Author's Note: This story is a sequel to my first BAV fic, The Finish Line. Reading that one first is probably a good idea or you might get really confused.
Chapter1 – Blue Flowers
"And welcome back to Ishimatsu's Wheel of Misfortune," said the young, black haired male as several video cameras zoomed in on his face. He was dressed casually in a baseball cap and t-shirt. "As you remember, it was Nagisa's turn to spin the Wheel of Misfortune. So, how much would like to wager?"
"I'll bet it all. 250,000 yen," said the green haired woman from the third answering booth on the right.
"Pretty confident huh? Well, let's see if the winds of misfortune don't bite you in the ass. Ms. Ayumi, would you please do the honors?"
The woman in the shimmering, silver gown smiled and approached the huge wheel standing in the center of the game-show set. It was divided into numerous pie slices each displaying different images ranging from yen bills and gold coins, to creatures such as fish and spiders. Ms. Ayumi gripped her delicate fingers on the right side of the wheel and swung her arms down. It started spinning into a whirl of colors. It eventually slowed down and a triangle displaying the image of a crab came to rest under the stationary red arrow hanging over top.
"No, not that!" Nagisa screamed. After her shrieking subsided, she was breathing heavily, looking absolutely mortified.
"Yes, that, but don't worry, Nagisa. You still have a fighting chance to divert the winds of fate." For some reason the smirk on his face didn't look all too convincing.
The game-show host then shuffled some cards, and looked down and read, "Today is Mitsuko's birthday. She is 33. She left the office at 5:25 and started driving home at her usual speed, which varies between 55 and 75 kilometers per hour. At 5:47 she stopped at the fish market and bought two red snappers. One weighed 3 pounds and the other 5. Shopping for two fish at this busy market takes between 10 to 16 minutes. Her apartment is 25 miles from the market. She finally reached home at 6:49. When she showed her husband, Jiro, the fish, he shouted, "You whore!" Is Mitsuko's husband correct to assume she's cheating on him?"
"Wrong answer! And you and our loyal audience know what that means. You get CRABS!"
"I beg you. please have mercy! Ahhhhhhh!" Suddenly a compartment over the top of the glass tank that contained Nagisa's answering booth opened up. Nagisa's screams were drowned out as a flood of live crabs piled on top of her until the compartment was full.
Ichino just stared at the scene from the side-lines in amazement. She was reminded of why she never watched this show even though her brother hosted it. She was beginning to wonder to herself whether or not she had helped create a monster.
Ishimatsu suddenly spotted the short, black haired woman from the sidelines. "Big sis!" He ran over to where she was standing some distance behind the cameras. "Sis, what are you doing here? I haven't seen you forever!"
"I'm shooting another commercial. Thought I would stop by your studio and say hi first. And what's with this big sis stuff? You've gotta have a foot on me by now."
"You'll always be my big sis."
Ichino blushed. "And you'll always be a little dork."
"Director-Host Yanagida, we're still rolling." That was the title he demanded to be called on set. Ishimatsu wasn't originally the director, but the first director had quit years ago after it became apparent who was really in charge.
"Can't you see I'm talking to my sister? That means cut, you numb-skull!" He screamed at the top of his lungs. This particular camera man had just started on the show, and it had already been the longest week of his life.
Ishimatsu turned back to Ichino who continued, "But I'm worried about her," Ichino said pointing to the crab filled tank. "Is she going to live?"
"Oh, her. She'll be fine. We tape their claws closed. They can't harm her."
"But still, that has got to be traumatizing, being buried alive in crabs."
"She knew what she was getting into when she signed the release forms. It's show-biz. She'll be fine"
Some workers finally pulled the woman out from a door in back of the tank. She screamed franticly as they brushed several of the spiny creatures off of her, and removed a number of them from inside her skirt, "Crabs! Crabs! Crabs! They're everywhere!" She then let out a blood-curdling shriek and was lifted onto a stretcher.
"But never mind that, how is Kris doing?" He asked extremely interested.
"Oh, she's doing great. We just went to the doctor yesterday. Her and both our girls are in perfect health."
"That's great. So, how much longer?"
"81 and a half days, approximately."
"Wow, that's so soon. I can't wait to be an uncle."
"Oh, I think you'll be a good one. But my children are never watching your show… ever."
"Oh come on, we're wholesome entertainment. We get big numbers from all age-groups."
"Never," she stated simply with a scary look.
Ishimatsu knew from experience not to argue with her when she looked like that. "Ok, but that means I get to spoil them."
"Fine, just as long as it's not with junk food. I want my girls to grow up healthy and strong. One of them might be Cosmo Beauty some day."
At that moment a stage light plummeted from the ceiling and crashed into the ground a few feet parallel to Ichino. Both of the Yanagida children looked down at the smashed piece of equipment stunned, and looked up to see the set of lights near the ceiling where it had detached from.
"Where's the lighting director? I'll kill him with my own hands!" Ishimatsu made eye contact with the lighting director who was some feet off the set. He subsequently dropped his coffee and doughnut to the ground and started running in the opposite direction. Ishimatsu sprinted off after him.
Ichino waved in his direction. "Bye, lil' bro."
"Flava Flakes contains 12 essential vitamins and nutrients. It's a smart, healthy part of a balanced breakfast. It gives me the energy to run all morning. That's why I start every day with delicious Flava Flakes." Ichino then took the spoon in her hand, scooped out some of the cereal from the bowl set on the table in front of her, and put it into her mouth.
"Blahhhhh!" The cornflakes and milk sprayed everywhere.
"Cut!" The director yelled. "Ms. Yanagida, would you please not spit out the product?" He said as he flicked a cornflake off of his eyebrow.
"Damn't, its Mrs. Christopher Yanagida! That's been my name for 5 years now," she said clenching the spoon in her fist. "Why can't you people ever get it right?"
"Ok, Mrs. Christopher Yanagida, would you please not spit out the product," the director asked, his annoyance very apparent in his voice.
"Listen I'll hawk your god-damn Flava Flakes, but that doesn't mean I have to eat it! I hate cereal. Can't you ever have me sell octopus balls or something?"
At that moment everything around Ichino suddenly went dark. Then a small, blue ball of light floated in front of her. It seemingly exploded and Ichino was bathed in bright light from all sides. A fuzzy figure started taking shape. The figure's features became clear and a woman with waist length, sky-blue hair, a very fat belly, and sparkling green eyes smiled warmly at her.
"Itchan, I miss you, and the babies miss you too. When are you coming home?"
"I miss you too, honey. The way things are going it should still be a few hours. But I'll try to get home as soon as I can."
"Ok, I'll be waiting for you"
"Hey, how about I order us some take-out from our favorite place. Does that sound good?"
"Mmmm, it sure does."
"Ok, we'll make a candle-lit dinner."
"That sounds lovely."
"It's a date, but I have to get back to work now. We're right in the middle of shooting the commercial."
"Ok, I love you so much Itchan. Good bye."
"I love you too, sweetie. Good bye."
Suddenly Ichino was snapped back into the tv studio, and she saw the director waving his hand at her. "Hellooo. Mrs. Christopher Yanagida, are you still there?" She appeared to have been staring off into space.
Ichino laughed nervously. "Sorry about that, I just ummm… got distracted for a moment."
"Okaaaaaay… Well, I went over the script with the representative from Hellogs and we've decided it would be ok for you just to hold the box instead of eating the cereal. Can you manage that?"
"Yeah, no problem."
Ichino was handed a box of Flava Flakes.
"3… 2… 1… Action!"
"Flava Flakes contains 12 essential vitamins and nutrients. It's a smart, healthy part of a balanced breakfast. It gives me the energy to…."
Kris suddenly appeared in front of her again, "Itchan?"
"I was just looking in the fridge, and we're all out of chocolate ice-cream."
"I'll pick up some after work, but I can't talk right now I'm being filmed."
"Ok, I love you, Itchan. Good bye."
"I love you too. Bye."
She then saw the director staring at her, looking absolutely pissed. "I can get you a cue card, if remembering 3 lines is too much for you."
Ichino was beginning to get embarrassed. "No, no, I'm fine. I'll get it this time, I swear."
"All right, if you're sure. You can try again in 3, 2, 1, Action!"
"Flava Flakes contains 12 essential vitamins and nutrients…"
"And we're out of spicy curry too."
"I'll get some, but Kris I'm in the middle of work. I can't talk now."
"Ok, Itchan. See you when you get home. Good bye."
"Are you sure you don't need a cue card?"
"No, I'm sure. Just give me one more chance."
"Flava Flakes contains.."
"And pick up some potato chips and sour cream too."
The vision of Kris disappeared again. "Man, I really need to sever that psychic link," Ichino said to herself out loud.
"I heard that!" Kris's voice shouted inside her head.
"Listen, I didn't mean it…"
"I don't care. I HATE YOU!"
Ichino slapped her own face.
"Are you ok? Do we need to call your psychiatrist?" The director asked.
"No…. I'm fine," Ichino muttered.
"Miki, would you please get her a cue card."
"Listen I don't need a damn cue card! Just let me do it one more time!"
"As you command," the director said with the vein on his forehead pounding. "Action!"
Ichino crushed the cereal box in her hand and started shouting her lines, "Flava Flakes contains 12 essential vitamins, nutrients, and some other junk too! It's a healthy, balanced part of your balanced breakfast! It gives me the energy to run my ass off all morning! That's why I start every day with freaking delicious FLAVA FLAKES!"
Right then a sand bag fell from rafters and landed on the table in front of Ichino, smashing it in half.
"Cut! Ok, that's a wrap."
The elevator door split apart on the 51st floor of one of the better apartment buildings in downtown Osaka. Ichino stepped out, one of her arms weighed down by innumerous bags containing different items of food. Her other arm was wrapped around a small vase from which a number of light-blue flower blooms protruded. She lugged all her things down the hall way until she made it to room 5158, where she lived with Kris. She lifted up her arm with the bags and knocked on the door.
"Kris, it's me. I'm home. Could you come open the door?"
She waited, and there was no response.
"Hey, I know you can hear me. Would you please open the door, I got a lot of stuff here."
There was still no response.
"Fine, I can take a hint." She set down her bags and flowers and fished through the pocket of her jeans until she found her keys. She unlocked the door and pushed it open.
"Mooooooooo!" Gyubei the dairy cow galloped towards the door obviously excited to see her.
"Gyubei stop!" She said as she tripped backwards and fell on her butt, the cow having almost trampled her. Gyubei stopped and stood still with her head hanging out the door-way.
Ichino caught her bearings and picked herself up. She then extracted a red apple from one of the bags on the ground. She held it out in her palm. "Here ya go." Gyubei almost sucked it off her hand. "Yuck!" She wiped the cow slobber onto her shirt.
"Yes, you're a good cow," she said as she petted his head. "You can have the rest later, but you have to let me through the door. I need to talk to your mom."
"Moooooooo." Gyubei backed out of the door way. Her level of intelligence scared Ichino sometimes.
Ichino picked everything up and entered. She started wondering through their vast apartment. Ichino had grown sick of her celebrity status. She got annoyed when people recognized her on the street. Making commercials and tv appearances no longer held the same kind of allure as it did when she was child. Although coaching was her preferred career, she made commercials and tv appearances often, because the extra income provided her and Kris with a comfortable life style. That included this excellent apartment in Osaka, a city which had one of the highest standards of living in the world. This also allowed her to set up a very decent sized nest-egg to make sure her children would get the best.
Finally, she found Kris sitting in her favorite chair. Long, silky, baby-blue hair draped over the back of it. She was staring out the panoramic window watching the sun set, perhaps waiting for the moon to make its appearance. Watching it was one of her favorite activities.
"Honey, I'm home."
Kris's head didn't turn around, and she just continued to silently veer out the window.
"Listen, I know you're mad at me. I really didn't mean what I said earlier, but I'm sorry."
"Come on Kris, you know our link is very special to me. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I really mean it."
"Tell it to someone who cares," she spat venomously.
"Okay, then…. I guess I'll feed these to Gyubei. I'm sure she would like them as a snack."
Kris cocked her head around. She scrunched her face up trying to give the nastiest look she could, but she was obviously just trying to see what Ichino was referring to. Ichino had to stop herself from cracking up at this sight and kept the item in question held behind her back.
After a few more seconds Kris gave in. "Feed what to Gyubei?" She asked with mock disinterest.
Ichino brought the blue potted flowers in front of her. "I saw these and they reminded me of you. I couldn't believe it when the lady at the flower shop told me they were imported from the moon."
Kris's eyes got big. "Lunar Mallows. I used to pick those when I was a little girl in the Begninners' colony."
Ichino handed her the vase, "So I picked the right ones, huh?"
"Yes. I love them."
"Well, I love you." Ichino leaned in, mindful not too press to hard against the flowers or her stomach, and pushed her lips against Kris's. Kris opened her mouth and the kiss deepened. After some time, Ichino finally pulled her lip and tongue from Kris's mouth. "So I guess that means you're not mad at me anymore, huh?"
"No, I forgive you," she said with a half-begrudging tone, remembering she was still supposed to be mad.
"Can I say hi to the babies too?"
Kris smiled widely hearing that. "Of course you can." Kris sat the vase down on a coffee table and then lifted up the skirt of her Beginners' maternity robe, exposing her very fat stomach.
Ichino got down on her knees and rubbed the right side of her stomach, "Hi Emiko." She kissed that side and then moved to rub the right. "Hi Akari." She kissed that side as well. "Whoah, she just kicked…. three times… and punched too."
"That's her normal pace lately. I think she gets it from you."
"Wow, you think so?" Ichino sounded like an amazed little kid.
"Of course I do," Kris said as she stroked her hair. "I just hope she doesn't beat up the other kids like she does me."
Ichino smirked, "I always was a little hell-raiser. Hey, maybe she'll be a kick-boxer." Kris frowned at her. "Or… aaa.. long distance runner. Um, hey, our food is probably getting cold, how about we eat."
"Ok. I am hungry." Ichino helped her up and they made their way towards the kitchen.
Kris sat down at the table. "The cow hasn't been fed yet. Could you do it, Itchan?"
"Sure, no problem." Ichino walked over to one side of the apartment. She picked up a pitch-fork that was hanging on the wall and opened a door near by it. Inside was a large room filled with stacks of rectangular hay bails. Ichino stabbed the pitch fork into one on top of a nearby pile. She then carried it over to Gyubei's corner of the house and deposited in a kiddy-pool sized dish which was next to a trough of water. "There you go Gyubei."
"Mooooooooo!" Gyubei plodded over and commenced to start chewing on the hay.
Ichino walked back over to the kitchen and helped set the table and plate the food. She then took out of storage two bottles of red wine, one vintage 4981 and one non-alcoholic for Kris. She poured them into two glasses. She switched off the lights, turned on two self-lighting candles, and placed them in the middle of the table. They began to eat.
"So how was the commercial?"
"Same old crap. Although… some weird things happened."
"They almost killed me this time."
"What?" Kris asked suddenly very concerned.
"Yeah, stuff kept falling from the ceiling. It was crazy."
"Someone's not trying to kill you are they?"
"No, no, no of course not. The dump is just falling apart, I guess. Don't worry, I won't be working there again." Actually, Kris's suggestion made Ichino realize just how suspicious those "accidents" really were. However, Ichino didn't want to worry her.
"That reminds me, Akari came to me during my nap today."
"Yes. She said she wants us to be careful at the reunion Saturday."
"Wow. Maybe we shouldn't go. I don't want you taking any unnecessary chances." They both had learned to pay close attention whenever Akari told them something in a dream.
"She said to go, but just to be careful."
"Well, ok, if that's what she said. I still can't wait to see everyone again."
"I want to see them, but not like this."
"Oh, stop it. You look great."
"No, I don't."
"I'm not lying. I bet you're still hotter than all of them, even pregnant. Your long hair is so sexy."
"You tell me that everyday."
"Well, it's still true."
Ichino was lulled out of sleep by the sound of sobs. She opened her eyes and looked over to her side. The moon light shined enough that she could make out the stream of tears rolling down Kris's cheek.
"Krissy, what's wrong? Why are you crying?" She asked as she gently brushed away the tears on her left cheek.
"Itchan, I don't think I'm going to be a good mother."
"That's just crazy…. Kris, you're the most loving person I've ever known. I can't really remember my mother, but if I know anything, I know for a fact that you'll be a great mom. You have nothing to worry about."
"Thank you, Itchan." Kris sniffled. "I think you'll be a great mom, too."
"You're welcome, sweetie. Now you need your sleep. You've barely been getting any lately, and I don't want you worrying anymore. Okay?"
"If you're this restless, it means I haven't done my job tonight."
"No, you did just fine."
"Only just fine, huh?" Ichino asked teasingly.
"Yeah, just fine." Kris laughed.
"That's what I like to hear."
Kris moved over and planted her lips on Ichino's. Ichino could taste the saltiness from the tears.
"Good night, Itchan."
"Good night, Kris."
Ichino turned over on her side and closed her eyes. A few minutes later she felt a tug at her shoulder, and heard the sound of Kris rolling over in bed. She knew from ritual what that meant. Kris had a habit of sleeping with Ichino like she was a teddy-bear, and she rarely protested. That had become difficult since she became pregnant with twins, so Kris made Ichino take over the role whenever she could get comfortable, which wasn't often.
Ichino moved her pillow over, and scooted over in bed until she pressed against Kris's backside. She then slid one arm under her, and slid the other under Kris's arm on the top. They were both gripped by Kris's fingers on the other side.
Some time passed before Kris spoke. "Itchan?"
"Do we have any white chocolate?"
"What did you say?" Kris asked sounding agitated.
"Um… nothing. I'll buy some tomorrow, dear."
To Be Continued
Next Chapter Preview: The stage is set for the Battle Athletes Victory reunion. Who will be there? What will happen? Find out in the next, exciting installment.