CHAPTER 1: Clear

He was staring at me like I was some sort of crazy maniac out on the loose to inflict my insanity to all mankind—granted that I felt that way—it was rattling, nonetheless.

I took a deep breath, meant to steady the rampaging beats of my heart, but would, I knew, burst my lungs any moment soon.

I, Horokeu Usui of the Ainu Tribe, must face this dilemma head on.

Yoh Asakura continued to stare at me.

Oh, god. I can't do it, my mind screamed. Go out and camp the night out again, commune with nature; just go! the very much ignored coward in me urged.

I nearly succumbed (mostly due to goodwill because it always had been ignored, with me being fearless and all, and…).

Yoh raised a brow at me.

"Alright," I said finally. I had to stop babbling to myself, and start babbling to Yoh.

Yoh's raised brow rose a quarter of an inch more, curiosity evident in those dark, round eyes of his. "Yeah?"

"Considering that you probably are the closest to being my best buddy ever since I came to Tokyo—" I balked.

I can't. I just can't. Gods, I hate my life.

"Horohoro? What exactly are you trying to tell me?" Yoh asked deliberately, as if talking to an imbecile.





"What?" Yoh echoed my thoughts.

Incoherence, I therefore conclude, wasn't the best approach to deal with this matter.

Another deep breath, then.

"I—I'm in love."

Yoh didn't react the way I expected him to.

He blinked, and that was that.

Gee, no fireworks? How 'bout a few congratulations here? I thought to myself dryly.

"Yeah?" he asked, as if gauging my honesty and/or my sincerity—as if I wasn't sincere enough! The outrage! "Good for you."

I wanted to say 'thanks' but matters just don't end with me telling the third person that I was in love with someone.

Now for Phase Two.

"I don't know how to deal with it anymore."

Yoh looked thoughtful for a moment. "So deal with it."

It was a good thing snowboard bashing your friend wasn't a sport because if it were, I'd be champion—wait, maybe that wasn't such a good thing. Who didn't want to be champion?

"I would," I told him exasperatedly, "if I knew how."

"So how am I supposed to help you?"

Damn but Yoh was cluelessly dumb.

I sent Yoh a pointed look. Even he must know just how much frustrated I was already.

"I'll get to that if you stop butting in." I snapped.

"I'll stop butting in if you just went to the point, already," he retorted, sounding like he was the most reasonable person in the universe.

Maybe one more heave won't hurt my lungs, and so I indulged myself.



"—like Ren."

"So do I."

That didn't sound like Yoh was just repeating after me. I stared at Yoh, boggle-eyed.

"But you don't see me fretting about it. I mean, sure he's a bit of a brat at times, and he's a hell lot of arrogant, but he's an okay friend."

Great. He misunderstood. I have to go through it all over again.

"No," I started. "I like Ren."


Do I have to enunciate every word?

"You're not listening, Yoh," I told him impatiently.

Yoh stopped and I knew story time wasn't over yet.

Damn it.

Next time, keep you trap shut well, will you?

I told my best friend I was in love.

--and he almost died laughing.

Alright, I thought, as I continued to stare at my hysterical friend, I may have to concede that what I told him was a bit preposterous… but did he have to laugh so hard? He was bent over with so much mirth, for crying out loud!

"Oh, god," he gasped. "That's rich."

I sent Yoh a quelling look—one I perfected practicing for this very day. Much help that did me, though. Yoh was still catching his breath, laughing so hard.

"I hope you get indigestion," I muttered darkly.

After a couple of minutes, Yoh finally stopped, but his previous bout of hilarity left too much evidence in his eyes, even though he tried wiping it.

"And how were you able to come about such a wonderful realization?" he managed to say with his face not cracking up.

"I was running through what's happened in the past, and then—"

I didn't have to finish—or rather, I didn't bother finish. Yoh was once more experiencing another euphoric stream of laughter that I was ready to commit murder in cold blood.


"Okay, so what's the problem?" he asked, still wiping his eyes dry of tears.

Have I been talking to myself? "I told you. I can't deal with it anymore."

Yoh frowned.

"Why not? He won't bite…" His voice trailed off.

I looked at him. Yoh knew that Tao Ren would, could and will bite me if he found out (and no, that's not kinky). Ren in an ambivalent mood will bite me. Ren in a not-so- ambivalent mood will do something that I hope I never find out what.

"I bet there's something else that we could do," he told me unhelpfully.

"Like what? Kill myself before he finds out?"

"Let's not be too hasty."

"Yoh, I'd remind you that we are both boys if it wasn't so obvious."


Now, I'm seeing the pattern. I tell Yoh that I was in love with Ren, and the title of my life would be "And, so?"; if I tell Manta, it'd probably be "The Brilliant Boggling Boggle-Eyed Boy" (despite the fact that I do face a dilemma, I can't help but give me a pat on the shoulders for that brilliant alliteration); and if I go to Chocolove, it'd probably be "Love Jokes". (God, but that's just plain abominable.)

Yes, Yoh was indeed the best viable option for help. Damn.

How low had I stooped to have complete duds for friends?

But, as it was, Yoh Asakura was the only person who would not think I was out of my mind after my confession.

"Why don't you just tell Ren, and see how he'd react?" Yoh suggested.

Maybe Yoh was out of his mind.

I told him so.

"Why?" he had the gall to ask.

"As if he'd take that well. Internalize here, Yoh. Think like you're Ren Tao. Think!" I snapped, when Yoh looked at me blankly.

"Alright, alright. I'm thinking."

"Are you Ren Tao now?" I asked.

Yoh rolled his eyes at me. "Yes. I'm Ren Tao now, you idiot."

"Ren, I like you."

Yoh's eyes grew round. "I see your point."

Damn, but I was good. I preened at him.

"What if you dropped hints?" he suggested one more time.

"Well let's see. Er, Ren, what would you do when you find out that a boy is in love with you?"

Yoh looked dumbfounded.

"Or maybe, this'd work: 'Ren, let's say, for instance, I was in love with you. What would you do?' ."

"So maybe you do have a point. Why are you telling me this anyway?"

"Because I have to tell someone or I'll confess to Ren."

"Thing is," Yoh told me. "I'd rather that you confessed to Ren, and have this thing over and done with."

"Thing is," I retorted. "I want to live."


I wish Yoh'd say something.

"Why don't you comfort me?" I tried. "You know, tell me that what I'm feeling will pass. That I just happen to think that I like Ren because he's good looking or something? That I'm superficial."

"Horohoro," Yoh said, patting me on my shoulders. "You poor delusional boy."

I inclined my head at him. Was this his introduction to the lecture I asked?

"Of course you're not superficial. You are beyond superficiality. If you believe you're in love with Ren, then I trust your judgment."

Was he serious?

Don't. Consider. The board.

"Yoh!" I wailed. "I'm. In. Love. With. Ren. Tao!"


That was an entirely different voice from Yoh's. I dreaded to turn around.

"You are?"

God. The one time that Chocolove had to enter the house without making a noise, and I had to be confessing my deepest, darkest secret.

"Good for you." Snort.

Damn, but the gods do hate me so much.

I kept my neck stiff: I was not turning around, no matter what.

"Does Ren know?" Snort. Snort.

Wasn't he decent enough to not snort?

Then, I felt someone pounding on the floor. Then laughter. And more pounding.

"Chocolove, notice that Horohoro isn't sharing your amusement."

Ah, my bestest, best f—Damn it! Yoh was laughing again!

I sat down cross-legged on the floor, and huffed. "Thank you for finding my love life entertaining," I said, eyes closed.

"No sweat," said Yoh. "It really isn't all that difficult to."

I gritted my teeth and waited for a few moments. "Done yet?"

I didn't exactly expect for them to reply, not with them being so darn frivolously happy for me. But I deserved even a muffled 'no', damn it.

I need to widen my vocabulary and come up with better curse words.


I saw Yoh, from my peripheral vision, trying to compose himself. "Alright," he said with much effort. "Let's give this some thought."

"How much thought are we supposed to give this?" I asked him exasperatedly, turning a threatening look towards Chocolove, who looked about to burst into laughter once more. "I think we should just forget this whole mess, pretend that I didn't humiliate myself today."

"Just whose decision would that be?" Yoh protested. "What about not backing down when in a fight?"

"That's too cliché already that no one follows it anymore," I told him wryly.

"Well, I think you shouldn't give up on your fee—feel—" Yoh puffed his cheeks, and stooped to clutch his stomach in his nth attempt to stop his laughter.

"Feelings, Yoh, feelings," I said imperturbably.

"Feelings, right. Feelings." He coughed. "As I was saying, I think you shouldn't give up on those."

"What I think," I told them, standing up and dusting my shorts, "is that you two shouldn't be allowed to think about anything pertaining to my life."

"Why not?" Chocolove asked, offended by his tone. (The nerve of him!)


"Well that's very acceptable," said Yoh. "Isn't it, Chocolove?"

"Sure is." Sagacious nod.

Gods, I wanted to bash them.

"Alright. If you, two, can give me one possible scenario, wherein I tell Ren Tao my undying love for him, then I'd do it," I told them, losing all semblance of patience.

Before I knew it, Yoh and Chocolove were huddled together in one corner. The words all I managed to hear were: Bason, Golden Chukanzenmai, China, Japan, Ainu, and dead.

Being the genius I was, I surmised, therefore, that they were planning my wake.


"I am not doing that!" I told the two of them vehemently. In fact, there is no strong enough force on this planet to make me do something like that.

"Why not?"

Why not? All they were asking me to do was to tell Ren to his face that I liked him. Were they nuts?

"Just because."

"I've heard that reason before," Chocolove said, "I just don't know when, or who said it, or why he said it—my god, I have amnesia!" And he fell down on the floor, one hand covering his face in mock distress.

Chocolove should stay with his rather thick attempts at humor. Theatrics and Chocolove will never learn to love each other. Ever.

"Har-har," I said dryly. "Asking me to do something like that is like asking Yoh to tell Ana that she is the most beautiful creature on earth with him on his knees."

"Ana'd kill him on the spot."

Yoh frowned at me. "It's not the same thing."

"The only difference between that scenario and what you want me to do is that Ana happens to be of the opposite sex and Ren isn't."

"And I'm quite thankful for that," said Ren from behind the door before it slid open.



Ren Tao?

Ren Tao was in Japan. Not China.


Particularly, in Yoh Asakura's house. Which was where I was at the moment.

What the hell was he doing here?

Ren Tao was right here in the same room with me where I was discussing how blood-bathed it would be if I told him of my current affectation with him.

Someone out there hated me, and was praying for my demise.

Maybe my cousin Murphy, or his friend O'Toole.

"Why would you be talking about my difference and Ana's?"


My snowboard flew, and missed Chocolove's nose by centimeters.

"Ooops," I said unrepentantly. "Sorry. Board slipped. Let me go retrieve it." As I walked passed Chocolove I muttered, "Try anything funny and I'll make sure your death bed'd be cold as ice."

Chocolove sobered.

"What's with you?" said Ren, who looked ready to probe Chocolove's nose with his Chuukazenmai, if he had been bringing it.

"Nothing," Chocolove replied seriously.

"What, no joke?" Ren asked.

"I refuse to be funny anymore."

Ren turned to Yoh. "What did you do to him?"

Yoh shrugged. "Must be the weather."

"Chocolove's serious when the weather's nice?" This, apparently, truly baffled Ren.

Yoh shrugged again.

"So," I said brightly—too brightly, in fact-- as I returned. "What brings you here? Errands for your sister?"

"You think my sister keeps me around in China to have someone go to Japan according to her whims?" Ren asked, not losing a beat.


Yoh must've noticed my predicament so he said, "So, Ren, since it's been a long time since you last visited us, what do you want to do?"

"I don't know."

"Let Horohoro take you somewhere!" Chocolove shouted/suggested. "Like a fine dining restaurant."

I sent Chocolove a death glare.

"Or I could take you, or Yoh could," he added, feeling my eyes on him.

"What, like a date?"

I blanched. Ren Tao could not be suggesting—

"That's just too disgusting."

So much for gay love.

"Well, what do you suggest you do?"

"I'd like to try the Japanese version of amusement parks."

"Amusement parks?" we all repeated.


"Well, I haven't been in one here in Japan. My sister said that I'm missing at least a quarter of my life."

"She was just goading you," I said. I smirked (I hope it wasn't crooked). "I see you let yourself be your older sister's fool."

Ren frowned. "Who asked you?"

I let my smirk widen. "Is that all you can come up with? What ever has happened to Ren Tao's sharp tongue? Looks like someone's tamed you."

"That's sharp wit for you, Horohoro," he growled at me. "And no one's tamed me! It's jet lag, alright?" he snapped. "It isn't easy traveling from China to Japan, you dunderhead."

"So, you're suggesting a date to the amusement park," said Chocolove sagaciously, head nodding accordingly.

Ren glared at him.

"A group date, I mean," he amended.

Ren didn't bother easing his glare on the darker boy.

"Er—we'll just be accompanying you, then."


"So where will you be staying?" Yoh asked Ren.

"My sister's booked me a hotel room."

"Ha!" I cried, not letting Yoh and Chocolove monopolize Ren's attention. "So your sister does have a hand in your going to Japan."

That received me a scowl from Ren.

"And your point is?" he asked me coldly.

Now that question definitely stumped me, it did.

A/N: This story will definitely be in three parts since I can't seem get the characters to stay in their proper—er, characters. Next chapter will be about the amusement park. :3 Reviews are definitely welcome.