Hey everyone~ Glad to be back! I really missed writing for you guys. So happy to have a little time off school, too! Sorry there's no sexy scene in this chapter, but I promise there will be one next time. Hope you continue to enjoy this story. :)

The incessant buzzing of the alarm, along with the harsh sunlight intruding into the room from the hotel window, rudely awaken me. I feel my head pounding, but reluctantly open my eyes. Ikuto's whole body is wrapped around mine, both of us still fully-clothed from last night. I slowly and carefully wriggle out from under his grip. Standing up from the bed, I head into the bathroom and check myself in the mirror, not bothering to close the door behind me. My hair is pointing every which way, my face shiny from the unwashed makeup, and yesterday's clothes wrinkled around my body.

I'm a fucking mess.

The room's door crashes open, making my head pulse in agony. Utau's musical voice ring's out throughout the suite. "Amu, where are you? We have to be on the bus in an hour, you know!"

"In the bathroom, quit shouting." Crap, I hadn't even thought about today's itinerary. I slide my shirt over my head, working on unfastening my skirt to get in the shower, when my twintailed roommate invites herself in with me. She digs through her pocket, producing two orange tablets and setting them on the bathroom counter.

"Ibuprofen. You feeling okay after last night?"

"I've definitely been better," I confess, the bathroom's seemingly too-bright lights burning into my eyes.

"Drink plenty of water with those. I'll bring us up some toast," she offers, dashing out of the room.

Seems like she's had more than her fair share of experience in this area. Though, I don't know that I could even stomach that much right now. Somehow, I get the pills down, and drink as much water from the sink as I think I can handle. I close the door, finish undressing, and hop in the shower, the hot water warming my chilly skin. I let myself get lost in it until I remember her warning. I shampoo and wash up quickly, then dry myself with a fluffy nearby towel. After applying a little makeup, I wrap the towel around my body and walk out into the room.

Ikuto is just waking up, dazed from sleep and alcohol. His hand meets his forehead, and I regret not asking Utau for more medicine.

"Morning, perv. Wake up, we have places to be."

After kicking him back to his own room so I could get dressed, we boarded the bus and headed off to lunch at a deep dish pizza place. Although it was super touristy, it seemed pretty necessary given Chicago's reputation in that regard – and the pizza certainly lived up to it. After getting back on, we headed deeper into the heart of the city, back to where we were yesterday – Millennium Park.

For the past eleven years, the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink has been open to the public, my itinerary reads. Skate rentals are still only $10 – remember to bring money!

We all unload out of the bus and head to the ice skate rental kiosk. After handing over some cash, I hold in my gloved hands one pair of slightly worn white skates. I sit down on a bench outside the rink, only to be joined by Utau moments later.

"Feeling any better?" she asks, genuine concern in her voice as she pulls her skates onto her dainty feet.

"Yeah, much. It's like that headache never even happened," I respond.

She beams, having evidently recovered from this morning as well. "I'm glad! Just remember to keep hydrated, okay?"

I nod in agreement before leaning down and struggling with my skates a bit. I know they are supposed to be snug, but holy hell are they ever tight. Standing up, I immediately stumble and cling to the blondie for support.

She laughs lightly as she offers me her shoulder for support. "A little inexperienced?"

A little blush forms on my cheeks, the warmth it provides somehow refreshing. "Just a bit."

"Here, I'll show you how," she says, taking my hand and motioning toward the rink. We carefully waddle through the snow on our way, balancing on thin blades. We step into the rink, where a throng of people spin around the ice in a multicolored flurry. Small trees adorn the outside edges of the rink, each one wrapped in a string of festive lights whose glow is paled by the afternoon sun. Couples young and old keep each others' pace with their fingers entwined, teenage boys push past each other in childish races, and parents hold the hands of their clumsy little ones. It's a lovely scene, but they're all going so fast! How can I possibly keep up? I haven't skated in years.

Utau guides us to the side, letting me hold the waist-high rail before moving in front of me. "It's not too hard in and of itself, but you need to learn how to keep your balance. Just move with your right foot," she says, sweeping the ice with her skate, "then your left." She stops, turning to face me.

I tentatively start moving, keeping the guard rail close at hand. Soon I get the hang of it and let go, keeping up with Utau's slowed pace.

She smiles at my progress. "See, you've got it! I'm going to go find Kukai, though. Think you'll be alright on your own?"

I nod and watch her glide off. Now, what to do? I spot Yaya skating in circles around poor Kairi, who's struggling to keep up. Little Rima is sandwiched between Nagihiko and Tadase, talking and laughing with both of them. I see Ikuto skating all by himself, which is somehow unsurprising. I start towards him, carefully keeping my balance as I go.

He looks over at me as I come up next to him. A small smile forms on his face as he observes my new-found skating skills. "It's not too hard, right?" he asks, his tall frame moving across the ice next to mine.

My legs keep moving in front of me. "Yeah! It's not so- whoa!" I lose my balance and come tumbling down, falling right on my ass. "O-Ow..."

I can feel the heat rising to my face before I even hear him start laughing. I look up, and he seems impossibly tall from down here. He leans down, offering me his hand. "A little inexperienced?" he teases, helping me to my feet as people skate all around us. We're a rock in the middle of a strong current, unmoving among the chaos.

"Maybe a little, but this isn't my first time, you know!" I say, defending myself.

"You're like Bambi out here, koneko-chan."

My head tilts in confusion as he takes my hand, mirroring the couples on the ice. "What's a 'Bambi?'"

He lets out a charming laugh as we join the crowd again, allowing ourselves to get lost in the flow.

After a couple hours, we board the bus again, everyone's noses and cheeks red and chapped from the cold. I shudder as we sit down, the heat of the interior thawing me out. By the time we arrive at the Magnificent Mile, a huge, multi-block shopping center, the fallen snow on my coat has melted into water. Though it's not even five in the afternoon, the sun has already set and the sky is dark, making the cityscape lights even more beautiful against the Midwestern night sky. We hop outside and rush into one of the revolving doors, not wanting to deal with the winter air any longer.

Dinner is delicious but somewhat brief, seeing as everyone is mostly just excited about shopping. We begin on our journey through the main mall, breaking off into groups and coming together again at random. While all the boys are busy grabbing coffee from a chain store nearby, Utau grabs me and leads me into the huge Victoria's Secret on one of the higher floors. Rima and Yaya are quick to follow, ditching the other guys to come explore with us.

The store is well lit, blindingly bright compared to the preppy stores Utau has been favoring. Slim, busty glass mannequins sit atop the displays, modeling the lacy lingerie stored in the drawers below. Yaya rushes ahead, pulling out the drawers and examining their contents with the excitement of a child unwrapping her first Christmas gift. Rima's face visibly brightens as she looks around, favoring the various perfumes. I tentatively join Yaya in looking through the panties next to the yoga pants displays. Flipping through the fabric like pages of a book, I see a few messages printed on the butts: "No peeking!", "Naughty or nice?", and "Unwrap me" all adorn the backs in sequins. Kinda cute, but not really my thing.

I follow Utau deeper into the store, exploring the more adult options. I've always secretly loved shopping for sexy underwear; though wearing pink and frilly clothes would break my cool and spicy image in high school, I could wear something girly underneath and feel sexy all day. Utau curiously looks at some of the sexy nightgowns, some satin, some see-through, and many adorned with pretty white lace. I find myself becoming interested – that is, until I see the price tag. "Utau, can you really afford stuff like this?"

She smiles her sweet smile. "Hey, we're on vacation! Might as well indulge a little, right?" she says, holding up a light blue nightgown with a white lace trim held together by a pink bow.

"I suppose," I say, looking around. Maybe I could afford to splurge a little. But if I had someone to show these kinds of things off to, what would they like? "Hey, Utau."

"Hm?" she asks, not looking up from the display.

"I want to buy some panties. What do you think I should get?"

She looks up at me. "What do you mean? Whatever you feel sexy and confident in, of course!"

Solid advice, I suppose. "I know that much! But I'd want my boyfriend to be turned on, too," I argue, digging a little deeper.

Another smile crosses her lips as she raises an eyebrow. "Your boyfriend?"

"My hypothetical boyfriend," I explain, rolling my eyes a bit at her teasing.

"Well, I can't speak for every man, but I've never met one that doesn't like thongs," she offers, leading me over to the appropriate display. "They look a little scary if you've never worn one before, but after the very first minute, they're the comfiest panties you'll ever put on."

She is right, on her first point at least. It looks like a wedgie just waiting to happen. I'm willing to play along a little bit, though. "But what style?"

"That depends on the guy, right?"

Another point well-made. And without a boy here to ask – I shudder at the thought of asking Ikuto or Kukai for advice on this kind of thing – I may just have to rely on my twintailed roommate. "Yeah, I guess. But where should I start? I mean, what would someone like, I don't know, your brother be interested in?"

A mischievous spark lights in her eyes, holding a secret. I know something you don't know, they taunt. She smirks as she looks over the options, thin strips of cloth of many different colors. "My brother and I don't really talk about this stuff much, but I think I know him well enough to help you out in that regard." She circles the display, examining each pair. "If I know him, I'd say he'd like something black – a little edgy, but sexy and feminine."

Her passion draws me in, and I can't help share her curiosity. I look at my options, weighing them against each other. Out of all of these, which ones would work the best? Which would make me feel the sexiest? It's somehow thrilling, and I find myself completely entranced.

She darts off back to the nighties, leaving me to decide for myself. But how can I choose? I close my eyes, and let my finger land on the answer.

We come out of the store, pink striped bags on our arms. Yaya's holds a few pairs of cute panties, some striped and some polka-dotted. Rima has perfume and a pair of the "message" panties; apparently she'd found them and thought they were really funny. Utau got a sexy, see-through teddy that she probably intended to wear for Kukai tonight. I look down into my bag. In it, wrapped up in frail pink tissue paper, are my new panties: a black thong with pink and white polka dots, with a thin white lace trim and a pink bow adorning the front.

The boys come running up to us, looking exhausted. "There you are!" Kukai exclaims.

"We were looking all over for you guys," Tadase adds.

Utau looks a bit smug. "Where did you expect us to be, really?" she teases, waving the bag in Kukai's face. "Got a little present for you."

His face visibly lights up as Ikuto approaches me, taking my arm in his. "And what did you get today, koneko-chan?"

I scowl a bit. "Wouldn't you like to know?" I respond, sticking my tongue out.

He laughs as we separate ourselves from the group. "Perhaps its not of my business. Where to next?"

I look around, surveying my options. That's a very good question, actually. "Um..." We just ate, so there's not much reason to explore the restaurants that the Magnificent Mile has to offer. And I think I'm burned out when it comes to shopping for clothes.

"If you don't make up your mind, we're going in here."

He stands in front of a brightly-lit store, the sign outside reading "Couple's Corner." A sex shop. What else would he pick?

"I refuse," I say, crossing my arms.

The smirk reappears on his lips. "Ah, but I'm afraid that's not possible, strawberry. You owe me, remember?"

Owe him? I think back, trying to remember what he could be referring to. It hits me like a freight train. I touched his dick in the hot tub. I can't help but blush as I remember flinching back in surprise, reversing the roles of the game completely. "Oh, fine. And I'm not your strawberry!"

He chuckles as we head inside. The whole place is rather tasteful, despite its contents. There are various sexy costumes on display, and a section full of DVDs and porn magazines. There's BDSM supplies next to a small book display showcasing some terrible bestseller, and all sorts of flavored lubes. What catches my eye though, is the large display of toys. I've never owned a toy before; actually, I've never even been to a place like this. Aren't they all really expensive? Besides, back at home, I always worried about someone I knew seeing me buy one. I would just die!

I take a step closer to investigate. The prices aren't actually too bad – most are between $30 and $50 in US dollars, and the cheapest one, a simple, metal vibrator, is less than $10. A box with a picture of a silver-colored multi-speed vibrating bullet catches my attention. I am curious, but I can't let that get the best of me in front of Ikuto.

"Whatcha looking at?"

My whole body flinches backwards, bumping right into the man behind me. I jump again, surprised at the sudden contact. I whirl around to see the man who so abruptly interrupted my private browsing. "W-Wouldn't you like to know!" I blurt, not knowing what else to say.

He smirks as he watches my panicked reaction. "Relax, kitten. It's a bullet, not a butt plug. Although..." he trails off, gesturing to the display of ass toys to the right.

"Don't even think about it," I warn. I stubbornly turn back to the display of female toys, trying my best to act cool and collected. My eyes survey each one, as if I'm actually trying to decide which one to buy. Although I'd really like to own one, it's not like I'm going to buy something in front of my pervy, cat-like friend. To hell with splurging, at least for now.

Quite a few look like a lot of fun, including the more traditional dildos and discreet panty-vibrators, but I turn away after a while. After one more quick glance around, I move to exit the store.

"Leaving already?" Ikuto asks nonchalantly.

"Yeah, nothing looked interesting," I lie. "I'm going to go find Utau again."

"Suit yourself. I'll catch up with you soon."

I wave at him as I leave the store, the bell ringing as I step back out into the cold winter air.

"Okay, Utau. I get why you'd buy a cute picture frame at the souvenir store..."


"And I get why you'd frame a picture from the same trip in said frame..."


I can practically hear the smug smile growing across her face. It's enough to boil me over. "But why on earth would you frame a picture of that stupid perverted cat-guy on one knee in front of me?"

She bites her lip, barely containing her laughter. "It's a great picture, right? I mean, you've got the sculpture park in the background, the beautiful sunlight, and that adorable red face of yours!" She points to the picture on the hotel room's table, highlighting my embarrassed expression.

I can't help but roll my eyes. "Whatever, just go show the photographer a good time and get it over with."

Her slim body bounces around the room as she puts down her shopping bags and tidies her hair, finally making her way over to the door to the hotel's hall. "That's my plan! See you at dinner, roomie," she says with a wink. Honestly, that silly girl is almost too much sometimes.

My forearms burn with relief as I set my bags down on the bed. Shopping for so many hours has proved to be absolutely exhausting. I start unpacking them, setting the folded clothes into the hotel dresser. I come to my pink striped bag last, excited to see my new panties again. I reach in, but instead of the delicate tissue paper, my hand hits something else. I pull it out, and stare at a silver vibrating bullet encased in hard plastic.

That fucking cat is going to pay.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/whatever made you feel happy this season!
Anyway, thought you'd enjoy the whole sex-shop scene setup, though perhaps the boys should have come into the Victoria's Secret with them, too. But, you know how it is!

Amu: No, I do not want Ikuto buying me lingerie. The ring and the vibrator is bad enough as it is.
Honey: Aw, but that would be so much fun!
Ikuto: Has anyone ever bought that stuff for you?
Honey: Actually, my boyfriend did very recently for our nine-month celebration. But since it's December and it was see-through red with white trim, all I could think of was that scene from Elf...
Ikuto: Amu, will you be my "special someone" this year?
Amu: With Honey's writing, I doubt I won't be.

So happy holidays, everyone! Love you guys, and I promise there will be a sexy scene next chapter! So, review and stuff, and have a fantastic new year. :)