A/N: Back from the dead... Well, not really but at least, I'm back. I'll save all the grovelling at collective feet of my readers for the long wait and hope that this chapter redeems me. I hope you guys forgive me for the long absence. And I hope, with this post, I'd have more time in between work and what-not to squeeze writing to.

Special thanks to : thepinkmartini, FukuWija, satomika, heart, Suryasree, eirist, nils and Clovergirl100. Thank you very much for the support you give this fic. Chapter 9.. finally.. tehees..

Standard Disclaimer applies.

Message in a Bottle by Anne Raven

Machinations of the Unprepared

It was already dark.

Although whatever happened in that boat ride with Tokiya was no longer spoken of, Fuuko felt some form of residue settle. It was the sort of leftover feeling that forced people to do things they didn't normally do that when he came down the cabin to check on her, she had clung to him and started pouring out her frustrations. She was so distraught, she lost track of the times he wiped her tears away. It comforted her - the way he held her like he could prevent her from falling apart.

Then they talked about nothing and everything while they ate under the canopy of stars on the deck of Ensui, docked as it was by the Mikagami Estate. But he never asked and she never spoke of that one thing at least. Only when Kauro's bedroom lights clicked on did they realize that Fuuko was expected home.

Fuuko stayed over his place longer than she planned that when she got home, she wasn't surprised to find the lights out.

They were silent throughout the drive home and the silence stretched on as she bussed his cheek. Goodbyes got stuck on her throat because she knew they really weren't saying goodbye to each other.

"Tomorrow, Kirisawa..." he managed to choke out. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Of course, Mi-chan. Of course." She replied as a small smile graced her face.

She was thinking hard on how much he was able to save her at the most unexpected times in her life, just at the exact time she needed saving. That's twice now, Fuuko thought as she entered the house.

Fuuko leaned back against the door, wallowing go the darkness of the abandoned living room. She admired him. Fuuko Kirisawa admired Tokiya Mikagami in a way she could never admire someone else. He had been through a lot and yet there he was, thriving.

He was waiting for her. No one knew that he would be staying up late. He never told anyone and no one bothered to ask. But he did not expect she would be out this late that not even the sixth glass of whiskey helped ease his anxiety. He was afraid she might spend the night with the Mikagami heir.

He had no idea why he left the lights turned off. He just felt like waiting in the dark he supposed; besides, his eyes quickly adjusted in the dark. Then he heard the unmistakable screech of brakes being applied on tires. Thank the gods had pity on him.

Kurei watched her enter, surprised that she did not notice him. She usually wasn't this careless but he noticed that she was deep in thought and a faint blush spread on her cheeks. If he was sober, he would've thought of a million different reasons why she flushed but at that moment all he could think of was how pretty she was.

Fuuko felt her blood rush to her face. She might never admit it to anyone but it was alright to admit it to herself. Tokiya Mikagami was the type of guy you can easily fall in love with. Not that she was but she liked him enough.

If she wasn't so consumed by her thoughts, Fuuko would have noticed that she wasn't alone in the room.

"You came home late." He muttered.

Fuuko froze. She wasn't expecting anyone to stay awake and wait up for her. Surely, Ganko wouldn't. Everyone in her family was well convinced that she could take care of herself even more than Keisuke could. She never realized that someone would doubt hers and Tokiya's capability to take care of themselves until she realized who was waiting for her.

Kurei flicked the table lamp on and a warm yellow light flooded the room. It wasn't strong enough to lighten the entire living room but it was enough. Fuuko's eyes zoomed in on the bottle of whiskey on the coffee table and the shot glass on his hand before bringing them up to his face. His eyes never left her face; his gaze was penetrating.

If there was one person who could scare the wits out of Fuuko, it would have to be Kurei. For some reason, he always sparked fear in her like he was capable of hurting her which would definitely be saying something considering the fact that Fuuko was the type of person who rarely got scared. Kurei was definitely something else. And a drunk Kurei was no better.

Kurei sensed her uneasiness but somehow, that information stayed at the back of his mind buried behind more powerful intentions at the moment. The soft light from the lamp made her look more ethereal as if she would disappear if he closed his eyes. Charged by mysterious forces unknown even to himself, Kurei was pulled towards her like a moth to the flame.

Fuuko felt engulfed by Kurei's presence. She somewhat felt like a doe in trapped in headlights but the difference was that she wanted to stay there as he approached her. He stood directly in front of her trapping her between his arms on either side of her face, her back pressed aganst the door, the shot glass still cradled in his left hand.

"You came home late." He repeated gently this time as he whispered the words near her ear.

She could smell the alcohol he consumed. It wasn't really bad. It mixed well with the perfume he was wearing. It made him appear dark, mysterious, dangerous… desirable; as if he wasn't to begin with.

As her mind digested the fact that Kurei was almost a hair's breadth away from her, Fuuko felt Kurei's lips skim the edge of her jaw. The action raised the goose bumps on her arms; the feeling sent her heart racing. This was not something she expected Kurei to do. This was something she never thought would happen. She also believed that Raiha would never leave her. She believed she'd never see Tokiya again. She believed a thousand things would never happen to her. But there they were in that exact scenario. There she was; the once-impossible things in her life happening to her.

"Kurei…" She managed to utter before her mind went blank.

He lifted his eyes to look directly into hers and whispered, "If you really want me to stop, you'd tell me to." Then he lowered his face and lightly brushed his lips to hers.

Fuuko's lids started to close but snapped back open when her brain suddenly realized what was happening. This was Kurei. She valued him a lot and this was something that could make her lose him. And although what he was doing was making her feel wonderful, she knew they had to stop.

"Kurei…" She whispered against his lips. "Please… stop."

Kurei immediately drew back and looked at her, hurt evident on his face. It almost made her want to take back what she said but she knew both of them would hurt more if they let things go awry.

Fuuko wanted to explain but before the words came out he already lifted a finger and pressed it against her lips.

"Next time, please don't make me worry."

That was all he said before he left and walked upstairs to the room he shared with Recca.

Fuuko heard the door close before she slumped. She was confused… very confused. A week or two ago, her life was completely carefree. Now, she had to deal with feelings she couldn't even name. She wished it was all a dream. She wished she could wake up from it but in truth, it wasn't all nightmare. She just needed time to straighten things out. She just needed to get her feelings in line. She just needed sleep.

-Message in a Bottle-

Fuuko didn't think she would be back onboard the Ensui so soon but there she was, leaning on the railing of the boat while Tokiya stood behind her three nights after her first trip.

She was wearing a velvet green, empire waist dress with lace details on the bodice. Tokiya, on the other hand, was wearing something billboard worthy. She had a gut feeling the guy modeled for Armani. She was skeptical at the proposal and still was about the event. He had specifically requested her to dress formally that evening and when she arrived at the Mikagami Estate, she immediately saw that the Ensui was already rigged for some kind of dinner date.

Tokiya led out the Ensui far enough from shore but not too far out on sea. Tokiya had been the perfect gentleman, the perfect conversationalist, the perfect dinner date. Of course, Fuuko already knew this. This was the typical Mikagami style anyway. But what set her thinking was why he went through all the trouble of setting up something nice for her. Anyways, who was she to complain?

"It was great. Thanks for the wonderful dinner, Mi-chan." She grinned as he handed her a glass of merlot.

"You deserve a break from all the drama you showed me last night. I wish I had a camera so I can show you how pathetic you were yesterday." He said.


No one insults Kirisawa Fuuko to her face even if it was true. Although she knew he meant well, it would've been better if he didn't mention it.

"I was kidding!" Tokiya grumbled as he rubbed the side of his head.

"So was I." Fuuko smiled slyly.

Tokiya arched an eyebrow. He should remember not to joke often with her because it hurts... a lot. But he smiled. This was something one regular Fuuko Kirisawa would be doing. At least he was able to keep angsty, depressed Fuuko Kirisawa out of the moment. By his standards, he was keeping more promises than he ever dreamed of keeping but he was surprised to find that it wasn't entirely that that made him want to make her laugh.

They emptied two bottles of wine in course of their conversation. Fuuko consumed copious amounts of alcohol. It was probable that he wasn't able to keep 'sad Fuuko' away entirely but it was alright. She won't get hurt just by drinking wine. Besides, he was there to watch over her. And as he carried a tipsy Fuuko down the cabin and laid her on the bed, he noticed that drinking made her flush and her color was beautiful. He liked her, he really did, but he never thought he would love her if it could be called love that he was feeling. It might be a mistake but he refused to think of it as such. It was not coincidence that Windchild and Fuuko were one and the same. Fate worked to bring them back together.

Damn, the alcohol was taking effect on him as well, he thought.

"What on earth is running through that beautiful head of yours?" She asked.

Tokiya laughed. It was normal for Fuuko to have a loose tongue but praising him was not so usual.

"This beautiful head of mine is thinking of your equally beautiful head. Or maybe not so equally beautiful just by a notch or two." He replied flashing that one-sided smile of his.

"Stop rubbing it in, Mi-chan."

And as she pouted at him, he took the opportunity to kiss those luscious lips. It could have been the romantic mood or the full moon outside, the moment itself, maybe even the alcohol, but he didn't care. She was kissing him back anyway. It was easy to get lost in each other, he thought. But Tokiya wanted it to be beautiful. She deserved it.

"I love you." He whispered near her ear after nibbling it.

Fuuko stiffened. Then, she began pushing him away.

"What's wrong?" Tokiya asked as she started righting her clothes.

"You don't know what you're saying." She replied curtly.

"Yes I do." He retorted. He was the renowned smart-ass anyway.

"No you don't. How could you? Love me, I mean. You hardly know me." She snapped at him.

Tokiya shook his head. She was wrong and he could prove it. He knew her more than anyone might have and as he stood he walked over towards a small chest to get one of his most prized possessions.

"I know you more than you think I do." He said as he handed her letter by letter, bottle by bottle. "I know you... Windchild."

Fuuko's eyes grew wide. "These are not for you." She managed to say.

"It doesn't matter if they are. I found them. Finders, keepers, Fuuko." He replied as he took them all back.

"Fine! Keep them. But you're not keeping me here. Bring me home." She commanded.

And although he did not want to leave things as they were at that moment, there was nothing he could do. He could see her emotions spent on this one issue. And if there was one thing he did not want, it was to bring her more pain. And so he brought her home and prematurely ended the night he planned for her. If it went through according to his plans, she might not be going home tonight but he supposed the gods never wanted things to go his way. Many things didn't so why would this be different.

He opened he passenger's side door for her when they arrived at the Kirisawa rest house. She was fuming still and he hoped that things would change before they said goodnight so squatted and took both her hands in his while she still sat in his car.

"I was hoping you wouldn't hate me. But I want you to know that I never meant to make you feel this way." He explained.

"Actually, Mi-chan, I'm angrier at myself." She answered.

"Don't be. Despite what happened at the latter part, I loved spending the evening with you." Tokiya said as he stood and helped her stand as well.

"Thank you. loved spending my evening with you too. I might have overreacted though but please think about what you said. For both our sake." She smiled.

Fuuko kissed his cheek. She was thinking of kissing him again. The idea was very inviting. They just made up, sort of and it really felt nice kissing him earlier but just then...


It was a voice she wished she could forget. He was the person she wished she could erase from her memories. But just when she thought she was moving on, there he was again standing in front of her doorstep with Domon, Recca and Kurei behind him.

"It's nice to finally see you again, Fuuko-chan." His smile was just as bright as it always was.

"Likewise, Raiha..."

A/N: Chapter 9 done. I'd be following up on my other fics too. Hope you guys liked this. I know it's kinda rushed but oh well. Sometimes I think I've lost the ability to write. I hope I'm wrong. At least you guys could tell me what you think. And I'm so hoping for your reviews. Give me some love. Your reviews would be wonderful stress busters after a long day at work. Mwahugs

-Anne Raven