Breathing II

She blames it on the lack of oxygen to her brain.

He's standing in there in front of her, waiting for the answer to a question that she can't remember despite his asking only a few seconds ago. Her mind is blank, and her lips are dry. She has to run her tongue across them surreptitiously before she can manage to stutter out a few nonsensical sounds.

It's all his fault, she thinks. Him and those golden eyes of his. One look and her throat starts to close up and her processing abilities begin to shut down. Her heart starts to race and she can't seem to get her toes to uncurl.

She wants to relax, wants to talk to him like a normal person talks. But somehow he makes it impossible.

It wasn't just his eyes either. That smirk. Kami, that smirk! It took her breath away. That was when she felt lightheaded. The symptoms didn't stop there. She started to shake slightly in the hands, so she played with the ends of her hair behind her back to hide it. The blood rushed to her ears and face. It was her only saving grace right now that he wasn't smirking.

Finally, she manages to stutter something coherent out, though for the life of her she doesn't know how.

"A-ano, g-gomen, but…w-wh-what did you say?"

He frowns at her a little, obviously annoyed with her.

"Do you have hearing problems or something?" he asks harshly.

"N-n-no. I-I don't think s-so."

She knew he was just upset and didn't mean to hurt her, but that only took the poison out of the sting. But really, it wasn't like she did this on purpose. She tried to will it away, tried to send the blood away from her face. And stop shaking. And uncurl her toes. And relax her throat. And slow her heart down. And kick-start her brain. And keep her lips moist. And talk to him like a normal person.

It just wasn't that easy most of the time.

"Then why aren't you listening to me, Ryuuzaki?"

He looked straight into her eyes and somehow, she forgot to breathe. Again.

Why again?! She hated this! She couldn't talk, couldn't think, couldn't even keep her toes straight. She hated this lack of control. Why did he always have to be that way? Why did he always have to affect her so? Why did he always have to make her lose control?!

"Answer me," he demanded after she only stared at him for a minute.

She couldn't take it anymore. She snapped.

"It's all your fault!" she screamed, being sure not to look him in the face.

"What?" he asked, surprise in his voice.

"It's all your fault!" she yelled again, taking courage in the fact that she could speak again when she was looking at the ground. "You make me scatterbrained with your stupid eyes and your stupid smirk. I can't think when you're around! I can't even speak when you look at me! Why do you always have to be in control?!"

She breathed heavily, astounded at herself for letting it go like that. It felt good to get it off her back, but she knew she shouldn't have said that to him. He wasn't supposed to know those types of things. What would he think now that he knew how he made her feel? She admired him sure enough and hoped they were friends, but she still wasn't sure it was much more.

He didn't say anything and she was contemplating looking up to see his reaction. But she knew if she looked up at him, she would lose her head again and probably her breath. She was also afraid of what his reaction would be. So she glared angrily at the ground as a few tears started to form in the corners of her eyes. And the two of them stayed like that for a while, neither moving an inch.

"What are you trying to say, Ryuuzaki?"

He's the first to break the silence, which is unusual for him. Echizen Ryoma is not the silence-breaker type. But his question only makes her embarrassed and she turns her head to the side to try and hide the blush that had just been starting to fade.

"You steal my breath away and my brain stops working right because of the lack of oxygen," she mutters, back to her quiet, dulcet tones. "And when my brain stops working, the rest of me goes haywire. So stop doing it already."

"How do I stop?" he asks with a curious voice.

Her eyes go wide and her back stiffens. She doesn't have an answer.

"I-I don't know," she says hopelessly.

"Well, tell me exactly what happens and why and maybe we can fix it," he says logically.

She has to think it over. It's very personal information dealing with bodily reactions she doesn't really want him to know about. It would give him a lot of control over her if he ever decided to use it against her. But they are friends and she does trust him. Maybe he really could fix it. He always came through for her before.

She's sure to keep staring at the ground to maintain some dignity, but she still ends up stuttering at the really embarrassing parts.

"W-well, when I look at your eyes, my mind goes blank and I can't remember anything. My mouth gets really dry and my throats closes up. My heart starts pounding and my…m-my toes curl up."

He made a noise in his throat that he understood and that she should continue. She was really blushing now, but she might as well finish what she started.

"A-and then when you s-smirk, I stop breathing altogether. And my hands start shaking a little a-and my face gets really red a-and I feel like I'm going to pass out."

He made another sound of understanding and she heard his clothing shift. He was probably nodding his head, but she didn't dare look up.

"That's all," she mumbled, shoulders drooping as she finally finished her confession.

"Hm. Does it happen with anyone else?" he asked casually.

"N-no. Just you," she murmured.

"Good," he said arrogantly.

She looked up reflexively at the strange answer and she couldn't breathe.

He was smirking at her like he had never smirked before. It was similar to the smirk he had when he won a match against a strong opponent yet it was very different at the same time. It made her insides burn and every fiber in her tensed up. She knew her face had to be bright red.

He took a few steps toward her until they would have been breathing the same air had he not stolen her breath. It wasn't looking like she was getting it back anytime soon. She was a little worried for her health. People passed out after three minutes, right?

She was looking right into his golden eyes when his lips met hers. If she had thought she was burning on the inside before, it was nothing compared to this new molten feeling. He flicked his tongue across her dry lips, keeping them moist for her. She was sure that if every muscle hadn't been locked up, her legs would have melted beneath her.

It wasn't what she had pictured her first kiss to be. Neither of them was closing their eyes in passion. Bodies weren't wrapped around each other. He was close, but only barely touching her. His liquid gold eyes stared into the depths of her soul, looking arrogantly dominating the whole time. But for some reason, as his tongue flicked across her lips, she let in a deep, surprised breath. She was breathing again. She was hot all over and she still couldn't think, but she was breathing, despite drowning in the amber depths that served as his eyes.

He pulled away from her a little, breaking the connection of lips.

"There. Better?" he asked with that same strange smirk.

But as soon as he broke the contact, she was having trouble breathing again. It was too mind-boggling. Her body couldn't remember how to breathe even if it wanted to. She shook her head, not really aware of what she was doing.

He cocked an eyebrow at her and took her hands in his, hands that were shaking and extremely taut. He placed them on his waist, just above his hips. She didn't try to stop him, not sure she could move if her life depended on it.

He left her hands where they were and brought his own up to hold her burning face tenderly.

"Here. Try this," he suggested, the smirk never leaving his face.

He leaned in and kissed her again. She was burning all over again, that same scorching, molten hot feeling and her body remembered how to breathe. She gasped at the realization and he wasted no time in slipping his tongue in, her dry mouth getting quite a bit wetter. Her hands squeezed at his waist as his tongue ran up and down hers.

He chuckled appreciatively into her mouth at her actions. Both of their eyes were still open again and she could see the amusement he was getting out of this reflecting in them. She didn't really mind. That fiery gold was only serving to turn that molten feeling inside her into a roiling magma.

He broke away from her lips, taking deep breaths himself and she turned her head to look at his chest and not his awful eyes. He kissed the top of her forehead and laughed. She was shaking again, all over this time. Her hands still hadn't left his waist and she was sure he could feel the trembling.

His calloused thumb brushed softly against her cheek and she instantly looked up without thinking.

That same smirk still took her breath away like it did the first time. He noticed and the smirk grew the tinniest bit.

He leaned in for another kiss, but she didn't think she could take any more of the burning sensation today. It was still so new.

"W-wait…"

He pulled back and stared at her, his beautiful eyes demanding an explanation.

"Th-that's the first time anyone's kissed me," she mumbled.

"I know," he said in an annoyed tone that clearly said they shouldn't be stopping for small talk.

"I-I'm not used to this," she said with a blush.

"That just means you have to practice," he said with another smirk, probably trying to get her frazzled again. Sadly, it almost worked.

She shook her head a little, blinking a lot to try to lessen the effects he was having on her. His smirk turned amused at her actions.

"A-ano…I-I think if we do it anymore, I'll m-melt," she confessed quietly.

He chuckled and stepped away from her. Her heart twitched as he did, but she ignored that in favor for the chance to cool down.

"That's okay then," he said. "Come on. Practice will start soon."

He quickly grabbed her hand and pulled her to his side. He draped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her arm around his waist, where he held it in place. Just when she thought she had a chance to cool off. Her face flared up again, but by now she was used to that.

Now that she could focus on where they were walking, her mind could think again. She replayed what had happened with a blush. How had it come to that? Oh, yeah. She forgot to answer his question. What did he ask again?

"Ne, Ryoma-kun?" she asked, still not daring to look up.

"Hm?"

"Wh-What was the first thing you asked me?"

"That? Nothing. Just if you will go on a date with me Friday."

"Oh."

She had missed that?!

She blamed it all on the lack of oxygen to her brain.


Author's Note: A perfect example of the inspiration you can get from a simple line. Ryosaku fluff. As if there wasn't enough of it already. This is practice for kissing scenes. Y'all tell me how I did, please.