* * * * *

Azuma was a man who naturally thought through things before acting. He knew he had to figure out exactly what he wanted, before his actions led to regret. He was doing so much thinking these days; pondering about her. Eventually his deliberations led him to a surprising conclusion.

He wanted to be with her; period.

He wanted to spend every moment with her. He wanted intimacy, but not just sexual. He wanted to touch her. He wanted to go through his day holding her hand, stroking her hair, kissing her at will. Touch wasn't the only intimacy he wanted, either. He yearned to drown in her eyes, bask peacefully in the sound of her light feminine voice, inhale the sweet smell of her. For whatever reason, she had gotten under his skin. She could touch him like no one else and he needed it. He needed her to balance him. The way his days were so much richer with her in them, he couldn't imagine ever letting her go.

He knew what he had to do. 1) Formalize their relationship. 2) Keep the physical intimacy from getting out of hand until they 3) Learn to create an emotional bond without it

At the heart of his strategy was his intention to keep her with him for a long time.

* * * * *

Kahoko was falling in love with him. It felt amazing and awful at the same time. They had made no promises to each other. Once he had his fill of her body, he would probably leave. He belonged to an important family that would marry him off to another important family. Traditional wisdom would counsel that she should resist him, but she knew she wouldn't. He was right; she was his now.

* * * * *

His car was waiting as she left the school grounds. As she got in the back seat, she was instantly charmed by his gentle smile. He kissed her and held her hand in his. A few minutes later the car stopped. "Let's walk." he said.

It was a small park, not far from her home. They held hands as they strolled silently under a canopy of trees. Azuma stopped under a large maple tree and turned to face her, taking both her hands in his. "Kahoko, I want you to be my girlfriend."

Surprise was written all over her face. She never would have expected him to want something so conventional.

When she still hadn't spoken, he spoke again. "This is where you're supposed to say something…"

"Oh. Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm very sure."

She studied his almond eyes and found sincerity there. "OK. I would like to be your girlfriend."

He just now realized that he had been holding his breath. He pulled her into a tight hug and leaned back so that her toes left the ground. "You must call me Azuma now."

She giggled. "All right…Azuma-san."

She had never seen him wearing such a carefree grin. They sank deeper into each other's arms and kissed each other with new meaning.

"What about your family?" she asked into his shoulder.

"That will be a complication at some point. We'll have to keep it secret from them for a while. Let me worry about that, though." His voice lowered as he spoke into her ear. "The most important thing to me now is…for us to be together." He was unaccustomed to feeling heat coloring his cheeks.

She squeezed her arms even tighter around his waist. In spite of Azuma's many faces, she felt that she knew the real person behind the mask, and that's who she was in love with. Where had his other personalities gone? To what extent would they be present in the relationship? Could she ever be his equal? These questions could only be answered with time's passage, and she looked forward to it.

* * * * *

The next several days and weeks were the happiest they had ever had. Azuma courted her as one would in the tender beginning of a relationship. The way her talked to her, touched her, gave her flowers and gifts…made her feel cherished. She wondered why the uncontrolled physical passion had suddenly disappeared, but the desire in his eyes told her that it would be there anytime they wanted. She felt so fulfilled by the clarity of his affection that she completely accepted the reversal in the physical side of their bond. Holding hands and stolen kisses were exciting enough.

To say that their friends and his fans were surprised would be an understatement, but eventually everyone accepted that they were a couple. It was obvious how much they cared about each other. When she wasn't around he was the same Yunoki-sama he had always been, but with her he was devoted and real. Few people ever witnessed the genuine smile of his that only she could bring out.

Over time their gentle courtship deepened and as it felt right they allowed their passions to escalate.

When the time came, they made the ultimate commitment to each other and he made sure there was nothing his family could do about it.

* * * * *

The End

Author's Note:

Sorry it took so long for this last chapter. Every day for weeks I've perused this last chapter and felt that it was anticlimactic...so I fiddled and tweaked with a couple words here and there but I didn't publish it. Finally I've given up. I'm sharing it with you, regardless.

Something else to know is that I have another Azuma/Kaho story waiting, that goes into more detail where this story doesn't. Maybe that's why I didn't want to go in for the long haul with this story.

Hope you enjoyed it !

P.S. "the ultimate commitment" that I refer to in the last line is marriage