At last! After all that tense, seriousness I finally give you the romance you've all been patiently waiting for! Here's your reward. Early Valentine' Day gift from me to all my fellow Ookami-san friends! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi.
Recovery And Romance
Chapter 2. Romance
For the next six weeks, Ryoushi and all other members of the Otogi Bank took turns in visiting Ryouko daily to make sure that she was not alone for longer than the endurance of the night.
Ringo's note-taking and collection of schoolwork kept Ryouko on the same level as the rest of the class even without the long, droning lessons.
Every time any one of them visited her after her third week of being confined there, she kept insisting that she was completely healed and wanted to leave right away. But they all worked hard to convince her to wait just one more week and eventually she ended up staying in the hospital's care until the sixth week was up. "No fair." Ryouko pouted as she walked out of the hospital with Ringo and Ryoushi on either side of her. "You said I would get out 2 weeks ago if I got enough rest."
"Sorry." Ringo sang with a smile on her face, obviously not sorry at all. "But it was necessary to help you recover."
"Our classmates have been worried about you and our clients kept requesting for you." Ringo went on. "I can't tell you how many times Alice-san had to turn down their requests for you and to settle for someone else. Everyone's going to be so glad to see you again!"
"Sure." Ryouko rolled her eyes, disbelieving. "Why were they requesting me so much anyway?" she wondered.
"W-Well…" Ringo hesitated now, obviously regretting her previous words now. "I-It's mostly been boys and they've…" she stopped.
"They've what?" Ryouko insisted. Ryoushi had fallen silent and was listening intently to Ringo as well. He had not heard of all these boys asking for Ryouko and he wanted to know exactly what their business was.
"They've…" Ringo swallowed. "They've asked that you would attend the upcoming Dance with them." She blurted out.
She was met with a minute-long silence from both Ryouko and Ryoushi, whose jaws had both dropped and Ringo shuffled her feet uncomfortably.
"D-Dance?" Ryouko repeated uncertainly.
"Yes. This year is going to be Otogi Academy's 11th annual Dance, and it seems that they all would like you to go as their dates. So far, six boys have come asking about you." She reported. While Ryouko was staring at Ringo dumbfounded, Ryoushi was attempting to speak to no avail and merely wound up opening and closing his mouth again like a fish out of water.
"A d-d-d-d-d-dance?" Ryoushi mumbled to himself. "All those guys want to go with Ryouko-san?" Dismay washed over him. And just as we were beginning to develop a decent relationship!
"Well I hope you turned them down," Ryouko's words were like heavenly tunes to his ears then, and Ryoushi straightened up. "Because I'm not going. You should have been able to guess that much." She concluded.
Ryoushi's fears dissipated like dew in a desert and a smile broke out across his face in knowing that she would not be going to such an event with any other man.
"Eh?" Ringo wailed. "Why not?"
"What's with that reaction?" Ryouko snapped. "Don't tell me you accepted their requests in my stead!"
"Of course not." Ringo scolded. "Do you really think we'd be so mean? I knew you would rather spend the time at the gym doing some vigorous workout than go out with some random guys you don't even know." Each word was a little less unsettling for Ryoushi. "But," Ringo went on. "I'd wished that you would at least go just for the sake of hanging out with me!"
"What? You're going?" Ryouko's voice was laced with surprise.
"Well why not?" She asked. "Otsu-san already got us all outfits!"
"Wait, back up. I'm lost here." The long-haired girl made her roommate stop. "Are you serious? I've never heard of any of this."
"Yes. Otsu-san managed to rent all the members of the Otogi bank outfits for the Dance and she's letting us pick from a variety. I don't know how she did it but I'm not going to ask. She just said it was a favor." Ringo inched closer to Ryouko. "You wouldn't want to put all her efforts to waste, now would you?"
Ringo knew she had her there; Ryouko absolutely hated having to refuse people when they had gone through so much trouble in order to acquire something for her.
Ryouko grimaced and opened her mouth once before thinking better and closing again. She fumbled in her mind for excuses, all the while Ringo's smirk grew wider and wider until at last her taller roommate gave in.
"F-Fine." She compensated. "But I'm not going to stay long! Maybe only 10 minutes or so."
"Yay!" Ringo trilled. "I can't wait to see Ryouko-chan in her cute outfit!"
"W-Wha…?" Ryouko's face flushed cherry red.
Ryoushi's jaw dropped again, trying to imagine what the love of his life would look like in a fancy dress but his mind was not advanced enough to clearly depict such an impossible image.
"Good then." Ringo nodded in satisfaction. Then she turned to look at the green-eyed boy who jumped at her piercing stare. "You'll be coming too, right Morino-kun?" Her demandingly persuasive smile was like a demonic grin straight out of hell.
"O-Of course I will!" He replied immediately, like a soldier who had just been asked a question by his commander.
"Glad to hear it." The redhead gave him a lingering stare. This could be your only chance to be with Ryouko-chan! She screamed with her eyes.
Ryoushi just blinked at her once before he began to tremble. "D-Don't look at me!" he cried out, falling to his knees.
"Just like old times!" Ringo chirped as Ryouko sighed hopelessly.
"Well," the latter girl grumbled. "When is this…dance?" the word coming from her mouth felt like some kind of taboo.
"This Friday!" was the excited reply.
"Huh?" Ryoushi's head flew up at the same time as Ryouko's jaw fell open.
"Yep!" Ringo's smile was blinding. "And now since you've both agreed to come there's no backing out!"
"You tricked us!" Ryoushi wailed.
"Sure, sure, whatever."The little girl waved her hand dismissively. "Just make sure you're both there in the gymnasium by 7PM."
The remainder of the week flew by like a private jet, and before Ryoushi knew it, it was 6PM Friday evening.
He stood in his room, staring at the neat, black tuxedo hanging from his closet. He still could not believe that he was being lent such an exquisite and expensive item, and for free as well, since it was only for one night; surely if he had needed to pay, his wallet would have been crying in agony by now.
Slowly, he reached for the crimson shirt his father had lent to him and carefully slid the tuxedo over his shoulders. It felt especially awkward having to slick his hair back, but he made sure not to get too into it and let some of his bangs remain. Tightening his red-and-black-striped tie, Ryoushi glanced himself over in the mirror in his bathroom before calling out to his parents that he was leaving and stepping out the front door.
He took his time sauntering to the school campus considering he still had some time before the dance began. A warm, Springtime breeze drifted by and the boy closed his eyes to enjoy it, momentarily thankful that it was warm enough for him not to require a jacket.
The sun had already set and the sky was blazing orange as Ryoushi finally arrived at the school grounds. Students were flowing into the entrance steadily and he mingled among them until they made their way to the gymnasium.
There were several tables and stands set up offering refreshments and food as well as a DJ, but aside from the chairs lining the walls of the room the entire floor had been cleared for dancing. Ryoushi's mood sunk a bit as he realized that there was nothing at all to do here for the next 3 and a half hours except dance. It was obvious, considering it was a dance after all, but still the thought of having to do it for so long was already making his feet ache. Not that I particularly have anyone to dance with anyway…
Just then, Ryoushi spotted several familiar people. Nekomiya stood off leaning against the wall with his arms crossed, wearing a black suit that contradicted the usual hat that sat atop his head. Momoko, along with her group of male followers was dressed in a daring light blue dress that Ryoushi blushed at and had to quickly turn and avoided looking too much. Usami Mimi was present as well, dressed in a fitting pink Lolita dress and laughing as she chattered with some other girls from her class.
At last, Ryoushi spotted the members of the Otogi Bank. The president and Urashima were both garbed in similar clothing to Ryoushi in handsome black tuxedos and white shirts.
The girls, needless to say, were much more striking.
Alice, beside her cousin wore a dark violet dress whereas Otsu stood on his other side in a light blue one. Otohime clung lovingly to Urashima's arm in an aqua dress with ruffles around the collar and sleeves and even Majou had her long hair down and wore a light purple dress.
A smile came across Ryoushi's face as he neared his friends, eagerly seeking out one figure in particular. Finally, he spotted Ringo in, of course, a red dress somewhat like her normal, every day one, but slightly more refined. His eyes continued to search for the one remaining person to no avail.
The hyper little girl was the one to spot Ryoushi first and excitedly waved him over which alerted the other's attention to him as well. Ryoushi waved back bashfully as he made his way over to them to finally stand beside Ringo.
"Good evening, Morino-kun." Liszt greeted him.
"Ah, good evening." Ryoushi replied with a small bow. His eyes then directed quickly toward Ringo as he tried to act nonchalant as he asked, "Is…is Ryouko-san here yet?"
At his question, Ringo's face dropped and her smile faded. "No. She's not coming." Ryoushi's heart sunk at her words. "She said she wanted to but that she wasn't feeling well and she wanted me to apologize to you all." Ringo finished, addressing the rest of them as well.
"What a shame." The blonde president frowned. The other members murmured disappointedly around him and Ryoushi sighed in defeat. But then he straightened up as he got the idea in his head. Well then, maybe after staying a while longer here, I should go and visit her. She did just get out of the hospital after all. Ryoushi had just decided on his plans when Ringo proceeded to shoot him down.
"Ah, also," she told him. "Ryouko-chan said she didn't want any visitors tonight because she just wanted to rest. I felt really bad about leaving her home alone but she insisted she'd be fine. She was already in bed by the time I left."
"Really?" that was Otsu this time. "I wouldn't expect her to be the type that would get tired when sick. I saw her more as the type to work it off until she felt better. I hope nothing's wrong." She trailed off in a troubled voice that made Ryoushi tense.
"No, no. Let's not worry about her." Ringo insisted. "Let's just enjoy the dance." The smile came back to her face as a new song began playing from the DJ. "Come on! Let's go dance!" She squealed happily, grabbing both Otsu's and Majou's hands and dragging them into a more spacious area.
With a shrug of his shoulders, Liszt offered his palm to his cousin who blushed the tiniest bit before indigently sliding her fingers onto his and following after their companions.
Finally, Urashima got down on one knee as though he were about to propose and Otohime gasped delightedly as he presented his hand to her.
"Tarou-sama." The girl whispered with glimmering eyes as she accepted his hand.
"Let us go forth, my beautiful Otohime." He said in a dazzling voice as he stood to his feet and the girl latched onto his arm.
Ryoushi watched the perfect couple enviously as they disappeared into the growing crowd of people and glanced around, feeling particularly lonely now.
Sighing, he decided to sit the first dance out and merely watch his friends. He took a seat at the edge of the room and watched Ringo twirl herself around between Majou and Otsu. He was surprised at how swift and precise Otohime and Urashima's steps were as the white-haired boy spun his giggling companion around again and again. Liszt and Alice were nowhere to be seen, but Ryoushi imagined them off to the side somewhere slow dancing.
Several songs began and ended and Ryoushi hardly moved except to visit the snack table and get a glass of water. From the dance floor, Ringo could see that he was contemplating about going home by the downcast look in his eyes, but she would not allow her plan to go to waste. Breaking away from her friends, Ringo pushed her way through the crowd to reach Ryoushi, sitting on a chair by the wall.
"Morino-kun, you should come and dance!" she beamed.
"No thanks, Akai-san. I don't really dance." He denied her with a small smile.
"Please?" she pleaded, widening her eyes to resemble a rejected puppy's. "Just one quick one?" Ryoushi's only response was a sigh but she obviously took it as an "alright, sure, let's go!" because she grabbed his hand and pulled him to intermingle in the crowd of people.
Ryoushi stood awkwardly amongst the crowd that moved easily around him, feeling like rock in a smooth-flowing stream. The fast beat of the song currently being blasted from the DJ was fast-paced and lively and his classmates around him moved and spun with zeal and energy.
"Come on, Mornio-kun!" Ringo insisted, lifting his hand up and twirling to make it look as though he had spun her. But before Ryoushi could even begin to feel confused, the song ended a gradually a slower, calmer one came on. Not having been to a school dance before, he was confused when the fast-footed people ebbed to the sides of the room so that only the couples remained, the Otogi Bank's two boy-girl couples among them.
"Ah Akai-san? Doesn't it seem as though we should move now?" the boy wondered nervously, as though they would be tackled for being out of place.
"Not just yet. You need a taste of slow dancing first." She gave him a wink and he it returned with a stare as if she had spoken in another language. "Look." The small girl before him gestured to one side and Ryoushi followed her eyes to where Liszt and Alice were slowly dancing. "They're a little stiff, but they have the motions right. You need to sway with the music." Ringo declared like a dance instructor. "But Urashima-san and Otohime-san have the positions correct."
She then directed Ryoushi's attention to the other more eccentric couple. He would have expected them to be spinning around as they were before, but instead they seemed to have adapted rather well to the atmosphere. Otohime's hand was placed in Urashima's palm as his other hand rested on her waist. Smiles were spread about both their faces and their eyes were locked, but it was not with the usual, fervently intimate stare, but rather a much softer and more loving look. At first it made Ryoushi prickle with jealousy again, but that quickly melted away into a congratulatory sense. Good for you guys. He thought with a smile.
He stood next to Ringo as they both watched their four friends dancing together until the song ended at last. Applause went up from the spectators as there were kisses shared between several the couples; Urashima pecked Otohime quickly on the cheek, but Ryoushi missed any actions from the Otogi Bank's cousins.
Slowly, the songs changed again as the other students began making their ways back to the dance floor. Ringo stole a glance at Ryoushi who was still watching the other couples and chuckled lightly to herself. Remember what you've seen, Morino-kun. She cautioned in her mind before slipping away to leave him.
Maybe I'll stay a little longer. Ryoushi decided; something about the way these people danced had captivated him. He could hardly believe that these were the same classmates he always hung around with at lunch and made jokes with during the middle of classes. They all seemed much more refined now and he wanted to savor the sight of his friends looking so content.
Taking his seat against the wall again, Ryoushi merely sat and watched for a while as new couples entered or left the dance floor. At one point, Otsu invited him to join in on a group dance and he accepted, being pulled into a huge circle thereafter. Once that had ended, he returned to his seat to cool down and glanced at the clock. It was just past 10PM now and the dance officially ended in twenty minutes.
It was obvious that the 3 hours of non-stop dancing were taking their toll on the people around him, for their movements were now much slower, aside from Urashima and Otohime who still somehow managed to spin around like dradles.
Ryoushi finally got to his feet and skirted the room to stand beside the other members of the Otogi Bank. They were murmuring together about something and cut off abruptly as the green-haired boy neared them. He titled his head to one side but dismissed the curiosity from his mind as he reached them.
"I'm thinking of heading home now." He announced. Looks of surprise and dread spread across his friends' expressions and his confusion only grew. "It's getting late and-"
"Oh just wait the last ten minutes." Ringo nudged him with her elbow. "See it through till the end." The rest of the group nodded in agreement and Ryoushi gave a helpless sigh.
"Alright I'll stay." He compensated.
He stood with them as a moment ticked by, and then an announcement came from the DJ that the last 10 minutes of the dance would be slow songs. The more energetic people left the dance area and were replaced by the slow dancers.
Suddenly, there was a loud murmuring as excited chatter broke out at one corner of the room and all the Otogi Bank member's heads turned to look. A group of students had formed about the entrance to the gymnasium and the shocked exclamations grew more prominent. Ringo smirked in triumph beside Ryoushi as the boy strained to see around the various people as to what they were gawking at.
A hush swept over the gathered people and only several murmurs escaped through the silence. As the currently playing song came to an end, a dead silence stretched out for a moment throughout the gym until a person stepped back from the crowd gathered at the entrance. Then another stepped back and another until they were forming almost somewhat of a path.
Ryoushi walked up to the edge of them to peer through the dresses and suits to try and see what exactly they were all looking at. Gasps went up from some of the girls and Ryoushi caught on to what they were saying.
"Is it really?"
Finally, the boy in front of Ryoushi stepped to the side, giving him a clear view of the person who stood before him.
There, down the center of the isle that the gathered students had formed, directly opposite him and only meters away stood the one and only love of his life.
She stood dressed in a long, velvety black dress that reached her ankles to just barely reveal her dainty black shoes. Cuts ran up her dress to her knees on either side and her neck and collarbones were revealed by X-shaped straps that ran around the back of her neck. Long black gloves ran up past her elbows and covered her hands that were clasped coyly before her stomach.
Ryoushi nearly dropped dead at the simply stunning sight of her.
Her beautiful eyes were glued to the floor as she moved slowly forward until she was only a few feet away from him when she halted. Ryoushi's jaw was gaping open, similar to most of the other people around him; all he could manage to do at the moment was stare at her as though he was spellbound by some of Majou's magic, but he knew that this beautiful charm was all natural. He knew he could die a happy man if he could just stare at her for another moment, but he was removed from his fantasies when she slowly lifted her head.
Her long, dusty blonde hair spilled neatly over her shoulders as her beautiful russet irises finally found his emerald ones.
Time froze again as all eyes in the room shifted to the couple. Ryoushi fought to remember how to speak, try to remember what his name was or where he was right now or what he was doing. But he quickly regained as much of his composure as possible and finally managed to find his voice.
"Well?" She cut him off, her cheeks flushing pink. "I showed up for ten minutes just like I promised." A small smirk formed on her lips.
"Y…Yes…" was all he could manage to reply with. He felt like a complete idiot for composing such a lame response, but Ryoushi was quickly spared from his embarrassment as Ringo and the others shuffled over to them.
"Ryouko-chan! You're here!" the red-haired girl squealed in delight as she threw her arms around her roommate's waist. "You were almost late!" She scolded.
"Sorry, sorry." Ryouko smiled. "It was a little hard getting into this on my own."
"You certainly look wonderful!" Otsu exclaimed. "I'm glad the dress matched your tastes."
As the music started up again, the students around them finally began to move apart and break off into their own groups again to mumble conversations, most eyes still constantly flashing over to the notorious Ookami-san.
Urashima and Otohime walked over from the dance floor to greet their friend as well.
"You look great, Ryouko-san!" The aqua-haired girl complimented.
"Good to see you show up." The boy beside her added.
"W-W-W-Wait!" Ryoushi threw his hands up in front of him. "What are you all talking about?" he asked and was met with smirking faces. Blinking in confusion, he turned back to Ryouko. "Why are you here, Ryouko-san? I thought you weren't feeling well. Is it really okay for you to be out of bed? I mean, you did just get released from the hospital."
"Whoa, whoa!" Ryouko took a step back as she was bombarded with questions. "What are you talking about? I'm fine. Didn't you know I was coming?" She ask him, tilting her head with a puzzled expression that reflected his as Ryoushi shook his head. Then, her eyebrows narrowed in annoyance as she turned on the one person she knew to be behind it. "Ringo! What did you tell him?" she demanded.
"Does it matter?" the shorter girl asked innocently. "Isn't this a lot more fun now since neither of you were expecting this?"
"Ringo-" Ryouko growled.
"So you were all in on this?" Ryoushi cried, recalling their hushed conversation from earlier. His only reply were nodding heads and chuckling faces from all the rest of the Bank's members. "I can't believe this." He sighed, unconsciously turning back to look at Ryouko.
"W-Why do you sound so disappointed?" she asked, hurt flaring in her eyes briefly. Ryoushi mentally beat himself for being so thoughtless.
"No, that's not what I meant!" he exclaimed quickly.
In his eagerness, he reached out and grabbed her shoulders and she flinched. She was trembling. Her eyes flickered with surprise and something else that Ryoushi nearly missed but clearly made out; fear.
He hated himself for being so hasty. Do I have no sense at all? He yelled at himself inwardly. He knew that right now, she was not feeling his hands on her shoulders, but someone else's. He did not want this. He did not want her to see Hitsujikai when he touched her, and he needed to make her understand that he would never do such terrible things to her.
He loosened his grip on her bare shoulders and she slowly raised her eyes to his again.
"Ryouko-san." He said gently. "I'm so thrilled that you're here. Ecstatic. I've never been happier in my life and I've never seen anyone look more beautiful." He smiled sincerely. At his words, Ryouko made a small, embarrassed sound and looked down in an attempt to hide her blush from him, but Ryoushi was not going to let himself miss another second of her gorgeous face.
He lifted her chin with his fingers to look back up at him before he let go of her shoulders and offered her his hand. "May I have this dance?" he asked with a slight bow.
Ryouko was speechless for a brief moment, her eyes flickering around to receive nods of encouragement from her companions before she turned back to Ryoushi.
At last, she nodded to him and slid her black-gloved fingers onto his upturned palm.
Murmurs of surprise went up from the watching students as Ryoushi led the infamous delinquent girl to the center of the dance floor.
It was obvious that she was unaccustomed to her current attire, for her once proud and confident stride was now short and shaky. Her ankle twisted and she stumbled forward but Ryoushi caught her immediately. She made a small sound that sounded like a whimper as he helped her regain her balance.
"Are you okay?" he asked worriedly. He realized when he had caught her, his hand had pressed against her newly recovered ribs. That's right. No matter how tough she pretends to be, Ryouko-san is still a girl. I should know that better than anyone. He thought.
"Yes, I'm fine." She gave him a tiny, reassuring grin and he smiled in return.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes." She sighed in mock exasperation. "Do I need to spell it out for you?"
"By all means." He chuckled and she lightly stepped on his foot.
Then, without a sound he moved his hand down her side to rest on her waist. He took her other hand in his again and got them into the same position he had seen Urashima and Otohime in earlier during their slow dance. He recalled everything Ringo has taught him earlier, and now realized that it had been like a practice exam before the test; he intended to pass with flying colors.
Without moving his feet too much, he led Ryouko from side to side in slow, swaying motions. He was so fixed on gazing into her eyes that Ryoushi did not even notice his friends around him until he spotted Liszt and Alice behind Ryouko. Alice bumped her shoulder into Ryouko's back with a little force and sent her stumbling into Ryoushi's arms. The girl in glasses bowed deeply and mouthed to him 'my deepest apologies' before turning back to her cousin. Ryoushi chuckled at how embarrassed Ryouko was after that as she followed his lead.
He did not know how much time was left before the dance ended, but he made sure to burn every sight into his perpetual memory. Ryouko was smiling; that was all he ever wanted to see.
The song came to a close and Ryoushi wrapped up their dance by stretching out his arm and Ryouko caught on quickly as she turned. Ryoushi spun her around swiftly before pulling her back into him, her back pressed against his chest and his arms wrapped around her stomach as she panted a little. The song faded away as a final applause came up from the watching people; extra delighted claps came from Ringo's direction.
"So…" Ryouko turned to face him as he released her from his embrace. "Did you enjoy the Otogi Academy's 11th annual dance?"
"Only the last ten minutes, really." He replied. "Best ten minutes of my life."
"I see." She smiled. "Me…me too." She mumbled, lowering her eyes to the floor again.
"Ryouko?" her heartbeat quickened as he called her without honorifics. "Are you alright?"
"Yes. I think…"
"What do you mean you think?" He asked, worry beginning to creep up his spine.
"It…it's just…" she fumbled for words as she tried to look into his eyes but failed. "I'm sorry."
"What? Why?" he wondered.
"I've got time." He insisted.
Ryouko looked up and gave him a sad smile. "I just can't help it." She murmured. "I just can't stop…seeing him, feeling him, when I should be seeing you." Her voice hitched. Ryoushi gritted his teeth, cursing Hitsujikai with all of his being. "I'm sorry because I know you're trying to help me get over it." She went on. "But after what happened last month…I don't know. I just can't escape him. Even when he's not here, he is. You're trying to be patient with me and everything…but I just can't…" she trailed off with somewhat of a sob.
"It's okay." Ryoushi soothed her gently.
"But I don't know…how long it will take before I'm free of him." The words kept tumbling out of her mouth. "I may never be completely free of him-"
"Shh. It's okay." Ryoushi quieted her by pulling her against him, wrapping his arms around her. Her back seemed so much smaller all of a sudden and he hugged her tightly and protectively, never intending to let her go. "You don't have to say anything, Ryouko. I don't care what I have to do and I don't care how long I have to wait. I'll wait. I'm never going to leave you and I won't let you deal with this by yourself. You're not alone anymore, and you haven't been ever since you came here and made friends with everyone."
He continued to hold her there and Ryouko fought fervently to keep back her tears in front of the entire school.
"I promise," Ryoushi went on. "To help you forget about him." He vowed, placing his hands on her shoulders and gently pushing her back. "You know why?" She looked up to meet his eyes and shook her head the tiniest bit. "It's because I love you, Ryouko." He smiled.
She jumped a little at his words and he felt her heart pounding beneath his palm.
Then, he sealed his promise before the eyes of the entire Otogi Academy.
He kissed her.
Gasps flew up from around the gymnasium as all heads turned to look at them again. Ryouko's eyes were widened in shock and she thought she would collapse. She forgot how to breathe as images of a white-haired man flashed before her eyes and she remembered the first and last time Hitsujikai had kissed her. His lips had been rough and forceful and he had shoved her against a wall before proceeding to pin to the ground and run his hands over every inch of her.
But this…this was so much different. Ryoushi's lips were soft and warm, caring and passionate but not in a hungry way. This kiss was loving and gentle, as if asking her if it was okay and the second he sensed any resistance or discomfort he would move away immediately.
But Ryouko knew that her time in this wonderful situation was limited and so she closed her eyes and did something she had never done with Hitsujikai; she kissed back.
It was very subtle and nervous but she kissed back nonetheless and Ryoushi pulled her in closer by the waist. But he did not want to do more harm than good, so he slowly ended the kiss and pulled away from her, leaving her gasping lightly.
"Ryoushi…" tears began rolling down her cheeks. "I…love you too." She confessed, wrapping her arms around his shoulders.
The world seemed to disappear around them as they embraced again. Ryoushi too felt so elated that he might cry.
"I'm so happy, Ryouko." He whispered into her ear, stroking her soft hair.
"Me too." She agreed, hiccupping. "Me too."
Eons seemed to pass but neither of them minded; the world could have ended countless times over and they never would have broken apart.
"Ryouko," he said softly. "Do you think you can ever forget about him?" he asked.
"Who?" was her reply.
They both smiled lovingly at one another before Ryoushi kissed her quickly one last time.
Finally, they pulled apart, gazing into one another's eyes before making their way back to their friends as the third couple of the Otogi Bank.
A/N: Finished! Thanks a ton to everyone who read all my Ookami-san fics! I appreciate you sticking with me! ^^ Hopefully I'll be writing some more pretty soon!