So here we are with another continuation of "Simple as Snowflakes" and now also a continuation of "Cupid Confusion". I was having trouble with the idea of a one shot for Independence Day and since it is obviously after the fourth, that never worked out. Very late the night before Independence Day I was struck with this idea and started working hard at it. However life got in the way as it often does when I'm in a time crunch and the story obviously wasn't done in time. But I'm publishing the first half of it now to see if I should finish it and so its somewhat near the holiday it centers around. (Unlike "Cupid Confusion" this is only five days late, not five months o0)

I would recommend reading at least "Simple as Snowflakes" to get this story. There isn't a whole lot of reference to "Cupid Confusion" in this.

So yeah, enjoy and let me know what you think. Happy belated Fourth of July for all of those in the USA and…that's it! Barely edited cause I'm lazy like that and I edited it before so it shouldn't be too terrible!

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"I hate flying," Kimiko mumbled as she looked out the window at the passing clouds. They hadn't even made it to their final destination and she was already feeling jetlag. With another little moan she curled her feet up and tried to make herself more comfortable. That was on of the perks of a private jet, lots of stretching room.

"You ok over there Kimiko?" Keiko asked from a row over. Kimiko only responded with a small grunt and closed her eyes trying to rest up a bit. "Should you check on her?" Keiko asked softly to Raimundo who was sitting the row ahead of her.

"Hm?" Rai responded looking up from the book he was reading. "No," he answered turning back to his book, "she's better left alone."

"What happened to Mr. Doting?" Keiko asked leaning over the seats that separated them. "The way you've carried on since Christmas you'd think you were the most protective boyfriend in the world." Raimundo gave a tiny laugh under his breath.

"Yeah, and imagine how busy I'd be if she couldn't take care of herself?"
"She seems kinda bad off at the moment though," Keiko urged.

"I've flown with Kimiko enough to know that she and travel do not mix. She just had more than fifteen hours on a plane and now with hardly any down time she's heading for Texas. How'd you feel?" Keiko thought about her own flights back to Japan for visits with her extended family and shot Kimiko a sympathetic look.

"So that's why you didn't sit next to her," Keiko reasoned.

"Give the girl a prize," Raimundo mumbled and was smacked up the head for his troubles. "Man! What is it with girls and hitting me upside the head?" Rai asked finally turning to look at her.

"Maybe you rate it," Keiko laughed. Rai glared and opened his mouth to reply but Kimiko beat him to it.

"Would you two shut up! I'm trying to sleep here!"

"Ditto," a fourth voice complained.

"You're just being a baby Jermaine," Keiko shot back, "Kimiko's crankiness I can understand but you're just faking."

"I'm not going to even dignify that with a response," Jermaine said after a moment's silence. There was another pause, "Besides the one I just gave." Keiko laughed but quieted and Raimundo guessed she's put on some music and that left him with happy silence so he could read his book. His mind wandered from the pages however as his eyes wandered over to Kimiko. She'd planned on being in New York two days earlier but there had been some trouble at home that she hadn't elaborated on and she'd just arrived at JFK later in the morning. It had been planned, even before the end of the school year that that their group of friends would all meet up at Clay's ranch over the weekend of the Fourth of July for a party and some quality time. Kimiko, and her father, had generously offered the use of the company jet and so Kimiko had flown from Tokyo to New York to pick up Keiko, Jermaine, and Raimundo and take them all onto Texas. Of course Omi had also been invited but was on some Asian trek with his guardian and it wasn't plausible for Omi to return to the States.

After a few days on the ranch Kimiko and Raimundo would fly onto Rio for Raimundo's sister's wedding. Rai was planning on spending the rest of the summer in Rio and Kimiko was going to head back to Tokyo before returning to Mercer Academy in September. Rai watched as Kimiko shifted uncomfortably in her light sleep and couldn't help but think that there was more to her obvious moodiness then just jetlag.

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When their plane landed in the Houston airport it was the early evening and a light rain had developed.

"This is not good for my hair," Keiko said trying to tame the suddenly frizzing locks, dyed a patriotic red with white star barrettes covering various spaces.

"Texas is pretty steamy this time of year," Jermaine observed as the four walked through the terminal, "it's probably only going to get worse before it gets better."

"Thank you ray of sunshine," Keiko said rolling her eyes.

"I aim to please," Jermaine smiled back.

"I need Tylenol," Kimiko suddenly said out of the blue.

"You ok?" Rai asked slightly concerned.

"Headache," Kimiko told him monotone.

"I could have guessed that," Rai replied trying not to sound annoyed or hurt. Kimiko didn't respond but instead looked around and spotted a newsstand.

"Be right back," she told the three and dashed off without waiting for a reply.

"I'll go with her," Keiko told the two boys and took off after Kimiko.

"What's up with your girl?" Jermaine asked Raimundo.

"She doesn't travel well," Raimundo shrugged off, "she'd probably just whipped is all." Even though he'd said it Raimundo wasn't sure if he believed it. He hadn't seen Kimiko in nearly a month and while he'd been more then ecstatic to see her Kimiko's reception of him was lackluster at best. He watched her wait on line, bottle of water and aspirin in hand, speaking to Keiko and shaking her head softly at something her best girlfriend had said. Rai met her eyes when she suddenly looked over at him and then, realizing she'd been caught, looked away pointedly. Rai kept his eyes trained on her as she paid and walked back to where he and Jermaine waited, popping a few pills on the way.

"Come on," she said when she and Keiko reached the two boys, "the car should be waiting out front with our bags." Though Clay's family had offered to pick the four up, with the amount of luggage everyone had and the distance to Clay's ranch, Tohomiko Electronics had arranged for a car service. It seemed that the company had connections everywhere and it was a wonder to everyone that Kimiko stayed so grounded. The four moved in silence toward the exit of the fairly crowed airport even though it was still three days before the actual holiday.

"Oh great," Rai muttered when they stepped outside. The weather had worsened since they'd exited the plane and walked through the airport.

"Hope the rain doesn't keep up," Keiko said glancing around.

"Over there," Kimiko said pointing towards the end of the terminal where a man was hold a sign that said Tohomiko. Kimiko gave a little groan. "It's so embarrassing when they hold up those signs. As if I wouldn't know where to go with the company logo painted all over the car."

"Well it makes me feel all special and important," Rai said throwing an arm over Kimiko's shoulders.

Kimiko snorted and smiled for what seemed like the first time in a very long time. "Well next time the sign can say your name."

"Sounds good," Rai smiled back but immediately frowned as he watched Kimiko's face fall slightly.

"Come on, it's gonna be a long drive," Kimiko sighed as they reached the car. Kimiko exchanged a few words with the driver and then the four piled into the SUV where their bags were already waiting. Everyone was silent as the driver pulled out into traffic.

"You kids have a good trip?" the driver asked when they pulled on the highway.

"A little bumpy on the landing but otherwise ok," Rai answered when no one else spoke up.

"Well we should be drive out of this soon," the driver replied. "Anyone hungry? We can stop if anyone wants anything." The three other teens looked at Kimiko who blinked back.

"What? You guys can't answer for yourselves?" she said narrowing her eyes slightly.

"We just wanted to know if you were hungry," Keiko said frowning at Kimiko's reaction.

"I'm sorry," Kimiko apologized. "If guys are hungry we can stop but don't stop just for me."

"I think we're ok then," Rai told the driver who nodded and stayed silent. There was more silence after that. Rai glanced over at Kimiko who was looking out on the grey rain soaked landscape.

"Hey," he said softly sliding closer to her. They were sharing the third row seat so Rai didn't need to move very much to have their hips touching. Kimiko turned to look at him with heavy, tired eyes.

"What's up?" she asked.

"What's going on with you? Are you ok?"

"Yeah, just very tired," Kimiko said closing her eyes and leaning her head back on her seat. Her eyes opened again when she felt Raimundo's arm slip around her waist and pull her even closer.

"You should sleep then," he told her softly as he pulled her in. He felt her tense momentarily, like she was going to protest but then her body relaxed and he felt her rest her head on his shoulder.

"Thanks," she whispered and closed her eyes. Rai glanced down at her smiled sadly, realizing that she was already asleep. He looked up and saw Keiko and Jermaine glancing back at them over the seat. Rai just shook his head and looked back down at Kimiko wondering what else was going on in her head.

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The rest of the drive was uneventful and as the driver promised the rain let up early on in the ride. Kimiko slept the whole time, resting heavily against Raimundo who spent most of the trip just trying to keep his mind from going over what might be wrong with Kimiko, and tried to write it off just as the girl being tired. But he couldn't keep certain things from filtering through his head. Since the end of school Kimiko seemed to have been getting more and more distance from him. It certainly didn't help that Kimiko was halfway around the world but even in her emails and phone calls Raimundo could tell that something was off but couldn't pinpoint it. He hadn't wanted to bring it up but now that he saw how Kimiko was acting first hand he was more then a little concerned.

"Hang on kids, its going to get a little bumpy," the driver warned as he turned down the last road to the Bailey ranch. He wasn't lying and as they made their way down the unpaved road Kimiko was jolted awake.

"Not a very fun way to wake up," Kimiko said groggily rubbing his eyes. "I'm guessing we're there?" she asked looking around. It was nearly nine and the sun had just finished setting, leaving landmarks almost indistinguishable.

"Yup," Rai answered shifting slightly, working out the kink in his arm that had been pinned around Kimiko's waist. Kimiko noticed and apologized. "No problem," he smiled at her, "worth the pain."

"If you two start that up again I think I'll be sick," Keiko said sticking her tongue out at the two. Kimiko returned the favor.

"You're just jealous," Kimiko said in a sing song voice. Everyone's eyes subconsciously fell on Jermanie who luckily didn't have to respond because of the car came to stop.

"We're here folks," the driver stated the obvious and everyone began to pile out. Before Kimiko could make it out though Rai stopped her with a hand on her shoulder and pulled her back gently for a tender kiss on the cheek. He saw Kimiko smile back at him but there was a bit of sadness in her eyes that Raimundo couldn't blame on the light. He didn't press her though and let her slide out of the car, following close behind, coming out just in time to see Clay coming out of the lit up house.

"Hey guys!" he called coming over, shaking hands with Jermaine and Raimundo and then giving light hugs to Kimiko and Keiko. "Good to see you guys," he greeted with a huge smile

"Good to see you too," Jermaine said looking around. "Nice place."

"Wait till you see it in the daylight," Clay grinned. Raimundo and Kimiko had come to visit Clay before but it was Keiko and Jermaine's first time on the Bailey Ranch.

"Bags are all inside Ms. Tohomiko," the driver said coming back over.

"Thanks a lot," Kimiko said and then stepped off with him to the side and talked a bit more in private. Raimundo and the others turned their attention to Clay to grant Kimiko her privacy.

"How's your summer been Clay," Rai asked.

"Been good, been good. Same old same old," Clay nodded. "How was the trip?"

"Long," Kimiko said as she rejoined them and the driver got into the car. The group waved to him as he pulled away. "Long, long, long," Kimiko repeated after the car was out of sight and they started moving toward the house.

"I can bet," Clay agreed as he led them through the front door where they were immediately greeted boisterously by Clay's mother.

"Hello kids!" she practically bounced over to them. "How was your trip? Are you tired? Hungry? Can I get you anything?" The four new arrivals struggled for an answer but luckily Clay answered for them.

"Slow down Mom, they just got in. Give them a minute to catch their breaths."

"Nice to see you again Mrs. Bailey," Raimundo said stepping forward and was caught up in a warm hug from the friendly woman.

"Very good to see you again Raimundo. How's your family?"

"They're doing good," Rai answered with a tiny laugh.

"And Kimiko!" Mrs. Bailey moved on to Kimiko. "Good to see you again dear."

"It's nice to see you again too Mrs. Bailey," Kimiko responded as she also received a hug.

"And you must be Keiko and Jermaine," Mrs. Bailey turned her attention to the last two. "Welcome to my home!" Both thanked her profusely and seemed surprised when they both were hugged as well.

"Would you leave those poor kids be?" a new voice asked the teens turned to greet Clay's father.

"How are you Mr. Bailey?" Kimiko asked.

"How many times have I told you kids to call me Daddy Bailey?" the gruff man asked.

"Thanks so much for inviting us down and letting us stay with you," Jermaine said shaking the man's hand.

"No trouble at all," Mr. Bailey assured them.

"Can we get you kids anything?" Mrs. Bailey interrupted but before anyone could answer she went on. "Oh I know, Clay why don't we take you take your friends down to the basement and I'll bring you some snacks." Again, before anyone could react Mrs. Baliey had shuffled them along to a door and practically shoved them down the stairs.

"You're mom is, ahhh," Keiko struggled, "nice."

"She gets a little over excited sometimes but her heart is in the right place," Clay said slightly embarrassed.

"She's great," Kimiko said sincerely as the group walked down the stairs into the basement turned den.

"Sweet!" Jermaine said at the sight of a pool table. "I'm going to put you all in your place. I'm a pool wizard."

"Uh huh?" Keiko said with a roll of the eyes.

"Who wants to play?" Jermaine asked ignoring Keiko.

"Well I bet that I can take you all," a new voice said and everyone except for Clay jumped.

"Hey Jessie, I was wondering where you got to," Clay said looking at his younger sister. The blonde girl smirked from over the magazine she was reading on the couch.

"Good to see you again Jessie," Rai said recovering first.

"Howdy," Jessie replied standing and stretching.

"Jessie you remember Kimiko, Kieko, and Jermaine right?" Clay asked pointing each one out. Jessie had accompanied her parents last fall to help Clay move back into the dorm at Mercer and had met all of his friends then.

"Sure, whatever, now whose butt wants to be kicked first?" seeing their looks she added, "in pool."

"I'll take you," Jermaine said eagerly.

"And I've got next," Rai said cracking his knuckles.

"Boys," Kimiko whispered at Keiko who giggled.

"How about a pairs' game?" Clay suggested.

"Brother and sister against us two?" Rai said pointing between himself and Jermaine.

"Me and Clay? Oh hell no," Jessie shook her head.

"Come one Jess, you and I will show them how it's done in Texas," Clay urged. Everyone knew that Clay and Jessie had a somewhat strained relationship. Apparently Clay was trying to repair it in at least some ways.

"Fine," Jessie breathed heavily and then looked over at Keiko and Kimiko. "What about you two?"

"We'll take winner," Keiko answered for both of them and Kimiko didn't have it in her to argue it. Instead she settled on the couch to watch the four play. The game seemed to drag on and on for Kimiko who was dimly aware of Mrs. Bailey entering with snacks and leaving. Her mind felt full and empty at the same time and her eyes were growing heavier by the minute. She wasn't even aware that she'd fallen asleep until she awoke momentarily in Rai's arms as he carried her down a darkened hall to where she assumed was her bedroom during her stay at the ranch. She couldn't help but marvel at his solid chest and the warmth that seemed to radiate off of it. It was comforting, familiar, it made her feel whole.

'I need to stop,' she told herself she fought down tears. But she couldn't bring herself to do it; it was too wonderful to be in his arms. Raimundo settled her on the bed, removing her shoes and pulling the covers from underneath her and then back up over her. Then Raimundo sat on the bed as well and before she could stop herself Kimiko was leaning into her face into his caress. In her minds eyes she could see him smile and then felt him lean down, gently pressing his lips to hers.

"Goodnight Kimiko," he whispered against her lips once the kiss was over. And then he was gone, shutting the door silently behind him, and the emptiness returned.

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"Aren't there child labor laws in this country?" Keiko asked Clay when he walked into the kitchen later in the morning.

"This is a working ranch," Clay said as he sat down at the table with them. "I've been up for three and a half hours."

"During the summer that's insanity," Jermaine said with a shake of the head.

"Well I like it," Clay told them sitting down. "It's nice to help the family and I miss this kind of stuff when I'm up at school."

"How much more do you have to do?" Kimiko asked Clay as she continued to pick at the breakfast that Mrs. Bailey had laid out for them.

"Daddy gave me the afternoons off while you guys are here so after lunch we can hang out. Which means," Clay said glancing at the clock that only read nine thirty, "I need to get back to work."

"You need any help?" Raimundo asked.

"Thanks for the offer but you guys are guests, plus you'd just slow everything up."

"And what's that suppose to mean?" Rai asked sounding slight offended.

"Just thinking there's no way you lot could keep up with farm work is all," Clay said slowly casting a glance at Kimiko who was biting her lip to stay quiet.

"And what would that 'lot' be?" Keiko asked.

"City folk, not that there is anything wrong with being from the city," Clay said quickly, "I just know you aren't up to the same sort of hard work country folk are."

"I promise you that a New Yorker could do anything a Texan could," Jermaine said the challenge reading clearly in his eyes.

"I'll believe that when I see it," Kimiko added to help Clay's cause.

"Fine then," Rai said standing up. "Come on Jermaine. Let's show Clay how its done." The two boys hurried from the room to change and Kimiko finally let out a giggle.

"That's pretty damn pathetic," she said shaking her head and taking another sip of juice.

"What is?" Keiko asked confused.

"Clay used that same method on me and Rai the last time we visited him," Kimiko explained and then grinned at Clay. "I can't believe he fell for that again." Clay smiled back.

"He didn't," Clay answered, "I asked him earlier to trick Jermaine into it."
"So you're tricking them into working for you?" Keiko asked surprised.

"Just a few little things," Clay laughed. "It's good for them anyway!" he tried to validate after seeing Keiko's questioning look.

"Ready to go!" Jermaine said when he and Raimundo reentered the room dressed for work.

"Sounds good," Clay nodded and lead them out the door.

"We'll be out in a few minutes," Kimiko called after them.

"Sounds good," Raimundo said winking at her as he walked out.

"And why are we going out after them?" Keiko asked when the boys were gone.

"Better then sitting around in here," Kimiko reasoned.

"Speak for yourself," Keiko grumbled and silenced under a look from Keiko. "Alright, onto a different topic," Keiko started again, "what's up with you?"

"Meaning?"

"I mean what's up with you? You seem a bit off."

"Nothing," Kimiko shook her head, "just jetlag."

"Umm yeah," Keiko murmured unconvinced but choosing not to press it.

"Come on let's get changed."

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"Why didn't you warn me a skirt was a bad idea?" Keiko asked after they'd finished their lunch.

"I thought it was kind of obvious," Kimiko said trying to contain a laugh. She knew she should have told Keiko to change the moment the girl emerged from her room in a full cowgirl outfit, very similar to the one Kimiko had worn on her first trip to Texas. Kimiko had learned very fast that cowgirl skirts, while cute, weren't actually functional on a real ranch.

"Cruel," Keiko said sticking her tongue out at her best friend. Kimiko just laughed again and slid into the adjoining bathroom with her bathing suit. Since they'd helped Clay finish up their morning chores they five friends were heading to an "old fashioned swimming hole".

"I've never been in a 'swimming hole' before," Keiko continued talking through the door.

"Clay took me and Rai there last time. Its pretty nice there," Kimiko called back.

"Last time you were here you and Rai weren't going out," Keiko mused.

"Yeah, last summer," Kimiko answered, "seems like forever ago."

"Big year," Keiko grinned when Kimiko came back out.

"Yeah," Kimiko replied in a sigh that was more then just whimsy. Keiko could tell that there was something more there but before she could ask more on it there was a knock on the door.

"You ladies decent in there?" Rai called from the other side.

"Coming guys," Kimiko called back.

"Come in?" Rai asked opening the door.
"No you pervert!" Keiko called back even though there as nothing to hide. Raimundo stuck his head in and grinned almost lecherously.

"What are so scared of me seeing?"
"You have a girlfriend you freak," Keiko said shoving past Raimundo and into the hall, walking past to the kitchen where the others were waiting.

"You just love to get a rise out of her don't you?" Kimiko asked shaking her head and bending over her bag to make sure she had all her things. Rai's arms were suddenly around her waist, drawing her into a tight hug. Conflict suddenly raged in Kimiko's mind and for a moment she considered pulling away but she just couldn't bring herself to do it. She only had some much time left like this and she wanted to savor it. Feeling his lips press to where her neck and shoulder joined Kimiko tilted her head to the side and leaned back heavier on his chest.

Kimiko couldn't help the tiny moan of disappointment that escaped her throat when Raimundo removed her lips. She'd felt a chuckle rumble in his chest as he laughed lightly.

"And here I thought you hadn't missed me," he whispered against the shell of her ear. Kimiko pouted slightly and turned in his arms

"Of course I missed you," she said batting her eyes at him and then raised on her toes to press their lips together.

"As nice as this is," he said breaking the kiss, "the others are waiting for us."

"They can go on without us if they're so eager."

Something about the way Kimiko said 'eager' sent a thrill through Raimundo's body and despite the fact that he knew they should be joining the others he leaned down for another kiss, the passion quickly picking up.

"Yo you two, wow," a voice broke in and it took Raimundo a moment to register that Kimiko had pulled back. "Sorry guys," Jermaine said from the doorway as he scurried back to the kitchen.

"Well damn," Kimiko breathed still clinging tightly to Raimundo. Rai laughed at her statement and tightened his arms momentarily before letting go and grabbing her bag off the bed.

"I guess we need to get going," he said catching her hand with his free one. He glanced back at her surprised to see that same troubled, far away look in her eyes that seemed to be common place since they'd meet up in the JFK airport the day before. "Hey," he stopped getting her attention.

"What's up?" Kimiko asked curiously.

"You ok?"
"Are we going to get into that whole thing again?" Kimiko asked annoyed.

"What thing?" Rai asked confused.

"The 'Kimiko are you ok' thing?" Kimiko explained.

"I'm just concerned about you is all," Rai said narrowing his eyebrows. "You're acting kind of funny."

"Thanks a lot," Kimiko said taking her hand out of his and trying to walk past him.

"Hey, hey, hey," he said catching her arm again. "I'm not trying to make you angry. I'm just worried about you." Kimiko sighed heavily.

"I know I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap, Kimiko apologized. "I'm fine really," she told him turning back to look at him, "don't worry about me. I just want us to have fun here and in Rio."

"You'd tell me if you weren't ok right? Let me know if I could help you at all?" Rai asked.

"Promise," Kimiko nodded with a smile. "Now come on, the others are waiting!"
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"Hey Clay," Keiko asked as they climbed out of the truck they'd parked next to the 'swimming hole' that was really more of a small lake then a 'hole'.

"What's up Keiko?" Clay asked helping Jermaine distribute the towels they'd brought from the bed of the truck.

"What's that over there?" Everyone looked over to where Keiko was pointing across the lake. "I thought you said no one lived out here."

"They don't," Clay answered. "That's the old Anderson place. Someone owns it and uses it as a vacation house but they haven't been out this way in years. Someone comes out every so often for the upkeep but now on lives there. Local kids break in all the time, use it as a party house."

"Really? Wow, that's kinda cool," Jermaine said hoping off the trunk. "Something out of a sitcom."

"Sure it is," Clay said rolling his eyes.

"I get it," Kimiko giggled. "It's like your town's version of make out hill or something like that." Clay blushed slightly.

"That's kind of outside the point," Clay said uncomfortably.

"Aw you're embarrassing the cowboy," Keiko laughed. "Never taken a girl over there?"

"That's enough you guys," Clay said pulling his hat down further over his eyes.

"Speaking of girls you still talking to Hannah?" Raimundo asked.

"Um," Clay blushed brightly, "yeah. We talk a bit." Everyone exchanged knowing looks and grinned. "Now that's enough of that," Clay repeated uncomfortably.

"Who knew that Clay would fall so hard?" Keiko teased practically beaming up at the big cowboy.

"Ah," Clay struggled but Keiko went on.

"I can't wait to get to know Hannah better," Keiko continued, "we didn't get to spend a whole lot of time with her with the SATs and all. We'll have a girls' night; me, her, and Kimiko. We'll talk you up about how much of a gentleman you are and everything."

"Now you're making me blush," Clay said, his face confirming his words.

"She's really laying it on thick," Jermaine whispered to Kimiko and Raimundo when Keiko and Clay had gotten slightly ahead of them.

"What do you mean?" Raimundo asked.

"You'd think she'd like him or something," Jermaine grumbled.

"Well I wouldn't blame her," Kimiko said, "Clay's a catch."

"Oh?" Raimundo asked intrigued. "Did you forget you have a boyfriend and that he is standing right next to you?"

"Yes," Kimiko answered and then went on. "Clay's a gentleman, handsome, smart, kind, WAHH! Rai put me down!" Kimiko screamed out the end of her sentence because Raimundo had suddenly picked her up and hoisted her up over his shoulder. "Put me down!" Kimiko screamed again as she dumped her bag and tried to use her hands to break free of Rai's hold on her. She let out another scream when she realized what he was down as he walked to the water's edge. "Don't you even think about it!" Kimiko warned as Raimundo continued into the water up to his knees. She could hear laughing at shore and decided she'd need to kill her so called friends at her earliest convenience. Kimiko let out on last shriek as Raimundo picked Kimiko off his shoulder and into the water, arms failing in a desperate attempt to right herself but to no avail.

Kimiko came up sputtering and glaring.

"You're dead Pedrosa," she coughed as she resurfaced. The water wasn't really deep enough to completely submerge but it was enough that she inhaled a healthy amount of water. "I hate you," she continued to cough. Raimundo grinned and extended a hand to help her up. Knowing she couldn't pull him down as much as she wanted to Kimiko accepted the hand and hoisted herself up. "Jerk," she muttered once she was on her feet and pulled her shirt, which was plastered to her body, up and over her head as she walked past him back onto the beach. Despite the fact that he'd known Kimiko for the better part of his life Raimundo had very rarely seen the girl in a swimsuit and now that she was dripping wet in a bikini top and jean shorts he found the sight reeking havoc on his hormones.

"You going to just stand out there all day?" Kimiko yelled back at from dry land.

"Um," Rai struggled for an answer as he sloshed back toward Kimiko and the others. Kimiko was bent over, collecting her things that had been dumped out when Raimundo had grabbed her, when Raimundo reached her.

"You look very good in your bathing suit," he bent and whispered into her ear. Kimiko straightened like a shot and turned her eyes on him. There was a heated moment before both looked away, blushing slightly.

"You two done being all mushy?" Jermaine called.

"The three of you are going to get it!" Kimiko promised as she and Rai walked to where everyone had laid their towels down.

"And why's that?" Clay asked nonchalantly.

"Cause none of you came to my rescue when this idiot," she jerked a finger in Raimundo's direction, "dumped me into the water."

"I didn't see anything?" Keiko said innocently batting her eyes. "Did you boys?"

"No," Jermaine and Clay answered in unison, barely containing their smiles.

"If I recall," Raimundo added with a huge grin that he made no attempt to hide, "you tripped and fell into the water." Kimiko snorted at the four and sat moodily on her own towel. She felt Raimundo settle his own towel next to hers and then lay down beside her. All was silently forgiven amongst the friends and talk started up with seemingly random topics ranging from the coming school year to movies everyone had gone to over the summer.

"Well I'm hot," Keiko said some time later during a break in conversation. "I'm going in for a swim. Anyone want to join?"

"I'm up for a swim," Jermaine said hoping up.

"Me too," Clay agreed.

"I'll be there in a second," Kimiko called, "I want to get a drink of water."

"I'll be there in a second too," Rai chorused and followed Kimiko back under the trees where they'd parked the truck in the shade and left the cooler.

"You want a bottle too?" Kimiko asked when Raimundo reached her.

"You look really good in your bathing suit," Raimundo repeated.

"You ain't half bad yourself," Kimiko grinned as she dug through the cooler in search of an elusive bottle of water. She paused in her search when she felt his fingertips on her hip. Slowly, she turned her head toward him and their eyes met. Whether he'd moved first or she had, or maybe they had moved together, Kimiko wasn't sure all she knew what that his mouth was on her urgently and she was somehow pinned between him and the side of the truck. Kimiko hands slipped around his neck, clasping together behind his head as his arms locked around her waist. They continued on like this, the heat building between them, for a few minutes before reality set back very suddenly onto Kimiko and she realized the position they were in. Some how, without knowing it, she'd wrapped her legs around his waist while one of Raimundo;s hands had wandered dangerously north, playing with the edging of her top and the other to cup her bottom as his lips surely left a trail down her neck.

"Rai," Kimiko said in a voice that sounded more like a moan then a demand. "Rai," she tried again with a bit more urgency. "Raimundo stop," she said slightly louder shoving her hands against his shoulders and planting her feet firmly on the ground.

"What?" Rai asked in a slightly dazed voice. He looked at her with clouded eyes and Kimiko looked away pointedly.

"Just, that's enough Rai," she struggled to say as she broke from his grasp.

"Kimiko, what's wrong?" Rai asked slightly breathless.

"You, you didn't stop when I said to," Kimiko said keeping her back to him.

"I didn't mean to, I'm sorry I just didn't hear you. I didn't realize you were uncomfortable," Raimundo said feeling pained in his chest seeing her look so shaken. Had he done that? "Kimiko," he tried reaching out for her but she stepped away.

"I'm sorry too, I shouldn't have let it go that far. But," she trailed off.

"I'm all in the wrong here Kimiko please don't apologize," Raimundo said almost desperately.

"I shouldn't have led you on," Kimiko shot back almost immediately.

"But," Rai tried to go on but Kimiko stopped him.

"Damn it Rai just let it go!" she almost shouted as she turned back to face him. Rai looked back at her hard.

"Something else is going on here Kimiko," he said slowly and seriously. "What's wrong?"
"Just drop it," Kimiko said shaking her head.

"Are you sure?"

"Just let it go Rai," Kimiko insisted, "let's just forget this."

"But I don't want to forget this," he looked away in an almost embarrassed manner, "it was nice." There was a moment's pause before Kimiko answered.

"It was but we can't," she said softly.

"That's fine," Raimundo answered immediately looking back as her. "I totally get it. I don't want to feel any sort of pressure or anything right now." Kimiko shook her head glumly in response. "I'm serious," Rai insisted. "I'm more then happy with the way our relationship is right now. And I'm not going anywhere." He shot her a grin. "We've got all the time in the world."

Kimiko bit back a sob at his words and Raimundo's eyes went wide with concern.

"Kimiko!" he darted for her. "What's wrong? Are you ok? Are you hurt?" He would have gone one asking questions but Kimiko almost violently shoved his opening arms away.

"I just, just need a minute," Kimiko said fighting down tears. "Please just give me a minute."

"But what's wrong?" Rai asked, his eyes narrow with a mix of concern and fear.

"Just go Rai," Kimiko ordered him.

"I'm not moving till I know what's wrong with you," Rai bit back.

"I need space for a minute!" Kimiko yelled back.

"Not until I know you're ok!"
"I'm fine," Kimiko hissed and Raimundo gave a sarcastic laugh.

"Like I believe that," he scoffed.

"Fine! You want to know what's wrong with me?" she seethed.

"I think that's obvious!"

"I want to break up!"

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o0. So should I continue this? I cut it off mainly just to get something out. It's past the Fourth of July but this isn't really a story centered around what Independence Day is. More like it's convenient that the Fourth is happening at that point in time. Let me know what you guys think!

Please review as I go work on the next chapter of "Into the Rush"