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This page, A and K Chapter 16: The Camping Trip, is coming of age. The current canon and/or the writer's writing has improved since then, making this page relatively obsolete. Please take into account possible plans for a complete overhaul to this page for future use.

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(Author's Note: Told from Shigure's POV)

Kei, Mitch, and I had gone on a camping trip. The three of us pleaded with our parents to let us do it. It was something we really wanted to do, and we simply wouldn't take no for an answer. By some miracle, they gave us their approval. We collected the essential items and went into the forest. Kei and Mitch led the way while I followed. With each step, the tree's branches seemed to create a virtual night during the day within the forest. I'm not ashamed to say I was nervous. It was something I had never done before, but I didn't want to be left behind by Kei and Mitch. They were my best friends growing up. So I mustered up the courage to go.

Shigure: How much longer before we're there?

Mitch: The camping site shouldn't be much farther.

As we walked, I realized just how stupid we looked. We were all wearing what we thought was the typical 'camping clothes'. All three of us we wearing brown shorts. Kei and Mitch wore brown long-sleeved shirts, while I stood out a bit wearing a purple shirt. All of us wore hiking boots. As we walked, I saw all sort of different forest animals. Squirrels were running across the branches, an owl was sleeping, even saw a fox and its pups peeking out from its cave. It was a really cool experience seeing all the animals. Eventually, we reached the campsite. The three of us began trying to set up our tents. Kei was the first done. I don't remember if he had done it before he went with us, but he seemed to have no trouble setting up his own tent.

Kei: I'm going to go grab firewood for tonight.

With those words, Kei returned into the forest to seek firewood so we could have a proper campfire. Mitch was next to finish his tent. He sat his sleeping bag inside before looking over at me. I, however, was struggling at doing it. I had never gone camping before, and even following the instructions wasn't helping me.

Mitch: Do you want me to help you Shigure?

Looking back, I probably should've accepted his help, however...

Shigure: I got it! I can do it!

I was definitely stubborn, ever since I was a little girl. I always wanted to do everything on my own without their help. I could hear Mitch chuckle to himself as he watched me continue to struggle.

Mitch: Well then, I'm going to go fishing, we're going to need food.

With that, Mitch took off towards a stream we saw a ways back before the campsite. This left me alone to keep figuring out how to set up my tent. About half an hour after Mitch and Kei had left, I finally had my tent set up. I looked around from where I stood. There were three logs set up in a triangle, within that was the circle of rocks that would hold the campfire. Two Y-shaped sticks were on the inside of the circle, to the left and right. Another stick sat inside the area of those two sticks.

Shigure: Must be for cooking over the flames.

We had brought hot dogs, marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars. Mitch wanted the true camp experience, so he went to fish. The hot dogs were for back-up purposes. All three of us wanted s'mores. I decided to wait patiently for them, so I sat on the log that formed the base of the triangle. An hour passed, and it was way too quiet. I looked up from where I was sitting and noticed that there weren't a lot of people around camping that day. Didn't really know why. After another hour passed, I decided to go find Mitch or Kei. Whichever person I found first I would stick around with. It was just too lonely at the campgrounds, and I wanted to be useful in some way. I stood up and walked into the forest we had come from. I could hear the tree branches and leaves that had fallen on to the ground crunch underneath my boots. I wondered where the two of them could be. It surely didn't take long to gather firewood, but Mitch was a different story. An expert fisher, he wasn't.

Shigure: Mitch must be failing at catching a fish. Glad we brought food with us just in case.

As I ventured further into the forest, the sun began to set. I figured the boys would be okay, so I tried to return to the campgrounds. Only to realize that I had gotten myself lost. Night fell while I tried to find my way out of the forest. As I walked, I kept shouting for Mitch and Kei, hoping that one of them would find me sooner or later. I heard something crunch behind me. I quickly turned around, hoping to see Kei or Mitch there, but to my dismay they weren't. I was now face-to-face with the reason why a lot of people hadn't been camping in the area lately. A mountain lion was staring me down. My feet were frozen in place, and I was scared stiff. The mountain lion was bigger than I was. It licked its teeth as it looked at me. I screamed, then took off running. I didn't really care what direction. The only thing my mind was telling me to do was run. I ran as fast as I possibly could, but I could hear the mountain lion not too far behind me. I turned my head to see where it was, and then turned back only to have my head connect with a very thick branch. The impact was enough to knock me out cold.

Kei: ...gure...

Mitch: Shigure!

When next I awoke, I found myself back at the campsite, Kei and Mitch were looking over me.

Shigure: Huh? Where...?

Kei and Mitch both seemed relieved to see me awake. I quickly sat up and looked around.

Shigure: Where's the mountain lion?

Kei: Don't worry about it. It was taken care of.

Shigure: Huh?

Mitch: A forest ranger user a tranquilizing gun on him.

Shigure: A forest...ranger?

Kei: Yeah. Guess we got lost.

Mitch: We heard you scream and the forest ranger grabbed his gun and we ran off with him.

Kei: When we got there, you were knocked out.

Mitch: The ranger thought quickly and used his tranquilizing gun to take care of the mountain lion.

Kei: We carried you back here.

I was a bit relieved to know that both of them were okay, and myself as well, however...

Kei: How'd you get that bump on your head anyway?

Shigure: Bump?

I lifted up my hand and touched it. I quickly retracted my hand as I felt the pain. Mitch brought a rag he had soaked in the stream and instructed me to keep it on the bump.

Shigure: I ran headfirst into a branch.

Kei: Ouch...

Mitch: Trying to escape the mountain lion?

I nodded. Mitch sighed.

Kei: Why didn't you stay at the campsite?

Shigure: I went looking for the both of you! How long does it take to gather firewood?

Kei chuckled a bit.

Kei: Sorry.

Shigure: And I already know you failed at catching a fish.

Mitch: I didn't fail! It was just that the fish weren't biting.

Kei: Well, glad we have hot dogs at least.

Mitch: Wait a minute, what hot dogs?

Shigure: Are you saying you didn't know about that, Mitch?

Mitch: No! What hot dogs?

Kei: I packed them for the trip.

Mitch: You don't have any faith in my fishing skills?!

Kei: Mitch, if I had faith, would I have brought hot dogs with me?

Mitch: Oh, yeah, that's funny, so funny I forgot to laugh!

Kei couldn't help but chuckle.

Mitch: Now you're laughing at me?

Kei: Mitch, calm down. I don't even know how to fish. Didn't our dads tell us we had to be properly prepared?

Mitch: Well, yeah, I guess...

Kei: Would you rather have an empty stomach all night, or hot dogs?

A sudden growl interrupted the conversation. Both Kei and I figured out quickly which of our stomachs had made the growl.

Mitch: I'll be insulted later. Let's make some hot dogs!

Kei and I both laughed to ourselves. Mitch grabbed the hot dogs from Kei's bag and took out a wooden stick. It was, of course, unhygienic to use any old stick off the ground. So Kei's father gave us these sticks to use for cooking hot dogs and marshmallows on. Kei had already gotten the fire going. Its warmth was nice against the cold air. I kept the rag against my forehead. My head was still pounding from the hit I took. Kei held two sticks in his hands, one in each. They both each had two hot dogs.

Shigure: Kei, what are you doing? You're not going to eat all of those are you?

Kei: No, two of these are for you.

Shigure: Hey, I can do it myself, you know!

Kei: Yeah, I'm sure you can. You are supposed to keep that rag on your head though.

Shigure: Urgh...

Kei: I'll cook you something to eat. Don't worry about it.

Kei had always been nice to me, much to Mitch's dismay. A couple of weeks before the camping trip. The two got into a huge argument about me. Mitch threw a punch at Kei, and I had to settle it down. I knew my brother wanted to protect me, but I think he got it into his head that Kei was trying to hit on me. Looking back on it, I think he was being childish. However, there was nothing lost between the two of them. It was like Kei understood the situation and just did what was needed. He understood that I was Mitch's sister, and he didn't want to damage their friendship. That is what I reason anyway. Kei would never tell me. However, it was probably about that time that I did develop a crush on him. Kei was always being helpful. I remember that he'd help me with our homework and despite my childish behavior, would always let me have my way. It was probably why I liked him a lot. Despite my selfishness, he was spoiling me. More then my parents ever would. The camping trip went well after that. We each ate some hot dogs and s'mores. We even stayed up way past our bedtime and looked up at the stars. You can't really see a lot of those when you in a major area, but the night passed and we eventually returned home.

Shigure: So that was the camping trip in a nutshell.

Shigure had been telling Aria about the camping trip the three had gone on when they were younger. Aria lied in the bed, still unconscious. Shigure enjoyed the memory.

Shigure: At some point as we grew up, Lexi joined us. She was a sweet girl. My best friend too. Nick joined our group when he transfered into Yamatsumi too. The five us were a good group of friends. However, the group got broken up when Kei, Lexi, and Nick began going to school. Our family didn't have money to pay for education. During that time, Kei and Lexi were classmates, and grew close. I'd be lying if I didn't say I was jealous of them. I don't know if Lexi knew or not that I liked him. I never told her either. It was one of the few times that I just let my selfishness take a backseat, and I just wanted to see my friends happy. I mean, Lexi was my best friend. We were the same age, born in the same month, we were almost like sisters. There was no way I was going to ruin her happiness based on my own selfishness. As we grew older, I received an invite to what was going to be their wedding day. However, that day would never come because of Lexi's illness. I was saddened to hear of her passing. All that happiness I wanted them to have became sadness and bitterness.

???: Is that why you want Kei to be happy?

Shigure turns her head around to see Saori standing in the doorway.

Shigure: Oh, uh, Saori, how long have you been there.

Saori: Long enough. Shigure, you really like Kei, right?

Shigure: Well yeah, of course, I do.

Saori: But you can't replace Lexi.

Shigure: I don't want to replace Lexi.

Saori: There you go, you have your answer.

Shigure: Hm?

Saori: Just be yourself. Don't try to be Lexi for Kei's sake.

Shigure: ...you're right...

Saori: Love has a funny way of blossoming when you least expect it. I imagine that you walking back into Kei's life has to have some meaning.

Shigure: Yeah, maybe.

Saori: Fate brought you two back together. Maybe Lexi wanted the two of you to be happy together.

Shigure: You...really think so?

Saori: Fate has a funny way of working and its not too much of a stretch to think that Lexi wouldn't want the both of you to have happiness if she couldn't.

Shigure: ...Thank you Saori, I appreciate that.

Saori quietly leaves the room and closes the door behind her.

Saori: (Lexi, you left behind quite an impression on these people, didn't you?)

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