"Why not?" Rika shouted, anger clear in her voice. Her arms were crossed over her chest and her black attire, complete with a small black ribbon on her head, a beautifully intricate lacy black dress, and knee-high black boots, only helped accentuate the dark cloud of menace that surrounded her.
Meeting her glare head on, Kaede's icy cold stare showed no response to her childish anger. "Give it a rest Rika. Why would I ever want to buy you chocolates? For something as disgusting as Valentine's Day too. It's a human holiday; why are you so insistent on celebrating it?"
"Because it's for us, as in you and me." She hissed, turning her head to the side as she broke off eye contact with Kaede. She had never been able to hold his gaze for too long without looking away; there was always something in those deep emerald eyes that whispered at you to walk away, to run, or to hide in fear of him. She shuddered involuntarily as she looked around the dark alley.
With only a single street lamp at the edge of the street, the place where they were standing wasn't very bright. After Rika's insistence on having a "serious talk", she had dragged a reluctant Kaede to an alley with a dead end, cut off by a solid brick wall that was covered with bright colours and graffiti words. Leaning against the spray painted wall, Rika had presented her case, which was of "utmost importance" to her, but actually just a nuisance for Kaede.
"There is no us." Kaede snapped, his harsh words pulling Rika out of her daze. The finality of his words hurt Rika, and before she had a chance to say anything, Kaede turned around and began to walk away.
"Wait!" She cried, reaching out to grab his arm. "I ―"
Before her hand touched him, his arm became a blur and suddenly, he had a firm grip on her wrist, effectively preventing it from holding onto him. "Stop it, Rika." Kaede said, his voice deepening just little, making it sound like an order. "Go find Hibiki if you're looking for some chocolates to receive."
With a last look of warning, he let go of her hand and stepped back, only to be embraced by the darkness as he disappeared into the shadows.
Stunned, Rika's eyes were still concentrated on where Kaede last stood until her arms dropped to her sides and her hands curled into fists. Hurt was replaced by resentment, and she quickly wiped away the water in her eyes.
"Fine!" She mumbled, turning around to face the end of the alley. "If that's the way you want it, then that's how you'll get it."
Leaving those last bitter words to hang in the air, she walked straight to the wall, and vanished into the darkness.
In the end, she decided to follow him anyway.
It was hard, trying to hold up to her own words, but she was uneasy, had a woman's intuition as they would call it, that wherever Kaede was going wasn't good.
Turns out she was right after all.
Upon following Kaede, Rika realized that he wasn't going back home, he wasn't going to find the twins, and he wasn't going out on another mission for his father either; he was going to find that girl.
Rika's face curled up into a grimace when it became evident which path Kaede was taking. He must be ambushing her, she thought at first, slipping in and out of the shadows as she kept up with Kaede's pace. That was the only possible reason why Kaede would ever find someone during the middle of the night.
But somewhere in the back of Rika's mind, she knew this wasn't the case. He could sense her following him, she was sure of that. So if he wanted to ambush her, he would've called her to get her in on it as well.
But he didn't.
That left only two other options: he was either doing this on purpose to piss her off, or he actually wanted to see that girl.
No, she thought, with a certainty that seemed to be for persuading herself. He can't be. Not with her.
Unwilling to stay and find out, Rika stopped her pursuit and stepped back into the shadows, only to walk into a large, dark room.
"Hibiki." She breathed, hands automatically reaching forward. Even with her eyes still adjusting to the darkness, she knew that her palms would hit Hibiki's chest, and that his hands would smoothly curl around her waist in return.
"Hmm? What brought you to me, Rika?" He asked, pulling her close as he brought his lips down to her neck. "Was Kaede mean to you again?"
Her hands clenched into fists then, and Rika struggled to remain calm. "I don't want to talk about him." She growled, pushing away from Hibiki just a little.
He looked up at her now, curiousity and wonder evident in his light brown eyes. "Make me forget, Hibiki." Rika murmured, distracting him and effectively changing the topic. She held his gaze and hoped that he could see the need reflected in her own chocolate orbs. "Like you always do."
Though there was a crease in the middle of his forehead, an obvious sign that he was still thinking about it, before the corners of his lips turned up into a smile. Bringing his right hand up to her face, he gently tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "Of course my princess, anything for you."
Leaning in once more, Hibiki settled for a teasing kiss as he ran his lips down Rika's jaw, smothering her with kisses the entire way. He stopped right before reaching her lips though, and she hissed in response.
"What? Can't make it a little hard for you?" He chuckled, making her close that last centimeter that brought their lips together.
At first it was just a few light kisses, and Rika kept her hands on the plane of Hibiki's back as he trailed down to her neck, giving her a peck here and there as he marked her as his.
But this wasn't enough. Rika wanted more.
Fuelled by anger at Kaede and the need to just be
needed, Rika moved away from Hibiki so that as soon as he looked back up at her, she could kiss him again.
And then some more.
She kissed Hibiki aggressively and hungrily, pushing him back until they both fell onto Hibiki's bed. Her long black hair was sprawled across the blanket as she laid flat on the mattress, Hibiki looming over her.
Reaching her hands up, Rika wrapped her arms around Hibiki's neck and pulled at him, trying to bring him down as she was eager to recapture his lips once more.
But he stayed up.
Flexing his arms against the force that was trying to pull him down, Hibiki refused Rika's attempted advance, although it was obvious by the look on his face how much this was costing him.
"Are you sure about this Rika?" He asked, a hard and unfamiliar tone in his voice.
Rika narrowed her eyes at Hibiki's refusal. "What are you talking about?"
"I mean this!" He declared, giving her an once-over with his eyes and before staring at her with a pointed look. "I mean us!"
"And what about it?" Rika hissed, irritation evident in her voice. She let her hands drop, and proceeded to cover her eyes with her arms. "You want me, and since you're useful to me, I let you. Isn't that how things always are?"
Hibiki sighed, pushing himself up and off Rika into a sitting position to her right. "They are
or rather, they were, but I can't do this anymore."
"Why not?!" She shouted, her voice slipping a little to reveal the hurt that was supposed to be masked by rage. "I know you still want me
so why not?!"
"Because I can't stand seeing you like this anymore." Hibiki confessed, as he pulled up his knees to rest his arms and chin. "I don't want to see you hurt by Kaede again and again."
A dry and painful laugh came from Rika. "So you don't want to see me hurt by Kaede? Then why are you hurting me too? Why must you reject me just like he does?"
"Rika, Rika, Rika
" Hibiki crooned, turning around and placing a delicate hand on the arms that were still covering Rika's face. "I don't want you to have to constantly divide yourself between heart and soul just because you can only get comfort for one. I want you, you're right about that, but I want all of you."
The room stayed silent as Hibiki waited for Rika's response. When it became obvious that she wasn't going to ― or more likely, couldn't bring herself to ― respond to Hibiki's confession, he droned on silently, letting loose all the feelings he's kept bottled up.
"I'm always here, you know? I've always been here for you; whenever you needed me, I was ready to comfort and support you at any time." He cast a sorrowful look down at Rika, albeit she could not see it. "But you've never even looked at me. As soon as I've fulfilled my 'use' to you, you throw me away. Your eyes were always only concentrated on him, on Kaede."
"It's just how it's always been." She whispered, speaking at last, though her voice was so light it was barely audible. "I can't help myself from loving him; you know that."
"It doesn't have to be that way." He said soothingly, tracing her arm till his fingers touched hers. "You don't have to keep going through this cycle of suffering and comforting. You deserve better Rika, and we both know that."
"And you're saying that you're better?"
Hibiki sucked in a deep breath before meeting up to her challenge. "Yes. I believe that ― no, I know for a fact that ― I'm better."
Twining his fingers together with hers, he gently pulled her arm up so that he could kiss the back of her hand. "I would never hurt you like Kaede does; I would never hurt you at all. Period. I have and always will comfort you, support you, and be beside you. Other people promise their lovers to be there when they need them but I won't do that for you. You won't ever need anything in the first place
because I'm here."
"Why?" She muttered, confusion apparent in her voice as her breath caught in her throat. "Why are you doing this?"
"Because," He smiled, squeezing her hand lightly with his fingers. "I don't want to see you suffer anymore. Like I said, a girl as wonderful as you shouldn't have to put up with Kaede. You could have so much more and so much better, and I want to be the one to give that to you. I love you, Rika, more than anyone ever will."
There was another bout of silence as Rika took in Hibiki's confession, and when she finally spoke, her words came out with confirmed conviction. "But I can't do it." Rika cried, as she painstakingly removed the arm covering her face to reveal the tears that were spilling from her eyes. "I can't make Kaede love me, but I can't not love him either."
Pulling her hand free from Hibiki's, she rolled so that her body faced the wall. "And
I can't make myself love you."
She knew how mind-shattering that last line would be for him, but Rika had to say it. Even though Hibiki was making her choose like this, she owed it to him, after all he's done for her and all that they've been through together, to either choose him or break it off completely.
And break it off she did.
The pain on Hibiki's face was one that could not be put into words, and Rika seemed to know that if she saw it, then her resolve might waver. Not in giving up on Kaede, but in continuing this romance she had with Hibiki that was only for her gain. With her back to him, Rika couldn't see it when Hibiki's heart broke into a million pieces on his face, didn't notice how hard it was for him to cover it all up with a standard smile, and failed to realize how this wasn't going as he thought it would.
It took all he could to summon up enough strength to bury his hurt, and still Hibiki refused to admit defeat. "Maybe not right now, but I'll keep trying. I know I can make you love me one day."
The poker face he had on never wavered as he reached into his pocket to pull out a silver necklace with a small crow charm. Reaching over Rika's curled up body, Hibiki placed the necklace in front of her before getting up to leave. He looked back once more as he closed the door, leaving one last word hanging in the air.
"Happy Valentine's Day."