Authorly preamble or something: The thing about writing Sailor Fuku is the more I do it the more I want to write horrifically OOC fic where Ranmaru and Izumi run away together and maybe start a bed-and-breakfast in the countryside and nothing bad happens to anyone! Quite possibly the worst thought process behind anything I've ever written, but I stand by it because I love how it turned out. This was originally just supposed to be around 300 words for some closure, but that didn't really pan out how I expected. Oh well~

Happily Ever After

"Ranmaru, come here for a moment."

Ranmaru nods obediently and approaches Hamaguchi, standing half a step behind in front of a television running a grainy black-and-white video. His pulse quickens as he realizes what it is, and within seconds it feels like his heart is ready to beat out of his chest.

"Interesting, isn't it?" Hamaguchi remarks. "Surveillance footage from the elevator. Would you care to explain?"

With an overwhelming sense of dread Ranmaru watches himself, tiny on the screen, holding Izumi's hand tightly. He'd always assumed that, if caught, he could easily talk his way out of trouble, but when Izumi's sweet smile surfaces in his mind his words catch in his throat and he knows there's no way he can bring himself to deny it.

Every leaden footstep of the men entering the room behind him is like a blow to his stomach, and it's not long before they make it literal.

Izumi assumes that someone in her position should be a tad paranoid when there's a knock on the door at four in the morning, which is why she opens it with a golf club in her hand. It hits the ground the second she sees who it is.

The first words out of his mouth are, "They know," and Izumi knows exactly what he's saying. Ranmaru's hair is disheveled, his face bruised, and he's bleeding from his lower lip and a cut over one eye. His usual blazer is nowhere to be seen, his tie slackened haphazardly, his shirt dirty and untucked.

Izumi's jaw drops and all the things she wants to say come out as a horrified squeak.

"I'm going," he says, "away. Somewhere." He winces and touches his lip gingerly, eyes still on Izumi. He opens his mouth as if to speak again but hesitates like he's waiting for permission.

Concern and panic breeding impatience, Izumi blurts out, "What? Say what you want to say!" She bites her lip anxiously.

"Come with me," Ranmaru replies immediately. "I want you to... come with me." Izumi just stares, stunned into holding her silence, so he continues. "If they know, you're not safe. But if you leave, they won't care! You'll be safe! Please—"

He stops, cut off by a hoarse cough, but Izumi's already thrown herself at him by then. She hugs him tightly and when he exhales sharply she realizes the bruises aren't just on his face. She immediately loosens her grip but Ranmaru stops her, hugging her even tighter and resting his head on her shoulder. Izumi breathes in deeply; she smells dirt and blood, and under that something that reminds her of having a home instead of just a place to come back to each day.

"Come on," she whispers. She strokes his hair gently, pretending she doesn't feel where it's matted with half-dried blood. "Come inside."

Izumi leaves him alone, sitting on the couch carefully nursing a glass of cold water, for about ten minutes. When she returns she drops a duffle bag onto the floor and a first-aid kit on the couch.

"Shirt off," she says, and her tone leaves no room for argument.

Ranmaru complies meekly, unbuttoning it as quickly as his still-shaking hands will allow and sliding it down over his shoulders to reveal his injured back. A still-forming bruise near his shoulder looks suspiciously like a shoe tread. He manages an awkward half-smile as he says, "Be gentle."

"Of course," Izumi replies, trying to look like she doesn't want to gather the Medaka and demand Hamaguchi's head on a silver platter. "One of us has to be." She apologizes quickly for making his lip smart from laughing.

With gentle hands she wipes the spots of dried blood from his back, disinfecting and bandaging his cuts and scrapes. He sits quietly, head bowed, eyes closed, breath shallow, and she smiles as his tense muscles gradually relax under her hands. When she's done she presses lightly on his shoulder and he obediently turns to face her, folding one leg under himself and inching closer.

"Oh!" Izumi exclaims suddenly, jumping a little in her seat. (Ranmaru's default stoicism keeps him from responding in any way she can detect.) "Now I know what's missing." She touches the tip of her index finger to his shoulder and lightly traces the neckline of an imaginary blazer down his bare chest. "Where's your dosu?"

Ranmaru pauses briefly to think before replying in a flat tone, "You won't like the answer."

Izumi nods as if to say she'd expected as much when she'd asked and suggests, "Tell me anyway?"

"I left it in someone's leg," he admits frankly, tapping his thigh for emphasis.

Izumi goes pales and her eyes widen, but she purses her lips and, after some consideration, reluctantly concludes, "Well, what can't be helped can't be helped."

Ranmaru nods slowly, expression blanking as he mutters, "Wish I'd got it back, though..."

Izumi gives him a sharp jab in the cheek and he jerks back, wincing. "You won't need it anymore," she says firmly and turns her attention back to the first aid kit as if closing the subject. Her voice is softer when she adds, "Hold still, this is probably going to sting."

He holds perfectly still as instructed as she tends to the cuts and bruises on his face, chest, and arms, pleased to find she has just enough gauze to properly wrap a deep-looking gash on his upper arm, and if it hurts he shows no sign of it. Feeling somewhat awkward in the silence, she asks. "Is that any better? Did I miss anywhere?"

Ranmaru nods once, solemnly. "Don't worry about me, I'm fine. But you did miss..." He points to his cheek and informs her seriously, "You don't know your own strength."

Izumi offers a guilty chuckle, moving his hand aside in order to lean in and kiss the indicated spot gently. "There, that should do the trick. Anywhere else?"

Expression unchanging, he indicates his lip, which has finally stopped bleeding. "They got me good, you know."

This time there's nothing but gentle amusement in Izumi's laugh. "You're kinda cute when you're not pretending to hate everything," she says, and smiles.

"I think I've heard something like that before," he remarks, and there's a smile in his eyes as he grabs her forearm and pulls her closer. Izumi does her best not to exacerbate any pain that might actually linger but she's far from reluctant when he kisses her, consciously ignoring the faint metallic taste of blood.

"Hey," Ranmaru says, pulling away just enough to speak. "Hey. You never gave me an answer."

Izumi kisses him lightly on the tip of his nose and scoots back a bit in her seat so she can extend a leg to give the duffle bag on the floor a solid kick. "There's my answer," she replies firmly and turns away to conceal the smile she can't suppress. She leans down to grab the clean shirt she'd retrieved from her father's room earlier and left forgotten on the floor, tossing it to Ranmaru. Watching him button it from the corner of her eye, she chews her lip thoughtfully. "And I'm ready to go whenever you are," she concludes finally, "but I have a stop I have to make first."

Izumi feels a bit better about her previous paranoia when Sakuma opens the door with a golf club in one hand. "Boss," he greets, but his eyes are on Ranmaru and his grip tightens visibly.

"Sakuma, put that thing away," she replies with a sigh, squirming slightly as Ranmaru's grip on her arm tightens pointedly. "Can we come in?"

Sakuma contemplates for only a moment before concluding, "Of course," and propping the golf club against the wall beside the door. He steps aside to let them enter, and Izumi doesn't have to look at him to know he's keeping a close eye on Ranmaru. The apartment (over a shop in Asakusa) is unexpectedly small, but tidy and uncluttered. It looks barely lived in.

Seated on the floor at a low table, Sakuma listens passively as Izumi explains the situation, responding only with the occasional nod when she hesitates or pauses. She stares at the wall behind Sakuma the entire time she's speaking, and when she finishes she casts her gaze down to her folded hands with a heavy, tired sigh. Sakuma holds his silence for a moment longer before asking, "So, what now? Where do you intend to go? Did you even think that far ahead?"

"I have an aunt in Kyoto," Ranmaru replies immediately, and reaches over to place one hand on Izumi's. "She runs an inn. We'll... probably have to work, but she'll let us stay. For a while, at least."

Sakuma makes a vague noise suggesting grudging acceptance and places both hands flat on the table. "And what about the Medaka?"

His words and tone are distinctly neutral but Izumi flinches like it's an accusation. She looks Sakuma straight in the eye and takes a deep breath so her voice is steady when she firmly replies, "I intend to retire; I'm naming you as my successor." With a self-conscious half smile she adds, "I've never been very good at the whole 'leader' thing anyway."

Sakuma shakes his head, apparently unfazed by Izumi's change in temperament. "Boss, you know I can't do that. The seventh boss's last wish was for the Medaka Family leadership to stay with a blood relative. If you leave, it ends with you."

Izumi's eyes widen with panic. "I forgot about that!" she squeaks, leaning in. "D- don't do anything drastic! Just let me think for a moment." She bites her lip contemplatively and takes more than a moment to think it over but finally says, "Then, I'm taking a trip and I don't know when I'll be back. So I'm leaving you in charge in the meantime." She smiles as if pleased with her ingenuity. "I can do that, right?"

"It's a bit of a grey area." Sakuma smiles. "I think you can get away with it, though. Who knows, maybe we'll get lucky and a distant relative will turn up."

"And you won't do anything drastic?" Izumi asks cautiously, then corrects herself. "You won't do anything drastic," she repeats, and it's clear she means it as an order. Sakuma just smiles, but Izumi seems satisfied.

Details are resolved quickly, cellphone numbers exchanged and promises made to keep in contact. Izumi objects when Sakuma presses no small amount of money into her hand, but he insists.

"Shinkansen fare's not cheap," he says. "I swore to protect you, Boss, and if that means getting you out of Kanto as quickly as possible I should at least provide train fare. Just think of it as Medaka Family funds, or a going-away present, or even a dowry." He shoots a sharp look at Ranmaru. "Not to say that you should actually get married. I recommend sleeping in seperate rooms— make that seperate buildings, by the way."

Izumi nods patiently. "A married woman can't lead a yakuza family, I know."

"But maybe we'll get lucky and a distant relative will turn up..." Ranmaru repeats quietly, pointedly not looking at Sakuma, and Izumi giggles. Sakuma stares blankly in a way that suggests general disapproval.

"And you," Sakuma resumes, composing himself. "Remember, what I said before stands, don't think a little distance changes anything. Hurt her and I'll slit your throat."

Almost glaring, Ranmaru stares Sakuma in the eye and nods, once. "Of course."

Sakuma pauses meaningfully before making a vague noise of acceptance and turning his back to them. He removes a jacket from its place on the back of a chair and removes from an inner pocket a sheathed dosu, which he hands to Ranmaru. "Here, in case you need it. I mean, you won't need it. But. In case you need it."

Ranmaru accepts it with a nod and bows. "I'll take care of it," he promises, and Sakuma smiles. "And I'll take care of her."

Two and a half months later Sakuma gets a text from Izumi. He reads it carefully and promptly drops his cellphone into his coffee in shock.

Sakuma-san, we may have a candidate for the next Medaka leader!
You'll have to wait about eight and a half months to meet him, though. ;)