In This Life
A Tokyo Mew Mew fanfic
by Abigail / pikari

chapter six. therapy

(soundtrack. 06. rope dancer. bonnie pink)

I'm facing the air, climbing invisible stairs / I'm alone and shaking like a rope dancer / It's calm and warm, feels like before the storm / But I'm scared deep down like a rope dancer / If you say you can catch me when I fall from above / I'd try to make it with the mystery of love / This game is so hard to win / But I'll stay to the bitter end / Baby, I'll make it if you…

Give me the strength.


Sunlight filtered down through the trees, the rays bouncing over the foliage on the ground and sparkling like it would on the pages of some fairy tale instead of reality. The woods seemed gently familiar, and at the same time new and strange, but for some reason, Ryou didn't mind. The invisible wind was comforting, although it never touched or ruffled his hair or clothes. Ahead of him was a river, framed picturesquely by the lazy branches of ancient trees. Somewhere in the fog of his mind, a realization came to him. This was America. He hadn't been here in over five years. He remembered this spot in the park, not far from their home.

His gaze fell from the sunlight in the trees, down to the figure that sat by the riverbank, on a white blanket spread neatly over the grass. She cocked her head, glancing over her shoulder as she smiled at him.

He opened his mouth to speak. "You…"

"Ryou, darling, don't just stand there, come sit with me."

His limbs remained frozen, unable to move. "I can't."

"Why not?"

"…Because you're dead."

"Why, silly, that's no reason."

His feet led him to the blanket as if they were not his own. He sat down, feeling half in a hazy fog, but strangely comforted. He lifted his eyes to gaze on his mother. Wheat-gold hair spilled over her back, her face as young and beautiful as he remembered it.

She pushed a small wicker basket toward him. "Don't you want a sandwich?" Looking out over the river, a small sigh escaped her lips. "But it's such a gorgeous day, don't you think?"

He glanced up at the sky, every cloud exquisite in its every detail, like it couldn't be anything but real. Despite the peaceful scene, he couldn't fight the stifling heaviness that pressed every muscle of his body. The touch of her fingers brought tingling coolness to his warm skin. "Why are you so depressed?"

The question seemed to touch not just this moment, but his entire life. The air swirled around him moodily, whispering the answer he didn't want to voice. "I failed…"

"Never. After all, you're my son." Her fingers snuck to his head, ruffling the blond locks out of place. He squirmed away from her, reaching up to smooth his hair again. He always hated when she did that.

"But you left." He looked away toward the hypnotizing sway of the grass, pouting as if he were ten years old again.

"Of course. You said so yourself, silly. I died."

"You didn't have to."

"Perhaps. But then you wouldn't be the person you are today." She plucked a small white daisy, dropping it into his open palm. The wind tugged at the grass with more force, tickling his skin, as the trees above them swirled, signaling a coming storm.

He stared straight through the flower in his hand. "What… if I don't like who that person is?"

She flicked his ear lightly. "Well, now, whose fault is that?"

His head snapped upwards, realizing in an instant she was longer by his side. She walked toward the banks of the river, putting a distance of yards between them that seemed like miles. "W-wait!" he tried to scramble to his feet. The storm creaked through the tree branches, whipping through his hair now with no restraint. She continued as if she couldn't hear, bare feet stepping lightly across the surface of the river.

He stumbled as he splashed into the river, the crystal water swirling in to swallow up his legs. She was still moving away, and he couldn't move fast enough to get near her again. He struggled against the water desperately. "I'll still get revenge for you!"

She stopped and turned her head, gentle eyes brimming with sadness. But they were no longer blue eyes, but a shimmering red-brown, framed by short red locks. Ichigo! His mouth could no longer voice the word. He pushed against the water, trying in vain to reach her. Each movement sent a familiar searing pain up his spine, but he paid it no attention. The black ears of a wildcat flicked as the silent howling storm assaulted her, slowing shrinking her into a small black cat, and in a flash, pulling her into a thousand pieces. His scream shattered the trees as he reeled forward. The pure white daisy dropped from his hand onto the black surface of the water, spinning, spinning as it was carried away with the current, and suddenly he realized the water was like fire and he was hot, so hot…


"104 degrees Fahrenheit…" Akasaka frowned as he looked down at the thermometer he had just brought up from the unconscious blond's ear. His brow furrowed into concern as the other boy's head tossed restlessly on the pillow. He picked up a damp cloth to wipe the thin sheen of sweat from the boy's face. Despite his attempt at composure, a heavy sigh had slipped past Akasaka's lips.

In the café below, business continued, though more somber than usual. Even Purin's antics seemed dampened by a dark cloud, as the girls quietly served customers. Any careful observer might notice that behind the smiling greetings weighed a heavy anticipation, one that waited for good news with every hope, but despite the optimism, braced themselves for the worst. Even after closing, when the last crumb had been swept up and the last dish polished and put away, they still lingered together quietly, until eventually each girl bid the others farewell and reluctantly headed for home.

The café was quiet and dark when Akasaka descended the stairs, enveloped by an eerie loneliness that was almost tangible. The girls were gone as he'd expected – he'd assured them there was no need for them to stay. Upstairs, Shirogane had shown no changes, and the feeling of helplessness was becoming frustrating. Faith was his only remaining weapon of defense, and Akasaka would have to rely on that. There was still no doubt in his mind that he would pull through.

A small sound coming from the dining room made him pause to listen. Inside the dim room he could make out shapes of tables and chairs, and as his eyes adjusted, another shape. He strode forward, crossing the room to stand at the seated figure's side.

"Ichigo-san?" Akasaka's voice reflected deep concern. "Why haven't you gone home? I'm sure your parents are expecting you…" His voice trailed off as hollow brown eyes turned up toward his.

"I couldn't leave…"

"Ichigo-san…" He knelt beside her chair, taking both her hands in his own in a comforting gesture.

"I just…" Why was she here? She already lost Aoyama-kun, and now she was so scared at possibility of losing Shirogane as well, even if the idea of caring that much for him still baffled her. "I want him to be okay." I don't want to be alone. "I hope he's okay…"

Akasaka pulled her into a tight hug, as much for his own reassurance as her own. "We just have to believe that he will be." He pulled back with a slight grin and added, "Besides, I have a feeling Ryou's too stubborn to give up this easily."

Ichigo couldn't help the smile that crept across her face. Akasaka was right, as always. Stubborn… yes, that was the perfect word for him. The other man stood again, leaving a hand to rest on her shoulder. "You should be going home now. I only came downstairs to make some tea, and I'll be going back to Ryou's room."

Ichigo popped out of her chair. "I'll get the tea, go back upstairs."

"That's not necessa-"

"Don't worry about it! I'll make you all the tea you want!" Before he could even finish she had skipped past him into the kitchen and was banging dishes about with her normal high-energy. With a silent chuckle Akasaka decided he wouldn't mind trusting Ichigo's tea-making abilities tonight. He returned upstairs, the occasional noise floating up from the kitchen a comforting reminder that he wasn't alone. He reached out to touch Shirogane's forehead, and it was just as warm as it had been earlier. The younger boy jerked restlessly away from the heat of his hand in feverish sleep. Sweat-soaked blond locks clung to his skin, and occasionally he would toss or groan as if plagued by some nightmarish dream. As his restlessness gradually increased, Akasaka realized it wasn't only dreams causing this reaction. Shirogane's face contorted and soon he was doubled over in pain.

A crash of glass shattered the silence of the room and Akasaka's eyes snapped to the doorway. Ichigo stood there, the tea a broken mess at her feet. Her eyes had become wide with horror. "Do something!" She ran to Akasaka's side, tugging at his shirt desperately. "Do something, he's hurting! Give him one of those shot thingies!"

The look the tall man gave her was pained and helpless as he opened his mouth to explain. "Ichigo… the antidote is what has been lowering his immune system. Without that immunity, he can't fight the fever. If I give him an injection now, he may die for sure." He didn't like seeing the boy in pain any more than she did, but he recognized when there was nothing more he could do except hope the attack passed quickly. He squeezed her shoulder gently. "He'll be okay."

She tore away from Akasaka's side and knelt at the bedside, grabbing Shirogane's sweaty hand on impulse, even though she knew it would do little good. Seeing him like this, she realized she'd already broken her promise never to feel pity for him again. Every muscle in his body had become taut, his breath coming in quicker gasps. The fingers inside her hand trembled and jerked, finally clamping tight around her own fingers. She bit her lip hard, not caring about the pain. Then slowly, he seemed to relax. His unconscious grip loosened and gradually his breath began returning to its normal, steady rhythm.

Ichigo pulled her hand back after becoming suddenly aware of the close contact, and hoped Akasaka didn't notice her pink cheeks in the dimness of the room. She lifted her head to speak, but stopped, seeing Akasaka's expression had changed to one of surprise and deep thoughtfulness.

"Ichigo-san… please hold his hand."

"Wha… what?" She backed away from the bed, feeling her blush grow hotter and fiercer.

He picked up her hand and returned it to its position on top of Shirogane's, sandwiching it with his own hand so she couldn't retract it this time. "I never considered it might be possible, but…"

"But what?" Ichigo echoed, thoroughly confused. She was acutely aware of the heat from the unconscious boy's hand pressing into hers. He seemed to be sleeping peacefully now, the attack having come and gone with only relatively mild symptoms.

Akasaka's brow furrowed again as if he were thinking something over. Finally he explained. "Your DNA is the Iriomote Wildcat, right? Well, Ryou's is the same. His genes are not compatible with the Red Data Animals as yours are, so the fusion is incomplete. He only has limited control and the wildcat DNA cannot differentiate between friend and enemy, which is why he has the attacks. But based on previous times, the attack just now should have been much stronger."

"I don't understand."

"He calmed down when you came near. I believe your wildcat genes may have the ability to communicate with Ryou's, and were able to calm the genes' effect on his body. You can speak to cats, correct? Well, it's probably something similar to that, except that your genes are communicating directly, instead of through words."

Ichigo squirmed slightly. Having such a direct personal link with Shirogane was a little disturbing. She wasn't quite convinced it was true. "But… but, Akasaka-san… I can't even control my own powers. I still turn into a cat whenever I get scared or nervous, and I can't turn back unless…"

She trailed off and Akasaka placed a finger on her uniform above her heart. "You control it here, if not always here." He tapped at her head with a smile. "You wanted Ryou's pain to stop, and it did."

"I guess…so." She still wasn't sure she wanted to believe, but Shirogane's attack had stopped, and that was the important part. Akasaka moved to the doorway, bending to pick up the pieces of the broken tea set. Ichigo sank into the chair beside the bed, twisting her fingers together in thought. Her eyes glanced toward the bed again and she gasped in shock to see blue orbs staring back at her. How long had he been awake?

Ichigo jumped from her chair and whirled toward the door. "Akasaka-san!" she called urgently. In two strides the older man was at her side. When her gaze returned to the figure in the bed she found his eyes once again closed in quiet sleep as if nothing had occurred. "His… his eyes were open," she explained. "Just for a few seconds…"

When Akasaka checked the blond's temperature again, he felt a small wave of relief wash over him at the results. 102 degrees… "His fever has gone down."

"Really!" Ichigo balanced on her tiptoes, trying to get a look at the digital temperature readout. She threw her arms up in the air in a short cheer. "Yeah! That's great!" At Akasaka's knowing smile she suddenly began waving in a negative gesture. "B-but it's not like that!" she declared firmly. "Just because I'm not with Aoyama-kun doesn't mean it's like that! I just think he should get better, because… because we need him for the Mew Project and all that stuff."

The ponytailed man had to restrain himself from bursting out laughing, but kept a calm face. "Of course." His next smile was sincere. "Thank you, Ichigo. You've helped more than you can imagine. Please go home now, and rest."

"But, will he…?"

"He will be fine, thanks to you. If you want to gather your things, I can drive you home, since it's dark outside now."

"Yeah… thanks."

It wasn't until Ichigo's head finally hit her pillow that she realized how much the day had exhausted her. Sleep came for her immediately, but she remembered thinking just as she drifted off, how strange it was that even after all that had happened with Aoyama-kun and then with Shirogane today, that she should feel so peaceful tonight. There wasn't time to think of anything else, as the warmth of the covers soon claimed her into deep, dreamless sleep.


She met Retasu and Purin bright and early at the café gates the next morning. Apparently they'd had the same idea she did. Retasu explained with a blush that'd she'd been worried and wanted to check in on Shirogane and Akasaka before school. They found Minto and Zakuro already inside.

"Is Shirogane-oniichan better yet!" Purin bounced forward, asking the two girls eagerly.

"We only just arrived here," Minto replied with a shrug. "Akasaka-san isn't around anywhere, so Oneesama and I were just about to check upstairs."

"Perhaps Akasaka-san is still asleep?" Retasu wondered.

"I kinda doubt it, Retasu," Ichigo answered.

The five girls crept up the stairs together, peering as one into Ryou's dark room. On the chair beside the bed, the figure of the tall dark-haired man sat motionless. His head slumped forward onto his chest, sound asleep.

"So he was asleep, no da!"

"He probably stayed up all night," Minto pointed out.

Akasaka's head jerked upward, awakened by the voices in the room. After a quick glance toward the bed, he rubbed his eyes sleepily. "Girls…"

"Akasaka-oniichan stayed up all night, no da," Purin echoed, jumping onto the back rung of the chair.

"I must have fallen asleep," the older man mused, wincing as he rubbed his neck, stiff and sore from sleeping in such an awkward position. "What time is it?"

"It's quarter after seven. You should really take better care of yourself, or you'll get sick, too," Retasu scolded gently. He stood stiffly, the shift in weight causing Purin to tumble backwards with the chair. However, no one paid her much attention.

Minto stepped forward and crossed her arms with all the authority she could command from her small figure. "Retasu is exactly right. You've been exhausting yourself and worrying too much. You're going to bed right now."

"Thank you, but there's the café, and…"

"No 'but's!" Minto waved a finger at the dark-haired man's protest. "We'll do all the baking and get everything ready for the café to open this afternoon, and you won't have to worry about one thing."

"It's not healthy to push yourself too hard," Zakuro stated, and Minto beamed that her "Oneesama" was agreeing with her. "Meanwhile I can monitor any alien activity from the basement computers."

"Yep," Ichigo winked. "We wanted an excuse to play hooky from school, anyway."

"Girls… I appreciate it," Akasaka gave a smile of defeat, but one of relief as well. "Although, I would like to make a bit of breakfast. Then I shall go to bed… I promise."

"But we get to do all the work!" Purin declared, skipping off to help the rest of the girls herd Akasaka down the stairs.

Ichigo lingered behind them for a moment, glancing over toward the sleeping figure in the bed. She crept forward on tiptoes, deciding to check quickly on his condition before joining the rest of the girls. He lay on his side facing the wall, his breathing steady and normal. After a few seconds hesitation, she touched his forehead softly. He didn't seem too warm… She reached across him, leaning precariously over the bed as she attempted to tug up a part of the sheet that had bunched up under him.

A hand clamped around her wrist, jerking her forward before she had time to think, and she landed sprawled on top of the body in the bed. With a feline screech Ichigo jumped up as if she'd landed on live coals, quickly scrambling away towards the edge of the bed as Shirogane propped himself up on his elbows.

"D-d-don't scare people like that!" she yelled with an accusing finger. Recovering from the shock, she stared at him in surprise. "When did you wake up?"

"This morning," he replied simply. "I didn't want to disturb Keiichiro."

"You made us all worry!"

He shrugged a little. "Nice to know I have such a caring nurse." She saw the playful teasing dance in his eyes, and felt her face begin to burn.

"I… I was just trying to help out Akasaka-san. You know he was really concerned for you." She glared as if the whole thing had been his fault, and watched the blond turn away sullenly.

"Anyway, you can all stop fussing and go home now. I'm perfectly fine." At Ichigo's glare of doubt, he lifted his chin and continued. "Unless you'd like to sit by my bed some more and use those cat-powers of yours to make sure."

He flinched when a flying pillow struck him square in the face. "So you were awake last night!"

He calmly shoved the pillow aside onto the floor and pushed himself into a full sitting position. "I wouldn't say awake. But somewhat conscious, maybe. The memory is rather fuzzy, but now that I've had time to think about it, the theory does make sense."

"Because Alto is an Iriomote Wildcat?"

"Exactly. We really haven't even begun to tap the extent of the Red Data Animals' potential, so we can only theorize what they're really capable of. Although…" A troubled look now clouded his face. "I wish you hadn't used it."

"But it helped you. Didn't it…?"

When he leaned toward her, the expression was gone, and his voice had turned to 'scientific mode' again. "I'm interested in testing this new ability. Perhaps it works both ways."

"What are you talking about?" Ichigo spoke warily. Whenever Shirogane starting talking about 'tests', she knew to be afraid.

He gave a weary sigh and pointed. "I'm talking about those."

Ichigo's hands flew to her head and sure enough, a pair of fuzzy appendages met her fingers. And despite all her will, they wouldn't go away this time. Damn it, why did that Shirogane always have to make her so unnerved? This was why she hated him so much.

She gasped as he jerked her chin upward until their faces were barely inches apart. She couldn't stand to look in his eyes for more than a few seconds, and squeezed them quickly shut. "Stop…" she whimpered softly. Ichigo felt her heart rate increasing as she waited for his lips to touch hers, or the 'sample' to be plucked from her tail, or whatever other surprise he might have waiting. She never knew what to expect from him, and that made her all the more nervous. But he only held her captive like that, until she could feel the heat that generated between them – perhaps a remnant from his fever, or a product of her own embarrassed body. Whatever it was, she found the moment overwhelming her, each breath becoming harder to take, hyperventilating. Simply his presence was overwhelming, something that she could never figure out. She felt his breath hover near her ear as he hissed, "Control it." She was beyond control by now, and she knew it, although she clenched her fists and tried to fight it as she felt the all-too-familiar tingling begin in her stomach and begin to grow…

Seconds later a small black kitten sat on Shirogane's bed, looking up pathetically as tears of failure gathered in her pink cat-eyes. He sighed heavily, wearing an expression of softness she'd never seen in him before. He rubbed her head a few times affectionately. "It's not your fault."

He leaned back flat on the bed again, seeming to stare absently at the wall. "I guess it's just not possible after all." His words were soft, subdued. A pause, and then, "I'm sorry."

She extended a paw hesitantly and stepped up to sit in the middle of his torso. The position afforded her a better view of his face and this strange new personality. He spoke sincerely, as if she wasn't even there; or maybe it was just easier to pour out your soul to an animal, the way they could listen in total honesty without judgment or interruption, even if he already knew who she really was.

"I said I would take responsibility for everything." Shirogane's voice had taken on a reflective, uncharacteristic tone. "But I ended up putting the weight of everything on you. I thought I could complete my father's project on my own. But I haven't done anything. I can't even fight. All I've done is put you in more danger. And all for…" He shook his head slightly, as if trying to shake the thought away. The morning sunlight filtered through the trees and past the window, casting mesmerizing moving patterns on the floor. After a few seconds of silence he spoke again. "We wanted to save the Earth. But, you know… it was never really about that. I don't think I ever really cared about the trees… or the oceans, or the animals. I just wanted to complete the Project, and somehow get revenge on the ones who murdered my parents. I pulled you all into that… selfishly. Not even asking if you wanted the choice." Another pause. "The genes… I don't know if I can stop them. If they can't be controlled… they'll keep on progressing until you turn into a cat completely. And there may not be enough time to defeat the aliens first. So… if you want to quit… if you stop fighting now, it won't progress any further, and you can remain the way you are. If you keep fighting, it's a risk. I didn't give you the choice before, but if you want to quit now… I'll allow you to do that."

When he had finished, a heavy silence punctuated the room, broken only by the quiet hum of the computer in the corner. All the time he was speaking, Shirogane had never torn his eyes away from the blank wall across the room. Now Ichigo sat quietly, riding the gentle rise and fall of his chest. She wasn't sure what to think, or to believe if she had really heard him right. Was this the Shirogane who ordered her around constantly, had basically forced her into a waitress job, and told her she was going to be his superhero whether she liked it or not? Now he was telling her she had the option to quit? Of course, she'd threatened to quit before, and thought about it more times than she could count. But yet she always kept coming back to the café, almost as if it wasn't even a choice anymore.

She put one paw in front of her and stepped forward. Feeling the shift in weight, he turned his head to look at her. She watched his eyes widen just before she closed her own and touched her kitten lips to his. She could feel the odd tingling surround her body as her limbs began to extend. In a flash of pink light and a few seconds later, she sat on top of him, fully human.

"I want to fight with you… as Mew Ichigo."

The tips of her hair dangled over him, framing her face as he stared up at her with childlike uncertainty, all emotional barriers crumbled. "Ichigo…?" He spoke the only word he could manage to get out.

A bang of the door shattered the moment, and both teenagers' eyes snapped toward the door. There stood Purin, wearing a triumphant look like the winner of a hide-and-seek game. "Minto-oneechan, I found her, no da!" The blonde child disappeared again, pounding down the stairs as she announced at the top of her lungs to the entire café, "She's in bed with Shirogane-oniichan, no daa—!"

Shirogane's face tinged pink, but Ichigo was sure his was nothing compared to her cherry-red cheeks as she suddenly realized her compromising position, straddling his body on the bed. She practically dove nose-first into the floor as she tried to scramble off the bed as fast as she possibly could. She dashed into the hallway and down the stairs, chasing the young monkey girl, as she screeched back, "PURIIIN! Don't say it like that—!" The girl managed to dodge her grasp and scuttled up a lighting fixture out of reach. Before the redhead catgirl had a chance to vent her wrath and embarrassment, she was confronted by an angry Minto surrounded by the rest of the girls.

"Ichigo!" Minto scolded. "We said we were going to help Akasaka-san, and then you suddenly disappear! I'm not letting you play hooky from this, too!"

"I am not trying to disappear!" Ichigo huffed. "I'm going to help as much as I can, probably more than you will. But that's not the point. Shirogane is – "

"Shirogane-oniichan is awake, no da!" Purin finished before the other girl could get the words out.

Suddenly she had everybody's full attention. "He's awake!" Retasu echoed.

"Bright and early," a familiar voice sounded behind them. "No use wasting the whole morning sleeping."

The group turned to find the object of their discussion leaning in the kitchen doorway, looking fully well and recovered. Amid all the cries of surprise and relief from the girls, no one noticed the knowing looks that passed briefly between the two men – one a smile of relief and the other a silent thanks. Shirogane brushed aside all the girl's sudden questions and concerns and turned toward the basement door. "I want to have a meeting downstairs in five minutes, so be ready," he said, and without a further word disappeared again, leaving them to wonder among themselves.

Exactly five minutes later all five girls had gathered in the basement. Shirogane leaned against the computers, his face revealing no expression or clue as to what this was about. Akasaka stood nearby. When all the girls had approached, he began.

"I think you have all been aware from the beginning of the risks that this project involved. And I think recent events have proven it further. The Red Data Animal genes are progressing even despite the supplemental injections you all received. Up until now, Ichigo has been affected the most, but the rest of you may have already noticed some effects as well." Silent knowing glances were exchanged among the girls at the mention of this. "If they continue to do so before the aliens are defeated, you might remain animals permanently."

"Purin wants to be a monkey, no da."

"Ssh, Purin-san, I don't think that's quite what he means," Retasu soothed.

Shirogane ignored them and continued. "Because of these risks, I'm giving each person here the option to leave the team. You won't be looked down on for doing so. If you quit now, the animal genes will not progress any further, and another way will be found to defeat the aliens if needed. Anyone who wishes to leave is free to do so."

Surprised murmurs arose from the group of girls as they whispered among themselves. Only Ichigo remained strangely quiet. Finally it was Zakuro who spoke first. "You say you can find another way to defeat the aliens. What way is this?"

"…We will find another way," was all he said, and as he did, every person in the room knew there was no other way. Shirogane only stared at the floor waiting for their responses.

Retasu was the one to break the heavy silence after a long minute. "I… I know I'm not the strongest or most important member of the team, but… if there's a way I can help to save this beautiful Earth, I want to do it. And… even if there is a risk to it, I trust Shirogane-san and Akasaka-san to lead us. I believe it is worth it to endanger myself just a little, if it means I can protect many other people from danger."

If we don't risk our lives, we cannot save humanity. Hadn't those been his own words? Retasu… when had she gained so much confidence? She nearly put him to shame now. But he remained silent and waited for the rest of the girls. Their answers were not long in coming.

"Ditto, no da! Purin wants to fight, too."

"I agree as well," Minto said. "If we can defeat the aliens, we should do it."

"The more strength you have, the faster you will be able to defeat them," Zakuro stated. "I will stay with the team."

"You already have my answer," Ichigo said. "I want to fight."

Shirogane's eyes were closed in silence. "Looks like you have a vote of confidence, Ryou," Akasaka spoke softly.

When he lifted his chin a minute later, a change had taken place, and his eyes flashed with the old confidence and determination reborn, his posture set authoritatively. Ichigo felt a smile creeping across her face at seeing him back to normal. That was the Shirogane they all knew and (well, sometimes) loved. She almost imagined he wore the hints of a smile, too. When he spoke again, it was with the clipped, business tone they'd all become familiar with.

"In that case – there was a Chimera Anima reaction in Juuban less than two minutes ago. I want all five of you to go intercept it. Take Masha, and radio back if you run into any problems." He raised his arm, and this time Ichigo was sure she saw a confident grin flash in his eyes.

"Tokyo Mew Mew… Away!"


The End…… of Part One! Only five (or so) chapters left to go after this.

Thank you to everyone who left reviews or gave feedback – I appreciate each one. kiss

Calling All Angels by Train was originally supposed to be the song for this chapter, since I thought it fits into the last scene. (If you think of the Mew Mews as the angels… well, I thought it fit XD), but I changed it to Bonnie Pink (again). I really like the song, though, especially the metaphor of "rope dancing". I'm almost tempted to change the title of this fic to that…. o,O