Note; thank you to everyone reading and supporting this story! I love writing these chapters, and the characters you all submitted are just great. I hope I can make a good manga-style story for you to read and enjoy. Let me know what you think of the plot and the characters. I am trying to add more substance to them all. I've been writing this and my computer's like whoa, you've used up too many ellipses (. . .)

NO Romance (Act Two)

Love Scenes

*warning again, mild horror themes and some suggestive content

Doketsu Academy Class 2E Boys & Girls

1. Chiyuu Fukuyama (M/15)

2. Aya Ryusaki (F/14)

3. Miko Kagami (F/16)

4. Daisuke Amaya (M/15)

5. Ayumu Okami (M/17)

6. Hisashi Kikaro (M/16)

7. Poyo Sato (F/15)

8. Caroline Masons (F/16)

9. Sakura Natsumi (F/15)

10. Konoha Karakuri (M/16)

Watch, See What Changes!

Even you don't have to live an uninspired life

He was standing alone, but that had become a comfortable and familiar feeling. He was considered an outsider, someone who could never fit in. He was . . . full of fear and doubt, without knowing how to connect with people. Girls, with their whispering and cues and cliques . . . they came to symbolize everything he hated about the world. Everyone seemed superficial, as if they could never know what was really inside.

And he was lost.

She was alone. She didn't care about making friends, or fitting in. She had swimming, a love of a cold and dark waters, rice and dried fish, and passions consuming her life on an intimate and private level. Where she belonged was where no one could touch her. She couldn't connect with people either, so she put on a facade.

"Oy, Karakuri, do you have a partner?"

"I uh, well . . . I don't really . . ."

"Ah, what's your problem? Can't talk to people? Why so shy? Do you have a social deficiency?"

"I . . . Umm . . . Well . . ."

"Damn it all! Are you afraid of me, or do you just hate me? Speak up!"

". . ."

"You really are . . . completely stupid"

"Listen, what you need is . . . something to occupy your loneliness"

"That's really . . ."

"Say, what do you like? At the very least, join a club. Reinvent yourself. I just can't watch you anymore. It's literally painful to me. So . . . listen. Just skip first period. Watch me swim tomorrow. Here, just take the bus. Then wait. See what what changes in your life. This is the only chance you get, Konoha . . ."

Continuing the mystery and the romance

Aya was dragging Chiyuu by the hand. She seemed unlike herself, not just because of the drink. Chiyuu was noticing things about her he felt uncomfortable noticing. She seemed to radiate light even in their bright hotel suite. She was beautiful, fantastic. Chiyuu felt warm, very warm. It was touching something, holding something. Wanting to touch something just out of reach. A very strange feeling indeed.

"Real Things . . ." sighed Aya, lifting Chiyuu onto the soft king-size bed ". . . must be very weak"

Chiyuu frowned. Aya was acting . . . not like Aya. Someone like Aya, probably would have never chosen Chiyuu.

That girl, that flirty girl who always had her head in the clouds dreaming of the newest star.

Chiyuu figured- I'm not someone who's meant to be loved, chosen . . . forget about love.

"Are you feeling better?" asked Aya, putting a hand on Chiyuu's hot forehead.

Chiyuu grabbed Aya's wrist, weakly trying to resist her.

"You're . . . not . . . Ryusaki" he coughed, feeling drained and angry.

Aya looked back towards the locked door, her expression growing troubled and distant.

"So," she sighed flatly "do you remember the feeling of when I killed you?"

"Give . . . her . . . back" muttered Chiyuu, trying to get to his feet.

"What? You sound really angry! I don't like that. That's not how it's supposed to be"

"I said . . . GIVE HER BACK!" shouted Chiyuu, wrapping his hands around Aya's neck.

A look of complete horror seemed to overtake her.

"No, no, no, no no! This isn't how it's supposed to be. You're not supposed to-"

"Why," cried Chiyuu, shaking his head "why did you take her? And who are you?"

The Aya imposter slapped Chiyuu's hands away and threw Chiyuu back down on the bed, pinning him to the mattress. The figure was smiling as it held Chiyuu in place. It wasn't a happy smile. It was more deranged, like the face of a trapped animal, driving itself mad from hitting the metal bars of its empty cage.

"I don't want to hurt you," said Figure, holding Chiyuu's face in its hands.

"It was a numb feeling," said Chiyuu, closing his eyes.

"All I want . . ." said Figure "is to get out of this place! So, I'm taking this girl's body. I'm taking her soul. She's asleep. That's . . . fair, isn't it? Because . . . she, she gets to live out there . . . and I . . . am stuck here. The voice . . ."

Chiyuu's eyes widened.

"What are you?" he asked.

Figure leaned over Chiyuu, who wasn't putting up any struggle. He put a hand, Aya's hand, on Chiyuu's chest. It felt lightweight, like a tiny bird. The other hand was still touching Chiyuu's face. Very delicately, touching Chiyuu's closed eyes, his small nose, the line of his lips. Breathing a warm breath. Closer, and touching. A kiss.

"I am . . . the source of the Voice's power. This place is his creation. He is using me. I'm nothing more than a figment, a flicker . . . a flame starting a fire. I never got to live. My life was nothing. When we met I was a small soul, a compartment of energy without consciousness. He was . . . more clever, and older than me. He had been human, too"

"Really it's wrong . . . you can't take Aya's soul. But I think . . . you're not real, too. But I forgive you, for killing me"

What's more, a perfectly designed love

Miko clung to Daisuke like a limp noodle clinging to the side of a soup pot. Daisuke was regretting the first to the last sip of that peach soda. He didn't even like peaches. Well, fruits. They were always too sweet.

"What are you doing, holding onto me?" sighed Daisuke, removing his glasses to wipe them on his tie.

Miko quietly snatched the glasses out of his hand, holding them in the air by the edge of the frame.

"Watch it," warned Daisuke, watching Miko jump onto the bed as a door locked behind them.

"Hey Amaya," asked Miko "what are you going to do when we graduate?"

Daisuke laughed, holding out his hand as Miko returned his spectacles.

"Well," said Daisuke, sitting on the bed beside Miko, "I don't have to leave this town, if that's what you mean"

Miko cocked her head to the side curiously, as if to ask why not.

"Basically," said Daisuke, "to be a game designer, you can work anywhere that has an internet connection"

"I'm one of those people," sighed Miko "who would rather spend her time traveling and looking for new adventures"

"That's nice," Daisuke laughed bitterly "but it still doesn't explain what we're doing in this room together"

"I like you," said Miko plainly, touching Daisuke's shoulder "and I need someone to travel with"

"As long as there's an internet connection," said Daisuke, "I'm willing to oblige you"

Miko smiled. Daisuke looked into her eyes, and decided that she was pretty cute. Not that he had any interest in her. It was probably just that peach drink and the strange atmosphere. But, maybe she would look nice with a pair of neko-ears. Cutting edge game designers had no use for nekos and love hotels. Even so.

Daisuke looked into Miko's eyes, returning her smile with a wide grin.

"You know," he explained "I'd like live my life in a way that is perfectly designed, like you, and this room are"

Miko bit her lip, suddenly feeling shy. Daisuke held her shoulders to keep her in place as he leaned towards her.

"You are, very perfectly designed and beautiful," said Daisuke, "which is the aspiration of every designer. At the center of it all, you and I can design a life that will be the envy of all others. This isn't about love, luck or romance. But . . . it would be most excellent if you would agree to be my muse"

"I suppose . . ." whispered Miko "I'd be willing to oblige you"

I'm sure you'll be surprised

Hisashi let Poyo carry him into the suite, not bothering to escape. It was a matter of simple physics that Poyo could physically overpower him no matter how hard he resisted. And it was his fault. For leading Poyo along, and talking to her, giving her steamed buns and leading her on like they could be friends. When really, all things considered, they should be enemies.

"Sato-san, I know you're not feeling . . . like yourself right now, but please . . . let me go now"

At Hisashi's words, Poyo seemed to wake up out of some trance, quickly dropping Hisashi who landed easily on his feet. He brushed himself off and cleared his throat, then smiled at Poyo like nothing had happened.

"Hisa," sighed Poyo, playing with a curl of her thick blonde-dyed hair "are ya okay?"

"Fine, thank you," replied Hisashi, turning around with a bit of a jump as the door slid closed.

"Guess I was jus playin around, Hisa" muttered Poyo, nervously leaning from side to side.

Hisashi was leaning against the door, trying to find a way to open it.

"How do we get outta here?" asked Poyo, sounding worried.

Hisashi was tapping something against the door. Poyo recognized it as the half empty bottle of Peach Q.

"If you're not gonna finish that drink, want me to?" she asked, tapping Hisashi's shoulder.

Hisashi spun around and raised the bottle, as if warning Poyo not to come any closer.

"Stand back, and watch this," he breathed, sounding suddenly hyper and excited.

With the bottle of Peach Q in one hand, Hisashi swung and hit the metal bedpost, shattering the end of the bottle.

Glass and pink soda bubbles soaked the bedsheets and thick carpet floor.

Poyo stared at Hisashi wide-eyed, her jaw dropping.

"Whoa dere! That was pretty badass! You're really sumthin!"

Hisashi laughed, walking in a slow circle to where Poyo was standing.

"Say, Poyo-chan," he asked, holding the sharp end of the bottle against his open hand. A trickle of blood dripped down his hand, but he didn't seem to notice or even care.

"Do you remember what happened to Fukuyama, last time?"

"Eh . . . what did ya do to yur hand?" asked Poyo, ignoring Hisashi's question.

"Stay on topic, Poyo!" snapped Hisashi, his expression dark.

"Y-yeah," stuttered Poyo "yeah, Chi got real messed up. But he's okay now . . . I think"

Hisashi pointed the broken bottle in Poyo's direction.

"Do you think Fukuyama . . . was in pain?" he asked.

Poyo staggered backwards and tripped. Now Hisashi was standing over her. She held up both hands.

"Yur scarin me . . . Hisa . . . YAHHHH!"

"Oh, Poyo, did that hurt? I'm sorry. I don't want to kill you, but I have to for the good of everybody"

Poyo's eyes widened. She didn't think that Hisashi would go so far. But then again . . .

"Hisa! Hisaaaa! Stop! STOP! THAT HURTS! It's not funny! Hisa . . . shi . . . I'm so sorry! Please!"

"Come on, Poyo. Don't move. Great. Just take a deep breath. I'm sure you'll be fine . . ."

I need to make sure for myself . . .

That anyone who dies in this world, doesn't die in ours.

And we can figure this out together . . .

It's up to us to solve the mystery

Caroline followed Ayumu down the long hallway to an empty room. They didn't speak to each-other until the door slid closed behind them. They could hear other people, talking and laughing. Both were feeling slightly dizzy and uncomfortable. They say beside each-other on the too-soft bed with their legs hanging over the edge.

"Gee," sighed Ayumu "I wonder how everyone else is holding up?"

"You worry too much about other people," said Karo, with a smile.

"I've noticed that we're together again" laughed Ayumu, loosening his tie.

"Yeah," said Karo "but don't get any ideas. All that drink gave me was a bad aftertaste and a headache"

"Just lie down and close your eyes," suggested Ayumu "and I promise I won't try anything . . ."

"Good," said Karo, lying back with a relaxed sigh.

"Because we're in here," she asked, "is it because we're meant to be in love?"

Ayumu blushed, looking down at his hands.

"Gee, I always figured you thought I was some kind of idiot"

"No, no" exclaimed Karo "you're a real nice guy. It's me who's the idiot. Be honest, you see me as a stupid, ignorant foreigner who should pack her bags and leave this town. I came here because I wanted to find myself. But all I've found is that I no nothing about the world. I don't know what I want to do with my life, either"

"Hey," said Ayumu, shaking Karo's arm "don't talk like that. You'll be fine. We can help you"

Karo smiled, wiping a tear out of her eye.

"It's true," she laughed "that Japan is just like manga"

"Oh, you read those? They're popular in America?"

"Ha! You don't know anything! I practically taught myself Japanese by watching anime"

"We're getting off-topic," sighed Ayumu, looking back towards the door.

"If we fall in love," said Karo "you know it won't mean anything. I'll have to go back home again"

Ayumu leaned in to kiss her lightly on the cheek, and quickly backed away, blushing like mad. When the door opened, Ayumu dashed outside, back to the bar room. He knew that Karo was chasing after him. He had only seconds to search for a scrap piece of paper and write the solution. Romance. Romance. He wrote it again and again until the room faded back into darkness. Karo was laughing and crying, and promising that one day, if she could, she would come back to Japan and visit everyone again. Ayumu rolled his eyes and told her that there were more important things to think about. I don't love you, or even like you . . . even so, I think I'll miss you.

Next Time; Poyo wakes up to flowers, apologies and pork stuffed buns. The past rears its ugly head. We remember what we so desperately longed to forget. If you can't hear your dead sister's voice . . . is all hope lost? Again, the Monogatari Bubble tests us, and the results of NO Mystery won't be pretty.