Finally updated this chapter! Warning: Some of the topics may be a bit serious. However, they are still relevant.

Words to look out for:

Writing names in kanji: Your name can have several meanings depending on the kanjis you choose. 'Marii' can be written as 'true clever', 'witch reason' or 'jasmine cold'.

Senpai: Means 'the one who comes first'. Often used as a suffix for people who are in a higher year at your school or higher rank in a martial arts club. Senpais are often given the task to help out their kohai (or junior) during training or get around at university.

Shinai: Wooden practise swords that are often used in kendo. They're usually made out of bamboo.

Kendo grading: In kendo, there are no belts. There is however a grading system. It starts at 6th Kyu and goes up to 1st Kyu. After 1st Kyu, you have 1st Dan. This is called Shodan in Japan. Since Kininata is 4th Kyu, he still have a couple belt exams left for Shodan.

Omamori: Omamori is an amulet that Japanese buy at the start of the year. You can get omamoris that will bring you fortune, protection against evil or good exam results.


Matters of the heart!

A soft 'bip-bip' made the girl look up from her computer. She had apparently got a new text message. 'Hey Himiko. I'm going to the supermarket to pick up the newest Shonen Jump. Anything you need? You can pay me back when you got money. Marii'. She smiled when she read the text message. Her friend was probably done with her last lesson for the day. Or perhaps she was done studying. Himiko wasted no time in writing a reply.

'Hey Marii. Could you please buy 10 eggs (cheapest brand) plus a bottle of diet Coke? If you're up for it, we can have some snacks together. Himiko' wrote the girl. It did not take her long to receive an 'OK' with a smiley face. The female glanced at her wrist watch. Her eyebrows shot straight upwards. 'Is it 1 PM already? No wonder I'm feeling a bit hungry. I have not eaten since 9 AM!' realized the nurse student. She was about to go to the kitchen when she heard a number of voices.

'Maybe I should wait until they're done. I still need to finish my chapter after all' recalled the nurse student. She went back to her room as quietly as possible. Once inside, the girl opened her book to page 197. There were just a couple more pages to go until the chapter was finished. 'Better make sure to-'. Her concentration was broken when her cellphone started beeping again.

'I'm in the lobby!' wrote her friend. The black-haired female got up and laid her book back in her bookshelf. She jogged out of the hallway with the keys in her hand. Marii sat in the lobby with a plastic bag next to her. "Himiko! How're you doing?" greeted the girl. "I'm a little tired. Been doing housework and reading since 9 AM. Today is the calmest day of the week for me" replied the female.

"Huh, that's almost opposite of me. I got most of my lessons today plus Wednesdays. Thursdays are my calmest day. I don't mind really. Means I can get the heavy stuff done early" told the language student. The duo walked up to the kitchen with the eggs. 'Hm. The kitchen is livelier than normal' noticed the younger female.

A group of students were occupying the kitchen table. A small stable of books were closest to the wall. In the center stood a large pitcher of iced coffee. Each person had a booklet in front of them. The freshman felt her eyes widen when she saw the title of the booklet. Many of them were labelled 'bachelor paper' or 'outline for bachelor paper'. 'Holy Kami-sama. I did not realize that bachelor papers were THAT EXTENSIVE!' observed the girl. Her father had studied marketing plus economy back in the day. According to him, most of his bachelor papers consisted of tables plus methodology. 'My paper will probably contain a lot more text. So much for majoring in literature and language' thought the brunette.

"What would you like to drink Marii?" asked her friend. "Erm - diet Coke or tea would be great Himiko" replied the female. "I have some unsweetened black tea here. Is that all right?" inquired the older girl. "I can give it a try. I don't think I've tried iced black tea before" admitted Marii. The inky-haired girl smiled as she poured the dark liquid into two cups. "There we go! Let's go back into my room. I think my hallmates need some peace" muttered the female. Her friend smiled as they walked into the dorm room.

"All right Himiko. Here is your Shonen Jump plus your eggos. The receipt is inside the magazine" informed the younger girl. She handed her friend the bright yellow plastic bag. "Thanks a lot Marii. I've been really busy with reading and chores. My muscles are sore from Saturday night too" laughed Himiko. "Let me guess. Gym day" stated her friend. "Ding-ding-ding! We did cardio first. Next on the agenda were the glutes, abs and quads. That's your butt, stomach plus your thigh" explained the female when her friends' face turned blank. "That sounds rough. I bet it does your good though" replied the language student.

"It does. Nearly all types of strength workout makes your skeleton and muscles stronger. Plus that it turns up your metabolism a notch. I need to be in good shape to work as a nurse. Especially if I have to deal with patients who have broken something. Or elderly people" told the nurse student. "Do you think you'll get a lot of those? I mean, aren't there nurse specialists? My aunt told me she specialized in plastic surgery. However, she did that after becoming a registered nurse" inquired her friend. "Yes, you're correct. Some nurses are clinical nurse specialists. Other nurses are ER or critical care. Pretty sure you can specialize in mental health too. I haven't decided yet however" admitted the girl.

"When do you have to decide then?" asked the teenager. She took a sip of her tea while looking at her friend. "Before my third year. So far, I am just trying to survive the curriculum. Had to read about gender identities earlier today. As in, gay, lesbian plus so many more. It's quite interesting actually" replied the older female. Her friend nodded, her ice blue eyes looking alert. 'I can almost see her brain processing this. Those eyes can't hide much. No wonder she uses the kanji's for truth and clever for her name' mused Himiko.

"I have to admit I don't know a lot about that. The only thing I don't like is when people use 'gay' as a slur. Nobody can help falling in love with the same gender. On another note, 'gay' actually used to mean 'happy' back in the day" informed the brunette. "In English or Japanese?" replied her friend. "English" stated the younger female. "Hm. That's interesting. I should keep that in mind when I have my next lesson" told the nurse student.

"You should. Speaking of sexuality, Valentines are coming up soon. Have you bought your chocolates?" inquired the girl. The impish smile on her face made the older female gag on her drink. "Uhm - yes. I bought one for Kininata-san the other day. Arkai is getting one as well. Same goes for one of my classmates. He's a second year student who is taking psychology as an elective. Pretty sure his major was in computer science" informed the nurse student. "I bought one for Kininata and Arkai-san as well. Oh - I bought one for my classmate as well. He's already taken though. Which is sad for me. His girlfriend is lucky though" replied Marii.

"Care to tell me more Marii?" asked her friend. "Hm...he's rather smart compared to the other freshmen in my class. Or at least serious about the subject. Furthermore, he's treating most people with respect. The only ones he's rude to is a guy who insulted his girlfriend. Hence why I know he's dating. He looks a bit scruffy, but cleans up well. That's why I think his girlfriend is lucky" told the female. "Speaking off cleaning up well...I saw Kininata at the gym on Saturday. He looked exhausted to put it mildly. His eyes were all...". The black-haired girl made a blank expression with her eyes. "I think I know why that is. He's training for an upcoming kendo exam" revealed her friend with a serious look at her face. She lifted the glass before she sipped some of the cool beverage.

"I hope he pass. I mean, aren't those exams kind of hard?" inquired the girl. She was the only one in her friend group who did not train martial arts. Being evaluated in front of an audience was her version of hell. "It can be. Depends on what grade you're being examined for. Those who have lower ranks get more slack than higher grades. A middle school senior don't know as much math as a high school senior for example. Some sports are more about control. I don't think Arkai-san for example would get top grades if he slammed someone's head into the floor. Another important aspect is the sensei. An experienced sensei with a high dan grade usually know what they're doing. Kininata told me that the facilities here are a lot better than Kosame. That's kind of sad" told the language student.

Her friend nodded in agreement. Not having a good teacher or instructor could make or break a class. "Oh, that reminds me. I got to go for my karate session. It was nice to see you again" said the girl. "Nice to see you too Marii" told Himiko with a smile. Her friend exited the room, leaving her alone. 'Guess it's time for the last part of my to-do list. Make a good dinner' decided the teenager with a smile.


'One...more...to...go' thought the the male as he lifted the weight. Sweat dripped down his face plus his arms. This annoyed him quite a lot. Especially when he was lifting weights. The rock music blasted through his headphones as he lifted his left arm. Kininata did the last curl before he dropped the weight to the floor. His kendo exam was in less than two months. The instructor had advised him to do more strength training.

Fortunately, the guy got a discount on his gym membership. Students who trained martial arts at the gym only had to pay 4000 yen per month. Another bonus was the free consultation with a trainer. Said trainer gave him a training program that would produce some results. The biology student had been training for nearly three months now. So far, there were some promising results. He was able to lift heavier weights compared to the start. Another bonus was that he lost a couple pounds.

The kendo session today was cancelled. Both instructors were at a seminar downtown. 'I need some water. My mouth feels like sandpaper' realized the male. He put the weights back before he walked to his water bottle. There were plenty of people at the gym today. Probably because it was January, and time for New Years resolutions. Jade green eyes suddenly caught the attention of a black haired woman. She was of average height with pale beige skin. Her figure made him sweat a bit more than usual. The young woman wore black tights plus a crimson tank top. Both of these showed off her slender hourglass frame quite well.

'Don't stare. That's rude. Especially since this is a gym. People are here to exercise, not to ogle' thought the redhead. He kept his head down while he unscrewed the cap on his bottle. Inside it was some neon yellow liquid. It was some vitamin powder that Tsuyoshi gave him for Christmas. This powder promised to give you more energy plus better skin. The guy was a bit suspicious since there was little evidence for supplements like these. His friend plus many people online however, told otherwise.

'Oh well. It was a gift, so I didn't waste any money. I like the taste too' concluded the teenager. He swallowed a few gulps of the pineapple flavored water while sitting down. The cold liquid did wonders for his dry throat. He cleared his throat before glancing at the training program. Jade green eyes scanned the different exercises while his mind checked them off. 'Let's see. I only have the back extension on the bench left. That's great' thought Kininata. He picked up the weight he dropped earlier before walking over to the bench.

The guy put on his song before he resumed the workout. He could feel every single vertebrae move as he bent downwards. 'Breathe. Remember what you'll gain out of this!' recalled the freshman. The trainer had advised him to do multiple back exercises. Standing at the lab and training kendo required a strong back with good flexibility. Back extensions would strengthen his lower back muscles plus the core. The redhead let out a sharp exhale while lifting the last exercise in his third set.

Suddenly, a set of strong arms grabbed onto his shoulders. The male snapped his head up to see who it was. "ARKAI?" exclaimed the biology student. Good thing that he was too tired to shout very loud. "In person. I had NO idea you used to go to the gym Kininata" replied his friend with a smile. "Honestly, I am just as surprised as you are. How long have you been going here?" asked the younger guy. "I started going here in early November. Had some friends who went here. What about you?" inquired the brunette. "You beat me with about two weeks. I started in late November. The kendo session got cancelled today due to hall reparations. Hence why I'm here" told the redhead.

"Makes sense. I won't disturb you anymore. Want to meet me outside the locker at 7:30?" inquired the older male. "Sure" told the guy with a smile. The older teenager grinned before he walked away. 'Right. Two more sets to go' recalled the biology student. He started on the second set with his breathing pattern in mind. Right now, his concentration was on the spine. The teenager took a deep breath as he completed the last set.

'I'll stretch at home. It's too crowded here' decided the freshman. He walked into the locker room to take a shower. A familiar scent of eucalyptus, sweat plus a hint of dirt made his nose tingle. There were only a couple of guys there. The accountancy student was nowhere to be seen. Kininata walked over to his yellow locker and unlocked the door. Next, he took out the plastic bag that contained his toiletries. The guy positioned himself behind his locker door while taking off his clothes.

He was not a person who liked to show off his body to everyone. Especially since there were things he wanted to change. Having milky-white skin plus a slim body did not equal a very masculine shape. Then again, things could be worse. At least his body was healthy with no extra weight. 'Looks like I got everything. Better get in the shower' decided the redhead. He tied the grass green towel around his waist and walked into the shower area.

Public showers were not exactly enjoyable. The gym however, made the experience as enjoyable as possible. The showers were in bright cobalt blue cubicles for starters. Some artwork at the wall made it look less dreary. Having soft light made the atmosphere less clinical too. Green eyes checked the cubicles to see which one was taken. The one in the middle had its door wide open with nothing inside it. 'Awesome' thought the male with a grin. He stepped inside, locked the door and turned on the shower.

His muscles let out a collective sigh as the hot water hit his body. After washing himself thoroughly, it was time to do the hair. 'I better cut my hair again soon. It's getting a bit long' noticed the biology student. He turned off the water once his hair was squeaky clean. The guy went back to the locker room once he dried himself down. Jade eyes glanced at the watch. Just ten more minutes until he was meeting Arkai. The teenager put on his T-shirt plus a pair of blue jeans. Last on his list was a knitted dark green sweater. He started to brush out his hair when a couple of men entered the locker room.

"This exercise program is working wonders! I have not had any back pain for two weeks" stated a man with short brown hair. "Same. I've lost seven kilos since New Year's Eve!" told his grey-haired friend. Their comments made the younger male smile. He felt happy on their behalf, even if he didn't knew them. 'That reminds me. Wasn't there an article last week about the Kosame health?' recalled Kininata. The article had been a somber read for the guy. Back pain was the third largest reason for sick leave. Furthermore, overweight people were costing the nation millions. Kosame was at the middle of the ranking.

'I wonder if that will change in the future. Or what kind of actions the ministry of health and care services will take' pondered the redhead. He exited the locker room after he put on his shoes. The sound of people talking and laughing made him feel slightly at ease. Very few people talked in the gym area, making the atmosphere more serious. The lack of sweat odor helped as well. Jade green eyes scanned the lobby area. It took little time to find his friend. He stood next to the vending machine. The accountancy student wore winter boots, dark gray jeans plus a navy blue parka jacket. He smiled when he saw the younger male approach him.

"Hey Kininata! Glad to see you made it out of the gym alive" greeted the older guy. "Same goes for you. Some of those guys there look like they could rip me in two" replied the biology student. He zipped up his beige puffer jacket before they walked outside. It was dark outside, and a cold wind whipped through the campus. "How was your day Kininata?" asked the brunette. "It was fairly calm. I had two lessons, and handed in my assignment after lunch. I went to the gym once I finished reading for tomorrow. We're doing more advanced things at the lab. What have you been up to lately?" replied the guy.

"I just handed in an assignment as well. Next was my economy lesson. I did some reading with two friends after lunch. After that, I went here to train with them" told his friend. Kininata was not surprised to hear that the older male had new friends. He was more outgoing after all. "Are those two friends of yours from Kosame?" inquired the male. "No, they're both from Kashiwa. Their names are Osamu and Shinichi. Osamu-san majors in computer programming while Shinichi-san majors in economy and marketing. He told me that he would spend his junior and senior year in Soseki. Enrai doesn't have the marketing subjects he needs" explained Arkai.

"That's interesting" said the male. They both reached the zebra crossing, and waited for the traffic to pause. Both of them were happy to be back in Enrai after the holidays. Especially since they didn't fail any of their exams. 'I better keep up my good work. If not, I'll end up like my old friends' recalled the taller guy. Seeing how his friends treated the girls made him quite disgusted. Then again, that type of behavior was probably accepted at a building site. Both of the Kosame teens crossed the street in silence. They kept walking for a while until they reached the college.

Walking into the lobby made them sigh in relief. The warmth wrapped around them like a cozy blanket. Furthermore, there was no icy wind either. "Hey there guys. I think you should check your mailboxes. A girl was in here an hour ago. She laid something inside your boxes" greeted the guard. The duo raised their eyebrows in wonder. They went straight to the mailboxes with their keys ready. "Fingers crossed that it's not a bomb" muttered the accountancy student. His friend gave him a wry smile in reply. Two small rectangular packages laid inside their mailboxes. The redhead had received one wrapped in green paper with a golden bow. The other male held one wrapped in dark blue paper with a silver bow. On the front of each box was a small envelope.

The brunette opened the envelope. Inside was a light orange card with a smiley face. 'Happy Valentines Arkai! Here is some giri-choco. I hope you like it! Himiko and Marii' read the card. He smiled as he opened the small package. Inside laid two Kit Kat bars. One was dark chocolate while the other was caramel. "Well, looks like someone remembered us for Valentines. What did you get Kininata?" asked the teenager. "I got a dark Kit Kat and one with chestnut flavor. We better give them something for White Day. This is the first chocolates I've received this year" told the shorter guy. The older male noticed the look in his eyes.

'I almost forgot! He dated Miyani last Valentines!' remembered Arkai. He remembered how his friend reacted when the girl broke up with him. Especially since they had been dating for half a year. 'I hope he gets a new girlfriend during his time here. I mean, we don't have to worry so much about our parents now' thought Arkai. "I agree with you. What do you think we should give them? I think white chocolate is a bit outdated" told the guy in an attempt to shift the focus.

Kininata knitted his brows in concentration. "I agree. Maybe we should give them something useful? Since they're not our girlfriends, I don't think candy is appropriate" suggested the male. "I like your suggestion. Maybe we should give them some new pens or something" replied his friend. The shorter guy gave him a dumbfound look. He admired the older male for his outgoing nature, but his lack of girl knowledge was something else. The brunette knew very little about women or girls. That was a shame since he treated females a lot better than an average teenager. "Erm...I thought perhaps we could give them something manga-related. Or perhaps an omamori of some sort" said the biology student.

His friend nodded in agreement. "I think that's a good idea. I know Himiko likes omamories" recalled the accountancy student as they went towards the staircase. The younger male pulled out his key ring when they reached his floor. "Let's meet up one day to buy the girls some gifts. I guess we'll see each other soon" told the teenager. "I can't wait. See you later Kininata. Don't forget to stretch" answered Arkai. His grin made his friend smile as he opened the door to his hallway.


Mini profile 4: Relations.

Name: Kininata Yukimura.

Closest family: Tazuma Yukimura (brother), Katsumi Yukimura (mother) and Takao Yukimura (father).

Position in family: Youngest child.

Closest friend: Arkai Kurosawa.

Friends: Tsuyoshi Miura, Yasuo Shimizu, Marii Kiyomizu and Himiko Fujiyama.

Not on good terms with: None.

Previous love relationships: Miyani Sato.

Current love relationships: None.

Civil status: Single.