Disclaimer: As always I own nothing but the original characters and the ideas presented in my various original story lines. I hope that you enjoy this latest bit of insanity and please review because I'd love to hear from you.
Heads turned and looked up when they heard the familiar chime that announced someone had entered the Honky Tonk. Everyone quickly called out their hellos to Madoka as she walked in with Mozart, taking a seat at the counter beside Ban while Natsumi bounced over to give her usual cheery greeting.
"Hey, Madoka, how are you? Would you like your usual?" Natsumi asked with a beaming smile that faded as soon as she got a good look at her friend's face. "Is something wrong?"
"No, I'm fine. Don't worry about me." Madoka said with a smile that seemed unusually forced for the usually bright and happy girl. Then again at the moment she had absolutely nothing to be cheerful about. In fact miserable was a better word to describe how she was feeling at that moment. "And a hot chocolate sounds great, thanks."
"You don't sound fine." Ginji said in concern, leaning over in his seat to see around Ban so that he could get a better look at his friend. "Are you sick? It has been raining a lot today. Maybe you picked up something?"
"No, I'm not sick." Madoka said with a shake of her head, not even aware that she looked perilously close to crying at the moment.
"Well something's wrong. Did Monkey boy do something?" Ban asked then gawked when tears began to silently appear and slid down Madoka's face, completely unnerving the usual calm and collected GetBacker. "WHAT? What did I say? I'm sorry, really sorry. Are you okay? What did I say? Did something happen to Shido?" Ban asked desperately while Natsumi hurried around the counter to throw an arm over her friend to comfort.
"He...he...went...to live with...Emishi...for a week or two." Madoka choked out, looking like the very act of saying the words was painful. "I..I..did something...but I don't know what I did to make him mad. I asked him and he said that I hadn't done anything wrong but I know I did."
"What makes you think you did something wrong?" Kazuki wanted to know, a concerned look washing over his face. Something big must have happened to have driven Shido to move out and in with Emishi of all people, even if it was only for a week.
"He..he's been really distant this week, more then usual." Madoka said, wiping away her tears with her hands. "He won't hold my hand anymore or sit beside me. He's never home and he's avoiding me, I know he is. I've tried to think of what I did but I can't think of anything!" She exclaimed, more tears welling up to spill down her pale cheeks. "I don't know what to do!"
"That doesn't sound like Shido at all." Ginji said with a puzzled look on his face. "He loves living at your house with you."
"He is a loner though." Himiko pointed out reasonably from her booth where she was finishing up her pizza that she'd refused to share with Ban and Ginji. "Maybe he just felt the need to have a bit more space for a bit."
"But if that was the case he certainly wouldn't be going to live with that idiot Emishi for a while." Ban pointed out as he swirled in his seat, a thoughtful look on his face while casting a weary look in Madoka's direction every few moments. He liked her and he didn't like to see her upset after all. Stupid Monkey. "Any ideas, Kazuki?" Ban finally asked, figuring Kazuki was the best source since the thread head knew most everything that was going on.
"Well at a guess I'd say spring has sprung a little early for Shido." Kazuki said with a considering look as he absently sipped his tea. He'd wondered when this would happen. Poor Shido. "You shouldn't worry, Madoka, he'll be fine. In a week or so he'll be back to his old self again."
"What do you mean?" Ban wanted to know, saying what Madoka and the rest were all wondering. "What's wrong with Monkey Boy?"
"Oh wait, I get it. Shido's Twitterpated again, isn't he?" Ginji said with a wise nod of his head that was completely at odds with his words.
"He's what? What the hell?" Ban wanted to know.
"Now why does that word sound familiar." Natsumi added, absently chewing on the bottom of her lip.
"Yes, what is it, Ginji?" Madoka asked earnestly. "Is Shido sick?"
"No, he just gets it every spring. He gets all moody and stuff, goes off on his own a lot more then usual. Kazuki says it's cause Shido is Twitterpated. Shido normally isn't so bad but I guess he might have just been different in the Limitless Fortress." Ginji explained with a shrug, wishing that he could be of more help, much less explain Shido's behavior. "Kazu tried to explain what Twitterpated was exactly but I couldn't really get it. Shido was always back to normal within two weeks though so you shouldn't worry, Madoka."
"Wait a minute...twitterpated...isn't that...oh!" Himiko said with a chuckle, covering her hand with her mouth to hide her grin before looking over to Kazuki to give him a wink. "Nice explanation, Kazu. A closet Disney kid, huh?"
"It was the best Sakura and I could come up with that Mr. Ginji could understand." Kazuki said with a grin of his own before fixing his face into sober lines since Madoka still looked fairly worried. "There really is nothing to worry about, Madoka."
"But what does Twitterpated mean, Kazuki?" Madoka wanted to know. "If it isn't a disease then why does he get it every spring and why does it make him act like this? Ginji did say he's usually not this bad so maybe his condition is getting worse? Do you think?"
"Well it...means...well it's hard to explain." Kazuki began with a delicate cough, suddenly realizing that he was in a bit of trouble as all eyes went to him with Himiko looking like she was going to burst out laughing at any moment. So far she was the only one that got the situation and he really wasn't interested in explaining it himself.
"Why do you think this is so funny?" Ban demanded to know as he sent Himiko a dark look, her reaction annoying him. Partly because of Madoka and largely because she was getting this and he wasn't.
"I'm sorry but it's just...well think about it, Ban." Himiko said with a smirk, her eyes sparkling with humor as she put it into words Ban would get. "Think more in terms of the animal kingdom and what happens in spring, idiot. The old birds and the bees."
"Birds and the...Oh dear God." Ban said as the light went on. "That bastard."
"Actually you should be saying the opposite since he left." Paul pointed out having also got it from Himiko's wording. Shaking his head he had to feel pity for the Beast Master. The game of love was tough enough without being in love and having the hots for a woman that oozed innocence and purity. Bad enough when you could control yourself but put your hormones into over drive..well he'd leave town too. Well at least if he was more of a gentleman.
"I still don't understand." Madoka said as she turned her head to look in the direction of everyone else. What was she missing? It was obvious that some of them knew what was wrong with Shido but they didn't seem to want to explain it to her in a way she could understand. But why?
"I don't get it either." Natsumi chimed in with Ginji nodding his agreement too. "What is it Himiko, Paul and Ban get? And why did Ban call Shido a bastard?"
"You'd run too, Ban." Kazuki added, deciding to add his two cents as he went back to sipping his tea. "It is her after all. It's hard to miss how hard he works to keep things neutral between them despite certain obvious feelings on both sides."
"Don't talk to him about that, you'd be wasting your time. He wouldn't run if his life depended on it." Himiko said with a smirk in an annoyed Ban's direction. "He wouldn't know how to be a gentleman if you gave him an idiot's guide to becoming one."
"Oh shut up, Brat."
"Well then, Ban. Why don't you explain all this to Madoka?" Himiko asked sweetly, seizing the opportunity to make his life just that much worse. "After all you're so smart. I'm sure this will be a piece of cake for you."
"Yeah, Ban. Can you explain it, please?" Ginji asked, fixing his innocent brown eyes on his best friend who literally shrank before him at the idea. "I'm sure you could explain it in a way we'd all understand, you're so smart and all."
"This'll be good." Paul commented with a smile, leaning against the counter as he waited to see how Ban intended to get himself out of this one.
"Oh you are so gonna pay for this, Himiko. If it's the last thing I do on this earth, you're going to pay for this one." Ban muttered, feeling crowded and exposed as Ginji, Madoka and Natsumi all stared in his direction intently. There wasn't going to any way of getting out of this one now. Damn Himiko. But how the hell was he supposed to explain it without getting into topics he sure as hell had no intention of getting into. He was gonna have to be really careful on this one. "Well...you see..Natsumi...twitterpated was Threadhead's way of telling you that Shido's...more animal instincts have kicked in. The way it does for most animals in spring."
"Animal instincts?" Ginji repeated, sending his best buddy a confused look on his face. "But he has those all the time, Ban. Why should the season matter? He's not any tougher in spring though he is a bit more sluggish in winter."
"What I mean is that animals have much more simpler needs and goals then humans do." Ban said, a small hint of panic in his voice since it was obvious they still weren't getting it. "This just happens to be the season when certain needs are in more control then usual."
"But most animals don't want to be alone." Natsumi said with a completely out to sea look on her face. "Why would Shido's animal instincts be telling him to go off on his own and away from Madoka?"
"No, what I'm saying is Shido is going against those instincts."
"I still don't get it, Ban."
"Ask Himiko then, Ginji." Ban said with a dark smile in Himiko's direction. "I'm obviously not up to explaining but I'm sure someone as smart as Himiko could put it into terms you guys would understand."
"Whaaaa?" Himiko choked, her bite of pizza going down the wrong way as she hastened to swallow as eyes were suddenly all on her.
"Would you please explain, Himiko?" Madoka asked, her eyes watering again in a way that Himiko couldn't even think about trying to talk her way out of this. Damn Ban.
"Uhmmm..well...you see, Madoka..what the idiot was trying to explain was that..well... In the animal kingdom mammals and maybe other animals give off certain smells for different reasons. Like a skunk sprays bad stuff to warn people off or a wolf will mark his territory." Himiko said nervously, trying to get to the answer in as roundabout way as possible. "Humans are mammals and they give off pheromones too only the human nose can't detect them because their senses of smell just aren't up to it. Shido's nose is because he's got heightened senses as a Beast Master and is very much in touch with his wilder instincts. What Ban was trying to say was that because Shido's allowed his senses and body to remain as intuned with the animal world as possible it means that he has to put up with the disadvantages as well as the advantages."
"So you're saying that Shido's bad moods are because of him being a Beast Master?" Madoka said carefully, trying to put the pieces together.
"Exactly." Himiko said in a relieved voice, sending Ban a smug look for having gotten out of it so easily.
"But then why isn't he likes this all the time, Miss. Himiko?" Ginji wanted to know, picking up on the major flaw to Himiko's argument.
"Oh well...you see...it's like Ban said about...Kazuki?" Himiko said weakly, sending the thread master a desperate silent plea for help here. Surely Kazuki could explain this all in a way these simple, pure minded kids could get. She was younger then them for Christ sakes. She shouldn't have to be the one explaining all this to them. How could they have reached this age and still be so clueless?
"Well I...you see..." Kazuki began then suddenly getting an idea of complete and total brilliance turned to zero in on Ban. There was no way he was going to have to try explaining this to Mr. Ginji again. He'd been through that headache enough times and it was time for someone else to have to shoulder that burden. And Ban was just the man who deserved to be stuck with it. "Ban, I'll pay off half your tab if you explain this to them."
"Half..half...our tab?" Ban repeated slowly, losing what little color he'd gotten back at the cruelty of Kazuki's proposition. On the one hand Paul would start feeding them again if half their tab was paid off and he was major hungry thanks to Himiko waving her pizza in his face. But on the other hand, to have to explain this... Food or pride, food or pride...food or..damn, who was he kidding? "Okay, it's a deal." Ban said as he leaned over to shake Kazuki's hand to seal the deal. Taking a deep breath Ban turned in his seat and straightening his shoulders could only hope for the best. "Okay...lets try...a visual okay? Lets say that...that there a boy in this kitchen and there's a plate of cookies on the kitchen counter and no one is in sight to stop him from eating them all."
"What kind of cookies?" Ginji wanted to know.
"That's not important, Ginji." Ban said darkly then seeing Ginji's hurt look sighed. "Okay, they were chocolate chip and they were the boy's favorite cookies in the whole world. Now he really wants to eat those cookies but the problem is that he knows it's wrong to eat them. That he's not supposed to."
"Why can't he have any?" Natsumi asked, frowning at the story. "It would be pretty mean for his mom to make them and not let him have any."
"They were for a charity bake sale." Ban said in exasperation, sending a chuckling Himiko another dark look. "So as much as he wants to eat those cookies he knows he can't so instead of staying in the kitchen and looking at what he can't have he leaves the kitchen rather then risk eating one anyway. Now the point of the story is that Shido is the little boy and Madoka is the plate of cookies."
"Oh my God!" Himiko laughed, her arms wrapping around her waist as she gave herself over to laughter. "That is the stupidest analogy I have ever heard!"
"Actually I was thinking it was pretty creative." Kazuki said, hiding his own smile behind his tea cup. What would Shido say if he was here, listening to all this? Probably die of embarrassment or kill Ban where he stood, Kazuki thought in amusement. He really should feel bad for his friend but this really was too funny. Imagine using cookies as an analogy.
"I'm a plate of cookies?" Madoka asked in confusion as she tried to sort this all out. "So what you're saying is that Shido left because for some reason he thought he couldn't stay with me? But why? Why would he have to leave because it's spring and he has better senses then everyone else? And if it's me then why was he like this before he knew me?"
"What he means is that before Shido had other cookies to chose from but this time there's only one sort of cookie he wants." Kazuki piped up, taking pity on Ban who really was trying his best. Himiko wasn't helping matters either.
"Only one kind of cookie he wants..." Madoka repeated, the light beginning to dawn though it wasn't quite at full illumination yet. She hadn't taken much science as a kid and she'd been home schooled due to her music but she did remember that spring was a very important time in the animal kingdom. It was a time when animals came out of their winter hibernation and began building their nests, flying back from other places and beginning their new lives. Starting new lives.
"Who are the other cookies?" Ginji wanted to know, this analogy interesting him. He liked cookies.
"Well those would be any other girl." Ban explained before turning to Paul with a smile on his face. "A coffee in my special cup please along with a pizza for Ginji and I."
Looking over at Kazuki questioningly Paul nodded when Kazuki gave his affirmation. "Coming right up." Paul said as he turned to get the stuff going, thinking absently that Kazuki was in for a big shock when he found out just how big a tab Ban and Ginji had running at the moment.
"So Sakura, Natsumi and Hevn are cookies too? What kind of cookies are they? I've never heard of someone referring to a girl as a cookie before. Why do you think they're like cookies, Ban?" Ginji wanted to know.
to be cont