by the Black Rose

AN: This is about as close to a drabble as I think I'm generally capable of. 1000 words. thud Set, for those of you watching the series, during episode 5, where Suzaku and Yuffie (aka Euphemia li Britannia, the 3rd Imperial Princess of Britannia) meet for the first time, have a nice sightseeing (montage) date, and then she asks him to take her to see the destroyed 'ghetto' of Shinjuku (the battleground in episodes 1-3). At this point in time, Suzaku (who is the son of the last Prime Minister of Japan - before it was taken over by Britannia - and a 'knight' in the Britannian army) has no idea that Yuffie is a princess (despite the fact he calls her one). In the episode, Yuffie makes her request (to go to Shinjuku), then we cut to commercial break, insert pieces of storyline from another plot thread, return to Yuffie and Suzaku already in Shinjuku. This takes place in between Yuffie's request and arriving at Shinjuku.

Thanks to those of you that will read it. Love, Rose

Suzaku's side throbbed from the wounds he'd sustained during his 'interrogation'. Walking all over this part of the city probably wasn't helping. His feet were beginning to ache, and the strings on his duffel bag felt like they were cutting into his shoulder. He adjusted the bag for a hundredth time as he glanced around the area just outside the elevated rail station. Yuffie stood near a large billboard of the "Area 11" beach; the sign stretched for several meters, displaying a scenic picture of Japan's shoreline slipping beneath kilometers upon kilometers of sparkling blue water. She stared into the image as if she could see the tongues of water where they lapped against the shore.

People filtered past them – Elevens, Britannians…they looked the same.


"When we're like this, it doesn't seem too different than being in Britannia."


She straightened her shoulders and her left hand caught her right arm just below her elbow. She held her arms behind her back. Her head tilted up. Then to the right. Her hair billowed in the light wind along with her long skirt. She turned around, her eyes glancing one way and then the other. His heart leapt into his throat. Was she was looking for him?

Her gaze met his across the crowded location, and he realized just how far away from her he really was. When had he stopped moving?

Yuffie smiled. Suzaku hastened towards her.

"Suzaku," her pink lips parted, and he couldn't help but like the way—"Could you take me to one more place?" Yuffie's pronunciation and request was polite, formal.

Suzaku grinned. "You may request anything of me, princess." He tossed his bag to the ground to hold up his right arm at a ninety-degree angle. He gave her a half bow. Suzaku glanced up at her face, expecting her to smile again or even laugh – but her expression… Her blue eyes stared in the direction of the ground, her eyelids lowered. Yuffie's mouth curved down. Something about the sight felt like someone had just punched him in the stomach. When did I—

"Then to Shinjuku."

He couldn't stop the gasp from escaping his throat. Suzaku stared at her. Whatever he was expecting…Another shopping mall? A museum? He didn't expect her to ask to see the site of the recent massacre.

"Please show me Shinjuku, Suzaku Kururugi." Her eyebrows dipped to a point above her blue eyes, and her voice sounded equal parts ice and steel.

He rose to his full height. "That's not a place for a princess. At least, not right now." He bent down to retrieve his bag then started to turn away. "Maybe another—"

"I can't explain to you exactly why I need to see it. I thought, before I met you, that I would be able to go on my own, if it came to that." Her voice rose to call out after him, then dipped to sound like something...vulnerable. She reminded him of the cat they'd found - once it was in her arms. It seemed gentle, tame, but it would still attack if threatened.

Suzaku turned back to face her. Yuffie didn't look like she had sharpened teeth.

"But I…I'm a little afraid…" She clasped her hands together at her waist. "I'd feel much better if you went with me, Suzaku."

"I…Y-you mean you'd go? On your own?"

"Yes. It is someplace I must go," she said in a voice barely above a whisper.

He stepped closer. "I don't understand." He could reach her, put his arm around her waist and— He shook his head. "You said you wanted to—"

"I must see the site where Britannia's soldiers murdered those Elevens. And I must see the place where Prince Clovis died." She raised her chin and met his gaze. Her eyes flickered. "This is not a whim, Suzaku. It is where I set out to visit today. The only place I intended to go." She turned towards the large billboard again. The beach scene was so serene…

Yuffie would definitely like someplace like that.

"But, I admit that when I saw the concern in your eyes…I wanted to know more."

Suzaku sighed. A soft breeze lifted pink tendrils of hair. Something pulled at the bottom of his heart, tugging it in the direction of the floor. Couldn't she ask him to…Take you someplace nice, Yuffie? "It's not really a tourist attraction. They haven't even finished excavating the bodies. I don't think—"

She turned and lifted her head. Her eyes…they still seemed sad. "I'll be fine."

"I won't let you go on your own."

Yuffie nodded and looked away. "I suspected that would be the case." Her hands wrung together at her waist. She opened her mouth as if to say something, then closed it. Her front two teeth showed between her lips.

What is she hiding?

He felt her hand sliding across his right forearm. "I'd like you to go with me, Suzaku." He caught her fingers with his left hand. She gasped and looked up at him.

"I don't know what you're hiding from me, Yuffie. Or why."

Her mouth curved up, but her eyelids lowered. The expression seemed wistful, but only for a moment. "It's nothing to be concerned about. It's not…hurtful, or dangerous. I promise." She nodded.

That weight, that something, pulling at his heart felt like it doubled in strength. He wanted to believe her, but—

"I know I have no right to ask you. And you've already been so kind to me…" Her gaze held his as she spoke. His heart raced. "But do you…"


"You're famous. The son of Captain Kururugi, Private Suzaku Kururugi."


Yuffie's eyes looked clear, genuine…


"Today is my last day off," she said in a cheerful voice, "and I wanted to see what sort of place Area 11 is."

"Then it didn't have to be me," he said. For some reason, the thought made him feel—


"Could you trust me, Suzaku?" Yuffie's hand slipped against his palm, her fingers falling from his grasp. She turned away, and once again, he realized how far from her he really was.


"No, I'm glad it was you."


He took a deep breath as he gently grasped the top of her arm. When her eyes turned his way, he gave her a smile. "Come on," he bent his head to peer at her over the tops of his sunglasses. "We'll have to catch the train."