In case I have a brain fart and forget to say so in the summery, this story is the sequel to "Nuevo Rich Princess" ("Nouvaeu Riche Princess", if I ever end up cleaning it up), which is itself the sequel to "Don't Call Me Takun" (which also needs to be cleaned up). Also something I might as well mention while we're here, this takes place when Naota is eighteen, which is six years after FLCL and DCMT, and three years after NRP. The age fits, the story, and besides, it keeps the pattern going.

All the Stars in Heaven

S-Michael

Naota got off the bus in Mabase, still feeling like scum. Eri grabbed him and kissed him. "So, how are things with your brother?"

"I hope Tasuku gets run over by a bus," Naota said darkly. Partially, he was redirecting his own self-loathing at his brother, but he was also legitimately pissed off at him, as well.

"Well, you're more pissed off even than you usually are when returning from America. What did he do?"

"Now that he's a big famous baseball player, Tasuku decided that it was time to upgrade to a better lifestyle...and a better girlfriend," Naota said.

"He dumped Rachel? Weren't they engaged?" Eri asked.

"Yes and yes," Naota confirmed.

"Wait, I thought you didn't like Rachel," Eri pointed out.

"Where did you get that idea? I have nothing against her, I was pissed off at my brother for blowing off Mamimi to be with her, and not even having the common courtesy to tell her about it. And now he's at it again! My God, Eri, you should have seen Rachel. The woman was in tears..." And that brought back something that Naota was trying to forget about, renewing the self-loathing. "I've got to go, Eri. I///I'm just not going to be very much fun to hang around today. Sorry to just blow you off like this, but...see you tomorrow." And Naota left, jogging for his house. You could have handled that better. You came across acting like a jerk. Naota promptly told his inner voice to shut the hell up. Besides, with what he had done, she would have every right in the world to break up with him.

Naota arrived at his house, and noticed a yellow vespa parked in front of it. Oh, a customer, was his first thought. His second was, Why does that vespa look familiar? Naota shrugged off the minor mystery and headed inside. And was treated to the shock of his life. Someone was sitting with Kamon. Someone with pink hair and yellow eyes, someone whose face Naota had remembered in detail for six years. "H-Haruko!"

"Ta-kun!" Haruko said in that nasally voice of hers.

"My name is not Ta-kun! Don't call me Ta-kun! Tasuku is my older brother, and dead to me at the moment," Naota said.

"And my name's Haruha Raharu," Haruko pointed out.

"What are you even doing here?" Naota asked.

"I was just passing through, and thought I'd visit my cuddly little Takun again," she appraised him with a lecherous glance. "But you're not so little anymore, are you?"

"And you haven't changed one bit. Literally. How old are you?" Naota asked, knowing that he was being rude, but, well, he wasn't in a good mood.

"Twenty," Haruko said, grinning.

"That's the same thing you said six years ago!" Naota shouted.

"I was twenty six years ago, too. In fact, I've been twenty for longer than either of you've been alive," Haruko said.

"I'm going to my room," Naota said, heading up the stairs. "I've got to talk to Mamimi."

Upon entering his room, Naota grabbed his cell and made the call. "Hello?" Mamimi said.

"Hey, it's me," Naota said.

"Hey, Naota, what's up? How did your trip to America go?" Mamimi asked.

("We need you soon, Ms. Samejima," came a voice from the other end of the telephone.

"You're going to have to wait. I'm in the middle of something," came Mamimi's muffled voice.)

Naota said what he hadn't of told Eri, what was causing the immense self-hatred he was feeling at the moment, what was eating him alive from the inside and weighing down his shoulders at the exact same time: "I slept with Rachel."

"Ooh, risk-ay, little buddy," Haruko's voice came from behind him. Naota spun a quick 180 and sure enough, there she was, sitting cross-legged on his bed with her guitar.

"WHAT? When the hell did you get here?!" Naota demanded. Into the phone he said, "I'll call you back, Mamimi."

"Making ready to pull you down onto this bed and rape the shit out of you," Haruko said blithely. "Didn't your father say that you were dating a girl named Eri, though? Then again, Eri, Rachel, they sort of sound alike."

"That's none of your business, Har—Raharu," Naota said.

"Let me use my psychic powers and take a gander," Raharu said. She turned her head to the side, closed her eyes, and put her hand to her forehead. "Rachel is your brother's ex. When he broke up with her, she was devistated. She came to you crying, and you just wanted to do anything you could to make her stop."

"How the hell did you do that???" Naota demanded.

Raharu grinned. "I'm psychic."

"Really," Naota said.

"How do you know I'm not psychic? I am a hot space alien who can pull objects out of your head, after all. So really, how do you know all of what I can and can't do?" Raharu said.

"Really," Naota repeated.

"I just know you is all, my cuddly little Ta—Naota-kun."

"Just get the hell out of my room!" Naota shouted.

Haruko seemed like she was going to say something smart-aleky again, but she didn't. "Alright," she said, and she got up and left, taking her guitar with her.

Naota sat heavily on his bed, holding his forehead with his hands, and sighed. Then he started swearing up a storm. Then he picked up the phone and called Mamimi, and he told her the entire story.

-

"Hey, is Naota in?" Eri asked, walking into the shop.

"Ah, you must be Eri. Naota is currently in his room cursing up a storm," said a nasally voice.

"Haruko!" Eri said.

"Oh, I remember you. You're that girl who slept over that one time. Mori," Haruko said.

"Ninamori," Eri corrected. "Ninamori Eri."

"Charmed," Haruko said.

Naota came running down the stairs. "Hey, Eri. Can we go?"

"I thought you said that you would be out of commission for the rest of the day," Eri said.

"Yeah, well, it turns out that this environment isn't conducive to me getting my feelings under control," Naota said, glancing at Haruko evilly as he said this. Haruko blinked back at him in mock innocence. "Lets go see a movie, Eri. I'm buying."

"But—" Eri protested.

"I'm thrusting it upon you, therefore, I'm buying. Besides, we agreed that I'd pay at least one time out of ten," Naota said, dragging her by her wrist out of the store.

"Alright, then," Eri said. "When did Haruko come back?"

"I don't know. She was here when I got here," Naota said.

They went into the theater, Naota bought their tickets, and they found their seats. For the entire movie, Naota stared at the screen, but not like he was paying attention to what was going on. This is the worst date we've ever been on. I wish he had stayed in his room all day. The worst was yet to come, however.

It had been late in the day when they had entered the theater, and when they left, it was night. The moon was full, large, and bright, though, and they could see their shadows in its light. There was not a cloud in the sky, and the stars were also bright. It. Was. Beautiful.

"Goddamnit," Naota said.

"What is it?" Eri asked.

"I'm not going to be like my brother. I'm...just not. Shove it, universe. I'm really not," Naota said, more to himself than to Eri.

"What is it?" Eri asked, knowing that he was going to open up about what had been pissing him off all day. What she didn't know was that she would have been much happier not knowing.

"It started almost as soon as I got off the plane. I took the cab to Rachel's place because, well, that's where he had been staying since he proposed to her, only to notice when I got there that all of Tasuku's stuff was gone and Rachel was crying. He's been accepted by one of the major league teams now. The Mets, or the Socks, or something I don't really follow baseball anymore. The point is, he's embraced the lifestyle of the major leaguer, right down to trophy bimbos.

"I...I couldn't stay in the same place as him Rachel let me stay at hers, even though she wasn't dating my brother anymore. I watched her deteriorate, Eri, I watched her fall into the bottle, and it drove me absolutely batshit insane. That...that bastard of a brother of mine, he just leaves a trail of broken hearts wherever he goes, doesn't he? I wonder how he can sleep at night." Naota sighed. "This isn't about him, though. Not really."

"Then what is it about?" Eri asked.

"My God, Eri, you should have seen her. If there was anything I could have done for this woman, anything at all, I would have done it," Naota said. Eri was hit with a chill of dread, suspecting, at least on a subconscious level, what was coming. "We drank together, even though I'm underage and she wasn't my legal guardian, and we talked about how much of an asshole my brother was, and then...she...and I...we..." Naota hung his head in shame. "Do whatever you want to me."

Eri turned to him, tears in her eyes and teeth gritted fiercely, and slapped him. Three times. Hard, harder, and hardest. "God damn it, Naota, what the f—"

"I know," Naota said. "I don't understand myself. Eri...are we in trouble?"

Eri sighed. "I don't know, Naota. This is completely unforgivable, and yet...and yet, in a way, it is so like you, to try to 'help' in this way, and let this woman use your body." Now there's a strange expression, said a stray thought in her head. "Another one of your charity cases, like Samejima Mamimi." Am I a charity case? "God damn it, your inability to turn down people who need help is exactly what I love about you, and yet, it lead to...this."

"I am so sorry, Eri."

"No wonder you wanted to pay. Dropping this sort of bombshell on me after I treated you to a movie...talk about adding insult to injury."

"Actually, you give me too much credit. I hadn't of thought that far ahead. I did it because this whole thing was making me feel like shit," Naota said.

"I see. Well, I'll see you tomorrow, Naota. Maybe," Eri said. She walked home by herself, feeling numb.

-

Naota walked home by himself, feeling numb. At the very least, he had owned up to what he had done. That felt good. After a fashion. In the sense that sleeping on a bed of nails felt good when compared to drinking sulfuric acid while taking a bath in molten lead. He had owned up to what he had done, and he could take comfort in that. At the very least, he was better than his brother. At the very least, his name still fit; he was still honest. At the very least.

He walked inside, and up to his room without turning on a light. He undressed in the dark, and hopped into bed. And then he heard the telltale guitar string.

"What the hell? You're still sleeping here?" Naota said. "That's highly inappropriate, now that I'm an adult!"

"Yeah, like it ended up being perfectly wholesome when you were just a cute little molestable kid," Raharu said sarcastically.

"Whatever," Naota said. Then: "Hey, wait a second—were you watching while I undressed?"

"How could I have been? Its dark in here," Raharu pointed out. Before Naota could say, Yeah, I guess you have a point, she added: "By the way, nice bod."

Naota reached his hand out where she could see it easily, and flipped her the bird. "Look at this, Haruko."

Raharu laughed. "That's not very polite. By the way, you relapsed...Ta-kun. So, how did things go with your ladyfriend?"

"I told her about Rachel," Naota said.

"Oh. So you guys broke up, then?"

"Not yet," Naota said.

"Oh, really? This Eri girl, she is either incredibly strong-willed, or incredibly weak-willed. And in either case, she must really love, like, or at least want you," Raharu said.

"You sleeping in my room is not going to help things, you know," Naota said.

"Well, helping the two of you stay together is hardly in my best interest, now is it? After all, the whole reason I came back here is for you, you know," Raharu said.

"So you disappear for six years, and expect me to still be madly in love with you?" Naota asked curtly.

"That would have been nice, yeah. Or if not, try to rekindle the flame. Or, if worse comes to worse, just offer you a cut of the proffits as a reward for your services, and try to seduce you while we're out in space."

"What services?—and what profits?"

"Your services as the guy's whose head I pull shit out of, and the profits from whatever I'm going to use that power for. Respectively," Raharu said. Then, she was suddenly serious. "Even if you decide that you hate my guts, you should come and see the galaxy with me. There is no feeling in the whole quite like being able to reach out and touch all the stars in heaven, Naota-kun. Nothing that even comes close to the sheer majesty. Also, coming back richer than most kings isn't too sour a thing to contemplate, either."

"I'll think about it," Naota said dryly. He got up.

"Where are you going?" Raharu asked.

"The bathroom," Naota said.

"The view is nice from this angle, too."

"Shut up, Haruko."

"It's Raharu, Takun."

-

Eri came by the next day. "Hey, is Naota here?" she asked.

"Eh, he's somewhere," Raharu said. "Ninamori Eri, right? I take it you've forgiven him for Rachel."

"He told you?" Eri asked.

"Of course not...I overheard him talking about it to Mamimi," Haruko said.

"Was this before or after he told me?" Eri asked.

"I don't know. When did he tell you?"

"After our date."

"When was this?"

"Last night."

"When last night? I've got to say, I slept through most of it."

"Stop playing around, Haruko," Eri said. "Was it before or after sunset yesterday evening?"

"After, definitely. It was dark, and he couldn't even see me, which is how I overheard it," Haruko said. "He even said that he had already told you." Oops.

"Then why did we just go through this whole charade with you not knowing when he told me?" Eri asked.

Damn it, she's on to me. "I was messing with you, obviously. It's sort of what I do," Raharu said.

"Yeah, okay," Eri said.

Naota came running down the stairs. "Don't talk to her; she's going to try to put a wedge between us! Lets go."

Naota and Eri left. "She will, will she?" Eri asked.

"Last night, she said that the reason she came back was for me," Naota said.

"Huh. Strange, then, that she lied for you just now, then," Eri said.

"How so?" asked Naota.

"I asked her just now if you talked to Mamimi about Rachel before or after you talked to me about it. She said after," Eri said. "It was before, wasn't it?"

"Before," Naota agreed. "How did you know?"

(He remembered Mamimi saying, "You might as well tell her now, and save yourself some heartache. You're going to tell her eventually." That had been the farthest thing from his mind when he actually did talk to Eri, though.)

"You always talk to her first," Eri said. "That alone would make many girlfriends jealous, you know."

"Our relationship isn't like that," Naota protested.

"I know. I was just saying," Eri said.

"So...have you forgiven me?" Naota asked.

"No...but I am trying to," Eri said.

"Thank you for that. It's more than I deserve," Naota said.

"You're—" being too hard on yourself, she almost said automatically. "Never mind." She looked up at the blue sky and the wispy clouds spread lightly around it. "This is the first time I've seen the mortality of this relationship, though."

"Me, too," Naota agreed.

"Three years, though..." Eri said.

Naota was on the same wavelength. "That's pretty good, for a couple of teenagers."

"Kids don't usually know what they want. That we lasted this long is a testament to our maturity, or our luck, or both," Eri said.

"Tell me, Eri, over these last three years, have I made you happy? Has being with me made you happy?" Naota asked.

"Yes," Eri said.

Naota took her hand and squeezed it. "I'm glad, then. However this turns out."

Eri then took his face in her hands, and kissed him.

I guess this means I'm forgiven, he thought.

I guess this means I've forgiven him, she thought.

-

Naota came home humming. He was feeling more like himself than he had been all week.

"It went well, I take it?" Raharu asked.

"Yeah," Naota said. "Hey, why did you cover for me?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Raharu dismissed unconvincingly.

"You told Eri that I hadn't of talked to Mamimi until after I talked to her," Naota said. "I'm not mad. Far from it. It just seems like a strange thing for someone whose purpose here is to make me run away with her to do."

"I am fighting over you, I just want to do it honorably," Raharu said, being completely serious for once. "What I'm saying is, I want you to come with me, but I want it to be because I'm better for you than she is, not because I win by default because she wants nothing to do with you anymore."

"Oh, I see. Thanks for that," Naota said.

"Hey, Naota...what, exactly, do you plan on doing with your life? Financially, I mean," Raharu asked.

Naota shrugged. "I don't really know, to be honest. Right now I'm working for my dad at the shop, but that's hardly something I can do forever. Besides, it feels like I'm still a kid, as much of what i'm doing for work is stuff that I used to do as chores as a kid."

"You know, if you take this job I'm offering you, I'll fill five rooms of this house with silver, three rooms with gold, and one room with platinum," Raharu said calmly. "You'll never have to worry about working ever again. It might not be a good idea to spend it all in one place, though."

"You have those kinds of resources?" Naota asked, surprised.

"I will when we're done," Raharu said.

"What are we doing?" Naota demanded. "I mean, what would we be doing, if I took this job?"

"The same thing we've always done. Hunt the pirate king," Raharu said.

"To what end?" Naota asked.

"So that I can eat him, and absorb his power. Kinda of like the way you did that one time."

"And what would you do with his power?"

Raharu shrugged. "Pretty much whatever I feel like. I've got to confess something, kiddo. I'm not exactly what you would call one of the 'good guys.'"

"So, what? We're going to try to take over the galaxy?"

Raharu shrugged again. "If that's what I feel like," she said. "Right now, though, I just want the power for power's sake."

"Yeah, that sounds like you," Naota said darkly. "Tell me something..."

"Yeah?"

"When I was a kid..."

"Yeah?"

"Were you really sexually attracted to me?" Naota asked.

"Well, lets just say that the idea wasn't repulsive," Raharu said.

"I see," Naota said, and then he turned to leave.

"Hey," Raharu called after him.

Naota stopped, but didn't turn back around. "Yeah."

"I'm not going to lie to you, your powers are very important to me, but...well, like I said, I want you to come because you want to be with me. If you think you'd be happier with Ninamori Eri than you would be with me...well, I'm not going to try to force you," Raharu said. "I just wanted you to know that. The question you need to be asking yourself isn't who needs you more. It isn't even 'What should I do?' The question you need to be asking yourself is: 'What do I want to do?'"

"Right. I'll keep that in mind," Naota said.

"You're entirely way to selfless for your own good," Raharu called after him. "And you may well be entirely too selfish for your own good, Raharu old girl," she mumbled to herself after he had left.

-

Eri went under the bridge where Mamimi used to hang out all of the time, and looked at the river.

"Fancy meeting you here," Haruko said.

Eri jumped upon hearing the voice. "What are you doing here? Did you follow me?"

"I was here before you were. Why must you think I planned this?" Haruko asked and teased at the same time.

"Because it's you," Eri said.

"Hey, now, there's no need for the hostility, just because I'm trying to steal your boyfriend and elope with him into the great black unknown," Haruko said.

"Do all women act like you on your planet?" Eri asked.

"Actually, most women on most planets in the galaxy are sexually straightforward and aggressive. It's you people here on Earth who are the freaks, with your tiny mitochondria," Haruko said.

"What do mitochondria have to do with sex?" Eri demanded.

"Sex roles, actually. And if you don't know, I'm not going to tell you," Haruko said.

"Whatever," Eri said crossly. "Hey, why did you lie for Naota?"

"What makes you say that?" Haruko asked.

"He confesssed that he told Mamimi about Rachel before he told me," Eri said.

"Damn it, that boy is too honest for his own good," Haruko muttered.

"Also, I knew before you even told me what he 'did' what he actually would have done," Eri added.

"Oh, clever girl. But then, you always were clever, weren't you?" Haruko said. "To answer your question, though, the reason why I covered for him is because I don't want him to be mine by default; I want him to be mine because I am better for him than you are."

"So in other words, its more important to you that he's happy than that he's with you," Eri translated.

"Yeah," Haruko said. "It's sort of like that Earth saying, 'If you love something, let it go, something something, it it returns, it was meant to be.' Something like that. I'm pretty sure that it was supposed to rhyme, though, in some language or another."

And what about me? Was Eri that altruistic? Which did she care about more—her own happiness, or Naota's? She honestly didn't know. "I can play by the rules of that game," she said anyway.

"Really? You're pretty confident, for a woman who's boyfriend recently had an affair," Haruko said.

Eri shrugged. "It was a freakish thing. Almost an accident. And alcohol was involved."

"Accidental sex, eh? So, what, he tripped, and there just so happened to be a vagina on the way to the ground?" Haruko teased.

"I thought you said you weren't going to try to win by breaking us up," Eri said.

"I'm not. I'm trying to intimidate you," Haruko said. "You know, I do know which buttons to push, if I wanted to. 'Oh, Naota-kun! I'm emotionally deranged and need someone to nurse me into mental health like one would nurse a sick stray puppy. I need the help that only you can give me, Naota-kun." Haruko must have seen the look on Eri's face. "Relax, I'm not going to. That would be dishonorable."

"You're not going to win, you know," Eri said. "You're a psychotic space alien, while I'm relatively normal and stable, and have a bright future ahead of me. You barely even plan five seconds ahead, do you?"

"Pretty much. I'm a here-and-now type of person," Haruko agreed happily. "You are the rational choice, I admit. Of course, if these kinds of choices were made rationally, the universe would be a much more boring place. It's all about what the heart wants, and, to use another saying that appears on Earth, but also many other places, the heart wants what the heart wants."

-

"What do I want?" Naota asked of no one. He had always been needed. Mamimi needed him. Then Haruko needed him. Then Mamimi needed him again. Then Eri needed him. Even this whole sleeping with another woman thing was because Rachel had needed him! Sure, there had been alcohol involved, but he felt like, even if there hadn't been, Rachel would have been able to convince him into sleeping with her. "God damn it, I've got to grow some goddamn backbone!" Naota cursed. What do I want?

"Hey, Nao," Raharu said.

"What do you want?" Naota said.

"Atomsk is on the move. I've got to leave soon, or else the trail will go cold. What I'm saying is, if you want to come with me, you'd better make up your mind soon," Haruko said.

"How soon is soon?" Naota asked.

"Tonight at midnight," Raharu said. "Sorry, I wish we had more time."

"Oh. I see," Naota said.

"Yeah."

"Hey, Haruko—I mean, Raharu?"

"Yeah, Takun—I mean, Naota?"

"How old are you? Really?"

"Twenty. I was twenty when the American Commodore Perry opened Japan, and I was twenty when the nation of his birth was founded," Raharu said. "We aliens can slow, halt, or even reverse the aging process. That means that if you come with me, you can go back to being cuddly little Ta-kun whenever you want."

"Shut up Haruko," Naota said darkly. "Anyway, in what year were you born?"

"Fifty-three twenty KHR."

"Years used on Earth."

"Twenty-four ninety eight AUC," Raharu said.

"What the hell is that?"

"AUC. Ab urbe condita. 'From the founding of the City.' Of Rome, that is."

"Years used on Earth in contemporary times," Naota said.

"Eleven fifty-eight AH," Raharu said.

"AH?" Naota asked.

"Anno Hegirae, the Islamic calendar," Raharu said.

"Give it to me in AD or BC!" Naota said crossly.

"Seventeen forty-five," Raharu said. "AD, that is."

"That makes you—"

"Nearly three hundred. Yeah, I know," Raharu said, unimpressed. She grinned evilly. "I guess that makes me the ultimate cougar, eh?"

"'Pedophile,' is more like it," Naota grumbled.

"Oh, thou woundetht me, mine beloved," Raharu said, overdramatically feigning getting shot in the heart with an arrow, stumbling, and falling over dead.

"'Woundetht'?"

"Yeah. Woundetht."

"And when you leave, will you just be taking off from the parking lot?" Naota asked.

"Sure, why not," said Haruko. "Tonight at midnight, at the latest. Then I'm leaving, and I don't know when I'm coming back. If I'm coming back."

"I'll keep that in mind."

-

Raharu looked at her watch. 11:59. Naota had better get here soon. Maybe he's not coming at all. Raharu sighed, and got onto her vespa. She revved up the engine. Goodbye, Naota.

"Hey, wait!" Naota shouted, running. He was panting heavily when he arrived. "I'm not late, am I? I had some loose ends I needed to tie up."

Raharu smiled. "Not on your life, kid. In fact, you're right on time."

-

Eri knocked on the door of the shop. "Hey, is Naota in?"

"No, he and Haruko left last night. Here, he left this for you," Kamon said, handing her a letter. It read:

Dear Eri:

It really does make me feel like shit to be telling you like this. I'd much rather tell you in person, but, well, there's sort of a time limit. Raharu (Haruko) is leaving very soon, and somehow I don't think you'd apreciate me waking you up in the middle of the night in order to break up with you. Or maybe I'm just making excuses.

These last three years have been great. We did very well, for teenagers. You're a wonderful, intelligent person, and the future will be bright for you, I can tell. But sadly, I don't think I can be a part of that world anymore. It seems like, my entire life, I've walked a certain path. I could always see the general shape my future would hold. I'd do okay in school. I'd find a nice girl, and marry her. I'd take up my dad's business. Dear God, thinking about it gives me a feeling of dread! Life in Mabase is like a slow death. Frankly, bringing an alien from another planet here is ironic to the extreme. (The next sentence was crossed out, but readable, and unfinished) Ever since Raharu came, over the last six years, I have been

There have been many times over the last six years, when I had looked up at the dome of the sky, and thought that it might as well be a dome, an unbreakable firmament, a border that I could never cross, no matter what I did, and while I was trapped inside it, Haruko was out there, and all the stars in heaven were her playthings. And our paths were never to cross again. The thought would always make my breath shallow and my heart rate speed up from shear terror. I...I simply cannot stay.

All of my life, it seems that I was doing things because other people wanted me to, or needed me to, or expected me to. Even being with you, was because you needed me. I'm sorry, but that is the way it is. I think that it is about time that I do something selfish, for once. I'm tired of walking the same path I always have. I'm tired of Mabase. Quite frankly, I'm tire of Japan, America, and the entire goddamn world. I want out. And, for once, I'm going to indulge myself. I'm sorry for taking the easy way out, the coward's way out, the selfish but, damn it...

Forgive me if you can. Hate me if you want. Either way, I hope you have a happy life.

Love, Naota

FIN

Author's Commentary (As If You Care)

I've always wanted to write a third (and final) part of this series. In fact, I started thinking about it as soon as the second installment went up. I've only just now gotten around to it, though. The hardest thing to do was trying to incorporate the whole Rachel storyline into it. My first thought had been a series of flashbacks, but that didn't pan out. I wondered if I should just toss the entire concept, but I kept deciding not to. The Rachel affair is a very important part of the story. For one thing, it symbolizes the direction the story is going: it's all about choices. For another thing, it showed that Naota is flawed. Finally, and most importantly, without it I lose a huge chunk of story, drama, characterization, ect. After a while, I just put this story on the back burner for just shy of a year (seriously; if it had taken me less than a month more to get around to writing this, it would have been a year).

This story is done mainly in meetings between any two of the. Mamimi and Kamon make cameo appearances, but not many. It is clear that the story revolves around these three characters. Another important characteristic of this story is that it is three protagonists, not two protagonists and an antagonist. It's an impression I got that there are many stories in fanfiction in which a character has to choose between two love interests, and one of them is clearly villainized; this is a large subset of the bashing scourge. And everyone is usually OOC. I probably shouldn't talk about OOC in this story, but it is six years later here, so I can hardly have two of the protagonists acting like they had when they were twelve. It's Haruko-AKA-Raharu whom I'm most afraid of having gotten wrong, because she's always been an adult, there hasn't been any character development up to this point, and she was the most random character of all in the canon.

I put a three-year interval between each of these stories, starting at Naota being canon age in Don't Call Me Takun, then Naota and Eri being fifteen in Nuevo Rich Princess/Nouvaeu Riche Princess, finally them being eighteen (but Haruko still being "twenty") here. This pattern was initiated unintentionally. The directions I wanted to go with NRP, even before I decided that Naota and Ninomori do it at the end, were way more sexual than what I was willing to do with twelve-year-olds. Normally, I don't like making stuff happen several years after the end of the canon, but in this case it was the lesser evil. Having this story take place three years after that...it just felt right. Besides, it made the Rachel sub-story more plausible. I realize that woman-on-boy love is common in the FLCL universe, but come on.

I've written three other stories for FLCL, about a million years ago, the aforementioned DCMT and NRP, but also another one not related to this story, called Atomsk's Heir, which I suggest you read, as well. Don't read the reviews first, though, because there's a twist ending that a lot of the reviewers end up talking about.

Well, that's my story (and I'm sticking to it). I hope you loved it. Please R&R.