Disclaimer: All recognizable characters belong to Tachibana Higuchi. This story is mine.

Author's Note: Usually I write a message about how I'm glad you guys stuck with me until the end of the road, but considering I finished this in eight days, I suppose it wasn't a very long road. Despite that, I appreciate every single review I've gotten for this story. I admire all of those who stuck with this despite the cliche and despite being an unorthodox pairing in GA. I love all of the kind words and the funny reactions like the different emoticons I received from pwenie most of all. I adore the assumptions and truthfully, you guys remind me why I've been writing on GAFFN for so long. So as my last new chaptered story, I want to thank all of you readers and reviewers for taking the time to read the words stuck in my throat. I hope you enjoyed reading just as much as I enjoyed writing (:

House of Cards
Chapter 10: All Bets are Off


There are days he reflects on his life and wonders if he's had a good run.

This is where he finds himself when there are two knocks on the door. It's late, or early, and after finding the perfect nook in his couch, he wonders if getting the door is worth it. It's probably a drunken girl at the wrong door again.

There's silence for a long stretch of time and just when he begins to think he made the right choice, there are two more, succinct too perfect knocks and it makes him sit up curiously.

When the curiosity gets the best of him, he stands up and opens it.

"You're not a drunk girl."

And there she is, exactly as he left her, without a hair out of place.

He doesn't expect it in the least.

"Tonouchi." She lifts her chin up almost haughtily. "How are you?"

He laughs, half-surprised and half-confused to all hell. What is she doing here? The last he'd heard, she was across the continent.

Baffled, he rubs his neck. "Uh, good? Not that I'm complaining about having a beautiful girl at my door, but what the hell are you doing here, Shizune?"

She purses her lips and does something very close to hand-wringing for Shizune Yamanouchi before she says, in that business-like, proper way of hers: "Hajime told me you found a girl you like." Her voice is controlled and half-sincere. "Congratulations."

Those words immediately trigger the 'women-don't-mean-what-they-say-when' part of his brain and he straightens instinctively. He doesn't mean to stare, but Shizune Yamanouchi has purposefully sought him out and damn, despite the year, she looks familiar and still goddamn sexy.

He tries, far harder than he should, to put the thought out of his mind to focus on the mind-boggling fact that she was here. Here.

"Shizune," the hope is forced down his throat, "—why are you really here?"

She looks down before he sees her bite the inside of her cheek.

It shouldn't have looked so cute.

She's stone-faced the next moment he blinks and looks ready to leave, and because he knows her, knows how difficult this must have been, he steps away from the doorway to make room for her to come in.

She looks like she's about to refuse until he takes the arm lying uselessly at her side and tugs her gently towards him. "It's two o'clock in the morning and you're wandering around Tokyo because you happened to be in the area?"

He looks down at her and all of his thoughts fly out of the window except one, just one.

He kisses her, then, like he should have whenever the thought came to his mind. It's just a brush of lips, a hello of sorts, but one that he wants to give her everyday. "I did find a girl I like," a chuckle escapes him. "It'll always be you."

This close, Tono finally sees the response he's been waiting for.

…and the rest is still unwritten…

My Hopeless Romantic

Completed: December 10, 2011