<Is something wrong, Erika? >

Erika looked at Piro and bit her lip as she considered his question. The phone call to Masamichi had gone well, very well indeed. Still, she felt as if she were forcing Piro to do something and she just hated that.

<I had to talk to Masamichi about some things, Piro. You were one of the subjects of the conversation. >

Piro suddenly felt sick, all he could think of was Largo. Were the authorities going to come after him now?

Erika looked at his face and felt sick herself as she realized that Piro had jumped to the wrong conclusion, <It's not a problem, it's just that I need to be your sponsor so that you can stay here. In fact they want very much for you to stay. >

Piro took a deep breath then sighed in relief, <That's all? I thought that they might, well you know. > He looked down at the floor and licked his lips.

Erika tipped his chin up and looked into his eyes, <Of course, they'd never do that to you. In fact Masamichi suggested that you show your portfolio to some people that I know. It's just that I don't want to force you to do anything and if you take this offer you'll have to stay with me. >

Piro looked at her and smiled, <Force me? I thought they would send me away. You know that I love, > Piro licked his lips again and looked away, <I love staying with you. > He looked back at Erika uncertainly. Had he almost told her that he loved her? He felt torn inside, like he was split three ways.

Erika took a deep breath and looked into his eyes. She felt the flow of emotions in the room now. She could feel the excitement of the boys looking at DVD's in the front. She could feel sadness in the girl who was reading manga. She looked around, could she do this? It had been so long and she had never really focused on a single person before, not even Hitoshi. She wanted people to like her just for who she was. But wasn't this a part of it as well? Suddenly she realized that of all the people in the store she was avoiding Piro with this.

Erika focused on Piro.

Piro shuddered. He could feel Erika's love for him. It was in the way that she stood, the slight moistness in her eyes as she seemed to tear up. It was in the awkward way that she held her hands as if she didn't know what to do with them. He wanted to touch her, to hold her, to whisper things to her.

He wanted to show his love to her.

Erika blinked twice as she felt it, felt Piro responding to her. She could feel his dormant power stirring. She wanted to cheer, to cry. It was like seeing a child let go on all support and take his first steps on his own.

<Hayasaka-san, Piro-san. How are you doing? >

Erika and Piro both gasped and looked around like people waking from a dream. Yanagisawa was smiling at them and he nodded to Erika in approval. Erika looked around the store to see that all the customers were staring at her and Piro with adoration written on their faces. She looked back at Piro and chuckled. <We'll talk more lately, okay? >

Piro nodded and looked around. He was going to have lots of questions.

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