Promenade
by Apple-chan

Disclaimer: (you know, witty remarks and such)
Summary: Four couples, one perfect night...or is it? A 5-act tale on how four young men and four young women fall in love at the night of their Junior-Senior Prom. YXA, RXP, LXJ, and HXT.
Scene Notes: Something along the lines of HoroxTamao.
Warnings: Hao's appearance and eventual takeover of this particular scene. As if you didn't know.(sigh)
Note: Huzzah to you if you're still reading this. It means you're more dedicated than I am. Heh.:)
-

ACT III: Set.
-

SCENE 4: The Worst Kind of Luck.

-

"I'm bored," Hao announced, yawning for the fifteenth time that night since Yoh and Anna left. He stretched his arms for a bit and leaned more comfortably against the pillar near the staircase at the front porch of the Asakura home. Fifteen minutes have passed since his twin and Anna had left, as indicated by the number of times he has yawned. This basically means that the long-haired Asakura yawns once every minute—most likely on purpose, just to give his companion a heads-up.

Said companion happens to be Tamamura Tamao. Currently, she was on the front porch right beside Hao, on a chair that the he had thoughtfully provided for her (he was not about to allow a young lady in a dress to sit on a dirty front porch, thank you very much). The exact time at the present moment was twenty past seven—fifteen minutes since Yoh and Anna had left, and around forty minutes before the Prom officially starts.

Tamao flashed Hao an apologetic look, glanced at her watch, then folded her hands together and let out a sigh. "You don't really have to wait with me, Hao-niisan," she said quietly. "You can go ahead; I don't mind waiting for Horo-sempai alone…"

Hao leaned over and patted her head gently. "I'm not going anywhere," he said firmly. "…Not until I see you off safely. I don't care how long it takes him to get here. Actually," he cracked his knuckles, "if he takes TOO long, I'm going to give him a piece of my mind."

Tamao stared at his knuckles for a moment, then looked up at him. "You don't need to use your hands if you want to give him a piece of your mind."

"On the contrary," he flashed her a wicked grin. "Once he gets here, I'm going to have a hell of a lot of fun with him…." He gave a laugh that sounded so demonic, even he was impressed.

Tamao wasn't, however. "Hao-niisan…"

Hao sighed. "Yeah, I know. I'm just bored." He gave another yawn, just to prove his point. "Give me something to do, quick."

"Try combing your hair again," she suggested.

He shook his head. "That'd put me to sleep, for sure." He glanced at his watch. "Just what time does Horo-kun intend to get here, anyway?"

"I don't know," Tamao glanced at the gates, watching keenly to see if anyone was approaching. "He said seven, but…he probably won't leave until he sees Pilica-chan off safely, and knowing Horo-sempai, he'd have a lot of things to say to Ren-kun before he'd let them leave…"

"…Not that it would help them any, of course," Hao added dryly.

"Maybe not, but..." she paused. Try as she might, it wasn't that easy to defend any of the things that Horohoro did, especially since they tended to border on unreasonable or exaggerated most of the time. "He means well, you know. It's just that his methods are sometimes—"

"—Stupid?" Hao supplied. "Foolish? Brainless? Idiotic? Or maybe—"

"Questionable," Tamao said, raising her voice slightly while giving him a warning look—a rare thing for someone of her demeanor. Maybe she couldn't defend the things that Horohoro does, but…she could at least defend his name, even just a tiny bit. "It's because he usually acts on instinct instead of thinking things over first. So everything he does are usually—"

"—Outrageous?" Hao offered.

The pink-haired girl sighed. "I wasn't going to say that."

"…In other words, you need to be there to keep him in line."

Tamao nodded, slightly surprised at the declaration but pleased all the same. "Exactly."

Hao observed her thoughtfully for a moment, then stretched his arms and yawned again. "Lucky guy, eh?" He commented, referring to Horohoro. "If he's got you, he couldn't ask for anything more now, could he?"

She could feel a slight blush stain her cheeks. She and Horohoro were best friends, period. That's what she believed in.

And yet for some reason, Hao's statement shook that belief. There's a limit to how friends treat and regard each other. Horo-sempai and I, we've never crossed that limit…have we?

A certain part of her was threatening to answer yes, yes you have, lots of times.

"Anyway, does he intend to walk all the way from his house to here?" Hao asked, breaking through her musings.

"Um. Well," Tamao looked at him, wondering the same thing. She and Horohoro didn't exactly talk about that.

"Hm." Hao took the silence as a yes, his eyebrow rising slightly in concern. "…Does he also intend to have the two of you walk from here all the way to school?"

"I don't know," she answered honestly.

Hao slapped his forehead with exasperation. "Great. That's just great. You don't know, and I'm sure he doesn't know either." He gave her a dismayed look. "How could you let this happen? How could he let this happen?"

"Um…I don't know?" She said again. It wasn't like she could have said anything else in this situation, anyway…and yes, actually…she was supposed to be smart and yet…how come she forgot to think about this?

"Look," Hao was now pacing back and forth along the front porch, rubbing his forehead the whole way, "I don't really care about him. If he wants to go to the Prom and back on foot, that's fine with me. But…" he gazed at her seriously, "he's not going to drag you along with him. Not if I have anything to say about it."

"But…Hao-niisan, how—"

"I don't know either," he interrupted. "I only have one first class Spirit of Fire, and Yoh and Anna are using that one, so it's out of the question." He sighed with irritation. "Damn, I'm really going to kill him when he gets here."

"Hao-niisan," she began, "I don't really mind walking—"

"No." He said firmly. "If I say no, then NO. Okay? No objections." A pause. "There's no way I'm going to let you walk all over town like that…and if I have to force him to carry you all the way from here to school and back, then I WILL." He gave her a look. "Understood?"

Tamao nodded meekly.

"Good. Now," Hao crossed his arms over his chest, and stood in front of the porch like a sentry, "where the hell is he?"

-

Pausing abruptly, Horohoro paused to sneeze, wiped his nose with a tissue, and then broke off into a dash once more. It was over fifteen minutes since he left his house, and right now, he was running late, for obvious reasons. Every five seconds, he couldn't help but mentally scold himself for being stupid enough to take his time in waiting for Pilica, and in lecturing Ren. He should have just made a list of do's and don'ts in the first place. If he had, then all he would have needed to do was slap the list in Ren's face and then go. But nooo…he just had to be overprotective.

Not that it was his own fault. It was just that seeing his sister together with Ren earlier made him forget about everything, for some reason. Why if he could, he would have attached himself to Pilica in order to guard her against Ren's sticky hands the whole night. Something was different tonight; he could feel it.

The second Pilica reminded him of Tamao, he was brought back to his senses. He had promised to pick her up—and he had promised to pick her up exactly at seven. Now that he thought about it, "exactly seven" would have been possible if and only if he had left the house at around six-thirty at least. Tamao's house was way on the other side of town, just a few blocks from Ren and Lyserg's neighborhood. But from Horohoro's house, it takes around ten minutes by bicycle.

Now that he thought about it, why in the hell hadn't he thought about commissioning transportation for him and Tamao just for this day? It wouldn't have taken much work. His father did have a car he could have borrowed. If he had been smarter in planning all this then he could have asked for permission, but noo…and it was too late, because his father had taken the car earlier in the day and was probably off doing slave work for Ren's dad. His other option would have been to ask either Lyserg or Ren, but the two were on the way to the Prom now, so it was more than a little too late.

He cursed himself mentally. Ten minutes by bike. By bike. Just how much difference was there between riding his bike to Tamao's house and walking to get there? He was stupid enough to forget. Just what guy in his right mind would allow a lady in a dress to ride a bike to the Prom? Obviously, he wasn't in his right mind. This was first and foremost thing he should have thought about.

Well, it's too late now. Running was his final and desperate option. He could rival a bike with his speed, and he could run several kilometers without breaking much sweat, but…the problem was when he gets to Tamao's house. What will he do—carry her in his arms and then run in that condition?

Horohoro broke into a stop at that thought. Actually, if I were desperate enough, that wouldn't be such a bad idea. IF I were desperate, but I'm not…not yet. I mean, the way I'm going, I can get there within eight minutes. And within that time period, nothing bad could possibly happen…

Just when he was about to break into a run again, a car zoomed by, running over a puddle of water in the process…

…And as luck would have it, splashing Horohoro's pristine white Prom clothing with dirty, muddy water in the process.

Horohoro glanced at his clothes, at the puddle of water, at his clothes again, and then finally, at the sky.

Things can't possibly get any worse than this.

-

"Seven-twenty-three," Hao announced, tapping his watch meaningfully and flashing Tamao a look. "…Pray tell me: does he actually intend to get here, or is he just making fun of you?"

Tamao's eyes widened. "Make fun of me…? Horo-sempai will never do that. Never," she punctuated her statement with a vigorous shake of her head.

"Oh?" He raised a disbelieving eyebrow. "How can you be sure of that? I mean for all you know, right now he could be hiding at that corner over there," he gestured at the front gates of the Asakura Estate, "and laughing his heart out. At your expense. I've seen it happen before, believe me."

"Hao-niisan!" Her eyes widened with horror. "Horo-sempai would never ever ever make fun of me!" She said defensively. "I admit that he can be a bit…stupid sometimes, but that's as far as it goes! He would never hurt anyone, not on purpose! He's a very, very kind person!" Her eyes flashed brightly as she said this. "…And more to the point, he'll never ever ever make fun of anyone!"

"…Especially not you." Hao said dryly.

"That's right!" Tamao agreed with conviction. Then, when she realized what exactly Hao had said, her cheeks flamed. "I mean, not me especially, but…people in general! Horo-sempai isn't the type to do that kind of thing!"

Hao let out a laugh. "I know." He patted her head fondly. "I was teasing you."

She frowned at him. "It's not very nice to say such things, Hao-niisan."

A shrug. "I know."

Her brows furrowed. "…Then why did you?"

"To rile you up?" He suggested. "Like I told you earlier: I'm bored." He yawned for emphasis. "If he doesn't get here any sooner, I'll either fall asleep, die of boredom, or kill you with my stupid smart-ass comments." A grin.

"I told you, you really don't have to wait for me…"

"AND I told you that no matter what happens, I will wait." This time, his voice was firm. "As your big brother, it's my responsibility to give him a thorough beating and tongue-lashing once he gets here. If he intends to get here," he added with a small frown.

"He'll be here for sure," Tamao said confidently. "He's just a little late…"

"A LITTLE? I wouldn't call twenty-five minutes just a little late, you know."

"Uh. You've got a point." Actually, for the length of time she's known Horohoro, she never remembered him ever being this late, every single time they had to meet.

Then again, this isn't just any other meeting, is it? It's a very special one, because he's meeting with you. Perhaps that's the reason, don't you think…?

"Does he have a cell phone?" Hao's voice broke through her thoughts once again. "…He does, right?" He gave her a "if-you-say-he-doesn't-I-won't-believe-you" look.

"Yes. Yes, but—"

"Don't tell me he doesn't use it?!" Hao's eyes were wide in horrified amazement.

"…He does! Sometimes. I mean rarely. I mean…he's always in a hurry when we have school, so he always forgets to take it with him—"

"What's his number?"

"—so, if I'm guessing it correctly, he's probably in a hurry right now and on his way here, so I'm thinking he might have forgotten—"

"Tamao." Hao tapped her forehead and gave her a firm look. "His number. Give it to me." He seemed to have produced a cell phone from out of nowhere. "I can't believe I didn't think of this earlier, but anyway…you do know it, right?" He held out the expensive looking black phone to her.

She took the phone hesitantly, punched in the numbers and handed it back to him. "Hao-niisan, I told you, he might not have brought it with him and—"

He raised a finger to shush her. "Quiet." He pushed the speaker button, thereby allowing Tamao to hear the ring at the receiving end of the line. Her Horo-sempai's end. She remained in silence, glancing warily at her Hao-niisan as a dark smile gradually began to spread across his face.

Much to the surprise of the both of them, at the third ring, a voice answered. "Yeah?" Horo-sempai. "Who's this?" Oh yeah, it was definitely him.

Definitely him, and…was he panting?

"Hn." Hao sneered. In a voice only Tamao could hear, he muttered, "You are so dead, my dear boy."

-

I hate running. Since when have I ever liked running? I hate it. I hate it, hate it, hate it…

After dashing hastily back to his house, changing into clean white Prom clothing (luckily his mother had bought two pairs of the white pants and two of the formal shirt for him), Horohoro again proceeded to run. Right now, every second counted and right now, he had no time to lose. Still, he really really had to think of how the heck he was going to take Tamao to the Prom. What other options did he have?

…Bike? Take her to the Prom on bike, are you kidding? You've really lost it, haven't you? Some former-soccer-star-turned-school-paper-chief you are…

Again, Horo was reminded of how much he hated running.

No actually, he liked running, didn't he? That was the reason he had played soccer in the first place—because of the running involved in it, right? And if he hadn't become a soccer player, he would have probably been on the track team. More importantly, if he didn't have that stupid accident the previous year, he would still be playing soccer right now.

Quit reminiscing about the past, you idiot. Remember the current situation. Remember the current problem.

And oh yeah, did I mention that I really hate running?

If he could have kicked himself on the head right now, he would have. But he contented himself on running, at lightning-fast speed, as a way to punish himself. He took notice of his surroundings briefly, realizing that he was already halfway to Tamao's home. He patted himself mentally on the back for his impressive running skills.

None too shabby, for a retired high school soccer star. Why, if you go on like this, you can easily go back to the team, lead it to nationals again, and then get the Most Valuable Player title again…

He really, really, really should kick himself on the head right now. What the heck was he doing, dreaming about going back to the soccer team when he should be thinking about more important things? Like the Prom. Like his current transportation dilemma. Like Tamao.

Tamao. The truth was, he didn't want to think about her, or about any of it. Thinking meant admitting to himself how many mistakes he had made the whole day. Thinking meant admitting to himself that he was a failure in this whole Prom-date-planning thing. Thinking meant admitting to himself that he was probably going to disappoint Tamao again, as if she weren't disappointed enough in him already.

Thinking meant admitting to himself that, not only did he have the worst kind of luck, but that he himself was the worst kind of person there ever was in this world.

Yes. Thinking meant all sorts of things, with practically all of them being mainly bad things. Actually, Tamao was the only good thing about all this. Or scratch that, she was the best thing. The most wonderful thing about her was that, no matter how much of a failure, no matter how unlucky, and even if he was the worst kind of person in the world…she would still accept him. She would still smile and say okay, it's all right. That, despite his many failures, his mistakes…she would still forgive him. In fact, even now, even if he was…more than twenty minutes late, she was probably still waiting for him. And with a smile, nonetheless. She was that type of person.

That's the strangest thing. I love that about her, and yet at the same time, I hate it too. That part of her. Because it makes me realize even more how much of a failure I really am.

In other words, to him, Tamao was a double-edged sword.

…Or that was probably just his imagination.

Anyway, whether it was true or not, he just couldn't stay away from her. She was as much as part of his life as Pilica was.

And speaking of which, that little sister of his was a double-edged sword, too…

RRRRRINNNGGG!!! RRRRRINNNGGG!!!

With only about one fourth of his total distance from Tamao's house left remaining, something started vibrating and ringing inside his pocket, freezing him in his tracks. Something that sounded like…

My cell phone!? So that's where it was! What's it doing in my pocket?!?

Horohoro remembered, vaguely, that his mother had slipped something inside his pocket before he went out—that was probably it. His cell phone.

He shrugged. Like he really had time to answer his phone at the moment. Ignoring the stupid vibrating and ringing, he began to run again…

RRRRRINNNGGG!!! RRRRRINNNGGG!!!

"Dammit," he muttered. Left with no choice, he decided that running even as he answered the phone was his only option. Raising the phone to his ear, he pushed the "answer" button. "Yeah?" He didn't know how he was managing to run while holding the phone, but he pulled it off. "Who's this?"

"…YOU IDIOT!!!" A loud blaring male voice shouted from the receiver, practically bursting his eardrum. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!? WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU?!? DO YOU EVEN INTEND TO GET HERE?!? I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!!!"

Horohoro had instantly frozen in his spot at the second he heard the voice. He recognized it from somewhere, but… "Who are you?" His eardrum was still ringing.

The person on the other end didn't answer his question. "I'm going to KILL YOU for making TAMAO wait!" The voice was threatening, sharp, and…why, if he didn't know better, he'd say that it was actually Kyouyama Anna, Tamao's cousin, only…with a male voice.

Anna with a male voice?!? He really was losing it. "Eh? Who are you?" He asked again.

He heard something that sounded like a growl at the other end of the line. "It's HAO, you FUCKING IDIOT."

"Oooh…" That's why the voice sounded so familiar. Hao's voice was distinctly similar to Yoh's, except for a few minor nuances. Particularly, the tone and vocabulary. Hao's voice held a tinge of arrogance to it, while Yoh's held none; and also, Hao's vocabulary was much more…colorful. Horohoro knew for a fact that there was no way he'd ever find Yoh talking like this.

Actually, that's not the current problem, is it?!? "Wait a second…what are you doing with Tamao?!?"

"What do you THINK I'm DOING, you STUPID MORON?! I'm TRYING to ENSURE that she GETS to the Prom SAFELY. Where the HELL are YOU?!"

Horohoro cringed. He had no idea that Hao could be really, really loud when he was angry. Not that he really would have ever cared to find out, but…well, apparently he was finding out now.

So, basically, I have two enemies. One, the overprotective and homicidal cousin slash older sister Kyouyama Anna; two, the overprotective and freakily animalistic and possibly homicidal self-proclaimed older brother Asakura Hao…not that this really is the time to be thinking about these things. "I'm three blocks away. Stop shouting at me! I'm on my way there."

"Well GOOD!" Hao ignored him and shouted again. "Now listen CAREFULLY: If you don't GET your GOD-DARNED sad SORRY FREAKING fucking INTELLECTUALLY-CHALLENGED SELF over HERE in under TWO MINUTES I am GOING to RAM my EXPENSIVE leather BOOTS down YOUR ESOPHAGUS, you GOT THAT?!?!?"

Horohoro gulped. Okay…one thing he definitely knew for sure: that threatening-and-seriously-scary tone did not exist in the least bit in Yoh's voice. Hao definitely sounded like he really could kill. "G…got it," he managed.

"GOOD." He could practically see Hao smiling evilly at the other end of the line. "…Now START RUNNING!!!"

At the instant Hao hung up on him, he began to run, faster than the speed of light.

-

"H-Hao-niisan!" Tamao's eyes were wide with horror as she stared back and forth between her long-haired pseudo-brother and his cell phone. "I know he's terribly late and all, but you really didn't have to threaten him like that!"

"Yes I did." Hao said matter-of-factly, pretending to examine his nails, before turning back to Tamao with a normal, innocent expression. "…To tell you frankly, I think I was a little too soft with him." He shrugged. "I should have given him more of an ultimatum…like say, threatened to tear him from limb to limb and feed him to vultures and whatnot." He paused, thoughtfully. "Or maybe I should have threatened to cut off his—"

"Hao-niisan!!!" Tamao covered her ears in attempt to block off any more of Hao's utterly barbaric and murderous intents towards her Horo-sempai. Overly or not, surely Horo did not deserve to be submitted to any of Hao's punishments! Certainly not!

Hao must have seen the expression on her face, for his face softened visibly, and he flashed her a warm, reassuring smile. "…Actually, on second thought…"

Tamao looked up at him hopefully. "…On second thought…?"

A second later, that familiar evil grin came back to Hao's face. "…Perhaps I should just mention the word 'castration' so he'd come running right over here in a f—"

Just then, a white blur with a sky-blue top rushed past Hao, nearly running him over as it went straight to Tamao.

"I'm SORRY I'm SORRY I came here as fast as I could I'm really SORRY Please forgive me I didn't mean to be this late and I know that's no excuse but I'm really really SORRY I didn't really do this on purpose I'M SORRY PLEASE FORGIVE ME!!!" And there he was, Tamao's sempai. Her knight in shining armor. Currently down on the ground, in front of her. On bended knees.

…And with the heel of a shiny dark boot digging on top of his head.

"Hao-niisan!!!" Tamao was more than just horrified, she was downright terrified. Too scared to glance behind her at the owner of the boot, she focused on Horohoro instead. "S…sempai…are you…?"

"I'm fine," the blue-haired boy managed, even though he was definitely several hundred light years away from being fine. If Tamao could have guessed, she could swear he was just about ready to faint...and it was probably not due to exhaustion. She could see him taking several deep breaths. Quick, deep breaths. And then a long, long one…before he raised his eyes, swallowed, and then spoke. "Uh…Hao?"

"Yes?" That tone was sweet as sugar, but Tamao knew better. It was her Hao-niisan's trademark Tone of Death.

Swallowing once more, Horohoro pointed feebly at the boot digging on his head. "Do you mind…?"

This time, Tamao dared to look at Hao. Big mistake. His smile turned even sweeter, and he dug the boot even more viciously into Horohoro's head. "Not at all."

Horohoro winced. "I…I said I was sorry…"

"Then APOLOGIZE until you DIE."

"I…I can't do THAT!"

"And WHY NOT?!"

"HAO-NIISAN!!!" Tamao wrung her hands together, nervously approaching her pseudo-older brother and thinking up of possible ways to plead this case with him. Save Horohoro from further bodily harm…even if she had to sacrifice herself to do it. "H-Hao-niisan…" in a softer tone, she gave him a look worth a thousand million pleas. "Let him go. For…for ME. Please…"

Hao studied her thoughtfully for about half a second...and then, with an, "Okay," he promptly removed the boot that was digging into Horohoro's head and walked away.

Leaving Tamao—and most especially Horohoro—utterly surprised, yet equally relieved. They glanced at each other, then simultaneously glanced once more at Hao's departing figure. As if he had sensed them looking at him, he raised his hand in what was obviously a wave.

"Eh," as Hao's figure finally disappeared from their sight, Horohoro spoke. As he looked at Tamao now, all his remaining courage and excuse and his ability to speak coherently seemed to have left him. "Uhm. That was weird," was all he managed, in reference to Hao.

Tamao flashed him an apologetic smile. "He said he was bored," was her explanation. It was the only possible excuse for Hao's behavior, under the circumstances. And anyway, Hao was well-known for being eccentric, so…

"Uhm…" Horohoro scratched his head nervously, really at a loss for words. Heck, he couldn't even look at Tamao straight. He wasn't sure if it was because he felt so ashamed, or because she was so beautiful that looking at her hurt. It was probably a little bit of both.

"We should probably go," Tamao said suddenly, a bright smile beaming on her face. Yep, looking at her definitely hurt. Now he wanted to run away, rap his head against the wall until it bleeds, and hold her into his arms and never let go—all at the same time. "…Horo-sempai? We'll be really really late if we don't go now," she went on, but he barely heard it. He was still too busy staring at her beautiful face.

And debating on which of his three options he should go with. "You did say we need to cover the whole Prom, and—" A gasp was all he head next, and he wondered why.

…Well he shouldn't have wondered why. He had moved on impulse, and obviously…obviously this was what his body and mind had agreed to do.

"S-sempai…" Tamao's body froze in Horohoro's arms. She didn't know whether to hug him back or push him away. Instinct told her to push him away, but…she really didn't have the strength to. And she really didn't want to.

"I'm sorry," Horohoro was murmuring against her. "I'm sorry I made you wait so long. I got hold up. I know it's no excuse but..." he sighed, helplessly, "…if you don't forgive me I don't know what I'll do, so…please forgive me?"

Tamao smiled, and this time, she allowed herself to hug him back. "…Yes. Yes, I forgive you." How could she not, when he was like that?

"R…really?"

"Uh-hm," her smile widened further. "…Besides, Hao-niisan punished you enough for me."

Horohoro winced, remembering the pain of that ordeal. "Oh. Oh yeah. Right."

-

"Ne, Sempai…" Tamao began as they exited the Asakura Estate and prepared to head out.

"Hmm?"

"Um…how are we going to get to the Prom?"

And at that, Horohoro winced. Crap. He forgot about that.

-

-TO BE CONTINUED-

-

A/N:

I haven't figured out either how they're supposed to go to the Prom (sweatdrop) but I'll get there.:)

Again, if you're still reading this, you're a lot more dedicated than I am.:) So thanks thanks to you!

Again again, check my fic journal (linked up at my profile) for ffnet unposted fics. Please comment!

I won't make any promises anymore for the next chapter, just that I hope to get it out soon. Please keep posted!:)