Yukari looked over at me; we've been best friends since junior high and all through our high school years and I could read her mind without even having to reach out with my powers. Yukari Uchida and I had been the best of friends since our first year of middle school. It was one of those "opposites attract" kind of friendships. Where Yukari was outgoing, flirtatious and extroverted I was shy, self-contained and hesitant. Even thought I was known as "The quiet one" of our set the friendship between us was strong as a balance of opposites. She drew me out of my shell and I gave her the calm steady equilibrium she needed. I often wished I was a little more like her in some ways; she seemed to make friends so easily and guys just seemed to fall all over themselves (before they learned about her steady relationship with Amano) to flirt with her. I, with my shy eyes and quiet strength just seemed to attract the strange ones.

She was troubled about something, she had her Pensive Face on. It's been almost two years since (to the rest of the normal world) I had disappeared for an entire summer under mysterious circumstances. Yukari knew what had happened of course, she had been there when I was sucked up into a beam of shining blue-white light and taken against my will that first time to another world.

I won't go into all the details about what happened to me, many of them are personal anyway, but what's important is that it changed me inside and I'm not just talking about enhancing my weird psychic abilities. The rest of the world just doesn't seem to understand me anymore. I know a lot of the other students whisper about how "strange" I've been since it happened, I know a lot of them think that something so traumatic happened to me that it flipped my flapjack. Well, I'm not crazy, but even I have to admit that I'm pretty different.

Firstly my powers have gotten freakishly accurate (and a real pain in the neck) since I came back. Second, is harder to pin down. The closest I can come to describing it is a sort of annoyed, discomfited feeling about my daily existence on some days. It's like my whole life has become a once-favorite sweater that shrunk in the wash. Most days I'm pretty happy if I ignore the strange things about myself; life's pretty good here aside of one little thing…

Despite every attempt I've made in the past few years since my freaky powers awakened, they won't go away if I simply ignore them (unfortunately). My mother always said that what cannot be cured must be endured. I've been enduring to the best of my ability, I've managed to work a somewhat normal life around my weird powers. It's my caring heart and meddling personality that gets me in the most trouble to be honest. I've been working on it, really I have, but I'm afraid that I'm just the kind of person that can't see something wrong without trying to fix it. My father used to tease me that if I saw a pile of rope tangled up on the floor I'd spend all day untangling it just because it interfered with my sense of what was right in the world. Whehter I liked it or not, I was the kind who butted in with other peoples problems and my powers only excaberated the situation. Fortunately, they also gave me an edge so when I butted in and gave advice it was usualy right on the money. I'd hate to have a reputation for giving bad advice. The Sight let me see things that would help.

Having the Second Sight makes me privy to a great deal of inner secrets, things people probably wouldn't feel comfortable with me knowing about if they knew that I know. I've learned diplomacy and tact because with all of this maturity and insight I've gained comes the inevitable cycle... I'm so good at giving out the perfect advice for any situation that everybody comes to me. It's like I've become some kind of answer-guru! I don't have all of the answers by the way, however, it's just my luck that my advice is almost never wrong. It's that whole Second Sight thing; it gives me an unfair advantage.

Anyway, I could tell without even looking at her that my best friend wanted some of my kind, wise, insightful and almost-never-wrong advice. She wasn't long in letting me know either.

"Hitomi," she said walking alongside me on our way home from the train-station.

"I wanted to ask you if you would do a Tarot reading for me."

"You know I gave that up Yukari", I said. "The future is what you make of it."

"But I don't want to know the future," Yukari replied. She pulled out her very best pleading look, the one that always makes me cave. It doesn't help that I'm a softie.

"Plleeeeeeeease," she begged.

"But I-"

"Pretty, pretty, pretty please," Yukari pressed.

"What is it that you want to know?" I asked, relenting. I'd given up reading the future with Tarot cards... but that didn't mean I'd given them up entirely. It is after all, my favorite hobby. Okay, so I have some pretty bad memories involving them too, but hey, one learns from experience. Tarot is all about journeys anyway, and they didn't necessarily have to be used to predict the future, reading a situation is fine too. That's my loophole and I'm sticking to it!

"I think Amano might have found someone else," Yukari said worriedly.

I couldn't help it, I looked at her like she was crazy. Amano? Find someone else? Ha! There's a laugh, I practically have to bribe him to get any time alone with my best friend. I am so the fifth wheel in their relationship.

"But Yukari, Amano is crazy about you, you know that!" I told her firmly.

"I know, but he's been acting really strangely lately," Yukari said in distress.

"How so?"

"Well, when we went shopping the other day he seemed kind of distracted. He didn't even ask me to go into the lingerie store and try something on! Not once! Usually that's the first thing he asks but he didn't even blink when we passed it!"

Yukari's told me about many a trip to the Victoria's Secret and Fredricks of Hollywood that's ended up with smiles all around. Yeesh! I know more about their love life than I do about my own (not that I have a love life anyway). Man, those two... I gotta say in all honesty, I don't know where they get the energy, if I'd spent a night doing all of the things Yukari tells me about I wouldn't be able to move the next day! Amano just loves to dolly his precious girlfriend up in lace and silk and sexy things, and Yukari (the little kink) loves the kinds of things she knew he'd let her do to him when she wore them. I all honesty I'm not certain whether they're both just healthy teenagers who are open and honest with one another about their sexuality or just plain kinky... the jury is still out to lunch on that one.

"Maybe he's out of money," I suggested, not really buying it. Amano was loaded.

"His dad's the owner of Susu Corporation, the third largest robotics development firm in Japan. Amano always has money," Yukari reminded me.

"Maybe he was just distracted by something else. You know how much pressure he's been under lately," I said. It was true after all; his dad's been pushing him to perfect his English so that he can study abroad and go the Oxford College in England before he comes home to take his position as heir to the company.

"That's true," Yukari said. "But the lingerie thing was just one thing, that's not what really has me so worried."

"What's up?" I asked, now really curious. I knew I was probably later going to wish that she hadn't told me because Yukari never skimps on the details. Thanks to my dear best friend I no longer even needed to read Cosmo for enlightenment, I had my very own personal sex guru.

"Last night when I went to meet him at our usual room in our favorite love hotel he... well, he didn't wanna..."

Okay, I am officially speechless with shock; didn't wanna? I've long since resigned myself to the fact that my best friend is a virtual sex-fiend, and that she's going to share every last detail of her favorite past-time with her very best friend in the whole world. That being me, hearing the concept of abstinence with no reason from either of them was like hearing that the sun was going to start rising in the west tomorrow. Amano is just as bad (if not worse) than Yukari, it's like sex is his life-energy and if he doesn't have regular time with his baby he'll shrivel up and die. There is one small ray of brightness in this otherwise annoying sea of too-much-information... Amano doesn't share the details with me! Yukari however is not so considerate. She brags about his appetite, his endurance, and especially of the way he had of finishing her off, over and over.

"He... he..." Yukari teared-up in dismay. "He wanted to... cuddle."

I was forced to do a double take. Cuddle? The words Yukari, Amano and cuddle did not belong in the same sentence together. Condoms, yes; fuzzy handcuffs maybe... but cuddle? No way. Unless they were talking about afterwards, perhaps.

Amano and Yukari have been going at it like proverbial weasels since he came back from England last year after a year of foreign study abroad. The two of them are possessed of voracious appetites for each other. Yukari's mother (single parent) is of a liberal mindset; she just put her daughter on the pill and kept them well supplied with condoms. Amano's father is willing to allow the relationship as long as his son (and future heir to the company) kept up his studies. When Amano's grades start slipping due to too much free time with his honey, Yukari "starves" him until they improve. Having the okay from both sides of the fence gets rid of a lot of time and energy wasted in sneaking around; time and energy that they like to spend... well, you can probably guess.

I sighed, it looked like I was going to have to pull up some wise, meaningful and insightful comment. I'd just start with the obvious.

"Intimacy comes in many forms Yukari," I said. "Maybe Amano is looking for another way of expressing his inner feelings."

"Expression isn't a problem with him," Yukari pointed out. According to Yukari, Amano was a talker... and later, a moaner.

"Besides," she continued. "He likes it when we hit it together. He says that its when he knows we were made for each other."

Again with the information. That's okay, Yukari was Yukari; there's sort of a sweet ingenuousness to her blunt, open, frankness involving her personal life. It looked like I was going to have to go out on a limb here.

"Maybe he's worried that he's taking advantage of you," I said. "He's probably just trying to make certain you get intimacy as well as sex. He probably read somewhere that it will make you happier and show that he cares about you. A lot of books and magazines say so."

"That could be," Yukari said dubiously. She didn't look convinced.

"But Amano's still acting a little oddly. There's something on his mind and he won't tell me what it is. Amano's never hidden anything from me before. He must be tired of me!"

And how was this the obvious conclusion? The only way Amano might be tired was probably that he had finally managed to exhaust himself. Still, it wouldn't be diplomatic to make the joke because my friend is obviously in distress. Soothe worries now, joke later.

Yukari meanwhile is on the verge of tears; I know darned well that Amano hadn't lost interest, in fact, he's probably more interested than he's ever been if my reading of him is accurate (and I have no reason to think that it isn't). So it has to be something else. In order to reassure my very upset friend that whatever was wrong wasn't what Yukari fears it looks like I'm stuck for it. I pulled out my cards.

"Now, this is just going to take a closer look at the past and present," I warned her. I quickly shuffled the deck with the querants question in mind and laid out three cards for a quick read.

"Two of Cups for recent past," I said. "That tracks. It means that there is a healthy harmonious, and mutual relationship involved."

I flipped over the final two cards, studied them for a moment and couldn't keep a small smile from my face. Interesting, but far be it from me to let the cat out of the bag. Instead, I told Yukari

"There's the problem and it's nothing to worry about. He's concerned mainly with a family matter. Ten of birds... family support, financial security, security of the home. Ten of Fish, ah... it's a positive card."

What I so carefully wasn't mentioning was the fact that this reading was hinting very strongly at a possible marriage. I don't want to ruin the surprise for Yukari of course, but I'd have to make certain to visit Amano later and offer my assistance. If I know him he's probably driving himself crazy worrying about getting her the right size ring, asking his father for permission to get engaged so young, and other various minutiae.

"You're sure? There are a lot of fish in the reading, it could be a matter of a change of heart," Yukari pointed out worriedly.

"It's not," I replied filling my voice with utter certainty. Yes Yukari... you will believe me.

"The cards have to do with the heart and the family," I continued. "But all of them are very positive cards; if there were any conflicting emotions, there would have been a sword. None of them were reversed so I thinks it's safe to say that there's nothing wrong. It's a very positive reading. Don't worry Yukari."

I patted her shoulder and Yukari immediately felt better. Of course it could be also the fact that I was using a new aspect of my abilities that I had discovered recently; I could project and aura of calm and relaxation and if I touched someone while I was projecting they'd feel it and start relaxing. My powers had expanded a little as I grew and matured. No more scary visions thank heavens... well, sort of anyway. Sometimes if I accidentally touched someone skin to skin and they were feeling something very strongly I'd get flashes of their. It was a problem because I was the sort that couldn't see a problem without trying to help; perfect strangers did not always like me trying to butt in and try to solve their problems. I learned very quickly that they liked it even less that a stranger was privy to their personal private business. I had even received a threat or two after trying to help someone particularly touchy so for the most part I just tried to keep my powers and thier secrets to myself. My dousing was still the most useful of all of my abilities, but the ability to tell when someone was lying to me (or at least not telling me the whole truth) was very useful as well. At least I'm not getting knocked flat on my ass every other time I turn around with visions of fire and death and destruction.

I don't mean to get off on a rant here... but how the hell am I responsible for pulling bad futures into place! Queen Varie once told me that the world was reacting to the power of my anxious heart and it was my fault that all of these bad things were happening. At first I was shocked, dismayed and traumatized by the realization. But then when i went back and thought about it later... the only realization I made was that the woman had to be full of it. Granted, there is power within a single soul to change the universe, and granted, due to my powers Gaea seems to react a little more emphatically to my wishes that to the average Joe Gaean; but seriously, there's just no way it could have been all my fault.

First off, there was Zaibach who started the whole mess in the first place. They had plans on starting up a war to end all wars way before I ever got kidnapped by yon beam of light. If anything I'd say that thier plans to attack was the cause of me being brought to that world and not the effect... B does not lead to A here people. It doesn't make sense! If my supposed "visions that came from an anxious heart" was really pulling the worst of all possible futures into place then what about all of those visions I got that we managed to prevent from happening? And what about the visions I got that only showed peoples pasts or thier emotions? Those only gave me a deeper look at peoples motives; they didn't actually cause anything. And as for the Visions of fire and death and destruction... well, it was a war. Really, what else was I going to see?

The Visions were more like timely warnings and most of them had to do with things that other people had decided for themselves that I had nothing to do with. It's not like I went up to the doppleganger and said; "hey... you know there's some people in Freid that really need killing; why don't you disguise yourself as their Plaktu and go see if you can't steal their Key?" I know Varie probably had good intentions; but she really did a lot more harm than good when she opened her mouth. Here I am, a fifteen year old girl who'd never before been away from her home or family for even a week at a time suddenly thrust in the middle of a battle zone with a bunch of strangers I barely know getting flattened by freaky-ass visions and I'm supposed to take this well! I'd like to see her try to handle all of that at my age and see how well she fares!

There, I said it. Maybe I'm dwelling on it, but I feel so cleansed!

Well, no rest for the gifted I say. I parted ways with Yukari at the station and made my way over to Amano's house.

Amano answered the door looking frazzled, and on edge. The very instant he laid eyes on me however his face went slack with relief. It was nice to be appreciated.

"Ah, Hitomi, thank god. Just the person I needed to see," he said. "Come in, come in."

I stepped across the portal and into the spacious interior of the Susumu residence. You could tell that Amano's parents were loaded by the sheer size of their residence in the middle of Tokyo. The living room looked like it had been through a small sized typhoon, and Amano himself looked... frazzeled. That didn't happen often, Amano was a lot like Allen from Gaea (and I did not want to speculate about Allen's love life, I got quite enough of and earful about Yukari's and Amano's) he was always smooth-looking. It helped that he came from money, so he was always well dressed, but Amano was also always well-groomed.

"How in the world do you always seem to just "know"?" He asked amazement as he led me over to the living room and sat her down. What can I say? It's a gift. In answer, I just smiled a mysterious, knowing smile and waited for him to say what it was that had him in a tizzy.

"You wouldn't happen to know Yukari's ring size would you?" he asked agitatedly. He was pacing the room like he couldn't sit still, running his hands through his hair and looking agonized. "Does she like diamonds? Which of these do you think is better?"

The poor guy babbled in an endless ramble as he shoved about four different jewelry catalogues from expensive jewelers at me.

"Or do you think she'd preffer a hand crafted ring?"

"Amano, slow down, I can barely keep up with you," I said. I projected a feeling of calm at him but in his present state it slid off him like rainwater.

"I wanna marry her Hitomi," he stated bluntly.

"I suspected as much," I replied calmly, as I picked up the various catalogues from around the room and arrayed them neatly in front of me.

"Don't you think you're a little young?" I couldn't help asking. "Most people wait until after college; you are still going to college aren't you?"

"Yes, that's part of the reason," he said, inchoately. "I want to marry her before I go. If she's my wife I could get a special visa for her and we'd be together in England. I can't stand the thought of being separated from her for a month let alone entire years at a time."

Oh, thanks, way to bring that up buddy, I thought as I repressed the sudden pang of sadness I felt at the reminder of being separated from someone I love.

We could still feel each other. It was like there was an invisible string that connected our hearts. Sometimes in my sleep, when I dreamed, I could feel him there reaching out across the distance to me. There were times even when I was wide awake when I could feel him there, quiet and steady. There were times when I could feel that he needed me, needed my assurances, needed the strength of my belief. And I could reach him, feel him, send him my thoughts and my beliefs. It made it difficult to move on but I couldn't let go of it either. I couldn't turn my back on someone who knew my soul as I knew his. There would be times, I knew, when for no reason at all we would need each other; we would need the comfort of someone who would understand the other from the inside out.

Oh don't get me wrong, I'm not pining or anything. I like my life! It's quiet, its safe (if a little predictable) and best of all, there's no danger, no life-threatening adventures, and (mostly) no freaky powers. I'm just a normal girl. I like being a normal girl.

I forced my attention back to the matter at hand.

Amano could be impetuous and stubborn, he wouldn't listen to his father if his old man tried to caution him about moving too quickly so naturally I felt the need to be the voice of reason in this. I know they love each other; fiercely and passionately... but I wondered a little if it had staying power to last or would it burn itself out?

They started out as friends and then grew into deeper feelings for one another. Even after their relationship was announced they went through an entire years worth of separation without straying; there have been many relationships that have fallen apart from less. Still... they're both so young.

"Amano, you know I love you and Yukari both very much, and you know I want the best for you both. Despite the fact that I want you two to share every happiness together I feel I must counsel caution in this case. You've spent a lot of time together it's true but intermittent time is different from living together day in and day out. If you have to live together you may find out that there are things about each other that you just can't stand."

"Are you kidding? Waking up to her beautiful face every morning? Tying my tie before I go to work, quiet evenings at home just her and me, breakfast in bed..."

Amano had that distant dreamy look in his eyes. He was seeing his rosy future. Crazy sex addiction aside, Amano is a romantic at heart; a real sensitive guy.

"Finding her stockings hanging in your shower stall, running out of shaving cream because she's used it all on her legs, getting your clothes mixed together, arguing about finances because she thinks budget wisely means buy that new dress when it's on sale," I couldn't help pointing out. Hey, there was a lot more to that living together idea than the rosy parts... it had it's share of thorns too.

"You yourself told me that every couple has to do some adjusting to the habits of the other, and the occasional argument was to be expected. I'm sure we'll do our adjusting and have our squabbles like anyone else. Hitomi, I know you're worried about it, but I have faith."

Well... shut my mouth. Casual, careless, slacker-Amano actually made a mature and responsible statement! Oh, don't get me wrong I like the guy and he's my best friend's other best friend but he had a tendency to put the cart before the horse from time to time. His upbringing with his nice house and rich family had given the guy a tendency to overlook the obvious concerns because they'd always been already taken care of or easily managed with the application of the right amount of money. Getting into a relationship in which he would have to mature and grow could only be good for him.

"Then I give you my blessing. Not that you need it really, but it'll go a lot easier with me helping."

"Thanks Hitomi, that means a lot to me," Amano said sincerely. "If you were a boy, I'd ask you to be the best man but since youre not..."

"I'll still feel honored," I said, smiling crookedly at him.

We spent the next hour debating over ring choices; Amano seemed to favor the idea of buying her the Rock of Gibraltar, and while money wasn't a concern to him, neither was taste!

"Amano," I said after he showed me another particularly enormous square ring he'd run across. "I can understand that you want Yukari to see how much you love her, but really hun, you could buy a small country with that thing."

"Look how sparkly it is," he pointed out. "Yukari loves sparkly... all girls love sparkly when it comes to engagement rings."

"If nothing else she could use it as a signal flare," I joked. "They could see the light coming off from that thing in outer space!"

"You think it's too much?"

"Ye-ah," I said. I picked out a pretty ring with a cluster of diamonds around a central diamond with the metal gold of the ring in an elegant wave pattern.

"How about this one?" I said pointing. "It's sparkly, its got plenty of diamonds, and its not so... heavy."

"Hmmm," he said consideringly. "How about this one?"

Oh boy, he'd picked out another mountain. Time to compromise here buddy.

"No. But this one is nice," I said, showing him a picture of one that seemed to be a good match for Yukari. It had a nice fat maquis cut diamond in the center with delicate scrollwork surrounding it that had delicate sparkling seed-sized diamonds worked into the pattern.

"It looks nice," he said a little reluctantly. Geeze, he begs me to help him and then doesn't want to take my advice... men!

"It's perfect for her," I said firmly. "Yukari used to have a cheap silver one that looked a little like it that she absolutely loved, only it had a blue glass aquamarine in the center... but she lost it somewhere. She used to wear it all the time though."

"So you think this is the one for her?" Amano said.

"Yes, she'll like it," I replied with certainty.

I was surprised when my cell phone chose that exact moment to ring; it was Yukari. Amano slapped his forehead and mouthed that he'd forgotten that he'd invited her over to dinner. I helped him as he frantically stashed the ring catalogues. I had to think quickly to explain how it was that I was already over at Amano's house without her. I told her i'd stopped by quickly on my way home from school for quick help on y math work; Amano was really good at math and the three of us were study buddies... well actually it usually turned out that I studied while the two of them made out on the floor of his room. Or, if they actually did make it to the table and cracked a book, they ended up turning the study session into a massive game of footsie under the table.

Now that the choosing of the ring was out of the way Amano wanted to perfect place to propose to his darling. I sighed... why me? I told him to take her on a nice romantic get away and propose there whenever the moment felt right.

I could see that he was getting that Big Plan look in his eyes. Yes, I know that at our age, doing the whole big proposal thing was considered cool; I knew a guy that had taken his intended on a sky-diving trip and had some farmer plow out crop-circles in his feild asking her to marry him. That was pretty big. Amano had the funds to pull off something like that, hell if he wanted to he could have it posted on that big screen in the middle of Tokyo but my poor friend would probably die on the spot. Yukari actually wasn't the type for that though... I knew my friend the best out of just about anyone and I was pretty sure that she'd probably like the proposal small and quiet and the wedding big and loud.

"Look," I said. "Just an intimate, heartfelt moment is the memory she'll sigh over for the rest of her life... oh, and as a tip, make sure there's no sex involved if you want her to be able to tell your grandkids about it."

"Small and intimate? But dinner is so overdone," he said.

"So take her out for a hike just the two of you, set up a picnic, and pop the ring out over dessert," I replied. "You could find a nice romantic spot by a lake or with a mountain in the distance... or, well, something like that."

The conversation about the proposal was cut short by the ringing of the doorbell. Yukari was there sporting this cute outfit I'd helped her pick out the last time the two of us went on a clothing spree. We were both kind of obsessed with fashion, she's probably worse than me though, I'm more into the comfortable athletic-wear fashions and she's just a complete fashionista; she wears them all!

I was just about to make my escape, I mean take my leave when Yukari insisted that I stay for dinner. Amano joined in. Damn, they were both doing that puppy-face thing.

"You two don't want to eat alone?" I asked, a little dubiously. I wasn't in to watching her feed Amano while making cooing noises, lord knew I got enough of that over lunch!

"We never spen enough time with all three of us, it's either Yukari and you or Yukari and me... we're all friends. We should hang out and part together," Amano said.

"Hey!" Yukari said brightly. "I just got the best idea! We should have a vacation, just the three of us, to commemorate this time in our lives."

"Sounds like a good idea," Amano said enthusiastically. Oh, yeah, there;s an Idea there was just one problem with that... remember how I mentioned that having been rich for all of his life he doesn't always take into account the obvious things?

"Unfortunately," I pointed out. "I have limited funds. You know how much food and lodging at even a small bed-and-breakfast resort costs? Then there's the expenses for the trip."

"I could cover the costs," Amano said dismissively.


I admit, I'm not sure if I can stomach the thought of hanging around those two when they're in full lovey-dovey mode for more than a few days without going crazy. I mean, really, I feel odd enough about knowing the details of their sex life without having to be in close proximity to it.

"Aw c'mon Hitomi," Yukari pleaded. "A vacation with just Amano and me is fun but we did one together in the spring. You have to come!"

"I'm sure the two of you will have a lot more... "fun" just the two of you," I protested. "Besides, which one would we chose, trip to the ocean or trip to the mountains?"

I mean that is a pretty big consideration after all; really the beach is the done thing in the summer but the price for those beach houses were outrageous! Besides, I was partial to a something a little more quiet and secluded than a crowded public beach; I knew darned well that if I went to the beach again this year I'd only end up having to politely pretend to be interested in some loser's life story while secretly longing to return to the game of water volleyball. Really, why did those weirdos always seem to come up and talk to me! I mean, it's like they think I'm one of them or something! Last year, I sit down on my blanket in the shade to enjoy a nice cold soda from the cooler and this perfect stranger guy and his friend just walk up and sit down like they own the place and start talking to me. I wasn't interested in their club activities, no I didn't want to know their sign, I didn't like giving out my cell number and I didn't want to go somewhere for drinks!

Or if it's not nice weirdos wanting to talk, its skeevey weirdos wanting to do more than talk. At least those ones I know how to handle... if they lay a finger on me my father was a blackbelt and he'd forced me to attend lessons after I returned from disappearing to Gaea. Okay, I admit, at first I wasn't happy about having to attend the completely unfeminine martial arts lessons but what can I say... I'm an athletic person and they kinda grew on me. Nobody ever suspects me because I'm so quiet and polite but I go to the gym three times a week for kickboxing (hey, it's good exercise).

So, in my book the beach was out. Not that I didn't like all the fun activities but really, I could have just as much fun at a hot springs or something. Hey, wait a minute...

"How about a visit to a hot springs resort in the mountains," I said suddenly. I had some connections that could get us rooms for cheap. I still had some money squirreled away from the spring break job I'd had as a conveinience store slave (although to be honest I had been intending to go on a massive shopping spree in china town) but it was a worth it so I guess it was a small sacrifice.

"That way we get to do a little of both," I continued. "My grandmother's best friend runs an outdoor resort. We're still on good terms so I'm sure she'll at least give us a discount. It has lots of fun activities too, mountain biking, camping, hiking all that good stuff. Plus, there's a tour bus that'll run us to the next town over which has a miniature china town in it for shopping."

"Sounds like fun!" Yukari said enthusiastically.

"We'll have to bring our own supplies though," I cautioned. "If we went to buy them there they'd be three times as expensive."

On my way home, when it was quiet and the day was just fading to sunset, I could feel the little twinges on that ephemeral cord of red moon-mist that still connected my heart to Van's heart. He was upset about something, frustrated and upset. He'd been like that all week. I didn't know what the problem was so all I could do was send him my feelings; my faith in him, my pure simple knowing that if anyone could do it, he could. Sometimes that's all it takes, the knowledge that someone out there loves you deeply and unconditionally, to make everything okay for a little while. So that's what I gave him, my deep feelings for him. The knowledge that I was here, quiet and steady inside his heart, and always would be.

"Hey, slow down there Initial D," Yukari said from the passengers seat at the countryside whizzed by outside her window. "The hot springs aren't going anywhere you know."

"Hey babe, you wanna drive... then don't complain," he grinned. "I wish we could go muddin' with this thing."

"Ohhhh no," Yuari said. "No way. You remember what happened the last time you wanted to play in the mud? You nearly got your license revoked by that anal cop."

"I sure wish we could take this baby to a place with no anal retentive traffic cops then," he said wistfully.

I started in surprise, making wishes like that was dangerous! I mean, I know from personal experience that the old saying "be careful what you wish for, you might get it" was not without truth. The universe could be listening.

I got that weird all-over pin-tingly, hot-cold feeling that usually preceded a vision of enormous clarity and I squinched my eyes shut tightly against it. Whatever it was, chances were that I wasn't going to like it. I flashed to a scene somewhere in a forest with a host of cat-people and dog-people (thereby proving that what I was seeing definitely wasn't happening on Earth) circling around some kind of weird looking creature with long spears, jabbing at it. The thing they were harrying looked very strange in my Sight; I couldn't make out what it was, but there was something about it that didn't belong. It felt warped somehow; twisted. Another flash happened and suddenly I was standing out in the clear blue sky, a song came to my ears from out of no-where and everywhere at once. I looked over and saw a woman I didn't immediately recognize looking over at me with a troubled look on her face. Then suddenly I was back in the car, staring out at the scenery speeding by me, like nothing had happened.

What was that? I wondered. Something was going to happen and soon. I tried to push away the feeling of unease growing within me as if by ignoring it I could will it away. The harder I tried to ignore the feeling of prescience the worse it grew. I should have known better than to try to deny my powers their way, I had learned on Gaea that I ignored my instincts to my cost.

I saw a flash of pink with my sixth sense and then everything when blue as we were beamed up by the mother ship.

"Damn," I couldn't help muttering in resignation as our vacation-mobile gently touched down in the middle of nowhere. "Great; here we go again."

Hello and welcome to the first chapter, reviews and comments are appreciated by the way so if you could just click on the little box below… I digress. There's plenty more to come. I'd like to start things out by saying that I love the series and even though I'm writing a continuation fic, I loved the ending to it too (very Anna and the King). I tried to write this fic in sort of the same spirit as the show (aficionados will note that in the series, they didn't actually go to Gaea until nearly the second episode), really anything can happen. I thought writing it in first person might be appropriate since we see the series mostly through the eyes of Hitomi, I tried to keep it as in character as I could based on how I perceived her character and yet allow for a few years growth and maturation. (and if I forget to post the next chapter after a week, you guys might want to remind me).

So anyway, I hope you enjoy.