Kyoko’s intuition was spot on. She was going to be doing her final practical fight with her intended husband. It didn’t phase her at all. When in training all were fair game. The issue was of how hard he would push her, and if he had any emotional feelings for her that may hinder his fighting ability. She figured he was trained well enough to cut off those emotions, and to do the best he could regardless of his opponent. Kyoko was keen to have Lucas administer the written exam. She seemed to have found a kindred spirit there, but Kahue…Kyoko felt there was something going on that wasn’t being aired. Was it possible that Kahue had eyes for Kazuhiko? Were they ever a couple once? She certainly carried on like someone that was from his past. The animosity was pretty clear. Kyoko continued to listen to the Prince, while he spoke about how they have a tradition whereby there go to a underground nightclub run by witches. It was a typical affair, with all the loud music, strobe lights and one could imagine a full on crowd of patrons. The way Kazuhiko said that she was not obligated to go, but that Lucas and Kahue would be there had her wonder, if he really wanted her there. She paused, but as she was about to speak, a servant interrupted and brought in their breakfast plates. Kyoko acknowledged the servant and then lifted a fork, before saying.
“I’m not sure if I have suitable attire for a night out like that. I can dig around through my chest and see though. I know I want to contact my second back in Nephailim about the possibility of coming here to be part of the Arsenal. Course, I have to pass first.”
She wasn’t exactly saying she would accept the invitation, what with having a lot on her mind right now. Kyoko set down her fork on the plate and looked at him with her darkening eyes.
“Were you and Kahue….ever close?”
This was now a question of curiosity, if she could get an idea on why Kahue acted the way she did towards her.
It sounded as if Kyoko was trying to talk her way out of the night’s festivities and Kazuhiko couldn’t help but feel a little dejected as he had very much wanted her to attend. If it was a matter of attire, he could surely provide the funds for her to go shopping, but he didn’t want it to seem like he was trying to buy her off, so he withheld the suggestion. He remained quiet as she spoke and started to nibble small portions of his fish. It completely caught him off guard when Kyoko asked if there was ever anything more than friendship between him and Kahue. He nearly choked on his food and had to take a sip of water to recover.
“Oh god no. I would have surely tried to kill her by now… She was the fiance of the Second Lieutenant we recently lost, Casimiro Alberici. I honestly don’t know how he dealt with her because she was like that before…” he cut himself short not wanting to open old wounds. Trying to bring the conversation full circle, he brought up the club again. “If it’s Kahue you’re worried about, she typically plants herself at the bar the whole time. And I could show you where the shops and such are.”
When you are on a hunch or suspect something is wrong, chances are that your deductions might be well off the mark from what is true and what is imagined. For a woman to be openly hostile, there is always a chance it is to do with jealousy. That is what Kyoko expected. However, from Kazuhiko’s explanation, that Kahue was engaged to the man that had recently been killed and was also Kazuhiko’s best friend, Kyoko felt like she had really put her foot in her mouth. Oh how wrong she had been.
Kyoko suddenly lost her appetite, and set down her serviette and glanced towards the window. Her hand joined and she rested her elbows on the table, her chin supported by her upturned fists.
“And here I am…coming in to take a place in the Arsenal, more or less replacing her lost love. No wonder she hates me.”
It would take a great deal to get past Kahue’s emotional wall, if there was ever any chance of them being friends. Working as a team meant you needed absolute trust in your fellows, or the whole fabric can tear apart. Kyoko realized she had a lot to do, to gain this woman’s friendship, or respect at least. Kazuhiko explained she had had the same temperament before her fiancee died.
Having spoken her mind, Kyoko pushed back on her chair, and rose to standing. She realized that she was going to have to put in more effort, not only with her team members of the Arsenal, but also Kazuhiko, who was obviously trying hard to make her feel included.
“Could you show me where the shops are? I have money, just….I don’t know where anything here is.” Walking around the table, she came to his side, and faced him.
“Please don’t think I don’t appreciate everything you are doing for me. Especially with the team. I’d really like to go to this club…and with you.”
It felt like the conversation was going more and more in a somber direction. Kazuhiko had always thought of Kahue as one of the guys and had never really took the time to worry about her feelings. It had always seemed like she had no feelings, but now that he thought about it, Casimiro’s death had to be affecting her more than it was him. They were to start a new life together and Kahue did smile a lot more when Casimiro was around. He had brought out the best in her and she had reverted to her old ways tenfold after his death.
Kazuhiko felt bad that Kyoko felt that she was to blame for Kahue’s demeanor. “Don’t worry yourself over Kahue. She really just likes busting the new recruits chops. When you prove yourself tomorrow, I guarantee you that she will respect you,” he said trying to reassure her. Suddenly she stood and asked him to show her where the shops where. Feeling as though it was the right thing to do, he got up from his chair as well. She came to stand by his side and he found himself staring into her eyes again. For some reason he wanted to reach out and stroke her dark, silky curtain of hair. His eyes kept traveling to her lips, so soft and pink, the bottom half very plump and sexy.
“I-I would be happy to accompany you anywhere.” It slipped out before he really knew what he was saying, but he couldn’t take it back.
“I-I would be happy to accompany you anywhere.”
Whether he meant to say it, or didn’t the Prince let his inner feelings come out in a way that even surprised Kyoko. They both stood there for the moment, as he seemed to be looking her over from her hair to her lips. He stammered when he spoke, almost unsure of himself. The conversation up to this point had been strained, as Kyoko sought answers about Kahue’s treatment of her. The feeling of guilt was dissipating, but being replaced by something else entirely. From the stolen glances when in the royal hall, to the time he answered her door, she was seeing more and more of him in a different light. The evaluation and the eventual fight between them, was going to be dynamic and exciting, and part of her could hardly wait. There would be one winner, but who would it be?
“Anywhere?” Her voice softened as she reached out to touch his cheek. Kyoko’s eyes imploring him. Just to let go of the protocol, and do what he had wanted to do. She was standing right there, with no one to stop them, or interrupt them. Her lips parted just slightly, as she held in her breath.
The tension that had once tainted the conversation was no where to be found. Kyoko’s voice was nearly a whisper when she spoke and her fingers were like feathers on his cheek. Kazuhiko felt like any action he took from this point would be a gamble. He wanted to kiss her and he was relatively sure that she was inviting him to do so, but there was propriety to consider. Then there was also the very real possibility of regret on her part. Why did she make him feel so uneasy he wondered to himself as he continued to gaze at her for what seemed like an eternity
Caution to the wind
Keeping his eyes open at first, Kazuhiko leaned forward and gently touched his lips to Kyoko’s. She held then slightly parted and it gave him a chance to explore. They were soft and supple, leaving him with a feeling of intoxication.
It was hard to believe that this wasn’t a dream or his imagination. He had met Kyoko only two days ago, but he already felt like something unstoppable was forming between them. Letting his hands travel to her waist he pressed her up against the window, glad that his balcony overlooked the typically deserted castle grounds. The kiss deepened and he felt his heart rate rising, his desire becoming undeniable. If their tryst lasted much longer, all manner of control was sure to be lost and he wasn’t ready to completely give in to his inner beast. He relinquished her lips and moved his hand to rest on the glass behind her. Leaning there smiling, he gazed into her eyes. His voice felt like it would break if he spoke, so he used thought speech.
Oh my dear, sweet Miss Takiharah, what are you doing to me? Go and take care of your business and I will meet you back here four hours from now to take you shopping.
So new…gentle and exploring. That was the way Kyoko and Kazuhiko’s first kiss would be. Lips barely touching, with Kyoko’s slightly apart, that allowed Kazuhiko to got that bit further. The young Nephailim’s eyelids closed, when Kazuhiko pressed her up against the window, his hands on her waist. Taking another gentle step as the kiss deepened. Kyoko’s response was a gentle action, submitting in kind and pressing her hands to his chest. For those few seconds, a spark passed between them, before Kazuhiko pulled away. He was not ready to give all to her, yet had just experienced a taste of her…and he may well have liked it.
Kyoko’s eyes opened, only to see him still there and looking at her with such a smile. But he chose to speak from the mind, rather than use his voice.
Oh my dear, sweet Miss Takiharah, what are you doing to me? Go and take care of your business and I will meet you back here four hours from now to take you shopping.
Is this really happening between us? I know not what I do. I will however go do as you wish, and get ready to go out shopping later.
Those words said mind to mind, she side stepped him and then left his room quietly. Going down the hall, she brushed her lips with her finger tips and smiled. He tasted so good, and she knew she wanted more. But to rush now was a fools game. At least they had experienced a kiss. No doubt, her dreams would be filled with him.
Kazuhiko, Lucas and Kahue
After Kyoko’s departure, Kazuhiko turned and leaned against the window. Her words stayed with him as thoughts of her body pressed against him clouded his mind. Fate truly could be a funny thing as the odds had been high for them to have been nothing more than passing acquaintances. Instead there was this intense magnetism between them that he could not fathom. Subconsciously blowing stray hairs out of his face, he sat back down at his place at the table. The succulent fragrance of the food under his nose was too much for him to continue to ignore and he found himself eating both servings of the mahi-mahi.
After he was done he set about the task of sending a messenger to retrieve Lucas and Kahue from the Air Brigade. There were a few things he wanted to discuss before the outing that night and the test the following day. It took them a little over forty minutes to arrive and in the mean time he set about finding something suitable to wear to the nightclub. Sadly, his closet was sorely lacking and he would have to shop for something as well. There was a knock at the door before Kahue entered followed closely by Lucas
“You summoned us, your majesty,” Kahue said blandly. Kazuhiko stared at her out of the corner of his eye and almost laughed remembering Kyoko thought there had been something between them. He shuddered and got back to the matters at hand. “I called you two here because Second Lieutenant Takiharah has been approved for the Rise Arsenal evaluation. The test is to take place tomorrow at the Arsenal headquarters at 11am.”
Kahue smiled a devilish smile and sat in one of the comfortable armchairs in Kazuhiko’s living room. “So husband and wife go head to head. Tomorrow will be entertaining indeed,” she said with slight malice in her voice. Kazuhiko continued to speak as if he hadn’t heard her. “That being said, we will follow the normal tradition. Except, Kahue, if I find out you have done anything to sabotage Kyoko, you will be terminated immediately. This team no longer has room for anyone who does not elevate the team. I do not aim to diminish your pain, but we have all suffered a great loss as of late and if your disrespectful behavior had started after Casimiro’s death, I probably wouldn’t be saying these things to you. But I think it is time for you to grow up.”
Kahue stared him down incredulously. “Who the hell do you think you are, anyway! I do what I want when I want, Kazuhiko,” she said as she stood and crossed to the door. “This bitch has got you completely wrapped around her finger.” And with that she opened the door and slammed it hard behind her.
Lucas shook his head and let out the breath he hadn’t known his was holding. “That was a bit harsh Kazu. This has to be affecting her harder than any of us. She just needs some time,” he said coming to stand in front of Kazuhiko.
“Time is a luxury we no longer have. The humans have become bold enough to enter our territory. Something sinister lurks on the horizon. She either learns to be cordial or she no longer has a place on this team. We have been putting up with her antics for years,” Kazuhiko said with conviction signifying that the matter was decided.
Little did Kyoko know, but plans had already been put in place, to bring her second over from Nephaililm. Much to her surprise, as she turned the last corner, still feeling a bit giddy about the kiss from Kazuhiko, a surprise was waiting for her. It was none other than Toshiro Ishara. He lifted his head, whilst leaning against the wall near her chambers and had a smug look about him when he saw Kyoko wearing her flight gear.
“Don’t you ever take that off?” He joked, as Kyoko let out a girly squeal and ran the last few steps, where he picked her up by the hips and spun her around. Best friends from a young age in the academy, they had been through thick and thin together, and many suspected that they had been lovers by how close they were. Kyoko smiled at him incredously as he set her down and beamed at her.
“When did you get here?” Kyoko asked, still shocked to see him, especially wearing a civilian suit. He racked his hand through his hair and shrugged in a nonchalant fashion. “About an hour ago. This place is crazy, and harder to navigate than some of the courses back home.” Laughing, Kyoko opened the door to her apartment, and Toshiro ventured inside. He whistled when he saw all the fancy decor and furniture, before rounding on her and asking.
“This…is so not you, Kyoko.” He thought she was always so low key and lived in a humble fashion back in their home nation. It was all a bit much for Toshiro to take in. Kyoko shrugged lightly and then asked.
“Want some tea?’ Now that made Toshiro laugh all the more. “No..I don’t want some TEA, I want to know how you are coping with this whole..arranged marriage gig. What is the Prince like, anyways? Stuck up snob that got given his medals and not earnt them?’ Kyoko stopped and put her hands on her hips. She really didn’t like Toshiro speaking about Kazuhiko like that…especially after what happened in his apartment. She twirled her right toe on the ground and said. “He is actually a very dedicated member of the Arsenal and has the respect of his people.”
Toshiro took a seat and folded his arms, looking at Kyoko squarely with a cocked head. “Oh don’t tell me you have fallen for the guy. You have been here..what? Two days?”
Kyoko started to fidget and she stammered. “You don’t understand…”
At this Toshiro got to his feet and crossed the floor, standing in front of her. His face was deadly serious.
“I can’t explain it. I just…he…why are you being so mean?’ She then slapped his arm and he chuckled loudly.
“I…don’t want to see you get hurt. Honestly, I think this whole marriage thing is a joke. You are a top fighter, I just don’t see why they couldn’t get him a model or something.”
Clearly, he was going to be hard to make understand, and Kyoko sighed. She had a shopping date with him in four hours, and hopefully by then Toshiro would have found his own quarters. But instead, he sat back down and grinned.
“Now…about that cup of tea.”
Kazuhiko and Lucas
To pass the time, Kazuhiko asked Lucas to stay and chat for a while. They sat on his balcony with tall, ice-cold glasses of lemonade. The air was warm and smelled strongly of fresh cut grass from the well groomed acres of the castle. There was a large hand print smeared on the glass that Kazuhiko hoped Lucas didn’t see, but was quite sure she did. It kept reminding him of what had transpired there not too long ago.
“How can I already be falling for her?” he asked his friend of three years.
“Often these things can’t be understood or explained. Just try not to take her for granted,” Lucas said shrugging slightly.
“Trust me, I know all too well that time is precious.”
The minutes flew by as they caught up on each other’s lives and what they thought should be the next course of action for the Arsenal. After two hours had passed, Kazuhiko bid Lucas farewell and started to prepare for his shopping date with Kyoko. He hadn’t showered that morning and he wanted to change out of his uniform. The warm water felt soothing and he left the bathroom feeling refreshed. He rubbed a towel over his wet hair and donned the outfit he had wore briefly that morning. It was almost time to meet up with Kyoko and he was starting to feel nervous. He hoped that things wouldn’t be awkward between them now.