The night had come to an end as Neku's sleep was broken by the sound of his alarm. He sat up in his bed and rubbed his eyes with daybreak greeting him. Once waken enough, he slipped out of bed and snuck by Josh and left his room. A door opened ajar caught his attention. Neku peered through the open door to Josh's room to find no sign of Minoru. Did he get up early...?

The alarm dragged Josh out of his sleep, apparently still drowsy since stress won't let him rest properly. "Morning, Neku..." he yawned as he sat up.

There was no response from Neku, only an empty and messy bed. Josh got up at his own pace and ventured out to the living room, where Neku had crashed. Neku looked up and yawned. "Morning... Minoru's not here."

"Good..." Joshua replied, "I seriously can't stand another minute in his presence. So, who'll have the shower first?" he asked in curiosity as he took a seat next to Neku, "If you go, I'll help myself to breakfast and make lunch for the day."

Neku groaned and got up from the couch. He was a little more relaxed without worrying about Minoru for the time being. "Alright then." he collected his things from his room and took a quick shower when he finally remembered the where-a-bouts of Minoru. His hair was still a little wet as he met up with Josh again in the kitchen, wearing his usual clothes. "I remember now, Minoru's at the class trip. The exchange students don't have a choice..."

By the time Neku was done with the shower, Joshua went silent again as he just finished packing his lunch. Good for them and for us. A day's breather. Mind if we walk to school together? I'm still feeling anxious somewhat.

Neku shrugged. "Sure."
Time was escaping them anyway, leaving them little time to get their things together.


Time went by smoothly. And soon the day came to its conclusion. Soon, Joshua found himself racing Neku home again. It felt so much better without Minoru around.
Since his first victory home in summer, uncommon victories followed, and it looked like he'll earn another today. Of course, just as he made it upstairs, keys ready and passing an opening elevator, right on cue, Joshua crashed into Neku unexpectedly.

Neku almost fell over. "W-watch it!" he said as he turned around to find Joshua. "Oh." Neku smiled smugly. "Bet you again, Josh."

Joshua only grinned in response. Yeah, well guess who's closer to the door? he added in thought with a giggle, before making a ditch effort for it.

Neku's smile disappeared. He made an attempt to block Joshua, but having failed that, chased after him and into the apartment. "Sneaky little...!"

Joshua only chuckled whole heartedly. I'll let you have the remote tonight. The run home is satisfying enough.

Neku was in too much of a good mood to object. On this rare occasion, he would admit defeat. He swung his bag beside the couch and crashed, taking up Josh's offer of the remote.

The quiet teen chuckle again. It's a lot of fun when everyone's a good sport. Even more so when it's just the two of us. Or even three when Sho's around. Don't you agree? Joshua asked, smiling when the TV came on.

Fixated on the TV, Neku agreed. "Can't argue there."

You know, Joshua started, I really cannot remember the last time I felt so... happy. At peace. I think our rivalry stops me from seeing how happy I am being with you guys... whereas the whole world seems to hate me...

Neku smiled. Joshua was right. Life was happier, even with Minoru around to pester them. It was a life he could have never asked for, and he was grateful for it.

Though it still really bugs me... I want to know more about Christmas... Joshua paused again, waiting for the ads before continuing, I'm aware that you and Sho are as well. When Minoru has shown us common sense, let's ask him.

A few minutes more, and the door opened again. Sho had got back from work. "It's like I'm jinxed this week." he grumbled, obviously with more work at hand. Eventually, he perked up, "How was your day, boys?"

Neku sat up, glad to see Sho. "Not bad." He didn't elaborate, but it was a more relaxed day than usual.

Joshua shrugged, Can't really complain.

"I swear, the whole school's against me. Maybe I wasn't paying attention." Sho laughed sheepishly, "So Minoru will come back later?"

Neku shrugged. "I guess so." It never crossed his mind, but it didn't really matter at this point in time.


The boys were in bed, and with the extra work at hand, Sho was staying up late. He didn't want to, but what choice did he have? Some sheets that were marked had to be in by tomorrow, some before the holidays. And there wasn't much time left either way.
Just then, the front door opened again.

Minoru walked in, wearing a red bandana and chewing gum. He closed the door behind him and made an attempt to slip by to bed unnoticed.

"You know," Sho started with a chuckle, loud enough for Minoru to hear, but not enough to disturb the boys in bed, "A 'hello' would be nice. And why the gum?"

Caught, Minoru stopped in his tracks, deciding to stop putting up a courteous act. "Spare me the lecture, Sho, just let me get some sleep."

This was new. I knew Neku and Josh were acting weird... now I see why.
"Excuse me?" Sho replied coldly, turning around in his seat, "I'm just saying 'hi', is all. What's your problem?"

Minoru sighed, tired of this conversation already. "This whole place is my problem." he said, just as coldly.

Sho had already more than enough on his hands. He didn't want to deal with Minoru now.
"Then what are you doing here, in my apartment, if vanity is all you feel, mate?" he asked disdainfully.

"Vanity?" Minoru asked, stunned that Sho would suggest such a thing. "Because I haven't had a freakin' choice." From the look on his face, Minoru's patience was thinning.

Sho huffed. He already had his brain grilled from the elder staff, what more must he deal with?
"Yeah, sure... have a nice day." He retorted sarcastically, "Don't come bugging me about it. It's back to school tomorrow. Bug them, the zeros, the radians, known as the 'Staff'."
Although, he had to wonder why Minoru had gum with him.

Minoru snickered and said no more, instead ignored Sho and wandered to his temporary room. "Asshole..." he mumbled quietly under his breath once in his room, and sure that Sho couldn't hear him. After all, Sho was somewhat intimidating at times.


Something was wrong the moment Joshua's nerves reconnected with the brain and body alike.
His hair felt messy and moist. A small accessory of some sort was stuck in the tangle. At first he took no attention to it.
As he looked in the mirror, a silent scream pierced through anyone that his thoughts could be imprinted on. Gum. And lots of it. And attached to the messy gum and hair was a girl's headband.

Neku shot up at the chilling noise and looked around for the source. He recognised the scream to be Joshua's and investigated further, getting out of his bed and searching frantically. No sooner did he come across Josh in the dilemma he was in. Neku was stunned. ...The hell is going on here?
"Josh...?" he called out in a sympathetic tone.

There's gum in my hair! And a headband?! What kind of sick joke is this?!
That was the frantic reply from the silent teen. Though Joshua looked emotionless, except stunned eyes glaring at his reflection, inside he was distraught.

Neku didn't know how to help Joshua. He'd never come across a situation like this. However the suspected culprit immediately crossed his mind, and the anger was growing. Damn it Minoru... This is taking it too far...

Joshua continued to glare at his reflection, trembling. He was weary of the other teen's presence. Neku... do something! Anything! Even if it's a small idea!

The first thing that came to mind was giving Minoru a piece of Neku's mind, but that wouldn't solve Joshua's predicament. Neku thought hard, panicking a little. "Uh... Try washing it out? Or cutting it out...?"

If... if anyone finds out about this...
Joshua felt great anxiety to face school today. There were some students he couldn't stand up to alone. And then there were even more that were happy to single him out, even while Neku was around.
Washing won't work. There was too much gum to cut out. No, no, no, that won't do at all! But thanks for trying...

Neku offered a sympathetic smile and put some more thought into the matter. I... don't know what else would work... Would Sho...?

Sho... teacher... uniform... THAT'S IT!!
Joshua simply looked miserable as he turned. Neku, I'm going to wear that bunny parker from Lapin Angelic. I can't get into trouble if Sho steps in. I know it's embarrassing, but it's better than this! he said, pointing to the headband.

Sho got up after hearing that soundless scream. Overhearing the commotion, he went over to the teens discussing the issues regarding today.

Neku could only imagine what Joshua would be going through. He crossed his arms, now focusing on his disgust for such a stunt, and his face showed it. Minoru... He's going to get it today...

Sho yawned. "Morning... what seems too..." he paused, setting his tired gaze on Joshua.
"Oh-my giddy-Aunt-Sally... Who did this Josh?"

Too miserable to answer, and too anxious to notice, Joshua kept his thoughts to himself.

Neku cringed as he addressed Sho. "Minoru's done this... I know it..." he said sourly.

"I believe you, Neku." Sho replied, placing a hand on Joshua's shoulder by means of comforting him, "He had giving me a foul-mouthed attitude last night." he frowned at the thought.
"Only a disgusting pig would do this...!"

Neku nodded. "He'd better watch himself today, if he knows what's good for him." he turned back to Joshua, "...But this is just a mess."

"Well in this case, stay together as often as possible." Sho advised, before leaving to get ready for work.

Joshua sniffed silently to himself. Today was going to be fun... for the tormentors.

Neku put his hand on Josh's shoulder. "The sooner it starts, the sooner the day's over, right?"


Class was torturous, and felt so long and lagging. Of course, thanks to Sho, Joshua got away with the 'Out-of-Uniform' policy. He easily ignored the taunts thrown at him, but he never said a word or even let his hoodie be pulled down.
By lunch time, he was shaking in fear as he sat next to Neku, his appetite ruined.

Neku kept a close eye on Joshua while giving passing students who made an attempt to mock him a death glare. He sighed. Today was monotonous, even for him.

Neku? Maybe I should have stayed home... Joshua complained out of misery, I do not like to see what happens when I'm exposed...

Neku kept on guard. Not much I can do about that now... Just don't worry about it so much.

From out of the crowds came a familiar face. Ayaka had approached them to greet them for the day, as she usually did. She was well aware of the attention Joshua was drawing.

Joshua kept his head down. Not in the mood to talk...

Noticing Ayaka, Neku offered a forced smile. "Oh, hey Ayaka."

Ayaka returned with a sympathetic smile. "Hey Josh, Neku." she sat down beside them as usual. "I've heard you've had a hard time with this, Josh..." she changed her tone to a more up-beat and comforting one. "Don't worry about it. It's not really a big deal."

It is a big deal...
Joshua risked it, making sure no passing student was paying attention, he brought down the hood a bit, showing the headband and gum messing his usually silver hair. I'm screwed once someone I dislike finds out...!

One look was all it took for Ayaka to understand the situation. "Hmm..." She thought hard about how to remedy this problem. "Have you tried putting ice on it?"

While the three chatted away, Minoru hid himself a fair distance, while in ear shot. Obviously he was enjoying this.


The last few classes were shared with Sho's math class. This time, Joshua was the one spacing out, receiving a nudge from Neku. Above all, he made sure not to let anyone pull his hoodie down. The mess felt moist and unwelcoming.

Neku kept an eye on Joshua and those around him. Keep it together, don't space out now, Josh...!

Easy said than done...
Finally, the bell to mark the end of the day rang. Joshua was hesitant to get out of his chair, but gave Sho a friendly wave before leaving with Neku.

At least the day was over. But they both knew they weren't out of trouble yet. They had yet to make their way to the lockers, and the walk out of the grounds could be trouble. At the lockers, Neku focused on collecting his things. Let's be quick.

Yeah... lets... Joshua replied calmly, but as he opened his locker door, someone pushed it shut again. What? Why you...
His thoughts stopped when he saw the student responsible. In a second of point blank, said student successfully grabbed the parker's ears and pulled it down.
Anyone nearby knew there was trouble. They stopped to see what the commotion was.
Frozen in fear and humiliation, Joshua closed up his mind immediately.

Neku was caught off guard. Once he realised what had happened, he pushed the culprit out of the way and put Josh's hood back on. He seemed to have been prepared for this. He took his things and put his hand on Josh's shoulder, hurrying him out of the place. "C'mon, let's get out of here..."

Still immobilised with shock, Joshua allowed himself to follow Neku. However, trouble makers had also been prepared, as they blocked the exits. Instinctively, Joshua gripped his hood to stop it from being pulled down again.
The two teens were trapped in a circle of students wanting some afternoon entertainment.

Neku was ready for trouble. As unfortunate as it was, it seemed Neku prepared for this. Without even bothering with formalities or trying to be kind, Neku stood his ground. "Move." he ordered.

The noise intensified, as the same students looking for trouble stepped forward, as if saying they're not going to get out without a fight.

Joshua trembled now, scarred of what will happen next. Neku...?

Neku held his arm out, signalling Joshua to keep back. He glared at the teen. "Maybe you didn't hear me, but I said MOVE!" he snarled, holding himself back from laying a swing at his opponent.

The noise amplified. A fight was bound to break out. Other nasty bystanders began to torment Joshua for what it was he kept hidden for the day.
Down one end of the hall, Sho happened to come across this commotion. He knew this involved his friends. Getting his megaphone, whether it will get him in trouble or not, he tuned it to high volume. He has had it. First the exchange student, then the heaping work he had to do...
And now this garbage.

Taken off guard, Neku jumped back, the noise almost causing him to fall over. He held his, now ringing, ears and looked up to see the circle of students slowly disperse. He eased up a little once they left.

"And where do you think you're going?" Sho continued, singling out the trouble-seeking students, "I want you at my office, pronto! QED!"
Surprised, said students did as they're told.
"Oh, I want to see you and Joshua, Neku."

Neku looked uncertainly at Joshua, as if he felt they may be in trouble, although what choice did they have? The two followed Sho, avoiding eye contact.

Sho told the pair to wait outside while he dealt with the students. Boy was he roaring in his office, before concluding with a call to parents, and issuing suspension for four weeks after the term holidays.

Joshua sat next to Neku, trembling visibly and sobbing soundlessly to himself.

Neku kept his eyes on the floor, finding no words that could comfort Joshua.

After a minute more or so, the office door opened. The students didn't make eye contact with either Neku or Joshua, nor were they snickering. They were silenced.
Sho soon came to the door, leering at those students with absolute disgust. He then eased up and turned to the pair. "Come in," he said calmly.

Without a word, the pair followed Sho into his office and sat down in the chairs provided.

Sho closed the door, before following the pair and sat behind his desk.
"Listen... you're not in trouble. So relax. I... kinda blew my patience back there. Those... bastards had no rights to bully you like that. So... that aside, how is your hair now Josh?"

Neku looked over at Joshua, then up at Sho. "Nothing's changed..."

Joshua uttered a whimper, and then sniffed. What did I do to deserve this...?

Sho frowned a bit. "Neku, I said if there were any tears, you won't get much come New Year's..." he started off firm, but then his aggression slackened on the next sentence, "looks like I'll break that promise. You still assume Minoru had something to do with this?"

Neku snickered. "You think someone's going to break in at night just to pull off a stunt like that?" he argued, "You know none of us would do something like that!"

"Ease down." Sho replied, his tone firm again, "I know it's not your fault, I know no one deserves such a torment like Josh here. And I believe you when you're accusing that disgusting bastard. I just don't see the motive why he'd..."
Sho trailed off. Now that he thought about it, Minoru has had such a negative influence on the teens. But there were some positives in it, too. Since his stay, Neku and Joshua had stopped fighting and worked together to endure the week.
Up until now.
And early in December, the math teacher did suggest they try celebrating Christmas. But Minoru's questioning savageness wasn't an excuse tolerable to bear with. "The sooner he leaves the better."

Neku nodded in agreement. It's only a few more days until he leaves too...
That thought gave him some piece of mind, but he had a feeling these last few days would be the most unbearable. Without any more to say, Neku stood up, followed by Joshua with his possessions in hand. Neku gave Sho a small nod. "We'll see you at home then."

"Take care. Oh, and get started with removing the gum when you two get back, yeah?" Sho advised, heaving a sigh.

"Don't worry, we will..." Neku replied before leading Joshua out of the room. Josh kept his head down on the trip home. Neku decided to take a few shortcuts on the way to get home both quicker and undercover. They only assumed Minoru was held back at school, or was taking his time to get home.


Soon enough they reached the apartment, Neku deciding to lock the door behind them. He sighed. "...Ayaka said something about ice, right?"

Joshua sniffed, Y-yeah... she did. I feel disgusting... he added, removing the bunny parker and tossed that into the laundry room.

Neku shrugged and went to search for some ice in the freezer. "...Might as well give it a shot." With some luck, he took a chunk of ice and made an attempt to get out some of the gum.

Joshua sat still, wondering if it will do the trick. I swear, when I'm in a better mood than this, he'll cop it...!

A stroke of luck. The ice seemed to lift most of the gum out of Josh's hair. Thanks Ayaka!
It took a little while, but Neku managed to finally get it all out. "Finally!"


Few hours later, Sho found himself again at a late hour of the day. The boys were in bed, with Joshua gum-free and Neku somewhat exhausted from today. The teacher hadn't had much left to correct so he was relaxing again. However, his tension strung high as he heard the front door open.
Up until now, Sho had forgotten about Minoru, as his inner rage flared again.

Minoru tried to sneak by unnoticed, being more considerate about the noise he made. He seemed less enthusiastic in general tonight.

"You..." Sho said darkly to the teen sneaking in, "We need to talk. Now. What you did... was unforgivable."
In his apartment, nobody goes by unnoticed.

Minoru stood caught in his tracks. To Sho's surprise, Minoru didn't bother being spiteful and spoke in a tone of regret. "Yeah, I know..."

Sho kept a calm tone throughout his lecture and questioning as he left his seat in the study to sit in the lounge with Minoru. "What gives you rights to bully them like that? I understand you are far from home, and the staff told me about your heart condition. And I know that we, as a family, say very little. But it's with good reason. It's too much to explain for Neku, and I could not remember much. But... what provoked you to pull such a nasty prank?"

Minoru avoided eye contact and shrugged. "Does it matter now? I already regret it and I'm well aware that now Neku hates my guts and I've scared Josh."

Sho sighed, trying to relax. "Tell you what? We're curious about Christmas, but we don't know how to celebrate it... we have a half day tomorrow for the last day of Term 2. You can say you're sorry too, yeah?"

Minoru crossed his arms, thinking the deal over. Usually he would reject, but out of a change of heart, he felt an apology was in order. The least he could do was to show them a thing or two about Christmas too. That's all in the season. He nodded. "Alright."
Nothing more was needed. Minoru took his leave to his room, thinking over how to spend his last few days in Shibuya.


Last night Joshua didn't sleep well, but he was out well before Minoru came home. The nightmares that came along robbed him of a good rest. All of it was surreal.
He got up stubbornly, not wishing to endure the last day of the school term. He was also careful not to disturb Neku too much.

Neku woke at his own pace. He got up and took his time getting out of his room to the kitchen where he met with Joshua. He yawned and stretched out. "Morning Josh..." he said sleepily, receiving a worried "Morning..." out of Joshua. Neku smiled. "I thought this day would never come!"

"Yeah... but tomorrow will be better for us when the bully leaves." Joshua added, trying to blink the tired strain from his eyes. Even while his hair was clean now, he could not shake the thought of disgusting moisture.

Neku nodded. "That's for sure..." He rummaged around the fridge for some breakfast to eat while he got ready for his final day of term. Even with Minoru still here, he was relieved that it was his last day, because it's the last day he will have the stress of school and Minoru to worry about. Sooner it starts, the sooner it ends. Because of this, Neku got his things ready earlier than Josh did. He still waited to walk with Josh to school.

Joshua wasn't far behind, but grateful that Neku would walk to school with him. The walk there started out silent, but the two were eventually laughing over something hilarious as they arrived.

The day was off to a good start. Josh wasn't bothered as often as he thought he would be today. The whole school was up-beat with the holidays in sight. However something bugged Neku. He hadn't seen Minoru in the morning or at during his time at school. Was he avoiding them? Or planning something else? It was cause for suspicion.

Minoru was avoiding them. Come midday, the bell rang to inform that the holidays were on at last. He knew meeting them back in Pork City was inevitable.
Nonetheless, he was prepared to meet them home.

School concluded as quick as it begun. Neku said his goodbyes to the schoolmates who cared, as did Josh with a wave. Anxious to get home to Minoru, Josh and Neku took their time walking home, but this was only delaying the confrontation.

Of course Minoru didn't have a spare key, so he waited outside anxiously. He tried to keep as calm as ever, so that it won't add stress to his heart.

As the elevator door opened, Neku and Josh caught a glimpse of Minoru standing there. They stood frozen, just staring at each other before they were interrupted by the elevator door closing. With quick reflexes, Neku reopened the door. He marched over to Minoru, a menacing look in his face. "You..."

Minoru kept quiet, leering at Neku as a sign to back off. Nor was he in the mood to fight.

Before anything of the sort happened, Joshua quickly reached out to grab Neku's arm. I don't think he's looking for violence...

Neku held back, but gave Minoru a death stare, "Why'd you do it, Minoru?"

"Because I'm miles from home, ok?" Minoru snapped back, "It's in my nature to be a bully, but for defensive reasons. So can I say 'I'm sorry' now and work on the trash later?"

Neku growled a little, making it harder for Josh to hold him back. "You're full of it!"

"I know saying sorry isn't enough. What do you want? 'Gominasai'? I regret what I did." Minoru replied curtly, his patience waning fast. "Besides, Sho told me to apologize."

Neku broke free from Josh, but stood his ground. "You're pathetic..."

"You have no idea..." Minoru muttered back, slightly upset. Without another word, he quickly bolted past Neku and Joshua and slipped into the elevator.

Joshua frowned. I know you mean well when making a stand. But that was uncalled for. His music... it's changed greatly since the last time I heard it.

Neku snickered. Josh may be right. Minoru seemed different. However, the least he expected was a half-sincere apology. Neku sighed a little.


Dinner. It was quiet for the small family. Obviously, Sho wasn't the least pleased to see Minoru absent. And Joshua kept quiet while eating.

Neku was silent too. He didn't really feel he could stomach anything at the moment either. He regrets confronting Minoru as he did earlier. Now with Minoru's absence, Neku couldn't help but to worry.

Just when the ambience filled the silent again, the front door, left unlocked, opened. Minoru was silent too, but felt slightly safer around Sho. Neku could do nothing violent then.
He closed the door behind him, and went over to the group.

Neku looked up. "Minoru?" he said, somewhat shocked, but then relieved. There was no immediate answer from Minoru, only that painful silence.

Minoru's gut sank. Too upset for words, he took his seat and began eating his meal.

Joshua sensed this. Neku, his music has changed again. That's not all; I could not detect it earlier, but... his heart...

Neku didn't say anything, but he kept his head down. Oh...

Sho knew there were loose strings that need tying. "So... Minoru? Do you have anything to say to both Neku and Joshua?"

Minoru perked up, the slight glare on his glasses masking his eyes from various emotions. "I... I'm sorry, for such a prank... and making it hard to put up with me... though I doubt you'll accept it."

Neku looked up again, giving a kind of sympathetic smile. He could detect the sincerity in Minoru's tone. "Hey... It's in the past now, right?"

This was a surprise. Minoru was thrilled that this teen could easily forgive the past, however soon it happened to go by. "Thanks... so I hear you want to know more about Christmas? Sho asked me last night."

Neku had almost forgotten about asking that. But he went along with it. "Ah, yeah, we would..."

"Very well..." Minoru started, shifting his glasses somewhat.


Some time had passed. The group were sitting casually in the lounge room. The TV was on, but nobody was paying much attention to it. It was background noise to them.

Minoru smiled as he finished, "...And that's why we celebrate Christmas." he concluded proudly, "I live in Australia, and they celebrate it otherwise."

Joshua smiled, who sat next to Sho, feeling happy at most.

Neku nodded to himself. "Makes sense..." he looked up to Minoru with a bit of a smile, "Thanks."

"Anytime." Minoru said briefly, "But I have to leave tomorrow..." he added sadly, now truly regretting his attitude.

"The whole week hasn't been garbage," Sho started after realizing he had been sitting in silence for so long, "Did I ever tell you that my godfather was also named Minoru?"

Neku perked up at the name. He remembered Sho mentioning his godfather in their time in the UG. Neku crossed his arms, preferring to stay silent and hear out the rest of Sho's inquiry.

"Really?" Minoru chuckled, "You don't have to tell me. Minoru does mean either the 'fruit, seed', or 'truth'. He must have done a fine job raising you, even if you are a bit childish."

Sho was taken aback at first, before breaking into a chuckle. "So zetta glad you haven't pointed that out in public."

Neku decided to change the subject. "So... How'd you find Shibuya, after all this?"

"If I wanted to throw in my opinion..." Minoru started while in thought, "Shibuya in general is much livelier than anywhere else. Of course, there are other places in Japan with great music, but I must say here takes the cake."

Neku smiled. "True... Shibuya is unique." It was then when he realised the time. As nice as it was being at peace with the once hostile exchange student, it was time to call it a night. He yawned a little. "...I think we should call it a night soon..."

Joshua agreed, yawning soundlessly. What a week...

Joshua's endless silence still intrigued Minoru somewhat. "Say, why is it that Josh never speaks, yet you can always tell what he's thinking?"

Neku got up from the sofa and stretched a little. "You don't have to be a mind reader to understand Josh. We've known each other for a while now and all..."

"Oh. It's a family secret you won't relinquish easily?" Minoru started off irked, but after some thought, he nodded, "I understand. There are some things I like keeping to myself. So, see you in the morning?"

Neku scratched his arm. "No secret to it..." he shrugged, "Yeah, night... Minoru, Sho."
With that, they retreated back to Neku's room to catch up on their sleep for the morning to come, buying last minute Christmas things.


Neku's rest came to an abrupt end. He had been disturbed by someone shaking his arm a little and Joshua's voice being imprinted in his mind. Wake up, Neku, you can't sleep in today.
Neku groaned and rolled over in his bed; however Josh's persistence finally made the teen climb out of bed. Still half asleep and his hair a mess, Neku yawned. "I'm awake..."

Even Sho had set Josh's alarm to wake Minoru. He sat up and searched for his glasses before climbing out. It's the 22nd...

Sleep in can wait for another day. Sho sat up also, and without thinking twice climbed out of bed. He was greeted by the three at breakfast.
"Morning... class. Today we'll learn about..." the teacher yawned, thinking it was still a day at work.

The three gave Sho a weird look, but dismissed it quickly. The atmosphere around the room was much more relaxed in contrast with the past week of Minoru's stay.

The moment Sho began eating his breakfast, the sooner he woke up thoroughly. The three had a laugh.
Minoru had to pack up, that way when they're done he could be dropped off at the Hachiko Statue to meet up with his class for the trip home. Until now did he realise he'll miss hanging around here.

Neku, Joshua and Sho accompanied Minoru to the farewell. Neku crossed his arms. As much as he still didn't like Minoru, he would miss him. Given a little more time, maybe they would have become good friends. Who knows?

Prior to arriving at the Stationside, the group stopped at 104. Minoru was enthusiastic about picking out what's used, what they mean and whatnot. Though he kept close to the group.

So many trinkets. Were they really necessary for celebrating Christmas? Neku had his doubts, but he went along with it happily. With time catching up with them, they made their way to the rendezvous point at the Statue of Hachiko. It was a strange moment. For Joshua and Neku, they felt this time would never come, but now that it has arrived it all felt so sudden.

All so soon. Like a year in grade 12, it came and gone without notice. Now standing by the statue with the group, Minoru actually felt reluctant to depart. Neku's family was like no other, unique even.
And then he came up with an idea. He recalled seeing a computer with wireless internet, and so he wondered if it was possible to exchange emails as a parting memento.

The group waited in front of the statue. Other exchange students and their host families stood around, talking about the times they've had, unlike Minoru and his host family, who stood there somewhat silently. That is, until Minoru finally broke the silence. "So... Got an email or anything?" he asked softly, directing the question more to Neku then anyone else.

Neku gave a small smile. He could tolerate Minoru online. "Sure."
Minoru returned the smile and took out a pen and paper from his shoulder bag and handed it to Neku, who scribbled his email address down and handed it back.


Christmas Day...
Who would have thought that such a thrill existed?
The alarms went off, and all three bolted out of bed to see what was there under their new Christmas tree.
There were a few small, but neatly-boxed presents under the tree, one for each of them. Neku kneeled down to check. He picked up the curious present labelled with his name.
Neku carefully unwrapped his gift, revealing a finely crafted wooden version of the Acinonyx Cantus. But... I thought he wouldn't remember this Noise...!
He smiled softly. It was more then he could have expected as a gift, and he was grateful.

Sho slowly unwrapped his, revealing the wooden sculpture of the Leo Cantus. If memory served correct, that was the form his past self took as a Noise. He smiled when a warm feeling entered his thoughts.

Joshua looked confused at the other two. He picked up his present that had his name. This is sure unusual...
He unwrapped his, it was another wooden sculpture, the Anguis Cantus. Puzzled, but pleased, Joshua smiled as well and held onto it.

Neku admired the detail and strangely accurate symmetry of each statue. Though something was off. He checked the wrapping paper which it was wrapped in for who it was from, but to no success. "...There's no name..."

Sho smiled again. "Oh well. Merry Christmas, guys." he chirped.
The day was spent walking around and greeting other locals of Shibuya, they had an unusual lunch at home which they enjoyed.

Though when the remote wasn't desired, Neku and Joshua went onto the computer. However, the first message they received was a request if their email can be registered.
Once the two happily obliged to the request, they soon received another message;

Merry Christmas, and thanks for dealing with me.
So... can we really be friends?


Neku looked over at Joshua with a smirk. "Gonna have to think about that one." he joked. He directed his attention back at the screen, replying to Minoru's email with a short. "Sure."

It was quickly sent. Neku sat back in the computer chair, taking a moment to reflect on things. What a week, what a week... However in the end, they had everything to gain, as a family, and as friends. The hardships endured were only small, tedious matters. A small obstacle which they had overcome. With their newfound friend, newfound strength and the curious anonymous gifts, Sho, Joshua and Neku continue their life, taking all the confronting challenges head-on.



Merry Christmas from Australia! 8D