~Paradise for the Fragile Heart

author: okenakab

publish date: June 30, 2004

disclaimer: all similarities with situations and people in real life are purely coincidental. general storyline and characters belong to yours truly.

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AN: *nervous, nervous* Eeto. . .XD Hello everyone! This is my second story here (first one is Average Girl). I guess I'll keep this as a side story kind of thing even though it's not related to A.G. It's something I came up with after reading too much in the Chinese manga store. I hope you enjoy, and don't forget to R&R! XD

Oh, and about the title. . .geh. I guess you can tell I can't title for beans. XD Whatever idea you got from reading the title, I recommend you discard it because it probably doesn't fit the story. (Sorry about that XD)

They should change the saying to "Don't judge a book by its title" . . . =_=

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chapter one: storm blue - first contact

Y.U.M.I.

~*~*~*~

"It's HER, over there!"

"What? That's her? I thought she would be uglier than that!"

"That's why it's such a pity!"

"Yeah, she's a hottie, but the only guys she likes are ga-!"

I turned around and shot a dirty glare at the huddle of guys who had been speaking about me, half-hiding behind a wall. They let out a startled "Eep!" and scattered.

I faced forward again and sighed. "What's wrong, Yu-chan?" asked Miwabuki Shuro. One of my best friends, he was tall but slender, with very light brown hair that fell into his eyes and looked incredibly silky. His eyes were a rich, deep brown hue, always filled with good humor and energy. He was very pale and a bit on the girly side.

"Nothing, Shu-kun," I muttered resignedly. "Just annoying guys again."

Shu sulked, his mouth puckering into a pout. "Two things. First of all, 'Shu-chan' would be nice, you know! I'm not the one you should call '-kun', Aki is! He's much more masculine than I am." I rolled my eyes as Shuro paused dramatically and sighed. He remained in this mode for a while, so I had to clear my throat.

"A-ah! Yes, the second thing. Just ignore those guys, Yu-chan. They're just too narrow-minded, is all."

"That's not the problem-" I began, but the "Aki-kun" we'd been speaking about - that is, Shizuhara Aki - pounced on Shu from behind.

"HE-E-EY, GUYS!" he said cheerily, his long black bangs waving wildly in Shu's face. Aki's bangs were long but the rest of his hair was short. His matching black eyes were glinting mischieviously, and I had suddenly had a feeling he was going to do something wicked.

"Aki-kun, get off me!" demanded Shu, but before he could protest any further, Aki brushed Shu's bangs out of his face and gave him a long, passionate kiss on the lips.

I groaned. I just KNEW it.

A crowd of gawkers began to gather, and I smacked a hand to my forehead.

"God, you two, not so early in the mornin', sheesh! Or at least not in public! You realize it's disturbing."

Predictably, the two continued on with their love fest, and I sighed.

That's right. My two best friends, Shu and Aki, are a gay couple.

Oh, yeah. Haven't introduced myself. Chiharu Yumi, 16 years old, a junior in high school. Nice to meet you.

. . .yeah, right. Like anyone's listening. You're all probably too busy watching the two guys exchange spit. Bleah.

I waited for a gaggle of students to stampede by before I gingerly picked my way through the slowly thinning crowd to my first class, which I (rather unfortunately) shared with both Shu and Aki. I flattened myself against the wall, avoiding contact with anyone. Craning my neck to look back at the public display of affection, I didn't catch Shu or Aki, so I turned and made for the classroom door instead - but not quickly enough.

*BAM!*

And I was sitting in a rather undignified position on the floor, with one leg straight in front of me and the other bent underneath me.

"Damn, who the hell was that?" I muttered, rubbing my head.

"Are you all right?" said a soft voice.

Well, whaddya know. I just happened to bump into the class president, Minamo Sai. He was smiling down at me, and I swore I heard a couple of girls behind me swoon. Class pres, head of the science club, track team captain, all-around nice guy and most popular guy in school.

Like I give a damn. Doesn't he have eyes?!

"Watch where you're goin', dork. Wouldn't want to kill off any of your precious brain cells, now," I snarled.

He blinked, surprised, then held out his hand. "I'm sorry, let me help you up."

"That's fine, you can leave me alone."

"But-" he protested, and he reached for my arm.

"DON'T TOUCH ME!" I shrieked, and slapped his hand away.

Minamo's dark blue eyes widened. I suddenly realized that everyone in the hall was staring at the two of us.

"Shit!" I cursed under my breath, and got up. The awkward silence was thankfully broken by -

"Yu-chan!" called Aki, running over. "What's wrong?" Shu was a little distance behind him.

"Nothing," I murmured, turning away. "I'm going to class."

~+~+~

"Okay, class. We'll now have Minamo Sai-kun speak," said Shiba-sensei. I looked up, frowning, as Minamo walked to the front of the class while his classmates (especially the females) clapped heartily.

"Thank you," he said smiling. I rolled my eyes. Does this guy have a brain? The only expression he has is smiling. Every time I see him, he's smiling to this person, to that person, about this subject and that, etc., etc.

He brushed his short black hair back with one hand and shuffled his papers. I stifled a yawn and put my head down. Might as well sleep through this part. . .

". . .-aru Yumi-san?"

"Chiharu Yumi-san?"

My eyes snapped open but I kept my head down.

"The hell do you want?"

"I'd like to hear if you have any suggestions."

I shifted my head so he could hear me speak more clearly.

"I suggest that you make your speeches even longer and fuller of boring information. That way I can catch up on more sleep." Titters went around the class, but Minamo calmly replied, "Thank you."

"Hmph," I muttered, turning my head away and going back to sleep.

But before I got any more rest, I heard an obnoxious giggle and a female voice, shrill and utterly annoying, said pompously, "Shiba-sensei, I'd like to take my 'friend' Yumi-chan to the nurse's since she seems, like, SO tired."

I sighed. Here comes a pathetic attempt to "discipline" me from the Queen of all Pink and Fluffy-Brained Idiots, Akayuki Maya.

I propped my head up and saw Shiba-sensei looking worriedly at me. She was one of the few teachers who were genuinely caring, and she knew that I wasn't the type of person to be friends with dear Maya.

Ah, well. I'll just play along with it to see what it is this time. I smiled at the sensei, then stood up dramatically. "O-oh! Indeed, Maya-chan, my head is SO dizzy. Please take me to the nurse. I leave my health in YOUR responsible and capable hands."

Maya grinned like the dolt she was. "Yes, dear Yumi-chan. This way." I followed her out the door and down a hallway that I knew wasn't where the nurse was located. My suspicions were confirmed when she shoved me into a room and closed the door.

"O-ho-ho-ho! Yumi-CHAN, you are really stupid, you know. Now you'll pay for being so rude to Sai-kun." As she made her touching speech, I noticed five or so males standing in the shadows, waiting for a command.

" You should really just stay away from Sai-kun. After all, I thought you liked gay guys! And Sai-kun is most definitely straight."

Argh. Why the hell does everything lead back to that smiling idiot?

"Say, Maya," I murmured in a low voice. "Did Minamo ask you to do this?"

"O-ho-ho! Of course not! He's much too gentlemanly for the likes of you, so it's up to us, his dedicated classmates and followers, to rid this school of dirt like you!"

I stretched. That's good. So I don't have to take him out, as it seems like he isn't a total scumbag.

I closed my eyes, mentally taking in my surroundings. There was a guy stationed in every corner of the room, plus one behind me and one next to Maya, who was standing in front of the only exit. There were no windows, but there WAS something behind me.

Slowly, so as to not attract Maya's attention, I reached my hand out and touched metal. It was a chair. I moved the chair slightly and heard rolling sounds. I smiled to myself. It was a chair with wheels.

This was a good time to take out the trash.

I opened my eyes and smirked at Maya. "So, these guys," I said airily, waving my hand in the general direction of the henchmen, "did you hire 'em or lure 'em here with the promise of having sex with you?"

Her eyes bulged out in anger, and her perfect complexion turned splotchy red. "GET HER!" she shrieked.

I grabbed the chair and rammed backwards, hitting the thug who had been behind me. He slammed into the wall and stopped moving.

The two idiots in the back corners of the room ran stupidly towards me. I put the chair down and stood in front of it. As they came closer, each pulled back a fist, aiming to pummel me. I waited until they were about 2 feet away - then sat down in the chair and pushed back, rolling away. Unable to stop, they punched each other out and collapsed to the floor, sending puffs of dust into the air.

I swiveled around in the chair and crossed my legs.

"That all?" I asked. "That wasn't even a morning exercise."

Maya looked ready to rip her hair out in frustration. "You IDIOTS! GET HER! BEAT HER! Just- just DO SOMETHING!!" The three remaining gorillas lumbered towards me as I remained sitting in the chair. I tensed myself then pushed off against the ground, hurtling towards the Three Stooges. Right before impact, I jumped off, and the chair crashed into the middle stooge, knocking him onto Maya, who lay trapped under him, screaming.

The two remaining lackeys, unsure of what to do, stared at Maya, at each other, then at Maya again.

I dusted myself off. "Trash cleaning done!" I announced.

I walked over to Maya, who was still screaming. "Oh, do shut up. I bet even Minamo's gone deaf by now." She stopped, but then an evil grin spread across her powdered face. "What are you so happy ab-umf!" A pair of hands had grabbed my mouth and waist.

Everything around me froze, and I heard my own childish voice screaming in my head.

*"NO, Daddy, DON'T!!"*

Something inside of me broke down, releasing a torrent of memories and pain.

"NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!"

I dug my nails into the idiot's arms - moronic as he was, he'd forgotten to pin my arms down. He howled and let me go, and I kicked him.

A blind fury had taken over my senses, and I continued to kick him after he had stopped struggling.

"Don't - you - ever - touch - me! EVER! DON'T - TOUCH - ME!!" I yelled savagely. I gave him a final kick and he rolled over, unconscious.

Ignoring the sole surviving male, who was cowering on the floor, I turned to Maya, who was now staring at me with a new emotion in her eyes - fear.

"It's your fault. Bitch." I made to slap her, but the door slammed open, and Aki and Shu, along with a crowd of students, stood in the doorway. I raised my hand anyway, but in a flash Aki and Shu were restraining me.

"LET GO! LET GO OF ME! DON'T TOUCH ME!!" I struggled wildly, then suddenly went limp. I felt like I had been drained of all my energy. I slipped out of their grasp and slumped to floor, hugging my knees. I began to sob, as flashes of my infuriated father's face raced through my mind and my left arm throbbed painfully.

"Yu-chan. . ." said Shu sadly, but I couldn't stop crying.

Why do I keep remembering these things?

Why does my father's face keep haunting me?

I don't live with my real parents. My mother died giving birth to a baby girl - my little sister. But Erika, as we named her, was frail and unhealthy, and she died after a month.

My father was devastated. He had lost the love of his life and a child all in such a short time. All he had left was me. All we had was each other.

But it began to drive him crazy. I looked like a younger version of mom, with long straight black hair and dark brown eyes. My high cheekbones were especially characteristic of her, and he couldn't bear to be reminded of her anymore.

*CRASH!*

I remembered the first time.

He had thrown a china plate at me.

I remember the blood trickling down my face.

He yelled at me, cursed me, and held me down, beating me over and over again.

I remember crying and screaming in pain, my tears mingled with blood and dirt, my head throbbing with the agony and suffering.

"NO, Daddy, DON'T!!"

Why do I remember these things?

I remember watching as father was taken to the asylum, and the bright lights and piercing siren of the ambulance that took him.

He smiled crazily at me as he was led to the vehicle.

And despite the situation, I smiled back. I wondered if we were both insane.

But maybe, maybe. . .this entire world is.

That was the last time I ever saw him.

I was taken in by a distant aunt and uncle. They already had grown children. They were old enough to be my grandparents. They didn't know how to care for a nine year-old abused girl.

They never smiled at me. They never hugged me. They were afraid that if they showed any emotion towards me, I would shrink away, fearful of being abused again.

But what I wanted - what I needed - was someone to love me. I thought that if only someone would love me, I could get some sense of normalcy back in my life.

If only someone would love me. . .

I was isolated instead. And alone, in my room, I began building walls around myself. My heart was overgrown with thorns. No flowers bloomed in my personal paradise.

Because for me, there was no such place.

I thought that it would be the best way to live. To distance myself from others. So I would never be hurt again.

But, that was the only way I knew how to live.

I remember entering class in fourth grade and sitting in the corner by myself, until Aki and Shu came up to me and talked to me. They didn't mind that I hardly replied, or that I never looked at them. They seemed to understand that I had a difficult time communicating to others. And they never questioned why I didn't touch my guardians, or why I seemed to avoid contact with others.

They were so carefree and likeable that I wondered why no one else played with them. Aki and Shu were vibrant and energetic, but they were shunned by all others because they weren't normal, and they didn't pay any attention to other girls.

I, on the other hand, envied them a little. Aki and Shu might not have been accepted by others, but they had each other. All they ever need was each other.

I had no one but myself. I could only retreat to the depths of seclusion, I could only hide in the thorn cage of my heart.

~+~+~+~

I awoke in an unfamiliar room, smelling slightly of antiseptic and bandages. As my vision cleared, so did my memories -

I clamped my hands over my ears to block out the screams, but it was impossible.

How do you block out screams that come from inside yourself?

How do you block out the screams of your heart?

"Are you okay?"

Someone was there. Someone with a soft voice. I looked up and found myself staring into stormy blue eyes.

Eyes which shone like a sword to cut through the thorns.

~*~*~*~

s.a.i.

~*~*~*~

I walked into the nurse's after the student council meeting. The first thing I noticed was the girl sleeping in the bed. She was the odd girl I'd bumped into earlier in the morning.

"Oh, Minamo-kun," said the nurse. I turned and smiled. "Here's your medicine." She handed me a brown paper bag.

"Thanks, Miss," I said, smiling again, and she turned away, blushing.

I opened the bag and took out the bottle, which was full of pills for my high blood sugar. I know it sounds weird, but I have really high levels of sugar in my blood, so I'm not supposed to eat anything that's too sweet, and I also have to take pills to lower my blood sugar.

My father's family also has a history of high cholesterol problems, so I basically have to keep a very strict watch on what I eat to maintain good health.

I sat down on a bed next to the unconscious girl, but as I reached for the water jug, she sat straight up in bed, clutching her head in her hands, rocking back and forth as if she was in pain.

"Are you okay?" I asked softly, afraid to startle her.

Her head shot up and she stared at me. One, two, three seconds, perhaps, we gazed at each other - then she backed away and fell off the bed.

"AH!" I gasped. I tried to peer over the side, but ended up getting a kick in the face for my pains.

"Ow! What was that for?" I cried, stumbling back.

A sarcastic voice replied, "For trying to see up my panties, perv."

I opened one eye and saw that she was half-sitting on the floor with her legs draped over the bed she had fallen off and her head resting against the side of another bed nearby. She struggled to get up, but she couldn't move, as she seemed to be wedged in the space between the beds.

"Er. . ."

"Shit! I'm stuck."

"Here, let me-" I started, but she ignored me and rammed backwards with her head, scooting the bed nearly a foot over with a high-pitched *SQUEEEAAAK!*

The result was that she fell on her head.

"Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow!" she moaned. Rolling over, she managed to get out of the little alley between the beds, and she landed with a loud thud at my feet.

"Are- are you okay?" I asked, and she jumped up. "Yes, yes, FINE. Is that what you go around asking people all day?" she snapped, then put on an expression of mock concern. "'Are you okay, are you okay?'"

"Well, you're just accident-prone, I suppose. This is the most times I've ever asked a single person if they were okay," I replied, smiling slightly. Though her words were a bit brutal, they didn't actually contain any malice.

"I am NOT accident-prone," she muttered, starting to crawl along the floor. "Where the hell did that bimbo put my shoes?"

I raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me?" I asked incredulously. "Bimbo?"

"Yeah," she continued from underneath the bed where she was wriggling, "the nurse."

"The nurse is NOT a bimbo. It's not polite to call anyone a bimbo." She didn't reply. I looked down and noticed that she had stopped moving.

"Er - are you oka-"

"That's like the millionth time you've asked! Yes, I'm perfectly totally FINE!" came her muffled and somewhat agitated reply.

She struggled for a while more, then stopped again.

"God DAMMIT."

". . .Let me guess. You're stuck."

She sighed, her breath blowing out dust from beneath the metal frame of the bed. "Good guess."

I stepped forward to help, but the bed suddenly lifted up by itself - or so I thought.

I watched, stunned, as she pushed herself off the ground, flipping the bed onto its side with a tremendous crash. The nearby cabinets toppled over as well, along with the water jars and their contents. A hanging cabinet's handle was knocked off by one of the legs of the bed, and it zinged through the air and shattered a window, landing with a reverbrating CLANG. In a couple of seconds, she had turned the peaceful patients' room into a formidable scene of chaos.

The girl stood up and calmly dusted herself off.

"My shoes aren't here."

I gawked at her. The only phrase my mouth managed to splutter out was "You think?"

She shrugged, and then we heard a metallic groan. We turned to watch as the bed creaked rustily and toppled over onto its mattress side, the legs of the steel frame straight up in the air as if surrendering to this unlikely beast of a girl.

"."

I stared at the bed, then back at her. She looked mostly unruffled, except for a powdering of dust in her hair.

"And you say you're not accident-prone."

She glanced at me and shrugged again.

". . .Relatively speaking."

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WHEW!!!!! XD I got the first chapter done. What I did was switch POV's halfway through, which is something new for me. I tried to make it clear by writing the names of the characters before their part of the chapter. Hopefully I didn't confuse anyone!

Thanks for reading, and please review! Any additional questions and comments can be emailed to me. XD

~okenakab

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next chapter: ice cream in the rain - second contact

s.a.i.

~"Thank you very much - but -"

~"No buts," she cut in.

~I looked out the window and saw that it had started to drizzle.

~Great. Ice cream on a rainy day.

Well, till next time! Thanks again! XD