Disclaimer: I do not own Shaman King / Flowers or any of its characters.
There was sound of breaking glass, as the light blue vase shattered against the wall of the Funbari Onsen. It was a cold winter day, but the pink haired young woman out in the snow only wore her high school uniform. She stood slumped over panting, tears running down her cheeks. With a scream she launched another vase at the building. There was a wail from inside the house of the child which had been left in her care without any warning.
The young woman was reaching for the next victim, when a warm firm hand seized her wrist. She looked up into the eyes of a large black haired man with a strange coif. He slowly shook his head. She let out another scream and tried to break free of his grip, but he only pulled her close to him. She bit him, but he only stroked her hair. Then she finally collapsed in a fit of tears, and he picked her up, carried her inside, and made her a glass of hot chocolate.
Tamao Tamamura sat at the table, a book full of numbers and calculator in front of her. Her pink hair was pulled back in a bun; it made it easier to concentrate on the accounting. Above her she could hear the sound of her eleven year-old ward, Hana, walking around. It had been nine years since he had been left in her care. At that time she was only fifteen years old and had also just lost her master in a car accident. The strong memory made her eyes burn. She quickly wiped them and continued on with her work.
There was the sound of someone entering through the inn's back door, and the sound of shopping bags filled the room.
"I'm home," called a man's voice.
Tamao didn't even look up from her work for a second. She knew exactly who it was. A few moments later a dark haired man, whose doo vaguely resembled a cannon, entered carrying two grocery bags. He smiled and handed the woman a long receipt.
"Thank you Ryu," Tamao said, carefully placing the receipt in a file folder.
"It's nothing Mistress Tamao," he replied cheerily.
As Tamao continued working on the books, Ryu glanced around the room awkwardly. Then he cleared his throat and placed the two bags on the table. The woman looked up from her calculations.
"What is this?" she asked, noticing the neck of a glass bottle sticking out of the top of one of the bags.
The man rubbed the back of his neck and turned away, noticeably uncomfortable. He cleared his throat and looked down at the bags. Tamao could see he was blushing a bit.
"Well," he explained. "You have been working on the taxes all day and figured you could use a break, so I bought you a bottle of sake and, you know, a six pack of beer. No big deal, just whenever you get to a good stopping point, you should relax."
She raised her eyebrows at him then turned her attention to the bags. She riffled through the first bag, pulling out a six-pack of German import beer. Then she pulled out the sake bottle and studied the label carefully. It was her favorite brand. She looked up at the Ryu who averted his gaze quickly. She let out a sigh and stood up, holding the six-pack in one hand and the sake in the other.
"Come on," She muttered as she headed towards the kitchen. "It's bad luck to drink alone."
Tamao sat down on the counter wedged between grocery bags. Ryu went to the cupboard and retrieved two tall glasses and a bottle opener. The woman handed him the case of beer, he poured each of them a glass. They rapped the rims together and drank.
Tamao felt her shoulders relax, as the two of them sat in silence. She peered up at the man, noticing he had barely touched his drink. She glanced away.
"What's wrong Ryu?" She asked quietly.
The man shifted uncomfortably again. Then he took a large swig from his glass. His eyes were distant, as if he was looking down a formidable foe. It made her uncomfortable too.
"It's about Hana," he finally said. "It seems that now-"
"Wait," Tamao interjected. "I'm not drunk enough to be discussing anything about him today."
She then proceeded to down the rest of her beer in one swig. She held out her glass and Ryu obediently refilled it. Quickly that glass was also gone, and he refilled her cup again. Tamao smiled, letting the buzz of the alcohol permeate throughout her whole body.
"Do you remember how things used to be here," Ryu asked, looking off into the distance again. Despite its harsh features, his face had a soft expression. Tamao recognized it as a mixture of happiness and sorrow, which meant the usually impulsive man was deep in thought. "It was very lively here then too."
She nodded . She had known Ryu for many years now, and ever since the Shaman Fights had ended she couldn't think of a single time the Funbari's head cook had abandoned her. He had seen this place change right beside her. She rubbed her now stingy eyes.
Ryu glanced at her questioningly, but just refilled her glass when she shoved it at him.
They drank in silence for Tamao didn't know how many minutes. They finished off the rest of the beer and moved on to the sake. All the while Ryu remained pensive. It was surprising; Tamao for some odd reason thought this side of the man was actually cool. Though, it was nice when he was goofy too, especially when she was having a bad day.
Tamao shook her head. Why was she looking at him like that? It was making her heart feel strange. She could feel the temperature rising in her cheeks, though she wasn't sure if it was because of the alcohol or not. She slapped her cheek lightly to test. Her heart raced. It wasn't just the alcohol. She glanced back him.
Ryu was staring at her intensely.
"Are you alright Mistress Tamao," he asked carefully studying her face.
His thick eyelashes were so beautiful up close. Behind them she could see the small hint of brown in his black eyes which was usually hidden. She could feel her pulse speeding up and tried to avoid his gaze. He pressed his large hand to her cheek, causing her stomach to form a tight knot.
"Don't call me that," she whispered slowly. The knot throbbed. She turned away, realizing what she had just said. "I mean, I'm fine."
Ryu began to take his hand back, but Tamao grabbed it before he could. She looked up at him, not sure of what she wanted from there.
"What was it that you had to say about Hana?" she murmured.
Ryu quickly looked away, snatching his hand from her. He finished his drink and placed his cup in the sink. Then he took her hands in his. Tamao couldn't read the look in his eyes as he stared at her.
"I think you need to find Hana a father figure. You're young. You don't have to be a loner like me just because Hana's here. Don't you have anyone you're interested in?"
The question slammed into the woman hard. She could see the genuine concern in his eyes, which only caused the knot her stomach to feel like it was being jerked in every direction. She tore her hands from his, and shoved away from the counter. She wanted to get out of that room. Something inside of her couldn't bare looking at him for another single second.
Suddenly she tripped over herself falling to the floor. Tears were beginning to well up in her eyes. She began to crawl towards the kitchen door, but the pain in her heart kept from going far. Ryu knelt down beside her and picked her up in his strong arms. She buried her face in his chest as he carried her down the hallway to her room. Then he gently placed her on her bed.
Without thinking Tamao forcefully seized the collar of his robe before he could get up. She pulled herself towards him, her heart racing, the knot in her stomach filling her with a need which overcame the power of words. She could feel his breath on her face, and then the tender warmth of his lips on hers.
He delicately pulled away from her.
"Mistress-" he whispered, but she cut him off with another kiss.
His arms wrapped around her passionately as he kissed her back. They separate for only a moment before returning to each other's embrace. She stroked his course face slowly and then his chest. Her hands slid down his muscular shoulders, feeling each contour. His fingers danced lightly on her cheeks, as their ardor grew.
Then he suddenly pulled away from her, his eyes avoiding her needy ones. His face was bright red. He cleared his throat.
"We're drunk," he whispered. His eyes were filled that strange look she had seen earlier in the night. Her fingers pinched the edge of his robe. The look he gave her then was one of clear distress. "Can you say you're sure?"
Tamao was taken aback. She let go of his robe and turned away from him.
"I don't know," she admitted. She hadn't really felt anything like this with him before that night, but kissing him had felt so right all she wanted was to over and over again.
She closed her eyes and leaned in again, but all she received was air. Then his soft lips were pressed against her forehead. Tears trickled down her cheeks. She looked up at him, eyes filled with yearning, but the man just shook his head.
"Can we try again?" she found herself asking suddenly, as he began to leave the room.
He stopped and smiled, turning off the lights.
"Of course, Ms. Tamao."
Then he left the room, leaving Tamao in a daze in the darkness. She flipped onto her side and pulled the covers tightly around her. She didn't wipe the tears from her face, because if she did, she was not sure if she would be able to tell if that night was real. So she lay there until the fog of sleep overwhelmed her and she was filled with love fueled dreams.