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Chapter 4:


"Aaaghh, it's too hot!"

Though Nagisa complained, the wind occasionally blew a cool breeze even there were no clouds in sight but the sun was hotter than usual. It didn't help too that Nagisa was holding four bags with one hand, using her free hand to hold onto the list, it made her sweat more in this weather. Looking at the list, she checked the items in her mind.

Vegetables? Check.

Miso? Check.

Rice, soy, ramen, soba, red bean paste and green tea? Check, check, check, check, check and check.

Putting the list into the bag, she cursed under her breath about her lazy daughter. Saki had to go earlier than usual to school because of lacrosse practice, while Kazumi had all the time in the world to go shopping with her mother. But, it was impossible to drag Kazumi out of bed while her younger daughter could climb out of bed at six am. Nagisa muttered under her breath about her darling Fuji-P being with her, helping and be all lovely dovely to her. But, fortunately for her, her darling will be arriving in Japan tonight from Germany.

"Aaahh, I can't wait!" Nagisa squeaked, the same squeak she made when she was on her first date with him. Snapping back to reality, people around her snickered, giggled or laughed at her as Nagisa turned red. Running from the crowd and completely forgot how heavy the bags were, she didn't stop until she was far from the crowd and without noticing she was across the bus stop where she was going to take the four.

Catching her breath, with her hands on her knees, on the corner of her eye she saw a glimpse of a big white vehicle. Heaving herself up, her eyes widened as she increased her pace. She gave a heavy sigh, both signaling relief and frustration as there was five people in line waiting to get on the bus. Nagisa stopped in her tracks as her eyes became wider with shock and she dropped her bags; a blue haired woman was third in line, wearing glasses but what caught Nagisa's attention most was the flower pin she was wearing.

"Ho...no...ka...?"

Without acknowledging it, the woman entered the bus and the vehicle drove away as she still stared at the where 'Honoka' stood. Questions started to pile up; was her mind tricking her because she misses her so much? Was that really her old friend or was she mistaking Honoka with some stranger? Honoka was still in France...right? Nagisa shook her head. If Honoka came back to Japan, she'd inform her and Hikari. Maybe she lost her number? Nagisa tried to remember if she had changed her number when she moved. Nothing came. It must've been an hallucination. Determined, yet still unsure that it was an illusion, she made herself back home with her own two feet.

Nagisa closed the door when she arrived home. The walk usually took twenty minutes but today felt like an hour since the image of that woman was still burning inside her head. The woman had the same hair color as Honoka; she wasn't sure about her height but that hair pin she saw... It was defiantly the same as she wore back then. But the hair pin wasn't uncommon to wear, there's high possibility that millions of people in Japan, maybe around the world, that were wearing the same hair pin. So why was she so excited? Her hands wouldn't stop shaking and the image of the woman was still gnawing inside her brain. Was it her or not?

The sound of the washing machine snapped her back as she hurried back to the machine. As she walking by the bathroom, she heard the water running and assumed immediately that it was Kazumi. Nagisa arrived to the room where the machine was and took the wet clothes out and folded them.

Thinking hard if there was any more dirty laundry, she snapped her head up when she just remembered that Kazumi's clothes were the only ones left. Sighing and groaning at the same time, she quickly went to Kazumi's room, opened the door only to be greeted by clothes covering the floor. A vein popped on her head; she had already told her daughter to tidy her clothes up and throw them, though not literally, into the washing machine. But lately she had been making excuses of being busy. Of what? Slouching around? While tidying up Kazumi's clothes, Nagisa was preparing the right words for a big scolding for that lazy bum.

"I swear, sometimes I think I should send her to a camp." She mumbled. "Why can't she be like Saki?" She continued.

Her mumbling stopped when she got her eye on a pile of clothes on the floor, which Kazumi probably threw before she took a shower. Letting out a huge groan, she took all of the clothes in one trip.

Clunk

"Clunk?" She asked herself as she looked down where the object fell. A blue cellphone. Curious as she crooked her eyebrow and peered her eyes when she picked it up, she tried her best to remember where she had seen this before. Holding it sideways to check the back and turned it back to the lid, touching the cover while resisting opening it. It was her daughter's property and perhaps a private one. But she can't remember when she bought a cellphone or let her know about it. This was starting to piss her off; lately she had been hiding stuff from her.

Nagisa widened her eyes; blurry images came into her mind. A white and black, along with the background what it looked like a darkness background, teenagers, maybe at age 14 or 15, who were in attack position. Suddenly, a big muscular man...no it looked human but there were no pupils in its eyes, wearing nothing but black, attacks the teenagers but they block it with ease and kicks and punch the big monster but it evades and blocks the teenagers' attacks. The monster suddenly jumped backwards and started to yell out something as another monster seemed to be summoned...

"Zakenna!"

Nagisa snapped her head up and shock her head. "W-w-what on earth was that...?" She murmured to herself. Looking back at the cellphone, she felt like the cellphone was drawing her to open the lid, as her hand slowly approached to...

"Mom!"

Before Nagisa could turn around, the cellphone had suddenly disappeared from her hand and her daughter was now standing infront of her. Kazumi was wearing her school uniform but her vest was missing. "What has gone into you? Where and when did you get that cellphone?" Nagisa asked furiously. Questions. Lies. Those were Kazumi's weakness and her mom knew it. She was a too honest person.

"I-I-I..." Kazumi hesitated. Kazumi averted her eyes to her alarm clock; 09:04.

"Sorry, mom, I'm, um, gonna be late for school." With that, Kazumi hurriedly took her school vest and went out. Nagisa subconsciously looked at the mirror; an image of herself, wearing weird black skirt and shirt with pink bow. She stared at herself for a while, confused. "A-as if I'd wear something like that! Arienai!" Nagisa laughed at herself. "But...that cellphone...I know I've seen it before..."


Mipple stared at the thin air as wind blew lightly through her ears, making them move, along with the fuurin. (1) Mipple closed her eyes and cleared her mind to listen to the sound of the fuurin. But she still had her ears open if Shizuka's mother were to come back. She cracked a pleasant smile; it felt like forever when she felt the breeze, since she had been cramped in that tiny cellphone since she and Mepple met Kazumi and Shizuka. A pleasant tune entered her eardrums as she twitched her ear subconsciously. Turning around, only to see Shizuka placing her books inside her bag while humming the tune she had heard. Mipple watched her with curiosity. Slowly, Mipple found herself rocking her head sideways along with the song.

Mipple accidentally glanced at Shizuka's notebook as she put the notebook inside her bag but she widened her eyes when she saw what caught her attention; Shizuka's last name, Yukishiro. Yukishiro... It sounded familiar. Lifting an eyebrow while still trying to crack her brain to remember, Shizuka zipped closed her bag and swung it on the shoulders as Mipple gazed at the floor with serious look on her face, catching Shizuka's attention.

"What's wrong, Mipple?"

Looking up, she crooked her eyebrows down again as she returned her gaze to the floor, as if she was thinking about something. When she forced closed her eyes hard, it made Shizuka more worried so she came towards her to see if her stomach was hurting her. But before she managed to even lift her foot, Mipple re-opened her eyes, with determined look. "Shi-Shizuka…" she hesitated but gulped down her cowardice.

"Do you k-"

"Shizuka?"

Mipple hurriedly transformed into a cellphone and placed herself to Shizuka's waist. "C-c-come in." Shizuka said as she sat down her bed, sweat forming. It didn't help when the door opened and her mother stood by the door. "I thought I heard two voices." She said as she looked around if she could see the second person.

"A-a-anyway, mom, could you drive me to school?" Shizuka asked as she swung her bag up when it slid down. Ms. Yukishiro looked at her daughter but dropped it.

"Actually, there was something wrong with the car so I had to take it to repairs and came home with a bus. You can take the four like I did." Ms. Yukishiro stopped as she put her fingertip on her chin. "I swear I heard a familiar voice at the bus stop…" she muttered as she drifted away. "Anyways, you have the money for the bus?" Shizuka nodded as she approached to her mother and gave her a kiss.

As Ms. Yukishiro left, Shizuka had her eyes on her mother with eyebrow crooked; her mind was focused on what her mother had said. Shizuka didn't remember that her mother was planning on meeting her old friends. Or what she thought. Sometimes her mother never told her what or where she was going, for some unknown reasons. And, back in their homeland, she found her mother standing infront of a flower field, staring at it for hours with what seemed like eyes with no emotions. It was a relief for Shizuka that her mother had started to act like herself again. Usually, her mother would drift off in her thoughts during breakfast and dinner time and found herself sometimes on the middle of the street only to wake up from her thoughts and wonder how she got there.

Shizuka hesitated, but slowly as she occasionally glanced at her mother who had a smile everytime Shizuka turned around but when Shizuka exited the household and disappeared from line of sight.

Ms. Yukishiro's smile fell.


"Aaaah, that was too close!" Kazumi said when she was few kilometers from her home. She still felt intense as well as her heart who was thumping against her chest. After clearing her thoughts of stress and alternatives episodes if her mom would've opened the lid, it came to her that someday she must tell her mother; she can't hide a secret forever. It doesn't help that occasionally she hears a voice to tell her the truth. Kazumi felt an itch behind her head. Scratching to kill it, her eyes focused on Mepple. She crooked an eyebrow; it was unusual for him to not talk back, she expected him to yell at her for placing him where her mom could find her. In fact, he had been quiet all the way. Too quiet...

"Mepple?" Kazumi opened the lid carefully while in defend mode. He could drop the bomb after she opened the lid all the way. She took the risk and averted her eyes from the cellphone. Nothing. No yelling. Just silence. "Hey, Mep-" Mepple's expression was something Kazumi had never seen; fear, confusion, taken back. It looked like he had seen a ghost.

"M-M-Mepple? Wh-wh-what's wrong? Is one from the Dark Zone behind me?" Kazumi turned around, ready for an attack. No threat was behind her except some girls in her school. She let out a nervous laugh as she scratched behind her back, embarrassed, , but as she turned around she saw a familiar face. Like the embarrassment disappeared all of sudden and somehow Reiko's wide grin made her heart ease. Mepple, subconsciously, withdrew from Reiko's sight and into Kazumi's pocket. Luckily, Reiko was too focused on Kazumi. "Who were ya talkin' to?" Reiko ripped the silence between them.

"An' who are dose 'Dark Zone' guys?" Kazumi widened eyes as she felt liquid leak from her head. Reiko's smile disappeared when she noticed how Kazumi was acting, knowing instantly that she was about to lie. She has seen Kazumi lie to her mother when she was a kid, but never have Kazumi lied to Reiko. Had she already forgotten about their promise…? Letting it slide, Reiko knew that Kazumi would have a good reason to lie to her, maybe a surprise present or party; she crossed her arms as she put up a sly smile.

"Anoth'r plan ta seduce Watanabe-kun?" Kazumi's cheeks started to heat a little but in the end it turned red like tomato. Kazumi threw her hands all over the place, as if she was trying to brush Reiko off, as Reiko could have sworn that Kazumi's head was boiling, but wasn't sure if it was either out of anger or embarrassment. Either way, it made her grin like an idiot. Either way, it made her grin like an idiot. "S-s-s-s-stop grinning like that! First of all; it's not seduction, it's kinda like a…c-c-c-c-c-c-"Unable to finish, Kazumi fell to her knees as more steam came out of her head. "Cat got your tongue?" Reiko asked slyly. "S-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-shut up!"

"Hey." Reiko leaned and kneeled at her height. "Ah got an idea; how 'bout you come over to mah place tonight, after school, an' watch some romantic films ta help ya what ta say to Watanabe-kun?" Kazumi pushed her index fingers on each other, her gaze on the ground. Reiko sighed defeated. "Alrigh', alrigh' we'll throw in some horror movies." Reiko stepped back when Kazumi out of nowhere jumped up, excited.

"Can we start on The Ring?"

"No. First we start on Titanic."

"Wait; is that movie in the romance category?"

"…ya do know what it's 'bout…right?"

"A ship that sinks and people die. Basically, a disaster film."

"…ya really gotta stop talkin' movies wit' your momma…" Reiko face palmed.

"Fujimura-san. Tainaka-san. Good morning."

"Ah, Yukishiro-san, mornin'!" Kazumi replied with a smile. Reiko glanced at Shizuka before avert her eyes from her and started to walk ahead to the school. "Good morning…" Reiko half-whispered. Reiko disappeared from their sight and left the two befuddled girls. They glanced at each other as if they thought they could get an answer from each other. When a silence came between them, they knew they weren't going to get this mystery solved by looking at each other. "Did…did something happened?" Shizuka finally broke the silence. Kazumi crooked her eyebrows.

"Not that I know… Let's go. Maybe she's on her monthly thingy." With that, Kazumi walked the same direction Reiko went with Shizuka.


Ding dong, dong ding

Kazumi stretched her tired arms up in the air as a smile came across her face. Lunchtime. Her favorite course. Well if it had any exams for that, it'd make her really happy. She suddenly froze. She had just remembered that she forgot her lunch back home because of all that fuzz with Mepple. She cursed Mepple under her breath; if it wasn't for him being discovered she wouldn't had forgotten the lunch. And on top of that, when she goes back home she has to make an excuse for her weird behavior. She led her face plum on her table, her hands was placed on her head as she buried her face on the table. Students glared at her worriedly, but some of them just giggled over her behavior. Shizuka was at her table when she saw how Kazumi behaved. She was kind of worried if she was sick or something. Shizuka was cut off her thoughts when a classmate of her passed by her table, Shizuka took the chance and asked the classmate what was wrong with Kazumi. "Oh, don´t worry about that, Fujimura-san is just sad because she forgot her lunch. It happens all the time when she does. And when that happens…"

"Fujimura-san, your little sister is here!" another classmate interrupted. "Her little sister comes to save her." The girl continued while smirking.

"Saaaaaaaaaakkkkkiiiii!" Kazumi leaped over to her little sister for a hug. "Jeez, onee-chan, how many times are you going to forget your lunch?" Saki asked as she handed Kazumi money. As she received it, she kissed on the middle of the bill of a picture of an old man as Saki sweatdropped. The students, even the ones who were worried and among them was Shizuka, laughed at Kazumi. "By the way, onee-chan, mom told me how you acted this morning. Is everything okay?"

Kazumi stopped her current action. She looked over the room along with the students, her eyes stopped on Shizuka. "Y-Y-Yukishiro-san! Could you come with me to buy bread?" Kazumi took her hand. Before Shizuka could answer and only managed to mumble, Kazumi dragged her out of the room. "Okthanksletsgo."

"Wait! Onee-." She was gone out of the room. "What's up with her…?"

Reiko stood in the middle of the classroom with glaring eyes at the door where Kazumi went with Shizuka. She turned around and paced towards her table.

School rooftop

Catching their breaths, after really hurrying to the cafeteria and up to the roof, Kazumi was sitting while Shizuka had her hands on the knee and her head down. It wasn't helping that the sun was too close, making the weather too perfect and hot. Though, luckily, they were wearing their summer school uniform. They had short sleeves and...well nothing much changed except the sleeves. And the fact that Kazumi loosened her bow and shirt while Shizuka had it tightened.

"F-F-Fujimura-san, w-what was that all about?"

"I-I-I'm sorry… *gasp* but something came up this morning. M-my mom found Me-Mepple while I was in shower. I had nothing to make excuse so I rushed to the school without thinking."

"W-wait, your mo- did she open the lid?" Shizuka looked at Kazumi.

"No, but she was acting weird…she just stared at him, her expression was…something I couldn't read from her face…and Mepple…" Kazumi took Mepple up in cellphone form off her hip. She and Shizuka waited until he would open the lid by himself but nothing happened. "He's been acting this weird since my mom picked him up." Kazumi tried to think back when her mom had Mepple on her palm. Not that she remember that her mom did something that made Mepple act this way. She has no idea if Mepple did something since she didn't see him because her mother was in her way. Or could it be that… "Ha,ha,ha,ha! As if my mom would be the previous legendary warrior!" Kazumi suddenly burst.

"But maybe it's possible." Shizuka remarked. Kazumi stared at her until she sung her hands side to side as if trying to brush it off. "It can't be, mom's punch wouldn't even knock a kid down. Besides, she wouldn't hurt a fly."

"Then Mepple's behavior…" Shizuka put a finger on her chin. "It might connect to Mipple's…"

"Wait, Mipple is acting weird too?" Shizuka nodded. "While tidying my books, Mipple was going to ask me something but she was interfered by my mother. When I was on my way to school, before I met you on the way, she refused to tell me what she was going to inquire."

"Do you think they, well, since they are hanging around us remind them of the previous duo?"

"It could be…how long it has been they last met them, I wonder…"

"Aaaaarrrgghhh all this thinking is giving me headache!"

Kazumi roughened her hair as she yelled at the air. Kazumi stopped as a smile crept across her face. "I know! How about we go to your hou-wait, is someone home?"

"No, my mom will be at the University until midnight."

"Then we'll go to your house and cheer them up! Since it's impossible to go mine…"

"Sounds like a plan."

"Alright! Let the 'Cheer party' begin!" Kazumi threw her finger and pointed it at the air as Shizuka joined her yelling 'yeah' in respond.


"Crap, crap, crap! How could I have forgotten about the snacks?"

Kazumi frantically and nervously looked around for a 7/11 shop. The party was going really smoothly, though, they introduced Mepple and Mipple to manzai (2) and American comedy films like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, some of Japanese films directed by famous comedy director, Shiho Sprouse. Though, Mepple and Mipple didn't crack a smile until when Shizuka mentioned about Watanabe and Kazumi blushed like crazy as she tried to deny it but slowly confessed embarrassed. Kazumi started to think about their strange behavior and the connection to her mom. Her mom as Pretty Cure? There must be a mistake. Not because she's a female but because her mom never was interested into martial arts or any knowledge of it. Her thoughts were cut off when she saw Reiko walking infront of her. Looking at her made her think for some reason. She felt like she had forgotten something…something about Reiko, something that they were going to do together… Brushing that feeling off as thinking it wasn't important, she ran towards her friend with a smile.

"Hey, Rei-ko~!" she sang as she was prepared to attack her with a hug. Reiko, unexpectedly, dodged and ignored her as she walked past her. Dodging her friend was no surprise for Reiko as she was getting sick and tired of Kazumi suddenly sneak attack her. But ignoring her best friend…Kazumi tried her best to remember if she had done something to her recently. Ever since she remembered they had never fought before. Kazumi snapped back; it wasn't time for thinking, Reiko was already two meters from her. Luckily for Kazumi, being an athlete, it was no problem for her to keep up with Reiko and luckily she didn't space out too long. "H-hey, Rei-" she was about to touch Reiko's shoulder when-

Slap!

Kazumi's hand flew to the side. She was in too shock to control it as her eyes widened. Reiko's stingy eyes were still focused on her, as for the hand, it stayed in the same position; in the air besides her face. Reiko's eyes became wide as her face turned white while her jaw dropped. She used the hand she slapped Kazumi's hand away to cover her mouth, but withdrew it as she looked at her hand and switched look at Kazumi. "R-Re…" Kazumi half-whispered. Reiko suddenly took off but Kazumi didn't make any effort in going after her. "R-Reiko!" she yelled after her.

"Fujimura-san?" a new voice, yet familiar, asked. Kazumi slowly turned around only to see Shizuka standing, her eyes with worry.

Kazumi started to walk ahead of her, ignoring her calls.


1. Wind bell. The Japanese are always very conscious of the seasons and the ringing of these cute little bells is as much a sound of summer as the cicadas in the trees. It's customary to hang them outside the widow in summer. There are many different designs, but generally two types: little dark green metal bells that are modeled after large temple bells and glass bells that are often painted with little goldfish or other summer motif.

2. Manzai usually involves two performers (manzaishi) —a straight man (tsukkomi) and a funny man (boke)—trading jokes at great speed. Most of the jokes revolve around mutual misunderstandings, double-talk, puns and other verbal gags

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