Disclaimer: It's Toei's sandbox. I just play here because it's fun.
Author's Note: This piece came from a combination of watching too much GTO and being in a slightly weird mood. That said, I feel I take liberties with the characters and a few more liberties with the storyline. Please forgive that. Things to know: the first two scenes take place shortly after Stage 22 (A Date In Kyoto), the middle two shortly after Stage 36 (Divine Punishment) and the last two shortly after the Final Stage (Returning To the Legends), yet before the family's one-year reunion. Reviews—the good, the bad and the ugly—are always appreciated.
OCEAN AND SUNLIGHT
By Etcetera Kit
To the future you.
Urara shifted the stack of clean towels to one arm and used her free arm to push open the door to Hikaru-sensei's room. They had given him the attic guest room to stay in, while he was teaching them. Not that he ever seemed to be in it, since she always saw him in the Magic Room. He'd come into the kitchen once. Part of her expected the room to look untouched, like he'd put a cursory book on the nightstand and actually slept in Travelion or something like that.
However, her original assumptions turned out to be wrong.
She nearly dropped the stack of towels at the sight of the holy mess. The bed was unmade and clothing was draped over the footboard. Books were stacked haphazardly on the shelf and open books littered the floor and surfaces. A steamer trunk was open and clothes, blankets and more books spilled out of that. A potion bubbled in a cauldron by the window, and the desk was cluttered with extra potion ingredients, scraps of parchment, ink bottles and quills. Impeccably neat Hikaru-sensei lived in a complete and utter sty?
Stepping around the books on the floor, she set two clean towels on his bed. She glanced at the clothing on the footboard. Why didn't he bring any of that to get washed? In fact, the last time it had been her turn to do laundry, she hadn't seen anything of Hikaru-sensei's. The clothes were clearly things he wore—pants, jackets, a white wife beater, t-shirts, jeans… She backpedaled from the bed, tripping over a pair of boots on the floor next to the bed.
Something colorful amongst the dark leather-bound books caught her eye. Curiosity getting the better of her, she set the other towels down and went over to the shelving unit. A small set of drawers—not something originally in the room—had been set up next to the books. The top two drawers contained ordinary enough things—extra quills and ink, some old tickets, even some abandoned cologne and a pair of reading glasses. But in the bottom drawer…
"What is he doing with condoms?" she murmured to herself.
The box was unopened, but new, like he'd bought them as a precaution. A precaution against what? Houka tended to get on his last nerve, and Urara, herself, had made it quite clear she wasn't interested in him. Was he seeing someone on the surface? It had to be another human, since Lunagel wouldn't put up with his shenanigans. Right?
She shut the drawers and looked up to the top shelf, where she'd seen the color. Something had been hidden behind the books there. The titles weren't something Hikaru-sensei would use as reference—volumes of basic spells and potion-making. He knew the basics. She stood on her tiptoes, knocking one of the books down and a few video tapes came rattling down with it. What the…
Porn. He had porn videos stashed up there with the books.
Saints, he was such a man.
Rolling her eyes, she tossed the tapes and the book back on the shelf and did another sweep of the room. Sure enough, there was a small television with a built-in VCR under the desk.
Loud footsteps were pounding up the stairs to the attic. Urara grabbed the extra towels and went out into the hallway. Hikaru-sensei was coming up the stairs and… what on earth was he wearing? She normally saw him in the navy blue suit—indicative of his elemental status—but today he had on a black suit, but with a white tank top taking the place of the shirt and tie.
"Urara!" he cried, clearly surprised at seeing her here.
"Clean towels," she replied simply, holding up the stack.
"Oh." He didn't look convinced. "Thanks." He pushed open the door to his room. "Sorry about all that," he added, vaguely gesturing. "It's a mess and… I'll clean it."
Urara refrained from quipping, you might not want to. Someone else might find your adult videos. "Where were you?" she asked, instead, nodding towards his clothes.
"Oh…" That seemed to be his intelligent phrase of the day. "I got a job as a temporary teacher at the high school."
"No, no!" he said quickly. "A different high school. I thought it'd help with the money and all." He shrugged. "I get my first paycheck tomorrow."
She was torn between asking what he taught and which high school, but the former won out. "What do you teach?"
He smiled. "Yes, seriously. Makito's been helping me catch up on the more advanced things that I've gotten rusty with."
"Onii-chan?" She returned his smile. "Which high school?"
"Musashi Seirin Academy."
"Oh." There she was taking up his phrase. She started for the stairs, but turned around. "And Hikaru?" He met her gaze. "Hide your porn videos better."
The stunned and horrified expression on his face was priceless.
Hikaru sank down at a picnic table. None of the students used these particular picnic tables, preferring the ones closer to the lunchroom. A soccer game was going on in the distance and other students milled around, talking amongst themselves. He tried to ignore the pain in his side—a bruise, courtesy of a Hades Beastman—and tried to pretend that he wasn't hungry. He felt light-headed, not sure how he was going to make it through the afternoon classes. Leaving his lunch at the house, along with any money he could have used to buy something… today was just fantastic.
He laid his head down on his arms, wondering if a power nap would help with the pain and hunger.
All right, so he'd had to fabricate some things to get this job. Like a last name… he'd told the administration that he was staying with some cousins and had used magic to forge all the correct papers he needed. He looked up at the student calling his name. "What now, Kikuchi?" he mumbled, not wanting to tangle with the precarious top student right now.
"Sensei!" Kikuchi said, running up to his picnic table. "Your cousin's here to see."
"What?" he asked, then caught sight of the woman following Kikuchi. "Urara?"
She smiled, nodding at Kikuchi as he ran off to join his friends. "Hikaru-sensei," she greeted him softly. He tried to stand up, but the pain in his side forced him to collapse back onto the stone bench. Her eyes turned concerned. "Sit," she commanded. "I saw you left your lunch on the counter," she continued conversationally, sitting next to him on the bench. "And it was pathetic, so I made you a new one."
Pathetic? He'd never claimed to be a cook, and magic didn't extend into conjuring up gourmet meals on the spot. She deposited a plastic shopping bag on the table and began extracting the contents. Urara and Makito were the only two of the siblings that knew about his job. Kai was in school all day and he wasn't sure that Houka or Tsubasa wondered where he got to during the day.
Urara set a plastic container in front of him. "I made cucumber sushi this morning."
He could have cried in relief. She had brought him lunch, and he could go to the school nurse and get some painkillers before the afternoon classes. "Thank you," he murmured.
She just smiled at him. He opened the sushi container, as she pulled out a bottle of juice and another plastic container, probably containing desert. Saints, why was she here? She'd made it abundantly clear that she didn't return his affections.
"And you left this on the counter with your lunch," she added, holding up his billfold. He smiled—he had been exhausted that morning, having spent a sleepless night with the injury on his side. "And Tsubasa said I needed to bring a salve for your side." She pulled out a jar, very obviously containing a magical solution of some kind.
"I didn't know Tsubasa knew I worked here."
"He doesn't," she replied. "He just knew I was coming to see you."
They fell into a comfortable silence, Urara watching him eat. She wasn't wearing her magic uniform this morning. He found that a little unusual, since they wore their uniforms in public all the time and no one commented. He just found it better to wear normal clothing around the students and avoid all rumors and gossip.
"You cleaned your room," Urara commented after a while.
Hikaru nodded, fighting a laugh. "Yeah, but don't get used to it. My classes have exams tomorrow and I'll be spending all weekend grading."
"You hid all the porn better."
He laughed. "Yeah. I did."
Urara frowned. "I thought you were going to say you got rid of it." She paused. "So where is it all hidden now?"
"Why would I tell you? You might go in there and throw it away."
"I'd have done that the first time if it bothered me."
And she never failed to amaze him. She turned from him, her expression going to the distant girls' soccer game. Her fingers idly played with her pendant. Her tank top was a dusty azure, and her denim skirt was similar to the one she wore all the time. He followed her gaze to the soccer game, his thoughts refusing to settle. Her continued reaction to the porn collection confused him. This was the woman that tried to beat him up for flirting with Houka, and the woman who got jealous of his attentions to any other woman. And, yet, this same slightly possessive woman didn't mind that he had porn collection. If any of those clicked together in his mind…
Well, they didn't. And here he was.
Yes, she treated him the way she treated Makito… but… would she not only have brought her older brother lunch, but made him a new one? He doubted that.
Noticing that he was almost done with the sushi, Urara nudged the other container towards him. "Fudge brownies," she prompted. "That I made."
Hikaru nodded, some feeling of panic relieved. The last brownies in the house had been Makito's poor attempt at cooking. While he was a genius when it came to plants and growing things, he couldn't cook for beans.
"Let me see your side."
"Urara," he started, suddenly self-conscious. "The students and—"
She tugged his shirt free from his pants before he could protest more. Her fingers felt cool on his pain-flushed skin. "Why didn't you tell anyone it was this bad?" she asked. He didn't have an answer for that, just followed her fingers as she spread the salve over the bruise, and then gently prodded to make sure he hadn't hurt a rib.
He met her gaze. There was something unknown in her dark eyes. She was close enough to kiss, but that would take them down a path she didn't want.
"Thank you," he murmured.
Hikaru was still up. She could talk to him if she wanted. His footsteps softly thudded on the ceilings of the second floor and his door was open, the light shining over the stairs. She wanted to go talk to him. She needed to go talk to him. He'd been terrified that the surface world and Magitopia would be destroyed if someone from the surface faced a Hades God. He relented, but the worry and concern had remained etched in his features.
Sighing, Urara crept up the stairs.
Hikaru was moving frantically around his room. He was clad in a loose pair of jeans and an old t-shirt. An old book was open on the bed and he kept referencing it as he stirred a potion and recorded grades for his students. He threw himself onto his bed, picking up the book, a frown in place.
She stepped completely onto the landing and knocked on the doorframe.
"Oh, Urara!" he said, looking up. Then he promptly overestimated how much space it would take him to roll over and he crashed to the floor.
"Hikaru-sensei!" she cried, rushing forward to help him up.
"That hurt," he mumbled, pushing himself into a sitting position and inspecting his elbow. Urara picked up the book from where it had flow and tried to smooth the wrinkled pages. The volume was written in a script she didn't recognize. Hikaru watched her, his gaze following her movements. She should have felt self-conscious… but his gaze was warm and accepting, like the sunlight.
"What is this?" she asked.
"A book of Magitopia's legends," he replied, running a hand through his already disheveled hair. He paused for a moment, looking thoughtful. "Well, it's more like accounts of ancient battles." He shrugged. "It's in Greek."
Urara glanced up at him. "How many languages do you know?"
She gaped at him. "Be serious."
"I am serious—Greek, Latin, Hebrew, English, French, German, Mandarin Chinese and Japanese." He ticked off each language on his fingers. "I had to learn Greek, Latin and Hebrew when I was training to become a Heavenly Saint."
Urara nodded, handing the book back to him. His fingers brushed hers as he took the book. His hands were always so warm… so much about him was like the sunlight, she was amazed that she hadn't seen it before.
"What did you need?" He looked politely inquisitive.
She looked down before meeting his gaze again. "I wanted to make sure you're all right."
"You know, with the whole thing about the surface world and Magitopia and—"
He held up a hand to silence her. "I know. But I think the legends were just that—legends."
Urara didn't ask why he was reading ancient battle accounts. His rational mind might have led him to that conclusion, but he was still paranoid, making sure nothing would happen. He kept his gaze steady on her, eyes warm and comforting. She wanted… Saints, when he'd held her hand that afternoon, she'd thought he would kiss her. She'd wanted him to kiss her, but then all her siblings came in the room and all thoughts of kissing went out the window.
She hadn't wanted to talk to him. She wanted to kiss him.
What was the worst that could happen? He'd push her away and give some speech about how, as his student, he couldn't do this.
No day, but today.
Urara leaned forward. Hikaru didn't move, just kept still, watching her from under half-closed eyelids. She licked her lips and closed the space between them. In that single instant, she knew how soft his lips were, how much she wanted to open his mouth and explore, taste the sunlight that had to be there. He responded, the only parts of their bodies touching were their lips.
He ended the kiss. It had been completely chaste and left her wanting more. He gently laid a hand on her arm. "Urara, we need to—"
"I'm sorry," she cried, standing up. He wanted to tell her that they couldn't be together.
"I'm really sorry."
She turned and fled down the stairs, sure he would just remain sitting on the floor, a stunned expression on his face. At least, she thought that until he caught up with her on the second floor hall, grabbing her arm.
"Urara," he murmured, his hands on her shoulders, pressing her gently against the wall. "I want to be with you," he whispered in her ear, breath hot on her skin. "But we need to talk about some things, like the fact that I'm a Heavenly Saint and Magitopia is my home."
Then he kissed her, catching her open-mouthed… and she tasted sunlight, tea and mint and something else that was uniquely Hikaru. A shudder ran through her body as she moved her hands to the back of his neck. His hair was surprisingly silky and slipped between her fingers easily. One of his hands went to her waist, while the other cupped her cheek.
He broke the kiss abruptly.
She felt disoriented for a moment until she realized why.
Makito had grabbed him and planted a punch directly on his face.
The chaos in the hallway managed to multiply as Makito began shouting something nonsensical to Hikaru and everyone else poured into the hallway from their rooms. Hikaru was holding his hand to his nose, blood dripping down his wrist. He tried to get up, but failed, landing on his back on the floor. Tsubasa and Kai tried to hold Makito back, while Houka was on the verge of tears, screaming at them to stop.
"Shut-up!" Urara shouted over the din.
That froze everyone. She walked over to Hikaru and grabbed his elbow, helping him to his feet. "He kissed you," Makito growled.
"I can kiss whoever I want," Urara snapped back.
She ignored the rest of the sputtered protests, and helped Hikaru down the stairs and into the kitchen. The noise upstairs quieted as Houka reamed out Makito, then yelled for Tsubasa and Kai to get back in bed.
It wasn't as bad as he originally thought. His first thought had been that Makito broke his nose. Well, he'd just managed to bloody his nose and give him a black eye. How was he supposed to explain any of this to his students in the morning?
Urara had taken him into the kitchen and pressed a damp cloth to his nose until it stopped bleeding. She'd then washed off his bloody hand, each movement gentle and wonderful. He'd started to forget the pain and shock of being punched in the face by her older brother, and remembered the two kisses they'd shared, wanting so much more. She was sweet and strong-willed and… Saints, he'd never thought she'd return any of his affections.
She'd gently inspected his face, pronouncing that he'd have some bruising on his cheek and a black eye, but nothing more. She had pressed a kiss to his forehead, sending him back upstairs, promising to bring some tea and aspirin.
He was still waiting for that promise.
He'd gotten blood on his t-shirt and stripped out of it upon getting to his room. Kicking aside a pile of books, he'd looked for another clean shirt—one that he didn't have to wear to work—and came up empty-handed. Of course, he'd have to wait until Sunday to do laundry. It seemed that the siblings were doing laundry all during the week. For whatever reason, he felt uncomfortable about them doing his laundry, so he did it himself, covertly, every other week. The shirt didn't seem to matter, so he just collapsed into bed, wanting to fall asleep and forget.
Her family… how could he have forgotten that Makito was extremely overprotective of his sisters, especially Urara? Hikaru didn't know how to reconcile the situation.
He untangled his blanket from the foot of his bed and pulled it over his head.
Hikaru just wanted to sleep.
Someone came into the room—presumably Urara. He heard the sound of a mug being set on his nightstand. "Are you under there?" That was Urara's amused voice. He pushed the blanket off his face. She was grinning.
"I got waylaid by Onii-chan and Houka," she explained, though he hadn't asked the question. She tilted his face towards the lamp, her fingers under his chin, inspecting the injuries. "You'll need to put more ice on your eye so it doesn't swell shut." She gently brushed his hair away from his forehead. "Are you angry with Makito?"
She was really asking if he was going to punish him. As the most senior person in the house and their magical tutor, the Ozu siblings looked to him to deal with most situations that a parent would ordinarily take care of. "No," he replied softly. "I understand how he feels."
"He shouldn't have hit you."
"And I haven't hit people for no reason?"
Urara looked thoughtful for a moment. "Houka and I yelled at him, although I think Tsubasa was sleepwalking when he called Makito an idiot." She shook her head. "He'll probably apologize in the morning."
"He's care about you."
"I care about you."
His mind froze for a moment. She cared about him. She cared about him. "It's fine," he replied softly. "Besides I shouldn't have—"
"If you're about to say you shouldn't have kissed me, I'll hit you harder than Onii-chan did."
He snapped his mouth shut. Anything he might have said ended with an apology for kissing her in such a public part of the house. Yes, Urara was free to kiss whoever she wanted, but that didn't stop anyone's overreaction. And, yes, he believed that she'd hit him harder than Makito had.
I love you.
He couldn't say it. Not yet.
Saints, she'd been the one to free him from his cursed frog form. She'd drop-kicked him for a wild miscommunication about why he'd been in Kyoto with Houka. He'd made her cry earlier that day for being in a foul mood. How often had his actions brought her to tears? Too many times to count and, yet, here she was, wanting him still, despite the fact that he… wasn't the easiest person to live with.
"I wasn't going to say that," he said delicately, after an interminable pause.
"Good." She sat down on the edge of his bed. "Make sure you ice your eye before you go to school tomorrow morning."
"Urara, what are you—"
"I'm staying here, making sure Onii-chan didn't give you a concussion."
That was medically inaccurate and they both knew it, but he didn't say anything. She was here and her body was so soft and warm and… His brain threatened to shut down. Soon, Urara was curled next to him, one hand over his heart. This was…
Ocean and sunlight.
"Am I alive?"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes! For the last time, Hikaru, you are alive. Vancuria saved you."
"I'm not just, like, a corporeal ghost?"
"There's no such thing as a corporeal ghost."
Urara rolled her eyes. Since they'd come back to the house after their final battle with N Ma, Hikaru had done nothing but pace, like he had too much pent-up energy and didn't know how else to get rid of it. And the more pacing he did, the more overheated he seemed to become, since he'd shed more and more clothing since the caged tiger act began. Now, he was barefoot, clad in just his pants and shirt, the shirt unbuttoned and threatening to slip off his shoulders at any moment.
"Have you forgotten something?" she called.
He stopped abruptly, looking up. They had come to his room, Kaa-san saying she would call everyone when dinner was ready. Hikaru's room seemed more private than hers, since hers was in the middle of the second floor. There was nothing wrong with this—they were married after all. "What?" he asked, nearly tripping over one of his stacks of books.
"The binding kiss?" she prompted. "The wedding night?"
This time he did trip over some books. Urara rolled her eyes again. He was normally so overconfident that seeing him this ridiculously awkward was… awkward. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I just…" He raked a hand through his hair. "I don't want to hurt you."
"You're not going to hurt me."
"Hikaru, please sit down." She motioned to a spot on his bed, next to her. To her eternal relief, he actually complied, sitting gingerly next to her. "You remember the day with Ifrit? The day with the apple pie? That night?"
"Yes," he said softly, his voice hoarse.
"Then why are you hesitating now?"
He looked down, frowning, before he met her gaze again. "Urara," he started. "Remember when Smoky told me I'd made no vow without the binding kiss?"
She nodded. That had been at the end of their ill-fated marriage ceremony, right before Lunagel burst in with her horrifying news. They had exchanged their rings and Smoky had told them about the binding kiss. While she'd always known that a kiss came at the end of a wedding ceremony, she hadn't counted on feeling so self-conscious in front of her family. It wasn't like she hadn't kissed Hikaru before, but in front of her parents and knowing that Makito probably wanted to beat him up for even thinking about it? Well… a part of her had felt relieved that Lunagel burst in.
"It's the final step of the magic," he explained. "Well, final two steps. The kiss completes the ceremony. As long as we're wearing our rings, we'll be able to sense each other's presence at a distance, tell if the other is hurt or…" he trailed off. "The wedding night completes the bonding."
"Limited telepathy with each other."
Urara thought for a minute, then the words came tumbling out of her mouth. "That's why Kaa-san was able to find Tou-san!" Hikaru nodded. She playfully shoved his shoulder. "That's what you're worried about? You're bizarre."
Hikaru's hands went to her waist, pulling her into his lap. When he kissed her, she felt it from the tip of her toes to the end of her hair. She could feel the silk of his lips, the pull of his body. His ring felt heavy on her finger, as if affirming that the ceremony was now complete. She could feel the sunlight radiating from his body, almost if she were lying on a sun-warmed beach. The golden rays of light and the salty taste of the ocean…
Hikaru woke up, disoriented for a moment, before he realized that Urara was no longer in bed with him. He frowned, willing his eyes to adjust faster to the dim moonlight of the attic. She wasn't hard to find—wrapped in one of his work shirts, sitting at the desk, gazing into the depths of her crystal ball as the moon illuminated her.
He found an abandoned pair of jeans on the floor and pulled them on.
"Urara?" he asked softly.
"Look," she replied, motioning to the crystal ball.
He leaned over her shoulder, glancing into the crystal ball. His own abilities with clairvoyance were limited, but Urara's surpassed even the greatest masters he'd seen. The white mist cleared and he saw a sunny afternoon. He saw himself, older, and walking along the street with two children. The older was a boy, no more that six or seven years old, wearing a uniform to an elementary school. The younger was a girl—three or four—wearing a preschool smock and hat.
Urara met them on the street, a smile on her face.
"Our family?" he asked.
She nodded. "We live in Magitopia until our eldest son is born, then we come back to the surface, for the children's sake."
"Find out anything else?" he asked teasingly, playing with her hair.
"Yeah. I found out where you relocated your porn to."
"I'm thinking of getting rid of that anyways."
18 – 25 October 2006