8 Simple Rules for Dating My Little Sparrow

Tsumugu had always known this day would come.

Honestly, it'd been his hope that it could be delayed until after he was dead and buried, or at least until Amu had finished high school. A part of him had been holding onto the futilely optimistic idea that maybe his daughter would become a nun and take a solemn vow of celibacy. Unfortunately, whenever he suggested this to the girl she just gave him a look somewhere between incredulous and annoyed with just a dash of that 'Cool 'N Spicy' attitude that always made him squeal with joy and totally derailed his train of thought.

Maybe that made all of this his fault, then. He should've made the life of a nun sound more attractive to his daughter, or at least convince his wife to help get their daughter to come around instead of just smiling indulgently every time the subject was brought up. He'd begun to worry lately, after more boys were seen giving his oldest daughter -that- look, eyeing her like some kind of treat or a prize that they desperately wanted to win. The worst of it were the ones who would blatantly flirt with her right in front of him! That would've been enough to make the generally easygoing man consider swift and just retribution in the form of a stealthy murder, had his daughter not become an expert in shooting such boys down in five words or less (Though that in itself concerned him. How many boys had been asking her out if she'd learned to get that good at rejections…?).

His relief that Amu had turned down the cocky little brats kept him from seeing the amused looks Midori and Ami would share after such exchanges, so he never realized that the two of them knew something that he didn't about the sixteen year old girl. As far as he was concerned, life was perfect so long as Amu kept turning those evil boys away and stayed his little girl forever and ever, and since Amu didn't seem to show any interest in dating, Tsumugu figured that he'd be safe for a good, long while.

That's why the warning bells didn't go off as they should have when his daughter caught him and his wife in the kitchen one morning at breakfast and asked if it was alright for her to invite someone to dinner that Friday night.

"Oh?" Midori said, shooting her daughter a sly grin. "Does this mean that you finally stopped being stubborn and denying it?" Tsumugu blinked in confusion at that vague comment, especially after Amu blushed vividly at her mother's words.

"Mama!" She huffed in embarrassment, making Midori giggle like a teenager.

"I'm joking, Amu-chan. Of course you can invite someone to dinner this Friday. Any meal with fish would be fine, right?" Amu's blush melted away as she gave Midori a relieved look and nodded at her question.

"That or chocolate." She added as an afterthought as she stood up and grabbed her schoolbag. "I'd better head off now before I'm late. Ja ne." And with that, Amu was off, leaving behind a grinning Midori and Tsumugu, who couldn't shake the feeling that he'd missed something.

Against his better judgment, Tsumugu ignored the oddness of that morning and went about his daily life, forgetting about it almost completely until Friday rolled around and he found his wife had gone half mad in the kitchen trying to make the perfect meal. This was unusual, since it wasn't the first time Amu had had friend's over for dinner and Midori never made this much of an effort to impress Rima-chan, Yaya-chan, or the rest of Amu's small, but close group of school friends whenever they came. Still, Tsumugu suspected nothing as he sat in the living room watching TV with Ami, who was so absorbed with the televised broadcast of Hoshina Utau's concert that the house could've burned down around her and she wouldn't have noticed a thing.

The photographer relaxed like that until the doorbell rang out curtly, signaling the beginning of the end of his fatherly peace of mind as Amu, in a VERY un-Cool 'n Spicy fashion, bounded down the stairs as if she'd been waiting all night to hear that sound, a large, glittering smile on her face unlike anything Tsumugu had ever seen before as she flung the door open.

"Ikuto!" She cried out as she gave the person on the other side of the door a hug. Hugging. His Cool 'n Spicy Amu-chan. Suddenly, a feeling of dread pooled in Tsumugu's stomach as a very masculine chuckle responded to his daughter's words.

"Miss me, Amu?" it teased in a deep, seductive tone that made Tsumugu's blood run cold. His daughter huffed, a light blush spreading across her cheeks.

"Baka, of course not. Now hurry up and get in here before Mama's food gets cold." She scolded playfully, entwining her fingers into a hand that was much larger then her own as she pulled the tall stranger into Tsumugu's house. The middle aged man nearly fainted in horror at the first good look he got of this disruption his daughter spoke to so familiarly.

'Old' was the first word to cross Tsumugu's mind as he gave this Ikuto a horrified once over. Usually, it would be odd for him to think of some twenty-something college student as 'old,' but Tsumugu justified his thoughts with the fact that 'twenty-something' was too old to be looking at his sixteen year old daughter like that. He was handsome, in a roguish kind of way, with dark blue hair and eyes that served as a contrast to his pale skin.

His clothes were dark and had the same punk taste that was his elder daughter's style of choice; Worn, frayed black jeans that had faded to a dark gray in some places over stylish dark brown boots, with an array of belts and buckles dangling loosely around his waist. He also wore a black short sleeved zip-up hoodie, left open over a dark blue shirt that had some kind of English words graffiti-ed across the front in a bold red font. Tsumugu was never any good at understanding the foreign language, and had no idea what Approach with Caution; Subject has been known to Bite was supposed to mean. Or why his daughter turned so red when she finally noticed the shirt before promptly glaring at the man, who grinned mischievously in response.

He grin persisted as the pink haired girl in front of him lectured him about something while leading him into the house, making the man who watched the whole exchange like a hawk feel more and more uneasy by the second. Tsumugu didn't like the way this stranger looked so comfortable in his daughter's presence, or in his house, and his warning bells finally shrilled violently to life when this Ikuto person reached up and brushed Amu's hair back behind his ear before leaning in close to whisper something to the girl that Tsumugu couldn't catch, but made Amu turn a shade of crimson that would've made a cardinal look pink.

This was bad. This was very, very bad!

"Amu-chan!" Tsumugu cried out, leeching onto his daughter's arm and missing the guilty flinch that chased across her expression for a moment. "Who is this… this man! Why is he in our house?! W-what's going on here?!"

"Calm down, Papa." Amu said in a slightly scolding tone, shifting nervously from one foot to the other. "I already told you and Mama that I was having someone over for dinner, remember?"

"I thought you meant one of your little high school friends!" Tsumugu wailed in accusation. "One of your female high school friends! Who is this man?!"

'Thwap!'

"Ikuto-kun!" Midori sang out jovially, sweeping past her now shell-shocked husband as he peeled himself off of the wall that the love of his life had 'accidentally' pushed him into in her rush to greet this serious threat to Tsumugu's so far tranquil parental life. "How wonderful to see you again! It really has been too long… Is everything alright at that new job of yours?"

"It's nice to see you too, Hinamori-san." The blue haired man said, amusement tinting his tone. "And I'm sorry I haven't been able to come around that often. Work has been a little hectic right now, but I'm making really good money, and the manager just offered me a pay raise too."

"Wonderful! You'll have to tell us more about it over dinner, right Amu-chan?" Midori said sweetly, startling Amu when she suddenly found herself the center of attention. Her eyes flickered over to her father for a moment, cringing when she noticed that he seemed to have turned into a soulless husk over the fact that his wife had known about Ikuto when he hadn't.

"R-Right…" Amu responded with a weak smile, which made her look guiltier then ever. The look became more pronounced as a happy shriek cut through the air as Tsumugu's youngest daughter raced over to the blue haired man to greet him with a hug (Apparently, the broadcast of Utau's concert had gone to commercials and she finally noticed all the commotion with her family).

"Ikuto-nii!" Ami cried, grinning widely up at Ikuto as she released him to take a step back. "I didn't know you were coming tonight! Did you bring me anything?"

"Ami!" Amu scolded, embarrassed at her sister's audacity. Ikuto didn't seem to mind though, if his deep chuckle was any indication. Reaching into the pocket of his hoodie, the dark haired man pulled out a CD inside of a thin blue plastic case and tossed it to the eleven year old girl, who examined it with open curiosity after catching it.

"Utau wanted me to pass that off to you." Ikuto explained casually. "It's the raw material for her next CD, she wanted to know what you think of it." As one, the Hinamori family and Ikuto flinched as Ami squealed shrilly before racing up the stairs to hunt down her CD player so she could listen to her beloved idol, leaving so quickly that the pictures hanging on the wall were almost pulled off by the force of her wake.

"Well, I think it's safe to say we've lost Ami for the rest of the night." Amu said dryly, giving the amused Ikuto a dry glare for his troubles as her mother giggled softly. Tsumugu looked from Ami's bedroom door to his wife, then to the man before turning his attention back to his oldest daughter.

"What's going on here?!" The photographer wailed in confusion. "Who is this man?! And why am I the only one here who doesn't know him?!" Silence followed Tsumugu's inquiry. Guilty silence. Amu and Midori exchanged glanced as Ikuto watched on with an unreadable expression, apparently deciding to let the women handle the situation.

"Papa." Amu started off at last, smiling sheepishly at her father. "This is Tsukiyomi Ikuto. He's… W-well, he and I have been friends for a long time now, and we decided… well…"

"I asked her to go steady with me." Ikuto explained smoothly, apparently sensing that Amu was struggling with her explanation. Tsumugu stared as his brain slowly processed the stranger's words.

"Steady?" He repeated shakily, his face taking on an ashen tone. "As in… D-dating?!"

"That's right." Amu said, blushing vividly and ducking her head to avoid her father's eyes. "And… I said yes." Tsumugu froze.

Amu was dating.

HIS 'Cool 'n Spicy' Amu-chan was dating.

And not just dating, but dating a man who was at least five years older then her!

Tsumugu had always known this day would come… BUT NOT LIKE THIS!!!

Overwhelmed, the middle aged man fainted dead away in the front entrance of his home, leaving his daughter, wife and this new intrusion upon his life to stare at his fallen body in shock.

"Well!" Midori said cheerfully to the younger two. "That went better then expected, don't you think?"