A/N- Happy birthday, Sayosi! -huggles- Hope you like it, luff. See, I actually got it in on time. I'm not fully satisfied with it, but I suppose it'll do. -headdesk- I would have spent more time on it if I could, but I was occupied with sleeping last night. On the bright side, it beat my estimate of two pages. Now, I know it's odd to find errors in one's own present, but please do your best. I've done this on three hours of sleep. Your second present probably won't be done until next week (I ish sorry, but it can't be helped) as I have things planned, one of which is a solid five hours one of these days.
Disclaimer- I do not, in any way, shape, or form, own Mai HiME. But I do have the Shizuru, Natsuki, and Nao gashapon from Otome.
All was quiet at Fuka Academy. Mai and Tate were exchanging not-so-secret looks in class, Chie was taking pictures of said looks and sending them to Aoi, who was trying not to laugh, and Midori was pretending not to notice and hiding her snigger with an even louder explanation of the day's lesson than usual. The majority of the student population were proving to be excellent examples of diligence by trying to study, and those who weren't were at least inside the building. All but two.
"What makes you think I can, or want to, help?"
Natsuki had briefly contemplated going to class and not bothering, but had swallowed her pride and gone to Nao, who was in the process of binding (with good old-fashioned rope) her latest victim. Said victim was imploring Natsuki to help him with his eyes, but was being ignored in lieu of the present situation. Which was, as much as Natsuki hated to admit it, her asking Nao for help. And the task in question was…
"What, you thinking of tying her up?"
"Wha- no! I- we wouldn't- she…"
"Don't knock it 'till you've tried it."
Natsuki fixed Nao with an incredulous stare before flushing a deep shade of red and looking away, muttering "I don't want to know."
Nao smirked, rocking back and forth on her heels. "Then what do you need me for?"
Eyes darting left and right across the alley, Natsuki 'hmmphed' a few times before blurting out, "Well, your area of expertise might- I mean, you know about…"
Glancing down at the hapless man writhing on the ground, Nao hazarded a guess. "You want to gag her?"
Seeing Natsuki's wide-eyed expression, she tried again. "Other way around? Wouldn't have figured you for the type, but I suppose there's some merit to people saying it's always the quiet ones who-"
"N-no! No, it's nothing like…forget it!"
Nao tossed her hair back and experimentally poked the man's head with the end of her foot. "Whatever you say. Now, unless you're going to report me to the Great Leader, shouldn't you be in class? I have business to attend to. This is the last year I can wear this uniform, you know."
The object of her entertainment wiggled desperately in an attempt to get the raven-haired girl to save him from his vaguely terrible fate. Natsuki switched her gaze from Nao to him, then to the entrance of the alley. Sighing, she bent down and pulled his gag out, ignoring Nao's protest of "Oi, Kuga, no messing with the catch!''
Eyes filled with gratefulness mixed with curiousity met hers, and to her dismay and rapidly building annoyance, the first words out of his mouth were, "So you're into bondage, huh? Hot."
Growling, she stuffed the gag back in and glared at him for good measure before hurriedly moving towards the entrance. "Nevermind, you can have him."
Nao smirked, poking him harder. "Hear that? You're all mine."
By the time lunch break came around, Natsuki was fast approaching desperation. She'd returned to the school and managed to escape the teachers whose classes she'd missed, but she was no closer to a solution. Scanning the cafeteria, her gaze fell on Chie, who was edging her way around the corner. Allowing for a moment to weigh pros and cons, she made up her mind and started slowly after her, so as not to attract unwanted attention. She caught up with the gossip queen just as she reached the door of the art classroom. Now if she could just think of a conversation-starter…
"Not eating with Mai and Senou-san today?" It was better than nothing, she supposed. Also, it had only come out semi-strangely.
Chie started and turned, surprise registering on her face. "Kuga-san?" She looked around before holding a finger to her lips. "Shhh. A reliable source told me a meeting between a girl from class 2-3 and a boy from 2-2 was occurring here during lunch, and neither of them is eating right now, which means…"
Oh to hell with rumors.
"Look, Harada, I need advice. You can eavesdrop afterwards." Forward, yes. Effective, occasionally. It seemed this was one of those times, as Chie cast a last despairing glance as the door before motioning for Natsuki to move a few classes down.
"So, what's up?"
Deciding that whoever said 'words can never hurt me' was either deaf or a monk, Natsuki looked at the ceiling, the floor, and the walls before stammering out, "Ah, w-what would you give someone for an anniversary?"
Chie looked surprised for a moment, then recovered. "A wise question. Depends on the type of anniversary. Week, month, year… Then there's the context. Friends, dating, marriage…" she trailed off, ending with an eyebrow wiggle. "Can't help you with that last one, I'm afraid."
Forcing herself not to turn and run and fighting the urge to see if she could sink into the floor, Natsuki ground her teeth and sharply answered, "Dating, and year."
Chie brightened. "Would this concern Fujino-san?"
Natsuki twitched. "None of your business. And if I hear any rumors, I'll tell Mikoto you said Mai's cooking was better than Aoi's."
Holding her hands up in defeat, the other girl grinned nervously. "No need for that. So…are you going for romantic? Sweep-her-off-her-feet type thing?"
Natsuki shrugged. She just wanted this ordeal to end. Maybe she should have asked to talk to Aoi away from Mai, but then her friend would have known something was up, and once she found out there'd be no end to the teasing. "Sure."
The art room momentarily forgotten, Chie put her hand to her chin in the classic 'thinking' pose. "Flowers are always good. Lilies, roses- oh! Go with the rose. Very romantic. Red is the best, but you might throw a white one in just for flair. Also good are clothes, as long as they're not the ordinary sort. Dresses, lingerie…good times."
Natsuki flushed and tried very, very hard not to bang her head against the wall. Before she could think of a remark that wasn't as rude as usual, the other girl shook her head and continued. "It never hurts to get something that shows you remember something you did together. Like a souvenir, or anything that sparks a memory. And if all else fails, treat her to something fancy. You can't go wrong with-"
A cry from the art room cut her off. "Kenji-san, it's beautiful!"
Chie spun around, her trusty cellphone back in her hand in an instant. "-jewelry," she finished, rushing back to the door and trying to open it without the occupants of the room noticing. Natsuki blinked, then headed back towards the cafeteria.
Here endeth the lesson, it seems.
After what felt like an eternity, the bell rang and hordes of eager students left the building. Friday was a time for leaving school ASAP. Natsuki stood up and began stuffing books back into her bag before belatedly realising she wasn't she only one in the classroom. Akane was standing in the corner, looking out the window. Natsuki opened her mouth, then closed it again.
Nah, there's really no-
Then again, she needed all the help she could get. The earlier desperation was rapidly deteriorating into frantic brainstorming. "Hey."
The other girl jumped, whirling around skittishly before seeing it was only her. "Oh, Kuga-san! Did you need something?"
For the third time that day, Natsuki prepared herself for self-induced torture. "What…what did Kazuya do on your anniversary?"
She had been expecting Akane to ask why she needed that information, so she was incredibly relieved when talk came instead of questions. "Kazu-kun? He came to my place at seven o'clock sharp, and we went out to this really great restaurant, and the waiters started singing, and then I realised he'd paid them in advance, and we ate all this wonderful food, and he gave me a rose and said he loved me, then we went home and he had this idea involving melted chocolate and-"
No. Just…no. "Uh…thanks. That sounds nice." Without giving the other girl a chance to respond (though she probably wouldn't have anyway, as she was occupied with staring dreamily into space) she slung her bag over her shoulder and left the room in a hurry. There had to be an easier way to do things. Nao had suggested… Well, Nao didn't count. It was time to make a list. Chie had said to get roses, or clothes, or mementos, or…
Reaching her motorcycle, she frowned. Which one would Shizuru like best? Suddenly, a light bulb went off in her mind. Why not just get them all? Clothes, jewelry, food that wasn't fried, flowers, some sort of present from somewhere they'd been…nix on the melted chocolate. But regular chocolate would be fine, as long as it was the dark kind. That was the only type Shizuru liked. White was too awful, milk was too sweet.
She stuck her hand inside her bag, fumbling for her wallet. Grasping it, she held it up and checked the amount of money inside. After making sure she had enough to buy everything needed, she replaced it with a mournful sigh and reached for her motorcycle gear.
Shizuru had gotten back from last class of the day around an hour ago, and she was just now putting the finishing touches on dinner. Everything had to be perfect for when Natsuki got back. Several rice balls lay on a plate set to the side of the table; umeboshi for herself, salmon for Natsuki. Two bowls of chazuke were next to that, along with some fried chicken that had taken a good deal of courage to obtain from one of the fast-food places near their apartment. It might be edible if she drowned out the taste with the wine she'd bought specially for the occasion. Finally, strawberry daifuku. That was something they both enjoyed.
Setting a vase with a single red rose on it in on the center of the table, she sighed. Now all that was missing was Natsuki. Thanks to her wearing an apron over her plain brown skirt and shirt of a slightly lighter shade, there was no need to change. There was only the waiting, which had never been one of her strong points. People assumed it was, but there was a reason she had always been the first out of the door after student council meetings.
She shifted from one foot to the other restlessly before drifting towards the table to make sure everything was in place for the umpteenth time. Her subsequent journey to the couch was interrupted by a thump on the door. It couldn't be called a knock, not really. She hurried to answer it, almost tearing it open in her enthusiasm before halting in the entrance, the smile that had begun to form changing to a puzzled look. She arched an eyebrow quizzically at the apparition standing in the doorway.
Her first confused thought was that someone had held a garage sale in front of her door. There were three boxes piled one on top of the other, fabric of some sort draped over them that very nearly reached the ground, and several objects on top of the boxes that she had barely began to make out when the pile moved towards her. She had a moment to wonder why the garage sale had legs before it fell inwards on top of her. Briefly, she observed with detached astonishment a box of chocolates closely followed by a bouquet sailing over her head to land somewhere behind her as she crashed to the floor.
The world went dark for a few moments before the fabric (a scarf?) was pulled off her face and she was treated to the sight of a very flushed Natsuki on top of her, peering at her with surprise bordering on hysteria.
"Shizuru! Are you- sorry, I- you-"
"Natsuki," she began, then stopped, gazing at the floor around her with curiousity. "What…?"
To her amusement, the girl over her turned a darker shade of red. "Ah, that's… Nao had really stupid ideas and Harada said flowers and clothes were good and Akane said food and- and chocolate, but I didn't know what to get so I got them all, and-"
Shizuru placed a finger over Natsuki's lips, effectively silencing her. "So all this is for me?"
She received a nod in return. Happy with the answer, Shizuru smiled softly before her look turned impish. "Everything looks wonderful, though I wouldn't object to this being the present."
Realising for the first time the compromising position they were in, Natsuki let out a sound distantly related to a squeak before scrambling to get up. Before she could, Shizuru pulled her back down and kissed her gently, then fiercely, before pulling away and noticing with a flash of pride that the younger girl was panting ever so slightly. Still looked guilty though. She'd have to fix that.
"Silly girl, I said I didn't mind."
With that, she leaned up again, Natsuki managing a breathy 'Happy Anniversary' before her mouth became otherwise occupied. Well, Shizuru thought, I suppose dinner can wait.