Ban peeped into Yamato's room. Empty. No life was present at the moment but the room was chaotically inundated with empty food packages, pieces of crumpled paper, and gaping books. He called out twice. No one answered him. He whispered a word of thanks, was already crossing the threshold when Himiko's voice stopped him in his tracks.

"You little no good snake! How dare you trick me! And what do you think you're doing creeping into Aniki's room?" Himiko's cheeks were flushed, a very similar comparison to her current burning stare.

"Um… just checking out if he's around because dinner doesn't seem to be ready yet, unless you're making it." He was making a move to close the door but Himiko inched closer. "You can't fool me. What do you want from him?"

She knew that his intention didn't concern money. It considered something deeper, darker. She wanted to know it too, the reason behind the damn accident. But she had to ask Ban one question first. "You think Aniki has something in there that would point us to the favored direction?"

Ban pursed his lips as if he was sworn to an oath. He shifted slightly to the right, avoiding her stare darting at him. "He knows something… and you do too." Ban faced her. "Mido Shin isn't his real name, is it?"

Nonplussed, Himiko squirmed in her wheelchair. She was about to say something when they heard footsteps thumping towards them. "It must be hard to discover that your name is bogus, ei?" Emerging from the shadows, Yamato walked calmly towards them, a paper bag in his right grip and shades in his left. He pocketed the tinted glasses in his shirt's pocket and smiled. "You two are really persistent." He shook his head as if remorseful and lightly pushed Ban aside as he was making his way to the door. "After you both…"

Ban and Himiko were standing next to the door, watching Yamato move his stuff to one side, creating a mountain of myriad pedantic paraphernalia in the corner. He then motioned them to stay in the middle. Ban hesitantly obliged and when Yamato just moved to his desk to switch on his laptop, Ban exaggeratedly cleared his throat. "So… what's about the Mido name being a fake?"

Still not turning around, Yamato said, "Nothing much, only that it's not your real name."

"And how is that possible?"

Now Yamato tilted his head to the side. "It was a cover to conceal the Kaisers having anything to do with the accident." His tone grew monotonous, annoying Ban by the second.

"Kaisers?" Ban folded his arms and his forehead wrinkled in utter confusion. He tried to remember, tried to say it aloud, but not a shard from his memory that evoked "Kaiser" sprung up.

"Kaiser. Ban Kaiser is your actual name." Yamato paused, waiting for Ban to absorb this fact slowly. After a minute, he added, "Come here."

Gradually Ban approached the desk, standing before the laptop's bright screen. From there, he saw a multiple of screens showing the vacant foyer, the balcony, Himiko and Ban's room, the kitchen, elevator, and the many unknown and unfamiliar places of the Kudo Mansion. Ban looked up in question. "What does this have to do with Kaiser and the whole damn fiasco?"

"Mmm… just about everything." And then a tear fell from Yamato's eye.


"Elena? I'm home!" Hevn dropped the huge shopping bags on the floor and crashed on the sofa. She lazily slipped off her high heels and blew out a sigh. She heard shuffled footsteps coming to her. Without opening her eyes, she said, "Please tell Daddy that he better not try to lecture me about last night's night out… tell him to shove his meaningless words up his fat arse."

"Why don't you tell him yourself?" A male voice said above her. When she opened her eyes, he grinned. "Hello."

"Well, well, if it isn't… currently thin-ass Eiji." She stood up and inspected him from head to foot. "You look slimmer than the last time I saw you." And my, my, so damn sexy, he was right now. Eiji was one of the interns at the Shinjuku Medical hospital; they met once last year when she had to bring her father's lunch to the surgeon ward. And as of the moment, Eiji was an inch away from earning a doctoral degree. "What brings you to our humble home?"

Eiji idly touched the porcelain vase on the coffee table. "Humble is the wrong word to describe your home. More like fragile."

He looked very much like Ban, but less obnoxious thank God for that, she thought. "Quit stalling and please answer my question. Is Daddy home?"

"No, your dad's at work. I'm here to fill in Elena's shoes."

"You don't look like you could pass a maid's profile." Hevn arched a brow at him. Eiji did the same and smiled, making Hevn swoon inwardly. "Asked in for a favor. Elena called, said something like she had to leave temporarily because of a family emergency while I incidentally was in the room, attending a patient. He told me straight away that he would pay extra and up my points if I didn't refuse his offer. So I'd agree."

Hevn smirked slyly. "You sound like such a selfish bastard. I'm afraid that I can't succumb my life to a greedy doctor who'd only think of himself and money."

"Oh but that's where you're wrong, my fair lady. That patient was my last for the day and I don't need your father's points to help me earn my degree." He inched closer until their noses were inches apart from each other. "You're a challenge, did you know that?"

"Ever since Elena was hired ten years ago." Then she closed the gap between them by kissing him. When she stepped back, she cocked her head to one side. "So you're my new babysitter for the night till busy Daddy comes back?"

"Not if you prefer a nurse to take over instead." He cupped her face in his hands and gave her a deep smooch in the lips. After a minute or two of passionate lip-lock, Hevn pushed a finger to his lips. "A nurse can never kiss as good as you just did." Man oh man! She can't believe that she was flirting with a practitioner. She nearly kicked herself for thinking so but could she not help it? Here was a guy, older than her by eight years, extremely cute and gorgeous, and knew how to play his cards well. She knew it wasn't love, just infatuation. Mere infatuation. Yet she was currently pulling him to the stairs. Just having fun. This wasn't love. Plain mischief. They were near her bedroom door and she was already tugging his shirt's collar. Mischief and infatuation. Nothing more than that definitely, she was thinking.


"Jubei. Toshiki. Toshiki. Jubei." Smiling, Kazuki excused herself when Sakura pulled her over to the sales rack.

They were still staring at each other, not bothering to say anything. Jubei sized up Toshiki, narrowed his eyes at the blond when he wholly recognized the familiar face in the picture Kazuki sent him. Toshiki, on the other hand, did the same, tagging Jubei as an ultra menace against his relationship with Kazuki.

They hardly blinked when Makubex waved a hand in front of their faces. "Hello? Are you two gonna shake hands or shall I leave you guys to continue your battle of the stare?" Makubex crossed his arms, waiting for their answers. They finally nodded grimly and turned the other way: Jubei sitting on the bench while Toshiki looking for Kazuki.

Since Makubex never liked Toshiki one bit, he went over to Jubei. "What's up?"

"I don't fancy that guy, that's up." Jubei scowled when he saw Toshiki moving towards Kazuki. Makubex noticed this and nudged Jubei's shoulder. "So?"

Jubei turned to Makubex. "So what?"

"Aren't you going to beat him to it?"

As if confused, Jubei raised an eyebrow. Makubex rolled his eyes and said, "Well, Toshiki is very determined to win Kazuki's heart over. And I dare say, they are pretty close. And although Kazuki has never admitted having mutual feelings for the quarterback, you'll never know. Especially when you haven't made a move to charm her affections." When Jubei didn't respond, Makubex clarified, "If you don't make a move, it'll just make the girl feel that you're not interested… so she'll resort to whoever's available."

Suddenly Jubei shot up and ran to where Kazuki and Sakura were chatting animatedly. Toshiki saw Jubei eyeing him warily and also made a run to Kazuki. The male duo instantly stopped right in front of the girls, causing both girls to start aback. Toshiki hastily pushed Jubei aside to give himself more room but Jubei immediately countered it.

"Move, shades boy!" Toshiki hissed and shoved Jubei as he started towards Kazuki. Jubei pushed him too and growled, "You move it, you yahoo…" They continued shoving and cursing each other, disregarding stares from nosy shoppers and a chuckling Sakura. Kazuki was frowning at them, her lips pursed and arms poised at her sides.

"Guys…" she started, her voice threateningly soft.

They still ignored her, glaring at one another. After the third try of getting their attention, Kazuki moved closer and snapped a finger in front of their faces. When their eyes ultimately locked onto hers, they stood very still. Toshiki even attempted to smile, but Kazuki scowled at him. "You two are so immature."

As silence prevailed over them, Kazuki angrily turned toward the exit, pulling Sakura on the way. When the couple still didn't stir, Makubex approached them, teasingly shaking his head. "You two are so immature…" he said wryly.

Kazuki and Sakura gasped when they heard Makubex scream from the boutique and were forced to stomp back in the shop. So, this was the last time Kazuki ever visited the Rampage.


Kazuki still ignored them when they arrived at her home. As she opened the front door, she exclaimed, "I'm home! Mom?" She slipped off her shoes; the others followed suit and then they stood immobilized when a woman in her thirties appeared through the doorway on the left.

Kazuki was definitely the parallel copy of her mother. Even the flawless elegance of her walk and hospitable gestures reminded them instantly of Kazuki. Only hitch were the eyes. Mrs. Fuchoin's eyes were gray, yet essentially warm.

Jubei and Sakura bowed discreetly in Kaiko's direction and Kaiko in turn did the same. When they finally looked up and smiled, Kaiko said, "So… you two must be the New Yorkers?"

Sakura nodded and smiled. Jubei, on the other hand, tried to look away, avoiding Kaiko's eventual gaze on him. Kaiko noticed the young man looking away and chuckled. She walked toward him, gently brushed his forelocks aside, and said, "You must be Jubei. Kazuki told me so much about you." Jubei uneasily shifted, but he struggled to smile as sincere as possible. She backed two steps and asked, "Shall I prepare the tea then?"

Kazuki shook her head. "If you guys would be so kind and wait, I'll prepare the tea." She motioned them through the doorway where Kaiko previously emerged from and quickly sauntered to the kitchen. Kaiko then noticed Makubex's mangled hair and creased shirt and approached him. "Hard to see as you as a higgledy-piggledy kind of young man, Makubex."

Makubex let out a forced laugh and consciously scratched him nape. "Well… I… uh…" He noticed Toshiki glaring at him and Jubei evading Makubex's gaze. "I tripped into a sales rack…" He laughed, but nobody joined him. He quickly stopped and excused himself. He rushed to the bathroom and hastily locked the door. Kaiko raised an eyebrow and asked, "Was that true?"

Only Toshiki nodded, but Sakura and Jubei kept their heads down. All of a sudden, Kazuki called out, "Tea's ready!" And with that said, Kaiko smiled and whispered, "You kids feel at home now." She made her way up the stairs, but then turned around at the right time to see Jubei staring at her. When their gaze met, Jubei quickly stormed into the living room, leaving Kaiko to smile by herself. He seems nice enough…

When Makubex returned, his hair was slightly wet yet tidier than before, and his shirt was still wrinkled but spotted with water at the neckline. Kazuki was talking to Sakura but stopped when Sakura held Makubex's hand and squeezed it tenderly. She combed his hair back but his bangs stubbornly fell into their previous position, swaying in front of his eyes. "You should trim them before they prick your eyes."

Makubex just brushed them aside and said, "If I do, it'll look like a girly bob."

The couple started to chat animatedly, leaving Kazuki to her own thoughts. She turned her head slightly to look at Jubei but Toshiki blocked her line of sight as he inched toward her. She frowned inwardly but smiled when he apologized. "It's okay. But next time, try to control your temper and DON"T dump Makubex into the rack, all right?"

Toshiki smirked and said, "Yeah, well… the brainiac was getting on my nerves."

"That doesn't give you a right to throw him into the rack. Now I can't show my face in that store ever again!"

"C'mon, they only gave a warning. Not a banned note."

"But still…" Kazuki gave up and scowled at him. "Leave me alone."

His jaw fell and he was speechless. A triumphant feat Kazuki couldn't achieve before and she nearly danced the victory hoo-hah when she saw Toshiki moving away. But then she also felt guilty as she observed Toshiki hunched in the corner. She sighed wearily and walked toward the bummed Toshiki and patted his arm. She was about to say sorry and it was just a bluff when he turned the other way and hissed, "Leave me alone."

Incensed beyond measure, she slapped his arm and stomped out of the living room. She climbed up the stairs but stopped at the top when she heard Jubei calling her. She stood where she was and attempted to smile but gave up. "Need anything?"

"Talk, if you don't mind."

She rolled her eyes and stopped two steps before landing on the floor level. "What?"

"I'm sorry if I was also the cause for turning the store into a mini-basketball court." It was hard to see Jubei's expression considering his shades were covering his eyes. But she knew guilt was consuming inside of him… unlike someone who should be. She could feel herself reddening, but she brushed her cheeks and then smiled at him. "You shouldn't feel as bad as you do now. You're not wholly liable to what happened."

He looked up but she still couldn't see his eyes. Unexpectedly, he kissed her. He moved back when Kazuki stood fixed, her eyes adorably wide, and her lips slightly parted. Then her eyes fell on him and a smile began to form. "That was my first kiss, you know."

"Me too." Jubei was about to hold her limp hand when they heard a door bang from behind. Kazuki ran out the door only to see Toshiki running away, and she could have sworn she saw tears streaming down his red cheeks as he ran along the sidewalk. She called out, but he kept running. And he was gone.


"You jerk! I can't believe you did this! You! Of all people… you! You did this to me!" Ban pulled Himiko away from a dazed Yamato. For a handicap, she seriously can fight. Yamato wiped blood from his ripped lip and stood up, tears slowly falling down but he also wiped them away. They barely heard him apologize for the reason that their minds sank to somewhere in the past. They couldn't believe their ears when Yamato told them about the insidious disc…


"Kudo. I know what the government is planning." Kaiser was trying to hold back his temper and so far, he was doing a good job at it. He took in two deep breaths and continued, "I know about the disc."

Kudo wasn't surprised. He had been keeping a sharp eye on Der ever since the man continually visited the Kudo residence every now and then. For some things, the both of them had very little common interest about personal issues and Der was already suspicious from the beginning. And even if Kudo felt this way, he didn't push Der away. He kept playing along. Why? Guilt maybe? Maybe it was true. He didn't wish to participate in the government's latest project, but what choice did he have, especially if his contract lasted for eternity?

But Der had by now gone too far. No one could have the disc. Not even himself. "Sorry, Der. The disc is prohibited to any interloper. Not even the entire government personnel know about it. If you want to live, you'll concede and stop coming back to my doorstep. And that, I'm afraid, includes your son."

"I don't fuckin' care about that pretentious clod!" Kudo was shocked by how Der described his own son. Kudo was about to interrupt Kaiser, but Der beat him to it. "I will have it one way or the other. And I don't care how intimidating the government can get. I will, I will get that disc and nobody will stop me. Not even if that boy was tied to a post, swinging over his death."

Then Kaiser stormed out, pulling his son away from Himiko. Kudo saw Himiko being pushed recklessly and that was the last straw. Nobody would dare hurt his child, especially some bastard such as Kaiser. He almost pitied Ban as he saw the boy shouting for Himiko. But it was out of his hands. Not to mention that he was too furious to care. He shouted and kept shouting at Kaiser. He didn't even notice Yamato looking at him. Looking and hearing everything that had transpired in their kitchen. The boy was now hugging his sister protectively and simultaneously looking at his father. Yamato knew all along and started to devise plans of his own to bring the Kaiser Empire to its fall since that fateful day.

2 years later…

Der quickly jotted down the address on a crumpled paper. He cancelled all his appointments for the afternoon and phoned a hired, professional investigator some instructions. He needed to make sure that the caller was speaking the truth. He had to take extra careful measures this time, unlike two years back…

He furiously sighed as he remembered that eventful afternoon. So, Kudo knew his scheme the entire time and Der regrettably felt like an idiot for acting too blatant about his intentions. This time he would be more meticulous, watchful. Not to mention that he was grudgingly conspiring against that bastard Kudo all this time. Der smirked at the thought. Yes, the Kudos would pay for humiliating me, he thought.

A knock on the door pulled him back to the present. "Der?" Miaka hesitantly crossed the threshold.

"Come in, dear." He tenderly grabbed her hand and kissed her on the lips.

As if shocked by how gentle his touch was, she arched a brow. "Was there something in your eggs?"

"Not at all." He grinned. Yes, the Kudos would pay for making him feel like an idiot. "We'll be rich…" he murmured.


"Nothing." Too ecstatic to care, he didn't hear Miaka's inquiry for the third time. When she patted his cheek, he finally looked at her. "Yes?"

"Don't forget about tonight's charity ball."

Blinking several times, he seemed uncomprehending about her reminder. Miaka rolled her eyes and said, "The ball. It's tonight." She started to move away from his grip around her and frowned at him. "I already picked up your suit from the cleaners and it's right there, hanging behind you." She pointed at the plastic-coated suit hanging by the bedroom door.

He scowled at the memory and said, "Can't go. Got very important things to take care of." He moved toward his desk and gathered his documents to one side.

Miaka hollowly laughed. "Not this time. You and I are going." But she suddenly gasped. "Oh right, we can't…" She nearly slapped herself for forgetting about it. She sighed sadly. "Well, hopefully there's still next year." Another social evening and enlightening gossips lost for the night.

Curious, Der turned to her. "What's wrong."

"The Kudos are invited too. And with your temper, I doubt they'll escape from there unscathed. Anyways…" She took the suit from the door and walked to the closet. "Money so not well spent…" She slid the closet door open and hung the suit with the rest of Der's priced suits. She didn't close it but faced Der. "Now, hopefully we can bond like a real family—"

"Can't." He stood up and ran out the door, leaving Miaka bemused and angry.

"Der!" But the front door closed with a shocking bang behind him.


"You certain you don't want to come along?" Mr. Kudo asked as he wrapped his wife's mink coat around her bare shoulders. Himiko was running toward the foyer and was jumping like a restless puppy. "C'mon! Let's go. Let's go! You said there would be food."

Mrs. Kudo bent down and straightened Himiko's dress. "Now, now, stand straight before you start sweating and smelling like a sweaty sock." Himiko stuck her tongue out, laughed when her mother lightly poked her in the belly. "Mom! I can fix myself." Himiko started moving away when Mrs. Kudo tidied Himiko's pigtails.

Mr. Kudo averted his gaze from his beloved women and looked expectantly at Yamato. "Well?"

"You know how much I hate going to charity balls. I'll die just smelling other women's perfume."

Himiko ran to her brother and yelled, "You're such a killjoy!"

"And you are such a hog. I bet that you'll gorge down all the food long before any of the guests could get their polished hands on a plate." Yamato dodged Himiko's harmless blows and pushed her head away when she started to ram against him.

Mrs. Kudo immediately pulled Himiko away and said, "Yamato, stop teasing your sister. You know how sensitive my baby girl is…" Mrs. Kudo lovingly brushed Himiko's bangs aside but Himiko pushed away from her mother's touch.

"Mom! I can take care of myself." Himiko tried to adjust her pigtails when Mr. Kudo patted her on the head. "C'mon now… we can't let the food wait, can we?"

Hearing this, Himiko ignored her hair and sprinted to the car. "Mom! Dad! Let's go!"

Yamato shook his head and bid his parents goodbye. Before he closed the door, Mr. Kudo wagged a finger at him. A sign that a party and staying up later than curfew were prohibited while they were gone, and if Mr. Kudo found out that his son was disregarding their stipulation, severe grounding was in store for the youth.

"Got it, Dad." Yamato nodded his head and smiled. Mr. Kudo bobbed his head curtly and turned around when Himiko pressed the car honk. Then the Benz was off a minute later.

Half an hour later, Yamato stepped out the door and sauntered to the garage. He pried it open and took out his car keys from his pocket. He opened his Saab's door and got in, tucking the keys in the ignition. As soon as he drove off, he tapped his breast pocket, made sure that the object was with him. He didn't turn on the radio, but whistled throughout the drive to the car park. Dad never said that I couldn't go out and do a little mischief while they were gone…


Der cursed silently as he scanned his watch for the nth time. He twitched uneasily when a bat flew overhead and he almost stumbled backward as the wind nearly threw him off as it blew wildly in his direction. He tapped his earpiece closer when a voice whispered to him that a Saab was parked nearby and a lone figure emerged from it. Hearing this, he affirmed his attention and adjusted the gadget, making sure that it was concealed from less than a meter's eyeshot.

He heard muffled footsteps approaching him through the thick, lush lawn. His gaze followed the stranger's every stride along the gloomy park. The shadows concealed the stranger's imminent figure, prompting Der to squint his eyes to hopefully have a better look of him. But the bastard was wearing shades. He cursed again. Yet he smiled inwardly.

If anything went wrong, he had a premeditated loophole anyhow.

He smiled as the stranger shook his hand. They exchanged curt hellos and the stranger asked gruffly for the cash. Even if their surrounding was overcast, Der could tell that this stranger was still very young. Probably in his early twenties. Der grew highly suspicious.

"Disc first, then the money." The youth was taller than him by three inches, but Der didn't allocate the youth's serious, impassive look to intimidate him. Instead, he tightened his brows and lips.

"Fine." The youth's voice wasn't reluctant. Der mused over this while he switched on his laptop. Either he's giving me the real thing or he's a damn good actor, he thought.

He inserted the disc and a myriad of screens popped up. Then a bigger, most focal homepage revealed itself and Der smiled. Graphs of diverse colors, names and descriptions of international, gargantuan companies were disclosed in front of Der's eyes, and QuickTime players were waiting to be opened, waiting to expose what Der wanted to know in order for him to outsmart other industries, both international and local. This… this disc was the key for him to earn the pinnacle amongst the business arena. With this, he could be bigger than Bill Gates—no, correction—bigger and richer than the presidents of three top countries combined.

He crudely nodded, turned off his computer, and made a motion with his hand. Two figures emerged from an unmarked van; one man walked toward them with a black briefcase, the other stayed with the parked van. A limousine suddenly made its presence known as it idly stopped in front of the black van. Der shook hands with the youth, bowed, and walked off.

The youth, smiling, did the same. And when both vehicles drove off, he grinned wildly. Everything was going according to plan. Oh yes, he would pay. Der Kaiser would pay for toying with his family's gracious trust.

Unsuspecting, Yamato took his shades off and sighed happily. When he left with his Saab, a man hiding behind the trees appeared and sent the photo to his boss.


As Der clicked on a screen in his laptop, the assigned man who was left behind to note for suspicions finally sent a message. He clicked on his phone and gasped when he saw the photo of the youth. He cursed loudly, causing the driver to shift uneasily in his seat. Der briskly made a phone call; screamed when they hardly understood his frantic speech.

When the call ended, he pinched the bridge of his nose. All of a sudden, as if a jet of ice-cold water struck him, he jumped in his seat, throwing the laptop onto the floor. The driver slowed down to a stop and turned around. "Boss?"

"Fuck off and keep driving!" His breathing waned and he slowly, cautiously flipped the laptop's screen open. His jaw went slack when a series of numbers shifting randomly and speedily replaced the graphs and charts; a virus was in progress and it was destroying his most important files and computer. He raged in fret and anger. So he made a call, his eyes bulging in irrefutable, horrific fury.

"You are mistaken for messing with me, young Kudo." Der's voice went raspy after shouting a number of times. But that still didn't stop him from spattering at the phone.

Hearing the man's croaky wails, Yamato laughed. "No. Actually, it's on you. That's for abusing our trust, my trust. Using my father as a conduit to get the disc. You are such a greedy idiot."

Der fumed. "How dare you! You will regret messing with me. Indeed you will, you fool!"

"I'm not the fool, you are," Yamato said ruefully. He broke the connection instantly. Der threw a terrifying spasm, making the driver more jittery and paler. "Sir?"

"Shut up and drive!"

He made another call. "Change of plan. I want you to… chuck them out… subtly, of course." A pause. "Just the three. Yes. Perfect." As he ended the call, he combed back his disheveled hair and let out an eerie chuckle.

The driver shivered once again.

Der, as expected, barked at him to keep driving. So, who's the fool now?

End of Flashback


"Well call me green with jealousy I don't care, he's absolutely, deliciously hot, Hevn!" Chloe stared at Eiji, who was walking to them with drinks.

"I know. And he's sweet. We've been dating for six months now and I don't believe it… honestly." Hevn accepted his drink and kissed him on the cheek. "You're such a doll," she whispered to him.

He blushed. Hevn saw this and squeezed his hand lovingly. Chloe smiled brightly; she felt glad that Hevn finally moved on and was happy with her newly found man.

She glanced at the other couples at the table. Natsumi was laughing at Ginji's silly face (he probably ate too much food that his face started to turn an unusual shade of green—more like the lima bean color), Kazuki and Jubei were hugging on the dance floor, Makubex and Sakura were hovering over the boy's laptop—their faces too keyed up for her taste, and Ban and Himiko were probably outside the school's gym, doing God knows what. And here she was. Dateless. Loveless.

Chloe hated to admit that she was alone on her prom night. What a memorable anecdote of Yours Truly during her supposed big night. Bet my grandchildren would laugh like crazy or swear to conceal the inevitable truth that their grandmother was single throughout her high school years, she thought. Oh God, I am pathetic.

"Why the long, sad face?" Chloe turned to the cool voice behind her. It was Akabane… in a suit. She licked her lips. And he was gorgeous. His violet eyes bore into her green eyes expectantly. "Care to dance… unless you want to sulk all through this wonderful evening?"

"Would I?" She jumped off her seat, squeezed her eyes shut as Akabane took her hand. She ignored the thought that she must have looked like a jerky, pitiful Chihuahua back there… but who cares?

Akabane chuckled at her tense mannerisms and started to gracefully lead her to the dance floor, far from Jubei and Kazuki. After a few sways, he whispered in her ear, "You look beautiful. Always have."

Chloe bit her lower lip to control herself from kissing him dead-on. "You too."


Himiko closed her eyes and murmured, "I feel great." Ban turned to her and smiled. They were both lying on the rooftop; their hands warm in each other's grasp.

Ban didn't have to say anything but rub her fingers tenderly. "I'm glad it's over."

Himiko opened her eyes. "Definitely." She thought about her brother. He left them for England. His purpose? To live a quieter life, to reflect on his past actions without any interruptions. He simply needed peace, and the countryside in the West seemed like a perfect site for contemplative relaxation.

Before he left, they sold the mansion and both Ban and Himiko kept the money for forthcoming collegiate reasons. Yamato then destroyed the disc before their very eyes. It was a dangerous weapon against humankind, against our own selves, Himiko thought. She tried to stop herself from shivering.

Ban noticed her shaking and rolled to his side to hug her. "It's okay." His breath was warm against her neck. After all these long years, he still had feelings for her. Maybe that was the reason why he was never serious around other girls. Maybe, it's because he had eyes only for her. He embraced her tighter.

Ban refused to close his eyes, afraid that he might remember the head-shattering events that had occurred the past few weeks.

But the memories just kept coming. His father went bankrupt. His mother left his dad; she went to Paul for solace, and oddly enough, Ban approved of their current relationship. Everything was dead weird this year. Ban had to laugh.

Himiko craned her neck to look at Ban. "What are you laughing about?"

"Everything." He ignored her stare and kissed her. "I love my life."

The End You like? No? Review! XD