Odaiba Memorial Day- 20 Years Later

Chapter Eight- Kari

Kari Takaishi stood on the bridge, leaning on the railing. The view of the night sky reflected on the canal below her, combined with the lights of the town made for a beautiful, picturesque view. A view one could fall in love looking at. But Kari was crying. Everything was going wrong. Her life had not turned out as promising as she had dreamed, and she could not think of any reason why her life should fall apart in front of her. And even Kari, who had once saved the world simply by being able to find the light in any situation, could not see any in the dark tunnel she was in. Nothing was ahead of her, and it was too late to turn around and go back. She was stuck. She had never been this unsure of her fate in her entire life. She had no idea what she could do to make things better. She glanced off to her left and saw Davis Motomiya, leaning on the same railing nearby. He didn't look much better. And at that moment, Kari didn't know whether Davis was part of the problem... or part of the solution.

--

TK knew that Davis was sick when he walked into his apartment. TK's manager worked with Davis and was quite angry to find Davis calling in sick. Still, TK's shocked look as he strolled in to find his wife holding Davis, comforting Davis, and caring deeply for Davis was not unusual. He simply stood there for a second, trying to let everything sink in. Kari continued to hold Davis, and waiting for TK to react. Kari couldn't tell if it was two seconds or two years before TK responded.

"Is he that bad?" Kari slowly nodded. TK approached and continued an interrogation, having a look at Davis, "What is it?"

"I think it's a headache. Bad one. A migraine." Kari finally let go of Davis and he slumped back on the couch.

"Ah. Is he going to be okay?"

"I hope so. I can't tell. Sometimes I think he's getting worse."

"Is it the same one from last night?" Kari was silently relieved that TK didn't read too much into the situation. At least she didn't have to worry about a jealous husband.

"I don't know. He looked better this morning, but collapsed in the elevator."

"Strange."

"I know." Kari looked over at Davis, silently trying to conserve whatever energy he had, "Try to get some more sleep. I can't think of anything else that would help right now. Call if you need anything, okay?" Kari patted Davis's forehead, then kissed TK quickly on the cheek as both headed out, "So how was work?"

"Don't even start..." TK obviously didn't want to go into it. That wasn't a good sign. Kari didn't prod further, as she was too preoccupied with Davis's condition to want to deal with TK's obviously bad day.
 

A tried and true medication for any of Davis's problems had always been physical activity. When in doubt, going out and working up a good sweat had always helped Davis out. And later that week, a soccer game seemed to be the answer. Work was work, but soccer was business, and Davis could have had leprosy and would still show up to play. And since it was a weekend, and tickets were pretty cheap, TK and Kari decided to attend as well, to watch their friend in action. There was no denying that it was a minor league team; the stadium was barely half-filled. But to the man sitting next to Kari, opposite TK, it could have been the Japanese national team. Sporting a baseball cap and a pennant clad with the team's logo, he was eagerly awaiting his team to vanquish the opponent. His shirt, apparently a genuine duplicate of the team's uniform, caught Kari off guard. The number in the back was #9, and after double-checking her program, Kari confirmed that it was the same number as defenseman Davis Motomiya.

If this guy's wearing Davis's uniform at the game, does that mean Davis is a star or something?

"Excuse me, is Davis really a big star on this team?" Kari asked. The fanatic looked at Kari.

"Who?"

"Davis Motomiya... you're wearing his number on your... shirt."

"Oh... Motomiya. Right. I've got all the uniforms of all the starters in my collection back home. It's really something. See, the way it works is that whoever's uniform I wear is gonna have good luck today. I usually wear the scoring leaders, or the goalie if we're playing a team that's big on offense."

"Uh huh." Kari should have known better than to ask.

"But today, all we need is a tie to clinch a playoff birth, so I'm going defense, defense, defense, baby! Why do you ask?"

"Well, I'm friends with Davis and I was a little curious. He didn't say anything about being a big star... which would be unexpected coming from him."

"Hey, everybody on this team does their part. It's the best team in the league in the best league in the world! Those World Cup people don't know what they're missing right here in Nerima!!" Kari rolled her eyes.

At least he's wearing a shirt period.

The game was a typical minor-league bout, and only mildly entertaining. Davis appeared perfectly healthy, and played a decent game... which was as much as anyone could expect from these guys. Eighty minutes through, the score remained 0-0, which had the nut next to Kari hooting up a storm. On Kari's other side, meanwhile, TK was visibly bored.

"Defensive battles are only fun when there are two good teams playing."

"Shh, I wouldn't upset this weirdo next to me if I were you. Besides, Davis is playing defense, so a scoreless game means that he's doing good."

"I guess." Kari could have admitted that if she didn't know one of the players, she would be bored as well, but decided to simply change the subject instead.

"Say, you still haven't told me how work's going."

"I don't want to upset you."

"Why, is it that bad?"

"Well, I think it is. I'm getting by okay. It's not bad work or strenuous or anything. It's just the manager. I have this strange feeling she hates me. It's just the way she looks at me, or the way she speaks to me. I don't know what it is."

"Oh, well have you tried talking to her? I'm sure she's a nice person when you get to know her."

"Well, yeah. There's just no getting through to her. Everything I say just seems to shoot right past her."

"Maybe we should invite her over for dinner some time..."

"Maybe we shouldn't. I don't want you to have to endure the misfortune of meeting Miss Bekomi as well." Kari smiled.

"Thanks for your concern. You're not worried about her firing you, are you?"

"I don't think that's a problem. To terminate somebody, she'd need the other four managers at the company to agree to it as well. I don't think the others have a good reason to fire me."

"Oh, well that's good. Well, I'm sure when she gets to know you, she'll find out how wonderful you are."

"Thanks." TK smiled and kissed Kari. It was broken rather quickly by the nutcase's screaming.

"Somebody cover that guy!! Get on it number nine!" He said it as if it would magically make Davis teleport in front of the opposing attacker in order to make a game-saving tackle. Davis however, must have blown his coverage, and by the time Davis got back on the guy, he had already made the shot, which sailed just under the crossbar, past the goalie's outstretched arms and into the net.

"Aw, too bad." TK was sincere, at least as much as his level of interest would allow. Kari felt pretty much the same. It was disappointing that it happened, but really didn't make that much difference either way. Davis, naturally, was slightly more down, as he walked back into position, shaking his head. Kari also noticed that his hand was rubbing his forehead. Kari didn't see what actually happened, and hoped that it wasn't another headache that triggered the error in judgment.

He's probably just wiping off some sweat. You played good Davis, don't let a little screw-up get to you. We don't need another migraine, do we?

Kari's train of thought was interrupted by the guy sitting next to her, who was bent over crying. She cautiously put a hand on his back, in an attempt to comfort him somewhat. She never could stand the sight of people in pain.

"It's okay... there's always next game, right?"

"I suppose... but still, it was right there and..." The man started crying into Kari's upper arm. Kari turned to TK.

"Wanna go home?" TK asked, dryly.

"Yes. Please."

That night, Kari and TK invited Davis over for dinner, as a way to cheer him up after the game. However, he refused, his migraine having flared up again. And Kari was to find that this was only the beginning of a prolonged problem. For the months to come, these massive headaches were commonplace, and forced him home from work almost once a week. Kari was obviously worried, and helped Davis whenever he was sick at home. Needless to say, his work was starting to suffer. Even when he was capable of working, the quality was lower even on his so-called "healthy" days. Kari learned that his friend at work, Mitzy, would frequently cover for him. Even so, he had used all his paid sick time before long, and had to agree to a reduction in pay simply to keep his job.

Davis said that he had visited a doctor about the matter, but that he was simply told that they were stress-related and given a few prescription drugs which did little more than ease the pain. Because of this, Kari decided to ask her own doctor when she went in for a regular check-up. It was only her second time visiting this doctor, but he looked nice enough.

"...and they're occurring once a week on average. He's having problems at work. I'm just really worried about him."

"Hmm... how hard is his work? These could be stress-related."

"His doctor already says they're stress-related, but I'm wondering if there's anything he can do besides take more codeine."

"Hmm... do you know the cause of his stress?" The doctor was only passively interested, but it was good enough for Kari.

"I'm not sure. There could be a lot of things..." Kari had one theory, which she didn't want to divulge to anybody. It wasn't pleasant to think about, and could be potentially embarrassing to everyone involved. Still, a professional like this doctor may as well hear it, since it explained a lot. Kari swallowed hard. "Like me... for one."

"You?"

"Yeah. It's just a guess, but it all started when my husband and I moved in upstairs."

"Well, that could be a coincidence. If you two just met, you couldn't cause the kind of stress that..."

"That's just it- we haven't just met. We knew each other in high school. He kind of had a... a crush on me."

"Uh huh... that's nothing unusual."

"I didn't think so at the time. He would go a little bit overboard once in awhile, but he was still one of my friends. I still liked him. I just... liked TK more."

"TK? Your husband?"

"Yeah. We were all in the same class. We didn't really show off our relationship much, especially when Davis was around, but I think he still knew."

"Hmm... keep going. What happened after he found out you got married?"

He sounds like he's just making small talk, but he's inquired more into this than anybody else I've seen.

"That's another thing- I don't think he knew about it. He moved right after we graduated. We didn't know where he ran off to, and he never got our wedding invitation. Then we moved in, and that's when the whole problem started."

"Hmm... the whole problem probably started back in high school. Did he ever get over that crush before he moved?"

"He didn't act quite as desperate, but I can't say that he was completely over me."

"Well, I'd hate to say it, but it's very possible that this infatuation may be the cause of his headaches."

"But why? It's been nine years since we graduated. Don't you think he'd..."

"He may have managed when he moved. He ran away from you, put you out of his life, and that worked for awhile. However, you suddenly reenter his life, with ironclad evidence that you are unavailable. Even if he was 'over you,' it would still be a shock to him. It's like quitting smoking cold turkey, succeeding, then living life with a cigarette hanging over your head. It's potentially traumatic." Kari looked down. She didn't want her suspicions to be confirmed, but if they were, at least it could help her find a solution to his problem.

"Is there anything we can do about it?"

"Well, infatuation-related stress headaches are very difficult to manage. I had a patient once who had something similar. However, he was able to make a full recovery after periodical psychiatric visits. I'd hate to say it, but it is a mental problem, and a psychiatrist would be the best one to help him through it. I see that patient often, I think he may have some information on the condition. I'll ask him to send some to you."

"Um... thank you." Kari was seriously thankful, but also worried. Was a shrink the only answer? If so, is this all because of a few bad judgments she had ten years prior. Could the way she tiptoed around her relationship with TK be the reason Davis is suffering now? She hated the thought, but there was no way she could get it out of her head. It was all her fault.

It was still in her head that night when she went to bed. TK was fairly tired after another long day of dealing with Miss Bekomi, but Kari had to talk to somebody about it. She wasn't sure how he'd react, but he at least deserved to know.

"I went to the doctor today..."

"Uh oh, what do you have?" TK tried to sound concerned, but his weary voice hid any worried intonations.

"I'm fine, but I asked him about Davis. He told me why he thinks Davis gets those headaches."

"Hmm?" TK was still more tired than concerned.

"He... said it might be because of me... and us." Kari couldn't help but say it in a worried tone.

"Oh yeah?" TK said with a yawn.

"Yeah... remember how we were so quiet about our relationship in high school so that Davis wouldn't get upset?"

"Uh huh..."

"It may have worked so well that he didn't find out about us until that one night we saw him... it might have been a shock to him, and that's why he's having the headaches. I think... he still might love me."

"Right..."

"I just feel so sorry for Davis. It's not his fault. And now he's suffering because of me and there's no way I can help him. I just feel so... helpless." Kari was met by a pair of arms wrapped around her body. TK was tired, but not tired enough to comfort his wife.

"Kari... every time you do this, worrying about everybody and stuff. Doing everything you possibly can to make sure everyone's happy. It just makes me love you more." TK followed up with a prolonged kiss to the neck. Before he could get too much farther, Kari brushed him away.

"Not now, I don't feel like it. I'm too worried about Davis." TK obliged, but offered one more word of wisdom before falling asleep.

"Just don't worry about it too much."

 

The fiasco didn't improve. Psychiatric therapy was expensive. Much too expensive for Davis's reduced salary, and not covered by any of his company's medical coverage. Kari continued to blame herself for the situation, and felt obliged to help Davis when he was home ill. Needless to say, she didn't actively pursue employment for herself. She also did little housework when Davis was home. Kari's life was certainly beginning to grow monotonous, and far below her expectations. Regardless, little things like Davis's smile when she was helping him kept her going, even if the hidden meaning of that smile was part of the reason he was so bad. About a month later, the monotony was broken on one particular day when Davis was home. Kari had just returned from lunch upstairs to see that Davis had somebody else looking over him when she got back.

"Hello? Davis, I'm back."

"Who's this?" The woman looked at Kari, partially threatened, partially threatening.

"Oh," Davis started, "You two haven't met, have you? Kari, this is Mitzy, she works with me." Kari smiled, recognizing the name, and greeted Mitzy with a handshake.

"Hi, nice to meet you, I'm Kari T..." Before Kari could continue, Davis let out a wail, although it sounded forced, as if he was interrupting Kari. Mitzy looked down at Davis.

"What is it?" She asked, looking just as concerned as Kari had been when she was watching over Davis.

"Nothing... just a little pang. It happens." Davis replied, then smiled briefly, "Any pain I'm in suddenly disappears when I know that I'm in the care of two beautiful angels." Mitzy was flattered. Kari smiled a little, moreso because he directed the compliment at Mitzy as much as to herself.

Maybe there's hope yet.

"Uh, Davis, if Mitzy's here to take care of you, I'm going to head on back, okay?" Kari figured that Mitzy and Davis did have a strong friendship, and didn't want to get in the way of it turning into more.

"I suppose. Thanks for dropping by."

"Yeah. I should get back anyway, TK said his manager was going to let him off early today. Needless to say, he was quite surprised." Davis nodded in understanding as Kari headed out. However, she didn't get far before Mitzy added her two cents.

"Excuse me... TK?" Mitzy's kind tone had suddenly turned into hostile surprise. Kari turned around.

"Yeah. My husband."

"TK Takaishi?" Mitzy practically spit out the name. Kari nodded. Mitzy turned to Davis.

"Excuse me, Davis. Your two beautiful angels have to have a little talk." Davis put a hand to his forehead. He could only fear the worst as Mitsune Bekomi led Kari out the door.

Mitsune quietly shut the door. She didn't want to get Davis involved with this. She shook her head and muttered the name as they started walking.

"TK Takaishi. Quite frankly, I'm surprised. You look so nice too."

"What do you mean? TK's..."

"I know TK. I'm his manager and it's just sad to see he wants to take someone like you down with him." Kari started to put two and two together.

"Wait a minute... are you Miss Bekomi?" Mitsune nodded in understanding, and even added a chuckle.

"Miss Bekomi... that sounds right. I have no doubt that he's come home whining and complaining about his 'evil' manager Miss Bekomi that works him long hours and breathes down his throat all day. That sounds just like him."

"That's you?!" Mitsune laughed at the response.

"From his description, I'm sure you half-expected me to have horns on my head. I love it... he is so pathetic."

This is her? TK made her sound so nasty. Anybody who can care for Davis like that can't be that bad. What's worse is that she knew TK would say those things about her. What's going on?

"Um... what is wrong with TK? I've known him for almost twenty years and he's the nicest..."

"Nice has nothing to do with it. He's nice. That's not the problem. The problem is with his drive."

"His drive?"

"Or lack thereof. People like that disgust me. Show up to work, do what you're told, go home, complain to the wife, rinse and repeat. No motivation, no guts... no balls."

"Look, I've known him a lot longer than..." Kari tried taking the defensive, but Mitsune had a counter for everything.

"That's half the problem. People change Kari, and if you're looking at him as the same person you fell in love with twenty years ago you aren't looking at him the right way. I just met him a few months ago, I have a better idea what he's like today. And at this rate, it's what he'll be like for years to come. Stuck in the same meaningless job, with absolutely no intention of climbing the ladder. He acts like he doesn't care. If he thinks I'm hard on him, he's probably right. I don't tolerate people like that. I want motivated people who are able to take life by the horns and not let go. Like Davis."

"Look, me and TK..."

"Kari, you look like a very good person. And if half the things Davis has told me about you are true, than you are a very strong-willed individual who can go far in life. You are definitely way too good for the likes of Takaishi."

"Mitzy, I..."

"Kari..." Mitsune paused. She sighed quickly. "Do you like Davis?" Kari was taken aback.

"Um... well... we were friends in high school, and we're still good friends now, so..." She didn't want to play down her friendship with Davis, but also didn't want to create the impression that she liked him in any other way than as a friend. Unfortunately, she had never quite mastered that skill.

"I like Davis." Mitsune sighed again as they reached Kari's apartment, then continued, "And if you want to be with him... I won't get in the way." Mitsune put a hand on Kari's shoulder, as if to accentuate the point, "I'm willing to let my own feelings slide if it means I can help you out, especially if it helps Davis too. Because trust me Kari, your husband is going nowhere fast. Takaishi's a sinking ship... and I'd get on a liferaft if I were you." Kari was almost appalled, but at the same time, Mitsune's words had hit home. Kari quietly snuck into the apartment, but Mitsune caught a quick look inside, and saw the unimproved living conditions. "About what I expected." She muttered once, then turned around. Kari sat down on the couch. Regardless of the implications of Mitsune's words, she had to let them sink in. It was clear that Mitsune was advising Kari to leave TK. What was foggy was whether or not it was good advice. And no matter how much Kari contemplated it, she couldn't reach a conclusion.

 

About a week later, Davis was at home again. He had tried to go to work, but about mid-way through, another headache flared up and he left early. It was about mid-afternoon. Kari was tending to him when the phone rang. She answered. It was Mitsune.

"Hello, Kari?"

"Oh, hi Mitzy. Do you want to speak to Davis?"

"Yes I do. But first... this could be your last warning."

"What do you mean?"

"I wouldn't want to tempt fate, but if you do- you'll find out soon enough. Could you put him on now?" Kari was perplexed, but handed the phone to Davis.

"Davis? It's Mitzy." Kari handed the phone to Davis. Mitsune was a very strange individual, and her proclamation of a "last warning" was one more patch of fog covering the answer to Kari's problems.

"Hey Mitz..." Davis tried to sound healthy, but he said that the headache was quite bad this time around, "yeah, yes I did. Why?" Another pause. "I'm not in a good mood right now Mitzy, I was trying to make it all week and my head just started pounding at work. What were they anyway?" Davis looked at Kari, concerned, "Yeah, yeah, it's fine, just don't ask me to take credit for it or anything. I wasn't feeling too good today, I wasn't completely aware of..." Davis paused and listened, then smiled quickly, "Yeah, you're welcome. Just leave me out of it, okay? Please? Thanks." Davis hung up the phone, and as he handed it back to Kari, he took her hand and did not let go of it.

"Kari..." Davis began, with the uttermost seriousness in his eyes, "I want you to put away the phone, and go upstairs."

"Why?"

"Just do it. I want you to go upstairs, sit on your couch, and just wait for TK. Okay? Promise me you'll do that."

"Um... okay." Kari wasn't sure what Davis was doing, but she hung up the phone and started out. She turned back to Davis, "Are you going to be okay?"

"No... I won't. But for now... just be ready for anything." Kari did what she was told, and waited for TK. Although it was the usual time for him to come home, he wasn't to arrive. After another half hour, Kari started on some menial chores, but continued to wait, with no idea what it was for. TK didn't arrive home until dark, and when he did, he was clearly a mess.

"TK... what happened?" Kari walked up to him, and instead of answering, he held up a slip of paper. Kari took it, and right at the top was the header that said it all- "Termination Notice." Kari looked up at TK, confused.

"But I thought you said that all five..."

"Look at the bottom." TK very quietly muttered. Sure enough, at the bottom were the signatures of the five managers at the company. The top two were Mitsune Bekomi and Davis Motomiya. Kari shook her head.

"There's got to be some..." Kari stopped mid-sentence when she thought about everything that transpired that afternoon in Davis's apartment: Mitzy's warning, Davis's phone conversion, his instructions for her to be there for TK- it all added up. This was no mistake. Kari headed to the door. "I've got to go talk to..."

"No you don't." TK said it very slowly, accenting every word as if to make his command crystal clear.

"TK, he's probably just as distraught about all this as you are, he said that he wasn't feeling that good, Mitzy probably forced it out of him." TK started walking around, visibly angry.

"Oh yeah, that's right. Davis is such good friends with that bitch Bekomi. I'm sure he'll do anything for her, he doesn't care about his other friends."

"They're good friends, and Davis certainly doesn't think she's a bitch. I don't either. Now I just need to talk to Davis to find out why..."

"Kari, even if you're right, Davis should at least have enough of a backbone to stick up for his friends and not let her walk over him like this."

"He wasn't feeling well today."

"I don't care if he had the black plague, he should still read something before he signs it. And for God's sake Kari, would you stop defending him? If you're right about why he has this problem, tending to him every day doesn't help him out, does it? Just leave him alone, okay? You're my wife, and there are times when I think you forget that." TK sounded like that was on his mind for a long time, and was finally being let out now. Kari was absolutely shocked. He sounded like he had absolutely no concern for Davis, or what he was going through.

"TK..." Kari began, but was interrupted.

"Sometimes I wonder if he's not just faking this all to get back at me for marrying you. This is all just probably some sick form of revenge, you know?" TK looked at Kari, shaking his head. Kari stared into TK's eyes. There was no remorse. He sounded serious. He looked serious. Kari could tell that Davis was not faking an illness to get her attention. Kari could tell that Davis didn't enjoy signing TK's pink slip. And Kari was now starting to see TK in a whole new light. She saw TK from a whole new perspective entirely- from Mitsune's.

He has changed. He doesn't care about his friends, he's not thinking rationally. He's angry at me too.

Kari's eyes started to swell up, and before TK could realize what was going on, she was marching out the door. As she left, she could hear TK calling. Just a simple plea, sad and fearful, more afraid than angry. "Kari?" She ignored it and continued.

--

"Davis?" Davis was as sad as ever, and looked at the canal in despair, until he turned his head at Kari.

"How'd he take it?"

"I couldn't take it anymore. He was just... inhuman. He didn't care about you at all. I don't know what I'm supposed to do now." Kari had no real plan when she ran out. She didn't know when she'd go back. She didn't know if she'd go back.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't blame yourself Davis. I'm sure you have a good reason for it, despite what TK thinks. I just don't know what I'm going to do now."

"What do you mean?"

"It's like I don't know him anymore. I can't remember the last time I've been really, truly happy since we moved. Sometimes I think that it just wasn't meant to be. Sometimes I think... sometimes I think that Mitzy's right about him." Davis turned to Kari, looking shocked.

"Kari?"

"You know, Davis, I do care about you a lot. You are a very important friend to me, even if I can't say I love you." Kari put her hand on his shoulder, "Not yet anyway." Davis quickly turned and put both of his hands on Kari's shoulders. Kari closed her eyes, not sure what to expect.

"Kari, this is important to me. I want you to turn around, go home, and talk to TK." Kari opened her eyes. Davis was absolutely serious, and a little choked up as well. He continued, "I don't want to see you like this Kari, I can't believe what you're saying."

"Davis, if you're sick over me..."

"Even if these headaches are because of you, that doesn't give you any reason to leave TK. Kari, if being with you would make my problem instantly go away, then I'd be cured already. You've been doing so much for me, and if I were to start thanking you, I wouldn't be able to stop. I refuse to believe that simply loving you is the problem."

"Davis..." Kari could tell that this was really hard for Davis to say, and that his headache, already massive from the afternoon, must have been terrible. He continued, struggling with the next part of his speech. He hated having to talk about it.

"Now I want you to go home and make up with... TI and do whatever it is you two do when I'm not around. Please."

"Well, you don't know how he acted. He was like... he was like..."

"What? Like he just got fired? How would you expect him to act? If he's blaming me, he has a reason to. It's my fault, Kari. It's not his, and it's definitely not yours. I should've took a closer look at what Mitzy wanted me to sign. And if he's going to hate me for the rest of his life, I'd rather he let it out on me than have him let it out on you. Trust me Kari, he's not to blame. Mitzy's always been on him too, I've tried talking to her about it. She won't listen." Davis looked down, rubbed his forehead a few times, and continued. "One thing's for sure: it's a lot easier to deal with costing someone their job than to deal with costing someone their marriage. And the last thing I want to do is get in the way of your marriage. So please, don't make things worse than they already are."

Kari looked at Davis again. She almost couldn't believe what he was saying. But at the same time, everything he said sounded so... right. TK meant the world to Kari, and she almost threw him aside without thinking twice. And of all people, it was Davis that prevented her from making a horrible mistake. Kari smiled, and quickly kissed Davis on the cheek. At the very least, he deserved that. Davis smiled back at Kari, and whispered one word, barely audible- "Go." And she did, going back home to help her husband cope with the loss of his job. But at the same time, her mind was going a mile a minute. Perhaps Davis's problem was a lot more complicated than she had originally thought.

This was one of my weakest moments. I'd hate to admit it, but if he really wanted me, I may have obliged. Our lives could have been turned upside down tonight, and he made sure that they didn't. If this whole problem is because of his infatuation for me, he wouldn't be like this. This has to be something deeper, something beyond what I can help him through. Something that really is best left to the professionals. Davis, you may have very well saved my life today, and I will not forget this. Mark my words- I don't know how I'm going to do it, but someday I'm going to help you get better. And who knows, maybe if you get better, then maybe I can find happiness as well.

Kari continued towards her husband, but turned around to take another look at Davis. He was crouched down, with his head between his knees. She stopped, and was about to turn back when Davis made a motion to her. A motion to keep going towards TK. And she did.

The problems were not solved. In fact, things were getting worse. But at the same time, on the way back to reconciling with TK, Kari saw what she was looking for. The tunnel was dark, immense, and winding, but for a brief second, Kari saw a flicker of light. As small as it was, its contrast with the darkness was undeniable. It wasn't much, but for Kari- it was enough to keep her going for now.

 

Author's Notes
As said before, the ending I had envisioned was a bit different. It was originally going to end when Kari walked out the door. But after receiving many comments claiming how depressing this was, I decided to continue and add this part. And after writing it, I like it a lot better this way. We're in the dark, middle part of the fic where everybody's supposed to be miserable, but people can only take so much! This was starting to get to the point where I risked turning people off to the fic if I got any worse, and I certainly like this a lot better than stringing you through another two chapters in regards to the whole Takari thing. I'm not an angst writer, nor am I a huge fan of angst. In fact, one characteristic of my writing (whether it's a flaw or not is up to you to decide) is that I can't write long term projects without at least a little humor to lighten the mood (c'mon, don't tell me you don't know anybody that acts like that soccer nut). Since this was what was going to happen anyway, I don't regret putting it here for a second. The situation in this plotline is far from rosy, and Joe and Yolei's chapters should be depressing enough for anybody. But at least we now know that there's hope... and light of course.

Well, as said before, I think I can put your fears to rest. I am a Takari fan, and was pretty bummed that they didn't hook up at the end of the series. I really do like Davis as well, and I certainly think that Davis redeemed himself at the end of this chapter. I have no doubts that a few people aren't big fans of TK after this chapter, but he's got chapter eleven still so I don't care. Still, for those keeping score at home, of the nine relationships I said I'd address at the beginning, Takari is the only one that's pretty solid. Daiyako and Mimoe are still up for grabs, and Dakari, Kenako, Kouyako, Sorato, and Taiora are pretty much dead in the water... for now at least. Of course, once the reunion hits- all bets are off.

For the Ranma fans out there, I'll let you decide for yourself whether or not the doctor Kari talked to was Dr. Tofu. Again, I'll stress that having this plotline set in Nerima was simply a reference, and not a crossover invitation. However, if you are a fan of Dr. Tofu, you are free to interpret the scene as you wish. But rest assured, he will not be seen dancing with skeletons named Lucy in any future chapters. As for Mitsune, she acts nothing like her Love Hina counterpart. The only reference is in the name. In fact, of all the original characters named after anime characters, the only one who acts anywhere close to their namesake is Tai's friend Kintaro.

Well, with four chapters left before the reunion, let's close off one of the four plotlines.
Chapter Nine- Joe
Through all of his hardships, Joe Kido has done what he had considered impossible before. He has accomplished so many of his goals and is now left to live in the spoils. He has his dream job, his dream house, and his dream spouse in Mimi Tachikawa. But after all of this, why would he, of all people, be unhappy? Perhaps the perfect job, the perfect house, and the perfect wife still doesn't add up to having the perfect life.