Hello world! This is my first One-shot, as well as my first story in this series. To those of you who don't already know, my story portfolio at present also includes 1 Sekirei story, 2 To-Love Ru stories, and 1 Bleach story. If any of these series are to your liking, please browse them at your leisure.

As stated in the summary, this is a Kenichi x Shigure story. The story idea was a Christmas gift to me from my co-writer, Grimlock King of Stories, who specializes in crossovers, and has a few hundred reviews in his best story, so you just know that he's an awesome writer. His profile is in my favorite author section for anyone interested.

We begin our story in early December, during a regular day at Ryozanpaku Dojo...

In other words, a lot of cries of fear and pain can be heard coming from within the walls.

"AHHHHH!" Screamed Kenichi as he ran in Akisame's power generator/running machine/torture device/giant hamster wheel. "Akisame-sensei! How much longer do I have to run in this thing?-! And is the spiked wall behind me really necessary?-!"

"Just a few more minutes and you'll be done with training for the day." Answered Akisame while he observed the power stored in the machine's battery. "We need more power if we want to skip our electric bill this month. And don't worry. As long as you don't stop running until the timer runs out, the spikes will retract on their own."

"You worry too much Ken-chan." Remarked Kensei, who was reading a porno while practicing with a wooden dummy. "You should really show some holiday spirit. Christmas is coming up soon, you know."

"Apa! What's that?" Asked Apachai while he used a bowling ball as a hacky sack.

"Oh! That's right." Realized Sakaki, who was guzzling some beer. "You're from the slums in Thailand, so you've probably never heard of it. Come to think of it, why hasn't anybody here explained it to him before now? It's not like this is his first year here."

"I guess we've just never had much reason to celebrate it before." Hummed the Elder, who was playing, and losing, a game of Go against Honoka. "Aside from Miu and Kenichi, everyone living here are grown warriors who've lived our lives by fighting. Darn it! Why did you have to do that?-!" He panicked as he saw Honoka had just won several of his stones.

"Because you're not very good at this." Smirked Honoka at a pouting Elder as she picked up the stones she'd just won and placed them in her already large pile of stones. "But still... I can't help but find it weird that someone with as much energy and youthfulness as Apachai wouldn't know what Christmas is."

"Youthfulness?" Parroted Sakaki curiously. "That's a pretty strange word for a little kid to say."

"Honoka's wise beyond her years." Panted Kenichi, who was currently panting on the floor, glad to be off Akisame's contraption. "But she's got a point. Why doesn't Apachai know about it? There's always decorations up in all the stores around this time of year. Haven't you been the least bit curious about all of that?"

"I've been... curious." Said Shigure, walking on the ceiling right over Kenichi's head.

"Gah!" Panicked Kenichi. "Don't sneak up on me like that!"

"You don't know what Christmas is either Shigure?" Asked Miu, who was consoling her grandfather, who was moping over his devastating loss to Honoka. "Why didn't you ask if you were curious about it?"

"I thought that it... didn't matter." Answered Shigure as she dropped from the ceiling, Kenichi's head right under her legs, giving the unwilling young man a good view of her underwear.

"Lucky." Grumbled Kensei enviously as Kenichi scrambled away like a crab and Miu looked mad.

"Well, I guess it doesn't matter as much here as it does in the western part of the world." Explained Akisame. "It did originally start as a Christian holiday several hundred years ago, after all. Relatively speaking, Japan as a nation has only recently taken to celebrating it, and even then, most who do either don't do it for the reasons it originated for, or have never even heard of what its' origins were in the first place."

"I remember my time in America." Recalled Sakaki as he chopped the top off of another beer. "They served some pretty good drinks around that time of year. I tell ya, that eggnog stuff was good."

Shigure, growing more and more curious by the second, felt the need to press the question. "What is... Christmas?"

"Don't look at me," Shrugged Kensei as he subtly pulled out a camera and aimed it at Shigure. "I'm from China. Even with our larger population, it's even less celebrated there than it is here."

Taking pause to throw a few shuriken at Kensei, who quickly dodged them - though she heard the mildly satisfying sound of glass cracking and Kensei whining - Shigure directed her question at Akisame. "What is... it?"

"Well, as I said before, it has quite a long history behind it." Answered Akisame as he brushed his mustache thoughtfully. "However, I can't honestly say that I know all that much about it." Hearing several gasps, Akisame looked around to see everyone has wide eyes and gaping mouths. "What? Was it something I said?"

"There's... something that you don't know about?" Asked Kenichi, as if he weren't sure this was really happening.

"And it's something as widespread as Christmas?" Added Honoka, equally shocked.

"Are you feeling okay, Akisame?" Asked Kensei as he put a hand to the man's forehead. "Maybe you should see a doctor."

"Apa. Maybe Akisame just learned so much stuff that it was forced out." Suggested Apachai.

"That sounds a lot more likely than anything else." Nodded Sakaki in agreement. "I mean, I have a hard time imagining that there could really be something you of all people don't know."

"Hmph!" Huffed Akisame irritably. "Really now, does everyone see me as some kind of walking encyclopedia?" Everyone except Miu and Hayato immediately nodded. "Well I'm not. I know that I'm quite knowledgeable about the world, but even I can't know everything."

"So there's really something you don't know about, after all." Said Kensei curiously.

"Never though I'd see the day." Remarked Sakaki with a shake of his head.

"Apa. Akisame isn't so great after all." Said Apachai as he sat down with Honoka for a game of Go.

Growing more irritated with each remark, Akisame had finally reached his limit. "I don't see what the big deal is. You could all stand to take a lesson from Miu and the Elder. They haven't made one remark about this at all."

"I'm sorry. Did you say something, Akisame?" Asked the Elder, shaking the cobwebs from his head. "I spaced out after you said that there was something you didn't know about."

Finally having had enough of everybody making light of him, Akisame opted to simply leave. "Honestly! People can have such nerve. I'm off to work on my Buddha carvings." He mumbled as he shut the sliding door behind him.

"What is... Christmas?" Asked Shigure once more, her patience actually beginning to wear thin.

"I'm pretty sure that I have a book on it in my room." Grunted Kenichi as he managed to pry himself off the floor. "If you and Apachai are really so curious, I'll see if it has anything that can answer your questions."

"Let me guess," Began Honoka as she placed a stone on the Go board. "It's one of your, 'How To' books. Oh, that was a good move Apachai." She added as her attention was drawn back to her game.

"Apa. Thanks Honoka. Apachai's been practicing." Said Apachai enthusiastically. "Sorry Kenichi. Maybe later."

"So what if it is?" Grumbled Kenichi indignantly at his sister's remark. "I happen to like reading 'How To' books."

"Probably because he can't do anything without someone else telling him what to do." Laughed Sakaki, causing a tic mark to appear on Kenichi's head.

"That might explain why he didn't run away from Ryozanpaku within the first week." Commented Kensei, causing another tic mark to appear on Kenichi's head. "Although there might be some other reasons as well." He said lecherously as he groped Miu's breasts from behind.

"KYAAAA!" Screeched Miu as she tried to hit Kensei in retaliation, only for him to effortlessly dodge every blow. "Kensei, you pervert!" In hindsight, Miu really should have known better than to think she could actually ever stop him. Kensei was, after all, at Master Class, while she still had a long way to go before she could even begin to compare to him.

"I want to... know." Remarked Shigure as she grabbed Kenichi, and despite his protests, jumped up to the rafters.

"Shigure! Why did you bring me up here?-!" Panicked Kenichi as he struggled to not fall.

"I'm more... comfortable... up here." Shigure explained as she crawled on the beams towards Kenichi's room, unknowingly giving Kenichi a very good shot of her butt in motion. "And you can't... walk on the ceiling... yet."

Covering his eyes with his hand while struggling - and failing - to not peek at Shigure's lower half, Kenichi inched forward slowly. "What do you mean that I can't do it yet?" He asked nervously.

"I could teach you." Began Shigure as they made their way to Kenichi's room. "If you... want."

Taking a few moments to contemplate the idea, Kenichi quickly shook his head. "No thanks! I'm good!" He denied hurriedly. 'If I say yes, my masters will just make training that much harder.'

"Very... well." Accepted Shigure as she pushed aside a panel. "Here we... are."

Invisible question marks appearing above his head, Kenichi found himself suddenly stricken with curiosity. "Hey, Shigure?" He began as they both crawled through the hole to his room. "Why do you seem to know your way around the rafters so well?"

Turning to him with a look that subtly said it should be obvious, she answered, "The rafters are... laid out just like... the floor." She explained, making Kenichi feel stupid for even asking. "Plus I... come to you room... all the... time." She finished before dropping gracefully to the floor.

"What?-!" Panicked Kenichi, causing him to lose his grip and land awkwardly on the floor with a painful sounding thud. "What do you mean you come to my room all the time?-!" He demanded as he rubbed a new sore spot on his head. If Shigure had been making a habit of invading his privacy for who knows how long, Miu might get the wrong idea if she found out. Provided of course that whatever conclusion she came to was actually wrong.

"I come here... to read." Shigure explained.

"To... read?" Parroted Kenichi, not sure if his hearing was working properly.

Pointing to his bookshelf, she explained, "You have... a lot of good books... I come here... to learn about new things."

"That's why?" Asked Kenichi as he got back on his feet. "I thought I was missing a few books. So that's where they went to. But why are you interested in them?"

"I never had... a formal... education." Shigure answered as she pulled out a few books Kenichi had been missing, seemingly from nowhere. One of which was a textbook he'd lost months ago, and he'd had to pay for a new one at school. "I wanted to learn... more about the... world... Are you... upset?"

"Well..." Began Kenichi as he thought about it. "If you're asking if I'm upset that you took my books without my permission, then yes, I am a bit angry about that." Noticing the slightly downcast expression on Shigure's face, Kenichi quickly amended his statement. "But if you're asking if I'm upset that you're interested in my hobbies and schoolwork, I'm not upset at all."

Zigzag eyebrows raised slightly, her expression taking a slight turn for the better, Shigure asked, "You're... okay with me... reading your books?"

"Of course!" Said Kenichi cheerfully. "I mean, I've never really come across someone with as much passion for reading as I have, let alone for the same kind of books, so I'm actually kind of flattered. Just make sure that you ask permission from now on, okay?"

"Okay." Agreed Shigure. "So what's... your favorite?"

"That's actually a pretty tough one." Said Kenichi thoughtfully as he scratched his chin in thought. "I've never really thought about it one way or the other, so I guess you could kind of say that they're all my favorite." He answered awkwardly as he scratched the back of his head. "I bet you think that's kind of silly, don't you?"

"Not at... all." Shigure remarked with a shake of her head. "I'm impressed that you've read... so much."

"Well... before coming to Ryozanpaku, I had quite a lot of free time on my hands." Admitted Kenichi sheepishly. "I wasn't exactly very popular before I started learning martial arts." Suddenly, his expression became comically depressed. "And now one of the best and longest standing friends I have is an alien who's constantly trying to use me as part of some weird scheme of his." He remarked, thinking of Niijima. "After all this time, I still can't tell if he's planning to use me as part of some franchise, for conquering the world, staging an alien invasion, or some combination of the above."

"He is... weird," Agreed Shigure. "And also... annoying."

"You've got that right." Chuckled Kenichi. "Say, have you read this one?" He asked as he picked out a book on how to garden.

They talked for hours, completely forgeting the original reason why they came to Kenichi's room in the first place. Before they knew it, it had already gotten dark.

Letting out a big yawn, Kenichi realized how late it had gotten. "Wow, it's already dark." He remarked. "Can you believe how long we've been talking?"

"It is hard... to believe." Agreed Shigure. "Can you remember... why we came... here in the first... place?"

"Not really." Chuckled Kenichi awkwardly as he scratched the back of his head. "I got so into just talking with you that it completely slipped my mind."

"We can ask the others... tomorrow." Said Shigure as she stifled a yawn of her own.

"Sounds like a plan." Nodded Kenichi. "Goodnight Shigure. See you in the morning." Falling into bed, he almost immediately fell asleep.

"Goodnight... Kenichi." Said Shigure, climbing up to the rafters and silently slipping out of his room to get some shut eye herself.

The next day was also a typical day at Ryozanpaku...

"AHHHHH!" Panicked Kenichi as Sakaki pushed him by his legs at high speeds like a wheelbarrow. "Sakaki-shisho! I already have pleanty of upper body strength! Why do you still make me do this every other day?-!"

"Just because you have the strength doesn't mean you'll keep it!" Shouted Sakaki over Kenichi's shouting. "And besides, you still have a long way to go before your strength can even begin to compare to mine!"

"That may be so, but don't you think that you could come up with some less extreme alternative to this training?-!" Pleaded Kenichi desperately. "I don't ever see you doing anything like this after all!"

"That's because there's no one here that could keep up with me!" Boasted Sakaki. "Besides, you're trying to build up the muscle! I've already got it!" Suddenly, a sound like an alarm clock went off.

"Apa! It's Apachai's turn now!" Called out Apachai happily.

"Damn it!" Complained Sakaki as he came to a sudden stop, rattling Kenichi's still hand running body. "Fine, just don't break him." He said as he handed Kenichi to Apachai by his legs.

"Apa! It's time for sparring with Apachai, Kenichi!" Said Apachai enthusiastically as he just dropped Kenichi onto the floor of the dojo.

"Oh joy." Muttered Kenichi sarcastically as he stood up and got his sparring gear on.

"By the way, Kenichi," Began Apachai as he slipped on his training gear. "Did you and Shigure find out about Christmas yesterday?"

"Oh!" Realized Kenichi with a start. 'So that's what we were supposed to be doing yesterday.' He remembered. "Sorry Apachai," He apologized sheepishly. "But it turns out that Shigure reads a lot of my books in her spare time. We got to talking about it a lot, and I guess we just lost track of time and forgot about it." He explained as he began sparring with Apachai.

"Apa! That's okay." Reassured Apachai cheerfully as he blocked all of Kenichi's blows. "This way, Apachai can find out with you tonight."

"Alright then." Smiled Kenichi as his guard slipped. "We'll all read about it in my room tonight."

"Kenichi! Dodge!" Commanded Apachai as he threw a blow that Kenichi was in no way ready for, sending him flying at the Elder's giant bonsai tree.

"AHHH! My bonsai!" Panicked the Elder as the vastly oversized tree tipped over. Luckily, it was in a pot and didn't seem to be damaged by Kenichi's body. Kenichi himself on the other hand...

"Apa! Kenichi! Why didn't you dodge?-!" Panicked Apachai.

"Apachai!" Scolded the Elder as he carefully stood his super bonsai upright. "Watch where you send people flying next time! You could have damaged my bonsai!"

"What about... me?" Groaned Kenichi weakly.

"Don't worry so much, Kenichi." Chided Akisame. "If a simple blow like that could do so much damage to you, you would have been dead long ago."

"Thanks for the concern." Muttered Kenichi sarcastically, noticing a female figure rushing to his side to help him up. "Thanks Miu. At least someone here actually cares about my safety."

"I'm not... Miu." Corrected Shigure as Kenichi finally saw who it really was who helped him up.

"Shigure?" Remarked Kenichi curriously. "But then... where's Miu-san?"

"She's out... shopping." Answered Shigure as she handed a nervous Kenichi back to Apachai. "Get back to your... training... and I'll see you in... your room again... tonight."

"EHHHH!" Shouted Kensei as he dropped the camera he'd been holding while sneaking up on Shigure. Rushing over to Kenichi and grabbing him eagerly by the shoulders, he asked, "What does she mean by that, Ken-chan!-? Have you two been doing something 'special' at night? Something you might want to tell your good pal Kensei about?"

"No! No! Nothing like that!" Panicked Kenichi. "Tell him Shigure! Nothing's been happening, okay?-!"

Looking at Kenichi with a slightly hurt and dissapointed expression, Shigure said. "Last night was... special... for me."

"Ken-i-chi." Came a voice that sounded like it was straining to remain calm. "Exactly what is Shigure talking about?"

"Miu-san!" Panicked Kenichi as he searched for the right words to straighten things out. "Pl-Please don't get the wrong idea here! Last night between me and Shigure wasn't special! I mean, from a certain point of view it might be special! But it wasn't really all that out of the ordinary!"

"Oh really?" Remarked Miu, barely containing her rage. "It wasn't special? But it might be special? And it wasn't out of the ordinary?"

"Err..." Muttered Kenichi as he realized all the wrong ways to interpret his words. "Well, it wasn't anything like you're thinking, if that's what your thinking. I mean, it was certainly different than anything I've done with Shigure before."

"Ken-chan," Whispered Kensei. "Take it from a married man. Right now, pretty much anything you can say will just make things worse for you. It'd be in your best interests to just shut up and ride this storm out."

Realizing that Kensei may have a point, and not knowing what else to do, Kenichi just shut up and waited for the worst.

That night for dinner, Kenichi only got one small fish and a glass of water.

"I'm so hungry." Whined Kenichi as he held his rumbling stomach and walked into his room. "All of this over a misunderstanding. Why did she have to give me such a small portion? I barely get enough food as it is with my masters stealing it all the time."

"Are you... hungry?" Asked an upsidedown Shigure as she appeared in front of Kenichi.

"GAH!" Startled Kenichi. "Will you stop scaring me like that?-!"

"Here." Said Shigure as she handed him three large, though oddly shaped onigiri. "I thought you might... like these."

"Huh?" Blinked Kenichi, taking in the sight before him. "Seriously?-! These are for me?-!" He asked enthusiastically before he started gobbling them down like a starved animal. It may have just been the hunger talking, but right now, these were some of the best onigiri he'd ever eaten.

"I thought you might... like them." Explained Shigure. "You didn't get... much dinner... So I thought you might... want something more."

"Thank you so much, Shigure!" Said Kenichi gratefully, before something occured to him. "But how did you know how to make these? You never really struck me as someone who would know how to cook, and Honoka told me about how badly you and Apachai messed up just making tea."

"I've been reading your... books." Reminded Shigure. "You have a few... basic cookbooks... After watching Miu do it for a while... I got... curious about it... and I've had... a lot of time on my... hands... since you don't... train with me often."

"Oh!" Realized Kenichi, feeling somewhat guilty. "I'm sorry about that, Shigure. But like I've said before, I really don't like to use weapons."

"It's... okay." Reassured Shigure. "Can we find out... about Christmas now?"

"Right." Nodded Kenichi as he finished off his onigiri. "By the way, have you seen Apachai around anywhere? He said he'd be here tonight too."

"I found him... asleep on the roof." Answered Shigure.

This just made Kenichi more curious. "Do you have any idea why he's sleeping on the roof?"

"No." Was Shigure's reply.

"Okay..." Said Kenichi uncertainly. "Now let's see here... Where was that thing?" Hummed Kenichi as he dug through his pile of 'how to' books. "Here it is!" He said enthusiastically as he pulled out a book called 'How To Celebrate the Holidays'. "Now let's see here..." He hummed as he flipped to the table of contents, but quickly felt something soft pressing onto his back. Recognizing the feeling pressing up against his back, he turned and asked awkwardly, "Um, Shigure? What are you doing?"

"I'm.. reading." She answered as if it were obvious. "Is there... something wrong?"

"No, no! Not at all!" Said Kenichi quickly, a heavy blush adorning his face. Guilty as he felt for it being Shigure who was pressing her chest up against his back instead of Miu, he was not one to pass up a rare opportunity like this, so long as he was familiar with the female in question. "Now let's see here. Christmas... Christmas... Here we are!" He said as he landed on a page with an evergreen tree decked out with many decorations, and surrounded by presents and people.

"It looks very... festive." Observed Shigure.

"Yeah." Agreed Kenichi. "It says here, that Christmas started out long ago as some kind of celebration for the son of God in Christian religion."

"I don't... believe in god." Remarked Shigure coldly.

"Yeah," Nodded Kenichi. "I kinda know how you feel. I've never really thought about it one way or the other myself." Shuddering slightly - causing his tremors to run through Shigure and loosen her clothing a bit - he added. "I mean, if there really was a god, would he really let me be put through Ryozanpaku's training every day?"

"Right." Agreed Shigure. "That was... your own choice... to step into... hell." She felt Kenichi's shaking in her breasts at her sudden remark about his bravery/stupidity, shaking her clothing looser still. "Please... continue."

"Okay," Said Kenichi. "Anyway, it says that a few hundred years ago, it changed into a holiday about giving gifts and celebrating a man named Santa Clause instead."

"Who is... Santa?" Asked Shigure curiously.

"I'm getting to that." Reassured Kenichi as he turned the page, a picture of a jolly looking plump man with a thick white beard and a red coat displayed prominantly on the page. "This is Santa. It says that he's a kind old man who lives at the North Pole. He and his elves making toys all year round for all the good little girls and boys."

"I've seen... outfits like that." Remarked Shigure as she pointed at the picture of Santa. "But they were... for women and they were... a lot more... revealing."

"Yeah," Chuckled Kenichi awkwardly. "I've seen those around too." Blood rushing to his face, he couldn't help but think, 'I wonder how Miu would look in one of those outfits.' Trembling and chuckling with the perversity of a hormonal teenage boy, he finally managed to - unknowingly - shake Shigure's already loosened clothes completely off. Leaving her clad in nothing but her chainmail and loincloth.

Just then, as luck would have it - as it usually does in these situations - Miu walked in with a tray of food in hand. "Kenichi," She began happily, eyes thankfully closed at the moment. "I'm sorry about not letting you eat enough a dinner tonight, so I brought you some..." She trailed off as she saw the position Kenichi and Shigure were in, as well as Shigure's stunning lack of clothes.

"Miu, what's wrong?" Asked Kenichi as he followed her line of sight to see what had left her speachless. Upon seeing Shigure still latched onto his back, but with a lot fewer clothes than he remembered her wearing, he immediately realized what was wrong, and proceded to panic. "Now look! Miu! I know this looks bad! But there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for-!"

"Apachai! Food!" Called Miu, barely containing her anger.

"Apa!" Cheered Apachai as he suddenly appeared, as if out of nowhere. "Apachai heard his name and food!" He said eagerly as he quickly scarfed down the food Miu had originally brought for Kenichi. Seeing a speachless and depressed Kenichi, as well as a half-dressed Shigure, Apachai remembered something. "Apa! Have you two found out about Christmas yet?" He asked cheerfully, not reading the atmosphere at all.

"Yes." Said Shigure as she pulled the book from Kenichi's stiff fingers. "It's about... giving gifts and... spreading joy."

"Apa! Apachai likes gifts!" Cried Apachai happily. "And Apachai is good at spreading joy too!"

"M-Miu-san," Pleaded Kenichi. "Please wait a second. I can explain."

"I'm going to bed now." Said Miu tensely. "Enjoy your time however you want." After saying this, she immediately slammed the sliding door behind her with such force, it's a wonder the door frame wasn't broken.

"Apa! Miu looked mad." Observed Apachai seriously, before switching back to his normal cheerful demeanor. "Oh well. See you in the morning, Kenichi, Shigure!" He said before climbing out the window.

"Today is just going from bad to worse." Sighed Kenichi.

Upset at seeing Kenichi so saddened over Miu's anger, Shigure placed a hand upon his shoulder. "Is there something I... can do to help?"

"Thanks for offering Shigure," Sniffed Kenichi. "But I think I'm just gonna sleep this off."

"Okay." Accepted Shigure as she lept up to the rafters. "If you need anything... just ask... It is the... holiday season... after all." With that, she was gone.

Kensei, who just happened to be walking by Kenichi's room at the time, saw a barely dressed Shigure jump out of Kenichi's room, and quickly went inside to press a depressed Kenichi for answers.

The next few weeks continued in a similar pattern. Training would go as it normally does. Shigure would frequently pop into Kenichi's room at night, usually with food, since Miu would give him meager portions every so often for some reason that was never really Kenichi's fault in the first place. Kenichi and Shigure would discuss various books they'd read recently and talked about various other things that popped into their heads. And during the whole time, everyone at Ryozanpaku was getting into the Christmas Spirit, thanks to the efforts of an ethusiastic Apachai.

Before anyone knew it, it was already Christmas Eve.

"Apa! Santa is coming tonight!" Said Apachai eagerly, a Santa hat pearched on top of his head.

"You're really getting into this, aren't you Apachai?" Asked Honoka.

"He's not the only one." Chuckled Sakaki, who pointed to the Elder, all decked out in a complete Santa suit.

"I suppose this is only to be expected." Remarked Akisame, who was busy carving a snowman out of stone. "Since Apachai got interested in it, he's naturally spreading holiday joy to all of Ryozanpaku."

"He's even been making up decorations for the past few weeks." Hummed a headstanding Kensei as he turned a page in his Christmas edition porno. "I swear, you can't take two steps in here anymore without running into something green, red, shiny, or any combination of the above."

"Hey, I'm just glad he's been feeling good enough to help me win my bets at the race tracks." Laughed Sakaki as he chugged a gallon of eggnog. "If I had known he'd get this generous just because of Christmas, I would've told him about it a long time ago."

"Your reason are... selfish." Deadpanned Shigure as she read one of Kenichi's 'how to' books.

"Hey, Shigure," Spoke Honoka. "Why have you been reading my brother's books lately?"

"Because they're... good." Shigure answered.

"Come to think of it, you've been spending an awful lot of time with Ken-chan lately, haven't you?" Asked Kensei mischeviously. "Has there been something going on that we should know about?"

Unknown to Kensei, Miu happened to be walking by at the time with a pot of tea, and his words got her very upset. Acting quickly, before a giggling Kensei even knew what hit him, she poured the entire pot of scalding hot tea on his head.

"YEEEOOOWW!" Shouted Kensei as he ran around in circles in a panic. "What was that for?-! That stuff was hot!"

"It was also supposed to be mine." Mutter Akisame bitterly.

"I'm back!" Called Kenichi as he opened the main gate, heavy ball-and-chains attached to his ankles. "And I've got the ingredents for tonight's Christmas dinner!"

"Welcome back, Kenichi." Miu greeted, straining to remain civil. "You can just set those in the kitchen, and then you can take a few more laps around the neighborhood." Knowing that she couldn't stay calm if she stayed around Kenichi much longer, she took her leave.

"What did I do this time?" Sighed Kenichi.

"Umm, I think that I might be responsible for this one, Ken-chan." Admitted Kensei sheepishly. "My bad."

Sighing, Kenichi asked, "What's been going on here? I thought that I was finally getting somewhere with Miu, and then it all goes South. How did things go from so good to so bad?"

"Sometimes these things just happen, Ken-chan." Reassured Kensei. "One day you're happy with the girl of your dreams, the next, she's mad as hell at you for no discernable reason, and start being completely unreasonable. Sometimes it's just bad timing. Sometimes you just don't click as well as you thought you would. And sometimes one of you is just a backstabbing bastard who can't stay loyal to save their life."

"Thanks... I think?" Said Kenichi.

"Don't mention it." Said Kensei. "And anyway, don't worry too much about it. If things turn sour, you'll always have Shigure to fall back on."

"WHAT!" Panicked Kenichi. "Why would you say something like that?-!"

"Don't be so coy, Ken-chan." Smirked Kensei. "Don't think I haven't noticed the sparks flying between you and Shigure these past few weeks. You've gotten further with her in just a few short weeks than you got with Miu since you first came here. So tell me, have you two done the nasty yet?"

"How... rude." Deadpanned Shigure, tuning out Kenichi's objections as she went inside to see if she could put the limited cooking skills she'd learned from Kenichi's books towards helping Miu make dinner. In truth however, Shigure was deep in thought. She'd always liked Kenichi in her own way since he first came to Ryozanpaku, just like with the other masters. However, due to a combination of the fact that he trained with her considerably less than he did with the other masters, as well as her anti-social demeanor, her interactions with him were few and far between.

While she would admit that she was always happy whenever she got to spend time with the boy, she'd never really given any consideration to feelings like love. Recently though, her shared time with Kenichi shot up considerably. She wasn't really sure what exactly love felt like, due to never really having felt it herself, but she wondered if what she felt for Kenichi was love. "I wonder..." She thought out loud.

"What do you wonder, Shigure?" Asked Miu as she took pause from peeling potatoes.

"I wonder if I... could help you." Shigure quickly lied.

"Oh, then do you think that you could cut up some vegetables for dinner?" Asked Miu. "I know that you don't usually cook, but I'm pretty sure you can at least do that much."

"Very... well." Accepted Shigure as she picked out a knife and began chopping. As she cut away, she couldn't help but ponder the comparison between herself and Miu in Kenichi's life. Shigure may not have been entirely certain what love felt like herself, but she could still recognize it when she saw it. It was plain as day to her that they were infatuated with each other, but they were still hesitant to act on it. It made no sense to her. If they loved each other and they were close enough physically for it to work, why not be open about it? It seemed to her like a serious waste of time and effort to hesitate in such a way.

'If Kenichi felt that... way about me... I wouldn't... hesitate.' Thought Shigure idlely as she chopped the vegetables. Almost immedately after thinking that, something occured to her. 'If he felt... about me that way... why wouldn't I hesitate?' She wondered. 'Unless... I... felt... that... way... about... him.' As she thought this, all the pieces slowly fell into place. 'I... love... him.'

"I... love... Kenichi." Shigure said in realization. Hearing a clattering of metal, Shigure turned on instinct, ready for an attack, only to see Miu, frozen stiff as a board.

Silently cursing her own carelessness, Shigure tried to take measures to straighten things out. "Miu... are you... alright?"

Turning to Shigure like a poorly oiled machine, Miu looked two steps away from killing a small animal, and Shigure was silently thankful that Tochumaru was wandering the streets today. "Of course I'm alright, Shigure." She said in a tone that most certainly not alright. "Why wouldn't I be?"

Shigure was worried. She knew very well that Miu was the type to bottle things up and misdirect them later. Shigure would have to have picked up that much with the way that Miu had practically been starving Kenichi these past few weeks, simply because the girl was uncomfortable with how much time she'd been spending with Kenichi. Kenichi, the boy who had stolen her heart without even trying.

'That's right,' Thought Shigure. 'He didn't try... He was just being... nice to me because we... had something in common... He never even meant to... win my heart... And she's punishing him for... something he didn't even... do... Not while I'm... around.'

"Let's get back to... work." Said Shigure as she got back to cutting vegetables.

That night at dinner, Miu didn't give Kenichi even so much as a single grain of rice or drop of water.

'She can't... do that.' Though Shigure bitterly. 'And he's not saying... anything in his... defense.' Her anger growing by the second at Miu's misplaced aggression and how Kenichi was just taking it lying down - when by every right he should be doing something about it - Shigure sprang into action. Or, more specifically, into the kitchen to get some food for Kenichi.

No more than a few seconds later, Shigure sprang out of the kitchen with a tray full of some extra food she'd made in anticipation of just such a problem, grabbed Kenichi, and hauled them both up to the rafters.

"Shigure! What are you-?-!" Kenichi's protests were quickly stiffled by the a mouthful of rice.

"Eat." Commanded Shigure. "You need to... eat."

"Shigure... Kenichi..." Began Miu, straining to remain calm. "What are you two doing up there?"

Seeing that there would be nothing but trouble in here, as well as various amused looks from the other masters -the most amusing of which was from Kensei - Shigure fled to her room, with a protesting Kenichi and his meal in hand.

"Well, well." Chuckled Kensei. "Looks like she's dragging Ken-chan back to her cave."

"I thought only cavemen did that." Remarked Sakaki.

"Apa! Shigure acts sorta like one sometimes." Commented Apachai.

"This is usually the point where Shigure would remark, 'How... rude'." Noticed Akisame.

"Looks like you missed your chance at my big brother, Big Boobs." Remarked Honoka, the only one directly commenting exactly what just happened. "Personally, I've always liked Shigure more than you."

"Now, now, Honoka-chan. There's no need to say things like that." Said the Elder as he held his granddaughter back.

In Shigure's room, behind a booby-trapped door, Shigure finally set down a protesting Kenichi and his dinner.

"Shigure! What's all this about?-!" Demanded Kenichi heatedly, though his anger didn't stop him from taking advantage of the food.

"I couldn't stand... seeing you like that." Explained Shigure. "Whenever Miu felt her... relationship with you... was threatened she would... take it out on... you."

"Um... well..." Chuckled Kenichi awkwardly as he scratched the back of his head. "Do you really think that she... y'know?"

"I don't know." Answered Shigure honestly. "After seeing the way... she acted out... I don't know... anymore."

"What do you mean 'anymore'?" Asked Kenichi curiously, taking a few bites of food as an afterthought.

"I thought she liked you." Shigure explained, bringing a smile to Kenichi's face, that hurt her spirit at the same time. "But she reacts poorly... when there's any... competition."

"Well, a lot of girls wouldn't like competion." Handwaved Kenichi. "And besides, it's not like she'd really have to worry about you, right?" Kenichi's words cut Shigure like a knife, and she of all people would know what knife wounds felt like. "I'm sure this will all blow over soon enough."

Kenichi's optimisim, while part of what she loved about him, was becoming increasingly aggrivating. If only there was some way to say everything she felt all at once. But what? At that moment, something caught the corner of her vision.

Suddenly, Shigure pointed up, and Kenichi followed where it pointed, seeing missletoe hanging directly overhead.

At that moment, before Kenichi knew what hit him, Shigure's lips were already firmly locked onto his, and her tounge was quickly moving to invade his mouth-

"Ewww! Dad! That's disgusting!" Protested a young boy in a kendo uniform with a mullet and familiar zigzag eyebrows.

"You two asked about the first time I kissed your mother." Chuckled Kenichi, now ten years older and running his own dojo with his wife. "It's not my fault if it grosses you out Kogarashi."

"But dad." Whined Kogarashi

"Stop complaining!" Scoffed a young girl with her hair done up just like her mother's, wearing a familiar looking uniform made of a mix of various martial arts uniforms. "Honestly, you're the big brother. If something doesn't creep me out, it certainly should creep you out. Personally, I thought it was romantic."

"Shut up, Oto!" Growled Kogarashi. "Just because you're learning from dad instead of mom doesn't you can talk down to me like that!"

"Oh really?" Asked Oto mischeviously. "Then how exaclty should I talk down to you?"

"That's it!" Shouted Kogarashi as he drew his shinai. "I'm gonna show you once and for all that weapons are way better than hand to hand!"

"Bring it on!" Accepted Oto as she got into a Muai Thai stance.

Sighing as he scratched the back of his head, Kenichi could only look at one of his kids' usual squabbles with amusement. "Honestly, those two have been going at it since they were old enough to walk." He chuckled.

"Those two just can't... give it a rest." Remarked Shigure as she snuck up behind her husband of eight years as latched onto his back. "What cause it this time... Anata?"

"I was telling them the story of the first time we kissed." Explained Kenichi to his wife of eight years. "Kogarashi was grossed out while Oto thought it was romantic."

"Ah yes... that one." Remarked Shigure as the corners of her lips turned up into a small smile.

"Uh-oh," Chuckled Kenichi. "I know that look."

"Yes you... do." Remarked Shigure as she kissed her husband deeply.

"EWWW! Mom! Dad!" Complained Kogarashi as he and his sister stopped fighting. "Not in from of us!"

"Awww!" Cooed Oto. "I wish I had someone like that."

"You're six years old!" Pointed out Kogarashi.

"If really is... a cute picture." Remarked Shigure as she broke the kiss and looked on at her bickering children fondly.

"It sure is." Agreed Kenichi fondly. "You know what would make this even better?" He asked mischeviously.

"Yes." Answered Shigure as she and her husband wrapped their kids in a loving embrace.

"Mom! Dad!" Whined Kogarashi. "You know I hate it when you squish us together." His sister Oto however, happily returned the embrace.

"You're right." Said Shigure. "This is... better."

And they all lived happily ever after.

How do you like that?-! I had to pull a late night to get this out on Christmas day, but I managed. Also, tune in on New Year's for an extra omake chapter. I won't spoil what it is, but I will say that it answers any questions you may have about where Tochumaru was during all of this.

"One more thing!" In case anyone was wondering where I got the names for Kenichi and Shigure's kids, Oto means Ten Cherry Blossoms, while Kogarashi means Cold Wintry Wind. I figured that, since Shigure's name ment Autumn Rain, her kids should have names related to seasons too.