Disclaimer : I own nothing. Someone else owns the characters, and it looks like the plot owns me.

Dedications : This is dedicated to Silver Miko and Shin Sankai. Without them, I wouldn't be half the AM fangirl I am now. This story is my

humble thanks.

Of Weasels and Chocolates : Chapter 1

"Shikijo-sempai! Beshimi-sempai!"

The two seniors looked up at the helter-skelter approach of their junior, rare smiles on their faces. She came dashing down the path without care, skidding to a halt in front of them.

"Konbanwa Misao! You're early today. In case you've forgotten, it's a Sunday. School starts tomorrow."

Sticking her tongue out at Beshimi, she ignored his remark and unceremoniously plopped herself down on the front porch of the dojo between them. She was panting from her dash, so they gave her time to collect herself. She had been a member of the Hiten dojo for almost 2 years now, showing up for training every class without fail. Now that she was in senior high and able to join the school karate club, which was under the Hiten dojo, she came even more regularly.

But that still didn't explain what she was doing at the dojo on a Sunday evening. All members knew that on Sunday, the dojo was only open to the most experienced of the club. Once her breathing evened out, they eyed her expectantly. A new voice rang out from in front of them.

"What's my monkey of a junior doing here?"

"Hyottoko-sempai! Eeeh… I am not a monkey!"

"Couldn't prove it by me. So what's up?"

"Hang on, where's Hannya-sem- - Ack!"

That last was shouted as she dove off the porch to evade an attack from behind. That was her latest training to improve her peripheral awareness. Sudden attacks from any senior that happened to be nearby. And if the seniors happened to approach this with more enjoyment than was warranted by mere training… it wasn't remarked upon.

Her dive had ended with her being sprawled on the ground looking up at Hannya, who was smirking complacently down at her. The tall, rugged senior was far and away considered one of the coolest people in the school, second only to his best friend Aoshi Shinomori. The burn scar that covered one side of his face surprisingly didn't detract from his popularity, but gave him a rugged appearance that caused many a female students' heart to flutter.

Unfortunately Hannya didn't seem to notice the attention showered upon him by the fairer sex, a fact that provoked many of the school 'princesses'. His closest friends knew he considered himself disfigured by the scar, no matter how hard they tried to persuade him otherwise. Right now though, he was all confidence, laughing down at his frowning junior. She shot him a deadly glare as she stood up from her sprawl, brushing off the seat of her pants.

"Not bad Misao… You dodged this time."

She winced at the reminder of how many times she hadn't dodged. "Hmph… if that's the kind of welcome I get I don't even know why I bothered to come." Her senior simply laughed and took the seat she'd so abruptly vacated. Looking up at her he asked, "Why did you come? And what's that bag you're trying to hide behind your back?"

She grinned and swung her braid over her shoulder to hang down her back. It would be a cold day in hell when someone managed to put one over Hannya-sempai. Sighing good naturedly she brought the bag in front and began rummaging through it, triumphantly coming up with four beautifully wrapped packages. She tossed each box to its respective startled recipient, desperately trying to appear nonchalant and failing miserably.

The four boys looked at the boxes in surprise, not having expected the gifts in the slightest. Was this…. "Oi Makimachi, if these are Valentine's chocolates, once again you appear to be confused. Valentine 's Day is on Tuesday. Today is Sunday." She stuck her tongue out at Beshimi, crossing her eyes for good measure.

"If that's the way you accept gifts Beshimi-sempai, I'm surprised you get any! Anyway, I'm skipping school on Tuesday, and there isn't any club on Monday, so I wasn't sure of getting all of you together at the same time."

Before a retort could come from the sharp-tongued senior, who thoroughly enjoyed these verbal skirmishes with his junior, a large hand was clapped over his mouth. Hyottoko smiled at her, calmly ignoring his friends' struggles. "Thank you very much Misao. Forgive shortstuff here. As you said, he's not used to getting gifts. How did you know Shikijo and I both preferred white chocolate?" "I asked you both at the winter festival, remember?"

Shikijo smiled and thanked the flustered girl, realizing from her relieved smile she hadn't known if her gifts would be received well. He appreciated the added thought she'd put into the present, going by the fact that she'd not only remembered to use white chocolate, but she'd also molded his chocolate into the shape of a paintbrush. Painting was a hobby of his he remembered mentioning to her in passing.

As he listened to the bantering going on between Hyottoko, Beshimi and Misao, he gathered that Hyottoko's had been molded into the shape of an onigiri, which was his nickname, and Beshimi's into a kunai, after his sharp tongue. Turning, he realised that Hannya was staring raptly into the small box he held, apparently transfixed by what he saw. Curious, Shikijo leaned over to see, and arched an eyebrow. Misao had molded Hannya's chocolate into the kanji for "kakkoii". He realised that his friend was still in shock, and nudged him sharply with an elbow. Did this mean Misao had a crush on Hannya? She was rather studiously avoiding looking at him.

Hannya finally came out of his daze at the nudge and looked up. "Misao… I…"

Immediately the teen flushed to the roots of her hair and began a stammered explanation.

"Ano, Hannya-sempai… It's not what you're thinking! It's just that you always refer to yourself as ugly,… and you always brush it off when I say my friends think you're cool… And, and… And I really think you shouldn't put yourself down so much.. And… Ah , mou!"

With that she buried her face in her hands, convinced she'd made a fool of herself, and worse, made Hannya-sempai think she had a crush on him! Sure he was cool and all, but the one she liked was… The sound of Hannya's voice calling her broke into her jumbled thoughts, and she slowly looked back up at him.

"So basically… You're trying to tell me that even with the scar, I'm still cool."

"Hai! I mean… I just thought it sad that you never think of yourself highly, even when you're considered one of the coolest seniors here. And I know for a fact that Omasu thinks… Eep… just… try to forget I said that."

"Omasu?" repeated Hannya, with a distinct gleam of interest in his eyes. Omasu was a classmate of his who also happened to be Misao's cousin. She lived with Misao and her grandfather at the Aoiya, along with an older cousin, Okon. He'd always thought she was cute but never imagined she'd be interested in him. But now… Misao shook her head furiously, causing her braid to swing like it had a mind of its own. Suddenly a new voice joined the conversation, causing them all to look at the figure which until now had been lounging unnoticed behind the dojo door.

"So the itachi-musume here thinks that Hannya is cute eh? Feh, I didn't know weasels were attracted to humans."

"Saitou-sensei! That's mean!"

He merely took a long puff of his cigarette as he leaned against one of the dojo posts. His lean looks and ferocious temper had lead him to be known as the 'Wolf-sensei" of Misao's high school. He may have been both Misao's guidance counselor and club supervisor, but that didn't stop him from taking delight in tormenting the 'itachi'. Before he could bring up yet another weasel remark, Shikijo's voice cut in.

"Let it lie Misao. Sensei is just jealous that he didn't get any chocolate."

A smirk was Saitou's only reply. A smirk that quickly changed to a look of surprise when Misao rummaged through her bag once more and threw him two cute packages and one brown packet. "How come he gets three gifts? We only got one each!" Misao laughed and replied, "Probably more than he's received at a time ever. But no, one box is for Tokio-obaasan and the other is for Mika-chan. The packet is for you sensei."

"What, I don't even get a box?"

Even as he grumbled he tore open the packet and almost laughed out loud. She'd foregone the usual chocolates and instead gotten him a box of nicotine patches. It seemed his wife had really rubbed off on the girl.

Saitou had received the shock of his life when he'd returned from work one day and found that the girl his wife had asked to baby-sit his precious son was none other the 'itachi'. He'd balked at the idea of leaving his home and son in the hands of a weasel, and had been all for canceling their long awaited movie date and staying home. Tokio had other plans. She'd hustled him out the door without so much as a backward glance.

The weasel had proven him wrong when he'd returned to find an immaculate house and, more importantly, an intact son. She'd even managed to get him to sleep, a feat usually only Tokio was able to accomplish. (When he'd asked her how she'd done it, she'd winked and said that his son was a younger version of him. She could handle him couldn't she? He'd growled at her) Since then she'd become their regular baby-sitter and Mika loved her. The only drawback was that now he had two people nagging him to stop smoking. Feh. It was enough to make a man give up cigarettes. Shaking his head at her, he warned, "You do know that Tokio doesn't allow Mika many sweets…"

"Don't worry sensei. I made him oatmeal cookies. They aren't sweet, and they're healthy."

"Just how many presents did you make?"

"Not too many. I've only a couple left. One is for the 'kuso oyaji', but he doesn't seem to be around."

Before any of them could warn her, there was the swish of a blade slicing through the air, and Misao whirled to find the huge form of her kempo master glowering down at her, sword in hand. At any other time, Misao would have been drooling. The gorgeous Hiko Seijuro was standing before her shirtless and covered in a light sheen of sweat, the moisture only serving to emphasise his muscled body and sharp-featured face. At this particular time, however, Misao was only concerned with two things.

One, the tie that had been holding the ends of her long braid together was currently dangling off the tip of his sword, and two, he'd heard what was her private 'pet name' for him.


"Shishou? A moment ago I thought I was 'kuso oyaji'"

"Ack! I mean, no! I wasn't talking about you, I… Anyway, why'd you have to cut that! I didn't bring a spare!"

"Spare me.", the big man huffed, sitting down on one of the sawn off tree stumps that dotted the yard. He watched the young girl grumble and curse as she unwound her hair from her braid, allowing it to fall freely to her waist. Let loose, her jet-black hair was thick and wavy, tumbling to frame her face and emphasise just how large and strikingly blue her eyes were. She didn't notice the surprised looks from the men sitting around her. Today for the first time in memory they saw her in something other than her school uniform or her baggy karate clothes, and it was surprising how much difference it made.

She wore a pair of slim, boot-cut jeans and trainers, along with a fitted baby tee, the streamlined outfit clinging to her lithe body. The clothes, along with the waves of hair now streaming down her back, pointed out to all the men present what her other clothes had successfully managed to conceal. Misao Makimachi was growing up into a strikingly pretty young lady. Oblivious to the attention she was getting, she handed Hiko a box, much larger than the others had been.

"Thanks. But I don't like chocolate."

Unfazed by the rude comment, she smirked at him. "You may be surprised. Just open it and see." Arching an eyebrow at her having the temerity to order him around, he complied. What he found in the box sent both eyebrows winging up. On one side were four cubes of chocolate, and on the other, a curiously shaped object wrapped in tissue. She was practically bouncing on the balls of her feet in excitement, but she stopped him when he reached for the paper.

"Wait! Try the chocolates first! You'll like them I'm sure. Trust me."

The look he gave her showed what he thought of that, but he popped a cube in his mouth anyway. Never let it be said that Hiko Seijuro was afraid of trying new things. He was pleasantly surprised at the taste. Dark chocolate lightly flavoured with sake? An odd combination, but the richness of the chocolate set off the burning of the alcohol. It wasn't sweet, but slightly dry and rich. Finishing off the cube, he reached for the paper again, this time getting no objection from her. Unwrapping it, he smiled. It was a small jug, probably just large enough to hold 5 cups of sake. What made it special were the words, "Property of Seijuro Hiko" engraved into its surface.

She grinned at his reaction, openly relieved. "Consider it a thank you gift for breaking up the fight at the Aoiya last month. Okon could have handled 5 men, but 10 would have been a bit tricky, what with Shiro and Kuro away. And it was in case you didn't like the chocolates."

"The chocolate was good. Now all I need to know is… Four of the senior-most members of the club, along with its teacher supervisor are here. Yet none of then so much as blinked an eye when you announced you were bunking on Tuesday... which is a club day."

"She gave us chocolate!" chorused the 4 boys in reply, while Saitou merely took another drag. Hiko pierced the girl before him with a steely-eyed glare, which was completely wasted since she was quite adamantly focused on the patterns her trainers were scuffing into the sand. He hadn't missed the fact that the bags under her eyes he'd noticed over the past month were still there, and that however much she tried to cover it up, she tired easily. The fact she hadn't come up with a snappy comeback now was proof enough. He masked his concern as he sternly told her, "The tournament is coming up Makimachi. I don't need members who think they can skip out on practice whenever they want. Be there. And has Genzai-sensei given you a clean bill of health yet?"

She neatly sidestepped the question and focused on the earlier part of his speech.

"Demo Shishou… I visit my parents every year on Valentine's Day! It's my mothers' birthday!"

Hiko winced inwardly. He hadn't realised she was skipping to visit the graveyard. But rules were rules, and he couldn't break them for anyone… even if he did have a soft spot for Makimachi. As he opened his mouth to speak again, Saitou's voice cut in. "Be back by club time Makimachi. Call if you need a lift."

"Hai Sensei!" Misao sent Saitou a grateful smile, knowing he understood. She glanced around, looking for the intended recipient of the last box she had in her bag. As she scanned the area, Hannya called to her.

"Misao… Your hair's beautiful. Why haven't you ever left it down before?"

Her head whipped around to stare at him in disbelief, and she was certain she was blushing so hard she was creating a new colour. "I let it down at night. During the day it's just a hassle…I can't leave it down during kempo can I?" Shikijo then asked, "Wouldn't it be useful in class? I'm pretty sure you could sleep behind all that and no one would even notice." Her head went down at that, and when she spoke, it was so soft they could hardly hear her.

"Tried that…Ikawa-sensei did catch me."

At that they all burst out laughing, and it was onto this scene that Aoshi appeared. He walked out of the dojo blindly, head down and rubbing at his hair with a towel. It was obvious he'd just walked out of the shower, and his unbuttoned shirt gaped open, giving Misao a glimpse of his lean, firmly muscled body. She couldn't see his face, but she didn't need to. It had haunted her dreams often enough.

Piercing green eyes, often half-hidden by soft bangs she ached to run her fingers through. His eyes were always so calm and cool, just hinting at the depths of emotion they concealed. Firm lips she'd seen curved in the rare half-smile she loved, infinitely precious to her. Every time she managed to pry that smile out of him she felt like she was on top of the world. A face so heart-stoppingly gorgeous his fan club members numbered in the hundreds.

His movements were sending his muscles rippling, and it was all Misao could do not to melt into a puddle right then and there. She managed to control herself quite well, only earning herself an amused look from Hiko, but she couldn't take her eyes off the gorgeous form of her childhood love. Typically, it was Beshimi who broke the spell.

"Aoshi! Valentines has come early this year!"

"Don't ever tell me that."

The slight stiffening of Misao's posture would have been imperceptible to all but the most highly skilled observer. Needless to say, they all noticed it. Aoshi's movements became rougher; a vehemence to his movements there hadn't been before.

"My fan club president accosted me yesterday to give me strict instructions that I should only accept chocolates from registered members." Everyone flinched, knowing how well Aoshi took to instructions, especially when it concerned the fan club he detested. "Every year I have to accept chocolates out of obligation, so as not to hurt anyone's feelings. Don't these girls have anything better to do? Why can't-Misao…"

He'd straightened, allowing the towel to slip off his head. The torrent of words had stopped the moment he locked gazes with her, and the silence was deafening. Misao's face had paled visibly, and she was biting her lower lip hard enough to bruise. His eyes widened slightly as he took in her hair and outfit. If he'd ever doubted she was growing up, he definitely had proof otherwise now. The slim curves of her body were not ones belonging to a child.

"Misao. What brings you here?"

"N-n-nothing… I just- I just… Well would you look at the time! I'm late! See you all tomorrow!"

With that abrupt statement she turned tail and fled, leaving one startled and several highly amused men behind. As Aoshi's eyes swept over the group, taking in the boxes and chocolate, he sank to sit cross-legged on the floor, slinging the towel around his neck.

A moment's silence lapsed before he softly said, "I blew it, didn't I?"

As one, they nodded.

Author's Notes : This story is simply writing itself. Where it's gonna go I'll find out when I begin chapter two. In the mean time, if someone could

tell me if my spelling of 'kakkoii' and Seijuro' is correct, I'd be eternally grateful. Reviews and CC's are ALWAYS welcome.