Wild World

Song performed by Cat Stevens
Story by Niki (NeeP) Paradis

    It was getting late and Ucchan's had officially closed for the night. Ryouga Hibiki sat alone at one of the tables, staring into his now cold tea. His wife, Ukyou, was busy cleaning the grills after a busy day. Her eyes were dry --she had spent most of the day crying already.

    Ryouga sighed. It has been about ten hours since their only daughter had left. He thought over what had happened. It was for the best, he told himself --again. If she didn't go with our blessings, she still would have left. It just doesn't make the whole thing aniy easier to bear.

    The new-type short-wave radio that the twins left behind for testing was picking up an American oldies station. Ukyou admitted that she didn't understand half the words, but she liked the music. Ryouga understood English well enough, and he started as the next selection began playing.

  Now that I lost everything to you...

    Earlier that same day, his world fell apart.

    "Touchan? I need to talk to you..."

    Ryouga Hibiki looked at his sixteen year-old daughter. Yoiko Hibiki was beautiful young woman, with short dart hair, and large blue-green eyes. She was dressed in her travelling clothes; green leggings and a yellow tunic. She was carrying a heavy backpack, which was typical of a member of the family.

    "Sure, Yoiko-chan... Um, are you going somewhere?" He pulled out a stool for her to sit on. Yoiko Hibiki set her backpack on the floor, but she remained standing.

  You say that you want to start something new...     "I'm leaving, Touchan." Yoiko looked her father in the eyes as if she was delivering an ultimatum. Then she waited for her father's reply. And it's breaking my heart you're leaving.     Ryouga froze. He still and did absolutely nothing about a minute. He was in shock. He realised that Yoiko wasn't asking his permission, she was telling him what she was going to do. He sighed.

    "Do you have to?" he asked finally.

    "Yes, Touchan," she replied. "I do."

Baby, I'm grieving.     Ukyou came around the counter and approached the two.

    "Is something going on?" she asked, cheerfully unaware.

    "Yoiko is going on a trip, Ukyou," Ryouga said to her matter-of-fact.

    "She is?" Ukyou couldn't believe it. "Why is that?"

    "Yeah, tell us why you have to leave?" Ryouga asked.

    Yoiko didnít expect him to ask that.

"I need time to think. To get my life straight." Yoiko's words began to stumble as she tried to get everything out. Ever since the curse, the school dance..."     Ryouga said nothing.

    Ukyou's face went white.

    "I just need some time to think." Yoiko's voice trailed off.  Ryouga still said nothing. Yoiko expected him to blow up at her --to tell her that she wasn't going anywhere.

But if you want to leave, take good care     Ryouga sighed. He sounded like he had just been defeated. "You really thought about this, didn't you?" he asked her finally.

    "Yes," she replied.

Hope you have a lot of nice things to wear.     "You've packed everything you need, right?"


'Cause a lot of nice things turn bad out there...     "Yoiko-chan, listen..." Oh Baby, baby, it's a wild world.     "Yoiko, this is your first time going out on your own. The world can be a pretty big place."

    "Touchan, I know that."

    "No, listen. There are different laws and rules to each place you travel. Pay attention to them. Your life may depend on it."

It's hard to get by just upon a smile...     "Be careful," said Ukyou. "You're a beautiful and lovable girl. You're also one of the kindest people that I have ever known. But you have to understand that it won't be enough to stay out of trouble. There are people out there that wonít care how nice you are, or that you did them a favour earlier."

    "So remember to protect yourself," said Ryouga.

Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world...     "Be careful," said Ukyou.

    "I will, Kaachan," promised Yoiko.

I'll always remember you like a child, girl...     "We'll miss you," said Ryouga.
    Ryouga recalled kissing his daughter on the cheek and giving her a hug. He watched as Yoiko and Ukyou held each other for what seemed to be forever, yet ended too soon. She hugged her older brother, who stole into the kitchen during the conversation. Iikiba didn't say anything, but he gave her a few of his favourite throwing spatulas. Then, Yoiko said good-bye to her younger brother. Takashi was trying not to cry --it wasn't something that fourteen year olds did, but he let her and everyone else around know that he didn't like the fact that she was leaving. But even he understood.

    Then with a smile and a cheerful wave, Ryouga's and Ukyou's only daughter left.

    The song was still playing, and Ryouga sighed. He tried to remember as much of what he told his daughter before she left.

You know that I've seen a lot of what the world can do...

    Ryouga tried to give as much advice that he could from his experience in his travels. He told her of some of the more awful things that he had seen, in a last ditch attempt to changer her mind. And it's breaking my heart in two.     It didnít work, but it was obvious that Yoiko did appreciate the attempt. She was leaving despite of all the cautions that he gave her. Because I never want to see you sad, girl...     She told her father that she understood that he was trying to protect her from the misery and all of the disappointments that he had experienced when he was young and wandering. She thanked him for his concern.

    "Just remember to take time out to do something that would make you happy," Ukyou told her daughter.

    "I will, Kaachan," she replied.

Don't be a bad girl.     "And stay out of trouble," said Ryouga. But if you want to leave, take good care     Ryouga told his daughter that he understood why she had to leave and that he knew that she would be miserable if she was made to stay. With all that had recently went on, she needed time out for herself --away from those who hurt her.

    Ukyou told her to take care of herself.

Hope you make a lot of nice friends out there...

    Both parents knew that a friendly girl like Yoiko would have no problems making friends. They both told her that making friends in strange places might be the best thing she can do while travelling. But remember that there's a lot of bad and beware...     They also warned her about people who might try to use her --of people who would pretend to be her friends just to get things out of her. Ukyou gave Yoiko tips on how to spot such people, and suggested that a swift kick to the head might deter them.

    Ryouga chuckled despite the sadness of the occasion.

Beware!     "But seriously, Y'iko-chan, I mean it. Watch out for jackasses like that."

    "I will."

Oh baby, baby, it's a wild world.     Ryouga, Ukyou and family all stood by the door. They each gave Yoiko one final hug.

    Ryouga's was the longest. "Take care," he said.

    Takashi was trying to make it look like Yoiko's leaving was no big deal. But he didn't fool anyone with tears running down his face. Then he dropped all pretences, and removed his green bandanna and scrubbed at his face.

    Iikiba was whispering last minute advice to his sister. He gave her a small notebook full of addresses of helpful places that he had been but could never find again.

    Ukyou handed her daughter a bento of okonomiyaki and then told her to go before she broke down in front of the customers.

Hard to get by just upon a smile.     Yoiko Hibiki shouldered her backpack and turned and left. She gave her family the biggest smile that she could, but she realised that it didn't help stop the pain she was feeling. It only help disguise it a bit. Oh baby, baby, it's a wild world.     She took a final look at the house and restaurant where she grew up. It seemed so small to her now, compared to the entire world waiting for her. But it held the warmth and closeness of home and family. She'll miss it --badly. I'll always remember you like a child, girl.     She looked to her father and tried to recall everything that he told her about the dangers and joys awaiting her in the world. She couldn't though. But she shrugged and smiled to herself. Guess I will have to find out for myself.     Ryouga sighed as he looked up from his tea. He knew that he taught her the best that he could and that there were things that Yoiko would have to find out for herself.

    The American song played its final refrain. Ryouga found himself singing along with the words, his entire heart going out to his little girl who just left to discover the world.

Oh baby, baby, it's a wild world.

Hard to get by just upon a smile.

Oh baby, baby, it's a wild world.

I'll always remember you like a child, girl.

    As the last of the melody died and before the next selection began, Ryouga reached over to the short-wave radio and turned it off. He wiped the tears from his eyes. Then he took his teacup to the kitchen.

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