here you all go hope you like!

A few days after Sora left the clinic he heard a curious rumor circulating around the school.

"have you heard Sora? The people moved in to the big mansion yesterday! in the middle of the night for some odd reason," megumi beamed. Sora was busy chewing on an orange slice as megumi seemed to lose herself in her own world. He turned casually and acknowledged her question.

"oh, that big house, I keep asking people about it but all they say is that the building was finished a couple months ago but no one ever bothered to move in…" he said as he greedily ate the rest of the orange…" not that m complaining, but why do you always give me your lunch?" Sora said as he stared down at an ornate box filled with food. Megumi sighed condescendingly.

"it's not JUST a house Sora. Its art! It's the most gorgeous mansion I've ever seen!" she held her hands up to her cheeks and smiled as her face went flush red. "it would be a dream come true to live there" she said as she stared over to Natsuno, sitting several seats away.

"…gorgeous house…that's all well and good, but what does that have to do with giving me your lunch? Don't you get hungry?" he heard her stomach rumble as he ate another side dish from the box. She eyed it longingly, but seemed to steel herself from the food's temptation, instead looking back over to Natsuno once more.

"I'm on a diet. I have to keep my perfect figure after all." She smiled haughtily as she pressed a hand out to Sora's face. He smiled and shrugged his shoulders. When he noticed her staring away at Natsuno, a sadistic thought passed through his mind. He got Megumi''s attention again and immediately started to slowly and deliberately eat the food in front of her, making sure she could see every delicious bite go down his throat.

"mhh, such wonderful flavor!" he smiled devilishly. "your mom really is a great cook." Her stomach growled again. she clicked her tongue derisively at him in that arrogant way of hers. Megumi sighed and started to stare at daydream about the house again. Sora finished what was left in the box and passed it back to her, though she didn't notice as she was lost in her fantasy.

"you keep staring longingly at Natsuno, why not just go talk with him? And maybe leave me alone" megumi jumped from her seat, astonished Sora noticed her staring. He smiled wolfishly at her.

"I have…. but he never says anything back. He never even bothers to look at me, not even once." She looked down and Sora could see the melancholy all over her face, he felt a pang of sympathy, but looked over to Natsuno, not totally unable to understand his resentment towards megumi. She certainly was an acquired taste.

"I'd avoid shimizu if I were you. She's…odd" Natsuno's words echoed in Sora's mind as he gazed over at her daydreaming with an innocent look on her face. He smiled. "she seems pretty harmless…. A bit shallow and pretty annoying, but harmless."

After school

Sora carefully slipped away from the building hoping that no one would notice, his head veered from left to right and he tip toed out of the building towards the main road.

"Sora!"

"fuck" his heart dropped when he heard Megumi''s voice. He tried to walk faster but she caught up with him, panting a bit as she matched his stride.

"hey, I was wondering if you would come with me while I run errands around town." She said as she smiled and skipped excitedly. Sora could feel bags forming under his eyes as her unique personality started to tire him out. He wiped the sweat from his forehead as the two continued to walk in the hot weather.

"what do you need me for?" she looked up at him with a hint of regret on her face. She was about to say something when another voice rang out behind them

"hey megumi!"

"walk faster" she whispered as she aggressively nudged Sora to push along, he glanced back to see a short girl with brown hair and star shaped pigtails closing the gap between the two. In her hand was a leash and a few feet ahead was a small dog dragging on it as hard as it could. Sora could see it straining and choking itself trying to get closer to them, barking with a high pitched squeal that caused both megumi and Sora to cringe.

"megumi did you get the homework for today? I got busy at practice and couldn't get it." The girl smiled at the two and Sora returned a kind smile of his own.

"kaori…. no." she said with a hiss in her voice as she turned and walked on, dragging on Sora's shirt collar.

"hold up megumi! I'm gonna choke!" Sora spat angrily as he swatted her hand away "who's this little guy?" he asked with a kind smile on his face as he bent down to pet the dog.

"his name is love, and you must be Sora right?" Sora nodded as he reached towards the dog. Suddenly he heard a gut wrenching snarl and enraged barking. He looked over to see the dog foaming at the mouth trying to attack his hand as it snarled viciously. Sora snatched his hand away and took a few steps backwards. He flashed the girl a tepid smile.

"I guess he doesn't like me." He said awkwardly. Kaori scolded the dog and clasped her hands apologetically to Sora.

"I'm so sorry! He's usually such a sweet dog!" her face was flush red

"let's GO Sora!" megumi angrily grabbed his arm and started to pull him away.

"well I guess I have to go kaori." Sora said sarcastically. She smiled.

"megumi, let me come by later, we can study together!" she called as megumi drug him along the path into inner sotoba. Sora caught up with megumi as she raced down the sidewalk.

"what the hell was going on with you back there?" he asked, slightly irritated that megumi tried to force him along.

"don't worry about it. Just some girl who thinks I'm her friend" she looked away from Sora as she extended a hand towards him "hmp"

"give her a chance, she seems nice." Sora said casually. Megumi looked him dead in the eye and stuck her tongue out.

"blegghh, gag. kaori is so rustic it's crazy, besides, as if I'd ever hang out with a villager." She said, over embellishing the disgust in her voice.

"so anyway, why did you want me coming with you?" She looked around and kept walking nervously.

"they don't say those awful things to me when you're here" Sora could see tears pooling in her eyes. "ever since that day in the clinic, all the villagers know you'll say something back. I guess they're too cowardly to confront people…they're all horrible. Every last freaking one!" Sora nodded in understanding and hurried megumi along.

"what was it you needed to do anyway?" he asked as the two rushed through the main walkway in the center of the village.

"I need to pick up a few groceries, and I wanted to grab something to eat." Sora gave her a queer look.

"why would you give me your lunch if you plan on eating out anyway?" the two sat down on a bench across the street from the restaurant.

"it's your fault" she squealed. "you sat there and made me watch as you ate MY food. Hmp." She turned her head in faux disgust. Sora returned to staring at the entrance, unfazed by Megumi''s bogus accusation.

"hey Natsuno's going in there. And some blonde guy too" Sora casually blurted out as megumi had her head turned. She turned around, slightly surprised, and got a closer look. She turned her head away again, this time Sora could see resentment on her face.

"we can eat later if you want… I'd understand" she whispered as she looked longingly towards the inside of the restaurant.

"does she think her crush on Natsuno bothers me or something?" he looked over at her and laughed. "megumi I don't care. You're obviously hungry…and thirsty…" she smiled and the two walked in. Sora took a moment to bask in the cool air conditioning the restaurant was pumping. He moaned as the cool air penetrated every pore of his skin, it was a welcome shift from the blistering dry heat outside. Sora leaned in to Megumi''s ear and stared to whisper. "hey, if we act like a couple Natsuno might get jealous… maybe you guys can hit it off and I can finally get some alone time" she gave him an odd look, something in her eyes was almost pleading him not to go through with the idea.

"what? are you sure? Wont you get jealous? "she asked innocently. Sora couldn't hold back his laughter.

"no, why would I? hahaha" megumi shot him an angry glance that went unnoticed as Sora wiped tears away from his eyes.

"fine…jerk" She spat. He smiled awkwardly as they walked up to a table behind Natsuno. Sora took one look at the irritated scowl on her face and immediately moved his chair back.

"jeeze, what did I say? She's staring daggers at me." Sora wondered. Natsuno looked over briefly at the two, sighed and turned back to the friend he was sitting with.

"so Tohru, have you gotten the books I need?" Natsuno asked with the usual irritation in his voice. The teenager sitting across from him had a big goofy smile on his face, he ran a hand through his messy blonde hair and his cheeks went red.

"yeah…about that…hehe" he laughed nervously. Natsuno gave him a dreadful look.

"of course you forgot. Why would I expect anything?" he grumbled. Tohru leaned away when he heard how angry Natsuno's voice was. He quickly looked around to distract Natsuno when he saw Sora in the seat behind him. He turned and smiled at him.

"Sora hey!" Sora turned and gave the teenager a queer look. "how have you been adjusting to sotoba?" he asked with that same grin.

"fine I guess…. it's a boring place though….by the way, who are you?" he was skeptical of the mysterious person socializing with him as if they'd know each other for years.

"it's me, Tohru. I'm in the same senior class as you, don't you pay attention when they take attendance?" Sora chuckled.

"not really, every subject in this school is like a year behind mainstream, so I pretty much know everything I need to already." He shot Tohru a playfully snide smile.

"yeah, I forgot haha. Anyway what are you and shimizu doing here?" he looked over to megumi and smiled. She returned it by tilting her head away and grunting irritably.

"we're on a date you rudely interrupted." She said maliciously. He flashed her a tepid smile.

"I'll let you get back to it then, oh Sora be sure to study with me sometime, I'd love to get a jump on this stuff and coast through the year" Sora smiled politely and nodded in agreement

"let's order something!" megumi exclaimed excitedly as she smiled warmly at him. The two called for a waiter and megumi went first. "I'll have these" she pointed to a row of dumplings pictured on the menu. Sora took his own and pointed to a picture across from the item megumi saw.

"this, cheese croissants" suddenly a powerful feeling overtook him "and the small strip steak…extra rare…" he said as his mouth watered.

"okay sure" the waiter wrote down their orders quickly and left the two to their own devices.

"so classes really are a year behind here?" megumi asked innocently enough.

"yeah, this place is completely ass backwards." Sora said as he leaned back and tipped in his chair. Megumi put her finger up to her mouth and looked at Sora longingly.

So…you'll study with me too right?" she asked as her eyes sparkled in the sunlight.

"you can go easy on the romantic stuff, Natsuno isn't looking yet." Sora yawned. Megumi looked a bit angry. After a few minutes Sora could smell the food cooking, and almost immediately turned his head to see the waiter setting plates on their table. His eyes watered at the sight of it. Beautifully presented especially for a small village like this, Sora grabbed a knife and began to cut in to the meat. A wave of ecstasy overtook him when the metallic scent of blood from the steak wafted up to his nose.

"open up Sora." Megumi said with a cheerful smile on her face as she held up a piece of food to his mouth. He glanced back.

"Natsuno still isn't looking, you don't have to act like this if you don't want to, hahaha." She glared at him for a moment before pressing the food gently to his cheek.

"go on." She smiled again. Sora looked around awkwardly and opened his mouth, taking the bite. She opened her mouth looking at Sora expectantly.

"what?" he asked. "is something wrong?" she stared daggers at him.

"feed me too." She tried to say with her mouth still agape.

"megumi I don't think it's working, maybe we should try something else." Sora said casually. She prodded him and he reluctantly cut a piece from the meat dropping it gently on her tongue. She smiled for a brief moment and started to chew.

"bleghh! Eww! It's like eating a bloody ice cube!" she squealed as she spat it out, rubbing her tongue with a napkin. 'ughh, why do you get it cooked like that?" she looked at him crossly. Sora gave her an irritated glance.

"you're the one who insisted I feed you! Don't you remember me ordering a rare steak? What did you think you were going to get?" Sora yelled back.

"I just thought it would be romantic, why would you ruin the moment?" she indignantly squealed.

"it doesn't matter, Natsuno wasn't looking anyway." Sora said with tired resignation. He rubbed his head and looked back up to see megumi, in tears. "sorry I couldn't make it work, but that's no reason to get so upset." Sora said, more softly this time. Megumi looked even madder as she got up from the seat.

"I don't care about him." She spat bitterly as she walked away, leaving Sora confused.

He spent the next few minutes racking his brain about it, about all the signs and hints megumi had given him, and finally the realization hit.

"this was a real date to her…" he whispered guiltily. He placed a few bills for the food on the table and nearly flew out of the restaurant. "I shouldn't care…I should be glad she won't want to hang around me…I hoped that she'd spend time with Natsuno and leave me alone…but I feel so horrible…I don't want her to be upset…for some reason…I can't stand the thought of it" Sora's mind was racing as he looked around for megumi. He combed the street until finally he saw her sitting alone on a bench. A few villagers were standing nearby gossiping to themselves, Sora raced over to her, and as soon as they saw him, left in a hurry. "megumi! I'm so sorry!" Sora panted as he ran up to her. Sweat from the heat started to pool in his eyes and he could feel it stinging his eyes, causing him to tear up.

"what's wrong with me Sora?" megumi turned a tearful face and looked him dead in the eye.

"what do you mean by that?" Sora asked softly as he sat down next to her.

"why doesn't anyone accept me? First this whole damn village, then Natsuno, and you. Why do you all treat me so badly?" she asked mid sob.

"I'm so sorry…that's right…she takes this abuse from the villagers every day…I knew it was cruel, but this must be a deep psychological issue for her…it's no wonder she latched on to Natsuno and I so quickly. We weren't from here, and she must have assumed we'd accept her automatically, that's probably why she comes on so strongly, as if we've been friends for years…." Sora sighed and put an arm around her shoulder. "I know this might sound cheap, but I wasn't treating you like that to be mean…I just didn't know how you truly felt. It was my own fault, not something that you did." He said as she started to sob into his shoulder.

"why do they all have to be so mean!? Why?! What did I ever do?" she began to cry hysterically and Sora pulled her in closer, resting his head on hers.

"now it's all starting to make sense…the flashy clothes, her…unique…personality, she wants approval and attention from someone, but every time she tries something they just laugh at her or scold her…and now she can't trust anyone from the village" Sora thought back to kaori… "even if they are genuine" Sora could feel a pit of guilt starting to form in his stomach…" even I resented her a bit…"

"I don't understand…" she moaned through her tears.

"megumi…. I know how you feel. I know what it's like to go through hell and betrayal like that. To spend every waking night wondering if things are the way they are because of me. Did I do something wrong? Have I angered god? Why did things turn out like this?" Sora rattled off a few questions like that, trying not to get caught up in his own words.

"what are you talking about?" she asked through another wave of crying.

"the reason I had to come to sotoba…my father…. he…" she looked at him with wide, sad eyes as he choked on what he was saying

"he what?" she asked quietly. Tears were pooling in Sora's eyes as he tried to find the words to explain his situation.

"he killed my mother. He went psychotic and drained every last drop of blood from her body. The bastard even hid her in our apartment until he got scared and burned it down with me inside…he tried to take me with him to hide the evidence!" Sora spat through tears of his own. "I don't know why, but I even remember him trying to talk with me as he lit the place up." Megumi looked on, face stained with mascara, horrified at the story Sora told her.

"my god...I…I don't even know what to say" she stuttered as Sora clutched on to her. His hands started to shake. "I'm so sorry." She whispered. They held each other for a while like that. Sora and megumi looked into each other's eyes. They could see the pain the other was hiding, and they leaned in. they had a quick kiss, Sora backed away out of instinct, uncertain how to handle the situation. His face went flush red and he laughed nervously.

"well that was…" he fumbled his words as the rush of endorphin flooded his mind. Megumi looked red as well, an awkward smile crept across her face.

"yeah..." she stuttered.

"just one thing though…why did your feelings shift from Natsuno to me?" he asked hesitantly. She looked around.

"I'm not sure…maybe because you actually talked with me, or maybe because of that day in the clinic…it's not really something I can explain." Sora nodded in understanding.

"look, it's getting late. Let me walk you home" megumi smiled and Sora put his arm around her as the two walked towards her house.

Several hours later.

"Sora?" Seshin grabbed Sora's attention from the book he was reading and smiled at him.

"yeah? What's up Seshin?" Sora yawned.

"I'm sure you've heard, but the family who owns the mansion moved in. I want you to take that letter and the basket to them as a housewarming present from the temple." He handed Sora a small package. Sora's eyes lit up.

"you'd trust me with something like this?" he said as pride started to fill his mind. "are you sure? I don't want to mess it up…Seshin actually wants my help with something? Ever since I got here he's pretty much left me alone so it's nice to feel needed for once." Sora nodded in approval and took the package.

"normally I'd handle something like this myself, but there were a few deaths up in an isolated part of the village called yamairi, I've got to go perform last rights. Besides, it would be a good chance for you to meet some new people, who knows what kinds of opportunities they might have." Seshin smiled and walked off, leaving Sora with the basket. He shrugged and followed him out of the temple. They talked for a few more moments as they headed down the steps, but once they reached the bottom, their paths split in opposite directions, Sora to the east, Seshin to the west.

Sora glanced at the sky, taking in the rich hues of the twilight that bathed the village as he waked up the hill to the large mansion.

"this place is a fucking castle…" Sora said as he craned his neck upwards to see the building in its entirety. There were several small towers and outcroppings linked to a massive ground floor, all lined with a beautiful white marble, and the roof was made of a complimentary blue stone, Sora assumed was perhaps jade. A large stone wall surrounded the area and gave the place a formidable edge to match its elegance. Truly it was the focal point of the entire village. And in the center of the entrance stood a large red gate, it had two sinister looking points that were forged into the metals shape. Sora almost felt intimidated as he walked up to the gates.

Without even knocking on them, the gates to the mansion opened for him.

as always i crave your feedback so please, please feel free to let me know what you thought, good or bad lol, hoped you liked have, a good one ect