Story: Himeko and Chikane: Their Story (chapter 7)

Authors: mandygirl78

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Chapter 7

Title: Everday I'm Hustlin'

[Author's notes:

Japanese Terminology:


Melds – A set of matching tiles in Mahjong.


Genso – Japanese artist Okuda Genso. Was a famous artist during his time (1912-2003).


Things were not easy at Hana's place as everybody headed back there after the confrontation that turned out disastrous. Nekoko was furious with Himeko and she wasn't going to hid it one bit.

"WHAT THE HELL, HIMEKO-CHAN!?!" Nekoko screamed at her. "I told you not to tell the fucking cops about this and you still went and did it!"

"I really thought that the police will put an end to it peacefully. I didn't want to see anybody get hurt." Himeko said while sobbing.

"Nobody did get hurt, but we also got many people in jail who shouldn't be there. And we don't have any bail money to get them out. I don't even want to imagine what they're doing to Hana's girls over there."

"You should be asking what MY girls are doing to them over there..." Hana said ruefully. That got a surprised look from everyone, especially Nekoko, but she continued on with her maddening fury.

"We could have ended the Snake Clan and the rest of those goons right there but guess what? The cops are going to either let them go or give them a light sentence as an exhibit for their ‘hard work' and then let them go. Either way, they'll get off easy and they'll come after us to get their revenge. Think about that Himeko!" She yelled to Himeko, looking like here eyes were about to pop out. Himeko was sobbing more than ever.

Chikane has heard enough from Nekoko's big mouth. Her squeaky voice was getting on her, and it sounded even worse when she's mad. She was thinking that Nekoko must have been crazy to think they had a chance to finally put it to the end, so she spoke up after Nekoko finished her tirade. "Nekoko have you been smoking crack? Are you on meth? Did you see how many of them were out there? We were seriously outnumbered. There was no way that we could have taken them all on. You should thank Himeko-san because it could have been worse!" Chikane argued back with the same intensity. "Don't you get it? We were outnumbered Neko-san. We could have been seriously injured. In fact, some of us here could have been dead. The crowd could have been injured and dead as well. At least the police got all the thugs that were involved."

Nekoko was surprised at Chikane's defense for Himeko and at the same time upset about it. She looked at Chikane with spite and chaffed, "Well, since when you have been on Hime-chan's side? After all, you've called her ‘cream puff' a million times behind her back." Himeko looked at her to see if it was true. Chikane didn't say anything but she didn't have to. Her eyes gave Himeko the answer.

"Ever since when she made the wise decision that saved our asses from what could have been an even worse catastrophic disaster. The situation could have been prevented if Natashi and his men didn't over panic," she said as she gave them an icy glare.

Natashi didn't take Chikane's accusation lightly and made his protest very clear, "Hey! Some of my men had criminal records, so they had a reason to panic," Natashi defended.

"But they could have still act calm during the situation, just like what Hana's girls did. I'm sure the policemen knew that they were not part of the gang, after all, they didn't arrest the rest of us," Chikane retorted.

Before Natashi was going to protest again, Hana stepped in and supported Chikane. "She's right. Things could have happen differently if some of us didn't overreact. I know Neko-chan really cares about her circus but if the confrontation went off as planned, the circus' reputation would have been permanently damaged." Hana stated.

Nekoko was stunned that her best friend would actually support Chikane. "I can't believe this. You're siding with this delinquent as well?"

"Yes, I am because that ‘delinquent' is right. I know you like to show yourself as an effective leader that's not afraid of any challenge but in this case it would have been disastrous. I probably would have done the same thing and told Himeko not to tell the police, but it turns out that she made the right choice," he said as he swallowed his pride. That gave Himeko a bit of relief.

Unfortunately, Nekoko couldn't swallow her own pride. She couldn't believe what was going on. She felt like they were ganging up on her when they shouldn't be, after all she's the leader she figured. Before things got worse for her she said, "Ok fine, you can agree with her all you want, but wait until they come back with stronger reinforcement. There's no point in this argument so I'm heading back to my tent!" Nekoko finally stated and she stormed back to her tent.

After she disappeared from sight Hana noted "I swear, that woman can be stubborn like a mule."

"Or stubborn like a cat," Chikane noted, she couldn't resist putting that pun in. Himeko was still in tears, so Chikane came up to her and offered her shoulder to cry onto. Himeko immediately grabbed her and cried her heart out on her shoulders. For Chikane, Himeko's hysterical state was starting to put other ideas into her head. "She's so soft and nice, like how my old love used to be. What am I thinking? She may not be gay and she's in a vulnerable state now."

Himeko on the other hand enjoyed Chikane's rare moment of compassion. She didn't want to let go, so she held her tighter. Hana and the others were shocked that Chikane was actually being compassionate to somebody, but it gave off a lot of signals on his ‘gaydar'. He already suspected that Himeko was gay based on the time he visited her tent, seeing all the drawings, photos, and mangas she had in there. He already knew that Chikane was gay since she told him herself. Eventually, he smiled, seeing that those two would be a good couple.

Chikane eventually spoke up to Himeko. "Look Himeko, you need to get your mind off of this. The day is still young, so let's leave here and go around the city." Hana added further support to Chikane's words, "I agree darling, and it would do a world of a good for you."

Himeko stopped her crying, but she was still sniffling. "Okay Chikane-san, where are we going?"

"Anywhere really, just follow me."

"Okay," Himeko said simply. But before they left Hana had a small word for Chikane

"If you harm the girl, I will -"

Chikane just blew it off and said, "I'm not going to hurt her in any way."

And so they left to explore the wonderful urban jungle of Tokyo.


For their first destination they took a subway from Shinjuku station to Ikebukuro station. Ikebukuro is a downtown area located in the Tomida ward, north of Shinjuku. Just like Shinjuku, Ikebukuro has a lot of stores and activities and their share of the homeless.

While looking through the window, Himeko asked, "Where are we going Chikane-san?"

"We are going to a pool hall. Today, I'm going to show you how to really make some money," Chikane said in a matter-of-fact tone.

"But I don't know how to play pool, and I was always told by my oji-san that gambling was wrong."

"And so is dishonesty, but your oji-san has no problem lying to people, telling them they can be saved if they donate their money to his church." Chikane countered. "Hime-san, if you want to make money here in Tokyo, you've got to hustle."

"But I don't know how to hustle? What if I fail? What if I'm not good enough?" Himeko doubted while her head was down.

"Let me tell you straight up, when it comes to hustling, you can never doubt yourself. Self-doubt is a cardinal sin." Chikane said, thinking that will drive the point in what she perceived to be Himeko's childish mind. However, that didn't make Himeko feel any better, for she still had doubts of herself that she can ever measure up to anybody's especially Chikane's, expectations.

As soon as they got out of the station, they head straight to a pawn show in a somewhat remote location on a back street. Himeko was puzzled.

"Why are we going to a pawn show?"

"To do some window shopping" Chikane replied. As soon as they got there Chikane head for the jewelry section. Most of the jewelry looked the same except for this stunning 18k gold necklace that carried a big ruby stone on it. It had a scratch on the left side of the stone but it still didn't lose its appeal.

"Wow! That necklace is beautiful!" Himeko awed.

"It sure is, Hime-san. I wish I had enough money to afford it."

While Chikane was looking at the jewelry Himeko was looking around the store. She was checking out the DVDs and mangas, seeing if there was anything she liked. She found a rare doujin of Battle Mikos and had enough money to buy it.

After their visit to the pawnshop, they stopped at a billiards hall. The place did not fit stereotypical image of what you expect to be a pool hall. It was clean with little or no smoke. It also had bright lights all over the place and not all the people looked like they just came out of jail or belong to bikers group, though there were a few of them that did. That made Himeko felt a little bit better, though any unfamiliar area will make the sheltered girl scared a bit.

As soon as they entered into the hall, the owner greeted Chikane. It was apparent that she came here quite often with everybody looking at her and cussing about her under their breathes. Chikane looked for an empty pool table and since it was a bit busy at the time, she had to do some searching. Eventually, she found one and paid one of the workers for an hour usage. When she got the billiard balls from the worker, she set them up and gave Himeko a cue stick.

"Have you ever used a cue stick?" she asked even though she felt that she already knew the answer. Himeko nodded no but she added, "But I've seen it done before."

"Okay, then show me," Chikane challenged. Himeko got to the table and set herself up to hit the cue ball. Chikane immediately noticed that she didn't chalk her stick, her positioning was bad, and she was holding the stick wrong. Nevertheless, she didn't say anything and just watched what she was going to do next. As soon as Himeko tried to strike the ball, the cue stick flew out of her hand and landed on the floor. One of the staff was carrying a tray full with beer when he stepped on the cue stick. He slipped and fell. Chikane looked at Himeko and all that Himeko could do was look back sheepishly.

She eventually showed Himeko to proper way to hold a stick and position herself correctly. While she was training Himeko, a man came up to her.

"Hey Miya-san, I challenge you to a game. How much you want to bet?" he said in his proper English accent.

"Well, it's good to see you Watanabe-san. I can wager about 20,000 yen (that's about 222 US dollars, 133 pounds sterling, or 150 euro)" she responded. Henry Watanabe was a half-English, half Japanese man from Manchester, England. He says that he's a professional billiards and snooker player, but she knew it was just a front. His real profession is smuggling stolen European luxury cars and car parts to Japan. The Japanese love European luxury cars and he can sell it for a cheaper price in the black market than what they would pay for in retail.

"That sounds good enough for a game of five, how about it?" he said.

"Sounds good to me," she replied.

And so they started to play. They both won four games each when they got to the decisive ninth game. In that game Chikane had a hot streak going, knocking down five balls in a row before she finally got to the 8-ball. He had four solids left and he was a bit nervous, hoping that something bad happens. He didn't let is show through; instead he was showing the ‘stiff upper-lip' English trademark. Himeko was only a few feet behind her and got excited about it. She wanted to get a closer look to see Chikane make the shot. However, as soon as she started to walk she tripped over herself. Chikane was too focused on the shot to notice that Himeko was behind her. Just when she was about to hit the cue ball Himeko bumped into her. She hit the cue ball but it went into a side pocked and she scratched. Thus, Mr. Watanabe won automatically and he got the 20,000 yen.

He collected the money happily. Then, he told Chikane in his polite-yet-phony English manner, "Thank you very much for the wonderful game. You need to bring you friend quite often." Then he left with a huge smug on his face. Chikane was very upset at Himeko and looked at her angrily. Himeko responded back sheepishly, "Sorry."


Next, they went to the Shibuya district. They went to a bakery but it really was a front for an illegal gambling racket. It was owned by the notorious gangster, Kazuya. In addition to various gambling joints, he also runs a ruthless drug, prostitution, and racketeering business. One of the gambling activities that occurred in the building is Mahjong.

As they were walking to the building Chikane spoke. "Okay, Himeko. I'm going to play a game of Mahjong. Now, I don't want you to start a conversation with anyone over there. All you do is say ‘hi' and that's it, understand?" Himeko nodded her head in agreement. As soon as they got into the bakery they head to the backroom. Chikane knocked on the door and the doorman peeped out through the peephole. He recognized Chikane but not Himeko, so when he opened the door he immediately questioned her.

"Who is this little girl?" he demanded. The doorman himself wasn't very big but he was rather muscular and had a strong Aikido background as Chikane noted to Himeko before they met him.

"This is Kurusugawa Himeko, and she is with me," Chikane stated.

"I don't see a girl like you very often, nice to meet you ma'am," as he bowed and smiled. Himeko bowed back in politeness. It was obvious that he was hitting on Himeko, he's usually not that friendly to guest. For some reason Chikane felt uncomfortable about it, to the point that she felt rather angry. Immediately, she frowned at him and said, "Can you just tell me if there's a game going on?" Taken back by surprise of her frankness, he responded "Hey, I didn't know, arigatou gomen. There are two going on." He knew Chikane well enough that she meant a game of Mahjong. Chikane and Himeko immediately headed upstairs. In the back of her mind, Himeko was surprised that the men thought that they were a couple.

While they were heading upstairs, Himeko asked Chikane, "Are you really good at Mahjong?"

"Good?" She looked at her with a ‘whatever' look. "Girl, I'm great. I'm so great Hatsune Mai comes to me for advice!" Of course Himeko knew that Chikane was exaggerating but she found it funny nevertheless. There was no way that the first ever Mahjong World Champion would come to a street girl for advice.

The environment in the upper floor was almost the exact opposite of the pool hall. The area was full of smoke as Himeko started to cough, she wasn't used to it even though her oba-san was a big smoker. It was also dimly lit. Untypically associated with this type of environment were people from various walks of life in the floor. There were your typical thugs and gangsters of course, but there were also businessmen and even a few women were gambling. And they were of different ethnicity and race: black, brown, yellow, white, and even red! Unlike other areas of Tokyo, and of Japan in general, it didn't matter one bit who you were. The only thing that mattered around there was the amount of yen you was carrying.

Chikane headed directly to the Mahjong room with Himeko trailing behind like a little kid. The person running the game was Ken Narita, Kazuya's right-hand man. He and everybody else knew her very well. They also knew about her attitude and her fighting ability, thus they knew it was not wise to mess with her. She waited a few minutes before the next available and then proceed to play the game. Himeko sat a safe distance away from her, making sure that she didn't do anything stupid. When she got in the game, she was dealt with her first set of tiles and put in her money in the pot. An average game of four-people mahjong takes about ten to fifteen minutes and that one was no different. In that one Chikane lost, but she went on to win the next one.

Over an hour passed and Chikane was clearly winning. By then she had around 40,000 yen and decided to play her final game. Himeko was excited that she was winning, but she knew better than to act like a cheerleader, so she kept her excitement to herself and just smiled when she won. It was a wise choice as she won 10,000 yen in that game. There was a huge grin on her face as well as Himeko's. She pulled out her plastic bag and collected the remaining money and then started to head out.

While they were leaving the place, Himeko said "Wow, this is great! You were really good!"

"I sure am," Chikane smiled confidently. While Ken was collecting all the tiles he noticed something, there were two extra Wind tiles in the pile. They were part of the melds used by Chikane to win her games. Literally, Chikane had some tiles in her coat sleeves and some of the must have fell out. He immediately notified the rest of the players and then they looked out of the window. They were able to spot Chikane and Himeko among the small crowd outside. Fortunately for Chikane, Himeko looked up and saw the people looking at them and she notified Chikane, "Chikane-san, why are they looking at us?"

"Huh?" Chikane was dumbfounded at first until she looked up as well and saw Ken's head sticking out of the window. She immediately knew that they found out and her shocked expression gave it away that she had been caught. Without a moment to spare, she told Himeko to run. "Run, Hime-san, run!"

"Huh, what's going on?" She asked with some cluelessness.

"Don't ask questions, just run!"

And so they took off. The operation along with the doorman and the players whom Chikane screwed over chased after them. Chikane was the faster of the two and was carrying the bag. Himeko was trying desperately to catch up with Chikane and at the same time trying to evade the men. As they ran through the busy streets of Shibuya, they were darting through the crowd. Chikane was trying her best to lose them but they were still on hers and Himeko's tail.

About a few moments later she was running on the street. She didn't notice the ‘Do not walk' signal was on and a car speeding by nearly ran her. She was instantly startled by the car's horn and threw her hands up in the air. Unfortunately, when she did that, the bag went up in the air and all the money came out of it. Everybody who was nearby immediately ran for the money, including the driver of the car. Chikane nearly got knocked over by the crowd and was really disappointed as she watched the frantic crowd collect the money.

"Oh, shit."

With little to no money, she knew that there was only one other way to make some money.


In a dark and isolated alley somewhere in Tokyo lies a teal-haired man who looked dirty and unkempt. He had the place surrounded with aluminum foil that, according to his fragile mind, will block gamma ray from Jupiter from frying his brain. He has been here for a few weeks after escaping from the mental institution. All the policemen in the greater Tokyo area have been alerted, but to most of them he's just another perp, so they didn't bother putting a lot of energy into finding him.

The man was Tsubasa Oogami, Souma's older biological brother, and he has treatment-resistant paranoid schizophrenia.

His world is full of paranoia, thinking that everything is out to get him, whether its gamma rays from Jupiter, KGBs, blue deamons, and spy cameras. He lives off of the wasted food in trashes and only comes out in night, thinking the spy cameras won't spot him. He constantly hears ‘voices' in his head, telling various things.

Just like anyone with a severe case of schizophrenia his sentences are incoherent; he is very negligent about his appearance, and he is very unbalanced and volatile.

He thinks he's on a mission, and that is to find his baby brother and to save him from all the ‘evils' in this world. He still thinks Souma is still a child.

While he is in the alley, he keeps on hearing internal ‘voices’ in his head. “We’re coming to kill you. We’re coming to kill you. We’re coming to…”

He starts to scream. “No, you’re not! Kill me you can’t! Stop it, stop it!” And he hurled himself to the wall, holding his ears, thinking it will stop the noise. Then he started to go crazy, throwing the trash cans all over the place. It was an isolated place so no one could hear his psychotic rage. The rage was starting to wear him down and then all of a sudden, the voices stopped. Then another thought came in his head.

"Baby brother. Must save. Baby brother. Must save." And with the remaining energy he had, he left the alley to find Souma.


When she got back to the park, she told Himeko to meet her at the station around midnight, which was unusually late but she agreed nevertheless. All the running and excitement for that day made Himeko tired and she took a nap. She got up around 11 pm, got herself dressed, and headed to the station. When she met Chikane, she noticed the mid-sized, navy-blue zipper bag she was carrying.

"Hey Chikane, where are we going at this time of the night? And what is that bag for?"

"I will answer your questions later, just come with me now," she commanded.

"Okay," Himeko obeyed. She was secretly hoping that it wasn't something bad. They took the subway back to Ikebukuro station and head right back to the pawn shop. Deep down inside, Himeko knew it wasn't going to be a good thing. Instead of going through the front side they went to the back of the store. Chikane made sure that no one noticed that they were in the back. By then Himeko didn't have a good feeling about this and unfortunately she knew what Chikane was about to do, but she asked nevertheless.

"Ano Chikane, what are we doing back here?" She was afraid that she already knew the answer. Chikane didn't bother to answer her question; instead she opened the bag and took out some dark clothing. She put on her clothing then she put on a black ski mask. Remember earlier when she was checking out the jewelry in the store? Well Himeko remembered as well and she was shocked. Her silence made her intentions clear to Himeko. "You're not going to steal the jewelry are you!?!" She said somewhat loudly.

"Ssshhhh! Be quiet! I don't want to attract any attention here!" Chikane whispered.

"But what you are doing is wrong! Plus what if you got caught?"

"I won't get caught and don't pass any moral judgments on me right now, I'm not in the mood. Please watch out in the front and notify me if the cops are coming."

"But how?" she asked. She can't believe that Chikane was going through this.

"Here you go," she said as she handed her a pre-paid phone. "Call this number here if somebody comes." Himeko was still stunned when she handed the phone to her. Chikane patience were a little thin and she told her "Look, are you going to help me or not?" Himeko wasn't sure if she should or not, knowing what she was doing was wrong, but she didn't want to see her get in trouble so she agreed to reluctantly. With her approval, Chikane continued on with her plan.

She had already cased the area a long time ago and knew what type of security they had and where it was located. She knew where the alarm's power source was located and she short-circuited it with her tools. Then she opened the back door to the store with some tools she managed to get from a locksmith. With the security disabled she was able to freely roam around the store. When she got to the jewelry section, she opened the glass with a glasscutter and proceeds to take all the jewelry in the display section, including the necklace with the scratched ruby she had her eyes on. After she got some of the jewelry she quickly left the place. She knew better than to get too greedy and that was a good thing because it was only ten minutes later when a policewoman in foot patrol checked the store out. She got a call from the security saying the store's alarm was not responding.

As soon as she left the store, Chikane changed back to her regular clothing and they nonchalantly left the area. Himeko was upset about this and brought it up when they were in a dark alley.

"Don't you know you could have gotten in big trouble?" she protested.

"Yeah, but I didn't, and that's all that really matters."

"But what you just did is wrong!"

"Will you grow up little girl!?! This ain't the wonderful world of Disney. This is real life, girlfriend, and you got to make ends meet. It's called survival and you got to do whatever it takes."

"But there are other ways to make it." She said rather naively.

Chikane knew that Himkeo was really naive but she never knew the extent of it until now. "You really are a naïve bitch? I don't have a bunch of flea-carrying cats to make a circus like Neko-san, nor do I have a singing voice like my annoying next-door neighbor. What I do have is a fist and a brain and I'm going to use them to the fullest. Do I make myself clear?" Himeko dared not to future argue with Chikane, thinking that Chikane was right and she was wrong. After all, Chikane was much more streetwise than she was, so she reluctantly said, "Okay."

During the trip back to Shinjuku, Himeko wanted to get her mind off of the burglary, so she brought up something. "Do you know a good place to eat?"

"What made you bring that up?"

"Well my birthday is coming up and maybe me and Neko-chan can go somewhere?"

"When is your birthday?"

"This coming Friday (October 1, 2004)."

"Really?" Chikane said with a surprised look on her face.

"Yeah, why?"

"Because that is also happens to be my birthday."

"Really? That's great! Then maybe we can celebrate our birthday together" Himeko said cheerfully. Coincidence can be a good thing, for Himeko's case it was a great thing!

"That's sounds great to me!" Chikane agreed. She was already passed her anger with Himeko at that point. For some reason she liked the ideal of celebrating her birthday with Himeko. This was uncharacteristic for the reclusive loner Chikane. She couldn't understand why she did; maybe she was starting to rub off of her.

When they got back to Shinjuku, they headed to Himeko's tent. No light was coming from Nekoko's tent, therefore she must be asleep. This was the first time that Chikane came inside the tent. Usually, she came short of entering inside because she didn't want to hear Nekoko's squeaky annoying voice but since she was sleeping, she didn't have to worry.

While inside Himeko turned on the battery-powered lamp and got her sleeping bag out. Some of Nekoko's cats were sleeping inside. This is not unusual since some of the cats bonded with Himeko, especially the one Himeko chased after.

Himeko acquired more stuff from various trash dumps and it was screaming out ‘Kawaii!' She had her usual drawing all over the tent, with drawings of anime characters and also of Disney and Sanrio characters, mostly female. Inside the tent were stuff animals of such notable Disney characters such as Minnie Mouse, Chip n' Dale, and others. There were also stuff animals of Sanrio characters such as Hello Kitty, Cinnamo, and others. She had a Little Mermaid alarm clock on her nightstand. It was a gift from Nekoko, she thought it was useful since she always woke up late.

It left an unusual impression on Chikane. She didn't know whether she entered a tent of a girl turning sixteen or that of one turning six! As she looked at drawing of Ariel from The Little Mermaid she was amazed at the near-duplicate quality of the drawing.

"Did you do all these drawings, Himeko-san?"

Himeko nodded, "Yep! Do you like them?" She said, secretly hoping that she would like them.

"I sure do. You would make a great mangaka." Then an idea came in her head. "Why haven't you sold any of them?"

"I don't think anybody would like them. My oba-san didn't like them," she said with disappointment.

"Man, fuck that bitch!" Chikane inadvertently blurted out. Himeko was shocked at her cussing tone. Chikane quickly covered her mouth in shame. She thought that she should have known better than to talk like that around Himeko. "Sorry I didn't mean for it come out that way."

"It's okay," for Himeko quietly agreed to what Chikane thought of her aunt.

"What I really meant to say was that your oba-san can't recognize your talent. We can make some serious money here. Can you draw people?"

Himeko nodded as she pointed to the various drawings of people in her tent.

"And can you draw quick?"

"I sure can. I had to in my art club since we had tight deadlines."

"Good, tomorrow meet me at the station and bring any necessary art supplies. I'll be your manager; I'll protect you and make sure that nobody will take advantage of you."

"Do you serious think we could make some money off of this?"

"Of course we can with your skills." Chikane tried her best to assure Himeko of the success.

"I hope so," She said then she yawned, she was clearly tired.

"Look, get your rest and meet me around 11:00 am. Our training hasn't end but it will be cut down a bit."

"I understand."

"Now have a good night," she said as she leaves the tent. Himeko eventually went to sleep with a smile on her face. She didn't have any nightmares; in fact, she only had one since that night in Nekoko's tent.


When she got to the station, she carried her art supplies with her and her workout clothes as well. They did their training, albeit only an hour, and then they head back to the station. While they were outside, Himeko set up her equipment and Chikane put up a sign saying, "Get yourself drawn for 1,000 yen (around 12 USD)."

It was going on fine for a few days, but Chikane was getting bored so she whipped out her harmonica and started to play a few tunes. Himeko was surprised; she never knew that Chikane could play the harmonica or any type of musical instrument. The harmonica seemed to work as they were beginning to attract more people and made more money. When they had a small break, Himeko brought it up to her.

"Wow, how did you learn how to play the harmonica?"

"I learned how to play it and a few other musical instruments at my koji."

"How many can you play?"

"Well, besides the harmonica I can play the flute, guitar, drums, and most of all, the piano."

"Wow, that's amazing! How did you learn all that those instruments?"

"Well, there really isn't much to do there, so just to keep myself busy I decided to learn some music."

"So, you say that you play the piano the best? Can you play for me some day?"

"Sure, I would love to." Chikane said, she wouldn't do such a favor for anyone but since Himeko has done a lot for her, it's the least she can do in return. About an hour later, a young teenage couple came up to the girls.

"Hi there, can you draw me and my boyfriend together?" said the young girl.

"She sure can for 1,000 yen," Chikane said before Himeko could speak up. For the most part, Chikane did the talking. Himeko didn't complain since she preferred it that way.

"Who are you?" the boyfriend scoffed at Chikane.

"I'm her manager and I'm here to make sure nothing happens to her. Now are you going to pay the 1,000 yen or not?" she said with her usual no-nonsense attitude, looking straight at Souma's eyes.

The couple just looked at each other and then handed the cash to Chikane. Then the girl said something before Himeko started her drawing.

"I want you to put near the bottom ‘Always together, Souma and Makoto'."

"Of course, that shouldn't be a problem Himeko-san?"

"Nope, not at all," she replied.

"Okay then, she'll put it on there."

"That's great!" Makoko shouted in her usual excited tone.

She then started to draw the loving couple while Chikane started to play on her harmonica. It took her only twenty minutes to finish the drawing. When she was done she showed it to the couple and they were amazed at the quality.

"Wow! You really are a little Genso!" she exclaimed. That brought a huge smile on Himeko's face, being compared to a legendary artist.

"Yeah, could you imagine some of her artwork at the temple? Onii-chan would be impressed," Souma said to Makoto.

"He sure would. Here, have an extra 500 yen." Makoto gave to Chikane in goodwill and then they left. That brought a smile to Chikane's face.

"They seem to be a nice couple," Himeko concluded.

"Probably. Here's the 500 yen, it's yours." Chikane handed the money to her graciously.


"No problem. It's getting late, so let's go home now."

"Okay." Himeko said and she started to gather her equipment.

When they got to her tent, Himeko started to put away the equipment. While she was putting away the equipment, one of the paints she was carrying spilled on her shirt, making a big mess. Chikane saw the mess and commanded her to take off the shirt. Himeko was reluctant at first.

"Don't be stupid and take off the shirt. You're wearing a bra aren't you?"

"Yes," she answered meekly.

"Than just take off your shirt, I'm a woman too! You're not showing me anything I haven't seen before!"

Himeko knew she had no choice but to take off the shirt, so she hesitantly took it off. When she took it off, Chikane eyes nearly jumped out. She saw the bruises on her stomach, the cigarette burns on her forearms, and what looked an iron burnt mark on her.

"Oh my God." As soon as she said that Himeko started to shed tears. "Did those bastards did all that to you?" Himeko knew that she mean her relatives and she shook her head in affirmation. "Please, tell me what happened to you when you were living there. I need to know everything."

Himeko paused for a while, trying to muster everything she can to tell her story without breaking down. She was beginning to cry profusely as the painful memories of abuse started to rush into her mind.

"My relatives used to beat me a lot, mostly my oba-san but sometimes my oji-san as well. They used to whip me not only with belts, but with wire hangers, electrical cords, basically anything they can get their hands on. They also used to throw me against the wall, smack me, and one time my oba-san kicked me down the steps." Chikane was boiling mad at what she was hearing. If she met her relatives, especially her aunt, she would immediately beat the shit out of them. The painful experiences happened a long time ago, yet they felt like they were just yesterday to Himeko.

Himeko hesitantly continued, "They would beat me even for simple things such as forgetting to put out the trash or touching her cigarettes," she said as she looked at the cigarette burns on her right forearm. It was hard for her to see them with her tears covering up her eyes but she still looked at those damaging scars. "They would also call me names such as stupid, dumb whore, otaku-girl, retard, and those other bad words. It didn't help matters that people in school were doing the same thing while bullying me.

For the most part, I kept it to myself, didn't speak up or sought help. There was that time where I did spoke up, but, but -" Himeko couldn't say anything as she cried even more. Chikane saw the pain in her face but she knew she had to hear it from Himeko.

"What happened Hime-san? Please, tell me."

Himeko used every ounce of strength in her tender body to regain her composure and said, "One time, I really got upset when my oba-san threw away my manga and anime DVDs, that I stormed into her room and called her a freaking witch, only I didn't exactly said ‘freaking witch'," she said with a shameful look on her face. Chikane fully understood what she actually said. "She told me not to talk to her like that again and I told her to shut the ‘f' up!" Chikane was stunned at what she heard; she didn't think Himeko had it in her. "That was my fault right there. I felt so ashamed of cursing to my oba-san, that was very un-Christian. God was probably mad at me for doing that."

Chikane had to try her best to resist rolling her eyes but she also knew that it wasn't a trivial issue to Himeko and didn't treat it as such, "Himeko you were just being human, there's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with being upset to someone who had wronged you. Yes you cursed but you had every right to get angry at your oba-san. I seriously doubt that God would be mad at you for that."

Himeko agreed but with some reluctance, not totally sure that Chikane was right, "That's probably true but I should have known better. She was ironing her clothes and then after that she -"

Himeko couldn't complete her sentence, instead she balled out crying. That particular experience had the deepest scar on her, physically, emotionally, and worst of all, mentally. She didn't need to complete it since Chikane already knew what happened. Now Chikane knew where that iron mark came from. She came up a bit closer to Himeko and held her to her shoulders as Himeko continued to cry.

While still sobbing on her shoulder's, Himeko mumbled, "My oba-san kept on telling me that I'm a big disappointment, and she's right, I'm nothing more than a big disappointment." Himeko said as she broke down, exposing the root of her lack of self-confidence. Just that sentence alone told Chikane her life story. Everything in her life pretty much revolved around that belief she had on herself. It made her underachieved, resign, be submissive, and surrender. Nothing brought her more pain than that thought she had in herself and it didn't help matters that her inner conscious continuously fed it.

Chikane did her best to comfort her as she was crying her heart out on her shoulders. She realized how much that girl was hurting inside. She vowed from that point on to always be there for Himeko, for deep inside she knew that Himeko would be there for her as well. For once in a long time she was willing to trust someone, to finally open up to someone. While Himeko was holding her, she felt some marks on Chikane's back. She was only wearing a shirt with a bra so it wasn't hard to feel them. Could it be that she also went through the same thing that Himeko did?

The painful thought was so traumatizing, that it took her a while to finish her crying. When she did Chikane told her, "Look, you're far away from your relatives. You don't have to worry about them right now and you don't have to let their nonsense control your life. You are not a disappointment."

"But I haven't done anything for them or for anyone else to make them happy," she said.

"Bullshit! You have done a lot of wonderful things for everybody. You did a lot for Neko-san, for Hana-chan, for those people who you painted for, and for me. Yes, you've made you share of mistakes like the incident with the Snake Clan but who hasn't. Don't beat yourself up because a bunch of holy-rolling fanatics or a simple-minded catgirl can't appreciate how wonderful you are. I appreciate you very much."

With that Himeko started to smile, nobody has ever told her that. It was a different feeling from the usual what she would expect. Chikane finished it off with, "Look Himeko-san, get some rest for now and don't let the past control your life." That was some good advice from Chikane, if only Chikane herself could live by them as well...


As the days gone by, she was spending more time with Chikane. She was really enjoying being around her. She was also starting to notice her attraction to Chikane but she didn't know if she felt the same way. Did she still have feelings for that girl in the locket? Yet at the same time she was spending less time with Nekoko. Nekoko was starting to avoid her, feeling that she was getting too close to her arch-enemy. Himeko sensed that she was avoiding her but she still considered Nekoko her friend. So, she tried in vain to see Nekoko whenever she can, but she was either asleep or not around. It made her sad that she couldn't spend any time with her.

On Chikane's end, she was also enjoying her time with Himeko, as much as she didn't want to admit it. It was good to be around with someone you can trust, which she couldn't say that for a lot of people. Her kindness and selflessness was starting to impact her in a good way. She started to look forward to meeting Himeko everyday. Could she be in love? No, she though, she couldn't be in love with her. Her heart belong to the girl in the locket, even as long gone as she was. She made a vow not to love anyone else ever again and she's sticking with it.


It was around 1:00 am on October 1, 2004 when Himeko and Chikane went into her tent. They just came from their now-ritual night of walking together where Himeko took a lot of pictures. Unbeknownst to Himeko, Chikane brought a gift for her birthday.

"I got something for you."

"Really? What is it?"

"Close you eyes first and open your hands."

"Okay," she said sweetly and she did as Chikane commanded. She pulled out a red bow hairpiece and put it on her hands. Himeko opened her eyes and got excited.

"Happy birthday!" Chikane said excitedly.

"Wow, it's a bow! Is this for my hair?"

"Yep, let me put it on for you." Himeko gleefully obliged and Chikane proceed to put the hairpiece on. Himeko checked it out on her mirror and she thought it looked adorable.

"Thank you so much!" she said happily as she gave a hug to Chikane. Himeko decided to return Chikane the favor as well.

"I got a gift for you as wel1!"

"Is that so? What is it? Where is it?"

Himeko had it hidden behind her nightstand as she pulled it out. It was a painting of the girl in Chikane's locket. She painted the drawing and had it framed.

"Happy birthday!" Himeko elated.

As soon as Chikane saw it, she started to shed some tears. It was very clear to Himeko that the girl had a strong emotional effect on Chikane. With tears burning her eyes, she finally spoke her name.



[End notes: I would like to thank Ninja_Girl_L33r for beta-reading the story]

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