"That was a terrible idea," Ayano complained groggily, wondering when the floor had decided to start moving, and why her head hurt so Goddamn much. "Why the Hell did I let you talk me into doing that?"

"If I remember correctly, you said you'd try it because Katherine boasted about it having had some before," Kazuma said pointedly, leaning against the wall but keeping his gaze firmly trained on the stumbling redhead.

"Yeah, well, that was stupid. Remind me never to do that again," Ayano muttered, rubbing her temple in a feeble attempt to exorcize her relentless headache, glancing around, realizing that she was not in fact at the restaurant nor at the Kannagi compound.

"You passed out," Kazuma intruded on her thoughts, reading them easily, an easy smirk on his face, "And rather than let the lord Kannagi discover his underage daughter had been drinking, I decided discretion was the better part of valor."

"In other words, you were afraid of what my father would do to you if he found out you let me drink," Ayano shot back, somewhat revived now due to her irritation.

"As I explained earlier, I didn't let you do anything. You decided to do it yourself," he replied cuttingly, tilting his head to the side.

"Yeah, well... remind me not to do it again," she grumbled, crossing her arms, huffing as she planted herself down on the bed she had just been sprawled unconsciously on top of. She glanced over at her bodyguard/recurring headache/not-so-secret crush, prepared to thank him for helping her after such an embarrassing incident, when suddenly something occurred to her.

"Wait a second..." Ayano paused, glancing at the bed she was sitting on with growing horror, "You carried me here? This is a love motel!" her voice reached a near hysterical pitch, and she leapt off the bed as if it had suddenly become a den of snakes.

"I'm not spending today's pay just so the princess can sleep in a palace," Kazuma muttered, rolling his eyes as if the answer had been obvious. "You were only going to be out for a couple hours anyway," he added, smirking mockingly. "By the way... you're a pathetic lightweight, you know that?"

"But-but... people saw you carry me unconscious into a love motel!" Ayano shouted furiously, stomping over to him with an outraged look.

"Let them think what they want," Kazuma shrugged apathetically, seemingly unaffected, but then suddenly he moved forward until his face was inches from her own, so close his lips might accidentally brush her nose.

"Unless you want to make their assumptions reality," he murmured huskily, smirking roguishly, planting his arms on the bed, trapping her between them.

"I-I-I" was about all Ayano could manage, her every nerve suddenly working overtime, acutely aware of the scent of his cologne in her nose, the wisps of his breath brushing her skin...

And a wave of nausea swept over her, her hand automatically sealing her mouth shut

Smiling, Kazuma pulled back, seemingly amused, pointing off to the left. "Bathroom's that way."

In a blur, without even thanking him, Ayano burst through the doors of the bathroom, and was perched over the toilet, not even caring that she was about to stain her carefully maintained hair-

Which was suddenly being pulled back by gentle hands, with Kazuma smirking lightly, but not tauntingly. Ayano managed to shoot him a grateful look before the nausea and nature took over.

"So troublesome," Kazuma complained, watching the aftereffects of the alcohol impassively, pretending not to notice the silky soft feel of Ayano's hair in his hands.