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All characters belong to Watese Yuu except for a couple I made up by myself.

 

The Meeting

 

 

"There she weaves by night and day,

A magic web, with colors gay,

She has heard a whisper say

A curse is on her if she stay

TO look down on Camelot

She knows not what the curse may be

And so she weaveth steadily

And little other care hath she

The Lady of Shalott"

"What a wonderful piece of poetry" thought Daine as she made her way through the crowded school halls. She didn't even notice the other students around her and except for her friends they didn't notice her. She had just come from English where they were studying a unit of poetry and for the first time she was actually enjoying it. Also the fact that the poem seemed to remind her of her trip into the book world to become Nuriko No Miko might have helped in this case. She was then disrupted from her thoughts when her best friend Kourin, called out to her.

"Hey, Daine, what's up? You look kinda spaced out."

"I was just thinking about this poem we had to read for English. It kinda reminds me of when we went to the book world to bring Nuriko back."

"You really miss him don't you?"

"Don't you? After all you are his sister"

"Of course I do. It just seems to affect you more then it does me"

"Well I can't..." She trailed off as the tardy bell rang. "I gotta go. I'll talk to you after school if I see you. Bye"

"Bye"

Daine made her way to her next class math. "I hate math! At least it's the last period of the day. Then I can go home and wonder if I'll ever see Nuriko again."

Math class passed slowly like it usually did. Daine made it to her locker and tried to figure out what homework she had that day. She was too lazy to use an assignment notebook and even if she did, she'd be too lazy to look at it. When she finally had figured it out she left and hoped to run into Kourin. Fortunately she did.

"Hey, Kourin,"

"Oh, hi Daine, I didn't see you"

"Obviously. Now you're the one spacing out"

"Whatever. Anyway, doesn't it suck that we don't have any classes together?"

"Yes, why do you say that everyday?"

"I don't know, Just something to say."

"Okay"

"Well I have a bus to catch. I'll call you later okay?"

"Sure, bye Kourin"

Daine turned around not waiting for Kourin to respond to her. She had to walk home and wasn't looking forward to it seeing as how it was ninety degree whether outside. She lived close to the school. It was about a fifteen-minute walk. There were sidewalks but lately she had preferred the fields and forests because they reminded her of the book world. Usually she was the only person there but this afternoon she met somebody. She was walking through the short forest (and I mean short. You could see the other side of the forest from the beginning of it) when she came upon a guy reading a poem. Actually it was Tennysonís Lady of Shalott.

"Oh my gosh! Who is that? I wonder if he goes to Streamside?" She crept up on the boy leaning against the log and stood silently listening as he finished reading the poem. She stood there wondering if she should run away before he saw her of say something. While she was thinking the boy stood up and turned around as he picked up his backpack. He stood there for a moment and looked at her intently. She just stood there with a guilty expression on her face. He then turned around and left. Daine stood there for another second and then followed after the boy. She walked behind him for awhile and then attempted some conversation with him.

"Who are you?"

"Someone" He answered cryptically with an English accent.

"Well obviously" She said a little annoyed. He still didn't say anything. "Why were you reading that poem?"

"Just felt like, that's all"

"Oh. Do you go to school?"

"Yeah"

"Where?"

"Around"

"Gee, That really helps"

"I thought it would" just then a tree trunk was blocking the trail in front of him. Instead of just going under it he lifted it out of the way and threw it over to the side.

"How did you do that?" A gaping Daine asked. There's only one person I know that would be able to do that.

"I picked it up and threw it"

"Are you always this annoying?"

"I've just always really been really strong, that's all"

"Oh. Do you live near here?"

"Yeah"

"So do I" After he said nothing she asked "Don't you want to know anything about me?"

"Yeah, why are you following me?"

"I'm not following you!"

"Then why are you coming this way?"

"Well for your information, this is the way to my home too. So there. That means you're the one following me."

"I am not. I was here first. You snuck up on me."

"You were on my way home. I couldn't help it that that was where you decided to read"

"You still snuck up on me. I mean you didn't have to just stand there not saying anything"

"You knew I was there?"

"Of course"

"How?"

"I just do, that's all"

"Well why didn't you just tell me to go away or something?"

He remained silent for awhile. "I don't know" she was the silent one now. They had come to the place at the edge of the field where the path split up in two directions. One went to the right leading to one neighborhood where Daine lived. The other led to three neighborhoods. She crossed in front of the boy to the right fork and turned around to look at him.

"Are you coming this way?"

"No, I'm going on the other path." Neither of them said anything. They both seemed reluctant to leave.

"Well, see you tomorrow then" She said even thought she had no idea if she would ever see the boy again.

"Yeah, see ya" the boy said and smiled. It was then that Daine had her first inkling of suspicion. The boy had started down the path a bit and was standing in a stream of light. He had smiled for the first time since she had seen him. She thought that smile looked a bit familiar. It also made his cute looks even cuter. But what really made her suspicious was his hair. She had thought it was black, but with the sun shining on it looked purple. It can't be him" She thought and immediately dismissed the thought from her mind.

However, that night as she lay in bed her suspicions returned.

But he couldn't be Nuriko he just couldn't. I have to admit the resemblance was there and he did lift that tree but it just couldn't be Nuriko it just couldn't! Nuriko never acted like that. Nuriko was sweet and funny and never rude to me. Of course he could be a little coarse toward strangers and I would be a stranger to him in this world but when we found Hitei he looked almost exactly the same and Nuriko-- if that's Nuriko-- he looks almost completely different. But then again how many people do you know with purple hair? It's all so confusing. If only Nuriko could just have come with me when I returned to this world.

Tossing and turning all night, Daine tried to come to a conclusion on whether that boy could have possibly been Nuriko or not. The only conclusion she could come to was that she would have to find the boy again tomorrow. Although she did not realize it, she was very excited at the prospect.

********************

The next day passed by slowly for Daine. She was waiting for school to be out so that she could run out and look for that boy. Her thoughts were all about the boy and who he could be. Even though she didn't encourage it, hope was growing in her heart.

"Yo, Daine, are you okay?"

"Oh yeah, I'm fine. Just a bit preoccupied that's all."

"You've been preoccupied since we came back," Kourin said.

"But, I have an idea. How bout coming with me and Tasuki and Hotohori after school to see a movie?"

"Right after school?"

"Yeah, how bout it?"

"Um, I donít think I can"

"Come on, Daine, you need to socialize. Nuriko will turn up sooner or later"

"Yeah, but I have some really important things to do at home today, so maybe one day next week or something okay?"

"Okay" Kourin sighed.

********************

Daine ran to her locker pushing people out of her way. She didn't even stop to talk to Kourin like she usually did. She pulled the books she needed out of her locker and shoved the ones she didn't need inside not bothering to put them in neatly. She then ran out of the school and down the three blocks walking into the forest when she got there. Once there, she slowed her pace to a walk. Looking everywhere at once she walked through the forest. Then sitting against the log, facing her this time, she saw the boy. He was reading something again and looked up as she approached him. Silently ecstatic that she had found him again she waited for him to say something.

"Hello, there" He said

"Hi" Daine answered timidly

Nobody said anything for a while. Daine was about to continue on disappointed when he said

"You can sit down if you like" nodding toward the spot next to him. Daine took his invitation and sat down.

"You're more sociable today" she said

"Yeah"

"Or not"

"What do you mean? I said you could sit down"

"Oh, and Ďyeahí just makes for such great conversation"

"yeah"

"Argh, you are so annoying. I don't know why I wanted to see you again" Daine stated as she stood up and got ready to leave the clearing.

"Hey, where are you going?"

"Home"

"Why?"

"Because you're too annoying"

"I am not"

"Yes, you are"

"Am not"

"Are too"

"Am not!"

"Are too! And I'm not sticking around here to argue with you anymore. Good-bye" Daine announced stiffly and started to leave. She was stopped abruptly by the boy's hand around her wrist. "Let go of me" she said trying to break free of his hold. He wasn't hurting her, he was actually very gentle, but he was too strong for her to break his hold.

"I promise that if you stay I won't be annoying anymore."

"Really?"

"I promised."

"Why do you want me to stay?"

There was a long silence. "I'm leaving" Daine announced again. The boy's hand shot out again.

"NO, you can't leave. I'll tell you. I promised I would."

"Then tell me"

"You said you wanted to see me again, right?"

"Yeah, so?"

"Well, I wanted to see you again too"

"Why?" Daine asked as she let herself be led back to the log. The two of them sat down next to each other.

"I don't really know. You just kinda remind me of someone. I don't know who though"

"You're joking right?"

"Of course not. Why would I joke about that?"

"Because you remind me of someone too. Only I know exactly who you remind me of"

"Tell me"

"It's kinda personal"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, If I told you who you remind me of, well um, I don't think you'd like to know"

"I don't care. Maybe if you tell me, I'll remember who you remind me of"

"Okay, you remind me of Nuriko"

"Who's that?"

"Nuriko's Nuriko"

"Now who's the one who's annoying?"

"Fine, Nuriko was the guy" She mumbled the rest of the sentence.

"What? Why don't you speak in English?"

"I was speaking in English you dolt! I said that Nuriko was, well I guess you could say he was my boyfriend.

"Really? You had a boyfriend?" He smirked.

"Why is that so hard to believe?" She glared at him.

"Anyway, I remind you of your boyfriend?"

"Yeah"

"Where is your boyfriend?"

"He's not here, well he's supposed to be here but for some strange reason he's not."

"Will you describe him?"

"He was really sexy and cute"

"Can you go beyond that?"

"Of course! He was kinda short and had purple hair and was very strong and he had hazel purple eyes" She stopped and brought her face close to his to look at his eyes. They stared at each other with their faces close together for close to five minutes. "They were like yours" Daine finally managed to say, breaking the spell that had been over them.

While she had been thinking the guy had been watching her carefully.

"Why are you staring at me?"

"I'm not staring at you"

"You are too"

"I was watching you. There's a difference"

"No there's not"

"Yes there is"

"Why do you always have to fight with me?"

"Why do you always fight back?"

Daine didn't have a response for that. "You suck" she muttered.

"You're kinda cute when you pout"

Daine snapped her head up and looked at up at him and saw him laughing at her. She scowled at him.

"You're not much to look at either"

"But I though you said I look like Nuriko"

"Well, I thought that you said that I remind you of someone too. Does that mean that I remind you of someone really ugly from your past?"

"No"

"So you just think I'm just ugly then?"

"Did I say you were ugly?"

"You implied it. Anyway I don't care I think you're ugly too." She said airily.

"Was Nuriko ugly?"

"Of course not!"

"Then how can I be ugly if I look like him?"

"You look like him? I think not! You two look completely different"

"But you just said that I looked almost exactly like him"

"No I didn't"

"Yes you did"

"No I didn't. In case you weren't listening I said you have some similar features, but really, you look completely different."

"Do you always contradict yourself?"

"Always" Daine replied in the affirmative.

"Why would anyone put up with you?"

"You're putting up with me aren't you?"

"Not anymore" He replied and stood up.

"Are you leaving"?

"No. I'm just standing up and walking away, but I'm not leaving.

"Well wait for me then"

He stopped and waited for Daine to catch up to him.

"Thanks for waiting"

"Yeah"

"You're not starting that again are you?"

"No, I promised I wouldn't"

"Do you always keep your promises?"

"Do you always ask questions?"

"Do you mind?"

"Not really, I was just wondering if I was going to have to put up with all these questions every time I saw you"

"Oh, well you probably won't be seeing me again"

"I won't? Really? Yes!"

"Hey, you're not supposed to be happy about it!"

"I'm not really"

"So you do want to see me again?"

"Yeah, I guess you could say that"

"Great"

"Why does that make you so happy?"

"Itís nice to know the feelingís mutual."

They had now come to the place where the path spilt up. Daine hesitated a second before going on with the boy.

"Don't you live that way?" He asked pointing to the other path.

"No" Daine lied.

"But didn't you go that way yesterday?"

"Yeah"

"Do you have two houses or something?"

" I was visiting some people I know"

He seemed content to leave it at. "Good thing he didn't ask who I was visiting."

"Did you just move here?" Daine asked.

"Yeah, I've been here just about two weeks."

"What school do you go to?"

"Well, actually, I haven't registered anywhere yet"

"But said you went to school somewhere yesterday!"

"I did go to school somewhere. In my old town."

"But you knew what I meant!"

"yeah"

"So why didn't you just didn't tell me that you weren't registered yesterday"

"I didn't know if I could trust you?" He replied mysteriously. Daine burst out laughing.

"Are you hiding some big secret or something"

He didn't respond.

"You're just kidding right?" Daine asked a little uncertainly. He was still silent, but after a moment he burst out laughing and Daine hit his arm.

"I couldn't stop myself from laughing" he laughed.

"I don't see why you are laughing anyway. It's not like it was funny or anything"

"Sure it was. Or at least it would have been as soon as you believed me. Too bad I couldn't stop from laughing"

"I wouldn't have believed you no matter what you said. Or didn't say"

"Yes you would. You were starting to"

"How would you know anyway?"

He looked at her like 'yeah right'

"Okay, okay, so maybe I was starting to. Anyway have you picked a school yet?"

"No"

"Great! I'll help you then"

"I don't need help picking out school" He was complaining but Daine chose to ignore that.

"I already know the perfect school for you. Streamside"

"Is that where you go?"

"Yeah"

"Then it's definitely not the school for me."

"Will you ever stop being mean to me?" Daine asked no one in particular.

"It's not likely" he laughed.

"Why did I ever meet you?" Daine moaned.

"I guess it was just fate"

"So you're saying even fate has gone against me?"

"Hey, meeting me is probably going to be the highlight of your life!"

"Yeah right" Daine snorted."It's probably more like the low point"

He then turned, stopped and said, "You have to go now"

"Is it because of what I said? I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings"

"Hey, I'm not a wuss. You didn't hurt my feelings. It's just that this is where I live"

"In this apartment?"

"Obviously"

"great! I can't wait to see it"

"I thought that the routine was that the person who owned the place did the inviting." he said dryly.

"Not in my case. I always have to ask. For some reason people always seem to hesitate before inviting me in. I think that they're nervous about if I'll except or something because I'm so great and everything. So I just save them the trouble and invite myself"

"I'm sure that's the reason," He said dryly.

"Well, what else could it be?"

"Maybe they just don't want to hurt your feelings by not inviting you"

"Why wouldn't they want to invite me?"

"Maybe because your mouth moves at a mile a minute. Let me ask you a question. How do you breathe?"

"What do you mean a mile a minute? I do not talk that fast. It would me cool if I did though. And I do breathe. All the time. That's why I'm still alive, standing here in front of you."

"If I let you come in will you stop talking?"

"That's like asking me to stop breathing!" Daine exclaimed

"Okay then, bye" he turned around and started walking up to the apartment building.

"No wait" Daine shouted catching up to him. "I promise not to talk if I can help it."

"Are you sure?"

She nodded her head.

"Good now just stay that silent. Follow me"

Daine followed him into the building and into the elevator. She wanted to ask what floor he lived on but realized she would know when he punched in the number. He pushed the number 6. They got

out on the sixth floor. He led her to the staircase.

"Sorry but the elevator doesn't go to the seventh floor so we have to walk up a flight"

"That's okay! I don't mind!" Daine chirped.

"I thought that you weren't going to talk anymore. Don't answer that!" he shouted as Daine's mouth started to open. She talked anyway.

"Why does my talking bother you anyway?"

"It doesn't. It's just that the way you talk reminds me of the person you remind me of"

"Oh, do you know who that is now?"

"Nope"

"Then how can my talking remind you?"

"It's just really familiar that's all"

"Oh. I get it"

They were now on the seventh floor.

"How many rooms are on this floor?"

"Just the one I live on"

"You have the whole floor to yourself?"

"Yeah"

"Is your apartment big"

"Not really" he said as he unlocked the door. He opened the door and motioned for Daine to step inside.

She giggled. "This is the first nice thing you've done for me"

"Yeah, and it'll probably be the last one too." He said but Daine wasn't paying attention.

"You don't think this place is big?" Daine asked incredulously.

"No"

"But it's huge!"

"Well, maybe"

"There's no maybe about it" There was a shriek when Daine saw the time. "Do you have a phone?" She asked.

"It's in there," he said pointing to a room on her left.

"Do you mind if I use it?" she asked as she dialed a number.

"Would it matter if I did?"

"Hi," Daine said into the phone. She then paused to listen into the phone.

"Sorry. Will you let mom know that I'm going to be late?" She listened again.

"Hey, I said I was sorry already. Anyway since when did I have to tell you everything?"

"Well, you're not emperor anymore. And there's no need to worry. I'm perfectly okay"

"With a friend, okay?" she sighed.

"A new one"

"Because I just know okay? Well I have to go. I'll see you later maybe. Bye" Daine hung up the phone.

"You know an emperor?" the guy asked.

"It's a long story" Daine answered.

"I have plenty of time"

"It's a secret long story"

"So I can't know about it?"

"Nope, sorry. Are you going to go to Streamside?" Daine changed the subject.

"I don't know"

"Oh, you should. It's really a very good school. It has the best scores in the state and everything. Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please,please..."

"Okay, okay, just stop saying please"

"great, let's sign you up right now!"

"You want to go back to school now?"

"Is there something wrong with that?"

"Why can't I just go tomorrow?"

"Because I won't believe you unless I see you do it and you might change your mind by tomorrow .We have to go now" Daine grabbed his wrist and started pulling him out of the room. She didn't get very far.

"You're really heavy" Daine panted.

"Actually I think it's because I've been holding onto the sofa."

Daine looked behind him and saw the sofa out of place. "You're evil!"

"No I'm not," He said as he pushed the sofa back into place with one hand.

"Let's just go okay?"

"Okay"

Daine was about to step out of the apartment when the guy called out to her.

"Hey are you going to need this?" He held up her backpack.

"Oh yeah" She groaned " I forgot about that. Okay give me that evil back breaking thing they call a school bag."

"I'll carry it for you if you want" he offered.

"Oh, no, it's okay, I was just exaggerating"

"Are you sure? Because this thing doesn't weigh anything to me"

"Really?" Daine asked interestedly.

"Yeah," he said as he slipped the bag over his shoulders.

"Thanks. This is the second nice thing you're doing for me, you know"

"I must be going soft" he smiled at her and she smiled back. "Is it a long walk to the school?"

"No, it's really close to here. You just have to go through the forest and walk three blocks and you're there."

"Will take a long time?"

"It shouldn't. Why do you something to do?"

"No, nothing"

"Then why do you care?"

"I was just wondering because if I sign up there Iíll need to know how long it takes to get there"

"Makes sense" Daine agreed and then realized what he said "What do you mean if?" She cried.

"Well I havenít fully decided yet"

"But youíre coming so that means youíve decided!"

"No it doesnít"

"Yes it does"

"Uh-uh"

"Uh-huh"

"uh-uh"

"Yes it does. Youíre going to Streamside and thatís that"

"Why do you want me to go there so bad?"

"Because, youíre my friend. And Iíll be able to talk to you in school and Iíll have a reason to walk home with you, and Iíll be able to see you more. Itís a long list. Anyway, why donít you want to go there?"

"Well, itís not that I donít want to go there, itís just that Iíve never seen it and I donít know anything about it or anything. I also donít know if itís the best they offer here"

"Well, of course it is! Would I be going there otherwise? Anyway I already told you that itís the best in the city! Why are you so picky?"

"Iím not picky"

"Yes you are"

"No Iím not"

"Yes"

"No"

"Yes"

"No Iím not. Iím just making sure Iím getting the best that I can get."

"Then why did you agree to come with me to Streamside?"

"Because I have to start looking sometime."

"Well, can I go with you to the other schools then?"

"Sure, but I donít know why you would want too"

"I want to see what the other schools are like too. And to make sure you donít sign up for any other school. And to laugh in your face when you chose Streamside."

"Well, if youíre going to laugh at me then Iím not going to go there"

This statement made Daine pause for a moment.

"Okay, then, if you donít go to Streamside Iíll laugh in your face, and Iíll really start to annoy you."

"How will you annoy me if I never see you?"

"I know where you live" Daine threatened with an evil grin on her face.

"This is blackmail" he complained.

"Oooh, so you do have a brain. Now if you just picked streamside I would think you were a genius" Daine paused for a moment and then announced grandly "Welcome to Streamside"

The school was large, because it had a lot of funding. The property it was on was large too. There was a spacious football field, swimming pool, tennis courts, and track. The school itself consisted of 4 main halls. The first one had the science lab, cafeteria, band room, gym offices, and student lounge. The second had most of the math and language classes. The third had the English and other various elective classes. The last had the science and history classes. Over all, it was a very impressive school.

The two made their way into the building and walked into the main office.

"Hi, Mrs. Cotton, How are you today?" Daine asked.

"Oh, Iím fine dear, how are you?"

"Just great. I have a new student for you"

"Is this him?"

"Yes."

"Um, actually, Iím just here to get some information on the school." The boy cut in.

"So youíre new to the area and are searching for a school?"

"Yes, thatís it"

"Well, Iím glad that youíve at least decided to look at Streamside. Hereís some information about the school, and last years test scores compared to other schools. Would you like to see the school?"

"Yes, Iíd like that very much"

"Good, Daine would you mind taking him around the school?"

"Not at all"

"Good just let me give you two some visitors name tags."

The helpful secretary did what she said they would do and the two left to look around the school.

"Iíll take you to see the classrooms first okay?"

"Sounds like a plan to me"

"Good. Thatís my least favorite part of the school so we can go ahead and get it over with."

"Whatís your favorite part then?"

"The student lounge. Thatís the place where I see my friends the most and get to talk to them"

"And I know how important talking is to you" He suddenly found himself being shoved in the way of a row of lockers. " I didnít know you where that strong" he commented as he rubbed his arm.

"Thereís a lot of things you donít know about me" Daine retorted.

"I guess Iíll just have to learn them with time"

"Youíll only be able to learn them if you go to Streamside"

"Weíll see" was his only answer.

Daine spent the next ten minutes showing him the classrooms on the various halls. They were all more or less the same.

"Your classrooms are kinda small arenít they?"

"Maybe but thatís because the classes are small so that students can learn better. Anyway, Letís go see the places I like now"

"Lead the way"

She took him to the cafeteria where she pointed out the six cafeteria lines and the 350 tables.

"Now letís go to the student lounge" She said grabbing his arm.

"Are you always this impatient? I didnít even get a good look at the 350 tables!"

"Stop making fun of me. Weíre here"

It really was a nice lounge. A couple couches and big comfy chairs were positioned around the room. In the center there were library type desks for studying.

"This is really nice" He commented.

"Isnít it? But to really experience how nice it is you need to sit down"

"Is that really necessary?"

"Yes"

"Okay, but only if you sit down with me. Then I wonít feel so stupid"

"Okay, just sit down" She had led him to one of the couches. She sat down and sprawled herself over half of it.

"Hey, this is actually pretty comfy"

"What else were you expecting. Did you know they got these couches just for me."

"Just for you?"

"Yeah they had to make sure that they had the best for their bestest and perfectest and beautifulest student"

"Are you sure that they got these for you?"

"Are you implying that Iím not good enough for these couches?"

"No I just find it hard to believe that they would get new couches for anyone. So are you sure theyíre for you?"

"Well, they did come in when I was a freshman so, what other explanation could there be?"

"Were the couches really bad before they got these ones?"

"Yeah they were really horrible. They didnít want me to sit on them I guess"

"Do you always twist the truth around like that?"

"Well yeah, lifeís more fun that way. Youíll probably never hear me admit this again but I know that itís not really true. Itís just so much fun to pretend that youíre that special and important. Plus itís fun to make people believe you. Except all my real friends know that I donít really mean that"

"Oh, so itís just like a big joke?"

"Yeah, Iím glad youíve caught on. But you know what this means now right?"

"What" he asked warily.

"You have to be one of my best friends now."

"Only if youíll be mine"

"Really do you mean it?" She wasnít sure what to expect from him yet.

"yeah"

"Well then sure! A person can never have too many friends. Letís go outside now"

"Okay"

Daine led him outside and after showing him all the outside things the school had they sat down on the grassy bank overlooking the soccer field. Behind the trees which were behind the field the sun was setting.

"Itís a pretty sight, isnít it?" Daine asked.

"Yeah"

"I wish it could be like this all the time"

"What do you mean?"

"I wish that the sun was always setting. Thatís the best part of the day. All the things that have happened during the day are gone now and you can forget everything that went wrong. If you want you can remember the good things. Itís not chilly like it can be when the sun is rising and itís not hot like during the middle of the day. Usually, youíve just finished supper so your stomach and heart are content. And the beautiful picture the sun makes, contents your eyes and you can just let your mind go. Itís the time when you can think about the future because everything seems so perfect. Itís just the most perfect time of day"

"Iíve never thought of it that way. To me it was always just one of the things nature did. But the way you made it seem. I never knew my opinion could change so quickly like that just because someone described something in a new way."

"Oh, itís just one of my talents" Daine smiled at him. He took her hand in his and squeezed it grinning back at her. She squeezed his hand in return and enlarged her smile to match his. Still holding hands the two walked back home.

*********************************************

The next day, Daine hummed to herself as she made her way to her favorite class of the day, French. She loved all languages and her goal was to learn as many as she could. As she was walked into class Anya waved to her.

"Hi Daine-chan! Whatís up?"

"Nothing really" Daine grinned at her.

"You look happy today"

"Thatís because I am"

"Good. Itís been a long time since you looked so happy. I donít think youíve been this happy since we came back from the book world. I was really worried about you. I thought you would never be happy again"

"Neither did I. But now everything has changed and Iím happy again."

"Why, what happened?"

"I canít tell you right now but maybe later youíll find out" Daine replied mysteriously.

"Well whatever it is I hope it doesnít end."

"Me neither." Daine replied and then the two had to stop talking because the teacher walked in and immediately started the lesson.

********************************************

At lunch Daine was very happy and like her old self again. In the back of her mind she had the knowledge that she was going to see the boy again. They had planned to meet at the same time they had met before and in the same place too. Then they were going to see more schools for him but Daine had the feeling that he had already made up his mind and was just going through the process of looking at the other schools to satisfy his make ego. "I donít care as long as he ends up in Streamside," She thought. "But for the life of me I canít imagine why I want him to come here so bad. Iím not in love with him so it canít be that. And even if weíre best friends that Ďs no reason for me to want him to come here so badly. I mean I like going to school with all my friends but it doesnít really matter all that much seeing as how I know where he lives. I just donít get it" She sighed.

"Whatís the matter" Anya questioned her.

"Oh nothing I was just thinking about something"

"Was it Nuriko?" Anya asked sympathetically and Kourin lifted her head at the sound of her brotherís name.

"Uh, yeah" Daine lied. "Whatís wrong with me? I havenít thought about Nuriko since I met the boy. I canít believe that! From now on Iíll only think about Nuriko" Daine pledged to herself feeling incredibly guilty for not thinking about him. But it was a useless plea for two minutes later she was thinking about the boy again.

********************************************

"Ha, ha, I told you that you would pick Streamside" Daine laughed two days later. She and the boy were now walking toward his apartment after he had just signed up for school at streamside.

"Well, it is the best school here" he said reluctantly.

"And who told you that?"

"You did"

"And what does this lesson teach you?"

"What lesson?"

"The one about always listening to me because Iím always right and about wasting time when you donít listen to me"

"Oh that lesson. For a second I thought you meant a real lesson"

"It is a real lesson" Daine pouted.

"Yeah"

"Well it is. And if you donít stop being mean to me then Iím leaving."

"Well, youíd still be walking with me to get home wouldnít you?"

"Well, actually no I wouldnít. I live on the other path."

"But the other day you said that you lived the same way as me"

" I know"

"So you lied?"

"Well, duh!"

"Why?"

"I had to have some way of finding out where you live"

"Why do you want to know where I live?"

"Because I just did"

"I donít know where you live"

"Sucks for you"

"Now whoís being mean. Anyway, I want to know where you live"

"Oh, no you canít"

"Why not?"

"Because you just canít"

"Are hiding something?"

"No whatever gave you that idea?" Daine said with fake cheerfulness. "Letís go this way" She pushed him toward his apartments.

"No I want to see where you live" He stopped in the middle of the road and picked her up and put her over his shoulder.

"Hey what are you doing! Put me down! I demand to be let down! Whatís wrong with you? You donít even know where I live!"

"Thatís why youíre going to tell me"

"I am not! You canít make me"

"Iím just going to hold you then until you tell me where you live"

"You canít do that! Itís blackmail! Do you want me to die?"

"Youíre not going to die"

"Do you want to make a scene?"

"Iím not making a scene"

"Yes you are. Everybodyís staring."

"Thereís nobody here"

"Theyíre inside there homes huddling in the dark protecting their children from the psychopath whoís kidnapped me. Theyíre also calling 911 to get help for me"

"They are not. I bet they havenít even looked out of their windows."

"Ugh" Daine let out a little cry and let herself relax against him. Now that she thought about it she was actually quite comfortable for someone who was hanging with his or her head upside down. He was holding her gently around her waste. His hands were warm and felt good around her waist. She wrapped her arms around his waist. He stiffened in surprise and then relaxed.

"Will you let me up now?" Daine asked softly. In response he slid her down a bit, put an arm under her legs, and one on her lower back. "Thatís much more comfortable" Daine giggled happily. He smiled down at her.

"I start out kidnapping you and now Iím carrying you around"

"Well, I think itís a great improvement. Iím really tired," She said as she leaned her head on his shoulder. "Iím glad youíre so strong. You donít mind carrying me do you?"

"No. Youíre really light" and warm and soft and pretty... he thought to himself.

"Thatís so sweet of you to lie like that"

"What do you mean lying? Donít you believe me?"

"Usually I do. But not when you say stuff like that"

"You mean that youíre light"

"Yeah"

"But I wasnít lying"

"Iím a fat pig"

"You are not! I already told you that you're light. I should I'm carrying you aren't I? Therefore you are not fat." He stated. In response She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. Smiling he hugged her back.

"Does this hug mean you're going to tell me where you live?" he asked?

"What hug?" Daine asked innocently as he sat her down on the ground.

"The one you just gave me."

"I didn't give you a hug. I think you must have me confused with someone else"

"Like I go around carrying strange people."

"Why not? I'm strange aren't I?"

"Well, yes, but I meant strangers"

"Oh, well anyway, I think we should go home now. Somebody might see me here on this street."

"Like who?"

"Like my brother" Daine whispered.

"Wouldn't we see your brother at your house? And what's wrong with your brother?"

"I didn't mean my house silly. I meant yours. And you haven't met my brother. He's okay most of the time but sometimes he can be a bit eccentric at times."

"So you want to go back to my home"

"Uh-huh"

"What makes you think I'll let you in?"

"You will" Daine replied confidently

"How can you be so sure?"

"I just know that's all"

"I'll never understand you"

"Good, that's the way it should be"

"Well, I'm not letting you in until you tell me where you live"

"Why are you so hung up with knowing where I live?'

"I have no idea"

"I bet you just like carrying me" Daine teased. He looked at her wryly.

"Not as much as you like being carried" He said as he picked her up and put her over his shoulder again.

"You just can't do this to me again!" Daine complained.

"Oh, but you know you love it"

"I do not! I demand that you let me go!"

"Really?"

"Yes really!"

"Okay" he set her down gently on the ground.

"Thank you. That was really nice of you."

"What the carrying or letting you down?"

"Both actually"

"See, I told you, you like being carried"

"I meant the way you were carrying me before "Oh you mean like this?" He asked as he scooped her up like somebody scooping up ice cream and held her like before.

"Yeah" she sighed. "You're incredibly comfortable"

"You're pretty nice too"

"Thanks. I really hope you don't mind carrying me"

"I don't mind. I wouldnít have picked you up otherwise."

"When did you get so strong?"

"I've always been strong. Ever since I was born."

"Do you ever work out?"

"Yeah"

"Hmm, that would explain the muscles"

"Yeah that's possible"

"But they're not very big"

"Gee, thanks what a way to hurt my ego"

"Well, I didn't mean that in a bad way. I don't like big muscles anyway. Besides I thought you weren't a wuss"

"I'm not."

"Then don't let what I say bother you."

"Are you saying that I shouldn't listen to you?"

"No, I'm saying that there are times when what I say doesn't mean anything. I guess I'm just an extremely complicated person."

"You can say that again"

"So you don't understand me either?" Daine questioned with a slight smile hovering around her lips.

"Well, I don't mean to sound conceited, but I think I do. I think that you mean that just because you say something doesn't mean you mean it. You just say it because people expect you to say it."

"Did you pick up on my brainwaves or something? Perhaps you're psychic. Why didn't you tell me you were psychic? Here tell me what number I'm thinking of"

"I'm not physic! And you're really weird. How the heck am I supposed to know what number you're thinking of?" the boy complained but it was to deaf ears. Daine was waiting for him to say a number. She had selective hearing. "Okay, how about, um, 35"

Somehow Daine had managed to sit up in his arms. "You really are physic!"

"I am not. Did I guess the right number?"

"Yeah, how did you do that?"

"I picked a number and said it out loud. It's really not that hard to do"

"But how did you get the right number?"

"It must have been a coincidence"

"Let's try it again then." She watched him expectantly.

"Um, 12"

"You did it again!" She shrieked. "I don't think it's a coincidence. I think you're physic. Let's go see if you can do it for other people too."

"No, besides there are no other people here anyway"

"Well, there are more people in your apartment building aren't there?"

"Well, yeah"

"Good, I'm sure one of them won't mind helping us out for two seconds."

"Yeah, but I don't want to help us out"

"Why not?"

"Because I'm not physic"

"But you are. You got my numbers right."

"That doesn't mean I'm physic"

"Then what does it mean?" Daine challenged.

"..."

"See! Now I just want to confirm my theory."

"So, I'm your theory now am I?"

"Yes, you are" I just wish you could be more than that... wait a minute, where did that thought come from? No, I don't. I love Nuriko. Remember that. Nuriko Nuriko Nuriko Nuriko. It's just, he's so much like Nuriko. Well, not quite as nice to me but still there's so much resemblance...

"Fine"

"You'll do it then?'

"If you really want me to"

"Great. Can you run and hold me at the same time?"

"Sure, if you want to get tousled and jostled"

"Forget it. Let me down and we can run together. Are you a fast runner?"

"Not really" he answered as he set her down.

"Good I'm not either. Do you want to race?"

"You're on" The two got ready to run when Daine said

"Hold on a sec. I've got my pack-back on and you don't. You have the advantage."

"So what are we going to do about it?"

"I was hoping you would have an idea."

"Why don't you just leave it here? You can get it on your way home"

"But what if someone steals it?"

"We'll hide it."

"Someone could still get it"

"In a tree"

"That's a good idea. There's only one problem"

"What?"

"I'm afraid of heights"

"Really? Well, I'll put it up for you and I'll come back with you and get it down for you"

"Great."

The two found a climbable tree somewhat off the road and the boy climbed up and set the backpack on a limb where it would be concealed by the leaves.

"Okay now we can race," Daine said as she dusted off her hands.

"Why are you dusting off your hands? I'm the one who did all the work"

"That's why I was doing it. I didn't want you to have to do anymore work" Daine answered with wide-eyed innocence. Then she laughed. "I love being me"

"That wasn't even funny"

"Sure it was. I thought it was hilarious"

"Yeah well you're just plain weird"

"You'll get used to it. On your marks, get set, go!" Daine shouted and ran off before the boy was ready.

"Cheater! Come back here and start again. I get a penalty run or something!" He shouted as he chased after her. All he got back in response was the laughter that was music to his ears.

As the boy finally reached his apartment he saw Daine sitting on part of the brick wall that lined either side of the walkway. The red sun was setting directly behind framing her head. Her cheeks were flushed from the exercise and her eyes were lit with laughter. She's as beautiful as an angel he thought and for a moment forgot that he was supposed to be angry with her.

"You cheated" he accused her while catching his breath.

"Didn't I tell you that we were supposed to leave early? It must have slipped my mind." She opened her eyes wide with pretended innocence.

"Yeah right. You just knew that you wouldn't win if we raced fair."

"That's not true!"

"Yes it is"

"Oh yeah? I challenge you to a rematch then" Daine said as her temper flared. The sun behind her made her look slightly demonic as her eyes flashed.

"You still won't win"

"Just try me!"

"I will. After I'm rested."

"Anyway we still need to test your physic abilities while we're here" Daine remembered suddenly.

"You're not still hung up on that"

"Yes I am. And you better do it to or else"

"Or else what? You can't do anything to me"

"I'll never ever speak to you again. Or even see you again. I'll switch schools" she was still steaming.

"Isn't that taking it a little far? Okay okay, I'll do it" He agreed when Daine shot him a look. "Let's go"

"Great" Daine instantly cheered up. She went up to the first door she came to and knocked on it not waiting for the boy. "Hi" she started to say as the man opened the door. As he opened the door Daine could see that there was a party going on behind him. It looked like it was all a bunch of middle-aged drunk men. "Um, excuse me for bothering you but could you please help me and my friend with something for two seconds?"

"Oh we'll help with something" The man sneered, grabbed her, pulled her in and shut the door behind him.

"Oh, thanks, but you see you left my friend outside..."

"We don't need your friend." The man grinned foolishly at her and took a walked toward her until he was right next to her, too close for comfort. The other men laughed.

"Oh well then I'll just leave then. Don't want to interrupt your party or anything." Daine walked quickly to the door, but the man followed her.

"You won't be interrupting anything" he said and then grabbed her and tried to kiss her.

"Ewww. pervert. What are you doing?!" Daine asked and ducked away from him.

"Just stay still and it will all be painless" the man grunted as his grip tightened.

"Um, will you please let go of me so that I can go?" Daine pleaded now scared.

"Not until I'm through" he laughed/grunted and leaned in to kiss her again.

"Let go of me!" Daine shouted.

"Not yet. I haven't even began."

"And you're not going to" Daine retorted.

"That's what you think" he was starting to get mad.

Maybe if I can just keep him talking I can escape. Why didn't I wait for him?

"No, that's what you think." Daine aimed a kick straight for his no-no spot. Unfortunately, she missed.

"You're going to pay for that!" the man announced. He pushed Daine up against the wall. With nowhere to run Daine went through with her last resort. She screamed bloody murder. The man simply laughed.

"That's not going to help you. I can silence you" The man grinned and for the third time tried to kiss her. *BOOM* the door to the man's apartment fell to the floor. The boy was standing in the doorway. He looked around to see where Daine was for he had heard her scream. Thank you God Daine prayed. When he spotted her and the man a very angry look came over his face. With an effort to control his anger he walked up to the man and without any trouble removed the man from Daine very gently so that he would not hurt her. Daine had never seen the boy so angry before. She was a bit scared so she stayed where she was and rubbed her arms where the man had grabbed her. The boy turned toward her and asked

"Are you okay?" his voice was soft and full of concern. She nodded yes to his question. "Good, get out of here. Wait for me outside" He ordered. His voice now betrayed some of his anger. She left quickly not wanting to see what the effects of his anger would be. She ran out of the apartment and outside, sitting down on the same brick wall she had sat on earlier.

Back in the apartment the boy turned to face the man

"What the heck were you doing to her?" he asked his voice escalating with every word.

"Um, nothing, we were just playing"

"Yeah right" the boy snorted rolling his eyes.

"Yeah, well what are you going to do about it, boy" The man sneered at him as his buddies came up behind him to support him in the fight they all knew was going to happen.

"This is going to be fun," The boy said with a determined smile on his face.

"You'll never going to beat all of us little boy so I suggest that you walk out now before we do something you're going to regret."

"Oh, I'm not leaving though you might wish I was and I'm definitely not going to lose"

"Well, can't say I didn't warn you"

The man through a punch at the boy which he easily blocked. He continued to block all of the man's punches. Finally getting bored he threw his first and only punch. It knocked the man out cold. Then his friends came after the boy and none of them got off the floor for a while after coming in contact with his fist.

"What a sad bunch of men" he said and left to go and meet Daine outside. When he came out he saw Daine sitting be she on the brick wall like before. Only this time she wasn't smiling and laughing. He went up to her and asked, "Are you okay? Did they hurt you?" his voice was full of concern and something else too but Daine couldn't place what it was. She nodded her head yes. "Are you sure? Because if they did I could go back there and knock there heads off or somethi--" He had the breath knocked out of him because Daine had all of a sudden thrown herself at him, wrapping her arms around his waist and started to cry. He slid his arms around her back and gently rubbed her back in soothing motions. "Shh, it's okay" he whisper to her as she cried against his chest. When she had finally stopped crying she said

"Thanks" It was simple but it was enough. The boy wanted to say that he would do anything for her, but didn't think it would be appropriate so instead he said, "It was no problem. Anytime you're attacked by thugs, just scream and Ill take care of them."

"All I have to do is scream?" Daine asked a little bit more like her old self now that she had stopped crying.

"Yup, that's all"

"Thank you so much. I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't come" Daine thanked him again. She was close to tears again.

"Don't even think about it" he commanded her and hugged her even tighter. She snuggled against him for comfort and let out a long sigh full of confusion, scaredness, and... happiness.

**********************************************

"I have a surprise for you Kourin-chan" Daine was saying over the phone.

"Ooh, really? I like surprises. What is it?"

"If I tell you then it wouldn't be a surprise"

"Good point. Anyway, when do I get my surprise?"

"Um, well it's not really for you. It's really just something that will surprise you. An you'll see it tomorrow at school"

"Cool, I can't wait"

"Me neither. Well, I gotta go and call Anya-chan now and tell her okay?

"Sure, bye"

"Bye" Daine hung up the phone, picked it up again and dialed Anya's number.

"Hi, this is Daine. May I please speak to Anya?"

"This is she. Hi Daine what's up?"

"I just wanted to tell you that tomorrow at school there's going to be a surprise."

"For who?"

"Well, I guess you could say for you and the rest of the gang. But it's not really for you. It's just that when you see it you're going to be really surprised.

"Well, it sounds kinda exciting. I'll make sure to be at school early but I have to go now. Homework."

"Yeah, me too. Bye"

"Bye" The two hung up and separately went to their rooms. Anya sat down to do her homework and while it looked like Daine was doing the same thing, all her thoughts lingered on yesterday and what had passed. After her scare with the men, she had calmed down some in the boy's arms. He had then walked her to where her backpack was and then went home when he was sure that she would be okay. He hadn't wanted to leave her but she was still adamant about him not knowing where she lived. "Not until you meet my brother at school," she had said. They had agreed to meet at the log in the forest where they had first met. Daine was nervous on how her friends would accept the boy and what they would think of her being friends with him. She hoped they wouldn't think that he was a replacement for Nuriko or that she didn't love Nuriko anymore. The boy is just my friend. It's Nuriko I love" She told herself but each day she said it with less and less conviction.

*******************************************

Daine walked up the well-trodden path into the forest hoping that the boy would already be there in the appointed place. She turned a corner and saw him sitting up against the log just like he had before. Her face lit up into a huge grin. "Hey" She called out.

"Hey" the boy responded while getting up.

"Ready for the first day of school?"

"As ready as I'll ever be"

"Great. I can't wait for you to meet all my friends."

"And your brother?"

"Yeah, you get to meet him too don't you?"

"That's what you said yesterday."

"Well, yeah and I meant it too. It's just like I said before. He can be a little eccentric at times"

"Like how?"

"Like you'll see" Daine grinned at him.

"You're so impossible"

"Really? That's always been my goal in life" she started laughing.

"That wasn't even funny" he asserted.

"Sure it was. Anyway we need to be getting to school if we don't want to be late."

"How much time do we have?"

"About twenty minutes"

"Isn't that enough time?"

"Yeah, but I want you to meet some of my friends before class starts. Plus we need to pick up your schedule first."

"Right, I had forgotten about that. Let's go"

"That's what I've been saying. So are you excited?" Daine asked as the two walked toward school.

"As excited as I can be about starting a new school, I guess"

"I hope you don't have any classes with my brother. What kind of classes are you taking?"

"Required ones"

"NO, I mean like honors, advanced or regular?"

"Oh, honors"

"That's not good"

"Why not?"

"Cause hitei's taking honors too"

"What is so bad about your brother?"

"You'll find out soon," Daine said. The two walked toward school talking about it all the way there.

************************************************

Kourin and Anya were hiding behind some bushes waiting for Daine to come with the surprise. They had binoculars around their necks so that they could spot her a long way off. Anya was now peering through hers.

"There she is!" Anya shrieked all of the sudden.

"Where, where? Can you see the surprise?"

"Over there" Anya pointed. "She doesn't look like she's carrying anything. But wait! There's a guy walking next to her. And they're talking! A lot! And I think he looks like Nuriko!"

"Nuriko! My brother? Is it him?" Kourin asked as she finally spotted the two. "Oh my gosh! It does look like Nuriko. I guess that's why she's been so happy lately. Do you think that's what the surprise is? But she really should have told me if she had found my brother. I mean I love him too"

"Let's go find out," Anya said as she jumped up out of the bushes and ran toward the two.

"Wait for me!" Kourin shouted as she chased Anya.

*************************************************

"So I'll show you where your first class is then"

"Sure"

Daine and the boy were still talking about school when they hear a shout.

"Daineeeee" shouted Anya as she ran up to her.

"Anya?" Daine asked

"It's me. Who's this? Is it...?" Anya asked staring at the boy.

"Why don't you talk to him and find out?" Daine asked wryly as she noticed Kourin arriving as well.

"Hi Kourin!"

"Hi Daine." She walked up to the boy and peered into his face making him uncomfortable.

"Um, can you please get out of my face?" he asked and Anya and Kourin both gasped together

"He has an English accent!"

"Then he's not..." Anya said to Daine, disappointed for her friends.

"Well who is he then?" Kourin demanded.

"He's my friend" Daine defended him. "Right?"

"Um yeah"

"What do you mean um? Of course you are! Are you saying you don't want to be my friend anymore?"

"Of course not. I'm just a bit um overwhelmed"

"Oh okay. And you better stop saying um. Teachers don't like it"

Kourin and Anya had been watching the whole conversation with interest. They gave each other sly looks and nodded.

"So, what grade are you in?" Anya asked the boy.

"12th"

"OH, you're in the same grade as Hotohori. He's really cool. You'll like him"

This statement caused the boy to send Daine a questioning look. Her answering look told him that he'd just have to wait and see. "I want to meet this Hotohori guy," he said.

"Oh sure, you can meet him right now if you want. He's in the student lounge. Or at least that's where he was last. Oh, I'm Kourin be the way."

"I'm Anya,"

"Nice to meet you" he said.

"Hmmm" Anya agreed in the toneless way that she does. "Well, I have to go".

"C'mon, you have to meet the gang" Kourin said liking the boy even though he wasn't Nuriko. She grabbed him by the arm and started pulling him toward the school building. He looked over his shoulder at Daine, a bewildered look in his eyes. Daine laughed at him and started after him and Kourin.

***********************************************************

"So what do you think of all my friends?" Daine asked the boy as she walked him to his first class.

"They're kinda, well strange, you know what I mean?"

"Are you saying you don't like my friends?"

"No, I like them a lot. They're really nice. They're just kinda strange and really hyper. Especially Anya"

"Yeah, but you'll get used to it."

"It's just too bad that your brother wasn't in the student louge anymore"

"Yeah, what a shame, but let me see your schedule. Maybe you have some of the same classes." Daine looked over his schedule when he handed it over to her. "You guys actually have kinda a lot of classes together. You have social studies, science, math, and French together."

"So I'll be meeting your brother today?"

"Unfortunately, yes"

"Why do your friends like your brother and you don't?"

"Its not I don't like him. It's just that well, first of all my brother's really cute. Also he's really nice. To girls. And he can be nice to guys. Just not guys that hang around me."

"OH, you mean your brother's one of those really protective types?"

"Yeah, he's really big on being protective"

"Maybe I shouldn't say anything to him then"

"NO, go ahead and talk to him. Just don't tell him that you know me. Maybe you two will like each other. Let me see your schedule again" Daine held out her hand again."You have the same lunch as Hotohori too. That means you have the same lunch as me. Iíll look for you in the cafeteria then at lunch okay. This is you class."

"Sure, I'll see you then. Hey do you know if this teacher is nice?"

"Mrs. Gafrey? Sure she's really nice. Or at least that's what Hotohori says."

"Is he in this class?"

"No, he has it at a later time. Anyway, the bells going to ring soon and I don't want to be late."

"Yeah, sure. Well, I'll see you later then. Thanks for helping me find it"

"OH sure, no problem. Bye"

"Bye" he disappeared into the classroom and Daine walked down the hall and into her class.

****************************************************

Daine heard raucous laughter coming from down the hall. She was standing outside the lunchroom waiting on her friends. Anya and Kourin had been waiting with her but then went in to save some seats when the lunchroom started to fill up. She turned her head toward the laughter and her eyes almost popped out of her head. The people who were laughing were her brother and the boy. She watched them walk closer. Hitei was talking and the boy was nodding his head along. Then they both burst out laughing again. I had wanted them to get along but this was way beyond my expectations! Daine thought. She waved at Hitei when she thought he spotted her. He had.

"Daine" Hitei greeted as they walked into the lunchroom. "I want you to meet my new friend." he motioned to the boy. He then leaned over and whispered in her ear so that no one else could hear. "Iíd almost think this guy was Nuriko, except that he has an English accent. But the resemblance is just uncanny" Hitei straightened up and said, "This is my little sister, Daine. Sheís pretty cool for a little sophomore"

She shoved Hitei into a table. "Thatís not funny" She stated. She glanced over at the boy. He was watching with an amused look on his face. "What are you looking at?" She asked him annoyed.

"Oh nothing" he said looking away. She broke into a smile and said:

"Címon, letís go and buy lunch." She grabbed his arm and quickly disappeared so that her brother and friends wouldnít be able to find them. She wanted some time to speak to him alone.

"So, what do you think of my brother?" Daine asked.

"Heís really cool. I donít see why you kept saying he was strange"

"Maybe itís because heís my brother. But I still think that if he knew how much time we had been spending together he would have acted differently toward you. He doesnít know that we know each other right?"

"Right, I havenít told him."

"Good, I donít want him to know"

"Why not?"

"I like to have secrets from him. Itís funny to watch him when he discovers Iíve been keeping them from him." She giggled. "Anyway, how has your day been?"

"Itís been cool. But everybody keeps asking about my accent."

"Well, itís not everyday here somebody talk the way you do"

"Thereís nothing wrong with the way I talk!" he asserted.

"I didnít say there was. Iím just saying that you donít hear it everyday around here. Personally," she started to say her face spreading into a wide grin "I think itís really sexy." She burst out laughing as the boy blushed bright red.

"Thatís not funny"

"Then why are you blushing" she teased him further.

"Iím not blushing" he defended himself.

"Iíve never seen anyone turn so red so fast in my life" she giggled.

"Wait till your brother hears what you said to me" he suddenly thought of a way to get Daine back.

"Youíre not going to tell him!" Daine exclaimed her eyes opened wide.

"Yes I am"

"Well, Iíll just deny it. Who do you think heíll believer, me, his sister for sixteen years or you, someone he just met today?"

"I donít know. Who does he listen to friends or sisters?"

"Um, well, actually... it really depends on the circumstances I think"

"So he really might believe either one of us?"

"Yes, but heíll definitely be inclined to believe me. I mean like I said earlier he did just meet you today."

"Well, I guess weíll just find out"

"No! You canít tell him I said that. I mean what will he think of his little sister? I mean he still thinks that Iím innocent and everything."

"You mean youíre not?" he asked raising his eyebrows.

"I didnít mean like that. I just meant that he doesnít know quite how far my relationships have gone. Not that Iíve gone all the way or anything. But I really donít think that he thinks that we went past hand holding."

"Oh, so when I tell him heíll be really shocked then?"

"Yes! Which is exactly why you canít tell him. Please?" she whispered the word and opened her eyes as wide as they would go. He was powerless against those beautiful soulful eyes.

"I wonít tell him" he reassured her "as long as you donít say that kind of stuff anymore"

"Well you have to admit it was funny" she said Not to mention true...

"No it wasnít. Iíve told you before. Things you think are funny are just not funny to other people. You have a weird sense of humor."

"Thatís not a very nice thing to say to someone as cute as me"

"Now youíre being self-centered again." he complained. His thoughts were I wish I could agree. She is really cute.

"Hey, speaking the truth is not being self-centered"

"Yeah right"

They were through the line now and were making their way toward the table their friends were sitting at. Anya, Kourin, and Hitei had gotten into a shorter lunch line.

"Hey, where did you two disappear to anyway?" Hitei asked a bit annoyed.

"We thought you were behind us" Daine lied very easily to her brother as she sat down across from him. The boy had to sit down next to her as it was the only spot left.

"Did you two get along?" Hitei questioned.

"Great! I feel like weíve been friends already for oh say maybe two weeks?" Daine said looking at the boy out of the corner of her eye. He was smiling.

"Really? Iím surprised. I thought it would have taken you longer to become friends."

"No, I think weíre just extremely compatible" the boy said playing along with Daine. She nodded her head as he spoke, smiling at the joke and at fooling her brother.

"Well, Iím just glad that you two get along so well" Hitei said. Daine couldnít help it. She burst out loud. The boy looked like he was going to join her in a couple of seconds. Hitei looked at them strangely. "Whatís so funny?" he asked. Daine laughed even harder and the boy joined her. They look just like Nuriko no Miko and Nuriko. I havenít seen Daine this happy since she was Nuriko no Miko. Hitei thought.

"Hey guys" Kourin said interrupting Hiteiís thoughts. "Did any of you hear about the party going on tonight?"

"Thereís a party tonight?" Anya asked perking up. She loved parties.

"Yeah at John Smithís house. It starts at seven and lasts until everybody leaves. It sounds like fun. Do you guys want to go?"

"Sure!" Anya exclaimed. Daine looked at Hitei. As her older brother she always had to ask him for permission. He answered for both of them.

"Daine and I will be there" He affirmed.

"Are you going to take me there?" Daine inquired. They sometimes went separately.

"Yeah, unless I can get a date."

"With your looks that shouldnít be too hard" Daine laughed.

"Yeah, but finding a girl this late will be really hard."

"Good point. How about you? Are you going to come?" Daine asked the boy.

"I donít think so"

"What! Why the heck not?"

"Well Iím new here and donít really know anybody here"

"So? You know me and Hitei and Kourin and Anya. Thatís a lot"

He gave her a look. "Okay okay maybe itís not a lot but it still counts. You have to come. How will you ever meet people if you donít go anywhere? You have to make an effort."

"Yes, I agree with my sister" Hitei said.

"But no oneís going to dance with a stranger"

"Then Iíll dance with you! And so will Anya and Kourin right?" Daine said looking at her friends for their agreement.

"Sure" they said together.

"See, youíll have people to dance with. Now you canít say no."

"Yeah and if they donít dance with you, I will" Hotohori added and everyone started to laugh. Daine looked over at the boy and caught his eye. He nodded reluctantly and Daine broke into an even larger grin.

******************************************************

"Where is he!" Daine demanded of her brother later that evening.

"He said he would be here and he will" Hitei assured her.

"But itís already 7:30! He should be here by now. Itís very rude to keep me waiting like this."

"Dee-chan, he is new to this area. Perhaps he got lost. Anyway, why do you care so much? You donít like him, do you?"

"Who me?" Daine scoffed as she blushed bright red. "Of course not. Iím surprised you would even mention that. You know Iím in love with Nuriko"

"Iíve been meaning to talk to you about that. Donít you think that if Nuriko was coming he would be here by now? Itís been almost two months. You have to face it Dee-chan. Heís not coming here"

"How could you say that to me?" Daine gasped. "Donít you have any faith in Nuriko at all? Didnít he open the cave even though he was dying? He never let anyone down and he wonít now either. I know it. Itís just a matter of time" She wiped away a tear that had trickled down her cheek.

"Maybe he didnít know that he couldnít come. Maybe it was beyond his power."

"No, I donít believe you Hitei. Nuriko will be here. He will. Just wait and see."

The two siblings stood in silence for awhile, Hitei not sure how to placate his sister. Out of the blue she asked, "Do you know what kind of a car he drives?" She asked.

"No"

"Do you think itís that cute red sports car driving by slowly?"

"Maybe, I really donít know"

"Gosh, Hitei, for an emperor you really are helpless" Daine joked and Hitei knew that his little sister was okay. She then peered at the car and then exclaimed "Itís him, Itís him. He has a really cute car" She then ran over and started waving like mad at the car. The boy saw her waving and found a parking spot. He then jogged over to where they were standing.

"Werenít able to find a date?" he asked of Hitei.

ĎNo, they all already had dates. But they all promised to save a dance for me."

"Donít forget you owe me a dance too. Both of you" the boy joked and they all laughed as they made their way inside. Once they were inside Hitei went off to see if he could find a girl that wasnít occupied. The boy and Daine found a spot where they could talk for awhile while they waited for Hitei to come back.

"I wanted to ask you something," The boy said to Daine.

"What?"

"Why do you call your brother Hitei and everybody else calls him Hotohori?"

"Oh, Hiteiís his real name. I guess you could kinda say he got it changed. Anyway, most people call him by his second name. Actually everybody but me. I guess you could say I donít like to follow rules."

"Oh, So I should call him Hotohori?"

"Yeah, he usually gets mad at people who call him be his real name. Well, everybody but me. Now I have a question for you. Where did you get such a cute car?"

"Do you like it?í

"Yeah, itís really cool"

"Thanks, My parents got it for me as a going away present."

"Really? Thatís so cool. My parents would never do that for me."

"Yeah well" he shrugged. Obviously the subject was making him uncomfortable. Luckily, Hitei came just then.

"Werenít you able to find anyone to dance with?" Daine asked.

"No, they were all already dancing"

"Oh poor brother. Do you really want to dance?"

"Whatís the point of coming to a dance if you donít dance?"

"Then come on" Daine grabbed her brotherís hands and pulled him onto the dance area. The boy found a place where he could sit down and watch them at the same time. Actually, he was only watching Daine. He watched as she and her brother boogied together. He admired the way her long hair swept around her back and her graceful movements. He was overwhelmed by the desire to dance with her. Iíve never seen anyone so beautiful before He thought. However, he had to wait until she finished dancing with her brother. Which was actually quite soon because one of the girls who had promised to save a dance for Hitei came up to him and asked him to dance. Of course he went with her because any brother would rather dance with a cute girl then with his sister. Will she want to dance with me? The boy wondered. He watched her from where she sat. She waved Hitei off and started looking around the room. When she spotted the boy she smiled at him and waved him over. Slowly letting a smile creep up on his face he made his way toward her.

"Will you dance with me?" Daine asked.

"Sure" He said and grabbed her hand pulling her further onto the dance floor.

"Where are we going?" Daine asked.

"Youíll see"

"Why must I always play twenty questions with you? Are we leaving?"

"No, I thought you wanted to dance"

"I do. I love dancing"

"Me too"

"Really? Are you any good?"

"I like to think so"

"I bet Iím better" she teased.

"You wanna compete again?" he grinned.

"Sure"

"Just as long as you donít start without me this time"

"I really canít in dancing."

They were now next to the deejay. The boy caught his attention and whispered something in his ear. The deejay nodded his head.

"Okay, yíall listen up. Weíre going to have a little dance competition now. All couples who wanna dance can dance. The last couple still dancing wins. Oh yeah. And weíre gonna throw in a couple of ballroom dancing songs. So make sure you know how to dance those"

"Hey what did you do?" Daine asked the boy.

"I asked him if he would arrange a dance competition. So that we could compete."

"But I thought we were going to compete against each other not against other couples. Anyway who are we going to dance with now?"

"Ourselves. Unless you donít want to dance with me"

"No, thatís not it" Daine hurried to assure him and then blushed.

"Then whatís the problem?"

"I was just making sure that you wanted to dance with me"

"Youíre the only person I know here"

"Thatís not true! You know Kourin and Anya"

"But I only met them today. Iíve known you for two weeks"

"Thatís not that long"

"It seems like forever" He said and then blushed.

Daine let a slow smile spread over her face. "It does, doesnít it?" She grabbed his arm and pulled him onto the dance floor "Címon lets dance"

After about ten minutes a slow song came on. Daine looked into the boyís eyes to see if he would mind slow dancing. His eyes let her know that he wanted to. They closed the space between them and slowly swayed to the music.

I havenít been this happy in a long time Daine though as she rested in his strong arms.

I could hold her forever the boy thought as he breathed in the scent of her hair.

After the song ended neither of them wanted to ruin the mood by talking. Instead the just held hands and danced slowly to a fairly slow song but one that wasnít completely slow. However, Hitei broke the mood anyway.

"Hey guys, Daine I just wanted to let you know that I canít take you home. Iím going to be taking Cindy home and well"

"I understand" Daine helped her brother.

"Will you be able to get a ride home?"

"Yeah, Iím sure either Kourin or Anya will be able to give me ride"

"Iíll give you a ride" the boy offered.

"Really? You mean Iíll be able to ride in your cute sports car? You wonít mind?"

"Yes, yes, and no"

Hitei watched the interlude with interest. It was obvious that the two liked each other. He wondered when they would realize it. He let himself have a small smile.

"Well Iím going to go now then. Have fun you two"

"Bye Hitei" Daine called out after her brother. Daine turned to the boy.

"Do you have a watch on?"

"Yeah"

"What time is it?"

"9:30"

"Wow itís that late already? I canít believe it. Anyway, Do you want to get something to eat or drink? Iím kinda hungry"

"Sure"

"The two walked off the dance floor and made their way to the buffet table. They each had a slice of pizza and got some coke.

"Letís find some place where we can sit down." Daine suggested. The boy nodded his agreement. They walked around the place until they found Kourin and Anya sitting at a table. Neither of them had boyfriends currently so they had come together and danced with different boys. They are resting at a table now. Daine and the boy walked over to the table. "Hey guys"

"Hi Daine! Whatís up?"

"Nothing really. We were just dancing and then I got hungry but really we were wondering if we could sit down here while we eat."

"Oh sure, nobodyís sitting here" Anya said.

"Thanks" Daine said and immediately sat down and stuffed the pizza in her mouth. Everyone stared. "Sorry, I havenít had any dinner so Iím really hungry. Iíll be normal in a second" She blushed. The boy put the pizza up to his mouth and took a tiny bite chewing in exaggerated slow motion.

"Thatís not funny" Daine complained once she had finished swallowing.

"Yes it is" he replied laughing.

"No itís not!"

"Actually it really is" Kourin came in on the boyís side.

"And you Anya? Do you think itís funny too?" Daine asked.

"Well..."

"So now everybodyís against me?"

"Looks that way doesnít it?" the boy asked.

"If Hitei was here he would agree with me" Daine asserted.

"But heís not here so he doesnít count" Kourin said.

"You people are all mean" Daine pouted.

"Oh, come on Daine, weíre just kidding" Anya said.

"Iím not," the boy said. Daineís fist connected with his arm. Hard. "What was that for?" He asked as he rubbed his arm. "I was kidding too."

"Then you should have been a big boy and admitted it" Daine answered him sweetly.

"Iíll remember that next time"

"That might be a good idea" She smiled a genuine smile.

"Do you wanna go dance some more?" he asked her.

"Are you done eating?"

"Yeah"

"Then sure, letís go"

Kourin and Anya watched them leave. Thoughts similar to those that Hotohori had had earlier ran thorough their heads.

Daine and the boy spent the rest of the evening dancing. Around 11:00 Kourin and Anya found them on the dance floor. They were slow dancing.

"Hey guys" Kourin spoke to them. They continued to slow dance. "Guys? Are you listening?" Anya walked up to them and tapped on the boyís back. He jerked in surprise and jerking Daine in the process.

"Oh, hi guys!" Daine said. Kourin noticed that they didnít let go of each other.

"Wow, you guys actually responded.

"What do you mean?" Daine questioned.

"Well we kept calling out to you and you guys just continued to dance. You looked pretty into it" Kourin commented slyly. Daine and the boy blushed bright red.

"Well, you have our attention now so what did you want?"

"We just wanted to let you know that we were leaving."

"Now? What time is it?"

"Around 11:30"

"Itís that late? It doesnít seem that long"

"Well, anyway we have to go. See you tomorrow or whenever" Anya and Kourin left.

"Maybe we should leave too. Iím getting pretty tired. I mean only if you want to" Daine suggested to the boy.

"Thatís fine with me. Iím pretty tired too." They walked off the dance floor neither one of them noticing that they were still holding hands. They walked out into the cold night air. The boy led her out over to his car. He opened the door for her so that she could get in.

"Thank you" Daine said.

"No problem." He closed the door and walked over to the other side. He got in and started the engine.

"Iím really glad you came to the party tonight"

"Me too. I had fun tonight."

"So did I" Daine was glad it was dark so that he wouldnít be able to see her blush. They spent the rest of the ride in silence. Then the boy pulled into his apartment building parking lot.

"I donít live here" Daine stated.

"I know, but you wonít let me know where you live"

"Oh well that was only before you met Hitei. You can know now."

"You didnít want me to meet your brother?"

"Kinda. I wanted to make sure that he would like you so I had to wait until he met you."

"I donít get it"

"Thatís okay. I do and thatís all that matters" Daine said as she patted his arm.

"So you want to tell me where you live?" he asked as he started his car.

"Oh, you donít have to drive me. Iíll walk."

"By yourself?"

"Yeah"

"Iím not letting you go by yourself. Maybe one of those old guys is out or something."

"Why would someone want to walk around at this time?"

"With weirdoís like them who knows. Anyway, címon if weíre going to go"

They climbed out of the car and started walking down the street toward the place where the path split up. It was cold at this time of night and Daine was only wearing spaghetti strapped dress. She started to shiver. The boy noticed and put his jacket around her shoulders.

"Oh, thanks I was really starting to get cold" Daine said "But wonít you get cold?"

"No, Iíll be fine. Iím wearing long sleeves."

On an impulse and as a gesture of thanks Daine reached out and grabbed his hand and squeezed it. In response the boy put his arm around her shoulders. Daine snuggled up to him. They walked together not noticing that they missed the part of the path where it split up. When the boy finally realized that they had missed it they were in the small clearing in the middle of the woods where they had first met.

"Why did you stop?" Daine asked. Then she realized where they were. "Nevermind. I guess we missed it."

"Yeah, weíll have to go back. Funny how we ended up here though."

"What do you mean?"

"This is where we first met"

"Yeah, that is kind of funny"

"Itís my favorite spot in the whole world," he said.

"Why?"

He blushed. "Because...itís where I first met you" He stared into her eyes. Her eyes were open wide and there was a kind of fear on her face. But then her face relaxed and she smiled ever so slightly. Their faces came closer together until their lips touched. They kissed softly at first but then harder and more passionately. When they stopped for air the boy whispered "Dee-chan"

"What did you say?" Daine demanded softly.

"Dee-chan. Dee-chan" he repeated. And then he realized what it meant. "Dee-chan?" he asked wonderingly.

"N..Nuriko?" Daine whispered hardly able to believe it. But only two people called her that. Her brother and... Nuriko.

"Dee-chan? Is it really you?"

"I think I should be the one asking that question. Tell me the truth. Are you Nuriko?"

"I..Iím, It is me"

"But, but, how? Nuriko didnít have an English accent"

"I donít know how that worked out. But itís me. Iím here in the real world. I finally remember"

"What do you remember?" Daine asked still unable to let herself believe it.

"Everything. The book world. Kourin, Anya, all the Nuriko no seishi. All the suzaku seishis. And you" Nuriko said lifting a hand to touch her face. Daine backed off.

"How can I be sure?" she asked him.

"Iíll show you" Nuriko said and stepped closer to her. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her deeply and passionately. He let out all of his love into that kiss. Daine was impassive at first but halfway through the kiss she started to kiss him back and she wrapped her arms around his neck. When they finished kissing Nuriko lifted up his hand to her face again. It was wet with tears.

"Why are you crying?" he asked her.

"I canít believe itís really you. Iíve missed you so much."

"Iíve missed you too." he said and hugged her tightly. She snuggled against him tightly trying to get as close as she could possibly get to him.

"Donít ever let me go" She whispered into his ear.

"I wonít" he promised her and buried his face in her hair like he used to. "I love you" he whispered into her ear.

"Iíve always loved you" she whispered back.

Fairly soon Nuriko loosened his grip on her a little and said, "I should take you home. Itís late"

"I donít want to go"

"Youíll get sick if you stay out here in this temperature"

"I donít care. I want to stay with you." she talked into his chest.

"Daine, be reasonable. Iíll see you tomorrow. Or later today, actually" he said as he caressed her head.

"Itís that late?"

"Yeah. Come on. Letís go home."

They walked back to Daineís home his arm around her like before. When they were in front of her house they stopped and looked at each other.

"Promise me youíre real" Daine whispered.

"I promise."

"But how will I know itís true? Once you go it could all be a dream"

"Iíll come here in the morning."

"But Iíll have to wait for you to come."

"Then keep my jacket. When you wake up and see itís still there youíll know that Iím here"

"I still donít want you to go" Daine whispered snuggling her head to her chest.

"I donít want to go either. But we both need our sleep"

"You can sleep at my house"

"Hotohori would kill me. I mean he did just meet me today. No, I have to go back. And you have to go to your bed."

"Okay" Daine agreed and started to walk up to her door. Then she stopped and ran back to Nuriko and wrapped her arms around him. "I just wanted one more hug" she whispered. Nuriko put his arms around her.

"I love you" he whispered to her again.

"I love you too" she said and ran into the house, not looking behind her. Nuriko turned around and walked home.

*******************************************************

Daine woke up that morning with a start. She looked down at her sheets and saw Nurikoís coat lying there. She had put it around herself last night so that she could smell Nuriko. It wasnít a dream she thought. She sat still for a few seconds and then got up suddenly jumping out of bed and ran to her bathroom to brush her teeth. Nuriko said he would be here. I have to get ready! She thought as she rushed around her room getting dressed.

At half past nine the doorbell rang. Daine had been waiting anxiously for the past hour. Hitei kept asking her what was wrong but she would always reply cryptically. When the doorbell rang Daine jumped up and rushed to answer it. Standing on her doorstep was Nuriko and Kourin.

"Daine! It really is Nuriko!" Kourin was screaming in her ear and jumping up and down as she held onto Daineís arm. However, Daine wasnít paying much attention to her. She was staring at Nuriko. She took Kourinís hand off her arm and ran into his arms.

"Youíre not a dream" she whispered then they started to kiss.

"Not again!" Kourin complained as the two kissed. "First thing in the morning. Really!"

"Whatís going on?" Hotohoriís voice could be heard coming from around the corner. "You should close the door, Daine, thereís a draft. Dee-chan!" Hotohori exclaimed when he saw Daine in an embrace with Nuriko. Of course he didnít know that it was Nuriko. "Dee-chan what the heck are you doing? You only met him yesterday!" Hitei was talking to her but she was completely oblivious to everything except Nuriko and his kiss.

"Hey! I demand that you stop kissing my sister immediately!"

"Itís okay Hotohori" Kourin reassured him.

"How can it be okay? They just met yesterday."

"No they didnít. Hotohori, thatís Nuriko"

"What? No itís not. He has an English accent."

"I know. But really it is. I should know. I am his sister after all"

"But how can it be? Why didnít he tell us sooner who he was? Especially Daine?"

"He said he didnít know that he was himself yet. Just wait for them to finish and then you can ask him." Kourin said and pulled Hotohori out of the front hall so that the couple could have some privacy.

"But that could take forever!" Hotohori complained as Kourin pushed him out.

"Weíll just have to wait them out. Iím sure they wonít take to long." Her words proved true. Very shortly Daine and Nuriko entered the kitchen where Hotohori was finishing his breakfast.

"Are you Nuriko?" Hotohori demanded right away.

"Of course he is. Would I be kissing him if it wasnít him?" Daine asked Hotohori.

"I wasnít asking you." Hotohori said. Daine stuck her tongue out at him.

"Yes, I am" Nuriko answered him.

"Why didnít you tell us sooner?"

"I didnít even remember until now"

"Why not?"

"I donít know" Nuriko said but he caught Daineís eye when he said this.

"Well, we have to go" Daine said brightly and pulled Nuriko out of the house.

"They sure left in hurry" Kourin commented.

*******************************************************

"What did you want to tell me?" Daine asked as soon as they were out of the house.

"I wanted to tell you why I didnít remember who I was until last night."

"You mean you know?"

"Yeah"

"Then why didnít you tell Hitei?"

"I wanted to keep it between us"

"Okay, I promise not to tell anyone."

"Well, when you wished for all of us to come to this world I made my own wish. I wished that we could have a real romance."

"It was real before too."

"I know. But we never got a chance to really fall in love before. I mean you got sick and--died-- before and we were so young. And then when you came back we were together for such a short time before we had to come here. I wanted us to be able to really fall in love."

"But why didnít you have your memory?"

"Because if I had had my memory then we would have been like we were before. I wanted us to fall in love all over again. It would only work if we didnít really know each other."

"Then how did you get your memory back?"

"When we kissed it all came back to me."

"So you would have gotten your memory back if we had kissed sooner too?"

"Yeah"

"What if we had never kissed?"

"Dee-chan, we would have kissed sooner or later. We were in love. We are in love"

"But still. We might not have kissed. Then you would have never remembered and we wouldnít be together now. You should have put a time limit on it"

"Maybe, but that didnít even occur to me."

"So you completely trusted me?"

"Yes"

"Oh Nuriko. I love you"

"I love you more" he teased.

"No way. Itís impossible to love anyone more then I love you"

Nuriko looked thoughtful for a second. "You know," he said. "We never did run that rematch"

"You want to run and see who loves who more?" Daine asked grinning.

"Exactly"

The two faced toward Daineís home and started running hand in hand.