A/N: Much like the short story "Moving Day" and the omake "Allergic to Love," the "KnS" in the title to this story means that it takes place within the same universe as my manga sequel novel Kannazuki no Shimai. Most of it should be self-explanatory, as this is a prequel to that story, taking place while the girls are still high-school third-years (the equivalent of senior year/twelfth grade in the American system). Those of you who have read the Kannazuki no Miko manga will already know that unlike in the anime Chikane and Himeko were reborn as twin sisters, but that they remembered their past lives and their future destiny...which, if that touches on territory you find too squicky, may suggest that you'd want to avoid the lemon scene.

Wondering why I got exotic with my description of Himeko's hair color? Blame Chikane. In the Drama CD (yeah, okay, the drama CD is in the anime continuity, not the manga, but hey...) she specifically describes Himeko as having "red tea" hair while rhapsodizing over her.

Incidentally, in accordance with the results of the Ame no Murakumo ga Miteru poll, Japanese character names will be presented in Japanese order, last name first, and when characters are speaking Japanese they will use Japanese titles and honorifics (-san, -chan, etc.) to address one another. Should you find any errors in my usage, please let me know!

~X X X~

The music that filled the club was hard and frenetic, driving the crowd of twentysomethings to fling their hard, young bodies about with wild, even desperate abandon. Some, of course, were intoxicated with alcohol or drugs, but it seemed to Tamura Hiroshi as if this was irrelevant, a mere gloss on the force that drove them and their sober, chemically speaking, companions. Their dancing did not seem to arise out of joy or passion or even simple lust, but rather a yearning for something just out of their grasp, a need that drove them as cruelly as a whip across their backs. And yet if asked, if one were able to even make them comprehend the question, none of them would have been able to tell what it was they craved with such overwhelming urgency.

Tamura was filled with mingled pity and contempt for the club patrons, just as he was for the native Hawaiian before him. Vincent Pukui neither looked nor acted like the dancers, but just like them he sought something with every fiber of his being that was nonetheless utterly beyond his reach. He would have said it was money and power and the material benefits those things would bring him that he wanted, but it was not so. Tamura knew better; what Pukui craved was respect, a sense of belonging. Like a feral dog in the streets he lived by fighting for every scrap of food, every night's safe rest, believing he wanted a full belly when he really wanted to run with—even lead—a proper pack. And, like the feral dog, he did not, could not, know that his unacknowledged dream was hopeless.

This was why Tamura found him so easy to manipulate.

"Here is everything you need," he said, extending an envelope. "The time the class is arriving, the hotel where they'll be staying, and their schedule for the trip."

Pukui took the envelope. He was tall and broad-shouldered, a powerful physical specimen that even Tamura had to respect on the level of brute force. His dark eyes slid from the yakuza underboss to the third man in the room, a sharp-featured Japanese wearing a dark sharkskin suit. He said nothing, but took out another envelope which he handed to Pukui.

"Your advance payment," Tamura said, "two hundred thousand dollars, to be split among yourself and your associates as you see fit. The other half will be paid upon the job's completion. More than that, you will have proven your worth to the Ayanokouji-gumi." This was, of course, a lie. A dog, no matter how well-trained, would never be more than a dog. If, however, it believed itself part of the family, it would be that much faster to defend what it thought was its pack. So too was it with this man.

Pukui's thumb moved towards the flap of the money envelope, as if he was about to take the payment out and count it. He seemed to recognize the offense this would give and at the last moment held back before opening the flap. At least he had some manners.

"Don't worry, Tamura-san," the Hawaiian said, mangling the pronunciation of the simple honorific. "One high-school girl? There's no way we'll have any trouble."

~X X X~

The tall, beautiful girl leapt into the air, her body stretched out at full extension. Even on the beach at Waikiki, she stood out, the figure hugged by the turquoise bikini well worth a second look, as were the sleekly toned limbs, lovely face, and long sweep of dark hair. Her arm whipped around, and she let out a sharp cry as she hit the descending volleyball. It shot down across the net, rocketing past the boy who'd jumped to try to block her spike and hit the sand just out of reach of his partner's dive.

"Miya-sama!" cheered the clustered students who were watching their classmates' beach volleyball game. "Incredible, Miya-sama!"

There was one of them who was cheering something different, though. This was a girl with a slender figure, waist-length hair the color of the sun shining through a glass of red tea, and striking violet eyes. She clapped eagerly and cried out, "Way to go, Chikane-chan!"

The girl's name was Asamiya Hikari, but in her previous life she'd been the Solar Priestess of Ame no Murakumo, Kurusugawa Himeko. Since she retained all her memories of that turbulent, traumatic lifetime, she'd always thought of herself as Himeko, just as she thought of Miya-sama, her twin sister Tsukuyo, as the person she had been: Lunar Priestess and Eighth Neck of Orochi, Himemiya Chikane.

There were a number of old Japanese legends about how star-crossed lovers would be reborn as twins so that they'd never have to be parted. Himeko didn't know if that was true in general, but it definitely applied to herself and her twin. Himeko and Chikane had been lovers, and in truth they still were lovers, in every sense of the word. That they retained their past-life memories helped a lot, she thought; she was fairly certain that they'd have ended up that way in any case but without those memories they'd have likely taken a lot longer to realize their feelings and felt considerable angst and guilt over it—particularly Chikane, who tended towards overthinking stuff like that.

"Damn, Hikari, sometimes I think that sister of yours would get me to switch to your side of the fence," remarked her best friend, Ohgami Marika, with a wink. Marika was one of only two people who knew the real relationship between the twins, by virtue of having accidentally walked in on them while they were doing extremely unsisterly things to each other. Surprisingly, not only was she not weirded out by it, she actually supported Himeko in the relationship. She wasn't necessarily sure that she believed in past lives and resurrected priestesses, but she could see that being Chikane's lover made Himeko very happy and that was what counted.

It didn't take much to tell that Marika was an unconventional girl, anyway. Less than five feet tall, she nonetheless stood out in a crowd. Her hair was dyed in alternating red and blue stripes decorated with white stars, to celebrate their school trip to the United States. A swarm of thirty-four eighteen-year-olds descended upon Oahu for a week with bathing suits, cameras, and suntan lotion.

The two opponents in the game, a pair of tanned, blond Americans, walked over to Chikane and her partner, a boy named Uehara. The male half of the losers grinned and stuck out a hand.

"Hey, great game! Thanks a lot for the match."

Chikane returned the handshake without hesitation.

"Not at all; we had a lot of fun," she replied with only the barest trace of an accent. One of the advantages of past-life memories was retaining past-life education, such as the training the heiress of the Himemiya family had received in foreign languages. She spoke flawless English and French, and was adequately fluent in Cantonese and Russian besides.

There was a bit more chatter that Himeko didn't catch (her own language skills were extremely iffy), and then the four players left the court to the next pair of teams. Chikane and Uehara split up, Chikane walking over towards Himeko and Marika.

"Miya-sama, that was so awesome!" caroled a third girl who'd been standing off to Himeko's left. She rushed forward, handing Chikane a towel to wipe sand and sweat off with.

"Thank you, Himemiya-san," Chikane responded politely, accepting the towel. The irony did not escape either sister; the girl was this lifetime's Himemiya family heiress, Reiko, who filled the role none too well. It wasn't that she was short, slightly overweight, with blotchy skin and glasses. Her personality tended to be all but completely self-effacing; rather than being one of the class leaders, she was instead one of Chikane's most enthusiastic admirers. Himeko always thought it was a little sad, the way Reiko trailed after Chikane like a puppy, despite never breaking through the elder twin's princess-like mask.

Chikane mopped the sweat from her face and chest, then handed the towel back to Reiko; the other girl clutched it to herself like it was some kind of treasure.

"What was that about a party, Tsukuyo-san?" Marika asked.

"A party?" Himeko piped up. Oh, that must have been in the English that I didn't catch.

"Mm-hm. Their class is having one tonight and wanted to know if we wanted to join them; I said that it sounded like fun but that we were on a plan of activities under our teachers' supervision."

Marika sighed.

"Yeah, probably right. Getting the whole class to sneak out of the hotel and back in again would have been a lot of work. And you know somebody would have messed it up and we'd probably get packed back to Japan or something. Guess we'll have to stay home and do our own partying." She nudged Himeko and winked at Chikane, hinting that she assumed there was another reason why the twins wouldn't be sneaking out to a beach party. Himeko blushed faintly but did not, in fact, argue the point.

"I'm a bit thirsty after all that," Chikane changed the subject. "Would anyone else like something to drink?"

"I would," Himeko said, and that was that. The four of them strolled over towards a nearby concession stand. As they did, a tall Japanese man wearing a white suit and sunglasses slipped from the crowd and began following them. This was not surprising; the man was Gin, Reiko's day-shift bodyguard. The heiress was, after all, a tempting target for criminals, and while her father had acceded to her request not to hedge her around with security he had insisted on having at least one man on guard while Reiko was in a foreign country. Himeko couldn't help but think that the suit must be hot even given its weight and color, but it was necessary under the circumstances since he was carrying a gun.

At the concession stand, the girls let Chikane handle the orders, then started digging for money in their various purses and carryalls. They walked away with two lemonades, a Coke, an iced tea, and a Blue Hawaii-flavored shaved ice for Marika, then strolled back towards the beach.

"It's so beautiful here," Himeko gushed as she looked out at the gleaming sands filled with eager sun-worshippers and the aquamarine waters sparkling in the light. "I'm glad I brought extra memory sticks for my camera; I'm going to need them."

Chikane nodded.

"Let's see, tomorrow is our shopping day, Wednesday is for museums and cultural attractions, on Thursday we go over to Maui, and Friday it's the beach again, on the North Shore. Saturday's our free day."

"My life will not be complete," Marika declared, "if I don't try surfing at least once."

"I'd be afraid of wiping out," Himeko said.

"Well, since I've known you to trip and fall while standing still, that is not an unnatural fear," Marika observed, then ate a spoonful of her shaved ice.


"Don't worry, Himeko; I'd dive in to save you," Chikane said wryly.

"Aw, not you, too."

"I think our lot is to watch and cheer, Miya-chan," Reiko observed wisely.

"I guess so," Himeko sighed. "Darn it." She brightened, then, as she realized, "But I'm going to be there with my camera when you fall in, Marika-chan!"

"Hah! You think you can get one up on me by making me look ridiculous in public? I do sillier things than fall off a surfboard every day!"

"Well," Himeko said, grinning, "I guess you get the last word, since I can't argue with the truth."

"Oooh, she shoots—she scores!"

Chikane patted her on the head.

"Himeko brought her game today," she deadpanned.

"Aw, you guys!"

~X X X~

"So, we all know what we're doing, right?"

Vincent Pukui's dark eyes swept across the faces of his hand-picked crew, three men plus himself for a total of four to carry out this job. He'd worked with them all before, knew he could rely on them for this commission that could be their stepping stone into the big time. Which wasn't to say that they weren't already experienced in violence, even wet work, but there was a difference between muscle jobs and being a serious contractor, particularly for a group with the power of the Ayanokouji-gumi.

"Yeah, Vince, we've only been over it a half-dozen times," drawled Cedric Carmichael. Cedric was a tanned, blond surfer boy from California who'd followed the waves out to Hawaii but soon found that his true talents lay in the areas of theft and intimidation, through which he funded his lifestyle.

"Pipe down, Keanu," said another of the men. "I don't want to blow my chance at a hundred grand because you bore easily." Rex Taggert, despite a name suited for a cowboy, was a dark-haired, dark-skinned man whose background was an ethnic stew of various nationalities from nearly every Pacific island group except Hawaii.

The fourth man, John Joseph—"Jojo"—Sakata, didn't say anything. The whiplike Japanese-American wasn't much of a talker. Pukui appreciated that, but his listening was going to be more valuable than his silence. More than likely the heiress of an international family-run conglomerate, a zaibatsu, would know English, but he doubted she'd be so obliging as to talk it with her school friends just because it would suit the plans of a group of criminals. Jojo was bilingual, having grown up in Yokohama until the age of ten.

"Right. Let's go over it again. Tamura's given us a three-day window, but tomorrow is our best chance. No screw-ups, you get me?"

~X X X~

The hotel room was clean and comfortable, but nothing fancy. Chikane nevertheless loved every bit of it, from the prints of seascapes and hibiscus blossoms on the walls to the carpets and bedding in various shades of cream and beige. The décor had nothing to do with it; the only furnishings that mattered were that she and Himeko were on one side of a locked door and the rest of the world was on the other.

Being Himeko's twin sister in this life had been wonderful in a lot of ways. They'd been together from the very start, even before birth, scarcely more than a hand's reach away. There was none of the waiting, none of that yearning to fill the hollow place within her soul that only Himeko's presence could occupy. It was not, however, a one-sided blessing, particularly as their bodies had matured out of childhood into an age where sexuality started to be a concern. It was annoying enough to be unable to claim Himeko publicly as her own in the romantic sense, but the sexual logistics were appallingly restrictive. One could hardly, for example, take one's sister to a love hotel—not in a town the size of Mahoroba where there was no such thing as anonymity.

The consequences of being caught out, too, could be utterly ruinous. It almost seemed like some kind of miracle that Marika was such a good friend that she shrugged off an incestuous romance as just one more thing to tease Himeko about, and that her aunt had dismissed it all as being none of her business. Opportunities to be alone and private together were not anywhere near as common as they'd like them to be.

Chikane had a hotel room with Himeko for an entire week. As Himeko had said when they'd checked in, I feel like a bride on her honeymoon! The description was apt, and Chikane intended to enjoy herself to the fullest on this trip.

Thinking about that was far too distracting, Chikane thought ruefully. The sight of Himeko in her swimsuit on the beach had been bad enough; relatively modest as her lover's bikini had been, it still clung to her like a second skin, teasing Chikane and making her ache to embrace the other girl. Now that they were back in the hotel, that ache was getting worse, the unique opportunity for privacy their room afforded them seemed to make it impossible for her to turn her mind in other directions.

Himeko was in the shower now, washing off the sweat, salt, and sand from their beach trip. Chikane had reflexively let her go first out of kindness, but she found herself wishing that she hadn't. She could use a shower right about then. Preferably an ice-cold shower, like a plunge in purifying spring water, to force these feelings back to sleep. She did not need to be standing in the middle of a hotel room while less than ten feet away Himeko was under the shower nozzle, clouds of steam rising around her, droplets of water streaming down her roses-and-cream flesh while she worked a washcloth over herself, stroking her limbs and flanks with the soft cloth, rubbing in tight circles across her belly and breasts...

Damn it.

She felt the sudden, sharp clench between her thighs, the fever of arousal gone past the point where simple relaxation or distraction would quench it. There was only one thing that could put this fire out properly.


Chikane turned towards the bathroom door, started to move, then stopped before she took a single step, hesitating.

Should she?

The truth was, Chikane very rarely initiated their lovemaking. Her desire for her twin was so strong that it often threatened to overwhelm her, but she tended to shy away from acting on it without Himeko's invitation. Her past life had brought her too much fear, too much guilt to be easily washed away, and the twinge of worry that she was forcing her desires on Himeko woke, however fleetingly, the ghosts of when she literally had forced herself on her in a wild attempt to make Himeko despise her.

Himeko's unflinching, unshakable love for her had been Chikane's salvation, an utterly priceless gift, and she would never betray that again. So she often hesitated, waiting for Himeko's welcome to unfetter her desires. Yet, the thought of touching her sent a long, delicious shudder through Chikane.

It was too much to resist, too much to hold herself back. She reached behind herself and undid the clasp of her bikini top and let it drop to the floor, then pushed the bottom half of the swimsuit down over her thighs and calves, stepping out of it. Naked, she crossed the carpet to the bathroom door and opened it, a rush of steam from the hot shower washing over her.

Himeko didn't notice the momentary change in atmosphere the way Chikane would have; she didn't call out from behind the shower curtain. Chikane shut the door again so no heat was lost into the air-conditioned hotel room, then crossed the tile and the plain though fuzzy bath mat. She reached out, paused for just a moment, then pushed aside the shower curtain. Himeko was there, just as she'd fantasized, head tipped back as the hot water sprayed across her. A white mesh bath puff was in her hand, and she spread lather smelling of lilies and gardenia over herself. Chikane's legs trembled at the sight; she felt the muscles within her sex twitch again.

I want her so much.

She stepped over the rim of the tub. Himeko's eyes opened and she turned her head to look back towards her twin.


Her tongue seemed swollen to twice its size; she felt breathless and clumsy. She, who as Chikane or Tsukuyo excelled at academics, athletics, and social interactions of all kinds, found herself nervous and stumbling. But then, the princess, "Miya-sama," was just a role that she played, a social space that she occupied, an act she put on to make her life comfortable (and, just a bit, to show off for Himeko, as an animal tried to make itself as attractive as possible for its chosen mate). Being Miya-sama didn't matter.

This did.

I love her so much.

She stretched out her hand, reaching for Himeko's and closing over the bath puff. She managed to smile—seductively, she thought.

"I...thought your back might need washing."

Himeko turned to face her.

"No, that's all right."

The rejection stung; Chikane almost flinched, but in the next instant Himeko stepped closer, slipping her arms around Chikane. She smiled, and a faint blush came into her cheeks.

"I'd rather you help me get dirty," she said softly.

How like Himeko, Chikane thought even as relief swept through her. No hesitation at all in acting, but embarrassed at saying so. But there was no more time for thinking as she dipped her head so her mouth captured the shorter girl's. Himeko's lips were soft and sweet and she tasted them deeply in a long, loving kiss. Their mouths flowered open against one another and their tongues touched, darting, probing each other's mouths.

Chikane shivered slightly at her lover's kiss. Their bodies were slick and wet from the hot water cascading over them, but Himeko's fingers seemed to leave even hotter trails as they traced across Chikane's back, down to just above the curves of her bottom, then farther down to give a playful squeeze before gliding up over Chikane's thighs and flanks, then between their bodies, ticking her belly with delicate caresses that made Chikane shudder. All the while Himeko kept kissing her hotly, eagerly, making Chikane realize that her twin must have been as ravenous for her as she was for Himeko. What had the blonde been imagining while her beneath the water alone? Had she been hoping Chikane would come join her? Planning to seduce the dark-haired girl as soon as she emerged?

She wanted—needed—more of Himeko, and she pulled her mouth from her lover's. As Himeko whimpered in surprise, Chikane kissed across her jawline, then down her neck, swirling her tongue in the hollow at the base of her throat. The whimper became a moan as Himeko trembled against her, savoring her twin's kisses. Chikane's mouth moved to the right, out along the blonde's collarbone, tasting the honeyed flesh, lightly teasing it with her teeth. She loved to use her mouth on Himeko, to feel her lover's skin beneath her lips, to test the muscles beneath with her teeth and to suckle on it, branding the other girl's flesh with scarlet marks that visibly proclaimed, she is mine. Only at the last moment did she hold herself back from leaving any such marks, realizing that swimsuits and sundresses would reveal them to onlookers and raise questions neither girl was prepared to answer.

Himeko's hands slid up Chikane's torso, over the flat plane of her stomach to cup her breasts. She weighed them in her palms, feeling their fullness, lightly stroking, then sliding her thumbs across so that they brushed over nipples already drawn up, hard and swollen with need. She plucked at them, tugging between thumb and forefinger hard enough to be just shy of causing pain, and Chikane felt the sharp clench between her thighs as pleasure rushed through her. A guttural moan welled up from deep in her throat, making Himeko smile sensually as she recognized Chikane's response and savored it.

The blonde dipped her head and captured one stiff nipple between her lips. Chikane moaned again as her lover swirled her tongue around the areola, teasing the nipple to swell even further and harder.

"Ah! Himeko—" Chikane gasped even as her hand cupped the back of Himeko's head, urging her on. The blonde turned her by leaning up into her, pressing Chikane's back into the wall opposite the shower curtain. Her mouth continued to nuzzle and suck at Chikane's breast, while her left hand caressed the other one, using her fingers to duplicate what her mouth was doing, stroking, tugging, even lightly scraping with her nails as Himeko teased the other nipple with her teeth. Chikane's moans grew louder and more frequent; her breasts were extremely sensitive, but more than that her twin just knew how to pleasure them, what built the heat within her to a blaze.

With her free hand Himeko traced patterns on Chikane's body, lightly gliding fingernails over her love's skin, knowing the combination of the gently teasing strokes with the more direct attention being paid to her breasts would drive her lover wild. Her nails grazed Chikane's stomach, making her shiver, then past her waist and along her thighs, circling her core without ever touching it. The ache within her grew stronger and stronger; she could barely feel the water sluicing over them, her senses were so consumed with what Himeko was doing with her.

"Himeko, I...I need..." she whimpered, and her twin lifted her gaze to meet Chikane's, a devilish glint in her violet eyes.

Her hand moved between Chikane's legs, palm cupping her mound. Her fingers deftly spread Chikane's outer lips, but instead of entering her, Himeko lightly caressed along her inner lips, drawing the moment out.


Himeko ran her tongue slowly over Chikane's nipple with the same tantalizing delicacy as her fingers teased at the entrance to her lover, then drew her mouth back.

"Yes, Chikane-chan?"

"Himeko, I..."

"What is it, Chikane-chan?" she asked, somehow managing to put most of her usual sweet innocence into her voice, as if her fingertips weren't, even then, brushing in small, circular motions at the top of her slit, indirectly teasing the bud veiled beneath her lips but maddeningly denying what she needed so much. The smile gave her away, though, her too-honest face telling anyone who could see her that she knew exactly what she was doing.

Not that anyone ever would see, Chikane knew. Himeko saved this face for her alone.

"Touch me," she pleaded.

"Like this?"

A fingertip, just one, parted her lips and ran slowly, deliciously up the length of her.


Again the slow caress, teasing a little more deeply, while the pad of her thumb continued to press just above her clit.

"Inside me, Himeko," she whispered. "I need you inside me."

Himeko gave her what she begged for, pushing a finger up inside her, sliding it into her wetness. Chikane shuddered as she felt herself open for her lover, felt a small cry escape her throat. Then Himeko's thumb parted her lips, touched the aching, taut nub there directly and she cried out again.

The blonde didn't tease her any longer but delivered what her touches had been promising, stroking into and out of her while her thumb firmly caressed Chikane's clit, working it. Chikane pushed her hips up against Himeko's hand, needing more, needing her. Her hand, she found, was still on the back of Himeko's head, and she gathered her lover's mouth to her own, spilling the mewling, gasping cries of pleasure her beloved drew from her into Himeko's lips. Her other hand clutched at Himeko's hip for support; the slick wetness of their bodies slid against one another.

Pressed against the wall of the bath stall as she was, Chikane felt like she was surrounded by, drowning in Himeko. The hunger of her mouth, the softness of her body as breasts, thighs, and calves rubbed together, and the insistent urging between her legs as Himeko built her higher and higher, drove her passion towards completion, more than passion, love. Priestesses, sisters, past lives, all of it was gone when they were like this together, just Chikane and Himeko and emotions that couldn't be put into words, only expressed on each other's bodies.

Chikane's vision swam; she stared blankly, seeing nothing.

Himeko broke the kiss long enough to whisper against Chikane's lips.

"I love you."

A second finger joined the first, stabbing deeply into her core. Himeko's thumb pressed down, hard.

She was lost.

Heat exploded through her, filling her body, waves of pleasure surging out from her center that clenched down on Himeko's fingers, every muscle in her body drawing up taut as ecstasy sang along every nerve. Chikane screamed, singing out her joy directly into Himeko's mouth as if it was something the other girl could taste, swallow. Himeko's touch, so knowing, kept her there for a moment that seemed to stretch into forever, until at last she let her down off the peak and the last wave drifted away. She felt limp, exhausted, her entire body trembling uncontrollably as she sagged down, sliding against Himeko until she was resting on her knees, almost as if she was sitting seiza but only able to remain upright by clinging to Himeko's thighs with shaking hands.

Lost? No, she was found.

"Himeko," she murmured lovingly against the other's leg, then raised her eyes to meet her beloved's. Water crashed down around them, streaming across heated flesh as Himeko brushed her hand against Chikane's cheek; her smile was caring and tender, with just a trace of self-satisfaction.

How I love this girl. Loved her for her childlike innocence, for her purity that shone as brightly as the sun she represented, how she, only she could pierce all the masks and illusions that made up Chikane's existence. She loved her, too, for the sides of herself that she'd only belatedly come to know, for her resolute spirit, a will that showed that goodness did not have to mean weakness, and for a love that answered her own in all ways. Feelings Chikane had believed were dark and ugly, a forbidden dream, Himeko had accepted, welcomed—and as she'd just shown yet again, returned.

"My turn," Chikane said, smiling. She meant it, too; she loved when Himeko pleasured her, loved the feelings and loved more the proof of Himeko's passion for her, left on her own body as if engraved in stone. Best of all, though, she loved to service her princess in turn, to make her thrill with desire, to make Himeko feel how much Chikane craved her, needed her.

Himeko reached down, stroking Chikane's hair.

"My love, my Chikane-chan."

Chikane slid her hands up Himeko's thighs, stroking the baby-soft skin, then urged them apart, wordlessly making her lover widen her stance, offering access. She raised herself slightly, so that she was eye-level with Himeko's sanctuary, the nest of blonde curls a shade darker, a trace more red than in the hair on her head. The lips of her sex were a pale pink, glistening with beads of water from the shower as well as another, subtler moisture, evidence that Himeko was as eager as she was. She bent forward and nuzzled her nose against the tangle of hair, inhaling Himeko's scent. Himeko giggled and leaned forward.

"Chikane-chan, that tickles! It—oh!"

Chikane had cut her off by sliding her tongue up the length of Himeko's slit, tasting her and drawing the first soft cry. She then brushed her mouth against Himeko's inner thighs, kissing and lightly biting, holding back so that, again, she wouldn't leave a mark. A shudder ran through Himeko, a trembling shiver of anticipation.

Now Chikane returned to Himeko's core, brushing kisses over her, nibbling softly at the outer lips, gently pinching them with her mouth. Himeko shuddered again, thighs trembling under Chikane's hands. She dipped the tip of her tongue inside, gently opening her lover, probing, then left off the teasing at last and took a long, deep taste of Himeko's sex.

"Ah! Chi-Chikane!"

Do you like that, Himeko? Do you like it when I taste you? she thought, but couldn't pause to say as she wielded her tongue as deftly as she would a weapon, stroking, probing, thrusting within Himeko's channel, exploring her innermost secrets. Soft, mewling cries rewarded her efforts, as if Himeko was answering her unspoken, teasing questions. She tasted her lover's musky wetness, the silent evidence of the desire that she'd awakened in Himeko and savored it.

For long minutes Chikane continued her assault on Himeko's depths, working her tongue as deeply as she could, fluttering it within her, clenching at Himeko's bottom to help penetrate her all the better. Himeko's legs were shaking; she sagged forward, having to brace her hands on the shower wall to support herself. Chikane responded, sliding her mouth up to enclose Himeko's clit, licking it first lightly, finding it achingly hard with need, then more firmly, working her tongue against it while she lightly sucked. Himeko's breath came faster and faster, whimpering and sobbing. Her hips rocked against Chikane almost of their own volition, matching the pace of her lover's attentions.

Until at last the dam broke, and she gave a high, soaring cry that was cut off, muffled as she jammed a forearm against her mouth to keep from singing her ecstasy through the hotel walls. Chikane felt the uncontrollable tremors flow through her lover's lower belly, hips, and thighs, felt the fluttering of her inner walls as if shaken by the raw force of her emotions. She kept on flicking her tongue against Himeko's clitoris, drawing out one aftershock after another, until at last Himeko sagged limply to her knees and Chikane cradled her close, murmuring "I love you" again and again into the pink shell of her ear while the water stroked across their satiated embrace.

~X X X~

"Tomorrow, the brats go on their shopping trip. You know what that means, a lot of moving around as they look for souvenirs and other stuff. Everybody'll have different things they want, so they'll be splitting up into groups."

"So we don't have to go after a whole pack of kids and teachers," Cedric caught on at once.

Pukui nodded.

"Right—and they'll be in the outdoors for a good chunk of it, so we can make our move cleanly. Smash and grab instead of having to come up with some disguise or trick."

"Yeah, but how do we zero in on which one of them has the girl? I don't want to end up tailing the wrong kid all around Honolulu with nothing to show for it."

Pukui grinned broadly at Rex.

"Eight groups of four students each...but only one group that'll have a bodyguard trailing in their wake. The guy's meant to protect the kid from people like us, and instead he'll take us right to her."

~X X X~

The sights and sounds of the International Market swirled around Chikane, engulfing her in its world of brilliant color and exotic scents. She recognized that it was an artificial creation, designed to sell goods like any ordinary shopping mall, but in its way it was almost like a museum all of its own, a gallery of the various cultures that made Hawaii into the crossroads of the Pacific. She recognized tapa cloth from Tonga, worked gold from Australia, Maori carving from New Zealand, more from Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, China, Japan, and of course local craftspeople from the Hawaiian Islands themselves. Only one nationality that customarily flowed through the islands was missing, that of the mainland United States.

Which probably isn't a big surprise, since Hawaii is the fiftieth state...despite its geographical and cultural differences. Chikane remembered at the airport where a couple whose English had a broad midwestern twang had had patiently explained to them that no, they didn't need to change their dollars to "Hawaiian money" because they were still in the United States.

As expected, Himeko ooohed and ahhed over everything, while Marika tried to pick up the wildest and most outrageous things she could to bring back to her family and friends, and Reiko showed a surprisingly attentive eye, assessing the items for sale to separate the quality from the kitsch. That caught Chikane off-guard, as it sadly did every time Reiko displayed signs of being educated as suited the Himemiya heiress.

The bitter truth was that Chikane usually viewed Himemiya Reiko with a faint contempt on those rare occasions when she thought of her at all. It wasn't so much that Reiko didn't match up with the standards Chikane had set in her past life, but the way in which Reiko seemed to have no sense of whom she herself was. Her puppylike adoration for "Miya-sama" and the occasional traces of disappointment she showed at not herself being Miya-sama expressed that plainly. One only had to look at Marika to see the difference; Himeko's friend might have been the heiress of a wealthy, respected shrine family with a thousand-year history, but she was emphatically her own self rather than an imitation of a role model invented by someone else and it gave her an energy and satisfaction that Reiko utterly lacked.

Chikane found herself acting as a kind of interpreter for the other girls; she even got to try out her admittedly rusty Cantonese when Marika wanted to get a scroll painting of the Four Gods from a Hong Kong merchant ("Aunt Minako will love it; the pictures of the gods are so ridiculously over the top it'll remind her why she's an atheist."). She even got into a brisk haggling match over a bracelet Himeko liked and managed to beat down the seller two-thirds on the price, which wasn't bad for someone negotiating in a foreign language.

~X X X~

"I don't know," Cedric said. "Yeah, she looks the part all right, but the clothes are off."

"The clothes?" Jojo asked.

"Yeah, they're pretty ordinary. A billionaire's daughter, you figure she'd be wearing designer labels. Her stuff's all knockoffs. She wears them well and they're good quality, so she's got the eye, but the one with glasses and the one with the weird hair are wearing the real stuff."

"You know entirely too much about women's clothing," Jojo said.

"Long experience of picking it off the floor the morning after," the surfer shot back. "You ought to try bringing a chick home once in a while."

The Japanese man snorted.

"And you should try learning a second language. If you knew any Japanese, you would know that the two you mentioned both call the tall one 'Miya-sama.' 'Sama' is an honorific indicating deep respect or subservience, and Miya is obviously a shortened version of Himemiya, her last name. Her appearance, her manner, her poise, her facility with languages, they all point to what she is."

"All right, all right. Though if we just had a picture we wouldn't even be having this argument."

"She is, apparently, a very reclusive heiress, not given to publicity."

"Yeah, that's what Vince said the moneyman told him," Cedric sighed heavily. "Giving what they'll be asking in ransom, they ought to try harder. Not to mention pay us more."

Jojo exhaled deeply.

"It is easy to ask for a pie-in-the-sky ransom figure. Your fifty thousand of the advance money is hard currency."

"Yeah, I know—and if we don't get a move on, the big boys won't get their pie and we won't get our crumbs."

~X X X~

Like any professional bodyguard or client of one, Gin knew that security and freedom were fundamental opposites, like good and evil, order and chaos, yin and yang. To gain one, the other inevitably had to be reduced. For Himemiya Reiko to enjoy her school trip to the fullest extent possible, her protection had to be sacrificed. Gin didn't like it. He was only one man, and he was forbidden to be close enough to her to put himself between her and an immediate threat. He had to stand by in a semi-overwatch position, hoping to spot any threats in time to act.

What was called for, even if a close guard was forbidden, was a team, a group better able to keep both Reiko and multiple areas of the environment under constant surveillance. Too, someone like Gin, whose loyalty to the Himemiya Financial Group had been tested again and again, should have been paired with someone like the night man, Haseo, who was a local with knowledge of the environment. Learn by doing was no way for a bodyguard to function.

Another aspect of security he'd lost via the arrangement was his own personal safety. His attention was on Reiko and Reiko's immediate environment, with his own surroundings a distant third. Thus when a Japanese man he'd have otherwise recognized from when he'd been within earshot of his charge a couple of times—often enough to be flagged "suspicious" in Gin's mind—approached not Reiko but Gin himself, he took the bodyguard completely by surprise. And because Gin was watching from the fringes of the shopping area rather than out in the open, no one noticed when a precisely-aimed strike to the base of the skull with the hilt of a sheathed Japanese dagger stole Gin's consciousness and stripped Himemiya Reiko of even his limited protection.

~X X X~

"Well," Marika said as they exited the International Market Place out onto Kalakaua Avenue, "even if we're in a foreign country and an outdoor bazaar instead of a three-story megaplex, one thing remains true: turn Hikari and me loose in a mall and look out."

"Be fair!" Himeko laughed. "Half of these are Chikane-chan's."

"You didn't have to carry all those, Himeko—" Chikane began, but Marika cut her off.

"No way; Hikari's right: we can't have you be responsible for talking with everyone while juggling all those bags. Don't worry; Himemiya-san and I won't let her trip."

The exchange made a tide of feelings surge up within Chikane like a whirlpool. The way she felt about Marika was so complex, a twisted mixture of jealousy that she was a fixture in Himeko's life, a child's petulant whine—I don't need any other friends, so why does she?—and a deep sense of gratitude that Marika was that best friend that Himeko needed.

"Hey, if we want to give our arms a break, then why don't we have Himemiya-san's guard do us some good? Put that strong back to work instead of us straining our maidenly arms?" Marika was already rushing on to the next idea.

"Ohgami-san, we can't do that. Gin-san has to do his job," Reiko said apologetically, "or his bosses will get really mad."

Chikane blinked. Something seemed wrong with that statement...

Then she noticed.

Where was Gin?

The bodyguard had tailed the girls throughout the day, keeping them under observation from a discreet distance, but he wasn't there now. So where had he gotten to?

In the next instant, a burly, dark man with tattooed arms burst out of the Market. He crashed into Himeko, shouldering her aside so that she sprawled to the sidewalk, and in the next instant made a grab for Chikane's purse, nearly wrenching it off her shoulder.

Chikane reacted reflexively, pivoting so that her shoulder and hip made contact with the purse-snatcher's body. His outstretched arm made for a fine level, the reach for her purse already putting him off-balance, so she used it, ushering the man through a hip throw that drove him hard onto his back onto the concrete. The purse's shoulder strap broke under the pressure, but when the thief hit the ground it was jarred out of his grasp and went sliding away.

The tattooed man grunted with pain as he was slammed down, but Chikane wasn't done with him. Intending to make sure he didn't run off before the police got there, she kept hold of the purse-snatcher's arm but shifted into an immobilization, a painful lock that would allow her to counter and control any attempt he made to get up.

~X X X~

Damn it to hell! Cedric thought. The point was for Rex to grab the girl's purse and make her chase him up the street to where she could be bundled into the van in one quick action. But no, the girl had pulled a stunt out of a Hong Kong kung-fu flick and was, to put it bluntly, kicking Rex's ass.

Time, he thought, for Plan B.

~X X X~

Himeko pushed herself to her hands and knees. Marika was by her side in an instant, helping her up while Chikane was, well, being Chikane. It was hard, Himeko admitted, to keep from giving a fangirlish squee over her lover when she was doing things like taking down a thug twice her size without apparent trouble.

Then, suddenly, things changed. A lanky man with long, blond hair and wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt pointed a boxy black device at Chikane.

"Chikane-chan, look out!"

Her scream came too late as the man fired, not a gun, but a Taser. Two metal hooks, each trailing a thin wire, launched at Chikane, hitting her in the back and carrying their stunning voltage. She gasped as her muscular control was disrupted, back arching, falling onto the ground where she writhed like a landed fish.

In the next instant, a black van with its side door open swept up alongside the scene. Himeko could only stare in horror as the tattooed purse snatcher and the man with the Taser grabbed her twin, thrust her into the vehicle, and hopped in after her. Within less than ten seconds the van was pulling away from the curb, tearing Chikane away from her once again.

~X X X~

A/N: A gumi is a yakuza clan or family. And yes, "Ayanokouji" is in fact a Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora in-joke for those who noticed! There's also a very small Amnesian in-joke in the lemon scene for those who caught it.