Authorly preamble or something: Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time I watched the Sailor Fuku to Kikanjuu drama and loved Ranmaru and wanted to pair him up with Izumi, so I wrote what turned out to be the first chapter of this, intended as a standalone oneshot. But then a friend loved it and goaded me into a followup, and I was easily talked into a third section after that. Wow. Because of that each section is supposed to end conclusively and, up until the third part, was supposed to be able to fit into canon somewhere between episodes two and four. The last bit kind of diverges from canon, but still follows the first two or three episodes. Basically what I'm trying to say is I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this. ;)

It Gets Dark So Early in Asakusa


A grocery bag hits the ground. The cold ringing of an unsheathed blade. A newfound alleyway shortcut suddenly seems like a very, very bad idea, but...

Izumi's not really sure how things ended up like this, but from what she can tell he's at least a little confused himself. She wouldn't pretend to know Ranmaru well, she only knows his name from asking Sakuma after first meeting the Hamagumi Family, but she knows he's composed and the hitch in his breath gives him away more than he knows.

"Boss said to leave you alone for now," he says quietly, tone steady but stilted, and slides the blade of his tanto into the knot of her uniform tie. But that betrays him as well; she's seen him move that knife, precise and quick as lightning, and his present caution is unmistakable. He tugs carefully at the knot and presses the tip of the blade to her chest through her uniform to make a point, murmuring, "But I wonder if I should..."

"A- are you certain you're in a position to be saying that?" Izumi retorts, and even though her voice shakes she's got a very valid point. After all, Ranmaru's the one with his back to the ground; the only thing keeping Izumi in place straddling him is his hand gripping the back of her skirt's waistband.

A hint of vexation hardens his expression and he jerks his tanto down harshly, simultaneously tugging the knot of her tie loose and causing her to lose her balance. She flails her arms and only barely manages to catch herself, her face mere inches from his by the time she does. He smells faintly of apples, she realizes, and can't help but laugh.

His hand slides up her back under her top and he pulls her close, kissing her hard as if trying to quiet her, but she continues to giggle in spite of her shock until he bites her lower lip.

"Ow! W- was that really necessary?" Izumi whines, wide-eyed, pulling away quickly in spite of Ranmaru's fingernails digging into her back. She squirms but his harsh grip does not budge, though the hand gripping his tanto now rests on his chest harmlessly. "Don't you know how to be nice?"

"No," Ranmaru replies simply with no change in his stony gaze, but when he pulls her close again his kiss has a definite gentle touch to it, and though hesitant, Izumi makes no complaint.

But her hunched posture is by no means comfortable, and it's not long before she draws back, raising one hand carefully to her hip with a wince. Her quiet explanatory groan of "My back", embarrassed and somewhat apologetic in tone, is barely articulated before Ranmaru shifts in response and she's on her back before she even realizes his intention. The ground is cold and hard where it presses her shoulders, but the aching strain on her lower back is instantly relaxed.

"Better?" Ranmaru asks, and it's impossible to tell if he actually cares or if it's even intended as a question. But he's supporting his weight with one hand, the one pressed flat to the ground, pinning his tanto and neutralizing any remaining threat it might pose, and it serves to release a substantial amount of the tension that's gradually seized Izumi. She offers a guarded smile in response and he nods, or maybe she just thinks he does, and slides his free hand up her leg past her skirt's hem, raising her leg until her skirt slips down to show enough skin to make her blush.

"You're kind of cute," he remarks with the ghost of a teasing smile, "for a complete failure of a leader, anyway."

"Well you're kind of sweet," Izumi replies and tries to remember Sakuma's precise wording, the speed of her words the only think keeping her voice from shaking as her blush deepens, "for a Hamaguchi Family lapdog." And before Ranmaru can manage a reply she grabs his collar and pulls him back in, and a defeated chuckle is all he offers.

"Hey Boss, are you okay?" Kinzo asks, leaning in to get a better look.

Izumi jumps in her seat, shooting a guilty look in return. "Yes, I'm fine! Why do you ask?"

"You have a bruise on your neck!" Kinzo observes, nodding. "Something happen? Did someone rough you up?"

Eyes wide, Izumi slaps her hand over the mark and stammers, "N- no, nothing like that! I, I just walked into a stop sign when I wasn't paying attention!"

Kenji runs across the room, looking openly appalled. "What? Which sign? Where?" he demands.

"Down the street!" Izumi replies quickly, pointing in a vaguely-defined direction.

"Nobody hurts Boss and gets away with it!" Kenji cries, grabbing an alarmingly large sledgehammer from under a nearby table and dashing out the door before Izumi can do anything except stare in mute horror.

Sakuma clears his throat and leans in close to Izumi. "Boss," he whispers, "if a situation like this should come about again, could you please try to come up with a lie that doesn't result in destruction of property?"

Izumi nods, cringing. "I'll do my best."

"Kenji! Wait for me!" Hideki yells, already halfway out the door.