Of Promises and Choices
|By : Wildfaerie|
Category: +S to Z > Tokyo Mew Mew
Views: 49 -:- Recommendations : 0 -:- Currently Reading : 0
|Disclaimer: I don't own Tokyo Mew Mew, nor do I make any profit off this. It's purely for my and other's enjoyment.|
Disclaimer: I do not own Tokyo Mew Mew or the characters in this story. Though I wish I did because obviously, Ichigo would have ended up with Kish and not boring old Masaya.
AN: This is rated PG13 mostly for some language and a bit of adult innuendos. But completely safe otherwise.
For those of you reading my other Mew Mew fic, don’t worry. I’m still working on it. I’m far from finished with it. I just couldn’t get this lil story idea out of my head and had to get it down on paper. I hope ya’ll enjoy!!
Please Read & Review! Thank you!!
“text” – Talking ‘text’ – Thinking
Of Promises and Choices
It was over. The final battle with Deep Blue was done. They had won. In truth, they had all won. The aliens were going to take the Mew Aqua and restore their planet. Though some had died, all had been revived. They had all managed to somehow survive that terrible ordeal.
And now, they all stood. Atop a sunny, grassy hill, they were saying their goodbyes. But something didn’t feel right. For the countless time, Ichigo stole a glance at the green haired alien. Something was missing.
His golden eyes no longer shimmered with mischief. That infuriating smirk was gone. And oddest of all, he had barely acknowledged her. She’d seen him steal a glance or two her way, but he refused to truly look at her. He hadn’t even said a word directly to her. Sure, he’d spoken to the others. Even responding to some of her questions. But not once had he spoken directly to her. It was beginning to hurt.
She had no idea why, but she wanted to hear his laugh. Even, God forbid, for him to try and steal a kiss. This wasn’t the Kish she was used to. Wasn’t the Kish she knew. Then, when he looked up, she saw it. They’re eyes had momentarily locked, and she saw the deep pain and sadness before he’d quickly turned away. She couldn’t take it anymore.
“Wait!” she screamed. Everyone halted in their discussions and goodbyes and looked at her. Ichigo took a deep breath and stepped closer to Kish. Raising her eyes to the group, “Can you give me one hour before you leave? I’d like to speak to Kish in private.” She turned back to the stunned, golden eyes of Kish, “If that’s alright with you?”
Not waiting on anyone else’s approval, he simply nodded and gently wrapped an arm around Ichigo’s waist and teleported. The last thing Ichigo saw was the stunned look on Masaya’s face as they disappeared.
They reappeared under the Sakura tree that held so many memories for both of them. Kish’s arm lingered for just a moment longer before he withdrew. Stepping back, he folded his arms behind his head and leaned against the trunk of the tree. He appeared completely calm, but inside he was a complete mess.
His heart was in pieces. In just a short time he would have to say goodbye to the girl he loved more than anything. And what’s worse, he was leaving her in the arms of someone else. Of someone she loved. She would never be his. So, he bit back his desire to hold and kiss her. To beg her to be his. He didn’t want to tarnish these last precious moments together with her looking at him with hatred as she rejected him once again.
A soft, “Thank you,” drew his attention to the red head before him. He tried to smile, he really did, but found he didn’t have the heart for it. Instead, he looked away, “Anything for you, Kitten.” His voice was soft yet course. He hadn’t spoken to her, and this was why. It was simply too painful.
Ichigo heard the roughness in his voice and the way he refused to look at her and broke. Tears slowly made their way down her cheeks. Stepping close, she reached out and twisted her hands in his shirt and rested her forehead on his chest. “Why?” she croaked, barely above a whisper.
To say Kish was startled would have been a gross understatement. With confusion clear in his eyes, he looked down at the girl desperately clinging onto him. “Why what?” he asked softly. He wanted more than anything to wrap his arms around her. But she wasn’t his. Never would be.
“Why did you sacrifice yourself for me?” Her words were choked with tears, and it broke his heart further. Finally giving in to his desire to hold her, he rested his hands on her upper arms. Taking a deep breath, “You should know why, Kitten. I always say it. I love you.”
A loud sob broke free and she pounded her fists against his chest. “No, you don’t! You’ve never meant it! I was just your toy! Someone to play with. So why give your life to someone like me? And if you love me so much, why haven’t you even looked at me? You haven’t even tried to steal a kiss. That’s not the Kish I know. So why?!” she yelled into his chest.
She couldn’t understand. The thought of him leaving so suddenly hurt. He’d been a constant fixture in her life for over a year and now he was leaving. But what hurt the most was seeing him look so broken. The cheery light in his amber eyes was gone. She suddenly realized she missed him already. For this wasn’t Kish. This was an empty shell of who he was. There was no smirk, no playfulness, no lewd or annoying comment. This just wasn’t Kish, and it was killing her.
Kish didn’t know what to say. His hands involuntarily gripped her shoulders tighter. A flood of anger and hurt washed through him. Firmly, yet gently, he wrapped his thumb and forefinger around her jaw and tilted her face up to him. When her teary eyes met his, he finally spoke. “I’ve meant every word. I love you, Ichigo. Have almost since I stole that first kiss when we met. I thought I had made that clear, but I guess I was wrong.”
Hurt and anger swirled in his golden eyes as Ichigo searched them. She looked for any lie or falsehood but could find none. Before she could say anything, he continued. “I haven’t messed with you or stolen a kiss because I didn’t want my final memories of you to be tainted with more hurt and rejection. I didn’t want to see that look of hate aimed at me before I had to leave.”
The next words Ichigo spoke shocked not only the green haired boy, but herself as well. There was something gnawing at her heart, and she needed to know what it was.
It wasn’t a demand or a question. Merely a soft request.
Those two words affected Kish more than anything ever had. They simultaneously broke and mended his heart. A flash of hope seeped between the pieces of his breaking heart. As much as he wanted to deny her, he couldn’t. He knew it would make things harder. Knew it would break him further. But he couldn’t deny anything to the girl he loved.
Slowly, he leaned down, his eyes never leaving hers. Gently, his lips brushed against hers. As always, a bolt of need raced through him. He needed her. He loved her. He intended for the kiss to be soft, gentle, sweet, and short. A final goodbye kiss. But when he went to pull away, she pressed harder to his lips, refusing to let him retreat.
He couldn’t take it anymore. The hand on her jaw slid back and buried in her hair. His lips molded to hers perfectly and she kissed him back. When he felt her arms snake around his neck, he deepened the kiss. He closed his eyes and gently ran the tip of his tongue along her bottom lip. To his surprise, she opened for him. Hesitantly, he slid his tongue between her parted lips as he tilted his head to the side.
She responded wholeheartedly. Her tongue slid against his, enjoying the feeling. At the moment, there were no thoughts in her mind, save for how Kish was making her feel. No worries of battles, no goodbyes, no thought that he used to be an enemy, not even a thought of Masaya. Just the pure bliss that Kish’s gentle kiss was bringing her.
She felt her knees get weak, but Kish quickly wrapped his free arm around her waist. He pulled her against him. Not rough like she imagined he would, but softly. He cradled her to him, offering her support and showing just how precious she was to him.
Pulling back slightly, Ichigo finally broke what was probably the best kiss in her life. She watched as he slowly opened his eyes. His eyes. Gods, his big, beautiful, golden eyes. Eyes that were so full of love, passion, and sadness. Eyes that now held a tinge of hope and confusion. And it hurt, dammit. To see him looking at her that way as he held her so tenderly.
She had expected roughness, for him to be his usual demanding self. To push the boundaries. To take. Not to hold her tenderly. Not to be the first to try and pull away. Not to be so gentle and full of love.
Anger sparked in her eyes, but not solely at him. No, most was aimed at herself. Especially when she saw the hurt that flicked across his eyes when he saw her anger. She smacked his chest, “Dammit, Kish! Why now?!” She pulled away and spun around, placing a few feet of distance between them.
“Ichigo?” he questioned softly. He made no move to go to her. He stood with his arms hanging loosely at his side. He’d gone from pure bliss to heart wrenching pain within mere moments. It left him frozen and confused.
‘Of course, he had to use my name now,’ she thought bitterly. It was clear to her now that he genuinely loved her. If there had been any doubts, that kiss had proved it. He loved her. And not in a crush or puppy love sort of way. He truly, deeply loved her. He’d sacrificed everything for her. His home, his planet, his people, his life. Everything because of her. Because he loved her. What was she supposed to do now?
Keeping her back to him, she let out all her frustrations and confusion. “I don’t know what to do.” “What do you mean, Kitten?” His voice was soft, caring. And it only confused her more. She let out a sigh of frustration. “You were supposed to be rough. Be the Kish I’m used to. To try and push and take what you want from me. Instead, you were kind. Loving. It was all true wasn’t it? You really do love me?”
Kish took a hesitant step forward. He wanted to wrap the silly cat-girl in his arms and shake her, kiss her. Hell, he didn’t know what he wanted at that moment. He was so confused. So, he did what he could, he answered. “I don’t know what else I can do to prove it to you. But yes, Ichigo. It’s all true. I love you.”
She whirled on him. Tears steadily streamed down her face. “I’m so confused. I know I love Masaya, but seeing you die… It hurt! It broke my heart. And knowing you’re going to leave, and I may never see you again… That hurts too. You’ve been so different and distant that I’m already missing you. And knowing how much you love me makes it all worse.”
He couldn’t take it anymore. Her words and tears were killing him. He rushed forwards and wrapped the trembling girl in his arms. He held her tightly, one arm around her waist and his other hand ran over her soft locks. Soothing her. She buried her face against his chest, her fingers twisting in his shirt again.
“I’m sorry. So sorry. For all the pain I’ve caused you. Am still causing you. I love Masaya, but I do care about you, Kish. I think I might even love you. But I’m sorry. I’m in love with Masaya. I’m just so confused. I’m afraid I’ll never see you again. I don’t want you to go. But I know it’s not fair of me to ask you to stay. Not when I know I still love him. I don’t know what I want anymore.”
Her trembling and sob filled voice struck him to the core. So many emotions and thoughts were rushing through him. All he could do was hold her tighter. Just the fact that she would miss him and that she didn’t want him to go made his heart soar. But her pain and confusion also left him devastated. However, a glimmer of hope took root in his soul. She had said she loved him. That she cared about him. Maybe, just maybe, he had a chance after all.
A quick mental calculation revealed they still had roughly twenty to thirty minutes before he had to leave. And he did have to leave. He still had an entire planet relying on him. And she was right. As much as he wanted to stay, he couldn’t take being around her while she was still in love with him. But there was still hope. But this was something she had to figure out on her own.
Carefully, he drew away and gently wiped the tears from her cheeks. “Ichigo, Kitten… I’m sorry I’ve made this hard for you. I love you with all my heart. Nothing will ever change that. But I have to leave. But I will come back. In one year to this day. I’ll come back here. To this tree. I give you my word, I’ll be here. And then you can tell me your answer. And no matter what it is, I’ll be happy for you. Because as much as I want you to be mine, I just want you to be happy.”
Bringing a hand up, he pulled off one of his red hair bands. Gently, he undid one of her ribbons and replaced it with his band. He tucked her ribbon into his pants. “Something for us to remember each other by. Though, I will never forget you, my Kitten. And I promise to be here waiting for you in one year. If you don’t show, then I’ll leave, never to return. I love you Ichigo. Now come on, the others are waiting, and I need to leave.”
She could only nod as she wiped the last of her tears away. Then, she threw her arms around the green-haired boy and hugged him for all she was worth. “I’ll miss you. So very much. Thank you for everything. For saving my life, for loving me, and for promising to come back. And I promise, I’ll be waiting for you in a year. I can’t promise it will be with the answer you want, but I’ll be here.”
A genuine smile curved Kish’s lips. A lightness filled his heart, and he spun around, carrying her through the air. Just as her feet settled back to the ground, he teleported them back to the others.
When they arrived, she rejoined Masaya’s side. Nobody said anything about her red, puffy eyes. Nobody said anything about the smiles that were now on both her and Kish’s faces. And no one said a thing about the alien’s missing hair band that was now in her hair. They all just gathered as the three aliens stepped away to leave. But, just before they did, a familiar teasing voice broke the silence.
“Hey, Ichigo.” And before she could react, Kish teleported right in front of her and quickly stole a kiss. “Thanks for the kiss, Kitten.” His eyes were once again shimmering with mischief, even over the hint of sadness and his all too familiar smirk was once again gracing his lips. Before she could get mad, he disappeared with the others. But this time, she didn’t get mad. This time, she smiled.
Ichigo awoke to a bright sunny morning. Though it was a Saturday, the cat girl was up unusually early. She had had this day marked on her calendar for a long time. An entire year to be exact.
Smiling, she looked over to a bulletin board that contained all kinds of memories from that previous year. Photos of her friends, of Masaya, movie stubs, magazine clippings. All things that had summed up her life.
Her eyes trailed over the many objects. A group photo of the girls at the café. An invitation to one of Mint’s ballet recitals. A photo of Pudding doing tricks on a large ball in the park. A concert stub that she and Masaya had gone to. A photo of Lettuce off in her own little world while she read a stupidly thick book. A magazine clipping of an ad that Zakuro was posing in. There was a folded paper menu from the café. Even a few newspaper articles about the Mew Mews.
Ichigo sighed. This last year had been full of love, loss, friendship, and new discoveries. But there was one photo that she loved the most that was suspiciously missing from her wall of memories.
Reaching under her pillow, she pulled out a photo. It was slightly worn from a year’s worth of handling. But it still meant the world to her. It was from that day. Just after the battle and they were saying their goodbyes. Before she and Kish had spoken and before they had left.
Ryou and Keiichiro were standing in the back with their arms draped over each other’s shoulders. A huge smile on both their faces. To the far left, Zakuro stood with her arms crossed, but a slight smile tugged at her usually stoic face. Next to her stood Mint, who had her arm around her idol’s waist as she smiled brightly, even if her nose was still tilted upwards primly.
Then there was Lettuce. A light blush tinged her cheeks, for Pai hovered just behind and to the right of her. And though he still wore his emotionless mask, there was a softness in his eyes. Hovering just above the ground, sat Tart. His face was bright red but carried a smile as he tried to push Pudding off him. She had her arms wrapped tightly around his neck with the biggest smile gracing her face.
Ichigo’s smile faltered a bit as her eyes trailed over the last three in the photo. Masaya stood smiling proudly right at the camera. His arm was wrapped loosely around Ichigo’s waist. Though Ichigo herself was also looking at the camera, her smile was soft and didn’t fully reach her eyes.
Her fingertips traced over the last figure. It was a green haired, golden eyed alien, who hovered about a foot off the ground. And though his body was facing the camera, his face was tilted just slightly to the left. His golden eyes resting on the red head next to him. Eyes that glimmered with love, sadness, and a hint of jealousy.
It had been a year to this very day when she had last seen the three aliens. A year since she had last seen Kish.
Gods, did she miss him. It had been hard stepping back into a normal life. No more random predacites popping up that she had to defeat. No more running off at a moment’s notice and trying to come up with explanations for her absences. And no perverted alien appearing out of nowhere to steal a kiss. Sure, she still worked at the café, and she still saw the others regularly. But things just weren’t the same.
She mentally smacked herself. Over a year ago she would have given anything for a normal life, but now she found she missed it. Especially that smirking green haired devil. Idly, a hand drifted up to finger the red band in her hair. She never took it out except to shower or brush her hair. But it was always returned as quickly as possible. She didn’t wear her pigtails anymore, but for a single small tail that fell in front of her right ear. Much the same way as he had worn it.
Not long after they had left that day, Masaya had taken her aside and asked what she and Kish had spoken about. She’d simply said that she had thanked him for saving her and to say goodbye. It wasn’t a total lie, but it certainly wasn’t the full truth. And sweet, caring Masaya had only nodded and smiled. Believing her without a single doubt. She never spoke of what she and Kish had said. Not to anyone. Not even when the girls had asked. Simply repeating what she had told Masaya. No one but her and Kish knew what they had shared together.
Jumping out of bed, the red head quickly made her way to the bathroom. After a quick shower, she brushed her hair and replaced the red hair band. She rummaged through her closet, looking for a particular dress that she had bought just for today. She had found it months ago and had fallen in love with it.
It was a pale-yellow cotton dress that fell just above her knees. Along the neckline and bottom hem were bright red and green embroidered strawberries. Once dressed, she raced downstairs to eat a quick breakfast then packed a bag with a small blanket, a bento lunch box, a book, her cellphone, and some homework. She had no idea when he would show, only that he would be there today. So, she prepared herself for a possible long wait. With a quick goodbye to her parents, she was out the door.
She had already warned them that she would probably be gone all day. And after some fussing from her dad, he had finally relented. There was nothing that was going to keep her away from that Sakura tree. Not today.
As she walked, she thought over not only this past year, but the year before. So much had happened in just two years that it sometimes boggled her mind. She used to curse the day she became a Mew Mew, but now she embraced it. There hadn’t been any enemies to fight since the aliens left, but she still transformed occasionally just to revel in the rush of power and confidence it gave her.
The first time she did this, a panicked Ryou had called her immediately. She explained that there was nothing wrong, she just missed the feeling. He had chuckled and hung up. She had better control of her cat side now too. Her ears and tail rarely popped up for she had better control of her emotions. She was still the feisty and sometimes ditzy girl, but she now thought more before she spoke. Learned to temper her quick to surface anger. After everything she had been through, she had come out changed and a bit more mature. At least she liked to think so.
She passed by the clock tower where her first kiss had been stolen. Pausing, she glanced up at the building. She could almost see the shadow of her former enemy perched above. Those amber eyes glittering in the sunlight. A fang peeking between his lips as he smirked down at her. She really did miss him.
With a small smile, she continued on. She figured it was probably around nine or ten in the morning, so she quickened her pace. She still had no idea when he may show, and she didn’t want to risk missing him. If she did, she’d never get to see him again, and she wasn’t about to let that happen.
Finally, the large Sakura tree came into view. It’s bright pink blossoms were in full bloom. It was beautiful and perfect. Just like that day so long ago.
Her mind touched on another bittersweet memory.
It had been another of his plans to destroy the humans. Of course, she had stopped him, but it was the memory of him that day that made it bittersweet. She could remember his panic when she had gone to the tree. He had been scared for her life. He had begged her to stay away because he didn’t want her to get hurt. But she hadn’t relented. Her duty to save everyone clear in her mind.
She could hear his voice clear as day as she remembered him begging and pleading for her to leave. Again, she had denied him. It still amazed her now, just how much he had cared. They were enemies then and he had still tried to protect her. Afterwards, he had looked at her in complete awe. Gave her a genuine smile and left. She realized now that there had been no way for him to continue to fight her that day. He had respected her courage and seeing her safe, had graciously admitted defeat. Back then she had thought him a coward who was running away. She knew better now.
No, she had come to realize that he had been many things, but cowardly was not one of them. In fact, quite the opposite. He had been brave. Very brave. He had left his home and everything he knew to fight an uphill war to save his people and home. Even after being defeated countless times, he never gave up. He had even been brave enough to admit his feelings towards her. An enemy. No matter how much trouble it caused him, how much danger it put him in, or how many times she denied him. He bravely never gave up. He stood up for her against his own comrades. Saved her life even though it put his in danger.
No, that quick witted and sometimes downright silly boy had been brave.
She placed her palm gently against the tree’s trunk. ‘Here,’ she thought. Here he had leaned as she confessed her confusion. Where they had made a promise and said their private goodbyes. Fingertips rose to brush over her lips as she remembered the kiss they shared here. It was still one for the record books. Had been truly incredible. It had also felt like a betrayal to Masaya. It still did.
Sighing, she pulled out her blanket and spread it over the ground below the tree and sat down, resting her back against the rough trunk. She glanced at her phone. It was close to eleven now. Time had slipped by while she was reminiscing. Her phone seemed empty without Masha. She had left the pink furball at home. She didn’t want to panic Ryou when it would alert her to an alien presence when he showed up.
Making herself comfortable, she pulled out her homework. ‘Might as well be productive while I wait,’ she thought. It was close to two when she finally closed her math book and stretched. Her homework for the weekend was finished. Her stomach growled and she reached for her bento box. It was nothing fancy. Just some rice balls and some left-over teriyaki salmon from last night’s dinner. While she ate, her mind started to drift once again.
It seemed the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. Though all the girls had their separate lives now, they all still worked at the café. Zakuro was furthering her career and had even started acting so she only came by to work occasionally and catch up. And to everyone’s surprise, had secretly started dating Keiichiro. They wanted to keep his name and their relationship out of the spotlight so only those at the café knew and were sworn to secrecy.
Mint’s ballet career had taken off and she had been approached by many dance colleges already, as well as some ballet troops. She wanted to finish high school first, which gave her plenty of time to decide which path she would take. Her tea table was still reserved at the café.
Pudding’s father had finally returned, and they had grown closer. She had even convinced him to cancel her engagement to Yuebing. When the girls confronted her on how she managed to convince him, her reply was, “Because I love someone else, and I won’t marry someone I don’t love.” The girls dropped it after that. Well aware of who it was that Pudding loved. Pudding still worked at the café regularly and was still as hyper as always. Though, at times, she would look sad and distant when her eyes turned to the sky or when someone would order any kind of tart.
Lettuce was still one of Ichigo’s closest companions and could usually be found with her nose in a book. She’d taken to researching both ancient history as well as astrology. She’d also become quite close with Ryou, though not in a romantic sense. No, just as Pudding, her eyes would grow sad as they searched the skies. Instead, she continued to help Ryou research everything they could about both the aliens and about the Mew Mew powers themselves.
Her dear, sweet, gentle Masaya had gone away to England for college. They spoke as often as they could and still loved one another very much. Their love for one another had grown and changed over the year. Things may not be perfect now, but they were both happy. Her fingertips tapped the bell at her throat. Yes, some things change, and some don’t. The soft ring of the bell was a comfort to her still.
Packing up her homework and empty bento box, she relaxed against the tree. Her cat genes were kicking in. With a full belly and the warm sun shining down, she felt like curling up for a cat nap. She was at the tree, so she would be easy to find when he showed. Closing her eyes, she allowed herself to drift away.
She was awoken several hours later by someone softly shaking her shoulder. Her eyes snapped open. “Kish?” “Uh.. No. Sorry, Miss. I just wanted to make sure you were alright. It’s getting late and a young girl like yourself shouldn’t be out here alone.” Ichigo blinked and her eyes finally focused on the young officer crouched in front of her. “Oh uh… Sorry, sir. I must have dozed off. I’ll hurry home once I gather my stuff,” she quickly stuttered as she got to her feet. “Alright. Be safe, Miss,” the officer then stood and gave a short bow before heading off.
Folding her blanket, she stuffed it into her bag. Hiding it among the roots of the tree, Ichigo glanced around to make sure she was alone. As soon as she was sure, she summoned her cat like agility and jumped into the tree. She found a thick branch well hidden within the pink blossoms and settled down to continue to wait.
Her nerves were starting to get the best of her as she realized the sun was beginning to set. ‘Where are you?’ she wondered. Surely he would keep his promise. Wouldn’t he? He had given her his word that he would be here. She wanted to cry but pushed it aside. The day wasn’t over yet. It was only just past six. Still plenty of time for him to show.
It turned out she only had to wait another thirty minutes or so. And thank goodness because her nerves were becoming frazzled. She had sat there becoming more and more anxious and distressed until that familiar ripple in the air had caught her eye. Her heart about leapt out of her chest.
There he was, just like he promised. She didn’t make a sound. Just watched him. He looked exactly the same. Maybe an inch or two taller. Same strange clothes. Same shimmering golden eyes that seemed to glow in the setting light. Same forest green hair. But wait. One thing had changed. Where his missing hair band had been, the one she now wore, was her ribbon. It had been wrapped and wound like his band, but she could immediately recognize it as the one he had taken. If his presence here hadn’t been proof enough, then that proved without a doubt that he hadn’t forgotten about her.
A huge smile lit up her face. She watched as he spun around a couple of times, obviously looking for her. She saw his shoulders slump as he crossed his legs and sat hovering a few feet below her. He obviously thought she wasn’t coming.
Deciding to have a bit of fun for making her wait so long, she shook a nearby branch lightly. A cascade of pink petals rained down on him. He ignored it, so she did it again. This time he grumbled and shook his head, freeing his hair of the petals that had landed in it. She couldn’t help the small giggle that left her lips.
His heart sank almost the moment he arrived. ‘She’s not here,’ he thought. He had kept up the hope in his heart the entire time he’d been away. Pai had tried to tell him it was a fool’s hope, but he refused to believe him. Not after that last kiss at this tree. He knew she would be here. But after looking around, he felt his heart begin to crumble. But he sat down, there was still time. After all, his Kitten was always late. He grumbled to himself as Sakura blossoms fell around him. ‘I wish she was here now, it’s beautiful and perfect,’ he thought as he shook the petals from his hair.
Then he heard it. A sound he hadn’t heard in an awfully long time. A sound he’d recognize anywhere. She was here! Dropping to his feet, he spun around to the tree. Looking up, he spotted her right away. He could spot that fiery red hair anywhere.
A grin slid across his lips as he struck a pose with his hands on his hips, “Well this is a switch, Kitten. Usually, you’re the one looking up at me.” Ichigo couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the sparkle in those deep honeyed cat eyes. “Miss me?” he smirked. “Maybe,” she teased back. His smirk became a smile at her teasing. Floating up, he alighted on the branch before her. He sat down facing her with his legs folded.
Upon sitting, he noticed three things immediately. First, was that she was smiling. She was happy to see him. Second, she was still wearing his hair band in her hair. This made him smile brightly and his heart swell. But then he noticed something else. Something that made his heart clench in both fear and pain. She still wore the bell around her neck. The bell he had given her. Suddenly all his hope started to drain away. It seemed as though she’d made her choice. And he wasn’t it.
Ichigo watched as his eyes lost their shine. As his smile faltered. Then she realized what had caught his eye. She stopped her hand from reaching towards her bell. He knew who had given it to her. “Kish, I…”
“It’s fine, Kitten,” he interrupted her. “I always knew it was a long shot. I’m just glad I got to see you one last time. Got to see you smile. I’ve missed you. But I’m happy that you’re happy.” He turned from her as he went to stand, but her hand on his wrist stopped him.
“Wait, Kish.” He snapped his face back to hers. She had to work to suppress a gasp at the hurt and anger that was swirling in his golden eyes. “I said it’s fine. I better go. I’m sure he’s waiting for you,” he snapped. He needed to leave. His heart was shattering. And he refused to let her see him cry. But then she did something that nearly shocked him out of the tree.
Without saying a word, she reached behind her neck and undid the red ribbon. As it fell to her hand, she leaned over and dropped it into her open bag below. She did still love Masaya, but she hadn’t been in love with him for a very long time. They were still remarkably close and cared for one another, but they had gone their separate ways nearly six months ago. For her heart belonged to the boy in front of her. The boy she had waited a year to see again.
Kish was beyond shocked. ‘Did this mean…? Could it mean…?’ his thoughts were scrambled until her soft words cut through them. “I made my choice, Kish.”
“Does this mean you’ll be mine?” he stuttered, trying to speak around his rapidly beating heart. One word was all it took for the largest most genuine smile she’d ever seen light up his face. “Yes.”
Within seconds, he had jumped up and gathered the smiling girl in his arms. With arms wrapped tightly around her waist, he shot up into the sky. His joy literally lifted him and his Kitten above the trees.
The sudden flight forced a shriek from her lips and her ears and tail popped out. Her arms wound tight around his neck in fright. But her shriek didn’t last long. A pair of soft lips captured hers. A kiss that managed to top the one they had shared in front of the Sakura tree that was now below them. When he finally broke from the breath stealing kiss, his eyes shimmered as they gazed into her strawberry chocolate orbs. “Mine.” And though he hadn’t stated it as a question, she still answered in turn, “Yours.”
He laughed with a heart full of glee. “I love you, Kitten.” His laughter was infectious and she found herself joining in. “I love you too, Kish.”
Adjusting his hold, he swept an arm under her legs and held her bridal style as he spun in the air. His soft laughter carrying into the night sky. “Oh, Kitten. You don’t know how long I’ve dreamed of hearing you say those words. And Pai told me I was a fool for holding out hope. Ha! I can’t wait to rub this in his face.” She giggled at his childishness. He hadn’t changed at all.
Her fingers brushed the ribbon in his hair. “I see you’ve got a new band for your hair,” she teased. He nodded to her hair, “Just like you.” His smirk was back, and her heart missed a beat. Her arms tightened around his neck, and she nuzzled her cheek against his chest. “I’ve missed you.” “Not nearly as much as I missed you, Kitten. Not a day went by that I didn’t think of you. I was miserable. So many girls kept trying to steal kisses from me. But I saved each and every one. Only my Kitten gets my kisses. So can I have another one?”
She blushed and rolled her eyes, “Since when do you ask for a kiss?” A bark of laughter left his lips. “For once, you’re absolutely right, Kitten.” Not only did he steal another kiss, but he stole her breath away as well.
Slowly, he drifted to the ground and sat against the base of their Sakura tree with his precious Kitten cuddled in his lap. “So, tell me everything! How is your planet? Did the Mew Aqua work? How are Pai and Tart? Will they come visit too? What have you been up to? And just how many girls have been trying to kiss you?” She was excited and beyond curious to learn about everything that had been happening since he left.
He couldn’t help the cocky smirk that slid over his lips at her last question. ‘Seems like his little Kitten was jealous,’ he thought. He silenced her questions with a quick kiss. She instantly melted into his arms, and he chuckled. “Such a curious Kitten. To answer: My planet is doing amazing. The Mew Aqua has turned it into a paradise. Pai’s been working hard to rebuild our civilization. You should see our cities now. They’re beautiful. Though not as beautiful as you. And no more huddling underground in caves. Plenty of food for everyone. Tart’s also been hard at work to jump start our agriculture with his plant abilities. We work and live right alongside nature. Even our few cities are covered in greenery. You would love it, Kitten, and I can’t wait to show you. And then maybe all those other girls will finally get the hint that my heart belongs to only my Kitten.”
“You mean I could go to your planet?” she asked excitedly. “Of course, Kitten. I did promise to take you to paradise, didn’t I? We could leave right now if you want.” He was beyond ecstatic. He couldn’t wait to take her home with him and start their lives together and to show off his home to her. “Kish. I can’t leave right now. I’m still in school. But when I get out for summer vacation, I would love to visit.”
He momentarily panicked at the word visit. Did that mean she wasn’t going to come stay with him? “Visit? But I thought you were mine. I thought you were finally going to come with me.”
Ichigo quickly raced to fix the hurt she could hear in his voice. “Kish, I am yours. But I’m too young to leave yet. I still have to finish my schooling. And I still have a life here. Friends and family that I just can’t abandon. But I do love you. I chose you. Never doubt that.”
“Ok, Kitten. But what about us? You’re mine. You said so. I’m never going to let you go again. But I can’t exactly stay here. I’m an alien. Can’t hide that. Especially after all I did before, which I am sorry about.” His heart was sinking. He’d really thought that when she agreed to be his, she’d be coming home with him. If she wasn’t, then how were they going to make this work because now that she was his, he sure as hell wasn’t going to let her go. He loved and needed her too much.
Mind racing, Ichigo went over a few ideas that she’d already come up with for this scenario. Ever since she had chosen him, she’d been thinking about how to make this work. It would be hard, but she wasn’t going to give up. She loved him too much. “Well, first of all, when do you need to go back?” she asked. “Technically never. I always knew that if I was your choice that I may end up staying. But I don’t know how to. I don’t know much about your world, Kitten.”
She grinned, “Then it’s easy. You can stay at the café or even your ship if you want. There’s several spare rooms at the café and everyone there already knows you. And between me, the Mews, and the boys, we can teach you everything you need to know about Earth. And my vacation starts in a few weeks. I can go home with you to visit. I’m sure Pai and Ryou can come up with some way to disguise you to fit in here. Then in a few years, if things are still good with us, we can start discussing something permanent. Either you here or me there. But we still have a long way to go until then. I’m still young by my people’s standards.”
A smile started to creep up on Kish’s face. “You mean it, Kitten? You’d really do all that for me? For us?” “Of course, Kish. I love you. And I want this to work. It will work. If we can overcome being enemies and even death, then we can overcome anything. We waited an entire year for each other. I won’t be deterred so easily.” Kish chuckled, “Still as fiery and determined as ever, Kitten. Just one of the many things that I love about you.” He gave her a wink.
She blushed as she reached for her bag. Opening her phone, she pressed a finger to her lips for Kish to remain quiet. She tapped on her mom’s name. Quickly, she let her mom know she’d be staying at Lettuce’s house, and she’d be home tomorrow after work. A sly smirk crossed Kish’s features when he realized she’d be staying with him, not Lettuce. His grip around her waist tightened and he leaned over her shoulder to place butterfly kisses along her neck. With a squeak, Ichigo said goodnight and quickly hung up the phone. “Kish!”
“What? You’re mine remember?” he whispered into her ear. His warm breath sending shivers down her body. “I know what you’re thinking pervert. I may be yours and I do plan on staying with you tonight. But clothes are staying on. I’m only sixteen. I’m not quite ready for the next step. Even if you are. Kissing is as far as it goes for now.”
Kish pouted, “So mean, Kitten. But fine. I can wait. Doesn’t mean I can’t tease,” he said as he licked the rim of her ear. Ichigo blushed scarlet and a squeak broke free from her lips. “You’re going to be impossible,” she groaned. He grinned, “Maybe. But I promise to respect your boundaries even if I might occasionally push them.” A smile appeared on her face, “Thank you. And I’d expect nothing less from the guy that stole kisses every chance he got, tried to make me run away with him, and stalked me for almost a year.” Kish only shrugged, “I knew what I wanted, and I wanted you. And now that I have you, there’s something I need to ask you.”
Right away, Ichigo noticed the seriousness in his tone. All playfulness had left his eyes. It reminded her of when he had tried to take her away before the Blue Knight came and saved her. A small bit of fear settled in her stomach, “What?” Kish took a deep breath; his heart was pounding in his ears. He knew he should probably wait to ask, but he had sworn to himself that if she had chosen him, he would ask.
“I’ve done a little research on some human customs. And I understand you’re still young by your culture, but by mine, we’re not. I was serious back when I asked you to be my bride. I know you won’t say yes now or wear a ring because you’re too young to get engaged. But if you’re serious about us, about being mine, then there’s something from my culture I’d like to do. If you’d allow me anyway.” Nervousness and hope showed in his eyes as he locked them with hers.
“I… I’m not sure what you’re asking me,” she stuttered. She had some idea by what he said, but she couldn’t be sure. And if it was what she suspected, then she wanted to be damn sure before she answered.
“I’m asking you to be mine forever, Ichigo.” “Are… Are you asking me to m..marry you?” Her voice faltered. She’d known how much he loved her and had even made that guess from what he said earlier. However, it was still a shock to be asked.
“In a way, yes. But our customs differ slightly. Which actually works in our favor if you say yes. I know you may not be truly ready, but I am. I wanted to make you truly mine over a year ago. You wear a ring to show you’re intended to be married, correct?” Ichigo could only nod as she was still in shock. “We do things a bit differently. Since I know you won’t wear a ring because you’re too young to be engaged, even if you said yes. And I understand that you’d want to wait a few more years at least before actually getting married, but Ichigo, I’d like to ask you to marry me and do it by my custom. That way you could wear my promise stone and only us and other Cyniclons would know we’re intended.”
Ichigo could tell by the look in his eyes that he was being completely honest and serious. And as she worked through what he said, she realized what he was saying. He was proposing but was willing to wait for marriage until she was ready. However long that took. That he understood she couldn’t wear an engagement ring because it would raise too many questions about her young age. But apparently with his customs there was a way around that. She thought of it almost like a promise ring. A promise to get engaged one day then get married. It would be something just between them and other Cyniclons apparently.
“If it’s not a ring, then what’s a promise stone? And how do you get engaged in your culture?” Though her voice was timid and unsure, Kish’s heart leapt. Just the fact that she was considering it enough to ask questions made his nervousness disappear. He could almost jump for joy, but he had to remind himself that she hadn’t said yes yet. His smile grew anyways, flashing the tips of his fangs.
He held a hand out like he did when he summoned his sais, but instead of his sai, a long white, metallic box appeared in his hand. To Ichigo, it looked like the size and shape of a fancy necklace box. Pressing a latch in the middle, the lid sprang open, and he held it carefully between them. Inside, at each end of the box, was a beautiful crystal-clear diamond.
“These are promise stones.” His voice was soft. Reverent even. “If you say yes to being my intended then we’ll place our thumb in the indentions at each end of the box. A small bit of our blood will be taken and infused into the stones. They will carry our scents. Any Cyniclon or any with a strong enough sense of smell will recognize that I carry your scent and you carry mine. You see, once you truly become mine, our scents will be permanently mixed. These show that that’s our intention one day. It’s part of why I always kissed and tried to hold you. I wanted as much of my scent on you as possible. A way to mark you as mine.” A blush stained his cheeks as he lowered his eyes behind his bangs.
Ichigo couldn’t suppress her giggle, “Who knew my forward, perverted stalker could blush.” Kish blinked. “Heh. It happens. I’m not used to you being this receptive to me. Usually by this point, I’d have been kicked, scratched, slapped, or screamed at. Typically, all of that,” he grinned.
As if her emotions weren’t already all over the place with Kish’s return and now with his apparent proposal, but now he had to go and bring that up. Regret flowed through her at all the awful things she had done to Kish in the past. “I’m sorry Kish. I treated you horribly back then.”
Now, Kish being Kish, couldn’t resist the opportunity to tease his little Kitten. “Mmm. That you did, my honey. That you did. All those rejections and insults. That’s what hurt the most. But I think another one of our kisses will be apology enough.” And she did, much to his surprise. She kissed him for all she was worth. She wasn’t the shy little fourteen/fifteen-year-old of the past. She was now sixteen and completely in love with this boy. It was her turn to take his breath away.
“Wow, Kitten. I was going to say that wasn’t enough and that you should also say yes, but just wow,” he whispered breathlessly. His whole body tingled after that kiss. She pecked his cheek, “Don’t tell me I’ve rendered my cocky alien speechless. If I knew a good kiss was all it took to shut you up, I would have done it ages ago.” Kish’s laughter rolled through the night air. “Not by a long shot, honey. But I definitely can’t wait for another of those kisses. Although, feel free to shut me up like that whenever you please,” he winked and licked his lips.
Ichigo rolled her eyes. Yes, some things never change. But she loved him for it. Before she let herself get caught in either those mesmerizing golden eyes or stuck in their usual banter, she asked the question that was burning on her tongue. “So, if they aren’t rings, then what are they? They are incredibly beautiful.” She whispered the last words as her eyes drifted over the stones within the box that he still carefully held.
Love and something else shimmered in his eyes that Ichigo couldn’t quite place. But when a sly smirk slid across his face, she became worried. Not because she feared him. Oh no. That wasn’t it at all. But because she had an inkling suspicion that she wasn’t going to be pleased with his answer, however, she guessed he would be enjoying this to no end.
“We wear them in our ears,” he replied. “Oh, well, at least I already have my ears pierced,” she replied sounding relieved. His grin grew. “Not quite, Kitty-cat.” Now she was confused. “What do you mean?” His eyes glittered with hope as he licked his fang. “Say yes and I’ll show you.”
She was torn. She desperately wanted to know, her curious nature getting the better of her, but was she ready for this kind of commitment? She knew if she said yes, he’d never, under any circumstances, ever let her go. But did she mind? The more she thought about it, she realized it didn’t matter. She was hopelessly in love with this strange boy who, in turn, had loved her beyond reason. ‘Besides, it wasn’t like they were actually getting married,’ she reasoned with herself. They could always call it off if things changed between them. Though, she suddenly found herself hoping they never did.
Her next words had the boy feeling as though someone had just handed him the moon and stars. For him, they had. She was the moon and stars to him and much more. His heart thudded rapidly for a few beats before settling. An overwhelming sense of calmness and rightness settled over his soul.
“Yes, Kish. I’ll marry you.” “Someday,” she quickly added with a wink.
It took all his restraint not to tackle the poor girl. He wanted to kiss her until they were both breathless, but he held back. Barely. Instead, his arm tightened around her waist, pulling her closer to him. Their bodies now fully flush with one another. He nuzzled his nose against her neck. “Thank you,” he whispered.
His warm breath at her throat sent shivers coursing through her. But the tenderness and love in his words made her heart swell. Those words were more profound then if he had said ‘I love you.’ They touched her all the way to her core. He sounded as though she had given him his dreams. Perhaps she had.
Gently, he drew away and brought her attention back to the box. Taking her hand, he pressed her thumb to one end then did the same on the other end. She gasped as the lid snapped shut and a quick but searing heat flashed against the pad of her thumb. It felt like she had pressed down on the head of a lit match. But the pain lasted for only a second.
Kish’s eyes had never left hers. They sparkled in wonder as he watched the play of emotions flash across her features. And when the lid sprang open, his smile grew tenfold. Her eyes held so much wonder and surprise it made his heart soar.
Tearing his eyes from the beauty before him, he saw what had captivated her. He chuckled. Things couldn’t have turned out more perfectly.
Her stone had become a deep ruby. It seemed to draw the last of the remaining light and held it within. Making it look as though it was lit with fire. A perfect reflection of his fiery Kitty-cat. His stone, however, shimmered and sparkled. A bright crystalline emerald. Clear, yet still fully saturated with a beautiful bright green. Just like the love he had for the girl who had stolen his heart. Bright and open, yet all encompassing.
“Now what?” she whispered, still in awe at the beauty the stones had become.
His smile shifted back to his cheeky grin. “Now I need you to just relax. This will hurt, but only for a moment.” She pulled back and looked at him in confusion and a slight bit of fear.
He ignored her and gently set the box beside him. The arm around her waist tightened and he drew her to him yet again. His nose brushed over the sensitive skin just behind her ear. “Calm down, Kitten. I would never truly hurt you.” He felt her take a deep breath, but she still felt tense in his arms.
The tip of his tongue snaked out and licked along the shell of her ear before he started placing soft butterfly kisses to the skin behind and below her ear. Her automatic reaction was to push him away. However, his arm around her shoulder held her still. “Wha… What are you doing?” she stuttered.
He grinned at her natural reflex to shove him off. He’d have to break that habit of hers. “Relax, Kitten,” his voice was soft, yet husky with desire. He continued to lick, kiss, and nibble at her ear. When he felt her melt into his arms, he knew it was time.
The hand of the arm around her shoulders suddenly dropped down and grazed over her breast. It had the desired effect. Her attention snapped to his hand and momentarily forgot about his mouth at her ear. Instantly, he snapped a fang into her lobe just above her other piercing. Biting down quick and hard, he felt his fang pierce through her flesh.
A shriek left her lips at the sudden pain, and she tried to pull away, but his hold was solid and kept her still. “Kish!” she shouted. Withdrawing his fang, he licked her ear and loosened his hold. “All over, Kitten. Though, I could continue if you want,” he whispered with the return of his smirk.
Halfheartedly she shoved him away. Glaring at him through narrowed eyes, “A warning would have been nice. And just had to cop a feel, didn’t you?” Kish chuckled and his golden eyes glittered. “Eh, it worked. Pulled your attention away just long enough. Besides, I think my Kitten enjoyed it according to your scent.” He gave her a coy wink.
Ichigo flushed scarlet and smacked his chest, which only made him chuckle harder. “Kish…” she growled low, drawing out his name. He withdrew his hands and held them up between them. He knew he was pushing her buttons. But damn, she was sexy when she was all riled up and feisty. He was enjoying this way too much.
Reaching over, he delicately plucked the emerald from the box. “Turn your ear towards me,” he commanded, but softly. Shooting him another glare, she did as he asked. Gently, he pressed the metal post through his fang puncture. Once through, the metal post unwound into three fine silver wires, spreading out behind her ear, and pressing over the skin at the back of her ear. They anchored the stone in place.
“Mine,” he growled once the stone was firmly in place on her delicate ear. His possessiveness grew as he eyed the sparkling emerald. Golden eyes darkened with not only possessiveness but also love and hunger. He wanted her now more than ever, but he contained himself. She wasn’t ready yet. And he promised he’d wait until she was. He’d waited two years to make her his. He could wait a little longer for that. Even if he didn’t want to.
Sighing, he pulled his hands away and flicked one to the side. He saw a sudden flash of fear cross her face as he summoned his sai. He rolled his eyes, “How many times do I have to tell you, Kitten. I won’t hurt you.” Seeing her confusion, he continued, “I’ve got to pierce my ear.”
Realization dawned on her. Fingering her new piercing, which she was surprised didn’t hurt in the least, a wicked smirk slid over her lips. “You’re forgetting something,” she teased. He cocked a brow. Reaching down the front of her dress, she clasped the pendant that was tucked away in her bra. She never went anywhere without it. It was a habit to keep on her. And she was glad she did.
Pulling back, she kissed her pendant and quickly transformed. “You’re not the only one with fangs,” she smirked and licked a fang for emphasis.
Kish’s grin became wicked as her words sank in. Just the thought of her lips on his ear made his blood run hot. “Mm. I’ve felt my Kitty-cat’s claws before, but never her fangs. I think I’m going to enjoy this much more,” he said as he turned his ear towards her.
Her blush returned, “Shut it,” she whispered into his ear. When she felt his arm circle back around her waist, she flicked her tongue over the bottom edge of his ear. A satisfactory grin played over her lips when she felt him shudder. She enjoyed what she could do to him. And it seemed she’d discovered a new way to keep him quiet, for he hadn’t said a word since her lips had touched his ear. In fact, he seemed to be holding his breath.
And he was. Every fiber of Kish’s being was solely focused on the feel of her lips upon him. He was in heaven. His heart was beating so fast, he thought it would break out of his ribcage. Desire and need coursed through him once again. His Kitten was driving him over the edge. Biting his lip, he drew in a shaky breath to calm himself.
It had shocked him at first. Her offer to pierce his ear in return. But he couldn’t have been happier. He had instantly dismissed his sai and wrapped his arms around his precious Kitty-cat. Gods, he loved this girl.
She licked and kissed along his ear. Bringing a hand up, she wrapped it around the back of his neck. Her other hand was trapped between them and twisted in his shirt. Licking her way to the base of his ear, she felt her heart race.
Just as he had done, she quickly removed her hand from his shirt and slid it under its short length. As soon as she felt the cool skin of his chest under her fingertips, she bit down. Her fang piercing through his ear just as easily as his.
Shock and desire flooded his senses and a clipped husky moan mixed with a gasp left his lips. He stilled under her touch. Body completely frozen. His head was swimming, and he closed his eyes. Enjoying the feel of her touch and her teeth at his ear. When she pulled both her hands and mouth away, he almost groaned.
Opening his eyes, they locked with hers. “Such a teasing little Kitty-cat. Maybe I should return the favor? Hmn?” He licked his lips as his hand started to inch its way up her side.
Shaking her head, she stilled his hand from moving up any further. “Oh no. That was me returning your favor.” Kish pouted. “You’re no fun, Kitten.” She couldn’t help but giggle at his adorable pout. Leaning back, she let her transformation fall away. Before he could say anything else, she picked up the ruby and placed it in his ear. “There, now you’re mine as well,” she smiled.
This time, he didn’t hold back. His mouth found hers as he tackled her to the ground. Her words echoed in his head. Mine. Hers. His. Strong arms held her pinned to the soft grass. Though he was firm, he remained gentle. His body covered hers, but not once in their movements did his lips leave hers.
They were promised to one another. The stones in their ears confirmed it. She was his. He was hers. Forever. Through his kiss, he showed her just how much he loved her. Just how happy she had made him. Nothing could hold him back now. Nothing except…
She whimpered in fear and struggled against him. His suddenness had momentarily shocked and scared her. She wasn’t sure of his intentions and she was afraid he’d force himself on her. She had flashbacks of how he used to be. How demanding he could become. He’d always been overly possessive and demanding when it came to her.
Hearing her scared whimper, Kish immediately released her and drew up. “Shh. I’m sorry, Kitten. I didn’t mean to scare you. You just made me so happy. And you know how hard it is for me to resist those beautiful lips of yours.” He fell back into the habit of teasing. Hoping it would calm the frightened girl beneath him.
It worked. Instantly, she calmed, and her cheeks warmed and turned pink. Finding her hands free, she pushed against his chest. “Get off, Kish.” “But, Kitten,” he pouted. “Off,” she interrupted, pushing harder. Sighing, “Okay. Okay.” Reluctantly, Kish floated up and sat in the air next to her. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled quietly beside her.
Ichigo got to her feet and brushed off the grass that had stuck to her dress. Hearing the sincerity and dejection in his tone of voice, she turned towards him and smiled. “It’s alright, Kish. I know you won’t hurt me. Old habits die hard. Spent a year dodging your advances. Might take me a bit to get used to the fact that I want them now.” She ended with a wink and offered her hand to the boy.
Happily, he took it and rose to stand, his feet coming to rest on the ground. He looked her up and down. “You look beautiful, by the way.” She blushed and he tugged on her hand. Suddenly, she found herself wrapped in his arms in a tight embrace. He cupped her cheek and looked down at her tenderly, “May I kiss you?”
Her arms slid around his neck. She didn’t bother to answer, just drew him down to her awaiting lips.
The kiss was strong, yet gentle. Fierce, yet soft. Passionate, yet restrained. But it was completely full of love. From both sides.
Drawing back, Kish gazed lovingly down at the girl of his dreams. The girl who had chosen him against all odds. The girl who had agreed to one day marry him. Life couldn’t be better at this moment. “I love you, Ichigo.”
Even without the intensity in his eyes or the softness in his voice, Ichigo knew he was being true and honest. He’d used her name. He only did that when he was serious. And the way he said it caused her heart to flutter. All breath and soft tones. Like a prayer. Something to caress.
Her eyes became glassy with tears of happiness. “I love you too, Kish.”
He picked her up and spun her around just as he had done exactly one year ago. Both laughing in pure delight.
Placing her back upon her feet, he released her after another shared moment or two. He picked up the now empty box and with a snap of his fingers, it disappeared. His eyes once again trailed to the emerald in her ear, only it wasn’t there. Confused, movement atop her head caught his eye. Ah. Her cat ears had come out. Probably when he had pounced on her. But to his shock, his emerald sparkled at the base of one of her cat ears. Normally, any jewelry she wore in her ears vanished with her cat ears but returned when they poofed away. But his emerald had stayed.
“Your ear,” he whispered. Ichigo’s hands immediately flew to the new stone but didn’t find her ear. “Gah, my cat ears popped out. They haven’t done that in a while.” She went to cover them, but Kish caught her hands. “You never have to hide them from me, Kitten. They’re beautiful. Just like all of you. But that wasn’t what I meant. Feel.” He drew one of her hands up and pressed her fingertips to the gem.
“But… Huh?! That’s not possible. My earrings never appear on my cat ears.” He grinned slyly, “Seems like even your cat side has accepted me. Has accepted us.” “You’re just loving this, aren’t you?” she huffed with feigned annoyance. In truth, she was happy as well. “You’ve got that right, Kitten,” he purred.
By now the sun had fully set and with a quick look at her phone, she saw that it was just past eight o’clock. The café should be closed by now, so they needed to hurry to catch Ryou before he went to bed. Gathering her bag, she glanced at Kish. “Let’s head to the café, so we can talk to Ryou and Keiichiro about you staying there and about me staying the night.” She didn’t miss his grin.
He slid an arm around her waist. “Make sure it’s at the back door. Less likely to be seen,” she quickly added when she realized he meant to port them. He rolled his eyes, “I can be inconspicuous when I want to, Kitten. Used to follow you all the time and neither you nor anyone else ever noticed.” “Why does that not surprise me,” she muttered. With a grin, he teleported to the café.
They arrived at the back door and were thankfully alone. She could see that the lights were off in the main area of the café, but the kitchen and upstairs lights were still on. ‘Good. Someone was still awake,’ she thought.
Her thoughts were racing. She hadn’t told anyone about Kish’s possible return or how she felt about him. She prayed Ryou would understand. Prayed that it wouldn’t turn into one of their usual fights. Her eyes looked up at Kish whose eyes kept flicking between her and the door. He was nervous. These next moments could have a significant impact on both him and their relationship.
She took a deep breath. “Listen, Kish. I never told anyone about what we said to each other when we said goodbye. I felt like it was something private and special. So, no one knew that you were going to return. But whatever happens, know that I’m on your side. I won’t leave you.”
Kish was surprised. It wasn’t like her to hide things from her friends. A thought struck him. But he quickly dismissed it. There was no way she could be ashamed of him. After all, they were here, about to go talk to her blonde boss about him staying so they could be together. “Let me guess, you didn’t want that old boyfriend of yours to know we kissed or that you cared for me as well?”
The hurt and anger was clear in his accusation. “That had nothing to do with it!” she argued. “I told you. It was a private matter between us. And maybe… Maybe I wasn’t sure if you’d show. I didn’t want to cause a big deal and then find out you’d forgotten about me or possibly moved on.” Her voice had continued to get gradually softer as she spoke. Until her last words were barely a whisper as she dropped her eyes to the ground.
His heart softened. Placing his fingers around her jaw, he raised her eyes to his. “As you can see, I didn’t forget you or move on. I love you, Ichigo. I would have waited until the end of time for you. No one could have replaced my Kitty-cat.” He swooped down and captured her lips in a quick kiss.
Gaining back her confidence, she swallowed her nervousness. “Then are you ready to start the rest of our lives?” “Kitten, I was ready more than a year ago. And we started our lives together when you said yes,” he nodded to the emerald in her now human ear. She smiled, “I suppose your right.” “I usually am,” he smirked.
Heart thudding in her chest, she went to open the door. Before she did, Kish had taken her hand in his. He smiled down at her. Instantly she calmed and pushed open the door.
Whatever happened, they’d face it together. He loved her more than anything. He’d proven that time and time again. Was showing her now through the reassuring warmth of his hand in hers. He’d be at her side no matter what. And her love for him had grown this past year. Absence really did make the heart grow fonder. With him at her side, there was nothing they couldn’t face. He was a powerful and gifted alien. She was a fierce cat-girl and a Mew Mew. Yes, they could handle anything, especially together.
Squaring her shoulders and gripping Kish’s hand tightly, they walked into the café and towards their future. Together.
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