Fulcrum

Finally! I managed to get my act together and write this up. Thanks for all your patience and kindness. And remember, FoR does not belong to me! Now let's get this party started?


Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my freaking god.

As she paced anxiously around the room, Fuuko bit viciously away at her right thumbnail. Her world was collapsing, momentarily at least, to utter shambles around her. This was fucking insane. How had the world managed to pull this off? How had the world managed to make Mi-chan nip at her inner wrist – to make him lick the sensitive skin between her fingers – to make her moan – to make him – No! She refused to think about what had just transpired between her and Mi-chan. Which was nothing nothing nothing NOTHING, goddamnit.

She clenched her teeth, turned on her heel sharply to change directions, and, in her frazzled state, knocked her pencil holder over. The pencils clattered to the floor, and she winced slightly.

The broken pencils scattered in every direction on her carpet stared blankly at her. Fuuko stared back at them, shook her head as if to shake off a certain memory, then sighed and bent down to pick the pencils up.

She reached out to grab one, and stopped suddenly, her gaze focused on the hand that was about to close around the pencil.

This is… my hand?

It was hers undoubtedly. She recognized the faint scars that ran along the back of her hands, the ones that began at the knuckles and tapered off at the wrist, the ones that she had gotten when she was training with the fuujin She noted her short fingernails worn down to the quick from years of nervous nail biting. She looked fondly at the (very) small tattoo of a cloud at the soft skin between the thumb and index finger. This was her hand. The hand that had saved her life so many times, that had shook so many hands, that had punched countless numbers of jerks. The very same hand that Mi-chan had been kissing, the very same index finger that he had suckled, the very same wrist that he had licked, pressing his pink tongue into her skin, pressing softly and with pressure, his teeth nipping sharply at her knuckle, and Fuuko's eyes closing, she heard Mi-chan's soft groan echo echo echo.

A blush branded her neck, and she buried her face in her hands in embarrassment. The image of his lips against her skin, the feel of his tongue – and was that the scent of his cologne? The images in her mind grew sharper, more vivid, and it was all Fuuko could do not to throw her head back and moan as the scene in Mi-chan's bedroom played itself over and over in her mind. His groan, deep and so soft, pulled at something dark at the base of Fuuko's abdomen. Over and over again, the desperate sound he had made echoed in her mind and – it was getting louder.

Her mind, as if in rebellion, began to form scenes she was sure had never happened. As she closed her eyes, hearing Mi-chan's voice in her head, she saw him opening his eyes. He reached up to her, and grabbed her other wrist. With a deft motion he captured both of her hands in his left grip and now he was pushing her backwards onto his bed, eyes dark and glittering, lips curling into a dangerous smile, and he began to lean towards her so that she was lying underneath him, his left hand pinning her hands behind her head, his right hand supporting his weight as he tented her body with his. Fuuko, he says, Fuuko, in a rough voice, and suddenly his mouth is on her neck, his tongue lapping at her skin, his sharp teeth sinking into the sensitive junction of her neck and shoulder and –

A shrill cry tore the silence of the room apart. Fuuko leapt up and let out another horrified scream.

Oh my God. Oh my God. For the love of all things fluffy and cute, please God, please… If you're there, please please please please don't tell me I've just imagined what I've just imagined. Please. I'll – I'll – I'll even donate all my comics to charity. Just please. Just please…

I didn't just do that. I didn't just fanta-fucking-size about Mi-chan making love to me.

Right? Right?

But I just freakin' did. Fuck. Fuck.

I-I-I have to get the hell out of here.

Without a second's delay, Fuuko dashed out of her room. All that was left in her wake was a sad sea of broken pencils littering her floor.

---

My dearest fans,

I have the juiciest news, in like, maybe a century! Right. You ready? So it started like this, you know? Ten minutes ago I was like painting my nails in my room when I felt this like urge to walk around the hallway in my lingerie cause, like, I know that some of the boys on our floors really need a pick me up from all that studying, like, for that big exam on chemicals and stuff, right? And I like totally bumped into like, the freak of the CENTURY. No wait, the MiLeNiUM. You know who I'm talking about. Miss-I'm-too-cool-to-shower-with-boys, Miss-I'm-so-cool-cause-I-have-pink-hair. Like ew, gross, get over yourself, there is NOTHING wrong with showering with boys especially if you're in the same shower stall! ANYWAY. Back to the point! Right, so I was like walking down the hallway waiting for my nails to get set, and like all of a sudden, like literally all of a sudden, Kirisawa-freakazoid like jumps out of her door and like crashes into me! Like literally! Crashing into ME. I know, right? So gross. I think I'm going to have to get an emergency detoxification session just to make myself feel right again.

Well anyway, so she like crashed into me, and I was like going to give her the LESSON of her LIFETIME, but like I looked at her and man was she a crazy sight! Her hair was like actually uncombed and like, her face had NOT A SINGLE smudge of make-up on it. Worse, she had this like crazy look in her face. You know! The kind that makes you feel kind of…spooooky. Yeah. I figured she had FINALLY lost it. You know? Like, I was kinda just waiting for her to be like a nut case and like it FINALLY happened. I knew I was psychic. Anyway, I was like So what are you Up to… Fuuko? I was all like being all polite and shit and the little crazy just totally ignored me. She was like mumbling all this crazy things and I was like whoa girl I don't know what you're talking about! You're like a little nuts right now, you know? And like I giggled to show that I was sympathetic and she totally just IGNORED ME. Freak.

Anyway she was like mumbling something about like, the track, and like how she had to get there and like sometimes screaming NO really loudly. Like I said, being a really crazy maniac. The freaks that live at our school are just soooo like everywhere!

Well whatever. That's my gossip for today. I spotted this crazy a WEEK ago! Remember that!

I'll be charging 50 bucks per prophecy,

Lina Bina!

--

Mikagami groaned, turned over, and his mind hovered in the grey area between sleep and waking. He had had a wonderful dream because a note of satisfaction thrummed through his body like an undercurrent of static.

Slowly, as his mind floated towards consciousness, he became aware that it was dark out. He lay without moving, completely awake now, and breathed slowly. As always, snippets of dreams trickled back, slowly flashing and insinuating their way into his mind. Soft flesh. Flicks of fine hair against his face. A female voice. Sex. The scent strong and overwhelming.

He smiled wryly at himself as he surreptitiously checked his underpants. Nope, no mess. It was simply an erotic dream.

He sat up in bed and raised his arms high over his head, stretching them, and let out a long and satisfying yawn.

Well, it would have been satisfying if he hadn't seen what he happened to see mid-yawn. As it were, his gaze fell onto the (unfortunately) familiar-looking model that was now sitting innocently by the corner of his bed on the floor. His breathing stopped and his face was frozen mid-yawn. Forcing his mouth close, his thoughts raced.

What was the model doing here?

It hadn't been there before he fell asleep. Which meant that Fuuko had come into his room and left it there. But why hadn't she woken him? Did something happen during the presentation with the professor? More importantly, what had she heard while he was dreaming?

Mikagami felt embarrassment creep into his cheeks. He knew he occasionally slept-talked, as Domon had informed him during high school with a cheeky smile on his face, but most of the time it (so he had been told) was unintelligible mumbling. He gulped.

Right. Well… nothing happened. Probably. He probably didn't say anything too embarrassing. Yup. He probably didn't say anything at all. Definitely nothing about Fuuko's generous derriere or her quite delicious looking set of breasts—nope, how could he even say that in his sleep! He was sure that in his sleep he was reduced to being the worst sort of caveman—yes, he nodded to himself. The worst thing that could have happened was that he drooled in his sleep and Fuuko took pictures. Ha! As if he could have revealed any of his real thoughts in his sleep! He was better trained than that.

Feeling significantly reassured, Mikagami decided to set off and investigate what exactly happened during the presentation. He scowled. Fuuko had better not screwed up his grade point average or he would be very angry.

--

Mikagami was getting frustrated. He had gone over to Fuuko's room and knocked but no one had come to the door. He knocked and knocked. And then he knocked some more. But still. There was no answer. He heard teeth grinding together. He was getting… angry. Yes. The rising sensation in his chest—that had to be anger. He knocked once more. The next time his fist made contact with the door, he decided, it would be with great force and great violence, and the door would be blasted away into little bits of freakin' woodchips. He raised his hand.

"My, my, aren't we getting a little worked up?"

Mikagami froze. That voice. Unmistakable. His hair stood on end. He stiffly turned to his right, where, as expected, the indomitable Lina stood with a hand on her hip and a pout on her lips.

"Yes." Mikagami replied stiffly, striving to remain polite. If he had to be molested by this insanity that roamed the dorm hallways, in addition to being in the dark about his grades, he would be incredibly incredibly pissed; and someone would be paying. He didn't care who. "I need to ask Fuuko about the chemistry project. We were working on it together."

Lina brought her other hand up to her face and giggled. She peeked over the top of her fingers and blinked in what he assumed must be what she assumed to be a flirtatious manner. "Well…" Lina looked away from him and smiled. She then began toying with her hair. "I might have seen… her…"

That caught Mikagami's attention. He felt his heart sinking. He knew she was going to ask some crazy-ass request in exchange for what she knew. He sighed. "Well. Then could you tell me where she went?"

Lina twirled around and giggled. She ignored his question. "Don't you like my nail polish? It's called 'Sunset Seduction." She whispered the name and looked up at Mikagami from under her fake eyelashes.

"Uh. Oh. Yes. It's very… striking." Mikagami knew he would have to treat himself to something after this torture. And all for Fuuko too. Damned girl.

"I painted it… just for you." Lina fluttered her lashes at the unimpressed Mikagami.

"Oh? That's very nice. About Fuuko…?" Mikagami tried to keep a straight face. Or rather, he tried not to vomit down his shirt. That would be very rude indeed, he thought to himself, but certainly understandable.

Tossing her long hair over her shoulder, Lina leaned forward slightly and pushed her boobs together. "Do you like it? The color, I mean," she giggled stupidly.

"Uh. Yeah…. And Fuuko is…?"

When Lina kept her pose, he sighed, and smiled, deciding to change tactics.

"You know, actually, I don't really care where Fuuko is. I'd rather hang out with you," he flashed Lina his most winning smile (which, on Mikagami, looked unfortunately more like a grimace than a smile) and leaned towards her. "But you know, I really need to talk to Fuuko so that I can finally put my mind at peace, you know? After that, I'm all free all night." Some part of Mikagami died a cruel and unusual death. He swallowed. Surely, he was being punished for something! He promised himself he would wash his mouth out with extra-strong Listerine later.

Lina's eyes widened. "Really?" she squealed.

"Would I ever lie to you?"

A pink blush crept up Lina's cheeks. "Well…" she said, suddenly shy, "she went to the tracks, I think, but you know," she said, rolling her eyes, "I really think she might be insane."

Mikagami smiled his first genuine smile. "I completely agree with you."

--

The night cast a dark blanket on the campus. There was a faint breeze in the air and Mikagami enjoyed the smell of the raw night. It was quiet.

No one wandered this far away from the center of campus at night—and certainly the athletic facilities were not frequented once it became dark out. So Mikagami relished the stillness and the silence broken only by the crickets and the leaves rustling gently.

Normally, he would be walking leisurely, taking in the unique sensations of being out at night and being all alone, but Mikagami was walking at a smartish pace. Something was bothering him. And that something was Fuuko.

Why was she at the tracks? First of all, no normal person would be there at night. But that was a moot point, because, as everyone knew (even the abominable Lina) Fuuko was not a normal person. More importantly, though, Mikagami knew that whenever the indefatigable Fuuko felt unsure, unhappy, or otherwise off, she went running.

What had happened? He was worried. And then, as he caught a glimpse of the moon's round and illuminated face, he realized he was worried about Fuuko, not about his grade, or their stupid presentation, but about Fuuko herself. The girl. The one who smelled of peaches, and had short pink hair, whose smile was the cheekiest, happiest smile he knew.

Something big must have happened. He could count on his fingers the number of times Fuuko had disappeared and was later found to have gone for a "run" (these runs consisted of marathon-like sprints that ended up with Fuuko exhausted, dehydrated, and occasionally, sick like a dog). Once was when Raiha left. The other time was when her mother died.

(There was also the time that Mikagami left without a word, but he didn't know about that.)

So Mikagami felt a surge of relief when he spotted a human-shaped lump at the far corner of the tracks. With a start, he realized the shape was lying on its side.

Was she okay? Mikagami started running, imagining various horrible situations—heart attack, heat-stroke (at night?), malnutrition, death, coma.

"Fuuko!" he called out, "Fuuko! Oi!" But she didn't respond. His heart started pounding. Shit. This stupid girl. Killing herself at night. I'll kill her myself once I get to her. That stupid, idiotic girl. She better be all right once I get to her. Or else…

Mikagami wondered if he was panicking—certainly it felt like panicking—and he picked up the pace. Just don't… die. Stupid girl.

When he finally reached her, panting, sweaty, and unkempt, he let out a laugh of relief. He could hear her breathing; could see the rise and fall of her chest. She was curled on her side, like a baby, and she looked unhappy. She was sound asleep.

He stood over her for a moment. Looking at her face. The way the moonlight lit the fragile planes of her cheekbones. The way her hair fell softly across her eyes. The trembling of her eyelashes. Her mouth soft and vulnerable.

He had never seen her like this before. He felt something inside him shift, change, fall over, fall apart; felt a lump rising in his throat felt it push up, felt some strange horrid and large black emotion rise up, shaking him, shaking his bones, shaking his chest, until he thought he might cry.

He wanted to touch her, to stroke her cheek. She looked so fragile. Like a girl. Like a baby. He swallowed. Shook his head. This was no time to be losing his mind, he reminded himself. But as he looked at her sleeping form at his feet, he wondered what was happening to him, to her, to them.

"Hey, Fuuko," he whispered, nudging her back with the tip of his shoe. "Wake up."

The breeze began to pick up. That was when he realized he had been standing there staring at her for somewhere between ten and fifteen minutes. He began to notice that Fuuko was curling tighter and tighter into a ball—she was cold.

He reached out his hand (trembling slightly) and placed a finger on her bare shoulder (the stupid girl had dressed in a tank top and running shorts). He felt her clammy skin, still slightly damp from her sweaty run. If she stayed out here in the cold any longer, she was bound to fall ill. He sighed, and twisted his lips unhappily. He supposed there was no other alternative.

He eased her arm around his shoulders, then scooped her up, her knees dangling over his other arm. Fuuko stirred, but didn't wake, mumbling incoherently. She turned towards his chest, pressing her face into the warmth, and Mikagami stared down at her, suddenly feeling helpless and frozen. He could smell her sweat, the salt, and underneath it, the lingering smell of fruit that seemed to ooze out of her pores.

He pursed his lips. It was time to go home. There wasn't any time for stupid things like appreciating Fuuko's unique scent up close. He ignored the way she moved softly in her arms (she reminded him of a cat), and he made his way slowly back to the dorms.


Author's note: Thank you ALL so very much for your reviews. I love getting them, I really really do. Every review I got was a little reminder that I still had to work on this chapter--so even though it took me a long time, all your reviews contributed to this coming out today! Thank you, again.

Lot's of love,

xabie