Summary:

Kuga Natsuki thought this is what she really wanted. She had told Fujino Shizuru about her feelings but never about how Shizuru's love for her scared her beyond anything she could ever know. But Natsuki will soon find out that there are worst things in life than Shizuru's love... And that's loosing her love.

Disclaimer:

I do not own Mai Hime or the characters. They are owned by Sunrise and various Companies, Productions and Corporations. I am only a fan who is writing for leisure. So please get your lawyers out of my house before I sic my dogs at them.. I am simply an insomniac anime amateur writer who can't find any decent sleep.

This story is slightly AU and may contain some OOC. This is my first time writing a Mai Hime fic so please be kind.

This story is beta-ed by zelene2004. Thank you very much once again. It is because of this wonderful person that you readers aren't suffering from headaches caused by my unrefined writing. Lol

I've only seen the Anime Subbed Mai HiME so my knowledge of Mai HiME is limited so please be kind with the criticisms.

Italics means thoughts


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"Why Natsuki?" Reito asked her when the silence seemed to have become unbearable. The question caught her completely off guard and made the silence in the carriage thicker and heavier than before.

"Why Mai?" Shizuru couldn't help but ask defensively at the manner of his questioning, effectively evading his question as the ride continued its slow cycle.

Reito remained quiet for some time. Not long ago, he had to admit he had felt the same attraction towards the woman before him. Who wouldn't?

She was perfect in every way, a woman who was perfectly suited for him. But it wasn't only because of her perfect image that drew him to her like a moth to a flame, it was because of the challenge she presented. Back in their early years, he could have any woman he wanted, and he still could. He was constantly surrounded by women who vied for his attentions yet Fujino Shizuru remained aloof. She had caught his interest, and for a short time, he pursued her.

As he spent a great deal of time trying to get to know her to win her affections, it was then that his affections grew. Fujino Shizuru wasn't like any other woman he had ever met, she was interesting and mysterious all at the same time. He had also found out that he had liked her aloof personality and that they shared a couple of interests. She had a great mind that was well hidden underneath such mesmerizing ruby eyes. She was beautiful, mysterious and alluring, and Reito found himself spellbound.

For a short moment in time, he had managed to succeed. He and Shizuru dated secretly, though it was quite short, and it was bittersweet in its brevity. He felt alive when he was with her and had never once regretted being with her, and while he would never admit out loud that he missed her, her friendship and companionship was enough for him.

For a moment, Reito didn't speak as memories began to flash through his mind's eye. For a moment, Shizuru had thought Reito had dropped the subject until she heard him speak.

"She's not like you," Reito answered vaguely which was indeed the truth. Fujino Shizuru wasn't like Tokiha Mai. Mai was bubbly, vibrant and had her heart on her sleeve, willing to take risks and make mistakes while Shizuru kept her perfect image and her feelings well hidden and locked. Even when they had been together, Reito could barely melt the ice surrounding Shizuru's heart.

Shizuru closed her eyes, uncomfortable looking through Reito's dark ones. There were just too many emotions in those dark eyes of his. Too many emotions that still affected her till this very day.

Shizuru found herself remembering their early years. Images of their short time together briefly flashed through her mind, and while they were pleasant memories, she could feel her heart constrict and her stomach churn from the amount of emotions that were running through her.

Back then she did care for Reito, but it wasn't enough. She didn't have the same passion for Reito that she had found in Kuga Natsuki. Natsuki made her feel alive while Reito made her feel caged. Reito made her feel that she had to keep up her perfect image and lies she had created or risk being rejected by him, and in turn be a disappointment to her parents.

Shizuru closed her eyes as she remembered the unpleasant feeling of being trapped in her own web of lies. Her parents had found out of their brief relationship and had encouraged her to be with him. They had shown great favour on him, and it made her stomach churn. Every time they were together she felt a great amount of guilt, especially when she saw how much he was slowly falling for the lie that she had presented. She knew Reito only wanted her for her body back then, wanted the trophy girlfriend to show off his friends and to be honest, she wanted Reito for the exact same reasons too at the time.

Reito was the perfect guy she can show off to her parents, to be praised for another achievement of garnering such attentions from a fine young man like Kanzaki Reito. But as time grew by, so did their fake relationship. It started building its foundations until finally, trust was established. She found that Reito was a great companion and friend. That was why it was so hard to let him know that that was exactly what they should remain. She saw a lot of herself in Reito, and she knew deep down in her heart that she and Reito would never be.

Shizuru smiled bitterly at his reply. Mai was indeed not her for the very same reason Natsuki wasn't him. Not just in the way of physicality but on a deep emotional level. They didn't share that special bond, the same passion and all consuming feelings she felt when she was with Natsuki, and she doubts she ever will.

"And she's not you," Shizuru answered in full honesty which made him sigh despondently.

He gave her an awkward grin, "We could have been so good together you and I," he sighed dejectedly as he ran his fingers roughly through his thick dark hair. "We are so alike."

"And that's why we cannot be together," she finished softly. "You don't really care for me," she continued but had to stop when she saw a brief flash of pain in his eyes at her poorly chosen words.

"Not in that way," she tried to apologize for her careless words. "You may care for me as a friend, but I cannot offer you anything more, or I would risk putting our friendship on the line. I have such few friends that I cannot loose you as one," she answered him as she had let her emotions free to convey her honesty. He deserved the truth at the very least.

Seeing the bitterness and hurt in Shizuru's eyes, Reito felt himself moved by her words. He really does care for her, but if she didn't feel the same way then there was no point in trying to pursue her any further. He had pursued her before, and he tried his best to try and gain her affections, but it was in vain. All he can offer her now was his friendship, and for him it would be good enough.

He reached out to comfort her, capturing her cold hands within his warm ones as she lifted her chin to meet his dark eyes. Their eyes communicated what their words couldn't say, and a silent agreement and understanding formed between them.

Reito brushed off one of the tears that managed to escape her eyes with his thumb, but his hand remained upon her face. The temptation to kiss her was far too great, but he controlled his urge. His thumb remained upon her smooth skin, caressing her cheek intimately. He could not be with her the way he wanted to, but at least he could stand beside her. So instead, he lifted her hands against his lips and planted a soft kiss upon her knuckles. It was probably the last intimate kiss he would be able to give her.

For Shizuru, the tension inside the carriage was far too great for her to handle. She knew she had hurt him and in doing so, she had also hurt herself. Reito had become one of her closest friend since she had set foot in Fuuka, but she was glad that he understood her wishes. She had seen the spark of desire in his eyes, and for a moment she was afraid that he would kiss her just like before when they were together.

She was surprised however when she felt his trembling lips brush across her knuckles. In a way, he was giving up his claim of her. She could only give him a small smile as her left hand touched his cheek, in which he leaned into to prolong her touch. It was a bittersweet moment for them that was to be broken when the carriage door was rudely and violently opened by their companions.

Apparently, while they were so caught up with their past memories and gravity of their emotions the ride had ended. It appeared that her lovely companions had seen everything and as soon as the ride ended, both Nao and Natsuki scrambled off their carriage to pry their two upperclassman/woman apart.

"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU TWO ARE DOING?!" Natsuki furiously demanded, glaring daggers at Reito and his hand that still held Shizuru's.

Nao, on the other hand, was seething. Her eyes zeroed on Shizuru's hand still on Reito's face while the other hand was still held by his. She glowered at the two.

Their violent outburst, however, was pushed aside when Mikoto came bursting forth, shoving her two companions aside and glomped on to her brother.

"Did you see how high up we were aniue?" Mikoto asked obliviously, too excited to care about the scene she had broken. "The people looked like ants!"

"Hai, Mikoto-chan," Reito replied back as he finally released his hold upon Shizuru's hands and patted his sister's head as though everything was fine and normal in the world, as though the heavy tension and melancholy scene a few moments ago never happened.

Reito couldn't help but inwardly smirk. Is this how Shizuru always felt whenever they were together back then? The feeling of heavy tension that seems to crush your very being? If so, he felt humbled that at least Shizuru had been kind to him and spared his feelings.

"Hey! Don't ignore us!" Nao cried out, not pleased at being ignored.

"You still haven't answered my question!" Natsuki pointed out.

"There was something on Reito-san's cheek, I was simply wiping it away," Shizuru shrugged as she once again retained her composure when in truth, her heart wouldn't stop pounding within her ribcage as though it was going to burst out because of the pressure it exerted itself with.

Seeing that her two beautiful companions will not let the scene go, she decided to distract them instead. "Ara? Are my two green-eyed beauties jealous of Reito-kun?"

"'Kun'? Since when had he become 'Kun'?!"

"I am NOT jealous!"

"Aniue, why are Nao and Natsuki turning red?"

"Ara? You both look so adorable!" Shizuru broadly smiled in amusement as she clapped her hands together in delight.

"NOT JEALOUS!"

Reito remained impassive about the whole scene and simply watched with veiled eyes of how lovely and happy Shizuru truly looked being surrounded by the people she cared about. It brought tremendous delight to his heart to see her smile openly with them, and he was glad that he could witness her being so happy and carefree even if he was now and always would be a friend to her.


Nao couldn't help but grumble as their group headed towards their next destination. From time to time, she kept glaring at the handsome man that stood beside Mikoto, glad that there was now a considerable distance between Reito and Shizuru since she and Kuga now stood beside her, Natsuki to her left and herself to the right, effectively creating distance between them.

She still couldn't help but feel irritable that she had overlooked Kanzaki Reito's presence. She was still curious as to what really went on in the Ferris Wheel ride, but she wasn't about to give up her claim on the Kyoto woman. Kanzaki's little stunt only made her realize that she can also have the same opportunity to get Shizuru for herself without the unwanted company with just a little manipulation. Thus, she began planning on how to ditch the rest of the group.

Natsuki, on the other hand, was still bothered by what happened earlier but couldn't voice her concern to her chestnut-haired friend without making herself look like a fool. The added company also didn't help the matter. So now, she found herself walking beside Shizuru brooding over the matter. Thoughts about the rumors between Shizuru and Reito kept flashing through her mind, and even though she had witnessed the intimate scene between them with her own eyes, she still couldn't believe that there could be something more between them. She just couldn't bring herself to believe them.

Before the group knew it, they were standing before a short line towards a building structure. The bold cursive writing was certainly inviting as well as the added design images of mirrors.

"Welcome!" The barker greeted them, "to the House of Mirrors!"

Nao simply smiled a Cheshire grin as she looked at the building. She had just figured out how to get Shizuru to herself. After all, deception had always been one of her many fortés.


The group entered the dark and shadowy entrance of the building. Shizuru slightly shivered from the atmosphere while Nao subtly moved closer to her side while she continued to chat with Mikoto.

As they proceeded onwards, they were greeted by various mirrors ranging in size and shape, altering their reflections quite comically. Mikoto didn't waste anytime as she began making comical gestures and faces at each individual mirror. She even managed to get her brother and Natsuki to join her thoroughly amused by hers and the others' reflections.

Nao, on the other hand, made it a point to stay close to Shizuru, so close in fact that their clothes kept brushing against each other as they continued to inspect the mirrors with curious delight. Unbeknownst to the others, Nao had been to a similar attraction before from her previous activities (conning unexpected guys on dates) so she knew that the mirrors provided illusions that made the guests unaware that they were stepping through a maze. If you didn't stay close to your companions, you can easily loose them, that's why she kept close to Shizuru.

As Nao predicted, it didn't take long for them to get separated. Nao and Shizuru soon found themselves surrounded by their companions' reflection on each mirror that surrounded them, a scene that made Nao smirk. This is usually when the entertainment starts since the reflections began to play with the people's minds.

Shizuru was in utter turmoil despite the fact that she had been having fun minutes before. She closed her eyes and began to take a deep breath, trying to keep herself calm and appear unreadable to her red-headed companion, trying to push away her feelings of pain and heartache.

She was surrounded by Natsuki's lovely image. One would think that being surrounded by such an image wouldn't be such a bad thing, but what made her heart pound painfully was the look of distraught in Natsuki's face as she began looking around for her companions. She wanted to call out to her and engulf her in her arms to comfort her when she felt Nao's hand upon her forearm.

"It wouldn't do to try and call out to them, your voice will only cause an echo which will confuse them even more," Nao advised her already knowing what Shizuru was about to do.


Natsuki, however, wanted to scream in fury and frustration. For some reason, she and the others had become separated when she had let Mikoto talked her into playing around with the mirrors. She was too engrossed by their comical reflection that she had never noticed Nao led Shizuru ahead of them.

Now, she found herself surrounded by mirrors but that didn't bother her. What bothered her the most was the fact that the images in the mirror displayed Nao with Shizuru by themselves. It was as though the reflections mocked her by showing her one of her inner worst fears.


"I believe we have lost the others," Shizuru told her redheaded companion while trying to fight the urge to rush and find Natsuki and comfort her; instead, she paused from their stride making Nao pause as well.

Nao replied nonchalantly, "I wouldn't worry too much about it, we can just try and find our way out and meet them outside. I'm sure they'll be fine."

"But…" Shizuru's protest died in her throat as she felt Nao reach for her hand and led her deeper through the hall.

"The faster we find a way out of here, the faster they'll catch up to us. Besides that's the point of this attraction anyway, the more we linger here, the more the images will play tricks on your mind," Nao explained as she held onto Shizuru's hand securely but not too tightly. She couldn't help but smile at the softness of her hand against her own, and it somehow felt right that she was with her. The fact that Shizuru didn't refuse her or retract her hand also made her feelings soar.

Shizuru found truth in Nao's words. She couldn't take anymore of the mocking images of her beautiful Natsuki that surrounds them. It made it harder for her to breathe, and it made her heart constrict painfully. She couldn't bare and look at the images any longer. So without further more delay, she obediently followed Nao. She felt a small smile grace her lips when she felt Nao reassuringly squeezed her hand as though trying to calm her down without further words exchanged between them.


The images of Nao and Shizuru walking away together hand in hand, made Natsuki's heart stop as she felt her eyes sting painfully.

It can't be, the mirrors are lying, she thought to herself, yet the images continued to haunt her until she was surrounded by nothing, darkness now reflected the mirrors.

Natsuki fell on her knees as a tumult of emotions began to assail her. The possibility in those images brought tremendous pain to her. Soon all she could hear was the faint echo of someone's approach and a reassuring hand upon her shoulder. She looked up at the person who dared disturb her anguish only to be surprised to be greeted by Kanzaki Reito's concerned face. Right next to him was his sister Mikoto who was looking at her in curiosity and concern.

"What's wrong Natsuki?" Mikoto asked her friend who looked like she was on the verge of tears when a moment ago they were laughing freely at her their pot-bellied, short reflections as well as the other mirrors that displayed their images comically.

Natsuki looked at her younger friend's eyes and saw genuine concern within them. It made even harder for her to explain the pain that she experiencing. Mikoto was too young and too innocent to understand the concept and depth of her feelings. The fact that Reito was there to witness her vulnerable form only made her lock up her insecurities even more.

She didn't want him to see how vulnerable she was, and yet she couldn't make herself utter a single word. Her mouth refused to work, and any excuses she wanted to make refused to escape her lips. It hurt too much to speak as the images still continued to haunt and mock her.

The look in her green eyes however was enough for Reito. "Natsuki's just probably tired Mikoto. I'm sure she is fine and is merely catching her breath," he provided the excuse for her.

Natsuki wondered why Reito would help her when she had always shown apathy and slight hostility towards him.

Mikoto on the other hand wasn't easily convinced and asked Natsuki for reassurance, "Are you really tired, Natsuki?"

Seeing as her friend continued to worry about her emotionally state, she decided to accept Reito's explanation.

"Yeah, Mikoto, I'll be fine, just catching my breath, that's all. There's no need to worry," she reassured the brunette as she pushed herself to get up and put on a happy face.

"Are you sure?"

"I'm fine Mikoto, why don't we go on ahead and get out of here? It's getting quite a bit chilly in here," she forced herself to smile reassuringly to her younger friend as she began to slowly walk ahead, waiting for the siblings to follow.

Once Reito had caught up beside Natsuki, she couldn't help but whisper her gratitude to the handsome man.

"Thank you," she whispered so softly that it almost didn't make it to Reito's ears.

Reito smiled gently, "You are welcome."


"What slowpokes!" Nao couldn't help but quip to lighten up Shizuru's mood as they waited for their companions to catch up to them at the exit. "I bet Natsuki's fascinated on what she would look like if she didn't lay off the mayo," Nao couldn't help but pick on the other girl as she chuckled on her own joke.

The little joke seemed to relax Shizuru slightly as she too began to chuckle at the image of a potbellied Natsuki earlier and how red and flustered the biker girl got from the embarrassment.

Nao couldn't help but smile inwardly at being able to make Shizuru laugh, not many people can make the other girl relax. Now that they were alone, she intended to take full advantage of it.

She subtly began to scan her surroundings. Finally, her gaze landed on a specific ride that made her eyes gleam brighter and suppressed the urge to fluster. Would she dare take such a blatant step?

Shizuru, on the other hand, had started reigning control of her feelings and was starting to recover. She pushed all her negative thoughts and feelings at the back of her mind as she tried to distract herself from her melancholy. Now that she was no longer being tortured by the mirrors, she was slowly getting herself back together.

"I bet you they got lost," Nao's voice filtered through her thoughts. She could tell the redhead was getting bored waiting for their other companions to catch up.

As much as she wanted to make sure that Natsuki was alright, she began to start feeling a little silly for overreacting earlier. She needed to be strong for Natsuki. She needed to stop trying to suffocate the girl with her affections and rushing by the biker's side every time she looked distressed. She needed to control herself and waiting outside for her with a lovelorn expression would not help matters between them. So, she decided to distract herself from such feelings by trying to have fun like before.

Shizuru knew her companion was getting restless, and decided to follow her gaze only for it to land on an unusual ride.

"Ara? Does Nao-san feel nostalgic?" she couldn't help but tease her as she gazed at the swan shaped boats.

"Don't be stupid, Shizuru!" Nao grumbled as she tried to suppress the urge to blush. "For your information, I have never ridden those stupid things!"

"But you want to, is that right?" Shizuru pressed on as she couldn't help but tease the redhead even further. "Or are you trying to be Miss Too Cool to ride a romantic swan boat?"

"I can so ride the boat if it didn't look so lame!" Nao retorted back trying to maintain her dignity, but in the back of her mind she was smiling. Things were going smoothly and if she continued to protest, she wouldn't even have to be the one to ask Shizuru to accompany her on the ride.

"Really?" Shizuru raised one eyebrow clearly doubting the redhead. "Let's go then!" she then began to head towards the Boat Ride.

"I'll show you," Nao grumbled but inwardly she was pleased, everything was falling into plan.


A couple of minutes later, Mikoto, Natsuki and Reito finally emerged from the House of Mirrors and were now looking for Shizuru and Nao.

"Maybe they're still inside?" Mikoto suggested.

"If they were, we would have either bumped into them or seen their images reflected in the mirror. No, Mikoto. They've definitely managed to get out." Reito answered his sister. He didn't add the fact that he knew they had managed to find the exit sooner since he saw a glimpse of the two of them walking away together reflected through the mirrors before they found a very distressed Natsuki.

Natsuki meticulously studied her surroundings wondering where the other two girls could be when Mikoto's questioning voice caught her attention.

"Isn't that them?" Mikoto couldn't help but grin at being able to spot their friends about to enter another ride. "That's not fair! They're going without us!"

But Natsuki wasn't concerned about fairness especially when she realized what kind of ride Nao and Shizuru were about to get on.

"Come on and let's join them, Mikoto," Natsuki said with gritted teeth as the other girl and a confused looking Reito followed her as she stomped towards where Nao and Shizuru were.


After a brief wait, it was finally Nao and Shizuru's turn, as the barker guided and assisted them to the swan boat.

"And not a moment too soon," Nao couldn't help but thought as she caught glimpse of her rival as well as their other companions.

Nao smirked at the sight of her rival's arrival as the other people waiting in line impeded her destination. She could see many of them protesting at her for trying to push in to catch up to them.

"Ara, it seems Nao-san is already enjoying the ride and we haven't even gotten far yet," Shizuru's amused tone caught her attention, immediately switching Nao's gaze towards her companion.

Nao grinned brightly as she spoke, "You bet I am."


"Damn it!" Natsuki couldn't help but swear as she glared at Nao and Shizuru's slowly departing form.

"There are only three couples ahead of us Kuga-san, I'm sure we will be able to catch up to them." Reito tried to reassure the biker girl.

Natsuki had no choice but seethed wondering what the redhead was up to.


"Shizuru," Nao started a bit awkwardly, wanting to get the other girl's attention away from their surroundings just incase she realizes that their other companions were at the starting bank.

"Yes, Nao-san?" Shizuru looked at her companion curiously, wondering what was on her mind.

"What would you say I am to you?" Nao boldly asked since she wasn't really fond of beating around the bush to get her message across. She wanted to know how the other girl felt about her first before maybe trying to confess to her about how she felt.

Shizuru was caught off guard by such a question, and felt her stomach churn unpleasantly. "What do you mean, Nao-san?"

Nao sighed. "What am I to you, Shizuru? Am I just a charity case to you, or something you feel that you must make up to because of what happened at the HiME carnival?" she asked rather nervously as she looked away. She was trying to prepare herself to whatever unpleasant answer the other woman in front of her may reply.

Shizuru, on the other hand, frowned. What could possibly bring Nao to ask such a question? She asked herself, but as the silence lingered between them, so did Nao's question resonate through her mind. What was Nao to her?

She looked at the other girl, as though she was looking at her for the very first time. Nao appeared to be tough, invincible and rough on the exterior, but she knew beneath all of her aloof persona, lay a vulnerable little girl who had lost her way. While it was true that it took some time to finally get Nao to trust her and get to know her, she also found that she had somehow grown fond of the girl. If it wasn't for Nao's presence, she wouldn't have been able to face another day without Natsuki by her side.

Shizuru closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, trying to choose her words carefully as she reached out to the other girl and laid her hand on top of hers. Perhaps Nao was insecure about their fast paced friendship since she only seen Nao in either Minagi Mikoto or Senou Aoi's company.

"Don't ever think that, Nao-san. You are not a charity case. You never were and never have been. You had faced the cruel world alone and had become stronger because of it. Never feel that I spend time with you because of guilt because while it first started as so, you have grown dear and close to me," as she squeezed the other girl's hand in reassurance.

"Shizuru," was all Nao could say, mesmerized by Shizuru's beautiful and heartfelt answer, "I…" was all she could say before their boat suddenly shook from sudden impact.


"Damn you," Nao growled under her breath as she glared at the biker. She had just ruined a perfect opportunity for her.

"We caught you!" Mikoto squealed in delight with Natsuki behind her with a pair of oars, a little out of breath but otherwise looking relieved. Nao was sure that Natsuki paddled with all her might to catch up to their boat.

"It seems you have," Shizuru replied back at the overzealous brunette. She was glad to be reunited with their companions but wondered curiously where their male companion was. "Where is Reito-kun?"

"Aniue stayed behind. Yup! A lot of girls wanted to ride with him on the boat since he didn't have a partner!" Mikoto answered for her as she pointed at her brother back at the loading dock and waving at him.

Shizuru merely smiled at the thought of Reito being mauled by his fan club and shook her head in amusement.

Natsuki, in the meanwhile, steered their swan boat along side Shizuru's so that both boats are now drifting beside each other. Natsuki smirked when she saw her rival almost growled at her. She knew Nao wouldn't be able to ditch them again without looking like she was doing it deliberately.

Mikoto didn't waste anytime relaying what had happened to them in the hall of mirrors only halting when Natsuki had covered her mouth with her hand when she was about to tell them how she and her brother found Natsuki.

"Ara?" Shizuru asked in wonder at Natsuki's reaction.

"What's wrong, Kuga?" Nao smirked rather evilly, it seemed her rival didn't want their hyperactive friend to say something about her, "Let Mikoto speak."

Natsuki looked stricken. She didn't want Shizuru to know about her meltdown

Mikoto, quickly catching on that Natsuki probably didn't want their other friends to worry about her decided to let the topic go and change the subject. "I'm hungry! Let's all go back and eat!"

"Ara, but we ate not too long ago," Shizuru airily stated. "Also there's no rush to get back since the ride is about to end soon."

True to Shizuru's words, the ride was coming to an end; it was just that the girls were too preoccupied with their own thoughts to even pay attention to their surroundings.

Natsuki was relieved that she was now beside Shizuru, though she still felt uneasy because not too far from them was the notorious redhead keeping a close eye on them.


Shizuru couldn't help but giggle when Reito had joined their little group. He looked haggard and strained. She would have felt sorry for him if she didn't remember what he had done to her the other day by leaving her to fend herself against her own fanclub, but it seems her amusement didn't last for long.

As soon as Reito's fanclub spotted her, they couldn't help but squeal in girlish delight which of course annoyed both Natsuki and Nao because of the irritating noise the fanclub had created. It seems the girls' gushing over Reito was none other than the members of the notorious KFC (Kanzaki/Fujino Club).

"Kaichou-sama!" the girls gushed as they witnessed Reito approached her side, totally ignoring Nao, Natsuki and Mikoto's presence.

"Hello everyone, how are you all?" Shizuru greeted them with a polite smile as expected of her. Of course her greeting was greeted with massive swooning as well as more fan club fussing along with a little squealing.

"Good! Very good kaichou-sama!," were some of the various responses Shizuru had received excitedly from them as they eyed her and Reito.

"Thank you lovely ladies for keeping me company, but I think Shizuru and I should really start heading off," he then placed a hand behind Shizuru's lower back while giving Shizuru a subtle pleading look.

Shizuru was inclined to disagree, but she knew that if she disagreed with Reito, they would be hounded by the fan girls throughout the duration of their outing, so with little choice she complied.

She gave bid them farewell as she allowed Reito to lead her away from the fan girls whom squealed with delight as they watched their respective idols walk off oblivious to their other three companions, two of which were grumbling to themselves, who followed after them, well two of them anyway. Mikoto was just too energetic to let anything get her down.


"You have got to be kidding me," Nao said herself out loud as she stood in front of their next, would be entertainment.

Mikoto stared at the building structure wide-eyed as she had never actually stood still before when she first entered something similar in their culture fest at school. She was more concerned in trying to find some relief from the spicy ramen she had consumed with Chie, she did however remember seeing Haruka and Yukino briefly and they were dressed up rather comically, perhaps they would also be in the building too.

Already, Mikoto felt giddy at the prospect at entering the building and looked around her companions eagerly gauging their moods if they too feel as excited as she does.

Reito couldn't help but smile amusedly at his younger sister's delightful expression. He knew she couldn't wait until they got in. He was also a bit curious at what his younger sister's reaction would be to the supposed to be "residents" of the building. He then couldn't help but grin as he took a sweeping glance at the rest of their entourage, "Make that their reactions" he mentally corrected himself.

"Shall we?" Shizuru asked nonchalantly when she really did feel excited, her heart was pumping with anticipation wondering if there's any difference with the one Haruka had organized for the festival and an actual professional one.

Natsuki, on the other hand, merely raised a dubious eyebrow. She just shrugged her shoulders and followed the rest of her friends enter the building, above the door read a familiar slogan as eerie noises soon filtered out the open door. "Welcome to the House of Horrors".

Some time later...

Shizuru's group left the building with mixed emotions, with Nao and Natsuki having a telltale pink hue on their cheeks. Reito, on the other hand, was seen apologizing to a few men while handing them a few yen notes, and Mikoto was as hyperactive as ever.

As it turned out, Nao and Natsuki had been boasting to each other at how lame the attraction was when they had entered the building when out of the blue, a guy wearing a hockey mask jumped in front of them. Due to shock and surprise, the two girls screamed.

Acting on instinct, Natsuki punched the guy breaking his mask and coincidentally making the guy's nose bleed. Immediately Natsuki felt embarrassed to be caught by surprise and slightly guilty for punching the guy only to hear Nao's sniggering. This only resulted for them to continue bickering.

Shizuru couldn't help but be amused by the shrill screams both green-eyed beauties emitted when they had been caught by surprise. Their various violent reactions towards the people in costume as well as well placed props that popped out of nowhere greatly amused her. Her amusement however turned to pity when she realized how much the girls' reactions have caused a decent amount of damage to the workers as well as equipment.

She couldn't help hiding her grin, when during the most inopportune times, the two green-eyed girls jumped and clung to her arms (and cut off some circulation), but nonetheless amused by their reactions.

Mikoto didn't waste anytime giving her own set of retribution to the props as well as its costumed workers, and unlike Nao or Natsuki, she was not caught by surprise. Years of training in the mountains made her the ultimate warrior, thus she was prepared for all the establishment's so called "surprise attacks" which left Reito to foot the bill of the damages his companions has caused, he was a gentleman after all.


The group explored the amusement park, from roller coasters, pirate ships, game booths to food stalls and shows. They had practically done and tried everything. It wasn't long before dusk had finally came, leaving the group to watch the last event before finally calling it a day.

The group was settled in a small grassy area provided for the patrons of the park to watch the fireworks display. Natsuki and Nao still stayed close to Shizuru's side while Mikoto and Reito sat before them.

When the lights has been turned off, the park's sound system resonated through the open area exciting Mikoto as well as the other patrons surrounding them.

"IT'S STARTING!" Mikoto announced in glee as indeed the dark sky soon erupted with assortment of different colours and lights.

Around them, Natsuki could see families, friends and lovers all marveling at the beautiful display, but they all slowly drifted away from her conscious as she became aware of warm weight at her side.

When the fireworks began, Shizuru couldn't help but hold her breath as she watched in awe like the rest of the people. She quickly gazed at Nao when she felt the redhead's hand reach for hers.

Nao gently squeezed her hand and gave her a warm smile, which Shizuru happily returned. Nao continued to watch the display, unable to wipe the smile off of her lips still holding Shizuru's hand.

The sight the fireworks provided seemed to have cast a spell over her as she relaxed and leaned towards Natsuki unaware of her actions.

Natsuki didn't care much either way as she enjoyed the fireworks display as she too leaned against Shizuru. Breathing out a sigh of contentment as she enjoyed Shizuru's familiar presence that seemed to engulf her whole being. She wanted to close her eyes and enjoy the feeling of Shizuru being close to her, wishing that the feeling will never end or that the night itself wouldn't end but she knew she couldn't. Deep inside she also didn't want to close her eyes because in the back of her mind she still couldn't believe that she was enjoying such magnificent display with Shizuru. It would have been better if she Shizuru in her arms but she didn't want to rush things yet in fear of pushing Shizuru away.

Natsuki decided not to rush things with Shizuru. One careless word or action could send Shizuru away from her and she couldn't bear it if she lost Shizuru again, so even though it pained her that she couldn't hold Shizuru the way she wanted to, she reasoned to herself that at the very least Shizuru still cared for her and she will work hard in getting Shizuru back. At the moment she was just content to be by the woman she loved by her side.

Reito looked back behind him to see if Nao, Shizuru and Natsuki were enjoying the display much like he and his sister was and was surprised at what he saw.

He looked up back towards the brilliantly colored night sky and shook his head in wry amusement. He doubted that his three lady companions even realized how beautiful yet intriguing they are. The emotions they felt were on display for the world to see, and what amused him more was the fact that he doubted they even knew themselves how easy it was to read them or how just by looking at them, that Shizuru was already deeply entangled in both the two younger women's lives.

And even though the image of the three women together was breathtakingly beautiful, it also brought great trepidation and troubled his mind. For he could already tell that with their great bond, also comes great heartbreak… one that he wishes will never have to happen..


xxxxxxx


Author's Notes:

I hope you like this latest update. I know it's quite a read but I hope you enjoyed it.

It seems each chapter is getting longer as I progress more into the story, I'll try and not to over describe each scene anymore since I'm trying to read this story as clear as possible for others to see it from my point of view but its so damn hard!!

Sighs...

Well that is all right now. Again, I would like to thank zelene2004 for editing my work. Thank you very much.

I would also like to thank the readers that continue to support and review my stories. It is because of you that I am still writing and updating.

So please leave me a review. Your reviews to me are like tea to Shizuru-sama, or Mayo to Natsuki and even cellphones to Nao!

Ja Ne