Mai and Noll came to an executive decision not to attack Masako or Gene with pranks until after exams, which were rapidly catching up with them. The rest of the Easter holidays and the first lessons back at school were all focused on one thing: revision.
Mai was utterly sick of revision. Especially for utterly useless subjects like English. Seriously, who cared about what Mercutio said in the first act and what it meant? Not Mai, that was for sure.
She was also somewhat annoyed that it cut into her time with Noll and her friends too. Although they were now definitely dating, they weren't 'Facebook official'. Primarily because neither of them wanted to deal with the associated fuss. Mai hadn't even told Michiru and Keiko, which she felt a little guilty about. But as Noll wasn't taking her to prom, she didn't want them yelling at him.
Sporadically they studied together in silence, which often seemed to involve Mai making them both tea. Sometimes Gene and Masako joined them. But even though on these occasions they enjoyed each other's physical company, even Noll was starting to admit he missed conversation.
However, the day before prom Yasuhara cornered Noll in the sixth form common room.
"Hey, can I have a word?"
"Fine," Noll said as he followed him somewhere more private.
"Look, I know about you and Mai," Yasuhara started. Noll did not react. "But this morning she asked me if I'd go with her to prom with her, just so she had someone to go with and wasn't a fifth wheel."
"So I can't go with a friend's girl, can I?" Yasuhara shook his head in disbelief.
"She wants you to go, what's the problem?"
"She's your girlfriend, that's the problem," Yasuhara deadpanned.
"So if you make her unhappy, you'll answer to me," Noll stated. "Are we done?"
"No! Why aren't you taking her? Seriously?"
"I have other places to be," Noll replied with a smirk. Yasuhara frowned at him.
"Are you planning something?"
But Noll just walked away.
Yasuhara did not share his suspicions, just in case he was wrong, but found Mai later that day and told her that if she could find no one better, he would go with her. He would be at the event anyway as Head Boy; having Mai on his arm for the evening just ensured he had good company.
The following evening and Mai was readying herself for prom alone. She had music playing and was dancing as she brushed her hair dressed only in her underwear. Mai had to admit she was looking forward to the evening, even if Noll wasn't coming.
She only applied a little make up. Not because she was against it or anything – she wasn't that kind of snob about it. But because she didn't often wear it and so didn't really know how to do it well.
Mai settled for a little mascara, some sparkly eye shadow, a bit of blusher and a soft coloured lipstick. She figured if she didn't put too much on, it couldn't go too wrong and once done, Mai was happy with the outcome.
She slipped into her dress and was just zipping it up when she heard a knock at the door.
"Coming!" she called out, presumably to Masako who had agreed to get her dad to give them both a lift. Mai hurriedly slipped on her shoes and grabbed her bag and a jacket.
She gave herself one final look over in the mirror and ran to the door.
"He-" she started, but fell silent when she saw who was standing there.
"Hi," Noll replied.
"What are you doing here?" Mai stammered.
"The dress suits you," Noll said, ignoring Mai's question.
She squinted at him suspiciously. He was wearing a shirt and chinos and it almost looked as if he had brushed his hair.
"What are you doing here?" she repeated.
"I need you to put this on," he stated and pulled something out of his pocket. It looked like a handkerchief.
"Just turn around."
"No," Mai said, frowning up at him. "I am waiting here for Masako and Gene and then going to prom with Yasuhara. Now what are you doing here?"
"Masako and Gene aren't coming to pick you up."
"What? Why not? Masako said they would!"
"I asked them not to."
"What? Why would you do that?" Mai demanded angrily.
"So I can take you elsewhere," Noll said. He refrained from adding 'obviously'.
"Mai, I hate the concept of prom. The noise and raucous behaviour is abhorrent to me. But I understand you want it. I cannot take you to prom, but I have come up with a compromise if you are willing."
"A compromise?" Mai asked tentatively.
"If you do not want to come, I will drop you off at the school."
"What is your compromise?"
"A surprise," Noll said, much to Mai's surprise. Perhaps her shock showed on her face because he went on. "Gene's suggestion."
"And you listened?"
"He knows more about these things than I do, listening to an expert would be considered wise."
Mai did not argue.
Her brain was running at a hundred miles an hour. She wanted to go to prom with her friends and to dance and laugh. But she couldn't help but admit she was intensely curious about what Noll had come up with. She honestly didn't believe he had a romantic bone in his body and yet he had tried…
"Okay," she said slowly.
"I'll come with you."
Noll did not say anything, but turned Mai around and placed the handkerchief over her eyes and tied it behind her head. He guided her out of the doorway and shut her front door before guiding her down to the car.
"Careful of your head," he muttered as he helped her into the car.
"It'd be a lot easier if I could see," Mai mumbled. She heard him close his door and the car start. "How far are we going?" she asked in an attempt to guess what might be happening.
"Not far," he replied. "But we'll get there in time."
"In time for what?" Mai asked, but Noll did not say anything. They drove in silence for a while before Mai voiced another question. "Why are you doing this? Isn't it cutting into your revision time?"
"I can afford to take the evening off," Noll replied. Mai rolled her eyes, though Noll obviously could not see.
About five minutes later, Mai felt the car pull to a stop. She heard Noll get out and the boot opened. She could hear rustling, though she had no idea what was exactly going on. Then her door opened and she felt Noll guiding her out.
"Can I take this off now?" she asked.
"Yes," he said finally. She ripped the blindfold off and automatically flattened her hair down. She looked around and was slightly surprised where she found herself.
They were on top of a hill.
"Is this the one we kissed on?"
"No, that's over here," Noll pointed. "This had a better space for stopping."
"But why?" Mai enquired with a frown.
"Follow me," he said and took her hand. He led her from the car and around a hedge. There was a picnic blanket set out with food, a small stereo playing soft music and a beautiful view of Mai's home town.
"Not just, but you'll see," Noll replied with a smirk. "Hungry?"
Mai nodded and they sat on the blanket. Noll had provided a wide variety of food including cake, cocktail sausages, a small quiche, fruit, baby sandwiches, salmon and avocado maki, spring rolls and a small tub of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
"My mother took it upon herself to assist and she wanted to ensure there was something you would like," Noll told her. Mai laughed softly at Luella's behaviour.
"That was nice of her."
"Interfering is a more appropriate word."
"And what would you have chosen to bring?" Mai asked as she took the paper plate Noll had offered her and started picking at different bits of food.
"A considerable more concise selection of things," Noll muttered. "Though Gene suggested a chocolate fountain."
"I think he would have gate crashed if you had," Mai said and Noll smiled a little at her words.
"Most likely," he agreed.
"You said we had to get here in time, in time for what?" Mai asked as she chose some of the spring rolls.
"You'll see," he said, smirking again.
"You aren't going to tell me are you?"
"Mai, I am not telling you a number of things. A list of which would take longer than time I have to give you."
Mai paused in an attempt to determine whether this was an insult to her intelligence or not.
"Right," she said finally.
Once they had eaten their fill, Noll stood up and held his hand out to Mai. She took it and allowed him to pull her to her feet.
"I believe it is customary to dance at prom?" he prompted as he took up the hold. Mai stared at him incredulously. "I refuse to dance in a manner found at a school disco or a club, but I will waltz."
"I don't know how," Mai mumbled.
"Here," he said as he placed her hands in the right places. "Follow my lead. One, two, three. One, two, three…"
Mai followed best she could and after a few minutes of awkwardly stumbling, she began to get the hang of this waltzing thing. She grinned up at Noll, who released a small smile for her.
They danced to the soft music emitted from the stereo until Mai pulled Noll closer. She rested her head on his chest as they rocked side to side.
"I can hear your heartbeat."
"Nice to know it's still going," Noll muttered dryly. Mai rolled her eyes, but smiled to herself.
She felt very peaceful and rela-
Mai flinched and tightened her grip on Noll as she looked around for the sound of the explosion. But she heard Noll chuckle and looked up in order to glare at him.
However as she turned her gaze skyward, she saw the firework.
And then another sore into the sky. And another. And another.
Colours burst across the night sky and Mai stared up in wonder.
"Did you do this?" she asked, not wanting to look away from the beauty above her.
"Perhaps," Noll replied.
Mai did not see the smile on his face, or the softness in his gaze. She felt a slight squeeze from his hand and returned it. He led her back to the picnic blanket and they sat watching the display.
She wasn't sure how long they went on. But when she shivered, Noll supplied a blanket to place around her shoulders. She hugged him tight for warmth and he did not protest.
But like all good things, the fireworks ended.
"How did you do it?"
"Pulled a favour," Noll replied nonchalantly. "And speaking of favours, I have one to ask you."
"Come camping this summer."
"I can't Noll! It's your family holiday!" she protested.
"Masako is coming," Noll deadpanned. "Do you really want to leave me outnumbered by them?"
"As if you couldn't take them both on by yourself," Mai scoffed.
"Not the point," Noll replied. "Do you not want to come?"
"Of course I do but-"
"Then you're coming," he said.
"But I've never gone camping! I don't know what to do!"
"Then this will be an excellent opportunity for you to learn," Noll said. "Besides, it's not like you have anything else to do and my mother will only complain to me if you don't."
Mai still felt reluctant.
"Mai, you aren't intruding. So stop being awkward."
"But what if I don't like camping?"
"Then I'll take you home," Noll said. "But it'll be an excuse to spend time with me and those two idiots and you'll really make the entire thing less tedious for everyone."
"Okay," Mai agreed slowly and then grinned.
"Wait here," Noll said as he stood up and headed towards the car. He returned a minute later with a flask and two mugs. He handed both to Mai and poured out two cups of tea. He pulled out sachets of sugar and a little pot of milk like those found in restaurants and passed them to Mai, who added them to her tea. "Much better," he said as he took a sip. Mai giggled.
Despite knowing she had several weeks of hellish exams ahead of her, Mai felt overwhelmingly happy.
"Besides," Mai said. "We do have a prank war to win."
"Yes," Noll concurred. "We do."
Author's note: Well I ended this sooner than I originally planned. But someone rightfully pointed out (thank you) that I was doing a lot of filler chapters and that I was dragging it out, so I decided to end it here. Before any of you even think the word 'sequel' I would like to do one of the camping trip and have added it to my list of things to do! But my writing time has been seriously cut down now I'm in Japan (OMG).
And talking of things OMG GUESS WHO OWNS GHOST HUNT MANGA IN JAPANESE - YEAH ME WOOOOOOO.
Not excited by that at all...
I fangirled so much in the bookshop today...
Please check out the forum for Humour Week! And share the news if any of you update! I hope you all rise to the challenge of writing humour - which I am finding seriously hard! I literally cannot do it on purpose...
Anyway, please review :)