JPHiP Radio (27/200 @ 128 kbs)     Now playing: Ecomoni - Eco no Warutsu

Author Topic: A Young Girl's Odyssey [Epilogue ~COMPLETE~]  (Read 30669 times)

Offline Yuuyami

  • Hardhat? ( ¯ロ¯ );;
  • Global Moderator
  • Member+
  • *
  • Posts: 1614
  • Prance. Do it. Now. N.O.W.
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #40 on: October 31, 2006, 12:32:01 PM »
And one of my predicted scenarios came true :O...

Now it's up to what happens next... I have scenarios guessed for the next chapter too, so write on so I know if I'm right or not D:

Liked the mood near the end of the chapter :] I have a feeling this mood will be common throughout the story.

Offline rokun

  • ecchi
  • Member+
  • Posts: 1100
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #41 on: October 31, 2006, 05:39:07 PM »
Thank you all for your comments. ^___^ It makes me happy you're enjoying it so much. People seem to be taking things out of this that I didn't even expect.

Quote from: lil_hamz;225416
What's going on??? *music starts up* XD

That is the question, isn't it? ;) Even though you think you know something important after this, remember what the last three words of the chapter were and that they were the last three words... What happens next? :?

Offline rndmnwierd

  • Subleader of Tsunku's Army
  • ecchi
  • Member+
  • Posts: 4843
  • What has been seen cannot be unseen.
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #42 on: October 31, 2006, 06:27:13 PM »
Ai-chan? I knew it! I knew that she'd be the most likely to kill off the other girls for a solo career, lol.

Offline goosefish

  • ecchi
  • Member+
  • Posts: 139
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #43 on: November 01, 2006, 04:46:52 AM »
Great chapter!!
 
Reina comepletely ditching Eri, then ignoring her messages... Eri must be feeling so confused and rejected by this point. :(
 
Gosh, Ai-chan sure manages to keep a real close eye on Reina.
 
And she admitted to killing Miki! I knew there was something odd about her from the start!! But was it actually her, or did she tell those men she seems so to have control over to do the deed? :o
 
I really wana know how Reina reacts to the last thing that Ai-chan said!! It's just gnawing at my brian now so I can't wait for the next installment!!

Offline rokun

  • ecchi
  • Member+
  • Posts: 1100
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #44 on: November 04, 2006, 03:28:32 AM »
Chapter 10 – A Humble Offer

“Because, Reina…” Ai started. It seemed she was steeling herself for something, but Reina didn’t think it was words. “I killed Miki.”

Reina stared at Ai a moment, tiredness slowly seeping away, before bursting out laughing. Ai killing Miki? Ai killing Miki… Ai killing Miki… she rolled that statement around in her head and couldn’t stop laughing at the ridiculousness of it until she noticed Ai’s expression had not changed at all – she was still giving Reina a hard, steely look and occasionally flicking her eyes to the sides as if someone were going to spring out at them. Spring out at them…

Reina found her mind suddenly full of images of the men in the alley last night, of the two large men she saw on her way to Ai’s room, of… She stopped laughing. Ai killing Miki… It made perfect sense, didn’t it? She’d almost come to the conclusion herself, though for some reason also hadn’t even thought of the possibility. Ai-chan? Ai, who was so sweet to her when they first joined. Always so friendly. Always so shy. Of course, she’d been changing lately… Reina’s eyes widened. She finally took a step back from the girl, realizing what had just been happening.

“What…” she choked, not noticing her throat had apparently constricted for some reason. Clearing it, she went on. “What are you talking about? Miki died in an accident…” She looked at Ai, pleading with her eyes for the girl to tell her that it was all a mistake – that she was wrong, that she was joking… Joking? Why would she joke about something like that?

Apparently satisfied that the shadows in the room weren’t going to jump out and attack them, Ai turned back to the window, this time slowly. The night was deepening now, but the lights of Tokyo still shone strong. “An accident…” Ai said, bowing her head. “Yes, it was an accident. It’s possible it wouldn’t have turned out like that. It didn’t the last time.” Last time? What was she talking about?

Ai turned back around to face Reina. “This time it was different though. This time, I wasn’t just…” She paused for a second. “Please don’t cry again. It pains my heart when you do…” Seemingly despite her best efforts, her face was softening once more.

“Cry? What are you…” Reina whined between sobs. She hadn’t even realized she was crying. She fell to her knees. Ai started forward, but caught herself before she took a step, looking uncertain about something.

Reina couldn’t say anything while she cried for a while, with Ai looking on. When she finally began to calm down and speak, she said only one word. “Why…?”

Ai looked back at her strengthening gaze. The shock was now leaving Reina and was being replaced with… anger. And a little bit of fear. Ai crouched down to her level, still appearing elegant in her dress, and emotion seemed to be warring in her eyes. After a moment she spoke. “I can’t tell you that now.” Reina’s eyes narrowed. “I didn’t want you to know. I didn’t want anyone to ever know. I didn’t want to do this but… If I had to, I wanted to make sure nobody ever knew. Then you started being curious. You happened to talk to the right people… After that, I knew I had to protect you.”

“Protect me?!” Reina leaned forward, almost as if to grab the other girl by some convenient part of her body, but, probably fortunately, didn’t. She barked a sardonic laugh. “You didn’t want to protect me. Why would you care about that? You killed Miki.” Ai’s face darkened again. “You just wanted to make sure nobody found out so that you wouldn’t get caught. Well too bad, you did, and now I’m –“

She began to stand as she spoke, but was cut off quickly, with Ai standing again herself. “No. That’s not the reason. If you knew more, you’d know why.”

Reina was now making quite an effort to restrain herself from attacking the girl. She also still wanted to run off and call the detective, but something in Ai’s words kept her here. It wasn’t that she necessarily believed her – why should she, after the lies she’s lived by the past weeks, or who knows how long? It was Ai’s voice itself. She was faced with being caught and turned in for murder and yet… There was absolutely no fear in her voice at all. No worry. That kept Reina’s feet glued to the floor.

“So I don’t know anything, huh? That’s why I’m here, and that’s why I’m torn between tearing your hair out and turning you in for murder?”

“No, that’s not what I meant.” Reina listened carefully, but there was still no trace of concern in the other girl’s voice. Her anger was now beginning to be slightly overcome by her fear. The girl sighed, not in desperation but as if she was becoming resigned to something. “However, since you insist on wanting to know…” She hesitated a moment before starting softly, “I didn’t want to do this, but…” She caught Reina’s eyes with her own, giving her a look once again unlike any Reina had ever seen. Her breath caught. It was dangerous… seductive… yet also insistent. “If you join me… trust me…” Ai began, “You’ll learn everything. I didn’t wish it for you but maybe… Maybe they’re right. Maybe you need it. Maybe we need you. Maybe I need you.”

The gap between them had narrowed again, and after tearing herself away from those eyes, Reina found herself staring at Ai’s lips as she spoke those words. They were still moist from their kiss earlier. Their kiss…

The next thing she knew, her eyes were closed and she felt soft lips against hers. It was as good as last time. It was better. She felt Ai’s arms around her, holding her. She melted into the girl’s embrace. Then her mind returned to her and she remembered, “I killed Miki…"

She tore herself away, staring wide-eyed at the girl in front of her who looked like she might lose her legs this time. Reina slowly backed away in horror. “Ai-chan…” she breathed, noticing she didn’t apparently have any air in her lungs. She didn’t say anything more, but continued her slow retreat.

Ai apparently regained her breath more quickly, though. “Reina, I need you to trust me. It’s the only way…” She reached out her arm and started walking toward Reina, who began backing away faster herself to match it. Reina thought she saw tears come to the other girl’s eyes for some reason, but just shook her head in protest until she felt her back hit against something hard. She spared a quick glance to the side and noticed that she was at the door. Fumbling for the knob, she glanced back at Ai who was now just standing still in the living room. Not giving enough of a glance to see what was in her face though, she swung the door open and slipped out, shutting it behind her and breathing heavily.

She didn’t give any hesitation before taking straight off down the hall toward the elevator. The man in the bowler hat wasn’t there now. She was grateful for that. Before long, she was back outside and walking quickly away from the building. It was even colder than it was before, but she now felt no need to pull her coat tighter.

Once she felt comfortably far enough away from the mansion, she took out her phone and quickly looked up a number. She called it and raised the phone to her ear.

“…Moshi moshi.”

“Eririn? It’s Reina.”

“I know. I have your number in my cell you know. In fact, I have a special ring for you. It’s this cute little –“

“Would you still like to meet tonight?”

“Where? I’m just sitting in my room right now. Staring at the blank TV screen. Alone. I’ve been trying to catch the person I see in it, but he always seems to evade me and I end up hitting my nose…”

“That’s fine. I have to take the subway, but I’ll meet you there as soon as I can.”

“Are you in Harajuku?”

“…”

“If so, it’ll take you a while to get here.”

“…I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Frustrated, Reina ended the call just before heading down into the station. As she descended she darted her gaze all around her, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. She shook herself, mentally chastising herself for her paranoia. It had just been a long day. As she made her way toward the train, as much as she tried to make herself believe that, she couldn’t. What have I gotten myself into?



Reina woke up early the next morning feeling warm and cozy. She was lying on her side somewhat curled up facing the edge of the bed, and turned her head to look behind her and find Eri holding her closely, curled up in a similar way. The warmth felt so good, but she delicately lifted Eri’s arm and set it behind her, causing the girl to grunt in her sleep and fall over onto her back. Free of the girl’s clutches, she slowly pushed the covers down and got up.

When she got home they hadn’t had sex, to the great disappointment of Eri, but just held each other until they fell asleep. Reina was withdrawn most of the time, not saying a whole lot, causing Eri to poke fun at her teasing her about her pouty attitude. She didn’t mind a whole lot though, because even though she didn’t say much, Reina held her very close unwilling to even let her go in the slightest. Still, after a good while of the poutiness and clinginess, Eri jokingly asked if someone else had died. Reina was not amused.

Reina crept her way through the still-dark pre-dawn to the refrigerator, opening it to pull out some milk and rice balls. She sat on the floor leaning her back on the front of a chair to eat it, watching Eri’s chest rise and fall in her sleep. She thought she felt safe in Eri’s arms, but she couldn’t tell for sure anymore… She didn’t know what Ai wanted with her. She didn’t know what those men in the alley wanted with her. Even though Ai had shooed them away, she had a feeling she might not have seen the last of them, especially considering her experiences last night.

As she sat and ate and thought, the sun began to rise slowly, and before it was up, the alarm went off on the clock right next to Eri’s head. The girl bolted straight up, gasping, and slammed her palm down on the thing, shutting it off. “I have got to move that someplace that’s… not… there,” Reina heard her grumble, and she chuckled softly. Eri heard this and turned her head to stare at her. Her hair, still fairly short, was sticking straight up in random places, and the way her unfocused eyes stared at her like saucers, Reina thought she looked like a ghost in the soft glow of the sunrise. She was very cute.

“Good morning,” Reina said, giving a small smile.

“GmMhffmmmmh…” Eri responded, raising a hand to scratch the side of her head. While her fingers were up there, she seemed to notice her hair and began trying unsuccessfully to pat it down.

“I think you should just give it up,” Reina said, a smirk now forming at the side of her mouth.

“Meh,” Eri grunted, and crawled out of bed. Reina watched as she headed to the dresser and stared at it for what must have been a full minute.

“I don’t remember you being like this the last morning after we spent the night together,” Reina commented reminiscently.

Eri kept staring at the dresser. “Somebody didn’t keep me up hours past my bedtime last time,” she scolded it. Then she turned around in all her disheveled morning glory. “Do you want to take a bath with me?”

Reina thought for a second before licking her fingers and standing up. “Sure.” She headed to the bathroom and started taking her pajamas off. Well, they were actually Eri’s pajamas since she hadn’t thought to drop by her room to get her own, and Eri hadn’t wanted to let her out of her sight again. Either way, she supposed they were technically hers at the moment. After a moment, Eri joined her.

   When they had finished the bath and were brushing their hair, still with no clothes on, Reina began to think about last night again. That had been a nice distraction, but the fear inside her was too great to ignore forever. She looked over at Eri. “Your hair looks better now.”

   Eri blushed as she pulled a particularly stubborn knot out. “Usually getting it wet fixes it.” She looked worriedly over at Reina. “It doesn’t look like that every morning, you know. Seriously! I mean, it wasn’t that bad –“

   “I know,” Reina cut in, smiling, before setting down her own brush and heading into the other room to get a long shirt and some underwear of Eri’s to put on. Thankfully they were almost the same size. Once on, she bagged her clothes from yesterday and pulled on her coat. Passing by the washroom on the way to the door, she said, poking her head in, “Thank you for the clothes. I’ll get them back to you after the next time I wash my things.”

   “No problem,” Eri said, waving her hand at Reina, attempting to get at yet another troublesome knot. “Keep them if you like. What’s mine is yours.”

   Reina smiled at that, though the girl didn’t look over at her, still frowning into the mirror. “Thanks. Well, I’ll see you at the studio!” And she left Eri’s room on her way back to her own to finish preparing for the day.

   At the studio, the coaches kept them apart to work on their individual issues, so Reina wasn’t able to see much of the other girls. From what she did see though, nobody paid her too much mind, even Eri. Well, aside from Baby Girl of course, who was gushing about what had happened last night in her return to the studio for Kirari. Apparently there was some cute singer there assisting with one of the numbers, and she went on and on about him. Each of the girls who listened to her pointed out that she had to be very careful around “cute boys”, but she, always off in her own little world, didn’t seem to pay a bit of attention. I wonder how long it’ll be until we see her in Friday… Reina thought as she was finally able to tear herself away. She then got worried at the prospect of losing their new and apparently rising little miracle. The worst thing is… If she does get kicked out of H!P, she’d still have Kirari and who knows what else. How nice it must be to have a sizable number of fans who aren’t 40-year old men… she thought, twisting her mouth in a grimace. Although, sometimes she didn’t mind…

   The times she caught sight of Ai, the girl didn’t even seem to notice her. Even when they practiced the daily full-group choreography after lunch and she was dancing next to her, she was all business-like and didn’t act as if anything was out of the ordinary. There was a constant war inside Reina’s mind throughout the day of whether to try to approach her or not when she was able. However, thinking of that also caused Reina to remember things she was trying to block out. “I killed Miki…” She decided time after time to call Detective Kitamura after work, but time after time also decided that was a very bad idea. Part of it might have been that the times she decided to call were some of the few that Ai, when she was around, actually recognized her existence and gave her a level and unconcerned stare. It made her wonder if the girl could somehow read minds, too.

   At lunch, Sayu had popped up seemingly out of nowhere and insisted on taking Eri and Reina out for box lunches, claiming that they hadn’t spent enough time together lately and the “best friends” needed to catch up on everything. Eri and Reina would look at each other whenever Sayu spoke and grin to themselves, but they had a pleasant lunch. It almost reminded Reina of old times, before… before she had become older.

   After practice, everyone was saying their “Good job!”s and Reina headed out of the studio after packing her things. Eri asked her if she wanted to go to dinner, but Reina told her she just needed some time to herself. She would catch up with her later though, she promised. “Look for a surprise visitor in your room in an hour or two!”

   After parting from her friends and leaving the UFA building, she hadn’t escaped the sidewalk next to it before she heard, “Hello Reina.”

   She glanced up at the speaker and smiled in surprise. “Hi Aya-chan. How are you? I’ve not seen you… in a while,” she said carefully.

   “Oh I’m all right,” Aya said non-chalantly, straightening her fur muffler. “Things are going better. Well at least, they were.” She adopted a more serious look and gazed down at Reina.

   “They were? What do you mean? Did something happen?” Reina tried to ask naturally.

   “Oh nothing much really,” Aya replied, waving her hand dismissively. “Just… I had a strange message on my phone earlier today.” Reina cocked her head, peering up at her curiously. “I didn’t recognize the number, but all it said was, ‘Seek she whom you confided true. The cat spilt the milk, and wondered why it stained the cloth. She knows what all should not.’” Reina kept gazing at the girl, struggling to keep a disarming smile on her face.

   “Oh?” she squeaked, quickly coughing to cover it up. “It sounds like they sent it to the wrong number. Or else some crazed wota is trying to harass you.”

   Aya stared up thoughtfully, tapping a finger to her teeth. “You know, I thought about that. But it’s a rather strange message to send to anyone if it’s just a mistake. And as for crazed wota… I think they’re more into getting you to come to them, not some woman you might have confided something to.” She looked down at Reina again. “The only strange thing that’s happened in my life recently that might have led to a strange anonymous message on my private cell phone is a certain event that happened in Shibuya, and in the distraught state I was in for the past weeks, there was really only one girl I talked to… Do you have any idea what I might be talking about? My memory’s not as good as it… used to be.”

   Reina could feel the girl’s eyes boring into her own. They were such pretty eyes, though… Reina shook herself. Now’s not the time to think about those kinds of things, you idiot romantic girl. “Um… I’m not sure Aya-chan. I think I’d still go for the crazed wota. You should have your number changed.”

   Aya suddenly closed in on her, and Reina noticed she was backed against the wall. At least people passed constantly, so if the older girl tried to attack her, that wouldn’t last long. “If I find out you’re hiding anything from me, little girl,” Aya growled in a soft but menacing voice, “I’ll wring it out of you whatever it takes. With the police’s help if I need it. Mikitty was important to me. She was my life. If I had someone to take revenge on, she’d wish she’d never been born. I trusted you, but now it’s starting to seem like I shouldn’t have. You’re now at the top of that list. Just give me a reason.” Then she backed away and looked around, acting as if nothing at all was out of the ordinary. “It’s getting a bit nippy out here, isn’t it?” she said cheerfully. “You’d better button your coat before you catch cold. Wouldn’t want that happening.” Then she smiled and turned to walk away. Reina definitely didn’t see a smile in her eyes, however.

   Pushing herself forward from the wall, she did as Aya told her before realizing it – buttoning her coat and turning her collar. After a short pause though, she thought, Well, it is cold… The girl makes sense… A part of her mind laughed at her for her first thought after that encounter. Looking around herself, she saw Baby Girl back toward the building’s entrance, standing still and staring over at her. Once she saw Reina notice her, she began walking toward her.

   “Hey Koharu,” Reina greeted automatically, brushing the back of her coat off. Did the girl really have to push her against a wall?

   “Hey,” the younger girl responded.

   A few seconds later, after finishing with her coat, Reina looked up to see Baby Girl still staring at her. “Is there something you need? A ride? A dinner treat? You know I don’t have a car here…”

   “That was Aya-chan, wasn’t it? Who you were just talking to.”

   Reina hesitated a moment. “Yeah. She just had some advice to give me for my solo. Why? Were you looking for her?”

   The girl shook her head, not taking her eyes from Reina’s. “No. I was actually looking for you.”

   Reina just kept staring at the girl, giving her a “What are you, serious?” look. Just spill it already… Was she ever that young and dumb?

   After a moment, Baby Girl finally spoke. “Mistress, I mean Ai-chan, wants to see you. She’s still inside. She says she has something for you.” The girl tilted her head to one side. “If I were you, I’d come see her. I don’t know what she sees in you though. You’re not that much older than me…”

   The fear that had lain dormant most of the day suddenly bubbled up inside Reina as she for a moment just stared at this young… this baby… girl.

_____________________________________

...A lot happens in this chapter! Thank you all for your comments. Keep them coming! :grin: Please comment on anything you feel the need to...
« Last Edit: November 04, 2006, 03:30:51 AM by rokun »

Offline Yuuyami

  • Hardhat? ( ¯ロ¯ );;
  • Global Moderator
  • Member+
  • *
  • Posts: 1614
  • Prance. Do it. Now. N.O.W.
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #45 on: November 04, 2006, 03:38:58 AM »
Oh hell O-O Koharu's in the organization too?!

Holy crap.

O-O...

And I'm surprised Reina isn't torn between Ai and Eri...yet? :]

Nonetheless, good chapter. I look forward to the rest :]~!

Offline rndmnwierd

  • Subleader of Tsunku's Army
  • ecchi
  • Member+
  • Posts: 4843
  • What has been seen cannot be unseen.
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #46 on: November 04, 2006, 03:49:50 AM »
Mistress, mmm.... XD

Offline lil_hamz

  • Sapphire and Nouveau... like it should've been
  • ecchi
  • Member+
  • Posts: 2625
  • She makes every summer sweet, every moment happy
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #47 on: November 04, 2006, 04:14:25 AM »
OMG Koharu is in! I knew she was a smart one. But Ai-chan as the mistress? That totally blew me away :lol:
Okay now I'm suspicious of Sayumi.

Offline jafeijai

  • Member+
  • Posts: 4930
  • Music is my life ♪
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #48 on: November 04, 2006, 04:49:22 AM »
O_O..Koharu's in this too...and she's not liking Reina for some reason...maybe the attention Takahashi's giving Reina? o.O hmm...interesting plot twist..

Offline JFC

  • Miki's Birthday Twin
  • ecchi
  • Member+
  • Posts: 26702
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #49 on: November 04, 2006, 05:27:02 AM »
I'm finding myself wracking my brain over that phone msg that Aya got. :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

JPH!P :heart:'s Fushigidane, ChrNo, Jab & marimari. Always.

Offline Sukoshi

  • Member+
  • Posts: 1266
  • Forever in love with the turtle and the hare
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #50 on: November 04, 2006, 05:39:18 AM »
Quote from: lil_hamz;227869
OMG Koharu is in! I knew she was a smart one. But Ai-chan as the mistress? That totally blew me away :lol:
Okay now I'm suspicious of Sayumi.


Omg...I'm starting to suspect Sayu too!!  In fact this story is making me suspect everyone! :ON@_@: and and baby girl?!! :ONscared:  so blown away right now by how cool this story is...only random thoughts jumping out at me right now...:ONcool2:  

like bath :ONbath: :ONluvluv2: :ONshy1:

and Eri and the man in the tv?!  man did that sound really creepy :ONdunno:

In the back of my mind I keep thinking this would make for the best h!p tv drama ever :ONwriggly:

Offline rokun

  • ecchi
  • Member+
  • Posts: 1100
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #51 on: November 06, 2006, 04:06:04 PM »
Quote from: Yuuyami;227856

And I'm surprised Reina isn't torn between Ai and Eri...yet? :]

Right now Reina doesn't see the commonalities between Ai and Eri... Eri's always there for her and is her safety blanket. She's part of Reina's normal life. Ai is apparently in the middle of a quite extreme and not-so-normal plot while being irresistably sexy and alluring to a girl who sometimes lets her heart and emotions guide her more than she should... We'll see how long it takes for Reina to realize what is really going on between her and Ai... whatever that is, of course. :)

I'm glad everyone's enjoying the mystery! It wasn't even a great intent of mine to be so mysterious... I just mainly want to be dramatic and keep some tension in the space between my words.

We know so little about what's really going on with Koharu so far, don't we? ;)

Welp, I had to go out and buy FFXII, and now that is sucking up a lot of my time, but depending how boring work is I might be able to turn out another chapter later this week. :) Don't want to leave you hanging too long!

Offline rokun

  • ecchi
  • Member+
  • Posts: 1100
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #52 on: November 09, 2006, 05:33:22 AM »
Chapter 11 - A Bargain Struck
     
Reina followed Baby Girl – Koharu, Reina corrected herself in her head; she didn’t think she could ever really call her “Baby Girl” again – back up passages to one of their locker rooms. Reina thought it was a rather odd place for a meeting, but supposed it wasn’t up to her to decide it. They saw Ai still pulling up some socks while sitting on a bench near her locker. She was the only one left in the room. At least, until they arrived.
 
      “Thank you, Koha-chan,” Ai said pleasantly, not looking up. Koharu bowed her head slightly, but hesitated, standing still between Ai and Reina. After a moment Ai spoke up again. “You can go now. You were heading back to your room before dinner, right?”

      “Yes Mistress, but –“

      “I’ve told you before to just call me Ai. There’s no need for that ‘Mistress’ talk.”

      “Yes Mistress, I’ll try to remember that.” Ai sighed. “I…” she began to continue, but now that her timing had been spoiled turned around to pout at Reina before lifting her chin and attempting to walk gracefully out of the room. Reina gave her an odd look as she passed.

      “Kids…” Ai said once the young girl had left the room. “What can you do about them, huh?” Tightening her last shoelace, she stood up to give Reina an appraisal. Reina blushed as the other girl looked up and down her body. Ai didn’t seem to notice.

      “Um…” Reina began, then decided she had no clue how to continue. “Did
your rehearsal go well today?” She had no idea where that came from.

      “Yeah actually,” Ai responded. “It… Well, can I tell you a secret?” She stepped closer to a frozen Reina and leaned over almost as if to whisper in her ear. “The choreography was way too easy. I was bored to tears most of the day.” She stepped back. “So I suppose being easy and being bored is not too bad, huh?”

   Reina swallowed. “Um…” she began again. “I guess. Does that mean you were holding back in the dance club the other night?” Ai just smiled. Reina let the silence go a moment before gaining some confidence. “But you didn’t call me here to discuss the difficulty of our choreography I imagine, did you?”

   “Astute as always, Reina…” Ai praised with a grin, and picked up her duffel bag. Duffel bag? Why does she need a bag that big? It’s even full… “Would you walk with me?”

   “Do I have a choice?”

   Ai just smiled again. They left the locker room, walking slowly and leisurely down the hall, nodding at the staff they passed along the way. Something was very strange about this situation, and Reina had no clue what to expect next.

   At one point when nobody was walking near them, Ai spoke. “My offer is still open, you know,” she said, seemingly sincerely.

   Reina glanced at the other girl before turning her eyes back ahead of them. “And why in the world do you think I’ll join you since you killed Mikitty?” she said, carefully keeping her eyes forward and not looking at the girl beside her.

   Ai didn’t say anything for a moment before Reina heard her cough a short laugh. “You sure are gutsy. You’re not doing a good job of convincing me you’re not a good choice.”

   Reina stopped suddenly at that and whirled to face the other girl, who herself turned to face Reina calmly. “Convincing you??” Reina snarled. “The only thing I should be convincing you of is that the cops are going to be dragging that pretty little ass of yours off to jail soon!” She gasped as soon as she said that and slapped a hand to her mouth.

   Ai smiled in that excruciatingly unconcerned way that she had of late. “You know, I should have your tongue cut off for that.” Reina’s eyes widened, but after a second Ai couldn’t hold back a smirk. “Just kidding!” Reina didn’t think her eyes were kidding. “However, me getting my pretty little ass dragged away is not going to happen. I think you know that. What could happen though…” She stared at Reina hard a moment, hesitating for some reason, her eyes boring hard into the girl across from her. Then she tilted her head up slowly and looked at the ceiling as if going deep into thought, before beginning to say slowly, “What could happen is another certain cute girl getting carted away. A girl who’s been asking a lot of questions… acting very suspicious to people who are paying attention. People who might do a bit of… detective work.” Reina realized her fingers were around her phone and gripping it tightly. She thought of the card lying next to it with a number that seemed to blaze out at her through her pocket.

   Ai looked back down at Reina, and it seemed to Reina like there was some kind of fire blazing in the other girl’s eyes. “All it would take is someone to call them on it. Someone who feels very strongly about what happened. Someone who…” Ai glanced down at the hand Reina had wound tightly around her phone. “…gets the message,” she finished calmly, and almost… resignedly.

   Reina’s body was nearly shaking. Ai let her last words sink in for a minute until Reina ground out through gritted teeth, “What do I have to do for you to help me?”

   Ai’s eyes found hers again. “Like I said before Reina, I just want you to join me.” Reina saw her eyes blazing again with varied emotions including… hope?

   Reina stood tense for a moment longer before relaxing with an inaudible sigh. She hoped she wasn’t making a deal with the devil… “All right. I’ll “join you”, whatever that means.” However, she followed her statement up with a hard glare at the other girl. “I want it clear though that I’m only doing it because it seems I need to. I’m not in the habit of being friends with killers.”

   Ai gave her a steady gaze in return. “I understand. I’ll leave it to the future to define what our relationship will ultimately be.” Reina had no clue what she meant by that, but she supposed as long as the girl was satisfied… Her mind clouded, and what she had done just hit her. She’d have to be even more careful from now on.

   “Now, to begin that future…” Ai began, looking around a little and stretching as if some weight had just been lifted off her shoulders. “Go ahead and go home. Do whatever you were planning on doing before talking to me. I’ll find you when it’s time to start learning what you’re so desperate to know. It’ll probably be sometime when it’s dark.” She adjusted her bag, hoisting it as if about to leave, and then turned from Reina toward the hall. “Oh, and one more thing…” she said, not looking back. “I hope you’ll see Nii-chan tonight. I’m worried about her and…” She hesitated a moment, and Reina thought her voice became more strained and sorrowful. “Well, please do your best to take care of her.” With that, she walked down the hall and vanished from sight, leaving a motionless and confused Reina behind.

   Try her best, she could not figure out what was going on with that girl. One minute she seemed a cold ruthless bitch and the next she could… Reina could still almost feel long kisses… The next moment she could be the warmest and friendliest girl you’d meet. And the saddest for some reason…

   Shaking her head, she adjusted her bag and began her walk once again down the hall. When she got to the bottom of the elevator, she found Koharu just outside it. Was the girl waiting for her?

   “I’m sorry about earlier,” the girl said, staring at the floor in front of her. Reina gave her a strange, wonky-eyed look. “It’s just… Sometimes it seems like nobody sees what I’m capable of. I know I could do just about anything. I just know it!”

   Reina’s look didn’t change. “You do know you’re fourteen, right?”

   The girl looked up. “So?” She looked a bit taken aback at that. “So are Yajima-san and Shimizu-san. They’re already the leaders of their own groups.”   Maybe Reina’s estimation of this girl shouldn’t have changed after all…

   “…And you have a solo career and a coveted spot in a group where everyone else is at least three years older than you. Saki-chan would kill to have what you do.”

   “Ah, Morning Musume is a joke,” the girl responded dismissively. “It has been ever since –“ She almost choked out that last word, finding that there were fingers around her throat.

   “I dare you to continue along that line of thought…” Reina growled between gritted teeth. The other girl struggled slightly, but Reina held her firm. Her rage was aflame from various things coming to a head in this encounter with this younger girl. “I won’t have you saying things like that – things that are lies sprung from the immature mind of a stupid immature kid.” Koharu’s eyes widened in shock at her senpai’s words. The girl clearly had not expected Reina to do anything like this. “Of course, that’s not why I’m about to choke you right now. I don’t know what you had to do with what happened to Miki, but –“

   “Miki?!” the girl spluttered out through her constricted throat. “Why do you think I had anything to do… to do with that?? She got into a car accident…”

   Reina suddenly released the girl, pushing her lightly against the wall as she did. As Koharu brought her own hand to feel her throat, Reina took a step back and studied the young girl. “An accident?” Reina said quietly.

   “Yeah…” Koharu whined, seemingly terrified at this never-before-seen side of Reina. “Isn’t that what Yossi said? She got into an accident when driving through Shibuya…”

   That was indeed what Yossi had said. The problem was why this girl didn’t seem to know anything more while her “Mistress” claimed responsibility for a murder. “Has Takahashi-san not talked to you about the accident?” she asked carefully.

   “Mistress? Why would she talk to me about it? Did she comfort you?” Koharu’s mouth twisted when she asked that, as if the potential subject was something distasteful and appalling. “She doesn’t deign to such trivial things. Mistress is too important for that.”

   “She is?” Reina asked quietly again, trying to hide her curiosity.

   The other girl narrowed her eyes in confusion. “Of course. Don’t you know? I would have thought you would…” She bit off that last word, as if saying something she hadn’t wanted to. “This is the girl she is making her Chosen??” the girl hissed under her breath. Reina thought it wasn’t intended to be heard, but the girl seemed to have issues with controlling the volume of her voice among the many others.

   “Chosen? What do you mean?”  she asked quickly.

   Koharu looked up again, eyes wide as if Reina had just sprouted horns. “How…” she began, and then hesitated, seeming to think on something. “Maybe I was wrong about you.” She bowed slightly to Reina. “Excuse me, I have a date with Akihabara I can’t miss!” And she ran off before Reina could hardly move.

   Reina stared after her a moment before shrugging. Ai said to go home. I guess I’ll go home, she thought, grimacing to herself. She was beginning to get the idea that Koharu wouldn’t be a very helpful source of information.

   When she got outside she looked around, but Koharu was not to be seen, and neither was anyone else she recognized. She started down the sidewalk, not worrying this time about turning her collar. It was actually somewhat pleasant this evening. Still quite cool, but not as bad as it had been… Of course, she imagined later tonight it would chill her once again. Sometimes she wished she wasn’t so thin.   Tonight…

As she walked, she wondered when Ai would come. She said it would be when it was dark, so it would probably be when it was cold. She shivered involuntarily at that thought. She thought back to the rest of the conversation they just finished a short time ago. She’d said she’d join her… What did that mean? At least she’d learn something instead of walking around clueless like she always seemed to. Ai killed Miki… She shivered again, though this time not from the cold. She had made a deal with a killer… Though, especially after the talk with Koharu, she wasn’t sure if she even believed Ai. But why would someone claim to kill someone she hadn’t? She was quite serious; it didn’t seem she was lying.

“Shit,” Reina cursed, scooping out her phone from her pocket. She had just remembered another part of their conversation.

She dialed a number and held the phone to her ear. It rang a few times, but eventually a tired-sounding girl’s voice came through.

“Moshi moshi…”

“Gaki-san? It’s Reina.”

“I don’t think you’ve ever called me before… Did I give you my number?”

“Um… I think you gave it to me a couple years ago? After I first joined? How are you doing?”

“Ehhh….”

“Where are you now?”

“Near the train station.”

“Hey, umm… Would you like to come over to my apartment? I could… use some company.”

“…Huh? Wh… I mean…”

“Please?”

“…I don’t even know where you live.”

“I’m in Room 732, Nippon Heights Tower 1.”

“A hotel?”

“Yeah. I haven’t found a permanent place in Tokyo yet… I was waiting until I got older…”

“I see… Um… I don’t know, Reina. I’m… kind of with someone right now.”

“Oh? I… see. Anyone I know?”

“…Probably not. We’re just having dinner though, so… I suppose I could come after we’re done…”

“That’d be great! So I’ll see you in an hour or two then?”

“Sure. Reina. Um… See you then I guess. Bye bye.”

“Bye.”

Reina stared at the blinking call timer on her phone until it disappeared and her wallpaper of a picture of the group of the three sixth gens appeared. It was one of her favorite pictures – of course, that’s why it was on her phone. She was wearing a cute dress and standing between Eri and Sayu, all of them flashing peace signs. Eri was cuter than ever, and Sayu was smiling while doing her Usa-chan Peace! They both looked so happy. Reina wasn’t so sure about herself though… She wondered how many of the smiles she gave were fake. The ones during concerts of course were, unless she spotted some cute fan, but they weren’t the only ones…

She tucked her phone in her pocket. Who was Risa with? She walked down the steps to the subway station. While waiting for the train, she glanced around at the crowds. There were many salarymen and women, all seemingly withdrawn into their own busy worlds. She spotted a few men who looked like otaku. She tried to keep her face hidden from them. She stared a moment at a young woman who couldn’t have been much more than a girl holding a baby, trying to get it to stop crying… That was a more unusual sight. The baby cried as if it were alone in the world and not being held by its mother. The girl hollowly tried to hush it, giving a bland look as if she were the one alone in the world. Everyone around did their best to ignore them. Hers wasn’t their problem, after all. Reina tore her eyes away from the pitiful sight and scanned slowly along the rest of the crowd. A man and his wife... A pair of gaijin... A man in what looked like a more expensive suit than a regular salaryman, with some type of birthmark creeping up his neck from his downturned collar…

Wait. Birthmark? She looked back at the man. He turned her direction and she saw what looked like an identical mark on the other side of his neck. They wouldn’t both be birthmarks…

She noticed now that he was leaning back against a pole, arms crossed in front of him. Reina looked at his face, and he appeared to be looking back, though it was hard to tell since he wore dark sunglasses. His hair was buzzed to about an inch. He nodded at her. She looked around and seemed to feel eyes now looking from all around her. The people shuffling by seemed to give her shifty glances and whisper about her. Looking down to avoid their judging stares, she realized she had been rubbing her palms together. They were sweaty, and she became consciously aware of anxiety bubbling within her. She looked back over at the man, who still gazed back at her evenly, though he didn’t seem threatening at all. In fact, if anything, looking at him she felt… safe. The feeling from the crowd lessened.

A sound brought her eyes back to the tracks, and she noticed her train had arrived. She headed over to it, looking back to where the man was. He was gone. Even so, the feeling of safety didn’t go away, and she boarded the train home.

Offline rndmnwierd

  • Subleader of Tsunku's Army
  • ecchi
  • Member+
  • Posts: 4843
  • What has been seen cannot be unseen.
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #53 on: November 09, 2006, 06:32:55 AM »
Wow, what's going on? The suspense killz!

Offline Sukoshi

  • Member+
  • Posts: 1266
  • Forever in love with the turtle and the hare
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #54 on: November 09, 2006, 07:45:58 AM »
Wah so many mystery men...I want to know who Risa's with :o  !

Offline goosefish

  • ecchi
  • Member+
  • Posts: 139
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #55 on: November 09, 2006, 09:04:45 AM »
Oh Reina, what have you gotten yourself into this time? Joining Ai-chan in whatever sneaky business she's up to can't be good news... can it?
 
And Risa sounded quite odd in the telephone conversation. I wonder who she was with.
 
Suspense!

Offline Yuuyami

  • Hardhat? ( ¯ロ¯ );;
  • Global Moderator
  • Member+
  • *
  • Posts: 1614
  • Prance. Do it. Now. N.O.W.
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #56 on: November 09, 2006, 12:24:05 PM »
Suspense :]

Seems Koharu isn't as important to Ai as Reina is? Seeing how Koharu still doesn't know about a lot of things :]...

I don't know why, but now I see slight connections to the Odyssey's  beginning. Call to war, Refusal of the Call, and then finally, going to war... If that really is the case, then we're in for a hell of a story, yes? :]

Who Risa's with also calls my suspision :]...

The mystery men? Now that Reina's 'with' Ai, the men will now gladly protect Reina? At least that's how I'm viewing it o_o. Unless they're with a rival yakuza gang or something o_o...

Write more~! <3

Offline lil_hamz

  • Sapphire and Nouveau... like it should've been
  • ecchi
  • Member+
  • Posts: 2625
  • She makes every summer sweet, every moment happy
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #57 on: November 09, 2006, 02:00:01 PM »
Risa must not be with a date. Why should she sound tired if she is, right?
I'm surprised Reina really looked up Risa. I thought she wouldn't take orders from Ai. And why do I think Koharu wants to be the chosen one? Argh so many questions, update soon please, I can't wait!

Offline rokun

  • ecchi
  • Member+
  • Posts: 1100
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #58 on: November 09, 2006, 07:07:21 PM »
I thought I'd respond to everyone's comments so that you know I love them all even if I haven't responded directly to you yet, in the hopes of getting more people to comment and hopefully read, too! ^__^ I know it's long though... so take your time!

rndmnwierd: If I told you what was going on now, it'd ruin the fun of the story. ;) You will find out more eventually... but don't expect that everything Reina comes to believe is the truth...

Sukoshi, goosefish & Yuuyami: Everyone wants to know who Risa's with... :roll: (not that I didn't make that an obviously intriguing question ;))

more Yuuyami: Interesting conjectures! You seem to be catching on to a few things, which doesn't surprise me with how you analyze these stories (:)). Will our little Reina follow the heroic arc? She does seem to be a type of hero after all... There is definitely a lot ahead of her still. :)

lil_hamz: :)  Looks like you've caught onto a few small details as well.

Offline rokun

  • ecchi
  • Member+
  • Posts: 1100
A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #59 on: November 10, 2006, 09:48:39 PM »
Chapter 12 – The Stars of Fate

A knock on the door prompted Reina to set down her tea and rise slowly. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to do this, but she knew she had to have a friend who understood. She wasn’t crazy about doing anything Ai told her to, but she felt this was more of a “request” anyway. Ai had sounded as if she was genuinely concerned about Risa, which she should be being her best friend and all. Though, Reina wondered how much longer that would be the case, especially since it seemed Ai had almost given her up. She also felt for the girl. She had to have been going through a very rough time, the cause of which Reina only knew a little bit of, and well, Reina just thought of herself as a nice person. She arrived at the door, unlocked it, and opened it wide.

“Eririn…!” she said, visibly surprised.

“Hi Reina,” the other girl responded. “You’re finally home.” Without another word, she doffed her slippers and walked past Reina into her room.

Reina stood there a moment with her hand on the doorknob before pushing it slowly shut. “What are you doing here, Eririn? I’m expecting someone…”

The other girl just plopped on the couch and turned on Reina’s TV. “I was bored. And waiting for you to get here. You’re hard to track down, you know?” Eri didn’t take her eyes off the TV. “Who are you expecting?”

“Um… nobody,” Reina responded, fidgeting a little near the door.

There was another knock on the door. Reina froze where she stood. Eri still didn’t look up from the TV. The knock sounded from the door once again. “Nobody seems to be at the door. Aren’t you going to welcome her in?” Eri said as if absolutely nothing were out of the normal. Reina felt as if her brain was going to explode, but she turned back around to the door.

When she opened it to reveal Risa, the new arrival greeted her. “Hey, Reina-chan.”

“…Hi,” Reina said hollowly.

Risa gave her an odd look and peered beyond her into her room. “You have the TV on. Am I interrupting something?”

“Hey, Gaki-san!” Eri said in a loud voice apparently from the couch.

“Eri?” Risa asked, her voice a bit louder too so the girl within would hear her. Then she looked back at Reina questioningly. “Are you having a party?”

“It would seem so,” Reina said, sighing as if resigning herself to the situation. “Come in, Gaki-san…” The other girl kept looking at Reina a moment as if unsure before she strolled slowly in herself. Reina closed the door, wondering what the world had against her today, and tentatively moved back further into the room.

Risa was standing not in the middle of the room, nervously shifting from foot to foot and casting glances at Eri and the TV. “Want some pocky?” Eri asked, offering some toward Risa.

“Er, sure… thanks,” the fifth gen responded hesitantly, and she headed over to join Eri on the couch, taking a stick of pocky to munch on as well.

Reina was about fed up with the situation. Suddenly taking off from her spot near the door, she marched over to the TV and turned it off, spinning to look at the two girls sitting on the couch, fists at her hips. The two girls looked up at her curiously, both munching on their treats. For some reason Reina had an image of lambs looking up while munching on their feed like when they visited the farms.

“Eri,” she said commandingly. “What are you doing here?”

The other girl looked back at her innocently. “Eating pocky,” she said through her full mouth. Reina’s eyes narrowed.

Risa looked between the two staring at each other and swallowed the last of the pocky she had been chewing on. “Um… I can really leave if I was interrupting you two.”

“No,” Reina said quickly. “I asked you to come here and you’re welcome here. I wanted to talk to you.” Her eyes never left Eri’s wide innocent-looking saucers when she spoke. “I… I want to show you that I’m here for you.” She finally looked over at the other girl, who just appeared mystified. “Please stay.” Risa nodded slowly.

“Eririn…” she began, returning her attention to the still-munching girl. “You know I love having you here but… I need to talk about some personal stuff with Risa. I don’t know if she’d be comfortable having someone else around…”

“Anything she says to you she says to me. Right, Reina?” Eri asked, still acting as casual as ever.

Reina took a deep breath. “It’s okay…” Risa said. “I don’t really have a whole lot to talk about.” She shot a dangerous look at Reina.

“Please, Eririn…” she sucked in air very slowly, committing to a course of action. “I promise I’ll tell you everything I can in a little bit. I just need to talk to Risa alone now. Okay?” With that, she moved to right in front of Eri and pulled her up, wrapping her arms around her and giving the girl a long, deep kiss.

After some time she pulled back, still looking a breathless Eri in the eyes, trying to express as much emotion and honesty as she could in her own. She tried to tell the girl with her eyes that things would be different from now on. Eri for her part looked back at Reina, who had obviously gotten her attention, and swallowed the pocky that was still in her mouth before the kiss.

“The pocky tastes good, by the way,” Reina said, smiling softly.

After Reina let go of her, Eri pulled a little farther back and looked between Reina and a wide-eyed Risa. “Okay,” she said. “You’ll call me later, right?”

“I will,” Reina said definitively, giving a sharp nod.

Eri smiled at that and headed for the door, looking back at Risa. “She’ll take good care of you,” she told the other girl, before slipping out of the room.

Reina, whose eyes had been on Eri the whole way, looked back at Risa, who was still staring bewildered after the departed girl. Reina smiled and sat next to her. “So… How are you, Nii-chan?”

Risa still didn’t seem to have a voice for a moment. “I’m, um… fine,” she said, now giving Reina an odd look. “Since when are you two…?” she asked after a moment, obviously unable to restrain herself any longer or say any more than that.

Reina turned to look ahead as if lost in thought. “I guess it was since what happened… since what happened to Miki. We were always close, though.” Reina looked back at Risa to see her nodding slowly, still looking at Reina as if she’d never seen her before. “What? Do you mean you’ve never thought about that with Ai-chan?”

Immediately when she said that Risa scrunched her nose. “No! Of course not! Why would I…?”

Reina barked a laugh. “That’s right. You’re the innocent one, aren’t you? And you didn’t let her kiss you that one time…” It didn’t get the reaction she was hoping for, though.

Risa’s face suddenly became blank and she seemed to withdraw within herself a little, her eyes looking through Reina at something that might have happened in another place at another time.

Reina put a hand on Risa’s, which was lying on her leg. After a moment she asked tenderly, “What happened the other night, Nii-chan? You said something at our meal yesterday, but… What you said could have meant a lot of different things.”

The other girl looked fearfully at Reina, and Reina felt the hand beneath hers quiver as if with some inner turmoil. She squeezed it a little. Risa looked down at their hands and then back up at Reina. “I shouldn’t be worried that you’re gonna go all pervy on me or anything, right?” she said, attempting a crooked smile and cock-eyed look to try to divert the subject a little.

Reina giggled. She wanted to do her best to amuse the girl and follow her lead in order to be totally unthreatening and help her as best she could. “I don’t know…” she said sarcastically. “You are pretty hot, especially since I know you and Ai-chan aren’t together. If I didn’t have Eri, you might have to watch yourself!” The other girl finally let out a small giggle of her own. “So…” Reina began, thinking this was a good opportunity. “Who’d you have dinner with? I’ve been dying to know. Our innocent Nii-chan wasn’t out on a date, was she?”

Risa’s eyes widened in a mock scandalized look. “Of course not! What are you talking about? I couldn’t possibly…” She shook her head vehemently. “I was… um…” She looked up at Reina again, as if unsure whether to tell her something. “Well, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt telling you. You’ll be the first to know though, and you have to keep it a secret until it’s officially announced!” Reina nodded quickly, overcome with eagerness at whatever scandalous thing the girl next to her might be up to.

“I’m doing another photobook!” she said cheerfully.

Reina laughed. Well, so much for scandal. “Good for you!” She raised Risa’s hand in hers and clapped it between her own a few times. Risa laughed softly too at the other girl’s oddness. Suddenly though, Reina dropped their hands back to Risa’s leg and adopted an over-serious look. “That doesn’t tell me who you were with, though,” she said, unable to hide a smirk at the end.

The other girl rolled her eyes. “Who I was with…” she began, “was part of the crew. It was our first meeting to discuss our ‘vision’ of what we want the book to be like. I was meeting with Yamamoto-san, Kaho-chan and Tsuyama-san. They’re going to be the main staff for it, I think.”

Reina’s ears caught one of the names Risa just gave her. “Tsuyama-san?” A flower she hadn’t thought of for days came to her mind suddenly.

“Yeah,” Risa said. “I know he’s a little young, but he’s apparently going to be the senior assistant photographer for this job. Why…” Something suddenly dawned on the girl. “Wait! He was the one you were with at the memorial, wasn’t he?” Reina looked down to hide her deep blush. Risa poked her side with her free hand. “What, are you afraid I’m going to steal him from you or something? Of course…” she said, as if thinking about something, “Since you’re with Eri I guess that’s not it.” Suddenly she looked up and gave Reina a hard look. “If I catch you two-timing that poor girl, I’ll wring your neck!” She held the menacing air a moment before breaking out in another giggle.

Reina joined her after a few seconds. She felt like loosening her collar. Was it getting hot in here? “I don’t care,” she said, trying to appear as if that were true. Deciding a slight change of subject was most definitely in hand, she continued, “I’m happy to hear you’re finally being recognized for how insanely cute you are,” she said with a grin. It was now Risa’s turn to blush. “But…” Her mind adopted a more solemn mood. “Are you really okay? I don’t mean to push too…”

“No, it’s all right,” Risa said dismissively. “Thank you for making me laugh. I haven’t done that for a while.” She looked up at Reina, this time with no fear, but honesty, as if appealing to Reina’s friendship. Reina smiled encouragingly, glad she’d been able to make the girl comfortable with her. “Like I told you last night, yesterday morning I… didn’t wake up in my own bed. I was in a room of that hotel at the end of the alley behind the club. You know which I mean?” Reina nodded, worry creeping up a bit more within her. “I…” she hesitated slightly, but only slightly, before going on in slight embarrassment. “I was in only my underwear. My clothes were on the floor next to my bed. Nobody else was there and… I don’t remember a thing about how I got there.” She paused after that, and Reina couldn’t help but squeeze her hand a little harder.

“I’m sorry I left you like I did at the club,” she apologized.

Risa shook her head. “It’s not your fault. I was stupid. After you left, I ordered the bartender to give me a real drink, unlike the fake one he gave you, and even though he objected I wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Unfortunately I also know enough to know what’s real and what’s not.”

“You’re not that innocent after all then, eh?” Reina asked, looking up with her eyes at the other girl, her head still lowered slightly.

Risa laughed softly. “No, I’m not. I am eighteen now, you know. There are some things I know too well. In fact, after what happened that night I’m not sure if I can be called ‘innocent’ at all anymore…” She didn’t say anything for a few seconds. “After I woke up I checked myself out enough to realize that I hadn’t… at least fully… done anything. Apparently whatever happened, it only involved me in my underwear. Still…”

Reina pulled the other girl’s hand up and kissed it lightly. “Nii-chan, you didn’t do anything. Whatever happened, it was done to you. And if I ever find that guy, even if he didn’t go past your underwear, I’m going to kick his ass!” Images of Ai with her knives flashed through Reina’s mind, and she wondered if, before too long, she would be capable of fulfilling that promise and much more. Well, that wasn’t what was important now.

Risa laid her head on Reina’s shoulder. “Thank you, Reina. It just felt good talking about it with someone.”

Reina’s free arm was now wrapped around Risa’s neck, and she brushed back her bangs a little. “Of course. I’m glad you trust me as a friend.”

“I do.” Risa said, raising her head to look into Reina’s eyes. She then looked down at Reina’s hand which was now joined with hers near the top of her thigh. “Hey, no pervy stuff, remember?” she demanded. They both giggled at that.

After talking a little longer, Risa said she really had to get going as she had a lot of work to do, so the two girls hugged and said their goodbyes for now. When Risa was gone, Reina basked in the still silence for a few minutes before picking up her phone.

“Moshi moshi.”

“Eririn? Um, would you like to come over now? Gaki-san left.”

There was no response, and after a moment Reina was about to ask if the other girl was still there when there was a knock on the door. Carrying her open phone with her, she opened the door to find Eri standing there, her phone to her ear still. “Hello,” the other girl said lightly.

Reina chuckled. “Come on in, silly,” she said, dragging the girl into the room. Their phones were soon forgotten in the kiss Reina pulled her into. After what seemed like hours and a fraction of a second, Reina’s lips came away from Eri’s and she caught her breath. “That was quick,” she said with a grin.

Eri tore herself away from her and plopped herself down on the bed, looking invitingly up at Reina. Reina wasn’t quite ready for that yet though, and sat over on the couch, enjoying Eri’s pouting look of disappointment.

“You have to let me keep my promise, don’t you?” Reina asked tauntingly. Eri looked at her curiously. “I was going to tell you what’s going on.” Eri sighed and moved over to drop next to Reina on the couch.

Reina told her of some of her feelings since Miki’s death. She told her how it affected her, and that she wished she could do something about it. She told her about the detective, whom Eri gave a surprised yelp about. She told her about the club the other night and the strange men that approached her afterward, saying that they gave her an offer which they left her to think about. She told her about her worries that something was going on. She told her about Aya’s strangeness ever since the accident which apparently only she had seen firsthand. She told her that Risa had been going through a lot, but not what, saying that it wasn’t her place to tell her that story. Being a good person, Eri understood that.

She didn’t tell her about Ai. Or Koharu from today. Throughout the whole telling of the story, she left out all the little bits that included her, except when it was necessary to acknowledge her presence. If she told her anything about that, she feared she’d fall into the same trap Reina had found herself in. She didn’t want that to happen to Eririn. She wanted to protect her.

After their long talk, they finally made it to the bed. For some reason, now that they had shared more with each other, it was a much different experience than before. It was softer… sweeter… more wonderful. It almost felt like they were closer than they had ever been before. Still, Reina felt that they weren’t as close as they could be. It was a feeling an obviously blissful Eri didn’t seem to share.

After an amount of time Reina had no clue to the length of, except for knowing that night had fully fallen outside, Eri pulled herself from Reina’s arms and got out of bed. Reina looked up at her in disappointment.

“I’m going back to my room to sleep,” she stated, pulling her clothes on.

Reina now felt like the one with her stomach emptied. “Huh? Why?” she asked uncertainly.

“You kick too much in your sleep,” the other girl responded with a grin. Reina sat up in the bed, pulling her sheets around her, grimacing. “I feel like one of these mornings I’d wake up with bruises all over after sleeping next to you!” she continued.

Reina pouted. “I’m sorry... But do you have to…?”

Eri giggled, leaning over to kiss Reina’s cheek. “Don’t act so hurt silly. But… we’re even now.” Eri grinned, and Reina sighed. She supposed the girl was right. “Seriously, though. I’d love to stay with you but… I have a lot of work to do, and I think you need sleep a lot more than me.” Reina began to protest, but Eri shushed her by continuing, “No objections. I’m making sure my little Reina gets plenty of sleep tonight! You’ve had a long few weeks.” Reina now kept her mouth closed. She didn’t want to argue any more. The girl was probably right anyway. “I’ll find you when it’s dark…” Ai’s words sounded through her mind. Yes, it was probably best to let the girl have her way.

“Okay,” Reina grudgingly agreed. “I’ll see you at rehearsal in the morning then?”

Eri nodded. “Yeah. I won’t get to sleep until late tonight, so I’ll be sleeping in as long as I can.” Having now fully dressed, she grabbed her box of pocky and stood to look at Reina a moment. “You look cute sitting with the covers around you like that,” Eri said, smiling. Reina blushed. “Of course, you look better without them…” That made Reina blush furiously. “Good night~!” Eri cheerily said with a sing-song voice, and flipped around, heading for the door.

“Good night,” Reina said quietly to her back. In a moment she was gone, and Reina was left sitting within her covers. She laid back, hands behind her head, and peered out the window at the stars. She saw one shooting down to the horizon. Her mother always told her that shooting stars signaled change. Things were definitely changing all right. She wondered how far it’d go. She turned her head back to the ceiling, which kept her from noticing many other stars shooting across the horizon as well. Shadows seemed to play across the ceiling from outside. She tried following them until they all disappeared.

The next thing she knew, she woke up, lying on her side facing off the side of the bed. She wondered why it didn’t feel like she was wearing anything under the covers until she remembered what happened earlier. After shifting a little, she decided that she’d have to try this more often. It had a nice feel to it. While she was adjusting her leg, she felt it brush up against something warm and she froze. She scooted back a little more and realized that there was something warm along her full length. Someone was with her in the bed. Had Eri come back?

She turned over slowly beneath the covers, and when her eyes adjusted she gasped. Miki’s face stared from beside her.

“Why did you kill me?” the dead girl said.

“I… I…” Reina stuttered, hardly able to form words.

“Were you the one?” the apparition asked. Her hand came out from beneath the covers to rest on Reina’s bare shoulder. “You must help me. Heed the messenger, though she brings tidings of concern. The one who wishes, if she gains all, she loses everything. Listen for my voice…” Miki’s other hand took Reina’s other shoulder and pulled her close. Reina tried to scream when their lips were about to meet, but couldn’t…

She woke sweating. She was staring off to the side just as she was before, breathing heavily. The room was quiet around her. It was a dream! she told herself. She forced herself to calm down. It was a dream…

“Bad dream?” a voice asked from next to her, bringing her out of her thoughts. So Eri had come back…

She turned over, but no one was lying next to her. There was, however, someone sitting cross-legged on the other side of the bed, chin in her hands, looking down at the sweat-drenched girl. She glanced up and down Reina’s body. “While that’s pretty hot what you’ve got going there with the sheets stuck to you all over, don’t you think you should put some clothes on? We have a lot of work to do. Oh, and don’t worry about getting too little sleep before rehearsal tomorrow. It’s been… cancelled. For you, at least. Well, are you gonna move?” Reina just stared, frozen, up into the face of the girl who was sitting above her. Into Ai’s face.

_________________________________

I have to say, I'm very happy about this chapter. I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. :)
« Last Edit: November 11, 2006, 07:52:09 AM by rokun »

JPHiP Radio (27/200 @ 128 kbs)     Now playing: Ecomoni - Eco no Warutsu