A/N: Ryouga's POV. Just a little scene that popped into my head.



"Blood and Chocolate"



My hands are slick with blood and chocolate, and I lick at it distractedly. The blood is my own, so that's not as gross as it sounds. He glances over at me and his hand skirts over mine, streaking his fingertips with crimson and syrup and leaving a visible trail behind.

He gives me another look, and it's like he's trying not to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation. And it would be ridiculous, if not for all the broken hearts and pointless battles we've had along the way. So at the same time, he's trying not to cry, which is something I've hardly ever seen him pushed far enough to struggle with.

I put an arm around his shoulders and he sighs deeply, seemingly uncaring. But for him, physicality is soothing. Touch is comfort, even in battle, and it brings him sanity amongst the daily chaos of his life.

Another glance, and he steps away to face the others, wiping his own blood from his mouth and giving them a baleful look. Our latest scuffle through the kitchen over Akane's cooking has brought him here, staring down his four "fiancées"- two by his father's word, one by a law he'd never even heard of, and one by her own insistence only. All of them are for once at peace, and radiate guilt at what trouble they've caused.

"I don't love you," he says softly and with perfect sincerity, and all four's faces crumble simultaneously. As if for the first time, they really understand what he's tried to tell them all a dozen times before just because he's saying it a little calmer than before.

They half-form protests, but those crumble under the strange force of his silence and the look on his bruised face, and finally they surrender. One of them cries; she has spent so much time seeking him to have it all wasted. The one who sought him out of obsession doesn't seem surprised at all and leaves her seat, giving me an appraising look and telling me I probably will need stitches. The other two seem to be in shock, though perhaps for different reasons. The Amazon looks half-relieved; the so- called tomboy is half-panicked.

He looks back to me again and speaks once more, "I do love you though," he says, voice even softer than before and faintly blushing.

I smile at him and chuckle, surprising the others with my unusually happy mood. "Good," I tell him with a grin. "I was starting to think that I followed you all that way for nothing."

I can instantly tell that I will probably never be able to perform the Shi Shi Hokudan again, and it must be the greatest sense of relief that I've ever felt as I lick my lips and taste the blood and chocolate still lingering there.



* ende *