Kai nodded, then knelt. "Hey," he said soothingly, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and squeezing her gently. "You're just a god, Rin. You're not perfect." He kissed her temple. "A person who never makes mistakes is a person who never learns anything. I'll see you tomorrow." He stood and moved to the door. "As will Shari."
He left the palace almost at a jog, his own words echoing in his ears and causing his heart to race. Because I do love her. Until they'd left his mouth he hadn't been certain. Seeing her up ahead, he allowed himself to slow. "Shari," he called, "wait." As he reached her he touched her shoulder, trying to get her to turn and face him.
Despite it being noon, the day had come to a false start, with the sun just barely eeking out a ray through the thick overbearing mists. It would have been cold if not for the penetrating humidity, so it instead just settled on the barren dirty warmth typical of the rainy season.
Shari couldn't bring herself to think about anything in particular. All the promises she'd ever made had been more or less broken. Rin would never know this kind of hopelessness, but love had fooled the stoic monk into thinking she might have shared a portion of it... Kami, it was pathetic in hindsight. Like the love between a dog and it's owner.
She probably hurt Kai too, acting so self serving. This distance she had placed between them was more than a little intentional, her standard cold demeanour attempting to hide the facts. To re-bury the pain she had caused him before the two had even met.
"...Shari... wait..." A hand on her shoulder. She reacted quickly, grasping the wrist with force, but it soon melted away when she added up who it belonged to. Kai had followed her?
For a moment, she just stood and stared down at him blankly, stone-faced barriers completely in effect. Her torso didn't even change direction. The phrase "You probably think I'm a bitch." Came to mind, but she stopped herself. Clearly he didn't, if he came after her...
"...I can't apologise for everything forever." She spoke after a pause, through an implied guilt made her break eye contact and gaze down at the dirt instead. "...It's... It's not in human nature. I can't be a dog anymore. All I can say is that I have done horrible things to Rin, the others... you, Mister Kai..."
She was still holding his hand to her shoulder, but her face continued to turn until she was looking in completely the opposite direction, at the buildings adjacent.
"...Even... Even if you hate me, I can't take it back. What the fuck is the point in being nice about it all? Nobody really forgives. Nobody really forgets."
"Shari... Rin was wrong. She owes you an apology." He stepped closer, his free hand hesitantly coming up to cradle her waist. "You don't have to be nice about it, or apologetic for being angry. You we're right... and your anger is understandable; hatred, even. Her hypocrisy is staggering."
"Forgiveness... that's something I don't know if you'll ever attain. If any of us will. But we can atone, and be better people for it. Move on from the blood that stains our pasts. Stop apologising."
As much as she wanted to continue being angry, Kai's hands seem to absorb the woman's fury, putting her at relative ease. Revolving her body within his grasp, Shari silently just clung to his form and allowed herself to indulge in the warmth of another for once.
"...For all my own stupidity and weakness I can hardly call her a hypocrite..." When she spoke again, her voice was hushed, jaded. "Please don't get me wrong, that was never my intention. It's just... just..."
Her head buried itself in Kai's shoulder, and her hands rediscovered the roadmap of the rippling muscles and scars upon his back. "I'm scared, Kai. I don't know how to live my life anymore. I tried to break you off and live pragmatically, so I could utterly make up for my shitty, childish way of doing things, but... It wasn't any good. You have every reason to despise me in the first place, aswell... so..."
Both arms seized up and became solid now, holding back the urge to squeeze out her withheld feelings. "...I'm crushed by the idea that I can only make your wounds worse while you clean mine... What could I be to you that's so important?"
"I..." He paused, then laughed softly, all the tension draining out of his body. "You make me feel good, Shari. Being around you, being with you. It... feels good. I can be honestly myself. I don't have to pretend- well, anything. You understand that, me, more than anyone else." he shrugged and pulled her closer. "Even if it doesn't really mean anything, I want to feel good. It's scary as hell. But I... well, somewhere along the line I fell in love with you, Shari Tsunzaku." He stroked her hair, and half smiled. "I suspect it started when you punched me for being a self pitying wanker."
"... fell in wi-.... me?..." Shari's hands coiled and raw emmotion flooded into her voice.
Betraying your master was a feeling that could never be shaken. That weight remained. But now there were embers in the furnace again, a feeling to follow, and a reason not to die in quite such a hurry. She could have cried, but far be it for the hardbitten monk to actually understand why.
Her hands sought the sides of his face, then she brought her lips to his for a prolonged kiss.
"...I... I think when we first met... I recognised the look of a man who had learnt to ask for nothing." She spoke softly into his ear again, tone bearing just a hint of wild, haphazardly controlled sweetness. "...and then... you went and made me human. It's inexplicable. I have no idea how it happened.... If you really want me... then I can't do anything but stay here and ease your wounds, really. You've become... well, my bearing."
"I knew we said no more appologies, but..." She laughed. It was just a short outburst, but it wasn't maniacal. It did not have a cruel edge. The towering woman just laughed like she hadn't a care left in the world. "...I'm sorry in advance, if that bearing makes me sock you one again sometime."
Kai smiled. "Trust me, I aim to do everything I can to ensure that's one experience I never have to share with you again."
Bringing her closer, he murmured, "there are others I think could bear repeating though," and kissed her.
Hot Tub Time Machine
The next day the group once again made their way to the palace. Hopefully Rin would be feeling better
This time Rin hadn't decided to meet the group in the harems. I mean, well, in fairness, what kind of weirdo carries out important conversations in a harem?! That's just silly.
Instead she met the group in one of the palace's hotspring baths. Literally. Rin. Naked. In a hotspring. Oh gods, focus, focus.
Yuan was with her, too, in the hotspring. She was also naked, although in fairness, that wasn't much less clothing then the gorgeous Monk usually wore. Also, in fairness, the odds of anyone noticing Yuanjun, however sexy she was, when she was standing beside, (well, more like against, as Rin and Yuan were busy sucking face up until a few seconds after the group arrived) a literal sex goddess were pretty slim.
Guess Rin was feeling better.
"Hello lovelies!" she beamed, walking over to the edge of the spring and smiling up at the group and waving. She could have blinded them with her beauty, if she so chose, and all things considered, it probably would have been easier to focus. "You should come in, the water's nice and warm, and Yuanjun and me are in it, so it's hot too." Cue the musical laughter. Rin then smiled softly up at Shari. "I'm sorry, babe. I was emotional yesterday, and I let it cloud my judgment. Forgive me?"
"Please, no apology necessary. You're still my master." Shari replied dismissively, through the events of yesterday did play on her nerves. Wearing little more than a towel infront of a sex goddess tends to make one come across as meek, also. "Everything that needed to be said has been said, and I'm still alive. That's alot better than I could have asked for from some of my older commanders."
Making a sort of sheepish grin, it seemed almost as if that last bit was supposed to be a rather grim compliment. Her arms sought Kai's company, like they had enjoyed for the most part of last night, but clinging onto him for confidence probably would have looked a little childish here and now. Instead, Shari removed her towel and entered the hot baths herself, but sat on the opposite side from Rin, with her head lowered humbly. "Rest assured, my faith in you was never so blind."
Kai was uncomfortable. He was surrounded by hot, wet, naked women and a great deal more exposed than he was used to. Pulling his robe tighter around him and unsure where to look, he instead gazed at his feet.
It became quickly evident he was utterly unable to form a coherent sentence when suddenly confronted with naked anybody, let alone a naked sex goddess and her beloved. There simply was no etiquette guide as to what to do here. Realising this, Kai simply turned his back on them and played with the foxes who gambolled around the private courtyard.
"It's good to uh, s-see you looking so... well," Kai risked a glance over his shoulder, "after yesterday. It seemed you had a very uhm, nasty shock."