Author's Notes: This is in no way related to my current fanfic series. This pairing was a challenge I gave myself just for fun. Enjoy.
By: Ghost of the Dawn
Mia's alarm went off and she sat up in bed. She had already been awake for a while, but that was the final signal she needed to get up. Today was the day. The day that came once every year without fail. Today she would turn twenty-five. Twenty-freaking-five. And on this day, like she did every year, she spent the morning evaluating her life thus far. She had a good job, teaching at the university. She would never need for anything with the money her parents and grandfather had left her. She had a good set of friends, all of which she hoped to see that afternoon. But still, something in her life felt...lacking.
She had a house, yes, but she still hadn't done anything with it. It was still all her grandfather's touch in every corner. How pathetic was that? She still couldn't move on and personalize her own house. It wasn't like she couldn't leave some things of her grandfather around, but she should still do something with it. Move some furniture around, get some new curtains, SOMETHING. Mia liked to think she just hadn't been able to get around to it yet. But was that all?
Nevermind, there wasn't anything she could do about it today. She had other plans. Jumping into the shower, Mia thought over all the things she had to do that day. Four of her guests would be coming at five. One of them would be here at three. She had a lot of cleaning and grocery shopping to do before then.
As the water poured down her face, Mia thought about her friends. The number of friends she had hadn't changed since she met them. With her job, she had acquaintances, but no real friends. And no real female friends to speak of. Was that odd at all? Was it strange to be that way? And what about her love life? All her friends were male, but she did not have a boyfriend. In fact, Mia never really had a serious boyfriend in all her twenty-five years. Sometimes, in the quiet loneliness of the night, or the drumming sound of the shower, that fact made her feel like a failure.
But why should it? Was her life really so lacking? She had a career and a house and friends. Why was a man so important for her to feel complete and accomplished?
Because I'm getting older, Mia kept telling herself. She knew deep down she wasn't THAT old. But years were going by faster and faster. Sometimes Mia feared one day she'd look up and she would be an old woman. And she would still be alone. Her body would fade, her looks would fade. She would soon have nothing to offer any man besides, what? Good conversation about the origins of an armor legend? HA! That was Mia. A party every time. She was so dull sometimes she couldn't stand it. No wonder she didn't have a boyfriend.
But all thoughts of self loathing needed to be put aside for the moment. She had other things to do. It took a while to dry her long hair. It was even still a bit damp when she got back from shopping later that afternoon. However, she had finished her "to do" list as soon as the doorbell rang.
Mia looked up at the clock in the kitchen. Three o'clock. Right on time. She opened the back door in greeting and feigned objection as she always did on this day at this time every year.
"Cye," Mia complained as she let him in. The young man had a bag full of groceries in his arms. "I told you, this year, I'm cooking."
"I know," Cye went through the practiced skit they always did. "But you're the birthday girl and I'm not going to let you do all the work on your birthday. So why don't you go put on that beautiful skirt that I know is waiting for you upstairs and I'll take care of everything."
He winked at her and Mia sighed in defeat. "Fine, but if you need any help AT ALL, don't hesitate to ask."
"Yes, yes. Fine, fine," Cye agreed and promptly shooed her out.
Mia chuckled as she headed for the stairs. He chased her out of her own kitchen every year. Though there were some years when he had to take Mia up on her offer and ask for help. Those were usually the years he brought Kento with him. Simultaneously cooking and keeping Hardrock's fingers out of it was a daunting task for a mere one person. It took Mia's extra glare to get Kento to stop trying to eat her cake mix before Cye could put it in the oven.
Kento hadn't come with Cye this year. Evidence that the Ronins were all growing up and going their separate ways. Kento and Cye's schedules just didn't coincide quite like they used to. But he and the others would all show up later. This meant Mia had two hours without any interruption to make herself stunning for her birthday party.
Aside from the growing older part, Mia really looked forward to this. It was about the only time she ever dressed up this much. Even when she went to special events at the university or the museum, she never dressed up this much.
Who am I trying to impress anyway? She thought at her mirror's reflection as she put on her make-up. She was sure she couldn't make them think any more highly over her than they already did. Especially not by putting on make-up and a short skirt. Or maybe, she was fishing for them to think of her more...differently...?
"No," Mia actually spoke that out loud as she shook her head. She couldn't think of any of them like that. They were family to her. Like brothers. Her sweet, loyal, adorable, caring brothers. All younger brothers at that. As Mia checked herself in the mirror for the last time, she reminded herself that's what they were to her. That's all that they were.
"Happy birthday!" all five shouted when she reached the stairs. Noise makers and confetti filled the air as well as whoops and cheers and whistles from five young men.
Mia stared. "Wow, this is new!" she marveled.
"Yeah, we all came early to decorate while you were getting ready," Ryo announced, very proud of himself.
"Yo, Mia!" Kento called, standing by the banister, arms out stretched.
Mia grinned. She knew what that meant. She hopped up on the banister and slid down into his waiting arms. Kento spun her around a few times and she laughed until he put her down.
"You look very lovely this evening, Mia," Sage said respectfully, offering her his hand.
"Thank you very much," she grinned back. "You all look very handsome tonight."
They were all dressed well. Even Cye had changed out of the clothes he was cooking in before the party.
"Cheers to Mia!" Rowen crowed, holding up a full champaign glass. He had already opened the bottle and poured himself a glass. "Twenty- FREAKING-five!"
Mia grinned; Rowen knew. He worked at a university as well. They were always e-mailing and messaging each other during their free time. Online, she probably talked to Rowen more than any of them these days. He knew how she felt about her birthdays.
Currently though, Cye was chewing him out for not waiting for everyone before opening the champaign. But that was something Mia knew about him. Rowen's job was pretty stressful for him. On the weekdays he took his job very seriously. And on the weekends he took relaxing even more seriously. It usually consisted of getting plastered at a party on Friday night and sleeping it off for the rest of the weekend. But that was how he worked; and if it worked for Rowen, it worked for Mia.
The group sat down for dinner. They laughed over food and talked about old times and new times. They each took turns catching up the rest on what they were doing: jobs, school, love life. Mia didn't have anything to contribute to the last one. Maybe next year.
After games and cake and more laughing, the party began to wind down. Cye was the first one to leave with many apologies for not staying to help clean up. He had to get up early with a long drive ahead of him tomorrow. Mia said that was fine with all he did in the preparation and he should go.
Soon after Rowen nearly dropped his face in Mia's cleavage and then successfully landed it in his cake. Sage announced it was time to drag his drunk ass home to sleep it off. Mia waved them off as Kento and Ryo began to help her clean up. Ryo had finished with the dishes when he glanced at the clock and sputtered a hasty good bye. He claimed if he wasn't home by a certain time, his grandmother would lock him out for the night.
"You don't have to stay if you don't want to, Kento," Mia said when he was the last one left. "I can finish that."
"No, it's fine." Kento paused from where he was sweeping up confetti. He gave a self conscious shrug. "To tell the truth, I'm not in that big of a hurry to go home."
Mia looked worried. "Is everything okay at home?"
"Oh! No, no!" Kento floundered. feeling bad for worrying her. "Everything is fine, really! It's just that...you know, the second I moved out of the house they gave my room to my sister. And even though my mom keeps saying I can move back home anytime, I really don't want to. Even just visiting for this weekend, I feel like I'm being crushed in there. I can't believe all of us used to fit in that house." He laughed. "I feel like there's not enough space there any more. Just staying there for the weekend kinda drives me stir crazy. But don't get me wrong, I love my family. I just don't want to live with them any more. I've gotten used to having my own space now, ya know?"
Though she really couldn't relate, Mia nodded. Then she thought of the time all five of them lived in her house and she chuckled. Maybe she could relate.
"Well, if you're ever in town and you need some extra space, there's always a room open for you here."
"Thanks Mia!" Kento grinned. "I'll probably take you up on that sometime."
"Anytime," Mia confirmed.
The house fell silent. Kento dumped all the confetti he could find in the trash bin while Mia cleaned the table and counters and put the last few things away in the kitchen.
"You know Mia, that really is a very sexy dress. And you look very sexy in it."
Mia turned around to find out Kento had been watching her. If it was any other man, she probably would have blushed and laughed stupidly in embarrassment. But it was Kento who said it.
"Thank you," she smiled and set back to work.
"Who did you wear it for?"
Mia paused longer that time. "Excuse me?"
"Was it for Sage?" Kento continued. "Maybe Ryo? Hell, it was probably for any one of them but me."
Mia took a step back as he stepped towards her. No, stalked towards her. Like a cat closing in a mouse. She was backed up against the wall with his hands on either side of her head. She was trapped. More by the seriousness of his face than the position of his body looming over her. Even from there, she could feel the raw power that body possessed radiating off of him.
"Kento..?" she asked softly. She wasn't afraid of him, but she was worried.
"Look Mia," Kento told her sternly. "What you think of me is your own business, but I ain't no one's little brother and I sure as hell ain't yours. So you can stop looking at me that way."
Mia just gaped at him, completely unprepared for what he just told her.
He leaned in, taking control of her mouth with his. The kiss went deep and Mia felt like she was falling for what felt like an instant and an eternity all at once. Then he pulled away and she was back in her kitchen and the world was in motion again.
"There," he smiled at her. "You may not think of me quite the way I would like, but you can't look at me that way any more. Little brothers don't do that kind of thing."
Mia didn't reply. She hardly had the strength to stand, let alone speak. They were both silent for several moments before Kento decided it might be best to move away. But as he did, Mia's shaking hands rose up to cup his face. Now it was Kento's turn to be stunned as she pulled him in and kissed him lightly. She was smiling as she pulled back and looked him in the face.
"I'm sorry I treated you that way," she whispered. "I didn't know. I love you all so much, I don't know how else to look at you and still keep my sanity around you. I won't look at you that way any more." Then she added as she snaked her arms around his neck. "Besides, I'm starting to like looking at you in this new way."
Mia could feel the tension suddenly leave Kento's body as he leaned in, resting his face against her neck.
"Good," he mumbled. "Because I don't know if now I could take you looking at anyone else."
She pulled his face up towards her and they kissed again. He put his strong arms around her and pulled her close to his body as they kissed deeper. Mia was drowning in his essence. He was so strong, so masculine. He made her feel small, dainty, feminine and beautiful. Her hands began to wander over him; his broad shoulders and strong back. His hands smoothed themselves over the silky material of her sexy dress.
Kento murmured in her ear that he had a suspicion she would look even sexier without her sexy dress. Mia smiled at him and, after a while, let him confirm it with his own eyes.
The sun shown down on Mia in her bed. There was no alarm today, she had turned it off. She smiled in the sunlight. It felt so good and her bed was so soft and warm. Even warmer than usual with the extra body heat under the covers. Mia lazily rolled over to see Kento was already awake and watching her.
"Good morning," she smiled at him, stretching under the covers.
"Morning," he said, a bit brief and hesitant.
Mia didn't seem to notice as she rolled on her stomach and sleepily watched him through half closed lids.
"So..." Kento drawled on. "Is this the uncomfortable morning after part?"
Mia giggled at him, running a finger down his arm. "Do you want it to be?"
"Well, no," Kento replied. "But I...I could leave any time you want me to if it starts to get, you know, weird."
Her reply to that was to crawl over to him and rest her head on his shoulder, drawing circles on his chest with one finger.
"Or," she offered. "You could stay and I could make breakfast..."
"Careful woman, you're tempting me," Kento warned.
"And then maybe we could go shopping."
Kento raised an eye brow at her. "Shopping?"
"Mmhm," Mia said as she sleepily closed her eyes. He was so warm. His skin felt so nice. "I want to get some new curtains," she yawned. "It's time to make this place a bit more like my own. Maybe you could help me move some furniture around..."
Kento smiled as Mia dozed lighting on his chest. He put an arm around her, stroking her hair.
"Yeah," he agreed. "I could do that."