Heaven Within Hell (Part 3)
by BrDPirateMan

The morning sun shone through the window, waking me up as its warm light kissed my face.

The apartment was silent, save for the occasional song of a bird outside. When I looked out, the snowstorm was long gone, all traces of its winter fury vanished from existence. In fact, everything looked relatively normal out on the streets. People rushing to wherever they needed to go, waiting for the bus, and doing various other things.

It felt so peaceful that I almost forgot about the series of torturous events that I was subjected to last night.

For better or worse, I was glad that it was Shiki who was drunk and not me. If it was me, I was sure that, with my muddled head, I would outrage her modesty and do things to her that are better left unsaid…

Looks like Shiki was still asleep… perhaps I should enjoy this quietness while I had the chance, before she woke up and found out that she was sleeping on my bed in just her underwear. That would be quite bad for –

"AAAAAAAGGHHH! ! !"

Talk about sick coincidences. That was Shiki's voice, screaming with raw anger. Now she was up. Right, where was I? Yeah, that would be quite bad for me. And I think she already found out by now.

Despite the bloating fear in my stomach, I rushed over to my room where she was to see if she was okay. The moment I swung the door open, I ate a punch to the face and fell like a beetle on its back.

"Knock before entering!" she roared as I lay on the floor, stunned from the impact of the blow.

"Ow…" Through slightly hazy vision I watched her scramble to slip on her dress shirt in a hurry. She was so mad that she didn't even bother to button up before jumping atop me. Straddling my body, she grabbed me by the shirt and shook me hard.

"What is the meaning of this? !" she shouted, eyes burning red with rage. "Why am I naked? ! Did you take my clothes off while I was asleep? !"

"N-No! You're mistaken!" I yelped, as she shook me again, my head wagging back and forth like a dog's tail. "It was you who took them off by yourself!"

"What? ! Nice try!" She didn't believe me at all. Not surprising as it was obvious that she didn't remember a single thing from last night.

I tried once more to explain and clear my poor name. But a combination of leftover morning sleepiness and a frazzled mind made my explanation less than stellar. "I'm telling the truth! You… I won a staring match with you, and you stripped for me!"

"That's ridiculous! I stripped for you? !" Flecks of spit were spraying out of her mouth. "Where's your proof? ! Huh? Huh? !"

Like an idiot, I replied, "Uh… th-the proof that you stripped for me… is… uh… you're the proof."

"What? !"

"Y-You're s-s-still indecent, Sh-Shiki."

She looked down at herself, and that was when she realized that apart from her unbuttoned dress shirt, all she was wearing was her underwear. And that I was looking straight at her barely clothed body. With a nose that was starting to bleed freely once more. Goodness, even the insufficiently-clad Eri was more covered-up than her! A burgundy hue had developed on Shiki's cheeks. Embarrassment was mixed in with rising anger and an urge to kill.

Yup, she was sober now. But I kinda wished she was drunk for a little while longer. That would have given me ample time to think up of a way to cover up for what she did to herself. Failing that, I could always leave the country before things got ugly, so I could be safe and away from the reach of her flesh-rending claws. Hmmm… Fiji seemed like a nice place, what with the ukeleles and coconut juice and a lei around my neck with the warm sun on my face. Wait, was that Hawaii? I wasn't too sure.

Oh well, it was a nice life while it lasted. I guess I'd have to play the Reapers' Game all over again…

Her eye was twitching. "K-K-K-…" And then…

"KYAAAAAAAH! ! !"

She whacked me in the chin with an uppercut that was so strong that it launched me right out from underneath her. My body slid across the linoleum like a torpedo and I smashed into the opposite wall headfirst, leaving a cloud of dust and falling rubble. I was secretly hoping that the hangover she would probably have this morning could soften her up and make her less lethal to me, but I guess I was wrong.

She hurried out of my room, stepping over my limp body (with her shirt still hanging freely open, I noticed) so she could reach the bathroom where her original clothes were being hung to dry. I heard the frantic rustling of fabric from inside and in the blink of an eye she came out fully clothed, heading for the front door.

"Shiki, w-wait!" I cried, getting up on unsteady feet, racing into the living room with my head battered and bleeding. "Please don't misunderstand me! I'm innocent!"

She spat like a spitting cobra, "Huh! And I'm not? !"

"You were drunk, Shiki!" I cried, holding up the beer can that she had drunk from last night. "Honest! This was what you were drinking!"

She eyed it and snorted. "I was drunk? With green tea? ! A likely story!"

My gaze darted to the can that was the cause of all the trouble. Only thing was, it wasn't the can that was the cause of all the trouble. It was my can of green tea, not her can of beer! Oops!

I swiped the real can off of the coffee table to show her, but she had already put on her coat and was preparing to leave. She glanced at me with tears in her venom-coated eyes, growling, "Neku… I… I…

"…I hate you!"

With her scarf in hand, not bothering to wrap it around her neck – so hurried was she to get the heck away from me – she wrenched the front door handle with frightening forcefulness and stormed off in a huff.

Her words echoed in my head. I hate you! I hate you! I hate you! No, this wasn't how things should be… I had to catch up with her! If she went straight to the police and claimed that I had molested her in her sleep, I would probably go to jail and never see her again…

The thought was too much for me to bear.

In record time I slapped on a few outdoor clothes and fled out the door, screaming, "No! Shiki! Waaaaait! ! !"

XOXOXOXOXO

"Wait!" I shouted, chasing after Shiki. "Wait up! WAIT! ! !"

I showed little care for the bystanders who were staring at me with eyes wide open. I was quickly growing red from embarrassment, redder than the reddest apple in history, but I didn't really care. There were worse things in this world than being labeled as a maniac by society… like losing Shiki's trust.

I tried to catch up with her, but she ran so very fast. It was a race against time and fate but I was losing. Was there a cheat code for maximum running speed that worked in real-life? Because I needed it now.

Shiki… We had worked so hard to nurture our friendship. The pain, the laughter… we shared it all. To see it all go out in a puff of smoke would be the worst thing to ever happen to me.

I willed my muscles to double my running speed, but it was still barely enough. She was still terribly far away. To make matters worse, my antics had caught the attention of a pair of policemen who were presumably on patrol duty. They stopped me dead in my tracks and the first thing they asked was, "Son, what's that can you have in your hand? It wouldn't be beer, would it?"

Like a scene from a nightmare, I suddenly realized that I was still holding the beer can in my hand. Oh, brother.

"Heineken? !" exclaimed the first policeman who had imposed the aforementioned question upon me, "You look much too young to be drinking at your age!"

"Son, you're coming with us," said the second policeman sternly, clapping his hand on my arm. His work buddy did the same thing with my other arm. "The fact that you were running and shouting like crazy is another cause of concern for us."

"Wait," I protested, as they started to drag me away to the nearest police box. "Wait, I can explain… It's not what you think it is… Just listen to me! ! !"

XOXOXOXOXO

Being interrogated by two policemen was the least pleasant mishap to happen to me. I had to answer so many questions, all the while enduring their penetrating glares. Looks like "Laser-Eye Neku" found a couple of worthy rivals…

Eventually, after a lot of persuasion and a bit of bluffing on my part, I was let go, but not without a harsh warning. I was lucky that they decided to show me some mercy and not even take me as a first offender. They just kept drilling in my head over and over that I should stay away from alcohol at such a young age, and so on and so forth. I left the police box feeling like I had lost a million yen, or a chunk of my flesh, or… ah, forget it. You get the picture. I felt terrible.

Never mind about them. I seriously thought I was destined to spend the rest of my life in the slammer. But what worried me even more was that Shiki was mad at me.

I had to patch things up with her. Yeah… I had to apologise!

All this trouble from one little can of beer! Dammit…!

My quest to look for the missing Shiki ended as soon as it began, however. Scarcely a few steps were taken before I noticed her standing under a tree not too far away from where I was. She was watching me intently, as though observing an animal in its natural habitat, but even though she knew I saw her, she didn't try to hide or conceal her presence.

This was perfect timing. I jogged over, but the scowl on her face made me wince a little. And when I approached her, she twirled her head to one side, refusing to make eye contact.

"Um, Shiki…" I said carefully, "Wh-What are you doing here?"

"What kind of idiot gets arrested by the police?" she snapped, feeling bitter.

Ouch… She stabbed me where I bled the worst. "It's only because I was holding a beer can in my hand. But anyway, were you here the whole time?"

"Don't get me wrong, Neku," she said, ignoring my question altogether. "It's not like I was worried about you. I was just curious to see what was happening."

Uh-huh… You just keep telling yourself that, Shiki. She came back for me… I guess she still cared about me, even though she hated my guts. But that's the thing; I didn't want her to hate my guts anymore!

I wanted to apologise, to say how sorry and careless and dumb I was, and to say that I still needed her and cared for her. I also wanted to explain everything and clean my slate. And hopefully, if I had said the right words, we could be back to being friends. …Hopefully.

Shiki refused to even set the corners of her eyes at me, opting instead to look sharply away, arms crossed in a show of anger. But I couldn't talk if she was like this.

"Um, I need to talk to you," I said as politely as I could; I was trying to tame a wild animal here. "So could you look at me? Please?" No response. Her head was still stubbornly swiveled to the opposite side.

"Um, Shiki?" I walked around to her left, where she was facing, and she immediately turned right.

"Hey…" When I appeared to her right, she swung to the left again.

No good. Hmmm… I had one idea, though…

"…Mr Mew is a pig."

In a split second her head snapped towards me as she yelled, "HE'S A CAT, YOU IDIOT!"

Whoa, whoa… That got her attention now, but she was glaring daggers at me, steam was rising from her head, and her fangs were bared. I had no idea how frightening she could appear when she was mad, but now I knew. She almost looked like she was ready to burn me to a crisp with her fire breath or grow a pair of horns on her head and gore me to death. Staying around her any longer was a very risky affair and I wished I had at least a metal shield, but horrible mental imagery aside, I still had some explaining to do. And a whole lot more apologizing.

Her eyes were slightly puffy from crying. Poor Shiki. I had failed in my duty as a gentleman and friend. I actually made her cry, and the worst part was, I didn't do a single thing!

"What do you want? !" she demanded.

I chose my words as carefully as a fussy chef might pick out his ingredients. "Shiki, I understand that you're still angry and I doubt you'll ever forgive me, but I'm sorry. I truly am. I want to explain myself."

She bit her lip painfully. "I don't even know what's going on," she said, "All I know is that I woke up in your bed without my clothes on. Neku, tell me, you gotta tell me… What did you do? !"

"I didn't do anything to you! All I wanted to do was to get you some of my dad's green tea. But it's my fault that I accidentally took one of his beers instead. I gave it to you, you got drunk, and… well, the rest is history."

"Are you serious? ! You clumsy oaf!" she spluttered, panicking. "I can't believe you'd make a mistake like that! And what do you mean, 'the rest is history'? ! Neku, did you and I… Did we have s–"

I was sure she was referring to us kissing in the shower last night. Hmmm… Better be smart and break the news to her as gently but truthfully as possible.

"Um, y-yeah… Actually, you made the first move, you know."

Her voice shrunk to a horrified whisper. "I… I did? !"

I scratched the back of my head. She was getting visibly worried, but she still had to know the whole story. "Yeah… Um, you couldn't hold your alcohol, and got seriously tipsy. So it wasn't really your fault or anything. I mean, you weren't exactly conscious of what you were doing."

"But I could do it even while I was drunk?"

My face grew red thinking back to the shocking things that she did. Hers, on the other hand, was drenched of colour, taking on a ghostly pale undertone. "Y-Yes… you were very… uh, forceful? Anyway, it's not like anything bad happened, so that's it, I guess…"

"No!" Shiki looked very alarmed from all the information she was getting but she was also eager to know more. "You have to tell me! What are you saying, that 'it's not like anything bad happened'? ! This kind of thing shouldn't be taken lightly!"

"Sorry, Shiki… You're right. I shouldn't keep information from you. It was our first time after all…"

She gasped and cupped her mouth in her hands in horror. "Our… first time?"

Having to talk about this was severely embarrassing, but Shiki had a right to know. "It was very kinky… It's awfully weird to have to talk about it, but if you insist to know, then I can't argue…"

Despite her discomfort, she pressed on, "H-How did I start to do it? What exactly did I do?"

I was trembling for a good reason, and I could barely look at her. "For starters, you, uh… took off your clothes…" Her breath got caught in her throat when she heard this, but it wouldn't get any easier for her… "I happened to be in the bathroom at that time, and… and… you shoved me into the shower, and…"

"W-We did it in a shower? !" she exclaimed, getting fidgety fast. I wouldn't be too surprised if she started running around in circles screaming.

I wasn't feeling all that great either. I just knew my nose was going to act up sooner or later. "Yes! Uh, I mean, yes. Ahem." Didn't want to sound excited over something like this… "Once we were inside, then we… you know."

"I can't believe it." Shiki was blushing violently. "Did we go that far?"

"It's as far as far gets," I replied, trying to hide my red face in my hand. "I don't know how long it took, but I think it was about two minutes long and then you collapsed and fell asleep. After that, I took you back to my bed and left you be."

"It was so intense that I collapsed? ! Oh my god! ! !" Her face was contorted like badly kneaded pizza dough.

"Uh, no, more like you passed out from the alcohol," I corrected her. "So yeah, th-that's how it went."

No more words were exchanged between us for a good while. We just stared at each other, not knowing what to do. Kissing was such a sensitive topic to talk about. I'd rather go on stage in front of a large audience and cluck like a chicken.

Her entire body was shaking, and her fists were clenched so tightly that her knuckles turned white. Her blank face betrayed the despair that lay within. Apologies wouldn't be enough to soothe her broken heart, so I had to do something. But before I could utter another word, she exploded, "We… we actually had sex? !"

"What? !" I recoiled in shock, quickly noticing that the bystanders nearby who had heard us did the same thing. "K-Keep your voice down, Shiki! And what on earth are you going on about? !"

"Neku!" she seethed, close to crying, "Y-You could have stopped me! Why did you have to do it? ! Now I'm –"

"Stop! Wait! What did you say we did last night? !"

"Ask yourself, Mr Obvious!" she spat, "Both of us had sex, you idiot! How could you take advantage of me, knowing I was drunk? !"

We what? What made her think that? How did she come to that conclusion? There must have been a loss in translation somewhere… I rewound our conversation in my head, recalling important points. Was there something that I said that was a double entendre? Let's see…

She had said, "…And what do you mean, 'the rest is history'? ! Neku, did you and I… Did we have s–"

That's when I said, "Um, y-yeah… Actually, you made the first move, you know."

Oh… that must have started it all. The word starting with "s" that she wanted to say. After that, the whole conversation just went astray. No wonder she was acting extra fidgety. And here I thought we were talking about the kiss!

"Shiki! Listen to me!"

"No! I wouldn't listen!" she sniffled, "There's nothing else to be said! But I expect you to take full responsibility for what you just did!"

"We didn't have sex, for goodness' sake!" I huffed, eager to dump my explanation on her all in one go, "All we did was kiss in the shower! And if it satisfies your curiosity, you still had your underwear on, I was still fully clothed, and we never took a bath together. Nothing of the sort you mentioned just now happened! Nothing!"

Her tears stopped flowing. Another awkward silence overcame us, and at the end of it, all she could say was a puzzled-sounding "Eh?"

"I'm serious, Shiki! We didn't have… We didn't do it at all! Sure, the alcohol intoxicated you, but we never did it! It's the truth!"

Like a wide-eyed owl, she blinked once. Twice. "R-Really? Th-Then a-am I still a vir–"

"Yes, you are! And please don't say things like that in public!" Geez, please don't embarrass me any further, Shiki!

"Shiki, I could never bring myself to do something like that to you!" I continued, reiterating my innocence. "The whole night last night, you may have been in a state of helplessness, unable to fend for yourself, but I never once did anything to you. I didn't even touch a single hair on your head!"

"…Y-You didn't?" she asked in a very small voice.

"I'd never do anything to harm you, or make you feel bad. C'mon, man, you're… you're the person whom I care about the most!" That was a bit over-the-top, but at least it was straight from my heart. And that's what counted! Heh, this would make me look good in her eyes too. It was a double win!

The problem seemed resolved, but she still looked worried. "So you gave me beer by mistake, and in my drunken state, I did lots of strange things to you…"

"Um, that sounds about right, but you weren't all that crazy, to be honest." Which was a total lie. Because she was completely crazy. But how could I tell her that?

"I guess both of us are to blame for what happened, huh?" she sighed. Her demonic anger was mercifully subsiding and she began to transform back into a normal human being again. "I'm… I'm sorry, Neku… I was careless with myself, and I even jumped to conclusions and hit you…"

"No, at the end of the day, it's my fault to begin with," I said, "Mistaking beer for tea is just… sad. I'm awfully sorry."

"Well, it wasn't exactly pleasant to know that I got a personality transplant last night, but for now I'm just glad that nothing… permanently harmful happened between us."

"Uh… yeah, that's right. Permanent." If I had been less careful, we might have… I shuddered to think of the possibilities. According to a cynical parent, kids nowadays are getting braver in dealing with romance. In her own words, "one small peck on the cheek is all it'll take to have grandchildren."

"So, uh, Shiki," I gulped, "Can we still be friends?"

"I'm happy that you're still someone whom I can trust," she said, "Any boy would have done something to me by now, but by the looks of it, you didn't. In fact, it was I who did something to you." She frowned, still mortified at the reality of everything. "But… if you don't mind, I… I really want to stay friends with you."

"Hey," I smiled good-naturedly. "It's all fine. Now how about we forget about everything that's happened and go grab a ramen? You haven't had your breakfast, right?"

As though in response to my question, I heard a growl coming from the direction of Shiki's stomach. It was disturbingly audible.

"Urk!" she blurted, "I guess I really am hungry…"

"By the way," I said, "how's your… um, headache?"

"Headache?" Suddenly, she winced, pain searing through her head. "Ow!" Looks like her hangover was still an unresolved issue…

"You idiot, Neku!" she grumbled, "Out of all the drinks in your fridge you had to give me beer!"

"W-Well, I did say I'm sorry…"

The worst was over. Shiki and I were back on talking terms, and nothing could quite say how relieved I was. I made a note in my head to send my thanks to the stars. As we were heading towards Ramen Don, she spoke up again, slowly to cushion the pain in her head.

"Sorry again, Neku… and thanks."

"Thanks?" My face was a picture of puzzlement. "For what?"

"Well…" she looked down at her feet, blushing slightly. "You said that everything about me is beautiful. Nobody has ever called me beautiful before."

That sounded familiar. Where had I heard this?

Whoa, wait a minute, I knew! Yesterday, she said…

"Nobody has ever called me beautiful before. I've always been a plain Jane… nobody took notice of me, or cared about me. Hearing you say this makes me so glad."

So she didn't go completely amnesiac after the effect of the alcohol wore off, huh? She remembered this part! So did my confession count? …Yeah, it definitely did!

"Confess to Shiki: DONE; she heard it, she remembered it, and she liked it! Today's a freakin' festival! Whooo!"

That's one more thing off of that mental checklist. Yes!

XOXOXOXOXO

A couple of days passed and my parents were still away on their business trip.

This year's winter happened to be particularly heavy on snow. As I leaned against the window with nothing to do, I found myself trying to count the snowflakes that flitted by. I lost count at around fifty-two and gave up. I guess I really was bored, huh… If only Shiki was here so we could talk and while away the hours.

Oh right, I hadn't told you, but we're together now. We're an official couple. Sure, we had a less than amazing start to our relationship, but it took off well enough anyway. And here we are, enveloped in love and bliss. In time to come we would go on dates and all that stuff; exactly what we would do, it was too early to tell. But gosh darn it, life is so beautiful.

The doorbell rang and I had a strange feeling. Mum and Dad wouldn't be back so soon, so could it be… Shiki? Again? Don't tell me she got caught in the snow another time…

What was it about the laws of the universe that worked in such weird ways? When I opened the door, there she was, standing before me with damp clothes.

"Hi, Neku…" she giggled, embarrassed.

"Shiki, you really have to stop building snowmen all at the wrong times," I chuckled, letting her in. "I'm assuming you're going to need a bath."

"Ah, yes, please," she said, scratching the back of her head shyly, "Sorry to ask favours from you again."

Not knowing what to say next, I just flashed her a small smile and led her to the bathroom where I turned on the heater. My thoughts turned to the events of that crazy day. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't shake off the image of her turning into a drunken seductress. The memory was only two days old and still fresh. How could I forget the sight of her in that cute underwear of hers? If I could just think like a normal person for even five minutes, this world would be a better place for me to live in.

As though she could sense my discomfort, Shiki nudged me in the arm. "Hey, Neku. You still here? Are you caught up in your little dream world again?"

I lied, "Ah, sorry, I was just trying to remember the name of a song that's stuck in my head right now. Don't worry about it, though."

She said nothing, fixing me with a quizzical look.

"Okay, it's all yours," I said, having taken some spare clothes from my closet for her to wear. I was about to return to the living room and wait for her to finish washing up, when she grabbed me by the arm and pulled me back. Apparently there was something she had to say.

I turned to her. "Need anything else, Shiki? I gave you your clothes and towel already, right?"

"Yeah," she mumbled, her voice strangely meek. "But there's just a little thing that's been on my mind, Neku."

"What's that?" I cocked my head slightly to one side, in a display of curiosity.

"I hate to dredge things up when I really shouldn't. Let bygones be bygones, right?"

"Is this about two days ago?"

"Well…" She looked away, colour filling her cheeks. "Y-Yes, but I'm not about to nitpick the little things that went wrong that day, although what I want to say is related…"

I didn't want to have to talk about this anymore if I could help it. But I let her talk. "Go on…"

"It's just… um…"

She glanced at me with a look on her face that was both adorably demure and devilishly coquettish at the same time. With an innocuous smile, hands wringing together nervously, and the greatest blush in the world, she said…

"S-Still wanna take a bath with me?"

Her words hit me like a punch to the gut. "Wh-Wh-What? !"

"You did tell me that I lost that staring match, right?" She smiled sweetly.

"Shiki!" My whole body was paralysed and trembling like a dry leaf. I hadn't gotten her drunk again, had I? No, that wasn't possible. I had not given her anything to drink yet. So why was she saying things like this? ! Was she actually willing to bathe with me…? ! What the heck? !

She was taken aback somewhat by my outburst. "Wh-What's… wrong? I thought to make it up to you f-for what I did to you that day, and… and… y-you probably like stuff like this, a-a-and –"

"Shiki, this… this is a bit too soon!" I blurted, the words coming out all warped and warbled because of my quivering throat. I was this close to spraying blood out of my nose. "Look, I'm glad that you're my friend, and I'm glad you feel the same way about me, but… l-let's not do this now. It's… I… I don't want to hurt your feelings, and cause any more misunderstandings… And… and…"

Suddenly she lurched forward and pressed herself against me in a tight hug. Her clothes were soaked but she didn't look like she cared that my shirt that she was gripping in vice-like fingers was getting damp.

Bewilderment overcame me. "Sh-Shiki?"

"Thank goodness," she sighed, in a tone of relief, as she nuzzled into my chest. "I was afraid that you might have second thoughts about me."

"What?"

"I figured that you might hate me or think I'm some crazy girl. I know I was drunk and I wasn't myself, and you'd probably understand that, but… I had to make sure."

So that's why she was like this. She must have been really troubled that I might think of her as a pervert. Those eyes of hers, on hindsight, were the eyes of someone who was worried for the worst. I wrapped my arms around her lithe frame and held her close. Trying to sound cool, I said cryptically, "You're going to catch a cold, Shiki. But I still love you."

"Um… I'll take that as a good sign," she giggled.

Without warning, and surprising even myself, I swooped in for a very quick peck on her lips. She gasped.

"What happened two days ago may have been the craziest thing," I said, "but I don't want it to impact our relationship. I love you and I want to stay with you. And I hope that someday, we can look back and just laugh about it as a fond memory of our teenage years. Like you said, can we let bygones be bygones?"

"Y-Yeah…" She had no idea how to react, still dazed from our half-second long kiss.

I could feel her pushing me away gently so I broke the hug short. "Th-Thank you, Neku… That's… sweet of you. I'll go wash up now," she said, retreating inside the bathroom. One romantic crisis averted. And she called me "sweet"! Ah… the waves of emotion that were splashing inside my heart…

Then she paused in her tracks for a second before turning back. "S-Sure you don't wanna join me? I… I don't mind…" Her face was a nice shade of maroon.

I hurriedly slapped my hand over my nostrils to prevent possible spillage. "N-No, it's perfectly alright!"

The ghost of a smile leaked from the corner of her mouth. "Maybe next time."

With that, she disappeared behind the bathroom door. As soon as it clicked shut, blood immediately gushed out of my nose. I had been holding it in the whole time Shiki was talking to me and now it was useless to stop the crimson tide as it leaked in rivulets through my fingers.

"She's so cute…" I mumbled to myself, "…but I've had enough of anemia for a lifetime." Maybe next time? Sharing a bath with my dream girl… scrubbing her back, soaping her legs, and sponging her neck? Boy, I couldn't wait for that day to happen, but at the same time the very prospect was frightening… My hands were shivering uncontrollably at the mere thought.

I've got a girlfriend at last… and I'm scared.

Author's note:

Just a short ramble. I'm a big fan of manga, and while scouring the net, I found a manga character whom I think would look very much like Shiki Misaki. In "The Secret Recipe" by artist Morinaga Milk, the bespectacled, bob-haired president of the Cooking Club looks like the perfect image. She's so cute! Be warned, though: "The Secret Recipe" is a yuri manga. Nothing M-rated in it, but if you don't like girl-love, then do stay away.

I can't state the URL here for fear that it might go against the rules of our beloved fanfiction website (it probably wouldn't but it can't hurt to be safe), but the manga itself is easily found with a quick Google search (there are several sites from which you can access "The Secret Recipe").