Chapter Two:

Iro trudges through the garage door, rubbing at her eyes. Ashley follows her into the house and shuts the door behind them. The brunette sets her keys down on the kitchen counter, along with her purse, and then eyes the blonde. "So...you're sick?"

"I have a headache." Iro presses her lips into a tight line, amused jade orbs flickering back towards her best friend.

Ashley rolls her eyes. "You're lucky I love you. Otherwise I wouldn't have wasted the gas. That shit's expensive nowadays, you know."

Iro disappears into the den, rolling her eyes.

The blonde pauses however, when she spies the abandoned butterfly net on the couch beside Ashley's humming laptop. "Hey Ash?"

"Yeah?" Comes her disembodied voice from the kitchen.

"What's with the net?"

Ashley enters the room, holding two cans of diet coke. She holds an unopened one out towards Iro and the blonde takes it, quirking a brow at the brunette. "I heard several mice this morning," She explains, shrugging slightly, "And I was trying to catch them. I guess I'll have to text Aoife and ask her to pick up some traps on her way home."

"Why not Ally?" Iro moves the net to the coffee table and plops down on the couch, scowling at the gore flashing across the television screen.

"She's going home with her boyfriend, remember?" Ashley snags the remote before Iro can and shoots her a smirk.

"Oh yeah." Iro glares at her. "You should change it."

"Why?"

"Because you love me."

Ashley rolls her eyes. "I wasted gas for you and brought you a coke. You have gotten your daily amount of love, chick."

Iro scowls and settles down into the couch cushions, sulking, "So cruel to me."

"Hm, if you text Aoife for me, I'll change it."

"Done." Iro smirks and takes out her phone. After explaining the situation to the brunette and receiving a positive answer, the blonde sets her phone aside and stretches her legs out, wiggling her toes through her socks.

Ashley finds America's Next Top Model and clicks it on. After setting the remote aside, the brunette drags her laptop back on to her lap and resumes her story. Iro yawns and peers over, watching her type for a few moments before grumbling something and curling up against Ashley, eyes fluttering shut.


"I'm going to set out another piece of cheese." Ashley announces, standing up and stretching her arms out. Iro yawns and climbs off the couch, fumbling towards the stairs. "Okay, you do that."

"Where are you going?" The brunette quirks a brow.

"To watch some D. Gray-Man." Iro flashes her a grin and disappears up the stairs.

Ashley rolls her eyes. D. Gray-Man was an awesome anime. All of the girls were obsessed with it; however their obsession with the Akatsuki from Naruto was far greater. And as much as Ashley liked watching Allen Walker destroy akumas, she absolutely adored watching Itachi troll his little brother.

The brunette rummages around the fridge and pulls out another piece of cheese. As she closes the door to the fridge, a flash of black and red zooms by. A strangled shriek burst past her lips. She scrambles back and almost falls back on to her butt. Iro rushes into the room, "Ashley?!"

"I saw it!" The brunette shrills, pointing towards the counter beside the fridge, "I saw the mouse. I swear I did."

"Really?" Iro's eyes widen and she looks around, carefully moving towards the fridge, "What'd it look like?"

"It...it was black and red." Ashley's face twists with confusion.

Iro blinks and then looks back at her, slender brow quirked. The blonde lets out a little sigh and straightens, turning back to her best friend, "Okay." She tries not to roll her eyes or laugh, "Come on, let's go back into the den. We won't worry about the mice until Aoife gets home with the traps, 'kay?"

Ashley huffs, "I'm not crazy."

"I know you aren't." Iro insists, ushering her towards the couch. Ashley plops down on the couch and scowls at nothing in particular. As her best friend sulks, the blonde shakes her head and hands her the half-empty diet coke can from this morning and turns the volume up on the television. "I think Naruto is on. Let's watch that for a bit."

She surfs through the channel guide and pulls up said anime. The theme song blasts through the television speakers and Iro plops down beside the brunette. A cell phone buzzes against the couch cushions, startling the two. Ashley snags it up off the couch.

"Oh," She frowns slightly, "Ally's bf cancelled on her. She's coming home with Aoife instead."

Iro scowls. "I don't like that dude."

Ashley blinks at her, brows furrowing. "Why not?"

"I've seen him with other girls." Iro presses her lips into a tight line. "Like not like he's cheating, but...you can tell he's messing around, you know?" The blonde's gaze flickers over towards her best friend.

"Have you told Ally?" Ashley sets her phone aside, frowning.

"No," Iro shakes her head, "I don't know...how. They seem so happy when they're together. And I don't think he is cheating. He just seems...close to them."

The brunette opens her mouth to respond but a ringing thump cuts her off. Ashley and Iro jump off the couch and rush into the kitchen, where the sound seemed to have resonated from. Several picture frames lay face-down on the dark counter-top.

Iro points to them. "They weren't like that before...right?"

Ashley shakes her head mutely.

The two share a horrified look and dart back into the den. They leap on to the couch and Ashley covers her face with her hands. Iro shakes her head and grabs several pillows, setting them up so that they create a miniature wall between the girls and the kitchen door. They cower behind it.

"The mice are rebelling." Ashley hisses between her fingers.

"Shh," Iro hisses back, "They'll hear you!"

Someone clears their throat.

The two scream loudly and scramble back, flattening themselves into the couch. Aoife stands there in the doorway, brow quirked, a plastic bag hanging from one of her arms. Iro lets out a loud sigh of relief, eyes closing, and her head smacks against the back of the couch, "Aoife! You scared us. We thought you were the mice."

"Oh?" Her brown eyes narrow, "So I look like a mouse to you?"

"No." Ashley fashions a grave look upon her face. "We are in the midst of a mouse-rebellion. They are the ones that destroyed your vase. And knocked over the pictures in the kitchen. You have those traps, right?"

Aoife holds out the plastic bag.

Ashley takes it from her and glances inside, nodding slightly. The brunette moves to the kitchen and dumps the contents of the bag out on to the counter. She separates the traps and then rushes to the fridge, pulling out several pieces of cheese. Aoife leans against the archway that separates the den from the kitchen, gaze flickering back and forth between Iro and Ashley.

Ally walks into the house, panting, "I missed the bus, sorry."

"You could've called me." Ashley frowns at her, fingers breaking the cheese up into small pieces. She sets the traps with the cheese one by one. Ally stares at her weirdly, ignoring her comment, "Um, Ash?"

"If you're going to question my mice traps, just know that I figured out what destroyed Aoife's vase this morning." Ashley huffs, shooting her a knowing look.

Ally scowls. "Ewe, how'd we get mice?"

"Black and red mice, to be exact." Iro joins the girls in the kitchen, arms folded across her chest. Ashley scowls at her and grumbles incoherently under her breath. Aoife's eyes widen.

"I didn't know mice were black and red..." Ally scowls.

"That's because they aren't." Ashley huffs, shooting the girls a dirty look each, "I'm not crazy. I swear. But I know what I saw earlier!"

The three others sigh softly and nod. They help Ashley set out all the traps and then Ally and Aoife take seats at the bar-counter. They pull out their homework and set out to work on it. Iro moves back into the den and plops down on the couch. Ashley orders a pizza for dinner.

"I'm going to go plug my laptop up." The brunette announces as she picks up her laptop and starts towards the stairs. The others hum lightly in response.

Ashley walks into her room and sets the laptop on her desk. She ducks down, searching beneath the wooden structure for the cord. After weaseling it up through the back of the desk, she connects it to the computer and turns the machine on.

An uncomfortable feeling washes over her; the feeling of being scrutinized under a microscope.

She looks up, gaze traveling over her room. It pauses, however, when her brown optics land on something out of place, something never seen before. Her brows furrow in confusion. "What the fuck?"

It stares at her; dark, obsidian orbs watching her every move. Unlike most dolls, the eyes seem almost too realistic, too real to be painted on. Ashley stares at the small figurine for a few moments, peering closer. It sits on her desk, near the back on a higher level installed for a computer monitor. Its legs dangle over the edge of said little ledge, but are mostly hidden beneath a black cloak with red clouds, with just its little feet hanging out. Dark raven's-wing hair frames the sides of its face, falling into the high collar of the cloak.

In short, the doll looks a lot like Itachi Uchiha from Naruto.

"I don't remember ordering you off the internet." The brunette shifts closer, finger lifting to poke the small doll. "Iro was the only other one home." Ashley's finger zeros in on the doll's forehead. "And she's broke. So where did you come from?"

"Konohagakure."

The brunette lets out a strangled gasp, fumbling back in her chair. With all her flailing movements, her computer chair flings backwards and hits the wall again, only this time the impact chips a sliver of the light blue paint off.

Her mouth hangs open.

"I...I...You talked." She can barely get the words out right.

The doll stares at her stoically.

Ashley slumps down, sliding out of the chair and on to the floor. Her butt hits the carpet with a loud thump. Her hands rub at her face. "Oh my god, I really am going crazy." She mutters under her breath. "I've finally lost it. A doll talked to me! Wait a moment," She gasps, scrambling to her feet. She rushes over to the doll and rests her weight on her palms as she leans forward, hands flattened against the desk, "You talked to me, right?"

The doll blinks. "Yes."

She slumps down, face smashing against the desk. Her small groan is muffled by the desk, "You did talk."

A loud, ear splitting shriek rips through the house, followed swiftly by a lung-full of curse words and wall-rattling shouts. Ashley gasps, shooting up and rocketing towards the door. She skids to a stop, however, several feet past the threshold to her door and makes a u-turn.

"Sorry," She frowns as she picks the doll up, fingers curling around its little torso. Then she books it back out the room and towards the stairs.

The second she hits the top step, another terrified scream rips through the air.

"Ashley!"