-Ikuto-

"That was barely enough time to talk to anyone. Nya," Yoru grumbled.

"Any ideas?" I asked idly.

He gave me a confused look. "Of what?"

"Getting Amu to change her mind."

He shrugged his miniature shoulders. "I don't know. Whatever comes to mind, I guess."

"Whatever comes to mind…"

"Hey, you! Stop there!" My gaze snapped from the sky to a cop chasing after a black-haired kid, who was holding something. Standing a few meters behind the cop was an old woman, glaring at the guy being chased. My best guess was that he'd probably stolen something of hers.

With a roll of my eyes, I darted after the kid, grabbed him by the hoodie, and lifted him up to my face. He stared at me with huge brown eyes, trembling. I gave him my fiercest stare.

"Hand it over," I growled, holding out my free hand.

He immediately put the object in my palm- surprise, surprise, it was a purse.

I released him, grabbed his wrist and yanked him in the cop's direction. The tall, thin man accepted the teen with a nod of thanks toward me, and then slammed handcuffs on his wrist.

The woman took the purse, thanking me breathlessly, and both she and the cop asked if there was anything that they could do to return the favor.

I smirked. "Well, there is one thing…"

With that, I snatched a spare pair of handcuffs from the cop's belt, pantsed him (because it would've been totally boring if I hadn't), and ran away holding back a hysterical laugh.

(-Y-)

"Uh…Hinamori? You alright?"

I didn't even look at Kukai. The snowball fight had been fun for the first five minutes, until Yaya's team went totally ballistic on us and pretty much stuffed my underwear full of freezing, stinging snow.

Oh, and Utau. Utau had been the worst of them all.

She threw, like, fifty snowballs a second, all with the most powdery, freezing cold snow you could find, all loaded with sticks, pebbles, and all sorts of debris, and all directed at my face. And, the entire time, her eyes had been glowing the scariest shade of red I'd ever seen.

The way my name sounded through her mouth would give me nightmares that night.

To top it all off, now we were all supposedly getting some more hot chocolate to warm ourselves up, and I was the only one that was shivering like a psycho and dripping wet, everything cold but my purse.

"You annoy me," Utau muttered as she walked ahead of me.

I would've said something back, something to express the undeniable rage surging through my veins, but my teeth were chattering so hard that every syllable sounded like a drum solo.

Instead, I just turned around and walked away, back toward my house. When everyone asked what I was doing, I waved my hand dismissively at them, shaking my head. I wanted to go home right now. Alone.

(-Y-)

-Ikuto-

"Hello, Ikuto! Merry Christmas." Amu's mother smiled warmly at me through the doorway, gesturing for me to come in. I could see that she was in a rather homely mood; she had that sparkle in her eye that I saw whenever she was gathering ideas for her magazine.

"Hello," I said politely back. "Is Amu home?"

Her mom shook her head. "No, but you can wait for her in her room, if you'd like."

I nodded and gave a smile to the woman. Being around Amu's family always made me envious; her mother was such a kind woman, willing to care for a complete stranger that had intruded her daughter's bedroom. Her father was a drastic and amusing man, but he cared the world for his children. Her little sister…well, I had to admit, I wouldn't be able to stand being her sibling if I were Amu, but I guess, in a way, she wasn't totally irritating. At least she didn't need as much help as Utau had, before Amu had come along.

Of course, my family was reunited again. My mother had divorced my stepfather (mutually; they had both agreed that there was no reason for their marriage), I had brought my father back to Japan after a few months of traveling with him, Utau had begun to live with us again, and our friendship with the Hotori family was mending itself.

However, things could become a bit awkward at home, which is part of the reason why I chose to sleep in Amu's room half of the time. My mother and my father still loved each other, but they had just resolved an argument between themselves over whether or not it was right of my dad to leave. They'd just gotten remarried a few months ago.

Utau had reacted as my mother had. She'd cast my father out of the house, and it'd taken a really pissed off lecture from me (after she'd cussed him out for playing the violin near the house) to change her mind.

I, of course, made sure my dad didn't leave again. I wasn't the family type, but I knew that, whether they agreed or not, Utau and my mother needed him. After so long in a broken home, we all needed some sense of unity.

So now we all lived together (and apparently my dad can see Shugo Chara- go figure), but that didn't make things less awkward. I was still me, Utau was still Utau, and my dad was way too cheerful about everything.

His positivity and wisdom did make me feel different inside, the way I felt when I was around Amu (minus having to keep myself from tackling her), but sometimes he acted just like Tsukasa-san. As a matter of fact, those two hung out a lot these days….

I allowed myself a smile as I heard Amu's dad wail in the living room that his little girl was hanging out with too many boys and a slight sigh as Ami yelled, "Ikuto-kun! Ikuto-kun! Come and play!"

That girl was just like Utau.

I marched up into Amu's room and slipped underneath her covers, where it smelled just like her.

Yoru announced, "I'm going to take a little cat nap-nya." With that, he immediately fell asleep.

I stared at him. He was the closest thing I had to a best friend; he knew what I was thinking all of the time, kept me out of trouble (as much as he was willing to), and cared for me. No one but Tsukasa-san and Amu ever really did that, and half of the time I was taking care of them in return.

Shugo Charas really were strange beings. There was no way that someone could be so…..absolute. But for them, it was the norm. If they were an angel, they only did what they thought was right. If they were a devil, they only did what they thought was bad. If they were a cheerleader, they never gave up no matter what, and they couldn't ever stand to be sad.

Or Yoru. He was an alley-cat Chara, free as a stray. He didn't follow me, like everyone else's Chara did for their human. He moved around as he pleased, messed with whatever he wanted, roamed with absolute freedom.

But, like an alley cat, he was somewhat loyal in the midst of all of that freedom. Always saving me from the worst situations, coming back to me like a cat's favorite hiding place to check on me. I took it all for granted until the day I was supposed to turn eighteen.

Even now, my birthday wish seems as childish as it can get.

I wish I didn't have to grow up. Not until I'm ready. Please don't take Yoru. Please.

I'd blown out the candles on my self-bought chocolate dessert, my heart aching in a way that made me almost regret giving up that numbness I'd worn for so long.

When I'd opened my eyes, Yoru was there, fully there, not the ghost he'd been a minute earlier, grinning like crazy.

I'd stayed seventeen ever since.

(-Y-)

"Hi, Amu-chan!" Everyone called cheerfully as I entered the house, not even glancing at me.

As quickly as possible, I ran up the stairs, into the bathroom, slammed the door, threw off my clothes, and took the hottest shower I'd ever taken.

It. Felt. Amazing.

After about an hour, I turned off the water, wrapped myself in a towel, towel-dried my hair, pulled it up into a sloppy ponytail, and used a towel-headband to push random, damp strands of strawberry-pink out of my face.

I slid on my flip-flops, reached underneath the sink to grab a bottle of milk (I kept a secret stash there for moments just like these), and began to drink it.

"That had to be the best shower I've ever taken," I remarked between sips to Ran, Miki, and Su.

"I remember telling you that drinking that wouldn't make your chest any bigger. Obviously, I was wrong."

Before I knew it, my Charas were crying out, "Ikuto-kun! You killed Amu-chan! Her soul's flying away!"

"Her soul seems depressed. I wonder if she's a masochist?"

Thankfully, my Charas gave me my soul back, and I was about to go all out on Ikuto when- again- he caught me off guard.

He got me by the chin, forcing me to look directly into his eyes, and stared for a second before kissing my forehead.

My heart skipped a beat.

The action was so sweet, so unexpected, so unlike Ikuto that, for once, I really had nothing to say. My face flushed, but this time it wasn't an embarrassed or flustered one. The feeling was warmer, slower, and much more unfamiliar.

Doki.

Ikuto left the bathroom without another word. He hadn't said anything pervy that time, another surprise. On the contrary, he'd smiled warmly.

Doki.

I'd never felt this way before, not even around Tadase. Especially never around Ikuto. Again, the gesture was so…..sweet. Ikuto had never entered my thoughts as a sweet type of person.

Now that he had, even if it was a one-time thing, I think…..

I think that maybe, just maybe, I could fall in love with Ikuto.

Doki doki doki doki doki doki doki doki doki doki doki doki doki….

A/N: I am proud of this chapter.

Very proud.

Ikuto: …..

Amu:….

Me: WHAT? Got a problem?!

Amu: No.

Ikuto: ….

Me: Problem, Ikuto?!

Yoru: He's just too happy to express himself right now-nya.

Ikuto: *mumbles* ….though it would've been better if I'd done something a bit different in there….

Me: Pervert. I LIKED what happened. :P

August: *chomping bacon noisily* Oh, I see what's going on here. *points at Ikuto* He's totally in love with her. *points at Amu and swallows, taking another bite of bacon* And now he has to resort to dirty thoughts, or he'll start spacing out with happiness at the fact that she finally admitted something about her feelings for him. *swallows and takes another bite* I know 'cuz I've been somewhere like that. *chomps*

Star: I'm sorry? What do you mean, exactly?

August: Nah, not you, Star. You were the object of affection in the situation, but no dirty thoughts in this Prince's mind. You're too sweet and innocent for me to corrupt that. :D

Luella: Augustus, she fought and won a bloody, scarring war that began when she was twelve. *looks at Star, who's blinking in confusion with big blue doe-eyes* Although you have a point, she is impossible to corrupt.

Kaden: August, the bacon please.

August: NO. XP

Star: August, give Kaden some bacon. He's hungry.

August: Well HE doesn't have scars on his already-pale stomach, so NO. XP

Ikuto: What does that have to do with anything?

Amu: Just give him some bacon.

Luella: Augustus, give him bacon OR ELSE.

August: Or else what? You'll hypnotize me into doing it? Fat chance, cuz I'm a Radiant. WHAZZUP.

Lue: No, imbecile, I wasn't going to say that, because we're ALL RADIANTS. Hand it over, or I'll call Esther to beat your skull in with me.

August: O_O Kaden, take the bacon. NOW. NOOOW.

Kaden: *smiles shyly at Luella* Thanks, Lue.

Luella: *rolls eyes* Oh, come off it and just kiss me already, Hughes. *grips Kaden by his shirt and plants a kiss on his lips*

Star: *smiles happily and laughs a bit* They're so sweet together.

August: -_-

Star: Something wrong?

August: -_-

Ikuto: *smirks* I see what's happening here. *points at August* He is in love with her *points at Star* and is jealous of them *points at still-kissing Lue and Kaden* because he *points at Kaden* is getting attention.

Amu: Even I have to admit that the irony of this is pretty funny.

Star: Oh! *turns to August* I'm so sorry, August! If you wanted attention, you just had to say so.

Ikuto: *sweat drop* This chick is denser than Amu.

Amu: Hey!

August: *opens arms for a hug, pouting*

Star: *laughs and gives August a tight hug, kissing him on the lips afterward* Love you, August.

August: *smiles happily and holds Star to him* Love you, too, Snow White. Princess. Donatella. Star. Water girl. Epitome of perfection.

Star: *blushing majorly* August, um, that's enough.

August: Wait a sec, not finished yet. Shadow-slayer. My dream girl. Sweetness in a human form. The prettiest girl in the Universe. Charmer of all living things. The personification of all things good.

Star: *face cherry-red* Uh….

Ikuto: *smirking* I am enjoying this.

Amu: Poor girl.

Ikuto: That reminds me. *turns to Amu* Seems every other couple is hooking up but you and I, Amu-koi.

Amu: Th-they're totally not hooking up! Just kissing and stuff! And DON'T ADD THAT SUFFIX TO MY NAME!

Ikuto: *purrs and smirks, getting ready to pounce*

Amu: *eyes wide* Ikuto!

Ikuto: *pounces*

Lue and Kaden: *break apart and stare at Ikuto's attack, wide-eyed*

August: *still holding Star, stares at the attack* *whispers to Star* Isn't she, like, five years younger than us?

Star: *too flustered to notice anything* Um, I'm sorry….?

Lue: He has the ferocity of a wolf, but the movements of a cat. It's disturbing and fascinating all at once.

Kaden: God, isn't she, like, thirteen? I mean, yeah she's cute- not as gorgeous as you, Lue- but that's, uh…..

Luella: I mean, the way he's attacking her.

August: Holy crap! He totally just put his hands under her shirt! *puts hand over Star eyes* This is a bit intense for you, Star.

Star: *comes back to her senses (finally)* What? Why? What's going on?

August: *mutters* Note to self: don't get ideas.

Luella: August, are you honestly learning from this?

Kaden: Lue, come on. He's an eighteen-year-old boy, and the most he's done with Star is kiss and cuddle. At least he's trying not to get ideas.

Star: What's happening? Will someone please tell me?

Lue: Your Prince is becoming a sickening ruffian.

August: Wait, what? No! I swear, I won't do anything Star doesn't want me to.

Star: What do you mean? You're free to do whatever you like, August; I'm not your mom. *laughs a little* Or your little sister.

August: *eye twitches* *thinks* I wish that she had not said that.

Luella: Princess! Do NOT say that! This is an entirely different matter!

Kaden: She's so INNOCENT…..and at the age of seventeen….

August: *sighs* I swear, I won't.

Star: What on EARTH is everyone talking about, then?

Luella: *walks over to Star, whispers the situation*

Star: *eyes grow wider than wide* *face turns almost purple in blush* *gently takes August's hand from her eyes and runs away*

Kaden: There goes her innocence.

August: Dang it, Lue! I wasn't going to do anything! Now she's going to hide somewhere for, like, two weeks! I'm going to be so lonely!

Luella: Serves you right for thinking such thoughts.

August: I WASN'T! Well, uh, okay, maybe a little, but can you blame me?! I'm eighteen! And there goes a guy right there, practically raping a chick five years younger than him!

Ikuto: *Sits up and smirks* Technically not a rape. Not until she's drunk.

Amu: WHAT?!

August: *shakes head* Dude. Sick. Not in a good way. Anyway, you guys know how freaking gorgeous Star is, right? Don't you?

Luella: She is rather striking.

Kaden: Yeah. Everyone's noticed but him. *jerks thumb at almost-rapist Ikuto*

Ikuto: *raises hand* I noticed, but Amu-koi's too cute to really say anything about another girl.

Kaden: Right.

August: Anyway, YOU CAN'T BLAME ME! IT'S JUST HORMONES!

Luella: He's right, Kaden. Augustus is a very puberty-centric person, isn't he?

Kaden: Actually, he really is.

August: Wait, what?

Luella: Prince Augustus, you have constant mood swings, your voice cracked so many times that I couldn't count when we first met you, you went from stick-skinny to leanly muscled within two years

August: Cuz I'm a stud.

Lue: *rolls eyes* and you're so immature that it runs my mind in circles to try and wonder what imbecilic line you'll come up with next.

August: So I'm off the hook?

Ikuto: For what? He was just thinking about his girl. I do that more than five times a minute.

Amu: *passed out, so she can't object to being Ikuto's girl*

Luella: Shouldn't you get her to a hospital? It seems she's had a heart attack.

Ikuto: Nah. I just went level three on her. If she were older, I'd have gone level one.

Kaden: O_O You have….levels?

Luella: You sick boy.

August: Guys. He's tainting our Radiance. Run, freaking NOW!

Radiants: *run away, August grabbing a majorly blushing and wide-eyed huddling Star along the way and throwing her over his shoulder*

Me: O_O Now that. Was crazy.

Ikuto: Creations of yours, right?

Me: Yeah. Didn't expect that to happen.

Ikuto: They're good kids. And the blue-eyed one was almost as cute as Amu. Almost.

Me: X) Yeah, I love Star. Anyway, we really should get Amu to a hospital.

Ikuto: Why? She's fine. It was only a level three.

Me: Did you even SEE the bruises you left?

Ikuto: Oh. No, I didn't. In that case, see you next chapter. Review, guys. *picks up Amu and leaps away to the hospital*

Me: Dear fish. WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!

Anyway, sorry for the long wait for an update, and sorry for the SUPER-long and ridiculous author's note, but that's me.

So review! Review, or Amu won't recover from the hospital, and Ikuto will kill himself.

Do you really want the blood of Tsukiyomi Ikuto on your hands?

Or the blood of Hinamori Amu?

JUST REVIEW!

Thanks. ;D