By Your Side Chapter 5: Game of Love
I'm finally back after two months. Sorry for the long wait but here it is. Special thanks to everyone who reviewed and or emailed. Your response means a lot to me and keeps me going so thanks again.
Disclaimer: I do not own Sailormoon or any of its characters. All original characters belong to me. The song, "Game of Love", is performed by Michelle Branch and Carlos Santana. I did not write it.
Just what you want me to be
And boom you're the only one for me
So please tell me why
Don't you come around no more?
'Cause right now I'm cryin'
Outside the door
Of the candy store
It just takes a little bit of this, a little bit of that
It started with a kiss now we're up to bat
A little bit of laughs, a little bit of pain
I'm tellin' you my babe, its all in the game of love—
Whatever you make it to be
Instead of this cold, lonely sea
So please gimme a try
And you'll see for what I'm good for
It ain't sayin' goodbye
Its knockin' down the door
Of your candy store...
Makoto and Ken ran through the woods towards the car, soak and wet while holding their clothing to their chest. The cool September night air chilled their wet skin as rain continued to pour upon them. When they reached the car they quickly jumped in and slammed the doors shut, glad to be sheltered from the storm outside.
Makoto breathed deeply and ran her hand through her wet hair, moving it from out of her face. She looked to her side and watched Ken, half-naked, pull on his jeans. She blushed deeply and the memory of touching him flooded her mind and covered her body in warmth. Her stomach tightened and she turned away, feeling as if she were going to be sick. A strong feeling of shame spread over her skin and she wanted nothing more than to run out of the car and hide. She wrapped her arms around herself to cover her half naked body.
Ken put the keys into the ignition before glancing at her. She was pale and wore a startled expression upon her face. He started to ask what was bothering her but the memory of their kiss startled him and caused him to pause. Goosebumps covered his skin as he thought of the way she felt under his hands... and the way she tasted. He turned away and banged his forehead on the steering wheel. What had possessed him to do such a thing?
She ignored him and quickly threw on her clothes. He finally started the car and pulled off. She pulled the hood of her sweatshirt over her head; she wanted to be buried alive. They both sat in silence for the entire ride. He couldn't look at her and she stared out of the window.
When they pulled up in front of her house they both sat quietly, afraid to speak to the other. Ken looked at her and sighed.
"Mako, look…" But before he could finish she threw the door open, ran out and slammed it shut behind her. She ran through the stormy rain to her home and went inside.
She found her parents making out on the couch and felt disgusted as she thought of how she and Ken must have looked while they were embraced together in the creek. Her parents jumped after hearing the door slam and her mother looked upon her with concern.
"Mako, you're all wet. What happened?"
At those words she ran up the stairs away from her inquiring parents, she knew they wouldn't want to know as much as she didn't want to remember. She ran into her room and threw off her clothes before jumping into her warm bed. She did not care that she drenched the bed or that it was extremely uncomfortable to sleep on a wet pillow. The only thing that she wanted to do was to forget that the kiss ever happened, and the best way to do that in the short term was to have a night of sleep, where she could dream it all away.
Ken stood under the warm shower and tried to sort his thoughts out. His brain was crowded with too many things at the moment and he found it quite difficult to relax. He didn't understand why he kissed her in the first place or why she kissed him back. He didn't know why it was so intense or why he kept his hands on her and why his hands ever touched the places they did on her body. He stared at them. He remembered the feeling of Makoto's slick hair and her warm skin… the small of her back and her soft ass.
He lathered himself up with soap to remove the dirty and grimy feelings off.
That night as he lay in bed to the wee hours of the morning he resolved his thoughts and knew what he had to do.
The next morning Makoto got out of bed extra early and ran out of the house to catch the early bus to school. She wanted to avoid Ken as much as possible and that included avoiding her usual ride with him.
That morning in homeroom her thoughts drifted back to the night before. She found that the intense feeling of shame returned.
"Are you alright?" Yuki asked.
Makoto's head was downcast as she stared at nothing on her desk. Her hair was disheveled and a few strands hung in front of her face. As she turned to look at Yuki she heard the laughter of Miaka Kawa from behind. A burning sensation filled her and her skin chilled. She desired nothing more than to shove a yard stick down the redhead's throat.
"Yeah, I'm fine." She said unconvincingly. Yuki frowned.
The girls went to their lockers after homeroom and Makoto hurriedly shoved her books into her bag. She repeatedly glanced over her shoulder as she did so. Yuki eyed her strangely.
"What's got you so paranoid?"
"Huh?" Makoto asked, she was too preoccupied with her own thoughts be aware of her friend. "Oh, nothing. What are you talking about?"
Yuki shook her head. "Nothing."
As they walked to class Makoto continued glancing over her shoulder and she walked extra fast, causing Yuki to half run in order to keep up.
"Why are you in such a hurry?" Yuki asked. Makoto began to make up some random excuse about not wanting to be late for Geometry but she suddenly stopped in her tracks as she saw Ken walking in the opposite direction towards her. Her heartbeat sped up to double time and like an animal when it spots its predator she instinctively ran.
"Wait, Makoto what are you doing?" Yuki screamed after her.
Makoto had no time to talk. She only wanted to get out of dodge and get to her next class unnoticed by Ken. She took the long way around the building and made it a second before the bell. She smiled triumphantly as she took her seat next to Yuki. She was glad to have escaped him but it was a close call. She silently laughed. Yuki was beginning to think that she was catching fever and was slightly delirious.
By the time the lunch bell rang Makoto was glad to have successfully avoided Ken all day. She knew more than likely she'd run into him in the cafeteria, so she decided to spend lunch period in the library. It wasn't a bad ideal since she could hide from Ken and do her homework all at once.
'Kill two birds with one stone.' She thought as she smiled smugly.
As she and Yuki made their way there she spotted Ken again in the hall. She gasped and her heartbeat sped up once again. It felt as if she suddenly weighed a lot because she could not turn away faster. She started to make a run for it when Ken called after her.
"Mako! Mako, wait!" He spotted her this time and had already noticed that she had been avoiding him all day.
She felt her skin chill once again and thought of being in a horror movie where she was the innocent prey trying to escape the crazed murderer. As she ran she glanced over her shoulder and saw that he was only a few feet away. She had forgotten how fast of a runner he was.
She spotted the girl's bathroom and ran inside, eager to be away from him. Ken stopped in front of it and banged his fist into the wall in frustration. Why was she doing this? He wondered as he bent double, trying to catch his breath. He only wanted to talk to her after all.
"I really don't know what's up with her?" Ken looked up and saw Yuki standing in front of him. "She's been acting really strange. I thought she might be sick but that doesn't make much sense with the fact that she's been running around all day."
Ken sighed and collapsed onto the wall. "Could you just get her to come out here Yuki, I really need to talk to her." Ken pleaded. "It's really... its just kind of important, okay. So could you please? "
Yuki stared into his deep blue eyes and almost felt herself melting into them. But then she remembered the way he treated her just a week ago and sobered up. She was now sure that she no longer felt for him the way she had for so many years. She smiled, partly because she was happy to have moved on and also because he looked rather humbled leaning against the wall and begging for assistance.
"Sure. I'll try to see what I can do." She gave him a weak smile before entering the bathroom. She found Makoto pacing up and down the floor, her forehead wrinkled as if she were trying to solve a difficult problem in her mind.
"Yuki. You've got to help me!" Makoto looked absolutely desperate. "How do I get out of here?" She grabbed Yuki by the shoulders and squeezed tightly causing the other girl to winch in pain.
"Ouch!" Yuki exclaimed and Makoto's eyes widened in surprise.
"Oh… sorry." She released the other girl from her grasp. Yuki rubbed her shoulders.
"Just walk out the door if you want to get out of here."
Makoto's face reddened and contorted to the look of a monster. Yuki backed away.
"What do you mean walk out the door!" She howled. "Ken's out there." She said as she pointed to the door. "The whole point of me running in here was to get away from him!"
"Sorry." Yuki was now sure that something was wrong with her best friend. She had never seen this side of her before nor did she care to see much more of it. She decided to forget about helping Ken in favor of cooperating with Makoto. She was afraid the girl may purposely harm her soon.
"Um... so why are you avoiding him?" She asked timidly.
Makoto shook her head. "No! I can't tell you!" She looked around the bathroom, desperate to find a way out. Her eyes fell upon a tiny window.
"Not right now at least. But I'll tell you later." She turned towards her friend. "Look, just tell him I'm sick or something. He'll think I'm in here puking my brains out or something. I don't care… tell him I'm constipated, whatever. Just get him to stop chasing me!"
Yuki stared at her blankly. "Well, I don't think he's chasing you. I think you're just running away from him."
Makoto ignored her and jumped onto the radiator to open up the tiny window. "Look, I'm going out for a while. But don't tell anyone, okay. I'll be back before seventh period." She threw her backpack out the window before squeezing her own body through.
That afternoon, she roamed the surrounding neighborhood aimlessly. She didn't care about getting caught. She only wanted to avoid Ken and to get him out of her mind.
A few hours later she returned to school just in time for her seventh period class. She passed the gym room as she walked down the empty hall and spotted Ken through the window. He was playing basketball along with a few other classmates. She noticed that he had removed his shirt and his tattoo was clearly visible. She stared as she watched the muscles in his back flex and contract. His biceps were cut sharply and his legs were hard and toned. She heard herself sigh and snapped back to reality.
As seventh period came to an end she watched the second hand on the clock, eager to get out and run away from the school. Run anywhere as long as Ken wouldn't be able to find her.
Quickly, she snapped up her back pack when the bell finally rung.
"Let's hang at your place today!" Makoto said hastily as she followed Yuki out of the room. Yuki eyed her and saw that her face was flushed and her green eyes were wide and mad looking.
"Err… sure." She actually wasn't too keen on spending alone time with the other girl seeing that she was slightly insane at the moment and prone to become volatile at a second's notice.
When they approached the exit they found Ken leaning in the doorway. Makoto gasped and stood paralyzed. Ken made a grab for her and she suddenly came alive again, she moved quickly and hid behind Yuki. Frustrated he walked towards her but she pushed Yuki into him. This distracted Ken enough that she was able to run away.
Yuki blushed and apologized as she backed away from him. He didn't seem to have heard or noticed her at all; he was too busy staring in the direction Makoto ran in.
That evening Makoto sat at her Vanity Table and brushed her hair as she stared at her reflection. Images of Ken playing basketball ran around in her mind and she couldn't shake them out no matter how hard she tried. The memory of his touch haunted her as well and the warm shower she took earlier couldn't even wash the dirty thoughts away.
She sighed as she took a good look at herself in the mirror. 'What does he see in Miaka.' She thought. She observed her features and mentally compared them to the redhead. She found that she was not as pretty.
A knock on the door distracted her from her thoughts. "Come in."
Ken stood in the doorway, a frown on his face and a teddy bear in his arms. She felt her skin chill.
"Hey." He said.
"Hey." They stared at each other.
"Can we talk?"
She nodded. He sat on her bed and glared at her before patting a spot next to him.
"I won't bite you know. Not unless you want me too?" He grinned and it felt as if a jolt of electricity went through her. She didn't find the joke very funny but reluctantly sat next to him.
"I want to apologize." He looked at her earnestly. "I don't know what happened. Or why I kissed you."
She stared at her slippers. Ken continued.
"All I know is that I'm always making a fool out of myself. I'm a complete ass." She couldn't disagree with him there. "So…" He got up and stood in front of her before getting down on his knees. "Please forgive me. Puh-leees!" He said as he took her hands into his own and put on the puppy dog face he always wore when he wanted to get his way. She couldn't help but laugh.
"Okay, okay. Consider yourself forgiven." Ken beamed and Makoto laughed even more.
"Here. I got this for you." He handed her the brown teddy bear. She smiled and gave it a tight hug.
"Yeah, I was going to use it as backup. In case getting down on my knees or my puppy face wouldn't work."
She rolled her eyes. "Since when doesn't the puppy dog face work?"
"True -true." They smiled. "You're my best friend. You know that?"
She felt her face flush. He gave her a tight hug before heading to the door. He turned around before walking through it.
"It… it was like kissing my sister." He gave her a tiny smile before leaving the room.
Makoto felt her body tense and the blood leave her face at his final remark. How could he even think that kissing her was like kissing his sister? She fell back onto her bed and tried to fight back the lump in her throat. Tears fell onto her pillow before she drifted into a dream.
She watched the corners of his mouth arch into a smile after taking a lick of his ice cream. His blue eyes danced as he took in the surroundings of downtown Cheery Grove. Sometimes they were fixed upon the window displays of passing boutiques. Other times they glanced at random girls. Makoto finally looked away and stared at her own ice cream. It was Chocolate Heart attack, she and Ken's favorite flavor. She took a lick and thought back to the first time she ever tasted it.
"Remember the first time I ever tried Chocolate Heart Attack?"
Ken looked at her and smiled. "Of course. How could I forget?" He poked her with his elbow. "It was the day you corrupted me. You forced me to sneak into a rated R movie."
"I did not force you! You wanted to go see it too!"
Ken laughed. "Yeah right! I had no clue of what we were doing until we were in the ticket line."
Makoto rolled her eyes. "Whatever." She could see Ken smiling and looking at her from the corner of her eye. She suddenly felt self-conscious.
"But remember the food fight we started?" She said to break the awkward silence. Ken laughed.
"And the lady whose dentures fell out after I accidentally hit her with an ice cube." Ken added.
Makoto almost choked on the ice cream that was sliding down her throat. She wiped the tears from her eyes and sighed.
"Don't you wish we were eleven years old again?"
Ken shook his head. "No. I really don't miss the bullying or the loneliness."
She stared at him. He turned towards her and smiled. "My world was pretty screwed up before you came in it."
Makoto blushed deeply. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and she felt her body freeze.
Miaka Kawa stood in front of them, her hands filled with bags. She averted her gaze from Ken to Makoto and looked her over. "Hi, Makoto." She said, her voice only a little bit louder than a whisper.
"Hey." Makoto quickly looked away from her and glared at Ken who had removed his arm from around her shoulders. His face was a pale shade of pink.
"Miaka." He stared at the redhead. "Shopping?"
Miaka, who finally removed her eyes from Makoto, blushed deeply. "Umm… yeah, just a little." She clinched her bags tightly and held them closer to her. "Well, I guess I better get going." And she walked away. Makoto noticed that she looked slightly downcast.
Ken stared at her as she went.
"I guess you still haven't asked her then?" Makoto tried to hide it but her tone revealed her bitterness. Ken didn't seem to have noticed.
"Not yet. I've got a plan you know. It has to be just right."
"So when is it going to be just right?" She asked impatiently.
"You'll see." And he winked at her. "Come on, let's go in here. You can help me pick out a tux." He grabbed her hand and pulled her into the nearby Tuxedo shop.
After Ken brought his Tuxedo he dragged Makoto into a jewelry store to help him pick out something for Miaka.
As Ken gazed at charm bracelets Makoto came across a necklace that caught her eye. It was a silver chain with a cross pendant. She was never a fan of jewelry but for some reason this necklace transfixed her.
"It is pretty nice." Ken startled her as he came up beside. She looked up and shook her head.
"Yeah well, I could never afford it."
"Excuse me," Ken called for the woman behind the counter. "Could my friend try this on?"
Makoto's face grew hot from embarrassment. "Ken, that's okay. It's not like I can buy it anyway."
Ken smiled. "Yeah, but I want you to try it on. You deserve to wear it once at least."
Makoto felt a warm aura encompass her. It was as if she truly understood how special she was to Ken and his affection for her had covered her entire body.
"Could you hold your hair up?" Makoto did as he asked. She felt Goosebumps as the cold chain touched her neck. The tips of Ken's fingers tickled the back of her neck and she had to restrain herself from shaking.
"There." The weight of the cross fell upon her chest. She glanced at herself in the mirror but quickly fixed her eyes on Ken's reflection instead. He stood behind her and his eyes seemed to penetrate the mirror.
"It's beautiful." He said.
"Really, you think so?"
"Yeah. It would look great on Miaka!"
Makoto's heart dropped.
"Ma'am, I would like to buy this." Ken said as he removed the necklace from around Mako's neck.
Makoto thought he had some nerve to ask her to try it on only to see if it would make a good gift for that stupid girl. Miaka didn't deserve to have anything like that anyway!
She stared at the back of Ken's head and had an urge to bang it in with a baseball bat. Normally she would slap him or call him out when he offended her. But for some reason she couldn't work up the energy to do so now.
"Ugh! I don't know this!" Makoto rubbed the temples of her head to relieve her brain of the stress she was putting it through.
"Of course you do." Ken said as he sat on the floor with his back leaning against the edge of his bed. "Come on, its not that hard."
"Well it is for me. Not everyone is a genius like you, Ken." Makoto said as she laid belly down on his bed. He was tutoring her in Geometry, her least favorite subject.
He smiled at the compliment. "This is true." He said before snickering. Makoto glared at him. "But you're smart too. Come on… what's the Pythagorean Theorem?"
Makoto groaned. She closed her eyes and tried to find a photographic memory of it. "Umm… I think it's a square plus b square." She opened her eyes in anticipation of her result.
"Err… what else?"
Ken gave her a sympathetic smile. Makoto howled and threw her arms up in defeat before burying her face in his bed.
"Why don't we take a break?"
She nodded in agreement.
"Speaking of my genius, check out the score I got on my Chem. Exam." He smugly pulled the test out of his bag and handed it to her. A large letter A written in red ink laid at the top of the page.
He shined his nails on his sweat jacket. "Well, I tried –"
Makoto leaned forward and grabbed him into a tight embrace. She felt so proud of him at that moment.
"I get A's all the time and I can't remember you ever rewarding me with a bear hug."
Makoto released him quickly and blushed. "Oh."
Ken gazed at her with his blue eyes and smiled. A light blush covered his cheeks. "Not that I mind."
She felt her heart pound so hard in her chest that she was sure Ken could hear it too. 'Stop it.' She told her heart, but it didn't seem to be listening.
"I kind of reacted the same way when we got our test back in class today. I was so excited that I grabbed Miaka and spun her around."
It was like a dark cloud had come over her. She felt her face hardened and the pounding of her heart was replaced by a squeezing sensation.
"I don't think she liked it too much though. She seemed a little cold and distant when I put her down."
"That's because you haven't asked her out yet!"
Ken slowly turned to face her. He looked at her strangely. The ringing quality and bitterness in her voice gave him a sense of unease.
"I know that!" He said angrily, unaware that he was shouting. "I'm going to ask her. I told you I will when the time is right!"
"When will the time be right, Ken!"
"I've got a plan."
They silently glared at each other. Ken turned away finally then cleared his throat. "What's got you so grumpy anyway?"
Makoto gazed at the floor. Why was she grumpy? She didn't really know why. Or at least she didn't want to know.
"I know what will cheer you up."
She looked at him suspiciously. Ken laughed before grabbing her and pulling her off the bed. Her back fell into his lap and her legs upon the floor. She was too dumbstruck to move or even to think. He assaulted her with his fingers. She screamed loudly as he tickled her. She laughed although inside she was mortified. Her body was not reacting the way it normally would when being tickled. This felt wrong. But Ken had no idea of what was going through her body or mind.
When he finally stopped, he laughed as he struggled to catch his breath. Makoto laid still, her body stiff, on his lap. She wanted to run away but felt too awkward to make any sudden movements.
He looked down and stared at her. A few strands of hair lie messily on her face. He brushed them away with his fingers causing her to look up at him for the first time. She recognized the look upon his face and it frightened her. It was the same as it had been before he kissed her just a few nights ago. The memory of it came flooding back to her and instinctively and suddenly she sat up and moved away from him. She felt herself shake nervously as she balled her legs up to her chest.
"So…" She said as she tucked her hair behind her ears with trembling fingers. "You were teaching me the Pythagorean Theorem, right?"
Ken snapped back to reality and nodded as he licked his lips. "Right… right… umm… so, you like…" he laughed nervously before scooting over to get closer to her. "You have a Right Triangle, see." He pointed to a diagram in her book. Makoto nodded.
"There's side a, side b, but you need to find side c."
Makoto was too busy staring into his ocean blue eyes to understand a word he said.
It was a cool Thursday afternoon. The autumn air chilled Makoto's skin, causing her to zip her jacket to the top and dig her hands into its pockets at once after exiting the school. She walked onto the campus determinedly. She was to meet someone, at least that's what the note she found in her locker led her to believe.
She hadn't a clue as to who the anonymous note was from. She thought it could be some sort of set up, maybe Hitomi and her group of cheerleaders were planning to ambush her. Makoto laughed. She had a good feeling that she could take them all on. Or maybe it was Tenshi, the cute skater boy she went out on a semi-date with. Maybe he was planning to surprise her with flowers and an invitation to the Formal. That idea warmed her up as she walked towards the bench the note writer asked her to meet them at.
She stopped in her tracks when she saw her. Miaka Kawa sat alone quietly on the same bench the note mentioned. She was dressed in a black pea coat with a blue scarf wrapped tightly around her neck. Her arms were wrapped around her waist and she carefully rocked herself back and forth. The wind blew her curly red hair back and her cheeks were almost just as red. Her pointy nose was crimson and a small droplet of clear liquid hung from it.
Makoto shifted uneasily. For a moment she though she understood why Ken liked her so much. A pile of dead leaves crumpled under her foot and alerted Miaka of her presence.
The redhead looked up in surprise before giving a shaky grin. Makoto walked forward and sat beside her on the bench. For some reason she found it hard to hate her at the moment.
"You came." Miaka spoke.
Makoto ignored her and dug in her back pack to find her small pack of tissues.
"I was afraid you wouldn't come."
She handed her a tissue. Miaka took it with a shivering hand.
"Thanks." She said smiling. She wiped her nose with it before turning towards the other girl.
Makoto refused to look at her but through her peripheral vision she could see that the redhead was smiling. This irritated her and she turned her head completely away from the smiling girl, so that now she was only smiling at the back of her ponytail.
Miaka sighed and looked away as well. "I don't want to waste anymore of your time Makoto, so I'll just come out and ask you." She turned back towards her. "Are you dating Ken?"
Makoto snapped around quickly and gave the other girl an incredulous look.
"Are you dating Ken?"
The look of incredulousness upon her face intensified as she observed Miaka's earnestness. For a moment she considered telling her yes.
"No." She said finally, with a forced tone of indifference.
Miaka's face relaxed and Makoto thought she heard her give a soft sigh of relief. Makoto shook her head in disbelief.
"So you aren't going to the formal with him then?" Miaka asked.
"No." Makoto said firmly.
Miaka gave a tiny laugh and shook her head. "So I guess that means he doesn't like me then."
Makoto looked at her contemptuously.
"I've always liked him. I don't think anyone else knows that." She stared at some far off trees. "Even when he was just a geeky kid in glasses. He just always seemed so kind… and so gentle. Like he would never hurt anyone." She faced Makoto and smiled weakly. "There aren't too many people like him in this world."
"What makes you think he doesn't like you?" She asked impatiently.
Miaka blinked. "Because he hasn't asked me to the formal –its two days away, so I guess he never will."
Makoto grabbed her bag and stood up quickly. "He will." She said grudgingly as she stormed off.
"So I finally found a pair of shoes that match my dress perfectly." Yuki said over the phone.
"Oh, you did?"
"Yeah, but the only thing is that they're like four inches and I can't walk in heels. I think I may have to lean on you all night, or at least sit down the entire time."
"You'll do fine." Makoto said quietly as she held the phone limply.
"You okay, Makoto? You sound a little down."
"Huh… oh, yeah. I'm fine." Makoto lied as she thought about her meeting with Miaka earlier that day.
"I don't think I'll be going to the formal now. I changed my mind."
"Yeah, I don't think I want to go."
"No! You're going! How can you change your mind like that!"
"I just don't feel up to it, that's all." She shrugged for no one to see.
"No way! I don't believe this! You said you would go with me. Now what am I suppose to do? Go alone? Oh, come on Mako. You can't do this to me!"
She began to feel guilty. "You'll be fine. Risako, Kaori and Momo will be there too."
"But they have dates! I'll be the only loser there by myself. You know how they are with guys. They're probably all planning to go to some motel after the formal anyway."
"No they're not. They're all talk and no action anyway. You know how they are."
"Don't try and change the subject, Mako! The point is I'll be alone. And what about you? What about that the awesome dress you were planning on wearing?"
"What about all that work you put into it. Do you just want that to go to waste?"
"Come on! You kept bragging to us about how you found this dress of your grandmothers and how you made adjustments to it and how it now kicks ass. You said that you and I were going to look better than all of those cheerleaders, not because we wanted to but just because we could."
Makoto laughed. "Yeah."
"So what's the problem?"
Makoto thought of her dress and imagined herself in it and Ken declaring his undying love to her. She was slightly disturbed to find that she was pleased by the last part but couldn't help but smile broadly.
"Alright. I'll go."
"Yay! I know you won't regret this."
Makoto sighed. She wasn't sure about that.
Makoto cheered from the stands as she watched Ken and the rest of the basketball team play in their season opener. Ken had just scored a three pointer, tying the game at the last minute. With only thirty seconds left on the clock the game was sure to go into over time. The gym was inaudible due to the loud celebration throughout the stands. Yuki and Makoto hugged as they jumped up and down in excitement. Even Tenshi, who always kept a stoic demeanor, got to his feet and high fived the guy sitting in front of him.
Makoto looked down unto the court and saw Ken toweling his face off and drinking deeply from a bottle of water. He stood on the sidelines, excited, jubilant, anxious and terrified all at once. The game wasn't over yet, he had only assured his team more time. The excitement that surrounded him only made him more nervous and the deafening sounds of celebration seemed to echo in his head. He bent over double, nauseous.
Makoto's euphoria died down and was replaced by anxiety as she watched him. She put her hands together and brought them to her mouth in silent prayer.
The over time bell buzzed and Ken finally looked up. His blue eyes caught Makoto's and she was reminded of the day she taught him how to play. She sighed and felt her knees buckle before giving him a wide smile. His face broke into a grin and Makoto's face warmed. She mouthed 'I believe in you' and he nodded his head in understanding before walking back into the center of the court.
The cheerleaders began a loud cheer and Makoto watched as Miaka jumped excitedly and lifted her pom-poms into the air. She rolled her eyes.
The game went on for another ten minutes without either team scoring. The tension in the air was thick and Ken's face was covered with sweat as he ran up and down the court. Makoto's gaze shifted towards the cheerleaders again who were now sitting quietly on the sidelines.
Miaka sat with the squad and her fingers clinched her skirt tightly. Her heart was beating what seemed like triple time as she watched Ken play in frustration. She felt sorry for him despite the blatant indifference he showed towards her. Despite what Makoto said she found it hard to believe that he would ask her to the formal when it was less than twenty-four hours away. She pushed the thought to the back of her mind and bit the bottom of her lip; it was as if the game were being played in slow motion.
"Cracker Jacks! Everyone get your Cracker Jacks!" A kid carrying a tray of cracker jacks interrupted the silence in the gym. Miaka turned her head in his direction and eyed him suspiciously. Where had he been all game and why had he decided to sell snacks only at the very end. The young vendor caught her gaze and stared at her for a moment before smiling. He quickly walked towards her and thrust a box of Cracker Jacks into her lap. She stared down at the box for a moment before looking up at him. The other cheerleaders giggled and looked on in confusion.
"What is this?" Miaka asked vaguely. The vendor smiled.
"It's for you pretty." He winked at her. "Don't worry about paying, it's on me... Oh, and there's a surprise in every box."
Miaka stared on in confusion as he walked away. The other cheerleaders laughed and Hitomi gave her a shove in the arm. "Open it for goodness sakes. Let's see what it is." She urged.
Miaka reluctantly opened the box with a shaking hand. She peered into its dark contents and saw something glimmer from the bottom. Her heart rate sped up as she anxiously tipped its contents into her lap. Hitomi screamed and the other girls pointed and whispered. Lying on her lap was a gold charm bracelet.
"Oh my gosh!" Hitomi said in disbelief. Miaka was stunted but managed to pick the bracelet up with a shaking hand. It shined and glimmered as it hung from her grasp. It seemed too perfect to be real.
"And there's a note!" Hitomi grabbed the note that lay in Miaka's lap and unfolded it before handing it to her.
The short message was written in large colorful letters: Miaka, will you go to the formal with me –Ken.
Miaka laid the letter onto her lap and the audience broke into loud cheering. The team had scored and the over time clock had only ten seconds left. Miaka stood up and searched for Ken in the middle of the celebration on the court. He emerged between team mates. His smile left his face when he saw her staring back at him. She nodded her head and said yes. He ran towards her and pulled her into a tight hug. He trembled as he felt her heartbeat against his chest.
"Really?" He whispered into her ear. She untangled herself from him and stared him deeply in the eye before kissing him on the cheek.
Makoto watched it from the stands. The world around her moved in slow motion and she felt as if her heart had taken a blow from a hammer. Her stomach tightened and the room began to gently rock from side to side. Her body flushed and a light sweat broke out onto her forehead. Feeling nauseous she fell sideways into Yuki.
"Oh my gosh! Are you okay?" Yuki guided her to her seat and placed a cold hand on Makoto's forehead. Makoto, finding it hard to sit up, leaned into Yuki who wrapped her arm around her in concern.
"What's wrong?" Tenshi asked anxiously as he quickly sat beside her. The sounds around Makoto were dying out and she closed her eyes as she continued to lean onto Yuki.
"I think she's sick! Let's get her home!"
Hikari placed a warm hand on her daughter's forehead.
"Are you sure you're well enough to go?"
Makoto nodded her head before taking a sip of orange juice. Hikari frowned.
"Alright. You're temperature is back to normal and you no longer feel warm so I guess its okay."
"I'll be fine." She found it hard to look at her reflection as her mother brushed her hair. All of her quirks and flaws seemed to be magnified. She discovered that one eyebrow was higher than another. She looked down into her lap in frustration.
Ken's jaw dropped when he saw Yuki waiting in Makoto's living room. She wore a baby blue dress that was form fitting and stopped mid thigh. Yuki wrapped her shawl around her modestly and gave him a weak hello.
"You look incredible." Ken said with a warm smile. Yuki hated herself for it but she couldn't help the light blush that spread over her face.
"Well, you look just handsome, young man!" Yuki's mother, Mijin, said loudly. Ken wore a black penguin tuxedo with a cream bow tie and vest.
"Why thank you, ma'am." Ken said politely.
"He brought the first thing he saw. I told him not to pick one out unless I was there with him." Kathy, Ken's mother, said as she wiped non-existent lint off his jacket.
"I did not; Makoto helped me pick this out." He said defensively as he shoved his mother's hand away.
"Well, I just don't see why you girls couldn't get dates. You look too pretty not to have a handsome boy escorting you!" Mijin said.
Yuki blushed deeply from embarrassment. "That's because no one asked." She said through clenched teeth.
"Everyone!" Hikari hollered from the top of the stairs. "Makoto will be down shortly." She ran to the bottom of the stairs and grabbed her camera.
Ken bounced on his toes excitedly and Yuki giggled nervously.
"She's not going to look better than my Yuki." Mijin whispered to Kathy.
"Get down here already, Mako!" Hikari hollered impatiently.
She emerged timidly from the shadows and her audience gasped. She stood at the top of the stairs like a goddess set aflame in her red satin gown.
Ken stared. He was breathless. He gulped deeply and shifted awkwardly. Looking at her now seemed like the hardest thing he ever tried to do.
The gown was strapless and long with a small train in the back. It once belonged to her grandmother but today it looked as if it was created just for Makoto. Her long dark brown hair was pulled up into a bouquet of curls and baby rose buds were placed carefully into them. Her makeup was simple but it made her look more grown up than ever. She wore a red gloss on her lips and blush on her cheeks. Her mascara and eyeliner brought out her sea green eyes.
Flashes of light filled the room as she descended the stairs. "She looks so beautiful!" Mijin exclaimed as she took another picture. Kathy wiped a tear from her eye and held her hand to her chest as she grinned at Makoto.
"Wow!" Yuki said before running awkwardly to Makoto in her four inch heels and pulling her into a hug. "You look amazing."
Makoto smiled brightly. "So do you." She certainly didn't feel like regretting her decision now.
Taichi grabbed his daughter by the hand and squeezed it tightly. "You look so much like your mother." He whispered in her ear. Makoto felt so warm and so happy, happier than she had felt in a long time.
"Let me get a picture of you two." Hikari said as Makoto and her father posed for the camera.
"You look… just… wow." Ken said as he shook his head at a lost for words. Makoto turned towards him in surprise. She hadn't noticed him in the entire ruckus. She felt her heart sink and she quickly looked away from him.
"Let's get a picture with you and Ken." Kathy said.
Ken stood next to Makoto and handed her a small gift bag.
"Here, this is for you." He said. Confused, she took the bag reluctantly and stared at it.
"What is it?"
Ken chuckled. "Just open it and see."
She found a black box inside. She looked at Ken suspiciously; he was now trying to contain a smile but doing a bad job at it. She opened to box and gasped; she nearly dropped it from shock. Inside was the silver chain necklace with the cross pendant she saw at the jewelry store earlier that week. She trembled from surprise and felt her eyes well up with tears.
"Ken." She said softly as she looked up at him. He laughed.
"Do you like it?"
She threw her arms around his neck, catching him off guard and they nearly fell. He laid his hands on her warm back and took in the sweet smell of her hair.
"I thought you got this for Miaka." She said as she abruptly pulled back.
Ken felt a bit disoriented from the shock of Makoto's warmth being replaced by the cold air in the room.
"You don't think I'm that much of a jerk, do you?"
Makoto paused and gave him a playful frown.
"Put it on her already!" Mijin shouted. The two of them had forgotten about everyone else in the room. It was as if they were the only two in it. Yuki giggled and blushed and Makoto noticed that everyone wore wide smiles on their faces.
"Alright then –I will!" Ken snatched the box from out of Makoto's hands. Everyone laughed. Flashes of light filled the room as he placed the chain around her neck. She felt happier than she could ever remember being before.
"Just one more picture now. I want to get one with you two posing." Hikari said behind her camera.
Ken wrapped his arm around Makoto's waist and grinned widely. She couldn't help but smile as well. With one last flash of light, Ken looked down at his watch and said goodbye.
"I'm going to be late picking up my date." He smiled warmly and a deep blush covered his face. The smile on Makoto's quickly faded and suddenly it was as if she were back to reality. The misery that had escaped her for just a few moments returned.
"I'll see you later Mako, Yuki." He waved as he walked towards the door.
The audience bid him goodnight, but Makoto stood quietly, he face hardened. The door closed behind him and his presence was replaced by a bitter chill.
"I think he should have taken one of you girls!" Mijin said.
She descended the staircase like an angel, dressed in all white. Her curly red hair was pulled up and held in place by a sparkling barrette. Small diamonds were clasped in each ear and her low cut satin gown revealed a round diamond lying on her chest that hung from a silver necklace. Her shawl was made of white fur and she held it playfully in her arms. She smiled down at him. He felt as if fireworks were inside his chest.
Ken held out his hand as Miaka stepped onto the floor. He wrapped a white rose corsage on her wrist and she pinned a tiny one onto his jacket. Her parents were quiet, but took one picture before the two teens escorted themselves from out of the mansion. He held the door open for her and she entered his car happily. He buckled himself in and silently thanked God for the heavenly being that sat beside him. He bit his lip to be sure it wasn't a dream. The sharp pain assured him that it was real and he pulled off, the happiest he had ever been in his life.
Makoto and Yuki entered the gym and were greeted by disbelieving stares and whispers. Makoto did not care but Yuki felt embarrassed as she walked awkwardly while leaning on Makoto. They found their table and Risako, Kaori and Momo hugged them excitedly as they told them how great they looked. Makoto stood stiffly and did not thank them. She sat down and stared around the lavishly decorated room, looking for Ken.
"Guess who just walked in." Kaori said as she pointed behind Makoto. She turned around and found Shinji entering the room with two dates, one for each arm. Makoto turned around and hissed in disgust.
"He has two dates!" Risako said.
"What a pig!" Makoto said angrily.
"Hey, don't hate the player, hate the game." Risako's date said. Makoto rolled her eyes and stared at the table bitterly.
"So Ken's coming with Miaka?" Momo asked.
Makoto glared at her. "Yeah, what are you asking me for since you already seem to know."
"Well, sorry! I was just asking since Hitomi had the entire Formal Committee working overtime this morning trying to change the ballots for King and Queen to include those two." Momo defended. Makoto only glared at her again.
"I bet they look great together. Two perfect looking people like that should not hook up. You need some plainness in there some where to offset the beautifulness." Risako said. Everyone laughed but Makoto.
"What's gotten into you? Why are you so evil today?" Kaori asked angrily. Makoto rolled her eyes. An upbeat song began to play and the sound of chairs moving and excitement filled the room.
"This is my song!" Risako said loudly. "Come on, let's dance." She grabbed her date and Kaori and Momo followed suit.
"You want to dance, Mako?" Yuki asked as they were the only two left at the table. Makoto crossed her arms and shook her head.
"I don't feel like it."
Yuki huffed and looked around the room. "Come on. I love this song."
"You're no fun!" The two of them sat quietly for the rest of the song. Yuki gave Makoto evil glares but the other girl only ignored her.
"You want to dance?"
Yuki looked up in surprise. It was Gin, a member of the basketball team.
"Okay." She said softly as she struggled to get to her feet. She looked over at Makoto but the other girl only gave her an icy glare.
Makoto sat alone at the table and stared around the room. People were dancing, posing for pictures, chatting excitedly and looking overall happy. She felt out of place and regretted ever coming.
A while later Kaori and her date returned to the table but completely ignored Makoto as they started making out right in front of her. She felt sickened by the sight and turned her chair in the opposite direction. Loud applause filled the room and she looked up to find Ken and Miaka entering the gym together. The DJ announced that the basketball champion Kenneth Brown had entered with his date and a spotlight covered the smiling couple. Makoto stared on as they walked to their table. Ken pulled a chair out for Miaka and she sat down happily. Makoto had never hated the girl more than she had at that moment. She turned away and sunk into her own chair. Her head throbbed as she stared at the navy blue table clothe. She decided that food was what she needed. It would keep her good company.
She walked to the snack table and poured herself some punch.
"Nice dress." Startled, she turned around and found Shinji standing behind her. She turned away and filled her plate with food. Shinji laughed.
"I thought you would clean up nice."
"Aren't the two ho-bags you brought as dates missing you right now?" Makoto said as she slammed a doughnut unto her plate. Shinji hissed.
"Didn't wake up on the right side of the bed today, did you?"
"I was fine until I saw your ugly face."
Shinji laughed again. "I would be insulted if I didn't know that you secretly think I'm sexy."
Makoto gave him a sharp look before pushing past him. He grabbed her hand, startling her and causing her body to give an involuntary shiver.
"Get off me!"
He pulled the plate of food out of her other hand and sat it down on the table. Makoto shook her hand violently to release it from his grasp but he held it too tightly.
"I said get off me!" Her face grew red.
"What you need is to dance." He wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her to the dance floor.
"Get off me, Shinji! I'm warning you!" She urged as he dragged her to the floor.
"This is what I mean. You're so tense about everything. A little dancing will get you all loosened up." He said with a broad grin.
"Stop!" Makoto said as they stepped onto the dance floor. An upbeat song was playing and Shinji grabbed Makoto's arms and moved them playfully as he twisted and turned his own body to the rhythm of the music. He looked so ridiculous that Makoto couldn't help but laugh.
He smiled at her reaction and started running backwards in place. Makoto tried to hold back a laugh but it exploded from her mouth.
"See, I told you this would make you feel better."
"No, I just like seeing you make an ass out of your self."
Shinji turned around and bent over, slapping his behind and pushing it up against Makoto. She laughed even harder.
"Grab it. Come on, grab it."
Makoto stepped back and shook her head as she tried to cover the broad smile on her face.
"Come on." Shinji grabbed both her hands and placed them unto his hips. Makoto hollered with laughter and Shinji pressed his butt against her pelvis and shook it in circular motions. Makoto tried to ignore the warmth she felt in her belly and began to dance to the lively song.
Shinji turned back around and faced her and danced along with her. Makoto smiled as they danced and Shinji couldn't help but notice the wild blush that covered her face, neck and shoulders.
The upbeat song stopped and was replaced by a slow paced ballad. Shinji paused and his face turned serious as he moved closer to Makoto. She stepped away and pushed him back with her hands.
"I'm thirsty. I think I'm going to get some punch and sit down." She said before quickly turning away and walking back to the refreshment table.
She looked at Ken's table and watched as he led Miaka to the dance floor. She turned away, unable to torture herself any longer. She walked to her seat sullenly and found Yuki being harassed by Touji.
"Come on. Just dance with me. One dance, that's all." Touji pleaded. Yuki stared in the opposite direction.
Touji pulled at her arm. "Come on."
"Get off her!" Makoto shouted. Touji glared at her.
"Mind your damn business. What is she, your girlfriend?"
"No, but I'm about to make you MY girlfriend if you don't leave her alone!"
Touji backed away and cursed bitterly as he walked back to his seat. Yuki looked up at her.
"I saw you dancing with Shinji." She said in a disapproving tone.
Yuki gazed at her and threw her hair over her shoulder before getting up. "I don't want to sit here next to you. You're ruining my night!"
"We'll go on. You're not much fun either!"
Yuki rolled her eyes. "I will." And she wobbled off.
Makoto found herself sitting alone once again. She glanced at the dance floor and watched as Miaka laid her head on Ken's shoulder as they danced. She turned back to her plate of food and stuffed a powdered doughnut into her mouth. A warm tear slid down her cheek and she wiped it away quickly before inhaling a cheese puff.
When her plate was empty she wiped another tear from her face and turned to get more food. She looked up and saw Ken.
"Hey." He said with a warm smile. His face was glowing and his eyes twinkled. He looked so happy. Makoto looked down.
"Hey." She said.
"You've got something on your lip."
Mortified Makoto wiped her moth with her napkin. "Is it gone now?"
Ken shook his head and smiled. "Here." He leaned forward and grabbed her napkin before wiping the powder off her top lip. Makoto felt little electric shocks as his fingers brushed her lip. "There. It's gone." He smiled. Makoto couldn't bear to look into his blue eyes.
"You want to dance?" He asked. Makoto stared at him.
Ken laughed. "Do you want to dance?"
She nodded. He held out his hand and she placed her own into it. He held it softly, his hand felt warm around her own, as he led her to the dance floor. A slow song started and Ken awkwardly placed his hands on her waist and she nervously held his shoulders. They looked at each other before laughing awkwardly.
As they softly rocked with the rhythm Makoto relaxed. She remembered the time they went to her Aunt's wedding and her mother made them dance together when she was thirteen. She laughed.
"What?" Ken asked.
"Nothing… just thinking about something."
She thought of the day they met and remembered how scared he looked. She remembered sneaking into his first rated R movie and the food fight they caused. She remembered the first time he ever made a basket and how happy and proud of himself he was. She thought of the way he looked lying in bed after having his knee sprained by Shinji, and how she cried.
She took a deep breath and leaned her head on his shoulder. Ken was surprised but pulled her in closer. She wrapped her arms more tightly around him and closed her eyes. As they rocked to the music Makoto felt as if she were in the most comfortable place she had ever been in before. Here in Ken's arms she felt warm and cared for. She could almost drift into a dream.
The music stopped and Ken pulled away from her. Her eyes fluttered open and she was back in the real world.
"Its time to announce our Harvest King and Queen!" The DJ said over the microphone. The room exploded in cheers. Hitomi walked onto the stage while holding an envelope.
"Okay guys. The moment you have all been waiting for." Hitomi said excitedly. Makoto rolled her eyes.
"Our Harvest King and Queen are." She hurriedly opened the envelope. Her face lit up in a large smile. "Kenneth Brown and Miaka Kawa!"
Ken turned to Makoto in shock. His face was white as a ghost. The spot light fell on him and the audience broke out into applause. Miaka came out of nowhere and wrapped her arms around him.
"Its now time for our King and Queen to lead us into the last dance of the night."
A slow song played and Miaka and Ken danced in the middle of the floor. A large circle of onlookers gathered around them.
Miaka leaned her head unto his shoulder and he pulled her in close. The scene was surreal to Makoto. She couldn't believe that it was real.
Miaka looked up at Ken and he cupped her face into his hand. He leaned forward and kissed her lips.
Makoto felt as if the wind had been knocked out of her. She backed away and turned to the opposite direction. She could not watch it. She pushed through the crowd and ran towards the back exit. She ran out of the gym into the parking lot. The cool air hit her skin and made everything seem real again. She looked up into the sky and watched the stars. They were the same stars Ken had kissed her under. And now he was kissing Miaka.
Her stomach gave an involuntary squeeze and pulled inward. She gasped for air and warm tears fell from her eyes. She wiped them away but more continued to fall and her breathing grew heavier. Her heart burned stronger than it had ever burned before in her entire life. It burned and it squeezed with the most awful pain. And then the truth hit her like a ton of bricks –she was in love with Ken.
So please tell me why
Don't you come around no more?
'Cause right now I'm dyin'
Outside the door
Of your lovin' store
It just takes a little bit of this, a little bit of that
It started with a kiss now we're up to bat
A little bit of laughs, a little bit of pain
I'm tellin' you my babe, its all in the game of love
Akilah's Note: Poor Mako! Oh, poor Mako. What's a girl to do? And will Ken always be so oblivious? Check back for "Chapter 6: Yellow". Its Makoto's 16th birthday and she only wants one thing, but will she get it? And Miaka reveals a shocking secret!
Thanks for reading and remember I love feedback, so please review or send an email.