WOOT another update! Alright! So how close is everyone to summer break? I (apparently) have three weeks left! Then I start work! Oddly enough, I shall have more time for updates then, though *sweatdrop* I truly am sorry everyone, and I hope you are enjoying these updates.
Goodness, so many reviews for this chapter! :O THANK YOU, EVERYONE! :D Well, I shall get on with the replies so you can read Chapter 37!
indescribable music: I wish that too! I always thought Ayame was totally crazy, but he's just hilarious! xD Well, when I first wrote it, I was following the anime. But now that I've finished reading the manga (FINALLY), I may tweak some things... Yeah. haha
Maddie: Omagoodness, I missed you! hahaha ZOMG My reaction tooo! hahaha Their mom does look really young, I noticed that too! Gah, I hate her... Anywhoo... HAHA That's what the real Sachiko said when we first watched it. Or something like that. I think she said, "What the...? They're not gay, are they?" I burst out laughing and told her no. XD Yellowcard and Mayday Parade ARE awesomeness! :D Light is totally messed. I can't even... XD
S C A N D A L: OMIGOSH kdngkjsdbgkjsdt It's youuu! I've been enjoying "A Lost Flower" SO MUCH! I seriously jumped up and down with happiness when I got your message that you'd dedicated it to me. *teary eyes* You are seriously so sweet! Thank you so much for your review!
Tikarose: Yeah, after the story gets through where the anime ends, I plan to continue on with the manga, tweaking a few things here and there. I hope it works! haha Thanks so much!
stabbythings: Don't worry about it! Gosh, I'm so messed with these updates anyway... haha Glad you liked it! ^.^
Mila of the Seven Senses: OH I can imagine XD That's something I've been thinking long and hard about. I had an original idea for Rin, but that was before I finished the manga. I'm still not a huge fan of her (or of her pairing with Haru...), but I'm sure I'll figure something out :) Thank you so much for your review! ^.^
LiveMyLife: AH I have been too! I just had a huge paper due in History this week. BLEH. I hate essays. But HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY! *like, a month late* I'm glad you got your laptop back! I always love to see your song selections :3 They make me so happy ^.^ Thank you so much!
ALRIGHT. Let's go!
-XXXVII. Stories and Qualities-
Kyo heard the quiet beeping of his alarm clock and stirred a little. He turned over onto his other side, and tiredly noticed Ayame sleeping next to him.
Kyo's eyes closed for a split second. Then they flashed open again, and he screamed as his alarm starting beeping louder.
He lay there for a few moments after he was done screaming, frozen in place.
Ayame stirred a little and moved closer, putting his arms around Kyo. "Hush, I'm still sleeping," he murmured.
"Get offa me! ! !"
I bolted up out of bed. "Huh? Wha? ...Kyo?" I asked myself.
Then I heard crashing.
"Yep, definitely Kyo." I threw my blankets off and went out into the hallway.
Kyo was standing there glaring at Ayame, who going down the stairs.
"What happened?" I asked, running a quick hand through my hair.
"That damn snake was sleeping in my bed!"
I shuddered. "Yikes."
"Yeah, no kidding," he said.
We went downstairs after that, and I started making breakfast.
Miki and Sachiko came down to help a few minutes later.
"I'm sorry, but I had no other choice," Ayame said as we sat down. He had a bandage on his forehead and a few bruises.
Go, Kyo, I thought.
"Yuki locked the door to his room, so I couldn't sleep in there!"
"Why the hell didn't you go to Shigure's room, like yesterday? !" Kyo shouted.
"Because, if I had...Shigure would've kept me up all night."
"Aya," Shigure chastised. "Not in front of the children, please."
"Oh, cut it out!" Kyo yelled.
Yuki looked like he was concentrating very hard on ignoring Ayame. It was difficult for me to do so, since I'd been given the oh-so wonderful opportunity to sit next to him.
"Don't worry," Ayame said. "If it bothers you that much, tonight I'll sleep in Kiku's room."
My eyes widened and my face flushed.
"You will not!" Kyo and Yuki shouted together.
"Aya, don't annoy the girls," Shigure said. "Any one of them could take you out with one punch."
"You know it," I said.
It was the morning of the third day since Ayame had come to visit. Unfortunately for him, it seemed that the gap between him and Yuki had only grown wider. We girls weren't huge fans of Ayame. We tolerated him, like Kyo and Yuki. Just a little less...outspokenly.
We told Momiji and Haru about it when we got to school.
"Really! Aya's there? I haven't seen him since New Year's!" Momiji said excitedly.
Miki and I were sweeping the parking lot (part of a second-year clean-up something or other), and Momiji was standing next to us. Haru and Sachiko were sitting under a nearby tree together, looking at a butterfly in Haru's hands.
They really are cute, I thought.
Maybe now is a good time to stop and explain how their...well, "relationship" was going. Sachiko told us that they were nothing but friends. But they were in the same class, so they saw each other every day. Then he sometimes came back with us after school, and she showed him some stuff on the guitar.
From where I stood, they both really liked each other. He rarely ever went Black when she was around. Seemed like she was improving his disposition. That's something, right?
"For three days now," Miki said, answering Momiji. She was using her low, annoyed tone that usually meant she wanted to punch someone. Not good, especially with Momiji standing next to her.
"Maybe I'll go visit him!" Momiji said. "Oh, then again, he probably just wants to spend time with Yuki. Which reminds me... How is Yuki?"
"Uh, well..." I started.
Haru gasped a little and looked up, the butterfly flying away. "Yuki..."
We looked over and saw Yuki walking into the building, at a door some distance away.
"What, is he sick?" Momiji asked worriedly.
"No, not exactly," Miki said.
"Don't worry," Haru said. "I get it." He stood up, and reached his hand down to help Sachiko up. "Yeah... Uh-uh... Figures."
"Hey, Haru," Momiji said. "Is it weird for Aya to leave his shop? I mean, he is the owner."
"Ayame runs his own business?" I asked, raising an eyebrow. Strange that he could do that and take care of himself, I thought.
"That's right," Haru said. "He sells outfits for nurses, stewardesses, maids, things like that."
We stared at him, then scooted closer.
"So then...he makes, uh...uniforms?" Sachiko asked hopefully.
"Well, uh...not exactly," Haru answered.
"Aya says he makes fantasies come true!" Momiji said.
Oh. My. Gosh, was practically written on our faces. Our worst fears were confirmed. Could it be true that there was another pervert in the Sohma family?
I think we all know that that is a thoroughly stupid question.
The five of us went right home from school that day.
"My, my!" Ayame said as we walked in. "This is unexpected!"
"Dammit..." Kyo sighed annoyedly.
"He's here..." Yuki said in disbelief.
"Welcome back!" Shigure said.
"But how nice!" Ayame said. "You boys wanted to see me so badly, you came straight home from school. And here I thought the girls and I would have the whole afternoon to ourselves!"
"That's what we were afraid of!" Kyo and Yuki shouted together.
We looked over at Shigure, and noticed an open book lying on the table.
"What's that you were looking at?" Miki asked.
"Oh, just some old albums of us in our high school days. See? There's Hatori, too!" Ayame said.
We went over and looked at the pictures.
Was Shigure as obsessed with high school girls then as he is now? I thought dryly. Wow, I thought as we looked through the pictures. Shigure and Hatori both look so young! Like little kid versions of themselves... (Duh.) And Ayame looks just like Yuki does now. I can only imagine how Yuki feels about that.
"Pretty cute, weren't we?" Shigure asked.
Maybe, I thought, but, really, they were.
"So you wore your hair long, even when you were in high school, Ayame?" Sachiko asked.
We tried not to draw too much attention to Yuki, who was looking over our shoulders at the pictures as well.
"That's right," Ayame said. "Of course, I had to bend a few rules."
We raised our eyebrows at him.
"Here, Yuki! You come look, too! Now's your chance to learn something new about your brother!"
"I'll pass, thank you," Yuki said, turning away.
"Then you leave me no choice," Ayame said. "I'll simply have to tell you the whole story of how I got to keep my long hair at school."
"What for? !" Yuki snapped.
Ayame continued as if Yuki hadn't spoken. "See...it was the very start of my first year in high school..."
"You like hearin' yourself talk, dont'cha?" Kyo asked.
"Isn't it obvious?" I said.
"I allowed the color, but I didn't allow you to wear your hair long. Have it cut by tomorrow."
"I'm sorry sir...but...I come from a royal family. I've kept it a secret until now, but soon I must return to my own country."
Probably somewhere like Saturn, I thought. Or Pluto. Even though it's technically not a planet anymore.
"And it is our age-old custom that members of the royal family should always wear their hair long, in honor of the high king Rurubara, who, it is said, during the fourth year of his reign, was visited by a divine image. It was Kandra, shimmering with heavenly light of red and gold! Kandra began to chant, 'Ma Rudu Muni!' And a blue light burst forth from his forehead.
"At this moment, Rurubara's true spirit was set free! And just as the vast springs of strength and wisom were swelling within him, so too did his hair begin to sprout forth from his head!
"At this same moment, the prince Kasipaloo, who had been sleeping securely in his bed, let out a mighty cry. 'Kanpanil!' he shouted-"
"Uh, excuse me, I just remembered, I'm late for a very important meeting." The principal turned to walk away.
Ayame put his hand on his shoulder. "But I still have more to tell you about Kandra."
"No! It's fine! Your hair is fine!"
"And that's how I convinced him to let me wear my hair long."
We all hung our heads, either from embarrassment or from shock at such a ridiculous story.
"You're not from a royal family..." Miki said. To Miki's disappointment, Yuki was not actually a prince.
"Duh! He was lying! Come on!" Kyo shouted.
"I knew that! You wanna take this outside, Orange-top? !"
Shigure sighed happily, ignoring the makings of a fight next to him. "Those were the days."
Yuki slapped his hand over his face. "Idiots."
"And here's something else I bet you didn't know," Shigure said. "Aya was Student Council President."
I tried to picture that. Ayame in a big purple, leopard-print coat, with the Student Council band on his arm. Then Hatori walking by and saying, "Quit fooling around. Let's go." And Ayame skipping off after him.
After spending three days with Ayame, it didn't seem that far-fetched.
"He was a natural choice, I suppose," Shigure said. "What with the way he looked and the way he acted, he was really very popular with the other boys." (All-boys school.) "And under his term, many of the old school rules were...relaxed. You certainly had a way about you," he said to Ayame.
"I don't know," Ayame said, chuckling. "I always thought Hari would've made a much better president than me. Do you remember? The time we all went on that class field trip?"
"Of course!" Shigure said. "How could I forget?"
I couldn't believe my ears. Yuki was actually asking Ayame to tell a story? Probably gonna be as ridiculous as the last one, I thought.
"Yes, well, you see...there was a group of students during this trip who, we'll say...wandered into the 'red-light district'."
We all stared at him, wide-eyed.
"Please, reserve your judgment until I've explained. Although, it would've been difficult for any healthy young man to resist this place, we weren't actually the ones that went."
We all slumped over again.
"Of course, it's not like we hadn't seen it before," Shigure said.
"Idiot," Yuki muttered.
"I can't believe he just said that out loud," Kyo said under his breath.
"I can," Miki replied.
"As it happened, one of the teachers found out where they'd gone, and then...it was decided that all of the boys were to be expelled from school. Naturally, as Student Council President, I objected! A meeting was called between the students, their parents, the principal, and the teachers involved."
"For a group of minors to set foor in a red-light district...this is by no means an act to be praised," Ayame said. "Laws are put in place to be obeyed. Otherwise, we lose order. And with that being said, I must also express my concern over what I see as a condemnation of our natual human instincts! I submit that the desires which led these boys astray were fueled by perhaps the most noble of human instincts- the instincts to procreate the species! Should we damn them for feeling these natural urges?"
"Ayame, you're being unusually serious today," the principal said.
"Yes," a teacher said. "Quite a departure from your normal antics."
"At this time," Ayame continued, "I would like to offer you a proposal! Let us offer a hand of rescue to these wayward youths. Let us help them to understand their sometimes confusing natural desires."
He slammed his palms down on the table. "From now on, they may direct their desire toward me!"
They all stared at him in shock and disgust.
"As a chosen representative of this student body, it is only fitting that this heavy burden should fall on my shoulders. And furthermore... Since we will all be boys, parents and teachers will have nothing to fear! So send me your desire! In the service of my fellow students, I am prepared to receive!"
"He's gone mad!"
"Get him out of here!"
Two teachers grabbed Ayame and dragged him out.
He laughed. "Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha! Don't worry! Despite how it looks, I know what I'm doing!"
"This concludes my wonderful story."
"You mean stupid!" Kyo shouted.
"Excuse me!" Ayame said. "But because of that, everyone avoided being expelled."
"How so?" Kyo snapped.
"Well," Shigure said, "after that, Hatori stepped in and said a few words. But Aya was our president, right up until the end."
"You're kidding!" we all cried.
"What do you think, Yuki?" Ayame asked him, smiling. "Has this helped you understand your older brother?"
Yuki smiled back. "I think you should leave."
We suppressed our laughter for Ayame's sake. You could practically see the gap between them.
"Well, I'll have to do better," Ayame said, determined. "Let me tell you about the time I kidnapped the school mascot!"
"No, I really think you should leave."
"It all started one spring morning..."
"Shigure! Get rid of him!" Kyo yelled.
"But why? This is fun!" Shigure said.
"Yes, it's fun!" Ayame agreed.
"You're killin' me here! !" Kyo shouted.
"Even so," Shigure said, "I really don't think he'll listen to me. The only person he does listen to is-"
We all looked up at the familiar voice.
"The door was unlocked, so I let myself in."
"Oh, hi, Hatori," the three of us said.
"Speak of the devil!" Shigure said happily.
"Hari!" Ayame cried. "To what do we owe the pleasure?"
Sachiko smiled, as if proud that he was the reason. I laughed a little and she elbowed me in the side.
"He said I should come take you home." Hatori sighed. "So why don't you wrap things up here...and we'll go."
"Well, then, bye-bye!"
We all looked at Ayame in shock. For Hatori, getting rid of Ayame was that easy? !
Ayame turned to Yuki. "I guess with all the commotion, you and I didn't get to talk much," he said.
"Weren't you the one causing the commotion?" Yuki said under his breath.
Ayame ignored him. "But don't worry. You'll see me again, little brother."
Why does that sound like a threat? I wondered.
"Alright, Hari. Ready when you are. Until next time, Shigure!"
"Yes! Now it's my turn to visit you!"
We three stood.
Ayame winked at us. "Farewell, everyone!" he called, waving. He laughed and followed Hatori. "So, are we walking?"
"I brought the car."
"Good! Can I drive?"
We sat in silence for a few moments.
"What...was that all about?" Kyo asked, his hand on his forehead.
"Yeah," Miki said. "How come we practically beg him to leave and he just gets more annoying, and then Hatori walks in and says, 'We're leaving'-" She dropped her voice to imitate Hatori's. "-and Ayame just jumps up and skips out the door?"
"As long as I remember," Shigure said as we looked at him, "Hari's been the only one who can tell Aya what to do. Aya really admires him. He sees a lot of good qualities in Hatori that he's always wished he had in himself. But, since he doesn't, he figures staying close to Hari is the next best thing. He actually told me that once. And with a straight face, no less.
"Anyway," he said, looking up from the closed photo album and smiling, "letting Hari boss him around is just one way Aya shows his admiration."
Hmm, I thought. I guess I can understand that... Taking Hatori's direction is Ayame's way of saying he respects his opinion and guidance, I suppose. But that still doesn't make him any less of a handful.
"I'm sorry about this," Ayame said to Hatori as they walked to the car. "Putting you to all this trouble..."
"If that's the way you feel," Hatori said, "maybe you should think before you act."
"I did think," Ayame near-whined. "I thought I'd be able to get Yuki to open up to me a little bit."
"I wouldn't let it bother you just yet," Hatori said. "Yuki is still very young. Give him some time to figure things out on his own. There's no need to rush."
Ayame smiled a little. "You know, in a way, the girls reminded me of you. They're very good about considering other people's feelings. At least, they're much better at it than I am."
He laughed a little. And like you, he thought, they have a way of telling me exactly what I need to hear.
[Back at the house]
"Ayame's stories were...interesting," Miki said to Yuki as the two of them did the dishes.
"That man needs some serious help," Yuki said.
She laughed a little. "You're probably right."
She looked at him.
"The way he's not afraid to show his admiration... You know, when he sees good qualities he'd like to have in other people. That's...that's good."
"You might not always agree, but you can always meet half-way."
Miki smiled at him and nodded. "Yeah, it is."
[The next day at school]
Yuki found Haru in front of his locker. He switching his tennis shoes for his boots.
He looked up at Yuki.
"Listen I...I just want to say thank you for worrying about me."
Haru smiled at him. "Sure."
"Besides, it's just more fun to think that way, you know?"
"Oh, we forgot to ask Ayame what kind of shop he has that sells outfits for nurses and maids to see if our theory was right," I said at lunch.
"Well, what was your theory?" Sachiko asked me.
"What was yours?" I asked back.
"What was yours, Miki?" Sachiko asked.
We all looked at each other. "A lingerie store," we said together. We sighed.
"That's Ayame for you," I said. "Completely and totally insane."