AU fanfic. About a little less than a year before the events of 02. I haven't really given much thought upon the date.
Thus Miyako is grade 5, Daisuke and Hikari is in Grade 4 and Iori is in Grade 2.

***At the end of the day***

Rumors rang throughout the school when classroom 4-1 was sealed and watched by various onlookers. No one except for twelve individuals knew what was inside the classroom. In any case Muzaki, the teacher, was in a rage and personally went in, to evacuate the backpacks in the classrooms to prevent whatever strange thing was in the class, from ruining students' personal effects. Some claimed that the thing was a chemistry project gone bad, others said it was prank involving stink bombs and others claimed that it was an infamous digimon occupying the class. This last particular rumor brought droves of curious students and teachers to class 4-1 to try and find out if it was true. Muzaki could only roll her eyes at the idea of a digimon in her classroom. Whoever started that particular rumor had an overactive imagination or was deliberately poisoning the rumor mill with false information. It was starting to get on Muzaki's nerve and no matter how much she explained it, people kept on coming.

Iori walked past the classroom without a single look or even stopping. The situation simply did not interest him and the chance that a digimon was in the classroom was slim to nil. Most of all it didn't involve him and he did not care as long as no one was hurt. The crowd in the hallway impeded his movement greatly however and he frowned with annoyance as he squeezed his way through the crowd. He could faintly hear a teacher trying to talk over the babble incoherent conversation that was flying about. Bits and pieces like 'go home' or 'clear the hallway' or 'there is no digimon' or 'where is Motomiya Daisuke?'. Iori made a guess that Miyako's friend, Daisuke, had gotten into trouble and involved something not so nice. He could hear hushed voices in the crowd theorizing what was happening and how Daisuke was involved. Some of it was the most outrageous dribble he had ever heard and he did his best to ignore it. Iori eventually managed to get through the crowd without further problems and stopped at the front hall of the school to collect his street shoes.

"Good bye. Have a nice day Hida-san..." Matsudaira Yayoi said in her soft voice as she walked past Iori. Her face bore a sad smile and Iori found that he was looking at her strangely. No one had ever said good bye to him except for his mother, grandfather and, of course, the teachers. The sheer fact that someone said good bye to him politely at school, that was a fellow schoolmate of his, was unique to say none the least. Perhaps this was a sign of things to come...

"See you tomorrow Matsudaira-san," Iori said automatically. He put some effort into sounding a bit friendlier rather than just sounding polite. Yayoi smiled and bowed as she walked out the doors of the school, Iori looked into his locker and got out his shoes then the idea hit him.

Why not walk with her and find out what was wrong with her? After all, no one said anything to him unless there was a reason. Plus he had plenty of time before implementing his plan.

Iori quickly looked away from his locker and looked for Yayoi in the crowd but couldn't see the girl anywhere. Iori felt baffled, he only looked away for a few seconds and Yayoi had been walking very slowly but now he couldn't see her anywhere. He sighed and decided to count it as a lost opportunity but the question burned him to core. What was Matsudaira trying to do? He never talked to her before and he barely ever heard of her except from snippets of conversations he heard from Megumi, Ryota and strangely enough Kanma. So why start talking to him now? Could it be as Megumi hinted it might be? A crush?

Iori started chuckling at the ludicrous thought. Ryota right next to him by his own locker jumped in surprised. Ryota stopped to stare at Iori and Iori noticed.

"What?" Iori asked annoyed.

"... It's official Agares, the world must be ending or this is just a sign of worse things to come because you laughed," Ryota calmly explained in a sagely voice. Iori rolled his eyes and got his outdoor shoes on. His poker face set itself in with a nearly audible 'clink' as Iori forced all of his powers of concentration to the one task he had been looking forward to since this morning.

Operation Just Cause.

It took quite awhile to come up with that name...Okay that was a lie, he ripped it off from the American military but he wasn't picky.

***Computer lab***

"Homework... Homework.... Homework... Project... " Miyako said, first in a monotone voice and then screamed with frustration.

"ARGH!!!"

Her teachers had once again conspired to make her life miserable by assigning a huge pile of homework to her. She struggled under the weight of the books she carried and tried to walk to the computer room but found it almost impossible. She couldn't reach the doorknob and peered over her books to see if there was anyone around to help her open the doors. Daisuke and Hikari were in the hallway talking to each other, or rather Daisuke was talking and Hikari was nodding every now and then.

"Yo! Daisuke! Get your ass over here!" Miyako shouted at him, stopping his conversation with Hikari. He turned around and saw Miyako struggle under the weight of her books.

"What?!" Daisuke shouted back annoyed. They both walked to Miyako whose arms were full of books.

"Open the door!" Miyako ordered. Daisuke frowned in annoyance.

"When did I become your slave Miyako?" He asked annoyed.

"Just right now. So open it will you?" Miyako snapped. Daisuke crossed his arms and gave Miyako the evil eye, which Miyako obligingly returned as well.

"No," Daisuke answered.

Miyako was about say something but Hikari opened the door for Miyako instead as she was about unleash a verbal whipping on Daisuke.

"Here you go," Hikari said politely and smiled softly. Miyako blinked in surprise and stared at Hikari for a moment.

"Oh... thanks... But you really should have let Daisuke open the door... It forces him to learn manners," Miyako said as she walked into the room.

"What? I'm not rude am I?" Daisuke asked Hikari who simply blinked.

"Well you are loud and a 'bit' rude," Hikari pointed out.

"Figures! Everyone's against me," Daisuke said pouting. Miyako had placed her books on the table in the computer room and went up to Daisuke to pat him on the cheek.

"There, there Dai-chan. It's not just everyone against you," Miyako said in a patronizing voice.

"Really?" Daisuke asked.

"The entire universe is against you... Sorry but you just can't win," Miyako said in teasing voice. Daisuke just glared at Miyako but she turned her attention on Hikari.

"So you're the one Daisuke keeps on talking about," Miyako said in a faintly impressed voice. It was rather vague and Hikari wondered what Miyako meant by that.

"I'm Yagami Hikari," Hikari introduced herself.

"Inoue Miyako..." Miyako answered off-handily and turned to face Daisuke remembering something.

"Aren't you supposed to be in Muzaki-sensei's classroom? You need to clean off that 'surprise' you did for your chemistry project before she comes to look for you... Don't tell me you forgot?" Miyako asked. Daisuke's face paled for a moment.

"Oh shit! I forgot..." Daisuke said and then that's when all three of them heard a bellowing voice that carried surprisingly well throughout the school. Whoever had built the school obviously didn't expect sound to travel throughout the school so well.

"MOTOMIYA DAISUKE! WHERE ARE YOU!!! ARGH!!" A frustrated female voice caused Daisuke to try and hide behind Hikari.

"Ack! Save me Hikari-chan!" Daisuke begged. He heard the sounds of stomping feet come up the stairs and saw the dreaded Muzaki Isoko, the demon teacher of grade 4. She was actually an attractive woman but her red face and scowl dispelled any notion of beauty and replaced the feeling with that of cool fear and abject terror. Miyako and Daisuke cringed in fear while Hikari just raised an eyebrow, impressed by the sight of the teacher. She wasn't afraid like Daisuke and Miyako was and simply stood her ground. Though she had to admit the teacher were one of the scarier individuals she had met.

"Hello Muzaki-sensei," Hikari said pleasantly. She bowed politely and smiled to the teacher amused. Muzaki-sensei twitched a bit and glared at Daisuke who was hiding behind Hikari.

"Hello Yagami-kun... I need to talk to Daisuke for a moment," Muzaki said in a cool voice. Hikari could see a rather strange discoloured green spot on Muzaki's shoes and wondered what Daisuke had done exactly in the classroom. The door was locked and closed, but she managed to get her backpack from one of her friends. The rumor mill was going into overdrive since apparently only a select few people got to see what was in class 4-1 but it was so warped and modified no one knew what was true or not.

"Sorry! I'll clean it up! I swear!" Daisuke squeaked and tried to look innocent. Unfortunately Muzaki was a veteran teacher of ten years and she was immune to such looks that Daisuke was giving.

"Yes... You'll be cleaning up my classroom for the next month also if you don't get it cleaned in an hour! Now get down there and clean off that green gunk!" Muzaki said in a tightly controlled voice. Daisuke deflated and realized that his teacher had just given him an impossible task. Hikari saw the look on Daisuke's face and pitied him; she probably was going to end up regretting what she was going to say next.

"I'll help if you don't mind," Hikari said. At that Daisuke perked up and smiled. Not only could he avoid cleaning duties for an entire month but also now he got to spend more time with Hikari. The universe was not against him as Miyako said it was. Muzaki frowned and looked at Hikari.

"I'm not sure if you'd want to. It's a really disgusting mess down there," Muzaki said and then glared at Daisuke who shrank behind Hikari even more.

"I don't mind," Hikari said but inwardly she wondered what Daisuke did that got Muzaki so steamed. It was probably something unpleasant.

"All right then. The cleaning supplies are in room 212 and I want it cleaned in an hour, or else you two will be on cleaning duty for an entire month," Muzaki said relenting. Daisuke's eyes widened at the mention that if the clean up was not done in an hour that he and Hikari would have to do cleaning duty together. Imagine, an entire month with Hikari alone... cleaning up the classroom. The fantasy deflated and Daisuke felt a bit depressed. He hated cleaning duty and Muzaki-sensei knew it. He was torn between not having to do cleaning duty for a month or having it with Hikari for a month. Muzaki stormed down the hallway to the teacher's bathroom. It was then that all three of them saw a glob of some sort green goo on the teacher's back and winced as one. Hikari now really regretted volunteering to help clean the classroom with Daisuke but the poor guy had the face of a doomed prisoner on death row that she couldn't help but take pity on him.

"Okay... Come on Motomiya-kun," Hikari said and shook his arm lightly to get him out of his funk. Daisuke came to life and smiled. He held Hikari's hand and smiled like an idiot, nodding all the while.

"Sure let's go," Daisuke said holding onto Hikari's hand. Hikari blinked in surprised as Daisuke refused to let go.

"Uh... See you latter Inoue-san..." Hikari said as she was dragged away by Daisuke. Miyako just shook her head in disbelief and wondered when Daisuke was going to get over his silly little crush on Yagami. She entered the computer room and then stared at the stack of homework she had on the table. The pile seemed to get bigger as she stared at it and Miyako frowned. She went up to the window and looked out the window out the world. From her vantage point she saw Iori walking away from the school. She watched the diminutive child walk away until he turned the corner where she could no longer see him.

"Sorry I'm late," Koushiro said as he entered the computer room. Miyako turned around to see a short red haired boy walk into the computer room with his ever present pineapple laptop. He smiled apologetically to Miyako who in turn smiled predatorily back. Alarm bells rang in Koushiro's head but before he had any opportunity to raise his defenses, Miyako charged up to him and gave him a glomp.

"Izumi-chan!" Miyako said rather happily. Koushiro turned red and fidgeted nervously as Miyako held him. When she finally let go Koushiro looked ready to faint dead with embarrassment.

God she loved that look on Koushiro's face after she gave him customary glomp. She could never get tired of seeing him twitch nervously and smile like an idiot after she gave it to him. It was unbelievably cute; Miyako could only snicker as Koushiro coughed lightly. His brain, which had melted down during Miyako's glomp, was now reforming itself.

"Ah... Um... Eh..." Koushiro said as he tried to form words. His brain had not quite recovered yet and was still thunderstruck.

"Think of each word before saying it," Miyako said as she sat down in her chair with a flourish. She smiled benevolently back at Koushiro who seemed even more of a nervous wreck than usual because of her smile. Koushiro desperately needed to get himself more well-acquainted with the opposite sex, but until then Miyako was going to torment him.

"... Um... Do you have to do that to me every day?" Koushiro asked finally recovering.

"Why do you ask? You want me to do it more often?" Miyako asked sweetly.

******

Iori needed scout ahead for his plans to be made feasible, after all what's the point of going out to have revenge if you don't know where your victim is going to? He walked past Abaraki Park and beyond the familiar playground that he visited only yesterday but took no account of it. He would get home latter and see if he had the necessary tools for his plans of vengeance. School had not been good today and Kanma seemed bent on hurting Iori more than ever but Iori didn't fear any of his threats. After all Kanma wasn't stupid or brave enough to try something in school while a teacher was watching. Iori had no homework to work on and kendo lessons tonight would end at six p.m. More than enough time for Iori to prepare and rest before leaving his apartment. But where was subway number 20? Iori stopped at a photo kiosk and picked out a subway map. Running his eyes over it, he managed to see where the subway was. Iori looked around where he was to get him bearing and managed to see Kanma and bunch of his friends together just in time. Iori walked into a crowd of people waiting to cross the street to hide away from the group and observe them from afar. Iori could see Hirota in the group carrying five backpacks that obviously belonged to the bullies. They were making Hirota their pack mule and took turns kicking or pushing him for the hell of it. Hirota looked terrified and could only numbly nod when they looked his way and insult him. Iori felt disgusted and resisted the urge to simply walk over and get Hirota out of the situation but the problem was that he was alone against six other guys and Hirota would do nothing to help. Iori had no choice but to wait and pick them off one at a time at another time, starting with their ringleader Kanma of course. It was painful however to watch Hirota struggle under the weight of the backpacks that he was carrying and the abuse he was suffering but Iori hardened his heart and focused his mind on finding subway twenty. With great reluctance Iori turned away and began looking.

Eventually as Iori traveled around, he began to worry. There were cameras everywhere and Iori felt uncomfortable. He stopped counting at twelve and that didn't include the ones that he knew about from his father's old police friends. There was too many of them along the path that Kanma took to go to Subway 20, it boggled Iori's mind. Iori discarded Subway 20 as a possible ambush site and decided that another site was required.

Iori reconsidered his position. He decided that he would have ambush Kanma at the sports fields near Abaraki Park near the school as Hirota suggested. It always pays to be prepared because Iori had no intention of getting caught. He didn't want to imagine what it would be like if he was caught, what would other people say? They would only shake their heads and mutter half-heartedly how unfortunate it was that he was caught.

They would say 'did you hear about the Hida's son attacking another boy?' or 'I knew that boy was troubled. It's always the quiet ones that are the most dangerous'. Or some such pathetic drivel that sounded all so saddened and pitying. Truth was they probably delighted, in some foreign way, his faults, words and actions. There is always something wrong with that 'young boy' as they condescendingly stated. They were always watching him and judging him.

Damn what they all say, let them misjudge his actions. Justice is unalterable. Kanma is guilty for all his crimes.

"No man is ever innocent when his opponent is the judge," a soft voice from behind Iori intoned with a solemnity that he could never match. It surprised him utterly, he knew who it was but he didn't expect her to be right behind him.

"What are you talking about Matsudaira-san?" Iori asked calmly as he turned around to face Yayoi. He was honestly a bit startled; it just seemed a moment ago that she read his mind.

"...." It was indeed Yayoi but she said nothing now. Her purple eyes were cloudy and Iori could not read them in any sort of way. He could only sense a feeling of weariness and it was then that he realized she knew. He didn't how or why but somehow she knew what he was up to. There was no way or reason Hirota told Yayoi, this much Iori knew because Hirota never bothered talking to anyone in class, not even to the teacher unless forced to. Second reason was because he had been observing Yayoi for the entire day and she never came near Hirota. People ignored her completely, the only people in class that paid any sort of attention to her was Ryota, Kanma, Megumi and himself. That was all, no one else seemed to acknowledge her existence. Even the people, who walked around in the street barely paid any sort of attention to her, they walked around her absorbed in their own thoughts and actions. Therefore the only way that she could have known was that she was inside the building at the same time as he and Hirota had exchanged information. She had been spying on him but how she had spied on him was a mystery. There was no one in the hallways when he walked in them nor was there anyone in the classroom to overhear his conversation with Hirota.

Iori was now suspicious and observed Yayoi again. She was wearing the same clothing as she had been since the morning but he noticed her backpack was nowhere to be seen. Yayoi began walking and Iori followed trying to figure out how she had found out about his plans.

"Where's your backpack?" Iori asked inanely. He followed after Yayoi with her back in front of him, she didn't answer immediately and they both simply walked. Yayoi was in the lead and Iori was following closely behind. He quickly realized they were both walking towards Abaraki Park but said nothing. It was only when they were approaching the sports field of Abaraki Park that the silence was broken.

"Where it needs to be..." Yayoi answered quietly. Iori frowned and managed to match Yayoi's gait and walked beside her.

"That doesn't really answer much," Iori noted. Yayoi smiled a bit and Iori scrutinized Yayoi's face and found nothing that could clue him in as to what she was thinking about. It was impossible, it was like looking at a painting of Mona Lisa, and you have absolutely no idea what the lady was thinking or smiling about.

It was Murphy's law in action. Smile, it makes people wonder what you're thinking.

"We're kids who don't act their age... I always did want to meet you earlier Hida-san but I never had the chance until today," Yayoi said. Iori was nonplussed and remained quiet, he was trying to figure out a way to question her without letting her know what he was trying to find out. Yayoi continued to speak without showing any concern with Iori's silence.

"You remind so much like another angry boy. I sometimes think that perhaps you and him could be good friends."

Iori gave a start and then let out a weary sigh. Somehow Yayoi did not anger him with her words, she didn't pity him. Rather she saw what he was going to do and stating what she thought. It was a big difference from what he was used to hearing from people. What he usually heard was an order or judgement, 'you shouldn't hurt him' or 'you should be nice' or 'what a strange boy'. People always told him what to do, what not to do or how to do something. A welcome change from the usual.

"Who are you talking about?" Iori asked.

"About Kanma and you," Yayoi said as if the friendship between enemies was something natural and pleasant. Iori gagged and tried to imagine how Kanma could be remotely similar to him. He drew up a blank because he was not a bully. He was not an idiot. He was not cruel. He was in no way anything like Kanma. There was no similarity and Iori felt mildly insulted by Yayoi's rather baseless assumption that there was something similar between him and Kanma.

"What?" Iori just barely managed to ask. Yayoi stopped walking and Iori noticed they had both walked to Abaraki Park far faster than he had expected. They were on the playing field side of the place and the sun was high in the sky. The grassy expanse of the field was unoccupied and the tall grass was up to his waist, it was in need of cutting, swayed in the gentle wind. Today was a warm day and yet the fields were strangely empty. There were no children playing on this fine day and it was unusually quiet now. They both stood on the sidelines of the field where they stood before a steep grassy incline downward that marked the borders of the field all around. It was a depression in the earth with each sides a small hill where people sat on the grass and watched games. There were no benches but there was an abundance of trees on the hills to give cool shade. The two other fields that were in currently being used by a variety of individuals. They had proper benches and drinking fountains, but this particular field which Yayoi and Iori overlooked had no such amenities. It was obvious that it was not as well kept as the other two.

"Kanma and you," Yayoi repeated and became silent. Iori raked his brain for something to say and decided that dancing around it was useless. Yayoi knew about what he was going to do Kanma. What was the point of avoiding the subject if she all ready knew?

"Are you going to stop me or aren't you?" Iori asked abruptly. He had to know now what Yayoi thought and what she was going to do.

"No, there's nothing I can do to stop you from doing anything. If I told Kanma about your plans now, he would attack you and you would hate Kanma more. Nothing changes and not only that you wouldn't like it but if I talk to you and convince you not to continue with your plan... Well you are somewhat more sensible then he is," Yayoi explained with a tired shrug. She let her eyes sweep across the grassy expanse of the field. Iori felt a bit uncomfortable as a strong warm wind hit him from his side and all around him the grass swayed. The sounds of rustling leaves were distant as the trees shook in the wind and then he noticed he was standing in the middle of the playing field. He blinked and wondered what had happened. He could have sworn he was standing on the sidelines between two very large trees. He look around and saw that the field was quite lonely, it was easy to miss because it sank into the earth and the hills around it hide it more. The trees only added to its camouflage and it occurred to Iori that he had found the perfect place to ambush Kanma. It was obviously neglected given the height of the grass and condition of the two goal posts at each end. The trees would block sound and keep it contained in the field, this meant less of a chance of someone taking notice of what was happening. Yayoi was staring up into the sky and the sun glared down blinding Iori almost. He managed to get his hand up to his forehead and shade his eyes.

"So this is where you'll murder him?" Yayoi asked quietly. Iori's brain hit the wall and he was personally insulted now. He had no intention of killing Kanma that would go against everything he felt. The very idea made him very nauseous. Part him resented that Yayoi had asked such a question. Of course he was not going to kill Kanma, he was not a murderer. And what he was going to do was not an execution, it was a punishment.

"No!" Iori answered with a firm voice. It held hurt and disbelief at Yayoi's question. He was also angry and he was wrong again. Here was another person who would judge him. He had hoped desperately that Yayoi would be different.

"So you saying Kanma is a bully and idiot is not mean? Punishment is not for revenge, but to lessen crime and reform the criminal," Yayoi said. Her purple eyes now shifted away from the sky to Iori who fidgeted nervously. He was mentally asking himself how Yayoi possibly know what he was thinking. Was she telepathic or something? No, impossible. He was not living in an anime where people can read other people's mind or three girls disappear from the Tokyo Tower due to ley line activities or similar. There is no way Yayoi read his mind or teleport him into the middle of the field. She simply knew how Iori regarded Kanma and they had somehow walked into the field without noticing. That was it. Yet what if she could? In this world there was supposedly another world filled with fantastical monsters and adventures beyond his imagination. He saw them with his own eyes when he was small. What was there to say that Yayoi could not read his thoughts or teleport? He had seen monsters before!

"I'm not doing this because I want revenge. Someone has got to stop Kanma! How can you defend him like this? He hurt you! I know, I saw in class! He... He..." Iori ranted loudly. He felt very uncomfortable; there was something he should know about Yayoi. Something very important but he could not recall what it was.

"One who is injured ought not to return the injury, for on no account can it be right to do an injustice; and it is not right to return an injury, or to do evil to any man, however much we have suffered from him,"Yayoi stated finally. She looked away from Iori and stared into the blue sky again. Another wind blew and Iori looked at Yayoi as the wind blew her hair. She looked at Iori and raised a green tree leaf up into the air. It had been in her hand for awhile but Iori had never noticed until now. The wind was still blowing and took the leaf up into the air. Iori's eyes followed the path of the leaf; it fluttered and darted with the wind's playing. Up into the blue sky until it flew into the trees on the sidelines of the playing field. The wind stopped blowing and the sky was still. In the distance ominous black clouds were on the horizon and promised rain tonight. When Iori saw the black rain clouds, he looked around in the field to say something to Yayoi but much to his disbelief, she was nowhere to be seen. She was standing only a few feet away from him but now she had disappeared. There was not even a patch of trampled grass to mark the spot where she had been standing.

"Matsudaira-san?" Iori asked to no one and it hung in the air. He felt a dark premonition and shuddered. The wind picked up again and it was cold.

***(Gameworld)***

Kanma was in a bad mood. He didn't know why but he was most definitely in a bad mood for some reason. There was no reason for him to be angry but as he pounded his opponent to death in Tekken 4, the more and more he felt as if he was forgetting something. Something important and it was annoying the hell out of him, yet he could not think or remember the reason. But he did know the three reasons why he should be in a better mood today but was not mysteriously enough.

1. He once again 'convinced' Hirota to lend him some money. In fact Hirota was right next to him playing the opposing fighter and Hirota was paying of course. That should make him happy. It did not really.

2. He once again upstaged Hida 'the demon' Iori in class. How Iori got the nickname 'the demon' was beyond him. Ryota was to blame but Kanma failed to see what made people so afraid of the short, and ugly in his opinion, boy.

3. His father was not coming home tonight. A definite plus, in fact a godsend. Never in Kanma's wildest dreams did he ever imagine his father not coming home for one night. No more shouting about how he should more polite or how he should get higher scores and get into an elite school or being compared to 'that Hida boy'. He didn't have to endure being shouted at while his mother, the worthless and spineless bitch she was, watch without even coming to his defense or trying to argue against his father.

Hwoarang did a lefty grand theft & plasma blade combo on Jin, which sent him flying into a wall. The opponent's life meter was all ready low and so the final attack proved to be the end.

"K.O.!"

Big red words that spelled 'K.O.' appeared on the screen and Kanma did not feel happy. Hirota just wasn't trying to win any more; Kanma never could figure that out either. When was the last time Hirota won at this game against him? Hirota was the game freak out of everyone in the entire class, so why wasn't he kicking his ass all over the screen? Kanma knew Hirota owned Tekken 4 and played it often.

"Hirota are letting me win again?" Kanma asked annoyed. Hirota cringed and tried to disappear by burying his head in his shirt but it didn't work. Kanma got angry and cuffed Hirota. Pain always reminds friends to pay attention, something that Kanma quickly learned over last few years. It especially kept those you value most from ever leaving you, like Yayoi. She wouldn't dare leave him or abandon him; pain was just a remainder that he hadn't forgotten her.

The thought of Yayoi made him pause a moment in his mind. There was something important about Yayoi he should remember about. Kanma quickly however dropped the subject in his mind when he saw Hirota's face turn red with the corner of his eyes' lined with tears.

"I asked you a question!" Kanma roared and slammed his fist onto the control panel while his other hand grasped Hirota around the neckline of the shirt.

"I... have to go home now!" Hirota squeaked. It was true, it was all ready 6 p.m. and Hirota should have been home thirty minutes ago. The others had gone home but Kanma insisted that Hirota stick around for a few rounds at Gameworld and 'convinced' him after awhile. Kanma reluctantly let Hirota go and turned his back on Hirota.

"Fine then but leave a few hundred yen for me will ya? I have to get something to eat at McDonald's," Kanma muttered as he concentrated his attention on the game screen that was starting a new round.

Hirota sighed and quietly glared at Kanma while he searched for some money. It was fortunate that Iori had paid Hirota so much money today for information, otherwise Hirota would have been broke by now and forced to walk home instead of taking the subway. Whatever Hida had planned for Kanma, it made Hirota's heart soar and bring a smile to his face. But somewhere he felt saddened that it had come to this, that he would betray Kanma. Once, a long time ago it seemed, he and Kanma were friends to a certain degree. They were neighbours since they were born and often played together but then the economic recession in Japan last year started to really pinch everyone and people started losing their jobs. Hirota didn't know what a 'recession' was but his father was sad so often when he came home, he tried and tried to be a good son but sometimes his father just snapped. Luckily his mother was always there to calm his father down. Kanma didn't have that sort of luck it seemed, sometimes at night Hirota could hear shouting from next door and a door opening then the pattering of feet. Hirota knew that it was Kanma running out the door but he never ever came to Hirota's place. Kanma always ran to the Matsudaira's and sometimes stayed over at their place, so in the morning Hirota would come to Yayoi's place to give Kanma some of his spare clothes to wear. Kanma had bruises on him and as this year went on, Kanma just stopped running to Yayoi's place. After he stopped going to the Matsudaira's, Kanma seemed to act worse and worse to everyone. Hirota began to despise Kanma after awhile, he didn't want anything to do with him any more. But when he stopped running to Yayoi's, Kanma just went overboard with everything and Hirota didn't just despise Kanma anymore, he hated him from the bottom of his heart. It was after that 'event' but as Hirota tried to dredge up what that event was, the fuzzier it got. It involved Yayoi somehow but Hirota just couldn't remember. He stood still awhile trying to recall what had happened a year ago but was failing spectacularly. It made his heart ache though and something just touched his soul, something that told him that what had happened was a tragedy that he shouldn't have forgotten.

"Hey! Are you going to stand there or hand over some money all ready?" Kanma snarled as he desperately tried to defeat Kuma in Tekken 4. He was losing to the bear and that was not something that made him happy.

"Okay, okay. Here, there's enough for you;" Hirota answered as he quickly gave Kanma eight hundred yen. He gave Kanma a little more than he intended, he tried to take back a hundred yen coin but Kanma had all ready taken the money away.

"Great, now get lost," Kanma said and then swore when the bear did a suplex on Hwoarang and knocked him out.

"K.O.!"

"SHIT!"

Hirota decided that getting away from Kanma right now was imperative. He ducked into a crowd and headed towards the nearest subway station to get home. He bought a ticket and got into one of the subway cars. When he entered the train he sat down in a seat and waited for the subway to arrive at his stop. The car was not as crowded as he thought it would be and in a few minutes he arrived at his stop. From there he began walking to his apartment, around him the buildings and streets got shabbier and sorrier looking with every block. Finally he arrived at a dilapidated tenement, a relic of the seventies that still stood. There was a notable lack of any sort of natural beauty, there was no trees, grass or flowers and it made the surroundings seem harsher. Man-made and sterile, it was hard to imagine that people lived here in Hirota's mind. He greatly preferred his grandparents farm out in the countryside when compared to his home in Tokyo. Perhaps one day he'd go out and be a farmer but those musing were for another time and another place. He went up and walked past the Daiyama's quiet apartment door and to his own place. There he stood at the door, chipped and marred, that was the opening to his home. Hirota paused and the looked to his right, for right next door was where the Matsudaira's live. There was just something that bugged him about the whole business with Yayoi and such. He went up to the Matsudaira's door and stood there, part of him was indecisive. Even if he did knock on the door and they answered what the hell was he going to say? Hi can I talk to Yayoi? Why do I want to talk to her? Because someone's going to get hurt soon and I want her to know. Hirota twiddled his fingers and then decided he would come by latter to talk to Yayoi. Chances were she was eating dinner and he was hungry as well, so latter he would come by. Much latter, perhaps he'll never come and knock on her door.

Thus Hirota pulled reluctantly away from his neighbour's door and back to his apartment. He never realized or remembered that no one lived next door any more, he had forgotten. The Matsudaira family never returned to their apartment.

***(Nobuto Community Dojo)***

Hida Chikara watched his young grandson, Iori with grave concern. At first he wasn't sure if it was anything major but now as he watched Iori spar with another student, it became obvious that something was bothering him immensely. Iori was losing against his opponent, not because his opponent was more skilled adversary but through careless and thoughtless tactics and moves. Not that anyone aside from him and his two top level students could tell the difference. It genuinely seemed like Iori was doing very well against an older and more experienced student but in truth Iori should have been beating the other to the ground without any effort.

"Sensei? Is something wrong with Hida-kun? Is he sick or something? I mean, he should have defeated Fukuda by now," Ikari Takato asked quietly to his teacher in the sidelines. He was a tall and rather handsome boy of eighteen, which did wonders for female recruitment though Chikara, frowned at the thought that most of them were here for Ikari rather than for kendo. Ikari looked on the match with concern and frowned when Iori failed to follow through with an attack aggressively enough.

"He's being distracted something," Chikara answered and winced when Iori attacked and tried to hit his opponent with a poorly planned blow to the wrist area called the kote. Fukuda managed to sidestep the attack and counter attack by landing a blow to the head called the men. The referee awarded the second and final point to Fukuda then ordered both fighters to bow and leave the ring. Both fighters withdrew and signalled the end of today's class for intermediates. The clock showed that it was 6:10 p.m. exactly and the final cooling down exercises were performed, the sweaty tired students winded down. Another practice had ended and everyone began to pack up and leave for home.

"I'll talk to him, you just get things ready for the advanced classes," Chikara told Ikari. With a nod the teenage boy turned around and get equipment ready.

"Very well sensei," Ikari answered.

"Iori," Chikara called out to his grandson. The boy turned to face his grandfather and paused before walking over to him. Chikara couldn't tell what his grandson was thinking; Iori's face was impassive and gave no clues to what he was thinking. But the deep green eyes told another story; there was a spark of fear and anxiety that was out of place.

"Yes Grandfather?" Iori answered desperately trying to keep out the edginess in his voice and keep it level. He was surprised how successful he was in doing so but his mind raced with other things. Yayoi, Kanma, the abandoned field and his plans for revenge among other things. Yayoi threw everything into doubt because people simply do not disappear into thin air nor do seven year olds act in such an adult like manner. Then again what was he talking about? Did he act his age at all? When was the last time he acted like a child? Even Yayoi pointed out that he didn't act his age. Well right now, he wished desperately that he really were just another seven-year-old child. That way he could act dumb to his grandfather and get away with it. Being serious and responsible had its drawbacks. It made people expect an honest answer or at least a bare minimal explanation.

"You were off today. You should have been able to counter most of the attacks Fukuda threw at you," Chikara explained as he walked towards his grandson. Chikara was a fairly short old man but he was constantly surprised how small his grandson was when he stood over him. Iori was a runt physically when compared to some of his classmates; it was no surprise that he was picked on at times but Iori always managed on his own. It was all ready hard knowing that your family isn't financially secure either. Chikara had sunk his entire retirement money into his grandson's education and well being when Hiroki died. Now he had to teach kendo classes to make more money when he should be winding down and retired but he wasn't bitter. It was just how life went, though he secretly wished that his own father had managed to find some way to retain the family lands after the war from being seized by the Americans in their land distribution reforms, then the Hida family wouldn't be in such bad financial straits. It was hard accepting that your family was once wealthy but its wealth was seized and that your only son is dead, leaving behind a wife and child.

"I know but I was kind of distracted by something," Iori answered honestly. A little omission didn't hurt anyone in his opinion; there was no need to burden his grandfather or mother with any more trouble. A part of him just wanted to admit it to his grandfather that he considered doing something terrible that would make him regret in the future. Then there was that part of him that raged and ranted against the world and its unfairness, that silence was a harmless and easy price to pay.

"Oh? Do you want to talk about it?" Chikara asked in a warm voice. He watched his grandson's reaction carefully and silently asked when it became so difficult to read how Iori felt. His grandson always acted as if everyone was watching him and that he had to be on his best behaviour all the time. It was rather disconcerting knowing that your grandson didn't act anything like a child. Chikara always encouraged him to seek out friends and enjoy his childhood but it was always for naught.

"Well... Um... It's about this girl in my class; she kind of started talking to me and..." Iori began to babble but silenced himself. He wanted to talk about this to his grandfather but he was not quite sure how to explain the situation. He also knew that how he started his explanation to his grandfather was not the best way to go. It opened the door to a lot of unintended things.

"A girl?" Chikara asked with his eyebrow raised confused. He tried not to draw conclusions with Iori's babbling but he had admitted it was hard not to do.

"Err.. That's not what I intended to sound like," Iori slowly explained as he tried to find a way to get himself out of the hole he dug himself into.

"Oh?"

"Um... What do you do when you know someone is going to do something bad but they won't listen?" Iori asked. He also silently added another bit to his sentence in his head.

'But you may have never really existed at all?'

He spent thirty minutes in the field looking for Yayoi. He was late for his kendo lessons but that hardly mattered. He could not find her any where and that just simply freaked him out. He retraced his steps up and down the field and hills but discovered only one track through the grass. The beaten down grass only showed one person coming to the hill, his own. There was no trail beside it that suggested that another was with him either. It was as if she never existed at all, he even went back to the city area and checked out the electronics' store's people cam that was watching the street. He knew that he and Yayoi had walked passed it earlier and such. He knew the camera was there because it was one of many that he discovered on his route to Subway 20. He managed convince the staff to rewind it back to 3:45 roughly and watched the tape. What he discovered shocked him, he saw himself walking very quickly across the front of the store but there was no one besides him at all. The TV screen clearly showed that he had walked past the store by himself without stopping and that was it. Yayoi was not on the recording at all; it wasn't possible because Iori was one hundred percent sure that Yayoi had walked past this store with him.

"Oh? Is she going to do something that she's going to regret then?" Chikara asked paying his full attention to Iori.

"I don't know... I mean, the guy deserves it. He hurts everyone and I don't know how she can take it any more," Iori explained. He felt like laughing for a moment, he was lying and telling the truth at the same time. Iori wondered if his grandfather suspected that he was actually talking about himself and what he was going to do.

"That's not an excuse to hurt him, you should tell her that," Chikara answered firmly.

"Then what should I tell her then? I mean, he's not going to change unless someone does something," Iori asked earnestly. His grandfather had never gave him advice that was bad.

"Has she told the teacher?" Chikara asked. Iori nodded, the teacher all ready knew the situation with Kanma but it didn't really matter. Suspension and detention only served to make Kanma even more petty and violent afterwards. Nothing short of expulsion could rectify the situation but it would look bad for the school if it were forced to expel one of its students.

"I see what have you done so far to try and stop her?"

"I... talked to her about it."

"And?"

"...."

"You think that he deserves to be hurt don't you?"

"..." Iori shifted uncomfortably under his grandfather's even gaze. He desperately wished for something to interrupt the conversation and luckily for Iori something did interrupt.

"AHH!!!" Ikari screamed as a brown haired girl who had just entered in the dojo literally threw herself at Ikari. She was a blur of white as she landed right on Ikari.

CRASH!

The ground literally shook from the impact and the sounds of horrified gurgling and girlish giggling intermixed with each other.

"Taka-chan! I missed you!" The brown haired girl said gleefully as she hugged Ikari hard. Her slate grey eyes shined with a mischievous glint as Ikari could only shudder in horror. He tried desperately to pry her off but it was all for naught and he could only squirm under her strong grasp. It was rather silly to see since the girl looked like she had a delicate build and Ikari was a head taller and better built as well, thus logic dictates that Ikari should have been able to break free. Looks were however deceiving to the extreme since the girl was a master of Aikido and was a lot stronger than she appeared to be. Iori wondered if Megumi was possibly a distant relative to Gasara Kano in some way or form because he swore he could see a physical resemblance that was positively uncanny.

"AHH!!! Kano let go!" Ikari shouted and blushed heavily when his body reacted to the close proximity of the girl. Kano noticed something poking her and blushed. She immediately jumped off of Ikari and landed a few feet away. A remarkable feat since it happened so quickly and she was originally on top of Ikari. Ikari immediately covered up his lower body and hoped that his hakama's could hide his 'reaction'.

"Gasara-san, how many times do I have to tell you not to do that to Ikari-kun?" Chikara asked wearily. There were times when Gasara's antics entertained him greatly but right now he didn't want to bother with it.

"Sorry," Gasara said and flashed a smile.

"Um, Hida-sensei, class is to begin now. All the students are here," Ikari said as he picked himself off of the floor. He eyed Gasara warily and moved himself to the other side of the class to avoid being tackled again. Chikara looked up and saw that all twenty advanced class students had arrived and were all dressed for their warm up activities.

"All right then. Ikari-san you get them ready... Iori I want to talk to you..." Chikara began but Iori cut him off.

"We'll talk latter grandfather; I should go home and eat something. Besides class is going to start soon," Iori said calmly.

"Are you sure?" Chikara asked. He was hesitant in letting Iori go he needed to know more about what Iori was talking about. Iori simply nodded and picked up his things. Chikara sighed and was mildly disappointed; he had a feeling that Iori would not talk about this again.

'It wasn't as if that conversation was going any where,' Iori thought bitterly. He left the dojo as the students began their stretches. Iori took his gear and headed to the lockers to get changed. Nothing had been resolved and he had almost given his plan away to his grandfather. The temptation to do so was so sweet that Iori was about to bite off his tongue, so he forced himself to remember every single injustice that Kanma had committed to everyone he knew.

Kanma was the one who had stolen Mizuno Kaho's school supplies. Kanma was the one who had beaten up Hogashi Fuedo for no reason. Kanma was the one who forced him to resort to this. It was Kanma's fault, and Iori would be the one to end this.

The rain was pouring hard and Iori hurried home ignoring the rain. He had much to do. The net had to be set, a garbage bag had to be found and a flashlight needed to be given batteries. His bokken needed only to be hidden and an old pair of shoes would have to be found. Everything was planned, and everything would be soon over. Kanma was in for the lesson of his life.

The strong maybe strong but they do well to remember that the weak have a strength of their own.

******

Rain was God's way of laughing at Miyako; she just knew it in her heart. It just had to rain today, of all days. Didn't the stupid weatherman claim that it was going to be clear night with warm temperatures and light winds? Clear night with warm temperatures and light winds her ass. It was a storm, hard rain with strong winds that were freezing cold.

Miyako stood inside the entrance of her school and looked across the field and cursed her luck. She had seven books that could not fit in her all ready full backpack and she had nothing else to try and cover them. It was times like these that Miyako wished she wasn't so easily absorbed in anime... But Kero-chan was so cute! Oh, why did CLAMP have to exasperate her addiction to cuteness?

Miyako sighed and made a quiet vow not to go and look up anime websites when she was finally done her after-school computer monitoring and checkups. Next time she would simply walk straight back home and then check out the websites.

"Ahh... it's raining still?" A familiar voice whined, dejected at the prospect of walking home in the rain. Miyako knew it was Daisuke and he was in full sulk mode. It must have been because his little experiment proven to be exceptionally hard to clean up and thus took hours to scrub away. Not only that he would have to clean the classroom up for an entire month. Miyako turned around and waited for the two to come into sight from where she was standing. They were going to help her carry her books home or else.

"I think it's gotten worse actually," Hikari commented as she came into Miyako's view. Daisuke was in tow and was, as expected, sulking to the extreme.

"Great... Not only do I have to clean the classroom up by myself, I have to walk home in the rain as well," Daisuke groused and hung his head in defeat. Muzaki-sensei absolutely refused to foist cleaning duties on Hikari since she wasn't the one who made the mess in her classroom in the first place, thus since it wasn't cleaned up in the expected time, Daisuke would be put on cleaning duty for the class for the next month. His hope of being with Hikari for an entire month cleaning together were dashed completely, if he had known that Muzaki was just going to put him on cleaning detail for the next month by himself, he would have worked more feverishly. Now he would the only thing he could truly indulge in was to walk Hikari home and through the rain no less. Suddenly a fantasy of him and Hikari in the rain together came to his head. They had no umbrella and the cold wind would make Hikari seek the warm confines of his strong arms. Daisuke would hold her and then... and then.

"I know what you mean... Oh, Inoue-san," Hikari said surprised. The bespectacled lavender haired girl was standing in the entrance hall with an overly stuffed backpack and several books in her arms. Daisuke looked up and made a sour face at Miyako. The fantasy was completely utterly wrecked by Miyako's appearance.

"Oh great, she's here..." Daisuke muttered depressed. Miyako face colored and she snapped at Daisuke's muttering which she heard all too well.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Miyako said as she stomped over Daisuke and grabbed by the collar of his shirt. A scared rabbit look entered Daisuke's face and he squirmed under Miyako's angry gaze.

"Daisuke-kun, that wasn't very polite," Hikari said and wondered what to do next since Miyako didn't look all too willing to let Daisuke go from her grip.

"Sorry, I'm sorry..." Daisuke babbled a bit and smiled rather sheepishly.

"Oh, I know a way for you to earn my forgiveness Daisuke...." Miyako began and smiled, her previous anger seemed to be forgotten. Daisuke, however, knew what Miyako wanted him to do, and he was not interested in carrying her books for her. If he were made to carry Miyako's books, he would have to walk to her apartment and then walk Hikari home and then go home as quickly as possible. Sorry, he only wanted to do two out of the three tasks. It was just too cold out to do all three things and besides he was sure that Hikari wanted to go home as quickly as possible.

"I maybe a gentleman, but I'm not doing it," Daisuke said flatly.

"Why do you mean by that! I'm a lady!" Miyako said angrily as she shook Daisuke around, her grip on his collar was impressive.

"You are so not a lady!" Daisuke answered back and regretted it immediately. The Inoue Demon Head (tm) finally came into play. Rage burned in the Miyako's eyes and as Daisuke shrank to small size and she loomed over him. Daisuke swore he could feel the fires of hell burning beside him.

"It's all right Daisuke; I can walk home by myself just fine. Why don't you help Miyako," Hikari said as she finished tying her outdoor shoes on. She headed towards to the exit and left Daisuke with Miyako.

"I'll see you tomorrow at school, Daisuke-kun," Hikari called out as she ran out of the school with full intent on running home as quickly as possible.

"No, wait Hikari-chan!" Daisuke called out. His voice sounded so pitifully doomed to his fate that Miyako could only laugh. Miyako let Daisuke go at last from her grip.

"It is not funny! Now look what you did!" Daisuke said and glared at Miyako.

"Sorry lover-boy but it's just too much. I guess now wouldn't be the time to mention the fact that her older brother would kill you if he learned about your little crush," Miyako blithely said. She had learned quite a few interesting things from Koushiro today, which was quite strange. Miyako had mentioned Hikari's name and Daisuke's crush at some point in the conversation that they were having as they installed new anti-virus programs. Koushiro's reaction was surprising, when Miyako mentioned it Koushiro eyes widened and he coughed lightly.

"Your friend Daisuke is a dead boy," Koushiro began. He then went into detail of Hikari's older brother Taichi's over protectiveness, they Yagami family's over protectiveness, various individuals over protectiveness whose names were not revealed towards Hikari. There something that Koushiro was simply not telling Miyako but she didn't really pay much attention to that. She still had a hard time trying to reconcile the idea of so many people taking such a vested interest in Yagami Hikari's security. It was rather mind-boggling. What was so special about the girl? Miyako failed to see what was so special and she felt a bit irked by it.

"You mean Taichi? He's cool about it... I think..." Daisuke said as he tried to assemble the pieces that Miyako had said and understand the conversation.

"You think?" Miyako asked with a raised eyebrow that suggested amazement at the rather erroneous assumption.

"Of course! He's my hero! He's good at soccer, people look up to him, the girls like him, ..." Daisuke babbled off in a faraway voice as he listed even more things that he admired. It then occurred to Miyako at that moment that Daisuke's crush might be nothing more than some misguided attempt impress Yagami Taichi, though she didn't know who he was exactly, she got a feeling that Taichi would not be impressed by Daisuke's attempts judging by Koushiro's description.

"In other words Daisuke... He's everything you want to be," Miyako deadpanned.

"Hey! I'm good at soccer and... and... Well okay, people don't look up to me and the girls might not like me that much," Daisuke muttered mildly embarrassed. Miyako sighed, she didn't bother trying to tell Daisuke that he was going about the hero worship thing entirely in the wrong way. Unfortunately, given how stubborn and optimistic Daisuke was, she doubted that telling him would do anything.

Daisuke was the type who will insist on running at full speed in the school's hallway until he crashed into something and then he wises up. This, however, doesn't exactly stop Daisuke from running at full speed elsewhere, it just means he won't run in school hallways any more because he knows better but he'll just run at full speed in other places until something happened. Hopefully Daisuke won't hurt himself too badly but it was just too much to hope for at times.

"Here Daisuke," Miyako said as she passed Daisuke the books to put in his backpack.

"Do I have to?"

Daisuke looked utterly unimpressed and looked at the offending books that Miyako had given him with mild distaste.

"Yes you do!" Miyako insisted loudly.

"Why!?"

"Because then I won't give you any more chocolate bars."

"You never give me chocolate bars..."

"What are you talking about? I gave that Crunchie bar for free last week!"

With that Miyako grabbed Daisuke's ear and pulled hard. The pain from his ear was too much and Daisuke winced.

"OW!!! Stop pulling on my ear! I remember! I remember!"

"Good..." Miyako muttered as she let go of Daisuke's ear. Without further complaint Daisuke put the books into his mostly empty backpack. And then they left the school and into the rain.