*           *           *

           A few hours later, the sun rose over the horizon line, and life in Tokyo began to stir once more. Megalomaniacs were roused from their warm beds, refreshed and ready to try their latest scheme of taking over the world in some stupid-looking mecha. Deep under the ocean, a giant rubber monster was flossing his teeth, knowing he was already late for his 8am stomping of the nearby power plant. And magical girls all over were being dragged out from between their sheets by some annoying, obligatory talking mascot who was deluded enough to insist that heroines of love and justice should actually be responsible.
           Yet in the fanboys' apartment, there was no "rise and shine, let's greet the world!" genki attitude. In fact, the closest thing they had to a shine was the warm glow of the Mono Volt Carnage unleashed as he received a very unexpected wake-up call from Ruckus.

Carnage: -.-;; "And stay outta my pants!"

Ruckus: [sulking] "But it's fun where your pants are! Especially when I've got my hands down--"

Carnage: [grrrr!] "MEGA BRAND!!!"

           Practicing the time-honoured art of waffle toasting-fu, Riot glanced out from the kitchen as he saw the usual billows of black smoke wafting out from the broom closet. "Ah, I see Ruckus wasted no time today in beginning his yaoi-fu training," he sighed, rolling his eyes. "Most dishonourable ninja twit."
           "Hey, better Carnage's pants than mine," Dark Mayhem said as he sauntered out from his own bedroom. He tossed his school bag and his Jyuban High blazer on one of the dining room chairs and ventured over to the kitchen counter. "Ne, do we still have any of those eggs from yesterday?"
           Riot shook his head. "They all hatched into lumpy phoenix chicks. I sold the dozen of them to Kuno before they could open their eyes."
           "Well, it was either that or just tossing them into Chaos' room," Dark Mayhem said. He glanced over his shoulder as the immense, orange form of Tora, Hysteria's resident tiger demon/pet, came lumbering into the living room. "He certainly looks displeased to be here," he remarked.
           "You would be too, if you'd been a victim of Hysteria's kawaii-fu," Riot pointed out.
           Dark Mayhem nodded. "Hai hai. Ne, when you sold Kuno the phoenix eggs, did you remember to include charging the new 'baka tax' on him this time?"
           "But of course! We samurai are if anything efficient in our overpricing-fu! Besides, I learned all I know from Master Nabiki."
           Dark Mayhem and Riot stepped aside as the freezer door swung open, and Demolition slid his tall, lanky body out. "Remind me to never ever serve curried rice to dragons again," he groaned.
           Riot sniffed the air. "What in the hell is that most dishonourable stench?"
           "That's what I mean!" lamented Demolition. "They were up all night making the most obnoxious bodily noises I've ever heard! Forget the fact that those stupid dragons kept me up all night; by 3am the smell was so horrid it drove even Ashram off the Lodoss continent!"
           Abruptly there was a loud child's giggling that could be heard. Since even Hysteria didn't giggle like that, the fanboys glanced around in trying to locate the source. Demolition and Riot questioningly turned to Tora as they noted how the strange giggling seemed to be coming from him. More specifically, his stomach.
           They sweatdropped as they turned their heads just in time to see Tora hastily stuff a wigging arm back down his throat.

Tora: [pointed stare] "You saw nothing."

Demolition: [shaking his head] "I don't even think anyone would believe us even if we told them."

Riot: [eyebrow twitch!] "Was it me, or did that look like Kaolla Suu's arm in there?"

           "Ne, anyone seen Chaos?" Pesti-chan called out as he emerged from the bathroom--bathed, groomed and in uniform. "We're supposed to be leaving in ten minutes, and I haven't heard Rampage or Catastrophe try to eat him yet."
           Dark Mayhem shrugged. "He hasn't surfaced from his wall scroll yet. Maybe Carnage decided to have him sleep in the Samurai Pizza Cats delivery cannon again. You know how Carnage hates having to load Chaos into the firing chamber every morning the baka sleeps in."
           "Point."
           Pesti-chan settled on some Frosted Yugioh's cereal, and across the dining room table scurried their housekeeping hamster, Ebichu. Actually, it was more of a stumbling that Ebichu was up to, given how she was trying to haul a full carton of milk to pour into Pesti-chan's cereal bowl.
           "Ebichu's coming, dechu!" she squeaked as she tottered dangerously close to the edge of the table. "I'll be right there in a minute, dechu! Don't worry about me, dechu!"
           With a sigh, Pesti-chan leaned back in his chair and let Ebichu make her way over to his bowl. In the meantime, the front door had opened up and in bounded Hysteria, dressed in her kawaii little Jyuban High fuku-chan and hauling behind her a new acquisition for her tea parties.
           "He followed Hysteria home!" Hysteria squeaked, all excited. "Can Hysteria keep him?"
           The fanboys looked from Hysteria to the giant Totoro standing behind her.
           The Totoro turned its head towards them, and gave the biggest, scariest Cheshire Cat grin ever.

Totoro: ^_______________________________________^

Pesti: [sweatdrop!] "I never realized it before, but that's the same smile Hannibal Lecter has whenever he's about to eat someone."

Ebichi: [tremble tremble!] "Ebichu's so scared she's peeing in your cereal, dechu!"

Pesti: o.O;; "YOU'RE WHAT?!"

           Ignorant of Pesti-chan frantically flinging himself as far away from his cereal as possible, Hysteria giggled and skipped across the living room with the psychotic-looking Totoro in tow behind her. "Wai! Totoro-chan Totoro-chan!" she cheered.
           Hysteria paused as she saw Tora sitting by the kitchen counter, and then pushed the Totoro up in front of Tora. "Tora- chan," she said, gesturing to the Totoro. "Meet Hysteria's newest kawaii little friend-chan! And what is Tora-chan supposed to do when Hysteria introduces him to a new, kawaii little friend-chan? (o.O;;) KYAAAAAAA!!! He's not supposed to eat the friend-chan! Cough Totoro-chan up right this kawaii little minute-chan!"
           Grumbling about it being too early in the morning to be felt up, Carnage stumbled out from his bedroom and got to witness Hysteria trying to yank her precious Totoro-chan out from Tora's mouth with a rubber plunger. "Maybe I should just go back to bed," he sighed, shaking his head and bypassing the entertainment.
           "And miss the fun of discovering what new substitute victim- I mean, teacher the school board sends us today?" Dark Mayhem replied.
           Carnage shrugged. "At this rate I'd rather have Ginpachi back. Not actually having much to do during homeroom is starting to get kinda boring."
           "There's always joining that 'We Love Akito' fanclub the female Jyuban students started last semester," Demolition snickered. "I'm sure that would take up some of your time."
           Carnage glared up at his younger brother. "Shut up."
           "Well, regardless it is time we should be setting out on our most honourable journey to Jyuban High," Riot said as he studied where the sun was sitting in the sky. "It will be time for classes to start soon enough."
           Dark Mayhem retrieved his jacket and school bag. "Works for me. Ne, Carnage, are we taking one of your mobile suits to class again, or is Demolition going to use a Raywing spell on us?"
           "Actually, I've managed to hook us up with Luna Varga," Demolition said as he fished his own school bag out from the freezer.
           Pesti-chan sweatdropped. "You mean that girl who has that giant Godzilla lizard-thingy grow out from her butt?"
           "Hai! She agreed to carpool with us, if I could hook her up with Damaramu."
           The other fanboys gave Demolition the strangest looks.
           Demolition could only shrug. "Hey, I don't ask questions, I just set 'em up. Maybe she thinks a compact brain is sexy."
           As if on cue, the apartment began to shudder as Luna Varga came tromping down the street. The fanboys all put their shoes on and headed over to the balcony, where it would no doubt be the easiest place to get onto Varga's head.
           Adjusting the lapels on her--er, his student council uniform, Ruckus glanced around the crowd of otaku. "Ne, where's Chaos-cutie? I haven't given him a good morning fondling yet."
           "No idea," Dark Mayhem answered. "He hasn't been seen by anyone yet today."
           Hysteria sniffled. "Waaaah! Chaos-momma's going to miss her kawaii little class-chans!"
           "If he's late or skipping classes, let the truant officer deal with him," Carnage yawned. "You know how Pan-chan enjoys hunting down students who decide to play hookie. Who are we to deny her the strip-searching pleasure?"
           "Better him than you, ne?" Demolition snickered, ribbing his older brother.
           "She tries to yank my clothes off every day under the pretence that I'm smuggling a beam cannon or something onto the school grounds," Carnage grumbled, disembarking from the balcony and alighting Luna Varga's head. "Stupid Tenchi Masaki Syndrome."
           "Ano...Carnage?" Pesti-chan said. "You always smuggle a beam cannon or some other large-calibre weapon into Jyuban."
           Carnage rolled his eyes. "Oh, that's beside the point, Pesti- chan!"


*           *           *

           Consciousness was slow to come to Chaos (in fact, there are those who say it never bothers to arrive at all). He slowly opened one eye, and scanned it around. Quilt, white, not his. He closed the eye, and tried to remember what he'd been doing the previous evening that might warrant him being elsewhere. He wasn't tied up, that was always a plus. He made a quick check, and noted that his SD-Gourry-cow boxers were still in place. Likely the most reasonable explanation was that there'd been a Hard Lemonade-a-thon last night, and he'd been put somewhere. Or else he had lost yet another bet to the PMS-2 gaming console. He tried to mentally review his activities last night...nothing came to mind after being abducted by Hotaru. He'd have to--
           A clue hit Chaos. Amazingly, it didn't hurt.
           Eyes now wide open, Chaos lay stock still in the bed. Hotaru. He'd been sleeping, and she'd asked him something. What was it?
           Ah, yes. It was about the two of them.
           Chaos mentally reviewed his options. It didn't take long, there was only one option he used in situations like this.
           Panic.
           He began to slowly work his way over towards the edge of the bed. It took him quite a while, as it was a really big bed. He tried not to dwell on that fact; it gave him the cold shakes. He took it in stages, first moving his arms, then legs, then body, over and over a little bit at a time. Don't think, just act. You can do this....
           Chaos was so caught up in moving silently that he failed to notice he'd hit the edge of the bed, and ended up hitting the floor. Head first. Luckily with his compact brain, the damage was very minimal.
           "Nnnk!" he groaned, then quickly rolled over and wriggled under the bed. He peered out slowly at his surroundings.
           He appeared to be in a large wooden log cabin, as modernized and heated as it could be and still look authentically old. Most of the space seemed to consist of one large room, but wooden struts and alcoves divided it into several nooks, one of which was the bedroom Chaos currently lurked in. There was a fire currently burning in the fireplace, and Chaos could swear he smelled cocoa. It was the perfect way to wake up, and almost put him at ease.
           Almost.
           He crept quietly from under the bed, and gave the room another slow, long look. There was no one around. Especially no Hotaru, waiting to do who-knows-what unspeakable things to him. Something which only brought to mind what the others would do to him when they were found. Which, knowing his luck, would likely be just as they got into a compromising position.
           Chaos frowned and slapped himself. He'd been having some rather embarrassing dreams lately, dreams that made him have feelings he really didn't need. Feelings that would only cause him pain. Feelings that were just plain dangerous. 'Bad Chaos, no biscuit' kind of feelings.
           This didn't stop his subconscious from behaving like a rampaging Kintaro Oe, however. He was rather relieved that Hotaru had been behaving so differently lately, as otherwise the whole whipping thing might go horribly, HORRIBLY wrong.
           That was something else that was bothering him. Not just Hotaru suddenly kidnapping him like a lovestruck Kathy Bates; it was the fact that for the past two weeks she hadn't been doing anything to him. Well, aside from the holding hands. And putting her head on his shoulder. And the deep, soulful looks she'd give him for hours on end. But that was *it*.
           No glomps. No giggles. No calling her Queen. All the previous highlights of their relationship, gone. Even Haruka was concerned, after she'd put down her fans and Sake and stopped celebrating.
           He frowned. Something was very, very wrong here. Something he couldn't quite put his finger on....
           Chaos abruptly paused. "Wait a minute," he remarked, somewhat confused. "Since when did I get six-paragraph long internal monologues?"
           He blinked, and decided to try a test.
           "Right, switch to rapid-fire dialogue!" he shouted out loud, then his face fell. No luck. He was trapped in prose. More to the point: serious introspective prose. He reached out to grab his henshin...and came up with empty air. Panicking, he backed up against the wall and sweated. Real sweat. No drops. And judging from the fear coursing through him, he should be SD by now. But he wasn't. Not even any neko-ears were appearing.
           "I'm...I'm being written realistically," he said in an amazed tone. After a moment, he added, "No good can come from this."
           His reverie was interrupted by a low, throaty chuckle. He slowly raised his head, staring at the rafters above him.
           On top of one of which perched Hotaru, standing there staring at him with a hunger in her eyes that even Chaos could notice. She was wearing, he also noted, very tight jeans and a very tight sweater.
           Well, at least he still had his classic Chaos "Puchuu-bear- in-headlights" look to keep him going.
           She squatted down, continuing to simply stare at him. "Do you know, Chaos, I could look at you like this all day." Her voice had a rough, growly tone to it. She quickly flipped down onto the floor, coming over and taking his hand. "I'm hoping we'll get a lot of time to do that." Now she stopped the sultry gazes, and gave him one filled with simple love.
           And then that changed to resignation and annoyance as Chaos' eyes rolled up into the back of his skull and he crumpled to the floor.
           "I knew this wouldn't be easy," she said, lifting him back to the bed.


*           *           *

           Another day of attending classes at Jyuban High had come and gone for the fanboys, and now they had returned home. Well... actually the day hadn't really ended. It was more of a "we're sending everyone home after that freak Dragu Slave accident in the chemistry lab flooded what was left of the school in some creamy white substance" incident. Of course, the faculty and staff had absolutely no idea who was responsible for this. And perhaps it was just as well in the end.

Riot: ^^;;;; "Oh, but I most dishonourably know. I'd just rather not say."

Ruckus: ^^v "For the chance to get into Sessho-maro's kimono, I'd say!"

Riot: [argh!] "Was anyone asking you?!"

           "You know, Carnage," Pesti-chan sighed as they all trudged into the apartment, bits of Cream Lemon still clinging to their clothes. "I don't ask for much in this self-inserted life. A little peace and quiet, a guarantee my pure heart won't get ripped out, a few chances to kiss Mako-chan--"
           Walking in alongside him, Makoto blushed furiously. "Kamui!"
           "--and the knowledge that the next time Havoc proves to you that there is in fact an element on the periodic table named Hentopium, you won't take it so personally!" he finished, shooting a dark glare at Carnage.
           "Hey, how was I supposed to know that those oxygen tanks beneath the chem. lab counters were so flammable?" Carnage retorted.
           Usagi and Minako skipped into the apartment side by side, the two blondes grinning happily. "I can't complain!" Minako giggled. "Wai! We got to leave school early today!"
           "It certainly was kind of you to invite us over to your apartment for the rest of the afternoon too," Usagi said.
           Dark Mayhem, with Ami wrapped up in his arms, paused for a moment and blinked. "I invited the rest of you here too?"
           Needless to say, Inner Senshi facevaults abounded.
           "Stop teasing the poor Sailor Soldiers already, Newt-boy," Demolition sighed as he strolled in. "Can't say I'm sorry to be back early, but I have to admit that Chaos missed one hell of a day!"
           "Hai hai," Riot concurred. He glanced around the apartment, but found it lacking in any sort of evidence that Chaos had been around. "Strange. I cannot find any Puchuu bears, Chaosfics or fanboy-shaped holes in the walls and ceiling. Has Chaos not arisen at all today?"
           "If he hasn't, who should get to wake him up?" Pesti-chan asked.
           All the fanboys gave an evil grin and turned towards Ruckus.

Ruckus: ^^v "Glad to be of service!"

Hysteria: "Hey, why can't Hysteria wake up her kawaii little Chaos- poppa?"

Dark Mayhem: "Kid, we want to wake Chaos up, not scare him into a coma."

           Hysteria jutted out her lower lip in an effort to pout and gain sympathy, but she got very little of that as the fanboys gestured for Ruckus to bound into the wall scroll. "Well, fine!" she huffed as she slammed the front door shut. "If that's the way the fanboy-chans want it, then Hysteria's just going to have to go Shishio on their kawaii little ass-chans! Kawaii Killer Bu--"
           Suddenly the front door came crashing down off its hinges, crushing Hysteria beneath it. And standing there in the smoking remains of the doorway (not to mention in the midst of a throng of cheering readers) were a seriously irate-looking trio of Outer Senshi.
           "Okay, where's Chaos?" Haruka snapped, her eyes scouring the occupants of the living room.
           "What's the occasion this time around?" Dark Mayhem inquired, noting the whips and large pointy weapons in the Outers' hands.
           "Our Hime-chan's gone missing," Michiru replied. "As of late, whenever she vanishes, it means we can find her so long as we can find Chaos."
           "A-Ano," Makoto stammered, pointing over at Setsuna. "If she's gone missing, then shouldn't you be able to find her? What with you being the Soldier of Time and all?"
           Setsuna frowned and studied the opaque qualities of her garnet orb. "I have searched as much throughout time and space as possible, and I have found no trace of Hotaru. For that matter, I have found no traces of Chaos either."
           "I somehow doubt they're both making out inside his room," Carnage told the Outers. "We kind of have disorders that tend to hamper if not completely prevent such things from happening."
           "Chaos hasn't even been up since this morning," Pesti-chan added.
           Michiru strolled into the hallway, her gazed fixated on the wall scroll hanging there. "Then if Chaos is in fact still asleep and all by himself, he has very little to worry about. Ne?"
           "Not if they're still intent on smacking him around for not knowing where Hotaru is," Demolition whispered aside to Riot.

Setsuna: [glare!] "I heard that!"

Demolition: o.O; "You...you did? An Anime babe has actually heard me? (^-^) Wanna go out on a date next Saturday?"

Setsuna: "Not in this incarnation, buddy."

Demolition: -.-;;; "Sounds like somebody hasn't gotten some in, oh, the last two centuries!!"

Setsuna: [erk!] "It's only been in the last century...and that's not a confession!"

Demolition: "Suuuuuuure, it isn't."

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