“Yeah, let’s go shopping. No sense putting it off for later.”
“I figured you’d say something like that.” Shou says.
“Why is that?” Marisa asks.
“From what I know about him it just seems like something he would say.” It’s obvious Byakuren talks about you, but just what does she say exactly?
“Just how well do you two know each other?” Marisa says with an impish smile.
“Most of what I know I hear from Byakuren, but I did meet him once before he moved here.”
That elicits a response from Rinnosuke, “Oh really? When did you meet him?”
Shou looks at you and back to Rinnosuke, “We met at a Halloween party last year.”
You don’t recall seeing her; then again, everyone was in a costume. Your costume was actually pretty common. You were one of twenty-something police officers there. The costume wasn’t your first choice but it worked for such short notice. Now that you think about it, you did spend a fair amount of time with someone dressed as the Batgirl.
“Who’s Halloween party?” Marisa asked.
“Chiyuri’s,” you reply not expecting them to know who she is.
“Wait,” Rinnosuke stops whatever it is Marisa was about to say, “Chiyuri Kitashirakawa?” You nod. “I wondered where she disappeared to.”
“Wow, you sure are out of the loop Kourin,” Marisa emphasizes his nickname by practically singing it.
Rinnosuke opens his mouth to respond when the bell rings and Shou claps her hands together and says, “Okay, now that schools out are you still offering to give us a ride Rinnosuke?”
“Yeah, it’s no problem.” He says as he stands up and stretches.
“Shotgun!” Marisa says as she stands up.
The four of you make your way to the parking lot with Rinnosuke at the head of the group. Shou and Marisa are talking about their classes and guy trouble on Marisa’s part, you aren’t really listening them.
When you get to Rinnosuke’s car you note that it isn’t the most impressive thing you’ve seen. It’s silver two door car that could use a run through a car wash. Cars aren’t your strong suit so you have no idea what the model is. He unlocks the door with a press of a button on his keychain and Shou opens up the passenger door and slides and leans the seat forward and climbs into the back seat and you awkwardly follow suit. Why anyone would choose to sit in the back of these cars is beyond you. It doesn’t help that Rinnosuke has trash all over the seat, which Shou pushed onto the floor, and what wouldn’t go there got pushed against the window. It is still a tight fit with you and Shou practically on each other’s laps barely able to get your seatbelts on.
“Sorry ‘bout the mess back there,” Rinnosuke says as he starts the car, “I keep meaning to clean it out.”
“It’s no problem,” Shou responds. ‘No problem’ really? There is literally no space between the two of you. You sigh, assuming she’s just too nice to complain about it.
You didn’t really notice it this morning, but Shou’s purse has a tiger stripe pattern on it. You only notice now because she has it set partially on your lap. As you look at it, you realize that you don’t have your backpack. You don’t remember having it during study hall either so that must mean you left it in math class. Oh well, nothing you can do about it now.
Rinnosuke turns on the radio and puts in a cd before he starts driving. You recognize the band almost instantly, Shinedown, one of your favorites. You whisper the lyrics along with the songs as Rinnosuke complains about his job and Marisa whines about how unfair her dad is.
At some point your whisper got loud enough for Shou to hear you, “Are you singing?”
“Yeah,” you can feel your face turn red as she looks at you.
“It sounds good.”
“Really?” You’ve never really had other people hear your singing, much less comment on it.
“Yeah.” Smiling you sing a little louder, but not by much.
You reach the shopping center after about twenty minutes. The center is made up of three sections, a large central mall, a strip mall, and restaurants. You lean forward and ask Marisa in disbelief, “Your dad owns all this?”
“Well, he owns the buildings, but obviously not all the stores. Most of his income comes from the money he gets from the stores when they pay their rent.” She says this with very little enthusiasm.
While Rinnosuke tries to find a suitable place to park you stare at the main mall. It has to be at least three, maybe four floors.
Rinnosuke parks relatively close to one of the malls entrances and everyone exits the car. “I’m running a little bit late so I’ll be seeing you guys later!” Rinnosuke says as he locks the doors and walks off.
Marisa looks at you and Shou, “Do you mind if I tag along with you two?”
“Of course not,” Shou says as she stretches. You realize just how tall she is, she seems to be just a few inches shorter than you and a few inches taller than Marisa.
“So where do you recommend we go first?” You ask.
Shou looks thoughtful for a moment before answering, “Well, we don’t have a car to put anything heavy in so how about we go shopping for clothes?”
“My clothes are fine though.”
“I saw what you were wearing when you arrived. If you think having faded shirts and jeans with holes in them are ‘fine’ then we really need to get you new clothes!”
“H-hey! Not all my clothes are like that, those just happen to be the most comfortable!”
“Excuses,” Shou says, crossing her arms and looking at you sternly, “We are getting you new clothes and that’s that!” You sigh as she leads you into the mall with Marisa following behind and giggling. “Besides,” she adds, “you only have the one uniform, we should get you a couple extra shirts and pants.” She did have a point; wearing the same thing day in and day out can get kind of nasty.
“Fine, you win. So where do we start?” You stop for a moment to look around, three stories, and black and white checkered floors with white walls where there wasn’t some kind of advertisement or sign.
Shou remains quiet and continues marching on. At the pace she’s going you barely have time to look around at the different stores. Eventually you come to a stop JCPenney. “So what do you like to wear?” She finally asks.
“Jeans, t-shirts, and long sleeved shirts.” You reply simply.
“Favorite color?” This time it was Marisa who asks.
“Shirt size?” This time it was Shou.
“I prefer to wear an extra-large because it’s more comfortable.”
Shou looks at you for a moment, “You don’t look like a large.”
“It’s because of my height.” Being six feet four inches tends to mean you need long shirts.
“Fair enough, now let’s get shopping!”
For the next half-hour, the three of you pick out a variety of shirts for you to try on. Your favorites were the ones without a pattern and your two companions agreed with you. Pants are simpler; you found a few jeans that fit you nicely. As for school clothes you simply grabbed a few button up shirts and dress pants. Three pairs of blue jeans and six t-shirts, two blue, one red, one green, one white, and one black.
At the checkout line you hear a phone ring. Shou open up her purse and takes out her phone it looks like a smart phone, she looks at it and hands it to you. “It’s Byakuren. Can you answer it while I pay?”
“Sure,” you take the phone from her and answer it, “Hello.”
You hear Byakuren’s voice, “Hi Alex. Where are you guys?”
“We’re at JCPenney right now.”
“Are you almost done there?”
“Yeah, we’re at the checkout now. Are you done at school?”
“Yes, I’m on my way to the mall now. Can you meet me at Furniture Outlet on the first floor?”
“We can do that. See you in a bit, bye.”
“Okay bye.” You hear a click on the phone as she hangs up. Shou has finished in the checkout line now so you make your way over to her and Marisa.
“She wants us to meet her at Furniture Outlet.”
“Okay,” Shou says. She then looks at Marisa, “Are you going to come with us?”
“Nah, I think I’ll go bug Kourin at work. Bye-bye!” She smiles and walks off.
Shou hands you your clothes and asks, “So what exactly do you want for your room?”
“Really I just want a dresser and a desk so I can do my homework.” You say with a shrug.
She nods, “Okay follow me.” She starts walking at her brisk pace until you reach the furniture store. “Let’s go in and start looking around.”
You look at dressers first. You don’t really need a large one so you decide to look at four drawer dressers. You decide on a simple oak dresser with metal knobs for the handles. You start to head over to where the desks are on display when Shou’s phone rings again.
“Hello? Yeah were at Furniture Outlet. We found a dresser he likes. Yeah, we’ll wait right here for you.” She hangs up and says to you, “She wants us to wait here.”
“Okay.” You check your watch, three forty-six, it feels later than that. “Hey Shou, how long have you been living with my aunt?”
She seems a little surprised by your question, “Uh well, it’s been about five years now.”
“Five years?!” You can’t hold back your surprise, you had been under the assumption she has been there for a year at most. “Do you visit or talk to your family?”
“I talk to my dad, but I never met my mom.” She looks upset. “My dad is overseas with the army so I don’t see him much.”
“Must be hard to have a parent you rarely get to see.”
“It is, but Byakuren has been like a mother to me and like I said I still get to talk to him and he comes to visit when he’s on leave.” She perks up a little when you put your hand on her shoulder. “Besides it isn’t like he’s,” she stops right there with an apologetic and embarrassed look.
You know exactly what she was going to say, “It’s okay, I understand.”
For the next few minutes there is an awkward silence between the two of you only to be broken by Byakuren, “There you are! How was your day?”
Shou responds first, “It was fun.”
“I had fun too. I seem to have made quite a few new friends.” You say with a smile.
“That’s great! Were you surprised when you got to third period?” Byakuren asks.
“Yeah, I had no idea they moved here!”
Smiling she says, “I thought so. Now let me see the dresser you like.” You point to it and she examines it, “Looks nice. What else do you want for your room?”
“A desk and chair for me to work on homework would be nice.”
“Okay then let’s go take a look.” The three of you walk over to the section where the desks are located and start looking around.
One desk catches your eye. It is a metal and black plastic desk with four drawers on each side, a long center drawer, and a removable shelf that would otherwise be on top of the desk. “This one looks nice.”
“I agree,” Shou says.
“Are you sure you want this one?” Byakuren asks.
You think for a moment, “Yes, I’m sure.”
Byakuren nods and looks around for an employee, which she spots fairly quickly and goes over to him.
“So Alex, how good of a cook are you?” Shou’s question seems like it came out of nowhere.
“I’m an okay cook. Why?” You only ever cooked for your mom, but she liked it.
“Byakuren will probably want to cook and she isn’t the best cook in the world.”
“And you want me to cook?”
“I’ll help!” She responds a little defensively, like she thought you were upset.
Byakuren comes back, “I’m going to go pay and then I’ll meet you two near the entrance.”
You and Shou agree and head to the entrance of the store and wait for a few minutes. The whole time you keep thinking about what you would want to cook for dinner. “What kinds of food do you like to eat?”
“Hmm…” she pauses. “I eat just about anything.” That doesn’t narrow it down at all.
You are kind of in the mood for pizza maybe that would work. “How about pizza?”
“Yeah, pizza sounds nice. I think we have most of what we need at home.” Pizza it is then.
Byakuren comes from the register and says, “They’ll bring them out to the car, but we’ll have to get them into the house.” Oh joy, heavy lifting. Byakuren must have seen the look on your face, “Don’t worry, I asked Ms. Hoshiguma to help out so she’ll be waiting for us.”
The three of you head outside to the car. It is simple blue minivan that gives off a soccer mom vibe. You fold most of the seats into the floor to make room for the dresser and desk. After a few minutes, a couple employees from the store come out pulling your furnishings on a cart and proceed to load them up into the car. The desk is in a box, “Some assembly required,” you remark, not that you really expected it to come already put together. They leave after you give them your thanks.
You let Shou sit in the front. Other than your purchases the car is remarkably clean, it almost looks new.
“Alex said he’ll cook,” Shou says with a glance back to you.
Byakuren had already started driving at this point, “Oh? That’s nice of you Alex! What do you plan on making?”
“I was thinking of pizza. Shou said we should have most of the ingredients already.”
“That’s right,” she seems to be looking forward to dinner.
The rest of the car ride was spent listening to the radio. When you get home you see a red car similar to Rinnosuke’s in the driveway and Byakuren parks next to it. As you get out of the car you see Ms. Hoshiguma getting out of hers.
Everyone exchanges a quick greeting and gets to work with you and Ms. Hoshiguma carrying the dresser and Shou and Byakuren carrying the desk. The dresser is a lot heavier than it looks and takes you a little bit to get a good grip on it, though the gym teacher seems to have no issue with it. Almost as soon as you get the dresser inside you have to set it down due to your hands hurting. The stairs are your next hurdle; you let your teacher lead the way up the stairs. You don’t have any major issues getting the dresser up there but once again you have to set it down this time due to fatigue.
Shou and Byakuren have gotten the desk into your room and assist you for the remainder of the way and setting it down in the far left corner of your room, opposite of your bed. You take a seat on your bed now that the hard work is over; you weren’t exactly built for heavy lifting. Ms. Hoshiguma on the other hand seems just fine like it was nothing. Byakuren and Shou got off a little easier with the desk.
“Thanks a lot Yuugi!” Byakuren says with a smile.
Smiling back she responds, “Don’t mention it! Always happy to help!”
“Do you want to stay for dinner?” Your aunt offers.
Ms. Hoshiguma shakes her head, “No thanks. I’ve already got plans for tonight so I think I’ll be going now.”
You and Shou say goodbye as she walks out of the room followed by Byakuren and you hear the two of them talk as they walk down the stairs.
Shou takes a seat next to you on your bed. “So,” she pauses for a moment, “when are you gonna make dinner?”
“Ugh, can I rest first? It’s still pretty early!” You whine.
“Of course! I was just wondering.” She says grinning.
You hear the front door close and decide to take a look at your watch, four thirty-two. You decide that you’ll start cooking at five o’clock.
“I’ll be right back, I’m gonna grab some hangers for your shirts.”
You stop her, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll just fold ‘em and put them in the dresser.”
“Oh, okay. Well I’m going to head downstairs then.”
“Bye.” After she leaves you decide that it’s time to unpack. First up is your suitcase, the clothes in it are already folded so you just put them straight into the dresser. Shirts in the first drawer, pants in the second, socks and underwear in the third, and the fourth you can store miscellaneous items in. Next you unpack your duffle bag containing basic toiletries along with a small cd radio and memorabilia like cards and pictures. Your old backpack is stuffed full of cd’s and books which you store on top of your dresser for the time being.
You start looking through your pictures when one in particular catches your attention. It’s a picture of you, your mom, Tenshi, and Iku. This picture was when you were in kindergarten at a school picnic. As you look at the picture your eyes linger on your mom. She always had beautiful brown hair and brown eyes. People always say you have her eyes. A tear flows down your cheek and you set the picture down on the nightstand. You’ll have to ask Byakuren for a frame for it sometime.
“Time to start making some pizza,” you whisper to yourself as you walk out of the room.
The kitchen has a nice feel to it, you aren’t quite sure why. As you start to gather the ingredients Shou comes over from the computer to help and the two of you silently start working. Making the dough was a little more difficult than usual, but after that the rest of the pizza came together nicely. When it was all said and done you had two large pizzas ready to go in the oven, which is tiered so you can put them both in at the same time. You set a timer and let them cook.
Seeing you are a little preoccupied Shou offers to clean up while you rest and you gladly take her up on her offer. You head to your room and put a cd in the radio and lay down on your bed. You don’t really listen to the music, instead using it as mindless noise while you try to clear your head.
You lose track of time and are shocked when Shou walks into your room, perhaps you should have closed it.
“Hey Alex, the pizzas are ready.” She looks at you concernedly.
“Okay,” you say as you slide out of bed.
When you reach the kitchen you notice someone already took the pizzas out of the oven and sliced them. Byakuren is at the dining room table with a whole pizza in the center and plates laid out with glasses of water next to them. Shou takes a seat next to her and you sit across from Shou.
“Before we start,” Byakuren says as you reach for a slice, “I have something for you.” She hands you a small box wrapped up like a present. To your surprise under the wrapping is a brand new cellphone! It isn’t a smart phone but you never owned a cellphone before.
A ginormous smile appears on your face, “Thank you so much!”
Byakuren smiles warmly at you, “I hope you don’t mind but I opened it up already and put the numbers for Shou and myself in it.”
“No I don’t mind at all!”
Dinner is well received. The pizzas are just pepperoni, but you added a few spices and seasonings to the sauce for flavor. After dinner, there is still a whole pizza left over which gets stored in the fridge.
It is still early but you are pretty tired, “I think I’ll go to bed early tonight.”
“Okay, be sure to set your alarm for the morning.” Byakuren says as she finishes putting the plates in the dishwasher.
“Goodnight Alex!” Shou says with a smile.
You strip your clothes and put on a pair of shorts before you lay down. Sleep takes you almost instantly.
You look down and see that you are standing on a cliff. To your left you see your mother falling as if she’s in slow motion. You blink and find yourself staring into a cracked mirror. Each shard shows a scene from your past. The largest shard is when you found your mom dead. You look away and the room spins and fades leaving you in a perpetual darkness. You turn around to see a light.
As you walk towards the light you get a growing sense of uneasiness. When you are within about twenty feet of the source a dark figure walks out of the light and approaches you. It’s about your height and weight but its face appears to be melting. Pieces of the face drip off and vanish. All of a sudden you feel something in your stomach and you look down. You see its hand and blood flowing from your gut. Looking back up you see it open its near liquid mouth and hear it scream causing you to scream as well. The two screams are nearly identical.
You sit up suddenly gasping for breath and in a cold sweat. A nightmare? You hear commotion from the hall and then just outside your door. The door is burst open and Byakuren comes rushing in wearing a purple nightgown and behind her you see Shou covering herself with a blanket.
“Alex are you okay?” Byakuren sounds as scared as she was worried.
“Y-yeah, I think so,” you say, still gasping for breath, “it was just a nightmare.”
“That’s good; you had me scared for a moment there.”
Shou still looks worried, “Do you want to talk about it?”
“I don’t really remember it,” you lie. You look at the alarm clock, three-o-two. You must have screamed pretty loud to wake them both up.
Byakuren hugs you tight. “Will you be okay?”
“Yeah,” you whisper.
Byakuren releases you and start out the door. The whole time Shou still has a worried look on her face and watches you even as Byakuren closes the door. Sleep comes quickly once again.
You are woken up by the familiar sound of an alarm clock. Why did you set it for six again? Right you need to shower and have breakfast.
You grab your clothes and head to the shower. After cleaning up, you get dressed and head downstairs to the kitchen to grab some breakfast. Cereal will do for now. Shou joins you after her shower and also has a bowl of cereal.
You finish eating before Shou does and find you are feeling a little antsy. Maybe you ought to head to school now?
 Go now
- () Grab your books that you left in Ms. Yakumo’s classroom.
- () See if Yukari is in her “office” you should talk to a professional about that dream.
 Wait for Shou.
() Ask her to take you to the library.
() Tell her about the dream maybe she could offer some insight.
Longest update so far! I wouldn't get used to it if I were you. I personally feel pretty darn good about this. Feel free to share your opinions and give critics! As always enjoy and have fun!