A/N: you will have to bear with me for updates of this, as I'm already working to a tight schedule with my other stories.

Disclaimer: I don't own Shuffle! and I don't think anyone owns shuffling.

Note: "Implies speech" while 'Implies thoughts' or noises such as 'Thud'

A Bad Hand, Ch1: Our Starting Hands

Asa stirred in her bed, feeling something warm next to her. She knew what it was, she had felt the same warm thing every morning for the past two years, since she had moved into a flat with it. She looked up at the clock on the bedside table: 8:37, about an hour too early for her and the warm thing next to her. But then the warm thing started to move too, and it yawned, then it turned to face her, "Morning Asa."

"Morning... yawn... Rin."

-----

It had been four years since Rin had confessed to Asa, four years since they stood atop that outlook and kissed for the first time, four years since she was dying in hospital, four years since Rin put everything on the line to save her. Neither they, nor any of their friends ever spoke of what had happened on the night they both nearly lost their lives, and there was no need to do so, it was all in the distant past, it did not need bringing up now. Since then, the couple had gone to the same college, after much late night studying and many cramming sessions from Rin. It had been hard work but since yesterday, their life at college was over. They had both made it through that particular four years, and had come out of them relatively well. Soon, they would be heading back to their hometown, to see all their old friends once again.

-----

An hour later, Asa had managed to drag herself out of bed to have a shower before breakfast, while Rin was still half-asleep in the bed. As she turned the water on and let it wash over her, she thought over the past few years. They had been very busy over that time, they had barely seen their friends since high-school. The last time that they had seen any of them was when Sia and Nerine's fathers had business nearby, and they had brought their daughters, Kaede and Primula with them to visit, and that had been about three months ago. Before that, Asa could not remember the last time they had seen each other.

She heard a noise from the bedroom of the small apartment, which she guessed, correctly, was Rin dragging himself out of bed to get food. He never had been a morning person, so she had often had to kick him out of bed so he would get up in time for lectures and the like.

As she washed her hair, she allowed her thoughts to drift to the future that she hoped to have with Rin. She loved him more than anyone else, and she hoped he felt the same for her, at least he said he did, and if his actions in bed were anything to go by, he meant it.

She stepped out of the shower and grabbed a towel, slowly drying herself down. She pulled on her clothes in the small space, and tied her bow in her green hair, just the same as always. Then stepped out of the bathroom. 'Now, first things first, breakfast.'

-----

Rin groaned for the umpteenth time that day, still exhausted. He had made himself some toast, and was sitting at the small kitchen table munching his way through it, with a cup of coffee next to him. The kitchen, like the whole house, was pretty cramped. The couple could not have afforded anything bigger, so they had had to settle for this. At the very least, it was better than Rin's old flat: it had it's own bathroom, although that was cramped as well. The flat was all they needed, and they were happy there. They had been there for two years, and now they were going to leave it for good, to move back to Kouyou Town. (A/N: I had to look this up, and I've altered the spelling a little, to remove the 'o's with lines on top :end A/N.)

He looked up as Asa entered, wearing a t-shirt and skirt, which was only just long enough, and he waved to a plate of toast that he had made for her.

She sat and grabbed the butter and a knife and poured herself some coffee. For a few minutes, there was a pleasant silence, while the two of them ate their breakfast. Rin finished first, and got up to have his own shower. Everything felt like a normal weekend day, except today most of their things were now packed up for when they were to leave that afternoon. Soon, very soon, they would be back with their friends, and he would living happily together with his hot girlfriend, at least, that was the plan.

-----

Words of wisdom, spades: green haired chicks are hot. Evidence: Asa Shigure.

-----

Around a table, sat four men. 'Men' is a slight stretch of the word. To be exact, they were a god, a demon, a human and one other, who wore headgear that completely covered his head. In front of each being, lay 13 playing cards, and in the centre, face-up, lay a joker.

"The cards are all dealt," the god, who had tan skin, brown hair and brown eyes, spoke.

"Then, shall we begin?" the demon opposite replied. He had pale skin, white hair and red eyes.

"Your turn to start," the human spoke to the masked one across from him.

The one wearing the mask looked at each in turn, the god to his left, the demon to his right, and the human across from him. "I thought that after our last game four years ago that we agreed that we would no longer play with these fates, I won that game, yet you force me into another?"

The human spoke, "The cards have been dealt, you must play."

"Well, Ask, why do you say that I must."

The man, Ask, glared at the mask that hid all emotion. The god replied for him, "You know the ancient laws, we must play every game until the game of our fates comes for us."

"I know, Wodin, but what will happen if we don't?"

"Then we will stay here forever," the Demon replied for Wodin.

"I did not ask you, Loki, yet you have a point, I shall play this round, and I shall win, I, Fenrir, swear it."

"Here we go then," Ask said taking his cards.

The others took their hands as well, Fenrir glared at his hand. 'This is bad, with the fates as they are, I should have been dealt a better hand, those three must have something up their sleeves that I don't know about.'

He counted, 'only six points*, but one is my trump card.' He smiled grimly at the two valuable cards in his hand, one the ace of spades, the other the queen of spades. On the second card was a picture of a green haired girl- Asa Shigure.

He looked at each of the others, knowing one card from each hand: from Wodin's the queen of diamonds- Lisianthus, from Loki's the queen of clubs- Nerine, and from Ask's the queen of hearts- Kaede. To play with these girls fates was their business, to see who would win, and claim with the joker in the end. He was playing to make it Asa. Why? Even he did not have a clue, it was just what he did.

He looked again at the joker in the centre, on it was a picture of Rin Tsuchimi.

"You to bid, Fenrir," Ask said.

"Three spades..."

-----

Words of Wisdom, spades 2: every rule has exceptions. Evidence: Mayumi Thyme.

-----

Rin had packed his and Asa's suitcases into his car. They were finally leaving the flat that they had lived in for two years. Asa walked down the steps to the roadside. "I've handed over the keys."

Rin opened the passenger door for her, "Then shall we?"

Asa climbed in, and Rin closed the door. He looked up at the apartment block for one last time. They were moving on again, and who knew where their path would lead them. He walked round to the other side of the car and climbed in himself. He turned to his girlfriend, "Ready?"

"Ready."

They were off, to their original home.

-----

The cards are dealt,

They play their best,

To maybe change

A love interest.

Fenrir smiled as he made his last trick. "The first round is mine."

Ask flicked his hair. "To make 3 spades with 6 points, no wonder you never lost, even to us."

"Well there may be a first time for everything, even for me."

Loki looked at the score-sheet, "30 above the line, 20 below."

Wodin smirked, "So still all to play for, eh Fen?"

Fenrir snarled, "I have told you not to call me that, Wodin."

"Someone has a temper today, calm down Fenrir, he's only teasing," Ask said.

"The next hand," Fenrir growled: he was not in the mood for teasing.

-----

"We're here," Rin said as he pulled into the drive of a very familiar house.

Asa who had nearly fallen asleep next to him after the three hour drive lifted her head and smiled. "Home sweet home."

Rin got out and grabbed the suitcases, while Asa, suddenly more awake, ran up to the front door and rang the bell, unable to stand still. The door opened to show...

"Mother!" Asa jumped into her mother's arms.

"Hey there Asa, how're you." Ama was smiling as always. She was wearing her usual cat-eared hat, and her old blue, strapped dress.

"Fine thanks Mum." Asa hugged her mother tightly, "It's been a while hasn't it?"

Rin walked up behind them, cases in hand, and watched the touching scene. Until Ama looked up at him, "Do come in Rin, it's nice to see you again."

Rin entered, for the moment at least, this would be a sort of home. He and Asa were going to look for their own place as soon as they had proper jobs, but for the moment they would stay with Ama. At least that was the plan, but nobody can predict when storm clouds will gather, or when the lightning will strike.

-----

A/N: For those who are wondering, the game of cards is not going to take up large amounts of the story, it's just there for artistic comparison. The game they are playing is an altered version of 'bridge,' which is altered so that you do not have to play with partners. For those who don't know how to play bridge, it's like wist, but with bidding and a funny points system. If you don't know how to play wist, I'm a little surprised. *When Fenrir mentions points, he is using a bridge method to work out the value of your hand: each Jack is one point, each Queen is two, King is three and an Ace is four.

The bidding works as follows (you will need to understand Wist to understand this): you can say a number followed by a suit, or 'no bid'. That suit is what you want to be trumps. The number determines the number of tricks you must win, which is normally 6+the number you said, but in this case is 3+ that number. You should have about 12 points in you hand (see above) to start bidding at one of a suit, to start bidding at three is normally suicide. When there are three 'no bid's in a row, the last bidder is 'playing' that game. If you make that number of tricks, you get a set number of points, if you get fewer, your opponants get points, but these points count for different things, it's complicated, though in the end it is whoever has most points overall who wins, regardless of the type of points that they are.

If you want a better explanation, go to wikipedia and look at 'Contract bridge,' bearing in mind that I have fiddled with the game to enable for it to be played without partners. You don't have to understand to read the fic, but it would help.

And I overuse 'Fenrir' as a name, so sue me, but I couldn't think of a better one. All the names are references to Norse Mythology.

Bis Bald

BW