Dear, darling readers,

No, this story has not been forgotten. Honestly, life has been so busy and stressful in the last couple of years that I've hardly had any time at all to devote to things like fic-writing, which makes me very sad indeed. I have, however, been working on chapter 4. It doesn't look like I'll be finished in the next couple of days, so I've decided to post the first half of the chapter as a little preview. It is completely unedited, and I'm in desperate need of a beta, but I hope you'll enjoy it.

On another note, this chapter has been really hard to write. It's one of those transitions, where nothing really happens but you can't leave it out. Ah, well, I hope it satisfies.

Now, to respond to a few readers with the most recent reviews-

Fuzzy Eared- 1) No, the Japanese. I'm quite positive that Ogata Megumi in this role would be classified as an alto. I may, however, have mis-classified Hiei's voice. Honestly, I'm not a music major or anything. Please be kind ;; 2) Hiei was on the bed with Harry, and Kurama slept in the bathtub--er, the couch, on the couch. . Oh, and I'm not sure what you mean by the Chinese take-out comment. I was never trying to insinuate that Japanese people eat only Chinese food, just that Kurama picked some up, and Hiei found it unsatisfactory. On your review for ch2-- Yes, Minamino Shuichi is not wholly Japanese. And while kitsune have a myriad of talents (Harry will, as well)... Well, Kurama doesn't. Revealing why would be a major spoiler, so I shan't. But trust me, there's a good reason for it.

Shadow hunter 1 - Yeah, I'm a crack up, all right

Slice - Don't cry, I'm still working on it


"Dear Snuffles,

How are you? I'm fine, thanks for asking. The trip to Japan was very long, but worth it. My second cousin, Shuichi Minamino, is really great, and being with his family, the Hatenakas, is almost like being with the Weasleys. They're very nice people. I appreciate your concern, but I don't want to leave. In fact, I intend to stay until school starts. Even if I wasn't perfectly capable of defending myself, I am very well defended here. Assuming Voldemort could even find me, which I doubt. Dumbledore isn't the only capable person in the world, you know. Try not to worry too much.



He rather liked the way it had turned out. Polite, but firm. His fury had drained over the last few hours. Now he just felt tired.

He yawned and stretched. Outside, the morning sun had already filled the streets, and there were hardly any clouds in the sky. It was promising to be a beautiful day. The Hatenaka adults had risen already. He could hear them downstairs, Shiori puttering around in the kitchen, and Kazuya watching the morning news. At least, Harry assumed it was the news, as that was what most adults of his acquaintance busied themselves with in the morning.

Shuichi was dozing on the bed, snoring lightly. Harry hadn't been surprised to find that, upon returning from Kurama's room, Shuichi was still awake, and impatient for an explanation. It had taken almost an hour of explaining before he'd been confident Shuichi had understood most, if not all, of what he'd said.

After seeing Shuichi's reaction to Hiei, Harry hadn't been too surprised that Shuichi had accepted what Harry told him without batting an eye. He'd shown Shuichi his wand, and even pulled out his history text to show Shuichi the moving pictures. Having never paid any attention to the text, Harry had been surprised to find it was a great deal more interesting than Professor Binns' lectures.

The book was now sitting on Shuichi's desk, next to Harry's finished letter. And the first couple of drafts of said letter, which had come out in turns, angry, childish, petulant, and whiney. Yawning noisily, he crumpled the previous drafts into an untidy ball and chucked them into Shuichi's wastebasket.

There came a soft tap at the door, and the hinges squeaked as Kurama quietly entered the room, leaving the door open behind him. Sympathetic green eyes took in the rumpled state of his clothes. "I hope you managed to get a little rest."

"I can't." Harry's brows furrowed, and he scratched his head. "I'm tired, but I'm—I dunno; I've just got all this energy. Too much to rest." The new tingling-flow of energy seemed to have increased tenfold in the past few hours.

"Strange," Kurama murmured, and Harry once again felt the shivers-up-your-spine sensation of Kurama's power—only this time, it seemed to encase his entire body. He was unable to suppress a shudder at the odd—but not unpleasant—feeling.

"Your spiritual energy is at a much higher level than normal," the redhead told him with a small frown. "You don't feel nauseous, do you? Have a headache, maybe?"


His expression turned thoughtful. "Interesting. I had wondered why the change hadn't any immediate effects on your power levels… Of course, your body would have needed time to adjust for sustaining increasing amounts of energy. How thoughtless of me to have not considered it before."


"Your power levels were still depressed from the change as of last night, but your body was already adjusting. As soon as it was safe to do so, you must have begun drawing energy into your body to replace what you'd lost… and then some."

Harry's brows furrowed in puzzlement. "Drawing energy? From what?"

"The trees. The grass. The flowers." Kurama shrugged. "Earth. Kitsune are deeply connected to nature. It is part of who we are. We constantly, unconsciously pull small amounts of energy from the earth around us. I will teach you to exert some measure of control over this, so that you may consciously draw more energy from the earth to replenish yourself, or shut out the earth around you as much as possible, as is necessary."

"But if we, um, take energy from the earth, then why would we want to shut it out? Isn't it a good thing?"

Instead of answering immediately, Kurama moved to the window, near Harry, and stared pensively down onto the lawn below, with its lush grass, flowers that were at once wild and tamed, and the large tree whose branches spread at such angles that did not prevent sunlight from getting to the greenery below. Harry stood and joined his great-grandfather, admiring for a moment the sheer beauty of the yard. He rather thought Aunt Petunia would be green as the grass with envy if she ever caught sight of it.

"I spent years cultivating this garden to its current state," the redhead said softly. "Brought in fertilizers, a diverse collection of plants. Painstakingly cleansed the soil of impurities and contaminates with my power, though I had little to spare at the time. Toiled countless hours so that this would be a haven of healthy, happy plants. No man-made chemicals have touched this ground for years. And believe me, it's much happier for it."

Harry raised his eyes to meet Kurama's sorrowful gaze. He shifted uncomfortably. "Not all the earth is this healthy, Harry. You would not have felt it on the drive from the airport—we have you under tight shields, Hiei and I—but the earth underneath the city is neither happy, nor healthy. Underneath any city, the earth is sickly, crushed by the weight of so much concrete, weakened by so many pollutants. In some places, it is even worse: places were the earth is close to death, already dead. Places where a miasma of illness, wrongness, hovers over the earth." He shook his head slowly. "You do not want the energy of such place inside you, Harry. It is…" Words seemed to fail him, and he shuddered: perhaps in remembrance, perhaps in horror. Maybe in both.

They stood in silence for an endless moment. Harry did not know how to respond to Kurama's obvious pain. Kurama seemed lost in thought, he gaze turned once again to the garden below. Finally, he gave himself a small shake, facing Harry full on with a sheepish smile on his face.

"Forgive me, Harry. It's far too early to be discussing such matters. I let myself get carried away for a moment." Harry grinned at him, forcefully pushing away the lingering unease Kurama's words had caused.

"I actually came in this morning to wake the two of you up. We've much to do today. No time for lingering in bed." He shot Shuichi's still form a fondly exasperated look.

"I wrote that letter," Harry said, grabbing the parchment and holding it out for Kurama's inspection. The redhead scanned it quickly, lips twitching.

"Not terribly eloquent, but it certainly gets the point across," he said wryly. He ruffled Harry's messy hair. "Are you going to send it now?"

Harry's gaze went to Hedwig, who was perched atop Shuichi's bookcase with her head under her wing. As if sensing his gaze, she lifted her wing to give him a one-eyed glare, communicating clearly that she had no intention of rousing herself any time soon.

"Er… maybe later."

Kurama smirked. "Let them stew for a bit." He bent over Shuichi, ungently shaking the younger boy. "You might want to take a shower now, before Shuichi awakes. He's quite the bathroom hog."

Chuckling, he grabbed a clean set of clothes as Shuichi groaned loudly at his stepbrother's ungentle ministrations.

After a quick shower, Harry was feeling more—or would that be less?—human. Even before leaving the bathroom, his nose was twitching (and his stomach growling) at the powerful scent of frying bacon drifting up from the kitchen.

He passed a bleary-eyed Shuichi in the hall, who muttered "Yo," as he shuffled by. Kurama stood in the doorway of Shuichi's room, chuckling softly.

"Ready for breakfast?" Kurama asked as Harry tossed his clothes carelessly on the floor.


They sat down at the disappointingly un-exotic table for a not-so-disappointingly un-exotic breakfast. Shiori beamed at him as she heaped piles thankfully recognizable foods onto his plate. Harry set upon them with gusto.

He was on his second helping when Shuichi made his belated appearance, looking a great deal more alert. "Ohayou," Harry said awkwardly around a mouthful of eggs.

"Good morning," Shuichi mumbled as he took the seat next to Harry. As Shiori piled food on his plate, he irritably asked Kurama a question in rapid Japanese.

Kurama replied in kind, then said to Harry, "Shuichi was just wondering why he had to be up so early when there isn't any school today. I told him it's because we're going shopping today."

Harry raised a quizzical eyebrow. "He has school over the summer?"

Kurama laughed. "The school system is a bit different here than in Britain, Harry."

Harry reflected on how unpleasant school in the summer would be as he cleared his plate, then asked, "Um… Shopping?"

"Yes. I rather thought it might a fun thing to do on your first day in Japan. And you'll need a few new sets of clothing, of course."

Harry wondered if he was violating some kind of Japanese dress code, but looking from Kurama's black slacks and pale blue button-up to Shuichi's blue jeans and maroon t-shirt, and Kazuya's dark blue business suit (which wouldn't have been out of place on Uncle Vernon, except for being several sizes too small), he guessed there couldn't be much of a difference between Japanese and British clothing. It took him a few moments to realize Kurama had been tactfully referring to the state of his clothes, not the style. Unpleasant heat crept into his cheeks.

"That's all right," he said quickly. "Besides, I don't, um, have any money."

Kurama eyed him critically. "Don't worry about it. I am more than capable of covering any expenses."

Harry squirmed uncomfortably. "You really don't need to—"

"But I want to, and I will," Kurama said firmly, his expression brooking no argument.

Shuichi looked between the two of them curiously. "To argue with him will make no good," he informed Harry wryly. "My brother, he get his way like a cat."

"A cat, huh?" Harry scratched his head thoughtfully. "More like a fox, I'd say."

Shuichi looked puzzled, and Kurama politely stifled a chuckle behind his hand.

A few hours later, Harry was finding himself quite overwhelmed, in the midst of the largest mall he'd ever set foot in. Not that he'd ever really spent time in any mall, of course. But it was surely large by any thoroughly experienced mall-goer's standards, much less Harry's. And packed wall-to-wall with more Japanese people than Harry had seen in his entire life. He was sure he stuck out like a sore thumb… and his new clothes had a great deal to do with the feeling.

Kurama had taken the backseat in this venture, allowing Shuichi to exercise his fashion expertise. Which was vast, indeed. Shirts and pants of all colors and styles had been held against him, most being quickly discarded. Shuichi seemed to have grown eight more arms, all of which had been busy pressings things against his shoulders, his waist, even his hips. Trying the first load on had been even worse. Shuichi had turned him this way and that, examining him from every angle. He smoothed and tweaked the fabric. Harry was forced to slap those busy hands away no few times when they strayed into forbidden territory. Shuichi had impatiently told him to stop being like a fish.

Kurama laughed the entire time. Harry was sure of it, although he'd never actually managed to catch the redhead in the act.

Kurama must have given Shuichi a very large budget to work with, based on the obscene amount of clothing they'd ended up purchasing. Harry had protested several times that it was too much. Kurama and Shuichi had both turned deaf ears to his objections. Shuichi had even insisted he begin wearing his new clothes immediately—which was why he now walked stiffly between the two, weighted down by bags and feeling like he was dressed to kill. Himself, anyway.

The black khakis themselves weren't all that bad. Neither was the long-sleeved button-up white shirt. But together, combined with a sleeveless black cotton vest made Harry feel like he should b sitting down with an executive committee planning a corporate takeover, not strolling leisurely through a shopping center. Shuichi had assured him that the look was not overly dressy, but in fact "very chic." And Harry had had to admit, eying himself critically in the full-length dressing room mirror, that he cut quite a dashing figure. He was mortally glad he no longer needed his glasses, thinking how goofy he'd look with the large, round, taped-together frames. Not that he cared how he looked, anyway.

Although the speculative way some of the girls were eying him as they passed made him feel a little giddy.

Currently, they were discussing shoes. "You'll need a pair of nice shoes, of course," Kurama translated as Shuichi rambled in Japanese. "And a pair of casual shoes, a pair of sandals, maybe a pair of boots, and—" Kurama cut off abruptly, giving Shuichi a coolly suspicious look. Shuichi smirked, and Kurama reached behind Harry to give his stepbrother a gentle smack on the back of his head, Shuichi, burdened with as many bags as Harry, could do nothing to retaliate other than stick out his tongue.

"Kurama-kun!" The three turned around. Behind them were two girls, waving. One was a little shorter than Harry, with brown hair brushing her shoulders. The other was taller, with light brown hair.

"Keiko-san, Shizuru-san," Kurama said with a smile. He then spoke rapidly in Japanese, and Harry understood enough words to realize that Kurama was asking how they were. He was rather proud of his rapidly-growing comprehension of the language. Why, he'd probably be speaking it like a native in just a few more years. The thought brought a smirk to his lips.

"….Harry." His eyes flicked to Kurama, then back to the girls. They were both giving him wide-eyed, startled glances. He wondered what Kurama was telling them about him.

"Harry," the redhead said again, and this time he was addressing himself to his great-grandson. "This is Yukimura Keiko—remember, surnames first—and Kuwabara Shizuru. They're good friends." He lowered his voice. "They know about me, so I've told them the truth about our relationship."

"What?" Shuichi said curiously. He'd given the girls a casual, "Yo," and a wave of his hand.

Harry ignored him, smiling awkwardly instead at the two girls. "Dozo yoroshiku, ah, Keiko-san, Shizuru-san."

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Harry-kun," said the shorter one, Keiko, with a smile.

"Yoroshiku na," said Shizuru, followed by a phrase he didn't understand.

"Uh… Toire wa doko desu ka?"

Shizuru stared at him blankly for a moment, perhaps wondering what toilets had to do with anything, while the other three chuckled. Keiko said something to the other girl, who gave a bark of laughter and grinned at him. Keiko giggled again, then said to Harry, "Shizuru asked how you are liking it here."

"Oh, it's, er, very nice. I haven't really seen much yet, but…" He glanced at Kurama and Shuichi. "I like it a lot."

Kurama smiled warmly at him, and Harry grinned back. "It's good that you are enjoying it here," Keiko said, after translating for her friend. "We must go, but Kurama must bring you to the—the noodle shop soon."

"Hai, mochiron," the redhead responded agreeably. Mochiron… Harry recalled that it meant something like "of course."

"Aa, ja ne," he said with minimal awkwardness. He felt heartened when Kurama flashed him an approving smile and a wink.

"So how do they… you know, know about you?" Harry asked as they watched the girls leave.

"Oh, we've had a few adventures together," Kurama said wryly. "I'll tell you all about it sometime."

"I know about it," Shuichi said with a grin.

"Only because you're insufferably nosy," the redhead replied. "Now, where were we?"

"Shoes. Lots of them." Shuichi grinned.

"Do I really need so many shoes?" Harry asked resignedly as Shuichi steered him into a shoe store. Shuichi nodded empathetically. Kurama merely laughed.

Harry did manage to talk Shuichi out of the sandals. Kurama, however, added a pair of soft-soled indoor shoes. He insisted they were practical. Harry gave up trying to say no.

In addition to the new clothes, Harry was now wearing the shiniest pair of shoes he'd ever owned. At least, Harry consoled himself, Shuichi had to carry all the boxes.

"Well, you can't expect Harry to carry it all," Kurama replied innocently when Shuichi complained. "He's a guest, after all."

"You could carry, also," Shuichi shot back.

"I paid for it all," Kurama said reasonably, with a small wink in Harry's direction.

Luckily, Shuichi's grumbling didn't last long. "We are putting this stuff at home, then we are going to—to place of games. Then we can fight!" Shucihi said excitedly as the boarded the tram that would take them back to the Hatenaka residence.

"Um… fight?" Harry asked uncertainly as he took a seat between the bags and Shuichi.

"I think he means video games," Kurama said amusedly. "He wants to take you to the arcade a few blocks from home."

"Oh." He brightened. "I've never been to an arcade before."

Shuichi looked horrified. "Never been to…arcade?"

Kurama was frowning. "Don't you play video games, Harry?"

"Well, my cousin never let me play on his machines, and the Dursleys never let me go with Dudley and his friends to the arcade. Not that I'd want to go with Dudley and his friends, anyway," he added hastily as Kurama's frown deepened.

Shuichi still seemed to be in shock. "Not… play games? Never?"

"Well, now is as good a time as any to start," Kurama said, frown disappearing into one of his brilliant smiles. "Right, Harry?"

"Right," he agreed eagerly. "I bet it'll be loads of fun."

"Cool." Shuichi grinned. "I will make you into expert of video games right away."

Shiori had been as excited by Harry's new wardrobe as Shucihi. At the other boy's prompting, he'd held out his arms and turned in a circle to model his new outfit. She's smiled widely, clapped her hands together and said, "Cool."

Harry was finding it hard to believe that Shiori wasn't Shuichi's birth mother. They had so many of the same mannerisms—right down to the petting and tweaking, which Harry endured with an awkward smile. There was no smacking away Shiori's hands!

She'd finally turned them loose after announcing: "Tonight we go to traditional Japanese meal." At least, he thought that was what she said, as her English had been rather difficult to understand. Shuichi had groaned and rolled his eyes.

Currently, Harry was being dragged down an unfamiliar street by an overexcited Shuichi. He stumbled several times as Shuichi jerked him around by his arm, trying to dodge irate pedestrians. Kurama followed at a more sedate pace.

And this time, Harry had caught him laughing.

Harry ran into Shuichi when the other boy abruptly stopped, still holding Harry's wrist in a vice-like grip. He released the wrist when they both stumbled, then tossed his arm around Harry's shoulders. As if, Harry thought, Shuichi suspected he might try to escape if he wasn't kept hold of. "Hurry, Kurama!" the dark-haired boy shouted impatiently. "We are here," he added for Harry's benefit, "but Kurama has money for your card."

Harry was struck by a sudden thought. "Shuichi, why do your parents call him Shuichi, too? Wouldn't it be less confusing if they called him Kurama like everyone else?"

Shuichi looked thoughtful. "I think he is not wanting to be "Kurama" to our parents, he is wanting to be "Shuichi" because Shuichi is what all the parents want. "Kurama" is secret, very special. But he is not wanting them to know of him like this, yes?"
"I understand. I think." It sounded to Harry as if Kurama as keeping his true powers and identity secret form Shiori and Kazuya. Did he fear that, like the Dursleys, the Hatenaka adults would want nothing to do with him once they knew what he was? But even though he's known them for less than a day, Harry had a hard time imagining the kind, easy-going couple ever behaving like the Dursleys.

"Finly," Shuichi groused as Kurama joined them in front of the arcade.

"Finally," the redhead corrected. "And I just paused for a moment to speak with Kaito. An old classmate." He directed the last to Harry.

"Kaito is boring," Shuichi said blandly. "Let's go."

"The only reason Shuichi doesn't like Kaito is because Kaito can beat him at all his favorite video games," Kurama said in an undertone as they followed Shuichi in.

Harry bit back a laugh, his pondering on Kurama's secrecy forgotten for the moment.

As Kurama bought him a card—whatever that was for—Harry took the opportunity to gawk. The walls were dark, the lights down low, and neon flashed from every direction. The place was easily twice as large as it had looked from the outside—and it hadn't looked all that small. Harry grinned, thinking Dudley would die of envy if he knew Harry had gone to a place like this. It must have been ten times the size of the little arcade Dudley and his stupid friends had frequented.

"Here you go," Kurama said, holding out what looked something like a credit card. Harry accepted it curiously. On closer inspection, it still resembled a credit card, dark blue with a black stripe on the back and covered in Japanese characters.

"It's a points card," Kurama explained, seeing Harry's confusion. "Each game costs a certain amount of points to play. Just swipe the card through the slot on each machine to play. Your card has six hundred points." The redhead smirked. "Don't use them all on one game."

Shuichi, who had been exercising an astounding amount of patience until that point, grabbed Harry's arm and dragged him away from the counter into the maze of video games. Kurama, he noted with a startling amount of disappointment, did not follow.

Shuichi led Harry to a flashy looking machine in the middle of the arcade. "Good fight game," he told Harry. On the screen, a muscular blond man in red was losing miserably to a girl with gravity-defying hair who was wearing next to nothing. "The…moves? They are easy to remember." The dark haired boy then launched into a complicated explanation of the controls.

At least, Harry thought that was what Shuichi was talking about. The other boy was using as many Japanese words as he was English, and the English words were for the most part in nonsensical order. Harry quickly figured out for himself that pushing random buttons while jerking the stick yielded the best results.

He had just lost spectacularly to Shuichi for the fifth time when someone tapped him on the shoulder. Turning, he was surprised to see a boy of about his own age with wavy blond hair and the biggest blue eyes he'd ever seen on a boy. He spoke softly in Japanese.

"Mitarai-kun!" Shuichi clapped the boy on the shoulder, speaking rapidly. Harry thought he recognized his own name come up several times.

"Harry, this is Kiyoshi Mitarai. We, uh… We are at school together, at Meiou. Very hard school. Mitarai-kun is… More smart than me. He helps me."

Mitarai's cheeks reddened slightly. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Harry." He offered his hand, which Harry accepted gratefully. He found the whole bowing thing highly awkward.

"Good to meet you, too."

Shuichi was grinning. "Mitarai's friend whose name is Amanuma wants to play with me, since all you do is lose."

Harry was startled to see a younger boy standing slightly behind Mitarai, and was embarrassed to have not seen him sooner. "Sure you can play…. A-man-a-mura." He enunciated the name carefully, hoping it didn't sound too awkward. "I'm no good at video games, anyway. Maybe you can beat this idiot." He jerked his thumb at Shuichi—and only then did it occur to him that Amanuma might not speak any English.

"It won't be difficult." The boy surprised him, speaking with no accent that Harry could discern.

"You think that?" Shuichi asked indignantly, eyes narrowing.

"You want to leave these two alone and get something to drink?" Mitaai asked in a friendly way as Amanuma took Harry's place.

"Sure," Harry replied. "I don't have any money, though."

"It is of no concern."

Mitarai led Harry to the back, where a bar ran half the length of the wall. "He does not play often anymore, Amanuma-kun," the blond said as they reached the counter. "And when he does, he rarely finds someone worth playing with."

Mystified by the strange expression on Mitarai's face, Harry just nodded. "So," he said awkwardly as Mitarai ordered drinks, "you and Shuichi are classmates?"

"Yes," the blond answered with a smile. "We are in the same, ah, homeroom at Meiou. Although I sometimes wonder why; I do not understand how he passed the entrance exams!"

Harry laughed, and Mitarai winked broadly. "No, he is not stupid, just very lazy. He would not need my help if he would make some effort."

"I know what that's like," Harry said, thinking of how Hermione was forever giving answers to him and Ron. The man behind the counter set two tall glasses of soda in front of them. Mitarai raised his glass in a salute. Harry followed suit, and they clinked glasses before taking a long drink.

"I hope you are finding our country agreeable," Mitarai said after putting his glass down.

"Well, I haven't seen much of it," he murmured, remembering his earlier conversation with Keiko-san and Shizuru-san, "but it seems quite nice. Shuichi's family is really wonderful."

Mitarai nodded, as if he's expected nothing else. "So, you are Hatenaka-kun's... cousin? He was not very specific on that."

"Well, I'm really the second-cousin of Shuichi's step-brother, who's also named Shuichi."

"Step-brother?" Mitarai tilted his head to one side, looking puzzled.

"Oh, his—Shuichi's—father married the other Shuichi's mother..."

"Gikyoudai," said Kurama, seating himself on Harry's other side. "The word
you're looking for is 'gikyoudai.'"

"Thanks," he grinned at the redhead. "Oh, Mitarai...kun? This is—" He
swiveled in his seat to face Mitarai. The blond was staring at Kurama with wide,
terrified eyes, his face gone white. "Mitarai-kun? Are you... Um, daijoubu desu ka?"

"K-Kurama-san!" The blond half-slid off the stool, looking ready to bolt.

Harry looked between the two in confusion. Kurama sported a queer expression, one Harry had never seen before. A sad half-smile.

"It's all right, Mitarai-kun," Kurama said softly. "So, you go to school with
Shuichi." It was not a question.

Mitarai stared at Kurama, hand gripping the counter so tightly his knuckles
had gone white. "Nanda--? Oh, ah, hai... Yes. I do."

Kurama took a sip of Harry's soda, ruffling Harry's hair as he did so. "I
went to Meiou. Minamino Shuichi. Top of my class. That's the reason Kazuya-san insisted Shuichi apply there."


"Oh," said Harry. "Wakata. That means... to understand, right?"

"That's right," Kurama murmured approvingly. "Shuichi mentions you often, Mitarai-kun. I'm pleased to hear you're doing well."

"A-arigato, Kurama-san," the blond muttered, slowly sliding back onto the
stool. They all sat silently for a moment, the Mitarai said, "So, you are related
to Kurama-san, Harry-kun? Does that make you..." He frowned. "Make you...
like him?"

"Um..." Harry looked to Kurama for clarification. The redhead grinned and
ruffled his hair again.

"Yes," Kurama said proudly, "He is like me. But he was raised by humans."

Harry stared incredulously between the two of them. "So, um… Is Mitarai..kun another person you've had adventures with?"

"Yes, you could say that," the redhead murmured. Strangely, Mitarai winced. Harry's eyes flicked between the two. He was completely confused, to say the least. What was going on?

After an uncomfortable silence that seemed to gone on forever, Mitarai stood, speaking softly to Kurama in Japanese. Harry was able to pick out Amanuma's name, and not much else. Then the blond turned to Harry, and bowed. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Harry-kun. I will hope to see you again."

"Yeah, it was nice meeting you, uh, Mitarai-kun. Um, ja ne."

"Ja ne," the blond said with a grin. With a stiff nod to Kurama, Mitarai disappeared into the crowd. Harry toyed with his glass for an awkward moment.

"So… What was that all about?"

"I'll tell you about it later," Kurama murmured, peering intently into the sea of bodies and machines. Harry had a feeling that, whatever it was, Kurama didn't want to talk about it. "We should get Shuichi and go," the redhead said more loudly, rising. "It's getting late."

"Hai!" Harry slid off the stool, grinning as Kurama rolled his eyes, and the two began easing their way through the crowd to find Shuichi.

And thus ends the preview. If you're at all interested in beta-ing for me, email or IM me. It's all provided in the profile