in between

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They had nothing to say to each other. At this point, it had melted down into a staring-glaring –contest between the two of them from across the table. There was no point in being civil when it was blatantly obvious that they didn't get along. Youko sneered and fiddled with the cup of coffee between her hands. Keisuke's lip curled upwards in disgust and he sat back nonchalantly, swinging his feet up to rest on the table.

Pale fingers gripped the mug, a strangling motion she would've liked to put into use on the blond's neck. "Get your feet off my table," she spat through her tightly clenched teeth.

He ignored her.

A little twitch started underneath her eye and she had the sudden urge to throw the steaming beverage into his face. Perhaps that would get him to move his disgusting boots. Instead, she took a sip of coffee and put the cup onto the counter behind her before reaching forward calmly and shoving the table so far forward that Keisuke had nowhere to go but backward. Youko reveled in the sight of his green eyes widening as he began to fall.

"You bit-

He was cut off as Youji caught the chair with a deft hand. They hadn't noticed that the man had been so close, but when the former assassin didn't want to be noticed, he wouldn't be. The dark-haired man leaned over the blond and chastised lightly,

"Let's be cordial, Keisuke. We are guests here."

Youko felt like sniggering. She would never let Satori get the upper hand on her li-

A hand on her head quelled those particular thoughts and she looked up at the white-haired man who had also appeared quite seemingly out of nowhere.

"Youko, you should try to be on your best behavior, too."

Keisuke's eyes met hers and for the first time that day they had a common thought.

When were Toki and Ryudin going to come back from shopping?

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His arms were loaded with goods as he stood frozen, eyes glued to the stretch of magazines on display.

'You're asking me … what again?'

"The others!" Toki stepped within his line of gaze, her eyes flashing. "I can't believe we left them alone!"

Ryudin smirked. "That again."

The punch to his arm only made him grin wider. "I'm serious!" She shouted.

"Enough…" He said, as she threw another box of noodles at his head. Ow. "No one's going to lose an eye-" Ryudin danced to the left as a can of salsa grazed past his face. Then again…

Toki stalked off, her shopping list now crumpled within her clenched fist. "I can't help it," she threw back at him, a shadow of doubt present on her face. "You know I worry."

"Yeah. You always do."

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"I'm going to see what's taking them so long." The two voices were spoken in such unison that it seemed as if the statement had been planned between them.

Keisuke and Youko turned to each other with another scowl. They opened their mouths to say more but stopped as they heard muffled laughs. Satori and Youji were trying their damnedest not to, but something about the situation had set them off. Keisuke glared and Youko delivered a swift kick to Satori's shin.

This set the white-haired man off and he burst out into laughter, his head resting on one of his arms as the other beat against the tabletop. "Sorry, sorry," he apologized through his mirth. "Really. Youko and I will go help Toki and Ryudin. You guys are more than welcome to stay here."

Youji nodded in appreciation and pulled a wrinkled cigarette from his pocket and let it rest between his thin lips, unlit. "We'll take you up on that offer, then."

With a sigh of relief, Youko pushed her chair away and stood, ignoring the scraping sound as it slid across the floor. Taking the last gulp of her coffee, she wiped her mouth on her sleeve and continued out of the room. When she got to the doorway, she turned and leaned against the frame, waiting for Satori to catch up. With a nod to Youji and a vulgar motion directed at Keisuke, she left.

Satori just laughed light-heartedly and closed the door behind them.

"They'd better not mess up the kitchen," Youko grumbled as she pulled her hood over her head. The sun was known for being particularly harsh this time of day, and Youko's skin didn't take well to sunlight. Satori, after years of wandering around desert country, had build up a sort of resistance to it.

He stretched his long limbs and shook his head slowly. "I don't understand why you guys hate each other so much."

"Not hate," she admitted slowly. Satori could almost hear her smile. "It's … fun."

"Well, I'm not sure that Keisuke feels the same way."

Youko didn't say anything, but turned left and wandered into the relatively empty market. Most people did their shopping early in the morning, but they had only just arrived in the town, and it was well past noon by the time they had noticed that the house didn't have any food in it.

It wasn't hard to find the two, considering that Ryudin stood over six feet tall and had bright silver hair. Even if he had been normal in appearance, the fact that he was dancing around as Toki threw various groceries at him made them quite easy to locate.

Youko's face lit up immediately as she took in the scene. Turning to her green-eyed companion she pointed with a smirk. "See? I told you she'd snap one day." Bringing her hands to form a cup around her mouth, she inhaled deeply and bellowed:

"Go for the kidneys!"

Toki froze just as she was about to throw a particularly heavy looking loaf of bread and smiled widely. She beckoned them over with a huge wave. "We were just talking about you guys!"

Youko and Satori thought that they heard Ryudin mumble something about gouging out a certain harpies' eyes, but it was ignored as they made their way over to the tiny brunette.

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"Hand over the tomatoes."

Toki offered the said vegetable with a smile. "I appreciate the help, Keisuke."

He stiffened sharply. Help? Keisuke shot a dirty look at the back Youko's head. The fuck .. it's because SHE said I couldn't handle a knife!

He pulled he lips back over his teeth and weighed the sizeable knife in his hand -seething. Keisuke scanned the plump form of the red tomato before his expression suddenly blazed.

CHOP!

"Keisuke?"

CHOP! CHOP! CHOP!

Shrinking back, Toki glanced over at Youji, who was busy pretending that the tendrils of smoke filtering through the air were much more interesting than Kei's furious efforts. Not likely. He met her gaze, smiling wanly before he took another deep drag from his cancer-stick. At a loss, she turned away. Like it or not, Youji was out of the count for this one.

At a particularly loud whack from the chopping block, Toki scampered over to the pile of ready stacked dishes and made to set the table. It wasn't too difficult to imagine what Keisuke really wanted to slice up.

Satori look up from the his deck of cards as Toki dashed toward the dining her area, her face pinched with worry.

"Easy, there," Satori said as he jumped to help her with the heavy load, not liking the teetering arrangement she had balanced in her arms. "Anything I can do?"

"Can you set the table?" Toki asked briskly. She ran off before Satori could reply.

As he set about the task, Ryudin returned from the back room with shot glasses in hand. "We need all the help we can get," He muttered as the short glasses scattered amidst the other tableware. Satori turned away to hide his smile.

It seemed the chore was almost complete, when a shriek tore from the kitchen.

"Keisuke - wait! Not like that!"

A clash of pans echoed from the other room.

"The fuck, Toki! You didn't say anything about 'dicing' the carrots!"

"I said don't go near the carrots! Now, stop massacring my vegetables!"

"FINE! I'll just chop up some more tomatoes-"

"THAT'S A VEGETABLE YOU IDIOT!"

The resounding crash that followed pulled Youko eagerly toward the battlefield. When she walked in, Toki blanched, mouthing a dramatic NO at the other, only to find herself ignored as the Keisuke turned to face the fruit of his rage. Seeing only ruin, Toki grabbed the nearest thing to her for protection.

A foot long zucchini.

"Oi!" Ryudin snapped at the two circling figures as he leapt to Toki's side. Satori was close behind, but hung back when a hand fell upon his shoulder. "Wait," Youji said quietly, his eyes thoughtful behind his shades. "Not just yet."

Satori drew back with raised brows. Seriously? At his side, Ryudin's face seem to echo the same disbelief, but as they waited, the need to intervene slowly disappeared.

With the slightest tilt of her head, Youko took in the shambled counter, and what remained of the salvaged goods. Lettuce lay in tatters across chunks of tomato pulp, as the noodles, long past being cooked, continued to simmer in the now dry pot.

Keisuke considered her for a moment, his eyes still smoldering, but the usual venom was absent from his sea-mist eyes. He bounced the chopping knife in his hands before returning it to the counter. Youko crossed her arms, and waited.

But before Keisuke could speak, Youko seemed to reconsider, and let her arms fall back to her sides. He too looked uncertain.

No words were spoken.

Satisfied with something, perhaps the exchange, Youko started to roll up her long sleeves, tossing aside her greaves as she did. "Tomatoes." She muttered, stepping closer to the red gore.

No one saw the smile that bloomed across Toki's face.

"Yeah … well," A number of emotions warred within Keisuke, his eyes jumping between the food and the woman who regarded them with such intensity. "I guess you were-"

His admission fell short as Youko turned to look at him, emitting total, and complete control. Then a feral frown darkened across her face as she said,

"Ihate … tomatoes."

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Ha, so, yeah... this is a compiliation piece I'm writing with my firend, combining my characters with hers. With have a pretty good understanding of each other's works, and figured, eh, why not?

That, and frankly we're just f***ing tired of not ripping out some good pieces of work.

Working together made it random, fun, and (surprisingly) easy :D

*note to audience, actual friend DESPISES tomatoes

LoL