Here's the next chapter. Sorry for being so late with it. . Thanks for reading!

Kagura strutted down the street, colossal bag dragging carelessly behind her. Okita caught up to her. A slight smirk settled over his features.

"You're so slow, youngster," Kagura remarked nonchalantly, though she was still slightly out of breath.

"Who are you calling a youngster, anyway?" He, too, felt a bit worn.

"Obviously the one of us who is younger."

"That's you."

"Appearances aren't everything, you judgmental bishonen!"

"And yet she calls me a bishonen."

"You call yourself a bishonen, bishonen."

"Some people are simply burdened with beauty," he tossed his hair, straight-faced.

"Don't even get me started!" she agreed vehemently, "It's not easy being so gorgeous, uh-huh."

"Really now."

"I sometimes have to hide my face behind a fan, its so beautiful."
He tried to imagine her in a kimono, behind a fan.

"An electric fan, uh-huh." she continued, "makes the summer so much more bearable. But Gin-chan broke ours one time...!" Okita laughed, watching Kagura's face change as she recounted that particular episode.

"I prefer to make others do the work for me," he decided, "So I ought to hire some people to keep me cool as well..." this idea appealed to him greatly.

"Ahh," Kagura nodded sagely, "Fangirls."

Okita was torn between the need to laugh and an overwhelming urge to run screaming from the word. "No thank you. Although, they do give me my well-deserved high ranking."

"You shut up about the ranking! If it was based on beauty, I'd be number one, uh-huh. Don't you think you're a bit young to have such a high ranking? Personally, I don't think children," this was emphasized condescendingly, "should be burdened with fame before they are old enough to know that they shouldn't behave the way they still do when they're adults."

"If that's true, you shouldn't even be on the ranking list, kid."
She swung a fist at his head, but he ducked. She frowned.

"What did you think of those pirates?" she asked more seriously.

"They didn't stand a chance against an old man and a little girl," he deadpanned, "so personally I wasn't that impressed."

"A little old lady and a young boy." she corrected. Then, "They were Harusame."

"Not very impressive Harusame."

"I guess." she hedged.

"Worried about who comes next? Any other Harusame you don't want to see?" he inquired.

Her face swiveled away from him. "No." her answer shot from her lips after a long pause.

"None whatsoever?"


"Not even if it was the Shogun with a sharingan?"

"Been there, done that, uh-huh."

"What if all of the card sharks from that downtown casino came to play cards?"

"Wouldn't bother me, uh-huh," she maintained stolidly, "I'm pretty good at Go Fish."

"If you end up playing cards with those card sharks, you have really bad luck."

"I wouldn't play cards with them if I had really bad luck."

"You don't choose to play with them."

"It's fate?" Kagura's eyes were wide.

"Like Hijikata's death," Okita assured her.

"Like when two young souls meet, completely by accident, on a busy sidewalk? One of them is a prince," she sighed dreamily, "The other one says, 'Oh, excuse me! I'm not used to walking. I used to be a fish.' Only she can't talk. An evil octopus lady back home stole her voice." Okita took over the story,

" 'Move it.' he says, 'I'm in a hurry.' "

"She's still trying to talk. And failing. Oh, how tragic!"

"He says, 'Don't stand there with your mouth gaping, opening and closing like a fish out of water."

"It was as if he knew her deep, watery past."

"Then they borrow a rowboat and paddle out into the ominous waters," His eyes met hers. "Ha!" he jeered wordlessly, "This story is about to become a horror story. Cue the sea monsters."
Her eyes narrowed. Challenge accepted. "As if I'd let you." They seemed to say, blue fire flickering stronger in them.

"All the fish nearby are singing. A love song. Even the nearby reef is singing coral music."

"Choral music?"
"Either way. They're singing, aren't they, uh-huh?"

"As they are about to kiss, two eels come out of the water, looking sinister."

"And singing."


"Since they were about to kiss, the two eels do."

"That wasn't who I meant when I said 'they are about to kiss'."

"You never specified," She smiled, self-satisfied, "Eel romance really is the best."

"All that seaweed must go to your head."

"Well, its up to you to decide what happens next, Mr. Completely Clear-headed Bishonen."

"Just watch as your fairy tale turns into a scary tale."

"Bring it on, uh-huh!"

"Suddenly, the boat begins to rock violently."

"And she falls into his arms." Eyes met, both burning, intensely competetive.

"Then he tells her her breath smells."

"Then he falls off the rowboat. Cause unknown." Kagura grinned.

"That's harsh!"

"But, underwater, he meets the eels."

"And by meet, we really mean meat. He sells them at huge prices to gourmet restaurants, since they were singing eels when they were alive. He rises through the seafood industry."

"To celebrate, he treats the ex-fish to a delicious dinner."

"They toast his success."

"And eat mouthwatering seafood." Kagura added.

"He tells her about his escapades as a young prince."

"She listens, chewing blissfully on tuna, its savory, delicious flavor filling her with warmth..., uh-huh."

"When he was young, he heard a mermaid once."

"She then digs into a succulent eel dish."

"He has since forgotten all about mermaids, without even trying to remember her to this very day."

"The shrimp on her plate glistens appetizingly..."

"How hungry exactly is this ex-fish? Why isn't she listening to his stories?"

"I dunno." Kagura replied, drooling slightly.

"The next dish is takoyaki, and she begins to chew, relishing every bite of the octopus treat." Okita tried it himself.

"And she says: 'That was delicious!' Wait. How can she talk?" Kagura had confused herself.

"Turns out that takoyaki wasn't made of any old octopus." Okita concluded. Kagura had accidentally provided a happy ending to the story by killing the evil octopus. It had turned out more shoujo than anything, afterall. Okita sighed.

"It was her true love! Yum, uh-huh!" Kagura had obviously forgotten the ex-fish's backstory. Okita's lips turned upward slightly as he looked at her, bemused. "...That's not quite..." he ventured, wondering how he could set the story straight. Finally, he gave up. Kagura continued on from the point of view of the ex-fish.

"She had a bite of toast. Using her new voice, she commented, 'This could use a little marmalade. The end."
Okita smiled wryly.

"An award-winning story," he deadpanned.

"My favorite part was the eating scene, and also the eel romance!" she added brightly. Then, as if struck by an idea, Kagura exclaimed, "We should make this into an eel-ustrated picture book!"

"Where did this idea come from?" Okita wanted to know.

"I've been struck by a stork of genius!" Kagura explained.

"Stroke of genius," Okita corrected halfheartedly, "Storks are typically said to bring babies."

"Call it my brainchild, then," Kagura continued, dismissing the problem, "And let's call it, 'A Little Marmalade', uh-huh!" she added.

"It'd probably get so famous we'd be eel-ected president and vice-president of the book club." Okita's face remained stoic.

"I'd be president, uh-huh!"

"You'd definitely be the vice-president." His voice was confident.

"How come? You're the shrimp, around here, tadpole!" she fumed.

She was definitely the shrimp, Okita thought. A line from the story came to him, about the shrimp.. "...glistens apetizingly..." her hair was shining in the light, her eyes bright, her lips slightly wet... He shook his head and continued.

"...and you could make me sandwiches."

"You can make your own peanut butter and jellyfish sandwiches!"
They glared at one another. By glaring at each other, I mean that he looked at her with the most dead serious straight face ever, and she frowned disapprovingly at him with defiant blue eyes. A long moment passed, as their feet carried them forward, most of their tiredness forgotten, staring into each other's eyes.

"I'm hungry." Kagura finally decided.

"What do you want to eat?" Okita questioned. She thought for a few moments.