This is a short chapter...a very short chapter...about Ottu Shiji. For those of you who don't know him or forgot about him, he used to be Hiro's best friend and Ivy's former husband. Anyways, feel free to skip this chapter if you want. Nothing too important really. Just another character introduction.

I think this is the shortest chapter so far, but do not worry because the next one will be longer.

It came to my attention that some of you might have missed CHAPTER 11 since I uploaded it at the same time as Chapter 12. So be sure to read that (if you haven't read it yet) since it's full of Mimato!

Chapter TWELVE

When Ottu Shiji saw Tomoe come through his bedroom door carrying her teapot on a tray, along with the familiar brown cup he'd grown to hate, he said, "Not tonight, my pet. I'm not drinking that bitter tea tonight."

Undaunted by his gruff voice, she tossed her head and kept coming. Her hair was down and the scent of jasmine drifted to him where he lay on the bed. As sick as he was, hid body reacted to the sight of her, the sway of her hips and the way her small breasts swelled the front of her silk robe.

He knew she was good at reading his thoughts. She set the tray down on the table next to his bed, her robe parting to allow him a glimpse of her slender legs. "I have a letter for you," she said. "Drink some tea, master, while you read then I will rub your feet and take you away from your pain. Then you will rest comfortably for the night."

He shoved his rotund body upward, resting his back against the massive carved headboard depicting a scene of fighting tigers. Tomoe handed him the letter, then poured the tea. The letter was already open, but not read. Tomoe never overstepped her position when it came to his privacy. As he glanced at the familiar handwriting, his already ill mood took a nosedive. Not in any hurry to read what Ichiou Kuran had to say, he stalled, content to watch Tomoe as she lit the candles that circled the room.

She told him once that the candles would light the way on his journey. That whenever the time came, day or night, they would guide him down his chosen path. He wasn't sure if Tomoe was worried that the stairway to hell would be too dark for him to find his way, or if she was afraid cloud cover would darken the pearly gates. He believed the former, though they had never discussed his fate except to acknowledge that he would be taking a journey.

"Drink your tea, my love, it will give you strength."

Keep him hard for longer than five minutes is what she meant. Ottu wet his lips, anticipating the bitter taste, anticipating what would follow if he could manage to drink more than one cup of the bitter crap. There are rewards in suffering the taste, she once teased, and she had been right the one night he managed to finish the entire pot.

He glanced at her and the smile appearing on her small wise face. Then she dropped her silk robe and walked naked to the stone steps that led to his indoor pool, where warm fragrant water awaited her surrounded by a zen garden.

His parrot made a chirping noise and Tomoe stopped to speak to him and stroke the bird's blue head, before she entered the water with the grace of a woodland fairy.

Ottu finally unfolded the letter and began to drink his tea. From time to time he would look up to watch Tomoe swim. By the time he came to read the bottom of the letter, he was swearing. "The bastard is threatening me," he roared. "If I don't die soon, he says he's going to remove me from my house." Ottu tossed the letter into the air. "Ichiou Kuran has gone too far. He needs a taste of his own medicine."

He wasn't sure when Tomoe left the water, but suddenly she was beside him, again wrapped in her silk robe, handing him the brown cup. "Drink tea."

He accepted the cup. "I'm not dead yet," he growled.

"No, my love, not yet. Drink tea."

He took a sip. "I still have my brain."

"More than a brain to nourish. Drink tea."

Ottu drained the cup and when she poured more, he finished that too, then pointed to the teapot for her to refill the cup again. "You could have waited until tomorrow to show me that damn letter, Tomoe. I would have slept better."

"You will sleep," she assured, emptying the last of the tea from the pot into his cup. "It isn't my place to keep such things from you," she said softly. She handed him the cup. "I promise you will sleep well, my love."

Ottu looked deeper into Tomoe's eyes. "Thank you. Thank you for being with me and taking care of me for all these years. Thank for making this old man happy."

A slight smile curved the woman's lovely pink lips. "As you say, you are not dead yet. I live to please you. Our time is short together and we must make the most of it."

She stood then slipped out of her robe. "Mister Kuran's been bossing you around even though he knows you're ill."

Ottu reached out to touch her. "See, the tea is already working."

If you are wondering who Tomoe is, she is Ottu's servant/companion/lover. She takes care of him and gives him a little pleasure on the side (if ya know what I mean...haha).

Since I totally messed up my usual updating schedule, I am not sure when the next chapter will be. But I will try and upload it as soon as possible, okay.

Ciao! :)