A/N: This is my first original fic. I hope it doesn't suck, since I'm not familiar with Japanese. This is dedicated to my friend, nicknamed Jam, who, although a lot younger than me, is my first, oldest, and always was, best friend. Thanks for being there for me always.



Seki Hagashikuni paused by the huge iron gates and peered through the metal bars, breathing in the fresh autumn air. Her black boots crunched against the orange and red leaves as she took a few backwards steps and glanced up at the forbidding tower of the orphanage. A white face peered out the window, wide blue eyes – or was it gray? It was too far away to tell – staring at her. She gave a small wave, hoping for some response, but the face immediately disappeared.

Seki shook her head and continued on her way to school.

'So many children,' she thought sadly, stubbing the toe of her boot onto the sidewalk, 'and no one to adopt them.'

She was so engrossed in her own thoughts that she never saw her best friend, Emiko Yokoyama, hurrying towards her, short skirt and long-sleeved blouse flying, until Emiko had almost bumped into her. "Earth to Seki-chan!" Emiko exclaimed, waving a hand in front of her best friend's face. Seki blinked, her wide green eyes confused as she turned toward Emiko.

Then she returned to the present and smiled wanly at Emiko. "Sorry, Emiko. I was thinking."

"About the orphanage again?" Emiko swung the strap of her bag off of one shoulder and fumbled in it for a second or two, then returned it onto her back. "I feel for the children, Seki, and I understand, but you brood too much on it. Lighten up a little!" Emiko wrenched a book out of her backpack, along with a green case for her reading glasses. "You should loosen up a little."

"I know," Seki sighed, "but I can't help it." She pushed back a strand of her long blond curls and glanced up at the sky. "Mind you, I try not to think about them, but they just keep popping into my mind all the time."

"I know," Emiko said sympathetically, placing her glasses on the bridge of her nose. Her large brown eyes magnified three times their size, and she looked so comical that Seki had to laugh. "Don't laugh!" Emiko berated her. "I already feel stupid enough in these new glasses." She grinned. "Ah, well. It's worth it to see that smile on your face again, Seki. You've been looking kind of worried for the past few weeks."

Seki smiled and placed her hands behind her head, looking up at the clear blue sky. "Thanks for the encouragement, Emiko. Do you think the new sensei will arrive today? Our old English teacher is gone. I always thought he was weird…and perverted."

Emiko buried her nose in her book. "He was always looking at you anyway," she said, her voice muffled. "He liked you. And he's over fifty. Gross."

"I know." Seki hugged herself protectively. "At least it's nice to know that you're at least attractive enough to attract a sensei's attention, even if it's perverted. Half the guys at school won't even look at me."

"You underestimate yourself greatly, Seki Hagashikuni."

Seki laughed again, and Emiko smiled. The heels of their shoes clicked smartly against the pavement, in perfect rhythm, as they walked together in silence. They could already hear the faint drift of noise that issued from the school courtyard, and a few children were running along the other side of the road to see who got to the elementary school first. The wind bit at their face, already cooler than that hot summer air that usually drifted past in the middle of the year. Winter was coming, and it was plain to see.

"Come on, Seki, we'll be late," Emiko said finally, replacing her book and glasses. "We'd better hurry."

Seki's green eyes darted to the dark, sinister building of the orphanage instinctively, as if looking for some comfort there. There was none in its cold hard plains, nothing that she could find. She turned back to the school, a strange bubble of sadness welling up in her. The children in the orphanage had never experienced life like this before. They had never before played as freely as the other children. And they were always somehow 'different'.

"Come on, let's go," she said, grasping her friend's arm.

School let out early.

Seki twirled a pencil between her fingers, absent-mindedly watching the lead thread in and out of the gaps between her index and middle finger. A bird cawed outside her window, then fluttered away, wings beating against the glass with a flurry of movement. She glanced at her locked door and turned away to scribble an equation on her notes.

She could hear her mother and father arguing downstairs, their voices carrying toward her bedroom, where it pounded relentlessly through the wood of her door and into her eardrums. She could hear thumps and yells, which meant it had gotten physical. She could hear…

She opened the catch on her window and breathed in the crisp cool air, peering through the red leaves of the tree that hung outside her window, its thick, knotted branches tapping against the glass. She felt herself relax as the tension flew out of her mind as well as her parents' arguing. She was grateful for that. Tugging at the band that pulled her hair into place, she let it fall loose around her shoulders and carefully turned to her mirror, examining her reflection.

Her face was small, chin finely pointed, a cute nose, large green eyes, and blonde hair. She had inherited her green eyes from her mother, who had turned thirty-four this January, but there was a lively sparkle in her eyes that had once been in her mother, but had been extinguished by time and weariness…and perhaps another cause was that of her father.

Her father had given her the nose, but aside from the nice nose, she had inherited nothing from him whatsoever. She sighed. Her father had only given them problems ever since she had been born. First, they had argued about the money. Seki's mother wanted some money reserved for Seki's college, and her father wanted it for booze and drugs. Then it was Seki. Seki should have gone to that school or this. Seki's hair should have been cut like this or that. It was an endless argument that usually involved both of them engaging in violence.

She sighed again and glanced out the window, feeling the setting sun's warmth on her face. She wished someone could hurry up and rescue her from this world that she lived in, where everything was either boring or it was dangerous. She wanted to be protected, to be loved. The only problem was that neither her mother nor father could give it to her.

The light on her lamp flickered, and a glass smashed downstairs. They were at it again.

She winced and turned toward the window again, reaching out to stroke the soft leaves of the tree. She glanced down at the sidewalk, admiring the houses and grass that grew on either side of the road like people when a limousine containing some famous person drove by. All was quiet, and she watched the last rays of the sun settle as the darkness blossomed over her little village. She admired the peace and calm…something of which her house could never achieve in its present state.

Jealousy of the peace of nature made her turn away. It could never be reached. The only way she could find calm was when she found a person to talk to…or perhaps her father would move out. Neither was likely to happen, and she let it go at that.

She ran a hand through her blonde curls and murmured into the night air, "I wish I had someone."

It was only then that her parents' screams died down, and she was left in silence, staring out at the moon.

The next day was a Saturday, and school was out for the weekend. Seki slept until late, her blankets drawn up to her chin, and she was asleep when her mother tiptoed in and kissed her on the cheek, murmuring soft words as she tucked her daughter in. Seki snuggled into the pillows unconsciously and smiled into her pillow as her mother left.

She didn't notice the two figures perched outside her window.

Emiko Yokoyama clicked on a site and watched a blurry figure of Spiderman worm its way onto the computer screen. She frowned as the speakers blared out a tune as Spiderman started to dance, wiggling his hips Elvis-style. Or so she thought it was Elvis.

'I'm not gay, I'm not gay, but I dance around in a gay gay way.

I'm not gay, no no way, but watching me dance will make you gay.'

"So, what did you think of the new teacher?" she asked Seki.

Seki was propped next to the window, her eyes dreamily drifting to the far side, to the orphanage. A book was open in her lap. It took a few minutes for her to blink and turn to Emiko and her dancing Spiderman. "Huh?"

Emiko raised an eyebrow. "The orphanage again? Didn't I tell you to stop brooding on that?"


"I told you yesterday!" she said loudly over the blare of the speakers. "You keep staring at that orphanage like it's hypnotizing you! I told you that you needed to have some fun. Stop thinking about it. It makes you gloomy."


"Cut the huh's," Emiko said irritably. "Forget it."

She turned back to her computer.

After a few moments, Seki said, "I'm sorry. I was preoccupied. Not really with the orphanage. Just something else." She played with a strand of her hair and glanced out the window. "A lot of things have been on my mind lately." Her brow furrowed, and her mouth curled into a pout.

Emiko glanced over at her, hands poised over the keys. "Aw, Seki, were your parents fighting again?"

"You read me like a book," Seki said bitterly. "Yeah, you're right, they were fighting. Mom was talking about a divorce, but Dad said he needed the money. For more drugs, I suppose." She traced her sweaty palm with a finger and wiped it on her blouse. "I can't understand why he won't get a job himself and use that money to buy the stupid drugs. He doesn't have to keep on sucking off Mom's salary for so long."

Emiko pursed her lips thoughtfully. "You know, it's partially your mother's fault."

Seki glanced at her, confused. "What?"

"Well, not to diss your mother or anything, but she's being really soft on your dad. Look at you. You're his own flesh and blood, and you hate him! She's not even related to him except in the terms of marriage."

The blonde smiled without humor. "They say love is blind."

"I'm really wondering whether it's love or just the fact that your mother is clueless." Emiko folded her arms over her chest and stared at Seki. "And you. I wonder how you can really hate your own father. I mean, my parents are odd, and that's an understatement, but I don't hate them as much as you do to your father."

"Blood isn't really that thicker than water," Seki said.

"How do you know?" Emiko countered. "Have you ever reached deep down into yourself and find out what's the extent of your love for your father? I know you, Seki. If your Dad provokes you as much as I heard – slapping you around and stuff – and if you're really mad at him, I'm surprised that you haven't murdered him by now."

"You're saying that my temper is that obvious?"

"It is, but that's not the point. There's something that's keeping you from kicking him from the house, Seki." Emiko glanced at her nails. "Tell me what it is. I understand you."

Seki remained quiet as she appraised her friend. She played with another strand of hair, brushing at the edges. "I suppose it's because," she said quietly, "of the fact that I'm always hoping that he'll become sober, act nicer, and go to a rehabilitation program. He's a man with power, and I know that. He has the right stuff to get a nice big job, provide for mother and me, or even donate to the orphanage."

Emiko grimaced. "And let me guess. He just doesn't have the guts to prove it."

Seki nodded. "I understand my father a lot more than they think. He's just a coward, and he won't accept it, and he's harming himself with drugs and alcohol. If he can just look in the mirror, maybe he would see to sides of him: a successful businessman or a blundering man with a beer gut. I wonder what he would choose." She mused this over for a while as Emiko watched her.

"Or maybe he already has glanced into the mirror," Emiko said, "and has chosen the beer gut instead."

Her friend smiled weakly, but shook her head. "I have a feeling that he isn't like that," she murmured, glancing out the window. "I have a feeling he can be nice when he wants to be."

"He just hasn't shown it yet."

Dear Seki,

I know that this envelope bears no stamp or return address whatsoever, but please understand that this letter comes from a place that cannot be reached so easily. I need your help, Seki. You are in danger. I can help you. You must first help me. You must trust in love. You must choose between us. It is your decision. When the time comes for that decision, you are alone. But now, I will help you. It is a must.

And bear this in mind, dear Seki… You are mine.


A friend

TBCI won't beg you to R&R, but it would be nice. ^^