The Party

Chapter 1

Soujirou Nishikado was easily bored. It wasn't just a consequence of his ultra exclusive upbringing, which brought him most material things he desired. The environment simply wasn't challenging. In the world of the rich and famous, the young tea master often had experiences only a handful of people could achieve, and usually only after a lifetime of work and sacrifice.

Soujirou didn't need a lifetime for any kind of experience he desired. Oh, there was work and sacrifice; his older brother being shunned by the family for pursuing a career away from tea was a definite casualty of the lifestyle his family expected. He did work hard to prove himself in his family company, but working hard wasn't even that hard.

Tea was easy. Business was easy. And women... women were definitely easy.

So, Soujirou was easily bored and he was bored even at Tsukasa Doumyouji's welcome back party. He didn't expect to be. Whenever Makino and Doumyouji were in the same room, it was a laugh riot. Being with the F4 was always fun. Never a dull second.

He'd somehow gotten pushed forcefully away, as the crowd became chaotic when Makino and Doumyouji entered the room together. That was probably why he was so bored. He wasn't around his comfortable friends, and the rest of the people that somehow latched onto him were vapid and lame.

As he scanned the crowd for the F4, another reason for his boredom was right before him: nothing was new. These were the same people, since birth, that he'd mingled with, was expected to continue to mingle, then eventually marry.

He gave a slight shudder at that last thought, and downed the almost-forgotten drink in his hand. He took a look at his now-empty glass. Might as well get another round. Being pleasantly drunk was the only way to tolerate people at a party besides the F4.

He was so engrossed in his thoughts that he had swung abruptly around and immediately plowed into someone. Liquid splashed onto his Armani lapel. Great. He scowled.

"Ah! Nishikado-san!" a distressed and familiar voice exclaimed. "I'm so sorry!"

He looked down and saw Yuuki Matsuoka, her heart-shaped face flushed with embarrassment, and his scowl immediately melted away. Now here was a girl that was neither vapid or lame. And as he knew first-hand, occasionally surprising.

Definitely not boring.

"It's all right, Yuuki-chan," he said, flashing her a charming smile. He'd forgotten how cute she could be up close. He fished a silk handkerchief from his inside jacket pocket and dabbed at the innocent spill. It was only champagne, after all. "I'll just send you the dry clean bill."

Yuuki returned his smile tentatively, knowing he was joking. "I'll make it up to you somehow. I'll owe you."

"You still haven't paid me back from when you last owed me." Soujirou couldn't help but tease her about their one lovely night four years ago. Silly girl had given him her special night, and she felt like she had owed him? Of course he had dismissed the idea entirely at that time, but it was fun to bring it up again - he enjoyed seeing her blush.

However, instead of blushing, Yuuki burst out laughing. It was loud and unbidden, unlike the titters of the higher society ladies. "I don't know, Nishikado-san. I think in retrospect, you probably owe me."

Soujirou was a little surprised. The Yuuki he knew was very shy. He supposed that they didn't really have much contact unless it concerned Makino over the past few years. People could change. He wondered how much, feeling an impish urge to push his luck and see if he could manage to make her blush again.

"How about I grace you with a dance and we'll call it even?" he said. He opened his palm expectantly, and he was surprised to see her hesitate. Only for a second, before her face was all smiles and her small hand was in his palm.

Yuuki had always been a slight girl, but she felt incredibly small in their loose embrace. She was always someone he looked at like a little sister, harmless and cute and fun; someone in need of protection. Protection from wolves like himself.

The irony of their friendship was not lost on him. He was a nice guy, but a bad, bad man. The ex he had helped Yuuki get her revenge for was not much worse than he was himself towards women. He discarded them and played them as easily as that jerk did. The only difference was that someone like Yuuki was in the crosshairs. Soujirou had always been careful to choose the certain type of woman that can handle his behaviour. He never went after innocents.

That was until Yuuki offerred herself so sweetly, and he couldn't protect her against himself any more. Which made him just as stupid and evil as her ex. Possibly worse. He actually slept with her.

Try as he might though, he never felt one ounce of guilt for it. He never regretted sex with a beautiful woman, no matter what the outcome or circumstances were. It was one of the few nights he'd actually even remembered, let alone cared about. He'd never been with a woman who asked nothing beyond what he gave. Yep, he was a bad man.

He pressed her a little closer to his body, bending his head a little lower as he took in her scent. Vanilla? Not a perfume, he surmised, but actual vanilla extract. She still worked at the bakery, that much he knew, since it had taken off with the F4's endorsement. God, she smelled good.

As her curves conformed to his, his body began to stir, and he was getting excited in a way he hadn't felt in a long time. It was strange. Different. She wasn't really his type, could never be his type, but... She felt good. Yuuki had always been different from the rest of the women he'd been with. She wasn't a seductress out for his money nor was she an airhead only out for a good time. No, she was his sweet and sexy Yuuki, and most importantly: not boring. Nay, she was positively exciting.

Without thinking, he brushed his lips against her earlobe and whispered, "You look amazing tonight, babe."

Abruptly, she pulled back and laughed. "I bet you say that to all the girls."

Soujirou frowned. There was something about her tone of voice he didn't like. "Yuuki-"

"Well, it was great running into you," Yuuki went on, her smile wide. She brushed back her bangs and sighed. "But I have to go find my date."

"Your date?" Soujirou was still confused at the sudden turn of events. One moment, she was pliant in his arms, the next-

"Well, there you are gorgeous!" a booming voice with a curious accent interrupted them. Soujirou turned slightly and faced what looked like a blond American man reaching out to Yuuki. With a graceful move, he expertly sidestepped Soujirou, and managed to take Yuuki's hand and give her an experimental twirl on the dance floor. Soujirou frowned as he noticed Yuuki's cheeks grow pink.

"I've been looking all over for you," the foreigner went on, completely ignoring Soujirou. The nerve! What the hell was this guy's problem?

"Ah, er, Jim-kun," Yuuki began with a nervous laugh. "I'd like to introduce you to my friend Nishikado-san. Soujirou Nishikado, this is Jim Baker."

"Hm?" The foreigner pretended to act surprised as if suddenly noticing his presence. Soujirou resisted the urge to punch that stupid look out the this guy's face. However, he wasn't Tsukasa. He had manners, at the very least. He pinned a polite smile at his face.

"How do you do?" Soujirou said in perfect English. Jim's brows lifted and he answered back in a midwestern American twang.

"Not too bad, until I saw you dancing with my girl," Jim said easily, though he was still flashing a friendly grin.

"Mou, you two," Yuuki broke in Japanese. "I have no idea what you two are saying. Isn't that rude? What did you say?"

"Only that I have the hottest date here," Jim said in perfect Japanese, as he pulled Yuuki to his side and kissed her quickly on the cheek.

"Jim!" Yuuki squeaked, her face completely red at this point.

"Can't say I disagree," Soujirou said, with a small, tight smile. Years of training in tea ceremony helped him keep his cool. "You two enjoy your night. I still have to say my congrats to Makino and Domyouji."

"It was really nice to meet you!" Jim said in English to his retreating back.

As he walked away, Soujirou couldn't help but think that Yuuki's taste in men hadn't improved any.

/

Yuuki pushed Jim off of her and frowned. "What was that all about?"

Jim chuckled, with a shrug. "Just having fun. This party is boring as hell and that was the first time there was any excitement." He whistled low. "But woo, you have the most amazing taste in men, I'll give you that. That's Soujirou Nishikado?"

Yuuki knew Jim was brash and ridiculous, but he was starting to get other people's attention with his voice and presence. It wasn't hard considering that as a foreigner, he stuck out like a sore thumb, and his movie star good looks were also a shining beacon. Still, he didn't need to broadcast her issues to the world!

"Shhh, you're being a little loud."

Jim stopped a chuckle with his hand. Yuuki almost could see little fox ears sprout from his head, he looked so mischevous. "Sorry, I got a little excited. So tell me again why things ended between you two? He seemed pretty interested that entire dance, my dear, let me tell you."

Yuuki shook her head. "It was just a dance."

"Sweet Yuuki," Jim chuckled. "Sometimes you're too modest for your own good. You can't even tell when a guy wants you. As an expert in men, believe me, I can tell he wanted you, and pretty bad, might I add."

"That's ridiculous," Yuuki dismissed. Jim was one of her best friends in college, of course he would think highly of her. However, he wasn't aware of the type of circles - the type of women - Soujirou gravitated towards.

"He looked like he wanted to punch me out for interrupting you two," Jim cackled, evilly. "So much fun."

Yuuki wondered why she had so many troublemakers for friends. "I'm glad this amuses you so, but you have the wrong impression on Nishikado-san. He flirts with everyone. He sees me like a little sister. He dates models, for God's sake!"

"Lady, if I were straight I'd be all over you," Jim said frankly. "Model shmodels. I saw a few of them running about this evening and they don't hold a candle to you."

Yuuki smiled faintly. "Ah, Jim, if only you were straight..."

"I am for the evening!" he sing-songed, then whirled her around again to dip her low on the floor. Off-balance, Yuuki clung to him, embarrassed. He lowered his voice in what she guessed he thought was seductive. "Only eyes for you."

"Come on, let me up!" Yuuki squeaked, as she noticed people were staring at them, whispering off to the side. Ugh! She never knew how Tsukushi could handle this. And now, she wondered why she brought Jim along... oh, right, because he begged her to. He wanted to catch a closetted rich guy and have a tryst.

He finally let her up, laughing without any sense of remorse or care at the spectacle they were making. Yuuki was a little embarassed, but not as much as she would have been in the past. Early in the evening, Jim had matter-of-factly explained how highly unlikely it would be that they'd see any of these people again, and so there was no reason to believe their actions or behaviour would bite them back. Having friends like Tsukushi and Jim really helped her stop worrying too much about what others thought.

"Have you taken a look at the buffet yet, by the way?" Jim asked, as he tugged her towards its exact direction. "And all the alcohol. Open bar is the best!"

Yuuki was practically towed towards the buffet line by Jim's enthusiastic grip. He was so hyper this evening, like a kid in a candy store. Still, she enjoyed his energy. It was always a fun time being with Jim. In some ways, she did sincerely wish he was straight. He always made her feel at ease, complimented her shamelessly, and didn't mind listening to her prattle about mundane things. He always found ways to spin the boring into exciting. And she wasn't blind: he was extremely nice on the eyes.

She chastised herself. Why in the world was she always associating herself with men that were literally unavailable to her? Was she a masochist? Did she simply enjoy pining for gorgeous men? Why couldn't she just befriend regular guys that might turn into something more?

She shook her head. She had awful, awful taste in men. She sighed aloud.

"Looks like you need a drink," Jim said, snapping her out of her reverie. They had somehow found their way through the buffet aisle, and he was holding a plate of snacks on one hand, and the other a wine bottle. She started. Why was he holding an entire wine bottle?

"I don't think you're supposed to take the entire-"

"Shhh," Jim said. "They have hundreds of them there. They won't miss it."

"Jim," Yuuki began. He was taking this a little too far. She knew he was really excited, but she didn't want them to get kicked out. She hadn't even had a chance to say hello to Tsukushi yet!

"Yuuki," Jim returned in a teasing voice. "Come on, let's have our own private party. I saw a pretty sweet terrace off to the side, no one's there."

Yuuki was about to refuse but then Jim turned on the puppy eyes. It was a ridiculous sight, him batting his eyes and then he started whining, just like a puppy. Yuuki burst out laughing. "Fine, fine, let's go."

Jim whooped, and quickly kissed her on the cheek. "Sweet. Best date ever."

Yuuki sighed again as she let herself be pulled off to the terrace, thinking that she was probably doomed to die a spinster.

/

Soujirou could barely believe what he was seeing. The man Yuuki had brought to the party was unbelievably disruptive, and... did he just see him steal a bottle of wine? What the hell was Yuuki thinking? Didn't she see what a delinquent he was, that she was in for a world of hurt?

"Did that guy just steal some of Domyouji's wine?"

Soujirou didn't need to turn around to know it was his best friend, Akira Mimasaka, asking the question.

"He's Yuuki-chan's date," Soujirou could barely even say the word, he was so disgusted. At that, Akira burst out laughing.

"Makino's best friend sure has awful taste in guys," Akira chortled, then slapped Soujirou in the back. He meant for that as an insult to Soujirou, but he didn't seem to get it. Soujirou's gaze was still on Yuuki and her company.

"I can't be always rescuing her from the obvious," Soujirou said, with a slight frown. At that, Akira's brows raised. Who appointed Soujirou as her guardian?

"Well, Yuuki-chan's a big girl," Akira said. He rubbed his chin as he scruitinized her from afar. Yuuki was in a simple strapless red dress with a big dark sash. It was very appealing, as it exposed her neck and shoulders, flawless and smooth. The dress wasn't designer, he could tell, but she looked like a perfectly coiffed present, ready to be unwrapped. "In fact, she's looking pretty hot these days, hm? "

"I wouldn't call her hot per se," Soujirou said gruffly.

"Come on," Akira scoffed. He could tell his friend noticed the slight change. Yuuki had always been pretty, but over the years, her bone structure had become more pronounced and the baby fat melted away to reveal an alluring figure beneath. Heck, if she were only ten years older, Akira wouldn't have hesitated to try to seduce that one. "Your girl's grown up."

At that, Soujirou started and whirled to look at his friend. "She's not my girl."

Akira rolled his eyes and raised his hands in mock defense. "All right. You've just been staring at her and crushing your glass of scotch for no reason."

"I just hate jerks that prey on innocent girls, that's all," Soujirou said. "It's freaking annoying. This'll just all end in tears and what mess that'll be."

"It's none of your business though," Akira said dryly. "Like I said, Yuuki-chan's a big girl. And from where I'm standing, jerk or not, she doesn't seem to be bothered by the guy."

"It's my business because Makino'll make it her business, which in turn will make it Tsukasa's business, which will trickle down to us," Soujirou said.

"Right. This isn't because you want to have another go 'round for old times' sake?"

Soujirou grimaced. "Don't be so crude. It wasn't even like that the first time."

Akira shook his head. His friend was such an idiot. "Yeah, but you want a next time?"

"You know I slept with her once, years ago, as a favour, right?"

"Dude, stop it, I get it. There are some women I like to have as repeats, too," Akira said.

"She's not my type, man!"

"Doth protest too much," Akira returned, amused. "Just go after her if you want her so bad. You know she's loved you forever, she won't say no."

At that, Soujirou's expression became thoughtful. "Huh. You think so? You think she's still into me?"

Akira burst out laughing. He read his friend like a book. "See? Stop acting like Tsukasa and just go for it. The worst she can do is turn you down, but I doubt it."

"She's with someone else tonight."

Akira raised his hands as if crying out to the heavens. "And that's stopped you before how?"

"I'd be the jerk I hate," Soujirou said dryly. The irony hadn't escaped him.

"She's not that innocent if she's been with you already," Akira returned. Akira liked Yuuki and didn't want her to be hurt, but he didn't really see the harm since it had been years, he assumed she'd grown more mature. Most women he knew after their first time, especially if it was with Soujirou or himself, became minor nymphos. If she was hanging out with weirdos like her date, she must be used to handling assholes by now. Besides, his loyalty was to his friend, and if Soujirou would be happy sleeping with Makino's best friend, so be it.

"Maybe," Soujirou said.

"Well, you better make your move soon, because Romeo there is taking her out to the terrace alone," Akira said pointing his thumb in the couple's direction. Soujirou rubbed his face with his free hand.

"I'm going to fucking regret this, I know it," Soujirou said but with a steely undertone. "But whatever. If Yuuki wants to be with an asshole tonight, it might as well be me."

Akira laughed and patted his friend on the shoulder. "That's the Sou I know and love. Onward, lover boy!"

/

This is nice, Yuuki mused, as she leaned up against the stone railing of the terrace and stared out to the massive Domyouji estate. Even though it was evening, the garden was lit up with tiny garden lights and it was positively enchanting. Now, if only her companion liked women... Even so, it was still a nice break from the crowd and quiet time to spend with a friend.

"Your friend must feel like a princess, living here now, huh?" Jim said, breaking the amiable silence. Yuuki giggled.

"Tsukushi's not... the princess type. Actually, all this is a bit too much for her," Yuuki told him, still staring out into the garden. "It's beautiful and all, but it's kinda overwhelming. I don't know how she handles it myself."

"Your friend sounds like my type," Jim told her.

"I think you two would get along," Yuuki said, then laughed. "On second thought, she might be too busy beating you up for embarassing her in public. She's kinda sensitive about attention."

"So she decides to hook up with one of the most public figures in all of Japan, makes sense," Jim said, with a chuckle.

"I think she wishes sometimes that Domyouji-san was just a normal guy, but this is the reality they have," Yuuki said, then grew quiet. "There's so much that Tsukushi-chan has to deal with to be part of this world. You saw how it was out there, it's kind of like a zoo."

"Which is why it was good that things didn't go very far with you and Nishikado, anyway," Jim pointed out. "You don't have to deal with that bullshit."

Yuuki shrugged. She hadn't even thought that far. She always knew her fling with Soujirou was a dead end. "Yeah."

They both fell silent, the muffled murmurs from inside the party and the wind being their only soundtrack.

"You still have a thing for him, don't you?" Jim said finally.

"I'm an idiot," Yuuki said with a mirthless laugh. "I know, it's been years since..."

"Stop it, you're not an idiot," Jim said. "He's the idiot for not knowing how to keep his dick inside his pants and seeing what an amazing girl you are. And anyway, tough act to follow. I can see why it'd be hard for other guys to catch your eye."

"It isn't like I haven't tried," Yuuki said. "I mean, I go out on dates all the time. They're all good guys. Just... no spark."

"It's not supposed to be easy," Jim drawled. "If it were, everyone would have their perfect mates by now. If you want to see an idiot, look at me. I've been in love with a straight man for years. I left the States because I couldn't handle being his 'best friend' any more."

Yuuki nodded, feeling more connected to Jim. This was how they had become deeper friends: they bonded over their similar romantic failures.

Jim grasped her shoulders gently and turned her around. "Hey, let's be like a sitcom and make a pact."

"Huh?"

Jim grinned. "Like Will & Grace!"

Yuuki was familiar with the series since Jim introduced it to her. "What about them?"

"If we don't find our loved ones by the time we're 35, we should just get married and adopt a kid," Jim finished. Yuuki burst out laughing, but then Jim went down on one knee. She frowned. What was he doing?

"Yuuki Matsuoka, will you marry me when we're 35?"

/

Soujirou stopped in his tracks, in complete shock at the tableu in front of him. The American was getting down on one knee and even though the doors were closed so he couldn't really hear what they were saying, he could clearly make out the word: "Marry."

Try as he might, he wanted to just turn around and leave but he watched helplessly as Jim got back on his feet and Yuuki threw herself at him in a giant bear hug. He couldn't believe what he was seeing, but was more surprised at how his insides twisted watching it all unfold. What the hell was wrong with him? Was he sick?

"Ahhhh, Nishikado-saaaaan," a sickly sweet voice hovered behind him. He turned, blinking, as he noticed a woman latch onto his arm. Something was vaguely familiar about her...

"Rei-chan," he said suddenly, and the woman cooed in delight.

"Yes, you remembered!" the dark-haired girl shrilled. "I was so happy to see you at this party! All the other men are so boring."

Soujirou smiled automatically, as playboy mode was very natural to him. "Well, of course, they're not me." However, he kept shifting his eyes toward the terrace.

"No, they're not," Rei said in a husky voice, and instead of being seductive, Soujirou found it irritating as hell.

Then: "Nishikado-san?"

At that, Soujirou latched onto Rei-chan and swiveled around with a bright smile. "Ah, Yuuki-chan, we seem to keep running into each other! Are you stalking me perhaps? So shameless, in front of your date, too!" Stop it, his brain told him. He was babbling he knew, but he couldn't seem to help himself.

"Maybe you're stalking us," Jim broke in but his voice was friendly and pleasant. Soujirou felt Rei start in his arms as she openly gawked at Yuuki's date - fiancé? - and it irritated him even more. The American wasn't that good looking, was he?

"I'm Rei," the woman who had formerly latched onto him was blatantly dazed at Yuuki's date, and was batting her lashes ridiculously. Soujirou turned his eyes to Yuuki who didn't seem offended that some woman was blatantly hitting on Jim. In fact, she simply rolled her eyes, then slanted them towards him in an amused fashion, as if saying, "This is the type of women you consort with?"

Soujirou felt offended. Who was she to judge who he was with? She had bottom of the barrel interest in men, she had no right to judge.

"Nishikado-kun, you said you were going to hello to Tsukushi and Domyouji-san. Can you point us to their direction?" Yuuki asked. Soujirou searched her face. Akira was wrong. This wasn't a girl in love with him. She was simply looking at him like another friend; there was no trace of that yearning he used to see in her gaze, just a calm he never noticed before. Besides, was she engaged? He couldn't help but note that there was no ring on her finger, but you didn't need one to be engaged especially if it just happened.

"You know, I still haven't found them," Soujirou said. "Maybe you and I should look for them together."

"We should look for them together," Jim interrupted, still with that easy grin. "Right, Rei-chan?"

Soujirou had already forgotten the clingy brunette was even with them, but his gentlemanly manners prevented him from just shooing her off. He faked a smile. "Yes, it would be rude to come to the party and not thank the guests of honor. Let's all go."

/

It seemed easier said than done to catch Tsukushi and Domyouji, Yuuki thought with dismay. She really did want to see her good friend to congratulate her personally, but it seemed like the crowd had other ideas for them. They seemed to be able to catch a brief glimpse of them before other people rudely got in their way. Were these really high class people? They behaved like animals, trying to claw their way up from obscurity to have a touch of their idol. She really pitied Tsukushi, as she guessed her friend probably wanted nothing but alone time with her love.

"Jim," Yuuki began, grasping his shoulder blindly. "Maybe we should go that way, cut them off-"

"I'm not Jim," Soujirou rumbled, and Yuuki flushed in embarassment as she realised she was clinging onto Soujirou's arm so familiarly. She reared her hand back, as if burned. Where was Jim? Before she could ask, the playboy went on, "It looks like that last crazy crush separated everyone. It's insane, I can't believe that Domyouji coming back would get this type of reaction."

"I'd better find Jim," Yuuki said, already arching her head to catch a glimpse of his familiar blond mop. To her surprise, Soujirou simply grasped her elbow.

"Find him later, I see an opening. I just saw Makino duck out to the side. I think she's making a run for it." His voice was tinged with amusement. "Which means Tsukasa shouldn't be far behind. We should catch them before it's too late." He looked about and Yuuki noticed some women were staring in their direction. "Or before anyone recognizes me, either." He laced his fingers through hers and tugged. "Come on, before these losers get us, too!"

Yuuki's mind went blank as she allowed herself to be pulled. What was it about tonight that made the men she encountered want to pull her about? She was having enough of it! "Nishikado-san!"

He was hearing none of it, though, and he continued to pull her through the crowd, down the corridor, and then through a maze of doors that seemed endless, before finally taking them outside into the garden that the terrace overlooked.

"I think they're heading into the second house," Soujirou mused aloud. "It's just over that way. I don't think we need to run any more, no one should be watching."

Yuuki's heart was beating so fast, both from the running and from the prolonged contact of their hands. "You can drop my hand now."

"Hm? Oh," Soujirou said, looking surprised as well. He stuffed his hands into his pockets and nodded. "Well lets head on over to the annex."

"Maybe they just want some privacy," Yuuki said hesitantly, her cheeks pinkening slightly. It wouldn't be out of the question that her best friend and her love wanted to... become intimate.

Soujirou shrugged, then nodded slowly as understanding dawned. "Maybe you're right. I don't know about you, though, but I'm sick of the party." He looked up into the clear sky, which revealed a million stars. "Maybe we should just take a walk in the garden, instead."

"Uh..." Yuuki wasn't sure what he was suggesting and why. "I should get back and find Jim."

She was surprised to see him frown and glare at her. "Aren't I your friend, too, Yuuki-chan? What's wrong with hanging out with me and catching up?"

Yuuki blinked, lifting her hands helplessly. "Nothing wrong."

"Then lets take a walk," he said gruffly, pacing ahead of her. Yuuki's brows grew together, and she had to jog slightly to get back into pace with him. What was wrong with him? Was he... mad at her?

"What's going on, Nishikado-san?"

"The name is Soujirou," he bit out, causing her to gasp in surprise. The last time she had seen him this angry at her was when she inadvertently brought Sara back into his life. He grasped her shoulders and gave her a tiny shake. "Say it."

"S-s.. Soujirou..." she said, breathlessly. His expression shifted and his eyes became unreadable. Blood rushed to her face, and her heart was beating so loudly she was sure the whole world could hear.

"Say it again," he said softly. "Say my name again."

She licked her lips, her throat suddenly parched. "Soujirou..."

Then without warning, he closed the gap between them and crushed her lips against his own. Yuuki gasped, but opening her mouth only caused him to groan and continue the assault against her lips. It was a brutal kiss: punishing, hard, desperate. She had never in her life been kissed this way, not even by him, because at that time, he had been delicate with her.

This wasn't delicate in the least. His mouth tasted like a heady mixture of alcohol and tea, and something uniquely Soujirou. She felt her knees buckle beneath him, which only caused him to tighten his arms around her.

"Yuuki-chan..."

The sound of her name jarred her back to reality and she cried out, pushing him away with all of her might. Then, without thinking, she reared her hand back and slapped him hard across the face. He stepped back, dazed, his free hand flying to his face in shock.

"Stop it," she bit out. "I'm not..." She clenched her small hands, shaking in fury. "I am not one of your easy lays! S-stay away from me!"

With that, she turned and ran, ignoring the shout of her name in the stillness of the garden.

/

What the fuck was he doing?

Soujirou ran a distracted hand across his perfectly styled hair, dishevelling it.

What just happened? He had completely lost control. That had never happened before in his life, and it left him shaken. One moment he was looking for Makino and Domyouji, the next... Yuuki's face was glowing in the moonlight, her face still flushed from their sprinting, and she was looking at him with those large, doe eyes of hers, whispering his name in a way that made his stomach tighten and drew goosebumps all over his arms. He hadn't meant to kiss her. Then she did that thing with her tongue...

He closed his eyes. What was he? Twelve? A man who couldn't control his hormones at the sight of a pretty girl?

She was shocked, he knew that. She also looked about to cry. Dear God, when did it come to this? He never took a girl by force. He never had a problem with women wanting him before, but Yuuki... he had upset her, and he hated himself for it. He wasn't sweet, he wasn't gentle. He was sure he scared her to death.

And for all intents and purposes, she was probably engaged! Had he turned into Akira?

"Shit," he swore. "Fuck."

He had too much to drink, he concluded. And he hadn't gotten laid in a couple weeks, he'd been so busy with work. Yes, that was it. He needed to put an end to this now. He smoothed down his jacket and sighed, then narrowed his eyes in determination. He was going to go back in that party and find himself a hot woman to score with. He was sure that would get rid of this nagging need that was starting to overwhelm him. And he was going to leave Yuuki Matsuoka the hell alone.

/