Hey, everyone. Sorry I haven't been working on this lately, I needed some time to recoup some ideas. I have this episide and the next one planned out, but after that, I'm out of ideas again.

I know that some of you might be afraid to give me ideas because you fear that I'll reject them, but let me assure you that I will consider every idea that is presented to me. If you take a chance and give me an idea, then you might see your idea incorporated into my fanfic! And don't worry, I always give credit. Speaking of credit, thanks to my friend Shiro for some ideas for this chapter and the following chapter.

One thing I have noticed about previous chapters is that I haven't provided much of a soundtrack for it, except for some parts. So from now on, I'll put little notes in during the course of the following chapters saying what music I can imagine playing to the story. And also, you may notice that my writing style has changed in this chapter compared to previous chapters. That is most likely because I've read two Stephen King books in the amount of time between the release of the previous chapter and this chapter.

Please read and review, and I hope you like this chapter!


Study hall. Probably the best class of the day, in Naota's opinion.

Naota was sitting at one of the large rectangular tables with three other people, and reading a large book. "Under the Dome", by Stephen King. A rather big book, but a good read. Not very school-appropriate, very explicit content included. Of course, not many people were going to take a book that size off the shelf anyway, the librarians must have figured that no-one would want to read it. Of course, they thought wrong.

In the seat across from him, another student was listening to music on the newest WalkMan model, and the person next to him was working on an assignment for History. The person next to Naota was snoozing in his seat, using his crossed arms on the table as a pillow. It was the only class of the day where you were allowed to do it, so you had to take advantage of it. The only downside was that you would probably be tired in your next class.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw some movement. In a class as quiet as that, it was rare to see any sudden movements, so Naota lifted his head up from the book to see what was going on. When he looked up, he saw a three of the older students looking across their table to another one, where one student sat alone, reading a book also. One of the older students was holding a paper airplane, a minor classroom contraption/annoyance.

Suddenly, the student threw the paper airplane towards the lone student at the other table. It flew in a straight path, a path that ended on the side of the student's head. The student didn't turn his head to see what hit him until a few seconds later. The paper plane was laying next to his History assignment, propped up on its side. He picked up the simple contraption and examined it, looking up to the student who threw it after.

The students at the table motioned for him to throw the plane back. The student looked at them, looked at the plane, then back at them. He closed his hand around the paper plane, crushing it, then he tossed the crumpled paper into the trash bin a few feet from him.

At first, the older students had a look of awe on their faces. Then, slight anger. Naota figured that if they were really into that plane, then that student was going to get a good talking-to later that day. And by talking-to, he meant gang-up insult(s).

The student who threw the plane look the most irritated of them all, and it acually seemed like he was going to get out of his seat and do something, if the bell hadn't rung and the teacher looked up from her paperwork. Everyone quickly got up out of their seats and shuffled to the door, the older student and the lone student keeping an eye on each other.

Next class: Band. Another one of Naota's favorite classes.

The school band wasn't just orchestral instruments: Anyone could play whatever they could play. That meant that people played guitars, drum sets, keyboards, etc. along with the standard school band instruments. One person even brings in their laptop to do special effects on. Despite this policy, not a lot of people brought their own instruments, but played the school's instruments.

Naota played his acrylic bass at school (not wanting to bring Haruko's bass, as it is equal to a holy relic to him). There were two twins that had moved to Mabase at the beginning of the year who were the Rock N' Roll/Metal genre ambassadors of the class (as if Naota didn't like the music enough).

One of them was named Arata, a drummer. The other was Tsubasa, the bass player. His bass was a five string also, a custom ordered Fender Affinity Precision, all black except for a detailed, angelic wing spreading horizontally across the body. Naota suspected that this was relevant to Tsubasa's name, because Tsubasa means "wing" in Japanese.

There was never any debates on who the best bass player was throughout the school year. If anything, Naota and the twins were good friends, and the three had worked together on songs before. Several times through the year, one of the three would play a song, one of the other two would recognize the song and play too, then the third person would recognize it and play too. Once or twice, the sound effects guy added some sounds where they fit in, making the experience even cooler. It was fun, but it usually didn't last for long, because it was a class, not a weekend jam session.

(Music start: The first bass riff of St. Anger by Metallica played repeatedly. Imagine it different from the original, like someone else was playing it)

Naota pushed open the door to the large band classroom. Several of the students were already in there, getting their instruments out or tuning. Arata and Tsubasa were there, already ready to play. They were usually the first ones to get there. Tsubasa was sitting down and continually playing the intro bass line from St. Anger by Metallica, while Arata was sitting at his drum set, watching him and nodding.

Tsubasa noticed Naota coming in and stopped playing. He smiled and carefully laid his bass on the floor, getting up. The two walked towards each other. "Hey, Naota! Whats up, dude?" Tsubasa said cheerfully. "Hey, Tsuba. Not much, today is a tired day" Naota replied. When the two got close enough, they did their own personal knuckle bump, which involved bumping their knuckles, doing the explosion, then reversing it, something the three had come up with themselves. After that, Tsubasa clapped a hand on Naota's shoulder.

"I hear you dude, Arata could barely keep his eyes open in Math today." Tsubasa said, and pointed a thumb over his shoulder and twitched his head towards Arata, who nodded and shrugged. The two walked to their little spot in the back of the room, and Naota reached for his gig bag containing his bass. Tsubasa sat back down and picked up his own bass, continuing to play the St. Anger line.

Naota had his bass out, and he was plugging it into the nearby amplifier. "Been listening to St. Anger, Tsuba?" Naota said while getting ready. Across the room, the sound effects kid played some sort of wind sound. "Yeah, and not just the song, either. I've been listening to the album over and over since a few days ago. Not Metallica's best album, but there are definetely some good songs on there." He replied, not slowing down on his bass playing.

"Thats true," Naota said, sitting down with his bass in his hands, "Lars really did something weird to his drums in that album, but it sounds really good." Arata nodded. "I'm not sure if he did that to his snare or something, its really cool." he said, playing the bass drum a few times to make sure the tone was okay.

"Yeah, it is." Naota replied, playing the strings on his bass from highest to lowest, tuning the middle string up a little bit. When he was done tuning, he started playing the St. Anger tune with Tsubasa. Tsubasa smiled, not taking his eyes off his bass. They both played that for a little bit, and Arata was about to start drumming to it too, when they all heard a loud clap from across the room.

In walked the music class teacher, Mr. Oroki. To many, he was the nicest, funnest music instructor in the world. He was indeed a nice teacher, and he was always happy about something.

"Alright, you guys!" The teacher said, fast-walking into the room. He pointed at Tsubaki and Naota. "St. Anger, nice!" he said while walking. He stopped behind the little poduim at the front of the classroom and planted his hands on it. "Alright everyone, I have some news. The school concert is being changed to a few days after our original date to make room for the Romeo and Juliet play."

A few people in the class groaned in disapproval, including Arata and Tsubasa, and the sound effects guy played a weird, low sound, a mix of a sour piano note and a 'wow' sound. Naota didn't really care on the matter. Mr. Oroki raised his hands up. "I'm sorry everyone, but it's not my choice. The school board had to relocate everything, not just the concert. The pep assembly is still going to be the same day."

He clapped his hands together again. "Alright, enough of that! Time for today's lesson. I was able to bring someone in to talk to us about some of the important things in music that we rarely talk about." He looked to the door, then waved whoever was standing out there into the room.

The person Naota saw almost made him want to leave the class. The person who came in was Haruko wearing a knee-length purple skirt, a bright red shirt, and a brown fur sweater. She had shaded glasses on her nose, and her ears were peirced with simple gold studs. She wore high heels that matched her hair color. Her light pink hair was tied into the shortest ponytail that Naota had ever seen.

"Everyone, this is Miss Haruka Naharu. She specifically asked to talk at this school." Mr. Oroki said. "The pleasure is all mine," 'Miss Naharu' said, "I heard a lot fo good things about this school and its band, I just had to be here." she said, in a slightly deeper voice than her normal voice. Oroki turned back towards her and smiled. "Well, it is an honor to have such a fine musician here, Miss." He said.

'Miss Naharu' Looked around the classroom, trying to scope out her target. No-one could tell where she was looking because of her glasses except for Naota, who paled a little bit when her eyes fixed on him. She smiled a little bit, then looked at the people in the front row of chairs, mainly the flutes and clarinets. She looked over each row until she stopped at Naota and the twins again, then she turned back to Mr. Oroki.

"This class is a little unorthodox, because there is more than just the normal school band instruments in here." She said, leisurely pointing towards the back of the class, where the 'other' instruments were. The sound effects student shifted a little, while Naota and the twins just stood still and stared at her. 'Miss Naharu' pointed at the sound effects student.

"What is your name?" she asked. "Umm..." the student went, as if he had forgotten his name for a moment, "Jackson, Ma'am." 'Miss Naharu' oohed. "American name, how fancy. What do you play in this class?" she asked. Jackson glanced at his laptop, then looked back at her. "Special effects, Ma'am." 'Miss Naharu' oohed again. "More fanciness! And cut with the Ma'am, we're not in the military. Play something for me."

Jackson looked back at his laptop, running his finger across the mousepad. The tapped his finger against the mousepad a few seconds later, and almost immediately after he tapped it, a wind sound started playing. 'Miss Naharu' nodded, and turned to Mr. Onaki. "And you actually use him?" She asked.

Mr. Onaki nodded. "We use him for wind or other sounds, but he can also synthesize other instruments almost perfectly, so we also use him to fill in the place of an instrument that we need for a certain song." He explained. "Mmhmm." She acknowledged, glancing back to Naota.

Naota quickly raised his hand. Mr. Onaki noticed him almost immediately. "Yes, Mr. Nandaba?" he said. Naota lowered his hand. "Can I go to the bathroom please, Mr. Onaki?" Naota asked, looking at 'Miss Naharu' and making sure she was looking at him, then he glanced at the door quickly, then back at her, trying to tell her to come out too. "Yes you may, Naota, but make it quick. You don't want to miss what Miss Naharu is going to talk about." He said.

Naota nodded, and quickly got up and walked to the door, glancing back at 'Miss Naharu', who kept her eyes on his through her glasses. Shortly after Naota left, she turned back to Mr. Onaki. "Oh, I forgot, I left something in my car. I'll be right back, Mr. Onaki." She said, and started walking to the other door before Mr. Onaki could respond. Haruko walked through the hall and turned a corner to find Naota standing there waiting for her. He had a worried look on his face, and his skin was slightly paler than normal.

"What are you doing here?" Naota whispered loudly. Haruko took off her glasses. "I needed to come and tell you something," Haruko said in her normal voice, "Ninamori wanted me to tell you something, since she wasn't at school today, and it seemed really important." Haruko said. Naota sighed in relief at the fact that Haruko wasn't at the school to toy with him.

"She told me to tell you that she needs you to meet her at the one old house near the river after school, the abandoned one. She needs your help with something, and she said to be quick." Haruko explained. Naota nodded. "Alright." He said. Haruko nodded. "Now, go to the bathroom. I need to get something from my car." She said, turning away. Naota stopped her. "Wait, your car? You don't own a car, not that I know of, anyway." Naota said.

"Oh, I borrowed your dad's van. He had no problem with it, I told him that my Vespa was out of gas." Haruko explained. Naota sighed again. "Alright, see you in a few minutes." Naota said, then the two turned and walked to their destinations.

Naota waited outside the bathroom to make it seem like he was actually going to the bathroom, then he went back to the band room. On his way there, he saw Haruko again, who winked at him and gave him a thumbs-up. Naota smiled, then opened the door and went back to his seat near the twins.

Haruko started to talk to the class about advanced music properties. Naota pretty much knew all of it because of studying, so he daydreamed while Haruko talked. He mostly tried to think of reasons why Ninamori would want him to meet him by the old river-house. A lot of the school's drug users liked to hand out around there and the path to it.

Haruko's lecture lasted for most of the class. When she was done, and she was ready to leave, she looked back over to Naota. Naota came out of his daydreaming state, sensing eyes on him, and looked back up at Haruko. Haruko smiled, lowered her glasses down a little bit so Naota could see her eyes, and mouthed "See you after school". Naota nodded quickly, glancing around the room to make sure no-one saw him exchanging words with the visitor in silence.

"I should be going now, Mr. Onaki, I have a few places to be." Haruko said, still sporting her Miss Naharu voice, then she turned to the rest of the class. "It has been nice meeting all of you, you are a very unique class." She said, glancing at Naota one last time before walking out the door.

Mr. Onaki looked around the room for a few seconds, then clapped his hands together. "Well, that was interesting! Since we only have a little while left in class, you can all just practice whatever you want." He said, then he turned and walked into his little office at one side of the room.

All of the students just sat there, not knowing what to do next. Then, Jackson played that one wind sound again and broke the silence. A few other people started playing random music peices, and were soon joined by more. Eventually, everyone except for Naota and the twins were playing some sort of music.

Naota was still staring at the front of the room where Haruko was standing before. A few seconds later, he felt something bump his shoulder. He looked to the side and saw Tsubasa with a big grin on his face. "Nice that you have come back to reality, Mr. Sandman! Now, what do you wanna do?" He said, strumming a few random chords on his bass.

"Not sure, there isn't much time left in class." Naota said, looking down at his own bass. He plucked at the highest string a few times, then brought his other hand up to the fretboard and started playing a random rythym. Tsubasa stopped playing his random notes and started to play the opening guitar peice to The House Jack Built by Metallica. Naota stopped playing and smiled.

"More Metallica?" Naota asked. Tsubasa smiled and looked up from his bass, still playing. "Yeah, I'm in a Metallica trance at the moment." He said, then looked back down at his bass. He kept playing that over and over again, until Naota joined him. They both played that for a little while, then Arata added the beginning cymbal crash to the song. They played that for a few measures, then Arata added the bass drum to the song, and Naota played the lead part of the song.

They weren't able to play for long, because Mr. Onaki came out of his office and told them to start putting their instruments away or else they will be late for their next class. Naota and Tsubasa put away all of their equipment, while Arata got up and waited at the door, for he left the drum set at school. Across the room, Jackson closed his laptop and collected the cords for it, stuffing them all into his laptop carrier bag, which was laying nearby.

Right when Naota and Tsubasa were done putting their instruments away, Mr. Onaki dismissed them. Everyone left out the doors on either side of the room into the hallways. Tsubasa and Arata had different classes than Naota, so they turned a corner into a different hallway, giving Naota a wave. Naota waved back, and kept walking.

/FLCL\

Naota sat in his last class of the day before school was over, Environmental Science. Mr. Fedaki had just finished collecting the day's assignment, and everyone was either working on other work or sitting and waiting for the day to end. Most of the students had brough their bookbags to the last class, so it would save them the last trip to their lockers at the end of the day. Naota was one of these people, but for a good reason. According to Haruko's message, he had to get to the river quickly today.

Mr. Fedaki stood up from his chair behind his desk. He wasn't short, but Naota was taller than him. "All of you people who still owe me work from last quarter better start working, because if all of your work isn't in by next Thursday, your grade automatically gets changed to a forty percent."

Naota didn't pay attention, becuase he was completely caught up with all of his classes. He glanced at the clock, which was digital, and realized that it was only about thirty seconds before they would all be dismissed. He tapped his foot, waiting for the clock to change.

As soon as the clock turned tot he next minute, Mr. Fedaki dismissed them. Everyone quickly got out of their seats and walked to the door. Naota fast-walked through the maze of hallways to the front doors of the school, opening them up and welcoming the smell of fresh air into the school.

It felt good to be free. It had been a long day at school, and he was ready for a break, but he wasn't done yet. He had to meet Ninamori by the river. The walk to the river was about ten minutes, so he kept fast-walking to try and minimize the time spent walking.

It took him about five minuted before he got to the sidewalks that went beneath the many bridges of the river. As soon as he got there, he saw the first of the druggies on the sidewalk. Most of them were high schoolers who smuggled a few cigarettes out of a gas station, but some of them had worse stuff. There were a few packs of four or five people who were smoking something that didn't smell like cigarettes. He should know, he hung out with a smoker for most of his childhood.

He kept walking, passing by more little packs of people. One time, a random guy held an open box of cigarettes out to him and aked him if he wanted a smoke. Naota ignored him and kept walking. He was here for one thing only: to make sure Ninamori was alright.

There were a lot of people there. There were people smoking cigarettes, some marijuana, and he thought he even saw a guy sniffing cocaine with a razor in his hand on a nearby tree stump. He couldn't believe how stupid these people were, they were bound to kill themselves with these drugs.

He eventually saw the old abandoned shack in the distance. Not many people were there, but he saw someone standing near the damaged door. A girl from the looks of it, wearing blue jeans and a Skillet t-shirt. Her purple hair was left untied, and hung down her shoulders. She stood with her head tilted down slightly, staring at the ground. Ninamori.

As he got closer, Ninamori noticed the footsteps coming in her direction. She looked up, and seeing Naota, smiled. She walked towards him,and when they got close enough to each other, she hugged him lightly.

"It's good to see you, Naota." She said, pulling away from him but keeping her hands on his arms in a light grip. Naota smiled back at her. "It's good to see you too, Ninamori. It took you a few days to get better, I'm glad that you are good enough to get outside now. Is Mamimi still at the house?" Naota asked. "Yeah, she is. She told me that her parents are trying to get to her, and she sys she doesn't really want anything to do with them, so she asked your dad if she could stay for a little longer. Of course, he said yes." Ninamori explained.

Naota nodded, then looked around. "So, why did you want us to meet in druggie paradise?" Naota said, twitching his head towards one of the lone people standing near them smoking a cigarette. Ninamori looked down a little bit and held her hands behind her back. She gulped, then looked back up at Naota.

"There are these guys... Who, well, won't leave me alone. They have been harassing me for a while. They did it while I was on my way here, they skipped school today and were walking around the town. I guess that I'm one of their main targets but..." Ninamori paused for a moment, "Today was really bad. They had be backed into a building, and one of the guys, the main guy if I'm right, got a little too close..."

Naota didn't understand, but understood at the same time. Ninamori needed someone to protect her. He had no problem with it, he knew how vicious the people at the school could get. Naota put his hands on Ninamori's shoulders. "What do you mean he got close?" Naota asked seriously. He didn't want to find out that someone had hurt Ninamori.

"Him and his friends tried to get me into one of the alleyways. I didn't give them a chance, but the guy was really pushy. He grabbed onto me and tried to push me, but I broke away from him and got away. I had to run. I was afraid that they were going to..." Ninamori trailed off, blushing. She hid her face in Naota's chest.

"I was afraid that they were going to do something..." Ninamori whispered. Naota brought one of his hands up from her shoulder and moved it to her head. "Its alright..." He whispered. Then he realized something. "How were you able to get Haruko to give me a message to meet you here?" Ninamori lifted her head up to look at him again. "I passed by the grocery store and found Haruko there. I told her what had happened, and she told me that she would tell you to meet me here."

Naota understood now. He moved his hand on Ninamori's head down to her back and patted it once. "Its alright, I'll help you out, but what makes you think that they are going to be here?" Naota asked. Ninamori tilted her head to the side to look past Naota's head, and she paled a little bit. She raised a hand up and pointed behind Naota.

"That's why..." she said quietly, and she got a little closer to Naota. Naota turned around, keeping his hand on ther arm, and he noticed four people walking towards him. They were high schoolers, he had seen them in the school before, but not today. Ninamori was right about them skipping. The one leading them was a tall, tan, dirty blonde-haired boy. They all wore trench coats, each one varying in color according to the wearer.

The leader seemed to notice Ninamori hiding behind Naota, and smirked. "Hey, Ninamori! What happened earlier, we were just trying to talk to you!" He said. One of the students walking behind him acknowledged him. Ninamori gripped onto Naota a little tighter, trying to hide behind him further. Naota pushed Ninamori behind him a little more.

Naota stood tall. "Don't come near her." He said in a serious tone. One of the other students recognized Naota, and his eyes widened a little bit. "Kakashi, thats Naota Nandaba. Thats the guy who decked out your brother a few years ago." He whispered. Thinking about this, Kakashi's smirk faded. The four stopped a few yards away from Naota and Ninamori, just in speaking distance.

"He is, huh?" Kakashi said, and he straightened out his coat. "Think you're so tough, huh? Just getting in a fight with my younger brother for no reason?" He said, walking forward slowly. "I didn't start it, he did." Naota said, remembering the fight slightly, then pushing the memory to the side. "That's not what my brother said. Do you know what you did to him?" Kakashi said, his voice getting a little louder.

Just when I thought everyone forgot about that fight, Naota thought to himself. The fight happened a few years ago, at a famous kid's birthday party. Naota had been invited somehow, and he had nothing better to do, so he went to it. Kakashi and his brother were at the party. Kakashi's brother, Sari, had somehow been put in charge of fireworks. Every year, he collected the materials and built a few batches of his own foreworks (with Kakashi's help).

But this year, Sari pooled all of his resources into one big firework rocket. The only thing about this firework was that it was obviously too big to be safe. Naota and everyone else knew that if an explosive like that misfired, people would get hurt. A lot of people tried to convince Sari to not fire off the behemoth of a firework, but Sari was set on it, for he had worked on building the thing for a whole year.

After a while, Naota tried to convince Sari too, but he was a little more convinced to change Sari's mind than the others. When Naota tried to talk to him, Sari just ignored him and kept working on the final preparations for the firing of the rocket. Naota had kept trying to talk to him until Sari was getting annoyed by the constant bothering. Sari is the type of person who gets really defensive when it comes to something that they have worked on for a while, so the two argued for a while until it escalated. Naota didn't bother to remember the details of the conflict.

"Yes, I am aware of what I did," Naota said, "But if I didn't do something, people were going to get hurt. You know that." Naota said, trying to keep his voice down. Behind him, Ninamori leaned into Naota. "He's just trying to provoke you," she whispered, "Don't let what he's saying get to you." Naota nodded. "I know." He said.

"My parents were pissed!" Kakashi said, walking closer to Naota. "Me and him got in a lot of trouble, when we didn't even do anything, and you got off without a hitch, because everyone believed you. Whats up with that, huh?" He said, still walking towards Naota slowly.

Naota knew that this guy had been told the wrong thing. "What happened, you got grounded for a month?" Naota said, letting a little smartness get past him. Kakashi scowled. "Better watch what you say, pretty boy. I'm not like my brother, I ain't going to let you get between our and that girl there's business." Kakashi pointed at Ninamori, who whimpered a little bit and ducked behind Naota a little more. Naota could have swore that she was shaking now. This is when Naota forgot the formalities.

"If you touch her again, you'll regret it." Naota said, his hands wanting to clench into fists, but he controlled himself. Kakashi stopped walking for a moment, as if he was surprised at Naota's words, but kept walking towards him. "And you think that you're going to stop me?" He said, laughing, but not smiling. "You ain't got no business with her, so let us have her before you do something you'll regret."

"You heard what I said, dumbass." Naota said. Naota didn't notice it, but behind him, Ninamori gasped a little bit. This isn't like Naota, she thought, I know he wants to defend me, but I haven't heard him swear in years! Kakashi's eyes widened a little bit. "What did you say, Nandaba?" He spat out Naota's name like it was a bad seed. Naota narrowed his eyes a little bit.

"Don't. Touch. Her." Naota said, his voice low. Kakashi narrowed his eyes as well. "I told you to be careful what you said, boy." He turned his head around, motioned for the other three to follow him. They were within about five feet from Naota now. Naota bent his knees a little bit, ready for anything.

Kakashi stopped right in front of Naota. He reached around and grabbed onto Ninamori's arm, which made her yelp in surprise. Naota quickly reacted, and pushed his forearms against Kakashi as hard as he could, sending Kakashi stumbling back a few feet into the other three supporting him. They caught him, and stood him back up. Kakashi walked back to Naota, much faster now, and pushed Naota back. Naota pushed Ninamori back a little bit to keep from running into her, but he only had to move his foot back a little bit to keep from falling over. When he was secure, Ninamori hurried back behind him.

Naota kept himself from pushing Kakashi again, but Kakashi had other ideas. He pushed Naota again, but Naota held his ground. Kakashi scowled again, and tried to push him again, but Naota blocked his hands by pushing them out of the way with his own hands.

By now, Kakashi had had enough. He curled his hand into a fist and brought it back behind him. Naota knew what he was going to do, and poised his hands in front of him in a blocking move he had learned in the short time that he had taken martial-arts classes a few years ago. Kakashi's fist flew towards him.

Naota psuhed Kakashi's fist out of its original path, then brought his other hand to Kakashi's shoulder and pushed him to the side. Kakashi fell over, landing on his side a few feet away from Naota. For a moment, everyone just stood there in silence.

Kakashi rolled over and quickly got back up. He rushed at Naota, his fist ready to fly. When he tried to throw another punch, Naota blocked it again, and sweeped his leg under Kakashi's legs, tripping him and making him fall onto his back. Kakashi just lay there for about two seconds before getting back up in front of Naota, but not making any moves.

"Alright, you asked for this..." Kakashi said, and quickly brought his fist up in an uppercut, too quickly for Naota to react. His fist slammed into Naota's stomach, making Naota exhale quickly as all the air left his lungs. Naota saw Kakashi's other fist closing in, and he had enough time to block.

He pushed Kakashi's hand out of the way again, and brought his own fist into Kakashi's cheek, making Kakashi's head snap backwards. He then pushed Kakashi away from him, but not too hard, just enough to give himself some space. He then turned his body a little bit, brought his foot up and kicked Kakashi in the chest hard enough to send Kakashi flying back a few feet. His three accomplices had to jump to the side in order to avoid being thrown to the ground.

Kakashi got to his knees and moved his hand to his face, wiping his mouth. Some blood dripped out of the corner of his mouth from a cut in his inner cheek. A look of pure rage overtook his face. Then he got up and reached into his trench coat's inner pocket.

(Music start: Invisible Kid by Metallica, but it doesn't play all the way though, I'll tell you what to expect)

Kakashi brought his hand out of his coat, a switchblade in his hand. He flipped it open, and pointed it at Naota. "Bad choice, pretty boy!" Kakashi yelled. His three friend's eyes widened, and they all backed up to a safe distance.

Naota's eyes widened, because he knew that this was serious now. He quickly reached a hand behind him and pushed Ninamori in the direction of one of the back paths that led back to the main roads of Mabase. "Run!" He yelled, and turned back to Kakashi. Ninamori ran to the path, looking back at Naota while she ran. Luckily, none of the four chased after her.

Kakashi rushed at Naota. Naota quickly jumped out of the way, turning around to face Kakashi. He had enough time to jump ot of the way as Kakashi rushed him again. This time, Kakashi was prepared for Naota to do this, for he held his switchblade out to the side a little bit in the direction Naota was dodging. The tip of the knife sliced a small cut in Naota's arm just above his elbow. Naota winced a little bit, but ignored the pain.

Kakashi slashed at Naota, but Naota ducked and avoided the knife. Kakashi started to rush Naota again, but he was too close to Naota to get any speed at first. Naota pushed the arm that was holding the knife out of the way, and as Kakashi started to gain speed, he ducked down and flipped Kakashi over his shoulder, Kakashi falling onto his back with a thud.

Before Kakashi could get up or do anything, Naota brought his foot down on Kakahsi's hand that was holding the knife. Kakashi winced, and Naota reached down and snatched the blade out of his hand before he could get his grip on it. He held the knife for a second, looking at it, before he closed the blade and dropped it next to Kakashi's head. Kakashi was too stunned to do anything.

(Music stop. Stop the song at about where the vocals come in)

"You have no Idea what I've been through this week." he said, lowering his hands. "Don't come near me or Ninamori again." Naota said, then turned and started to walk away. Kakashi just lay there, while his three buddies just stood and watched Naota walk away. When Naota was walking down the same path he sent Ninamori down, the four looked down at their leader, now sprawled on the ground.

"Are you okay, Kakashi?" one of them asked. Kakashi didn't say anything, but just lay there, staring up into the blue sky. Nearby, hiding behind some of the heavy foilage, something watched. Watched Kakashi lay on the ground. Watched Naota walk away. And it thought. It's intentions weren't good, at least for one of the two high school boys. As quickly as it had appeared, it was gone, going back to the place it had come from.


(At the end of the path that Ninamori went through)

Ninamori stood at the end of the path that Naota had sent her down, waiting in hopes that Naota would soon be coming up the path. She was afraid that Kakashi had hurt Naota, and was still hurting him that very second. The thought of Naota being seriously injured or even dying for her almost made her start bawling.

Should I go back for him? She thought to herself, biting her lip. Just as she was about to go back down the path, she saw a figure walking up the path. She quickly recognized it as Naota. She quickly ran to him and threw her arms aroung him, tears streaming down her face.

"Naota, what were you thinking! You could have been killed! He had a knife! A knife!" Ninamori cried into Naota's shoulder. Naota brought his hands up and embraced Ninamori, trying to comfort her. "Its alright, he only left a scratch. I'm okay. He won't be bothering you anymore." Naota said, patting Ninamori's back to comfort her. This didn't help much, and Ninamori kept crying into Naota's shoulder. While he patted Ninamori's back, he twisted his arm up to look at the cut Kakashi had given him. It wasn't too bad, there wasn't much blood. Hopefully his dad wouldn't notice it when he went home.

Naota noticed a bench nearby. He slowly walked Ninamori to it and helped her sit down, then sat down next to her. Ninamori sniffled, and raised her head up. She quickly pushed her head forward, closed her eyes, and kissed Naota on the lips. Hard. Naota's eyes widened, and the force of Ninamori's kiss made him lean backwards a little bit. They just sat like that for what seemed like forever, Ninamori's lips pressed against his.

When Ninamori brought her head back, separating them from the kiss, she opened her eyes. The two stared each other in the face. Naota smiled nervously. "W-Wow, Ninamori-" Naota wasn't able to finish his sentence, for Ninamori kissed him again. This kiss lasted for longer than the first one. Much longer. The kiss lasted for at least a minute, until they both had to catch their breath. Ninamori blushed a deep red, and buried her face in Naota's chest. Naota brought his hand up and placed it on the back of Ninamori's head, not sure what else to do.

"I've been wanting to do that for years," Ninamori said quietly, "But now seemed like the best time for it. I can't believe you would risk yourself for my safety... Why did you do it?" Ninamori asked. Naota smiled, and moved his hand under Ninamori's chin and tilted her head up so they were face-to-face.

"I couldn't just let them have you. I know how people like that can be, who knows what they would have done to you." Naota said, and Ninamori blushed a little bit and looked away for a moment, then looked back at him. "Besides," Naota said, smiling a little bit, "You're my best friend. It's my duty to help you."

Ninamori smiled too, and gave Naota a light kiss on the lips, then laid her head on his shoulder again. "Thank you. So much." Ninamori said. "It's no problem, Ninamori. I'm here when you need me."

They sat there for a few minutes, Ninamori snuggling into Naota, and Naota sitting there, not knowing what to do. He wasn't sure what to think of what Ninamori had just done, because kissing him was the last thing he expected her to do.

After a while, Ninamori decided to break the silence. "Hey, Naota?" Ninamori said, looking up at him. "Yeah?" Naota said, looking down at her. Ninamori laid her head on Naota's shoulder. "Why do you think that Mabase is such a boring place? I know that it really is boring a lot of the times, but ever since your sixteenth birthday, you've seemed to be able to cope more with the unoriginality of the place. What is with that?" Ninamori asked, absentmindedly staring at Naota's neck.

Naota didn't speak for a few seconds, trying to think of what to say. "I guess this place isn't as boring as it was four years ago. That was when I really went on about how boring this place was, wasn't it?" Naota said. Ninamori nodded. "Yeah, mostly then, but there was this one thing that you said when we were fourteen, when you were still sad about Haruko and Mamimi leaving. I think you know what I'm talking about." Ninamori said.

Naota did know. He remembered that day like it was yesterday.


(Flashback scene, the image fades completely to white, then to the following scene. Imagine the colors are of slightly higher contrast, and there is a very slight fade to white around the image.)

It was almost sundown. A warm wind blew through Mabase, makjng Ninamori's hair move to the side. Where were they? The bridge, thats right. The one that Naota always hung out at. The one he had hung out with Mamimi at.

Naota sat on the bridge's sidewalk nearby. His head was lowered, and he was deep in thought. Ninamori stood up, leaning against the railing near him. She faced towards the river and watched as the yellow-orange sun started to dissapear behind the horizon. The sky was a cool blue, but it was a light pink-orange mix near where the sun was. The sun's light reflected off the water brightly.

They were both younger then. Naota still had his short hair, but was aready much taller than when Haruko came around. Ninamori was the same height as him, and her hair was longer than before.

The breeze blew again, sending some of the litter scattered by Mabase citizens rolling past them. A page of newspaper fluttered down the sidewalk like a tumbleweed from an old western movie. A few empty soda cans tinkered past. An empty coffee cup rolled past Naota, and stopped at Ninamori's foot. Ninamori noticed, and looked down at the cup. She reached down and picked up, looking it over for a brief second, before tossing it into the garbage bin a few feet away.

Naota was still thinking, not stirring until another stray page of newspaper rolled past and stopped on his leg, the corner fluttering from the wind. Naota looked up a little bit, looking over the paper without touching it.

"Advertisements." Naota said, his voice as dull as a display katana. "Hmm?" Ninamori hummed, looking over to him. "Someone threw away their newspaper, and the advertisements landed on my leg. Looks like I'll be visiting the Vespa dealership." Naota said, tapping the advertisement for the nearby Vespa dealership before he pushed the newspaper off his leg, watching it tumble down the sidewalk with the rest of the trash.

Ninamori looked back out to the river, watching the light waves bend the sunlight reflecting off it. "It's not like this everyday, we should enjoy it." Ninamori said, tapping her fingertip against the railing. She looked back over to Naota, who hadn't moved an inch. A car zoomed past on the bridge. Naota shook his head absentmindedly. Ninamori bit her lip, trying to find something to say Naota. She gave up, and looked back out to the river, feeling forlorn.

A few seconds passed, until Naota decided that it wouldn't hurt to stand with Ninamori. He got up, walked over to the railing next to Ninamori, and crossed his arms on the rail, resting his chin on his arm. Ninamori looked to the side and noticed Naota there, smiled a little, then looked at the river once again.

Ninamori was deep in thought also. She looked across the river, then at the buildings on either side. She saw the Medical Mechanica factory tilted on its side at the top of the large hill. Naota looked up at it too, and frowned a little bit. Ninamori sighed, and looked back to Naota.

"You know, it's her fault that thing is still there." Ninamori said. Naota didn't have to ask who her was, for he already knew. He sighed, and looked in the opposite direction. "Until she came, you thought this place was horrible. Come to think of it, you thought it was horrible then too. You were always saying that nothing amazing happens here, and you were right. But when she came everything changed. Except for you." Ninamori said.

Naota said nothing back. Ninamori glared at him. A few seconds later, Naota spoke. "This place is an Octavarium." He said. "A what?" Ninamori said. The wind blew again. "An Octavarium. Everything ends where it begins. I realized that soon after Haruko left. One day would start out normal, nothing special. Then one of those horns would grow on my head. That would be the first out of the ordinary thing of the day. Then, later that same day, a robot would pop out of my head, and me or Haruko would destroy it. The horn would be gone, and the day would be done. Everything would be back to normal."

Ninamori didn't know what to say to this. In a way, Naota was right. But, in another way, he wasn't. There was more to this town than Naota wanted to believe, but Ninamori understood his reasoning. This town wasn't very good to him, and the appearance and leaving of Haruko had changed him. Probably for the rest of his life. She doubted that Haruko would come back, but she never told Naota that, for it might crush him.

"There you have it. An Octavarium. And seeing how every day is one, something is telling me that all of our lives are going to be one. I mean, look at me for example. I was born in the old hospital on the other side of town. Chances are, I'm going to die there too. It happened to my mother, who says it won't happen to the rest of us?"

At this point, Ninamori had had enough. She grabbed Naota's wrist and pulled him closer to her with a strength she never knew she had. "Naota, you can't going around thinking of the world like that! The world isn't as bad of a place as you think it is, you know!" Ninamori said, louder than she wanted it to be. Naota didn't flinch at Ninamori's touch, or her loud voice. While she talked, Naota just stared at her.

When Ninamori had calmed down a little bit, Naota spoke again. "I don't think that way about the whole world, just Mabase. This place will never change, I know better than that." He said, turning his head away from Ninamori. Ninamori frowned, and let go of Naota's wrist slowly. "I'm sorry." Ninamori said quietly. Naota looked back at her, smiled a little bit, and put his hand on her shoulder. "It's alright. I know what I'm saying is a bit strange, but if you've been through what I've been through, you would understand better." Naota told her.

The sun was almost below the horizon, only a small half-circle stood above the line. Naota backed away from the railing a little bit, standing straight up. Ninamori turned around to look at Naota. Naota looked around, then looked in the direction of uptown Mabase. He looked back at Ninamori, and smiled a little bit.

"We should probably be getting home now, our parent's won't be happy with us if we stay out for much longer." Naota said. Ninamori nodded, and pushed herself off the railing, getting one last glance at the river. They both started walking down the sidewalk, side-by-side.


When Naota was done recalling the memory, he saw that more time had passed than he thought. Judging from the sun's position in the sky, it was around six o' clock. Ninamori still sat next to him, her head laying on his shoulder. He smiled, and moved one of his hands up, lifting Ninamori's chin up. Ninamori had been thinking too, but she came back to reality when she felt Naota tilting her head up. Their eyes met, and they both smiled.

"We should probably be getting home now, our parent's won't be happy with us if we stay out for much longer." Naota said, remembering what he had said in his memory. Ninamori smiled and giggled a little bit. "You remembered..." she said quietly, still smiling. "Yep." Naota replied, smiling back at her.

"No, seriously, our parents usually get worried when we don't come home after three hours. And I have to try and get past my dad without him seeing this cut." Naota said, raising up his arm and pointing at the cut he had got in his fight with Kasashi. Ninamori's smile faded as she saw the cut, then she looked back at Naota.

"Are you going to be okay, Naota?" Ninamori asked, looking concerned. Naota smiled at her. "Yeah, its nothing. I just need to get it covered up or something." Naota replied. Ninamori kept her gaze on him, but her worry seemed to dampen a little bit. She slowly lifted herself up off the bench, stretched out her arms, then looked back down at Naota. Naota got up also.

"C'mon, I'll walk with you." Ninamori said, smiling a little bit. Naota smiled back, and they both started to walk down the sidewalk towards their neighborhoods.


(Meanwhile)

Kasashi walked alone down one of the sidewalks in downtown Mabase, in the industrial part of town. A bunch of old factories, stores, and a few electricity grid buildings stood there. He looked down at the sidewalk while he walked. He kept thinking about earlier today, when he fought that Naota kid. Or at least tried to.

His hands clenched into fists. He better not show his face again, or I'll kill him, he thought to himself. He couldn't believe that he had been beaten by Naota. He had never lost a fight, fair fight or not, and he wasn't planning on letting Naota forget why people feared him.

As he was passing by one of the alleyways between an old store and an unused plastic cup factory, he saw someone walking towards him on the same sidewalk as him further up ahead. The person raised a hand and made a small wave at Kakashi. Kakashi tilted his head to the side a little bit, and stopped walking.

The person motioned for Kakashi to come to him. Kakashi didn't move. The person started walking towards him again, and Kakashi tensed up a little bit. What did this person want with him? As the person got closer, Kakashi could see that he was male. He was dressed in a formal suit-like outfit, dark blue in color. He stopped a few feet away from Kakashi, he raised one of his hands up.

"Relax, I just want to talk, Kakashi." He said, lowering his hand. Kakashi slowly untensed a little. "What do you want? And how do you know my name?" Kakashi asked seriously. The man narrowed his eyes and smiled grimly. "Oh, I don't know. Lucky guess." He said, his smile not fading. Kakashi backed away from the man a little bit, and his hand slowly crept into his pocket that contained his switchblade.

The man noticed Kakashi reaching into his pocket, and smirked. "Oh, please. No need for distrust here." He said, almost too reassuring for Kakashi to believe. "What do you want, I have places to be!" Kakashi said.

"I just want to discuss a little matter of business with you," The man said, "About Naota Nandaba." Kakashi's eyes widened for a moment. "You're with him, aren't you? On his side?" He asked, and he quickly pulled his knife out, flipping it open. The man looked down at Kakashi's blade, and laughed. "No, quite the opposite, in fact. No violence is needed here." He said. Kakashi relaxed a bit, lowering the knife, but keeping it in his hand. "Alright, start talking." Kakashi said.

The man moved his hands behind his back, and leaned forward a little bit. "I understand you have a little bone to pick with him? Hmm?" He said. "Hell yes," Kakashi said, "That bastard disgraced my brother, then me!" The man nodded. "I see. Nandaba had been causing some problems for me as well. I heard about the little tussle you two got into earlier today, so I thought you would make a good asset, since both of our intentions are practically the same."

Kakashi tilted his head to the side a little bit. "What are you saying?" He asked. For the first time in the conversation, the smile on the man's face faded, and he narrowed his eyes a little bit. "I want you to get rid of Naota Nandaba. Permanently." He said, a tone of seriousness in his voice.

Kakashi's eyes widened for a moment. He knew that Naota was a problem, but was this man crazy? Kakashi knew that he had a bone to pick with Naota, but it wasn't that big of a bone. He thought for a moment, considering the opposition and the odds. Naota was just trying to defend that girl, anyway.

No, Kakashi thought, It's not just the girl. My brother got disgraced because of him, and its my job to protect my family. Kakashi looked back at the man and nodded. "I'm in. What do you need me to do?"

The man's smile reappeared. "I'm glad you made the right choice. First off, I need to get you aquainted with my plan. Please follow me, and I'll take you to my 'base of operations'." He said, and he turned around and started walking down the sidewalk. Kakashi looked around for a moment, then followed the man. The road they were on led to Mabase's main road, which led straight up to the Medical Mechanica factory.

/FLCL\

(The Nandaba household, in the living room.)

Naota sat on the couch in the living room, repeatedly tossing a baseball up into the air, catching it, then repeating the process. The TV was on, but the sound was muted. He could hear Canti shuffling around upstairs, taking care of chores around the house. He had gotten home not too long ago; he had escorted Ninamori home to make sure that she wouldn't get jumped by Kakashi or his friends again, then headed home himself. Naota had bandaged the cut he had gotten from the fight with Kakashi, and he wore a long-sleeve shirt to cover it up. So far, no-one had noticed it.

Mamimi was still at the house. She was still staying with them, for the people who she said were looking for her were still trying to find her. Naota suspected that her parents were the ones looking for her. He had never met Mamimi's parents, so he couldn't be sure who to look out for.

Suddenly, Mamimi herself walked into the room. She was holding her camera in her hands, and she was going around the room taking pictures of everything. She aimed the camera at the shelf above Naota holding a few vases on it, then click, then the camera's bright light flashed. She turned the camera to the small coffee table in front of Naota, then click, then the flash. Next, she aimed the camera at Naota, then click, then the flash. Naota raised his free hand in front of his face and squinted a little bit from the flash.

"What are you doing?" Naota asked, lowering his hand from his face. Mamimi took a picture of the TV, then turned to look at Naota. "I'm practicing my photography. I guess you could call me a workoholic." She said, then she turned around and walked towards the stairs. Right before Mamimi got to the stairs, Haruko came down the stairs. When Haruko got tot he bottom step, Mamimi took a picture of her too, then she hurried upstairs.

Haruko walked to the couch and sat next to Naota. "What is she up to?" Haruko asked, pointing her thumb at the stairs, but indicating Mamimi. "Photography, she says she is a workoholic." Naota said. "Mhm..." Haruko hummed, then she plucked the remote for the TV off the table, unmuted the show, then kept watching it.

A few seconds later, Naota's dad burst into the room. In his hand was a dark tinted bottle, with a label that Naota couldn't read from his spot on the couch. His father seemed pretty excited. Kamon quickly walked past them and into the kitchen.

"Father, the wine came in the mail today!" Kamon called out from the kitchen. The moment Kamon finished his sentence, Naota's grandfather raced down the stairs and into the kitchen. "Well, it's about time they sent it!" Shigekuni said. A few seconds later, Mamimi came down the stairs and poked her head into the kitchen to see what the fuss was about. As soon as she saw the bottle of wine, her face brightened, and she hurried into the kitchen as well.

"Is that what I think it is?" Mamimi asked, standing next to Shigekuni. Kamon beamed at Mamimi, and lifted the bottle up for the trio to see. "Yes it is!" Kamon said. The kitchen's light reflected off the glass bottle. "A bottle of Gesticci wine, straight from Italy and aged to perfection!" He said, reaching around the counter to try and find his cork opener.

Soon, Haruko went into the kitchen as well. She had never heard of the wine before, but judging from everyone's reactions, it seemed good. Naota didn't know why it was such a big deal, but he eventually went into the kitchen too. Shortly after Naota went into the kitchen, Kamon found the cork opener, and was busy taking the cork off the bottle of wine. Shigekuni was pawing through the cupboards, looking for their old wine glasses. Mamimi never took her eyes off the bottle, while Haruko and Naota stood side by side, watching the whole thing go on.

When the bottle was open and Shigekuni had the wine glasses arranged neatly across the counter, Kamon started pouring the contents of the bottle into the glasses, an equal amount for each one. Once all the glasses were filled, he handed one to everyone, including Haruko and Naota, He took his own glass off the counter and raised it up.

"I have waited so long for this wine to come, I thought they would never send it!" Kamon said. Mamimi looked at her glass, then looked up at Kamon. "I went to Italy during a trip I was going on for my photography job, and I tried some of this wine while I was there. It is perfect!" Mamimi said, raising her glass up to her lips and taking a sip of the wine. Judging from Mamimi's next facial expression, it was the best thing she had ever tasted.

Everyone started drinking their wine, except for Haruko and Naota. Haruko stood there and swirled the contents of her glass around, while Naota watched the three adults drink their wine. Haruko looked over at Naota, and lifted her glass up a little bit. "Are you going to drink that?" Haruko asked, tilting her glass towards Naota's slightly. Naota looked down at his glass and gazed into the dark liquid in it. He could see his dim reflection in the liquid.

Naota shrugged, then brought the glass up to his lips and took a sip of the wine. It tasted pretty good, so he kept taking little sips of it. Haruko drank hers as well. Soon, the adults were done with their first glasses of wine, and they were pouring their second glasses.

This went on for a few more minutes, before Kamon took the bottle of wine off the counter, put the cork back on it, opened a nearby cabinet which contained various other bottles of wine, and put the bottle in with the rest of the bottles. Kamon turned back to everyone.

"We can't drink all of it tonight, we have to save some for a special occasion!" Kamon said. Shigekuni and Mamimi nodded, then they walked out of the kitchen, setting their empty wine glasses in the sink. Kamon turned to walk out of the kitchen as well, but caught sight of Haruko and Naota standing nearby. He glanced at their wine glasses.

"So, what do you think of that wine?" Kamon asked. Haruko glanced down at her glass, then back up at Kamon. "It was pretty good, where did you get it?" Haruko asked. Kamon beamed at Haruko. "I ordered it straight from Gesticci a few months ago. They told me that the bottle was aged enought already, but I guess they had to let it set for a little longer."

Kamon walked out of the kitchen. Haruko and Naota took the last few sips of their wine, then set their glasses in the sink. Haruko went back to the couch, while Naota walked throught the door to the bakery, then outside.

It was almost dark. The sun was already beneath the horizon, and the last few rays of light were coming through. The continuous drone of the always busy downtown Mabase had died down, since mostly everyone had gone home for the night. The only thing Naota could really hear was the approaching sound of a motorcycle engine.

Naota looked down the road and saw a single headlight coming in his direction down the road. As it got closer, he thought he recognized the sound of it. It sounded like Ivan's motorcycle, but he couldn't be sure. A few seconds later, the driver of the motorcycle stopped at the curb on the other side of the street, dismounted the vehicle, and fast-walked towards Naota.

As the figure drew closer, Naota recognized him as Ivan. He had no guitar strapped to his back, but NAota saw Ivan's gold Apocalypse Special strapped to Ivan's motorcycle. He wore simply jeans, a dark brown shirt, and a brown leather jacket over it. Naota smiled, and raised his hand to wave. Ivan stopped right in front of Naota, smiled also, and clapped Naota on the shoulder.

"It is good to see you, Naota. Is Haruko here?" Ivan asked, gazing at the front door of the Nandaba house. "She wouldn't be anywhere else. What do you need her for?" Naota replied, turning around and starting to walk to the door. Ivan followed close behind. "I need to talk to you two. Something happened involving Medical Mechanica, and I thought that you guys needed to hear it." Ivan said, his tone slightly more serious.

They both hurried inside, being greeted immediately by the flash of Mamimi's camera. They both ignored the flash and walked past Mamimi, much to her dismay, and kept walking. Haruko saw them walking and immediately knew that she had to follow, and got up off the couch and walked behind Ivan.

The three walked up the stairs and went to Naota's room. They walked inside, then Naota closed the door behind them to prevent anyone from hearing their conversation. Naota sat down at the edge of the bed, Haruko plopped down in Naota's desk's chair and rolled it over to the bed so she was sitting next to Naota, and Ivan stood. Ivan leaned against the wall and took in a deep breath, then exhaled.

"Medical Mechanica is up to something, and it isn't good." Ivan began. "Now, do not be alarmed at this, but I was inside the Medical Mechanica factory earlier today." Ivan said. At this, both Naota's and Haruko's eyes widened. "Why?" Naota asked. Ivan looked around the room for a moment. "Have you noticed that they haven't been trying to attack us at all lately? Well, I thought that it was way too suspicious to be left alone, so I decided to go spy around inside the factory."


(Flashback scene. This scene is focused on Ivan. The scene starts with Ivan crawling through an air vent in the Medical Mechanica factory.)

I don't even know why I'm doing this, Ivan thought to himself as he lay prone in an extremely cramped air vent. He wore the same attire that he would visit Naota in later, except the leather jacket was replaced with a black sweater to help conceal Ivan if the need arose. On his belt was a gun holster that contained a .44 Revolver with a shortened barrel. He didn't want to bring the firearm, but he knew that he needed a weapon in case a violent situation arose, and a guitar wouldn't work this time.

He continued to crawl down the air vent until he got to a grating on the bottom of the vent. Ivan knew that the grating was probably conntected with bolts, but he tried to remove it anyway. He got as firm of a grip as he could on the shutter-like openings of the grating, and pushed forward as hard as he could. Surprisingly, the cover popped off of its supports easily, and Ivan very gently laid it down outside the vent to prevent making noise. He crawled out of the vent opening, quickly standing up and getting a view of the room he was in.

He was in a small, dark, and empty room with a good number of strange computer towers standing up in a grid formation throughout the room. All of them had several constantly blinking lights on them, color varying with each button. Ivan ignored these tiny lights and hurried towards the other side of the room, where a very strange looking door stood in the wall. It was made conpletely of metal, and there was a small keypad at elbow level on the right side of the door. The keypad consisted of several letters that Ivan had never seen before.

The buttons glowed a bright green, and a small green button on it blinked. Ivan cautiously pressed the small green button, and the door slowly slid to the side, revealing the largest hallway that Ivan had ever seen. There was no illumination whatsoever throughout the entire hallway, except for light coming from the windows of the many rooms that dotted either side of the walls.

Ivan slowly walked out of the room, and the door automatically slid shut when he got clear of it. He continued to walk down the huge hallway, marveling at how high the ceiling was. He walked for several minutes, until he heard talking. He traced the talking to a certain room with a large, open door. He cautiously peeked through the open door.

There were a dozen or more people wearing white lab coats, most of them standing at small computer terminals and punching in commands to the computer. At the center of the room was a table, being held up by a single large bar, surrounded by several different machines. On the table lay a person, but Ivan couldn't identify him. Near the table, a tall individual wearing a blue uniform-like outfit spoke to one of the scientists.

Suddenly, the table rose up a few feet, then tilted forward until it was completely vertical. The person laying on the table wore no shirt, just clothed in his jeans. He was attached to the table by his ankles and wrists by shackle-like supports that were built into the table. Across his waist was another support that helped him stay attached to the table.

The tall uniform-clad man turned away from the scientist and turned towards the table, looking at the person on it. "Now we can begin, Kakashi." The man said. Kakashi pulled at one of his wrist supports. "What are all of these shackles for?" he said. Almost immediately after he said that, the same scientist that the man had been talking to stepped forward. "We need you to be completely still during the procedure." The man said in what sounded like a German accent.

Kakashi looked around, gazing at the massive amounts of machinery and computers in the room, then he looked back down at the tall man and the scientist. "Um, you haven't really told me exactly what you are going to do to me yet. Could you let me in on it?" Kakashi asked. The man looked at the scientist, who looked back at him with a confused look. The man nodded at the scientist, then turned back to Kakashi. The scientist walked forward a few steps.

"Since you agreed to be part of our operation," the scientist said, " we have decided to make you our main seek-and-destroy operative. We are going to make improvements to your physical and mental being. Let me explain. We are going to make you stronger and faster than you ever thought possible. You are going to have extremely fast reflexes; so fast, that it will just look like fast-motion to us. You will be equipped with a prototype armor that we have been designing for many years. Think of it as a... test run for the final model."

"In other words," the scientist said, "we are going to turn you into a super-soldier." Kakashi nodded. "I'm ready." he said. The scientist smiled. "Excellent! Now, you may continue." the scientist said, nodding to the tall man, then scurrying off towards a small group of other scientists. The man looked over at a different group of scientists, who nodded at him, then resumed their work. Kakashi looked back at Kakashi and smiled.

"Now, this procedure has been done many times, so you don't have to worry about anything going wrong, but the procedure does get painful in some of the more important parts of it, so you will have to bear with us until those parts are done." the man said. Kakashi nodded again, then looked over at a third group of scientists who were approaching the table. Two of them went right up to the table, while the others stood near the tall man.

The first scientist pulled out a small syringe with a clear liquid contained in it. "This is a primer for the compounds we will be using to improve your muscle structure." he said, then he pushed the needle into Kakashi's arm, injecting the liquid. After the syringe was emptied, Kakashi stretched his arm a little bit.

The second scientist also had a syringe, but it's contents were a pale yellow. "This is the primer for the bone structure improvement. I have to inject this right into your bones, so it is going to be painful. You may want to brace yourself." he said. Kakashi bit his lip a little, and nodded. The scientist pushed the needle into Kakashi's other arm, but didn't stop immediately like the other scientist did. He continued to push, until the needle encountered a block, the bone in Kakashi's arm. He just kept pushing, until the needle pushed through the tough shell of the bone. Kakashi winced and groaned in pain.

Ivan had had enough. He stepped backward a few steps, then turned around and hurried back to the room from where he had came from. He quickly crawled back into the air vent and retraced his path through the air vent system back to the place where he entered outside. He had to get to Naota and tell him about this quickly.


(Flashback finish)

"That is what I gathered." Ivan finished. Naota looked over at Haruko, who had a look of worry over her face. She bit her lip, then looked over at Naota. "Do you know who it was they were doing this to?" Naota asked, looking back at Ivan. Ivan nodded. "I heard the one man call him Kakashi." At this, Naota almost blacked out.

"Kakashi?" Naota said, extremely worried. Haruko and Ivan looked at him, confused. "What is wrong, Naota? Is Kakashi bad news?" Haruko asked. Naota nodded quickly. "Earlier today, I protected Ninamori from him and a couple of his friends. He has a score to settle with me, and now he has a way to settle it." Naota explained.

Haruko looked over at the various guitars propped up in the corner of the room, then looked back at Ivan. "We can almost certainly expect a fight, and something tells me that it is going to be sooner than we think." Naota said. Haruko and Ivan both nodded. "I'm going to stay here tonight. If Kakashi strikes tomorrow, which I think he will, you will need all the help you can get." Ivan said. Haruko and Naota nodded at Ivan, then looked at each other.

Naota and Haruko looked at each other with questioning eyes. Naota slowly moved his hand up and set it on Haruko's, which was resting on the arm of the chair. Haruko smiled at him. Naota smiled back.

"We have a fight ahead of us, Haruko." Naota said quietly.


(Scene change. Inside the Medical Mechanica factory, in the hallway where Ivan spied on Kakashi's super-soldier augmentation.)

The hall was dark, except for the lights coming from the other rooms. Two men stood in front of the large door to the main lab, where Kakashi had successfully been augmented into a super-soldier. The tall man in the blue uniform was standing up straight with his hands behind his back. The main scientist stood next to him, a look of success on his face.

"The procedure was successful, sir. Kakashi had been transformed into our greatest soldier yet." the scientist said. The uniform-clad man smiled at him, and held out his hand. The two shook hands. "Excellent work. Can I see him?" the man asked. "Of course." the scientist said, and he punched a code into the small keypad on the door. The door slid open, and the two walked inside, the door sliding shut behind them. The room was dark except for a single light shining down in the center of the room.

"Kakashi, come out and show the Commander the success of the operation. He is dying to see the great soldier you have become." the scientist said. At first, nothing happened. Then, there were footsteps. Slowly, a figure came out of the darkness and into the single light shining on the floor.

The augmentations on Kakashi's muscles and bones had made him grow to at least seven feet tall. He wore no shirt, and the large muscles on his arms and torso were extremely visible. His hands were balled into fists. He looked like he was ready to strangle the closest person to him, but he showed great restraint. He continued walking until he was right in front of the tall man. Kakashi towered over both of the Medical Mechanica officials. The scientist backed up a step, while the man stood still and looked up at Kakashi.

"Amazing..." the scientist said quietly. "Indeed he is. How are you feeling, Kakashi?" the man asked. A smirk appeared on Kakashi's face. "Like a new man." Kakashi said. His voice had changed too, and now sounded a bit deeper. The man smirked as well. "Good to hear. I hope you are ready for your first assignment."

Kakashi nodded. "Your first missin involves Naota Nandaba, but not directly. You will be able to take care of him later. But for now, you are to aim for someone who is very close to him. Her name is Haruko Haruhara. She has been a great threat to our operations for many years, so you are the one who is to take care of her. But..." the man paused for a moment.

"I want you to make her suffer in every way possible. Show her no mercy. Make her beg for you to spare her, then kill her." the man said, malice in his voice. Kakashi nodded. "I'll make her regret ever being born." Kakashi said. The man smirked again. "Excellent." he said, then he turned to the scientist, who quickly regained himself from being in the presence of the new and improved Kakashi.

"Show him his armor. I'm sure he will love it." the man said. The scientist quickly saluted him, then looked up at kakashi, who looked back down at him. "Please follow me, Kakashi." the scientist said, trying not to sound afraid of Kakashi. He started towards the door, and Kakashi followed him. The man turned around and watched the two leave, a smirk on his face.

There is no escaping this time, Haruhara.

/End Credits\


Haruko's Voice: Well, it looks like we can expect a fight in the future, but what is going to happen? Is Kakashi really as dangerous as we think? Are we going to be able to defend ourselves from this new threat? Find out soon! Next, on FLCL Second: Fortis Anima!


Finally, this chapter is done! You all have no idea how long it took me to think this up, school was making me busy and I was working on a bunch of other things, but now that I'm back in gear, you can expect more chapters soon.

If you see any spelling errors, please tell me. I've been working on this chapter for an extremely long time, and I can't bother looking through this entire chapter for errors right now.

Please review, and I'll see you in the next chapter.

G-man