Can you believe this series has NINE parts?! And I'm barely halfway...

Anyway, nice to meet y'all. This is, as I mentioned, part nine of a series but you don't have to read any of the others to get this one, just a bunch of the cast is genderflipped.

I swear. A lot. Look out for that, other than that; nice to meet you, please enjoy! I own nothing!

1 review=1 new chapter so tell me what you think guys.

Chapter 1: The beginning

"Hey King, it's been a while."

Mikoto Suoh, aged sixteen, blinked and slowly opened his eyes. He'd been lying on his back, basking in the sun but now something was blocking the warmth.

When his eyes opened he didn't see the sun but the equally bright smile and golden-brown eyes of the girl leaning over him.

Wait, he knew this girl. Vaguely. She'd spoken to him before; Tatara Totsuki or Totsaka or something like that. Izumo would know.

But that wasn't what was important to Mikoto at the moment. "Why do you keep calling me that?"

She'd referred to him that way from the second she'd walked up to him and started chatting away casually as though she'd known him for years. He'd never gotten a solid explanation as to why.

Those eyes, big, but not innocent, knowing eyes, blinked thoughtfully, as she considered how to best put her thoughts into words.

"I think you're going to be someone great, And King seemed like the only title that fit, you know?"

No he didn't know. This girl was crazy if she thought he was going to be someone special.

He sighed, "beat it kid," it would be better if she wasn't seen with him. Mikoto might only be sixteen but he was well known as a delinquent. If she hung around him this kid would only end up getting hurt sooner or later.

The girl, Tatsuka or whatever, plopped down nearby, under the shade of a tree. Which was pretty much the total opposite of what he'd told her to do. She rested her back against the wood.

"Say it like you mean it and I'll leave," she said.

Mikoto opened his mouth to do exactly that but just sighed again.

"Your funeral," he said instead, and she hummed with pleasure.

Mikoto wasn't sure how long they stayed like that, but it must have been at least a few hours. For all she appeared chatty Tata-whatever seemed content to sit in silence and Mikoto was too. When she wasn't being all chirpy and making him want to strangle her there was something calming about this girl. It was an odd dichotomy. But eventually it began to get dark and the heat began to fade. When Mikoto rose the girl did also, brushing off her skirt.

"Well, see you later King," she said cheerfully. She made to leave, Mikoto caught the back of her sailor-style uniform. It was getting dark and she was only small.

"I'll walk with you."

The girl's face lit up in response, "alright. Thanks King!"

She beamed the whole way to her apartment. Her smile was bright, annoying, warm… loud.

"Shut up," Mikoto muttered.

"I didn't say anything!"

When they reached her building she waved, "bye King! Thanks again. I'll see you soon."

'Stop following me,' Mikoto wanted to say but he didn't for some reason.

"Whatever kid," was all he said.

She smiled again, an unexpectedly calm smile, "it's Tatara, Tatara Totsuka, not 'kid'," she corrected.

"And my name's Mikoto, not 'King'," he muttered. But the girl, Totsuka, was very obviously not listening as she waved again and skipped inside.

Mikoto shook his head as he walked off. But the warmth stayed with him long after he'd left and he wasn't sure it had anything to do with the sun.

"You okay Mikoto?" Izumo asked him.

The redhaired boy, who had absolutely not been thinking about a certain middle-school teen, looked around, "huh?"

"I understand that some middle school kid's been stalkin' you lately."

That girl, he was talking about that girl Mikoto was thinking about. He sighed heavily, "you mean that annoying little brat."

"You gotta admit somthin' though, she's persistent." Said Izumo. "She doesn't seem to care that you hate it when people come around and kiss up to you all the time." Izumo was talking about the day they'd first met her. It hadn't been the last time though, but Izumo didn't need to know any more of that than he already did.

There had been that day in the sun, and then again when he'd been out smoking by the nearby lake, after school-a lot, and once -to Mikoto's unadmitted consternation- when he'd been wandering around aimlessly late at night and nearly tripped over her. Apparently she'd been really into stargazing then. She had a different hobby every time Mikoto spoke to her-not that he was keeping track or anything. He'd scowled at her and sent her inside. It was the middle of the night. Did that girl have no survival instincts?

"Well..." Izumo began, when suddenly the phone on top of the bar rang. "The kid's got guts," was all he finished with instead while Mikoto sighed inwardly. That kid was gonna get herself killed one day...

Izumo picked up the phone. "Hello. This is HOMRA."

"Oh," he stilled, listening intently, his tone worried and slightly confused. Mikoto turned around to look at him.

"Okay. Thanks for calling." Izumo hung up before turning slightly to see his friend watching him. "Uhh... I'm not sure how to tell you about this." The blond began.

"Tell me what?"

"The kid we were talking about who wants to work for you? She got herself beaten up and now she's in the hospital."

Mikoto blinked. Then he sighed. He had a feeling he was going to be doing that a lot with this girl.

She was lying on her back, a small book held in her uninjured hand. Her right arm and leg were in casts and slings, her gaze bored, there was a bandage on her face. But Tatara Totsuka's sunny smile lit up the whole room when she saw him. She struggled to sit up, "what a surprise. What brings you here King?"

"King of what?" Izumo asked, but it was mostly rhetorical. The two young males had learned not to expect an answer that made sense from this one.

Totsuka smiled in greeting at Izumo too before turning her attention back to Mikoto, as he spoke, a scowl firmly on his face.

"Who jumped ya kid?"

Totsuka just smiled slightly and leaned back on her pillow.

"Listen kid," Totsuka turned to look at Izumo as he moved closer. He jerked a thumb at Mikoto, "if you keep hanging around this guy you're gonna be spendin' a lot of your time in the hospital. You might think you'll be safe being near someone this strong, but you'll find out the exact opposite is true."

Totsuka beamed, so it wasn't just her King. His older friend -Kusanagi if her memory served her right- was just as caring. "I'll be fine, don't worry," she told him.

Izumo stirred uneasily, "maybe you didn't hear what I was tellin ya-" he began.

Mikoto had had enough. He stormed over to the edge of her hospital bed and slammed his foot on the metal frame causing Totsuka to jolt upwards. "Don't play around, tell me who did this."

Totsuka hesitated for a second, then seemed to acquiesce. Her face turned sad, "before I tell you who it was…" she started, "I have a huge favour I need to ask… will you hear me out?"

Izumo glanced uncertainly at Mikoto who just nodded with a grunt.

She smiled, it was that smile again. Not the bright sunny smile that made Mikoto feel like he was basking in the sun's warmth and calmed the fire in his blood -at least temporarily- while simultaneously made him want to throttle her for being so dammed saccharine. It was that calm one, the one that would have made him truly believe those eyes that said he was better than he knew… if she wasn't clearly crazy.

"It's… my foot…" she admitted softly. Then, heedless of her injuries, she gave a full body wiggle. "It reeeeeally itches like crazy! Could you scratch it for me? It would be such a relief!"

Izumo gave her the look of utmost disbelief mixed with despair he usually reserved for when Mikoto was about to get himself (them) into a boatload of trouble. Totsuka wiggled her toes and smiled at them, giggling like an idiot.

Mikoto sighed, if he could still call them sighs at this point. It felt like his will to live was trying to escape through his nose.

This. Kid. Was. Going. To. Get. Herself. Killed.

Possibly by him.

To Izumo's amazement, Mikoto actually scratched Totsuka's foot.

Totsuka, who clearly wasn't ticklish in the slightest, beamed at him, "thanks so much!"

Then Mikoto punched the top of her head so hard Izumo was sure he felt the thud reverberate through his bones, (okay maybe not that hard but still) and strode out of the room glowering darkly, leaving Totsuka rubbing her skull and groaning in pain and Izumo standing there, hands up helplessly.

He lowered them slowly as Mikoto left the room and he was slightly more sure he wouldn't have to prevent this girl's murder and just stared at her. What even was this kid?

"I can't believe you, you're so reckless. Don't blame me if he kills ya." He told her.

Totsuka looked up at him and smiled again, waving her hand dismissively, "hey, don't sweat it, it'll all work out in the end."

Oh this kid was so going to die. But she really was something else.

And he hadn't missed that she'd successfully gotten out of telling Mikoto who had hurt her.

She looked down, her smile growing solemn, "before too long I'm going to become the King's vassal." She told Izumo without a single trace of doubt. Izumo just continued to stare at her. It was crazy, because he'd spent 99% of the time he'd known her thinking she was crazy, but damn, he kinda believed she really would.


"Huh?" He asked intelligently instead of saying any of that.

"I'm telling you, that guy is going to become someone great," she said, still with no hint of a jest. She looked up at him and smiled again. "One day, he might actually become like a real King, dontcha think?"

No, not really. "Well even if he does I don't think you can become his vassal if he murders you," Izumo pointed out.

Totsuka shrugged, "I will," she promised him, "and you should too, he'll need you then more than ever."

Odd, virtually anyone else who knew Mikoto would have said he didn't need anyone, but this girl was odd so...

"Uh, okay," Izumo found himself saying (what exactly was one supposed to say in this situation?). "If Mikoto becomes… a King… or… whatever... I'll… work for him."

Totsuka's grin widened, "okay," she stretched out her uninjured hand, smallest finger extended. "I promise to do my best working with you!"

Thoroughly lost, Izumo linked his pinky finger with hers, "it's a promise."

When Totsuka got out of the hospital she found someone waiting for her outside the building, when she walked up to him Mikoto grunted a greeting. "Nice to see you again, King. Did you come to walk me back?" Asked Totsuka, she already knew he was here for her, she could tell.

"Where the hell are your parents kid?" Mikoto asked. She'd been attacked and was still injured, she should not be walking home alone. Or worse, alone with him.

Totsuka shrugged, truthfully she had no idea where her father was. But he'd turn up eventually, he always did.

She fell into step beside him and they walked together in silence, until Totsuka's stomach rumbled. Loudly.

Ah, she hadn't eaten that much this morning, the constant pain was a huge appetite-stealer but she was hungry now and there wasn't going to be any food at home, or any money… Totsuka chewed her lip, mildly concerned.

Oh well, chances were she wouldn't starve, she'd just be uncomfortable for a little while.

Watching the expressions play across her face Mikoto suddenly grabbed Totsuka's uninjured wrist and dragged her into HOMRA. Once there he all but threw her at Izumo saying simply, "she's hungry."

Totsuka fell against Izumo's chest and he caught her calmly with the patience of someone not at all surprised his best friend was throwing injured teenage girls at him.

"Well why don't you sit down and I'll get you something," Izumo suggested kindly, helping Totsuka to a seat.

"Oh, you don't have to-" she began, but Izumo was already moving to the kitchen connected to the bar, leaving Totsuka, again, alone with Mikoto.

He sat down on a bar stool, not next to her, but close. "Still not going to tell me who did this to you?" He asked, meaning her injuries.

"I would really rather not," Totsuka admitted, a little abashed. It wasn't like she particularly wanted to protect the people who did this, but it wasn't a big deal. She was fine.

And Mikoto wasn't a loaded gun to point at people who had harmed her. Totsuka could instinctively tell his strength was for protecting, not for hurting. And she had no intention of using him.

She wouldn't particularly mind if he used her though.

Mikoto glared at her but Totsuka pretended not to see it. He was all bark and no bite, like she'd thought; he was a protector, not an aggressor. He'd fight if he needed to but Tatara knew Mikoto would never hurt her.

She couldn't say why she was so completely sure of that but she had an unparalleled sense for these things.
She'd never been wrong before and she wasn't about to start now.

"Oh wow! Thanks so much!" Said Tatara, delighted, when Izumo put a plate in front of her. It wasn't just cold cuts or a sandwich, he'd really gone out of his way to make her a meal.

She forked up a bite and cried out with pleasure, "this is so good!" She told Izumo sincerely and he smiled back.

"Glad you like it," he said with a smile, he was always very patient with her, not like her King was.

When Totsuka continued to hum with pleasure after every bite, Mikoto turned from absently gazing out the window to look at her, "is it that good?" He asked, he ate Izumo's food a lot and it was really good, but he wouldn't go that far.

In answer, Totsuka stabbed a piece of meat on her fork and held it out, "here, try."

The sensible thing to do would, most likely, either be to decline or take the fork from her. Mikoto did neither of those things, simply wrapping his larger hand around hers and bringing the fork, and her hand to his mouth. Her bones were a lot slimmer than his, they'd be easy to break. But Totsuka just smiled.

It was strange, but for some reason Izumo's normal cooking did taste much better today…

"Hn," said Mikoto noncommittally, but Totsuka seemed to take that as acquiescence.

"See, I told you!" She placed another bite in her mouth.

Izumo, who had ducked out to take a call, returned to the room and the three of them passed a comfortable evening, talking, laughing, joking. Totsuka fit in with them so well it was like she'd been with them a lot longer than a few hours and a couple of passing interactions.

Mikoto was actually enjoying himself with her here, not a bubbly happiness, but a deep, calm satisfaction, his instincts telling him everything was exactly as it should be. So it was with some reluctance that he stood when Izumo pointed out how late it was getting and that Totsuka might want to be heading home. Especially since she was injured and probably tired quickly.

"Hurry up," he told her, when Totsuka glanced at him curiously.

It clicked in her brain that he planned to walk her home, and Tatara scrambled to her feet. "Thanks again for the food," she told Izumo.

Izumo went to tell her to stop by again sometime but swallowed that comment at the last second, he saw her injuries again when she stood and was uncomfortably reminded that Totsuka would be a lot better off if she didn't stop by.

The walk back was silent for the most part but about halfway to her house Tatara broke the silence.

"Thank you for today King," she said, she didn't just mean now, she meant, well, all of it.

She expected another vague grunt but instead Mikoto said wearily, "please stop calling me that."

"But it suits you so well!" Tatara protested. Mikoto had thought before that she was probably a few plums short of a fruit pie and he thought so again now.

He gave a jerky head-shake, all of this morning he'd been feeling flushed, irritable, antsy. It had gone away when he'd met Totsuka at the hospital but had slowly come back that afternoon and had now returned with a vengeance.

He pulled off his coat, noticing Totsuka eyeing him curiously. It was a chilly evening but Mikoto continued to overheat. Noticing her shiver however, Mikoto draped the coat over Tatara's head.

It swamped her completely, when she asked if he was sure, Mikoto told her to put it on. She was cold, he absolutely wasn't.

It felt like fire was licking itself over Mikoto's skin now, not burning, but he could feel the heat, he wondered if he was coming down with something.

"I'm the last person who's King material." He said, continuing their conversation. "If you want to hang around someone great find someone else."

He didn't particularly want her to find someone else but you seldom got what you wanted in this world.

Mikoto stopped as the flames over his skin intensified, Tatara stopped too, and seeing the distress on his face, reached for his arm, Mikoto wanted to tell her not to, there was something wrong with him.

Red fire exploded all around Mikoto, Totsuka yelped as she was knocked back by the force of it, but for once Mikoto only vaguely noticed, his ears filled with the roar of power flowing through him. The flames intensified.

"King," Totsuka was back on her feet, shielding her eyes from the bright flames, the heat an aggressive force against her skin, "King…" her hair blew back from the force.

Hurting her, this fire, his fire, was hurting her, Mikoto could see it in the squint of her eyes and the grit of her teeth, he slammed every ounce of self control down over the power, seeking to contain it. The problem was, it didn't want to be contained, and Mikoto didn't really want to contain it. He wanted to burn everything, burn it until not blood, nor bone, nor ash remained…

Tatara had the presence of mind to pick up the phone that had fallen out of Mikoto's jacket pocket when she'd stumbled and found Izumo's number.

"Kusanagi?" Tatara had to shout, the sheer power coming off Mikoto was like a tornado of fire. "We're on-" she looked around for the street name and gave it to him, along with directions, "-please hurry, something's wrong with Mikoto."

Mikoto. It was the first time she'd called him by his name. That was enough to remind Mikoto who he was. He was Mikoto Suoh, not a creature of violence and flames, at least not entirely. And he didn't want to hurt this girl, which he would if he didn't get a handle on this power.

Tatara was looking at him, still with slight pain from the heat and the force but not an ounce of fear.

She should be afraid. Mikoto was losing, he wasn't controlling this power, it was controlling him. The fire swirled ever brighter.

"Hey," to Mikoto's horror, Totsuka walked forward, talking to him as one might a scared child, "it's okay, everything's gonna to be fine."

She laid a gentle hand on Mikoto's shoulder, he expected to burn her arm off, but he didn't, the fire recognizing her as someone that wasn't to be harmed, no matter what.

With her touch Mikoto felt the inferno in him calm. He didn't think, that never worked out for him, he just acted, yanking Totsuka forward into a crushing embrace and burying his head in her uninjured shoulder.

Tatara went willingly, not remotely surprised. She returned his hold and Mikoto felt rather than heard her say. "Everything will be just fine. It'll all work out."

The flames died almost as though they had never been there, almost, and Mikoto pulled back. He didn't know how long they stared at each other but they were interrupted when Izumo ran up to them in a dead sprint.

He stopped a short way away.

"What the hell is that?!" He demanded, pointing upwards. Mikoto and Tatara glanced up for the first time.

And saw the gigantic red sword hovering suspended above Mikoto's head.

A little longer than most of my chapters will be but I hope you liked it. Bye guys!