A/N: Hello, my dear readers!

Just tuning in to tell you that this story is rated 'Mature' for adult themes and situations. If you're not mature enough to handle it, don't start reading.

You have been duly warned.

Girls' Night Out

It had really been a while since they've last had a girl night like this, Tsubaki mused while she was in the kitchen, preparing some snacks and refreshments for her friends who were lounging in her living room.

It's not like she hadn't been having fun going around on Death Scythe missions with her partner of many years—who, since he once won against Death the Kid, insisted he had already surpassed the gods and the halo could feel free to appear over his head—but having girl companionship was something else entirely.

And she hadn't realized it before it had been resolved but she had missed it.

When she came back in the room with the tray carrying bountiful goods for her Shibusen friends, Maka got up to help her set them down and distribute the refreshments to everyone.

"So how's life been treating you lately, Tsubaki? It's been a while since we had a chance to all gather together like this," Liz asked her while biting a rather unladylike large chunk of a chocolate chip cookie. To her side, her sister giggled insanely, obviously in a show of agreement.

Tsubaki smiled good-naturedly and shrugged under the scrutiny of her six friends who were also nibbling on the cookies and chips she'd prepared beforehand.

"Well, things have been good. I'm starting to become more accustomed to being a Death Scythe. I hardly get breaks between missions all across the world but on the bright side of things, I get to visit all those places you'd otherwise only see only on postcards, so I've been good," she deduced with a content smile, taking a bite out of her cookie.

Liz cocked an eyebrow at her.

"How do you unwind during those long trips in foreign lands? I couldn't imagine having to deal with that myself," Maka asked with acute interest while munching on a donut.

"Yeah—changing the scenery so often must be really stressful," Kim said in agreement and Jackie nodded affirmatively to her side.

"It's no big deal once you get used to it, really. It is quite interesting when we go to foreign lands that have cultures very different from ours. Let me tell you, Africa really isn't as exotic as people might try to tell you unless you're used to living conditions over there," the raven-haired woman said in good humour.

"Then you must be really happy to be back home?" Blair purred while lounging on the couch belly-first.

"There's no place better than home!" Jackie enthused, throwing an arm around Kim's shoulders. The pink-haired girl grinned in response.

"Indeed, there isn't," Tsubaki relented with a wide smile of her own.

She became aware of an uneasy stare on her and when she turned, she found Maka looking at her with a conflicted gaze.

"What is it, Maka-chan?" she prompted kindly, drawing the attention of all the girls present to the addressed female.

She looked around at all the eyes that were focused on her but didn't seem to bat an eyelash as she shrugged.

"Nothing. I was just… wondering…" Her dilly-dallying made the Nakatsukasa heiress even more interested in what she would have to say. She knew Maka to be direct and blunt at times when she wanted answers—it was odd seeing her so reluctant about it like this. "I was wondering… if… how things are going… with your crush?" the girl finished tentatively, hoping no one would notice her question.

If no one had been talking before, then at that moment the room was plunged into perfect silence. No one moved a muscle, not even a sound was breathed as six sets of eyes settled from Maka to Tsubaki, who had flushed a beet red colour and started sweating bullets.

"Errr…" she muttered smartly, and her reaction seemed to make the proverbial dam break.

"You have a crush?" Kim asked, intrigued.

"On who?" Patti jumped in her face the very next moment.

"Did you confess?" Liz suddenly interjected, interest spiked.

"What did he say?" Jackie added.

The girls bombarded her with questions, each more difficult to answer than the last and Tsubaki was feeling increasingly more cornered. This was turning into something akin to a cross-interrogation by the police.

Only she was sure the police would take more pity on her than these folks did.

Just when the walls felt like they were closing in on her, Maka's voice tore through the hullabaloo that had erupted in the middle of her living room.

"Hey, hey, hey!" the sandy-blond meister forcefully interrupted their rows. "There's no need to crowd her. Give her a chance to take a breath."

Tsubaki sent the girl a thankful look as she tried to regain her composure. To their credit, the girls truly realized they had been in the wrong jumping her the moment they heard a piece of juicy gossip and kept quiet.

"Sorry about that," Kim finally said, head hung against her collarbone. "It's just that… It's so unusual. I never even knew you were into boys and suddenly you have a crush?"

At the weird looks she received from all her friends around her—even a curiously cocked brow from her partner—the witch felt the need to elaborate. Her face was a bright crimson colour as she did so.

"I-I mean, I know you're straight, it just that you've never taken interest in men, so I thought you weren't even looking for a boyfriend and then, wham, you have a love interest. It's just kind of weird for me, that's all." She really wished that the girls would stop looking at her as if she'd grown a second head on her shoulders. It was really discomforting.

"Kim's right though—I think this kind of info takes all of us aback," Liz conceded and Patti nodded enthusiastically.

Tsubaki blushed prettily again.

"I-it's not like I was… looking for it or anything. It just… happened…" she mumbled and the young women around her had to strain their ears to catch what she was saying.

"So who is the lucky fellow?" Jackie prodded. The rest of the girls didn't seem to notice the slightly guilty look on Maka's face—who felt sorry for bringing this up in front of everyone, knowing how badly her friend usually handled having her personal issues put on public display—and Blair, who had a really smug one on hers.

"It's, uhh… I thought it was really obvious…" she muttered while fiddling her fingers in her lap.

"Oh, oh! I love this game!" Patti thrilled, almost bouncing in her seat. "Is it Emenem? It is, isn't it?" The enthusiastic girl then noted the withering look her sister was giving her before she could process the confused one she was getting from the girl she was talking to. "What?" she snapped at her sister, who shook her head at her.

"Not everyone has the same taste in music as you, Patti," Liz muttered disapprovingly. Her younger sibling frowned but didn't let her buzz-kill of a sister deter her from her quest of getting information.

"Is it Rain then?" Tsubaki's brow rose even higher than it was, so the Thompson girl took that as a cue she was still far from the truth. "George Looney? Shinigami-sama?"

Her guesses were starting to get wilder and wilder and all the occupants in the room were starting to more and more amused by the wacky ways in which the girl's mind functioned. She seemed to believe that it was the most common thing in the world for everyone to be crazy about singers and actors. Probably like she was. It was really easy to guess that her suggestions were probably people she liked rather than people Tsubaki could possibly like herself.

"I'm starting to run on empty here," she said after a bit, huffing as she crossed her arms over her ample chest and tapped her chin with an index finger pensively. "Alright then—is it Black Star?"

When Tsubaki's slightly disoriented smile was wiped clean off her face by a rather violent blush, Patti cheered loudly, drawing the attention of the other girls to herself.

"It is, isn't it! You like Black Star! I knew it! I knew I'd get it right!" The Thompson sister's whooping temporarily blocked out most of the present girls' thinking process and the brainstorm of questions that her deduction had caused in their heads.

"Black Star?!" Jackie reiterated in disbelief. Mentioning his name made Tsubaki blush a deeper shade of red. "Of all the people you can have, you want Black Star?!"

"What do you like about him?" Kim interjected, sounding just as confused by this news and its confirmation from the girl of the hour herself.

"Yeah—I know he's good-looking but the guy's a moron," Liz said incredulously and it earned her a displeased and somewhat warning look from the raven-haired weapon. "Well, it's true – he is an idiot, and you're not."

"She likes who she likes," Maka cut in again, once again on her best friend's defense. "You can't help your feelings about these things!" she reasoned, making the girls back off once more.

"So, did you tell him?" Blair asked easily, thinking it was a fine time to get the conversation back on topic.

The six other females present in the Nakatsukasa daughter's living room stared at her as she played with her fingers and the hem of her shirt. They had the dramatics part down pat; Tsubaki had to give it to them. They knew how to stir up a storm and then they knew exactly when to shut up and scrutinize her until she felt like she was a museum exhibit.

"What are you talking about? There's no way I could possibly tell him!" she said fervently and she was pretty sure she was close to fainting from overheating and hyperventilation by just considering it.

"Why the hell not?" Kim interjected with a tone just as incredulous as Tsubaki's had been. "You've been by his side for so long—why would you think he wouldn't want to know how you feel about him?"

"Even though it is Black Star we're talking about," Jackie added, making the eyes of the girls briefly turn to her. "I mean, he's a bit dimwitted in the emotions department and all."

"Exactly because I've been with him for so long," Tsubaki all but moaned, pulling her knees up to her body and resting her back against the couch she was sitting in front of. "We've been partners for so long I'm sure he's going to think it's weird."

"Uh, are we still talking about Black Star?" Liz picked up, her brow cocked so high up it almost reached her fine hairline. "The Black Star, the guy who makes off-hand comments about your breasts or your ass or any other parts of your anatomy every chance he gets?"

Tsubaki shook her head in denial.

"That's different. The fact he's attracted to how I look doesn't mean he's interested in me," she reasoned quietly, burying her chin between her kneecaps.

Maka was watching the entire exchange wordlessly, all the while experiencing a strong sense of déjà vu. She was amazed how her friends had phrased her thoughts exactly as she had when Tsubaki had first told her of her little romantic "problem"—well, she'd used different phrasing, of course. Less coarse than Liz's, but still – the gist was pretty much the same.

"He trusts you with his life every time you guys go on a mission – I don't think you have anything to worry about when it comes to romantic involvement," Kim explained, being the only competent speaker in the room about these things. She was, after all, the only one that had been in a stable relationship for more than three years now.

Her competence in the matter didn't seem to make much of an impression on Tsubaki though, because she was shaking her head insistently.

"How long have you liked him?" Liz thought to ask then and the other girl pinned her gaze to the carpet again.

"A few years," she muttered shyly, poking her finger into the plush of the carpet.

"A few years?" Jackie repeated disbelievingly. Patti laughed manically behind her, obviously hugely amused by the raven-haired girl's admission. "Since when?"

"Since we went into the book of Eibon and I realized that I was practically the splitting image of him but with longer hair and taller." The weapon's voice was so tiny it was barely audible but her friends heard her well.

And were they shocked. It had been about four years since that escapade that had almost cost them their lives and sanity.

"So… what are you going to do about it?" Maka coyly questioned, reiterating her query from earlier and successfully making the attention of the occupants in the room turn to their host whom they were currently interrogating mercilessly.

Tsubaki shrugged, her shoulders slumping.

"There's nothing I can do," she murmured, visibly deflating by her admission of defeat. "I can't say anything because I don't want our partnership to fall apart—I can't risk that. So I'll just keep my mouth shut and pretend that I don't know it."

Her words seemed to depress everyone present, whose expressions took on a crestfallen look.

"Then you should go out and party!" Patti cleverly deduced, making the women around her cock a brow.

"How is that going to help anything?" Kim couldn't understand. Patti rolled her eyes as if she was about to explain the most obvious thing in the world.

"Well, when things aren't going well, the best way to deal with them is to distract yourself with something else! Having a girls' night out would be the perfect cure for Tsubaki's broken heart!" the younger Thompson sister exulted and the females in the room were surprised by how unusually sensible her suggestion actually seemed.

"You know what? Patti's right! We should go out and have some fun!" Maka agreed heartily, a decisive look shining in her green gaze.

"We should go to a club and dance till we drop!" Liz continued, and five heads nodded.

"We'll drink till we collapse!" Patti added, laughing like a lunatic as she did.

"We'll score some dates!" Blair enthused, for the first time really interested in a conversation they had.

Tsubaki looked less and less convinced the more they said. It was written all over her face as she watched them talk about all the things they would do and all the places they could go to. Being as focused on their exchange, she didn't notice the other raven-haired weapon lean closer to her until she spoke up right next to her ear.

"I know this probably doesn't seem like the best idea to you now, but you've earned yourself a break. Humour them—go out, go clubbing with us for a while, dance and have some fun. There's no reason you shouldn't be happy even without him."

The Nakatsukasa heiress turned to look Jackie fully in the face and the girl nodded at her. A small smile played on the Death Scythe's face, and she let herself wonder what kind of adventure this could possibly turn into.

"Are these all you've got?" Liz asked incredulously while she rummaged through the hangers in Tsubaki's wardrobe.

The chain scythe blushed in embarrassment at the way the elder Thomson sibling regarded her clothes.

"All of these are so prim and proper—we can't have you wear these in a club!" she all but wailed in horror, making three sets of brows rise over their respective eyes.

The long haired brunette sighed in exasperation.

"If we're going to do this, we're doing it right. And to make it easier on you, we'll do it in steps."

Her explanation made sense, so Tsubaki nodded slowly, a bit reassured by the orderliness of Liz's suggestion. Order and step-by-step walkthroughs made her feel more confident when she was out of her element—like she was with this predicament she'd got herself into.

"Alright, so first thing we need to do is get you some clothes appropriate for the occasion." The Death Scythe nodded her raven head, feeling a bit shy under the demon gun's expert critical gaze over her figure. "You have the right stuff—all you need now is the right presentation."

After a brief period of checking her out, she came to a conclusion that made her smirk confidently.

"I have just what you need. We're going to need to stop by at our place to get you ready."

Tsubaki gulped down the dread that had risen in her throat. She hoped she really was doing the right thing by humouring her friends with this. She knew they meant well so she didn't have a legitimate reason to say no.

Still, she couldn't help noting the alarms that went off in her head as she was dragged off by her arm towards Shinigami's mansion where Liz would unleash her (evil) fashion genius on her.

"Alright. Now open them," the elder Thompson commanded her and, ever the obedient woman she was, she did as told. "Look straight at me," Liz demanded again.

When she obliged with that as well, the demon gun girl gave her the most critical evaluating look she had ever managed, studying the work she had done on her. Despite her earlier worries about how this would end, Tsubaki couldn't help feeling a bit excited about what she was going to see staring back at her from the mirror when Liz was finished.

"Okay—I'm done!" Liz said triumphantly, a confident lopsided grin stretching on her lips. "You can look at yourself now!"

As she turned around to take a look at herself in the older Thomson sister's mirror, Tsubaki barely managed not to jump in surprise at what she saw in it. It took her a while to process that this was her staring back at her from the reflection.

She had to give it to Liz – she really could work magic with that beauty kit of hers.

Her make-up wasn't too much so as to make her look older than she was and it wasn't too little so it wouldn't appear as if it was hardly existent. It blended quite nicely with her complexion and accentuated the curves of her fine face, emphasizing on the deep colour of her eyes. It complemented her perfectly, bringing out all her natural beauty without tampering with its pureness.

Her hair was done in a messy bun of a hairstyle that was easy to move around with—and, she was sure, to dance wildly with—without fearing it would be ruined. The dress was a rather exquisite thing for Tsubaki's usual taste: a black chiffon one-piece that fell freely from the upper part which was a strapless corset, hugging her curvaceous body nicely, complementing her figure. It wasn't too short nor was it too long—it would be perfect for partying, she knew.

Tsubaki had never been known as being overly narcissistic but she was having a hard time tearing her eyes away from the image staring back at her from the mirror. Although admittedly a large part of that was due to her inability to wrap her mind around the fact that this was her—the same girl she had been for the past twenty-odd years of her life.

Liz stood by her side silently the entire time, her pleased grin growing the more time Tsubaki spent studying her face and clothes.

"I think I don't need to ask you what you think," she said boastfully and Patti laughed raucously behind them as she watched them. "I believe we can finally proceed to step two now—actually getting you in the heart of a party!"

"They're gonna eat you up like warm bread!" Patti exulted behind them and Tsubaki laughed awkwardly, wondering how that was possibly going to be a good thing in any way.

Music was booming all around them, drowning the sound of the huge crowd of people grinding together to the hypnotizing beat under the colourful show of lights.

Tsubaki felt out of place and more than a little uncomfortable, and if Maka's expression was anything to go by, so was her best friend. The Nakatsukasa heiress wondered briefly how she had possibly allowed herself to get conned into doing this and considered making an excuse to leave.

"We'll have—" Blair's purple-haired head whipped to the side for a moment so she could count for added certainty, "—seven tequila shots, a few slices of lemon and some salt, please," the catty witch said in a sing-song voice and her seductive low-cut dress seemed to mesmerize the bartender into immediately complying with her will.

"What is this?" Maka asked with unhidden revulsion as she eyed the drink Blair put in front of her on the table they had chosen.

They were in a secluded part of the club which gave them a sense of privacy that the more center-stage tables did not.

"It's a tequila shot," Liz hollered over the loud music so Maka could hear her. The sandy-blond woman eyed her with distaste before shifting her gaze back to the offending glass of liquid in front of her. "Don't be such a prude, Maka—drink up!"

The addressed female bristled and sputtered. She launched into a tirade about how Liz was misunderstanding her and how belittling that was but her complaints fell on deaf ears.

"What do we need the lemon and salt for?" Jackie asked skeptically, poking the fresh slices of the citrus with her finely filed finger.

"Because tequila isn't tasty on its own, duh!" Patti thrilled, amused, licking her hand and then shaking some salt over the spot.

Tsubaki, Kim, Jackie and even Maka—though she pretended she didn't—watched the younger Thomson sister with awe as she licked the salt off her hand, downed her shot glass and then bit on a slice of lemon. She did it in such a quick succession that they felt disoriented.

"Alright, kiddos, here's what you have to do," Liz began and proceeded to teach the four of them how to enjoy the unique ride called a tequila shot.

Three servings later, Tsubaki was starting to feel a little lightheaded and that the music was beckoning to her to make a move. When she started rocking in her seat, Liz grinned and threw an arm around her shoulders.

"I think you're liquored up enough to join the dance floor, Tsubaki, m'dear!" the Thompson girl said in a slur as she dragged the girl off with a clear destination in mind.

"This is awesome!" Maka yelled so her table mates would be able to hear her. "I didn't think this could be so much fun!" she said in a high-pitched voice while she sipped on her Mojito—an alcoholic cocktail that she found much more agreeable than the tequila.

Her discovery of it was, of course, courtesy of Blair who was always eager to please when it came to making her friends realize the beauty of her hobbies.

It wasn't long after Tsubaki and Liz had disappeared in the crowd of strangers grinding together to the sound of tantalizing music that Patti and Jackie decided to join them, leaving Kim and Maka to try to chat over the blaring beat. The two had conceded to come along for the ride but neither was comfortable with dancing with any unknown guys, seeing as they were committed to their significant others. Blair had taken that chance to venture off into the crowd herself, in search of new prey to toy with.

It didn't take Patti and Jackie long to find the other Thompson girl and Tsubaki, who were currently the center of attention as they danced freely to the music.

The four of them danced together, enjoyed the company of an occasional courter but never letting them linger for long thanks to the unity of their front. They were quite the sight—a quartet of beautiful women together, laughing and dancing and having a great time.

"I'll go have a seat for a while," Tsubaki told Liz after a few songs who nodded at her but didn't volunteer to join her as she continued riding the wave of the party.

The raven-haired girl giggled and retreated towards their table where she found Maka and Kim in the company of a bottle she didn't remember being there when she left.

"What's that?" she asked breathlessly as she slid into her seat, fanning her face with a hand.

She immediately knew from the way Kim cackled that it was definitely not juice.

"It's liquid magic," the witch said cheekily and then both younger girls laughed at an inside joke they probably had going on.

Being decently out of it herself, Tsubaki found hilarious the fact she had no idea what they were talking about.

"Here, have some, too!" Maka offered and didn't wait for an answer before she poured the Nakatsukasa heiress a glassful of the alcohol. She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively at her as she lifted her own full glass of the drink, proposing a toast. "To great fun nights out with the girls!" she said exultantly, clinking her glass against Tsubaki's and against Kim's, then taking a lucrative sip of the liquid sloshing in it.

When Tsubaki mirrored her bravely, she found the alcohol they had given her much more acceptable than the tequilas she'd had earlier. At least this one had a taste on its own.

By the time she got up from the table to join the others on the dance floor again, she found her world was spinning. And that made her giggle because, strictly speaking, the world was always spinning—she just didn't usually feel it as acutely as she did then.

Her sudden lack of balance made her think she'd be unstable on her feet but instead of destabilizing her, it made her much more aware of the beat pumping in her body from the huge speakers, of her blood diluted with alcohol coursing in her veins, of the hypnotizing movements of the throngs of people surrounding her.

Then in the next moment, a song she could almost swear begot a resonance with her very soul came on and it was like her body started moving on its own. She started pulling moves she had seen people around her do earlier in the night, incorporating them masterfully with her improvised dance.

Her eyes were so slightly cracked open that she didn't notice when people around her made room for her to move freely, a small circle forming around her, outside of which the crowd stared with open awe at her and her flexibility.

She was the vision of a seductress: with the swiftness of her motions, her curves hugged nicely by the dress Liz had provided her with, her creamy skin coated with a thin sheen of sweat that shone daringly under the colour lights of the disco and her half-opened eyes that pulled the gazes of the men around her with a force more powerful and inescapable than gravity itself.

When her song ended, she came out of her trance—as much as it was possible with the amounts of tequila and gin she had consumed—and became aware of the penetrating stare of someone who was drinking her in from behind.

The Death Scythe made an attempt to turn on her heel to see who had approached her but in the process she nearly toppled over, not exactly used to the high heels and her incapability aided by her inebriation.

Before she could humiliate herself by falling face-first on the floor, a strong arm wound around her waist, pulling her into a warm embrace her very existence welcomed heartily.

She hadn't realized how much she'd wanted to be held by someone taller and as buff before it had become a fact. And it was for this reason that she let her head linger against the well-sculpted chest a bit more than necessary without even realizing it.

"You turned out to be quite the party girl, huh?" the stranger whispered directly in her ear and his deep voice made a shiver run down the length of her spine.

She wondered briefly how it was possible for her to hear him so clearly over the loudness of the blaring music. Then any coherent thoughts of the sort were discarded when every point of her skin that made contact with his felt like it was lit on fire, the mere touch of him setting her senses alight.

"Would you care to give me this dance?" he asked huskily against her earlobe and thus drew a sound much akin to a purr from her throat. He cocked an intrigued eyebrow at her reaction but she did not see that—she couldn't focus on that intricate of a detail. She couldn't even look up at him.

"I'd give you more than just a dance," she answered in a sultry voice and was pleased when a chuckle rumbled from his chest. She felt the vibration directly transfer to hers since she had her upper back leaning against his front.

And after she'd said it, the part of her—tiny though it was, admittedly—that was still thinking clearly was horrified and dumb-struck by how she could possibly have said such a thing, especially with all the innuendo she'd loaded it with. This was not her. It was definitely not. She now knew why alcohol was branded evil—it deformed people terribly and made them do weird things they wouldn't otherwise even consider as part of their repertoire.

And yet she knew in the more shallow parts of her mind which spoke before she could reconsider what she was going to say that she did want to enjoy this stranger's company, because his presence was somehow soothing and somewhat familiar and made processes she didn't know she could experience transpire in her body.

When he rubbed up against her back, she leaned closer into him, feeling the need to get more of him, as close as physically possible and it never being enough. She was led by the tantalizing rhythm of the music, becoming more and more swallowed by the warmth that spread out from the pit of her stomach towards every point in her body. She could barely register anything around her and yet she could sense with a scary height of awareness how the friction of their bodies affected her, how it sent all her senses in overdrive.

Make no mistake, she still had Black Star on her mind and she knew that this was what she would probably feel if she ever could get in a situation like this with him—if not even more powerful. But she wasn't an idiot—she realized it would never happen because she was too much of a coward to tell him how she felt. And she needed this, right then—the feel of security, of an attractive man holding her because he was interested in her, even if it was just because of the alcohol.

And she was drunk enough to be so daring as to allow herself to act upon her wishes.

God knew she had abstained from enough in her everyday life to have to force herself to act decent with strangers she'd never meet again as well.

When the song ended she felt even dizzier than before so she was grateful for the slow tune that came on. That way she had the perfect excuse to wrap her arms around his neck and rest her forehead against his chest. The fact that he towered about a head and a half over her made a pleasant jab prod her gut.

As she rested her weight against him, she breathed in the strong, distinctly masculine scent of his muscle shirt and for some reason she felt like home.

"You feel nice," she murmured against the fabric of his shirt and she felt rather than heard him chuckle in response, resting his cheek on the side of the top of her head.

"Thanks—you're quite nice to the touch and easy on the eyes yourself." His baritone voice was so melodic and dreamy that it—coupled with the fluid motions of their slow dancing in the middle of the floor—almost lulled her to sleep.

Almost because every nook and cranny of her entire being still felt on fire under his touch.

Especially now that his large palms were resting on her hips and fit there perfectly, as if that was where they belonged.

"Do you want to sit down?" he asked her after a bit and she realized in her trance-like half-awake state that the song had ended. She nodded slowly and led him towards the table she and the girls shared.

Tsubaki wondered whether she should feel alarmed by the fact she was perfectly comfortable holding a stranger's hand and inviting him over to their table.

Those musings quickly flew out of her mind when they arrived and her single-track mind reduced to the state thanks to the alcohol became engaged with pondering where Maka and Kim were. The table was perfectly empty of human presence.

And then she wondered whether she even had the right table—she was starting to feel insecure about the sanity of her mind.

Her companion slid easily into a seat on the cushioned couch and she joined his side, feeling much more relieved when the larger portion of her joints was supported by solid surface underneath instead of having to rely on her waning strength.

She sighed in content and relaxed in her seat, her head lolling to the side and ending up resting on her new friend's muscled shoulder.

"Are you alright?" he asked her and she felt infinitely flattered by the note of worry hidden well underneath the amusement of his tone.

"Never better," she said and laughed nonsensically.

"Do you want me to take you home?" he asked and a remote part of her mind wondered—her home or his did he mean?

"No, I can't go home yet!" she protested strongly, picking up her head from his shoulder and fixing her barely open eyes on the gin bottle. She poured what little was left of it in her glass.

"Quite the brave drinker, aren't we?" her companion asked her, laughter bubbling in his tone.

"Well, I don't really have a choice. My friends dragged me here with instructions of a step-by-step plan," she said seriously but her attempt at making a straight face failed when she couldn't even focus on his face. She shook her head and gave up on the impossible feat, turning her attention to the glass in her numb fingers' hold.

"Really?" he asked, and she could feel the palpable intrigue permeating the word. "And what's that?" he prompted, and she didn't doubt for a minute that he was genuinely interested.

"Well, first I had to get the "right presentation", as my friend—Liz—said." She flourished her hand with more enthusiasm than was absolutely necessary to motion at herself – her dress, hair and make-up. "She said I already had the "right stuff" so the rest would be piece of cake."

Tsubaki chuckled mirthfully at the remembrance that suddenly struck her as quite humorous. She shook her head to rid it of the images as she continued her elaboration when she became aware of his curious gaze still on her face as he waited for her to resume what she was saying.

"The second was getting me into a club that has music I like, too. The third was making me loosen up with a few drinks," she said as she lifted up her glass to demonstrate.

"I can see you friend—Liz, was it?—did a fine job of that one," he said with a chuckle and grabbed a free glass from the table, pouring himself some gin as well and toasting Tsubaki with it. She smiled so widely her face felt like it would crack and she knew in that moment that she liked this guy. He could appreciate her humour.

"Yup! It wasn't easy though, let me tell you—all those tequilas did help though." She could see him nod out of the corner of her eye and she could swear she could feel him grinning at her but she didn't even try to focus on his expression, since fine details like that made her head throb with the effort.

So instead she just focused on sipping her drink cheerily.

"There was a fourth one, too, but I didn't think I'd get that far."

"And what was it?" he prompted her when she stared into the distance for too long. At her blatant confusion and inability to focus on his face, he decided to elaborate—make it easier for her to remember what she had been talking about before her mind had veered into an entirely different direction. "What was the fourth step of your Get Social plan?"

"You," she answered simply, lifting her glass again and staying oblivious to the blatant amused confusion that was written across his face.

"Me?" he reiterated in a disbelieving tone. He was enjoying this conversation way too much.

"She told me to find a nice guy to hang out with. She didn't think I would and neither did I but guess we were all wrong." Tsubaki grinned widely and finished her drink, throwing her head back to swallow the last of the liquid.

The sudden movement was a mistake because it made her head spin and she had to tilt back in her seat and put her back against the backrest again. Her breathing was a bit shallower as she fought sleep that tried to claim her.

"Why not?" he continued questioning and she couldn't help but wonder how she could find the most curious talker out of them all there.

She didn't get much time to begrudge him his curiosity though as he soon gently lifted her head and put his arm between it and the cold wall of the club, cushioning her. She tried to lift her eyes to look at him but only managed to focus on his jaw that was the closest thing to her limited vision. She grinned airily, wondering how she could've been so lucky.

"Because I was feeling down and they wanted to cheer me up," she volunteered quietly, letting her head settle on the crook of his neck and enjoying the sensation his body warmth caused in her own being.

"You were feeling down about something? I wouldn't have guessed you were from the way you were dancing not too long ago," he whispered huskily in a playful tone in her ear and she giggled compulsively. His breath tickled her earlobe.

"Yeah—I've had this… huge crush on a guy I live with and lately it's been getting harder to pretend I didn't so I was feeling really bad and the girls felt sorry for me so they took me here and gosh, I'm rambling," a manic giggle punctured her speech, "I'm sorry, I'll shut up now."

"Oh, I don't mind—I'm actually pretty curious about this," the guy with the mesmerizing voice said and she heaved a sigh. "If you live with him, why don't you tell him? About how you feel?"

Tsubaki huffed in a manner very unusual for her and picked her head up from his shoulder to stare grumpily at the other end of the table.

"Why does no one understand this?" When she pouted, he couldn't help a laugh but thankfully, she seemed to be on a row and didn't notice his reaction to her crankiness. "You don't just… say things like that out of the blue! How do you imagine this would go? "Oh, welcome back, Black Star—dinner's ready and you can use the bath and, oh, by the way, I'm in love with you and I want you so bad I can barely contain myself!"

He hadn't noticed it before she'd started talking about what was worrying her but from what she just said he was sure she had no idea who he was.

For this reason he was very much grateful to whatever luck he had that she was too drunk to pay attention to how he slightly stiffened beneath her when she mentioned the name of her crush. If she couldn't be bothered to recognize him, he felt that was absolute carte blanche to do whatever he damn well pleased with her.

She huffed after mocking the would-be conversation starter she'd have, shaking her head and then resting it back on his shoulder.

"Yeah, that would end well, I can see it now." She felt more displeased than before she'd come to the club. Alcohol was obviously very bad for aggravating her foul moods as well as making all her social inhibitions drop.

"So your friends took you here to distract you from your unrequited love?" he began cautiously to her side, shifting slightly to accommodate her better against him.

"I think that was the big idea, yes," she murmured and she felt her consciousness slipping her grasp.

"Then, would you like me to distract you, too?" he whispered in a sultry tone in her ear.

Before she could ask him what he was on about, she felt his warm breath ghost over her exposed neck as he angled himself to reach her. Her air supply hitched in her throat as he traced the column of her neck, his nose tracing her jaw line then his lips hovering over hers in a tauntingly close proximity but never quite closing it completely. He was teasing her and she knew it and she actually enjoyed it.

"Can you?" she murmured against his mouth and she could feel the smirk she begot in him when he leaned into her cheek to place butterfly kisses along the side of her face.

Every touch of his soft lips against her face made a knot in her belly tighten and twist in a teasing, pleasant way that she was quickly getting addicted to. The hand that wasn't supporting her head and had been on her waist now slowly slid up to cup one of her round breasts over the fabric of her dress, slowly kneading the mound of sensitive flesh.

Her body was reacting to his ministrations in ways she had never known she could feel at all. She felt short of breath and lightheaded in a way she was sure the alcohol was not responsible for. And at the same time all her senses were much more alert and sending even more signals to her brain than they ordinarily would, going haywire from the pleasant stimulation her seductive, faceless stranger provided.

"How am I doing?" he asked her again after a bit, his breath fanning against her lips and making her tongue dart out to lick and moisten hers.

"Splendid," she rasped out before she locked her mouth with his, acting on impulses she hadn't known she had.

She should've been alarmed she had allowed herself to get so intimate with a faceless stranger she'd met in a bar like this. She should've been horrified because this wasn't the kind of girl she was usually.

But he didn't know that. And she just couldn't bring herself to care anymore. She was sick of being in control, sick of having to be the good girl all the time, sick of the pressure it made her bear every goddamn day! She needed relief, she needed to vent and she needed to feel good about herself.

And this man seemed to her garbled mind in that moment to hold the key to what she wanted, so she was not going to waste her time shying away from it instead of pursuing what she wanted, when she wanted it.

Tsubaki felt her companion smirk against her mouth when she deepened the kiss, pushing her tongue into the recesses of his mouth and engaging his tongue in a fervent battle for dominance. She savoured the feeling of the warmth that spread in the pit of her stomach, how something tickled her innards and how wonderful the texture of his tongue felt against hers as it massaged, conquered and yielded, slid in and out of her oral cavity in a rhythm that made her loins burn with white hot blinding desire.

She exhaled heavily through her nose and angled her head differently, finally holding herself alert on her own as her fingers buried in the soft spikes of his hair. She gently kneaded his scalp as he continued exploring her mouth in that mind-boggling way that blew any coherent thought from her head.

She couldn't help noticing how pleasant to the touch his tresses were under her digits.

When they pulled apart for much needed air, his face buried in her neck, lavishing the column of creamy white flesh with generous open-mouthed kisses. Her fingers had clenched in his hair and she held him secure against her as a throaty moan escaped her.

She felt her desire spiraling out of control before she stopped paying it any heed altogether.

Maka and Kim giggled as they made their way back to the table after coming back to the bathroom. There had been a huge queue for the toilet and it had taken them a while to get to actually using the stalls. But thanks to their brilliant idea of sharing the trip, they hadn't been bored while waiting.

When they were a few steps from their table and the people who had been blocking their view of it cleared from their sight, both girls became rooted to their spots, shock seizing both their bodies.

There, in front of their very eyes, the most incomprehensible thing was happening.

The most goody-two-shoes out of the Spartoi girls team, none other than Tsubaki herself, was straddling the waist of a guy at their table while she was kissing him like there was going to be no tomorrow.

Maka was at a loss for words as she stared in wide-eyed horror, wondering just how this could've happened in the short time they had been gone and unable to supervise her.

"I think I've had a bit too much to drink tonight, because I'm starting to hallucinate things that can't possibly be happening," Kim said to her side, rubbing her eyes.

"If it's about Tsubaki making out with some guy, I can see it, too."

Both girls stood frozen in horror and wondering what they should do in a situation like this. They couldn't very well just go there and kick the guy to the curb—well, not like they couldn't but they shouldn't, because, realistically speaking, it was none of their business. Still, they felt responsible because they had been part of the Drag Tsubaki to a Club and Get Her Drunk So She Can Unwind plan. And this guy had definitely not been part of the plan because the repercussions would have long-term effects, as opposed to the liquoring up.

However, when the couple broke apart and Tsubaki bent down to attack his throat, they got a good look at his face over her shoulder and they couldn't stop their jaws from dropping.

The girls exchanged a look between each other, goofy grins beginning to stretch their faces as they took another look at the blissful and very much familiar face of Tsubaki's companion. There was no room for doubt about it—they had no idea how it happened but they weren't about to get in the way of it.

"We should go tell the others," Kim said with a wiggle of her brows. Her eyes involuntarily strayed to the couple on their lounge, where the guy's hands were starting to take great liberties with Tsubaki's well-rounded bottom but judging by the way she arched against him, their friend didn't seem to mind.

That's as much as the young witch allowed herself to see before she felt like she was breaching politeness and treading into voyeurism.

"Yeah, we should," Maka agreed with a giggle and they went off on a search for their friends in the crowd.

By the time they had found them and explained the situation, the pair was gone from the table.

"You're sure it was him?" Liz asked again for the umpteenth time, obviously having not been convinced the first five she'd asked the same question.

Maka rolled her eyes.

"It's kind of hard to mistake him, y'know," Kim supplied, making the older Thompson sister nod thoughtfully in agreement.

"Well, it was about damn time!" Patti whooped triumphantly.

The girls exchanged a knowing look, smiles stretching on their faces.

They had to agree—it was about damn time.

Tsubaki had no idea when she'd shifted from leaning against his side to straddling his waist but she appreciated the change. She had easier access to his mouth this way and she had maximized the friction surface between them.

As she moved slowly against him, the inside of her upper thigh brushed against his crotch and a seductive throaty sound tore from his chest, reverberating directly into hers. She immediately took a liking to it and pressed against him more daringly, finding that the action elicited a rather strong response in her own body. The heat pooled between her spread legs and she bit on a rasped breath when his hips grinded up into her warmth.

She was out of her element and in rather deep waters there but she could feel how hard the bulge in his pants was and she felt very turned on by how aroused she'd been able to make him. She'd always suffered inferiority complexes and having a man appreciate her—even in a strictly carnal way—made her inebriated mind feel flattered.

"We should take this somewhere private," she whispered breathily against his ear while she nibbled on his lobe. "I live close to this place."

"Okay," he agreed huskily, helping her up and following her out the club.

The light of the moon outside the bar shone on the mischievous and a bit lewd grin stretching his lips and the star-shaped tattoo on his bare right shoulder.

While weaving their way through the club, the girls unexpectedly ran into Soul, Kid, Kilik, Ox and Harvar. They appeared to be looking for someone when they spotted their friends.

"What are you guys doing here?" Jackie exclaimed, surprised to see the male part of Spartoi.

"What did you think we were doing when we said we're going to have a guys' night out?" Kilik asked with a grin while putting down an empty shot glass.

"Do you come here regularly?" Maka asked her partner as she eyed him sipping his drink blissfully. Soul shrugged noncommittally.

"We come here, have a drink, we dance and then we go home. Harmless, clean fun," Ox explained under the close scrutiny of Kim.

"Yeah, right—says the puker," Kilik joked, jabbing Ox in the ribs with an elbow and making the boy blush.

"Have you guys seen Black Star? He went to get us refills and never came back," Kid asked the girls who grinned amongst themselves at that. The Shinigami cocked a brow. "What?"

"I think Black Star is… a little busy right now," Liz said cheekily, making the Death God's son even more confused.

"What do you mean?" Soul interrupted curiously.

"You don't need to worry about him – he went home. Tsubaki needed escort and they… ran into each other, so he took her back." The stupid wide grin Jackie said this with made the boys wonder how much of her story was true.

"Anyway, we should all head home. It's getting late," Kim said and her friends nodded reluctantly, guessing it was really about time they threw the towel in.

Tsubaki stumbled back through the front door, her mouth never breaking away from her partner's as she felt her way into the room beyond.

Black Star didn't even pause for the bat of an eyelash before kicking the door shut and following Tsubaki into her bedroom. She tumbled backwards onto the bed but not without pulling him in with her.

He crawled on top of her and showered generous kisses all over her face and neck as his calloused hands lifted her gently up to undo the zipper of her dress. Goosebumps broke out on her heated skin when she felt exposed to the cool air of the room. She didn't get time to dwell on the temperature change though because soon her front-latch strapless bra came off as well and a large, warm hand cupped her breast, massaging the soft flesh.

She moaned into his mouth as he fondled her and in response to the arousing sound she'd made, his hips thrusted against hers, making both of them release a pleased hiss at what the action had made both of them experience. She heard the rustle of fabric and she knew that her—or rather, Liz's—dress had been peeled carefully off of her and discarded to the ground. Her nimble lover then made quick work of her panties, sliding them off her long, toned legs.

His hand slid appreciatively up the side of her leg as he kissed her passionately. Her breath hitched in her throat when he slowed his motions as he reached her upper thigh, shifting his hand to move towards the inside of her leg.

His fingers brushed against her sex and his pulse quickened in excitement when he found how wet she was for him already. She tried to focus on him as he fingered her entrance, experimentally inserting a finger in her folds, then another.

She stopped attempting to do the impossible as her garbled mind refused to turn her attention at the present moment—making her believe that her bed partner was her crush when that was quite impossible—and let herself enjoy the sensations his expert fingers elicited from her body as he moved them in and out of her in a mind-blowing rhythm.

His mouth had moved south to her ample breasts, claiming her nipple and teasing it with his tongue while his free hand squeezed teasingly the other breast. As he lavished her chest with generous attention, his thumb angled to rub her clit and he sped up his fingers' thrusts.

Her dainty digits tangled in his azure locks, keeping his head against her breasts as her back arched into his still clothed form, rubbing against him. She found him entirely too dressed up for her preference, tugging on his muscle shirt and slipping her hands under it to feel the impeccable forms of his back lined with robust muscle. He was very well-built and that made the pressure building in her crotch intensify.

She made a disappointed sound when his fingers left her body but she didn't have time to sulk as he was quick to reclaim her lips with his, having taken just a heartbeat of a moment to take off his shirt and pants. Much more pleased to feel skin slick with sweat against hers now, Tsubaki wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him down for an ardent kiss while he positioned himself between her legs.

When his engorged shaft brushed against the inside of her thigh, Tsubaki sucked on a breath. Her eyesight had been reduced to minimum efficiency because of how the world spun around her but she could feel even if she couldn't see that he was rather large against her leg. She bit on her lip and he looked down at her prettily flushed face while his tip pushed against her moist entrance. He didn't wait to be prompted before invading her with a sharp thrust.

His swift plunge into her robbed them both of their breath and he stiffened against her, shoulders tense and squared as he held himself above her on his propped up elbows. His breath came in laboured puffs against her neck as he lowered his head to kiss her tenderly.

As he started up a pace and that teasing pressure started building at the base of her spine, Tsubaki slowly felt the initial searing pain ebb away and give room to a blinding pleasure that fried all her coherent thoughts.

Her cries of ecstasy and his grunts of restrained desire filled the room and bounced off the walls, filling their heads with nothing but one another. When she pled with him to speed up or to be rougher, he wasted no time complying with her wishes, burying his face in the crook of her neck and breathing in her intoxicating scent while he rammed into her with increasing force and haste.

Her voice had become stringent and high pitched and her toes were curling as her fingers clutched at his muscled shoulders. All she could make sense of anymore was the fact he filled her to the brim and completed her so perfectly, his grunts against her neck aroused her until she believed her body could no longer handle it and there was a blinding tingling tension building just behind her eyelids, spreading from her spine to every corner of her body.

As her release claimed her, she screamed a name she would realize she shouldn't have. But without her knowing it, it helped her drag him down off the edge with her, making him come right after her with something akin to a roar he muffled against the crook of her shoulder.

It was amazing how it didn't bother Tsubaki's confounded cognitive processes that he had called her name in the throes of passion even though she didn't recall introducing herself to him at all.

It probably had something to do with the fact that once he had brought her to an orgasm, all the tension that had been wiring her entire system siphoned out of her and she slipped right into a deep sleep underneath him.

Tsubaki stirred in her slumber, clutching her eyes shut tighter when the thin trickle of light touched her eyelids. She felt groggy and a bit sore and there was a distinct discomfort in her temples.

Slowly, as if through a haze, memories of the night before started filtering into her half-conscious mind. Getting together with the girls, laughing and joking and having fun together, then her confessing to them about her feelings for her long-time Shibusen partner.

Dread started filling her being as she gradually recollected how she'd allowed Liz to dress her up in one of her more daring dresses and drag her to a club where she'd drunk and danced more than she had in a lifetime before.

Her eyes snapped open and she bolted into a sitting position when she remembered the stranger she'd hooked up with and, and—

Her head whipped to look at a naked male figure buried under the covers to her side, one arm lined with sinewy muscle draped over his face and obscuring the larger part of his head from her prying eyes' view.

Horror filtered into her system and she all but jumped away from the bed as though scalded, grabbing some of the covers to put around herself as she paced the length of the room. Oh hell, this had not happened. This was going to be a disaster!

What would Black Star think about her when he saw some random guy neither of them had even seen before come out from her room? What would she say when he asked her who he was and what he was doing there?

How would she ever salvage their partnership after the huge disappointment she would surely be with this stunt she'd pulled?

Sure, she'd been desperate and needy and much too susceptible to the alcohol in her blood, and she hadn't been thinking clearly when she'd invited a stranger into her bed, but this…!

She really didn't know what to think of herself anymore. She didn't know if she herself would ever be able to trust her own judgment again.

A sleepy moan reached her ears from the direction of the bed and she heard the sheets ruffling as her lover shifted. She swallowed dryly and turned her head slowly to look at him.

If she'd thought she'd been panicked and speechless before, her state of mind after she'd turned could only be described as utterly petrified when a familiar emerald bleary gaze pinned to her and an endearing face she knew better than she knew her own peered at her from under a chiseled forearm.

The very object of her affections smiled at her sleepily from her bed.

"Good morning," he croaked before propping himself up on an elbow and rubbing the bridge of his nose, trying to rid himself of the remnants of sleep in his system.

That was Tsubaki's cue to lose control of her lower jaw and for it to fall slack open.

Well, damn

She moaned pitifully with her face buried in her hands in the middle of Maka and Soul's apartment under its inhabitants' scrutiny. She had just told them what had happened after she had left the club with who had obviously been Black Star all along, looking for advice about what she should do with this horrid predicament she'd got herself into.

Maka and Soul exchanged a meaningful look between themselves before turning back to the distressed Tsubaki.

"And you're upset about this because…?" Maka trailed off, giving her best friend the chance to fill in the blanks for them.

"How could I not be upset?!" the Death Scythe all but wailed in anguish. "This wasn't supposed to happen! I wasn't supposed to have a one night stand with my partner of five years!" She dry-sobbed into her hands. She felt the helplessness of her situation made her feel incompetent and stupid.

"Wow, you must've been really hammered not to recognize Black Star, of all people." Soul chuckled but his mirth was cut short when Maka elbowed him painfully in the ribs and gave him her most scathing look.

"What am I going to do?" the chain scythe groaned out into her palms.

"You should go back home and talk to him about what happened," Maka surmised sagely and Tsubaki threw her a disbelieving and shocked look.

"How could I—"

"What do you think it looked like to him when you bolted out the door as soon as you saw it was him you'd dragged to bed the previous night?" Soul interjected before she could launch into a panicked tirade.

The blood drained from his fellow Death Scythe's face and a look of horror twisted her features.

"Yeah. You need to go back and talk to him. Before even he draws conclusions from your reaction to seeing his face in your bed."

Tsubaki was out their door quicker than you could say "Hello!"

She had been hasty to react to Soul and Maka's clever manipulation but when she was in front of their apartment complex she remembered why she hadn't wanted to deal with in the first place.

And namely, what was she going to say to him?

She had no idea what to tell him. There was no coherent reason that would explain her behaviour and her unhinged actions the night before. Sure, it was Liz and the others who had dragged her into the club and given her alcohol but they hadn't made her get all over him and sleep with him. That had been all her. And in her attempt to run away from her initial problem by creating a smaller secondary one, she'd fabulously succeeded in making the first one a few times worse.

Brilliant. Just… brilliant.

She spun on her heel and marched off in the opposite direction of the one she had been headed but she became rooted to the spot when Soul's voice of reason echoed in the recesses of her mind. What was Black Star going to think of her leaving after finding out that it wasn't a faceless stranger she had slept with? Would he take her reaction as disappointment to finding him in her bed the morning after? What kind of thoughts would run through his mind while she expertly avoided a conversation she didn't want to have?

Biting her fuller lower lip, she carefully turned to face the complex that towered daunting over her again. She cautiously ascended the steps towards the apartment she shared with her crush. Her heart hammered in her ribcage with a thick mixture of one too many emotions at the same time.

She crept into the apartment with the carefulness of a skilled burglar. When she didn't see him in the small hallway of their home, she let herself in as quietly as possible, mentally reprimanding herself immediately afterwards for her immature behaviour.

Tsubaki found her flat mate with his back facing her, his attention fully focused on the video game he was playing on the console wired to the TV.

"Um, Black Star?" she began cautiously but he paid her no heed. He didn't even flinch when she spoke up and she knew she had been a fool to think he with all his heightened senses wouldn't have felt her coming in even before she'd voiced her appearance. "I need to, um… talk to you for a bit."

This time he paused briefly from his game to throw her a grin over his shoulder that made her heart skip. His head whipped back to look at the screen in the very next moment.

"What's there to talk about?" he said as he vigorously jumped over pits of molten lava and slashed monsters in half with his video character.

Tsubaki sat awkwardly on the couch behind him, fumbling with her fingers in her lap and biting her lip again.

"About, uh… what happened last night."

"If there are parts of it you don't remember, I'd be happy to aid your memory," Black Star said with a hearty laugh and his partner blushed madly as her mind helpfully supplied images from the night in question.

"No, I remember…" she muttered quietly and shifted her eyes to her feet when he threw her a cheeky grin.

"Good—then there's nothing to talk about." His tongue poked out of the corner of his mouth as he made the game character perform an especially tricky combo.

"I think we need to clear up something about last night," she began, her breathing coming out in short gasps as her pulse raced. She was so nervous and horrified at having to do this that she couldn't believe she hadn't fainted yet.

"Things seemed pretty clear to me," he supplied helpfully, his gaze still glued to the screen.

"Last night was a mistake," she said with an air of finality that finally drew him out of his video game craze enough to give her an unreadable look.

When she didn't add anything for a while, he paused the game and turned around to face her.

"What?" he spat in disbelief, his brows high above his eyes.

Tsubaki swallowed dryly, feeling the full brunt of his stare settle on her.

"What happened last night was a mistake. I was drunk and didn't know what I was doing, and—"

"I didn't force you," he cut across her in a steely tone and she looked up, panicked.

"I didn't say you did!"

"Then you wanted to sleep with me. So don't try to make me think you didn't." She shut up at that perfectly logical argument of his and cursed whatever god had given him such strong powers of conviction when he usually couldn't make sense of a simple quadratic equation. "You didn't recognize me but you did want me."

"Yes, thinking you were someone else!"

He threw his hands up as he rose to his feet from his sitting position on the living room floor.

"Why are you trying so hard to negate this?" he asked her, brow scrunching up in nonplus. She swallowed thickly and looked away from him, her heart hammering in her ribcage.

"Because it was wrong and it shouldn't have happened," she said grudgingly as her whole being clenched on itself.

It wasn't like she wanted to push him away. What she did want was the exact opposite—she was almost overcome with the need to throw herself into his arms and hold onto him for dear life, confess to him how she felt and hope against hope that he felt the same.

But she couldn't do that. She was too afraid it wouldn't work out and their failed attempt at a relationship would ruin what they already had.

If last night's escapade hadn't already achieved that, that was.

"I wanted it to happen, and so did you—what's wrong with that?"

She shook her head until she felt like her brain started rattling in her head. Black Star sighed, exasperated with her unusual adamancy about this.

"Last night, when you thought you were talking to a stranger, you told me you liked me," he reminded her and her shoulders stiffened, her whole being freezing in stupor. "In your own words, you said 'you were in love' with me."

Tsubaki buried her face in her hands when she was overwhelmed by the need to hide from him while right in front of his very eyes. He sighed through his nose as he looked down at her seated form.

"Did you lie to me?" When she didn't react for a while, he pushed again. "Was it true?" Had she become catatonic or something? "Come on, Tsubaki, answer me!"

"I didn't lie," she squeaked out in a voice tinier than a mouse's, humiliated by the confession he'd ripped from her.

Her partner crouched down in front of her, putting a hand on her knee. She stiffened under his touch and he frowned—he didn't appreciate her change in reaction to his hands on her since last night to the current moment.

"Then why are you pushing yourself to undermine this?" He was genuinely confused by the lack of sensibility of her actions.

"Because!" she all but wailed out through her fingers. "I don't want to lose you!" she dry-sobbed, hunching over even further. "You're strong and independent but I'm not. If it doesn't work out and you grow to hate me, I can't even imagine how I'd be able to live with that."

He sighed softly through his nose and pulled on her hands, prying them away from her face. Her beautiful navy eyes were swimming with unshed tears and were open wide in her fright. He looked at her levelly with an undecipherable expression.

"Being so pessimistic doesn't suit you, Tsubaki," the assassin told her coolly then, brushing a stray strand of hair behind her ear. She blinked a few times in confusion. "How did you ever come up with this? How could I possibly come to hate you?"

"I—!" she began but he silenced her with an index finger to her lips. Her face flushed at his touch and he smirked while tracing the lines of her lips and the softness of her blushing cheek.

"Do you think I would sleep with you out of pity?" She looked down at the ground at his question and he scrutinized her even closer. "No, I wouldn't. And I'm really not all that generous either."

He pushed her chin up so he could look into her eyes which still tried their best to shy away from him. He fixed her with a meaningful stare that drew her into his pools of emerald green.

"So why do you think I did it?"

She bit her lip, shaking her head, and he almost laughed. For someone who all their friends supposed was the grown up in their partnership, she sure could be pretty childish at times.

"You know, I've been really frank about my feelings for you from day one and you still can't even suppose for a second that your unrequited crush might not be so unrequited after all?"

Blood rushed in her eardrums and her face with such ferociousness that all she could hear was her heartbeat in her ears. She wondered whether she hadn't dreamt up what she thought he had just said to her.

Then he grinned at her and leaned in, and her heart leapt in her throat even before he fully closed the distance between them.

"Do you still think this doesn't stand a chance?" he asked her breathlessly when he pulled away from her. His forehead pressed up against hers as she shared his air.

"I'm willing to admit it might work," she joked quietly and thus successfully elicited a chuckle from her partner.

That's when she felt the relief wash over her entire body like cool, refreshing water after four years spent in varying intensity of it but nevertheless constant tension.

No more "what if"s, no more uncertainty, no more dallying. His awkward confession had given her wings that made her feel lighter and capable of doing anything. As long as she had those, she didn't think she would be incapable of handling any problem.

"Still think last night was a mistake?" he queried in a playful tone and she mirrored his smirk.

"I think I ought to thank Liz—for the girls' night out and for getting me drunk."

They shared a laugh before he captured her lips with his again and proceeded to reenact the previous night's happenings with a bit more clarity of mind this time.


A/N: And there you have it. A little fluffy at the end but that's how I like 'em. :3 I'm not sure whether the end wasn't slightly weak but I'll let you be the judge of that. It was also my first attempt at writing so many Shibusen folk at once so, hmmm, I'm not really sure how well I handled that either.

This story was born because I wanted to write something inspired by The Kills' "Cheap and Cheerful" – listen to it. I thought that the "I want you to be crazy cause you're boring, baby, when you're straight" line of the lyrics really suited Tsubaki. I wanted to make her break out of her controlling streak and tap into her wild side for a night and thus, the results. Also, I purposefully changed a bit the names of famous celebrities that Patti guessed in the beginning of the story—in an attempt to imitate Ookubo's way of doing it. :D

If there's anything else that puzzles you, don't hesitate to leave a signed review or at least one with your e-mail, and I'd happily clarify anything you want me to about this story.

All in all, it was written for some smutty fun, so I hope you enjoyed the smut and had fun reading~ Feedback brightens my day, so please review to make this idiot happy~ x33

Yours sincerely, Dark Hope Assassin