It never fails. There will be a time when you will lose interest; when you will lose sight of what you had originally planned. And in my case, it always happens after the third chapter. But Philip Pullman, the author of His Dark Materials, once said - you have to keep going. You have to finish what you started. And today I am doing that. I don't promise this will be one of my best works - I'm ashamed to admit I almost forced myself into writing this. Please bear with the flight turbulence and hang on to your seats.

End rant. Commence replies.

nanami27 - ^^; Wow thanks XD Glad you thought this fic was hilarious, because I was planning to make it funny but I often think I fall short in humor. Yes…"darling" Koshino… XD

Lazuli - *slaps Kana*

tensaispira - Yeah! Everybody loves Kosh! *glomp* Hentai Kosh! LOL

frozenfemale - Wah, I don't know what that word means. ;_; Hey, I'm sorry if I haven't read Chapter 11 *bonks self* I'll get onto it…e-mail backlog…

sLL - Thank you thank you thank you thank you! Reviews can really be uplifting ^_~

ayu - Well, Houfa is supposed to be the embodiment of spoiled ^^; So it's like thr four Ryonan boys are actually babysitting…I just noticed there hasn't been any romance yet, lol

End replies. Commence chapter.

CHAPTER 4 - No Progress

Fukuda couldn't sleep. By the way he kept tossing and turning, he could have burrowed himself deep into the bed. He didn't know how many hours he had been sleeping before he was rudely awakened by his biological clock. Unfortunately, it seemed to have miscalculated. Fukuda awoke to find himself staring in total darkness, the sheets covering him up to his neck.

He wished he hadn't taken off his watch. And because he was feeling lazy enough, he thought of guessing the time instead. Usually he could come up with accurate guesses just by listening to and estimating the number of crickets chirping outside. But he wasn't even sure if there were any crickets around here. After all, he wasn't in his own bed - nor his own house - he was staying at the Princess Lin Houfa's stately house.

Rolling over to his side, he cursed, shutting his eyes tightly. Too many images jumped at him again; too many thoughts swimming in his head - perhaps they were the reasons why he couldn't sleep, and not because of the mattress or the flowery incense odor of the room assigned to him. His gray matter demanded to be used.

Fukuda wished they would just go away, and he did something he never thought he would do:

One. Two. Three - aw shit, he tripped. This is crazy, anyway.

Sheep are stupid.

The image of Inoue Ruriko floated into his mind. It only succeeded in keeping him alert, and sent his heart doing somersaults.

He groaned. He blinked at the ceiling. The ceiling blinked back.

By this time he knew had to do something, before absurder things started happening.

"Houfa…Houfa-sama…is…fifteen years old?"

"Oh my God, and here I was…how could she have developed…I thought she was eighteen already…"

"Sendoh, you pedophile!"

"WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME BEING FIFTEEN!?"

Fukuda gasped. Just like an unforgettable nightmare, he remembered. He remembered what had happened - what had been discovered - before they all retired to bed.

That little, spoilt brat for a princess, who came one fine day to ruin their - no, his life - was only fifteen years old, two years his junior. It came as quite a shock to them, because there was (no doubt about it), the question of… physical developments.

It just didn't seem quite right for someone of age fifteen.

Sakura's face hardened. "Time to sleep, Houfa-sama." Sakura never called Houfa by her title.

"Wa-wait, wait!" Hikoichi interrupted, and suddenly realized that he had just ordered the Black Sakura around. He gulped. "Um…please wait?"

"Yes? What is it?"

"Houfa-sama said there were only three rooms available, but we're four." Hikoichi bit his lip and looked down on the floor.

Sakura's boot tapped the floor impatiently.

"As I said, we can always make room for you. Right now I have to see to Houfa-sama." She marched her way towards the sulking princess and pulled her up to her feet by one arm. "Let's go. And tidy yourself up."

As she waited for the princess to fix her dress and her hair, she caught sight of Sendoh still on the chair, head lost in the clouds.

"You are Sendoh Akira, are you not?" She broke his thoughts.

Sendoh dropped back to Earth upon being questioned. "Yes I am, Ma'am. I'm one of Fukuda's friends." The deep voice rumbled.

Sakura - did she actually look at Sendoh fondly? "I know. I've heard a lot about you from Houfa-sama."

He sat up. "You did?" asked the oblivious Sendoh. "Hope she didn't say anything bad about me."

No Sendoh, do not smile. Fukuda sent the warning in vain. Or else you're done for.

Sendoh flashed his trademark grin.

Fukuda slapped his forehead.

Sakura's laugh tinkled in the room.

"No, dear boy. From what I've heard you're a very nice young man." She gave him a slow wink. "And since we're short on rooms, I thought you might like to know that nice young men are always free to stay in my room."

Maybe there was hope for Sendoh; he certainly wasn't that dense. He froze. "I- I- I think I'll just stay in the Pillow-Fighting chamber." he answered nervously.

Sakura looked disappointed.

He could make out the carved decorations on the ceiling again. Fukuda hissed loudly and got up. There was no use in trying to fall asleep. Besides, too many disturbing people had occupied his mind already. Better to get some exercise rather than being forced to think about them.

Why did I ever agree to coming here… Always asking the same question, yet the answer he would never admit to himself.

A few strides and he reached the solitary window of his room. The thick, floor-length drapes shrouded the room in darkness. With one arm, he threw them aside.

The sunlight blinded him for a second, and his arm flew over to shield his eyes.

It was morning already.

Probably the reason why he couldn't sleep.

***

A couple of stairs and halls after, he reached the door of the chamber where the Ryonan ace was soundly sleeping. Everyone woke up before Sendoh Akira; it was a known fact.

He decided not to knock, just for the hell of it.

The door didn't creak when he opened it, and the chamber looked just the same when they had first seen it - a room full of pillows, of all sizes and shapes. A figure was breathing evenly on the far side of the room, lying on the biggest pillow there was. It was totally wrapped up in sheets, but the spiked hair gave him away.

There was no real reason to wake him up, and wading through mounds of pillows was not really Fukuda's preferred exercise for the morning, but it was a civic duty to wake the ace - because if they didn't, Sendoh would probably continue to sleep until the next day.

He stopped, hovering before the sleeping figure. Which unusually seemed to be made up of TWO figures.

The hairs on his nape went up. An uncomfortable feeling rushed through him, sending chills through his spine. Could it be? He rubbed his eyes to make sure he wasn't dreaming, yet the picture became clearer instead. There were TWO figures. One was Sendoh, judging from the length of the figure. The other, cuddled to Sendoh's chest, was small - and short in length. The sheet covering them had contoured smoothly to the curves.

Bursting with unexplained feeling, he threw back the sheet. And gasped.

"Sendoh…you…!"

***

Kill the author when you meet her. - misquoted from Genjo Sanzo, Saiyuki

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