Ema awoke to the loud alarm of her cell phone, ringing and vibrating for all it was worth. With a grunt, the lethargic young detective snatched the device off her night table and flipped it open, finger instinctively reaching for the [Cancel] button.
That's new. Ema blinked at her phone in confusion; her alarm was calling out to her.
"Hello? EMA, ARE YOU THERE?!"
In a very familiar voice too… "Klavier?"
"Ah! Thank god! Fräulein, you have to help me!"
"What the… Klavier?!" Ema squinted at the display: 3:17am. Reluctantly, she put the phone up to her ear and grumbled into the receiver, "Do you have any idea what time it is?"
"Make it stop, Fräulein!"
She tried to make out what her crazy colleague was saying, but his words were drowned out by the loud background noise.
"I can't hear you, fop! Turn off that loud racket! Honestly, who blasts their stereo in the middle of-"
"What do you mean you- ohmygawdfopareyouataclub?!"
"WHAT?! FRÄULEIN, SPEAK UP, I CAN'T-"
"Klavier, where the hell is your son right now?!"
"Alex! WHERE IS ALEKSANDER!" At this point, Ema was sitting up on her bed, full out screaming back into her receiver.
"RIGHT HERE!!! He's right here bawling into my ears, Fräulein!"
Ema froze. The sudden pause allowed the noise in the background to overtake the conversation and the familiar heart wrenching wails of another Gavin saturated her hearing. Releasing a breath she didn't even realize she'd been holding, Ema collapsed back onto her bed.
"HELLO?! Ema?! EMMMA!!!"
"Stop yelling!" she snapped at the same time her head hit the pillow, "I'm sure half the city can hear you."
Her order was completely ignored as the yelling continued, "He's been crying ever since he woke up. That was over two hours ago. Two hours, Fräulein! He just won't stop. Please come and help! I have tried everything!"
"How about Google? Usually solves all my problems."
"What on earth do you expect me to do from my bed at 3am in the morning?"
She held the phone away from her ear that time. She had to hand it to the musician, he had tremendous vocals.
"Keep your voice down. You're going to wake my neighbours."
There was a pause on the other end this time.
"Oh? Do they often complain of men screaming your name at this hour?" Though he lowered his volume, his voice dropped a few octaves as well. Even so, Ema found she still preferred his less than pleasured cries of her name over his current husky tone. Upon second thought, she realized that she'd much prefer silence to either.
"I'm going back to sleep. Good night, Klavier." There was no hesitation. She hoped her apathy came across loud and clear.
Husky was quickly replaced by desperation. "Please, Ema! Think of my neighbours!"
She scoffed, "Do you mean the ones on the other side of your soundproofed walls or the ones living on your penthouse roof?"
"How did you–?"
"You do have this awful habit of bragging."
"Ah, very well. Considering the neighbours on the other side of your non-soundproofed walls, I have no qualms with screaming your name all night long." He pointedly emphasized the last three words.
Ema just as pointedly emphasized her indifference, "And I have no qualms with hanging up on my superior during off-duty hours. Good night, sir."
Her finger was already on the [End call] button when the sound of Aleksander's voice poured through the receiver. The ear-splitting shrieks earlier had now been reduced to exhausted sobs, still as heart breaking as ever; not to mention also extremely effective at destroying a young woman's iron resolve.
"Please, Ema? For Aleksander."
"That was a cheap move, fop."
"He desperately needs the warm embrace that only you can provide."
"Klavier," she tried to reason, "It is currently some ungodly hour of the night and I start work in five hours. You can't possibly expect me to–"
"Emmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmma!" He had reverted back to harmonizing with his son.
"Fine! I'm coming, so stop your whining."
"Would you prefer me to serenade you?"
Ema grit her teeth, feeling her temples throb ominously. "I would prefer you to give me your address."
"Are you coming by car?"
"No, I'm thinking I'll bike across the city at 3 in the morn– Of course, I'm coming by car! Now can you please tell me where you live so I can give the taxi driver a destination?"
"In that case, I'll send a car right away."
"To your apartment complex, of course."
"My wha– How do you know where I live?"
She was answered with a distant squeal from Alex somewhere in the background.
"Mind the neighbours now."
"Klavier," she growled, "You dirty bast–"
"We can discuss the finer details of privacy policies after you arrive, ja?"
She exhaled as much of her anger as she could in a single breath. "I'll go get ready."
"Excellent. Hurry, Fräulein!"
"How much time do I have? …Hello? …Klavier?" Greeted by silence, Ema pulled the phone from her ear; 'Call Ended' flashed at her mockingly.
After releasing a long frustrated scream into her pillow, Ema immediately rolled off her bed and began scrounging through the piles of clothes on her floor, searching for something clean to wear. Bypassing the more complicated steps in personal hygiene, she brushed her teeth, splashed water on her face and tugged a comb through her hair before dashing into her living room.
Ema found her fully packed purse conveniently sitting on the floor, untouched from where she had thoughtlessly dropped it when she staggered into her home earlier that evening. Carefully manoeuvring around the delicately balanced dishes on the coffee table, she grabbed her lab coat off her couch, fumbled through the pockets before tossing it back and dashed out the door, cell phone in one hand, keys in the other.
By the time she had reached the front foyer of her modest little apartment building, a familiar black taxicab was parked outside the doors.
"Fräulein Skye?" The driver monotonously inquired as Ema slid into the back seat.
Before she even had time to buckle her seatbelt, the car lurched forward, practically flying onto the street.
Ema cried out in a mild panic, "Where are you going?!"
"Relax, Fräulein Skye. Mr. Gavin is a regular customer of ours. Though this is the first he has asked us to pick up a lady so late at night…" Though his tone remained neutral, Ema didn't miss the subtle curl at the corner of his lips in the rear-view mirror.
Unable to bring herself to care enough to formulate a defence that wouldn't sound like an awkward denial, Ema chose to sit in silence. She leaned back into the comfortable leather seats, allowing her gaze to drift out the window. The busy streets had a different aura now that they were empty and the familiar stores that she passed by everyday somehow looked foreign as the car raced past them in the darkness. Though she had to admit Rodeo was still beautiful thanks to its unique streetlights.
Ema perked up immediately. They had now passed through Rodeo Drive and were driving straight into…
She didn't even realize she had spoken aloud until the driver answered, "That is correct. Mr. Gavin's household is just a little further, Fräulein Skye."
Ema gaped as they passed mansion after expensive mansion. It was no surprise that Klavier Gavin lived in luxury, but for some inexplicable reason, she had never imagined Beverly Hills luxury. In hindsight, this neighbourhood, known for its wealthy and often famous inhabitants suited the rock-god perfectly. But it still didn't make her any less incredulous of the fact that her glimmerous fop of a prosecutor lived in Beverly Hills.
Just when she thought the residences couldn't get any more extravagant, the cab finally slowed to a smooth stop in front of a low-rise condo.
"How much?" was her best attempt at a coherent sentence.
The driver merely waved her off. "Mr. Gavin has already taken care of it. Have an enjoyable night, Fräulein Skye."
This time she caught his wink. Muttering a quiet, though unappreciative "thanks", Ema grabbed her purse and quickly scrambled out of the car.
As if the elegant gold accents and red carpet weren't already intimidating enough, the casually dressed young woman found herself approaching the most prim and proper concierge she had ever met at 3:56am in the morning.
He greeted her with a crisp voice, "Fräulein Skye?"
"That's me…" Ema answered, wishing she wasn't at that moment.
One of the two elevators behind the concierge automatically opened for her. Assuming that was her cue, Ema hesitantly stepped through the open doors.
"Penthouse floor, to the right, through the glass doors, Fräulein Skye," he politely informed her as the doors slid to a close.
Ema pushed the [PH] button and within seconds, she was greeted with an empty hallway.
As instructed, she walked towards the right corridor, through a set of glass doors, and found herself stepping onto an immaculate marble foyer. To her right, the entire wall was covered in Gavinners memorabilia: old concert posters, album covers, past magazine spreads, various photos. A small smile tugged at her lips as she passed a photo of one short-haired seventeen year old rock star proudly holding his debut single in one hand and a platinum award in the other. The familiar faces of his band members/fellow law enforcement officers were also scattered throughout the photos; Daryan Crescend's face was especially prominent in the photos, almost always occupying the space directly next to Klavier. She also couldn't help but notice the vast number of women present in the various photos – though noted that none of the women showed up more than once on his wall.
Turning around, she came face to face with her reflection in the massive mirror that spanned the entirety of the opposite wall. Gotta look nice before you present yourself to Klavier Gavin, Ema mused as she examined her baggy sweatpants and oversized souvenir t-shirt. In her defence, she was here to put a baby to sleep, not seduce his father. Nevertheless, she tried to tame her messy bed hair before she turned and rang the doorbell. The familiar Gavinners symbol decorated the double doors; the sign next to them read "Klavier Gavin" in polished gold lettering.
Almost immediately, the door in front of her flung open with a bang, releasing the contents of Pandora's box – or more appropriately Klavier's chaotic nightlife. Aleksander's disparaging cries immediately filled the entire atrium; the echoes bounced off the walls, amplifying the sound tenfold. At that moment, Ema could easily appreciate the benefits of having a soundproof home. And judging by the look on Klavier's face, he considered them a necessity.
The obviously frazzled young father greeted her wearily, "Please come in, Fräulein. I assure you the noise isn't quite as deafening inside."
Graciously accepting his offer, she quickly entered the apartment. Stepping past him, she observed that he was still wearing his usual work attire, though he had forgone his purple suit jacket, opting to roll up the sleeves of his black shirt.
"I cannot thank you enough for coming." With both his arms occupied by a disgruntled baby, Klavier kicked the door closed behind them and walked towards what Ema assumed to be the kitchen area, "May I at least offer you something to drink?"
"No, I'm fine, thanks." Ema answered as she followed him; her eyes drifted throughout his very spacious open-concept apartment.
The kitchen was absolutely spotless and the various gadgets (toaster, blender, pressure-cooker, bread-maker?!) sitting on the counter all looked untouched – save for the espresso maker at the end, which appeared to have been recently abandoned in mid-use.
"Are you sure? It would be no trouble at all." Even as he said this, Ema watched as he struggled to keep Aleksander from squirming out of his grasp. She was especially pleased to notice that Klavier had now figured out how to securely hold onto his son.
"I'm fine, Klavier." She stated again, reaching her arms out towards him to relieve the young father of his sobbing bundle. The moment Aleksander settled into Ema's arms, his cries softened instantaneously. In hopes of lulling Alex back to sleep, Ema began rocking him gently while rhythmically patting his back.
"I think he prefers a woman's embrace," Klavier suggested somewhat sheepishly.
"Well, he certainly is your son then." The flirtatious fop beamed at her comment. What he was proud of was beyond her.
Continuing her efforts, Ema slowly started to move around the child's new home, pacing the length of the room, all the while absently examined her surroundings.
The kitchen and living room were separated by the line where marble tiles met hardwood flooring. All the living room furniture was of a simple modern design and barely looked worn in: black leather couch, glass coffee table, massive flat screen television with towering speakers on either side. The observant detective also noticed that there wasn't a single photo frame visible. Surrounding the living room were numerous closed doors; she noticed a light pouring out from the one furthest from her. Upon closer inspection, she could see the foot of a large bed.
"That's the master bedroom." Klavier told her from the recliner where he sat watching Ema pace, "Aleksander will be sleeping on my bed until I have made permanent arrangements."
"Where are you going to sleep?"
"I have a very comfortable futon in the den. I often sleep there when I'm in the midst of work."
She turned ninety degrees, walking through the living room towards the front foyer. She couldn't help but notice how abnormally neat Klavier's entire house was; she suspected it was partly because he had very few personal possessions lying around in the open. Everything in the living room was either behind glass doors and placed in its appropriate stand. Well, everything except for a pile of baby items strewn in disarray across the large empty space between the coffee table and T.V – Ema found it almost a welcome contrast to the cold impersonal atmosphere the rest of house was giving off.
"I see you've already opened the armoury," she muttered quietly.
"Nothing in there has even remotely helped." Klavier grumbled at the mess of various toys, clothing and supplies that Ema was carefully treading around. And despite her best efforts, Ema felt as if she wasn't helping either; Aleksander was no sleepier than when she first arrived. Her slow pacing and soothing back rubs were doing nothing to calm the restless child who continued to shift uncomfortably against her arms. It was somewhat disconcerting since the same technique had worked so effectively yesterday at the Detective Daycare.
"Did you feed him?"
"Right when we got home."
"He fell asleep on my bed."
"Did you give him a proper blanket and pillow?"
"Of course!" He motioned towards the open suitcase with clothes spilling out, "I gave him his blanket and pillow that he always uses."
"Did you change him?"
Ema broke her rhythm and turned to gape at him incredulously. Klavier simply stared right back, a rare oblivious expression plastered on his face.
"I think I may have discovered your problem." Ema said through her gritted teeth, reminding herself that it was the late hour – not stupidity – that was the cause of Klavier's confusion.
He quickly straightened up from his chair, "What is it?!" There was no attempt made to conceal the excitement in his voice.
"Do you have any diapers?"
She watched as he fumbled through the pile.
"Are these diapers?" The word sounded foreign coming from his lips. Kneeling on the floor, he held up a few white rectangular pads. Ema recognized them from her babysitting training many years back.
"Is there a box? Maybe some instructions to go with them?"
Klavier scrounged through the pile again, overturning the suitcase in the process. "Nein."
Unfortunately, after many years, there were a few parts of her training that were a little fuzzy – she'd just have to improvise.
They set a fidgety Aleksander down onto Klavier's bed, a towel spread underneath him. Taking a deep breath, Ema reached to undo the adhesive tabs.
"Have you done this before?" Klavier's voice was almost as shaky as her hands.
"Only on a plastic dummy ten years ago."
"Do you know what you're doing?"
"I can vaguely remember." Her honesty did nothing to reassure the inexperienced father. Though she was touched by his obvious concern for his son, between Klavier's nervous protests and Aleksander squirming away from her grasp, changing a diaper was a lot more difficult than Ema remembered.
"Are you certain you can pull–"
"This isn't open heart surgery," she snapped, "Now shut up and help me keep him steady."
After the first few tries resulted in complex tangle of limbs, she and Klavier managed to devise a system of how their arms crossed and whose hands went where. Then throwing Aleksander into the picture, Ema felt like they were three porcelain China dolls having a wrestling match – it was a bizarre experience to say the least.
When the scuffle finally died down, as the victor, Ema stood proudly staring at the open diaper; it was just as she suspected. "Looks like you have a Mr. Poopy, kiddo."
She turned beside her to find Klavier looking a little green and discreetly holding a hand over his nose. "Are there any baby wipes in your supply stash?"
He all too eagerly dashed out of the room, returning a moment later with a triumphant grin on his face, "This one has its own package!"
Ema almost felt guilty putting a damper on his accomplishment, "Good job, but I think butt wipes are pretty self-explanatory."
She swiftly swapped the dirty diaper for the travel-size package of wipes in Klavier's grasp. A look of horror flickered across his face before he fled again. As she was trying figure out the proper procedure of putting on a clean diaper, she could hear miscellaneous rustling out in the living room, soon followed by the loud slam of a sliding balcony door; she figured not asking was probably the safer – and definitely the smarter option. By the time Klavier arrived at her side, breathless and flustered, Ema was already onto the last step of diaper changing process.
Ensuring the sticky tabs were tightly adhered to where the arrows indicated, Ema stood Aleksander up on his feet to give the diaper the final check. Taking into account the content smile on his face and how the diaper didn't fall down, the endeavour was a complete success.
"Doesn't that feel better, Alex?" She was answered with a wide yawn.
With a relieved smile, Ema picked up the young child and resumed pacing the length of the large bedroom. Within minutes, she heard Klavier quietly call out to her from where he sat on the floor, "He's asleep."
Working together, they gingerly lowered him onto the sleeping area they made for him on Klavier's king size bed. Surrounded by soft pillows and fluffy towels, Aleksander was fast asleep. Ema watched as Klavier laid the blanket over his son before they both silently snuck out of the bedroom.
"Thank goodness." Klavier sighed, practically collapsed into his recliner.
In turn, Ema flopped onto his leather couch. "I can't believe you called me halfway across the city in the middle of the night to change a diaper."
He answered her with a chuckle that vaguely sounded like, "glad I did."
Ignoring his remark, Ema allowed her head to fall onto the headrest, feeling exhaustion take its toll. Turning onto her side, she found herself staring at Klavier's laptop which sat on the glass coffee table in front of her. To her mild amusement, it appeared that he had actually taken her advice and had done a Google search; his browser was opened to a section about helping your 11 month old sleep.
She proceeded to do the math in her head. "11 months ago, you were here last March, working at the prosecutor's office as always."
Across the room, the person in question made some semblance of a nod, "Ja, what of it?"
"9 months before then, it was June. The Kitaki case was in June."
A curious look crossed the prosecutor's face, "That's correct."
"You were also on tour in Germany that month – right up to days before the noodle stand murder at People Park."
A sad smile appeared, as Klavier realized the direction she was taking their conversation, "You have a good memory, Fräulein."
The question tumbled out before she even realized what she had asked, "Was it after a concert, during the after-party?"
Ema wasn't offended, or even surprised when there was no response. Though they mutually agreed that the two of them were 'friends', there were still a few conversation topics neither of them ever brought up: romantic relationships happened to be one of them. On her part, Ema simply had none. Between her career as a police detective, aspiration to be a forensic investigator, and spending every free minute as Prosecutor Klavier Gavin's personal bitc– friend, Ema quickly corrected herself – the busy young woman simply had no time to indulge in romance. Well, that was her story and damn it, she was sticking with it.
As for her lecherous male colleague, she'd always assumed that Klavier had so many women flitting in and out of life that his relationships weren't even worth mentioning.
When she walked into his late night tryst with the Chief Prosecutor's legal aide, she swiftly left his office as casually as she entered. The next morning, Klavier politely apologized for neglecting to lock the door and Ema equally as politely apologized for her lack of discretion when entering his office. That was the last they spoke of the incident – her confidentiality of the matter was already a given.
Even that one time he phoned her from the stairwell between the eleventh and twelfth floor of the Prosecutor's Office after someone had taken off with his pants, the only question she asked him was, "Where am I supposed to get you another pair?" Then when she arrived to find him lacking in underpants as well, the courteous professional she was, Ema simply tossed him the requested garment without a word. Truth be told, she had no desire to hear the circumstances leading up to his abandonment.
Similarly, when she stumbled into the rock-star prosecutor's office at 8am one morning wearing a short strapless one-piece dress under a wrinkled lab coat, Klavier simply handed the detective a bottle of fruit juice and informed her that their meeting was postponed to later that afternoon – much later. Seven hours and six litres of water later, Ema returned to his office in her usual attire and a spotless lab coat. Their discussion never strayed off the case at hand.
It had become an unspoken rule that each turned a blind eye to the other's romantic relations – a rule that Ema wasn't too keen on breaking at 4:47am in Klavier Gavin's apartment. She was already beginning to drift off when the other occupant of the room abruptly blurted out, "I think it was her voice that drew me in."
Though he spoke quietly, in contrast to the preceding silence, his sudden outburst jolted Ema back into wakefulness. The information itself was no groundbreaking revelation to the perceptive detective; she had long since noticed the trend in women Klavier was preferential towards. His current confession only further solidified her hypothesis: Klavier Gavin was a sucker for females with melodic voices. How that was professionally relevant, Ema had yet to determine.
He continued his narration, though his voice lacked the usual confident flair he displayed in court.
"I first met her during rehearsals. She was a V.I.P. of some sort, so she had a backstage pass. We merely chatted. I learned that she was a huge fan – nothing out of the ordinary.
"We were in Germany for over a week: intensive rehearsals followed by three concerts night after night. The first concert was a huge success so we celebrated – just the band and staff. As always, I was the last member leaving the concert hall. On my way out, I bumped into her, also leaving alone. She was singing one of our ballads."
His words faded into a quiet humming. Against popular belief, Ema did know of a select few Gavinners songs – radio exposed her to many unpleasant things. She immediately recognized the familiar melody. It was one of Klavier's softer compositions.
"The song sounded so different from her lips. She had such a beautiful voice – it was filled with such sadness, so much loneliness." He laughed; it was cold, hallow and very unlike Klavier.
"Perhaps it was all just a trick or maybe she truly was lonely, but regardless, I invited her back with me. That night," he paused as if searching for the right words, "she sang for me."
Sprawled along the length of his couch, Ema chose not to comment on his unnecessary euphemism.
"I found her again the next night, singing in the empty hall with that beautiful voice. I couldn't resist."
Her lips curled into a small, sad smile. Stupid fop.
"Then after our last concert was the wrap-up party. We had just finished an international tour, so of course we celebrated to our fullest. That night, everyone kept on toasting and Daryan just kept on pouring us drink after drink. I remember that somewhere along the line, she joined us at the bar to take a few celebratory shots with Daryan and I. After that, the rest of the night is a blur."
Ema remained silent. Though she had never attended one of the Gavinners infamous after-parties, she had figured as much.
"We were careful the two nights before, but I don't remember any of the events that happened after leaving the party, just that we woke up together again that morning. When we said our goodbyes, she thanked me for my company, I praised her for her voice. That was it. After all, there was nothing there. All we shared was sex. It was supposed to be the end."
It was somewhat disquieting for her to hear such crude statements from the usually elegant and euphuistic prosecutor. After it became clear he wasn't planning to continue, Ema took a deep breath and forced out the question trapped in her throat.
"When'd you find out?"
"This past Monday."
It only took those three words to explain her quiet week.
"Her husband was constantly away for business, they probably spent more time apart than together. When she found out she was pregnant, she didn't want to risk going to a doctor for an abortion out of fear that it could be used against her as blackmail in the future. Her mother is a midwife, so she feigned illness and went to live with her mother in the countryside until she gave birth. Afterwards she returned to her husband's manor, leaving Aleksander with his grandmother. She said she visited them on occasion.
"After the Gavinners disbanded, our publicist made it very difficult for paparazzi and journalists to find us, fans as well. It was almost impossible for her to get in contact with me.
"Then a few weeks ago, she found me by chance. Apparently, I was featured in the same political magazine as her husband – the article stated that I was a prosecutor in Los Angeles. I guess she had some friends in the legal circles since I walked into the prosecutor's office on Monday and found her harassing my secretary. The rest of the week deteriorated from there."
"There were no tears, barely any emotion. She claimed that she didn't want Aleksander to suffer for our mistakes. If she brought Aleksander home to her husband, he would throw them both out. And I suppose something akin to love prevented her from leaving him at the nearest orphanage. I pulled a few strings and got DNA tests done anonymously. I started the contract the moment I received the results. It took some 36 hours to finish both of them."
36 hours sounded like a long time, but to draft a massive legal contract in English and German in that span of time was truly an incredible feat. Ema had to admit, Prosecutor Gavin wasn't called a legal genius without reason.
"When Herr Chief called to inform me of your new case, it was the perfect opportunity. I immediately requested that you came to meet with me at my office and I believe the rest falls into place, ja?"
Ema finally released the heavy sigh she had been holding back. Suddenly, the few awful hours she experienced yesterday felt so insignificant compared to turbulent week Klavier must have had. There were no words that could describe the intense sympathy she felt for him at that moment and nothing she felt she could say to help the situation. There was no sense in placing blame or dwelling on past regrets. Thus, she chose to remain silent.
It was a comfortable silence between two oddly assorted friends, who had just shared an exhausting day together.
Just as sleep was finally washing over her again, Ema lazily called out to man across the room.
"Ja?" He murmured back, sounding half asleep himself.
"What bus can I take back to my place?"
"No one uses public transportation in Beverly Hills. I'll call you a cab in the morning."
She realized that she must have said that out loud, because she heard Klavier's quiet chuckle fading into the fuzzy warmth that overtook her.
… in the morning…
[2009.08.21] Wow! It's been a long time coming. This chapter is a real monster, but well worth the effort. The background is officially completed! Point out any inconsistencies and contradictions now, or forever read in peace. Also, feel free to leave any other comments! I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who left reviews over the past few months! Reading each and every one of them as helped me continue writing, so thank you. Hope you enjoyed this chapter and I'll see you all in the moooorning (i.e. next chapter)!
[2009.08.22] Just got around to going through all the reviews for the past few months and I wanted to give a special shout out to lazyguy90 for continuously leaving encouraging reviews my stories (and many other stories too!): you're awesome, man!
Next, I just wanted to personally thank the anonymous readers and the readers who don't have a FF[.net] account. Since I can't send you PMs through the site, I guess I'll have to thank you guys here: "Your reviews actually do encourage us authors to keep writing, so thank YOU (yes, YOU!) for taking the few minutes out of your busy lives to leave a few kind words. Take care and see you in the next chapter, which will not take five months to be released, I promise!"
And FINALLY, I wanted to give a shout to "Yim", whoever you are/if you're still reading, for leaving your blunt review: "Well thanks for your opinion and I'm going to work hard to make this story better. Rest assured that I'm not going to give up just because of one kick."