I have to admit, Akiko Shinozumi had quite the legs... or at least what I could see of them. She's the mathematics sensei, third period. She'd always wear these short, just-above-the-knee skirts and-

Where was I? Oh. Well, Math period... other than Shinozumi-sensei, it was fairly boring. For my part, I studied well enough but math always seemed like an impractical thing in most cases and lacking much utility for my personal style. I guess even a hot teacher can't make linear equations sexy. At least not without a riding crop and some leather chaps.

I leaned my head back while I sat, turning it to one side to watch Daisuke; the boy had smuggled in a soldering iron and was going to work on his T-1, the dark goggles hiding his eyes probably shielded to prevent retinal damage. Not that he likely needed it, but as he likes to say, "Half of Science is fashion for effect! Mwahahaha!"

Yeah, Daisuke was basically bored in math; he probably should've been in a higher function class than I was, but he didn't like the idea of breaking up Captain and Tenille.

I frowned at my thought. Which one was I, I wondered? I hoped that I wasn't the one wearing the dress and required to sing. I might have the voice of a nightingale, but I always felt like I was naked when someone handed me a Mic and specifically wanted me to sing.

Naked and covered in african army ants.

Shinozumi-sensei turned back after finishing writing on the board, "I want all of you to study chapter seventeen and do problems one through one hundred. I expect that won't be too much for most of you, but if you have any questions you can feel free to drop by after-school. I'll be here with the chess-club."

She didn't have half-bad of a smile either, considering some of the other teachers. The bell rang moments after she finished speaking.

I grabbed the twelve pounds of brain melting and soul-crushing equations bound in mass-manufactured cardboard as well as my bento and began the zombie shuffle to the exit. Daisuke joined in beside me with a morbid expression, still wearing those rocking goggles as he nodded noncommitally to me, likely thinking the same undead thoughts as I.

Briefly I looked at the windows behind the students crowding in behind me; you know, it would be pretty convenient to just be able to hop out of one of those. Well, convenient to both hop out and not break half your bones from the stop at the end.

Turning back, I found that Daisuke had somehow melted into the crowd. I ducked down the stairwell and hopped out next to the field to find a seat for lunch. I rolled out to one of the sakura trees right outside the baseball field to watch some of the younger students taking their swings, leaning up against the bark as I flipped open my bento. The smell of Pork buns visciously assaulted my nose like a street boxer roughs up a rookie; right, proper and ugly.

Just the way I like it. Well, not women. Just the smell of pork buns. Swallowing my hunger, I grabbed at the two delectable orbs and promptly shoved both of them quickly into my mouth, leaving barely enough room to chew.

As I deftly decided not to choke, I also reached into my pocket and pulled out the small journal Mom had handed me, running my fingers across the surface of it as I managed to swallow a portion of the pork buns, continuing to work my way through them.

My eyes stung a bit as I recalled the day my grandfather had died; it had been probably the sunniest and most beautiful day I'd ever seen, the sapphire sky seemed to contain a quiet luminescence. I shook my head, closing my eyes for a moment before I unbound the elastic band and opened the journal to a random page.

In neat Kanji on the right page, it said, "Journey's are not always for the vagabond. Sometimes the wind brings those who wander home to who needs them. We are always seeking something, and much times cannot ourselves find fulfillment. As the master tells us, the empty hand cannot receive; but also it is that the open hand is wanting, and the heart does not always know what it yearns for. Sometimes the open hand can only receive what is given from outside the circle, and is closed for all others."

I swallowed the rest of my pork bun, almost hearing the calm cadence of my Grandfather's voice reciting such things as my small hands felt harried to get every word down as if each were small revelations from the I Ching. My eyes glided to the left page, reading the words written there.

I murmured them quietly under my breath, even as I found myself smiling, "Don't drink Sapporo, for beer is like pig swill. Sake is warm and satisfying to the soul, the friend and probably the ladies too. Also don't drink Sake cold. People will think you are crazy, and you probably are."

Yeah, Grandpa was like that. I rubbed at my eyes, finding that I'd teared up a bit. Rebinding the notebook, I slipped it back into my pocket and continued with my bento, having assassinated the pork buns I moved my death claws to the delicious Unagi, shoveling them into my mouth with delicious and mouthwatering abandon.

Looking up as I licked the barbeque from my fingers, I saw Mihoko sidling towards me. I savored the look of her knee-socks and how her skirt seemed to sashay with her hips. I slowly rose and leaned against the tree for support, giving her my best smile. She was holding something out to me, though for a brief moment I'd been imagining her in a leotard performing swan lake...

My eyes connected with hers, and I cleared my throat, rewinding what I might've heard in my head. "Uhm, I don't know." That's the ticket, Hiroshi! Admit you were fantasizing rather than paying proper attention.

"This! Your weird friend, he's planning something," She thrust a paper into my hand, crossing her arm's beneath her bosom and accentuating some of my favorite curves. "You'd better not check it out, it'll only lead to trouble."

I gave her one of those plaintive, kicked puppy looks, "He's my friend, what trouble could we get into?" Yeah, I know. Famous last words.

Smoothing the slightly crumpled paper, I inwardly groaned as I saw Daisuke on the flyer, sporting those goofy goggles from earlier and what looked like an MP hat, a urgent digit pointing to the viewer of the flyer. "Nakano's Army wants YOU! Are you looking for the thrill of excitement, the rush of adrenaline? We're talking war, war, WAR!" I paused in reading to look up to Mihoko who was giving me a disapproving look, as if she knew that I probably wasn't going to listen to her about not going.

Yeah, you know, those 'Laser Eyes' that girls have.

Clearing my throat and pulling a bit at my collar, I looked at the address at the bottom. "Okay, so it's some silly flyer Dai conjured up. Maybe he's having a movie party again or something."

She strolled around the tree, then leaned against it, her arms still crossed as she somehow looked down at me... despite the fact that she was an inch shorter than I am. "The last time you two got up to something, you were both suspended for a week for-"

"-Concocting a very real mass murder scene for Zombie Week. Hey, most of those dummies were made of ham," I grinned as I remembered that week. Sure, it wasn't fun being in the lock-up for potential murder before forensics came back with pork positive, "I still remember Daisuke gnawing on that false arm in the cell."

She persisted with her insidious and maddening glare, like an animated jack-hammer with tunnel-vision. And boobs. I stopped leaning against the tree and smoothed my uniform with my free hand, "Come to think of it, where did Daisuke get so much ham?"

"Hiroshi!" Now she had that frustrated, pleading tone of voice. You know, that tone girls get when they are frustrated with you not paying attention, even if maybe you are paying attention but they use that tone as if you aren't and... moving on.

I took one long look at the address then heaved a deep sigh, crumpling the flyer and tossing it at the nearby trash-can, only to miss by several inches so that I had to rush over, pick it up and toss it in yet again. I heard Mihoko follow me, and turning I gave her a stearn if a bit morose expression.

"Mihoko, while I greatly value your boobs, I am sorry... but my loyalty to General Nakano is insurmountable," Her eye twitched in a somewhat cute, if irate manner when I mentioned her boobs. Clasping a hand to my breast and closing my eyes, I put on my best tone of melancholy, "Were it not for General Nakano, All of my goats and sheep would now be dead and my family would not survive the winter."

I opened one eye to look at her, the cold expression she was giving me as she ran a hand through her hair then rubbed briefly at one temple. "Hiroshi, you're going to get yourself in trouble."

Then I clasped her hands suddenly, focusing on making my eyes mist, "Oh Mihoko, my darling, please do not force me to choose between my allegiance and my love, for- for I would be split in twain! Honor and country or peace and happiness? Oh, the difficult choice!"

I saw her facade start to crack a bit, a slight quirk of the lips right there in the corner. "Hiroshi, isn't Daisuke supposed to be the melodramatic one?"

I stared into her eyes, tilting my head slightly as I squeezed her hands. "Hey, I've got my moments too."

"Well don't. It's unflattering," Her tone was serious but her smile said otherwise. "I forbid you to go."

I turned away from her, the back of one hand pressed plaintively against my brow, "Then I must betray my love and steal away, for my army needs me, and the General commands it!" I leaned heavily upon the wall, as if forlorn of my decision. I could feel Mihoko debating whether she should hit me with something upside the head or indulge in my dramatic flare.

I heard her give a deep sigh, resigning herself to the inevitable. "Maybe I could come with you and try to do some damage control."

I spun, holding out a hand and placing it right on her boob. Her right boob. Right on her right boob. "You ah- you shouldn't-" I quickly removed it as her eyes gathered those soul burning inferno's sweltering in my direction, warning me of pain and punishment if I didn't heed the previous argument we'd had about groping her in public. "I mean, Mihoko, that this is a guy's thing. You'd probably be bored and, well, I know you think Daisuke is an eccentric sort-"

She shifted her weight to one foot, one hip sticking out as she again crossed her arms, her slender eyebrows lowering in an intimidating, if incredulous, expression, "You say that as if I'm the only person who thinks that about your weird friend," She gave a quick chirp of laughter as she waved her hand in mid air, "Trust me, there's no way that anyone else in the student body hasn't already figured THAT out."

I shoved my hands in my pockets, feeling the worn leather binding of my notebook pressing against my fingertips as I looked at Mihoko's eyes. My fingers traced the edges of its bindings, the sensation of the tightly bound pages pressing furtively against my skin, "I don't get to spend much time around Daisuke since we started dating, and we've known each other since we were toddlers."

Quietly she looked at me, her eyebrows not as questioning or incredulous, wearing one of those cool and expressionless masks that cause men to sweat for miles. "I know, Hiroshi. I'd like to come along if you don't mind. Hey," She clasped her hands in front of herself, looking down for a brief moment as a gentle smile actually appeared. "I know he's important to you, and I don't want to interfere. Could you just humor me?"

I groaned, looking up at the clouds in the sky and wondering if clouds ever had girlfriend problems. Likely not, considering they were mostly made up of water vapor. I had the good sense to scowl at the last thought; that one was Daisuke's. He hadn't been around much and I'd been filling in some of his more common reactions. I knew I wasn't about to win with Mihoko. "Fine, fine, you can come too. But Daisuke'll have to vet you for whatever he has planned."

"Afterschool, then. I'll see you later," She leaned up, looking a bit nervous and kissed me softly on the lips. I blinked several times, noticing her blush as her fingers seemed tangled rightly in the pleats of her skirt, knuckles white.

"Y-yeah, I'll see you then." I touched my lips, it was the first time she'd kissed me out in public. Looking around, I saw that a few people had noticed, and heard the chime of a few girlish giggles directed at us.

Turning my head back, I saw Mihoko hurrying back inside, her head down and the back of her neck noticably red.

I fished my journal out of my pocket and opened it to a random page again, having to flip back as I'd turned into the blank areas of the book. "Hearts are often like the butterfly that you try to catch with the net; you chase and chase and your efforts are ill-rewarded. Ah, but Hiroshi, if you stand as the tree with palms open, then you will find your hands full."

I smiled as my words seemed to hang in my mind for a moment, closing the book and holding it to my lips as I considered the words I'd read aloud. Tilting my head back, I wondered aloud to myself. "Sounds a lot like Ranma."

I spent a bit of time reading from the start of my old journal. Wedged between my Grandfather's aphorisms were personal thoughts of mine at six and seven years old, written in a surprisingly steady hand. With each sentence there was a lingering memory as brilliant and vibrant as the first day experienced. It was as if old and familiar toys were being brushed of cobwebs and dust, the feeling about as tangible as holding an old snow-globe whose music box still works.

The kind of thoughts that made my heart pound and ache as my mind struggled to contain the feelings they conveyed with each turning of a page. Fortunately, the bell saved me from any unfortuitous breakdowns in front of ball-playing girls. Though trust me, my eyes were a bit hazy while I was jaunting back in, hand tucking the journal back into my jacket pocket.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, well, other than Happosai attempting to convince the Rhythmic Gymnastics team that he was actually the substitute teacher; his old lady costume was fairly convincing, not that Ranma'd let him get away with any such nonsense. Oh, and Then there was the fight Ranma had with Kunou during the final period, I had heard something about a failed marriage attempt between Akane and Ranma.

Just a regular day in Nerima, really. Heck, it was par for the course for Furenkin. I was dwelling on all the craziness that Ranma had brought to our prestigious school in his short time here while I bounced down the steps at the end of the day, daydreaming about the various events and excitements.

In my daydreaming, I found myself wandering past the school swimming pool and I paused, looking into the swimming pool at a floating baseball. It seemed to swirl about, being pushed around by the jet currents in the pool and just going around and around in circles. I must've watched it for a good five minutes before I noticed someone else was standing on the other side of the pool.

Looking up, I noticed the red-hair and chinese slacks. I stared for a moment, not really certain why, but there was something... odd about this moment. Strange in a way that words couldn't describe. I held up a hand and waved silently. Ranma looked up and waved herself.

"Hey, Hiroshi!" She said, looking about as dazed as I was. It was only a moment later that I saw Akane tugging on Ranma's shirt. The redhead looked at Akane and turned to walk off with her. I noticed they stood closer together now, and as they talked they both wore a calm and accepting expression, as if they'd been through something profound.

I shook my head, wondering at the two of them. I felt warm inside that the two of them were finally getting along somewhat, wondering what might've happened on their China trip to smooth out some of the wrinkles in their relationship. I also found myself praying to the spirits to watch over them. While I'd certainly miss the craziness around the two of them if it suddenly stopped, everyone deserves a bit of happiness.

In all honesty it was a little like letting out a breath you'd held too long, seeing them getting on with each other. And to match the metaphor, I let out a deep breath myself, smiling as I watched the two of them walk off.

I turned a few minutes later, hearing Mihoko coming up behind me and smiled at her, one hand in my pocket and the other holding my school bag. "Hey there you."

"Hey yourself, what's with the silly grin?" She fell into step beside me as we started walking, her hands holding her schoolbag in front of her as she walked. "It- doesn't have anything to do with- uhm, that kiss, does it?" She asked, sounding rather concerned.

"What? Oh no, not that. It's just Ranma and Akane; They finally seem to be getting along," I breathed in deeply again and exhaled, holding my hands up as I raucously exclained, "The day is green, the sky is clear, the sun is warm and the wind is cool! What a fine moment to be alive."

Mihoko gave me a look like I was an unexpectedly dead fish on her bedpillow. "Are you alright, Hiroshi?"

I held my arms up higher, as if wanting to hug a cloud. "I'm great! Moments like these give me energy. It is immortal moments of warmth that show us our kinship." My words only seemed to make the flutter in my heart more ecstatic. I patted my pockets, tugging out my journal and then searching for a... for a...

Mihoko held a pen out to me, it had a marble finish to it in a deep forest green color. "Ah, thanks Mihoko." I felt my own cheeks blush this time as I cracked the book open and wrote my thought within, "Cherish immortal moments, undying and eternal; for wonder and joy live in them."

I turned the pen to close it as I looked down at the words I'd written. I felt tingles on my skin; it had been years since I'd written anything in the book, and years still since I'd considered anything in it. There was the definite sense of walking into a musty attic, pulling away cobwebs and brushing dusty leather suitcases and boxes to peer in vereration of bygone memories.

"Are you alright?" She asked me, and looking up I saw that her expression was guarded and strained. "I've never seen you so-"

I laughed a bit, "It's okay," I held up the notebook, awkwardly as I handed the pen back, "Just something I used to jot down thoughts in when I was a kid. Haven't done that since my Grandfather passed."

Mihoko's expression looked a bit relieved, perhaps a touch of apologetic? She held her hand out, "Keep the pen... and I'm sorry about your grandfather."

I looked down at the pen, then at Mihoko before rebinding the notebook and hooking the pen onto the front cover. "It's alright, he died quite a while ago. It's been years since I even talked much about him to anyone." Huh... come to think of it, before Mom brought it up the other night, I hadn't really spoken about him since the funeral. Weird.

No worries, though. Shaking my head to free it of the wanderlust, I smiled again at Mihoko, "Are you certain you want to come along? It might end up being something really crazy, and weren't you worried about getting into trouble?"

"I'm worried about YOU getting into trouble, Hiroshi," Her cheeks colored as she looked down at the sidewalk as we started heading towards the warehouse. "I'm a girl, I couldn't possibly get into as much trouble as you boys frequently do."

Tucking the notebook back into my pocket, I puffed out my chest, "Well, boys will be boys, Miho-chan."

She groaned exhaustively, "Yes, that is after all what I'm afraid of."