Veiled Moon Chapter 5 WIP

Muramasa

Well-Known Member
#51
zeebee1 said:
Actually, I was thinking that he'd impale the guy with a lead pipe. He should have enough upper body strength to do that.
Leads me to question just how much conditioning the Sekirei received regarding humans. Because, really Yashima could've beaten the living snot out of that guy by herself if she felt the need to do so.
 

nick012000

Well-Known Member
#52
zeebee1 said:
Actually, I was thinking that he'd impale the guy with a lead pipe. He should have enough upper body strength to do that.
Ichigo wouldn't do that. It took Tsukishima mindfucking Ichigo's little sisters to get Ichigo willing to kill him; I doubt that Ichigo would leap to "kill the fucker" so quickly. "Beat the shit out of the fucker" seems much more likely to me.
 

zeebee1

Well-Known Member
#53
Impaling some one with a lead pipe should not lead to death. Besides, he sticks people with swords all the time. It's just that most of his targets are already dead.

I want the guy to live long enough to face Ichigo as a Shinigami. If only because then he'd be guaranteed a trip to Hell.
 

nick012000

Well-Known Member
#54
zeebee1 said:
Impaling some one with a lead pipe should not lead to death. Besides, he sticks people with swords all the time. It's just that most of his targets are already dead.

I want the guy to live long enough to face Ichigo as a Shinigami. If only because then he'd be guaranteed a trip to Hell.
I dunno. Soul Society has some real jerks living there, and he's not done anything serial killer-level evil yet.
 

Wheeljack

Well-Known Member
#55
Muramasa said:
zeebee1 said:
Actually, I was thinking that he'd impale the guy with a lead pipe. He should have enough upper body strength to do that.
Leads me to question just how much conditioning the Sekirei received regarding humans. Because, really Yashima could've beaten the living snot out of that guy by herself if she felt the need to do so.
I think it really depends on the individual Sekirei(after all, look at Kuno). Yashima to me seemed more defeated and simply existing, moreso in the anime.

Junichi caught a break when he got her however he did originally. The others likely would have broken him on their first meeting.
 

Ghostface

Lazy Bastard...
#56
Evening.

Now it is time to end this installment of Veiled Moon for the moment. Wheeljack would like you good folks to know that this chapter was going to be twice as long as it is now, but I'm kinda tired of those long ass chapters and we'd be here 'till next year at our pace. So we agreed, after a steel cage match that I won, to end ch. 5 here and make what would be the 2nd half ot this chapter the new ch. 6.

I think we've made ya'll wait long enough as it is. B)

A reminder, this is still all raw as all get out and not cleaned up. Once we are done we will post a full cleaned up version before going to ff.net.

And now... the conclusion.

==========================================================================

"Thank you," Ichigo grunted as he took the bowl from Miya's outstretched hands.

Over the course of the next few seconds this was repeated to the others who had gathered at the table for breakfast. The sounds of other bowls being placed on the table were somewhat muffled as each member looked at their contents and waited for the Landlady to take her seat at the head of the table.

Ichigo himself sat at the table end, Uzume to his left. Kuu was across from him, the spritely girl attempting to intimidate him with a fiercely cute look on her face that went completely over his head. Minato sat next to her at center and Musubi was to his right. Across from Musubi and next to Uzume sat Ikki, who was glancing across to her Ashikabi and looking like she didn't know whether to be miffed at not being next to him or relieved as her heart continued to thunder in her chest at the thought.

With Miya finally sitting they all said as one, "Thank you for the food".

Within seconds the sound of clicking and eating filled the room, however none of the usual chatter seemed to be making itself known.

Minato was quick to notice this as his eyes looked around.

"Is it good, Minato-san?" Musubi asked, staring at him.

"Y-yes, Musubi", he said before hearing a contented sound and turning to see the younger Kuu happily sipping from her bowl.

Well, that's normal he thought.

He then brought his eyes back up to see the other Ashikabi eat his food in silence, a neutral look on his face. This wouldn't be cause for concern had he not noticed Uzume picking sparsely at her food and glancing at Ichigo every so often, to the point of opening her mouth to say something before closing it once again to pick at her plate.

Ichigo continued to eat, not saying anything and unsure of what to say, if anything. As he paused in his chewing to muse he could hear what he thought was a growling sound. Or at least he thought it was a growling sound. Looking up he caught the kid Sekirei looking like she was trying to do... something.

For her part, Kuu had been happily sipping at her bowl, looking around the table before noticing her Oniichan had an odd look on her face and frowned when he had been looking at that scary orange haired boy. She was still mad at him for bullying her oniichan so she glared as best she could and growled at the boy from her seat. Unfortunately for her she did not realize her puffed cheeks and furrowned brows and what could be passed off as a child's growl were far too adorable to be intimidating.

It was then that Ichigo looked up at her and she gasped.

As mad as she was for bullying her oniichan she still found him to be intimidating himself. Orange hair, hard eyes and a scowling face that had her all but turn and run to hide behind her oniichan. So instead she turned to bury her face in Minato's sleeve. Noticing this, the former shinigami let out a simple sigh and continued to dig into the meal.

"So, did every one have a good rest last night?" Miya asked after a moment of silence.

"Very well," Musubi chirped before turning back to eat and letting off a happy sound.

"Uh, not bad..." Minato said while Kuu took her face out of his sleeve to nod and hum happily at the Landlady. After nodding she glaced back to see Ichigo had turned back to his food and resumed her vigil against him.

"Kurosaki-san?" she pressed slightly.

Ichigo chewed on his food a few more seconds before swallowing. "Fine" he said, glancing at her and shrugging his shoulders a bit before turning back to his food.

Realizing that was all she was going to get from the youn man, she turned to Uzume, "And you Uzume?"

With a tight smile she turned to Miya. "Fine. Even slept in a bit too".

"I see," Miya nodded. "And what do you plan to do with all that extra energy today Uzume-san?"

Minato continued to watch the play unfold as Uzume gave her stuttering answer to Miya and flicked his eyes to Ichigo, who had his head titled a bit downwards and was chewing slowly. Again, his face was neutral.

'What is going on?' he wondered. He had only met the guy the other day, outside of when he first moved in but something inside him knew this was unusual. And the way Uzume was acting was setting him off edge a bit himself.

"And You Kurosaki-san?" Miya asked as Uzume finished her answer.

"Mmn?" Ichigo looked up from his meal back to his land lady and shrugged. "I dunno. Look to see if my stuff's started to arrive from home I guess..."

"I see," Miya turned to Minato, "And You Sahashi-san?"

Minato blinked out of his thoughts and turned to Miya. "H-huh?"

"What are your plans for the day?" she repeated.

"Oh, uh..." he got out before lifting his left arm and glancing at his watch. Blinking he turned back to Miya. "I, uh, I gotta be getting off to work soon. I gotta call earlier and they wanted me in early today".

"Oh wonderful," Miya chirped. "So that means I can expect my first payment on time then?"

"O-of course!" Minato confirmed as he began to quickly work through his meal.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" Ikki sighed suddenly bringing every one's attention to the newest tennant of Izumo. "That. Was. Awesome!" She patted her stomach absently as she turned and smiled brightly at the land lady. "Can I just say that I've never had better cooking in all of my like?"

Miya brought a hand to her mouth and closed her eyes. "Why, thank you".

"No thank you Miya-san!" Ikki chirped in response. "I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical after last night that your cooking was this good. I mean, not for nothing, that was really good too. But I was juuuuuuuuuuuust a bit skeptical of the whole deal. I mean, who's that dang good of a cook, right? I figured it was something like a fluke or my taste buds were on the fritz or something.

But here I sit, completely corrected. Lighting ain't gotta strike me twice for me to get the picture!" She gave Miya a thumbs up, "So my complements to the chef that is you, for giving us an awesome meal and proving that even I can be wrong about things once in a while!"

"Why... t-thank you Ikki-chan..." Miya muttered, her eyebrow twitchign slightly. "I-if it's not... to much trouble would you like to help me clean the table when we're finished? There are some things I feel as though I should let you know..."

"Of Course Miya-san!" Ikki chirped. "I'll do what I can as appriciation for all you've done foe us!"

"G-good," she muttered, smiling tightly.

Ichigo took a look between his landlady and his latest sekirei, and quickly finished off his meal. "I'm finished. Thanks for the meal Miya-san." Miya nodded as Ichigo quickly stood and made his way to his room. Silence reigned as the others finished their meals quickly enough. Soon it was solely Miya, Minato, and Ikki at the table.

The other askikabi let out a sigh as he put his chopsticks down, "Thanks for the meal Miya-san. I'd better get ready."

Miya nodded at Minato, "Of course. Have a good day."

Minato nodded as Ikki sighed contently and rose, "Ho-kay Miya-san! So do ya want me to wash or dry for ya?" She paused as she felt Miya's hand on her shoulder suddenly. "Miya-san? she questioned.

"I think..." she began as she smiled plesantly towards Ikki, "before we get to work we shold have that little conversation now. Ok?"

"O-ok..." Ikki nodded, doing her best to ignore the shudder that enveloped her spine at Miya's tone.

For some reason, she felt she was in for another interesting day.

=========

Minato walked through the streets of Teito briskly, wrapping his arms around himself as he felt the brisk chill in the air despite the unexpected warmth of the past few days. Now mostly awake, the newly minted ashikabi was trying and failing to get his mind on the upcomming workday as he neared the construction site.

'It's odd,' he thought as he shoved his hands into his jean jacket pockets. 'It's odd but I can't help but feel tense...'

And as odd as it may be, he already knew the answer why he was so anxious. The ashikabi known as Kaoru Seo. The man who had helped him and Musubi save Kuu-chan last night. And the second ashikabi he had met since this game had started after his fellow tennant.

'Is... is he going to be there today?" he thought as he continued to walk distractidly. 'There're still so many things I want to ask him. So many things I want to know... no... have to know about the Sekirei Game. And... and most of all... I still haven't said than you to him for helping us save Kuu-chan.'

He clenched his fists in his pocket as more of last night replayed in his mind. Of Kuusano's terror of the one known as Youmi. Of seeing a sekirei battle up close. And most of all... how Youmi met her end, and Musubi's words.

How a sekirei who had lost their crest could no longer be with their Ashikabi anymore.

'I'm still in the dark about so many things... so I have to get smarter. I have to get more information... so I can protect Musubi and Kuu-chan as best as I can.' Minato nodded to himself as he finished his silent vow, a new bounce in his step as he made it to the construction site.

Now to find Seo...

=========

"He quit?!" Minato almost squacked in surprise.

His foreman nodded, shrugging slightly. "He said he was about to be really busy at his other job soon enough and gave me his two weeks jsut before you got in." The foreman chucked, scratching the back of his neck idly. "It's just as well. He skipped work, took some long ass breaks..."

"Is... Is that so?" Minato asked.

"Yep. But... well... it's not like he was a bad guy or anything. But with how he was approaching working here I was gonna have ta fire him soon enough. Ah well, at least I don't have to deal with his women anymore. That big boobed one of his was a big pain in my ass if ya catch my drift."

"Drift caught sir," Minato muttered. 'Ah great,' he thought. 'Now who knows if I'll ever see him again.'

The foreman smirked as he looked at Minato, "Now as for you kid," he grabbed Minato roughly by the neck, shaking the ashikabi out of his thoughts. "Is that one big boobed girl fron yesterday your woman man?"

Minato's eyes bulged in surprise, "WH-WH-WH-WHA?!? M-M-M-M-M-My girlfriend?!"

"Oh hoh," the foreman grinned devilously. "Look at that blush on ya. If she's ain't yer girl, then she'll be soon right?!"

"I... but that is..." Minato stammered out to his bosses laughter.

And thus was the start to another day in Teito.

=========

Elsewhere...

"Can someone tell me why we're doing this again?"

Yagami let out a tired sigh as he sat down on a nearby bench, giving Rias an exasperated look. "This again Rias-chan?"

Rias let out an irritated huff as she sat beside her Ashikabi, her arms folded under her breasts. "Yes this again," she answered. Rias glared meaningfully at her beloved. To Yagami, that was a look he had come to understand as her æYouÆll have to get me something damn good to go along with thisÆ look.

"Why do you demean yourself for that... that... brute when you're so much better when he's not around I just can't fathom for the life of me."

"It's not like I enjoy the guy's company y'know." He sniffed disdainfully. "It's just... if I help him out with this it'll help us out in the end y'know?"

"Help us out with what exactly?" Rias continued to press.

Yagami smiled cheekily, in an 'I know something you don't' matter that Rias found oh so irritating at the moment. "Can't say now."

"Can't say huh?"

Yagami nodded, "I can't say what it is yet. BUT.... I can tell you it's somethign we'll need when this whole Sekirei game business is all said and done."

Her pretty brow frowned as she eyed him suspiciously. "Something we'll need huh?"

"Indeed my dear," Yagami nodded as he extended his arm over her shoulders. "Somthing any married couple would do well to have I think."

Rias blinked at his words, "A... married couple you say?" At his nod, she sighed. "Alllll right then my dear. If it is what I think it is..."

"I have your trust?"

"Always."

"That's all I ask of you hon," Yagami winked knowingly and gave his Sekirei a brief kiss on the cheek. "Just trust me like I trust you and everything'll work out juuust fine."

Though outwardly smiling, inside he was busy thinking about what she had said. 'He'll help us out. He has too.' he thought with uncertainty. These last two months had really gotten to his friend, moreso than he could ever remember. Junichi could be an ass at times but he usually got what he wanted in the end, but this...

He found himself shaking his head, for the life of him he couldn't remember Junichi so angry that he began pulling down his dad's merchandise. And it seemed to be getting worse.

'He can't be letting this get to him, its just one girl' he thought as they walked to the next area that Maiko had a lead on. Then again Junichi had been very still when he had first mentioned Maiko to him but had laughed it off at the time.

"Is everything okay, Yagami-sama?"

"Yeah, jus' thinking" he answered, thoughts of his friends odd behaivor still lingering.

=========
 

Ghostface

Lazy Bastard...
#57
Late Evening

"Alright, alright," Ichigo mumbled as he walked up to the door, his eyes narrowed as the doorbell rang yet again. The day had been rather uneventful, and needing some air Ichigo had taken the time to go out for a walk alone. Coming back had him scratching his head, as he had seen Ikki in the front and when he greeted her she had frozen up, stammering greetings as he walked by and when he had asked about her friend.

It was also then that he had passed Uzume when going up to his room. Both had stopped to look at each other, unsure of what to say exactly.

"How'd it go?" she asked.

Ichigo nodded a bit. "Went good, the air was nice."

Uzume nodded at him too. "That's great. Heading to your room?"

"Yeah..."

"Ah..." and here Uzume looked to be at a loss for words.

"It's okay, Uzume."

"Ichigo, I..."

"Look. I just need to think about some things, okay? I'm frustrated, but... but I'm not mad at you, okay?"

"O-okay" she said, looking somewhat relieved but still somewhat apprehensive. "Ichigo, I..."

Ichigo stared at her as she looked like she couldn't figure out what to say. "Uzume, it's alright, okay?" he said as he closed his eyes and brought a hand to his head to scratch it as he moved passed her to his room.

"M-Miya will start on dinner soon, okay?" Uzume then said and Ichigo nodded without turning around as he reached his door. The awkwardness between them was still apparent, leaving

Ichigo to continue to ponder his situation and how this seemed so different from the fight that they had had in Karakura.

That was not twenty minutes ago when the doorbell had started ringing and no one had answered.

"Alright, alright," Ichigo mumbled as he walked up to the door, his eyes narrowed at the doorbell ringing yet again.

Gripping the doorknob he twisted and turned, pulling the door open.

"Yo", came a voice and Ichigo raised an eyebrow at the man at the door while ignoring the sounds of apologies being made of to the side.

The man in turned raised an eyebrow as well and gave a grin and Ichigo peered closer. The man was his height with black scruffy hair and wore a brown coat over a t-shirt and blue jeans. Around his neck hung a single dog tag.

Putting his raised hand back into his coat pocket the man tilted his head and closed his eyes. "You must be a new tenant, nice to meet ya." And with that, stil with his eyes closed he then stepped inside and walked passed Ichigo.

Ichigo continued to look forward and his eye twitched and pointedly ignored a set of gasps before he turned around.

"I'll just let Miya know I'm here," the man said as he took off his jacket, revealing a sleeveless t-shirt and threw it up to the coathanger.

=========

Maison Izumo.

The sun hung low in the twilight sky over Maizon Izumo. The last vestiages of the day were being cleared out to welcome in the night, and the end of another day at the lively boarding house. There was an air of tranquility that blessed the surrounding land of Izumo as the birds outside sang their final songs of the day. The slight hussle of nearby neighbors and passer-bys going home from work continued to shuffle about the area. All unconsiously content with the peace and serenity the land provided them.

That peaceful tranquility would then broken by a body flying out the door.

"AAAAAAAAHH!"

-THUD-

=========
Ichigo made his way back to the kitchen, hands in pockets while ignoring the new pounding that came from the front door.

"Why Kurosaki-san, I thought you went to see who was at the front door?" Miya said as she came towards him.

He shrugged as he looked at her. "Eh, no one important," Ichigo mumbled.

And soon a muffled voice could be heard as well. "Miiiiyaaa."

Ichigo blinked as Miya gave the door a slight glare. "Ara, Kurosaki-san. I do belive you are correct. Trash is not important after all."

"T-trash...?" Ichigo asked, slightly surprised at Miya's behavior. And the knocking and moaning continued. "Uh..." Ichigo paused. "Do... do you know this guy Miya-san?"

"Unfortunately I do, Kurosaki-san", Miya said, giving a rueful shake of her head before moving towards the door.

"So it's ok to let him in now or something?"

She turned back to him, frowning. "Trash is trash, Kurosaki-san. But I imagine he has brought some young ones who do not deserve such treatement."

=========

"So", Seo said after taking another bite of his riceball. "You the new guy?"

"Uh..." Ichigo paused as Seo continued ot wolf down riceball after rice ball. "I... guess."

Ichigo glanced up to see the two oddly dressed and familiar girls standing behind Seo, one of which was glaring at him. Where had he seen them...

"You guess?" Seo barked suddenly, bringing the former shinigami's attention to him. "What? You visitin' or you live here, my man?"

"I live here now, yes." Ichigo answered bluntly.

"There! Y'see?" Seo asked as he gave a sunny grin. "That wasn't so hard was it?"

"Right..." Ichigo muttered. "So uh... how do you and Miya-san...?"

"He was a friend of my late husband", Miya answered.

"Really?" Ichigo blinked at the confession. "So uh... does that mean...?" He paused, looking at the man who was still stuffing his face with rice balls and shook his head. 'No way,' he thought. 'I'm probably just jumpin to conclusions here.'

"Yeah,", Seo said as he smacked his fingers after stuffing his face. "I was with MBI." Ichigo blinked as Seo then gave him a sly look. Ichigo then glared as Seo then grinned at him. "Or was I-::SMACK::YEOW!" he shouted as he began rubbing his head and looking up a Miya.

"Oh my, I do apologize," the landlady said, her arm outstretched. "My hand must have slipped."

"Miiiiiyaaaaa~," he whined as Ichigo blinked anew as he stared at the two of them.

"Kurosaki-san?" Miya then said as she looked at Ichigo. "Will you be okay if I left you alone with this trash? He's obviously come here for a reason so I may as well gather what he needs so he can be on his way. Isn't that right girls?" She said as she then looked up to the two other ladies in the room.

"Y-yes," one of the girls replied as she moved forward to follow Miya before pausing to turn around. "Hikari?" she prodded.

The girl in question, Hikari, was busy openingly glaring at the orange haired boy. Hikari's prodding alerted the boy to this and he in turn glared back. Seo glanced between the two before closing his eyes and smirked. After about a moment Hikari broke from the staring contest and walked up to her sister, hmphing at Ichigo as she walked past him and the two began to follow the landlady out of the room.

"The hell is her problem?" Ichigo grumbled as he turned his head back to the other guy who was smirking at him. "What?"

"So you're him," the man replied as he ignored Ichigo's glare at himself. "Sorry 'bout earlier 'n all, but that's Miya for you. The name's Seo, by the way."

"Kurosaki Ichigo."

"Hikari, c'mon" Hibiki whispered as she saw her sister begin to slow down again.

"I- I- I just can't..." Hikari's eye twitched as Miya turned around, a perplexed look on her face.

"Is something the matter?"

"No, no there isn't, Asama-san," Hibiki replied respectfully, elbowing her sister lightly.

"No-nothing at all," Hikari growled out as she stiffly resumed herself. They made their way towards the kitchen and were about to go through it to the storage area when a door opened nearby.

"Oro?" came a bleary voice. "What's going on here Miya-san?"

"Nothing, nothing, Ikki-san" Miya said, softly waving her hand at the girl. "We're just on our way to get some rice for their useless Ashikabi".

"Useless ashikabi?" Ikki blinked, grogily scratching her head. "So these two aren't Ichigo-sama's either?"

Hikari began mumbling and Hibiki softly elbowed her again.

Ikki's eyes widened slightly at ther actions, her hair scratching slowing down just a bit. "Hey... don't I know you from somewhere?"

Hikari shrugged and Hibiki looked thoughtful before answering in the negative.

"No... no I'm sure I know you two from somewhere..." she mumbled. "Where was it? I mena you two are sekirei right?"

Both girls stiffened and Hibiki turned to scrutinize her a bit more. "Yeah, problem with that"?

"N-no..." Ikki muttered. "It's just... why do I feel like I know you two?" she more asked herself. "Did we meet back at MBI?"

"No, can't say that we did" Hibiki answered as Hikari brought a hand to her chin and her eyes narrowed again.

"Did we meet in the street or something?" Ikki continued, mirroing Hikari's stance.

"You do seem kinda familiar..." Hikari mumbled out, now leaning towards Ikki as if it would help her figure this girl out.

"I know right?" Ikki nodded. "I mean, I'd think I'd recognize silly getups like that right off the bat. Maybe I'm more hurt than I thought..."

Miya blinked while the conversation had stalled.

"Ladies, why don't we take it to-"

"Wait a sec..." Ikki interrupted. "What are your numbers?"

"Eleven," Hikari answered.

"Twelve," Hibiki spoke.

"Eleven and Twelve eh?" Ikki muttered. "And I just noticed you two look alot alike also..."

"We're twins..."

"Twins?" Ikki questioned. "So you are. How'd I miss-"

She cut herself off, her jaw dropping as she finally got enough hints.

Yes, even Ikki can add 2 + 2 and = 4 once given enough info...

Her hand left her chin, and pointed shakily at the duo before her. "It's you..."

"Us?" Both responed at the same time.

In the dining area both Seo and Ichigo had leaned in to watch, having heard everything that was going on so far.

"You're the ones..." Ikki continued to wisper in stunned amazement.

Both blinked at her.

"I can't belive this..." Ikki continued to wisper. "Is this a boon or a test? The ones Nanaha-chan and I have been striving to defeat are here before me..." She shook her head and looked at the twins, her eyes blazing with determination. "This is my chance!"

She smirked and pointed at the twins, "I hope you two are ready! Because your day of reckoning has finally arrived!"

"Huh?" Both had stared back at her, wide-eyed.

"Your days of terroizing and harrassing innocent sekirei are over! I, as your sole judge and procecutor, find you guilty of diry tricks and all sorts of not nice stuff! And I sentance you to defeat at my hand!"

"You what?" Hikari growled dangerously as she balled a fist and took a step foward.

As Ikki was about to continue a hand was rested on her shoulder.

"Ladies," Miya said with a smile and closed eyes. "As I was saying we can continue this in the storage room. Come, you can help us," she said as she moved and Ikki yelped as she was pulled along, leaving both twins to blink in confusion before Hibiki quickly followed.

Hikari just stewed for a moment, seemingly trying to grind a hole in the floor with her shoe before huffing and following as well. Seo watched it all with a grin and laughed. Before he could say anything both men turned to the sounds of approaching footsteps.

"What the hell is...?" both turned to find Uzume in the hallway come to a halt as she saw who had come in. "Oh, its you," she said as her face scrunched up as if she had smelled a bad order.

Seo grinned and lifted a hand. "Hey Uzume."

Ichigo blinked as he saw his Sekirei addressed so familiarly. She rolled her eyes and walked the rest of the way up to stand a few feel in front of him and put her right hand to her hip as she glowered down at him. "Don't 'hey me' buster. Do you know what your girls pretty much put me through?" she said as she got straight to the point.

"Sorry 'bout that," Seo shrugged as he grinned at the irritated Sekirei. "But you know how my girls are sometimes. 'Sides... It wasn't all bad was it?

"That's beside the point," Uzume grumbled as she took her seat beside her Ashikabi. She folded her arms irritably as Ichigo gave her a side glance. "You really need to get your girls under control before some linch mob comes for 'em or somethin'."

Ichigo continued to look at Uzume, who was staring hard eyes at the man in front of them. This was different...

"I would if I could, sweetheart, but you know the drill," Seo responded nonchalantly while Ichigo's eyes narrowed at how he referred to her. "'Sides, you know how strong my girls are."

"Oh, don't I know it," Uzume replied, drawling out the 'oh' as she rolled her eyes and head at that and at the memories.

"Hey, look on the bright side, at least you're still here and..." he trailed off as he turned to look at Ichigo and then turned back to Uzume with a large grin on his face. "So... he's yours?"

She then gave him a wry smile and leaned over to Ichigo but paused from laying her head on his shoulders as she could feel him tense slighlty but never changed her expression as she kept her eyes locked on Seo's. "What ever could have given it away?" she said airily.

"Oh I dunno," Seo sighed dramatically as his grin grew before holding his arms out a bit. "Could be how you seem to hover around him like a hawk."

"You think?" Uzume asked with feined interest, causing her askikabi to give her another odd sideways glance.

"Well, there's also that cute little twinkle in your eye when you look at him." Seo pressed onwards.

'What... the... hell...?' Ichigo thought, beginning to frown now at the way the two were talking to each other.

"Oh?" Uzume turned to Ichigo, a curious look on her face. "Ne, Ichigo... " she said, not knowing she had cut into his thoughts. "Are my eyes twinkling right now?"

"Not that I can see." Ichigo grunted out.

"Oh hooohh~," Seo chimed, leaning back bit. "Trouble in paradise, I take it?"

"No," Ichigo snorted as he turned away from the his Sekirei and gave an irritated glare at the older man. "Not that it's any of your business is it?"

"Oh, maaannn," Seo mock whined and put a hand to his face, giving a theatrical lean back before coming down to rest his arms on the table and leaned a bit forward. "You could have done sooo much better Uzume."

Ichigo's frown deepened as Uzume folded her arms over her chest, "Oh? Like who?"

Seo blinked and stayed in his posture, resting his weight on his arms on the table and tilted his head at her.

Ichigo grit his teeth, knowing exactly what was being implied.

Uzume blinked at Seo's action, and then her eyebrow rose as she read the gesture. "You don't mean..."

"You betcha, sweetie," Seo answered and pulled himself back to sit up straight with his arms held akimbo and gave a rather hammy smile.

"Well there's an interesting thought," Uzume nodded. "You really think you'd be man enough for a girl like me?"

"I'm already man enough for two, what's one more? 'Sides, despite why I have my girls do what they do we've known each for quite a long time. We'd've been so good, and the number sequence works out great as well," he said as he returned to his posture of resting himself on the table and leaning forward.

"Well, not for nothin' but your girls don't exactly like to share if you know what I mean," Uzume countered.

"Oh, you're right about now, but had things worked out then at the beginning..." he trailed off, his eyes closing and his smile becoming a bit more akin to wistful.

"Yeah, that would've been an interesting time I'm sure," Uzume nodded before turning to her Ashikabi with a grin. "But I'm happy with what I got. So what-if's can stay just that."

Seo then gave off a theatrical sigh of disappointment. "Well, its your loss there, Uzume" With that, he again pulled back to sit in a more or less relaxed posture and watched the two, raising an eyebrow while shaking his head softly at the Sekirei's Ashikabi's expression.

"Oh, you know me. Just here for the usual and to say hi to Miya."

"So same old, same old." Uzume sighed with her eyes closed, waving her hand a few times before returning her eyes on Seo. "Are you sure that's all?"

"Well," Seo said will giving a small shrug and stretched his neck. "I had heard there was an Ashikabi under Miya's roof and wanted to check up on them as well as check up on one other little matter".

"Oh?" Uzume 's eyebrow rose. "Never would've pegged you as someone who'd scope out other ashikabi."

"And you'd be right beautiful," Seo confirmed. "But... from what I heard about him... I kinda thought it bore investigation y'know? See what he's made of. And maybe entice an old friend back to my side," Seo said and grinned at her.

At this Ichigo folded his arms in front of him and tilted his head at the man, his hands beginning to dig into his arms.

Snorting, Uzume then turned to her side to face Ichigo but kept her gaze on Seo as she moved herself closer to her Ashikabi. Placing both her hands on his left shoulder she leaned into him slightly, his left bicep only partially being buried by her breasts as she then proceeded to stick her tongue out at Seo. "Sorry, but I happen to like the side I'm on now." She was about to lean back to sit back down when he shuffled underneath her and then felt a strong warm hand placed at the small of her back and gasped slightly, just suppressing a shudder as that warm hand touched bare skin due to her shirt riding up a bit.

Seo raised an eyebrow as the young man sitting across from giving him such a glare that he'd have probably burned through him and out through the backyard area. "Someting you want to say, friend?" Seo asked, a smirk growing on his face.

Uzume wasn't quite able to supress the shudder as Ichigo kept eye contact with Seo and then growled before replying, "Nothing that needs saying."

Seo let out a chuckle putting up his hands in a warding gesture, "Fair enough." As Seo was about to open his mouth Miya suddenly came by out of the kitchen. "Hey Mi-", Seo called out as Miya walked by without looking at him. "-ya... Hm," he then huffed out as he watched her walk towards the front while both Uzume and Ichigo followed his gaze and the Landlady.

Ichigo and Uzume both leaned forward, mirroring each others movements as they tried to see what was going on without having to stand up. Both blinked as they heard a few voices along with Miya's accompanied by the sounds of the door shutting. Ichigo raised an eyebrow as the other tenant slowly huffed his way towards them on his way to the kitchen, not looking or noticing either of them at the table. Though one could say it was rude, it was tempered by the fact that the man was overly burdened by two large bags of rice that he held on his back.

"Yo!" Seo then called out. Minato paused and turned to the voice, not quite recognizing it before suddenly double-taking. "Hi there young man," Seo then said grinning as Minato's mouth dropped before the shock and weight of the rice bags he was carring caused him to fall backward.

"S-Seo-san?!" Minato gasped out, pointing a shakey finger at the elder ashikabi. "What're you doing here?!"

"Hey there. Why so surprised?" Seo responded non-chalantly.

"W-why wouldn't I be surprised?" Minato retourted. "How do you even know where I live?!"

"Oh no big deal really," Seo shrugged, smirking at the younger man. "Just a case of a bit of good old detective work and familiarity helping me out."

"De-detective work?" Minato repeated as he started to stand up and gather up the fallen rice bags.

"Familiarity?" Ichigo questioned with a raised eye and glancing at Uzume, or shrugged her shoulders at him.

"Something like that," Seo admited, a low chuckle comming from his lips. "Mostly it was that meal ya shared with me. I'd never be able to forget the taste of Miya's cooking even if I wanted to."

"Meal? You mean that lunch I shared with you?" Minato asked almost a bit awed as he blinked a couple times.

"I just said that didn't I kid?" Seo asked with a slight scarcastic tone. "C'mon kid, try to keep up here. I'm here for you after all."

"Why him?" Ichigo then asked, not noticing the look Minato gave him, as if realizing he and Uzume had been there this whole time.

"Just to check up on that sekirei he winged," Seo shrugged. "The kid interested me," He smirked at Ichigo, casuing the former shinigami to frown at him. "Kinda like you do kid."

It was then that something caught the corner of Seo's eyes and he turned to the now open shouji door that lead to the backyard and a tiny figure barely had her head peaked inside, glancing at both himself and somebody else and seemingly either glaring and then quivering. "Looks like the kid's ok pysicaly," Seo muttered. He turned back to Minato and asked, "I'm assuming you winged her right?"

Minato wordlessly nodded, not noticing the young Sekirei's state. Seo then turned back to see Kuu still semi-hiding by the door. "Hey, Green Girl, c'mere!"

Kuu's eyes then widened before being cast down as she shivered and moved further out of site, unknowing that they could see her outline from the shouji screen.

"Oi," Seo called out again before an eye twitched as the girl didn't move. "What's this, kid? Ain't gonna come say thank you to your kind and responsible Onii-san who so graciously he-GAHURK!"

Uzume and Minato gaped while Miya blinked, her hand and laddle in mid motion ready to be thrown as Seo suddenly went flying out into the courtyard while Ichigo came down from his spin kick. 'When... when did he..?!' Thought both Uzume and Minato at the same time with Uzume quickly looking back and forth from where Ichigo had just been sitting a second again to where he landed to where Seo had flown to.

"YOU'RE SCARING HER YOU IDIOT!" Ichigo yelled out before wincing and then scowling as he saw the young girl flinch and hide again. "And so am I apparently," he muttered under his breath. Ichigo simply let off a sigh as he re-took his seat, blinking at the stare Uzume was giving him. "What?"

"W-wow, Ichigo. I didn't even see you move." Uzume answered.

Ichigo blinked, not quite sure how to respond to that. To be quite honest, it almost felt like decking his father. He was about to say something when he noticed Uzume suddenly recoiling.

"My, my Kurosaki-kun" Miya said to his still turned back a bit of a dark aura beginning to flare up, "have we not forgotten that there is no violence in Maison Izumo?"

Ichigo turned to see what had caused Uzume to act like that but by the time he saw Miya behind him whatever malevolence that had begun to flare up suddenly winked away, leaving the landlady standing there with the laddle end pressed against her cheek, her head tilted slightly as she seemed to be in thought. "However", she started, "Since it was teaching that trash alesson I'll let it slide this time".

Ichigo blinked, not quite sure what to make about it before noticing that the other occupants in the room wore similar expressions to what he saw Uzume have. "Did I miss something here?" Ichigo asked.

Miya blinked, looking at Ichigo almost confused before closing her eyes once more. "Miss what?"

"I dunno why, but it feel like I'm missing something here," Ichigo shrugged. "Aw well, guess it's nothing."

Ichigo put his hand on the floor and began to stand up before stopping in mid-motion, eyes widening. 'What did he say!?'
-=-=-
'Ain't gonna come say thank you to your kind and responsible Onii-san who so graciously he-'
-=-=-
Ichigo's mind worked furiously. 'He's talking about the kid. Didn't Minato say something about-'
-=-=-
"The one who helped me save Kuu yesterday", he responded.
-=-=-
His eyes narrowed at the other bit of information that he said.
-=-=-
"An-anyone with the potential with an ashikabi can wing any Sekirei whether they want to or not"
-=-=-
His head suddnely and sharply turned back to the yard, seeing Seo shaking his head as he got into a sitting position. 'So he's the one...' Ichigo thought.

"-saki-san?" he heard a voice say.

"Ichigo?"

He blinked, turning to his side to see Uzume next to him concerned.

"What is it Uzume?" Ichigo sighed.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

"Of course I'm fine," Ichigo grumbled. "Why wouldn't I be? Just thinkin' is all."

"So yeah, you top heavy bimbos best watch out! When my sis is better you evil twins are going down!"

Uzume and the rest blinked as several, or rather, one voice began to drift there way.

"No more sneak attacks, no more cowardly double teams, no more cheating overpower moves, you girls are D-O-N-E!"

Ichigo blinked to see the two girls that came with Seo come into view with Ikki, who had been walking backwards carrying a rice bag with her, similar if not identical to the one that Minato dropped a few moments ago. As the twins finally came into he noticed that they too were carrying a bag each.

"Yeah and we're gonna be standin' over you two losers, arm in arm with Ichigo-sama as you lay there all beat up and embarrassed! Just you watch!" Ikki continued to crow.

Hibiki's eye continued to twitch as they finally came to a stop in the dining room and turned to glare once more at the orange haired punk and tune out the annoying Sekirei that just wouldn't shut up. She also ignored the long suffering sigh that she knew her sister let off. It was then that she blinked as she noticed how everyone was positioned and then turned to see her Ashikabi out in the backyard getting into a sitting position. "What the hell happened to you Seo?" she asked as Seo rubbed his jaw slightly.

Seo sat silent, brining his hand up to his jaw and rubbing it. He head was tilted downwards and his shaggy hair obscuring his eyes. It wasn't too long before he lifted his head, eyes sharp and narrowed as he glared back at Ichigo, his hand still rubbing his jaw.

Ichigo glared right back him.

Hikari shifted with the bag in her hands, wondering if she'd get a chance after all.

Finally, Seo stood up and moved his lower jaw around and stretched his neck a few times before resuming his staredown with the spiky haired man before dripping it and giving him a large grin. "Not bad guy," he said and gave a thumbs up motion. "That's a hell of a kick you got there." The dining rooms occupants' eyes widened as Seo put his hands into his pockets and walked back inside the inn.

"Hey kid," he said, looking at Minato now who was just stepping inside too. "Just wanted to check up on how the Green Girl was doing," turning to see where she was before rolling his eyes to see that she was now back outside and peeking her head in to glare back at him.

"As well as other things," Miya chimed in, causing Hibiki to sigh once more.

"Not gonna deny that now," Seo chuckled, shrugging indifferently at Miya's accusations as he made his way to the front. "I was hoping to get a nice homecooked meal outta this check up. But..." his gaze turned back to Ichigo, a strange glint in his eyes. "Here you go and give me an interesting surprise Miya."

Miya smiled plesently at Seo, "Oh? By whatever do you mean?"

Seo snorted at Miya's innocent tone, "You know what I mean. You're trying to keep the two most interesting Ashikabi in this game all to yourself."

"What's that mean?" Ichigo chimed in suddenly, bringing Seo's attention soley back to him.

"Jus' that you're one to keep an eye on, man" he said shrugging as he reached the front door before turning to see his girls behind all the others with the rice bags in their arms. "We're outta here!"

At his call the twins began to march up towards Seo though before he could blink Ikki also rushed up to him with another bag of rice in her arms. "Here ya go", she said as she dropped the bag in his arms, and he grunted as his knees almost buckled at the unexpected weight as he unconciously brought his arms up to catch it.

That done the sekirei turned to hop back, humming a happy little tune.

"Uh, yeah, thanks... I think." Shrugging, Seo then began to turn.

"Seo!"

Seo stopped, turning to see Minato walk up to him.

"Th-thank you for helping Kuu-chan," he said as he bowed lightly. "I.. I just really wanted to let you know that."

Seo's lips thinned and then moved upwards as his eyes began to look back and forth before his head began moving around as well, giving the impression of giving a great deal of thought to something.

"Hold up," another voice called out and Seo turned his head to the new speaker.

"I got some questions for you..." Ichigo said as he stepped outside too.

Seo grinned at the former shinigami, "What'dya want to know?"

=========
 

Ghostface

Lazy Bastard...
#58
'Well... this ain't what I expected,' Ichigo thought as he and Minato followed the older ashikabi and his sekirei into the bar named Bar Illusion. As he stepped inside and looked around, the former shinigami noted that the place was really a lot more than a bar. It was more of a bar and dance club, as there was a sizable dancefloor, with a huge P.A. that would pump out whatever was popular at the time. At the moment, it was more bar than dance club as there was no music playing and a small gathering of men and women were sitting looking at the television idly.

For his part, Minato was idly wondering why he was being brought along for this talk as well as why it looked like it was going to be held in such a place. Wasn't the Sekirei game something not meant to be discussed amongst non-participants? His question would soon be answered as Seo flopped into a booth, Hibiki and Hikari flacked beside him. Ichigo's face was in his nuteral scowl as he and Minato sat across from Seo.

"So you wanted to talk," Seo began, wrapping his arms around his sekirei. "Let's talk."

"So you know about the Sekireis. More than usual?"

"In a matter of speaking yes," Seo nodded. "What'cha wanna know?"

Ichigo laid his hands on the tabletop and leaned forward and nodded his head towards Minato. "He said something about Sekirei can be taken by any Ashikabi whether they want to or not. Is that true?"

"Indeed it is," Seo answered. "That's how that guy set this 'game' up. So long as you got the potential, you can get any sekirei ya want, wether they want you or not."

"And this has been going on?"

"For a good while now," Seo replied as he leaned back into his seat. "In face I'd be surprised if this stage of the game wasn't done within the next month or two."

Ichigo's head tilted forward a bit and his fists had balled and grit his teeth, eyes looking ahead but not quite looking at Seo directly.

"I'm sorry," Minato cut in as Ichigo stewed this information over. "Stages?"

"That's right," Seo nodded at Minato. "There're several stages that asshole of a CEO wants this thing to go through before all is said and done. I don't know how long all of them are gonna be, but I know we're nearing the end of the first stage."

"Heya, big guy!" came a feminine voice from behind him. "I see you brought more than your angels with you tonight!"

Seo grinned up at the waitress, "Well hello yourself there, think your boss'll let me get a freebie for bringing in new customers?"

"I doubt it," The woman giggled. "So what can I get you?"

"You know me, hon," he said, "Get me the usual. Foster's Bitter, on tap, if you please."

"Coming right up," she said. She paused as she noted Ichigo's hard glare "And your... um... friends?"

Ichigo blinked and his head shook, snapped out of his thoughts as he turned to the waitress. "What?"

"You... uh... you want something to drink?" she repeated in a hesitant tone.

"Eh, come back in a sec eh?" Seo shrugged, cutting Ichigo off before he could answer. "We're kinda talkin' shop here. You can get the girs their usual."

"Oh yeah," the girl let out in a distracted tone. "So long as you keep those drinks flowin' I can manage," she nodded. "Be back in a flash!"

Seo let out a chuckle as the waitress made a mad dash for the bartender. "Well you sure do make one hell of a first impression, don'tcha kid?"

"So I'm told," Ichigo said as he leaned back, frowning.

"We got a minute before she gets back so what else ya wanna know?"

"What's the purpose behind all this?"

"For the sekirei? To find their most suited partner. For Minaka?" He glared and leaned forward, "If you ask me, the dude's been readin to many shonen books. I think he's doing all this for shits and giggles. Hell, I can guarentee you this shit wouldn't be goin' on under Takehito's watch."

Ichigo's frown deeped, remembering what he saw of MBI's owner. He blinked. "Wait, who?"

"Asama Takehito," Seo elaborated. "Miya's husband and my best friend."

"Miya's husband?" Minato suddenly spoke up. "You mean he was involve with MBI?"

"Oh crap, I forgot you were here kid," Seo chucked. "Do me a favor and don't bring up to Miya that I mentioned that ok? I don't need to be any further on her shit list ya dig?"

"But... but how was Miya-san's husband involved with this mess?" Minato continued.

"Because he was an important guy at MBI," Ichigo filled in as he remembered Miya's words from last night. "He made alot of conributions for them when it comes to Sekirei."

"Like?" Minato asked.

"He was a researcher for them in regards to Sekirei. He was the man who discovered the winging system, Norito and existence of the Ashikabi." Seo answered. "Hell, he was also responsible for adjusting Kurosaki's main girl and my main ladies," he emphasized the last statement by roving a hand over each twins backside.

"What happened to him?" Ichigo asked, remembering Miya's demeaner when she talked about him. "How'd he die? Did MBI do something?"

"Something like that" Seo said, turning away. "Can't go into any specifics, though."

"Here you go, just the way you like it. Ice-cold and on tap," came the waitress voice suddenly, puting his beer in front of him. Seo worked to combat the spill for a moment as the girl gave his sekirei their own drinks. A Strawberry daiquiri for Hibiki and a Sakeirinha for Hikari. He sipped at the beer and let out a long sigh, trying to get his mind back on track after remembering his long lost friend.

"So what else ya got fer me?" he asked as the waitress dissapeared back to the bar.

Ichigo clasped his hands on the tabletop and thought. 'What else?' he thought. He looked at Seo who had taken a sip from his mug before turning to grin at Hibiki, who caught him looking and blushed before turning away. Ichigo was about to snort at his flirting when he caught himself, his thoughts turning to a bit earlier.

Unconciously, he glared at Seo.

Seo turned, saw the glare and raised an eyebrow before chuckling and taking another sip. "Why the mean look kid?" he asked as he put his drink down.

Ichigo said nothing as his eye twitched, now unsure how to ask.

Another beat passed.

And then another.

Seo looked up at him after another swig and shook his head. "Look man, you got nothing to worry about".

Ichigo blinked, "And what's that supposed to mean exactly?"

"Uzume's a great flirt, but you're her Ashikabi. You've got nothing to fear from me," he said, taking another drink. Sitting it down he looked at Ichigo. "Ever."

"And why's that?" Ichigo pressed.

"Because she's your woman. Sekirei aren't joking when they say 'forever and ever' or something akin to that. You winged her. And that is that."

Ichigo frowned, begning to process the older man's words.

"I mean, it's good kid. Don't get me wrong." Seo continued. "It's good to see that Uzume's got herself an ashikabi who's willing to be all protective of her and such. But she's all yours man. Ain't nothing you got to worry about on her end or mine, y'dig?"

"Is that right?" Ichigo muttered.

"Yep," Seo said. "The bond between Ashikabi and Sekirei is unbreakable. She will always be loyal to you."

Ichigo stewed on that a bit, remembering what else Uzume had told him. "Because 'she loves me'?"

"Prety much," Seo nodded. "Sekirei ain't like us humans when it comes to that. Although there are some who probably don't equate their winging to marriage or love, for the most part when they say they love you, they love you. The End."

"But love is..." Ichigo trailed off, thinking of Ikki. "How can they be like that, only just meeting someone and saying that. How can an Ashikabi have more than one? It can't work out like that, right?"

"Huh," Seo sighed out as he took a swig of his beer. "I think you're thinking too hard on this kid. At least with the love thing. As for the multiple sekirei thing, unless you force it... it's rare to find an Ashikabi who can wing more than one or two. Shit, there's only two or three guys I can think of off the top of my head that have. They're the big time guys in this game too."

"What do you mean?"

"There're three ashikabi who're the ones you wanna avoid at this time. Hayato Mikogami, The Ashikabi of the South. Izumi Higa, The Ashikabi of the East. And Sanada Nishi, The Ashikabi of the West. Those guys are the ones with more than two sekirei, and are considered by most ashikabi to be the most dangerous players in this thing." He sighed, looking down at his quarter-filled mug. "Man, this beer's making me as talkative as hell."

"And these Sekirei that they have, they winged all of them? They all..." Ichigo trailed off as his head seemed to turn a bit a few times as he seemed almost uncomfortable saying the next bit. "...love them?"

"I dunno, they ain't mine," Seo shrugged. "But I imagine a good deal of them do at least."

"Even those that are forced?"

"They belong to them, and there is no other say in the matter," Seo said with devastating simplicity. "And nothing will ever change that."

"That's... that's..." Ichigo heitated as he struggled to find the proper words.

"Let me ask you, kid. Did you make Uzume your Sekirei or did she come to you?"

He blushed slightly as he remembered their first encounter, "Uh she... she kinda forced herself on me..."

"Hn" Seo got out before leaning back. "Heh" he said before his shoulders started to tremble. "Da...dahAHAHAHAHAHAAHA!" he then roared as his head threw itself back.

Ichigo growled at him.

Seo, not hearing anything else other than his own laughter then began to calm, lowering to now a gasping breath. "Oh... oh man. I can actually see that."

Ichigo continued to glare at him.

After a few more deep breaths Seo finally came up and gave Ichigo a wry look. "Look man, believe me, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. A Sekirei will choose their own Ashikabi. When they feel it, they feel it and they just know. It's their biology" he got out before raising his hand to forestall what Ichigo was about to say. "Remember, they're not human no matter how much they look like us both inside and out; so when they choose, be it by their reacting or their own choice then they've made the right decision for them."

Ichigo leaned back and looked upwards at the ceiling, thinking.

"And if your other girl came around the same way then its still a non issue. She chose you. And while there is the possibility of friction within such a group, it is up to the Ashikabi in how that plays out. It's you they care about and its you who they'll follow. For them, it's love." Seo looked at Ichigo in front of him, who was still looking above in deep thought.

'Man, this guy is completely overanalyzing everything'

Ichigo let out a defeated sigh, rubbing his eyebrows irritably, "Damn it, I miss when shit made sense."

Seo snorted as he put his mug down, "What's so confusing kid?" he asked as he wrapped his arms around his sekirei posessivly once more. "If I were you I'd say enjoy it while you can kid!"

Ichigo turned to look at and sigh at the other man and his antics, and trying to force down a slight blush at how freely Seo held his two girls, with both of them patting or pushing away his hands that playfully kept creeping up close to their breasts. Looking at them, they were both blushing and one of them was actively glaring at Seo before her eyes flickered to him and then glared back at him.

"Okay. What the hell's your problem?" Ichigo asked. "You've been looking like you want to kill me since Izumo".

"As if you don't know," Growled Hikari.

"No, I don't," Ichigo replied, keeping eye contact with the girl. Beside her, Seo looked on with interest.

"Are... are you fucking serious?!" She growled as she rose up to meet his gaze. "You know exactly what you did when we last met!"

"When did we last meet? You look familiar, but I can't place it..." Ichigo replied serious.

"What the fuck?!" Hikari all but yelled out. "You seriously don't remember?!"

Ichigo sighed and grimaced. "I'm not that good with names but I do remember faces. I think we've met, but I can't recall where".

"I don't belive this shit..."Hikari sighed. "Think back to when you winged your girl Uzume. Remember how you met?"

Ichigo blinked as he went back and recalled. The roof. The kiss. Prior... Her being chased by... by... "Hhaaaah?!" He bellowed, pointing at her.

Seo blinked at the display and looked down at Hikari and his eyes looked up, lost in thought. Finally...

"Eh, waittaminit. This is that guy?" he said, amused. He vaguely recalled one day of both of them saying that one had got away but didn't go into much details other than Hikari was absolutely furious and raving about some dye haired punk. He laughed again. "Oh man, you girls didn't say you were after Uzume at that time."

"You never asked," Hikari replied simply.

"Wait a sec," Ichigo growed as he turned to Seo, giving the elder ashikabi one of his harder glares. "You know about them hunting down other sekirei?!"

"Unwinged ones, yes" Seo confirmed.

"And you didn't put a stop to it because...?" he grolwed out.

"Because I told them too of course," Seo mentioned casually. Seeing Ichigo's cold stare he elaborated. "It's best that they retire early rather than participate in this 'game' and avoid the headaches and heartbreak that will come from it" he said while frowning himself.

"So you think you're performing some act of mercy?"

"Unlike others, I have a better idea of what's to come" Seo replied while picking up his drink again and taking a heavy swig. "Not everything mind you, but enough to know that its going to be downhill for everyone from here."

"Care to enlighten us then?" Ichigo frowned as Seo ploped his glass down.

"To put it simply, this Game is one where it will be the last one standing wins. The Sekirei have been released not just to participate, but to bond with their masters. It's a bond that is doomed to be forever broken. I see it more as a release of a burden, not to mention a way to stick it back to MBI," Seo said, his face darkening.

"That... that fucking figures..." Ichigo groaned out at Seo's somber tone. "Uzume... she... she told me something like that before... it's just... " Ichigo's face darkend, an ill feeling crawling into his stomach. "That... that sadistic son of a bitch."

Seo nodded, knowing which sadistic son of a bitch the man was referring to.

"W-what?" Minato almost gasped out at Seo's somber tone. "So... so you're telling me this game is..." Minato's face fell as he looked to his hand helplessy ill. "Musubi-chan..."

Ichigo turned to him. "She didn't tell you?"

He shook his head, "All she said is that she'd win this game... but... but this..." He groaned, clutching his hair, "It's one thing for Musubi to be invlved but... but Kuu-chan... he even got a child involved..."

Ichigo frowned and turned back to Seo. "Hey. Weren't you the one that helped him with the girl?"

Seo nodded, "That I did."

"Then why? You just said you take out unwinged Sekirei. So why did you help him with her?"

"Well for one thing, that sekirei was reacting to him. She belongs to him and I've told my girls not to mess with a sekirei once he or she has found the person that they've reacted to."

Seo smiled faintly at Minato, "And for another thing... I got a good feeling about this kid."

Ichigo turned to Minato and raised an eyebrow. Minato blinked and noticed all eyes were on him now and began to shrink into the corner.

Seo let out a small chuckle, "Same feelin' I got about you kid," he told Ichigo, bringing the formeer shinigami's eyes back toward him. "I don't know what it is yet exactly but I think you two can actuall do something about this game. If nothing else you're the kind of ashikabis this game needs."

"I really don't want to play to begin with," Ichigo sighed out.

"Well who does?" Seo asked. "At least who does and cares about his sekirei? That's another thing I get about you kid. Even though I still think you're thinking too hard on whatever your deal is between you and your group, I can tell you give a damn about them. Same thing with Minato, you were worried for number one-hundred and eight. Even if you didn't say it, you were willing to do whatever it took to see that kid safe and not fall into the wrong hands."

"Like it or not you're neck deep in it," Seo continued after a moment of silence. "Sooner or later you'll have to participate, and someone is going to lose. You spend all your time worrying and it'll end up being too late" he said and once more reached out and brought his girls close. Hibiki was blushing and looking away while Hikari's facial expressions seemed to run from anger to confusion to settling on mirroring her sisters.

"So that's why I say you're thinking on it a bit too hard kid," Seo continued as he gave Ichigo a mischivious look. "Just enjoy what time you, Uzume, and Ikki got. While you still got the time to." He chucked, "Hell just go home and stick yer head inbetween tthem mellons of Uzume's and go bbbrrriiki!"

"Go brrrikski you say?" Hikari growled as Seo laughed. "Go suck an egg ya pervert!"

"Oh come on now, don't get jeaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Ichigo blinked at Seo's scream or agony as Hikari let loose a powerful jolt of electricity that turned the eldest Ashikabi into a mess of soot and ashes. "Uh... are... are you ok?"

"Jus' peachy," Seo muttered, a puff of smoke released from his mouth.

"Yeah..." Ichigo muttered as he saw Seo slowly bring his arms back to himself. Hibiki sighed and shook her head while Hikari crossed her arms and looked away.

"So..." Seo started before coughing out a few more wisps of smoke. "As I was saying... I think you're totally overeacting to this. Just take it for what it is and enjoy your time with them."

Ichigo took a breath in through his nose, wondering and still not quite sure of himself. Turning his head he saw Minato was also looking somber, deep in thought. It was about this time the waitress returned and asked if there was anything else they would like. Ordering some appetizers, the coversation at the table turned to more mundane and easy topics, almost as if to lighten the mood of what was just spoken about.

Though easier to talk about those things, for Ichigo his mind continued to wander back to more immediate concerns.

=========
Minato trudged up the stairs, a little tipsy from the lite beer and mentally exhausted from what Seo and Ichigo had been talking about earlier. After Seo had been zapped things had fizzled into topics that hadn't concerned the Game or anything related, so he had let his mind wander during that time.

Every so often he had been addressed and invited to take part in conversation but he was content to sit back and let the other two talk while he nursed his food and drink and only spoke up when spoken to or if something of interest came up.

His mind, however, was naturally on other things that had been discussed.

The talk had brought back memories of what Musubi had said when they had talked about the fight with the fallen Yomi along and some of the words exchanged between Seo and Ichigo brought it back home hard.

Again.

He was now on the second floor and moving towards his room. Though he hadn't really been paying attention he was sure Ichigo wasn't too far behind him, staying behind momentarily and letting him go ahead.

Finally reaching his room he opened the door, walked in and shut it. The lights were off and the window was open, allowing some of the cool air and the faint moonlight to paint the dark room a pale color where it could. The quiet was broken by a faint hum of insects somewhere outside the window and the sound of his own breathing. He neede to be quiet as well now, no doubt Musubi was asleep, and Kuu should be with the landlady for the night as per her suggestion.

Closing his eyes and now feeling how heavy they were he sighed, hoping that sleep will help him purge some of ache from his stomach and soul. Taking in a breath he opened his eyes and moved forward to find his pajamas to change into and paused. Musubi was on the futon, sitting in seiza position with her hands folded on her lap, her head tilted slightly to the side as she breathed calmly. Minato blinked and gulped at the image. Though he could barely make her out in the dark, even now as his eyes continued to adjust, her form outlined in the faint moonlight from behind gave the impression of an aura around her as she continued to sleep.

'Was... was she waiting for me?' he thought as he continued to look upon the almost ethereal figure a few feet in front of him. He found himself a bit more awake now, taking in the sight in front of him for a few more seconds before moving towards her. When he reached her he knelt down and reached out to wake her and set her down so she could sleep properly but paused, now having a closer look at her and noticed the drool from her mouth and the way her ahoge slightly bounced with each breath and felt his heart tighten.

"Minato-san! I'll fight really hard for you! And I'll definitely stay alive so we can ascend together!" She had said that day, moments after she had been winged when she had unexpectantly kissed him.

"A Sekirei who's Crest has disappeared... Can never be with her Ashikabi again..."

"And I'll definitely stay alive so we can ascend together!"

"To put it simply, this Game is one where it will be the last one standing wins."

"And I'll definitely stay alive..."

Just take it for what it is and enjoy your time with them."


And I'll definitely stay alive..."

He found himself taking a harrowing breath as his arm was still outstretched, hand just above her right shoulder. 'It's impossible. It's impossible. Musubi against over a hundred others?' His eyes clenched shut as the full weight of what may be pressed down on him, and the idea of Musubi-

A warm feeling on his hand.

"Minato-san..." Musubi softly breathed.

"Huh?" Minato brought his head up dumbly to find his hand cupped in both of Musubi's as she gazed sleeply at him, her head still tilted but smiling like everything was right in the world.

If that could only be the truth...

"I waited for you, Minato-san," she told him as she brought his hand to her right cheek and pressed it against her, and his heart clenched ever tighter. "Minato-san?" She questioned, seeing even in her state that something was wrong.

"Mu-Musubi-chan?" He began hesistantly as Musubi looked at him, looking a bit more awake now. "'A Sekirei who's Crest has disappeared, can never be with her Ashikabi again,' that's what you said, right?" She blinked at him, not understanding what was wrong. "You.... you're the same, right?" He continued, "If you lose your crest to another Sekirei, you'll be gone? You'll disappear from my life?"

At this Musubi let go of his hand to place both hands near her breasts and closed her eyes, her face looking unusally solemn. "That's right."

His heart all but stopped.

"I, who descended with this Sekirei body, am fated to that should it come to pass. It cannot be changed..."

He took in a short stuttering of breaths, his thoughts of her chances within his mind and then he laughed self-mockingly, causing Musubi to look up at him in confusion.

"It... really is just a 'game' after all..." he got out, now looking up at her with moist eyes. "A game named the Sekirei Plan," he nearly spat out before his face began to fall again. "And like a game, when its 'game over' everything ends-"

"NO!" Musubi shouted, causing him to nearly jump back at its intensity.

He fell on his rump and looked at her, his eyes now wide, and before he knew it she had lept at him, her arms encircling his neck as she fell on him and he in turn fell on the floor.

"Mu-Musubi-chan?" he asked in surprise, looking at her head as she buried it in the crook of his neck.

"It's not a game," he heard her murmer and nuzzled him before holding him tighter. A moment passed in silent embrace before she lifted her head to look at him, their faces inches apart and he could see that her own eyes now moist as well. "Musubi's feelings... My feelings for Minato-sama... They're nothing like a game," she whispered in proclamation and he sat still, those words once more filling him with warmth before the reality of the situation again began to take hold. He was about to speak when she continued to talk.

"Musubi wants to stay by Minato-sama's side..." she said before burying her face in his chest. "Forever and ever..."

'Musubi-chan...' he thought as two sides within himself raged at what to do next. Her arms tightened around him and he then slowly started to rise a bit into a sitting position, but her weight kept him at a shallow angle and he used his left arm to prop himself and found his right arm resting on her left shoulder. This girl... this girl that I only met by chance a few days ago... She's so amazing yet when she's like this... he thought, noting how small she seemed while she was on him. His mouth opened and closed as thoughts of contrasting that image of her to that of a normal girl with wants and needs. And what she said just now....

I'm sorry... is what he wanted to say but she raised her head abit again and they stared at each other, eye to eye, lips nary an inch or so away from each other and once more he found himself unable to do anything else but look into her wide eyes as if those depths could convey the love she said she had for him.

"So I... so I..." she trailed off, staring back at him with half lidded eyes.

Musubi-chan... he thought as he closed his eyes, now trying to muster the courage to move forward.

And then he felt her arms leave his back.

"So I won't lose!" She proclaimed loudly as she rose up and pumped an arm.

-THUD-

Minato layed on the floor and blinked at what he thought he heard her say while his mind kicked in to let him know that Musubi had been supporting his weight.

"I won't lose!" She said again, looking down at him with eyes brimming of confidence.

At that Minato couldn't help but chuckle, seeing her like that and comparing her to his thoughts not a few seconds earlier. 'A normal girl, huh?'

Musubi's eyes then brightened. "And there's one more thing!" She announced. "The Professor only talked about the prize for the ashikabi but there's a prize for the winning Sekirei too!"

"Wha-what?" Minato asked.

Musubi then clasped her hands in front of her face and closed her eyes. Taking a breath she opened her eyes and gave him a soft smile and warm gaze. "The last one remaining can stay with their favorite person forever." She then paused for a moment as her eyes closed again. "And then..." she started before a large yawn broke from her.

"Musubi-chan?" Minato asked in concern, now lifting himself up to a full sitting position.

"And then...." Musubi tried to continue as she began to sway a bit, her eyes now once more gazing at him sleepily.

"Musubi-chan..." Minato said as he rose into a crouch to grab her shoulders as she yawned once more. Looking behind her he saw that they had not moved very far from her futon.

Pushing her slightly, she looked at him with a smile as she was slowly coaxed back to her bed.

He was about to lay her down when her arms reached around his neck and she brought him close.

"And then... Musubi will... release those lost Sekirei... into the sky once.... more..."

Minato blinked as she trailed off, her words growing weaker and softer with each word until she spoke no more. He could feel a soft breath near his neck and her embrace had loosened. Holding her cafefully, he set her down on her futon and covered her and watched her as she slowly breathed in and out through her mouth.

He smiled, the absurdity and proclamation of the last few minutes breaking some of his worries but they still remained, however it was that last bit that made him wonder. 'Lost Sekirei? Release them once....' he trailed off as he contemplated her words as sleep was now coming for him. Rubbing his eyes he continued to sit and watch his sleeping Sekirei, wondering what she had meant.

And why those words seemed to ease him somewhat....

=========

Uzume opened the door to her room and looked out.

She had heard the sounds of footsteps in the hallway and wondered if it was Ichigo who had come back from his sudden departure with Seo and Minato. He had left with a 'be back, just wanna talk a bit more' call out to her and Minato had looked between the two before Seo wrapped an arm around the boy's neck and dragged him along, leaving the rest of the girls looking on in confusion.

Kuu had tried to follow but Miya had told her no, and when Kuu had attempted to show her displeasure one look had the girl drag her feet with her head down back inside the Inn.

Musubi had soon followed and Uzume had dragged Ikki back in.

With nothing else to do she had gone up to her room to wait, and when the first hour had passed she had grown a bit restless as she finally had time to think about what had happened earlier and bit her lip.

It was around this time that she had wandered downstairs and when spotted Miya had told her to come for dinner. When she inquired about Ichigo and the others she had been told that Minato had called to say that they wouldn't be there for dinner.

Dinner had been rather subdued, at least to her. Ikki and Musubi had been chatting non-stop about what they'd do when they'd face each other, and she found herself shaking her head at despite how they spoke about how their battle would go they sounded like they had become fast friends.

And then she sighed as the girl was the crux of it all, and then sighed as she mentally chided herself about not saying anything about multiple wingings at all. All that time. Over three months in and that was one thing she never mentioned or brought up simply because well...

It just never came to mind.

She had known about that but the time to talk about it just never came up, and when they did she had been so caught up with Ichigo that time with her Ashikabi blew most of her worries away.

And its not like multiple wingings were going to be a danger to him...

The Game itself, with the Sekirei fighting each other, keeping the Ashikabi's from getting involved, the battles that would ensue....

All the actual dangers he would face she had been quick to talk about with good reason, and he had listened to her with that scowl planted on his face that just seemed to grow worse as she talked, perverbial stabs to her heart as even though it was clearing bothering her Ashikabi he had to know.

But multiple Sekirei...

That's more of a boon and not a danger...

She sighed, the damage done, and Ichigo was furious.

And then, not just a few hours earlier had pretty much forgiven her...

But... The worst part... the worst part in her mind was that she didn't even think that he was mad at her. As awful as that would be it would be preferable to have him angry at himself and bottle himself up with it.

It was that that she had ached about, what she was mad at herself about. That she had caused undo pain onto him and she wasn't sure how to make that better. How could he have forgiven her when he was still hurting...?

So now she stood, peeking her head outside into the hallway, in time to see the new guy's door close.

Oh... so that was just him. But that also meant-

"Ichigo," she breathed as she saw him come up the stairs and turn towards their rooms.

He looked... He looked tired as he took his steps to his room. He looked up and his eyes widened slightly as he acknowledged her before nodding.

He was silent as he made his way to his door, and she felt her stomach twist as it seemed to be a mirror of last night. And would this be the first of many nights? To go to bed and-

"Uzume?" Ichigo asked with his hand resting on the doorknob. He hadn't turned to face her but was looking downwards.

"Yes Ichigo?" She responded quietly.

"You know..." He started before trailing off. "If you..." he trailed off again before sighing and looking upwards but not turning his face to her. She could just see his cheekbones and parts of his nose but not his eyes or mouth.

"What I wanna say is..." He stopped and sighed again and his head dipped and he streched his neck, his free hand now being stuffed into his pocket. "I just want to let you know... my door is open, okay?" He finally got out before opening the door and walking in, stopping to pause a moment. When she didn't say anything he slowly and softly shut the door behind him.

"Ichigo," she breathed as she turned around into her room.

=========

Ichigo sighed as he layed on his futon, staring at the dark ceiling. So much to think about and neck deep in another absurd situation that he never would have thougth himself be a part of. He had kept somewhat clear of Ikki after last night and he still hadn't really talked to her, but she was here to stay. She was his. And he needed to accept that.

He sighed as his thoughts turned to Uzume. She knew she was hurting, but what to say? She was his, and he liked her. He was sure that he lo....

He closed his eyes, a large part of him reminding him that if she did love him it was part of the process. That it was just-

"Sekirei ain't like us humans when it comes to that. Although there are some who probably don't equate their winging to marriage or love, for the most part when they say they love you, they love you. The End."

It just couldn't be that simple, his mind continued to pound at him. Nothing is that simple, especially matters like this.

"I think you're thinking too hard on this man.

Am I...?

A Sekirei will choose their own Ashikabi. When they feel it, they feel it and they just know.

As Ikki did...

What to do...? Seeing Uzume hurt didn't sit well with him. But what could he do?

Cast off your fear.

He paused and sucked in a breath as the memory came unbidden and he sighed. Zangetsu's words echoed as if he been told yesterday and for the next moment he found himself wishing he could talk to the old man again and hear his advice. 'What do I do old man?' he questioned. 'What's the best way to face this?

Look forward. Retreat and you will age. Hesitate and you will die

He snorted. So easy to think and so easy when it was just him fighting for his life. And to apply it here... Just how long would he be able to put it off-

Retreat and you will age.

No. Zangetsu was right. This was something he couldn't put off forever. And maybe... he knew that too with what he told Uzume outside.

-CLICK-

He blinked but didn't turn his head. He didn't have to guess who it was. And he didn't try to push down the part that felt relieved. Silently she had entered the futon with him, not uttering a word, and for that he was grateful as he just wasn't sure what to say at the moment. He felt her snuggle up to him and put her left arm over him as she rested her head on his chest and left shoulder.

He then blinked as sleep began to enter his eyes. He took in a breath as he listened to hear if she would say anything but all he heard was her own soft breathing as she then pressed her head into him slightly before becoming still. He blinked again as everything blurred more now. He'd have to see what he could do tomorrow, and he'd have to talk to Ikki for sure.

Until then...

He closed his eyes and his own breathing softened, soon becoming in sync with the girl that lay atop of him.

=========
End Chapter Five
 

Wheeljack

Well-Known Member
#59
I have to say its pretty damn frustrating dealing with these odd line breaks from copying and pasting from text...

Ghost should have that fixed up later on...
 

zerohour

Well-Known Member
#60
Nice to see this chapter finally wrap up. Not too much happening it seems, just establishing the relationships between Minato, Ichigo, and Seo, but still a good chapter.
 

nick012000

Well-Known Member
#61
Wheeljack said:
I have to say its pretty damn frustrating dealing with these odd line breaks from copying and pasting from text...

Ghost should have that fixed up later on...
You mean the double spacing? Yeah, that made it really annoying to read. It was a nice touch for Ichigo to remember Zangetsu's advice, and apply it to a different context like that. I bet Zangetsu's happy that the rain's slackening off a bit. ;) :p
 

nick012000

Well-Known Member
#63
bmsattler said:
You mean like 'Rain and Clouds?'
Not sure what you're referring to there, but I was referring to <a href='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mu3g2l8UQCc&feature=related' target='_blank' rel='nofollow'>this</a>.
 

bmsattler

Well-Known Member
#64
Yeah. I may have failed at clever. I -believe- that Rain and Clouds is a euphemism for an orgasm. I may have gotten it wrong.
 

Wheeljack

Well-Known Member
#65
zerohour said:
Nice to see this chapter finally wrap up. Not too much happening it seems, just establishing the relationships between Minato, Ichigo, and Seo, but still a good chapter.
Yeah, well, as Ghost mentinoed, this ended up only being around half, or a little over half of what we expected for Chapter 5. But with the amount of time that its taken to get here from our last update not to mention the sheer size of the chapter (again) we decided, I reluctantly, to pretty much cut it in half.
 

Waruiko

Well-Known Member
#66
We won't hold it against you if you posted in smaller more frequent blocks you know.
 

BukkakeNoJutsu

Well-Known Member
#67
I'm cool with the new posting processes. The more frequent veiled moon the better.

Also, I'm glad Ichigo manned up a bit. I'd imagine winging multiple sekirei will make Ichigo's powers recover faster.
 

Coelacanth

Well-Known Member
#68
I really enjoyed Ichigo's inner dialog about confronting his concerns. Him trouncing Seo was pretty funny. I'll review more when I get home and can actually use my personal computer.
 

DhampyrX2

Well-Known Member
#69
bmsattler said:
Yeah. I may have failed at clever. I -believe- that Rain and Clouds is a euphemism for an orgasm. I may have gotten it wrong.
I've always seen it as "clouds and rain" when discussing an orgasm. That's probably why it sounds awkward.
 

Ranma Uzumaki

Well-Known Member
#70
I liked the Fresh Prince shout out.
 

Coelacanth

Well-Known Member
#71
I forgot what I wanted to write. :headbanger:
 

Wheeljack

Well-Known Member
#72
And now, the cleaned up completed version.

Enjoy!

==========


Bleach is created by Tite Kubo and distributed by Weekly Shonen Jump,
Shueisha, Studio Pierrot, TV Tokyo, Adult Swim, & Viz Media LLC.

Sekirei is created by Sakurako Gokurakuin and distributed by Young Gangan,
Square Enix, Seven Arcs & Funimation Entertainment

No permission has been obtained from any of the copyright holders for the use of the
characters and situations from this series. This work of fiction is not for profit and not
intended to infringe on copyrighted intellectual property in any significant or harmful
way.

Should they, or any of their affiliates, request it this non-profit story will
be taken off line as quickly as possible. Please support the official release.

Any original characters, however, are owned by me. If you steal them, I shall hunt you
down and skewer your nuts. You want to use them? Just ask me first as I'll probably say
yes.

Feedback is encouraged. That's why I write. Also for the cookies.
And The Root Beer. The sweet, nectar-of-the-gods root beer.

Flames are pointless, as the author is a flaming retard.

...hold up, that's not what I meant. Uh, let's just start the story.

=========

????

It was cold, her mind told her.

Shivering, she curled herself tighter, gathering what heat she could in an attempt to fall back asleep. She turned her head, doing her best to ignore the cold breeze and the occasional light 'something' that hit her skin every so often.

Whatever it was, it was wet.

'Wet'?

She stirred a bit at that, her mind now coming into focus as her body relayed to her brain sensations that she should not be feeling. The last thing she remembered before falling to sleep was being in a motel room curled under a blanket in a bed.

Was there a hole in the roof? She didn't remember hearing anything about rain on the news, and while it was very cold there hadn't been much cloud cover.

Even the bed beneath her was no longer soft, but hard like concrete-

Her eyes shot open and her heart rate skyrocketed. She was no longer on a bed in a motel.

Frightened, the timid girl came to a sitting position and shot to her feet and looked for the security of her weapon. Not finding it she took in her surroundings, her heart still pounding like it would explode and her mind dreaming up all sorts of explanations for this and scenarios such as kidnapping or pranks or lab experiments or worse.

The breeze grew stronger, and she realized that it was now lightly sprinkling. Looking upward, the cloudy sky was grey, but she could not fathom what time of the day it was. Holding her arms together to conserve heat she turned toward the ground.

And yelped in the scene before her.

She was on a building. Literally on the side a building!

And sideways! With windows around her, but to her shock she did not fall.

The building was an odd shade of blue with others around her-

She turned quickly, trying to not look at the scenery around her lest she begin to grow dizzy and maybe fall for real.

'I'm....I'm here again?

Wrapping her arms around her shivered from the cold and felt something amiss only to look down at herself to find herself in the nude. With that she fell to her knees to cover herself more and rubbed her arms. 'I... I could really use some clothes...huh?' With that thought, she found herself clothed again in her normal attire.

'Wei...weird...

She then took in a few deep breaths to calm herself as well as to convince herself she would not fall. Calming, she raised her head and her eyes suddenly widened.

'I... I can see more', she realized as she hesitantly stood up and brought her arms up to cover her face from the light sprinkle. 'And its sprinkling now...' Indeed, this was the third time she found herself here. The first around three months ago and the last time almost two months now. However, unlike last time, the scenery was much more solid, and from what she could remember the 'sky' was only cloudy last time.

She hesitantly began to move forward to see what she could. Turning her head around as she walked she tried to see if there were was anyway to get to- "Oof!", she cried out, bumping into something.

Wait.

There wasn't anything that she would run into when she started walking.

She shook her head and looked forward.

She wasn't alone.

She gasped and quickly hopped back a few steps and began bowing a few times and muttering an apology as best she could.

No reply came to her.

She looked up, wondering why and who she ran into.

Several yards away stood a figure, a man, she could see. His back was toward her and his arms were held loosely at his hips, fists clenched. She could see his unkempt and somewhat spiky hair came to just about his shoulders, and noted that it was bright orange, a shade or two darker than her own strawberry blond hair.

Wait.

Could...could this be her Ashikabi?

She was told from some of the adjusters that some Sekirei would be able to see the face of their true Ashikabi in their dreams. If their connection was strong enough, or if the Ashikabi was strong enough through having winged some Sekirei prior some would bear witness to this vision.

But..but why would she see her Ashikabi in such a strange place?

Standing and no longer aware of the odd scenery around her she took a hesitant step forward, curious to see his face. Reaching him she noted just how tall he was compared to her, easily a head and half or so. Blushing she looked at his face and took a step back, surprised at the look he was giving.

A scowl graced his face as he gazed downward, almost in frustration as she noted again that his fists were clenched. Was he angry? Was he in trouble? Her mind raced with coming up with what kind of situations he may be in.

Turning as she contemplated she yelped again as there was another figure with her.

'Where... where did this person come from', she thought frightened.

Clad in black, he stood a few feet away, facing what she now believed to be her Ashikabi. What surprised her most, other than the giant cleaver that was resting before him blade-first in the ground, the figures hands resting on the hilt was that this man was wearing her Ashikabi's face.

Twins? Why the different clothing? He stood almost relaxed, as if he were waiting. Turning back to the figure she first saw and noted his expression had changed, his eyes face more somber and his eyes closed.

Confused, she turned back to find the figure with the sword was now gone.

'Wha-what's going on?' she thought, a bit afraid now.

Turning back to her Ashikabi she saw that his face and posture again changed, his hands now in his pants pocket and his posture a bit more relaxed. His face was now neutral as he gazed ahead, and she noted his brown eyes. Warm, brown eyes that looked ahead, as if he were waiting...

She then took a step forward to touch him, closing her eyes.

To open them to find herself back in her bed, her blankets wrapped around her as the morning light broke through the motel room's curtains. She moaned as she cursed herself for waking up.

But, her mind told her, the good news was she saw who she was meant to be with and she smiled, happier now than she had been in a long while.

It was a cheerful thought in the face of what seemed to be an unending nightmare ever since she was released and got separated from her friends.

Not to mention a persistent would-be suitor who managed to keep tracking her, no matter how many times she had run and barely make an escape in a few cases.

'Like last night', she thought and pulled herself into a tight ball, shivering at how close it had been and trying to hold back a few tears as the haunting memory came back to her.

She looked around the motel room, trying to focus on anything to keep the memory at bay, a few tears that she had been holding back now beginning to fall. Her eyes paused at the small table at the side of the bed that had the lamp and telephone at. Next to the lamp's base and behind the phone was a bible, a bit unusual in Japan but, she reminded herself, the motel chain she was in had a western owner. After a moment of contemplation she then clasped her hands in prayer, hoping that God or anyone would hear her plea.

'Please... please let me find my Ashikabi...' An image of the mystery man's face showed up in her mind and she shivered again. 'Please let this nightmare end...'

Finally she pulled back and opened her eyes, contemplating the day and if she should risk going out. Her stomach grumbled, reminding her that she would need to go out sometime, as most of the motel food she had experienced wasn't all that great to begin with.

She took a deep breath and made her decision. Looking to the end of her bed she saw her giant black hammer, ready for her.

Moving off her bed she stood and stretched.

Sekirei #84, Yashima, found herself trying to raise her spirits to start a new day.

=========

Ghostface211 presents...

In Association with Wheeljack...

A Bleach - Sekirei Crossover

Veiled Moon

Feather Five: I Just Wanna Be Your Girl (piano melo version)

Comments, Constructive Criticism, and MST 3000's can go to ghostface211@gmail.com
=========

A Month And A Half Ago...

Sol rose burning above Terra's horizon and cast it's yellow light down through the window in front of Ichigo's futon. Inside, the former substitute shinigami continued to sleep in the borrowed room he had in Maizon Izumo. And like last time, the former substitute shinigami did not sleep alone. Uzume laid curled up next to her Ashikabi once more, her head resting on his chest. Her warm brown eyes were closed peacefully, and her ear lay directly over his heart.

After another few moments the beams of sunlight made her stir. She sniffled a few times before giving a brief yawn and sighed happily as her eyes opened. As she found and looked at Ichigo's face she smiled. He was still sleeping. Her smile grew as she ran a hand through her Ashikabi's hair. Unlike the last sleep-over she was dressed in one of Ichigo's old shirts that managed to fit comfortably loose on her frame. "Gahh... you look so good... even when you're sleep" Uzume muttered to herself.

"Go 'way," Ichigo moaned, still half asleep. He feebly clawed at Uzume's hand in a half-assed attempt to stay off the inevitable.

"Well that's just rude," Uzume muttered as she gave a slight pout. "Maybe Sleeping Beauty needs his Princess Charming to give him a nice morning start?" she asked as she slowly lowered her face down to his.

"Not now 'zume..." he mumbled as his eyes squeezed further shut and he turned, completely missing her intentions.

"Don't you worry, Ichigo," she whispered. "I know you'll like this..."

Without turning his head his eyes opened and giving a good approximation of a half lid stare while still half asleep and gazed at her with his left eye. "Uzume...", he mumbled.

"Good morning, Ichigo," she said, smiling with her eyes closed. "Ready to get up yet?"

"What time is it?" he mumbled, halfway expecting and halfway dreading the answer.

"About half past seven," she supplied. "We got some time before breakfast is ready. So if you want..." she trailed off.

He turned his head to fully face her and his stare became a bit more accusing. "At leas' now you're bein' up front with it", he said while stifling a yawn.

"Well y'know," she shrugged. "Learnin' subtlety with you is about as good as punching an iron wall."

"Ha ha," Ichigo muttered. "Look, I know you tease and all Uzume. But..." he paused as he yawned, "...ain't no need to act like ya did last night. I get the point, y'know."

Uzume blinked and gave her Ashikabi a confused look, "Huh? Last night?"

"I could practically feel your eyes on me while I was getting ready in the bath", he said as he looked at her oddly and continued to blink away the sleep in his eyes before yawning once more. "Wouldn't go away 'til I yelled at ya to get back".

"Bathroom?" Uzume asked. "Y'know... If I'm gonna ogle ya in the bath, you'd know it 'cuz you'd have seen me. Hell, if I was gonna ogle ya, I'd let you ogle me right back. Fair's fair after all, love."

She then smirked as she brought her face over his, "Don't forget, I've seen all you got hon." She waggled her eyebrows suggestively, "And it ain't to shabby either."

"Uzume-!" Ichigo choked out as he blushed heavily and moved his head back slightly.

She giggled at his response, "God you are so fun to mess with." She then swiftly leaned forward and stole a quick kiss and rose away from his face, "Just keep it in mind next time you go to the bath. If you want me to watch just say so, don't be so paranoid and think I'd do it like some creeper 'k?"

"But you were", he said as he calmed back down. "Damn feelin' didn't leave until you left".

"No I didn't," she replied, shaking her head. "I was with Miya in the living room watching TV. She was cooking dinner so she can vouch for me."

He blinked and looked at her oddly. "I know what I felt, and who else in this house would wanna do that?"

"No one-" she cut herself off, pounding her fist into her hand. "Ah!" she cried out.

"Hah?" Ichigo replied.

"Nothing," Uzume then quickly reassured her Ashikabi, moving back in to steal another kiss from his lips before rising up and out of the futon. Ichigo blushed and turned away, noting that his shirt ended slightly above her knees. "I just remembered something, so I'll be right back babe!"

Ichigo just blinked as he heard the door open and close. "Hoohkay... so now what was up with that?" he asked himself.

=========

Outside the room Uzume closed the door behind her and leaned against it with her head lowered.

"I could practically feel your eyes on me while I was getting ready in the bath", he said as he looked at her oddly and continued to blink away the sleep in his eyes. He yawned. "Wouldn't go away 'til I yelled at ya to get back".

She grimaced.

"I know what I felt, and who else in this house would wanna do that?"

She sighed, knowing that this was going to come sooner or later.

'There is someone here that would.'

As she leaned against the door she turned her right ear to the door and listened, knowing Ichigo would be slow to rise as her eyes looked down the hallway at the wall.

'A rather dirty ol' Ghost at that...'

Pushing off the door she walked towards the end of the hallway to said wall and stopped just in front of it. She paused as she turned around quickly, as if to affirm that Ichigo wouldn't come out at the wrong moment and turned back around and rapped quickly on the wall twice. Hearing a muffled acknowledgement she pushed on the wall and it pushed forward like a rotating door, the hinges in the middle and the other side moving outwards into the hall as she entered and shut it behind her.

As the door shut the light that had been around her announcing the beginning of a new day all but vanished in the near total darkness that encompassed the room. In front of her was the soft glow of many monitors that saved the room from complete darkness, giving enough light to only barely make out oneself and to see what was on the floor to not trip over anything. In front of those monitors was another woman, a voluptuous one as other men would happily describe her sat in seiza position facing the monitors and away from her guest. Long brown reddish hair fell from her head to cover her back and her glasses were aglow from reflecting the light off the monitors.

Uzume snorted softly as she made her way to the woman, "Oy."

"Hm~?", came the reply as the sounds of the keys of the keyboard being clicked continued on.

"I know you don't get out much and all," Uzume continued as she made her way towards the woman. "But I thought I made something clear last time I came in here." She said as she stood behind the bespectacled woman and palmed her head. "So you wanna tell me something?" she asked with a mildly ominous expression. "Why the hell are you ogling my Ashikabi like a letch?!"

The clicking stopped and the girls shoulders began to softly quake. Uzume blinked at this but before she could do or say anything the girl in front of the monitors began to softly crackle and she grimaced at the sound. "Ku ku ku~"

Uzume sighed. "Now what?" she muttered.

The girl slowly turned her head, and for a moment as that was happening Uzume briefly thought of an old horror film she had seen once before pushing it away, only for it to come raging back as the girls face could be somewhat seen, the glasses still refracting enough light to mask the girl's eyes but she was still giggling with a little bit of drool dripping from her mouth. "Can you help it?" she asked as her eyebrows moved up and down suggestively before she turned back to her monitors.

"Uugh," Uzume groaned as she rubbed her forehead in irritation. "Look, Matsu... I get it sucks being locked up in here and Ashikabi-less. I get it. But can you at least try to keep it in your panties? You're gonna creep my Ashikabi back into his shell."

The girl cackled again as with a few more clicks all the monitors as one suddenly showed the same picture before combining so all the monitors could work in tandem to show one large picture.

Of her Ashikabi.

"His shell?" Matsu repeated. "Do you think with the two of us combined we could break it together?" she asked before bringing an arm up to her mouth.

'To wipe off the drool', Uzume knew all to well as she caught herself looking at the picture.

"Eeeeeew," Uzume replied. "Seriously Matsu... is five minutes asking for too much?"

"Five minutes", Matsu blinked. "Five minutes for what?" she asked in confusion and turned around once more.

"You know what," she said, folding her arms across her chest. "I know you want to be a part of this game Matsu, but are you really reacting to him or are you so damn lonely anyone will do?"

"Not quite yet," Matsu admitted. "However," she continued before looking back. "Just a few more visits and I probably will be," she finished with a smile and using a hand to fan herself.

Uzume frowned. "Matsu..." she growled.

"Ah, c'mon Uzume-ta~n," she whined while bringing both hands up, her fists lost in the oversized sleeves. "Its more or less gonna happen, as everytime he comes by he keeps looking better and better, so why not get a head start on it?"

"Because, for one, I haven't explained to him about multiple wingings yet." Uzume began. "It was hard enough getting him to this point all things considered since I reacted and just took him. I'm trying to ease him into this thing as easy as I can. And for another," she snorted. "Knowing you, you'd drain him for all he's worth you dirty ol' woman."

"Between the two of us, he'd probably have one foot in the grave already", she said before cackling again.

"Speak for yourself, I'm not as bad as you." Uzume chuckled.

"Ohh reaally~", Matsu said slyly. "I seem to recall things more or less getting pretty steamy that first night in the baths."

"I'm sure you heard me say that if I'm gonna ogle my man, he's gonna get to ogle me in return." Uzume defended. "I've got nothing to hide."

"So you've been showing him".

"He's seen what I got, yes. And I've seen what he's got."

"It is pretty cute how he covers himself, isn't it?"

"Or those times when he acts like he's not gonna look and tries to sneak a peak any way," Uzume giggled at the memory.

"I know, huh?" Matsu giggled along with her.

"I keep telling him he doesn't have to act like that but he's so stubborn," Uzume sighed. "But him being that way is so dang cute too."

Matsu put her hands to her cheeks and swayed a bit. "Almost too much, but its so adorable".

"I know right?" Uzume nodded her head vigorously at Matsu. "Sometimes, I just wanna pick on him he's so cute. But I also want him to get over that silly hang up of his and just ravish me!"

Matsu sighed in understanding, "Uzume-tan sure has it rough doesn't she?"

"Indeed I do," Uzume mock-saddenly nodded in understanding.

"And Uzume-tan knows that Matsu would do anything to help, right?"

"Indeed I do", Uzume said again as she nodded once more in agreement. "Indeed I...", she paused and she halted in mid nod, facing the floor now before a tick appeared on her forehead. Woodenly she turned to her sister Sekirei with a frown and nearly closed eyes. "As...as nice as it was to vent, you're not changing the subject on me any longer, ok?"

Matsu just smiled softly at Uzume, "I'm not, eh?"

"No you're not," Uzume answered as her frown deepened. "I feel your pain Matsu, but you gotta leave this one be. You'll kill him with your kind of kindness. Literally."

She cackled again. "But what a way to go!"

"Matsu," she growled.

Matsu sighed before sitting up straight and looking up at Uzume seriously. "You feel my pain," she echoed the other Sekirei's words of a few seconds ago before turning back to the monitor displaying Ichigo, her hair flowing behind her. "Must be tough now," she said before frowning at the monitors.

"What do you mean by that?" Uzume asked, surprised at the look of Matsu's matching frown.

"I mean," Matsu sighed and she turned her head around to look at Uzume. "That you sit there and say you feel my pain. You sit there and say you understand what I'm going through. But... but in that same breath you tell me to stay away from your happiness."

Uzume grimaced and stuttered as she tried to back up her words, "T-that's because..."

"I know I can be a bit... enthusiastic - let's say, when it comes to your Ashikabi. But let's be honest with each other, Uzume. When is someone like me going to get an opportunity to be winged while I'm busy hiding from MBI all the time? When am I going to get the chance to find someone to love me like your Ichigo? Can you tell me? I would love to know."

"I..." Uzume hesitated as Matsu calmly turned her entire body halfway and sat with her hands in her lap and looking at the lower numbered sekirei. "I don't know."

"Don't get me wrong Uzume," Matsu continued, bringing a hand up to readjust her glasses. "I'm eternally grateful for your help in regards to that. I don't think it's overstating that I owe you my life. But do you think it fair that I have to possibly spend the rest of my life up here while you get to take your beloved Ashikabi where ever he goes? Be able to spend time with him, no matter how limited, as freely as you two so desire?"

"Matsu..." Uzume whispered in a stunned tone.

"And even your limits are greater than my own. You can walk around Teito; I can't leave the Izumo premises often without worrying about those MBI goons or even Karasubasa. How often do you really think Miya-tan is going to get another new tenant that I might react to? And even if she does, what are the odds that I'd react to that person?"

"Would you really have me be alone up here for the rest of my days, Uzume-tan?" Matsu asked in a hushed tone.

"I don't want that, Matsu. You know that."

"Really?" Matsu asked in a pleased tone. "So you'll let me make your twosome a three-way, Uzume-tan?"

Uzume made a disgusted face at the bespectacled Sekirei, "Oh man, I can't believe you went there. And I was actually feeling sorry for you."

"Oh come on Uzume-tan", Matsu whined and fell to her knees, all previous vestige of seriousness and maturity now lost. "Please, please, please~", she begged, each 'please' punctuated by her moving closer to Uzume on her knees as she held her hands together before getting close enough to latch onto Uzume's left leg.

"Oh get off me!" Uzume growled. "I said no and I mean it you letch! At least not until I know you can keep that libido under control!"

"I can't promise miracles!" Matsu blurt out as she held onto Uzume's leg at the calf. "Uzume-tan, give me a chance!"

"Leggo of me, damnit!" she shouted. "You'll kill him! You'll kill him you horny freak!"

"Never!" cried Matsu. "I wanna be Ichi-tan's number two!"

"No, no, a thousand times no!" Uzume cried as she shook off Matsu from her leg. "Not until you get under control!"

"You should take me up on my offer, Uzume-tan!" Matsu cried out, "After all, who know how he'll react if you don't tell him soon? Why he could wing some stranger and not know it!"

"Get off me!" Uzume cried.

"Not until you admit I'm right!! Better me than some stranger!"

"Get off, get off, get off!" Uzume replied. Each cry was punctuated with the Sekirei futily trying to kick Matsu off her leg.

"Just admit!" Swing. "Your defeat!" Another sway. "And let him!" Almost got thrown away from that one. "Wing me!" And now Uzume paused, her leg lifted in the air and Matsu providing some support. "Or at least tell him about me!" Matsu cried. "Or I'll bite you!"

"You wouldn't dare!" Uzume growled.

-CHOMP-

"GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" Uzume cried out in surprise and pain. "What the hell?!? You bit me goddamnit! You actually bit me!"

"If phor own fault!" Matsu muttered through Uzume's flesh.

"That's it! You're never touching my Ichigo, you witch!" Uzume cried out. "Goddamnit I got Matsu-rabies now!"

=========

The door to Matsu's room opened slowly, and a lone figure tiredly walked out, her borrowed shirt ruffled and hair frazzled. The moment she was out she sighed and brought up a hand to close the wall shut. "Uzume, wait!" Matsu's voice called from inside.

"I said good day to you, you molester," Uzume muttered tiredly as she pushed back on the wall to close it completely.

"You'll see Uzume-tan!" Matsu cried as the wall-slash-door closed. "You're gonna be sorry when that handsome man wings some strange sekirei that you should've let your bestest friend be your number two!"

"Whatever," Uzume muttered as the door closed. She moaned as she softly limped towards Ichigo's room. "I need a nap. That damn dirty fighter..."

=========

Today...

Uzume blinked out of her thoughts and the reality of the present came crashing back as she continued to look on as her stunned Ashikabi looked upon his second Sekirei mouth agape. She was still holding onto him, looking at him with a glaze in her eyes and a dreamy look on her face. Uzume closed her mouth and silently swallowed the building saliva that had accumulated and blinked again before taking a small breath before finally averting her eyes, Matsu's words stilling ringing in her head.

'I'll deal with it if we cross that bridge' She had remembered telling her back then.

And now that bridge was here.

Heh. She mentally chuckled before looking upon the two again. 'The bridge is here... I... I kinda thought something like this might happen, Ichigo being... Ichigo but... heh... Ichigo being Ichigo generally also meant...

She closed her eyes and took a breath to calm herself before looking upon them again, her numbness now leaving her body. 'I had always hoped that this wouldn't happen but felt that if it did it'd be a good thing; more protection for Ichigo but...' She felt her heart tighten briefly before biting the inside of her lip as if to chastise herself. 'Get a grip.' Her mind told her firmly. 'This is the Sekirei Game. More Sekirei means Ichigo's chances are better.' She took another large breath. 'It's for the best.'

Now only if the hollow feeling would fade.

And for all that thinking only a few seconds had passed.

"A...Ashi...Ashikabi?" Ichigo repeated in a state of shock. "B... but how...?"

"Ahhh..." Ikki said in a daze as she continued to look at Ichigo with a dreamy expression. "I can't believe I finally found you... my dearest Ashikabi."

"I... I can't be your Ashikabi," Ichigo denied as he tried to break Ikki's grip. "I already have a Sekirei!"

At this, Ikki's dreamy expression changed to one of surprise, as if coming out of a trance. "Eh?" Blinking for a moment, she found her eyes locked onto Ichigo shocked brown orbs. "Ah..." she muttered as she felt the heat rising to her cheeks. Averting her eyes, she looked down to find herself pressed up to Ichigo's own powerful frame rather snugly. The warmth that filled her cheeks quickly flooded to the rest of her body, and the arms wrapped around Ichigo released their grip as if the former shinigami was on fire and she tried to stand. "Ah!" she squawked as she quickly tried to put some distance from her Ashikabi.

Ichigo could only stare as Ikki quickly made a good amount of space between them...

Only to flinch as Ikki tripped over her sleeping Sekirei sister, landing on the other side of Nanaha in an undignified flop bottom first. "Owww..." Ikki groaned from her spot on the floor.

"You... uh... you ok over there?" Ichigo asked.

"I'm... fine," Ikki groaned as she rubbed her sore bottom. "Oh there's an ache I didn't need." Her eyes widened suddenly, "AH!" she squawked as she looked at what she tripped over. Nanaha lay on her futon, tossing uneasily in her sleep.

"Nanaha-chan!" Ikki cried out as her sister Sekirei started shaking her head violently. "Nanaha-chan, I'm so sorry! I... I din't mean to..." After a few seconds, Nanaha stopped moving and her breathing became steady again. Seeing this Ikki let out a sigh of relief.

"Idiot," Ikki muttered as she berated herself. Giving herself a quick but light punch to the head as a punishment, she smiled softly down at her little sister. "I'm sorry Nanaha-chan. You get your rest ok?" Looking back up at Ichigo, she rubbed the back of her neck in embarrassment, "Ehheheh... s-sorry ya had to see that..."

"Don't... don't worry about it," Ichigo grunted, unsure of what was to happen next.

"Eh heh... It's a little late for that ain't it?" Ikki asked, a light blush on her cheeks. "I mean... here you go and save me and Nanaha-chan's lives. And honestly, thank you so much for that Ashikabi-sama. You come here to check in on us, and I.. I go ahead and... and..." her blush deepened as she struggled to finish that statement.

"Y-yeah," Ichigo finished.

What more could be said?

The uncomfortable silence that was beginning as both weren't quite sure what to say or do next was snapped as light footsteps slowly made their way in. Ichigo blinked, remembering who was likely to be there. Turning his head he confirmed that sure enough, Uzume and Asama-san were in the room with him and suddenly felt a wave of shame, feeling that Uzume had seen it all. He turned his head away from her and with a closed mouth grit his teeth, unsure about what to do even moreso now.

"Uuhhh... hello?" Ikki asked as a puzzled look crossed her features. "Mind if I ask who you two are?"

"Oh," Miya said. A pleasant smile gracing her face, "You're finally awake!"

"Ah, yes," Ikki began. "I... I don't mean to be rude ma'am but... where are we?"

"You are amongst friends, that I can assure you." Miya said as she came near and Ikki smiled in reply.

"I... kinda figured that." She laughed nervously again, and brushed her short hair back from her face. "So... where am I? And did... did you help me and my sister?"

"Yes, I dressed your and your friend's wounds. As for where you are... you're in Maizon Izumo," Miya answered. "And you are safe."

"Maizon Izumo?" Ikki asked.

"A boarding house." Miya answered.

"Ah." Ikki nodded before she locked eyes with Uzume. "Ah!" she cried out and pointed to the Veiled Sekirei. "It's you!"

Uzume blinked and pointed to herself. "Me?"

"Yeah!" Ikki chirped. "I remember you! You helped Nanaha-chan too didn't you?"

Uzume blinked again. "Y-yes, I did. Both of us did."

"So I owe you all mine and Nanaha-chan's lives don't I?" Ikki asked as she stood up and bowed to Miya and Uzume. "Thank you all so much for your help!"

"A-ah. You're welcome" Uzume replied, bowing back. "And you're... Ikki, right?" she asked, managing to bite back a grimace as thoughts of Ikki's winging came flying back.

Ikki nodded, "That's right. How'd you guess?"

"You said so," Uzume responded and rotated her raised hand, which had been pointing at herself to point back at Ikki.

"Eh?" Ikki blinked as she pointed to herself. "I did?"

"You did," Uzume nodded in confirmation.

Pause.

'Ohhhh no,' Ikki moaned in her thoughts and brought both hands to the sides of her head. 'How could this happen?! I've finally been winged and I haven't been able to give my once-in-a-lifetime introduction pose!' She then brought her hands from her head and brought her right hand, now a fist, to her mouth and cleared her throat, unaware of the odd looks she had gotten from t Uzume replied. Each cry was punctuated with the Sekirei futily trying to kick Matsu off her t know.leg.

Uzume replied. Each cry was punctuated with the Sekirei futily trying to kick Matsu off her leg.

he two women in the room. "That's right!" she chirped as she then pointed to Ichigo. "Remember this and remember it well my dear savior, for this is your lucky day!!"

Ichigo sighed numbly as he finally looked up at her. "Is it now?" He asked in a deadpan tone.

"Indeed it is!" Ikki as she gained confidence, completely missing her new Ashikabi's mood. "For you have just his the jackpot of all jackpots!!" She nodded with closed eyes as she brought her thumb to point to herself before she opened her eyes to lock them on Ichigo, "For I am the one and only Numb-gack!"

"What?" Ichigo asked as he pursed his lips.

'WHAT AM I DOING?!' Ikki thought in a panic, having slapped her hands over her lips. 'Ohmigod I can't believe I almost blurted out the Sekirei plan to a pair of civilians!! Oh man! Oh crapberries, that was close!!'

"Are... are you ok over there?" Uzume asked as she looked at the odd Sekirei.

"Peachy!" Ikki replied somewhat muffled before she removed her hands from her mouth to reply once more, clearer. "Absolutely peachy!" She then cleared her throat in an attempt to regain her composure, "It's just that there's something I need to tell that gentleman sitting there alone, that's all!"

"That you're a Sekirei..." Uzume prodded by finishing for her.

"Eh?" Ikki blinked in surprise as she turned to Uzume, "How'd you know that?"

"Because," Uzume said as she folded her arms under her breasts, inadvertently drawing attention to them. "I'm a Sekirei too." She then extended her arm as if to shake hands. "Number Ten. Uzume. Nice ta meet you."

"You're a Sekirei?" Ikki asked. She then pointed to Miya ,"Is she one too?"

"Oh, no" Miya said as she brought one hand to cover her mouth to giggle and the other raised hand to wave it away. "I have seen many though."

"Ah, I see, I see." Ikki nodded in understanding before she whipped back to Uzume. A shocked expression on her face as she pointed to Uzume, "What the crap, you're a Sekirei too?!?"

Uzume's eyebrow ticked. "Yes, I am."

'Oh my goooooooooooooood!!' Ikki thought as panic began to take over her mind. 'What the crap, what the heck, what the frag do I do?!? I never expected my Ashikabi to already have himself a Sekirei! WhatdoIdoWhatdoIdoWhatdoIdoWhatdoIdoWhatdoIdoWhatdoIdoWhatdoIdoWhatdoIdoWhatdoIdoWhatdoIdoWhatdoIdoW
hatdoIdo?!'


"Are... are you ok?" Uzume asked as she noted Ikki's stunned expression.

"Uzume," Ichigo suddenly said as he stood up.

"Ichigo?" she asked as she turned to her Ashikabi.

He turned to her and briefly glanced away before turning back to her, that familiar scowl once again gracing his face. "Got a moment?"

"Of course," she replied, blinking in confusion. He nodded and began to walk. As he passed by her he took her hand and began to lead her out of the room with him. "Ah! Ichigo what-?" was all she got out as the door closed behind them

Miya took a brief glance at the door before letting out a small sigh, "Oh dear." Turning, she found Ikki still pointing at where Uzume had been standing, a look of pure shock still on her face and she sighed again. "Things really are about to get lively around here again aren't they?" she asked herself as she walked towards Ikki.

=========

Ichigo sighed as he closed the door behind him, the soft click announcing that it had shut completely. Slowly, he let go of Uzume's hand and tightened his fist. He then looked up at her and noted that she was looking back at him with an expression he couldn't quite place.

"How?" He said after a moment.

"I can..." she sighed. "I can explain this Ichigo."

"So you knew?" he asked, not quite accusing. His face betrayed none of chaotic emotions that were sweeping through his body right now.

"I am yours. Body, mind, soul. I belong to you, forever. I exist to love you, until I die."

His eye twitched at the memory. Was it to be like that for this girl too? That she would 'love' him unconditionally? How the hell was he supposed to react to that!? How could he take another woman when he had one already?! He had something with Uzume... What he had with Uzume... All that... Did... did they really have something he wondered as his mind furiously worked overtime. If the Sekirei are supposed to love someone due to just winging them... Was it the same as 'real' love? The assumption awashed his body with a chill that could not be ignored.

With that surge emotion finally broke through his facade with an unbidden release of harsh breath as he turned away and averted his furrowed eyes.

'What the hell do I know about love?' He thought bitterly. What they had was real, wasn't it? His own growing feelings for this girl...

"Yeah I... I knew about this Ichigo," Uzume sighed again as she raked a hand through her hair. "I wanted to warn you about this it's just... just there was never really a good time to tell you about being able to wing multiple Sekireis."

"Never a good time?" He repeated. "When was there a 'never a good time'? I only visited every weekend for three months" He stated, some anger finally coming through.

"Yes and it's not exactly the best conversation starter when you're getting familiar with someone." Uzume replied. "The truth is that it's not that common for an Ashikabi to have more than one sekirei."

"You could have warned me," he stated as both his fists tightened. "At least that way I could have been more careful. At least that way... Damn it, Uzume, I..." He trailed off as he looked away and found himself unsure of what he wanted to say. 'It has to be real' his mind told him. 'If it wasn't I wouldn't care. It has to be...'

Again his mind found himself thinking of the other girl and how she looked over her fallen friend before anything else after her winging. That act alone spoke volumes of her character to him. That girl didn't deserve this. She didn't deserve to be caught up in the middle of his and Uzume's relationship. 'But she loves you' his mind reminded him with the viciousness of his lost inner hollow. He grit his teeth again as his emotions were brought back to square one of his anxiety on what his relationship was.

"I'm sorry Ichigo, I really am." Uzume said, giving her Ashikabi an apologetic look. "I... I screwed up here ok? I really did. I mean... it's not like I'm happy with this either, y'know? But... but... damn it I hate to say this but... what's done is done. And we are gonna have to deal with this together."

Ichigo was silent and Uzume bit her lip before slowly moving toward him and wrapping her arms around-

He stiffened.

She froze as her eyes widened as she felt him go rigid with her arms nearly fully around him. Her eyes began to moisten as she completed the motion and put her head on his chest and felt him relax. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she honestly said and repeated a few more times.

Ichigo took in a breath as he thought about what she said. We'll get through this his mind thought morosely as he thought about the other girl in the room. Looking down he saw the girl holding him and found himself automatically wrapping his arms around her, the simple fact being because he wanted to. We'll get through this he thought again, ignoring his minds thundering questions of how.

"I'm so sorry," He heard her again and thoughts of their time together came to fore. She wasn't stupid but she could be flighty at times around him and he realized she was being truthful about what she said, as frustrating as it was.

He tightened his arms around her. "I know," he said, sounding tired. "I know you are. Now then, Uzume..."

"Yes?" she said as she looked up but noticed he was looking ahead at not at her.

"We're going up to my room, and you're gonna tell me anything else you know that I need to know."

"Yes," she thought as her mind began to think of what to say, anything she might have left out but she was sure that she told him just about everything already.

"Ok, let's..." he trailed off as a faint glow made itself known and faded, not too unlike what he had seen earlier. "What the..." he trailed off again as suddenly the few potted plants burst open as they abruptly grew too big for their containers.

"Gah!" Uzume exclaimed as she suddenly let go of Ichigo and twirled around, confused and wound up, wondering what the hell was going on as she made sure Ichigo was behind her. They both could see the same happening to the flowers and greenery in the yard and both stood still in shock.

And just as suddenly as it began it was over, the plants no longer bulging or growing however they retained their new size.

=========

Minato looked on at the impish little girl next to him as a soft smile graced her face. He blinked, still a little confused at what had just happened. He had been sitting on the engawa, watching Musubi train as he wrapped himself in his blanket, somewhat necessitated by the cool crisp morning air. Kuu had come from the corner of Miya's room somewhat unexpectedly and he was unsure now what to do now that they had rescued her. Do they keep her? If not, who to take her back to? The girl was far too young to be involved in this Plan of MBI's.

Not to mention how would he explain her to Miya...

She had come and sat next to him, gazing out at the backyard and Musubi before she sneezed and her arms folded around herself. Taking that as his cue he removed the blanket and wrapped it around the young girl, just suppressing the need to shiver as the cool air hit him. The effects were immediate as the young girl smiled and pulled the blanket around her. Seeing now that she was now comforted his thoughts turned to the tree that had 'caught' he and Musubi when they literally fell upon Maison Izumo that day and spoke aloud about it.

He didn't know exactly why he said it aloud, but having seen this girl in his dreams and a flash of her from that night when he and Musubi fell into that tree maybe she could shed some light on it. It surprised him that she answered him. She heard him, she had said, his voice calling for help and responded. He smiled in return and called her his lifesaver, and thanked her.

And it was then that she completely caught him off guard. Rising from her seat she put her little arms on his shoulders. Before he could ask what she was doing she softly pleaded. "Please... Please become Kuu's Ashikabi."

And before he could get a word in or register what she wanted she leaned in and kissed him and a soft green light enveloped his world.

Watching her with wide eyes as the green wings of light subsided he yelped and hopped back on his seat when the backyard caught his eye and he gasped. Musubi had stopped in wonder and laughter as greenery and shrubbery exploded in growth and size around her. Her arms were stretched out wide as she now twirled within a storm of flower pedals; the results of Kuu's power.

"Minato-sama! Minato-sama! Look! Look!" she cried with the innocence of a child, much like the one that was now beaming at him.

"Huh" he let out as he shook his head and plucked a leaf that had fallen on Kuu's head and she giggled at him. As he was about to open his mouth he heard footsteps approaching. Turning his head to his right he saw Ichigo and his Sekirei, Uzume, come rushing by before they both stopped to look at him and then Kuu. They had both looked like they were going to say something before Uzume turned her head.

"Wow..." Uzume breathed out and Ichigo turned his head to gape.

'What the hell?' he thought. With the shouji screen wide open he gaped as he saw what happened inside was greatly magnified outside, despite being able to see some of it.

"He-hey" Minato said a bit bashfully, unsure of what else to say.

"H-hi" Uzume responded, still engrossed with the view before stepping off the engawa to look around. Holding her hands out several petals landed in her palms and she looked down at it and shook her head.

"So what happened?" Ichigo asked Minato.

"Um, I... I don't really know" Minato responded. Nothing like this happened when Musubi had been winged. Even though they were indoors in his old apartment there had been no great changes outside when they had left later on.

"Isn't this great?!" Musubi called out, still continuing to twirl before stopping her pirouette to face Minato and Ichigo and then jogged up to them. "This is soooo wonderful Minato-sama. You have two Sekirei now!"

"Sekirei..." Ichigo repeated, blinking as he looked outside again, seeing only Uzume before looking back to Musubi and then Minato and...

Oh yeah, the kid he remembered. He was going to ask about her but then the unexpected scenery took priority. She was small, very young it seemed. Blonde hair that reached down to her legs and wearing a green sleeveless sundress. She was currently gripping Minato's shirt from behind him and trying to make herself seemingly smaller as she looked at him like she wasn't sure what to make of him.

He then looked back outside to see where the Sekirei that had caused this was at. Only seeing Uzume he stuck his head out and looked back and forth, only seeing his girl and the shock of new shrubbery and flowers. He frowned as he wondered where she could be and asked Uzume if there was anyone else out there. Getting a negative he turned to Minato and Musubi and Musubi's smile lit up.

"She's right here," she chirped while looking at the child.

'What?' his mind responded and he blinked a few times. This kid was a Sekirei? No way, that can't be right. This was going to be a tournament, right? Would MBI be such bastards to send a child out to...

-------
"I...I've found you", she breathed out, voice no higher than a whisper.

"Wha-what?" he smartly got out as he looked into her face, seeing her flushed a bit with her eyes slightly open.

"You", she breathed, her right hand moving to rest on his left shoulder. "My Ashikabi", she breathed again as she fully lowered herself onto him.

"Uh", was all he got out as he froze as he felt those two mounds fully press into him as her face reached his and felt his brain short-circuit when her lips met his.

He found himself opening his eyes, and idly wondered why no one mentioned the light show-

------

Ha?

------
Both paused as they saw the position he was in and that the girl had seemingly tripped over the other. "I told you to stay in bed!" Ichigo hissed as loud as he could to not further aggravate the other one below them.

But, the girl in his arms did not seem to listen to him.

In fact, she looked rather glossy eyed.

Now why did this remind him-

-CHU-

His eyes shot open as the girl suddenly lifted herself up and and stole his lips with a gentle kiss. He blinked as a familiar burst of light made itself known, as bright emerald wings burst forth from this girls back, illuminating the room in a green glow.

------

He blinked. And blinked again.

---------
"We're going up to my room, and you're gonna tell me anything else you know".

"Yes", she thought as her mind began to think of what to say, anything she might have left out but she was sure that she told him everything already.

"Ok, let's..." he trailed off as a faint glow made itself known and faded, not too unlike what he had seen earlier. "What the..." he trailed off again as suddenly the few potted plants burst open as they abruptly grew too big for their containers.

-------

His mouth opened and closed as his mind continued to process the information it was giving out and he turned his head to the young girl, ignoring as she seemed to further hide herself. Minato looked up at the younger tenant and wondered if he was ok. He had just been told that the girl was a Sekirei, and it seemed that he kinda felt the same as he did in regards to how young the girl was, but then all of a sudden he paused and became unnervingly silent.

It was then that all confusion and uncertainty left his face as Ichigo's full gaze turned to him with tight lips and a scowl so intense Minato felt his hair begin to stand and his stomach suddenly drop.

"We talk. Now."

=========
 

Wheeljack

Well-Known Member
#73
=========

If Minato had not went to the restroom earlier he knew without a shadow of a doubt he'd had wet himself long before now. If anything, he would love to pass out and wake up from the nightmare that he had stepped into.

If his shirt continued to constrict itself anymore he'd get part of his wish.

"You sick son of a bitch..." Ichigo growled out, both his hands gripping the other boy by his lapels tightly. It was completely lost upon him that he had been in the same position not a few days prior. Both had gone to Ichigo's room, excusing themselves as they left the girls behind him, Ichigo asking Uzume if she could keep them there for a moment. She had blinked at him in confusion before agreeing. Not a few steps into his room he swiftly slammed the door shut and shoved Minato into the door, ensuring that no one would interfere.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?!" He asked as he tightened his grip before loosening it, allowing the other boy to cough a bit and take a few gulps of air before looking fearfully at him. After a morning that completely caught him blindsided and his own doubts on the nature of his relationship with Uzume something relatively simple had been dropped in his lap that he could deal with.

"Do-doing?" Minato asked, utterly terrified at the look in Ichigo's eyes. Why was this happening?

"Are you some sorta sicko? Huh?!"

And then Minato's eyes widened in understanding.

Oh dear sweet merciful God. 'He doesn't think...'

Ichigo saw that Minato had understood and his grip tightened again. "That's right you little shit. You don't have a lot of time to explain yourself before I usher you into hell."

"It's... not...what..."

"I think?" Ichigo finished. "Tell me then, what exactly is it? Not to mention bringing a child into this mess at all!"

"Can...can't br-::gasp::!" Minato gasped for breath as the grip completely loosened and he fell to the floor. He gasped for breath a few more times, his eyes beginning to wet from the pain and lack of air. He then turned his head up so see Ichigo staring down at him, face now unnervingly calm if not for the storm in his eyes promising indescribable pain if he didn't provide an adequate explanation.

Ichigo leaned forward, his face only inches from Minato's terrified one. "You better have a goddamned good explanation for this neighbor," he hissed, furious. "Because if you don't..." he trailed off, leaving the threat hanging in the air.

Terrified, frozen and stuttering Minato responded. "If.. if I don't...?"

"If you dont..." he hissed anew. "Let's just say that the millisecond a pathetic excuse leaves your mouth, you'll be begging me for death. Clear?"

"C-clear!" Minato quickly responded.

"Good," he said. "You've earned the right to keep your life... for now." He flopped down on his bed, his hard brown orbs trained on Minato. "Start talking."

"We-we saved her last night" Minato began. "She, she was in the Arboretum and being hunted", he gulped out.

"By who?"

"By - by other Sekirei. Y-you know, right? A text even went out on that".

Ichigo blinked, his frown fading slightly, "A text? What text?"

Minato then blinked as well, confusion almost replacing his fear. "Y- you know... MBI sent one out to everyone". He would have fumbled for his phone if he wasn't wearing his pajamas.

"I didn't get a text... at least I don't think so," Ichigo grumbled as he pulled out his phone, noting that it had been set to a silent mode. Flipping the device open, his eyes widened at the missed text message blinking in front of him. Popping the message open, his frown just grew all the deeper as he read aloud:

"'Greetings my dear Ashikabis. This it your friendly neighborhood MBI Director with a tidbit of hot news! In the Botanical Gardens, here is a cute little Sekirei waiting for the fortunate Ashikabi to wing her. But be warned! It's first come first serve, winner takes all!'"

Ichigo was silent as he finished, but his face was alive with emotion. His trademark scowl was fixed in place. "Are... are you... fucking... kidding me?!" he snarled out. If Minato had enough strength to go through the door he'd have been pressing against the wall in the hallway by now with the look that Ichigo was giving.

"That... that goddamned... son of a bitch!!" Ichigo growled, ignoring the elder man in the room at this point. The hand that held his phone clenched into a fist, and his phone made crackling noises as it threatened to break under the former shinigami's growing rage. 'These are peoples lives he messing with... and he's acting like it's a goddamned game?!?'

'A game...' he thought again as he turned his head back to Minato, ignoring how the other man flinched at his glare. 'So he got this message and...' "Oh... oh you dirty bastard," Ichigo growled.

"Wh-what?"

"Don't 'what me', you asshole," Ichigo growled as he stood up. Discarding his broken phone, he walked up to Minato slowly. "You tell me about this text message and you honestly expect me to believe you went to 'save' that little girl?"

Minato was already pushed as far back as he could go, and as scared as he was, his mind was working overtime to try to find a way to convince his neighbor that he was telling the truth and not die in the process. "Y-yes." Minato said, trying his best to hold his ground. He was, after all, telling the truth.

"How stupid do you think I am!?" Ichigo asked. "First come, first served and all that!? Why the hell should I believe you went out of your way to save that kid?"

Taking a few breaths Minato grit his teeth and responded, trying to hold back his shivers. "I- I did. Me and another were there. He had two Sekirei himself. But we went in to save her." He shivered again, though not from Ichigo. "A-another Sekirei almost had her". He then remembered what Musubi had told him and swallowed more saliva. "We brought her in last night". He then shook his head slightly. "I just wanted to save her. I didn't know Kuu would do that..."

"Another Sekirei?"

"Huh?" Minato looked up at him again.

"You said another Sekirei almost got her?"

"Y-yes", Minato said, remembering her chilly smile and her taunts.

Ichigo sighed in frustration, "Damnit... this shit is giving me a headache." He paused in an attempt to get his emotions lowered and under control before he continued, "So you beat the Sekirei and swoop off with the kid back here? Am I supposed to believe that?!" Ichigo then asked.

Minato's breathing was still quick but he blinked as he remembered something else and then gulped before frowning. "Y-you're one to talk".

"What do you mean by that?"

"Y-yesterday." He answered.

"However," Seo continued, "the way the system has been set up, anyone with the powers or potential of an ashikabi can wing any Sekirei, whether they want to or not."

His own eyes then narrowed. "Y-you're one to talk, bringing those two in last night. They're Sekirei!" he just about shouted and just managing to resist the urge to clamp his hands to his mouth.

He shook his head mutely, still in a bit of shock at seeing two badly injured girls before him. Why had they not taken them to a hospital? Why hadn't the landlady called the police?

"...whether they want to or not."

"They were hurt really badly too", he said, the memories of their silent forms giving him an odd sense of strength.

"You mean..." Ichigo snorted in realization. "Oh no. No, no, nonono. I didn't do that to them."

"How do I know that?! Your Sekirei, she looks really strong." He bit out, pushing his hands against the wall in an effort to stand. He took a shuddering breath to his nose, instincts screaming to do the opposite of what he was doing. "How do I know that you weren't going to force them?"

"How do you...?" Ichigo balked. "Don't you lump me in with the rest of you guys, understand?! I didn't want this shit dumped in my lap!"

"Neither did I" Minato said. "But... but look how it looks to me in comparison. At least Kuu can walk and make her own decisions". Which the spritely girl had done.

"What are you saying?"

"I... I just wanted to save her. What... what happened down stairs, Kuu did that on her own." He then mustered his courage once more. "'An-anyone with the po-potential with an Ashikabi can wing any Sekirei whether they want to or not'". His own eyes, thought still scared held a bit of accusation.

Ichigo frowned, "And who told you that?"

"The one who helped me save Kuu yesterday", he responded. "Well?" he then prodded.

"Well what?" Ichigo sighed.

"Did you make them your Sekirei? Did you force them?"

Ichigo stared at him in surprise, feeling himself bristle. How dare this snot-nosed little punk think he'd-!

He froze in mid-thought, remembering the kid's words. "Wait...you're tellin' me... that this is happening to other Sekirei? That they're being taken whether they want to or not by people who can?" Minato blinked, caught off guard by his change in demeanor and nodded to him, the look in his eyes conveying how serious he was about that in spite of his fight or flee instincts in effect. "C'mon!" Ichigo barked. "Speak up!"

"Yes."

Ichigo eyed Minato coolly, folding his arms and forcing his face into less harsh features. "You said you were helped by someone, someone that was familiar with how Sekirei worked, right?"

Minato nodded again. "Yes."

"What did he tell you?"

Minato took a breath, eyeing the other an warily. "That anyone with the power of an Ashikabi can take whatever Sekirei they want. If they want to... even if the Sekirei doesn't want it".

Ichigo's frown returned, "Say that again."

"They can still be winged even if they don't want to."

"What? That... that can't be..." He lowered his head, clutching his forehead with one hand and rubbed at it in irritation. "Oh god, who am I kidding? That sick little fuck'll even get kids involved with this mess. Of course something like that'd be ok with that bastard."

Minato was silent as Ichigo as Ichigo continued, feeling the growing anger in his voice. "I don't even know why that'd surprise me. That bastard is letting these Sekirei run around and find people for them to be with and then put them into some random ass fight for his own amusement. Like some real life PokÚmon or something. A bastard like that... a bastard like that doesn't give a shit about anything so long as it amuses him! A bastard like that... who lets his power go to his head like he has.... he's-!"

-CRUNCH-

Minato gulped slightly as the strawberry blond in front of him destroyed his cell phone in a fit of rage. The image alone would be intimidating enough, to say nothing of the cost of a new one. But the fact that he hadn't seemed to noticed... well... it just added to the intimidation.

Ichigo let out a brief yell of frustration before tossing the destroyed phone to the floor in anger. Letting out an irritated breath, his hand clutched his face, hiding a small bitter smile.

For the next minute or so each stayed where they at, not moving as Minato watched Ichigo rub his head with his hand, covering his eyes, a few times but did not change his overall position. He then sighed and broke the ice after another moment.

"Did you"? Minato prodded once more.

Ichigo let out a bitter laugh at that. "Actually one of them kinda forced themself on me."

The look of bitterness and tiredness spoke volumes to Minato and he knew the other man was not lying. "And that's what happened to me too", he said after another moment.

"Ah ha..." Ichigo let out as he removed his hand from his face. "What a fucked up mess this is..."

Minato gave off a sad smile himself. "Yeah, it is, isn't it?" With that, he gingerly started to stand up from where he had been half sitting, half laying on the ground.

"Sorry 'bout before," Ichigo grunted. "It's just... y'know..."

"Ye-yeah..."

"So uh... how long?" Ichigo asked suddenly.

"H-huh?"

"How long've you been involved with this mess?"

"Uh, I met Musubi a couple days before moving here. My landlord had a 'no woman' rule".

"Is that so?" Ichigo asked. "Heh... I've been involved with this mess for three months and you already know more about what's up than me. Think I've been slippin' or somethin'."

"Three months?!"

"Yeah three months," Ichigo shrugged. "Not gonna lie, it's been some weird times." Ichigo sighed as he straightened himself, "Look man, I... uh... we got off on the wrong foot here. And... Um... well... since we're neighbors and all..."

Minato blinked, and then realized what Ichigo was saying and let out a relieved breath. "Thank you."

"No problem," Ichigo nodded. "So.. um... since we're in this fucked up game together man... uh... if you need some help or something I'll..."

Minato smiled and his shoulders sagged, now feeling completely relieved. "Again, thank you."

"Sure thing," Ichigo nodded as he made his way towards the door. "Look, not to be rude man, but you kinda gave me some stuff to process here. And Uzume's probably gonna be up here soon enough so..."

"Yeah..." Minato agreed and stepped to the side so Ichigo could reach the door.

"And hey," Ichigo continued as he grabbed the knob. "At least it can't get any worse than this right?" And with that he opened the door and saw Uzume and Musubi coming around the corner when something below caught his eye. Blinking, he looked down and saw the tiny little Sekirei he had seen earlier looking up at him with... watery eyes? Was she crying?

-HIC-HIC- She sniffled.

He blinked again. What was she hold-

"Don't."

"Don't?"

"DON'T BULLY MY ONIICHAN!"

And before he could register his surprise the thing in her hands, several bits of torn weed suddenly exploded as if it were alive and everything went dark.

=========

A Few Minutes Ago...

Uzume looked at Ichigo and Minato's retreating form, confusion on her face at why her Ashikabi was insistent on talking with him.

"Stay here with the others and don't let them come up yet," he had said as he near dragged away the other ashikabi.

She took in a deep breath through her nose and blew it out, the matter of what had happened not five minutes ago returning to her and causing her stomach to clench. Looking down the young spritely girl identified as a Sekirei was also watching where the boys had left to before she brought a tiny hand to her mouth and concerned look on her face replaced her own confusion. Taking a quick glance outside Musubi was also looking where the two had lead off to, blinking as flower petals continued to dance around her.

"Hey there," she said gently to the young Sekirei and getting her attention as she lowered herself down. "What's your name?"

The young child's eyes widened as she took a step back, uncertain. "K-Kuu is Kuu's name".

"Ah, how cute," Uzume said honestly, happy to have something to take her mind off her current problems. Unbidden she brought a hand up to tussle the girl's hair and giggled at the sight.

After she took her hand back the girl looked back at the direction where the boys had disappeared to. "O-oniichan," she said and sniffled.

"There, there," Uzume had said, trying to calm the girl. "It's ok."

The young girl sniffled once more and was about to say something when they heard someone else approaching and turned.

"Eh? Did he go this way or...?" Muttered Ikki as she came into view, her robe slightly disheveled but showing nothing inappropriate. "Oh hi there!" she chirped as she caught sight of Uzume and Kuu.

"Um, hey" Uzume said, standing up and unsure now what to do. "Where's Miya?" she asked when she noticed the newcomer was by herself.

"Oh she's lookin' over Nanaha-chan," Ikki answered. "She said she needed some quiet to do so, so here I am checkin' Ichigo-sama's place."

"-sama?" Uzume parroted, head tilting.

"Eh heh," Ikki blushed slightly. "Well... I do owe him Nanaha-chan's life and he's my Ashikabi now so..." she paused. "Oh wait, I should call him Ashikabi-sama right? Or maybe Husband?" Her blush deepened at that and she brought her hands to her cheeks, "Oh jeez... no I better just call him Ichigo-sama for now don'tcha think?"

Uzume blinked a few times, processing what her sister Sekirei had stated. "Haaah~?"

Ikki nodded to herself, "Yeah, Ichigo-sama is the best for a man like him. Anyway Uzume right? I'm-" She cut off suddenly her attention pulled to the back yard. "Oh wow, what's that?"

Uzume turned, wondering what -

Oh yeah.

Outside the petals continued to fall as Musubi once again began to twirl around, laughing at the scenery around her. "So pretty..." Ikki muttered in wonderment. She blinked as she noticed Musubi twirling around under the tree, "Hey Uzume, who's that?"

Uzume blinked turning to Ikki, "Who Musubi?"

Ikki frowned, "Musubi huh? So Ichigo-sama has more Sekirei than I thought..."

Uzume shook her head, "No, wait there-"

"That means I've another sister I've yet to meet!" Ikki spoke up suddenly, cutting off her sister sekirei. "'Scuse me a sec, I'll be right back!"

Uzume blinked as Ikki then proceeded to hop towards a pirouetting Musubi. "Hey wait-!" Uzume cried out futily before pausing as the other Sekirei suddenly stopped and shivered as she placed a hand on her back. Uzume sighed as Ikki mumbled something before stretching before and took a few hesitant steps before approaching the other Sekirei a bit more softly. "Well, this might be interesting." At her Side, Kuu blinked up at the elder Sekirei in confusion while continuing to send worried looks up the stairs.

Outside, Ikki cautiously made her way towards the bouncing girl dressed in an outfit that seemed designed to invoke mikos. Almost unconsciously, the injured Sekirei couldn't help but to size up the new girl. She was... healthy to say the least. Cute too. Not as cute as her maybe but... well that wasn't important now.

What was important was making a good impression, this was her new sister after all. She smiled brightly as she tapped Musubi on the shoulder, making the energetic Sekirei halt her pirouetting. "Hi there!"

Musubi turned to her, blinked and smiled. "Hi!" she chirped back, raising her hand.

"Having fun?"

"Yes," she said, nodding.

"That's good, that's good," Ikki nodded folding her arms under her breasts. "It's nice to see my newest sister Sekirei knows how to enjoy herself."

Musubi then paused, blinked, and then brought a finger to her chin and tilted her head. "Sister Sekirei?"

"Of course!" Ikki chirped, unfolding her arms and patting Musubi on her shoulders. "As of this mourning we're Sister Sekirei! Fighting to win this game and protect our beloved Ashikabi!"

Musubi took up a wide stance pose and brought her hands up in the air, making fists. She then brought them down into a determined pose and gave a hard nod. "Yes! We'll give everything for Minato-san!"

"That's Right!" Ikki cried. "We'll train, we'll fight, we'll win, and we'll give Minato-sama all the love he so richly deserves!"

In the house, Uzume watched, her mouth hanging open and weakly held up a hand with her index finger pointed upwards.

"Yes!" Musubi chirped, her eyes burning with determination. "Together we can win this game and be with Minato-san forever and forever!"

"Hahaha!" Ikki laughed confidently. "I can just tell you and I are gonna get along beautifully Musubi-chan!"

"I think you're right Ikki-chan!" Musubi responded. And at that, Ikki let out a long confident laugh.

Pause.

"By the way," Ikki suddenly spoke up. "Who's Minato-sama? Is that Ichigo-sama's last name?"

Musubi turned to blink at her a few times before shaking her head. "Minato-san is Minato-san!"

In the house Uzume had facepalmed, making a few choking noises while Kuu looked upon the others before turning to look at the stairway once more.

"So is that a yes or a no?" Ikki asked. "'Cuz I'm not sure what a Minato-san is."

"Minato is her Ashikabi" Uzume called out, removing her hand from her face. Our Ashikabi is Ichigo Kurosaki".

"Oh!" Ikki nodded in understanding. "So she's not Ichigo-sama's Ashikabi! Thanks sis!"

Pause.

"Wait what?!" Ikki rounded back on Musubi. "You mean you aren't one of Ichigo-sama's Sekirei?!" Musubi had her hands clasped under her chin as she shook her head. "B-B-But I thought this was Ichigo-sama's home!" Ikki cried out. "S-So you're... you're my enemy, Musubi-chan?!"

Musubi brought her index finger up to her chin again for a second before her eyes widened. "Ah!" she shouted like she had made some connection

Uzume, having seen that look before had a strong sense of deja vu before quickly hopping out and thrust her arm out. "Hey, wait! Remember what Miya said!"

"It's too cruel!" Ikki continued, unaware of Uzume's words. "To befriend an enemy in such a matter... it's just so cruel! Is this my fate?! To fight my friends in such a matter?!"

Musubi however deflated. "Uuuu" she moaned dejectedly.

"I know, I know," Ikki nodded, not understanding why Musubi was becoming deflated. "But such is the cruelty of the game my friend. But know this, when we fight I'll give you nothing less than my best! And I expect you to do the same my friend-turned-enemy!"

Musubi's eyes glistened at hearing the challenge. "Yes! Musubi will always give it her best!"

Ikki nodded, extended her hand out towards Musubi, "It's a vow then! Once I'm fully recovered we'll have ourselves a fair and honorable duel that only us Sekirei can have! Agreed my friend-turned-rival?!"

"Yes!" Musubi chirped, taking her hand and shaking it.

Uzume stood several feet away from them and the several from the genkan behind her, mouth still somewhat open at what she just witnessed before closing her eyes and took a deep breath.

And then something else happened as another sound came out.

Both Ikki and Musubi blinked in sync, hands still clasped together as they both turned to find Uzume laughing, her shoulders shaking heavily before slapping her knee. "Oh man" she got out as she then brought her arms to her stomach. "Oh wow, I think I needed that" she said before then turning around. "Right Kuu? Kuu? She looked around before noticing the spritely girl was gone, and what seemed to be a pocket of dirt unearthed near the genkan.

====

Present...

Ichigo sighed though his nose as he tightened his mouth while he sat at the table while his arms rested on the tabletop. Surrounding him were Minato to his right with his newest Sekirei hanging off his right shoulder and Musubi to his right. Uzume was to his left with Ikki next to her as all of them sat stiffly as Miya's lecture continued.

"Is there an issue Kurosaki-san?" Miya asked, immediately zoning in on Ichigo, having heard that sigh.

"Outside of a misunderstanding I don't believe so," Ichigo answered. "Sorry 'bout earlier again," he said turning to Minato.

"I-it's ok really," Minato replied. "Do- don't mention it" he continued, trying his best to not shiver as his eyes were riveted on the landlady.

"Hnn" Kuu shivered next to her, her eyes wide as she stared at the landlady as well.

"Now. I have no idea what transpired in the yard nor what happened to cause the mess in your room, Kurosaki-san" she said, however she stared at Minato at this part. "But finding dirt and leaves and other things that belong outside is too much. I do not think you all want me to repeat what I have already said once before about 'No Violence in Maison Izumo' now, do I?" she said chillingly, the temperature of the room seemingly dropping a few degrees.

About everyone at the table shook their heads, not wanting to anger the landlady further.

Ichigo just sighed through his nose again, irritated. The kid was really something else. She had come in and before he realized it vines burst forth from her hand to ensnare him which left him hanging upside down and bouncing. Shock gave way to irritation and he ended up breaking the vines to a hard landing.

He shook his head at the absurdity at it now. Not even when he-

"Kurosaki-san," said again, putting extra emphasis this time.

"Yes?" Ichigo said before Uzume suddenly grabbed hold of him. "H-Hey!" he shouted, surprised at her sudden movement. Before he could tell her anything he caught her terrified expression. 'Huh?'

He turned to see Minato with the near shame expression with Musubi and Kuu holding on tightly to him.

"HUUUuuUU! HuuuUUUU!" Kuu whined as she buried her face in his shoulder.

He turned to look back at Miya who was staring at him with a tight look on her face, eyes closed.

"What's wrong?" he asked, confused.

Miya's eyebrow only continued to twitch harder.

========
 

Wheeljack

Well-Known Member
#74
========

Elsewhere...

A young man let out a bitter grunt and unceremoniously chugged down his beer, slamming the empty bottle onto the table as he wiped his lips irritably and gave a slight glare. For the thousandth time he cursed at the swill he drank that failed to make him forget about the earlier failed attempt to claim that Sekirei as his own. For the thousandth time he cursed her ability to manage to elude him. He knew it was useless to sit here drowning himself in self-pity and whiskey this early in the day but that was all he felt like doing. Even the heavy metal guitar session he had last night had come close but couldn't vent all his rage.

Junichi Tanigawa was seated in a corner booth in his small pub in lower Teito, in one of the seedier parts of the technological city. Technically, the pub wasn't his, not yet at any rate. It had been opened by his father with some of the huge fortune that he had amassed in his career in the hopes that it would assist his son in possibly preparing him for a future in his organization. At least that's what the old man told Junichi. Both men knew, however, it had been more something to keep him distracted than for any financial or educational reason.

Yet and still, now even this seemed dull and lifeless. Ever since he had heard about 'The Game' nothing could satisfy the lone Tanigawa heir. It was just as well, a man like Junichi needed a hunt, someone or something worth investing his time and effort in. And it was safe to say that the Sekirei game was that. Even without it, he would've held no interest in this place outside of whatever spending money he could get out of the dive.

It was too early for people to start filtering into this bar and there wouldn't be that many even when they did. So Junichi was somewhat surprised to hear the door open and close and the bartender greet someone. Not surprised enough to actually pay attention but enough to open his eyes. Then he saw the reflection in the whisky bottle and his head snapped up.

"Hey Junichi," came the rough, scratchy voice. Junichi grunted slightly despite the man's tone.

"Yagami. Here to tell me you found her?" Junichi asked as he motioned for another glass.

Yagami shook his head at the drink and sat across from Junichi, a small frown on his face. "Not yet, but it's not like she can get too far. Maiko's sweeping the streets for her as we speak."

"Good good," Junichi nodded as he motioned the bartender, an old scarred street fighter, for another round. "The sooner we find the bitch, the sooner we can make up for lost time."

Yagami shook his head as the bartender gave Junichi another bottle, "Y'know Junichi... there're other Sekirei out there. Ya don't need to keep huntin' this one down."

Junichi stared at him for a moment. "I'm-I'm sorry," he began, his voice going a bit deeper and rougher. "I... I don't think I heard you right. Did you tell me what I need and don't need to hunt?"

"N-no, 'course not!" Yagami replied, waving both his hands in a warding motion. "It's just... y'know I... I ain't never seen ya get so... focused on one person is all."

A slow evil smile spread across Junichi's face as he rose his beer bottle to his lips, "There's a reason for everything, Yagami." He paused and took a swig of his beer. Letting out a contented moan, he continued. "I have special plans for this chick. Big and special plans."

"So what'cha got in mind?" Yagami asked.

"That's on a need to know basis," Junichi's smile faded and his hard glare returned. "And you don't need to know. Get it?"

"Got it." Yagami nodded and rolled his eyes..

"Good," Junichi nodded without looking at his companion and took another swig of his beer. "Now get your ass out there and find my girl Yagami. I'll be right behind ya in a sec."

"Right," Yagami nodded in agreement. "I'll see you out there then."

"Later," Junichi replied as Yagami got up from his seat and left. He closed his eyes, hearing the almost-silent movements of the bartender going back to his position and ignoring them. Soon... that Sekirei would be his soon. It was a matter of time before he stole those lips and that girl finally accepted her position beneath him. Oh... the thing he'd do to her to make her accept that fact... after all she had done to him... Junichi smiled in anticipation as a memory stirred, and he recalled the day when he learned of these creatures called Sekirei, and the sweet promise of a super-powered woman bending to his every want and need.

=========

Teito. Late afternoon, Two months ago...

The sound of a shot glass hitting the bar countertop quietly echoed around the nearly empty bar. It was still relatively early in the afternoon and several employees were busy sweeping and mopping the floors or in the middle of restocking the bar and talking amongst themselves.

If Junichi had cared about listening to those around him he would have heard about the grumbling about how cold the weather had been recently but he hadn't. He was currently enjoying the slight buzz that had been building as the shot had warmed his insides as he sat alone. It was snowing again. Nothing major, but still an inconvenient amount was falling down upon the streets of Teito. It was just the right kind of day for a man to be alone with his thoughts or want to be drunk enough to forget them for a while at any rate.

And Junichi was in the mood for the latter.

Junichi felt himself bristle as he remembered how the day started, but was able to keep his composure. The latest girl he had been fooling around with had forgot to mention the little detail of her boyfriend returning from an extended leave that day and he had to deal with some dip who couldn't keep his chick on a leash. Like it was his fault she wanted a real man to mess around with for a spell. Still, she was more trouble than she was worth and it gave him the perfect excuse to drop her like a bad habit.

Meh. He had been getting bored with her anyway.

If his old man had heard about it, all he'd do is give him a stupid look and go about his... 'business'. Junichi snorted as he looked around his father's bar. Even now, the old man was still trying to get him to learn 'responsibility' by having him more involved in his business. Even now, he was pretty much here supposed to be overseeing the place and keeping things in order before opening later. He snorted again, thinking of the few advantages of doing so as he grabbed the bottle and filling his shot glass before downing it post haste.

With that, his thoughts again turned to his current situation. If nothing else, he could hit up a cabaret girl and at least have some company to get good and buzzed with. Of course... that meant no free booze and where was the fun in that? And so, Junichi sat, killing his liver all the more and wishing for something... anything interesting worth doing.

And with that his eyes narrowed as he felt a bit of cold air, a sign that someone had opened the door. He took a deep breath as he closed his eyes and waited to either hear the employees tell whoever it is to leave as the bar isn't open or it to be some other worker who was late. Well, if a worker was late, putting the fear of god into someone would be something to look forward to doing...

Hearing nothing he brought himself out of his fantasy and turned and found the first face to be an old friend of his. A bit tall for the average Japanese, he was wearing jeans and a burgundy jacket and hoody. Shaggy black hair with brown highlights fell from his head and a bit of stubble surrounded his chin. Smiling broadly he smacked his arms, ridding it of some snow and raised an arm in greeting.

"Yo!"

'What the hell is he so happy about?', Junichi mentally muttered as he craned his head to see who else came with him and nearly gasped.

And for the first time that day, Junichi found that he could not think about anything.

She had crimson red hair, and her beauty seemed almost otherworldly. Her slim proportion and features made him think of someone from Europe if Junichi was forced to guess. Her hair came down to her hips, and she pushed a errant strand behind her ear. Her beautiful alabaster skin, which was white as snow from what was not covered, was remarkable. Her green eyes were bright enough to light the dim bar without even trying, and her outfit could not conceal the fullness of her figure despite it's best efforts.

Gorgeous, thatÆs the only way to describe her in one word. ThatÆs the only word you needed to describe her, he mentally reaffirmed as he refilled he glass and took another quick shot to moisten his dry mouth. She was dressed in something that might have been an outfit for a prestigious private school, and was clinging to Yagami's arm as if he was her soul mate.

"Ok man," Junichi said after giving the girl on his arm a long stare. "Who's this and do I need to worry 'bout the cops showin' up here?"

"Cops?" Yagami snorted and gave the girl on his arm an amused smirk. "Heh, check my boy out here. You're so gorgeous that its a crime!"

The girl simply giggled in response, causing the staff to simply groan and roll their eyes at the cheese oozing from Yagami's line. Junichi simply gave his friend a half lidded look, "Ohhh kay, now I know you got her on something, cuz ain't no drug free woman falling for that BS. 'Specially from you."

"Ah! You wound me, Junichi!" Yagami sighed dramatically with a hand at his heart. "And here I was set to introduce you to my new wife!"

"Uh..." Junichi stared askewed at Yagami before then looking back and forth between him and the crimson haired beauty. "Ok, seriously. How drunk am I now?"

"Allow me to introduce myself," The red head spoke up suddenly. She gave Junichi a small bow, and as she rose she gave him a polite smile. "I am Rias, Number-" she pauses suddenly, her hands covering her lips. "Oh dear, I almost said it."

"Oh hoh, that was a close one there babe," Yagami nodded in agreement. "We don't want you-know-who on our heads."

"Um," Junichi began in an irritated tone. "One of you two mind explaining what the fuck's goin' on here? I had a nice buzz going here and you're starting to ruin it."

Yagami chuckled as he leaned in close and put an arm around Junichi's shoulder. Still grinning, he spoke to his friend in a whisper loud enough to still be heard by others. "Bro, I got some news for ya, but you gotta keep it quiet. Life and death kind of thing. Trust me."

Junichi looked at his friend at the corner of his eye and was about to push him off and yell at him for bugging him but there was something in that smile that intrigued him. His eyes turned to Rias and took her in again before looking back at his friend. Standing up Yagami took his arm back and Junichi turned to the employees. "Take an early lunch, and make sure you lock the door on your way out!"

=========

"What."

That was all Junichi could say as he regarded the couple before him. He felt a surge of absolute shock move through him as he regarded the stupid grin on his friend's face. His stomach clenched, whether in unease or in jealousy he could not say. The only thing he *could* acknowledge was that he had to get in on this somehow. If this was legit that was.

"I know, right?" Yagami preened as Rias snuggled into his arm, her eyes closed as she smiled contently by her Ashikabi's side. "I mean I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen my sweet little Rias react in front of me like she did. After I winged her, we've been at it like rabbits man. She's the best girl I've ever had! And she's gonna love me forever no matter what?! It don't get no better than this!"

"Bullshit," Junichi snorted. "It's shocking enough to see a dude like you with a piece like her. But superpowers? Partnership? Who the fuck're you tryin' to kid here Yagami?"

Yagami's grin just grew all the more, "So ya want some proof, dude?"

Junichi nodded, "Yeah, I'd like some proof. Make her fly, or shoot heat rays from her eyes. Hell, have her fire a Kamehameha for all I care. Just give me some proof you ain't blowin' shit outta yer ass."

"As smooth as always," Yagami chucked. He gave a shrug of the shoulder that Rias laid on. "Hey honey, wake up." he said softly.

"Mmmm?" Rias moaned as she began to wake up. "What is it, my love?"

"My friend want us to put on a show for your peoples," Yagami explained. "So, let's put on a show."

"Anything for you My Dearest Yagami," Rias said in a loving tone. It was all Junichi could do to keep from gagging, his morbid curiosity holding his lunch down enough to see what the hell Yagami was going to do.

Rias let go of her Ashikabi's arm and took a seat in his lap, causing Yagami to leer at her slightly. "Anything for me... god you say the sweetest things sometimes Rias." As her arms wrapped around his neck, Yagami gave Junichi a small look. "Better stand back, man. I dunno if what she's about to do's all that safe."

Junichi snorted agan but stood from his seat, crossing his arms as he stood at their side. Yagami nodded at his friend, "Get ready to have your mind blown." That was the only warning Junichi got as Yagami's lips softly met her Ashikabi's.

And it was all Junichi could do to keep his jaw from dropping to the floor.

All he could do was stare as he saw her body had arched backwards away from Yagami, and something like black fire suddenly conversed on a point below the back of her neck and suddenly exploded outward. Many long, ovals of dark flames spread away from her at that point, 'like feathers', he would think later intensified for a moment before disappearing completely.

She tilted her head slightly as they broke the kiss and the flames died out. Rias' smile widened as Yagami tenderly stroked her cheek and she turned to Junichi. "Number Sixty-Seven, Rias," she introduced herself formally.

"Ho-lee shit!" Junichi shouted "What the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck?!?"

Yagami laughed at Junichi's reaction, "I know right?! Ain't my Rias the best?!" He gave her a soft kiss on the cheek. "C'mon babe, show him what you can do!"

"Of course my dear," she replied and extended her arm out towards Junichi, who had to jump back as her hand suddenly was alight with purple fire.

"Oh my fucking god!!" Junichi almost screamed. "Are you serious?! Are you fucking serious right now?!"

Yagami just laughter just grew at Junichi's reactions. "So fucking serious bro," Yagami replied as the hand that was stroking Rias' cheek went down her back. He gave his Sekirei a brief nod, at which the hand ignited in an amethyst flame that was quickly put out as fast as it had been ignited. His free hand clasped her outstretched hand tightly, and she kissed his temple as he looked to Junichi. "Believe me now?" he asked with a cocky grin.

Junichi responded to Yagami's grin with a matching one, "I believe... that you need to hook you best bro up ASAP."

=========

It had been nearly a week after his talk with Yagami and his Sekirei when he saw her.

In the park, alone, there was this girl wearing a white sailor fuku, black thigh high leggings and a long blue head band over her light orange hair, appearing almost pink in the afternoon sky. He could see that she was smaller than him, and rather cute. But what gave her away was this utterly ridiculously massive hammer that was near her, something he was sure no human could lift easily, but had seen her set down with no look of exertion on her part.

Perfect.

Wasting no time he walked up to her, his hands running through his hair to straighten it out some before putting one hand into his coat pocket. Hearing someone approaching the girl stopped what she was doing and her eyes widened slightly.

"Hello. Nice day, isn't it?" He said smoothly with a nice smile.

"Um," she got out, taking a step back before blinking. "Yes, it is," she then answered.

"Everything ok?" He asked, tilting his head as he smiled to look as nonthreatening as possible.

"S-sure. No problems whatsoever," she said before smiling back.

'Nice. Very nice.' he thought. "Say, would you happen to have some free time? I know this restaurant nearby and if you want we could have a bite to eat," he said while thumbing the direction.

Her eyes widened and doubt suddenly filled her eyes. "I don't know..." she said hesitantly.

He then suddenly moved forward to grab her hand and her eyes widened and gave out a small gasp as he clasped it. "C'mon", he said, his smile becoming slightly tight. "I'm sure you'll like it".

"Uh, I, well," she said, completely unsure what to do.

"It'll be no problem at all. It's all on me", he said as he pulled her closer.

Her mouth trembled as she then suddenly pulled back. "I'm sorry, I gotta go" she stuttered to him as to his surprise she hopped back to her hammer and in one swift motion holstered it before turning and jumping off.

"Wow", he found himself muttering before his awe was replaced with a bit of irritation.

So close.

Still...

'That one', he thought as he turned around and walked away, both hands in his pockets, his smile now completely gone. 'That's the one I want.' he knew.

Almost gone, as his mouth twisted slightly.

'They'll be other times.'

=========

Present...

Junichi felt a surge of absolute cold move through him as his memories faded, a snarl playing across his lips as he angrily finished off his bottle of beer quickly. Stupid, he had been so goddamned stupid with how he had been going about this. He tried to treat that damned broad like she was a human. He tried to woo her with sweet words, dinners, gifts, anything and all he got for his trouble was a stuttered apology and the frail looking alien running off.

'That's it,' he growled in thought. 'The kid gloves are now officially off ya damned bitch. It's time you learned your goddamned place.' Clenching his teeth in a growl, he threw the empty bottle hard at the door. The sound of shattered glass reverberating throughout the scarely populated bar.

"Oy!" he barked out. "Get someone to clean that up!" He stood suddenly, the growing buzz fueling his anger and determination. "I'm out."

'Yashima... when I next get a hold of you, I'll make you mine.' Junichi thought to himself, slamming the door closed behind him as he left the bar. 'No more waiting. No more bullshitting around it. You're mine.'

=========

Meanwhile...

The breeze idly played with her strawberry blonde hair as Yashima watched the sun beginning to set. She sat on her hammer, set on the ground with the handle facing straight upward, the massive dual heads large, flat and tall enough to be used in that fashion. The relatively thin handle was to her right, and she leaned against it, her head tilted a little further so her head rested against it as she watched the day coming to its end.

It was a spectacular sight. The colors and the clouds beginning to give the sky a orange colored hue was a breathtaking image to behold yet her thoughts had been centered on other things. She sighed as she brought her legs up and curled them a bit, her now common feelings of loneliness her only companion once again as she looked up to see an airplane in the distance; its dark contrasting against the orange sky as it grew further and smaller into the distance.

After she had left her hotel there had been a rush, a new set of purpose that had filled her after taking the time to review what she seen in her dreams. That man, that orange haired man had to be her Ashikabi. She had heard about the possibility of a Sekirei's mind being able to 'see' the one for them, but up until this morning all she had seen in the past was the weird dream of that strange sideways place, a dream that she had several times, but this was the first time she had seen him in it.

All through the day she had searched, both atop buildings and on the streets, anxious to find him. He had to be easy to spot out. He had been tall with a shock of orange hair that wasn't common for this country. And there had been that look on his face; that disgruntled scowl that had also been nagging at her. She had made her though half the ward, doing her best to keep on move on while watching everyone.

It was so strange at the same time. This energy, this set of need. She knew she wasn't the most outgoing of people, but it had been different today. Well, almost different. But it was a start.

However in the end there had been no sign of him so she sat atop her hammer on the ceiling of a ten story building, deflated and tired. A part of her chided herself, that things couldn't be done in a day. It may take several. The ward she was in, not to mention the entirety of Teito, was just too large to cover in a single day. Several weeks, maybe, but not a day. Yet with this came another familiar feeling.

One that kept her stomach churning when she didn't want it to.

Fear.

He had found her again. She didn't know how, but he had always managed to catch up with her in some way or another over the last two months, and each time she had left him. However, each time seemed to be a little harder than the last in some fashion.

She looked up again at the faint stars that were beginning to make themselves known and remembered that first encounter.

--------------

She had been in a park, somewhat tired after another day of no results and chiding herself for choosing the spots with the least amount of people. She knew she had to get in there and interact more, but each time she tried she found herself pulling away to the rooftops. She sighed, the empty feeling in her stomach picking up again. If only Maki and Ku-

She stopped and stiffened as she heard someone approaching and turned around quickly, her eyes widening as she saw a man walking up to her.

"Hello. Nice day, isn't it?" He had said with a smile..

She took a step back, not quite unsure what to do. 'Calm down, she told herself. Stuff like this is what you're supposed to be doing. "Um, yes, it is," she answered.

"Everything ok?" He asked, tilting his head.

"S-sure. No problems whatsoever," she said before smiling back. See? He just wants to see if you're okay. No biggie.

"Say, would you happen to have some free time? I know this restaurant nearby and if you want we could have a bite to eat," he said while thumbing the direction.

Her eyes widened. 'Is...is he asking me out. Maybe this could be... no, I don't feel anything' she thought as doubt settled in her mind and uncertainty filled her. "I don't know..." she said hesitantly.

He then suddenly moved forward to grab her hand and her eyes widened and gave out a small gasp as he clasped it. "C'mon", he said, his smile becoming slightly tight. "I'm sure you'll like it".

"Uh, I, well," she said, her mind freezing up and now completely unsure what to do.

"It'll be no problem at all. It's all on me", he said as he pulled her closer.

'Is... is he?' her mind panicked as she felt herself almost unable to pull away. Was this how it was supposed to be? Wasn't she supposed to make sure that she felt something? Her eyes widened as if in slow motion she was pulled closer...

A strange place filled her mind, both unclear and clearer than what she had seen before. A blue sky, she was certain, surrounded her and she found herself on what looked to be some kind of glass, almost as if what she was on was some kind of building but... sideways? It was difficult to tell, as she could only make out the scenery up to ten feet around her before it started to get fuzzy.

But that feeling that came with it....

With a sudden bout of strength she pulled back and her mouth trembled as she managed to speak. "I'm sorry, I gotta go" she stuttered to him as she hopped back to her hammer, holstered it before turning and jumping off to put some distance between them.

---------------------------

That scenery that she had seen in her had up to that point hadn't been so strong, and she had first seen it a month prior to that encounter, about three or so months now.

If that image hadn't presented itself to her head, if that strong wave of... something, hadn't filled her, she was certain she might have been winged then and there. Instead, she had run.

She hadn't paid much attention to that encounter, other than how hard her heart had been racing and what had filled her mind and the wrongness she had felt when that man had pulled her to him.

Little did she know that wasn't to be her last encounter with him.

He had found her a few weeks later in a different ward, again trying to calmly woo her, in fact being nicer and not quite as grabby as he had been that first time.

And again she had felt it. That this man wasn't the one for her.

She had tried, politely, to back away and he had let her, waving and smiling to her and she had smiled back as she left.

Only to encounter him again the next week.

And again and again and again over the next two months.

Each time had been different, and each time he slowly seemed to change. In the beginning he had been nice and tried to woo her with food and with gifts at certain times, and each time she had politely refused him. As time wore on he had slowly been getting more curt, sometimes a bit more grabby, wanting her to follow him to where ever he had wanted. Each time had her heart racing and her stomach clenching as she had several times found herself nearly going with him before managing to get away once more.

She did not know how he had been finding her, but it had been coming with a certain regularity that she had actually spent more than several days, almost a week, in a hotel without leaving, scared that she would run into him again.

And then there had been last night... And another last minute get away.

She brought her hands around her knees as she brought her legs up and sat in a fetal position as the orange sky slowly darkened into night, the chilled air almost at a point where she would soon go looking for a motel to stay in.

'Please', her mind pleaded to whatever deity was out there. 'Please let me find him'.

=========

Night-

Ichigo laid his head back on his futon, resting it on his pillow as he looked at the ceiling. Both hands were brought up and resting on his forehead, his elbows held out to the side. It was now a half an hour past dinner time and he felt like being alone at the moment with his thoughts. It had been quite the day and he was still reeling from part of it.

His relationship with Uzume.

The new girl. His new girl.

He snorted.

Thoughts of what to do filled his head with none of them giving a satisfactory answer before turning to his relationship with Uzume and felt his stomach churn a bit. It was odd. If he didn't really think about it it was like things haven't quite changed as she still acted like, well, like she normally does. She did seem to be treading lightly, but overall it was still the same girl that he knew.

The same girl that's in love with him.

The girl that he...

He grit his teeth and scowled at the ceiling.

'Is it only because I'm her Ashikabi?' He wondered. 'Would she act the same if she were human? Or if I weren't her Ashikabi?'

The thought of her being someone else's Sekirei, the thought of her being with another man caused his stomach to clench and his heart feel empty. He groaned as it was not a feeling he was used to.

And now he has another in this mess.

He paused and blinked.

Outside of this morning and when they cleaned up his room he never really spoke to her. Hell, he didn't really even know what the girl was like. And then Miya had come to get her to rest a bit more.

A girl that would love him. Just like Uzume.

He growled as he sat up, pushing the thought away. He had to deal with her sooner or later and figure out exactly what he was gonna do with her. He clicked his teeth at the thought, not liking that it sounded like he owned her.

Which he did.

Gritting his teeth and shoving that as far as he could he stood, deciding that he could at least be courteous and make some proper introduction. Standing, he made his way to the door and down the stairs.

----------

She was upset.

She wasn't hiding it exactly in the way she sat, her hands fidgeting in her lap and her face laced in a rare scowl as she stared at the figure before her. Despite the look on her face, her eyes were unreadable as she gazed at the woman laying unconscious before her. After a moment, she lifted her right arm, looked down at it, and made a fist, thoughtfully.

"I failed you."

She turned her gaze from her fist back to the figure laying on the futon before her, "I failed you Nanaha-chan." she said very softly, her voice almost a whisper. "And here you lay paying the price for my weakness."

Ikki's eyes traced over her sister's prone form, her mind taking in every bandage that she could see. To burn into her mind's eye every bump and bruise that she could find. Each wound both new and old struck her, to the core of her heart. A heart that had felt the sting of failure once before with Narashino, yet manage to pale in comparison to the sight before her now. A stark reminder of how far she had yet to go to achieve her ultimate goal.

"I'm sorry Nanaha-chan," Ikki whispered as she lowered her hand. "I'm so sorry I failed to protect you from... her." She sighed forcing a smile as she watched her for a moment, "But you know... you know it's not all bad news. I... I found him. I found our Ashikabi."

She was silent for a long moment, and then she spoke again. "He's... he's also the one who saved us from that... that Karasuba. He protected us and is nursing us back to health. We owe him our lives, Nanaha-chan. We owe him everything."

She cleared her throat, attempting to remove the lump threatening to form. "He's got a Sekirei already, but it's ok. She helped him save us after all. So I know she's good people. She wouldn't be winged to him if she wasn't right?" She sighed, "So now that I found our Ashikabi it... it's up to... it's up to you to wake up and.... and meet him. I know we can get stronger under his love Nanaha-chan."

She paused, unaware of a tear drop falling down her face. It landed on the floor, quickly accompanied by another and another until her face was streaked with tears, and her eyes shut tightly. She was crying silently, but a moment later, she drew in a breath with a soft sob. "So... so please wake up Nanaha-chan. Wake up so I can... so I can say I'm sorry to you properly. So you can scold me for being an idiot or for being a jerk or for whatever. Wake up so that... so that we can finally be with the one just for us.

Just please... please wake up..."

----------

He lowered his hand.

Ichigo frowned softly, turning away from the door as he replayed the private conversation in his head. He had walked downstairs and to the door, oddly and fortunately unobserved by Uzume and passing by Minato and Kuu who were presently sitting on the genkan watching the night sky. He paid no attention when Kuu had begun to make sounds at him, almost like she was trying to ward him off when he arrived and noticed the door to their convalescent room was unlocked and slightly open. He was about to announce his presence and knock when he hesitated and ended up overhearing what Ikki had to say. He was going to turn and leave, feeling all the while like an intruder listening to something that was none of his business.

And in the end, at least, he found that what he heard wasn't all that bad. And what she mentioned about him. And Uzume.

And now his thoughts turned back to the mess he was in.

Feeling exhausted he turned and walked back to his room.

-----------

"I-Ichigo."

He paused with his hand on the doorknob and his head facing the door and took a breath. He turned his head slightly and saw Uzume at her door, wearing a modest, for her at least, nightgown. He stared at her for moment before giving her a curt nod and he opened his door. Turning once more to his Sekirei he gave her a slight smile he wasn't quite feeling. "Goodnight Uzume," he said before trudging into his room and shutting the door.

Uzume's head lowered slightly, completely unsure what to do next. "Goodnight, Ichigo," she whispered back and turned to close the door to her room and to turn in for the night.

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Wheeljack

Well-Known Member
#75
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A New Day-

"Thank you" Ichigo grunted as he took the bowl from Miya's outstretched hands.

Over the course of the next few seconds this was repeated to the others who had gathered at the table for breakfast. The sounds of other bowls being placed on the table were somewhat muffled as each member looked at their contents and waited for the Landlady to take her seat at the head of the table.

Ichigo himself sat at the table end, Uzume to his left. Kuu was across from him, the spritely girl attempting to intimidate him with a fiercely cute look on her face that went completely over his head. Minato sat next to her at center and Musubi was to his right. Across from Musubi and next to Uzume sat Ikki, who was glancing across to her Ashikabi and looking like she didn't know whether to be miffed at not being next to him or relieved as her heart continued to thunder in her chest at the thought.

With Miya finally sitting they all said as one, "Thank you for the food".

Within seconds the sound of clicking and eating filled the room, however none of the usual chatter seemed to be making itself known.

Minato was quick to notice this as his eyes looked around.

"Is it good, Minato-san?" Musubi asked, staring at him.

"Y-yes, Musubi", he said before hearing a contented sound and turning to see the younger Kuu happily sipping from her bowl.

Well, that's normal he thought.

He then brought his eyes back up to see the other Ashikabi eat his food in silence, a neutral look on his face. This wouldn't be cause for concern had he not noticed Uzume picking sparsely at her food and glancing at Ichigo every so often, to the point of opening her mouth to say something before closing it once again to pick at her plate.

Ichigo continued to eat, not saying anything and unsure of what to say, if anything. As he paused in his chewing to muse he could hear what he thought was a growling sound. Or at least he thought it was a growling sound.

Looking up he caught the kid Sekirei looking like she was trying to do... something.

For her part, Kuu had been happily sipping at her bowl, looking around the table before noticing her oniichan had an odd look on her face and frowned when he had been looking at that scary orange haired boy. She was still mad at him for bullying her oniichan so she glared as best she could and growled at the boy from her seat. Unfortunately for her she did not realize her puffed cheeks and furrowed brows and what could be passed off as a child's growl were far too adorable to be intimidating.

It was then that Ichigo looked up at her and she gasped.

As mad as she was for bullying her oniichan she still found him to be intimidating himself. Orange hair, hard eyes and a scowling face that had her all but turn and run to hide behind her oniichan. So instead she turned to bury her face in Minato's sleeve. Noticing this, the former shinigami let out a simple sigh and continued to dig into the meal.

"So, did everyone have a good rest last night?" Miya asked after a moment of silence.

"Very well," Musubi chirped before turning back to eat and letting off a happy sound.

"Uh, not bad..." Minato said while Kuu took her face out of his sleeve to nod and hum happily at the Landlady. After nodding she glanced back to see Ichigo had turned back to his food and resumed her vigil against him.

"Kurosaki-san?" she pressed slightly.

Ichigo chewed on his food a few more seconds before swallowing. "Fine" he said, glancing at her and shrugging his shoulders a bit before turning back to his food.

Realizing that was all she was going to get from the young man, she turned to Uzume, "And you Uzume?"

With a tight smile she turned to Miya. "Fine. Even slept in a bit too".

"I see," Miya nodded. "And what do you plan to do with all that extra energy today Uzume-san?"

Minato continued to watch the play unfold as Uzume gave her stuttering answer to Miya and flicked his eyes to Ichigo, who had his head titled a bit downwards and was chewing slowly. Again, his face was neutral.

'What is going on?' he wondered. He had only met the guy the other day, outside of when he first moved in but something inside him knew this was unusual. And the way Uzume was acting was setting him off edge a bit himself.

"And You Kurosaki-san?" Miya asked as Uzume finished her answer.

"Mmn?" Ichigo looked up from his meal back to his land lady and shrugged. "I dunno. Look to see if my stuff's started to arrive from home I guess..."

"I see," Miya turned to Minato, "And You Sahashi-san?"

Minato blinked out of his thoughts and turned to Miya. "H-huh?"

"What are your plans for the day?" she repeated.

"Oh, uh..." he got out before lifting his left arm and glancing at his watch. Blinking he turned back to Miya. "I, uh, I gotta be getting off to work soon. I gotta call earlier and they wanted me in early today".

"Oh wonderful," Miya chirped. "So that means I can expect my first payment on time then?"

"O-of course!" Minato confirmed as he began to quickly work through his meal.

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah~" Ikki sighed suddenly bringing every one's attention to the newest tenant of Izumo. "That. Was. Awesome!" She patted her stomach absently as she turned and smiled brightly at the land lady. "Can I just say that I've never had better cooking in all of my like?"

Miya brought a hand to her mouth and closed her eyes. "Why, thank you".

"No thank you Miya-san!" Ikki chirped in response. "I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical after last night that your cooking was this good. I mean, not for nothing, that was really good too. But I was juuuuuuuuuuuust a bit skeptical of the whole deal. I mean, who's that dang good of a cook, right? I figured it was something like a fluke or my taste buds were on the fritz or something. But here I sit, completely corrected. Lighting ain't gotta strike me twice for me to get the picture!" She gave Miya a thumbs-up, "So my complements to the chef that is you, for giving us an awesome meal and proving that even I can be wrong about things once in a while!"

"Why... t-thank you Ikki-chan..." Miya muttered, her eyebrow twitching slightly. "I-if it's not... to much trouble would you like to help me clean the table when we're finished? There are some things I feel as though I should let you know..."

"Of Course Miya-san!" Ikki chirped. "I'll do what I can as appreciation for all you've done for us!"

"G-good," she muttered, smiling tightly.

Ichigo took a look between his landlady and his new Sekirei, and quickly finished off his meal. "I'm finished. Thanks for the meal Miya-san." Miya nodded as Ichigo quickly stood and made his way to his room. Silence reigned as the others finished their meals quickly enough. Soon it was solely Miya, Minato, and Ikki at the table as Uzume got up to take her plate to the kitchen.

The other Ashikabi let out a sigh as he put his chopsticks down, "Thanks for the meal Miya-san. I'd better get ready."

Miya nodded at Minato, "Of course. Have a good day."

Minato nodded as Ikki sighed contently and rose, "Ho-kay Miya-san! So do ya want me to wash or dry for ya?" She paused as she felt Miya's hand on her shoulder suddenly. "Miya-san? she questioned.

"I think..." she began as she smiled pleasantly towards Ikki, "before we get to work we should have that little conversation now. Ok?"

"O-ok..." Ikki nodded, doing her best to ignore the shudder that enveloped her spine at Miya's tone.

For some reason, she felt she was in for another interesting day.

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Minato walked through the streets of Teito briskly, wrapping his arms around himself as he felt the brisk chill in the air despite the unexpected warmth of the past few days. Now mostly awake, the newly minted Ashikabi was trying and failing to get his mind on the upcoming workday as he neared the construction site.

'It's odd,' he thought as he shoved his hands into his jean jacket pockets. 'It's odd but I can't help but feel tense...'

And as odd as it may be, he already knew the answer why he was so anxious. The Ashikabi known as Seo Kaoru. The man who had helped him and Musubi save Kuu-chan the other night. And the second Ashikabi he had met since this game had started after his fellow tenant.

'Is... is he going to be there today?" he thought as he continued to walk distractedly. 'There're still so many things I want to ask him. So many things I want to know... no... have to know about the Sekirei Game. And... and most of all... I still haven't said than you to him for helping us save Kuu-chan.'

He clenched his fists in his pocket as more of last night replayed in his mind. Of Kusano's terror of the one known as Yomi. Of seeing a Sekirei battle up close. And most of all... how Yomi met her end, and Musubi's words.

How a Sekirei who had lost their crest could no longer be with their Ashikabi anymore.

'I'm still in the dark about so many things... so I have to get smarter. I have to get more information... so I can protect Musubi and Kuu-chan as best as I can.' Minato nodded to himself as he finished his silent vow, a new bounce in his step as he made it to the construction site.

Now to find Seo...

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"He quit?!" Minato almost squawked in surprise.

His foreman nodded, shrugging slightly. "He said he was about to be really busy at his other job soon enough and gave me his two weeks just before you got in." The foreman chucked, scratching the back of his neck idly. "It's just as well. He skipped work, took some long ass breaks..."

"Is... Is that so?" Minato asked.

"Yep. But... well... it's not like he was a bad guy or anything. But with how he was approaching working here I was gonna have ta fire him soon enough. Ah well, at least I don't have to deal with his women anymore. That big boobed one of his was a big pain in my ass if ya catch my drift."

"Drift caught sir," Minato muttered. 'Ah great,' he thought. 'Now who knows if I'll ever see him again.'

The foreman smirked as he looked at Minato, "Now as for you kid," he grabbed Minato roughly by the neck, shaking the Ashikabi out of his thoughts. "Is that one big boobed girl from yesterday your woman man?"

Minato's eyes bulged in surprise, "WH-WH-WH-WHA?!? M-M-M-M-M-My girlfriend?!"

"Oh hoh," the foreman grinned deviously. "Look at that blush on ya. If she's ain't yer girl, then she'll be soon right?!"

"I... but that is..." Minato stammered out to his bosses laughter.

And thus was the start to another day in Teito.

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Elsewhere...

"Can someone tell me why we're doing this again?"

Yagami let out a tired sigh as he sat down on a nearby bench, giving Rias an exasperated look. "This again Rias-chan?"

Rias let out an irritated huff as she sat beside her Ashikabi, her arms folded under her breasts. "Yes, 'this again'," she answered. Rias glared meaningfully at her beloved. To Yagami, that was a look he had come to understand as her æYouÆll have to get me something damn good to go along with thisÆ look.

"Why do you demean yourself for that... that... brute when you're so much better when he's not around I just can't fathom for the life of me."

"He's my friend, but it's not like I enjoy the guy's company y'know." 'At least, lately' He sniffed disdainfully. "It's just... if I help him out with this it'll help us out in the end y'know?"

"Help us out with what exactly?" Rias continued to press.

Yagami smiled cheekily, in an 'I know something you don't' matter that Rias found oh so irritating at the moment. "Can't say now."

"Can't say, huh?"

Yagami nodded, "I can't say what it is yet. BUT.... I can tell you it's something we'll need when this whole Sekirei game business is all said and done."

Her pretty brow frowned as she eyed him suspiciously. "Something we'll need huh?"

"Indeed my dear," Yagami nodded as he extended his arm over her shoulders. "Something any married couple would do well to have I think."

Rias blinked at his words, "A... married couple you say?" At his nod, she sighed. "Alllll right then my dear. If it is what I think it is..."

"I have your trust?"

"Always".

"That's all I ask of you, hon" Yagami winked knowingly and gave his Sekirei a brief kiss on the cheek. "Just trust me like I trust you and everything'll work out juuust fine."

Though outwardly smiling, inside he was busy thinking about what she had said. 'He'll help us out. He has too.' he thought with uncertainty. These last two months had really gotten to his friend, moreso than he could ever remember. Junichi could be an ass at times but he usually got what he wanted in the end, but this...

He found himself shaking his head, for the life of him he couldn't remember Junichi so angry that he began pulling down and destroying his dad's merchandise. And it seemed to be getting worse.

'He can't be letting this get to him, its just one girl' he thought as they now walked to the next area that Maiko had a lead on. Then again Junichi had been very still when he had first mentioned Maiko to him but had laughed it off at the time.

"Is everything okay, Yagami-sama?"

"Yeah, jus' thinking" he answered, thoughts of his friends odd behavior still lingering.

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