Rain in the Heart of a Rogue
by: Kagayaki Ame

Chapter One: Her Troubled Heart and Mind


    The immaculate beauty sat at the end of the low onyx table, a solemn look on her face. Her hair was twisted into an ornate and elaborate style held together by an array of pins and chopsticks. Her makeup was dramatic and expressive. She was wrapped possessively in the finest silks her master could buy.
    She didn't seem to notice when the man entered the large room. He smiled at her, a look of self gratification spreading across his handsome visage. He stalked toward her as he did with her and knelt behind her. She didn't even blink. He drew in her scent, pleased at her delicate fragrance of lilac and sakura. He carefully and deliberately took her hair down until it hung loosely and fell into a pool of ebony on the floor. He swept it to the side and dipped forward to graze her downy neck with his lips.
    "Mine..." he mused. Then he sank his teeth into her neck, hungrily drinking her blood...

    Ame woke with a start. She was panting and covered in a cold sweat. She looked around frantically praying she wasn't back there again...
    She sighed and began to calm when she found she was still safe in her new room at the Kamiya dojo. She looked outside. It was almost midnight. She shivered at the sight of the full moon. The dream had frightened her. It felt so real... She began to shake. Her greatest fear was to be ensnared in the clutches of Kurokami again and lately, that's all she could think about. This wasn't her first dream and somehow, she knew it wouldn't be her last.
    In the month that she'd been at the Kamiya dojo she'd become part of the family there. She and Kaoru grew closer as friends every day and she had a good relationship with everyone else. Her school was prospering and the little girls that she instructed often had brothers that Kaoru could take under her tutelage. Everything was going very well.
    And now, for about a week, she'd been having terrible dreams about the return of Kurokami. Even though she did well not to show it to anyone beside Kaoru, who was the only one who could truly understand, she was still frightened of him. He'd done quite a bit of damage to her soul and her healing period was far from over. Her new friends made it easier to forget but they couldn't be with her when she slept. And that's when he seemed to torment her most- in her dreams.
    She rose, unable or perhaps too afraid to sleep and went outside on her patio. The night air felt good on her damp skin. She closed her eyes and let the breeze run its calm fingers though her long tresses.

    Sanosuke couldn't sleep and he didn't know why. He wasn't usually the kind to suffer from insomnia but this night he just couldn't sleep any longer and he was pretty pissed about it. He got out of his futon and changed from his yukata to his white pants and gi. Maybe a walk would help him...
   He strolled through the silent streets of Tokyo realizing it was nearly midnight. He almost made his way to a bar he knew his buddies would be at if they were awake but changed his mind. For some reason he just wasn't in the mood for revelry and drinking tonight. Besides, he thought, I have no money to lose by gambling tonight.
    As he continued his walk he let his mind wander. 'Humph,' he mumbled. "Probably not something a lot of people think I can do. Who cares. I know I'm not an idiot..." He was still angry at the snide remark the fox had made that day. Something about him not having to worry about ever having too much on his mind. On top of that she'd proceeded to try to snuggle up to Kenshin afterward. It was great to see him pry her off, and tell her that she was being impolite to Kaoru. Sano smirked. The fox went positively red at the remark surely noting that Kenshin hadn't called Jou-chan 'Kaoru-dono'. She deserved it. She could be such a bitch sometimes. He used to think that's what made him like her...
    That was, until Kowaku Ame showed up. He smiled a little. That girl was something else. She was so very beautiful, funny, smart- just as smart as Megumi if not smarter, nice (unlike the Kitsune. Humph.), and on top of it all, she could cook anything and it would taste so damn good. That first morning he'd seen her in the kitchen instead of Kenshin, something came over him. He thought it was hunger. But it happened every time he saw her. Damn. Megumi may have been a Kitsune but Ame, she was a Kodora. His kind of woman. There was something about her that made him want to... take care of her... He didn't know. Thinking about his feelings was something he did rarely. Ame intrigued him, he knew that. And she made the best beef stew...
    He looked up surprised to see that he was directly in front of the Kamiya dojo. What in the world had brought him here? It's not even like anyone was up, so they certainly weren't cooking. He narrowed his eyes. Instincts told him that accidents didn't happen. There was a good reason that he was here. Even if it's just to check around the place and make sure everything is okay.
    He slid the wooden door open to the main yard. It was silent. He stepped in and slid the doors closed again. He'd just take a little look around.
    Ame heard the doors open and close again and her heart stopped. Who would have been here at this hour? She felt the hairs at her neck stand up. Surely it was Kurokami, returned to claim her as his again and whisk her to his evil mansion... She tried to calm down, convincing herself that she was telling her desshi-chans too many fables at story time. She debated on whether she should face the intruder alone or wake Kenshin. He was probably sleeping peacefully with his fiancé now so she didn't want to disturb him. Who knows what she would have walked in on anyway...
    She picked up a dagger and snuck outside with it behind her back. She crept around the corner of the house planning a surprise attack...
    Sanosuke heard a cry when he collided with a small figure.
    "Ame?"
    Ame looked up into the eyes of Kenshin's best friend and exhaled dramatically. "Dear Gods, Sanosuke. You scared the shit out of me. What are you doing lurking about here?"
    Sanosuke smiled a little. "Sorry I scared you, Ame-neko. I suppose I could ask you the same thing?"
    Ame flushed a little. "I couldn't sleep. I had a bad dream. Then I heard the doors..."
   Sanosuke looked on the ground at the dagger and picked it up. He looked at her quizzically and handed it to her. "Was it that bad?"
   Ame flushed deeper. The dream, her embarrassment at her exaggeration, the fact that she was in her nightclothes in the chilly night air, and her close proximity to Sanosuke culminated in her crimson countenance. "It was terrible," she whispered taking the dagger back. As much as she tried to focus on the dream she'd just had she kept recalling one pleasant dream she'd had recently. In it she was pressed hotly against Sanosuke wearing much less than she was at present, as was he, and they were...
    "Are you okay?" Sano asked watching her shade of pink go red and then crimson and then even deeper.
    She sighed and looked back at him, forcing her color to return to normal. "I'm fine. You still haven't answered my question."
   Sano ran his hand through his wild hair and shrugged, a charming smile on his lips. "I couldn't sleep much either. So I went for a walk and ended up here. I didn't know you were planning to attack me," he teased.
    Ame smiled prettily. "Perhaps you should refrain from sneaking around here at night. Are you hungry, Sano? That seems to be the only time you come around..." she teased back.
    Sano pushed his hands into his pockets and pouted, mocking offense. "Geez, Ame, I'm not that bad."
    She giggled and snaked an arm through his. "Well since neither of us can sleep, have a drink with me. I need one," she added, the memories of her dream still vivid in her mind.
   Sano followed her to the kitchen and allowed himself to steal a few glances at her petite form. Damn, she was fine. Perfect little body, not too skinny. He dug short girls too. They were so cute.
    "Is sake okay for you?" she asked.
    Sano sat at the table and smiled his charming smile. "Do you even have to ask?"
    Ame smiled and began warming the jug the sake was in. When it was ready she brought it to the table and set it down along with two little saucers for them to drink from. Sano watched her pour the sake expertly.
    "If you don't mind me saying, it seems you learned quite a bit from Kurokami despite his treatment of you."
    Ame looked into his eyes momentarily and smiled the briefest of smiles. "I guess I must give credit where credit is due. He made me the perfect wife for him... or someone much like him."
    Sano lifted his saucer, "You harbor a lot of contempt for him."
    Ame raised her saucer and gulped down her sake and began pouring more. "He deserves nothing more from me."
   Sano raised an eyebrow watching her drink and pour yet again. "Hey, you might want to watch it, Ame-neko. No use in getting hung over..."
  She smiled ruefully, slowing down on her drinks. "I can handle my alcohol. What do you think helped me through Kurkami's Finishing School for Young Women?" she laughed a little.
    He laughed. "Well, you're obviously not one of those chicks who just wants to marry and push out babies. So what did you want to do with your life before Kurokami? Why did you choose to go?"
    "It wasn't my choice. I was always the ambitious type and my parents, namely my mother, did not approve of that. She wanted me to be just like her. Subservient. Obedient. Poised, prim, proper and above all, pretty. My dad was just like most men and agreed with her. But I was hard-headed. I would get in trouble for saving money to buy books on philosophy. My mother said a woman didn't need knowledge of such things. When I was thirteen they got tired of battling with my obstinance and bought my place at Kurokami's. The day he came for me, I begged them not to let me go. But they said it was for my own good. That was the last time I saw them..."
    Sano saw the hurt in her eyes and felt bad for bringing it up. "Hey, I'm sorry... I didn't mean to make you sad or anything..."
    Ame looked at him and smiled a little. "No. It's nice to talk to someone about it."
    "So, what did you want to do back then?"
    "I wanted to be a great philosopher. Like Plato or Confucius or something... I guess it was kind of silly..." she smiled looking down.
    "No way. I mean I think it's cool when people have high goals. Especially girls. Too many of them settle for less than they deserve. That's why I like Jou-chan and even the Fox- even though she's..."
   "I think she likes you. A lot." Ame winked sipping her sake.
   "Yeah yeah. That's why she treats me like a big dumb idiot. Just because I don't waste precious breath yapping about meaningless crap doesn't mean I'm an idiot."
    "I know. There's a saying that goes, 'Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something.'"
    Sano laughed a little. "That's funny. And it makes me feel better."
    Ame shrugged a little. "It's the truth. I don't like talking about nothing. It's such a waste of time."
   Sano smiled at her. She was definitely worth his time. This girl was awesome. "So, um, if you don't mind again, what was your dream about?"
    Ame darkened a bit but tried to hold her smile. "Um..."
    "You don't have to tell me..."
    "It was about Kurokami," she blurted. She looked at him. "I, ah, have been having nightmares about him coming back to get me... stupid right?"
    Sano looked at her until she looked back and held his gaze. "What did he do to you, Ame?"
    Ame was a little startled at his interest and intensity. She found it amazing that he was so easy to talk to. But no matter how sincere he was, she never wanted to relive those days... not even through words. The memories flooded back, regardless and she got a bit teary. "Could we talk about something else, please?"
    Sano searched her eyes for long moments before nodding. He wasn't letting this go, but tonight wasn't the night. "Sure."
    Ame wiped her eyes on the backs of her hands and forced a smile. "Thanks."
    "Listen, how about we talk about me? That'll be easy right? I'm all for it," he joked.
    Ame giggled. "Sounds good."
   
    The two talked for the rest of the night. They didn't even notice when the sun began to rise.
   

Rain in The Heart of a Rogue
by: Kagayaki Ame

Chapter Two: Outfoxed!


    "I totally adore him, Kaoru. He is so sweet and funny and smart and sexy and hot and nice and..." Ame practically floated around their shared classroom. Their daily classes had just been let out and they were cleaning the dojo as they always did. Kaoru grinned at her friend and collected the bokkens the boys had left all over the floor.
    "This is so amazing to me. I mean, I love Sano, he's like a brother to me. But I've never seen him like this! Or you for that matter. I mean he's always hanging around now- even more than before, if that's even possible. He's so into you..." Kaoru said.
    "You think so?" Ame giggled. "That would be so awesome. I mean, ever since that night we talked it's like we talk all the time. It's like a ritual now. Almost every night at midnight he comes here and we talk until dawn. I can't even sleep past midnight anymore."
   "How long have you two been doing this now? It's been about two weeks right?" Ame nodded. "Come on it's so obvious that he's into you. Why would you even doubt that?"
    Ame blushed. "I don't know, I mean we talk and flirt and stuff but... it's not like we've ever talked about that..."
    "He's probably not sure how to approach you, that's all."
    "Oh aren't we the expert on guys all of a sudden. If I'm not mistaken, it took you two years to finally get a certain redhead into your futon..." Ame teased.
    Kaoru stood with a far off look. "It was his futon, actually..." she said dreamily. Ame giggled and hit her arm lightly. "But really, why won't you try telling him how you feel?"
    "You know it's not that easy..."

    Kenshin steadily peeled the potatoes as he listened to Sano. "She's amazing, Kenshin. She is so smart, man. Smarter than the Fox even! She's not like other girls though. She has ambition and goals and the most beautiful eyes I've ever looked into."

    Kenshin smiled and looked sideways at Sano. "Is it possible that the infamous Zanza has fallen in love?"
    Sano ran his hand through his hair. "Man I don't know but she's so... We talk about everything. She doesn't treat me like an idiot. She's interested in me, like when we talk, she actually listens. She makes me feel like what I'm saying actually matters to her whether I'm talking about something stupid like gambling or something serious like my past. And of course, she's so pretty,"
    "Of course," Kenshin put in quietly, smiling.
    Sano continued. "... and you KNOW she can cook... she's just... amazing."
    "So in all of your talking have you told her any of this. What you think about her?"
   Sano looked at Kenshin. "Are you insane? I wouldn't know what to say. We flirt a lot but I don't know if she likes me like that. I don't want to ruin our friendship with that mushy stuff."
    Kenshin began another potato. "Speaking of pasts, has she told you about hers?"
    "Yeah, well, sort of. She told me about her parents and before she went to the Kurokami School but she won't tell me about Kurokami or how he treated her... I know she's still going through a lot of grief over it... I wish she would tell me."
    "Maybe," Kenshin began, "If you do get closer she'll eventually tell you. I can tell she likes you."
    Sano sighed. "I don't know," he said quietly. "She's so pretty." Kenshin laughed at his friend.
    "It's a treat to see you this way, Sano. I never thought a little lady like Ame would be able to crush a big, strong, rebel like you." He paused. "I also wonder at what Megumi will think of all of this?" He glanced at Sano.
   Sano wrinkled his nose. "Who cares? Megumi treats me like shit, anyway. She's always talking about what a big, dumb, worthless punk I am. She'll be glad to have me out of her hair. Ame's hair is prettier anyway..." he mumbled his final comment drawing a laugh from Kenshin.

    "But, Sano, Megumi isn't that bad. That's just the way she shows you she likes you..."
    "It doesn't matter, Kenshin. I don't like her very much anyway."
    "Hi guys," Kaoru called. They looked up to see Kaoru and Ame changed into kimonos standing over them.
    "Hi, Kaoru, Ame," Kenshin said smiling at them.
    "Hi, Jou-chan... Hey, Ame," Sano's eyes stayed on Ame.
    Ame blushed and smiled. "Hi, Sano..."
    Kaoru grinned at Kenshin and he winked at her. She broke the silence. "Looks like you need some help, Kenshin. I'll help you peel those for dinner while Ame goes to the market." She turned to Ame. "You don't mind, do you?"
    Ame shook her head. "Not at all. I can handle it myself."
    Kaoru turned to Sano. "Nonsense. Sano can help you. He's big and strong. You'll help her, won't you Sano?"
    "Sure." He got up and grinned at Ame.
    "Well you two go on and hurry back. We have a lot of cooking to do tonight. Dr. Genzai, Ayame, Suzume, Yahiko and Megumi are all eating here with us tonight."
    Sano rolled his eyes. "Great, the Fox is coming. Whoo-hoo..."
    Ame elbowed him lightly. "Be nice." She smiled up at him.
    "Tell the Fox that," he said as they began walking away.
    Kenshin and Kaoru watched them and gave each other knowing looks.
    "You think he'll tell her how he feels about her?" Kaoru asked.
    Kenshin nodded. "Eventually."
    "Hopefully not as eventually as you did with me..." Kaoru teased. Kenshin threw a potato skin peel at her.
    Kaoru laughed. "You'll pay for that one, Battousai. Just you wait."
    "Are you going to punish me?" he asked impishly.
    Kaoru smiled to herself. "I suppose you'll just have to wait until tonight."
   Kenshin grinned and wiped his hands on a towel. He stood and took Kaoru into his arms. "You know, it has been said that if punishment is given promptly after an offense, the offender learns better not to repeat his actions."
    Kaoru wiggled out of his grasp. Then she turned to him with an impish look of her own. "Then come on, you bad boy. You are in desperate need of a lesson."
    "Hai, Kaoru-dono," he said letting her drag him in the direction of their bedroom.
    The potatoes would just have to be peeled later.

    Megumi had been watching the two for some time now. Ever since that new girl showed up, she felt uneasy with her. She refused to admit jealousy or anything like that to herself- she was above that. Besides, what was there to be jealous of? She was a young girl. What could she possibly have over her?
    She discovered exactly what over the past month. The girl was smart, pretty and had this sickening hold over Sanosuke. At first she told herself that she didn't care, but eventually she told herself that she did. She would never admit it though.
    On top of it all, she felt bad. She'd been treating Sano with extra harshness lately, but it was only because she didn't know how else to act with him. They always had this kind of love/hate relationship. It had been working fine until she showed up. To avoid watching him stare at her and inhale her food like a pig, she hadn't been hanging around the dojo much.
    She was also avoiding having to see Kaoru hang all over her... fiancé. Oh how she hated the word. It seemed that ever since this girl showed up, everything had changed.
    And she was the only one suffering.
    How she hated her...
    Wait, she said to herself. Hate? You don't hate her. Come on, Megumi. What's up with you?
   She shook the feeling and walked over to the two, who were chatting non-stop and buying a chicken. She was surprised. She never thought Sano was capable of such in depth conversation...
    "Ohayo, Ame, Sano," she said pleasantly.
    "Ohayo, Megumi," Ame said smiling. Sano just stood there. Ame nudged him. He sighed.
    "Hi, Fox lady."
    Megumi couldn't help a snide remark. The girl looked so damn happy and Sano was being so rude. To think that he only said hello because she prompted him to do so. She smirked. "I think it must be me because when you're with Ame-chan you seem so much more talkative. I do suppose you two do have more to talk about being in the same age group and all. What are you, sixteen, seventeen, Ame dear?"
    Ame held her smile but pulled back on her friendliness. She and Megumi had never quite gotten along and the more she and Sano talked and he told her about how she treated him, she began disliking her bit by bit. She looked directly at Megumi and said, "I'm nineteen, Megumi-dono."
    Megumi saw Ame's hackles raise and put on her innocent act. "Oh, I meant nothing by it, of course. I'm only saying you must relate better to each other."
    "We do, actually. And Ame's a lot like me. She doesn't say anything unless she has something important to say, unlike a lot of people."
    Megumi reddened, looking at Sano directly. "Since when do you have anything important to say?"
    Ame spoke up. "Excuse me, but we have to finish shopping. You will be joining us for dinner this evening?" Ame didn't wait for her answer and pulled Sano ahead with her.
    Megumi narrowed her eyes at the girl. She did not like her one bit. She turned sharply and stalked off.
   
    Ame and Sano walked back to the dojo in silence. She glanced at him. He was still fuming from the encounter with Megumi.
    "Don't worry about what she said, San-kun," she said gently. "She only does it to get to you."
    "I wish she would just keep her damn remarks to herself. I don't give a shit about her or what she thinks. Bitch," he growled.
    Ame stopped and watched him sympathetically. Eventually he stopped and looked back. When he saw the look on her face he sighed. "Sorry, I just... she makes me so mad."
    Ame smiled a little and walked until she was beside him. She reached up and stroked his cheek gently. "Look. Whenever she starts getting to you, just remember what I said the first night we talked. Remember? About wise men and fools?"
    Sano smiled back but all he could feel was her hand at his cheek. It was so soft. Careful. And her eyes... he felt like he would drown in them. "Yeah. I remember."
    "She's only being mean because she probably doesn't know how else to be, Sano. And, while I don't like how she treats you, I'm sure it's just because she likes you."
    "Funny way of showing it..."
    Ame's cheeks colored lightly. "People show their feelings in different ways... I don't treat people badly if I care for them."
    Sano placed his hand over hers gently. "You're a great girl, Ame-neko." He paused. "That's why I like you."
    Ame didn't say anything. She smiled up at him. "I like you too, Sano."
    He took her hand in his and kissed her palm. When he opened his eyes, she was watching him in slight wonder. Her cheeks were rosier now.
    "Come on," he said quietly. "I have to get you home. I can't wait to eat whatever you prepare." He still held her hand as they walked back to the dojo, this time is a different sort of silence.


   "Okay, come on everybody! Dinner is served!" Kaoru called everyone to the large table she and Ame had set up. They spread everything they'd prepared on it.
    Their friends oohed and ahhed at the delectable delights they saw. "You really made some of this, busu?" Yahiko drooled.
    "Yes, baka-desshi. Keep insulting me and see if you get any." Kaoru clocked him with a wooden spoon.
    Everyone took their seats. "I wonder where Megumi-dono is?" Kaoru asked.
    Ame and Sano glanced at each other.
   "Sorry I'm late, everybody," came a voice from the doorway. Everyone turned to see Megumi standing there in a very low cut kimono that was just a bit formfitting. Yahiko's mouth dropped open along with Kaoru's. Kenshin's eyes widened with Ame's and even Sano was surprised.
    "Damn, Megumi! Where the hell did you find that thing?!" Yahiko burst.
   Megumi smirked. The effect was made. Sano would find it hard to hold a conversation with miss nineteen if he couldn't concentrate. She glanced at Ame. When their eyes met, Ame's narrowed. Megumi smirked again. She stalked into the room.
    Ame felt her anger rise inside. First that episode in the market and now this. Was she really so threatened by her? She watched her and smiled to herself. She had no idea how to handle herself in a dress like that. She would eventually regret this subtle declaration of war.
    "Megumi you look fabulous!" Kaoru said.
    Megumi smiled and found her place. "Thanks," she said before sitting. Or rather, attempting to sit. She was having a bit of trouble.
    "Ahem," Ame cleared her throat getting her attention. "You'll have to pull that up to your knees before you'll ever be able to sit in it."
    "Hey, Ame's right, Megumi. It took me forever to learn to maneuver in one of those at Kurokami's." Kaoru said.
    "You, um, wore one of those, Kaoru?" Kenshin asked, his voice cracking.
    "Sure. I still think I have it, actually. You have one, don't you, Ame?"
    Ame smiled pleasantly. "Yes. I do."
    Megumi glared at the two girls before attempting to pull the dress up. It wasn't working. Ame got up and stood behind Megumi. "Here, let me help you." She yanked it up about six inches and then smiled. "There you go."
    "Thanks," Megumi said flatly, sitting easily now.
    Dinner continued without incident, megumi not saying much. She fumed as she watched Ame gain Sano's attention easily and hold it with even less effort. She'd just have to move on to plan B.
    "So, Ame, how's your little school going?"
    Ame smiled politely. "Well it's not so little anymore. I have nearly thirty students and Kaoru teaches their brothers..."
    Megumi cut her off. "It's too bad I don't have time to teach. It would be good for them to learn something useful like medicine..."
    Ame bit her tongue. "Well I suppose the relevance of what I teach is relative. I'm only teaching them how to think for themselves so that when the time comes they'll pursue what they want and not what society perceives as acceptable. Success, after all, comes in many forms."
    Megumi laughed. "How optimistic. To think you wish to teach others how to think. Couldn't you call that brainwashing?" Her jovial tone was laced with sarcasm. By now everyone at the table was listening to the two of them.
    "I am only presenting them with a variety of thought processes and encouraging them to use their own to make decisions," Ame said biting off her words. "That is not brainwashing."
    "Ah, the innocence of youth. Are you so self righteous that you think you can do something to change the way these little girls will turn out?"
    "And are you so closed minded to think you are the only one who can overcome society and be something different. What makes you think these girls won't be like you? Don't you think they can achieve goals just as you did?" Ame asked angrily.
    "Certainly," Megumi said. "I just think they need a proper education."
    "Oh, I see. And a proper education consists of being a slave to a drug lord because of fear? My girls are taught to fear no one! Fear nothing! They're taught to believe so they don't get into situations like that!"
    "Um, ladies, I think it's time to calm down now..." Kenshin said gently.
    Megumi was enraged. She stood swiftly and pointed at Ame. "How dare you accuse me! You don't know me. You don't know what I had to go through. How dare you pass judgment?"
    Ame rose as well. "And how dare you? You with your self ordained importance. You make everyone around you feel inferior so that you can feel like you're above everyone and everything. And when you meet someone like me who is your equal whether or not you wish to acknowledge it, you attack my beliefs and try to belittle my actions. And for what? What have I ever done to you? From the moment you met me you've treated me like an enemy. Are you upset because I'm just as smart as you? Or is it because with me around, Sano doesn't have to take any more of your bitchiness and bullshit?!"
    Megumi gasped. "I don't know what you're talking about, little girl!..."
    Ame rolled her eyes. "Oh come on! We all see how you treat Sano. He gets it worse than anyone. I haven't been here that long but I can see how you are. You're pissed that Kaoru has Kenshin, you're pissed that I'm friends with Sano, and you're pissed that because I treat him with respect, he'd rather hang around me than with you! You are such a bitch, Megumi!"
    Everyone gasped except for Sanosuke who had been smiling the whole time. Megumi looked at him then back at Ame. "You will regret your words, child." With that she stalked out.
    Ame scowled at sat back down roughly. Everyone was still speechless. Slowly they began eating again. Kaoru looked quizzically at her friend and made a note to talk to her about all of this later.
    Sano looked at Ame who still sat wordlessly, glaring at her plate. Discreetly he took her hand in his and squeezed it reassuringly. She looked at him and smiled. No one mentioned anything for the rest of dinner.