A/N: I don't write fics very often these days (college ate my free time D:) but I threw this together on a whim. I love this pairing so much, I have a half dozen unfinished attempts at fics for them. Finally I came up with this. It hasn't been beta'd and I only made a half-assed attempt to check it, so forgive me. I hope you like it anyway!


Where We Go From Here


Mamori was the last person to leave the restaurant. The celebration had gotten well out of control during the hours the Christmas Bowl champion Demion Devilbats had spent there, and between dragging inebriated teenagers into cabs and trying to appease the angry owners she was there long after everyone else had gone home. She was exhausted but had agreed to clean up the mess to keep from having to pay for the damages.

It wasn't unusual for her to be left to clean up after the Devilbats' gatherings, but usually she at least had one other person with her. Rarely, when she was really lucky, Musashi would stay and help her tidy up a little. Most often it was Hiruma, who, while being utterly unhelpful, was at least company. The soft clicking of his fingers on laptop keys was like a quiet reminder that at least she wasn't alone.

He, however, had disappeared hours ago sometime during the festivities without anyone so much as even noticing his departure. Part of her worried what he could possibly be up to but she decided she'd deal with that issue later if it arose. A small nagging voice in the back of her mind worried about him, but she knew he could take care of himself.

It took her a few hours to put the party room back to the way it had been before the Deimon Deivlbats had arrived. She picked up every piece of trash, swept the floors, washed down the tables, and placed everything that had been moved out of its place to where she thought it originally had been. Hoping that was enough to spare her an angry phone call come morning, she finally called it a night.

Staggering onto the sidewalk, she tried to focus her tired eyes enough to look through her purse and find money for a cab. Unfortunately, it seemed like between paying to send the entire team home and paying for her share of the meal she was completely broke.

"Oh, no," she muttered lowly, too exhausted to imagine walking all the way home in the dark. She wasn't even sure that was entirely safe at this time of night.

This was certainly not the Christmas Bowl buzz she was hoping for. She loved taking care of the team she cared about so much, but she needed rest and time to celebrate too. The past month she had hardly slept, trying to live her life while at the same time working on every little thing she and Hiruma could think of that might give them the tiniest edge in the big game. She had woken up on the couch in the back of the football club more than once, having to race home and apologize to her mother profusely. Towards the end her mother stopped even asking what had happened when she she barreled into the house at sunrise to change and race back to school.

It wasn't the most appealing prospect ever but Mamori turned and started to walk to short distance to the school. Spending one more night on the couch was preferable to passing out or being mugged trying to walk home.

It took her longer than usual to walk the handful of blocks separating the school from the restaurant since her entire body felt like lead and she couldn't seem to convince herself to lift her legs very far off the ground. When she finally reached the door she half fell through it and into the dark room.

The instant she locked the door behind her and turned around she realized there was an unexpected flaw in her plan.

Hiruma was sprawled across the couch, his right arm and leg draping off the edge and his left arm thrown over his eyes. He was still completely dressed, down to the combat boots still laced up his ankles. Without even seeing his face she could tell he had been passed out cold on the couch for hours.

Smiling softly, she sat at the open bit of couch by his feet and began to unlace the boot he had propped up on the couch. She watched him closely to make sure her fussing wasn't going to wake him up, but he seemed to be completely unconscious.

"You must be really tired, Hiruma-kun," she said to him quietly, carefully easing the boot off his thin leg. Gently lifting his other leg onto her lap, she began undoing that boot too, "You can rest now."

After setting the untied boots on the ground and placing his legs back onto the couch, she did something she never would have done under normal circumstances. Curling into the small nook between Hiruma's legs and the armrest she nestled her face into the fabric and let her eyes drift closed.

"Good night," she told him in a breathy whisper, angling her head so she could watch the sleeping form of man that had come to mean so much to her as she drifted off. Being around Hiruma had always come very naturally to her and she found falling asleep next to him was little different.

Sleep soon claimed her, the soft sound of his breathing luring her into blissful unconsciousness.

-

She half expected to wake to Hiruma kicking her off the couch or displaying his displeasure at her proximity somehow else equally unpleasant. Instead, she woke to the soft sound of shuffling cards.

Peeling her eyes open, she instantly noticed she was alone on the couch. She had spread out across the large sofa, no longer curled to fit in the single cushion in the corner. Stretching and wiggling her toes, she craned her head up to locate the soft sound that had woken her.

Hiruma was sitting at the card table closest to the couch with his back mostly facing her, setting up a game of solitaire. One deft, clawed hand moved the cards around without hesitation, effortlessly completing the game in a matter of a couple minutes. Pushing the cards back into a pile, he began shuffle again.

Something was bothering him.

Mamori knew him as well as anyone, and though trying to read his expression was nearly impossible she did know he really hated solitaire. It was a game he didn't have control over. He'd win every hand that was winnable but sometimes it just wasn't possible. When the cards were not dealt in his favor there was nothing he could do, and he hated it.

The only time he would play solitaire was if he really needed to think about something. When they spent time alone together over the past month or so he had shown her how to deal a hand of blackjack so he could play while brainstorming, claiming it helped him concentrate. Sometimes Mamori wondered if it wasn't because his mind raced a little too fast at times even for him. Maybe by keeping himself occupied with counting cards he could clear a little space in the mysterious jumble that was his brain to really think clearly about things.

A moment later she realized something else.

"Is your arm bothering you again, Hiruma-kun?" she asked him groggily, noticing the way he worked the cards almost exclusively with this left hand. Sitting up as she spoke, she watched the muscles in the back of his neck stiffen as he clenched his jaw.

"About time, fucking manager," he responded instead of answering, "your snoring was really pissing me off."

"I don't snore," she responded indignantly, ignoring the heat she felt rising in her cheeks as she spoke. Standing, she glanced out the small window on the far wall at the dimly lit outdoors.

"It's just about five thirty," he answered her unasked question, setting up the solitaire game once again, "Don't fucking panic, school was canceled."

She didn't even bother to ask why school was mysteriously canceled on such a clear, cool day, knowing she wouldn't want to know the answer. She could just imagine his devious cackle as he flipped the Devil's Handbook open in front of the school committee. He must have been awake for a while, she realized.

Wordlessly moving into the locker room, she collected some bandages and a sling she kept in her locker along with all her medical supplies. She had bought it when Hiruma had originally broken his arm and had never actually managed to convince him to wear the damn thing. Still, she found he was more willing to relent to bandaging when she threatened him with the sling.

Hiruma was looking away from her as she walked back into the room, but she had no doubt he he was wearing his irritated, "stop fucking doting on me" face. Pulling a chair up next to him, she sat so their thighs nearly touched. He cracked his gum as she gently lifted his right arm from his side to inspect it.

"You overtaxed yourself again," she admonished gently, pressing at his sinewy arm through his long sleeved shirt to make sure he hadn't broken anything again. She could tell he was in pain by the uncomfortable tautness of his muscles underneath her hand but he said nothing, gazing quietly out the window as she worked. Finally concluding he hadn't seriously damaged himself again, she reached for the bottom hem of his shirt.

"Take your shirt off," she ordered quietly but firmly, unrolling the bandages in her lap.

"Shouldn't you at least take me to dinner first, fucking manager?" he drawled, turning toward her with a familiar devilish grin on his face. She had known him too long to be surprised by his sudden change in temperament and just rolled her eyes and ignored the blush threatening to creep up her neck.

"Hiruma-kun-" she started but paused as his left hand grabbed the hem of his shirt and easily slid it over his head and gently off his right arm. She had seen his bare chest several times over the course of her time as manager, but she still had to resist the urge to stare. He was a very attractive man, and the smooth, flat planes of his lean shoulders and abdomen did little to distract her from that fact.

"There, now just wrap the damn arm and get your pestering over with," he snapped suddenly, turning away from her again. Mamori wrinkled her brow, slightly confused by his quiet, moody behavior. Hell, she hadn't even needed to threaten him with the sling to get him to agree to her mothering.

Gently lifting his arm back into her lap, she began to wrap it firmly in the soft white bandages. His fingers twitched, and he cracked his gum occasionally but remained otherwise still as she worked, ignoring her entirely.

"What's bothering you?" she asked him quietly as she was finishing the bandage off, knowing she wouldn't get an answer. Sure enough, he tugged his arm from his grasp and stood, finishing off the bandage himself. Not wanting to let him get away, she stood and reached out to take his bony wrist in her hand, "Hiruma-kun-"

Turning to face her abruptly, she was surprised to see a fierce fire blazing behind his normally guarded eyes. His twisted his arm in her grasp, wrenching her shoulder uncomfortably far around.

"Ow!" she yelped in shock and pain.

"Stop sticking your nose where is doesn't belong, fucking manager," he hissed at her, his lips curling back in a slight snarl. His harsh, angry voice was not something she was familiar with, despite his reputation. For all his devilish antics and all their constant bickering, she couldn't ever recall ever seeing such an expression of anger directed towards her, none the less for him actually hurt her in such a way.

Recoiling slightly, she dropped his wrist from her grasp and pulled her arm to her chest as he whipped to face away from her. For a moment she debated leaving him to his temper, but it didn't take her long to decide against it. Backing away from conflict wasn't her style, and she had certainly never run away from Hiruma.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" she snapped back, standing and placing her hands on her hips defiantly despite the dull ache in one of her shoulders. He whipped back around to look at her, his eyebrows arching in a incredulous expression.

""...what did you just say, fucking manager?" he asked, his angry demeanor slowly dissolving into a more familiar devious grin. She froze, weary of his sudden change in temperament. Every molecule in her body screamed 'trap!'

"I asked what was wrong with you. You haven't been acting like yourself ever since we got back from the game last night," she responded more levelly, meeting his gaze with a defiant tilt of her chin.

"No... you asked what the hell was wrong with me," he corrected, raising his good arm to point a long, spidery finger at her.

"Well, yeah, but what I meant-"

"Kekekekeke, you cursed, you foul delinquent," he reminded her, his sharp-toothed grin growing impossibly wider as he began to flip through the small black book he had removed from his pocket, "I have the security tapes in here as proof."

"Hiruma-"

"Should I tell the Disciplinary Committee that their princess cussed me out? Kekeke..." he cackled happily, snatching his hands away from her as she grabbed for the Devil's Handbook.

"Hiruma-kun, you're horrible!" she snapped, at the same time trying to hide her relief at his familiar devilish behavior. As irritating as it was, this she knew how to handle. At least he didn't have that almost painfully angry look on his face anymore.

Then he did something that shocked her even more than his earlier angry outburst.

As she made a grab for the book, he grabbed her upper arm in one of his strong, long-fingered hands and tugged her towards him. Stumbling towards him, she bumped face first into his still bare chest, her blue eyes wide in shock.

"H-Hiruma-kun?" she stuttered in surprise, trying to untangle herself from him. Her face felt uncomfortably hot, and she could feel the warmth radiating from his skin.

A firm but surprisingly uncertain hand touched the shoulder he did not have in his grasp, tracing a probing path towards her neck. She froze at the contact, her heart stilling for an instant at the feel of his touch on her skin. His hands were calloused and warm, the occasional soft scrape of his long, pointed nails a reminder of exactly who was tracing such enticing patterns across her neck and shoulder.

She opened her mouth to ask him what he was doing, but nothing came out. She was afraid to look up into his face, but looking at his bare chest wasn't exactly helping her clear her thoughts either. Angling her face upwards slightly, she tried again.

"What...?" she managed to ask, her eyes trying to catch his.

Before she could finish her thought one of his long fingers pressed gently on a spot towards the nape of her neck, sending a bolt of pain down her spine.

"Ow!" she yelped, instinctively jerking away from him, "Hiruma!"

"You pulled a muscle in the back of your neck," he informed her dryly, removing his hand from her shoulder but still holding her in place as his sharp eyes inspected the offending muscle. She could have pointed out that he had actually pulled the muscle when he twisted her arm around, but kept her lips sealed. She knew him better than most people, and she recognized his gentle touch for what it was: an attempt at an apology.

"I'll put ice on it later," she finally managed to say quietly, trying to step away from his lanky frame and hide her flustered expression from him. His fingers tightened slightly around her arm, freezing her in place again. This time she could not resist the urge to look up at him in surprise.

"Hiruma-kun?" she murmured, feeling light-headed. Clearing her throat, she looked away, trying to gather herself. She wouldn't let this demon of a man be her undoing. She was an intelligent, confident women... she wouldn't let him turn her into a silly teenage girl with a simple touch.

Still, she knew that part of her had been lost to him for a long time.

"What do we do now?"

His voice took her by surprise, far quieter than she was used to. It was so reserved and flat it sounded nothing like him, almost to the point of being monotone. Her head snapped up to look at him, utterly bewildered by the uncharacteristic question. This was Hiruma; he always had a plan. Always.

"What do you mean?" she responded equally quietly, tilting her head to the side and trying not to think too hard about their close proximity. His eyes were dark and guarded, looking over her shoulder instead of towards her, leaving her to wonder what was going in his chaotic mind.

"We're done. What do we fucking do now?" he responded, his voice regaining only a shadow of it's normal tenacity. He angled his face down slightly, letting his dark eyes find hers for the first time since he grabbed a hold of her.

His expression was dark and frustrated, clearly irritated with the situation placed in front of him. It was then that Mamori realized something terribly important about the man in front of her.

"You lied to me, Hiruma-kun," she told him gently, "when you told me winning was everything. It isn't, even to you."

He scowled and looked away, his fingers twitching slightly around her arm.

"We will all go on doing what we do, and life will continue," she continued, realizing he needed to hear someone tell him this, though he knew it all already, "and in the end, who knows. This is just one journey out of many we will have in our lifetimes."

"That was the sappiest thing I've ever heard, fucking manager," he sorted, at least sounding like himself again. He released his grip on her arm, ignoring her large blue eyes rolling in exasperation. Before he could get away, however, she stopped him with a gentle hand on his shoulder.

"You'll find something you amuse yourself with," she told him with a surprisingly certainty, "I mean, there is college football, right? There are always people to be toyed with, and firearms to obtain - NOT that I approve of either of those things- and bets to be made..." she trailed off, seeing his eyebrows twitch in amusement, and the beginning of a mischievous grin on his mouth.

Without any warning his hands clamped down on her waist and, ignoring her squeak of protest, tugged her flush against his chest.

"Hiruma, what-"

His hungry mouth crushed against her own with the same wicked intensity he displayed in all other aspects of his life. The small noise of surprise she issued in response was swallowed by his fierce mouth, one strong sinewy arm crushing her against his chest and the other bandaged hand clutching a fist full of her hair. As his sharp teeth nipped at her bottom lip her eyes slid closed, a small pleased sound escaping her mouth. Her hands buried themselves in his wild blond hair completely of their own will, scrapping her nails down the back of his scalp lovingly.

He drew his mouth away from her own for only an instant before pressing a series of quick, hungry kisses on her equally enthusiastic lips before pulling away again.

As quickly as it started, the smoldering kiss ended. Giving her bottom lip little one last tug, Hiruma drew back completely, leaving only the arm around her waist to hold her up.

"I think I'll find ways to amuse myself," he assured her with a wicked grin before releasing the arm around her waist. Cackling in the way that was so specifically him, Mamori watched in a daze as he made his way leisurely out of the clubhouse, tugging his shirt on and looking entirely too pleased with himself.

The door banged closed behind him, and after a long moment the Devil Bat's manager released the breath she was holding.

"Yeah, me too," she murmured to no one in particular, glancing around the clubhouse she was fairly certain she'd be seeing as much of as ever in the coming months.

Because sometimes it really was about winning, and next time she certainly wasn't going to be the one left at a loss for words.


Fin