It took me a couple of seconds to take everything in. I'm here at my best friend's apartment and we were having so much fun. But then she suddenly moved me out of the way and something pulled her through one of those portals. I can't believe I just stood there and watched it all happen. Tears formed in the corner of my eyes. Suddenly I thought I heard her voice from outside her window.

"Ta-chan?!" I ran over and threw her window open. "Ta-chan!" When I looked outside no one was there. But I knew I heard her. I bolted out of her apartment and ran downstairs. I sprinted to where her bedroom window was but still nothing. Where are you?

I glanced down and noticed something odd. There was a tiny liquid puddle where I stood. I knelt down and touched it. When I brought my fingers back up the liquid was red. Blood. Tears started rolling down my cheeks.

"She hurt. Tatsume's hurt." I looked back down to the blood. Please be ok. But this wasn't the time to be crying. Tatsume protected me and now I must help her. I wiped the tears away. I quickly rose and ran back into the apartment. After I gathered the things I came for I ran back down to the blood and started cleaning it up. It's best that no one finds this. Too many questions will be asked that can't be answered logically.

Once the blood was completely cleaned up I started back up to her bedroom. Tatsume has always taken care of me and I know she protected me back there. I must do the same for her. I threw away the blood stained towels and started cleaning her room. I was startled by the sudden noise in the room. It was my cell phone. Picking it up it read "home". I flipped it open and answered.

"Yes mother." I tried to sound as normal as possible but it was hard.

"Hey honey! How's the sleepover going?" She always hated when I was gone. She tends to miss me too easily. But it was nice to hear her voice.

"It's wonderful." Not really. But I might have to make up an excuse for Tatsume.

"So you and Tatsume-chan are having fun?" Crap. What should I say? Oh I know!

"Actually she came down with something and feels horrible." I could hear her concern on the other side. "High fever and everything." If Tatsume doesn't get back by tomorrow at least she'll have a good alibi.

"Oh dear. Should I come over and bring some medicines?" Shit! Damn her for being too kind. Well she has been like a mother to Tatsume since her parents passed away.

"No!" I think my sudden outburst almost made her drop the phone. There was a lot of rustling but then she was back on. "What I meant was that she has a lot of medicine here and I'm using all the skills you taught me." She hesitated but responded.

"Ok sweetie. If you say so." Glad that worked. "But if you need anything. Anything at all. Don't hesitate in calling me ok."

"Thanks mom. We really appreciate it." I sat down on Tatsume's bed.

"Can I say goodnight to Tatsume-chan?" Great.

"Actually she's not feeling well enough to talk at the moment. But I'll tell her that you said goodnight." Just thinking about that fact that she probably isn't well made me tear up again. I quickly wiped them away.

"Alright sweetie. Well sweet dreams and I'll see you home tomorrow." Tomorrow. What will happen then? I don't think I could go home like this. What happens if they return at my house? What will happen to my parents? I couldn't bear the thought of anything happening to them. Tatsume wouldn't want that either.

"Actually mom. I'm going to stay with Tatsume till she gets better." It's the best thing to do. Then if Tatsume returns I'll be right here waiting for her.

"You sure sweetie?" My stomach slightly growled. I'm still not a good cook.

"Don't worry mom. I'll still stop by for dinner to grab food for Tatsume." I heard her giggle over the phone.

"Don't want to make her sickness worse with your cooking." We laughed together. "But don't skip out on school because of her." Always worried about my education. I can't make an alibi for myself so I guess I have to go.

"Yes mother." It'll be fun answering everyone's questions tomorrow. "Well goodnight mother and I'll see you tomorrow after school."

"Goodnight honey. Sweet dreams." I heard her hang up. Sweet dreams. I could only wish for those tonight. I closed my phone and un-tucked Tatsume's bed sheet. After I closed and locked the window I turned off the lights and slipped under her sheets. When I fell onto her pillow I could smell the scent of her shampoo. I cried myself to sleep that night worrying about Tatsume. What can I do to help her?

Now I know why Tatsume's always late to school. None of her alarm clocks were set. Jumping out of bed I quickly got ready and ran out the door. When I finally made it to class I nearly tripped through the classroom door.

"Sorry I'm late!" I bowed my head to Oukochi-sensei. The class laughed. I looked up and no one was there.

"It's ok Kareiko-san." I looked over to my classmate Ichimo Sana. "Oukochi-sensei had an emergency so he left. We have free period." She's really sweet but there's only one reason why she'd be talking to me. "Where's Joubu-san?" Knew it.

"Actually she's sick today and I don't know when she'll be feeling better." Ichimo's face saddened. I feel really bad lying but what else could I do. Then her face perked up.

"Well then I guess I could stop by her place and bring her some medicine or something." She smiled.

"NO!" My sudden outburst scared Ichimo and the rest of the class. "I mean its ok. I'm staying with her still she gets better." Ichimo just blinked at me for a bit then finally came to.

"But wouldn't you get sick too?" I'm starting to understand Tatsume's feelings about why fans annoy her.

"She actually got the cold from me so I'm safe around her." Please leave it at that.

"Well ok. Then tell her to get better soon." She smiled then skipped back to her desk. I sighed then walked to my seat.

This has had to be the worst day at school I've ever had. People constantly asked about Tatsume. I'm glad people worry about her but it continually reminded me about what happened to her. Gym class was the worse. So I actually decided to run today. Tsuyoi-sensei couldn't believe it. But it felt really nice. Now I know why she likes to do it. It gave me time to really think and have some peace. Maybe I'll start running with her.

During the run something felt wrong in the pit of my stomach. I looked around and everything seemed ok but the feeling didn't disappear. I focused back to my run but it was hard to ignore the feeling. This time I decided to glance over my shoulder. I noticed a student that seemed odd. I've never seen her before. Maybe a transfer student. Then she blurred for a second but before I could get a better look I tripped.

"Are you alright Kareiko-san?" It was our star track-and-field running Issoku-san. She held up her hand to me and helped me up.

"Yeah thanks." I quickly brushed the dirt off me. When I turned around the girl was gone. I turned back to Issoku-san. "Have we gotten any transfer students this year?" She thought for a second then shook her head.

"Not that I know of." Weird. She waved goodbye to me and continued her run. I think I had enough running today so I headed back to the sidelines.

The rest of the day went by and there was no sign of that student. Maybe I'm hallucinating things. I just made it to the gate when someone grabbed my shoulder. It startled me and I quickly turned while swinging my fist in the air.

"Whoa there." I knew that voice. I looked to see my Yamu. "Is everything ok JuJu?" He also likes to use the pet name Tatsume gave me.

"Yes. Of course. What do you mean?" I sounded as casual as I could. But he gave me that look. I sighed. "I'm just worried about Ta-chan." Now that's not a lie.

"Yeah I heard she's sick. Is it bad?" He brought me to his chest. His gentle hands felt nice has he caressed my back.

"I hope not." It was to quite for him to hear. Then my phone started to ring. It was my mom. Yamu released me so I could answer. "Yes mom."

"I have Tatsume's food all ready. Come on over and pick it up for her dear." I smiled. Tatsume loves my mom's cooking. She'd really appreciate her for doing this.

"Ok mom. I'll be there soon." I hung up and looked up to Yamu. He must have heard the conversation.

"Call me later ok." He kissed me on the forehead and waved to me as he left for baseball practice.

After I had dinner at Tatsume's apartment I took a nice long bath. The water was so relaxing I accidently feel asleep.

"Anyone there?" I was in a dark unfamiliar place. The only thing I could see was the full moon above me. When I looked back down a cloaked figure stood a couple feet away. "Ta-chan?" The figure turned around and a pair of red eyes stared at me. I felt my body began to shiver. It fully turned around saw that it was carrying a long sword. Red crimson blood dripped off it. I screamed.

I suddenly awoke splashing cold water everywhere. I must have been out for a while. Once out I dressed and headed for bed. As I drifted off I wondered who the cloaked figure was. I hoped for a peaceful night but some things just don't come true.

Two days have gone by and the dream continued. Since that one night the dream had gotten worse. The face of the cloaked figure is still shrouded in darkness except for its red eyes. I feel as if I'm following the figure on a journey. It's constantly surrounded by demons and blood is everywhere. I would wake up in the middle of the night screaming. Good thing I'm still at Tatsume's house or my mom would be really worried about me. Also that odd student still hasn't shown up. I'm beginning to think that she was never there to begin with.

"Kareiko-san!" I quickly arose from my desk. Knocking my chair down in the process.

"Here!" The class giggled. I looked around and forgot I was in the middle of class. Shit I must have fallen asleep again. I looked up to Reikei-sensei who was not happy about me sleeping through his science lecture. "Sorry Reikei-sensei." I bowed my head to him.

"I'm surprised to see you like this Kareiko-san. It's not like you." And he walked back to the front of the room and started where he left off. I sat back down.

School had ended and I was on my way back home to take food back to Tatsume's place. To everyone she's still sick but I'm not sure how long I can keep this up. Everyone wants to bring her something to help her especially mom. I need to find a way to keep mom from coming over her place tomorrow. It's Sunday and mom doesn't have anything planned. I need to spend my day off keeping her from going there.

"JuJu!" It was Yamu and I could tell that he was starting to really worry about me. "Can I walk you home?"

"No practice today?" I looked at him in confusion. Hokai-sensei doesn't like his boys slacking off so he constantly has them practicing.

"It's his wife's anniversary today and it's the only time we can get the night off." He smiled at me. I giggled. I could see his wife yelling at him to come home and expecting an expensive gift. "It's nice to see you smile." I felt Yamu's hand come under my chin and lifted my face to him. "Lately you seemed tired and out of it. Sometimes you seemed." He paused. "Scared."

"I'm sorry." Grabbing his hand from under my chin I placed it against my cheek. "I don't mean to worry you. Just been having bad dreams." He looked into my eyes and knew that I didn't want to talk about it."

"Well then let's walk home." I smiled then we left.

When we got to my place mom was excited to have Yamu over. She asked him to stay for dinner and I said that Tatsume had leftovers from last night so she'll be ok. Mom made me call her just in case. I used my cell to try and make it more real.

After dinner Yamu walked me to Tatsume's apartment. It was late and he's just as protective of me as she is. It was a cloudy night tonight and something seemed odd. Yamu sensed it as well. He brought me closer to him and just as we did something seemed to appear in the distance.

"Who's there?!" Yamu called out to the figure and it seemed to react to his voice. Something about it seemed awfully familiar. My body started to shiver. "What do you want?!" The figure slowly turned around then I saw it.

"Yamu." My voice quivered with fear. He tightened his grip on me. "It's the figure from my dreams." I never explained my dream to him but he now understood the reasons for my nightmares. The figure turned around and its red eyes stared right at us. But something was different about them. I relaxed my body and started toward it.

"What are you doing?!" I continued walking toward it. It seemed unarmed and something about it made me want to comfort it.

"Who are you?" The figure seemed to relax when it heard my voice. It now seemed…gentle. But just as I was within a foot away it tensed up. It unsheathed it's sword from beneath its cloak. I heard Yamu run toward me and lock me in his arms.

"Watch out!" Just as he spoke the figure charged toward us but instead of it coming at us it leaped over and then I heard it. Metal piercing flesh. Yamu and I turned around but to our surprise nothing was there. The figure was nowhere and whatever it got was gone too.

"Where'd it go?" Yamu was just as confused as I was. When I looked to him he was rubbing his eyes.

"What did your mom put in that stew?" I shrugged my shoulders and started off toward Tatsume's place. "Wait!" I stopped and turned to him. "Maybe you should stay home tonight."

"But what about Tatsume?" I would feel safer there but I can jeopardize the safety of my parents. And I'm still waiting for Tatsume to return.

"Take her home with you. I'll help." Shit! Not good.

"She can't!" He looked confused. "I've already asked my mom if I could do that but she doesn't want to move Tatsume till she's better." I grinned. Please work. Then I heard him sigh and he dug into his school bag and pulled out something small and round. He placed it in my hands.

"Fine but keep this with you." I looked at it and recognized what it was.

"Pepper spray?" Not sure if this will protect me from demons but maybe it could help.

"It'll make me feel better." I gave him a big hug and he rubbed my head. "Let's go and don't worry I won't go inside. Coach wouldn't be happy if I got sick." I giggled.

Once he dropped me off I headed up to her room and quickly crashed. That night my dream was completely different. Instead of me fearing the figure I tried everything I could to help it. It seemed to be running toward one thing and away from another.

The next day mom asked me to head to the market for groceries. She still thinks Tatsume's sick so she still wants to cook for her. It's already been four days since she's left and I'm not sure how much longer I can keep this gig up. By now a cold should have passed and if it hasn't people would be telling me to take her to the hospital. And I can't do that can I.

"Paper or plastic!" The outburst startled me but I realized that I zoned out.

"Oh sorry. Paper." The checkout lady rolled her eyes and I thought I saw her mouth "kids." Grabbing my two bags I headed out of the grocery store and started home.

When I came to my first crosswalk something felt weird. It was the same feeling that I felt that day at gym. Turning around I searched for the girl but she wasn't there. I brushed it off and started across the street. But as I kept going the feeling didn't disappear. This time when I looked I noticed someone was following me. Before I could get a good look I ran into something or someone.

"Ow." The old man turned around and glared at me.

"Watch where you're going!" He's not in a good mood. I slightly bowed to him and apologized. He didn't care. Jerk. I turned back around but he or she was gone.

"Weird." When I started walking again I could still feel the person behind me. I glanced again and sure enough there it was. The person looked like a male in his mid thirties but then something strange happened. When I was looking at the guy I thought I saw him blur for a second. Rubbing my eyes I looked back to him but it did it again. But this time when he blurred I thought I saw a demon take his place. I felt my body began to shake. My eyes didn't deceive me.

I started running but to where. I can't go home and put mom in danger. I looked back behind me, the demon was following me. I saw in opening between two buildings and remembered that there was an alley way that led to the nearby Shinto shrine. But I noticed there were more than one alley way.

"Shit. Which one is it?" Hopefully the demon won't be able to follow me there. But Iakki did. It's worth a try. I saw a promising opening and went for it. I turned down and continued running. Glancing behind me the demon took the bait. Turning back around I suddenly stopped. Damn it! In front of me was an enormous wall. Wrong alley.

"Hello child." The demon spoke with a deep raspy voice. I turned around and saw the demon clearly now. It looked like a bull but more repulsive. My bags dropped from my arms and my groceries spilled everywhere. He laughed at me.

"What do you want?!" He started toward me. I back away but ran right into the wall. I was trapped. "Ta-chan." I closed my eyes expecting the worse but then his footsteps deceased. When I opened my eyes I looked at his face. His evil grin turned into a look of agony and pain. From his chest I noticed a sliver blade dripping with his blood.

"I failed." Was his last words then his body just vanished. Behind him was the cloaked figure again. Its red eyes stared in my direction. But for some reason it didn't look like it was looking at me. Who is this figure that I keep dreaming about? It turned away from me and when it did a huge gust of wind blew its cloak reveling something familiar.

"I can't be!" The figure turned to the sound of my voice. "Ta-chan?"