Chapter 8

"Masaoka! Yayoi!" Nobuchika barked, "You're with me". Akane began to rise from her work station as well. "You remain here Inspector. Its only a low level area stress warning, plus we need your report on last week's case". Akane sank back down as the senior inspector and the two enforcers strode purposefully out of the room. She sighed and cast a glance at her co-workers. Kagari was immersed in a video-game at the farthest desk, and Kougami working with his back to her at a computer.

"Mmmm?" he replied without turning or ceasing work.
"You remember the techniques we discussed a few weeks ago, when we trained a the pool?" His back stiffened and he stopped typing. I thought she's forgotten about that.

"Do you think you could teach me this evening?" Spinning his chair around to face her his eyes were concerned, but his voice level. "You're sure you'd like me to do that?". She nodded but he wasn't convinced. He tried again "Would you prefer if I asked Yayoi to show you-"

"You'll be fine! In fact I would prefer it. I know you're a good teacher and I'm used to training with you. I'm sure she's be too busy anyway." She finished with a smile and he seemed reassured. This trend of making sure Akane was always comfortable had started to pervade their training sessions ever since their lesson at the pool. They had re-established their easy friendship while training, though Kougami had restricted them to minimal contact unless Akane specifically asked otherwise. Even then, he was reluctant, which made his student feel frustrated and patronized. Nevertheless he acquiesced "Okay then, at tonight's training". They both turned back to their work with the slightly alien feeling that always occurs when an everyday pattern it broken. It had been the first time they discussed their training together outside of the gym. Nor had they let the ease they felt while training bleed into their Inspector-Enforcer relationship. This was not purposeful, but rather an unspoken feeling that it was not necessary for the rest of their team to know what they were doing.

With a start, Akane realized she was already ten minutes into her lunch break. She stood up and bustled off to the cafeteria with a load of papers under her arm. As she passed Kagari he was still furiously mashing away at buttons on the small hand-held console. In her haste however, she failed to notice that the game itself had been paused long ago. When she had passed out of the room the mischievous redhead finally laid the game aside and sauntered up to Kougami, grinning from ear to ear.

Akane sat on the floor absent mindedly stretching. Kougami was uncharacteristically late which gave her time to muse on the upcoming lesson. This might be difficult. She genuinely did want to learn this kind of self defense. She's read somewhere that having the knowledge could darken a person's pass, as it made them think about scenarios where they would have to use the skills. Though she was sure that knowing how to fend off a man with lecherous intent would make her feel better. The problem would be Kougami treating her like a porcelain doll. Not that she would ever say it, but she felt as though she'd like to point out that she was not the one society had deemed emotionally unstable. Akane played out an imaginary conversation. YES! You broke a boundary but I'm OK! In fact that's why I want you to do this with me, I don't need to feel inhibited with you. We both know this attraction is going no where seeing as its completely one sided so the only way this is going to be awkward is if you make it that way! She smiled wryly, the only Kougami to hear those words would be the one inside her head. The reply of Imaginary-Kougami to this tirade was curtailed due to the entrance of the real article, and he looked murderous. Trailing just behind him was a buoyant Kagari. The smaller enforcer waved enthusiastically "Hello Akane, Kougami sensei invited me along-

"No, I didn't. You eavesdropped and followed me."
"I didn't know you could eavesdrop on a conversation that wasn't private." He turned to Akane with wide open eyes in the facade of innocence. "I'm sorry, are these private lessons?" Kougami cut in with a sound of frustration before she could reply. "Of course not! Just..go get some crash mats, we're doing ground grappling" Kagari raised an eyebrow, bowed deeply and sauntered off. Kougami scowled at the insinuation behind "private lessons". Unlikely, at best she views me as some sort of harmless sexual predator he thought with distaste. Turning to Akane he asked "Is this still alright with you? I'll make sure he's not too much of an ass".

"I'll be fine" she replied rather too curtly. She stung a little at his immediate rebuttal to Kagari's insinuation, although she knew it was foolish to feel it.

Kagari interrupted them by calling them over to the middle of the floor where he had set up a number of interlocking foam mats. Kougami took charge, "Kagari, lie one your back with your legs bent and knees pointing up". The redhead smirked and assumed the right position, but the expression was wiped off his face when Kougami was the one to kneel in the spot between his thighs. "I thought Akane was the one learning?"
"She is, so I might as well use you for demonstration so she can watch." Without another word he pinned Kagari's arms above his head and addressed his student. "If your arms are being held what tools do you still have?". Before she could answer Karagri yelled "Legs!" and locked his legs around Kougami's neck pulling tight. Kougami coughed once, then tapped out. "Exactly" said Kougami, though he was starring daggers at the other enforcer who appeared oblivious.

"Now you try on Kagari" He's a pain but as long as he behaves himself this might actually work out. I won't have to grapple with Akane too much. Plus Kougami guessed he would get some satisfaction from watching Akane put him in a choke hold. Akane lay down and Karagri grabbed her arms grinning. He began to say something about going easy on her but the second half of his sentence cut off abruptly as the inspector's thighs closed around his windpipe. He tapped out and leaned back looking at her in awe. "You're stronger than you look". Akane blushed. Kougami glowered.

The lesson continued in a similar pattern. Kagari and Kougami demonstrated. Akane practiced with Kagari. They covered simple ways to incapacitate or get away from an aggressor from beneath. Kagari behaved himself, mostly. His salacious comments weren't new to either of the other two. However, halfway through the first hour Kagari was getting bored. While in the aggressive position over Akane and mentioned offhandedly, "You know I was talking to Hiromi from Division 5 and she said the best thing to do is pretend to enjoy it, then when you get the chance, bite his tongue off! Perhaps you should try." He began to quickly close the space between his and Akane's faces and just as quickly received a knee to the stomach for his troubles. He rolled off her in exaggerated throes of pain. Akane giggled "better that than no tongue, though maybe I should have bitten you, it might have quietened you down for once!". Kagari guffawed, he wasn't used to this playful Akane and he was beginning to see the appeal.

Still in awe of Akane, Kagari didn't note Kougami's icy tone when he stated "I'll be defensive this time, I want to try a throw" and lay down. However when Karagi assumed position their eyes locked. Kougami's expression was wolf-like. A real flicker of fear passed through Kagari, but it was quickly followed by the resigned smirked of a court jester walking to the gallows. "So that's how it is with you after all" he murmured, "well you'd better let me have it". Seconds later Kougami's feet had propelled him up and over, far clear of the safety mats. He landed on the hard gym floor with a sickening thud.

Akane rushed over to see that he was alright. "Ah I think I'm fine" but on catching sight of Kougami's face he winced suddenly "actually on second thought I might go find some ice for my head". Kagari walked briskly from the gym followed by Akane's worried gaze and a monotone "Sorry, my mistake" from Kougami.

The Enforcer's intense feeling of satisfaction was suddenly cut off when a furious Akane rounded on him. "Why did you do that?!"
"Do what?"
"Hurt Kagari!"
"It was an a accident." She raised her eye brows but said nothing.

She had a shrewd suspicion he had had some misguided idea about 'protecting' her which increased her irritation. Perhaps she didn't have to do all the dirty work of an enforcer but she wasn't helpless!

"Lie down" she ordered

"You want to keep going?"
"Of course I do! Now lie down. I want you to show me the throw you just did."
Kougami reluctantly lay on his back and Akane kneeled over him, pressing his wrists into the ground. He hesitated, frowning up at her. "What?" she demanded.
"I don't want to-"
"To what? Hurt me? Frighten me?" her frustration with him was beginning to boil over and the sensible, detached part of herself knew she was about to say something she might regret. "You think I'm afraid of you now like some rabid dog just because you kissed me once? Its fine, its really fine! I know it was just a joke, it meant nothing to you! Its not a big deal! I- I-" in her frustration words began to fail her and she was panting "I'll show you! Show you that it was nothing!" She leaned forward and planted her lips on his. For a moment he lay under her, immobile with surprise, then, he replied with force. His wrists came away from her hands and moved to her back and hair. Now it was Akane's turn to be startled, but the feeling was momentary. Vaguely aware that she was at the crossroads where she could pull back having proven her point with impunity, she plunged instead down the path of no return. Lips parted, tongues tasted. Hands clutched desperately then more gently as the kiss deepened. She let her weight press into him and his skin felt molten where they touched. Their frenzied embrace slowed and they drew breath. Face to face they looked at one another. This time no one laughed or drew back, they both knew this had been no game. Looking into one anothers eyes they asked the same question "What have we begun?"

Kagari was holding an ice pack to an egg sized bump on the back of his head. Despite this he was grinning broadly and walking with a spring in his step towards Shion's office where he was sure to find Yayoi and the blonde analyst. Entering the office he found the pair on a couch, Shion flipping through a magazine and Yayoi immersed in painting her nails. "Guess where I've been!" he announced. Yayoi spared him a glance and replied in a bored voice "Interfering with Akane and Kougami's training by the looks of it". His jaw dropped. "How did you know they were training together?!" This time Yayoi took a full three seconds from her nails to deliver a truly withering gaze which conveyed the idea that only an imbecile wouldn't be privy to this information.

"Why didn't you say anything?!"
"Well that's their business isn't it," Shion put in idly ",it doesn't bother us". Kagari quickly recovered from the anticlimax of his news and clamored for more information.

"Do you think they're...?"
"Hmm, no. Not yet anyway." Yayoi replied, gathering up her bottles carefully.

"How would you know if they're in that kind of relationship? Kagari shot back peevishly. This time Shion stood up and began to usher him towards the door. "Well sweetheart" she smiled sweetly "it takes one to know one." The door closed on his face before he could process the insult.

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