It started right before lunch.

Miho could feel the all too familiar sensation, she was too hot, the stiffness in her limbs and the faint tinges of muscles starting to cramp.

She gritted her teeth, this just wasn't fair! This had just happened to her a few days ago, she should at least get a few weeks reprieve!

When the bell rang for break Ping stood beside her with concern written on her face. <Are you alright, Miho-chan? You don't look well. >

Miho looked up at her friend and forced a small smile. <You're right, I'm not feeling too good. I need to get something to eat. >

Ping stepped back as Miho rose to her feet, at the door Junko turned to watch them. She had been trailing the other students. Finally as the last of the class left she hesitantly approached Ping and Miho.

<Tohya-san, I wanted to thank you and Ping-san. For what you did at the hospital. > She bit her lower lip as sh e saw Miho grimace in pain.

<You are welcome, Junko. Could you excuse me for a moment? >

Junko nodded, <Are you okay? >

Miho shook her head as she began digging through her backpack. Ping looked at Junko; <She isn't feeling well, I hope that she doesn't faint. >

Miho found the sandwiches that she had packed, recalling the last time this had happened she decided that she would forgo manners rather than risk an embarrassing trip to the nurse's office.

Junko and Pings eyes grew wide as Miho wolfed down her lunch. They both had to turn away in embarrassment as she turned up the bottle of sports drink and chugged it down. Finally she daintily wiped her mouth and looked at the other girls.

<I apologize for making you endure that. >

Junko looked at her in amazement, <Why did you do that Tohya-san? >

Miho blushed and looked away, <At certain times my body chemistry gets out of whack. I didn't h ave a very big breakfast this morning and it seems that maybe I should have. > Miho reached into her backpack again and produced a pill bottle, after shaking two pills out she swallowed them dry then turned to face the other girls.

Junko shook her head, <I've never heard of anything quite like that before. Does this happen, umm, regularly? >

Miho nodded, <Not as often now, a couple of years ago it put me in the hospital for several months. >

Junko touched Miho on the arm then hugged her, <That's terrible, why didn't you ever tell anyone! >

Miho shrugged; <I was embarrassed I guess. > She looked into Junko's eyes; <You know how some of the others have treated me in the past. >

Junko nodded then looked away; she felt a sharp pang of guilt because she had been one of the worst offenders at times. A sudden thought crossed her mind and she looked back at Miho, <Does this have anything to do with the way you were able to, well you know. At the hospital? >

Miho smiled, <It has everything to do with that, and it's part of the price I pay. Nothing in this world is ever free. >

Junko nodded then turned toward Ping, <What about you, Ping-san? >

Ping smiled brightly, <Oh, I'm a robot. I have to protect my friends. That's part of my price I guess. >

Miho smiled, <Well Junko, I guess now know all of our secrets. It's a good thing that you are our friend. Why don't you come with us to Megagamers after school today and we can talk more? >

Junko smiled and nodded; <I'd love too! >

The three girls left the classroom and headed to the commons. As they chatted something Miho said kept coming back to Junko, something that nagged at her just a little.

Nothing in this world is ever free.

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