I do not, unfortunately, own FLCL. I wish I did, but oh well. Enjoy anyways, and please review. I want to know what to improve.

Haruko was gone. Finally. I'll admit that I was sorry to see her go, but I was still glad she left. The monsters still appeared every once in a while, but I didn't have to listen to her and my father, or put up with the abuse. I know it's been a while, but in some ways it still feels like yesterday.

She's been gone for almost four years now, but Kanchi and I have continued fighting monsters. Just barely six months after she left, the Medical Meccanica building was somehow rebuilt and the creatures and robots started to appear again. The things appear at about the rate of about one every month, so there's plenty of time to relax between fights.

My father moved to America to live with my brother about a year after Haruko left chasing Atomsk. He just couldn't seem to bear life around here without her. On the bright side, I've been running the bakery with Grandpa. Now that I'm old enough to actually have a real job and be paid for it, I've been working full-time in my grandfather's bakery.

My group of friends is nearly gone; the two guys moved out with their parents, but the dark haired Eri Ninamori stayed; she moved into my bakery/home when her parents moved after her father failed his attempt to be reelected mayor. I stayed in my old bedroom, and allowed her to move into my dad's old room. Of course, she didn't tell her parents that she would be moving into my house. It goes without saying that they would have freaked if they had found out she was moving into my house. As a matter of fact, they would have freaked if they had found out she was my friend. They're weird like that.

Anyway, Eri works with me now. Sometimes in the bakery with my grandfather, sometimes delivering stuff with me. Surprisingly, she doesn't complain about any of the things she has to do; she does seem to enjoy giving me more to do whenever she could, usually with a smirk.

Right now, I'm about a month overdue for a monster. The last two months have been quiet, with no activity in the Medical Meccanica center. I've been reading the newspapers, though, and it seems like a lot of people have just disappeared into the night. There have been nearly twenty such cases in the last sixty days. So, I was planning on going out to see what was up, to see if it was the monster I was waiting for or if it was just some depraved lunatic.

Up in my room, the only gear I grabbed was a jacket and my guitar. Which one? The one that Haruko left behind. I've learned to play some music on it, but it is still the most powerful weapon at my disposal. I threw it's sling over my shoulder and closed my bedroom door behind me, then walked down the stairs and through our living space.

Eri and Grandpa were sitting down and eating dinner. I had eaten earlier, so I declined Eri's offer when she asked if I was hungry. When I entered the room, neither of them said anything.

I was just passing the table when Eri spoke up. "Patrolling again?" she asked around a mouthful of noodles.

"Yeah," I nodded, coming to a stop but not looking at them.

Grandpa paused in his eating. "Alone?"

I nodded. "There shouldn't be anything out tonight. So I gave Kanchi the night off. He's probably down next to the river or something right now."

Eri scooped up some more noodles. "Careful, then," she said, then went back to eating her dinner. I picked up my hat from a nearby chair, then walked out the door.

It was a typical night. Mostly clear, with some clouds here and there. I hopped on my new moped, and started to drive in the direction of the bridge. No more monsters had come out of me since Haruko had left, and I wasn't sure where all of these new ones were coming from. Eri had volunteered to brainstorm on that, but so far had no ideas.

I parked the Moped near the bridge, then walked out onto the structure, lost in the past. I told Haruko that I loved her just before she left, and I think that was true. In the years since, I had come to realize that at that point I really had loved her, but the love of a twelve year old child wasn't any kind of love other than the love of a friend.

Once I had come to realize that, I had started to date people. I've had three whole relationships since then, and all had ended in disaster. Disaster, namely, meant that the girl freaked out when, in the middle of a date, I would have to fight some unimaginable creature that was threatening the city. My date would run away screaming, and I would go home angry after the fight. Grandpa and Eri always had the same response: they would shrug and call the girl a wuss. This coming from Eri who hardly saw the things Kanchi and I fought, and from Grandpa who hadn't seen any.

Having Eri live at my house was a blessing beyond anything Haruko ever was. Eri wasn't a housekeeper, but it was really nice to have a study partner in the house who was taking all of the same classes I was at the high school. Grandpa teased me about having her around once, but since I hit him over the head with my guitar, he hasn't said anything like it since.

It was sort of nice when Haruko had been staying in my room, on the nights that she wasn't in my father's with him. We would talk (by that I mean she would make fun of me and tease me and I would deny it all), and it was nice to have someone there I was somewhat close to. Eri, on the other hand, hardly said anything to me unless I said something first. I did, occasionally, find her looking at me and on the times where I caught her she just smirked and went back to what she was doing.

When I snapped out of my thoughts, I realized that I was nearly a mile away from my Moped. A glance at my watch showed that it was nearly one o'clock in the morning, and I groaned and started jogging back toward the bridge. I had wasted the entire night I was supposed to be patrolling thinking about Eri and Haruko. And why? They were both just girls. Okay, one was a somewhat evil alien from some other planet and the other was a rather spoiled child of rich parents, but they were both female.

I shook my head and climbed on my Moped. Why was I thinking about them so much now? Sure, I was constantly thinking of Haruko, but more and more Eri was entering those thoughts. I started the bike and sped home.

When I got there, it was no surprise that all of the lights were out. I let myself in the front door and locked it behind me, then pulled my guitar strap over my head. With the instrument in hand, I walked back up the stairs toward my room.

I walked past the door to Eri's room, then stopped cold. For some reason, the light was still on in there, and I knew for a fact that she went to bed at the latest of eleven. I peeked in through the crack in the open door, and saw that she had fallen asleep in a chair facing the door. I'm not sure why, but I leaned my guitar against the wall in the hallway and pushed the doorway open. I walked over to where she was sleeping, and awkwardly picked her up. I carried the sleeping girl over to her bed and laid her down on it, then pulled a blanket up over her. She muttered something in her sleep, then latched onto my hand.

All of a sudden, I felt a twinge of panic. Was she waking up? When she saw me in her room, she'd probably throw a book at me or something, then make life miserable for the next year. But my worries were unfounded. She remained asleep, and rolled over.

I tried to extricate my hand from her death grip, and finally succeeded after nearly five minutes of trying. I stood there next to the bed and felt an unexplainable feeling of tenderness as I watched her sleeping. Instead of the usual look of disinterest that she wore, she had a small smile on her lips as she seemed to melt into the bed.

I watched her sleep for a few minutes, then snapped off the light and crept back to the door. Just when I was getting ready to close it, she whispered something else and I froze, afraid she was waking up. When she didn't say anything else, I finished closing the door, then picked up my guitar and finished the walk to my room. I didn't bother getting undressed, I just fell onto the bottom bunk and stared at the bed above me.

Now I was a little confused. Did I hear what I thought I had? Did it mean anything? Why would she have whispered "Naota" while she was sleeping?

Why would she whisper my name?