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Amano Anshin

An intro by Jeff Jarlett

A young man, standing around five and a half feet tall, dressed in jeans, and a grey t-shirt rose from his slumber. Sheets, as well as most personal belongings, laid on the table. A small bokken laid at the right side of his bed. A lightweight brown leather jacket was slung over the right bedpost, and a few posters were slung over the walls of this studio apartment. A slight ring finally fully awoke the sleeping lad.

"Hello?" He said this in a deepish voice, not sure what was on the other end. "Oh." A serious twinge of disappointment entered his voice. "Sure, make sure the money is kept so I have a steady income, but try to work on it." A yawn could then be heard from the boy's room. "I know it's noon, but I don't have to do nothing now. I'll enjoy it. Just make sure those account statements are sent."

Amano Anshin was 17 years old, and hungry. Therefore, he did what all starving young people do in the middle of the day, look for lunch. He saw a fresh pair of clothes in the closet, straight off the hanger. "Good thing I remembered the dumb laundry!" , he said to himself as he slipped into a pair of jeans, a grey shirt, and his jacket. As he left the apartment, he saw the obasan (old lady- traditional) sweeping the stairs. He smiled.

"How are you today, obasan?" He smiled slightly as he saw a small smile cross her wrinkled face. The position of obasan was largely ceremonial, but most took pride in their stairs, and in talking to the residents.

In a slightly creaking voice, the obasan smiled "Well, well. Been cooler weather lately. Glad to see you remembered your jacket."

Amano chuckled a little bit. "Seen your granddaughter lately?" He knew from overhearing the couple downstairs that the obasan had a four year-old granddaughter named Kino.

The obasan softly said, "Kino's coming down for a bit this weekend. Be so glad to see her. Don't get to see her as much as I should. I wish the kids could see me more, but well, it's these days. I see you're off as well. Looking for a job?"

Amano's expression went to a slightly puzzled look for a minute. Employment was not an option in his life. He didn't really need to be Employed anymore. Not since the pressure was off. One day, perhaps. However, life is to be enjoyed at this moment. "I'm fine. I'll be looking around, but I have enough money for a while. I'm working on a writing career." Writing was always a good backup, Amano thought in his head, it fits with the image he wished to show the apartments. Besides, he had paid the rent four months in advance, so the owner never complained.

"Well, I'm off. I'll see you later, obasan. Take it easy now!" Amano waved and raced down the stairs with the fury of a rushing student. Something that was familiar to him a short while ago.

Amano mused in his mind. Things had been peaceful in this quiet section of Tokyo. Almost too peaceful. That was why he had left his life a few months ago, to run from peace. For seventeen years, he was the good boy. Always did his homework, practiced his kendo. The kendo, now, that wasn't too bad, but the routine was the same every day. "Hello mother", school, practice, study, "Hello father", cram, practice, sleep. Every day, every day. An act of rebellion for him was deliberately not doing the last homework problem. Now, there is no more. Mother, gone. Father, gone. No one to force his life. It is my time. It is, what's This?

"Speed Limit 100 Unless Posted"

Damnit, I got lost. Oh well, got my map. Amano's thoughts continued to churn in his head as he looked around. He saw a brief sign on the post.

"Lurker's Retreat. Wall of Infinite Sake. 1 Mile this way." with an arrow pointing down a side street. Still, nothing to lose in trying a new place, as he strolled down the street.

He looked around at the sights, and saw another sign about one quarter of the way, "Tokyo International University- this way", and an arrow pointing to the left turn. He peeked, and saw what looked to be a stereotypically academic set of buildings, complete with ivy on one or two of them, apparently for effect. Amano looked around and saw several other arrows leading to several other places, some looked interesting, some did not. Somehow "The Shades" did not seem to be the place to get a good lunch, and he could feel ihs stomach. Anyway, University= eating places.

In fact, there was one right there. "Beefbowl ___'s" The name wasn't clear for some reason. Scratch. "International Pizza" read the sign on the right. Check. That looks good. He turned around, looking for the exit. Another sign to the right of it looked more inviting. The decor was heavily pink.

"Stop, Thief!" A loud female cry could be heard from a few steps back, and upon instinct Amano turned around a saw a female taller than him yelling at a speedy boy running away holding what appeared to be a purse in his hands. Amano took a quick glance at the woman. Tall Western Girl in jeans, taller then he was, hair in a ponytail. Scrumptious. A small smile crossed his lips as the thief tried to brush him aside.

Amano just simply stuck his leg out, and the thief tripped and fell into the brick wall, slumping slightly. Amano was a bit shocked that the plan worked, and grabbed the purse from the thief, who quickly took a quick snipe at him with a knife. Amano quickly lept out of the way, and a few strands of light brown hair fell to the ground. The girl grabbed Amano and said, "In here." , and started running for a bit, until Amano got the better idea, and trailed a few steps behind, whereever the girl went, though his attention was mostly on the girl. With one exception, they ran by a small building named "Mika's Detective Agency- Have Clues, will Solve." Amano made a mental note to head there later.

While they were on the way, the girl quickly turned over to Amano and snatched the purse away. Amano gave a goofy-looking grin and a mock bow. "Thank you. Now where are we headed, and who are you, fair one?"

Belinda though to herself, "What a jerk? Not a bad guy, but he needs to be trained." A small devilish grin crossed her mind, as an idea came to the forefront.

"I need a ser- err helper for the day. I'll pay a bit, but from the looks of you, you need something to do, so you'll take it. My name is Belinda, I get mad when people forget it."

Amano quickly noticed something- this blonde cutie was well, um, she didn't act so cute. Still, no harm in playing along, and who knows, maybe she likes it when people get a rise out of her. This could be an interesting day after all.

Belinda went into uber-kawaii mode at Amano, while chuckling all the way inside her head. "Remember, you pwomised to do everything I say. Now I got to make a phone call. Stand here."

Amano just stood there. In his mind, he had little better to do, and besides, what harm could she think of? Well, a few things did cross his mind, but they would be more fun then embarassment.

Belinda headed around the corner, and into a private phonebooth. She quickly dialed Ambrosia's.

"Hello, Ambrosia's?"

"This is Belinda, Pix. I have something fun I have in mind. Some weirdo seems to have nothing better to do then follow me around, and well, I have a plan. You know that dissolving clothes liquid? Well, prepare some of that in a drink, and be sure to turf Iafhis today, and the male spare uniform."

"Belinda, you're mean, but I like it. Is he cute?"

"With a bit of work, very. He's just weird. Don't know the entire story on him, but his eyes say he's not a street punk, and he has money, so he can be fun, for me at least. HE should enjoy being around me as well, it's not often you get to be around someone fun.

A slight sweatdrop could be seen by someone watching Pix on the other end of the phone.

"Pix, well, I gotta go. Got one more class. I'll see you in a couple of hours. I'd say prepare the special formula about an hour into work, I want to have a bit of fun. By the way, tell Iahfis he has the day off, gonna make this guy Amaro cover for him."

The phone hung-up, and Belinda quickly headed back around the corner, where the sap, err Amano, was still standing there patiently, like he was used to waiting.

"Alright, now I've got a class, you'll walk me there. Come."

Amano nodded, and follow Belinda, of course being sure to carry the 25 pound backpack all college students seem to have. A strange thought crossed Amano's mind. Why did I get bored and leave school, to go back to school? Oh well, at least I'm not the one having to sit through some boring math class.

"By the way, you're going to sit through Multivariate Calc. Don't cut up, or I'll kill you."

Amano sighed. Perhaps today wasn't so lucky after all. Yes, he's trying to get a cutie, but he now has to sit through a 50-minute lecture about flux integration to do it. At least she isn't an airhead. A small voice in the back of Amano's mind said "uh oh" Fortunately, Belinda lent Amano a small backup notebook, so he could fit in and "look like a student". Well, perhaps I can try romance novel writing for the time, was the thought running through his head at the beginning of the class, and he executed the thought for the last 50 minutes of the class after the 10 minute intro. However, the execution left a bit to be desired, and was a bit too, well, direct. However, as class ended, Belinda snatched the notebook back without reading a word. She did smile at him a bit, and said, "Thanks for not making an idiot out of either of us. Now I have to get to work. You're coming."

Amano wondered, briefly, whether he had a choice in the matter, then quickly realized that he didn't. Oh well, judging from Belinda's looks, Amano thought she worked somewhere that wasn't around people. Obviously a student, he thought, as they went back the way they met earlier, and towards the pink restaurant, but obviously not a people person. Um, why are we heading to the restaurant, she can't be working there, um, yes...

Uh oh.

As they entered the restaurant, aptly named Ambrosia's. Pink. Way too much pink. He wondered how the place attracts customers, but the place seemed to be filled, though many of the customers seemed to be of a slightly saccharine sort, the sort of people who appear as child actors, and honor roll students. Sheesh. Couldn't there be at least one normal person in the place. Well, there were a couple of normal people around, so at least the food should be decent. Still, what's with the winged waitresses, is it some kind of fetish restaurant?

A cry could be heard in the background, and and a very feminine-looking girl came out with Belinda. Winged, but still very feminine. Her eyes were definitely watery, as were Belinda's.

"Can you help? We have no waiter. The boss will be horrid if we do not have a waiter. Ia called in sick." The girl with wings said this, in a voice designed to make fairy tale villains feel remorse.

Amano considered his options. He could do the smart thing, refuse, and go on his merry way. However, that would be--- boring, and what his parents would have wanted him to do, rest their souls. Or, he can go and try something new. He decided to go along with this for today. Besides, what's the worst that could happen, a pink uniform?

Belinda smiled a bit and said "Thanks." Amano became slightly wary with the personality shift, but his gaze kept the same. Playing the fool was sometimes more difficult then it sounds. "We'll take care of your clothes, there's a laundry upstairs. I'll show you the uniform, don't worry, it's not all pink, only the shirt, and it doesn't look bad. Beats the slop you probably wear all the time."

Heading upstairs, Amano noticed the place became pinker, if that was possible. The shades of pink were sligjhtly more pale, yet more deep as well, like it was some sort of magical force. A hum of a washing machine could be heard as well. Belinda came in with an outfit consiting of black tuxedo-styled pants, and a pink ruffled shirt. "You'll wear this. Oh, we'll let you keep the tips as well." Amano looked at the uniform, and while slightly relieved at not being pink pants, deciding to make a pouty face for a few seconds before heading into the changing room.

After taking about four or five minutes to change and recomb his hair slightly, he stepped out, to find 2 of the winged girls standing outside. One of whom was approaching Amano-fangirl stage, thinking the only thing he needed to look like a complete stud, was blue hair. Amano knew the look, and quickly got to work. Fangirls are dangerous, and while he wanted fun, fangirl danger was rarely fun.

The first hour at Ambrosia's was fairly slow. The second hour picked up a bit, but he was handling it just fine. He was told the dinner rush should last two hours, and just begun, at least the first two hours were OK, so he got used to it before the rush. Across the hall, Belinda was acting friendly as the waitress, causing Amano to doubletake a few times when he was not too busy. The rush came, and for the next two hours Amano had no time to doubletake or do much else, as he was trying to hold his own end of the bargain. So far he had made decent tips, good ones from the women-folk, which was the majority of the customers on his side. Belinda whispered to Amano during a slight break "I'm not having to cover for you much, you come to this naturally, I'll get you a drink."

In the back, Belinda told Pix, "prepare the special." Pix smiled and got the black liquid out of the refrigerator. Belinda nodded while she prepared the ultra-cutesy feminine version of the uniform, designed for tall people. Belinda looked at the monstrosity for a few minutes and thought that she would be caught dead in it. Frilly, ultra-frilly long skirt that looked like something out of gone with the wind, ultra-long puffy sleeves, bow in the front, long flowing top that completely obscures any curves. Ick. Even a guy could pass as feminine in this one.

As the business died down for the night, Amano was setting down the last tray, while Belinda walked in with a glass of what appeared to be a black drink. "Amano, here's something for all the hard work, you need a breather." Belinda appeared a bit wobbly to Amano, and unaware of the floor. Yep, Belinda tripped, sending the liquid towards him. Figures. Amano quickly saw it and deflected with his bare hand as the liquid almost hit him. THe liquid ricocheted off the wall, off the ceiling, and onto both of them. BElinda said, "Run upstairs, fast.", and Amano could see exactly what was happening as Belinda's clothes appeared to dissolve. His were as well, but only the shirt. His pants were saved. Oh well, the loss of a pink shirt isn't too much of a loss. AMano rushed Belinda into the changing room, and asked Pix for another shirt. Pix smiled a bit and shrugged her shoulders, and offered a t-shirt. Amano counted his gains for the night. A good night's work. Around 9000 yen in tips. He might like this job, but he'll look at the other one as well. Just then, Belinda walked out the door. Amano gaped at the sight, Belinda was cute. The dress was a bit big on her, but it was cute. Belinda appeared incredulistic, like this wasn't happening to her. THis couldn't happen to her, she's the greatest! Plus Amano has that goofy grin on his face. "What are you looking at?"

Amano smiled and intentionally stuttered out the words, "It it looks really nice on you." Belinda gave a shaking of slight indignation, and then, a small stream of water from the washing machine.

Pix started to cry slightly. "The washer's broke again. I"m sowwy Amano and Belinda. You'll have to go home in that. The clothes will be ready tomorrow."

Belinda had the classic "Why me?" pose on her face, as Amano just shrugged. He could always get new clothes, it's not like he couldn't afford them. Amano then said, "Belinda, I'll take you home. DOn't worry, it's all over..."

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