Next chapter!! I hope you like it, and please, please, please review!! I've never finished a story, and reviews would help a lot.

Oh, and very, very, very special thanks to my one and only reviewer, Talimkun. ^.^ Motivation is difficult to maintain sometimes, and reviewing really helps.

Anyway, though I have but one reviewer, I am very grateful to her. Be sure to check out her fan fic, Tainted Fate. Ok, now, on to the story!

The Shy American

Chapter 2

Michael Collins

The woman ran clumsily down the hall in her normal, white night gown, panic racing through her nerves.

The place was disgusting, the walls covered in grime, as were the floors and ceilings, and it smelled like old men, sweat, and coal.

She was running from something, but she wasn't sure what.

She drifted over to a furnace, her back to it, and was entirely oblivious to the growing form behind her. It loomed overhead, large, clawed hands raising, just waiting to attack….

She screamed.

Michael laughed, and tossed another piece of popcorn into his mouth. Ah, Nightmare on Elm Street, he loved that movie, especially the part where Johnny Depp was sucked down through a bed.

Thomas Ingram, his best friend, elbowed him in the side, and grinned. He snatched a handful of Michael's popcorn and shoved it into his own mouth, flicking his eyes back over to the screen.

The Loews Theater in Plainville was sort of far away from his home in Hartford, but it was his favorite one. Sometimes they ran specials where they played old movies, ranging from any time frame between the 1950's to the 1980's, and by paying a little extra money, he saw every one.

"Hey, Mike." Thomas elbowed his friend again to catch his attention.

Mike glanced at him, "Yeah?"

"You ask out Tiff yet?"

Mike blushed, keeping focused on the movie, and munching on more popcorn.

"Err, ask me later, and pay attention to the movie."

His friend glared, "You didn't, huh?" and from Mike's unresponsiveness, he shook his head, "Wimp."

Mike grinned helplessly, "Aw, c'mon, Tom! It's harder than it looks!"

"Yeah, I know, I've done it, but you've tried about six times."

"So?"

"So do it already!"

Someone behind him threw an M&M at Tom's head, shushing him quickly.

He lowered his voice, and continued, "Look, I know you turn into a pussy around girls - …well, around anyone new you meet…but you have to move on sometime, man. Life is too short to waste away without a woman." He grinned with finality, then finally looked back to the movie.

Mike said nothing.

He knew Tom was right, but for some reason, he just couldn't do it. He had tried that very day, but before he even got a word out, he had to run to the bathroom and puke. He was just too nervous.

Everyone often thought it was so strange that Tom – who wasn't the best looking boy alive – never showed a hint of shy or nervousness, and from his bold advances and sweet charm, he had many girlfriends.

Not that Mike was without relationships, he had also had many girlfriends. It was just that he was considered very, very good looking, but was so shy and nervous (especially around girls) that usually he was asked out first, not vise versa.

Mike and Tom were also best friends, they weren't as opposite as Aiko and Kuzuha.

Though they were different in rank of looks and boldness, they had very similar personalities.

They both liked basketball, hockey, and baseball, being pretty good at the sports, and even indulged in soccer once and a while. They had similar tastes in girls and were determined to stay respectable towards women, for they knew from watching other people's mistakes that playing head games was never the best option.

Speaking of which….

"Hey, you going to the game Saturday?" Mike whispered over to the other boy.

"Yep, you?"

"Hell yeah." He replied back, grinning with enthusiasm. "Want to come over after the movie to practice? I'll kick your ass, one on one."

Tom flared instantly; he never could back down from a challenge. "You're on!"

"You ready for this?!" Mike yelled, grinning as he maneuvered around on his rollerblades, flicking the hockey stick just right, before swirling around and rocketing the puck towards the goal.

"Oh, shit!" Tom cursed as he failed to block, and the puck whizzed past him and scored.

Mike smirked, waving his hockey stick around and skidding to a stop. "One more round?"

"One more round!" Tom agreed, glaring at his rival and readying himself.

The other boy laughed.

They were also matched in their athletic talent. While both were very, very good in the action, they were best only in offense. Defense was their weak point, and so they still practiced both, remaining sharp in the former and improving in the latter. They were a team all their own, just them two, as they always had been in everything.

Mike took another shot, this time blocked just barely by his friend, and starting darting around, concentrating for Tom's weak spot.

"Break?"

They stopped as a voice interrupted him, and turned to the source, to see Mike's father standing in the doorway of their house.

He smiled, holding up two cans of Pepsi's, and the boys eagerly agreed, moving to sit with him on the outside deck.

"You guys are getting pretty good, the more I watch, the more I want to hesitate to ever practice with Mike again. He'd cream me." Akomoto Keitaro noted to the boys, leaning back against the rail with a large grin.

Mike beamed with pride. "Heh, one of these days."

Tom nodded and smiled in agreement, sipping at his soda.

Keitaro's English had improved greatly since he had moved to America. He still had a bit of an accent, but he never needed to really hesitate or think about the correct expressions anymore, and it was a rare occasion that he made a mistake.

Though he was Mike's birth father, the boy looked nothing like the Japanese man, and took all his looks from his mother (much to Keitaro's liking).

Like his mother, Mike had jet black hair and dark blue eyes, with the same bone structure and smile. His hair was kept short, and he gelled it and kept it spiked in different directions. It was a common hair cut, but he did it mostly because it matched anime. He was also fairly tall, unlike both of his parents, and was overall, a very healthy, normal kid.

Tom nudged Keitaro in his shoulder with his fist, grinning, "Hey, what about me?"

The man smirked, "Naah, I can still beat you."

He and Mike laughed at Tom's sheepish smirk.

Then there was Tom.

Tom wasn't one of the handsome boys. He had dirty blonde hair, kept a few inches long in a normal, split-in-the-middle hair cut with bangs and swamp green eyes. He had some acne scars, while Mike's complexion was clear, and his nose was a bit pointed.

He was an average boy, not handsome, not ugly, and seemed rather dull, but made up for it with his dazzling personality.

"Hey, Mike, we need to take a walk."

Mike paused, and looked at his friend questioningly, but nodded. His father knew this to be a sign that they needed to be alone, so he excused himself and went inside.

The dark haired boy removed his hockey equipment, sipping at his Pepsi as Tom followed. When both were done, they tossed the equipment aside, grabbed their cans, and started down the street silently.

They walked in silence for a bit, both sipping sometimes, and staring thoughtfully at the graveled pavement, kicking rocks around as they made their way down the street.

"So what's up?"

"I'm going to ask her out."

"Oh." That was all Mike needed to know. He knew who 'her' was. Tiffany Pruitt, his long time crush. He gulped down some Pepsi.

"I'm sorry, man, but…you've been trying to for a while now, and you know I like her. If you don't do it soon, I'm asking her to Ryan's party next weekend."

"So I'm on a time limit now?" Dark blue eyes shot the boy a glare.

Tom put up his hands defensively, "No, no! That's not what I meant, dude, I didn't mean it like that."

Mike nodded quietly, "I know."

The blonde haired boy sighed, "Look, I know you really like her, but…so do I, and if you're going to sit and rot, I'm going for it."

His friend nodded again.

"Hey, I know you're a big pussy when it comes to this crap." Tom grinned, trying to throw in some humor. "C'mon, you know how it goes."

Mike smiled softly, turning to his friend and stopping. "Love together, live together, kill together, die together, friends for life." He recited, holding out his hand, smiling.

The blonde boy stopped, too, grinning, and palmed his hand. The back of their hands met, then they grabbed each other's wrists in a sort of hand shake.

"Friends?"

"Friends." Mike agreed, and they headed back to the house on a happier note.

"You're losing." Mike said simply as he charged, swinging the Kendo stick swiftly at his friend.

Tom blocked but recoiled slightly, shifting back a bit, "No way! Stay still! Come on, Mike!"

"Yeah, you are. And you're just too slow." The dark haired boy grinned, effortlessly dodging an advance by Tom and swinging towards his arm.

"You're going to lose, just give it up."

Barely blocking, the boy quickly jabbed at Mike, but he wasn't there, "No! Come back here!"

"It's over." He heard a voice behind him declare, and he hardly had time to turn before Mike's Kendo stick was next to his neck.

"Shit, not again!" Tom cursed to his friend, who stood behind him.

Mike just laughed.

Another way that they were so alike was that they were both extremely interested in Japanese culture. Mike grew into it from his father, and adored it, and after a while it sort of grew on Tom. Keitaro had taken Kendo in school, and had passed his talent on to Mike, though his son was much better than he ever was.

Katherine Collins, his mother, watched them with a smile on her face.

She loved that he was so proud of his heritage, and had actually feared that he would have grown to hate it in such a prejudice and mocking country. It was the reason she had had him take on her last name, so he wouldn't have to live with a Japanese one. But Mike had proved her wrong. In fact, one day, he had decided that when he married, he would take the name his father had meant for him: Akomoto Kisho.

Kisho, Keitaro had said, meant 'one who knows his own mind'. He had chosen that because he believed that Mike had found himself at a young age. He was one of those rare people who knew themselves at birth, and had never been veiled from that privilege.

Katherine watched her son, her only child, whom she loved, blossom into a young man that would one day live a prosperous life. He didn't look Japanese, he didn't sound Japanese, but she knew his heart wasn't American.

And she knew she couldn't keep him here forever, and that one day, his heart would lead him to Japan. He'd leave her, to be free among the country in his heart, and she would just be another lone woman with a foreign husband.

But she knew, that no matter what he did, or where he went, or how Japanese he felt, he kept a space inside himself for her, a small corner that nothing could touch, or go near. She knew he'd always love her, despite the obstacles or hardships that approached him.

She smiled quietly, and left him to his real culture.

End of that chapter. So what'd you think? ^.^ PLEASE R/R!!!