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Itís back in the house, locked up in itís case under his bed. He should probably take off his sub-armor then. If Ryoís sister wasnít up by now, she was even worse than he was when it came to mornings. And he sincerely doubted that; jet-lag or no jet-lag. He finds Rahne sitting on the porch, doing stretches, a pair of running shoes beside her. The moment he steps on the porch, she looks up at him. Must be able to feel my footsteps through the wood. "Morning," she greets, smiling, her voice a little quieter than what a normal personís would be. Rowen smiles back, her brother had said that she could read lips. "Morning. Going out for a run?" She shrugs, and then brushes some of the errant locks of her bangs out of her eyes. They spring right back, making him laugh at the look on her face. Smiling back good-naturedly, "Was thinkiní about it, but I donít know where Iíd go." Rowen stops and thinks. Heíd set up different targets all over the back forty of the Koji estate; maybe some company wouldnít be so bad. But she still looks a little tired... "Well, Iím biking out back to practice archery. If you want, you can come with me." It takes her a moment or two to process what heíd told her. "Sure." Then for the first time she looks him over. "Thatís a weird looking bow, what is it?" Rowen looks down at his hand. He forgot! The bow from his armor..! OH, crap...! His stomach ties itself up in a knot. His mind panics, then he forces himself to calm down. Gotta play this through. Hopefully she doesnít know anything about archery. "What? Oh, this. Forgot I still had it. Itís a custom single," Rowen tells her. While sheís focused on his face, he slips the string off the end and slowly releases it, so it was limp in his hand. He palms the loop in his hand to hide it. "I broke the string, and I donít feel like fixing it now." She gets a thoughtful look on her then it becomes slightly confused. "Um... Iíll take your word for it. Back where Ryo and I grew up, they never let me handle one. I donít think I ever saw one up close until I moved to Michigan." >whew< That was close! Rowen forces himself to relax. "Hey, Iíll be right back with my other bow." Rowen runs up the stairs and into his and Sageís room. He plops down on his bed and fills the air with as many obscenities as he knows. Now he understands why Ryo had mandated that Rahne not find out. Lying with those intense bright blue eyes pinned on you was hard to do: They were like lasers that had painted themselves on you. But, she was here and she was waiting for him. Now it wouldnít be so hard, without his armorís bow, and nothing for her to see. Ignorance, in this case, was bliss. With his normal compound bow and quiver full of dull target arrows in hand he jogs back downstairs with a spring in his step.

He had to admit that showing off for a girl was an instant way to make archery practice more challenging. Rahne sat on the bank of the small river that ran through the estate, rinsing off the mud that was splattered all the way up to her knees. Rowen lets another arrow fly, and as it hits the target close to the bulls-eye. His ears feel warm as she applauds him. Make that more challenging and exponentially more fun! Sage had nothing on him right this moment! "You are amazing. I canít hit the broad side of a skyscraper," Rahne says, rising from her spot near the river. Rowen shrugs and then motions her over to him. Ryo had mentioned something about her learning martial arts with him. "You took weapons with Ryo?" He was barely noticing her delays in answering him anymore. "Yeah. Why?" Rowen hands her his compound bow. Shocked, she takes it from him. Her grip is completely inappropriate for the weapon. "Obviously, swords or polearms." Chagrin, she hands it back to him. "Is it that bad?" Rowen chuckles and steps behind her. He raises her left arm and wraps her fingers around the grip. He reaches into his hip pack and pulls an arm-guard out and straps it to her arm over the inside of her elbow. He pulls a release clip out of his pack next and puts it in her right hand. He takes an arrow out, puts the clip on, and helps her draw the bow. Sheís almost as tall as he is, so his mouth is just a little higher than hers. Her dark hair smells good, like wildflowers. Hanging from a thin, gold chain is a small, oval, crystal pendant; rests at the base of her throat. He shakes himself free from these stupid observations. Sheís off-limits and donít you forget it! He bumps her hip with his leg, "Left Back Stance, Rahne." She must have been able to figure out what he wanted, because her stance shifted. Left leg in front, knee slightly bent, right leg behind, her right foot perpendicular to her left, feet about shoulder-width apart. "Hey, Rowen!" Rowen glances over his shoulder to see the guys in their civilian clothes standing on the embankment behind them. "Just a moment...!" Rowen places his hand over Rahneís to help hold the bow. "Sight over my thumb..." Rowen calls loudly, so she can feel the vibrations his voice makes. "Okay... but itís hard to hold this..." Rahneís arms are shaking, but sheís still keeping the bow drawn all by herself. "When youíre ready, squeeze the trigger..." Rowen says, steadying her arm. Rahne holds it a few seconds longer, then her body tenses. Her fingers squeeze the trigger. The arrow sings through the air, before crashing impotently into a tree next to the target. All the guys applaud her as they jog down the embankment. Rowen smiles and pats her shoulder in congratulation. "But I didnít hit the target!" Rahne protests. "Hey, Iím not great with swords. You can at least still hit stuff," Rowen tells her with a wide grin. An hour later, before lunch, Rahne gets a better introduction to the guys. She seems to be enjoying herself and conversation bounces around the table. When theyíre served however, Rahne stares at Kento with something akin to horror. The guys laugh at the look on her face. When Kento winks at her, however, her horror turns to embarrassment. "Watching him eat is like watching a train-wreck! Itís so disgusting you canít look away." Rahne protests. Sage grins at her from across the table, "Yep. Just wait till he says starving. Then youíll see some action." "Uh huh. In other words: ĎStay out of his wayí?" Cye puts a hand on her shoulder, "You got it!" Kento swallows his immense mouthful, and knuckles her shoulder playfully, "And, hey, weíll get your room into better condition this evening." "Yeah, it was kind of a last minute thing," Rowen adds, in between mouthfuls. Rahne looks at all of them with the sincerest smile theyíve ever seen. "You know this place makes me feel like Iím finally home." End Chapter One

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