"He really gets under my skin; he has been there since the moment I met him. I don't know what to do! Half the time I literally want to STRANGLE him!"

Hilary held her jotter pad in both hands as she perched on the edge of the bathtub. She twiddled the chewed biro between her thumb and forefinger and used the other hand to push back a lock of her chocolate brown hair behind her ear. The slender fourteen-year-old tapped her water-wrinkled foot against the side of the tub as she scribbled furiously in her pad. She was dressed in nothing but a regulation pink towel and her semi-damp hair was falling down at the nape of her neck.

The scratching of the nib on the paper ceased, and Hilary re-read her work under her breath, pride evident in her low voice. She grinned to herself, crossing some words out and re-scribbling alternatives. She sighed happily, crossing her arms across her chest and cradling her precious notepad to her.

"I wonder what would be a good writer's name for me?" she murmured to herself, gazing at the condensation on the window, masking the twilight outside. "Hilary Tachibana doesn't sound so great if I have to be anonymous…" She screwed up her face delicately. "Hilary… Hilary… Hiwatari?" She laughed out loud, at the combination of the names. "No way!"

She mused again, tapping the biro against her chin. "Hilary… Tate? Hell no!" She smiled to herself, and reached out a finger to trace a path on the wet window. "Hilary Granger…" she murmured, smiling decisively.

Suddenly, her finger juddered to a half as she cleared enough from the window to reveal the reflection of someone standing by the bathroom door. She whirled around, and her cheeks coloured as she pulled the pink towel further up.

"Finished?" asked a cheekily grinning Tyson.

"Tyson! How long have you been in here?!" she asked, far more concerned with the fact he may have heard her reading from her pad than the fact that she wasn't properly dressed.

"Long enough," he smirked. Her temper rose.

"Well get outta here you lecher!" she yelled, still clutching the towel tightly.

"You've been in here for over two hours Hil," he complained. "I need to go to the toilet!"

"Get OUT!" she growled, shoving him out the door and slamming it on his toes. Tyson stared at the closed door for a second.

"Jeez…" he mumbled, before walking over and climbing with experienced skill up to the top bunk.

Daichi was unfurling his sleeping bag on top of the just-only-adequate bed on the other side of the small room, whilst Kenny was sitting on the bunk above that, sitting cross-legged, running some scans on his laptop. It wasn't an expected arrangement. They were in Zurich, and just like always the city had ran out of hotels. Finally they had their luck with a small, but decent accommodating motel.

"Told you not to go in there Tyson," Kenny murmured.

"Did you atleast get a peep?" Daichi sat up. Tyson looked down at him in disgust.

The boys jumped as the en-suite bathroom door flew open and Hilary, clad in her lemon-yellow pyjamas strode across the room, throwing her damp towel in the general direction of the radiator and climbing into the bunk below Tyson with her jotter still in her hands. There was an uneasy silence.

"Er, goodnight, Hilary…" mumbled Kenny, feeling the need to break the oppressive silence. Hilary mumbled a reply, then turned her back on the room so she was facing the wall. Tyson sighed as he skimmed down the bunk ladder and she didn't turn around or acknowledge him. He noticed that the tips of her ears were pink, and knew well enough to leave her alone.

"And no one thinks this is weird," Hilary scribbled in the pad, "that I'm here, sleeping in a room with three guys and one of them just walked past my bed wearing nothing but boxers …"

A little later,

Daichi's eye had started to twitch in an interesting fashion. Kenny had somehow permanently attached sofa cushions to his head, covering his ears and was carrying on as normal. However, Tyson, the one closest to the source of the annoyance, was simply staring into space. Yet Hilary still continued tapping that bloody pen against her front teeth.

Unsurprisingly, Daichi was the first to crack. "I'm gonna go outside and train! I can't take that annoying noise anymore!"

"Maybe that annoying noise is your voice," Hilary sassed, still thinking about something to scribble.

Kenny seized his opportunity. "Uhh…I am gonna go, run a lay out for tomorrow's event." He babbled, "Excuse me…"

Tyson raised an eyebrow as he watched his shorter friends leave. At least now the tapping had stopped, but it was replaced by the infernal scratching of the cheap nib of the pen against the paper. Tyson gritted his teeth against the sound that had invaded his life for the past two days. It wasn't just the noises that were annoying. It was the way Hilary had changed. She barely spoke to any of them, and even at meal times it was obvious that she was still writing in her mind. Her onyx eyes that used to flash with anger whenever he annoyed her now constantly scoured the words that she had written, and sometimes, he would have given anything for her to wallop him with her fists again.

Now whenever he or any of the others annoyed her, she'd simply go straight back to furiously writing, and would vent her anger that way. It was… surreal to say the least.

"Tyson?" Tyson turned towards the turning-unfamiliar voice.

"Hmm?" he answered. Hilary's cheeks flushed ever so slightly, as if she were embarrassed to be asking him a question.

"What day of the week was it when we met?" Tyson blinked.

Thursday, his mind immediately blurted. It was your first day at school. You lashed out at me because I didn't know about the Kamakura Period, like it was any of your business. You insulted beyblading and were on my tail since that day…" He lied, "Why should I remember?" he snapped, defensively, quite upset that she didn't remember things like that.

Her cheeks flushed again, but this time with annoyance. "because it was also your first day at school as the Beyblade Champion!" she scolded, "You can't forget such trivial things, Tyson!"

"Oh," he mumbled, berating himself for forgetting that. "Thursday."

"Thank you," she snapped, before returning to her ferocious abuse of the thin paper. Tyson sighed. Enough is enough, he thought to himself.

Later that night…

"Okay, it had to be here somewhere…Jeez she had a lot of these…"

Tyson sat cross-legged on the floor, the light from his torch slightly wavering. He was so dead if she caught him. Worse than dead, he would be annihilated.

Quickly he skimmed the front covers of the notebooks. Luckily, Hilary was quite an organised person, and had numbered and dated each of her ten or so notepads. He found the first one without much difficulty, and curiously read the first page.

Aventures d'une jolie femme

Written by Hilary _

He stifled a giggle. Oh man! He and the others had guessed she was writing some soppy romance story set in France, not some kinda voodoo self-help book! Still sniggering to himself, Tyson flipped through the most recent of the notepads, not counting the one she currently had under her pillow.

"Have you ever felt that because of this reputation you've built up around the guys you can't indulge yourselves in little, minor out-of-character actions? I feel like that all the time – it's stupid and I don't know why, but sometimes I just feel like quoting poetry and greeting each of the guys with a good-morning kiss on the cheek, (except Daichi!) but then I imagine the LOOKS I'd get from them, and suddenly lose the urge. It's not even outlandish things like that, that I feel I can't do… it sounds stupid, like I am a growing teen now. I should start exploring different styling options. I don't admit it, but I hate my hair. But it's just that … the first time Boy-X-that-I-travel-with saw me with my hair down, he kept looking at me like it was some kind of freaky, unnatural occurrence, and it's put me off it for life!"

Tyson paused. Boy-X-that-I-travel-with, he thought. Is she talking about me? He thought back carefully. When had he first seen Hilary. He never held anything against those chestnut locks, but yeah…they had paralyzed his gaze for a moment. Wait a sec, Hilary knew he was staring? He'd been staring at Hilary like her hair was freaky? Nah, it wasn't that! It had just been that she looked SO different.

Tyson bit his lip – as much as she tried to hide it, he knew that she was very, very self-conscious, and knew exactly what had possessed her to think that him staring at her had been in ridicule. Of course, he stared at her! She may be just Hilary, but she WAS a girl, and she HAD been standing in front of him looking vaguely attractive… Tyson blamed the hormones.

Tyson skimmed a few more pages. His fingers and eyes halted as he came across a page that looked a lot more worn than the others – there had been many crossings out, and the page after it had even been ripped out.

"He really gets under my skin; he has been there since the moment I met him. I don't know what to do! Half the time I literally want to STRANGLE him!"

Tyson flinched. No prizes for estimating that was him, he guessed. Quietly, with his lips set in a grimly straight line, he closed the notebook and stuffed it and the rest of them back into the shoulder bag. He yawned, without his usual zeal and enthusiasm. For some weird reason, he felt utterly exhausted. And in a slight way… utterly dejected.

Next day…

"Hilary! He's just a crackpot who's trying to take you for a ride!" yelled Tyson, trying to conceal the concern in his voice with scorn. Hilary looked up with hatred at him and Kenny, Ray and Max exchanged looks. They were wisely keeping quiet. Kai stood with cross arms in the corner without a care in the world.

"Oh, right – so the only way anyone could be interested in my writing is if they were a complete lunatic, is that right, Tyson?" she countered, jumping up to her feet and thumping her chest with her balled up fist. Tyson hesitated. The nicest way to say this…

"Yes!" he blurted out. "Can't you see? I thought you were smarter than this, Hilary!" Hot tears stung the back of her eyes: his words were cutting deeper into her than any before. "He just wants you to come see him in Milan, then he'll take advantage of you!" Tyson bellowed.

Tyson turned back to Hilary with sorrowful dark eyes – not sorry that he was hurting her, but sorry that she was being played by this obvious fraud. Why couldn't she understand?

"Why can't you understand?" Hilary wailed, with a crack in her voice. "He's a respectable publisher; I've seen him on television and everything!"

"You don't know this world like I do!" he argued.

"Tyson, unlike you I'm not a total thicko! I can carry my own weight and I'm going, no matter what you say!"

"Don't be daft! You have barely any money and nowhere to stay!"

Kenny, Max, Ray, Kai and Daichi were flitting back and forth between the two enraged teens, looking like spectators at a tennis match.

"My cousin lives in Milan. I can stay with her," Hilary said, decisively, her voice calming slightly.

"No!" spluttered Tyson, with his mouth hanging open. "There is absolutely NO WAY I am letting you go!" Hilary's furious auburn eyes narrowed into menacing slits.

"Let me?" she growled, in a low, frightening voice. "Well I've got news for you! You are NOT my boyfriend and do you know what? You are NOT my friend either."

Tyson stared at her venomous face, as she scowled around at everyone in the room, making the boys cower backwards. Hilary swirled around with a flurry of brown hair and vanilla scented body-spray and practically ran up the stairs; unbeknownst to the boys, taking deep, wracking breaths to compose herself.

"Hilary…" Tyson murmured, his tanned face showing regret for once. "I'm just worried about you…"

Six months later…

The gang, no matter how strange they were together, were making excellent time reaching Copenhagen. Both Tyson and Max were in high spirits, foreseeing their victories. Tyson trotted dutifully along and Max positively strutted along, with his general aura of moodiness clouded around him. Daichi popped in and out of tree branches, tipping over rocks and lifting up rotting logs to see if there were any interesting specimens. Ray strode along, clutching the wide chest straps of his large green backpack, with a suspiciously happy looking smile on his face as he allowed his feet full responsibility, as he lost himself in a daydream.

"Stop worrying about herself, will you? Wherever she is, she's following her bliss," encouraged Max, bluntly as he guessed correctly what his shorter friend was thinking of. Tyson stared up at him in innocent shock.

"Yeah, but…maybe I said too much…" sulked Tyson. I should have never let her go, thought Tyson bitterly to himself, as they walked on the streets of Copenhagen. It was far too early for the harassed Tyson to sleep, so he slipped out of the hotel to wander down the high street. It was only about 7pm, and there was still a heavy bustle of shoppers and partiers flooding the narrow streets. Tyson trudged onwards with his shoulders hunched and his hands deep in his pockets, staring morose fully in at a window display from time to time.

He had been walking for about fifteen minutes, aimlessly, until a pretty display in a window on the other side of the street caught his eye; well, not so much a pretty display than a cardboard cut out of a pretty young lady. It wasn't anything to striking; in fact it was done entirely in greyscale. She was simply sitting on a chair looking backwards over her shoulder and smiling.

Tyson drifted over the road to look in the window more closely. The words 'Hil Grangbana: signs her sensational new book April 12th!'

Tyson stared again at the grey toned face of the girl. Something stirred. He walked haltingly over to the automatic doors and then into the brightly lit and busy book shop. He walked forwards and almost fell over a strategically placed display of pink, paperback books. Tyson reached over and picked up a copy, wincing as he left smudgy fingerprints on the glossy surface.

Aventures d'une jolie femme

By Hil Grangbana

The bold and chunky letters on the front screamed at him.

"Oh. My. God," Tyson whimpered, as he stared back at the card-board cut out with new eyes. "Hilary?"

The re-arrival of a subdued Tyson at 8pm with a pink book tucked under his arm did not go unnoticed by Max.

"Reading up on the facts of life, eh Granger?" he jeered, then face vaulted off the bed as Tyson completely ignored him and rushed into the bathroom with his book. Tyson sat cross-legged in the shower, leafing frantically through the rough and slightly brown coloured pages of the book. He recognised it; not just passages that he sneakily read, but her whole tone and style of writing. A beaming smile broke onto his face: Hilary had done it!

With a determination that was so familiar to him, Tyson settled down. He started from page one, and worked his way through the pages, through the book, through the story, through Hilary's life. Once or twice she had him blinking back tears as she described events he remembered, but never knew hurt her so. He felt the odd stab of pain whenever he read an uncaring or preoccupied remark about 'Boy-X-that-I-travel-with', but mainly he just sat there, uncaring when he felt his legs fall asleep. He sat, reading intently, until the very end of the last chapter, only briefly noticing there was an epilogue.

It was true, he realised. He had never seen her in her awkward position as the only girl in a group of boys that fluctuated from two to five depending on where Max, Rai or Kai where headed, as they regularly travelled as a large group. Regardless of the fact that she was a manager, Tyson had always dismissed her skills as 'adequate' and pretended that they didn't even touch upon his.

Tyson felt strange all of a sudden; almost like he had violated her, like he had just read her diary or something. She seemed like such a different and multi-dimensional person now, instead of just… Hilary.

Tyson took a shuddering breath and stared at the author photo at the back of the book, as if he was asking the make-up smeared and posing Hilary for help. He returned to the place in the book where he had kept his thumb, and began to read the epilogue.

"I hope you have enjoyed reading my book. I have enjoyed writing it immensely, and in fact have just given the ultimate sacrifice for it to be shared with all of you. I just signed a contract with my publisher, but in order to do this, I'm afraid I have betrayed my best friend in the entire world. 'X', I know you were just trying to protect me, and I thank you for that. You know I'd do the same for you. If you are reading this, I hope you can realise what I mean when I talk about you. Try to read between the lines a bit. I'm sorry if I made you and the others worry. You're my star, and I'll never think that of anyone else. Love, Hil xxx"

Tyson blushed deeply, a custom he was not very used to. Jeez, he was acting like some love-struck teenager; blushing just cos she signs something 'Love' and adds kisses, and falling head over heels for cardboard cut outs of her. He sighed deeply, and contently, leaning back in the shower and crossing his arms over the book which he held to his chest. He felt warm all over.

Somewhere in Los Angeles,

"You'll be fine, doll," croaked Lisa in a guttural voice she lit up yet another filthy cigarette and waved it around in the air. Hilary smiled self-consciously, and she tried to not let her disgust show as the petite talk-show hostess breathed foul-smelling and deadly smoke all over her. A busty brunette fussed over Hilary's hair and numerous people holding everything from clipboards to cameras ran around the studio.

"And we're on in five – four – three – two…" came a seemingly bodiless voice.

"Welcome back to Lisa Live!" chirped Lisa, in a light airy voice that could not have been more different from the one she had just been using. "Today your telephone guru is none other than the teenaged author of the best-selling cult book, Aventures d'une jolie femme! Hilary plastered a smile onto her face and gazed warily into the camera.

I wonder if Tyson is watching… she thought.

"Hil Grangbana!" A little sign concealed from the camera blinked on with the word 'applause' and the studio audience went wild. Hilary frowned – she bet half these people had never heard of her.

"Hil? Hil? Miss Grangbana?" Lisa reached out and tapped Hilary's shoulder, and she jumped guilty as she realised she had not been responding to the name that her publicity agent had given her. "Are you ready to take your first caller?"

"Yes," Hilary croaked, swallowing deeply. There was a barely inaudible click in her earpiece.

"This is 'Manless in Manchester'," Lisa announced, and Hilary winced.

"H-hello?" she murmured, timidly.

"Hi Hil," came a young woman's voice down the line.

"Hey uh, Manless. W-what's the problem?"

"Well I'm manless."

"Is that such a bad thing?" Hilary smiled.

"But I'm in love with my best guy friend," the caller moaned. "I thought you could help since you're in love with yours…" Hilary chuckled.

"Hmmm? What makes you say that?" she asked with a feigned innocence.

"It's totally obvious dear – that 'X' guy." Hilary smiled again.

"Well Manless, the best I can tell you is to be yourself, and if it's meant to happen, then it will happen." There – that was easy enough to say. Hilary had been telling herself that for years now. There was a brief exchange of thank yous, and Manless vacated the line. Hilary felt happy that she was helping, and looked forward to the next caller, who was announced as 'Mr T'.

"What can I do for you, Mr T?" she asked, with restoring confidence. There was a brief hesitation on the other side of the line.

"I have a question about love as well…" he finally said, in a voice that sounded slightly accented.

"Shoot," replied Hilary, smiling as she reached for her water glass.

"Well, there's this girl I- I used to travel with…"

"Go on."

"She gets under my skin you see. She has done ever since the day I met her. It was a Thursday. Best day of my life, because I met the most important person to me. But she irritates me like no one else. Sometimes I just want to strangle her."

Hilary shakily put her water glass down. She had take out that whole passage about Tyson and how he got under her skin. No normal reader could have known it. It only existed on a scribbled on page in one of her earlier notebooks that had resulted because of the sadness of yet another failed attempt to spend some 'girly' time with Tyson.

"And other times," the gentle voice continued, losing its put on accent. "I just want to grab her and kiss her. But I never really understood her, until I read your book, Hilary, er, Hil er, – what's your name again. Damn. I was doing so well."

Hilary was almost crying with laughter.

"Tyson? That you?" There was a sigh on the other connection.

"You're my star, Hilary. Too bad I never realised it until you ghosted or whatever."

"Guru!" Hilary laughed. Her voice quietened, and suddenly, she forgot all about the people watching their televisions spellbound, and the hoards of people in the studio around her. For one moment, there was only the voice on the other side of the line. "So who's this girl you met on the same day as me, she grinned. "And where have you been hiding her Granger?"

"You and me are the bird and the fish," he answered, using a metaphor she had used in her book. "Ridiculous together, but inseparable."

"Tyson, a bird and a fish are very separable," she smiled, with a happy, puzzled air. "Never write a book, okay?"

"Hilary, I love-"

"I'm sorry that's all we have time for," cut in Lisa's voice as the line went dead. Hilary let out a huge, shuddering breath. "Before we go, would you care to tell us about any upcoming plans?" Hilary hesitated, before beaming straight out at the camera and into the eyes of the many people watching, knowing that he'd still be watching her.

"I'm going back home to my journey," she smiled. "I may write another book, another biographically based piece of writing, but not for a long time." Her grin grew even wider. "I'd very much like this one to be a romance, if 'X' will care to oblige?"