Feather 6: antAGONIZING Pain

A/N: I'm back, I'll let you read the update and explain what took so long with the update. As always, I do not own the world I just love playing with the pieces.

Yukari woke up with a start, dislodging Kusano from her body. "I'm sorry, Ku, I just had a nightmare." Yukari teared up. "I'm really sorry. I don't know what to do. I almost got us all killed. I…" Kusano wrapped Yukari in her tiny little arms.

"Well, you were lucky this time. But you cannot rely on luck forever." Homura smirked as he leaned against the now open doorframe.

"Yeah… Even with your offensive powers, we barely made it out of there alive. Thankfully, you reacted to me and emerged." Yukari said with a consoling smile.

"Yes, we were lucky." Homura said noncommittally; he was still unsure of his reaction to Yukari as his chosen ashikabi.

"Thanks, Homura, without your help we would all be dead." Yukari gave the ashen haired sekirei a soft smile.

"No worries, but if you think I'm going to "experiment" with you now that I am your sekirei, you have another thing coming. And if I hear that you've taken advantage of little Kusano here, I'll burn you to a crisp."

"No, no, no. It's not like that." Yukari said, back pedaling.

"Well maybe we should clarify things now that you're accumulating more sekirei."

"Cla... clar..." Ku furrowed her brow as she struggled with the new word.

"Clarify, Ku, it means to make clear." Yukari responded patting Kusano gently on the head.

"Oh, like the window, oneesan?" Ku pointed at the window in the room. This action lightened up the mood a bit as Yukari and Homura chuckled at the little girl's innocence. Kusano pouted at their laughter which caused Yukari and Homura to laugh even harder.

Yukari pulled herself together and ruffled Kusano's golden locks. "Aw Ku, we're not making fun of you. It's just that I used the wrong words to explain the meaning of clarify. Oh, now what can I say to make things better…" Yukari sighed.

"Why don't I take her down to the kitchen and she can help me get breakfast ready while you two can discuss your new friendship." Miya said from the hallway, startling everyone in the room.

"Will the food be as yummy as the food I had last night?" Kusano said as she jumped up and headed toward Miya.

Miya chuckled. "Yes, little one, the food will be just as yummy. Now why don't we leave these two alone to talk about grown up things? Hopefully they will remember the rules of the Inn while they are talking and will refrain from doing anything naughty." Miya looked at Yukari as she said the last word.

"Naughty." Ku said as she shook a finger at Homura and Yukari. Miya laughed as she led little Kusano away, giving one last dark look at Homura and Yukari.

Yukari sighed. "I take it you are not happy with our situation."

"I don't know." Homura said honestly. "My emergence was so sudden and quite forced; I don't know what to make of it. I can say that I did feel something in your presence last night, so you are probably my destined sekirei. But I would have liked some more time to explore our relationship before getting winged. However, if I didn't emerge last night, we probably wouldn't have made it out alive."

"So you're my sekirei by default."

"Maybe, maybe not, it doesn't matter anymore. What matters is that we are bound and nothing can change that. So I will do my best to serve you. However, there will be some parameters. I am not some boy toy to be used like you do with Shiina. I will also refrain from joining you and Matsu in any 'playtime.' However, I will say that ashikabi and sekirei are tied by their bonds and the stronger they are than the stronger a sekirei's powers can be. But intimacy does not necessarily mean sex. Spending time together is a form of intimacy as long as there is a personal give and take within the occasion."

"I understand. But, how about your wings, do they not need to be strengthened?"

"Yes, and for that part of the bond to be fortified DNA exchange does need to take place. Here, have a glass of water, you look parched." Homura said as he held out a tumbler of water for Yukari.

Yukari took a few sips and returned the cup to Homura who then took a sip, careful to place his lips on the exact same space where Yukari drank from. Within seconds, flaming wings sprouted from Homura's back. "Just like intimacy, there are also several ways to exchange DNA." Homura smirked triumphantly.

"Indirect kissing…"

"You are an otaku aren't you." Homura snorted.


"Are you denying that most of your interpersonal knowledge stems from manga and anime?"


"Okay then. But you are right, indirect kissing is a way to exchange DNA to strengthen the wings of a sekirei. Nevertheless, intimacy is the best way to ensure that your sekirei matures and their powers are optimized." Homura sighed. "However, I cannot deny that sexual intercourse is the ultimate form of intimacy but it is not always the most appropriate expression of intimacy. Sexual intimacy with little Kusano would be wrong, do you agree?"

Yukari nodded. "But you are an adult…"

Homura cut her off before she could continue. "But I would not be a willing and consenting participant. Forcing a sekirei to partake in sexual intimacy without their consent actually erodes any bonds between ashikabi and sekirei. So, my powers would be minimized by any experimentation you and Matsu might have planned for me."

"So, I guess I'll just have to settle on spending time with you and maybe sharing a drink or two."

Homura nodded sagely. "Yukari, I want you to know that I do find you attractive and while I might not be ready to have sexual relations with you at the moment, however, who knows what might happen in the future. I will tell you this. I will never partake in any experiments involving Matsu. If we ever move beyond platonic intimacy, it will only be between the two of us, no third parties."

Yukari nodded in understanding. Well, there is still hope that I can bed this hot mature bishonen in front of me. And it wouldn't be so bad to have him all to myself. He'll probably be an attentive lover.

Homura left the room as a mischievous smirk spread across Yukari's face. I do not want to know what she is thinking.


After the sexual thoughts passed through Yukari's subconscious, self-doubt started to creep into her mind. I failed them last night. We could have died. If it wasn't for the emergence of Homura and the interference by that bum and the panty flash girl, we would have died and Kusano would have been forcibly winged.

Yukari laid back on her futon and contemplated these thoughts further. When she didn't come down for breakfast, Miya became concerned. Miya assigned daily chores to the residents, making sure one of the residents would look after Kusano. After that was taken care of, Miya made her way up to Yukari's room with a tray of food.

"You missed breakfast, so I thought I'd bring you up something. Are you okay, Yu-chan? Are you still upset about my scolding you last night?" Miya asked.

Yukari sat up and accepted the tray of food. She shook her head. "No, I think I deserved the scolding you gave me. I was acting like a brat. I think I still am acting like a brat. It was all fun and games and um…"

"Sex?" Miya completed Yukari's thoughts. "I know what goes on under this roof and I've let some of it slide as of late because you have all been more discrete about your activities. However, you better leave little Kusano out of your playtime fun."

Yukari raised her hands defensively. "I would never; I may be a pervert but I'm no pedophile."

"Good to hear. Now what has got you so downtrodden?"

"I don't know what to do. I now have four sekirei bonded to me and I don't know how to care for them. Like I said, it was all fun and games when it was just Shiina and Matsu, but last night…"

"Last night you saw what the sekirei plan is really about and it scared you."

Yukari nodded. "I almost got them all killed. I didn't even have a plan. If it wasn't for Homura and some bum named Seo and his S&M girls, oh, and that blonde bimbo in the frilly frock, we would have been killed and Ku might have been taken by some horrible ashikabi."

"But you didn't…" Miya stopped in mid thought. "Wait, did you say Seo?"

"Yeah, scruffy looking guy, you know him?"

Miya nodded sadly. "His help usually comes with a price."

"He did ask Homura to talk to you about some food or something." Yukari replied through a half smile.

"Figures; I guess I'll let him come around for a few meals every now and then; but back to you and your sekirei. Now that you know the full extent of sekirei plan, what are you going to do about it?"

"What can I do? Kusano's a child, so I want to keep her out of the fight for as long as possible. Shiina is powerful but his powers are too catastrophic and uncontrollable. Matsu can only give us protection as long as she has access to MBI defensive satellites and even then it's only a matter of time before they shut her down. Homura is the only one who seems to be capable in a fight. I just don't know."

"Well, if this was a war, which I would consider this to be now if I were you. What would you do with your army, your sekirei?"

"Train them?" Yukari asked.

"Yes, train them. Kusano needs to learn how to control her powers more and maybe develop ways to attack from a distance. Your bond with her and a daily activation of her norito should help in that endeavor. You can peck her on the lips or…"

"…share a glass of water." Yukari completed Miya's thought.

"I see Homura talked to you about indirect kissing. Spend time with your sekirei and 'kiss' them daily and they will learn to control their powers better. Homura told me that after you kissed Shiina, he was able to isolate his powers to a limited area in the battle last night."

Yukari nodded.

"See, that was just one instance. This can be further developed. Maybe tandem training with Ku and Shiina, Ku grows things while her norito is charged and then Shiina can wilt them under his norito. Together they can learn to control their powers better."

"I understand that. But how will that help in a fight when I have ice shards bombarding us while some chick with a scythe slashes her way toward us." Yukari cried.

"Well, maybe training them to fight without their powers might help them a little."

"What do you mean?"

"Maybe they should learn some form of martial arts or carry a weapon. Maybe you should consider training up too."

"Hmmm? Martial arts training…"

"Yes. I can train all of you if you'd like. I know you've seen me do my morning exercises with a bokken and you know I'm capable with a ladle. I would be willing to impart some of my knowledge to all of you. I want all my residents to be safe and even though I loathe fighting, if it means that my residents will live on than I will train them. I don't know about Matsu though, she's one to shy away from direct fighting."

"Maybe we should get her a tank." Yukari joked.

"Hmmm… That might not be a bad idea. Not a tank but something similar. Matsu, I know you are listening; why don't you join us?"

Without a word a ceiling tile slid open and the redheaded sekirei slid through the opening. "You'd really let Matsu get a tank, Miya?" Matsu asked hopefully.

"No, but there might be other things you might be able to acquire. You don't have much time; this city will be closed off soon, so you need to hurry." Miya looked at Yukari. "Yu-chan why don't you put your dishes away and give Matsu and me some time to talk about things that I wish to remain private."

Yukari was puzzled by this turn of events. Since she didn't want to be on the receiving end of Miya's ladle, she quietly did as she was told.

Once Miya was sure that Yukari was out of ear shot, she continued to lay out her plan to Matsu. "Remember the attack on Kamakura Island?"

Matsu nodded. "Why are you…"

"Let me finish. Besides the infantry soldiers, tanks and battleships sent out to attack us, there were other things, drones I think they were called."

Matsu caught on and her eyes brightened. "Matsu remembers those, Matsu hacked into the defensive mainframes on the battle ships and took control of them so Matsu could use them to attack the invading forces."

Miya nodded. "Maybe you can procure some of them and we can keep them here so you can send them out to assist the others. Reprogram them so they would be totally under your control so you wouldn't have to worry about some outside force like MBI shutting you down. I know you expanded the basement into a garage to hide that motorcycle of yours."

Matsu started to stammer an explanation.

"It's okay, if it wasn't I would have said something long ago. What I'm saying now is maybe you should expand it further so you can house your drones there."

"Matsu would need military grade drones, not some hobby remote controlled toys. This means I might need to hack into the Japanese military…"

"I don't know a thing. You go back up to your little computer lab and plan things out. The less I know the better. Just remember, there are only a few unwinged sekirei left and that means that Shinto Taeto will be closed off soon. So you better act fast."

Matsu leapt up into the ceiling. "I'm already on it." She said as she slid the ceiling tile back into place.

Miya left the room and joined Yukari in the kitchen. "Why don't you finish washing up the morning dishes and then we'll talk about training your sekirei. Don't worry about Matsu; I think I've given her some ideas that will help you in the future."

Yukari nodded as she continued her morning chores. She realized that she needed to grow up and do it fast. With grim determination she promised to start taking the sekirei plan more seriously. If her oniichan can become responsible so can she.


As Dr. Brackett and Minato entered the hospital they were greeted by a well-dressed man who Dr. Brackett recognized as the hospital director's assistant, Kakizaki. "Mr. Higa would like to have a word with you, Brackett-sama. You're assistant can wait at the nurses' station for you. The meeting won't take long."

Dr. Brackett nodded, sending Minato on his way toward the nurses' station before following Kakizaki toward Higa's offices. Upon entering Higa's main office, Dr. Brackett's intuition kicked in; this wasn't going to be a friendly get together.

"Ah, Brackett-san, nice of you to meet with me, please sit down. Would you like some tea? Coffee perhaps?" Higa smirked cordially, if that was even possible.

"No thank you, I'm fine." Brackett bit his tongue. He knew that Higa was setting him up before dressing him down, but Brackett would not take the bait.

"Do you know why I called you in here?"

"No Higa-sama." Dr. Brackett said remembering his Japanese etiquette.

"Well, first off I want to say that I am impressed with your work here at the hospital." Higa said with a plastered smile on his face.

"Thank you, HIga-sama." …but. Brackett continued silently.

"However, I feel you are spending too much time talking to the patients. I pride myself on running an efficient hospital, Brackett-san and that means that I do not think that fraternizing with the patients is necessary for the care of the patients."

Brackett bit his tongue and did his best to keep an impassive mask on his face, nodding politely.

"I understand things are done differently where you are from but in my hospital you are to follow my rules. So, I expect you to check the patients' charts, briefly ask how they are feeling, treat them if necessary and then leave. Do you understand?" Higa said imperiously.

Brackett nodded submissively, trying his best to hide the rage boiling inside of him.

"However, I do commend you on taking an interest the training of future physicians. This Sahashi Minato that you have following you, he's a two year ronin; yet you have taken it upon yourself to guide him towards a career in medicine. Usually, someone who failed to get into university loses their drive to pursue their career. However, you have given this kid hope, even if that hope is faint and improbable."

Brackett chose his words carefully, realizing that he was already on thin ice as far as his work at the hospital was concerned. "I respect your opinion, Higa-sama, but I disagree with your assessment. I think Sahashi-san has the potential to become a competent physician; all he needs is to build up his confidence. Working at this hospital is a perfect way to bolster that confidence so that he can pursue a career in medicine."

Higa stared at Dr. Brackett through steepled fingers. "You might be right Brackett-san, but only time will tell and you might not be here to see the fruits of your labors." Higa subtly emphasized the notion that Dr. Brackett would not be staying long at this medical facility before continuing. "However, if you feel that this Minato has some potential, why don't you have him socialize with the patients while you do your job: checking charts, diagnosing problems and treating patients?" Higa condescendingly listed Dr. Brackett's duties ensuring that Brackett knew his place within the hospital.

"That sounds like a brilliant idea." Brackett commented trying to suppress the sarcasm in his words. "It will give him more practical experience instead of observing in the background."

"And, if you are otherwise occupied, possibly with a more sensitive patient, Sahashi-san can work with a nurse or another physician or staff member. It can be a tandem operation. He can see the different aspects of medicine. In fact, I have the perfect person to assist both of you in your endeavors at this hospital" Higa pressed a button on his phone and asked his secretary to send someone in.

Dr. Brackett absorbed Higa's words warily as he considered the administrator's proposal. Higa made a good point, too good of a point. Brackett smelled a catch in this proposal; he just didn't know what those conditions may be. Unfortunately, Dr. Brackett was not in the position to investigate the matter further in fear of looking suspicious of the administrator's motivations. He just had no choice but to agree to Higa's proposal and hope that whatever ulterior motives that Higa may have would be inconsequential towards Minato's work at the hospital.

Dr. Brackett's contemplations were interrupted when the door to Higa's office opened as a stunningly beautiful redheaded woman stepped into the room. When Dr. Brackett surveyed the redhead he became more suspicious of Higa's actions. What were the chances that there would be two Westerners working in the same foreign hospital and was it mere happenstance that Higa chose this Westerner to assist Minato with his medical training. There were too many coincidences in HIga's machinations for this to be an innocent gesture on HIga's part. Dr. Brackett needed to be wary as he continued his work in this hospital, not just for his own situation but Minato's as well. Minato just became a pawn in Higa's personal game of chess and Dr. Brackett did not like it one bit.

Suppressing his inner dialogue, Dr. Brackett masked his suspicions with an air of approval of Higa's ideas. "That is a wonderful idea and you chose a Western doctor as well. So even when my duties might keep me from mentoring Sahashi-san personally, he will still get some cross cultural education from Ms…" Dr. Brackett paused as he waited for an introduction to the redheaded stranger.

"Dr. Kimber Walsh." Emphasizing her title as she proffered a hand to Dr. Brackett who took it in his and gave it a firm but gentle shake.

Dr. Brackett smiled apologetically while inwardly he sneered at the young redhead. "I'm sorry Dr. Walsh, I did not mean to make assumptions about your position here at the hospital."

Higa laughed at the exchange, observing the malcontent between the two physicians, this will help his plans immensely. "I should be the one apologizing since I did not introduce Dr. Walsh the moment she came in. Now why don't we sit down so we can discuss Sahashi Minato's apprenticeship in a more civil manner."


Minato felt rather uncomfortable standing at the nurses' station without nothing to do. He could start his own set of rounds, talking to the patients he had a decent rapport with. However, he was not a physician, he wasn't even a nurse; he was just a guest at this hospital under the auspices of Dr. Brackett.

He could see if Uzume was here. Uzume… No, that would only bring him down and he would be even more uncomfortable than he was now. With a sigh, Minato pushed all thoughts of the busty brunette out of his mind.

As Minato was brooding over his situation, the scent of fresh coffee wafted through his nostrils. He looked down and saw a steaming hot cup of coffee gently swaying under his nose. Minato followed the hand that held the coffee cup, trailing along the line of a well-toned fair-skinned arm, finally he found himself face to face with a redheaded beauty. The redhead smiled softly as she pushed the coffee cup into his hands. Returning the smile, Minato took the coffee and brought it up to his lips for a sip.

Ever since that day when the redhead first offered Minato a cup of coffee, their meetings started to become regular occurrences. Their interactions would vary depending on their schedules. If they were both on a break, they would chat about nothing in particular. However, if Minato caught her in the middle of a task, she would drag him along if she could. Usually, these tasks were minor chores doctors and nurses did while treating patients. Through this, Minato learned how to update the patient board as well as navigate through some of the minor paperwork that cluttered the nurses' station.

Today was a slow day, so they sipped their coffee and chatted for a while. Their break didn't last long because Kimber was soon pulled into the meeting with Higa-sama and Dr. Brackett, leaving Minato alone once again, brooding over his empty cup of coffee.

Minato soon grew tired of waiting for the meeting to end. So Minato set the empty cup down and looked over the patient room assignments for the level he was on. Recognizing one of the names as a patient Minato frequented while on rounds with Dr. Brackett, Minato made up his mind and walked toward her room.

This patient was one of the few patients that truly welcomed his visits when he made rounds with Dr. Brackett. She was also a person that Minato could relate too, both unsure of what tomorrow might bring. The only difference was that Minato had a choice in the direction his life took. Chiho didn't, she was stuck praying for that miracle cure that might alleviate her pain.

It had been a while since Minato visited Chiho. Her condition had worsened recently and only acting physicians, nurses, close family and friends were allowed to visit her room. Since, Minato was neither of the above; Minato was left to his own devices while Dr. Brackett checked in on her while making his rounds of the hospital. However, Chiho's name was highlighted in green on the roster board so that meant that she was no longer isolated from visitors.

As he neared Chiho's room, Minato could hear her laughing and talking with someone. Not wanting to intrude on the conversation, Minato carefully poked his head into Chiho's room. He froze for a second as his eyes were drawn to the brown haired beauty that sat at the foot of the bed. Minato's heart sank a bit and he prepared to withdraw from the room when Chiho called out, "Minato-san! I was hoping you would stop by now that I'm allowed visitors again."

Minato gave a small smile as he tenuously walked into the room. Bowing slightly to Uzume, Minato straightened up and fixed a pleasant smile on his face as he turned to Chiho. "How's my favorite blonde bombshell!"

"Better now that two of my most favorite people have dropped by for a visit." Chiho smiled. "Minato-san, this is my…" Chiho tried to describe their relationship without revealing too many secrets "closest friend, Uzume."

Uzume gave Minato a small smile and bowed. "Actually, Chi-chan, Minato-san and I already know each other."

Minato's smile faded a bit at hearing the friendly yet slightly less intimate honorific that Uzume used to address him. However, he could tell by the atmosphere in the room that Uzume and Chiho were closer than friends. From this, Minato was able to deduce that Chiho was the object of Uzume's affection. At this, Minato's smile brightened up a bit. After all, in the short time he worked for Dr. Brackett he too became fond of the bedridden blond before them.

"Oh… Should I be jealous?" Chiho's comments snapped the emotionally conflicted pair out of their respective reveries. Chiho laughed as she pushed through their discomfort. "I mean, Uzu-chan is quite a looker, I can't have her stealing you away from me. You are my physician after all."

Minato was the first to recover from Chiho's initial comment. "I am not your attending physician, I am just his assistant. I don't even know if I'm that anymore. Dr. Brackett was just called into a meeting with the administrator of this hospital and I have a feeling that my presence here is the subject of their conversation."

"No!" Both Chiho and Uzume cried out in unison.

This brought a smile to Minato's face. "I just visit patients; I don't diagnose or treat, so I'm not essential to the function of this hospital."

"Minato-kun, you're very important to this hospital. Some of the patients are not as lucky as I am to have regular visitors like Uzu-chan. And even those that do, still need further human interaction to help cope with their situation. You provide solace and comfort to the patients, which is powerful medicine in its own right. Dr. Brackett tries, but I think the administrators have discouraged him from becoming too personal with his patients. This is why I think he chose to start bringing you along with him. I hope you're wrong about what you said, because if you left, this hospital would be a sadder place for it."

"Right you are, Hidaka-san," Dr. Brackett said as he entered the room followed by a familiar redhead. "And thankfully Higa-sama agreed to an extent." Uzume shivered slightly when she heard Higa's name but quickly recovered. "So, you're stuck with Sahashi-san for a little while longer. He will be splitting his time between me and this lovely lady right here." Dr. Brackett gestured to the redhead at his side.

Kimber's entrance brought about mixed reactions from those in the room. Dr. Brackett was resigned to the fact that his actions at this facility were now closely being monitored by someone hand-picked by Higa. Uzume's face was a pleasant mask that barely hid the seething jealousy underneath. Chiho was rather indifferent towards Kimber, but she could tell that Uzume did not like the newcomer and that gave her pause to reconsider her assessment of the redheaded newcomer. Minato was happy that he could continue working at the hospital and that he was also paired with Kimber, someone he was starting to develop a close friendship with. As they all chatted about the new arrangement, Higa looked on with a satisfied smirk; all the pieces were back into place and he was in control again.


Dr. Brackett ushered Minato out of Chiho's room and into the hallway in order to debrief Minato on the new arrangements. "I'm sorry Minato-san about this abrupt change of procedures. Apparently, Higa-sama was not pleased that I let you wander the hospital on your own. He preferred that, as an assistant, you have someone to assist. Now, normally I would have brought in my wife to be your chaperone, however you know full well that the language barrier would be too large a gap for her to cross. Fortunately," Dr. Brackett let a bit of sarcasm into his voice. "Higa-sama already had someone in mind to be your guide, Dr. Kimber Walsh." Brackett gestured at the redhead on the other side of the door.

Minato waved away Dr. Brackett's apology. "It's no problem Brackett-sama, she's quite friendly. She's kept me company whenever I find myself at the nurses' station."

"So you've already met Dr. Walsh?" Dr. Brackett said as his mind started to work things out. It just seemed a little too convenient that the person Higa picked out to accompany Minato was someone that already had a passing familiarity with Minato. It could be coincidence, but there was something in Higa's attitude that hinted that he had plans that involved Minato: plans that Dr. Brackett was not comfortable with. However, he didn't have any proof of misdeeds or manipulation so he cannot start making accusations. The best he could do was to keep a close eye on Dr. Walsh and Minato.

"Are you okay, Brackett-sama?" Minato asked after Dr. Brackett ignored his nod of assent at his question about his familiarity with Dr. Walsh.

Dr. Brackett shook his head to clear his suspicious mind and smiled warmly at Minato. "I'm fine Sahashi-san, just overanalyzing some things."

"Oh?" Minato said with piqued curiosity.

"Nothing to worry about, Sahashi-san, just the ramblings of an aging doctor. I'm going to pop back into the room and check on Hidaka-san. I'll send Dr. Walsh out and you two can start working out a routine."

Minato nodded as he wondered what Dr. Brackett was so concerned about. He didn't have time to dwell on those thoughts because Kimber exited Chiho's room, grabbed Minato's hand and quickly pulled him down the hallway toward their first patient.

Dr. Walsh looked back at the surprised Minato and winked, "Don't worry; I'll take real good care of you." She chuckled as they entered a patient's room.

Minato smiled to himself. Well, this will be a different experience than Brackett-sama's tutelage.


Once Minato and all the doctors left Chiho's room, an uncomfortable silence crept in between the two women. Chiho was the first to speak up. "So, Dr. Walsh seems nice."

Uzume nodded noncommittally.

After another bout of uncomfortable silence, Chiho spoke again. "You like him don't you." It was a declaration of fact, not a question.

Uzume gave her ashikabi a sad smile and nodded.

"It's a shame that I saw him first." Chiho chuckled trying to break the tension in the room.

"You're not mad?" Uzume said in a soft voice.

"Why should I be mad? He's a hot guy and as far as I'm concerned, he's fair game. Then again, we could share him." Chiho said with a wink.

"But..." A whirlwind of emotions was ripping through Uzume's head.

"Don't tell me that that thought didn't cross your mind?" Chiho smirked at her sekirei. "When I winged you, you told me that sekirei are polygamous in nature, right?"

Uzume nodded. "For the most part, however, there are some that take the bond seriously and become possessive.

"Are you saying that you are becoming possessive?" Chiho asked sagely.

"No, but I do take our bond seriously, Chi-chan. I love you and would never do anything to hurt you or to endanger our relationship."

"And you think that having feelings for Minato-kun is a betrayal of our relationship?" Chiho sighed. "This wouldn't have anything to do with me being an invalid, would it?"

"What! No!" Uzume exclaimed defensively.

Chiho opened her arms and beckoned Uzume, who gently laid down on the bed and leaned into the warm embrace of her ashikabi. "Uzume, I love you, more than anything, and I know that you love me just as much. However, while two girls can have a great time in bed together, there is something about intimacy with a man that can be special on a different level. I would never fault you for being attracted to a man, especially one like Minato."

"But…" Uzume started again; Chiho quickly shushed her with a gentle finger on the brunette's lips.

"If I was healthy and out of this hospital bed and I said that I wanted to bring Minato into our bedroom, would you be against it?" Chiho asked point blankly.

"No…" Uzume responded quietly.

"Now, Minato can only grant so much attention during acts of intimacy and while he could pleasure us both simultaneously, one of us will always get just little more attention than the other. That is the nature of things. So, if we both love the man, what would be the difference if we shared him in bed, where he would still split his time between the two of us, or if one of us decided to be selfish and monopolize the man's attention. It would still leave one of us alone; however there would be more of an understanding between all involved. Now, I'm just throwing out scenarios. I'm not saying that we're going to pull Minato into our bed the next time he visits. I just don't want you to feel guilty for having feelings for the man. If you want to pursue your feelings with Minato, just tell me."

"I don't know anymore."

"Well, if you're not going to snap him up, would you mind if I went after him."

"You're serious, aren't you?" Uzume sat up in bed and looked at her ashikabi in amazement.

"What?! He's a hot guy and while I enjoy your cosplay, Minato's lab coat…" Chiho closed her eyes as her lips curled into a sultry smile.

Uzume pulled the pillow from underneath Chiho's head and smacked her with it. "I didn't know my ashikabi was such a horn dog."

Chiho giggled. "Now if we can just get that redheaded seductress out of our way."

Uzume sobered up. "I don't know. She seems to be really into him." Uzume stated with a little venom in her voice.

"You don't like her." Again, Chiho declared her thoughts instead of inquiring about them.

"Maybe I'm just a little jealous. Then again, my judgment might be cloudy because I think I pushed them on each other."

"How so?" Chiho said with a raise of an eyebrow.

"A few nights ago, I was talking to Minato and told him that I was involved and that we couldn't have a future." Uzume sighed. "This was before I knew that you were such a horn dog and would welcome him into our bedroom with open arms."

"And you're supposed to be the mature one in this relationship." Chiho scoffed. "Maybe you should have talked it over with me first before pushing him into the arms of another woman."

"Well, it's too late now." Uzume said in resignation.

"Who says?" Chiho retorted with determination.

"I don't want to play with his emotions, Chiho. One minute I'm pushing him away, than the next I'm all over him because my girlfriend wants to have a ménage a trois. If that doesn't screw with his head, I don't know what will."

Chiho nodded. "Well, if it's meant to be, who are we to stop it. Then again, if she breaks his heart, we can always be the ones to pick up the pieces."

"Why don't you concentrate on getting better before thinking of playing doctor with Minato-kun." Uzume chuckled.

"I'm sure he gives great examinations."

Uzume swatted her ashikabi with the pillow once more. "Horn dog."


The heightened activity of the afternoon was a little too much for Chiho, so Uzume tucked her ashikabi in for the evening. The two shared a passionate kiss which bathed the room in bright white light as Uzume's wings flared behind her. With one final chaste kiss, Uzume exited the hospital room.

Uzume was making her way down the corridor when a familiar voice called out to her. She turned around and smiled as Minato jogged down the hall to meet her. Uzume chuckled to herself as Minato closed the gap. "What's the hurry, Minato-kun?"

"I just wanted to catch you before you left, Uzu-chan." Minato continued hesitantly.

Uzume smiled. "So, how's the new boss-lady?"

Minato laughed. "She's fun. She has a different approach from Brackett-sama, but I'm still learning quite a bit. I feel like my tutelage as a physician's assistant has become more comprehensive. It doesn't hurt that she's easy on the eyes." Minato smirked.

"So, you two are getting along well then?"

Minato nodded.

"I'm glad. I have no doubt that you will make a wonderful doctor someday."

"I happen to agree with that sentiment, especially now that I am one of his mentors." A feminine voice stated as a familiar redhead sidled up next to Minato. She presented her hand to Uzume as she proceeded to introduce herself. "Walsh Kimber."

"It's nice to meet you Kim-san. You have an excellent pupil there. He's already charmed my friend Chiho and several other patients already."

"Yes, he's quite the charmer, and he's a quick learner as well. Speaking of which, we're needed at the nurses' station. I'm going to show you how to set up rosters and room assignments. It's easy on this level since it's a stable ward. The next step will be the ER; if you can navigate through the rosters and patients in the emergency room, you can manage any hospital ward." Kimber said as she tugged at Minato's hand.

"I guess it's true what they say, no rest for the weary." Minato chuckled as he let Kimber lead him back to the nurses' station. "I'll see you around Uzu-chan. Take care of yourself and tell oneesan I said hi. Maybe I'll stop by for dinner this weekend."

Uzume nodded as she watched Minato walk away hand in hand with the redheaded physician. "They look good together, don't they, Uzume?" The buxom brunette turned around and found herself face to face with a well-dressed man brandishing a file folder.

"What do you want Kakizaki?" Uzume snapped, never taking her eyes off of the couple walking down the hall.

"Tut tut, Uzume, we wouldn't want Chiho's funding and care to be discontinued, now would we?" Kakizaki sneered.

Uzume frowned. "There can be only one reason for you to talk to me, so can we get this over with?"

Kakizaki handed Uzume the file folder. "Here's a list of new assignments. Continue to eliminate sekirei and Chiho will continue to receive care." Kakizaki smirked. "Oh, and don't worry about Minato, he's in good hands. Higa picked out his new partner himself." With those words, Kakizaki walked away, leaving Uzume glaring at the redhead working the nurses' station.

Uzume sighed as she watched Kimber talking and laughing with Minato. Higa now controlled the fates of two people she cared about. Uzume flipped through the file folder and selected a target. How many more people will get hurt because of this stupid game? With that, Uzume retreated from the hospital and started hunting down sekirei.

A/N: First off I would like to apologize for the length of time between updates. Things at work picked up and I found myself really busy. That combined with ongoing family issues, writing progressed slowly. I would especially like to apologize to DanTheJIGGERMAN, if he's still out there and hasn't left yet, I'm sorry I know I said that I would try and update faster but things didn't work that way. To some of you who might think that this story is dead, it's not. It's very much alive, it just likes to take long naps between updates. To the rest of my readers, thank you for being patient. This chapter was hard to write, mainly because it was an expository chapter and not as quick paced as some of my other chapters. It's an important chapter but not as much fun to write as the witty banter between Minato and the sekireis.

Next, I would like to briefly address some of your concerns about me giving Yukari all of the sekirei while Minato has yet to wing one. This is all part of the story, it's AU, and things are very different. Minato's not a meek push-over and Musabi didn't fall on his lap. Because of that, his acquisition of sekirei has been impeded. I needed someone to step up and wing the other sekirei, I couldn't kill them all off like I did Musubi, so I gave them to Yukari. It will hopefully make sense in the end. Don't worry, while she will grow up some under Miya's tutelage, she will still be an insufferable brat toward Minato and to an extent Uzume. It's just how she is. Also, since Minato's no longer facing the wrath of Miya's ladle, someone has to replace him as a whacking target. Just try and be a little patient and hopefully you will be rewarded.

I will make no promises as to when I will make my next update. I will just say that I will try to update sooner rather than later. Things are starting to pick up in the narrative and we are about two chapters away from Minato finally acquiring a sekirei. So, I'm excited about writing, because this is my favorite part of my story, even though I haven't written it yet.

Finally, I would like to say thank you for the reviews, I haven't been able to respond to all of them but I just want you to know that they are still greatly appreciated. So continue to read and review and remember, I love constructive criticism and delete flames with a click of a mouse, so think before you comment.