"-and then you fell in the pond with the ducks and it was SO funny, everyone was like AHAHAHA and pointing and you were screaming and crying because you had ruined your new hair bow and you hadn't touched the ducks and then your aunt Sachi decided to head back to the shore and you were pouting and there was poo in your hair and you looked SOOOOOOOOO cute and-"

I hate moving.

I've always disliked going through the process of elimination with my clothes, shoes, and such. I hate the scratchy feeling of cardboard. I hate the smell of dust and mothballs. But more than anything, I hate knowing that my reality is shifting. That everything is changing and I can't do anything to stop it.

"-then we got back to the shore and you wanted to go back in and touch the ducks and we all ran to you yelling "RIMA! RIMA! and then-"

Mama's voice ran through my thoughts, startling me out of my trance. I blinked, momentarily dazed. I had NO idea what she was talking about until I saw the picture in her hand. We were in the living room of our new house, and Mama had unpacked a box filled with photo albums. She was holding a picture of me, where I was probably five, dressed in a little sailor suit, completely soaked. I was making that face I make before I cry, where I scrunch up my nose and my cheeks turn red and my eyes fill with tears. It was an awful picture; my hair bow was plastered to my face. I wish Mama would throw it away, but she seems to really like it.

"-and then Sachi thought it would be funny to take a picture and so Pap-" Mama's voice suddenly died. I stiffened, and almost out of reflex, looked at her. She hands had suddenly clenched up around the picture, and her bangs were hiding her eyes. "And so P-papa got out the camera and took this picture." She ended in a dull, hollow sort of voice. I didn't need to see her eyes to know they were glistening with tears. I looked away, feeling slightly sick.

"Are you hungry?" Mama spoke again, in a high, fake cheery voice that trembled slightly. "I'm hungry! I want some lunch. Oh, look at the time! 1:02 and we haven't eaten since breakfast! That's AWFUL! I'm a horrible mother! Of course I'll feed you; I want you to grow, you know! I know you wouldn't like to be a midget forever darling, I'll go ahead and make you some soup. Or would you like stew? What's the difference between soup and stew anyway? It makes no sense, I'm so totally lost, and then they have those things that they call 'creams' that are actually soup but there really is no difference…" she tittered off, ignoring my death glares.

Let me state for the record that I am NOT short. I'm not small. I'm… compact. Fun sized. I DON'T CARE THAT I ONLY REACH AMU'S NOSE. I DON'T CARE THAT YAYA HAD A SUDDEN GROWTH SPURT AND NOW IS A WHOLE HEAD TALLER THAN ME. I'M TRAVEL SIZED FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE! Be grateful. Dammit.

As soon as Mama was in the kitchen, I slunk up the stairs to my room. There were boxes everywhere. Of course. The bed was cleared, though, and I flopped on it face down, hoping to die.

I didn't. Duh. I did, however, hear a weird sort of noise and feel a vibration coming from somewhere on the bed. Lifting my head up, I saw my cell phone on the bed. The little red light that meant I had a message was blinking.

I sprang up and pounced on it, opening it clumsily. Eagerly I read:

May 26th, 12:57 pm

From: Amu

Rima-chan! I hope you're done unpacking and everything in your new house, but don't forget you promised to come over to my house to study for the test! Yaya's already here. Hurry!

P.S. We're making cookies.

I stared at my phone. On one hand, this was a perfect excuse to get out of the house and leave this mess. On the other hand, I honestly was totally lost here. What test? What study session?

To: Amu


I was expecting another text, but in less than 30 seconds my phone rang.


I was by now holding the phone about a foot away from my ear, hoping not to go deaf. "Huh?" I said, not to brightly. In the back, I could hear Yaya yelling about candy. Amu seemed to be close to tears of frustration as she tried to calmly tell Yaya to stop yelling, get off the roof and come inside. She spoke again, hyperventilating slightly.

"Just come over and we can discuss this. And if you don't want to study, then you can just INHALE SOME GODDAMN COOKIES AND BE ON YOUR WAY GET OFF THE STUPID ROOF YAYA! I'M SERIOUS! I DON'T HAVE ANY CANDY LEFT! Rima, seriously. I kicked my parents and Ami out of the house for this. Just come over. Please!"

I heard more voices over the phone. It sounded like Tadase was over there too. I'd bet twenty bucks Amu invited him over hoping to flirt with him. Looks like Yaya screwed up that plan. Hee hee.

"Fine," I said, "I'll go."

"Really?" Amu squealed. Ugh. I could almost feel the sparkles radiating over the phone. "Great! See you soon! YAYA I'M NOT KIDDING! IF YOU'RE NOT OFF THE ROOF IN FIVE MINUTES I'M CALLING THE COPS! FOR REAL!" Click.

I groaned and heaved myself off the bed. Opening a random suitcase, I pulled out a ruffly black skirt and a blue short sleeved top. I put on my gray boots and long black socks. Grabbing my backpack, cell phone and wallet, I ran down the stairs. Over my shoulder, I called out to my mother "I'm going to Amu's! I'll be back in a few hours!" Without waiting for a response, I exploded out the door.

It felt good to be outside. In my house, everything was chaotic, but out here, it was pretty nice. I had to admit, this new neighborhood wasn't too bad. It was pretty, actually. I smiled to myself. It felt great to walk by myself. A few years ago, my mom would have died rather than let me walk 6 blocks by myself. There would have been a huge fight between her and my dad about me, and then about each other, pointing out their flaws and weaknesses and going on at it for hours before finally remembering what the argument was about and deciding that NO, I couldn't walk by myself. But now, after the divorce was finalized, Mama decided that, being 16, I could walk "anywhere within a reasonable distance". So now I walked to and from school by myself. Mama had met Amu and "approved" of her, so I was allowed to go out with her. Papa wouldn't object. After he and Mama separated, which was shortly before my 6th grade graduation, he had met another woman; an accountant named Yasuko, married her and was trying to start a new family. He ended up moving to Hokkaido. I knew it hurt Mama. I only saw him about 4 times a year, when he'd come with a big present and take me out somewhere. More recently, he had stopped giving me teddy bears and toys and had started giving me money, but the last time he came, he gave me a silver heart locket with a romanji letter, "R" engraved on it. When he left, I opened the locket. It was empty.

Either way, I always wore it. It was small enough to wear with the uniform. The first time I had worn it, all the girls and Tadase had gushed over it, and Kusukusu had gone all "Rima-tan has a pretty heart! Rima-tan has a pretty heart!" And Fujisaki had faked surprised and was all "Rima has a heart? Who would have thought!" and then I kicked him and he tripped.

Ignoring my memory of Fujisaki, I thought of Kususkusu. Remembering Kusukusu hurt a little. It always hurt a little. Last year in the 9th grade, all our charas disappeared. It was sad and felt very strange, having to go about without them. I missed Kusukusu making me laugh.

I was in front of Amu's house when I noticed it. The eerie quiet. No hysterical Amu. No wailing Tadase. No screaming Yaya on the roof.

Oh. My. Gosh. Amu actually called the police on Yaya and they were probably in jail or something. But no, the house looked in order. Everything was cleaned up, like nothing had ever happened here. Huh. I cautiously opened the gate. Nothing seemed to be wrong here. Still apprehensive, I knocked on the door. I almost melted with relief when I heard Amu say "Coming!" and the door was opened. "Amu!" I squealed, and huggled her. "You made it Rima!" She laughed, hugging me back. "Come on in, we're having tea!" I trailed after her. My relief that everything was ok was dissolving, leaving me somewhat confused."How did you get Yaya down from the roof?" I asked. "Did you actually call the police to get her down?" "I was honestly close to it," Amu replied, opening the door to her room," and I would have done it if-" "I hadn't showed up," said a voice from behind me. "Aren't I a saint?"

I practically jumped out of my skin. Turning around, I was shocked to find HIM standing less than a foot away from me. Seriously, all I had to do was take a step and we'd be- too close for comfort. We already were. I felt cheeks going slightly pink, thinking about the closeness. Closeness. What a retarded word. Seriously. Who had made it up? Another word I hate is "togetherness". It sounds so cliché and annoying!

"Yup," Amu was saying," Nagi showed up and then we started trying to get her down and suddenly she calmed down and came off the roof and then like 5 seconds later Kairi showed up, so we all came inside and decided to have tea."

"Oh," I said stiffly. "How nice."

"Yes," said Fujisaki smugly. "I am. Here's your Earl Gray tea, Amu." And then he coolly slipped inside Amu's room.

As soon as he was gone, I dragged Amu to the kitchen of her house, where I rounded on her. "How could you not tell me?" I asked furiously.

"Tell you what?" Amu asked, confused. "I didn't know that Nagi was going to bring tea-"

"Don't say his name!" I wailed. "This is SO unfair, Amu! You didn't tell me anything!"

"I told you Rima, weeks ago when the test was announced, that we were going to have a group study session-"

"You know I forgot that! You told me to come over to DISCUSS the matter Amu! You didn't tell me that that… that… that LIAR was going to be here!"

Amu's eyes widened, her voice suddenly hard. "That was in the past, Rima" she hissed, "and you know full well that he's been nothing but honest with me ever since. I honestly don't know WHY you fight so much with him, he's really so nice-"

For some reason, my cheeks turned pink. "Nice? Nice? He's not nice. He's constantly mocking me and making fun of me! Last week, he laughed at me in science class and was all like "Oh, look, Mashiro, only 23 percent right! Tsk tsk, they should send you back to grade school. Plus you're short, you know, so you'll fit right in hahaha…" I groaned, remembering. "He is not nice. He's evil."

Amu sighed. "I'm sorry for not telling you Rima. I really am," she said in a weary sort of voice. "I should have reminded you. I just forget that you guys don't really get along, you know. It's not as obvious as in grade school."

"It's ok" I told her, in a similar weary tone. "You were busy with Yaya and stuff. Around what point did she sneak out anyway? While you and Tadase were blushing and heavily flirting?"

"Rima!" Amu said in an embarrassed sort of way. "It was nothing like that! He was explaining geometry to me, and Yaya found Ami's candy stash, so she snuck out while I was fli- learning the wonders of… 3 dimensional shapes," she finished lamely.

"I'm sure" I said in a you-are-a-sucky-liar-and-I-wont-even-pretend-to-believe-you sort of way. "Never mind. Now that that's cleared up, you promised me cookies. I want."

Amu laughed. "If there are any left, they're in my room. Come on." We clambered up the staircase to her room, chatting away.

As we entered the room, Tadase immediately brightened up. "Hinamori-san!" He said, eyes like a puppy's. "We were beginning to worry there had been some sort of catastrophe." He and Amu giggled as Amu went to sit next to him, leaving me at the door. Resisting the urge to gag, I looked away. Fujisaki then offered his oh-so-important opinion. "We thought Rima had murdered Amu and was hiding her body in the backyard."

"Hahaha, Fujisaki," I said in a deadpan voice. "How truly witty. Tell me, how is it you received a 98 on the Language project where we had to write an original mystery story? Because you just offered us some of the lamest, most unoriginal sh-"

"Shaving cream!" Yelled a panic-stricken Amu. "A..ahaha..haha..ha…." "Tee-hee-hee" Tadase chimed in, "How funny Amu!" "Really?" Amu said, flustered that he had called her by her name. "Oh.. hahahahaha" "Ahahahahaa" echoed Tadase back, both of them by now blushing furiously. Rolling my eyes, I took in the scenery.

Tadase and Amu were in their own world on one side of the small, four person table. Next to them was Kairi, his back to Amu's window. Behind Kairi, close by the window, was Yaya. Both of them were talking quietly, probably about a question Yaya had with her homework. Opposite Kairi was Fujisaki. Oh horrors. I'd have to sit next to him. There was no getting around this. Sighing, I dumped my backpack on the floor and sat down, opening my English notebook.

There was complete and utter silence from our end of the table for about ten seconds before Fujisaki spoke up.


I didn't answer him. I felt bad about what I had said earlier. For some reason or other, Fujisaki seemed more- irritating than usual. It was a feeling I couldn't describe, it was so odd. I flipped through my notebook, pretending like I cared about the words written there, pretending not to feel the heavy aura floating between us.

Opening a page at random, something fell out of my notebook. Yaya noticed. She yelled "Rima-tan! What is THAT?" and so of course everybody turned around to look. "I don't know," I honestly replied, feeling everyone's eyes on me. "It looks like a letter" said Tadase. I reached for it, trying to get everyone to quit staring, but then a hand flashed out and grabbed it. Out of nowhere, Tsukiyomi Ikuto stood up in the middle of Amu's room, smirking. "Looks like the shrimp got a love letter."

There was a stunned silence for about a minute until Tadase screamed "YOUUUUUUUU!" Then all hell broke loose and the fun began.

Amu screamed, turned a bright red and- I kid you not- fainted. Yaya glomped onto the person closest to her; which turned out to be Kairi, and began to wail. So when Kairi tried to sprint to the bathroom to get a wet towel, he tripped over Yaya's dangling leg, fell face fist, and smashed his glasses. Tadase, meanwhile, was challenging Ikuto to a duel, who then began to run around the room making Tadase chase him. In all this, Fujisaki and I just sat there, watching Tadase and Ikuto run, Yaya wail and Kairi try desperately to fix his glasses. Amu lay there, twitching on the floor. Annoyed, I got off the floor and left the room. To my surprise, Fujisaki was right behind me. "Where are you going?" I asked, raising my eyebrows. "Awwwwww, come on Rima, don't be so mean to the guy who saved your love letter." He held up the white envelope.

I stared and then tried to retrieve my letter, but the jerk held it WAAAAAAY above my head. "No, no, no Rima! You see, someday I'm going to be a business tycoon, so I figure now is the best time to start extorting people. Before I give you this letter, I want you to answer my question."

"Wha- what on earth? That's MY letter, Fujisaki. MINE." I stood on tiptoe, trying to reach the letter. "Rima, you ARE aware that you come up to my chest? You are never going to reach this letter." He laughed.

I gritted my teeth angrily. "Fine," I said, pretending not to care, "keep the stupid letter. I get about 5 a week anyway, and they all say the same thing: 'Rima-sama, you are SOOOOOOO kewl! Omigosh we wub yewww!' from a random stranger. Why do I want that letter? Keep it."

He just stood there laughing! When he finally stopped, he looked at me with a grin on his face. "Come on Rima. Reverse psychology will never work on me. I know you want this letter. To get it, answer my question."

I glared, furious. Not having any more resources left, I filled my eyes with tears. "That's really mean, you know." I looked up at him, staring into his eyes. MISTAKE.

For some reason, I had never noticed that Nagi- Fujisaki had such long eyelashes. I hadn't noticed, either, how enormous his eyes were, how warm and inviting they looked, like honey, and I was certain I had never seen that expression in his eyes before, so gentle, and at the same time, almost scared-

I took a step forward.

Reality seemed to crash down on me, and I felt so stupid! My heart was pounding for some reason, all "doki doki" and I realized that my lips had been slightly parted. I suddenly felt incredibly retarded. Ugh. Quickly, I turned around and, on jelly legs, walked to the bathroom. "I-I'm going to get a towel for Amu."

"Good idea" said Fujisaki quickly. I'll go get a basin filled with water…" and he practically ran down the stairs.

In the bathroom I inspected my reflection in the mirror. To my horror, my cheeks and ears were pink. Shaking my head, I hunted for a towel. I thought back to our most recent behavior. For some reason, being around Fujisaki was unsettling now. It gave me a strange feeling in my stomach, like some sort of a bad omen or something. I had been feeling some sort of- I don't know, frustration?- with him recently. As a consequence, I guess, our bickering had grown, developing into full-blown arguments. I kept trying to push the feeling back and ignore it, but it wouldn't go away.

Sighing, I found a light blue one and raced back to the room to find a relatively less amount of chaos. Kairi had somehow summoned scotch tape and had fixed his glasses. He seemed to be consoling Yaya, who was wailing her apologies to him and promises to buy him lots of candy. Tadase and Ikuto had already left, but not before ripping apart two pillows, knocking over the books on Amu's bookshelf and smashing a bottle of perfume. Great, now the room reeked and was covered with feathers. Amu was stirring feebly. I ran to her side and lifted her head onto a nearby pillow. Fujisaki burst in with the basin full of water, and I soaked the towel and put it on her head. Amu stirred and then burst up, gasping and panting.

"What the-? Where are-? When da-? Ughnnnnn my head…"

"Amu! Amu! It's OK! They're gone!" I told her. "Tadase and Tsukiyomi left already."

Amu lifted her head up, surveyed the damage, and fell back on the pillow, groaning. "My room…" she mumbled. "Ah well," she said, "it could've been worse." She sighed and stood weakly. I tried to support her, but Fujisaki got there first and helped her to her bed. He put his hand on her forehead and said "It doesn't look like you have a fever, but you still should get some rest," and gave her a small smile.

While Amu recovered, the remaining four of us cleaned began to clean the room. Scrub as I might, I could NOT get the overpowering smell of jasmine and roses out of the carpet. After about 30 minutes of nonstop scrubbing, Amu got up and sat down by the table again. "Just leave it," she advised me. "Let's just TRY and study for a little bit, please?"

Feeling a mixture of guilt and sheepishness, we all sat down and studied. Sort of. Kairi, Fujisaki and Amu worked on different math problems while Yaya and I played tic tac toe and doodled in our notebooks. After a while, Kairi stood up and said, all formally, "Thank you for having me over Hinamori-san. It has been a pleasure," and started to put his stuff away. I looked at the clock, and to my surprise it was about 5:30. Wow. That was fast, I woke up (she had been half asleep by the fourth question) and was all like "No, no, no, it was all my pleasure, I'm sorry for the mess," and such and got up to escort him the door. Then Yaya was like "Wow, its late! Yaya had better go too!" so then Fujisaki and I decided to go too.

As we left, I was going to hang back because I wanted to talk to Amu, but then her parent's car pulled around the corner and I chickened out. So I gave her a quick hug and said bye and started walking home. I was really frustrated for some reason. This move had jumbled me up. I felt like I was busy all the time, like everyone was busy all the time and I felt like I hadn't talked to Amu in years. I have some really important things to discuss with her and we haven't spent any time together in ages. I thought. It's all Tadase's fault, and that college kid Tsukiyomi Ikuto! Every time I want to talk to her they show up and screw up everything and next time they do this I'm going to make damn sure-

I was suddenly aware of the footsteps behind me. They were close, and somewhat quiet, which is probably why I hadn't noticed at first. It suddenly hit me that I was short, alone, and 3 blocks from my house. I'd never make it home in time; I'm not athletic. Oh. My. Gosh. I have a stalker. Someone is behind me and they want to kill me and kidnap me and take me really far away and I'll never see anyone ever again! What should I do? I only have my backpack with me and-the footsteps got even closer, like the person was 3 feet away. That was it. I was going to die. But not without a fight, no. I, Rima Mashiro, was going to defend myself against any possible creeper, stalker or kidnapper behind me. I started breathing hard, steeling myself, waiting for the attack. I was nearing a streetlamp when the footsteps sped up. It was now or never. Grabbing my backpack in one hand, I tensed up, still walking. I was under the streetlamp when it happened. The footsteps were right behind me, and a hand suddenly touched my shoulder. "Ri-" "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" BAM.

The minute the hand touched my shoulder, I grabbed my backpack and heaved it at the mystery stalker/creeper/kidnapper. He crumpled to the ground and I was going to run away when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed it. A flash of purple hair. I turned around.

Lying there, on the floor, my backpack now in his hands, was none other than Fujisaki Nagihiko. "Wha-?" I asked, utterly nonplussed. "Where's the creeper?" I asked, almost hysterical. Fujisaki got to his feet slowly, rubbing his head where I had hit him with my backpack. "Creeper? Rima, it's me." "Well, I didn't know that!" I squeaked, still freaked out. "What are you doing here?"

"That's my line. What are you doing here Rima? You live on the other side of town."

"Not anymore," I informed him, "my Mom and I moved. Seriously, Fujisaki, what are you doing here? You had me hyperventilating back there! What was up with you following me?"

Fujisaki suddenly started laughing. He wouldn't stop! He leaned onto the lamppost and kept laughing, making me feel like a complete and total idiot. "Stop laughing at me!" I cried, but he wouldn't stop. I felt myself flush angrily. Walking over to him, I yanked his hair. He immediately stopped laughing. "O wow ow ow o wow! Stop it Rima!" Satisfied to have wiped the grin off his face, I let go. "What's so funny?" I asked. "There's nothing hilarious in being stalked when you're a girl and you're alone and sho-"

A grin spread over Fujisaki's face. "What was that, Rima? Are you actually admitting to being short?" I whacked him on the head. "Stop being so retarded! I was doing nothing of the sort! I was- why do I keep getting off subject? Tell me-" I yanked on his hair again, bringing his face down close to mine, "what are you doing here?"

"Ow!" he cried again, "Not the hair!" I let go, and he straightened up, chuckling quietly. "But if you must know, Rima-" "Don't say my name!" I interrupted. He ignored me and continued. "If you must know, this is my street."

Hello everyone, this is Alice speaking.

I sincerely hope you like the story! This is my first fanfiction ever, so it's kind of embarrasing! X3

When I started writing the story, I started looking for a beta. I quickly discovered that there are like a gazillion awesome people willing to work as a beta, but my thought was How can I tell if anyone wants to beta this? And then I was like, I know! I'll publish a chapter and if people like this, then I'll keep writing and hopefully find a beta! :D So yeah, if you would like to be my beta reader, I would humbly accept your help.

I hope you like this story! Please review :3