Author's notes:

Hey, whatup guys! Well here it is – the 'something special' that I've been promising since my last profile update: the first chapter of my team's latest endeavor, and the first piece to come out of our most recent project: the DearS Project.

As usual, keep in-mind that everything I post is subject to editing and general change in some form or another – this particularly is a work-in-progress piece, and is very much the first hash of this to be written/released. Reviews would be hugely appreciated, feedback even more so; some of this might be rewritten in the days and weeks to come, so if you feel that you like something about it in particular, speak up or next time you look, I might've written it out.

Now that my rambling is out of the way, on to the main event!

EDIT - NEW READERS, NOTE:
Please be advised that Chapter 5 of this story has a rating of *M*, for the presense of distinctly adult goings-on. Reader discresion is advised.

DISCLAIMER:
The characters and all related material herein are the property of their creators and/or copyright holders, who may be too numerous to name here. Team Hydro and all affiliated parties do not claim ownership of said characters and/or material. Team Hydro does not seek to infringe upon any trademarks, copyright, or any other existing legal document that may be connected to any of the above.


DearScon! Chapter 1

Natsuki gazed around the entrance hall of the convention center nervously. The bustle of convention crowds and the sea-air smell of Tokyo Bay assailed her ears and nose from the wide-open doorways. She'd never been to one of these big get-togethers before, and the hotel-slash-convention-center was humongous, right on the waterfront as it was. And not to mention, the place was bursting at the seams with people and DearS. She'd heard that this year's DearScon was going to be big, huge even, but this… she hadn't expected this.

Oihiko had splurged a torrent of information at them on the train here, and in truth she'd only taken in a few choice pieces of the mountain of facts and figures that their resident DearS fanatic had obviously memorised – like the fact that, all-in-all, over forty thousand tickets had been sold for the event. Forty thousand people, in one building!

What truly amazed her though, was that most of those ticketholders were DearS, and the rest were composed of the massive following that the world's growing population of alien refugees had garnered since their arrival, which grew again after Ren, Miu, Nia and so many others departed for the stars with Io. Her brother, wishing to remain with Ren, had gone with them.

The sudden roar of a passing crowd shook her from her musings, and gave her the momentary impression that a fair chunk of those forty thousand people were in the room with her, before they flocked quickly to the stairs and moved en-mass into the convention hall itself. Natsuki looked around again for a familiar face. Where's Khi, dammit?! He's supposed to be— She halted that train-of-thought as a green-haired, well-dressed figure moved toward her, waving something at her above the crowd.

"Natsuki-san! I have the keys to our room!"

Khi jogged up to her, and began apologising like his tardiness in retrieving their room key was going to ruin their trip. It certainly wouldn't spoil it – somehow he'd managed to get them into a suite instead of a normal hotel room like everybody else had. God knew she'd gotten a few strong doses of the evil eye from her school friends when they'd heard.

"The main desk is overwhelmed this year…" she heard Khi say, and refocused her full attention on him. "For a moment I was beginning to think they'd lost our reservation," he breathed, before he rather-unsubtly noticed they were a man down. "Where is Oikawa-san?" he looked about for their snap-happy tag-along, but came up empty. "I'm sure he was here when I left…"

"He's probably off taking pictures like the pervert he is," she answered, her voice dripping with scorn. "Last I saw him he was ogling a bunch of DearS on the stairs with his camera in his hand and stars in his eyes, so he probably ran off to chase space-skirt. Don't worry; he'll come back when his camera runs out of memory or something…"

Secretly she hoped, however, that that would be the last of Hikoro Oikawa that she would see for the day; the guy gave her the creeps, and she made a mental note to ask Khi why he'd let the loser tag along at the last minute; no doubt the sympathetic DearS couldn't find it in himself to say 'no' – one of these days she'd have to remind her soft-hearted best friend that it was okay to send Koharu's number-one DearS stalker packing every once in a while.

But, in his defence, her mother had only green-lighted her place on this whole excursion after Khi had mentioned that Oihiko would be coming along with them; after that, Harumi's scepticism had quickly dissipated, and she'd consented to the weekend away. Natsuki found it unnerving how her mother and, even more worryingly, her father seemed to have a soft spot for Takaya-onii-chan's weird school friend; maybe it was something to do with the boy's obsession with the Earth's growing population of Dear Friends from Outer Space…

Natsuki once again snapped out of her reverie when Khi touched her elbow, and they began making for the elevators. Oihiko had taken his stuff with him; the boy had brought a camera bag and a backpack with him for the trip, but that was it. "Perhaps we should leave a message for Oikawa-san at the information desk," Khi said, "We should let him know that we have our room keys."

"He can get his own room key," Natsuki muttered, "We didn't bring him along just to babysit the jerk for the next two days… if he's man enough to take off on his own, then he's man enough to take care of himself…"

-x-x-x-

The room was a lot bigger than she'd expected it to be, and at first glance the layout confused her. Everything was more-or-less in one room, except for the bathroom and one bedroom— Waitwaitwait… back up a sec. Bedroom. Singular, as in, only one. "Um, Khi…" she muttered, just loud enough that he'd hear her from the hallway, where he was wresting their cases from the bowels of the elevator.

"There's only one bedroom…" she called, "And there's only one bed in it. What's up with that?"

It took a moment for her to register that the bed was a double, during which she contemplated panicking a little bit. God only knew what her mother would say, if she found out they'd both slept in the same bed. There'd be hell to pay. But then again… She smirked and shooed the thought away. That, she mused with a grin, would really raise hell.

"Ah, the clerk at the desk told me about this," Khi said, suddenly stood next to her; she nearly jumped out of her skin when he spoke, but if he'd noticed her jump, he didn't show it – that was unusual for him, she thought, to be unobservant. She'd thought he was still in the hallway, but he'd come in and was looking over the room with what appeared to be an approving eye.

"Don't do that! Idiot!" she wailed at him in mock distress; the moment had passed, but she still wanted him to know it had upset her, if only for a second – that way, he'd know better. "My apologies, Natsuki-san," he apologised quickly, knowing how unwieldy she could get, before continuing; "The room was rearranged last week," he said, "The management meant to have it cleaned and rearranged in time for the convention, but there wasn't time to put everything back in place in the bedroom; there is usually a set of single beds in this suite. They extended their apologies, and they offered us another room, but I'm happy to sleep in the living room. There are futons in the closet, I believe, and a pullout couch-"

"Great!" she beamed, cutting him off, "I'll take that, and you can get set up in the bedroom, then we can head down to the convention. It won't be long before the opening ceremony, and we can't miss that!"

Khi said nothing for a moment after that; he seemed utterly stunned by the idea of her wanting to sleep on the couch when there was a perfectly-good bed in the next room. He began to insist that she take the bedroom; she'd expected that, and held up a hand with a low hum that told him she was unbending in her decision. "I'm used to sleeping in the living room at my brother's place, Khi… Bedroom's yours, now get."

Khi stifled his protests at her snappy remark, and began moving his things into the bedroom. He didn't like it, she knew that, but she also knew that if she took the bed then— Nooo, not gonna go there, she thought, and brought that particular train of thought crashing to a halt. She really had to stop thinking that way! He was her best friend, for cryin' out loud!

And there was the whole alien-from-outer-space thing… I could get past that… I could… Onii-chan got past it… she thought, unfolding the couch to see how it worked, before getting her things in order and stowing her suitcase in the closet. But I'm not going to get past it, because I'm not even going there...

-x-x-x-

Khi unpacked his things as orderly as he could despite the obvious confusion that was pouring off Natsuki in the next room. Something was bothering her deeply, and oddly, it felt like she wanted to be confused by it. He chuckled to himself, marvelling at the resolve she could muster, just to be stubborn and refuse to comprehend something.

He knew better than to ask what was bothering her, of course; he'd be rather sharply told to mind his own business. Natsuki got that way, snappy, and resolutely introverted, when wrestling with some internal anxiety. Much of her family were that way, he had discovered – not so much her father, but her mother, and particularly her brother.

Khi stopped what he was doing for a moment, and mentally trod on the urge to try his luck, uncover Natsuki's troubles regardless of the inevitable rebuke – trod on it firmly. Rubi-sama had impressed on him many times her opinion that it was not proper for a slave to openly show concern; she believed that unbridled sentiment was not appreciated, and that, in this respect, a DearS should be seen but not heard. Feel, but never speak; those were the words she often used to convey and imprint that message.

She made a point to drive that concern out of her charges with her various training programs, and had been very thorough in her attempt at beating it out of him, out of his very nature in her training sessions, at least until Fina-sama had awakened, and seen fit to stop her. Rubi-sama was very proud of her skills as an instructor, and her methods were… vigorous… to say the least. Thoughts of her were often accompanied by the sensations every DearS associated with her – the crack of her ever-present whip, and the singeing pain that followed, wherever it struck them.

But still, Natsuki's worry troubled him, and although he did his best to feign ignorance on her behalf, he couldn't help but notice it all the same. After all, he had promised Ikuhara Takaya-sama that he would watch over Natsuki in his absence, before he had departed for outer space with Miu and Io-sama and the others, and Takaya-sama would tell him not to stand idle about this. But until Natsuki deigned to tell him what it was that troubled her, and he was sure that she eventually would, he would simply wait.

In the meantime, they had a convention to attend, and he was greatly looking forward to it. There were already many DearS here from overseas, and he had no doubt that much of their number were from the new colonies that had had been formed in other countries since Io-sama's departure for pastures new.

It was so exciting! The number of DearS had risen so drastically, and in so short a time that it was truly shocking. Fina-sama had been wise to arrange for small groups of DearS to be dispatched to the other major countries of the Earth, once the full effects of Ren-sama's awakening had been confirmed, and six new colonies like the one here in Japan had quickly sprouted, and grown too.

I can't remember, he mused, the last time so many DearS children were born… China and Io-sama were among the last before Fina-sama had us flee into space to escape the war. And now… now we can rebuild.

At that moment, Natsuki poked her head in to the room, and jolted him out of his contemplations; "Hey, daydreamer! Are you ready or what?"

"Ah… Of course!" he replied, smiling, "Shall we go, then?"

"Let's roll! DearScon here we come!" Natsuki grinned, and fled for the door.

Staring at the empty space she had just vacated with a grin of his own, Khi slid his empty suitcase under the bed, and took a moment to shed his formal, human clothing and tweaked the triangle of his collar to envelope himself in his normal attire, before moving to follow.

-x-x-x-

Racing out of the room and down the hall, Natsuki skidded abruptly to a halt in front of the elevator. She felt her excitement rising, and she was blatantly letting her impatience get the better of her. She jabbed the call button a few times, and looked up at the little display to see where the car was – three floors below them.

Their room was on the fifth floor… Natsuki's grin got just a little wider as an idea came to her. She turned to look back at the room, and yes, here came Khi, trundling along at his usual pace, and wearing his alien suit now, she noted wryly; she loved that thing, though she'd never tell him that – she could barely admit it to herself.

From the corner of her eye, she saw the number on the little display beginning to ascend, and right on cue, the doors peeled open but a moment after he arrived next to her, smiling away. He stepped in to the elevator – and looked confused when she did not. "Uhm… Natsuki-san—"

"Race ya to the bottom!" she yelled, and tore off in the direction of the stairwell, cackling like a lunatic. And before Khi could answer, or even comprehend, the elevator doors closed and the car began its descent.

As she burst through the stairwell door and narrowly avoided colliding with a bell boy on his way up, Natsuki thought about how she and Takaya-Onii-chan used to this all the time at the mall, and she always won – always. Tripping down the steps in twos and threes, she whooped at the top of her lungs in pure exhilaration. This weekend is gonna be so cool, she thought, DearScon is gonna rock!


Afterword:

Well, that's it for the first chapter. Be sure to let me know what you think. It's going to take a while for us to chalk up another chapter, maybe a week or two, but keep checking back just in case. Until next time, peace out!