Chapter Four: Relations, Part One

Sarah caught up to Elliot outside of Tedd's house. He was looking intently at the ground when she was up to a few feet from him.

"Elliot, what's wrong? Why are you leaving so suddenly? I'm sorry about the hammer..." she said, thinking that might be the reason, "You don't need to leave so early..."

Elliot didn't respond except to look up at the night sky.

"Elliot...?" She reached out for him, getting truly worried now.

The teen finally turned around to face her, a mild frown on his face.

"Someone tried to mug you. You should visit my martial arts class, maybe even join. I have class at seven tomorrow. I could pick you up at six forty five. Sound good?"

Sarah tilted her head to the left as she observed the young man, "Um, sure. I guess that would-"

"Great," Elliot interrupted her, turning swiftly away, "See you tomorrow then." He quickly got in his car and drove away.

999

The next day, a Monday for those who forgot, Elliot sat in the cafeteria during lunch period, despondently looking at the table as he dreaded the events to come that night.

Tedd walked up to him, lunch tray in hand, "What are you doing, sleeping? This is lunch, fool..." he set his tray down then continued, "Eat something!"

"Where have you been all day?" Elliot asked his purple haired friend, "I thought you were sick or something!"

Peering at his lunch Tedd explained, "I fell asleep on the couch and there's no alarm clock in that room so I overslept."

"Why did you fall asleep there?" The other teen asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Things just sort of ended up that way..." He opened his soda and took a sip, "So how you doing? Good?" Elliot groaned and his head hit the table, "Super good?"

Some time later, with Elliot no longer sitting with his face pressed into the table, Tedd finished off what is presumed to be a rather ridiculous, but probably true, story.

"...And that, my friend, is how I saved Christmas," he took a celebratory sip of his soda.

Around that time, Elliot spotted the last person he wanted to see this period, "Uh-oh! Here comes Sarah! I gotta hide!"

Tedd watched bemusedly as his best friend scrambled for a moment before simply pulling his coat over his head and staring forward blankly.

Sarah walked over and simply stood there, glaring down at Elliot with her arms crossed.

"I can still see you, you know."

"Liar."

His defenses defeated so thoroughly, Elliot resorted to wearing his jacket in the proper fashion as his blonde friend sat down on his other side, away from Tedd.

"Elliot," Sarah began, actually looking more worried than annoyed, "you've been avoiding me all day. Why don't you want to talk to me?"

The teen sighed as he turned to her, "Well, it's complicated. I want to talk, but I find that I-"

At that point the warning bell ringed.

Elliot was on his feet and running away so quickly it brought a stiff wind that mussed Tedd's and Sarah's hair. The only other hint that a whole living teen had been in the spot just seconds ago was a desperate cry of, "Oh ye Gods I'm going to be late for study hall gotta go see you around six forty five BYE!"

As the two left sitting there basked in silence in the wake of Elliot's swift escape, Sarah couldn't help but think about his actions.

Wow... she placed one arm over the other, If he's already acting this strange around me maybe it's a good thing he's totally clueless about me wanting to date him.

999

Later that day, after school was over, Tedd walked into his house and called out a greeting.

"Dad? Grace? I'm home!"

Seconds after he closed the door he found himself under attack. A figure, somewhat smaller than his own, tackled him. Not nearly as physically active as Elliot, he didn't have the mass to simply throw his attacker off. Instead, he crumpled to the ground with a crash.

Looking up, Tedd saw the face of his attacker.

"Hello!" Grace chirped as she sat on his chest.

"H-hi..." Tedd got out, but having a little trouble breathing with her sitting on him, "I appreciate your affection, but you're crushing me. Get off please?"

Once he was able to sit up again Tedd put a hand on his chest to feel for internal damage as he took a deep breath.

"Ah, air is good. So," He turned to the girl still in her hybrid form, "Why are you still in squirrel form?"

"Well," the girl said, "two reasons. One, I passed out the last time I transformed so when I turn back I want someone around and two..." She looked over at Tedd, ducking her head a little shyly, "...You said you like this form." as she said this she wrapped the other teen in her bushy tail.

Tedd took a moment to observe Grace before asking, "You like me, don't you?"

Grace, happy he knew of her feelings, just nodded, "Totally! What gave me away?"

A few minutes later, Tedd had Grace stand in front of a chair as she transformed back into her human shape. Her ears shortened, her fur regressed into her skin and her hair became rather tame again.

The painkillers kicked in and she collapsed into the chair. She was visibly tired but didn't actually look like she was about to pass out.

"How do you feel?" Tedd asked.

"Dizzy," she breathed, "a little out of it... But that's normal, I guess." Her eyes half lidded from the energy draining painkillers, she looked at Tedd, "Heh... At least I didn't pass out, eh? So how was school?" She was quickly over coming the groggy effects of the anesthetics, "I'm hoping if we can take care of the risk my brothers pose I'll be able to go myself someday."

Tedd shrugged, "Okay, I guess. Elliot was acting weird though. Something to do with him and Sarah going to his martial arts class I'm guessing based on him saying he'd see her at six forty five when he has class at seven."

The dark skinned girl lifted an eyebrow, "Martial arts? Huh. What kind?"

The purple haired teen blinked, "Your guess is as good as mine. He doesn't talk about it much," thinking for a couple seconds, Tedd placed one fist to his chin, holding up that arm with his other, "Maybe his being weird has something to do with him knowing that Sarah wants to date him..."

"Wait, she wants to date him? Ugh," Grace blanched, "I wonder why..." A thought struck her as she as she was trying divine why the blonde girl would want to date Elliot, "Hey wait..." she lifted one eyebrow, "He knows she likes him... And if she doesn't know he knows and he's acting all weird because he's taking her to his martial arts class..." Grace gasped.

"What is it?" Tedd asked, his own eyebrow arching.

"I really hope I'm wrong, because if I'm not..." She looked out the nearby window, "...He's going to break her heart."

999

Sarah sat at the window of her house, already wearing her jacket as she waited for Elliot to show up.

Honk Honk!

Elliot waved at her with a half smile on his face. Sarah grinned at him encouragingly and waved back before getting up to go to the door.

While she did that, Elliot looked down at his steering wheel and sighed, wondering if he was doing the right thing.

+- Relations, Part Two

A short drive later, Elliot and Sarah stood in front of building.

"This is where you train?" Sarah asked.

"Yee-yup."

Sarah took another moment to examine the sign, making sure she wasn't just seeing things. Nope, the sign on the front of the building still read 'ANIME-STYLE MARTIAL ARTS'.

"Okay... well, let's go in then."

Once inside, it was pretty much what one would expect to find of a normal dojo. Leather mats, large mirror on one side of the wall for students to compare their movements to the sensei's, and a slew of students preparing for that night's lesson.

One in particular was a blond guy with a silver earring in his right ear sitting in the lotus position trying to meditate at the back of the dojo.

"It looks bigger once inside..." Sarah commented, wondering at the spacial disproportion.

Elliot put his hands to the sides of his mouth and yelled to be heard over the other students, "Hey Justin! Quit meditating and get over here!"

"But I'm about to obtain inner peace!" The blond yelled back.

"Screw inner peace!" Elliot barked at him then pointed at Sarah, "I got a friend for you to meet!"

Sarah, observing their interactions turned to Elliot, "He's not your teacher, is he?"

Elliot, who had seemed a bit sombre in the car ride there, was beginning to perk up the longer they were in the dojo, "Him? Nah! He's just another student."

Justin walked over, and Elliot gestured to him and then Sarah then back again, "Sarah, Justin. Justin, Sarah."

"Hello," Sarah greeted with a smile.

"Hey," Justin gave a short wave back.

The two of them, despite discrepancies in height, almost looked like they could be related.

Before more could be said between the three, a large black man peeked through one of the doorways and called out, "Elliot! I need your advice! Get in here now!"

"Dammit," Elliot cursed under his breath, "That's my teacher. I'll be back. Justin," he turned to one of the few people taller than himself, "entertain Sarah for a minute."

"But what about my inner peace?"

"None for you," He turned back to blonde girl, "Back soon, Sarah." and he walked off to see what his sensei needed.

"Okay," Sarah said then turned to Justin," Was that the teacher asking for Elliot's advice?" Justin nodded, "Elliot must be really good!" She was surprised, nothing she'd seen the boy do gave away that he had any martial skill at all, let alone that he was skilled enough for his own sensei to consult him on matters.

"Yeah," the taller blond nodded to her again, "he is. Only one student here is higher ranking than he is."

Looking around at the other students, Sarah tried to spot them on her own merits, "Really? Who's better than Elliot?"

"She's right over there," Justin cut his eyes in the girl's direction, "she just got dressed."

"'She'?" Sarah asked as she looked where the taller blond indicated, surprised that a girl was actually the top student.

The girl Justin indicated actually looked like a badass. She had vibrant red hair that came down to her shoulders and green eyes. She was a buxom young woman, wearing a black Karate gi with red trim and ripped sleeves. Her top was open, and she was using a tube top to cover her decency. She had a black belt, red wrist bands, and black pants on. Her muscles were well defined and yet only served to make her look more appealing and badass.

One eyebrow raised in question, "Who the hell is that?"

"She's Nanase," Justin told her, "She's the only student here who can beat Elliot."

"Why is she dressed like that?" Sarah asked about the other girls rather risque` mode of dress.

"Black belts wear what they want," he said simply.

"Is that a rule?" the girl asked.

"Sorta: nobody is brave enough to tell them no."

Deciding to ponder other matters and not mentally compare her figure to Nanase's, Sarah looked in the direction Elliot had left.

"I wonder what your teacher wanted help with?"

"I dunno," Justin said lifting his finger as he added, " but Sensei Greg works in strange and mysterious ways..."

999

Greg, master of the Anime-Style Martial Arts dojo, was a very tall, coffee colored man with naturally curly, black hair. He was incredibly muscular, and was very imposing with visible energy rolling off of him, yelling as he focused his energy.

"Well?" the man asked, "Is my hair golden and spiky yet?" He clenched his teeth as he spoke, trying not to lose his concentration.

Elliot looked like he was actually embarrassed to be in the same room as this man.

"Um, no sir."

"What about now?"

"Um, no. I don't think it's possible to go 'Super', sir."

"Ergh! Maybe..." His concentration waned for a moment, but then Greg began focusing harder than ever as he said, "But what if it is and my archrival Carrot Top achieves it before I do?"

Elliot rolled his eyes, "He's not your archrival, sir; he's a bad comedian. Can I get ready for class now?"

999

Back with Sarah and Justin, the blonde girl was curious about the origin of the dojo.

"So..." she began, "What exactly is the deal with this school? I've never heard of Anime Style Martial Arts before."

Justin nodded, "I'm not surprised. As far as I know, Sensei Greg is the only guy who teaches it. In fact, he designed the discipline himself!" He then explained what he knew of it's history, "Legend has it that after getting dumped by his girlfriend a few years back, he watched one hundred sixty eight hours straight of anime. Already a black belt in three disciplines, he was able to decipher the key to accessing the awesome power of a person's 'Ki'!" Justin was grinning proudly at the exploits of his sensei.

Frowning in thought, Sarah asked, "And how exactly does someone do that?"

"By participating in difficult, overly complex and fairly ridiculous activities that shouldn't yield such fantastic results and yet somehow do."

As Justin explained that, Nanase was getting ready for that night's sparring session. She took a loose horse stance, her fists at her side, her knees bent. A frown marred her pretty face and her hair began to writhe and wriggle as if it was gaining a life of it's own, lifting into the air. A glow began to permeate the air around her form and even the ties on her belt began to lift into the air.

It was a truly impressive sight.

Sarah was stunned, "Um... What the heck is she doing?"

"She is focusing her Ki..." Even the taller blonde seemed impressed, "I pity the poor fool that has to spar with her tonight."

999

"So you brought a friend and potential student with you tonight?" Greg asked, a devious look working it's way onto his face as he thought of the perfect exhibition to make the girl want to join, "How about giving her a demonstration by going up against Nanase tonight?" His arms crossed as he anticipated showing off his best students.

Elliot nodded his ascent, "Certainly, sir."

A half minute later Elliot walked by Sarah towards the locker room, "Aw man, sorry I was in there for so long, Sarah, I really need to get dressed for class, I'll talk to you afterwards okay?"

Sarah sighed as she watched him go, counting down mentally, Three... Two... One...

She couldn't have looked more smug if sh tried when the young man came back, looking rather annoyed with himself.

"Uniform's in the car. Going to get it and come back. We'll pretend this never happened. Talk after class."

999

Nanase was now deep into accessing her Ki, light shining brightly from her eyes, her hair whipping about wildly, and the air around her seeming to be set on fire, and her scream of concentration was echoing oddly, "AAAAAAA!"

"Looking good, Nanase!" Elliot complimented as he walked by holding his gym bag.

The light show turned off like someone flipped a switch, and she gave Elliot a more than friendly smile, "Why thank you, Elliot. Same could be said for you..."

Elliot grinned and gave her a peace sign, "Hehe... Thanks!"

After he had gone, the light of her Ki lit the air again, her hair was back to reaching for the ceiling, her eyes glowing yet again, a stream of burning energy arching between her hands as she held them in the air, roaring, again with that odd echo.

999

While Elliot was changing, Greg walked up to the sole person he didn't recognize in his dojo.

"Take off your shoes," he commanded, harsher than he meant to.

Whipping around in surprise, Sarah saw the mountain of muscle that was the sensei here up close for the first time, "Nee?"

Greg smiled a friendly smile and gestured to the main floor of the Dojo, "There's going to be a demonstration match I'd like you to see, but you'll see better on the mat and shoes aren't allowed on it."

Sarah sighed a little in relief that she hadn't somehow offended this man, "Oh, hehe... okay."

"Hehe!" He chuckled with her, then crossed his arms and fixed her with a look, "...Seriously though, take off your shoes."

Sarah eeped and rushed to comply, "Y-yes sir!"

Sarah chose to sit on the mat next to Justin, hoping he could give her good commentary on the match to come. She noticed that while she simply sat cross legged he had each foot resting on his thighs while his hands rested on his knees like a Yoga master.

She contemplated this for a moment before trying to imitate this, using her hands to try to force her legs into position, "Erk!" she grunted in pain at her failure, then crossed her arms petulantly, "Curse you and your flexible legs!" She told the taller blonde.

Justin just now realized she was there when she spoke, "Hm?"

The girl would have elaborated, but Greg had just called Elliot and Nanase to the mat for the exhibition match.

"Alright, you know the rules!" He crossed his arms as his students got into their individual stances. Nanase stood with one leg forward, her left arm leading two fingers on each hand held out straight. Elliot was in a similar stance, with his right arm leading, and his fingers curled into claws. "First to be held or down for three seconds, to give up or leave the mat loses!

"I want a clean fight!" He barked out, "Nanase, no magic and stay above the belt!"

"Damn," she didn't actually appear to care.

"Elliot, no summoning inner demons and stay away from her breasts!"

"Damn," Elliot seemed honestly annoyed by those guidelines.

Sarah was disbelieving what she just heard, one eyebrow arched above the other, "Magic and summoning inner demons?"

Justin shook his head at her, Scrub.

"Start on three!" Greg lifted one hand in the air, "One, two..." he zipped away from the area of the fight so quickly that he left a black trail of color in the air from his gi, "Three!"

For a moment, Elliot and Nanase stood there, observing each other. Elliot was an opposite to Nanase in almost every way. Her appearance was wild, untamed, sensual. Her stance was loose and her primary color seemed to be a fiery red.

Elliot was the picture of order, control and will power. His gi, black trimmed with a cool blue, was immaculate, not a single stitch out of place, and his stance perfect.

After a few seconds to observe each other, Nanase spoke.

"Don't you dare go easy on me!"

Elliot scoffed, "I wouldn't worry about that!"

The two of them charged each other, Nanase trailing red energy, and Elliot blue.

Elliot jumped forward with a punch. Nanase ducked beneath it and slid along the ground beneath his airborne form.

"What?" He tried to salvage his attack by coating his other fist in that same blue energy as before and slamming it down at her, but she was too fast, "Dammit!

Nanase slipped out of his reach, and leaped to her feet, launching a red glowing kick to his ribs, "HAI~!"

"GAH!" Elliot grunted in pain, rolling a few feet when he hit the ground.

Behind him, Nanase landed elegantly, her arms raised perfectly straight in the air, one knee pulled up to her chest.

"Ugh..." Elliot groaned as he began to get back to his feet. He noticed what Nanase was doing and grew annoyed, "Dammit Nanase! Get out of your 'Look at me, I just kicked Elliot' victory pose and attack already!"

She turned to face him, placing both feet on the ground, her arms at her sides again, the air around her twinkling ominously.

Quite suddenly, with a magic hum, she split into three copies, one with her original coloration, the middle one with green instead of red, and the third with blue. They all assumed the same stance and started forward.

Elliot narrowed his eyes and grumbled, "Dammit, I hate these trendy 'which one is real' illusion attacks!"

Elliot quickly resumed his stance, his brow furrowed as he carefully tried to pick out the real Nanase, Eenie Meenie Miney Moe, catch Nanase by her toe, if she hollers...

The three Nanases simultaneously front flipped towards him.

Mid-air flips? Elliot thought, Maybe she's going to go behind me again and attack from there? Or...

Elliot frowned and prepared to punch, She's trying to throw me off guard... The direct assault is the real! She's the green one!

Blue flipped over to behind him, Red flanked him, and Elliot whipped his left fist at the green one.

Alarmingly, both Red and Green puffed away.

"Aw crap, she was the blu-AAUUGH!" he cried out in pain as a glowing red fist slammed into his back, launching him forward with a boom.

Nanase growled and glared down at the brown haired boy, "Elliot!" she snapped at him, "I don't believe this... you're going easy one me!"

"My back has redefined the word pain..." Elliot whimpered. Elliot slowly stood back up and Nanase pointed at him angrily.

"You said you wouldn't go easy on me!" She yelled at him, "I can sense your power, Elliot..." She narrowed her eyes as she came to a conclusion, "You're toying with me!"

"Erk!" Elliot grunted, a snap filling the air as his spine realigned.

The redhead grabbed Elliot by the front of his gi, pulling him in close as she shouted at him, "Why don't you fight me for real? Is it because we've been-"

Elliot frowned, his eyes shining blue light, "-Sorry to interrupt, but-" A rumble filled the air and Elliot shouted out, "TAMASHII GEKIDO!"

Nanase was blown back with critical force, his gi ripping where she had hold of it, and a boom reverberating in the dojo.

Nanase hit the wall of the dojo, and landed upside down, "Ow."

Elliot untied his belt and took off his gi top, revealing a dark blue tank top, "Sorry about that," he said, but had a hard look on his face, "Anyway, the reason I go easy on everyone is because I'm a coward," he put the belt to his forehead and began tying it in the back, "I'm afraid I'll really hurt someone. I even fear that my power will corrupt me," after it was secured in place Elliot resumed his stance, "Please just accept the power I use here to be what I feel safe with, and enjoy the battle. I am ready."

Watching over the battle, Greg couldn't be more proud.

"A change in appearance and overly dramatic dialogue?" Greg held up two fingers on each hand and was grinning like a loon, "X-tra credit!"

Elliot dropped his stance and looked back at the huge man, "Extra credit? Since when do we have grades?"

Greg blinked for a moment before pointed back to the mat, "...Get back to the fight, drama queen!"

Nanase meanwhile bowed her head in respect of Elliot's choice.

"I see..." she said lowly, "Your power is so great that you fear what you might do with it," She lifted her hands to her sides in understanding as she raised her head, "And since your reasoning is out of concern for the safety of others, I should simply accept your logic."

Her hands dropped back to her sides, clenching into fists and a frown overcame her face as she growled out, "But I don't," She quickly took up a stance and began yelling at the boy angrily, "I've been given the title of best in class, Elliot! I'm not worthy of that title unless it's true! You will fight me using your full power!"

Elliot sighed, his stance getting tighter, Nanase...

Sarah was starting to freak out, her eyes wide, How is this all possible?

Justin seemed intrigued by something, his chin resting on his fist, Why can't Elliot always dress like that?

Greg, if anything, was freaking out more than Sarah, Full power? My insurance doesn't cover that!

The master of the dojo sprinted over to the two, glaring at them as he hissed out, just loud enough for them to hear, "What are you two doing? Full power? This is a demonstration match for God's sake!"

Nanase grinned at him, "Oh, we know that! That's why we're tossing in all the drama, to make things more interesting!" She winked at him.

"Good," Greg nodded but hissed angrily, "Except you're scaring away the person we're trying to get to join!"

A look at the blond girl showed her sitting there limply, her head tilted to one side, staring blankly ahead. She almost appeared to be watching a train wreck, horrified but fascinated.

"She does seem a little frightened..." Nanase admitted.

Greg nodded, still glaring and crossing his arms, "See?"

After a few moments, Greg nodded to himself and began to rub his hands together, "Okay," He told the two of them with a sly grin, "here's how we change things..." He pointed to the red haired girl, "Nanase, you become the Bunny-Goddess of Good Luck," he then shifted his finger to the boy, "Elliot, You take the role of a jinxed bounty hunter, and together you'll travel the universe searching for fame and fortune!" Greg paused as he thought over the description he just gave the two of them before totally freaking out, waving his arms in the air and actually crying, "WAAAAAA WHY DID THEY EVER CANCEL THE 'LUCKY BUNNY BOUNTY SHOW'?"

Elliot watched this for a second before whispering to Nanase, "He's lost it. Wanna leave early?"

She nodded, "After we finish the match."

After walking far enough from their master that he wouldn't be caught in the crossfire from any of the moves they might yet use, Nanase admitted they might have been a little extreme in their performance.

"Greg's right; if we don't want to scare her away we need a simple finish."

"But that won't work!" Elliot protested, "We've hyped up the finish too much!"

"Well we gotta do something- and fast! We look ridiculous just standing here!"

Elliot put a hand to his chin, trying to think of a solution to this problem, "Hmmm..."

Nanase however thought of one first.

She pointed across the way, tilting her head to see around him, "...Hey, is that a demonic duck of some sort?"

Elliot's head whipped in the direction she was pointing, "A demon duck?"

With her opponent distracted, Nanase dropped down and swept Elliot's feet out from under him.

"What the-?" he fell backwards, "Agh!"

Over in the corner, a red duck like creature with two black horns, a long red tail, and black pits for eyes grumbled, "I feel so used..."

Nanase quickly moved over the brown haired teen, pinning him to the floor by his wrists, a victorious smirk on her face.

"ELLIOT IS DOWN! ONE!"

Elliot began to panic and struggle to get out of Nanase's grip, Crap! I forgot about our little 'tradition'!

"TWO!"

He tried to reason with her quickly, "Nanase-I-know-we-normally-do-this-after-every-fight-but-maybe-"

"THREE!"

Nanase silenced him with a sensual kiss.

"Mmph..!"

"NANASE WINS!"

Sarah saw the kiss, a black knot of pain starting to twist in her heart, her world darkening as she came to the realization that Elliot and that girl Nanase were in a relationship. That Nanase was a babe and she was... she just was.

That she never even had a chance with Elliot.

Nanase was lifted off of her boyfriend unexpectedly, "Nani?" she cried out in japanese.

"THE WINNER!" Greg declared as he held Nanase in the air easily by the back of her gi, holding up a v for victory with his free hand.

The redhead turned a glare on her instructor as she growled out, "Put. ME. Down."

Greg grinned nervously, "Hey, you know I'm just kidding!" He released her, noticing something though, "Wait... Elliot, where did that friend of yours go?"

"Gah!" Nanase yelped as she fell to the floor.

Elliot was at the door Sarah had left through, staring sadly after her, "She... left." He hated that he hurt her.

"What?" Greg yelped, his eyes bulging with frustration, "But... new student... more money... more anime dvds... Argh!"

Elliot sighed, Sarah...

From her spot on the ground, Nanase looked at Elliot's dejected form as she put the pieces together in her mind, That was a friend of Elliot? And she ran out after I kissed him... Oh dear...

Not quite getting over the loss of a potential student, but realizing he needed to get back to teaching, Greg started barking out orders at his students, "OKAY PEOPLE, ELLIOT AND NANASE GET TO REST FOR A BIT BUT AS FOR TH REST OF YOU IT'S TIME TO START TRAINING!"

Nanase approached Elliot who was still standing in the doorway, "What is your friend's name?"

"Eh? Oh..." Elliot looked back at her, "Sarah."

"How long have the two of you been friends?"

Turning around to face her partially her answered, "As long as I can remember."

"And she's attracted to you?"

"...Yes."

"And does she know that you're aware of that?"

"I don't think she does."

"And she didn't know about me before tonight, did she?"

"No," Elliot bowed his head, looking away from his girlfriend.

Nanase frowned as Elliot kept giving up more and more damning evidence against himself, "So she didn't know we were together until she saw us kiss?"

"Yes."

Nanase glared at her boyfriend for a moment before-

POW!

She delivered a full on smack to the unsuspecting boy's face.

"You've known this girl all your life," she began gesticulating angrily with her hands, "and yet instead of talking about the feelings you know she has you decide to show her that you're in a relationship by making her witness it in person without any sort of warning?"

Elliot couldn't look her in the eye as he held his still stinging cheek and tried to justify himself, "Look, I had a plan, it just went wrong!" Nanase crossed her arms and didn't lessen her glare in the slightest as he continued, "I knew she'd be upset no matter what, but I figured It would be easier on her if she was under the impression that I was just stupid and oblivious to her attraction, so that in a way I wouldn't be rejecting her! So I planned to introduce you to her but Greg wanted to see me in his office and I was running late for class so I thought I's try afterwards but-"

"Oh please," She cut him off, "you chickened out at every opportunity. Not only that, but did you ever think about the consequences of you being oblivious to her, what that must have done to her self esteem? If she made an effort to get you to notice her in a different way and you just ignored it entirely, well, dammit, that couldn't have felt good Elliot!"

"...I hadn't considered that..." Elliot admitted quietly.

Nanase growled and yelled at the young man, "Why are you even still here? Go after her, you jerk! You need to talk to her and tell her the truth!"

"Right..." Elliot nodded, before frowning in thought, "Wait, aren't you worried about your boyfriend talking to a girl who is attracted to him and known him for years?"

"You saying I've got reason to be worried?" She demanded darkly.

Elliot leaned back holding up his hands in a placating manner, "...Um...Well, gotta go!" He quickly advanced to the rear.

Dressed in his normal clothes again, Elliot quickly searched the area around the Dojo for Sarah.

I need to fix this... Elliot told himself, I'll never forgive myself if I lose her...

He walked along the road a bit, trying to deduce her location, Let's see, where could she have gone? There's the strip club, the cigarette store, the adult book store, the abortion clinic or the ice cream place... Elliot frowned to himself for a couple seconds, Note to self: Never ask Greg why he chose this location for his school...

Looking in the only place it was logical for Sarah to go, Elliot spotted her sitting at a table in the ice cream place, a sundae in front of her that she wasn't touching.

He slowly walked over, guilty over the sad look on her face.

"Hey," he said weakly.

She looked up at him and he winced at the depression in her eyes, "Hello."

He sat down across from here and the two of them stared sullenly at the table for a moment before he tried to open up the conversation to come.

"You, um, left rather suddenly..."

Sarah sighed and tried to put on a brave face, "Well, you know how it is; sometimes you just have to have an ice cream sundae." She couldn't look him in the eye as she said it.

Elliot let that statement hang for a second before he got to the core of it, "Sarah, I know how you feel about me. I've... known for a while now..."

Sarah's face twisted with emotional pain as he said that, "But... but if you knew, why... why did you..." She couldn't finish her voice hitching.

"Ever since I first found out about how you felt, I've been afraid," he told her, "I was already dating Nanase at the time. I never talked about it because..." Elliot sighed, trying to find the right words, "Well... The thing is, We've been friends for all our lives and I was afraid that would end all because of your crush-"

"A CRUSH?" Sarah all but screamed out, "Oh God..." She turned away from him, closing her eyes and putting a hand to her face as tears began pouring from her eyes, "Elliot, this isn't just some crush... I... I love you..."

"What did you just say?" The taller teen's eyes were wide as saucers at that admission. His body froze up as he tried to compute what Sarah just told him.

"I... I shouldn't have said that..." she couldn't look at Elliot anymore, she needed to leave, "You're in a relationship... you don't need this..." She stood up and left the table and Elliot behind, "Forget I said anything... I think I'll just walk home now..." tears were freely rolling down her face by this point.

As she was walking out the door, Elliot's subconscious had finally dealt with the fact that one of his oldest friends really, truly loved him, She loves me...?

He startled out of his thoughts when he realized she was long gone and practically jumped to his feet, "SARAH, WAIT!" He ran out the door, desperately searching for her. "SARAH!"

I can't believe she loves me...

"SARAH!"

I just thought she was attracted to me, just some crush... He spun about desperately, searching for any hint of pink or flash of blonde hair.

"I DIDN'T PLAN ON YOU FINDING OUT IN THAT WAY!"

Wait, her saying that doesn't mean anything! It could still be just some confused attraction... He hoped.

"SARAH?"

...But what if it's true? What if she really is in love with me?

"WHERE ARE YOU?" He stopped running, not seeing her anywhere, panting as he looked at the ground despondently. He sighed in depression, It doesn't matter. Even if she was in love with me before, she can't possibly be now. I've made the biggest mistake of my life...

Elliot's day was about to get worse.

Nanase, surrounded by a glowing red energy- her Ki no doubt- floated over to Elliot, still in her gi, "I heard you yelling," She told him, "Is everything okay?"

"Technically, yeah," he said, "but not really..." he paused before explaining a little of what happened, "I can't believe I messed up this badly... She ran off after we talked a little and now I can't find her! I don't know what to do..."

Negating her glow and dropping to the ground she told him, "Elliot, I'll help you with the first thing you should have done..." She looked down for a moment, thinking about what she was about to do, then looked him in the eye, "I'm breaking up with you."

"WHAT?"

"I'm not going to be in a relationship with someone who is in love with someone else," she explained to him.

"What are you-"

"Don't even try, Elliot," she cut him off, "I can see it in your eyes how you feel about her, and I know how your mind works. You're afraid of dating her because you think she'll eventually dump you and the two of you wont have any further contact," she ticked off the points she made on her fingers.

"How do you get that from anything I've said or done?" Elliot frowned in thought as he asked.

"Well, your actions just label you as a coward, but the fact that we've actually discussed how you feel about relationships before kinda helps my synopsis," She tilted her head to one side as she realized something, "I just didn't realize you were talking about a specific person until now."

"Nanase, I..." he looked at her sheepishly, "I'm sorry..."

The redheaded badass crossed her arms, "Don't be sorry for me, be sorry for her. She's the one who loves you or whatever. Besides," she reminded him, "you and I both know this relationship was little more than two good friends giving each other privileges."

Elliot frowned a little, "I never liked to think about it that way."

"But that's what it was," she insisted, "Name ONE romantic thing we ever did together."

"Does making out in the car outside the movie theater count?"

"Nope."

Elliot sighed, "I do want to be with her..." he looked down, feeling ashamed of himself, "but I've been so stupid!"

Nanase saw that he needed a little hope injected, before he turned permanently emo, and said, "Yeah, but if she really loves ya, that won't matter," in a sing song voice.

+- Chapter Four: Relations, Part One & Two End