Hey ya'll, I'm back with the fourth installment of this series. Thank you for the good words about the other parts, and I hope you enjoy this one just as well. For daisukefire and mary b. and sayinjinj-seven....thanks for the support, everyone, go check out these profiles! good stuff there. This part takes a more unexpected turn....you might differ in opinion but I think it's for the better. Read on!


ps. warning!!!!! this part is slightly more R rated, but only for connotations, nothing that serious. skip over if ya like, its just more near the end.

disclaimer: I own story...plot....ideas....two nickels and a gum wrapper. I'd say that's not worth suing for.

Late fall always comes when you least expect it; suddenly, it's cold outside, and you wake up one morning to hear the wind wailing over you. Hesitant, you pull up your window shade and, oh my God! it's autumn. The leaves are bleeding fire and melting gold, scattered jewels in the wind-flattened reeds. Their crumbling corpses and beautiful stains are swept across the dying grass, and a chill creeps around the edges of your closed window like a disease; it's slowly reaching it's cold fingers through the glass and stroking you softly with it's bitterly cool fingers. The sky was a flat, uniform gray, and the abused and ragged trees in the park leaned heavily against the shivering air.

It was then I felt winter coming.

We used to take long walks in the falling leaves after practices, from one bus-stop to the next. I didn't mind the cold much, because she looked colder than I was. But when I took her and wrapped her close to me underneath the trembling oak trees that scattered showers of color upon us, we were warm and safe, and winter seemed miles away. Some days, we'd laugh and chase on the way there to keep warm. Once in a while when she forgot her pants to change into after practice, I'd watch her legs turn blue in the shimmering purple evening coldness. The streetlights started turning on earlier and earlier, illuminating the time-worn streets and making them seem harsher than ever. The friendliness of the familiar landmarks was gone, leaving only cold, dirty stores whose heat didn't work and which were ever redolent of last summer's unsold stock and wet, muddy tile floors. Bus stop benches frosted over in the morning, so we stood as we waited, shivering in the barely breaking dawn. We'd huddle against a corner, just sharing heat and talking close, so that our warm breath would keep each other's mouths from turning blue. Sometimes, it'd be too cold to talk and we'd just tremble in that corner like birds who hadn't caught the last train for the tropics before winter hit.

Winter hit with a vengeance that year, as I can remember mostly; the one thing I can really recall is when the pipes in the school froze and cracked, flooding the third floor because they weren't insulated. I can see Davis' face as he bounded down the second story stairs, his grin lighting up the semi-dark hallway.

It wasn't me this time, I swear! he yelled, as two teachers rushed past him. We all laughed and hugged, catching the early bus home and taking two days off of school until repairs were finished.

Trees reached out towards the sky, bleak, and bare, reaching out thin and black against the flat gray sky; their gnarled, creaking branches like arthritic fingers. Davis and me slip-skated over the frozen sidewalks in the morning, making a contest out of it while the girls screamed admonitions in the background; her mouth was always frozen red by the cold and tasting slightly of lip balm. After school when we didn't have practice, all five of us would always hole up at my place to watch TV and get warm, not to mention enjoy Yolei's toaster skills. She progressed from pop-tarts to toaster strudel and finally to toaster pizza; when she finally learned how to microwave hot-pockets we had a small ceremony and held a raffle, and the first day she turned on the oven to bake some brownies I think Davis cried tears of joy. My dad never came home until eight, so we just laughed away the afternoons, joking, snacking and experimenting, doing those things that people in high school have a tendency to do. Like this afternoon we're playing strip-monopoly. Don't even ask. I mean, we're bored out of our minds; it was Davis' idea, naturally. Who the hell else would come up with an idea like that.

Kari and Yolei are busy piling on the sweaters before we start, and arguing about whether hair-clips count or not as an item. Davis is putting on his shoes, and the only thing I'm putting on is some determination. I rock the monopoly board, and those ladies are losing big-time.

"Ken? You in?" calls Davis to the boy on the floor, his forehead wrinkled over some calculus.

"Got to finish this first." was his short reply as his pencil scratched out furious symbols and numbers.

Davis shrugs, and rolls the dice.

The clock reads 6:13, and the air in the room is so tense that you could slice it and toast it; the next roll of the dice means something crucial comes off, and I mean crucial. We're all down to boxers and the girls down to undies and bra; besides the controlled effort not to stare, there's the strain and the pressure; whoever rolls next is likely to lose something, considering all the properties are bought and chances are they'll land on one of ours.

Nobody can miss Yolei's slightly self conscious air as she lays out on the floor, long and graceful like a heron, and she flicks her hair out of her eyes and laughs a little. Ken is offering Davis strategies while frantically watching her out of the corner of his eyes, and I think she knows it and enjoys it. Personally, I'm fighting my own struggles and I check my chances intently; Kari rolls the dice, and it stops slowly as we all hold our breath.

She's landed on one of our properties.

No one says anything, but we all look alarmed; she seems to be on the breaking point, fear mixed with the ridiculous desire to laugh on her face.

She's about to open her mouth, to protest no doubt, when the doorbell rings.

Amidst the strangled screams coming from the girls as they rush for the nearest thing to cover up, and us as we make a run for our pants, Ken manages to open the door.

I think the poor man took one look at us and decided he'd drank too much; the girls standing in the back, Kari's shirt on backwards and her pants undone, Yolei's uniform is crooked and her skirt pulled up on one side and caught in the tiny shorts she was wearing underneath. Their faces are flushed and their hair is a quick mess, not to mention Davis and me are only wearing jeans.

"Pizza?" asked the poor man weakly, and suddenly, Ken shook himself loose.

"Yeah,.." he said dumbly, and placed the money in the man's hand while taking the box.

The door closed, he turns around and faces us.

"Eh..hehe...pizza anyone?" he chuckles nervously.

There's only a muffled yell as Davis takes him down with a sofa pillow, Kari and Yolei start screaming out their anger about indecency and " we thought it was your dad!" and stomped off to my room to get their clothes on right.

Ken comes up from between the cushions, flips his hair back from his face, and looks at us. We're both giving him death stares.

"Wh-hat?" he stammers.

Only an enraged groan comes up from Davis as he stuffs his head in a pillow and beats out his frustration on the couch.

"You idiot! You had them this close to sheer nudity and you fuckin' had to order pizza!"

The realization doesn't hit me until he says it, and then I feel the pain.

Battered, his hair filled with sofa lint, five minutes later Ken arose from the floor. Me and Davis let our cushions drop limply, and sank back on the couch, staring and the ceiling and contemplating.

Hey, what the hell did you expect? We're just boys....that's the way we naturally react. Personally, the thought of sharing Kari doesn't appeal.......but........

We put away the monopoly board and they all leave, except Kari. She always stays late, and we talk and lay out on the couch, just feeling the other resonate inside us with every words we say. Sometimes we kiss, soft and slow, and I feel her spreading through me a like a blessed painkiller; she numbs everything else and I can taste only her, need only her, and while I'm there I forget it's winter.

The other's don't really know. I mean, they've known since that day, Tuesday..... 4:35....second week of October. But they never ask questions, partially because they know we don't have answers. This is just the way it is. I could lay there for hours with her and have no desire to be anywhere else; I see her in almost every face that flashes by me, but most of all, in the old man by the bus stop.

Do you really love her? his eyes asked me, that day in October so long ago; I wanted to tell him, I think so, actually, I know so, yeah, not just maybe, but, definitely. Yes. I do. I really love her. But his eyes, they held the tiniest degree of doubt as they smiled back, and in that tiny degree of doubt I saw her. However, they'd smiled, giving me their blessing. But that small, uncertain gleam was always there, when she laughed and disappeared around corners, sometimes I was certain I'd never see her again. There was a terrible magic quality to her; as though I did not understand her or deserve her, as though she was not truly real. Her carelessness and childish abandon scared me, but I put them aside and buried them deep ....hoping........

She danced along the rooftops at night, scattering her stardust over the sleeplessness of my dreams. And one day, I knew she'd tire of me as easily as she tired of herself, because magic always wears off.......

Other times she made me feel ashamed with the profoundness of her feeling, the deepness of her thoughts. It was those times my faith in her was restored completely, and I reveled in the quiet beauty of knowing her and loving her.

It was January when I sealed my own fate, forever condemning myself to her and praying that she would have mercy on me. Maybe I'd hoped it was forever, maybe I only believed that it could be because I wanted it to be so much. But it was her fault, because her feet were cold, and nothing else. If her feet weren't cold, maybe none of it would have happened.


It's cold; that's all I can think about, and it's so cold that I want to cry. We missed our bus after the game and I'm in my uniform skirt. He's got on his warmup suit and a jacket, and he takes off his jacket and wraps it around my legs. I wrap myself around him to keep his arms warm, unzipping my jacket and letting him slide his arms around me. We sit there like that for a while under the waning green streetlight, the mud frozen in the cracks of the sidewalk, the fresh graffiti on the traffic signs iced over. It's over twenty minutes later when the old, clanking machine pulls us, it's metal bones rattling with a groan as it exhales it's hot, dirty breath into the clear frozen night air. We huddle on the plastic seats, too cold and miserable to say much. Shuffling up the stairs to his apartment, he fumbles with his keys.

"You can call and get someone to pick you up from my house after you've warmed up," he says, and turns the lock.

The apartment is warm and dark, and he flips on a small lamp, quietly turning the room into pools of gold and dark, welcoming shadows. Shedding the jacket, he gets into a hot shower while I call home. No answer.

I call again, impatiently waiting for the endless rings.

The phone picks up, and a slurred voice answers.

"Dad?" I ask, my words unsure.

"Kari? What're you doing? Where are you?" answers the voice, and I hear my mom's tired mumble in the background.

"I missed my bus; can you come and get me?" I ask.

"Kari, you know Tai took the car for today and tomorrow to visit Sora at the University, can you catch the late bus to Yolei's?" he sighs, his voice bleary.

It was then that my mouth spoke before I did; maybe it was because my feet were so cold, and I didn't feel like walking out there in that winter wasteland again. Or maybe it was because the apartment was so warm, but whatever it was, my mouth just opened.

"Yes," I hear the words come out of my mouth, and I couldn't believe it.

"K, Gnight," mutters the voice and the line goes off.

I hang the phone up slowly, and boil some mint tea; it warms up my hands, but my feet are still desperately cold.

He's a mere shadow in the hallway, but my eyes make out his form rapidly. perhaps it was then that I knew why I had said yes.

The phone rings twice, before the charmed voice on the other end answers.

"Yolei?" I say, low and quiet.

"Hey Kari, what's up!" she giggles, and I wait.

"If anyone calls, I'm staying at your house tonight."

She takes five point 2 seconds to register that, and then she answers quick and quiet.

"Got it. Seya."

I hang up the phone, and shuffle over to the kitchen counter, drink some more mint tea; shivering.

He comes in, warm and comfy looking, and watches me curiously.

"I'm staying here, don't have a ride," I say calmly, and drain my cup. "When's your dad coming home?"

"Tomorrow afternoon. Press Conference," he tells me, hesitantly cracking his knuckles.

The smile that he tries to hide is slow and warm and knowing; I don't resent it. He nods understandingly, and motions towards the shower.

"Need a hot shower?" he asks, getting out some hot chocolate.

I nods gratefully, and he follows me down the hall.

"Here's a fresh towel," he says right behind me, and I turn around to see his eyes glisten in the dark hallway.

"Thank you," I tell him nervously, and suddenly I want to kiss him so hard that it would hurt.

The hot water massages my muscles, leaving them relaxed, and I step out and wrap the towel around me. I rinse out my mouth with some mouthwash, and brush back a few damp strands from across my face. The reflection of the girl in the mirror looked guilty already as she watched me with half-knowing eyes. I rub my lips hard, trying to get rid of the smile that was on her guilty face, but they just turn red and more guilty. So I turnout the light and stepped into the slightly chillier hallway, feeling the steam from the room behind me evaporate in the dark.

"TK," I call out softly, and I hear a creak from his room. His head pokes out around the doorframe, and then respectfully looks away as a light blush creeps up his cheek.

"Can I get some jammies?" I ask, and step towards him.

"You're welcome to anything clean in my room," he says, and his voice sounds far away. His head disappears around the doorframe, and I enter the slightly messy and comforting room. The dark gold glow of the lamp illuminates the blue bedspread tossed to the wall, the books and clothes scattered around his closet and the full, overflowing desk. Basketball jerseys and posters hang on the walls, and the whole room has that fresh, clean soap scent of him. Hesitantly, I approach the tall drawers by the bed, and start digging. He checks his e-mail, never seeing a word as his eyes follow me quietly and indirectly.

I pull out a thick, hooded sweatshirt and a pair of drawstring pajama pants that were way too long. I slip them on in the bathroom, and head back to his room. Flopping on his bed, I grab a Gameboy and fiddle with it.

He lands next to me, and lookes at me mischievously.

"Those sleeves are kinda long....and so are those pants....." he says, grinning.

"And your point it?" I ask between muttered curses as I crash and lose again.

I don't even have time to react as he pins me down and ties the end of my pant legs together and the end of my sleeves up; I laugh and fight, screaming and struggling, and roll off the bed like a sack of flour. Struggling to get up, I slip and trip on the tied pant legs, waddling like a penguin.

"Takeru Takaishi!" I scream. "Untie me right now!" he just laughs fit to kill at my predicament, and I dive on the bed best I could , hopping around on my knees.

We collapse by each other, still giggling, and I sit up frustrated.

"Fine then," I tell him. I slip my arms out from my sleeves, and from the bottom of my sweatshirt, proceed to untie my sleeves. That's when I know that when I'll wake up, my mouth will scream guilty, and Iverson will be glaring down on me. I feel soft blue around me already, and when I look up, it seems all time has stopped.


Her stomach and then her torso slide into view as she pulls her arms out from under her sweatshirt. Frozen, I watch the unmerciful edge of fabric as it trembles on the edge of that abyss and then falls down again softly. When I look up, my mouth is dry and her eyes are watching me; I have an urge to flee but the urge to stay is a million times greater, and the gold lamplight glimmers in her eyes.

Her beautiful mouth looks red and guilty, her lips softly forming out the soft and uncertain words that tumble out.

"I love you," she whispers like a little child, her voice sounding lost. The huge clothes swallow her slim frame, and the thick, shiny mess of hair falls down around her face like a waterfall, framing the delicate features. I'm afraid to touch her, she seem so porcelain....

I feel no guilt as I extinguish the light and envelop her, feeling her slender body tremble under me.

Lightning flashes through my head, searing my memory, the man! the old man, the gleam of doubt, the tiny gleam! and suddenly, I feel very unsure.

"Are you sure?" I breathe in her ear as the sweatshirt slides off, and I'm lost in the slim arms that coil around me, the soft scent of her skin, the smooth curve of her shoulders in the dark blueness of the room.

"Yes," she tells me simply, and then as I crush her to me and feel her hands on my lower back, everything between us slips away and I'm lost into a place that I've never been before; she seems to break and rearrange everything to let me in, and I taste mint on her desperately seeking lips. I'm tangled in the softly shining strands coiled around her neck as I bury my head in them to keep from crying out, and she makes small sounds that seem to break her entire essence, and when she wraps her legs around me every thought is lost and from there we go, tasting each other's pain and passion as we spin out of control down this void, this void that I'll never meet again.


The window pane is blue, and the frost runs little patterns on it; early morning light casts pale blue and gray shadows over the still objects in his room, and I believe I'm still asleep for a second. The blinking clock reminds me, and everything floods me in a second as I bite my lip hard to hold back the immense smile. But I can't, and I slowly lay my head back down, just thinking.

Between flashes, and tiny snatches I saw a story, but all I could see was his closed eyelids in the blue darkness, the lashes brushing his cheeks as his open mouth full of tremors covered mine, and the marvelous damage he'd wreaked on me; I want to scream, and I feel my muscles contract again, a hollow feeling in my ribcage. Quietly I smile in the pale gray light of the morning, feeling nothing but the tight, heaving muscles under my fingertips............... the soft touch of his hands as they traced my features in the dark in the heavy quiet that followed............

I feel warm and secure with his hand on my hipbone, stretched across my stomach as I snuggle my head on his chest; the blonde hair gleams even in the morning, and I breathe deep and even.

Softly I run a fingertip over his lips, and he murmurs, shifting beside me. I lift up the bedspread, feeling a rush of cold air; quickly, I burrow back down under the covers.

When I turn to face him again, his crystal blue eyes are open, watching me intently; they flicker in the pearly grayness of the morning, as though they'd never seen me before. Then, he buries his face in the pillow and I knew he's seeing the same thing I had as his fingertips spread out in an arc on my hip.

We just lay there in the chilly pale blue, everything still around us and shadowed; his eyes flicker in the semi-darkness as he turns his head, and his arms slide up my side, tracing it. My skin rises in little goose-bumps where his fingers pass, and suddenly my mouth goes dry with desire. It's only a mere second before his lean jaguar body engulfs mine, soft and warm skin against skin, heavy along the length of me; he slowly kisses me, and I taste mint on his mouth. I don't resist. Maybe that's my mistake, maybe it's his. We slip back into the place we'd so recently found, that place between alive and dying. Afterwards, his chest expanding as we desperately gasp for air I don't care and don't know, and I feel a warm tear slide down his cheek into my hair to be lost forever.

He rises up from between the sheets, and with a new-found shyness I look down. When I look up, he's slipped on a pair of boxers and he heads for the shower. I sink back between the pillows, feeling the warm spot where he just was. It's already cooling.

It's 8:30 and the sunlight's already starting to break through his windows, but it's a cold sunlight. It's rays slice weakly through the foggy windows, and suddenly I feel very alone in the middle of the bed, as though I was floating on an island; it's strange now that I think about it, it's almost like I left part of me inside him now and whenever he leaves, I'm not entirely me anymore.

On the way to school, we stare out the bus window as he absently holds my hand. I know he's got to figure it all out and organize it in his head before it'll leave him alone, but this time he won't be able to. That feeling is not something you can categorize. Leave it to TK to find a way to though........

"Seya at practice," he whispers into my neck before he takes off down the hallway for class. Davis comes up beside him, punches his arm, and the two laugh and jostle a bit in the hallway. Davis makes a curious remark to which TK cheerfully replies with an indistinct "mind your own...., D, mind your own." I don't even have to worry. No one will ever know except me and him. Nobody. Smiling, I enter first block, where Yolei's curious face needles me from the back of the room the whole period. I just take notes and try to concentrate, the effort completely wasted. I might as well be in a coma for all the learning I've done today.


It's been a month, and nothing has changed. Winter ever trembles and grows in the terrifying cold, it's frost flowers decorating our windowsills each day; the school heating is still only halfway fixed and I'm still in love with her.

I love her when she laughs, when she smiles, when she wears fishnet stockings to school under that skirt, when she takes off her coat and I can see her slim frame; I love her when she sits and brushes her clean hair, when she wears those soft, short little white shorts that make her legs look like they go on forever. I love her when she jokes with my dad, when she yells at characters in movies, I love her when she pulls all the sheets off me and wraps them around her in a little cocoon. I hate her when she very occasionally smokes a cigarette, I hate her when she gossips , I hate her when she breaks me with one kiss and leaves me wanting, needing; I hate her when she controls me and makes me afraid without even knowing . But it's the hate that makes the love so intense that we hurt each other unintentionally sometimes. Sometimes when I make love to her it's so beautiful I want to cry; other times, she's just vicious, kissing hard enough to draw blood, teeth knocking teeth and lips in violent passion. Every time I come to school with a split lip, I can't miss Davis' smirk or Ken's all-knowing eyes. No one knows but they suspect, but on the outside the fragile mirror image of innocence is preserved, fresh and clean wiped after every encounter.

Life pours on, time slipping through the hourglass with every single day as we laugh and cry together, very occasionally the latter. She doesn't like to cry, and there's something very frightening about that.

"Neither do you!" she'd said accusingly, and started picking at a spot on the couch.

"You know I have once, and so have you, but there's been occasions where I've just seen you wanting to cry. Why don't you? It's not so hard."

"Why should I? Maybe I don't want to." she'd replied, and leaned against my chest like a small child. "I'm not a crybaby." she'd said in a little girl voice, and we'd both giggled, but it had scared me.

There's an endless femininity to her mixed with her will and drive. Inside that Kari that I know hides a restless, strange girl with ulterior motives and unsure emotions. Every once in a while, she comes out on the surface, and displays my brightest fears. It was a March morning maybe, a cold, dirty morning.....

She's sitting in a kitchen chair, wearing a cotton slip dress that's short and stretches around her; it's low and sagging in the front, her chest hanging loose but covered. She slouches with her legs apart, leopard print panties partially exposed. A cigarette dangles from her fingertips, and the kitchen is gray and devoid of light. Her eyes are tired, and her hair's pulled up in a tangled, messy knot; but there's a terrible sex appeal to her, the way the leopard print peeps out from between her thighs, the darkness around her eyes and the way her mouth looks red and guilty in the morning after she's brushed it hard with a toothbrush. A strand of hair falls into her eyes, and she flips it back; her eyes roam me, and she guiltily stubs the cigarette into the sink and washes it out the disposal.

I despise her and want her horribly at the same time, and she slinks up to me and kisses me with her curious, beautiful mouth. I taste tobacco, and step back.

"Why do you brush your teeth first if you're gonna smoke afterwards?" I ask, and flip on a light, breaking the still picture and dissolving it like a bad dream.

She giggles, and adjusts her slip dress tucking her hair behind her ears. In the kitchen lamplight she looks like my Kari again and the gray scene before me only a few minutes ago disappears like a bad dream, tucked into the unmerciful archives of my memory.

"I'm really sorry, I haven't done that in months and months, I just woke up this morning and suddenly wanted to," she tells me casually, pouring some orange juice. "Hurry or we'll be late."

And with that, she fades into the shadows of the hallway and I hear her moving around in my room, getting ready for school.

"Don't forget to brush your teeth," I say absently, and she probably doesn't hear me. Either way, it doesn't matter, and I rub my temples trying to forget what I saw.

I stop dead in my tracks as the old man's eyes flash in front of me, that tiny vestige of doubt screaming at me instantly; the black and white picture I'd seen that morning when I walked out into the kitchen meshed with it in a split second, and I felt a headache attacking me.

But does she love you?

Stop fucking with my head, I whispered fiercely and shut out the old man's eyes. Hurriedly, we jumped on the bus, but his eyes bore holes into the back of my skull all day and that night I told her I was really busy, chatted for a few minutes, and then hung up.

I was sorry, but inside the feeling had come to a full closure. My mind was clear and I understood sadly, so I turned out the light and went to bed.

When I woke up the next morning, it was nothing but an already fading nightmare. Laughing to myself silently, when I saw her fresh, smiling face in the hallway I pulled her into a quick kiss, and the old man was lost and dead.

Maybe it was in April when she got her car that I truly understood what I had been afraid of that day. Or maybe it was when spring came, but either way, then I knew. And with the last bus ride we took came the last moment of truth, or the last moment that we really laughed and really meant it. I didn't tell her anymore deep secrets the last week of April, and then, then it was May.

Alright everyone! Thanx for reading so far! One more chapter of this coming along, the conclusion and the mystery end. How will this end? Maybe in a quiet different way than either the pessimists or optimists believe.....more storytelling on the way, I'd like to know what you thought of this. Read all Five parts, Till next time,