Kimagure Orange College - Episode 23
by Stephen Tsai
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Kimagure Orange College

[Writer's foreword:  This is the twenty-third episode of a fan-
fict series based on the characters in Kimagure Orange Road.  They 
are intended to take place after the movie, "I Want to Return to 
that Day", and follow the characters Kasuga Kyosuke and Ayukawa 
Madoka as they start the next phase of their lives in college.
If you missed the previous episodes, notes about the new 
characters, and previous events are listed after the ending 
credits.  In addition, previous episodes are available at the ftp site.
One thing I would like to say up front:  Although I have graduated 
from college, my experience is in the American college system and 
culture.  The span of my experience in the Japanese advanced 
education system is limited with what I can pick up watching 
anime, reading manga, and consulting with friends, pen pals and 
anime clubs.  Any mistakes, inconsistencies, etc. are neither 
intentional nor are they meant to show disrespect for the Japanese 
education system.  In fact, I would appreciate any constructive 
criticisms, corrections, and insight any readers might offer me.  
Mail all such letters, praises or flames to]

Episode 23 - The Mysterious Christmas Gift

[Cut to the Akihabara* district.  Built from the spoils of its 
post-war black market, the district is packed with holiday 
shoppers as stores promote "holiday-specials".  On a long aisle in 
the Yamagiwa store, Yoko test-taps an self-proclaimed ergonomic 
keyboard as Saito examines a NEC-PC.
*Area of Tokyo known for selling electronic goods.

Store Clerk:  [Noting that Saito is examining an attached 
peripheral.]  Can I help you find something?

Saito:  I'm looking for something for someone else.  
[Sees some familiar faces outside the store window.]  Gotta go!

Store Clerk:  [Bows as Saito leaves.]  Please come again!

[Yoko and Saito walk out into the narrow public walkway between 
stores.  After some squeezing between crowds, Kasamatsu and Yuko 
manage to meet up with them and the foursome enter Hirose Musen to 
escape the mobs.]

Kasamatsu:  So tell me again why we're here?

Yuko:  [Slightly annoyed.]  I already told you; Yoko thinks we 
should get a computer for school and you volunteered to help us 
find one.

Kasamatsu:  [Grudgingly.]  You mean I was "volunteered".

Yoko:  [Insinuatingly.]  You *could* pay the "hush-money".

Kasamatsu:  [Turns nose up.]  No thanks!  I need the money for 
gift-buying.  [Grumbling to himself.]  How was I supposed to know 
the Dean would be at the club...

Saito:  [To Yoko as he goes through his written list of available 
computer models.]  What was it again you two specifically plan on 
using it for?

Yoko:  [A little off-guard.]  Ah?!  You know, schoolwork.  Writing 
and stuff like that.  A friend of mine told me to get the fastest 
model we could.

Saito:  [Casually.] least you're getting good advice 
from someone.  You should get something like...[Points at a large, 
heavy-looking tower case.]  this!  The software on it will do 
everything you need and Teruhiko-kun says this company's computer 
case is one of the most durable in the industry.

Kasamatsu:  [Sarcastically to Saito.]  That's so she won't break 
it.  [Gets into a badly-imitated martial arts stance and begins to 
make weak-looking punching motions.]  Probably'll use it for 
target practice.

Yoko:  [With contempt.]  Hrumph!

Yuko:  [Looks with concern at the six-digit price tag.]  But, do 
we really need all these features?  Okaasan might not be willing 
to spend that much.

Saito:  Of course you'll need them!  If it's not top-of-the-line, 
it's not worth using!

Yoko:  [Mostly to herself.]  Hmm...Baka-chan said something like 
that.  [Shrugs.]  Probably a computer geek sorta thing to say.  
[To Yuko.]  Let's take this one.  Okaasan will understand.  [Both 
go to the dealer to sign a purchase order.]

Kasamatsu:  [After the twins are out of hearing range.]  Say, 
speaking of computer girls, whatever happened to your girl "Chun-
Li"?  You said you two were going to meet at the ball game last 

Saito:  I tried.  But the team she told me she was going to be 
playing with cancelled out.  The registration table said our team 
got their time slot.

Kasamatsu:  [Chuckles.]  Same old luck on girls eh?  Just can't 
shake the old high-school rep eh?

Saito:  [Embarrassed.]  B-be quiet.

Kasamatsu:  By the way, did you ever consider what you're going to 
tell Yuko-san about this "other girl"?

Saito:  N-no...  I was going to ask Kasuga-san for some advice on 
that.  You know, with a girlfriend like Ayukawa-san, I guess he 
never had to chose between two girls befo--

[Just then, the group of four are interrupted by Kasuga.  They 
watch with surprise as he squeezes his way to familiar faces.  He 
has a fatigued expression as he tries to catch his breath.]

Saito:  Oi, oi!  Christmas shopping getting too rough on yo--?

Kasuga:  [Almost frantically.]  The date!  What's the date?!

Saito:  [A little taken aback by his abruptness.]'s the twenty-third of December.

Kasuga:  What year?!?

Saito:  N-nineteen eighty-eight.

Kasuga:  [Almost to himself.]  Nineteen eighty-eight?  [Thinks for 
a moment.]  I was...  [Shows sudden understanding.]  I gotta go!  
Ja!  [Heads back towards the train station.]

Kasamatsu:  What's his problem?

Yoko:  You can never tell with him.  He pops up in the strangest 
of places.

[Cut to the boarding house.  The walls now have a newer appearance 
from a recent paint job only a couple of months ago.  Above the 
main entrance, the sign "Seishun-kan" hangs proudly along with a 
notch in its side to commemorate the victory.]

Kasuga Narration:  It was the first Christmas I spent away from 
home.  Even though I was planning to return home next week to 
celebrate Shogatsu* with my family, there was still a strange 
feeling of detachment.  However, it was comforting to do some of 
the same familiar things around this time as in previous years...
*New Years

[Cut to Room No. 5.  Kasuga and Katsu are looking over a stack of 
mailed catalogs piled on the floor as two cups of hot ramen with 
chopsticks sit half-eaten on the table.]

Kasuga:  [Crosses out an entry on a sheet of paper as he looks 
forlornly at a recent bank statement.]  Can't afford that...

Katsu:  [As he slurps some noodles.]  Haven't you decided yet?  
You've been looking at catalogs for over an hour.

Kasuga:  [With disappointment.]  No.  It's like this every year.  
I never know what to get.  What did you decide?

Katsu:  There are a couple of things I'm going to look at.  I'm 
just trying to think of how and when to present it.

[Just then, there's a knock on the door.]

[Kasuga gets up and opens it.  The only thing to greet him is a 
gift-wrapped box sitting on the floor with a card.]

Katsu:  [Seeing the box.]  Who's it from?

[As he opens the box, Kasuga glances at the hand-written note.]

Kasuga:  [Reading the note.]
I want to apologize again for the most unfortunate incident that 
occurred a few months ago.  While I was thinking of your best 
future interests, I cannot help but feel partially responsible for 
the rift that formed between you and Ayukawa-san, albeit even 

To avoid such miscommunication in the future, I hope you will 
accept this gift.  With luck, I hope we never find ourselves at 
odds again.

Again, my sincere apologies.


Katsu:  What is it?

Kasuga:  [Opens the box to reveal a new telephone answering 
machine.]  Tanaka-san says he's sorry about what happened a few 
months ago.  [Pointing to the machine.]  I guess it's a present.  
[Stands up.]  How about we go out instead?  I'm not getting any 
ideas from these catalogs.

Katsu:  [Frowns a little as he stares at the answering machine.]  

[Kasuga and Katsu leave the room.  As Kasuga locks the door, 
Sakurai talks with Egami downstairs.]

Sakurai:  You're really going to celebrate Christmas this year?  
Just like they do in London?

Egami:  Of course we will!  [Proudly.]  We're even going to get a 
Christmas tree to celebrate!

Sakurai:  [Turns to Kasuga and Katsu as they come down the 
stairs.]  Kasuga!  Ooya-san says he's going to get a real 
Christmas tree this year!

Egami:  [Nods proudly.]  That's right!  We're going to make you 
feel right at home!  [Gestures towards Kasuga and Katsu.]  The 
three of you will personally pick out the tree!

Kasuga:  Ahh...un.  [Nods.]  We'll get it on our way back from 

Katsu:  Let's go!

Egami:  [Discretely to Kasuga as he follows Katsu and Sakurai.]  
Make sure to get a reusable one.

Kasuga:  [Nods with understanding.]  Un...

[Egami and Fujimoto watch as Kasuga, Katsu and Sakurai disappear 
around the street corner.  Cold wind blows across the neighborhood 
as low-hanging clouds threaten overhead.]

Fujimoto:  Do you think it'll snow?

Egami:  [Gruffly.]  Tabun*.

Fujimoto:  What do you think about when you see the snow?

Egami:  [Grumps.]  About all the work it's going to take to keep 
the walkway clear.  [Absent-mindedly.]  What about you?

Fujimoto:  Ryo...proposed to me the first...and last time we went 
together for yukimi*.

[Writer's note:  *Snow viewing:  The custom of gathering to 
partake of food and sake while viewing a snow-covered landscape.  
Records of such events appear in chronicles of the Nara period 
(710-794).  In the Heian period (794-1185), aristocrats held 
gatherings or accompanied imperial excursions to view the snow.  
By the Edo period (1600-1868), the custom had spread to the common 

Egami:  [Stops short.]  Ah...ahh...gomen*.  [Decides to go back 
inside to the relative warmth of the house.]

Fujimoto:  [Follows Egami inside.]  Don't worry about it.  What I 
meant was, I'm going to try and get my life back on track.  I've 
mourned long enough...and Ryo probably wouldn't have wanted me to 
spend the rest of my life reliving the past.

Egami:  [Looks more positive but slightly surprised.]  Oh!  That!  
Yes!  [Enters his room and pours both of them a cup of hot tea 
from a heated kettle.]  I was beginning to wonder sometimes.  
[Nods with more confidence.]  I know, more than anyone else, that 
Ryo-kun would have wanted it that way.  Anything in particular?

Fujimoto:  One of Ryo's friends from his old company was talking 
to me last month, about a job with the company he's working for 
now.  I think I'm going to take him up on his --

[Just then, Fujimoto is interrupted as the door bursts open and 
Kasuga looks inside with some agitation.]

Kasuga:  [Breathless from running.]  Ano...!

Egami:  [Startled by the sudden entrance.]  What's going on?!  
Don't you ever knock?!?

Fujimoto:  [With concern.]  Did you forget something?

Kasuga:  [Thinks about Fujimoto's comment briefly.]  
Shimatta*...I'm already too late!  [Visibly calms down.]  OK, I 
guess I'll try Seibu next.  Ooya-san!  [Reaches for Egami's 
oversized hooded winter coat.]  I need to borrow this!  It's 
important!  [As he leaves.]  I'll see you later!  [To himself.]  
Much later...
*Oh shoot

Egami:  [Stunned into inaction.]  O-OI!  [He watches Kasuga leave 
and hears his footsteps leaving the house.  As Kasuga puts the 
coat on while running, he shouts out the window.]  You'd better 
bring that back or I'll add the cost to your rent!  [Irritated 
tone as he closes the window.]  I swear you never know what's 
going through Kasuga-san's head!

Fujimoto:  [Nods and smiles.]  He's a little unusual, but I've 
never doubted his sincerity.  I'm sure he had good reasons.  
[Smile slips a bit into a questioning expression.]  Chotto 
matte*...didn't he take his coat with him?
*Just a minute

[Cut to the Butsumetsu Music Building.  In one of the practice 
rooms, Ayukawa packs away her saxophone as the almost sound-proof 
room echoes with rehearsal versions of "Santa Claus is Coming to 
Town" being played by the concert band.]

Ayukawa:  So what are you going to do for Christmas?

Kimura:  Usually okaasan and otoosan buy me another kawaii stuffed 
animal.  But this year, I'm hoping I can do something different.

Ayukawa:  Kasuga and I... [Thinks back to the "pairs-only" 
Christmas party four years ago.] try to do something together.  
I'm sure we'll all be getting together for a party somewhere.

Kimura:  Un!  This year, I...[Eyes cloud over with imaginary 
visions as she puts her hands on her cheeks to hide the blush.]  I 
want to meet my "special someone"!  In the stories, a handsome man 
always brings the girl a special present, then...[Eyes close as 
she envisions being kissed on the lips.]  Kyaaa...!

Ayukawa:  Ahh...[Unsure how to picture Kimura's scenario, but 
decides to go along.]  un.  I'm sure there'll be someone at the 
party who has you on his mind.

[Cut to the Seibu depaato.  Featuring twelve floors, dozens of 
restaurants, and a shopping inventory ranging from clothing to art 
galleries, it is the second-largest department store in the world.  
Like all the other major stores throughout Japan, the building is 
filled with people taking advantage of the commercially-declared 

Katsu:  <Ah-choo!>

Sakurai:  [A little irritatedly.]  What do you mean we should get 
this tree?  It's made out of aluminum!

Kasuga:  Well,  Ooya-san thought...

Sakurai:  Daijoubu*!  He'll understand; no one celebrates 
Christmas with a fake tree!
*Don't worry

Katsu:  Ooya-san won't be happy; he'll probably toss your 
furniture out in the snow!

Sakurai:  [Waves off nonchalantly.]  Heiki, heiki*.  I'll handle 
Ooya-san.  Anyway, didn't you two have gifts to buy?
*No sweat

Kasuga:  [Decides to let the matter drop.]  Well, OK.  [Leafs 
through some sweaters, scarves, and other accessories.]  Che...!*
*Mild Japanese expression of disappointment/irritation

Katsu:  [Looks at a glass display case of scarves.]  How much are 

Sales representative:  [Pulls out a dark-blue Celine scarf.]  Kore 
desu ka*?  Y32,000, but right now they're on special for only 

Katsu:  [Shakes his head.]  Iie*!  This is for...well, her face is 
sort of cuter.

Sales representative:  [Eyes light up with understanding.]  Ah!  
[Reaches for and holds up a colorful Hermes scarf.]  O-kyaku-
sama*, perhaps this will be better?  [Holds it close to her face.]  
Picture your girlfriend's happy face when she sees this for 
*Honored customer

Katsu:  Hmm...

[Fade to imagination.]

Katsu:  [Confidently presents a wrapped box to Kimura.]  Hai!

Kimura:  [As the box unwraps by itself.]  Ahh!  Kirei*!  Ritsu-
san, ureshi**!
**I'm so happy

[Fade back to reality.]

Katsu:  [Nods.]'ll be perfect.

Sales representative:  I'll have it wrapped for you!

Kasuga:  [Looking over Katsu's shoulder.]  I'm glad you found 
something so quick.

Katsu:  [As he accepts the wrapped package.]  Since when did you 
become so indecisive?

Kasuga:  Ah!  I mean...[To himself.]  Some things never change!  
[Looks at his watch.]  It's almost time to get back for the party 
and I still haven't found something.  It'll look bad if I don't 
give Ayukawa a present.  Good thing I put that answering machine 
in.  [Picks up a small boxed table ornament.]  I guess I'll have 
to get Tanaka-san something to show my appreciation.  At least I 
won't miss any calls while I'm out shopping.

[Cut to the boarding house.  In Room No. 4, the sunlight begins to 
fade behind half-closed Venetian blinds, taking what little light 
there is in the room with it.  A thin trail of smoke rises from a 
cigarette being held just over an ashtray as an exposed razor 
blade turns over slowly with deliberate motion across Tanaka's 
other hand.  As he inhales from the cigarette once more, a tape 
machine with two wires placed discretely in the corner of the room 
silently turns on.]

Tape recorder speaker:  <Click!>...<Beep!>... Oniichan, it's 
Manami!  When did you get one of these?  Anyway, otoosan wants to 
know when you'll be coming so we can clear the stuff out of your 
room.  Call...Kyaaa...!  Jingoro..!  [Interrupts as the sounds of 
falling dishware and a whining Jingoro can be heard over the 
speaker.]  Mou...I hate talking into these things...!  <Click!>

Tanaka:  [Coldly as he extinguishes his cigarette.]  Merry 


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Sakaki:  But I told you I don't know anything about software!

TV Announcer:  Field tested by the finest labor pilots...

Ohta:  [In labor, firing his fully automatic 120mm assault rifle]:  
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TV Announcer:  Windows 2000 will vastly speed up processing 
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*click* [TV off.]

Shinobu:  Where are you going?

Goto:  [Turns.]  To make a few phone calls.  Ever since that Gates 
fellow took over Shinohara Industries, there's been movement in 
the shadows.

Shinobu:  [Sighs.]  Looks like Matsui-san's been busy.  [To 
herself.]  Here we go again...


Announcer:  See "Patlabor Movie 3: Hell's Gates"!  In theatres 


[Cut to Mason financial corporation.  Although some of the 
superficial trappings of the holidays are present, the pulse of 
business doesn't skip a beat as money and people flow in and out 
of the glass and steel tower.  Conversations are held in small 
groups as managers confer on various matters ranging from business 
to personal.]

Manager 1:  No you may not have time off!  You spend too much time 
away from the office as it is!

Umao:  [Bows sheepishly.]  Aa, ahh...

Ikemoto:   [To herself as she looks irritatedly at the phone.]  
What do you mean he's not in?!?  [More politely as she resumes her 
conversation.]  <<Then when will Mr. Jamerson be available to 
discuss the...>>  [Frowns as she listens to the reply.]  <<Of 
course I understand.  Perhaps next week.>>  [With an annoyed tone 
mostly to herself as she hangs up.]  Kuso...!*
*<Netiquette violator>

Amano:  [Coldly.]  Having problems with your gaijin* clients?

Ikemoto:  Don't you have something else to do?  You certainly 
wouldn't know how to handle them.

Amano:  Ah sou!  Wasn't it you that boasted you knew their 
culture?  I wonder how is it you didn't take into account the fact 
that they don't get any work done this time of year.

Ikemoto:  [Coldly.]  Why don't you go back to your desk before I 
tell your wife why it takes you three hours to make four stops on 
the Chuo?  I'm sure that would make an entertaining Christmas for 
your family.

Amano:  [Stiffens.]  At least I have someone to go home to, unlike 
a cold, friendless person such as yourself.  

[Fade to the past...]

Chibi Sachiko:  [Sadly.]  But why...?

Unseen adult figure:  [Sighs.]  I told you already; your father's 
work has to change locations.

Chibi Sachiko:  [Protests.]  But...but tomorrow's Christmas Eve!  
I wanted to give a friend a Christmas gift! 

Unseen adult figure:  [A little hurried while making logistical 
arrangements.]  Don't worry so much; you'll make new friends where 
we're going.

Chibi Sachiko:  [Looks down.]  But you said that last time...

Unseen adult figure:  [Irritated.]  Don't be so immature!  Your 
father's work is very important!  [More patiently.]  I know 
Christmas is important to you; we'll have our very own Christmas 
with the family.  Next year, I promise you'll meet new friends and 
you'll all give presents to one another.

Chibi Sachiko:  [Meekly.]  Hai.

[Fade back to the present...]

Amano:  [Turns to leave.]  I'll bet you've never celebrated 

[Outside the Seibu depaato, Katsu and Sakurai can be seen 
struggling with a large Christmas tree while Kasuga is shaking his 

Kasuga:  Ooya-san said to get a tree that can be reused.  I don't 
think...[Gestures at the beautiful green fir tree.]...that this is 
exactly what he had in mind.

Sakurai:  [Exasperated.]  But we can't celebrate Christmas like 
they do in London without a real tree.  He said that's what he 
wanted to do, right?

Katsu:  Err...yeah, but just in case, you remind him about that.

Kasuga:  Well, I want to look at one more store for something, so 
you two go ahead and take the tree back.  If the tree isn't there 
for the party, Ooya-san will probably give us the pleasure of 
picking our furniture up off the lawn for Christmas.

Katsu:  [Fearfully.]  Hai.

Sakurai:  [Shrugs off Kasuga's warning.]  I'm sure I'll be able to 
explain everything to him; Ooya-san likes me.  [Smiles.]

[As Katsu and Sakurai leave, Kasuga walks down the crowded 
sidewalk, looking at the various displays in the windows of the 

Akane:  Kyosuke!  Kyosuke!  [Akane comes running up to Kasuga.]  
There you are.  Egami-san said you were out shopping for a 
Christmas tree or something.  [Looks around.]  Where is it?  You 
better get it soon, cause he was muttering something about your 
furniture as I was leaving...

Kasuga:  Why me?  Katsu and Sakurai are taking the tree back. 
[Smiles cautiously.]  You were looking for me?  [To himself.]  I 
wonder what she wants this time.  [Panics.]  Maybe she wants to 
help me pick out another gift.  [Smiles as he remembers Kimura's 
birthday party and everyone's shocked reaction to his gift and 
begins to laugh.]

Akane:  [Sits down beside Kasuga.]  What's so funny?

Kasuga:  [Laughing.]  Oh nothing.

Akane:  [Annoyed.]  What are you laughing at?

Kasuga:  [Hand behind head.]  Err, you actually.

Akane:  [Starting to get angry.]  Look Kyosuke, I've still not 
gotten over you dragging me into that baseball game, although it 
was a lot of fun, particularly when I got to fool the other team 
with my amazing abilities.  [Shimmers into Matsuda Seiko*.]  Ne**?
*Japanese idol singer, popular at this time.  Appeared in KOC #22
**In this case, right?

Kasuga:  [Rolls his eyes.]  Not again...Akane, you know you 
shouldn't rely on your power to get by.  I mean, after all, I 
pitched the entire final game without my power.

Akane:  [Wryly.]  You sure did; that's why we lost by, how many 
runs was that again?

Kasuga:  [Embarrassed.]  That's not important.  And besides, half 
the team couldn't play then anyway.  [Tries to change the 
subject.]  Now, why were you looking for me?

Akane:  [Smiles.]  I'll let you off this time.  [Becomes serious.] 
How're things going with you these days?  Everything all right 
with you and Madoka-san?  Things did seem a bit cold in the dugout 
when we played the team from Daidai-sou.

Kasuga:  [Unsure of himself.]  Well, I think so.  She wants me to 
be me, nothing else.  You know, no frills, no power, just plain 
old me.  [Reflectively.]  Will she like someone so normal?

Akane:  [Sternly.]  Cut it out Kyosuke.  You love Madoka-san 

Kasuga:  Hai.

Akane:  And she loves you?

Kasuga:  [Resolutely.]  Hai.

Akane:  Trust that for once then, OK?

Kasuga:  [Smiles.]  Words of wisdom from you Akane?  What's gotten 
into you these days?

Akane:  [Confidently.]  I've decided on a major:  Dramatic and 
Theatrical Arts.

Kasuga:  [Surprised.]  After just one course?

Akane:  Mmm...I've been practicing every day for the upcoming 
departmental auditions.  Remember when you saw me in that tattered 
dress?  Our drama department is putting on "Les Gens Abattu"* 
after the winter break.  I'm auditioning for one of the lead 
roles, Iponine.
*French; literally, "The People Depressed" or "The Sad Ones."

Kasuga:  So you're in the department if you get the part?

Akane:  [Sighs.]  Getting the part would be great, but as long as 
I do well, and I pass the written exam, I'm in.  Ah, that brings 
me to what I wanted to tell you.  Afterwards, I'll be going back 
to Yokohama for the holiday to help Dad with the temple's Shogatsu 
preparations.  I don't think we'll be able to make the trip to see 
you over the break, so don't do anything ecchi* with Madoka-san 
while I'm gone!

Kasuga:  Oi!

Akane:  And auditions are coming up too.  Who knows?  [Winks.]  
You may even be able to help me.

Kasuga:  [Hesitant.]  Uh, I don't know; we'll have to see...Oh, 
before I forget, will you be coming by tonight for the party?

Akane:  Egami-san mentioned it to me.  When is it supposed to 

Kasuga:  [Looks at his watch.]  Pretty soon actually.

Akane:  [Sighs.]  It won't kill me to take a little time off from 
practicing I guess.  Sure, I'd like to go.  Can we swing by my 
place?  I need to pick up some things.

Kasuga:  [Begins to sweat as he remembers he still hasn't found a 
present for Ayukawa.]  I need to pick up some stuff for the tree 
to decorate it with.  Since you said Ooya-san was talking about 
throwing out my furniture yet again, I'd better get some nice 

Akane:  [Sighs.]  Oh Kyosuke, you sure live life on the edge don't 
you? [Laughs.]  I'll see you at the party.  Ja ne!

[Cut to Ayukawa's apartment.  Unlike most apartments in the 
region, there are a few Christmas decorations present in the room, 
most notably a single set of blinking lights on a small one-foot 
tall tree.]

Kimura:  [Staring at the tree.]  Waah...Kirei!  But I've never 
seen a tree in someone's own apartment.

Ayukawa:  [As she finishes wrapping the last of a few boxes to be 
taken to the party.]  Well, Ikemoto-san spent several years in 
America.  Sometimes, it seems she doesn't have many happy times, 
but I think this is one of them.  Here.  [Picks up a picture frame 
and hands it to Kimura.]

Kimura:  [Looks at a picture with a ten-year old Ikemoto.]  
Hmm...she looks a little lonely.

[Just then, Ikemoto returns from work.]

Ayukawa:  [Surprised.]  Ikemoto-san!  You're early!

Ikemoto:  [Nods with a subdued expression.]  U-un...  [After a 
long pause, she pulls out a small wrapped box.]  Ayukawa-chan, 
this is for you.

Ayukawa:  [Surprised expression.]  Ahh...un.  [To herself.]  Is 
she serious?  [Embarrassed expression.]  Ah...I don't have 
anything ri--

Ikemoto:  [Presents the gift again.]  I-it's all right.  
It...would mean a lot to give a Christmas present to a 

[Cut to the Seibu jewelry department.  Kasuga looks over each 
ring, bracelet and necklace in the case, but doesn't seem to have 
much success.]

Sales representative:  O-kyaku-san, may I help you with something?

Kasuga:  [Stops looking through a display case when he sees the 
Y58,000 and higher price tags.]  I-ie.  [Turns to leave.]

Store attendants:  [With practiced unison.]  Please come again!

Kasuga Narration:  I remember thinking that this was the first 
time I had to spend Christmas with Ayukawa alone.  I was hoping 
earlier that day for a sudden inspiration while I was out at the 
stores, but...

Figure in the shadows:  Kyo...Kasuga-san.

Kasuga:  Who...?

[Cut to the Chez Kooun.  Outside, a sign marked "Closed for 
private party" hangs on the glass door.  Fujimoto attends to the 
buffet, which has been arranged along one wall.  In the corner on 
the opposite wall, Sakurai's live tree stands, very well-
decorated.  The twins, followed by Saito and Kasamatsu, enter 
through the archway adjoining the main hall.]

Egami:  [Dressed in a loose-fitting Santa Claus suit.]  What do 
you mean they only had real trees?!  I told you guys to get a 
reusable one!

Sakurai:  [Confidently.]  What can I say?  These days, the 
Christmas rush is on and the stores just don't carry enough.

Egami:  [Suspiciously.]  When I was in town last week, they had 
plenty of aluminum ones!

Sakurai:  [Smiles confidently as he manages to get to the main 
hall.]  Besides, now isn't exactly the time; you're ruining the 

Egami:  [Clears his throat, then to the crowd.]  HO!  HO!  HO!  
[Whispers back to Sakurai under his breath.]  "Santa" will be 
leaving you a black lump of coal in *your* stocking!

Sakurai:  ...

Yuko:  [Amazed.]  Wow, somebody did a great job with the tree!

Saito:  [Under his breath.]  We better hope those ancient strings 
of lights don't burn the place down.  Those things look like they 
pre-date the war.

Fujimoto:  Hai, Sakurai-san is quite fond of Western traditions.  
[She gestures toward the top of the archway.]  He even decided to 
hang some mistletoe.

Yoko:  [Casting a suspicious glance directly upward.]  Mistletoe?  
What's that?

Fujimoto:  [Smiling.]  According to tradition, whoever stands 
under the mistletoe is waiting to be kissed.

Yoko:  [Whirls, and stabs a finger into Kasamatsu's chest before 
he can move.]  Try it, and you'll be able to string your *teeth* 
on the tree.

Kasamatsu:  [Cheerfully.]  Wouldn't dream of it.

Eiji:  Ne, okaasan*, can we eat yet?

Fujimoto:  [Understanding tone.]  Not yet, wait until everyone 
else gets here.  Could you help me finish with the buffet and 
decorations in here?

Yoko, Yuko, Saito, Kasamatsu:  [In unison.]  Hai!

Egami:  [Sits down and pulls Eiji onto his lap.]  Come sit on 
Santa's lap while we're waiting for them to set up!

Eiji:  [Deadpan.]  Santa...?  So are you going to give me a gift 
or something?

Egami:  [Attempted joviality.]  Santa knows all about good girls 
and boys!

Eiji:  [Impatiently.]  Don't you think you're a little too short 
to be playing this role?

Egami:  [Insinuatingly.]  "Santa" also knows about whose house you 
were playing at when you told Mariko you were studying at the 
elementary school library!

Eiji:  [Seizes up, sweats, then nods.]  Ah...un!  [Grins 
fearfully.]  Santa!

[Cut back to the alleyway just outside Seibu.  The neon lights 
flood the streets and the air begins to chill.  Kasuga stares in 
stunned amazement with his breath forming a fog between him and 
the man standing in the shadows.  A heavy hooded coat hides the 
man's face and identity.]

Kasuga:  Wh-who are you?

Figure in the shadows:  Never mind that now.  You're still looking 
for a gift...for someone special, right?

Kasuga:  [Nods with curiosity.]  Ah, hai.

Figure in the shadows:  I have just the thing.  [Reaches into a 
pouch and pulls out a jewelry carrying case.]  It's an old family 
heirloom.  Traditionally, you're supposed to give it to the person 
you love most in the whole world.  I...I've recently lost the 
person I...would have given it to.  You--I mean, your family, did 
me a favor a few years...ago.

Kasuga:  A favor?  I don't remember any favors.

Figure in the shadows:  D-don't worry about it.  You haven't, I 
mean, you weren't there.  It was something, your grandfather did.  
I'm...just returning the favor, he did... for my mother.

Kasuga:  [Surprised by the man's determination, but accepts 
nonetheless.]  Un.  A-arigatou.

Figure in the shadows:  [With concern to himself as he watches 
Kasuga leave.]  It happened exactly as I remember it.  
Kyosuke...for both our sakes, please make sure you give it to her!

[As Kasuga leaves the alley and rejoins the crowds, curiosity 
gains the better of him.]

Kasuga:  [To himself as he opens the case.]  I wonder what he 
meant by "the person you love most in the whole world"?  How could 
he possibl...[Trails off as he reads the inscribed name on the 
pendant.]  Masaka*...  [Turns around quickly.]  Who...?!  [Trails 
off as he sees the empty alley.]

[As drinks flow and the party chatter rises in volume, Kasamatsu 
sidles over to one side of the room, standing next to Kimura and 
Ayukawa, who look up at the spectacularly decorated tree in 

Kasamatsu:  They did a good job, didn't they?

Kimura:  Ara, Kasamatsu-kun!  Un, the lights are really pretty.  
Everything looks so beautiful this time of year.

Kasamatsu:  Un...

[They watch the flashing lights for a bit, then...]

Kimura:  So did it work out with that girl from your circuits 

Kasamatsu:  Mm? it turns out, she's already dating 
someone.  She did say I was a nice guy, though.  [Smiles half-
heartedly.]  Actually, I wanted to thank you for your advice.

Kimura:  But it didn't work for you...!

Kasamatsu:  On the contrary, I think it did pretty well.  
Anyway... [Rummages in his backpack, then pulls out a wrapped 
gift.]  Merry Christmas!

Kimura:  [Eyes widening.]  You really didn't have to--!

Kasamatsu:  It was nothing...besides, you already mentioned you 
wanted it.  [As she opens the package.]

Kimura:  [Hugging her new stuffed animal.]  Arigatou*, Kasamatsu-
*Thank you

Kasamatsu:  Dou itashimashite*.  [Heads back to the party.]
*You're welcome

Ayukawa:  [Incredulously.]  You were giving him dating advice?

Kimura:  Un!  I read about it in shoujo manga!  The boyfriend is 
supposed to...[Closes eyes and mimics a kissing motion.]

Ayukawa:  [To herself as she looks at the clock.]  Speaking of 
boyfriends, where's Kasuga-kun?

[Kasuga runs up just outside Chez Kooun with the boxed gift in his 
hand.  He takes a moment to catch his breath and compose himself.  
Behind him, Katsu comes out of the crowds.]

Katsu:  So did you ever find a gift?

Kasuga:  Ah, hai.  [Shows Katsu the box.]  I...found something 
unusual from a guy selling things on the streets.

Katsu:  Kind of cold for a street vendor.  He must have been 

Kasuga:  What took you so long?  You were finished buying a couple 
hours before me.

Katsu:  I had to go back to the house to wrap it.  Oh, Ooya-san 
said if you don't buy him a new coat, he's going to have your room 

Kasuga:  [Nervously.]  Ahh...[To himself.]  Why do I have to buy 
*him* a new coat?

[They both go inside and join the party.  Kasuga makes his way to 
Ayukawa and motions for her to join him outside.  Meanwhile, Katsu 
spots Kimura chatting with Akane next to the buffet.  He tries to 
get her attention, but fails.  Kasamatsu spots him, and looks 
between Katsu and Kimura.  Kasamatsu points at Kimura with a 
questioning look on his face, and walks over to her as Katsu nods 
at him.]

Katsu:  [To himself, watching as Kasamatsu takes Kimura's elbow 
and whispers something to her.]  Arigatou, Kasamatsu-san.

[Kimura turns, and notices Katsu standing outside the archway.  
She smiles happily, and starts walking over to him.]

[Nearby, Sakurai casts a melancholy stare into his drink.]

Sakurai:  [To himself.]  The first Christmas in a while without 
Michiko-san...and I still haven't found anything to take my mind 
off her.  [Looking up from his drink as Kimura approaches.]  Who?  
Oh, it's that cute freshman who came in with Kasuga's girlfriend.  
[Puts on a self-assured grin as he sets his glass on a table.]  
Maybe my luck is goes nothing!  [Steps forward to 
stand next to Kimura as she nears the archway.]  Pardon me...

Kimura:  [Looking up at Sakurai in confusion.]  Hai?

Sakurai:  [Pointing upward.]  Do you know about the Christmas 
tradition of mistletoe?

Katsu:  [Looking up at the sprig, to himself.]  Nan da--?*
*What the--?

Sakurai:  [Continuing, as Kimura looks up.]  They say that whoever 
is standing beneath the mistletoe is waiting for someone to kiss 

[Katsu and Kimura's eyes widen as Sakurai turns Kimura to him, 
then kisses her full on the lips.  Astonished outbursts from the 
rest of the group follow as Kimura melts beneath Sakurai's 
practiced kiss.]

Sakurai:  [As he breaks the kiss.]  Merry Christmas!

Kimura:  [Starry-eyed, and more than a little dazed.]  Ohhh...

[Sakurai slips an arm around her shoulders and steers her back 
towards the party, as Kasamatsu joins Katsu just outside the 

Kasamatsu:  [Low, to Katsu, as he stares at Sakurai.]  *What* 
happened just now?

Katsu:  [Staring after the pair, shock and disbelief on his face.]  
Son na....*  [The wrapped gift slips out of his hand and falls to 
the floor.]
*It can't be....

Kasamatsu:  [Noticing Katsu's rapidly deflating mood.]  
Hey...Katsu-san?  Want to get out of here and talk about it?  [He 
leads Katsu back down the hall and out the front door.]

[Cut to the outside patio.  Ayukawa and Kasuga sit alone as the 
rest of the group continue to enjoy themselves inside.  She pulls 
out a champagne bottle from the party table and pours it into two 
glasses Kasuga brought out with him.]

Kasuga:  [Hands one of the glasses to Ayukawa and toasts.]  Our 
first Christmas together!

Ayukawa:  [Nods and returns the toast.]  May we have many more!

[They drink their toast as a slight breeze blows cold air through 
the patio area.  Ayukawa and Kasuga pull themselves closer for 
physical warmth as he gives her the small box.]

Kasuga:  I hope you like it.  It's...a very special gift.

Ayukawa:  Wow...!  Where did you get this?

Kasuga:  [Puts hand behind head.]'s an old family 
heirloom.  The legend says, you're supposed to give it to the 
person you care for more than anyone else in the world.

Ayukawa:  [Admires the pendant.]  You had my name engraved on a 
family heirloom?

Kasuga:  [A little surprised.]  Ah, un.  Ojiisan* helped me!  Can 
I help you put it on?

Ayukawa:  [Nods.]  Un.  [Pulls her hair back and lets Kasuga 
fasten the pendant around her.  As he does so, he feels something 
cold melt on his hand.]

Kasuga:  Yuki*?  [Both him and Ayukawa watch in silence as the 
snow begins to drift down from the sky.  He puts his hand on her 
shoulder as she leans closer to him.]

Kasuga Narration:  It was the first Christmas I spent away from 
home.  Like anything else, there's a certain apprehension about 
doing something for the first time.  However, I'm spending 
Christmas this year with the woman I care about and close friends.  
I find myself looking forward to the coming New Year and the 
future as it unfolds.


New Characters Designer/Writer	Stephen Tsai
Co-writers			Bob Carragher
				James Holman
				Quincy S. Huoh
				Jeff Williamson
Doujinshi Artwork		Tony Jung
Pre-readers			Doug Eckhart
				Brian Edmonds
				Peter Van Owen
				Jim Ramberg
				Lisa Richardson
Very special thanks to		Hitoshi Doi

A tip of the hat and a deep bow to	Matsumoto Izumi for starting 
the whole thing

If I left anyone off, my apologies.  Any mistakes/embarrassing 
faux pas are entirely my own.  If there is anything here you must 
flame, aim them at me and me alone.

Thank you for taking the time to read this episode of my series.  
If you are interested, previous episodes should be available at 
the ftp site. 

Hope you enjoyed it and thanks again!

For the new readers:  I'll be doing character profiles, major 
location descriptions, and situation updates on a rotating basis 
for each episode.  If there is a particular character, place or 
event that you would like to know more about, and it is not being 
covered, don't hesitate to email me and I will send you either a 
note or a copy of the episode it is introduced.

Focus on Sakurai Takahiro [Introduced in Episode 21]:  The current 
occupant of Room No. 1, Sakurai is the only tenant who returns to 
the Boarding House from the previous year.  Currently a second 
year mathematics student, he spent a previous semester in London 
studying abroad.  He has a reputation among those who know him as 
something of a "ladies man", however, he is currently broken up 
with his previous girlfriend.
Visual Description:  A tall handsome guy with sandy-blond hair.  
Close anime comparisons include (but not limited by) Hasakawa from 
Koko wa Greenwood and Jadeite from Sailor Moon.

Kimagure Productions| Sailor Mercury:  [Almost in tears.]  WHO DESIGNED THIS
    --present--     | STUPID SYSTEM?!?!  NO ONE CAN USE THIS THING!!
 Orange College #23 | 
  Sailor Ranma #11  | P-chan:  Mou...any twit can use a computer these days...
   *Coming Soon*    |
Stephen Tsai        | Sailor Mercury:  ...    | Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Ranma Episode #9

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