Disclaimer: Hana Yori Dango is not mine. In any way, shape or form.
Credit: This story is almost certainly the result of that glorious group of people known as fansubbers, because I don't speak Japanese. The dialogue for this story is pulled from the excellent subs by SARS.
That Kind of Girl
Part I: Nosy Friends
"Yuki-chan, you should be careful too. A nosy friend can be really annoying sometimes."
Soujiroh was irritated. Since when had it become his job to baby-sit his friends' romances instead of tending to his own? That Akira was always sticking his nose in where it wasn't necessary.
But Soujiroh knew, deep-down, that even if Akira hadn't been inquiring after Makino at the dango shop, Soujiroh would have gone there on his own. Sometimes he didn't know what was going on behind that dreamy look of Rui's, and yes, Tsukasa was a complete idiot, but those two were his friends. He didn't want their friendship to break up over some girl. Not to mention that Soujiroh didn't want Makino to get hurt. Both he and Akira had come to an unspoken understanding that Makino was the equivalent of a little sister now, and they were going to watch out for her while Tsukasa and Rui battled it out.
So Soujiroh was far more tense than relaxed as he cruised around the city in his private car. Tsukasa's approach to relationships was anything but calming anyway, and Makino only intensified the situation so that when Rui was thrown in, Soujiroh couldn't help but be on edge. He glanced idly at the shoppers and Christmas lights, trying to distract himself. Then he jumped as something caught his eye. It was that girl from the dango shop, Makino's friend. As his car turned the corner, Soujiroh saw that she was clearly distressed. As he prepared to turn his head, Soujiroh saw her stoop and slowly crumple to the ground. "I'm not really good with these types of girls," he mumbled to himself, shaking his head. Why should he help a girl who he would never date? He'd had enough with interfering with other people's problems today. She could just sit there and cry.
Soujiroh felt utterly annoyed with himself as he stepped out of the car. Unfortunately, some other instinct had decided to kick in, overriding all of his sensible objections. He was pretty sure that a few weeks ago, he would have kept driving. But after this crazy week he could no longer isolate himself in his pool of women, oblivious to the problems of his friends. He couldn't just let Makino's friend sit there, sobbing.
He didn't really know how to start so he just stood next to her, not saying anything. Finally, she looked up at him and he crouched down beside her.
"What's the matter?" he asked. He had a pretty good idea, but it wouldn't hurt to have some confirmation.
She tried to speak, but just kept crying. That was enough for Soujiroh to let himself smile in quiet understanding.
"It's Yuki, isn't it?"
This time she managed a "yes" through her tears.
"I think you need to come have some tea. Here, come with me."
Soujiroh saw the distrust in Yuki's face, but luckily she was still too distraught to protest very much and she simply clung to his arm as he helped her up. He allowed himself a moment of pleasure as they walked to his car – there was a kind of happiness in comforting a crying woman. He almost didn't want to admit it to himself, but he liked the feeling of walking someone on his arm who really needed him.
If only my friends were as easy to manage, he thought as he gently handed her into his car.
Yuki's tears had ended by the time they reached his house. It was a good thing, because sitting in the backseat with her, Soujiroh had had the curious urge to stroke her hair and wipe the tears away. He chalked it up to the calming rumble of the car. Now that he was in the house he was back to business. He showed her where to kneel and then fetched the tea. He knew how to handle himself now—after a short lecture he was ready to enact revenge.
She picked up the bowl (not quite correctly) and sipped. Soujiroh smiled as she choked and coughed out a protestory "It's bitter!"
"Isn't it?" He loved the expression on people's faces when they drank tea for the first time. "The first time I drank that as a kid, I couldn't believe people actually drank this stuff. But, the truth is, its bitterness is good. Knowing that, I began walking the path of tea."
Soujiroh paused and relaxed into the wall. This was bad. Already those big-brother feelings he felt about Makino were transferring to her friend. In addition, Yuki was "that" kind of girl…the kind who made him be honest. Soujiroh knew that he would never be able to look in Yuki's eyes and tell a lie. And he knew that his honesty was only going to make him more appealing to her.
Well, he'd consider that later. He let himself go on, speaking sincerely, "It's the same with love. A person matures after going through a painful bitter love. Yuki-chan, this love experience you just had was necessary. You won't make the same mistake next time…alright?"
Yuki still looked despondent for a moment, but then a smile began fighting through and Soujiroh knew that the day was won.
"Yeah," she said, with a nod.
"Okay." Soujiroh smiled himself. She was a smart girl, and sweet. "Shall we get going? I'll go change."
Like he thought, she had no idea what he was planning, as she said, "It's alright. I can go home by myself."
He laughed as he responded, "That's not what I meant. I've been upset today too."
He decided not to explain how much of his kindness to her had stemmed from his frustration with Tsukasa and Rui. He distracted by saying, "So…let's get some revenge."
Now her expression was completely bewildered. "Revenge?"
"Yeah…is that okay with you?"
"Well…" she looked reluctant for a moment and then said, "It would be nice."
Her mix of shame at wanting revenge and her honest desire to get something of her own back made Soujiroh feel good. He'd give this girl exactly what she needed.
"Where will he be?" Soujiroh asked as they got into the car.
"He said something about going to a movie," Yuki said. "Probably the movie theater."
Soujiroh nodded to the driver and they rolled off into the night.
There was a moment of silence and then Yuki asked that fateful question.
"Why are you doing this?"
Soujiroh carefully avoided her gaze. To tell the truth, he wasn't sure how much reasoning had gone into this. There was that annoying big brother instinct—both because she was Makino's friend and his desire to keep people (namely Tsukasa and Rui) out of trouble had been frustrated of late. It didn't mean anything except the simple kindness of a friend. Although Soujiroh had to admit that maybe, just maybe, there was a bit of him that liked this innocent dango shop girl and her straightforwardness, even if he wasn't usually very good with that kind of girl.
He shrugged. "Friends look after each other's friends. And I object to rude men on principle. It's rather ignoble to behave like Nakatsuka did."
Yuki shifted next to him and asked rather harshly, "Isn't that what you do?"
Soujiroh shook his finger in self-defense. "No…not the same at all!"
Yuki gave him a skeptical look.
"Believe it or not, I would feel really guilty if I dumped a girl that really liked me! I don't go out with girls who have any real expectations of me. It's completely different from what Nakatsuka did. Hmph." He deliberately turned away from Yuki and looked out the window.
"Oh." Yuki sounded disappointed.
They entered the movie theater in silence. Soujiroh let Yuki do the looking and simply followed her until she gasped and ducked behind a wall.
The unsuspecting pair was at the end of the corridor where Yuki had stopped. Soujiroh squinted and nodded, "That's him, right?"
Yuki looked suddenly nervous and grabbed the sleeves of his coat. "Are you gonna hit him?"
Soujiroh couldn't help laughing. She was still too forgiving for her own good. "Of course not," he reassured. "I'm just gonna show him what a real man is like."
He strutted down the corridor in his best playboy style. He registered the cries of "Nishikado Soujiroh!" and "No way!" only faintly. He wasn't here to be gratified by praise, but to accomplish a mission.
He paused and stared meaningfully at Nakatsuka's new girlfriend. She stared at him and gushed, "No way! Nishikado Soujiroh?"
Nakatsuka made some objection, but Soujiroh ignored him. Instead he stroked the girl's face.
"You caught my attention with your incredible beauty," he opened.
She completely fell for it. "Really?"
Soujiroh ignored Nakatsuka's additional comment and said, "Would you like to go somewhere with me?"
She was like a little girl, bouncing with excitement. "Oh, yes! Let's go!"
Nakatsuka tried to pull her away, saying, "Come on, let's go!"
As the girl firmly rejected Nakatsuka, Soujiroh felt a gleeful satisfaction at how easy it was to split such a superficial couple.
Nakatsuka responded to his girlfriend's rejection with the expected line, "Do what you want! I'm going back to my ex!"
The girl took it in stride and simply bid him good-bye. But by the time she asked where they were going, Soujiroh's mind was no longer with her at all. Quickly he loosed himself from her grasp, muttered, "Sorry, I've changed my mind…" and strode down the corridor after Nakatsuka.
Yuki was shrinking back behind the wall again. Soujiroh brushed past Nakatsuka and pulled her out, putting his arm around her shoulders and finishing his earlier sentence, "…'cause my favorite girl is here."
Nakatsuka was too stunned by this turn of events to hide his embarrassment. "Yuki…?" he questioned.
Soujiroh was on a high. "What's this? Yuki-chan, do you know him?"
For a moment, Soujiroh was afraid she was going to wimp out on him. But then she calmly responded, "Nope. I think I've seen his face somewhere before though."
Soujiroh wanted to laugh and cry and dance and shout.
It was at this climactic moment that Makino came clattering up the stairs and came to a breathless halt, staring at Yuki, Soujiroh and Nakatsuka. Soujiroh didn't need her "What's going on,"—the bemused expression said it all.
Let her wonder. He wasn't quite done yet.
He let go of Yuki for a moment and knocked Nakatsuka's hat to the ground. Gripping the guy's shirt, he pulled him up on his toes and glared at him.
"The next time you make my girl cry, I'm gonna rip your guts out through your asshole." And curiously, he meant it. If any other guy behaved like this to Yuki, he had a feeling that he'd do this again.
"Being nosy isn't all that bad," he added as an aside to Yuki. Then he put his arm around her again, his heart pulsing with a fierce joy.
Soujiroh finally staggered back into his house early the next morning. What a night. Mostly he felt a deep sense of relief. Tsukasa and Rui had proved their incredible stubbornness yet again (and to the detriment of his face and limbs) but it had all worked out for the best.
And Yuki…Soujiroh let a satisfied smile spread over his face as he fell into bed. That had just been a prelude to the evening's activities, but he was truly glad he'd done it. She intrigued him. All the girls that he went out with were like Nakatsuka's girlfriend…willing to believe any sweet-talking guy that came along, shallow and silly. He was still sure that Yuki was not his kind of girl, but he definitely understood why Tsukasa was so keen on Makino. At least those two girls from a dango shop had more to them than fancy clothes and girly babble.
But then Yuki's question suddenly sounded in his head.
"Why are you doing this?"
Soujiroh groaned and rolled over. The sooner he forgot about this the better. He hated these kinds of girls.