Disclaimer: Tales of Vesperia is copyrighted by Bandai Namco Games.

No profit is made from this. Should its removal be requested

by copyright holders, I will instantly do so.

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A Tales of Vesperia-story

The Routes We Take

by:

FluffyDireBunny

Chapter Two

"Get-together in Dahngrest"

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Next morning, Yuri was already outside before the sun rose to the sky. He was making a simple sandwich breakfast, hoping to have it done by the time his mage friend woke up. Surprisingly, the night had been rather uneventful, if not counting waking up occasionally to Rita's restless sleeping habits, her touching him during her spinning and turning and the small morning boner no doubt caused by the said unintentional touches. Yuri solely wished that the fiery blooded girl had not noticed it and was quite sure that she hadn't, she seemed to be a heavy sleeper. As the eggs were slowly cooked to perfection on the remains of their campfire, Yuri pulled them away, placing them between two slices of bread. He approached the tent and carefully slid the doorway open. "Rita, it's morning."

"Mmhmm.." The girl mumbled in her sleep.

The way her small, soft lips turned into a pout and the way her eyes closed tighter, her brow furrowing together, making small wrinkles appearing between them was an overload of cuteness to Yuri's senses, making him hesitate waking her up. He was afraid she wouldn't wake up just by talking or by yelling to her, heaven forbid he might have to touch her. "Rita Mordiooo!" he raised his voice an octave.

"Nnnhh.." she sighed quietly and suddenly whipped her arm towards the entrance and Yuri.

Luckily the man had outstanding reflexes as a fireball whipped past him, fortunately flying out of the tent instead of setting it on fire. "Hey, that was dangerous!" he yelled loudly.

"Mmwha?" Rita asked sleepily as she sat up, one eye barely cracking open.

The skilled swordsman sighed deeply. "Breakfast is ready, so get up."

"Oh, okay.. If I must." the genius mage somehow still managed to bring up her temperament apparent, even in her tired state.

Yuri couldn't help but to smile carefully, loving how even her rude answers and retorts managed to make his heart race a little faster. He knew that behind all that tough exterior laid a kind and caring individual, which unfortunately surfaced quite rarely. Sure Rita was hot-headed and stubborn, quick to act without thinking and only a little violent but she still managed to surprise Yuri every now and then with her worry over others, mostly Estelle. His trail of thought was halted as something hit his forehead with an audible thud.

"Are you listening to me?!" Rita yelled, her expression a mix of anger and embarrassment.

Yuri looked at the object thrown at him, now laying next to his feet. "A boot?" he stated, rising his irises to look at Rita, a smirk finding its way to his lips.

"N-never mind that!" the mage stammered, obviously even more flustered. "Get out now!" she said, reaching for her other shoe.

"Alright, I'm going." Yuri wasn't entirely sure what had just happened but figured that she had asked him to leave before her footwear found its mark on his head. He could slightly hear Rita mumbling something to herself in the tent, ogling and perv were amongst her vocabulary.

Soon after, the girl emerged from their sleeping place, sitting herself beside Yuri on the ground. He handed her the sandwich which she started nibbling on quietly. He had already finished his own, so he got up to back up the camp. "Guess we'll reach Dahngrest by evening." Yuri stated to no one in particular. "It'll be nice to see everyone again."

"Yeah." Rita smiled, finishing the last bites of her breakfast. "I mean, it'll be a pain but I guess I should keep my promise."

"Your promise?"

"Hmph, to meet with you guys, of course!"

"Ah." Yuri nodded. "It's great that you came."

A small blush erupted on the mage's face. "A-anyway, we'd probably best get going."

Yuri and Repede agreed and the trio set out to continue their journey.

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The rest of the way was luckily traveled quickly, Yuri and Rita spending their time recalling the adventure their little gang had traversed a little more than an year ago. As soon as the trio arrived in Dahngrest, Rita retired to the inn, leaving Yuri and Repede strolling around the city.

"What do you think, Repede?" Yuri smiled at his long time canine companion. "Shall we go pay Karol a visit?"

The bluish furred dog barked his response like always, but the way his tail swayed from side to side indicated that he too was a little excited of seeing their friend.

"Alright." the swordsman's smile brightened.

They made their way through the streets, occasionally being greeted by passers by who recognized them. It wasn't a long trek to their guild's base and Yuri stepped in. The building wasn't anything remarkable, a small, sturdy wooden structure with just enough space to house the members of Brave Vesperia. There was also a small kitchen, a meeting hall and of course a small bathroom. The hall had a few groups of people gathered around tables to share an evening meal and Yuri waved at them for a greeting. Some of them he recognized but few were new faces to him. "Karol anywhere here?" he asked a small group of his new comrades.

"Yeah, in the kitchen I think.." one youth responded, obviously not knowing whom he was speaking to. "What's that to you?"

"Idiot!" another young man seated around the table scolded the youth. "Sorry Yuri, seems we should be teaching them manners as well!" he nodded with an apology.

Yuri waved it off, not having minded. "Guess I'll go see how the boss is doing." Repede followed closely behind him. As the got to the kitchen door, they could see Karol busily preparing a meal. "Hot date lined up?" Yuri smirked as Karol turned around, surprised plastered across his young face.

"Yuri!" the boy beamed brightly as he made his way to hug his friend.

"Whoa easy there Captain!" Yuri laughed but returned the hug a bit uncomfortably, patting Karol's back.

"You made it!" the youngster smiled. "I didn't think you'd come until tomorrow like everyone else!"

"I thought it would be nice to get some shut eye before tomorrows activities."

"Yeah, I guess." Karol laughed.

"That is, assuming you have anything planned?" Yuri asked. "You are this years host after all."

"Oh don't worry about that!" the boy smiled. "I have a few ideas."

"Good to know." Yuri smiled. "Besides, I thought it might be nice to catch up on things here, you know, not having everyone else around. Just the guild."

"That sounds great!" Karol seemed literally to glow with enthusiasm but suddenly looked deflated. "Oh man.. I was supposed to have dinner with Nan."

"So you did have a date lined up?" the swordsman smirked and laughed at Karol's best efforts to dispel his beliefs. "It's fine, we'll have plenty of time to catch up tomorrow. Have fun!" Yuri said with finality, deciding to retire to the inn for tonight.

As he and Repede made their way to the inn, Yuri could barely contain his smile. He was glad that their group was getting together again, just like old days. Even if it was just for a few short days. The swordsman walked to the counter at the inn and pulled out his coin purse.

"It'll be 300 gald for the night." the inn-keep stated.

Yuri paid him and suddenly wondered why he hadn't stayed at their HQ for the night. It seemed that the person before him had the exact same thought.

"Why the hell are you staying here?" Rita yelled as Yuri entered the sleeping quarters. "You got kicked out, or something?"

"Nah." Yuri shrugged. "I just miss your lovely personality when you're not around.." he said without skipping a beat. Obviously having shocked or angered the young mage in the same room, the man made his way to a bed next to hers when she made no protest.

"Wha-whatever!" Rita huffed and crossed her arms defiantly over her chest. "And why are you laying down on that bed?!" she continued in outrage. "There's a perfectly good bed right over there!"

Yuri followed the line her finger was pointing and his eyes landed on the single, lonely bed at the other side of the room. "But there's a perfectly good bed right here."

Rita took a sharp intake of breath but before she could protest any further, Yuri interrupted her.

"We're all adults here, right?" he stated with a grin on his face. "We could start acting like ones." he loved how Rita's face changed from outrage to confusion then to understanding and finally a deep shaded blush adorned her face in embarrassment. "Well, good night then."

"Do you.. mean it?" the mage asked quietly in the darkness of the room.

Yuri had already laid down on his bed and could see the silhouette of Rita's figure sitting on her own bed before the window of the room, the moonlight showering her in an ethereal glow. She looked heavenly and her voice had sounded so gentle, yet so insecure that Yuri didn't know quite what to make of it. "Mean what?" he asked stoically, trying his best to keep his cool.

Rita sat there silently for a while and Yuri sorely wished she'd break the silence. He was afraid he'd taken his nonchalant attitude a little overboard, afraid he'd managed to hurt Rita, afraid that he might never-

"Nothing." Rita's said calmly and plopped down on the bed, burying her face in her pillow.

The mage's words echoed in Yuri's mind. It was a simple, single word which didn't leave much room for misinterpretation but Yuri wondered just how much meaning it had. "Nothing.." his mind whispered to himself. Nothing.. she had nothing to say after all? What nothing? Did I mean what?" He shook his head slightly, wanting to get rid of these thoughts if not for anything else, than to get some sleep. "Nothing.. I am nothing? Do I really mean that little to you? No, I'm just over thinking this like always. Nothing.."

Yuri closed his eyes tightly, hoping that by morning, all this would be forgotten.

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Next morning, the vigilante woke up still feeling tired. He hadn't slept very well but still felt invigorated by the knowledge he'd see his friends today. He got up and adorned himself in his tunic. He tied the sash tight around his waist and headed out the room with Repede silently following him. It seemed Rita had already woken up as she was nowhere to be seen. Yuri descended the stairs and made his way outside, remembering to thank the inn-keep on his way out.

It looked like a bright day was developing, sun already having climbed quite high in the sky. There seemed to be no clouds either and the weather was surprisingly stagnant, considering their proximity to the sea. Feeling a bit peckish, Yuri decided to go grab something to eat at the Sagittarius Tavern. As he entered, he could already feel his mouth watering with the delicious aroma hanging in the air. He walked to the counter and ordered some breakfast.

"Beats having to cook for myself every now and then." he stated to himself quietly and dug in. The tavern was relatively empty, most likely attracting more customers in the evening. He didn't mind though, better than having to stand a huge crowd. After finishing his food, he thanked the waitress and couldn't help but to chuckle quietly as he made his exit. He recalled the time they made Rita take on a part-time waitress job here, their group desperately needing the gald for better equipment and such. His blood flow accelerated slightly as he recalled the uniform Rita had earned from all her hard work. Those cute cat ears and an apron adorned with a pawn print, not to mention the skirt that was just slightly too short, not that Yuri didn't appreciate the eye candy. She even used to make those little feline sounds like meow and sometimes she even hissed. "I wonder what it would take to make her purr..?" Yuri quickly shook those ideas from his mind before he completely lost control of himself.

"I wonder what Karol has in mind for today?" he asked out loud, looking at Repede. The dog yawned, not seeming to care in the least. "That enthusiastic are you?" the canine whined. "Ok, let's go see what he's up to."

The long time companions made their way through the crowded streets of Dahngrest. Though it was relatively early in the morning, the streets seemed to be teeming with life.

"Heya there, younglings!" a familiar voice greeted them from behind.

Yuri stopped his movement but didn't turn around.

"What? After all this time I still get the cold shoulder?"

"Yeah, yeah." Yuri sighed and turned around. "What's up old man?"

Raven bent down from his waist. "That's all I get, huh?" he asked and stood up straight again. "After all we went through together.." he went on in his usual manner, feigning his hurt. Yuri didn't flinch and only ignored him harder. "Now you've gone and hurt this old man's feelings."

The swordsman let out an exaggerated breath. "Alright, it's good to see you again."

"What?!" Raven said in shock. "Where's the enthusiasm? Where's the happiness? I'm sure you two missed good 'ol Raven terribly!" the archer continued. "However did you manage so long without me?"

"We got by." Yuri smiled.

Repede let out an annoyed whine.

"Even you pooch?" Raven stated, feeling deflated. "Anyway, what are you two up to?"

"We were just gonna go check on Karol."

"Ah, I haven't seen the youngster today, might be still sleeping." Raven reasoned. He too had joined Brave Vesperia, Altosk didn't feel quite the same without the Don. He was happy enough now, helping Karol run the guild when time let him. Mediating between the Empire and the guilds kept him rather busy though, so he wasn't able to spend time in Dahngrest all that much. "Wanna go grab something to drink?"

"This early? I don't think I'd be able to stay awake till afternoon with your pace." Yuri laughed slightly.

"Ah youth these day, no stamina I tell you.." Raven sighed. "So, seen anyone else yet?"

"Well I met Karol yesterday and Rita is somewhere here as well. Haven't seen the others yet."

"Hmm.." Raven seemed to disappear into his own, twisted thoughts while scratching his stubby beard. "I think I'll go find our genius mage and annoy her like always. That's fun."

"What's fun?!"

Raven froze. By the look on Yuri's face, he could guess who had appeared behind his back. "Um, nothing." he tried.

"Uh-huh." Rita nodded. "You're just as annoying as ever old man!" she huffed as she came to stand before the two.

"Wow.." Raven sighed. "Looks like you've all.. grown up." he smiled goofily, tip-toeing closer to sneak a peek at her grown, albeit small cleavage.

"Try it and I'll beat you senseless!" the mage yelled, emphasizing her point by shaking her fist at him. Even though she was mad as hell right now, she couldn't help but to let a small blush break out on her face. She wasn't used to someone making observations about her body, least of all now in it's developing stage.

The blush didn't go unnoticed by Yuri, nor did Raven's little trick. He sighed but somehow couldn't help but to feel a little bit jealous.

"And what are you looking at?!" Rita shouted, pointing at Yuri accusingly. "Don't you even think about pulling something like that!"

"Me?" Yuri smirked. "Never."

"Right." Rita rolled her eyes. " 'Cause you're as pure as a dove!"

"That I am." the young man kept smirking, loving every minute of this banter. He did start to wonder what she'd do if he really did try something like Raven had. Seeing Raven on his knees on the ground, holding the top of his head in pain quickly washed such thoughts from Yuri's mind. For now at least.

"There you are!" Karol shouted happily as he came running towards the group. "Raven?" he observed and was just about to ask what happened to him before catching sight of Rita as well. "Still as violent as ever, huh?" he stated a bit too soon, realizing that it was probably a mistake to do so. He was proven correct as he too fell down on his knees, having been struck by the fiery young mage. "Ouch! Hey that hurt!"

Rita crossed her arms. "Idiot."

"Go easy on them." Yuri smiled. "Would be quite a sad reunion if two of as are down from brain damage."

"Hmph, as if." the mage huffed. "These two are too stubborn for anything like that to affect them."

"True enough." the swordsman nodded. "So, where are we off to Captain?"

Karol rubbed the top of his head. "I was thinking we could all gather at the headquarters. It'll be easy to find everyone there."

"True." Yuri nodded. "It seems we're only missing Estelle and Judith."

"Women do have a habit of making men wait." Raven said while placing his hands behind his neck. Soon he found himself on the ground again, his head pounding in pain.

"What am I then?!" Rita yelled. "Or did you just forget about me standing right here next to you?"

"Sorry Miss. Ol' Raven didn't mean any offense." the man apologized as he stood up again.

"Seriously Rita, go easy on them." Yuri pleaded and placed a calming hand on her shoulder. "The old man could kick the bucket any second now and you beating him up isn't helping things."

"Like I care!"

"Rita!"

The group turned around to locate the source of the familiar voice that sounded from their behind.

"Yuri, Karol!" Estelle noted cheerily as she raced towards the group. "Repede!" she smiled at the hound and went to pet him. The dog trotted off, still not letting the young woman pet him it seemed. Slightly bummed by this, Estelle quieted down but still walked her way to the group.

"What?!" Raven asked loudly. "Even the dog gets a greeting but what about me?!"

The Princess smiled warmly like always. "Hello everyone, I've missed you!"

"Lady Estellise! Wait for me!" a blonde haired man rushed after her.

"Flynn?!" It was Yuri's time to be a little shocked. "What are you doing here?"

"Well, it's not like we can let her highness travel alone through the country, now can we?" Flynn smiled, obviously pleased with himself for having shocked his long time friend and rival.

"I asked Flynn to be my escort, he is the most familiar of the knights to us." Estelle explained.

"I don't mind." Karol smiled. He reasoned that as he was this years host, no one could object. Obviously this didn't matter but still, none disproved of the knights presence. He was a friend to some of the group at least.

"It's settled then." the pink haired woman smiled and clapped her hands together before her chest. "Where's Judith?"

"She's not here yet." the young boy answered.

"Hmph, you'd think she'd be the first to arrive. Flying on that dragon of hers." Rita stated, her tone laced with venom. It was not like she hated the woman, not anymore. But she still felt a little resentment towards her from Judith's days as the Dragon Rider, for destroying all those blastia. Rita knew now that she had acted in the best interests of the world but hadn't known that at the time, so Judith's actions had caused some mistrust in the mage's eyes.

"As if on cue." Raven smirked, seeing the giant Entelexeia hovering in the air not far from the city. "So, what do we do now that everyone's here?"

"Well.." Karol said as they waited for Judith to land. "I've got a few ideas, if they're okay with everyone?"

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"Monster hunting, huh?" Yuri smirked, quite liking the idea.

"Are you stupid, or what?!" Rita yelled, making Karol cover behind Yuri. "Sounds exactly like something this runt would come up with!"

Estelle fidgeted with the hem of her skirt. "Um, I don't know.. I've never actually enjoyed fighting that much."

"It'll be fun." Judith said in her characteristic singsong voice, smiling slightly.

Raven stepped forward and pointed his thumb on his chest confidently. "You girls just leave everything to ol' Raven! There's nothing to worry about when I'm here!"

Rita clenched her fist and swung at the older scoundrel, who much to the girls dismay managed to dodge the incoming strike.

"Whoa!" the archer said, still crouching in his dodge. "You really got to watch that attitude of yours girl!"

"Whatever!" Rita huffed, closing her eyes defiantly. She crossed her arms in her usual manner and slightly turned away from the man.

"Anyway.." Karol hesitated slightly, his insecurities surfacing like old times. "I really hadn't come up with.. anything else, so.."

"It's fine." Yuri comforted him by placing his hand on the boy's shoulder. "So how do we go about doing this?"

Karol stepped forward and produced a scrunched up note from his huge bag. "I wrote down some ideas." he started. "We'll be pairing up, no sense in solace as this is a group activity for us." he smiled, noticing he had everyone's attention. "For each kill, grab some spoils and at the end we tally who had the most and that pair is the winner."

"Time limit?" Judith asked, her eyes already gleaming with anticipation for combat.

"Uhm.. Two hours?" Karol answered a bit insecurely. "Would that be okay?"

"Two hours it is." Yuri nodded. The time seemed reasonable, not that much time for actual combat experience but just enough for them to gather the necessary monster drops to win. This activity was also coordinated to avoid injuries as Karol had made them team up, also the chance of getting lost was diminished with two people, lastly, this exercise offered the pairs some time to catch up. All in all, Yuri was quite pleased how well Karol had organized this event. "So, how do we go about picking teams? Rock-Paper-Scissors?"

"That's easy." Ravens grinned and suddenly appeared between Judy and Estelle, placing his hands on their hips from behind, hugging them towards him. Judith didn't seem to mind that much and intentionally egged him on. Estelle seemed to turn a few shades redder on her face and instinctively pulled herself away from him. "This is my team!" Raven said triumphantly.

"Well, one of us has to be a three-man cell anyway." Judith noted.

"I ah.." Estelle stammered, staring her feet uncomfortably. "I don't think this set up will work."

"Princess!" Raven said shocked. "You wound me!"

"I'll make the call." Karol said suddenly, unusual sprout of confidence rising from him. He considered his options for a while. He didn't want to team up those he knew would get nothing done except ague and fight each other, so Rita and Raven were no good. Actually, pairing Rita with anyone would likely cause the same effect. Repede and Yuri had already spent the year together, so there was no point I pairing them up. Pairing anyone with Repede seemed pointless anyway, since the dog was unable to take part in any conversation, for obvious reasons. Raven could not be paired up with Estelle, preferably not with Judith either. He himself would have preferred to go with Yuri but knew that they'd have time to catch up later, when Yuri would finally settle in Dahngrest and help up with the guild. He didn't want to be teamed up with Rita, self preservation instinct kicking in.

"This is taking too long!" Rita yelled. "If you seriously want us to partake in something as stupid as this, get on with it!

"Fine, but don't complain to me if you don't like your team!" Karol snapped back. "It'll be your own fault for hurrying me!"

"Whatever, just pick the teams! The mage shouted back.

Karol looked at the people before him, forming a semi-circle of sorts. He noticed that they were lined up pretty well if he was to pair them with the person standing next to them. "Okay, the person standing on your left is your partner."

The group looked around. "Hey, I don't have anyone standing on my left!" Raven said in surprise.

Karol sighed. "I know, that means we're a team." he already hated the idea.

The teams divided. Karol and Raven, Judith, Estelle and Repede and finally Yuri and Rita. The swordsman couldn't believe his luck, or the lack there of. He knew Rita's fiery temperament and knew she'd most likely want to get this over and done with as soon as possible which meant she'd hog all the over-limit to herself. He could already hear her frantic, battle juiced speech. "Blah, blah, blah, Tidal Wave!" And he loved it all.

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"So, how have you been doing?" Yuri asked to fill a silent space between their battles. The air around them had been rather.. awkward for this whole hunting trip and Rita had offered no indication that she was about to change that.

The mage glanced over her shoulder towards the man behind him. "What kind of question is that?" she asked snidely. "Is there something specific you wanted to know or are you just filling the silence with a cliched and overly used question that actually bears no meaning?"

Not taken aback by Rita's outburst but instead rather enjoying it, Yuri smirked lightly and retorted. "Okay, something specific.." the swordsman mumbled, cradling his chin between his thumb and index finger. "How's the research going then?" he thought he'd start by something simple.

"It's not like you'd understand even if I explained it and you're not really interested in my research anyway." Rita bit. "Why don't you ask what you really have in mind?"

"Not one to beat around the bush?" Yuri laughed. "It seems you haven't changed all that much."

"Hmph!" Rita huffed and crossed her arms. "And you're just as annoying as ever! Honestly, I can't seem to figure you out sometimes!"

The swordsman was slightly surprised by Rita's answer. "How am I difficult to read? It's not like I try to hide things or intentionally try to throw people off.."

They made their way through the thick forests around the city. Sun was starting to set low in the sky, though it wouldn't be sunset for couple of more hours. The tree leaves rustled lightly in the breeze, the sand and grass beneath their feet made a mixture of slushy and grained sounds and occasionally a stick or a branch would snap from the weight of their booted feet. Yuri watched as the small woman strode before him and he noticed a small sway on her hips, it was completely feminine if a little less pronounced as that of say Judith for example. He wondered how he hadn't noticed that before. He came to a sudden stop as he pumped into something in front of him.

Yuri came crashing down, having lost his balance as his feet found no stable landing after the sudden halt in his movement. Instinctively he closed his eyes before he stumbled down, suddenly noticing that his landing had been softened by something. He opened his eyes and could only see two, deep green pools interlocked with his gray ones. He had fallen right on top of Rita, the mage girl was now tightly squeezed between him and the ground, his face mere inches away from hers. For a moment, the two simply stared at each other. Yuri was too lost in those captivating green eyes and his body was overloaded with different signals, sounds and smells emitting from the young woman beneath him. As if it was the most natural thing to do in this situation, he slowly, very slowly brought his face closer to hers all the while maintaining eye contact. His pulse quickened as Rita's lips parted slightly, invitingly, drawing him closer and closer. He felt the small draft of her breath on his cheek and nearly lost all control as Rita closed her eyes, a small blush rising on her cheeks, her actions granting him the permission to close the gap fully, to finally press his lips tenderly on hers...

!SNAP!

The two of them started rolling down the hill they had crashed on, their combined weight making the edge of the crevice give in. Yuri somehow managed to do a small forward roll, his feet finding solid enough ground beneath them to stop his movement. He looked around to see a small cloud of dust at the bottom of the cliff, which luckily, wasn't too steep and long. He slid down, quickly racing to the receding dust. "Hey, you alright?" his voice was laced slightly with panic, not being able to hide it with the raw emotions still lingering on his body. "Rita!" he shook her gently, carefully examining if she was visibly injured.

After he got her into a sitting position, the mage started coughing, getting the dust she had most likely just inhaled out of her lungs. "Here." Yuri finally offered her a bottle of water when she stopped.

"Thanks." Rita said hoarsly, the dust having dried her throat.

While awkwardly stealing glances from each other, the duo continued their hunt for a while more. They didn't spend the time in complete silence but both steered away from the subject now constanly plaguing their minds. At least, the almost kiss was instantly played on Yuri's eyes as soon as he closed them, heat starting to swell in his chest and groin fom rememberance. He couldn't tell what Rita was thinking, though her nervous glances towards him indicated that she too was thinking about it. Not wanting to be too smooth about it, being careful not to give Rita any wrong ideas about his intent, Yuri opened his mouth to speak.

"This is probably enough!" the mage stated more loudly than she intended, wanting to be the first to speak as she saw the swordsman about to do so. She flinched slightly from her tone, the urgency clearly visible even in her body language. "We should.. head back!"

"Alright." the vigilante sighed. He had hoped to settle this here, away from the prying eyes of others. Sadly, that was not to be.

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"Alright!" Karol yelled, his voice filled with enthusiasm. "We have a winner!"

Everyone gathered closer to him in the hall of Brave Vesperia's headquarters. The anticipation was not all that great, the hunt hadn't really been a contest, well, not to everyone.

"The winners by the slightly better score than others are..." he drew his announcement, hoping to spring some excitement. "Estelle, Judith and Repede!" Karol pronounced, popping a small tube cracker above them, sending small ribbons and pieces of paper flying above them. "Congrats guys!"

"Yay, we won!" Estelle seemed happy, even though she had been slightly against this activity in the start.

"Well, you did have the upper hand." Yuri smiled slightly. "With three members and all."

"Aw." Judith cooed and stepped closer to Yuri. "Who knew you were such a sore loser?" she traced his chin with her finger and winked at him seductively.

The man swallowed heavily and glanced at Rita quickly, trying not to get noticed watching. Rita was leaning on one of the tables in the hall, her arms crossed over her chest in their usual manner and she was looking to the side, her face slightly downcast. Yuri wasn't sure if she had seen this little exchange, but if she had, she certainly wasn't making any kind of outward indication of it.

"This is so unfair.." Raven sighed in defeat. "I'm a sore loser too.." he pouted towards Judith, hoping to receive the same kind of attention she had offered to Yuri.

"My, my." the lancer giggled. "Aren't you boys such a group of sore losers." she smiled innocently, though everyone in the group already knew there was no such thing as innocent with Judy.

"I'm not!" Karol quickly defended. "Anyway.." he quickly began, seeing Judy making her way to him with a wicked smirk on her beautiful face."I hadn't really thought of anything other to do.. Maybe we could have an outdoor dinner?"

"That sounds like a wonderful idea, Karol!" Estelle cheered, clasping her hands together eagerly. "It's such a beautiful evening, clear and crisp!"

Flynn took a few step closer to the Princess. "I bet the stars are something to see at night, when it's this clear outside."

"Yes." the pink haired woman nodded. "There's a beach near by isn't there Karol?"

"Uhm, yeah, it's not that far from here!" he said with enthusiasm. "That's a great idea Estelle!" he continued, taking his excited crouching position. "We can have a barbeque on the beach, make a large bonfire, play all kinds of games!"

"Not ta mention dipping to ta sea." Raven whistled low. "I mean all these babes in bikinis." he said giddily, closing his eyes to make a mental image. His thoughts turned to a blur as something hit him hard in the head.

"Idiot." Rita said angrily, her trademark smack cracking on the older man's head.

"Alright, let's do this then!" Yuri smiled, ushering everyone out. "Could you guys bring the entertainment?" he asked a group of his guild members, standing close by. "Karol will give you a list of what to get."

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It was already around nine a clock in the evening as Rita made her way closer to the buffet, hoping to grab something relatively light to eat at this late an hour. Yuri followed her with his eyes, still maintaining a respectable distance as the genius mage didn't seem all that enthusiastic to engage in a conversation. The swordsman spotted Estelle approaching Rita, grabbing her had, trying hard to get her closer to the water.

The evening had turned out to be a bit chilly, so no one dared to go swim (much to Raven's disappointment) but a few of the group did stroll back and forth on the shore line, getting their feet wet on the foamy waves washing over the sand. Yuri didn't bother with it though, and it seemed Rita didn't either as both of them were still wearing their earlier clothes. Others had changed into something a bit shorter on their legs, to prevent getting wet clothes, which were undeniably uncomfortable to be in.

Rita shook her head vigorously at the warmhearted Princess, pulling her hand away from hers. Estelle pouted slightly but was happy oblige Flynn, who suddenly guided her towards the moist sand, holding her hand as they went. "Looks like I might have been right.." Yuri smirked, happy for the two. He was slightly concerned however, since there were rumors flying around the capital about the nobility's idea of engaging Estelle and Ioder. An arranged marriage between the two would certainly improve the relations between the council and the Imperial knights but things hardly ever were as simple as they seemed.

Mustering up his courage, Yuri approached the small woman, now seated on a makeshift bench made from a large driftwood log. She was nibbling silently on her late dinner, seemingly lost in thought so she didn't notice the swordsman's approach. He sat down next to her, catching a sideways glance of her face, which seemed to glow beautifully in the warm glow of the bonfire before them. "Hey." Yuri greeted silently, still keeping his eyes at the others, running around the beach.

"Hey.." Rita returned the greeting, her voice merely above a whisper.

For once deciding to leave his snide comments and aloof attitude aside, Yuri gently placed his hand on her small shoulder, waiting until she turned to look at him. "Do you think.. we could go somewhere to talk?" he asked, his usual confidence abandoning him in his blight. "Somewhere, more private?"

Although it was difficult to distinguish in the warm glow of the fire, Yuri was certain he could see a blush rising to her face. He took it as a good sign, her long silence however, was threatening to turn him mad. After what seemed like an eternity, Rita nodded and rose to her feet. After placing her plate down on the bench, she quickly dusted the sand from the hem of her tunic and waited Yuri to lead them to his desired location.

They made their way more towards inland, Yuri wanting to make sure they were not disturbed. He walked slowly, trying his best to come up with a strategy to approach this matter. As his feet started walking on grass instead of sand, he finally stopped and sat down, hoping Rita would follow his example. She sat down next to him but made sure to keep a certain safe distance, she was noticeably upset as she brought her knees to her chest and rested her hands on her ankles, her chin taking support from one of her knees. From where they were sitting, Yuri noticed that they had a perfect view of the ocean and the foamy waves hitting the beach, the stars shone brightly above them and the large bonfire they had made with the whole group now looked like a small flame from a match.

"So.." Yuri started but was quickly silenced as he felt something warm resting on his shoulder. He glanced to his side, noticing how Rita slightly inched closer to him, resting her head on him. He smiled warmly but dared not to speak, he was afraid it would ruin the moment. The two sat there a moment, completely satisfied with the silence, feeling no need to break the comfortable stillness that now surrounded them.

"Look!" Rita suddenly said, pointing a slender finger towards the sky. "A shooting star."

And indeed as Yuri looked up, a star was racing quickly it way across the horizon, disappearing somewhere beneath the ocean currents. "Pretty." he stated in awe, both at the star and at Rita. There was a magical sparkle in her eyes as she watched the star, a small smile adorned her cute face and the small breeze coming from the sea made her short, brunette hair wave calmly, framing her face beautifully.

Rita turned around to look at Yuri, who was now openly staring at her, not making any moves to hide it. The mage turned her face away for a while, trying to will the blush rising to her cheeks away. It didn't work but she didn't seem to mind as she turned back to look at Yuri, their eyes meeting once again, staring each other intently. "Pretty." Yuri stated again, a confident grin marking his mouth as he managed to make her blush once more, even more profusely than before.

"I-idiot!" Rita hissed quite loudly, tensing up as Yuri snaked his arm around her.

"Yeah, maybe I am." the man responded, still smiling though. "But you'll forgive this idiot when-!" his talk was cut short as suddenly, very quickly two soft lips pressed against his, engaging him in a tentative kiss. He didn't react quite quickly enough as she soon withdrew from him, unshed tears moistening the corners of her eyes. He recovered from the initial surprise with haste, rushing to feel those lips on his again. He leaned them downwards, gently laying her down on the grass all the while supporting her small frame like she was made from glass.

Rita rested on her back and Yuri half climbed on top of her, still keeping his legs on her side but laying some of his torso on top of hers. He supported his weight on his elbow, allowing Rita to use the crook of it as a comfort for her neck. The swordsman had never know such tranquility as he was carefully allowed to explore her lips with his, the ecstasy of it all sending lightning coursing through his veins. He forced his tongue into her mouth and began to explore, finding it easy to dominate her inexperienced one. She released a small, primal gutter from the depths of her throat, the sound resonating intensely in his mouth. He released her small, pink lips and quickly placed his mouth on her neck, sucking and licking it hectically with no rhythm to speak of. Yuri kissed her neck, traced her jawline with his tongue, sucked on top of her windpipe and was more than happy to absorb all the little whimpers and moans that escaped her mouth.

As the pace of their kisses intensified, Yuri grunted as his pants suddenly felt a little tight for comfort. Rita's flustered face and her little sounds didn't help the matter so he couldn't help but to bring one of his hands to gently cup her breast, kneading it through the fabric relentless abandon. He felt Rita's buck her hips forward, egging him on to continue, forbidding him from stopping his ministrations which at this point were far from timid and gentle.

"Yuri.." she whispered his name painfully as he squeezed a hardened nipple between his thumb and index finger. He rolled it around feverishly all the while kissing her from neck up. Yuri repositioned himself, crawling to wholly topple her, his knee parting her thighs so that he was able place weight on it. The knee now wedged between her tights pressed on her core slightly, providing just enough friction to send Rita over the edge. The small mage achieved her very first climax as Yuri filled her mouth with his tongue, his hand kneaded on her breast and his knee pressed on her womanhood.

The swordsman suddenly felt Rita tensing up slightly, the hands she had placed on her back clenched tightly, scrunching the fabric of his tunic tightly into her fists. Her expression was that of bliss, so he knew her sudden lack of movement was due to pleasure not pain. He crashed on top of her, feeling rather spent even though he had really done nothing.

The waves of raw pleasure seemed to subside in Rita as she began to relax, breathing heavily under Yuri. He climbed up, smiling contently as their eyes met for the first time during this act. Rita's eyes glistened and she had a small, shy smile spread across her lips. A single bead of sweat ran down her cheek onto her chin and from there continued down over her windpipe, before disappearing to the canyon of her cleavage. No words needed to be said as the two looked each other in the eyes, knowing this would mark a whole new chapter in their lives

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A/N: Here is another chapter out for you guys! Hope you enjoy it!

Thank you all who took the time to read the first chapter and thank you for all the
watches/favorites, they mean a lot to me!

Special thanks to PhantomDark, a guest reviewer for my first ever review!
Hopefully you'll enjoy this chapter as well!

-FluffyDireBunny-