Author: Vaurn PM
AU. Violence can kill, but mental conflict can kill in a very different way. Natsuki Kuga lives an unpredictable and dangerous life, but she wouldn't have it any other way. ShizNat. Story has been discontinued.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Natsuki K. & Shizuru F. - Chapters: 12 - Words: 88,704 - Reviews: 102 - Favs: 56 - Follows: 69 - Updated: 01-31-10 - Published: 12-07-09 - id: 5565675
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: I'll admit, this chapter has been done for over a week, I just couldn't bring myself to proof it. That off my chest, thanks to readers and reviewers. A very special thanks to reviewers with PMs disabled. I just wanted to let you guys know your reviews were very appreciated and insightful, even if I can't let you know personally.
This chapter was written to Hangin' On (Ian Carey Rework) by The House Keepers, more or less on repeat. I think it's appropriate for the feel of the update if you care to listen to it yourself.
Disclaimer:I do not own Sunrise, Mai Hime/Otome, or any of the characters in this story.
Shizuru sat in her desk, looking attentive as always. A slight, upward curve to her lips produced the impression that the Student Council President was in a jovial mood, while her perfect posture claimed that she was fully aware of her surroundings. The only hint that anything was a click off from perfect in everything that was Shizuru Fujino were the nearly unnoticeable lines under her eyes, betraying her weariness. Red eyes seemed to focus completely on the teacher as he went over the finer points of mathematics, but the clever fabrication was only an attempt to hide the truth of the matter: Shizuru was paying absolutely no attention.
Inwardly, Shizuru was panicking… in her calm, Shizuru-ish way. Natsuki had nearly been killed. That fact alone hadn't exactly clicked until well after the incident, when the excitement and need to escape had finally fled her. 'She was so close to death then. There's a great likelihood that she will be put in danger yet again if she continues to assist me. What shall I do then? I can't let her run recklessly into danger as she undoubtedly would. I can't join her in the fight, however. My father would not allow that.' The thought of her father brought a burning rage into the pit of her stomach. 'Why did he have to create this school, just for his sake? Using people as fodder is not acceptable, nor is using them as research!' Stark realization of something she'd been aware of but not clicked into place hit her at the thought. 'That's exactly what I'm doing to Natsuki, I'm using her to my own ends. No, this is different… I can't possibly manage this alone. Too many lives ride on everything being solved. The shadows are getting stronger, both in size and numbers. People will start dieing soon, and the only way to stop this is destroy the source. I need Natsuki to do that which I can't. She's already successfully gained father's attention, now the information on the break-in has to leak to the rogue's informant. Then, maybe all this can finally end.'
Shizuru thought back over what she'd just decided for a moment, her eyes mechanically following the teacher as he walked to and fro behind his desk, explaining something he'd written on the board. 'That is… disgusting. Am I really justifying the means by the end? That makes it no less horrifying that I am using Natsuki as a tool, just as my father uses the Immortals as a whole to his benefit. I can't do this, I must pull my own weight, at the very least. Natsuki's in too deep to pull out, not because of what she's done, for I believe she made a clean escape last night, but because of that staggering commitment she has to assisting me. I should… I will return the favor. Every time she goes I will be beside her, as long as I am not in the way. The very least I can do is be with her to assist.' That vow echoing in the recesses of her mind, Shizuru finally felt contentment. 'Forget my father's orders and plans. There are more important things in hand than his mere wishes.'
Natsuki's eyes slowly drifted closed. Ridiculously tired after her night of illegal activities, followed directly with haggling with her mother for assistance, had worn the young fighter out. The fact that the class she was currently in was Midori's class didn't help matters much, since Natsuki wasn't a fan of history. The excited voice of her boss droned on, but slowly filtered into the recesses of the raven-haired Immortal's mind as sleep tried to wrest her consciousness from her. Her head slowly drifted downwards on top of her desk until she felt the cool, laminate top pressed to her forehead. Blackness peacefully surrounded the girl until suddenly… whomp!
The redheaded teacher, not pausing in her monologue about ancient history, had walked next to Natsuki's desk and dropped a textbook on her subordinate's head without even looking down at her target. The impact from the heavy, sturdy book falling perfectly on the back of her head slammed Natsuki's nose onto the desk, making her cry out in surprise and pain. The text clattered off her and onto the desk as the black-haired head shot up to shoot a glare at the perpetrator of her pain. Her eyes met with the back of Midori's head as the teacher moved away from her desk, not even giving the awoken gunslinger a second glance. A few badly contained fits of laughter filtered through the classroom at the image of Natsuki's death glare failing to penetrate the back of the teacher's head. The woman just continued her lecture as if she hadn't just dropped a thick textbook on a student's head. With a huff, Natsuki decided to change tactics and shoot the nearest laugher with a glare; that person being Mai. She only succeeded in making the orange-haired Immortal laugh even harder as she tried to stifle the noise with her hand clapped over her mouth.
Natsuki knew when she was defeated, and this was one of those times. As such, the gunslinger grudgingly faced back forward and listened to her leader, one hand propped on the desk by her elbow, holding up her chin, while the other hand rubbed the back of her now tender head. She would've given a great many things at that point for a few hours of sleep, but she obviously had no bargaining power with the redheaded tyrant, so she instead began daydreaming: her own personal rebellion at being awoken was refusing to soak up any information. The fact that her actions were counterproductive did nothing to hinder her resolve, for she was nothing if not stubborn.
Natsuki was having a mental slideshow of Shizuru for a while before the ringing of the school bell had her heart leaping with joy. She immediately stood, not bothering with the book (weapon) on her desk since it wasn't hers, and slung her backpack onto her shoulders. She looked down at Mai as the girl packed up her things. "You take forever," the raven-haired girl commented.
"It's not my fault you didn't even take out your stuff for class," Mai grumbled back, closing her pack and slinging it over her shoulder.
"No, it isn't," Midori piped in from her desk as she shuffled with some papers. "Do try to get some sleep tonight, Nat. I'd hate to have to find a more creative way to wake you up next time," the teacher smirked playfully as her eyes went up to look at her two subordinates, both moving for the door.
"It won't happen again, my fearless leader," Natsuki replied, matching the other's smirk with her own. The room was nearly empty, save for a few stragglers when the pair exited the classroom.
"See you, Midori!" Mai called to her teacher as she followed after Natsuki, who was only waving a hand over her shoulder as a goodbye.
"Have a good lunch!" Midori shouted back to her departing students as the girls walked down the hall, out of sight, towards the cafeteria.
"So…" Mai began with a smile. "What happened last night?"
"Wha-- what do you mean?" Natsuki asked nervously, suddenly very afraid Mai had somehow caught wind of her night time burglary.
"Well… you obviously got no sleep last night, you've been around Shizuru a lot more often lately, not to mention whenever you get back from being around her… even when her name comes up in conversation, you have this weird afterglow."
Natsuki blinked rapidly as she scrutinized her companion. On one side, she was excited that her friend apparently wasn't suspicious of her doing anything illegal, but on the other hand, she couldn't help but feel this conversation was a bit… off. "You're kidding right, afterglow? What are you getting at?"
"Well… it's just awfully suspicious that the first thing you do when you get to the Masquerade is dance with Shizuru… then you're in her dorm room that night. I'm not asking for any messy details, but--"
"We went over this, Mai!" Natsuki growled moodily. "Nothing happened that night!"
"I know, and I believe you. But, you didn't sleep last night…" Mai's voice trailed off as she observed the metaphorical light bulb turn on above the raven-haired girl's head.
"What? Last night? No… no! Nothing happened last night either! You're as bad as Chie!" Natsuki barked out with a glare. The pair reached the stairs and began walking down, being on the third floor while the lunch room was on the first.
"Okay, okay. Sorry, I was just… curious."
Silence filled the air as the two moved down the stairs and down the hall on the first floor, towards the cafeteria. Mai stared at her feet, feeling awkward at the tense air between them, but Natsuki didn't even seem to notice it. The gunslinger was much too busy fuming at the audacious question her orange-haired companion had sprung on her.
'Why does everyone think we're sleeping together? Gods, it's not like they really knew about our friendship until recently… or did they? I didn't tell them. Whatever, that doesn't matter. What matters is that everyone thinks I'm some lecherous pervert!' Natsuki huffed a frustrated sigh just as the pair reached the double doors of the lunchroom. Even from outside the portal, in the hall, the loud hum of students conversing could be heard clearly. When the girls each opened one of the doors, the hum became a roar of excited voices and bodies in a feeding frenzy.
"What about you and Tate, anyway?" Natsuki asked suddenly. They entered the noisy room, finding themselves weaving between students as they moved to their usual table.
Mai blinked in surprise at the question, violet eyes shot the gunslinger a look. "Tate? He's as… annoying and confusing as ever."
"Ah… what about Mikoto?"
This literally made Mai trip over the flat ground, but she caught herself quickly, barely breaking her cadence. "Wha… Mikoto?"
"Yeah, Mikoto," Natsuki said simply as she recalled the night she'd left the fire Immortal in the care of the feral girl when Mai had broken down.
"That's… um… she's still my roommate?" Mai mumbled as she looked down at her feet.
Natsuki couldn't say she was surprised by the non-answer, but that didn't mean she wasn't disappointed. "Ah, I suppose that's good. Must be pretty complicated."
Violet eyes moved to the side, away from the emerald ones that looked straight at the table now a few paces away. The orange-haired girl had obviously caught the hidden message in Natsuki's last statement: "I know what's going on in your head."
The gunslinger knew she'd got her message across, and felt a sadistic satisfaction at the way she'd made Mai nervous. She basked in the feeling for a moment, enjoying it before it turned sour. 'That's what you get for all this sex talk… but I should put your mind at ease.' "I won't judge if you need an impartial opinion," Natsuki put in just before they were within earshot of the occupants of their lunch table. Emerald eyes flicked to Mai, and were soon met with surprised, violet eyes.
"I'll… keep that in mind," Mai said slowly, her eyes slowly softening as she smiled at her friend. "Thanks."
A flash of black caught Natsuki's eyes, from Mai's side. A streak moved at break neck speed from the table towards the pair… or more accurately, towards Mai. "Guess what," the gunslinger said.
"Wha--" Mai's reply was cut off when she let out a screech and tumbled to the ground, the black torpedo attached to her waist. Mai landed right on her stomach, Mikoto on her back, as the younger girl snuggled into her roommate happily.
"Mikoto's coming," Natsuki informed her, ever so helpfully.
"Thanks for the warning," the fire Immortal replied dryly as she hauled herself up onto her hands and knees, Mikoto going up with her. With a heavy sigh Mai looked over her shoulder at the parasite latched onto her and murmured, "sorry Mikoto… but can I get up?" She shot the yellow-eyed girl a sweet smile.
Mikoto was immediately off Mai's back, and to the fire Immortal's surprise she was next to the older girl in moments, helping her stand. "Let's go get food, Mai!" The swordswoman yipped in delight as she pulled Mai to her feet.
"But I haven't even dropped my stuff off at my seat yet," Mai protested half-heartedly as she pointed back at the table she had been headed towards, and where Mikoto had come from.
Mai's already weak resolve faltered even more when the first year gave her a heartbroken look.
Natsuki couldn't help herself, she just had to laugh. To her credit, she stifled it to a mere chuckle, and hid it behind her hand as best as she could. 'These two are something else,' She thought.
Mai shot her fellow second year a glare, before turning back to Mikoto and giving her a long look before caving in. "Alright, let's go."
"I'll take your stuff," Natsuki offered, feeling like she should give the pair some space.
"Oh, thanks," Mai replied as she took off her pack and handed it to Natsuki. The gunslinger took the offered bag, prompting the pair to depart. Natsuki was about to turn to move to the table when she saw Mikoto shift from her position walking alongside Mai. Emerald eyes observed as Mikoto attached herself around Mai's waist and cuddled into her. In reaction, the fire Immortal smiled down at the girl at her side and ruffled her spiky, black hair. Natsuki blinked a few times at the scene before turning about as she shook her head in exasperation.
Shizuru walked into the cafeteria later than usual and gazed to where she normally sat with most of the Student Council. Everyone was indeed present, including a certain brunette who had come to be a real nuisance. Arika milled about the table, seeming to be looking for something, or someone. No doubt she was searching for Shizuru.
Feeling no compulsion to listen to Arika's ceaseless babble, Red eyes searched out some alternative to her eating plans that day. Automatically, Shizuru's gaze went to the table of a particular gunslinger and her friends. The table was slowly filling with a few familiar faces. Chie and Aoi sat side by side as they chatted up Natsuki from across the table, and Tate was just sitting down with Kazuya.
A smile grew on Shizuru's face as it occurred to her that Natsuki's back was to her. Such a delicious opportunity was not to be passed up, and so the brunette made her way to the table, her only hope being the other occupants of the table didn't give away her position. When she was only a few steps away, Chie, being on the opposite side of the table from Natsuki and facing Shizuru, did indeed glance up at her. The gossip quickly looked away, however. The corners of Chie's lips turning up ever so slightly, as if reading into Shizuru's intentions.
Only a step away, Shizuru could hear Chie poking fun at the black-haired Immortal. Natsuki readied herself for a fiery retort when Shizuru reached her destination and bent down so her lips were level with the gunslinger's ear.
"Hello, Na-tsu-ki," she breathed out in the most seductive manner she could muster.
"Holy shit!" Natsuki yelled as she jumped from her seat in the opposite direction of the voice, and in the process painfully slamming her hip in the table. She let out a little yelp of pain at the impact, causing Chie to burst out in laughter. Emerald eyes shot Chie an ineffective glare before looking back at her assailant, her gaze softening considerably. "Shizuru!" The gunfighter exclaimed in a poor attempt to seem reprimanding. "Can't you just say hi like a normal person?"
"But I did say hello," the brunette pouted cutely.
"The key being 'like a normal person'," Natsuki shot back as she pushed off from the table and straightened out her back.
"You need to complain less and ravish her more!" Chie put in with immeasurable assistance.
Natsuki turned her head about and shot Chie a bone-chilling look. "What is up with all of you? You're a bunch of perverts."
"We had a meeting," Aoi explained with a shrug.
"Really?" Natsuki asked in confusion.
"Nope," Chie replied as she slung an arm around Aoi's shoulders and pulled the brunette in closer, chair and all. "You're just asking for it when you overreact. By the way, you're really gullible."
"You wanna go outside to eat, Shizuru?" Natsuki asked suddenly as she shot Chie one last look and turned back to the crimson eyes that now awaited silently at her side.
"Avoiding us already?" Chie asked with a grin.
"I must say, I do so enjoy talking to your friends," Shizuru said as she shot the females across the table a wink. "I was hoping to eat with them."
"Well I wasn't," Natsuki growled out as she picked up her pack, reading right into Shizuru's plan. She grabbed hold of the Student Council President's hand and began pulling her away as she said, "come on, let's go."
"Ara, but Natsuki, what if your friends think I'm a possessive girlfriend that won't let you eat with your friends?" Shizuru asked as she was pulled away by the fighter, away from the table, right for a door that led outside.
"You're not my…" Natsuki stopped herself mid-sentence, adopting a thoughtful look, though Shizuru couldn't really see it since the raven-haired head was facing forward while Shizuru was being dragged along behind. "They'll think I'm the possessive girlfriend," Natsuki said after a short pause. "I'm the one literally pulling you along, after all."
The statement was true enough, but Shizuru couldn't bring herself to care. What she was actually excited about was Natsuki's apparent acceptance of a particular title. The brunette grinned to herself as she pulled back on Natsuki's hand, slowing the other girl down just enough that they could walk side-by-side. Allowing the change, the gunslinger dropped Shizuru's hand (much to the brunette's disappointment) and looked around the lunchroom. More than one person had ceased in their eating and chatting to shoot a glance, or even stare, at the pair as they weaved through tables to get to the door.
"Why do they always stare at you?" Natsuki growled to her companion. She "accidentally" kicked a nearby kid's chair who was openly gawking.
"It's the shoes," Shizuru said dismissively.
Natsuki flicked her eyes downward and looked at said shoes. "Umm… what?"
"Don't tell me you don't get hot and bothered by them?"
Natsuki looked back up to crimson eyes, not sure if she should be taking this girl seriously. "All the time," the younger Immortal said sarcastically. "I think it's the color. It's just too much for me."
"Brown arouses you? I'll need to keep that in mind," the older girl replied with a silky smooth voice.
A girl sitting at a table next to the two girls as they passed started coughing the drink she had been drinking, choking violently. They walked past, though Shizuru stopped and cast a concerned look at the girl. Natsuki, however, was laughing.
"I think she heard you," Natsuki commented as she grabbed Shizuru's hand once more and began pulling her along. "Her friends will take care of her, let's go before your blasphemy spreads through the cafeteria and I get mobbed."
Shizuru allowed herself to be pulled a few steps before the girl did indeed get help from her friends. With a sigh Shizuru followed after Natsuki, soon coming to her side again, though this time when Natsuki went to drop her hand, the brunette didn't likewise let go. Emerald eyes wordlessly looked down at the offending grasp, almost in question. After a moment, Natsuki looked back to where she was moving and tightened her grip again. Shizuru smiled in a discreet manner, chalking up a victory in her mind.
"Shizuru!" A victory short lived.
The Student Council President literally had to stop herself from groaning in frustration, while Natsuki immediately tensed up and whirled around toward the voice. Her hand wrenched from Shizuru's to sit ready at her sides, ready to summon her weapons in a moment's notice. The older Immortal frowned at the loss of contact from a certain girl's hand, but she turned about to fix the voice's owner with an angry gaze, cleverly disguised as an inquisitive one.
"Ms. Marguerite," the brunette greeted in the closest thing to a cheerful voice she could muster. "How can I help you?"
"I… umm…" Tomoe visibly struggled for words. "I was just…."
"Spit it out," Natsuki growled. "Or did you not think far enough ahead to have an excuse for interrupting?"
Furious, grey eyes stared death at the green ones she'd formerly been ignoring completely. "Excuse you, but I have just as much right to Shizuru's time as you do," she snarled back, her body appearing to tense up.
"Not as far as I'm concerned," Natsuki barked back, her mind getting prepared to summon her guns. "You have to be a person to have rights."
"Enough," Shizuru said firmly, shooting both girls reprimanding looks, though when her eyes went to Natsuki the look was considerably softened. "If you need something, Ms. Marguerite, I will happily assist. If not, I would like to go eat."
"I was just…." Apparently, she still hadn't come up with an excuse.
"Tomoe!" Yet another voice called out, echoing through the lunchroom. Only then did Natsuki realize how deathly silent the normally buzzing cafeteria was. She cast a surprised look about the room and saw that nearly every person in the room was openly watching the exchange at the outskirts of the cluster of tables.
The second person, a particular pink-haired, pigtailed first year dashed up next to Tomoe and grabbed her by the elbow. "What are you doing?" She whispered harshly, only loud enough for the exceptional hearing of the three Immortals near her to hear. "Do you want to get killed that badly?"
"Kuga won't do shit," Tomoe growled back, much more loudly than Shiho so everyone nearby could hear. "She's all bark," grey eyes flicked to green in clear challenge, "no bite." A sneer appeared on her face. "She can't do anything on her own. She needs other people to come save her ass."
Natsuki was more than ready to wordlessly take the bait and destroy Tomoe right there, but a timely weight on her shoulder had her frozen. She moved her gaze to the hand on her shoulder then up to the crimson-eyed owner of the hand. The brunette's gaze, which practically tore through her, gave a clear message: 'Calm down.' The gunslinger wanted to protest, but she knew her best friend was right. She had nearly played into Tomoe's hand and potentially gotten in a lot of trouble.
Without taking her hand from its new perch, Shizuru looked at Tomoe and said in a firm voice, "please refrain from provoking other students, Ms. Marguerite. Excuse me, but if there's nothing you need, I'll be taking my leave."
Tomoe's visage spoke of her displeasure at the words. She was silent a moment, but when Shizuru moved to leave she suddenly blurted out, "I want to discuss… umm… the dorm arrangements with you."
Mentally, the Student Council President groaned. She turned back about to look directly at Tomoe again, but gave pause when she saw Mai and Mikoto not far off, looking as if they were just waiting for a fight to break out. She felt the tension in the air steadily rise as Shiho caught sight of Mai and gave the orange-haired girl a nasty look. The two stared one another down in hatred that rivaled that of Tomoe and Natsuki, seeming to want nothing more than to destroy each other.
"Very well," Shizuru conceded, hoping to make some of the static in the air dissipate. "What exactly did you need?"
Her efforts did nothing to assist the situation, for not only did Shiho ignore the brunette completely, but she was now staring at Tate as he ran over.
Meanwhile, Natsuki was audibly growling as a dog would. "Can't this wait?" The gunslinger growled.
"Why the hell should it? So you can monopolize Shizuru's time? She's a busy woman!" Tomoe protested fervently.
"At least I'm not making shit up just to take her time!" Natsuki shot back hatefully.
"I'm not making anything up!"
Shizuru, the ever elegant and proper Student Council President, actually face-palmed. She made it look much too graceful for such a gesture, but hey, it's Shizuru. 'No matter what I say these two just go at it.' Her gaze moved to the situation between Shiho and Mai and noted that it had escalated. Tate now stood between the two girls with a conflicted look on his face. The only thing that seemed to separate Mai and Shiho at the point was the blonde haired boy. Mikoto was standing a step behind Mai, but surprisingly she wasn't glaring down Shiho, but Tate. 'That's quite the conflict-riddled scene.' She mused as she tried to figure a way to properly dispel the tension and disperse this potentially violent meeting. Her answer came when she saw Reito approaching from the side.
"What seems to be the problem here?" The Student Council Vice President called as he came to Shizuru's side.
"We have a bit of a situation with our students over there," Shizuru said, indicating to the group of four behind Tomoe, "and Ms. Marguerite wishes to discuss matters about dormitories." Conveniently, Shizuru decided to forget the petty squabble between the gunslinger and teal-haired rogue.
"I see," Reito said with a quick nod. "I can talk with you about the dorms, Ms. Marguerite. Shizuru currently needs to disperse a situation."
Wha… no, I can wait until she's finished," Tomoe insisted, tearing her eyes from the hateful look she was giving Natsuki to look up at Reito.
"Not necessary, our President is a very busy woman. Someone needs to help her with the workload. Come now, let's walk and talk." As he finished, Reito flashed the teal-haired menace a charming smile.
Tomoe, however, wasn't ready to give in. "But--"
"This way," he said as he began pulling the rogue away. "Leave Shizuru some room to get her work done." Reito shot Shizuru a quick glance and a nod, which the brunette returned with a grateful smile.
Without another moment wasted, Shizuru moved right up to the group of four the seemed to be frozen in time, saying, "what seems to be the problem here?"
"No problem, Ms. President," Tate said unconvincingly with a nervous smile. "Just… give us a minute, it's only a petty argument."
"I'm not so sure…" Shizuru trailed off when movement from her side caught her attention. "…That it's so simple."
Natsuki had moved through the scene, straight to Mai, and grabbed her by the elbow. The fire Immortal stumbled backwards, not expecting such a brash move, and yelled out a 'hey' in protest.
"Shut up," Natsuki whispered back as she pulled Mai away from the scene and walked quickly back to the Immortal's table. "You don't need this on top of all the shit you've got to juggle. Do not get involved in that girl. She's damn dangerous."
"It's not my fault she hates me," Mai whispered back in protest.
"I don't care," the gunslinger shot back. "You know what she can do to your head. This has bad idea written all over it." She looked over her shoulder to see if Mikoto was following. When she saw that the feral Immortal was indeed trailing behind, shooting glances at Shiho, she stopped and turned to Mikoto. "Get her back to the table. Don't let her leave, it's for her own good. Got it?"
Mikoto's yellow eyes studied Natsuki's expression a moment before she quickly nodded and moved up next to Mai. Mai and Mikoto shared some words, but the gunfighter didn't hear any of them. The moment she'd seen Mikoto's nod she'd spun back to go back to Tate and Shiho. It appeared as if Shizuru was coaxing Shiho from her threatening position next to Tate. The blonde kept looking back at Mai, seeming to want to do nothing more than follow after her.
As the raven-haired fighter came up next to Shizuru she decided to play crowd control, and turned her gaze to the cafeteria, people still brazenly watching the drama. She stood in front of the trio, facing the majority of the tables, and crossed her arms over her chest with a pissed-off glare. "See something you like?" She spat at the nearest table. If she'd been a normal human being, she may have met resistance, but she was, after all, an Immortal. As such, the table quickly looked away, slowly prompting the rest of the lunchroom to do the same. By the time the last table had been stared down, Shiho and Tate were walking away, side-by-side, discussing something.
"I can't believe we got out of that without bloodshed," Shizuru commented to her companion as the younger Immortal moved about to face her fully. "I thought for sure someone was going to get hurt."
"Good thing…" Natsuki said nervously as she already felt a few gazes moving to look back at them. "Come on, we should really get out of here." The younger clasped their hands again and pulled Shizuru away before she could even reply. They reached the door moments later, Natsuki leading the way outside and opening the door for her companion.
"Thank you," Shizuru murmured to the raven-haired girl as her face was blasted by air. While not cold by any measure of the imagination, one could tell the summer days were beginning to cool down. "Summer's finally waning, it seems," the brunette observed after noting the temperature, wanting to ignore what had just happened for the time.
"Yeah," Natsuki agreed as they moved into the grassy yard and examined the area. Thankfully, there weren't many people in the yard, and the few that were there seemed to be on their way somewhere. "If only summer never ended. I hate the cold."
"I think I hear a few fans dieing from here," Shizuru, cupping a hand behind her ear. "The icy Immortal uttering such words is simply blasphemous."
"They'll get over it," Natsuki grumbled quietly. "Wanna just go sit at our tree?"
"Our tree by the dorms? That's on the other side of the campus," Shizuru pointed out.
"So? I don't want to be anywhere near that place right now," the gunslinger grumbled as she pointed a thumb over her shoulder in the general direction of the cafeteria doors.
"Fair enough," Shizuru said with a nod before smirking and flicking a look at Natsuki. "Hmm, Natsuki?"
"Yeah?" The raven-haired fight questioned as she began pulling Shizuru back toward the dorms.
"Race you there."
"Say what?" Natsuki questioned as she looked at Shizuru with wide, surprised eyes. 'Shizuru? Run? Since when?' When she looked to where the other Immortal was, however, she saw and felt said Immortal dropping their held hands and dashing away, down the path. "Gah, Shizuru!" The younger yelled as she chased after her best friend.
Shizuru shot a backwards glance at the gunslinger behind her and grinned playfully, silently goading her companion on. Natsuki took up the silent challenge and increased her pace, but nearly tripped when she watched the brunette look back at where she was going and effortlessly hop over the bushes that bordered the path, taking a shortcut.
'Oh gods, I so just got a panty shot. Maybe losing wouldn't be such a bad thing if I got more of those. Err… no, I didn't just think that.' She thought, jumping the same bush Shizuru had just cleared. 'What I meant to think was no one had better have seen that. Yeah, that's it.' It's a sad day when you have to convince yourself you're not a closet pervert.
Natsuki picked up her pace when she saw that Shizuru was actually pulling ahead of her, laughing in delight the entire way. The gunfighter couldn't help but find that melodic, unrestrained laughter completely contagious, and was soon laughing along with her best friend. Whether it was Natsuki's increase in speed, Shizuru potentially decreasing her own, or both at the same time, the younger Immortal soon found herself gaining a bit more ground on Shizuru with every stride. They were soon in sight of the dorms, and Natsuki was only an arms length away from the Student Council President. She came up alongside the other girl, shot her a smirk, and started to pull ahead of the red-eyed girl. Just as she pulled a full stride ahead, and could no longer see the brunette from the corner of her eye, the predator pounced. A weight slammed into Natsuki's back, causing the girl's momentum to falter to disastrous results. With a yelp, the weight bore her down to the ground, face first. The only thing that saved the Immortal from a very unpleasant landing were her arms, which she'd brought up instinctually to break her fall. From atop her, Shizuru giggled happily.
"Very funny," Natsuki grumbled into the grass. "Can you let me up now?"
"Mm… I could, but do I want to?" Shizuru replied back as she moved the backpack away from the small of the younger's back and snuggled into the shirt-clad area.
"Hey! None of that!" Natsuki barked out, but she had to admit (to herself) she wasn't minding the contact much.
"You have to ask nicely."
"Forget that! Just get off!"
"Whatever happened to your manners?"
Natsuki grumbled to herself before mumbling, "please."
"Please get off!"
Smile still in place, Shizuru stood and held out a hand to help her companion up. "Ara, Natsuki, you couldn't even make it all the way to the tree without needing a rest? I suppose that means I win."
"If you were anyone else, this is the part where I'd beat you," Natsuki faux growled as she took the offered hand and stood up before dusting off her uniform.
"I don't know what that has to do with lunch. However, we're nearly to the tree and I'm famished. Could you cease your dawdling and come along?"
Natsuki may have been mildly annoyed by the words if Shizuru hadn't took a hold of her hand and began rubbing her thumb over the top of the gunslinger's hand as she spoke. So, as it stood, the volatile Immortal found herself sufficiently docile, and allowed herself to be pulled to the tree without complaint. The pair moved around the tree, making sure they were out of immediate sight from the dormitories and path, and sat down next to one another with their backpacks off their bodies and at their sides.
When Natsuki reached into her backpack to pull out her meal, Shizuru realized she was without food. 'How unfortunate.'
"How's your day been?" Natsuki asked as she shuffled through her things and wrenched a rather smashed sandwich in a plastic bag out.
"Fine, how about your own?"
"Boring," the raven-haired Immortal replied with a grin. She looked back up at Shizuru and finally noted the brunette wasn't likewise pulling out her lunch. "Err… don't you have anything to eat?"
"It seemed to have slipped my mind," she admitted. "It'll be fine, I can just stop by my room before I go to class."
"Ah…" Natsuki looked down at her bag with a forlorn look. "I'd offer you some, but I'm afraid you'd choke to death on all the mayo."
"Ara, thank you for the thought. I still remember when I had that surprise revelation of your favor of that… concoction."
"Your taste buds will never be the same," Natsuki supplied with a grin, quoting what the brunette had once said herself. "I still don't understand why you don't like it."
"Perhaps because it is revolting in a number of ways," the Student Council President stated bluntly.
"One day you'll see the light," Natsuki promised as she slipped the sandwich back into her pack, untouched.
The act didn't go unnoticed by Shizuru. She raised her eyebrows and questioned, "aren't you going to eat?"
"Not in front of you," The younger of the girls replied as she zipped her backpack. "I have manners, you know… I just don't choose to adhere to them much."
Mentally cataloguing Natsuki's statement in the back of her mind for future use, Shizuru smiled, replying, "well then why don't we just go up to my dormitory, then we can both eat."
Natsuki hummed in thought, but ended up shaking her head.
"Oh? Any rea--… son…" Shizuru's voice trailed off when Natsuki leaned to her side, plopping her head right in Shizuru's lap. Surprised rubies peered down as a black-haired head shifted about upon her thighs before finally coming to rest when the gunslinger was on her back, face looking straight up at the brunette.
"It's nice out. I want to enjoy the sun while I can," Natsuki explained, feeling her eyes fast getting heavy in the absurdly-comfortable position she laid in.
The older girl smiled down at the innocent look she was getting from her companion, and with a contented sigh began tracing a finger through the grass. "An excellent point. Lunch can wait."
"Especially when I've got a view like this," Natsuki replied, a drowsy grin slapped on her face, half-lidded eyes peering up into red orbs.
"Oh? Is the view of my chest that pleasurable down there?"
"Hey… I'm not staring at your chest…" Natsuki protested quietly. "Gods I'm tired. Mind if I just… rest my eyes for a minute?"
"Be my guest," Shizuru replied. She reached her fingers out to play at the strands of dark hair before her.
"Mm… thanks, Shizuru," Natsuki mumbled as she finally allowed her eyes the droop closed. Her entire body relaxed under the purposeful hand flitting through her mane. Never had the gunslinger had the opportunity to doze off in the yard, her life requiring her to be constantly vigilant, but she let herself slip for the first time. 'Shizuru would never let anything happen to me.'
Shizuru found an adoring smile growing on her face as she looked down at the quietly dozing girl before her. It didn't take long for the raven-haired girl's breathing to slow and her head to fall to the side, on her cheek, giving away that Natsuki had fallen asleep.
"I knew it!" Mai cried happily, startling Mikoto, who happened to have been napping in the living room.
"Keep it down!" Natsuki demanded harshly, casting a look at the dorm hall behind her. "Just let me in, damn it. I don't want this getting out."
"Only if you promise to tell me how it happened," Mai demanded, her hands on her hips and a devious smile on her face.
"Fucking fine! Now let me in!"
"Natsuki's here Mikoto!" The orange-haired Immortal called to her roommate, who was groggily pulling herself into a sitting position. Mai moved aside to make the doorway clear for her guest.
Natsuki wasted no time in stepping in and slamming the door closed.
"Natsuki!" Mikoto called, her voice heavy with sleep, but still energetic. "Do you wanna play some games?"
"No way!" Mai protested quickly. "She's going to tell me how she ended up asking the President out on a date!"
"We can play later," the gunslinger replied to the youngest Immortal, casting a semi-forced apologetic look to her.
"You can listen too," Mai said to Mikoto.
"I can?" Mikoto asked excitedly, her sleepy tones fast dispersing and giving way to her normal voice.
"Says who?" Natsuki demanded, though she didn't actually care if the swordswoman listened in; it was just the principle of the matter.
"Who's asking for favors here?" The fire Immortal asked smugly.
"Who's asking for gossip here?" Natsuki countered.
"I could invite Chie over if you prefer," Mai replied.
"Don't you dare try to threaten me! Ugh, I should've gone to Akane! She's nice, you're just a nosy pain in the ass!" Natsuki barked out, though the fact that she fidgeting betrayed how nervous she was.
Mai sensed her imminent victory, and pressed on despite her peer's biting words. "But you're here now, and Mikoto wants a story. How can you say no to a face like that?" The orange-haired girl questioned, indicating to the youngest among them.
Emerald eyes turned to yellow ones, and the excited, hopeful face made the fight leave the gunslinger immediately. "Should've gone to Akane," Natsuki grumbled again, though she moved away from the door and fully into the living room to take a seat on the chair sitting near the couch on which Mikoto had formerly been snoozing on.
Mai and Mikoto grinned, one with innocent happiness and the other with victory. Mai followed after the gun-fighting Immortal and took a seat next to Mikoto on the couch. Without even looking over at her companion, Mai raised the arm on the younger's side. Right on cue, Mikoto leaned over onto Mai, wrapping her arms around the older girl's waist and resting her cheek on the orange-haired girl's ample bosom. Mai's arm came back to hug the first year around the shoulders.
"Before you start, I just want to say something," Mai said as Natsuki turned the chair to face the couch properly.
"Shoot," Natsuki prompted as she leaned heavily into the chair's back, green eyes unwavering.
"I knew you two were into each other!" Mai exclaimed before quickly raising her arms over her face, as if expecting Natsuki to immediately lash out.
Surprisingly, instead the gunslinger blinked thrice before smiling. "Were you now? I don't see how. It's not like we cuddle in front of you. In fact, not once can I remember suffocating myself in her boobs around you." A purposeful glance went from the clinging Mikoto to the reciprocating Mai and back again. "Can you remember such a time?" She asked Mikoto.
Yellow eyes met green ones as the swordswoman appeared to think over the question. "Nope. But you do stare at her a lot, and you two are always standing so close together."
Natsuki's eyebrows went up, thinking over the first year's observation. "Really? Well… I guess we do." 'And so do you an Mai.'
Emeralds slipped back to Mai to witness the orange-haired girl staring intently back, waiting to make contact. A silent message went from one to the other.
"It isn't that simple." Mai's eyes conveyed,
"You'd be surprised how simple it really is." Natsuki thought, trying to get her message across silently
Mikoto broke the staring contest when, appearing to understand the situation fully, she put in, "but you can't make an assumption like that off something so small. That's why I never asked."
Natsuki wasn't sure if Mikoto meant that's why she'd never asked Natsuki about Shizuru, or if she was intending to send a subliminal message to Mai. 'Either way, she's proving how lacking my confidence in her intelligence is.'
"Story," Mai suddenly put in, obviously wanting to end their conversation and get her gossip.
"Yes ma'am," Natsuki retorted with a grin. She'd gotten her point across, so there was no point in postponing the inevitable any longer. "What do you want to know?"
"Everything," the other second year immediately replied.
"Well, her favorite color is purple, she has a birthmark on her--"
"Natsuki! Virgin ears!" Mai barked, clapping her hands over Mikoto's ears (though one ear was already firmly pressed into her breasts).
"…side." Natsuki finished with a sly raise of her brow. "Just how far into the gutter has your mind burrowed?"
Mai flushed, but in an effort to get the attention off her she retorted, "you know that's not the 'everything' I meant! I mean what happened when you two left the cafeteria holding hands all lovey dovey. It was like a bombshell hit the student when you two left like that! The uproar of voices was deafening. I'm pretty sure more than one fan girl had a heart attack."
"That cause Shizuru's fan club are a bunch of crazy bitches." A shock of teal hair flashed through Natsuki's mind. 'And they're headed by the craziest bitch of all.'
"It wasn't just the Fujino fans, you know. Some of your fans died a little bit inside too," Mai informed.
"I don't have fans," Natsuki protested.
"I'm pretty sure Takeda Masashi isn't hounding after the President," Mai pointed out smartly.
This gave Natsuki pause. "That's one person, that's all."
"Whatever, I'm not going to argue with you about the size of your fan base," Mai said in exasperation.
"Not all the people were unhappy," Mikoto pointed out as she looked up at Mai. "A whole bunch of girls were squealing and some people got really excited."
"Ah yeah, I forgot about them…" the fire Immortal agreed. "Apparently, some people thought it was the best thing on the plant."
Natsuki let out an exasperated sigh. "It isn't anyone's business. I wish they would just give us some privacy."
"Story!" Mikoto reminded excitedly. "I want to know what happened!"
Natsuki grinned at the swordswoman and playfully jibbed, "you're as bad as the fan girls! But I suppose I did agree, so I'll let it slide this time."
"So spill, why were you so late for class afterwards?" Mai asked, surprisingly no trace of underlying perversion in her question.
"As I'm sure you know," Natsuki began, "We went outside to eat." She thought over her next statement carefully. 'I don't need them knowing I fell asleep… on her lap… for an hour.' They didn't need every detail, did they? "I actually ended up falling asleep for most of the time I was gone."
Mai looked like she was bursting at the seams to make a perverted comment, but she held it back for the sake of their younger companion.
"When I woke up she asked if I'd like some lunch at her place. Who in their right mind would pass up the chance to be late for class because the Student Council President asked you to be? Of course, I said yeah. We just… got to talking about some of our interests." She mentally recalled, 'other than each other.'
"It was a pretty spur of the moment thing," Natsuki continued. 'She just looked so happy while talking about that stuff. I couldn't help myself'
"But she'd given me some good date ideas, so I couldn't pass up the chance." The gunslinger explained. 'She looks so beautiful when she's happy.'
"And as you probably figured out, she said yes." She finished, looking at her listeners.
Mai and Mikoto were silent a few moments before the older burst out, "that's it?"
"What? What do you mean?" Natsuki questioned in confusion.
"No grand kiss, no sweeping her off her feet… you just left after that?" The fire Immortal asked incredulously.
"You idiot! Do you not know the first thing about courting?" Mai yelled leaning forward and bringing Mikoto with her.
"Uh…" Natsuki blinked a few times, leaning further back into her chair for fear of the violent look Mai was giving her. "No…?"
Mai jumped up, making a surprised Mikoto unlatch, and lunged at Natsuki, grabbing one of her hands. "We need to remedy this problem, now! Come on," she tried pulling Natsuki to her feet, but the gunslinger was pulling back, as if expecting to be beaten down the moment she stood. "We're bringing you to Chie! She can teach you how to be suave, before it's too late!"
"No way you can make me go to Chie!" Natsuki protested, pulling back on her captured hand even harder.
"Do it for Shizuru! You don't want to be a lame girlfriend do you?" Mai called back.
"I'm not lame!"
"Mikoto help!" Mai exclaimed as grabbed Natsuki's hand with both her own and began leaning back, trying her best to get Natsuki to stand.
Natsuki felt herself being pulled forward without her consent. At the sight of Mikoto getting up to fulfill Mai's request, she panicked and did the first thing that came to mind: She grabbed her captured wrist and pulled back with every ounce of energy she had in her muscles, throwing her body backwards at the same time.
The result wasn't quite what she'd intended.
Instead of breaking the other Immortal's grip, she only pulled Mai forward. The sudden shift had Mai thrown completely off balance. The orange-haired girl stumbled forward, right into the chair, and, inadvertently, Natsuki's lap. The busty redhead was thrown forward so violently that her momentum didn't stop at the chair, it continued through, making her slam into the chair's back… or rather her friend directly in front of her. The chair, pair of high school girls atop yelping loudly, fell over, directly onto its back.
The landing was even more interesting than the position before.
Natsuki lay on her back, one leg sprawled off to the side, off the chair, while the other was still in its original place. Mai was slammed atop her, giving Natsuki a thorough experience of what Mikoto feels every time she latches onto Mai: a lot of cleavage to the face. Mai's nails dug into Natsuki's shoulders while the gunslingers own dug into the arms of her formerly upright seat. The best part? Mai was curled up to her friend's torso, straddling the raven-haired girl's waist.
Oh the humanity.
The room was dead for a second before clambering and three different voices broke it, all at the same time.
Mikoto let out a strangled sound that seemed like she'd wanted to say something, but forgot how to use her tongue.
Natsuki was yelling for Mai to move, as she tried to push the girl off her.
Mai was screaming, "pervert!" While clambering off her teammate to fall off the chair in a heap. "Pervert!" She yelled again, pointing an accusing finger at Natsuki.
"It isn't my fault!" Natsuki shouted back as she clumsily pulled herself off the chair and stood.
"You pulled me on top of you!" Mai accused, likewise standing.
"It was an accident! How could I have known your balance sucks?"
Mikoto, for her part, looked like she was still in shock. The feral Immortal was standing off to the side, staring dumbly as the two girls argued.
"You should have! You're a closet pervert!" Mai shouted, though her face was slowly becoming amused.
"Come on, I just asked Shizuru out on a date for the gods' sake! Why would I have done that on purpose if I was into her?" Natsuki asked, desperately trying to reason with the other girl.
"Because not even her boobs can compare to these babies," Mai said, trying vainly to keep the grin off her face as her voice broke with stifled laughter.
"Wait… you're just messing with me! You ass!"
"It's so easy! Gods you're gullible!" Mai giggled.
"Shut up…" Natsuki grumbled as she moved to the overturned chair to position it upright.
"Anyway, since you did tell us the story, I'll keep up my end of the bargain. What exactly do you need?" Mai asked, changing the subject quickly.
Emeralds narrowed in annoyance. "I'm not sure I want your help anymore." The gunslinger growled.
"Oh come on, don't be a spoiled sport." Mai said as she moved alongside the still-frozen Mikoto and but a hand atop her head. "I'll drop the Chie idea, just chill out."
Natsuki sighed and ran a hand through the hair on the back of her head. "Alright, but we need to be done before Friday."
A/N: For those of you who have read my other story and are worried about any possible parallels between this Mai and that Mai, there are none. That entire situation with the last scene was planned out and partially written long before I even started that fic, and is only meant to relieve some tension and open a new mood for the next chapter.