A/N: Written for a prompt on the Kink-Meme. Please keep in mind while reading that English is not my first language and that I have no beta reader.
She burned with a fire she hadn't suspected existed inside her. All her body yearns for this person, probably the only person in the whole she can't have. She watches him from afar, her heart breaking a little more with each stolen glances. Soon, she feels, her whole heart would have turned into dust, leaving her as cold as the element she controls. Deep down inside, she can almost convince herself that she is being foolish, that she is acting like the teenage girl she tries not to be. But at her age, the matters of the heart seem more important than the matters of the brain. So, she watches, silent, amber eyes staring at these broad shoulders, this straight back, this dazzling smile, those shining eyes. Her body hungers for touches from those strong hands, her lips tingle with the need to be kissed. And while she's watching his every move, she doesn't realize that she's being watched the same way by sad blue eyes. And if she had somehow noticed, would have she cared? Could she put aside her own feelings to care about someone else's feelings? Her teenage heart is too selfish, wrapped as it is in its own desire. Disgusted by how the object of her affection's attention is directed to that wretched pretty-faced boy, she bolts.
Karina sighed for the hundredth time this past hour. Sitting at her desk in her room, her eyes couldn't seem to focus on her homework. She stared outside through her window at the darkening sky. It had turned a pretty pink color with the clouds a dark purple, almost black. A few stars had already appeared here and there, doting the beautiful canvas. She sighed again. This setting reminded her of the dream she had last night. In this wonderful world her sleeping mind had created, she had been walking hand in hand with Kotetsu near a beautiful river while he was telling her how he loved her. The memory of her dream made her blush as she shook her head. No, if she started to daydream again she would never stop and she still had a pile of homework to go through. Grabbing her favorite pen, the young woman bend her head toward her notebook. Okay so she had to figure out what 'x' stood for in this equation.
For a short moment, the complexity of her math homework absorbed her so much that all her romantic thoughts about Wild Tiger stopped. She punched in a few numbers in her calculator, then grinned broadly when she realized she had managed to solve the hardest equation before noting the answer with a flourish. Voilà. She closed this notebook to take the other one on the pile. History. She grimaced at the thought of learning all those useless meaningless dates. History wasn't her forte at all so she needed to study harder tonight. There was an important test tomorrow and her parents would be disappointed if she failed this one too.
Two boring pages later on the history of the first NEXTs ever found -as if she didn't know this story already-, Karina found herself yawning with boredom. Looking at her wrist, she almost wished for her PDA to start glowing, announcing her help as a Hero was needed. It had been silent for the last two days, much to her annoyance. Not that she liked to put her life at risk, not at all, but fighting crimes was one of the only excuse she could use to see Kotetsu. Of course, she could see him at the training center, but she rarely went there anymore. She couldn't stand the sight of him standing so close to this Barnaby. It was so obvious to anyone with eyes to see that the old man was falling in love with his younger partner. This whole idea made Karina want to throw up. Of course, yes, Barnaby was kind of handsome and cool, but wasn't she pretty and cool too? Why couldn't Kotetsu see that? Why all males fell in love with her, except him? This was kind of ironic.
Karina realized with a start that Wild Tiger would simply never love her. This realization arrived so suddenly that she dropped her pen in her surprise. It fell tip first on her notebook, leaving a blue smudge of ink. Everything seemed so clear, too clear. Kotetsu would never love her, not only because he appeared to love someone else, but also because of who he was. He still wore the ring from his wife after five years. He was an idealistic old man. He saw Karina as a mere child, maybe like his young sister or even his own daughter. He'd never go for someone who wasn't an adult, someone who still slept with stuffed animals.
Face burning, eyes watering, Karina rose so fast that her chair fell over in a startling clang of wood. The water bottle that had been standing on her desk toppled over the books and notebooks. Her room, the place that had been her sanctuary her whole life, now appeared too hot, too stuffy. She couldn't breathe. She needed fresh air.
Without bothering with a jacket, the young woman left the house in a hurry, startling her parents.
Half blinded by tears and pain, Blue Rose ran, not bothering to look where her feet took her. She heard passers-by yell at her, but she didn't bother to answer. She knew that if she unclenched her teeth, a scream would escape her throat. Fists clenched, she ran until her chest burned and her legs couldn't carry her any further. Panting, she leaned against a lamp post, trying the catch her breath. The cool metal underneath the burning palm of her hand grounded her a little bit. She finally became aware of her surroundings. The buildings all around her were familiar. Her feet had carried her to the training center where all the Heroes gathered. Relief flooded her, as for a second she had been sure she had ran to an unknown neighborhood.
Karina stood there for a moment, the yellow light from the lamp post shining on her dark blond hair. What to do now? She didn't want to go back yet, knowing that her parents would ask her to explain her behavior. Could she really tell her parents that she felt like dying because the man she loved didn't love her back? She wasn't close enough to her mother to talk about this kind of things with her, and her father would probably want to wring Kotetsu's neck; he was so protective. Maybe she could train for an hour or two, try to sweat out her feelings or at least tire herself enough to stop thinking.
''Is everything alright?'' The voice startled her. She spun on her heels, ready to run or fight. She didn't know who she had expected to stand there, but certainly not Keith Goodman, Sky High, the King of Heroes, a worried frown on his face. Opening her mouth, she was about to ask him what in bloody hell he was doing there when she noticed the yellow dog sitting by his feet. It was a big Golden Retriever with soft black eyes and a long tongue. It panted as it waited for its master's orders, its tail twitching slightly.
Karina closed her mouth. Keith was still looking at her quizzically, worry apparent in his dark blue eyes. ''I'm fine,'' she answered tartly, crossing her arms over her chest. The night air was getting chilly, making her regret not to have taken a jacket.
''You're shivering,'' the man said. Karina wanted to snap back with something like 'no shit, genius', but the lack of mockery in his tone made her hold back her tongue. She sighed, then nodded. No need in trying to hide to obvious. Keith was a bit oblivious, but he probably had noticed the goose bumps on her naked arms. He looked at her for a second, as if trying to think of something. His face suddenly brightened as he smiled. He let go of the leash he had been holding -his dog merely looked up at him without even moving- and took off his blue jacket. Before she had time to protest, the fabric was thrown around her shoulders. It was still warm and Karina stopped shivering almost at once. Keith looked pretty pleased with himself. The young woman wondered if the man was always this chivalrous with all the ladies he met. He is good-looking, she thought while looking at him out the corner of her eye. I bet all the women are at his feet. Like all men were at her own feet. Well, not all men. With a sigh, she was reminded of her presence here. Right, she had tried to outrun her feelings for Kotetsu. It had worked until Keith arrived.
Something like rage started to rise within her. Why the hell didn't Kotetsu want her? Wasn't she pretty enough? Smart enough? Good enough? Old enough? I might be seventeen, but I'm not a child anymore! I'll show him! If I were a kid, I wouldn't do this!
Hugging the jacket close to her slim body, Karina smiled charmingly up at Keith while fluttering her thick eyelashes. The man looked taken aback for a second. ''I'm still quite cold,'' she announced in a not-quite whiny voice. ''Would you mind stepping inside for a moment with me?''
Happy to finally do something beside standing there, Keith nodded, still smiling. Heart thumping in her chest, the young woman crossed the street before opening the glass door leading to the training building of the Heroes. It was never closed no matter the hour, but at this moment, it seemed unlikely that anyone beside themselves would be using the facility. Since animals weren't allowed inside, Keith tied the leash of his dog to a bicycle rack near the door. The dog sat obediently then watched its master walked inside the building.
In the lobby, Blue Rose was chatting with the guard on duty. The man nodded to Keith then left to go back to his office. Karina glanced at the blond Hero and before he had the chance to say something, she climbed the stairs quickly. Puzzled, Keith shrugged then followed her.
He had only one foot on the second landing when Karina threw herself in his arms. Reflexes kicking in, he caught her easily. Her long-nailed fingers grasped the front of his shirt. He opened his mouth to ask her if she were alright, but no word managed to get out. Warm yet hard lips were forcefully pushed against his own. Was she... kissing him? His brain had a hard time understanding what was going on. Gently, he tried to push her away, but she gripped his hands to crush them against her breasts. Keith gasped in surprise, his cheeks turning red. ''W-what are you...'' he stammered, mortified and awfully embarrassed.
The glare she sent him was enough to shut him up. Still not speaking, she grabbed him by the arm, long nails leaving scratches on his bicep, to pull him further down the corridor. Confused, all he could do was follow her. She opened the first door to their left before pushing him inside. He stumbled over something lying on the floor, but when the door banged shut, there wasn't enough light left for him to see the object. He didn't have more time to ponder on that, though. As soon as the door was closed, he found himself with his hands full of Karina. She stood on her tiptoes, hands in his hair, her lips on his own in a parody of a kiss. She thrust her tongue into his mouth, forcing his lips open. He lost it at this moment. No matter how much he tried to control himself, this soft body grinding against his was just too much. He kissed her back, albeit a bit less violently. She didn't seem surprised though, and he should have guessed it. Karina was a smart girl after all, so she had probably realized he had feelings for her.
The small storeroom rapidly heated up with their passionate kisses. Keith's jacket had fallen from Karina's shoulders a long time ago, lying somewhere on the dirty floor. Breath halting, Karina's hands found their way to her partner's belt. Fumbling, the trembling fingers managed to undo the buckle. All the while, Karina kept chanting in her head that she was doing this to prove Kotetsu wrong; she could be a real grown-up woman. It didn't matter that she would lose her virginity with a man she didn't love. There could be worse people than Sky High, anyway. But why the hell were her fingers shaking so much?
Warm hands clasped her own. Surprised, she looked up. Even though she could barely see in the darkness, she could almost feel Keith's soft eyes on her. Condescending, as if she were just a kid who didn't know what it was doing. This thought enraged her. She tore her hands free before pushing Keith against the wall. She knew that he was about to change his mind. He was too soft-hearted; he would second guess what they were doing and probably stop. She sensed his hesitation in his touch, even as he took off her shirt. Her face burned, yet she didn't want to stop. Her body was responding to his touches. She wanted more, so much that she even forgot why they were in the first place.
It hurt. Of course, it hurt. She knew it would hurt, even though Keith tried his best to be gentle. Despite the pain, she couldn't stop herself from being slightly annoyed about his caring. She still felt like she was being babied, although she didn't dare say that out-loud. She winced and clenched her teeth. One of her friends had told her that it hurt so much that she had screamed at her first time. Karina scoffed mentally. All thoughts of her friends were easily forgotten though. The pain rapidly vanished to be replaced by a building pleasure. This time, she couldn't keep her mouth shut. She gasped, whined then ordered Keith not to stop. He simply obeyed, not minding that his back was being scratched by long nails.
They were finished in a matter of minutes. They laid, panting, for a few seconds, before Karina got her senses back. Without a word, she pushed Keith back. Her hands scrambled on the floor to find her clothes, which she put on rapidly. She started to feel, well, weird. Her face still burned, but she didn't think it was because of the initial shyness. It felt something like.. shame? Oh god, was she actually ashamed of what she had done? N-no, she had done nothing wrong. Fingers clammy, she had a hard time buttoning-up her shirt.
''Karina...'' The young woman jumped; she had nearly forgotten that she wasn't alone in this closet. Keith's voice was soft, almost soothing. For a second, Karina wanted to forget the whole mess with Kotetsu to simply lie in the King of Heroes' strong arms. This idea was rapidly pushed away though. She didn't care about Keith. She loved Kotetsu and no one else. Without another word, she left the small storeroom, closing the door behind her with a final bang.
The next morning, Karina couldn't get up when her alarm clock rang. Feeling groggy and weak, she had managed to convince her mother to call the principal of her school to let him know that she'd be absent. It probably meant that she'd get a zero for her history exam, but she couldn't bring herself to care. Buried deep underneath her bedsheets, she tried not to think about last night. Of course, by trying to push this memory away, it came back in a rush. She relived each scene thousand of times, feeling more ashamed each time of her behavior. What had taken her? She had ruined her first time with someone she barely knew! Her first time that should have been for Kotetsu... Would he want a girl who slept around just to get what she wanted? Shaking her head slowly, Karina decided that Tiger would never know what had happened between her and Keith. There was almost no chance, she was sure, that Sky High would boast about that. So this shameful episode would stay between the two of them and never be mentioned again.
Somehow, though, this idea didn't make her feel up at her ceiling, she wondered if maybe it would be better if she talked to Keith about why she had acted like that. The poor man needed to know. She had, after all, used him. He had resisted longer than she had expected. Not because he hadn't wanted her, but because he had known she wasn't being honest. Maybe Keith was smarter than he looked...
All through morning, she dozed off at intervals, awakening at the smallest noise. One second she was hot, the other shivering incontrollably. Her mother, worried, suggested to her daughter that it would maybe be a good idea to go to the hospital. Karina had protested vehemently, afraid that a doctor might guess what she had done the previous night and tell her mother. The older woman, still looking worried, simply shrugged her shoulders before leaving the dark room.
Once again alone, Karina shifted on the bed to rest on her side. She no longer felt tired. In fact, her body thrummed with energy. She wanted to go out for a run, but knew her mother wouldn't let her. The idea of working on her homework tickled her mind, but was soon forgotten when a reddish light appeared from her bedside table. She stared at it for a second, confused. Realizing that it was her PDA, she rose herself on one elbow to grab the glowing device. Touching the screen with one finger, the red light faded to be replaced by a glowing blueish name. Keith Goodman. Karina's blood turned into ice.
''Karina? Can you hear me? Listen, do you think-?''
She cut short the conversation by hanging up. Shaking, she stared at the PDA resting in her clammy hands. Why the hell did he call her? She didn't want to talk to him! Falling back against her pillows, she clenched the plastic device in her fingers, almost hoping to break it. I don't want to talk to him... she kept repeating in her head. What happened was a mistake. How can he not see that?
The next few weeks passed in a blur for Karina. She did everything in a mechanical way, trying not to think. Sometimes, when her mind managed to surface from the fog, it told her that she was overreacting and that avoiding the problem at hand wouldn't solve anything. In fact, it only made the problem worse. Keith, being the gentleman that he was, felt responsible for what happened. He hadn't said so out lout, but even someone blind would have noticed. He tried his best to get closer and closer to Karina without being invasive. Each time they walked by, he would smile to her, hold the door for her, help her with her gym bag, anything. It would have been sweet if Karina hadn't wanted never to see him again. Through the fog, she became aware of something else too; guilt. She realized she felt guilty for what had happened maybe two weeks after that fateful night. She had yelled at Keith in front of the other Heroes for no apparent reason. He hadn't even talked to her. He had been sitting on a bench, tying his shoelaces, and she had snapped. Fire Emblem had to literally drag her away so she could calm down. While trying not to start crying, she had realized that she was not angry at Keith; that it had simply been her guilt talking. In fact, if she had to be angry with someone, it should be with herself. Nobody had forced her to do what she had done. She couldn't even say it was Kotetsu's fault for not liking her. The only one to blame was her.
She decided to simply ignore Keith until she built up enough courage to talk to him. At the moment, though, things had been too hectic around her. With the terrorist threat of blowing up the pillars supporting the city, Karina had to put on the side her personal problems. She simply wished this event had happened at another time, though.
Lately, she had been awfully tired, having hardly enough energy to get up in the morning. Once she was up, she couldn't stand the sight of food, almost always throwing up when she saw her breakfast on the table. This resulted in feeling even weaker, until later in the day she craved for chocolate or potato chips. Eating all this junk food took its toll on her, though. Her Hero costume no longer fit her. It had felt tight around her middle for a while, but now she couldn't even zip it up. Her boss had it altered by a dressmaker two weeks ago, and now, once again, it felt too tight around her middle. This frustrated her, and she swore to train harder and stop eating junk food.
The tension inside the waiting room was killing her. All seven Heroes sat in front of the large television screen, watching their King fight that crazy terrorist Jake. Hardly breathing, Karina leaned forward as if hoping to see better. She felt faint, and she wasn't sure if it were only due to the lack of food inside her belly. Fists clenched into tight balls, she swallowed back a gasp as Sky High's attack was once again rendered null by this strange power Jake used. The ex prisoner seemed to be having the time of his life, snapping his nail-bitten fingers to attack the King of Heroes. He got to his feet painfully to attack Jake with his wind. Dust rose in the air, obscuring the screen. Karina and the other Heroes tensed even more. Did it work? As the dirt fell back to the ground though, they all saw that Jake still stood on his feet, huge grin splitting in face. Lying on the ground, Sky High stood motionless. Karina's hand flew to her mouth. Bile rose to her throat and she stood up. She glanced at the door, wondering if she should run to the bathroom. No, the match didn't seem over. Sky High just attacked Jake. Karina swallowed hard. This attack didn't affect the ex prisoner. Grin still firmly in place, he snapped his fingers one final time. Sky High's body flew backward, hitting the bleachers with full force. Dust rose once again, but everybody knew that the King of Heroes wouldn't rise up this time.
Silence reigned for nearly a minute. All Heroes were staring at the screen, flabbergasted by this turn of events. If their King hadn't been able to defeat such a foe, who could? As the camera fixed itself on Sky High's body chained to the huge statue, Karina couldn't stand it any longer. She ran out of the room and reached the bathroom just in time to vomit in the nearest toilet.
In the end, Sky High hadn't been wounded too badly. Both of his shoulders had been dislocated -but no muscles strained-, he had numerous scratches and cuts plus some broken ribs. Karina sighed in relief when the doctor told her the diagnosis. Her imagination had made everything seemed worse, and for a moment, she had been sure Keith wouldn't survive. As the doctor left the small waiting room, Karina grew nervous. She was on her own for the moment in the ICU, waiting to see if she'd have enough courage to walk into Keith's room. Fidgeting, she sat heavily on one of the leather chair. Five minutes. Five minutes to gather her thoughts, then she'd go in to see him.
Four minutes had passed when she heard footsteps in the corridor. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a couple walking by. The man was smiling brightly, holding his wife around the shoulders. The woman's belly was huge and distended, making it hard for her to walk. As soon as she saw her, Karina understood everything. She hadn't been feeling weak because she had been sick but because she was pregnant. This realization dawned on her. She received it with more calm than she had expected. Maybe, all along, some part of her had already figured it out. There was, of course, no question as whom was the father. Since her night with Keith, she hadn't even come close to be with another man.
Her five-minute respite was over. Feeling strangely calm, Karina rose to her feet. Slowly with assurance, she walked to the room where the father of her unborn child rested. She knocked softly before opening the door. Keith wasn't asleep like she had expected. He sat up as soon as she walked in.
''Lay back,'' she ordered, noticing his wince of pain. Almost as if he had been expecting her to say that, he obeyed. Biting her lower lip, Karina sat on the plastic chair beside the bed.
''What happened while I was sleeping?'' Keith asked, worry evident in his voice.
''Rock Bison was next to fight Jake,'' Karina explained. ''I haven't seen the ending of the match, but I'm pretty sure that he got beaten.''
''If you can't beat him, nobody can.'' The words came out of their own accord. Karina winced slightly at the surprised look she received.
Keith gratefully didn't say anything to that, though. He laid his head back, closing his eyes in pain. His face was unusually pale, his whole body tensed, his hair a dull color on the white pillow. Worry gnawed at Karina even if the doctor had said the King of Heroes would be alright. Acting by impulse, she took his clammy right hand in hers. He relaxed slightly, but his eyes stayed closed. They didn't talk for a long moment, the silence disturbed only by the beeping of the machines on the other side of the bed. Karina wondered if Keith had fallen asleep and, if he had, if she should leave. Maybe her name would be drawn next and she'd have to fight this psycho. She gulped. Maybe she'd get killed.
''Keith?'' she whispered, gently shaking the man. He opened his eyes immediately. Karina swallowed hard. She had to tell him.
Their eyes locked, amber and dark blue. Her resolve strengthen. She gripped his hand tighter to anchor herself. Very slowly, her eyes never leaving his, she said: ''I'm pregnant.''
His eyebrows rose, but he didn't appeared very surprised. He squeezed her small hand back, minding his strength not to hurt her. ''I know. I was just wondering when you'd realize it.''
Karina's eyes widened. Had she not been overwhelmed by emotion, she would have realized that relief flooded her. ''Y-you knew?'' She exclaimed, her voice booming loudly in the silent room. He smiled, a genuine smile of happiness that she hadn't seen on his face for quite a long time.
''Of course,'' Keith answered, still smiling. ''You grew more beautiful each day so I kind of guessed.''
Heat flooded Karina's cheeks. She hid her burning face behind her hands, wanting the floor to swallow her. Being complimented was nothing new to her, but Keith looked so sincere that it hit her. She felt pleased, of course, so why were there tears sliding down her cheeks? Embarrassed, half laughing and half crying, she wiped them away. Gently but firmly, Keith grabbed her hand. Despite the pain that this movement might have caused, he wiped her face gently with the fingers of his free hand. She leaned into the touch.
''What am I going to do...?'' Karina whispered, new tears threatening to fall.
''Keep it. I'll marry you if that's what it takes.''
''Oh, don't be ridiculous...'' She muttered to hide her surprise.
''I'm the King of Heroes and you're the Queen. Aren't we meant to be?''
This time, the tears that fell from her eyes were tears of happiness. Not bothering with hiding them, she smiled a watery smile. ''That's probably the worse proposal a woman could dream of.'' She took a deep breath. ''But a woman would be very stupid to refuse.''