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Sakura Court

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Sakura Court – Part 1

By Haruka (haruka@ymail.com)

--

Last night my secret was found out by Tousan. It’s kind of hard to hide a big horse made of Soul Metal.

Despite my being Silver Fang Zero, I’m not supposed to go Horror-hunting alone; Tousan insists on accompanying me. It has something to do with me being one of the youngest Makai Knights at sixteen, despite being second only to my father in rank. But what he didn’t know was that on some of the nights I was supposedly with my band or doing interviews, I was going out to fight on my own (well, with Silva, but seeing as she’s around my neck, she always goes where I go.) I’ve been taking on Horror after Horror, gaining more experience, and eventually, earned my Madou Horse and Flaming Armament.

Last night, when I was out with Tousan and a particularly tough Horror brought friends along, it became necessary to break out the Horses and Flaming Armament, so I had to give up my secret. The look on my father’s face promised we’d talk about it later, since right then we were too busy fighting for our lives.

Once we got home and he’d shut the door, he turned to me and said, “Well?”

I grinned and replied, “Great fight, huh?”

Tousan folded his arms. “There WILL be one in a minute unless you start answering me. What were you doing with a Madou Horse?”

“Um, riding it?” Yeah, I know, being a smartass when your father is already mad at you is never a good idea. I said I was a high-ranking Makai Knight, not a genius.

My father took hold of my elbow and steered me toward the stairs. “Let’s see if you’ll feel more like talking after your backside is sore –“

“No, that’s okay!” I said, pulling away and holding my hands up in front of me in surrender. “I’ll talk!”

Tousan stood back again. “In order to get a Madou Horse, you have to kill one hundred Horrors. I’ve been keeping track of your tally on the nights we go out, Rei – you should still be forty-two Horrors short.”

“I guess I sort of ….” I shuffled my feet a little, “went out alone. A few times.”

“FORTY-TWO times!” he yelled. My father isn’t a yelling type of guy. I winced.

“Kouga?” My mother came downstairs, looking between both of us with concern. “What’s going on?”

“Our son pulled a Madou Horse out of thin air tonight!” Tousan snapped.

“What? But he wasn’t going to have one for another –“

“Forty-two Horrors!” Tousan concluded, and then there were two of them glaring at me. I was really starting to hate the number ‘forty-two.’

“I must share responsibility for this,” my necklace, Silva said. “I should have said something about what he was doing.”

“Kouga would not expect you to betray Rei,” said Zaruba, my father’s ring and partner to him as Silva is to me.

“No, I wouldn’t,” Tousan agreed with a sigh. “But Rei shouldn’t put you in a position where you’d have to keep secrets, either.”

“I’m sorry I’ve been sneaking around,” I said earnestly, and ventured a smile. “But tell the truth; aren’t you just the least little bit proud of me? I’m the youngest Makai Knight to kill a hundred Horrors.”

I saw the look that passed between them and it told me that yes, they were impressed by my accomplishments, even if they couldn’t admit it. They tried to look severe.

“You risked your life and lied to us,” Kaasan scolded. “Don’t expect praise from us tonight, Rei. In fact, what you SHOULD expect is –“

The creak of the front door opening beside us interrupted her and drew all our attention. My eldest brother, Yasuka, slipped inside, his shoes in his hand, looking quite pleased with himself for all of two seconds before he realized that most of his family were there and he was busted.

“And where have YOU been until three o’clock in the morning, young man?!” my mother demanded.

“Um, well, it was the strangest thing, Kaasan!” Yasuka said quickly. “I was in bed having a nightmare and rolled over – right out the window!”

“Yasuka, that’s not even a good ATTEMPT at a lie,” Tousan told him. “Especially as you’re still fully dressed.”

Niisan looked down at himself. “Ah, so I am. I’ll … uh … go to bed now. Goodnight!” He kissed both of them and even me, and hurried up the stairs.

“This isn’t over!” Kaasan called after him. “We’re talking about this tomorrow!”

“You might as well go to bed, too, Rei,” Tousan said. “You’ve got school in the morning. But we WILL continue this conversation,” he added significantly.

“Yes sir, goodnight!” I hurried upstairs, grateful to my brother for interrupting what could have been a very painful rest-of-the-night for me. I may still be getting it in the morning, I thought, but at least they’ll have had some time to cool off, and hey, maybe Yasuka would do something else stupid that they could focus on again. I could hope!

 

Rei

--

End of Part 1

(2008)

No characters here are mine. Celebrities here are for fictional purposes only and none of the events within ever happened.

This fic is not to be re-posted.

Chapter Text

Sakura Court – Part 2

By Haruka (haruka@ymail.com)

--

“Yasuka? YASUKA!”

I rolled over in my comfy bed and tried to ignore the banshee shriek of my mother’s voice as she came up the stairs. I had been up too late the night before at a party, and had gotten caught coming in, so that’s how she sounded to me, and I wasn’t ready to get up yet.

“Saejima Yasuka!” the voice was in my doorway now. “There is no way you’re missing school today after staying out until three a.m., and before you leave, we’re going to talk!”

“Oh, Kaasan, please,” I groaned, pulling the covers over my head.

I heard her approach and next thing I knew, the warm covers had been yanked down again. “I mean it, Yasuka, now!”

I sat up and pushed back my long hair. “Okay, I’m awake,” I said, but didn’t really mean it.

“Where were you last night?” she asked, sitting down beside me.

“At a party,” I answered. “One of my co-stars threw it – I had to go.”

“When we asked you where you were going last night, you told us that you were going over to the Gekiranger house to returned some class notes to Ken.” She glared at me. “You never said anything about a party, especially not one that would keep you out until three a.m.!”

I gave her a sheepish look. “If I had, you’d have said no.”

She looked exasperated. “Yasuka, this has to stop. You stay out too late, you don’t tell us the truth, you cut school, and I’ve heard some pretty frightening things about your …,” she pursed her lips, searching for the right words, “love life,” she concluded and took hold of my bicep. “You’re going to school today, but before that, some punishment is in order.”

My mother is a beautiful, feminine woman, but she’s strong as an ox and just as stubborn. When she hauls you over her lap and pulls your pajama bottoms down, you know there’s going to be pain.

And there was. But I handled it with grace and dignity.

“Kaasan –OW! Please, stop, I –OW! I won’t do it – OUCH! Again, I promise –OWWW! KAASAAAAN!”

This went on way too long before she let me get dressed again, sniffling and rubbing my poor butt. Since I obviously wasn’t miserable enough, she launched into The Speech.

“You’re the eldest, Yasuka, we expect you to be a good example to Kazuma and Rei. How can we expect responsible behaviour from your little brothers if they see you behaving so wildly?” She sighed and pulled my head forward to lay a kiss atop it, then headed for the door. “Get dressed and come down for breakfast.”

Subdued, I did as she told me. I was hungry, anyway, even if I didn’t feel much like socializing with my family or going to school.

When I reached the breakfast table, Tousan and Rei were already seated. My younger brother didn’t look too happy about that, and was shifting around in his seat, grimacing. I hadn’t been the only victim of parental justice that morning, and wondered if it had to do with whatever they’d been arguing about when I’d come in the previous night.

“Hey, Rei,” I said, easing myself into a chair and wincing, “you look like I feel.”

“I made the mistake of taking the initiative in my career as a Makai Knight,” he said with a rueful look, “I got my Madou Horse ahead of schedule.”

“But that’s good!”

“He did it on his own,” my father said grimly, “by sneaking out and lying about what he was doing.”

“Oh. That’s bad,” my response was purely for the parental ears, but I gave Rei a private smile so he would know I was proud of him. He grinned back.

“I hope you managed to finish your homework before going out partying all night.” Kaasan tapped me on the head as she passed by. “If I get another call from your Principal, we may have to consider cutting back on your acting roles.”

I hadn’t finished the homework, but figured I’d be able to work on the last bits of it in the minutes before first bell. “Don’t worry, Kaasan,” I assured her.

“Kazuma!” she called up the stairs. “Hurry up or you’ll be late!”

“Coming!” he yelled back. Kazuma almost never made it to breakfast on time. It took too long for him to put his make-up on in such a way that he wouldn’t get told to wash it all off before leaving the house.

To say that having Rei, a Makai Knight, actor/singer, and the heartthrob of the neighborhood, for a brother was an interesting experience is just half of it; Kazuma has to go that extra step further in being out of the ordinary. He was an actor, too – in fact, we figure it was one of his acting jobs that warped his mind. He and Rei once co-starred in a show that had pretty boys dressing up like girls. Like a good actor, Rei took it with humour, had fun with it while it lasted, and moved on to his next job. We’re not sure what happened with Kazuma, but ever since that show, he’s given up acting, started a band and taken on a Gothic Lolita style of clothing; lacy dresses, chunky shoes, ribbons, make-up. It was like having a little sister instead of a brother. His bandmates aren’t much better, and a couple of them kind of creeped me out. Especially the one that had a crush on me.

When Kazuma finally came into the room, he was in his school uniform and not a dress, but as I suspected, his make-up had been carefully applied and he looked cute, even if he did go a little too heavy on the mascara. His hair was pulled into two bouncy ponytails on either side of his head. My father took one look at him and shook his head, swallowing a big mouthful of coffee as if he wished it had bourbon in it.

“Good morning,” Kazuma said, pausing as he noticed Rei and I squirming uncomfortably in our chairs. “I hope that isn’t catching,” he murmured as he sat down.

“It could be if you get sent home for the make-up and hair again,” Kaasan told him, putting a plate in front of him.

“If they say anything, I’ll wash my face and take the hair down.” He shrugged. Kazuma was used to dealing with issues like these. It’s the chance you take for deliberately looking like a weirdo.

We were almost finished with breakfast when the doorbell rang. I was already half-way out of the room and headed to answer it. “I’ll get it!” I said. “It’s probably Ken or Gou –“

But it wasn’t. It was Kazuma’s bandmate, Tendo.

“Yasuka-san,” he said in the utterly flat tone that made everything he said sound as deadpan as he looked.

“Hi Tendo,” I replied, standing aside to let him in. “Kazuma will be ready in a minute.”

“Thank you.”

Tendo is a kid of few words, so how did I know he had a crush on me? Kazuma told me. I wondered, though, how the heck HE had found out, since I didn’t think this guy talked much more with his friends than with me. I smirked a little, looking at his face. “Aren’t you worried that you’ll get sent home, looking like that?”

If Kazuma went a little heavy on mascara, it had to be said that Tendo went even further with his eye make-up. In fact, he had a habit of smudging it all around his eyes in big circles that made him look to me like he’d been given twin shiners or hadn’t slept once in his entire life. I shook his head at him. “The teachers will never let you into class looking like that, Tendo.”

“But I’ll reach class looking like this,” he answered in that monotone. “That’s enough.”

I rolled my eyes. “Whatever. See you later.” I grabbed my books and got my shoes on.

“I’m sorry you got spanked.”

I looked up, startled. “Kazuma told you?” I said, even though I knew he hadn’t had a chance.

“I can tell.”

I wasn’t sure whether to be annoyed or grateful, since he’d given me fair warning that unless I wanted everyone at school to know, I’d have to work at hiding the fact. Since I couldn’t decide, I called out a hasty goodbye to my family and left quickly. I’d had enough of my brother’s freaky friend for one morning.

 

Yasuka

--

End of Part 2

(2008)

No characters here are mine. Celebrities here are for fictional purposes only and none of the events within ever happened.

This fic is not to be re-posted.

Chapter Text

Sakura Court – Part 3

By Haruka (haruka@ymail.com)

--

“Remember, everybody!” Naoya called out to all of us. “I’m coming by the school at noon to pick you up!”

“Yes, Leader!” Nisshi saluted and Shuuta and I snickered. Naoya had already reminded us about our rehearsal three times since we got up.

At least he had a sense of humour about it. Our eldest brother/guardian/band leader smiled and laughed at himself. “Okay, okay, I get it. You’ll be ready, I know.”

“As far as I’m concerned, we can start right now,” Shuuta remarked, doing a handstand on the back of the couch.

“Shuuta, stop that!” Naoya told him. Our best dancer/acrobat dropped down with a mischievous grin. He knew he wouldn’t have fallen – he could have done it one-handed.

Nisshi began singing to himself as he gathered his books. He, Naoya, and Misako are our three main singers, but all of us can sing and are kick-ass dancers. That’s what our band, AAA, is all about – Attack All Around. Everyone has multiple talents. My personal specialty is rap – a skill my best friend, Saejima Rei, and I shared.

Speaking of Rei, I kept checking for him out the window in hopes of catching a ride to school on his motorcycle. I loved the feeling of riding the bike, and it beat going in our crowded van.

“Where are Chiaki and Shinjiro?” Naoya asked suddenly. “It’s getting late. Mitsu, go check on them, will you?”

Reluctantly, I turned away from the window. If I missed a ride with Rei because of my two youngest siblings, I was going to be peeved.

I never got the chance to check, though, because at that moment, my older sister, Misako, ran down looking panicky.

“Guys, you’d better come upstairs!” she said. “Chiaki and Shinjiro are arguing and any minute they might –“

A loud thump from above accompanied by a shout told us it was too late and we all ran for the stairs as one.

Sure enough, we got upstairs and there were Shinjiro and Chiaki wrestling, pulling hair, slapping – basically expressing displeasure with each other in their usual way. We quickly took our usual battle stations to haul them off one another.

And people thought that fight scene in our ‘Hurricane Lily, Boston Mary’ video was staged. Yeah, right. The only difference between that and home was then a camera was running.

“Okay, that’s enough, stop it!” Naoya ordered as he and Nisshi struggled to hold Chiaki back. She’s a tiny little thing, but a real wildcat when she’s riled. Shuuta and I were restraining Shinjiro, who is also shorter than both of us, but was putting up a good fight.

“I MEAN it, you two!” Naoya finally shouted and gave Chiaki a swat on the butt. She yipped in surprise and cried, “Ow, Naoya!” but he was busy yanking Shinjiro around and planting one on his butt, too. Shuuta, Nisshi, and I backed off quickly in case we got caught in the crossfire.

“Now what’s it all about this time?” Our eldest brother asked, looking between the two of them.

“You know what she did to me?!” Shinjiro exclaimed, waving something in front of Naoya. “She stuck THIS to my forehead while I was sleeping!”

“What’s that?” Nisshi asked, peering at it curiously.

Misako laughed. “It’s a maxi pad!”

“YAAAHH!” We guys all jumped back and even Shinjiro dropped the … thing … and moved quickly away from it. The girls both laughed harder at us.

“Honestly!” Misako exclaimed through her giggles. “It’s perfectly clean! You’re all being silly!”

“Chiaki,” Naoya said, his hand on his chest, “PLEASE don’t fool around with those things.”

“Hey, he did it first!” she accused. “I was only getting him back for when he opened the whole pack and stuck them all over my bedroom window so the world could see!”

“I only did THAT because you put one in my school bookbag and it fell out in the middle of the boys’ locker room!”

“I don’t know how you could touch that,” Shuuta shuddered as he looked at our youngest brother.

“Sometimes sacrifice is necessary for revenge,” Shinjiro told him.

“And sometimes punishment is necessary for revenge, too,” Naoya warned. “I don’t want there to be anymore follow-up tricks from either of you, is that understood? Otherwise you’ll be standing up at the next recording session.”

“We stand up when we record, anyway,” Nisshi pointed out helpfully and received a dangerous look from our big brother.

“You KNOW what I mean,” he said. “No more of this!”

Chiaki and Shinjiro both nodded silently. We all knew it wouldn’t be the last time they tried to tear each other a new one, but we also knew that if anyone else ever made a move against one or the other, they’d go ballistic on them. They were fiercely loyal to each other in the face of outside threats.

The doorbell rang downstairs. “I’ll get it,” I said, happy to get away from the girl-stuff that was still laying on the floor.

I was surprised to find my best friend on the front step. “Rei, hey, good morning, come in.”

Even in our crappy school uniform, Rei managed to look great, which is just one reason the whole neighborhood loves him. I suppose I should count myself lucky that he chose me for his buddy.

“Where is everyone?” he asked.

“Upstairs,” I told him. “Shin-chan and Chiaki were going at it again and you don’t want to KNOW why. Just be grateful you have no sisters.”

He laughed. “You forget; I’ve got Kazuma. Hey, can I get a ride to school with you guys? I don’t want to take the bike today.”

“Really?” I was puzzled, then saw his sheepish expression and groaned. “Aw, man, you got your butt kicked, didn’t you?”

“Yep,” he said ruefully and rubbed his backside, “they found out about my Madou Horse.”

“I’m sorry,” I told him, and I was. Rei had worked really hard to advance as a Makai Knight and it sucked that he was getting grief for it. Who could figure out parents sometimes?

Or siblings, either.

My family came thundering down the stairs. Shuuta and Nisshi were sliding down the banister while Naoya and Shinjiro raced down carrying Misako and Chiaki on their backs, laughing. The feud was over for another day.

“Hi Rei!” Nisshi greeted cheerfully and Rei grinned at him. Nisshi has the kind of smile that could make anyone respond.

“Hey there, I’m catching a ride with you guys to school.” He looked at Naoya. “Is that okay?”

“Sure, always room for more.” Naoya put Misako down and we all put our shoes on. “Don’t forget, everyone –“

“You’re coming by the school at noon to pick us up!” we all chorused in unison.

“There’s that great AAA harmony!” Rei laughed and we headed out to the van.

 

Mitsuhiro

--

End of Part 3

(2008)

No characters here are mine. Celebrities here are for fictional purposes only and none of the events within ever happened.

This fic is not to be re-posted.

Chapter Text

Sakura Court – Part 4

By Haruka (haruka@ymail.com)

--

There’s a reason why I can’t go to school with Ryoutaro and Yuuto, or any of the other kids I watched leaving Sakura Court. While I can take human form now without possessing Ryoutaro (although the form I do take is still my own version of his body) , I’m not really seventeen like my Ryoutaro-form. There’s no definite on the age of an Imagin, but my brothers have me pegged at about thirteen, with some qualities of an older kid (my breakdancing) and some of a younger kid (my crayons, bubble toy, and reading level.)

It wouldn’t look good for a supposed seventeen-year-old to go to high school and read picture books (let alone use a Ryuvolver to shoot teachers who get on his nerves) so I stay home. Deneb is firm that I should have lessons of some sort, so he attempts to teach me himself. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m going to be this age for the rest of eternity, so it’s not like I’m in a hurry. Especially when there are other, more fun things to do.

Like drive my brothers crazy. I had recently watched a tv show and it gave me a great idea that I wanted to try out on them.

When I went into the living room that morning, Deneb was the only one working, as usual. He had his apron on and was dusting the table, the tv, and Momotaros, who protested loudly.

“Hey, Odebu! I’m not a piece of the furniture!”

“Don’t be so sure, Sempai,” Urataros commented from where he was parked in front of the mirror. “You’re about as active as the sofa you’re sitting on.”

“It’s not MY fault there’s nothing to do anymore since we saved all time from being destroyed and aren’t riding DenLiner anymore.” Momotaros pouted.

“There are other worthwhile activities,” Urataros told him. “For instance, _I_ am heading out on a date.”

“In the daytime?” Kintaros looked over from where he was lifting weights.

“Not all dating has to be at night,” Urataros pointed out.

Momo snorted and turned away. “Dating is stupid.”

“Spoken like someone who could never get one in the first place.”

I wasn’t very interested in their conversation; dating was something else I wasn’t likely to ever be doing, and I didn’t care. It was enough having Kame-chan (Urataros) be date-crazy, and to have Deneb and Sieg as a couple, and Yuuto and Ryoutaro looking at each other like they never had before. I put that all aside; it was time to see how my little game from tv would work. I bounded into the room.

“Well, it’s about time you got up, Ryuuta,” Urataros said, glancing over his shoulder at me. “You’re late for breakfast.”

“Oops, I did it again,” I said and went to inspect what Deneb had made for me.

“I hope it’s still warm,” Deneb remarked, sounding worried. “If it isn’t, I’ll heat it up.”

“That’s not what you said yesterday,” I answered.

“It … isn’t?” Deneb scratched his head. “Well, yesterday you were on time for breakfast, so maybe that’s why.”

“Oops, I did it again,” I said mournfully.

“What’d you do this time?” Momotaros asked.

More urgently, I repeated, “Oops, I did it again!”

“What?! What’d you do?!” Momo looked around frantically at the stress in my voice.

“Is something wrong with the child?” Sieg asked from where he lay on his chaise. “He’s behaving strangely this morning.”

“Sieg’s right for a change!” Momotaros declared, jumping up from the couch. “Hey, Snot-Nosed Brat, what’s going on with you?!”

“That’s not what you said yesteday,” I chirped.

“It probably IS because there’s always something going on with you!”

“Ryuuta!” Kuma-chan (Kintaros) spoke up. “Answer the question!”

“Oops, I did it again.”

“You certainly did,” Urataros stated, turning away from the mirror to shake a finger at me, “and you’re about to make us angry.”

I pointed back at him. “That’s not what you said yesterday.”

“Here, Ryuutaros,” Deneb said, handing me a big lollipop, “maybe this will make you feel better.”

I took it. “That’s not what you said yesterday,” I pointed out.

“But I give you Deneb candy EVERY day.” He looked confused.

“Oops, I did it again ….”

Momotaros clocked me unceremoniously in the back of the head. “Okay, knock it off, this isn’t funny!”

“That’s not what you said yesterday!” I accused, rubbing my head.

“GAAAAAAHHHH!” Momo yelled in frustration.

“THAT’S NOT WHAT YOU SAID YESTERDAY!” I yelled back.

“All right, that’s it, I’m leaving for my date early,” Urataros declared, changing out of his natural Imagin form into his human form. “I’ll leave you all to deal with the alien child.”

I pouted as I watched him go. “Oops, I did it again.”

Momotaros slammed a hand down on the back of the couch and looked at Kintaros. “I can’t believe it, but he actually found something even more annoying than his usual ‘Can’t hear you!’ line!”

“Line …,” Sieg said thoughtfully. “Now that you mention it, wasn’t there a comedy tv show on the other night where the participants were only allowed a two-line vocabulary? This sounds much like that.”

“There we have proof positive that television corrupts.” Kintaros nodded gruffly and cracked his neck with his knuckles. “It’s giving Ryuuta stupid ideas.”

“That’s not what you said yesterday,” I remarked cheerfully.

*SWAT*

“OW!” I yelped and spun around to glare at Momotaros.

“’Oops, I did it again,’” he mimicked. “Now knock it off or there’ll be more!”

It’s days like this when I wish I DID go to school. Maybe people have a sense of humour there.

 

Ryuuta

--

End of Part 4

(2008)

No characters here are mine.

This fic is not to be re-posted.

Chapter Text

Sakura Court – Part 5

By Haruka (haruka@ymail.com)

--

I still didn’t know if I could trust them.

Or maybe ‘trust’ is the wrong word. It was really a matter of whether or not I could depend on them.

After the battle with Long, and the farce that was the KenDan (why bother suggesting it if you were going to let us win?) Rio and Mele were joining the Gekirangers. It wasn’t so much that I doubted their intentions, but would they back us up after all the times we’d tried to kill each other?

I said as much to Ran and Jan in the hallway at school before lunch. Since Jan had been raised in the woods by animals, his education had suffered and he was still trying to catch up. For now, he was still in our classes, but we weren’t sure how long it could last. In any case, he was immediately, passionately incensed by my uncertainty.

“Why is Retsu even wondering about that?! Rio and Mele were willing to give up their lives in the Judgement by Fist to prove themselves! They’re bana-bana!”

“I realize that, Jan, but just because they’ve proven that they regret their actions doesn’t mean that they’ll stand up for us in the future.”

“I won’t pretend I don’t have some of the same concerns,” Ran admitted doubtfully, “but the KenDan was supposed to decide things.”

“Well, there has to be another way of proving we can depend on them,” I said thoughtfully.

“Not at home.” Ran shook her head. “The Seven Kensei and Miki have all accepted the outcome of the KenDan. We’re not to hold anymore grudges.”

“We shouldn’t!” Jan declared. “Rio and Mele are GekiBlack and GekiGreen now! They’re on OUR side!”

I knew I should feel the same way, but even after the two of them headed to the cafeteria and I was pulling my sketchpad out of my locker, it nagged at me.

I spotted Rio and Mele a little further down the hall. It was still weird to see them in the school uniforms, and I don’t know how they did it, but they managed to look regal in them. Rio looked my way briefly, then turned back to Mele and said something I couldn’t hear that made her giggle. It irritated me.

“Hey, Fukami Retsu!”

I turned at the sound of my name and was suddenly shoved up against the lockers by a neanderthal twice my size. His name was Koichi and I had the misfortune to share classes with him. A couple of his cronies were hovering behind him, grinning like the morons they were.

“You made me look stupid in Math class just now,” he growled at me.

I had to look up to meet his glare, but that didn’t deter me from doing it. “All I did was answer the question that the teacher asked me, Koichi.”

“Yeah, but you did it AFTER I’d already gotten it wrong!” he reasoned. “THAT’S what made me look stupid!”

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that Rio and Mele were now watching the scene along with everyone else in the corridor. I suddenly realized that maybe this could be the true test – if we’re all supposed to be comrades now, shouldn’t they save me when I’m in danger? I could have easily taken on all three of these guys by myself, but decided I wouldn’t do a thing to fight back. In fact, a little prodding was going to be necessary to give Rio and Mele a real reason to step in. I smirked up at Koichi.

“I’ve got news for you; you already WERE stupid before class even started. Nothing I did could change that.”

There was a general “Ooo …,” from the surrounding crowd, while Koichi’s cronies looked stunned. I’m sure they were used to having the people they bullied back down right away.

As for Koichi himself, he looked fit to kill, and I was undoubtedly the target. “You’re gonna die, Fukami!” he yelled and drew back his fist. I could have dodged and countered, but my gaze darted to Rio. He had put an arm around Mele and the two of them were murmuring to each other while keeping an eye on us.

CRACK! Koichi’s fist connected with my jaw. It hurt like crazy, but I’ve been beaten up much worse in training with Master Pyon Pyou, so it didn’t floor me. I started to bring up my hand to counter the next punch, but remembered what I was trying to do and faltered. Another punch caught me across the cheek and my sketchpad fell to the ground. My jaguar heart wanted badly to fight and I struggled to hold it back.

A few more punches later and I knew help wasn’t coming. It figured that when I finally realized it, someone called out that a teacher was coming. Koichi gave me another hard shove against the lockers and I banged my head. I felt myself sliding down, but was unconscious before I hit the floor.

When I came to, I was sitting with my legs outstretched, and I hurt all over. However, I was warm in someone’s arms and a soft cloth was carefully cleaning my face. I cracked a swollen eye open and saw Mele crouching in front of me, holding the cloth and dabbing my split lip. I realized there was another pair of legs on either side of mine and the warmth I felt was from a jacket laid over me and a strong chest at my back.

“He’s awake,” Mele said.

“About time,” came the voice near my ear. I shifted around to find myself face-to-face with Rio. He had been holding me upright using his own body.

“Why?” I managed to get out. I didn’t understand – why were they patching me up when they couldn’t be bothered to have helped me avoid being beaten in the first place?

“Someone has to clean you up,” Mele said, turning my face back toward her so she could continue working. “What were we supposed to do; leave you laying there unconscious and bleeding in the hallway for the teachers to find?”

“Why not?” I grumbled peevishly, wincing as she carefully dabbed my lip again. “It’s not like you cared.”

Mele stopped what she was doing and I felt Rio stiffen at my back.

“What is that you just said?” he asked evenly. I thought I heard a lion growling somewhere – he had released a little of his Beast heart with his anger.

“I saw you there, watching them beat me up!” I accused, twisting around to glare at him. “You didn’t even try to stop them! I was right about you all along – we can’t depend on you at all!”

“What did you want us to do that you couldn’t have done yourself?”

I frowned, not understanding. “You could have –“

“Listen up, Loser,” Mele interrupted me. “I asked Rio-sama if we should step in, but he said that since you had held your own against him in the KenDan it would be an insult to presume that you needed any help. And besides, you were acting as if you WANTED to pick a fight with those guys!”

I couldn’t argue the second point, but the first …. I turned half-around to look at Rio’s face. “Is that true?”

“Why would I lie?!” Mele demanded.

“Of course it’s true,” he said calmly. “You’re a skilled fighter and those guys are nothing. You could have taken them out easily, but for some reason, you weren’t trying.” He met Mele’s eyes past me. “I guess now we know why; he was testing us.”

“And here I thought the KenDan was already test enough,” she snorted. “What more do you want from us?”

“I wanted to find out if I could rely on you,” I said, and even to me it sounded lame.

“Well, here we are, sitting on this filthy bathroom floor, cleaning your fool head,” Rio said with a half-smile that could have been a smirk. “What do you think?”

At that moment, my older brother came running in and skidded to a stop. “I heard you’d been hurt, Retsu,” he said carefully, taking in the scene.

“He’ll live,” Rio replied, holding my head steady while Mele applied cold water to another abrasion. “We’ve got it covered, Gou.”

My brother looked questioningly at me and I tried to nod, but Rio’s hands were firm. “It’s okay, Niisan,” I told him.

He sighed and gave his own forehead a light knock with his fist. “Man. You had me worried there. I’ll leave you to it then.” He turned to leave, then paused and looked back suddenly. “Mele, what the hell are you doing in the BOY’S bathroom?!”

“Cleaning up your stupid little brother. Why?”

He looked as if he was going to say something else, but he shook his head and left instead. Mele and Rio exchanged a look of amusement and I relaxed and allowed them to tend to my wounds.

I had a feeling our new team was going to be okay after all.

 

Retsu

--

End of Part 5

(2008)

No characters here are mine.

This fic is not to be re-posted.

Chapter Text

Sakura Court – Part 6

By Haruka (haruka@ymail.com)

--

“How many times do we have to go through this, Kazuma?” the Principal was saying. It was one of those questions that didn’t require an answer, especially as he continued. “This is the third time this month, and I think that’s enough.”

“Yes sir,” I replied, because it wouldn’t be smart to say, “Oh, I don’t know, I think I’ve got one more in me.” That was more like something either of my brothers might say. I’m not so much of a smartass as they are.

At least I don’t think I am. Maybe my bandmates would say differently.

“Either you take out the ponytails and wash off the makeup or I’ll have to send you home.”

“All right,” I said obediently. “I’ll do it right away.”

He eyed me seriously. “If I have to have this conversation with you one more time this month, I’ll be paddling you. Understand?”

I nodded firmly, wide-eyed. I’d never been paddled in school before and didn’t want to start now.

“You may go.”

I bowed and headed out of the room, already pulling the ties from my hair. It seemed ridiculous to me that he’d rather have my hair loose around my shoulders than in two tidy ponytails just because I was a boy. But he was the one in charge, so who was I to expect him to make sense?

I was surprised to find my bandmates waiting outside for me. “Hey, guys,” I frowned at Tendo’s raccoon-smudges around his eyes and put my hands on my hips indignantly. “Now that just isn’t fair! How come they didn’t get on YOUR case about makeup?”

“The teachers are creeped out by him, so they don’t say anything!” Tatsuro snickered. My dye-blonde bandmate had to duck a smack Tendo aimed at him.

“You shouldn’t give in to them, Kazuma,” Shotaro scolded me. “It’s bad enough we have to wear these uniforms; they shouldn’t be able to mess with your hair and makeup.”

I shrugged. “Yeah, well, both my brothers got spanked this morning and I don’t want to make it unanimous. Come on, I’ve got to go wash this off”

As we were going toward the bathroom, I passed a Senior classroom that was supposed to be empty during lunch. A distinctive *SMACK* came from inside. I paused – the door was open a crack. Unable to resist, I peeked in.

A guy who looked vaguely familiar was being spanked by a teacher. He wasn’t in any of my classes, as I’m not a Senior, but he was very, very handsome. Normally, if a teacher spanks a kid, they do it with the paddle, while the kid leans over the desk. This guy was actually over the teacher’s knee, bare-bottomed. And what a lovely bottom it was, not to mention his firm, sexy thighs.

Someone tapped my shoulder. “Hey, Kazuma,” said Tatsuro, “what are you doing?”

“Falling in love,” I replied softly.

“What?!” My bandmates all tried to crowd in for a look, but I pushed them back.

“Stop that!” I hissed. “Don’t look!”

“Why, what is it?” Shotaro asked.

“There’s a really cute guy getting spanked in there!”

“And you’re in love with him already?” Tendo queried, raising an eyebrow at me.

“Yes,” I said seriously. “Yes, I am.”

“Hmm,” Tendo said, nodding. He turned to the other two. “Let’s go.”

“Aww!” Tatsuro and Shotaro complained, but allowed Tendo to push them down the hall. I said a silent thank you to him and vowed to put in a good word for him with Yasuka, then turned back to the door. It seemed that the show was over; Sexy Guy was dressed again, and standing in front of the teacher, massaging his butt slowly. I wanted to be doing it for him.

“I don’t ever want to have to do this again, Kazuki,” the teacher was saying. Ooo, his name was Kazuki – and mine was Kazuma! There’s the proof, I decided. We were destined for each other.

“I don’t want that, either,” Kazuki answered, and although his voice was still thick from trying to hold back tears, it matched the rest of him for sexiness. It was the kind of voice you could melt to.

“You may go now. I’ll see you later.”

I moved hastily away from the door, but not too far. I didn’t want him to miss me, so I leaned back against the lockers and waited. He came out and noticed me right away, looking startled (obviously stunned by my beauty. Or maybe just surprised that someone was outside the door.) I sucked in my breath; he was even more gorgeous up close.

He gave me a wry smile and rubbed his butt again. “If you were waiting for the teacher, she’s free now.”

“Well, actually, I was waiting for you,” I told him. “I’m sorry you got punished.”

He laughed ruefully. “Heard it all, did you?” He put a hand against the locker by me and cocked his head. “Or did you watch, too?”

I blushed a little. “Yeah, I did,” I admitted, glancing up from under my lashes. “Are you mad at me?”

He regarded me thoughtfully. “Kind of embarrassed, but not mad. I probably would have done the same thing.” He winked. “Did it give you a thrill?”

I giggled, hoping the blush didn’t get worse. “I’m not telling!” I said, then bit my lip. “It’s weird that a teacher would spank a student over her lap, though.”

“Not if that teacher is also your mother.” He grinned. “Hey, my name’s Kazuki. I think I know you, but I’m not sure – have we met before?”

“No, I’d remember that, but you look familiar to me, too.”

He smiled modestly. “Well, I’m an actor and singer. Maybe you’ve seen some of my work.”

I gasped, suddenly realizing. “_Kato_ Kazuki!”

“That’s me! And you are …?”

“Kazuma – I don’t use a family name in my career, but I’ve done some acting, too, and I have my own band, Mannequin –“

“THAT’S where I’ve seen you!” he exclaimed. “I saw your band in a club downtown, you’re really good.”

“Thank you,” I said happily. “You are, too.”

He chuckled, looking me over. “I almost didn’t recognize you without the Lolita dress.”

“They won’t let me wear it here,” I complained, sticking out my lower lip for emphasis.

He leaned down by my ear. “You’re just as beautiful without it,” he whispered, and my entire year was made.

He glanced at the hall clock. “Looks like there’s still some lunch hour left. Would you like to eat with me?”

I smiled. “I would love to.”

Kazuki offered me his arm and you’d better believe I took it.

I never did go to wash off my make-up.

 

Kazuma

--

End of Part 6

(2008)

No characters here are mine.

This fic is not to be re-posted.

Chapter Text

Sakura Court – Part 7

By Haruka (haruka@ymail.com)

--

Parents gossip amongst themselves, just like kids. Talk is especially common here on Sakura Court where we all know each other. It’s not always a planned get-together; sometimes, like today, it just happens. I went out to put something in the mailbox just as Jabi was doing her meditation stretches in her front yard and Naoya was getting back from wherever he had been in his van.

“Hello, Miki-san,” he greeted me with a friendly smile. I like Naoya very much. He’s so young, but willingly took on the responsibility of his six siblings and manages the career of their very successful band as well. Plus, he’s just plain nice, funny, and easy to get along with.

“Hi Naoya-kun,” I said. “Busy day today?”

“So far,” he laughed. “Got the gang to school, stopped by Avex to go over some contracts, did an interview, and now I’ve got housework to do until noon when I pick the kids up and we all go to rehearsal.” He made an exaggerated gesture of brushing sweat off his forehead. “How about you? Not going to SCRTC today?”

SCRTC (pronounced ‘scratch’) is the sporting goods company of which I am director. It’s also the front for our Gekiranger activity. “I’ll be heading over there shortly; I had paperwork to finish up, so I took care of it here.” We both looked over at Jabi, admiring her slow, graceful movements. “She’s beautiful, isn’t she?” I remarked. “I wonder if she could teach that to me so I could incorporate it into the Gekiranger training.”

“I don’t know, I think it’s something particular to being a Makai Priestess,” Naoya said. Watching Jabi, I had to admit he was probably right. The concentration she had achieved as she effortlessly shifted precariously-balanced positions without a single wobble seemed all part of a magical dance no one could imitate.

“I can understand why she’d need meditation exercises today,” Naoya confided. “Rei got a ride to school with us and on the way there he admitted that both he and Yasuka had been spanked this morning.”

“Hello there!” came a greeting from the direction of the Imagin house, and we looked over to see Deneb running toward us. I tried not to smile at the lumbering manner in which he ran in his natural form. He was carrying a basket over one arm, and I could already guess what was in it.

“How are you today, Deneb-san?” I asked when he reached us.

“Very well, thank you, Miki-san!” He pulled a huge lollipop out of the basket and handed it to me. “I made a new batch of candy and thought you all might like some!”

“Thank you!” I told him sincerely. It was no secret that I love to eat, and Deneb Candy was always wonderful. Naoya thanked him as he received his own lollipop.

“What’s new in the Imagin household, Deneb?” Naoya asked while tasting the irresistibly-coloured treat.

“Oh, things are pretty much the same with us,” he commented cheerfully.

“I saw Deneb Candy over here,” interrupted Jabi, abandoning her meditations to join us with an impish smile. The tall Imagin happily handed over another lollipop.

“You looked beautiful, Jabi-san,” Naoya remarked. “I heard you had a tough morning.”

She gave a long-suffering sigh. “It WAS a bad start to the day, and felt more like it started yesterday, since we didn’t get to sleep until the wee hours.”

“Oh my, what happened?” Deneb asked worriedly.

“Kouga and I had to spank two of our boys this morning,” she explained, shaking her head. “First we found out that Rei’s been lying to us about going out to hunt Horrors alone, and then Yasuka breezed in at three a.m..”

“Yeah, Rei told us on the way to school this morning,” Naoya said sympathetically. “If it makes you feel any better, I had to break up another knock-down, drag-out between Shinjiro and Chiaki this morning. I let them off with only one swat this time, but told them they’d be getting it for real if it happens again.” He smiled ruefully. “And knowing them, it probably will.”

“I feel lucky,” I admitted. “The Gekirangers don’t tend to fight like that, and they don’t lie and sneak around, either.”

“That you know of,” Jabi said dryly.

I laughed. “Well, I suppose there IS that, but honestly, it would be hard for them to hide it, with so many adults in and out of the place.” Although Master Shafu and I are the primary guardians and trainers for the kids, the rest of the Seven Kensei are always available and give specialized training in between their own daily business elsewhere.

“So Rio and Mele are getting along with the other kids?” Naoya queried. “Their addition is fairly recent, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is,” I admitted. “And I won’t say that things there are perfect, but there haven’t been any physical fights outside of training.” I chuckled. “So far, my biggest problem there has been trying to keep Mele out of Rio’s bedroom at night!”

“I’d be happy just to keep Yasuka IN his bedroom at night.” Jabi sighed.

“I guess you’re the really lucky one, Deneb.” Naoya turned to him with a smile. “You’ve only got one kid to deal with.”

“But that kid is Ryuutaros,” Jabi pointed out. “He’s a handful all on his own, I would imagine.” She paused, “Um, no pun intended.”

Deneb laughed and patted her shoulder. “None taken.” He became quiet and thoughtful then and finally said, “Ryuutaros CAN be a problem sometimes, but his brothers are always on top of it rather quickly when he is. However, he isn’t the only child Sieg and I have to worry about. You’re forgetting Yuuto and Ryotaro.”

The three of us exchanged a surprised look. “But weren’t the two of them the Kamen Riders?” I asked. “They seem like the Gekirangers to me; responsible and hardworking.”

“Oh, they are!” Deneb nodded emphatically. “As you know, Yuuto and I fought alongside each other while Ryotaro and his Imagin were doing the same, and our lines often crossed so that we all fought together. However, now that all the battles are over and we’ve been settling into normal life, Yuuto has had to adjust to being a regular boy again. Ryotaro hadn’t been Den-O for as long as Yuuto was Zeronos, so it’s not as difficult an adjustment for him.”

“What problems has Yuuto had?” Jabi asked.

“He gets restless and anxious, like he still feels he should be out there fighting something.” Deneb sighed. “I’m content with my candy-making, cooking, and taking care of everyone, but I worry that he may get bored with nothing to do.” He smiled a little. “There is Ryotaro, though, and he’s been wonderful in helping Yuuto adjust. They’re spending more and more time together lately.”

Once more, the rest of us shared a significant glance. “You might want to keep an eye on that, Deneb,” I suggested. “Just in case.”

“You think it could be a problem?” He sounded completely clueless, poor man. And since we didn’t really have any grounds to worry him further at the moment, it seemed best to let it go.

“In any case, it does seem like your issues with children in your home are minimal right now, and that’s a good thing,” Jabi told him.

“With the children, yes,” Deneb sighed ruefully. “Now if I could just stop Momotaros and Kametaros from trying to kill each other every day, all would be well.”

There is no one named ‘Kametaros’ in Deneb’s house – he was referring to Urataros, who is a turtle Imagin, and was effectively calling him ‘Turtle-taros’. He also often calls Kintaros ‘Kumataros’ as in ‘Bear-taros.’ I suppose the name mix-ups are fair play in turnabout as the Taros brothers constantly refer to Deneb as ‘Odebu.’

Naoya laughed. “Well, if you figure out how to do that, let ME know. Maybe I can use the same technique on Shinjiro and Chiaki!”

Jabi glanced past us and said, “Deneb, isn’t that Ryuutaros climbing out a window of your house?”

We all looked that way and saw the purple dragon Imagin lower himself to the ground, the proceed to skip off happily until he saw us all staring at him. “Uh ohhh ….”

“Ryuutaros, you’re supposed to be doing those vocabulary assignments I gave you,” Deneb said. “Did you finish them?”

The one thing I’ve always found amazing about the Imagin in their natural forms is how their body language and personalities more than make up for their lack of facial expressions. The child before us now was exhibiting all the classic signs of guilt without being able to show it on his face; shuffling feet, avoiding our eyes by ducking his head, a cajoling voice, “ I WAS doing them, Odebu, but then I remembered I had something very important to do.”

“And what was that?”

“I have to go to the park and dance!” he said happily and did a quick spin. “It’s fun, great exercise, and a lot of people show up to watch!”

“I’m sure they will, if you go looking like that,” Jabi remarked, motioning toward him. He laughed, spreading his arms and turning in a circle.

“What’s wrong with this? Can’t hear you!” He chuckled again. “Just kidding; I’ll change to human form before I leave the neighborhood.” Even though the Imagin had been seen in natural form outside before, thanks to their stint as policemen, sometimes it was just easier to blend in.

“You’ll finish your lessons before leaving the neighborhood, too.” Deneb turned him around and gave him a gentle push toward their house.

“Awww, Odebu ….” Ryuutaros whined, but his shoulders slumped like he knew he had lost. At the last moment he swiped a lollipop from Deneb’s basket and ran back home with it.

We laughed. “He’s an appealing kid, for all that Momo calls him a brat,” I remarked.

“That’s mostly a term of affection … I think,” Deneb said, then admitted, “It can be hard to remain firm with him sometimes, but Sieg and I want him to be educated. He can’t go to regular school, so I must persevere.” He sighed. “I think the problem in keeping him focused is that he has no one to study with. He’s easily distracted.”

“I understand that,” I said with a sigh. “Jan’s having a terrible time in school himself. He wants to be with the other kids but it’s becoming obvious that he can’t keep up. How can he when he was only a child the last time he had any formal lessons?” I didn’t say that Jan might not be the only one having trouble; I had suspicions about Mele, as well. She hadn’t been in any kind of classroom for years between her death and later revival by Rio. She had to be in need of supplemental lessons, if not starting right from scratch. But she had insisted on being in Rio’s class, and I doubted she would consider leaving it now.

“Jabi!” called out Kouga from their front door. He headed toward us and nodded a greeting before turning to his wife. “I just had a disturbing phone call.”

She groaned and put her head in her hands. “Please, not the Principal. If Yasuka’s been suspended again, I’ll kill him.”

“It wasn’t the Principal,” Kouga said grimly. “It was my brother. Hiroki’s disappeared.”

Jabi looked up, fearful, the others and I exchanged a worried glance. I squeezed Jabi’s shoulder encouragingly.

“We’ll be happy to help any way we can,” I said firmly, and Naoya and Deneb nodded. The Saejimas smiled gratefully.

That’s the other thing besides gossip that’s commonplace on Sakura Court; neighbors who are there for each other.

 

Miki

--

End of Part 7

(2008)

No characters here are mine. Celebrities here are for fictional purposes only and none of the events within ever happened.

This fic is not to be re-posted.

Chapter Text

Sakura Court – Part 8

By Haruka (haruka@ymail.com)

--

“Hi Rei!”

“Hey girls!” I greeted the employees behind the counter of my favorite doughnut shop. I go there to refuel when I’m closing Gates, but today I was there for lunch break from school. Students aren’t technically supposed to leave campus during lunch hour, but everyone does it.

Mitsu watched in admiration as I placed my order and the girls all flirted with me. When we got to a table, he shook his head. “How do you do it, man? These girls see a zillion people all day long, but for you, they all gather around and compete for your attention!”

I grinned at him. “When I come here on days I’m closing Gates, I look a lot more impressive in all my leather rather than this dorky uniform.”

“I don’t think it’s just that. It’s part of your magic that makes everyone love you, I guess.” Mitsu slurped some of the soup he’d ordered while I dug into my sandwich. “Hey,” he said, “did you hear about Kazuma getting sent to the Principal’s office?”

“About his hair and make-up, you mean? Yeah, what else is new?” I chuckled. “I’m not sure how he’s managed to avoid getting paddled for it yet, but he’s careful that way.”

“Or lucky. If it were me, I’d have been nailed as soon as I got in the door.”

I cocked my head and studied him, then shook my head. “Nope, can’t see you in make-up.”

“And you WON’T, either!” He laughed, taking a swipe at my head. “So stop trying to picture it!”

My cell phone rang and I chewed quickly and swallowed before answering. “Hello?”

“Rei,” it was my father, “your Uncle Kimeru just called – Hiroki is missing.”

“What?!” I gasped. “Oh no! When was he last seen?”

“Last night, but he never came home from his photo session.”

That was bad. My Uncle Kimeru was a famous Jpop idol, and his sons, Yuuta and Hiroki, were both beautiful, talented actors/singers/dancers. They could easily be prey to kidnappers for either their mother’s position in the entertainment world or their own. I thought of my sweet, goofy cousin in the hands of some freak and shuddered.

“I’ll keep my eye out, Tousan, and if he gets in touch with me, I’ll bring him to our house.”

“What happened?” Mitsu asked worriedly.

“Hiroki’s gone,” I answered, frowning at my sandwich. My appetite had disappeared.

Mitsu sighed. “That’s awful. He wasn’t … kidnapped, was he?”

“Tousan didn’t mention ransom demand, so we can’t say that yet. He’s been gone since last night, though.”

“Well,” Mitsu said thoughtfully, “if he wasn’t kidnapped, then he left on his own, right?”

“Yes, but he and my uncle and Yuuta have always had a good relationship,” I told him. “I mean, he and Yuuta fight like normal siblings, but they love each other.”

Mitsu glanced over at me significantly. “Something might have happened at home that you don’t know about yet.”

He was right, of course, but I really hoped that wasn’t the case. On the other hand, I sure didn’t want to hope Hiroki had been kidnapped, either.

The shop had gotten busier while we’d been there, but I hadn’t taken any notice of it until I heard a burst of raucous laughter from up near the counter. We looked over to see three guys a little older than ourselves, dressed in torn, frayed jeans and matching leather jackets with some kind of gang name on the back.

“Hey, baby, I’ll have that doughnut there. No wait, the one next to it. How many calories is in that, huh?”

“Hey, I’m buying this, how much is it?”

“How much is this pastry puff thing here?”

“What’s in that doughnut there with the sprinkles?”

“I gave you a twenty, not a ten! You trying to rip me off?!”

I took a last sip of my coffee and stood up. “Rei, where are you going?” Mitsu asked.

“Where do you think?” I grinned at him and headed for the counter.

“Always the hero.” I heard him chuckle behind me.

What the punks were doing was such a predictable tactic and I had seen it before. Several teenagers crowd a counter, start talking over each other and getting the servers confused, then pull a fast one with the payment, expecting the server to cough up extra change just to get rid of them. Guys like these make all teenagers look bad. I sidled up to the counter and smiled at them. “Hey there, guys, I think if you all slow down and speak one at a time, you’d stand a better chance of getting answers.”

The servers looked at me gratefully, as did the people in line behind the gang members, but they also backed away a little as the three of them turned to face me, sneering.

“Mind your own business if you don’t want to get hurt,” said the one who was pulling the cash scam. He assumed he could ignore me after his threat and turned back to the cashier. “Look, bitch, give me the rest of my money NOW!”

Then he didn’t care so much about money anymore, because my fist had connected with his foul mouth.

The girls screamed and jumped back and the waiting customers scattered whle Foulmouth’s two friends tried to jump me. Silly gang members. I fought Horrors on a nightly basis – taking out a couple of punks like these wouldn’t break me a sweat. I grabbed the first one that reached me, spun him around and cracked his head into the skull of his charging friend, taking them both out at once. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the glint of a knife as the one I’d punched came back for more. I caught his wrist and squeezed so he’d drop the weapon, then jerked him forward, and kneed him in the stomach three times in succession, finishing with another punch. That left all three of them on the floor, and the customers clapped and cheered.

“Thank you, Rei!” the servers were all smiling gratefully. One of them handed over a box of free doughnuts, for which I warmly thanked her.

“The police are here,” Mitsu pointed out, coming up behind me. “We’ll be late for school if we stay.”

“You can go through here.” One of the girls opened the rear door. “Everyone here saw what happened and the security cameras caught it all, too. We’ll tell the police it was all their fault.”

Knowing that the other guy pulling a knife would seal his fate, anyway, I took them up on their offer. I quickly scribbled my number on a paper bag. “If they have any questions, they can reach me here.”

“Thanks again!” the girls all waved while Mitsu and I escaped through the back of the store.

“One thing’s for sure, Rei,” Mitsu said as he accepted the doughnut I offered him. “Life is never boring with you around!”

“Maybe, but I’d like for it to be boring enough that my cousin is found safely,” I replied, refocusing back on my original concerns as I chewed my own doughnut and we headed back to school.

 

Rei

--

End of Part 8

(2008)

No characters here are mine. Celebrities here are for fictional purposes only and none of the events within ever happened.

This fic is not to be re-posted.

Chapter Text

Sakura Court – Part 9

By Haruka (haruka@ymail.com)

--

“Squirk?”

“Ssh,” I tried to keep the guinea pig calm in its carrier. So far, he’d been doing pretty well, considering he’d been carried all throughout Tokyo.

I had found my way to a park that I knew wasn’t far from Sakura Court. Settling onto a bench, I yawned and rubbed my eyes. I hadn’t slept much the previous night, but that was to be expected when you were running away from home and had been out on the streets for almost 24 hours. I wasn’t sure when I’d made the decision to head for my uncle’s house or even if it had been a conscious decision. All I knew was that I had gone too far to turn back now.

I became aware of music nearby, and the cheering of a crowd. I picked up my pig-porter and curiously followed the sound.

Coming around the corner, I saw a crowd surrounding a street dancer. When I got closer, I saw that he seemed to be a kid around my age and he was having the time of his life dancing for the admiring crowd. From the looks of things, he was making a fair bit of money, too.

Watching the kid with the purple streaks in his hair and vivid purple eyes brought back memories. My earlier performing days had been as a street dancer in a three-man troupe called Brights. I went on to a successful acting and singing career. Not that dancing wasn’t part of that, too – I performed in musicals a lot. Ironically, my brother, mother, and I had all played the same role in a series of musicals in successive years. Thinking about my family gave me a twinge of guilt. They had to be worried sick about me.

The boy had finished dancing for the moment and people were tossing coins at his feet. I didn’t have much cash on me, but I contributed as well. From one street dancer to another.

The crowd had broken up and the boy was gathering the money. He happened to glance up at me and a wide smile broke over his face. “Hey, what have you got in the carrier?” he asked brightly, bouncing over in excitement.

I’ll admit, my ego took a bit of a blow from that – I’d thought the delighted look on his face was from recognizing me. Shame on me.

“It’s a guinea pig,” I said, holding the carrier up a little so he could see the animal’s face through the mesh on the front. If anything, the boy’s expression became even more enchanted.

“Awww, he’s so cute! Can I hold him?”

“Um, I don’t think so,” I gave him an apologetic look. “He’s low to the ground, but he’s pretty fast. I can’t take a chance he might get away while we’re outdoors.”

That seemed to satisfy him and he looked at me curiously. “Is he going to the vet? Is that why you’re carrying him around?”

“No, I’m … moving. So I’m bringing him to our new home.” I frowned slightly. “I hope.”

Now the purple eyes were confused. “You don’t sound sure.”

Looking at his earnest face and factoring in his reactions, this kid was actually much younger than I was. That made it easier to confide in him. “I ran away from home,” I admitted. “I’m heading to my Uncle Kouga and Aunt Jabi’s house. I think they’ll let me stay there a while.”

“I know them! They live on my street!” he said, then tipped his hat. “I’m Ryuutaros, but you can call me Ryuuta.”

I smiled. “I’m Aiba Hiroki,” I said, bowing. “It’s nice to meet you, Ryuuta; you’re a great dancer!”

“Thanks!” His face lit up. “Hey, you’re a dancer, too! And an actor, right? I saw you on tv with Nisshi and Shinjiro!”

I laughed, remembering the fun I’d had filming that wild series with those AAA members. We’d remained friends, and I already knew that they lived on Sakura Court, which was another reason I wanted to go there. “That was a fun show,” I said. “I’m looking forward to seeing them again.”

“I’m heading back now,” Ryuuta told me as he pulled the drawstring tight on the cloth coin bag he carried. “I’ll walk you there if you like.”

“Sure,” I said, and headed for the sidewalk. He caught my arm.

“Not that way – there’s a shortcut!” He grinned.

He was right. We cut across the park and through the woods that bordered part of it. There was a well-worn path, and although it went on for a while, the scenery was definitely prettier than looking at traffic. When we emerged into the daylight again, we were passing between two houses. I saw my uncle’s place across the street.

“That IS a good shortcut!” I said to Ryuuta.

“That’s my house over there.” He pointed. “We’re the newest ones in the neighbourhood, but there are still some empty houses so maybe someone newer than us will come along.” He glanced at me. “So what’s going to happen when you get to your uncle’s? Won’t he call your parents?”

“My mother,” I corrected, then sighed. “And yeah, I know he will, but I’m hoping to have the rest of the family behind me by the time he gets here.”

“If I were you, I’d rather have them in FRONT of me, between me and my mother.” Ryuuta winked, then waved and headed off toward his house. “Good luck, nice meeting you!”

As he left, I saw him physically change from the boy I’d been talking to into a dragon-like creature that was all-over purple leather and armour. If my cousins hadn’t already told me about the ‘Imagin’ that lived in their neighbourhood, I might have screamed.

Not that I didn’t still feel like screaming, but from nerves instead. I wasn’t sure what kind of reception I’d get at my Uncle’s, but I couldn’t wait any longer to find out; both the guinea pig and I were hungry. I headed across the street and knocked on the door.

Aunt Jabi opened the door, and I saw both shock and relief on her face at once when she saw me. “Hiroki! Thank goodness you’re all right!” She pulled me into a tight hug, then yelled over her shoulder. “Kouga! Hiroki’s here!”

“What?!” My uncle came down the stairs. “Boy, do you have any idea how worried your mother is about you?!”

“Let me close the door before we start yelling at him,” Aunt Jabi suggested, and shut the door behind me. “What’s that you’ve got?” she asked suddenly, noticing the carrier.

“My guinea pig!” I said, holding it up, beaming. “His name is Squirkers. Isn’t he cute?”

They both looked inside the carrier dubiously. “What are you doing carrying it around with you?” Uncle Kouga asked. “And you still haven’t explained your having taken off and frightening everybody.”

“Well, they’re sort of tied in together,” I admitted.

Aunt Jabi put an arm around me and steered me toward the kitchen. “Let’s get you something to eat and you can tell us about it.”

“Can I have some celery or a piece of apple for Squirkers? He’s hungry, too.”

So a few minutes later, we were all snacking in the kitchen. Squirkers was crunching happily on his celery, but he was still in his carrier. My Aunt and Uncle wouldn’t let me set him free from it yet.

“All right, now what’s going on?” Uncle Kouga asked, looking at me pointedly. “You’ve caused everyone a lot of worry.”

I lowered my head. “I know, and I’m sorry. But Kaasan wouldn’t let me keep Squirkers and I couldn’t let him be taken to a shelter.”

He frowned. “Kimeru didn’t mention anything about a guinea pig when I talked to him about your disappearance. We weren’t sure that you hadn’t been kidnapped!”

I looked up quickly, horrified. “Really?! I’m so sorry! I left straight from my photo session – it was held at a farm, where they had me riding horses and feeding squirrels and playing with a bunch of guinea pigs.” I smiled down at the carrier. “The guinea pigs didn’t belong to the farmer, they were brought in for ‘props.’ They were going to the animal shelter afterwards, and I couldn’t stand the thought of that. I couldn’t save all of them, but I could save this one, the one I got to hold for the pictures.” I sighed. “I smuggled him out when I left, but I couldn’t take him home. Kaasan had already told Yuuta and I that we couldn’t have any pets.”

“That’s because you three are still in an apartment,” Aunt Jabi said. “And you’re all busy with your careers. There are times when you and Yuuta and your mother are all out of town at the same time concert touring and doing musicals.”

“Yes, but I have friends who might look after him, or I could board him at the vet’s.”

“Don’t forget about the apartment, Hiroki,” Uncle Kouga pointed out.

“But we could have a house,” I insisted. “A boy just told me there are still houses in THIS neighborhood.”

“Yes, but I don’t think your mother wants to live all the way across town –“

“Are you kidding?” I exclaimed. “This place is closer to my agency and Yuuta’s, and to Kaasan’s record company, too. Our apartment was Tousan’s choice, and when he left, we just ended up staying there.” I frowned a little. I don’t like talking about my father.

Aunt Jabi rubbed my back kindly and looked at my uncle. “It’s not such a crazy idea, Kouga. You’ve wanted your brother to move here for a long time, and you said yourself he’s just been putting it off.”

Uncle Kouga nodded slowly. “You’re right. It’s been a year since his husband left, and he’s been knocking himself out with work ever since. If he came here, work would still be close enough, but family would be here, too.”

“And I could keep Squirkers!” I chimed in happily.

“Squirk?” came the sound from the carrier.

“It’s time to call my brother.” Uncle Kouga went to the phone and dialed. I waited nervously. This wasn’t going to be fun.

“Hey, Kime, it’s Kouga,” he said into the receiver. “You can relax about Hiroki, he showed up on our doorstep.”

I could hear my mother’s exclamation of relief across the room. I listened while my uncle gave him a rundown of how I’d come to be there with Squirkers, then he proposed the idea of our moving. At first, it sounded like Kaasan was making excuses.

“Kimeru, listen,” Uncle Kouga finally interrupted. “You have to come out here to get your son anyway, we can talk about it more then, all right? … Sure, I’ll see you then … Yes, he’s right here.” He held out the phone to me. “Your mother wants to speak to you.”

I’ll BET he does, I thought with an inward groan, but I went over to the phone. “Hi Kaasan.”

“Don’t you ‘hi Kaasan ME, young man!” my mother declared. “How dare you just run off like that and scare everybody! I’ve got the police out looking for you, Hiroki!”

“I’m sorry,” I murmured, feeling my face heat up. Right then I was really glad most of Tokyo was between the two of us. “I didn’t mean to scare everyone, I just wanted to keep Squirkers.”

“You could have at least done me the courtesy of ASKING me about him,” Kaasan said, then sighed heavily. “Are you all right?” he asked in a softer tone.

“Yes,” I answered, then added, “I’m sorry,” once more. I really did mean it, and maybe if I said it often enough, he wouldn’t annihilate me once he got hold of me.

“I’m sure you are, but we’ll talk about it when I get there. Stay PUT, understand?”

I swallowed and nodded, although he couldn’t see it. Uncle Kouga took the phone back and Aunt Jabi began steering me toward the bath.

“Do you think we’ll be able to move here?” I asked her.

“Your uncle and I will do our best to convince your mother,” she said, and smiled at me. “We and your cousins would be thrilled if you did.”

I smiled back, but inside, I was a bundle of nerves. I hoped my older brother would be able to calm my mother down somewhat before they arrived.

 

Hiroki

--

End of Part 9

(2008)

No characters here are mine. Celebrities here are for fictional purposes only and none of the events within ever happened.

This fic is not to be re-posted.

Chapter Text

Sakura Court – Part 10

By Haruka (haruka@ymail.com)

--

“Blah blah blah and I can’t believe that blah blah blah and I don’t NEED this right now blah blah –!“

That’s all I was hearing as I stared out the passenger-side window of our car. My mother and I were on our way to murder – uh, pick up – my little brother, Hiroki. Kaasan was pretty incensed that my fifteen-year-old sibling had taken off without warning, prompting police involvement and a lot of panicking. He had no problem yelling at his only other available son about it all the way there.

“He’s an actor, for crying out loud! How does he expect to keep his appointments when he runs away? And all this over some RODENT?!”

“He WAS at work before he did this. That’s where he met the ‘rodent,’” I pointed out, earning a dirty look from my mother.

“I’m aware of that, Yuuta, thank you,” he snapped, then shook his head. “I’m supposed to be getting ready for my tour, I can’t deal with this right now.”

My mother’s ability to deal with anything personal had slowly been slipping away ever since my father left us. Hiroki and I considered our acting and music careers to be a blessing in more ways than one; they kept us busy and often, away from home. Kaasan’s own music career was flourishing as well, but the public didn’t see how he frequently broke down at home. He tried to be a good mother, and I knew he loved us, but I was starting to suspect that he wished we’d hurry and grow up so he could focus on his own life.

It wasn’t a very nice way to be living for any of us. I’m ashamed to admit that Hiroki and I were a little relieved that Kaasan would be leaving on that three-month tour soon.

I said very little for the rest of the trip and eventually Kaasan quit ranting, too. He was maintaining a tight-lipped silence when we pulled into my uncle’s driveway.

Aunt Jabi greeted us warmly at the door, hugging us both. “Yuuta, you’re so tall and beautiful!” she exclaimed. “You and Hiroki both sprouted up like crazy since we last saw you!”

We heard that a lot, especially from people who knew who our mother was. I guess it’s amusing when someone who is just under 5/4" ends up with one son who is 5’10” and another just over 5'11”.

But then, our father was tall … best not to think about him, though.

“Kimeru,” Uncle Kouga came in and hugged his brother, then me.

“It’s good to see you both,” Kaasan said, then sighed, “I’m just sorry about the circumstances and that Hiroki has involved you in this.”

“It’s all right, we’re glad he felt he could come here,” Aunt Jabi said. “Come in and sit down.” She went to the foot of the stairs. “Hiroki!” she called up. “Your mother and Yuuta are here!”

We went into the living room and Hiroki joined us a couple of minutes later, looking uneasy. “Hi Kaasan,” he said quietly.

Our mother went over and hugged him, then shook him. “How could you do this to me, Hiroki?! Didn’t you realize I would think the worst? You’re a public figure – anything could have happened to you!”

“I know, I’m sorry,” he said in a subdued voice. “I just wanted to keep Squirkers so badly and I panicked.”

Kaasan looked exasperated. “You’re old enough to realize that we can’t get everything we want, and you know pets aren’t allowed in our apartment.”

“But we could move HERE!” my brother said hopefully. “There are houses available!”

“Hiroki, stop it! I’m about to leave in less than a week to go on tour for three months! I can’t be taking on a major move right now and that’s final. Now go get that guinea pig; we’ll have to take it to the animal shelter on our way home.”

Hiroki’s mouth fell open. “No!” he protested. “They’ll end up putting him to sleep there, I won’t do it!”

Kaasan slapped my brother across the face. We all froze in shock, including the two of them. Finally, Hiroki’s face crumpled and he started to run from the room but I caught him and pulled him against me. He buried his face in my shoulder and I held him.

“Hiroki –“ Kaasan began, then put a hand over his mouth like he was going to cry, too.

“Kime, come with me,” Uncle Kouga took him gently by the shoulders and steered him out of the room. I stroked Hiroki’s hair softly and crooned to him, trying to be strong and supportive while feeling sick inside.

“Come on, let’s sit down.” I brought Hiroki to the sofa and sat with him. “You okay?”

He wiped his eyes and nodded. “Kaasan never slapped us before,” he said softly. “Was I so wrong, Yuuta? Wanting to save Squirker’s life?”

“No, but Kaasan’s right about the apartment and the tour. There just isn’t time to buy a place and move in the week he’ll be here – he’s got rehearsals and you and I are working, too.”

“Then Squirkers is doomed.” Hiroki sighed miserably.

Aunt Jabi rubbed his head affectionately. “Don’t worry, honey. We’ll find a way to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“Jabi?” Uncle Kouga poked his head into in the room. “Could you come here, please?”

We watched her go and I gave my brother’s shoulder a squeeze. “You can trust Aunt Jabi and Uncle Kouga.”

He nodded and glanced nervously toward the doorway again.

It took several minutes before the adults came back. The first thing that Kaasan did was to come over and hug Hiroki tightly.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’ve been so stressed lately, but I took it out on you.”

“I’m sorry, too, for defying you and running away,” Hiroki said. “I just can’t stand to think that Squirkers will be killed.”

“Don’t worry,” Uncle Kouga told him. “We’ve come up with a solution.”

“Really?” He looked around at all three of them hopefully.

Kaasan faced us both seriously. “How would you two feel about moving in with your Aunt and Uncle while I’m on tour?”

We exchanged a look, then turned back to the adults. “We’d be here for three months?” I asked.

Aunt Jabi nodded. “And after that, your mother can see about moving you all into your own home in the neighbourhood.”

“But … Squirkers?” Hiroki asked worriedly.

“You can keep him,” Uncle Kouga assured him. “But he’s your responsibility.”

A wide grin spread across my brother’s face. It was wonderful to see.

I was happy, too. As fun as being two teenagers on our own for three months might sound, I’d been worried about it. As the older brother, Hiroki would be in my care, and while he was (usually) pretty responsible, I wasn’t ready to be the head of a household. Besides, I loved my aunt, uncle, and cousins, and I’d be closer to work as well.

And my brother would have his guinea pig. As long as he kept it off of my bed, all would be well.

Yuuta

--

End of Part 10

(2009)

No characters here are mine. Celebrities here are for fictional purposes only and none of the events within ever happened.

This fic is not to be re-posted.

Chapter Text

Sakura Court – Part 11

By Haruka (haruka@ymail.com)

--

I actually like school. Not for the lessons – those I could do without. No, what I like about school is that it gives me an excuse to get out of my house, to a place where my other ‘family’ members either won’t or can’t go.

Except for Ryotaro. He DOES come here with me and I like it that way.

We were in Math, and Ryotaro was sitting beside me, with the window on my other side. He caught my eye and smiled at me. He has a great smile. Funny thing, he says the same about me.

Ryotaro and I used to be Kamen Riders with separate trains on which we travelled through time, fighting evil Imagin. The few good Imagin were our partners – I had Deneb, while Ryotaro had Momotaros, Urataros, Kintaros, Ryuutaros and sometimes Sieg. As you can tell, Ryotaro was an Imagin magnet.

Deneb and I were close then, although I snarked at him all the time about trying to feed me Shittake and making friends for me. Now that we weren’t fighting the bad guys anymore, Deneb had become even more of a ‘mommy’ to me than he was before, but I could deal with it better now. Why? Because a) He had others to mother as well, b) I had Ryotaro, and c) We could both come to school as a break from being (s)mothered by Deneb.

Our teacher started blabbering about some new formula and I was listening (more or less) when a note appeared on my desk. I glanced toward the teacher to make sure she wasn’t looking, then unfolded it as quietly as I could and read it.

‘Yuuto, did you want to go to the mall after school? Ryotaro.’

I probably could have just looked over at him, caught his eye, and nodded, but writing a note back would be more fun.

‘Ryotaro, yeah, that sounds cool. Hey, did you hear what happened at the doughnut shop with Rei? He’d have made a great Kamen Rider. Yuuto.’

I carefully slipped the note onto his desk when the teacher wasn’t looking. I made a few dutiful scribbles in my Math notebook until a new note was tossed on my desk.

‘Yuuto, Rei already is a Kamen Rider when he has his Silver Fang Zero armour on. Ryotaro.’

I chuckled. He was right. Rei really was a great Kamen Rider already. I wondered how he would have fared if he’d lived on Zeroliner and had Deneb trying to force Shittake down his throat all day. Although for all I knew, Rei LIKED Shittake.

Nah, no one in their right mind liked those awful things.

Over in the next aisle I saw Fukami Gou lean over to murmur to Rei. Now that I thought about it, Gou was almost a Kamen Rider, too. He had the mask in his GekiViolet guise, but no cycle. Maybe when you were a JyuKen user, you didn’t need it.

I heard a buzzing sound and saw Rei pull out his cell phone quickly, keeping it under the desk. He stopped the buzzing, then glanced up to make sure the teacher was still occupied. He read the text message he’d received and with the angle he was holding it at, I was able to see it, too:

‘Rei, can you tell Shuta that I have that manga I borrowed from him in my locker? I’ll give it to him after class.’

I couldn’t quite see the name at the end of the message, but obviously it was someone who knew that Rei sat near enough to Shuta to give it to him. Problem was, Shuta’s desk was empty.

I had seen him in class that morning, and from Rei’s frown as he glanced toward Shuta’s vacant seat, I knew he was remembering that, too. Then he gasped and covered his mouth. “Mitsu!” he hissed urgently to Shuta’s brother, but the teacher looked his way and he had to sit back. When the teacher started his class lecture again, Rei quickly scribbled out a note and tossed it into Mitsu’s lap. Mitsu picked it up and as he read it, I watched his eyes grow large with horrified realization.

“AUUGH!” he yelled out, startling everyone, “”Naoya’s gonna KILL me!”

Then he was out the door.

A moment passed when everyone just sat there stunned, then a hum of conversation started up.

“What on Earth just happened?” Ryotaro looked at me.

Rei heard him and turned toward us, his expression dismayed. “I rode in with Mitsu’s family this morning, and three times Naoya reminded them about being picked up at noon for a rehearsal!” He smacked himself in the forehead. “Both of us forgot about it, and I’m the one who asked him to come with me to the doughnut shop for lunch! If Naoya does kill him, I deserve half that punishment.”

“Perhaps I can indulge you, Rei,” the teacher none of us had noticed approaching said from beside my desk. “IF my class doesn’t get back to normal before the bell rings.”

“Sorry, Sensei,” Rei apologized, then called out loudly, “Hey everyone, quiet down!”

Amazingly, it had the desired effect. Our teacher looked around in surprise, then shrugged, deciding not to look a gift horse in the mouth. “All right, now where was I …?” He found his place and began talking again.

For the next half hour, we actually worked on Math. The teacher finished explaining the new unit and we were given questions from the text to work on. It didn’t take long to finish them and then I was left bored again. I was thinking about writing Ryotaro another note when I heard more buzzing. This time it was Ryotaro’s phone!

His face turned red with embarrassment as he fumbled to shut off the cell, apologizing repeatedly to the teacher and class since they were all staring at him. I shook my head and smiled to myself. Poor Ryotaro. Ever since I’d known him, he’d had the worst luck in the world. But that was part of his charm.

When things again settled down, Ryotaro must not have been able to resist curiosity – he peeked at his text message. I saw the worried look cross his face and that got ME curious. “What is it?” I whispered.

He looked over at me. “Ryuutaros,” he murmured back. “It seems that he’s bored. Deneb wants him to work on lessons and he doesn’t want to sit still for them.”

“It’s rough, I guess,” I said slowly. “Having to study all alone. It’s hard enough some days to do it here with everyone else.”

“That must be it,” Ryotaro agreed. “It’s not that Ryuutaros can’t sit still – he can draw pictures for hours on end and be happy. But for studying I think he’d do better with others.”

“And that’s impossible,” I remarked softly. It really WAS too bad, but Ryuutaros’ was a pretty unique situation.

At that moment, we all heard a sudden keening cry from the next classroom that started low and ended loudly, “AhhhhhhhhHHHHHHHHH, I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!”

Then through the window, we saw Kandou Jan running away, shucking his clothes as he tore across the soccer field. By the time he’d disappeared into the bordering woods, he was completely naked.

Once again we all sat in silence for a stunned moment, then Rei joked, “Looks like Mitsu started a trend; maybe we should check the hall for his clothes!”

Everyone laughed except the teacher, who tried to quiet them but finally gave up. As I closed my books, I saw Gou texting furiously on his own cell, no doubt asking his brother Retsu what had gone on in Jan’s class.

Yuuto

--

End of Part 11

(2009)

No characters here are mine. Celebrities here are for fictional purposes only and none of the events within ever happened.

This fic is not to be re-posted.

Chapter Text

Sakura Court – Part 12

By Haruka (haruka@ymail.com)

--

There was a time when I was the ruler of the RinJyuDen. I had countless number of Rinshi at my command, with my sights set on ruling the world.

Now I was picking up clothes that had been discarded by Kandou Jan as he ran off into the woods after having jumped out the classroom window. I suppose I could let someone else do it, but I felt the need to address this personally.

I picked up the last sock and dumped the entire load of clothes at the base of a tree, then looked up into it. "Jan, what you doing?"

"I'm not going back, Rio!" he stated firmly. “I can't understand half of what the teachers are talking about! The other kids all do, but I don't!"

“The other kids didn't spend a good chunk of their time being raised by tigers, pandas, and other animals in the woods. They've had an advantage where formal education is concerned."

“It makes me feel Dabu Dabu when I'm in class and everyone knows what's going on but me," Jan said dejectedly.

I felt a twinge of pity I had not expected to feel. Not just for Jan, but for another I knew who was having similar trouble.

I sighed and leaned back against the tree. "It's not just you, Jan. The truth is that Mele is having the same problem."

He spun around to look down at me so fast that by rights he should've fallen from the tree. But being the original Jungle Boy, he did not. "MELE is?! But she wasn't raised by animals!"

"No, but she comes from a time centuries before this one when education was very different," I told him. "Remember, I raised her from the dead – she's never been in a school like this before."

I watched his face as he processed that information. "How has she been able to do it but I haven't?"

"She hasn't been, that's the point. I help her, and we're in the same class, so she has that advantage, but it's really overwhelming and frustrating for her."

He put his hands behind his head and sighed. "It makes you feel Uja Uja, all right. But what can we do about it?"

That was the big question, wasn't it? What could be done? It wasn't fair for Mele or Jan to be denied an education, but I knew that Mele was falling behind, even with my help. There should be something more that could be done for kids their age without having to embarrass them with remedial classes. Especially as those may not even help in their case; they really needed to go back to basics.

Suddenly, I had an idea.

"Jan, you can't stay in that tree forever, so you may as well come down and get dressed," I told him. "Go home – Miki will understand."

He gave me a big, sad pout, but jumped down from the tree and began getting dressed.

"Are you going back to class?" he asked when he was done.

There was something I needed to do, but there wouldn't be enough time to do it until after school. Unless, of course, I cut class. I thought about it and decided not to. Mele would worry, and the person I needed to talk to wouldn't approve.

"Yeah, I'm going back," I answered. "but I won't forget about this problem, Jan. If I can, I'll do something to help."

I may as well have gone with him, because my idea was all I could think of that afternoon, anyway. When I was finally able to escape from school, I gave Mele a quick kiss on the cheek and told her I had to hurry home and would see her there later. Then I teleported back to Sakura Court.

I wasn't surprised when Deneb opened the door of the Imagin house; other than grocery shopping, I don't think he ever goes out.

"Rio?" He did a double take for good reason; I'd never gone to their house before. "What can I do for you?"

"I need to talk to you."

For the next several minutes, I told him about Mele and Jan, their origins, and the trouble they'd been having. Then I told him my idea.

"Oh my," he said afterwards. "Do you think it could work?"

"I guess the real question is whether YOU think it could work," I pointed out. "It would be all on you, Deneb."

"Yes,” he agreed with a sober nod. "Yes, it would be."

--

Mele came running out of our house as soon as she saw me coming down the street (with a huge lollypop. Apparently, no one leaves that house without Deneb candy. "Rio-sama! What's going on? What were you doing at the Imagin house?"

"I'll tell you, but I need for Jan to be there too."

"What?" She stared at me, but didn't argue as we went looking for Jan.

"NOW will you tell me what's going on?" Mele pleaded once we were seated in the living room. I was in the chair in the two of them sat on the sofa (well, Mele sat. Jan crouched like usual, slurping on the lollypop I’d relinquished to him.)

"It's about what happened with Jan today," I said, “and about the trouble you've been having in school, Mele."

She pouted — she doesn't like being reminded of any shortcomings, even those that aren't her fault. "What does that have to do with the Imagin?"

"Deneb teaches Ryuutaros at home because despite his looks, he's not at a high school level. He's in pretty much the same situation as the two of you."

Mele jumped up from the sofa. "Rio-sama," she began slowly, "you’re not saying what I think you're saying.…?"

I looked at her seriously. "What I'm saying is that Deneb is willing to tutor both of you at the same sessions as Ryuutaros. It will solve your problem and also Ryuutaros’ problem with inattention. Deneb thinks having others to study with will help him, and I think it will help YOU to not be the only ones in this situation."

"Okay!" Jan said happily and leapt off the couch with a whoop. “Yaaay, I don’t have to go back to that school!”

"But ME, with the two of THEM?" Mele wailed. I stood up and took her by the shoulders.

"Mele, if there was any way to keep you in my class with me I'd do it, but you're struggling and frustrated. Give this a chance for now, and when you're caught up, you can come back." I didn't add that I’d likely be out of school myself long before she could catch up. I really believed this was what was best for her, even if it meant we couldn’t be together all day.

She must have seen it in my eyes or maybe she was just doing what I told her, as usual, but she relented.

"All right, Rio-sama," she said resignedly. I hugged her and hoped she felt reassured, while Jan bounded around the room joyfully.

I just hoped that the combination of Jan and Ryuutaros wouldn't drive both Mele and Deneb insane by the end of their first session.

Rio

--

End of Part 12

(2009)

No characters here are mine. Celebrities here are for fictional purposes only and none of the events within ever happened.

This fic is not to be re-posted.

Chapter Text

Sakura Court – Part 13

By Haruka (haruka@ymail.com)

--

Ch-ch-ch-changes.

There've been a lot of them around here over the last couple of months, starting in my own household. My parents ended up having a … parting of the ways. Okay, a separation. My mother took Yasuka and Kazuma with her and moved away. I had to stay here to work as a Makai Knight, of course, but that's all right. I didn't want to leave, and although I miss my brothers, I'm not lonely. My cousins, Yuuta and Hiroki, are still here.

Poor Hiroki, the guinea pig he fought so hard to save died the same night he brought it home, and it broke his heart. It wasn't anything he had done – it was probably something about the conditions of the farm he'd taken it from. My dad felt so badly for him that he bought him a hamster. He’s crazy about it (so am I, it's a cute little thing.)

Mine isn't the only house on Sakura Court that had some changes. The Imagin, Yuuto and Ryotaro are all gone. They had to get on Denliner and head off to do battle in another time. In their place moved some guys from Johnny's Entertainment, one of the biggest talent agencies out there. Three cute fifteen-year-olds and an adult guardian who is also pretty handsome. That's not all, though – there’s something else about them that's kind of odd, I just haven't figured it out yet.

There's another new household, with only two people in it; a detective and his sixteen-year-old son. The detective is like my dad, frozen in his mid-twenties and looking really too young to have kids our age. He actually dresses like you’d think a detective would (no, not in a Sherlock Holmes duster or funny hat – oh wait, there IS a hat involved. Just scratch all that, okay?) And did I say that there was something unusual about the JE boys? Well, THIS guy’s kid is a real piece of work in the oddball department, but I kind of like him.

It's mostly business as usual in the Gekiranger house, except that Ken went off on his own a week or so ago. His friends are used to it — he's had his own agenda before. If they need him in battle, he'll be there.

No difference at all in Naoya’s family, which is a relief. There are only so many changes a guy can take in such a short span of time.

“Hi Rei!” Mitsu clapped me on the back. I’d been working on my bike, but now I wiped my hands on a rag.

“How’s it going, man?”

“Pretty good, I’m not in trouble today.” He grinned.

“Who is?”

“Shuuta,” he replied. “Misako made sugar cookies, and while they were cooling, Shuuta replaced them with a tray of Play Doh lookalikes. By the time, Misako figured it out, he’d polished off half the tray!”

I laughed. " I guess that's a compliment for Misako’s baking skills, at least!"

"I don't think she saw it that way," Mitsu replied wryly, then his face lit up. "Hey, it's a cat!"

"Mrrowr?" The sleek black cat wound itself around my legs. I bent down to scratch between its ears. "It belongs to Matchy-san's house, but it always comes over to see me when I'm outside." I picked it up and it began to purr.

Mitsu chuckled. "He sure likes you. Wow, amber eyes – I've never seen that on a cat before."

"I asked Matchy-san and he called it a Bombay," I answered, then gazed thoughtfully at the cat as it kneeded my chest with its small paws. "Come to think of it, I also asked for the cat’s name but he never answered."

"Hi guys!" Hiroki came out of the house. "Hey, kitty!" He rubbed the cat's fur and it licked his hand.

“Where are you off to, kiddo?" I asked my cousin.

"Anywhere Yuuta ISN’T," he answered, rolling his eyes. "He's bugging me to clean my room. Again."

I sighed. "I hope he's not still worried about all that." Ever since the separation, my older cousin had been overly-concerned with making sure he and Hiroki didn't add any stress to my father's life. I think he felt guilty that they were still here with us.

"Anyway, I'm going to go visit your brothers, Mitsu.” Hiroki jogged across the street.

"Get a cookie if there are any left!" Mitsu called after him. As soon as he disappeared into the Uratas’ house, Yuuta came out our door. "Rei, where did my brother sneak off to?"

"Hey, I'm no snitch." I grinned, then gave him an earnest look. "Listen, Yuuta, try to relax, okay? My father doesn't care if Hiroki leaves a shirt draped over the chair in his room."

His beautiful face tightened into a frown. "Uncle Kouga is doing us a favor keeping us here while he's going through his own problems —"

I held up a hand. "The problems are over now that my parents aren’t living in the same house. If I can handle this, you should be able to."

"But we're not –"

"Yuuta," I tried again, my tone serious, "my brothers are gone. I'm glad you and Hiroki are here — you've helped me get through it and kept me sane. Tousan is glad, too, to still have three boys in the house. Don't worry about anything, okay?"

His expression softened. "Okay, I'll try."

"Hi, Yuuta."

We all looked over as Gou waived from his front lawn, then walked over to us. He paused to scratch the cat’s ear, then looked at my cousin. "I was wondering — if you had the time – if you'd want to go for a walk with me?"

My head and Mitsu’s swiveled back toward Yuuta. I think the cat’s did, too. My cousin had been caught off-guard, and for a second he could only blink in response. Finally, the power of speech returned to him. "Uhh … I .…"

"He'd love to!" I piped up helpfully. The cat meowed its agreement.

"Really?" Gou asked hopefully.

I knew I'd put Yuuta on the spot, but Gou was a really nice, handsome guy, and my cousin hadn't dated since he'd been with us. He needed some fun. Maybe that same thought finally dawned on him as he studied Gou’s eager expression. "Yes," he said finally, "I'd like that."

Gou’s smile was my reward for meddling. He held out his arm like a gentleman, and Yuuta was impressed enough to take it. I think he even blushed a little.

Mitsu and I watched them go. "That should help keep him off poor Hiroki’s back," he remarked.

"And distract him from feeling like an intruder around here," I added.

"Mrrowr!" the cat agreed. It jumped out of my arms and trotted back across to its own house.

"Funny cat," Mitsu said, "you’d think he understood what was going on around him."

"Hmm," I replied thoughtfully, "you never know about animals. Look at Gou and the other Gekirangers with their spirit animals. They can have interesting magical properties.” I straddled my bike. "It's all tuned up now — want to go for a ride?"

"Yeah, let's swing by the mall and get some pizza!" He jumped on behind me and we rolled off, beeping goodbye to Gou and Yuuta as we passed them.

 

Rei

--

End of Part 13

(2011)

No characters here are mine. Celebrities here are for fictional purposes only and none of the events within ever happened.

This fic is not to be re-posted.

Chapter Text

Sakura Court – Part 14(Crossover)

By Haruka (haruka@ymail.com)

--

I padded down the hallway and into Ryosuke’s room, then hopped onto the bed.

"Mrrowr?"

He put down the manga he'd been reading and smiled at me. "Hi Yuri!"

I crawled up alongside him and transformed back to my human self. "Hi!"

"So you were cozying up to Rei, huh? Should we be jealous?"

I pouted. "That's not fair. You read my mind."

He poked me playfully on the nose. "And you shouldn't snuggle up to people who don't know your real identity."

He might have been right, but playing 'cat' was too much fun. Besides, it wasn't like Ryosuke didn't use his own power with abandon on people who didn't know he could peep into their heads.

I'm Chinen Yuri. I recently moved into this neighbourhood known as Sakura Court with my friends, Yamada Ryosuke and Nakayama Yuma. We're all in a Johnny's Entertainment band together called NYC (it stands for Nakayama, Yamada, and Chinen – our last names.) We also, as you may have guessed, have unique qualities other than our singing abilities.

Yuma's a little different from myself and Ryosuke – his powers come from being a vampire. A couple of months ago, he was almost dead from drowning when Kondo Masahiko (known as Matchy at Johnny's) found him. He was a vampire, too – a four-hundred-year-old one. He saved Yuma by making him into one, but it also means he'll be fifteen forever. For all Ryosuke and I know, being supernaturals may mean that we won't get any older, either. If that's the case, I just hope it doesn't mean that I won't get any taller.

Matchy's vampire powers enabled him to pick up on the differences in myself and Ryosuke at Johnny's, so he brought us along with he and Yuma when they moved into this area.

"So," Ryosuke sat up and looked at me eagerly, "since you were there, did Rei say anything interesting?"

"Why ask me when you could just read his mind?" I teased.

"Hey, I don't always want to find things out that way," he sniffed.

"Okay, okay." I didn't want to argue with him, mostly because I never win. I'm too much of a sucker for his smile and hamster cheeks (did I mention that Ryosuke looks exactly like a cute hamster? That's why I call him Hamsuke sometimes.) "Let's see – Rei was talking with Mitsuhiro about how Misako's cookies were eaten by Shuuta, then Hiroki ran away from Yuuta, who Rei thought was worrying too much about causing problems for his father."

"Poor Hiroki," Ryosuke remarked. "Yuuta's been really after him."

"Maybe he won't be so much anymore now that he's got a distraction." I grinned secretively.

He took the bait. "What kind of distraction?" he asked excitedly.

I leaned forward. "Put it this way; he and Gou went off arm in arm!"

"Oooo!" Ryosuke replied appreciatively. "Yeah, why not? Yuuta's beautiful, and Gou is pretty hot, and he's a Gekiranger – who doesn't love a hero?"

Yuma came in then, in all his tall, gorgeous glory. His big eyes are a yummy shade of chocolate brown, and he's got full, kissable lips. So much as Ryosuke and I were already boyfriends when introduced to Yuma at Johnny's, it didn't take long for our mutual affection to spread to our attractive bandmate. Yep, it's a three-way relationship. What can I say? I'm a tomcat.

"Is it okay if I hide out here for a while?" Thanks." He sat on the edge of the bed, glowering. Yuma's always been quieter than the two of us, but the vampire thing now makes him a little moodier, too, especially where Matchy is concerned. See, Yuma doesn't want to be a vampire. I don't think he'd rather have drowned, but he's never acted exactly grateful that Matchy saved him THIS way, either.

Ryosuke and I looked at each other, then moved to either side of him. "Aww, whazzamatta wif Yuma?" I teased in an attempt to make him smile. He almost did – his lip curled ever so slightly – but didn't quite make it to full smile status.

"Matchy wants me to try teleporting again. I HATE teleporting practice."

In truth, he hated it because he couldn't do it. Yuma was still a baby vampire, and while he was a quick study in most areas, so far teleporting had eluded him.

"I don't know why you even need it." Ryosuke shrugged. "You can move faster than the eye can see, so it's almost as good as teleporting."

"Not to Matchy," Yuma frowned. "He says that as his vampire child, I should already have this mastered. He blames it on the blood thing."

I forgot to mention that Yuma is one vampire who had never taken blood. His fangs hadn't come out yet, and Matchy said you can't force it or predict it – it happens when it will. Yuma hoped it would never happen, but Ryosuke and I secretly thought fangs would look sexy on him.

"Maybe we should get him out of here," Ryosuke suggested. "Before Matchy comes in."

"Too late." Matchy is a handsome figure of a vampire. He was in his forties when he was changed, but doesn't look it. His hair is a shoulder-length mass of waves, and when he's not at Johnny's, he tends to dress with more vampire-type flair, all black, with a short cloak that has a bat on it. Yuma hasn't said so, but despite his feelings about being a vampire, I think he sort of digs the cloak.

"Yuma," Matchy eyed him like a laser, "you're to come with me. Now."

Our vampire boy gave a very whiny groan and flopped backwards onto the bedspread. "I can't teleport! Give it a rest already!"

"You never WILL be able to do it if you don't keep trying."

"But you said it was probably because of my not having fangs yet that it wasn't working!"

"I said that was one reason. Not having fangs and not drinking blood makes you an incomplete vampire, but without commitment, you won't be able to do anything regardless."

"How about if he makes you a deal?" I piped up. "After he gets his fangs, he'll work harder at teleporting."

Matchy contemplated this for a few moments, then nodded. "Very well," he said, "I won't mention it again until then, if I have your word that you'll do your best after that happens."

"Fine, I promise," Yuma answered quickly.

"All right then." Matchy left the room and Yuma gave me a grateful look.

"Thanks, Yuri," he told me with a grin.

"That's why you're the genius around here." Ryosuke clapped me on the back. He was exaggerating – I'm not a genius. I do get one hundreds on all my school assignments and tests, but a genius? Nah.

"You guys want to go out for ice cream? I'm buying," Yuma asked.

"I'll never turn down free ice cream," Ryosuke replied eagerly, then paused, "But … you don't like ice cream anymore, do you?"

"I don't dislike it, but it doesn't do anything for me, either." He looked away. "Nothing does," he added wistfully.

I couldn't stand to see him so down. I threw my arms around him at the same time Ryosuke did. "Even us?" I asked softly.

I felt him relax in our arms. He reached up to touch my face as his other hand squeezed Ryosuke's arm. "I was talking about food. You guys are something else altogether. I love you."

It was the first time he had said it. I saw Ryosuke tearing up; he can cry on command, but he wasn't acting now, and neither was I. We were both moist-eyed as we leaned in to each kiss Yuma in turn. He smiled shyly, then suddenly his eyes grew huge and he quickly covered his mouth with one hand.

"What is it?" I demanded, alarmed by his panicked expression.

"Are you okay?" Ryosuke cried fearfully.

Trembling, Yuma lowered his hand. His mouth was opened slightly, and the tips of gleaming white fangs were visible from within.

"Whoa," Ryosuke and I chimed together in awe.

We were right; they WERE sexy!

 

Yuri

End of Part 14

(2011)

No characters here are mine. Celebrities here are for fictional purposes only and none of the events within ever happened.

This fic is not to be re-posted.

Chapter Text

Sakura Court – Part 15 (Crossover)

By Haruka (haruka@ymail.com)

--

Blustering. There's no other word to describe it, and trust me, if there was, I would be the one to know it.

However, blustering was what my adoptive father was doing, and he's the master at it. It's a combination of yelling in incoherent, broken sentences, and stamping his feet while waving his arms in the air. Bonus points if he's wearing one of his many hats, and could thus grab it and slap it against his thigh while running the other hand over his face and through his hair.

Today I was getting the full show. I really wish I could record him at this someday and put it up on Youtube. It would get a million hits easily.

"Philippe, are you listening to me?!"

Oops. Blustering can turn to swatting, which isn't funny at all, if Tousan feels he's not being heard (even if he's not using discernible words.)

"Yes, I'm listening. And I'm sorry I wrote my research all over the walls. It's just dry erase marker, I'll clean it up."

"Yes, you will, and right now," he agreed firmly, nodding his head for emphasis.

"More importantly, Tousan, I found the answer we needed for the case," I told him.

He stopped and turned to me. "Really? Why didn't you say so in the first place? Tell me!"

My father is Hidari Shotaro, half-boiled detective (he calls himself hard-boiled, but I know better.) People usually think he's my big brother, seeing as I'm sixteen and he froze at twenty-four. The fact that I'm also his partner in our detective agency adds to that misconception.

I have an advantage that helps in our cases; my father can give me keywords and then I can run a look-up in the World Library, which is essentially all the information in the world. And it's in my head.

We used to live in Fuuto, where there was a big problem with monsters called Dopants. Tousan and I were able to fuse my mind with his and the two of us became a single hero known as Kaman Rider W. Together we eliminated the Dopants, and their source, which unfortunately, was my birth family. They had used me for my power while messing with my memories so that I didn't even know who I really was at first, and am still learning some things from scratch. In the end, they all died, but at least we were able to make a semblance of peace first. Then Hidari Shotaro adopted me as his son, and I finally have a family I can be proud to belong to.

Still, there are always criminals out there who will desire an advantage and will take it if they can. In order to keep my amazing resource a complete secret, we moved from Fuuto for my safety. This was hard on Tousan at first, but he likes Sakura Court now, and our new detective agency is doing well.

However, he still doesn't like me writing on the walls when I run out of white board space. I can't help it sometimes; the information in my head comes at me so fast, and it needs somewhere to go.

We talked about our latest case while cleaning off the wall. When we were done, he stood back and looked over our work with satisfaction. See, that's what I mean about his being half-boiled – he helped me clean up the mess I'd made. He really is a great dad.

"So, do you have any other plans for this weekend besides work?" he asked, and I'd heard the next part often enough that I said it along with him, "You're a kid, you know, you're allowed to have some fun."

"Okay, okay, joke if you like, but I'm serious this time." He steered me toward the front door. "You've done your part in the case, I'll take it from here and you go do something with your friends."

I found myself on the other side of the door wondering, what now?

It's not that I haven't met the other kids in the neighbourhood – I have. I like them pretty well, too, I guess, it's just that I'm usually too busy to socialize ….

All right, it's not just that. I'm really not used to being around other kids for any length of time. In Fuuto, I didn't go to school. First, because I was virtually a prisoner in my own home, and after that, well, why would I need to? I already know everything, it's all in the World Library in my head. Besides, I was researching for our cases and running around with my father as a Kamen Rider. After moving here, though, Tousan insisted I start going to school so I could learn HOW to be a normal kid.

"Hey, Philippe, how are you?"

I recognized the tall, slender boy coming toward me as Hiroki, but he was leaving the wrong house. I checked what I knew about him and pulled the key points out of the Library: Friendly, funny, performer, cousin of Rei. "Hi Hiroki," I answered, "were you visiting the Uratas?"

He grinned and stuffed his hands in his pockets. "Yeah, I'm friends with Nisshi and Shinjiro."

"And Chiaki, of course." As I said it, and saw his expression, I wondered if maybe his interest in the younger girl of the Urata family wasn't supposed to be public knowledge.

"Um, right," he said finally, his smile a little awkward. "She's a nice girl." He paused briefly, then asked, "Were you on your way somewhere? I don't mean to hold you up."

"Oh no, not really. I was just wondering WHERE to go."

"Well, why don't you come over to my place? Come on." He gave my arm a light tug and I followed along. Why not?

"There's no one home but me right now," he said as he let us in and led me up the stairs. We went into what I assumed was his room, and it was surprisingly tidy for what my research told me to expect in a normal teenager's room. Apparently, Hiroki thought the same thing, since the first thing he did was groan.

"Yuuta's been in here," he lamented, looking at me apologetically. "Really, it wasn't too bad. I had my jacket laying over the chair, and a couple of books on my bed …." He scanned the room. "I wonder where he PUT everything!"

"Why would your brother clean your room for you?" I asked. It didn't make any sense.

"He wants us to be as little trouble for my uncle as possible. Thing is, my uncle doesn't consider us to be any trouble, and he's worrying for nothing."

I looked around the room, seeing the touches that made it Hiroki's. There was a handheld video game system with a couple of games nearby, and as Hiroki hunted down the items his brother had put away, other things turned up, like some basketball magazines, and an ipod. I paused by some framed photos on the bureau top. I recognized Yuuta, and both brothers looked something like the adult in the pictures. I took a step closer for a better look and gasped, "That's Kimeru!"

"Yes, he's my mother," Hiroki replied.

"REALLY?! I LOVE Kimeru! His music is wonderful, and he's really beautiful, and his –" I stopped, noticing that Hiroki's expression had turned very sad. "I'm sorry, did I say something wrong?"

"No, I'm glad my mother has fans like you, and he IS a great performer." He managed a trembling smile. "I just miss him. He's been on tour for a while."

I may be a rabid fanboy when it comes to people I admire, but I didn't want to see that melancholy look on Hiroki's face anymore, so I resolved to use extreme willpower to change the subject. My gaze fell on a couple of long tubes leaning against the wall in the corner.

"What are these?" I asked curiously.

He glanced over and grinned. "Oh, those are my posters. I bought a couple of new ones since I've been here, but Yuuta won't let me put them up. They're dance posters."

I brightened. "You like to dance? So do I!"

"Really?" he asked excitedly. "We'll have to go dance in the park sometime."

"I'd like that," I told him, and meant it. "But you should put your posters up. If Yuuta doesn't like it, ask your uncle."

"Maybe," he considered. "I don't want Yuuta upset that I'm going behind his back, but it would be good for him, too. He's hardly unpacked a thing since he got here."

I was going to say something else but was distracted by motion in my peripheral vision. I turned toward a small animal in a tank. "What's that?" I moved over to examine it, fascinated.

"That's my hamster, isn't he cute?" Hiroki beamed. He reached in and brought the furry ball out, showing it to me. I ran through everything I could find about hamsters in the World Library, and one thing stood out suddenly.

"It's a 'pet,'" I said, touching my fingertips to my lips. It's a habit of mine when I'm finding something new to focus on.

"Yes," Hiroki looked a little surprised. "Have you never had a pet before?"

"No, but —" I began following the research through the Library. There were hundreds of different pets people could own! Not just rodents, although there were many of those. The more I explored the possibilities, the more excited I got and suddenly I knew I had to dig even deeper.

"I'm sorry, Hiroki, I have to go! I've got something important to do." I'm ashamed to admit I left him there in confusion as I ran off.

--

"PHILIPPE!"

Oh dear, it was time for another bluster-fest.

"Yes, Tousan?" I said, coming into the living room, carefully watching where I put my feet. I didn't want to step on the cat, rabbit, or the iguana.

"What the heck is all this?!" My father waved his arms like a wild man, and the image was helped by the veritable zoo surrounding him.

"Tousan, have you ever heard of 'pets'?" I asked eagerly. "People keep animals and take care of them — even the ones who don't really do anything — just to be nurturing and have companionship."

"Yes, I know what pets are!" he cried. "You only should get pets if you have time and money to devote to them and we can't afford all this!"

I looked around. In that one room besides the three I already mentioned, there was a puppy, guinea pig, mice, a turtle, snake, birds of various types, gerbils, a rat, a hedgehog, sugar glider, and even a tarantula. The pony wouldn't fit, so he was tied out back. Now that I thought about it, we didn't have room for all of these animals, either. I wonder why these things don't hit me until after my research is over.

"Oops," I said sheepishly.

"'Oops'?!" My father repeated incredulously, then slapped his hat against his thigh and yelled incoherently in frustration. It was business as usual in that the Hidari household.

Philippe

--

End of Part 15

(2011)

No characters here are mine. Celebrities here are for fictional purposes only and none of the events within ever happened.

This fic is not to be re-posted.