A/N: Hi~! Sorry for not updating for so long...RL is hectic. OTL school's been busy _ So I'm so screwed for tomorrow (...ignored hw to write 4000~words to finish up chapter OTL) but I'm happy I'm finished with this, mwhahaha. Sorry if it's choppy or a little off. I haven't written for a while and different parts of the chapter were written at different times...I hope it wasn't too weird. o.o I know most of my readers read The Guardian of Autumn but I wanted to finish up this chapter first. Honestly, I haven't started out on the new chapter for GoA at all. I do have a bunch of ideas, it's just actually getting down and dirty and writing it. Oh right! Sorry if er...this chapter was kind of /
Either way, I'd love your feedback and reviews! Constructive criticism or pointers/advice would be nice too =)
And yes, I admit it, I really ship MomokaXSenri (they are the obvious couple, but be on the lookout for other relationships, kufufufu. Tune has already planned the final couples so.../shot LOL) Reviews are love Thanks for all the people PMing me, asking me what's up~ ^^ I FELT SUPER LOVED
As the pair looked over the menus, Momoka tried to think of something to say. She didn't usually drag strangers off the street and treat them to lunch. But she had needed someone to keep her mind busy, and here he was, in all his distractingly blond glory. The name Joshima rattled around her head, like the last treat in the cookie jar that her short fingers couldn't reach. She could almost taste it; the information was at the tip of her memory. The girl's eyes glanced up at the boy seated across from her, noting that he was looking through the menu as if it were in French. Unsure of the atmosphere she was going for, Momoka's fingers played aimlessly against the tabletop, a nervous habit.
"Ehem," she cleared her throat, setting down her menu. "Are you ready to order? I'm getting the croque monsieur and some earl grey tea." In response, he shifted in his seat, sitting straight up and quickly slouching against the booth again. Mamoru let loose a nervous chuckle.
"Honestly, I really don't know what to order. If you don't mind, I'll just order the same thing." He nodded to a waitress, who took their orders immediately and whisked away the menus. Silence hung like a water-soaked veil between the two teens, letting in occasional bubbles of sound. The tea arrived first, providing them with a reprieve from the mounting awkwardness that tags along when you invite strangers to lunch.
Momoka handled her guest's teacup first, pouring the hot tea with a practiced grace. "So, Joshima-san, is it? Your surname sounds really familiar for some reason. I don't believe it's because of that newspaper article either. I saw it in a different context."
"Really? I can't imagine where you might have seen it. Joshima might be a common surname," replied Mamoru, as his cellphone rang, smiling when he saw the caller ID. He gave Momoka an apologetic shrug and excused himself, explaining that the caller was his sister. Momoka consented, jokingly reassuring that she'd definitely remember where she'd seen the name Joshima before.
With Mamoru gone, Momoka felt a sudden self-consciousness that she was treating a guy she barely knew. Feeling impulsive, she dug out her cellphone from her pocket and texted Kotori, wondering how the "date" was going.
[How's the date going? having fun?]
It still stung a little that she was being left out, but she didn't want to be a baby about it. It was about time she expanded her horizons. She had chosen for her and Mamoru to sit in a corner booth that gave a nice view of the civilian traffic outside. Her eyes lingered on the back of the boy outside, speaking anxiously into his phone. His head bobbed up and down as he bowed apologetically, and she noticed soon after, his frown morphed into a grin. The waitress came over with the two orders of croque monsieurs and set them down, shooting a curious look at Momoka before leaving. She sighed, hoping that she hadn't given off a pretentious aura by ordering a simple French ham-and-cheese sandwich; but judging by the way Mamoru had reacted, she probably seemed like a snooty rich kid, which she wasn't. In fact, her mom was probably the stingiest person she knew, besides Mammon. It was no surprise that once Momoka's mother and Mammon had found out their shared interest in economizing, a strange kind of bond was forged. Alone again, Momoka's thoughts couldn't help turning to her mother and about the mafia. Thankfully, she was saved by Kotori's response text.
Enthusiastically, Kotori shoved the screen of her phone into her date's face. "Look! Momoka-chan wants to know how our date is going. What should I say?"
Senri looked up with poorly restrained interest, "Momo? Tell her it's going fine."
As the girl punched away at her phone, Senri leaned against his chair, happy to have the monotony of dress watching broken. "Say," he began hopefully, "why don't we head out to lunch now? We'd have something more exciting to report back to Momo if we did something else besides shopping, right?"
"I suppose so," the dark haired girl murmured absent-mindedly, clicking the [SEND] button. She tossed her long ringlets over a shoulder and glanced in the mirror, giving a cursory look before snapping her phone shut. Turning to her date, Kotori smiled cheerfully, "That sounds like a good idea, Sasagawa-kun. Do you mind if I just go bring these dresses to the check-out desk?"
"Sure," he waved an arm toward the check out desk and stood up. Leading the way, he took some of the dresses from her and glanced backward questioningly. "Do you have any place in mind for lunch?"
With a flirtatious wink, she replied in a bright tone, "As a matter of fact, I do."
"Ehhh, so this is the place you had in mind," said Senri, looking around. "If I'm not wrong, they just renovated this place, right?"
"I don't know," replied Kotori honestly, taking a seat. "Do you know what's weird? Just before we came in, you know how there was someone outside talking on their phone? That person looked really similar to Mamoru-kun, the guy I mentioned earlier. It must be my imagination; I've been thinking about him all the time lately."
Senri pouted, pulling the menu up to his nose so only his eyes peered out at the girl. "Aha! I knew it! You know, it's very upsetting for me to go on a date with you when your head is full of another guy."
"Sorry, sorry," she waved her menu at him, giggling at his facial expression. Kotori teased, "But isn't your head always full of Momoka-chan? I'm not the only one here whose thoughts are occupied."
Hiding his face completely behind the menu Senri grumbled, "I wasn't thinking about her. I was thinking about how boring shopping was. I wanted to play video games. Besides, Momo must be lonely. After all, I'm not there with her." He flashed a smirk before ducking behind his menu again. But just as quickly, his head shot back up.
"Hey, Naito-san, look over there," he nudged her foot with his sneaker beneath the table. She winced as he nearly stomped her sandaled toes off with his "nudge."
She gave a tart reply, regretting taking up her offer again, "Ouch. First you complain and now you're trying to squash my toes. What is it?"
"Doesn't that look an awful lot like Momo?" Senri pointed to his best friend sitting in a corner on the opposite side of the café, sipping daintily from a cup of tea.
"Onii-chan, do you know what happened to the forms I left in the greenhouse and the packet of peony-jasmine hybrid seeds I was working with earlier?"
Mamoru grinned sheepishly into the mouthpiece, tasting defeat. "Yeah, I mailed it to the Agriculture Department for you. I was thinking it'd be a waste if you didn't enter the competition, so I did it for you."
His sister on the other line twisted a strand of hair around her finger. Now what was she supposed to? In a well-practiced calm tone she replied, "But I didn't want to enter the competition. Until I was ready with my other sample of seeds that is. You also forgot that the application needs a photo of the full grown plant too. Basically, you sent off an uncompleted entry, Onii-chan."
Realizing his mistake, Mamoru bit his tongue disappointedly. He had been excited about showing off her work, but neglected to consult her, thinking that she was just being modest. "I'm really sorry! I'll go to the Department tomorrow to fix everything, ok? So when you're ready, you can submit your entry."
The blond was relieved to hear a ringing laugh on the other end. "It's alright, you're forgiven, Mamoru-nii-chan. It's hard to stay mad at you when you sound so nervous like that. By the way, Mother said you should come home to eat dinner."
"Did she?" pondered Mamoru, before agreeing to dine together for the first time in a while. "By the way, Aoi-chan, I met someone you know from school. She kind of treated me out to lunch. Actually, she's treating me out to lunch, haha. You might know her, since you two are in the same grade."
There was silence for a few seconds before Aoi's stiff voice resounded in Mamoru's ear, "Who is it?"
"I believe her name is Yamamoto-san? It's funny, but she says she's seen my name somewhere before."
"Yamamoto-san? I know her," she replied in a quiet voice, so small that Mamoru had to press his ear harder against his phone. Worried, Mamoru asked if something was wrong. The Aoi-chan that he knew and loved was never this quiet; in fact, she was like a spring well, bubbly and cheerful all year round. Her taciturnity right now didn't feel right to him.
"It's nothing," she responded, a forced cheer returning to her voice. "I'll see you later, Mamoru-nii."
"Yeah, I'll see you and Mom tonight, Aoi. Count on it!" Maybe he needed to give her the space she needed. After all, no one wants a suffocating older brother. Feeling confused, Mamoru re-entered the café to join Momoka.
"Ehhhh." Senri's eyes widened, pointing with his pinky at Momoka's direction. "Momo's with a guy." Excitedly, Kotori whirled around in her seat to get a better look, only to have her smile freeze on her face. Why was Momoka with Mamoru? Kotori's frantic eyes turned about to her companion's face, whose eyes were still glued on the pair in the corner.
"Don't tell me," groaned Senri, planting his forehead against the counter, "that's your guy?" Kotori nodded mutely, staring at the top of Senri's bowed head. They were in this shocked state when the waiter came over to take their order.
"What would you like today," he asked cheerfully, pen poised above the pad.
Senri waved his arm languidly and managed to utter out his desire for a large plate of curry while Kotori turned her smile on and asked sweetly for a deli sandwich with a side of potato salad.
"Would you like anything to drink?" The waiter asked, scribbling into his pad without looking down. "You can get our special couples drink at a discount today if you'd like. We have five different flavors and you can request your own customized drink as well."
"We're not a couple," mumbled Senri sullenly, taking a peek at Momoka and Mamoru in the corner. "But I'd like to have one of those 'special' drinks for myself please."
Startled, the waiter asked, "For yourself, sir?"
"Of course it's for me. Is there any problem?" Senri propped his head up, staring at the waiter, his eyes sliding to look at the couple in the corner again. The waiter apologized profusely, bowing several times before relaying their order to the chef.
Jealousy and curiosity mingled to make an uncomfortable sensation in the pit of Kotori's stomach. She suggested, "How about after our orders arrive, we go join those two over there?"
"Sounds like the best idea of the day," he grinned at her, giving her the thumbs up. "Somehow, I'm super curious, you know?"
Shortly after, their waiting was over when their orders came. Nearly forgetting about switching tables, Senri eagerly dug into his curry, cringing when it burned his tongue. "Hot, hot, hot!"
"Sasagawa-kun," said Kotori, amused, "let's go!"
"So, how'd your talk with your sister go?" Momoka held the teacup in both hands, peering out at the frazzled Mamoru from behind the rising steam. She teased, "It seems like you were scolded, Onii-chan."
Mamoru laughed sheepishly, "Yeah, I did something stupid but she forgave me. She has a heart of gold, that Aoi-chan. Actually, I'm pretty sure she goes to your school, Namimori Middle, right?"
Jolting forward so fast she scalded her tongue, Momoka blurted, "AOI-CHAN IS YOUR SISTER!" She fanned her face, trying to cool her tongue down and managed to choke out, "But you two look completely different and have two different surnames. You don't seem like the type of person that would be related to Uncle Hibari; afterall, he'd probably force you to go to Namimori, right?"
"True, I'm not related to Hibari-san but my mom is Dokuro Chrome. Well, she's my "mom" in the sense that she's taken care of me since birth along with Aoi-chan. I've never known my real mother and my dad is friends with Mom so he had her help look after me."
"Auntie Chrome never told us about you," responded Momoka in what would have been an accusatory tone had her tongue not been hanging out of her mouth, still attempting to cool her taste buds. "I can understand Aoi-chan or Uncle Hibari not mentioning it though, they both keep to themselves a lot."
Mamoru's eyes widened, "What do you mean? Aoi-chan's the liveliest, chattiest person I know. She's always bouncing around doing this and that to cheer people up."
"No way," exclaimed Momoka, just as surprised at this description. She narrowed her eyes at him, "Aoi-chan talks to almost no one at school and I rarely see her around town with people. Most of the time, I just see her tending the school ground's gardens and what not. She's pretty shy and super formal; I can't imagine the Aoi-chan you're describing."
She waited curiously while Mamoru thumbed through his photo files on his cellphone. Finding a picture of Aoi beaming after finishing fertilizing the garden, Mamoru grinned and pushed it across the table to Momoka. "Here's a picture."
Stunned, Momoka just stared at the image of a flushed but happy looking Aoi making a peace sign for the camera. Slowly a smile spread across her face as well. "I never knew she could show a smile like that, it's so contagious, hehe. Aoi-chan's so cute when she's happy; I want to see this side of her too." Excitedly she skimmed the pictures, squealing at how cute Aoi-chan was in each shot: Aoi in pigtails mending a net, Aoi baking cookies, Aoi watering the garden.
Proudly, Mamoru relayed the story behind each picture, acting out his sister's exploits. The two teens crowded in front of the screen, their heads touching as they chatted animatedly. "You have so many pictures of her," said Momoka in an awed tone, giggling. "That can be both creepy and cute, you like her so much. But if you think about it, you're not her real brother, right?"
"That may be the case, but she's my sister, even if we're not related by blood," explained Mamoru, unsure how to convey what he meant. "It's not like what you think it is because I've always accepted that Aoi-chan has her own dad but I treat my mom and Aoi-chan as my real family. My dad tolerates Aoi-chan and even if he would never admit it, I think he really loves my mom."
"Joshima," she contemplated this name. "Where have I heard that name fro —"
Momoka's words were cut off as Senri shoved himself onto her side of the booth just as Kotori daintily slid in next to Mamoru. "WHY, WHAT A FUNNY COINCIDENCE SEEING YOU HERE MOMO," he exclaimed with a false grin, trying not to stare down Mamoru. Instead, he turned his attentions to his friend, pulling her upright after barreling her sideways into the window. It was then they noticed each other's lunches and shouted incredulously:
"You got a stinkin' sandwich!"
"You got freaking curry?"
Momoka glared at her best friend, crossing her arms. "You don't get curry when you come to these types of places, Senri, you big idiot."
"Admit it Momo, it has to be better than that dinky little sandwich of yours."
"It's a croque monsieur," she replied hotly, getting worked up for no particular reason, "and don't you forget it."
"Alright, alright, I'll remember the name of it," Senri said, cuffing her across the shoulder. "No need to get all upset about what the sandwich is called, as long as it's tasty."
"Ahahaha, that's the most energetic I've seen Sasagawa-kun all day long. He's the most spirited when he's with you after all, Momoka-chan," Kotori burst out laughing from across the table. She edged her elbow strategically towards Mamoru while speaking to her friends. It was hard feeling like a third wheel the whole time with those two. Even on her "date" with Senri, she had felt the presence of Momoka on his mind the whole time. But now she was merely a spectator, which she quite enjoyed.
"So, who is this guy anyways?" asked Senri, jerking a thumb at Mamoru. He tapped his feet against the floor next to Momoka's sneakers, staring at the blond boy.
"Ah, it seems that you're all acquaintances already. I'm sorry; I should have introduced myself to you earlier. My name is Joshima Mamoru, a first year at Kokuyo High." The older boy half-bowed over the counter and stretched his hand out for a handshake.
Reluctantly, Senri took it and introduced himself as well. In a gruff tone he said, "Sasagawa Senri, third year at Namimori Middle."
Breaking the one-sided tension between the two boys, Kotori clapped her hands together cheerfully. "Now that everyone knows each other, why were you two together anyways? You two looked so cozy," smiled Kotori coyly, glancing at Senri's grim facial expression as he spooned the curry up slowly, his eyes set on the other male.
"Oh, I bumped into him on the street," interjected Momoka quickly, laughing forcibly, "literally."
"Is that so?" mused Kotori, taking a bite of her own sandwich. "It was just a funny coincidence because I thought it looked like Ma-Ma-Ma-Mamoru-kun outside when we entered." The Naito heir colored slightly at her own boldness and steadied her eyes on the crumbs scattered across her platter. Addressing Mamoru, Kotori murmured, "You can just call me 'Kotori' too…if you'd like that is."
Momoka grinned at Kotori's bashfulness and leaned to whisper into her best friend's ear. "Don't you think Kotori-chan looks so cute all shy and sweet like that? Girls in love are the cutest."
Senri studied his "date" carefully, contemplating Momoka's words. It was true that the blush rising to her pale skin made Kotori prettier, especially with dark ringlets framing her heart-shaped face. But it was no doubt in his mind that the cutest girl he knew was Momoka. No matter it if she was chasing him down with a textbook or beating him at video games, she always looked pretty to him, she sparkled to him. But he couldn't very well say that, now could he? After all, that would give her life-long bragging rights; besides, he was probably the only one in the world who thought she was pretty right? Senri reasoned to himself that if other guys had thought Momoka was pretty, she would have had a boyfriend by now and not wandering the streets, bumping into foreign-looking boys.
"Yeah, I guess so," came his non-committal reply. Quickly downing another spoonful of curry, Senri avoided Momoka's prodding look. "You know, this curry is seriously really good." He loaded up another portion of curry and quickly thrust it into Momoka's mouth, parting her closed lips with his free hand.
Uwah, her lips are so soft, he couldn't help thinking to himself as he grudgingly withdrew his fingers from her mouth. "How is it?" he asked her, tilting his body toward her, his elbow propping up against the counter. It was then he noticed the tears hanging in the corner of his friend's eyes as she choked down the hot curry. Was it from the food or was it…?
The first thing she said after swallowing her food was, "That was hot, you idiot! I could barely taste it; did you want to burn my taste buds off?"
"Sorry, sorry. Here, have another bite," he offered her another spoonful, blowing gently across the curry before feeding it to the girl. Under the pretense of worry, Senri slipped his slim fingers between her lips again, opening her mouth slightly "to check for burns." Momoka didn't protest against his actions, allowing him to examine her because she knew it was in his genes to be touchy-feely. And a little physical contact felt good enough to distract her from thoughts of her mom and the mafia. His fingers tasted sweet after all.
Cheekily, Senri requested that she said "Ahhhh" for him and was taken aback when she complied. Is she really alright? Momo seems kind of off today, thought Senri, enjoying the feel of Momoka's mouth against his hand but worried nonetheless. Deciding to take matters into his own hands, in an abrupt move that surprised the whole table, Senri jerked Momoka into his lap and cradled her head against his chest.
"You're obviously not okay Momo, so stop pretending to be strong," he said fiercely into her right ear. "You've been acting strange this whole time, something happened right?"
"No, no, no, the curry wasn't bad," responded Momoka flatly, nestling herself into his embrace, adjusting the position of her legs to fit into his lap. She fingered the collar of his shirt, staring absent-mindedly at the pattern of his shirt. Her eyes were a glassy brown, glazed over with turmoil. The girl whispered weakly into his chest, "I got into a fight with Dad today about Mom."
Being a guy, Senri couldn't help thinking, Move your hands a little closer to my neck, Momo but he figured it was time to shake some sense into his friend. Although a small voice in the back of his head told him not to let go of her, it bothered him that she looked so lost and helpless compared to her usual tough girl, "I can handle it myself," attitude.
On the other side of the table, Kotori and Mamoru couldn't help but gape at the two. The dark-haired girl whispered out of the corner of her mouth to her golden-haired companion, "It's like watching free TV."
"Are those two going out or something?" Mamoru couldn't help wondering as he continued to gawk at the couple, his face flushing red at the tenderness at which Senri treated Momoka, handling her like clay as she seemed to fit into his arms perfectly.
"They're not, but they might as well be," retorted Kotori, her eyes fixed on the look in Senri's eyes as he moved his mouth to Momoka's ear. What she saw there was enough warm affection and raw lust that made her think that if those two morons didn't realize their feelings soon, she'd implement obstacles to make them realize, dammit.
"Momo, everything will be fine," he whispered urgently to her, his hands moving unconsciously around her waist. Senri brushed his lips against her earlobes and moved downwards, breathing hotly against her neck, getting a satisfactory reaction when he felt her shudder against him and squeak.
"Ohmygod, this is like watching—" exclaimed Kotori, trailing off embarrassedly as Senri just pressed Momoka closer to himself. She picked at her lunch and nudged Mamoru to do the same, trying hard not to peek at the two across the table from her.
Momoka squirmed in Senri's arms, seeming to come to her senses after being tickled in her weak spot. "S-Senri, what are you doing?"
"What?" he asked innocently, picking up her hand and tracing a circle into her palm. "I'm not doing anything bad, am I?"
"Don't do it in public," reprimanded Momoka sternly, clenching her hand closed over his wandering finger and shaking it up and down.
"I love it when you're boss, Momo," he grinned with relief, his voice vibrating from having his arm shaken. Bringing her fist up to his cheek, he rubbed his cheek along her knuckles playfully.
Why don't you just say 'I love you, Momo,' thought Kotori, wanting to scream at Senri for not manning up and taking initiative. She coughed and kicked Senri beneath the table, stomping his toes as hard as she could with sandals. "Sasagawa-kun, please eat your food. Momoka-chan seems like she's feeling better so please stop man-handling her."
Realizing what it might look like to others, Momoka hastily climbed out of Senri's lap, but not before pinching his ear. "If you do that again in public I'm going to kill you. And don't think I don't remember about yesterday."
The boy merely laughed, returning to his curry as if nothing had happened. Mamoru whispered to Kotori, "Are they always like that?" Feeling her cheeks heat up at his sudden proximity, Kotori nodded a small yes. She turned away from him, hiding her smile as she ate her potato salad next.
"I apologize for Senri's rudeness," bowed Momoka, forcing Senri's head down as well. "I'm also sorry for ruining your, uh, appointment with Senri, Kotori-chan."
"It's not a problem," reassured Kotori, relieved Momoka hadn't called it a "date" aloud. "It's good to see that Sasagawa-kun was able to cheer you up."
"He didn't cheer me up, just seeing his face around here makes me mad," the class representative retorted, her lips pouting while her eyes were laughing.
"Don't say that," joked Senri, smacking her lightly across the shoulder. "You know I'm your reason for living, haha." Putting his arms up to shield his face he yelped, "Don't hurt me!"
"Don't flatter yourself Sasagawa Senri," she kicked his shin beneath the tabletop and then brought her sneaker squarely down on his foot in a stomp.
"Ow, what's with girls stepping on my feet today," muttered Senri, wincing slightly.
He jumped slightly when she suddenly screamed, "AHHHHH! IT'S ALREADY THIS TIME?" Momoka jumped to her feet after casually glancing at the time on her cellphone, pulling Senri up with her. "We have to go visit Uncle Tsuna today. There was something I wanted to discuss with him. Sorry about this, Kotori-chan, Joshima-san. It was nice meeting you. Have fun you two." Slapping their bill on the table, Momoka and Senri rushed out in a whirl, leaving Mamoru and Kotori to themselves.
Suddenly nervous, Kotori stabbed at her food with gusto, chewing silently. Her ears perked up when he started to speak but she was let down when he announced that he had some errands to run as well before going to eat dinner with his sister. "Ah, well it was nice seeing you again, Mamoru-kun," she said, faltering at his name again. "I hope you don't mind my using your name so informally."
"It's alright, Naito-san, please feel free to call me whatever you feel comfortable with. Please thank Yamamoto-san again for me. I'll see you around," he waved cordially to her before exiting the café.
It was as Mamoru was leaving that they both heard a distant scream coming from outside.
"Oi Momo, what was with that dramatic scene back there?" asked Senri, giving her a curious sidelong glance as they walked closely to each other. "That last outburst was even weirder than the weirded-out-you from before."
Momoka twisted her sleeve around her hand distractedly, "I feel bad about ruining your date with Kotori-chan so I kind of wanted to give her some alone time with Yoshima-san. That's all; but I really do need to talk to Uncle Tsuna about something though."
It was mid-afternoon already. Senri glanced around, there weren't too many people out on the streets, just a few shoppers, some schoolgirls, and a gaggle of boys crowded at the arcade. Now was as good a time as any other, he supposed.
He tugged Momoka's arm and pulled her to the side of the street so that they were somewhat concealed by the leaves. "Hey," he said softly, his hand trailing against her wrist, feeling the steady throb of her pulse.
In reply, she kicked at the leaves falling to their feet, "Hey yourself. If there's something you want to say, just spit it out."
Senri bent so that his face was a few mere centimeters from Momoka's. He smiled and when he spoke, the girl could feel his breath caress her cheeks. "Now, now," he started in a low voice, his left hand dipping into his jacket pocket slowly, "is that the tone you take with someone who gives you a present?" As he talked, he was slowly edging her into the brush so that they were hidden amongst the trees.
Momoka looked confusedly at him, pulling his face down so they were nose to nose. "Don't mess with me Senri, don't waste my time. What do you want?" Senri was momentarily distracted; it was the second time that he had been able to look into her eyes like this. They were at a distance, he noted somewhere in the back of his mind, that if he stumbled forward, he'd be able to taste her, that soft, rolling taste of peaches.
"Wah — ah right! Uh, here's your present," he fumbled with the flat package in his hand and pushed it into her hands. On a quick impulse, he kissed her forehead quickly and laughed. "Tell me how you like it, alright?"
She rubbed the spot he kissed absent-mindedly, tearing open her package. It was at that moment that Momoka screamed loud enough for Kotori and Mamoru to hear. "KYAAAAA!" Senri was surprised to find himself suddenly tackled by Momoka as she flung her arms around his neck. "Senri," she beamed, her lips pressed against his collarbones in a wide smile, "thank you so much!"
The boy felt his face heat up with pleasure, wrapping her in a hug (not like her arms weren't already wrapped around him). "No problem, Momo. It's my apology for yesterday. I'm assuming you like it?"
"I love it," she looked up at him happily. "How'd you manage to get their new CD so fast? It just came out yesterday!"
He scratched his cheek bashfully, "The Animate store near my house usually gets a pretty big shipment. Do I get into Momo's good book then?"
"You sure do," she replied, tip-toeing to kiss his cheek and hooked her free hand with his. "You're the best friend a girl could have, Senri. Now shall we proceed to Uncle Tsuna's house?" Neither of them could hear a distant click, click, click of a shutter closing in the distance.
"Ring the doorbell Senri," commanded Momoka, their hands still linked down to the pinky. It hadn't taken long to get to Tsuna's house but the two teens had been side-tracked by going on the swings (…yes, at their age).
The door was opened by a boy whose coffee-brown eyes gleamed intelligently behind framed glasses. "Ah, it's Onii-chan and Onee-chan. I'll go get Dad."
"Sheesh Nobu-kun, is that the way you talk to your cousins, like we're alien strangers?" teased Momoka, stepping into the house. "I have something private to talk about with Uncle Tsuna, so just hang out with Senri in the living room, okay?"
Sawada Yoshinobu gritted his teeth, his hand tightening on the doorknob, "I may only be in sixth grade, but you don't need to actually treat me like an insolent fool, Onee-chan."
"Just let them in Onii-chan," scolded his sister, ushering her cousins in. Senri mused that she really did look more like her mother as she grew up, right down to the bright copper shade of her hair. "Momoka-neechan, you and Senri-niichan haven't stopped by lately and it's gotten lonely lately with Oniichan preparing for his middle-school entrance exams."
"Wait a minute, Sorami-chan," interrupted Senri, "the entrance exams aren't until spring. I know because we have to take our high-school entrance exams then too, you know."
Momoka laughed and hooked a friendly arm around her cousin who tried to shrug her off, "Nobu-kun's just an overachiever, Senri."
There was a shuffling of slippered feet and Vongola the Tenth entered the room, grinning when he saw his nephew and niece (oh what the heck, was he really going to call her his first cousin once removed all the time?). "Momoka, Senri! Do you two want some food? Kyoko just made some brownies for Nobu and Sorami's lunches tomorrow."
"I'd love to have some food after we talk, Uncle Tsuna." Momoka pinned the Vongola with her eyes, straightforward and demanding answers.
Tsuna rubbed the back of his neck and sighed, understanding perfectly what she meant. "Alright, Momoka-chan, let's discuss this in my office."
"Can I come too?" piped up Senri, his mouth already full of dessert despite having just eaten.
"You don't need to worry about it, Senri-kun," reassured Tsuna, leading his "niece" into his office. Moments after their ensuing discussion, there was someone at the door. Ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, the doorbell went crazy, not stopping until the Sawada household's front door was blasted inward with a "VOIIIIIIIIIIIII! YOU BASTARDS TAKE TOO DAMN LONG TO ANSWER THE FREAKING DOOR!"
As Mamoru walked the path that led into the woods behind Namimori Middle, he could feel one of his periodic headaches coming on. He rubbed his temples, hoping that he'd at least make it to Aoi-chan's house before he fell unconscious. The last time he had felt the dark-red pain, he had passed out somewhere along the highway and woken up with a cut along his arm, but otherwise feeling fine, in a convenience store. Mamoru's world faded to gray as he felt his eyelids flutter shut and he regretted that he couldn't have fought a little harder this time as well.
"Aoi, did Mamoru say he was coming over for dinner tonight?" asked Chrome, washing the rice in the sink.
Chrome's daughter looked up from cutting carrots to reply, "Yeah, he should be coming soon Mother." A blur of a shadow in the garden caught her eye and Aoi carefully wiped her knife, placing it to one side. "Mother, I'll be right back. I'm just going to pick some more carrots from outside."
Stepping quickly to the backyard, Aoi slid open the doors that led to the back porch. "Psst," she whispered cautiously, "are you out there? I saw you from the kitchen; please don't go." The girl didn't startle when a boy with death-black hair appeared at her side, smirking winningly, "I'm right here, Aoi-chan. I've missed you."
Aoi smiled back, a small wrinkle between her eyebrows, and hugged the trespasser. "Is Mamoru-niichan alright? You didn't hurt him, right? How can you miss me when you're always talking to me?"
He chuckled darkly, "I miss holding you, Aoi. Don't worry; your precious "Mamoru-niichan" wasn't in too much pain and there's simply nothing I can do about it."
"What should I tell Mother?"
"About Mamoru? Well, wasn't he on a date earlier with that Yamamoto girl? Just tell your mom that he's still on a date and won't be eating dinner with you two."
"I guess I've got no choice," sighed Aoi, leading the boy up the back steps. "You can hide in my room until later, ok?"
"I don't need to hide," grumbled the teen, trying to resist Aoi's efforts without causing her harm. "I can just wait outside until you're done."
"Nonsense," she scolded, pushing him into the Hibari household, "you'll catch a cold if you sit around outside, Kaname-niichan."
A/N: I hope this wasn't terribly confusing. If you have any questions or points you want cleared up, please do leave a review! ^^ I'll see what I can do to fix it up. And yes...Senri and Momoka got very physical this chapter, didn't they? -cough- I dunno how fast I'll update my other story though...my grades are going down the drain _ LOL but thanks for supporting me guys See you around~^^