Chapter 6: Wise Mouths and Training Wheels

"Hey guys," TK walked over to his friends.

*slam* Koji slammed his locker shut.

*slamslamslamslam* Takuya opened and closed his locker just for the sake of making noise.

"..." JP stuck his nose in the air and turned away from TK.

"Did I miss out on something?" TK frowned at his friends.

"..." Zoe stared inside her locker. She held the locker door in a way to shield her face from TK.

"Hmph," Koji gave TK a dirty look and walked away.

"..." Kouichi looked down at the floor and walked past TK.

"Can someone tell me what's going on?" TK asked.


"Alright, JP and Zoe! I'll see you at lunch!" Takuya loudly yelled.

"I'll see you there too," TK awkwardly said.

"Psh...," Takuya ignored TK and went on his way to class.

"Bye Zoe," JP said. Zoe replied back with a slight wave, but she was still facing her locker.

"Okay, the boys are gone. Can you tell me what's up?" TK asked.

"Nope. Figure it out for yourself," Zoe curtly said.

"But how when I don't even know anything?" TK asked.

"It's funny. You always come running to me first when you have a problem, but I can't depend on you for anything. Even Takuya's more reliable than you are. It's not fair, is it?" Zoe closed her locker.

"That's not true!" TK protested.

"Yes it is. And even on the rare times you do help me out, you have this awful look on your face the entire time. Like you'd rather be eating rusty nails than to be around me for any longer than you need to be," Zoe said.

"I do no-," TK frowned.

"I have to go!" Zoe cut him off and walked away.

"What the hell is with everyone?" TK pressed his lips together.

"I wish we didn't have to miss our practice date," Meg pouted.

"How did TK do?" Miki flashed a mischievous smirk.

"He did pretty good for his first time. He made a couple of little mistakes, but he's definitely ready for Kari," Mimi pursed her lips.

"Aww, that's great!" Meg gushed.

"Yep, and he'll pop the question at Tai's party this Friday," Mimi beamed with pride as the girls walked into the cafeteria.

"Don't you think it might be too late by then?" Meg picked up a tray.

"What do you mean by that?" Mimi raised an eyebrow.

"Sixteen boys have already asked her out since Friday," Meg gossiped.

"Make that seventeen. Trent just got turned down," Miki stuck out her tongue and gave the girls a thumbs-down.

"Where? I wanna see," Meg whipped her head around.

"You missed it," Miki placed her head on Meg's shoulder.

"Aw nuts," Meg sighed.

"Come on. You guys should be happy! That means TK still has a chance," Mimi said.

"Yeah, but for how much longer? Look, there's another guy," Miki pointed at Kari's direction.

"Oh, that's just Davis. She'd never say yes to him. Now stop pointing. It's rude," Mimi brought Miki's hand down.

"We should get TK to sit with us. That way he might get a better chance of asking her out before the party. Now where is he?" Meg tapped her foot.

"Over there," Miki pointed at TK.

"Miki," Mimi huffed.

"I know, it's rude," Miki rolled her eyes as the girls trudged over to TK's table.

"Hey guys," TK nervously walked to his usual lunch table.

"Hmph-oww!" Takuya snorted so hardly, he hurt his throat.

*tapatapatap* Kouichi drummed his fingers against the table top.

"..." JP and Zoe didn't look up from their plates. Koji just gave TK a mean glare.

"Alrighty then," TK made a face. He was about ready to sit down until Takuya cleared his throat.

"You're not wearing a hat. It's Monday," Takuya obnoxiously stated.

"So...?" TK raised an eyebrow.

"So that's against the rules and you can't sit with us," JP haughtily said.

"Wait? Were you guys actually serious about that hat rule?" TK looked at the gang with disbelief.

"The rule was serious when I refused to wear this stupid hat last time," JP pointed to his Dr. Seuss hat.

"Don't blame me. I didn't come up with that retarded rule," TK scoffed.

"YOU CAN'T SIT WITH US!" Takuya boomed.

"Takuya!" TK turned red.

"Embarrassed because the losers don't want you at their table?" Koji scoffed.

"Whatever. You guys are being ridiculous," TK placed his tray on the table.

"No, you are!" Takuya flipped TK's tray over, the contents spilling onto the table.

*plinkplinkplink* Takuya began flicking peas at TK.

"What the hell is the matter with you?" TK jumped.

"Guys, let's just leave," Zoe lightly touched Kouichi's arm.

"Gladly," JP picked up his tray.

"..." Kouichi avoided eye contact with TK.

*plink* Takuya flicked one more pea in TK's face and then walked away.

"..." Koji waited until everyone left and sat back down.

"Koji, I can't believe I'm saying this, but you're the only rational one out of the group right now. Can you tell me what's going on?" TK asked.

"I saw you on Sunday," Koji curtly said.

"I knew that cafe place is pretty embarrassing, but I didn't think you guys would be upset about-"

"No, I don't care about that," Koji interrupted.

"Then what's the big deal?" TK asked.

"You were AWOL at JP's birthday party," Koji clenched his jaw.

"He had a birthday party?" TK looked surprised.

"Yes. We've been talking about it at lunch for the past two weeks. You were with us," Koji said, irritated.

"I don't remember that," TK frowned.

"Maybe it's because you're too busy hanging out with the popular kids, where you think you belong," Koji said.

"What's that supposed to mean?" TK defensively said.

"For once, you're living the life you've always wanted to live. Schmoozing it up with conceited bitches and brainless jocks who scratch their nuts all day, wearing the 'cool' clothes, going to all of the parties, and getting one step closer at a shot at Miss Universe," Koji tilted his chin in Kari's direction.

"You want to be popular just as badly as I do. You just don't want to admit it," TK said.

"Open your eyes, Cinderella. After the clock strikes twelve, you're going to turn back into the loser nobody you are. You're nothing but Mimi's little toy," Koji sneered.

"That's not true!" TK looked annoyed.

"How did she take it when you told her you missed the deadline for the film festival?" Koji asked.

"She was bummed out- but that was because she knew how upset I was about it," TK said.

"Right," Koji skeptically said. "I don't get it. You and Mimi couldn't stand each other just a couple of weeks ago. What changed that?"

"I...I honestly don't know," TK paused. Now that he thought about it, he and Mimi became close all of a sudden. He didn't know how to explain it; it just happened.

"If you want to spend time with your girlfriend, that's fine," Koji said.

"Kari is not-"

"I wasn't talking about her. I was talking about the girl you went on a date with on Sunday," Koji cut him off.

"Mimi? That was just a practice date-"

"I'm not buying it. You're just Mimi's backup boyfriend. She can't do anything with her real boyfriend, so she settles for her boyfriend's brother," Koji said.

"Hey TK, come sit with us," Mimi whined.

"Koji?" TK looked over at the surly boy.

"Go ahead. I have to catch up with the guys. Don't want to leave them hanging like someone else I know," Koji shrugged and got up from the table.

"You're ours now!" Meg giggled and linked arms with TK.

"Hey buddy!" Davis placed his arm around TK's shoulders.

"Gah! You scared me," TK heaved.

"Something on your mind?" Davis said.

"It's nothing," TK said. He glanced over at his usual lunch table. It had been empty for the past couple of days. He didn't have any of the same classes with his friends, so he couldn't ask anybody what the heck was going on. Even at work, TK saw no sign of Zoe. It was starting to bother him, especially since he and Zoe always shared the same shift.

"Oh...," Davis said. "Don't worry about them. You're way better off without those losers anyways."

"Those losers happen to be my friends," TK clenched his jaw.

"Sorry man, my bad. I just thought that-"

"You just thought what?" TK interrupted.

"Well, you're hanging out with us now. I assumed you would be over those lo-I mean, those guys," Davis looked at the empty table.

"Hey! Are you guys talking about me?" Kari coyly walked over to the boys.

"You know, the world doesn't always revolve around you," Davis teased.

"Oh really? TK, what do you have to say about this?" Kari stood akimbo and raised her eyebrows.

"What do I say about this?" TK pondered out loud and immediately turned red.

"Fine then! It seems like you boys have other priorities besides me! Carry on," Kari pretended to be mad and walked away.

"Uh," TK watched as Kari headed back to the cheerleaders' table.

"Don't worry about her. She's a bit on the loony side," Davis elbowed TK.

"Oh," TK blinked. This was an odd world. In this world, Kari was confident and a bit of a jokester. Not that she was insecure, but the Kari TK used to know would never act this bold, even if it was just for humor's sake. If that weren't odd enough, it seemed like Davis was irresistible to Kari's charm. Back when they were good friends, TK remembered how obsessive Davis used to be over her. Nothing made sense in TK's point-of-view.

"I don't know. He's just been standing like that for a while now."

"Ow!" TK jolted.

"Finally got your attention. Miki found us a table," Mimi pinched the skin of TK's elbow.

"Oh okay," TK nodded.

"For someone who works at a coffee shop, you sure don't look like it," Miki raised an eyebrow.

"We don't get free coffee or an employee discount. The owner's pretty cheap," TK said.

"Yikes! That's a bummer," Meg pouted.

"I guess. I don't really like coffee anyways," TK shrugged.

"That's weird," Mimi looked spooked.

"I think of it as a good thing. It's one less thing to spend money on," TK said.

"So true. I tried working at Khaki Barn, but I didn't even last a day. I ended up getting fired because I was too busy shopping for myself instead of helping other people shop. That was before Chrissy was manager though. Maybe it was a good thing that she wasn't manager at the time I was there, because then I wouldn't have found the awesome job at the precinct that pays double what Khaki Barn would have paid me, and you know what that means...," Meg gave her friends an eager look.

"That you get to work with me," Miki smirked.

"Get real! Let me lay this out in mathematical terms," Meg whipped out a notebook. "Okay, so Khaki Barn's entry salary is minimum wage, okay? The precinct pays us double as much. For simplicity purposes, let's say that 70% of my paycheck goes to my clothing budget."

"70%?" Miki scoffed.

"Fine, 75%!" Meg scribbled over her math.

"It doesn't really matter how much money you spend on your clothes. Since you make double the wage at the precinct, that just simply means you have double the money to spend at the Khaki Barn. And now that Chrissy works there, she gives you her manager discount which saves you 30%. Then you get your Khaki Cash savings, which usually add up to 40% because you spend at least $500 each season, so your total savings are at least 58%. That's not including the stuff you find on sale or at the clearance racks, but if we were to add those up, you probably would be saving 70% altogether," Mimi shrugged.

"Whoa...," everyone's mouths dropped.

"What?" Mimi gave them a strange look.

"You just sounded...nerdy," Miki smirked.

"I would have never expected that from you. It's like you're smart. I mean you are smart, but I-I'm so shocked right now," Meg gasped.

"Shut up," Mimi turned red.

"I think it's cool how you're good at math," TK looked at her in awe.

"It's not a big deal. I just like figuring out how much I can save on things," Mimi said, still blushing.

"It's nothing to be ashamed of. Everybody is good at something," TK said.

"But only nerds are good at math, and I don't want to be a nerd," Mimi whined.

"You're not a nerd!" Meg said.

"Seriously. You act like we were going to force you to join the Mathletes," Miki shuddered.

"Ew, gross," Meg stuck her tongue out.

"We love you, even if you are good at math!" Miki teasingly said.

"Our little Mathlete," TK decided to join in on the fun.

"Stop it. It's not funny," Mimi pressed her lips together.

"Sorry. We didn't think you were going to be this upset," Meg frowned.

"Well, I am," Mimi looked down at the table.

"Sorry," Miki shrugged. "Do you want me to pick up your trays before we leave?"

"I'm fine," TK said.

"Same here," Mimi said.

"Alright then. We'll see you after school. We're heading to class now," Meg said.

"Bye," TK waved.

"Promise you'll never joke around like that anymore," Mimi said.

"What? About you being a math whiz?" TK raised an eyebrow.

"Ugh, can you not say that?" Mimi cringed.

"What's so bad about being good at math?" TK asked.

"Smart and pretty just don't mix," Mimi said.

"Said who?" TK leaned against the table.

"Look, I'd rather be pretty than smart," Mimi said.

"But you can be both. I know you're both. You're like the total package- wait, I didn't mean it like that!" TK could feel his face get hot.

"You sound like I'm a vacuum that you're trying to sell door-to-door," Mimi laughed.

"But I'm serious. You don't have to dumb yourself down to make others think you're cool or pretty. Meg and Miki still like the way you are. I like the way you are," TK said.

"You do?" Mimi timidly said.

"Of course! The new-and-improved Mimi 3000! Stylish, sleek, and smart. Who couldn't ask for a better vacuum like that?" TK teased.

"I guess you're right. Being good doesn't make me a dork. Being with TK does," Mimi stuck her tongue out.

"Did I mention, the Mimi 3000 is just as mean?" TK nudged her.

"Shut up!" Mimi pinched the skin under TK's arm.

"Oe! That hurts!" TK yelped.

"I'm just as powerful too!" Mimi grinned.

"Hey Zoe," TK awkwardly waved at her. He took off his coat and hung it in his cubby locker. He then opened his backpack and pulled out his work clothes.

"TK," Zoe smiled back as she tied her apron on.

"Long time, no see, right?" TK forced a laugh.

"Yeah," Zoe sighed.

"How's everyone doing? I haven't seen those guys in a while," TK said.

"Oh, they're fine," Zoe picked up a mop and headed to the dining area.

"That's nice," TK nodded, following Zoe.

"So how's life with you?" Zoe asked.

"Nothing too exciting," TK sprayed the countertop with cleaner.

"Oh," Zoe pursed her lips.

"Yeah," TK shrugged as he wiped the surface dry. This conversation felt so awkward, it was like watching a conversation between TK's mom and dad.

"Look, I heard what you said about us," Zoe leaned her mop against the wall.

"What?" TK's eyebrows shot up.

"Yeah, and I thought it was sweet of you," Zoe said.

"Huh?" TK was even more confused.

"I saw you stand up to Davis when he called us losers, even though we were mad at you. Thank you," Zoe said.

"No problem," TK said.

"The rest of the guys don't know, but here," Zoe handed TK a pink ticket.

"What's this?" TK looked at the slip of paper.

"It's a ticket to the film festival. It's this Saturday at 7. I don't mean to impose, if you don't want to come, that's-"

"Of course I'd come," TK interrupted.

"You will?" Zoe beamed with excitement.

"Yes," TK smiled.

"By the way, don't tell the guys. I don't think they've cooled down yet," Zoe said.

"I won't," TK said.

"Alright. I should get back to cleaning," Zoe grabbed her mop and walked away.

"Yeah," TK looked at the ticket and stuck it in his apron pocket.

"What's up, little bro? Looks like you're having some trouble there," Matt chuckled.

"I'm fine. I'm just trying to burn a CD," TK squinted at his computer screen.

"Did you make a playlist yet?" Matt checked his reflection out on a mirror decoration.

"Yeah. Now I just have to figure out how to get the music onto the CD," TK shook his head.

"Lemme see. Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin? Are you making a mixed tape for the nursing home?" Matt said disapprovingly.

"No. It's for Mimi," TK said.

"She likes this stuff?" Matt looked taken aback.

"I thought you of all people would have known that," TK turned to face him.

"No. She never said anything. I just assumed that she was into stuff like Britney Spears, Katy Perry, or some dumb shit like that," Matt said.

"Well, she isn't," TK shrugged.

"I guess you learn something new every day. Did you put the blank CD in?" Matt went back to focusing on the computer.

"Yep," TK said.

"Alright, now what you do is right-click the playlist title and it should say burn to disc. All you do is click that and it'll start," Matt instructed.

"Cool, thanks. This is the first time I've actually made a CD. I hope it turns out good," TK drummed his fingers on the table.

"Me too. Those blank discs are no joke," Matt tousled his hair.

"Odd question, but how did you and Mimi end up together in the first place? You two have like nothing in common," TK rubbed his neck, not taking his eyes off the computer screen.

"We do so have stuff in common. We...we both like music!" Matt said.

"Everybody loves music," TK raised an eyebrow.

"But we like to perform music," Matt smugly smiled. "I play in a band and she sings."

"But it's not like singing is a hobby of Mimi's, like your band is," TK pointed out.

"This is not a hobby," Matt held up his bass guitar. "It's the prelude to a career, TK."

"Sorry. Forget I said anything," TK mumbled as he went back to his computer.

"No. We're gonna keep talking," Matt crossed his arms. "My friends don't like that Mimi and I are together, her friends don't think we belong together, Dad doesn't think we belong together, and her dad is obviously against the idea as well. Sure, you weren't keen of Mimi for a while, but you never questioned our relationship...until now. So what's with the change?"

"It's nothing. I was just asking something, I didn't think you would actually take it that personally," TK grimaced.

"Nobody thinks we make sense, but I know we do. I can't explain what it is, but Mimi and I were meant to be," Matt defensively said.

"Okay," TK rolled his eyes and shrugged.

"I think you're hanging out with her friends too much," Matt slung his bass guitar on his shoulder.

"Where are you going? I thought you were going to show up to Tai's party," TK eyed the guitar case on Matt's shoulder.

"I am. I'm just going to hang out with the band mates for a little," Matt smiled.

"How did Mimi take it?" TK asked.

"She was fine with it. She said that her friends were going to pick her up anyways. I would have come along, but it's no secret her friends don't like me," Matt shrugged.

"It's all in your head. They like you," TK said.

"Thanks, but you don't have to spare my feelings. Well, time for me to get going. I'll see you at the party too, right?" Matt checked his hair out in the mirror again.

"Yep, I'll be there," TK nodded.

"Alright little bro," Matt ruffled TK's hair. "Smell ya later!"


"Ah, the CD's finished," TK sat up straight in his chair. As he stared at the computer, he couldn't wrap his head around what Matt just said. Mimi told Matt that she was going to Tai's party with her friends, but why would she tell him that when she knew Meg and Miki couldn't make it? Unless they changed their minds at the last second, TK would be the only one waiting at Mimi's house. Was there something going on between Matt and Mimi that TK wasn't picking up on? He sighed, popped the CD out of the computer and slipped it into a jewel case. It was best not to ponder it, he thought as he began getting ready for the party.

"Welcome to my wisdom tooth party! You like?" Tai eagerly said.

"It's interesting," Mimi touched her ear. Tai had rented a cosmic bowling arena and strewn tooth-themed decorations and banners everywhere.

"Congrats on your...taking out your wisdom teeth," TK awkwardly shrugged.

"Thanks! Look, there's a bunch of food in the dining area. The cake isn't here yet, but you guys better stick around for it! It's so cool," Tai grinned.

"I bet," TK nodded.

"I should get going! I have to greet more people. I don't want to be a rude host after all! Enjoy the party!" Tai said.

"Thanks," TK followed Tai. It was amazing how Tai was one of the most popular people, but he never let that get to his head.

"Mattykins!" Mimi squealed.

"Hey babydoll," Matt waved to her.

"TK, I'll be right back," Mimi touched TK's arm.

"Okay," TK stiffened.

"Don't worry, I won't be too long! Go ahead and mingle. I'll catch up to you later," Mimi said.

"Alright," TK said as he watched Mimi run over to Matt.

"Hey there! I was afraid that you weren't going to make it."

"Ahhh!" TK jumped in surprise and turned around to see Kari. "Hey, what are you doing here?"

"Well, I was invited to the party, so I decided to come. Besides, it would have been so awkward if I didn't show up, considering that my brother is the host and we still live together so...," Kari raised an eyebrow.

"Hah hah, right! Of course," TK turned red.

"You haven't been to much parties, have you?" Kari wrapped her arms around TK's bicep and leaned on his shoulder.

"No, not really...," TK shakily said. This whole situation was odd to him. He never would have dreamed of being in a party full of popular kids, and to have the prettiest girl in school right next to him was unimaginable. But here he was, living it out.

"Hmm, I remember when we all used to hang out when we were younger. I don't know what happened. It's like we all became strangers," Kari hummed.

"I was thinking the same thing!" TK broke away from Kari's hold.

"Tai invited the whole group to come to the party, but besides you, nobody else showed up. I can understand Joe and Cody not making it, but everyone else should have at least tried. I know Izzy doesn't have anything better to do with his time, so at least he should have come," Kari clenched her fists.

"Whoa, are you okay?" TK bit his lip.

"Yeah, I'm fine...," Kari took in a deep breath. "I guess I'm just mad because Izzy was like a brother to Tai. I didn't have the heart to tell Tai this, but I saw Izzy crumple up the invitation. He just stared at it, and when Tai left, he crumpled the card in his hand. Sorry I'm being such a downer. That just really upset me."

"That's okay...," TK awkwardly stared at her. Kari was upset, but TK wasn't sure what to do about it. He wanted to pull her into his arms, but she would probably think he was weird, so he did the next best thing.

"Um, could you not pat my head?" Kari ducked out of TK's reach.

"Oh...I'm so-" TK choked. He didn't realize he was patting her on the head. That's it, Kari must definitely think he's weird now.

"Don't worry about it. Why don't we get something to drink?" Kari said.

"Okay," TK stammered. Kari linked arms with him as they walked to the snack bar.

"What would you like?" the cashier droned.

"Can we get two Cokes?" Kari asked.

"Coming right up," the cashier trudged over to the soda machine and filled two cups with Coke.

"Thanks. TK, come with me," Kari grabbed the cups and nudged TK.

"Okay," TK said as he followed her to a table.

"I miss you," Kari said.

"You do?" TK raised an eyebrow.

"Of course! Remember how we used to play in the park with our brothers?" Kari let out a small grin.

"Yep. Good times," TK nodded.

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but I used to have the biggest crush on you," Kari fiddled with her straw.

"You did?" TK almost choked on his drink. He was definitely not expecting Kari to say that.

"Yeah. Tai used to tease me all the time about it too. Whenever he would make plans with friends, I always asked him if Matt was coming. I figured that if he went, you'd be there too," Kari giggled.

"Nope. Matt and I didn't live together," TK shook his head.

"Yeah, I learned that the hard and boring way. Tai must have been annoyed at me, but he always let me tag along when he and Matt hung out. I'm lucky to have a great brother like Tai," Kari said.

"Yeah. If Matt was your brother, he would have probably told you to get lost," TK chuckled.

"Lies! I can see him doing that to you, but he loves me," Kari stuck out her tongue.

"Sure...," TK jokingly smirked.

"What? Everyone loves me because I'm just so darn lovable! Even you love me!" Kari giggled.

"Huh?" TK abruptly sat up straight.

"Yeah, you love me! Admit it, you have a crush on me," Kari teasingly smiled.

"But what if I don't?" TK casually stretched his arms out and crossed them behind his head.

"If you don't admit you have a crush on me?" Kari winked.

"No. What if I don't have a crush on you?" TK smirked again.

"Then there's going to be some serious problems," Kari pretended to be miffed.

"Oh. Sucks for you then. What are you gonna do about it? I'm hearing all bark, but no bite," TK bantered. He was actually surprised at how easily this conversation was going. He was nervous at first, but as soon as he got past the initial shock of being in a party, he felt more composed. It almost felt like he was talking to Kari as a platonic friend, not a girl he was infatuated with.

"Well, I'll...," Kari paused.

"Exactly! You have nothing," TK flashed her a devilish smile.

"I do too have something! I'll... I'll take all of your hats and hide them someplace where you'll never see them again! I'm surprised you don't have permanent hat hair with all the times you wear hats!" Kari smirked.

"I do wear hats a lot, don't I?" TK looked past Kari.

"TK, are you okay?" Kari raised an eyebrow.

"Sure...," TK quietly said. Kari turned around to see what TK was looking at. Mimi stood by herself, hovering over the snack table. As she popped fruit in her mouth, she nervously scanned the room before glumly looking down at the table again.

"You should go to her," Kari said.

"Are you sure?" TK asked.

"Yeah. I want to bowl anyways. Go make sure she's okay. I'll see you around later," Kari got up from her seat and went to the bowling area.

"Thanks," TK mumbled. He picked himself up from the chair and walked over to Mimi. "Hey, is everything fine?"

"Yeah. Totally," Mimi faked a smile.

"Why don't we go somewhere less crowded? I'm not used to this many people around," TK suggested.

"Okay," Mimi sniffled as TK led her to a couch next to the coat racks. "This is perfect," Mimi sighed.

"Are you having a good time?" TK asked.

"Ugh. I can't lie to you," Mimi leaned against TK's arm. "I'm not having fun. I hate when Matt leaves me behind. Can you believe this, but Natalie interrupted me and Matt, and then she pulls Matt away from me. And do you know what Matt did? He just said 'One minute,' to me and walked off with Natalie!"

"I'm sorry," TK put his arm around Mimi as she began to sob.

"It's okay. You didn't do anything wrong. I did," Mimi blubbered.

"What are you talking about?" TK stroked her hair.

"You and Kari looked like you were clicking, and it's my fault that you're stuck here with me!" Mimi squeaked.

"Whoa whoa whoa! I wanted to be here with you. In fact, Kari wanted me to go check up on you. It's all good," TK said.

"You're the best," Mimi nuzzled her head against TK's chest. "We might not have hung out until just a couple of weeks ago, but I love how you're here for me. I swear, we spent more time together in the past couple of weeks than I spent with Matt during our entire relationship. It's funny, huh?"

"Maybe you should tell Matt how you feel. Tell him what you want out of the relationship," TK murmured.

"But how? He barely sticks around long enough for me to say hi to him," Mimi sat up.

"Clearly, you're not happy where you are right now. If you speak your mind and talk about the serious stuff, I know Matt will listen. He cares about you," TK said.

"Really? Because he sure doesn't show it," Mimi huffed.

"Well, what do you want him to change?" TK asked.

"You know what I want? I want him to be more like you," Mimi brushed the hair out of TK's eyes.

"What?" TK turned red.

"You're sweet, you're smart, funny, and I have to admit, you're kind of adorable," Mimi said.

"Ah, so now who's calling who the cute one?" TK smirked.

"I didn't say you were cute, I said you were adorable," Mimi moved closer to TK and looked up at him.

"Same thing," TK grinned, leaning in toward her face.

"Whatever," Mimi softly said. Their noses were touching, their lips barely a centimeter apart.

"Is everything okay here?" Kari stood next to the coat racks.

"Ahem," TK cleared his throat and broke away from Mimi.

"Everything's just peachy!" Mimi giggled nervously.

"It's not what it looks like!" TK blurted.

"What do you mean it's not what it looks like?" Kari raised an eyebrow.

"Uh...," TK paused.

"Oh, hey. I'm so glad I found you," Matt said to Mimi.

"You are?" Mimi asked.

"Yeah. I decided to ditch the guys tonight. I thought that maybe you and I could go out for dinner," Matt said.

"Really?" Mimi gasped.

"Yeah. It's been a long time since we've gone out on a date," Matt said.

"That's amazing," Mimi beamed.

"Then let's get going, babydoll," Matt smiled.

"Okay," Mimi grabbed her purse and held on to Matt's arm.

"Bye, guys," Matt waved goodbye.

"I'll see you around," Mimi have TK a sad look.

"Have fun," TK softly said.

"Ugh," Kari pinched the bridge of her nose.

"Are you okay?" TK asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I guess the music's just getting to my head. I think I'm going home," Kari said.

"Wait!" TK said.

"What?" Kari stopped.

"This is going to be really hard for me to say...," TK rubbed the back of his head.

"You can tell me," Kari gave him a concerned look.

"Umm...would you like...?" TK trembled.

"Would I like to what?" Kari asked.

"Would you like to go to the Spring Fling with me?" TK rapidly said.

"Sorry, but I already asked Davis," Kari pouted.

"Oh," TK blushed.

"You're a sweet boy, but I like a guy who could let loose and be silly," Kari shook her head.

"What are you trying to say?" TK looked confused.

"Don't take this the wrong way, but you're just too uptight. I think it's great that you and Mimi are hanging out more. It seems like she's pulling you out of your shell, but you can't keep clinging on to her."

"I'm clinging on to her?" TK looked at Kari in disbelief.

"Isn't it obvious? You two hang out all of the time now, it's like you're almost inseparable. You need to give her some space," Kari bit at her nail.

"Is that what she said?" TK asked.

"No, but I've been in her situation before and I know what it's like," Kari said.

"Oh," TK pursed his lips.

"Mimi's done a great job making you more social, but it's time for you to take the training wheels off and go out on your own. I really have to go. I can't take the loudness anymore. Enjoy the party, okay?" Kari rubbed the bridge of her nose and left the room.

"At least I didn't chicken out," TK sat back down on the couch. He finally gathered up the courage to ask Kari to the dance, and she said no. TK thought he was going to be more upset about being turned down by Kari, but that wasn't the case. He was more upset about the fact that she called him a Stage 5 clinger. What did she even know anyways? Kari ended up asking her Stage 5 clinger to the dance. Did TK even want to go out with Kari anyways, especially after what she said? He wasn't sure what he wanted anymore.

"Hey, babydoll, what's wrong?" Matt looked at Mimi.

"Nothing," Mimi sighed.

"Are you sure? You can tell me," Matt said.

"What where you doing with Natalie?" Mimi blurted.


"Why did you go off with Natalie and leave me by myself?" Mimi asked.

"You weren't alone. TK was with you," Matt stupidly said.

"No, he was with Kari until he saw me standing by myself like an idiot. He was about to ask her out," Mimi pressed her lips together.

"Aw, my little brother's got game," Matt grinned.

"That's not the point! If you didn't leave me, then maybe TK and Kari could have actually had fun instead of trying to keep me company. I felt bad because he left Kari alone, just so that I didn't feel lonely," Mimi crossed her arms.

"I feel horrible. If I knew that, I wouldn't have ran off on you," Matt said.

"You shouldn't ditch me in the first place," Mimi snapped.

"I thought you'd be fine because you had other friends," Matt frowned.

"Yeah, who happened to be at work," Mimi quipped.

"I'm sorry. I'm such an idiot. You probably think I'm a crappy boyfriend," Matt groaned.

"No, I don't think so," Mimi paused. She and Matt didn't spend as much time together as they did when they first went out. He would never cheat on her, but he had the attention span of a squirrel. He was a good guy, but he had a hard time focusing on things, unless it came to his music.

"It wasn't what it looked like," Matt said. "Natalie came to ask me if I could give her little brother guitar lessons. He's autistic, but he really likes to play music. I was going to tell you about that, but I guess you beat me to the punch," Matt sighed.

"Oh," Mimi blushed.

"I'm sorry that I upset you. I try to tell you everything, because honestly, I don't have anything to hide. I don't blame you for not wanting to trust me though. We barely spend time together because I'm so into my band, but I'm trying to get my priorities straight. I care about you more than you think I do," Matt said, as if he could read her thoughts.

"Yeah," Mimi bit her lip. This was the first date she and Matt have been to in a long time and he apologized for not paying attention to her. Normally, she would have been happy about that, but she wasn't sure if that was she wanted anymore.

Author's Note: I'm not too satisfied with how I wrote Matt's character. The last thing I wanted to make him look like is an asshat, but I think I ended up doing that. In my other stories, Matt is usually Tai's target for torture, and everyone's source of laughter, so I'm not sure how well I did with portraying him in a more "serious" setting. Words of reassurance would be awesome, words of "boo, you suck!" are better left for the NY Rangers team. Tell me what you think! Lots of love and candy, Lily!