A/N: More mature content, thanks to Akagi….

Part Three – Out of the Frying Pan

Morning comes early for me, mostly thanks to staying up very late with Kaga, it amazed me how human she felt, though at least my back stopped burning where she had scratched it with her nails and the bite marks… oh the bite marks…. It was fun getting them, defiantly worth it, but today was going to need a full collar for me to hide those marks. I looked down to the spot where I could feel something tickling my skin and I saw one of her white ears twitching against my shoulder and chest, a smile on her lips. I smile as I look at her, still asleep against me, one hand resting on my chest, her head on my shoulder… I yawn a little and go to slip out from under her to get breakfast going when she mumbles out something about the future.

I stop my egress and think about that thought for a moment, I know that Kansen age, just much, much, much more slowly than I will… provided her hull is taken care of properly. I rest my head against my pillow and start to think about the current problems I have, namely Akagi. Killing her isn't an option, sending her on a suicide mission isn't an option either, if she lived then she would be even more determined. Sending her away would be dangerous should she return at a later date and be completely incensed that she was sent away…

I sigh I know what I need to do, it's not something I want to do, but I have too. I look at the sleeping Kaga and kiss her forehead and I hope it won't be the last time before I get out of bed and walk to the Sakura quarter, towards what will likely be my five minutes of fate.

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Despite it being summer the morning was actually really crisp, it doesn't take me long to find the house that served as Akagi's dorm that she had shared with Kaga, to my surprise I see she is already up, standing by the front door, her red eyes narrow as she looks at me and says, "Akagi knew Shikikan-sama couldn't resist Akagi's charms…"

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly as I walk up to her and ask, "Can we talk inside?"

I watch as she turns and walks into her dorm with a lot of sway in her hips, her tails not giving any indication of how she was feeling at this moment in time. I try to center myself as we walk in and I go to the kitchen and take out one of the knives and place it on the counter. I see Akagi's ear twitch as I do that as she asks, "What is Shikikan-sama planning with the knife? A knife will not stop Akagi's love for Shikikan-sama… but it would make it easier to cut Shikikan-sama into little pieces…"

I open my shirt, I know this is a gamble, but it's my only shot right now. I pick up the knife and place it tip first against my chest and tell her, "Akagi, I cannot go through my life living with the threat you present to me right now."

She stops in her tracks and turns slowly to see the blade pointed at my chest, just over my heart and angled in a way that the thin blade would slip between my ribs with just a little pressure. I see the look of shock in her eyes as she asks, "Shikikan-sama?"

"Akagi, I would rather end myself than have you as a threat to myself or anyone I chose to share my life with." I tell her and press the blade into my skin slightly while I continue, "So the question for you Akagi is, are you willing to see me ended due to your selfishness, or are you willing to see me be happy, even if it is with someone else?"

I push a little harder and actually draw a small trickle of blood, I keep my eyes locked on hers, I see panic starting to set in as I press more and yell at her, "Well, which is it?"

I get the feeling that I've called her bluff when I drew my own blood, what surprised me was when she dashed forward and drove it in as she hissed out at me, "If Akagi can't have you; then no one can."

I look down as the blade pushes in, it's sharp enough that I don't feel it slice through, I see the blood start to flow, faster when she pulls the blade out, at least she didn't twist it… I look at her with a bit of surprise I didn't expect her to call my bluff, I take a step out of the kitchen and place a hand over the stab wound, then another step forward towards the door and I feel my knees starting to give out… I stumble forward; it's getting hard to breath.

I stumble forward a little more before I collapse down to the floor, I can see red starting to pool around me, I guess this is how I die, I look to the front door and whisper out, "I'm sorry Kaga… I tried to find a better way…"

The world gets darker and I hear rapid footfalls heading towards me, but I can't see who it is, before I know it, I feel like I'm floating and everything turns black.

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I hear a soft rhythmic beeping; my eyelids feel very, very heavy. I try and open them but they just don't open, I'm so very tired… The beeping gets quieter and I'm in the black again.

I don't know how much time I spend in the black before I hear that beeping again, I force my eyes open, they don't feel as heavy this time, but the world is dark out, my chest hurts, that's a good sign I think, that I can feel pain in my chest, I look around and see an EKG readout to my left, so that's where the beeping was coming from I look to my left and see someone sleeping in the chair beside my bed, I can tell she's a Kansen of the kitsune subtype, easy to tell by the ears… The real question I had being who it was... I yawned again and soon found myself back in the black.

I hear the EKG beeping again, so I will my eyes open, this time it's light out, I look to the chair and see that it's empty now, my chest still hurts, but I feel stronger this time, I try to force myself to sit up just as someone comes into my room and she says to me, "Easy there Commander…"

My eyes focus on her slowly and I see the telltale give away that it's Vestal, as she tries and helps me sit up before she starts looking at the place I had started to stab myself but Akagi finished the job. As her fingers start checking it over I wince, it's really sensitive, I see her nod before she says, "That's healing up nicely."

After a few moments she looks at me and asks flat out, "Commander, why did Akagi stab you?"

Well that's an uncomfortable question, if I were, to be honest, I started to stab myself, she just finished the job, I try and take a deep breath but it hurts, a lot. And she tells me, "Easy does it, you took serious cardiothoracic damage. If it weren't for Atago and Takao running to see what was going on when they heard you yelling at Akagi… I'm sure there would've been a different outcome on the table."

I nod and ask, "What happened to Akagi?"

Vestal looks down and away before she says, "Nagato is taking her back to the empire to have her cube extracted and inspected to see what's wrong with her… A Kansen should never be able to harm a human."

I nod and wince as I get a sudden stab of pain in my chest, I hear something crash to the floor and I look in the direction of the sound to see Kaga, her blue eyes wide and starting to water as she picks up her pace to me while Vestal moves back and says to me, "She's been here round the clock since we got you in here three days ago."

I feel her hands go to the sides of my face as she starts kissing my cheeks and lips rapidly, Vestal makes a coughing noise before she says; "I'll show myself out… but Commander, you need to take it easy for a couple more weeks… Kaga, can I trust you to make sure that he does?"

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It's been a couple of months since the incident with Akagi, and I've finally been cleared to return to my job, though Kaga has demanded to take over as my secretary… not that I can really blame her, last time I was out of her sight, I nearly died. As six bells chime, my office door opens and I see Kaga walk in with bento boxes, a soft smile on her lips as she tells me, "I have found it is surprisingly fun for me to cook… I hope you like it."

I smile at her and take the box that she made for me as I tell her, "Kaga your cooking as never disappointed me."

She sits across from me and blushes a little as she says, "Except for the first time where I burnt everything in the pan…"

I take out some tempura yam and dip it in the sauce as I tell her, "But I never tasted it, so it never had a chance to disappoint."

She smiles as I told her that, taking some of her own cooking before taking on a thoughtful expression like she was trying to figure out how to ask something. I tilt my head sideways at her as I try to get a read on what she's thinking about. I watch as she puts down her chopsticks and leans back in her chair, still clearly lost in thought. I put down my own chopsticks and ask, "What's on your mind?"

I see her cheeks heat a little before she speaks, "I was just thinking about how much I've changed since I was younger… If I were to meet my younger self, I doubt she would recognize that we are the same person…"

I lean back in my chair and tilt my head to the side as she continues, "Even over the last year, I have really changed… ever since I met you if I want to put a finer point on it."

I raise an eyebrow and ask, "Is it a welcome change, or do I need to worry about another Kitsune that may try and kill me?"

She laughs, like honestly laughs as she says to me, "A welcomed change… I think I understand what Amagi wanted when she asked for me to look after Akagi. She wanted to temper my more… aggressive outlook… But since I couldn't stand Akagi… it festered and drove a wedge between us."

I wipe my face as I say to her, "I'm not sure I follow what you mean when I first arrived you two were inseparable…"

She sighs and looks back at her food, "Akagi is a force of nature, it is hard to not respect that force… but too easily can such power become corrupted… Yet with you, I sense a similar strength, but it is pure, untainted in the way Akagi is."

I feel a dull ache in my side and I open my desk drawer and take out the pain meds I keep there, before I tell her, "Rain's coming…"

I watch as she tilts her head to the side as I offer her some explanation, "My side, I get an ache there now just before it rains…"

She nods at me and looks down and bites her lower lip, we've never really talked about why I did what I did, I think she feels bad that she wasn't there to protect me from Akagi's wrath, I give her a smirk as I tell her, "It's not your fault… I chose to go and try and get a peaceful solution to the problem that was presented, I gambled and I lost…"

She looks up at me, her lips pressed together before she tells me, "If you hadn't saved by Atago and Takao, I would've avenged you… but it hurts to think I would've fought someone that I used to be so close with…"

I sigh, this is getting to be a heavy topic, let's see if I can steer it in another direction, "Hey Kaga, where do you see yourself in fifty years?"

She sits back more and blinks a few times before she says, "It seems quite interesting to imagine a little about our future."

I laugh and say, "I'll be old… pushing eighty by then."

I see her look down at the box in her lap as she whispers out, "To hold one's hand and grow old together... If it is to be with you, then it won't so bad…"

Huh… I hadn't thought that she thought about that kind of stuff, I watch as she takes on a distant look while she looks out the window as the first crack of lightning arcs across the sky and we hear the rain start to come down. I see a smile start to form at the edges of her mouth as she tells me, "I think I would like that very much."

It was the next question that caught me off guard when she asked me, "If children are a possibility, what would you want for them?"

I'm stunned, the Kansen are artificial life forms, biologically very, very similar to humans, I turn the question back on her, "If they are, what would want for them?"

She gets quiet, looking back down at her box and pushes some rice around before she says, "If they were of us, they would be able to conquer the world."

I smirk, the world huh? Not a bad answer, but I've never set my sights on the world, but she brings words to my thoughts as she says, "I say that as you did something I think anyone else would've thought impossible, you conquered my heart…. What is the world compared to that?"

"It's a little ball of dirt and bad tasting water," I tell her with a laugh, I see her smile at that joke.

I'm surprised at this turn in the conversation and it has me wondering if children would be possible, nothing has really been explored in that area, the Kansen are reluctant to present themselves for exploration of that, not that I blame them…. But they do seem to pick up new skills at an amazing rate, it makes me wonder about Kaga being a mother, I start to get images of her in a rocking chair cradling a baby, singing to it softly… that image is quickly replaced by one of Kaga holding it out from her under its arms not knowing what to do with it.

She sees me smile at that second mental image as she tilts her head and asks, "What are you thinking about?"

I laugh and shake my head before I say, "Two possibilities as a result of one action."

I watch as she makes her ears twitch up and down, she knows it makes me laugh whenever she does this, and I look at her and say with all honesty at this point, something I hadn't said before and it causes her to blush and look very, very surprised, "I love you, Kaga, marry me."

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Our wedding wasn't much of a big deal as far as weddings go, we kept it small, like really small… our guests included Nagato, who officiated it, Shoukakuk, Zuikaku, Atago, Takao, King George the Fifth, Prince of Wales, Illustrious and Seattle… mostly since Seattle managed to somehow find everything we needed for the wedding and got everything organized by new year's… But it was less than a year later that what I consider the biggest event of that year, Kaga gave birth to a nine-tailed kitsune, both of us had been surprised to find out that she was able to carry a child to term, I was surprised when she was born to see that she was a miniature version of Kaga. I suggested naming her Tosa, to honor Kaga's sister who was gone before I ever met her, something that Kaga seemed to appreciate.

Not long after the birth of Tosa, I retired from service, I didn't want to be responsible for the base anymore, I also wanted to get away from Roon and Taihou, if anything my marriage and birth of my daughter seemed to ratchet them both up a notch. So now, my little family sails the waves in the hull of Kaga and I don't think we could be happier.

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A/N: I wrapped this one up sooner than I had originally intended, but I had run out of ideas for it… I generally like to stick to a 4/5 chapter format for this type of story, but I think this one works as a three part story… I've got ideas for another two stories, one that focuses on King George the Fifth and one for Tirpitz.