Okay, so this is a departure from my norm (I usually write Naruto stories) but I was struck by inspiration at, oh, midnight last night, and I had to write this, especially since there seems to be a lack of Spiral fics in general. Hope you enjoy!
He could not for the life of him say why he left his cell-phone on by his bed before he went to sleep. Later, he would call it an impulse action, which explained quite a bit, since his impulses were usually correct. Still, it wasn't normal for him to leave his cell-phone on through the night, as he really had no desire to be jolted out of a sound sleep by random caller A, who would more than likely have the wrong number to begin with—Ayumu did not give his number to just anyone—which would leave him grumpy and out of sorts for the remainder of the night and well into morning.
This night had been like any other night; his teeth were brushed, his sweatpants and T-shirt were on, his bed was ready and beckoning, and his phone was in his hand, finger poised over the 'End' button as it waited to receive the signal from his brain to press down…
Yet the signal never came. Oh, he stood and stared at his finger for a good while, completely perplexed, but still, nothing happened. The phone remained on, his finger frozen in place. Eventually, his sister-in-law poked her head through the doorway with raised eyebrows and asked him what the hell he was doing, at which point he came out of his temporary stupor and blinked at her like a lost puppy.
"I really don't know," he admitted, feeling quite foolish. What was he doing?
His sister's eyebrows inched up a bit higher and she appeared as if she were fighting a losing battle against laughter. "You're obviously tired, Ayu. Put the phone down and go to bed, okay? Tomorrow's Saturday, so you can sleep in a little." Her eyes twinkled. "I'd say you need it," she added coyly, and left him to his own devices, her soft chuckles echoing down the hall.
The phone was growing heavy in his hand, and he looked at it once more, trying to determine whether or not his sanity had chosen to abandon him.
"Oh, this is ridiculous," he muttered disgustedly before tossing the phone on his nightstand and crawling beneath the welcoming sheets of his bed. His sister was right. He did need the sleep now that the situation with the Blade Children had calmed somewhat. They were still being targeted, of course—that would probably never change—but it seemed as though their would-be assailants had decided to lay low, at least for the present. And as far as his brother was concerned, the elder Narumi's whereabouts were a loose end not worth dwelling on so late. Perhaps in the morning he'd allow himself some concern and begin to search for clues again.
Or maybe he would not even bother getting out of bed at all and sleep the entire day away. From this end of the stick, option B looked far more promising. After all, he had gotten used to his brother's status as a missing person, and, horrible as it may sound, he was sure Kiyotaka could handle staying that way for another day or two—not that his brother would emerge at the drop of a hat if Ayumu did spend countless hours tearing out his hair in frustration over the poor quality of the information he turned up, anyway.
His eyelids were drooping when he finished the reasoning process, which only cemented his decision to act like a couch potato for once and sleep. He did not spare a moment's thought on the cell-phone predicament after his resolve was set, letting his eyes close instead and sinking into blissful oblivion. Nobody would call, he was almost sure of it…
Hiyono couldn't sleep. No matter what she did, fluffing up her pillows, putting on a new pair of pajamas when the others proved too hot—she changed back into them almost immediately because she was too cold—even trying to count sheep, one of the silliest methods of inducing drowsiness ever invented, she was unable to turn her brain off, a most troublesome affliction indeed.
Hiyono liked to research things. She could happily sit in front of a computer screen and sift through data for days on end and not grow tired of such tediousness—on the contrary, she could not get enough. There was a reason she was the only student who occupied the research room on a daily basis, her insatiable lust for knowledge preventing her from engaging in other activities considered normal for a teenage girl.
But her life was far from normal.
Who in their right mind willingly involved herself in a case so intense as to place her person in grave danger?
It wasn't entirely Hiyono's fault that she became wrapped up in the case of the mysterious group of youths known as the Blade Children. She merely happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time—or the right time, depending on how one chose to look at the situation. She never would have gotten close to Narumi Ayumu—Narumi-san to her—if she hadn't witnessed the fall of one of the Blade Children from a window at school, and took it upon herself to discover all she could about who these people were and why they were under attack. Naturally, once she'd put one foot in, the rest of her body followed, and she and Narumi-san went from meddling civilians to friends of the enemy in the blink of an eye, thus incurring the wrath of the law enforcement officials who appeared to be at the head of the conspiracy against the Blade Children.
Amidst all the chaos that ensued, Hiyono had endured various kidnappings and other such attempts at silencing her, however as opposed to being afraid, she discovered there was a certain thrill to be had in risking one's life. Narumi-san always showed up just in time to get her out of serious trouble, and she offered him the use of her vast information gathering skills in return. When it came down to it, they made a rather unusual team, but they did work well together, and she enjoyed his company immensely despite the fact that he was a man of few words, and when he did speak, he exhibited the same emotional capacity as a block of wood.
As she sat up in the dark, covers flung to the side and feet tapping against the metal mattress frame, she realized at once why she was unable to sleep.
Narumi-san was the one person she couldn't crack, even though she spent nearly every day in his presence, and it was beginning to frustrate her.
"Oh dear," she whispered to the tiny yellow ducky that Narumi-san had won for her out of a claw machine and she slept with every night since. "What should I do?"
The duck had no answer for her, and she flopped on her back with an exasperated sigh.
She had no idea when her feelings began to change, but change they had, and she did not know how to deal with them. Boys never really posed much of a problem before; she was too involved in her research to take notice of them in a romantic way, and she did not have any sense that she was missing something. At least, she hadn't until she met Narumi-san.
Groaning, she rolled over and buried her face in the mattress. Why did looking at him make her stomach all fluttery? And why on earth did the sound of his voice send chills dancing up her spine? He was just a boy, and just a friend…wasn't he? And he hadn't exactly shown any particular attachment to her, anyway, so it was silly to get worked up over him, the cool part of her head noted.
But if he didn't like her at all, wouldn't he have told her to go away and stopped coming to the newsroom altogether? Wouldn't he have snapped at her for eating his lunches right out from under his nose? Wouldn't he have done something?
"I'm so confused!" she spat, thoroughly irritated—which was a rare thing for Hiyono. "What does he think of me, and why do I care so much?"
The second question was quite simple to answer, really. She cared because she wanted Narumi-san to see her as more than a friend. To regard her with affection, tell her she was special, beautiful, the perfect girl to keep by his side…
Hiyono sat bolt upright, hand groping for her phone. The rational half of her conscience knew it was probably too late to be doing this, but she didn't care. The likelihood of Narumi-san's phone being on was slim to none, besides, which meant she would end up getting his voice-mail and then feel foolish afterward.
Well, that was just too bad.
Mind made up, she pressed speed-dial—she programmed his number in almost as soon as he'd given it to her—and held the phone to her ear, heart pounding a mismatched rhythm against her ribs.
We're friends. We can talk. It's no big deal…
At first, he tried to ignore the incessant screeching noise that permeated his dream, partially convinced he was imagining it. Either that, or his dream was very realistic, able to mimic the sound of his ring tone to the last note. Yes, that had to be the explanation.
"Okay," he said to whoever controlled his dreams, "that's enough. I get the picture."
The screeching continued as if he had not spoken a word.
"Seriously, no more. It's distracting."
Brrring, brrring, brrring!
His eyes cracked open, and he turned his head to the side, where his cell-phone glowed to alert its owner that someone was calling.
"What…are you kidding me?"
He stared at the phone in wonder, as if it had sprouted legs.
Brrring, brrring, brrring!
Ayumu had two options. One, ignore the phone and go back to sleep, or two, answer it and risk the consequences that may follow.
On the verge of stuffing his head beneath his pillow, something stopped him midway, the same something that made his arm shoot out and grab the phone, holding it up to his face to check the identity of the caller.
He would have recognized that number anywhere, since it inevitably appeared on the screen at least once a day without fail.Drat…
There was no possible way for him to ignore this call now.
"Hello?" he croaked.
Her voice sounded bewildered.
"I thought for sure your phone would be off!"
Though he'd known her for some time, it still amazed him how hyper she could manage to be so late at night.
"Hiyono," he stated as he knuckled sleep from his eyes, resigned.
A slight pause.
"It really is Narumi-san!"
She seemed quite happy. He, on the other hand, grew more wary by the second.
"I'd certainly hope so," replied Ayumu wryly. "What's the matter?"
"Matter? Oh…oh, um, well…nothing's the matter! Why would you think something's the matter?"
Ayumu raked the fingers of his free hand through his hair, eyes closed. Remember, it's Hiyono you're talking to. She does this sort of thing all the time. "It's nearly two o'clock in the morning. If it wasn't important, you would've waited."
Another moment of silence passed.
"Oh…I suppose you're right."Patience, Narumi, patience…
"What's the matter, Hiyono?" He repeated.
"Well…I'm not really sure. I…I just…would you mind if I came over? I can't sleep."
Of all the possible responses he could have received, he had definitely not expected that.
How is coming over here going to help her sleep? This girl makes no sense sometimes…
But he couldn't say no.
The relief was evident in her voice. "Good. I'll be there soon."
His phone went dead.
"What the hell just happened?" He asked aloud to no one in particular once he'd recovered from his shock. "I must be losing my mind. I have to be." Glaring at the cell-phone, which had returned to its perch on the nightstand and was the source of this fiasco, he muttered darkly, "No more whims for me. Next time, you're staying off."
The phone made no comment.
"I'm really sorry if I woke you."
Hiyono sat cross-legged on his bed, her long, silky brown hair out of its customary pigtails and flowing freely over her shoulders. She wore a pink hooded sweatshirt over black sweatpants that were cut off at the knee, and she had one of his fluffy gray blankets clutched about her. The temperature had dropped as the night progressed, and she was the sort who became cold easily.
Ayumu could not seem to take his eyes from her hair, and the face that it framed.Has she always been this pretty? I never noticed…
He realized too late that he'd been staring. A flush crept up his cheeks. "What?"
One of her delicately curved eyebrows arched. "I said I'm sorry if I woke you."
"Don't worry about it," he replied a bit too quickly, and the flush intensified. Get a hold of yourself! A dry voice in his mind commanded. What's the matter with you? "Er—"
"You must be wondering why I came."
Ayumu glanced at her sharply. He was not used to this forward manner of speaking from Hiyono, of all people. Though they spent quite a bit of time together, she had yet to call him by his given name, and she formed her sentences with a childlike innocence that he found—though he would never admit it out loud—rather charming in an odd sort of way. The wariness he felt during their brief phone conversation increased ten-fold as she gazed at him intently.
A strange look crossed her features when he said her name; on any other person, it would be considered one of longing, though he refused to see it that way on her. It wasn't possible…
"Naru—" she bit her lip. "Do you really like it when I call you Narumi-san all the time? I think we're beyond that, aren't we?" The dark pools that were her eyes met his, and what he glimpsed there nearly drove him out of the room—and to tell the truth, he probably would have bolted if such a reaction weren't so undignified. Narumi Ayumu never ran screaming from any challenge, and he wasn't about to start now.
"It is kind of stupid for you to be so formal." He agreed, keeping his voice as normal as possible. I hope that's the answer you were looking for…
From the way her face light up ever so slightly, he could tell that it was.
"I'm glad," she admitted honestly. "And…in that case…can I call you Ayu-kun?"Ayu-kun?
For whatever reason, his insides fizzled pleasantly at the sound of that.
There you go again, idiot! Do you have any idea what your peers will do when they find out she uses that nickname? You won't hear the end of it!
He hadn't thought of it that way.
"We'll make a deal. You can call me Ayu-kun when we're alone, but it's Ayumu in public, okay?"
She smiled shrewdly at him. "Fair enough. Ayu-kun." The last part was tacked on, as if she could not resist basking in her success, and his brow wrinkled.
"Don't patronize me."
"I'm not! That was not patronizing!"
"Yes it was. You know it was."
Crossing her arms huffily over her chest, she mock-glared at him. "Well now you know how it feels. You always patronize me." She batted her eyelashes. "What's a poor little girl to do? I'm so maltreated!"
Both of his eyebrows flew toward his crown.
"I won't dignify that with a response."
If Hiyono were a balloon, she would have deflated.
"Ruin all my fun," she lamented tragically, pulling the blanket around a bit tighter.
Ayumu rolled his eyes. "I could be sleeping right now, you know. I haven't been able to do that in ages."
One of her hands snaked out of the confines of the blanket and patted the top of his head as if he were a dog. "Then I should get to the point, shouldn't I?"
Does she have any idea how infuriating she can be?
The strange look on her face resurfaced, and he saw once again the not-so-hidden emotion behind her eyes…
And for the first time in his life, he was utterly and completely terrified.
"Ayu-kun—" The first word out of her mouth, and he was already doomed "— I've been thinking quite a bit recently about a lot of things," her intense gaze locked him in place, "and most of them have to do with you."
When he opened his mouth—well, it fell open of its own accord, when one got right down to it—she held up a hand to silence him.
"No, let me say this. If I don't now, I never will." She took a moment to gather her thoughts and continued. "We do spend an awful lot of time with each other, don't we? I know a lot of that is my fault," she concurred as he snorted, "but we do nonetheless. Does—" her nose wrinkled, and she decided to adjust what she had been about to say. "Have you ever wondered why? I mean, we're not exactly bound by a contract to stick close to one another, we just…do. At least, I do. I'm not so sure about you, Ayu-kun."
He had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that he knew where this conversation was heading, and he was not ready to have it. Not ready at all.
"Why do you stay with me, Ayumu?"
In the background, Madoka's old grandfather clock chimed the hour in two loud, slow peals, but the beating of his own heart magnified in his ears drowned the sound out. Hiyono's eyes had not left his; they held him in place, unwilling to release him.
How did she weave this spell over me? I've been alert this whole time! I should have noticed and come up with a way to outwit her, his mind babbled. She's boxed me in a corner, and I can't find the escape route…it doesn't exist…
His mouth had gone dry as sandpaper.
Hiyono leaned forward. "Tell me," she urged gently.
Say something! Spit it out!
"Because…I'm used to you."
He could not have given her a more honest and profound answer if he spent eons composing a lengthy soliloquy full of flowery, over-the-top phrases and fawning expressions of lovesick sentiment, and she knew it because she knew him, perhaps even better than he knew himself.
And it was enough.
The smile she gave him in return was impish.
"It's kind of late for me to be running around in the dark when who knows what kind of lunatics are prowling around out there. Can I sleep here tonight?"
Ayumu blinked. So that was it? He passed the test?
"I don't really like floors, though," she warned. "They're uncomfortable."She's going to put me in an early grave…
"Then stay up here."
So she did.
And every now and then, he left his cell-phone on, just in case she decided to call, even though he swore that he wouldn't again.
Yay! I love these two so much…they're such an adorable couple. :squees: Give that little button a click and let me know how my first foray into the Spiral world was, eh?