It was a nice day today in Primp town, very sunny with the only clouds rolling overhead being the ones that had rained much earlier in the day. In other words, it was a nice day for gardening. The weeds were easy to pull out and the plants didn't need any water.

It would be perfect conditions for any garden, especially for my best friend's garden.

I looked over to my dad; he was trying to set up a pretty birdbath that he had made. It had little waves curved into the ceramic to make it ether look like waves or wind. He was kind of artistic like that, always making a new sculpture or painting.

At the moment he was digging into the middle of the cleared area that Tarutaru said he was going to turn into a new garden, specifically for tomatoes, sugar snap peas and other climbing plants. Dad was sure that once he saw the birdbath he wouldn't mind that his future garden had been changed. I was sure about that too. He liked birds a lot.

I looked back at what I was doing: weeding the garden for when he returns home. After all, it would be kind to make sure that when he gets back, he can just enjoy the party and not have to worry about having to clean or garden.

I grabbed some that must have escaped my eyes on the sweeps looking for them. I had already got rid of most of them by throwing them into a nearby bag after they had been pulled out. These ones were soon in the bag as well. I was glad that I was nearly finished, even with the gloves on I still felt as if insects were crawling on my hands.

I continued with the task until I was nearly sure I was finished, then stood up and looked around one more time, just to make sure no more had slipped past my inspection. None had. I walked around knowing that they could be hiding, still none.

It looked to be my lucky day: I was free to look around or take a break while others were still working.

Okay, that wouldn't be really nice. I'm sure if mum, dad and Ms Accord had finished first they'd help me out.

I looked over to dad; he was just putting the birdbath into the ground.

'Hey dad, umm…do you need any help with anything?' I asked him. Even though he was my dad, it was hard to break old habits of speech.

He didn't look up at me. I knew that meant he was concentrating a lot, but I still thought it was a bit rude; after all, I was looking at him. Why couldn't he return that courtesy?

'Yeah, I guess you could grab the hose in a moment.' He said. 'Bring it back here; I'll put it in the birdbath when this is secure in the ground. Make sure to go to the taps and turn it on and off when I say so, that way this'll be up and running when your friend gets back.'

'Okay then.' I said to him, but he was already concentrating back on the birdbath.

I took off the gloves and put them on the table under the gazebo. They were dirty, so they would need to be washed under the hose later, too. Then I went over towards the house. The house was a pretty red brick house, yet it was a fairly large one too, with many windows and enlarged doorways to allow anyone to enter the house, as long as they had the keys anyway.

I walked over to the tap, which was on the same side of the house as the gardens and pergola. There was a hose connected to it. I found the end of it and took it back towards dad, dragging the middle part on the ground.

'Okay, you've got it have you?' He said and finally looked at me while speaking. 'Well I think I've got this as level as it will ever be, so can you go back to the tap?'

'Okay, I'll go back and turn it on soon.' I said to him then turned around to go back to the tap. Soon the birdbath was filled up, though dad had to stand it more straight so the water wouldn't tip out due to crookedness.

After that I couldn't find anything else outside that needed to be done or fixed. A few days ago we'd tidied up Tarutarus' bedroom so it wouldn't be dusty and cleaned up the pergola, because due to recent rain and wind storms the dirt from the uncultivated patch had been blown onto the tiles, making them look the colour of dirt instead of the pretty salmon colour they usually were.

There was no reason for me to stay outside, so I went inside the house, though the back entrance and into the laundry area. It also was a place for people to put their shoes so that the dirt wouldn't wander into the main living areas from the back yard. I decided to put my shoes near the washtub, sitting down to untie the laces without falling over. Then I walked up the small two-step staircase into the main living area. It was a dining room, or was it a lounge room? Maybe it was a mixture of the two? I never could tell. It contained characteristics of both rooms, a dining table, chairs and a archway leading into the kitchen, yet it had lounge chairs as well as a small television and cupboard full of board games for when the television cut out.

Sitting at the table with her pet puppet cat, Popoi, was Ms Accord. She had glue; scissors and other craft related objects spread around the table. Popoi was trying to clean it all to one part of the table, grumbling about it all the while.

'You know, as an adult, you really should be able to take care of your own mess!' he hissed at Ms Accord whilst trying to move a large piece of cardboard paper that was bending all over the place.

Ms Accord didn't respond in any way. She just continued adding glitter and sparkles to the "Welcome home!" banner.

Popoi rolled his eyes- or tried to at least. It would be kind of hard for a puppet to roll their eyes. He mostly just rolled his head to mimic it.

I walked away from the doorway after shutting the door. 'Do any of you need any help?' I asked, trying to be louder than usual.

At first I thought they hadn't heard me, Accord was humming to herself and looking down as she added some more glitter to corners of the banner. Then Popoi turned around and said. 'Hello Ms Rider, you do realise that spying on people is rude, don't you?'

I guess he hadn't heard me after all. I shook my head, meaning that I wasn't spying on them.

'Is there any thing you need help with?' I asked again after getting closer to the table.

At this point Accord did look up, but she always appears to have her eyes closed, so I wasn't sure if she was looking at all. In fact, I'm not sure if she looks at anything. No one is. People like Amitie have asked her, but she always changes the subject.

But I shouldn't think about that, none of his "friends" are here, especially not Amitie…

'Well I don't need any help Rider. I'm nearly done. I also don't think you should go into the kitchen, not unless you want to hear some really colourful words from your Ms Lucy.'

Colourful words? I couldn't hear anything at all.

'Yup, you'd think that with her son coming home she'd be happy, not really upset.' Finished Popoi after he got tired of holding the cardboard paper.

'Um, what do you mean by colourful words?' I asked them.

I still couldn't hear anything rude; In fact I couldn't hear anything from the kitchen, shouldn't there be more cooking related sounds? Are they on a break?

'Well, by colourful words, I meant they were saying some words I didn't like, so I put up a magical barrier.' Explained Ms Accord. She gestured to the archway. 'The barrier keeps all the sound from the kitchen in the kitchen instead of it coming though the open archway.' She finished.

Well that explained why I couldn't hear anything.

'Okay, then what should I do now?' I asked her. I was still trying to figure out why his mother, Lucy would be upset? She loves him and hadn't seen him nearly a year.

It didn't make sense.

Ms Accord turned towards Popoi, who was looking at me. After a second he noticed and turned towards her.

'You could take Popoi outside for a bit, maybe then he won't complain about having to clean up after me.' She said whilst scooping Popoi up in her hands.

She wanted me to take him but he just glared at me for a second, then pulled a funny face, which I didn't know he could do. I still had lots to learn about him.

I went outside back the way I came, making sure to put my shoes back on.

I walked past Dad, who was sitting at the table under the pergola. He'd brought a book about sculpting techniques with him to read, so he was fine.

After getting away from the tiles, which Mum wouldn't want me running over, I ran over to one of the nice old trees near the road. This tree was one where the branches were close to the ground for climbing, yet also had lots of leaves at the top for shade. Not only that, but also most of the branches were solid enough to step on and not worry about them breaking underfoot.

It was one of my favourite places to be when visiting Tarutaru's house, assuming he was there too.

I climbed up the tree whilst Popoi complained. He could be a bit weird about being carried around, especially up trees for some reason.

Soon I was sitting on a solid branch, one that had a variety of things to fiddle or play with like strings for cats-cradle, some old stuffed animals that were too old to stay in my room anymore and a old sculpture of a bird hanging from a overhead branch. Most of the stuff Tarutaru had hoarded here was on the ground- he wasn't able to climb the tree.

Popoi looked up at the bird, he wasn't here very much, except for the times Ms Accord let me baby-sit him and take him other places.

Popoi jumped away onto the overhead branch. He pawed at the bird. It was a good thing it was attached securely enough to not fall. 'It's blue all over, shouldn't there be some variation?' He asked, turning from the bird to me.

'Umm…' Thinking for a jiffy, I wasn't sure about that question at all. Birds do normally have more colours on them, but what if this one was a bluebird? 'I'm not really sure, I think it's a bluebird but I don't know.' I answered Popoi.

For a while I just sat there. Popoi bounded up into the very top of the tree, trying to catch birds. I was trying to think up new ways to perform cats-cradle for a while, and then my mum and Tarutaru's mum came outside to the pergola carrying plates of food and bottles of drink. They were talking about something to each other but I don't know what about due to being far away.

Dad looked up at mum and started talking to them too. Even with other people he wouldn't look at them, except mum. He always looked at her.

They slowly set up the tables with different food and drinks for he welcoming party, returning back and forwards through the house many times.

The tree rustled when Popoi leaped to catch a bird. He fell of his branch and fell onto the over hanging branch, nearly knocking the bird sculpture off it's wire and hook.

I decided to grab Popoi and jump down to help them out while I could. Maybe then we could all sit down and wait together.

So that was what happened, at least until Tarutaru arrived.

I was sitting down under the pergola next to dad and mum, Mrs Accord was adding the finishing touches to the banner with Popoi and Tarutaru's mother was waiting near the road. I looked through the kitchen windows at the clock. It was nearly lunchtime.

I had been told a bus would bring him here from a far away city, but I didn't know the cities name or how far away it was. This made it difficult to know when he would be here.

I sat forward, leaning on the table a bit. I was bored, there was nothing left to do but wait. I wished I had brought down my Cats cradle string with me, even though I knew it like the back of my hand, playing with it would be better than nothing.

I could see mum out of the corner of my eye, she looked disapproving, but didn't comment. She knew what it was like, waiting ages for something.

After ages, where Mrs Accord had sat down on the edge of the tiles when finished with her banner, I saw Lucy straighten up- she must have saw something. In a few seconds, a bus pulled up outside on the road. In less than ten seconds I was by the edges of the road as well. I'd forgotten, and then remembered, what mum had said earlier.

"Let his mother greet him first because she hasn't seen him for a long time."

Never mind that I hadn't seen him for a long time too…

I waited as he departed the bus. Waited for his mother to hug him. Wait for her to say how much she missed him. Waited for him to notice I was there.

Then he turned to me. I just stood there- I hadn't seen him for a while. What if he'd changed and didn't want to be friends with me anymore? What if something bad happened and I convinced him that I was different now?

He smiled. It should have reassured me, but it didn't reach his eyes. Then I thought- He'd been sick for a long time. Weren't glassy-eyes associated with sickness?

Maybe I shouldn't worry so much. His smile faltered a bit as he waited for me to speak.

'I-I thought I'd never see you again…' I said quietly.

The next thing I knew I was being crushed by a bear hug. I wasn't sure if I had been crying before or if I'd just started. I guess it didn't really matter.

'Don't be upset.' He said to me. "You knew I was aright, didn't you?'

I shook my head. I had been sent letters, as well as been told little amounts of information as to how he was going. But I hadn't been told that he would be all right. Maybe they didn't want to get my hopes up only to have them shattered?

I didn't even know why he had been sent away for a nearly a year, I had always been told that he was just absent. I only found out later that he was sick.

'Rider.'

I looked up; Lucy was standing by him. 'This is supposed to be a happy day, isn't it.' She looked disapprovingly.

I jumped back, trying to dry my eyes on my sleeves. I really shouldn't be crying today. She was right. He had enough to go through without me adding more problems. I turned away, only able to hear them now.

'Tarutaru, why don't you go under the pergola? Your teacher is there, I'm sure she would like to talk to you about your studies.'

'Okay then, mum.' I heard him say as he trudged towards the house.

I waited a moment to stop crying. I could hear his mother behind me, but I didn't want to face her just yet. Not until I was presentable.

'Now Rider, I know that you are better than that.' She said, stepping between the house and me, letting me both see her and blocking me if I ran. 'He has been really worried about you, saying in the letters how he was concerned about who would be you friends at school. He did worry a lot, how could he not?'

She was misunderstanding the problem- I wasn't upset about that. I knew that.

'I wasn't upset about that, miss. I was just surprised. He still looked sick. I was scared, that's all.' I said, trying not to sound too upset.

To be honest, I didn't even know why I was sad. There just seemed to be many things that worried me, or confused me. I knew what she said wasn't it, but that was all.

'Well I hope you're able to compose yourself now. If he worries too much…' She must have been thinking how to end that. '…I'm not sure, but it can't be good for him. Remember how, when you have the flu, you have to rest and not worry about anything. I think it's the same here.' She finished. She didn't ask why I was scared, which was nice of her. I wasn't sure how to answer that question anyway.

'Okay then.' I said to her, I thought that I'd be okay now. If I remembered the better times I'd be good.

She clapped her hands once in front of her. ' Alright, we ought to go see how everyone is, shouldn't we?' She said then she turned away to return to the pergola. I followed her, running to keep up with her as she was in a hurry. At the same time, I was ashamed of how I had reacted before. I told myself that she was right; because she was about everything- I was better than that. I also told myself that I wouldn't cause any more problems today or make the party turn sad.

In a short while we were back under the pergola. Tarutaru was talking to Ms Accord about his studies.

'Well, at least you have been studying while you were absent, it's nice to hear about students taking their responsibilities seriously.'

'Yes, it's is' Mother cut in. 'Though I think that even with studying, he will have to catch up a fair bit at school.' She looked around and spotted me. 'Dear, you and Tarutaru are in the same class, maybe you could help him?' She didn't comment on my red eyes, it was all too common to warrant mention from her.

'Umm, yeah I guess I can.' I wasn't really sure I could be qualified to be a tutor, no matter how much I'd learnt.

The conversation kind of ended then, with everyone taking a seat at the table. Everyone except Accord, who decided to stand next to the table, catching Tarutaru up on everything he'd missed.

'…And you missed the lessons about magical creatures of past eras, it's pretty major. I think Klug knows a lot about it, maybe he'll share a book with you? And also, you missed the Primp Town Magical School Puyo Tournament. But it's okay we'll have another one soon.' She finished while smiling at him.

She looked around for Popoi.

'Where is he?' He had vanished apparently.

I looked down when I felt something poking at left elbow.

'I did tell you eavesdropping was bad, right?' Said Popoi after climbing upon my shoulder.

'I wasn't eavesdropping or spying.' I whispered to him. I wasn't feeling too good, or at least good enough to listen to Popoi scolding me. Everyone looked at us. I wished they wouldn't.

'Mrs Accord, am I still going to be in Goody Goods class?' He asked as if to distract from Popoi's scolding.

'Oh, you mean Ms Goods class? I guess you will be, though its still better to get notes off Klug. I know for certain he took them.' She said. 'If you would like you could move into the regular class after catching up.' She finished.

'Oh no, I'm fine in Goodies class. She's a nice teacher and my friends are in her class.'

I'll say this for Tarutaru: He knew how to cheer me up. I wasn't feeling so bad now. I'll definitely be able to act happier now.

'And I think everyone will be glad to see you back.' I said, and then regretted it. To close to a bad issue that could stop the party right there and then…

He didn't know this but I think everyone else did, their body language said so as they tensed up.

'So where is everyone?' He asked, looking over the yard. ' I thought they were going to jump out and say "Surprise" but I guess not.' He said searching around for what could have been an honest answer among us.

Everyone was silent. I could see why. What could you say to that without hurting his feelings? How could you say, "They don't like you enough to be here with you", even if you sugarcoated it, and still have a heart?

Eventually Accord spoke up.

'They're absent, Tarutaru. That's all it is.'

I don't know why, but I was really angry with that. They were absent, but absent just isn't a word strong enough for what they were doing. They were acting as if a friend who comes back from the hospital isn't something to celebrate. They were acting as if they didn't care that he was back. I hate them sometimes! Even Amitie hasn't shown up today.

What word was strong enough for this?

'They don't care that's why they're absent.' I murmured, not loudly but loudly enough for people to hear near me. The next second I regretted it, like most of everything today. Maybe there was another reason for them not being here?

Ether way, I shouldn't be worrying Tarutaru so much…that's the worst bit. Because he was sitting across from me he'd heard what I said in anger. Now he was looking so upset. The party was becoming very bad and all thanks to me. Of all days not to be silent…

The group just sat there in silence for a second, as if waiting for a miracle to make this party turn good again.

'I'm sorry, I didn't mean that.' I said, trying to make sure my voice was loud so everyone could hear it. 'It's just weird; they promised they'd be here when I asked them about it.'

'Well Rider, maybe something else popped up that they needed to take care of.' Said Lucy quietly. 'I'm sure they would be here if they could.'

Everyone nodded in agreement. Even Popoi did.

The next second, I could hear shouting from near the edge of the road. I wasn't sure if anyone else had heard it for a jiffy. I turned around in the seat and looked towards the road. A blonde lady was beginning to run over the yard, waving her arms around like she wanted to take wing. I stood up after pushing the seat out, by this time others were noticing her and standing up too. She rushed over, nearly tripping over the edge of the tiles. She continued yelling, though I couldn't tell what she was saying.

'Ma'am, you've got to calm down. Please tell us why you're here and who you are? Asked Accord, looking composed even when others were confused and panicky. I knew for sure I was confused, I hoped she would be able to answer Accords question between sobs.

'I-I I need to know where my daughter is, please tell me!' She chocked out then continued sobbing.

I could see others moving around me. Mother rushed forwards to talk to her, as did Ms Accord. Tarutaru and the others stayed back. I went around to where Tarutaru was, trying to not make myself to noticeable.

I knew one thing- this woman scared me. Most people don't just run up screeching and ruining parties even more so than they were. For all I know, she could be bringing the apocalypse with her.

'Oh, it's okay. I think I remember you ma'am. Aren't you Amities mother, Clarissa? I've heard some very fond words in the town. You organise events and you're always composed even in strife. Is that you?' Asked my mother, whilst simultaneously giving out compliments. That was the good thing about her really.

I wanted to point out that she wasn't composed at the moment, but don't throw stones in glass houses is what they say.

'Uh-huh, that's me.' Clarissa said quietly almost to herself. 'I'm looking for her, she isn't home and no one has seen her around anywhere. I have no clues, I hope, I hope…'She didn't really need to finish the sentence.

'Well, has anyone here seen her this morning? Asked Accord, looking around at the group.

I looked too; no one was moving to indicate they had.

The only thing I realised was Tarutaru's mother looking as if she had seen death itself. As Clarissa broke down and was surrounded by Mother and Accord, The phones started ringing in the house.

Because no one else would, I rushed inside, not bothering to take off my shoes to get the telephone. I wasn't sure what I was thinking, except that maybe I'd have an answer to all the questions that needed answering. Like Where is Amitie? Why has she disappeared? Has everyone vanished? Is that why we're the only ones here?

The phone that was ringing wasn't the house phone, as I had thought, but Accords mobile. Without thinking I picked it up and spoke into the receiver.

'Uh, hello, why are you calling today?'

'Who are you and where's Accord?' Said the voice on the other end.

'I'm Rider and she's out, do you want me to get her.' I asked quickly, the temperature was growing colder by the minute, or so it seemed. I started shivering.

'No, just tell her this. Lots of people have been reported missing. She needs to report to the police station now. Tell her this. Most of the missing ether worked for her or were her students. Goodbye.' He hanged up.

For a second I just stood in silence. I had the answer to some of my questions, but didn't like it at all.

I went outside to tell Accord the news from the phone. Hoping she wouldn't mind me answering it. Hoping Tarutarus mum wouldn't mind the dirty floor.

Hoping I was just dreaming.

Whoa, took a while to make this. Hopefully the next chapter won't take half as long. Anyway, thank you for reading this far. Otherwise I'm not really sure what to say, except that I know that the grammar could be better, but I don't know how to fix it yet. Anyway, comments and criticisms are especially needed, as this is my first fic that I've posted here/ had anyone look at. (All the other fics I've started are dead before first chapter ends. orz.)

I also hoped I've kept characters mostly in character, though I have wondered how Rider would behave when she's angry? My guess is most of the time she would be silent and just turn the anger towards herself, which might explain why she has no self confidence- she's her own worst enemy in that regard.

(Notice how I said "Most"- some times she would slip and say something nasty. :P)

Oh and yes, Puyo does not belong to me, or the characters even though I wish they did…

Except for OC's, they belong to me I guess. * Shrugs *

Oh, and sorry about the italics, won't be any in the next chapter. I just wanted to emphasize that this was a strange start and that the rest of the story would be in more present tones? (I really don't know. :/)

So anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading this chapter.