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                        PHOEBUS APOLLO ;
                            earnest, charming, determined × pessimistic, melodramatic, worrywart

                        OHAYASHI KAZUKO ;
                            friendly, driven, cheerful × unrefined, insecure, talkative
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                        _______IT WAS LIKE A
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            It was a beautiful day at Mount Olympus, the dwelling place of the gods.

            The sky, though cloudless, was a vivid azure shade. White sun rays cast down on the magnificent structures that stood on various pikes, giving them an ethereal glow unmatched by any mortal creation. A gentle breeze blew over the vast expanse of Olympus, carrying the soothing song of the Muses and putting at ease the heart of anyone fortunate enough to hear it. Even the lush flora thriving abundantly about the mountain seemed to exude an unnatural brilliance akin to the gods themselves.

            All the splendor and grandeur of Olympus, however, could not lighten the mood of a certain god pacing furiously in one of the more obscure gardens on the mountain.

            Phoebus Apollo was unnaturally restless that day, having just circled the entire circumference of the gazebo he was in for the seventieth time. And it didn't seem as though he was going to stop any time soon. His eyes, normally a striking hue of liquid diamond, were dull and downcast, and if the dark circles beneath them weren't indication enough, there was a certain weariness to his form that showed an obvious lack of sleep. The immortal's normally placid disposition had also been replaced with an aura of moroseness that hung heavily in the air around him.

            Apollo let out a bitter sigh, brushing away a stray strand of sun-gold hair that had fallen into his face. What in Tartarus was he going to do about the sticky situation he'd gotten himself into? Damn it all. He should have known better than to get on that winged twerp's bad side... again. After all, Apollo had already witnessed first-hand all the trouble Eros could cause with even just a slight graze from his arrows. But he simply couldn't help himself. That spotted robe the boy had donned to Zeus's banquet was just begging to be made fun of. It was a shocking shade of pink, for crying out loud. Not to mention those feathered wings of his that only served to further accentuate the ridiculousness of the outfit. Then again, perhaps it would have been better if Apollo had exercised a bit more tact with his words... and drunken a bit less ambrosia. If he'd done so, then he probably wouldn't have gone over to Eros, smacked him on the back, and whispered, "Are you sure you didn't mistake this banquet for the tea party being held next door by your mother for her lady friends?" In retrospect, it wasn't even that clever an insult. But the god of love had taken offense anyway, and had sworn that he'd exact revenge by marking Apollo's history with yet another account of him getting jilted by a woman.

            'As if the list weren't long enough already,' Apollo sighed, finally deciding to stop pacing around. He still hadn't quite gotten over Coronis, who'd cavorted around with a mortal man even though she already had him. It couldn't be his looks – Phoebus Apollo was the perfect personification of handsome. He was a god, after all. Quote the mortal poets from down below, he had locks the color of golden sunshine, piercing blue eyes that were impossible to tear away from, et cetera, et cetera. Either Coronis was blind (which Apollo knew she damn well wasn't) or Eros had decided to interfere with his love life yet again. He was banking on the latter for reasons that were more obvious than the fact that the winged god had arrows that could make anyone and anybody, mortal or immortal, fall head over heels in love.

            After a few more arduous moments of dwelling on past loves, Apollo stood up and walked away from the gazebo, still quite melancholic. What had he been thinking, surrounding himself with laurel trees? They reminded him of Daphne, a nymph who'd chosen to live as a tree than to be his lover. 'All thanks to almighty god of love, Eros.' Apollo thought, letting out another plaintive sigh. Apparently, love trumped healing, prophecy and music any day.

            Ah, well. There was nothing he could do about it. Sooner or later, during one of his more unguarded moments, an arrow was going to fly straight towards him and pierce him in the heart, causing him to fall for a woman. And then the god of prophecy was going to chase foolishly after said woman, who would most likely detest his attentions because Eros would've made sure to shoot an arrow of lead at her. The all-too-familiar series of unfortunate events would end with the girl a) dying, b) transforming into a tree or animal, or c) cowering in the arms of another man. Finally, it would all end up recorded in the mortals' history texts as another entry under 'Apollo's Fruitless Love Conquests', over which they would mutter things like "Poor Apollo." or even worse, "There must be something wrong with him, or he'd probably have had more successful endeavors in romance."

            Apollo walked down the limestone path leading to the Great Hall where dinner was being held, finally having resigned himself to his fate. There was no more hiding, no more running away. He was going to live through another love story – one that was not going to end up well for him or the other party. He could only hope that the pain it would inflict upon his heart wouldn't be too harsh.

            And so Apollo continued his walk, still lost in self-pity. In fact, he was so absorbed in his reverie that he never noticed the winged silhouette that continued to follow him.


BABY, WE'RE LIKE A TIME BOMB
BUT I NEED ITneedit▪ ▪ ▪needitWOULDN'T HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY
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                        _______IT WAS LIKE A
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            Several uneventful weeks had passed since that episode in the gazebo.

            Apollo had long since forgotten the mishap concerning Eros, mainly because the younger god had not brought the matter up in quite a while. It was common knowledge in Olympus that merely offending the touchy god of love or pricking his pride would earn no less than two years' worth of sermons from both him and his mother (Aphrodite indulged her son's every whim) – that, or a swift punishment dealt out by his arrows. Nothing new had come up since then, and though Apollo had kept his guard up for a week or two, he eventually fell back into the normal rhythm of everyday life.

            Being the god of prophecy, healing, and music was no easy title to hold. Every week, Apollo had to check up on the Oracle of Delphi at least thrice to ensure that the prophecies she was so known for were actually ones he'd sent to her. There had been one time when an Oracle had decided to take matters upon her own hands and make predictions that she thought clever. That, of course, only led to disaster and caused quite a stir in the mortal world. For a long time, people were wary of going to Delphi to have their futures revealed to them. Zeus hadn't been pleased, and Apollo had to pay for his Oracle's foolishness. Since then, he'd been very careful in choosing who was to succeed as Oracle.

            Among his other duties was taking care of the Muses. It wasn't so much a task as it was a pleasure, but it had its downsides all the same. The Muses were a lively lot, and they were some of the most beautiful creatures residing in Olympus. Other gods envied Apollo for being in charge of them, but there were many times when he'd been willing to give the assignment up to them. After all, one could only stand the sound of high-pitched giggles and girlish teasing for so long.

            Adding those to the fact that he had to answer those who prayed to him and grant blessings to the devoted ones who worshipped in his temple, it was obvious that Apollo had barely enough time for his own enjoyment and relaxation, let alone worry about the vengeance a certain other god had yet to exact.

            This apparent mundanity of life had, however, ended with a single dream that came to him one fateful night.

            Dreams were nothing new to Apollo. He'd had millions of them, ranging from matchmaking couples and the romantic trysts of mortals to victors of wars and founders of lands. Yet this one dream had been special: there had been nothing prophetic about it, at least not to him. This dream had involved a mortal... one of the most beautiful he'd ever laid eyes on. She'd evoked in him certain feelings he hadn't experienced in a long, long time... desire? Addiction? Whatever those emotions were, they had been powerful to overwhelm even him.

            The dream had been excruciatingly short; Apollo had only an instant to see her face and grasp her delicate hands in his before he had been shaken back to reality by a force he knew not. But those few seconds had been enough to ingrain her image into his mind, and at that moment, he'd had only one goal: to see her again. Well, that, and to make her his.

            And what better way to do so than to engage in the age-old tradition of the gods that was taking on a human disguise?

            These were the exact thoughts running through Apollo's mind as he traversed the asphalt-paved roads that current mortal trends seemed to have dictated. He had arrived in the human realm five days prior; however, he still couldn't quite get used to how much it had changed. The pristine blue skies had transformed into ones of a dull blue shade, and instead of the familiar scent of nature, the only thing the Olympian could smell was the sharp smell of smog and nicotine. Even the people seemed different, their auras... darker, in a way.

            Perhaps it was because this place was 'America' – the apparent homeland of the beautiful vision in his dream. Or it could also be due to the fact that he'd somehow propelled himself into the future. Whatever the cause, Apollo had tried his best to learn as much as he could about the era and integrate himself in it. And he'd managed to succeed – somewhat, anyway. Though he blended in well enough from the outside, internally, he felt lost and disoriented.

            'I guess I'll eventually get used to it,' the god thought, absent-mindedly picking at a lock of ash-gold hair. What he should focus on right now was getting to the coffee brewing shop – café, they called it – wherein he'd managed to land a job through a bit of 'convincing'. It was the same place, of course, where his goddess-to-be worked.

            A few minutes later, Apollo found himself staring up at a large, stylish sign that read 'Red Sun'. He'd finally arrived. And in just a moment more, he'd be seeing... her.


BABY, WE'RE LIKE A TIME BOMB
BUT I NEED ITneedit▪ ▪ ▪needitWOULDN'T HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY
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                      LIKE A DAZZLING REFLECTION ! IN THE SKY
                      kazukazuko▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅
                      kazukazukazukazukazukazuko YOUR HEART CAN'T COVER UP THE LOOK OF LONELINESS ━ ━

                      kazukazuko▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅ 小林果須子
                      kazukazuko▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅━ ━ ━ ━ ━ ━ OHAYASHI KAZUKO
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          It was a bright, sunny morning, the kind that brought to mind the sweet sound of chirping birds and the dewy freshness of newly-cut grass. It was also the morning of Kazuko's first day of school, and as was to be expected, the Ohayashi house was simply bursting with chaotic activity.

          "Onii-chan!" Breathless from having rushed down the staircase too fast, Kazuko sagged on the kitchen doorway and closed her eyes. The current situation was, to put it simply, looking quite grim. Her long, wavy chestnut locks were in total disarray, and a stray smear of toothpaste near the corner of her mouth had yet to garner any notice. Moreover, she was still clad in her pajamas – if you could call her brother's too-large shirt that. Obviously, Kazuko Ohayashi was far from ready to go to school, and she only had less than an hour to get everything done and catch the morning train.

          There was, of course, only one person who could be responsible for such a mess. Or, taking into consideration that one was never without the other, two.

          "Have you seen either Jun or Kazu?" Kazuko opened her honey-brown eyes and scanned the room for any sign of her two meddlesome siblings. Finding none, she looked up sharply, only to meet the pitying look of her eldest brother. Hiro Ohayashi was a good eight years older than her, which meant he usually ended up taking care of any household problems. Their father also went off to work in the wee hours of the morning and usually arrived home late at night, leaving Hiro in charge of the rest of the family. Fortunately, he took his responsibilities seriously, and Kazuko had little doubt that without him, she would have long ago fallen prey to insanity (or something far, far worse).

          "Did you check the living room? You know they're always hanging around there." Hiro said with a small smile before turning back to the breakfast he was in the process of making. "You better be back here in time for the deviled eggs, alright?" Kazu gave him a quick smile and nodded before practically diving to the living room. Sure enough, the two demons were lounging about on the couch while watching a football game. Irritated and a little more than willing to pick a fight, she went over to the television and planted herself firmly in front of the screen.

          "I believe you have something of mine that you ought to give back now?"

          ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ 違う自分に気付いている ▅ ▅


          Roughly 25 minutes later, the seventeen-year old girl found herself panting in a most unladylike manner as she stared along the sights that seemed to fly by the train's windows. Somehow, she had miraculously managed to fix herself up, look decent, eat the wonderful breakfast her brother had prepared, and leave the house with everything packed – all in less than half an hour. She had even managed to sneak in a swift beating for Jun and Kazu for taking her old diary journal from her closet. Though she was tired and probably sweating like mad, Kazuko felt accomplished.

          It was, however, short-lived. As she bent down to lift her luggage onto the overhead compartment, she noticed an awfully familiar notebook peeping out from one of the pockets. 'Oh, for crying out loud. Don't tell me I...' She furrowed her eyebrows. Damn, but she did. She had accidentally brought along the diary that she used to keep up until three years ago; the old notebook that she had sworn never to read again.

          It was too late to do anything about it, so Kazuko decided she was simply going to have to keep it out of her sight once she got to Midori Academy. Willing herself to forget about the mishap, she leaned back and let out a deep breath. Summer was over, and though she knew a part of her was going to miss it, the knowledge that she was going to be back at school thrilled her immensely.

          'This year, I'm going to work my way up to white rank for real.' With that thought in mind, Kazuko stretched her legs out in front of her, earning a disapproving stare from the little old lady beside her. She could care less, however: the morning's events had taken their toll on her and all she wanted to do was sleep. And that she did.

          After what seemed to be only five minutes, Kazuko was rudely awakened by some shouting. Apparently, she'd accidentally smacked the wizened prune beside her with her foot while she was napping, and the woman was not very happy. As she was only half-awake, Kazuko failed to hear most of the lady's angry rant, which included "Who do you think you are?" and "You must be a man to hit that hard!". Blinking back sleep, she stood up and bowed multiple times while apologizing. As luck would have it, the train chose that very moment to arrive at Midori Academy, saving her from any further rebuke or humiliation.

          She hadn't even taken ten steps into the school before a wary-looking bellboy stepped up to her to take her things. Kazuko gave them up without a word, though she could have sworn she heard the guy mutter, "Oh, so not everyone's like that weirdo purple-haired girl after all." After being informed of the day's tea social, she decided not to waste any time getting there.

          Kazuko sprinted as fast as was humanly possible and managed to get to the café within a few minutes. As soon as she entered, she gave the room a once-over to see if she knew anyone there. Bingo! Her eyes zeroed in on Taro.

          She sauntered over to him and gave him what she thought was friendly smack on the head. "Hey, Taro! Good to see you! Isn't it great that we're all here again? Aren't you excited? I am! Oh, I hope we get to be seatmates again. Wasn't last year kind of fun? I think it was enjoyable enough. I'll have you know that I've been practicing..." Kazuko stopped mid-sentence, having just noticed that it wasn't just Taro at the table. There was Emi and... Tetsu, too.

          "Hey, Emi!" She gave her a big smile before slowly turning to Tetsu. "H-hey, T-tet... Tetsu." Kazuko could feel her whole face freezing up. Oh, dear. She turned and ran as far away as she could from the table, only to bump into Akina, who was sitting with a boy whose name she couldn't quite remember. She'd seen him around a lot, though, so he probably wasn't new to Midori.

          "Sorry about that, my bad." Kazuko apologized to Akina, although a part of her wondered why she even bothered. Talking to Akina usually meant getting accused of being an identity-stealer.
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                        _______IT WAS LIKE A
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            Apollo had just been about to enter the café and meet destiny face-to-face when something - or rather, someone - came slipping out of the door and onto the concrete sidewalk. Everything happened in less than a second, but to the Olympian, time seemed to slow down completely at that exact moment. A sudden gust of sweet-smelling wind wafted around him while he watched, transfixed, as she tumbled to the ground in a manner which he could only describe as graceful. A few locks of long, blond hair that had escaped from her updo trailed beautifully behind her figure as she threw her slender arms up into the air. The tray that had flown up along with them made a loud clatter as it hit the ground, but Apollo was too much preoccupied with the ethereal visage before him. The moment he saw that adorable, open-mouthed expression amid the rain of freshly-baked muffins, he knew there was no escaping it now.

            He was head over heels in love with this girl, and he was going to do everything in his power to have her. He didn't care that Fate (courtesy of his fellow god Eros) was against it. He didn't care that there was still that tiny fact that they'd never even spoken a word to each other. He didn't care that she was someone he could probably never have. He didn't care that his brain was practically screaming at him, warning him of imminent danger.

            He simply wanted her, and he wanted her badly.

            Suddenly, she was gone. She had disappeared almost as quickly as she had appeared. Apollo cursed mentally. He thought he had heard her say something about muffins, but he'd been too busy watching her that he hadn't noticed. Upon realizing that he had also just missed a chance to catch her before she hit the ground (and thus be able to sweep her off her feet like some sort of mythological prince), he cursed again.

            Determined to redeem himself, he set foot into the café. Spying the familiar head of strawberry blond hair, he reached forward and lightly tapped her shoulder. He opened his mouth to say 'hello', but before he knew it, he was being hauled away from his goddess towards the counter by some Amazon of a woman with superhuman strength. Apollo had wanted to shout "No!" in frustration, but he somehow managed to keep his temper in check.

            "You. Are. Late." Each word was enunciated slowly and clearly, which for some reason gave Apollo the idea that he was in a bit of trouble. The dark-haired woman hadn't even spare him a glance, opting instead to hastily scribble down a number of notes on a clipboard she'd produced from her apron. "You're the new boy, aren't you? It's bad form to be late on your first day of work, you know. I might have to deduct some money from your salary for that. Anyway, I've got your description just right from your application. Blond, around 6 feet tall, and oh my god."

            Apollo had only been half-listening to her tirade, but something had told him that he'd only be asking for more trouble if he went off while she was talking, so he'd stayed put. At her outburst, however, he looked at her with renewed interest. The woman – Donna, if the name tag pinned to her chest was telling him right – was now gazing at him at open-mouthed.

            'Another one of those women too easily awed by physical beauty,' he thought, giving her a benign smile. Unlike other gods, Apollo had never been one to take advantage of his powers, position or looks to play with the hearts of mortals. He only used his gifts when he passionately wanted something – or rather, someone. Speaking of that certain someone, where was she?

            "Oh, my name's Donna. So pleased to meet you." His eyes had been wandering around the café in vain, searching for that person he'd been so close to talking to, but they were now directed to the two clammy hands that had suddenly enveloped his. He could already feel his legs ready to run far, far away in the opposite direction but he endured and stood his ground. "Oh. Um, well, mine's Apollo. Very pleased to meet your acquaintance as well, Donna."

            Her brown eyes, though already quite big, seemed to grow even larger. "Just like the Greek god, eh..." Donna breathed.

            "Well, yes, I'm actually part-Greek, you see, and my name isn't strange at all back –"

            "Earth to Don! We are in need of major help!" A redhead cut into the conversation by planting herself smack in between them. "I know the new guy's a hell of a Greek god, but we have got to get moving. I'll be taking him, he'll be the new waiter."

            At that point onwards, he was dragged around the café by the girl, who had introduced herself as Stacy. The whole tour was a whirlwind of technical terms referring to various machines and utensils, as well as tips for 'waiting' (why he'd need any guidance on knowing how to bide time, Apollo didn't know). After exactly three minutes, Stacy came to a halt and looked at him. "Did you get all that?" She didn't even give him time to reply before nodding vigorously and pushing him towards a table. "Alright, now go do your job!"

            He stared blankly at the couple seated in the table he'd been shoved towards. "Ahem." What in Zeus's name had he gotten himself into? He tugged at the thick, heavy ribbon strangling his neck (a 'necktie', apparently, and modern fashion trends dictated it), confused over what exactly he was supposed to do.


BABY, WE'RE LIKE A TIME BOMB
BUT I NEED ITneedit▪ ▪ ▪needitWOULDN'T HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY
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                      LIKE A DAZZLING REFLECTION ! IN THE SKY
                      kazukazuko▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅ ▅
                      kazukazukazukazukazukazuko YOUR HEART CAN'T COVER UP THE LOOK OF LONELINESS ━ ━

                      kazukazuko▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅ 小林果須子
                      kazukazuko▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅━ ━ ━ ━ ━ ━ OHAYASHI KAZUKO
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          Kazu couldn't deny it. When Akina turned to her with a bright smile on her face after their unfortunate collision, she had hoped that maybe, just maybe, her old childhood friend had finally come to her senses and realized that Kazu was... well, Kazu. Kazuko Ohayashi, a girl. But when that smile turned into something that resembled a mix between fear and disgust, Kazu knew that even after yet another summer, Akina still thought of her as an extra-terrestrial being who had somehow stolen the identity of her younger self. The seventeen-year old had to admit that back when she had first met Akina, her hair had been cut short (thanks to Jun 'accidentally' putting gum on it) and her clothes had been her brother Kazu's hand-me-downs, but to have been mistaken for a boy...

          Well, it was certainly plausible, especially since the person doing the mistaking was Akina. Even when they were younger, Kazu had already suspected that the girl always seemed to be living in a whole different dimension from everyone else. Her suspicions were further confirmed by the next words that came spewing out of Akina's mouth.

          "YOU..." Kazu winced. The vehemence in that single word was hard to miss. "Stay away from me you creepy alien! I'll never let you take over my body and turn me into some....some.....boy or something!" And to make matters worse, Kazu swore she could see tears sparkling in Akina's eyes, which would no doubt mean that she probably looked like a big bully to – "Ryuu-chan, please don't talk to this robot! She will eat your brains and try and steal your name!"

          'So much for first impressions,' Kazu thought glumly as she stared after Akina's fleeing form. She couldn't even bring herself to look at the boy who had been sitting with the little monster Akina – Ryuu was his name, apparently – and instead contented herself with standing beside the table awkwardly. Well, if she was going to correct whatever misconception of her he might have formed from Akina's outburst, now was the time.

          "So, your name's Ryuu, huh. Nice name. Very... casual. Doesn't it seem to just roll off your tongue? Ryuu. Ryuu. Anyway, my name's Kazu. Well, Kazuko, but I guess you could call me Kazu. Er, Kazu-chan, I mean. I've seen you around, and you've probably seen me around, too, but I don't think we've really formally met..." Kazu would have rambled on for another five minutes, but a welcome interruption stopped her in the middle of introducing herself.

          "Heya, Kazu-chan. How're you doing? Having... fun?" At the sound of that familiar voice, Kazu turned and gasped. "Sotan-kun! When did you arrive?" That flame-red hair was unmistakable – it really was her best friend. Well, one of them, anyway. She had yet to see Hana. Her friends were one of the things Kazu greatly looked forward to in returning to Midori.

          Due to over-excitement, she forgot herself and swung one arm around Sotan like she used to do to her friends back in middle school. Her guy friends. Realizing this, Kazu froze with her arm around Sotan. Various thoughts began running quickly through her mind. How had Emily done it? How had the other girls done it? Didn't they just say hello? So what in the world was she doing?

          'The keyword is femininity, Kazu, femininity!' she mentally screamed at herself. Flustered, Kazu abruptly dropped her arm and cleared her throat. In an attempt to cover up her mistake, she decided to reply to Sotan's question. "Fun? Of course I am! Er... tea socials are always fun, aren't they? You get to talk to friends and meet new people. You know, like Ryuu." While motioning to Ryuu, Kazu spotted the half-eaten raspberry scone in Sotan's hand. Her eyes widened. How could she have forgotten the most crucial part of the tea social – the food? Eating was definitely better than standing around trying to fix the reputation (if she even had any) that Akina had destroyed.

          "Sorry, Ryuu, my stomach calls!" At this, the brunette took Sotan's hand and dragged him towards the nearest butler with a tray of food balanced on hand. Nimbly plucking a peppermint brownie from the tray, she steered Sotan towards a random table and sat down. Once she'd forced him down on a chair as well, she whispered, "Actually, I'm not having much fun. It's been disaster after disaster here for me! First, I ran away from Tetsu, so he probably thinks I'm some kind of weirdo now. And then I sort of made Akina cry in front of Ryuu, so I guess he sees me as a bully. I'm glad you're here now."

          Letting out a sigh, she bit off a piece of the brownie she'd taken. While chewing, Kazu spotted Hana being dragged along by none other than Akina. Darn. Now she wouldn't be able to get Hana to sit with them without causing Akina to go on another tirade about her alleged crime. Turning once again to Sotan, she asked, "Do you want to go sit with everyone else? Because it kind of seems as though everyone's having fun in one table..."
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                        _______IT WAS LIKE A
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            Apollo stood patiently with his hands clasped behind his back, directing a patient smile at the couple who had been waving at him for quite some time now. Why they were waving at him was mystery. One thing was for sure, though: The job he'd taken had indicated in its requirements 'experience in waiting' (mortal jobs had always been quite strange), and Apollo had thought it very fortunate that he'd had centuries and centuries of said experience. Waiting was practically second nature to him now. How else could he just be standing here, waiting for something – anything – to happen?

            He could tell, however, that his fair-haired goddess didn't seem to share his sentiments about his capabilities. His powers as an Olympian were severely dulled in the mortal realm, but he could still utilize some of his godly abilities should the need arise. In this case, he could pick up a few of the thoughts running through her mind.

            '...move, you slowpoke!'

            '...walk over to them, ask them what they want and go get it...'

            '...hired the wrong person.'


            Upon hearing these, Apollo's brows furrowed together. 'Am I not doing my job right?' he wondered, fiddling with the ballpoint pen the girl named Stacy had given him. "Trust me, you'll need it." She'd told him. "You can write a whole novel with the orders of some customers." Nevertheless, Apollo still hadn't figured out why exactly he did need it if he was only supposed to stand around and well, wait.

            While he was trying to make heads or tails of the perplexing situation he'd carelessly ran headfirst into (in retrospect, he should've gathered a bit more information on 'waiting'), someone brushed past him and walked up to the people who'd been waving at him. It was that girl – the one who'd somehow bewitched him into paying the mortal world a visit to possibly get his heart broken once again.

            "Is there anything more you’d like to order?" From the way she was intentionally raising the volume of her enchanting voice, Apollo gathered that she was trying to get a point across to him. Normally, such insolence from a mortal would've angered him, but the god had a feeling that this was simply her way of helping him. Of course, he wouldn't let her efforts go to waste. At any rate, he had to admit that he needed some guidance in this 'waiting' business, and what better person to learn from?

            Clearing his throat, he straightened his back and observed her movements. He watched as she exchanged a few words with the customers, barely disguising the look of annoyance that flashed across her face for a split-second at something the woman had said. Apollo had to smile at this. If anything, his goddess was feisty – a quality, Apollo noted, that strangely enough made her all the more appealing to him. Pursuing her definitely wasn't going to be easy, but he loved a good challenge.

            He sighed and closed his eyes as he thought of the wonderful times they'd have together in the future. When he opened them, however...

            All of the Underworld seemed to have broken loose in the café in that short moment he'd had his eyes closed. Muffins were all over the floor, customers were tittering and shaking their heads in disapproval, the heavy scent of burnt pastries hung in the room, and worst of all, she was in distress. Apollo wanted to punch himself. How could he let this happen?

            Deciding that no more time was to be wasted, he quickly picked up the fallen muffins and placed them back into the box. He then placated the customers with his most calming smile (it probably didn't hurt that he used a bit of his powers as well) and assured them that the mishap was only a minor one. Lastly, he made his way towards the oven and quickly disposed of the badly-burnt muffins into the compactor. All these he did in under five minutes.

            Apollo smiled triumphantly. No doubt his display of heroism had her falling for him already.

            Walking towards her, he placed a hand on her shoulder and looked into her eyes. "Are you okay? I don't think I was able to catch your name, by the way."


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            Phoebus Apollo was sprawled on one of the dark blue couches that furnished his apartment, his hair mussed and his white robe slightly rumpled. The piece of 'real estate' (the man he'd spoken to had looked quite surprised that he hadn't known what this meant) he had managed to acquire was made to be quite homey, with different hues of blue and light wood. However, as he looked up at the shadowed ceiling, he couldn't help but feel... lonely, somehow. Olympus had always been bright and bursting with activity, whereas this world seemed dismal and cold.

            Letting out a frustrated sigh, he threw down the towel wrapped around his neck and stood up. Perhaps pacing would help him think better.

            "As for my name, it’s on my nametag, silly. Evane. Evane Rosehead."

            Apparently, that had been as close as he could get to having an intimate conversation with her... Evane. His first week at work had otherwise been quite mundane, and the only times he was able to exchange any words with her was when she was instructing him to do things. As far as relationships went, he wasn't exactly making a breakthrough. At this rate, he was never going to get her to see him as anything other than just another co-worker.

            Perhaps he was going about this the wrong way. His past relationships (if one could even call them that) had ended badly because the women he'd been after had known that he was a god – a supreme entity, a being to be feared, hated... at times even taken advantage of. He shook his head, willing such depressing thoughts away. He had a fresh start here. Evane knew nothing about the god beneath his exterior; to her, he was nobody out of the ordinary.

            Just another ordinary guy... for the time being, that is. Sooner or later, that was all going to change – he was going to make sure of it. Apollo wanted her to see him as someone who was more than ordinary. He wanted her to love him just as he did, but in order to do that he was going to have to make a move soon.

            The god paced restlessly around for a few more minutes before finally sighing and resigning himself back to the couch. He had not a single idea as to what he should do in order to command Evane's attention. 'What I'd give to be in Eros' shoes right now,' Apollo thought glumly as he plopped down on the couch. If he had even an ounce of the knowledge the god of love no doubt possessed, why, Evane might well have been in his arms already.

            Frustrated at the state he was in, he decided to watch some television (a pastime, he'd learned at work, that was supposed to alleviate stress.). As bright light emanating from the strange box permeated his living room, Apollo observed that such an object was able to project recordings of people in a different era and location, something that had once been a luxury to Olympians alone. His curiosity piqued and problems forgotten for the moment, he decided to ease back into the pillows and give this 'TV' a try.

            Around half an hour later, Apollo was up on his feet again, pacing excitedly around the glass coffee table. It seemed it was a good thing he decided to watch television. The "Gossip Girl" play he had just watched was giving him ideas – a lot of them. The very first thing he needed, though, was help – female help. That Blair Waldorf girl had made it very clear to him that only women could understand other women (at least in this era).

            ▀▀▀▀▀__▀▀▀▀__▀▀_▀▀__PHOEBUS APOLLO__ ______________________________________________________


            Getting Artemis to help him with his problem would be easy enough. Getting her to take it seriously, however, was going to be a completely different matter.

            Apollo looked at the young woman seated across him, sighing as he did so. She was the spitting image of himself (save for the fact that she was girl) – the same golden head of hair, bright blue eyes, fair skin. Their personalities, on the other hand, could not have been more different. Whereas Apollo preferred the peace and solitude that staying indoors provided, Artemis opted to spend most of her time outside doing all sorts of things that ranged from cursing unfortunate mortals to hunting wild beasts. Heck, she was an even better athlete than he was, though he was loath to admit this fact out loud.

            At that moment, his older sister was busy playing with the salt and pepper shakers on his dining table and curiously glancing at the pieces of metal culinary technology he had acquired from Target (the modern agora Stacy had so graciously told him about).

            Clearing his throat, he decided to get started. "So, Arty. Any idea why I called you here?"

            His sister glared at him as she put down the shakers. "Don't call me that, Phoebe." Her lips then curved into a sly smile as she added, "And I do know why you've asked me here. You're so easy to read, brother dear. There's only one thing that'd make you leave Olympus – a woman. Am I right, or am I right?"

            Apollo suppressed a groan. Sometimes he forgot just how well Artemis knew him.

            "Fine. That's partly the reason –"

            "Only partly?" Artemis teased.

            He shot his sister a look of irritation to silence her before continuing. "If I may. As I was saying, there is this girl, and I may need some help getting her to notice me..."

            "Ha! This'll be like Daphne all over again..."

            "Please don't mention her. Will you help me or not?"

            Artemis let out a loud yawn, feigning boredom and disinterest, but Apollo knew better. He could see the mischievous spark in her eyes, and he knew he wouldn't need to ask twice. "Well, since there aren't many virgins in need of saving nowadays, I might as well lend you a hand. When do I get to meet her?"

            ▀▀▀▀▀__▀▀▀▀__▀▀_▀▀__PHOEBUS APOLLO__ ______________________________________________________


            He was supposed to be concentrating on the coming orders of the customers he'd been assigned to wait on, but Apollo couldn't help but cast furtive glances towards the door as though it was going to explode any second. Because, in a way, it probably was. Artemis wasn't exactly known for being discreet with her entrances.

            "Ahem, young man? I think I'd like a nice hot plate of raisin oatmeal cookies." A sudden voice cut through his haze of worry, causing him to tear his gaze away from the door.

            He looked down at the menu item the old lady was pointing at and met her stare with a wide, though somewhat forced, smile. "Of course, ma'am. Please wait a moment while I fetch them for you." He began to head towards the counter.

            "Good boy, Phoebe."

            Apollo turned around so fast he nearly dropped the pen he'd been twirling. Bending down near the disguised goddess's ear, he hissed, "Artemis?! You nearly gave me a heart attack."

            "Picking up mortal slang now?" Artemis reached up and patted her silver hair, which had been twisted up into a nice beehive style. Apollo noted with a bit of disdain that his sister appeared to be enjoying her disguise. "And why're you so surprised? I figured this was the best way to get to know Evane without arising too much suspicion."

            Having somewhat recovered, he straightened up and fixed his tie. He looked around surreptitiously to see if anyone noticed his weird behavior before turning back to his 'customer'. "Oh yeah?" the god muttered quietly, schooling his expression into the 'professionally-pleasant' one he normally wore when doing his job.

            "What, you don't believe me? Let me prove myself to you, then." His sister put her weathered hand down on the bell sitting on the table twice. In her loudest, most ornery voice, she then declared, "May I please have Evane here? I have a few comments to make about this young man's service." Apollo resisted the urge to throttle his sister right then and there and stayed put, bracing himself for whatever was going to happen next.

            'This is going to be embarrassing,' he thought.


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            'It's an utter, total disaster.' Apollo wanted to throw himself off a precipice and maul himself onto a stalagmite. He wanted to gut himself with a sword, or better yet, commit suicide with a 'gun' (he'd been wanting to try using one after seeing them in action countless times on TV). Heck, he was even contemplating using his own bow and arrow to shoot himself through. But all these things would have been for naught, because though the Olympians could feel pain, they were immortal and virtually invincible, not to mention the fact that since Apollo was the god of healing, he'd probably fix himself right up without even meaning to within a matter of minutes. That aside, though, he really did want to disappear right then and there.

            He knew Evane wasn't happy with him after that incident with the old lady (a.k.a. Artemis, his beloved twin sister). Far from it, actually – she was angry. His godly instincts were telling him that much (well, those and the scathing glare she'd given him awhile ago). Then again, it was those same godly instincts that told him that he ought to call Artemis over to help out, and look where that landed him. "Stupid instincts, they can't be trusted," Apollo muttered, venting out his frustration by wiping down a coffee-stained table. If he'd been at Olympus, he probably would've struck down a tree or two already. But he wasn't, and so he was simply going to have to endeavor to keep his emotions in check. Sighing, he moved on to the next table, one with an overturned, half-eaten chocolate cupcake right on the center. As the god picked up the cupcake with barely disguised disgust, he couldn't help but compare it to the current state of his life. He was no doubt going to have to straighten things out, but how exactly was he supposed to do that?

            His lips twitched into a slight frown as he headed back towards the counter. He had to apologize to Evane, that much he knew. But again, there was that age-old question that never ceased to plague him: how? As he was mulling over various possibilities, he sensed a familiar presence nearby. Apollo slowly put the tray holding the remains of the cupcake on a counter near the sink and looked around, his eyebrows furrowing partly out of concentration and partly out of irritation. It was familiar because first of all, not an hour had passed since he last encountered it, and second of all, it was his twin sister. 'I guess I'm going to have to deal with the immediate threat first.' Apollo thought.

            He plastered a bright smile on his face before approaching Donna. "Erm, Donna? Is it quite alright with you if I take a short break? It won't last more than ten minutes, I promise. I spy Ar... er... an acquaintance of mine outside, one I haven't seen in quite awhile." Clearing his throat, he dropped his voice a notch and looked down. "Also, I am so very sorry for that disturbance awhile ago."

            "Mistakes happen, Apollo, so it's okay. It wasn't your fault – not directly, anyway. And yes, go take your break now. But in exchange, you have to work harder and learn faster, alright?" Donna winked at him before returning to the javaccino she had been in the process of making before Apollo approached her. He coudn't help but smile at her answer, and not just because she'd agreed to his request. Though barely a week had passed since he started working at Red Sun, he'd noticed that she had gone from the infatuated woman he'd first met to her usual self. She was a tad irritable, yes, but she was a fair and dependable leader, and he'd grown to like her a lot (of course, he liked Evane more, but that was different).

            Smiling at her assent, he said, "I understand, Donna. I'll make the conversation as brief as possible." He turned and walked towards the door. He was still a distance away, but the corners of mouth had already turned down into a brooding frown. Dealing with fellow Olympians had never been one of his favorite pastimes.

            Though the bell attached to the café's doors tinkled loudly when he exited, the woman standing in front of the establishment made no move whatsoever to turn around. Apollo observed her quietly as he stepped over to stand beside her. She was statuesque and undeniably beautiful, with flowing locks of brown that spilled down her back, sun-kissed skin, and bright blue eyes that Apollo unfortunately only knew too well. He'd never seen her before, but this woman was no stranger to him.

            "From wrinkled prune to mortal goddess. Quite the transformation, Arty, if I may say so myself." He spoke without looking at her, choosing instead to focus on the passing metal creatures that spewed out despicable black smoke and made occasional beeping noises. Artemis looked up, and though her mouth was twisted into a smirk, Apollo noticed her eyes were avoiding his. "Is that a compliment, Polly? She calls you that, you know."

            Polly? Was she talking about Evane? Evane called him Polly? He didn't know what to make of that. Was it a good sign, or was it a bad one? Did that mean she felt something for him? Perhaps it meant she – "Sorry to interrupt your train of thought, little brother, but I thought you had something to say to me. Isn't that why you sought me out?"

            Apollo turned to her sharply, forcing all thoughts of 'Polly' out of his mind. His first order of business was to set matters with Artemis straight, and he didn't have much time to do it. "Has it occurred to you that maybe I don't need you causing a commotion in my workplace?" He took a deep breath and closed his eyes before continuing. "The last thing I need is a bad relationship with my co-workers. And well, I'll be honest – just one in particular, but I'd rather be on good terms with the rest. Did you see Evane's face awhile ago? She's unhappy. With me. This is all your fault, Artemis. Sometimes you're just too... wild."

            He opened his eyes, only to find Artemis laughing quietly. "What? You're laughing? Is there something funny about the problems you've caused me? Do tell me so I can join you." Apollo said dryly, glaring at his sister as she made a big show of attempting to stop her laughter. "Oh, Phoebe, I've forgotten how adorable you can be when you get so riled up over little things like this. And wild? What did you expect? I'm the goddess of the hunt. Well, I'll give you this – even though you're such an ungrateful little brother, I, your beloved big sister, will still help you." It was so quick Apollo thought he must have imagined it, but her eyes slid to the café and back to him before she added, "Believe me when I tell you I just got a brilliant plan."

            Thoughts of ending his life with stalagmites, swords and guns suddenly came flashing back as soon as Apollo heard those words. He groaned out loud. The last time he heard them, he had wound up knee-deep in a pile of dung that belonged to a giant deer Artemis had wanted to catch. It wasn't exactly the most pleasant of memories, and he didn't need another one like it. He took a wary step back and said, "Artemis, whatever you're thinking, might I suggest we first discuss it at home before you do anything rash and possibly destructive..."

            "I can see she feels something for you. You just both need a little push. That's why I thought we should first ought to make her feel a bit –" Artemis smiled coyly as she draped around arms around him. Apollo on the other hand, who had been bracing himself for an explosion of some sort, visibly stiffened. "– jealous."


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            It had been exactly one week since Artemis had set her plan into motion, and in that same week, Polly had finally decided to simply resign himself to his sister's machinations. Now that she was enjoying herself, it would be a far easier feat to get Zeus to move into Tartarus than to get Artemis to return to Olympus (not without a lot of hardship and headache on his part, anyway). 'Besides,' he thought, smiling as he took a regular customer's order. 'apart from the occasional incestuous flirting, Arty doesn't seem to be causing any real damage.' His diamond-blue eyes shot to a certain strawberry-blonde he'd adopted the habit of taking occasional quick peeks at when he thought she wasn't paying attention, and then back to the dark-haired woman whose order he was in charge of. The usually cold, precise businesswoman was taking an abnormally long time today, and she seemed to be looking more at him than at the menu. 'Could there be something on my face?' Apollo wouldn't put it past Artemis to play stupid little pranks on him. She'd done it before, back when they were children, and he wouldn't be surprised if she decided to do it again. Well, prank or not, he had to get things moving – there were other customers to attend to. "Erm, will it just be the non-fat cinnamon roll, then?" A placating smile drew over his lips as he gently prodded her.

            "Y-yes? Is t-there anything you want?" It was hard to miss the nervous stutter in the businesswoman's voice. Apollo's eyebrows drew together in slight confusion and concern.


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