Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters from Kaze no Stigma and I don't wish to make a profit from writing this.

"Little Fears"

Ayano wasn't the brightest girl Kazuma had ever met. She was pigheaded, reckless and hardly put little thought into planning ahead. Kazuma didn't mind these faults of Ayano's too much, in fact finding them entertaining, and they made her such an easy person to tease. Besides, the girl had many other good qualities to even things out, her bravery being near the top. Kazuma was impressed by Ayano's ability to attack and kill a large snarling razor-toothed youma without hesitation. Few girls her age could do so without their knees buckling or giving at least one scream of terror. Not Ayano. She could probably stare into the face of death itself and not be scared.

This was why hearing Ayano scream like a girl in a horror movie worried him. It was a regular day for them. The pair went into a warehouse, where a youma was reported to have been lurking. They went in and found the youma almost instantly. The fight barely lasted a minute, given how weak the youma was. Ayano quickly slew the beast and it was over before Kazuma had a chance to drink his coffee.

"All right, let's go," Kazuma said lazily as he turned to leave. He began to wonder where Ayano was going to drag him for their dinner, when he noticed that she wasn't joining him. The girl stood shaking and quivering like a terrified kitten being confronted by a large dog.

"Ayano?" Kazuma looked to where the girl was staring, yet saw nothing to be upset about. The contractor sensed no other abnormal presences, so Kazuma was certain it could not have been another youma hiding within the warehouse. "Ayano, what are you..."

A sharp and ear piercing scream cut off Kazuma's question. Ayano raced and ducked behind Kazuma, clinging to his arm for dear life. "Get it away! Get it away!"

"Get what away?" Kazuma asked, annoyed that he was still oblivious to what was causing Ayano to be scared silly.

The next head of the Kannagi family pointed a shaky finger at her monster. Kazuma still couldn't see anything out of the ordinary, until he lowered his eye level. A few feet in front of him, munching harmlessly on a couple of seeds sat a grey mouse. The mouse was not large. In fact, Kazuma was quite certain he had seen golf balls bigger than the little creature. Struggling to keep a straight face, Kazuma looked to Ayano. "All of this is over a mouse?"

"I hate mice and rats," she cried, burrowing her face into his arm.

Unable to hold it in any longer, Kazuma let out his laughter. "I can't believe the next head of the great Kannagi family is frightened to death over a tiny mouse."

"Shut up!" Ayano snapped, blushing. "It's normal for girls to be scared of mice."

"Oh, and you're supposed to be considered a 'normal' girl?"

"Kazuma..." Ayano growled, but upon seeing the mouse buried her face into her protector's arm again. "Whatever! Just get rid of it."

Kazuma managed to suppress his laughter. "Do you want me to kill it?"

"Of course not!" She may have been scared of it, but she wasn't heartless. "Just...move it away from me."

Kazuma looked down at his whimpering companion. As funny as it was, it disturbed him to see Ayano so frightened. It didn't suit her. Plus, her sharp nails were starting to dig too deeply into his skin. It was beginning to hurt.

With barely a flick of his hand, Kazuma lifted the small mouse with a gentle breeze. The mouse, now puzzled as to why it was flying through the air, was whisked away through an open window and placed outside. "There," Kazuma declared mockingly. "The evil mouse is gone."

Ayano glared at her rescuer, then mumbled a "Thank you."

Kazuma greeted her thanks with a smug grin. "So, how long do you plan to keep hugging my arm?"

Ayano blinked, then it fully dawned on her how close she truly was to Kazuma and hastily let go. "Dammit! Why didn't you tell me how close I was?" she yelled, blushing madly.

"Oh, because you were too busy having fun screaming about the evil mouse."

Ayano glared, yet much to her annoyance, was unable to debate further.

"Honestly, if you're that scared of mice why don't you just get yourself a cat?"

"My father is allergic to cats as is yours I believe."

Kazuma chuckled. "Oh yeah, forgot the old man was allergic." He leaned in close to Ayano's face. "Well, in that case I guess I'll have to be your official cat and scare away any mice that get to close to you."

"Kazuma..." Ayano said, touched by his sudden thoughtfulness.

"But it's going to cost extra. A lot more considering how many mice and rats there are in the world to scare away."

"You jerk!" Ayano cried, punching his arm.

Kazuma laughed, quietly promising himself he wouldn't let Ayano get scared. It really didn't suit her.