The summer of Sage Datier’s twenty-first birthday was a summer to remember. Firstly, he had successfully completed the required amount of training necessary for him to become a certified practitioner of kendo. His family rejoiced. It was also around this time when it was decided that Sage should finally spread his wings and leave the nest for good, and his folks gave him three days to pack all his belongings and get the hell out of Dodge before he was disinherited. Sage, confused and perturbed, took his things and reluctantly departed. His family rejoiced.
Now temporarily derelict and with no idea where to go, the blond turned to his four old friends for help, whom he was soon to discover all had lives of their own by now. He swung by Cye’s place first, assured that he would get free room and board from the group empath, but found to his dismay that Cye was out at sea taking a marine biology course for extra credit in college next semester and wouldn’t be back until hurricane season. Sage could have easily picked the lock and made himself at home but that just wasn’t courteous, he decided.
Sage, with his entire horde of suitcases, then looked up Ryo’s address in the phone book and headed over to the tiny apartment complex where he lived. He caught Ryo on his way out, equipped with an enormous net of soccer balls and decked out in futbol garb like Pele. Ryo apologized and explained that his girls (the fifteen some-odd young ladies ranging from ages 6 to 9 that he was coaching for extra pay that summer) were practicing for a big tournament in a few days and that they needed every second of scrimmaging they could manage. Ryo also meekly explained that he just didn’t have the room (or the furniture, for that matter) to accommodate Sage.
Halo’s next target would have been Rowen, but his blue haired companion had already written Sage that he would be over in the U.S. with his dad, on a tour with the IAAP (International Association of Astronomers and Physicists). Mia was currently living on campus at Shinshei University to earn extra hours for her teaching degree.
So that left only Kento.
Sage swallowed his guts and pointed his caravan toward the shady side of town.
There was a knock on the door of Kento Rei Fuan’s rather Eurotrash-style apartment residence and the jaunty, muscular Ronin opened up and was shocked to see his slender, blond and very travel-worn looking friend in the hallway.
Kento blinked. “Well . . . Hey, Sage. What’s up? Are those suitcases?”
Sage looked miserably at the floor as he mumbled in a barely audible voice, “Can I stay with you for a few days . . .”
“Huh? What happened?”
“My parents made me move out yesterday and I need some time to gather my thoughts and find a place of my own. None of the other guys have time or room for me so . . . you’re my last hope.”
Kento looked surprised to say the least. He and Sage had never hit it off as friends, although on occasion they’d hit each other. They lived in two separate worlds that were completely obtuse, and even cooperating together to save the world from a King Kong-sized demon was a challenge. Their attitudes were different, their tastes were different, their ideas were different; they were oil and water personified, and both were well aware of it.
“I promise not to get in the way,” Sage said, as if reading the thoughts between them. “I can sleep in the bathtub if you-”
“Don’t be retarded, dude,” Kento chided as he took the young man by the arm and led him inside. “Sure you can stay. Uh, I work during the day Monday through Thursday regular hours and sometimes Friday and Saturday nights so you won’t see much of me.”
Works for both of us , Sage thought, inspecting a cluttered end table that was positively driving him mad with the unstacked magazines and coffee rings. “I can even . . .” He leaned down and tried to inconspicuously neaten the mess. “. . . clean up a little around here during the-”
“Don’t touch anything,” Kento said sharply, and Sage hastily withdrew his hands like a scolded child. “You don’t have to do anything. This is my place, after all,” he said, giving the impression that if Sage were to so much as sit on the couch he’d be cast into Purgatory. “And . . . Well, you’re my guest so don’t work, don’t clean up or anything, you’re no maid . . .”
“Well, you’re certainly no housekeeper,” Sage commented, peering into the kitchen with counters cluttered with dirty dishes, cereal boxes and cooking appliances.
Kento glowered and bit back, “My flat, my rules. I like living this way.”
“What, like a barbarian?” Sage had drifted into the kitchen, grimacing at the overflowing table of junk. “Martha Stewart would just die.”
“I didn’t ask Martha Stewart and I didn’t ask you, so get your things and take ‘em to the room at the end of the hall on the right,” Kento snapped. “You can sleep in there. It’s more or less the junk room, but it’s got a futon in there and a small dresser,” he added grudgingly.
“Thanks,” Sage said softly, turning and walking with his suitcases down the hall.
Kento sighed heavily and tried not to dwell on the fact that he had just made a really huge error in taking Sage in. But he was his friend . . . sorta. He couldn’t just say no, could he? How could anyone shut the door in the face of a fellow comrade in arms?
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