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The Uedas - Chapter 4 ~*~Finally Up!~*~
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Joined: 10 Oct 2010
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Location: Surrounded by many beautiful naked men

Posted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:07 pm    Post subject: The Uedas - Chapter 4 ~*~Finally Up!~*~  

Sagi: Welcome to a collaboration between two very different (yet very talented) authors --- Pope and Sagi! We hope that you enjoy this experience as much as we do!
Pope: Yes, very, very different. . . .



“911, what is your emergency?”

Catarina said, her voice sounding almost bored. The same question echoed around the room from the other inhabitants of the 911 operator center. One call after another in the endless monotony of mostly petty everyday problems some resident or another felt the police needed to deal with. There was no doubt that there were real emergencies in this world, but Catarina sometimes wished that the everyday man would learn to recognize them.

Mari, the girl in the cubicle next to hers popped her head over the wall, her fist covering the mouthpiece of her headset. She rolled her eyes and sighed. “Another ‘why is traffic moving so slow’ for me. And you?”

Catarina reached up to cover her own mic. “One of those ‘my next door neighbor is throwing a rowdy party and I need sleep’ for me,” she said with a slight chuckle.

Mari shook her head before vanishing back into her cubicle.

Taking a deep breath, Catarina turned her attention back to her caller. “I’m sorry sir, there’s nothing we can do. It’s 12:45 PM, and outdoor parties are not against the law. Yes sir, even when you can hear the music in your own house. No sir, I can’t just send someone by to scare him. I’m sorry sir, I have to let you go. I have to keep this line open. I’m sorry sir, good-bye.” Tapping the ‘end call’ button, she sat back with a sigh, pulling off her headset and letting her eyes drift shut.

A low throb in the back of her head let her know it was time for some water, and perhaps a few aspirin. As she stood up, she reached up to rub her eyes. She stopped midway, one hand still on the arm of the chair. Her knuckles had turned white as the hand gripping the chair arm clenched tighter and tighter. A faint burning had suddenly radiated behind her eyes and with a small gasp she sat back down. Without thinking, she reached out and put her headset back on.

A moment later, a call came in. “911, what is your emergency?” she asked, a hint of pain in her voice.

The voice at the other end of the call was hysterical. “Oh god, please send someone! My babies, they’re trapped inside! I was only away for a minute! Oh god, Jeremy! Hellen! Please, hurry!” With a calming breath, Catarina forced her eyes open, her gaze locking on the location readout. Her chest heaved slightly as the woman’s voice rambled on and on, turning from yells to screams.

“Ma’am. Are you at 1524 Berton Avenue?” she managed to get out, her body slowly settling back to normal.

“Yes, yes, I’m using my neighbors phone. Fuck, just send someone, now! Oh, my babies!”

With that, the call went dead. Reaching out, she pressed the button on the switchboard that was connected to the fire department’s main office. After giving them the location she removed her headset wordlessly and stood up. Ignoring her friend’s inquiries, she walked slowly to the bathroom. Once inside a stall she let herself sink to the floor, her head cradled in her arms.


“Hey Miles, there’s another one. Suburb this time.”

Miles Stanton looked up from his computer screen to his boss’ strained face. Giving the balding man a nod, he saved his work and stood up. His office was modest. A desk, a chair, a waste paper basket --- everything he’d ever need, or so he was always telling himself. Years ago, he had settled on the fact that he’d never be a big shot in the reporting biz. He didn’t have the ruthlessness for it, nor was it ever important to him. However, it had never stopped him from giving it his all when searching for the truth.

His latest obsession was a string of arsons in his town and the ones surrounding it. While the police had been able to prove some as accidents, there were at least five fires that lacked any and all explanation of how they started or why. The police were baffled, but Miles was determined to uncover the meaning behind it all.

Snagging his gray suit jacket off the back of his chair, he snatched the small slip of paper --- an address was scribbled on it --- from his boss’ outstretched hands as he hurried out of his office. “Thanks Jim --- don’t wait up for me!” he called out before slipping the sheet between his lips so he could pull his jacket on, all the while never stopped moving towards the exit.

Jim laughs and waves him off like a parent shooing their child off to school when they’re late. “I never do, kid,” he said with a sigh.

As the balding man made his way back to his office, Miles flagged down a taxi outside the local newspaper office building. When one finally stopped, he practically leaped inside and instructed the driver the address. “I’ll pay ya an extra twenty if ya can get me there ’fore the fire’s out.”

The driver gave him a nod and started speeding down the street.

Miles leaned back and went over all the facts he knew about the previous fires, his insides almost jumping with the thought of a fresh crime scene. Barely into his late twenties, the lines around his eyes had already begun to show. This came from his habit of hunting for details others may have missed. With a smirk, the young reporter chuckled. “I’m gonna get ’em. God as my witness, I’m gonna get ’em.”

to be continued...

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Tikanni Corazon

Joined: 25 Oct 2009
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Location: Running through the plains of my mind, my wolf spirit at my side (but doing so in the UK!).

Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:32 pm    Post subject:  

Hey Sagi and Pope!

This is a very interesting and readable start, and I really am looking forward to reading more in order to see what direction the story is going in. The writing flows very well and the characters and the short but intriguing window into their lives (so far) provides enough interest to draw readers back for more...well, it will for me personally anyway, lol!

Great beginning, guys! Very well done! Keep up the good work! :)
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Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:43 pm    Post subject: Thanks  

Yays, a vote of confidence. Thanks fer reading Tikanni-chan!
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Location: Happily curled up in a Daemon's lap

Posted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:56 am    Post subject:  

I see inspiration from both Sagi & Pope's writing styles in here but it still flows very smoothly, well done boys! *applauds* So we've a 911 dispatcher who's having something that looks akin to a pre-cognitive ability and an overeager young reporter dogging the streets to make it big as a journalist with the arson crimes that are coming up around town. Very interesting.

So... Chapter 1? *looks around*
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Posted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:02 am    Post subject: Thanks  

Thanks fer reading Lilith-chan. I'm glad we managed to fit our *Hem* styles together in a pleasing manner :P We'll get on chapter one soon. Sagi-kun isn't feeling well right now, so it may take a lil' bit. Glad you like it thus far! *Pokes Sagi-kun* You should thank our readers too :P
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Posted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:22 am    Post subject: The Uedas: Chapter 1  

Chapter 1
Written by Sagi
Edited by Pope & Sagi


“Tell us about what you did in Sloan & Price, Mr...”

The Japanese man in his mid thirties cleared his throat and straightened his back a little. “Ueda. It’s Oo-eh-dah. So, I was a Junior Partner in Sloan & Price---” he started when the second interviewer interrupted him.

“How do we say your first name?” he inquired, the interviewer’s eyes never leaving the paperwork in front of him. He was a tall man, even when seated.

Resisting the urge to sigh, Otori smiled instead. He tried to not feel small, being alone with them in the large conference room. “It’s Oh-toh-ree. But, please, Terry is fine. So, about my time as Junior Partner, I was an integral member of the Creative Department, and I was usually assigned as the art director---”

“When did you leave Japan, mister...” cut in the first interviewer, a balding man in his late forties.

Trying his best to ignore the constant interruptions, Otori forced a smile and tried to make eye contact with one of the distracted interviewers, to no avail. “Oo-eh-dah. I left Japan twelve years ago to pursue new career opportunities---”

“You didn’t specify what you did during your time in Japan,” interrupted the tall interviewer this time, as if they were taking turns to annoy him.

“No, that was over a dozen years ago, I felt that my time in Japan was irrelevant to this company.”

The balding man finally looked up and into his eyes. “On the contrary, Mr...”

“Oo-eh-dah.” Otori repeated, getting slightly irritated on the inside. He tried to calm himself down by subtly peeking out the large soundproof window making up the entire wall behind the interviewers.

“Right. Your experiences while you were in Japan are crucial to your application, especially considering your ad agency here in the U.S. wasn’t exactly a success.” His voice carried a definite condescending tone.

Feeling a little insulted, he tried to not let it show. “Sloan & Price was not at fault for its bankruptcy,” Otori tried to explain. “The financial crisis hit all our big accounts hard, and when they went belly up, we did too.”

The balding man leaned forward, a hint of a sinister smile curling the corners of his lips. “But that’s not the whole story, was it? Wasn’t one of your big accounts that really controversial pharmaceutical know, the, uh...”

Feeling a twinge of an old guilt, it took all he had to not just up and leave. Instead, he looked back defiantly at his interviewers. “Jennings Pharmaceuticals. Yes, they were caught up in a serious false advertising scandal---”

“And it was your agency who made these ads, wasn’t it?” chipped in the tall interviewer, now looking at him, too.

Otori bit his lip, a little tired of being put on the defensive yet again. “That was last year, and the authorities had since cleared Sloan & Price of any wrongdoings.” Regardless, the damage had already been done and the company’s reputation was tainted beyond repair. “The agency could only work with what the client gave us. It’s not a reflection on us if the client gave us false information.”

“However, it is a reflection on your agency that all it’s other clients are now also bankrupt,” remarked the balding interviewer with a grin, almost as if he had been waiting for that opening. His fellow interviewer chuckled. “After all, their advertising agency was supposed to be the one making sure that doesn’t happen, right?”

Swallowing his humiliation and burying his pride, Otori forced himself to chuckle with them, trying to maintain an amiable appearance. Even so, he couldn’t help thinking that perhaps he did deserve some humiliation, given what had really happened at Sloan & Price. “Yes, that’s so right. So, back to what I did for the agency---”

A cellphone suddenly rang, and to Otori’s horror, he realised he had forgotten to set his phone on silent!

Mumbling an apology, he quickly fumbled his phone out of his pocket and hit the ‘deny call’ button. “Uh, sorry again about that. So, about what I’ve done, I was also the accountant executive---”

The balding man leaned forward and cut in. “Thank you for your time, mister...”

Otori blinked at the abruptness of the end of the interview. “Oh, uh, it’s Oo-eh---”

“Right,” interrupted the tall interviewer, clearly uninterested in letting the man finish. “Email HR the updated CV with your time in Japan.”

Clutching at the remnants of his surely-by-now-imaginary dignity, he stood up and extended his hand to them.

However, both interviewers ignored it and didn’t even bother looking up. “Send in the next person on your way out,” said the balding man instead.

Pulling back his hand awkwardly, Otori left the conference room and conveyed the instruction to the next candidate in a line of about twenty men and women, some sitting confidently in fine plush chairs, the others pacing around nervously. Having delivered the message, he made a beeline to the hotel elevator, making no sound as his well worn dress shoes stepped across the ten thousand dollar carpets. Satisfied that no one was around him, he allowed himself to groan disappointedly as he grit his teeth unhappily. What a disaster! He wished he could say his job interviews were never this bad. The worst part was, he’d still take the job if the people who had just humiliated him offered. What he felt or wanted wasn’t important anymore. His wife had been taking extra shifts for the past six months, and their kids’ college funds were starting to look dangerously insecure. They might have to sell their house and move into a rented flat, at this rate.

Once he was outside the five star hotel, he let the sunlight warm his skin and soaked in the sounds of the distant busy traffic for a moment before pulling out his cellphone. The mentally exhausted man hit the voicemail button before lifting the phone to his ear and walked past the limousines lining up at the large archway. He strode across the hotel gardens and towards the nearest subway. He couldn’t wait to leave the city center and return to the suburbs.

“You have, one, new message. Beep. Hello, Mr. Ueda? This is principal Whitings from Theodore Grant High. Would you mind coming in sometime today to talk about Rowan? Beep.”

Great. With a frustrated growl, he reached up to rub his temples in a vain attempt to calm his frayed nerves. Just what this family needed. A sprinkle of teenage angst, on top of everything else. Otori’s jet black eyes closed momentarily as he tried to gather together the pieces of his slowly crumbling life.

Lowering his phone momentarily, he started the speed dial, which brought up a picture of his very beautiful wife on the screen. In this picture, her lush dark curls were partially blocking her smile, but it didn’t matter, as her deep brown eyes revealed a genuine laughter. It rang a few times, and then it connected to her voicemail. She must had been busy.

“Honey, the principal just called to talk about Rowan, so I’m heading to the school now. I’ll tell you about it when I see you. Oh, and uh,” he hesitated, suddenly realising he didn’t want to tell her about the disastrous interview over a voicemail. “You know what, I’ll see you at home. Love you.”

The conversation about the interview can wait. His wife was probably too busy dealing with other people’s crisis at the call center, without having to deal with their own.



The seventeen year-old teenager with long black hair---pulled back into a ponytail---continued down the school hallway as if he hadn’t heard a thing. It wasn’t entirely implausible, considering the chatter amongst the few students around him. He fought back the urge to whistle nonchalantly. Don’t whistle. Jasper doesn’t whistle, nonchalantly or otherwise. He could hear the frustrated steps of high heels clicking across the marble floorboards towards him from behind. Within moments, a tall woman with black-rimmed glasses stepped into his path. The teenager stumbled into a halt and blinked in exaggerated surprise, as if he didn't know such events could ever occur to him.

“Rowan,” principal Whitings tried again, a stern expression on her face. “I told you not to leave my office!”

The teenager resisted clearing his throat and gave her an innocent smile, desperately masking his evil one. “Umm, miss, I ain’t Rowan?”

A look of surprise appeared on the principal’s strong face briefly, before it was replaced by an apologetic expression. She ran her hand down her long face in a slightly self-conscious manner. “Oh my, how embarrassing. I’m so sorry, Jasper, I’m usually better at telling you two apart!” the woman in a fitted dark gray suit exclaimed and looked around the hallway, as if expecting to find the other twin hiding behind one of the grey lockers. “Have you seen---”

“I ain’t seen Rowan in school today, ma’am,” the teenager lied. It wasn’t a total lie. He hadn’t seen the mirror today. He coughed a little to mask a chuckle.

The woman strutted away at that, no doubt to resume her quest in the search of ‘Rowan’. As soon as she disappeared behind another corridor, he burst out laughing. It never ceased to amuse him that people could mistake him for Jasper. He didn’t even bother to undo his pony tail this time!

Just as soon as he thought that, however, the principal reappeared from around the corner---her heels echoing down the side corridor louder than ever---and dashed purposefully towards him. Her expression was definitely one of rage. “Ah, fuck,” he muttered in a chuckle. It looked like he had been made. Oh well. Perhaps he should cross off spycraft from his list of possible careers now.

At least his ‘gift’ was still untouched in the principal’s office, counting down slowly but surely to showtime. He grinned cheekily at that thought. After all, all work and no party makes school a boring pit of teenage hormones.

“Where’s Mr. Brown, miss?” Rowan asked, clearly bored, leaning his chair on its two back legs. He wondered how much longer the chair could last before the wooden legs splinters under the stress of his fidgeting. He leaned back a tad further to test it out. An unopened midterm paper was sitting on the plastic desk in front of him. The words ‘Calculus 101’ were printed across it in plain block letters.

“You’re not supposed to talk, Rowan. Do your exam,” the history teacher replied without even looking up from the book she was reading. He watched as she reached up to brush back her white streaked red hair dismissively and rolled his eyes.

Why wasn’t he supposed to talk? It wasn’t like there were any other students in the classroom. He shrugged. “What’s the point? You all know I’m gonna to get an A, anyway.”

She flipped to the next page. “Except you won’t get an A if you don’t do the exam. You’re lucky the principal insists on giving you a chance to redo your math exam.”


The teacher sighed and closed her book. “Think of it this way. If you fail this one, you’ll have to redo this school year. Won’t that be fun? An extra year of school?”

The teenager grumbled unhappily. He suppose it wouldn’t hurt spending ten minutes on it, before the ‘surprise’ he had for the school unwraps itself. He smiled a little at that thought. He reached over and flipped the exam booklet open. Here it goes, the mother of all boring things he could do today...Question 1...

Rowan blinked.


The answer wasn’t coming to him like it usually did. Given that a spaceship is accelerating at ‘x’ squared plus the square root of ‘y’ multiplied by ‘x’, where ‘y’ is equals to 10 when ‘x’ is less than 50, what is the distance traveled by the spaceship after reaching speed ‘z’? What the fuck? He rubbed his eyes, inhaled, and looked at the question again. Still nothing. Usually he could breeze through anything his math teacher---'where was Mr. Brown anyway'---gave him. Did they give him a more difficult exam?

He looked up angrily. “Okay, miss, this ain’t funny. Gimme the real one.”

The history teacher’s eyes stayed glued to her book. “The real what?” There was no sign at all that it was a prank.

The raven haired teen swallowed. What was he thinking? As if the teachers possessed the sense of humour to play an actual prank on him. He looked down at the other exam questions. Nothing, nothing, and nothing. Fuck. They did give him a more difficult exam. At this rate, he’d be scoring a zero on the paper! Realisation suddenly dawned on him. That must had been their plan...they must be trying to get him to fail! Fuck, he knew disassembling all the teacher’s bicycles and then scrambling all the parts before putting them back together on the wrong bikes would bite him in the arse one day! He just didn’t realise it would be three years after, when he had all but forgotten about it. Suddenly, the prospect of redoing the school year was becoming painfully real.

His life was so over. Jasper would never let him live down the inevitable first and only F that would blemish his perfect straight A record! He sighed. On the bright side, who doesn’t love variety?

He peered up at the history teacher. The teachers really hated him that much? He must have had gone too far with the last prank. Oh, wait. He raised his head suddenly. His last prank was just about to...

“~No more pencils, no more books! No more teacher’s dirty looks!~”

The school P.A. system suddenly blared with offensively loud pop music! Rowan smiled. Right on schedule.

“~School’s out for summer! School’s out forever!~”

He wasn’t failing today. Quickly, he gathered his things and walked up to the front of the classroom. “Umm, miss?!” he shouted over the music. “I ain’t doing the exam under these...extraneously loud conditions. Maybe later?” he grinned and ran out before she could reply. As he was leaving, he swore he caught a look of ‘I-know-this-was-all-your-doing’ on her face! be continued

p.s. there's no DP here yet. We have one more post to make before a DP. ;)

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Posts: 367

Posted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:42 am    Post subject:  

Whoo hoo! Finally Chapter 1 is posted. Sorry for the delay, people. I hope you enjoy this one! ;)
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Location: Penna, having a hot cup of tea

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 7:28 pm    Post subject:  

Hiya Sagi and Pope! You guys have done a brilliant job with this collab! I can see a bit of both of you in here, and it flows so well. I'm really liking all of the characters, too. I can't wait for the next chapter! :D
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Location: Surrounded by many beautiful naked men

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 10:51 pm    Post subject: The Uedas Chapter 2  

Chapter 2
Written by: Pope
Edited by: Pope & Sagi


“~Schooool’s out, for-ever!~”

At the first notes of the Alice Cooper classic, Jasper’s head had begun sinking down behind the history book propped up on the table before him. The usually quiet school library echoed with the music, undertoned by a low murmur of voices as the various students gathered into small groups and began discussing the unusual occurrence. A few had smiles and were looking around the room. Others were also looking about the room, and by the looks on their faces, they were not nearly as amused at the disturbance. Jasper quickly snapped his book shut, packed his satchel and pulled it over his head, the strap resting crossways from shoulder to hip.

“You’ve done it this time, bro,” he murmured as he darted out of the high-ceilinged library into the wide locker-lined hallway. He stopped for only a few moments before heading to his left. The song was suddenly cut off and Jasper quickened his pace. At the crossroads, he hesitated for only a moment before darting down the hallway on his right. Within moments, he heard the sound of squeaky sneakers on marble. Without slowing down he wiped around the corner and grabbed his brother’s arm. The ponied brother looked unfazed by Jasper’s sudden appearance and together they turned and headed for the stairs.

Other than the sound of their matching shoes on marble floors and wooden stairs, they spent the trip to the top floor of the private high school in comfortable silence. Rowan darted ahead and pulled open the door leading to another set of stairs, metallic this time, that lead to the school roof. Jasper paused for a moment to shake his head at his brother and with a sigh he darted up the stairs.

The two of them made short work of the climb, taking two steps at a time and almost like a cork from a pop gun they flew through the door at the top before coming to a halt. Both boys were fit, Jasper with his track and Rowan going to all state with his swim team, so it took only a few moments to recover. Once Jasper could breathe properly, he made his way to the railing surrounding the rooftop and leaned on it with his elbows. Rowan joined him a few moments later. They stood there in silence for a time, enjoying a silent connection that only twins could have.

Jasper fixed his brother with a mock stern gaze. “So bored that you just had to spice things up, huh?”

Rowan smiled back at him, punching his sibling’s plaid clad arm softly. “Oh, you know. Just the usual: miss a test, summoned by Principal Whitings, hack her intercom, and miss the same test again. I ain’t never gonna get why they keep trying to sit me in front of exams. Like my hundreds of A's need more company.” His smile faltered for a moment. “Except maybe this one,” he added, sounding distracted. Jasper cocked an eyebrow. Spotting the look on his brother’s face, Rowan started to spout one of his conspiracy theories, this time something about payback, evil teachers and test problems that were way out of his league.

Jasper’s eyebrows furrowed. For as long as he could remember, things like tests and homework had always come real easy to Rowan, especially when he was in school. He dismissed the idea of the teachers getting back at him and did his best to quell his brother’s paranoia. “Besides, Rowan, if they really wanted to get back at you, they would have been at least half as clever with the payback as you were with the prank.” Patting the other teen on the arm, he watched as the last bit of worry left his face and the knot he got in his stomach from seeing his brother in such a state relaxed. Settling back against the rail, he added. “So, any reason you left me out of this one? What if I wanted something a little less obvious, for example?”

Rowan laughed. “Oh, you know. This was my own little ‘stress relief exercise’,” he said smiling, before becoming serious. “And with your competition coming up, I didn’t want you to have to think about anything else. I know how you get before a big one.” Rowan turned so he was facing the school. Leaning back, he propped himself backwards on the railing. Jasper studied him for a moment before nodding and shifting his gaze to the school grounds.

A different knot tugged at his innards as Jasper looked down at the school’s track. The sophomores were in the middle of practicing the vault horse. He winced, the knot throbbing, as he watched a kid simply crash into the practice horse. A pair of warm hands on his shoulders drew a long sigh out of him and he let his head fall. Rowan rubbed his shoulders a few times in an attempt to relax his brother.

When his brother stepped back, Jasper turned around and gave him a fake sexy smile. “Marry me?”

Rowan doubled over laughing and soon the two of them were practically falling over from lack of oxygen. When he finally was able to compose himself, the ponied teen wiped a tear from his eye and replied. “Nah, Oniiwei, you deserve better. Go find a hot stud like the ones in those manga you’re always reading and make him your sweetheart. I’m sure you can train him to give you much better massages.” Jasper pulled himself up, coughing to expel the last vestiges of laughter before walking over to face the younger twin.

The day he had told his brother about his attraction to men was the only day Jasper had ever been afraid of losing his twin's trust and affection. Rowan’s reaction had been silence at first. The long seconds stretched on until at last he spoke.

“So, I can have Cindy?” A slow goofy grin had spread across Rowan’s face as Jasper felt the prick of tears in his eyes.

“Yeah dude,” he replied, letting a few tears fall. “Cindy’s all yours.”

And as far As Rowan was concerned, that was all there was to be said on the matter.

Jasper wrapped his hands behind his brother’s head, lacing his fingers together. “No way, bro. No one could ever do better than you.” Then, with a wink and air smooch, he stepped back and looked at the door leading back to the school. He pretended to ignore Rowan’s vigorous attempts to rub away the light blush on his cheeks. “I think it’s time we head back in --- they’re most likely in the perfect tizzy right now. Don’t want them thinking you left the school, right?” He turned to his brother as the other stepped up next to him. Rowan nodded and the two made their way inside.

About halfway down the stairs, they both looked at one another as they heard Rowan being called to the principal’s office over the P.A. system. They both cringed slightly when the message ended with: ‘your father is here as well.’

Jasper’s brows furrowed. “Cookies?” he inquired.

Rowan gave him a very grateful look. “Yeah, cookies. Thanks, Oniiwei.”

Slipping off the ever present black hair tie around his right wrist, Jasper pulled his hair back to match his brother’s. Ever since they stole their first cookie from the cookie jar, the two of them had gotten out of many scrapes by pretending to be their other sibling. And when that failed, they both simply pretended to be the same sibling. It was harder to punish a kid when you didn’t know which one committed the crime. True, it had gotten them both punished on occasion, but at least they suffered together.

Once Jasper’s hair was in place, the two of them finished the descent and headed to the principal’s office.


With a long sigh the tall redhead collapsed into the high-backed office chair behind the ornate mahogany desk. The fine Italian leather creaked beneath him as he leaned back, his eyes fluttering shut. The muted sounds of the party winding down from below his feet faded as he let the sound of the fire crackling in the large ornate fireplace behind him wash over him and sooth his fraying nerves. As an executive in the largest toy company in the western half of America, Alessandro found it advantageous to keep an eye on his competition, and what better way than to throw a party in his own home? Whatever he couldn’t observe with his own eyes, he could review later on his security tapes.

Turning his chair so that it was facing the fire he lets the heat soak in. ’That Mr. Collins is insufferable.’ he thought, his mind still buzzing. ’I swear, he was but a moment away from asking me out right what the access codes for the development department computer files are. That man has no tact...’ His eyes opened slowly and let his gaze wandered over the pictures decorating his fireplace, their ornate wooden frames flashing in the flickering light.

Even with the fire being the only source of light in the room, he could still make out the faces of his beloved sister and her sons. The picture to the far left was Catarina when she was in middle school. He smile was offset by the mischievous gleam in her eyes as she posed for the camera. To the right was a picture of himself holding the twins for the first time. His face was almost in a panic. He’d never held a baby before --- their parents were too overprotective to let him hold Catarina as a baby.

Next to it was another example of Alessandro’s sheltered upbringing. A few years after returning to America with the kids, Catarina had invited her brother on a family outing. In the picture, young Jasper was trying to hand a freshly caught fish to his uncle as a present. The man in the picture was doing his best to scoot on his backside away from the still wriggling thing, a look of terror plastered across his face.

He shook his head, recalling the nightmare. He loved his little nephews to pieces, but over the years, they had developed a taste for picking on their poor uncle. He glanced over the rest of the pictures, the boys slowly growing taller, his sister slowly getting more and more crinkles around her eyes. He reached up to brush his own before at last his eyes settled on the last photo they’d sent him. His stomach turned, the way it always did when he catches sight of the villain who stole his sister away from him.

He swore many years ago that he would never forgive the black-eyed devil that robbed him of the most precious person in his life. They had been born together and they had shared everything. However, somehow, this man had convinced her to marry him without so much as a by-your-leave from Alessandro. As he looked up at the dark haired man, he simply ignored the logic that he wouldn’t have had such wonderful little nephews had Terry not married his sister.

’Besides,’ he mused inside his mind. ’She could have found someone else. Someone better! He’s not good enough for her! I don’t care what the courts say, he’s involved somehow. I bet that was what happened in Japan, too! No one moves to the other side of the world that suddenly for no reason.’ His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of his study door closing.

He swiveled back around and let his eyes adjust. Before he could make out any more than the vague shape of the intruder, the sound of their heels brought a smile to his lips. The figure moved past the bookcase which took up nearly the entire wall from door to window. The sound of clinking glass drifted to his ears in the quiet room. He waited quietly, the light from the full moon shining through the large window gave him a good look at the figure pouring a dark liquid into a pair of tall glasses at his liquor cabinet.

The slender figure was clad in a tight red cocktail dress with a light dusting of reflective flakes running across the chest. Her hips and breasts matched perfectly, and he admired both openly as she turned to him, the glasses in hand. Her voluminous hair bounced with each step, its rich sandy blonde color flared orange as she stepped into the firelight, the color several shades lighter than the dark red hair tumbling over his own shoulders. Handing a glass of deep red liquid to him, she sips slowly at the other.

Twirling it a few times between his glove-clad fingers---the white fabric glowing yellow orange in the firelight---he brought it to his lips. He took a slow sip as she spoke. “Did it go as well as you’d hoped, love?” He smiled, her voice floating pleasantly across his ears. They had never really done the pet name thing, but there was just something about the way she said love that always set his heart aflutter even after nine years of marriage.

She watched as he turned his chair to face the fire once again with a light groan. “I do not wish to speak of it now.” She chuckled at him, stepping behind his chair. Setting the now half-empty glass down, she reached around the fine leather backing of the chair to give her husband a slow, firm massage. He leaned back, letting her dig all the stress of the evening out of his tense muscles.

When he was satisfied with his shoulders, he swivelled the chair to the side. Reaching out, he grabbed his wife by her waist and pulled her closer. She carefully hiked up her already short dress and straddled his lap. Once she was settled, he drew her down for a long slow kiss. When they finally broke for air, his mind was filled with nothing but the warm hum of a man content with the warm body in his arms. “I love you Alicia,” he whispered, leaning up to pepper kisses across her cheek.

She giggled at the feeling. “I know.”


The late 20’s reporter closed his baby blue eyes, rubbing the lids with his fingers. His short brown hair had become rather greasy over the past hour as he ran here and there, interviewing as many people on scene as he could. He knew the smell of smoke would cling to his gray pinstripe suit long after he left. Miles nodded almost dismissively as he jotted down the witness’ words before reaching up to scratch his 4 o’clock shadow idly.

It was the same story he’d heard from all others who had been present at the time the fire broke out. With a smile he thanked the person and snapped his notepad shut. All the witnesses agreed; the street had been quiet until they heard screaming, and then they had each made their way towards the source. There, they had caught sight of a woman on the front lawn, clutching a cellphone and screaming into it with a man they’d identified as a neighbor standing next to her. The house had been billowing smoke out of the front door and a few open windows at that point.

His shoulders sagged slightly, a bit put out that he hadn’t found a scrap of evidence to link this fire to the others he’d taken an interest in. He moved slowly through the crowd until he reached the crime scene tape barrier closest to the ambulance.

“Second degree burns on hands and feet --- we need move out right away,” a blond EMT said before her attention was caught by the boy crying for his mother and sister. “Where’s his mother?” she turned and yelled.

“Already in the other bus with her daughter. She had signs of minor smoke inhalation,” replied a short EMT as he hopped into the ambulance beside the boy. He looked down at the child and spoke softly. “It’s alright little one, you’ll see them at the hospital.”

As he listened to the EMTs talk about the boy in the stretcher, Miles kept his eyes scanning over the crowd. Out of the corner of his eye he watched the second ambulance, or ‘bus’, as the EMT called it, tore off towards the hospital. His eyes locked onto a man in blue he recognised and after scribbling down a few notes on the overheard conversation he made his way through the crowd.

The officer spotted him approaching and motioned for another policeman to take his place as he slipped off to the side of the cordoned off area. He pulled out a smoke just as Miles reached him, and with a practiced grace, the reporter snapped open his zippo and offered the flame to the man. After the cigarette was lit, the officer watched as Miles slid the lighter back into his pocket and gave him a rueful smile. “We’re standing next to a burning building and you decide to light up? That’s cold, man,” Miles said gruffly to him.

The sandy haired man shook his head, taking a long drag before pulling the cigarette away from his lips and pushing his hat up a bit. “Correction, Stanton, it’s a smoldering building. The hose patrol made short work of it this time.” He turned to look at the ruined house and shrugged. “Besides, I don’t think the wreckage minds.” He gave Miles a sideways look out of the corner of his eye. “And what brings you here Stanton? It’s not like this one screams ‘I’m freaky, check me out!’ or anything. I thought you were working exclusively on the oddball arson cases now?”

Miles cracked his neck, reaching up to rub it with his free hand. He glanced at the officer before he, too, locked his eyes on the gutted house. “Who knows, Franklin? Apparently, my boss thought there was somthin’ hinky about this one so he sent me. I go where the boss tells me, just like you,” he chuckled, giving Franklin a friendly punch in the arm.

The officer rolled his eyes and took another long drag. Blowing the smoke out over his shoulder, he dropped the cigarette and stepped on it, grinding it against the pavement with the heel of his shoe. “Hinky, huh? I can’t think of anything off about this one...” He paused, his head cocking to the side like he’d heard something. Miles’s gaze shifted over to the officer, his reporter senses snapping into action. With a flick of the wrist, his notepad was open and his writing hand was at the ready.

“Morris, my partner you know, he’s the one who heard this mind you. When we arrived on scene, he went to check with the firefighters on what they needed done. You know, how far back to keep the crowd and all. He overheard one of the men asking the homeowner what’s on the second floor. She said that it was the kids’ rooms, a bathroom, and such.” Franklin looked over at Miles, his brows furrowed. “And here’s the weird part. When she asked him why he wanted to know, he said the call they got from the call center said there were two kids on the second floor.” His voice lowered a bit and he turned to look at Miles fully. “And she replied, ‘I don’t recall ever saying anything like that to that woman.’”

The back of Miles’s neck prickled slightly as his fingers flew across the notepad, taking in every word. A self-satisfied feeling settled in his gut as he snapped the pad shut a moment later. “Thanks Franklin. That’s a fine new puzzle piece.” he said, his mind already trying to fit it in with the other facts about the string of arsons bouncing around his head.

The officer gave him a shrug and a wave, recognizing the look on the reporter’s face. He knew there was no way to snap the guy out of his problem solving brainstorming trance, so he returned to his crowd control duties.

In a silent, almost dream like state, Miles hailed a cab and had it drop him off at his office. After jotting down a note about his progress for the boss, he punched out and headed home. He didn’t even notice the smell of stale beer permeating the cab on the ride to his apartment building. As soon as the ride was over, Miles paid his fare and exited the cab. He walked the ten steps it took to reach the front doors to his building. Miles punched in the security code for the front door of the slightly run down old building and pulled the glass door open.

Crossing the front entry way, he quickly checked his mail before heading to the elevator. As the chipped yellow double doors slid open, he stepped aside to let an elderly gentleman out before boarding the musty elevator. His apartment was on the 9th floor and once his shoes were off, kicked off beside the apartment door, he practically collapsed face first onto his couch. The tattered old thing creaked beneath his weight and let out a healthy cloud of dust.

The room was sparsely filled with furniture, mostly ancient in appearance and in muted tones. The TV itself still had legs and rabbit ears. Miles had found no reason to complain. The place came furnished and as long as it had all the amenities, he was content. The kitchen linoleum peeled in places and the wallpaper looked like it would have better suited a nice old lady.

After working up the strength to stand, he hobbled into the kitchen and went about his nightly routine. He whipped up a homemade meal, and once it was ready, he retired to living room, switching on the television and turning it to the news channel. The report on the fire came on just as he scooped the last few vegetables of his stir-fry into his mouth. He paused long enough to listen to the introduction of the story before swallowing the mouthful and leaning forward to snap the TV off. “Another freak fire incident my arse. I wonder just how many there has to be before they pull their heads out of the sand and get with the program,” he muttered to himself and sighed, wandering into the kitchen to wash his dishes.

With his sleeve rolled up over his elbows to keep them dry, he started filling the sink with soapy water, still talking to himself. “I mean, c’mon, I know we don’t want a panic on our hands, but there are seven fires in five months! The last two were less than two weeks apart!” He stacked the now clean dishes on the drying rack next to the sink and pulled the sink plug. After drying his hands on a hand towel, he wandered back to the living area.

His eyes fell upon a picture hanging above the television and his movements stilled. He stared at it quietly for several minutes before dropping his head and throwing the towel onto the table behind him. Standing before the door to his bedroom, Miles sidestepped so he was lined up with the door to the second largest room in the apartment. The couch behind him made the door kind of hard to open, but by shifting to the side and walking in sideways, he managed to squeeze inside. He tugged the pull string for the only lightbulb hanging down in the middle of the room.

When he’d first moved in, the room had shelves lining all three walls, and he guessed it was most likely a pantry. He’d taken out the shelves from the back and one from the side walls to give him more space to work and had turned it into his evidence room. The peeling gray walls were barely visible beneath the notes, newspaper clippings, reports, and anything else that was even vaguely related to the case at hand. The shelves were filled with folders, books on arson, and other things he thought might be useful.

It was here that he did his true investigative reporting work. Twice in the past, connections he’d put together in this small room had aided the cops in stopping criminals. Here he let his mind run free to put together things in new and different ways. It was what he did best.

Taking out his notepad, he ripped out the new notes and wandered about the room, looking for where they might fit. Once they were all up, he stood still, his eyes snapping from one place to another. He would take in only a few words from one document before his eyes shifted to another sheet of paper. The little tidbits began slipping and sliding through his mind.

"Seven possible arson cases so far in the Homont area, within the span of 5 months”

"Police tight-lipped about possible causes of the fires”

"One survivor accuses a man already cleared by police”

"Council blames recent rash of arsons on dry weather”

"Followed a lead on reports of local pyro, turned up nothing”

"Same fire truck was sent to five of seven of arson cases. Possible FD insider involvement?”

"The girl seemed distraught over police questioning”

"Unidentified man seen in the area at time of fire”

"Anonymous call sends police to scene of fire before residents notice it”

"Three fatalities and seventeen wounded, with no clear connections between victims”

"Dispatch calls made from multiple precincts over Elm Street fire”

"No apparent correlation in the type of buildings that have been targeted”

"Two targeted buildings were owned by Barrion N’ Sons corporation. Coincidence?”

"Locations of arsons seem to cluster around East Lake Plaza, with no discernable pattern”

"Accelerants for one fire identified as jet fuel, according to source inside FD”

Pieces fell into place here and there in his mind, but the full picture still eluded him. He read the last line from his most recent note.

"Mother never told police where her children were in the house”

For a moment he felt the spark. The warmth in the back of his mind that told him the answers were just out of reach. He grasped desperately for them, but an instant later, they were gone. He let out a sigh and collapsed against the wall. When his eyes opened again, he stared down at the notes on the latest fire, the thin paper brushing his left shoulder almost mockingly. Reaching over, he pressed his right index finger onto the paper and muttered. “Here’s my starting line, at last.” He shot the paper a narrow-eyed grin and pulled it off the wall. Slipping it into his pocket, he turned off the lights and headed to bed.

Pope & Sagi:
Thank you for following us this far, and thank you for your patience! We know you've been waiting to get your grubby little fingers in the Ueda’s lives. Your DP must consist of one character, and one decision for said character. The winning vote will then be featured first and largest in the next chapter!

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Joined: 25 Oct 2012
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Location: Penna, having a hot cup of tea

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 11:58 pm    Post subject:  

Woo! Another great chapter, guys! I am really loving how you're linking all the characters. And, as with the other chapters, the writing flows very well.

Tough DP...but I think I'll go with...Catarina. We haven't seen her viewpoint since the prologue, plus with her under suspicion by Miles (he doesn't exactly know its her yet, but I'm sure he'll figure it out) I think it would be refreshing to have her featured again. Aaaand she was kind of left sitting on a bathroom floor with a wicked-ass migraine. Not cool, haha.

Anyway, I think it would be safe to say she would be done her shift by now and is at home, or on her way home. She'll have listened to her voicemail and will know that she has some naughty sons to deal with, haha. Of course before she gets home (if she's not home yet) she could have another premonition, veer of course to the scene of another fire, and *pauses*

Woah, easy there girl...Sorry, I'm just so into it that I can't wait for what happens next and its causing me to think, think, think XD *stuffs errant plot bunnies back in her hat*

I hope the DP wasn't too vague. Super excited for the next chapter! Keep up the great work Pope and Sagi! :3
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Vishal Muralidharan

Joined: 24 Aug 2010
Posts: 864
Location: City Of IF!

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 8:03 am    Post subject:  

Just got to this and I have to say that this is very, very interesting. The characters all feel very real and the plot line is intriguing. As mentioned earlier, the writing also flows seamlessly, and I'm already able to detect multiple possible plot threads form here :P Fantastic work, you guys.

For the DP, I'm going to go with Terry and the boys. Apart from the obvious interest I have in their story, lol, I'm still looking for the connect between their lives and how it ties up into this whole puzzle, if at all they're related. A little more of Catarina would be great as well ;)
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Posts: 1858
Location: Surrounded by many beautiful naked men

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 3:26 pm    Post subject: Thank You!  

Thanks for reading Seraphi-chan, Vishal-kun! I'm glad you are enjoying it. If you could see the cat fights that go into editing these. . . . . . Heheheheh *Waves at Sagi-kun* Anyways, I'm glad it looks good, and thanks for the complements.

I see so far we have Catarina and. . . .*Looks in the Inn* Rowan suggested thus far. Good choices, good choices. However, Vishal-kun, we need an action/happening to go along with you character choice.

Thank you guys again for reading *Bows* and I hope we will not disappoint in up coming chapters!
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Vishal Muralidharan

Joined: 24 Aug 2010
Posts: 864
Location: City Of IF!

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:06 am    Post subject:  

Okay. My character choice will be Jasper, and on his way to a random cookie store, he spots the fire and his teenage hormones push him to try and be a hero.

Another character choice would be Rowan, and he finishes his talk with the principal, tries to hook up with Cindy, whose cousins are the ones caught up in the fire.

Or we could go with Terry, who after the talk with the principal, is shadowed by a mysterious man with a job proposal, the job not exactly being legal.

Three suggestions right there for you ;)
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Posts: 1858
Location: Surrounded by many beautiful naked men

Posted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:54 am    Post subject: Polling  

We are now polling! Thanks for the great suggestions, and I can't wait to see some voting!
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Location: Surrounded by many beautiful naked men

Posted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:52 am    Post subject: Closed Poll  

The Poll is now Closed! We ended up with a tie, so both characters will be featured in this next chapter! Here are the results:

Who and What?

Catarina: On her way home she "Sees" a fire and rushes to the site.

50% [ 1 ]
Jasper: On his way to a cookie store after school he spots a fire and rushes to the scene bent on teenage heroics.

0% [ 0 ]
Rowan: After talking to the principal he heads out to hook up with Cindy whose cousins are trapped in a fire.

0% [ 0 ]
Otori: After the incident in the principal's office he heads home, but a mysterious man follows him for a while looking for the right time to offer a less than above board job proposal.

50% [ 1 ]
Total Votes : 2
Who Voted: Seraphi, Vishal Muralidharan
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Posts: 698
Location: The inn. Probably. Come check!

Posted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:17 am    Post subject:  

Definitely has me on the edge of my seat! In fact, I think I lost count of how many times I was holding my breath. Definitely intrigued by Catarina, and by Miles intense attention to finding the facts.

I'm obviously too late to suggest anything for the DP this time, but I'm definitely going to keep following!

And whatever you guys do for editing, cat fights or not, works, because it's all very fluid, and I didn't pick up any errors.
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Posted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:43 am    Post subject: Yays  

Yays, thanks for reading. I'm glad you enjoy it so much. Hopefully I can nail Sagi-kun down some time this week and get him on the next chapter :P It's great to have a new reader, whoo!
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Posted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:45 pm    Post subject:  

Oh time to write the next chapter! Catarina and Otori it is! :D

Hi Ninjagirl! Thanks for reading!
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Tikanni Corazon

Joined: 25 Oct 2009
Posts: 1286
Location: Running through the plains of my mind, my wolf spirit at my side (but doing so in the UK!).

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 2:49 pm    Post subject:  

Sorry it's taken me so long to catch up with this guys! I've been so busy and too tired to do anything more than veg out on the setee by the time I get home from work. I know that's not much of an excuse, considering that everyone works and some still find the time, but I literally feel too brain-dead to do anything that requires an actual thought process, lol! But again, my apologies.

Back to the story at hand, I'm very impressed! Not that I was expecting it to be anything less, of course, but it's very fresh and different to the other SGs on the site currently and it's good to see the contribution to variety, :)

All of your characters are highly engaging in the right ways. The section in chapter 1 about Otori's day...I was willing him to just go berserk at the interviewers for being such arrogant tossers, lol! The piece was so well written, it just got under my skin and made me feel how I would feel were I in Otori's position. My teeth were thoroughly gritted throughout! XD

I found a couple of things...

Quote: The two of them made short work of the climb, taking two steps at a time and almost like a cork from a pop gun they flew through the door at the top before coming to a halt.

I would have the sentence in red flanked by commas.

Quote: He waited quietly, the light from the full moon shining through the large window gave him a good look at the figure pouring a dark liquid into a pair of tall glasses at his liquor cabinet.

The slender figure was clad in a tight red cocktail dress with a light dusting of reflective flakes running across the chest

This is in slightly close conjunction, especially since it's also used again in the same paragraph.

Quote: Handing a glass of deep red liquid to him, she sips slowly at the other.


Quote: As he listened to the EMTs talk about the boy in the stretcher, Miles kept his eyes scanning over the crowd. Out of the corner of his eye he watched the second ambulance, or ‘bus’, as the EMT called it, tore off towards the hospital. His eyes locked onto a man in blue he recognised and after scribbling down a few notes on the overheard conversation he made his way through the crowd.

Eye/eyes is repeated a few times in this paragraph which is a little jarring.

Quote: He walked the ten steps it took to reach the front doors to his building. Miles punched in the security code for the front door of the slightly run down old building and pulled the glass door open.

I think maybe the first could be changed to something else to help the flow. Entrance maybe?

Quote: Crossing the front entry way, he quickly checked his mail before heading to the elevator. As the chipped yellow double doors slid open, he stepped aside to let an elderly gentleman out before boarding the musty elevator.

This is slightly close in conjunction again, but I also think it represents a lost opportunity for building the atmosphere/picture. The second 'elevator' could be changed to a piece of more descriptive writing, such as:

As the chipped yellow double doors slid open, he stepped aside to let an elderly gentleman out before boarding, the musty scent of the enclosed space hitting his nostrils as he did so.

It's nothing special, I know, but at the same time, it just adds a little something extra to the image that one has in one's head.

Quote: The room was sparsely filled with furniture, mostly ancient in appearance and in muted tones. The TV itself still had legs and rabbit ears. Miles had found no reason to complain. The place came furnished and as long as it had all the amenities, he was content. The kitchen linoleum peeled in places and the wallpaper looked like it would have better suited a nice old lady.

I think that the sentence in red would be better situated before the preceding one, so that the problems with the apartment are all listed together and finishing with the affirmation that Miles doesn't mind as long as he's provided with the basic amenities.

Also, there are a couple of incidences where numbers are used rather than words, which doesn't look quite right to me but I'm not sure if it can be labeled as an actual error. I'd need that confirmed. And there were also a few times when I had to re-read a sentence to work out who was speaking, which could possibly have been due to the dialogue being merged with the rest of the paragraph (I'm all for the 'new line for each new piece of dialogue' type set-up), but I'm not sure.

I'm too late for the dp so I'll not bother with that, but all in all I very much enjoyed your tale so far and look forward to seeing where it's going. I've been trying to think up a possible direction and I'm kinda stumped, lol! I'm sure it'll be well worth the wait in finding out though. ;)

Awesome work guys! Keep it up and I'll try to make my next comment before the suggestion period is ended! :)
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Posted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 10:32 pm    Post subject:  

Chapter 3
Written by: Sagi
Edited by: Sagi & Pope


“You sure?”

“Yes, Mari, I’m sure.”

“Really, really sure?”

Catarina smiled a little. Her friend may be meddlesome, but she was sweet. Everyone at the call centre knew about Catarina’s financial troubles. It was hard to miss, considering how many extra shifts she had been taking on lately. Mari was the only one who had offered to help, even if it meant rearranging her own schedule or giving up some of her own shifts. Of course, that also meant that if Catarina ever needed someone to cover her shift, her sweet friend would get all worried and think that something was wrong. “Thanks, Mari,” she said instead and leaned in to kiss her cheek.

Giving the still-busy call centre a final look over, she walked past a dozen cubicles towards the exit. She nodded at the watchful security guard who still insisted on checking her ID card despite being on the first name basis. The well-built younger man handed back her card and smiled at her. “Not staying for the next shift, Cat?”

She shook her head and rubbed her temples lightly with her index fingers, letting out a small laugh. “No, not tonight. My head’s punishing me.”

The security guard frowned and took half a step towards her, concern clearly showing on his face. He lifted his hand a little, as if wanting to pat her shoulder, before letting it drop awkwardly. “You shouldn’t push yourself too hard, Cat.”

“I’m fine, Daz,” she assured and stepped away from him, pretending to not notice his yearning looks. “I just need to lie down at home for a few hours, and I’ll be good to go. I’ll see you later!” she called out over her shoulder as she exited the building.

When she became first aware of Daz’s transparent affections for her, she wasn’t sure on how to react. Her husband suggested that she should show him pictures of their sons. Apparently, the thought of being a stepfather will scare away most men. Except, it turns out, Daz wasn’t ‘most men’. If anything, it seemed to have made him like her even more. Fortunately, the yearning looks from the security guard became less and less distracting over time, perhaps because she was becoming used to it. Eventually, she decided to just wait it out. One day, Daz would lose interest, surely.

She snapped out of her thoughts and looked up at the cloudless night sky. It had been pretty dry around here lately, which didn’t help the fires. Just before entering the train station, Catarina pulled out her cellphone, intending to let her husband know that she’d definitely be home for dinner, assuming they haven’t already eaten. She knew she didn’t have to call, given that she was only twenty minutes away from home...but she just wanted to hear his voice.

Her phone was turned off.

She had forgotten to turn her phone back on after her latest ‘episode’. Oops. Quickly powering it up, the cheap plastic phone beeped with the text ‘New voice message’ printed across the tiny screen. She couldn’t help but smile a little when she heard Otori’s voice coming through...until she heard the contents of the voice message. She sighed. Rowan. There was no doubt in Catarina’s mind that it was about yet another prank. What was she going to do with him? Grounding him clearly didn’t work, if past behaviour was any indication. What if the school kicked him out? Will they refund the fees that they had paid? They couldn’t afford another private school. She rubbed her temples a little. Maybe she could explain that to Rowan. Her chest tightened at the thought of coming clean about their true financial situation to the boys. No, she can’t. Not yet. They had to protect the boys for as long as they could. Right?

Otori. Talking to him would help. Just as her thumb came to hover over the “Call” button, she froze. Her eyes were no longer focused on the cellphone in her hand. Her breathing sped up a little.

“Are you getting in?”

Forcing her attention on the source of the voice, Catarina found herself looking at a man just inside a stationary train, holding the door open in a gentlemanly manner. It was her train. She was now only fifteen minutes away from her home...

“Oi, let the door close!” spat another man behind him.

The gentleman looked over his shoulder at the rude pompous-looking man sitting with his arms crossed opposite the door. “The lady’s just getting on,” he snapped defensively before returning his attention to the lady. “Sorry about that, ma’am---”

He stopped and blinked. Sticking his head out, he scanned across the platform.

The lady was gone.


“Dinner’s ready!” Otori announced while scooping the cream sauce onto a plate. Two sets of footsteps could be heard rushing down the stairwell in the next room. Picking up both plates, he walked out of the kitchen and laid them out on the table. “Get the cutleries, Rowan.”

“I’m not Rowan,” one twin chirped indignantly.

“He’s Rowan!” said the other at the same time.

Otori looked up at his sons. They were still at it. Why was he surprised? He crossed his arms and gave his boys the ‘I-mean-business’ smile. “Okay, let’s try this again. Both of you, go get the cutleries. Both of you, do the dishes and take out the trash after dinner. Both of you, you’re grounded for a month.”

With matching groans of defeat, the twins dragged themselves to the kitchen and came back with the cutleries. “Is mom joining us tonight?” asked Jasper, holding up a fourth set of cutlery questioningly. Or at least, Otori was reasonably sure he was Jasper.

“I don’t think so,” the father replied distractedly.

A look of uncertainty crossed both the boys’ faces. They were all unusually silent while they ate. Something was wrong that night, and everyone felt it, but no one could put a finger on it. “Dad, are you still mad at us?” asked Rowan timidly.

“What?” Otori looked up for a moment. “No, of course not. Hang on, let me call your mother again,” his voice trailed off as he lifted the cellphone to his ear.

The twins looked at each other, worry clearly etched on their face. They did not say anything for the rest of the dinner.


She could hear a few fire trucks at a distance. The response time was quicker than expected...she should have waited a little longer before making the call. She had to hurry! These heels weren’t particularly high and were designed for comfort, but they were still a pain to run in. After turning one more corner, the burning house was finally in sight! The fire trucks were also visible, speeding towards it from the opposite end of the road. ’Oh god, the fire is spreading so quickly’, she realised in horror. The orange-red blaze covered the entire building, so much that the entire block was lit as if it was still day time on that street!

Quickly ducking out of sight, she watched as two red trucks skidded to a halt in front of the burning house. Almost a dozen firefighters poured out and began setting up the hoses. What was she doing? She had to tell them. Gathering her resolve, Catarina moved towards the scene again.

“Shit, we need another truck---hell, get two more over here!” yelled one of the older firemen. His hair was almost completely gray.

“On it,” replied a firewoman as she picked up the truck radio and began shouting into it.

“We’re ready to go in, sir,” said another firefighter, his voice muffled by the full yellow helmet.

The older fireman pointed at the side entrance at the left corner of the house. “You two, go in from there, check the bedrooms first,” he yelled, sending a pair of fully covered firefighters towards the blaze.

Without thinking, Catarina stepped in front of the running firefighters, forcing them to skid to a halt or risk crashing right into her. “Wait---”

The gray-haired man---the firefighter-in-charge, by her estimation---turned and yelled at her in disbelief. “WOMAN, GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY!”

“No!” she snapped in reply. “Listen, there’s---”

“Zimmerman, get her the fuck out of here!”

One of the firefighters by the truck started towards her. Catarina backed away on instinct, her trembling feet tripping over a hose and she stumbled. The searing heat from the giant flames was making it very difficult for her to think. Everything in her body was telling her to run, that it wasn’t her responsibility, that it wasn’t her problem. Her family was waiting for her at home. God, why did she come here? The firefighter was about to reach her...

“The family’s in the basement!” she yelled suddenly, frantically looking back and forth between the approaching firefighter and the older fireman. “The trapdoor is under a burning pillar in the living room --- you’ll need at least four people to move it out of the way!”

The firefighter stopped his approach and looked at the older man questioningly.

She had to tell them. “There’s an oxygen tank in the boy’s backpack!” She had to tell them what she knew. “The oxygen machine in the bedroom already exploded, but there’s a portable one in the kid’s backpack.”

The older fireman looked at Catarina curiously, and didn’t say anything.

Suddenly realising that everyone was staring, she softened her tone a little. “The trapdoor to the basement is behind the front door, and there’s no one else in the house. They’re all in the basement.”

“How do you know all this?” asked the gray-haired man.

She swallowed nervously. “I saw everything, and called 911.” Conveniently, none of it was a lie. She only left out the part where she wasn’t physically there when she ‘saw’ it. She wasn’t even there when she called 911.

Taking only a split-second to decide, the firefighter-in-charge strode towards Catarina and stopped in front of her. “What else do you know?”


“Go to bed, boys!”

“Yes, dad,” replied one of his sons. He could practically hear their eyeballs rolling up.

To their credit, Otori could also hear the TV being turned off immediately, followed by two pairs of footsteps climbing up the stairwell. What was going on? It wasn’t even five minutes, yet. Usually, it was a lot more difficult to tear the twins away from their video games!

“Oyasumi, Chichiwei,” he heard Jasper wishing him good night. He knew it had to be Jasper because Rowan rarely used Japanese greetings. However, Otori couldn’t shake off the feeling that there was something strange in the tone of his son’s voice. It didn’t have the usual joviality in it.

Brushing it away, he returned the greeting. “Oyasuminasai, Jasper.”

After hearing their bedroom doors closing, he returned his attention to his favourite topic: where was his wife? Pulling out his phone, he dialed her number yet again, tapping his feet impatiently. He let out a silent curse when he reached her voicemail...again. Why wouldn’t she answer? He leaned back frustratedly into his comfortable leather chair. He supposed it was at least a good sign that her phone was turned on, now. Maybe there was a terrible emergency somewhere in the city, involving a lot of dead or dying people. Sometimes, during a crisis, she gets too busy to answer. On the other hand, she also usually calls or texts after the crisis is over. It had been hours, now, way past what was considered normal for them. And the city wasn’t that safe for a woman to walk home alone in the night. Especially for someone who looked like Catarina. Why did she insist on walking home alone? Was she being held up at gunpoint somewhere, by rough, uneducated, and dodgy men of dubious intent?

Otori shook his head. Don’t be silly. It’s probably just a major crisis in the city with lots of dead and dying people.

Grabbing his keys, he left the house and walked towards the train station. He could just visit Catarina at work, because that was what spouses do, right? Maybe he’d bring her a sandwich. Night shifts were rough, and she had to eat to keep her energy up. Then, they could chat about Rowan. Wait. Or not. She didn’t need the extra stress while still at work. That one could wait. They could chat about his job interview, instead. Wait, not that either. Perhaps he should---

Otori spun around suddenly.

He scanned the street behind him wildly, his neck prickling. There was no one behind him. Not a soul. Weird. He could have sworn he heard something. Tentatively turning back around, he continued on towards the train station. Only this time he focused on his surroundings with suspicion. He could have sworn he heard footsteps behind him earlier. Who walks around outside on the street at this time of the night?

He stiffened suddenly and drew a small breath. There, he saw it. A shadow of a person behind him out of the corner of his eyes. He pretended not to notice. Was he being followed? He shook his head. ’Don’t be silly, why would anyone follow a jobless man?’ But, try as he might, he couldn’t put it out of his mind. After a few minutes, he noted how this suspicious person had been following his every turn so far. ’Or, this person could be also heading to the train station.’

Taking a deep breath, Otori pushed the idea that someone was following him out of his mind. As if. He always had an overactive imagination. When he was younger it was more intense, but even at his age it still set him on edge once in a while. Most of the time, they were just that. Imagination. Overly active ones, at that. Poor Rowan must have had inherited that from him. What else could explain his son’s obsession with conspiracy theories? How was it that his son---a natural straight-A student---could believe that the royal British family were in fact reptilian aliens, was beyond Otori. As a responsible father, he had to set a better example, and keep their minds firmly rooted in reality. There were no such things as aliens, no matter how cool it would be. The teachers weren’t out to destroy Rowan, try as he might to encourage that. And Otori certainly wasn’t being---

“Good evening, Mister Ueda.”


Otori spun around quickly and backed away from the creepy-man-who’s-been-following---Otori blinked, his jaw dropping a little. The impression he had of the follower couldn’t had been farther from reality. This person, now in front of him, was a very beautiful woman in a tightly-fitted purple business suit. He raised his eyebrows in confusion. Why would she follow him? How did she know his name? Just before he could open his mouth to voice precisely those questions, she cut in.

“Otori---may I call you Otori? Before you say or do anything, please allow me say something,” she requested with a charming smile, gently brushing away her subtle auburn curls from her slim shoulder.

His mouth still gaping, he nodded almost subconsciously. He detected a Southern drawl in her surprisingly deep, yet very feminine voice.

“My client’s very interested in you, Otori. He finds your story quite...fascinating. Because of that, he’s willing to help you out. Financially, of course, where you need it most,” she continued, her voice a rare combination of crisp, confident and smooth all at the same time. She reached into her purse and produced a silver business card. “Take this. Call me anytime and we’ll talk details,” she winked at him. “Anytime,” she emphasised, before turning around and walked away, her hips swaying from side-to-side almost hypnotically. She stopped temporarily at a street corner, causing Otori to quickly tear his gaze away, pretending that he wasn’t staring at her shapely backside only seconds ago. “Don’t make a girl wait too long, Otori-chan,” she added with a flirtatious giggle and stepped out of sight.

Otori’s mouth was still gaping. What was that about? Flipping over the silver card in his hand, he saw a phone number, and nothing else. It had no company name. No company logo. No personal name. Nothing, except for a phone number.

What was he going to do? On one hand, his family could do with any little bit of extra cash right now. On the other hand...who the hell was that purple-suit woman, who on earth was her client, and how in the heavens did they know about him?!


“How is my son? He needs---he needs oxygen, please!”

“Lie down, mister. Look in that ambulance. See that breathing mask your son is using? It’s oxygen. Your son will be fine.”

Catarina watched the exchange between the family, firefighters, and paramedics for a few more minutes. Everyone made it out alive. The father was the last one to be rescued, and from what she could understand, a firefighter had to knock him out because he refused to let go of his son’s oxygen backpack. The father probably didn’t realise at that time that carrying around a tank of oxygen in a burning house was putting everyone at risk.

A squad car pulled up at the scene, and Catarina instinctively turned away from it. It was time for her to go. Many employees at the 911 call centre were also police officers. Someone might recognise her, and she didn’t want to explain how she had found herself almost ten blocks away from her usual route. Quietly squeezing her way past the paramedics and the firefighters, she slowly and unassumingly made her way to the edge.

“Hey, you, woman!” called a voice behind her. It was the firefighter-in-charge. She could hear some shuffling behind her, as the large grey-haired man tried to follow her. “Wait!”

Ignoring his calls she pressed on. A taxi drove up and stopped right at the edge of the scene. Perfect! She half-ran, half-jogged towards the cab. The passenger door opened and a man in his late twenties stepped out. His hair was a mess --- as if he had just fallen out of bed. He was about to slam the door shut, but stopped when he noticed Catarina’s approach. Smiling, he held the door open instead, and nodded as they briefly made eye contact.

She smiled at him and slipped into the cab, noticing the ID badge hanging around the man’s neck just before he shut the door. She swallowed nervously. “Go, quickly,” she told the taxi driver.

“Where do you want---”

“Just drive!” she insisted.

Giving her a weird look through the rearview mirror, the taxi driver hit the accelerator, pulling them out of the scene.

“Stop her---MILES, STOP THAT CAB!” yelled the older fireman.

The man with the ID badge --- ‘Miles’, the reporter --- turned around in surprise and looked at them as the cab sped away. What just happened?

Dear god, what had she done?

Here it is, we hope you like it! No poll this chapter.

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Posted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 2:58 am    Post subject:  

I have so much fun with this chapter! I hope you all have at least half as much as I had! :D
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Vishal Muralidharan

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Location: City Of IF!

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:52 am    Post subject:  

*whistles* Fantastic! Completely loved it! Can't wait for the next one :D
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Posted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 3:46 am    Post subject: Thanks  

Thanks for reading Vishal-kun, I'm glad you liked it. Who's you fav character thus far?
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Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 3:05 am    Post subject:  

Great series chapters. Your characters aren't round, but their like an octagon. Round characters are boring and as no special role. Octagon means they have a lot of personality just like the plot. I wonder which way should it be going? The plot? I like how each character knows each other, and doesn't have unknown characters who just pop up with no reason why. Keep carrying on you two, Sagit and Pope.
EDIT: Awesome ending scene, it doesn't stop where you don't want it to stop. Many series stops at a area where it starts getting interesting.
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Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 3:06 am    Post subject: Thanks  

Thanks for reading, glad you like it!
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Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:06 am    Post subject: Chapter 4  

Chapter 4


With a sigh Rowan rolled over, kicking is blankets into a more comfortable position. His jaw moved slightly side to side as his mind worked overtime. He knew there was no real reason to start worrying, but he couldn’t seem to silence this little part of him that was afraid for his family.

“Ne, Nii-chan, what’s bothering you?” Jasper said from across the room past the foot of Rowan’s bed.

Rowan froze slightly. “What make you think something’s bothering me.” he muttered, chiding himself for waking his brother.

A chuckle came from Jasper’s direction. “I can hear you grinding from here. You always grind your teeth when you’re worried.”

Rowan sighed once again and sat up slightly so he could see Jasper. The room was rather big, large enough so that two full sized teenage boys could share it comfortably. Rowan’s bed sat along the front wall of the house with the foot of it facing the side of the house. Jasper’s bed was along that wall so all Rowan needed to do was sit up a little and they could see each other clearly.

His twin gazed back at him, his brows furrowed in concern but with a placating smile on his lips. Rowan chewed his lip, muttering an apology but Jasper made no move to respond. From the look in his eyes he seemed to be simply waiting for Rowan to tell him what was wrong. Taking a breath Rowan let it out slowly before whispering. “Do you think Mom’s avoiding Dad?”

Jasper blinked in response. “Well, no, not really, but, I know how you feel. She’s been working a lot lately.”

Rowan nodded rapidly. “Yeah, I know right? I mean, she’s working more so Dad has time to find a job, but lately she isn’t even making it to dinner. That strange, right?” There was a hint of panic in the back of his voice as he spoke. The recountings of the other kids in school’s experiences with marital problems and divorce hummed through his thoughts, and his conspiracy riddled brain made connections between what he’s heard and his parents’ actions. He took a deep breath, preparing to go off on a tangent, pointing these things out to Jasper when movement from his brother’s bed caught his attention.

Jasper pulled back the covers of his bed and scooted back against the wall. He looked up at his brother pointedly and with a small sigh Rowan crawled out of his own bed and over to Jaspers. He could feel his fears calming down as Jasper wrapped them both in the blankets and gave him a hug from behind. He almost laughed as his twin headbutted him in the back of the head. It was an old habit from when Rowan was very young and would not be able to stop going on and on about aliens in the middle of the street or at a party. Jasper would grab his head and bang his forehead against his brother’s. Somehow it always seemed to knock some sense into Rowan and he would feel better.

“I know Oniiwei. I know. The parental units are fine, I’m just, I don’t know.” Rowan muttered, curling up a bit. Jasper gave him one last squeeze before the two of them relaxed and fell into a comfortable sleep.


“None of that now mister Ueda. Now get to work!” The teacher barked at Rowan’s moan of protest. The morning had been pleasant enough. Mom was home for breakfast and it was Jasper’s turn to cook so they had apple pancakes and cheese omelettes. Then at school he had been on the receiving end of many a pat-on-the-back and high-five at the hands of the students who appreciated the gift of music the day before.

Now, however, the fun was over and it was time to suck it up and do that damnable test. Mr. Brown was back and Rowan found himself once again, alone in a study hall with just a teacher and an exam. ’This better be a different test today. The real one this time. No more impossible questions. That was just beyond mean’ Rowan grumbled inwardly. The teacher cued him to start and he flipped the test open.

The answers flowed. From him mind out through his pencil, everything came to him easily. He smiled and just let his hand do its magic. ’Now that’s more like it!’ It wasn’t until about halfway through the test that he noticed something odd. The questions seemed very familiar. In fact, he was positive that he’d seen all these questions the day before. ’What, did I work them out in my mind last night or something? This is weird...’ His hand paused for a moment. Looking up he rested his gaze on Mr. Brown, a middle aged man who was bald on top with fringes along the sides and back of his head. His pale pasty head gleamed from the overhead light and Rowan suppressed a chuckle at the thought that Mr. Brown mush polish his scalp.

Looking back to his test Rowan finished it as quickly as possible before handing it off to Brown and tromping off towards class. ’Why was it so hard yesterday? Yesterday it was like I had mothballs for brains, but today? Did they put something into the air to make me stupid? Or was it her perfume? Or, hey, maybe I'm one of those secret geniuses whose brain works through problems when I'm sleeping? No, that doesn't make any sense. If I was a genius, I'd know I was a genius, because a genius would have already figured it out, dumbass. No, that can't be it…Ah ha! I know what's happening here! That guy who I beat during the last math exam by only a few points wanted his revenge, so he paid off some other student to slip something into my food while I took that bathroom break during lunch when Jasper wasn't looking so even if the drug was discovered, his hands would be clean!’

Rowan paused for a long moment.

’I think I may be onto something...’ His mind continued tumbling over the many possibilities and even as he took his seat beside his brother in the back of the class his mind remained locked on the puzzle that had fallen into his lap.


Miles fell face first into bed, his discarded jacket landing on the floor with a wumph at the same instant his face struck the pillow. A faint throbbing in the back of his head forced out a little groan as the events of the night played through his mind.

After being unable to do anything about the lady who hopped in the taxi behind him, the fire chief had laid into him for about five minutes about not doing his civic duty. In truth, Miles and the chief were not on the best of terms. The young reporter had no idea why, but the best he could figure was that the old guy had problems with the press in general.

Rolling to his side, Miles pulled his hand forward. Clenched in his palm was his note pad. His eyes moved over the notes, his teeth coming out to chew his bottom lip. When the old firefighter’s seemingly endless reaming had finally come to a stop, Miles walked through the crowd, taking down a few notes from the onlookers. One particularly tall woman seemed rather drunk and had tried to hit on Miles. He had moved away quickly and politely, pretending that one of the firemen wanted him.

As he approached the police line, he heard something that made him slow. In an almost stalker fashion, he moved right up behind a wider gentleman and strained his ears to hear what the two firemen were discussing.

“Damn Cor, I don't know what that chick wus tokin' on, but she wus outta her mind! All jumpin' out in front of us like that when we gots a job to do, coulda got her dumb ass killed! S'like she had herself a death wish or somethin',” said a low baritone voice from under a fire mask.

A butch female voice replied from beneath another. “Oh c’mon, man! Without her advice, we’d have lost half the family! Hell, maybe even the whole family and half the damn squad if she didn’t tell us about that second tank! I can’t believe we had to knock ‘daddy’ out just to get that friggin’ tank away.”

The two firefighters were called away at that point.

Back in the present, Miles rolled slowly to his other side, looking over the conversation in his notebook again. He made the connection between the woman they spoke of, and the woman rushing off in the cab fairly quickly. His brows furrowed. His first thought was she was a friend of the family and knew some details vital to the fighters, but as his mind rolled over the rant from the chief upon his arrival, a small prickle started up in the back of his neck. ’If she was a friend of the family, why didn’t she stick around? She could have rushed to the hospital I suppose, but that wouldn’t make sense given his reaction. He wouldn’t have laid into me like that if he knew that the police would simply talk to her later’

With a sigh he rolled to his back, dropping his notebook atop his discarded jacket. His eyes drifted closed as he tried once again to recall her face. His sleep-muddled mind made the task difficult, and the only image that passed through his mind as he drifted off was the light from the fire reflecting off her wild red hair.


With a smile, Alessandro re-filled his sister’s glass as she tried to wave him off. “No more, no more. I may not be driving, but I do have work after this!” she said with a giggle. He shrugged, putting the bottle down after filling her glass.

“You are no lightweight Catarina, you’ll be fine. It’s not like they test you for such things? I mean, your job doesn’t require that much thought, as I understand,” he replied. Sipping a bit of the lush liquid from his own champagne glass, he waved for one of his maids to take their empty plates. As the dishware was being carried off, Alessandro examined his sister.

The pale in her cheeks was a bit more visible that it had been last week at their weekly lunch together, and he could see that she didn’t sleep well the night before by the barely concealed circles under her eyes. He leaned forward, reaching across the table, palm up. She gazed back at him and with a sigh, places her hand inside his.

“You know I am here for you Catarina. You need only ask and I will help you in any way I can.” His voice was soothing, the same voice he had used when she was younger while he tried to coax something out of her. With a smirk, she squeezed his hand and sat back.

“It’s alright, Sandro. It’s nothing I can’t handle.” She smiled warmly at him, forcing a matching one to appear on his lips. “I’m dealing. I like my job, I have brilliant, albeit mischievous children, and a wonderful husband.” She looked away as Alessandro gave out a little grunt of disagreement. “Besides, I’ve dealt with it fine up to now, and it’s not like there’s a guide for something like this...”

Alessandro’s eyebrow twitched. ’No guide for what? There are guides all about raising families, having kids, having marital issues, losing an income...’ His lips parted slightly, wanting to inquire about her meaning when suddenly her phone rang. She muttered an apology about forgetting to turn it off and answered it. His stomach dropped as a strained look came across her face. His mouth opened again to speak, but he stopped as she snapped the phone shut.

“I’m sorry Sandro, I have to get going. The meal was lovely, please give my compliments to your chef.” Her words were a little fast, her voice higher than usual. He stood to hug her and had just enough time to plant a kiss on her forehead before she hurried out of the room. He simply stood there, looking after her, for several minutes before he himself departed, a determined look on his face.

There we go, long time in coming, but we finally hashed out the last little details! I'll let you know if this is DP chapter later once I catch Sagi-kun and we figure it out :P Thanks for reading, and I hope you like the latest chapter of The Uedas!

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Posted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:15 am    Post subject:  

Hey all! XD

One more chapter before DP. ;)
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Location: Penna, having a hot cup of tea

Posted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:29 pm    Post subject:  

Omgomgomg, this is coming along great! You guys are doing an awesome job of balancing the story between each of the characters – one never seems to hold more importance than the other. (They’re perfectly intertwined, all these strings of fate, hehe.) And I have so many theories about what could happen and who could know what/whom that I believe my mind might explode XD

Can’t wait for the next chapter (and hopefully a DP)! Keep up the awesome work you two! :3
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Posted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:44 pm    Post subject: Thanks  

Yays, a comment. Thanks for reading Seraphi-chan. I'm glad you like it thus far :P
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Posted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:38 pm    Post subject:  

OK. Just started reading and haven't caught up yet, but so far I really like the brothers. They have a great dynamic and their closeness really comes through.
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Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 2:56 pm    Post subject:  

Thank you both for reading!! Omg I'm so happy right now. I'll get the new chapter up asap!! XD
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