Disclaimer: I don't own Mars or any of the characters, I'm only writing for fun! I am making no money off of this, so please don't sue me! ^_^;;;

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"The Color of You"

By Angel Sentier

It began innocently, as these things sometimes do. Kira approached a blond guy about her age in the park. He was sitting on a bench with a sketch pad before him, his gaze intent on the small children in the sandbox a few feet away.

"Hey."

He looked up, his blue eyes startled at her abrupt greeting, then they widened, but she was used to that sort of reaction. Most people were intimidated at the sight of her leather jacket, tight jeans, and black boots.

"The cemetery is supposed to be around her somewhere, do you know where it is?"

Her brow furrowed slightly when, rather than reply, he flipped a page in the sketchbook and began drawing rapidly. Before she could comment, he tore out the page and handed it to her. On it, he had drawn a map of the area, clearly showing the park, nearby streets, and the cemetery.

When she looked up, he was walking away from her quickly, the wind blowing his blond hair this way and that.

What was that all about? she wondered, shoving her own red hair out of her brown eyes.

* * *

The next day was the start of Kira's senior year at her new high school. Academic pursuits always seemed like such a waste of time to her, though. She'd much rather be out, racing her motorcycle, than have her nose in a book. She often skipped class.

At fourteen, she was the youngest person and the only female to win the prestigious Honda 4-endurance race, where the cyclists race for four hours straight. Agents for motorcycle companies watched her career carefully because of her boundless potential and lack of fear. Kira was a risk-taker. She rode aggressively and had many close calls. She loved that feeling, the rush that came with the knowledge that if she had one slip, it was all over, permanently. Perhaps it was morbid to flirt with death, but she would say that she'd rather be dead if she couldn't ride fast.

Kira liked to ride her motorcycle the same way she rode life, getting as much fun out of it as possible and letting nothing hinder her. She never seemed to have any trouble finding a new guy each week, never staying with one too long, besides, they were all the same. They only wanted one thing. Well, so did she.

She plopped down in the seat Ms. Hanna, the teacher, assigned to her and stuck her hands in the pockets of her jacket. Frowning, she felt something folded up in one of them and pulled it out. It was the map from yesterday, but today she noticed that there was something on the back of it. A beautiful pencil sketch of a mother holding her child, the woman's cheek against the top of the baby's head.

At a loss for words, she stared at the drawing, wishing she could tell that guy how incredible she thought it was. So much warmth in a simple sketch, so much emotion. She was no art critic, but even she knew that it took amazing talent.

"Rei Kashino?" called Ms. Hanna from the front of the room, taking attendance.

"H-here," answered a hesitant voice from beside Kira.

The answer to her wish, there he was, the drawing guy, sitting right next to her.

"I didn't know you went to this school," she said with a half-smile, pleased to find him so close at hand. "Rei, is it? Interesting name. Do you remember me?"

He didn't answer, seeming to stare more intently at his desktop.

"Hey."

Nothing.

Annoyed, she grabbed a fistful of his hair and turned his head toward her. "Why are you ignoring me?"

A hush fell over the classroom. She hadn't even realized that she'd raised her voice. Those blue eyes were wide with shock. Her hand reflexively released its grip on his hair.

The subsequent trip to the principal's and guidance counselor's offices was nothing new, although it was the first time she was sent before the teacher even finished role call.

* * *

"Kira, don't you want to be somebody?" asked Mr. Tachey, the resident guidance officer. "Since you've been here, you've gone from being the top student to causing disturbances in class. Why don't you get serious? We know you could excel if you just tried a little."

"I don't know," she said, tilting her chair back on the hind legs. "Maybe I just lived it up too hard, too early, or maybe I'm just burned out. Either way, it doesn't matter. I don't plan on going to college."

"But your father desperately wants you to go to a university."

She rolled her eyes. "As usual, he doesn't understand me. College is just a training ground for office workers and I have no plans to become one of those."

"Then what are your goals for the future?"

"I want to be popular, I want to get laid, and I just want to party." She almost tilted the chair too far backward when she saw the huge vein sticking out of Mr. Tachey's forehead. "I was only kidding!"

* * *

After school, Kira made her way across campus to the art building. One of the other girls had told her that was where she could find Rei. Apparently, he was almost always in the art building after classes.

The halls looked deserted, her steps echoing on the tile floor. Nearly everyone had gone home already. She went upstairs and opened the door to the still-life modeling classroom.

Stopping dead, her lips parted in a silent gasp. There was Rei, sitting on a stool before an easel, and Ms. Hanna was behind him. One of her hands was inside his partly open shirt, the other was working on the remaining buttons. Rei's eyes stared at Kira, filled with a mixture of fear and shame. His mouth worked open and shut, as though he was trying to say something, but his voice wasn't working.

Ms. Hanna had guiltily looked up in surprise, quickly straightening and clasping her hands behind her back. "Why are you here, Miss Aso?" she said, her voice unnaturally loud. "School is over. You aren't in any art class."

Kira entered the room, letting the door slam shut. Her eyes hardened as she looked at the teacher. "Well, maybe I'll join one. You never know, I might have a hidden talent."

Ms. Hanna stepped back when Kira picked up a box cutter from a table by the door. "What are you doing?"

"Relax. I just thought I'd sharpen this pencil," she said, picking one up from the same table. She focused her cold gaze on Ms. Hanna. "It's not like I was thinking of cutting up your face or anything."

The woman nearly ran from the room. Kira tossed both tools back down and looked at Rei who hadn't even made a move to button his shirt back up. He was just staring at the floor.

"You know, you could have at least said you wanted money if you were going to let her touch you like that," she said. He looked up then and she was surprised to see tears in his eyes.

"Thank you," he said.

She shrugged. "Don't worry about it. I just came to apologize for grabbing your hair earlier. I guess I'm not used to people ignoring me. Oh, and I wanted to give you this." She reached into her pocket and pulled out the folded drawing. "Sorry it got all crumpled, I didn't know there was a picture on the back. You're really talented."

Rei took the picture and looked at it almost absently. "Oh. Well, I'm not that great, but thank you."

"No, seriously. I have no artistic talent myself, so something like this is amazing to me. Did you use a model?"

He shook his head. "It was more the idea from seeing moms and their kids at the park. You can have it, if you want. Once I do the painting, I won't need the sketch anymore."

Kira smiled, surprised at this unexpected gift. "Really?"

"Sure. You can even have the oil painting when it's done."

"Wow, that's awesome!" She grinned, then her expression clouded a bit. "But I can't just take it and give you nothing in return, that wouldn't be right." She thought about what she could give him, brightening after a moment. "I've got it. I'll watch out for you. It's about the only thing I'm good for, being the 'tough chick.'"

He returned her smile hesitantly. "Alright. If you want to."

Laughing, she picked up the bag at his feet. "Come on, I'll walk you out. Oh, there's something else I'm good for," she said as they started down the steps. "I'll lend you my body anytime you want." She winked at him.

Two steps down, he asked, "Kira?"

"Hmm?"

"Will you lend me your body?"

Kira's foot slipped and she fell down the steps, ending on the landing. Sore, but unhurt, she looked up at Rei, surprised. His face was completely red.

"Would you model for me?"

* * *

They began the next day. Kira grabbed a chair as Rei set up an easel and a large sketch pad. The classroom was deserted, but she could hear sounds of basketball being played on the courts below. They were muted though, like their world was set apart from the noise and shuffle of the rest of the earth.

She removed her leather jacket. "Do you want me to take off my clothes?"

Red-faced again, he shook his head quickly. "Umm, just the jacket is fine."

Sitting down in the chair, she pulled her hair out of its ponytail and shook it out. She watched Rei as he began to concentrate.

"So, are you going to go to art school?"

"Oh, no. I'll probably start working once I graduate."

Kira was surprised. "Why? You have so much talent!"

He shrugged slightly. "It's just me and my mom at home, so things can be a little tight. I don't want to be any more of a burden to her than I already am."

There was a long pause. Rei looked so serious behind the art book, she was hesitant to say anything, so she was somewhat startled when he suddenly broke the silence and asked her a question.

"Will you be going to college? I heard you got the highest placement scores in the history of the school."

She rolled her eyes. "Ugh, you sound like a teacher." When he blushed, she felt a little badly for being so blunt and continued. "I didn't even want to take those stupid tests, but my old man said that if I got good scores, I could move out, so I studied."

"Why would you want to leave home so badly?"

"I hate my father," she said. "He treats me like a moron. It pisses me off." Kira swiveled the chair around so she was straddling it and leaned her head on her crossed arms.

"Umm, could you get back in--"

"You should know the difference." She yawned and closed her eyes.

Kira dozed for the rest of that session.

* * *

The trouble started a week later.

"Kira, is it true that Rei is drawing you?" asked one of the guys in their class.

"Naked?" asked another, not bothering to wipe the drool from his face.

She grinned at them. "Yep. And I look even better with my clothes off," she said, adding a second later, "Just kidding!"

But they weren't listening, they were already hounding Rei for the goods. When he showed them the sketches, though, they were disappointed to learn they were all of Kira sleeping... fully clothed.

"Why do you keep drawing her asleep?"

His ears turned red. "That's not exactly by choice."

She felt a tiny bit bad about that, though she couldn't help it if modeling bored her. It was basically the same as tying her to the chair, but she did promise, after all.

"Alright, everyone, take your seats," said Ms. Hanna as she entered the classroom. "We have a lot of work to do." The noise level came down and she began writing French tenses on the board. Turning, she looked across the heads of the students. Her gaze settled on Kira. "Miss Aso. Why don't you conjugate these tenses for us?"

Kira opened one eye then the other before rising to her feet and going to the front of the classroom. She looked over the words on the board, contemplating whether or not to actually put forth effort for this piece of dirt.

Ms. Hanna smirked at her. "What's the matter? Big girl on campus, but not in the classroom?"

She glanced coldly at the teacher, then smiled calmly. Picking up the white board marker, she began to write in neat, even handwriting:

Cette proffeseure, qui semble d'être aimable et bonne, est vraiment perverti qui harcele sexuelment son étudiants mâle.

This teacher, who seems to be kind and good, is really a pervert who sexually harasses her male students.

Kira tossed the marker to Ms. Hanna, but she made no move to catch it, so it fell just short of her. "Sorry to disappoint you, but I took three years of French at my last high school."

The following uproar was loud enough to be heard down the length of the hallway. She made her way back to her seat, but stopped when Rei held out his hand, palm up, to her. She looked at his blushing face, then grinned and slapped him a low five.

Her face gone white, Ms. Hanna left the room and didn't come back for the rest of the day. The gym teacher had to stand in for the remainder of classes. It was found out the next morning that their teacher had quit.

"You didn't do anything to her, did you, Kira?" Rei asked that afternoon during the modeling session.

"No. She ran away before I could do anything." She stretched her arms above her head for a moment. "Do you think we could cut this a little short today? I've got to study if I'm going to pass a make-up exam tomorrow."

"Sure, no problem."

"Damn."

Rei looked up. Kira tilted her head at him.

"I was hoping you'd say no. There's no point to studying. I'll still be dumb, no matter what I do."

He blinked. "You're not dumb. You've just become dumb. I think you're actually a really smart person."

She shook her head. "You're giving me way too much credit. People like Mr. Tachey know me way better than you."

Rei set his pencil down. "You're not stupid or ignorant. If anything, you're very perceptive. It scares me sometimes." Kira was taken aback by this, she never thought Rei was afraid of her, just a little shy. He went on. "Like how you got rid of Ms. Hanna. You have this ability to read people."

"Read people?"

"You know, like when you threatened her with the box cutter."

"Oh. That wasn't a threat. That was for real." She smiled at him. "I was going to cut her if she came at me, but she had no guts at all."

He stared at her. Then he picked up his pencil and began to draw again. Kira sometimes wondered what he saw.

After forty-five minutes, he sat back from the easel with a slight sigh, looking over his work. "You're so beautiful."

Opening her eyes, she stretched to get the kinks out of her back. "You think so?"

"Yeah. Not just your body, it's your eyes. The color of them."

She raised an eyebrow at him. "Poop brown?"

He laughed softly. "No. They're more gold than brown. Like topaz. They suit you. I've never seen anyone else with eyes like yours."

"Take a look at this, then." She got up from her chair and went to her jacket, pulling her wallet from a pocket. Inside was one of those accordion picture books and beneath the plastic film was a photo of two girls around the age of fourteen. Both looked like Kira. "Meet my twin sister. Bet you can't tell which one is me."

"Wait..." He stared at the picture for a few moments, then pointed to the girl on the right. "This one."

Kira blinked. "How can you tell?"

"I was right?" He grinned. "Your mannerisms are the same. See?" He pointed at the arch of her left eyebrow. "This one quirks for just a second when you smile."

It was her turn to stare at the two girls. "You're right. I never even noticed."

"Why doesn't she go to this school, too?"

"She died." Snapping the wallet closed again, she turned to stuff it back in the pocket from whence it came.

"I'm sorry," he said. Those expressive eyes of his filled with real sorrow, which she found strange considering he didn't even know her sister. "You were going to visit her on the day we met, weren't you?"

She gave a short laugh. "Yeah. I'm kind of surprised you would remember a little thing like that."

"Were you alike?"

"Nope. We were complete opposites. She was always getting bullied by our classmates and crying a lot. I constantly had to stick up for her, but since our mom died when we were both really young, I guess she needed somebody to turn to."

"Who do you turn to?"

The question caught her off-guard and she wasn't sure how to answer, she'd never even thought about it.

"When do you cry, Kira?" Knowing even less what to say to that, she was extremely grateful when he changed his line of questioning. "How did she die?"

She could answer that. "She rode motorcycles with me. You'd think it'd be nice to have something in common, huh? But she only did it because I loved it. She liked to spend time with me." Kira walked to the window and looked out at the basketball courts. They seemed far away. "She kept pushing herself to keep up with me. The faster I rode, the harder she tried. One day, we were racing. Just for fun. I went around a turn faster than I'd ever gone before. The bike was almost vertical. It was incredible! When I completed the circuit and came back to the same turn, there she was." She paused, remembering the parts of the bike scattered near the wall, the angle at which many of her sister's limbs were bent. The red hair, so much like her own, spread across the gravel like spilled wine. "She didn't make it."

"That's why your father hates you."

The vision faded as she looked back to Rei, surprised. "Why would you think that?"

"Because your sister only rode to be with you, he blames you for her death, doesn't he?"

"Yeah." She couldn't stop staring at him. "Yeah, he does. Do you?"

He was silent for a minute. "You didn't make your sister go with you. I think she was doing exactly what she wanted to do. It was an accident." He tapped the eraser end of his pencil against his bottom lip, furrowing his brow. "And anyone who would blame a young girl for her sister's death is sick. An adult couldn't cope with something so big, let alone a teenager." His eyes filled with concern. "I know I couldn't do it. I never would have been able to handle seeing a dead body who looked exactly like me."

A slow half-smile touched her lips. It looked like she had her own champion. "It didn't happen overnight. I saw shrinks, supposedly I'm all better, but for a while my nervous system was shot to hell. It took a long time before I could hear an ambulance siren without fainting." She rolled her eyes at herself. "Yeah, me, fainting."

"Everyone knows you're strong, Kira," he said. "But can a person really be that strong? No matter how strong someone is, they always have an Achilles Heel somewhere. Yours is your sister."

"Hmm. I don't know if I like you knowing my weak spot. You might use it against me someday."

He blushed. "I wouldn't do that."

"I don't know. Maybe I'll have to find your weak spot."

"I'm weak all over."

"Don't give me that. You can get pissed too. I saw your face when you called my old man sick, like you thought he was scum. You're tough, in your own way." Walking toward the door, she spoke absently, as though thinking out loud. "So, let's see. What is Rei's weakness?" She snapped her fingers. "Ah! Nice eyes. And I'm the only one in the world with 'topaz eyes.'" She locked the door, then turned and smiled at him.

The confusion in his eyes was easy to see. It was interesting to her that she read almost every one of his emotions through his eyes, but it made sense, being that his eyes were the most expressive part of him. He didn't say much, but his eyes spoke for him, and when he did say something, he made it count. She supposed that his eyes were a subject of fascination for her. They could be downcast with shyness, or serious in concentration, or full of compassion, or a myriad of other things.

Other people had said before that there wasn't a lot to Rei. All he did was draw. But if they had even taken two seconds to really look at him, there were so many more sides to him. He wasn't cold, he cared about so many people, even people he didn't know personally. Someone who created drawings filled with such movement and passion was far from being cold, he simply was so great, he surpassed everyone else and they didn't understand.

Maybe she understood, though. Maybe there was more to her than she let on. Maybe he was right about her. And maybe she was a decent person, just because he thought so.

She pulled her tank top over her head, revealing a black sports bra.

His face began to redden. "Kira?"

Instead of replying, she set the top down by her jacket and propped a boot on the chair to unzip it, the second one following. Those were set next to the top.

"Umm, Kira..."

"Wait."

He fell silent, frozen at the easel, and she sat down, removing her socks. She set them inside her boots and unbuckled her jeans, lowered them, and placed them on top of her shirt. Standing there in her underwear, she locked eyes with him, blue meeting topaz. She never broke the contact as she removed her final items of clothing.

Completely naked, she waited. Waited for him to do something, say something, or walk out. She tilted her head at him, her hair falling over one shoulder.

"You're beautiful, Kira."

Picking up his pencil, he began to draw again, faster than before. She sat down in her chair and watched him as he feverishly made lines and marks on the fresh piece of paper. She watched his eyes when he glanced up at her, but they weren't scarily focused anymore, they were bright with his inspiration.

Neither one of them said a word after that. Rei picked up his paints as some point, but Kira didn't know how long it had been since he started the drawing. He added more and more color and in her mind, she could see the painting coming together, white giving way to rich tone and depth.

When he finally set the brush down, she looked out the window and saw that it was quite dark outside. She got up from the chair and came around the easel to see the finished work.

There she was. He had painted her torso, from about the waist up. Chin tilted at a rebellious angle, her topaz eyes smiling at the viewer, the painted Kira held a secret only Rei knew the answer to. Her hair fell in a waterfall of fire over her shoulder, giving only a tantalizing glimpse of the breast beneath. Covering the other and rising up all around her were strange swirls, circles, and lines in the colors of the sunset, all bumping into each other, fighting for room, like the inside of the human body, with the organs all twisted around each other, but in perfect accord at the same time.

She smiled. So this was how Rei saw her.

"I'm only beautiful because you make me that way."

He returned her smile, but it faded after a moment. "I guess this means you don't have to model for me anymore."

"I guess not."

They looked at the painting for a few minutes, then suddenly, Rei reached into his backpack and pulled out a piece of paper. Taking it from him, she saw that it was the sketch of the mother and child.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I can't paint this. If I paint it, there'll be no excuse for me to see you anymore."

"Rei--"

"It's your sketch. It isn't mine, it's yours. So do what you want with it."

She looked at him for a moment, then looked at the picture. Walking over to her clothes, she fished her lighter out of her pants' pocket. Two clicks and the edge of the drawing caught fire. She held it until the last second, then let it go, the remainder burning up in the air.

"What now?" he asked her.

Tossing the lighter on her clothes, she went back to him. She placed a hand on either of his shoulders, leaned down, and kissed him.

"Let's go somewhere."

* * *

Kira and Rei were an official couple by the time the high school festival came around. Some of the classmates were taking bets on how long they were going to stay together - particularly Kira's many ex-boyfriends.

It was hot out that day, but not the kind of hot that hangs oppressively at head level and makes everyone sleepy. It was almost perfect weather with just a touch of breeze and a few clouds.

Each class had donated time and talent to their own unique addition to the festival. One calls was performing a concert medley, another class had put together a refreshment area, and other classes had thought up carnival games, including a rented dunk tank which held the gym teacher, although it was suspected that he had only volunteered so he could look for a new pitcher.

Rei and Kira's class had decided to have an auction. Hoping to get all the guys to bid highly, the big prize at the end was a ride with Kira on her motorcycle. At first, she protested, saying that her bike got jealous when she let other people ride on it, but Rei told her she should go along with them.

"It's only a ride, after all," he'd said.

For several hours, they traced the stalls of the festival with a group of classmates who weren't helping with the auction. Kira beat all the guys in the free-throw contest while Rei stood at a slight distance and sketched in his ever-present book. She actually had to walk over to him and take away his pencil before he would try some of the games.

All of them sat in the refreshment area much later, sipping lemonade out of yellow, plastic glasses. Kira glanced at Rei as she talked with everyone else. He looked bored - bored, or sleeping with his eyes open. He was looking at his glass, maybe watching the sweat beads chase each other down to the tabletop. Without breaking her sentence or eye contact with the others in the group, she placed her hand over his. Natural. Unobtrusive. She was rewarded with a glance in her direction and a tiny smile.

After a while, most of the group began to head home until it was down to her, Rei, and Harumi. Kira wasn't that close to anyone at school, but she talked to Harumi enough to consider calling her a friend. Harumi was kicked out of the last school with Kira because they had smoked cigarettes in class. That alone merited Kira's respect.

When she came back from the bathroom, she was surprised to hear Harumi talking seriously with Rei in a low voice. They hadn't seen her, a large pillar near the table blocked their view, so she listened in, curious to know what Harumi could possibly need to tell him in her absence.

"To tell you the truth," she was saying, "this is probably her first real relationship."

"But she's gone out with all those other guys..."

"She was biting whatever bait was thrown her way," she said, cutting him off. "Like an animal. Before you, she was always like: get boy, use boy, dump boy, repeat. If you look at it that way, you should probably be commended for transforming Kira."

"But I haven't done anything."

"Love doesn't happen because someone does something for you. It's all about feelings. At first glance, you just see 'Horny Kira' and 'Shy Rei,' but there must be some connection. So you should be bolder about it." Kira heard her laugh softly, Rei must have blushed. "You're thinking 'why did she choose me,' aren't you? But I guess that's what makes you you. It'll probably be hard going out with her, but if you want to talk, I'm here."

"Thank you, Harumi. For someone like me -"

"See! You're doing it again! 'Someone like me.' You know, if you just go along with whatever, you'll become a boyfriend of convenience. You ought to make her work a little harder for you."

Kira chose that moment to come out of hiding, giving them a smile mostly because it was a safe expression and she wasn't sure how to feel about the overheard conversation. "Hey, we should probably head over to the auction, some lucky guy might be winning me as we speak."

As predicted, the bidding for a ride with Kira sky rocketed, going well over two hundred dollars before guys began dropping out. It took even longer when she jokingly started making sexy poses on the stage. Really, it was laughable the way some boys fell over themselves for a little hip thrust or cleavage shot.

When at last one guy won the auction, earning the death glares of many others, Kira turned to Rei. "This shouldn't take too long. Will you wait for me?"

He nodded. "Sure, I'll wait."

* * *

Fifteen minutes later, once she had gotten rid of the lucky winner and his sweaty hands from around her waist, she rode around the school to find Rei. She saw him sitting on a low wall where she usually parked her bike, watching the sun begin to set, turning the clouds the color of his painting. She shut the motor off, pulled off her helmet, and came to sit next to him.

"So, I hear you're a boyfriend of convenience," she said.

He looked surprised, of course, but then nodded seriously. "Yeah. I'll do whatever you say."

Taking his drawing hand, she kissed it lightly. "Don't get tired of me."

"I couldn't. I'm happy just being with you, no matter what we're doing."

She gave him a smile. "Well, shall we go?"

He started to reply, then stopped. "Wait," he said, a bit hesitantly. "Can we wait five minutes? We haven't been alone together all day. I just want to sit with you for five minutes. Is that okay?"

She watched as he fidgeted with his hands and bite his lower lip slightly. She couldn't believe it. Did he actually think he was being selfish for asking this of her? This incredible person who believed in the worst in himself and the best in her was afraid she would say no. With two fingers, she tilted his face to hers and kissed him softly.

"Okay."

They sat on the wall together for much more than five minutes and watched the sunset's colors fade from fire to pastel, from pastel to black velvet. Kira leaned against him and rested her head against his shoulder, counting his heartbeats, listening to him breathe. Reaching out, Rei held her small hand in his.

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