Author's Notes

This is a pseudo-cross with seasons 1-3, namely friends and dates and the likes. Focuses primarily on the Frontier gang though.

This is probably my first attempt at a light romance, so if it kinda sucks or anything, just bear with me. I'm more of the darker type fic person, but I can't get too comfortable in my plate, can I? Rhetorical question, so don't answer.

I know Japanese junior high schools are from years seven to nine, but it sort of messes the freedom with characters in season one and two, so I've made it six to nine and adjusted some of the ages. I'll put the grades at the end of the fic, ie. at the post author's note of chapter six. But most of the characters are in junior high. Yutaka and his currently mystery fiancé are probably the only two mentioned that aren't.

Anyway, enjoy and tell me what you think.


AU. An interesting encounter has lead to Zoe having a mystery date to the dance. At the same time, JP's struggling with a hopeless crush, Takuya can't sort out his feelings for the blonde, Tommy's getting ready for his brother's marriage and Koji's about to get the shock of his life and thensome...

Izumi O/Zoe & Takuya K

Rating: T

Genre/s: Family/Romance

Chapter 1

Zoe Orimoto grinned, tacking up the last poster she held, before clambering down the ladder and taking a new batch from a fellow member on the dance committee.

'You're turn,' she said, pointing to their next destination, the cafeteria doors.

Kari Kamiya groaned good naturedly. 'So I'm the scapegoat when the boys start staring.'

'Yep,' the blonde said brightly, handing over the remaining tacks with her free hand. 'Because then your older brother can beat them up.'

The brunette grimaced slightly at the thought. 'You're not the one who has to lessen his resemblance to a bag of meat.'

'True, but I am the defenceless one.'

'You? Defenceless? Never.'

The two friends shared a laugh, before Kari aligned the next poster on the double doors. She gave the setup a critical eye, before adjusting the paper slightly and tacking it into place.

Zoe gave it a critical eye herself; now that she didn't have her nose to it, she could see the work of art a whole lot better. 'You and Takato sure did a good job on it,' she complimented, causing the petite brunette to blush slightly under the praise.

'It was your idea,' the other said modestly.

'But you two made it happen. He's going with Jeri?'

'Of course. Those two have been inseparable since fourth grade.'

'And you?'

'And me what?'

The blonde rolled her eyes, pointing at the poster the other had just tacked up. 'You're not planning to go to a dance, especially a masquerade, without a date were you? Got your eye on anyone?'

'No,' the other shook her head, trying to banish the blush. 'No-one in particular. But if someone asks, I'll probably go with them.'

''cause you're too nice to say no.'

Kari simply moved onto the next poster.

The posters went up during fourth period, so at lunch, the corridors and open areas were swarmed with students reading the details...unless one had the fortune of knowing a committee member, in which case they simply sat on a deserted patch of lawn and got information right from the source.

'You did a great job on this Zoe,' JP praised. 'Two periods, and it's already the talk of the school. How'd you get permission?'

Zoe smiled, the smile she always reserved for her friends, though both knew the ninth grader had been hoping for something else. 'A little girl power and a lot of support,' she replied. 'Even Chiaki had to agree.'

Koji scowled from where he had spread himself on the lush grass. 'Will you two ever stop your stupid cat fight?'

'Probably when you and Takuya stop your dog one,' the girl flared back, causing JP to laugh.

'She got you there buddy,' he grinned.

'Shut up,' the other growled, sitting up.

Takuya, for once not being a part of the actual squabble, wisely said nothing as their eldest brunette quailed under the other's glare. But he caught himself from getting too wrapped up in Zoe's amusement at the exchange.

'Takuya, what are you looking at?' Tommy asked curiously, staring at his surrogate older brother and snapping him out of his...err, distraction. Yeah, that was it.

'Nothing,' he said hurriedly. 'So...anyone going?'

'Not me,' the youngest sighed, as the other two boys finally broke their staring contest. 'Yutaka's getting married the day after. It'll be chaos at our house.'

'Oh yeah,' Zoe remembered. 'You told us about that.' She paused, almost guiltily, before adding. 'That was the only day we could get the hall.'

'That's okay,' he smiled. 'You guys are all still coming to the wedding, right?'

'Of course,' they all assured. 'Shinya too,' Takuya added. 'Unless he catches a last minute stomach virus like he did for my birthday.'

The goggle-wearing brunette scowled slightly at the memory, even though he knew his little brother hadn't done that on purpose.

Tommy shuddered. 'My brother will kill me if I did that. And if he doesn't, his fiancé will.'

'You have to admit,' the blonde laughed. 'They're a good match. Opposites attract.'

'I never thought my brother would wind up in a cliché.'

They all shared a laugh at that, save Koji who managed to crack a smile at best, before Takuya got back onto the original topic.

'So, anyone else want to go?'

The raven shrugged nonchalantly, while the others nodded, prompting JP to immediately turn to the girl across from him.

'Hey, Z, will you go to the dance with me?'

'If you're trying to be a poet,' Zoe sighed. 'That's a pretty hopeless job.'

JP's face fell.

'Besides,' she continued. 'You'd be happier with someone who liked you the same way you liked them.'

'Not even as friends?' he pleaded.


The others let a little collective wince, before shifting topics again.

'Masks anyone?'

Takuya grinned. 'Dragon for me.'

'Fairy,' the blonde sighed dreamily. 'Or a really graceful bird. Like a swan...or not a swan.'

'Yeah, swans wouldn't suit you.'

'Is that supposed to be a compliment?'

'Oh oh,' Tomoki muttered under his breath, opening his mouth to interrupt the conversation.

Or he would have, if they hadn't caught the argument a few feet away.

'Rika and Ryo,' Zoe laughed, earlier snit with Takuya forgotten, looking at the brunette artist and his girlfriend trying anxiously to stop the red-head from murdering her admirer (figuratively speaking of course), while Kazu Shioda watched in amusement. 'I'm guessing Ryo asked her to the dance.'

'Come on pumpkin,' he tried again, loud enough to be heard now that no-one was talking.

'Like hell,' the fiery girl shot back, sharp purple glaring at the playful brunette.

'Why?' he teased, throwing a challenge to the winds and knowing she won't back down. 'Think you can get yourself another date?'

Rika Nonaka scowled. 'Of course I can,' she flared. 'Just watch me.'

Ryo Akiyama shot her a cocky look. 'I'll give you ten minutes.'

'I only need five,' the girl rebuked, thanking the lucky starts (not that she would admit it) that one of the few boys she would even consider going to a dance of all things with in order to save her pride happened to be sitting nearby, before walking over.

'Hey, Minamoto,' she snapped. 'Pick me up at seven.'

If Koji was surprised, he didn't show it, simply shrugging as if he didn't care. 'Fine.'

'Fine,' the girl repeated, before turning on her heel to throw her triumph in Ryo's face, not noting the slight shock and sadness in the said expression.

Zoe laughed again, as the chatter picked up. 'That'll save you from fangirls,' she grinned at her black haired friend.

'That's the only reason why I agreed,' the other scowled, lying back down again. 'She's at least tolerable.'

'Oh I'm sure, and pride on both parts had nothing to do with it.'

Koji just grunted and closed his eyes.

'Oh, you're impossible.'

They were used to it though, having been friends since fifth grade. And out of their little gang, Koji Minamoto was probably the one to have changed the least.

Little did they know, that was about to change.

'So, you're going with Meng Poi?' Zoe asked, once she and Kari started their trek home. The two generally walked together, sometimes with the brunette's elder brother when he didn't hang back to play soccer with someone, but otherwise alone till they reached their forking point.

'Yep,' Kari affirmed. 'He was really nice too.'

'Well...I suppose it could have been worse,' the blonde sighed. 'Though I would have expected TK to ask you.'

'Oh no,' the girl sighed, sounding slightly wistful. 'He's taking his cousin Catherine. She's visiting from France.'

'You wanted him to though.'

'What? No I didn't.' Unfortunately, the red taint on her cheeks gave her away.

'Did too,' the half-Italian sang in a sing-song voice.

'Did not.'

'Did too.'

'Did not.'

And they continued like that till they parted their separate ways.

Zoe continued down the main road, flicking her hair away from her face as it attempted to obscure her vision, before simply enjoying the relatively new sites. She had lived in Italy before moving to Japan when she was seven, before moving back when she was eleven and returning at the beginning of this school year. Things tended to change over such periods, but luckily, the relative layout of the district was still the same.

She spied Koji hurrying off to another kendo lesson...well, as hurrying as he would allow himself to do if there wasn't anything particularly urgent, but nothing else of interest as she resumed to looking at subtle changes to the neighbourhood-

-until someone suddenly rounded the corner and crashed right into her.

'I-I'm sorry,' a vaguely familiar voice stuttered, as its owner helped her up. 'I just-'

He evidently wasn't paying attention to who he had knocked over, looking frantically across the street as though he had lost someone.

And perhaps he had, for he suddenly sighed and sagged slightly. 'Never mind, I-'

He was forced to let that statement go as his right leg chose that moment to give out on him, catching himself on a picket fence of some random house they happened to be standing by.

Zoe was still staring at the boy, wondering why he looked familiar, and the said boy returned the favour, until it suddenly clicked.

'Zoe? When did you get back?'

'I could ask you the same thing,' the girl huffed, crossing her hands. 'You haven't rung in four months. Aren't you supposed to be in Mexico, and what did you do to your leg?'

'Long story,' the other sighed, wincing slightly as he straightened his leg, before transferring his weight onto it. 'Things have been a little hectic.'

'Well...' the blonde paused for a moment, before looking around herself. 'Were you chasing someone?'

'No.' The other frowned lightly, gazing across the street again. 'Trying to meet someone.'

'You still owe me an explanation, so how about you come to my house, 'kay?'

The other thought about it for a minute, and then agreed.

'I'll need to call Rosa first,' he pointed out though.

'Girlfriend?' Zoe teased.

'Just a friend.' And there was no blush to betray him, so she assumed he was telling the truth. 'I'm staying with her parents for the time being.'

Still, she could tease. Especially since he owed him for the long call of absence.

'What's with that look?'

'What look?' she blinked innocently, causing the other to lightly roll his eyes, though somehow managing to keep his almost cherubic expression.

'Don't try that innocent look on me. You know it doesn't work.'

She shrugged, before grabbing the other's hand and pulling him along.

'True enough.'