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Chapter 2 Main Chapters Chapter 4


The Bands of Seven: Transform Into The Next Generation!

Chapter 3

Riku and Risa emerged from their completed rehearsal. Risa started forward eagerly, but stopped short as she saw that Phantom Dark was not seated in their row. Nor was he anywhere to be seen in the theater.

"Where is he?" she asked piteously.

Riku said through gritted teeth, "Probably out stealing something! Dark is a thief, after all!"

The sudden sound of Satoshi's coldly amused voice behind them made the sisters jump. "You do realize," Satoshi said sardonically, "that if he is here, I'll have to arrest him?"

"I'm not worried. Mr. Dark will escape," Risa said optimistically.

Satoshi simply smiled and went on to the backstage area, where he and the rest of the Almost Mediterranean Middle School Band would wait until their performance.

Riku and Risa Harada Phantom Dark Satoshi Hiwatari
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Risa and Riku had paused near the rows where Yusuke's friends and Inuyasha's friends were sitting. At the moment, Keiko, Kagome, and Yukina were standing in a knot in the aisle, talking. During a lull in the conversation, Yukina noted Risa and Riku and greeted them. They returned the greeting, and took a few steps closer. Yukina asked, "Are you part of the band from Almost Mediterranea?"

"Yes," agreed Riku, "we're part of the Almost Mediterranea Middle School Band. I'm Riku, and this is my younger twin sister Risa." They bowed, and Yukina introduced Kagome and Keiko.

Riku and Risa Harada Yukina Keiko Kagome
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"Are you excited about getting to perform?" Kagome asked. Riku told her, "Yes. This is the first time we've ever done an international tour, and our performances are a little unconventional for a school band, so I hope it'll do well."

"I'm sure you will," Yukina said encouragingly. Riku and Risa nodded their thanks. Yukina then asked, "What is Almost Mediterranea like?"

Risa proffered some photographs and said, "You can look at these if you'd like. I took these in our hometown."

Yukina, Kagome, and Keiko passed them around, commenting on the wonderful blue sky and the pleasant architecture, which did indeed have strong Mediterranean influences. The town appeared to be built on a series of hills, with buildings centered around cobblestone courtyards near the crests of the hills. Several of these courtyards had magnificent marble fountains decorated with detailed sculptures.

"You must go to a remarkable school, to be able to travel around the world like this," Keiko commented.

"I suppose so," Risa allowed, "but in many ways it's really just an ordinary school in Almost Mediterranea. We have to take turns clapping erasers, just like the students in every other school does."

"You do that as well?" Kagome asked curiously.

"Yes," Risa agreed. "It's not that bad. What really upsets me about school is cooking class. I really want to do better in there!"

"Our schools have cooking classes too," noted Keiko, amazed. "It's an interesting coincidence."

Riku and Risa Harada Yukina Keiko Kagome
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There was a moment of awkward silence, as no one knew quite what to make of these eerie similarities in schooling. Riku finally asked, "Are any of you involved in extracurricular activities?"

Yukina smiled slightly and told them, "I'm not."

"I wasn't either, until Riku made me join the band," Risa smiled. Riku gave a sigh of longsuffering.

Kagome explained awkwardly, "I, er, meant to take up volleyball or softball. But I keep getting sick, so it's all I can do to keep up with my studies."

"I enjoy volleyball," Keiko told them all.

Riku concluded, "I play on the lacrosse team myself."

"I've grown to like the band, after being in it for a time," Risa said thoughtfully. "Clubs really are wonderful things. It's too bad they're so much trouble to start. Our classmate Saehara had a difficult time setting up his photography club."

"He only had to get members and fill out a student council approval form so they'd assign him a room!" Riku disagreed.

Riku and Risa Harada Yukina Keiko Kagome Saehara
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"You don't say!" Keiko boggled at Riku. "Why, that sounds just like our school system!" Kagome nodded and put in, "Your school system sounds like almost an exact duplicate of the Japanese one."

Riku shrugged. "I dunno. This sort of educational system is not that uncommon. My Almost German penpal Saga has a school system like that, too." Thinking about Saga reminded Riku of the last letter Saga had sent. There had been waffle crumbs in the bottom of the envelope, and in the margins, to the side of Saga's small and neat handwriting, was a large enthusiastic scrawl saying things like "Waffo!" and "Sugar greets Saga's penpal!" Riku still didn't know what all that was about.

Keiko Kagome Riku Harada Saga and Sugar
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Yusuke, Kuwabara, and Tasuki reentered from an exterior exit, Tasuki in a headlock as Yusuke knuckled Tasuki's scalp and complained, "Hey, you must've been cheating! No way you beat me in that race! I'm one of the fastest street punks out there!"

Tasuki shoved at Yusuke's face with his metal fan and escaped from the headlock while explaining, "What can I say? It's my Suzaku power. I'm just so much better than you! Hahahaha!"

Yusuke Kuwabara Tasuki
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Risa looked at them and said in dismay, "Are those two..." then trailed off.

Keiko gazed with resignation at the spectacle Yusuke and Tasuki were making of themselves and answered placidly, "Don't worry about them. That's just Yusuke's method of male bonding."

Yukina pointed out, "It's Kuwabara's too."

Risa Harada Keiko Yusuke Tasuki Yukina Kuwabara
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Indeed, Kuwabara had, after having belted Tasuki in the cheek to make him stop grappling with Yusuke, asked Tasuki, "Just who are you, anyway?"

Tasuki recovered, clonked Kuwabara on the back of the head with his iron fan, then bowed while Kuwabara's head was involuntarily lowered and said, "I'm Tasuki of the Suzaku Seven, from the land of Konan!"

"Pleased to meet you. I'm Kuwabara, toughest punk in Japan," grunted Kuwabara as he, Yusuke, and Tasuki returned to a general melee.

Kuwabara Tasuki Yusuke Suzaku Seven and Miaka
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Riku, watching this scene in amazement, exclaimed disgustedly, "Why are boys so immature?"

Kagome shrugged and suggested philosophically, "They just don't have any sense. I don't think I've met one with more maturity than a five year old."

Inuyasha's ear twitched as he complained, "I can hear you, you know!"

Riku Harada Kagome Inuyasha
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The house lights began to dim, signaling the end of the intermission. Yukina, Keiko, Kagome, Risa, and Riku all bowed.

"It was nice to meet you," Yukina said politely.

"It was, and I'm sure you'll do well in your performance," Kagome told Risa and Riku.

"Thank you, it was nice meeting all of you," Riku said.

"Please enjoy your stay here," Keiko said pleasantly.

"We have already. Goodbye!" Risa waved as she followed her sister backstage.

Yukina Keiko Kagome Riku and Risa Harada
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Tasuki, Yusuke, and Kuwabara slowly disengaged from battle. After a moment to catch their breaths, Tasuki said, "You two have good moves. Known each other long?"

"A long time," Yusuke agreed. "You use that iron fan very well, I haven't had this much exercise in awhile."

"Thanks!" Tasuki grinned, revealing two very pointed canines.

"Always great to meet another honorable man," Kuwabara told Tasuki.

"Likewise," he agreed. "Well, I'd better be off now. Maybe we can do this again sometime!"

"That'd be great!" Kuwabara said enthusiastically. The three bowed to each other. Tasuki went off to his row while Yusuke and Kuwabara took their seats.

Tasuki Yusuke Kuwabara
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Kurama, sitting nearby, asked amusedly, "Didn't you three leave the theater to avoid fighting and incurring Genkai's wrath?"

"Oh yeah," Yusuke remembered. "Well, I'm sure she knows we were just messing around."

Keiko shifted in her seat beside him and sighed, "Oh, Yusuke."

Kurama Genkai Yusuke Keiko
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Genkai emerged from the back doors of the theater and strode quickly along the aisle to the front. She took the stage via an easy, short, vertical hop of only about five feet from ground level. The audience had no time to marvel as she stated matter of factly, "The next band is Animal Basket." She then hopped back down and quickly walked away.

Genkai
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The curtains parted to reveal the band. Front and center was a pleasant young lady with long brown hair flowing down to the middle of her back, and ornamented near the top of her head with blue hair ties.

To her sides were two young men her age. One had orange hair and deep purple eyes, while the other had grey hair and lavender eyes. Both of them looked rather dashing, but in different ways. One had on an immaculate grey suit and white tie, while the other wore a black jacket open at the neck, and black pants, which greatly accentuated his orange hair.

Tohru Kyo Yuki
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The Prince Yuki Fan Club went into predictable hysterics, jumping up and down at the sight of the newly revealed band. The grey haired fellow agreeably waved back with a slight smile on his lips, as though he actually enjoyed the attention. Even if he was naturally shy, there was no point in being so on a stage in front of an audience.

"Hello, everyone," the young woman said into the microphone as the three people bowed. "We're Animal Basket. On my right, oh, sorry, that's your left, isn't it? I'm really very sorry. Please accept my apologies. Yes, this man here on your left is Prince Yuki- excuse me, I mean Yuki Sohma."

The grey haired young man's eyes had widened, and he had actually begun to blush at this unexpected mention of his nickname, before he returned to his normal state of composure. His fan club shouted, "Prince Yuki!" as loud as they could, as though to show the depths of their adoration, and blot out the fact that the young lady had spoken their cherished nickname for him.

"And on my left, your right, is Kyo Sohma," she introduced the next member. Kyo nodded curtly, wanting to get these introductions over with, unaware that even in such a brusque action as the curt nod he had made most everyone in the audience think he was a cool and popular dude.

As planned, Kyo now took the microphone and announced, "Our lead singer is Ms. Tohru Honda."

The audience clapped.

Prince Yuki Fan Club Yuki Kyo Tohru
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Tohru took the microphone again as Yuki walked over to the drums and Kyo pulled out the bench of a large black grand piano. Tohru announced, "We're now going to perform 'For Fruits Basket.'"

The piece was understated but powerful, Kyo's suave piano playing complimenting Tohru's skilled voice. At the end, Yuki subtly added a soft drumbeat. The drumbeat was almost imperceptible, but it was soothing, like a gentle spring rain.

After the song was done, there was a great deal of applause. Tohru stared out at everyone, surprised but pleased. "Oh my," she commented in amazement. "Thank you all so much. I'll try to do better next time, but thank you so much."

"They wouldn't be applauding if you hadn't done a good job!" Kyo snapped at her, distressed to hear that she was denigrating herself in public.

Yuki reassured her, "You did an excellent job, Ms. Honda."

A young fellow with short blond hair bounded from backstage onto the stage, and almost off of it and into the audience, except he leapt slightly back at the last second, to end up near Tohru.

"Oh, hello!" Tohru commented, unsurprised to see the boy gamboling about the stage. "Everyone, this is our flutist and vocalist for our next song, Momiji Sohma!"

"Thanks, Tohru!" Momiji exclaimed as he waved enthusiastically at the audience and they cheered. He was dressed in a blue middle school uniform that closely resembled a sailor's outfit, and he doffed a red beret as he bowed grandly to the audience.

Tohru Yuki Kyo Momiji
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Momiji inquired, "I think Tohru did a great job on that last number, don't all of you?"

The audience cheered and clapped their hands.

"See, Tohru?" Momiji said encouragingly. He came to a sudden decision and announced, "I'll carry their love over to you in a hug!" He leapt suddenly, his arms outstretched-

-and Kyo caught him by the back of the elaborate collar of the uniform, holding Momiji back. "Oh no you don't!" fumed Kyo.

"Awww, Kyo's picking on me!" Momiji wailed.

Momiji Tohru Kyo
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"How childish," Shippo commented.

"Takes one to know one," Inuyasha said carelessly.

Shippo wailed, "Waah, Kagome, Inuyasha's picking-" then stopped in horror and covered his mouth with both his hands. Inuyasha smirked at him, and Shippo glared daggers back.

Shippo Inuyasha Kagome
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Something bothered Kuwabara about the band members' energy. Tohru's energy was downright plain, but there was something dark about the Sohmas. Kuwabara found his tickle feeling was highly stimulated by Kyo Sohma. There was a cold breeze whistling through the cracks in Kyo's soul. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

"That's sure a lot of Sohmas on stage there," Kuwabara noted, while contemplating the anomalous sensations.

Yukina looked to Kurama and asked, "Isn't soma a mind-altering drug, just like kodoku? That's an odd coincidence."

Kurama demurred, "The real soma is a harmless plant. Mythological soma, however, was supposed to induce a state of happiness."

Kuwabara Tohru Yuki Kyo Yukina Kurama
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A tall man in the white coat of a doctor stepped onto the stage. He wore his greenish-brown hair long for a male, with some strands to the middle of his ears. He had long bangs over his left eye which reached to the middle of his nose. In one hand he held a violin case. His expression was impassive as he looked at the blond and reprimanded him with his name: "Momiji."

Momiji deflated, "Okay, Ha'ri." Kyo maintained his scowl but released Momiji.

This man who had so coolly reprimanded Momiji's attempt to hug Tohru now stepped further onto the stage. Tohru introduced him, "Dr. Hatori Sohma has done us the honor of agreeing to play the violin tonight." The crowd politely clapped their hands, and he bowed slightly, still impassive. After a moment, without any prompting, he went to his area of the stage and began to unpack his violin.

Hatori Momiji Kyo Tohru
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A calculating look came into the eye of Mayune, Himeno's older stepsister, and she spread her pink, fluffy fan over her mouth as she plotted, "Hm, I wonder if this Hatori is available?"

Mayune Himeno Hatori
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Some people spend their entire lives cultivating their image, calculating every gesture and weighing every move to ensure that they always look cool before their peers. The man coming onto the stage now needed none of this. Coolness seemed to cling to him, or exude from him, or billow out of him, or use sundry strange metaphors to be associated with him.

Hatsuharu
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The icy Mannen, sitting with the rest of Leafé Snow in the audience, decided, "That man is my role model starting today."

His guardian Go groaned.

Hatsuharu Mannen Go
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Tohru, of course, introduced him politely, "Please welcome Hatsuharu Sohma, our clarinet player."

He waved to the audience with a slight grin; his intimates knew this was the closest to his face his sincere joys got. Like Kyo, Hatsuharu was wearing black pants and a black jacket. Kyo's collar was open, but Hatsuharu's jacket was open to the middle of his chest, hinting at powerful pectoral powerhouses. Set against the pale skin of his throat was a silver necklace and a black choker. Atop his head was a thick mess of spiky white hair on top, and beneath a strict demarcation, black hair on the bottom.

Hatsuharu Tohru
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Another musician walked onto the stage, strikingly handsome with his black hair and brown eyes, making him look more normal than the other musicians. His clothing however, was far more unusual than that of the other band members. It was both elegant and gaudy, well-made and ill-considered, refined yet utterly tasteless.

"And our French horn player, Shigure Sohma!" Tohru introduced him. "He's wearing a costume designed by Aya Sohma!"

Kyo thought to himself, "And he looks insane!"

Yuki wondered if the costume would frighten anyone in the audience.

Shigure Tohru Aya Kyo Yuki
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Tohru's friend Hana said quietly, "I sense disquieting electric waves from that outfit."

"You don't need electric waves to tell it's disturbing," agreed another of Tohru's friends, Uo.

Tohru Aya Hana Uo
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Yusuke glanced mischievously at Hiei. "Wasn't Shigure the name of your eye doctor, Hiei?" he teased.

Hiei stared sullenly back.

Yusuke Hiei Shigure the Surgeon
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Nuriko counted on his fingers and announced, "That's seven members, they've got enough to be a Band of Seven."

Nuriko
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Everyone was holding their breath, but no further members appeared on the stage. That was indeed apparently all.

Tohru now announced, "Now Momiji Sohma will be doing our next song, Teru Teru Momiji."

The audience applauded as the young fellow bounded up and took the microphone. Tohru faded into the background and Momiji faced the audience with a gigantic grin on his face.

He almost immediately began to sing a capella, in a clear and confident voice. There wasn't a trace of hesitation, no holding back, but he didn't overdo his song either. Instead he let his song and its innocent, simple lyrics reach out to all of the audience.

It soon became clear that his song was short and he had finished, but he began it again, and held the microphone out, angled towards the audience, with certainty that they'd sing along.

They did- a great deal of the audience did, the theater swelling with the simple song, as everyone joined in the good feeling.

"I don't believe it," Kyo murmured in astonishment.

Tohru Momiji Kyo
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Yusuke and Kuwabara were singing along with enthusiastic arm motions, apparently delighting in the opportunity to revel in the second childhood offered by the song's lyrics. Keiko was worried this would lead to them acting up, but she had such a desire to sing along that she began to sing as well. Yukina was singing along, not having any idea why she shouldn't. Shippo and Kagome started to sing along, and Sango and Miroku joined them.

Yusuke Kuwabara Keiko Yukina
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Shippo Kagome Sango Miroku
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Miaka, Yui, and Keisuke, also sang along, as did Chiriko. He delighted in the song's combination of surface simplicity with hidden complexities, and the technical polish Momiji applied to it.

Miaka Yui Keisuke Chiriko Momiji
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Kaoru Awayuki, the father of Leafé Snow's lead singer Himeno, joined in Momiji's song because he liked it. Because he did, and because it was such a cute song, his wife Natsue did too.

Kaoru Natsue
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One of Leafé Snow's members, the youngest, Shin, tugged on Hajime's sleeve and asked, "Sing?"

Hajime nodded happily and they both began to sing along. Mannen, sitting next to them, grimaced and put his hand on his chin. Why did he have to sit next to those babies?

Mannen's adult friend Go looked at Mannen's face and decided not to bother suggesting that Mannen sing along too.

Shin Hajime Mannen Go
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Himeno, their lead singer, also wanted to sing, and soon Sasame and his date Takako also sang.

Himeno Sasame Takako
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Without realizing it, and without any microphone or amplification, Tohru had joined in the song. She was sitting behind Momiji on the stage.

Tohru Momiji
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The most junior member of the Prince Yuki Fan Club took up the song. The rest of the club did as well. They felt solidarity in their chorus, and in singing a song sung by someone who, judging by his last name, was one of Prince Yuki's relatives.

The song went on for a good while longer than even Momiji had planned. When finally it was there was a thunderous wave of applause. Momiji made one, then another, fancy bow to the audience. He then told the audience, "Thank you, thank you all! I really appreciate all of you doing your best for me! And now I'll leave you," he held a finger up to his nose and winked conspiratorially, "in the capable hands of Tohru!"

Tohru as she took the microphone, told Momiji, "That was just wonderful, Momiji." There was a burst of cheering as the audience agreed.

Prince Yuki Fan Club Motoko Yuki Momiji Tohru
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"We'll now be playing Chiisana Inori," Tohru announced, and there was anticipatory applause.

They began to play, Tohru beginning with soft and expressive vocals, accompanied by Hatori on the violin and Momiji on the flute. A little bit later, Hatsuharu added snatches on the clarinet. Around the middle of the song, Shigure's French horn came in. Yuki added in a few well-timed piano notes, while at precisely timed moments Kyo struck a triangle. Tohru eventually concluded her part, and the others conducted a brief but beautiful instrumental to close out the song naturally.

Tohru Hatori Momiji Hatsuharu
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Shigure Yuki Kyo
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The crowd leapt to its feet and began a standing ovation.

The band members were genuinely surprised. Of course they had thought their songs were good, but they hadn't expected this warm a reaction.

"Wow, I don't know what to say," Tohru spoke for them. "I'm so happy. Thank you. Thank you all so much. From all of us, thank you. Your support means so much to us."

She bowed, and so did all the rest of the band members, as the audience continued their standing ovation.

"Well, I'm afraid we have to go now," Tohru told them sadly. "I'm really sorry."

"No!" came some horrified cries from the audience. "Prince Yuki!" his fan club cried, going into premature withdrawal. Those people who had come with glowsticks began to wave them, begging for an encore.

Tohru Prince Yuki Fan Club Motoko
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"Perhaps we could do another number," Shigure suggested to Tohru. "It seems a shame to be going so soon. We wouldn't want to disappoint any of those young ladies."

"You mean any of our fans, don't you?" Yuki asked sharply.

Kyo grumbled, "You're going to get us all in trouble talking like that."

"I want to do another song, Tohru," Momiji plead, hanging off Tohru's arm. "Please?"

Shigure Tohru Yuki Kyo
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Tohru was startled, "But, don't we have to get off the stage for the next band? It's only fair."

Hatori told her steadily, "We have a certain amount of discretionary time, especially since the audience is requesting an encore. It's a standard music practice."

"Oh, I didn't know, I'm sorry," Tohru told them. She turned back to the audience and said, "It looks like we'll be able to perform a little longer. Please continue to give us your best wishes."

There was a cheer and a rustling as the audience settled back into their seats.

Tohru Hatori
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After a brief consultation, the band began to play "Lovable Tomorrow," a soft song. Hatori's violin began the song, along with Kyo on the piano. After a moment, Tohru began to sing softly. She excellently complimented Hatori's violin, and Yuki's drumbeat and cymbals kept a perfect time.

Hatori Kyo Tohru Yuki
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The audience, after they clapped, began to wave their glowsticks again, so "Animal Basket" played also "Sky-blue." It began with a mournful violin solo that nevertheless led into a hopeful song. Once the violin solo was done, Momiji used a xylophone, playfully but skillfully, while Tohru again applied her excellent singing skills. Hatori shortly after again played the violin. Shigure occasionally joined Hatori with his French horn. Kyo made good use of a synthesizer at parts of the song, while Yuki laid down one of his wondrously supple drumbeats to keep time.

After the song's eventual conclusion, they again took their bows to a great deal of applause, and this time left the stage.

Momiji Tohru Hatori Shigure Kyo Yuki
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Three of the four bands that evening had performed. It was now time for the fourth and final band.


Next Chapter:

"You wouldn't mind if I tried singing a bit, would you?"

"We don't want to hear it."

"We'll be starting with standard fan chant #3 now. Everyone to your positions."


Chapter 2 Main Chapters Chapter 4

1Anime Galleries at http://www.animegalleries.net

2http://www.ex.org/1.5/11-fy3.html

3http://www.freewebs.com/jakotsushrine/jakotsusfriends.htm

4http://morgan-d.net

5http://www.yuyuhakusho.com/index.cfm?page=characters

6http://www.angelfire.com/anime6/shinshrine/

7http://www.animeinfo.org/reviews/pret/pretq.html

8http://www.answers.com/topic/pr-tear

9http://www.angelfire.com/anime5/kawaii_shiori/YukiFanClub.htm

10http://www.absoluteanime.com/fruits_basket/yuki.htm

11http://princeyuki.tripod.com/

12http://www.wikipedia.org


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