Chapter Three- A Change of Clothes

We were walking along a busy street, silently, heading towards the mall. A car past, which I barely took notice to, but Tasuki whipped out his tessen in self defense. The car was too fast, and Tasuki began putting his tessen back, crying shrilly, “What the fuck was that?!”
Akai chuckled, “It’s a car. You ride in them to get to places quickly. Sort of like a carriage, only faster and not drawn by horses.”
I looked to Amiboshi, who was as pale as a sheet, his eyes big. I smiled to myself and asked, “Are you all right?”
He looked to me sharply, coming out of his frightened reveire, “Oh, uh...yeah. A...a car?”
“Uh huh. It’s actually really fun riding in them sometimes.” I commented.
“Sometimes,” Akai emphasized, “it depends who’s driving.”
We reached the mall considerably soon. We stood in front of it and Akai and I noticed Amiboshi and Tasuki staring up at the building in awe.
“This place is fuckin’ huge!” Tasuki exclaimed loudly just as an old couple walked past us. They looked at him strangely and I heard the old man mutter, “Punk.” It was probably better Tasuki didn’t hear him.
We went inside the mall and began to recieve a lot of odd looks from people, particularly teenagers. I had to look at the seishi myself. Amiboshi had long blue pants on that ended just at his ankles, and small black slippers that reminded me so much of ballet shoes it was scary. He wore a dark blue shirt under a light purple jacket-like thing with gold braided trim, and tied with a dark blue belt at the waist. And, of course, the infamous Boshi twins dark blue headband.
Tasuki was ten times worse. To start with, he wore black knee high boots with red trim around the ankles. And (this is the best part) beige pants that he tucks into his boots. Over that, a huge (I mean, huge!) black jacket lined with blue trim and a white shirt underneth. His jacket looked more like a trench coat with shoulder pads. And then, his Koji-earring and beads. Over all, they stuck out pretty well.
“First priority,” Akai said, “we’re hitting the nearest store that has guys clothes.”
“Aw,” I smiled teasingly at them, “but they look so cute in their ancient China clothes!”
Amiboshi gave me a look that said ‘what?’ and ‘really?’ at the same time.
“Whatdya mean ‘cute?’” Tasuki demanded.
“Exactly what I said,” I smirked, “you two are just so good looking I can hardly stand it,” I choked in my head, wondering where the hell that had come from and how I’d ever had enough guts to say it aloud.”
Tasuki smirked and smoothed his hair, “I guess I am pretty good lookin’, when ya get right down to it.”
I thought of a wickedly mean thing comeback and couldn’t resist to say it, “I probably shouldn’t have said ‘two.’ I wasn’t really talking about you.” More choking in my head. Where was this coming from?
“Nishiko...?” I heard Amiboshi say softly.
“I...I was just kidding,” I forced a laugh to save face, then turned with a lighthearted grin and a bit of blush still in my cheeks.
“Oh..” Amiboshi said thoughtfully, and I felt stupid for saying that. For some reason, I have a tendancy to push guys away by making them think I think they’re replusive. Idiot!
“Hey, we should go inside,” Akai said uneasily.
I turned to her, cocking an eyebrow, “Uh, we are inside.”
“Oh! Why, so we are. Hey, I knew that!” she put a hand to the back of her neck.
Tasuki rapped a fist gently on her head, “Sure, you did.”
“I did!” she insisted, grinning and pushing him away. Tasuki snorted and rolled his eyes. I smiled quietly, considering making a comment to Amiboshi about how cute their flirting was.
“Elements?” I suggested guesturing to the store in front of us.
“Mmm hmm. They’ve got great guy clothes in here,” Akai ageed. Amiboshi and Tasuki looked nervous. We went in--okay, we sort of pleaded with them to go in--and Akai and I started sifting through guy’s clothes.
“Oh, this is cute!”
“Oh, he’d look so good in this!”
“Yeah! Oh, hey, look at this! Hey, it’s even blue!”
“Cool. Wow, he would”
And, again, Tasuki and Amiboshi looked like they were getting so nervous, they were even exchanging glances. Okay, they’d exchange glances and Tasuki would realize who he was exchanging glances with, glare and turn away.
“Hey, Tasuki! C’mere!” Akai called motioning him over. I saw him wander over to Akai reluctantly, and turned to Amiboshi, taking a silent breath, “Well, let’s see, you would like blue, wouldn’t you?”
He gave me a confused look and replied, shrugging, “Uh, I dunno. I suppose...”
I held up a long sleeved blue shirt. As far as I was concerned, he’d look good in anything.
“Well...” I started.
“Hey, Nishi-chan, come over here,” I heard Akai call from a little ways over. I turned and grabbed Amiboshi’s hand, taking him with me.
“Hmmm?” I asked, seeing her holding up pants to a very unsure and confused Tasuki.
“What do you think? Thirty-three? Thirty-four?” she asked.
I servayed him silently, then turned to Akai, “He’s real skinny, so he might need a belt, no matter what size.”
“Yeah, I think you’re right...”
We stood and stared at him till he spoke up, “Why’re ya starin’ at me like that?! Shit, I feel like I’m bein’ inspected or somethin!’”
“You are,” Akai said matter-o-factly.
“Why dontchya go pick on flute-boy for awhile, huh?” Tasuki demanded.
I turned to Amiboshi and held up the blue shirt I was still holding, looking over at Akai, “Well, what do you think? Maybe with a fleece vest, you know, like Akio wears? And maybe some khaki’s?” I could feel myself babbling, but I was always rather nervous around guys, and being around this guy, well... I was just a tad more nervous.
“Hmmm, yeah, that’d look cute.” she nodded. I gave Amiboshi a ‘hold on a sec’ sign and went to find the clothes I’d just listed. I found them, more or less and gave them to Amiboshi, saying, “Try these on.”
He gave me a bewildered look and it occured to me he had no idea what I was telling him to do.
“These aren’t my clothes,” he protested quietly.
“Yes, but we’re seeing if they look okay on you and fit,” I tried to explain.
“But...” he still looked confused, “these aren’t my clothes.”
“Yes,” I sighed, “but if we like them, they can be.”
He still looked confused.
“Okay,” I began, “these are stores that sell clothes. You are allowed to try them on to see if you like them before you buy them. If you like them, we pay for them and you can wear them. If you don’t like them, we put them back where we got them and leave. Okay?”
He looked like he got it, but a new problem had arrisen. He held up the clothes, blushing heavily, and asked quietly, “How do you put them on?”
It was my turn to blush. Oh, god, how the hell was I going to get through this one?
“Uh...” I bit my lips and took the pants, “okay, you put these on just like any other pair of pants, but this is how you keep them on,” I demonstrated, then gave them back to him, “and this shirt, you just pull it over your head like any other shirt, and the vest, you just put on. Then you’re set!”
He looked at me unsurely, but went off tot he dressing room, hesitating before going into it. He closed the door and I breathed a sigh of relief, hoping he could figure it out.
I raised a worried eyebrow as I heard my name called from the dressing room, “Uh...yeah?” I asked hesitantly, coming up to the dressing room door.
“I...uh...have a problem..”
Oh, God, no. Scenes from There’s Something About Mary flashed in my head and I almost fainted. I really don’t think I should be the one to--
“Yeah, I’m here,” I bit my lip, “ have pants on?”
“Okay, I’m, er, coming in,” I opened the door and slipped in. He stood with the pants on perfectly (I’ll admit, I was surprised), but...that was all. He stood, shirtless, and blushing heavily.
Again, I drew in a silent breath, “What’s the problem?”
He looked exceedingly embarrassed, “I...don’t know which one to put on first.”
He held up the shirt and the vest, and I chuckled softly, then felt bad for doing so. I smiled, relieved and said, “You put on the blue shirt first,” I said, handing it to him. He pulled it over his head and got it on, “okay, and now the vest goes over it,” I put it around him as he put his arms through. Then I stood back to look at him. Wow. He looked incredibly...ah, there are so many words to descibe it: cute, handsome, good-looking, gorgeous, etc...
“What do you think?” I asked him breathlessly, turning him around to look at himself in the mirror behind him. He raised his eyebrows in surprise, and I noticed one more thing.
“Oh,” I turned him around and touched my hand to his headband, “this kinda has to go.”
I painfully slipped it off his head. I could tell he didn’t like it anymore than I did. “Sorry,” I said softly, “I like it a lot too.”
I saw a faint smile grow on his lips. Then it occured to me, “Uh, we’d better go out there.”
I opened the door and we slipped out. To my horror, I turned to see Akai grinning at me with a preditory gleam in her eyes. Oh shit, I thought, this does not look anywhere near good.
She siddled up next to me, grinning manically, “Hello, Nishi-chan,” she said sweetly, “so, what have we been up to? Anything...interesting?” she leaned closer to me and whispered, “does ‘yoroshiko’1 mean anything to you?”
I shot out my fist to punch her in the arm, “Don’t even. You know very well--”
“Oh, yes, I know all right. I know exactly what was going on in that little dressing room,” she cackled wickedly.
I glared at her and grabbed her hair roughly, yanking her close enough to whisper in her ear, “Look, he had a problem with the shirt and was embarrassed. I didn’t want to embarrass him anymore. If you embarrass him at all, I’ll kill you.”
She chuckled softly, “Okay, okay, you win. No more comments from the peanut gallery.”
“Thank you,” I sighed, letting go of her and turning back to Amiboshi, who was watching us with a strange look on his face.
There was the sound of the dressing room door opening and we turned to see Tasuki in a tightish black t-shirt and baggy blue jeans, that were, well, pretty loose. Akai servayed him, then grabbed a chain belt off the rack and tossed it to him, “Nishiko was right, you’re awfully skinny.”
Tasuki looked annoyed, but began to put it on, “Whaddya think?”
“I...” Akai trailed off. I whistled at him and he gave me a weird look. I just grinned at him.

Akai sucked in her breath, “It...really suits you,” she said, and I could tell she
was trying harder than she’d ever had to before not to faint right then and there.
“Looks great, gotta pay,” I said quickly, ushering us to the counter. I heard Akai and Amiboshi murmur something to each other, but I leaned over the counter, smiling at the cashier. I think she must have beem viewing all this and must think we were loonitics.
“Uh, they’re going to wear them out of the store,” Akai explained to the salewoman.
“Okay, but I’ll need the tags.”
She handed us scissors and we snipped off all the tags and gave them to her. She added up the total, told us it and looked at us expectantly. I looked at Akai. She looked at me. Expressions of horror grew on our faces.
“Nothing...” we murmured in unison.
“Were...broke...” Akai whispered, followed by a stream of words I do not desire to repeat. I simply raised my eyebrows. Akai doesn’t cuss that much--or, at least, she didn’t until two guys from Ancient China showed up in her house.
“Uh, sorry, I don’t usually do that,” she apologized, then looked around at Tasuki and Amiboshi, who looked surprised, “what? Haven’t you ever heard a girl cuss before?
Tasuki looked actually impressed, but our attention was brought back to the saleswoman, “Excuse me, but if you can’t pay...”
“Uh, right. We...don’t have any money.” I started.
Akai suddenly looked like she had an idea, “Hey! I know! We can call Kissechi! She always has money! We can bum some off her.”
“Hmm,” I glanced at my watch, “it’s 1:32. I don’t know if she’d appreciate is waking her up...”
“Yeah, but we have to get these clothes!” Akai protested.
“Akai,” I said firmly, taking ahold of both her arms, “we can come back. It’s not impossible.”
“But we’re always broke!” she whined, “Chi-chan2 is the only one who ever has any money.”
“All right,” I nodded, “here’s what we’ll do: they’ll change back into their original clothes, ask the lady to hold these clothes, go get money from Chi-chan, come back, and buy the clothes. Okay?”
She nodded happily, “Yeah, let’s go.”


We got to Chi-chan’s house quickly, getting tons of odd looks from people as we walked down a busy street with two guys in the before explained clothes. We stopped at the door and rang the bell. No reply. We rang again. No reply.
“Ah, jeez,” I muttered a swear word and opened the door annoyedly, “we’re here enough, it should be all right.”
“Yeah,” Akai agreed, and we all stepped in. We headed downstairs to Kissechi’s room and stepped inside.
Kissechi’s room was littered with clothes and papers and in the middle, on her bed, she lay fast asleep.
I glanced at Akai, “All right. I don’t think we should let anyone, not even Kissechi, know about Tasuki and Amiboshi. We should make them wait in the hall. I’ll...” I took a brave breath, “I’ll risk it.”

I stepped closer to the bed, and I swear I could hear the suspense music being cued. I got close enough to see her face and took a deep breath before saying loudly, “Chi-chan! Wake up!”
I stood back, preparing to dodge a fist. But there was no response.
“Hey, Chi-chan, get your ass out of bed!” I exclaimed loudly, shoving her in the shoulder.
Not a good idea.
“OW! Shit, Kissechi!” I grasped my jaw where I’d just been punched--really hard. She glared at me with a ‘kill-my-best-friend’ kinda look. “Good, you’re up,” I muttered, rubbing my sore jaw.
“I am going to--” she started and I feared for my life.
“Hey, look! A big Tama-neko!”
I whirled around, seeing Tasuki standing in the doorway, holding up Kissechi’s huge cat, O.J. He had a huge grin on his face. I flinched, not even wanting to see Chi-chan’s reaction.
There was a pause, then I heard a sleepy muttering about stale twinkies and kaluha, “See what happens when you wake me up so early? I start hallucinating. Why you have to wake me up at the crack on dawn, when any self-respecting citizen should be in bed is beyond me. I’m tired, I have a headache, and I’m imagining Tasuki, holding my cat, standing in my bedroom no da. Now go. Away. And. Let. Me. Sleep. No. Da.”
I raised an eyebrow, impressed she was able to get out this much, plus the ‘no da’s’ at “the crack of dawn” as she so put it. “Of course, dear, we’ll leave you soon as you give us some money.”
Before she could answer, a startled cry came from behind me, and I whirled around, wide eyed. There stood Tasuki, gaping at Kissechi’s imfamous Chichiri wall.
“What the fuck?!” he exclaimed, wide eyed. Oh, that’s right, Kissechi’s extremely obsessive about Chichiri. I turned back around to Kissechi, who was still under the covers. “I thought I told you to go away,” she said in a calm, frightening voice. As much as I wanted to get out of her sight right then, I still persisted, “Okay, just tell us where some money is and we’re gone.”
I flinched, “Yeah, we’ll pay you back. I swear.”
From under the covers, I heard a loud, derisive snort, “Yeah, like the time you paid me back last time? And the time before that?”
I rolled my eyes, “That was Akai. I’m trustworthy.”
Akai snorted and Chi-chan said, “Bullshit no da.”
“Why do you keep saying ‘no da.’” Tasuki demanded, still gaping at the Chichiri wall.
There came a pained groan from under the covers, “Great. Now my hallucinations are talking to me no da.”
“What exactly did you do last night?” Akai asked nervously, “or do I want to know?”
Chi-chan groaned again, “It was my Tasuki complex last night. I think I outdrank him last night. That’s probably why his image is haunting me this morning no da.”
“Doesn’t explain why Amiboshi’s image is haunting you,” I cocked an eyebrow, looking over at Amiboshi, who was also staring frightenedly at the wall.
Tasuki looked offended, “Nobody, especially a woman, could outdrink me.”
Akai smacked him and I just sort of growled, resisting the urge to start a feminist protest.
“Amiboshi’s image is not haunting me,” Chi-chan declared. I pulled the covers off her and pointed. Her mouth fell open, “what the fuck?!”
“That’s right, but it’s just a hallucination, so give us money and it’ll all go away,” I sighed. This was turningout harder than I’d thought it would.
A bunch of strange, undecipherable sounds came out of Chi-chan’s mouth, and she looked extremely confused, “What no da?”
“At least she didn’t pass out,” Akai commented, “she’s doing better than both of us.”
I chuckled, remembering my little meeting with the stairs, “Yeah, but she’s got a hangover.”
“True. We should get her sobered up,” Akai pointed out, then turned to Kissechi, “do you want some tea or coffee?”
“I want Chichiri,” she muttered, “but I’ll settle for a cup of tea and a couple of asprins.”


It took awhile to get Kissechi out of bed, but we were soon all sitting around the table with tea (not me, I hate tea) and discussing things. Okay, Amiboshi, Akai, Kissechi and I were sitting around the table, Tasuki was sprawled out on the floor playing with O.J.
I began, “All right, Akai woke up on Monday morning and they were--”
“Heh, heh! You’re so cute! Yes, you are! Hah!”
I tossed an ‘I don’t want to know’ glance at Tasuki then went back to Chi-chan, “anyway, she called me and they stayed at her house for the night. Now we’re trying to buy them modern clothes, but we don’t have any money,” I finished.
“Ha! What a big kitty!”
Chi-chan stood up, barely regarding Tasuki at all, went to the cupboard, murmuring, “I need a drink.”
I leaped up and grabbed her, “No, no, we won’t be doing that.”
“Something to drink?” Tasuki’s attention was drawn at the change of conversation.
“No.” I declared firmly, “nobody’s having a drink.”
Tasuki narrowed his eyes, giving me a death glare, muttering something under his breath and went back to O.J.
“At leat, not until we get back from the mall,” Akai smiled wickedly, “your parents are out of town, aren’t they, Chi-chan?”
“Akai!” I exclaimed, “how bad you are! But, I’d probably get home after the mall. You guys can do whatever you want.”
Amiboshi gave me a frightened look.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I apologized to him, “I can’t leave Amiboshi alone with you two.” I pointed out, dragging Chi-chan back to the table. The whole situation of acohol made me edgy and mad. I felt a little angry at Akai for even joking about it, and shot back in the only way I could think of, “I’m surprised, though, that’d you’d lower yourself to Namida’s level on drinking.”
Akai’s eyes grew cold and she didn’t reply. I suddenly realized I’d gone below the belt and murmured softly, “Sorry. I just don’t like the idea of alcohol after...everything.”
When Akai and I had hung out with Kagami and Namida, Kagami’s mom had been very loose. She’d given us alcohol and Namida had gotten drunk a number of times, even taken advantage of Kagami when she was drunk once, we heard, after we’d left the little group. The whole experience had turned me off from alcohol and i guess I thought Akai would be too. He had been her boyfriend, after all.
“It’s okay,” she said, and I could tell it was forced. There she went again, covering up whatever was wrong, and doing it badly.
“So,” I looked hopefully at Chi-chan, hoping to lighten the mood, “will you please lend us some money? We’ve gotten enought weird looks already.”
“Weird looks? Why?” Tasuki asked suddenly. So he was listening.
I cast a look at him, “You’re clothes are exactly up-to-date,, Tasuki.”
Tasuki hmmpht3 unhappily and Chi-chan said, “Well, I dunno. I was awakened rather rudely this morning.”
“Oh, God, please don’t make us beg,” I pleaded quietly under my breath.
“C’mon, Chi-chan, it’s for a good cause,” Akai added.
Kissechi looked skeptical, almost thoughtful, “What do I get out of it?”
I groaned, “The same amount of money you loaned us?”
“Ha. Yeah right. You’ll have to do better than that,” Kissechi said.
“I’m sorry, we can’t get Chichiri’s kasa. This has screwed up time enough already without taking away a very vital thing in the series to Chichiri.” I sighed. I was currently getting a mental image of Chichiri at the Kutou palace, trying to help Miaka save Tamahome. He sees Kutou guards coming towards him and reached for--but wait! There’s no kasa!
“NO! Akai, Nishiko no da! What have you done to me no da?!” he screams as the guards close in on him and he’s taken away.
I shook the scene from my head and continued wearily, “What do you want?”
Kissechi got a wicked gleam in her eyes. Akai stopped before she could act on that wicked gleam, “Chichiri and chocolate pudding isn’t an option.”
“Shit,” she snapped her fingers, then turned to Tasuki suggestively, “you know, I am a member of the DTFC...”
Akai jumped in front of Tasuki defensively, “Absolutely not! Don’t even think about it! We are not bargaining seishi here.”
“Spoilsport.” Chi-chan muttered as Akai slowly sat back down.
“Huh?” Tasuki glanced at each one of us with a confused look.
“Don’t ask,” Akai told him, resting her head in her hands, “for Suzaku’s sake, don’t ask.”
After a short silence, Kissechi sighed discouragely, “Oh fine. Since you two are going to be so boring, I suppose I can lend you the money, as long as you pay me back.”
My face lit up, “Great! Where is it?”
“Greedy, greedy, Nishi-chan!” Chi-chan scolded, tsking at me, “I’ll go get it.”
“Vic-tor-y!” Akai cried as soon as she’d left the room, giving a “V for Victory” sign. I turned to smile at Amiboshi (why Amiboshi, I don’t know) and waited till Chi-chan got back. She approached me and held out a hell of a lot of money. I reached for it and she pulled it back.
“Do you swear on Tasuki and Amiboshi’s manhood that you’ll pay it back?” she demanded. I heard an outraged cry from Tasuki and a choke from Amiboshi, but I replied, “Absolutely,” and she handed it to me.
“No, she doesn’t!” Tasuki exclaimed.
I smirked at him, “What exactly are you saying, Tasuki?”
Tasuki choked, “No! I...I...shit! Don’t I get a say in this?!”
“Not usually,” Akai said, “but don’t worry,” she shot a look at me, “I’ll make sure she pays it back.”
“Me?!” I exclaimed, putting a hand on my chest, “I’m not the only one payin’ it back, dumbass!”
“Yeah, but I’m not the one who swore,” she pointed out.
I smiled assuredly, “You’ll pay half-back, Akai-chan. But we’d better get going,” I got up.

“Uh, yeah,” Akai said, getting up and followed by the guys, “Thanks, Chi-chan.”
“Yes, thanks!” I agreed.
“Just don’t forget,” she warned.
“We won’t!” I called as we raced out the door and on our way back to the mall.


We returned to the mall, changed the boys into modern clothing again (I stayed out of Amiboshi’s dressing room this time, much to Akai’s dismay), and went up to the counter.
“Will you be paying for these now?” the saleswoman asked wryly.
“Yeah, we have it now,” I let out a nervous laugh and handed her the money. She gave us the reciept and a forced, “Have a nice day.”
We left gratefully, carrying their Ancient China clothes in the bags. What a difference. Girls all over the mall stared at the two guys, giving flirtatious smiles, glared at Akai and I, perhaps for being with them.
“You guys hungry?” I asked, a probably very obvious question, considering it was around 3:30 and we hadn’t eaten anything all day. A chorus of “yes’s” echoed and we walked to the food court.
“We have Chinese here,” I suggested, “fitting, huh?”
We went to the Chinese booth and ordered stuff Amiboshi would actually eat (it occured to me that Amiboshi hadn’t eaten anything for more than a day. He’d never said anything, my poor thing!), and we sat down at a table. Everyone basically dug in.
I looked up in time to see two girls walking (or rather, wriggling with swaying hips) towards us, smiling suggestively at Tasuki and Amiboshi.
“Hi, guys. I’m Shiai, and this is Hakike4. Can we have your numbers?” one blonde on said, scooting up a chair next to Tasuki. The red head, Hakike, pulled up a chair next to Amiboshi. If steam could have come out Akai and my ears, I’m sure it would have.
“Numbers?” Amiboshi asked nervously, staring at the red head and her revealing clothing.
“Phone numbers,” Hakike clairified. Both girls were scooting closer and completely ignoring Akai and me, pushing out of the way.
“Uh--” I started.
“You guys are just so cute, we couldn’t resist asking,” Shiai giggled.
“Look,” Akai said, standing up, “I have no idea who you two are, but you’re obviously sluts, so why don’t you take your little bimbo asses, and let us eat lunch with out wanting to vomit.”
I let out a whistle, slightly impressed.
The blonde regarded Akai with a cold glare, then turned to Tasuki, “Now, do you really want a girlfriend who’s such a bitch?”
“Better than a common street whore,” Akai shot back fiercly.
Shiai’s mouth fell open, “Look, you have no right to be calling me and my friend whores. You don’t even know us.”
Akai snorted, “It’s not very hard to see.”
The blonde narrowed her eyes.
“Look,” I intervened before Akai got into a cat fight and got herself arrested, “do you have any self respect? How pathetic to hit on guys with girlfriends, in front of their girlfriends?” I knew I was lying. Tasuki and Amiboshi stared at me, bewildered, “so please get some dignity and hit on guys who aren’t attached.”
The two girls glared coldly at me, but just got up and quickly huffed off.
I looked down, knowing I was blushing. Amiboshi and Tasuki were still staring at me. “Sorry,” I murmured, “I had to lie. They would have never left if they knew we were just friends.”
“I’m surprised they left at all, the stupid bimbos,” Akai muttered defensively.
“Why’d you get so mad,” Tasuki asked Akai suddenly.
“I just hate girls like that,” she laughed mercilessly, “they probably remind me of Kagami.”
I laughed also, reminded of Kagami’s slutty ways, but Amiboshi asked, “Who’s Kagami?” I looked at Akai.
“It’s a...girl we know,” Akai said uneasily, “it’s a long story.”
“Is she as bossy as you two?” Tasuki smirked in the way only he can, and brushed some hair out of his eyes. I glanced at Akai to see if she was swooning.
“Oh, you’re so nice,” I laughed, then turned to Akai, expecting her to explain.
“Probably worse,” Akai joked. I raised an eyebrow, remembering--knowing-- how disgusting and pathetic Kagami was.
“Don’t wanna meet her,” Tasuki decided swiftly, leaning back in his chair. I let out a laugh, wondering what Akai would think of this.
“That’s good to know,” Akai said softly, “if she met you, she’d be all over you so fast you wouldn’t know what hit you.”
Tasuki looked surprised, then grinned, “What’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing, if you like slutty litte traitors,” she replied hostily.
“Whoa-ho-ho!” I exclaimed, “let’s get off this subject.” I knew Akai wouldn’t want to talk about it anymore than I did. Akai nodded.


We took them around the city, showing them interesting sites that amazed them, stuff like that.We began walking home and soon reached the street where Akai and I have to go our seperate ways.
“Well, I guess I’ll see you guys tomorrow,” I said reluctantly, really not wanting to leave Amiboshi.
“Yeah?” Akai said, looking almost worried.
“See ya,” I said, beginning to walk off as did the other three. When they all were turned away, I turned back around and watched Amiboshi, never wanting to forget anything about him. He turned to look over his shoulder suddenly, and my eyes widened. I waved nervously, embarrassed at being caught, but he smiled and waved back, turned turned around around and continued walking. I turned and began walking to my house. It was rather cold out, and me, being stupid, had forgotten my coat. I hugged myself to keep warm against the harsh wind.
I reached my house and went around back, slipping in the back door, only to see my father standing in the kitchen, making dinner.
“Well, hi!” he said, laughing a little, “who are you?”
I forced a laugh, trying to make my dad feel good about his dumb joke, “Sorry I’ve been gone so much,” I said, turning to lock the back door.
“I should say so,” he smiled a little, “did you have a good time at Akai’s?”
“What’d you guys do?”
“Nothing, really...” I smiled fakely at hm, then turned to go up to my room.
When in my room, I flopped down onto my bed and stared at the ceiling. Glow in the dark letter stickers spelled out “Akio.” I smiled softly, remembering that I’d put the name up on the ceiling so no one could see it, but whenever I looked up, I’d be reminded of him.
But now my mind was on a different guy. Amiboshi floated through my head, especially his eyes, how he looked at me. I let out a dreamy sigh, smiling goofily. Could he ever love me back, I thought dramtically. What if he loves Akai? I furrowed my brow. Where’d that come from? He barely knows either of us, let alone be in love with one of us.
“Dinner!” came my dad’s call from downstairs. I sigh once again and got up, nearly floating down the stairs. I barely ate my dinner that night. I pushed my food around with my fork, staring off into space, thinking of his perfectly shaped lips and imagining what it would be like to kiss him. He had such wonderful hands. I could just feel him running them gently through my hair--
“Nishiko! What is with you?” my dad interrupted my thoughts. I jumped, straightening up and looking at him.
“You’ve barely touched your dinner and you haven’t said a word all night,” my mom was looking at me strangly.
“That’s unusual for you,” my dad pointed out, “usually we can’t shut you up.”
I looked over at Jiyu, who was giving me a ‘look,’ but keeping silent (God bless him).
“Um, I’m just a little tired,” I said, then forced a smile and shoved a huge spoonful of mashed potatoes in my mouth, chewing and smacking loudly, “Mmm, mrum!”
My parents gave me more weird looks but went back to talking amoungst themselves. I couldn’t really eat, to tell the truth. I had the weirdest feeling in my stomach. It was like the feeling I’d gotten when I’d thought of Akio...wait. I stopped myself. The same feeling as I’, I shook it off. Amiboshi’s just cute and nice, that’s all, heh, heh.
I finished dinner and excused myself, going back up to my room. I threw myself back onto my bed and sighed loudly again. I realized that when I get dramtic and dreamy about a guy, I tend to sigh a whole hell of a lot.
Suddenly, a thought struck me.
I raced to the office, nearly dropping the phone as I grabbed it off the reciever. I quickly dialed Akai’s number and waited.
“Hello?” came Akai’s voice, sounding stressed. In the background I could hear, “What the fuck was that?”
Hey, Akai-chan,” I said causally, knowing the background voice was Tasuki, “sorry, did Tasuki try to flame the phone? I’d sort of forgotten about the culture shock.”
“No, it’s all right,” she said, “can you hold on a second?”
She seemed to move the phone from her mouth and hissed, “Calm down! It’s just the phone! It’s not going to hurt you! And stop brandishing that thing at me, will ya? It’s making me nervous!”
I quickly thought of the tessen.
“Sorry,” she said, coming back to me.
“What’s going on?” I asked curiously.
“Well, I got them into TV, and my TV survived, so I guess that’s an accomplishment, huh?” she snickered, “I think they’re watching ‘Friends.’”
I chuckled softly, “Do they like it?”
“I think so, actually. I don’t know if they understand it, though.”
“What’s to understand?” I asked, “it’s ‘Friends.’”
In the background, I heard Tasuki’s voice, “Are you talking to yourself, Akai?”
Akai laughed, talking to Tasuki, “No, I’m talking to Nishiko. That’s what phones do. They let you talk to people who are far away,” pause, “wanna try it?” longer pause, “it’s okay, just put it up to your ear.”
There was another pause, but now I could hear Tasuki’s breathing on the other end.
“Hi, Tasuki. It’s me, Nishiko.” I said, smiling a little.
I heard a slight gasp, “Where is she?” Tasuki cried frantically, “where is she hiding?” he seemed to demand of Akai.
“Tasuki, Tasuki! I’m at my house, I’m not there!” I reassured him, “you can just hear my voice and I can just hear yours through the phone.”
“Oh...” he said, very slowly.
“So, how’re ya doing, Tasuki? Akai’s treating you okay?” I asked.
“I guess so. How ‘bout you?” he replied, his voice still a little wary.
“I’m pretty good. Really bored, though. So,” I paused, “are you feeling a little better towards Amiboshi?”
There was a derisive snort from the other line, “Ya mean the traitor?”
I frowned to myself at this, “Tasuki, why can’t you just get along with him?”
“Because he totally screwed up the callin’ ceremony, that’s why!”
I sighed, “He’s not such a bad guy, once you get to know him...”
“How would you know?” he demanded fiercly.
I paused, “Well, I don’t, really, but...” I sighed again, “’s just really hard for me and Akai when you two are always at each other’s throats. Could you at least try to get a long with him?”
There was a hesitation, then he said gruffly, “Whatever. We’ll see what happens.” there was a pause, then he said in a childish voice, “he starts it.”
I rolled my eyes, “You are such a baby.”
“Nothing,” I smiled, then decided to me daring, “hey, Tasuki? Could to Amiboshi?”
I bit my lip, “Maybe I could talk to him about getting along, like I did with you?”
“Well,” he paused, “I guess. Er...what do I do?”
“Give the phone--the thing you’re holding--to Amiboshi and tell him to hold it up to his ear just like you’re doing. And...” I smiled, “go talk to Akai, wherever she is.”
“Okay, see ya, Nishiko.” he said, and I heard him bounding off, there was a slight pause, and I heard a soft, nervous, “Hello?”
“Hi, Amiboshi. It’s me, Nishiko.”
“Nishiko? Where are you?”
“I’m at my house. It’s okay, we’re able to hear each other through the phone,” I explained for the second time.
“You’’re at your house? That’s amazing, that your world can do this...” he said, and I think he was smiling.
“Yeah, we take it for granted, but when we actually stop and think of the technology, it’s amazing.”
“So...what are you doing?”
I glanced down, entwining my fingers in the phone cord, “Ah, not much. JUst stuff. Do you like TV?”
“TV? Oh, yeah, it’s neat. The stories, the plots are a lot like real life.”
I laughed, “Most are suppose to be. Except TV makes things more intersting, more dramtic.”
“Oh yeah?”
“Uh huh. And they almost always have happy endings.”
“Real life doesn’t?”
I paused, “You should know that. Your life hasn’t been all that great, has it?”
He was silent, thinking, then, “No, not really. How’d you know?”
“Like I said, your lives are on a TV show.”
“Oh. Hey, Nishiko?”
“Does my life have a happy ending?” his voice was soft, and so innocent, and almost sad. I felt my breath caught in my throat. What could I say to this?
I took a deep breath and let it out, “You know, Amiboshi, I...I can’t say,” I lowered my eyes, “I really hope so. You’ve already been put through so much, and you’ve got such a peaceful soul, you deserve a happy ending. If it wasn’t happy, or at least someone good, you’d be getting majorly jipped and something would just be wrong with the way the world works.”
He was quiet, then said in a very soft voice, “W...what you believe it?”
I nodded, even though he couldn’t see me, “Of course. You’re a wonderful person, and I wish you all the best of happiness in your life, wherever it may be.”
“T...thank you,” he was quiet again, then sighed almost silently, “do you think I’ll ever get home?”
I immediatly was choked up and felt like I was going to cry. I felt so bad for him. Already, he’d gone through such pain and death in his hell of a life, and his tone was just so meloncholy.
“I...I don’t know,” in a way, I felt bad because I kind of didn’t want him to leave. I expected it was only natural. I finally get to meet the guy I’ve been swooning over for months, and of course, I wouldn’t want to let him go. But he had a life, a brother. It would be selfish to want him to stay.
“Yeah, I guess we’ll see,” he sighed, then, “hey, Nishiko? You never talk about your life. Is it happy?”
I bit my lip. My life? Happy? “Well, I suppose...” I started slowly.
“You don’t sound so sure,” he pointed out.
I thought a moment, “My life’s not bad. It could be alot parents don’t beat me, I have clothes and food, and a wonderful house, I have friends--”
He cut me off, “Is it happy, though?”
I paused again, “Define happy.”
He let out a sigh, “Nishiko!”
“Sorry, sorry,” I raked my fingers through my hair, thinking. I wasn’t miserable, if that’s what he meant. But yet, there was the fact that no guys liked me, my father repressed my opinions and made me so frustrated I could just scream, I’d gone through so many different groups in the past year I had absolutely no idea where I fit in, and the overall depressing fact that I had no idea who I was.
“Yeah, it’s happy,” I lied through my teeth, then went in for a quick change of subject, “so, what do you think of Akai and my world?”
He was silent, then answered, “It’s amazing. All the...what’d you call it?”
“Yeah! All the technology is great. I can’t wait to learn about the music here.”
I laughed, “Oh yeah! You’re going to love music here. There’s so many instruments and you can listen to music other people have made on what’s called a tape or CD.”
“Music other people made?”
“Yeah. Um...okay, let’s say there’s another flute player who you really like listening to. What happens when he’s not there and you want to hear his songs? Well, in this world, people can record their songs onto what’s called a tape or a CD and people can listen to it whenever they want!”
“Amazing!” he exclaimed.
“Yeah, sometime I’ll have you listen to some. And you’re going to have a blast with the other instruments here. There’s way more wind instruments here.”
“Really? Like what?”
“Let’s see: there the saxaphone--one of my favorites--, trumpets, trombones, baritones, piccolo, clarinet, french horn, tuba, bassoon... but I still really love your flute music.”
“Uh huh. It’s beautiful.”
“I’ll...I’ll play for you sometime.”
“That’s be great.”
There was a nice, warm, fuzzy silence between us, and I felt the butterflies in my stomach and that dreamy sensation again. But at the same time, I felt tired. I touched the mouse on my computer to get the screen save off, then looked at the time.
“Holy crap!” I cried, “it’s 1:43! AM!”
“Uh...what’s that mean exactly?”
I’d forgotten time probably wasn’t essential in Ancient China and sighed, “Never mind, it just means it’s really late. Listen, I gotta go. My parent’ll kill me if they knew I was on this long,” I said, getting up. How had time flown so quickly. It didn’t seem like I’d been on that long.
“Yeah, okay. I’ll see what Tasuki and Akai are up to,” he paused, “hey, Nishiko? Are you coming over tomorrow?”
“Yeah, ‘course. I’ll be over,” I smiled, “goodnight, Amiboshi.”
“Good night, Nishiko. Sleep well.”
“You too. Bye.”
I hung up the phone and sunk back into the chair, sighing dramtically. He’s so wonderful! I thought wistfully. And cute too! Oh, God, why can’t he be real? Why can’t he be able to live in this world?
I got up silently and crept to my bedroom. I changed into my night clothes and snuggled under the covers of my bed, clutching the stuffed lion I always slept with tight to me. Before I could think more wistful thoughts, I drifted off to sleep.


1 This is taken from a fic by Ritz called “Yoroshiko” Gomen nasai, Ritz! Don’t kill us!

2 Chi-chan is Kissechi. She decided that she wanted to use the end of her name with a suffex instead of being “Kiss-chan.”

3 *laughes* How are you suppose to spell that? Hopefully you all know what that mean. =.)

4 These names are funny little punns. “shiai” means competition, and “hakike” means nauseated. So basically, Shiai is saying, “Hi, guys, I’m competiton, and this is nauseating.” =.)

ProlougeChapter OneChapter Two
Chapter ThreeChapter Four Chapter Five
Chapter SixChapter SevenChapter Eight
Chapter Nine Chapter Ten Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve