Disclaimer: I don't own a thing! Lol I just couldn't sleep and came up with this little one shot Fluffest! Enjoy and please let me know what you think!

The Pachinko Ball

Ryoko stared down at the shiny silver object in her palm. The cold metal felt wonderful compared to the scorching summer heat. Ryoko sighed and shoved the pachinko ball deep into her pocket. She had carried it with her since the day Ringo gave it to her.

FLASHBACK

"Ryoko!" Ringo called cheerfully. She threw her arms around her friend's neck.

"Calm down Ringo! I'm fine." Ryoko said, making no move to push Ringo away.

"I'm just so glad that monster Shiro didn't hurt you!" Ringo replied. She finally relinquished her death grip on Ryoko and took the chair next to her. She twiddled her fingers for a moment then pulled something from her pocket.

"Ringo, what's that?" Ryoko asked. Ringo smiled and handed her the silver pachinko ball.

"I've been meaning to give you this for a while." She smiled at Ryoko's slightly puzzled, slightly annoyed, glance. "This was the first pachinko ball Morino-kun ever fired in order to protect you."

END OF FLASHBACK

Ryoko had decided a while back that Ryoushi was someone important to her. She had made that somewhat clear when she confessed that she didn't 'dislike' him. From that moment on she had been wondering if she was really capable of trusting anyone again. Most often she came to the conclusion that it was impossible. She thought that she was too damaged, too broken to ever really be able to let someone in again.

Then Ryoko had remembered the little pachinko ball. All that time ago Ryoushi had risked everything to save her. Every time she was in trouble Ryoushi was right there. He had proven over and over again that he wouldn't hurt her and that he would always be there. And all this time she had been nothing but standoffish and cold to him.

That morning when Ryoko had put the pachinko ball in her pocket, as she did every morning, she decided to change all that. She wanted to try her best to at least let him know that she cared. She had been told by a few people that her actions may push him away. On the outside she had laughed it off but on the inside she had taken it straight to heart. Today was going to be different. She was going to try her best and open up to him.

Ryoko waited by the entrance to the school. She was so nervous she felt like just calling it quits and making a break for the gym but Ryoushi came around the corner.

"Good morning Ryoko-san!" Ryoushi called in his usual upbeat manner.

"Good morning….Ry-ry-oushi-san." Ryoko choked out. This wasn't the first time she had said his name, but this was the first time she had said it under normal circumstances. All the other times she had screamed his name in life or death situations. Why was it so difficult now? She swiftly turned on her heal and started marching toward the main doors. Ryoushi was left standing at the gate, eyes wide, mouth gaping.

At lunch Ringo could feel the new tension in the air. She peered at the pair across Ryoko's desk and spoke very little, leaving Ryoushi and Ryoko to make all of the conversation.

"So, that math test was terrible. Did you do ok Ryoko-san?" Ryoushi asked. He smiled at her and she blushed three shades of red. Ringo smiled devilishly and took a large bit from her sandwich.

"Fair, I think." Ryoko replied. Her eyes were half closed and she was sipping her favorite tea. On the outside she appeared to be completely calm, but on the inside she was painfully aware of how close Ryoushi was. He usually brought up a chair to the side of Ryoko's desk and used it as a makeshift table for his lunch. Today he was angled so far toward Ryoko that their legs brushed up against each other every now and again.

"Well, I have some papers to hand in to the teacher." Ringo said with a smile. She left the two and headed for the hall way. Ryoko looked around and suddenly noticed that the class room was completely empty. There was no way she could stay this close to Ryoushi with no one around. She fidgeted in her seat and Ryoushi shot her a quizzical glance.

"Ryoko-san?" He asked. "Is there something wrong?" She dared to look him in the eye for the first time in a long time. His emerald eyes were full of concern, and something else that she didn't recognize. For a moment she was lost in the deep sea of green. When the light hit just right she saw distinct flecks of gold. She expected at any moment he would shrink from her gaze and cower in the floor, but he didn't.

"How? Why don't you?" She mused aloud. He shook his head and smiled.

"I don't mind, when you look at me. Only you though." He said looking down at his shoes. Ryoko sat there awestruck. He had even defeated his biggest fear, all for her. A small sound of disbelief escaped her lips. Ryoushi, feeling brave, met her gaze again. He reached out and brushed a strand of hair behind her ear, letting his hand linger for a moment. When he took his hand away she was amazed by just how much she missed his touch.

The atmosphere was shattered when the lunch bell sounded and all the students started filing back into class. Ryoko spent the rest of class trying to keep a deep red blush from forming on her cheeks. When classes were over everyone was supposed to report to the Otogi Bank headquarters but Ryoko was finding it difficult to go inside. She leaned against a tall sturdy tree that grew just a few feet from headquarters. Her mind was still reeling from Ryoushi's touch. She took the pachinko ball from her pocket and cursed at it. She wondered how it was even possible for one little hunk of metal to cause so much confusion.

"What's that?" Ryoushi asked. He took the ball from Ryoko's palm and examined it. "This is one of mine." He said. Ryoko snatched the ball and held it protectively against her chest.

"Ringo gave it to me." She stated firmly. She really didn't know why she was acting so defensively.

"I have tons of them. You can have as many as you like." He said scratching the back of his head wondering just exactly why she would want them.

"No!" Ryoko replied roughly. She turned away from him and headed for the Bank. Ryoushi stood next to the tree and tried to process her peculiar behavior. It was just a pachinko ball, wasn't it?

"It may seem like just an ordinary pachinko ball, but it's not." Liszt said, causing Ryoushi to jump. "I overheard Ringo giving the ball to Okami-san. It has special significance to her because it was the first pachinko ball you shot in order to protect her. She probably thought you were taking it away from her." He smiled and patted Ryoushi on the shoulder.

"Thank you President." Ryoushi replied. He then ran for the door of the Bank. When he reached the bottom of the stairs he saw that the only person in the room was Ryoko. He said a silent thank you to the President and made his way over to her. He sat on the couch next to her and paid special attention to the shiny silver ball still tightly clenched in her fist.

"Where is everyone?" She growled. He ignored her question and began with a question of his own.

"Why do you carry that pachinko ball with you?" Ryoushi, feeling brave, looked her straight in the eye.

"Ringo gave it to me." She said, crossing her arms and inching away from him.

"Why did Ringo give it to you? It's just a useless pachinko ball. I have hundreds of them." He said, deliberately trying to push her buttons.

"It is not useless!" She yelled. She stared at him now, eyes blazing.

"Why?" He asked, inching closer to her.

"Be-because." She stammered. Ryoushi realized that his questioning was making her feel trapped, and that was the last thing he wanted to do to her, so he backed away.

"It's ok." He began, "I know why you have it, and to be honest I'm…happy. I'm so happy that you would think enough of me to keep it." He smiled at her and rubbed the back of his neck. When she didn't say anything his heart hit the floor. He cast his glance to the floor and sighed. He was about to get up when he felt her lean toward him. She laid her head on his shoulder and wrapped her arms around his.

"Thank you Ryoushi." Ryoko said, lifting her head to stare into his eyes. He used his free hand to cup her cheek and draw her closer. After a few seconds of needless hesitation to assure Ryoko wasn't afraid, Ryoushi leaned down and pressed his lips to hers.