A/N: Wow. It should not take…6 months to write the next chapter of a story. Unacceptable. I apologize for my lack of updates on all of my stories. My father died rather unexpectedly in August and my brain has been other places as you may imagine. I'm okay though; just have to start apologizing to my muse who has been sitting in the corner shaking her fist at me. I'm sorry, but I'm back! Just be patient with me! Thank you everyone!
Chapter 13: Let's Give Em Something to Talk About
Minako wrung her hands, no doubt stretching her uniform gloves as she did so. Makoto chuckled as she sat on Mia's couch, having the time of her life watching her fearless leader be so frazzled over her current plans for the day. It was Minako's turn to participate in Anubis' training, and unbeknownst to Mako, Minako was very nervous given the conversation that had taken place between them the night before.
She kept playing the encounter over and over in her head most of the night, effectively robbing herself of sleep in the process. She felt positively awkward. Did she act like nothing had happened or allow herself to show that she was warming up to him? She has no earthly idea and it seemed like she was just going to have to test the waters so to speak and wing it.
Minako looked over at the clock; he would be here any moment now. She felt badly that he would have to come to her for the training, when all of the other senshi were able to meet him at the temple and utilize its resources. Seeing as the Ancient forbade her to leave the grounds unless in battle, she didn't seem to have much choice in the matter. She still felt bad though.
She also hated the idea that what she was going to teach him was going to look downright silly with her being in complete fuku. 'Oh well,' she thought, 'he'll probably look silly in his subarmor too. No doubt he probably sleeps in it now that he has use of it again.'
Minako was shaken from her thoughts by a brisk knock on the front door. She couldn't help her nerves and jumped a little at the sound. Mako snorted as she got up to open the door.
"Good grief woman, no one would ever know that you've died a handful of times in battle and been resurrected with you jumping at the damn door."
Minako growled at Makoto in response as the taller woman made a face at her before opening the door.
"Morning, Red. You look smashing today, or rather ready to smash stuff." She laughed, stepping aside so Anubis could come inside.
He narrowed his icy eyes at her at the mention of the abhorred nickname, and the fact that she was making jokes about him having his subarmor back.
"Good morning Mako. Yes, I am ready to 'smash stuff' as you so eloquently put it if Minako deems it necessary." He said smoothly as his eyes instantly turned to where the blond in question stood.
He felt positively jumpy this morning and much to his chagrin, he could not seem to tone it down. He has turned the encounter with Minako over in his head, wondering to himself just when she had gotten off his nerves and into his daydreams all of the sudden. Furthermore, samurai were not supposed to daydream…yet that's what he found himself doing quite a bit lately. It was unnerving and he found himself in quite a few arguments with himself over his lack of focus.
Anubis smiled at Minako who in turn inclined her head towards him, a light smile on her lips.
"Good morning Minako. I pray you slept well?" He inquired.
"Very well thank you." She lied. "Are you ready for today's lesson?" She asked softly, not really meeting his eyes.
"Yes I am, I wonder what you will teach me." He offered, wondering why she seemed to be avoiding his gaze.
Makoto looked back and forth between the two of them with their tension and nervous filled greetings with a silly grin on her face.
"Okay okay you two. You're making me nervous. Get to it already. Anubis, be good. Minako, I hope you aren't going to teach him to suck face." She said merrily as she strode into the kitchen for a snack.
Minako stared after her with her mouth gaping open, her face bright red. Anubis stifled a chuckle at the girl's obvious discomfort and the brashness of Makoto. He decided to diffuse the situation instead of making it worse, which surprised him since he so thoroughly enjoyed baiting her.
"Well where should we go for our session? I know that you cannot leave the grounds, so where will be suitable?" He asked.
Minako fought her still gaping mouth closed and tried to look as collected as possible.
"Well, there is a dojo behind the house where we will be practicing."
Anubis' eyes lit up and smile crossed his thin mouth.
"A dojo you say?"
Minako waved him off. "Yes, but don't get too excited about it, you won't be able to 'smash things.'"
Anubis raised an eyebrow as he gazed at the volleyball net before him, not that he had any earthly idea what the contraption was or was used for.
Minako fought her nerves as she picked up the white ball sitting near one of the posts holding the net up. She bit her lip as she faced him and took a deep breath.
"Now, don't be too quick to judge okay? I'm not a good cook, I am not the most academically inclined person, nor am I classically trained in the arts. I could teach you to fight, but you would probably teach me something instead and that's not what we are here for." She mumbled.
Anubis crossed his arms and tilted his head in amusement as he considered her.
"You know how to sing quite well, but I do not and I do not believe you could hold a glimmer of hope in teaching me that." He teased.
Minako blushed at the referral to the previous night, but pushed on anyway. At least he was making jokes about it.
"Well, thank you but I'm no voice teacher either so no. I am, though, an athlete." She said with a little more confidence as she spun the ball in her hand on one fingertip.
"An athlete eh? Is this contraption you've set up some sort of sporting equipment?" He asked.
Minako grew a little more confident at his curiosity and looked him in the eye with a genuine smile.
"Yes, this is called volleyball net. Volleyball is my sport of choice. I was team captain for all four years of high school." She said proudly.
Anubis made an open mouth grin, complete with teeth showing, a rarity for the warlord. He was glad to see her coming out of her shell. He had been worried that their meeting last night had clammed her up.
"Well then you must be very apt to teach me. Teach away."
An hour later, Anubis had a thin sheen of sweat across his brow as he darted across the court to keep Minako from scoring yet another point against him. He had gotten the hang of this strange sport and actually found himself enjoying it, but she was rather good. He had to admit that she was very skilled and it would take him a great deal of practice to hold a candle to her.
Anubis grinned as he watched her dive to keep the serve he just made from landing on her side of the net, and effortlessly batted it back over the net. He found himself laughing as he hit it back to her.
Wait, had he just full out laughed? He could not recall the last time anything or anyone for that matter had made him laugh. The sound was foreign to his ears, but he enjoyed the sensation.
Minako's heart thumped wildly in her chest from exertion and from the butterflies she felt when she had heard him laugh. It was like the best truffle a chocoholic had ever tasted. She knew with great certainty she would do just about anything to hear him laugh again. She was pleased with how quickly he had picked up the sport and found him to be a worthy adversary on the court, and filed that information away. They would definitely be doing this again. She hoped anyway.
She was having such a wonderful time playing with him; she had forgotten her nervousness and what time it was. They had already gone past the time they allotted for his lesson but neither seemed to notice.
It was at that moment that Minako got distracted with the thought of how well he was doing at the sport and she noticed that she had missed his serve by a fraction of a second. Frantic to not miss the pass, she dove for all she was worth to hit it. She got it, it had been quite a while since Minako had missed a pass, but she did not calculate in the fact that she was currently in her fuku, complete with her orange high heels. Minako did not play volleyball in heels. Ever.
She grimaced as she landed with the side of her heel not completely on the floor, successfully turning her ankle and landing in an ungraceful and painful heap.
Anubis felt his stomach clench as he watched her hit, and before he knew it his legs had already carried him around the net and he was kneeling beside her.
"Are you alright?" He asked, helping her to sit up.
She grimaced as she looked at her already swelling ankle.
"Yeah, but I think it's safe to say that volleyball in heels is not a wise combination." She said with gritted teeth. She sucked in a breath as she attempted to rotate the injured limb. 'Damn definitely sprained.' She thought with ire.
Anubis examined her ankle with nimble fingers, and she felt her stomach tighten when he proceeded to unstrap her shoe and remove it from her foot.
"This is definitely sprained, I am afraid. We will need to get it wrapped up immediately." He said seriously has he examined her small foot, tutting at the bruise he could already see forming.
Minako nodded, and attempted to rise from the floor hoping to use her good foot to support her. Anubis grabbed her wrist, catching her by surprise at the sudden contact.
"What do you think you are doing? You will not walk in your condition." He said sternly as she attempted to rise again.
Minako shook her head with a pained laugh. "Do you know how many times I have been thrown off of a building, blasted across the room, or thrown into walls? I think a sprained ankle I can handle." She said, not wanting him to think her weak.
Anubis narrowed his eyes at her, continuing to hinder her attempts to get up.
"And had I been there you would not have been allowed to walk away from those either, now quit fighting me and let me help you." He scolded as in one fluid movement he had tucked her in his arms and stood.
Minako's heart raced as he held her in a bridal style carry. Her skin burned under her fuku where he touched her. He was so warm.
"You, you don't have to do this. I can walk." She stuttered, her cheeks growing hot as he held her close to his breastplate.
"You will not, no more complaints." He said stiffly as he began to walk out of the dojo with her.
Minako's head spun. Since when was she the one who got rescued? That was always Sailor Moon's department, never hers. She felt positively giddly and girly that he was carrying her from the dojo but tried to squash it when she thought about the harassment she was sure to get from her Senshi and the Ronins when he arrived carrying her like a bride across a threshold.
"Anubis, you really don't have to do this." She said, pushing a gloved hand against his breast plate in protest.
The sensation of touching bare skin returned to her as she did so, and she withdrew her hand quickly. She tried to forget how warm and hard his skin felt under her palm.
Anubis stood ramrod straight, immobile as he recovered from the sudden shock of her touching him through his armor once again. He closed his eyes, gathering his wits. How did she keep doing this? What did it mean?
"I – I'm sorry. I don't know why that keeps happening." She whispered.
After a moment, Anubis opened his eyes and looked down at her with a soft expression.
"It is all right. Do not apologize, for you do not intend to cause discomfort. It just unnerves me that you are able to reach through my armor as though it is not there." He said softly as he began to walk out of the dojo again.
"Do you think we should ask the Ancient about it?" Minako whispered, as she held her hands folded in her lap to keep from repeating her mistake.
Anubis scoffed. "Little use that will be, I have already asked him. He says it is something I will learn with time. I cannot imagine being able to learn the reason though, for it does not make any sense." He replied.
She nodded. "I will try my best to keep from touching you until we find out what's going on." She said lightly, looking down.
Anubis nodded, not looking at her. "Probably for the best, because I lose myself when you do so. It feels far too intimate and I may forget myself." He whispered.
Minako's eyes flew open and she looked up at him. Forget himself? What did that mean?
Unbidden, Minako stuck her foot in her mouth by asking, "Forget yourself? You talk like you're attracted to me or something."
As soon as the statement had left her lips, she slapped both hands over her mouth and started shaking her head profusely. Her cheeks burned in embarrassment and her stomach felt sick.
'Could you have possibly done anything more stupid?' She chided herself.
"Please forget I said that, I don't know why I said that." She said hurriedly.
Anubis did not falter in his slow stride and was silent for a few moments. A small grin broke upon his lips and he looked down at her humiliated form.
"Infuriatingly so. Do not be ashamed for stating what was on your mind. I do not know why I am drawn to you, but for some reason I am and it frustrates the hell out of me." He said smoothly.
Minako blinked a few times.
"You heard what I said. Yes, I am attracted to you, and I do not know what has changed to make me feel as such. You are stubborn, irritating, and you challenge me at every turn, but I am attracted to you. Now that I have said as much, let's get your ankle wrapped." He said swiftly.
Minako was too dumbstruck at his confession to say another word as he carried her back to the house.
You knew I was going to do something sneaky now didn't you. ;)