Standalone: All In One

Ebook cover for the arc

One-off crossovers, not part of any arc.

The Seconds’ Club

Une and Hawkeye unwind after long days at work. Porn With Insights, I-4, spoilers ep 16 FMA. Timeframe: ep 16 FMA, post ep 23 indeterminate GW.

Character(s): Lisa Hawkeye, Une
Pairing(s): Une/Hawkeye

Lisa Hawkeye, having in one gruelling afternoon re-filed files, re-written schedules, ordered furniture moved and rooms cleaned, and thrown all the left-over knickknacks in a box to ship to Central, made one last stop and tapped on her commander’s door.

“Is there anything else you need before I go?”

The Colonel looked up from his work and smiled. “No, I think we’ve straightened out all the mess that our visitors from Central left behind.” He patted his repossessed desk fondly. “You can go.”

“Yes, Sir.”

She saluted, and the Colonel returned it as casually as he always returned military courtesies to her, as if her adherence to them amused him.

“You’re meeting that friend of yours at the Club tonight?” he asked as she turned to go.

Lisa looked back over her shoulder a bit warily. She and Une had to be careful what they said about each other at home. Continuity contamination could get both of them banned from the Club. “Yes.”

“I would be interested to meet her commander one of these days,” the Colonel mused.

Lisa felt her eyes widen. “That… could be… problematic, Sir,” she choked.

The Colonel’s mouth quirked.

“For whom?” he wondered softly.

Let me count the ways… Lisa boggled, slightly dizzy at the very thought of what might happen. Fortunately the Colonel didn’t seem serious about carrying out his terrifying notion, at least tonight, and he waved her out with a good-natured, if wry, grin.


The Seconds’ Club was dark tonight, only a few soft overhead lights supplementing the candles on each table. A single spotlight did gleam off brass in one corner as Lisa threaded her way toward Une’s waving hand. She nodded toward the instruments as she sat.

“Live entertainment tonight?”

Une made a face. “William is having musical pretentions again, I think.” She slid a drink across to Lisa. “Here. You look like you could use this.”

Lisa took a long swallow, and sagged back in her chair with a sigh. “I did. Thanks, Une.”

“Long day?” her friend asked sympathetically.

Lisa groaned.

“First there was all the upset with Scar trying to kill all the State Alchemists single-handed, pardon the pun, then Mustang-taisa just has to go and scare the life out of me and then he has to bait Edward-kun while we’re trying to get the boy packed off to his mechanic, and the contingent from Central left East headquarters a complete mess, and guess who gets to straighten everything out?”

It all came out in a single breath, and Une patted her arm while she took another slug of her drink.

This, after all, was what the Seconds’ Club was for—so that the people who actually kept affairs running could vent before they want completely around the bend and left their frequently megalomaniac commanders to their own devices. It was the most off-duty public location in existence.

Lisa smiled as she took a more moderate sip. Une looked exceedingly off-duty tonight, in soft knits and a loose pony-tail, an impression only slightly modified by the gun at her hip.

Then Lisa grimaced as she remembered the other thing. “And to top it all off, Mustang-taisa wants to meet Treize-san.”

Une coughed on her drink.

“He what?” she gasped, eyes watering.

The two women shared a long look, and Lisa was sure they were both envisioning the same Machiavellian wildfire running gleefully through two continuums. Probably more.

No,” they stated in firm unison.

Lisa frowned as she watched Une blot her eyes, and squint just a bit. “Did you have a lot of paperwork to read today?” she wanted to know.

Une smiled ruefully. “Is it that obvious?”

“Your eyes always bother you in low light after you’ve been reading for a long time. Tell you what,” Lisa finished her drink, “let’s go back to my place. And put on some real music.”

Une stood with her. “And let you get changed, too,” her friend returned with a touch of sternness. “You came straight here from work, didn’t you?”

“You bet I did,” Lisa said fervently, “before another crisis came up to stop me.”


“So, do we need more to drink, or should I put on tea?” Lisa asked as they hung up their coats and guns.

“Tea would be lovely,” Une decided.

“You pick out music, then.”

By the time Lisa had changed into her favorite old tee-shirt and drawstring pants the kettle was whistling and she brought it, with mugs and the tea basket, out to the living room.

Une had put on her favorite string quartet from Lisa’s collection and was lounging on the couch with her eyes closed.

Lisa set her peppermint and Une’s favorite blackberry to steep and pulled up a few of her floor cushions to the other side of the table.

“So, what did he do to scare you so badly today?” Une asked, opening one eye.

Lisa shivered.

“Gran found one of the deserters. It was a huge mess, but in the end Bradley’s people took the man into custody. Roy… he decided to go to Bradley and admit that he’d known all along where Marco was and hadn’t said. I think he did it to convince Bradley that he really is loyal, just didn’t trust Gran. Or maybe it was for one-upsmanship, to say he could get information Bradley couldn’t. Maybe it was just to force some resolution so he wouldn’t have to keep watching over his shoulder for what Bradley would do if he found out.” She laughed, pressing a hand over her eyes. “Knowing him it was probably all of those and a few I haven’t thought of. But, Une, he invited, he nearly provoked, Bradley to punish him for what could be seen as treason! He said it was the coin he had to use, but… If Bradley had finally decided he was too dangerous, decided he really was disloyal…”

Une got up and came around to sit behind Lisa, arms around her waist. “Ssh, now. It’s all right, Lisa, it didn’t happen.”

Lisa leaned back against her friend with a shuddering sigh. “I just hate it when there’s nothing I can do to protect him.”

“I know,” Une whispered against her hair, rocking her gently.

“I would give my life for him, Une, but he takes so much on himself trying to protect us. Trying to make things better.” Lisa was silent a moment before bursting out, “And I love Gracia, but sometimes I wish Hughes were still… what he used to be to Roy. Because God knows he won’t take that kind of comfort from anyone else.”

“Would you offer it, if he would?” Une asked.

It wasn’t a new question between them, and the answer hadn’t changed in the years they’d known each other, but Une asked it again every so often. Lisa turned in her arms, curling up against her.

“Not me. I’m not sure I could take his attitude in bed. And I am sure it would affect how we worked together; it would be incredibly unprofessional.”

“You can say that again,” Une muttered. “Treize-san is such a horrible tease when the mood takes him. If I never have to look another bottle of bath oil in the face again it will be too soon.”

Lisa chuckled, remember that story very well. Une’s fingers combed her hair, lingering over her hair clip, a silent question in their personal body language.

Speaking of that kind of comfort. And I so need some after today. Lisa reached up and undid the clip, laying it on the table. Une made a pleased sound and threaded one hand through the loose strands. The other set her own hair-tie on the table next to Lisa’s clip.

Lisa stretched against Une, pushing her back onto the pillows. Une rolled them over until her weight settled, comfortably, over Lisa, and Lisa could see her smile. She raised a hand to trace the strong, soft lips with her fingertips. Une captured one between her teeth, and Lisa laughed. When they made love Une reminded her of a great cat. A leopard or jaguar perhaps. Playful, powerful, sleek, grace given form and made soft to the touch.

She stretched again, sighing, as Une ran her hands up under Lisa’s shirt, over her stomach, pausing as they touched her breasts.

“You changed out of more than I thought,” Une observed.

Lisa gave her a slow smile through lowered lashes. “Not objecting, are you?”

“I’ve been called crazy, but never that crazy,” Une murmured against Lisa’s mouth.

Their lips barely brushed, tongues seeking a way past each other, dueling playfully until Lisa laughed again and Une kissed her hard. Une’s fingers stroked the curve of her breast so lightly it almost tickled, and Lisa moved into her touch, paused to pull her shirt off, pressed against Une again.

“Have I mentioned lately how much I love the fact that you’re not shy?” Une asked, running her tongue along Lisa’s collarbone.

“Mmmm. How lately?” Lisa sighed.

And then she forgot the question as Une closed her mouth over Lisa’s nipple and sucked slowly. A complex shiver of heat wound down Lisa’s body.

Une drew back and an odd clunking noise made Lisa open her eyes in time to see Une take a sip of tea from the still-waiting mugs. She set it down beside them, swallowed, and gave Lisa a tiny grin.

Lisa blinked.

And then Une’s mouth found her breast again, shockingly hot from the steaming tea. Lisa arched up, hands closing sharply on Une’s shoulders.

“Une…” she breathed, “oh…”

Une’s hand stroked down her spine, as Une’s tongue started to outline her ribs, one by one. Lisa hardly noticed when Une tugged her pants loose and slid them off, but did notice that Une’s own clothing was getting in the way. She wanted to feel Une’s skin.

All clothing dispensed with, Lisa had to pause a moment for appreciation. The movement of Une’s sleek muscles never failed to entrance her. As Une settled over her again she let her hands catalogue the smooth planes of Une’s back, the strong curve of her rear, let them sweep back up her sides, thumbs just brushing the heavy softness of her breasts.

Une’s teeth closed delicately on Lisa’s ear before she whispered, “May I?” Her hand stroked Lisa’s hip.

Lisa closed her arms tight around Une for a moment.

“Yes.”

Une slid down her body, moving her legs apart. She nibbled down the inside of Lisa’s thigh as her fingers brushed lightly between Lisa’s legs, sliding against her. Lisa sighed, muscles tightening low in her stomach. She moaned as Une’s tongue replaced her fingers.

Drew back.

Returned steaming hot again, and Lisa lost her voice for a moment as Une’s tongue stroked long and slow and hot against her. The overwhelming, sliding heat spread out to meet Une’s palm massaging her stomach, undoing the tightness even as the soft, wet stroking wound pleasure through her until she thought she would snap from it.

Heat again.

Lisa moaned low in her throat, feeling her body open out, straining outward against the stroke of Une’s tongue until everything recoiled and Lisa was caught up in long waves of burning, drowning sensation.

Her breath returned to her slowly.

“That was… pretty incredible,” she whispered against Une’s shoulder.

“I had hoped it might be,” Une purred back. “Though it’s a shame to dilute the taste of you. You taste like the open ocean.”

Lisa smiled and kissed Une deeply, pressing her back against the cushions. She traced Une’s lips with the tip of her tongue as she slid a hand down Une’s body, pressing between her legs which Une parted readily. She rubbed a fingertip lightly against the slick wetness there, and Une tossed her head back.

“Lisa…” she sighed, reaching up.

Lisa kissed her again, winding her tongue around Une’s, as she slid her fingers slowly into the heat of Une’s body, swallowing Une’s long moan into their kiss. Une rocked up to meet the thrust of Lisa’s fingers, faster, asking for more, and Lisa twisted her hand gently, spreading her fingers against the grip of Une’s body, plunging down faster, harder, until Une arched, clenched, over and over.

Lisa held Une as she settled, shivering slightly from her release, and waited until her bittersweet brown eyes opened.

Une smiled and pulled Lisa down so they could lie nestled against each other.

“Your peppermint is probably undrinkable by now,” she remarked, drowsily.

“I can make more. Later.” Lisa rubbed her cheek against Une’s shoulder. Une stroked the back of her neck.

“You know,” Lisa added after a moment, voice thoughtful, “maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing for Roy and Treize to meet. They might just be so taken up with trying to get the better of each other that they wouldn’t bother with the rest of the world. And if they get along half as well as we do, well, maybe Treize could actually get Roy to unwind a little.”

“If anyone could…” Une agreed.

A tiny smile curved Lisa’s lips. “He’d probably get a bit of a surprise if he did of course…”

A wicked light gleamed in both women’s eyes as they looked at each other for a long moment before they broke down giggling in each other’s arms.

Epilogue

Treize Kushurenada took a sip of his drink and shook his head at his companion. “That really wasn’t a very nice thing to do, Roy.”

Roy slanted a sideways look at him. “As if you’re one to talk. Besides,” he added, “she needed something light to distract her after she had to stand and watch me put my head in the lion’s mouth. You know what they’re like about that kind of thing.”

Roy watched the blue eyes go slightly distant.

“Yes,” Treize admitted softly, “I know. What are you going to do when she finds out, though?”

Roy examined his glass.

“Duck quickly, I suppose. Or offer another distraction. I’m sure something will come to me.”

He caught Treize’s eye and they shared a nearly identical smirk across the table.

End


Branch: *perfectly calm* That was not a suggestion for a sequel. You are not suggesting that I let the two of you try to out-sultry each other on paper. It would be a fire hazard.

Treize: To be sure not, Madam! You’ve already heaped such unlooked for treasure upon me, I would never so presume.

Roy: Indeed.

Branch: *eyes characters mistrustfully*

Roy: *slow grin* Whether or not your write down what we’re doing is entirely up to you, Madam.

Branch: *hand over eyes*


Wild

Pet Shop of Horrors crossover. While visiting the US, some of the tennis boys come across an unusual pet shop. This evolves, as such things do, into some strange situations for a few of them. Drama, I-2, Future PoT anime continuity, middling PSoH manga continuity

Ryouma strolled down the narrow street, trying not very hard to more or less keep an eye on most of his teammates. It helped that he’d expected for, weeks, to be doing this. He’d been roped into playing tour guide the last time it was the US’s turn to host the Kantou vs. West Coast competition, too, so he’d been ready for it this time and only put up a token protest.

“Hey, Echizen!” Momo’s hand emerged from the crowd and snagged Ryouma’s arm, dragging him in front of a window display. “What are all these?”

“How should I know?”

…though he did spare a few moments to wish that the regular teams of the chosen players hadn’t all managed to come watch. He might have gotten out of this altogether, if they hadn’t. The only player from his temporary team who was along today, and not one of Seigaku, was Yukimura-san. Everyone else had split up like a handful of same-pole magnets as soon as the closing ceremonies were done. Tachibana-san was with his own team today; Sanada seemed to be hiding out in his hotel room; and Ryouma hadn’t asked where Atobe was going. He did wonder why they all seemed so eager to get some distance again. After all, it wasn’t like the coaches had done anything really cruel with the lineup this year.

Well, not to them, anyway. Pairing Tachibana-san and Yukimura-san for Doubles One had turned out to be pretty cruel to the other team. Ryouma didn’t think he’d ever seen a match played so… fiercely.

“This is a busy part of the city, isn’t it?” Fuji-senpai asked, appearing beside him. “And such a varied crowd! Did you ever come here to watch the people?”

“No.”

Then again, he’d probably have been stuck anyway, Ryouma decided, watching Fuji-senpai slip through the clumps of people. If nothing else, Fuji-senpai would have latched onto him for a good audience to act all nonchalant in front of. Ryouma had been fairly impressed that Sanada managed to keep Fuji-senpai serious all through their match, but he’d known it wouldn’t be permanent. Fuji-senpai liked to play around too much. On the bright side, at least Inui-senpai had carried Kaidou off to the Natural History Museum to look at bones, and Kikumaru-senpai had been dragged away by Mukahi and Oshitari-san.

He hadn’t asked where they were headed, either.

Ryouma leaned against a shady bit of wall, hands tucked in his pockets, and relaxed while his teammates darted back and forth across the street, dragging this person or that to be shown the newest interesting shop. Having repelled the latest attempt at this, Tezuka-san leaned beside him.

“Good choice of location,” he commented.

Ryouma grinned at his captain. “I thought so.”

If anyplace could hold the interest of his senpai when they were determined to play tourist, he’d figured Chinatown would be it. Something was always happening.

“Risi, not that door!” a faint voice exclaimed. A few doors down, a bright bird with a long tail flitted into open air and nearly crashed into Yukimura-san. A quick snatch captured it, and he held it gently while it cheeped in protest.

“Hush, now,” Yukimura-san told it, petting the small head with a fingertip. “I don’t think the owner would like it if I aid and abet your escape.” The bird eyed him for a long moment before it settled down in his hands with a coo and a ruffle of feathers.

“Well, at least she didn’t go far.” A young man in formal clothes emerged from the shop doors. “Although,” he added, in Japanese, tipping his head, “I can’t say I’m surprised she likes you.”

“Really?” Yukimura-san’s eyes narrowed a little, and his smile sharpened.

Ryouma wondered for a second whether they knew each other or something. Yukimura-san was usually impenetrably charming with strangers. He drifted toward them. Actually, everyone was gathering back around them.

“What a beautiful bird,” Oishi-senpai said, softly.

The man smiled. “She’s a very rare breed; the shop specializes in exotic pets. Would you care to come in and look?” He ushered them all inside, and accepted the bird back from Yukimura-san. “Now, are you going to behave?” he asked it. The bird cheeped and bobbed a few times, and he nodded. “Good.” He set it on an open perch, where it settled down and started to preen its trailing tail feathers.

“Is it a songbird?” Fuji-senpai asked, coming to stand beside him.

“Oh, yes,” the man answered, low voiced. “She sings at dawn.” His smile looked very strange for a moment, and Fuji-senpai gave him a sidelong glance.

Ryouma observed that, while most everyone else was fanning out to make impressed noises over the animals, Fuji-senpai seemed more entertained by the proprietor.

“Dottybacks!” Oishi-senpai exclaimed from the cluster of aquariums one corner. “And is that one… a Cypho?” he looked over his shoulder at their host, wide-eyed. “How do you keep this many of them alive when they can see each other?”

The owner perked up. “Ah, you’re familiar with the breed, then?”

“I would love to put together a coral tank, and maybe even keep a breeding pair of these.” Oishi-senpai touched a finger to the corner of the tank, looking longingly at the tiny fish.

“Wow,” Momo whispered, peering into the tanks, “look at those colors.”

“But they’re so aggressive,” Oishi continued. “They’d take a lot of attention to make sure the young didn’t all kill each other off. Not to mention they’re worse escape artists than that bird.” He made a deprecating face, and turned away from the tanks with a last, lingering look.

“Most fish owners simply take a certain percentage of loss for granted,” the owner said in a very neutral voice.

“That’s irresponsible,” Oishi-senpai frowned. “Of course they can’t be controlled completely, they’re living animals after all. But when we take them out of the wild, we have a duty to do our best for them.”

The owner gave him a long, measuring look and smiled slowly. He reached for pen and paper, and wrote something out quickly and neatly. “This is our address. If you think you might be interested in some of our animals, there are a few trans-Pacific shippers that I trust. Just let me know.”

Oishi-senpai glanced around at the shop full of cheeping, growling, gurgling animals, at the sheet of paper and back at the owner, looking a bit dazed. “Thank you. I’ll keep it in mind.”

“You do seem to have a talent for keeping the peace between your tenants,” Yukimura-san noted, looking down at a racoon sprawled asleep on top of a small bear, “Mr…”

“D,” the owner supplied.

“Of course.” Yukimura-san smiled. “This place has a very relaxing atmosphere.” He turned. “Don’t you think so, Tezuka?”

Tezuka-san was not, naturally, oo-ing and ah-ing. He was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed and his eyes closed. “Very,” he agreed, without looking up.

Ryouma blinked. Tezuka-san did actually sound relaxed. Fuji-senpai stopped beside their captain and asked something, softly. Tezuka-san leaned his head back against the wall and shrugged one shoulder. Fuji-senpai abruptly left off his curious examination of D and focused on Tezuka-san. Yukimura-san was looking very amused for some reason.

“The incense helps with that,” D answered, drawing Yukimura-san’s eyes back to him. “I blend it myself. That way I can always send a packet with the more sensitive animals, to give them something familiar while they settle into a new place.”

Ryouma was really starting to wonder if he was missing something, because Yukimura-san was looking at D with wide eyes. “Send it with them?” he repeated, still staring.

“Oh, yes. It’s very helpful.” D smiled, and for one second it was sharp as a knife. And then he was looking cheerful again.

Yukimura-san gave him a tilted return smile, and his eyes glinted. “Indeed.”

“So, who’s up for dinner?” Ryouma put in. He figured hunger was probably making him lightheaded. The conversation would surely make more sense after he’d eaten.

A chorus of agreement answered him, Momo loudest of course. D recommended a restaurant down the street and waved them goodbye at his doors.

“Do feel free to stop in again, if you’d like,” he called. “Any time.”


D closed the doors after his visitors. “Well! That was something you don’t see every day.” He turned toward the back. “T-chan, you can come out now.”

Tetsu shouldered through one of the curtains, grumbling. “Why couldn’t I be out here?! What if one of them had gone nuts? Worse, what if one of them decided he liked you?”

D smiled indulgently at Tetsu’s ferocious glare. “They were both wild, T-chan. Neither of them was likely to stay here.”

“Yeah?” Tetsu bristled. “That tiger sure looked like he was thinking about it.”

“Actually,” D sighed, “I hope he comes again before he goes home. For his own sake.”

Tetsu snorted, cynically. “And because you want to grill him about how he’s managing to pass.”

D chuckled. “All right, that too.”


Kunimitsu walked down streets without really looking where he was going. He knew quite well that it was dangerous to wander a strange city alone, at night, but right now he was too agitated to care. In fact, for the first time in a very long time, he was almost hoping for the appearance of some lowlife who would give him an excuse to set aside his self control.

He scolded himself for the thought, but his heart wasn’t in it.

Today had been more stressful than usual, and Yukimura’s sense of humor hadn’t helped. Who would have thought that they’d find someone who recognized them while out playing tourist? He’d spent the remainder of the day torn between the relief of knowing there was someone he might talk to, if he chose, who would understand, and the reflex terror that someone knew what he was.

A familiar sign caught his eye, and he stopped short on the sidewalk. Count D’s Pet Shop. Kunimitsu snorted, silently. It seemed his instincts had had a destination in mind after all. Now, if he could just decide whether that was a good thing or not.


About to lock the doors, a faint sound caught D’s ear. A chopped off rustle, very much like someone standing outside the doors and wondering whether he should approach or not. D smiled, and if there was as much darkness as sympathy in the expression, well, his visitor couldn’t see him yet.

“Welcome to Count D’s Pet Shop,” he said, more softly than he would have for a human. “Please, come in.” He opened the doors to meet the very level gaze of the young man outside, and his smile turned more cheery. “Would you care for some tea?”

Tezuka-kun’s mouth tightened. “Thank you.” He didn’t sound grateful at all, but he did stalk inside. D stifled a grin, and closed the doors behind him before making a comforting and domestic fuss with the tea set.

“So,” he said, as they sipped, “if I gathered correctly, you and the other young men here this afternoon play tennis?”

Tezuka-kun nodded, gazing into his tea.

“A useful outlet for competitiveness,” D mused.

Tezuka-kun gave him a mildly exasperated look. D decided that one of his friends must have a habit of speaking obliquely, too. Very well, then, he would be a bit more direct.

“It must be very stressful, living in a city, among such crowds, when your instincts call for space,” he suggested.

“There are adjustments that have to be made,” his guest agreed, sitting back. D nodded. The scent of the shop was starting to relax Tezuka-kun again.

“Adjustment, adaptation,” D nibbled a cookie. “They’re the true wonders of the natural world. That which adapts lives. And animals are capable of the most amazing feats, really. Changing from rural to urban habitats; from being carnivores to being omnivores.” He looked back up into the opaque brown eyes across the table. “From a range that consists of land to one that consists of people.”

Tezuka-kun’s eyes narrowed, and topaz flashed in them for a breath. Another observer might have thought it was only the lamplight.

“Yes, I thought that might be it.” D sipped his tea. “Those others who were with you, they are your team?”

“Yes,” Tezuka-kun said, and an edge of vibrato had entered the deep voice. He was tense again, coiled to move.

“I make no claim on them,” D assured him, softly.

Tezuka-kun took a deep breath and sat back again, passing a hand over his forehead. “My apologies,” he said, at last. D waved this off.

“It’s only in your nature. Actually,” his mouth quirked, remembering, “I was surprised that you and Yukimura-kun dealt so peacefully with each other, seeing that he was in the middle of your territory.”

A shrug answered him. “He has his territory, and I have mine; we don’t interfere with each other that way.” Tezuka-kun’s mouth twisted. “This week of being on the same team hasn’t been especially easy,” he admitted.

D was fascinated. “And it’s all subsumed into this game. Territory and challenge, and all. Truly an amazing adaptation.”

Tezuka-kun looked away, abruptly. “Maybe.”

“Is there a problem?” D asked quietly, not pressing.

Tezuka-kun was silent for a long moment. “In school, there are times I can’t properly mark or defend my territory. And after this year I will have to find another. As you said—stressful.”

D considered this. No wonder Tezuka-kun was tense. His kind were not terribly social animals, and while he could ameliorate that a little by considering some humans his territory, humans didn’t hold still the way landscape did. Stressful, indeed. Still, he thought Tezuka-kun might be overestimating his trouble; not uncommon in the young of any species.

“Surely your territory won’t be entirely broken, even if you part ways somewhat,” D pointed out. “That nice young man, Oishi-kun will never abandon you, I’m certain. And the quiet young man who smiled so much. Not to mention,” D’s mouth quirked, “the one who was rolling his eyes at everyone else.”

That made Tezuka-kun look thoughtful. “Oishi and Fuji I might be able to keep, I suppose,” he said at last. “Echizen, though, is almost ready to go looking for his own territory. I wouldn’t do either of us any favors by trying to stop him.”

D raised his brows. Interesting. It sounded as though Tezuka-kun regarded Echizen less as part of his territory and more as one of his own kind. Well, that had no bearing on the situation right now. “You should relax for a while, Tezuka-kun.”

The look he got this time was completely exasperated. “In the middle of a city? Where?”

“I’ll show you.” D rose, and beckoned his guest through the door to the back.

A corner of Tezuka-kun’s mouth twitched as they walked down the long halls, but he didn’t bother asking how it was possible. His eyes did widen a bit when D finally opened a door and they stepped through into a cool, rustling forest. D set down the censer he had picked up, and settled on a patch of grass next to it. D saw Tezuka-kun take a deep, deep breath of the breeze, and laughed gently as longing crossed his face. “Run and hunt here as long as you like,” he said. “I’ll stay with you; follow my scent to come back to the door, here, when you’re ready.” He had to take his own breath in at the burning, wild desire in Tezuka-kun’s eyes when they met his. Brown lightened to topaz, and Tezuka-kun turned toward the trees, and in a few steps he was bounding on four velvet paws.

D smiled as the jagged stripes in Tezuka-kun’s fur blended into the forest. He had rarely been thanked so… thoroughly. He leaned back and inhaled deeply again, waiting for the scent of blood on the breeze.


Ryouma stalked down the streets that he hadn’t necessarily shown his senpai during the day. He’d been restless after they all got back to the hotel. Not the only one, either. Tezuka-san and Fuji-senpai had both gone out, too. A day like this one should have left them all tired enough to sleep, but it looked like not. Ryouma felt a little wound up, actually. Not dissatisfied with the recent games, but as if he was ready for another right now. He’d considered prodding one of the others into a match in the hotel ballroom, but when he’d mentioned the idea he’d gotten a vehement veto from Oishi-senpai. So, walking it was. He didn’t pay too much attention to where he was going, besides making sure to follow lit and crowded streets.

He didn’t notice Fuji-senpai until they nearly ran into each other.

“Echizen,” Fuji-senpai smiled. “Revisiting today’s sights?”

Ryouma blinked at him, and then at their surroundings. A familiar sign caught his eye. Count D’s Pet Shop. Of all the places to wind up.

“Not really,” he answered. “You?”

Fuji-senpai eyed the doors. “I did wonder whether Tezuka had come back here. When I asked him if he felt all right, earlier… Well.”

Ryouma gauged Fuji-senpai’s worry by what he had almost said directly, and decided it was greater than he’d seen it since their captain injured himself. “The shop did have a nice, relaxing atmosphere,” he offered.

Although, now he thought about it, he’d been feeling whatever he was feeling ever since they’d come out of this place. Well, there was one way to find out. He tapped on the doors, and pushed them open, hearing Fuji-senpai come in behind him.

The shop was empty of any humans, though the animals all eyed them with interest. The doors in the back wall were open. Ryouma glanced up at Fuji-senpai, who was frowning faintly. Part of Ryouma’s head was pointing out that they should announce themselves, or find a bell to ring, or something, and just ask whether Tezuka-san had been in. The rest of his mind didn’t seem to be listening, and when Fuji-senpai moved toward the back doors, Ryouma followed him.

He was positive that Tezuka-san was back there.

They made their way down a long hall, which, the logical part of Ryouma’s mind pointed out, was a little peculiar, even for this part of town. Logic seemed to be fighting a losing battle, though. The hall dead-ended at yet another pair of tall doors. This was the place. Ryouma pushed them open.

The two of them stepped into a forest.

Ryouma felt only vaguely surprised, though it would occur to him later that he should have been completely freaked out. Fuji-senpai certainly seemed shocked, standing still as a stone, wide eyes darting around. Then he stiffened. Ryouma followed his gaze and saw Tezuka-san lying stretched out, uncharacteristically lax, with his head resting in D’s lap. D’s fingers carded through his hair, and Tezuka-san seemed to be asleep.

“Tezuka?” Fuji-senpai choked.

Tezuka-san stirred, and a tiger lifted his head from D’s lap to blink at them.


D raised his brows at the two intruders. Well. He certainly hadn’t expected them to follow Tezuka-kun—hadn’t expected them to be able to. Fuji was shaking his head and staring very much like someone who distrusted the evidence of his senses. Echizen…

Echizen walked forward, grass swishing against his shoes. “Buchou,” he said, with surety.

Tezuka-kun narrowed his eyes and growled, tail flicking twice. Echizen ignored this sign of displeasure as if he’d had practice, and kept coming. His eyes, now that D could see them, were very calm and a little distant, and, as he came closer, their bright brown flickered with gold. Two more steps, and another tiger paced toward Tezuka-kun.

Tezuka-kun tucked his chin down and his growl scaled up into a startled, inquiring sound. He glanced at D.

“I think you saw more truly than you were aware, Tezuka-kun,” D murmured, thoughtfully. He was ready to swear that Echizen was entirely human, but the speed of this change said that the boy had a powerful affinity for the wildness in himself.

Tezuka-kun snorted, and stalked toward Echizen, glaring. Echizen twitched his ears and stood his ground, head tipped to one side. D put a hand over his mouth to hide his smile. Echizen either didn’t really understand the language of his current shape or else liked living dangerously. The young tiger ducked Tezuka-kun’s swipe, and made to nip the raised paw. A brief tussle of fur and growling resolved with Tezuka-kun lying on Echizen’s shoulders and washing his ears vigorously. Echizen-kun sighed, and laid his chin down on his paws.

Footsteps sounded beside D, and he looked up to see Fuji staring down at him with hard eyes.

“Have we been drugged?” the young man asked, very calmly.

D sighed at this echo of his detective’s favorite accusation. Humans. “You are under the influence of something,” he answered, gesturing to the smoking censer, “but it isn’t a drug.”

“What is it?”

A corner of D’s mouth curled up. “You might think of it as reality,” he suggested.

Fuji looked from D to his two friends, and D could see reluctant understanding in his tight expression. He was actually a bit impressed with this boy’s iron refusal to give way to panic or hysteria. His mind was evidently still working, in face of what must be very strange to him, and that was rare. Possibly troublesome, too.

“Tezuka,” Fuji said, quietly, “why…” He gestured to D. Probably, D decided, asking why someone so strong willed had let another person meddle with his integrity. An honest answer, which he had little doubt Tezuka-kun would give, would reveal far too much. He really might have to do something about Fuji’s interference.

Tezuka-kun leaned his forehead against Echizen-kun’s fur for a moment and sighed before he looked up. “Because this is what I am, Fuji,” he answered, his voice equally low. “You should forget.”

Fuji gazed at him for one frozen moment before his calm broke into a glare and he stepped toward Tezuka-kun. “Forget?! Forget that you turned into a tiger? Excuse me?!” His sharp gesture of denial turned into an upsweep of wings, and he fluttered up to a branch where he assaulted everyone’s ears with some very strident commentary.

Echizen-kun rolled onto his back, under Tezuka-kun’s arm, and propped himself up on his elbows. “I’d have thought you’d be bigger, Fuji-senpai,” he commented, with an insolent grin.

“Lovely markings, though,” D cut in over a particularly piercing rejoinder. “The Eurasian variety of Lapwing is a lovely bird.” He smiled up at Fuji, who had paused to cock his head in a remarkably skeptical manner. “Their common name refers to the irregular rhythm of their flight, a great fascination to bird watchers. They’re also one of the breeds that will feign injury to lead predators away from their nests.” Fuji flipped his wings at D, clearly not mollified much.

Echizen-kun, on the other hand, was bright-eyed and looking deeply amused. “Suits you perfectly,” he prodded.

Fuji-kun spread his wings, looking ready to dive at his young friend, and Echizen-kun crouched, ears back, tail lashing. Tigers weren’t technically able to grin, but he was definitely grinning. Fuji-kun flung himself off the branch, only to pull up at the last minute, and peck Echizen-kun soundly between the ears. Echizen-kun’s claws parted Fuji-kun’s tail feathers, for his trouble, and they were off through the trees, leaping and diving at each other. D was now very impressed with Fuji-kun’s amenability to the wild when he finally acted.

Tezuka-kun put a hand over his face and laughed, silently. D laid his hands on Tezuka-kun’s shoulders, urging him to lean back against D. Tezuka-kun gave in with a sigh. “He really should forget,” he said.

“Perhaps,” D murmured. “Your Fuji has more in him than is immediately obvious.”

Tezuka-kun snorted, settling his head against D’s chest, and purred as D combed his nails through Tezuka-kun’s fur. D contemplated the evening’s events, Echizen-kun’s part in particular. The speed of his change was unusual. Normally, a little of the incense D blended merely enabled humans to see what they normally did not. It took a higher concentration for human consciousness to enter into that part of the world they regularly ignored, and higher yet for a full transformation to follow. Fuji-kun had followed that pattern, though the break in his temper seemed to release a transformation hard on the heels of the second stage. Echizen-kun, though… to move so quickly, and into the shape of Tezuka-kun’s spirit…

D smiled down at the tiger snoozing on his lap. Tezuka-kun had had a good hunt, earlier, as D had hoped. He had brought Tezuka-kun here only to relax and refresh him from the strain of living among humans, but it might turn out that there was more for him to do tonight.

Tezuka-kun woke when the other two returned. Echizen-kun flung himself down in a pleased sprawl, panting. Fuji-kun landed on his head, ignoring the resulting ear twitching. Tezuka-kun sat up, adjusting his glasses.

“We should go soon.”

Echizen-kun heaved a vast sigh, and hauled himself upright, too, crossing his legs. D held out a hand for Fuji-kun to flutter down to, and stroked one finger over his head. Fuji-kun stretched, lacing his fingers together over his head, and smiled cheerfully at Echizen-kun.

“Maybe next time,” he suggested. Echizen-kun sniffed.

“That could be a bit difficult,” Tezuka-kun pointed out, dryly.

Echizen-kun looked at him, biting his lip. “Not for you, though,” he said, slowly. “That’s what you meant, isn’t it?”

Tezuka-kun nodded, silently. Echizen-kun pursed his lips, and looked from him to D with a question in his eyes.

“There are ways for a human to take on another nature,” D told him, evenly. “They are not reversible.”

“D-san!” Tezuka-kun exclaimed, sharply, and frowned at his protege. “Echizen…”

Echizen-kun looked up at him, solemnly. “If it’s reality, like he said, why shouldn’t I want it?”

“Echizen,” Fuji remonstrated, softly, leaning to take the other boy’s shoulder, “it can’t be easy; and it must be dangerous.”

Echizen-kun made a derisive noise, ignoring Tezuka-kun’s definite nod. “Like pro tennis is easy and safe?”

“Tennis isn’t something you have to hide from everyone you know,” Tezuka-kun pointed out, approaching a glare.

“Not everyone,” Echizen-kun answered, simply.

Tezuka-kun had to swallow and take a long breath. D folded his hands in his lap, hiding his sympathy for both sides of the argument. When Tezuka-kun seemed unable to speak, though, he felt compelled to add a practical warning.

“It is unlikely you and Tezuka-kun would be able to have much contact, outside of your competitions.”

“No,” Tezuka-kun put in, at last. “We could share to an extent.” He shrugged, as D’s eyes widened. “You spoke of adaptation. My family learned to take the females’ way, when we started to take humans as mates, and share territory. Inside the family, at least.”

“Remarkable.” D felt the little bubble of joy that rose in his chest whenever he encountered some animal managing to win in spite of everything.

“I want this,” Echizen-kun said, very firmly, looking both Fuji and Tezuka-kun in the eye.

Fuji sighed, and smiled wryly. “If you’re that determined, I suppose that’s all there is to it.” He turned a sharper eye on Tezuka-kun. “And if you suggest, now, that I forget…”

Tezuka-kun ran a hand through his hair. “No, I won’t suggest it again.” His eyes softened a shade as he glanced at Echizen-kun. “The choice is yours.”

Echizen-kun gave him a bright, wicked smile. “I know.”

Tezuka-kun looked down his nose, and D chuckled. They would do well.

“Come here, then, Echizen-kun,” he directed. When Echizen stood in front of him, D drew his finger along one sharp corner of the censer, cutting it. He marked Echizen with his blood between the eyes, on his palms and over his heart, and called. A sharp twist of wind and scent swirled around the boy, and he folded up, gasping. When it left, Echizen-kun looked back at D with gold eyes and arched his whiskers in question. D held out his hand, and Echizen-kun swiped the blood off his fingers with a long, rough tongue. A second later he looked mildly revolted, and folded his arms.

“Done?” he asked.

“Done,” D smiled.

“Doesn’t feel all that different,” Echizen-kun observed.

“No, it wouldn’t I imagine,” D agreed. “You were half way there already. The result of accepting Tezuka-kun’s influence, I believe.”

Tezuka-kun blinked.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” D admitted, “but I have to wonder whether this would have happened, eventually, in any case.” Tezuka-kun and Fuji both moved closer to Echizen-kun, who relaxed a little, probably calmed by their scents. D ruffled Echizen-kun’s hair, getting a glower in return, and looked around at his three guests.

“It will be well.”


Ryouma yawned his way through the breakfast buffet, weaving among hotel guests back to the tables his teammates had secured. Tezuka-san, of course, had already efficiently filled his plate and chosen a seat. Ryouma contemplated the high proportion of meat on Tezuka-san’s plate, and then on his own, and sighed. At least his mother would probably be happy when his eating habits turned more to the Western food she prefered. Ryouma deposited his plate at the next place, glancing around to see who else was up and about, and ground to a halt.

“Echizen?” Fuji-senpai asked from behind him, setting down his own plate and laying a hand on Ryouma’s shoulder. He’d been doing that a lot, since last night; Ryouma didn’t mind, especially right now. Having Fuji-senpai’s scent so close steadied him.

“You didn’t mention that,” he muttered through his teeth to Tezuka-san.

Tezuka-san raised his brows, and followed Ryouma’s glance. “Ah. Yes. You get used to it.”

“What do you see?” Fuji-senpai asked, softly.

“Yukimura-san is a dragon,” Ryouma said, very flatly, not taking his eyes off the members of Rikkai who had just come through the door.

Fuji-senpai was silent for a long moment. “That could explain a few things,” he said, at last, in a contemplative tone. Ryouma glared at him, but couldn’t keep it up for long before his eyes were drawn back to Yukimura-san.

Who was now staring back at Ryouma.

Waving his team to an open table, Yukimura-san strolled toward theirs. Tension wound through Ryouma’s whole body, as Yukimura-san’s scent fanned over him, sharp and blue like lightning. “I see the reputation of that family for meddling is the truth,” Yukimura-san said, looking Ryouma up and down with a slight smile.

Ryouma jerked his chin up. “It was my own choice,” he snapped. He had a strong urge to claw that look off Yukimura’s face. His tension eased again as Tezuka-san’s scent folded around him. His captain had risen and stepped forward, nudging Ryouma just a bit behind him.

“Don’t push him yet, Yukimura. He’s still new to this.”

“Of course,” Yukimura-san murmured, stepping back. “I can wait.” His eyes narrowed for one moment, wild and glinting, and then he smiled at them sunnily and turned back toward his team. Ryouma took a deep breath, throttling down his own fizzing aggression, and leaned against Fuji-senpai.

“So, eventually, I get to bite his throat out, right?” he asked.

Fuji-senpai laughed, and even Tezuka-san’s shoulders twitched with what looked like suppressed amusement.

“Figuratively,” his captain specified, sternly.

“Ok, I can work with that.” Ryouma pulled out his chair and started in on his breakfast. As the comforting chatter of his team surrounded him, punctuated with Momo and Kikumaru-senpai stealing each other’s bacon, he relaxed further. He could work with this.

It was reality, after all.

End

In order to make locations and participants match up, I have hypothesized that the coast v coast competitions take place on the high school level, as well as the junior high level.


Size Matters

Crossover with Gundam Wing. Hiruma and Heero have a Spandex Space contest. Duo has an Idea. The world is in trouble now. Total Crack, I-1

They’d barely been at this school two hours and already Heero was regretting it.

“Mmm, strength, grip, yeah you’re perfect.” The blond weird guy with the sharp teeth grinned at them, which made the teeth a lot more obvious. “Welcome to the American Football club!”

“I’m not in any clubs,” Heero answered as evenly as he could when Duo was stifling snickers behind him.

The grin got impossibly wider. “You are now.” Hiruma pulled out a small black book and started paging delicately through it. “Let’s see now. Hm. Oh yeah.” He cackled. “Where do I fucking start? You guys are a blackmailer’s dream!”

At the word “blackmail” spinal reflex got Heero’s gun out and pointed. But then he had to stop and reprocess the whole thing, because there was an assault rifle aimed dead center at him and another at Duo.

And Hiruma was still grinning. “You’ll love football, trust me.”

Heero was having a little trouble with the combination of “blackmail” and “ball game club”. They didn’t seem like they should go together

“If you don’t mind my asking,” Duo put in, “where did you just get these from?” He tapped the muzzle, not at all put out by being held at gunpoint. Heero supposed he was used to it by now.

Hiruma lifted a brow and nodded at Heero’s skimpy tank top and shorts. “Same place he got his, probably.”

“Mysterious extra space in the spandex, gotcha.” Duo eyed the black book thoughtfully and shrugged. “Ever thought of piloting a Mobile Suit?”

Hiruma scratched his chin. “Hmm. You’d need a really big football.”

Duo shot Heero a helpless look, corners of his mouth twitching up. Heero shrugged back. They could play football for a while. It would give him a chance to find a better opening to get the drop on this guy.

Hiruma’s eyes gleamed. “I knew you’d see it my way.”

… or possibly not.

“Hey,” Duo whispered, as they followed Hiruma toward the playing fields, “what do you think would happen if we told him that Treize Kushurenada plans to shut down all football leagues around the world?”

Heero’s eyes narrowed and he smiled.

Six Months Later…

“… and the new Alliance leader has declared that his, er, Mobile Suit Football teams are available at a modest rental fee to any government, to settle political and territorial disputes. Supreme Captain Hiruma added ‘Football rules the world, ke ke ke.'” The news announcer sounded like she didn’t quite believe what she was saying, and who could blame her? But there was no arguing with facts.

Five dazed Gundam pilots stared at the screen.

“Okay,” Duo said, slowly. “Maybe that was a miscalculation.”

“It’s peace,” Heero declared. “I’ll take it.”

The door disintegrated in a storm of bullets. Hiruma appeared in it, grinning. “Found you! Get in those suits and get moving; practice starts in half an hour!”

“We resigned from that club!”

“We were never in that club!”

“I was never in that school!”

Hiruma rubbed his chin, looking elaborately innocent. It was the most unconvincing thing any of them had ever seen. “Really? Then, I wonder where these sign-up papers came from?” He fanned five forms in one hand, and everyone leaned in to look.

Their signatures were all perfectly forged.

Heero growled and went for his gun. Hiruma’s hands were full, and Heero had no intention of playing football for the rest of his life.

Only Hiruma’s hands were suddenly full of metal instead of paper, and half an arsenal was pointed at them. Quatre grabbed Heero’s wrist.

“I don’t want to die just as the war’s ended,” he said firmly.

Hiruma’s grin now showed enough teeth for any two demons. “Practice in half an hour,” he repeated.

End


Without Fear

Crossover of Petshop of Horrors and Labyrinth. D seduces the fading Goblin King into the shop. Written for the Porn Battle prompt: D/Jareth, what dreams are made of. Not Exactly Romance, I-3

Character(s): D, Jareth
Pairing(s): D/Jareth

D looked around, fascinated. The doors of the shop went to many strange places, but they rarely took him into dream realms. The strange proportions of the granite walls, in this place, the odd plants and creatures, all spoke to him of dreams, though, and he wondered why he was here.

The shop doors never opened at random.

"Who are you?"

The man who stepped out of the air was… not exactly a man. D tilted his head. "I am called Count D. And you?"

After a moment’s hesitation the man said, slowly, "I am Jareth, the Goblin King." His thin lips twisted. "Without much of a kingdom anymore, I admit."

So. D looked around, curiously. "This world seems robust," he murmured, asking without asking as was only polite.

The goblin waved a dismissive hand. "The world, yes. Creatures live here. But my magic was broken." His eyes were distant and dispassionate as he added, "I suspect I will fade soon."

"Much that is magic can be mended," D suggested delicately.

Jareth laughed, bleak and sharp and wild. "I haven’t the strength any longer to find anyone who can sustain me."

"What is required?" D asked, quiet and even.

Pale, feral eyes focused on him. There was long hunger in them and D spread his hands, serenely, offering.

Given the setting, he was not entirely surprised when Jareth stepped closer, sliding one hand into his hair, tipped his head back and kissed him. He spread his hands against Jareth’s chest, acquiescent. The shop would not have shown him this place if he were not needed.

"Normally," Jareth murmured in his ear, tone ironic, "I would sweep you off to my castle at this point. I’m afraid that’s not possible, right now."

"Quite all right," D murmured, suppressing a smile. "I’m sure we can find something suitable." He took a small step back, hands stroking over Jareth’s shoulders, down his arms.

Jareth looked at him for a long moment, unreadable, before he snorted softly. This time the twist to his mouth was wry as he followed D, step by step back through the door. Across the hall another door fell open and D backed toward it, short, quick steps that turned Jareth’s gaze predatory.

When Jareth swept him up and laid him down on the huge, low bed, D had to stifle an outright chuckle. He didn’t know whether his newest acquisition understood what was really happening, yet, but he was starting to think that the Goblin King might not care. "You’ve caught me," he said, softly, fishing for what it was, exactly, that Jareth needed.

"Yes," Jareth kissed down the line of D’s throat. His hands stroked over D’s body, tracing the lines of him faultlessly through the fabric of his robes. "Give yourself to me," he whispered.

"Yes," D answered, opening his mouth under Jareth’s kisses, pressing against him, answering his hands. It was no more than he did for any animal in the shop, in the end.

Jareth kissed him fiercely, caught him close, lay over him as if to shelter, or perhaps separate, him from the rest of the world, and D was pliant and willing in his arms. And finally, Jareth unwound, over him, breathing out, and slumped against D’s shoulder.

D smiled, soft and sad, and stroked his wild hair back, kissing his brow gently. "We’ll find you proper sustenance, here," he murmured.

"You are of my kind." Jareth didn’t lift his head, voice low and undone.

It was D’s turn to smile a bit wryly. "Somewhat. My line is made of darker stuff than dreams, even yours."

Now Jareth lifted himself and looked down at D, eyes gleaming. "I am servant to your dreams, for now."

"My dream is your life." D met those sharp eyes steadily and they gentled. Jareth lay down again, beside him, acquiescent in his turn, slowly relaxing into sleep.

D lay awake and turned over in his mind plans for finding his newest guest a suitable human.

 

End


A Brighter Shade of Red

Crossover of Saiunkoku Monogatari and Fushigi Yuugi. Shuurei has a friend and advisor who is apart from the capital’s politics; Yui has a place for her abilities and a lover who reminds her of them. Drama with Romance and Porn, I-4

Character(s): Hongou Yui, Kou Shuurei
Pairing(s): Shuurei/Yui

Yui curled up on the bed, one hand propping up her head, and watched Shuurei pace the room, sleeping robe fluttering around her ankles.

"And then! And then! He said we couldn’t do anything about Haruki, even if he is taking bribes, because he has a patron from the Heki clan, and I should know that the Heki are going to be the deciding voice in the land redistribution this year!" Her brown eyes snapped like sparks; Yui felt she might warm her hands at that fire of Shuurei’s, melt the ice out of her bones, where it had settled years ago.

In any case, she could help feed it. She pursed her lips, paging, in her mind, through the scrolls she had read—she’d thought at first just to have something to do. "Well, you know I haven’t gotten through as much of your historical law as I’d like, so there may be a contradictory precedent I don’t know about…"

Shuurei turned to her with wide, hopeful eyes, and Yui chuckled.

"The Heki own a lot of land rights outside their province, yes, but isn’t it all subsoil rights? If another block were to buy up the topsoil leases, then that would take effective control of the land away from the Heki, wouldn’t it? I’m sure I read about this just a little while ago."

Shuurei stood still, clasped hands pressed against her lips, eyes suddenly wide. "Oh. Oh yes. And then it wouldn’t matter how the redistribution went, because the usage rights would already be tied up. I wonder… if the Emperor could regain control of that land this way it would pull more power back from the great families… " She nodded decisively. "I’ll write to Uncle, tomorrow, about supporting that."

"Always thinking about the bigger picture." Yui smiled at her. "That’s why you’re a politician and I’m not." Actually, the political tangles here still made Yui’s head spin sometimes.

Shuurei snorted at this, impatient as always with anything that sniffed of self-deprecation. "Just one of the best law scholars in the capital. Even if almost no one but me knows it yet." Shuurei picked up her discarded hairbrush to finish brushing out her hair.

Yui shrugged, smiling. "I always thought I might want to go into law, when I was younger. I like having the chance to do it, now."

Shuurei looked over her shoulder, gentle now. "Maybe that’s why you came here."

Yui turned over on her back, looking up at the ceiling. "Maybe. Who knows." Her mouth quirked. "Besides, possibly, Riou." Who she tried to stay away from. She dealt with mysticism even worse than politics, these days.

Shuurei sighed, running her fingers through her loose hair. "Riou came to talk to me again yesterday. He thinks I’ll stop caring for politics and such ‘little things’ sooner or later." She sat down on the edge of the bed with a glum sigh. "Probably sooner, according to him."

"I think he’s dreaming," Yui said dryly. "I’m grateful enough he placed me with you, when I first came here, but honestly. I can’t imagine you ever not caring about this." More softly, "About your people." It was one of the things that fascinated her enough to stay here with Shuurei—her care, her idealism and ruthlessness, each passing effortlessly through her hands in its time, like juggled balls.

Shuurei tangled her fingers together. "I can’t either," she said to them, "but… I’m…"

Yui silently cursed Riou for stirring up Shuurei’s doubts again. She reached out and pulled Shuurei down to her. "Shhh. Whatever your mother was, you’re you." She kissed Shuurei softly and smiled. "See?"

Shuurei laughed, finally relaxing, winding her arms around Yui. "I’m so glad you came," she said, muffled, against Yui’s shoulder.

"I think I am, too," Yui whispered into the darkness of her hair.

Shuurei leaned up on an elbow, eyes wide with mock alarm and sparkling. "You think? That won’t do at all!" She pressed closer against Yui and kissed her back, considerably more sensually, open and unselfconscious.

Yui made a soft sound, lips parting, hands sliding down the full curves of Shuurei’s body under the robe. "Going to convince me to be more enthusiastic?" she asked, husky.

Shuurei, who was always at her best with a challenge, downright grinned, hands busy with the tie of Yui’s sleeping robe. "I think so, yes."

Yui laughed. Having met Kochou she didn’t wonder any more at Shuurei’s boldness and humor about this. And then she moaned softly as Shuurei’s hands stroked over her skin.

She had never told Shuurei, and she never would, that whatever Shuurei’s heritage was, it did change her. Her hands reminded Yui a little, just a little, of being touched by a god, a glow of rightness and presence that wasn’t physical but still heated Yui’s body.

Just enough to calm Yui’s lingering hunger and let her feel this world properly.

"Ahh…" Yui’s breath deepened and she arched up into the wet heat of Shuurei’s mouth on her breast. "Very convincing," she gasped.

"Mm?" Shuurei’s tongue stroked her nipple. "And this?" Slim fingers slid down between Yui’s legs, touching her gently.

Yui was losing track of the game in the pleasure, but managed to whisper, "Very glad to be here," before the sweetness curling down her nerves distracted her entirely. She spread her legs wider, lifting up into the touch, and Shuurei kissed her, murmuring soothing half words, fingers rubbing slow and easy, coaxing and gentle, the way she’d always touched Yui from the first moment they’d met and Shuurei had gathered up her hands in welcome.

Shuurei’s fingers dipped into her and slid back up, bold and slick, and Yui gasped, hips rocking up. She loved Shuurei’s ease with their bodies. It sank her down into the heat, into a feeling of safety as Shuurei’s familiar, mortal and human curves pressed against her and dark hair slipped down to brush her cheek like another caress. "Shuurei," she breathed, arms tightening around her as pleasure curled tighter and tighter and finally broke through her, hot and strong and open.

Shuurei held her close until she sighed and relaxed back against the sheets. Yui nuzzled the curve of Shuurei’s neck and murmured, "You know I’ll stay with you." She hadn’t missed the tiny flicker of darkness in Shuurei’s eyes before teasing covered it.

Shuurei blushed a little, soft and happy, and snuggled up against her. "I know. It’s wonderful; thank you."

"Mm, thank you," Yui returned, and they laughed together, light and breathless.

Sometimes, when Yui ran her fingers through Shuurei’s sleek, dark hair, she remembered Miaka leaning against her, Miaka’s hands reaching toward her. But when Shuurei smiled, warm as the sun and twice as brilliant, dragons and gods and the dimmed day-to-day world that came after washed out of Yui’s mind, and she, too, was very glad she had come to this place. A place where the eyes of the person who touched her saw beauty and wisdom, not fragments and foolishness. It made her think she might become what Shuurei saw.

She held Shuurei closer and murmured against her ear, "Do I get a bedtime story tonight?"

"Of course." Shuurei hooked a leg comfortably around Yui’s. "What do you want to hear about?"

"Tell me more about the Chancellery…"

End

A/N: The author would like to note that this story is entirely the fault of Lys ap Adin, fic enabler extraorinaire.