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To Find a Path: The Uncertainty of Decisions

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Even though he normally hated getting up early, the next morning, Ryo opened his eyes and carefully crept out of bed. He looked over to see that Kaori was still fast asleep and he grinned at the sight. He pulled the blankets over her, tucking her into them, and watched as she settled into an even deeper sleep.

He then giggled quietly and snuck out of the room, ready to execute his plan.


 

Some time later, Ryo reappeared in his bedroom and was pleased to see Kaori just starting to stir. He walked over to the bed with a huge tray in his hands and sat down next to her.

“Good morning, Kaori-chan,” he beamed at her. Kaori blinked and yawned as she turned toward him.

“Ryo?! What’s all this?” she asked. Ryo smiled again and pulled the tray closer to her. Kaori’s eyes widened at the array of food perched on it.

“What does it look like?” he laughed. “It’s our breakfast. So go ahead and eat up. We’re going to need lots of energy for today.”

“Ryo…you actually made me breakfast?” she asked, confused. “And brought it to me in bed?” She blushed at him with a smile on her face which made Ryo cough in embarrassment.

“Well you were still asleep, and the professor said you needed plenty of rest,” he said. “And I was hungry and didn’t want to wait.” Kaori chuckled and kissed his cheek.

“Thank you, Ryo,” she said. “It’s lovely.” Ryo’s face softened into a smile at the adoration in her voice.

“Great, so let’s eat,” he replied. The two of them reached for their plates and started in on their food. Ryo quickly finished his own meal while Kaori took her time, savoring the moment.

Her eyebrows arched up, however, when she took a closer look at him and realized that he was probably naked underneath the bed sheet. A disturbing thought came to her mind.

“Ryo,” she said. “Tell me that you were wearing clothes while you made all this food.”

“Why?” Ryo asked. “Do you actually need clothes while making food?” Kaori sighed and put her face in her hand.

“Then, at least tell me that you made sure that there were no open curtains while you were cooking,” she said.

“Hmm, I think they were all closed,” Ryo said, putting a finger to his chin while looking upward. “I mean, I didn’t actually check them all….so who knows.”

Ryo laughed again and Kaori’s sighs grew even more pronounced.

“I’m going to get a bunch of phone calls from the neighbors today, aren’t I?” she asked.

“Don’t worry about that, Kaori,” he grinned with an evil glint in his eyes. “It’s not like you’ll be answering the phone today…what with all the phones on this floor being disconnected and all.”

Kaori lifted her head in surprise and immediately reached over for the phone beside the bed. Sure enough, when she picked it up, the line was dead.

“Ryo, did you do this?” she asked. Ryo giggled again.

“Just making sure that you won’t be distracted today,” he said. “Go ahead and finish your breakfast.”

Kaori gave him a suspicious look while she finished her food. Once she was done, Ryo picked up the tray and sat it on top of his dressers. It was then that she frowned at him.

“What’s going on, Ryo?” she asked. “You never do things like make me breakfast. You have something in mind, don’t you?”

“Just keeping a promise that I made to myself at one point during this last case,” he said, reaching over to embrace her.

“What promise was this, exactly?” Kaori asked. Ryo laughed and lowered her down onto her back.

“I promised myself that you’d be spending a day with me in bed,” he said. “So now it’s time for me to make good on that promise.” Ryo kissed her, but Kaori pushed his face away afterwards.

“Ryo! What kind of a promise is that?” she asked. “Wait, are you saying that you made me breakfast just so I wouldn’t get out of bed?”

“You’re catching on,” he said, his grin becoming far more predatory. He leaned toward her, but Kaori put her palm in his face again.

“This is ridiculous,” she said. “You can’t possibly mean that you want me to spend the entire day in bed with you.” Ryo moved his head around her hand and kissed her neck.

“Kaori, what part of insatiable did you forget about in regards to me?” he asked between kisses.

“I have to get up to check the board before long.”

“No you don’t,” Ryo told her. “Kasumi-chan owed me a favor, so she’ll be checking the board today and she will let us know later if there was anything there.”

“Well…but…I have to get to the chores at some point….”

“Already taken care of. As it turns out, you keep the place pretty spotless, so there was hardly anything to do.”

“Please don’t tell me that you were naked while you were doing the cleaning too.”

“And what if I was?” Ryo said with a lecherous smirk. “You definitely should try it yourself some time.”

Kaori sighed even louder and put her face back into her palm.

“How did I end up with such a hopeless pervert?” she asked herself aloud. “So, is all this your way of telling me that I’m going to be your mokkori target from now on?” Ryo reached down and removed her hand from her face.

“What I want…what I need from you and what I want to give you goes beyond mokkori,” he said. “Certainly mokkori is part of it, but it’s more than that. So much more.”

Kaori blushed and smiled at him as she started to understand what he was trying to tell her.  She put her hand in his hair and pulled him toward her so she could kiss him.

“Maybe…maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to take one day off,” she said as their lips parted.

“Of course not,” Ryo smiled.

“I can’t believe I’m doing something like this,” Kaori said. “You’re a terrible influence on me, Ryo. I swear, it’s as if you are actually trying to make me as decadent as you.”

“Perhaps,” he chuckled. “How am I doing so far?”

Kaori smirked at him but chose to answer with another kiss. Ryo smiled to himself as he realized that the time for conversation was over.

Now it was time for them to communicate their feelings without words.


 

A couple hours later, Ryo lie awake in bed, holding Kaori close to him. He was a little tired again after the energetic time he had just spent with her, but that was overshadowed by an overall feeling of contentment. Normally, he didn’t like to stay in one place for too long, preferring to remain active and always having something to do. He was bemused to discover how serene he felt simply holding Kaori while lying next to her. He then pondered how being in an actual relationship with Kaori continued to be full of surprises for him.

“Hey Ryo, what are you thinking about?”

Ryo looked over to see her staring at him. He smiled at her for a second before his expression became more serious.

“Kaori, I’m going to have a talk with Umibozu and Miki-chan,” he said. “I’m going to ask Miki-chan to teach you more about how to defend yourself in hand-to-hand combat and I’m going to ask Umi-chan to teach you more about traps and how to better handle that bazooka you seem to be so fond of.”

“Ryo? Are you….?”

“I am going to do everything within my power to protect you,” he continued. “But the fact remains that I can’t be with you every second of every day. I need to know that you can take care of yourself when I am not around. This is something I should have done before now, and I am sorry for that.”

 Kaori started to smile, but that smile vanished when she saw the hard glint in Ryo’s eyes.

“There is one thing though,” he said, his tone grave. “I am not going to teach you how to use a gun. You already know the basics and that’s all you need. And I am not going to allow Umi-chan or Miki-chan to do it either, so don’t bother asking them.”

“Ryo,” Kaori gasped. “How can I be your partner if I don’t learn how to better handle a gun?”

“You’ve already been my partner for over five years with your current level of gun skills,” he replied. “And it has worked out just fine. End of discussion.”

“Wait a minute,” Kaori said. “What do you mean by that? What are you thinking, telling me that I….?”

“I already explained this to you,” Ryo interrupted. “I do not want you to become someone like me. Even if you are my partner, I will not let you dirty your hands. Makimura never wanted that for you…and neither do I.”

“Now you sound like Sayuri-san,” she replied. “I’m not going to learn to use a gun to kill people. I just want to be able to defend myself and you and our clients if need be.”

“There are other ways to defend yourself, and that is what you are going to learn,” Ryo replied. He then reached over to cradle her closer to him while making sure to still look her in the eye.

“Listen to me, Kaori,” he said, his tone gentle despite his serious expression.  “This is something I happen to know a lot about. It is not a simple thing: taking someone’s life.  Do you understand? I have learned to deal with it because I had no other options. But it is a difficult burden to carry and, honestly, it is something that will follow me for the rest of my life. And it is not the kind of burden I would ever wish for you.”

Ryo ran his hand along Kaori’s face, soaking in the warmth from her body through his fingertips.

“You know how skilled Saeko is,” he added.  “And yet even she has mentioned to me that she is not always confident in her ability to consistently miss vital organs when shooting at someone. She is very aware that she runs the risk of killing someone in the course of her job, and thus she has to work even harder to be vigilant when she uses her gun both on and off duty.”

“I see,” Kaori mumbled. “That’s part of the reason why Saeko-san always talks about how good you are, isn’t it? It’s not just because of how fast you are or things like your one-hole-shot. It’s because you always have the option to not kill someone when you shoot at them…because you are always in control of every single bullet you fire.”

“Exactly,” he nodded. “The fact is, there are not many people out there who have that level of skill. I had to be trained from childhood in order to get to that level.”

Kaori lowered her eyes at that statement, her expression somber. Ryo knew that she felt bad about the kind of childhood he had had, and while he never wanted to be pitied, he was always touched at how much Kaori tried empathized with him and his feelings.

“I understand,” she said, still not looking up. “You don’t want me to learn more because there is always the chance that I could kill someone by accident even if I never intend to murder anyone.”

Ryo nodded again and watched as Kaori took a deep breath before looking back up at him.

“All right, Ryo,” she said. “I’ll focus on the things that Umibozu-san and Miki-san can teach me. But…I still plan on carrying my brother’s gun. I still need to be able use it, if for no other reason than to make sure that you never have to shoot a woman.”

Ryo’s mouth dropped open as she snuggled closer to him.

“I don’t completely understand it,” she said. “But I’ve known for a while now that, if you had to shoot at a woman, it would affect you far more than usual. And just like how you don’t want me to experience the burden of killing someone, I don’t want you to have to cross the line you have created for yourself. If it comes to that, I will protect you, Ryo...just like I did with Emi.”

“All right,” he smiled at her. “That is fair enough…partner.”

Kaori smiled back and the two of them embraced again, sharing several kisses before taking a break. Kaori touched his face one last time before extracting herself from his arms and grabbing one of Ryo’s shirts which he had tossed onto the floor.

“I’m going to take a shower,” she said as she slipped it on and stood up from the bed.

“That’s fine,” Ryo nodded.

“Really?” Kaori said. “I’m surprised. I figured that you’d protest my going off to do anything by myself during your special ‘mokkori day’.”

“You underestimate me, Kaori,” he giggled. “What makes you think that you’ll be alone while you take that shower?”

“You’re taking this mokkori day a little too seriously, aren’t you?” Kaori said, narrowing her eyes at him.

Ryo flung the sheets aside and jumped to his feet, rushing over to hold her from behind.

“Maybe I am,” Ryo chuckled into her ear. “But I can’t help myself. I had to wait years to be able to have these moments with you. And now that I have them, I can’t get enough of them. I know that it can’t be this way all the time, but I’m asking you to please give me this one day. Give me this one day to mokkori with you…to go beyond mokkori with you…without restraint.”

“Ryo,” Kaori said, placing her hands over his. “It may not be all the time, but it won’t just be today. There will be plenty of other times in the future, I promise. Don’t feel like you have to get in as much as you can today out of fear of not knowing when your next chance will be.”

“Oh, so are you admitting that you are after my body too?” he smirked at her. “And that maybe you are enjoying this as much as I am?” Kaori turned bright red and scowled.

“Do not think for one second that I am a pervert like you,” she said. “It’s just that I…I love… being this way with you…having you so close and….” Ryo kissed her ear.

“I know,” he said, squeezing her waist. “I know because it’s the same for me, Kaori.” He let out a sigh and closed his eyes for a second before giggling and letting his hands wander.

“Now, weren’t you saying something about a shower?” he chortled. “I was thinking about how that sounds like a great idea for the both of us.”

“Just how far are you going to take this?” Kaori sighed. “You know, we will need to eat again at some point and there’s hardly anything in the cupboards.”

“That’s why things like delivery exist,” Ryo replied. “Problem solved.”

“You better put some clothes on for when the food arrives,” she said, turning her head to glare at him.

“Of course,” Ryo frowned. “I don’t want to be nude in front of some delivery guy.” Ryo’s frown soon shifted to a smile, however, and he began to laugh again.

“Although…I suppose there is a chance that it could be a woman,” he said, drool appearing in the corner of his mouth. “And then it could turn into a mokkori delivery. So maybe….”

“Ryo!”

“Wait…wait a minute there shouldn’t be a hammer on mokkori day.”

“Hold still, Ryo!

“Forgive me, Kaori…I was just kidding…I’ll put some clothes on, I swear…”


 

A few hours, and one hammer strike, later Ryo and Kaori decided to leave the apartment. By this point it was late evening and while they had enjoyed their intimate day together, they were both feeling restless and decided to wander around Shinjuku for a while.

One of the first stops they made was the Cat’s Eye café. As they walked in, they saw Miki and Umibozu behind the counter with Saeko and Kasumi sitting next to each other on the stools in front of it.

“Hi everyone,” Ryo said, waving his hand.

“Ah, Saeba-san, Kaori-san, good to see you,” Miki smiled. “Kaori-san, are you feeling better today? I heard about what happened with your client.”

“Thank you, I’m fine,” Kaori said. “I just had a bump on the head and some bruises. Nothing serious.”

“Ryo, Kaori-san, you’ll be glad to know that we managed to arrest Emi Sugisaki for Emi Kushida’s murder and for the murder of her brother, Akito,” Saeko said. “She eventually confessed to both crimes. I guess she had been under a mental strain ever since her brother, Jiro, died and had finally snapped under the pressure and grief.”

“Poor Emi-san,” Kaori said. Ryo goggled at her.

“Really?” he said. “She did try to kill you.”

“I know,” Kaori said. “But still, it’s sad to think about how grief over losing a family can twist a person up inside. Looking back on it, I don’t know if she even realized what she was doing when she shot her brother, Akito. All she could see was her own pain.”

Ryo smiled slightly and put a hand on her shoulder. Kaori’s generosity never ceased to amaze him, and at this moment, he felt tremendously lucky that he was the one who was at the center of her heart.

“I’m surprised that you aren’t a little regretful too, Ryo,” Saeko said. “On the surface, at least, she seemed like your type.”

“On the surface, maybe,” Ryo nodded sagely, putting a hand to his chin.

“You’re giving him too much credit, Saeko-san,” Kaori smirked at him. “As far as this pervert is concerned, every woman is his type.”

“That’s not true, Kaori-kun,” he said, waving a finger at her. “My type just happens to cover a lot of ground. After all, much like how there are many delicious flavors of ice cream, there are many delicious varieties of mokkori. It’s the dream of every man to sample them all.”

Ryo then grinned and bounced over to grab Kasumi’s hands.

“So how about I start with your flavor, Kasumi-chan,” he laughed. “You can tell me about the mokkori client you lined up for me and then we can….”

“Ryo, aren’t you forgetting something?” Kaori said with a forced smile, a hammer appearing in her hands. “Like who your partner actually is?” Ryo let Kasumi’s hands go and held his own hands over his head.

“Sorry about that, Kaori-sama,” he said. “I didn’t mean it, I swear.”

“And what was that about sampling every flavor of mokkori out there?” she said as she started to chase him. “Maybe you would like to sample all the flavors of my hammers.”

“I don’t want any samples of that,” he screeched as he ran out of the café. Kaori ran out after him, while the rest of them watched them leave with amused stares.

“Do they actually think that they are fooling us?” Saeko said, shaking her head.

“Ah, so you saw it too,” Miki smiled. “Did you see it Falcon?”

“Of course,” Umibozu said, his face turning red. “I am a professional.” Miki laughed and put an arm on his shoulder, causing steam to rise from his head.

“What are all of you talking about?” Kasumi said. “I didn’t notice anything different.”

“You didn’t notice the way Ryo looked at Kaori-san at one point?” Saeko said. “Or the expression Kaori-san had on her face when she walked in here, holding Ryo’s arm?”

“I did notice that,” Kasumi said. “But I…wait a minute, are you saying that they…?”

“Yes,” Miki said with a smile. “They are not just partners in City Hunter. Their partnership is much deeper than that...and now they know it too.”

“Hmph,” Umibozu said, turning his head. “It took them long enough to figure it out. I’m surprised that Kaori was able to pull any sense out of that moron.”

“I guess this means that we are out of luck, Saeko-san,” Kasumi sighed. “I imagine Reika-san and Kazue-san will be disappointed too, but it looks like Saeba-san’s heart has finally been taken. Who could have ever imagined that?”

“It’s ok,” Saeko said with a wistful smile. “I think we all knew that it was going to happen eventually. I just can’t stop thinking about that look in Ryo’s eyes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this happy.”

“I’ve known Ryo for years,” Umibozu added with a nod. “I do not believe he has ever had the chance to have this kind of happiness. He was very fortunate to find a woman who is strong enough to give it to him….just like I was.”

“Falcon,” Miki beamed at him, wrapping her arms around him as best she could. Umibozu turned an even brighter shade of red and he waved his arms at her.

“Miki, cut that out!” he yelped. “Not in front of customers. Stop it!”

Saeko and Kasumi laughed and turned their gazes toward the door again before sharing a knowing look with each other.

Things had changed, and this time it was for the better.


 

Ryo smirked to himself while he stretched, trying to work out the kinks in his body after the blow from Kaori’s hammer. He was pretty sure that everyone at the café had figured out their secret, and he knew that neither he nor Kaori would be able to escape it from now on.

Umi-chan and Miki-chan will probably become even worse busybodies than they already are….But if Saeko thinks that she can get out of owing me those mokkori points, she is in for a big surprise.’

He watched Kaori’s hammer disappear and walked over to where she was standing, her arms crossed over her chest. He wanted to kiss her, but knew that it wouldn’t be a good idea. There were too many people around, too many people who could spread rumors. Despite Kaori’s thoughts on the matter, the fact remained that Ryo was absolutely certain that the people who wanted him dead would be far less determined to go after his partner in City Hunter than the woman he loved, even if they were one in the same. It just wasn’t feasible for the two of them to allow any public displays of their love.

Instead, he held out his arm to her.

“Kaori, how about I apologize by taking you to a noodle stand and buying you dinner?” he said. “And then I can show you one of my favorite bars in Shinjuku.”

Kaori relaxed her posture and reached for his arm, wrapping one of hers around it.

“Why not?” she said. “But it better not be a mokkori bar. That is unless you would like to sample another hammer flavor.”

Ryo flinched but then he looked into her eyes and smiled. He could tell that she was thinking the same kind of thing that he was, that she would like to kiss him. But instead of being unhappy over being unable to openly declare their love, as Ryo feared she would be, Kaori was focused on the moment between them. Standing here with him, holding his arm, and getting ready to spend the evening exploring his city, their city, was all that she needed.  

It was all that she needed because they were together…and it was then that Ryo realized that that was all he needed too.

The two of them walked away toward the neon signs which illuminated their path for the rest of the night.