The Number Two.

Minato waited for the entire cheering crowd to stop calling his name. Looking at the still, battered Kusano, a tinge pulled in his chest and he realised just how much it truly hurt to see his Sekirei on the floor like this.

Minato started:

- Kusano… No. Kuu. Kuu, please, please wake up.- Minato watched as he saw no movement from Kusano. -Kuu-chan. Please, I know you can hear me. I can hear you, I can, faintly. I can hear you calling for me, in my heart. But you've got to listen to me calling for you. You've got to, Kuu. You've got to listen to the people who love you.-

The entire arena was silent as they watched if Kusano would move; but there was no movement from Kusano. Kazehana watched from the seat as she could only wait and listen, fighting the urge to try and override her Ashikabi's decision.

-KUSANO! WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING? ARE YOU INSANE? WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO GO THERE BY YOURSELF AND FIGHT? WHY DIDN'T YOU ASK SOMEONE ELSE? WH- Tsukiumi's tough exterior begun to crack as the young girl she had been watching over gave no response -Why wasn't I there to talk you out of the stupid stuff ideas you had? When Minato decided to help that useless Song Sekirei and her Ashikabi to escape, I didn't want to go and help. I didn't want to listen to Minato. I was being a disobedient Sekirei… And an even worse wife- The water-bearer begun to weep, sobbing as she spoke. -But you, Kusano, you sat there, on top of the roof with me… And you taught me that I was too locked up in my thoughts about how much against the rules this was against, instead of just how wonderful an Ashikabi I had. You taught me that I should use all my strength to help my Ashikabi, rather than do nothing. You did all that you could. So please… Please…- Tsukiumi begun to wail loudly, not realising that Kusano was slightly twitching from her heart felt message.

-Kusano, you taught me all that I could have learnt about loyalty and love, in one meeting.- Ekai started to speak, getting closer to the screen. -The very moment I met you, officially, you stood right up in front of me and asked me a question that many adults could never had asked me. You are such a small girl with a big heart, brave mind and a sensible, pure spirit. Come back to us all, so we can… So we can all spend time in the Inn, together. Because that is your favourite thing to do, isn't it?- Ekai gripped on to the shoulder of Homura as he saw the slightest movement from Kusano as she tried to climb out of the darkness.

"JUST GIVE UP! She won't be getting up" Amebane chuckled and sat down on the ground, crossing his legs. He thought this entire display was hilarious.

"Hey, you asshole, if you win, you're dying. Save us all the trouble and terminate yourself. Because, if not; I'm going to terminate you. I'm going to shred you into little pieces, make clones of your body parts and then feed them to dogs. Then there will be no way of being resurrected when this game is over. Not just a termination. A murder. Am I clear?." Tora growled, still on her hands and knees, tapping on the ground, trying to wake Kusano up.

"Don't you think she sounds a little like Karasuba…?" Benitsubasa whispered into Haihane's ear.

-Mina-tan, we haven't got much longer on the air…- Matsu turned and looked at Minato, eyes full of trust for her Ashikabi's next decision. Minato nodded and took a deep breath, before opening his mouth to talk:

-Kuu-chan. I know you can hear me. I know you're there… When we first met… When I first winged you, I was still a young boy at heart, unsure about who I was or what was going on. But it was from the deep, unending love from you. Your constant trust and belief in me helped me to become a young man. A man that my mother, sister and Sekirei can be proud of. There are always times where I don't know what to do, how to do it or even if I should be doing it at all. But you, all of you, helped me realise that you always being there, is what makes my life worth living. I had failed getting into university twice. Yet, I... I met you amazing people and became an Ashikabi. I am someone, something, now. And that's thanks to you, Kusano. I know you were feeling scared, and worthless. But you are not a burden. I truly love you, Kuu.- The entire arena was silent as Minato spoke. When he had finished, people were in shock. For, some had just begun to truly understand an Ashikabi's love. After seconds of silence, Kazehana began clapping, followed by Uzume… after a second, the applause had rippled and picked up like a Mexican wave. The clapping turned into a thunder of sound, drumming into each and every person's ears. People started jumping out of their seats, yelling things: 'C'mon Kusano! You're not dead yet!' and 'Atta girl, wake up!' As the video transmission started to cut off, Minato started calling Kusano gently. The visual of the gang ended transmission and Kusano's eyes flew open. She gasped for air and sat up, dazed. The entire arena roared in jubilee.


...


"You sounded pretty scary back there, Sunshine. I feared for that poor guy's life myself." Benitsubasa opened conversation with Tora.

"I've heard you get pretty violent when it comes to Musubi. We all have our passions." Tora mumbled.

"Yeah, but… You sounded a little…"

"Familiar?" Natsuo smirked and rubbed Benitsubasa's back. The pink-haired Sekirei looked him in the eye and wryly smiled, nodding at his statement. "Yes, I believe when you hang around with someone, you begin to pick up on their habits and lifestyle." Natsuo made eye contact with Tora, who turned her head away, leaving Natsuo with the chance to only see one half of her head, one colour and one side.

"I'm just glad Kusano won. Having two Karasubas on the loose cannot be healthy for the DS's reputation. God knows what Tora would have done if things didn't go well." Benitsubasa stated.

"I agree. I guess it's good that we all got the outcome that we wanted" Natsuo smiled.

"So I wasn't the only one rooting for the little girl, then?"

"No, I think we all were. Tora, especially" Haihane looked at Tora, who was still turned away from everyone else.

"Yeah, she must really care about her" Benitsubasa leaned back in her chair.

"Like she said, we all have our passions…"

"'She' is the cat's mother. Can you stop talking about me as if I've left the car? Actually… Driver! Here is fine, I'll walk the rest of the way." Tora exclaimed.

"But it's far from-"

"Since I joined the DS, we take car almost everywhere. I do not mind running and keeping healthy every once in a while" Tora spoke and jumped out of the car, running off into the darkened areas of the night.



"This game is absolutely great! Did you see the win that Kusano ended up having? I didn't even know she had that type of overwhelming power!" Hayato Mikogami said, his eyes full of glee as he grinned at Mutsu.

"The late nights often get you hyperactive." Mutsu bluntly said, looking at the young boy in front of him.

"I can't sleep after this! I'm staying up to plan a battle with all of you each against all the other Sekirei. I'm so excited!" Mikogami pulled out his phone and began furiously typing his game plan on his phone. Mutsu snatched it out of his hand and growled. "Mutsu! I've got to do this"

"Tomorrow. You need sleep. The drive from this arena is a long one."

"I'm not tired!"

"Prove it. Put your head down for 3 minutes. Let's see if you're awake at the end of it."

"Fine! I'll be up, more excited than ever!"

"Put your money where your mouth is."

Mikogami squinted at Mutsu before nodding and placing his head upon Mutsu's lap, facing away from his stomach.

"I told you, I'm not tired." Mikogami mumbled, shaking his head softly, his hair fell into his face.

"Okay." Mikogami's phone vibrated and he checked the sender: Minaka Hiroto. "Minaka just messaged you, here." He held the phone in front of Mikogami's face, but after a few seconds Mutsu realised that his Ashikabi wasn't moving. Mutsu leaned over to check if Mikogami was pretending, and heard some light snoring. "And you said you weren't tired. You didn't even last the first minute." Mutsu read the text and looked up, warily. I'm assuming that this means Akitsu, Himeko or I will be fighting?. He thought to himself.



"Leave the children at the Inn alone, Yume." Miya brushed Yume's wet hair as they sat in the bath together.

"But how am I supposed to find my one?" Yume whispered.

"You won't be the one to find them. Your heart will. It's fate, if it's supposed to happen, it will."

"Like it did with you and Seo?"

"No. You're the complete opposite to me. I was beginning to self-terminate until I was stabilized by being winged… You're not programmed to go through the same process."

Seo came in, eyes tripling in size as he saw an extra, naked Sekirei, of which he did not own. He jerked his head, turning around leaving the ladies to it. Miya furrowed her brow as she realised that Seo was not acting himself. It was odd: he's been rather quiet lately.

"Miya. I want that. I want that feeling ever-so badly."

"The feeling of being in love?"

"The feeling of being winged. You hate Seo, yet you seem so happy, as his Sekirei. A simple oaf. And you're owned by him."

Miya, who was still behind Yume, looked up from Yume's hair, a look of pain sprung across her face, before her feigning the words "He's my master, now. I care for him as a Sekirei should care for their husband."



Akitsu sat down on the balcony of Mikogami's mansion and sighed softly to herself. Her journey as a Sekirei had not been an easy one. She still vividly remembers the day the MBI chained her up and tampered with her so much that she had become 'broken' as a result of it. She remembers the pain she went through and the running she had to do after it. The modified her to the point of no return. She could not be winged. She could not be marked; constantly stained by the engraved markings upon her forehead. The cold breeze swept across her face and she smiled. If she could mention one thing that was positive about being cruelly disposed of; it would be that she enjoyed the cold and embraced it. It reminded her of her life, the people she had met and the temperature of her own heart, her own soul.

Lost in her thoughts, she tampered with the idea of how she could be winged, officially. She wondered if she should attempt to kiss Mikogami, as she had heard even Mutsu did. In the depth of her thoughts, her spirit was shaken up and she snapped out of her meditative trance. A split second later, Akitsu drew an icicle sword out of her power and sharply held it out. Akitsu blinked, Tora was standing with the sword at her throat. Any more pressure and blood would be drawn.

Akitsu arched her eyebrows and even rose one as she stood there inspecting Tora for a few seconds. Tora, who was still rather emotional, did not do anything but look straight ahead and wait for Akitsu to do away with the frozen weapon.

"You're that new Sekirei. The newer member of the DS?" Akitsu tilted her head as she spoke, hoping to get an answer. Tora grunted. "Why are you up here? Why are you travelling alone? Did you come here to assassinate me?" It was at this point, Tora moved her eyes gently to gaze upon Akitsu's. Tora's eyes glimmered a subtle golden hue as she waited to be released. This began to annoy Akitsu. She wanted verbal answers; and she wasn't a woman of many words herself. "WHY ARE YOU HERE AGAINST MASTER'S WISHES?!" Akitsu grabbed the neck of Tora and began to push her over the side of the balcony. Akitsu realised her grip was getting weaker, and Tora's neck seemed to be getting smaller. Within seconds, Tora was disappearing into thin air, with the real Tora sitting right above Akitsu. "What the…?"

"You sure know how to make first impressions, don't you?" Tora cheekily said, her smile as cheerful as usual. Akitsu looked up and saw the grinning Tora sitting above her, with the most welcoming smile Akitsu could ever feel.