A/N: Okay, I'll try to make the chapters a lil' longer from now on. I've read over these past chapters, and it hit me that not only were they short, but they were kinda... wonky... in a way... . ... And I had no confidence in this story. (maybe that's why i have so much trouble writing...) So I'm really glad that you've enjoyed it so far, with my poor skills as a ff writer. I remember that I mentioned sometime last year that I was writing to improve, well... This, my friends, is where the improvement starts.
Italics - Like in Ch.2, this chap has got flashbacks.
I can now sincerely say, enjoy your reading! :)
"Everything had already ended,
Long before it started." - C.M. Lennii
/ Sixth Token /
'The Pineapple Flavoured Mango Pudding'
The brunette was sitting in the corner of the room looking out the window at the sky that hanged over their heads, when Kyoko first decided to talk to her saviour. The orangette had spent a lot of weeks trying to think of how she was going to thank the brunette who helped her whenever Ami was being mean. "T-Thankyou..." Kyoko said timidly, and looked for her guts. Nope: they weren't here.
Tsuna turned her head and Kyoko tensed, ready to hide behind one of the classmates she had brought along in case the brunette wasn't in the right mood. Kyoko had to admit, she could be… scary… sometimes… like how she just sat in the corner of the room silently without bothering with the rest of the class, as if she wasn't one of them. In a way, there was always something 'mature' and 'unchild-like' about this girl which made her so abnormal.
Kyoko gulped and approached the brunette again, whose eyes dilated suddenly at the sight of the two girls. This sent a jolt down Kyoko's spine and for the first time, she'd found the courage to say something. If not, she was now eager to talk to the brunette, and perhaps at the prospects of becoming friends. "T-thankyou Sawada-chan!" Kyoko repeated, allowing a small smile to appear on her face. "You're always helping me."
Tsuna continued staring at her with widened eyes of astonishment. The brunette's expression reminded Kyoko of the lost kitten she'd found when her family went out on a picnic, and she couldn't help but let out a small giggle. "Mama said that I need to say thankyou."
"…Oh…" Tsuna said.
"You're so strong, Sawada-chan. " Kyoko said. "My brother goes to a dojo, and he's really strong too. Do you go to a dojo, Sawada-chan?"
"You don't? Then how can you fight against Ami-chan when she's so mean? You're incredible." Kyoko said, sighing. "I-I'm scared of so many things. That's why everyone's mean to me and I don't like it."
"Heh," Kyoko's friend grumbled and made a sour face. "You should try having Ami as a sister. I don't like it either, but my mum makes me listen to what she says just because she's older than me, even though we're twins. It's not fair at all."
"You're twins? Wow, that's amazing!" Kyoko said. "I wish I had a twin, but I love my brother as well. We've never had fights." She turned to the brunette with curious eyes. "Do you have any siblings, Sawada-chan?"
"…I-I'm an only child…" The brunette replied, a little tentatively.
"Your parents must really love you, then." Kyoko's friend said and she slid down into a chair. "You're so lucky. I wish that I was an only child like you. It's so annoying for me, because my parents only look at Ami and hardly ever spare a glance my way.. It must be nice to have the attention of both of your parents."
"...I don't know…" Tsuna said, as she turned away to stare out the window at one of the white and puffy clouds floating far away. "My stepfather just remarried last year, so I've got a new mother."
"You mean like what happens in fairy tales?" Kyoko said, only hearing the 'new mother' part. That was the first time she'd heard of anyone having a stepmother. Her eyes shone with delight and she clasped onto Tsuna's hands. "That is so cool, Sawada-chan. Did she bring any children with her? Do you have any step siblings now?"
Tsuna furrowed her brows into a deep scowl, sending another jolt down Kyoko's spine but this time it was a different kind. The fear that was absent before had come back and she let go of the brunette's hands as if an electric shock had pulsed through her fingers. Her lips trembled and she backed away from Tsuna to hide behind her friend.
"It's not 'cool'." Tsuna said, glaring out the window. "My 'mother' died, and my stepfather quickly replaced her with a stranger I've never seen before. It's not cool at all!"
That was when Kyoko burst into tears.
Startled, Tsuna immediately tried to soften her expression but failed when Kyoko's friend pulled a face at her. "Why are you crying? I didn't do anything to you. Crying won't solve anything, so stop. Please." Tsuna said, her voice straining.
"D-don't yell at me like t-that!" Kyoko hiccupped and scrubbed at her eyes until her whole face was red. "I-I told you that I was a scaredy-cat. I don't like it when people yell."
"That's right, Sawada." Kyoko's friend puffed out her chest and stood up from her chair, to look down at the brunette and defend the crying girl behind her. "If you bully Kyoko-chan anymore you're just gonna be like Ami. And I don't like people like Ami." She added.
Tsuna grumbled, but relaxed her brows. "I'm sorry. I won't be loud anymore."
"Good." Kyoko's friend said. "Now, that's much better."
"I-I'm sorry for saying that it was c-cool that your p-papa's getting remarried…" Kyoko said, slowing to an occasional sniffle. "A-And I'm sorry about your mama. It wasn't nice for me to say that it was cool."
"...It's okay." Tsuna said.
"It must've been sad," Kyoko said, tearing up again at the thought of her own mother bring replaced. "I'd want my mama to be my only mama, and I wouldn't want my papa to fall in love with another woman either. I would've cried if my papa did remarry. Did you cry, Sawada-san?"
"…There's no use in crying." Tsuna said, looking down at the ground. "Nothing would've changed even if I did. Besides, my stepfather didn't like it whenever I cried, so I try not to. He says that people who cry are weak."
Even though Tsuna was saying this, with the way she looked at the ground, to Kyoko, she looked as if she was gonna cry - which was a silly idea because there was no way she could. "… Um- b-but you're strong." Kyoko said. "Y-you're just like Poh from Superpoh!"
"That show's boring." Kyoko's friend said. "My mum said that it's fake."
"I don't care!" Kyoko said, covering her ears with her hands. "I love Poh! And I like you too Sawada-chan because you saved me!"
"I don't like Poh!" Kyoko's friend exclaimed.
"I love Poh!"
"I don't like him at all!"
"I love him!" Kyoko screamed, piercing their ears. "You like him too, don't you Sawada-chan?"
Tsuna stared at Kyoko with a blank expression. She had no idea who this 'Poh' was, but she was sure that if she did know she wouldn't like him very much either. He sounded like some cheesy super hero - his name sounded so funny too.
"My brother says that more and more children are watching Superpoh, and that it's a good thing because it teaches us good from bad!" Kyoko stated. "That's why I really like him. He's everyone's favourite, Sawada-chan!"
"Huh?" Kyoko said.
"M-my name… " Tsuna said, blushing slightly. "You can call me Tsunayoshi."
"Tsunayoshi?" Kyoko said, testing out the name. "Eh? But it's so long! I'll just call you Tsuna-chan, ne?"
"Ts-Tsuna-chan?" Tsuna stuttered. "B-but isn't that… a little too short?"
"My name's Kyoko and it only has 2 syllables, too." Kyoko said. "Nearly everyone's name has 2 syllables."
"T-then…" Tsuna wrinkled her brows. "U-um… Kyoko...-chan…?"
"Your name is really pretty," Kyoko said, before she turned to her friend for a second opinion. "Isn't it, -"
"-Are you deliberately trying to ignore me, Sawada?" Dohachiro-sensei asked in a low tone, popping her bubble. He stood over her desk scowling, and then squinted his already small eyes. Tsuna blinked at him unsurely, to which a vein popped on his forehead.
"You weren't listening to me at all," he said, and fervently rolled up the book he was clutching in his hands. Tsuna's eyes fell on the book. He sighed deeply as if teaching was a chore. "You hate science." Then he turned around to face the rest of the class. "You all hate science," he proclaimed, flipping his arms high into the air, and glumly strode back to the middle of the classroom where he had started his lesson. He shook his head. "That's because you students don't get it. You're all naïve. You have no idea about what's ahead of you! You don't know the troubles ahead of you! The tests! The exams! You're all going to fail! You're all going to lead hopeless lives! You're all going to die lonely! You'll never succeed in life! So why not waste a few minutes and listen to me?"
"Sensei," A boy from the back of the classroom raised his hand to speak. "I've got a question."
"Shush- shush- shush-shush!" Dohachiro hissed, pointing a wrinkly finger in the boy's direction. "You need to listen when a great mind is speaking. You should all learn from the greatness of myself, and perhaps one day you'll be able to become someone worthy of being my assistant. I've always wanted someone smart, and none of you here are worthy of it."
Dohachiro-sensei's lessons were so boring that listening to the old man talk had become a somewhat sleep-inducing, which was what caused Tsuna to fall asleep. She'd dreamt about the past- something that hadn't happened before. A double period of science was torture, even if she did get the chance to fall asleep halfway through. Tsuna found that she was paying more attention to the low rumbles in the distance, than to what the teacher was saying himself.
Tsuna withheld a low grumble and soon ended up playing listlessly with her eraser, drawing a 'yes' and a 'no' on the sides, then rolled it around as she asked herself questions. Most of which consisting of variations to the Will it stop raining soon? With 90% of her answers turning out to be 'no'- and she was glad.
"-brings to mind your test results from the start of term." Dohachiro said, and he pushed his glasses up with a finger. "I am deeply disappointed in you all. Deeeeeply disappointed. Very, indeed. I don't even know where to start." He cleared his throat. "Especially in you 12; Namikawa, Yoshida, Longchamp, Kawa…" He continued, raising his voice with each passing name that annoyed him.
Will he call my name? Tsuna flicked her hand and rolled the eraser.
"-and Sawada!" he shouted, already purple in the face. He turned in her direction again, with eyes bulging with contempt. Tsuna shrunk into her seat, frowning at the way he called out her name and drew the attention of the rest of the class. From amidst the pairs of eyes she'd spotted the gleam in M.M's amethyst pupils - clearly enjoying herself with the treatment Tsuna was receiving. Dohachiro pointed with a shaking hand. "Especially you, Sawada! You've scored the lowest in the class, and you are by far, the most difficult student I have ever taught. You are the perfect example of a failure student. I don't want any doppelgangers of your behaviour - and that's why you're all going to do the next exam in groups!"
"YESSS!" The same guy from the back cheered, and leaped out of his seat to fist pump the air. He never noticed the girls edging away from him as they kept on with their own business, pretending that the loud guy never existed.
"It's too early to rejoice because I'll be picking your groups, Longchamp." Dohachiro-sensei said, feeling a sudden dislike for this boy who kept interrupting him. He took out his prepared lists. "I've picked out the perfect groups to enhance your learning capabilities. You can trust in my judgement.."
The class groaned at this. Rumour had it that Dohachiro-sensei had the worst judgement in picking groups, and didn't care about his students at all other than their grades and his reputation as their teacher. This rumour turned out to be true, as everybody else had come to realise that they had been placed into a group of 3 other people they've either never even seen or spoken to, have disliked, or never understood. In this respect, Tsuna found herself in a group of 2 people - herself included. Apparently the third person in their group was sickly and a nerdy four-eyes who somehow ended up in hospital before school even started. The poor geek.
The second person was Yamamoto. Coincidence or not? Tsuna had been seeing this guy's face all over school and in most of her classes that she found it almost irritating that her freshman life involved one of the few people she wanted to avoid for the rest of her schooling years. Who would want to be friends with a popular, good-looking athlete and earn themselves a truck load of hate filled fans wanting to torment you? So anyway, this nerd was so smart that they were the only group of 3, when it was supposed to be a 4-man project, and now that the nerd wasn't even here they ended being the only group of 2. Sad, isn't it?
"Hey," Yamamoto greeted cheerfully. He dragged his chair to the other side of Tsuna's small desk and sat down. "Looks like we're partners, eh?" He laughed and placed his arms onto her desk, grinning at the small stick doodles she'd drawn in the corner of her page. "Haha, you're pretty good at drawing." He was referring to her stick man who was supposed to be hanging himself, with a few messy rope loops here and there, until she could no longer tell what she had drawn in the first place. "That's a nice flower you've drawn."
This guy was also freakishly positive, Tsuna discovered.
"Looks like it's just the two of us." Yamamoto said, looking around the classroom at the other groups who have settled into miserable huddles of… misery. All of a sudden, everybody looked like the stick man she'd drawn on her page. "Well, d'ya have any idea as to what we're doing? 'Cause I wasn't listening."
"… I wasn't... either…" Tsuna said bluntly. "He just told us that we had to group up."
Yamamoto scratched his head. "So we're a lost case, eh? Looks like the rumour about Dohachiro's poor judgement skills was correct after all. You can always count on the guy to screw things up."
Tsuna looked up from her page of scribbles quizzically. "What do you mean by that?"
"I was in his bottom 12," Yamamoto pointed out, still smiling. He was acting as if it was something to be proud of. "He wanted to smarten us up by putting us into groups with smart people so we'd learn better, I guess. That's all I got from what he said."
"… But I'm one of his bottom 12 too…" Tsuna said, confused. "There's no way I'd understand anything he teaches, so I'm pretty much useless in any sorts of group work - in other words, please don't count on me."
"Haha, I'm kinda the same," Yamamoto said, leaning back into his seat relaxingly, completely okay with the way things turned out - even if it meant he might not see a passing mark on his sheet in the next exam. At least, that's what Tsuna had thought her outcome would turn out. A big, fat, ugly, zero.
Dohachiro then came around handing out sheets of paper full of tiny, tiny, tiny, font one would need magnifying glasses to read, saying that it was their exam criteria. Then he stumbled upon the sad two. His expression was suspicious. "How'd you end up like that?" he asked rudely.
"Looks like our third isn't here, sensei." Yamamoto said, taking the paper from the man's hands. "Did you forget to check the absentee list?"
"D-Don't be absurd!" Dohachiro blubbered, turning a shade of purple. He'd forgotten, alright. "O-of course I did!" His glasses fogged up as he said this, and he removed them to wipe them with a cleaning cloth, revealing extremely small and squinty eyes. Without those glasses, he didn't look so smart.
"How are we supposed to do our work if it's just the two of us, sensei?"
"Y-You'll just have to manage." Dohachiro said, sliding his glasses back on. He cleared his throat. "It's inevitable that I have students who will be failing, but so long as the rest are doing fine then my award- I mean, the class rankings will be fine." He glanced down at Tsuna from the tip of his nose, and made a face at the page full of random lines and circles. "What are you drawing?" He shrieked, pointing at her lovely doodle of two stick men fighting. Apparently, the dotted circles she'd drawn must've seemed quite… wrong, as his face turned a deep plum colour. He shuddered. "Yes, definitely. You're both going to fail. Your only hope is to wait for your third to come back, but I guess that won't be anytime soon. You're definitely failing, Tsunayoshi Sawada!"
Tsuna's grip around her pencil tightened at that comment of his, and there was a sudden urge to kick the guy in his balls and shut him up. It wasn't her fault her stick figures looked… funny. As soon as Dohachiro turned around, she stuck her tongue out and made a face, amusing the raven-haired boy beside her.
"That stupid teacher," Tsuna mumbled, now scrutinizing at her doodles. How dare he criticise them. He probably couldn't even draw. She gave out an exasperated sigh, then violently ripped out the page, and began scrunching it into a ball. She was stopped by Yamamoto.
"Hey, hey!" Yamamoto said, startled by her rigged actions. He took the piece of paper out of her palm before it reached the point of complete destruction. "What are you doing? Your drawings were nice."
Tsuna frowned. "They're just doodles." Plus, she wanted to throw it at the back of Dohachiro's head.
"But I liked them, so you can't throw them out. You could at least give them to me, ya know." Yamamoto said, quickly folding the piece of paper and stashing it away in his pocket. He grinned broadly at her disbelieving expression. "There, now you can't do anything about it."
"You're weird." Tsuna decided. His grin - if possible - grew broader.
"Same goes for you, Tsuna." Yamamoto said, stretching in his seat. "Ya know, you're not that difficult to approach. I don't understand why you're always by yourself."
Tsuna straightened out her books. "I prefer solitude."
Yamamoto raised a brow. "Isn't that kind of boring, though?"
"Really?" Yamamoto said, stroking his chin. "Maybe I should try that one day."
Him? By himself? Tsuna hid her scoff at this. Unlikely.
Yamamoto leaned back onto the desk and settled down to look at the sheet of paper in his hands. None of the both of them had any idea as to what they were doing, and neither wanted to or could understand what the small print was trying to say. Everything was alien to them. Well, at least she was no longer the only idiot.
Dohachiro-sensei came strolling back to them (still looking a little flushed), with a slightly hopeful expression on his face. "Well, well, if it isn't the hopeless duo." He said, propping his hands on his hips like a woman. He smiled bravely at the both of them, as if he had figured out the solution to all their problems. "Trust in my capability to solve all the problems in this classroom and beyond, for nothing can stop my talent. Even a case like yours has been solved. I will no longer have any stupid and brainless idiots in my class, from now on, as you will be having a third in your group. And a fourth." He stepped aside to reveal the last member of their group. "Alright, now Fourth, please introduce yourself to the rest of your team."
Tsuna wasn't sure if she had put any expression on her face when she saw her fourth. Acting like a goody-goody in front of Dohachiro-sensei was none other than M.M, who had by all possible means, ditched her previous group and presented herself to sensei as a suitable fourth for their group. On M.M's mouth was a small smile, which Tsuna had assumed was directed at Yamamoto, seeing that the redhead had had a crush on the base baller ever since they started high school.
"Go on," Dohachiro urged, eager for things to get moving. He gave M.M a little push on the back, and the redhead's smile only grew wider, revealing her teeth.
"Hello, Tsunayoshi-chan, Yamamoto-san. I am your fourth." M.M said in a light voice, before she bowed politely, earning a rather proud nod from Dohachiro-sensei. He chuckled deeply behind her, sounding rather creepy. "I'm looking forward to working with you. Let's make this a fun group, yeah?"
Tsuna ignored her and looked away silently, settling her eyes on one of the groups. They had 3 people and they all looked like the black plague had come to kill them. One of them kept muttering ' why, why, why, why.' while another was saying 'we're doomed', over and over. The last just sat there as if his soul had escaped his body. Strangely, Tsuna shared their pain - those were exactly her thoughts right now.
"-M.M achieved the second highest score in class," Dohachiro boasted, his bowl of pride filled to the brim - nearly overflowing. "Work well. I expect good results from you guys. You have both the dumbest, and the smartest in your group, but I expect the both of you to turn over a new leaf and work hard. M.M's here to guide you."
"Welcome aboard," Yamamoto greeted, smiling brightly at their new crew member. "You're gonna be a great help." M.M's eyes glazed, and she returned a timid smile, out of embarrassment, but happiness - if that was possible with someone like M.M. She stood pigeon toed and fidgeted with her fingers for a while, stealing glances here and there at Yamamoto. It wasn't long before Dohachiro-sensei became bored, and wandered off to find another group of failing students.
The only reason Tsuna could come up with as to why M.M would want to join their group would be : Yamamoto. Oh, and because the world was ending and they were all going to die horrible, horrible, deaths. No surprise there, that Science was now her least favourite subject. Who would need something like group work?
M.M dragged one of the chairs from another group and pulled it right up beside Yamamoto's, where she took her seat. "So what are you doing?" she asked, leaning over the desk to stare at Yamamoto. "Have you thought about your topic yet?"
"Topic? What topic?" Yamamoto asked, skimming through the small print of the sheet with a slight wrinkle between his brows.
"You're supposed to pick a topic, Yamamoto-san," M.M giggled. She reached over to point at one of the lines on the top of the page. "Students are to conduct an experiment… here, you can pick your topic - they've given you a list."
Yamamoto followed her finger. "Ah, I see now." He said, grinning at the sheet of paper and the myriad of words the brunette still couldn't comprehend. "Hey, Tsuna. What do you want to do? There are sea creatures, insects, plants, rocks, the Earth's atmosphere…"
Tsuna tried to follow. "Um… how about plan-"
"Sea creatures!" M.M said abruptly, and then she circled the topic with a red pen on all their sheets. "We're doing sea creatures! Is that alright, Yamamoto-san?"
Yamamoto looked surprised. "Uh… yeah sure."
"Alright, that settles our topic." M.M said, content with her job. "Next, we need to think of our experiment…"
Tsuna's dislike for group work (except when she's with Haru or Kyoko) just grew ten-fold. For the rest of the lesson, M.M pretended the brunette was non-existent and as if she her only other group member was Yamamoto. 'I'm looking forward to working with you' her ass. If it weren't for Yamamoto asking Tsuna some questions and trying to get her more involved, she wouldn't have had any idea as to what their conversation was about. Occasionally, Yamamoto would lean over and scrawl some notes that he'd learned from the redhead onto Tsuna's page - something she never asked and wanted him to do, but every time he did so, M.M would scowl and mutter something under her breath, and try to get him back to talking about the things she was interested in.
The lesson ended when the lunch bell rang, and all Tsuna understood out of the sheet of paper was the fact that it had been covered in writing, they were doing an experiment on sea creatures, and that there was no way for her to receive a passing mark for Science.
She hoped that their third wouldn't be as bad as M.M, but her eraser told her otherwise.
-oh, glorious lunch.
One of the few times of the day where Tsuna was allowed her long sought after solitude at school, away from other people. This thought was soiled by the rain pouring nonsensically down against the windows, purging the idea right out of her head and down the drain, where it was washed away. They were to stay indoors. Everyone around her was loud - talkative. They all had something to share to their friends and it wasn't hard to miss the few mentions on a School Cultural Festival happening tomorrow.
"Are you going?" Yamamoto asked.
Tsuna looked up from her convenience store bento and at the guy who just asked her that question. "...No." she said, even though she really wanted to.
"Oh, that's too bad." Yamamoto said, evidently disappointed. He'd gone out to grab a drink from one of the vending machines, and had just come back to reclaim his seat on the other side of her desk. Tsuna continued chewing on her food. "They say it's going to be fun this year. Dunno how that'll work out with the rain, though. The grounds will be wet," he said. His hands worked on the lid of his bottle absent-mindedly as he stared out the window, frowning at the dark clouds surrounding their school and the low rumble of thunder.
"It's summer," Tsuna said, stating the obvious. "Of course it'll rain."
"Hey you never know, it might ease up a little by then," Yamamoto laughed, downing half his bottle in one go. "Ahhh~ That was good." He grinned, then screwed the cap back on. He fished into his bag and pulled out an onigiri. "They've put in a lot of effort for this year's fest." he said.
That was true. It would've been a shame for the festival to be called off after Haru had gone out of her way and spent so many long hours trying to finish the costumes. For the past few days everyone at the café was in festival-mode, with Haru bringing in a whole assortment of things: signs in hypnotising colours and patterns, eccentric clothes that looked way too detailed and more furry suits. She had everyone in the building to help out with perfecting the lines in her play, laughing off her lousy reception with, "This means we need more improvement!", and then she'd lock herself in the break room for a good 10 minutes, before the whole process repeated once again.
Kyoko was justas spirited as Haru was about the festival that she'd borrowed one of her brother's boxing mitts and had put them on while she helped Haru with her lines, being extravagantly active that it was almost frightening to see such a delicate and sweet girl like the orangette trying to be tough and fierce, as she was the hero in the story.
"Their theme for the fest this year is 'What I would want at an Amusement Park'," Yamamoto said, between mouthfuls of rice. He licked his thumb. "I've got a buddy who goes to that school and he told me that their drama club is putting on a really awesome play."
Yes, they were.
"Hey- why are you telling me these?" Tsuna asked, bemused that someone like him was discussing another school's festival with someone like her. She really had no idea why he still wanted to talk to her, even though science class had already ended a good while ago. "And, why are you sitting here at my desk? Wouldn't you want to sit with your other baseball buddies over there?" She nudged her head at the few boys who were had stopped in scoffing down their food to stare in their direction. Yamamoto turned around to give them a wave.
"I'm here 'cause I want to be." Yamamoto said, grinning as he leant on his elbow. "You're kinda fun to be around, Tsuna."
She didn't know how to respond to that. Of all the words in her vocabulary, she'd never, never, never, never and never describe herself as someone 'fun'. The closest she'd say would be the word 'comical'. "H-how?"
"I dunno," Yamamoto shrugged his shoulders. "I just find you fun. Like, would 'ya know how you ended up being a girl? You don't, right? You just are."
Tsuna picked at her last egg roll. "I think I would know how I ended up as a girl…" she mumbled, then put the egg roll into her mouth. The sweetness of it spread on her palette, hitting the right spots. She never had a sweet tooth, but there were certain foods she enjoyed with a little sweetness in them - and this particular egg roll did its job. She gave herself a mental note to remember where she'd bought that bento box.
"Tsunayoshi?" A girl called from the sliding doors. "I-is there a Tsunayoshi in this class?"
Tsuna turned her head towards the girl - she didn't recognise her, but there was something about the look on her face that made her slightly familiar. The last girl who came looking for her had twin tails, but this one had her hair out, and the connection that lied between the two happened to be the feverishly worried look on her face. Everyone around that person would end up sporting that look sooner or later.
"Do you know that sempai?" Yamamoto asked, opening the lid to his drink once again.
Tsuna shook her head, although she knew why the girl was here.
"She's over there," one of her classmates answered, curious as to what someone from another year would want from the brunette. He pointed in Tsuna's direction, and the girl's eyes followed his finger until they met with Tsuna's brown orbs. "The one next to our baseball captain."
The girl walked right up to Tsuna, and tried to smile at her. "You're Tsunayoshi Sawada, right?" she asked as nicely as she could. Her smile was so wobbly that Tsuna almost felt guilty for what was going to happen to the girl. She gave a small nod. The girl looked uncomfortable for a second, and as if she was about to cry. "Mu… Mukuro-sama wants to... see you..." she finished, before she let out a choke and stumbled back out into the hallway covering her face.
"That was… odd." Yamamoto said. "Who's this Mukuro?" He turned to face Tsuna's stone-look, and his brows furrowed. "Do you know a Mukuro, Tsuna?"
Tsuna stared after the door. "N-no, I don't…" she said robotically. Yamamoto gave her a strange look, but left it at that. She decided it was better to pretend that someone like him didn't exist, than acknowledge his existence and let him roam free. She stood up with a haughty scrape and trudged to the trash bin to throw her bento box away. That's right, Mukuro didn't exist and wasn't going to interfere with her school life. Her box hit the bottom of the bin with a loud clang.
"Kufufu. Who are you saying doesn't exist?" a voice whispered into her ear.
Tsuna's insides turned cold, and froze at the sound of his smooth tenor; the same voice he'd always used to coax girls into his world of lies and pretension - the same voice he'd used countless times to get her into trouble at home.
"What do you want, Mukuro?" Tsuna hissed in a low tone, glaring over her shoulder at his pair of mismatched eyes. Mukuro leaned back and ran a gloved hand through his hair slowly, making sure everyone in the class saw him - not that he wasn't already distinguishable with that height, and blue-black hair of his. His princely feints always sickened her, and was why she'd pretend she had no prior connections with him, what-so-ever. "What are you doing here?"
"I've come to see my little Tsunayoshi," Mukuro said, and leaned his back against the wall while he took his time to 'see'. "Have you fed Mukurowl this morning?" he asked, enjoying the attention people gave him. People were so dazzled by his looks that they didn't even question the name, 'Mukurowl'. None of them would've guessed that it was the name of Mukuro's pet puppy.
"Yes, and I hope your dog choked on his food," Tsuna said, genuinely. Haruka-san left her the task of feeding Mukurowl this morning, and he nearly bit her hand off when she fed him. He was more like an alligator than the average canine beast. "What kind of a name is Mukurowl anyway? You always give weird names. And did you dump your girlfriend again? You always do that before you send your girlfriend to come looking for me, even though you already know where I am."
"Oya oya, that's harsh, Tsunayoshi." Mukuro's mouth curved upwards at her words. "I'm only doing it for you."
"Liar." Tsuna said, as she walked away from him. "What do you want this time, Mukuro?"
"Kufufufu… Ah, the reason." Mukuro said. "Haruka's starting the preparations for mother's return - you know what that means, don't you?"
Tsuna's heart sank at the news. It was all too soon. "…Yes…" She said. "I do…"
"Oh, and one more thing. Can you go down to the stores and get another pack of Mukurowl's favourites?" Mukuro asked, before he turned around and disappeared down the corridors. "I've run out on them and he needs something to chew on or his teeth get out of control."
Well, that explained a lot.
'Puppy's Paradise Lane' was the name of the peculiar store Mukuro wanted Tsuna to buy Mukurowl's things. It was a top-notch, fancy shop that looked like it had been dropped right out of doggie heaven and had managed to squeeze itself in the middle of a not-so-fancy town like Namimori. The workers there looked out of place too, having half the enthusiasm one would expect from someone working at a place with 'Paradise' in the name.
However, this seemed to change every time Tsuna entered the store to do an errand.
"Is that all, miss?" the young man behind the counter asked brightly when she came up to his register with the small bag of dog treats. He scanned the item and plopped it into a plastic bag without taking his eyes off her at all. "That'll be a five."
Tsuna handed him the right amount of money without making eye contact, proceeded to take her stuff and like usual, hurried out of the store.
"Please come again!" He called after her diligently, giving her a long wave. "Please!"
The rain was pouring when she left the store and she pulled out her umbrella, thankful that she'd packed it that morning before she left the house. It wasn't much of the help she expected, and it was only a matter of time until her lower half was all completely drenched with rain water. The wind blew the rain at an angle, ducking under her umbrella and hit her legs full on with its coldness - which was a great thing, considering the heat of the days before - but that thought was dampened when it started thunder storming.
"W-what's this for?" Tsuna asked, when Giotto came up to her in an orange and black pinstriped dress shirt and handed her a spare worker's uniform to change into. It was a two-part set - well three, if you included the apron she usually had to wear while working. Never had the existence of a uniform ever crossed her mind when she worked at the store - she just assumed they never had one as Giotto and G were always wearing different clothes every time she saw them.
"You can't work like that," Giotto said, as he pushed the clothes back into Tsuna's hands when she tried to return it. "You'll catch a cold."
"I won't need it." Tsuna said, earnestly. She couldn't even remember the last time she had a runny nose, or a sore throat. "If it's about my skirt. I think it'll dry on its own if you give it a few more minutes." And to make a point, she grabbed her skirt and flapped it around a little, lifting it up to her mid-thighs. She could tell that wasn't true, when a few drops of water flicked out of it and because it was heavier than usual… but other than that it was fine. Totally.
"Uh, no it won't." Giotto stated.
"…How would you know?"
"Just put this on, Tsuna." Giotto said. Then he reconsidered. "Or would you rather one of Haru's suits again?"
Tsuna immediately grabbed the clothes from his hands when he mentioned those fluffy stuff. "N-no, thanks. Anything but that." she said quickly. Then he stifled a chuckle, and she flushed once she realised that he just made her go along with his ways. She sighed, then shot a glare at him when a smile spread across his mouth, and made a point of showcasing her anger by stomping off into the break room to change. "Fine! I'll put it on- but you're not going to like it!"
He just laughed.
Whether she herself liked it or not, she had no idea. She had no idea why she said that. either. The uniform she was given consisted of a nice long sleeved button-up shirt with puffs on her upper arms and a rounded collar. Her skirt was long and frilly and black with a large bow at the back where the base of her spine rested. It looked a little too formal and old-fashioned to have been made recently, and she guessed that perhaps Giotto's grandfather was the one who stocked up the shop's uniforms - which then raised more questions than what she wanted answered, so she tried to ignore it.
"There you are." were the first words Giotto said when she decided to once again emerge into the world. Then he clipped a large bow onto the top of her hair, while she was distracted with the pieces of paper in his hand. He petted her head. "It's great that I found this lying around in the storage, isn't it."
"What? What's this for?" Tsuna said suspiciously, reaching to touch the thing that uncomfortably matted the top of her hair down. "Why am I wearing a bow? Is there another event today, manager?"
"It's Ieya-" Giotto said. He sighed tiredly and massaged his temples. "Geez. You're still not used to saying my name…? I thought I told you-"
"Yes, I know what you told me. You've said it many times. It's just that…" Tsuna avoided his gaze and looked at the ground. "...It's weird."
"You trying to say my name is weird?"
"No, I'm not." Tsuna shook her head. "I'm just… not used to doing it because I was taught to respect those who stand above me. It doesn't seem right - no matter how hard I try- to call you anything but 'manager' when I work, 'cause you're my manager and boss and all that..."
"This again? You call G by his name even though he's a year older than me."
"G's a friend." Tsuna pointed, as if there was a difference.
"Oh?" Giotto said, intrigued by the way the brunette had put things. "Then it'll be fine so long as I'm anything but your 'boss'?"
"Yes… I-I suppose…" The brunette said unsurely.
Giotto rolled his eyes, defeated. "Well, just to let you know I'm planning on closing the shop next Tuesday because G and I will be leaving for Italy in a few days' time. There's going to be an event on Monday, and your job today Tsuna, will be promoting the event by handing out these flyers to people as they walk by. Understood?"
"You're really leaving, huh…" Tsuna said, saddened by the thought of no longer being able to come here and work with Kyoko and Haru. They said that they weren't going to be working over the weekend because of their school festival. And she was so looking forward to spending more valuable time with Kyoko and Haru as the three of them, too. The weekend that Tsuna was looking forward to: ruined.
"We have to because of the attack and all that." Giotto said. "We can't leave things as they are between the families."
"Yeah, I know… the mafia business..." She looked away from his eyes as she said this, and then there was an awkward silence between the both of them as neither party knew how to go from here. He was a mafia boss, she was a high schooler who just happened to work at his café and had overheard his secret. Ever since that time, he never talked with about his family in Italy anymore and had tried to make things as normal as possible by trying to get her more involved with Haru and Kyoko's festivity, even though she knew perfectly well that these things were just a façade - he was just pitying her.
But that was alright, because she could deal with it.
"…So you understand what you have to do?" Giotto said, trying to enlighten the mood that he had disrupted. He lifted her hands up gently and placed the brightly coloured flyers into them, giving her a light push on the back. "Off you go now, young lady. You're the only one who could do this."
"What are Haru and Kyoko going to do?" Tsuna asked, looking back at his warm, assuring smile. She pulled at her apron. "Are they wearing this uniform, too?"
"They're still at the back preparing for their festival." Giotto reminded her.
"O-oh…" Tsuna said, surprised that they were still doing that even though the festival was tomorrow. T-they probably didn't know that they only had a few more days together here. And anywhere else, once her stepmother comes home. They were probably never told about the fact that the shop was closing on Tuesday, too.
The rain had subsided when she went out to hand out the flyers but the grey and black-ish clouds of the evening didn't make things any brighter. Still, she kept the same smile on her face as she gave the flyers to kind, passing pedestrians. Most of them were high schoolers like herself, but have mistaken her to be younger than what she really was - complimenting her on her outfit and asked her to pose for them while they took photos with their cell phones. Some of the boys had come around a second time for another flyer saying that it was for their friends. They didn't sound like they meant it, though.
Tsuna gave the last flyer to a little pre-schooler who was strolling with her mother. The kid presented a toothy grin and a big-hearted wave at the girl who dressed in fancy clothes. "Okaa-san, it's cosplay! Cosplay!" she'd cried, as soon as she spotted Tsuna. The brunette wondered with a lovely sweat drop as to where the young girl had learnt the word. She wasn't in cosplay.
"All done?" Giotto asked, as she came back into the shop with empty hands. "That was quick."
"Your flyers were popular." Tsuna said, sighing tiredly as she dropped into the closest family seater. She lied down, then added, "And so was your uniform. They took a lot of photos and thought I was a middle-schooler because of my height. I wonder if they'll treat me like a proper woman once I grow taller. Do you think that's ever going to happen?"
Giotto chuckled, then placed a cold beverage onto Tsuna's table as her reward. "I don't know. I think you're perfect the way you are." He said, sitting down beside her with a cup of coffee. There was no one left in the shop besides the employees now.
Tsuna turned her head and frowned at the orange-coloured beverage. "Is that... juice?"
"Mmhm." Giotto replied.
"Why juice? I want to have some coffee too." Tsuna pouted, sitting up to have a staring show down with the glass of orange juice. She watched on as water droplets formed on the glass, dripping down to join the small ringed puddle. "Last time you gave me hot chocolate. Now it's juice. Is this because you think I like sweet things?"
"No," Giotto said slowly, sipping on his coffee. "It's because you don't look like the type to drink coffee. Coffee is for those with a lot of work to do. You're still in school. Have you even tried coffee before?"
"N-no…" Tsuna admitted, blushing when Giotto smiled at her response. "B-but who's to say I won't like it? A lot of people my age drink coffee."
"Okay," Giotto said simply. He set his cup down onto the table with a clink and then replaced her glass of orange juice with his cup of coffee, pushing the glass further into the middle of the table, out of the way. She eyed the hot-chocolate-look-a-like liquid. "Here, try it." He tempted.
Tsuna blinked his way, still pink in the cheeks. "I-Isn't this yours?"
"Oh, right." The indirect kiss thing. Giotto stood up. "I'll make you another one, but you'll have to drink it all whether you like it or not..."
"No!" The brunette immediately sat up. "Don't make another one!"
It was now Giotto's turn to blink. "… Why not?"
"J-just don't. You don't need to go through the trouble…" Tsuna said. She reeled in his cup of coffee with both hands. "I'm not a kid. I don't mind sharing. I don't mind germs either." Giotto sweatdropped at the last part. He was referring to the other thing, but… since she had put it that way...
Tsuna glanced between Giotto and the cup of coffee sitting in front of her like it was something alien. There were a lot of people who drank coffee, but then again there were more who didn't. Tentatively, she picked it up and pressed her lips against the rims of the cup. Squinting her eyes and furrowing her brows, she tilted her hand and poured the hot liquid down her tongue and into her mouth. It was a mistake. It didn't burn her tongue, but when the coffee spread on her palette it felt as if her whole tongue was about to shrivel up. She coughed and immediately put the cup back down. His coffee was bitter, she discovered. Very bitter...
"How was it?" Giotto asked, a small triumphant smile on his lips at his victory, and at the brunette who had cutely stuck out her tongue. "That was my version of black coffee so it might've been slightly more bitter than the usual. Would you like to try a different one?"
Tsuna shook her head and then reached for her beautiful glass of orange juice, still disgusted by the taste that lingered on her tongue. "No, thanks." She said, after gulping down the whole glass in one go. She didn't like coffee.
"Well, what did I say..." Giotto said lightly, reclaiming his cup. Tsuna watched on in amazement and shock when Giotto downed the rest of his coffee so easily, as if he couldn't taste the bitterness at all. When she asked him about this, he just told her that he liked his coffee that way, which puzzled her even more because there couldn't possibly have been anyone in this world who could tolerate -let alone like-that level of bitterness. The blonde then got up and cleaned up their tables, while Kyoko and Haru came strolling back into the room with many bags in their hands, and an unusually sombre-looking G tailing behind them.
Haru spotted the brunette making funny faces. "Hahi! What's wrong, Tsuna-san?"
"N-nothing's wrong!" Tsuna said, hopping off the chair to join the two other girls.
"Kyaa~ You look so cute in that, Tsuna-chan!" Kyoko squealed. She hugged Tsuna around the shoulders in a suffocating squeeze. She turned around to face G. "Is this the uniform you were talking about, G-san?"
"Y-yes… It is…" G replied weakly. He looked paler than usual.
"It looks so cool on you, Tsuna-san!" Haru said. Tsuna smiled meekly. As long as it made the both of them happy, she was okay with it.
Giotto raised a cautious brow at the flimsy appearance of G as he leaned against the counter, looking older than ever. Since when had his storm guardian become so weak? "O-oi, what happened to you, G? I thought I told you to-"
"-Giotto…" G interrupted. He got onto his feet and placed his hands onto the blonde's shoulders. "I can't take it anymore."
"What?" Giotto said, worry colouring his tone.
"Next time…" G shook the blonde by the shoulders softly. "Appoint yourself as the fucking supervisor of those girls, why won't you."
"G-san!" Haru called. G tensed. "Thankyou for wearing these costumes! They really helped us with the measurements!" Giotto gave a loud cough, and G tightened his grip on the blonde's shoulders.
"No... problem." G tried to smile. He glared at Giotto's wide smile, and let go of his shoulders to head back inside. "Giotto here says that he'd like to help you with those next time."
"Really?" Haru asked.
"Wait, what?" Giotto's smile faded.
"You spent the whole of today taking measurements?" Tsuna asked, looking up at the two girls. She smiled for their sake, after all, they did spend a lot of time working on their costumes for the play and it must've been a lot of work.
"We didn't just take measurements." Haru said, lifting a finger. "We had to make sure there weren't any loose seams, we had to sew on tags, we drew up samples and we ran over the script one last time to make sure the costumes were exactly as depicted in the story. Right, Kyoko-chan?"
Kyoko nodded her head, and grabbed onto Tsuna's hands. "We really want to make an impact tomorrow. It's our first time doing this so we want to make it one of the best ones, too."
"O-oh…" Tsuna said.
"You're coming tomorrow, right, Tsuna-chan?" Kyoko asked, cocking her head in that oh so irresistibly adorable way. Her question was like a blow in the stomach for Tsuna, because she knew she couldn't go, no matter how hard she had begged her step parents in the past. They didn't like those sort of things.
"U-um…" Tsuna said, looking away shamefully. "I-I don't know, yet."
"Oh, please come!" Kyoko said. She shook the brunette's arm gently. "I really want you to come and see our play. Pretty please?"
"Only for half an hour! Our play only goes for half an hour, is that okay?" Haru added. "Come and watch our play."
"I really don't-…" Tsuna started, but then it broke her heart when Haru and Kyoko gave her saddened looks. She heaved a weary sigh. "O-okay…"
"Really?" Haru and Kyoko cried, overjoyed. "Yay!"
Kyoko stuck out her pinkie, and made Tsuna promise that she really was going to the festival tomorrow. Carefully, the brunette hooked her smaller pinkie with Kyoko's and swore, noticing Giotto's gaze fixated on her the whole time. This just made her feel worse. Satisfied, Kyoko and Haru invited the brunette to go over to Haru's place. Using the same reason as a few days ago, she refused. Then Kyoko's brother came and picked the both of them up, bringing an extremely large umbrella to shelter all of their stuff from the rain as it bucketed down on top of them.
And at that moment, the rain didn't seem so great anymore.
"You're not really going, are you?" Giotto asked, a brow furrowing.
"No… I can't." was her reply. She just stood there, staring emptily out the window.
"But you want to go."
"Have you tried explaining it to them?" Giotto said, softly. "Your parents, I mean. I'm sure they'd understand if you told them how you felt."
"They aren't here." Tsuna said. "And I don't think they'd let me… even if I did… ask… once they came back…" Her voice grew quieter as she finished her sentence, until it was just a whisper.
"What about your siblings?" He treaded around the topic lightly. "Do you have any siblings that you could ask?"
The brunette looked uncomfortable for a second, and then averted from his gaze once again, which only made him more anxious. There was something about the way the brunette was behaving that made him feel like there was something wrong. No teenager should live by themselves. To his relief, she gave him a small nod.
"Brothers or sisters?"
"…Two older brothers…" She finally answered, in a small whisper.
"Great," Giotto said, reaching out to ruffle her hair. "How about asking them? Just for a bit. It wouldn't harm anyone." To his surprise, she didn't resist, or squirm under his grasp, but just stood there stiffly. Then the anxiety came back again, hitting him hard. It was his first time he'd asked about her family, and she'd never really talked freely about her family. He'd always been the one talking about his own sweet little - well, not exactly little-famiglia back in Italy, and not even once, had the brunette brought the topic up on her own.
"…I'm not going to ask them." Tsuna said, staring straight ahead as if he was transparent.
"Have you asked them before?" He asked. "Because if you did-"
"We're not that close." Tsuna said. "We might as well be strangers, if it weren't for the fact that we lived under the same roof. We don't even share the same blood. We all have different mothers."
This struck him speechless, and he stood there gaping. "You have a step mother?"
"W-w-why are we talking about this? I don't want to talk about my family right now!" Tsuna cried, revering to her senses. She pushed his hand off of her head and removed the large bow, placing it onto the table. "I won't be going tomorrow, that's all. Plus, it's not like they would actually check to see if I was there or not, with their play being so busy and all that. They wouldn't notice, even if I do turn up."
That's what she hoped.
"You can tell me anything, Tsuna."
Tsuna stopped for a split second to turn and stare at the blonde. "Tell you what?"
"About your family." Giotto finished. He smiled back at her. "Remember when I asked you to join my famiglia? I really meant it when I said that I wanted to protect you. And how you told me 'Why would you want to protect someone you don't even know?' Well, now I want to know. So you'll tell me, right?"
Tsuna blushed, and hid her eyes with her bangs. "M-maybe…"
He chuckled lightly. "That's good enough for me."
"W-what are you going to do with the shop once you close it?" Tsuna asked, glancing around the room. "Are you just going to leave it like this?"
"Well, I suppose my grandfather wouldn't mind if I just left it untouched." He said, scratching his head. "I've seen him close it many times as a kid, so I suppose it's okay."
"Oh." Tsuna said. "You used to-"
"Giotto!" G called, sticking his head out the corridor and into the room. In his hand held a phone, and he waved it in the air a little, grabbing both of their attention. "Your call. Take it."
"Why do you always have to interrupt us, G?" Giotto sighed wearily. Disheartened, he strode towards the red head. "Why can't you take it for a change?"
"Oi, you know I can't." G said, handing Giotto the device. "It's Lampo. I'd probably end up breaking your phone, if I did."
Giotto muffled the receiver, then turned to the brunette with a smile. "It's alright for you to go now, Tsuna. Just be careful in the rain, it's thunder storming a little. And beware of strangers. I doubt that they'd be out in the rain, but there's been a few suspicious people wandering the streets these past few days. Just be extra careful."
"Right, right. I know, I know." Tsuna rolled her eyes. "And what about this uniform? Do you want me to return it?"
"Nah, keep it." Giotto waved a dismissive hand. "I don't know what I'd do with it anyway."
"Hah…" Tsuna tugged at her skirt and walked steadily towards the break room to collect her school uniform. Giotto stepped out of her way and waited until the brunette had left the shop, before he answered the phone, listening to his rather whiney and somewhat lazy-bum of a lightning guardian.
"Hello?" Giotto spoke into the receiver.
"What took you so long, Primo?!" Lampo cried loudly, as soon as he heard his boss' voice.
"Oh, I was just talking to Tsuna."
"Who's that? Have you been seeing a woman? You never told me you were seeing someone! What's she like, this Tsuna person? Is that even a girl's name? 'Cuz it sure doesn't sound like it."
"No, I'm not seeing anyone, Lampo."
"Ehh? But you're already 24! Are you even going to get a wife? Or are you going to be one of those guys who stay single the rest of their lives? That's gonna be so sad. You're just like G. There's been a lot of men who marry in their forties, nowadays, did you know that, Primo?"
"Lampo! We're not here to discuss this." Giotto groaned, pinching the bridge between his eyes. "Tell me why you called."
"Oh. Uh. U-um. I lost it."
"… You lost... what?"
"Asari's phone number and address." Lampo said. "G gave them to me, but now I can't find them."
"You can't be serious." Giotto could swear he that he could punch something right now. "Lampo! We're leaving on Tuesday, and it's up to you to find him, do you understand me?"
"We are? But how am I supposed to-"
"G's going to help you, so stop whining and do something."
"What? Why?" yelled Lampo and G at the same time.
"You'll have a better chance at finding Asari before Tuesday if there were both of you. That's why. You're going to take forever if you're by yourself." Giotto said, ignoring the pricks he'd felt from G's glares. "That's final. Just wait for G at the closest hotel, and you can tell him where you are by text. Got it? I'm hanging up."
Giotto turned off his phone, then sighed heavily. Talking to Lampo was one of the most tiresome things he's ever done.
"Are you sure about that?" G asked, breathing heavily to calm himself. He was still pretty pissed off about the fact that he had to go and look for that greenie. He wasn't, as soon as he thought of Asari, though. At least by having that guy by his side, Lampo would quiet down a little. That was what he was counting on.
"You and Lampo?" Giotto merely said.
"Tch, what else?"
"Sure, why not." Giotto shrugged his shoulders. "You need to learn to get along with others a little more. Especially those who are practically family."
"Heh. Family, eh?" G cracked a grin at this. "Speaking of family, you were talking about that with Tsuna a few moments ago, weren't ya."
"Yeah, so?" Giotto removed his apron, and dropped it onto the hook behind the prep room door, with G following closely behind him. He poured himself a glass of water.
"Do you by any chance… have any kind of feelings for her?" G asked, with a dead-panned expression. "I don't see you being overprotective with the other girls."
Giotto choked on his water, and turned bright red. "W-what kind of a stupid question is that? Don't be ridiculous. She's only in high school. There's like an… 8 year gap between us and that's freaking illegal, G."
"Talking about law now?" G handed him a towel to wipe his mouth. "You're a mafia boss, who asked the same girl to join your family. That's beyond comprehensible, but my question on the other hand was completely reasonable."
"Oh." Giotto said, blinking hard. "That makes sense."
"Give it some thought, why don't you." G said, and he stood back to wait for an answer. "Do you, Giotto?"
"I d-dunno." Giotto pretended as if G wasn't there, and continued to drink his water. But when G gave him a concentrated stare that was hard enough to crack his glass, he swallowed nervously and looked away.
"Oh?" G grinned evilly, before he spun around on his heels and headed straight for the door with a dark chuckle in his throat.
"'Oh' what, G? Wait- where are you going?"
"To do my job!" G said, in a great mood. "Oh, and don't forget, Giotto..."
Giotto sighed. "What is it?"
"It's still illegal."
And that's all for chapter 6.
Please R & R! Just tell me your thoughts. Stuff about the Characters- Plot- Relationship- Author's shitty updates- (cough cough, "Hey!") And whether you enjoyed the chapter or not. I know this ended up a little longer than usual... but I probably took the same amount of time to write it as I did with the others, so it's all good. If only I didn't get the writer's block so often... Well, anyways... I'd really appreciate it if you say something, it means a lot. :)