Author's Note: It has been too long and before anything else, I want to express my heart-felt thanks to all those who gave reviews on the first three intruder alert seasons. Thank you so much for the support. I also want to thank those who are still with me. Thank you for the patience. I have had many problems including my losing the Escaflowne spirit for some time. But thankfully, an idea struck and I have made a board not only for us Escaflowne lovers but also for other people. I would like to invite you all there. Do visit it if you have time (the link is in my bio since it wouldn't let me put it here). Thank you by the way to those who signed up there. I hope you like this opening chapter of season four and leave some comments about it. By the way, someone asked about the song in the IA3. It's entitled 'Wherever You Will Go' by 'The Calling'. I really apologize for the format but I can't seem to get the spaces here right...

Dedication (Season Four is here because of you peepz): Diesty-chan, Anthius, JaminJellyBean, Feathers of Snow: Honeypot, Night of the Raven, Deaths Demon, Princess Neptune, My Silver Flame, megami04, angelized, mel88, Faraday, , Kat-Tastrophe, Izzy, dreamingofflyingaway, SabrinaYutsuki, Kagome, stephanie, Magicman/Smokegirl, Mad Meg Askevron, koneri, Harusame-chan, Dark-Dreams-69, MysticalDreamer32, prima, blue ice2, Blue Demon, steves-girl, 21321, dilly-sammas luver, bebopin'-dreamer, windsoffortune, the original esca chick, Sierra-Kurari Kaiba Fala, Fuzzie, Kendra, NoirRouge, Kya77, icetalobn, colombian chick, Rabsi-babsy, Mistress fire, execrable-angel, Harryrox2004

Note:

"Intruder Alert" – dialogue

'Intruder Alert' – thoughts

Intruder Alert - flashback

Summary: Dilandau Albatou and Hitomi Kanzaki both have a new life. After life had taken some crazy roller coaster turns back in high school, another set of erratic twists are on the way. Because when everything seems alright, they are again thrown back for another ride. Although this time, the dice of chances are in their hands. To throw the dice and start the game once again would be up to them.

Standard Disclaimers Apply


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I felt Hiko's hand squeeze my shoulder slightly and it made me look away from the setting sun in the beach's horizon. I turned to him and gave him a small smile that I knew didn't quite reach my eyes.

"Do you want to eat?" He asked softly.

I could feel the pain behind his voice, the pain he felt in behalf of me. It made me feel guilty. My problems were for me to deal with, not his. He already left the place he loved most just so that he could keep me company, just so he could offer me the comfort I know I desperately needed. But I didn't want to be selfish, at least not anymore. I have grown up, much more than I wanted to.

"Hey," I said, trying to sound cheerful, although I can still distinctly hear the bitterness that laced my voice. "I'm capable of taking care of myself. It's not like I still have the tendency of poisoning myself with my own cooking. You should go out for a while. Buy some groceries for me, would you?"

"Are you sure I can leave you?"

Although he tried to sound like he was kidding, his efforts were dashed for he failed miserably. But I tried to ignore it, tried to pretend that I didn't notice his voice faltering in concern, in anguish.

"I'll manage."

He looked at me for a long time, gauging if indeed he could trust my words. I tried to look at him with the steady defiance I had been known for. He seemed unconvinced but he relented in the end, sparing me one last look before leaving.

I turned back to the setting sun, smiling slightly to myself at how Hiko had grown up to be so outwardly caring. His girlfriend obviously had a reason to throw herself at Hiko, even when she could get anyone far more gorgeous.

"I wish I had listened," I found myself saying.

Sighing, I gave up fighting the pain I tried not to feel. It's been one week since I left Japan after visiting the people there, and still that deadened void inside me was making me want to cry over and over again. I don't want to cry anymore, at least not for a guy. I had my chance and I threw it all away, chasing all the wrong dreams for all the wrong reasons. And now, I have lost and I should move on, even when it seemed like the last thing I'd be truly capable of doing at this point.

Ten years. It's been that long, and in those years, I should've realized earlier what I was giving up. But I didn't. And now, I'll live the rest of my life wishing I could've done something, wishing that I hadn't been too afraid to take the chance – the risk...

Yes, if only. But now, it's too late to fix my mistake. It's too late...
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Intruder Alert 4: Chances

By: Frostmourne

Chapter One: The New Lives of Almost Everyone


"Hitomi, your keys!" A female voice called out.

"Vhat?" The honey-brown haired woman asked through a sandwich-stuffed mouth as she stumbled slightly, trying to put her formal-looking black heeled boots on.

At the weird angle she was in, slightly leaning against the banister and with one leg raised from the ground having one boot being fitted into it forcefully, she almost fell off the stairs. Her heart rapidly increased its beating at the anticipated tumble down twelve flights of stairs, but a pair of strong arms encircled her small waist from behind and pulled her back.

Squeaking slightly, she remembered the half-masticated sandwich in her mouth as it choked her, reminding her to swallow it before she start thanking her hero. She began coughing as she forced the food down and one of the arms encircling her withdrew and started tapping her back whilst, a smooth male voice started laughing at her from behind. Withdrawing, she spun around and again nearly stumbled at her half-booted right foot.

The laughter increased and she glared at the tall man in front of her, crossing her arms under her well-formed breasts and tapping her bare left foot in an irate pace. "Not funny!"

The man continued to laugh and in her anger, she scowled and sat without grace on the beige carpet to put on her boots, all the while grumbling about how insufferable men were. When she was finished, she stood up and stalked down the stairs, the irritating laughter still following her to the front door.

"Wait."

She ignored him and continued to open the door and walk through it. But when she reached the deep red convertible parked just a few meters away, her scowl deepened and she turned around, her green eyes flashing in irritation. "Hand it over."

Chuckling slightly, he tilted his head slightly over his shoulder and called out. "Yukari, hurry it up there!"

"Coming!" A female voice bellowed from inside the house, followed by the slightly muffled sound of the stairs being treaded upon by someone running down it.

A few moments later a woman with long, slightly dark brown hair was before them, clothed in a pale floral dress and strappy sandals. She brought out a car key-holder from the purse she had and handed it to the irate honey-brown-haired woman. "Relax, Hitomi. We're early, I assure you. Besides, if we're late, it would still be fashionable. Who are we, Hitomi? We're one of those who people suck up on to get somewhere." Before the other woman could say something, she raised one dismissive hand and turned to the tall man with almost brown-blondish hair. "Good luck."

He nodded and bent down slightly to give Yukari a quick kiss on the lips. He turned to Hitomi and smiled teasingly. "Be sure to look flirty, okay?"

She rolled her eyes and entered the car followed by a smiling Yukari. A few more seconds and they were off on the road, driving towards New York City.

"Honestly, Yukari, you should drag Amano off to Las Vegas and get married. Hopefully, he'd begin to mind his own love life instead of minding mine," Hitomi grumbled, stepping a bit harder on the car's accelerator.

The other woman laughed and placed a hand on Hitomi's shoulder. "Amano is just worried about you. You've been dating on and off for the past years and still you have yet to have a permanent special someone."

"I'm busy. I'd be crazy to juggle a serious relationship with my business career. It's not like I'm having a picnic. I can't afford to be too preoccupied especially by men."

"Oh don't say that," Yukari reprimanded slightly. "You're twenty-seven years old. You have a famous restaurant and have five branches of it all over New York. People who are in give praise to your establishment and eat there every chance they get. You know how paparazzi are, always following famous people around." She shook her head slightly. "But as I was saying, with your booming business and right age, not to mention your looks, you're in the right position to snag yourself one man. We're friends with famous people, Hitomi. You can date one of them and I'm sure you wouldn't say that life isn't a picnic. Besides, we could always help you around with your career."

Hitomi snorted in an un-lady-like fashion. "I can't exactly ask Gades and Millerna to help now could I? They're in the medical field, how'd you expect them to cope? Besides, they're downright busy as it is. Gades is a neurology consultant in many big hospitals and even Millerna is one of the most trusted ophthalmology consultants in the entirety of United States. They have their love lives to handle, too. What with Gades dating Sarah and Millerna dating Dryden?"

"But Sarah can help. Despite the fact that she's dating Gades, she's still capable of helping. Anyway, Dryden Fassa is always away on business trips in Europe so Millerna can still be around."

"But Millerna deals with another matter than I do. Besides, Sarah's a corporate lawyer, not a chef and she's busy with so many multi-million law suits of some sort."

"Amano—"

"Majors in forensic science. What do you expect him to do? Dissect the chicken and tell the crew that it's been murdered by some poison before it was delivered to the kitchens?" Again, she gave a loud snort not fit for someone like her.

"Allen—"

"Is a criminal lawyer. Like Sarah, she's dealing with many law suits. He's now in Los Angeles, defending some murder-accused businessman's daughter."

Yukari frowned. "True. But you may have forgotten about me. I'm a business management graduate and I am—"

"Currently CEO of your father's company and it's stressing enough that you end up in a hospital more than a dozen times a year from pressure. Honestly, Yukari, you're just dipping way too much into my love life. I would've thought that after Millerna and I got you with Amano back in college, you'd quit pestering us about such things."

Yukari smiled, her eyes mischievous. "But I'm not pestering Millerna anymore, just you."

"Gee, that's great," Hitomi quipped back sarcastically. "I feel so important."

"Oh don't sound like I'm some bothersome mother hen. Why don't you just spend time with someone you knew from college? Maybe that would do the trick. I mean back then, we were always interrupted in our outings that we end up leaving Gades and Sarah together most of the time. Look at them now. They're engaged."

"If it worked for them, it doesn't mean it'll work for me." She gave a sigh of exasperation. "Could we just drop this today? I'm about to have an interview about my successful restaurant and I think I need to relax."

"Okay. I agree to drop it now. But after the interview, you're in for another batch of pestering."

Hitomi rolled her eyes, already dreading the end of her interview that have yet to begin.

---IA4---

She slumped on her swivel chair in her office, smiling mischievously at her long-time friend. "So, are you ready for tonight?"

Hitomi sat down in another leather chair across from Yukari's huge desk and ran her fingers through her long wavy hair, sighing. "May I pass this one up?"

Yukari's soft laughter echoed in the big office. "Hitomi, many writers in New York are going to be there. More exposure through socializing means more money for your restaurant, meaning you can soon stop being so insecure about your success. Your father's business is different from yours so don't be too harsh on yourself."

"I'm not being too harsh on myself. I'm just trying to make a life of my own, away from my family's big name."

"But you're focusing on it way too much just like I did in the past years. Now that I lightened up a bit, I don't end up much in the hospital." Yukari tapped her fingers slightly on the desk. "Why don't we go home earlier today and think up on our clothes. Can you imagine the last party you didn't go to? I was wearing the same set of rhinestone earrings as Cynthia Parker, that successful New York novel writer." Before she could comment on the topic, Yukari stood up from her seat and circled the desk, pulling Hitomi out of her seat and out of the office. "Too bad Amano can't usually join."

Just then, Yukari's secretary intercepted them, looking apologetic and at the same time urgent. "Miss Uchida, your father asked for you to go to Paris tomorrow night."

Yukari stopped and frowned. "What for?"

"The transaction on—"

"Isn't someone from the board handling that one? I thought Dave Sanders volunteered to seal that deal."

"Yes, but Mr. Sanders has just been rushed to the hospital because of a car accident just an hour ago and—"

"Car accident? How come it didn't reach me?" Yukari then gave an irate sigh and held up her hand to silence the secretary before she could answer. "Never mind. Just have Dave off for a week more after he gets off the hospital. I'll start packing. Just fax me every paper that I would need and be in the house tomorrow at lunch so we can go through briefing before I go in the evening."

Pulling Hitomi away towards the private elevator of the Uchidas, she mentally began going through things she would need and found that there would still be lots of papers she needs to go through.

"I can help you out," Hitomi offered, sounding a tad too hopefully for Yukari's liking.

"And let you skip the party?"

Hitomi's green eyes widened with plea and in the end, Yukari sighed in defeat. "Don't be too happy though. I'm not going to give you an easy time once I get back from the business trip."

---IA4---

He glared at her from her perch near the windows as she looked at the rain falling outside. "Close the curtains."

She raised a brow at him and grinned. "You can't order me around."

"But this is my room!"

"I'm the one sitting by the window so I get to decide what to do with the curtains. Just go back to sleep already."

With a last glare, he turned on his bed and covered his head with another pillow, muffling out her laughter as she looked back again at the window and at the racing droplets of rain on the smooth plane of the glass.

"And I told him that I can still hold up in my job just fine. Uh, Hitomi?"

A hand on her arm and she turned away from the water droplets racing down the window beside them. She looked at the blonde woman across from her, the soft smile still on her lips. "I'm sorry. What was that?"

Blue eyes looked at her with a hint of understanding. "I said that maybe you should go back to Japan for a visit. It's been many years, Hitomi – far too long to be away."

Hitomi shook her head slightly, the smile becoming wistful. "Millerna, I talk to my parents every now and then through phone and Hiko sends me e-mails. Besides, I can't leave when everything is beginning to turn up here. There's so much work to be done and I don't think my parents would like it if I go to Japan only to be overrun by work when I come back here."

"I can look after things for you."

"Oh honestly, Millerna, you shouldn't be offering when you can't handle—"

"Now listen here," the blonde interrupted. "I may have chosen to be on the medical side of things but it does not mean I know nothing about running a business. My fiancé Dryden has rubbed off on me through the years and I assure you, I can breeze through management just fine."

An amused smile lightened up Hitomi's pretty face and she raised a hand to her mouth to stifle her laughter. The blonde seemed to be torn between being insulted and joining her friend's amusement. But in the end, she settled for just asking a question. "What?"

"I just find it strange," began Hitomi. "That after you turned him down so many times, you still ended up engaged to him. I can remember the time when you purposely bumped hard on him and he ended up soaking in the pool at a party." At this she laughed. "Poor Dryden. He knew it and yet he told everyone he was just being too clumsy."

Millerna looked guilty as she smiled. "I think his being too nice got me into loving him. When my dad told me Dryden was leaving for Britain and that it was for good, I thought I was happy that finally I got rid of him. But after a couple of months, I kind of missed every little thing that he did."

"Every little thing he did," Hitomi repeated softly to herself, a feeling she did not want to analyze engulfing her.

She remembered the years before, after she had left Japan to resume her life in America, the place she considered her home. But she could admit now, that even when she was back to where she was born and where she had grown up in, with the people she moved around with as she grew up, America did not feel completely like the home it used to be. Of course there was a part of her that still treated the place as home, but then, there were some things missing.

The first few years, she knew it was her family's presence that even her friends and their parents could not replace. But lately, she knew it wasn't just her family she was missing.

Her friends were worried about her love life and she could not blame them. When she came back to America, she had been busy enough not to feel the full intensity of being away from her family and her new set of friends. She had become the president of the school's student council, her popularity doubling merely a week after her return. Her experiences in Japan made her a better person and she knew how it felt like to be treated like trash. Thus, when she came back for her final year in high school, she'd been equally nice, making more people respect her and look up to her. But when college years came...

"Uh, Hitomi?" Millerna asked with a raised brow, snapping her fingers in front of her friend's dazed expression.

Hitomi blinked and barely caught a sigh as she tried to focus on her friend. "What was that?"

"Uh, phone. Ringing? Hello?"

Her face contorted in a confused frown. "What?"

"Your phone is ringing dummy."

It took a few more seconds for Hitomi's brain to process what Millerna had said and finally focus on the unmistakable sound of her phone's simple ringing tune. Smiling sheepishly, she reached for her phone beside the mango juice she had forgotten since the meal started. "Hello?"

As Hitomi's face brightened up and she began talking with excitement on the phone, Millerna could not help but think of how Hitomi might have been if everything went differently starting from the time the Kanzaki family moved to Japan.

College years had been full of unexpected moves from them. Who would've thought that some of them would go to medical field or be a lawyer? Although Yukari's career choice was expected, her love life was another matter, like for many of them, especially Hitomi and Allen.

Back in high school, every one thought that Allen and Hitomi would marry after graduation before proceeding through their college years. But because of the things that happened in Japan, many opinions had been proven wrong, even Allen's and Hitomi's. A year through college, when Hitomi began to feel the melancholy of not having her family and new friends in Japan around her, she began to date Allen again. Soon, every one was back to thinking they would finally end up together. Then, things took some unexpected turns once more and she could still remember the end part of it quite distinctly, as she had been a silent witness to the final closing of Allen and Hitomi's fairy-tale-like romance.

She was looking for Hitomi at that time, as she had promised to keep the green-eyed young woman company before the dinner date with Allen set a few hours later. But as she walked down towards the kitchen of the condominium they shared, she could hear voices. Wondering what was going on, she walked silently towards the slightly ajar door and took a peek, surprised to find Allen already there and talking to Hitomi in a grave manner.

"I love you, do you know that?" He asked softly, his voice full of sincerity.

Hitomi nodded, her green eyes shinning for a moment before she closed them.

"Do you remember the feeling back in high school? Every thing was great even when we have so many things to deal with." He laughed slightly. "And I remember the feeling of completeness every time we managed to fix all the problems we had in our relationship. I knew then, you're the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with."

She smiled slightly, her eyes still closed as she took in a slightly shaky breath.

"I still feel that way, Hitomi, and I guess I always will." Slowly, he closed the gap between them and pulled out his hand from his pocket, bringing out a small dark green velvet box. "I love you so much."

"I know." She opened her eyes and looked up at him, green eyes clashing with blue in a searching gaze. "And I love you, too. That's why we're here again, trying out being together even when we've been having so many problems as of late."

He gave her a gentle smile and he tenderly ran the fingers of his other hand down her cheek, watching her earnestly as she closed her eyes and as a wistful smile appeared on her lips. They stayed like that for some time until Allen spoke again. "Do you see me, Hitomi?"

Her eyes opened and she looked at him questioningly. "Of course."

He shook his head slightly. "That's not what I mean. Do you see me, Hitomi? When you close your eyes and let your heart see, am I the one standing in front of you, offering you a life-time commitment?" When she opened her mouth, he placed a finger on it. "Just tell me the truth and I will accept it, no matter what it is because it's your happiness that matters."

Suddenly, as if guilty of something, her green eyes watered. "Allen..."

"Don't lie for my sake. Please don't, Hitomi."

And they looked at each other for minutes that passed.

"I want to hear it from you," he said at last. "I know what you're thinking, what you're feeling. But I want to hear it pass your lips, I want to hear your voice say it, I want to feel the emotion as you say it."

"I love you, Allen," she said, her tears finally falling.

He just smiled sadly. "I will always feel for you and I know you want to stop pretending. When you hold my hand, it isn't mine. When you kiss me, it's not my lips. When you say you love me, someone else crosses you mind. I know you too much, Hitomi. What you say is not what you mean, is not what you truly feel. I... I love you and you love me. But it's not the love you want to feel for me, the love you used to feel for me. You gave your heart away to someone else."

"Allen..."

"I know you wanted to give it to me. But you know it's too late. And I understand. We can't choose the ones we love. You do love me, I know so in my heart. But you've fallen for him that even when I would offer you the world, he's the world to you."

"But what if I choose to make him pass through my fingers and hold on to you?" She asked, her voice breaking.

"Then you're being unfair to the three of us. Don't you see? You may still love me but that love compares not to the love you feel for him. I love you so much that your happiness means a lot more than having you by my side. If you choose me, you'd be choosing me out of guilt and pity and that is not sufficient for a happy life-long commitment."

She gripped the hand holding the velvet box tightly as she struggled to choke back her tears. Her eyes flashed in anger and hurt. "You want me to turn you down?"

"No. I want you to listen to your heart."

"But I am listening to it," she insisted stubbornly. "And I'm choosing you."

"Are you really?" He placed a soft kiss on her lips and looked on as she closed her eyes and as more tears fell from her closed lids. Drawing back, he gently wiped the tears away and waited for her to open her eyes. When she did, he looked at her intensely until he placed a kiss on her cheeks. "I thought so. Just don't forget that I will always love you no matter what. Thank you." Then he drew further away from her, loosening her grasp on his hand and finally handing her the box. "Even when it won't be of use to you anymore, I want you to have it. It's for you and no one else. Throw it if you like." He offered her a pained smile and his blue eyes shone like brilliant sapphires submerged in crystal-clear water.

"I don't understand you," she said, holding on to the box and looking at him with the same pained smile on her lips.

He offered her his shoulder to cry on as he hugged her then. "You will if you stop pretending."

"I'll see."

Millerna's thoughts came back to the present and she nearly smiled sadly as Hitomi chatted on with whoever was on the other line.

After that incident, Allen and Hitomi had both made it known that they weren't a couple anymore. They were still friends, close friends actually as if there never was any tearful and confusing break-up between them. They did not exactly give the others the details of the break-up, just merely said that they decided to move on. But she knew the truth as she had seen it, at least part of it. She never did know that Allen and Hitomi had had so many problems in their relationship then.

Whatever it was that Allen saw in Hitomi's eyes that time, she knew it had something to do with a certain someone in a far-off country. And now, many years later and seeing Hitomi's love life running to failure all the time, she knew the decision Allen made was right. They would have been trapped in a miserable marriage. But still, she could not venture to know what Allen must have felt the moment he realized that the day he was to propose was the right time to let go of his first true love.

"Of course not!" Hitomi exclaimed with laughter. "Really, I'll see what I can do about it. Okay. Bye" Ending the call, the green-eyed woman smiled. "Guess who it was."

Without a second thought, Millerna murmured, "Madam Fleur," who was Hitomi's favorite instructor back in Culinary School during college. Strange as it was that Allen broke up with Hitomi, the pieces they had ignored were actually beginning to form the big picture.

Before Hitomi went to Japan, she did not know how to cook to save her self. But after Japan, she was so into cooking that she took up Culinary Arts after high school, surprising many people around. She excelled far more than any normal student would and had been the favorite amongst the instructor-chefs in the culinary school. Then, when she graduated, she began planning on putting up her own restaurant. And now, years later, the dream restaurant was one of the famous ones not only in New York, but in the entire country. Anyone who was anyone knows of it.

"What did she say?"

Hitomi smiled widely. "She wants me to accompany her in one of her trips abroad. She's going to be a guest speaker in a culinary convention that would last for two weeks and she thinks that I'm good enough to be with her and also speak some things about things involving our career."

"That's great!" Millerna agreed whole-heartedly. "Where's this convention?"

"Oh, she didn't really tell me. It was almost as if she wanted to surprise me."

"So, are you going then?"

At this, the honey-brown-haired woman looked hesitant. "I'm not sure. My schedule can change anytime and besides, Yukari would be back in the country after a week's absence by the time Madam Fleur and I would go."

"Then you should go. I thought you detest Yukari's constant probing about attending parties to meet men. This would be a great way and not to mention safe-of-Yukari's-suspicions way of escaping parties you dread. You'd be pester-free for two weeks and you get to spend time with Madam Fleur. Also, consider it as your vacation."

"But what about—"

"I spend the past years with one sharp businessman like Dryden and I'm perfectly sure that I can handle managing things here. Don't worry. Yukari would be here. The two of us have business backgrounds, although mine is not from school."

Hitomi still looked uncertain about leaving the country for some place she didn't know.

"Oh do give yourself a break, Hitomi. It doesn't hurt to relax."

Millerna knew though that in Hitomi's case, what she said might not be true. Hitomi kept herself busy not only because she wanted to be successful on her own right but also because she wanted to run away from her life. But running away for so long would not help Hitomi in the end, and so, as a friend, she decided that it was her responsibility to force Hitomi to face her life before it got too overwhelming for her to handle.

"I'm not going to get you bankrupt. I'll look after your business properly and if you're not sure about leaving Yukari and me to handle this alone, I want to assure you that Dryden would be home a day after Yukari. I filed for a leave from my work and I'm sure Yukari's dad would give her the time off. Dryden called last night and told me he had managed to secure a month's worth of free time from his father's company. So there's really nothing to worry about."

"I don't want to pass my responsibilities to other people."

"You're not passing it on us. We're taking it from you for a while. Besides, you also have the responsibility of taking good care of yourself. You need a break and if I have to personally arrange for your papers and drag you to the airport on the specific date of departure just to get you to go easy on yourself for once, I'd do it. Consequences could go to the moon for all I care."

"Millerna..."

Blue eyes glinted almost with a promise of a 24/7 pestering and a promise of asking Yukari and the others to help on that around the clock pestering. Sighing in defeat, Hitomi nodded and rolled her eyes when Millerna beamed with achievement. She just hoped she was not going to regret giving in.

---IA4---

"Oh I'm so glad that you decided to give time to your old mentor."

Hitomi smiled warmly. "Oh Madam Fleur, don't be like that. I was just busy and you know how things are for me."

They were waiting for their plane in the waiting area of the airport. Upon their insistence, their companions had left them to talk while waiting for their flight. Merely three days after the call, Yukari had arrived. Four more days later and Hitomi was inside Dryden's car with Millerna heading for the airport to meet up with Madam Fleur, the widowed woman in her late forties that Hitomi respected a lot.

"Perhaps you should get married soon so things are not too hard on you." The old woman recommended with a very suggestive glint in her grey eyes. "Why you're already twenty-seven years old. You're not too young for such things. I remember I married when I was just twenty-two."

"I haven't found the one for me yet," Hitomi replied softly, remembering the day Allen and her broke up and the words that they exchanged.

"That's because you don't look for that someone."

"Oh believe me I did look. I've dated so many guys and none of them..." She sighed and absently ran her fingers through her mid-back length honey-brown hair.

"You want to ask me something? Don't hesitate, my dear."

A few seconds of silence and Hitomi looked steadily into her mentor's eyes. "What was it like?"

The older lady chuckled in a refined manner. "I assume you're asking about when I found my husband. Well, I did not even know I found the person for me until each day I spent with him after I realized I love him."

"Is it... is it possible to be in love with two different persons?"

"Perhaps yes, perhaps no. It all really depends on how you see things. But the point of the matter, my dear, is that even if you love two different persons, there must be one of them that your heart leans more to."

She gave a confused expression.

"Well you must love someone more for you to be able to know. You might ask me how to do that. I will frankly tell you I'm not sure how. But I am sure on the way to know if you love someone more."

"How?"

"Stop pretending."

Hitomi was struck with the familiarity of her mentor's words and the pain she had always felt for Allen resurfaced. Almost as if it were just yesterday that she had hurt him badly and gotten her self hurt in the process, a prickling sensation was upon her emerald eyes. She blinked back hurriedly, chastising herself for still hurting after almost seven years that had passed.

"Ah I see someone already told you that."

She just smiled, willing her eyes to look clear of any hurt and regret.

"You should listen to that someone."

"I did."

Madam Fleur gave her a smile in return, as if she was saying that she did not quite believe the answer given to her.

"Where are we going anyway? Millerna fixed my papers and gave you my passport without even telling me the destination. When we were handling matters, she even made me promise not to peek at what was on them."

At Madam Fleur's steady smile, Hitomi felt a knot in her stomach. She was sure Millerna and Madam Fleur knew of something that she didn't and it made her feel even more nervous for some reason. Then, as if her mind was stimulated by a caffeine-loaded beverage, things came into perspective.

Millerna's desire for her to finally face her life, Madam Fleur's smiles and her slight knowledge of what transpired in a certain year in high school...

"We're not heading for Japan, especially in Tokyo, are we?" She asked, her voice sounding as if she wanted to hear a negative reply.

But Madam Fleur's eyes twinkled and her smile widened. And it was then that Hitomi knew that she was in for another possibly messy dealing with the life she left behind, the life she ran away from when it had yet to be finished.

'I know I need closure. But not this way... not now. I'm not ready,' she thought with beginning apprehension.

As if to further her distress, their flight was called over the speakers and she was pulled away towards the plane that would bring her back to the place she left ten long years ago.