When the phone rings, Erika looks at Kimiko, who makes no move from her perch by the balcony door, staring at Tokyo's night sky.

"Moshi-moshi?" Erika looks again to Kimiko, who shakes her head, No.

"Sorry, Piro, but she's got the late shift tonight." Kimiko avoids Erika's poison-green glare by resuming her study of the stars. Shortly, she pulls her knees up, under her chin. "Yeah, I'll be here tonight, why?" Pause. "I'll call you when she gets in." Erika sighs. "I'm certain that Jessica will be playing MegaWinter Nights. It's perfectly clear that such a fine girl wouldn't have anything better to do" -- Kimiko flinches -- "on Saturday night."

She laughs. "Nice try, Piro. I'm sure Kimiko would've appreciated that." The idol looks at the floor. "Yeah. Later." Click. With disgust: "Fanboy."

Kimiko turns to defend Piro: "Don't call him that!" Erika's expression doesn't change. "He's a really nice guy!"

Erika snorts, and returns to the couch. "If you like him so much, why don't you spend the night with him, instead of the computer?"

"You wouldn't understand." Kimiko walks over to the computer and turns it on.

"Don't I? He lives with an emotional doll, reads shoujo manga, and you two haven't so much as held hands yet!"

"Did too!"

"Gomen. Once. He's like... Keiichi. Except that if you'd been Bell, we wouldn't be living in this dump."

Dangerously: "We?"

"Yes, we --" Erika cuts herself off, and looks out the balcony door. She continues, less stridently: "I don't want to see you get hurt again either, Kimi-chan, but..." She gestures at the computer. "You're just encouraging him; you already know that he falls in love with computer characters. Just don't be 'Jessica' for him so you can love at one remove."

Erika covers Kimiko's hand on the mouse with her own. "You're always so sad when you stop playing." A train rumbles by, and the transformer on the telephone pole on the corner hums. Erika smiles: "Your Saturday night should end with Ping making the two of you breakfast Sunday morning."

Kimiko blushes, but says nothing, and remains still after Erika removes her hand. Urban silence lingers: car engines, refrigrator noises, a babble from the wok joint down the street.

"I could call him..." Erika interrupts herself: "You could call him and tell him that it's tommorow night that you've got the late shift, and that I didn't know what I was talking about."

Kimiko looks out the balcony door.

-_Quinn

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