Disclaimer – I don't own Ayatsuri Sakon.

Stage Fright

As he opened the door to the small café, the camera case moved on his hip. Like Sakon couldn't go anywhere without Ukon, Fujita Zenkichi couldn't go anywhere without his camera, as it was his life, his air, his freedom. In some way, he understood how his friend felt about the puppet, in others he never did. That was more then he could say for most of their Elementary school mates.

A girl with brown hair was waiting for him, and waved him over, to which he went over and sat down with a smile. "Mitsukai Aenka, it is good to see you after all these years. Your family moved away, when we were in second grade."

"My father and mother moved, my grandparents stayed," the girl sighed, sounding board.

"So then, did your mother and father move back here?" the boy suddenly asked.

"I moved in with my grandparents so that I could get into the high school here, you know… the one I hear you're going to be going to next year," the girl suddenly stated. She pulled out a brochure. "I assure you that what I've called you here for is not re-hatching of memories. I have a job, or more of, one of the teachers at school does, but sensei and I have been unable to see you at school Fujita."

"First, it is Zenkichi," the boy stated, shaking his head at the girl. "Second, I do go to the middle school, but I can't get the photography lessons I need there. I have to go to the campus to do so."

"So… why is it that I haven't seen Tachibana at school. I figured as smart as he was, he would be the top student," the girl suddenly asked, glancing away.

"I thought that you didn't want to re-hatch old memories," the boy stated.

"I don't, here is the information and Ms. Deshika's phone number to contact her by," the girl suddenly stated.

"You know… I always wondered, why Sakon always forgave you for turning your back on him in Elementary school like that, but then Sakon is a forgiving guy," the boy slid the information from her.

"We weren't friends anymore," the girl stated, ordering herself a green tea and pastry.

"So then, you mean to say that you were once friends with him," Zenkichi gave her a somewhat shocked look, then, a few things clicked. "That's right. Your grandparents' house is near the Tachibana place. Sorry for forgetting. They're still good friends with Sakon's grandfather."

"You've met the stick in the mud old man?" the girl suddenly asked.

"I wonder though, how could you stop being friends with Sakon? He's a great guy," the boy began to put some film into his camera.

"So, you actually would know why nobody sees Tachibana at school?" Aenka asked suddenly.

"Seems that you do care about him, even if you aren't willing to admit it, however… first tell me why you abandoned him, never stepping up when the other kids teased him,"

"He was stuck in that world of play of his, the dolls," the girl muttered. "I couldn't be associated with that."

"Because of your reputation," the boy stated dryly.

"Because of…" Mitsukai bit her lip. "When we were four years old, Sakon convinced me that Ukon could talk. Then, he couldn't make him talk again."

"Four… that would have been around that time…" Zenkichi thought carefully to himself.

"So are you going to answer my question why no one sees Tachibana at school anymore," the girl suddenly asked.

"Have you asked anyone at school?" Zenkichi suddenly snapped a photo of the girl.

"Apparently it is a closed issue," the girl stated.

"That would be because Sakon dropped out of school Aenka-chan," the boy fiddled with the camera, and took another picture.

"Would you please stop… what do you mean, he dropped out of school. He was the smartest kid in our class," the girl glared at him. "Plus, wouldn't the government be on his case for not going to school… it is the law you know."

"Well…" the boy then shook his head. "First off, the Tachibana family has its own school for puppeteering. Sakon is also taking some university course, as I am too. So, technically he's still in school, though he never shows up in an actual classroom anymore."

"Your avoiding the answer of why, aren't you?" the girl snapped. "Why are you avoiding it?"

"Sakon dropped out of school because he was being bullied and he couldn't take it," the boy frowned, his eyes sad. He pulled his cap around so it would cover his eyes. "I'm the only one from our elementary school days who associates with Sakon, as every one thinks he's nuts, but he really isn't. He's… a child genius actually, something I can relate to with my photography."

"You… a child genius at photography," Aenka folded her arms. "Seriously…"

"While we were in elementary school, Sakon's mother felt that he needed something other then puppets, so she decided on a photography class for kids at the college. I decided to go too, to make sure no one picked on him, so my mom enrolled me, thinking I was actually interested in photography.

"Sakon didn't do well, even with the basics, as he couldn't come out of his shell and he refused to put Ukon down. However, I thrived on it, and one of the teachers talked to Sakon and decided to try him in one of his English classes. So, that's kind of the whole story."

"But you can't be considered a child genius at photography," the girl glared at him.

"Perhaps not child genius, but I am good at it. Sakon, is awesome with puppets," the boy smiled. "And defiantly a prodigy at what he does."

"I am sure klutzy Tachibana would actually be able to perform those smooth motions," the girl narrowed her eyes.

"Well…" that was when Fujita's phone rang. He picked it up and listed carefully, nodding his head a few times. "Thanks for letting me know Kaoruko-san. I'll be over to see him." He then clicked off his phone. "I have to be going."

"When will you stop babysitting him?" the girl suddenly shook her head, completely surprised.

"How did you know it was about Tachibana?" the boy smirked.

"Because the only Kaoruko-san I know is Aunt Kaoruko, and she is Sakon's aunt," the girl shrugged her shoulders. "So, would you be able to photograph for the school play?"

"I'll need to talk to your sensei first. It was nice seeing you again, though you probably don't think the same thing,"

Author's note – This is going to be my hundred and thirteenth published fanfic on the site. Lucky number thirteen! I wrote a fanfic with Aenka before, 'First Words'. It covers the incident when they were four. Sad fanfic really. As for where Zenkichi is going, that is covered in the last chapter of the Black Rose.

For those wanting to write Ayatsuri Sakon fanfics, a good place for reference material is the Ayatsuri Sakon Shrine at the Clock Work Voices site. I make a few changes to the information I found there, I made both Sakon and Zenkichi the same age/grade level, and they aren't quite sixteen yet. As for why I made them the same age, I saw a kid with a baseball cap in the Anime stand up for Sakon when some other kids were playing baseball.