Crown of Thorns

The war was something that she never desired, but her birthright as a daughter of the Yagari family forced her to be a part of it. She killed level Est and slowly destroyed herself until the night her life was saved. Salvation was a distant dream, but maybe it was closer than she had originally believed.

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26. Your Move

The door was thrown open. She jumped, startled by the sudden entrance. Grabbing a knife, she took a step towards the hall only to stop when she saw Kenta. "Kenta... What are you doing coming in here like that." She put the knife down though she was half tempted to throw it at him. Casting him a dark look, she then returned to washing dishes. She heard the floor creak under his heavy steps. He had not taken his boots off and she had just washed the floor. Sighing in exasperation, she turned to tell him to get a bucket of water and the brush when she found herself wrapped up in his embrace. His lips pressed firmly against hers, cutting off any words that she might have said.

"You're brother has much to learn."

He had caught her off guard in more ways than one. She didn't respond to him immediately, attempting to figure out her thoughts. "What?" Kenta seemed to angry about whatever issue with her brother that he had. "When did you see, Toga?"

"Toga was my mission partner."

Kenta was pouring himself a drink now. She was tempted to take the bottle away from him, but decided against it. "How is he?" He didn't answer her. Instead he looked at her in such a way that made her uncomfortable. "Kenta."

"You miss him."

"Of course I do. Toga is my brother." He frowned and she was forced to wonder what had happened. Had Toga done something? She liked to think that he would not. His gaze flicked to her as he sipped from his glass. She didn't much like the way that he looked at her.

"You and your brother were close."

"Of course we are close." Why had he used the past tense? He chuckled in such a manner that put her edge. Was he trying to imply something? Yes, he was. She was certain of it. "Kenta-"

He drained his glass and set it down. "I am going to shower."

She frowned after him. When she heard the water turn on she threw the towel to the floor. Muttering a series of oaths under her breath, she went to find the brush and bucket.

 

Scrubbing the floor had done little to relieve her frustration. Kenta had come and gone again. Neither of them had spoken to each other. She debated locking the house door, but decided against it. If he was in a mood like hers or worse she did not like the idea of having the door broken down. When she finished re-cleaning the kitchen she then proceeded to take his bottle of liquor and dump it into the dead garden. The rice wine had followed. With some satisfaction, she had sat down outside. At least the trees were alive. The shade provided her some comfort from the heat.

Shiriko was not certain if she should be angry or hurt that Kenta had made such an implication about she and Toga. Both she supposed. The very fact that he had brought the matter up had disgusted her. She was happy that Kenta had gone and was in no rush to see him return. In time she was certain that she would miss him. Yes, she had grown fond of him over the past few months. That did nothing to excuse him though. She would make certain that he knew that she was not happy until this had past.

"Shiriko-san!"

Ren was the last person who she wanted to see. She bit her lower lip to keep herself from telling the woman to go away. "Hello, Ren-san. Are you well?"

"My knees are aching, but I am well enough."

She was not surprised when her state of being was not asked about. To her own dislike Ren left the road and walked over to where she sat.

"I have been in town all day and I am in need of a cup of tea."

Ren had the nerve to ask her to make tea for her. She resisted the urge to tell her to go away and to make her own tea. Politeness was needed. The woman was from a different generation from she. "I will make you some tea, Ren-san. Is lavender all right?"

"Lavender is fine."

Her expression suggested otherwise, but she ignored that fact. Standing up, she brushed her clothes off before entering the house. Ren followed after her. Thankfully, she took her slippers off. She took her basket from her and set it down before going to make the tea. Ren had seated herself at the kitchen table. When she glanced at the woman she could see her inspecting the house. To her own relief she did not walk through each of the rooms. "Here you go," she said, bringing her a steaming cup.

"Thank you." She took a sip and then nodded to herself. "You have a nice home."

"That is kind of you, Ren-san."

"You might add a bit more decoration to it though."

She should have expected as much. "I suppose. Kenta and I have not yet had a chance to do so."

"I passed Kenta on the road."

Biting back an exasperated sigh, she waited for what was to come next.

"He seemed angry. Did you two have a fight?"

"No. He was just upset from his trip."

"Is that so?"

"Yes." Ren appeared disappointed from the lack of information or she did not believe what it was that she had told her. Maybe she knew that she had not told her everything.

"Does Kenta know about your family's history?"

"Yes," she said after taking a deep breath. "He also knows fact from rumor." Ren didn't miss the implication of her words if she correctly judged the frown.

She sniffed. "I am certain that he does."

Now she smiled; pleased by the offense that she had caused. In her opinion this was only fair. The woman had the gall to insult her family. Besides, she was only playing her game.

"Well, I should be on my way."

She stood and followed Ren out of the house. They exchanged the necessary farewells. Ren did not invite her to tea. Hopefully this visit had put an end to any further interaction with the woman. She was certain that some rumor would rise about her in town. That didn't matter to her. This place was in no danger from vampires. As far as she was concerned there was no reason for her to be bothered with anything involving the town or Ren. Isolating herself as she had at home would work quite well for her. Though, she would have to make a request to the council for more missions. She was not in much mood to spend any more time with Kenta than what was necessary.

 

Dear Toga,

I hope that you are well

Kenta returned home. He said that he had a mission with you. Please take care if you are with him again.

Always,

Shiriko

She was trying to protect him from Kenta. He was almost offended. They both knew very well that he was capable of protecting himself. Maybe this was a warning. Had Kenta said more than just what she had written? Had Kenta made a threat against him? Perhaps she was just trying to keep the peace. No, she was trying to keep him safe. This he was certain of. He frowned to himself, pondering what more lay in the letter as he returned the letter to its envelope. Was she safe? He hoped so. Kenta had expressed some level of fondness for her. Still...

He pulled out some paper and prepared to write his response. However, he stopped. If Kenta found the letter... He set the pen down. Things would be better off if he stayed silent.

 

Kenta had returned the next day. He had come to bed, but they slept with their backs to each other. She was awake before he was. When they were around each other they did not speak. When he did eat breakfast with her he normally left immediately afterwards or would he would just leave immediately after waking. She didn't much care. Yes, to some degree she did miss him. However, she could not be bothered by such emotions. The council had still not responded to her letter and she needed to make them give her more missions. Toga was silent too. That bothered her. She missed him and wanted some form of connection with him. Of course, their father could have intercepted the letter and Toga may not have received it all.

By the following week they were still not speaking with each other. Kenta disappeared for almost two weeks. She supposed that he had taken to renting a room in town or he had been assigned a mission. The former seemed more likely. Then he returned.

When he had walked through the door she was tempted to approach him and greet him; maybe even kiss him. She had begun to grow lonely and miss the companionship that he had offered. While she had one or two visits during his absence, that had only been enough to distract her until enough days had passed when she was completely alone. She did not greet him though. Something about him seemed different. Leaning against the table, she folded her arms and studied him. He appeared... restless. A light was in his eyes existed that was different from anything she had seen before. "What is it, Kenta?"

"You will give me an heir."

The impact of one person on another life was great. The slightest change could open the flood gates and shift events from what they were supposed to be. There were no guarantees though. Intervention could be by chance or could be predetermined. No matter how events came about and the possible outcomes there was only the fact that it had happened.

"Consider what I offer you."

"Very well." Her answer seemed to have taken Kenta off guard. For a moment it seemed as though he had hesitated as if her agreement had made him uncertain as to how to proceed. She may have very well have imagined that though as he smirked and eagerly pressed his body against hers. No, she had certainly not imagined it. She would pretend that she had not noticed his uncertainty. There was no reason to recognize its existence.

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