Disclaimer and Notes: I don't own Ai Yori Aoshi. I'm just playing with the characters and I'll put them all back where I found them when I'm done.
I noticed that we didn't have many Ai Yori Aoshi stories to read, so I thought I'd take shot. We'll see how I do. If it works out okay, I may write more, but I want to limit myself with the amount of writing I start to do with a new job waiting for me.
I've only watched the anime and glanced briefly through the manga, so some of this is my own idea and some of it comes from what I've read.
Enjoy!Chapter 1 – Camping
The July morning sunlight crept over the Sakuraba estate and through Tina Foster's window. She stirred slightly before bolting awake with a squeak. Looking at the clock, she breathed a sigh of relief as the clock read clearly seven o'clock.
"Thought I was late." Tina sighed and stretched lazily. Then Tina smiled as she remembered where she was. Six months had passed since she'd returned home from America to Japan and the family she'd found there. She'd graduated from college and had taken a job at the zoo. She'd also taken a part-time position with a local magazine, taking photos of animals and landscapes. She did very well taking pictures and was almost willing to take the full-time position offered her to travel and taking photos all over the world.
"Tina-sempai!" Taeko's voice came through the door. The college senior still worked as the estate's housekeeper.
"I'm up, Tae-chin." Tina called back.
"Oh, I'm sorry." Taeko called back. "Breakfast will be ready soon. We have to get an early start if we want to get out to the camp."
"Oh that's right!" Tina shouted, flinging open the door. "I almost forgot we were going camping this weekend!"
"Aoi-san has breakfast all prepared." Taeko said. "I have to go wake Chika-chan and Hanabishi-sempai."
"I'm sure Kaoru is already awake." Tina said as she watched Taeko walk down the hall. She closed the door and dressed in her clothes for camping. She checked her backpack for the trip and her mind was filled with memories from the previous winter. She still recalled the feeling of his lips when she kissed him. She also remembered the feeling of her heart freezing in her chest as she heard Kaoru sleepily whisper the name of Ooya-san.
"Guess I did miss my chance after all." Tina sighed. But oddly enough, she didn't feel any anger or bitterness toward Kaoru or Aoi-san.
"Ooya-san really is kind and sweet." Tina thought as she heaved the backpack over one shoulder. "If she makes Kaoru so happy, I don't want to stand in the way."
"All right!" Tina crowed cheerfully. "Time for camping!"
She hurried into the dining room to see Taeko, Aoi and Chika all helping to set the table for breakfast.
"Good morning, Tina-neechan!" Chika said smiling. Tina smiled back and waved at the girl.
"Good morning, Tina-san." Aoi said and smiled that sweet smile of hers. Tina smiled back and walked over to the woman.
"Can I help with anything, Ooya-san?" Tina asked.
"I think we've got everything under control here, Tina-san." Aoi said. "But thank you very much for asking."
"Tina-neechan!" Chika called. "Can you help me? I can't get the napkins folded right."
"Sure, Chika." Tina said and walked over to the younger girl, but not before glancing back at Aoi and giving her a knowing wink.
"Maybe you should go check on Kaoru, Ooya-san." Tina said. Aoi's eyes went wide in surprise. Tina turned back to help Chika and said no more.
Kaoru Hanabishi closed the last clasp on his backpack after making sure he had everything he needed.
"It's been so long since I went camping." he thought. "I hope I haven't forgotten something."
"Kaoru-sama?" Aoi poked her head in the room and Kaoru turned to smile at her.
"Good morning, Aoi-chan." Kaoru said.
"Good morning to you too." Aoi said. "Can I help you with anything?"
"I don't know." Kaoru said. "I was just wondering if I had everything. Can you help me with the checklist I made?"
"Sure." Aoi said and read off the list while Karou confirmed each item to be in his bag.
"That's it then." Kaoru said. "I wish you could come with us, Aoi-chan."
"I would love to, Kaoru-sama, but I'm afraid I would be completely lost." Aoi said with a smile. "I'm afraid I am not much of an outdoors person."
Kaoru took her hand in his and stroked a finger over her cheek.
"That's too bad." Kaoru said softly. "I would have loved cuddling up with you around a campfire."
Aoi blushed three shades of pink and Kaoru started to laugh.
"Oh, Kaoru-sama, you're embarrassing me." Aoi said but smiled happily at Kaoru's affection.
"I can't help it." Karou said. "I just love to see your face get so pink."
Kaoru then pulled her close to him and rested his chin on her head. Aoi sighed against him and returned his embrace.
"Aoi-chan." Kaoru said.
"Kaoru-sama." Aoi said.
They stood like that together for a few moments, enjoying each other's company. Kaoru was nearly finished with his graduate studies and would soon be looking to start an internship. It would be harder to find time for quiet moments such as this and Aoi knew that Kaoru would be working hard to reach his goal. So, she was content to savor this moment.
"Kaoru-sama." Aoi said. "Do not worry about me. Please enjoy yourself and relax. I know that you will be busy very soon and you should take time to recharge yourself before you begin your internship."
"You don't mind?" Kaoru said. "It'll mean a lot of time away from you. I want to do this for you. I love you, Aoi-chan. I have to do my best for you. But I'll miss having you so close to me."
"I'll miss you too, Kaoru-sama." Aoi said and looked up into his soft brown eyes. For a moment, the world seemed to vanish and they leaned toward each other to kiss softly.
"Ahem." They sprang apart as Miyabi Kagurazaki stood watching them in the doorway.
"Miyabi-san!" the couple said together.
"I believe that breakfast is ready." Miyabi said. "We should hurry and eat before it is much later." She turned to go but stopped and looked back. "I apologize for interrupting, but please do not forget that you must both show the proper restraint."
Kaoru and Aoi nodded and followed Miyabi out to the dining room.
"It's true." Kaoru thought. "We still have so much to keep a secret. At first, it wasn't so difficult. But lately, it's been harder to keep my feelings for Aoi-chan so quiet."
He glanced over at Aoi. She stared straight ahead, but Kaoru knew from her eyes that she felt unhappy at having to keep her feelings shut up as well. The two didn't have a chance to speak much during breakfast as they were surrounded by conversation of the trip ahead of them.
"Sato and Suzuki are supposed to meet us up at the campsite, right Tae-chin?" Tina asked.
"That's what they told me." Taeko answered. "They said they had some errands to run and would meet us in time for lunch."
"I still can't believe I get to go camping!" Chika squealed. "And I'll get to go swimming too!"
"The lake up there is great, Chika." Tina said. "You'll love it and it's great for fishing and boating too."
"I've never been boating." Taeko said. "Let's go together, Chika!"
The table was silent as everyone pictured the various disasters that could occur should Taeko be allowed on the water.
"Uh, Tae-chin." Tina said. "I think maybe you ought to let me handle the boating, okay?"
"Oh, sure, Tina-sempai." Taeko said. Breakfast was finished and Taeko hurried to change her clothes and grab her things. Chika went along to make sure Taeko remembered all that she needed. Tina and Kaoru loaded up the jeep Tina had bought after graduation. It wasn't much, but it would hold the four passengers and their luggage relatively comfortably.
"We're ready." Taeko called and promptly stumbled off the stairs and fell face first to the ground.
"Tae-chin, you okay?" Tina asked without even looking up. Kaoru stared out the passenger window. Taeko sat up with a sheepish grin on her face. Then they piled into the jeep and with a shout of joy from Chika and Tina, they drove off.
"See you in a couple days, Aoi-chan!" Kaoru called.
"Take care of yourselves!" Aoi called to the shrinking jeep as it disappeared over the horizon.
The camping trip was great fun. Chika had barely waited for the car to stop before she was out of it and into her swimsuit. She hadn't counted on the lake being cold and paused a moment to shiver.
"You okay, Chika-chan?" Kaoru asked.
"Oni-chan, the water is so cold!" Chika whined.
"It'll get warmer once you get in it." Kaoru said. "Go ahead."
"Okay, but you promise to pull me out if I turn into a block of ice, right?"
Kaoru smiled and nodded. Chika took a deep breath and surged forward. The water wasn't as cold as before and with each step she took, she found it warmer. Soon, she was splashing and diving through the surface like a fish.
"Way to go, Chika!" Tina called. "But be careful now. The lake water is fresh. You won't be as buoyant in it."
Chika waved back as she floated lazily on her back.
"Tina, you keep on eye on Chika while Taeko-chan and I unpack the jeep, okay?"
"Sure thing, Kaoru." Tina said. Kaoru stared at Tina. There was something in the way she acted around him now that he couldn't quite place. Was it that she didn't quite meet his eyes or that her smile wasn't the same? He made a mental note to ask her another time.
Suzuki and Sato arrived about half an hour later with food and other equipment they would need. Then everyone joined Tina and Chika in the lake, splashing and enjoying the water, which was pleasant after working hard. Later, they all lay on shore, soaking up the sun and talking about school, past and present.
"Chika-chan, when is your swim meet?" Kaoru asked.
"The next swim meet is in October, but it's out of town. My next home meet is after Christmas." Chika answered.
Kaoru nodded. He'd attended most of Chika's swim meets when he could, but with the approach of the fall semester and his decision of an internship before graduation, it would be more difficult to attend.
"Have you heard anything yet from the Shimino Corporation?" Taeko asked.
"Nothing yet." Kaoru answered. "I have a little time left. I need to let my professor know before the fall semester begins where I'll be interning."
"Maybe you can intern at the zoo where I work, Kaoru!" Tina said cheerfully. She toyed aimlessly with a dandelion before blowing the white seeds towards him. Kaoru flinched slightly and swatted them away.
"I don't think there's a lot of call for commercial business investment at the zoo." Kaoru said. "Although I did suggest a classmate who has some interest in advertising to look into it."
"What are you hoping for anyway?" Suzuki asked.
Kaoru grew silent. He thought of the Hanabishi clan and the Sakuraba Group. Both groups relied heavily on commercial business expertise to fund their groups and Kaoru wanted to make himself worthy of Aoi and her family.
"I want to go into business with the Sakuraba Group." Kaoru said. "Or at least be able to make myself worthy to work with them."
"Why the Sakuraba Group?" Sato asked.
"There's something they have that's important to me." Kaoru said and drifted off into his thoughts. Tina found him still like that at dinner, staring out over the lake.
Aoi woke Sunday morning to view a sky slate gray with rain clouds and shivered at the sudden chill in the summer air.
"There appears to be a rather strong storm approaching." Miyabi said as Aoi came downstairs.
"I hope Kaoru-sama and the others will not be caught in it." Aoi said and looked worriedly out the window.
The rain began to fall with a roof shaking crash of thunder than sent Utsume squeaking to hide behind the couch pillow. Aoi looked out and couldn't even see the yard for the gale.
"Kaoru-sama." Aoi thought. "Please be safe."
Another crash of thunder shook the room and lightning streaked over the house.
"We're back!" Tina called through house. Aoi hurried to meet them in the front.
"Welcome home." Aoi said and stared in shock. Taeko, Chika, Tina, and Kaoru all stood in the foyer, dripping wet and looking glum. Also, Kaoru seemed incredibly uncomfortable.
"Are you all alright?" Aoi asked. "Kaoru-sama, what's wrong?"
"It's nothing, Aoi-chan." Kaoru said with a sheepish grin. "But I need to go take a bath. Excuse me." He hurried out of the room toward his own.
"What happened?" Aoi asked.
"Well, the storm started coming in, so we decided that we should leave earlier than planned." Taeko said. "But the storm started out there, of course, before it moved this way."
"It was really loud." Tina said nervously and jumped as another thunderclap sounded outside.
"Anyway, both Chika and Tina were so startled by the thunder. And I admit that I was too." Taeko said nervously. "But wehen we all jumped, I guess we knocked Kaoru off balance."
"Right into a patch of poison ivy." Tina said. "It got all over his arms and down his shirt."
"We didn't know what had happened until we were almost home when he started to scratch and get all red."
"Oh dear." Aoi said. "Do you think it is painful for him?"
"I had a run in with poison ivy once." Tina said. "It burned and made me itch a lot, but it was gone in about a week."
Aoi helped the girls bring their things in. Then, they all went to their room. Aoi thought for a moment and went to the kitchen to prepare something special for Kaoru.
Kaoru moaned miserably at the burning itch on his arms, back and front. Truly, he wasn't upset at the girls having caused this, but he didn't wish his luck on anyone else.
"AH!" he groaned. "Someone kill me!"
"No, Kaoru-sama." Aoi said. "I wouldn't like to lose you. You shouldn't beg to die. Especially when I wish to help care for you."
Kaoru turned as Aoi came in. She carried a bowl of water, a sponge and a bottle of calamine lotion.
"Aoi-chan!" Kaoru groaned. "Please tell me that's for me?"
Aoi smiled and knelt down beside her fiancée.
"Let me first wipe down your back, Kaoru-sama." Aoi said. "I want to see how far this rash has actually gotten."
Kaoru removed his shirt and Aoi once again shivered at the sight of the numerous scars that laced his back. She felt a surge of anger at the elder Hanabishi for doing this to her Kaoru-sama.
"Is it bothering your scars at all?" Aoi asked.
"Just a little bit." Kaoru answered. "Every once in awhile, it makes them sting."
Aoi gently placed the cool sponge on Kaoru's naked back. Kaoru sniffed the air and he wrinkled his nose.
"Aoi-chan, is that vinegar I smell?" Kaoru asked.
"Yes, I looked up some information about helping with itching from poison ivy and this was what the book suggested." Aoi answered. "The other choices were baking soda or a thing called Burow's solution, but we didn't have either."
Kaoru wrinkled his nose again as the cool cloth gently was wiped over his back and arms. Apart from making him feel like a salad, he found the vinegar to ease the burning itch. Kaoru gave a leisurely sigh.
"Does this ease your discomfort, Kaoru-sama?" Aoi asked.
Kaoru gave a mumbled assent. Aoi finished the vinegar sponge bath and gently dried his back and arms.
"I'll put some lotion on now." Aoi said. "Remember that you shouldn't let your skin dry completely before applying the calamine."
"I won't forget." Kaoru said sleepily. He drifted in his mind while Aoi gently cared for him. She finished his back and moved to care for his chest. Kaoru felt his face redden as Aoi's tiny hands gently touched the sponge to his chest.
"It seems so strange." Kaoru thought. "To have someone care for me this much makes me feel warm and happy."
"Aoi-chan, I love you." Kaoru said. He stopped her hands and held them in his own. Aoi looked up at him in surprise. His faced inched closer to hers and Aoi felt as though her heart might jump from her chest. Kaoru's lips brushed lightly against hers as he closed around her mouth in a kiss. Aoi's hands moved of their own accord to wrap gently around his neck.
Suddenly, there was a loud crash and a muffled squeak. Kaoru and Aoi instantly pulled back and looked up to see Chika staring at them from the doorway.
"Chika-chan." Kaoru said in an agonized whisper. He watched Chika's hand cover her mouth and tears trickle down her face. He was filled with sudden horror as he remembered his exposed back.
"Chika-san." Aoi whispered.
The three stared at each other in silence. Chika's tears became rivers on her face as she continued to stare at Aoi and Kaoru.
"Oh no." Kaoru thought. "What will Chika say? Will she say anything about my back?"
Karou suddenly looked at Aoi in alarm.
"Will she say anything about Aoi-chan?" Karou thought wildly.
To Be Continued
I didn't want to end here exactly, but I do have a story arc in mind for this and really want to do the story. I have another multi-chapter I'm almost done with, so I'm in need of a new project.
Please PLEASE tell me what you think? I can't wait to see how everyone likes this idea!
Stay cool minna! From here on in, this will be fun!