You know what? I hate html.I wish I was doing almost anything else.Like getting laid. I could be having sex right now, but noooo.I watched Utena lose her virginity again this weekend.That scene is so hot.The fine line between obsession and madness is... what was I saying?GIRL ON GIRL ACTION!!!I want that outfit. I like red and black. What a surprise.This layout took forever to get just right. But that was because I took so many breaks.I never ate glue in kindergarten. Hard to tell, huh?Gio keeps talking about food. What a bitch.LEGS.See, I'm being productive. Now if only I could do this at work, where productive is just a dream...GODDAMMIT STOP TALKING ABOUT FOODYou know, those are the only important things in life. Food, sex, and sleep.Everything else is just window dressing.I have to clean my house still. That sucks.I hate cleaning. I should buy maids.I want to go to a museum, but I don't want to get out of my jammies.I suck at being energetic.Funny, you don't look Druish.


If I Could - Chapter Four


"I'm taking you home."

Kohana had started toward the gates, shrugging off his arm. "Why is that?" she asked as she turned to face him.

"Because I'm coming up to take a better look at your room." He smiled. It was annoying, the way he assumed he would get his way.

"And what could possibly make you think you were welcome there?" she asked coolly. The breeze picked up, fluttering her hair and her skirt and tossing a few dead leaves through the empty archways lining the paths. She shivered.

"You're not going to ruin our friendship over such a small thing. I found out. You're not angry, you're plotting revenge." Taking the few steps toward her, he captured her hand in his. "I chose you because you're so much like me. I know how you react. Changing now will only waste energy and effort on both our parts."

"Then don't bother to call it a friendship. If we're not going to waste our time on games, we might as well drop all of them." The worst thing was, he was right. At least now she had someone she didn't need to hide her illness from. But even though she suggested it, there was no way she was putting aside all of her games. She'd be vulnerable without them.

"Both you and I know we can't do that. Not all of them, anyway. Some of them." Rubbing her hand, he continued, "Besides, I have some gloves so your hands won't be any colder than they already are. It would be a shame not to use them."

"Fine. Let's get out of here." She started off toward the parking lot, Kiryuu following her.

The motorcycle was the only vehicle left in the lot. Kiryuu helped her on with her jacket, pulling a pair of gloves from his pocket and handing them to her. They were thin leather, the highest quality, of course, and they looked new. Had he bought them for her? It was no matter. She slipped them on easily; they were the perfect size. He started the motorcycle, its rumble filling the quiet air, and she got on.

It was easy to lose herself in the exhilaration of the ride. She really would have to learn to drive one of these things. The parents wouldn't even notice unless she had to ask for more money, and she knew her account was full. Aside from the occasional trip overseas and periodic shopping extravaganzas, she didn't spend all that much money.

When he pulled up in front of the house, she noted with distaste that the gates were open. That meant one or both of them were at home. As Kiryuu handed her up from the bike, she asked, "Are you sure you want to come in? Someone's actually home."

"Will they even notice?" he asked dryly, and then laughed. "Sorry. Your home is so much like mine that I thought—"

"You thought right. They might not notice." Considering that for a moment, she said, "Unless it's my mother. She'll notice until she realizes she's not twenty anymore."

"She should meet my father. They might get along." He followed her to the door.

Once inside, Kohana quickly determined that both of them were home. Her mother's voice came stridently from the study off the large living room, and she could hear her father's murmur underneath it. Paying them no mind, she walked into the kitchen. "Akiko-chan, are you busy?"

"No, dear. What do you need?" The round face of her maid looked up from the pot she was stirring.

"Stop it, you know you don't get paid for that. The cook can do it." Kohana did feel a sort of affection for Akiko. After all, she was the one who'd kissed Kohana's scraped knees and showed her how to make flower wreaths when she was little. Akiko obeyed instantly, setting her spoon aside. She'd be at it again in a few seconds. "When's dinner?"

"Half an hour."

"I have company, so bring it up to my room when it's ready. And if you could bring us something to drink soon, that would be wonderful." She glanced behind her, and Kiryuu was standing in the doorway. How unsurprising. "What do you want, Kiryuu-sempai?"

"It doesn't matter."

"Hot chocolate for me, it's cold outside." Her mother's voice rose to a peak. "How long have they been home?"

"An hour or so," Akiko replied. She glanced over at Kiryuu and her face became wreathed in smiles. "So nice to see you again, Kiryuu-san. Thank you for the help the other day."

"It was no trouble," he said, bowing graciously. Damn him, he'd even made friends with her maid already.

"I hope you've thanked him properly, Kohana," Akiko said sternly, "You always were one to forget your manners."

Sighing heavily, Kohana began to speak, but Kiryuu overrode her. "She thanked me very nicely, no doubt due to your efforts."

"All right, Kiryuu-sempai. Don't flirt with her any more than you need to for your survival. She's married." Anything female. Absolutely anything female. At least she wasn't that bad.

Smiling at her in a way that should have been illegal outside of the bedroom, he asked, "Jealous?"

"No. Tired of watching you exercise your charm." At least he wasn't actually in the kitchen. She didn't want Akiko getting too used to him, because then there'd be questions when he was gone.

"It's just the two of you?" Akiko asked. Kohana nodded, and then left the room, pushing Kiryuu aside. Hopefully she could get him upstairs before her mother got angry enough to—

A door slammed. Her mother had gotten angry enough to leave the study. Brushing past her mother with a breezy, "Hi, mom," Kohana grabbed a hold of Kiryuu and pulled him to the stairs.

"Kohana, aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?" Glancing over her shoulder, she saw that her mother was tugging at the low neckline of her grey shirt and watching Kiryuu hungrily.

Smiling sweetly, Kohana said, "No, mother. You probably won't see him again anyway."

Her mother smiled just as sweetly, and then said, "By the way, darling, I had to take some money out of your account. You don't mind, do you?"

"No, I don't mind. I'll just ask Dad for some more." It was always the same old game. And her mother never understood that Kohana always came out richer than before. She started to walk up the stairs, still with Kiryuu's hand in hers.

She got about halfway up before her mother's voice floated after her. "The results of the last test are in, if you'd like to see them. You understand all of that jargon about 'musculature' and 'deterioration' better than I do, anyway."

Spine stiffening, Kohana stopped. Kiryuu nearly collided with her, but he managed to sidestep before he did. Kohana turned around, letting go of his hand, and walked back down the stairs. "Give it to me," she said quietly.

"If you're too busy to introduce me to your young man there, you're too busy to read boring old medical papers. I'm going out. I'll see you... when I see you." Her mother walked into the entryway.

Kohana waited until her mother had left and then said, "Kiryuu-sempai, go upstairs if you want. My room's on the left, the last door. There's something I have to do."

"I'll come with you." He walked down the stairs, laying a hand on her shoulder as he reached the bottom.

"Suit yourself," she said, shrugging off his arm and walking into the study. Once inside the room, she walked past her father to the old adding machine he kept, punched in a few numbers, added a little and then multiplied a little and then tore off the final total. After scribbling a note on it, she dropped it on the desk in front of him.

He stopped reading the papers he was flipping through, glanced at it and grunted, and then went back to reading. Kohana walked out, satisfied. She'd doubled the maximum her bank allowed her to take out in one day without her written permission and added interest. From a different point of view, her mother had given her eighty thousand yen. Not bad for five minutes' work.

I hate them.

"Upstairs," she said, wishing Kiryuu hadn't come. The satisfaction of showing up her mother never lasted; it had paled long ago, leaving only a hollow ache that refused to go away. Though she knew that the doctors hadn't found anything different, she couldn’t help but wish, just a little, that she’d never been born.

Once they were in her sitting room, everything seemed a little bit better. The dark colors were soothing, and the sight of the rather grisly paintings she had done eased her mind. Her rooms were her sanctuary, the place where she could be what she was rather than what others needed to see to give her what she wanted. Perhaps that was why no one stayed very long; every single one of the paintings depicted pain of some kind, whether it was physical or not, and the vases and little baubles that were scattered about were all broken in some way. Hardly anyone ever got the joke—that it was too overdone to be entirely serious. Kiryuu, however, seemed to understand it; he had a small smile on his face, and he didn't seem uneasy in the least, though he was surrounded by something that looked like the set from an old horror movie.

Turning on one of the dim lights, she grabbed her portable phone off one of the stacks of dog-eared books and dialed the number for the doctors' office. "Do whatever you like, Kiryuu-sempai. I'm just going to change."

He nodded, and then the receptionist picked up the phone. Crossing the sitting room, she opened the door into her room. If anything, it was more overdone than the sitting room—there were stacks of books on almost every available surface, most of them battered through much reading, an old record player graced the single table, and there were heavy velvet drapes on all of the windows. Everything was broken, chipped, torn, or otherwise flawed. Even the mirror that stood in the corner had a spider web of cracks in the corner. It always made her laugh to see it. Walking to the closet, Kohana chatted easily with the girl on the other end of the line. As she asked for the girl to fax the report again, she grabbed some red silk pajamas and unfastened her skirt. It dropped to the floor and she kicked it aside, unbuttoning her shirt. The receptionist was being stubborn about faxing.

"Hoshigawa Kohana, I said. Yes. Yes. That's right. No, I'm not—wait a second. Did a man ask you to fax them earlier? Yes, a different number." Warm hands took the shirt and slid it down her arm. She switched hands with the phone, allowing him to pull the shirt off her and then leaned on him as she tugged the waistband of her panties down. He undid her brassiere, pulling it off while she stepped out of her panties. "No. No. No, he didn't have my permission. I know. No, I'm not angry. I know he has them. Yes. Don't worry about it. I know who it is. Just don't do it again. Now, fax my copy again. Thank you. No, I'm not going to make a complaint, but I will if you don't fax it right now. Thank you. Goodbye."

Hanging up the phone and throwing it on the bed, she grabbed a paintbrush from the nightstand and twisted her hair up into a bun, pushing the brush through it to hold it in place. "Kiryuu-sempai. Do you want something?"

"I'm in your room and you're naked. I’m sure you can call me Touga." He pulled her to him, his hands sliding down her body and resting at her hips.

"Touga, then. Touga, what else do you want?" She was too keyed up for his attentions right now. "Because I really need to relax, and you're not helping."

"I know," he said. "I was just going to say that maybe I should leave. You seem upset."

"No. I just need—" There was a knock at the sitting room door.

The door clicked open, and Akiko called out, "Kohana, I've got your drinks and a paper from the doctor."

"Coming, Akiko-chan." She quickly pulled on the pants as Kiryuu draped the chinese style shirt over her shoulders. Rushing to the door and fumbling with the buttons, she took the paper with a hurried, "Thanks," stuck it between her teeth, and finished buttoning the shirt. She disregarded Akiko's disapproving gaze, and carried her mug and Kiryuu's glass back into the bedroom. The door clicked shut behind her, and she was in darkness.

Kiryuu turned on the lamp near the door. Handing him the drink, she took the paper out of her mouth and said absently, "You don't have to leave unless you want to. I was just thinking I might like a bath, to relax a bit. It's been a long day." Her eyes scanned the document quickly; as she expected, there was no change.

Wait a second—

"Some things are worth waiting for," he said. "I don't mind. I'd enjoy the chance to examine these paintings."

Sensitivity increasing? That could be bad. But the dates were... from last year to this year. Not too bad, then. The tests showed that it wasn't increasing very much either. There was a graph... Kiryuu had spoken. "Sorry, what?"

Instead of answering, he took the paper from her, glancing at it, and then tossing it on the floor. "It doesn't mean anything."

Of course. He'd seen it earlier today. "I know. What did you say?"

"I said I'd enjoy the chance to examine the paintings. Have your bath if you want." He smiled, but it wasn't the usual seductive smile. Just a smile.

"No, I didn't mean that. You can stay and talk to me if you want, keep me company. It's not like I'm going to be shy about it. I've already had sex with you; what do I care if you see me naked?" She paused for a moment, considering, and then added, "You can join me, as long as you promise not to complain about the bubbles."

Brushing his hair back from his face, he said, "I thought you needed to relax."

"You'll be a gentleman and let me relax. For a while, anyway." She turned and walked into the bathroom adjoining her suite, Kiryuu following her. After setting the hot chocolate down on the countertop, she started the water, adding a generous amount of vanilla scented bubble bath. It was an American style bath, one with claw feet on it. It wasn't as big as a normal Japanese bath, but it would fit two people. She hoped.

Glancing up into the large mirror as she sipped her hot chocolate, she saw that Kiryuu was right behind her. He placed his glass on the counter, taking hers from her and setting it down as well, and began to undo the buttons of her shirt. Kohana stayed still and let him. Despite her earlier protests, and the fact that she didn't think she would actually relax until she gotten into the tub, she was beginning to feel the first restless stirrings of desire. The silk slid off of her shoulders and puddled around her ankles.

Hands gliding down to her hips, he pulled the waistband down over the curve of her behind and let the pants fall. Liquid blue eyes locked with hers through the mirror. Kohana smiled, leaned against him, and stretched, letting her hands creep up over his shoulders. Supporting her easily, he stroked her stomach. "I should relax first, or it won't be as much fun..." she said.

"If that's what you want." He nibbled on the side of her neck.

"Hmm…" Kohana sighed, and then pulled herself away. "I forgot! Akiko will be bringing up dinner soon anyway." Chuckling, wryly, she said, "It has been a long day. And I'm still angry at you."

"I haven't seen much evidence of that," he laughed. "But there was a reason for both of my invasions, as you'll see."

"And why can't you just tell me?" Kohana asked, piqued.

Pulling her to him again and leaning down to nip at her ear, he said, "Some things have to be seen to be believed. Why do you think I've undressed you twice already?"

"You're impossible." It was only habit that he was so flattering; she knew that as well as she knew her name. It didn't displease her. It didn't really please her, either. She turned around, intending to check the water in the bath, but he stopped her, pushing her up against the cool marble counter.

"So are you. Will you tell me now why you bother to go to school at all?"

"Maybe. Make sure the bath isn't overflowing." Glancing behind her to see whether the cups were in her way, she put her hands flat on the counter and hopped up on it.

"It's not." Kiryuu moved forward, nudging her legs apart and pushing her back against the mirror so that he could easily keep her where she was, open to his attentions. He began to kiss her neck, and whispered, "Tell me."

"Everyone I know is there. A lot of people I don't know are there too. I don't need to go places to meet people, I just have to go to school." Why should she change when she didn’t have time to waste? She promptly tossed the question away as Kiryuu lightly cupped her breast. His lips made their way down toward it and she arched her back upward to give him better access to it. Tenderly, he licked around the nipple, teasing her, until she sighed and slid her hand into his hair. The moment his tongue touched her nipple was electric; she moaned, twisting sinuously.

"Kohana! Supper!"

Sighing, she called out, "Just leave it in the sitting room, Akiko. I'll get it in a minute."

"Do you need anything else?" Akiko called. Kiryuu chuckled, nibbling lightly at Kohana's nipple.

"Ah!" she hissed, her hands pulling him closer. Keeping her voice controlled, she called, "No, we're fine. If we need anything, I'll ring you." At that moment, Kiryuu decided to suck strongly on her nipple, pinching the other lightly. Kohana gritted her teeth, grinding the moan that wanted to escape into tiny bits. He was too good at this.

"All right." There was a distinctly critical tone to Akiko's voice. Oh well. She didn't have to approve, she just had to keep her mouth shut.

Akiko was gone. Thank god. Kiryuu was driving Kohana insane with the teasing flicks of his tongue, the gentle caresses of his hands, and whenever she tried to reach for the buttons of his uniform, he would tenderly capture her hand and press it back down to the marble countertop. He continued on up to her neck, biting the sweet little spot where her neck and shoulder joined. A shiver of bliss raced through her; her legs wrapped reflexively around his waist and she crushed herself up against him.

Before she'd recovered from that delight, his hands slid around her, holding the small of her back and sliding underneath to cup her behind. He lifted her easily, still kissing the side of her neck, and carried her over to the bath. Extricating himself from her grasp, he deposited her in the water and turned off the taps. And then walked away.

"And where are you going?" she asked. Did he think he was just going to leave her after that?

Pausing for a moment, he glanced over his shoulder at her. "You're relaxing," he pointed out, infuriatingly calmly. Her visible irritation only made him laugh softly before turning to walk out.

"Bastard!" she hissed, sending a sheet of water flying at him.

It didn't completely miss him, but only a few droplets caught in his hair and dampened his clothes. He glanced at her once again. "I'm not leaving. You need to be more patient," he said, walking out. She could easily imagine the smug smile he was wearing.

Irritated, she yanked the paintbrush out of her hair and threw it out the open door, then sank down underneath the bubbles. He obviously thought he had the upper hand. For now, he did. That was going to change.

A few moments later, he'd returned, bringing a chair and the tray that Akiko had set their food on. Kohana watched him silently as he set the chair by the tub and placed the tray on it, and then unselfconsciously stripped, joining her in the bath. He looked different when his hair was wet and slicked back; older, perhaps, like he'd seen things that no one would believe. It brought to mind what he'd said earlier, about having to see some things before believing them.

"What's the big secret?" she asked abruptly. "Why did all of the Student Council members look at me like they're condemning me to death? Why did Saionji make such a big fuss about duties, and then refuse to agree with your choice of a successor? You know I noticed the way you all looked at each other, as if there were conversations going on that I couldn't hear, and I didn't like it."

"You'll understand more tonight. You'd better not have a headache." Pulling her over to him, he settled her on his lap.

She struggled for a moment, unwilling to accept that. "I'm tired of being patronized and placated. I want to know why you're against the rest of the Student Council. Whatever it is, it's got you worried and it's gone on for a long time. You're only seventeen and you have little worry lines on your face. That's not normal, Kiryuu."

He stared at her for a moment, and then laughed. "Perceptive. I should have known I wouldn't escape that sharp sight."

"Tell me. I'm tired of waiting."

"Get used to not knowing. There are some things I can't explain, and there are some things you need to find out on your own." He pulled her against him, resting his chin on the top of her head. "You did handle the rest of the Council well today. They were very impressed."

"I know. Arisugawa and Kaoru were easy enough." She frowned. "But Saionji..."

"He was upset. If he hadn't been impressed with you, he wouldn't have tried to warn you off." His voice was absolutely certain of that.

All the cryptic statements were infuriating. "What, do you talk to them with telepathy? How in hell do you know for sure? And what is the Student Council mixed up in? I know the main concern here isn't the fall dance. It seems like something dangerous."

"Does that bother you?" Kiryuu asked, voice so blank and unreadable that Kohana scowled.


"Then stop asking questions. I can promise you that you'll enjoy this game. You just have to know when to get out of it." The finality in his tone was undisputable. This time he really wasn't going to put up with her demands.

"Fine," she said, grabbing a bowl of half-melted ice cream from the tray.

"Dessert before dinner?" he asked, amused, and reached for his plate.

"This is dinner."

She didn't even manage to finish half the bowl. She just wasn't hungry.

To tell the truth, she was never hungry. To keep from starving, she'd substituted most of her meals with the diet replacement drinks that Sato-sensei, her doctor, had recommended, and she took a handful of different vitamin supplements every morning and night. Glancing at the cupboard beneath the marble countertop, she tried to remember how many pill bottles there were in there. She couldn't. There were too many, there'd been too many over the years.

Setting her bowl aside, she asked, "Will we be out late tonight?"

"Finished already?" he asked, ignoring her question.

"Yes." Likely they would be out late. Kohana decided to wait while he finished his meal, settling in and allowing her mind to drift. There were too many questions she wanted answered. Too much had gone on. And the bath water was starting to get cold. She reached up with her toes and turned on the hot water for a few moments, batting a few bubbles around until the water was almost too hot. Turning it off, Kohana noticed that Kiryuu was setting aside his plate. The heat of the water was making her feel sleepy. She nestled herself into a better position, laying her head on his chest, and closed her eyes.

"Are you relaxed now?" he asked softly.

She smiled. "…nearly asleep."

The purring amusement in his voice gave her goose bumps. "Open your eyes. We still have things to do tonight."

"Mmmm… what kind of things?"

"Good things." Running his hands down her body, he gently tweaked her nipple.

That was enough to fan the flames of her desire. Stretching, twisting, she ended up kneeling between his legs, her hands on his chest and her mouth at his neck. Sighing contentedly, he let his head fall back and stroked her pale skin. It wasn't long before he was pulling her towards him, spreading her knees and positioning her. "And you're always telling me to be patient."

"We have somewhere to be. We'll take our time afterward." He didn't seem especially hurried, though, slowly pulling her down to impale herself on him. She was more than happy to comply, of course, sinking down on his cock and savoring the pulse she could feel so clearly against her stretched internal walls. It left her breathless and a little dizzy when she moved upward, but she thrust down on him again despite the rush, moving faster. Kohana leaned forward, grinding her hips into his, and began to lick the pulse at his throat while his hands wandered her body. The steamy air of the room and the warm scent of vanilla combined to send her into a delicious haze, all of her senses being tantalized at once.

It might have been hours. She always lost track of the time during amazing sex. Kiryuu was simply her perfect lover, the kind no one ever really expects to meet. He paid attention to every little sound she made, used her extreme sensitivity to drive her wild with lust, found the right balance between attentiveness and frustration of her desires, and it helped that he was absolutely flawless, physically. The scent of his skin was an instant aphrodisiac, as was the flutter of his long lashes on her skin when she pressed her cheek against his. He always seemed to know exactly what she wanted before she wanted it; it was only the question of when he would give it to her.

She supposed that he felt much the same about her. After all, she did know exactly what he wanted before he wanted it.

Finally she could tell that he was about to come. It was in the rasp of his breath and the heat of his gaze scorching trails down her body. She knew exactly what would drive him over the edge. His fingers worked at her clit, the blazing heat filling her and then slowly edging closer to a peak, and she moaned, "Touga... please…" drawing it out, long and low. "Oh, please…" It was purely psychological. Clamping down with her internal muscles, she allowed her climax to wash over her, her head falling back as the rapturous sensations flamed through her. A split second after, he stiffened beneath her, his cock spasming and filling her with his hot seed.

Collapsing onto him, she panted, trying to catch her breath. She was still a little dizzy, but that would pass. His arms wrapped around her, their chests pushed together, both of them worn out and rejuvenated by their exertions.

After a while, she sat up and chuckled. "Narcissist." She would lay a bet that one of the things he’d enjoyed most was hearing her beg for him. Of course, that was why she’d done it. Sex just wasn’t as much fun if both parties weren’t absolutely, utterly absorbed in it.

"So are you." He smiled roguishly. "But we can't spend all night admiring ourselves."

Wrinkling her nose, Kohana slowly pulled off of him, shivering slightly at the loss of contact. She stepped out of the bath and grabbed a robe from the hooks on the door, enjoying the rough terrycloth against her skin. Kiryuu pulled the plug, stepping out as well and catching the robe she tossed to him. After a few moments spent drying off, she grabbed a brush and began to brush her hair, gently working out the tangles. Once her hair was finished, she wrapped a towel around it and swapped her robe for a silk one. Kiryuu followed her into her room, carrying his uniform.

"Do you have a clock?" he asked, glancing around.

"It's six-thirty. Are we late?" They were probably going to the forest. But what kind of appointment would be in the forest?

He dropped the robe on the bed, pulling on his pants. "No, we're a little early. I have something to give you first, though." Kohana helped him on with his shirt, trying not to exhibit any curiosity. He wasn't actually falling for her, was he?

One look at his face gave her the answer. He wasn't. Heaving a silent sigh of relief, she deadpanned, "How sweet, Kiryuu-sempai. Bringing me presents and everything. Maybe I should give up my lewd and debaucherous ways and settle down with you."

He coughed, glancing sharply at her. She couldn't help but start to laugh; he looked almost frightened. "Don't ever do that again," he said, shaking his head. "And I thought you were calling me Touga."

"Maybe. I haven't decided yet." She walked over to the closet, searching for something comfortable and warm to wear.

"Don't bother. Your uniform will be here soon." Walking toward her, he took her hand in his and reached into his pocket. "Obey the rules of the rose seal and the decrees of the ends of the world. As the future Seitokaicho, you have a double duty; to learn all I have to teach, and to uphold the rules as best as you are able."

It sounded like ritual. Pulling his hand out of his pocket, Kohana saw that he was holding a silver ring with a pink rose crest much like the school's. She'd seen the same ring on his finger, but thought it just some affectation. He held it in front of her eyes for a moment, watching her examine it, and then slipped it on her finger. The cool metal made her shiver.

"There's something I have to say before we leave tonight," he continued softly. His fine features were set in serious lines, all vestiges of playfulness or desire gone from them. "Don't rely on anyone but yourself. The other members are useful, at times, but they all have their flaws. And don't trust them. Don't ever turn your back on anyone, in or out of the Council, student, teacher, anyone." He brought her hand up to his lips, gently pressing a kiss on the crest of the ring. "Even me."

He was utterly serious! What the hell was going on?

Kohana slowly nodded, unable to think of anything to say. Of course she didn't trust him. Well, she did, to a certain degree. She trusted that he wouldn't turn down sex, and that he'd do whatever it took to get what he wanted. And that he liked having power over people. Those were qualities she herself had.

The serious look slowly left his face. He let her hand go, smiling at her. "You'll do well."

"Kohana! There's a package for you!"

Laughing, he said, "Your uniform. You have just enough time to dress before we have to leave."

"I see," she said. Crossing over to the door to the sitting room, she stuck her head out. Akiko was there, naturally, and she was carrying two large boxes. There was a look on her face that said she wanted to speak privately, and so Kohana came out and closed the door.

Akiko frowned gently and said, "Kohana-chan, you’ve never talked about this boy."

"Akiko, it’s my decision. I’ll do what I want." Smiling to take the harsh edge from the words, she took the boxes. "It’s all right. You don’t need to worry about me."

Instead of grumbling about parents that didn’t care about their children, as she usually did, Akiko shook her head. "At least I know you won’t get your heart broken." Looking her in the eyes, Akiko said earnestly, "You’re a sweet girl, Kohana-chan, but there’s something in you that isn’t sweet at all."

"I know," Kohana murmured, and then grinned. "Don’t worry about me. I can take care of myself." She waited until Akiko had left, fingering the ribbons on the boxes uneasily, and then turned back toward her room.

Carrying the boxes into her room, she wasn't surprised when Kiryuu took them from her. They smelled faintly of roses. He placed them on the bed, and then glanced around the room. "Do you ever open the drapes?"

"Not really. Why?"

"Open the first box," he said, and crossed the room to the curtains. Opening them threw her whole black and grey room into sharp detail rather than the gloom she liked best. As well as soothing, the dark colors were flattering to her. Her pale skin and white hair showed up against them like the moon in the midnight sky.

She decided to ignore the light as best she could, and opened the first box, the one that smelled the most like roses.

Inside was a huge bouquet of them, in every color she'd ever seen and more. Even the black ones were there, vaguely repellent after what Kiryuu's sister had said to her.

"Pick your favorite color," he said, "And we'll see if I guessed right."

She could have chosen the black or the pale green ones, just to throw him off, but instead she decided to be honest. It would be a test of how well he knew her. She held up a red so deep that it was almost black, the color of the blood in the painting across the room. That particular painting was one that she was rather proud of; the contrast between the gold and white angel, the grey world, and the red heart he was holding in his hand was especially pleasing.

"Open the other box." Kiryuu's voice was nearly smooth, but she thought she heard a faint hint of smugness to it. He'd guessed right. At least, that was her guess.

She opened the box. He had guessed right. A snow white uniform, much like his own, lay in the box. It was different, however, in that it was accented with the deep burgundy rather than his pure red, and—she picked it up, and smiled—made of silk. He continued, "You should change. We'll be late."

She undid the tie at the front of her robe. "Grab some panties and a brassiere for me? Top drawer, on the left." Maybe she'd give him a few ideas as to other things she could be wearing.

She watched out of the corner of her eye as he dug through the drawer, hands whispering through silky bits of lingerie. "And stop trying to frustrate me, or we'll be later." he chuckled when he turned to her, watching her drop the robe on the floor. He handed the delicate underthings to her, and then walked to a large vase with a few dried flowers in it. As she dressed, choosing the pants, he took the flowers out and laid them on a nearby pedestal, then filled it, first with water and then with the roses.

"I'm ready," she said, smoothing the front of the uniform and making sure the weighted cord hung properly.

"Then let's go." He looked her over before they walked to the door. "You were meant to wear that uniform."