Chapter 6

Kougami stood at the entrance to the gym and stated into the wide empty space.

The space stared back.

He zeroed in on the corner where it had happened. The kiss. The small area seemed to call to him, mocking him. 'What are you going to do? Come and train here as usual? Pretend nothing happened? We both know you cant do that'.

He cursed under his breath. Giving into his attraction, however briefly had been stupid. His thirst hadn't been slaked, quite the opposite. And now he was having a conversations with empty rooms. Pulling out his pycho-pass, his brow furrowed in confusion. He'd expected his confused emotions to have degraded him to a darker hue. However to his surprise he was now registering dark evergreen, still unacceptable by society's standards, but lighter than his usual inky blue.

Shaking himself mentally he pocketed the pass. He didn't have time for this, he needed a plan of how he was going to avoid training in the gym today. The only positive thought he could muster was that Akane didn't seem to be affected by what had happened. Though a small, prideful part of him, felt that this wasn't a good thing at all. A bead of sweat slid down his temple, past his jaw and splashed onto the floor. He contemplated the drop for a moment, so uncharacteristic was its appearance. Get a grip, its just a girl... An undeniably attractive girl... A girl who's grit occasionally shows through her innocent veneer in the most intriguing way...

He shook himself again and looked down at the drop, then turned abruptly on his heel and walked away from the gym without a backward glance.

Akane was hurrying down the hall toward the gym arranging in her mind how she would behave. She'd spent much of the previous night contemplating what to do and had decided, in a somewhat cowardly fashion she admonished to herself, to do nothing. She would be cheerful and friendly as usual and act as though what had happened hadn't effected her any more than it had him. That's to say, not at all. The thought that he might somehow read in her features the amount of times a day her mind strayed back to that moment on the gym floor made her flush with chagrin.

She was concentrating so hard she almost walked headlong into a stoic looking Kougami who was coming her way.

"Hello! Aren't we going to the gym today?"
"You're good on technique but we need to build up your stamina and lung capacity. Follow me." was the only answer she got in reply. He walked off without looking at her.

She stifled a sigh and followed him, retracing her steps up the hall. The gruffness of his tone had confirmed any lingering doubt (and dashed any lingering hope) she had. That the kiss had been nothing to him, a game, now he was back to being a her teacher.

Knowing better than to ask she trailed behind him until he walked though a large set of double doors to their left.

The smell hit her like a wall and the blood drained from her face. Chlorine.

When she zoned back in Kougami was saying something: "...you could do laps to start then I'll give you some other excersizes". Finishing the sentence but receiving no reply he finally looked at Akane and found her looking dumb struck. "What's the matter?" he asked sarcastically, "can't swim?". Though he immediately wished he's used a softer tone as his student turned bright red and slowly nodded in mortification.

"What- why? I though everyone had to learn at school these days."

Her voice barely more than a whisper she replied"I was always in special extra dance classes while my classmates had gym class".

Kougmai ran a hand through his hair. Things were not going to plan. He had counted on sitting off to one side while she swam laps, having minimal interaction and generally trying not to think about her. An occupation taking up more and more of his time these days.

"We'll just have to teach you then"

Akane shook her head emphatically. Learning new things with Kougami on dry ground was one thing, but learning to swim like a child from someone she was becoming so attracted to? She shuddered internally. She didn't think she could take the embarrassment.

Mind working on overdrive Akane stuttered out "I-I don't have a bathing suit". Her teacher raised and eyebrow, "you have your holo-compact right?".

"Yes but I don't have one on there"

"Then download one". Before she could think up another excuse he walked through a pair of sliding glass doors, leaving her alone to change. This struck her as odd. You don't see anything when someone changes holo-clothes but it's considered polite not to watch. Though politeness regarding her body didn't seem to be a strong point of his. I guess he's really trying to send the message that he's not interested... Good. This is one sided Akane, don't forget that or you'll embarrass yourself even more.

She took out her compact and scanned through the popular swimsuits, disregarding a number of frilly two pieces she settled on a seal coloured grey one-piece with a high neckline. Programming it to fit her she grimaced, she hadn't noticed how alarmingly low it dipped at the back from the picture. Oh well, too late now.

Entering the pool enclosure Kougami threw her a towel immediately. Once more without looking at her. Such a gentleman all of a sudden...

He strode off to a small room on the far end of the pool and his voice echoed back to her sounding hollow against the tiles and glass "I'll be there soon, just slide in at the shallow end".

Akane thought this was much easier said than done was but grateful for the privacy for her first encounter with the pool. Carefully making her way down the ladder she stood in comfortable, room temperature, water up to her waist. She took a few steps and the water swirled pleasantly around her, perhaps this wouldn't be so bad... Looking up Kougami was returning having taken off his shirt and rolling his usual training pants up to the knee. Apparently he didn't have the benefit of a holo-compact though Akane couldn't say he looked the worse for it. Her attention was quickly drawn from his body to the long, bright red, cylinder of foam he was holding. She suddenly wished she knew how to hold her breath underwater properly, if she did she surely would have sunk beneath the surface. Instead she pulled a face which made her teacher laugh. "You look like you've eaten a lemon".

"This is embarrassing".

"Well I've never taught anyone to swim before so we're in the same boat" he tossed her the flotation device "take it, you'll need it".

Kougami sat on the edge of the pool, he couldn't help smiling a little as he watched Akane practice kicking up and down the pool. It was like watching a little storm cloud paddling along, her bad mood had hardly assuaged at all throughout the lesson. Though he wasn't sure why. I'm just a subordinate, why does she care so much what I think? His musing was disrupted when a bright red flotation device topped with a frown swam up next to him. "Can I stop now?".

"Yes, that's enough for today. You'll feel how much swimming takes it out of you soon".

She discarded the pool toy and moved towards the ladder. Pulling herself up she found his words to be true as she was stuck by a heavy fatigue. Moving her body seemed much harder with gravity pulling her down all of a sudden. She retrieved her towel and began wearily drying herself off. The back of her neck prickled and she turned to find Kougami looking intently at her, his expression unreadable. Clearing her throat she said "do I have something on my face?". She surprised them both a little with her tone, she vaguely realised in the back of her mind that her fatigue was lowering her inhibitions. She decided she'd better leave quickly- if she could muster the energy.

"I was just thinking I'd done a good job on you". She raised her eyebrows. "You look stronger".

"Well its nothing you haven't felt before" she said dryly, the words were out before she could stop herself. When she realised what she'd said it was all she could do not to clap her hands over her mouth.

Kougami's eyes widened slightly for a moment, then he returned her dry smile. "Well I'm sure anyone would think twice about trying to take advantage of you now"

"So you admit you were taking advantage of me?" She wasn't sure why she was pressing the point. Wasn't this the exact opposite of what she had planned to do? I should go before I make this worse

"No" came the calm reply, "I was teaching you a lesson." Though his voice was steady he couldn't help his lip pulling up slightly at one corner at the look on her pouting face. Akane's eyes narrowed as if ready to retort, then she sighed, wandered over to the nearest chair and collapsed into it. Kougami sensei, she thought, as unreadable as always. She could still feel his gaze on her but allowed her eyes to close anyway, she was very tired. A phrase he had said swirled through her thoughts '...take advantage of you...'

The teacher liked looking at her like this, slightly bedraggled, eyes closed. She looked peaceful and vulnerable. Then a frown crossed Akane's face and her eyes snapped open. When she spoke the slightly playful edge to their previous bickering was gone.

"Kougami, you remember our first assignment together? Where I shot you..." He nodded needing no reminder. She went on feeling uncomfortable, but this had been tugging on her mind for some time. "I-I sometimes I still think about that woman. I want to know...is there a way to fight.. to stay strong...even if I'm thrown to the ground even if...". She didn't need to finish the sentence, they both knew what had happened to the woman. Her mind reeled slightly, she was only just now realizing how big a part her first experience in the field had played in prompting her to learn to fight. It seemed like a weight off her shoulders to admit it to someone.

Now it was his turn to feel uncomfortable. His usually stoic features betrayed some emotions that Akane couldn't quite make out. Concern? Regret? However his voice was flat when he replied, "Yes there is, I can teach you. Whenever you're ready, let me know". He silently retrieved his shirt from a nearby rail and began to leave. He was a few steps out the doorway when he stopped, turned back and said an extremely surprising string of words in a stilted, awkward voice: "I'm sorry...if what I did last week made you feel...reminded you of that woman". Then he was gone before Akane could react.

She sat alone and pondered his words. It was a few moments before it hit her he thinks I asked because I was uncomfortable with what he did. She had been shocked for sure, but even if the kiss had been just a game to him there was nothing malicious in it, nothing like that man Kougami had decomposed. She shuddered and drew the towel around her more tightly. The truth was she had asked him because, despite everything, he was the person she felt most comfortable to learn those things with. What a mess She wearily gathered her things and moved towards the door.

"GOOOOOOOOOODMORNING MS AKANE!" the AI housekeeper chirped and bustled around the room. The inspector rolled over and groaned remembering the events of the previous day. The mortifying swimming lesson and their revealing conversation. Did I really ask Kougami to teach me how to fight off a rapist? It all seemed so much more inappropriate in the light of day when she wasn't half asleep from swimming. "If that's what I say when I'm tired remind me not to drink ever again". "OHHHH, WHAT DID YOU SAY MISS AKANE?" She groaned and rolled back over.

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