"Remind me again, Quatre," Duo whined. "Why am I here?"
The small blond smiled gently. "Because you promised Usagi anything if she'd stop crying."
The American sighed and frowned exaggeratedly. "It should be Heero here, you know, Quatre. This is all his fault."
As far as it went, that *was* true. Heero had started all this.
~ * ~ * ~
A group of girls were talking behind him and Trowa; otherwise he might have heard exactly what Heero said. All Quatre knew for sure was that Usagi had barely taken her seat between Duo and Heero when Heero said something or gave her one of his patented death glares and she sprang right back up. He was sitting a row behind them, and he could see tears streaming down her face before she whirled and ran out of the classroom, leaving the newly arrived teacher to stare after her in shock.
Duo turned in his seat to look at Quatre and Trowa. "Check on her. I'm going to have a talk with Heero about his social skills." And then he was grabbing his best friend by the back of his school uniform and dragging him out of the classroom, right past the teacher as well.
With a shared silent shrug, he and Trowa stood and headed in the direction Usagi had gone. Thankfully she hadn't gotten too far; she was sitting out on the school's roof. Unfortunately, she was still crying.
"Daijoubu ka, Usagi-san?"
Mutely, she shook her head, tears continuing to fall. She continued to ignore all his requests, steadfastedly maintaining her silence until she heard a different voice speak. "Usagi, are you okay?"
"Iie, Duo-kun," she answered slowly, "but I will be, later."
He sat down beside her on the edge of the roof. "I'm sorry about Heero. He's always like that, though, so I guess you get used to it after a while."
"I'll remember that."
He easily slid an arm around her shoulders then looked a bit surprised when she leaned into him. "Come on now, Usagi. Stop crying. I'll do anything you want, if you'll just stop crying."
She sniffled once and looked up at him with big hopeful blue eyes. "Anything?"
~ * ~ * ~
"You friend here has a nice place, Duo," Trowa commented, taking a seat beside Quatre on the couch.
Duo managed a weak grin. "I'm more worried about what she's doing in there." He nodded back toward the door Usagi had disappeared through.
"Well, there haven't been any explosions or anything," said Quatre. "Surely that's a good sign."
Almost as if on cue, there was a loud banging noise, followed immediately by a slightly embarrassed-sounding, "Dai-daijoubu, minna! I just dropped something, that's all!"
"Are you sure you don't need any help, Usagi-san?" Quatre called.
"No, no, I'm fine, Quatre-san. It'll be ready in just a moment," then a bit quieter, "I think."
"Feeling like a ginuea pig yet, Quatre?" the American teased.
"I heard that, Duo-kun!" Usagi yelled.
"It's ready now," she continued, much more calmly, appearing in the doorway. "Right this way," she glared at Duo, "P-chan." 
Quatre coughed softly, apparently trying to stifle a laugh. "'Pig, cute'?"
"Hai!" she replied with a smile that even Trowa had to share; it was that contagious.
"Couldn't it at least be "D-chan' or something?" complained Duo.
"'Duo, cute'?" He nodded. "We'll see." She paused again. "I want to warn you: it'll look terrible, so please try not to judge it on appearances."
"P-chan. . ." She allowed the new nickname to drag out. "At least I don't blow something up everytime I cook." 
"I'm sure it will be great, Usagi-san," Quatre calmly put in.
That was, of course, before they entered the small dining area in Usagi and her guardian's apartment.
Surely worse-looking food had been seen somewhere on earth or in space, but at the moment, this took the prize. Usagi took a spot at the low table and looked up at them with sweet, hopeful eyes. One by one, each young man took the spot she'd set for each of them and, with no small amount of trepidation, slowly took a bite.
"Well?" Usagi asked nervously.
"Honestly, it's great, much better than it looks," answered Duo between mouthfuls.
"Honest?" He nodded, mouth too full to answer aloud, and she cracked a most brilliant smile. "Doomo, D-chan."
16 October 2000
Another Act done! Yay!!!
 P-chan: Come on, who *doesn't* know Ryoga-kun (aka P-chan, aka Fangboy #3!) from Ranma 1/2!
 A reference to another anime I like: Lost Universe. Milly can't cook anything without blowing something up.
This whole chapter is a reference to my own questionable cooking skills. It tastes fine but looks horrible.
I did want to explain a few other things, like why I always thank Chibi712 and Amber at the beginning of every chapter. Amber-chan came up with a lot of the subplot to this story. The original idea came from Chibi-chan. So, doomo, Amber-chan, Chibi-chan!