Life is a strange thing. It does odd things like making me hate something I once loved, and making me love someone I once hated. Life changes too much. I guess life is all about changing.

When I was young, I was happy. I made other people happy. Smiles were frequent and friends were abundant. People flocked to me likeā€¦ things that flock. My family was happy and I loved to make people laugh. I liked everyone; therefore, everyone liked me. How could you not like the pretty girl that always smiled?

Later, people found a way. I was oblivious to the scoffs behind my back. I would just smile. But the pain was there, hiding and disguising itself as sadness. I thought smiles were the only cure for sadness. I smiled to make it go away. I laughed and made jokes to ease the pain. It annoyed people. Some thought I was funny, would laugh at me. Some were a variation of nice. At least they weren't mean. Who wants to be friends with someone who can't take a hint? Why don't they like me?

That was before I was kidnapped. A person (I know not if they were a man, a woman, or even human, for how could a human being do something so terrible?) took my small hand and spouted some nonsense about helping my parents. I was led to a nondescript car and pushed into the back seat. Another being was there, talking about how much fun we were going to have. I smiled the whole time. They led me to a dark house away from all the rest. They sat me in a chair and handed me a phone. They told me to talk to Mommy and Daddy. They told me to tell them how scared I was. But I wasn't scared. Should I have been scared? I was only scared when I heard Mommy and Daddy sounding scared. There were police with them. Had I done something wrong. I started telling them about the car ride and the house. Pain seared my cheek when the being hit me. They had hit me. Now I was scared. They asked my parents for money. Why did they want money? I thought they wanted a new toy. I thought they were stupid. If they smiled, they could get whatever they wanted. Just smile. The people were stupid. They threatened to do all kinds of things to me that still give me nightmares, but the police came fast. They didn't hide right. So stupid. The police gave me back to Mommy and Daddy, taking the people away. Who were those people? Who would do something like that?

I was never the same. I saw things differently, people differently. Everything was suspicious. Were they eyeing me? Was I in danger? What were they thinking? All those girls that tolerated the oblivious me now hated me. All those boys whom thought smiley me was annoying were strangely attracted to tortured and brooding me. Everything was backwards and scrambled around, like I was the white sock thrown into the color load. All their opinions, all their expectations bled onto me. It was even worse at home. Mommy and Daddy were mad because of 'the incident.' They didn't blame me. Oh no, that would be too nice. Instead, they blamed each other. Couldn't they see that it was my fault? They fought and broke up our family. They didn't want to, but they couldn't help it. I ruined us. I broke us up into itty- bitty pieces. How could I forgive myself?

They decided to relocate us to a 'safer' neighborhood. We just picked up and left. I didn't miss anyone and I bet no one missed me. I started a new school, a new life. It didn't help much. Boys still liked the fake me. Girls still hated that. But there was one difference. This school had Amu, and therefore the Guardians. I didn't want to trust her, but I couldn't help it. She empathized, knowing exactly what I had gone through. But not really. It helped, gradually, but I wasn't cured. Everything had a new light to it, and it wasn't good. It was a harsh interrogator's light, fluorescent and persistent. It would do anything to choke the truth out, even if it really weren't true. Silence was my best weapon. Sarcasm was the back up plan. Smiling was for pussies. How could I have changed so quickly?

When I joined the Guardians, I became close to Amu. She was my lifeline to reality, to sanity. When I heard about Nadeshiko, I thought of the girls I had left behind. The girls that greet me with sugary sweet smiles while convinced that they were better than I was. The girls that pitied me and left me to fend for myself. The sugar hid their inner cruelty. I couldn't believe that Amu had been friends with her. I was disappointed with Amu and a bit jealous. How could I compare?

Then I met her twin, Nagihiko. He was worse than I had imagined. He had a permanent smile, even when I mocked him outright. He was stupid, weak, just as I had been. Even worse, he clung to Amu like a lost puppy, looking up at her with those sad brown eyes. I recognized those eyes. He was in torment, yet he smiled. This boy had a secret. Later, I got to now him better. Underneath that weak and friendly attitude, he was conniving and calculating. This made me hate him more. Why did he have it all figured out when I didn't?

This boy didn't give up. He amused himself with torturing me. Every smile was a stab in the heart, especially when it wasn't directed at me. Especially when it was directed at Amu. I coveted Amu, effectively keeping my best friend and keeping Nagihiko available. But available for what? What did I want from this boy? How did he make me feel?

He made me stop thinking and say stupid things. He made me blush just because he was near. He annoyed me, yet captivated me at the same time. He brought at the worst in me, and turned it into the best. In those dark, isolated moments, when a peaceful silence envelopes us and he is so near, yet too far, he makes me want to reach over and touch his hand to get his attention. When he would turn to me with that confused expression, or maybe even a smile, I would lean over and claim his lips with mine. I want him to be mine. But that is just a fantasy. He makes me fantasize about him. I can't control the emotions I have for him, so I push him away with insults. I know it's wrong. I know it's not what I'm supposed to do. I know how I feel. But how does he feel? How did I make him feel?

It went on this way for years, well into the teen years. We were in high school, still acting childish. I knew how I felt, but didn't want to admit it. It became time to admit it. I dragged him with me. The smart-ass was being his usual useless self. I dragged him to the rose garden where we first met, the Royal Garden. Dusk was settling on the autumn day. I did it early in the school year. I didn't want him taken from me. The moon was bright that night, so were the stars. I opened myself up that nigh, in the dark and silence. I said everything I ever wanted to say. My heart was exposed and ready to be his. Everything was rushed, but seemed to be happening in slow motion. Tears fell down my face, real ones, ones of happiness and nervousness. Happy nervousness. I finally stopped, not knowing what would happen. I hoped, I prayed, for the best. It didn't come. He said he didn't know what to say. It seemed that it had never occurred to him. He couldn't fathom that I could be a real girl. To him, I was a devil, a rival for Amu. I might as well have been nothing. But he didn't say that. All he said was that he didn't know. How? I was stubborn; he was smart. Why did I have it all figured out when he didn't?

He took forever to decide. He stopped talking to me. I lost my enemy, my friend, my frenemy. Things became awkward. I blame him, but deep down, I knew it was my fault. You should never fall for the enemy. He got a new girl, Amu. I knew that all along she was all he wanted. He never wanted me. He hated me. I kept him from his dream girl. She was beautiful, nice, and good at everything. She was tall. She might be a little ditzy, but that's why everyone loves her. Everyone loves her. Nobody loves me. I'm mean. I like comedy, which is not cute. I'm possessive and vain. She isn't. I love Amu and I'm not the only one. There is a reason for that. How could I compare?

Nagihiko was never the same. He was always with Amu, I rarely saw him. When I did, he never smiled. He must hate me. I miss Amu, but I miss Nagihiko more. I miss his permanent smile. I miss his quick wit. I even miss his insults. He was fun to be with. He was deep, like a well with hidden treasure buried at the bottom. I could swim deep, deep into that well, into his brown eyes. I wanted to know everything about him. I knew he had secrets. I knew that not everything in his life was happy. Now he seems dull. How could he have changed so quickly?

I hated him. He didn't even have the nerve to reject me, he just left and came back with my best friend. My life sucked. My parents had finally stopped fighting. They got restraining orders against each other. I traded weeks, walking between houses. They couldn't stand the sight of each other. I've never been extraordinary at school, and I stopped caring. I was depressed one night, avoiding my parents and homework, so I left for a walk. The sky was dark, the moon and stars hidden. The street lamps flickered, bringing the dark in and out of focus. It was okay. I didn't want to know what was waiting for me up ahead. I'd rather not die in fear. I passed a theatre. The sign read: Nadeshiko Fujisaki performing tonight! I was curious. I entered. A beautiful girl was on stage, her purple hair tied up and her feet gliding across the floor. She worked so hard, her face so determined, but she never broke a sweat. She never lost her smile. I wanted to meet this girl. I wanted to know why everyone, even Amu, worshipped her so. More so, I wanted to know what was going on with her brother. I snuck backstage, ready to ask her, when a woman came out. This woman had grace and poise, her hair in a perfect bun. Her elegant face smiled and addressed her daughter. She called her Nagihiko. She called him Nagihiko. It was Nagihiko. I couldn't believe it, but it made perfect sense. Nadeshiko was Nagihiko. Or was Nagihiko Nadeshiko? Did I hate (love?) a boy or a girl? Who knew? The next day, I told Amu. I told her many horrible things about him lying to her. About her lying to her. She was mad, sad, hurt. What had I done to my best friend? Nagihiko hated me to. Turns out he was a boy. Turns out he had every right to lie. Turns out he deserved every bit of Amu, unlike me. How could she forgive me? How could he forgive me? How could I forgive myself?

Nagihiko and Amu never did get back together. Sadly, that doesn't mean that we got together. I was as depressed as always. Amu eventually forgave me, but it wasn't the same. Nothing was the same. I tried talking to him, tried making up with him. He never responded. I was the ice queen. No one cared about me and I cared about no one. Still, I would sneak out to every Nadeshiko Fujisaki performance I could, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. I watched him in the hall, feeling like a stalker. I only noticed him. Nothing else mattered. That day, when the kid pulled a gun, it took me a while to notice. But when the gun turned on Nagihiko, I was the first to react. I was nearby. I ran. My feet flew. Gravity was useless. I jumped. The gun shot. Pain exploded under my ribs. I felt myself fall. Noise flew by. Senses dulled. Blood blossomed. Why would someone want to shoot him? I could understand wanting to shoot me, but why him? Who would do something like that?

I survived. The kid was suspended. I don't remember who it was. I didn't care. I only cared about Nagihiko. I saved him. That was all that mattered. I needed physical therapy. The Fujisaki's took me in, teaching me how to dance as payment. I tried, I really did. But I'm short, klutzy, and not athletic. I tripped and could never achieve anything similar to graceful. They gave me disapproving looks, but Nagihiko never gave up, determined to teach me. I teased him about it and he smiled. It was almost like before. I was polite to his parents and to him around them. They still stuck their noses up. Why don't they like me?

But Nagihiko liked me. At least, he tolerated me. He didn't seem to dislike me. Then a new day came, near the end of our career as students. The sun was bright. The April flowers thrived. A light wind played with my hair. I felt grown up. I felt mature. I wanted out of that place. He came up to me, smiling. I smiled back. It was a smile I hadn't used since elementary school. It was a genuine smile. I greeted him coyly, and he laughed. Then he became serious. His eyes were deep. They stared into mine. My breathing stopped. I was drowning. I was drowning in remembrance of every emotion I had had while thinking of those eyes. Every emotion I had had while looking into those eyes. He said he liked me. He said he loved me. His purple hair danced in the wind and he smiled. He asked if I liked him. Nagihiko asked if I loved him. How could you not like the beautiful boy that always smiled?

Things aren't much different now. My parents speak to each other. I have a career in comedy, though now it's mostly stage set up. I am happy. And as for Nagihiko and I

"Rima?" The golden haired girl swivels in her chair until she faces her husband. Both are smiling.

"Yes crossdresser?" She stands, her head barely reaching his shoulders.

He hands her a phone. "You know it turns you on." She laughs at the familiar teasing and takes the phone. "It's Amu. She's freaking out about the wedding tomorrow. You'd think she'd be happy she was marrying Ikuto. Were you this nervous when we got married?"

The blonde rolled her eyes. "Hello? Oh Amu, it'll be perfect! Of course he'll love it. He loves you, doesn't he?" She smiled into the phone. "Don't worry, I was the same way. It'll work out, you'll see. Okay. See you tomorrow." She pressed the end button and scowled at her husband. "Why did you pick up the phone?"

He laughed. "It woke up Yuki and it's not like I can just ignore my best friend. You go get the other girls and I'll change her diaper so we can go to the park." His wife's face was blank. "We're meeting Yaya and her family at the park, remember?"

Rima rolled her eyes. "Whatever Nagihiko. Of course I remembered." The couple shared a sweet kiss before parting. Nagihiko went off to get their baby, while Rima went to round up the two toddlers, Nadeshiko and Kiki.

Many things may change in their lives, but they will keep going. Life keeps going.

Ean: lame ending. I'm sorry. I know my next story was supposed to be Undercover. (According to a poll I posted a while ago.) i really wanted to do this one. Pretty much just a drabble. I like this theory of why Rima hates Nagihiko.
Alexenne: This is your eighteenth story...!
Ean: Wow. My lucky number.
Alexenne: I thought 118 was your lucky number?
Ean: Yes, but when I get ot 118 stories...
Alexenne: You'll be very happy?
Nexa: The world will end?
Ean: ... my computer will have most likely died by then. Any way, thank you for reading this one shot and please read other stories.
Alexenne: And vote on the poll!
Nexa: And drop a nice review while your at it!
Ean: i'm just happy that you read it. Please tell me if you have any stories you would like me to read.