Disclaimer: Flame of Recca and its characters are copyrighted to their owners. I don't own a single thing except the way they were manipulated in this story.

A:/N: Hi minna! I was browsing through the reviews given to Isolation (thanks a million for them!) and I ran across one person who requested a sequel to the fic. And I was feeling a bit creative and I came up with this. Personally, I'm not the type of person who's involved in deep, romantic relationships but I do enjoy observing couples together and the like. This idea struck me as a rather profound and meaningful one. My apologies to Raiha fans --- you won't be seeing him anywhere in this fic. Like my ongoing vampire fic: Blood, Lust and Love, this revolves around Fuuko and Tokiya only. Comments, constructive criticisms and reviews are very much appreciated.

BTW, this is a really rough draft. Please don't expect too much...this took me 5 days and judging from the time span, I'm not sure this would impress that many people. Aaah, forgive me, minna-san. *sniff* I'm still a teen and have much to learn about writing.

Promise Me

"Will you marry me?"

Pale, but bright blue eyes gazed upon her, earnestly. A perfectly shaped face adorned with flawless features and a mouth that uttered the most important question in her whole life. His breath was visible, as it came in short puffs --- an indicator of how nervous he was. Yet he always kept his cool. Even in situations like this.

That was one of the reasons why she loved him.

Marriage was a bond between two people who shared the mutual concept of love. A proposal is made, and shortly after the acceptance, they seal their devotion on their wedding day. Such a thought was always considered as every girl's dream. To spend months of anxious planning, throwing showers and all sorts of traditional revelries and finally, years of bliss to be spent with her soul mate.

The thought made her bite her lip in her own anxiety, but it made her feel warm and tingly, just the same. He always managed to do this to her. As if the whole world was a slice of cake with sweet, sugary icing, and they were the ones consuming it. She was happy with him. No man on earth made her feel like she was floating on air. And this wasn't temporary at all. It was 6 years full of happiness and nothing could ever replace the times they shared together.

Fuuko never thought of marriage seriously. She would tease him about it occasionally, asking when he would move lest someone come and steal her. Tokiya always cut her short by kissing her gently, reassuring her that the time would come.

And so it did. They were merely having dinner by the newly opened restaurants around town and spent the whole evening talking about their careers. It was nothing out of the ordinary. He just opened his new firm, him being one of the youngest corporate lawyers in the country. He was successful, but he never did brag about the money he made unlike many of the older, snottier colleagues he worked with.

She was happy with her own field. She gradually finished her course in Earth sciences and was working comfortably with a group of scientists, interested in the weather (her forte) and earthquakes happening around. Fuuko still resided with her parents, while Tokiya kept to his old place. Neither wanted to move in together, Tokiya being a tad conservative and Fuuko wanting to be more practical.

"Fuuko?" his expression faltered a little. "If this isn't the proper time..."

She cut her thoughts short. He was still waiting for her answer.

A smile found its way to her lips. "Scared that I'd reject you?" she dared him. Snow fell softly on the sidewalk where they decided to take a stroll. It led to the all too familiar park. That place held memories too. Precious memories.

His confidence returned quickly and he donned a smirk. "No. Why should I be? I know you wouldn't be able to resist me."

"Try and see." She said smugly as he wrapped his arms around her waist and she whispered softly into his ear the one word that made him feel like the luckiest person in the universe. "You idiot." Her teasing tone returned. "You didn't have to act too nervously around me."

"I wasn't nervous." He murmured, placing his cheek against her hair. "I just wanted to make sure you're comfortable with your decision."

"I am. I do love you."

"I know that." He grinned, planting a kiss on her nose, while taking her palm into his. "I guess it's settled then." He once more locked her eyes in his while his hand slipped a ring into her finger. It pleased him to see the dark blue eyes widen as his fiancée stared at the piece of jewelry.

"It's...it's beautiful."

It was a band made of white silver, with a belt of tiny diamonds. On the middle lay one that sparkled so brightly that it caught the stars' attention. He spent the whole weekend hunting for such a ring and now he was glad for the reaction of the receiver was so.

He smiled, caressing the pale hand. "And such a ring could only deserve a beautiful owner."

And her cheeks flushed red as he kissed her and mouthed the 3 words she had grown to love for the past 6 years they had been together.

******

"You're kidding me!" Yanagi exclaimed as she threw her arms over her smiling friend.

"I'm not. You have this as proof." Fuuko raised her right hand, diamonds flashing brilliantly.

"Oh my...it's beautiful, Fuuko. Stunning. I can't imagine how much Tokiya-kun paid for this."

Fuuko shook her head. "I wouldn't dare." She chuckled, along with her best friend. "I heard Recca also made his proposal." Her smile widened teasingly as Yanagi showed her own palm. Indeed, there was a clasp of gold around her middle finger. "When are you getting married?"

"Recca still wants to wait another year, and I agree with him. He still needs to settle things." Yanagi said, sitting down on the couch and beckoning Fuuko to join her. "What about you two?"

"In June. Looks like I'll be the first to walk down the aisle."

"How lovely!" Yanagi sighed dreamily. "By then, most flowers would be in bloom."

Fuuko nodded happily. "I know. And this is why I came over to your place. You're going to help me plan everything, ne Yanagi-chan?"

"Why, of course. We'll have so much fun doing this."

Yes. Fuuko thought silently. Her own parents were ecstatic when they received the news. Both approved of Tokiya, being the perfect gentleman for their daughter. After all, she only dated 2 men in her whole life. She wondered how Tokiya's relatives thought of it. He never spoke of any at all. She knew he had no immediate family whatsoever...so the thought of meeting people connected to him intrigued her. However these questions were brushed aside. He had asked her to give him a couple of months, enough for him to fix things with his work.

She agreed. She had other things to do.

Meanwhile, she had a blast with Yanagi coupled with Ganko. The latter was now in her high school years and shared the same thrill of having to shop for things, materials and all sorts of preparations to be done. Magazines were bought and trips to the florist were endless. It wasn't as easy, but she did have a helluva lot of amusement. The 3 boys (Recca, Domon and Kaoru) were utterly surprised but at the same time, both looked satisfied as all agreed it was about time that the couple tied the knot.

"My...isn't it strange...it only seems like yesterday when we were teenagers and Recca was ranting about being a ninja." Domon mused, sharing a cup of coffee with the whole group (save for Tokiya).

"Agreed." Recca nodded. "Everyone's getting hitched except for these two...," he said, indicating Kaoru and the blonde girl who were still kicking each other from beneath the table. Apparently, some things never change.

But as we look at the physical side, Kaoru had grown a great deal taller than before. A regular senior at high school and the most popular man around the campus. The fangs never did help, for it only assisted his good looks and brought him nothing but the regular crowd of swooning fans.

Ganko, however, had fully blossomed into a young lady. Yanagi taught her the airs of grace while Fuuko gave her the usual spunky energy enough to catch the attention of plenty young men. The blonde hair fell past her shoulders and she too, grew taller, but not as tall as her spiky-haired childhood friend.

Everyone volunteered to help the former fuujin master. By the end of the week, all six (most especially Fuuko) were feeling quite dead. But love worked its way through the tired body and soon Fuuko was up and about, browsing for the dress she wanted to wear. There were many to choose from.

"How about this?" Ganko asked, pointing to a strapless, one-piece dress that barely went past the hips.

Fuuko pulled a disgusting face. "It's got slut written all over it, Ganko-chan. I want my dress to be simple, but not that...that...revealing."

Yanagi pointed to another cream-colored dress with straps that fell off the shoulders and flowers embroidered on the bodice. Fuuko shook her head. "It seems that I'll never see what I really want..." she sighed, flipping the pages again and again. Nothing seemed to suit her. Her parents offered to have one made for her --- but she refused. First of all, she reasoned, she had no intentions of spending for such an extravagant gown when she could buy a ready-made one. She wanted one that expressed her personality, her feelings...and most of all, something that Tokiya would like. A gust of wind fell into the room and the pages flew frantically and stopped on one page.

She saw it and her breath was swept away.

A simple white silk dress, supported by thin straps that went over the shoulders and crisscrossed at the back. An empire waistline was decorated with sequins and another layer of thin, sheer fabric went over the dress. For a final touch, there were simple line patterns of thin silver that made their way across the fabric. Fuuko could tell that it wouldn't be heavy, for it wasn't a gown of sorts...but a plain dress that could be worn easily, without fuss.

It was perfect.

"Here's what I want." She said, triumphantly pointing to the picture. And from the looks on Yanagi and Ganko's faces, she knew that it was the right one for her.

So they went over to the nearest shop.

******

"I have my dress ready. My mother's taking care of catering. We're almost done."

Tokiya smiled back. Fuuko knew he was tired. Lately he'd been talking about this new American client of his and a new venture he had to do. Still, he managed to invite her over and they had dinner, as usual. "That's nice, Fuuko. I daresay, everyone including Hanabishi's helping you with the whole thing?"

"Yes. Him and the two other boys. I didn't expect them to help out but we're having so much fun. Why don't you come along with us tomorrow? We're picking out flowers to use..."

"I'm afraid I can't join you Fuuko." He shook his head apologetically. "Sean wants me to finish this latest project we're working on. Our clients are asking us to do it by the end of next week. But," he added, seeing the disappointed look in her face, "I'll see if I can make time to have lunch with all of you."

"Okay..." she said, trying hard to hide her disappointment by taking hold of his hand. "What kind of flowers do you like?"

"What do you mean? Aren't you supposed to pick?"

"No, silly." She laughed. "We do this together, right? Even if you're not present." She gave him a little squeeze. "So...what's it going to be?"

"White lilies are lovely."

"White lilies it is, then." She nodded. "Do you want to throw white roses in too?" she asked, remembering his fondness for white roses. They were Mifuyu's favorite flowers too.

"Throw in whatever you want. I wouldn't care. I'm anticipating what my bride's going to look like." He teased as Fuuko playfully punched him. "Besides, haven't you all done enough preparations for these things? It's happening in 2 weeks Fuuko. Try to relax for once."

"Well, how about you take a break from work and come join us?"

"You know very well I can't...," he said regretfully. "I wish I could, but this is the biggest thing that's happened to the company. If we managed to get this correct, then we might just get the big boost everyone's been hoping for. You do understand...right?"

"Of course," she said gently, biting her lip. "I just wish that...never mind." she grinned at him. "I'll simply have to make use of my time now with you." She placed her head on his shoulders and drew closer to him. This was her favorite past time, snuggling up to him during nights like this. Winter was the best choice but summer was approaching. Now that they were getting married, she'd be doing more of this and probably...something else.

She blushed and hid her face by turning to his shirt to eliminate the thoughts entering her mind.

"Excellent choice." He interrupted her thoughts by stroking her hair. "Boy...I feel so beat." He added, his shoulders dropping from their usual posture.

"Why don't you go to sleep then?" she asked. "I can leave already...if you want me to."

He placed his arm over her shoulders and pulled her even closer. "No, don't. I rarely see you these days and I might not over the next week."

"What do you mean by not seeing you next week?"

He sighed. "Work."

"Oh." The simple word managed to bring down her spirit. Lucky for her, her job didn't demand too much of her time. However Tokiya was needed almost every hour of the day. And even more these past months. She wondered if he really enjoyed doing this. But she forced herself to push all thoughts aside and concentrate on what was happening now. At least they had time together. She could still recall the empty nights she spent because both her parents were forever addicted to their work.

Unfortunately, their 'time' was interrupted by the ringing of his phone.

He sighed again and he reluctantly brought out the cellular phone from his pocket. "Yes, Sean?" his voice sounded tired and irritated. She could see why.

Fuuko sat up straight and crossed her arms. She was starting to hate the name Sean. Not that she had anything personal against the man. Tokiya had introduced them to each other once. But slowly she was starting to feel resentful at the fact that his work was taking much of his time. His personal time. Their personal time, she amended.

"...Right. No, don't worry. I'll get it done here. I'll bring it to you tomorrow morning, pronto."

She turned to face him as he exhaled loudly and placed his phone by the coffee table. "I'm sorry Fuuko, but I'm afraid I have to finish some things tonight. Apparently, our client wasn't satisfied with the draft copy my secretary sent him. I have to revise it immediately."

"Can't you do that tomorrow?" she asked, hopefully.

He shook his head.

"Oh, well." She sighed, picking up her jacket, which was draped over the cushions. "I guess I'll be seeing you..."

He stood up, and took hold of her shoulders. "I'm really sorry about this, Fuuko." He said, looking into her eyes sadly. "Believe me, I really am. There's really nothing I could do about it, and I feel terrible that we have to cut this short because of that dumb ass."

She suppressed a giggle. She knew both of them would have burst out laughing had the situation not been that serious. Tokiya never spoke of his clients that way. "It's okay." She smiled up at him. "I can manage by myself. Just try to finish that big project of yours before the wedding, okay?"

"Okay." He smiled too and bent over to give her a short kiss. "Do you need me to walk you home?"

The strands of violet flew as she refused him politely. "I'll be fine."

She said her good byes and left the place.

Oh, how she wished she could bring his clients to crumble down, somehow. He always said that it was part of the job. But she never thought she'd see the day when Tokiya would go to the extremes just to please people he didn't even know or give a damn about! If it weren't for his firm, she was sure that he'd bust those men's behinds within a few seconds.

And Fuuko had to admit, Tokiya wasn't exactly there whenever she needed him. He'd been super busy for nearly 4 months. She couldn't blame him...but couldn't he make more time for her? After all, he was the one who proposed.

She heaved a sigh and continued walking home.

******

"Fuuko-chan, is that you?"

"Hai okasan." She called out, removing her shoes by the doorstep. "I'm surprised you're still awake." She remarked, entering the kitchen where both her parents were sharing mugs of coffee.

"We wanted to stay up for you." Her dad answered, beckoning her to join them. She did and got herself her own mug and filled it with the hot drink. The aroma of roasted beans filled the room and she was warmed up immediately.

She sat there, sipping quietly until her mom broke the silence.

"Fuuko-chan..."

"Hai?"

"There's something your father and I want to ask you."

"Fire away." She replied cheerily, hiding her worries perfectly.

Her parents exchanged glances before continuing. "Are you happy, dearest?"

She took another look at her parents and their creasing foreheads. "Why, yes. Why do you ask?"

"Does Mikagami-kun make you feel happy?"

Fuuko gave a small laugh. "Yes, mom and dad. Where is this leading to?"

"Fuuko," her father began warily, "we just want to make sure that you're okay with your decision. We don't want you to be making any mistakes."

Huh? She wondered. "Of course I'm sure. If you're worried about my choice, then you can be assured that I've chosen the right one. Tokiya's a good person."

"But Fuuko," her mom started, "we've come to notice that he's avoiding the whole preparations and the planning for your wedding. He hasn't shown up in about 16 weeks already. Is there something going on between the two of you?"

"Mom, Tokiya is a good guy, but he is also very busy. He has this really big project and it's just keeping him occupied." She explained, oblivious to her own strained voice. "Don't worry about it. He's planning to take a few hours off and take me to lunch some time next week. We're not fighting or anything."

"Okay, dear. We just want to know you're sure about this."

"I'm turning 23 this year already. I'm not a child anymore." She said, reminding them gently. "I'll be okay, I promise. This is the most wonderful thing that's happened to me and I plan to enjoy every second of it. So you don't have to worry about a single thing."

"You're enjoying every second of it without him." Her mother pointed out.

She bit her inner cheek and kept quiet after that last comment.

"...I think it's best that I go to bed now."

******

As of December, stocks have risen greatly, thus producing a fresh wave for ---

Tokiya sighed again for the nth time that night and wiped his tired eyes. Whether he enjoyed revising the draft or not, his eyes were about to give up on him any minute now. Damn, if it weren't for his respect for his colleague, he would have had him dead by this time. But work was work, and he had to finish this.

He checked his clock. 1:30 am. He wasn't going to get any sleep again. He had to admit that the concealer was a pretty useful tool. It kept him from looking like a vampire. What is it with the Chinese and the Americans when it came to deadlines? So far, they weren't behind the schedule but those bastards tried so hard to keep on pushing them to the limit. At the rate this was going, he wasn't going to make it to that meeting he promised Fuuko.

He stretched his arms and clicked the send button on his screen. He had been skipping out on a lot of dates with his girlfriend and he was pretty guilty about it. The look on her face was anything but happy that evening. She had every right to yell at him, but still...

I'm a world-class jerk when it comes to balancing time.

Work had suddenly become such a big burden for the past 4 months. And that was the main reason why he was late for the wedding rehearsal. Like most of the times he promised to meet her. He had burst in, hurriedly and earned himself so many stares. 2 of which, were irritated ones from Fuuko's parents, respectively. Everyone else was just gaping at him from shock. He wasn't the one who would usually be late. He muttered his distinct apologies but stopped at the middle and caught Fuuko's eyes.

The look was harsh, and bitter.

There was no mistaking here. She was mad at him. And he knew damn well why.

But before he could utter another word, she hurried out of the room, nearly knocking Kaoru down.

"Fuuko!" he yelled, rushing after her.

She was angry all right. Very, very furious with him. He quickened his pace and went after her running figure, calling out her name. And unless she was deaf (which the possibilities were so minimal) she was also ignoring him for the mess he had created. He saw her stop at a corner and he grabbed her arms.

"Hey, what's going on?"

She faced him and he was surprised to find her face streaked with tears. "Fuuko..." he began, wiping them gently with his hand. "I know, I know. I'm sorry. Please tell me what's wrong."

She sniffed, shaking her head. "You were late. Again. We're getting married in 2 days and still, you're that untimely jerk I'm starting to resent."

He winced at those words.

"God, what is wrong with you now, Tokiya?! Is work all you can think of? I know you're busy with that stupid project of yours, but can't you even make time for this? What's about to happen in 48 hours is the biggest event in our lives and I'm not even sure you're going to show up for it. And all you can say is sorry? Do you think that's going to make up for the time I've spent by myself, trying to plan this thing?"

Fuuko glared at him and wiped her own tears furiously, knocking his hand off.

He knew that when he said that he was a jerk, there was definitely no doubt about it. During the years they've spent dating, he had never seen her this angry, or upset. And it was all his fault.

"I know nothing would replace the time I've missed out." He began quietly, gently. "And I am really sorry that this has been happening. I know I've told you so many times that work has become such an overload. Still, it's...it's no excuse. I feel like the worst guy in the whole world. Please tell me how to make it up to you, Fuuko." He said, taking her hand and enclosing it in his.

Her voice relaxed. "It's not just that Tokiya." She sighed, staring at his pale eyes. "I'm scared."

"Scared of what?"

"Scared that after I marry you, things will begin to change. Now that I'm starting to see you this way, with your work and how busy you are, I've started to wonder if I was right in saying yes. I know it isn't mostly your fault...but now I'm not that sure that I'm ready for commitment. I don't want to spend the rest of my life with a workaholic. It's been so lonely without you, Tokiya. And if marrying you means losing you..."

She was cut off as he started laughing softly. "What?"

So was he making fun of her now? She felt the blood rise to her cheeks. Any minute now and she'd slap him with all her might. Did he think this whole thing was funny...just like some joke? Though she knew he has lightened up a great deal, she never knew him to be this mean, or stupid.

"Is that it?" he asked her, smiling.

"Yes. What's so funny?" she snapped, losing her temper.

He brought a hand up and caressed her cheek. "Fuuko, before you go getting mad at me, let me explain first. Number one, you're being a bit paranoid about the whole situation."

"Paranoid?!" she clenched her teeth together. "You call that paranoid? Are you crazy, Tokiya? I've been worried sick about everything ever since---"

"I was only in such a hurry because I wanted to fix the deadline before we get married." He cut her off, impatiently waving his hand. "It's finished now. I just submitted it this afternoon. I'm practically free. I'm sorry that I've missed out on so much. I don't know how many times I'll end up saying this, but I really am sorry. Number two, I want you to know that you'll never, ever lose me through any way. Not even work can tear me apart from you."

"It did, for a few months." Came a short reply.

"I know it did. But that's never going to happen again, I promise you. Please don't turn me down Fuuko. Not now. I *love* you no matter what happens and I'd hate for you to walk away. What I did was a bad thing, but could you still find it in your heart to forgive me?"

And Tokiya did the silliest thing she had ever seen in her whole life. He donned the classic kneeling pose of one that was begging a lover to stay. It took her by surprise. No one ever did this to her. Not Raiha, not even Domon, when he was still trying to court her. Both her hands were now in his and his eyes did the trick. She was still caught up in his smile, his voice... "Is this another one of your lame acts to get me to soften up and forgive you?" she managed to ask.

"No Fuuko. It's my way of letting you know that there's no escape. I'm not giving you up."

Those pleading eyes and that irresistible smile. Her parents' speech never did get to her at all. He was still the same person who made her knees tremble, her heart pound furiously and her face flush pink. She knew she loved him. She blinked back another wave of tears, and felt herself smile involuntarily.

"Am I forgiven?" he asked.

Unable to hold it any longer, she let two tears roll down, nodding. He stood up and she literally threw herself at him, pressing her face to his chest and letting him embrace her.

"I'm sorry." He whispered, pressing his face against her hair. "It won't happen again."

"I'm sorry too," she mumbled, "I was just so..."

"Don't think about it." He said as gently as possible, stroking her hair and brushing the strands from her face. "You don't have to worry about anything. I'm going to be here Fuuko. Until the very last minute of my life...I'll be here."

"I know you will." She murmured. "I'm just being silly and all. I let my parents' foolish talk get to me."

Deep in her heart, she somewhat knew that he wouldn't leave her. Perhaps it was just the childish side inside looking for assurance. Yet in his arms, in his embrace, she felt safe. This was where she belonged – beside him, with him. All doubts, worries and anxieties flew away from her head and immediately were replaced with relief and love for the man that held her now.

She looked up at him and gave a small smile. "I love you."

"I know." He gave her a slight smirk. One that had a bit of his sarcasm but filled with deep affection.

"Idiot." She swatted him playfully. "You may be smart, but you don't know everything."

His expression changed to a mocking one. "Oh, I'm hurt, Kirisawa-san. But let me prove it to you. Do you want me to show you how I love the person standing in front of me?" he asked with a naughty tone. Unfamiliar and very much unlike the stiff, formal Tokiya she knew.

"Save your moves until after the wedding." She bossed him derisively.

"Excuse me, but I don't let anyone control me." He returned, a bit proudly, catching on with their little game.

Fuuko shook her head and grabbed the collar of his shirt. "Now you do." She whispered, pulling his head lower till she could feel his breath touching her lips. "If you hate being controlled, then you better get used to it...because I like being in command."

"Then, why are you still hesitating to kiss me?" he asked pointedly, his smile growing wider.

"Because I enjoy teasing you." She responded before letting his lips catch hers in a passionate kiss.

Maybe he was right. There was no way that the two of them would separate from each other. He was just too hard to resist and he couldn't bear being without her. She knew they were destined for each other. And every moment counted now. Fuuko smiled as she wrapped her arms around him and he continued showering her with all of his devotion.

48 hours, 2 minutes and 58 seconds later, two souls united as one.

~Owari (The End)

Started: June 7, 2002 3:42 pm

Finished: June 12, 2002 6:28 pm