Disclaimer: I do not own, nor do I expect to own, either the Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z franchise, nor the Powerpuff Girls franchise. Don't sue me as I already have too substantial a debt to care.

Author's Notes: I'll admit to knowing painfully little about this series and its characters beyond a few episodes' experience. Most of what I know is gleaned from a friend of mine, the first three or four episodes, and several other fan fics. This is my first stab at anything even vaguely related to this, and I hope it will meet all of your standards. Thank you for reading.

The plot idea is thanks to Korinbird, and many many thanks to my Neechan, Spiritmage, for beta-reading for me. Love ya both!

Lace and a Blushing Face

By OkashiraShinomori

Eyeing the stuffed octopus dubiously, Kaoru settled down on a pillow, her back to the bed that sat in the center of her room. Miyako went about, unaware of the unsettled gaze focused vaguely on her. The dark-haired girl wrapped her arms tighter around herself and all-but glared at the stuffed cephalopod. It was better, after all, than looking at most of the rest of the room. Its contents, feminine to the most frighteningly extreme extent, were rather harder on her vision. "You should've cleaned up before I got here," Kaoru admonished. To her eye, there was nothing to be cleaned, but Miyako seemed to see things differently, and was meandering about the room straightening things that looked straight, and fluffing pillows that were fit to burst.

The other girl looked up, eyes bright and without sign that she had understood the words spoken, at least beyond that Kaoru had spoken to her. "Just tidying things up!" she chirped, adjusting the stance of a stuffed bear and giving it a pat on the head before spinning about and looking about the room. "Now, where did I put it..." she murmured to herself, catching her lower lip between her teeth in thought.

Kaoru raised an eyebrow and decided to risk a glance around the room itself, though she had no idea what it was Miyako was searching for. "Where'd you put what?"

Miyako looked back at her and smiled again, waving a hand dismissively. It wasn't, Kaoru noted, the hand attached to the arm attached to Octi. "'Cause if you're looking for that it's on your arm," she pointed out, more to broach the subject one way or another than to actually point out what she thought was the object of her search.

With a blink, Miyako followed Kaoru's gaze to the upper part of her left arm. The tentacles of a purple stuffed octopus encircled her arm, securing it to her as if it were an extension of herself. It seemed to Kaoru that it sometimes was. "Octi?" she asked, slipping the stuffed animal from her arm and undoing his tentacles so that they hung loosely below him. "No, I knew where he was," she answered, lifting him up to sit her on her shoulder before flashing an innocent grin as ever at Kaoru. "I always know where he is."

Rolling her eyes at her friend as she plopped down onto her well-made bed, Kaoru sunk back deeper into the plush bit of furniture. "I've noticed, trust me," she muttered. Kaoru reached down and fiddled with her hat, setting it more upright as its top-heavy weight had caused it to flatten, looking something like a semi-deflated balloon. Though not nearly the same, Kaoru noted her own attachment to something similar to Octi, and ferverently hoped for the sake of her point that Miyako wouldn't mention her hat. It wasn't that she was attached to it, it was more that she...well, maybe she was attached to it.

"What do you mean?" Miyako asked, her head cocked to the side curiously. She reached up and shifted the weight of the little purple octopus, setting his hat straight and looking back down at Kaoru.

Kaoru waved her hand dismissively and slumped down against the bed so that the back of her head rested against the metal of the bed frame. It was cold and uncomfortable, but it seemed to be the only part of the bright and girly room that was nice and concrete. She closed her eyes and was about to open her mouth to inquire as to when Momoko was supposed to be there when she felt the bed shift behind her and heard the sound of skin sliding along a silk comforter. "Please, Kaoru-san?" she heard a voice plead, curiosity heavy on the words.

Rolling her eyes beneath her eyelids, Kaoru sat up straight, leaning forward and away from the bed. "It just looks so..." she trailed off, searching for the right word. One that would get her point across and not wound too much. "...childish," she finished, her gaze locked unconsciously on some dress hanging near Miyako's door. Normally she would have stuck her tongue out or made some sort of otherwise disgusted face and looked away to something less frighteningly frilly. This time, however, she was afraid to look away to see the effects of her words.

There was silence, and Kaoru wondered if it would have been better to have simply bit her tongue and forcefully changed the subject. "How is it...childish?" Miyako asked, her voice soft. As soft as the sheets on her bed or the dresses strewn about the room. Kaoru stiffened as she could all but see the way her blue eyes shimmered like so much water, hurt, possibly. Or maybe it was her imagination, setting herself up with the worst case scenario. A tiny analytical part of her mind asked why Miyako's unhappiness, her tears, her hurt, were the worst case, but she tuned it out in favor of thinking of an answer.

"Well, c'mon, it's like..." She turned around, biting the figurative bullet and looking up at Miyako. The light was coming in from her bedroom window, and it reflected wildly off of her hair, particularly the few strands that had sprung loose from their binding, making them look all the odder as they reflected light in random directions. She reached out to poke the stuffed octopus, though she was distant enough her finger only brushed his hat. "He's a stuffed animal. He belongs in your room." She looked pointedly at Miyako. "Not in a restaurant, or a mall, or wherever."

Seeking Kaoru's eyes with her own, and finding the other girl wouldn't quite meet her gaze, Miyako frowned. "But...he's Octi." She looked down at her shoulder and reached up to fix him where Kaoru had knocked the little form slightly askew. "I've had him for years. It would feel weird to just...leave him behind. Like I forgot him or like he wasn't important anymore."

Kaoru looked down at the floor, picking at the material with her fingers absently, feeling it rise and fall again under her hands. It made her wonder how old the house was that the carpet was loose enough to move that much. "He's a stuffed animal, Miyako," the emerald-eyed girl reiterated. "He's not a friend; you're not supposed to let him take the place of one." She looked up at the octopus in question dubiously. "And with him on your arm, I really don't think you're gonna make any new ones..."

Miyako's shoulders slumped slightly, and Octi seemed to dip as well. She looked away from Kaoru and towards the pillows on her bed. "But he is my friend, Kaoru-san." She lifted a hand and waved it vaguely through the air, trying to communicate something, or physically work her way through her words, maybe trying to feel out the right one. "I've had Octi longer than I've known anyone but my grandmother."

"Yeah, but he just...sits there," Kaoru answered. "Looking kind of weird." She probably should have regretted it, she realized, but the words were out and it wasn't her way to regret anything if she could help it. "You have other friends, real friends, who'll be here longer than the eight-armed eggplant," she continued. Realizing the conversation was getting steadily deeper, she coughed, hoping to derail the line of thinking. "It just feels weird sometimes wondering if you're thinking more about Octi than about me." Kaoru didn't realize she'd paused until it sounded awkward. "Or Momoko." She winced inwardly as she realized how much like an afterthought it sounded.

Again the sound of movement on the bed, and the creak of springs as a weight was eased from it. "Does it seem like that?" Miyako asked. Her voice was quiet and low, perhaps slightly husky. At the volume it was, one that Kaoru wasn't used to hearing, it was hard to tell. Kaoru's shoulders stiffened in preparation of...of something. She wasn't sure what, exactly, and she forced herself to relax as she knew Miyako stepped closer.

After a moment of no continued questions or any kind of contact, Kaoru shrugged, keeping her gaze carefully away once more, though this time her senses were directed behind her, trying to pinpoint the actions and movements of the other girl. "Sometimes."

The air moved beside and behind her, and she had to resist the sudden urge to scoot away, knowing in the pit of her stomach (as that was where she assumed it came from, as a lump had suddenly appeared there) what was very likely coming. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, preparing some sort of rebuff when she felt something soft and fuzzy alight on her shoulder. Her eyes snapped open and Kaoru turned her head to find herself staring Octi in his inexpressive face. "Are you jealous of me?" Miyako's voice asked, a few decibels too low and too grating. The little purple form cocked to one side in what was an obvious question, and Kaoru stared at it, more than slightly dumbfounded.

"Uh..."

Miyako giggled, in her normal voice, and Octi disappeared from Kaoru's field of vision. A sudden weight against her back forced her to lean forward a little, and she could feel Miyako's hair brush against her own in a way that made her feel each strand as it shifted. Shaking the feeling, Kaoru turned her face away, to face front once more, both so that she didn't feel stray blonde strands brushing her cheek, or that Octi might see the light pink blush on her cheeks. Wait a minute...

"You're silly, Kaoru-san," Miyako said, her voice as light as when she'd giggled a second ago. "He's not a better friend, or a more important one, or anything like that." She picked up the little stuffed animal again and held him before her where Kaoru couldn't see it. "He's just...something comfortable to have around. When I need comfort, I guess." She leaned back more against Kaoru and fiddled with the little stuffed form.

"Yeah, well, that's what I'm for, y'know?" Kaoru muttered gruffly, clearing her throat afterwards.

There was a short pause, no longer than the intake of a breath, and Kaoru immediately regretted the straightforwardness with which she had stated that. She opened her mouth to amend her statement, play it down somehow, when the weight against her back shifted before leaving entirely. Her back felt cold.

Again the small weight of the stuffed animal alighted on her shoulder, and Kaoru turned her head quickly, surprised. Though she'd had several possible scenarios run through her mind in the instant between her words and now, none of them had involved Octi. Again he cocked to the side, somehow not seeming curious, then bounced forward and pressed what was designed to be his face against Kaoru's cheek.

"It's sweet of you to care so much about my Miyako," the lower voice that Miyako used when addressing someone as Octi stated, somehow managing to seem fatherly, despite the fact that it came from disfigured purple stuffed animal.

"And I really appreciate it, Kaoru-san," Miyako finished from the other side, surprising Kaoru again. Before she could turn about to answer her, though she didn't really have an answer, she felt the situation from before mirrored in the soft feeling of Miyako's lips against her other cheek. Her body went rigid, immobile for the instantaneous eternity that the kiss lasted, and anything resembling words of response died in her mind as other non-autonomous functions did.

As the softness departed from her cheek, she turned around, breathing again, to catch Miyako's gaze. It wasn't until she saw the blush on the blonde's cheeks that she realized she was blushing a flatteringly girly shade of pink as well, and she gripped her hat in her hands quickly, something to fiddle with, and stammered something entirely unintelligible even to her.

Miyako stood up, Octi still in hand, and started to the door of the room. As her hand fell on the knob, Kaoru realized she could hear the doorbell ringing, leading to the realization that her heart had been beating in her ears loud enough that she would have been unable to hear either Miyako or the doorbell earlier. She tried to stammer something again and pushed herself to her feet, but Miyako's smile and a shake of her head set her back to the floor as easily as if she'd pushed her down, the meaning fairly clear. Momoko was finally there, it seemed. Kaoru couldn't decide if it was a relief or an annoyance as Miyako disappeared through the doorway to greet their mutual friend.

Author's Notes: I hope you all enjoyed this, though I'm dubious on its ending. Again, my lack of experience with these characters gives me cause to pause in my own judging of it, and I ask humbly that you all leave a bit of wisdom for me in the form of a review. Criticize away, please!