Bleach Veiled Moon Chapter 5 WIP


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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?"


"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 again as he reached to the door, his eyes narrowed at the doorbell ringing again but longer.

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, still 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 vestiges 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 passerbys going home from work continued to shuffle about the area. All unconsciously content with the peace and serenity the land provided them.

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




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 believe you are correct. Trash is not important after all."

"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 treatment."


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

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

Ichigo glanced up to see the two oddly dressed and oddly 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...?"

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

"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 jumping 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:: OW!" 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 openly 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?"

"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 as she heard Ichigo speak.

"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, tiredly 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 their 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 mean 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 or less 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, mirroring 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 leaning forward as well. "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 a lot 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 responded 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 whisper in stunned amazement.

Both blinked at her.

"I can't believe this..." Ikki continued to whisper. "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 terrorizing and harassing innocent Sekirei are over! I, as your sole judge and prosecutor, find you guilty of dirty tricks and all sorts of not nice stuff! And I sentence you to defeat by 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 lynch 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 slightly but never changed her expression as she kept her eyes locked on Seo's. "Whatever 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 feigned interest, causing her Ashikabi 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, it's 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.

"So, you're here for...?"

"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 the 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 swallowed up into her cleavage 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 as he pulled Uzume a little closer. "Something you want to say, friend?" Seo asked, a smirk growing on his face.

Uzume wasn't quite able to suppress 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 of Izumo and his two Sekirei 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 shaky 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 retorted. "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 ole' 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, who shrugged her shoulders at him.

"Something like that," Seo admitted, a low chuckle coming 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 sarcastic 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, causing the former shinigami to frown at him. "Kinda like you do man."

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 physically," 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 ladle in mid motion ready to be thrown as Seo suddenly went flying out into the courtyard while Ichigo seemed to hover in mid-air and 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 and bounced off to.

"YOU'RE SCARING HER YOU IDIOT!" Ichigo yelled out before wincing and then scowling as he turned and 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 ladle 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 a lesson 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 power of an Ashikabi can wing any Sekirei whether they want to or not"
His head suddenely 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.


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 their way.

"No more sneak attacks, no more cowardly double teams, no more cheating overpowering 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 another interesting surprise Miya."

Miya smiled pleasantly 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 solely 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 unconsciously 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 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?"



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'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 flanked beside him. Ichigo's face was in his neutral 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, whether 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 fact 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 girls 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?"

"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' too much shounen manga. I think he's doing all this for shits and giggles. Hell, I can guarantee you this hit wouldn't be goin' on under Takehito's watch."

Ichigo's frown deepened, 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 chuckled. "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.

Seo nodded and picked the rest up. "He made a lot of contributions 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 demeanor 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, putting 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 disappeared 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.

Unconsciously, he glared at Seo.

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

Ichigo said nothing as his eye twitched, now unsure of 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, beginning 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'?"

"Pretty 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 bit, 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. " 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 hesitated as he struggled to find the proper words.

"Let me ask you, man. 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".

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?" he asked as he wrapped his arms around his Sekirei possessively once more. "If I were you I'd say enjoy it while you can!"

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 seriously.

"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 believe 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."

"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 growled 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 plopped 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. Its 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 darkened, 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 helplessly 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 involved 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, man," he told Ichigo, bringing the former shinigami's eyes back toward him. "I don't know what it is yet exactly but I think you two can actually 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 man. 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," Seo continued as he gave Ichigo a mischievous 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 in-between them melons 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 jeaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

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 overreacting 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 conversation 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.


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 needed 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 unexpectedly 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 hesitantly 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 unusually 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 murmur 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 normal 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.


Minato laid 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 rather than 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 stretched 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 laid 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 thought 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.


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


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And there we go. Cleaned up version is complete and the fixes made.


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Wheeljack said:
can you trim some A's out so we don't have to either scroll to the left or make the font smaller?

Other than that I like the chapter.


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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. - Minato is not a girl.

"Can I just say that I've never had better cooking in all of my like?" - Like is life.

I still haven't said than you to him for helping us save Kuu-chan.' Than is thank.

"And this has been going on?" How long?