*dies the moment she shows her face*

... Yeah. Um... Sorry? :D College. Being swamped. Not used to so many papers. Given my update rate in things I'm actually interested in, you guys can probably guess just how successfully I can write a ten page paper on atom bombs and American reforms. The answer? Not at all.

But this was just sitting here, so I got it to a passable ending point and decided to give you guys something. I'm not sure when the next chapter will be up (hopefully once the semester ends) but in the meantime this is a treat! I hope.

So, fans of Aberration, do you remember that blonde girl from Rae's past? The one that gets so little screentime there? Well here she is! ... And yes, this is how she is in both stories.

Happy Thanksgiving! And Happy Katanakka!


"The FUN has ARRIVED~!" The door slammed open. Kakashi paused in his potato peeling, the two dogs at his feet looking up in mild interest.

… Well, that definitely wasn't Rae. It was five in the morning; Rae didn't like mornings at all. This he learned when she had stumbled out at six one morning, late for some kind of request at work but far too grumpy to care. He'd learned to stay out of her way then; only Guruko could get within five paces of her without getting verbally chewed out. The dog was still there after five weeks, amazingly enough. One more mouth to feed, but good company.

But it was almost irking that the little animal had taken to their host to the point where he would go watery-eyed at the thought of being sent back to the summon realm. Kakashi would never admit to anyone alive, but his dogs were just about the closest thing he had to family. Years of training them grew a soft spot just for them, and he was particularly fond of puppies.

But now he was focused on the voice that was babbling English nonsense as it drifted around the apartment, somewhat scolding as he carefully crept out with the knife still in his hand. A tall, blonde woman around Rae's age picked up his pile of laundry with a frown, tossing it back with a sniff. She stalked over to the window and all but threw it open, and Kakashi instantly pulled up his mask with a grimace. Pakkun was already holding back a gag.

"DON'T MAKE ME COME BACK THERE!" Kakashi frowned as the woman began to storm down the hall; she didn't seem like a burglar, but her words didn't sound friendly either. An enemy with some sort of bad intentions towards his hostess?

It was his business in that moment, stepping out of the kitchen with a cough. The woman whirled instantly, sea foam eyes wide as they took in his form. Her gaze dropped then to the knife in his hand that he twirled casually with a friendly smile.

It was when she began to scream that he made his move, tying her up and setting her on the couch in quick movements. He quickly tied a strip of cloth over her mouth, having learned from experience what women of this world would do to intruders. But this one looked more like she was about to cry, eyes already welling up in tears of fright as she screamed through the gag. Kakashi considered her a bit more thoroughly as he held her in place, frowning. She didn't seem like a thief or murderer… But then appearances were deceiving; as a shinobi, it was his very job.

Her purse was sitting on the couch as Pakkun walked in, giving the woman a sniff. Kakashi rummaged through it, but so far all he found were rather typical feminine objects and… Oh. He picked up a small device, turning it over in his hands curiously. It was one of those radio things he'd seen; the first he'd actually held however. He gave one of the buttons and experimental push, noting the dim sound it made.

Very strange. Guruko hopped up on the couch, large teeth bared at the blonde who was crying by now, whimpering unintelligible words.

"Who are you?" Kakashi asked her, eye narrowed as she stared with wide eyes. "How did you get in?" She gave no indication of understanding however, so he left the gag where it was.

Now what to do? The man considered this for all of two moments before shrugging, picking up his knife and walking back into the kitchen. He continued with the potatoes like nothing had happened, leaving the dogs to guard the woman. Rae would wake up later- she could call her so-called po-lice or identify the woman. She was probably a friendly, but…

Well, better safe than sorry. Kakashi hummed as he diced the potatoes in quick motions, setting them in the frying pan and walking to the refrigerator. He pulled out eggs as he listened to the woman's struggles slowly die down, though a growl from Pakkun told him she wasn't being completely compliant.

Rae didn't wake up for another half hour, her customary grumbles stopping short as he heard her stop at the living room. He braced himself as he heard what sounded like curses, along with the woman struggling again.

"Kakashi!" Kakashi sighed, setting the pan off the burner as he walked out. Rae was undoing the woman's bindings with a heavy scowl, face twitching.

"I thought she was a burglar," he only said, turning back to the kitchen as he watched the woman sob and hold Rae tightly, spilling out broken English words in a blubbering voice and likely telling all the horrible tales of how the masked man had violated her in every way imaginable.

Civilians. Kakashi snorted as he listened to Rae's placating voice; he could hear the obvious humoring in it. So dramatic. But when she called him again her voice was still angry and hard; he was in trouble, damn it all.

"Yo," he said as he walked out, watching the woman flinch and Rae sigh.

"Kakashi, this is Paige," she said, gesturing to the blonde. "She's a friend of mine- doesn't speak much Japanese. She has a key."

"Ah." Kakashi nodded in understanding as Rae began talking to the woman in English. He waved when he heard his name, but Paige glowered at him before snapping something in a hard voice. "… What is she saying?" Rae sighed quietly.

"She wants you to apologize." Kakashi blinked. He didn't think he had to apologize; his actions were justified. He thought he saw a burglar, so he tied her up. If anything, she should thank him that he didn't kill her on the spot. Entering like that, going through his stuff, opening the window… "Just to placate her," Rae added when he didn't answer. "I know you were just trying to be helpful, but she's a pain if she doesn't get apologized to. Trust me." Well, as long as someone knew he was in the right…

"How do you say 'sorry'?" he asked with a sigh, watching how that same strange look crossed the dark-haired woman's face. He couldn't figure out why it happened every time he asked for a translation; it was practical and sensible to ask and learn, so she shouldn't look like it partially amused her each and every time.

"Sorry," Rae pronounced after a moment, enunciating the sounds. He watched her lip movements as she repeated the word, expression of intense concentration as he memorized the word.

"Soh. Ree," Kakashi repeated carefully, and the expression grew until there was a ghost of a smile on her face. He ignored it. "Sohrree." He tried again, and she nodded in approval as he turned his gaze to the angry-looking blonde. "Sohrree," he chirped in as light of a tone as he could manage, flashing a peace sign. She didn't look happy, but he turned and walked back into the kitchen with a shrug. Her happiness wasn't his problem.

But at least he learned another word in his growing vocabulary. Sorry.

… Not one he thought he'd be using all too often, but what the heck.

"I don't like him." Rae sighed through a bite of potato and egg, casting a glance to the blonde woman sitting beside her at the table.

Paige Harris was, in many ways, the complete opposite of Rae. Not only in just hair and eye coloring; she dressed far more extravagantly as well, bright colors that she splashed together in what she declared was an unappreciated form of true art. She was twenty-one, just a year older than Rae, and going to a nice college just miles outside the dirty little city.

And it was a habit of hers to storm into her apartment every chance she got, criticizing Rae's self-inflicted hermit status, her lack of a good job, her anti-social behavior, and most of all, her lack of good food.

Kakashi had gotten rid of most of those, though she didn't say so out loud. Because as far as Rae was concerned, the man was an usurper of her damn happy life and she would be glad when he finally left. Though she would miss his cooking; he was a very good cook.

… And Guruko. Rae idly flicked a piece of egg off the table, not looking to confirm that Guruko had snapped it up with a look of glee on his doggy muzzle. So cute…

"I saw that." Kakashi didn't even look away from the dish he was washing. Rae scowled and continued eating, tuning back in to Paige's complaints.

"That mask! What is with that mask!" She glared sideways at the man. "I thought he was some kind of murderer- some sick, twisted thing that cut you up and was cooking you in your own kitchen! It could have happened because you-"

"Does he count?" Rae retorted, scowl growing. "Because from what I saw, I would think I'm pretty safe from any intruders at the moment." Paige paused, then sighed suddenly, taking another bite of egg.

"I know, I know… You think I'm being annoying." She set down her fork and stood, a determined look on her face. "But that doesn't excuse this! Letting some stranger come into your home and sleep on your couch- he could be some kind of fugitive, Rae! How did you even meet him?" He appeared in her home one day with his dog and told her he was staying. Rae's face didn't twitch outwardly, but she did consider telling this woman the truth just so she could take him off her hands.

But she could handle this. The thought brought a crease to her scowl. She didn't need Paige to go through her life and tell her right from wrong, and she didn't need Kakashi to criticize her either!

"I forget," she growled, picking up the plate. Kakashi offered to take it but she stalked past him with a glower, forcefully shoving the plate in the sink and scrubbing it.

"You mean you don't want to tell me," Paige retorted, following with her own plate. "Let me guess, you met him on the street and he needed a home, so you just took him in without a single thought!"

"I'm not that naïve!" Rae snapped, scrubbing harder; damn ketchup stains. "And he's been here for weeks- He's not that much trouble!"

"Your microwave and television are missing!" Paige folded her arms. "What? You just decided to throw them out the window or something?" Rae did twitch this time. But she didn't answer. "For God's sake, Rae! What's next? Him taking you in the middle of the night and going to heaven knows-"

"I can handle it myself!" Rae almost jumped when a hand suddenly gripped her wrist, the water shutting off. Kakashi pried the plate out of her hands and she realized there was a mark in the sink from her scratching the edge of the plate against it, along with a chip on the plate itself. Her fingers uncurled with a slight pain as the man quietly dried the plate, putting it away.

He walked out of the kitchen without another word, making Rae stare for a long moment. That was it? No silly comment, no bluntly-honest remark about this crazy woman backing her into a corner?

No help at all.

"Look, Rae." Paige suddenly put a hand on her shoulder, a worried look on her face. "I'm just worried. I know you can fight a little, but if he wanted to hurt you…"

"He hasn't." Rae shook off her hand, grabbing up the towel and drying her hands. "I'm just helping him for a little bit- he isn't mooching off my income, he cooks to make it up, and he's gone most of the time anyway."

"He has a job?" Paige's face was skeptical. Rae nodded slowly. Sure, he was the local Robin Hood. Kakashi told her he was going around in disguises now when he stole from robbers, but from the newspaper she'd been reading these days there was still a general knowledge of the dubbed 'One-Eyed Mask'.

It was apparently a joke of his to always pick a disguise and put his mask right over it whenever he thought he needed money again. Witnesses had different stories almost every time, but the dark mask never changed. And the fact he only had one eye open. It irked her how much he enjoyed when she read his stories out loud, but it was just a little too ironic to not share, really.

And Guruko and Pakkun enjoyed them too.

"He's a… businessman," she said out loud, glancing down to see Guruko looking up with an adorably concerned look on his muzzle. She couldn't help the slight smile as she bent down and rubbed his ears. "These are his dogs, Guruko and… Pakkun is somewhere. Isn't he sweet?" Paige eyed the animal that wagged his tail innocently. No, the blonde woman decided. It wasn't sweet. Because the little beast had made several attempts to chew off her arms whenever she struggled too much.

But something told her if she told Rae the woman would still love the animal to pieces. While Rae was a good friend and all, she was just too infatuated with animals for her own good.

"When is he leaving?" Paige followed Rae into the living room, where she grabbed a pile at the edge of the couch and started towards her bedroom. Kakashi was sitting on the couch and chirped what sounded like 'thank you' in a heavy accent, but Rae ignored him as she stuffed the clothing in a large sack.

"Soon," Rae only grumbled, grabbing her own clothes strewn about as well. "No, I don't know when. But he only plans to stay here until he can get home, okay?"

"Where does he live?" Paige really didn't like the guy, and not just because he tied her up and sent his hellhounds after her.

There was always that universal rule of strangers, and Rae had never been one to forget it. But now it seemed it was up to Paige to make sure that Rae wasn't housing some kind of serial killer, or…

"Is he… blackmailing you or something?" Rae stopped at that, turning to stare at the blonde. Her mouth opened and closed as if trying to decide something, but after a moment she scoffed and turned away.

"No," she said flatly, but Paige noticed that her pepper spray was sitting beside her bed and ready to grab at a moment's notice. As was a baseball bat.

And Rae wasn't paranoid for no reason.

Kakashi was so going down.

Rae's first instinct to Paige's 'request' to stay (she actually requested in much the same manner as Kakashi himself) was to say hell no. The last thing she wanted was the girl picking fights with the guest she didn't want and giving her grief about him day and night.

But the blonde had stormed out with a call that she would be back with her bags, sending one last glower to the man on the couch who was still rather idly lazing on it. Rae had honestly stopped thinking of it as her couch; the man just seemed to ooze that kind of lazy possession.

Almost like a cat. The weirdo.

"That was very interesting," Kakashi said after Paige's stomping footsteps had faded. "Tell me, was that expected?"

"Never is," Rae growled, rubbing her temples. Why was she friends with that loud siren again? She almost wanted to blame Kakashi for Paige's unusually louder countenance, but it seemed rather pointless.

Fictional ninja or not, the man just seemed to have certain habits. And while most of these habits were infuriating and deracinating to her life in general, half of them seemed to be from something Rae didn't want to think about. Or really believe. Especially his apparent skill with tying people up before they could even scream.

That was a cool skill. Unnecessary in general society, but the little tomboy in Rae really, really thought it was just plain awesome. Not that she'd ever say so, being a generally prideful person and having been on the wrong end of such skill, but still.

"She wants to stay." Kakashi blinked rather owlishly at that and Pakkun jerked from his lazing position.

"No way," the pug said flatly. Guruko huffed as Kakashi sighed.

"Well it's… your choice I suppose."

"No, it really isn't." With that, Rae went to her closet and began pulling out a large flap of rubber and cloth. She slapped it on the living room floor, pulling out a pump that she attached with difficulty.

"What's that?" Kakashi asked from the couch, eying the flat object with mild suspicion.

"An inflatable mattress." The man blinked rather slowly as if such an idea was rather inconceivable. "Something tells me Paige won't sleep on the floor." Rae straightened the hand pump, pulling up the handle and shoving it back down in rapid motions. "And I'm not putting the man with pointy objects on the balloon mattress. If she's going to invade my apartment and pick on my life, then she's going to be damn happy with even this much," she concluded, glaring at the mattress that had barely lifted even a little. She growled under her breath and pumped harder, eyes narrowed and just daring the infernal object to defy her wishes.

The second she paused, it went flat again.

"… I think it's broken," Kakashi observed. Guruko sniffed at it and wrinkled his muzzle in distaste.

"Broken my-" Rae began spitting and cursing in English, storming to the closet again and rummaging through objects of no concern until she produced a shiny roll of duct tape that she shook at the mattress in a silent declaration that it would not get the best of her.

Kakashi only raised an eyebrow as she began taping down every abnormality she could find on the light surface, from wrinkles to seams to suspicious stains that seemed to be from some sort of poisonous food. By the time she'd finished it looked more silver than anything, but then she flipped it over and twitched vaguely.

The hole was actually a tear from old age and lack of use. And it was the only thing she hadn't taped. With a growled profanity, Rae began taping again. For good measure, she taped the entire thing several times over before taping even more of the surrounding surface, just to be sure.

"… Are you sure-"

"Yes, I am." Rae twitched her glare to the man that watched in mild bemusement. "This is how we fix things. Duct tape and WD-40. Tape for things that move when they shouldn't, and WD for things that don't move when they should." Kakashi nodded fairly seriously.

"And these balloon beds shouldn't move when you fill them with air," he concluded.

"Exactly." But when Rae filled it with air again the fabric was so stiff from the duct tape that it wouldn't inflate at all, only swelling unnaturally from the forced air.

"… But it should probably move enough to-"

"Shut it."

Paige returned with two bags on hand as Rae was still carefully peeling off layers of duct tape, pumping every moment in a futile attempt to inflate the mattress.

It took one moment for her to realize the situation and her expression went completely flat. "I am not sleeping on that piece of crap." Rae didn't look up.

"You can't have the couch. He has it."

"So make him move!"

"I'd like to see you try!" Paige considered, looking to the couch that the man was still sitting on with his dogs. All three gave her equal flat stares.

"… So where the heck am I supposed to sleep then?" she demanded, twitching faintly.

"Your bed. In your apartment. Not harassing my house guest under the guise of a sleepover!"

"Come on, you used to love sleepovers!"

"You always scared me awake and got me tangled in the blankets!"

"… Good times, huh?" Paige couldn't help her fond grin. Rae as a little kid… had been very, very funny. "I'm doing this for your own good. I scare the creep off, your problems are solved! No big deal." Rae snorted at that, looking partially amused.

"Yeah. Good luck with that." Paige eyed the man again, but he was flipping through a manga book with a quiet hum. A nerdy grown man with some kind of neurotic fear of germs, if the mask was anything to go by.

She wasn't sure how he'd done that thing with the gag, but after several replays in her mind she was sure it was just some kind of fluke. Sure, he looked like he worked out under his loose clothing, but he wasn't overly muscular or anything. She must have just been too panicked to realize him fumbling in his own anxiety.

"Yeah. I think I can handle it."

Heh heh... I snuck a Disney quote in there somewhere. Do you think I can get sued?

Anyway, not much action or anything. Just some general introduction. Paige Harris. Blonde, outgoing, overprotective. A little bit of a maneater, but for now she has her priorities. Getting rid of a masked creep in her friend's house.

The friendship between Rae and Paige isn't so much a friendship as it is Rae sulking and Paige dragging her along on some adventure or another. But they have their moments, I suppose.

... What? Is this based on the authoress' personal relationships? ... What... What makes you say that?

Anyway, I have a paper to type! Five more pages due tomorrow morning, go! TT_TT

Peace out.