Not Quite Over Yet
Disclaimer: I don't own, you don't sue.
Chapter 1: Normal Life
Kuga Natsuki was irritated.
Sure, the whole ordeal was over thanks to a certain nosy friend of hers, but she couldn't help but notice this nagging voice in the back of her head that something wasn't quite finished yet. The whole thing felt like a fleeting nightmare to her. Sometimes she even doubted that she wasn't just trapped in some kind of illusion, her memory of everything that happened in the Carnival was too surreal to be true.
This peaceful school life almost made her believe that she was a normal teenager. A giggly, carefree, hormonal, happy, empty-headed, boring, but nonetheless normal girl.
Being normal was all she wanted, right?
"Oi, you listening?"
She snapped her head up and glared at her friend, who at the moment was looking back at her with mild annoyance on her face. Crap, so what was she talking about just now? I wasn't really listening to her rant.
"I'm listening. What do you want?" she replied impatiently, her arms crossed in front of her chest while one foot tapped repeatedly on the floor.
Mai didn't seem to be put off by her obvious sigh of rejection. "I am talking about this. You. Come on, Natsuki, you know you can tell me, don't you? You have been acting so weird lately."
Oh no, don't go there.
"There is nothing wrong with me." Natsuki narrowed her icy green eyes dangerously, sounding a little more defensive than she'd originally intended. The tapping of her foot had stopped, and instead the raven-haired girl turned and started walking away from her friend.
However, being a friend, and a good one at that, the redhead had no intention of letting this apparently pissed-off girl brush her off like that. "I'm not saying there is. I am just concerned." She followed Natuski closely, determined not to let her slip away this time.
"There is nothing to be concerned about. I'm fine." Natsuki clenched her jaw and walked faster. Damn. Just let it go.
She almost jumped when she felt her friend's hand on her arm. Her violent reaction to the casual touch, however, startled her friend. Mai quickly retracted her hand and apologized.
"I'm sorry. I don't mean to..."
"Save it." Mai's apology was cut short by Natsuki's cold voice.
Mai couldn't help but feeling hurt by the raven-haired girl's unfriendly reply, and she frowned deeply and spoke, "Why are you so irritated? You are... you are so angry lately, if it's possible, even angrier than months ago when everything was still a mess."
"I'M NOT ANGRY!" Natsuki barked at her friend, who was now staring back at her with a "there you go" look on her face. "I'm not angry." She breathed in deeply and then let out a long sigh, now speaking with a much toned down voice. "I'm just... Hmph... a little irritated."
"That's all?" Mai asked in a unbelieving tone. Obviously she knew that there was more to it than her friend was willing to discuss, but she was not about to push her luck by inquiring about this matter further. At least Natsuki admitted that she was "a little" irritated, and that was good enough for now.
"Kyaa! Good day, Kaichou-sama!"
"Good day." Fujino Shizuru, former kaichou of the Fuuka Academy Student Council, gracefully nodded her head toward a crowd of squealing (female) students while on her way to the school dormitory to look for her ice Hime.
Not that it was an easy task, not lately.
She had known the girl for several years, though it seemed short, but who's counting? If anyone had asked before, she would have been the person who could claim to know Natsuki best. However, lately she just wasn't sure anymore. Her dear friend seemed... agitated, whatever the cause of it might be.
She let out a small sigh at the thought of her troubled friend. Ever since the first day they met each other, Shizuru had been aware that Natsuki was very angry. She had a reason to be; the tragic death of her mother made her so. Now that the Carnival was over and the First District was crushed (literally, by Kiyohime), she had imagined that Natsuki would not be so angry anymore. Well, her prediction was correct for the first couple months following the end of Carnival, but now it seemed like it was just her wishful thinking.
Natsuki was still very angry, although not at Shizuru, oddly enough. She should have been the target of all her anger, considering what she had done during the Carnival. Shizuru shook her head slightly, trying to stop herself from recalling that single shameful act of betrayal that had driven her over the edge of sanity. No more of that.
Shizuru thought bitterly as her chestnut hair fell into her unfocused crimson eyes, Yup, leave it to the all-mighty kaichou-sama to really screw things up royally. It's a miracle that it was forgiven... or was it? No, stop doubting. Natsuki told me so, and I am going to believe her, otherwise...
"Shizuru? What are you doing here? Don't you have that family thing you said you were gonna attend?" A cool soothing voice interrupted her self-loathing and brought her back to reality. Shizuru smiled and turned in the direction the voice had come from. A raven-haired girl clad in a tight biker suit was standing there with a helmet in her arm. Oh yes, a very tight biker suit. Shizuru's grin deepened at the thought of that.
"I missed my Natsuki so much, so I decided to hurry back. Did you miss me too?" the taller girl teased with her distinct Kyoto accent, resulting in a very red Natsuki. A very embarrassed Natsuki in a very tight biker suit, that just made my day!
"Baka! It's only been three days..." Natsuki looked away, determined not to look at the teasing girl's face. Would it kill her not to say stuff like that every single time? On second thought, it probably would... And then she saw it in the corner of her eyes: Shizuru was carrying a bag in her hand. "Say, what's that?" She came closer to examine the brown paper bag in the other girl's hand.
Shizuru pulled away.
Just slightly, but it was enough for the shorter girl to notice, and it was enough to drive a violent jolt of pain and anger deep into her chest. "That's a little souvenir I brought back from Kyoto," Shizuru cheerfully explained the contents of the bag, still unaware of the change in the other girl's mood. "Wanna guess what it is?"
Natsuki stared at the bag her smiling friend was holding, her icy glare almost boring a hole through the innocent brown paper bag. "Not interested," she grunted through her teeth and lowered her intense gaze to the delicate fingers holding the bag, but she then quickly turned away and started walking briskly past the chestnut haired girl.
Now realized that her dear friend had suddenly gotten angry for no good reason, again, Shizuru opened her mouth and tried to say something about it, but she quickly decided against it. Natsuki is the kind of girl who would only talk if she wants to. There is no use pushing her.
"Well? Are you coming or not?" Irritated, Natsuki whipped around and frowned at her friend, who was still standing there trying to figure out the situation.
Coming? The usually graceful Kyoto beauty now looked a little dazed by her friend's question. Where?
"Hurry up. I want to change out of this. The heat is killing me." She plowed through her long blue mane with her gloved hand carelessly. Wearing a full-body leather suit and a heavy helmet under the early summer blaze was not such a good idea after all, Natsuki took a mental note. Although it did seem like a great idea when the wind blew pass her hair as she pushed her bike to the limit a while ago. Now it just seemed like a drag.
Chuckling lightly, ruby eyes glinting with mischief, Shizuru walked up to Natsuki and grinned. "Ara, are you asking me to help you take off your clothes?" She smells nice. She breathed in the sweet scent that belonged only to the raven-haired girl, feeling a faint but familiar feeling flustering in her chest. She smells nice.
Almost instantly, Natsuki's face turned bright red, like a shrimp tossed into a pot of boiling water. "Sh... Shut up!" Shizuru could almost see steam coming out of her friend's ears. "Don't say weird stuff like that!"
"Do you even have to ask? Anyone would be if you keep talking like that!"She is pure evil. Natsuki could feel her blood pressure rising. And I'm just asking for it for ever opening my big fat mouth. "I'm leaving."
But the chestnut-haired girl could see that her friend's foul mood had improved. Maybe she likes to be teased. Shizuru's gleeful grin deepened at the thought of that as she followed the now positively fuming girl back to her dorm room.
"Yes, sir. Their bodies were not found."
"They were assumed to be alive."
"Find them and bring them back. You don't need me to tell you just how important they are to us, do you?"
Living alone in a dorm room has its perks, freedom and privacy for example. However, the down side of living alone was that she had to live off junk food, mayonnaise mostly, not that it's a real torture or anything close to it. She couldn't cook without being arrested for arson, so she didn't bother. Instant ramen with a couple spoonfuls of mayonnaise was her definition of a balanced diet.
Although a certain tea-loving girl couldn't disagree more.
"Sit down and wait here. No peeking." Natsuki took off her gloves and placed them inside her overturned helmet before she gave Shizuru a warning glare.
"Hai, hai." The chestnut-haired beauty obeyed and sat down on the sofa, watching her friend disappear behind the bedroom door.
It's not as messy as last time I visited. She cleaned up, Shizuru thought to herself as she looked around the room. The place could still use some dusting, but it wasn't terrible. Considering Natsuki's hatred toward all forms of housework, this was as good as they come. She is paying more attention to her own life, good for her. And this... The Kyoto girl put the brown paper bag down on the coffee table. I hope she will like it.
The bedroom door opened after a few minutes. Natsuki came out of her room, now wearing a simple blue jean with a white tank top, her hair tied into a pony-tail. "Want something to drink?" She asked her guest as she walked toward the kitchen.
"Water is fine."
The reply made the raven-haired girl stop dead in her tracks. She frowned and turned to give her friend a weird look. "Not tea?"
Shizuru chuckled. "I guess the weather is getting to me. It's too hot for tea."
Natsuki looked amused by her friend's reply. "Alright, suit yourself. Water it is." She took out two bottles of mineral water from the fridge and put one on the coffee table. "By the way, how did the family thing go? Was it alright for you to leave early?"
"Natsuki is worrying about me? Ara, I am glad to know that." The older girl successfully made the younger one blush slightly with her playful tone. "The family meeting was merely a formality, nothing important, really. Besides, I have to come back to Fuuka to prepare for the new semester."
"I see." Shizuru did decide to go to Fuuka University after her graduation from Fuuka Academy a month ago, contrary to her earlier declaration of staying behind a year just to be with Natsuki. More accurately, Natsuki insisted that the former kaichou to be more responsible instead of acting like a spoiled brat. Coming from the queen of skipping school, that was saying a lot. Fuuka University was only fifteen minutes by bike from Fuuka Academy after all. They could still see each other every day without too much trouble.
"Would you like to try it on?" Shizuru had opened up the brown paper bag she brought and took out its contents when the other girl wasn't paying attention.
The souvenir was a beautifully made light blue yukata decorated with dark blue wave patterns. It looked very much like the one Natsuki wore when her friend was taking care of her during the Carnival. "This is..."
"When I saw this in Kyoto, I remembered you liked the colour."
Shizuru's voice came out calm and composed, but Natsuki could tell that there was a hint of fear underneath the masked cheerfulness. The dark-haired girl bit back a fleeting ache in her chest and gave her friend a reassuring smile. "Thank you, Shizuru. I like it very much." I told her that all's been forgiven, but she just had to torture herself like that... Baka.
"Say, do you want to go to the summer festival up in Fuuka Shrine with me?" Natsuki took the yukata from the chestnut-haired girl's hand and felt the smooth fabric with her fingers. "It seems like a good occasion to wear this."
"Ara, is Natsuki asking me to a date?"
As expected, Natsuki's cheeks flared up when her friend poked fun at her, but she was not about to back down. A little teasing wouldn't faze her determination of making her most important friend happy. "Do you want to go or not?"
Shizuru was positively beaming now. "If it's what Natsuki wants. I would be honored to go on a date with you."
"It's NOT a date!"
Before Shizuru left, they had made plans to meet in front of Fuuka Shrine at seven that night.
Natsuki never showed up.
1. To new readers who just found this story: thank you for reading this. Please review if you have time, I would really appreciate it.
2. To readers who have been following this story: thank you for sticking with me. I've been meaning to go back and fix my early chapters, and please forgive me for taking so long.
3. Thank you so much, Dr. Leebot! You're an awesome beta. XD.