Chapter 5: Do You Remember Tears?

"...Buy me a hotdog!"

Maya's eyes bugged out. A HOTDOG? How stupid!

The guy smiled and closed his eyes, obviously reminiscing some memory that Maya didn't know about. "When I was a child, whenever my mother and I had time, she would take me into the kingdom. They ALWAYS had hotdogs there, and every now and then I'd get some for free!" He opened his eyes and then said, "It's a pity those days are over. I miss them more than anything I can get now."

"It must have been fun then," said Maya, interested.

The person smiled a bit. "It was. But they ended so abruptly," he said, half to himself. For a moment, his eyes had a far-off look that seemed familiar to Maya for a moment. "How about you?" he said, coming back to reality.

"I just... can't remember," Maya replied in a very soft voice, not revealing a lot. "Well, it's over, too. A new beginning, I guess." She shrugged. "The past is the past."

"Que sera, sera," they said together. They stared at each other, and then cracked up. The man was amazed that the girl knew such an old saying, and Maya was certainly surprised that someone actually said it the same way and same time she did. To passerby they may have looked like old friends.

Suddenly, the old lady who had commented on her looks earlier tapped Maya's shoulder. "Excuse me, miss, but the tournament will be starting. Do you wish to practice...?"

"Oh." He inclined his head, like a bow. "You should practice, I suppose. Good luck," he said, before heading away to the stands.

"Hey, hang on a moment!" Maya called after him. "You were speaking to me, but I didn't even get your name!"

"That's right," he said, turning his head to face her, but not in the owlish way; he had turned his upper body partly to look back. "I'm Kazuki. And you are?"

Maya started; the name was a bit familiar to her. "Kazuki? Well, I'm Maya," she said.

"Good luck then, Maya," Kazuki said, and the mysterious smile was on his face again, as if he were relishing a private joke she didn't get. But before she could even say another word, he was swallowed up in the crowd, and Maya was unmistakably and irrevocably lost.

***

It wasn't long before Kazuki remembered who Maya was. As he dusted off his long cloak, a memory came back to him. A horrible memory, but a memory nonetheless. Nothing would change that.

He was the one who was selfish enough, too self-centered to even notice the pain she went through then. It was a sad feeling, to remember something you longed to forget.

It had been already thirteen years since then. He wondered if she remembered.

Anything at all.

***

"When is it going to start?" asked Mikaru aloud, scanning the crowd for her friend. A bead of sweat trickled down her back, and she felt grossed out. She was actually PERSPIRING!

'Can I come out? PLEASE?!' Satsuki howled from inside the necklace. 'Come on, Mikaru, give me some fresh air!'

Suddenly, there was a flash of light, and out came Satsuki. He let out a long sigh and said, "That's better!" He grinned and said, "I love archery competitions!"

'You do?' asked Mikaru, interested in Satsuki for the first time in a while. 'That's cool.'

"Now, I just want to know," he murmured, "Where on earth did Maya go?"

'She probably got lost,' said Mikaru, suddenly feeling guilty. 'What if she gets into trouble? It'll be all my fault...'

"It won't," Satsuki said to her confidently. "Calm down. It's just a question. Man," he said under his breath, "she is so hard to keep on a leash..."

'What?'

"Nothing. I didn't mean you. I meant Maya."

'Hmph. Yeah. Whatever.'

Satsuki chuckled and opened his mouth to say something, but then the announcer's voice drowned out his words.

"HELLO, EVERYONE, AND WELCOME, WELCOME TO SUNSHINE KINGDOM'S ARCHERY COMPETITION! FOR YOUNG ONES AND YOUNG ONCE [A/N: Typical Kurumi humor] LET ME TELL YOU: WE ARE PROUD TO PRESENT TO YOU OUR CONTESTANTS!"

"Yeah!" said Satsuki enthusiastically.

'Yey,' thought Mikaru in a bored tone. As much as she liked archery competitions, they proved boring when she wasn't involved.

Soon twelve contestants filed out, some blowing kisses to the crowd, other just staring at the ground blankly. Even though they looked different from one another, there was one thing they were united in.

Each contestant had an aura of confidence and a little bit of uneasiness as they stood in the center, being introduced. Satsuki seemed envious of the attention they received, as he liked being center-stage.

Suddenly there was a scuffle near the entrance. A blonde-haired head peeked out and then darted back in. After a few moments, a black-cloaked girl was being pulled into the arena.

"I have to use the bathroom! I really do! I mean it! Ow, look, there's a bathroom over THERE! Let me go! I really have to use it!"

"Stop struggling, girl!" cried a muscled man, who had a hard time holding her down. "Come on, Bill, hold her still!"

Mikaru and Satsuki (along with the rest of the crowd) watched the person. 'You know, that person seems familiar,' said Mikaru, giggling.

"Yeah," Satsuki agreed. "Hey, hang on-- that's MAYA!"

'Is this the same ditzy Maya we're talking about?' Mikaru asked.

Satsuki nodded.

Finally, Maya stood exhausted from the fight, at the end of the line of contestants. A tall person next to her patted her head and laughed in a friendly manner. Maya, no doubt, was the youngest person in the competition.

***

Kazuki laughed as he patted Maya's head. "I guess you were right when you said you don't remember anything," he said. "You probably forgot you were even joining!"

"I just didn't know the crowd was that big," she confessed, her face blushing red from extreme embarrassment. "So stop teasing me, okay?!"

"Yeah, all right," Kazuki said, pleased at her reaction. His eyes softened for a moment, and he went softly, "I really miss those days..."

"What?" Maya asked, already fixing up her equipment.

"Nothing."

'Oh, yeah,' she thought. Suddenly she had a feeling that she was being watched, and she turned around.

'It was no one,' she said to herself, shaking off the feeling. She, of course, had no idea it was Mikaru and Satsuki's gazes that were making her feel queasy.