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Chapter 26

A New Beginning

Takuma was standing before one of the many full bookcases that lined the large library of the Ichijo manor. The scent of the paper and the old leather bindings of the books was relaxing in a way and he spent much of his time perusing the many books that the library held. Living alone was a new experience for him, one he wasn't sure he was very fond of.

It had been a little over a year since Kaname had sacrificed himself in order to remove Michael's soul from his body and in that time he hadn't once seen Reina or his daughter. News of them would occasionally reach him usually through Shiki and Rima when the pair would come to visit.

It seemed that Reina was taking the death of Kaname very hard and would hardly speak to anyone aside from her children. Her smiles had grown fake and the warmth and happiness that she had once exuded seemed to be nothing but a vague memory. It made him sad that Reina was no longer happy and he wished he could do something, anything to make her smile again. However, no matter how hard he wished to be there for Reina, he knew she didn't want him there. He was the source for much of her sadness. It may not have been him to have caused her so much pain, not personally, but it was his body that had inflicted it and it couldn't be easy to face the person who had caused so much hurt.

There was a soft knock on the library door before it opened and one of the household servants bustled in with a low bow. "Ichijo-sama, you have visitors."

Closing the book he was reading, he turned to face the young woman and nod his ascent for her to show the guests in. The woman briefly disappeared before leading in two people he immediately recognized. "Aido, Kain," he greeted, smiling brightly at his unexpected visitors. "It's nice to see you. You hardly ever come to see me, is everything alright?"

Kain and Aido exchanged brief glances, confusing Takuma when Aido looked behind him at something still in the hall.

"Aren't you coming in?" Aido inquired of a person Takuma couldn't see.

Blinking, Takuma found himself freezing to his spot, his eyes wide and staring at the door. A shadow preceded the lone figure that was dressed neatly in black heels, gray slacks and a blue v-necked top with black bead work along the collar. White hair hung in waves down the figure's back, a few stray pieces falling over her shoulder as she walked with her head down and her eyes staring at a book grasped in both of her hands.

"Reina," Takuma said absently, his eyes unable to leave the form of the beautiful woman that had walked into his library.

When Reina looked up, she smiled wanly at Takuma before once again lowering her eyes to stare at the book in her hands. "I brought this for you. I thought you might like it," she said quietly, shifting the book in her grasp nervously.

Walking closer to the silent girl that seemed so torn and lost, Takuma couldn't help but to stop in front of her and lift a hand to gently brush some of her hair from her face. In response to his action, Reina took a shuddering intake of air and briefly closed her eyes. She could feel the tears building up behind her eyelids and when she reopened them, she wasn't surprised that they spilled over and trailed down her face.

"Don't cry," Takuma whispered, wiping her tears away with the pads of his thumbs. "Please don't cry, Reina."

"Takuma," she murmured, the tears beginning to fall faster from her eyes. "I'm so sorry. I-"

"Shhh," he hushed her quietly, cupping her cheeks in his hands and leaning his forward head against hers. "You have nothing to apologize for. Nothing. So please stop crying, Reina."

"Takuma," she muttered, her tears pouring down her cheeks as she stepped closer to the blond and buried her head in his neck.

Sighing and smiling forlornly, Takuma wrapped his arms around the lithe body that was shaking violently while heart wrenching sobs tumbled from her lips. He gently stroked her long hair and laid his cheek against the soft strands. "Reina..."

Without a glance at his cousin, Hanabusa turned away from Reina and Takuma and left the room. Figuring it best to follow, Kain left the library and closed the door behind him, leaving the couple alone.

Takuma wasn't sure what to say or if he should even say anything. There was so much that he wanted to say, but he just wasn't sure how. He settled for tightening his grip on Reina's shaking body and taking a deep breath to inhale the soft, delicate scent that he had missed for so long. "My love..." The words had fallen from his lips before he had realized what he was saying and when he felt Reina stiffen and heard the sharp intake of breath, he pulled back slightly to look down at her. "Reina, I-"

"It's alright, Takuma," Reina murmured, putting a small finger over his lips briefly before she pulled her hand away and curled her fingers as she brought her hand to her chest and looked down at the book she was still loosely holding on to.

Smiling dimly, Takuma gently removed the book Reina was holding from her hands. He didn't glance at the book or its title, but still said, "Thank you very much for the book, Reina. I'm sure I'll enjoy it..." He trailed off and set the book aside, Reina had still not looked up again.

Tears were still leaking slowly from her eyes leaving salty trails on her pale cheeks and her hands were hanging at her sides, her thin fingers curling in her distress. The distraught woman took in a shaky breath, her eyes widening when Takuma's gentle hands brushed over her cheeks, wiping away her tears before he lightly cupped her face in his palms. Tilting Reina's face upwards so that he could see into her red rimmed eyes, Takuma smiled brilliantly though his eyes hinted he wasn't as happy as he seemed.

"Takuma..."

"You didn't come here just to give me a book, did you? I'm happy that you're here, but... Why are you here, Reina? I would have thought that you wouldn't ever want to see me again. Not after everything that happened. Everything I did."

Reina shook her head, closing her eyes and sniffling as she did so. "No. It wasn't you... It wasn't your fault. I've always known that. I just... I didn't know what to do. Everything went so wrong and it was my fault. I'm-" Reina was cut off when Takuma leaned down and pressed his lips against hers. Her eyes widened and she pulled away abruptly because of the shock.

Laughing, Takuma smiled at the look on Reina's face. "You still look cute when you blush."

"I wasn't blushing. You startled me."

"Shall we try again and see what happens?" Takuma challenged.

Huffing and folding her arms over her chest, Reina indignantly looked away. "I have no intention of being manhandled by you, Takuma Ichijo."

"But it'll be fun."

Tweaking a brow at the blond, Reina gave him a skeptical look. "As fun as it would be if your manga disappeared so I can watch you run around and freak out?"

A horrified look crept on Takuma's face before he pouted. "You wouldn't."

"Try me," Reina replied, smirking playfully.

"I believe that was an invitation," Takuma replied, grinning as he pulled Reina to him and practically crushed her body against his own.

All Reina could do was stare wide eyed up into the green eyes that she had once loved to lose herself in. Even as Takuma dipped his head and captured her lips in a hungry kissing, she could only numbly stand there, her body at first completely unwilling to move. Noticing Reina's reluctance, Takuma began to pull away from her.

"I'm sorry, Reina, I-"

Latching on to Takuma, Reina refused to let the tall man step back. Her nails dug into the soft fabric of his sweater and kept him from speaking any further, confused about what she was doing.

"Please don't pull away... I love you, Takuma... I've always loved you and I know I betrayed you, but-"

"You didn't betray anyone, Reina," Takuma cut in. "You've just always blamed yourself for everything. None of what happened is your fault. None of it. Understand?" He asked sternly, taking her face in his hands and staring adamantly down at her.

When Reina nodded, Takuma smiled. "Good. Now why don't you tell me why you came all this way to see me."

"I...I missed you," she answered softly, reaching up to stroke his cheek while gazing up at him uncertainly.

"I've missed you, too," he replied, placing his lips over hers almost experimentally to see how she would react.

Their lips moved slowly, uncertainly at first the intensity picking up as the seconds ticked by and their surroundings began to grow dim around them. All that mattered was then and now, the two of them, reunited after so much hardship and trauma.

Taking a shuddering breath, Reina pulled away, breathing roughly. "I love you, Takuma. I've always loved you and I've never forgotten you. Ever... I can't just forget Kaname-"

"And you shouldn't. Kaname has always meant a lot to you, Reina, and you to him. You should never forget him or the love you always had for each other and I don't expect you to," Takuma interrupted. "You should always hold onto those memories, he would want you to, but he wouldn't want them to make you sad."

"I know... but, I miss him," she admitted, lowering her head to hide her tears.

"Reina," Takuma sighed, brushing her tears from her cheeks and kissing her forehead.

Shaking her head, she sniffled and looked back up, mustering as bright a smile as she could. "I didn't come here to talk about such sad things." She turned away from Takuma, sapphire eyes looking over the room until they fell upon a sleek stereo system that was set up on the lone desk that sat beneath a large window.

"And what did you come here to talk about?" Takuma asked, following slowly behind Reina as she walked towards the desk to turn on the stereo and fiddle with it for a moment before soft classical music poured from the surround sound speakers in the room.

"Us," she answered, a smile lifting her lips and brightening her eyes when Takuma blinked at her. Walking back towards the blond vampire, she took his hand in hers and laid his other on her waist before putting her hand on his shoulder. "Are you going to dance with me or not?" She asked when Takuma only blinked at her.

Snapping out of his stupor, Takuma began to lead Reina around the wooden floor of the library.

"I'm sorry," Reina said after a few moments of silence between them, her eyes looked away from Takuma's, ashamed. "When Zero and I found you and I realized that Kaname was gone, I didn't want to accept any of it. I reacted harshly, it must have hurt you and I'm very sorry."

"You don't have to apologize, I understand. You were in shock and after everything that had happened it's not hard to see why you reacted the way you did."

She smiled softly. "I knew you'd say something like that. You're still quite predictable it seems. You haven't changed much, that's good."

"You've changed a lot," Takuma replied. "You're still as beautiful as I remember, but everything else is different. There's a different aura about you now. You don't seem so lost or uncertain anymore."

"I have a lot of responsibility now and don't have the luxury of being unsure. I'm expected to have answers and to make things happen, otherwise I'll have to deal with the bickering of the Council. I really have no idea how Kaname handled it," she added in a low mumble.

Takuma chuckled at the small pout on her face. "You're cute when you pout." He tapped her nose with a finger and watched her crinkle her nose and frown at him. "You're also cute when you try to look angry."

She huffed and turned away, resisting the urge to stick her tongue out at him. He always had been able to make her act like a child. There had always been something about him that made her feel safe, warm and at ease.

"I..." She trailed off, sighing as they stopped dancing and she stared off to her right. After taking a deep breath, she looked back up at Takuma. "I want you to come home."

He blinked at her. "I am home."

She shook her head. "Home with me. Home with Emiko, Haruka too. You belong with me."

"Reina," he sighed, shaking his head and running a hand through her hair.

"We belong together, Takuma... Or don't you want me anymore?"

"It's not like that, of course I want to be with you-"

"Then come home with me... Please." Her voice was soft, pleading as she stared up into Takuma's uncertain green eyes.

"I can't," Takuma said quietly, letting his hand fall away from her cheek that he had cupped.

"Why?" She asked almost harshly.

"It's just not that easy. So much has happened. I've done-"

"You did nothing," Reina cut in. "It wasn't you that did any of the things Michael was responsible for while he possessed you. I know that, the Council knows that, the Hunters know that, everyone knows that."

He shook his head again. "But I remember everything that was done with my body. Everything, Reina and I'm not proud of it-"

"Then forget it and move on."

"It's not that simple-"

"Fine, I'll make it that simple," she replied with a hint of stubborn arrogance. "Hana, Kain," she called authoritatively, stepping away from Takuma and looking towards the door that opened a second after her call.

"Is everything alright?" Aido asked, eyes switching between the former couple.

"No," Reina replied matter of factly. "Takuma seems to forget that he's talking to the current head of the Kuran family and the queen of our race so I'd like to show him what happens when I don't get my way."

"Uh..." Takuma blinked at Reina nervously and chuckled. "I think I made her angry," he said to Kain, who sighed and rolled his eyes. "She's scary when she's angry..."

"What would like us to do, Reina?" Aido asked.

Reina smiled and looked at Takuma triumphantly. "Bring him with us. If he resists... Burn his manga."

Takuma's jaw dropped and his eyes widened as he gaped in disbelief at Reina. "You wouldn't," he cried.

She smirked and point a finger at herself. "Spoiled pureblood, Takuma, we've had this conversation before and I'm pretty sure I won then too."

"But my manga," he whined pathetically.

"Will only burn if you resist," Reina said.

Drooping, Takuma mumbled to himself and slouched towards the door. "I'll go pack."

"Don't worry about that," Reina called out, smirking again when Takuma looked back at her, confused. "It's already been done."

"When?" he asked.

"Pureblood queen, Takuma," Reina sang. "Everyone does what I say, including your loyal servants."

"You're mean."

Reina tilted a brow. "No, I like getting what I want. There's a difference. Now come along, the car's waiting. So are the children."

"Reina, wait." Takuma grabbed hold of her hand lightly as she made to walk passed him. "I really don't think this is a good idea."

"Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but we'll never know until we try. Will we?"


And that is the end of Reina and Takuma's story... For now...

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