She's feisty, and he likes that. He thinks he does, anyway. He's not all that sure, but hearing her shout and grow flustered amuses him, so he assumes that he likes it in that way, too.

For that reason, their early acquaintance is characterized by his teasing remarks and her explosive reactions, anger and humor all at once. He's not sure why, but the red flush on her cheeks makes his heart flutter a little, though he pushes it away in favor of smirking and mocking her as she tries to hit him, to retaliate in the way that they've been taught since childhood, but failing in the face of his body falling away as water, reforming to the noise of her angered screech and his own raucous laughter. Her red hair, a color so vivid that it's unnatural, is uneven and ruffled from the force of her fury, and he enjoys the pure irritation he sees in her wine-red eyes.

He ignores the feelings, in those early years. He's "just" a swordsman, and he knows that she absolutely besotted with another boy, their supposed leader, one that perfectly fits that special archetype. Their leader is the tall, dark, and handsome boy with a traumatic past and just the right amount of hero and villain in him to possibly redeem himself, to be that perfect anti-hero that girls adore. He can also tell that there's another layer to it, a story that he doesn't know, something that she clings to, something that the object of her affections may not even remember, but it's in the way, so he doesn't bother to really think of pursuing her, even if he does enjoy getting in the way of her seduction attempts.

Then tall, dark, and handsome becomes tall, dark, and insane, and ends up almost killing her.

He's not happy about that, not at all, but he can't step in. He has a sword, and the water is on his side, true, but he doesn't have those special eyes that the other has. He doesn't have the heavens themselves throwing down lightning to help him out, and he knows he doesn't stand a chance. They're on opposite sides of the continent anyway, and he doesn't even figure out what happened until he sees her crying and yelling at the leader, until he hears her almost spell it out and realizes that yes, she almost died because of the man she was so in love with, until he hears her forgive him, now that he's somewhat sane again, while they're in the middle of a god-forsaken war.

It makes him sick, but he goes along with it. He pretends that he doesn't care. He follows their old boss, the snake, the one that had stolen him away from home all those years ago, and is secretly glad when she comes along with him and the snake, thinking that he has some time, not much, to convince her that she's out of her mind if she wants to be with their leader after what he did, but there's no time at all, because they're running and running, and the snake is always there.

She probably wouldn't listen anyway.

It's all over, eventually, the war, the fleeing, the knowledge that they're criminals, even if he was kidnapped at the beginning, and only did what he could to survive after that. And he sees that she's still pining after the leader, and, yeah, he's better now, saner, but the swordsman can't see past the fury that grips him whenever he remembers that she almost died at that madman's hands, and eventually he just snaps, and, and, and…

"Karin. You. Me. The barbeque joint down the street. Tonight. I'll pick you up at seven."

"…Wait, what?"

The night goes better than he expects,

and he goes home with his hands in his pockets, whistling.


A/N: Yes, the title is a pun on Suigetsu being made of water. Don't judge me.

I wrote this for a class, and hopefully by saying that here, I can avoid being accused of plagiarism while still getting to share it with all of you! *thumbs up*

Ja ne,