Author's Note: Hello, everyone! These are a few drabbles I wrote, indirectly inspired by my friend. He had written a few character names and ages (Maria and Kazu), and I had an idea. Sort of playing with the idea of making these into a true short story, or something novella-sized. Tell me what you think, at any rate.

Setting: This story is set in modern-day California, beginning in the second or third week of the school year, in a vo-tech Graphic Arts classroom. Eventually, the setting moves from the classroom to a suburban neighborhood, and then into wilderness.

Synopsis: Considering these are only drabbles, I'm not going to bother putting a synopsis in here, until I deicde whether I'm making a true story out of this.

Characters:
Maria Krydell (Ria-chan, Ri-chan, Ria): 15 years of age, Maria is a new student, moving from Montana to California. She has brown hair, light brown eyes, and is of an average height. She has a knack for Japanese, and seems to have some sort of power over premonition.
Kazukami Tanaka (Kazu, Kazu-chan): Also a new student to California, Kazukami is a native Japanese resident, yet commands the English language almost-perfect. He has a mop-top of jet-black hair, and is unusally tall, even by American standards. Upon first sight, he appears to be a weakling. He is 16 years old.
Rina Furasawa (Rina-chan, Ri-chan, RiRi): A childhood friend of Kazu, Rina's family moved to California from Japan after Mr. Furasawa asked his company to keep him with Mr. Tanaka. She has long jet-black silky hair, and dark, exotic-looking eyes. She is a short and petite 15-year-old overexciteable girl. She has problems with English, and prefers to use Japanese.

Random Story Info: My friend was the one who thought of Kazukami's and Maria's first names, ages, and primitive backgrounds. I thought of their last names, descriptions, extended their backgrounds, and created Rina on my own.
Though it was never worked in here, Rina and Maria call each other "Ri-chan," and they are the only ones who call each other by these names.


First Meetings

Maria whistled under her breath as she entered the room in which she was to be educated for the next four years. It was at least five times bigger than the tech room at her old school, which she had toured just before her parents had announced their "great" news.

Nice job, Mom and Dad, Maria thought to herself as she rolled her eyes. I'll probably get lost in this classroom, let alone the halls…

She wandered around, trying to catch someone's—anyone's—eye. Every student passed her hurriedly, ignoring her as thoroughly as if she had the plague. They looked to all be heading to the same place, so Maria followed them, clutching her indistinguishable plain-colored backpack.

As the students led her towards the back right corner of the huge room, Maria stared around in wonder, taking in her learning surroundings. There were a lot more machines in this room, Maria noticed, enabling more production and a larger range of things to do. It was going to be a busy year.

In the back corner, there was a short series of regular student desks, arranged in haphazard rows, headed by a small steel teacher's desk, on top of which sat a flat-screen computer. Maria spotted a man sitting at the computer, typing furiously, and assumed he was the teacher. The man sitting at the desk was slightly plump and of medium height, with short, bristly red hair and stern brown eyes that didn't quite match the kindly smile that appeared on his lips as he looked up and caught sight of Maria.

"Ah! You must be Maria." He stood, coming forward to shake her nervous hand. "Welcome! Welcome to the exciting field of Graphic Arts!"

Maria's voice hid her inner shyness. "Thank you, Mr.…" she politely waited for him to supply his name.

"Browning. I'm Mr. Browning. Now, we'll just introduce you…" And suddenly, his voice was booming, "Everyone, I'd like you to meet Miss Maria Krydell. She just moved here from out of state, and I expect you to make her feel welcome as she joins us in our journey. Maria, if you could just take one of those two remaining desks…I'll get you your materials and a locker after I do roll…"

Gratefully, Maria walked down an aisle to one of the empty desks, dodging stray pencils, books, and desk corners. She sat down, placing her backpack quietly on the floor, ignored the stares she got from the others, and listened to Mr. Browning take roll, in order to learn the names of her fellow classmates.

"Emily Wilder…Maria Krydell…and Kazukami Tanaka." He stumbled over the final name. When no one answered, he raised his voice in a question. "Kazukami Tanaka?"

Silence.

Maria suddenly saw an image in her mind of a tall, slender boy with a mop-top of black hair. Fading almost as quickly as it had come, the image was immediately replaced by the very real, extremely loud sound of the huge blue door being opened at the other end of the room. Looking up, Maria saw a tall figure…and jet-black hair. She blinked in surprise as her brain short-circuited.

"I'm sorry I'm late," the boy's voice rang out, his speech slightly distorted by a thin accent Maria couldn't place.

Mr. Browning stood again, and met the student a couple feet away from Maria's desk. "I must assume you are Mr. Tanaka?"

The boy nodded, but what he blurted next definitely wasn't English. "Hai, sensei."

"I beg your pardon?"

"I'm sorry," the boy quickly said, blushing, "I mean, Yes, sir. Sometimes I slip into my native tongue. Please forgive me."

Maria stared, wide-eyed, as the two men conversed rapidly. She had been curious before, but now she was extremely intrigued. Who was this boy? What country was he from, and what language was native to him?

It was sure to be an interesting year.


Challenge

The boy stared blankly at his computer screen, willing it to load the web page faster. He pushed his black bangs back and smiled at the foreign characters appeared. He scanned the page, comprehending the characters much faster than he read English, feeling more at home on his country's web pages.

"Tanaka-san?" An innocent voice intruded, her Japanese accent perfect.

Rina-chan, the boy thought pleasantly. It sounds just like Rina-chan. He turned…and reality came crashing down on him.

It was not Rina. The girl standing behind his chair was taller than Rina, and her hair was brown like the warm earth back home. Her eyes were wide with innocence, like Rina's always were, but this American girl's eyes were an unusual shade of light brown. Rina wore blue-tinted contacts to make her eyes lighten up a bit, but all it did was make her usually dark eyes even darker; it aided her exotic beauty.

No, it was not Rina. It was someone better: the other new kid this year, the one who he'd been watching out of the corner of his eye for the past two months. Maria Krydell.

Kazukami spoke rapidly in Japanese at Maria. She couldn't tell if he was praising or cursing her for learning how to say his name right. She blinked in confusion.

He immediately recognized his mistake. She obviously had taught herself a few terms of his language, but not enough to understand what he was saying. He switched back to English. "Please, call me Kazu. I prefer it." He looked into her startling golden-brown eyes. "Where did you learn to speak with such a nice accent?"

Maria blushed. "I don't know. I went online, and found a bunch of stuff, and when I tried to say it, it sounded nice." She spotted his screen and her eyes widened. "What is it?"

He glanced at the familiar characters. "It's called kanji."

"Kanji…" Maria whispered, trying out the word.

"Yes. In Japan, we have three different kinds of writing: hiragana, katakana, and kanji."

"Why three?" Maria blinked.

Kazu looked at her. "Well, you have two different styles of writing in America, do you not?"

Maria considered this, and then looked back at him, challenge making her eyes sparkle. She pointed to the screen. "Teach me."

"Everything? Hiragana, katakana, kanji, and how to speak it?"

Maria nodded in determination. "Everything. Teach me everything."


Meeting Rina

"Kazu-chan!" a voice squealed, interrupting Maria and Kazukami's lesson. Out of nowhere, a small flash of silky back hair whipped by Maria and tackled Kazu, knocking him over into the ground. Irritation flared in Maria's mind.

Kazukami coughed, trying to get his breath back as he rolled the tiny person off of him. "R-rina-chan?" he asked. It had to be. Only one person would recognize him after a year separated and still be so excited to see him.

"Yes, silly!" Rina replied in Japanese. "It's me! My dad got transferred here as well! When I heard the news, I was so happy!" Rina hugged Kazukami ecstatically.

Just then, Kazu remembered Maria and looked over to see her sulking a few feet away. Realization dawned on him…she understood every word Rina had used.

She glared at them. "And who the hell are you?" she said in English.

Rina turned, her almond eyes widening. Quickly, she fumbled for the English words. "My name…is…Rina Furasawa." She said brokenly.

Maria switched to Japanese. "Is this easier?"

Rina beamed. "Yes! Thank you!"

"So, do you mind telling me who you are and why you're all over Kazu-chan?"

Rina nodded, her petite face going reminiscent. "My name is Furasawa Rina. Kazu-chan and I have been best friends since we were little. We grew up living next to each other in Japan. He always helped me with my homework. I always look at him as the big brother I never had. When he moved away last year, I was devastated. But, my father's workplace transferred him to America as well, and I couldn't wait to see Kazu-chan again. Forgive my excitement."

Maria smiled. "I'm Krydell Maria. I've always lived in America, but I use to live in Montana, so California is a new world to me. Kazu-chan and I met in our Graphics class this year."

Rina nodded appreciatively. "Where did you learn such beautiful Japanese?"

"Kazu-chan taught me what I know. We don't know how I get the accent down right."

Rina smiled, and the two girls hugged, already friends.

Kazu sighed in relief. For a minute, he thought he was going to have to break up a catfight. Rina didn't like to fight, but Maria could get jealous so quickly…

"Kazu, let's all go to my house and talk," Maria piped up, holding out a hand to help him up.

Kazu nodded, grabbing her hand. "Sure."

And so they left, with the two girls chattering the entire way.


A Quiet Moment

"Kazu…" Maria's voice sounded as she placed cool hands on his muscled shoulders. Instantly, he was soothed, just by her mere presence.

"'Ria-chan…" he sighed as he leaned his head back. She looked down into his dark eyes, so full of mystery for the others. Only Maria knew what was hidden behind the black orbs.

Her wonderful voice came again, "Everything's going to be alright now, right?"

He closed his eyes and a sigh of contentment came. "Yes, 'Ria-chan. I think everything's going to be fine."

They enjoyed a quiet moment together, simply being with each other in relief that they were finally safe. Maria's hands never moved from Kazu's shoulders, and slowly they began to warm from his body heat. They enjoyed each other's presence without letting it be known publicly.

The rain came then, just as Maria had predicted, in a silvery sheet. A warm spring rain, sent to rejuvenate, to heal, to wash away, to encourage growth. It quickly wet the both of them, but they welcomed the new sensation. Maria hadn't felt raindrops on her face in a long, long time, and forgotten memories of the feeling resurfaced in her brain. She let hot tears roll down her face in pure respite at this simple pleasure, being alive and able to feel rain on her face and Kazu's skin below her hands.

Kazu caught her hands with his larger ones, pulling her around in front of him. She sat beside him, leaning into his warm embrace. He held her tight about the waist, refusing to let her go, to leave him even for a second. She fell asleep like that, rocked gently by his rhythmic breathing.

Kazu looked down at her sleeping face, smiling at its innocent beauty. She doesn't deserve to be dragged into this, he thought to himself, but immediately the memory of Maria's stubborn reply awakened in his mind.

"Listen, 'Ria-chan, you can't come!" he said, grasping her shoulders and staring into her eyes. "It's too dangerous, and I won't have you get hurt!"

"But you'll leave me here to worry about you?" Maria met his angry stare with a fiery gaze of determination. "I'm going. Besides, you said yourself I'm safer than most people." She tapped her head lightly with one finger.

Kazu sighed in frustration. "No, 'Ria-chan! I'm not letting you come!"

"Kazu, you can't go alone! You'll be killed in an instant!" Maria said, her eyes starting to sparkle with tears. "I'm not letting you leave…because…" she wiped her eyes with a sleeve, refusing to say more.

Kazu's almond-shaped eyes widened. "What is it? What did you see?" When she did not meet his eyes, he gently placed a finger under her chin and forced her face upwards.

"I…" Maria looked down. "If I let you go alone…you won't come back." One tear rolled down her face as she trembled violently. She looked up, tears glazing her pleading eyes. "I can't let you die alone!"

Kazukami drew the sobbing girl into his arms, feeling her clutch him closer to her and cry quietly into his chest. Right that minute, he wanted nothing else than to make her happy again. To him, her tears were more precious than diamonds, and they were being carelessly wasted on a stupid remark he'd said…

Maria shuddered suddenly, waking completely from her sleep. Kazu blinked at her as she turned to stare wide-eyed at him. Immediately, he knew…she had seen something. Something bad.

"What is it?" Kazu said, keeping one arm around her waist.

Maria blinked solemnly, and said only one word. "Rina-chan."

Kazu drew breath sharply, pulling Maria close to him for emotional support. She lay against him quietly, letting him cry on her shoulder. For, at that moment, both of them knew that their best friend was dead.


End Note: Well, what do you think?
Constructive criticism, please. Thank you!
-Andromeda Star