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"Helping Hand" by Ria


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Ria: *waves* ‘Lo! Meh name is Ria_chan, your humble authoress/host today! ^ ^ I’m sure most of you who are reading this already know me, but whatever! ^-^ Anyway, here I am, getting started on my first Saiyuki fic! *happy* That show rocks so hard. *nods* This is a one-shot, pairing you with the great Kougaiji! *grins* You know, I’ve never actually seen a fic that pairs the reader with him…so I guess I’m the first to do so! Yatta~! *celebrates* He’s really an awesome guy…dunno why there aren’t more fics with him…oh well. Right, enough talking! *bows* I hope you enjoy it!! ^-^

Disclaimer: I do not own Saiyuki, any of its characters, or you.
~*~Helping Hand~*~


You so did not need it to start raining.

It had been threatening to do so for quite some time now with ominous rumbles of thunders and even some streaks of lightning. The mass of dark gray clouds overhead was not very reassuring either. Still, you begged the heavens to hold off on the downpour until you at least reached an inn. The village was only a little ways away now! If only you could get a roof overhead your head before it started raining…that’s all you asked. After you reached an inn it could rain all it wanted. But if it would just hold off until then…

You hadn’t been having a very good week. Not only did your companions abandon you just because they found out you were a demon–no matter how much you tried to convince them that there were some good youkai still left, they refused to listen to you; wait, scratch that, they had tried to kill you–which left you wandering around Shangri-La all alone, thank you very much. You hated being all alone; you kind of had security issues. It’s not like you could blame them or anything, but you started to get insecure and bitter if you were constantly blamed and hated for all the horrible stuff (which seemed to be happening more and more frequently lately). You didn’t particularly like human contact (but then again, youkai weren’t much better–they kept trying to get you to join them and couldn’t take a “no”), you tended to get testy when around too many people, but was the hope of being accepted such a terrible, bad wish? … Yeah, you were kind of a strange, contradicting individual…

Anyway, besides being abandoned, you got lost, fell down a ravine into a river, and thus lost all of your food and your spare set of clothing. Then, to top it all off, you were attacked by a bunch of crazed demons wanting to kill you for not joining them in their resurrection of their dear Gyumaoh. You…didn’t support the revival. Why? Well, maybe because you were sort of a novelty in Shangri-La: you actually had morals. And you were demon! Gasp! You did not want the world torn apart in another war. In fact, you quite liked getting along with humans. This little decision of yours, however, made you very unpopular with demons. You had managed to overcome and kill them, but they had wounded you. It wasn’t a deep gash or anything, but having a wound on your leg was a real bother, especially when trying to avoid drawing notice to yourself for fear of being killed/driven away. Boy, not very many people seemed to like you very much it seemed.

And now, to make everything all the worse, the first few drops of wetness were beginning to fall.

Great. Weren’t you just the luckiest person in the world?

Shivering, drawing your non-too heavy clothes tighter around you, you bowed your head and increased your pace.

Oh yes, very lucky indeed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lirin paused, her head cocked to one side slightly. Frowning, she looked up, large green eyes puzzled. A minute later she winced as a drop of water hit her right in said eyes. Scowling, rubbing her face as if it was infected, she childishly stuck her tongue out at the sky. It retaliated by sending even more rain down. Oh joy. “Well this isn’t going to help things!” she shouted, shaking her head in a useless attempt to free her orange hair of the clinging wet drops of liquid. “How am I supposed to find somewhere good to eat in this downpour?!” In the back of her mind, she absently wondered if she would be able to find the dragon she had…ahem…taken for the purpose of the journey if a downpour ensued, but that thought was quickly wiped from her mind when the shout reached her ears.

“Lirin!”

The small youkai flinched, sending a wide-eyed look over her shoulder. Despite the curtain of steadily falling rain, she could easily make out the figure heading towards her.

Kougaiji. And he did not look happy.

“Well, it seems it’s time for me to go!”

Lirin immediately ran off, thinking to hide in the ensuing downpour. Too bad she forgot one thing.

She wasn’t exactly dressed in dull, easily missed colors.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You didn’t expect it, that was for sure.

One minute you were simply walking, huddled in your coat as you continued your now-frantic search for an inn. You barely had time to register the colorful thing headed straight for you. And the next minute you had been knocked back a few paces, something having just come at you with the speed of an enraged youkai. Luckily the thing was smaller than yourself, and you managed to keep your footing although your wounded leg screamed in protest. The thing before you pulled away, strong hands gripped your shoulders. And you found out that the thing was actually a young female youkai. She glared at you for a moment, then grinned broadly.

That in itself couldn’t mean a good thing. That grin…it was evil! Whoever the hell this was, she was planning something!

You started to open your mouth to demand to know what was happening, but before you could get any words out, there came an angry cry from the direction in which the youkai had come.

“Lirin!”

The youkai flinched, giving you the knowledge that this was Lirin. She gave you a rather apologetic look, murmuring “sorry” before spinning you around and throwing you.

You yelled in indignation, bracing yourself for the fall into the cold, wet mud. Instead, however, you hit another person–presumably the one who had been calling for Lirin. The little youkai had been stronger than you expected, and the force sent you stumbling. Strong hands steadied you, and you found yourself cradled in the arms of Lirin’s pursuer. Slowly you looked up, your eyes meeting rather annoyed violet ones shielded by silky tresses of hair the color of crimson. Well, whoever this stranger was, he was very handsome. Pushing that thought quickly out of your head, you spun and tore yourself out of his grasp, looking for the little youkai. She was gone, however, disappeared in the rain.

You growled in annoyance, hands clenching into fists. “Impertinent little brat!” you yelled into the storm, shaking your fist in what you believed to be her general direction. Still grumbling under your breath, you turned back around and found the stranger staring at you. You blinked, feeling heat rise to your cheeks in embarrassment.

“I apologize for my little sister,” the stranger said politely. His voice sent shivers running up and down your spine…of course, that could also just be due to the rain and your soaking wet clothes.

You shrugged nonchalantly. “Well, no harm done,” you replied.

Bowing his head slightly, the man moved past you and resumed his search for the mischievous Lirin. Smiling for some odd reason, you shook your head in amusement and moved off as well.

Ten minutes later you stood in the common room of the only available inn, shivering as water steadily dripped off you. You were freezing and wanted nothing more than to retire to your room and step into a hot bath. Shifting from foot to foot, you waited impatiently for the innkeeper to find the desired key. At last he straightened with a triumphant “haha!” and handed you the small copper key.

“You’re mighty lucky, miss,” the innkeeper said with a wink. “Got the last room, that you did. The whole town has only three inns, and the other two are already filled! Yes, very lucky indeed.” The man continued to nod to himself, looking pleased with himself for some reason or another.

Smiling slightly, you murmured a polite thank you before eagerly traipsing up the stairs and into the room. It was plain but homey. Two small beds were pushed up against either wall, and a dresser stood between them, right opposite of the door. A window was above the dresser, and rain continuously lashed against the glass. The world outside was dark and foreboding, and you were immensely glad to be inside. It wasn’t a large room, with barely enough room for the two beds and a small metal tub for bathing between them. That would be removed later, but it was by far the most welcome sight at the moment. Steam rose from the hot water, making you shiver in anticipation. You closed and locked the door before stripping. You winced as you peeled your pants off, bits of material sticking to the nasty, barely bound wound on your leg. The strain on it from walking so much made the wound resist healing and throb constantly. Hissing in pain, you hobbled over to the tub and gratefully sank into the hot depths.

You didn’t know how long you lay there after scrubbing away the dirt and scum that came with travel. You might even have fallen asleep, for when the heavy knock came on the door, it sure scared the heck outta you. Groaning, you pushed yourself up, slowly rising from the now temperate water. “Just a minute!” you yelled to the insistent knocking. Grabbing your now dry shirt, you pulled it on. The white material fell nearly to your knees, so you didn’t feel any need to pull on your pants. Besides, your ever-annoying wound didn’t want any material rubbing up against it until it got a proper bandage.

Opening the door a crack, you stared at the innkeeper’s rather sheepish face. “I’m so sorry to bother you, Miss __(your name)__ but…well, you see…another traveler came and your room is the only one with two beds…”

“I would pay for half the expense, of course,” came a polite, slightly distant voice. The man belonging to the voice stepped forward, and you blinked in surprise. It was the same guy you had been thrown at before! Well, that was certainly interesting…

You sighed, looking at his wet, bedraggled form. You just couldn’t refuse. And besides, was there really any harm? You would have protested had there been only one bed, but since there was two…and he seemed like a gentleman. And you were a warrior; you would be able to hold him off surely.

“That’s fine,” you agreed, rather flippantly, as you turned your back on them and entered the room once again. Stooping, you gather up your clothes and placed them on one of the beds.

“Thank you very much,” said the man, with a bit of obvious relief.

You didn’t blame him; no one wanted to be stuck out in the rain. “Oh, and innkeeper?”

The pudgy man paused, glancing back over his shoulder at you.

“Do you have any medical supplies I could borrow?”

“Of course, miss. Just wait one minute.”

You nodded, settling onto your bed. Your new companion stood in the middle of the room for a moment, looking rather uncomfortable. Taking pity on the poor man, you decided to strike up a conversation.

“So, did you ever find your sister?”

The man glanced at you. “No,” he muttered, looking pissed off. He sighed heavily, running a hand through his thick bangs. “And I’m gonna kill her the moment I do find her. Once again, I apologize for her behavior towards you.”

You shrugged. “S’okay. I know what it’s like.”

“You have a younger sibling?”

You stared blankly at him. “No. I just thought that was the right thing to say then.”

“Excuse me, miss?” You glanced up at the open door to see two serving maids. One held a medicine kit, and the other looked ready to do something about the large tub in the center of the room. “You wanted this?” She held up the kit.

You nodded, rising and repressing a wince. “Yes, thank you.”

The other maid looked at your companion. “Sir, would you like us to draw a bath for you?”

The man paused, glancing at you.

Smiling at his politeness, you supplied, “Let me just bind this and then I’ll be out of your way.”

The maids bowed, leaving the room and closing the door behind them. Settling back on the bed, you drew up your leg and opened the kit. Taking out a salve, you began to spread it on the nasty looking gash on your thigh.

“You’re wounded,” stated the stranger.

You gave him a flat look. “Brilliant observation…” You let the sentence trail off, only now realizing that you didn’t know his name.

Catching on, he told you, “Kougaiji. My name is Kougaiji.”

“All righty then, I’m __(y/n)__.”

Now that introductions were out of the way, you went back to the most pressing matter of the moment: your leg. Finishing with the stinging salve, you took out a roll of bandages and quickly bound the gash, wincing only every now and then. Once that was done, you rose and pulled on your pants then your boots. Saluting Kougaiji roguishly, you called out as you left, “Enjoy your bath,” and closed the door.

You wandered down to the common room, selecting a small round table that would seat two or three people at the most and sitting down delicately. Shifting around until you were comfortable, you waited patiently for the serving maid to reach you. Due to the lashing rain and the amount of hungry travelers as dinner time approached, she was being run ragged. By the time she finally did get to you, her eyes were flashing with anger and her lips pressed tightly together. “Just some hot food and water,” you ordered. The woman nodded before briskly moving off. You shook your head, pitying the poor girl. She should have had some help, but the other two women you remembered from earlier were no where to be found.

You were just digging into your food when Kougaiji came down the stairs. He hesitated for a brief moment, then made his way to your table and took a seat. You didn’t particularly mind: he seemed like a nice enough guy, despite the pointed ears you noticed, a tell-tale sign that he was youkai. Well, so were you…he didn’t seem bothered by the fact, nor filled with the maddening bloodlust like the others, so you were fine with the arrangement.

The serving girl came to deliver your food, saw your companion, gave an aggravated growl, and stalked off to get dinner for him as well. You smirked, snorting into your stew. Kougaiji smiled slightly, and you couldn’t help but noticed how good that smile looked on him. ‘Geez, __(y/n)__, falling for a guy you’ve barely met? That’s not like you. So stop it!’

The two of you didn’t talk, but the silence was not an uncomfortable one. Besides, why should you talk when there was a babble of voices already and a lively trio of musicians? It was an enjoyable evening, although you retired early, admittedly, due to the strain of your traveling and the wound. Once in your room, you abandoned your boots and pants and slipped gratefully into the soft bed. A pleased sigh escaped; it had been so long since you had gotten to sleep in a real bed! Closing your eyes gratefully, you let sleep take you off to its Neverland.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lirin cocked her head to the side, blinking a few times in puzzlement. “Eh? Are you sure?” she inquired.

The serving maid nodded calmly. “Yes, ma’am. The red-haired stranger you talk about is staying in with Miss __(y/n)__.”

Lirin shook her head. The maid had given her a physical description of __(y/n)__, and it matched up to the same youkai she had met earlier that day. The one she had thrown into her brother’s path. Well, this was certainly interesting. They were sharing a room? For some reason, the thought amused Lirin terribly.

“All righty, thanks very much!” she chirped as she happily skipped out back into the rain. Once she was sure the door was closed, she made her way to the small, disused storehouse next to the inn. It would be the perfect place to wait until the rain had stopped. And with her brother in a room, she had nothing to worry about.

“It would be funny if he actually fell for her,” Lirin murmured to herself sleepily as she settled down.

The next minute she was sleeping peacefully, all thoughts of her brother and matchmaking having flown out of her head.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I can’t believe it,” you murmured, your tone reflecting your words. “It’s still raining?”

It was midmorning the day after you had met Kougaiji. After having spent half the morning with him, you found him rather easy to read. He was obviously a gentleman, if rather short tempered when it came to certain subjects (as you had found out when you tried to pry into his past a little bit earlier). He was carrying some big, dark, evil secret, yet you could care less. Everyone, essentially, had secrets of their lives they didn’t wish to come out into the open. If he didn’t want to tell you, that was perfectly fine. Frankly you didn’t want to be burdened by a stranger’s problems. But now, seeing as the rain hadn’t let up in the slightest, it seemed that you might be forced to spend more time with Kougaiji that initially thought.

“So you’ve said,” grumbled Kougaiji at your comment. “Ten times,” he added, sounding slightly irritated.

You glowered at him. “I don’t see why you’re so upset. You’re indoors.”

Fiery red eyes captured yours. “Yes,” he said through gritted teeth, “but Lirin is still wandering around somewhere causing who knows how much trouble!”

You blinked, your mouth forming a perfect circle. “Ooooh, I get it! And you can’t search for her until the rain’s stopped, right?”

“Yes, Brilliant One.”

You pouted, crossing your arms under your breasts. “Hey, don’t be mean. We’re gonna be sharing this room for at least another day by the looks of it” — you cast a dark glance out the window — “so we might as well get along and be civil.”

Kougaiji sighed, nodding. “Yes; I apologize.”

Despite his words, you could see the obvious edginess that filled him. He wanted out of this inn, to find his sister and continue on with whatever he was doing. Well, that was perfectly fine with you. It wasn’t like you cared one way or another about his current path. He was just some stranger you were currently stuck with.

With a soft sigh, you turned your gaze from his pensive face to stare out of the window and at the hypnotizing rain once more.

Noon came and went with you doing various things: namely, staring blankly out into space, daydreaming, eating, and dozing on and off every now and then. Every thirty minutes or so you would climb onto the dresser underneath the window and peer up into the sky, as if you could actually force the rain to slow until it stopped. While this relaxation was good for your leg, you weren’t too keen on it. You didn’t like to stay in one place for too long (for rather obvious reason…at least the earrings you wore as power limiters hid your aura from ordinary humans, but you were pretty positive Kougaiji knew about you being youkai an’ all) and you got bored easily. For a while you made up stories about the dark past your companion could have, but that wasn’t something that could keep you occupied for a whole day. As for Kougaiji, well, he either slept or read. Nothing exciting.

About an hour after eating, you decided to spice things up a little.

You were currently sitting on the dresser staring at the dark, ominous sky. Kougaiji was sitting cross-legged on his bed reading. Glancing at him, you couldn’t help but notice how silky and pretty his hair looked. It really was a nice shade and length. But the fact that it was separated (how, you had no freaking idea) into three strands in the back annoyed you. It would look a lot better gathered into a ponytail, or even a braid perhaps… Now that was a thought to consider… In fact, it seemed like a pretty good idea to you. So, with a little smile, you hopped down from the dresser to land neatly on the bed behind Kougaiji. He paused in reading his book, casting a curious glance in your direction. Smiling innocently, you turned his head back around.

“Stay still,” you ordered.

“What are you doing?” he immediately demanded as he started to turn back around.

You let out a soft, annoyed growl. “I thought I told you to stay still. Don’t turn around again.” You turned his head back around again and began to run your fingers through his hair. You felt him stiffen, and couldn’t help but giggle. “I’m braiding your hair, dimwit,” you cheerfully informed him.

There was a brief silence. “Why?” came the next question.

“Because I’m bored.”

There was a soft, resigned sigh. “Why must females always have this insane need to braid my hair?” he grumbled.

You snickered as you took the soft tresses of crimson in your hands. “Well, if it wasn’t so nice and smooth and everything maybe we females wouldn’t put you under such torture.”

Kougaiji was wise enough to take the compliment and remain silent.

You braided and re-braided his hair a few times before decided that it didn’t take up enough time. You were a very fast braider, and seeing as he had given up the fight, you didn’t have to curb any resistance. So, feeling only slightly evil, you began to weave the locks in much smaller braids. That would certainly occupy your time.

“So, aren’t you going to ask?” you questioned as you worked.

“Ask what?” Kougaiji replied, smart enough not to look at you when he talked.

“Ask me why I don’t support Gyumaoh and go all crazy and stupid.”

Kougaiji went tense, and you paused, giving him a concerned glance. “Did I say something wrong?” you dared to ask after a few long moments of silence.

The man gave you a pained smile. “No, you did nothing. And don’t worry. I…I don’t support him either.”

You had the nagging feeling that he wasn’t telling the complete truth, but you let it lie. In fact, better to forget about it completely. Neither did you ask about his past. A past was a person’s own business, and Kougaiji obviously didn’t feel like divulging any secrets. You didn’t blame him in the slightest, although you were curious. But that didn’t matter. But, for some strange reason, that look of pain that crossed his face at your words…you wanted to help him.

‘You’re so fricking weird, __(y/n)__,’ you told yourself as your fingers continued their rapid work. ‘You’ve known this guy for barely a day and you already want to help him?’

‘He’s different,’ you argued with yourself. ‘He accepts me for who, and what, I am. He gives off this aura…the kind that makes people want to support him. I think he’s a very kind, caring individual.’

‘That, and you think he’s cute.’

‘What?! I do not!’

‘Yes you do. You already admitted that a loooog time ago.’

‘Well, fine, maybe that’s right. But it’s not like I’m falling for him or anything.’

‘Yeah, sure, uh-huh. Tell yourself whatever you want.’

There was a soft grunt in front of you. “Hey, what did my hair ever do to you, __(y/n)__?”

“Eh? Oh, sorry, Kou…”

He blinked at you. “Kou?” he repeated.

You blushed. “Heh, oopsie. Do you mind? Kougaiji is just such a long name.”

“No,” he answered after a brief pause. “That’s fine.”

You smiled, patting him on the head and earning a deadpan look. Chuckling, you went back to your braiding.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lirin couldn’t believe it. Kougaiji was actually letting the girl play with his hair! He never let her or Yaone do that! And yet this stranger was braiding his hair! In all honesty, she was a bit jealous. But amusement and curiosity as to where this all would lead overcame that.

“You know, maybe this rain is actually good for something,” she mused.

Nodding absently, she neatly hopped off the branch next to the window of Kougaiji and __(y/n)__’s room and landed on the soggy ground.

Now…if only she could find where she had left that dragon…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“And as the seventh day comes to a close, it doesn’t look as if we will be getting any respite from this rain,” you told Kougaiji in your best announcer voice. “What do you say? Any comments?”

Kougaiji gave you a smile. Your heart fluttered warmly a bit, and you found yourself rejoicing at being able to bring that grin forth. As the days had passed and you spent more and more time with Kougaiji, the evitable had happened: you had fallen head over heels for him. Okay, sure, maybe you had done so the first day you met him, but that wasn’t the point! The point was that you respected him, liked him, and wanted to make him happy. You had no clue how he felt, nor really cared. You had given your heart to him, and anything that would make him happy made you happy. You actually became rather fond of the rain; it kept the two of you together, after all. Kougaiji didn’t seem particularly to mind, which was a good sign… Maybe your charming personality could win him over eventually. Or perhaps he was just really good at hiding his feelings and had already fallen for you! ….Yeah, right.

“So, any bets on how long this rain will last?” you questioned.

More than one person in the common room glanced at you. “Even when it stops, the roads will be too ruined to travel on immediately,” a man grumbled, looking non-too-happy about the fact.

You fought to keep the pleased smile off your face. “Yeah, well, it’s a good thing this lil’ community is so close then, right?”

You received a few glares and an exasperated look (from Kougaiji). Deciding it would be in your best interest if you left (people seemed to get annoyed with you very quickly…), you rose and slipped out of the door. The wind had died down at least, and the rain, in fact, didn’t seem to be falling quite so hard. You stood just under the awning of the inn, drawing deep breaths of the air. It was a nice contrast to the drafty yet too cozy for comfort inn’s common room. You stood with closed eyes for a while, enjoying the evening, rain-filled air and doing anything but thinking about what would happen when this drawn-out storm finally ended.

It was pure instinct that made you open your eyes even before you felt the youkai aura. Your body stiffened, muscles seizing slightly. Youkai were close! They were approaching rapidly, no doubt headed for this town. “Great,” you hissed, drawing back at few paces. “You guys just had to come and ruin the peaceful atmosphere, didn’t you?!” Throwing open the door, you barked out his name sharply. “Kou!”

Noting the uncharacteristic stern note in your voice, Kougaiji was on his feet in an instant. He strode rapidly towards you. Something on your face or in your eyes must have given him a clue to what was going on, for his own eyes hardened slightly and he flexed his hands as if preparing for battle. No one in the inn, however, paid him the slightest attention. They were too wrapped up in their own worries and troubles. Well, that was actually better. They couldn’t get in the way.

“What?” Kougaiji demanded once the door was shut tightly.

“Youkai,” you replied briefly before striding out into the rain.

There was no hesitation in your stride. Unless these demons showed to be against Gyumaoh (which you highly doubted) you would stop them. They would kill innocents otherwise, and that went against everything you believed in. Luckily, and to your immense relief, Kougaiji seemed to have the same morals and fell into step with you.

By the time you reached the outskirts of the city you were soaking wet and really pissed. The five youkai were standing not far away, obviously having felt you approach and decided to wait for you. But did I mention that you weren’t happy? And when you weren’t happy…well, let’s just say that the youkai would be punished.

“You know what?” you growled, eyes shooting icy daggers at the group, “I hate you already.”

“We feel the same way, princess,” snorted one tall, bulky male who looked at you as if you were a piece of meat ready to be eaten.

“Kou, why do these idiots even take off their power limiters?” you rhetorically asked. “They’re just gonna get their asses kicked by people like us.”

There was no hesitation. One moment you were simply standing there, and the next you had rushed forward with two long, slim daggers tightly grasped in your hands. The youkai seemed slightly surprised at your sudden movement, but reacted all the same. They actually weren’t half-bad at avoiding your attacks, but when Kou quickly rushed forward to join you, disorder fell among them. They couldn’t stand up against both your daggers and his fire–which, by the way, made you pause for the briefest second and admire.

Crimson blood was soon splattered on the ground, splashed across your clothes, covered the gleaming blades. The rain washed some of it away, but the heady, gagging scent remained. No matter how many battles you participated in, you would never get used to that horrible smell. The sight of the burned and cut bodies wasn’t particularly pleasant either. Their lifeless eyes stared up at the sky, pelted with rain yet not caring. It didn’t make you feel guilty or anything; far from it. There was a sense of satisfaction as the bodies fell. One more death meant one step closer to healing the bond between humans and youkai and destroyed Gyumaoh forever.

While they were strong and powerful, the youkai didn’t last long. You and Kougaiji were experts, after all, and much more controlled than the stupid, power limiter-less demons. Within but a few minutes all but one was dead, and that one was rapidly losing the spark of life in his eyes.

“I don’t…understand…” the dying youkai said heavily. His breath came in great, heaving gasps, and a thin trickle of dark red blood dripped down one side of his mouth. “…Why…would the great…Kougaiji…stop us who try…to resurrect…his lord? Shouldn’t he…be…thanking us…for helping him…to reach…his goal?” There was one last, shaky breath, then the eyes glazed over and the chest stilled.

But your eyes were locked onto Kougaiji. He was watching you grimly, looking a bit regretful.

“What?” you spat out after a moment. “What is he talking about? You told me you don’t support Gyumaoh’s resurrection!”

“I don’t,” Kougaiji responded stiffly, “but I am trying to help the person in charge of it accomplish her goals.”

Your stunned silence told your thoughts clearly.

Kougaiji sighed, running a hand through his bangs. “Look, __(y/n)__, I’m sorry if I misled you–”

“Damn straight you did!” you interrupted hotly, eyes blazing with fury. “I trusted you!”

“So why should anything change?” came a new voice.

Both you and Kougaiji jumped at the sound and turned to face the short youkai that walked into view. Lirin smiled, not withering at all under her brother’s death glare. “Kougaiji has a good heart. What he does is not because he wants to. I think you know him well enough by now to understand how his mind works. His reasons are slightly selfish, I guess, but he’s really just trying to do the best.”

Your lips were pressed firmly together in determination.

Lirin rolled her eyes. Stalking forward, she was soon nearly nose to nose with you. Placing one hand on her hip, she raised her finger as if presenting a point or scolding you and said, “Don’t give me that look! You know I speak the truth. Now stop acting so childish.”

You frowned slightly, giving her a mild glare. “Kou was right. You are annoying.”

“Yup!” the youkai cheerfully agreed. “And you’re wet. You’ll catch cold like that!” Then, without further ado, she happily skipped off to who knows where.

“She’s right,” interjected Kou. His voice was soft and near your ear, making a shiver run through you at the feeling of his warm breath on your neck. “Let’s go.”

After but a moment’s hesitation, you followed the mysterious red-haired youkai back into the town and the inn.

After a nice, hot, relaxing bath, you sat on your bed as you contemplated what to do. Kougaiji was downstairs getting something to eat (he had bathed first this time) so you were left alone with your thoughts.

Could you really forgive Kougaiji? He had betrayed you!

‘No,’ said that annoying voice in the back of your head that you argued with. ‘Lirin and Kougaiji both said that he doesn’t support Gyumaoh. He’s doing…whatever he’s doing…for his own reasons.’

‘But how can I know–’

‘You’ll just have to trust him. You’ve been doing that thus far, haven’t you? And do you really want to leave him?’

‘No…’

The door opened and Kougaiji entered. He hesitated, giving you a concerned, slight wary glance.

Rising from your position on the bed, you stalked up to him (much like Lirin had done to you) and placed your finger in the center of his chest. “I have no frickin’ clue what you’re all about, Kou, but I’m sure as hell not going to abandon you now.” You winked roguishly. “I’ve stuck this far with you, haven’t I? And now you’ve gotten me intrigued. Sorry, my friend, but you’ll be stuck with me for a while longer.”

Kougaiji was taken aback. He stared at you for a few long moments, mouth open slightly, before swallowing and replying. “It’ll be dangerous.”

“And you’re point is…?”

“Do you really want to do this?”

You cocked your head to the side, watching him regard you. Then you smiled, and let your arm fall to your side. “Yes,” was your simple answer.

‘You’ve stolen my heart, Kougaiji, and now I’ll do anything to protect you. Wherever you go, I’ll follow.’

Seeing the conviction in your eyes, Kougaiji allowed a smile to drift onto his face as he nodded. “All right then. Welcome to the team.”

You started to ask what team this was exactly, but an excited, if muffled, whoop made you spin. Lirin was perched on the tree branch right outside the window, watching the two of you closely. Knowing that she had been spotted, she gave a cheeky grin and waved merrily before hopping out of sight.

You sighed, shaking your head yet smiling at the same time. This would be very interesting indeed…

And maybe you could secure a certain someone’s heart in the process.

Quite suddenly, the future looked very bright.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lirin hummed happily to herself as she walked into the unused storage shed. She could tell that those two were made for each other, and with time, they might even admit their feelings. She couldn’t wait for that day.

Who knew playing matchmaker could be so fun?

…Of course, it hadn’t exactly been on purpose…

But that little detail was easily overlooked.

The smile faded slightly, however, as another thought struck Lirin.

“Now if I could only find that dang dragon…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ria: There it is! I hope you enjoyed it! Kougaiji felt a bit OOC, but I did the best I could. *shrugs* Sorry if it seemed a bit rushed. ^^U Reviews are greatly appreciated!!! ^_____^ Ja matte ne~!



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