Thank you for opting to read my fanfic! I hope it is to your liking. I don't really have it all planned yet, but expect it to be somewhere around fifteen to thirty chapters long. It all depends on what I can come up with. Anyway, enjoy the prologue (in Garu's POV!!)!!

Pucca has been my 'girlfriend' for nearly ten years now. It's ridiculous, really. She's only fifteen, and I turned seventeen just a few months ago. Yup, that's right- I've been her 'boyfriend' since the tender age of seven.

I first came to Sooga Village when I was six years old, after the death of my father. My mother told me he had been very ill, and that was how he had died. It wasn't until much later that I'd found out that it was hara-qiri (1). All my father's life, he'd only wanted to restore our family's honor. Some ancestor of mine apparently did some horribly dishonorable thing, no one really knows what, and it's up to the rest of us to fix that- now, more specifically, me.

My mother sent me to Sooga to learn the life of a ninja, and, of course, to find a way to restore my family's honor.

The villagers were always friendly and helpful to me, but I still missed my family that first long year. I knew that there was no way I could go back empty-handed, so I drowned my loneliness with rigorous training. Every morning, I'd start with a simple run through the bamboo forest, with a few jumping exercises here and there too. After that, I'd train at the local dojo until noon. I'd give myself a lunch break, in which I'd work on my house, then practice combat skills with my ninja dummies. Once it started getting dark, I would finally call it a day and prepare my dinner.

This was my life for a whole year. The same thing, every day. The only people I really knew were the Dumpling Brothers, who ran the Guh-Ryong restaurant, and a couple of others I recognized from the dojo. I managed to keep up with what was going on; being a ninja-in-training, it was mandatory to know my surroundings.

I guess that was how I first heard about Pucca. Her parents were old friends of the Dumpling Brothers, but had died in some freak accident. And so it was that Uncle Dumpling, Linguini, and Ho became her official guardians.

I thought nothing of it at the time- what did some five-year-old girl matter to me? Nothing, is what I thought. How horribly, horribly, horribly, horribly wrong I was.

It had been just another day in my life. I'd finished training at the dojo for the day, eaten lunch, and was on my way back home for a nap. Just as I was turning onto the path that led straight home, I heard something. I tracked the sound for a hundred or so yards to find a small girl crying at the base of a weak but branchiful (2) tree. A broken branch lay next to her, immediately clarifying the situation.

I cautiously approached her, not sure how to handle this- girls aren't exactly my thing- and knelt down next to her. She looked up at me with teary eyes, sniffled, then sobbed, "I felled out of the twee and- and- and hurt my knee."

I took in her pitiful appearance, from her tear-stained face and banged-up knee to the giant red shirt that threatened to swallow her whole, and- I still can't believe, to this very day, that I did this- kissed her scraped knee. When I looked back at her, she looked completely bewildered, but then her face split into the most brilliant smile I've ever seen before. She threw herself at me and wrapped her arms as tightly as possible around my middle. There are no words to describe the stampede of emotions that trampled me then. Confusion, fear, disgust, fear, shock, confusion, more fear, and, oddest of all, like something was right. Like I'd done something I was supposed to.

I took her back home to Guh-Ryong. She held my hand the whole way, and kept giggling and smiling. I have to admit, it was kinda cute. The Dumpling Brothers fussed over her like a flock of hens, of course, and thanked me in earnest for 'rescuing' their 'beloved Pucca' and a bunch of other lovey-dovey stuff like that. To be honest, I was a little overwhelmed by it all.

The next morning, I found Pucca standing by my door with a small piece of paper in her hand. On it was a crayoned drawing of the two of us holding hands, with a scrawled 'Thank You' in big red letters. I blinked a couple of times, not entirely sure what to think. She just giggled delightedly and skipped off.

And that was how Pucca and I became friends.

How, then, did it become what it is now? I'm still not exactly sure. I mean, I should've seen it coming! I was the best ninja in all of Sooga! Why didn't I ever notice it? All of the signs were there, laid out in front of me. I was just too young, too scared, to see them. The possibility of her falling in love with me had never occurred to me before. And how could it? I was only seven!

She always wanted to hold my hand on our walks together. I never thought anything of it. She was a little girl, right? And little girls like holding hands. At least, that's what I figured at the time.

Then there was the time when she did her hair to match mine. I'd only recently started tying my hair up, it was getting far too long to be practical in training, and she almost immediately starts tying her hair up as well. Not exactly like mine, but in more of an odango (3) style.

She even took a vow of silence, just as I had. I remember how fascinated she'd been with my silence. Every time I would simply nod or grunt in reply to one of her never-ending questions, she'd giggle and wrap her arms around my middle. And I mean it when I say every single time!

These small signs continued for the next few months, until one day in late September. It was your typical sunshine-y, flower-blooming, bird-twittering day in Sooga, aside from the fact that the first chills of autumn were blowing in. Pucca and I were engaging in our usual activity of writing messages to each other in the sand. Nothing seemed amiss, until, out of the blue, Pucca writes, 'Do you like me, Garu?'

I blinked, my typical expression of surprise, and wrote back, 'Of course I do. You're my only friend here, Pucca.'

Her crestfallen countenance befuddled me. Sadly, she replied, 'I don't mean like a friend.'

The message was so faint that I had to lean real close to read it. I squinted a little, not sure that I read it right…and then the full meaning of it smacked me right in the face. Scrabbling at one last fragile hope, I asked, 'Then how do you mean?'

For years and years, I regretted asking that question. Her face immediately flushed. Then, with absolutely no warning whatsoever, she grabbed my hand, leaned forward, and kissed me right on the lips! It was mortifying.

I tried to avoid her as much as possible the next few days, trying desperately to figure out what exactly had happened. Of course, she only took this as incentive to chase after me and kiss me again. And again. And again. And again.

And this is how it's been for the past ten years. She approaches, I run, she chases, I run faster, she tackles, I try to escape, she kisses me half to death. Every single day. Day in, day out. Not even the night was safe anymore! Well, I managed to convince her to at least let me get the sleep I needed. She quickly agreed to that, of course, never wanting her precious Garu to suffer. Yecch.

So anyway, that's how it's been for us. I eventually came to see her as only an obsessive love-crazed girl that must be avoided at all costs. Gone were the innocent days of our friendship, when I enjoyed her company. Never again would our life be like that again. For the past ten years, I've known only one absolute truth in my life- there was no way I could ever love Pucca.

But, as always, fate had something different in store for me.

So, that's the end of the prologue! I'll have chapter 1 up soon (I hope... ; ). Here's a list explaining some things that might not be common knowledge-

1) hara-qiri- Hara-qiri is Japanese for committing suicide out of loss of honor. For you history/samurai nuts, it's like how the samurai would commit senpuku if they failed a mission or dishonored their lords. A little morbid, yes, but it made a lot of sense to me when I came up with it.

2) branchiful- This is a word we came up with at camp. Its meaning is pretty obvious. A branchiful tree, for instance, would be a tree with a lot of branches on it.

3) odango- This is the Japanese word for the dumpling hairstyle that Pucca has (and some Sailor Moon characters, too).

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