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The Phoenix Chronicles Episode Three: Getting Settled. Itís tough when youíre a kid.

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Mousse saw Japan come into view when the concord dipped its wing as it veered east. He sat in the large seat, with wide padded armchairs on either side of him. Heíd never felt such a comfortable chair.

"Is this home?" he asked.

Nokoru nodded, smiling.

"I want to go back to my mom as soon as I can."

"Of course, you do. Weíll get you back to your mom."

--------------

Chairman Kihl sat in his darkened office, and watched the monitor. He looked at Mousse, who was sitting in his seat, beside Nokoru. He had grown-up somewhat, but that was the same child he had seen several years before. The one that Dr. Katsuragi boasted about. Nonetheless, Kihl had placed some of his hopes for mankind with the boy.

"Gabriel has returned." He said.

"So, he has been found again." The second member of Seele said.

"However, we cannot let him be reunited with his mother," Kihl replied.

"So, we will have to eliminate her, then" The Twelfth of Seele added.

"That may not be necessary." Kihl told them. "I will simply change the files maintained by the boy detectives. After all, once Gabriel returns to Tokyo, he will not even meet with her. We shall change the files on the detectivesí system. Perhaps we may only need to change an address."

"And who will the false address belong to?" the second of Seele told him.

Yui Ikari sat in her history class, listening intently to Professor Ranma Saotome as he gave a lecture on the past few years.

"By 1990, the nations had been in a severe economic slump. Only a year before, the politicians became more ambitious and decide to take the treasury to fill their own pockets, thereby taking the funds from programs that provided civil services for wards of the state," he said, trying not to sound bitter. "which meant the children in the orphanages. The social workers appealed to the Senators and councilmen that sympathized with the several thousand children that were left to the streets. The Senators were able to make a deal with the social workers. Instead of having to pay several million dollars to provide the food and living expenses for the orphanages, they agreed to pay the social workers their salaries ten-fold, if they can find well-to-do families that would take care of the children, so the state would not need to. United States and Canada were the first to institute the program in 1992. In the following seven years, the rest of the highly developed countries, Japan, England, Europe, China, and some parts of the Middle East adopted the program as well. So-"

That was when the bell rang, so he slammed the book shut, and raised his hand to the air. "Okay, class dismissed." He said. Yui sat there for a moment, looking at him. He looked to her, "Do you need to talk with me about something?"

She shook her head, gathered her books, and left. She looked at the textbook, and then she went to the counseling office, and sat down with one of the counselors.

"Can I help you?" asked the petite, elder counselor asked.

Yui looked at the name plate. "Yes. Ms. Takashi?" she said, uncertain.

"Thatís right." The counselor said, laughing a bit.

"I was wondering if you had any information on the WARD-FIND PROGRAM?"

"Were you interested in becoming a Guardian?"

"Yes, Actually. I mean I received a letter from the Federal Social Worker, and it said I would be appointed in two years. I was wondering if you could give me some options. Iíd like to pick my ward before the state does." Yui said.

The counselor gave her a brief suspicious glance, then reached under her desk. She brought out a large book.

Yui stood out of her chair, "Do you need help?" she asked.

"No, noÖ" Takashi took a look at the large book, "Yes, yesÖActually, this is a record of the wards that are yet unaccounted for." Yui had already gone to her, and helped to place the forest green, gold-trimmed book onto the desk.

She paged through it, and saw the picture of a young kid with black hair. It was Mousse, but he looked almost emaciated, and his face was severe. It was his eyes, which were radiant and smiling, that she noticed the most, the way it contrasted with his tight little jaw, and the dented cheeks that were on either side of his little mouth, that was only a smile turned upside down. Yui wanted to see that smile, and she wanted it to be for her her.

"This one," Yui said, smiling. "Hikaru Teníou."

Takashi looked over to the picture, "Hmmm, Number 062984." She observed, and then opened her drawer which held all the district files.

"Heís not a number, Ms. Takashi." Yui said, defensively.

Takashi smiled at that slightly, "Falling for him already, are you?"

Yui sheepishly replied "Iím quite taken when it comes to hard-luck cases."

Weeks later, Nokoru received a phone call as he sat in his office. He was still worried that they might have to turn Mousse over to the state if they couldnít get him into the Academy, and they certainly couldnít list him under their care. The problem was that Mousse needed a sponsor to get into Clamp Academy. Otherwise, heíd be sent to the Federal Social Workers, who werenít really doing their jobs nowadays, since all of them were just interested in getting their commission, it no longer mattered to them where the children were placed. Nokoru found that in all the test theyíd given Mousse, his learning ability was at a Sixth Grade Level for the Academy, and that amazed Nokoru to no end, considering where they found him.

"What? You found a sponsor? Thanks Dr. Takashi?"

Two weeks later, Mousse was sitting in another large office.

"Welcome to CLAMP ACADEMY, Master Hikaru," The headmaster told Mousse warmly. "Now. As you know, we are having our dormitory facilities remodeled, so that means you will have to live with your sponsor. Hereís her card. Her name is Yui Ikari."

Mousseís first impression of Yui was a pleasant one. The Clamp Limo had taken him to Yuiís house in the suburbs. Mousse was also wearing a Clamp academy Uniform, which consisted of a black formal coat, and black slack-type shorts. Also, the Academy gave him funds to buy what he needed.

Yui stood at the door, looking down on Mousse, smiling, and Mousse could tell she was obviously very kind.

"Hello," he said , "Iím Hikaru Teníoh." He told her.

She was a young woman, with short brown hair, wearing a lab coat. She squatted so they were eye to eye. "Hello, Iím Yui Ikari. Iíll be taking care of you from now on." Suffice to say, Mousse loved her right away.

(Kyoto University)

"Professor! Professor Saotome!" A student called.

"Hello, boys." Ranma Saotome replied. He was a middle-aged man, his already gray hair combed back, who was tall and lanky.

"We were wondering if you would come down with us to the Riverwalk." a second student told him.

"What? Again?" Saotome asked.

"Ryoko, and the others said they'd come if you'd come if you came too." the first student told him.

"And didn't the Dean say you shouldn't be so unsociable?" the second added.

Saotome was sitting at the bar with an older man, the Dean.

"It's nice to have a drink outside, once in a while."

"Yes, sir."

"You know, you're a brilliant scientist, but you place enough importance in your relationship with others."

"I'm sorry, sir."

"Somehow, I doubt that. However, there is a young, brilliant Bio-engineering student." Her name is Ikari. Have you heard about her before?"

"No, sir." Saotome replied.

"She has just written an interesting paper. and I want you to take her on as a research assistant."

"And her name is Ikari," he mused. "I'll do it, sir."

She stood in his office, wearing a pink shirt, and a lab coat. He thought she was quite beautiful, although not like model-beauty, it was her simple style that appealed to him. He looked up from the paper he was glancing over.

"I read your paper, last night. There's still a few things I have questions about, but other than that, it's very interesting." he told her.

"Thank you very much, sir." she replied humbly.

"And your full name is Yui Ikari, right?"

"That's right, sir."

"So, what are your plans for the future? Are you planning go into corporate research, or are you going to join a school's research facility?" he asked.

"Well, I haven't really thought about that much. And in my case, there may be a third option; I'm thinking of getting married, and having children."

Saotome saw someone standing behind Yui. It was strange that he hadn't noticed the child before. "Who's this?"

"Come on out, Hikaru." Yui said, gently.

"Alright." Mousse said.

"There's no need to be afraid of me." Saotome told him.

"Yes, sir." Mousse replied.

"I'm taking care of him, sir." Yui told him.

"What's your name?" Saotome asked.

"My name is Hikaru Ten'ou, sir."

"He's very polite for someone his age." Saotome complimented.

"Yes, he is, sir. Thank you, sir." Then, she looked at her watch. "Oh, sir, I promised him I would take him to the park."

"You do that, then. Also, come early tomorrow morning."

"Thank you, sir." Yui gushed. Seeing her smile, Mousse smiled.

(A few days later.)

Saotome received a call from the Dean.

"Gendou Rokubungi? No. I have never met him, Ö.What?ÖIíve been appointed as his advisor?!Ö but I have heard his name at the core of a lot of rumors, and rather unsavory rumors at that. Well, Iíll go bail him out."

(Kyoto, Police station)

Gendou Rokubungi, his arm in a cast, looked at the professor.

"Iíve heard some interesting rumors about you, professor. Iím been looking forward to meet you for quite some time." Gendou said.

"Well, getting drunk and starting a fight isnít the best introduction." Saotome huffed.

"I didnít get a chance to say anything before they jumped me. Iím not used to being liked, Professor, but Iím quite familiar with hatred." Gendou told him.

"Yes, well, your problems are none of my concern." Saotome said, flatly.

"And your exactly the type of person I expected Professor Saotome to be." Gendou said, in a rather arrogant tone.

It was probably safe to say that Saotome did not like Gendou. Saotome thought that he was a real bastard. and Gendou sensed this, but it didnít bother him, as he said, he was used to being hated. Perhaps, in some way, Gendou reminded Ranma of how headstrong, and foolish he used to be. Then Ranma began to think about how he used to mistreat others, especially Mousse. Ranma would gloat over the fact that Akane had chosen him over Mousse. However, now, stuck in this time, away from their families, and friends, Ranma felt that perhaps Akane would have been better off if she had stayed with Mousse. Of course, Ranma thought that Mousse was always so cavalier with his life was because Akane had left him.

Mousse hadnít been there that day when Ranma defeated Saffron. Mousse hadnít been there the day Ranma finally managed to steal the Magic Mirror from Happosai in 2015 Ranma had wished he and Akane could be taken to a place where no one would bother them. So, they were transported thirty-five years into the past, to China of 1980, when the springs of Jusenkyou werenít poisoned. Ranma was able to cure himself of the curse. He and Akane returned to Japan of then, and stayed there for the rest of their lives. He kept thinking that Ryouga and Kuno would spring on him any minute, but they werenít even born yet. He thought Mousse would come to avenge himself on him for having stolen Akane away. But Ranma knew that wouldnít happen either. Mousse had taken Akaneís decision pretty hard, and at the same time he managed to dismiss it as bad luck.

He remembered the night before, Ranma was lain in bed with Akane and asked her, "What if Mousse comes to take you back?"

She looked at him sadly, and said, "He wonít. I know that quite well."

"Iím just thinking of our future," he lied. He was actually gloating and Akane knew it.

"Hikaru-chan wonít come for me because he doesnít care anymore." She sobbed. Then he remembered that once Akane married him, Mousse wanted nothing to do

with her, either. He remembered that Akane was still in love with Mousse. Ranma remembered that Mousse didnít go after him, and that he wouldnít come after him, because he didnít care. Ranma felt empty, because he was not part of someoneís life, because Mousseís world didnít revolve around him. Mousseís world no longer included Akane, either. At least when Akane was with Mousse, Ranma could meet with Mousseís friends. Though they never liked him, Ranma was able to talk to them. He always felt that he was talking to higher class people when he talked to Mousseís friends. Perhaps he thought that Mousseís friends would one day decide him better than Mousse, and side with him. As it turned out, they liked Mousse for who he was, and not what he did for them. Mousse would give his very life, and that was a sacrifice Ranma wasnít ready to make.

Before Ranma arrived in 1980 with Akane, he had seen Mousse very somber, and more hopeless than he had been when they first met. He would almost try to show Mousse up, who wouldnít give him the time of day. Ranma remembered his false offer of friendship, but Mousse knew what it really meant. Ranma only did that so he could be close to Mousseís friends, so Mousse could let bygones be bygones, so Mousse could be one of his many friends. Of course, Mousse would tell him, "No." and Ranma thought that perhaps Mousse knew his true intentions.

As for Yui, she was very kind, and tried to spend time with Mousse despite her schedule as a student that kept her from being home a lot. Mousse really felt better when she was around.

Later, Yui announced that she would be marrying Gendou Rokubungi, and Mousse chose to distance himself from her because she loved Gendou. What she saw in him, Mousse would never know.

He remembered that day she took him to the park, and that was where she told him.

"Really? Youíre going to Marry him?

"Yes, weíve been seeing a lot of each other, and I think heís great."

Mousse could barely hide his surprise. Heíd met Gendou when she invited him to dinner on a few occasions. As soon she left the room, he gave Mousse a slight snarl. At one point, he even told Mousse, "Listen, you little brat, if you spoil my chances with Yui, I wonít be so forgiving. Remember, I know where you live."

Reflecting on that, Mousse, didnít think Gendou was the right person for Yui. She had been his light since his parents died in the crash of the SDF-1, or so he thought. He did not want someone like Gendou to put it out.

"Itís just a little hard to imagine you and Him together."

"Heís really very nice. People just donít know him. Weíll get to know him together."

"In this case, I think not knowing is better."

She pulled on his shoulder so he could face her. He had that same look on his face when he first arrived at her house. It wasnít fair, she thought, if she wanted to be with Gendou, she would be sacrificing her relationship with Mousse. No matter what, he was a perfect gentlemen about many things.

"Hikaru, do you love me?"

"You know I do, Yui-sanÖIf he makes you happy, then do it. My opinion shouldnít matter."

"It does to me,"

"Even if I tell you that I donít like him, youíll still marry him. Wonít you?"

She hesitated.

"Donít listen to me. Iím just a kid. Iíve been on my own before, soÖ"

"Youíre leaving?"

"Knowing Rokubungi-san, heíll probably send me to Clamp to live at the dorms. But I wonít be alone there. The guys are there."

"I know," She said, in her best controlled voice. She really didnít like the Clamp boys, they got into a lot of dangerous situations, and Mousse acted as on of the bodyguards, to insure the safety of that Nokuru brat.

"Listen, Hikaru, I love you, too. For me, please try to get along with him."

She didnít realize how big a favor she was asking, but Mousse nodded, and strained to smile.

She hugged him tightly, "Great! I promise you, Hikaru, weíll make this work. Iíll talk to him about keeping you at home. I love you too much to let you get hurt."

"Me too, Yui-san,"

He just didnít get along with Gendou too well, though.

(2000)

After the wedding, Mousse distanced himself from Yui. It got to the point where he barely saw her anymore. He would come home from school, in the limo that Yui sent. Mousse didn't know it, but a lot of his education was being funded by SEELE. It was one way to keep Yui on their side.

Mousse came home one day, which hadn't been very good.

"How was your day, Hikaru?" Yui asked, smiling. Gendou was sitting next to her.

"Fine, I guess." he muttered, heading for his room.

"Listen, Child. When Yui speaks to you, you must address her in the proper manner." Gendou barked.

"I heard her." Mousse said, without facing him, and it caught him completely by surprise when Gendou grabbed his arm, and punched him in the jaw.

"Listen to me, you little brat," Gendou seetheed. "When Yui speaks to you, you listen. If you-" He felt Yui snatch Mousse from his Gendou's grasp.

"Don't you touch him! Do you hear me, Gendou?"

"The boy just needs a little discipline, Yui."

"Not like that, Gendou. If you touch him again, you will be the one leaving."

Mousse tore out of her grasp, and faced both of them. "You can stay together for all I care!" he yelled, holding his bruised cheek. "I don't want to stay here, anymore." with that, he ran out the front door. Yui looked at Gendou, angrily.

"I will go look for him. If you ever touch him again, I will hate you. Do you understand? I will want nothing to do with you."

Yui went out the front door, calling Mousse's name.

She found him in the playground at the local park. He was sitting on top of the slide, his knees held to his chest, crying. She went around, and stood beside the ladder.

"Hikaru,"

"I understand if you want me to leave." he sobbed.

"I don't want you to leave, Hikaru." Yui told him. climbing two steps up, so she could see his face.

"I told you it's OK. I hate that man. I want nothing to do with him. Why would you? No, I shouldn't ask you that."

"Hikaru, I'm beginning to ask myself that."

"Really?" he asked, looking up. She nodded, smiling.

He hugged her, and she felt so relieved that he didn't hate her. Then, she held him out so she could look at him. She saw his face, streaked with tears, and took out a handkerchief so she could dry his face off.

"Hikaru, listen to me. Gendou will be going to Antartica for the next six months. Maybe we can spend some time together then."

"Really?"

"Mm-hmm."

He hugged her even tighter. "Thank you, Yui-san." he muttered, and thought, {When I catch up to her, Iím gonna marry her.} for Mousse could never think of her as a mother. He knew who his mother was, and although Yui was kind to him, he could only think about her as a teacher. She was a teacher he now had a crush on, and his years with her would prove to be harder, because he would have to share her with Gendou.

Not too far away, Gendou watched all this, and swore to make little brat suffer as much as he could.

(2000)

Those next few months after Gendou left, he supposed those were the best months of his young life, with Yui. He couldnít have wished for anything better, and didnít. However, Gendouís impending arrival was a shadow that loomed over him. That didnít matter, now. He loved Yui, heíd take twenty beatings from Gendou if it meant spending time with Yui.

June 17th

He was putting some sun-tan lotion in his backpack, getting ready to go to the beach. Yui was wearing a two-piece swimsuit, and some sandals. She caught Mousse looking at her a couple of times, and although she gave him a hint of a disapproving look, she smiled inside. He was so shy sometimes, he looked like he would just fold up and blow away, but it was good to see him get a little bold.

"Did you put the beach chairs in the car?" Yui asked.

"Yes, Yui-san."

"Did you get the three towels I asked you to get?"

"Yes, but why three?"

"Youíll see."

Mousse heard someone knock on the apartment door. When he went to the door to answer it, he saw a tall girl with brown hair, wearing a one piece blue bathing suit Her brown hair was short, and she had two bangs on the front. Yui came to the door, and saw Mousse let the girl in.

"Hikaru, this is Ritsuko Akagi. She also goes to your school."

"Hello," Mousse said, meekly. Yui put her hand on his shoulder, making him look up at her. He didnít know what Yui, wanted him to do with Ritsuko. She seemed nice, but Mousse always hesitated when it came to talking to anyone he didnít know. Yui wished she could have taken him in sooner. She wondered how badly he must have been treated for him to shut off like that. *If I ever meet the ones that did this to you, they will have a lot to answer for. * She thought.

Ritsuko looked at the younger kid and thought, *He reminds me of those children that would be in that foster assignment program, and he sure doesnít look like her.* Finally, she decided to speak up, and asked, "Whatís your name?"

"I am Hikaru Teníou. I am in seventh grade at Clamp Academy." He told her.

"Hey, I just asked your name, not you life story." She replied, making him lower his head. That earned Ritsuko a scolding look from Yui.

"Thatís okay. Why donít we get going?" She quickly added, putting a hand on his shoulder. He looked up at her, and he was still a little embarrassed, but he was able to make a small smile. Ritsuko looked at Yui over his shoulder, and saw a trace of that scowl fade little by little.

It was the best summer of his life. He remembered Yui, smiling and laughing Ritsuko kept trying to catch up to Mousse, who was wearing a wet-suit that time, as well as a cloth to keep her chest bounded. He just didnít want Ritsuko to touch him, and then both her and Yui would find out his secret. Yui knew, though.

They had gotten Ritsukoís house to drop her off. The two waved good-bye to Ritsuko, and Yui headed for their quarters.

"Hikaru, why did you wear that body-suit?"

Mousse went completely red, and turned to face her slowly.

"Well, I usually wear a body suit to the beach."

"On a hot day?" She asked, glancing at him.

"You know about my curse, donít you?"

"Just tell me how it happened, Hikaru?"

He explained how he jumped into the Spring of Drowned Woman to save a drowning little girl, and how he got stuck with that form thereafter.

"Is that why you kept your distance from Ritsuko, and I at the beach?"

"Yes."

"Donít be ashamed, HikaruÖI may not know what youíre going through, but Iím more than willing to help you with your problem. Also, if you have physical problems with your female form-"

"Yui-san!"

"Just kiddingÖLetís go home." She told him, almost lovingly.

"YeahÖ."

Gendou arrived a month later. Yui met him at the airport, and looked at him warily. He looked back at her, a little hurt. He had hoped sheíd forgotten about what he did to the little brat. He would never hurt her, no matter what she said or did. It was Hikaru he hated. So in that moment, he made a decision. He wanted something to solidify their relationship, something that would make her unable to leave him, no matter how much she loved that little brat.

"Yui, How would you feel if we had a baby?"

"Really?" she asked, perhaps too excitedly.

"You want a baby?" he asked tentatively.

"Yes, of course I do!" she said happily, and reached over to hug him. He smiled as he felt her holding him, and it was a feeling he wanted only for him. Not Hikaru. Feeling her close was the only thing he would ever want from her. He began to think of how to tell Yui that he was planning to send Hikaru to stay at the dorms at Clamp.

A few weeks later, Yui approached Mousse after he came home school. She hadnít been feeling very well, and had to go to the hospital that morning while he got ready to go to school. She didnít even get to make him a lunch, and she was sure heíd starve.

Once he arrived home, he started heading for his room.

"Hikaru," she called from the kitchen, "Come in here, for a second, will you?"

He was relieved to hear her voice, but the fact that she had to talk to him made him feel like there was still something wrong. He deeply hoped she wasnít so sick that heíd lose her, too. Heíd already lost his parents, and now, he was going to lose her, too.

He took a deep breath, and went into the kitchen. Once he got in, he saw her sitting on the table, with one chair pulled up before her. She looked a tad pale, but other than that, she didnít seem very sick. He took another deep breath and sat in the chair she had picked out for him.

"Yes?"

"Hikaru, how would you feel about being a big brother?" She asked casually.

"Well, Iím not really sure. I mean I could take care of him and all that, but Iím not sure Iíd do much of good job."

Yui gave him a tense look, her mouth straight. She hated when he beat himself up like that, after she spent so much time trying to build him up. She felt that he put too much pressure on himself, and that was frustrating because she never gave him reason to feel pressured like that. She wished he could see himself the way she saw him, she wished heíd take a stand for once. For now, though, she just relaxed a bit, and put a hand on his shoulder.

"Iím sorry," he said.

"Donít apologize. You havenít done anything wrong." She snapped.

"Sorry." He repeated sheepishly.

"Hikaru, stop that! Iím trying to tell you something."

"Sorry." He said. Then, his eyes widened, and he covered his mouth with both hands.

"Just listen to me, alright?" she told him, calmly.

His hands still over his mouth, he nodded vigorously.

"Iím going to have a baby." She told him, softly.

"Thatís great, Yui-san. I mean, itís what youíve always wanted, right?"

She nodded, a smile on her face, and she gathered him up in her arms, and hugged him. He felt great. "You mean youíre not mad?" she asked.

"Of course, not." He answered, gladly. At least, this way she wouldnít be so worried about him all the time. Once the kid was born, Mousse supposed heíd spend more time with his friends. Also, since Gendou would undoubtedly be home more often, Mousse wouldnít be able to be as close to Yui, anymore. It saddened him, but he didnít show her that, he loved her too much to make her feel bad.

"So, youíre alright with it?" she asked him.

"Yes, but I donít see why youíre asking me." He told her hesitantly.

"Because it matters." She told him, hugging him tighter.

There was a knock at the door. Yui released Mousse from her hug, much to his disappointment though he tried not to show it.

"Can I help you?" Yui asked, as she opened the door, and then her natural smile faded the moment he saw Akane, standing in the doorway.

"Yes. I was wondering if you might be able to help me find a boy named Hikaru Teníou." Akane said uneasily, trying to think about what she was going to say to him, but then she remembered he was only a little boy in this time. Mousse wasnít the guy she had met while she was still in high school, at least not yet anyway. He wouldnít even know who she was.

"What do you want with him?" Yui asked defensively.

"I just needed to talk to him." Akane answered quickly.

"About what?" Yui wanted to know.

"He knew me." Akane said, unable to think of anything else. It wasnít fair. None of it was. She was now too old to be with Mousse. She only had Ranma to go home to, and that was fine because he had grown somewhat. But she wanted to see Mousse at least once before she died, for she knew she wouldnít survive the birth of her daughter. She knew it was a daughter she now carried in her belly. She didnít tell Ranma about the risk she was taking. He already had too many other problems. Yui showed her in, and asked her to sit down on the couch.

All Akane could say now was, "Iím sorry. I didnít mean to disturb you."

Yui looked at Akane with strained patience, and told her, "Wait right here."

Yui went into the kitchen, and came back out, Mousse trailing behind her. It was hard for Akane to believe he was he ever that young, and shy. He was so different from the morbid, intense man she knew.

Mousse looked at her, and spared Yui a questioning glance. She returned it, her brows knit, and she had pursed her lips. He shrugged, and looked to Akane. Then, he approached Akane, maintaining a more or less subtle look.

"Can I help you?" He asked.

"I knew you, a long time ago." Akane told him.

"Iím sorry, but I donít remember meeting you, before." Mousse told her politely.

"Of course, you wouldnít." She said distractedly, and then she turned to face him.

"Maíam," Mousse ventured.

"I just wanted to see you, again. Thatís all. I wanted to tell you that I cared about you, once." Akane told him.

"Are you his mother?" Yui asked defensively, eager to find out if she was responsible for Mousseís emotional outlook. She was fully ready to pounce on this woman.

"No," Akane said, maybe a little too quickly, "Iím just a friend of his familyís."

"You know where my family is?" Mousse asked hopefully.

"No, I wouldnít know exactly." Akane said. "I think they mightíve died in that

crash of last year. Iím sorry." She told him, sounding genuinely sympathetic.

"Oh, well. Itís been great talking to you." Mousse told her, his voice sinking back into that hopeless tone that Yui didnít want to hear from him. Then, he started backing away, as he said, "Iíve got homework to do, excuse me."

Yui waited until she heard his door click shut.

"Would you please leave?" Yui told Akane.

"Look, I just-" Akane began.

"I donít care. Just leave." Yui told her.

Akane tried again, and said, "I-"

"Listen. Iíve been with that boy for a couple of months already, and I finally

managed to give him a little hope. Then, you come in, and tell him this bullshit story

about knowing his family, and giving him false hopes of finding them. Well, thanks a

lot, because now, Iíll need to talk to him, and prod him along, again. He has enough

problems without you coming in here and raising his hopes. Get out of here, and donít

come back. Donít try talking to him when Iím not around either, because if I found out

youíve given him so much as a note, Iíll put a retraining order on you so effective, youíll

have to move from Japan. Get me?"

"Yes," Akane told her, while tears streamed down her cheek.

"Iíll call a limo to take you home, alright?" Yui told her, reverting to that tone of

strained patience. Akane simply nodded, and sat tight.

The limo pulled into the driveway fifteen minutes later, and Yui helped Akane

into the car.

"Tell Hikaru-chan I l hope everything goes well for him."

"Yeah, sure." Yui told her, trying to hold back the anger she felt toward this

stranger. Then, she waved good-bye as the limo pulled out of the driveway, and drove

away.

She sneered a bit, rolling her eyes as the limo left, and went inside.

Mousse was starting dinner up, and that made her smile. She supposed Mousse

brushed it aside, as he usually did when something bothered him. That was fine. She went

into the kitchen, and watched him take three steaks out of the freezer, and put them on the

wooden cutting board to defrost.

{Heís getting used to me,} she thought blissfully, { Heís finally getting used to

everything. Iím glad.)

Continued

------------

Trailer:

Yui: Good-bye, Hikaru.

Mousse: You canít leave. I just found you.

Yui: Try to get along with Gendou.

Mousse: Iíd rather die.

Gendou: I can arrange that.

Mousse: Shut up! Next, Second Impact, Gendou makes inroads with the SEELE

committee, using others here and there. Yui and Ritsuko leave, so I leave, too. All this,

and more on the Phoenix Chronicles: An Expertís Guide to Running Away.

Gendou: Run, boy. Itís probably the only thing youíre good at.

Yui: ÖÖ..