The Creation of the One Mess

Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. I never put much stock in that old saying until just recently. Just when you think you've got your life figured out, and everything is about to turn up roses, things get weird. I'm not talking about your average person's conception of weird, either. No, this borders on weirdness on the level of The Twilight Zone. I'm speaking from personal experience here, folks.

Allow me to introduce myself: my name is Takaishi Takeru. I live in Odaiba, which is one of the many sections of Tokyo, which of course is the capital of Japan. I'm 15 years old, though I turn 16 in a few weeks, and I'm just about to enter high school. That is, if I survive the next few minutes. You can call me TK, though my name may as well be "mud" if you ask me.

All I've ever tried to do was be a nice guy, a good friend, someone to talk to or someone you could turn to when you had problems. I'd like to think most other people strive for the same thing, or at least I hope they do. It's thanks to that philosophy that I've made lots of great friends over the years, young and old, Japanese and other nationalities, guys and girls alike. A guy couldn't ask for more friends than I've ended up with.

That being said, there comes a point in your life when friendship just isn't enough, you know? I've seen many of my friends come together quite nicely in the past few years as everyone's interests began turning to dating and things like that. Not unexpectedly, I've begun to feel the same. The only difference? I'm what you'd call a "dateless wonder", also referred to as "perpetual friend syndrome" as I've heard it put. If it's not one girl saying that we're too good friends for her to want to date me for fear of ruining our friendship, it's another saying I'm like a brother to her. I'm sure some of you have heard these things before, so you know right where I'm coming from. Sucks, doesn't it?

I guess I began to resent the luck of some of my friends after a while. Don't get me wrong, I never wished for people to break up so I could have a chance or anything like that. I may be lonely, but I could never pick a girl up on the rebound, as it would be. That's definitely not my style, and I can't stand guys who do that sort of thing. Even so, all I wanted was to have that feeling that I had a special place in someone's heart. In not so many words, I wanted to feel loved.

But I never wanted all of this to happen to me! Things got so complicated so quickly, and I just couldn't react to it all when it happened! I mean, I never meant for things to get this out of hand. All I wanted was a girlfriend. Is that too much to ask for?

Well, by now you're probably wondering just what in the world I'm ranting and raving about. I guess it wouldn't do any harm to recap it all, all things considering. This whole mess started not too long ago...

_ _ _ _ _

For a long, long time I've had a crush on one girl in particular. Her name is Yagami Hikari, Kari for short. She's about the same age as me, 15 going on 16, a little shorter than me, and has dark brown hair and eyes. To me, she's as beautiful as an angel. Up until a few weeks ago, she'd been dating another friend of mine, Motomiya Daisuke. Not quite a week ago, she called me up and wanted to talk to me. Alone. On the playground in front of the apartment complex we both lived in. Not thinking anything of it, I went down that day to meet her. What happened next was just the beginning of what will probably be the most unforgettable day of my life.

I arrived at the playground right when she told me to be there. She was sitting on a swing, swaying back and forth a little. I made my way over and sat on the swing next to her.

"Well, here I am." I said as I started to swing. "So what's on your mind, Kari?"

"Lots of stuff." She said, seemingly a little distracted. "Thanks for coming down so early, TK."

"Does Taichi-san know you're out here this early?"

"We're just coming off of the weekend. Niisan wouldn't wake up if a bomb went off outside his bedroom door."

"Oh, right."

Kari fell silent for a moment, and I thought I saw her blushing a bit. Before I could ask if she was okay, she hit me with a question out of nowhere.

"TK, were you ever curious to know why Daisuke-kun and I broke up?"

"Miyako-san filled me in. She said that he was being too overbearing and protective, and wasn't letting you do things on your own."

"That was a good part of it, yes, but not the whole reason."

"Well you've got me curious. What was the main reason?"

"It's because I realized he wasn't the one I wanted to have as my boyfriend."

"Oh."

Yeah, that was my reaction. Talk about not grasping the moment. It took me a little while to realize what she was getting at. Just as I did realize it, she stood up from her swing and moved over right in front of me. She took hold of the chains my swing was attached to and leaned down closer to me.

"Do you know who I would like to have as my boyfriend, Takeru-kun?" she asked, a small smile playing across her face.

Now I may be a typical, dense teenage guy, but even I know when to read between the lines. Nobody calls me by my full name unless it's something important. Or unless I've screwed up big time, like when I left the dinner sitting on the kitchen counter all night and the next morning it was all funky, in which case it's my mother yelling at me.

Back to the moment, though. I remember feeling like my heart was going to jump out of my chest at the time. I was at a loss for words. Kari, on the other hand, was not.

"I'll give you some hints." She said, her hands sliding down the chains to touch my hands. "He's the same age as me, with blonde hair. He's really cute, caring, understanding and considerate, and he's been my best friend for forever. And I've had the hugest crush on him for the longest time, too."

For a moment I thought I was going to faint. My dream was coming true! And it didn't stop there either. I started to move my mouth like I was going to say something, and the next thing I know Kari is kissing me! And I'm not talking an innocent little sweetheart kiss, oh no. I remember gripping the chains on the swing I was sitting on hard, so she wouldn't push me over. She stopped kissing me after about a minute, although honestly it felt like a year to me. It had been my first kiss, after all. She smiled at me as she stood back up straight, giggling a little as she saw how dumbstruck I was.

"So what do you say, TK? Want to be my boyfriend?" she asked, smiling coyly at me.

"Is the Pope Catholic?" I replied in a daze.

"Well let's set up a date, then! How about we hit the movies on Saturday?"

"Sounds great! We can go to the cheapies." It was Monday, by the way, so that gave us plenty of time to warm her brother, Taichi, up to the idea of us dating.

"Give me a call tomorrow night and we'll figure the rest out then." She said. I nodded enthusiastically. She smiled and blew me a kiss as she headed back home. "Talk to you later, TK!"

I got up from my swing and celebrated after she'd left. Hey, I had every right to! The girl of my dreams had not only just said she liked me back, she'd kissed me and we had a date set! I was on cloud nine.

Now, any normal story would end here. I mean, the guy gets the girl of his dreams and they go on to live happily ever after. That's how stories like this always go after all. But see, I didn't count on the fact that Fate, it seems, has a really twisted sense of humor.

_ _ _ _ _

I had a few things I wanted to do around town that day, not the least of which was start telling my other friends about my new relationship with Hikari. I knew just where I wanted to go first, too.

It was just about 11:00 in the morning when I got to the Takenouchi flower shop. I was there to visit my old friend Sora. Sora is about 19 years old, and we've been friends for several years. She's just a little taller than me, and she has red hair with brown eyes. Sora used to date my older brother, Ishida Yamato, pretty seriously. Oh, and yes we really are brothers. It's kinda complicated, and involves going into back-story on our folks. Just trust me, we're brothers.

Anyhow, when his band, the Teenage Wolves, really took off he and Sora broke up. My brother wanted to chase his dreams, but Sora wanted him to just be with her. It came down to which was more important to my brother: music, or his girlfriend. Well, my brother chose music. Sora respected his choice, though to this day she doesn't understand it. I, on the other hand, know my brother better than she does. He may have always said music was a hobby to him, but I know he's always had a passion for it, and all he needed was the opportunity to take it to the next level. Yamato never meant to hurt her, but for the sake of chasing his dream and not wanting to hurt Sora with having to maintain a relationship that would end up long- distance, not to mention that they would hardly ever be able to be together, he broke up with her.

I spent a lot of time talking to Sora after that, helping her get over Yamato. She's still kind of bitter at him, but she's gotten a lot better. Anymore, whenever I show up she seems to brighten up right away. She says she owes it all I've helped her with. I just did what I could to help her get back to her old, vibrant self. I can't stand seeing people sad, least of all close friends like her.

I have to admit, she's really very pretty no matter what she'll try to tell you. She's really a wonderful person all around, but she'd always been more of a sister to me than anything else. Yeah, I know I prefaced all this by saying how stigmas like that suck, but I don't have a better way to describe how things were between us. At least, from my viewpoint how they were.

Getting back to the moment at hand, Sora was home on break from college, so I figured I'd drop by and tell her about Hikari and me first. It just happened to be my luck that she was tending the shop at that time.

"Irrashaimase...oh, TK! How's it going?" she asked, as she watered some of the flowers.

"Never better, Sora-san! I'm glad I caught up with you." I said, beaming a smile at her. "Do you have some time? There's something I want to talk to you about."

"I always have time for you, TK. Hang on one second." She said as she finished up. She set her working gear down and walked over to me quickly, giving me a hug as she came up to me. Not thinking anything of it, I hugged her back.

"Hey, you seem even cheerier than usual." I remarked. "Anything up?"

"Just glad to see a friendly face is all." She said, looking at me. "And well, I have to say that it's coincidence that you stopped by when you did. I wanted to talk to you as well."

"Oh? Well, what's up?"

"Oh no, you first!"

If only I had gone first. But no, being the polite person I am, I deferred to her.

"My thing can wait, Sora-san. Now what's on your mind?"

"Well, this is kind of awkward for me." She said, brushing a bit of her hair back behind her ear. "I mean, I never expected something like this to happen after your brother and I broke up, but...I think I've found someone that I want to be with again."

"Sora-san, that's great! I'm so happy for you! Who is it?"

I immediately figured it would be Hikari's older brother, Taichi. He's been crazy about Sora for years after all. I had no idea how wrong I was.

"Well, he's younger than me, by quite a bit actually. But he's rather mature for his age. He's been someone I could talk to and share my thoughts and feelings with. He's really kind of cute as well. A lot like.well, like his brother. And yet, so different."

Me being the moron that I am, I tried to think of whoever else Sora could be talking about. By the time I figured out that she meant me, I realized that she had her arms around me. And before I could say anything, she was kissing me. And again, it wasn't any kind of friendly little peck on the cheek.

For as nice as being kissed by Hikari was, being kissed by Sora was a completely different experience. Hikari had a scent of vanilla about her, I'm guessing it was her perfume or something. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It was certainly pleasant. Sora, on the other hand, smelled like fresh cut wildflowers, probably from working in the shop. It was all rather nice, possibly nicer than things had been with Hikari. So in the heat of the moment, I gave into it. After a little bit, Sora stopped kissing me and stepped back, smiling at me sheepishly.

"You don't mind, do you?" she asked. "I mean, having someone a little older be attracted to you that is?"

"No! Not at all!" I said quickly. I didn't want to hurt her feelings after all.

"So, maybe we could go do something together sometime soon then?"

"Umm...let me call you about that tomorrow."

Sora nodded and waved to me as I walked back out of the store. I was about a couple blocks away when I stopped and started mentally smacking myself in the head. By the way, I haven't stopped doing that ever since then. Just as a note.

So now I had two girls in love with me. This was certainly a fine mess. And the screwed up part was, I didn't know which one I really liked! I mean, I've always had a thing for Hikari, but then I began to realize that I really did have some feelings for Sora as well. I needed to sort everything out. I needed someone to talk to, who could help me straighten this entire mess out.

Why I decided to go talk to another girl I knew is beyond me.

_ _ _ _ _

I decided to talk to the one person who had been there to listen to my problems just as I had been there for Sora. Her name is Tachikawa Mimi, she's 18 years old and probably the most beautiful person you'd ever set eyes on. Long brown hair, light brown eyes, and more charm and charisma than you could shake a stick at. Her hair used to be dyed pink, but she changed back to brown a couple of years ago, much to my appreciation, by the way.

Truth be told, she was the first girl I ever had a crush on. But she moved away to America a while back. We communicated by e-mail and chat rooms every now and again while she was over there. A couple of years ago her family moved back to Japan, and we quickly struck up our old friendship.

Mimi says that she likes me because I'm the only person she knows who treats her like a person, not a beauty queen or anything like that. See, she's something of a local TV celebrity. She got into acting and TV in America, and just like of kept following it here. Most everyone who meets her wants to treat her to fancy lunches or dinners, or get her extravagant things and stuff like that. She likes that stuff, but she also likes to be able to cut loose as well. That's how she's always been around me, and honestly that's the Mimi that I like. People are so much better when they don't have to try to be something they're not, after all.

I called her up and met her for lunch at a burger joint not far from my home. We met up and ordered lunch. I paid for hers, and we sat down to eat.

"Thanks for meeting me on such short notice, Mimi-san." I said as I bit into my burger.

"Well it sounded pretty important over the phone. Besides, how can I refuse an offer for fast food?" she asked as she ate some fries.

"Sorry, I can't really afford much better."

"This is perfectly fine for me, TK. Really. Every now and again I can go for a good burger or something like that."

I nodded at her as I continued to eat. I was pretty hungry, so I wolfed down my food pretty quickly and then just relaxed while she finished hers. I started going over in my head how to explain everything to her. Finally, after several minutes of silence, she spoke up again.

"Can I ask you something?" she asked.

"Isn't that my line?" I joked. She laughed a little, but she seemed to be pretty serious so I stopped kidding around.

"Sorry, I know I'm supposed to be hearing your problems first. It's just something that's been in my head for a while is all."

"No big deal. What's on your mind, Mimi-san?"

"Well, I've been wondering this for a while now, and I wanted to know what you thought about it." She said.

By the way, for the record this is the moment from which I finally accepted the fact that I am a complete moron.

"What do you think might have happened between us if...if I hadn't moved away?" she asked, looking across the table at me.

In retrospect, it's a good thing I had finished my food, otherwise it would've probably ruined the moment when my jaw just about hit the floor.

Now I know exactly what you're saying. Why didn't I just stop things right there and explain what was going on? Or why didn't I just leave right away? I don't have an answer for you, except to say that I have a hard time dealing with people who've had their feelings hurt. To the point that I don't think I could live with myself if I ever was the one to hurt someone's feelings. Like I've said, I like to think I'm a nice guy when you get right down to it. That's about as much of a defense I can give for my actions.

So in response to Mimi's question, which mind you is one I've posed to myself on many an occasion anyway, I had to tell the truth.

"I think we might have had a lot of fun together." I said. I figured that was a good, neutral response. Unfortunately for me, as far as Mimi was concerned there was no gray area to be had here, and the fact that I hadn't outright rejected the idea meant I was all for it.

You can probably guess what happened next. Yup, she got up from her seat, stepped around the table, and kissed me. It was not unlike a second dream come true for me, the first of course being kissed by Hikari. Mimi had this scent of strawberries about her that I noticed as she kissed me, and in case I've never mentioned it, I'm a sucker for strawberries. So asking if I enjoyed the kiss is like asking a junkie if he likes drugs. Immediately after she stopped kissing me, I became keenly aware that my problems had just gotten exponentially worse.

"So are you busy Friday night?" she asked, taking her seat again. "Maybe we could do something?"

"Uh, maybe. I'll have to check with mom." I said quickly. "Hate to eat and run, but I've got somewhere I gotta be in a few minutes."

"Okay, see you soon Takeru-kun." She said, blowing a kiss at me. I just nodded back at her and left the restaurant.

To say that frustration and confusion had hold of me at that time would be an accurate assessment of my mental state. I walked around for a long time trying to straighten my thoughts out, and in a moment of clarity I remembered that mom had wanted me to pick up dinner for us tonight since she'd be getting home late. So thinking nothing of it, and figuring there was no way I could get in any more trouble, I headed for the store we usually got takeout dinners from.

But Fate, it would seem, wasn't done having its fun with me yet.

_ _ _ _ _

Let me make something perfectly clear at this point: if you know her at all, Inoue Miyako isn't the first girl that springs to mind when you think about picking someone to have as a girlfriend. It's not for lack of attractiveness, she's really very pretty underneath those glasses and when she's not wearing the not-so flattering clothing she usually wears. She has indigo-colored hair and brown eyes, which I've always found to be an interesting combination. She's also very smart, and great at explaining technical stuff as well. I'd say she's almost as smart as my friend Koushirou-san. No, the reason why this 17-year old girl might not be your typical girlfriend material is because she's, well.a bit on the eccentric side.

Actually saying Miyako is eccentric is like saying the Great Wall of China is kinda big. It just doesn't do it justice. But she and I have had lots of fun anyways, just being random. I know sometimes she gets lonely because people get weirded out by her easily, and that's when I try to step up and be someone she can hang out with. She can actually be very cool if you're open-minded enough.

So when I popped into her family's convenience store to get a couple of instant dinners for me and mom that night, I didn't even think that I had to worry about her coming on to me. Yeah, kinda foolish in retrospect, wasn't it?

"Afternoon, Miyako-san! How's the store?" I asked, approaching the counter.

"Same as always, TK. More boring than watching paint dry or watching grass grow." Miyako said, pouting behind her register. "And I've done both of those before, so I speak from experience."

"I know, I remember watching grass grow with you that one time. We did it just to say that we had done it."

"And now when we say, 'This is more boring than watching grass grow.' And someone goes, 'Well how would you know? Have you ever watched grass grow?' we can both say, 'Yes!'"

That's the other thing about Miyako. She's always been able to make me laugh, no matter what. And at the time, I felt I really needed to lighten up.

"Thanks, Miyako-san. I needed a good laugh." I told her.

"Oh? Something on your mind?"

"It's kind of confusing, really. I'd rather just figure it out myself. Thanks anyway."

"As you say. So I'm guessing you're here for dinner again."

"You got it. What're the specials?"

"Well, we've got tonkatsu and some vegetable tempura, but I recommend the sesame chicken."

"Why would that be?"

"Well because I made them myself, and I think they turned out pretty good." She said proudly. Her expression quickly changed though, turning to one of disappointment. "Although I haven't tried it yet myself, so I don't know for sure. For that matter I haven't sold any of it either. You're probably better off getting the tonkatsu."

"I'll take two sesame chicken." I said.

"Really?"

"Sure! I mean you probably put a lot of effort into making it. I'd be happy to try it out."

"O-okay, then. I'll be right back!"

Miyako disappeared into the back for a bit to put the dinners together, so I browsed through the magazine racks for a bit. A few minutes later she brought everything out front again, and I paid for them with some cash mom gave me for dinner.

"Thanks for the business, TK. Always appreciated."

"No prob. Hey, mind if I try the chicken here?"

"I guess not, but why here?"

"Well, I figure you'd want an opinion on how it turned out."

"If you're sure. Again, I can't speak for how it turned out, so proceed with caution."

I just nodded to her as I broke apart a pair of chopsticks, and opened up one of the dinners. The chicken pieces were cubed, and pretty hot. I picked one out and made sure it had a good amount of the sesame sauce on it before popping it into my mouth and eating it. Miyako watched on, biting her lower lip as she waited nervously for my reaction.

Now to be honest, I'm the last person who should be judging the quality of food. I mean come on; I'm a 15-year-old guy. I'll eat day-old cold Chinese food when I'm hungry. Still, I found Miyako's sesame chicken to be extremely tasty. I had to resist the urge to eat the rest of my dinner right there.

"Miyako-san, this is good!" I told her. "You should cook more often."

"You mean it? You're not just saying that for my sake, are you?" she asked, her voice a little hopeful. I put my chopsticks back into the bag and smiled at her.

"Trust me, this is really good."

Miyako giggled with delight and hugged me tightly, thanking me profusely. I was about to reply when, well...look, if you can't figure out what happened next then you just haven't been paying attention to my story so far.

At first she just gave me a big kiss on the cheek, and I didn't think anything of it. But then she moved around to face me, and you guessed it, she kissed me on the mouth. Now remember how earlier I said Sora had this scent of wildflowers about her? Well Miyako had a similar floral scent on, but I recognized it as jasmine, mainly because Sora taught me how to recognize different flowers by their scent a while back. And I remember jasmine because it was so unique to me, not to mention extremely pleasant.

Miyako stopped kissing me after a bit and backed up quickly, suddenly looking very self-conscious.

"I-I-I...I don't know what came over me, TK." She said timidly. "I mean I was just happy you liked my cooking, and well...you've always been the nicest to me of anyone I've ever known. I guess I like you...I hope you liked that. I mean..."

"How could I not like it?" I said at first. I went to continue, when I just realized what had happened. I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach and knew I had to get out of there. I picked up the dinners again and headed for the door. "Miyako-san, I'll call you later okay?"

"Okay. Take care, TK." She said, smiling and blushing at me as I left.

As soon as I was a few steps away from the entrance to the store I sprinted all the way back home. I left the dinners on the kitchen table and took to my room, closing the door as I let myself panic. In one day I'd gone from being completely alone to being kissed by four different girls, all of whom were attracted to me.

You would think I would have just been able to call up three of the girls and tell them that I wasn't interested in them like they thought I was. It should be just that easy, right? Well, I didn't call any of them, and for a good reason.

I sat thinking about each of them, and I realized that I liked them all.

I needed some advice, and there was only one person I really could turn to. I grabbed my phone and hit my second speed dial button. When the other end picked up, I was relieved to hear my friend's voice.

"Iori-kun? It's TK. HELP ME!!!!!"

_ _ _ _ _

Hida Iori is the only friend I have who is actually younger than me. He's extremely mature and intelligent for being only 13, and he's been a good friend of mine for a few years now. After he made it over to my place, I explained the whole mess to him.

"Takeru-san, how did you let all of this happen?" he asked, looking at me in disbelief. "Don't tell me you're going to string all four of these girls along!"

"Absolutely not! I'd never treat any of them like that, Iori-kun! But even so...I like all of them. Oh what am I going to do??"

"Well, you can't date all of them."

"Gee, thanks for the newsflash." I flopped down onto my bed and stared at my ceiling.

"And you don't want to just outright break up with them because you don't want to hurt their feelings, right?" Iori grabbed a chair and sat backwards in it.

"That's pretty much it."

"Well the way I see it, there's only one other choice." Iori said, standing up and looking over me. "You've got to get 3 of them to fall for someone else."

"You think that'd work?" I asked, looking up at him.

"I don't see why not. Of course, that leaves you with a decision to make."

"That being I have to pick which one I actually want to be my girlfriend, right?"

"Exactly."

"That's easier said than done, Iori-kun."

"Well, then, pick the one you'd least want to be your girlfriend and we'll narrow it down from there."

"That's not much easier."

"TK, you have to decide. I guarantee they won't pick for you, nor will they be very understanding if they find out what's going on."

"I know you're right." I said, sitting up. "Give me a night to sleep on it, and I'll call you first thing tomorrow morning. That is, if you wouldn't mind helping me out."

"If nothing else, I want to be around for the entertainment factor." Iori said, smirking. "This should prove to be interesting."

And so began my problem. Four girls were in love with me, and I had to figure out which one I really wanted to be my girlfriend and fix the other three up with other guys. Iori stuck with me for a while and helped me think things through, but I already had a feeling that there was no way this was going to end good for me.