So, I realized I hadn't updated this thing in, like, ever, and that really bothered me. But I couldn't really get into proper Takeshi-mode, so I decided to just let Ai and co. do the bitching for me. And more setting up for later…

Girl Talk

"I'm just so worried for him…"

"Yoshi, come sit," Ai called from her bed. She was spread out over the numerous sheets, and kept giggling at random. It might have had something to do with the impression Yoshi was doing of a mother hen, or it might have had something to do with the near-empty champagne glass held loosely in her fingers. "And have a drink. And stop worrying. He's just being an asshole, like always."

"Oh, Princess," Yoshi sighed dramatically. "I've just known him for so long. He's like a living rollercoaster. He worries me."

"I worry about him too," Tess said from the smaller mattress that the hotel maids had brought up for her. She had changed into a plain t-shirt and just panties. The dragons of her wings were snapping at each other playfully, and every once in a while she had to shush them. "It's been bothering me quite a bit, lately."

Ai nearly dropped her glass. "What, seriously?"

Tess nodded. "His loyalties are torn. It's easy to see. He's not on our side."

"Oh, Tess, that's nonsense!" Yoshi protested. "Takeshi is loyal as…as…as a puppy!"

Ai cackled at that. She could see Tattoo Boy with short brown fur and a cute wagging tail.

"And that's the problem right now," Yoshi continued. "He's been with Hayabusa for so long…he's getting stuck in cycles. He's just been on a downward spiral…ever since his break up with Yuri…"

Ai sat up. "Tell me about this Yuri girl. I've never heard anybody else even talk about her."

"Oh, Ai," Yoshi pressed a hand to his burning cheeks. "I shouldn't. Really. Takeshi's privacy---"

"But Yooooo-ssssssshhiiiiiii…" Ai whined. "I hate secrets so much, and I want to know about this so much…"

"Oh, fine!" Yoshi giggled and plopped himself down on the mattress next to Ai. "Well…I only met her once or twice. Takeshi kept her a bit of a mystery from the rest of us. But she had all three of his weaknesses---"

"Which are?" Ai asked.

"Black hair," Yoshi ticked off on his fingers. "Pale skin. Long legs."

"The vixen type, huh?"

"No, she didn't really strike me as much of a "vixen". She always looked…well, sleepy. Or stoned. Her eyes never seemed to be all the way open, like she was glaring at you. And she always spoke very softly, from the back of her throat, like she was growling. Or purring. I don't know," Yoshi plucked Ai's glass from her fingers and took a swig. "I can't say I entirely approved of her."

"Huh. Join the club," Ai snatched her glass back. "I don't like her already."

"But Takeshi seemed so happy with her. He always had this huge smile plastered on his face. Not his smarmy, customer-satisfaction act, though. A real smile. Like, whatever energy she didn't have, he could compensate."

Ai stared into the dregs of her champagne meditatively, and reached for the bottle to pour herself another. "And after they broke up?"

"Oh, gosh, I don't even know. It was like a personality switch. He got the stoner-look, and he was so apathetic about everything. It only got worse when Mika got on the scene."

Ai snorted. She could bet. "So that's his type? Dark-haired, squinty-eyed ghost girls…well," She sniffed. "At least he won't be looking at me twice anytime soon. It'd be too creepy."

"But he's been more like himself since you signed on, Ai. Not entirely back, but better." Yoshi sighed. "Except, of course, for this tour. It's major stress."

"Well, I wouldn't have thrown anything at him if he hadn't been such an asshole," Ai said stubbornly. "He was acting like me and Tess were…were…!"

"I'm sure he was only kidding, Princess," Yoshi said, mollifying.

"I'm not so sure," Tess glowered from her corner.

"Oh, you two!" Yoshi tittered. "You only ever look for the worst in him."

"Usually that's all I can see," Ai said moodily.

"It may be because Jen isn't here to make us behave," Tess said thoughtfully.

"Well, while she's NOT here, I just want to say that the softest side of Takeshi I've ever seen is guilty," Ai stated. "Beyond that, I don't know how capable he is of being much of a lover."

"Oh, Ai," Yoshi smiled warmly. "You really don't know him at all."


"Takeshi can be very sweet. And thoughtful."

"What, when he's not being a hot-head?"

Yoshi nodded earnestly. "Just get him drunk one day, and you'll see. He's the sappiest drunk I've ever seen in my life."

Ai glanced suggestively at Tess. "Drunk, huh?"

"The truth is, Takeshi has major dependency issues. He gets attached to people, and he hates change. It makes him feel unstable. He said something once," Yoshi trailed off thoughtfully, "About how he felt like Yuri was an anchor for him…"

"An anchor," Ai snickered. "That's an attractive way to describe a girl."

"Anyway, you watch out, Princess," Yoshi stood up and dusted himself off. "He's looking to pick a fight now, and you keep presenting opportunities."

"Huh? Where are you going?" Ai held out her glass. "Have some more! This stuff is so bubbly!"

"Speaking of that, don't drink any more," Yoshi plucked the glass from her hand and set it firmly on the mini bar counter. "I have to help with some of the preparations for rehearsal. That's in just an hour or two, you realize," He added pointedly. "Try to get some more rest, okay?"

Ai pouted. "Yes, ma'am."

Yoshi squealed and wrapped her up in a big bear hug. "Oh, you're just too cute! Be good. No more shredded curtains, okay?"

"Okay," Ai mumbled into Yoshi's not-cleavage.

When Yoshi had bustled his way out of the room, Ai turned to Tess and smiled. "A sappy drunk, huh?"

Tess' eyebrows shot up, but she was quick to smirk back. "A drunk Takeshi," She said slowly, "Would be a real treat for the eye."