Episode 8 Part 3
"HARUHI!" I shouted again once I reached the cliff top.
However, I froze at the sight I saw. There were two local boys, one held two of the terrified guests; the other held Haruhi over the edge of the cliff by her shoulders.
"Hope you can swim." The ponytail jerk sneered, before pushing her over the edge.
"HARUHI!" I heard Tamaki yell, running past me and diving after her.
I regained my senses and stopped the twins before they had all the fun to themselves.
"What the hell do you think you're doing Doggie?" Hikaru yelled at me angrily
"The dude holding the girls captive is yours. Mr Ponytail, however, is mine." I growled, starting to see red.
I released the twins and they rocketed to the first guy. I slowly walked up to the prick that pushed Haruhi in.
"You wanna play princess?" the guy chatted up sleazily as I neared
I smiled as wide as possible, eyes red and manic, and nodded enthusiastically.
"Hey, what's with your eyes? And the creepy smile?" he queried, his confidence faltering the closer I got.
I got so close to his face our noses almost touched. I giggled like a little girl then head-butted the prickly pear. Next I punched him in the stomach and pulled him down to the ground by his ponytail, which he landed with a satisfyingly painful thud.
"Fuck!" he exclaimed in pain
"Shouldn't have said that." I giggled, in a sickly sweet voice
I stepped out the way just as Rossi pounced on him, in his red eye rabid mode.
"Now I need him conscious enough to have a likkle chat, unfortunately," I told Rossi, to which he got the boy and returned to normal.
Not that it wasn't entertaining to see my little brother tear up an chauvinistic prick.
I knelt beside the battered boy and grabbed his shirt collar.
"What is your problem you psychos?" he had the audacity to utter.
"You tell me. What did you do?" I asked, continuing with the voice as my eyes stared intently into his own.
"I p-pushed the sis-sissy off the c-cliff?" he stammered, beginning to look nervous
"What else?" I persisted
"Someone's telling porkies!" I sang
"You and your buddy kept harassing innocent girls weren't you, despite them clearly being scared by you."
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry." He babbled
"My best friend could be seriously hurt for all I know. He could've bashed his head on the Cliffside and fell unconscious. My blond friend didn't save him in time; he could be dying or dead. What would've that made you hmm?"
"Murderer," I whispered in his ear
"Oh crap please don't kill me!" he pleaded desperately
"I'll consider sparing your life if you'll tell me how you're going to change in the future so this doesn't happen again?"
"I won't throw anyone off cliffs."
"And?" I urged
"I will treat girls with respect?"
"That's enough Tomuru." I heard Kyoya call behind me
"One more thing. If I ever see you harass girls again I will not be so merciful am I clear?"
"This was you merciful?" he uttered in fear.
"Am. I. Clear?"
"Good." I stood up and turned my attention to Kyoya, Rossi and the twins.
"Right I think I've got it all out of my-"
"Fucking Bitch!" the boy suddenly snarled, grabbing my ankle and yanking it from under me, which caused me to fall.
Oh, I'm going to KILL HIM! Hang on should I have landed on the floor by now? Wait is that the cliff…oh crap!
I just barely managed to hold my breath before I plunged into the seawater. Luckily the water wasn't too choppy so I wasn't thrown all over the place by the tide. I swam back up the surface with my eyes and nose stinging like crazy. When I broke through to the surface I took a breath of air before having a small coughing fit, my eyes watering from the water going up my schnoz (nose in Tomuru speak).
I tread water and looked back up to see Rossi and the Tweed's heads looking down at me.
"Hey sis ya need saving?" Rossi called down to me
"NO BUT THAT PRICKLY PEAR UP THERE WILL CUS I'M GOING TO MURDER HIM!" I shouted up them, still pissed off
"You can't do that it's illegal!" Hikaru joked
"Doggggiie that kills people!" Kaoru joined in, which made me laugh and swallow some more sea water in the process.
"A cough, cough I'll meet you guys at the shore." I managed to splutter out
"Kay!" Rossi responded and the three heads disappeared.
I swam around the cliff towards the shore, returning to where the others were. I squinted and managed to make out some human sized bobs on the beach, which I swam towards assuming it was the others. My anger was replaced with worry, wondering how dearest's condition was. Despite water clogging my ears I managed to hear Haruhi's and Tamaki's voices as I neared.
"That's no excuse you idiot! Don't forget you're a girl!" I heard Tamaki scorn
"Look I'm sorry you had to come and save me Senpai but I don't understand why you're so mad at me right now? I don't think I did anything wrong!" Haruhi defended herself
That's my dearest!
"You don't think so? Fine whatever you say. But I'm not speaking to you until you can admit that you were wrong!" Tamaki declared stubbornly
I walked up to them squelchy and wet, hugging dearest from behind.
"You ok? Not dead or dying?" I queried
"I'm fine you've still got to put up with me for years yet," Haruhi assured, turning around and hugging me back.
"By the way you're forehead looks a little red sugar." Haruhi pointed out
"Probably from head butting that ponytail jerk," I replied
"Tomuru you should've let us handle the boys. You could've got seriously hurt." It was my turn to get the fatherly scorn.
I let go of Haruhi and stomped up to face Tamaki. He picked the wrong girl to start arguing with.
"Don't you start with me Tamaki Suoh! How DARE you say that I should just stand back while my best friend was in danger. How DARE you stereotype MY gender as weak and frail and always in need of saving. I know how to fight off ANY gender that dares hurt my loved ones. I learnt self-defence from my sister who shockingly is also a female. Women can be strong just as men can be weak so why don't you kindly BACK OFF!" I ranted, before stomping up the beach taking Haruhi and my belongings with me.
"Sugar Kyoya's beach house is that way." Haruhi reminded me.
"Oh…yes I finally got all the water out my ears!" I stated in relief.
Back in my room…
After I showered and changed into a black vest stop and camouflage print shorts I sprawled on my bed. Haruhi joined me a few minutes after wearing a pink dress with frills on the shoulders.
"Ranka's doing?" I sussed
"Yep, dunno why dad keeps on insisting I wear this stuff."
"Cus he wants you to live up to your cute potential."
"Yay the made up funny word game!"
"Figured you need something silly after a stressful day like today."
"Thanks, dearest. Hmm THWATANG!"
"Ooh, good one. Uh MARRUGO!"
"KINKAJOU! No, wait that's an animal."
"Kinkajou's an animal."
"I have never heard of it."
"It's real. I'll prove it when we get back."
"If you insist."
"…I did the right thing right?" Haruhi then asked doubtfully
"Look you did what you have to do. The girls could've been badly hurt or even kidnapped if you didn't do what you did. Just next time try not to become the victim in the process. If you need help just yell our code word for danger." I reassured her, to which she looked at me sheepishly
"You forgot the code word didn't you?" I sighed
"Well we made it up when we were nine what do you expect?" Haruhi defended
"Tis Chubacabra dearest." I reminded her
"Oh yeah the big foot yeti thingy." Haruhi recalled
"Yep the big foot yeti thingy."
"Just in case something similar happens again do you think you could spare some time to let me teach you some self-defence?" I requested
"Yeah sure, though it may cut through our bouncing on the bed time." Haruhi agreed
"A sacrifice that must be made. You have to call me Sensei sugar whilst I train you."
"Yes!" I insisted
"Fine, so what happened after I fell?" Haruhi asked
"Well…" I proceeded to tell her what happened after she fell. The threatening, Rabid Rossi, me falling the whole shebang.
"Can't believe that guy did that, you can be pretty scary when you wanna be. If it were me I'd be terrified." Haruhi commented
"It will never be you dearest." I assured
"By the way do you know what happened to those misogynistic guys?" I wondered
"All I know is the guys took their IDs and told them to leave." Haruhi answered
"Well, you, Rossi and the twins did most of the punishing," Haruhi stated
"So have you calmed down now?"
"I'm good, so long as no one starts setting me off again," I assured
"Let's hope that doesn't happen then."
"Do you think they've guessed my fear dearest?" I wondered
"Which one? The one everyone with loved ones share or the completely irrational one?" Haruhi asked
"Hey those plastic popping nightmares are not to be trusted! And the first one." I defended myself
"Well no one really wants to see their loved ones in that situation, but I don't think they don't count it as a fear they wanted you to tell them. The other fear they'd love to get their hands on." Haruhi answered
"Well they're not getting it anytime soon."
"Sorry for scaring you sugar." Haruhi apologised sincerely, whilst giving me a hug.
"Apology accepted dearest," I replied, hugging her back.
At that moment, Rossi came in and climbed on top of us.
"Oi!" I exclaimed, trying to make him get off by wafting at him, which was unsuccessful.
"I told the others it would be best to give you some space until dinner time. So they're in the dining hall, whilst Honey and Mori Senpai prepare the crabs." Rossi informed
"Eugh Crabs." I grimaced
"So you ok now?" Rossi asked
"Until someone sets me off again yeah."
"Good enough. By the way, after that guy grabbed your ankle and chucked you in I went rabid and beat him close to unconsciousness. Then Mori pulled me off and the two guys got kicked out the beach with their IDs taken off them." Rossi explained
"That's my brother!" I cheered proudly
"So you decided to wear your new sundress Rossi?" Haruhi noticed
"Yep whatcha think?" Rossi got off us and showed off his rainbow coloured, spaghetti strapped sundress.
"Tis colourful and it suits you," I commented, to which his smile got bigger.
"You cute rainbow Rossi." I gushed, hugging him
Then came three knocks at the door.
"Speak friend and enter." I stated
"Friend?" Mori's voice came through the door
"Mori Senpai you can enter. I'll let you off since you didn't get the reference." I opened the door to let Mori step in.
"Dinner's ready," Mori told us
"Good, I'm starving," Haruhi commented.
I grabbed my ramen before the four of us headed to the dining room.
"Where's the kitchen Groot?" I asked Mori, to which he pointed to the door next to us labelled Kitchen.
"Oh…thanks." I thanked, which he gave a nod in response.
"We'll meet you at the dining hall sugar." Haruhi stated before the three of them walked away and I entered the kitchen.
"Ooh very fancy," I commented in a posh voice, before searching for a kettle.
As soon as I found it I filled it with water and switched it on. Once I prepared my ramen I got some chopsticks and carefully headed to the dining hall. I opened the door and let myself in as they chowed down on their crabs.
"Hey, Tomo Chan!" Honey greeted
"Take a seat Doggie," Kaoru stated
I placed my ramen down and sat on the spare seat by Kyoya, shuffling as far away as possible from the crabs.
"So what have you got for dinner?" Hikaru asked
"Pork and mushroom ramen," I answered
"These crabs taste incrabable…heh, get it?" Haruhi spoke with her mouth full, snapping another crab leg.
"Frickin puns." I groaned
"You trying to be cute?" Tamaki grumbled at Haruhi, to which she side glanced him and continued eating.
I finished eating and watched everyone else eat in bewilderment.
"How can you are guys eat just crab?" I asked
"Not everyone hates seafood Tomuru." Kyoya responded, snapping another crab leg.
"Don't you think you've had enough? Give it a rest." Tamaki told Haruhi when a large pile of empty crab shells began to pile up beside her.
"Excuse me? I thought you weren't speaking to me." Haruhi back chatted
"Fine, I get it. It seems you refuse to admit that you're wrong. See if I care then I'm going to bed. Kyoya could you show me to my room, please." Tamaki stated huffily, excusing himself from the table.
"No problem. Well, excuse me, everyone." Kyoya excused himself and followed Tamaki.
"Dearest I know you've got an never ending stomach but you're gonna get sick," I advised, to which Haruhi stopped snapping the crab leg in her hand.
"Maybe he's right." Haruhi murmured
"Dearest you're doubting yourself again." I stated
"So that's it he got to you huh?" The twins remarked
"It wouldn't hurt for you to learn martial arts or something." Hikaru stated
"But it's not like we're gonna force you to learn it." Kaoru added
"Already got it covered. I'm gonna start teaching her some self-defence." I interjected
"So she'll be as scary as you?" Kaoru chuckled
"Besides that's not the real issue here." The twins spoke simultaneously
"To be honest we were all a little worried, about how recklessly you acted," Hikaru admitted
"What do you mean? I didn't cause you guys any trouble or anything." Haruhi stated, to which the twins shrugged casually.
"That's not true Haru-Chan. I think you should apologise kay? You made us all worry especially Tama Chan. I think you should apologise to him the most." Honey spoke up
"You were all worried about me? But why?" Haruhi asked in confusion
"Because that's what friends do you numpty!" I answered
"You're hopeless." The twins sighed
"You think? Guys I'm really sorry." Haruhi apologised earnestly, which of course caused the Tweeds and Honey to glomp and nuzzle her.
"Aw, apology accepted you little mutt!" Hikaru gushed
"You so cute we forgive you!" Kaoru gushed
"Guys give her some space I think she's gonna hurl!" I stated urgently when I saw Haruhi go pale.
"I don't feel so good." Haruhi murmured weakly
"Let's get her into the nearest restroom hurry!" Kaoru suggested
"Be strong Haru-Chan." Honey told her as we ushered her into the nearest room.
We returned to the dining room once she made it to the restroom.
"I hope Haru Chan's not too poorly." Honey spoke up worriedly
"She'll be fine. It's her fault for eating too much." I assured
"By the way I'm sorry if I caused you guys any worry." I added sincerely
"Well we were a little less worried with you since you can be surprisingly scary when you want to be." Hikaru responded
"Though we did get concerned when you fell into the sea. But then you started going off on one about murder and we knew you were fine." Kauru stated
"Speaking of fighting you said your sister taught you to fight. So does Yuki get all rabid and red eyed when she fights?" Hikaru asked
"Well she's always snappy, she doesn't contain her anger so her fighting style is more controlled and human. Not rabid and anger fuelled like Rossi and I." I explained
"I didn't even need to be taught to fight. Mine are more instinctive, triggered by swears as you know. I can control it around family and friends though, but just barely." Rossi informed
"How's your forehead Tomo Chan?" Honey asked, prodding it gently
"Tis fine Honey, though I think it'll bruise."
"You're forehead seems to get injured more than any other body part lately." Rossi noticed
"Lately it has yeah." I agreed
"Why do you do the creepy girl voice when you threaten?" Hikaru wondered
"To freak out my opponent Tweedledum," I answered, speaking in the voice and staring intently at Hikaru.
"Please stop you're freaking me out!" he pleaded
"See? Tis very effective." I returned to my normal self
"Ain't it just." Hikaru muttered
"Is that why you smile so much too?" Honey asked
"Uh huh. Now I'm going to track down Tamaki and apologise. Unless you guys need a hand cleaning up?" I offered
"Nah we've got it you go find dad." Rossi assured
"You called Tamaki dad!" I laughed
"What? No!" Rossi denied, a look of horror on his face as the twins and I laughed
"I'm telling him Muhahahaha!" I ran out of the dining room
"Noooo his ego will inflate!" Rossi complained
"Now where's Tamaki's room?" I muttered to myself, walking down the hall all the guest's room were in.
However, I didn't have to wonder for long as Tamaki came out of the room to the right of me, which made me jump.
"Dancing Aardvarks!" I gasped in surprise
"Tomuru? I thought you were with the others?" Tamaki stated in confusion
"I was then I went looking for you," I replied, before giving him a hug.
"Wh-what's this for?" Tamaki asked in surprise
"I'm sorry for worrying you…Dad." I apologised softly
"…You're forgiven." He replied, returning the hug.
"I would try and make you promise you wouldn't do it again, but you'll get angry at me again," He added when we stopped hugging.
"Ah, you're learning, good. But I think you'll learn more if you read my mum's books. Could you do that for me, please?" I requested
"Will it make you happy?"
"Then consider it done daughter dear!" Tamaki declared
"Thanks, I'm gonna go fin Haruhi and see if she's ok. She threw up after eating too much crab." I explained
"Alright I'm going to see if Kyoya's got any sun lotion for my sun burn." Tamaki replied
"By the way don't be too harsh with dearest. I know you really care about her but if she hadn't intervened who knows what would've happened to the girls." I spoke earnestly, to which Tamaki nodded
I then went in my room and looked around to see if Haruhi was in there.
"Whelp she's not in here," I concluded, after a vague search around.
I was about to shut the curtains when I noticed the torrential weather outside. It was dark and miserable with rain lashing down, I could barely see the beach.
"I don't like the looks of this." I murmured to myself
"YOU BASTARD!" I heard Tamaki shout furiously
"What the fraggle?" I stated in surprise, turning my attention to Kyoya's room next door.
What did Kyoya do to anger Tamaki so much he swore? And in the close proximity of Rossi too!
Just then I heard a low rumble of thunder from outside and I managed to whip my head around to see a flash of lighting illuminate the surroundings.
"Dearest!" I shouted in a panic.
I was about to run out the room when the shadow lord entered
"Kyoya where's Haruhi?" I asked, too much in a state of worry to wonder why his shirt is off.
"She's with Tamaki and she's perfectly fine." Kyoya answered
"She is NOT perfectly fine Kyoya! I've got to go comfort her." I snapped, however he blocked the entrance.
"You best get out my way!" I growled impatiently
"Why did you turn the light off? And why are you shirtless?" I asked, now in a state of confusion
"You really are an idiot."
Suddenly Kyoya forcefully pushed me onto my bed and held me by my wrists, his body overhanging mine.
"What do you think you're doing?" I demanded, my voice dangerously quiet and my anger rising for the third time today.
"You didn't even see me coming. You protect and look out for the ones you love yet that leaves you exposed for others to hurt you." He snarled
"Oh shut up pervert!" I exclaimed
I drew my leg up to knee him in the stomach. As I thought he instinctively clutched his stomach with one hand, which freed my right arm. With my free hand I firmly clutched his neck and forcefully rolled him over, so I was on top of him. Then I released his neck and pinned him down.
"Don't spew such crap! You're not stupid enough to rape me here. For starters there are witnesses, very nosy witnesses. Secondly you would bring shame and disgust to your family name, which I don't think you want. Finally there was no way in hell I would EVER let you, unless you wanted to be castrated. Even if you somehow managed to I would see to it that you rot in prison! Well am I wrong?"
He shook his head slowly.
"Damn right I'm not wrong! Don't you ever try that crap on me, Haruhi or anyone else ever again! I can't believe a Host would even consider threatening anyone with rape to get them to comply. Never mind a Host who apparently is a fan of my Mum's books. I have lost what respect I had for you Kyoya now you really are evil. I suggest you re-read the Tomboy series and pay attention to its message. Now where is Haruhi?"
"Next door in my room," He answered quietly
I got off him and ran out of the room, bursting into Kyoya's room. What I saw calmed me down immensely. I smiled softly as I saw Tamaki hug Haruhi soothingly.
"You don't have to be afraid. I'll always be here for you Haruhi. You never have to be alone again." Tamaki assured her gently.
Then Tamaki noticed me and blushed a little. I walked up to them, still smiling and a little teary eyed.
"Don't let me stop you," I whispered to him, as he was moving to let go of Haruhi.
"I'm sorry I wasn't here sooner dearest. But I can see you're in safe hands. You'll be protected by Tamaki tonight. I'm going to bed now, you'll be fine I promise." I muttered to Haruhi stroking her hair.
She responded by nodding slightly, continuing to hug Tamaki.
"Thank you," I told Tamaki, to which he smiled.
I returned the smile and quietly returned to my room, so as not to disturb them. I sighed in relief and was about to open my bedroom door when I remembered what happened with Kyoya earlier, which ruined my good mood.
I slowly opened the door to find that thankfully Kyoya left. I changed into my pyjamas then bounced on my bed to vent my frustration.
"Frickin Kyoya! Frickin boys! Frickin storm! Frickin, Frickin, Frickin!" I fumed as I bounced
The so-called vacation to the beach turned out to be the most stressful, angry day I've had in a long time!
"You nasty pervert." I heard Hikaru outside in the hall.
"Huh?" I topped bouncing and listened further
"What kind of foreplay is that?" Kaoru scoffed
"I never would've pegged the boss as an S&M pervert," Hikaru stated
"IT'S NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE! IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK!" Tamaki exclaimed
Just then Haruhi stomped into my room throwing a blindfold on the floor.
"Want to vent bounce while you explain what's going on now?" I suggested
"Yeah." Haruhi agreed to bounce on my bed.
She told me what just occurred outside in the hallway though I think it was a misunderstanding.
I think Tamaki was trying to help her with her fear of thunderstorms when the others caught them. I'm not gonna tell them though or the rest of the Hosts will know Haruhi's fear.
"What's with the Hosts today? First Kyoya now Tamaki." I moaned
"What did Kyoya Senpai do?" Haruhi asked, sitting on my bed
I sat with her and sighed before telling her what happened.
"It was completely out of line! Uh, I'm so mad at him right now!" I finished ranting
"He…uh did it to me too," Haruhi admitted sheepishly
"I thought so, that's why Tamaki swore wasn't it."
"No, he caught us after it happened."
"Well, are you ok?"
"Yeah I knew he wasn't going to do anything to me. He was just acting like the bad guy to prove what Tamaki said earlier." Haruhi stated
"Don't care you may let him off easy but I won't. Not until he properly makes it up to me." I insisted stubbornly
"I understand," Haruhi spoke gently, giving me a side hug
"I knew you would."
"I'm heading to bed, night guys." Rossi poked his head in my room
"Night Rossi," We spoke simultaneously
"I better head to bed myself, get some sleep you," Haruhi told me
"Yeah, night dearest," I told her
"Night sugar," She replied, before leaving through our adjoining door.
I assumed I wasn't going to sleep well last night but surprisingly I zonked out around three minutes after Haruhi left. However I did wake up uncharacteristically early at the time of 9am. I dreamt of a recurring dream I had for a few weeks now that basically was the Walking Dead except instead on zombies there were Bernards rampaging the streets and the Hosts, Haruhi, me and my family were the only survivors.
I showered, brushed my teeth, put my hair up into a high pigtail and changed into a tiger striped top and black ankle length flowy skirt. I went down to the dining room where everyone except Kyoya, Mori and Honey were already eating breakfast.
"Morning." I greeted them, determined to have a more cheerful day today.
"Hey, I thought you were allergic to mornings," Rossi stated
"Well, apparently my body clock wants me to be early today." I shrugged, helping myself to some cereal.
"So are you all packed?" Haruhi asked
"…Nooo. I'll pack after breakfast." I replied
Just then Mori entered with a sleepy Honey entered, followed behind by a grouchy Kyoya.
"Aw Honey not a morning person like me eh?" I guessed, to which he nodded sleepily rubbing his eyes
"You are such a cutie patooty. I'm gonna go pack." I decided, leaving the table.
"Actually could I have a word Tomuru?" Kyoya asked following me.
In the hallway, I stopped and turned around, giving him an 'out with it' glare.
"I'm truly sorry for what I did last night. I was wrong and you had every right to be angry at me." Kyoya apologised
He did look somewhat guilty but still I wasn't ready to forgive him that quickly.
"You're not going to do that ever again?"
"Never again, you have my word."
"I don't trust you word. But I will forgive you if I get something in return." I stated
"A favour, any favour I want. Even if it means you having to spend a crap load of money. Even if it humiliates you. Even if it means having to travel halfway around the world." I spoke my terms
"…Is this something I'm going to regret?"
"Definitely, how else are you going to learn," I confirmed
"Very well." He agreed somewhat reluctantly
We shook hands to finalise our agreement.
"Now I want that in writing." I insisted
"What made you change your mind?"
"I…didn't want a friend to lose their respect of me," He admitted, looking away
"Well, the respect is coming back a little. I'm gonna go pack." I stated, smiling a little.
"Tomuru you haven't told anyone about it have you?" Kyoya asked
"Just Haruhi, it's no one else's concern," I answered
"Seeya later Kyoya."
"What no Shadow lord?"
"Bit too early for nicknames yet," I told him
He nodded before returning to the dining hall. I went into my room and threw everything into my bag, making sure I didn't lose anything, because I always leave something behind, always!
"Hey, have you packed everything?" Haruhi asked entering my room.
"I always forget something! What have I forgotten?" I demanded
Haruhi went into the bathroom and threw my shower gel towards me.
"Thanks dearest! Wait I packed my shampoo how did I forget the shower gel?" I wondered
"So you forgave Kyoya Senpai?" Haruhi asked
"Yeah, but I got a favour out of him. Any favour I desire, it's like a magic wish! I'm still a bit wary though but I'm sure I'll return to my normal weird self around him." I answered
"Good enough, he wouldn't have wanted his crush to be mad at him." Haruhi teased
"Dude after what happened last night he's basically extinguished any chance of anything romancy schmancy happen between us." I stated firmly
"Why are you pushing Kyoya on me?" I demanded
"Cus I'm shipping you guys." Haruhi shrugged
"I'm the shipper, not you! Any way you pairing makes absolutely no sense! It's like pairing a cat and a dog together, unnatural!" I complained
"Look can we just bounce on the bed, whilst we can," I asked