Lord Cynic: "Man… it sucks to be back in school…" (sighs) Oh well. Once again, I've sidetracked and gone down a road previously untouched. Angelic Layer! … (coughs) Yeah, okay, I get it. Anyways, it confuses me why there's so few Misaki/Kotaro fanfics around. There're maybe, what, 5? 7 at the very most. Well, I'm not exactly complaining, although the majority of heterosexual couplings are Misaki/Ohjiro. Then again, I've only seen episodes 1 to 4 of the anime (hoping to get volume 1 of the manga on the weekend), so maybe I don't know enough from experience. Meh, but I've read enough. (shrugs) I shouldn't bag people's tastes, though. It reminds me of other things I've gotten over…
Anyways, this is kinda pointless fluff without a point until maybe the last 1000-1500 words. Eh… it's my first day!
Lord Cynic: "I don't own Angelic Layer. I do have Volume 1 of the anime, though. Damn, the music rocks!"
Puppy love picnic
Another Angelic Fight in the Piffle Princess, another victory for...
"The winner, Hikaru!"
Hikaru's Deus, a pre-teen by the name of Misaki Suzuhara, blushed as polite cheer rang through the Angelic Layer department of the shopping centre. However, one should probably be more embarrassed at her choice of a personal cheer squad. Particularly when one of the members was a rambunctious, blonde haired girl dubbed by some as a "Hyperactive Nutbar". Even the dark-haired, taller boy next to her was shaking his head in humiliation and exasperated.
"Yay, Misakichi!" she cheered enthusiastically, bowling over those unfortunate to be in her path as she charged towards her friend. "Way to g - what the?"
"I'm sorry," Misaki said sincerely to her opponent, an older, orange-haired girl with clichéd sunglasses. She bowed, causing Tamayo to face fault again. "I hope she's not hurt too bad?"
To her dismay, the older girl simply huffed, pushed her sunglasses further up her snobbish face, snatched her own angel from Misaki's hands and stomped away without a word. Misaki stared after her, her face becoming crestfallen as the crowd gradually dispersed. Her hands were still outstretched, as if grasping for something from her departed opponent that wouldn't come. Even her angel, Hikaru, was standing idly, as if as dumbstruck as her Deus for their former opponents' lack of sportsmanship.
Misaki was so preoccupied by her dejection that she initially didn't feel hands on both of her shoulders. Only when the hand on her left shoulder squeezed gently did she register the presence of her two friends. Reluctantly, she turned around to meet the soft, sympathetic smiles of Tamayo "Hyperactive Nutbar" Kizaki and the dark-haired boy, Kotaro "Human Wrestling Mat" Kobayashi (although the latter was also mistakenly known as a cross-dresser after a naive comment by Misaki). Despite her blues, she managed a weak smile of her own. However, the other two weren't convinced.
"What's wrong, Misakichi?" the tomboyish girl of the group asked. "You're not usually down in the dumps after a win."
"Oh, it's nothing," the shorter, brown-haired girl answered quickly.
"Even through the sea of heads, I could see how miserable you looked," Hotaro said, frowning slightly. "And you still do. What did that person do?"
"Nothing, nothing at all," Misaki protested, waving her hands about frantically. "I was just thinking, that's all." At least I'm not completely lying, she thought nervously. "Everything's fine, Kotaro-chan, Tamayo-chan."
"Well, if you're sure," Tamayo said. However, her look of concern changed into a cunning expression, and although Misaki was too naive to notice, Kotaro could practically see the gears in the blonde's mind working overtime. The latter spotted the boy giving her suspicious looks, and folded her arms. "Whatcha lookin' at, Kotaro-chan?"
"Nothing," he answered, before glancing at his watch. "Suzuhara-chan, Tamayo-chan, I think it's time to get Hatoko."
"Stop calling her Suzuhara-chan!" Tamayo scolded the tallest and soul male member of the party. "Are you too afraid to call her Misaki?"
"What do you mean?" Misaki asked innocently. She looked back and forth between Tamayo, who was grinning wryly, and Kotaro, who, although he was scowling, was also sporting a faint red tinge in his cheeks. The latter was possibly trying to hide his blush while glaring at Tamayo, but even the innocent Deus noticed and commented on it. "Are you hot, Hotaro-chan? Your face is red."
"Ooh, are you blushing?" Tamayo teased, hopping around the flustered Kotaro, whose blush was indeed intensifying. "You are too! I wonder why..."
"Don't be ridiculous!" Kotaro objected. He quickened his walking speed, making the girls job in order to keep up with him. "Oh, and Su... Misaki-chan." he corrected himself, eager to let go of habit and avoid another playful chiding form Tamayo, "if you ever want to let us know what was really bothering you, don't be afraid to tell us. Okay?"
"H... Hai," Misaki stuttered, blushing embarrassedly at the boy's sincerity. "I promise."
"Aww, isn't that sweet?" Tamayo cooed, squeezing between her friends and wrapping an arm each around their shoulders. She ignored the renewed crimson patches on her cheeks and stuck out her right pinky finger. "Let's make a pinky promise!"
"Uh, sure," the other two replied in unison.
The trio's pinkies were still locked in a promise when Kotaro's five-year-old sister Katoko approached them. She looked at them quizzically, but they simply smiled (or grinned, in the blonde's case), released their pinky fingers from each other and walked alongside her. She dismissed her suspicions as none of her business and talked with her brother and friends.
It wasn't long, however, before Misaki and Hatoko separated from the quartet to discuss their angels. That was very convenient for Tamayo, whose gears began to circulate in her mind again. Her grin gradually grew wider, provoking a raised eyebrow and an enquiry from Hotaro.
"All right, just what are you planning?"
"You like her, don't you?" the girl asked out of the blue. Hotaro reddened immediately at the sudden surmise, and Tamayo grinned again, enjoying his discomfort (though, not maliciously). "I knew it!"
"What? But I haven't said anything!"
"Who says you need words to get an answer?" Tamayo tapped her nose and nodded sagely. "I can see it on your face. Oh, it's just so kawaii!"
"Hey, knock it off!" Hotaro hissed, pointing to Misaki and Hotaro in front of them. The Deuses of the group were discussing battle strategies, so thankfully they couldn't hear was what transpiring behind them. "I don't want you yelling about how I like Suzu..."
"Aha! Right out of the horse's mouth!" Tamayo declared, although she was careful to keep her voice discreet. "So whatcha gonna do about it?"
"Nothing, what else?" Kotaro answered honestly. Tamayo sighed, threw her hands up in the air and shook her head.
"Kotaro-chan, Kotaro-chan, Kotaro-chan," she said with a trace of sympathy. "Are all boys dumb, or just you?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" Hotaro asked through gritted teeth.
"Relax," Tamayo said cheerfully, applying a light headlock on the boy. "Seriously, though, you can't just do nothing. Where's the fun in that? More importantly, how would you expect her to know how you feel, and perhaps even return your feelings?"
However, he went ignored as Tamayo began to cook up a scheme. Oh yes, the mind of a pre-teen can be quite wily, especially when it comes to hooking best friends together. But just how she was going to accomplish the objective, well, that would take time to figure out.
Tamayo taxed her brain for ideas, meaning for Kotaro that she would no longer pressure him about his clumsily concealed crush on one Misaki Suzuhara. Well, not yet, anyway. All the same, though, he was grateful for some privacy about his... love life. Especially since, he almost let slip his lack of experience in... that area when he and Misaki first met. It wasn't helped that even before that, Hatoko's line, "Are you gonna kiss?" somehow led him down the road he was currently travelling on. Unfortunately for him, his metaphorical car was out of gas, so he was pretty much at a dead end. Darn...
Suddenly, a surprised cry knocked him back to reality, and he realised that Misaki had tripped over a step in the footpath. Acting on instinct, he reached out and grabbed her around the waist, provoking a nervous squeak from the girl when she didn't feel the full force of concrete on her face. Furthermore, the squeak was unnaturally prolonged when she realised her saviour from embarrassment, ironically causing some between the two anyway. Misaki and Kotaro stared at each other, lost for words and faces growing redder and hotter from their close proximity. The former's shocked expression was complimented admirably by the latter's astonished one, and even when he released her onto solid ground, they couldn't pull their gazes from one another.
Eventually, a loud hoot and cheer from the Hyperactive Nutbar brought them abruptly out of their private world. Faces burning scarlet, they immediately away to face their audience. On the one hand, Kotaro scowled at the foxy grin on Tamayo; on the other hand, Misaki simply blushed harder at the serene yet all-knowing smile on Hatoko's face. For a while it was silent, everyone in deep thought about the recent incident.
If it wasn't obvious before, it is now. They've definitely got the hots for each other now! (Tamayo)
I hope Tamayo's not thinking anything nasty. I meant to look away, really, but I couldn't move... it was like I was in a trance... ack, was it because of Suzuhara? Tamayo's gonna have a field day now... (Hotaro)
Well, that was interesting. I was hoping they'd kiss. Maybe if I tripped Misaki again... (Hatoko)
Ekkks! I can't believe that just happened! I'm so embarrassed... and I just kept staring at him. Eeep, my cheeks must be so red! But... his eyes were so kind, so gentle... oh, what am I thinking? He can't like me... right? (Misaki)
Another rowdy hoot nearly freaked three-quarters of the group out of their skins, and the Kobayashi's and Misaki spun around to see a mischievous glint in Tamayo's eye. It was a severe understatement to say that the blonde's expression was simply disturbing. However, someone had to find out what the self-proclaimed "L33t Ninja Master" was so ecstatic about. Unfortunately for Misaki, that task would lie with her.
"Tamayo-chan?" she asked timidly. "Um... what's the good news?"
"Misakichi, let's have a picnic tomorrow!" Tamayo declared spontaneously. The Kobayashi brother and sister pair face faulted as Misaki simply smiled nervously back at the vivacious blonde. "C'mon, it'll be fun!"
"It would be a pleasant break from Angelic Layer," Hatoko mused. "I'm in."
"I guess it would be okay," Hotaro muttered after careful consideration.
"Then it's settled!" Tamayo proclaimed.
"B-But," Misaki stuttered, stunned by Tamayo's decisiveness, "Tamayo-chan, I haven't said anything yet."
"You don't need to," Tamayo replied matter-of-factly. "You wouldn't want to miss out, would you? Especially since Kotaro-chan's coming..."
Misaki froze, and her face instantly reddened.
"Yahari," Tamayo said, grinning her sneaky grin.
"W-Well, um, that is," the shorter girl stuttered futilely.
"Be sure to bring lots of food, Misakichi," Tamayo added. "Maybe we can play a game tomorrow and see if Kotaro-chan can tell which cooking's yours."
She grinned at the flushed expression on the brown-haired girl's face before jogging to catch up to the Kobayashi pair. Misaki remained frozen in time for a few more seconds, before she realised everyone was long gone. With a startled cry, she too ran to catch up with the others.
It was early afternoon the next day when Misaki was preparing a basket of food for a picnic. Subconsciously (so she wasn't aware of it), she was trying to cram as much food as possible, in an attempt to impress Kotaro with her cooking skills. In that case, perhaps it was fortunate that she didn't know her true intentions. If she did, she probably would've tripped over in embarrassed shock and dropped the strawberry shortcake she was holding. Then again, there was already so much food stuffed into the basket that it probably wouldn't have mattered. However, her subconscious was still on a mission... not that she fully knew about it, of course.
Eventually, she decided on keeping the shortcake separate from everything else. That was perhaps a good thing, since the poor basket was bulging like a face full of chocolate. Coincidentally, there were two bars of chocolate in the basket and she was perfectly aware of it. She'd have to hide them, though. Tamayo sounded hungry enough to wolf down the sweet stuff down without surfacing to breathe, when she called earlier. Actually, maybe it was better to keep those in her backpack...
After she zipped up her bag, she finally discovered the mini banquet she had just prepared. A fresh blush crept onto her cheeks as she examined the basket and its contents. However, she didn't feel inclined to remove anything. On the contrary, she felt extremely proud of her effort. Now, everyone was sure to have a good time at the picnic. The only problem was, how was she going to carry everything to the park, where the gathering was taking place?
The sound of the doorbell disrupted her anxious thoughts, and she walked over to answer it. To her surprise, she found a flustered yet curious Kotaro standing behind it, dressed in his school shirt, knock back jeans and trainers. Despite his awkwardness, Kotaro's eyes travelled to Misaki's apron, causing the both of them to blush. When she realised what she was wearing underneath (a sloppy long-sleeved shirt and shorts), she blushed crimson, provoking a sheepish grin from the boy.
"Um, do you mind if I go up and change?" she asked timidly. When Kotaro nodded, still wearing the coy smile, she sighed inwardly with relief. "Please have a seat while I'm gone. Ms Shoko's at work, so you don't need to worry."
Kotaro nodded again, possibly too tongue-tied to actually say anything as his eyes wandered around the part of the house he could see. Misaki giggled at his dumbfounded silence, making it his turn to blush scarlet, before disappearing upstairs. It would take a further few seconds after her departure before he snapped out of his trance and proceeded into the main room to sit.
Misaki pondered over what to wear. She didn't initially want to make a big deal of her outfit for the day. However, after what just happened, she knew she now had to make a conscious effort. But what could she possibly wear? She was never good at doing things under pressure, and this was no different. Oh, what she wouldn't give for something, anything, to jump out and scream, "Wear me! Wear me!"
As if a freaky, supernatural force had heard her mental plight, the most obvious thought sprung to her mind: her school uniform. If Kotaro wasn't afraid to wear at least half of it, then neither should she. She could just change the shoes for those she usually wore on casual outings, and hey, presto! Outfit complete! She almost smacked her palm against her forehead for not thinking of it sooner. At least Kotaro wouldn't laugh at her... Ah, Kotaro!
She hurriedly pulled her uniform over her head, almost forgetting about her unexpected houseguest. She hoped she wasn't being rude for leaving him alone like that. The house wasn't terribly interesting (no offence to Ms Shoko, of course), so she couldn't imagine what he could possibly do by himself. The only thing worth mentioning at that moment was the mass of food in the kitchen... Oh, the food! She knew there was something else she forgot. But could she ask Kotaro to help her? Well, there was only one way to find out.
She descended into the den, where Kotaro was sitting on a chair looking both confused and fascinated at the same time. She wondered why, until she noticed his gaze on her attire. She smiled shyly, coaxing a similarly nervous one from her classmate.
"Is it alright?" she asked sheepishly. "I thought since you're wearing the same thing..."
"Oh, it's fine," Kotaro answered. He stood up gingerly. "Are you ready to go?"
"Oh, just a minute!"
Kotaro watched, intrigued, as Misaki disappeared into the kitchen. The next thing he knew, a large sweatdrop was sliding down the back of his head as he watched a massive load of box-like structures with legs approaching him. However, a feminine yelp as the box tilted slightly sideways brought him to his senses. Suddenly, the situation registered in his mind, and he dashed forward to grab the boxes before they fell forwards and spilled their contents. An exhausted brown-haired girl was revealed on the other side of the load, and she promptly collapsed onto her backside, her face beet red from effort.
"I guess I tried to carry too much," she said in an unnecessarily apologetic tone, laughing to hide anymore flustered feelings.
To her astonished, behind the boxes Kotaro started to laugh richly. However, for once Misaki felt comfortable about it since his arrival, and soon joined in the pointless shenanigans. She hadn't realised until their unexpected, frivolous laugh fest just how much she'd agonised over her feelings for the boy standing in front of him, whose voice was being somewhat muffled by a strawberry shortcake. The thought was so ridiculous that her laughter renewed itself, until she dissolved into childish giggles.
Eventually, they were able to control themselves. Besides, Kotaro's arms were getting sore. Don't know how they could still support the load...
"Shall we go?" Misaki asked, now holding the shortcake as well as the bag on her back. "Oh, but what about Hatoko-chan and Tamayo-chan?"
"Hatoko wanted to go by herself," Kotaro answered, frowning slightly. "She's always like that. And Tamayo-chan's probably with her. I don't even want to think about what they're doing right now... or what they could find to talk about," he mumbled quietly.
"Well, let's not keep them waiting!" Misaki said cheerfully. Kotaro nodded, hitched up the basket in his arms and progressed to the door. The brown-haired girl followed, but picked up her Angel, Hikaru, near the phone and smiled serenely at her. "Let's have fun today, Hikaru!"
Kotaro smiled at the one-sided exchange between the Deus and her Angel. "You might not know it, but you're not the only angel I see... Misaki-chan."
"Kotaro-chan? Did you say something?"
"Oh, it's nothing. Let's hurry."
The pair eventually arrived at the park amidst light conversation. Apparently, Ms Shoko was offered an opportunity overseas (but she just couldn't leave her dear niece, or her cooking), and Hatoko's fan mail had taken hostage of Kotaro's room. The boy was rather bitter about the latter, since he was forced to either sleep on a futon in the den, or risk being smothered by envelopes and packages. However, Misaki's enthusiasm about Hatoko's popularity softened Kotaro's irritation. When she started negatively comparing herself to the kindergartner, though, Kotaro felt compelled to prove her wrong with encouraging praise at her success. Though his comforting and reassurance, they benefited individually: Misaki, through reassurance that she shouldn't have to compare herself to anyone; and Kotaro, through knowing that she knew she could count on him to make her feel better. For both, it was infinitely soothing for their consciences.
They soon found the location that everyone had agreed on earlier (a soft, lush green patch of grass under a large oak tree), but were surprised to find the absence of the other half of the party. However, they decided not to let it bother them as they set everything out on the pasture in front of them. Kotaro had even provided soft drinks, although he also brought an abundance of plastic cups.
"I didn't think there'd be so many of them when I bought them," he said abashedly.
"I wonder where the others are?" Misaki asked, looking around. True, it was definitely becoming late in the afternoon, and Hatoko and Tamayo were nowhere in sight. "The food is getting cold..."
"You're right..." Suddenly, a proposition sprung to mind. "Let's eat while we're waiting. Surely they won't mind."
"Are you sure? We might get carried away."
"Take a look," Kotaro said, indicating the spread in front of them. "You've made enough for 8 people."
"W-Well, not really," she stammered, although flattered all the same. "I guess it couldn't hurt, though."
Kotaro smiled, grasping a turkey sandwich from the plate nearest him. Wordlessly, he took a sizeable bite and chewed pensively. To Misaki, it seemed that Kotaro was contemplating whether to praise or criticise her (although, to do that over a sandwich was ludicrous). In reality, he was simply savouring the flavour (again, compared with the more than modest spread in front of them, one would wonder why).
Kotaro sensed how tense Misaki was feeling, and resisted the urge to laugh lightly and humiliate her further. After finally swallowing the moderately sized morsel, he flashed her a thumbs up of approval to ease her nerves. However, her insecurity was starting to make him concerned. He wasn't sure why she'd worry so much about what people thought of her food (especially a sandwich), unless...
A thought just struck him like Tamayo's famous Reverse Lariat. He watched Misaki take tentative bites of her sandwich, his gaze unwavering even when she sensed him staring. She blushed under its intensity, but soon realised it wasn't malicious, but sincere and worried. Nonetheless, she felt embarrassed, but flattered by the attention. Especially because it was him whom she was receiving it from... wait, what?
"Suzu... er, Misaki?" he asked, bursting her thought bubble. "Abou... About yesterday... are you still depressed about what happened after the battle?"
Misaki stared at him with an astounded expression on her face. He blanched instantly, thinking that he'd touched a nerve, especially when she became downcast and miserable. Immediately he tried to apologise, but was prevented from uttering a syllable when she spoke up. However, her voice was gentle, albeit forlorn.
"I know it's silly, but I like to think it's easy to get along with people. But after yesterday, I learned that's not always possible. In a roundabout way, it also reminded me of how tough Angelic Layer can be for a lot of people. It made me think about how much better I have to become before Hikaru can fight like the one I saw when I first came to Tokyo..."
Seconds passed like hours as Misaki and Kotaro sat in silence, lost in an infinite ocean of thoughts. Their hands grasped salami sandwiches and hotdogs respectively, but the food items were metres away from the mouths they were supposed to be feeding. In fact, due to their prolonged silence, the realisation that they were about to subconsciously feed each other didn't hit them until the wrong food was in their mouths. When it eventually did, they sat up instantly, choking on their unexpected snacks.
Once their coughing and choking fits had ceased, they immediately wondered how and why it happened. Through their confusion, they spotted the offending items of food in each other's hands, and positively gawked at one another. If they couldn't feel the heat rushing to their own faces, they could definitely see steam radiating off of their opposite's. But what it did mean... and what in the world just happened?
One recurring thought ran through both middle schoolers' heads:
W-What was that? I think... that was... an indirect kiss!
Simultaneously, they gently pressed their fingers onto their lips (their own, that is), as if savouring the imaginary sensations. They let them linger momentarily, as if desperate to retain the so-called 'indirect kiss' for as long as possible. Suddenly, the coy embarrassment of their first meeting returned, as if craving a second helping from its two victims of its Cupid arrows. Misaki shifted her shoulders just like that first time, causing Kotaro to blanch. Yes, it was definitely deja vu.
However, since then, their feelings towards each other had changed drastically. No longer were there first time jitters, punctuated by a certain kindergartner and her ambitious questions. Now, the butterflies in their stomaches had truly blossomed, and underneath the oak tree, they looked like they had known and loved each other all their young lives. In reality, although they one obstacle to overcome, they may have only just begun.
Speaking of that obstacle...
"Y-You know, Misaki-chan..."
"There may be no better chance to say this..."
"O-Oh? What is it?"
"I... I think I lo..."
"Misakichi! Kotaro-chan! Sorry we're late!"
Said girl and boy nearly got heart attacks as the rowdy blonde ran up to them, clutching a grocery that seemed to be ripping from the bottom. Quite a long way behind her was Hatoko, who was wearing a smile that seemed to see all and know all without telling all. On the other hand, Tamayo didn't even attempt to hide what she thought she just saw, as she grinned eagerly at her classmates.
"So, whatcha been doing by yourselves, eh?" she asked, although she probably didn't need to. "Started without us, I see," she added, indicating the food that had been untouched for a good five minutes.
"Oh, I'm sorry," said Misaki. "It was getting late, and we couldn't help it."
"Hey, don't sweat it," Tamayo said jovially. "Besides, at least there's plenty of the famous Suzuhara cooking to go around!"
Misaki blushed as Tamayo grabbed some satay chicken and stuffed the whole kebab into her mouth at once. Kotaro gagged at the less-than-graceful eating habits of the blonde as his sister finally reached them. For some reason, he felt unnerved by the expression on Hatoko's face. That feeling only increased considerably when her smile grew wider.
"You kissed, didn't you?" she asked eagerly, looking between Misaki (now scarlet) and Kotaro (now pale white).
Tamayo nearly choked on her slice of strawberry shortcake.
"You did what?" she asked incredulously.
"What... what do you mean?" Misaki asked nervously.
"Well, you were feeding each other before I came, right?" Hatoko asked. She pointed to the piece of sausage on Misaki's lip, and a slice of salami on Kotaro's, causing them to redden darkly.
"We didn't!" Kotaro protested.
"Kotaro-chan!" Tamayo suddenly declared. "You might fight me here and now before you can have that privilege!"
"What! No way!"
"C'mon, fight me!" And without warning, she snuck up behind him and ensnared him in a Full Nelson.
"Oww! Lemme go! I said we didn't do anything!"
"Break my hold, otherwise I won't let you do anything!" Tamayo spotted Misaki's blocks of chocolate protruding out of her bag. "And you've been keeping chocolate from us!"
Misaki and Hatoko watched Kotaro's struggle, mortified and bemused respectively. Eventually, the younger girl turned to the older girl with the all-too-familiar sagely smile on her face.
"You suit him well, even if he is a bit of a dunderhead," she said as Misaki's blush returned with a vengeance. "I'm happy for you."
Misaki squeaked and Kotaro groaned (despite his pain), but they knew what was true. However, when the boy eventually fainted from Tamayo's improvised wrestling manoeuvre, Misaki dropped her salami sandwich and rushed over to help him. She wondered if he was alive, but even the unconscious can blush when Tamayo makes a suggestion.
"Misakichi! Give him CPR!"
Hai – "Yes" or "Okay"
Kawaii – "Cute"
Yahari – "Just as I thought"
Lord Cynic: "I probably missed a few, so comment if you find a Japanese word I haven't covered."