A tall young man was seated by the campfire, chatting with a blue-eyed brown-haired woman. They were watching a teenage couple from a distance. The couple was embracing, trying to hide from the rest of the group, but there was no place to hide in the open desert. The young man was laughing aloud because of the scene.
"Ha ha ha! What have I told you? I was sure Shun and Lynn would end kissing. They were acting so foolishly in the past few days, as if they had never seen a member of the opposite sex before. Of course it would end in sweet teenager love. Don't you agree?"
"Yes." The girl, seated by his side, embraced her legs shyly and stared blankly at the bonfire. Her companion's direct stare made her feel somewhat uneasy. It seemed to her that his blue eyes were shining more than usual that day. Maybe it was just the fire reflecting in his eyes, but she was touched by the beautiful effect of the light of his blue eyes in contrast with the blackness of the night and it made her feel unusually shy. No, she was not just a silly and dreamy teenager like Lynn. Though she was just a bit older than the other girl was, she had a completely different personality. Despite her angelic blue eyes, she was free-spirited, independent and strong. The girl certainly didn't have patience for silly love games; she liked things clear and direct. However, even being mature and not particularly romantic, she was still a woman who, deep inside, longed for an intimate relationship. So, silly as the scene was, it still had an impact on her spirits.
"Pathetic, isn't it?" The blue-haired man was trying to rearrange his long hair, which had been messed up by a sudden gush of wind. He stared at his beautiful companion with a big smile on his face.
The girl shook her head. "No, Rune, I don't think it is pathetic. It was just expected, coming from two teenagers, with their hormones boiling and living amongst strangers. I would never have the nerve for this silly game of blushing and giggling, No, if I were to be in a relationship, it would be completely different."
"Really? How would it be, Alys?" Rune was suddenly interested in his companion. He rested his chin on his hand and stayed staring at her. Though they had known each other for some months, Rune couldn't remember discussing love and relationships with Alys.
"I don't know..." Alys bit her lower lip hesitantly. "I think I'd look for a more mature relationship. I don't have the stomach for this teenage silliness. I'm usually attracted to older and more experienced men."
"So you are the kind of girl who prefers older guys, eh?" Rune winked at Alys playfully. "I admit I have a taste for more mature girls, too. You know, I'm irresistible to teenage girls, but I'm not interested in them."
Alys rolled her eyes. "Oh yeah, irresistible."
"Alys..." Rune took Alys' hand into his. "You are very mature for your age. I really admire you."
"Really?" Alys blushed. She couldn't deny that Rune was irresistible to her too, but not only because he was good-looking and charming. He was also very mature, he had a great sense of humor that she loved, and, the most important thing, he was very responsible. Most of the hunters of the group were reckless and sometimes Rune acted as a mentor. Thinking back, when she first joined the group, she found it very awkward that Rune was part of the group, as he was no hunter, but an intellectual. Occasionally, Rune would help the group using techniques and magic. At first, Alys shied a bit at his presence, but by knowing him better, she learned that he was a nice young man. He had his flaws, mostly linked to his arrogance, but his qualities outnumbered his flaws. In Alys' eyes, he was fit for a relationship with her, though she had never given much thought to this possibility.
"Yes, Alys, you are. I admire you. Your intelligence and maturity levels are far higher than the intelligence and maturity of the other girls at your age. You are an adult, while the other girls, like Lynn, are just silly teenagers. I love your independent spirit. In fact, I hate those teenagers who act as if they desperately needed someone else to complete their lives. I don't think people should think that way. We are complete by ourselves. We must be strong by ourselves. I have no problems with marriage. Though I don't see myself getting married in the future, it is still a valid experience if two people feel themselves complete and are marrying for a greater goal. I think you are not the marriage kind as well, am I right?"
Alys hesitated a bit. She was not the marriage kind, but thinking it over, she could want it for a distant future. Not now though. As for starting a new relationship, she could see it coming soon. Rune was looking at her exactly the same way her previous boyfriends had looked at her in the past. She had not seen it coming, but that would not be a bad idea. She was trying to mature as a hunter, as she intended to make it her full-time job. She was trying to mature in life, as she was still young, but already living by herself. She didn't really need a relationship, like Shun and Lynn. However, a relationship with Rune would not be bad, given she didn't put high expectations in it. She was young and free, she had the right to have some fun.
Alys was still thinking about an appropriate answer for Rune's question, when she noticed Rune leaning dangerously towards her. She knew what he meant. The girl had already faced that kind of situation many times and she knew that she had less than five seconds to decide whether it would be a good idea or not. She could try to weigh the pros and the cons of accepting or rejecting the impending kiss, but she just shut off her mind and let her instincts rule the situation. Alys closed her beautiful blue eyes and waited. She felt the proximity of Rune's face and soon she was feeling the expected pressure on her lips. Her heart started beating faster as Rune's tongue tried to explore her mouth. She let his tongue inside her mouth and answered with her own tongue, shyly exploring her companion's mouth.
The kiss didn't last for long because, despite Alys' positive reaction, Rune was not sure she had really accepted his advance, so he didn't enlace her body in his arms. As Rune pulled his lips away, breaking the kiss, he smiled at Alys. Alys did not reciprocate the smile; she was still unsure about her own feelings. She needed some time to think about the relationship. But the kiss had been so pleasurable that she decided to think about that later. She reasoned that she should do what she felt like at the present and forget the future. She would have lots of time to think about the future later and it would not be wise to spend the opportunity thinking about the future while she could be spending the time kissing the hot, handsome esper.
Alys had already made up her mind, but her countenance didn't give any hints to her decision. Rune frowned at her lack of reaction. "What is it, Alys? Didn't you like it?"
"Of course I didn't."
Alys pretended to be angry to play a trick on Rune, but her humor was lost on him, so he became worried. Carefully measuring his words, he tried to reason with Alys.
"Why not, Alys? It was a friendly kiss, to show you how much affection and respect I have for you." Rune was clearly embarrassed.
Alys had a seductive grin on her face as she answered. "Exactly, because it was just a friendly kiss. And also because it didn't last enough, you silly boy." Alys took the initiative and kissed Rune when he was not expecting it. This time, however, it was a long and passionate kiss, in a tight embrace, body exploration included. And they kissed again. And again. And again. Soon they were kissing like the other couple had done minutes before. Only, this time, no one considered it pathetic. At least Rune didn't. Technically, it was as pathetic as Shun and Lynn's kisses, but both Alys and Rune could not guess that those kisses were just the beginning of a long story of ups and downs, pleasures and pains, happiness and sorrow. And they didn't care. They just wanted to live in the present. And the present was magic.