" he questioned, raising an eyebrow.

"Both actually," she admitted with a light laugh before closing the door behind her. "I just didn't want to make you wait any longer then necessary, so I grabbed this off the ones left out for Kazuma."

"So, he's sleeping on the couch I take it?" he inquired before taking a bite of the dessert, while trying his best to appear casual. Inside, however, he was far from it. The question really was plaguing him and just couldn't help asking it.

"More like snoring on the couch," she muttered before laughing out. Her comrade chuckled as well before they turned, proceeding to make the short trek up to the plateau.

As the two walked, they ate while catching up with what the other had been doing over the past six years. First, Mimori told Ryuho how she started teaching the children of the area and helped Tachibana, whenever she could, with the distributing of supplies and rations to whoever needed them. She also mentioned how she would go with Kanami on the weekends to the neighboring farm and, on occasion, became the village physician. Then, upon reaching his things, the two sat as the viridian-haired man starting talking about his many altercations with both native Alters and the Mainland. And finally, once he ate the last taste of cake, he talked about the people that he helped along the way. Though, he did leave out some of the more debauched details.

Their reunion truly was a happy one as the two spoke easily with one another, like when they were children. While the both of them immediately realized that their connection, their bond was still just as strong as ever, much like their feelings. Together, they were complete.

"Thank you, for the cake. It was delicious," Ryuho declared, shifting left, as he set the plate on the ground before turning his complete attention back to Mimori. "Did Kanami make it?"

"Yes. She's a wonderful cook, isn't she," Mimori replied, smiling warmly as she set her own plate down. Then looking at the man sitting directly to the left of her, she added, "I'm surprised I haven't gained fifty pounds living with her!"

"And Kazuma advised me that he doesn't like her cooking," the Ryu heir supplied with a chuckle. "I've always known he was an idiot!"

"I agree with you there!" she laughed, her eyes twinkling. Then as their chuckles slowed, the dark-haired woman sighed contentedly as her gaze shifted to the night sky for the second time that evening. Only this time, a shooting star flashed through the sparkling mantle of indigo, much like the first night they met over thirteen years ago. "What a beautiful night," she murmured, lost in the moment.

"The stars, they seem so close, too," Ryuho whispered, remembering that first night, as well.

"You know," she began slowly, turning her head back toward Ryuho. Once her amber eyes met with his garnet ones, the two automatically started to lean closer together as she quietly supplied, "I was once told that it was because the higher elevation here on the Lost Ground."

"Oh really?" he muttered, leaning in even closer.

"Yeah…" the transfixed woman breathed, anticipating the moment to come. Their lips were only a breath apart now.

Then suddenly the master of Zetsuei pulled back and quickly rose from the ground while internally berating himself. He knew that kissing her would be a big mistake, especially since he had a feeling that it would be something entirely more than just a simple kiss. It would have been life altering. And he couldn't veer off from his chosen path. Not yet! No matter how tempting her full coral-tinted lips were. "I really should be going," he hastily advised, reaching for his brown satchel.

'Oh god, no…' Mimori thought in a panic as her eyes started to glisten. He was just going to walk away and she didn't know what to do to stop him! She hadn't felt so emotionally desperate in years and even prided herself with the fact. Then all it took was for Ryuho to spend a little time with her to have the sensation return full force. 'What to do?' she frantically thought, before pleading again, "Ryuho wait!"

Except this time he didn't stop. He continued to walk away.

Then she said the next thing that came to mind. "I know what you can give me for a birthday present!"

The Alter-user stopped, but like on the patio, he didn't turn around.

'Okay you have his attention, now what?' Mimori internally muttered while thinking that she needed to keep him near. Then without another thought, she blurted out, "You can spend the night with me!"