Prologue

The furry critter just showed up one day. As unlikely as it may sound, I must have left my door unlocked before I went to Jindai High because when I came back, the door was ajar. Initially, I postulated the prospect of a thief, so I kept my Glock 17 held firmly in one hand. Using my other, I gently pushed the door open and peered into the room. It was exactly the way I left it…except for the presence of a bundle of fur on my compact bed. Feeling a great relief overcome me, I closed the door as softly as I could muster. From what I could discern, it was just another stray, an animal that had outgrown its adorable appearance and thrown onto the streets.

I didn't want to frighten the poor creature; back when I was in Afghanistan, there had been many animals not like the one I see before me. They could usually be found near alleys or nearby dumpsters ravaging for food. I used to befriend them, seeing as I had no friends or family. Somehow, I felt a kinship with the strays and the creature that I see before me reminded me of my childhood.

I slowly lowered my weapons bag but as soon as I set it down, the cat sprang to it feet. It must've been on its own for a long time, I concluded as he noticed its tattered tail and many bodily scars. There was a spot near its hind leg where the fur didn't grow anymore.

My eyes were transfixed on the cat. It crouched down, as if ready to bolt to the open door the first chance it gets, when I got closer and extended my hand. I stopped, my hand merely an inch to the cat. It would be ill advised to assume that it has had all its shots, and the remedy that ails a rabies-infected human is less than inviting.

The cat advanced slowly, its eyes fixed onto my own. I held my breath, doing everything in my power to desist blinking, which made my eyes feel chapped. Then, as vigilant as can be, it sniffed my outstretched hand, later licking my index finger. I allowed my hand to explore the vast regions of the feline's pelt. Soon, I found myself focusing my attention entirely on the cat.

Then out of the blue, the telephone rang. The cat must've been startled by it as it jumped off the bed and scurried to the first place it thought it could conceal itself: under a pile of my tarnished uniform.

I answered the phone. It was Kaname, and she was utterly upset about something. She couldn't describe the situation that had gotten her distressed, and so I took it as my cue to go over to her place to neutralize the situation.

The cat eyed me all the way to the door and let out a soft meow.

I raced across the street, climbed four sets of stairs, and found myself in front of Kaname's door within three minutes. Slightly panting, I knocked on the door. When I heard no reply, my worst fears got the better of me. I soon found myself kicking the chest wood door off its hinges. Brandishing my Glock 17, I scrambled into the usually neat apartment of Kaname Chidori.

I scanned the kitchen, noticing the waxy clean textile immediately. She must have mopped the marble since the chili-bean-in-a-can incident two days before. Kaname had requested for my assistance in the kitchen, and since I had little prior culinary expertise, she instructed me to unbolt a few cans of chili. After receiving a lesson on how to operate a can opener, I soon found myself deeply immersed in the task. As soon as I left my guard down, I heard a constant ticking near the bowl of chili, confirming my worst fear.

Somebody had sent Chidori a bomb package!

Quickly, I sprang into action. I notified Kaname of the situation, grabbed her wrist, and pulled her out of hazard's way. Unfortunately, I was the one in danger as I felt the stinging smack of her paper fan. On my way down to the ground, a grenade escaped from under my sleeve. It was a new method that I was testing in the field; the pin of the grenade would be pulled as soon as it came out of my sleeve. And unfortunately, the miniature explosive found itself in the bowl of chili lover's chili. The bowl exploded, covering Chidori, myself, and every inch of the kitchen with chili.

The event that followed still remains a mystery to me. I found myself regaining consciousness on the sidewalk near my apartment, my weapons bag not far away. It must be her time of the month, I surmised as I picked up the bag and headed up to my domicile. Although my job entails less exposure to the opposite gender, Sgt. Major Mao had once given me a lecture about the female psyche and about the one week in every month that keeping Weber out of her sight would be in the best interest of the De Danaan. Kurtz, who was eavesdropping on our conversation, dropped by and asked Melissa about giving a lecture on the female physique and requested that a visual demonstration be in order. I had to physically hold her back from shoving Kurtz into a torpedo chamber and using him as a torpedo for target practice.

Seeing that the kitchen was empty, I proceeded onto the bedroom. I stopped dead in my tracks in front of the closed door and stared apprehensively at the doorknob. Dubiously, I laid my hand upon the handle.

"SOUSUKE!" screeched Kaname. I let go of the door handle immediately as if it were wired up to a shock box. Dutifully, I turned my head toward the other end of the small hallway. Chidori had just gotten out of the shower and was clad in only a short white towel.

"K-Kaname. I was just, uh, evaluating the situation. What is the problem?"

"You! Why cant you just act normal and wait in the living room?"

"But Kaname—"

"Did I give you permission to speak, soldier?"

"Sir, no, sir!"

"Then BE QUIET! I will brief you on what I want done after I cook up something to eat."

I nodded knowingly. "Do you need any help?"

That was not the smartest thing to say…

After Kaname finished her meal, or rather, I finally got my nose to desist from bleeding, we headed out to the park. I was still a bit perplexed as to what Chidori wanted me to do.

"My father's coming to visit today. He told me to meet him at the park, near the pond." She paused momentarily, her cheeks turning scarlet. My first initial reaction was to ask if she needed her circulatory system checked, but I learn from my mistakes. "I want you to act normal for a day. I wan to you to act like my boyfriend."

My whole body tensed up at the nature of her request. An immense amount of blood was flowing to my head as I found myself blushing. Moments later the palms of my hands were damp. I began to perspire profusely, making my clothes stick on my skin. It was a really foreign reaction that I was not accustomed with.

"Sousuke? Do you feel like you are not able to fulfill my demand?" The look on her face was just daring me to contradict her.

I shook my head. "I will do the best I can for you, Kaname."

Kaname blushed and looked away sheepishly. "Thank you, Sousuke."

"It's not a problem."

After walking a ways, I spotted a middle-aged man sitting alone on the bench adjacent to the pond. He was wearing sunglasses, a large coat, and a hat, obviously dressing incognito. He had a cigar between his lips, a good touch.

I apprised Kaname of her father's presence. She nodded and, clinging onto my arm, dragged me toward her father. Before we were within conversation distance from Mr. Chidori, Kaname pulled me to her level and whispered in my ear:

"Please, Sousuke, don't mess this up…"

to be continued….

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