TRIGGER WARNING FOR THIS CHAPTER: Mention of forced prostitution and child prostitution.

The Sickness

By Starzki

-z-

5. Didn't Know It Was a Devil Town

-z-

"We should get to a safe house," Kurz said after their brief introduction as the foursome weaved between the cars in the street as quietly as they could. Melissa and Kurz led Sousuke, who walked the bike, while Kaname brought up the rear, bat at the ready and eyes alert for any movement on the streets or sidewalk.

"There's one down in the Basin I know of," supplied Melissa. She readjusted the flame thrower on her back so that the straps sat more comfortably on her shoulders.

"Are you two with the military?" asked Kaname.

Kurz and Melissa exchanged a glance. "Kind of. Yes," Kurz answered. "We were sent out to check the integrity of the city's power grid. We were on our way back when we got attacked by those Whiskey Deltas you saw."

"Whiskey Deltas?" asked Sousuke.

"Weak dicks," supplied Melissa, making Kurz laugh.

"Walking dead," he informed them. "But weak dicks definitely fit, too. Sorry miss."

"It's… okay," Kaname said, but Sousuke could see her slight blush.

"So, are you two… together," asked Kurz, glancing back at them over his shoulder and waggling his eyebrows suggestively.

Sousuke hesitated before asking, "What do you mean? Why do you care?"

Melissa answered for Kurz. "It was a test. You really should say 'Yes' when people ask you that out here."

"Why?" asked Sousuke.

Kurz expression slipped from impish to serious. "People are taking advantage of the chaos, especially here in the city. Let's just say that women and girls who are out here alone or don't have someone to fight for them… get taken advantage of."

Sousuke scowled at the thought. It wasn't surprising. He knew how awful people could be, especially when they thought they could get away with it. He felt Kaname's hand grip his sleeve near his elbow.

"I'm with Sousuke," she said firmly.

Sousuke felt something wrench inside of his chest at Kaname's words. They were words he had wanted to hear for so long, but the duress under which she said them physically hurt.

"Good girl," said Melissa. "But I bet you could probably take care of yourself. I saw you with those Delts back there. You've got a mean swing," she said with a smile.

Kaname didn't smile back, but she nodded. Her face was drawn and angry. Sousuke caught her eye but she looked away.

They crossed the street to avoid an infected and Melissa led them around a corner. Sousuke felt he had gone through a time warp. The street was the edge of his old stomping grounds when he had been a kid. Not much had changed. It had always been run down and dingy. Light never seemed to find its way into the alleys or beyond any building's threshold. The odor was the same rotted smell of his childhood. He had never wanted to come back.

Kaname shuddered. She still gripped Sousuke's shirt.

The four slinked down the street carefully. Sousuke found himself marking off the various building and "businesses" he knew. On the corner was the only place in the neighborhood you could buy vegetables or milk, but it also served as a front for the local bookie. Then came a liquor store, a bondsman office, a souvenir store that was actually a front for drug dealers, a pawn shop, a hotel/brothel run and staffed by immigrants, and so on. Nothing was really what it seemed to be and everything had a dark, violent undercurrent seething through it. It had been years, but Sousuke doubted anything had changed.

They turned another corner and confronted three infected. Kurz and Kaname were ready. Kurz used the butt of his weapon to smash in two of their heads while Kaname used her bat on the third one. Sousuke felt proud of her reflexes and how frighteningly lethal she was. Then he felt strange about feeling proud about that.

"Nice job, guys," said Melissa. "We're almost there. We can bed down for the night and go on our ways."

"We can't come with you?" asked Sousuke, managing to keep the disappointment out of his voice.

"Negative. Sorry. We're not authorized to pick up strays right now. We're having a hard enough time keeping all of us alive and unbitten as it is" she answered with a shrug, shaking her head.

"I see," said Sousuke.

"There it is," Melissa said, pointing to a five story, red brick building. "Safe house is in there."

"No," said Sousuke, freezing mid-step. He worked to fight against the panic thumping through his veins. Entering the red building was not going to happen.

"What?" asked Kurz.

"We're not going in there." Sousuke was firm.

"Why the hell not? There's a safe house?"

"There's nothing at all safe about that building," Sousuke said finally.

"What is going on?" asked Melissa.

Sousuke looked around anxiously. He hated this place. "I grew up around here," he finally said.

"Here?" asked Kaname, disbelief staining her voice.

"Affirmative. Stepping inside of that building is out of the question." Sousuke realized that it might not be a rational response. It was likely that there truly was a safe room in that building, but he had spent his childhood avoiding the old red hotel and he would never consider entering it. No matter what, even if it was infected-free and barricaded so that no undead could ever enter, they'd still be exposed to the echoing pain and ghosts that would never leave those walls.

Kurz and Melissa looked cautiously at Sousuke. They wanted to trust him, but they also wanted to get off the street as the sun fell lower on the horizon. Kaname's eyes expressed pure worry, then she said, "I'm with Sousuke."

"Well, then do you know where else we can go?" asked Melissa.

Sousuke nodded and propped the bike against a tree. They would come back to find it later if they could. It was his turn to lead the way.

-z-

The sky had moved from deep red into bruised purple by the time Sousuke had led the group to the beige cinderblock building three blocks away. It had been abandoned, even when he was a child, so Sousuke thought the chances were good that it was a place they could hide out for the night.

He brought them around to the side of the building and found the loose block of foundation toward the back, near the alley. It measured two feet, by two feet, by two feet and was very heavy, but Kurz and Sousuke made quick work of moving it, exposing the hole that led inside the building.

"What is this place?" asked Kaname as Kurz dropped to his belly to wiggle through the hole.

"An old church. The windows are high off the ground, so it would be hard for people or infected to get in. The doors are heavy and have been rusted shut for as long as I've known this place, but I found it when I needed a place to crash and never told anyone about the way to get in. It should be good."

Kaname nodded, then followed Melissa in after Kurz gave the all clear. Sousuke went in backwards and shimmied the concrete block closer to the opening, disguising the hole in the building from infected and other survivors. Sousuke didn't trust anyone in the Basin any more.

Once inside, Sousuke breathed in deeply. The cold, moldy, musty smell greeted him. It was a relief from the smell of rotting garbage and burned human flesh that had followed them since the gas station confrontation.

Melissa and Kurz carefully checked the entire space, including the small office in the front and the bathroom. It had been looted long before Sousuke had discovered it, the pews tossed and piled in disorder against the walls. Hymnals littered the floor, slowly fading and turning to dust. Nothing adorned the walls but the blue nighttime light that filtered through the small stained glass windows near the ceiling. The only sign of life was a cleared corner in the apse that Sousuke had used to bed down over ten years ago.

"This isn't a bad place to stay," Melissa finally said.

"It's pretty secure," Kurz agreed.

The four moved toward the apse and began unstrapping their packs and weapons. Moving in practiced motions, Kurz and Melissa immediately went into their packs for water and rations to share. Sousuke and Kaname joined in and the four had a silent, but enjoyable dinner. The only sound was the muffled rustling of wrappers and the occasional shoe scraping against the floor. Sousuke felt himself relax for the first time since entering the city. He realized how exhausted he was.

Sousuke moved over to the wall and sat, leaning heavily against it.

"So," started Melissa, arranging her equipment into something that approached comfortable to sleep on, "Why did you have such a problem with the other safe room? Not that I'm complaining about this place."

"Always avoid the red house," Sousuke said.

"The red house?" asked Melissa.

"Yeah. Back then, ten, fifteen years ago, all of the homeless kids in this city used to run these streets. The adults around here mostly used us as their little enforcers. They saw us as useful and expendable. They organized the gangs, used us to fight their competitors and we didn't really question anything because we finally belonged to something. To someone. It was like a family, or what I thought one would be like. We all basically had to take care of each other, especially the younger ones."

Even in the darkness, Sousuke could see the sympathetic and understanding expressions from Kurz and Melissa. They were probably familiar with the area, or had at least heard stories like his before. Kaname's face, on the other hand, showed a mixture of horror and concern. She held her fingers to her lips, covering her frown.

"It's a tough life," said Kurz.

"It wasn't bad. Not compared to the red house. I don't know how it happened, but kids were just abandoned on these streets. Maybe parents knew that this is where kids could survive without people asking questions. Maybe there was an underground adoption industry and we were the rejects. I don't know, but there were young kids who turned up on the streets almost every week. Some of us got taken in by the crime families. Some… didn't. Adults from the red house would come out and… take inventory of the new kids who weren't affiliated with a gang yet. The ones that were too young or too weak to get in right away. They would find the kids, take them by the hand, and lead them to the red house. They would never come out after that."

Melissa sucked in air through her teeth. Kurz let out an unhappy grunt. Kaname just looked confused. "What happened to those kids?" she asked, her hand going to her abdomen in an unconscious gesture of protection.

Sousuke sighed. He didn't want to have to tell her. "It was a hotel. Children were… one of the services it offered."

Kaname gasped, but didn't say anything. She dropped her hands to her lap and stared at them, schooling her face into a neutral expression.

"We all learned from the beginning to stay away from the red house. So…"

"Hmm. Good call," said Kurz.

"Yeah. This isn't exactly comfortable, but I'm glad we avoided that other place. Yuck," said Melissa, laying back and crossing her arms, getting comfortable on the hard ground."

Sousuke took the cue and slid down the wall, lying on his back, pillowing his pack underneath his head. Dredging up old, bad memories had taken its toll. He was asleep within seconds.

-z-

He wasn't sure how much later he was awoken by Kaname, but the moonlight hadn't shifted all that much on the walls. She had moved to lie next to him, sharing his pillow. She was on her side and hugged his arm to her, her mouth next to his ear.

He hadn't moved at all, but she must have known he was awake. "I'm so sorry," she breathed. "I didn't know."

Sousuke didn't answer.

"Also," she continued, "just so you know, because I can tell you're thinking it, I'm not with you because I'm scared of other people. I'm with you because you're who I want to be with."

She paused for a breath, then said, "You're… mine."

Sousuke would have thought he was dreaming except for the cold anticipation that was flooding through him. He suppressed a shiver. It still felt too wrong. She had always been unattainable to him, but the first flicker of hope that she could be his stirred in his soul.

There were so many things he wanted to say in return. There were so many things he wanted to do. He imagined turning toward her, embracing her, maneuvering them so that they could lay like spoons and feel the warm length of her body against his all night long.

But saying or doing anything might change things too much between them. He didn't want to risk what they already had. Their situation was too precarious, too mobile. If things went badly, the danger would be unacceptable. They had to find some place safe for them to live before he could let himself answer her the way he wanted to. But Kaname deserved something, some acknowledgement that she had put herself out there so bravely.

Sousuke shifted his arm in her grip, finding her hand and threading his fingers though hers. He brought her knuckles to his lips and pressed them there for a moment before dropping their arms between them once more, hands still clasped.

He fell asleep marveling at Kaname's breathing and the way it made goose bumps that chased each other down his neck.

-z-

Melissa and Kurz were up first, setting out food to share another meal.

Sousuke sat up, surprised to find that Kaname was still curled up next to him. He lightly touched her face and she roused with a light snore.

"The bathroom still has toilet paper!" Melissa announced.

"Good," said Kaname, making her way across the large room toward the aforementioned bathroom. Sousuke watched her pick up her pack, no doubt for any change in clothes she might need, as well as her vitamins that she took every morning.

He took his turn next and returned to the apse to find the other three had already started breakfast.

"So," asked Kurz, "where you headed?"

"The water treatment plant," said Kaname, wolfing down a packet of peanut butter crackers. "We heard they're letting people in now."

Melissa and Kurz began immediately shaking their heads. "You heard wrong," Melissa finally said. "They're shooting outsiders on sight. They're not letting anyone but water personnel and their families in the facility."

"But that's not…" Kaname said, shocked.

"Trust us. You two saved us. We won't steer you wrong. The water treatment plant is not where you want to go."

Kaname looked at Sousuke with mild panic in her eyes.

"We hadn't really heard of other places that were accepting outsiders," said Sousuke.

"There are a few. The Basin has a settlement on the north lip, but it's… not a good place from what we've seen."

"I don't want to go there," said Kaname.

"There are a few small places around the city, but they tend to turn away people they don't know," continued Melissa. But, if you're willing to travel, there's a place on the upper west side of the city that might work for you two."

"Oh?" asked Sousuke. "What is it?"

"Jindai High School. It's a hike from here, but you might make it tonight before sunset. It's big and they're doing well about expanding. They take in some people, but not everyone. They might take you if you show them you'd benefit them."

Sousuke exchanged a look with Kaname, "What do you think?" he asked.

"I want to get far away from here," she said.

"Understood. Me too."

"Jindai sounds interesting."

"It is far away, but I know where they're talking about. It was one of the biggest schools in the city."

Kaname nodded thoughtfully. "Let's do it," she decided.

Sousuke turned back to Melissa and Kurz. "Thanks for the info. Are you two leaving now?"

"Yeah. Gotta get back to the…" Kurz stopped himself. "…place we're going."

"We're sorry you can't come with us. I think you'd be useful. Especially with that rifle of yours," said Melissa.

Sousuke frowned over at the rifle, not looking forward to carrying it across the city. "It's not really my weapon of choice."

"Oh?" asked Kurz. "I'll take it off your hands."

"What will you give me?" asked Sousuke.

Kurz gave Melissa a pleading look. A silent conversation passed between them that ended when Melissa gave and exasperated sigh and a nod. She was still smiling though.

"We talked about it. We can't bring you with us, but we'll trade you the rifle for this walkie talkie," Kurz said, proffering the device. "We won't be able to talk much. But let's say at 1100 hours each day, we'll exchange whatever information we can. If we can bring you in, I'll let you know."

"Every day?" asked Kaname.

"Well, no," said Kurz. "But if I have something to share, I'll do it at 1100 hours. I'll also do what I can to be listening at that time. Okay?"

"Deal," said Sousuke.

Melissa smiled again. "Good. The easy negotiation is over. Now to discuss the leftover toilet paper…"

-z-

Sousuke and Kaname made pretty good time through the city on the bicycle until they hit Midtown, about two miles northwest of the Basin. Cars were piled so densely that even the sidewalks were clogged with vehicles.

They had to abandon the bike and make their way by climbing over cars. They were getting attention from infected in the area, but the tightly packed cars helped slow the infected down and keep them away from the pair.

They passed from trunk to roof to hood to trunk and so on down the road on the city's main artery. Except for having to look out for nearing infected, the journey became monotonous.

After about 30 minutes, Kaname broke the relative silence. "How did you get out of there? Years ago. How did you find your way to our house?"

Sousuke grinned. "I tried to rob the wrong guy."

"Oh?"

"Yeah. There was this gun and ammo store just outside of the Basin. Some old guy ran it and we thought it would be easy pickings. We were really wrong."

Kaname giggled. "What happened?"

"Well, I got caught, basically. Turned out the guy was ex-military, from another country, and he caught me when I tried to escape."

"Did he call the police?"

"No. I'm not sure why, but he asked if I was interested in his weapons. I said yes. So he said that if I wanted, he would train me how to use them if I stopped by every afternoon, but that I would have learn discipline as well."

Kaname used her bat to push an infected away from the trunk of the car she was about to step onto. "Go on."

"I guess there's not much to say. He put me through his own kind of boot camp, he taught me to fight, he taught me tactics, he taught me how to fire the weapons and how to take care of them. After about a year or so, I was spending more time with him, training, than I was with my gang. But no one ever said anything about it. I guess they were scared of the old man. And they should have been. I don't know a person who could take him out."

"He sounds really interesting."

"I guess. After a few years, he let me move into a small room behind the shop and I helped him run it. A few years later, someone put the word out for a young bodyguard for an heiress of a rich family who was reportedly… difficult. He put me up for the job. I met with your dad and was hired contingent on being able to get along with you."

"Ha!" the bark of laughter was at odds with the chaotic cityscape, but Sousuke couldn't stop his smile. "I almost had them fire you that first day! But you were… interesting. So I let you stay." Her voice was filled with bratty authority and genuine mirth.

"You let me stay. And here we are."

"Here we are," she agreed.

"So," she asked after climbing over a few more cars, "What happened to the old guy who trained you?"

"Not sure."

"What was his name?"

"Andrei Kalinin."

-z-

About a mile away from the school, the heavy traffic in the roads began to thin. Sousuke and Kaname stayed to the middle of the street and well away from anything that might conceal a walking infected or a crawler. They had done well in crossing the city in only one day, but the sun was beginning to sink in the sky and Sousuke wanted to make sure that they would get to Jindai before it started getting dark.

He thought about what the settlement would be like. He supposed it was based on the technology they had and the supplies that they were able to gather. From the sound of it from Kurz and Melissa, it was probably pretty well-organized. He suspected that they would have to share almost everything they had.

A half a mile away from the school, just before they turned down the road that would lead them to its entrance, Sousuke saw what he was looking for. It was a kind of storage shed built in to the side of house. They were designed to merely look like a part of the building's structure, part of the wall. People could store tools and expensive equipment with much less fear of it being stolen because many thieves wouldn't know it was a shed.

They hadn't been very popular because they were very expensive to camouflage as part of the house and often out-priced the stuff most people would hold inside. But this house had one. Sousuke could tell by the hinges that were out of place on a house's façade.

He stopped Kaname, checked for infected, and hopped the fence to the house. He located the combination lock without much trouble and spun the default code from the factory settings. Not many people ended up changing it and he crossed his fingers that this person hadn't either.

He was in luck. The hinges squeaked open revealing a completely empty space. The homeowner had apparently emptied it when the dead had started coming back to life. Sousuke placed Kurz's radio and his Glock and its ammo inside.

"Do you have anything you don't want to share with the rest of the settlement once we get there?" Sousuke asked Kaname.

"Just the vitamins, I guess," said Kaname after thinking about it. "And my bat."

Sousuke considered her answer. "Keep the bat. You won't need it inside and they'll think it's weird if you show up at their door without a weapon of some kind. And you should keep your vitamins with you. Just don't volunteer that you have them. It should probably be okay."

"Do you think I should tell them I'm pregnant?"

Sousuke thought about this. "I'm not sure," he finally said. "It… might be a reason for them to turn us away."

"I'm going to start showing in a month or two."

"It'll be harder for them to turn you out once they get to know you."

"So you're saying I'm lovely and charming and there's no way they'll get rid of me once they've met me?" she asked with a grin.

Sousuke gave a soft laugh. "Affirmative," he agreed.

She laughed in return, pleased with his answer. "Okay. I'll keep the little nugget under wraps for now."

"I'm going to use the storage just for us in case anything happens and we can't stay there. Sound good?"

"Sounds great!"

Kaname unpacked her bag and rearranged the contents, wrapping her vitamins in a sweatshirt and placing it at the bottom. She kept the food and water near the top. They were ready to go.

-z-

"Who are you? What do you want?" a male voice asked from over their heads, atop the barricade that blocked the school's courtyard entrance.

"Sousuke Sagara. And this is…"

"Kaname Chidori." Sousuke started at her response. She hadn't used Chidori as her surname since she got married and the fact that she was shedding it surprised him somewhat.

"We'd like to come in," Sousuke shouted to the voice.

"What do you have there?"

"An M16."

"You have ammo for that?"

"Yes."

"Can you shoot?"

"Yes."

There was a silence and the gate began to rise. Sousuke saw a nice looking woman step out and consider him. She definitely didn't belong to the previous voice, but she did have some authority. She sized up Kaname and Sousuke with a frown. "We may or may not have room for you. But everyone here carries their own weight."

"Understood," said Sousuke.

The woman narrowed her eyes at him. "You can shoot. Can you run?"

"… Yes?"

"I'm talking long distances. Hours at a time."

"I can run," Sousuke affirmed.

She turned her gaze to Kaname. "What about you?"

"I'm with Sousuke."

"How nice for you. Can you run?"

Kaname hesitated. "I could. I really can't so much right now."

The woman frowned more deeply. "I don't think we can help you."

Sousuke felt his temper rising. He knew he shouldn't yell at someone who was just trying to survive, but so were they!

Kaname cut him off before he lost his cool. "But I can cook. I'm really good. And I know how to cook for big groups."

The woman considered Kaname's words. Then she nodded slowly. "I'm Eri Kagurazaka. Come in."

They had only taken three steps inside before they were approached by two other men, one older and one near their own age.

"Please give us your weapons, ammo, and any food that you have," the older man requested. "We need them for the good of the entire settlement."

Sousuke and Kaname didn't argue. Sousuke handed over the M16, all of his ammo, his baton, and what was left of his rations. Kaname handed her bat over with a scowl, but silently emptied her pack of the food and water she carried.

"Is this it?" Ms. Kagurazaka asked.

"Yes," Kaname answered.

"And you said you're a couple, yes?"

Sousuke noticed Kaname's blush, but she answered, "Yes."

"Good," said the younger man. "Couples share a cot. No exceptions. And we have an open bed, so you two are in luck."

At this information, Sousuke felt his own cheeks coloring. He hadn't anticipated this happening.

"It's late," said Ms. Kagurazaka. "Tonight, just join us at the fire and meet some people. Tomorrow, meet with Hiyashimizu to get your job assignments," she said, indicating the younger man.

"Yes ma'am," said Sousuke.

"Are you military?" Hiyashimizu asked Sousuke as he led them through the former school's large courtyard. The school was three stories tall had been built in the shape of a squared off "U" with classroom buildings surrounding the athletic grounds that included the track, baseball, and soccer fields.

"Negative. But I've had some training."

"Good. Meet me after dinner. I'll show you to your cot."

Kaname and Sousuke thanked him and walked over to the area where several campfires were burning. They surveyed the area. One of the fires only had two people next to it and they appeared to be the same age as Sousuke and Kaname.

"Do you mind if we sit?" Kaname asked.

The two, a young man and woman, looked up and nodded eagerly.

"Are you new?" asked the young man, pushing up his glasses on his nose.

"Yeah," said Kaname with an easy smile.

"We kind of are, too," said the girl, mirroring Kaname's smile. "I'm Kyouko. That's Shinji." He gave a small wave.

"Kaname," said Kaname, then gestured at Sousuke, "He's Sousuke. Where are you from?"

"We went to Western University. I was a first year nursing student, he was in computer engineering. We shared a math class and were studying in the cafeteria when everything happened. We and some others managed to bar the doors and stay there for weeks and weeks. Then the food ran out so me and Shinji found our way here."

"Wow," said Kaname, obviously impressed.

They all settled down around the fire and talking came easy to Kaname. Sousuke was glad for that. She was always good with people and she never got much of a chance to interact with them on the Chidori compound.

"Where are you two from?" asked Shinji.

"We're not from the city," said Sousuke.

"Yeah, we thought we could stay at the water treatment plant, but it turns out we were wrong. We were directed here." Kaname shrugged.

"Well that's good, then," said Kyouko brightly. "We only got here a couple of days ago and we don't really know anyone really well. I was kind of hoping that these evenings around these campfires, they burn the garbage every night, would be more like camp where we told scary stories. But people here stay kind of quiet."

"I don't know if we need any more scary stories with those things prowling around out there, trying to eat our brains," said Shinji with a shiver.

Kaname laughed. "Well, that's true! Maybe we should tell happy stories, instead."

"Or funny stories," said Shinji in agreement.

"Does anyone have a funny story?" asked Kaname. There was a long silence. "It's been so long, I don't know if I remember any…"

"Oh, I have one," said Kyouko. "It's a little… naughty though."

"Tell it Tokiwa!" said Shinji. "I could definitely use a laugh.

Sousuke thought that they all did. He found that he instantly liked both Shinji and Kyouko and it appeared that Kaname did, too. They were finally finding a bit of good luck in all of the recent horror.

"Okay," said Kyouko. "Don't say I didn't warn you, though."

"Ha! This should be good. Kyouko has the best stories," Shinji informed Sousuke.

"Okay, this happened last semester. Our dorms are set up as suites. We have two people per room and two rooms share a bathroom between them. My roommate was… difficult."

Shinji nodded knowingly at that. "Yeah, she would just stare at the fish in her aquarium for hours, rocking. She said it was her therapy."

Kaname giggled. Sousuke smiled at the sound.

"Well, our suitemates were big partiers. They thought my roommate was weird and they thought I was weird by association, so they never invited us over when they had their parties."

"Oh no," said Kaname with some sympathy.

"Oh, it's fine. They were awful anyway. I had better things to do. It just got annoying because they were pretty loud and it would go on well into the night. But we just locked our side of the bathroom door and wore earplugs."

Kyouko took a sip of water, then looked away from the fire into the darkening sky.

"Anyway, this particular Friday night, the suitemates were at it again. Loud music. Drunk people. The usual. We just ignored it like we always did. I fell asleep around midnight. I woke up at around 3AM and had to pee. I couldn't hear anything from next door and I figured the party was over and it was safe to go into our shared bathroom." Kyouko took a breath. "I was wrong."

This made Shinji laugh. Kaname wore an expression that made it clear she was anticipating being shocked. Her mouth was forming an "O" and her hand was pressed to her heart.

"So I went in the bathroom. I thought I was doing everyone a favor by not turning on the light!"

This made Kaname unleash a torrent of giggles.

"Well, I step into the bathroom and, the next thing I knew, I was slipping on something wet and I fell back and banged my head on the door. It hurt! So I got up and turned on the light…"

"Oh, no," breathed Kaname, her hand inching up to her mouth.

"And I saw this guy on the floor, passed out."

"Ugh! Did he barf?" asked Shinji, both grossed out and delighted with the story.

"I wish!" Kyouko's face was reddening, but she continued with the story. Even Sousuke found himself on the edge of his seat, needing to know what happened next.

"It appeared that he had passed out after he had… pleasured himself. And I stepped in… yugh" Kyouko couldn't finish the sentence.

Kaname squealed in disgust and then lost herself in giggles. Sousuke knew his own face was screwed into some awful horrified expression.

Kyouko was giggling, herself. "And it was still out!" she blurted.

"It?" asked Kaname, utterly scandalized.

"Was out!" said Kyouko, causing everyone to double over in laughter. Sousuke couldn't remember the last time he had laughed so hard. He even felt tears gathering in the corners of his eyes. They all laughed long and hard until they were reduced to mere whimpers.

Kyouko broke the small silence that followed. "And my foot itched the whole next day," she with a pathetic tone in her voice. Everyone lost themselves in laughter once again.

TO BE CONTINUED…


Author's Note 1: This chapter was written to fill the "shiver" prompt in LuxKen27's Summer Mini Challenge.

AN2: FYI, the story at the end happened to a friend of mine in college. There is a bit of a Seinfeld exchange, but let me assure you, it was a direct quote from when she told the story to our group of friends.