Disclaimer: I do not own Strawberry Panic at all. All copyrights belong to the respective owners and organizations.
Note: Try to keep with the flow… and read till the end :)
I woke to the fresh air of the highlands, to the sun's rays that were still shy to the early morning.
I was in the paradise of the wild fruit which grows only under the harshest conditions of the bitter cold. People had always sworn that the harder it was to obtain something, the sweeter it becomes. Right now at this moment, these words of the wise couldn't have faithfully rung the truth any more than it was.
When we first met beneath the boughs of the lop-sided oak, the colour of her eyes had reminded me painfully of the past… a past which had haunted me every night ever since she was claimed by lord. Her eyes, eyes the colour of the exact same shade of strawberry, brought forth hidden memories and feelings from the depths of my heart. Just like how one's first taste of the exotic fruit was that addictive flavor of soursweet, I couldn't help but be attracted to her innocent exterior. And those eyes… As I stood there, still slightly stunned at her sudden appearance, I found myself moving against my will. My body, out of its own accord, had retrieved the squirrel-like keychain for her.
Her warm and smooth hand grazed against mine, sending an involuntary shiver through the nerve ends of my hand. My heart throbbed at a quickening pace as goosebumps threatened to rise all over.
A long-forgotten pulse of electricity coursed through me once more, reviving senses that had been dulled to near nothingness for almost eons.
Closer… closer… I felt myself inching slowly towards her, towards that warm sensation that was spreading…
Reaching out to the bowl beside me, I popped one of the brightly-coloured fruit into my mouth. As I bit into it, the slightly sour taste made me cringe a little. However, this unique taste brought back memories, and a slight smile made its way to my face as I recalled how she had fainted in my arms at the contact. At this thought, a sudden pang of bitterness assaults me as I realized just how long it had been since that day, since the times where we could enjoy ourselves during school-times. Days of the quiet enjoyment we sought under the starry night skies at bow of the beautiful lake were but a privilege that was taken away.
I stretched my languid body lazily, monopolizing fully the whole of the queen-sized bed. The chilly wind billowed through the open windows, causing the gaily-coloured curtains to flap merrily in sync. I trembled a little in the refrigerated conditions of the morning air and decided to burrow deeper into the warm blankets.
Was it me… or did it just seem a little more cold than usual when you're not around?
I could comprehend the various reasons that were urging me to leave this make-shift cocoon, but times like this were meant for sleeping in… besides, it was only once in a blue moon that Nagisa – or anyone else for that matter - had not woken me up before this time. Sleep was fighting a hopeless battle against my senses, but that didn't automatically point me out of the bed.
I thrust a lone arm out to reach for another of the succulent goodness.
Strawberries couldn't possibly be grown in greenhouses… could they?
I made a face as vinegar flooded my senses.
Lying on my back, I stared broodingly at the churning of the ceiling fan. Like any other room here, the roof was painted with a shade of dreamy blue.
That day… the sky was almost this shade of blue as well…
Sitting down on the assigned seat in the auditorium, I could only scan the surroundings for a sight of her. Miyuki was seated beside me in her usual demeanor, but I knew that she was felt anything but happy at this last ceremony. The teacher was, as usual, passing out the graduation certificates to the sixth-year students and giving speeches.
Miyuki stood up stiffly, still trying her best to set a good example for the others… for the last time, anyway. I watched her approaching the stage with grace of any lady. After all, I had been watching after her all this time, and in my eyes, she had long since graduated from the crybaby she was when I first met her.
I averted my eyes again, searching urgently for a ghost of her presence. A stray strand of silver obstructed the pathway of my eyes and I brushed them away impatiently, still trying to spot the one girl I needed to see before the ceremony ended.
I composed myself before presenting myself before the spotlight. Confidently, I strode past Miyuki - who was returning to her seat – and headed for the stage. Just for today, I had let my hair down for the occasion and I could distinctly hear the swoons of certain juniors at the mere sight of me.
Ah, I haven't lost my charm at all.
Before I knew it, the graduation ceremony had ended… but I still did not see Nagisa.
Was she crying somewhere…? Nagisa, where are you?
I whirled around at the mention of my name. Standing in front me was Tamao, Nagisa's roommate and best friend.
"Tamao-san, have you seen Nagisa around?"
But before the question was out of my mouth, she started dragging me away from the foyer. All I could do was to follow her lead but it didn't stop me from inquiring about our destination.
"You'll know later, Shizuma-sama."
Moments later, we reached the forest that surrounds most of the school compound. This was where she left me on my own.
"You should know where to find her… go to her, please."
A mirror of Miyuki and me…
She made to leave, but I caught her arm in my grasp.
"Take care of her for me… would you do that, Tamao-san?"
"Would I do otherwise?"
For a moment, we just stood there, looking at each other. I was the first to break out in a grin.
"Don't snatch her away from me, or I'll be after you."
She gave me a knowing smile that had all the makings of a holy sage.
"Don't let me."
I bid her goodbye, turned around and ran all the way to the patch of grass where we had made our first promise.
Sure enough, Nagisa was there.
Like any old drama series, we flew into each other's embrace, not giving a hoot about being spotted by anyone. In the close proximity, all I could smell was her, all I could see was her.
"Don't cry, Nagisa… It's not the end… we could always meet up."
She pressed in closer to me as she locked me tightly in her hug. Gently, I stroked her hair as I felt hot tears seeping through my uniform. She was sobbing quietly, and it pained me to see her in this state. I held her in my arms even as hers were starting to sag under the pressure.
I planted a chaste kiss on her forehead, trying to comfort her in the only way that I knew. I had never been at ease when someone cried, but I never knew what I should do. Taking out a handkerchief from the hem of the dress, I tried to dab away her glistening tears.
Finally, she stilled, falling asleep in my embrace.
I sat there all day, waiting patiently for her to wake while continuing my caresses on her.
It'll be alright, trust me…
I did notice that the sky was that shade of blue.
I flopped over to face the mattress, kicking a few blankets off to dissipate the heat that was slowly creeping upon me as the sun grew stronger. Even though the climate was cooler here in the summer than anywhere else, summer still equals to heat.
Nonetheless, this was still a great place to meet up with Nagisa after five months of having no contact at all. It couldn't be helped as Nagisa still attended St. Miator and was still bound under the strict rules. As for me, college was nothing but a whole horde of busy schedules all way through. It was a little silly, I guess. The two schools are but a street apart, and we could do nothing against the barriers thrown to prevent us from meeting.
Even so, three vacations per year were good enough for us.
Preferring to get out of bed before the sun cooked me alive, I threw off all of the coverings that were present on the bed and onto the floor.
Standing in the doorway was the love of my life, holding on to a can of whipped cream that looked fresh from the fridge. I presumed that they were for the bowl of strawberries that I had been eating from.
I see her giving me a frown before closing the door behind her and shutting the windows.
I don't think words were able to describe how I feel when I see her… the petite form that had grown even more womanly after a year, a cutest frown present on her brow which always threatened her with the prospects of wrinkles…
I popped another strawberry into my mouth, expecting the sour taste of the deceptive fruit which looked sweet.
Ara. It is sweet… just like you, Nagisa…
Oh. Did I ever mention that I sleep naked?
A/N: Ok, here's a little bit of Strawberry Panic! Fluff for everyone! Criticisms are nice when they're constructive… but reviews are really plain gold. xD Hope you'd enjoyed this little insert! First time writing for this fandom, hehe…