At age five, Ruri decides she likes Kanou Shugo.

Pre-school, to Ruri, is a very different environment from Ruri's home. It is big, noisy and full of others of the same age as her. Worst of all, it is full of really nasty kids, whom Ruri has already grouped into their types.

First, there are the crybabies. The first week of pre-school has already gone by, and Ruri can't understand why they are still crying for their mamas when they've already had a week of 'practice'. Ruri didn't even cry when Okaa-san dropped her off and left just as quickly on her first day. She just ran straight to Shuu-chan, smiling and getting ready to tell him about her baby brother. Then there are the snooty princesses. They act almighty and pretend they are grown-ups, and speak in this funny tone with words she does not know the meaning of. It is annoying, and Ruri wishes she could throw mud in their faces. The worst of them all are the boys though.

"You can't play with us!" the leader of the group of boys monopolizing the ball tells her.

Ruri stands against him, stomping towards him.

"Why can't I?" she shouts back.

The terrible boy pushes her and she falls on her bum. It hurts, but she won't cry because it'll mean she has lost. Ruri hates losing.

"Because you're a girl, and girls can't play with balls. They play with dolls," the big bully says proudly.

Ruri glares at him, and is about to retort when her best friend appears in front of her. Shuu-chan grabs her wrist and pulls her up.

"Are you hurt?" he asks.

She shakes her head, her eyes burning with unshed tears, because she really wants to play catch.

"Kanou-kun! You'll get cooties, you know?" the terrible boy taunts.

"No, I won't," Shuu-chan says firmly. "You don't even know what cooties are, so shut up."

Shuu-chan proceeds to ignore the other boys and pulls Ruri to a quieter corner of the play area. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a spongy toy baseball.

"Otou-san gave me this yesterday," he says. "Wanna play?"

Ruri can't help but let a grin take over her face.


At five, Ruri decides she does not hate Shuu-chan one bit. She loves her hero too much!