Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own S-Cry-ed or any of its characters. But we all know Mimori OWNS Cougar.

Chapter 1: Out of Reach

Mimori Kiryu shivered in spite of her long-sleeves and coat. "It's so cold tonight,"she murmured more to herself than to her walking companion, the alter user Ryuhou Tairen. Looking around, however, no one else on the boardwalk appeared to be effected by the sudden drop in temperature, nor bothered by the frequent cool breezes.

Again, the wind blew loose strands of her ebony hair into her eyes, and again, she waved them away, tucking a stray lock behind her ear. I wish I had brought my gloves. Ryuhou doesn't even seem bothered by it. Why am I the only the one that's cold? As long as she could remember, she always hated being cold, and naturally, would look upon the approaching winter with great dread and sadness though she never knew why.


How that one word so easily summed up tonight, not to mention a certain person, the young woman mused, watching her handsome but sullen-faced companion out of the corner of her eye.

In public, they resembled a typical couple out on a date, but as the old saying goes, appearances could be deceiving. We may be walking side by side, but we couldn't be further apart, she admitted, thinking back to their awkward dinner filled with polite and insipid conversation, most of which she tried in vain to keep going. Mimori had convinced herself that he was just as nervous as she was about being reunited again after seven years of separation. Unfortunately, this idea proved to be wrong. They finally fell into a mutual silence—Mimori having admitting defeat—that continued to stretch as they finished the main course and went on to their deserts.

But could she really say the same about Ryuhou?

If someone had asked her before tonight, she would have answered no. But now, after spending a few hours with him alone and away from HOLY, she could no longer deny the fact that their relationship was unlike their one seven years prior. She wasn't even sure they had a relationship any more, except that of co-workers, considering how neglectful he had been with her ever since her arrival at HOLY, his cool demeanor towards her holding up even outside HOLY's walls.

It's just so confusing. How could someone change so much in just seven years, she wondered, worrying her bottom lip with her teeth out of habit. With suspicious brown eyes, she regarded him thoughtfully, searching for the shy little boy she loved and unable to find him. It made her chest ache and her eyes burn with unshed tears.

When her long hair blew back into her face, she took the opportunity to inconspicuously wipe the tears out of her eyes. Mentally, an authoritative voice chided her for her childish behavior:

Stupid! You don't know that for sure. If he hated you, he wouldn't have taken you out to dinner or brought you to this romantic spot, would he?

No. I guess not.

Well, then, suck it up and keep walking. He'll talk when he's ready.

Warmed by this faint spark of hope, Mimori continued her stroll with the green-haired alter user though her body grew more numb. She did her best to hide it as she stuffed her shaking hands into the pockets of her tan trench coat, clenching and unclenching them in safety.

In the past, he would have taken my hand and rubbed it gently between his two hands, attempting to warm it up. I wonder if I should…I'm sure he wouldn't mind if I just…

Mimori sighed softly, planting her right hand firmly back into the pocket. The last thing she wanted to do was give Ryuhou yet another reason to think of her as being weak. She already given him two good ones: she possessed no alter power and just a few days ago had been taken hostage by a HOLY prisoner and used to make his escape, placing her in the stereotypical position of a damsel in distress. There was nothing she could do about the first. The latter, however, could not be so easily shrugged off. Mainly due to the fact the prisoner escaped from his cell due to her aid, which Ryuhou fortunately knew nothing about.

Very fortunate, a very relieved Mimori acknowledged.

Then again, what if he knows what I did, she pondered, renewing the chewing on her bottom lip. Maybe he's mad at me? But if this is true, why haven't I been arrested yet or why haven't I heard from my father? If he wanted me gone, surely he would use that information as blackmail. But Ryuhou would never do that to me. It wasn't in his nature to use dirty tactics.

And so, another theory shot down, which left her back at square one. So what's going on?!

She wanted to scream at him, but knew it would do no good, remembering how stubborn he really could be. It would be like talking to a brick wall. Irritated, Mimori balled up her fists while tears sprung back in her eyes. She wished now she never accepted his offer.

Ryuhou, why did you want to see me tonight?

As if hoping for an answer, Mimori glanced over at Ryuhou. With his lips set in a straight line, he appeared completely oblivious to his surroundings, his mind mulling over something, something important because of the tiny wrinkles between his brows. That familiar intense expression brought a faint smile to her lips.

There you are.

Feeling more confident, she decided to end this silent treatment. She'd never been a patient girl, and she wasn't about to play into this little game of hide and seek anymore. So she stopped walking. Surprisingly, so did Ryuhou, who cocked an eyebrow at her in silent question.

Holding his red eyes with her brown, she told him flatly, "You can be a real bastard at times."

Stunned, Ryuhou said nothing as he watched her plop down on one of the stone steps, leading up to the boardwalk's upper level, before turning his back on her to face the calm ocean spread out before them. He folded his arms over his chest.

She stared at her entwined hands sitting in her lap. Without looking at him, Mimori asked, "Why did you really ask me out, Ryuhou?"

He never hesitated in replying. "I want you to cancel your trip tomorrow."

"I thought so," she lied. Her answer catching him off guard, caused him to turn and look at her. At first, she felt relieved about not being discovered until a flood of dread washed over her, sweeping the warm happy feeling instantly away. She knew now where this conversation was heading. She looked away so he couldn't see her roll her eyes at him. Here we go again.

"You don't have any idea what it is like out there. The word dangerous doesn't even begin to describe life in the Lost Ground."

Whether he meant to or not, his words hurt her. The way he said it made Mimori think of a teacher scolding a misbehaving child, which Mimori certainly was not. It really pissed her off when he treated her like a helpless child. So what if she didn't have an alter power? She could take care of herself just fine thank-you-very-much, Mister Ice Man.

"I'm sure there must be some sick or injured people working in the redeveloping area," she retorted hotly jumping to her feet. "People HOLD or you yourself put into forced labor."

She hadn't meant to add the last part. It just kind of slipped out.

Nevertheless, she couldn't ignore the small bit of satisfaction she felt as she watched Ryuhou silently take in her words: his eyes widened for a moment and his mouth opened as if he were going to say something to her. But he didn't. Instead, he shut his mouth and turned once more away. He might as well have slapped her across the face.

She could almost picture the gap between them widening further apart.

"I'm sorry, Ryuhou," is what she wanted to say, but for some reason, the words refused to come out of her mouth. She went to stand beside him, holding onto the metal railing tightly. Never once did their eyes meet.

Instead, Mimori focused on the many twinkling dots of light in the dark cloudless sky. The same sky they use to look at as children. The same sky they stood under now as well as the people outside the walled city. "Do you honestly think there's any difference between those people and us?" she asked softly.

Without waiting for a reply, she continued on, "Well, there isn't. There's no difference whatsoever." Her grip tightened on the railing, her knuckles whitening.

Ryuhou. Why can't you understand? I want to help you. I want to be near you like before. I want…I want…so many things. She fought back a strong urge to touch the crystal pendant hanging around her neck, the same crystal Ryuhou had given to her when they first became friends.

"I can't just close my eyes. I want to do something to help those people."

This time Ryuhou was the one to surprise her when he began laughing. Mimori turned her head sharply to look at him, confused. "What's so funny?"

"People from the mainland always think that. But when you've been here for awhile you realize, doesn't work like that in the Lost Ground."

"Yes, that's convenient for you to say, but I don't think your ideas are any different from mine." With those final words, Mimori spun around intending to leave, but Ryuhou wasn't ready to let their argument end there. With uncanny speed equal to that of the alter user of Radical Good Speed, he grabbed her left wrist in an iron grip, forcing her to stop.

His hold on her wrist tightening slowly and painfully as he spoke, "That idealism, we all want it. But in order to get it ("Ryuhou," she whimpered.) sometimes we have to look the other way."

"Ryuhou," Mimori pleaded again, trying to pull her captured wrist free. "Please, you're hurting me."

Whether he heard her or not, Ryuhou continued to squeeze her wrist, causing Mimori's eyes to tear up. "You'll never be able to understand. Go back to the mainland, Miss Kiryu. You have no use here."

That's when she heard her wrist break, with a sickening 'pop.' An invisible fire suddenly engulfed the entire arm, her flesh feeling as if it were melting off her bones. Screaming, Mimori fell to her knees when her legs buckled beneath her, Ryuhou's grip instantly falling away. Panicked, she held her injured arm to her chest, while attempting to scoot away from him as fast as possible, unsure of what else to do.

Ryuhou appeared disorientated for a moment, blinking several times, like he was coming out of a trance. First, he stared down at her with wide frightened eyes, disbelieving what he saw, and next he studied his own hand, the same one that hurt her. His face paling while a mixture of emotions ran across his face.

"Miss Kir-Mimori, I…I didn't mean to," he stuttered, approaching her swiftly to offer assistance.

But before he could reach her, however, chaos broke out around her.

Suddenly, Straight Cougar, another HOLY officer, jumped in between them. Behind her, Mimori thought she heard Ryuhou's partner, Scheris Adjani, yelling for Cougar to wait.

Why are they here?

"I don't think so," Cougar said in a firm tone, throwing his right arm protectively out in front of Mimori, who still sat on the ground. "This date is officially over. NOW!"