Author's Note: Just another little one-shot. I plan on putting up another chapter for Red Thread next here soon.

I do not own City Hunter or any of its characters.

Thank you to everyone who reads/favorites/reviews this. It is always appreciated.

The Mysteries of Strength: Ryo's Secret Power?

It had been another mostly uneventful day at the Cat's Eye Café. Umibozu had gone to run some errands, and Kasumi and Miki were passing the time with cleaning and casual chit-chat when their conversation took a new turn.

"Miki-san, how does Saeba-san do it?" Kasumi asked her. Miki's eyes grew wide and she almost broke the glass that she was holding in her hand.

"How should I know?" Miki she said, her face turning red. "There's no way I'd let that mokkori pervert…." Kasumi held up her hands, her own cheeks turning scarlet.

"No no, Miki-san, that's not what I mean," she said. "I mean…Saeba-san, he's faced some of the toughest, most skilled members of the underground. How is it that he's managed to defeat all of them, time and time again?" Miki visibly relaxed and sat the glass down.

"Well, Saeba-san is incredibly skilled," Miki said. "I know he would never admit it out loud, but I am sure that Falcon considers him to be one of the best in the world next to him."

"Yes, but…" Kasumi paused and looked down on the counter and leaned forward, resting her arms against it.

"Is it just skill?" she continued. "After all, I had heard that some of his opponents, like his old friend, Robert Harrison, were equal to him as far as skill goes. Or what about Michael Gallant? I heard that he had actually trained Umibozu-san when it comes to traps. How was Saeba-san still able to win against people like that?"

"I…I don't know," Miki said, bowing her head. "I suppose you could say that it's luck…but then again, luck wouldn't explain all of that, would it?"

Both Miki and Kasumi moved to sit down on the stools facing the counter.

"I suppose that I hadn't thought about it before you mentioned it just now," Miki continued. "I just assume at this point that Saeba-san won't lose, much like how I believe that Falcon will not lose. I believe in it as sure as I believe in myself."

"I know what you mean, Miki-san," Kasumi nodded. "I know that I feel the same way about both of them." There was a moment of silence before she spoke again.

"I don't usually think about things like this," she continued. "But earlier today I started to think…what if Saeba-san comes up against someone even more skilled than him? What if his luck starts to run out? I know first-hand that working in the underworld is dangerous and that lives can end in an instant. I keep thinking that one day, Saeba-san…that he could…."

Kasumi lowered her head again, unable to continue her sentence. She didn't need to, however, because Miki was thinking the same thing: that one day Ryo could be killed in the course of his work. It was a fear she sometimes felt for Falcon too, but she usually managed to handle it by reminding herself that she was a capable partner who could make sure that he got the support he needed.

Seeing Miki's downcast expression made Kasumi worry even more.

'Kaori-san is a strong woman, but she is still learning, still an amateur,' Kasumi thought to herself. 'What if…what if Saeba-san comes up against something that he can't handle on his own? So many people would like to be the one who could say that they were the one who brought down the infamous City Hunter. Will Saeba-san be able to continue to battle all of them and still survive?'

"Hey, Miki-chan, Kasumi-chan!"

Both Miki and Kasumi looked up. They had both been so lost in thought that neither of them noticed the ring of the bell as the door opened and Ryo and Kaori stepped inside. Miki and Kasumi then got up and moved back behind the counter.

"Ah, Saeba-san, Kaori-san," Miki smiled at the two of them. "How are the two of you today?"

"Ah, fine," Kaori smiled back. "Although…we would be better if this lazy oaf could get a job."

"It's not my fault that we don't have any work," Ryo harrumphed as he sat down on a stool at the counter.

"What are you saying?" Kaori asked, her face turning red. "You're the one who kept chasing women while you were supposed to be helping me hand out flyers."

"I told you, my pride as a sweeper won't let me hand out flyers," Ryo replied. "Besides, you're the one who won't let me accept any jobs from women. That policy of yours severely limits our client pool."

"Maybe if you didn't try to mokkori every woman you see, I wouldn't have to have that restriction," Kaori said, her hands clenching into fists.

"Actually, that's not true," Ryo said, holding up a finger. "I do not try to mokkori every woman I see. Just the beautiful ones."

"Then why haven't you tried to mokkori me?" Kaori shouted at him. As soon as the words left her lips, however, her face became beet red…and this time it was not from anger. There was an awkward silence until Ryo leaned toward her.

"The answer is simple, Kaori-kun," he said. "I don't mokkori with men." Kaori's embarrassment immediately vanished and in its place were anger and another one hundred ton hammer in her hands.

"Ryo!" she shouted as she began to swing the hammer around. Ryo's eyes grew and he jumped up from his chair.

"Wait…wait, Kaori-chan," he spluttered as he backed away.

Kaori was past listening, however, and tried to bring the hammer down onto him, but missed as he darted to the side.

"Hold still!" she shouted at him. But Ryo continued to weave and dodge her attempted blows.

Miki and Kasumi watched this scene play out in front of them with bemused, but weary expressions. They had both seen it many times before, and by this point, the two of them simply hoped that there wouldn't be much in the way of damage to the café.

"Miki-san," Kasumi sighed. "I still don't understand how Saeba-san continues to defeat all of the people who challenge him. I mean, look at him: he's the most irresponsible, frivolous man in the world."

"That is only the surface."

Both Miki and Kasumi gasped and whirled around to find Umibozu standing behind them.

"Falcon," Miki said. "You know better than any of us what kind of person Saeba-san is."

"That is true," Umibozu nodded. "And that is why I know this." He then walked over closer to Kasumi and looked down at her. His piercing eyes were mostly hidden by his sunglasses, but Kasumi could feel them looking at her just the same.

"The reason Ryo has been able to defeat his enemies is because he is smart and skilled," he continued. "But it's also because of the partner he has now."

"Kaori-san?" Kasumi said. "But, but she is an amateur."

"That is also true," Umibozu nodded. "Her skills are not truly suited for the underground or this kind of work. And Ryo knows this. However…." Umibozu leaned against the back wall and crossed his arms across his chest."

"All of these people who have challenged Ryo: Robert Harrison, Michael Gallant…they were all trying to prove themselves to be the number one professional of the underground," he added. "It has never been about that for Ryo. He has no need to prove his status. For him, it's about protecting his clients…and protecting the people closest to him."

"I don't understand," Kasumi said. "If that's true, if Saeba-san is always having to protect Kaori-san, how does that make him able to win? How can she help him?"

"By being his partner… by being more than his partner," Umibozu said. "While her skills are not ideal, her strength is. It is this strength that Ryo draws from in his battles." Umibozu bowed his head slightly, his voice lowering.

"A reason to live, someone to protect, a person's belief, care, and trust in someone else," he said. "These things give a man strength that goes beyond physical abilities or skill. They are things that can give a man the strength to overcome any obstacle or odds. Ryo does not lose against his enemies because he has these things."

"Ah, of course," Miki beamed. "And it makes sense that you would know this because that's how it is for us, right Falcon? You're my partner, and I know that you won't lose because we have each other."

"That's…." Umibozu started. He was unable to get the rest of his words out, however due to his entire head turning bright red and wisps of steam rising upward. He then swallowed hard and turned his head away while putting his apron back on.

"Besides, the only one who can take Ryo down is me," he smirked defiantly. There was a loud thud as one of Kaori's swings hit its target, and Umibozu frowned and walked closer to the counter.

"Hey, if you are going to destroy him, do it outside!" he bellowed at Kaori. "I do not want any more damage to the café."

"Ah, sorry, Umibozu-san," Kaori said sheepishly. Ryo stuck out his tongue at him in response.

"Hey, Octopus-Head, you just don't want me in here spending time with Miki-chan and Kasumi-chan," Ryo fired back. "Because the more they see of me, the more they realize that they are being enslaved by a cruel beast."

"Who is a beast, you mokkori pervert?" Umibozu shouted back as he left the counter and started to walk toward Ryo.

"I think that should be obvious by now, don't you, Umi-chan?" Ryo teased. Umibozu's face twisted into a snarl as he reached over to grab him. But Ryo proved to be too quick and another chase ensued.

"Come here, and I will show you who the beast is."

"Ha! All I have to do is find some kittens and then you'll be totally helpless. After that, I can to mokkori with Miki-chan all I want."

"Shut up! Or I will tell Kaori about all of the perverted things you've been talking about around here."

"You would do that? And here I tried to consider you a friend."

In the midst of this, Kaori's eyes began to glitter with renewed anger and her hands gripped the handle of her hammer even tighter. She then began to chase Ryo as well.

"Ryo! What have you been saying to him?"

Miki and Kasumi watched the chase and made sure to dodge the debris that was flying about. Miki's exasperated expression had returned, but Kasumi began to smile.

'Strength that goes beyond physical ability or skill,' she thought to herself. 'That must be part of what love is. That must be Saeba-san's secret power and the reason why he never loses, despite all of the dangers and challenges that he faces.'

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Ryo screaming as Kaori's hammer found its mark and slammed him into the floor. Kasumi shook her head.

'Still, I doubt that any secret powers will get him out of this one.' She then laughed and began to help Miki clean up the mess that had been created by the fracas.