“Text”= Japanese talking

“/Text/”= English talking

“+Text+”= American talking

“#Text#”= Australian talking

Nicole watched her schizophrenic neighbor through her window once again. He still hadn’t gotten out of his distorted wonderland. The man seemed to be yelling at somebody invisible. He flared his arms around in the sky. Nicole’s parents always talked about getting him committed. Nicole didn’t understand why. She shook her head to herself.

Oh to be free, she thought. Suddenly, her daughter cried again for the fourth time that night. Nicole sighed hard.

“/Coming sweetie,/” she mumbled. The Goth princess crawled off her bed to the crib. The baby cried loudly in hunger.

“/What now?/” she whispered. Nicole picked up the baby and held her.

“/Hungry?/” She bounced Amaria around in her arms.

“/Shhh,/” she whispered. “/Go to sleep. Go to sleep./” The baby’s cries slowed to a whimper.

“/Shhh,/” Nicole whispered again. “/That’s it. Just go to sleep./” Amaria slowly shut her little eyes and went to sleep again. Nicole shook her head and put the baby back in her crib. Nicole sat back against the wall. She gritted her teeth tightly.

F**k you, Shawn!, she thought.

Subject: Nicole

The next morning, Nicole sat at the table pouting. Amber walked in, smiling.

“/Morning dear!/” she cheered. Her daughter groaned aloud. Her mother gave her a strange look.

“/Something wrong, dear?/” she asked. The young woman lifted her head.

“/Amaria kept me up last night,/” she mumbled.


“/I barely got any sleep./”


“/Can’t you show a little more concern than that?/”

“/What do you mean?/”

“/Can’t you say something other than, ‘oh.’?/”

“/Like what?/”

Nicole rolled her eyes. “/Forget it./” She got up and walked out of the kitchen for school.

“/Have a good day, honey!/” Amber called. The door slammed shut.

At school, Nicole couldn’t take this. I need a release. Yet, she couldn’t do it alone. Today was Valentine’s Day. So why not get a date for that release? But, her bitterness for Shawn hadn’t died yet. So who? She may have been bitter, but she still loved her baby daddy. Looks rather rough at the moment.

“Hi Nicole,” a familiar voice rang in her ears. She turned her head to see Shuichi walking towards her. The Goth princess rolled her eyes. I don’t have time for him today.

But then, an idea came into her head. Nicole smirked to herself.

“/Oh Shuichi,/” she called. The vocalist paused in his tracks.

“What?” he asked. She leaned in close to his face.

“/You doing anything this evening?/” the Goth princess asked. Shuichi blinked at her.


“/Perfect!/” She grabbed him by the hands. “/Meet me at the dance studio at three!/”


“/See you there!/” Then, she took off. Shuichi stood there, blinking.

Uh… What just happened?

Nicole spent the day plotting out her “date.” Shuichi always proved to be the safe bet. He wouldn’t do anything to her. He didn’t even look at a girl’s boobs. No comments about her legs. No cheap perverted tricks. Shuichi was perfect. Nicole wasn’t looking for sex or a way to make Shawn jealous. She still loved him. It was just…

I just want to be free for a night!

Yeah, free. She couldn’t remember that for a few months. Until today. But first, school.

Nicole sighed to herself in her Japanese history class. Why do we have school on Valentine’s Day? Why couldn’t we have Valentine’s Day on Saturday this year? Sure as hell make my life easier! Oh well…

By three o’clock, Nicole went on to her dance troupe. The others on the team happily greeted her.

“Nicole!” Miki, the new dance leader, cheered. “So good to meet you at last.” The star waved her off.

“/Yes, yes,/” she said. “/It’s good to be back. I needed it. Believe me!/” Nicole looked among the crowd.

“/Newbies, I see,/” she said. “/This should be interesting./” the troupe began their usual routine. First came the stretches. The whole time, Nicole kept her eyes open for the door. She started to frown in her mind.

I don’t see him here! Nicole rose to do her winter dance routine for the pageant. Suddenly, the heavy doors were being opened. Everyone looked up and saw Shuichi standing in the doorway, panting.

“Sorry, I’m late, Nicole!” he called out. All eyes fell upon him. Miki blinked at him.

“Shuichi?” she asked. “What are you doing here?” The girls looked at him with soft hearts in their eyes. Nicole smirked to herself in mind while she looked pissed on the outside. She turned away and walked over to the ladder platform. Shuichi saw her looking pissed. He rushed straight over to her.

“Nicole?” he asked. The vocalist pushed through the crowd to get to his friend. The young Goth woman didn’t stop walking. She climbed up the ladder all the way to the top at the platform. She strapped up the harness to herself.

“Nicole!” Shuichi cried. His friend didn’t listen as she cued up the music. The pink-haired man climbed up the ladder after her.

“Shindou-san!” Miki yelled. “Don’t go up there. You’re not approved.” The man didn’t listen as he climbed up the ladder to his friend. Nicole pretended to still ignore him. Shuichi grabbed her by the shoulders and turned her to face him.

“Nicole!” he said. “Look at me, I’m so sorry.” The girl smirked to herself and began to act. She strapped him up to her and waved to the operator to get ready. Shuichi looked around, confused.

“What are you doing?!?” he asked. “What’s going on?!?” Before he knew it, the chords drew upwards and away they flew around in the studio through the air. Boy did Shuichi scream!

After the whole dress session, Nicole changed into her street clothes. Shuichi stood outside the locker room, still shaking. His friend smirked and shook her head to herself.

“/It wasn’t that bad, you wussy!/” she called.

“You could’ve warned me!” he cried. Nicole only laughed. Shuichi puffed up his cheeks.

“It’s not funny!”

“/It kind of is./”

Her friend only pouted. Nicole blinked out of the locker room.

“/Oh come on, Shuich,/” she said. “/I’ll make it up to you./”


Nicole grinned at him. “/Come with me!/” She grabbed him by the hand and dragged him off before he could say a word.

Valentine’s Day evening looked nice for this “date.” Nicole walked the streets with a grin. Shuichi, on the other hand, tried to grin and bear it all. He wanted to look for an escape. But that wouldn’t be very nice, he thought. He glanced over at his date.

“So where are we going?” the vocalist asked. Nicole smirked and shrugged.

“/You’ll see,/” she said. The two kept walking down the sidewalk. Shuichi tried not to pay attention to the lovey-dovey couples around them. He wished it was him and Yuki were like this tonight. The vocalist sighed to himself.

Nicole led him to a small Noir-themed French café. Shuichi looked around soft, smoky scene. More icky couples being romantic together. Nicole walked up to the counter.

“/One table near the back, please,/” she said.

“Yes ma’am,” the hostess said. She led them to the back table near the window. Shuichi looked around the whole time. The modern art violently screamed at him. The images of naked women didn’t help either. Nicole likes this place? Why?

Then again it was Nicole that he was with.

They took their seats and the hostess went away. Nicole sat up back, grinning. Shuichi looked dead-on at her.

“How are things between you and Shawn?” he asked out of the blue. She looked away from him.

“/Fine,/” she mumbled.

“You sure?”


Shuichi went quiet for a minute. Then, another question crossed his mind. “Why are you doing this?”

Nicole glanced over at him. “/What do you mean?/”

“Why are you dragging me out on this… date?”

She gave him a little shrug. “/Just needed an escape./”

Shuichi blinked. “An escape? From where?”

“/My daughter./”


“/I didn’t want our baby. Amaria is cute, but Shawn and I had her for the wrong reasons. He just wanted me to stay in Japan for his own selfish gain. But now I’m stuck with the bill./”

Shuichi lowered his eyes. “I’m so sorry…”

Nicole tossed back her choppy blonde, black, and pink hair. “/Aww, f**k it. I’ll be fine./”

Her “date” raised an eyebrow at her. “You sure?”

“/Let just eat and get out of here./” Nicole stuck up her arm in the air. “/Waiter! We’re starving over here!/” Shuichi only blinked at her. What just happened?

After dinner, Nicole led Shuichi further out into the city.

“Now where are we going?” he asked. Nicole chuckled under her breath.

“/You’ll see,/” she said. The vocalist swallowed hard. I was afraid of that… But to his surprise, they came back to the dance studio. Shuichi paused and blinked.

“Huh?” he asked. “I don’t get it.” Nicole didn’t turn around as she reached into her bag for the key.

“/Don’t get what?/” she asked.

“Why are we here?”

“/Zip it./”



Her friend went quiet. Nicole smiled to herself. Good boy. She pushed open the door and they went inside. The dancer led the singer down the dark and narrow hall.

“Nicole, you sure this is okay?” Shuichi whispered. “We might get busted.”

“/Shhh!/” Nicole hissed again. They came out to the stage. Nicole paused with her back turned to him. The vocalist looked on at her.

“Nicole?” he asked.

“/You hit a nerve with me at dinner,/” she spoke up. “/Not cool, mate./”

It took Shuichi a minute to get what she was saying. “Nicole, I…” She held up her hand to stop him.

“/Which is why, this is necessary for us,/” the Brit went on.

“I’m sorry?”

Nicole turned to him with a remote in her hand and hit two buttons. The lights came on and Andrea True Connection’s “More, More, More” flooded the empty room. Shuichi looked around still lost and confused.

What the heck… Nicole began dancing around in a flirty way to the music.

“What are you doing?” Shuichi asked.

“/Shut up and dance!/” she commanded.


“/Just dance!/”

Shuichi lowered his shoulders. “Fine.” He walked up to the stage and danced with the Goth princess. In the middle of the song, he oddly found himself enjoying this dance with his pal. That’s all she wanted. Just to be free for one night.

You’ll be fine Nicole. I just know it.

“/You could’ve just left,/” Nicole pointed out as they walked home. Shuichi looked at her with big, surprised eyes.

“What?!?” he asked. Nicole shrugged at him.

“/I wasn’t really holding you hostage,/” she reasoned. “/You could’ve just left when you wanted. Why didn’t you?/” Shuichi blinked at her.

“Didn’t think about that,” he said. Nicole gave him a little smile.

“/Idiot,/” she said. Shuichi smiled back.

“You sure you’re fine walking back by yourself?”

Nicole waved him off a bit. “/Yeah, yeah. I’ll be fine./”

“Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“/Cheers mate./”

Both of them went their separate ways. Nicole made it home about ten o’clock. Her parents were still out on their date and Amaria was still with the baby-sitter across the street.

“/I’m home,/” Nicole whispered.

“/Good to know,/” a familiar voice replied. The Goth princess froze and jerked her head forwards. Shawn sat on the couch, waiting for her. His baby mama slowly approached him.

“/How long have you been there?/” she asked. He only smirked at her.

“/Happy Valentine’s Day,/” the artist whispered. Nicole’s heart happily raced to her throat as she raced over to the couch and wildly kissed him on the lips. Well now, the day of freedom just got better.

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