The Classical Side of Love

Disclaimer: I don't own the series Mai HiME or Mai Otome, Sunrise does.

Author's ramble: Hey folks…sorry about the late update…but you see, I've been rather sick lately. I've the flu, thankfully just the regular flu, but I've been bedridden for a few days now. I blame my work, since with ever one scared wit-less about the H1N1 going around, my job had made it mandatory to get the flu shot. So although I protested against getting the vaccine, I still had to get it. And now I'm sick. I just don't understand why anyone would believe that getting the vaccination would help one. I mean it's inoculation in the flawed sense that: hey lets get you immune to something by giving you the pathogens of that virus! That's just like saying: 'hey lets get you immune to breathing by suffocating you little by little!' Gah! I'm sorry, I hate being sick, especially since I always am.

Anyways for the real note: thanks to all the reviews and stuff, and the anonymous reviews too! I'm sorry Loveless I forgot to address your review from last chapter. Once I uploaded the chapter, I did not know how to fix it, so I'll reply to you here.

Loveless: I'm really sorry I did not reply to you last chapter, but thank you! Actually Natsuki's break in will be in the next chapter! I promise! I hope it will be good though, I had to set everything up so Natsuki, Shizuru, and Alyssa meet all at once. Lol Anyways, I hope you look forward to it too. :D

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Chapter Six

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Across the city, Elysium's group was stuck in the middle of traffic Wednesday afternoon. There was road construction, and so waiting in the air conditioned limo, the group members sat patiently for the vehicle to slowly craw to their destination. They were already one hour late to the practice studio; but it couldn't be helped. Thus Reito was left to tirelessly talk on the phone, arranging, and rearranging appointments due to this unforeseen set back.

Anh was engrossed in her mp3 player, and with eyes closed, she was shut off from the world around her. Bobbing her head in tune with the music, the first violinist didn't have a care it seemed. Sitting next to Anh was Yukino, who leaned her head against Haruka. Haruka was sitting by the door, and continued to glare out the window. The mustard blonde haired woman was pissed at being late to their appointment, and she was annoyed at being stuck in traffic. Thus violet eyes glared at all the people passing by their limo on the sidewalk, seething in anger and jealousy. 'Damn it, they're moving faster than the damn car!' Haruka hissed in her mind. She knew if she spoke her thoughts out loud, she would only be chided by her girlfriend again. But damn it all, they haven't even moved a block yet, and it has been twenty minutes already!

Ignoring the busty blonde's huff, Shizuru kept her red gaze out the window across from her long time friend. Honestly, she did not really care that they were stuck in traffic, like most in the car, she was unfazed. Looking back to those around her, Shizuru noticed that Miyu and Alyssa were also undisturbed by the turn of events. She could understand Miyu not being effected, since if a matter did not involve the little girl, then Miyu didn't care. At all.

Alyssa however was somber, and has been ever since returning to Windbloom Kingdom Monday night. There were lots of tabloids pestering the Golden Angel; stories about a broken home, and being rejected by her own mother. Most were rumors, but some of it was true since the little girl had mentioned her mother's unwillingness to acknowledge her. It was heartbreaking for Shizuru, and the rest of Elysium, but all they could do was give their support and love to the girl. It seemed to be enough, but not what Alyssa wanted. Nevertheless the ten year old never said anything negative, and accepted the concern and attention her friends lavished on her with a soft smile.

Alyssa sat close to the door with Miyu by her side. Chie and Shizuru sat opposite them, with Reito on the other side of Anh sitting on the back seat by the door. Feeling the black limo crawl forward a few feet then stop, then repeat the process, was utterly monotonous. There was absolutely nothing to look at, and nothing to do. So turning around and kneeling on the leather seats, Alyssa propped her elbows on the back of the bench and stared out the window.

Looking out to the busy city street, blue eyes watched the people walk by. They all seemed to be moving quickly, heading to whatever destination they were going without pause. Gazing up Alyssa saw banners and billboards, all advertising Elysium's end of tour concert in a few days. It was odd to see herself on all those ads; but that was the point wasn't it? To be everywhere. Sighing to herself, Alyssa rested her chin on the back of the leather chair. She missed Natsuki-Onee-chan. Looking back down to the crowd that walked by the limo on the sidewalk, she wished her sister was there with her, she would know what to do. "Onee-chan would make everything right…" she whispered to herself.

Then as if from a dream, blue eyes caught a glimpse of a figure with familiar cobalt hair. Bolting upright, Alyssa gasped in surprise as she tried to keep the figure in sight. "Miyu! It's Onee-chan!" Alyssa said breathlessly as she lunged for the door. Quickly climbing over a surprised Reito, and jumping out, the ten year old paid no mind to the startled yelps of the people on the sidewalks or the concerned calls of the friends she left behind. She only had one thing in mind, and that was to catch her dear sister. "Onee-chan! Wait for me! Onee-chan, wait!!"

Luckily that figure, with the familiar hair, stopped at the corner of the street, waiting for the signal to turn green so she could cross. Running as fast as her little legs would carry her, Alyssa caught up to the taller, cobalt haired girl, and hugged her from behind. "Onee-chan!"

"Eh?!" The woman shrieked as she turned to face the ten year old. Shocked, Alyssa stepped back quickly. The person before her was not her sister. The surprise and confusion was clearly displayed across the woman's face as she looked at the small child. "Who are you?" The woman asked in a shrill voice.

It was nothing like Natsuki-Onee-chan's soft, and loving voice. The woman's blue eyes were also pale in comparison to her sister's vivid emerald orbs. The lady before her had the same color of hair, but upon closer inspection, it was a shade lighter than her sister's. Even the facial structure was completely off. Natsuki-Onee-chan did not have a square jaw, neither did she have narrow eyes. Backpedaling a few more steps, Alyssa flushed at her mistake. Bowing deeply, golden locks hid her frustration and embarrassment. "I'm so sorry! I mistook you for someone else."

"Ah…it's alright, but where are your parents, little girl?" the lady said as she kneeled down to Alyssa's level. The child was adorable, and most likely lost and confused, the woman thought.

Meeting the lady's blue eyes with her own glaring ones, Alyssa frowned at the stranger. She was annoyed that the lady before her, not only dared to look like her sister, she was now treating her like a brainless child too! "That's none of you--"

"Ojou-sama!" Miyu arrived instantly at her side. Sensing the girl's hostile mood, the cyan haired woman instantly scooped the singer up. "Are you alright? Did this person harm you?" Narrowing red orbs at the strange woman, Miyu regarded the lady harshly. If the stranger had so much as touched her little Angel, then Miyu would show no mercy. Were it not for Reito being in the way, blocking the door in the limo, then she would have caught up to Alyssa much sooner. Had anything happened to Alyssa during that moment's holdup, Miyu would never forgive herself, or Reito for that matter. So it was with relief that the cyan haired woman found the ten year old when she did, but she was still annoyed that she was even a little bit delayed.

Seeing the cold glare from the woman dressed as a maid, the stranger stepped back. "Ah, it was just a misunderstanding. Excuse me," the lady said quickly as to get away from the intimidating figure.

Watching the blue haired woman walk briskly across the street, Miyu furrowed her brows. That was the cause of her Angel's abrupt flight? Frowning, Miyu wordlessly took Alyssa back to the waiting limo. She knew her charge was feeling frustrated, but there was nothing she could do. Alyssa's safety would always come first, but the child's happiness was another matter.

During the rest of the long ride to the studio, Alyssa spoke to no one, not even Miyu.

Sighing softly, Miyu stayed silent; she knew how much Alyssa missed her sister, yet she could do nothing. She was given one order--a request really--but it was that determined plea, that kept the pale maid from reuniting the sisters at once. Because although Miyu possessed the ability and power to bring Natsuki-sama to Alyssa-ojou-sama, and vice versa, she could not go against Saeko Kruger's will. 'No matter what, please, stay by Alyssa-chan's side.' Although the plea was given years ago, when Natsuki first attended school, and Alyssa was left at home because she was too young, Miyu still honored the request of her master. To this day, Miyu has never left her Angel's side, and she knew without a doubt, she would never leave Alyssa in the future either.

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After leaving Aswad Motors, that Wednesday afternoon, Natsuki made her way to HiME Instruments. Entering the large music store, Natsuki smiled as a gust of cool air welcomed her. Heading straight to the piano and organ section of the store, green eyes quickly scanned for her good friend, Erstin Ho. The girl reminded her of Alyssa, and although that was the original reason Natsuki befriended the girl, she came to really care for Erstin as a good friend over the years.

Seeing Erstin polishing one of the many pianos, Natsuki called out to the girl. "Busy as always I see." It was just like the blond girl to be hard at work. Erstin Ho was apart of a nomadic group that settled in Aswad Village two years before Natsuki moved there. Three years Natsuki's junior, Erstin was a cheerful person, although a little shy. The blond had moved to Windbloom Kingdom six months ago with their mutual friend, Arika Yumemiya, who decided to move closer to her mother, Rena.

Hearing the voice of her good friend, Erstin turned, and with a smile, she greeted Natsuki. "Hey, how are you feeling?" It had been two days since she last saw Natsuki, and she was a bit worried. The older girl always tended to make light of her situation, often joking that it was a mere 'flesh wound' when it could be life threatening. The bizarre red curse would always spring up to mind, and cause Erstin to worry. From what Youko and Professor Gal had diagnosed, if Natsuki did not properly treat the strange infection, then it could eventually take over the mechanic's body, and create a lot of pain. That and Natsuki always complained that the strange red marking was 'itchy as hell.' So to hear that Natsuki had received another wound, greatly troubled the young blond.

"I'm fine." Natsuki said with a carefree smile. Erstin always worried too much, in her opinion. It was sweet, and for a moment, Natsuki wondered if Alyssa would be as worried about her as Erstin was. They looked so much a like, save Erstin's bright green eyes and timid nature, Natsuki sometimes wished she was Alyssa, so they could always be together. Shaking her head to dislodge such strange thoughts, Natsuki shrugged as she neared the still seated girl. "Just a few stitches, nothing too life threatening." Taking a seat next to the blond girl on the piano bench, Natsuki stroked the polished white keys. The tune was soft and light. Smiling in satisfaction, Natsuki was pleased to see the sutures did not hinder playing the piano. "How have you been?"

Mentally frowning at the older girl's carefree nature, Erstin kept silent. She knew Natsuki did not want her to worry, but she did, and she just hoped the older girl knew that. Leaning back on her arms Erstin listened to the soft melody, and the longer she listened, a smile began to form. In Aswad Village there was no piano, but she had always known Natsuki was a gifted musician; it was one of the reasons the mechanic got along well with the children of the village. The emerald eyed girl would always be playing music, be it a flute or the Erhu, both of which she played beautifully. So it was a great treat that Natsuki would often come in during her shift to play a few songs for Erstin since she loved the sound of the piano the most. "Eh, I can't complain. Especially not when Natsuki-chan is playing such a beautiful song."

Normally Natsuki would hate it when people added a suffix to her name. She did not like the classification that others would force upon her. Be it -kun, -chan, -san, or as Miyu loves to use, -sama. She just did not like it. It was a silly language quirk that stemmed from Zipang and infected the rest of Earl as Natsuki liked to think of it. Although that silly language quirk was apart of her heritage (her mother being a native of Zipang and she, herself being born there), Natsuki often refused to use those suffixes herself. She could understand why Miyu used it, since she was excavated from Zipang, but she just couldn't fathom why others--non native to Zipang--would use it. It seem like the younger generation especially, were prone to using those silly honorific titles too.

'That mountain witch used them as well, but then again, she spoke in a strange dialect too.' Natsuki thought as she played absentmindedly. She briefly wondered if the mysterious lady with the ruby eyes ever got off that mountain, or if she got to where ever she was going. Perhaps she just lived there, Natsuki mused, but that couldn't be, since she was prone to falling and being attacked by wild dogs. Natsuki mentally smirked as she recalled how much trouble that honey haired lady had been, and how much trouble she had brought Natsuki. Nevertheless Natsuki lived through it, and she wasn't cursed, so it wasn't like she held a grudge against the ruby eyed woman. Maybe the mountain witch really did not live on that mountain, the mechanic wasn't sure, so she shrugged the thoughts aside. It wasn't like they were going to meet again anyways, so it was better to not linger on the unique woman.

"Don't use 'chan,'" Natsuki said as she continued to play, "just call me 'Natsuki' is fine." the musician said as she played another song from memory. The tune sounded different on the piano than it would on the Erhu, but it was still a beautiful song. This was Alyssa's favorite melody.

Thinking upon it, Natsuki smiled softly as her fingers continued to glide across the keyboard. It has been ages since she had last touched a piano. It was her mother's favorite instrument, and wanting to please her mother, Natsuki attended Aries Music Academy. It was rather amusing at the time, since Saeko loved music, but was a horrible singer and had no skills with an instrument at all. Thus Natsuki learned, and master every musical instrument she touched. Her sister Alyssa had the voice of an angel, and together, they were amazing. Saeko's two beautiful baby girls, were talented, and loving, and the pride and joy of the busy President at the time. So although Saeko was often busy at the office, and stressed with the affairs of the country, when she returned home, her little girls would always play music and sing for her, and Saeko would be able to relax. It was those calm, peaceful moments that would always flood Natsuki when ever she played an instrument, and she couldn't help but feel homesick.

Chuckling softly at Natsuki's insistence on dropping the '-chan,' Erstin leaned her head on the mechanic's right shoulder, and looked at her friend's profile. Used to the forlorn look the raven haired girl would wear when she played music, Erstin could not help but find the sight beautiful. Natsuki was a gorgeous woman, but the air of loss and longing that would radiate from her when she played, only increased her allure. However Erstin knew Natsuki only cared for her as a little sister, so to distract her thoughts, the blonde decided she needed a change in subject. "What do you plan on getting your little sister for her belated birthday present?" Erstin asked as she lazily closed her eyes to better listen to the music. Over the past few days she and Natsuki had kept in contact, and so she knew about the mechanic's plan to see her famous little sister, but she had no clue about the details. It was still amazing to her, that the famous Alyssa Kruger and Natsuki Kuga were sisters, but considering Natsuki's musical talent, Erstin readily believed it.

Natsuki did not say anything, but frowned, and continued to play with more passion. This was the dilemma…what to get someone who could afford anything they wanted, since there was no doubt, the ten year old was wealthier than both their salaries combined for the year, or even a lifetime. A few minutes passed, and Natsuki began a new song. HiME Instruments was mostly empty with only a few customers loitering around the guitar, and music book sections of the store, so they continued to enjoy the music in silence. It was another slow day for the shop, but Erstin didn't mind as she had such beautiful music to entertain her. "That's it!" the blond said with excitement sitting up straight.

Erstin's abruptness caused Natsuki to jolt, and for a moment she missed a note. Frowning slightly at being off key, Natsuki slowly stopped playing, and locked her green eyes on Erstin's olive green ones. "What's 'it'" Natsuki asked with a raised brow and annoyed voice. She was not so annoyed at being interrupted from the music she was playing, but from the memories she was reliving. For a moment there, she could have sworn it was Alyssa resting her head against her shoulder, not Erstin. The realization sent a cold stab into her heart, and frowning to hide her pain, Natsuki waited for the girl beside her to explain.

"You're music! You should record a few songs and give it to Alyssa-chan as a birthday gift. She'll love it, I'm sure! That way, when you can't be with her, she can listen to your music!" Nodding as if agreeing with herself, Erstin quickly moved from the piano bench and went to the back of the store. "I'll be just a moment!"

Watching her friend disappear around a corner, Natsuki cocked her head to the side in thought. It was a great idea to send Alyssa music, since it was probably the only thing she could send that would be of value to her sister, but what songs should she send? She knew Erstin was right, and she wanted to send something that would convey to Alyssa that she was never alone, but what song? 'Can a few song really fill the void of my absence?' Natsuki wondered. Frowning slightly, and shaking the thoughts away, Natsuki tried to ignore the emptiness she felt. No, a few songs would not be enough, but it would have to do until she could find a way around the restraining order.

In the meantime, she could send a few lullabies she used to sing to Alyssa when she was a child, that would be a good start. Or perhaps a few of Alyssa's favorite melodies would be better. Maybe she should just send a song written from her heart, telling her how much she missed her little sister, since that would be the best. There were just too many choices, and how was she supposed to record the melody in the first place?

True to blonde's word, she was back quickly with a new CD in hand. Smiling brightly, Erstin sat down next to the bewildered mechanic again. Placing the CD into the slot on the right side of the electronic piano, the younger woman grinned from ear to ear. "There! Now we can record all of your songs to send to Alyssa-chan!"

"This piano can record music?" Natsuki asked impressed. A firm nod was her answer, and smiling widely, the raven haired girl ruffled Erstin's short blond hair affectionately. "You're such a genius Ers! How many minutes can this record?"

"Hey!" Blushing faintly, Erstin giggled as she grabbed Natsuki's right hand and tried to stop her hair from being messed up. "The manager said it can record up to thirty minutes, so you better choose your songs wisely!" Pressing the appropriate keys, the blond began recording, as a little red light began to flash.

"Heh," Natsuki smiled happily as she turned back to the keyboard, "I know just the songs." Stroking the keys with passion, Natsuki began to play from her heart, and although she knew sending Alyssa a CD of music would never be enough, it would have to do for now.

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By the time Elysium's limo had arrived at the practice studio, it was past two o'clock in the afternoon. They were late, and thus, their studio room was already being used by another. The group of six women, one man, and a ten year old, had nothing to do but wait in the lobby for a free room. Elysium did not have to wait long, as all eyes turned to a group walking down the hall to the lobby area. They instantly recognized the new group, .cELLOMa2, heading their way, and Alyssa cringed at the familiar sight.

Taking the lead with boyfriend and group manager, Yuichi Tate, was Mai Tokiha, the lead cello, Chie noted with a weary smile. She had heard quite a bit about the upstart group; a quartet of friends that all played the cello. They were a group that mostly stayed in their home country of Cardair. However recently, they were sponsored by one of the princes of Cardair, to go on tour through out Earl. Mostly visiting the villages and smaller cities, .cELLOMa2 was beginning to make a name for themselves. Yet their popularity was mostly due to each of the members' social standing, than to their music, as .cELLOMa2 was often called 'Cello Princess' by the media.

As Chie's brown eyes looked over each member, she instantly recognized Mai, the Princess of Zipang, who was allegedly 'banished' after refusing a political marriage with the King of Florence. Next to Mai was Akane Kruts, Prince Kazuya Kruts' wife, who was also the sponsor of the group's tour. To the left of the royal couple was Mayo Kagura, the only child of Raquel Kagura, a famous actress, and Shion Tennoji, the daughter of the Vice President of the Republic of Aries. Bring up the back of the group was Masahi Takeda, a handsome man, with spiky black hair and a tanned complexion, his father is known as 'Earl's greatest Swordsmen.' However the woman next to him caused Chie to gasp with wide eyes. There sauntered Aoi Senoh, the daughter of humble business man, she was the least famous member, in fact, she was never mentioned before.

Rubbing her eyes, Chie had to do a double take to be sure it really was Aoi Senoh. It was. It really was the haughty, modest, sweet girl, from Aries Music Academy, that Chie had met almost three years ago. The brunette was the only one that was immune to Chie's charm back then, and although it was surprising to be slapped by the girl, Chie couldn't help but be attracted to the blue eyed beauty. Perhaps it was because Aoi presented a challenge, or maybe it was because she felt her pride wounded when she was slapped, Chie did not know. However she did know that ever since their encounter years ago, she has always been thinking of the younger girl, wondering 'what if?'

Seeing the group near, the carbon haired woman gulped as she felt her skin flush. That old man at Kala Mountain may have been right when he said, "just by wearing the simple love charm, she will find her true love." Rubbing her sweaty palms on her pants legs, she gave a nervous smile. Chie was sure her true love was Aoi Senoh. She had years to prove that this suspicion was wrong, but no matter what she did and whom she dated, her thoughts and heart, always lead back to the blue eyed brunette. Chie knew she was meant to be with Aoi; she just had to convince Aoi of that. How hard could that be?

Standing to meet the other group, Reito greeted the rival group with a smile. He had been wanting to schedule a meeting with them, and now, here was his chance. "Hello, my name is Reito Kanzaki, I'm the manager of Elysium," Reito said easily, and soon the rest of Elysium stood as well. "It's such a pleasure to finally meet the members of .cELLOMa2! Today must be our lucky day."

"It's an honor to be in the presence of Elysium!" Yuichi said as he shook hands with Reito. "We didn't think a famous group, such as yourselves, would be using this establishment too. It really is a coincidence to meet each other, isn't it?"

"Elysium has been a patron of Windy Studios for years, so really it's like a second home to us." Reito said as he glanced over the members of .cELLOMa2. "Forgive my rudeness, allow me to introduce my colleagues and friends." Stepping to the side, the raven haired man motioned to his friends with a charming smile on his face. "This is Anh Lu, on first violin. Shizuru Fujino, second violin. Chie Hallard, on cello. Yukino Chrysant, on viola. Head of Security, Haruka Armitage. Alyssa Kruger, Elysium's voice, and her guardian, Miyu." No one noticed the sad tone Reito used when he spoke of Miyu, but no one really cared, they were too interested in .cELLOMa2. Ever since the foul-up of hindering the cyan haired woman in the limo, Reito had been treated coldly and completely ignored. It was painful that his crush was doing this to him, but forcing his feelings aside, Reito plastered on one of his brightest smiles. After the concert tour ends, he would make it up to Miyu on their trip to Aswad Village, and hopefully he will still have a chance to be with the silent beauty.

Nodding to the members of Elysium in greetings, Yuichi introduced the members of his group. "My name is Yuichi Tate, I'm the manager of .cELLOMa2, and this is my girlfriend, Mai Tokiha. She plays the lead cello along with Akane Kruts, Mayo Kagura, and our new member, Aoi Senoh. Prince Kazuya Kruts has been kind enough to sponsor our tour, and is here to support his wife Akane. Also we have our head of security Masashi Takeda, and Shion Tennoji, on keyboard and programming."

During the introductions Alyssa stood partially behind Miyu's leg, and clutched on to her guardian's black dress. Chie was at a lost for words and never broke eye contact with her long time crush, despite the blank look Aoi would give her. The rest of the combined groups were readily mingling with each other to notice Chie's lack of breathing, and Alyssa's annoyed frown.

"It's good to see you again, Alyssa-chan, Miyu-san." the girls of .cELLOMa2 said to the two at various intervals. However it was Mai that continued to try and speak with the little girl, despite being ignored by the blond child. "It's quite a surprise to see you here, Alyssa-chan. How are you? Have you spoken to Tsuki-chan lately?"

Glaring at Mai's crouched form, Alyssa scowled at the red head, as she was reminded of her earlier mistake. "That's none of your business! Don't think that because you know Onee-chan, that you can be so familiar with me!" the child said as she pushed Mai away from her and ran down the hall.

"Forgive Ojou-sama's lapse in behavior, Mai-hime-sama. She is under stress, and is currently in a foul mood." Bowing deeply, Miyu resisted the urge to run to her Angel. She had to first apologize, and hopefully Mai was still the patient and kind person Miyu knew. It was never good to disrespect the princess of one's home country, so Miyu had to apologize first.

Brushing herself off, and ignoring the stares of both groups, Mai smiled easily. "Eh, don't worry about it Miyu-san. And please! Stop addressing me as 'hime-sama!' We've known each other for years, so there is no need for formalities. Besides, I've already given up that title, so I'm not your princess anymore." Lilac eyes sparkled as she watched Miyu rise from the deep bow and nod in understanding. Really it has been too long since they had last seen and spoken to each other. "Anyways I know Alyssa-chan is under stress. I feel bad for her. So," rummaging in her over the shoulder bag, Mai pulled out a CD and handed to the cyan haired maid, "I got her this. It's from all of us, and we hope it will make Alyssa-chan feel better. Especially about her sister."

Seeing Mai's bright smile, and the nodding faces of the rest of .cELLOMa2, Miyu bowed once more in gratitude. "Thank you." With a small smile, Miyu turned and nodded to the rest of Elysium, and headed down the hallway to find Alyssa.

Curious, Chie regarded the orange haired leader in wonder. "I didn't know you knew Alyssa-chan. She's never mentioned any of you before." Locking brown eyes on Aoi's stoic profile, Chie sighed. It seemed that perhaps that love charm doesn't work after all, and that convincing Aoi that they were meant for each other was going to be harder than she thought.

"Ah," Mayo said, as she scratched her cheek awkwardly, "we all attended Aries Music Academy together with Alyssa-chan's sister, well except Masashi-kun that is."

"Usually Alyssa-chan is a very well mannered child. Rather subdued and collected in temperament. I had never seen her lash out like that before." Anh said more to herself than anyone else, as she held her chin and looked down the hallway. Turning light blue eyes to gaze at each member of the cello group, Anh shrugged, and bid the rival group goodbye before heading off to find Alyssa too.

"Ara, ara," Shizuru spoke softly as she shook her head at it all. After Alyssa has pushed the other girl down, the entire lobby was left in silence. Even though Miyu apologized, it seemed that both groups were a bit unsure of what to do next. Not wanting to continue to stand in the lobby, since her ankle was still a bit sore, even with the brace, Shizuru smiled to try to put both groups at ease. "Alyssa-chin has been rather depressed lately. I hope you will not hold her actions against you, Mai-dono." Seeing the others turn to her, Shizuru smiled warmly at them. Although Mai Tokiha had refused the title of Zipang's Princess, she was still a princess of Zipang, Shizuru's home country, and she respected Mai.

Smiling and shrugging off the concern, Mai rubbed the back of her neck. "It's okay, really. Alyssa-chan may not look like her sister, but they have a similar personality." Mai spoke softly. Shaking her head to clear the thoughts, Mai smiled at the rest of Elysium. "Well it was nice meeting all of you. I wish you success on you end of tour concert this Saturday!"

Exchanging wishes of good luck, the two groups parted ways. However before Elysium was too far away, Mai hollered back, "Hey!" thus causing the departing group to pause before they turned the corner. "I was wondering if you guys wanted to attend a karaoke party with us Sunday night?" Mai asked, as the two groups were ten feet away.

Looking at each of the present group members, Reito eloquently shrugged and smile back. "I suppose that could be arranged."

"Great!" Mai said happily, "I'll send you more information and the location later!" Waving and rushing off to her waiting group members, Mai hugged her boyfriend's arm as they walked out together.

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After practicing at Windy Studios for five hours, Elysium decided to call it quits and head out to dinner. However Shizuru politely refused, as her ankle was beginning to bother her, and Alyssa was still in a sour mood. Thus dropping Shizuru, Alyssa and Miyu off at the tall apartment building, the rest of Elysium headed out to dinner.

Making their way to the fourteenth floor, the three rode the elevator in silence. Shizuru was in room 1416, and Miyu and Alyssa resided in room 1418 next door. It was an arrangement that worked well for the apartment building, and even better for Elysium, since all of their members lived on the same floor. It was a convenient 'security measure,' as Haruka would often call it, since it would be easiest to oversee the safety of each member, as they were all close together. Anh was in room 1403, Chie in room 1405 next door. Reito was in room 1410, and Yukino and Haruka resided in room 1411 across the hall from him.

Taking the apartment keys out, Shizuru stopped at her door to bid her fellow members goodnight. However upon turning to face the two, ruby eyes took in Alyssa's down cast orbs, and Miyu's silent worried frown, causing Shizuru to pause. Throughout practice Alyssa had been withdrawn and quiet. Nevertheless her singing was still spot on, but Shizuru knew it had a hint of sadness to it that was not usually present. Watching the two make their way past her, to their apartment door, Shizuru call out. "Ne, Alyssa-chin, Miyu-han, would you like to join me for a cup of tea?" Shizuru offered warmly. She did not have much to offer, but she felt she had to do something to help the girl out. It was no secret that Alyssa was her favorite. The blonde girl was adorably cute, but not childish, so Shizuru couldn't help but love the child like a sibling she never had. Thus to see the girl's forlorn mood, the Kyoto woman wanted to help.

Looking up slowly to meet inviting russet eyes, Alyssa frowned sadly; it was the same concerned look Natsuki-onee-chan would give her. It seemed that all day she was being reminded of her sister, and it only served to make her feel colder inside. She knew that Shizuru-onee-chan was worried about her, and everyone was too, but she just didn't seem to care anymore. She just wanted her Onee-chan, why was that so difficult? Shaking her little head 'no,' Alyssa did not bother to hide her feeling and fake a smile. Instead she was just going to walk away, when Miyu's clear voice accepted the offer.

"Thank you, Shizuru-san, we would love to, if it's not too much trouble." This caused Alyssa to halt, and look from her guardian, to the woman she considered a sister with a frown. Didn't Miyu realize that she didn't want to be bothered? Nevertheless the soft look Shizuru was giving her, caused Alyssa too, to accept the offer of tea without complaint.

"Of course not, please, enter." Nodding to the sky blue haired woman, and smiling warmly at the child, Shizuru ushered the two in. Motioning them to the soft, micro fiber tanned couch, Shizuru left them to enter the kitchenette and prepare tea. Quickly filling the kettle with water, and placing it on the burner, Shizuru waited for the water to boil. As she waited, crimson eyes wandered around the open kitchen to the sitting duo on the couch. The two were engaged in soft conversation, and Shizuru hoped whatever Miyu was saying would help lighten Alyssa's depressed mood.

Sitting in the living room, Alyssa stared dejectedly at the glass coffee table with Miyu by her side, and remained silent. Endlessly patient and understanding when it came to Alyssa, Miyu watched her Angel continue to withdraw sadly. Knowing she had to do something to put the girl at ease, Miyu placed a warm hand atop of Alyssa's golden head. "Ojou-sama has not been herself as of late. It worries me, that I am unable to aid, Ojou-sama."

Touching Miyu's hand at top her head, Alyssa slowly turned to face her guardian. "Miyu…" Alyssa spoke softly as she held Miyu's hand gently. No longer looking up into red pools, the ten year old stared at their clasped hands. "I'm sorry. But I just want to see Onee-chan."

Seeing the sapphire eyed girl refuse to meet her gaze, Miyu sighed. She could tell her Ojou-sama was deeply upset, and she knew only Natsuki-sama would be able to make Alyssa happy. However unlike Alyssa, Miyu knew why Natsuki could not see the girl, and it pained her to keep it a secret from her charge. "Ne, Alyssa-Ojou-sama," Miyu spoke softly and gently squeezed the blonde's little hand, "Mai-sama wanted to give this to you." Handing the CD case to Alyssa, Miyu hoped the gift would help cheer the singer up. Miyu loved Alyssa's singing voice, but when the girl was sad, it only made Miyu sad too.

Taking the CD case from Miyu's outstretched hand, Alyssa was tempted to just throw the thing away. After all, she was still upset at Mai Tokiha to accept a gift from the girl. However upon reading the label of the CD, caused the singer think otherwise. "Aries Music Academy: MNM." 'MNM…that was Onee-chan's group when she was still living in Aries with us.' Alyssa thought as her breath hitched and her hands shook. MNM meant Mai, Natsuki, Mayo. It was their group's name, the one they formed back in middle school. Looking up to meet Miyu's warm orbs, Alyssa threw herself into waiting arms. "Miyu!"

Watching from over the bar top of the kitchen, Shizuru's ruby orbs turned away from the private moment. Turing off the tea kettle, and preparing the tea, the hostess carried the tray into the living room with an easy smile. It was good to see that Alyssa was feeling better, or at lease she was on better terms with Miyu. It was odd enough that the two had not spoken much to each other all day, so Shizuru was glad to see the two had managed to make up. "Tea?" Shizuru asked as she gracefully poured the amber liquid into each cup.

Taking a seat in the lone recliner, perpendicular to the loveseat, and to the left of the sofa, Shizuru calmly sipped at the hot beverage. She always needed a nice, hot cup of tea, or three, to end a day. As ruby eyes roamed around the spacious apartment, Shizuru noticed a CD case on the ten year old's lap. She did not recall seeing the girl enter with the item, but perhaps that is the thing that cheered the girl up.

Cradling the warm cup between her hands, Alyssa smiled as she felt the warmth seep into her hands and travel up her arms. It felt nice, and for the first time in days, Alyssa felt lighter. She supposed it was because of the gift Mai had sent, and even though she still did not like Mai at the moment, she was glad to have something that reminded her of Natsuki-Onee-chan.

Ever since she had discovered that her father had gotten rid of everything that her sister had owned, and the pictures of them together, Alyssa has been feeling down. So with Miyu as her legal guardian away from home, and determined to never return to Aries so long as her mother refused to recognize her, Alyssa would live in Windbloom Kingdom. The ten year old was determined to continue to live with the group members of Elysium, and she had even signed the lease to her apartment for the next year too. So it would be just her and Miyu living together, with Shizuru-onee-chan, and Reito-onii-chan, and Chie-san, and Anh-san, and Haruka-san, and Yukino-san as her neighbors. It was good this way. This way, she would always be surrounded by the people that cared for her.

Now all she had to do was perform good at the concert on Saturday, and Reito-onii-chan will take her and Miyu to Aswad Village, and she would finally be able to be reunited with Natsuki-Onee-chan. Being depressed and difficult will not allow her to see Onee-chan sooner, so it was better to be happy for those around her. After all, they cared, and worried about her too. Nodding to herself, as if to engrave the plan into her mind, Alyssa smiled into the warm tea mug.

"Ara~!" Shizuru softly exclaimed happily, "It is so good to see Alyssa-chin's familiar smile again. I was beginning to wonder if Alyssa-chin had lost it somewhere in Aries." Placing the empty tea mug on the coffee table, Shizuru smiled warmly at the blushing ten year old. "Welcome back, Alyssa-chin. Your smile is far cuter than your sulking frown."

Embarrassed by the light teases, Alyssa stared down into the tea mug, and waited for her blush to subside. It felt good to hear how much Shizuru-onee-chan was worried about her, and no doubt the others were as well. However the blonde child couldn't help but wonder if Onee-chan would be worried too, if she saw her in such a depressed state. Smiling softly, Alyssa knew, Natsuki-Onee-chan would be very worried if she knew. Meeting soft ruby eyes, a shade darker than Miyu's, Alyssa smiled softly. "Thank you, Shizuru-onee-chan. I am sorry to have made you worry, and you too, Miyu." Locking her gaze with her charge, Miyu smiled warmly, and nodded in understanding.

Re-filling Miyu's mug, and her own, Shizuru cupped her cheek and smiled. "Ara, if I had known earlier that I only had to offer a cup of tea to Alyssa-chin to cheer her up, I would have done so ages ago." Although she was joking, Shizuru was glad she made the two guests smile. "However I know not everyone is as fanatic, or as enthusiastic, about tea as I am. So perhaps it was not due to the tea, that Alyssa-chin has been feeling better, no?"

Giggling at the brunette's airy behavior, Alyssa gave a big grin, the kind she usually wore around her sister, and spoke just as lightly. "Well in all honesty, Shizuru-onee-chan, tea is not my favorite drink. I actually prefer melon cream soda, but sadly it is only made in Aries. So I guess you are correct, it was not your tea that cheered me up."

Amused by the little girl, and noticing Miyu also had an adoring face as she watch Alyssa, Shizuru couldn't help but laugh lightly. "Ara, ara…what am I to do with you then? Perhaps Miyu will be a better tea companion, no?" Watching the blonde child chuckled and glance up at her pale companion, as if silently asking if she would be Shizuru's tea companion, Shizuru's smile grew. The girl was just too cute! "Well do tell me, what was it that cheered the lady up? If not my special tea?"

Grinning playfully, Alyssa spoke as if the answer was obvious, and rolled large blue eyes playfully. "It was my Onee-chan of course!" Proudly showing off the CD case, Alyssa smirked as she allowed the honey haired woman to take the CD case. "Onee-chan's a talented musician! She often won awards at the Academy for the songs she composed."

"Ara, is that so?" Shizuru said as she read the label of the CD. 'MNM'? "Shall we listen to your Onee-chan then? I would like to hear her play, if I may?" Smiling proudly, Alyssa nodded her head quickly. She too wanted to listen to the CD, and she was even happier to have Shizuru-onee-chan listen with Miyu and herself.

Moving from the recliner to the stereo built into the wall, Shizuru placed the CD in, and pressed 'play.' Soon the melody began to play, and red eyes widen in surprise as she recognized the instrument. "That's an erhu, isn't it?" Seeing the two on the couch nod in confirmation, Shizuru smiled a bit, and reached for the mug of tea. Closing ruby eyes to better listen to the music, the hostess leaned back into the recliner. The song was lovely, and calming, and even a bit romantic. When the first song was finish, another started, and this one was different than the first. Gone was the erhu, replaced by the koto, sangen, jushichi-gen, biwa, and shakuhachi. It sounded amazing, and once again, Shizuru was impressed to hear such ancient, and traditional instruments from Zipang, being played with a modern contemporary upbeat. It made her smile, and wonder, 'just who is Alyssa-chin's sister?'

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AN:

1. To those that may not know what a Erhu is, it is apart of the Huquin family of bowed string instruments used in Chinese music. It consists of a round sound box at the bottom with a stick attached that protrudes upwards. There are two strings, with two horizontal tuning pegs, one for each string. The bow passes in between the two strings to produce the music. That type of instrument is common throughout Eastern Asia and can be found in almost every country. It's a rather neat instrument, and I absolutely love the music it produces.

Sangen = Shamisen

jushichi-gen = 17 string Koto, it has a deeper pitch, the 'bass koto.'

Biwa = lute

Shakuhachi = it's like the recorder. *shrugs* I'm sorry, I'm too lazy to describe all these instruments at the moment. Google is great, go for it. :]

Also if anyone is wondering, please check out Rin'. This is the group that I based Natsuki's 'MNM' group off of. They are also very amazing!

2. For anyone wondering what songs Natsuki played, please check out "Soba ni iru ne" and "Koko ni iru yo" by Thelma Aoyama. They are great songs, and the piano version was a great inspiration to me.

3. .cELLOMa2 is pronounced 'cello mama' and was inspired by the group Apocalyptica. Check them out, they are simply au'some!

4. Okay, thanks in advance for reading and reviewing. Also many thanks goes out to my wonderful Beta, Balticbard! I totally forgot to mention that in the last chapter, but I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out how to fix it after I submitted the chapter. I'm sorry Bara-san! And thank you to all that has faved/alerted this story. I can only hope that I continue to impress you with is nonsensical story. (big grin) See you next update, tell then, take care!

-Jyuami