Kareshi Kanojo No Jijou : Till Human Voices Wake Us
A Kare Kano Fanfiction

By Cheshire Grin


Obligatory Disclaimer: Of course I don't own Kare Kano. You know that. I know that. Hell, even if I did no one would believe me anyways!


We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

Till human voices wake us, and we drown

T.S. Eliot, The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock


Chapter One – The butterfly with crystal wings


"YO! TSUBASA? YOU UP YET?"

Tsubaki Sakura's voice rang throughout the entirety of the house, despite the fact that she was yelling from outside. Her distinctive voice was punctuated by occasional, extremely loud knocks on the Shibahime household's front door.

"HEY! ARE YOU GONNA KEEP ME WAITING ALL DAY?"

The front door opened a crack and the small face of Shibahime Tsubasa peered out groggily, a neon purple toothbrush still hanging from her mouth.

"Shut up already. If you wake Kazuma, I'll never hear the end of it." She snapped, somewhat pissed off.

Since this was Tsubasa's usual state, especially in the mornings, Tsubaki shrugged it off and pushed her way inside.

"I see you're actually up for once." She grinned at Tsubasa who was still lingering in the doorway and looking slightly disoriented. "C'mon, You'll never get ready that way. Looks like you haven't even woken up yet."

As she propelled a blearily struggling Tsubasa back into the bathroom, Tsubaki grabbed the toothbrush and began brushing the smaller girl's teeth at a maniac pace.

"Hurry up, you, its time for your walkies. Besides, we're meeting the others at nine o'clock."

Tsubasa leveled a glare that just may have contained ground glass at Tsubaki and uttered "HUT UH".

"What?" asked Tsubaki, removing the toothbrush.

"SHUT UP!" The petite blonde screamed, having worked herself into a 'too sleepy to be death-defying but still full of teeth' fury. "OUT!" She cried, doing her best to push the larger girl out of the door.

Tsubaki grinned at her antics. She never tired of teasing the smaller girl. Especially during the mornings when she was still groggy. Tsubasa had never been a 'morning person'. In fact she only became totally sensate after several cups of coffee. Loaded with sugar of course. Privately Tsubaki suspected it was the sugar rather than the caffeine that got Tsubasa moving.

"Okay, okay, as long as you're awake. I'll go make some coffee."

Tsubasa's ears perked and a smile threatened to crease her features. "Good." She huffed as the other girl departed, still trying to sound angry. Having known the tomboy for years, she knew that the teasing was mostly Tsubaki Sakura's way of showing that she cared. As a 'somewhat' reformed bully, Tsubaki had never really learned some of what Tsubasa considered the finer points of social interaction. The first and most important being to not bother people in the mornings until after they had had their coffee.

Tsubaki's head appeared around the door. "Want me to wake Kazuma?" It retreated as a hail of bathroom utensils came flying.

Tsubaki's grin widened.

"I'll take that as a no."

Tsubasa slammed the bathroom door and locked it. Sometimes Tsubaki's way of caring was just a little too much to take.


It was, of course, five minutes to nine when the pair walked out of the door. Tsubasa had insisted on an extra coffee and Tsubaki had taken advantage of the opportunity to amuse herself with the latest Playstation fighting game, not wanting to give it up.

"How can you play those games so early in the morning?" Grumbled Tsubasa as the two stepped onto the porch.

"It's the best time. It helps my fighting spirit." Tsubaki retorted, thrusting an unfairly muscular forearm into the sky and doing her best impression of Xena the Warrior Princess.

"That's something that doesn't need any help!" Remarked Tsubasa caustically, locking the door of her house. She turned to discover a well-recognized pose. "Don't tell me you're still watching Xena?"

"It's my favorite show!" Sakura grunted, swinging an imaginary sword about Tsubasa's front lawn, threatening to disembowel the pot plants.

"Figures." Grumbled the blond, scowling up at the heavens as if to say 'Why me?'

"Aren't you pleasant in the mornings."

"I try."

"Say, why isn't your boyfriend… I mean brother coming today?" Tsubaki's grin proved the slip to be intentional.

Tsubasa ignored it. "He had a concert last night and didn't finish packing up until late. He probably won't be up until lunchtime. Speaking of boyfriends… where's Tonami? Isn't he the one you're supposed to be taking care of in the mornings?"

Tsubaki went bright red. "Hmmph! He can wake up his own lazy ass!" She said defensively.

"Only because the last time you tried he nearly pulled you under the covers."

"HEY! Where'd you hear that?" Tsubaki shouted, redefining the color red.

"The same place I heard about all the other times." Tsubasa shot back before laughing and running ahead.

'Damn that Aya' thought Tsubaki.

Still, they weren't entirely unpleasant memories. She smiled briefly to herself before chasing after her friend.


Yukino had suggested that they all meet at the Coffee shop in Higawa Shopping district. It was a long, dingy place that the group often frequented. The manager was a woman so old that she might have been around since the Stone Age. The chief attraction to her establishment among the younger generation was the fact she was almost deaf and blind and never scolded them for sitting too close to their boyfriends or girlfriends.

The other attraction was the old woman's absolutely unrivaled ice cream concoctions. Neither Tsubasa nor Sakura were much surprised to discover the gang was already deeply involved in said ice creams when they entered the store.

"Geez! You could have waited!" Sakura harrumphed taking a seat next to Aya.

"You're bright and happy this morning. Did Tonami try it again?" Aya remarked from behind a mountain of ice-cream. A series of giggles threatened to erupt around the table.

"Who asked you?" Sakura glared, turning red once more.

Aya laughed. "Prince Charming as usual!"

"You're just jealous."

"Of course." Aya gazed forlornly out the window. "If only I could awaken my precious Tonami-Hime with a kiss and dive under the covers for a morning of pure bliss."

"HEY!" Sakura's eyebrows began to twitch.

Across the table both Maho and Rika blushed a bright crimson. "That's not the sort of thing to say in public." Rika protested but Aya simply ignored her and continued.

"Oh! Such is the strength and vitality of the flowering young man that if only I could share.. gahhh" Her words were cut short by her friend's best impression of the Frankenstein monster.

"AYYYYYYYAAAAAA!"

The entire assembly including the old manager dived under the table for cover. She certainly hadn't gotten to be as old as she was without failing to recognize certain signs.

"GRRRRRRRRRR!"

"Heh heh…" Aya looked around for an escape route, cringing under Tsubaki's glare. Her eyes fell on the door and the dark shape of Tonami as he reached to open it. Haha… saved!

"Ah… Snow White has finally arrived. Yo! Tonami!"

From the doorway, Tonami Takefumi gaped at the scene before him. His friends all seemed to be practicing for bombing raids with the exception of Aya who had apparently mistaken him for a fairy tale princess and his girlfriend who might have just landed the title role in a remake of the 'Creature of the Black Lagoon'.

Given the circumstances, Tonami uttered the only thing that reasonably summed up the situation.

"Huh?"


"So Yukino, What's the plan?" Tsubaki asked as they walked out of the coffee shop.

"Well, seeing as how it'll soon be summer, and this is our senior year…" Miyazawa Yukino trailed off expectantly. The group looked at her blankly. Even Arima, keeping up a carefully maintained nonchalance to the way his girlfriend was clamped around his arm, wondered what she was on about.

"Yeah and?" Tsubasa put in. "What did you want to talk about?"

"Arrrggghhhh! What is wrong with you people? Summer of our SENIOR year! Don't you want to do something special?"

So that was what it was all about, Arima thought. With Miyazawa you could never be sure. She had a habit of doing the strangest things. Like that time a week ago when she'd had problems studying and called him up. He'd arrived on her doorstep twenty minutes later, books in hand, only to be dragged off to a karaoke parlor. They had sang for an hour before returning to her house. 'Thanks, now I can study again. I needed to let off some tension.' She'd said before closing the door on him.

But then that was Miyazawa for you. Single-minded to a fault. Still, she had come up with an interesting idea, if a little disappointing. He'd actually been hoping to spend the summer 'alone' with her, had in fact spent a lot of time making sure he was ahead in his studies so that he would have enough time.

There were so few moments when he could see her these days, even less when they could be alone. It was their senior year after all and they had both agreed to do their best. Studies took up most of his time and there was little left for fun or intimacy. Mostly it was just a quick touch, a stolen kiss in the times between their academic duties.

He cherished those short encounters and the memories they left with him. Such a small thing yet it meant so much. He still remembered the time he had convinced her to eat lunch with him under the Cherry trees across the river. The way she had fed him his lunch, the intentional slip that had left a tiny trail of sauce on his upper lip and the shy, halting way she had moved to lick it clean, her cheeks slightly dappled with scarlet at her own audacity.

Small things. Tiny, tiny things but they had such importance to him, gave him just that much more strength in a stressful, hectic existence.

But they were few and far between. There were only so many excuses he could make to see her each day, only so many moments he could afford to steal with her from his exhausting daily schedule.

Arima sighed, giving up on the idea. The gang had drifted apart over the course of the year; everyone coming to the realization of just how important this year was in his or her future. He supposed it was natural of Yukino to want to pull the group together again. After all, once they graduated they would most likely all go their separate ways, friendships gradually fading away with time as real life took over. This year was probably the last time they would have to be together as a group.

Tsubaki nudged him, leaving him gasping and pulling him back to the present. They were all looking at him. He laughed nervously.

"So what did we decide?" He asked buying for time.

Asaba threw his arm over Arima's shoulders. Leaning over, with only traces of a grin, he whispered softly into his friend's ear.

"We all decided on The Silver Orchid," he said, naming a rather prestigious Love Hotel in the center of town. "For a week."

"WHAAAAAT!"


The two boys trailed behind the group on their way to the mall. Arima was still a little shell-shocked from Asaba's prank. Not that he would admit it but the idea had secretly appealed to him. It had set an erotic train of thought into motion and all sorts of scenarios sprung into the depths of his thoughts. They crawled around sluggishly inside his head, visions of flesh. Curves and angles only barely hidden in a haven of warmth and steam. The fragments of their beings intertwined and becoming one. His calculated nonchalance had crumbled into dust and he didn't feel at all comfortable next to his girlfriend in such a state of mind. At least not in public. He needed time to regain control over his thoughts so he had hung back with Asaba. Then again, on second thought maybe that wasn't such a great idea.

"Don't do that!" Arima glared at Asaba who was laughing hysterically.

"Hehe, sorry man. Couldn't resist." He grinned licentiously. "Pretty good idea though, huh?"

"No."

Asaba sighed dramatically. "Booooring."

"Pervert." Arima grinned.

Asaba laughed out loud and flung his arm around his friend's shoulders. "You should talk. I saw that blush." He teased.

"Yeah, yeah… no doubt the same time your vision turned red." Arima smirked, lying valiantly. "I'm surprised Maho hasn't sent a perverted guy like you packing already."

Asaba's grin magnified into a leer that seemed a little forced. "Maybe she likes it."

Arima Souichirou raised his eyebrows for a moment then groaned. "God help me, I'm surrounded by perverts."

Asaba sighed and said nothing, his cheerful mood evaporating at the mention of his girlfriend.

"Seriously though, what did they all decide on?" Arima asked, trying to lighten the mood.

"Nothing yet. The girls wanted to go shopping first. Yukino said we should discuss it over lunch. I doubt there'll be much to discuss though. She seems to have something in mind already."

Arima glanced surreptitiously at his friend. He had moved a step ahead and was watching the girls absently as he walked. Asaba was surprisingly quick sometimes. In fact, Arima wouldn't have been surprised if he had seen right through Yukino's little diversionary shopping adventure from the start. The subtle frown on Asaba's face was unusually serious. Realistically, anything other than a smile on his friend's face was unusually serious. Hideaki rarely let anyone see a different expression. Perhaps it was a measure of his friends trust that he saw it now. In the last few months Arima had come to learn a little of how good Asaba could be at hiding things under that smile. Right now he looked worried.

"You okay?"

'Huh?" Asaba glanced at him askance.

"You looked a little weird, that's all."

"No, it's nothing." He flashed a grin Arima's way as if to prove it. "Same old, man, same old."

"How's Maho?" Arima asked, noticing the way the grin on his friends face suddenly turned cautious as he did so.

"Getting better. Her grades are back to normal." He seemed reluctant to speak.

His friend had changed a great deal since last year, both outwardly and inwardly. He was still as outrageous as he could possibly get away with sometimes but he didn't chase after girls anymore. The fiasco with Maho had put an end to that. There was an intangible sense of seriousness about him these days that surfaced in unexpected places.

The two had been together for months now but Arima had learned almost nothing about the relationship. Even Yukino knew little. Both Maho and Asaba gave vague answers to any questions their friends asked and dropped the subject. He knew Maho had been through a hard time, her grades had dropped steadily for several months and she had seemed a little withdrawn but there had been no indications that the problem was so serious or that Asaba had had a role in it either.

However from the few hints Arima had gleaned from conversation with his friend and the way the carefree boy acted around the mysterious, dark-haired girl, it now appeared that he had helped her through some undisclosed but significant ordeal.

Maho seemed to have mostly recovered by now, although it was a subtle change. A little less distant perhaps and never far away from Arima's long-haired friend. The odd, soft smile the pair shared every so often when they thought no one was looking. There was still an odd darkness about her eyes now and then, occasionally reflected in Asaba's as well but neither had been willing to talk about it. Arima could not pinpoint when exactly this bond had occurred but somewhere along the line the two had gotten together.

Arima hadn't wanted to intrude. He had problems of his own, problems that weren't likely to go away anytime soon. Besides, he had never had an inclination to start up a discussion about his personal issues. Some things were better left alone. If Asaba didn't want to talk about his problems either then that was fair enough.

Up ahead, Tonami muttered something incoherent and Tsubaki smacked him for it. Maho bent to whisper something in Yukino's ear and laughter burst out. Despite the distractions of the senior year the group still seemed to work well together. A soothing camaraderie that smoothed away any rough edges.

Seeing his girlfriend's happy face, Arima couldn't help but smile. Such a small thing but it somehow managed to tuck his worries into the background of his mind, packing them away for another time. Sure, life had its downs but it also had its ups. Sometimes in places you might not think to look for them. Maybe things weren't so bad after all. It was good to have the group together again.

"C'mon, lets catch up." He urged the other boy and began walking faster, the smile on his face growing with each step.

A pace behind him now, Asaba watched his friend speed up. 'You're healing too' he thought, quickening his stride to match that of Arima.

It was a comforting thought.


"Oooooooohh! Just look at that one!"

Arima and Tonami winced in abject, male terror as Yukino spotted the sportswear store. Both were well accustomed to 'that' particular tone of voice. It meant, in no uncertain terms, that this might take a while. In fact, it directly implicated that alien custom known collectively to the male population all over the world as 'female time'. Neither Arima nor Tonami were able to fully understand this concept but the basics were simple. 'Just a sec!' meant anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour, 'Only be a minute!' meant between one and two hours. The way Tonami saw it was that you just multiplied the vocalized time increment by a random three-digit number and then prayed. The really frightening one was when they didn't even say how long they were going to be.

The two boys watched their respective girlfriends with something bordering on horror. They looked at each other.

"We'll only be a minute." They both muttered under their breath.

"C'mon guys! We'll only be a minute!" Yukino bellowed from the store entrance.

"Just like magic." Muttered Arima.

He and Tonami smiled at each other gloomily as they mentally prepared themselves.

"Right with you."

"Coming!"

"She's gonna want to dress up Tsubasa again, you know." Arima whispered.

"Yeah, I know."

They walked pensively towards the store. Tonami silently held up two fingers. Arima raised his eyebrows and glanced toward the store. He shook his head and held up three. Tonami sighed and nodded. It was a big store. Three hours was much more likely.

Maho, who trailed behind with Asaba, carefully concealed a smile. Yukino was in full steam today. It was a good estimate. Maho was well aware of and often annoyed by the concept of 'female' time, especially where it applied to Yukino. She sighed softly and wondered bleakly if it made her un-female.


"Woahh!"

"Hey! Nice!"

Yukino emerged from the changing booth to the whistles and catcalls of her friends. Quite predictably, Arima noticed, she was clad in a sleek but conservative one-piece. It was black with a silver stripe down the side and regardless of its 'conservative' amount of coverage; its contrast with her red hair did strange things to his midsection. A blush settled itself maddeningly on his cheeks.

Asaba, who was grinning like that weird cat from some vaguely remembered Disney cartoon, nudged him in the ribs and pointed over his shoulder. Arima's blush widened. Aya and Sakura's cheering seemed to have drawn a crowd. The store manager smiled serenely from his booth.

Arima sighed. "Think they'll stop anytime soon?" he asked wearily.

Asaba laughed. "Are you kidding? They just got started.

Arima sighed again and resigned himself to three hours of mental and somewhat localized physical torment.

Yukino twirled, drinking up the attention and flounced over to her boyfriend.

"What do you think?" She asked, teasing.

"Very nice. It goes well with your hair." He replied straight-faced. She looked slightly disappointed and went back into the changing booth.

"You can let it out now." Muttered Asaba, next to him.

Arima slumped back in his seat, groaning. He was sure she knew exactly how much it tore him up whenever she did that. The vicious, almost shameful way the lust erupted within him. The way he wanted her so badly that it became physically painful as his brain clamped down mercilessly on his arm muscles to stop them from wrapping themselves around her body and embarrassing her in public. Surely she must realize.

"That was nothing." He sighed. "You should have seen her at the lingerie store."

Asaba's mouth gaped.

"If that cop had walked in two minutes earlier, she would have been arrested." Arima continued.

"Ok…I did not just hear that."

Arima smiled nervously. It had been a little shocking at the time but… well, it was a nice memory. Especially much later on that night when they were alone.

Asaba caught the look in his friend's eye. He grinned ruefully and slapped his friend on the back.

"C'mon man. Let's get in on the action." He said, leading a reluctant Arima towards the changing booths.


When Tsubasa opened the curtains, two-thirds of the male quotient of the store suddenly turned away, clutching at their apparently traitorous noses. The corners of her lips turned up in a quirky smile that went just a little TOO well with the black frilly number that may, just possibly, have been a bathing costume.

Aya sidled carefully up to Rika and nearly tripped over someone who hadn't averted his eyes in time. He had a blissful far away look on his countenance that suggested today was not going to be forgotten for quite some time. This was marred only slightly by the thin trail of blood emanating from his left nostril.

"You know, I didn't even realize they made GothLoli bathing suits." She murmured in her friend's ear. Rika however, seemed a little too absorbed to notice. She sighed audibly.

"I've always wanted to try that." She turned and noticed the inexplicable stares her friends were giving her.

"What?" asked Rika, radiating innocence.


"Dude!"

The store manager grinned at the performance going on toward the rear of his shop. He was a young man and was known collectively to his customers as 'the dude' as this word tended to materialize rather frequently in his conversation.

The red-haired girl was nice, the black swimsuit combined with her red hair was very sexy. The small girl in the Gothic Lolita costume had been better. That particular display had been extraordinarily sexy. 'The dude' had wondered briefly if it was also mildly illegal.

He glanced around at his customers. Legal or not, she had drawn quite a crowd.

"Dude!" He felt inclined to remark.

But the freckled girl, the one with the high-pitched voice who had looked so plain in her school clothes, well…

That had been exciting! To think that she would have had such a perfect figure underneath! And to think she would have chosen the swimsuit that she did… well, lets just say that the crowd had swelled outside his doors and every single set of that same suit had been rather hastily snatched of the shelves by a few of the female customers in the store. 'The dude' shook his head and smiled broadly at his next customer.

"Dude, this has been the greatest day of my life!"


"Are you sure about this?" Arima looked slightly nervous. Asaba frowned. Ok…scratch that. Extremely nervous may have been a better term. You'd think the guy had never worn Speedos before.

Arima who had never worn Speedos before winced. "They're kinda tight." He grumbled, hitching at his… well, underwear was the only real term for it. As far as Arima was concerned, a bathing suit equaled shorts. This was just too… too… his mind struggled for the word. Indecent, that was it.

"Hey, it looks good man." Asaba smirked, noticing the internal struggle. Deciding that this was getting nowhere, he pushed a hesitant Arima out of the changing booth.

Jaws dropped. Asaba smiled radiantly. Catcalls and whistles exploded around the store like sexually charged popcorn.

Arima, sporting a blush that spread down his cheeks and across his body as if to mimic real clothes, wished heartily that the ground would open and swallow him whole, if only so that no one would see him die quietly of embarrassment.

Glancing around at the lingering stares of the female customers, Tonami reviewed his opinion of Speedos drastically. His old board shorts were getting a little too small anyways…


"Woah!"

Aya was all eyes. Tsubasa grinned, cat-like as Rika, Sakura, Maho and even Yukino, who could be just as lewd as any of the other girls if not more so, burst into matching

sets of bright red.

Aya nudged her. "Did you bring your mobile?" she asked.

"Yeah." Tsubasa replied, eyebrows raised.

Aya stuck her hand out.

Tsubasa, a hand over her mouth to stifle the giggles, handed it over. Her mobile phone had a small digital camera built into it. Grinning madly, Aya got to work.

When you hung around with Asaba, it was easy to forget that he did in fact have such a… well perfect was the only word for it, build. Arima, she noticed, was just as nice. While Asaba was slim and well toned, Arima was slightly more compact and muscular. Kendo had shaped him up quite nicely. And as for those Speedos, quite frankly they should have been criminal. If the group all headed down to the beach this summer, life might get interesting. Tsubasa smiled and sat back to enjoy the show.

Maho scowled. There had been a moment, just a fraction of a second or so after the two boys had walked out, when she had felt quite pleasantly and overwhelmingly… satisfied. Her boyfriend was indeed achingly handsome. And as for the way his suit… stretched… woah, get a grip girl. She had felt heat rising up her sides and across her cheeks, kicking her heart into overdrive on the way. It spread upward past her neck to her temples, an almost physical thing that left her skin tingling uncomfortably. She barely restrained an urge to walk over and touch Asaba, just to see if he was real.

The whistles were what jolted her back to reality as she realized with embarrassment that she had been staring. Maho glanced furtively around at her friends, hoping none of them had caught her. To her relief no one had. They were too busy staring at Asaba themselves. The scowl began to creep across her brow.

That was Asaba for you. He attracted more attention than a spider on a wedding cake. It was bad enough that the all the female customers in the store were checking him out but one would think that her friends possessed the decency not to.

"Hey Asaba! Nice one! Look this way!" Aya, aiming the camera, called from beside her.

Maho looked around. Well maybe not Aya. Still…

She made a mental note to get a copy of the photos.

Asaba sauntered over.

"What do you think?" His expression was probably more illegal than his bathing suit.

"Get back in there and change into something decent!" Maho growled, shoving him back in the change room. Asaba with a grin almost succeeded in pulling her in with him.

"Pervert!" He received a smack on the head for his licentious behaviour. However the soft look she gave him as she pulled away made him smile.

The way her hand trailed down his arm and clutched briefly his own suggested to Asaba that his girlfriend was secretly quite pleased with his appearance. He had not missed her staring as he first walked out. It was nice to know that even after more than six months of exhausting mental angst, Maho still found him physically attractive.

The startled round eyes and flushed cheeks of his girlfriend were having their own effect. He concentrated desperately on moustaches, mullets, buffaloes… anything non-sexual. Finally the pain receded. Some things left little room for mistakes.

Asaba winced as he changed out of the Speedos and into his normal clothes.


While Tsubaki Sakura stood framed in the doorway of the changing booth, clad in a bikini that clung to her taut, athletic figure just a little too well, Tonami Takefumi was starting to panic.

It wasn't the color that upset him. It wasn't the cut. It wasn't even the way the ties at her hips dangled almost within reach or the way it hugged her breast, revealing just enough to tantalize but not quite enough to get overly excited. The problem was that she looked so damn good in it that he couldn't seem to say anything. His mouth felt like it was made of warm taffy and somehow he had lost all motor control.

It was all Tsubasa's fault! You just couldn't walk through the mall without Yukino wanting to dress her up at least once. It had just been bad fortune that the first shop they had 'almost' passed had been a sportswear shop with a beginning of summer sale on bathing suits.

Of course the bad fortune part was a little debatable. In fact it was a lot debatable. Which was what he was currently in the process of doing. As they had walked in, one side of his brain had been desperately warning him that this was a bad idea. The other half was almost drooling over the chance to see his girlfriend in a similar state of dress as the strangely exciting mannequins on display at the front of the store. It had always seemed kind of wrong that he found them so appealing but despite all of his efforts the fact remained.

And now… well, now his girlfriend stood before him clad in little more than a wish and a prayer and some crazy bastard had turned all the heating up. The tiny element of his mind that still functioned noticed that Sakura's face had turned red. She was looking up at him expectantly.

"Well?"

Say something…Say something dammit! But every drop of blood in his body had rushed straight to his head and left him with no room for thinking.

"Y...you... look n…n…nice." Tonami managed before making the final, fatal mistake of looking down and realizing where else all the blood had gone. He sat down quick. That settled it. He was definitely not going to be wearing Speedos to the beach. Ever!


"Do you think he liked it?"

Sakura held out the bathing suit she had just paid for. Aya turned to her in astonishment.

"What? Are you kidding? You didn't notice the Leaning Tower of Pisa in his…OOOOWWWW!" she yelled, feeling the pinch that Rika gave her.

Rika's eyebrows rearranged minutely to form a Level 2 glare. Aya still found it creepy the way her friend could frown while still smiling.

"Huh? What did you say?" asked Sakura.

"Hehe... umm… nothing… nothing." Aya gave Rika a dirty look. "No, I think I can say he definitely liked it. It uhh…really stood out!" She continued, moving deftly out of Rika's reach.

"Great!" Sakura wandered off toward where Yukino and the others were comparing purchases. Aya shook her head.

"Is she really that dense? I mean… it was pretty obvious right?"

Rika just smiled. Tonami was tall in more ways than one. That was…nice.

"You know, you didn't have to pinch me." Aya grumbled, rubbing her side.

Rika raised her eyebrows, a quirky smile lighting up her face.

Her friend sighed.

"Okay, maybe you did. But dammit, do you have enjoy it so much?"


"Oh boy… I don't think I can take much more." Arima groaned over the table where the group had eaten lunch.

"Wimp." Yukino smirked.

"Yeah but you did look pretty good in those Speedos!" Sakura leered. Arima glared at her.

"Anyway, what was it you were talking about earlier?" Rika looked questioningly at Yukino.

"Yeah! Fess up! What was that whole 'do something special' business all about?" Maho added.

The red-haired girl just raised her eyebrows. "Huh? I don't know what you're talking about." She answered with mock primness.

"Oh come on! Out with it." Aya burst in. "You've been smiling away to yourself all morning. What did you have in mind?"

The whole group turned to look at Yukino who smirked at the attention.

"Oh that! Well you see I figured we could all use a bit of a break from study, you know…to relax before exams."

Everyone stared.

"WHAT!" asked Yukino, perplexed.

Asaba leaned toward Tonami's ear. "Maybe it's the stress."

"Could be." Tonami nodded his head.

"Wasn't she trying out for Tokyo University?" added Aya.

"Uh huh. Weird!"

"Think we should get her checked out?"

"Yeah good idea." Maho reached out and placed her hand on Yukino's forehead.

"ARRGGHHH! CUT… IT… OUT!" Yukino's eyes started to glow.

"Watch out! She's flipped."

"Run!"


"Seriously though, what did you have in mind?" Sakura asked as the group resettled around the table.

Yukino glared at her friends for a moment before continuing. "Well, I've got a cousin up in Hokkaido who runs a resort and he asked if I could help him out for the summer. Basically, it's room and board in exchange for a bit of work around the place."

"Oh!" Aya's ears perked up. "And exactly what kind of resort are we talking about here?"

Yukino grew a mild blush. "It's uh… a hot spring."

Tonami frowned. "Won't it be a bit hot for that. It is summer after all."

"No, the nights are pretty cool up there and besides, it's not too far from the beach so if it's hot we can just go swimming."

"That's actually not a bad idea." Sakura smiled from over her parfait. "Summer in Hokkaido should be cooler than down here."

"So… what do you guys think?"

Yukino watched as the idea lit up in each of her friend's eyes. A chorus of agreement echoed around the table. She looked over to where Arima was sitting, thinking with a slight smile on his face. He seemed to like the idea. Yukino grinned. Originally she had wanted to invite only him, but she could imagine the embarrassment and scandal involved if anyone, especially her parents found out. And with friends like Aya, people were bound to find out. No, it was safer to go as a group.

She smiled over at Tsubasa. "Kazuma is invited too, of course." Tsubasa flashed her a relieved look.

Besides, there were sure to be a few quiet moments where she could have him just to herself. Between the beach and the hot springs there should be ample opportunities. She smiled at the thought and looked up at the group.

"So what's the verdict?"

They looked at each other and nodded.

"Yeah."

"It's ok with me."

"Sure."

Maho raised an eyebrow and surveyed the gang.

"Looks like a yes." She smiled ruefully, mulling over the possibilities in her own mind.

"Hot springs it is then." Yukino beamed, absentmindedly running her fingers over the silky material of the other bathing suit she had bought today.

Yes… this might be a lot of fun, the matchmaker in her crowed. Just look at them, sitting in nicely defined pairs.

Maho and Asaba. That one was weird. She still wasn't entirely sure what had occurred to bring those two together. Yukino smiled sadly at her friend. 'I owe you one, don't I, Maho? I wasn't there. I didn't notice.' She watched the two exchanging soft looks when they thought no one was looking and reminded herself to grill some more details out of Asaba later.

Tonami and Sakura, the competitive pair. Sakura was the one holding that relationship up. Poor old Tonami had made up his mind about loving the girl long ago and his attempts to bring the couple closer, though always doomed to failure, provided a constant source of amusement. That time he had tried to pull Sakura under the covers when she had come to wake him… that had been hilarious. How did Aya even know about that anyway?

Luckily, Yukino had finally figured out the problem, although she had almost died laughing when Sakura had eventually confessed. Poor girl, she thought that she wasn't feminine enough. Sakura had always been such a tomboy; Yukino wasn't really surprised that she didn't know how to play the girlfriend role. But that didn't matter, now! That's right! Miyazawa Yukino was on the case. This summer, Tsubaki Sakura would receive a proper education in feminine wiles. Tonami, God help him, had better be ready!

Tsubasa and Kazuma, even though he wasn't here today. The stepsibling couple was more than a little strange. Beauty and the beast in a way. Although that wasn't really fair. Kazuma was actually quite handsome in a wild sort of way. In actual fact, when it came to temperament, the roles were reversed. With any luck the trip would give her a chance to get to know Kazuma a little better. After all, she knew practically nothing about the boy, just tidbits that she had picked up from conversation with Tsubasa. Kazuma had his own friends in his band and didn't hang out much with the gang.

And then there was well… Aya and Rika. Yukino wasn't completely sure about that relationship, but she had her suspicions. She had attended a few of their movie nights. Aya's choice of movies was… strange.

But… it was the modern day and those sort of things were… well normal, she guessed. Besides, it meant that they wouldn't be interested in trying to steal her boyfriend. That was always a good thing, especially with Aya. If there were any of her friends that she didn't totally, completely, 100 trust then it was Aya. Yep… if her friends wanted to be gay then that was just fine with Miyazawa Yukino.

All in all, it might make her matchmaking more interesting. Oh yes… there were going to be plenty of good opportunities on this trip. This year was going to be special.

For everyone.

Yukino watched quietly as her boyfriend laughed and joked with Tonami, a soft smile lighting up his fragile face.

Arima.

Her hand strayed once again to the shopping bag. The summer would be special alright.

Hopefully for him and her most of all.


END CHAPTER 1
STAY TUNED FOR MORE CIRCUMSTANCES:
That's right!

Hot springs! The beach! Speedos!

And WHY THE HELL is Yukino coming on to Aya?

Coming to a computer screen near you next… well… Whenever I get around to it! 00'''


Author's Note:
Ok, ok I hear you. Maho Asaba? WHAT THE HELL?

Well, those of you who have read my other fic 'But I Stood In The Background' will already get the picture. If you would like to know more about how the two got together… then go ahead and read it while you're waiting for Chapter 2 of this story. ;p

This is not really a sequel as such. Rather than focus on just two characters, I decided to include them all this time. I also wanted to try a different perspective. However, I have used the events of the previous story to build on. I just figured that since I spent so long bringing Maho Asaba together, I might as well borrow that for this fic. ;p

However… this story is SHOULD be more of a comedy, although I may not be able to resist bringing some angst into the later stages. ;)

Thanks go out to LinBean for proofreading. Give her a clap. Go on… otherwise you may have had to put up with my hideous grammar. "

Also to Paul Corrigan for his Aya/Rika obsession. Hopefully he will eventually finish off 'The odyssey of Amy Bellette'!

And lastly… as always I hope you enjoyed the tale and (grins) I hope you can forgive the Cheshire reference! ( I had to put it in sooner or later!)

Ja,

Cheshire Grin