Standard disclaimers apply.


By Cassandra's Destiny


Desiderata: plural; something that is desired or felt to be essential


He didn't even know why he came that night.

He has been suffering from lack of sleep since three nights ago, and it has made him crankier and more irritable than usual, not that Recca and the others have noticed. When the school bell rang that afternoon, signaling the end of the term, Recca and Domon approached him, telling him it was high time to celebrate; drink with friends, they said. Tokiya thought of it as loads of bull; he'd rather catch up on his sleep than spend the night babysitting monkeys who had a little too much to drink. To his annoyance, Recca heard nothing of it. "You can sleep for days after tonight," he said with finality before walking away with his friend.

He scoffed. They're obviously taking advantage of the lowering of the legal drinking age.

Clutching the back of his head for a moment, he let out a heavy sigh. His muscles were sore, shoulders tensed, hands shook involuntarily – all these, he believed, were effects of sleep deprivation. In a matter of minutes, he was half-expecting himself to begin yawning severely, getting dizzy, having hallucinations and losing concentration.

Yet he was half-expecting himself to overcome those physiological effects without even trying.

True, he had aching muscles and tensed shoulders, but he was neither seeing things that were not there nor failing to give his full attention to what was in view. He had absolutely no trouble concentrating on how much he hated what she wore.

He hastily emptied his shot glass when he glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes. He felt his muscles tightened at the sight of her leaning over the counter to order a drink; a deep breath when another man spoke with her, clearly infatuated. Sitting uncomfortably, Tokiya shifted slightly, attempting to gain some sort of control over how uneasy he felt. He could blame his lack of sleep; after all, it leads to irritability and general confusion. But no, he had already decided the culprit was her outfit.

It was an open-back halter top with a deep-plunge draped front, dark green in color with thin chains of silver and rose. Her jeans were sinful and he hated it. It was a little too skinny, a little too slim fit, a little to low rise. All these he noticed unconsciously, including her side cutout pump, black in color with gold metallic heels.

It was almost frightening how much he knew about what she was wearing.

"Mikagami, have another!" Domon offered him another shot, and he drank it reflexively, eyes still fixed on her.

The gang, as Recca referred to it, was having a conversation about what to do over the long break. They were speaking to him, of course, a string of nonsense Tokiya ignored. He was too busy fighting down his suddenly doubled dislike for her outfit, and all the men attempting to hit on her.

His eyes narrowed as another man approached her, mumbling what Tokiya was sure to be pick-up lines from a witless internet dating site. He was tall enough, shoulders broad, skin tanned, hair scruffy and untamed. A buff football player, he concluded.

She wouldn't give him the time of day.

A small smile graced his lips as he saw her push him away, mouth moving a mile a minute to accommodate her sharp tongue. When the man reached out his hand to touch her, he wanted to punch the daylights out of Mr. Football Star there, but he knew she can deal.

Miki was an Uruha assassin after all.

She slapped his hand and pursed her lips, raising an irate eyebrow to give him the hint. She clearly was not interested.

He had known from the beginning the guy was an airhead, a jock who lets his arousal make the decisions for him. Tokiya's view on the man only worsened when he took a step forward, a stupid grin on his face, his other hand running down her bare arm. His stomach twisted violently. The very thought of another man touching her made him sick, and he can honestly say he was fuming inside.

"Is anything wrong, Mi-chan?" It was Fuuko's voice that brought his attention back to the gang. "You look angry."

Following her line of vision, he noticed he was gnashing his teeth and the glass he was holding onto was at the point of shattering into tiny pieces. He made a face that says you must be kidding, I'm calm as ever. She shrugged and returned to talking to Yanagi, who, at the moment, was substituting a mango shake for alcoholic beverages.

He was on the edge of his seat when he realized Mr. Football Star was no longer in a two-feet pole from her. Scanning the crowd, he noticed a commotion near the entrance. A man was being escorted out by security – he was tall enough, shoulders broad, skin tanned, hair scruffy and untamed. His best feature, in his opinion, was his broken arm.

Tokiya smirked and brought down his glass on the table, producing an audible thump on the hard wood. He was willing to bet his dead sister's memory she twisted his arm, then pulled off the distressed belle act to lure the guards into kicking the man out.

Cunning and calculating, he noted. "Yet naïve and playful."

He managed to lock eyes with her for the first time that night, and she only parted her lips as if to speak, then pressed them into a fine line.

In a robotic fashion, eyes still fixed on her, he accepted a larger glass from Recca and held it firmly as he poured him some liquor. He tilted his glass to and fro, creating a soft rattling noise from the cubes of ice hitting each other. He wondered what she was doing in a place like this, dressed like that.

Perhaps it was by order of Kurei, sending her in a mission to spy on Recca and the rest of the Hokage. The idea of her fulfilling Uruha business did not bother him. He was only too content Kurei has finally caught on to their game. It was nearly impossible for him to not notice what has been happening under his nose, and if he didn't get the idea sooner, he would have had lost all deference he held for the man's authority and power.

It has been a year since he began seeing her in secret, months since they've gotten past the initial stage of awkward silences and inhibitions. He'd sneak in to see her almost every night in the very Uruha mansion. They'd be quiet about it, cautious not to get caught while engaged in private matters, prudent enough not to earn the spite of Miki's sisters. It's not as if they'd forbid him to be within a two-mile radius from the girl, and even if they did, he would be hell bent in defying them. However, Miki was resolved in telling him she did not want Neon and Aki to hate him more than they already do.

How they met again after the Ura Buto Satsujin was not an issue; they were in an unregulated fight – he as a Hokage and she as an Uruha. How they encountered each other outside battle was far from unconventional; pretty messed up given the circumstances. He was infiltrating the mansion with the others and she saved him from getting caught, all the while finding themselves stuck together in a broom closet with her in a towel, dripping wet, both waiting a long while for the commotion outside to die down. How they ended up together was pretty messed up too, but that was a story for another day.

Tokiya emptied the contents of his glass in a single gulp, the liquid filling his throat with a burning sensation. Without word, he stood from his seat and marched to her direction, leaving the gang dumbfounded and guessing on what has been bothering him all night.

He stopped dead on his tracks when she was within arm's length. Giving her a once over and taking in every detail of her, he inhaled slowly.

He decided he hated her perfume too.


She looked at him over her shoulder and shot him a look. "Hey yourself."

"Is the seat taken?" He wasted no time waiting for her response. Eyeing her again, he instead leaned forward and ordered a drink. "So, what brings you here?"

He watched her finger the edges of her salt-rimmed glass. "The same thing that brings me here every week: good music, good beer, and hot guys." She winked.

At the mention of men, Tokiya felt a strange part of him flare to life, something that grew angry and virtually homicidal at the sight of Miki with another man.

Shrugging it off, he shifted slightly on the seat he had taken over, moving his hand to take his drink. It was a lie, after all. She told him time and again she hated large crowds and loud music, and she despised the taste of beer. As for being with hot guys, he knew she'd tease and flirt, but she draws an indubitable line there. In fact, this was made clear to him by her reaction the first time he tried to kiss her.

He felt a pang of guilt at the memory of that afternoon. To think the last thing he wanted was to scare her away and—

"Rusty nail, interesting choice."

He couldn't help but smirk. "Scotch whisky on the rocks, what could be better?" Gulping a mouthful of his beverage, he let out a soft exhale. "Are you up for a Black Russian?"

He waited for an answer, but she gave none. He'd expected at least a nod. Rather, he had to gesture to her side, making her turn around and lock eyes with a blonde man who was four seats away.

The bartender placed a glass of Black Russian in front of her. She only rolled her eyes and rejected it flatly.

"You'd prefer a brunette buy you a drink?"

"I'm fine with my Cadillac Margarita, thank you very much." She turned and faced him. "I don't exactly appreciate random guys buying me drinks."

"You can't blame them." Tokiya peered at her top as if in scrutiny. It didn't matter if the draped front was neither too loose nor too tight. It was deep, deep-plunge and he hated it. "Mind if I buy you another round of Margarita?" His gaze traveled to her skin-tight jeans, pausing a moment on her shapely legs, then down to her sinful pumps.

Feeling the weight of his stare, she tried to take a sip without making her hand shake. "What makes you think I'll be staying long enough for another round?"

His gaze trailed up her neck, then his eyes became victims of her luscious lips. "You'll be here until Recca and the others leave."

Sipping her drink, she shifted again, stretching out her legs for comfort. "I could be sitting at home, you know, or training with Miss Neon or Aki. Master Kurei just had to send me here, with a chaperone too."

At the mention of the word chaperone, he lifted a brow in confusion. Immediately, she understood what he meant, and pointed to the far end of the bar. "Let's just hope Fuuko spots him soon."

It was Raiha.

"He is your chaperone?"

"Don't make it sound so terrible; it's not his fault he was asked to tag along. Master Kurei and Miss Neon didn't exactly approve of how they found us two nights ago. We were caught, remember?"

Clearing his throat and taking another sip of his drink, he nodded. Of course he remembered. Who could forget the reactions of their interlopers? Kurei's straight face faltered momentarily and Neon went ballistic; her angry shrill still rang in his ears.

"Cosmopolitan from the gentleman in table three."

Jerked out of his recollections, he watched Miki as she hurriedly glanced at the man who bought her a drink. "You think he'd get the hint if I don't touch the glass?" Her voice was filled with a mix of innocence and indifference, only with the smallest trace of annoyance.

He turned to eye the said man. Just his luck, the guy in table three that is, that his lewd gaze met Tokiya's cold stare. The man was rising from his seat when this happened, and alas, he stopped mid-air. Tokiya's stare unchanging, he slowly sat down, turning his back to make small talk with his companions.

"I think he got the hint." With an arrogant smirk on his face, he finished off his drink. "Scruffy and untamed hair, like the one who tried hitting on you." He enjoyed watching her nonchalant look screw up for a moment, utter disgust evident in her expression.

"I wouldn't even ask how you knew about that."

Her eyes flew to watching the clock on the opposite wall as he shifted in his seat to face her.

Leaning forward, he let his breath tingle across her cheek as he whispered in her ear. "I remember; he had a stupid grin on his face when he reached out his hand to finger your bare arm." At that precise moment, he began running his hand from the side of her neck, to the exposed part of her shoulder, and down to the length of her arm.

Goose flesh covered her skin in record time and her body arched slightly and involuntarily towards him. Her lashes fluttered downwards and her grip on the cocktail glass tightened irrepressibly.

It took all her will power to meet him eye to eye and remove his hand from her arm, placing it over her lap to cease his ministrations. "My chaperone," she gestured to Raiha again. "He might not take this too well."

He frowned. "Do you actually think he'd mind?"

She wasn't quick enough to keep him from seeing the exasperation become evident in her face. "You think he'd appreciate it if I snuck out of the bar and disappeared into some dark alley with another man – a Hokage nonetheless? Master Kurei would scold him; Miss Neon would wring his neck."

He was finding it hard to concentrate on her immediate concerns at that moment. He couldn't bring himself to feel more than indifference to anything she said, or any words spoken after this. Still, he looked at her impassively. With another glance at her chaperone, he wondered just how late it was. He thought he may be here all night, that Recca and the others might keep him there with them all morning. She'd be forced to remain in the bar just as long, spending half the night dodging men's advances on her, and the other half preferring her Cadillac Margarita over glasses and glasses of different cocktails bought for her by random guys. He would be sitting beside her of course, continuing to give her once, twice or thrice overs, taking in every detail of her green top and metallic stretch jeans, trailing his gaze up and down, up and down, until he has committed to memory every hook, eye, knot, pleat, chain, wrinkle and crease on her clothes.

He almost forgot to respond.

"I suppose not."

When she returned her focus on her glass, he told her. "I've been deprived of much needed sleep for three nights in a row; my better judgement has been impaired."

She bit her lower lip to soften the giggle that escaped her lips. "The first two nights," she started. "I'm willing to take responsibility for. The third one's the fault of your obsessive-compulsive, overachiever self who had no other wish but to ace the finals the morning after, which you, undoubtedly, have been successful with."

He can only stare at her as she slightly leaned her head back to finish off her drink and stood from her seat. She took a few steps forward, stopping short when she was standing near enough that their sides touched.

She stared down into his eyes, the silence making his body restless.

"I have a proposition for you."

It was easy enough to sense the seriousness in her tone. He smiled. "What could that proposition be?"

She bit her bottom lip, aware he has caught on to what she was getting at. Realizing her hesitation was too long, she replied, "If you can get your friends to leave in ten minutes, fifteen minutes tops, I might be able to spare you the night, after I report back to Master Kurei, of course."

Spare him the night, she says. At times such as this, he is inclined to believe she's just as smug and cocky as he is. Though watching her eyes shimmer under the dancing night lights, her naively coy and sensual appeal has taken over his senses completely. He was unaware of his feet touching the ground, standing tall so it was now him staring down into her. "Done," he became conscious of his voice only after the word escaped his lips.

She shot him a coquettish smile before allowing him to take her right hand and place a light kiss over it. He knew she was a sucker for such chivalrous behavior. Mouthing the words see you later to him, she began walking away, but it wasn't long before he grabbed her wrist and nudged her closer to him.

"I hate what you're wearing," he told her finally, and leaned down to kiss her. The kiss was both forceful and gentle, candid enough that they'd share the same breath. He snaked his hand to the back of her neck to push her closer and deepen the kiss, her arms slowly going around him. When they finally parted, gasping, she pressed her lips on the hollow of his throat and smiled against his skin.

"I knew you would."

He watched her lovely backside as she disappeared into the crowd. He surmised; the idaten has done her good.

Dropping a couple of bills on the counter, he walked to the gang's direction. Scowling mentally at the thought of escorting drunk monkeys and tying strings of indisputable excuses for their parents, he was surprised to have decided to think nothing of it. Perhaps it was sleep deprivation, really.

He was glad he came that night.