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Better Days Are Ahead

Bay Grove, Texas

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a part of Better Days Are Ahead, by shatari19.

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shatari19 holds sovereignty over Bay Grove, Texas, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Bay Grove, Texas is a part of Better Days Are Ahead.

2 Characters Here

Sophie Stark [72] "But he isn't even family!"
Nori Tanaka [72] "This adventure will be the greatest I've ever been on yet. I can't wait for it to begin."

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Character Portrait: Nori Tanaka Character Portrait: Sophie Stark
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Cassie beamed at Sophie. "Of course I still have your number! I'll definitely be texting you later. Oh yes..this place is so huge!" she laughed. "I probably need to get back to the guys..I'm actually surprised that they've left me alone this long. Well, I'll see you later Sophie..Nori!" With that, the blonde was running back across the grass towards a small group that were sitting together underneath a large tree. She rejoined them, and sat down..and instantly sent a text to Sophie.'Hey Sophie! I'm so glad that I ran into you today! When school starts we're totally going to have to eat lunch together! Work on Nori! He's so quiet!'





Nori was glad when Cassie finally departed from Sophie and him. Though he liked the girl she was much more pushy than Sophie. As the girl walked away, he could almost feel his uncomfortableness slowly began to leave his being. "So..where are we going now?" he asked, eyeing Sophie. He wondered if she would want him to decide once again or if she would pick. Honestly, he was fine either way. Perhaps even just driving through the small town would be fun. He was just glad to be getting to see the place that he would be calling home for the next few years.

He followed Sophie back to the car. He was actually a bit sad to be leaving the lake but perhaps one day he'd be able to come back and maybe he could even draw out there. It seemed rather peaceful here. Nori got into the care with Sophie and buckled himself in. He waited quietly for her to join him. When she did, he was still quiet. He not upset or angry..or anything like that, he was just thinking. It had been strange for him to say that he was not with anyone. It was the first time that he'd been asked that since Hannah had died. He couldn't believe how hard it had been to answer Cassie's question. It had been strange to hear himself say that he was with no one. For such a long time he had been and now he was expected to just move on and forget her..at least that's how his parents had come across to him. At least here..in Texas he could maybe move on at his own pace. He had to admit that even by spending the small amount of time with Sophie had helped him not to think about his deceased girlfriend. It..was a welcome break from all of the sadness that he'd been through over the past few months.

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Character Portrait: Nori Tanaka Character Portrait: Sophie Stark
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'Yes, we're so going to hang out. And give it a rest will you? Are you eager to see me with a boyfriend? :) Nori's very quiet, yeah. He's just shy I think, but he'll warm up. xx' Sophie texted back to Cassie as she walked back to the car with Nori. She was looking forward to spending more time with her dear old friend, and was glad that she had bumped into her today. She wasn't so sure about Nori though, since the two of them seemed quite different. She talked a lot and was very energetic, while the boy was much more quiet. Sophie just hoped that Cassie hadn't made a bad impression on him.


You could almost see the tension leave his body when they walked towards the car. He'd given a strange answer to her question about whether or not he had a girlfriend, which Sophie couldn't quite get out of her head. It was none of her business, she reminded herself and shrugged it off. "Hmm? Oh.. I was thinking about that." She had been deep in her own thoughts when Nori spoke up and only just caught what he said. "We can just drive around if you want? This isn't a huge town after all." The girl shrugged and flashed him a brief smile, not sure what he wanted to do. Cassie's offer of going out after try outs was very tempting, but she wasn't sure if Nori wanted to join in on that. All in all, it was probably not so easy for him and he seemed like a person who needed some time to get used to it all. Sophie respected that, but if she wanted to go out with her friends and he didn't want to join in, she would go anyway.

After putting the seat belt on and starting the car, she looked in the mirror before she backed out of the parking spot. "I'm sorry if Cassie made you a little uncomfortable." She let out after a long pause. "She's... Energetic. Definitely not shy. She meant no harm though, she was just interested and wanted to get you to talk." Sophie shrugged and sighed. I just hope you aren't a dick and that you don't hate her now... She thought to herself and glanced over at the boy. He didn't seem like the kind of person to judge people by the first time he met them, though she didn't know him that well.

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Character Portrait: Nori Tanaka Character Portrait: Sophie Stark
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Nori was silent as he listened to Sophie. "Yea, that would be fine." he said, smiling. Sophie put her seat belt on and started the car. When they began moving, Sophie began talking to him once again..and again Nori was silent and listened to her. When she'd finished talking, he hesitated in answering her. "..No. It's all right. Really. She just caught me off guard is all." He then realized how odd that would sound to someone that didn't know about Hannah. He realized also that he wanted to explain to Sophie so that perhaps she would understand better. He could only imagine what was going through her mind. He was sure to her, that he'd acted strangely. He eyed her from the corner of his eye. The real question was could he tell her. As he sat there, taking in the sights of Bay Grove, he knew that he needed to tell her. "I was with someone up until about six months ago." He fell silent for a moment, trying to force himself to continue. "I had been in choir with her. Anyway, we dated for most of high school. We were out with everyone in our choir group one night several months before we were supposed to graduate. Hannah decided that she wanted to leave early..she'd said that she wasn't feeling well. I tried to go with her but she said that I needed to stay..that she would be fine."

He paused again, surprised that he'd gotten through so much of the story without breaking down. "About..an hour later and I still hadn't heard from her. She always would text me to let me know when she got home. So, I tried to call her..she never answered. I decided to go ahead and leave. I was worried about her. As I was walking towards her house..I came across an area that had been marked off by the police. They wouldn't let me through and it was then that I asked what was going on. I found out..that there had been a hit and run and they were still investigating it which was why they wouldn't let me through. I got..like this really bad feeling while I was there. So, I began badgering the police. Of course they wouldn't tell me anything. It wasn't until I saw Hannah's parents arrive that I realized who had been hit. She didn't make it..and never caught the guy." He fell silent then, still looking out the car window that was to his side. He couldn't believe that he had been able to tell Sophie about Hannah. He only hoped that now she could understand why he acted the way that he did. He was unsure what to say now, feeling quite awkward at the moment. He honestly did like Sophie's friend and he hoped that she could see that. She had truly caught him off guard. Though, perhaps, in the end it had been a good thing.

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Character Portrait: Nori Tanaka Character Portrait: Sophie Stark
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If nothing else, he did make it easy for her. He seemed fine with whatever they chose to do and go see. Sophie was glad. It could quickly get awkward if they just sat and didn't know where to go and then ending up driving home instead. She figured that they drive around for a couple of minutes, then park the car and go somewhere for a coffee or a soda. "Oh, good. I could imagine that it'd be a very confronting time here if you didn't like her. She's one of my very good friends, so..." She explained, in case he hadn't already figured that out. If he had to be endure a person he didn't like, that would definitely suck. Sophie would feel that way herself at least. She had a habit of being very blunt with that though. If she didn't like a person, she would say it to their face or find another way to let them know. All of a sudden, Nori started talking about an ex girlfriend. Maybe that means he's opened up a bit? Sophie thought to herself and then focused on what he said again, though she was in for a suprise.

The boy paused before he continued, the next part apparently difficult for him to get around to. At the mention of the word police, Sophie stiffened a little in her seat, her heartbeat increasing a little. When she heard the rest of the story, she looked at him with a part concerned, part horrified expression. She knew how it felt losing someone you loved more than anything, but not in the way Nori had experienced it. Afraid of losing focus of what was going on in the traffic around her, Sophie pulled the car over and pulled the handbrake.

She was speechless. What did you say to something like this? An awkward moment was spent in silence as Sophie merely stared at Nori, without saying anything. Words, Sophie Stark! Say something! Her hand had already found it's way to her father's dog tag. That habit of clutching it when she was stressed and scared or the like, she hadn't lost. "Jeg.. Øøøh..." She started in Danish, but shook her head. "Sorry, I... I'm sorry to hear that." Sophie didn't want to give Nori a hug out of fear of it being even more awkward. It did explain why he had been a bit hesitant and quiet with Cassie. "I'd say that I can't imagine what that must feel like, but that would be a lie." She said honestly, shrugging and looking down at her feet. "To be honest, I don't really know what to say..." A small smile tugged at the corner of her mouth, though it seemed more apologetic than anything else.

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Character Portrait: Nori Tanaka Character Portrait: Sophie Stark
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Listening as Sophie spoke, Nori was quiet. He, at last, turned to look at her when she admitted that she did not know what to say. A soft smile graced his face as if saying that he had expected such a reaction from her. "There isn't much to say..I suppose." He paused for a second, looking around them. It seemed that Sophie had pulled the car to a stop along a long strip of shops in the main part of town. He spotted a local coffee shop that was located rather close to them. He decided that they could use a distraction. "Come on." he said, not leaving room for any discussion. He slid out of the car and waited for Sophie to join him. When she had, Nori slowly began walking towards the shop. "I'm not going to ask you what you meant by what you said..but I am sorry. No one should ever have to know such pain." At that, Nori quickly opened the door to the coffee shop and allowed for Sophie to enter first. He then followed her in. His dark eyes took in the small shop. There was only two other people waiting in line to order which meant that they would not have to wait long. It didn't seem to him that there was anyone inside that wanted to speak with them and he was actually rather glad about this. He wasn't sure if he really wanted to handle anyone else save for Sophie at the moment.

When the barista asked for their order, Nori allowed for Sophie to place her order first. He then proceeded to order his own drink, a medium sized light caramel macchiato, before the girl was able to pay for her own. He then proceeded to pull out his wallet, then a plastic card, and paid for both drinks. They had to wait only a moment before their drinks were finished. Nori then led the way to a table that was empty, near a window. He sat down and watched Sophie hoping that she wasn't too terribly angry with him for paying. He was only trying to be nice. After having told Sophie about Hannah, Nori was feeling a bit better. Perhaps that had been what he'd needed to do all along. Since the accident he'd refused to talk with any of his friends..or his parents about the girl. As they sat at the table, Nori took a sip of his drink and proceeded to stir it a bit, mixing the milk and caramel together. "You know, my parents didn't want me to come..but I decided that perhaps it would be best for me to go ahead and come. I can't say that I was wrong." he said, smiling.

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Character Portrait: Nori Tanaka Character Portrait: Sophie Stark
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Fortunately, Nori didn't seem to dwell on it for long and even smiled at her. Perhaps he had expected that reaction from her, but Sophie still looked after him when he got out of the car and asked her to follow. As she got out herself, she smiled slightly though. Apparently he had noticed the coffee shop, which was a nice place. Sophie really liked the coffee there and it was a very cozy place. When he said that he wasn't going to comment on what she had said back in the car, she merely nodded. A silent thank you.
"Oh. Gentleman." Sophie said as Nori held the door for her, walking inside. Fortunately, there weren't very many people in line and actually not very many people in there either. Sometimes she came here, ordered a cup of coffee and sat down with a good book. "You know, sometimes I come in here with a book or my homework and just sit there with some nice coffee. Sometimes I even do my homework..." Sophie hoped that her attempt at a joke wouldn't make it awkward, and that Nori would find it funny.

When they had placed their order, she didn't even get a chance to pull out her purse and pay before Nori had paid for both their drinks. She smiled and shrugged, thinking that that was a very sweet and nice thing of him to do. She sat down at the table as well and took a sip of her coffee, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "Thank you, Nori." Sophie said, smiling a little shyly and looking down at her coffee. When he spoke up, she looked at him and listened. Why did they not... Oh... Hannah. She thought to herself. She could understand if his parents had maybe been a little overprotective. She wouldn't have had the energy to move to a new country after something like that happened, she was sure. "Yeah? Well we're glad you came." Sophie nodded. She enjoyed sitting there in the coffee shop, just relaxing and talking. It'd be a good opportunity to get to know each other better, but Sophie didn't know what to ask. After Nori telling her about Hannah, she wasn't sure he wanted to tell her anything else at all.

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Character Portrait: Nori Tanaka Character Portrait: Sophie Stark
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Nori smiled. "Really? I honestly just feel like I'm a bother.." he said, taking another sip of his drink. He fell silent for a moment, glad that they seemed to be getting along now. Much better than earlier. He was very glad of this. It would definitely make living at the Stark's home much easier on him. Nori racked his brain trying to come up with something for them to talk about. He couldn't remember the last time that he'd had this much trouble talking to a girl. At last, a thought struck him. Something that Sophie would most likely need to know if they were to spend any time together. He then proceeded to tell Sophie the story of how, when he was much younger, that he'd gone on a trip to Japan with his parents and had somehow managed to get himself locked in a closet while they'd been visiting his grandparents. He could recall the event as if it had happened yesterday. He'd been playing around in the large home that his grandparents owned, the adults were all outside talking with each other, and he'd, for some reason, decided to play in one of the closest in the home. What the five year old had not expected was to get locked in. Even now, looking back on the event, Nori could not understand how the door had come to be locked. It had taken his parents and grandparents at least an hour to realize that the child was missing. When they had found him, he'd been hysterical. From what Nori could remember, it had taken them a long time to calm him down. "So..ever since then I've been really claustrophobic. I've been trying to take wee steps to get over it but..I was able to get on the plane with minimal problems..and the car hasn't been bad at all but I was also preoccupied. Anyway, I usually go into panic attacks when it happens."

Nori knew that the fact that he had panic attacks had been in his files so therefor he was able to assume that Sophie's mother already knew about them. At least he wouldn't need to tell her. He was still smiling, though. It no longer bothered him that he did still get so worked up over being confined in small areas. His dark eyes were focused on the pretty girl that sat across from him. He softly spoke with her, making small talk, trying to get to know her a bit better. He really just asked the most common questions that most people did when they were first getting to know each other. He was feeling much better..more comfortable around Sophie. He was also hoping that perhaps she was also feel better around him. He could only imagine how it would feel having a stranger living your home. He would not care for it at all. He had to give her credit..she was at least attempting to be kind to him. He wasn't sure how well he would act in the same situation.


When Sophie had finished speaking, Nori decided to speak once again. "So, classes start in what? Two days? Which means that I've got about two and a half days to get ready for tryouts." Nori paused for a second. "Anyway, I was thinking..maybe you'd want to help me? I mean, if you don't want to help me that's fine too." He fell silent, wondering what the young woman would say. He needed to decide on a song to perform and then he'd need to practice it. It had been some time since he'd sung and if he wanted a shot of getting into the choir..he needed to make sure that he was ready for tryouts.

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Character Portrait: Nori Tanaka Character Portrait: Sophie Stark
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She merely shook her head at that. Nori was not a bother and was never in the way. At least he hadn't been so far. He was nice and well mannered, though quiet and a little shy. Nothing that bothered Sophie though she did have a hard time dealing with the fact that another man was now living in the house. She had been outraged when her mother had told her, that Nori was coming anyway. In the end it was Nori that broke the increasingly awkward silence. When he began telling the story, she listened politely. Sophie occasionally sipped her drink but otherwise focused on him. "Oh.." She was glad that he told her this, so she would keep it in mind for the future. "So, do you take Xanax or something? For the panic attacks?" Sophie asked, interested. She only knew about Xanax because she had taken them a few months after they had recieved the news of her father's death. Being locked in a closet for that long was unimaginable to Sophie and she could easily understand that Nori was claustrophobic now. It definitely made sense. What else did my mom not tell me about him? She thought to herself. If she knew Catherine Stark right, she probably thought that they should get to know each other personally, not base everything on what was on the paper.

The continued conversation afterwards wasn't so bad either. They talked about the common things but that didn't matter because they didn't know each other very well. At last Nori seemed to be more comfortable around her, which Sophie only hoped she could return. There were just a few things she felt she had to say, but not now. It was too hard to get out. And that made her feel a little bad now that Nori had opened up like that.

Sophie rolled her sleeves up and her plaid shirt, revealing the tattoo on her arm. "Yeah, two days." The girl said and nodded, smiling briefly. She didn't look forward to it, but that was just how it was. Maybe it wouldn't be all bad now that her old friend was there and Nori might be fun to have around. She really didn't know yet. He probably needed time to settle in properly. "Well, if I can help you, I'll try." Sophie said and shrugged, unsure of what he wanted her help with. "What do you want me to help you with?"

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Character Portrait: Nori Tanaka Character Portrait: Sophie Stark
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When Nori had told Sophie about being claustrophobic, she had asked him if he had to take anything for the panic attacks. He smiled at the young woman. "Yea but only when they are bad. Otherwise, I usually try to calm myself down. Sometimes it works..sometimes it doesn't." Then, when he asked Sophie if she would want to help him get ready for tryouts, the young woman spoke. He listened closely and waited until she was silent. "I need someone to tell me if I sound terrible..someone that will be honest with me. It's not hard, promise." He eyed her for a moment, taking note of her tattooed arm. "When did you get your arm done? It's wicked." He allowed for her to answer, waiting patiently for her to fall quiet. When she had, he spoke once again. "I've actually got three tattoos..my parents about had a fit when they found out about the first two. They've not seen the third..I got it about three months ago."

He took another few sips of his drink. Nori could easily guess how his parents would react to seeing the tattoo that he'd gotten behind his ear. They would likely tell him how mutilating his body would prove nothing as well as similar things along the same lines. He'd grown used to their constant badgering but that didn't mean that he liked it. "It's behind my right ear. I'll show you later, if you'd like. It actually hurt the most out of the three that I've gotten." Nori realized that he'd finished his drink. He could assume that they would be leaving the shop fairly soon. He sat patiently waiting for Sophie to tell him that she was ready. He wondered if they would go anywhere else or just simply head back to the house. Either way he was perfectly happy. He had to admit that even though the day had started off a bit awkward, it had been a good day. He couldn't imagine it having turned out any better.

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Character Portrait: Nori Tanaka Character Portrait: Sophie Stark
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She nodded, remembering when she had taken Xanax as well. She had probably not experienced as many panic attacks as Nori, but could still vividly recall what it felt like. She didn't want to try that ever again. "I hope it never happens to you again." She told him with a reassuring smile. When the young man went on to tell her what she needed to do if she wanted to help him, she listened. Sophie figured that Nori needed someone to tell her about his singing and if it sounded good or bad, and sure she could do that, but she wasn't a professional at all. "Well, I suppose I can try." She said and tilted her head, though the girl still wasn't convinced that she would be of much help. I can tell him if it sounds good or bad, but that's it... She thought to herself. It was amazing how Nori had opened up so far. It would be very awkward if he was just shy and quiet all the time. Now he wanted her to tell him if he could sing or not, which she figured was a big deal. To stand up and sing in front of just one person, if you hadn't done it in a long time, was probably a big thing. At least that meant he was more comfortable around her. "Hmm?" She let out, hearing that he spoke to her again. "Oh... " Sophie looked down at her arm and felt her stomach turn slightly. She didn't have to tell him about her dad or anything, she knew, but it still brought memories out. "I got that done about a year ago." That was all she said about it, but cracked a little smile so it wouldn't be awkward and instead listened to Nori. "Really?" She asked interested.

Her own mother didn't mind that she had a tattoo, having even considered getting one herself though she wasn't much for the whole needle thing. That was the part that frightened her. "I can imagine that would hurt.. Behind the ear." Sophie said and nodded. It was right on the bone and behind the ear. Ouch. "And I'd like to see it sometime." Fortunately, the ones she had seen were visible enough. Asking Nori to show her her tattoos could get quite awkward if they were placed on more... Intimate areas of the body. He doesn't seem like a boy to do that though... She reminded herself. Sophie had noticed that the boy across from her had finished his drink and had now finished her own as well. "Well.. Do you want to get out of here, or?"

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Character Portrait: Nori Tanaka Character Portrait: Sophie Stark
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Nori smiled at Sophie. "Sure. We can go." he said, slowly rising from the table. He picked up his now empty cup. He made his way towards the front door of the small shop. Before exiting, Nori threw the cup away and then waited for Sophie. Once she'd joined him, he led the way out of the coffee shop, once again holding the door for Sophie. Once she was out of the shop, he followed her slowly to the car. Once they reached the car, Nori hesitated for a moment, though it was a quite short moment. He wondered if Sophie had picked up on it and if so, would she say anything about it. Once in the car, Nori buckled himself in. It wasn't long before the car was moving and Nori pulled his phone out of his pocket. He began scrolling though his facebook, trying to keep himself occupied so that he wouldn't think about the closed in space that they were in.

The drive seemed to take much longer than it had earlier and Nori was certain that it was because he was actually thinking about it now. At last, the car came to a slow stop. Nori got out of the car but waited on Sophie before heading back towards the house. He felt bad about not speaking during the entire trip back but perhaps Sophie understood his reason. Once inside the house, Nori silently excused himself as soon as Sophie's mother began talking to the girl. He felt as if he needed to calm himself down. He made his way upstairs and into his room. Once in there, he took out his contacts and put his glasses on once again. He made his way over to the desk, picking up his laptop, and then sat down on the bed. He figured that if Sophie or her mother needed him that they would come to get him. It would be at least a couple of hours until supper.

He'd left his door open, feeling better with it open. He got on his facebook once again and immediately Alec sent him a message. He actually decided to talk to his friend. It had been far too long, after all, since they'd last truly spoken. How long he spent, sitting there at the computer, Nori did not know. He did feel slightly better now that he'd talked with his close friend. Though they did not speak about Hannah, Nori was glad that he decided to speak with the young man.

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Character Portrait: Nori Tanaka Character Portrait: Sophie Stark
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Again, he held the door for her and again Sophie smiled. She had never experienced anyone doing that for her before, so it meant quite a bit to her. She led the way to the car and got in. She noticed Nori's hesitating before he also got in, but didn't comment on it as she figured that he would rather not talk about that. Maybe she could offer opening a window if that would make him feel better. She chose not to say much to him during the drive as he was occupied by his phone, and because it probably took his mind off the fact that he was in the car.

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Once then got home, they went inside and Sophie didn't say anything to Nori. They hadn't spoken during the drive home, so she figured that he might want to keep the silence. When they came inside, her mother talked to her and Nori went up the stairs. Sophie gave her back the car keys and hung her jacket up before walking back to the kitchen table and putting the contents of her pockets on it.

"Was it a good trip?" Catherine asked, interested in knowing what they had been doing. She hoped it had gone well.

She nodded, shrugging. It took a while before she said anything as she was thinking about it. "Yeah, it was good. We met Cassie at the lake." Sophie smiled, still excited about that. She had really missed that girl very much, and was looking very much forward to seeing her again. "So you can expect having her over before long."

Her mother nodded and smiled, glad to hear that. "Really? That's wonderful." She started and put something away in a cupboard. "And it'll be lovely seeing her again. I know you two were close." Catherine stopped what she was doing and leaned against the table. "What about Nori? He seems more.. Comfortable." She pointed out, tilting her head.

"Yeah, I think he is." Sophie said, looking thoughtful and nodding. "He was a lot more talkative, though I think he was a little scared when we met Cassie. She really does talk." The girl looked up at her mother and smiled slightly, walking over to give her a hug. 'I'm trying my best, but it's hard having him here. I still miss dad.' She didn't say it, but neither did she have to. Her mother understood exactly what she meant to say.

A few minutes later, the Stark girl left the kitchen to let her mother fiddle around in peace. She walked up the stairs and was halfway to her own room when she stopped, contemplating on talking to Nori or asking him if he wanted to do something. 'Crap... ' She thought. Whether or not she should leave the boy alone or go talk to him, was her first dilemma. Next came the question of what they should talk about and what he might want to do.

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Nori had been sitting in his room for some time, chatting online with Alec. He moved his computer a bit from him and stretched, feeling his muscles aching from sitting in one position for so long. He gently shut his computer and then picked it up, sitting it down on his desk. After that, Nori slowly made his way out of his room only to find Sophie in the middle of the hallway. He looked at her for a moment, a odd look about his face. Then, a smile formed upon his face. "Is..there a reason you're that you're standing in the hall? Like..is that some weird American thing?" He was joking, of course. He was curious as to why Sophie was there, though.

He was still looking at her, waiting for her to speak to him. He did feel bad for just heading upstairs without saying anything. However, he'd still been a bit worked up about the car ride. Now, though, after having talked with Alec and had some time to himself, he was feeling better. He smiled at Sophie, trying to be friendly. After the young woman spoke to him, Nori thought about what they could possibly talk about or do. Then, it hit him. He'd told her earlier that he would show her one of the videos that he still had on his computer of one of the competitions that he'd taken part in. "If you want..I can show you that video now...if you want." he said. He waited patiently, wondering if she even wanted to watch the video. He doubted. Why would she care to watch such a thing.

Of course, the only videos that he still had..well he was pretty sure Hannah was in them. Most likely in the background with the rest of the choir. He wondered if he would even be able to watch it without breaking down. He would try, though. Nori did realize that he needed to get past her death. Though he had been doing quite a bit better, at times it would get to him still. He was actually surprised that he had yet to break down..even when he'd been talking to Sophie about her, he'd done fairly well at not letting himself become upset.

Nori forced himself to concentrate on Sophie. His dark eyes found hers, holding her gaze steadily. He wondered if she'd said anything yet. He really needed to stop zoning out when talking with her. She probably thought that he was crazy..for all he knew.

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Character Portrait: Nori Tanaka Character Portrait: Sophie Stark
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She realised how awkward it must be for Nori to find her standing there, frozen in the hallway. She had been so deep in thought that it didn't occur to her that it must look quite silly for her to stand there without moving. What he said made her laugh though, as she understood that he was joking. He did have a sense of humor. "Sorry." Sophie started and shrugged, turning to face him. She was relieved to see the smile replace that look of confusion on his face, as it made her feel like she was just being weird. "It is not, I was just thinking. " The girl explained, shrugging and biting her lip. How she was going to go about suggesting something for them to do, she wasn't sure. She had taken him to see some of Bay Grove, and it made it all the more difficult because she didn't know Nori very well.


If they were to get to know each other better, then she would have to figure out what Nori was into, other than singing of course. He had listed a few of his interests already, but Sophie wasn't sure about sitting down and just having him sing for her. He had asked her to help him with something with his singing though, so that would probably mean she had to listen to him. Not that it was a bad thing, but Sophie was afraid it might get awkward. "Oh," She let out, and realised that he had said something. "Yeah, sure." She offered, smiling. The girl had completely forgotten about that video, but she would like to listen to it.

Nori was very friendly and polite. Something she wasn't exactly used to. He was well mannered, kind, a little quiet but nice to talk to. That only made it harder for Sophie to stay mad at him. Of course, the girl had never been really mad at Nori, but it was hard for her to cope with the fact that there would be another man staying in their house. The loss of her father was still something she had deep inside her. Sophie had only talked with her mother about it, and then of course Cassie. It was hard for her to open up to other people. "I'm sorry. I'm a little distracted." She said, looking up at Nori as she had once again spaced out.

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Nori smiled at Sophie. "It's all right." he said, eyeing her closely. He decided that perhaps Sophie would feel better staying in the living room that they had been in earlier. "I'll grabbed my laptop if you want to go ahead and head to the living room." he said. He waited for her to acknowledge him before turning and heading back into his room. Nori got his laptop and then slowly made his way to Sophie. He gently sat down on the couch, closer than he had been that morning but still leaving quite a bit of space between them. He then opened his computer, and turned it on. He logged on and then made sure that the sound was on as well. He then began searching for the video that he'd decided to show her.

He at last found it, and opened it..pausing the video before it could start. "Now, you have to promise that you're not going to make fun of me." he said smiling. He honestly didn't care if she did or not. He was just trying to get her to talk to him. He handed the laptop to her and then showed her where to click to start the video. Immediately, after Sophie had clicked the button, his voice filled the room. Nori wasn't watching, though he was listening. He could remember that night perfectly well without watching.

It had been a year before Hannah had died, before he had let his hair grow out. All of them had been dressed in their uniforms. Nori could remember the last time that he'd seen the video. There had been several times that his parents had taped Alec and then Hannah as well. He just couldn't bring himself to watch it right then. The video had been taken the night that Nori had won one of the international competitions for the school. Nori had been all over the stage, as had the others in the choir. He'd been so happy that night. Nori did watch Sophie for her reaction,however. He was curious to see what she thought of his singing.

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"Okay." She said and smiled briefly, heading to the living room to sit down on the couch, same place as she had earlier. Sophie wouldn't go into Nori's room unless it was very important or necessary. She was very aware of people and their personal space. Now that he was staying in their home for a long time, it was important to have a place where he could just go and be himself and didn't have to think about her or her mother. When Nori joined her, he was sitting closer to her than he had this morning. She could understand if he hadn't felt very comfortable being close to her since she hadn't been wearing pants. She knew that it would make her shy and make her blush had it been her.


When he finally found the video, he waited before he started it and spoke to her. Sophie looked at the boy next to her and listened. A stray lock of brown hair was tucked back in place as she dared to smile and give a nod. "I promise I won't make fun of you." She agreed and took the laptop as he handed it to her. She noticed that he wasn't watching as the video played and his voice could be heard throughout the room. With every line he sang, her jaw dropped further. She had guessed that he was good, but this was just incredibly impressive.

When the video had stopped, she sat the laptop back on the table and turned her head towards Nori with a smirk. "The uniforms..." Sophie said and wrinkled her nose before giggling lightly. She had promised not to make fun of him, but Nori could probably take a joke. "No, school uniforms rarely look good on anyone. In my oppinion. Most guys here would disagree with me, vehemently." She said, awkwardly scratching the back of her head before getting back on track. "But seriously! That was amazing. I had the impression that you could sing, but you never said that it was that good." Sophie said and touched his shoulder gently. She was sure that if he joined the choir, most of them there would be most impressed.

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Nori watched as Sophie sat his laptop onto the table and looked at him, smirking. For a moment, Nori was unsure what the smirk was about but then Sophie spoke. He listened to her as she spoke about the uniforms that they had been forced to wear. Nori laughed, a smile on his face. "Yea..I can't say that I enjoyed wearing it. They were really hot. Of course it could have been worse. They could have had glitter all over them." When Sophie began talking about his singing, Nori eyed her with his dark eyes. When she fell silent, he spoke again. "I don't think that I'm really that good. But..thank you." He fell silent for a moment, thinking back to the last time that he had sung for anyone.

If he remembered correctly, it had been for Hannah's birthday. He'd taken her out and they'd spent the entire day together. When they had gotten to the restaurant, Nori had put together a performance for her. After dinner, he'd gotten up and performed. He'd never seen her so happy. It had made him happy to cause her such happiness. Now, thinking about it, Nori felt strange. Not about showing Sophie the video but just getting ready to begin singing again. He was actually unsure if he'd be able to do it. The video that he'd shown Sophie had been taken when he had been singing everyday. He was unsure how his voice sounded now that he'd not been singing in some time.

A small smile was now on his face. "I'm actually not sure if I'm still able to sing at all. I've never gone so long without practicing. It'll be interesting, I'm sure. I think that I know what song I want to do, though, for the tryouts. So I just need to work on it..and hope that I don't do too bad." He laughed lightly. He hesitated for a moment before continuing. "You know..I think the most nerve wracking part about performing is at the end..you never know how everyone is going to react."

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"That really would have been so much worse." She agreed, nodding. She couldn't picture anyone showing up for a concert dressed in clothes that were all glittery, unless you had just stepped out of the seventies or were a big popstar. Either way, it still didn't look very good. Sophie didn't like to watch very many concerts with pop stars. First of all, she rarely liked the music and secondly, she cringed when she saw what they would be wearing. "There's no reason to go all Lady Gaga." She added, laughing lightly at the mental image. Apparently Nori didn't completely agree with her, but she had expected that. Was there a singer, guitarist, drummer, bassist, etc., that was confident with themself? Sophie had never met one.

She shrugged as a response, though her facial expression said that she meant it. From what she had just heard, it was a safe bet that he could impress the choir. Then again, he said that he hadn't been singing for a long which she supposed meant quite a lot. Maybe if he practiced before he went to the tryouts, it'd be better. Sophie didn't know how long it took to get your voice back in shape. She still hoped that he wouldn't start to hesitate and just do it instead, since it'd probably give him something to do here rather than just go to school and sit at home. Making new friends probably wouldn't be bad idea either. 'I'm not a very interesting person when it comes down to it.' Sophie thought to herself.

Then Nori opened his mouth agan and started talking. Was that him saying that he wasn't sure that he wanted to go to the tryouts, or was he just saying that he was nervous? She couldn't really figure it out and so instead just sat and listened. "I'm sure you'll do fine." The girl said reassuringly and patted him on the knee with a brief smile. "You're welcome to practice all you want." If Nori mentioned singing to her mother, she would say the exact same thing, or at least ask Sophie to let him know. "I can imagine. There's always that brief pause where the room is completely silent." She said and nodded at him. "You just hope that they start clapping, and not boo-ing."

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Nori smiled at Sophie as she spoke to him. "I can't say that I've ever been booed. That would be a change." he said, laughing lightly. His dark eyes held Sophie's for a moment before he looked away. He was relieved that she had seemed to approve of his ability to sing. For some reason he'd been worrying about it more than he ever had before. It wasn't like him. He tried to push the thought from his mind. "Yea, so if you ever hear me randomly signing, feel free to ignore me." he said, smiling.

He was in a rather good mood now..much better than when he'd first arrived. Nori felt as if he could actually talk with Sophie and she wouldn't judge him too terribly bad. He missed being home but at the same time, he was feeling much better now that they seemed to be getting along so well. "Before you came up.. I was talking with Alec. I've not spoken with him in a long time. He did seem a bit angry with me for ignoring him for so long but I think that he's over it now." Honestly, he was glad. He couldn't stand his friend being angry with him..though he couldn't blame him for his anger. "I used to sing in his band from time to time. That was always a lot of fun."

He was eyeing Sophie once again. "Have you ever been in a band before?" he asked, watching her for her reaction. He gave her plenty of time to respond before speaking again. "I thought it was okay for every once in a while..however I wouldn't want to do it all the time. It tires out your vocal chords pretty quickly." He was smiling still at her. He wanted to get to know her but at the same time he didn't want to come across as nosey.

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"That's a good thing, though." Sophie said and nodded, smiling as he laughed. She liked Nori's laugh although she hadn't heard it very many times. It was nice to see him having a good time, or at least seeing him be less tense and nervous. She even flashed him a crooked smile herself, one that wasn't so brief as the others had been so far. Sophie was very impressed with his singing and hoped that he would go for try-outs for the choir. There were good singers there, but Nori would be a wonderful addition. "I think we'd love to have you walk around singing." She said, knowing that her mother definitely would.

It was as if she could slowly drop her guard around Nori now. Even though he hadn't been there for long, it was already getting better. In fact, she enjoyed being around him this very moment. He was fun and very polite and he listened to her when she talked. Very unlike many of the boys at school. And she was sure that Cassie would be all over her next time they'd see each other. Cassie would probably be asking her what she thought about Nori and many more things. "Yeah? Good. Having people be mad at you is never pleasant." Sophie said and shrugged. She usually did what she could not to get in anyone's way, but that usually made her come off as quiet and shy. All in all, Sophie Stark was well liked in school.

When he asked her if she had ever been in a band, she shrugged. "Nothing serious." The brunette smiled slightly and let her eyes meet his. Sophie had never really found someone that wanted to play the same music as her, so the few bands she had been in had never lasted for very long. "I can imagine that if you're in a serious band and rehearse a lot, it'll be rough on your voice." She said and shrugged, adjusting her top. She sat in silence for a while and looked out the window. "Hey, would you like something to drink?" Sophie felt like having some red wine, which they usually had for dinner on weekends. "I think we have some red wine, if you'd like?"

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"Yea, but..it was alot of fun. Then, it got to where I had no time for anything else." he said, smiling at Sophie. Then, she asked if he wanted something to drink. Nori thought about it for a moment. Did he? He normally didn't drink but perhaps a small amount would be okay. He nodded, hoping that Sophie understood that he was saying that he was fine with having some. "Would you like me to come with you?" he asked softly, watching her. He doubted she would let him, seeing as how she still saw him as a guest. He watched as she made her way out of the room. He remained sitting on the couch, waiting for her to return.

While she was gone, Nori took the chance to gaze upon the room they were currently in. Sophie's home was quite different from his own. However, it was a nice change. Here, he was able to forget everything that had caused him to spiral into the deep sadness that he'd been in as of late. He curled up on the couch, pulling his legs to rest beneath him. He hoped that Sophie was feeling at least slightly better about him being there. Though she'd not come out and said it..he doubted that she'd been okay with him coming to live with her and her mother. Hell, he knew that he wouldn't be okay with it.

As Sophie returned, Nori offered her a smile. It hadn't seemed like she'd been gone that long. But..then he'd been lost in his mind as he often did in such situations. He waited for her to offer him a glass and then gladly took it, thanking her. He took a sip of the red liquid before speaking. "So..I don't think that have showed you my tattoos yet. Would you like to see them? I promise they are all in decent places." he grinned at her, waiting for her reply.

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She nodded and smiled, getting up off the couch. The girl had understood that Nori would like something to drink, but that he would only have a little. Sophie didn't mind. She just wanted to offer him some wine and how much he wanted to drink, was up to him. It wasn't for her to decide how much he should have.
When she reached the kitchen, she looked through their cupboards in search of a bottle of wine. "Mom?" She called out, after which her mother came into the kitchen and looked at her daughter.

"What?" Catherine asked and looked puzzled.

"I offered Nori a glass of wine. Do we have a good one?" She said to the woman, smiling briefly. Her mother was fine with her drinking alcohol, but it was clear that she hadn't expected her daughter to do that. She knew how hard it was for her to have Nori there, but it seemed like she was doing a little bit better.

Catherine shook her head as a smile played at her lips. She walked over to the top cupboard and found a good bottle of wine and two glasses. She opened it and handed it to Sophie along with the glasses. "Now take it easy, I don't want you to pass out and not come down for dinner." She joked and then left.

Sophie shook her head and rolled her eyes although she couldn't help but smile. "Why? I was thinking that we could do some drugs and listen to Bob Dylan at the same time." She shot back and chuckled, heading upstairs. When she finally came back to Nori, she set the glasses down on the table and poured them both some wine. When he spoke, her cheeks reddened a little. She hadn't expected that he would say that and it caught her a little of guard. "If they're all in decent places, then go ahead." Sophie said with a light chuckle and took a sip of her wine, smiling.