It is my hope that the person who picked this one will read it, oh and the rest of you too ;p

In all seriousness this marks the first of the ones which have been picked by you wonderful reviewers and proof that you too can in some way contribute your awesomeness to saving this fic from my...not me out here, what's the opposite of awesomeness?

And well, I think that's enough waffle that the share bar (did I mention I really don't like it?) won't knock my title off to the side of the page. Who came up with putting it there, there's plenty of empty space on this page. Well enough rant, here's the story. And sorry for the long wait, this one just did not want to be written...well I'd like to just leave it at that but AFan raised the point about the lack of regular updates and I feel I should expand. I was originally going for as close to weekly as I could get however not only do I have a life (empty and pathetic though it is...honestly this is a bit of a difficult time for me and writing is my outlet, however I have a fair bit to do most days and I also like to read etc) but I also have other fics, including one for which I have set myself a thirty page minimum per chapter which I'm trying to update quickly.

I apologise but juggling them all is hard, if you wish to speed up the updates (and I do hate to review wh*re) then reviews work wonders, hell it was AFan's that made me decide to put the next chapter of Ningen on hold to work on this.

Sixth Feather

A faint, restless scratching, scraped into his dreams. Grasping his mind and pulling it away from the peaceful haze of dreaming. He fought it with what presence of mind his deep sleep left him, resisting futilely in the face of encroaching awareness. A doomed attempt, finally he lifted tired eyelids to blink groggily around at his empty room.

He was careful not to think too hard on the nagging disappointment of his empty futon. An absent warmth that left him stranded far from sleep, rather he tried to focus on the cause of his waking and ignore the urge to sneak into their rooms himself...

What was it that had woken him? It was definitely a noise...or a feeling? The scent of steel and stone was all of his dream he could bring to mind and certainly it wasn't tha-


Minato flinched and grit his teeth at the unexpected sound, the scraping noise was not that loud, except the silence of night made it seem far larger then it was, grating across his ears. What's more he could not think for the life of him where the noise had come from, if anywhere it had sounded like it was coming from the roof...


It was not nearly so bad now he was expected it. Still an uncomfortable noise but not what his sleepless mind had first perceived. The location however...finally Minato's curiosity managed to overwhelm the comfortable warmth he was cocooned in. Rising he grabbed his jacket from a nearby chair to ward of the faint chill of his room. Rubbing sleep from his eyes he attempted to engage his brain, searching for the illusive source.

scrriiiktun-! "...damn."

Even had the sound not come again, the faint curse drifting in his window would have told him exactly where it was coming from, not to mention who...

Poking his head out from the bedroom window, Minato found a certain bandaged girl perched at the apex of the roof and busily berating herself for something. Despite himself he found a sleepy chuckle escaping his lips at the sight of Haihane knocking on the side of her head before returning to some unseen focus, absently biting her tongue in her concentration.

For a moment he thought she had not heard his laugh, then in her customary slow fashion she spoke up, not looking away from whatever it was she was hunched over, "...ah Minato you should be resting...unless you want some company...ku ku ku ku ku k-" Her laughter was cut off by another abruptly severed scratching noise, another quiet profanity following it into the air.

However unlike the last such sound, this time Minato could see her, his eyes finding the slightest tensing showing through the bandages at her neck and exposed shoulder, the momentary stillness in her breathing and the faintest of scents before the wind took it from his nose. Small things that stood out to him like flares in the darkness, momentarily blotting out everything else.

Hence why he was already pulling himself onto the roof by the time he exclaimed, "You're hurt!" A rare note of assertiveness finding its way into his tone as he finished scrambling up the roof slope, politely commanding her to let him see. Only to pause in his tracks when he saw what she was actually doing.

The large, metal cylinder that served her as a holster for her claws was hung by its strap from a protruding nail. One of her claws still rested inside, the other cradled delicately in her lap. One hand held it firmly against her thighs while the other held a whetstone, both hands were peppered with cuts, bloodstains spreading through their bandages.

Held up short at the oddity of this site Minato's body unfortunately paused long enough to remember that he had just climbed a roof, it barely managed to communicate this fact to him before his lack of supernatural balance caught up with him. Sudden fear worsened his posture and next thing he was pin-wheeling his arms in a useless attempt at avoiding the fall. A deceptively thin arm darted around him just in time to save him.

Haihane's usual laughter echoed into the night as she guided him down to a more stable seat beside her, Minato easily shrugging off its creepy tone to see the genuine humour beneath. Looking back to his hands he was relieved at least to find none of the wounds were still bleeding, even with her toughness that meant they weren't so bad, still he took hold of each her hands in turn anyway, just to check.

He couldn't deny taking some guilty delight in how quickly his touch transformed her laughter into a deep blush, the girl at his side trying and failing to hide her rapid breathing from him as he turned over her hand in his own. 'I wonder how she'd react if I tickled her?'

Abruptly Minato realised what exactly he was doing, releasing her hand like it was on fire and staring firmly into the distance. He didn't see the disappointed look she gave him, nor the bemused sigh that blew out after a few more moments. Instead he kept up his distracting vigil and assured himself he was just tired and that was the only reason for what he had jus-


The rasping note of her whetstone's careful passage provided him with a handy change of subject, not to mention piquing his natural curiosity. Turning back to look at her as she focused on each precise pass of stone on metal Minato finally asked, "I thought Sekirei weapons were composed of some kind of unbreakable, super metal."

She doesn't look up from her task to answer him, a fond tone in her voice, "Hardly, don't you remember...all of the opponents whose weapons...we've destroyed."

'Oh...yeah...' However as he thinks back over what he had seen of their weaponry...recalling the kinds of things he had seen Sekirei weapons stand up to, "You can't tell me that's made of ordinary steel? It'd never have survived this long."

Her eyes stay on the claw in her hands as she puts down the stone and slowly rises from her seat, cradling the weapon to her she speaks softly, as if imparting some great secret, "No...but it's not unbreakable either...our weapons aren't made by MBI or found in the ship. They are made by us, our own powers...our bonds."

Her eyes finally drop to meet his, a rare hesitation in them as she holds out the claw in both hands, offering it to him even as she continues, "Our strength is their strength're kind of doesn't need to be sharpened, it has its own strength but...I still want to take care of it..." By this point he honestly isn't sure what she's referring to, maybe she means all the things it could be, maybe it's him and them and he's reaching out, fingers barely brushing the polished metal of a gauntlet and so cl-

So absorbed are they in each other that neither of them notices the precariously balanced whetstone slipping down the roof. Not until it finds its way underneath Haihane's foot, after which her slip sends it somewhere far off and totally forgotten by both current denizens of the roof.

Haihane's eyes widen comically, a look of complete shock lighting her face as she finds herself unsupported in the air. Then she's falling, thudding into the roof and sliding down it too fast to react, barely noticing the claw that she threw upwards when she first slipped, and which is looking to come down right where she's about to be which is probably going to hur-

She comes to a sudden halt, a deceptively thin arm wrapped about her waist while its pair holds her claw -snatched from the air- out past the edge of the roof, an edge she herself has barely avoided thanks to her Ashikabi's frantic dive after her.

As precariously positioned as this had left them (Minato was only keeping them from falling due to one of his feet being wedged in a gap between tiles made during his original scramble up the roof) neither of them found time for such a though. Their lips were far too close, their eyes unable to find anything else in the world but each other, each breath mingling between them, every word half formed and abandoned. They could only drift closer together, inexorable as continental drift.

A insistent poking at his foot drew Minato's attention away for the barest of split seconds. Just long enough for Haihane to glimpse something over his shoulder, something that sent her rigid with fear. Whirling to face this unexpected threat Minato found a hanya behind him. A tall and horrendous demon, mussed hair and clumsily tied clothes, serenely furious features and a long, glittering blade...poking his foot...which was embedded in the roof...

Realizing just how much trouble they were in by this point Minato did not even wait for his landlady to speak before whipping his foot out of the roof, desperate to avoid the trouble that was sure to fo-

At which point they fell off the roof.

Fortunately Minato continued to hold the insanely sharp claws out of the way and Haihane was more then able to absorb the impact for them both, that she wasn't even winded by it making Minato feel a little silly for his earlier dramatic dive.

Less fortunately Miya followed them down a moment later.

"Waking up other residents so you could enjoy yourself on our roof, that sounds like the actions of a predator Minato-san." Miya's voice greeted Minato as he entered the otherwise empty room for breakfast. The table was laid out with a semi-western breakfast this morning, their landlady having mentioned a desire to try it out several days ago.

After staying up for several hours in order to fix the damage to the roof (and then perform routine maintenance that Miya insisted he should do while he was up there, a dangerous glint to her smile at that point) Minato was too tired to even protest his innocence in it all. He instead occupied his attentions by wondering how it was Miya looked so neat and tidy despite having as little sleep as he did. Certainly her untamed appearance was terrifyi-

A sharp glance convinced him to stop that train of thought, as well as adding some more evidence to his theory that Miya could occasionally read minds. Shaking of the remnants of sleep deprived thought still buzzing around in his head, Minato took his seat at the table, savouring these few moments peace before the others found their way downstairs. Some late night conversation keeping even the early risers among his Sekirei in their beds this late.

He had at least been able to avoid Haihane getting punished as well, it was not her fault he had bumbled onto the roof after all. A thought that became far more cheering when the morning rush revealed a bright eyed and freshly wrapped young reaper among the stampede. His heart beat rising in rhythm with the thudding of their steps, his body at least could be honest about them.

Of course, these optimistic reflections were quickly dispelled when those thudding steps thumped into seats, the argument over who's turn it was to sit beside him being just the first in the usual string of chaos. Still even amidst the resulting almost-melee and despite his inclusion in the resulting punishment...Minato still found himself smiling at the familiar morning.

Eventually Akitsu 'convinced' the others that it really was her turn today and they settled in to eat. The loss of one arm to her meal-long clinging was more then worth a meal with only Kusano attempting to feed him, except one attempt by the lightly blushing scrap number but even that was sedate and calm, aside from Tsukiumi's glaring, Musubi's vague bear aura, Homura's aborted looks every few moments and Haihane's...what was Haihane doing?

The bandaged Sekirei had stiffened almost the moment she saw the table this morning, sitting down slowly and stiffly, as if she was dreading the meal. Now he looked to her once again...she was acting very strangely indeed.

Normally Haihane could only be outdone at the table by Musubi, her table manners might often be lacking but she could -and would- practically inhale her food. He figured it might be a trait of Fist-type Sekirei...or maybe it was just them. Either way her current behaviour was not that which he was used to.

Instead she was hesitant, delicately taking the tiniest of bites at a time. Their slow passage to her mouth jerky, as though she was having to force herself to lift each morsel. Then she would stifle a flinch as she brought it into her mouth, chewing slowly, relaxing as she did so and finally swallowing heavily her face blank as she did so. It was an expression he had seen on her features before.

When she had fought battles in which she expected to die.

And one other time, when he had asked her about her Tuner.

For a brief moment Minato's face took on a seldom seen seriousness, aware of this he immediately schooled his features back to a more relaxed expression. 'Hopefully Matsu won't mention the slip.' Waiting for an opportunity to lean in to talk to Ku he found it coming when she brought a small sausage to his lips with an intense focus in her eyes. Smiling naturally he took the bite, then 'slipped', brushing their heads together for the briefest instant.

help, let me through, bridge, path, within, thought, ...

There was a long pause in which he wondered if he had really managed to communicate his thoughts to Ku, no matter her powers after all he was merely a-


He did not look at Kusano, giving her hand just the slightest squeeze to affirm her query. Glad of her unusual depth for her age when a devious look lashed across her face before she returned to her meal, her grip on his hand remaining under the table. A few more shaky exchanges confirmed his wishes and her ability to fulfil them. Then he leaned back in his seat with a yawn, holding the back of his neck one handed as if working at a stiffness. The perfect excuse to close his eyes and...


onii-chan, here, come, move, there, support, holding, push


fear, worry, stupid, it's not, but it was, like a beacon, found her

Time is slower, his mind can move as fast as it wishes like this. It hadn't been even a moment since he left his own body, trailing his being as he came to here. Like slipping under a wave he flowed through Haihane's skin and-

it's a meal, strange food, not like what she normally sees him eating, smells so good, stomach turns at the thought of her tins of mush and pills and protein and, the table is low, these are memories, she was young, small, she rushes forward unthinking, pain, falling back, more pain and panic and body acting as it remembers, stand straight pain is nothing, pain stops, the hot trickle from her head is nothing, she has to remember, has to get it right, the meal smells so good-

He had to pull away from her recollections for a moment, hiding from her and struggling to control himself, the rare wellspring of anger wouldn't help, Minato struggled to think what could help. This was...he buried his disgust and once more-

the voice, "Be grateful you can eat so well, and in the presence of your better.", disgust, she doesn't want to eat her normal food, forcing desperate false gratitude, the collar's chain and the button, lightning when he presses it, she is helpless, one day she'll be strong, one day her collar will be in her own hands, she will be what she wants to be, she sits, eats, he glares, she eats slower, clumsy with the metal, so good, like dancing in her mouth, warm and solid and good, she can taste so much, tastes... tastes bitter, tastes, no, not good, not any more, burning, slipping, stop, "do not stop eating.", eating, pain, stabbing in her tummy, throat is dry, drinks, more pain, fire, cold, stabbing, can't eat, curled up, pain still comes, darkness is coming, cradling darkness, a voice in the pain, a dim voice, the voice, "A living weapon, cannot be vulnerable to poisons.", she knows, poisons are bad, this food is bad? "...this will make you stronger, be grateful. We'll raise the doses soon.", blackness, peace, no mor-

It was all he could do not to throw himself out of her mind. The dim and buried memories are linked to the surface of her mind, though their content seemed to be almost blocked from her, filtered away. There's a story there, but all Minato could think of was how to help her. A plan sparking to life in his own mind.

Another moment and he'd flashed back into his own body, Kusano's boost to his telepathy fading quickly. He leaned back forward, no-one at the table any the wiser, a glance down at his youngest Sekirei showing her smiling back at him, pleased she could help. Blessedly unaware of what he had been able to find. He smiled back regardless, taking courage in that smile.

Then he threw himself forward and started eating as fast as he was physically capable. Sweeping more of the ample food onto his plate and devouring at a rate that even Musubi would call respectable. A moment of utter shock being followed by sheer alarm cascading from everyone else at the table. Even Miya doesn't comment in the shocked silence, a shock that extends to a girl only now snapping out of her strange, deep dread at every bite of this meal.

Haihane's own reluctance to eat such a delicious meal (especially given she had yet to have this type of food) had surprised her. Caught in her thoughts and misery until the most shocking thing she can recall snaps her from it. Minato throwing down food like there's no tomorrow.

He can see her staring just like everyone else from the corner of his eye, a smile lighting his face at his success...then what he had just done hit him. His face went a deep green as he grabbed his own, far-too-full stomach. His gasps for water nearly triggered a fight when Akitsu and Tsukiumi tied in the rush to get him a drink. Miya's own intervention saving him and sending Tsukiumi back to her own seat.

And under the weight of glares and worried looks he soared, because Haihane is back with them and eating just as merrily as ever. He slowly keeled over and desperately focused on Akitsu's cool hands holding him up. It's all he can do to focus his gaze on Akitsu's own worried eyes.

Even so Minato could not have missed the low, smiling comment from across the table; "Minato, you're sure you don't want to eat...the table...kuh...ku ku ku...ku ku ku ku ku ku ku ku ku ku ku ku-"

Her laughter rings in his senses almost as loudly as the crash of her hitting the floor, clutching at her stomach. Akitsu's monotone statement that she's showing bad manners just makes her laugh harder, peals of merriment lighting the room.

The day passed as days do, in Minato's case this involved a great many interesting things.

This day had included a no holds barred cooking competition, several hours of cleaning in the kitchen, an errant breeze -that had absolutely nothing to do with Kazehana- exposing Akitsu's forgotten underwear or rather the crucial lack of it, no less then twenty two 'punishments' (eleven via wooden spoon, two with a mop, five with a wooden sword, three using a ladle, and one particularly memorable use of a herring) variously targeted and the construction of an expansive sheet fort in the living room by Kusano, Homura and -surprisingly- Miya...

And it was only just starting to grow dark. With this in mind several of his Sekirei seemed to have decided to enjoy the evening beyond the Inn. Minato himself had turned Kazehana's invitation down and instead planned on spending an evening watching a nice, peaceful movie with Tsukiumi, Musubi and Kusano.

He was on the upper floor, trying to avoid the girls getting ready in Homura's room (not that the flame Sekirei was happy about it) for their night out. After Akitsu nearly succeeded in dragging him into the impromptu dressing room -to help her choose her clothing, had been her absently stated reason- he had decided to get some distance until the more excited girls left for the evening.

Thus it was that Minato found himself stumbling once more on Haihane in the middle of a mystifying ritual. Fortunately this one seemed a lot less traumatic.

She was seated on a low stool in the room she shared, her claws removed and a large dressing gown hiding much of her form. Except for her hands, their bandages pooled at her wrists, whose nails she was busy painting. The odd bit being that they were already black, she was painting a tone matched to her own skin over the top of this colour...

Despite himself Minato stepped to the threshold of the open door and cleared his throat, speaking before she could ask him what he was doing, "Ano, wouldn't it be easier to use varnish remover then to add a new colour?"

The way her expression fell made it pretty clear that was not the right thing to say, despite this her eyes as she stares down at her half painted fingernails are not angry. Just sad. A sadness that pulls him across the room to crouch beside her, an explanation spilling from her without prompting.

"My nails aren't normally painted, they...this is their natural colour and I want to cover it up...we're supposed to try and look nice...", her voice sounds lost and confused and it's all he can do not to throw his arms around her. Instead he draws back a little and says, "There nothing wrong with not looking like everyone else and...uh...I mean it's not a bad thing at all, that is..." 'Oh, that made no sense even to me.'

Seeing her -shockingly- unconvinced he floundered and grabbed at the first thing he could think of to say, regretting it almost before he said it.

"A-anyway it's not like there's anyone to impress..."

She is very careful to avoid his eyes when she replies, "...well I thought...if I could figure this out right...look nicer...maybe...someday...we m-might go out..."

Minato couldn't help it, he was struck dumb. No matter how many times a day he was reminded, the idea that any of them cared about him still hit him every time it sunk in. He hoped that he would never grow to take it for granted, to take this kind of fortune for granted.

With such thoughts at the fore he takes her hands in his own, and gives her his most earnest look. Once he is certain she is listening to him he speaks, looking deep into her eyes that she might see the honesty in his own.

"Then, you should...I mean, your hands like look like Haihane and Haihane is beautiful. So there's no need for..." his voice trailed away, a happy quiet blanketing them. When he starts to pull away though, her hands stay firmly clasped on his own, pulling him back to her. Her face a deep red, her eyes closed tight and her lips pursed in obvious invitation. An invitation that...he can't obviously...

It was at that point that a familiar, authoritative voice sounded from the stairway. Tsukiumi inquiring what was taking her husband so long and why he had not come to see her after the 'shameless woman' tried to steal him away.

In a split-second he is on his feet and in the hall, an apology reaching Haihane at about the same moment she hears his room's door opening and closing and Tsukiumi's footsteps coming up the stairs.

Of course it takes around a minute of increasingly worried waiting before Haihane finally gets enough of her brain working to realise what has just happened. Her maiden's heart thuds in her chest and her fighter's instinct screams at her to go hit something. Eventually she settles for head-butting the dressing table. Bemoaning the fate of her first non-spur of the moment attempt at a kiss.


When Haihane finally gets downstairs and meets her fellows in this quest to see the city and drink its sights dry, her nails are exposed in all their ebony glory. When Minato sees them off (with much complimenting, kissing and some truly touching awestruck staring) his eyes dart to her hands and his smile lights her heart on fire.

Many hours later, long after the movie had ended in tearful reunions and happy conclusions, long after Tsukiumi's fierce assertions that she wasn't crying and Musubi's wide eyed wonder at the happy tale of Seita and Setsuko as she danced with Kusano in their shared glee at the cheerful ending.

Long after they had stumbled to bed and gone through the normal nightly routine of Sekirei in his room and Miya's objections to this. Long after sleep had cast its dust upon Izumo Inn...

Something went bump in the night.

Then it went crash, then a deeply wooden thump, followed closely by a slow, rhythmic knocking then a long silence, then a sudden burst of rapid knocking by which point Minato had left his bed behind him once again and made it to the front door. Throwing said door open he found himself greeting by a sight that didn't confuse him at all.

Haihane was standing just outside the doorway, a hand still raised to continue knocking on the door while her other tried to insert a radish into the keyhole...

Minato got beneath her shoulder just in time to catch her weight, the utterly wasted girl collapsing onto him in her drunken stupor. The presence of something other then the ground beneath her snapped Haihane to something like awareness of her surroundings, eyes trying and failing to focus on something as Minato slowly manoeuvred her into the Inn before he closed and locked the door. No sooner had he done that then a roar of anger blasted from her lungs, a combat stance surging through her limbs and nearly throwing him across the hall.

"Aaaaahhhh'm not even tipshy! How dare you call *hic* me a lightweight gigantic boobsh, ah could *hic*...ah couldsh..." Her hands rose to cradle her head and Minato settled down from his panicked stance, just in time to once more jump away from her as she continued, "Ah bet I could table you under the drink...and you-!" Whirling she pointed at a wall, then scratched her head at the absence of a anyone where she was pointing, shrugging and turning to look his way.

Her angry gaze found him and instantly her entire bearing softened. Anger now forgotten she slurred in a deeply affronted tone, "Minato! They shaid ah wash drunk *hic* ah came here sho...sho you could tell *hic* me ah'm not!"

"Sorry, Haihane-chan...I think you are a little drunk."

Minato's chuckling statement met a bewildered look from his Sekirei, then that look morphed into an expression of such betrayal he very nearly took back his claim. Tears bubbled from her eyes as she clung to him, whimpering, "Butsh, butsh! Minato ah'm not drunk, I only drank a wittle shhake...and it *hic* tashtesh sho funny *hic*!" Her giggling at her own words assured him there was no lasting harm to her emotions, so reassured he got back underneath her shoulder and started to walk her up to her room, Haihane's stream of speech remaining unsteady and mostly nonsensical.

He had gotten her to the foot of the stairs when she once more addressed him, "Ah don't know why ah alwaysh think shake'sh sho bad Minato-chan, you jush need ta drink a little bit and then it'sh really nice and shtuff and...and *hic*...and you should drink with us next time..."

Tuning out her conspiratorial whispers that they'd tell the bartender he was twenty-two so when he figured out they were lying they could say he was really twenty-one, Minato instead focused on her dishevelled appearance. With a reluctant look up the stairs Minato changed course away from sleep and towards the downstairs toilet instead, already thinking of how best to prop her against the sink while he helped her clean of some of the mess and make-up.

'Must have been a good night.'

He repeated that thought to himself throughout the trials of getting her into the bathroom without making too much more noise, then getting her cleaned up without embarrassing himself or her (assuming she remembered this in the morning), something he was close to done with when she burst into thick sobs, collapsing into him and burying her face in his chest.

Panic filled his voice and suddenly the fact she had come home alone is all he can think about, what if something happened and she forgot it in her drunken haze? What if the earlier anger meant there had been an argument? What if-?

"Mah favourite progaaamm! Ah forgot to record it!"

His arms descended about her shaking shoulders, a slight smile on his face as he said, "I thought so, so I made sure to set it to record myself." her sobs slowed and finally stopped, a disbelieving face turned to look at him as she continued to hiccup occasionally, "Rea-*hic*, really?" At his nod she smiles lazily. Leaning into him and looking up, he can't do anything but lean down, drawn to her even when she's messy and dishevelled and barely coherent.

She has adoration in her eyes as looking up at him, her wide smile is soft and lilts her slurred speech as she speaks.

"You're-!", At first it's an outburst yet again, but as she continues, "You're sho niccccssshhhh Minaato," her voice softens and her hiccups stop altogether, her hands at the back of his neck and pulling them closer, "ish shorta, shortuv like ah'm on fire...All burning and you makesh it feel sho're really nicsh...and I really, really wanna..." Drawing closer and closer their lips are less then an inch apart when her face abruptly goes green. Two pairs of horrified eyes meet and her cheeks balloon.


The vomit splashes into the toilet, Minato having just barely gotten her there in time. Stroking her back in soothing circles. He held back Haihane's hair as she retched and wondered why she still accepted Kaze-chan's drinking challenges. He supposes it's not surprising with her stubborn, challenge-loving nature.

'I should probably talk to Kazehana, this much is a bit...'

Another retch pulls back his attention and it's almost half an hour later that he finally has her tucked into bed, cleaned up, changed for bed (thankfully she managed most of that herself), well hydrated and softly snoring in his shoulder on the way up. He had carried her up the stairs, shocked to find her loud antics had failed to wake anyone else, and despite the task...he lingered at the door staring at her face then on to the other sleeping girls in that room.

The longing is like a physical pull, one he fights back with a patient smile and a rub at the sore spot atop his head. Still it's not easy to quietly slide the door shut and turn away.

Walking back down the hall he berated himself silently for nearly kissing her in her state, vaguely disgusted with himself for nearly taking advantage no matter how willing she had been. Then a slight sound stops him in his tracks, stepping back a little he puts his ear to the door he had so recently closed and hears the most mystifying thing from Haihane that day.

"Ah wuv you Minato...come here and..."

Leaving once he was sure she wasn't calling for him outside of her dreams his brow furrowed at that last. She even dreams about him, really...

There were many things about Haihane that Minato did not understand.

Her love for him was what confused him most of all...

But it was a mystery he was deeply thankful for. So he had a spring in his step as he walked the hall as quietly as he could, happy to finally be on his way to a good night's sleep. 'Strange, I didn't leave the door to the furo open.'

As he drew level with the bathing room door he peered inside, a chill in the air shivers his body. An instant later a very feminine, very naked form tackled him into the open doorway. Minato crashing to the floor with the moonlight dimly illuminating Akitsu straddling him. Her face it's normal expressionless self but for rosy cheeks and unfocused eyes and 'she went drinking too you idiot!'

A monotone, female voice drifted out of the bathroom, speaking right over the nervous male stuttering emanating from the same place, "I apologise for my roughness Minato-sama, I require you to engage in carnal intercourse with me. I am drunk and Kazehana has assured me I will explew- expro- exprob-."


"Yes, that is indeed the word which I was attempting to..."

In the darkness of the hallway a door cracked open with the sound of snapping patience and two sleepless nights. The continuing negotiations in the bath soon to be cut short.

A glint of steel and a terrible mask were the only warning they would have.

Sixth Feather; Confusion

Well AgLingua42, I really hope you read this 'cause if it wasn't for you it wouldn't be here. Thanks for suggesting this one, I had a lot of fun writing it...once I finally focused on it that is. Sorry again for the long wait guys.

Sorry about the tense confusion in this one, the memories thing really knocked me off game for them and...well I'll try to fix it later once I've gotten back my bearings.

Oh and Seita and Setsuko (just in case anyone searches those names) are characters from Grave of the Fireflies, one of the most beautiful, profound and UNHAPPY war films I have ever seen. It is not a pleasant experience so please don't go after it based on the mention of these names in a happy film here. The film they watched was the exact opposite of that heart-breaking masterpiece and the use of those names was simply a meta-joke at Musubi's habit of speaking of horrible things in her normal voice. I doubt even she could have done it after seeing this particular film though.

The ending is kinda...meh but I can't seem to flow it properly and I was loathe to drop a joke from there so...well as ever do please tell me what you think, reviews make me write faster after all. XD