+ Category: Kishin Douji Zenki

+ Rate: T

+ Genre: Romance / Drama

Authoress' Notes:

Hello guys, how have you been? After a long time, I'm BACK with another one-shot for Kishin Douji Zenki [鬼神童子ZENKI] fandom. This fic is going to be a connection of the events that follows the end of KDZ Manga Vol 09 and stops before the beginning of Vol 10, say… after the so-called Ultimate Test that scared the hell out of our trio. :lol: I'm writing for my favorite pairing again so you've been warned. :smile: Just kidding! Please have a read; all kinds of review are always encouraged and welcomed. :D

Kishin Douji Zenki series is mine? If this were true, I would never leave my dear fans hanging for almost 20 years now. :sigh:

~ LIES & FAITH ~

During the trip to Tokyo and only a day after the ultimate test from which Chiaki gained a new bracelet of blessed magic, Akira/Goki still bore the marks of his former master – Enno Ozunu's visit – notably, the aura of strangely bemused resolve. He knelt just inside one of the hotel rooms they had chosen for the night, a table before him and a piece of paper neatly atop. Before him was an inkwell, a brush in hand. Zenki was nowhere to be seen, probably got too excited for another seed to idle the day away, whereas Chiaki had gone out with old Saki for some errand. In the meantime? Shirt draped over his shoulders, bandages still around his chest and over the right shoulder and half right arm, partially hidden by a dark-blue shoulder wrap, the young 13-year-old shugenja(1)... was writing a letter.

Writing? Being a high-schooler Chiaki could well attest to the horrors of that sedentary monster. It was, however, a curious sight that greeted the young 17-year-old miko(2) when she knocked lightly on the edge of the door and poked her head in. Obviously he can write, from the memorable New Year card that had been sent to her months ago, but... she has never actually really seen him do it. And strange, too, that the boy seemed almost like an aristocrat now and then, posture straight and brush held as delicately as a flower freshly cut in spring. He smiled instantly upon seeing her, though it was somewhat subdued. No, a brilliant cheer is less in place than the cooler laughter that he has kept ever since his first encounter with his new master.

"Good evening, Chiaki. How was the errand?" He asked instantly, setting down the brush and attempting to stand to greet her. "I hope everything is fine. Would you like some tea?"

With a cheerful smile, Chiaki walked past the door. "Things are okay, Akira. Granny told me to get off a little early today, seems that we can go home soon. Oh, and tea will do!"

Akira watched her cheer with a returning smile, tilting his head to watch her approach and then only nodding and turning to get the refreshments.

"I'm not surprised." He laughed while arranging a tray of sweets that he had stacked before settling in to wait. "We have attained the most important goal, ne?" The brief grin he gave to those words as he turned back, lingered, then nodded for her to sit and join him.

"Here we go." The boy excused happily, shifting the paper and other things aside and setting down the teapot. He busied himself with the cups first, putting the teacakes forward for them to be reached if Chiaki was hungry while she sat comfortably in her usual loose-limbed fold.

"You were writing something when I came back." She began, taking a small sip of her tea.

"Oh. Just a brief message to Shinsenbou, telling him that we're doing all right." He smiled at first, shifting his shirt to pull it more firmly over his shoulders, hiding the bandaged areas. "We have pigeons carried our letters. A fast and efficient way that is."

"Yeah, it's been months since you left, he must have been very worried." Chiaki nodded. "But the weather… It seems to hint towards a bad one after all." She faked a sigh, fiddling with the issue of breaking the moment.

The teasing had its desired effect, causing Akira to tilt his head back and laugh, losing some of the aloof professionalism or what passed for it for him. "No worries, Chiaki. Animals have great endurance, plus they're trained." He said, reaching for his tea with his left arm and letting the other turn so that its palm faced the table.

Holding out her cup in a silent request for the tea offered earlier, the young priestess continued to observe her blue-haired companion: his movements were fluid enough that he was either healing well or ignoring the pain on his shoulder, or both. Once it had been poured, a small sip passed between her lips before she set the cup down again.

"So… how is your wound? Any better?" One hand stretched out to rest lightly on Akira's, warm from the transmitted heat of the cup.

"More or less." A shrug and a smile. It's been like that, and will be like that, as far as she has concerned.

"It would be nice if it could just go away." Chiaki commented with a light laugh. "We must linger in Tokyo for a few days just to be sure."

"Alright then..." Akira chuckled slightly, the lids of his eyes going half-mast as he relaxed to the familiar contact. "It doesn't bother me too much today. I can even write."

"There's no rush, I guess..." A brief squeeze was given before she relaxed back into the comfortable hold. "Oh... I was wondering if you had enough time–or interest–– to visit the Daimonji(3) with me this August." In her eyes there lay a bit of uncertainty. "I know a few people there, and they were telling me about the shows they had lined up for the festival. They said they can promise me excellent seats where we can watch those five spectacular characters of fire. Would you like to go with me?"

His face lightened up in a smile. "Sure." Direct question, direct answer.

The smile was infectious for her as well. Chiaki hned, cupping her chin in thought. "Okay. But…" She looked vaguely disappointed for a moment, though. "... Only after you've healed. Furthermore, I believe all of us are enough preoccupied with great ancestor's recent warning– New enemies! Any ideas?" She asked, revealing the reason for her disappointment.

Akira dismissed it with a shrug, taking a quick sip from his cup before setting it aside and lightly running his fingers over the back of her hand, in turn. "Let's not worry about it too much. So far you've gained a new bracelet, Zenki has the best opportunity to gain his true form."

"But what about you? Are you sure y-" The rest of her words were cut off with a yelp as she batted a cushion flying *directly at her* away. "Hey!"

Chiaki's eyes narrowed threateningly at Akira for a moment, the look spoiled by the creases of laughter at the corners. "Don't make me respond in the same way." Her hand sneaked behind her to stealthily grab one of the cushions, with the mischievous grin on her face as she let fly with the pillow in her hand.

The pillow in his left hand moved up just enough to soak some of the impact from Chiaki's attack and still be hit by the ineffective shield. Akira laughed–ignore it, ignore it all, it's nothing–and backed up a step to take the start of a run at her, never minding that there was still a table technically between them.

Still seated, Chiaki decided that now would be a good time to get up, a task accomplished easily as she bounced to her feet with a laugh. Snatching up the pillow she had been sitting on, she slid around the table to try and mock-attack from the side, with just a flick of the pillow. She had no wish to be disarmed.

That point was awarded easily hopefully. Caught off-guard by Chiaki's dodge, Akira got tagged in the back in the middle of his leap across the table, his feet tucked neatly under him to clear the distance.

Chiaki blinked at the leap, not having expected it– she wasn't intentionally dodging, since she wasn't expecting him to leap straight across it!

Quick, quick–get that pillow now while you can. Akira turned the swing into a hooking motion as he advanced, intent on trying to knock it off with the sacrifice of his own weapon. Automatically his right arm came up to try and also snatched at the stuffed weapon, and automatically did that already fractionally off-beat smile go completely blank as his injury decided to reawaken fully. The boy dropped the arm, dropped the attack and bounced back, eyes somewhere far away as he reached his left arm up– pillow dangling and already slipping out of his own grip–– to try and touch what felt like the previously sprained and horribly burnt shoulder making a fuss again. Smiles indeed. No worries.

Chiaki's eyes widen slightly, the pillow knocked from heedless fingers as she took a step forward.

"Are you okay?" She asked, concern in her voice. She ignored the strange smile, having become quite accustomed to the way he went all faraway and distant with that smile still on his face. "Are you hurt?"

"I'm okay." Automatic, but that's all right too. Eventually he might realize that that's connected to the same time his shoulder feel on fire. Glancing up to her through the fringe of his disheveled hair, "I'm doing all right." he said softly, ignoring the obvious lie in the words.

Chiaki's brow remained furrowed with concern as she plopped down next to Akira on the bed. He shook his head as she addressed the pressure on his shoulder, though he did release the grip that had gone white around the knuckles in desperation to *shut the nerves up for once*. Letting the young priestess take his hand, he let the other arm go limp as it could in his lap, starting to bite his lip before he remembered not to.

"It's... nothing. Just sore." Akira explained with a laugh. The discomfort with addressing the thought was shown in how easily he turned his head to her, leaning back at the same time to be able to look at her. "It's... nothing. Mm." Yes. He... was feeling pain.

"Sore? Does this help?" Quite without asking permission, Chiaki began to gently massage his right arm and shoulder with her thumbs, careful to keep away from the bandaged areas. Bending her head to her new task, she didn't notice that he was not quite... well, focused.

"Post effect." Akira admitted. "It would have been logic..."

Then his words trailed off as he gritted his teeth, the hand unconsciously curving into the pressure that Chiaki gave to work out the tension. His eyes lowered to nearly closed before he shook his head faintly and said, very quietly– if he said it softly enough then he wouldn't have to acknowledge it to himself, "Harder, you really have to dig in." and rolled the arm so that the palm faced up in surrender to the grip. Judging from how white he had left the skin before when he had been applying pressure, there couldn't be enough force to work the inborn tension out. And, ironically, the pain did leave when enough was given, and if it was only for the duration of the grip then that was blessing in itself.

"I'm sorry, Chiaki." He mumbled, relaxing under the massage. "This sort of thing... just happens."

"No, Akira," She sighed before glancing up to smile slightly at him. In her eyes, anyhow. In her eyes, she remembered how easily he sprained the joint by simply throwing both of them out of the energy blast in haste, and she didn't even realize that until...

Chiaki's voice became a whisper as she shook her head, "It was my fault. Why should you apologize?"

"You certainly worry too much about me." Akira shook his head too, and smiled softly. "I'm a guardian. It's normal for my task to protect you hm?"

Duty, again. Duty, responsibility, and other such wholesome words that people give up their lives for, even if they're still technically alive and breathing!

He blinked in surprise when she glared at him with death gleaming in her eyes.

"I have to worry for you because you don't worry for yourself at all. I hate it when both of you—Zenki and *you* especially keep acting you're unhurt while you're obviously not!" She said bluntly, "Far worse than Zenki, part of you is a *mortal*, all sorts of things could have happened and you know it. Stop telling lies, Goki!" The young priestess scolded, dropping her hands and turned her gaze away in frustration.

"Lies?" He chuckled. "I never thought I would tell lies. But even if I did, all were for good causes." The young warrior let this trail off with a smile and a shake of his head. "White lies, I guess." In the end, he remained very stable when everything else was dissolving away into a mess.

Silence prevailed. Akira wrapped his fingers lightly around Chiaki's wrists, folding his hands on hers while he smiled at nothing in general and said while focused on the bed they sat on, "You look… upset. Why?"

"You're too nice sometimes, you know that?" Words she had said to another, yet how differently they applied. One because of a reversal in being, in a sort of atonement, the other because there's no reason not to be, when it causes less trouble and oneself is regarded as less than important.

Blue eyes sought violet as the reborn demon lord lifted the chilling evenness of his gaze directly to Chiaki, not concealing it as one with secrets to hide might, giving up everything though the truth may be nothing at all.

"Master," He said the affectionate term with seriousness, with the smile in the corners of his teeth but there regardless. "Our struggle against another wave of adversary is looming in the shadow. You– we have lots of things to worry about, lots of duties." Soft spoken was the reply, as the eyes glanced away again. "You shouldn't worry about hurting me. Please, don't."

"Master or not, I can't afford to let anything bad happen to you… to any of us." She said quietly after a long moment, gripping the white sheet under. "Lots of things have occurred recently and I just can't think straight. What if…" Surprisingly, her voice wasn't at all shaky, nor her gaze as she watched Akira's face for signs of his reaction.

Without his own knowledge, his smile had slipped away, falling contemplative in a still sort of way of forest pools, untouched save to ripples by leaves tumbling to drown. /True. Being a human is more of a hindrance than a gift,/ Worse, if one does not know exactly whether he still can or cannot rely on the power flowing unsteadily inside his being. That technique used against Vasara, though without success, had drained his life force, and no matter how hard he tried to deny the obvious, he knew he's no longer match the powerful divine he once was or perhaps… should have been– a pure-blood demon god. Akira floated there for a minute before he remembered he could not dodge this situation by simply fading out of worry from it, and he was completely and utterly still when he returned.

He took her hand in both his and bent forward until Chiaki felt his warm forehead press against hers and heard his soft voice saying, "It's all right. I understand perfectly what we have to face. I'm sure my resilience is better than that of a mortal."

Knowing it is one thing, handling it is quite another... a truth of which they had made painfully aware of occasionally, but seemed to have forgotten at this moment. "I can take care of myself. Don't worry about me..." ...could all too easily take away. She knew this.

"Goki…" Chiaki ran a finger down the small scars on his palm, the calluses that formed from early years of intensive martial-arts training. "You don't want me to worry... but how couldn't I want for you to be safe? Should I ignore you and treat you as a mere pawn to serve my own purposes?"

The question, both asked and implied, took him aback, leaving him in... a bewildered state, but only briefly. Akira leaned back against the support of the bed, hands limp in his lap and eyes watching them. The faint smile on his face was more in the present– more as if he can already guess how this conversation might go but cannot stop it. The guardian god glanced at his master then, the defense of distance put aside for a brief moment as he admitted, "You never do that, and never will... I have not a slightest doubt."

Then he smiled again, going soft about the features. She froze as a hand touched her temple, tracing its way downward. Gently, it smoothed her hair back over one ear, before coming to rest on her cheekbone. "You are important to me, hence I'm not going to hold back doing whatever I believe is best for you, if not, for all of us. So... I just wanted to apologize. Now, in case..."

"Don't be silly." A small shake of her head, and then her hand shifted again and curled almost protectively around his that was resting on her cheek. "It's okay... You don't have to apologize. We will overcome together, whatever trouble that might lie ahead." The smile broadened slightly. "Besides, you apologize too much anyway," She half-joked, attempting to lighten the air. "... so far I haven't found much to be unhappy with..." The words came out softly, a mere wisp of sound, a response appropriate to the gift. A faint blush rose to her cheeks, but she kept her gaze steady, with a touch of effort.

"I'm glad, then..." was all he said to the first, falling silent until he, too, laughed to note of his habitual apologies. "It's okay," Akira said softly, "Really. It's okay." he repeated, discarding everything that he might otherwise silently call out with or just refuse its own existence, "Please... don't think it's your fault, Master." came the affirmation next, "I'm happy that you're here. Because... you are safe."

A moment of startle, and then the slight relaxation, a faint release in tension in the shoulders and the set of her mouth, as Chiaki accepted Akira's words. "...Yes..." The affirmative came soft, some confusion, of course, and a lingering trace of distress quickly being erased, and a sort of careful calm. And over it all, just the sense of herself, vivid and alive. "I am. I still am." Of course, the minute she said it she felt foolish– he can see that she's there.

A blink and an uncertain glance down at the linked hands before her face brightened in a smile, bringing her violet gaze back up to Akira's blue pools. "I'm fine, too. Really..." And believe that. She would never admit to being anything but down once in a long while, though, so such an assurance may not really be so trustworthy. But now it is the truth. But after that, any other further possibility for conversation fled her mind, leaving her sitting dumbly, though that faint smile still hovering there unaware.

"There's nothing to worry about. Hm, Chiaki?" A change of addressing as her hand was unexpectedly granted a kiss, followed by a blush that suffused her cheeks with pink. "Everything... really seems like it's all right."

And it's nice.

She lingered for a moment, but eventually did move to stand, "Okay." and let it be only known to the blue-haired boy exactly how he'd have reacted to either way. Because you can't tell from his face if he'd be pleased or displeased or even meant something at all... best not to think about that, though.

He let her go, laughing, parting when she did and also getting to his feet. That contact lingered as he finally dropped her hand and stood up to follow her.

"Time for dinner. Granny said she would return at 8PM." Chiaki explained with a smile.

Akira's gaze questioning for a moment when she walked to the room corner and picked up a small package– things she bought from the recent excursion to the market.

"Besides, we still have to check on your shoulder again once in a while. Let's make sure it is healing well before we are back to Shikigami-Chou, ne?" Her eyes beamed nothing but deep concern as she turned her head to smile at him again, hair shifting across his shoulder and just brushing his cheek. "This is yours! Don't forget to dress properly. I'll be waiting at the lounge." Another smile as she handed him the package, and then she was gone.

Speaking of clothes, Akira immediately realized that his favorite shirt had suffered a large hole to it at the right shoulder - the damage it had sustained from the ultimate test of his former master, which made it currently unsuitable to wear in public. He was going to have to buy a new shirt. /Tomorrow,/ He thought. Now Chiaki was waiting for him for dinner, /Better hurry./ Fingers fumbled slightly around the knot, blue eyes couldn't deny an expression of surprise when his hand touched soft fabric, he rolled the package over to let out the rest of what inside, and saw a perfect replica of his damaged shirt, from the size, the expensive material to the glorious light-blue color it presented.

The young boy smiled warmly, and started to get dressed.

The End

(1): Mountain Samurai / Practitioner of Shugendou (Ascetic training amidst the mountains)

(2): Shinto Priestess / Shrine Maiden.

(3): Known as "Gozan no Okuribi" - A famous Fire Festival celebrated in Kyoto, Japan. Annually on August 16th, five giant bonfires are lit on the mountains surrounding the city of Kyoto, signifying the moment when the spirits of deceased family members, said to visit this world during the Obon, are believed to be returning to the spirit world.

iii

== Final notes ==

Perhaps some of you may wonder why I've been so deeply in love with this couple for a very long time ago. Everything has a reason.

From the start, Akira/Goki's way of expressing love is gentle, patient, and undemanding; think carefully again, Akira may be a child but he has the psychology of a 1300-year-old legendary Goki, mmn... a very old boy-man actually. ^^; Needless to say, he has been waiting for Chiaki to realize and accept him for what he's worth. As about her, in my personal view, Chiaki is too bubbly and carefree to sort out her true feelings for a guy, even if he's the one who cares for her more than himself and who loves her NOT simply because she's his "Master". They're currently the best of friends and he's her personal guardian, but she did occasionally give him a hell of surprise as when she *innocently* asked him to accompany her to the hot spring, which was possibly misinterpreted to other people as "Let us have a hot bath together.", in Vol 11. :O

Likewise, without Chiaki's acknowledgement, Akira once stated his longing to protect her has given him a second chance to live and emerged victorious after the fight against Genshirou the Illusion Weaver in Vol 10. Remember: his dead parents only helped him become aware of Goki's power and Akira was left with the most important task– awakening his hidden power, and he did, saving her timely from the scythe of Death. :'')

Too many notably hints that imply the romance between these two already, right? Chiaki has never once used the word "LOVE" on Akira/Goki, unlike what she frequently does to Zenki; however, the prospect of them falling for each other is undeniably obvious.

Btw, yesterday was my birthday so… HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY TO ME! XXDDD

:smile: Thank you all, as always, for your support is much appreciated. :bow: