The first day of school is always ripe with excitement. The excited chatters of various students surrounds me as I amble down the halls, schedule in hand, frantically searching for the first class of the day.

"Hey Shiki." Someone calls out to me as my schedule is snatched out of my hands.

"Hey-what the?" I whirl around to find Beat, and Rhyme grinning at me, while Neku scans my schedule.

"You have first period with me." He announces dramatically.

I roll my eyes back at him. "You could have just asked."

Neku has whipped out a pink highlighter, and is enthusiastically marking up my schedule.

"Umm… just exactly what are you doing?" I ask nervously.

He ignores me, switching onto blue as more scrawls appear on my paper. Then, he looks up, presenting me with a searing smile my insides and completely melting my irritation. Forgive me for my cheesy prose, but this boy is amazing.

"Just marking the classes we have together. Pink is for Rhyme, green is for Beat, and blue is for me."

"You've memorized our schedules too?" Beat stares at Neku, aghast this concept. "How can you…" He flings his hands up in defeat. "I don't even know mine yet."

Rhyme groans with a long-suffering sigh. "Even I know your schedule Beat."

"You're joking."

"No, I'm not. C'mon, let's go find B109 so for once, you won't be late." A smile flits on Rhyme's face as she promptly seizes her brother's sleeve and drags him off. "Don't forget Neku!"

We watch them go, Beat's face red-hot with humiliation, while his sister grins fondly back at him.

"Don't forget what?" I ask, narrowing my eyes at Rhyme's enigmatic statement.

"Oh. She said, don't forget to kiss the girl." The last few words lit upwards in a nostalgic melody.

"Isn't that from the Disney version of The Little Mermaid?" I ask.

"I think so." He shrugs.

"Oh, hey! I know the words to that song. It goes-"

But Neku is less interested in hearing the lyrics of this song than I am. His hand slides into mine, warm and secure, and my train of thought abruptly crashes as he pulls me towards him.

"Hey, I never got a chance to ask you this… go out with me?"

"Only if you kiss me." I snipe back, suddenly bold and daring. Took you long enough.

He laughs. "Alright."

And for the first time, we both lean forward, completely sure and confident of our situation. We meet halfway, the sun shimmering down upon our faces as the gap closes between us. We fit perfectly together, the way everything in life seems to fit, like how the last piece of a puzzle matches up to the pieces around it. It tastes like happiness, it tastes like perfection, and it tastes like a beginning something wonderful.

Afternoon sunlight filters through a kaleidoscope of colorful leaves, bathing the trees that frame the sidewalk in a halo of flames. I stroll down the path, Neku and Eri on either side of me, scuffing the pebbles on the sidewalk as we head home after our long ordeal.

Ahead of us stride Beat and Rhyme, their faces speckled with the irregular patches of shadow from the leaves.

We were so close together all along. Neku lives down the street from me, and Beat and Rhyme down on the next block, yet Eri, who lived across the city, was my first friend. It's ironic that all these years, they've just been another face in the crowd, another head in a class.

Like two pillars of support, my friends walk beside me, talking to me, and also to each other. Eri and I tease Neku about his fashion sense, Neku and I tease Eri about her recent designs, and our merry laughter rings out into the cool air like the tinkling of wind chimes.

Eri rolls her eyes at our accusations, even as she straightens out the hem of her artistically deranged skirt.

"Hey I'm not the one who still carries a stuffed cat around," she retorts, eliciting a snicker from Neku.

I hold out Mr. Mew, pulling his soft cheeks down so that his embroidered eyes are enlarged and sad. "Awww, you hurt Mr. Mew's feelings."

"Mr. Mew has no feelings." Neku teases mockingly.

"Mr. Mew is really really really heartbroken." I draw the lines of his mouth down into a frown, even as a small grin erupts on my own face.

There's something about this banter, this friendship, that connects us like thread connects cloth. It holds me together, it holds us together, and it contains that incandescent explosive warmth that threatens to bubble out of me and turn me into a sap.

Friendship, true friendship, is something that none of us have experienced before. Eri and I idolized each other to a degree where we lost the concept of humanity. I had my sewing, Eri her designs, and Neku his music, all which convinced us that we needed absolutely nothing else to be happy.

It's like a snug blanket that I can pull on during the coldest nights, a brilliant warmth that blazes like wildfire and singes the dark away. A cool gust of wind blows by, swirling with the frost of a winter yet to come, but I hardly feel it. The splitting idiotic grin on my face, the gentle pressure of Neku's fingers lacing with my own, and the equally radiant smile on Eri's face, is enough to combat any obstacle along our way.


A/N: Authors note is on the end this time. I wanted to make sure you guys all read the chapter before sitting through my last final ramble. (:

Haha, I tried wrap up most of the loose ends. This chapter was a little hard for me to write, mostly, I think, because I made the mistake of going off on way too many tangents during the actual story. I learned a lot though, which is always good.

If you could just leave one last review of:

1. What you liked about this story.
2. What you didn't like about this story, and suggestions on how I could improve it.

… I would really really really love you. But I guess you don't have to, because it's a free country, and begging for reviews is a bit pathetic.

Thanks everyone for sticking through the wild and chaotic ride that this has been, and being fellow fans of the Neku/Shiki/TWEWY fandom with me. Thanks for reviewing if you have, because it fills me with a sick kind of pride, knowing that I am being acknowledged. And special uber thanks The Legendaerie L-T for being my beta(fish).

Okay, that's all.

♥ Jestry