People say that it is hard to fulfill their own dreams. It's hard to take what they want, to be able to achieve happiness in their lives. It's a dream in itself; a fantasy, unrealistic, outcast, just plain idiotic.

But…it's harder… to not fulfill it.


Yume Ichi: Awakening
By Chun


The sun shown brightly on the land of the Rising Sun, the dark, cold city of Tokyo seemed to brighten up instantaneously. The streets and houses around the city began to awaken, and the streets filled out with people. The light shown in to a small room, where two misfortunates lay, still dreaming in bed, their own ideas of paradise playing through, over and over again. As the light shown brightly on the glasses that lay on the floor, the reflected light shown against one person's eyes, which abruptly opened. Piro blinked as the sun seemed to flood the room, Ping sleeping, back against the wall, her power outlet still plugged in, but making discreet little breaths, the display on her ear reading "Suspend". Piro groped around for his glasses as he stared at the ceiling. It had been almost four months since they had come to Japan, and still they had not moved from their spot since his friend Tsubasa had left, leaving them evicted into the storage room above his workplace. Reluctantly, Piro stood up, rubbing his eyes quickly as he placed his glasses back onto the bridge of his nose. They were still very poor, and the room was still as much of a mess it had always been, despite Ping's efforts to sweep the place up. Eventually, the EDS gave up, and began reserving a special area of the room for her to sleep, thus, the room was separated in half, but the debris still lay even on both sides. Beer cans, fried wires, breakfast cereal, and old shoujo mangas littered almost every square foot of the room, and there was barely enough for both Piro, and his passed out friend, Largo, to stand in, much less game in. He decided to stand up and flapped his shirt a couple of times to shake off the dust that still clung upon him. Looking downwards in the direction of Largo, his friend was sleeping, sprawled out on the floor, mumbling something about "L33Tage", and an evil attraction to the zombie queen. Shrugging, Piro looked out the window, watching as the train and light rail ran, the sun glinting a light that blinded Piro abruptly. He decided to let Ping and Largo sleep longer, as Ping did not have school -It was Sunday- and Largo had been up all night trying to hack into the Cataclysm Division of the Japanese Police to see if he could further upgrade his credit. He had failed when there was an attempt to spread a virus and tracking file to his processors, so at 4:00 that morning, he had pulled the plugs and fell asleep at where he had stood. Grabbing his cell phone, and pocketing it, he walked downstairs to the shop for work.

The shop was pretty empty, compared to the normal crowd of customers on his first day of work. As he entered, his boss walked up to him, handing him a CD. <Piro, put this disc into the player and start helping me restock; we've been sold out of Girl Phase Mangas and DVDs ever since the fans have stood up once again.> Ever since the information of Erika had leaked out to the general public, Erika forced herself once more into the public eye to appease the fans once more and hopefully end the fandom once and for all. Occasionally Erika would come in, wearing a Visual Novel Uniform, many otaku and casual fans alike entering behind her to get her autograph on the merchandise. Because of this, Piro saw her less often than he did Kimiko… which was already rare in itself, but he wouldn't let his mind daydream. It was time to work back to the United States. Yaginisawa pulled a cigarette out of his working apron and put it in his mouth, searching his pockets for a lighter. <After you're done with that, make sure you reorganize the shoujo manga section; it's been out of order again.> "Hai, Boss-san." Reluctantly, he walked over to the shelf and started to organize the collection, most of which he had already read himself, waiting behind the cash register with his trademark hat. As he slowly rearranged them, his mind began to wander, thinking about his life, his path for now, and the future. Maybe I'll never get out of Japan, thought Piro, as he began to recall all the beer sprees and visual novel purchases he had made impulsively, hypnotized by the mere sight of Akari-chan from the To Heart Series, or the DVD episodes of Air that sat on the shelf. Almost finished with the third of the seven shelves, he remembered the CD Yaginasawa gave him. He pulled it out from under the pile of yet-to-be-sorted mangas, and walked behind the cash register to insert the disc, as his boss was quietly doing inventory in the staircase near the back which Erika had first graced a smile upon them. Quickly inserting it, he looked under the player to find his Puchiko Hat and Tail, which he promptly put on; it was a natural occurrence. He picked up a broom and began to sweep the floor. The CD played many familiar tunes, of those from famous J-Pop singers to the themes of Visual Novels and Dating Simulations. This melodious track got him working, and before he knew it, the floor was clean, and the mangas were almost completely sorted. It was then, that it happened.

What do you dream?
I want to spend my time with you,
Please don't lie to me.
Don't hide the facts,
Be honest with me,
You can't see me, but I can feel your gaze.


It was a voice that surprisingly uplifted his spirits. Interested and Puzzled at the same time, Piro walked to the front of the steps to the basement. <Boss-san! Where did you get this CD from?> <It came in the mail this morning. It's the audio disc that I bought for the store so this small shop can get some street appeal. Why?> Piro gulped. <Do you know who sings it?> There was a small sigh and a rustling of a box of books in the basement below. <Can't you tell? It's Erika's roommate, Kimiko.> He froze. It was the voice he crumbled on site for, the voice that belonged to the girl he had met by a chance of fate. It was Kimiko's voice, singing the song to what seemed to be the opening of Sight. It was a dreamy tune, and the fact that she… she sung it, enveloped him in a warm feeling of happiness. The day Sight had come out for all to enjoy, the day he walked down to work, a line had formed around the end of the block, all asking for a copy. They sold out that day, but Yaginasawa commemorated Piro's hard work, and gave him a bonus, plus the game, for a small fraction of the original price. However, when his hands were just about to reach the package, a delivery man had stopped outside of the shop, a copy wrapped in brown paper with the address and a small card for Piro from Kimiko. It was your basic thank you card, she thanked him for supporting her and giving her such a nice sketch, and Piro read it all with a terminally red face, back in his room. It was special, but he didn't know if she even returned the feelings… or send the card for a simple note or if he liked him or not. A save point, he could have used, two actions he could have done. But he wasn't in a simulation; his life was already a game.

Now that Kimiko was slowly growing in her popularity, her visits to Piro, in general, were dwindling every month. Cubesoft began to grow even larger in popularity, so much that Kimiko was experiencing the everyday life of Erika, only cut in half. She still maintained her job at Anna Miller's every weekend, mainly because her boss said it would attract more members and give her good pay at the same time. The life of luxury was a deprived one of social contact. With her new soundtrack, Piro thought, as he walked downward into the basement where Boss-san was packing, I won't be able to see her even if I tried to. I'll just be another fanboy loser in her eyes… those eyes of disgust…<Oi, Piro! Help me with these boxes and I'll let you off early today!> Piro hurried down the steps to the boxes that sat there. <Why are you letting me off early today, Boss-san?> Piro asked questioningly, as he lifted a box of heavy new arrivals of Girl-Phase OVA DVDs. Yaginasawa was puzzled. <I thought I told you already.> <Tell me what?> He slapped his hand on his forehead. < I must have forgotten… Erika told me that Kimiko was going to be off tomorrow, and today she would come by near the closing hours to sign some more merchandise.> He started walking up the steps. <She said this would be the only time to be able to talk with her in her busy schedule, since next week she would be full up.> He placed the box on the top step, and looked back at Piro. <So, finish taking that box up, and then I can take over.> Piro nodded slowly, as he stepped upwards and dropped the box carefully near the register, finding a box cutter and ripping them open. I get to see Kimiko…but, Piro thought, as he finished the small task of DVD stocking, what am I supposed to say? I can't speak when she's around. I always get choked up and can't control my voice. He took off his Puchiko hat and tail, did a slight wave to the boss, then walked out into the sunshine, the streets nearly empty.


Meanwhile, Ping, who had been peacefully sleeping against the wall, reached her power peak and opened her eyes. As she scanned the room for Piro Onii-chan, her readings came back negative, and she stood up, wearing her overclocked t-shirt, her hair unbraided. She began her startup processes, looking around like a curious child. <Day…Sunday. Date…Noon. Piro Onii-chan is not here. Largo-sama still sleeps with two percent of his body fluids draining from his mouth. There is no school on Sunday.> She stood up in her t-shirt only pajamas and walked in front of Largo, searching for her clothes which she had purchased with Miho. Shifting around the junk that lay on the floor, she searched, only to find a slightly dusty shirt and jeans, which she put on quickly, keeping a scan of Largo to see if he ever woke up. Dusting herself off, she decides to herself that today she would once again attempt to make the room spot-free. Taking the broom, which had a small amount of web on it, she began the sweeping motions around the room, lifting the dustpan and dumping it into the trash bin behind her. With all this commotion, Largo soon awoke, only to stand up in his jeans and stretch abruptly before reaching for the small cooler which held his beer. Opening the door, he clicked open the top cap and began to chug it down, succeeding and throwing it on the floor. The can, however, flew back into the back of his head, courtesy of slapshot Ping-chan. <Largo-sama! I'm cleaning the room right now, and you're not helping at all!> A drowsy Largo turned around, gazing determinately at the EDS. "I do not understand your evil remarks and threats. I shall commence the Ph33rbot rebuilding once more, for you are the perfect lure to the D4RK QU33N of the Underworld." He stood again, a frustrated looking Ping-chan in front of him. Largo took another beer from the fridge and then sat at his computer, after quickly plugging it in once more. As the sound of air escaping left the can, Ping was about to throw another one at him, when suddenly, her eyes became bleak, and her body froze, her eyes focused at the ceiling. The earblade display monitor began to blink and flash colors once more. Her hair fluttered like a cloth in the wind, as she said the simple words. <He's coming back.>

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