az: My NaNoWriye challenge is coming to a close real soon. Wonder if I could make it in time.


The first date

By honou-no-izumi alias Izzu alias Izumi Ishtar

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"Demonic Horrors that lurk in the darkness…"

"Demons that hate, that feeds upon mankind…"

"There was a time when humans lived in fear of these fiends from the shadows…"

"But mankind received a ray of hope. The light of hope that was the Makai Knights. The demon hunters, the protectors of mankind…"

"…thus, they were exalted by humanity…"

xxx

It was already several days since Mitsuki Kaoru had returned into the Saejima household after completing her training. For Gonza, it was a delightful feeling to have her back living with them. Yet, he felt that there was still something missing. Something that he had hoped to happen but did not, much to his despair. Of course, as a butler, he should not expect much. He could not make demands to his charge to make his wishes come true, Even then, as an old man who had been like a second father to the son of Saejima Taiga; Gonza could not but hope for Kouga to find his own happiness.

For that, he sighed again.

"…it's almost a week already."

"Hmm? Gonza, were you saying something?"

Gonza jumped, as he turned around to find Kaoru and Master Kouga staring at him in puzzlement.

"Are you expecting someone Gonza?"

Gonza jumped and fidgeted before running back towards the kitchen to bring out the food for breakfast that he had already prepared. Kouga and Kaoru looked at the fleeting sight of Gonza with concern.

xxx

"Eh, Kouga. Did you notice how Gonza had been acting strangely these past few days?"

"I agree… Gonza seemed strange. Like he's up to something—"

Kouga glanced towards Zaruba on his right hand before turning towards Kaoru. He turned away as he leaned back on his chair.

"Hnn... it doesn't bother me. Mind your own business."

Kaoru pouted a little as her attention was diverted towards the food that just arrived. Gonza smiled a little as he served the two breakfast meal to both of his charges. Kouga looked up as he noticed Gonza still standing before them.

Kouga frowned.

"Gonza—?"

"Kouga-sama, do you have any plans to go out for today?"

He blinked. Zaruba snickered a little.

"Err... I hadn't—why?"

"—then, won't you mind, sorry if this request seemed sudden—Miss Kaoru, you are also free today, aren't you?"

This time, both Kouga and Kaoru wore the perplexed look.

"Gonza-san, wha—"

At that moment, the doorbell rang as Gonza left the room in a hurry leaving Kaoru's unfinished question unanswered. Kouga just shrugged as he started on his meal as Kaoru remained stunned over Gonza's sudden outburst. It was not long before another commotion caught their attention again. Kouga frowned as the grinning face of Suzumura Rei emerged into view.

Kouga stood as he walked towards the hall.

"Why did you come here so suddenly?"

Rei laughed.

"Is that your usual greetings towards your friends? I'm not surprised that not many people taken a liking to you the way you addressed them. Can't I just come here for a visit? Surely there's more to life than just about hunting Horrors. Why don't you just smile and greeted us nicely for a change—"

"Wha—I'm not that anti-social—what do you mean by 'us'? And why—"

"Hahaha… you shouldn't be that surprised, Rei-kun. Besides—"

Jabi appeared behind Rei as she flashed a smile towards Kouga and Kaoru.

"—Kouga's always like that. And our visit had been sudden anyway."

"Haha… I sensed a conspiracy…", muttered Zaruba as Silva cut in. "Shush you…"

Rei chucked over the little banter between the Madou jewelleries.

"Jabi—?"

"Kouga!"

Kouga gasped aloud as a sudden weight slammed towards his middle. He looked down as he saw Rin's smiling face looking up towards him.

"Rin? Why are you here also? What—"

Rin pulled away from Kouga before exchanging a short greeting to Zaruba as she ran towards Kaoru.

"Hi! Rin never met you before… you must be Kouga's girlfriend! Rin heard a lot about you from Jabi and Rei-nii. My name is Yamagatana Rin, what's your name?"

Kaoru blinked in surprise before chuckling.

"I'm Mitsuki Kaoru, I also heard a lot about you from Kouga…"

"Hey—!"

Jabi and Rei grabbed Kouga as they headed towards the dining table. "We'll explain…"

Rei grinned as Jabi winked at Kouga.

"Don't worry, we didn't just come visit only to crash your love-love moments with Kaoru—"

Kouga glared towards Jabi as the young priestess laughed in glee.

xxx

"There's more to this than just a social visit, huh?"

Jabi turned towards Kouga and shrugged before turning back to eye some of Kaoru's early paintings hung on the walls along the hallways. She smiled.

"Your place looked like a private gallery for Kaoru-chan now—"

"You can practically say that. Kaoru drew a lot during her stay here…"

Jabi whistled as she heard Zaruba's comment and grinned as she came to a big portrait of GARO and ZERO fighting back to back. At every paintings that she passed by, Jabi kept showing her amusement over the various paintings as Zaruba gave his commentaries over them. Jabi smiled. She turned towards Kouga as they almost reached the end of the corridor.

"—of course, Kouga. This isn't just a simple social visit. Kantai had been quite peaceful since that trouble with Legules and its clan. Perhaps because Legules practically turned a lot of Horrors around the area into its own, there's not a lot to take down over there. And Tsubasa and his men did their jobs quite efficiently. I needed to get some place where I could show some practical skills to Rin without being thought of being a hindrance and I thought of here, since more Horrors tend to appear here than the other regions. Also, you were here... and Rei too."

Kouga leered at her.

"Are you sure it's just for Rin's training? I'm sure you could have just pick some other place or just remained in Kantai—"

"—but the Eastern Region was the only one which had the people that I knew, namely you and Rei. I'm not sure if my intrusion would be accepted well by the other Knights guarding the other regions, and it's a nice change to get out of Kantai once a while. Rin also wanted to visit here again."

Kouga snorted in sarcasm. Jabi skipped to his side.

"By the way, how's the development between you and Kaoru? Hnn... considering that I'm here and Rei still served under the Eastern Division, why don't you take some days off and go on a date with Kaoru-chan? And let the two of us handle the Horrors..."

"Jabi, you—"

"Don't tell me you never asked her on a date before—"

Zaruba snickered.

"I—"

"—or did you doubt my abilities? Kouga, you know how I cared about Rin. I wouldn't risk her life if it's dangerous for her. And seeing the spells in action would have helped her master her priestess's skills—"

"No, I didn't—"

"Kouga..."

Kouga stared at Jabi in alarm as she took hold of his arm. "You've done a lot for me and everyone in the past. Why not take it easy and try living a normal life without having to worry about your Makai duties for a change? You deserved it—"

Kouga chuckled.

"And you said you had no other hidden motives to coming here—"

Jabi grinned. Zaruba snorted as Kouga glared at the Madou ring.

"Maa... ne."

xxx

"Hey Kaoru…"

Kaoru stopped sketching as she turned towards Rei.

"What is it?"

"Had you ever dreamed of a perfect date with your precious Kouga-sama?"

Kaoru's face immediately turned bright red as Rin and Rei turned to laugh. Rei coughed a little before adding, "—had you?"

"Rei!"

Rei gestured Silva to calm down as he grinned. Kaoru covered her face with her sketchpad as she addressed the young Makai Knight.

"What's with suddenly asking that question… of course, I once thought about that. But, I know Kouga… and he's not used to these kinds of things and also of his dangerous job. I don't want to force or pressure him to doing something that he's not used to do—"

"—you're so kind, Kaoru-neechan!" teased Rei as Rin giggled merrily.

"Don't tease me—" Kaoru chided as she finished her sketch. "—here you go, Rin."

Rin jumped out of the chair in front of Kaoru as she hurried to see the sketch of herself that Kaoru had made. The little girl exclaimed happily as Kouga and Jabi returned to the living room.

"Kouga, look! Kaoru-nee-san drew me!"

Kouga smiled as Jabi knelt down before the little girl.

"How nice… hey, Rin. How about we do a little practice lesson at the backyard?"

Rin happily nodded her head as she followed Jabi out of the room. Kouga glanced towards Rei before addressing Kaoru.

"Kaoru… would you mind going out with me to the city today?"

xxx

Rei snickered as Kaoru blinked in surprise. Silva chided the young knight as Rei stood and patted Kouga on the shoulder.

"Good luck!" Said Rei as Kouga suspiciously eyed him as he left. Gonza, who had passed by mouthed a short thank you to him as he followed the young man along the corridors. Kouga saw it and wondered if everything that happened today was a conspiracy cooked up by the three.

"Hey… Kouga!"

He turned abruptly around as Kaoru stood before him. Kouga swallowed nervously as Kaoru opened her mouth to speak.

"—of course, I don't mind going out with you today…"