This is a spin-off of sorts from Summer Home Tales; you know in the manga volume 2 when they go to the summer home and Yukari reveals that Nyamo, who can't put on her own kimono, can tie a man's necktie? Well I figured that was far, far too interesting to go un-written-about.
A twenty-one year old P.E. teacher by the name of Minamo Kurosawa stumbled into her apartment, slightly dizzy through embarrassment.
She had just returned home from a date with quite possibly the strangest man on the planet.
She had not gone out with the man out of choice; her mother had set her up with him, as she was prone to doing. It was the third date in as many months that her mother had arranged for her, and every time Minamo was left wondering why anyone got married voluntarily.
Minamo, for the most part, got on with her mother. They were relatively close as mother and daughter, and agreed on just about every subject with the exception of one: men. Mrs Kurosawa was determined to marry off her daughter as soon as possible to the most wealthy, upstanding man she could. Minamo, who had only just left university and had gotten a job at her old high school, knew - actually, hoped - that her mother was only doing what she was because she felt it was best for her. She 'hoped' because she had a suspicion that her mother thought Minamo and her best friend Yukari were a 'little too close'.
Yukari and Minamo had been friends since forever. They had become friends in their first week of school and had been inseparable ever since. They had attended the same high school and done everything together. After their graduation, unable to bear the thought of being apart and doing different jobs, they had agreed to train as teachers and eventually return to their high school.
It surprised everyone how they got along so well; Minamo was everything Yukari wasn't: organized, dedicated, patient, mature, kind and sensible. Somehow, though, their personalities managed to compliment one another rather than clash, and, despite the odd argument over who should pay for dinner, they got along perfectly.
Mrs Kurosawa hadn't been overjoyed when Minamo told her of her intentions to become a gym teacher, but Minamo was willing to become estranged from her family if it meant she could remain with Yukari. Luckily it hadn't come to that, and Minamo had worked and studied as hard as she could to graduate with her friend, who somehow managed to get passing grades without bothering at all.
Minamo was proud of her life; she had a loving family, a slightly insane but wonderful best friend and a job she had worked hard for. But she really didn't want to get married.
Especially to the strange men her mother kept setting her up with.
This particular date hadn't been a complete disaster; she hadn't done anything she felt she should be ashamed of (like running a mile if the guy tried to kiss her - this happened a lot), but it was that the man, rich and influential as he was, was slightly odd.
Aside from the fact he was about ten years older than she was and their interests couldn't possibly be more different, he had an annoying habit of asking her to do things for him. From making tea to fetching things from adjacent rooms, he would always ask her to do it for him. He wasn't rude when he asked; it was just that he didn't seem to be able to do anything himself and had to get someone else - in this case Minamo - to do it all for him. Minamo was a little unsettled by this, but had been coping well until he asked her to redo his necktie because it had come loose and needed to be done up again properly. Minamo, having attended an all-girls school, had never really seen a necktie before, let alone knew how to do one up. It had all ended rather uncomfortably and Minamo left with a strong desire to never see the man again in her life. She then remembered that her mother had worked hard to set her up with him and probably wouldn't be too happy that she couldn't even secure a second date with him.
Minamo sighed, rubbing her head slightly. She needed to talk with someone. So after letting herself recover for about a minute, she left her apartment and headed down the corridor towards her best friend's apartment. If ever there was anyone who could make Minamo feel better, it was Yukari.
"Hi, Mrs Tanizaki; is Yukari in?"
Unlike Minamo, Yukari still lived with her parents. Minamo suspected strongly that this was because it meant she didn't have to pay for rent, thus leaving her with more money to spend on alcohol. Minamo wasn't complaining; it was great to have her best friend live four doors away.
"I'll just get her for you." Mrs Tanizaki said politely, before turning away and yelling "YUKARI! MINAMO'S HERE!"
"Wha?" Yukari said, poking her head out of her room. "Nyamo! Come in!"
"God, that guy sounds like a bastard." Yukari said, looking both annoyed and worried. The two teachers were sitting on Yukari's bed, discussing Minamo's most recent date. It was something they did a lot; mostly ending with Yukari telling Minamo forcefully that the guy she had just been out with was a psycho, pervert or generally not good enough for her.
"But I can't refuse to go on another date with him…" Minamo sighed, "my mom said she spent days trying to set him up with me... she'll hate me if I ditch him straight away!"
"So what do you want to do?"
"Well, I guess I'd better learn how to tie a necktie, for one thing."
Yukari burst out laughing before noticing Minamo wasn't smiling. "…Are you serious?"
"Yes I am! You know how everyone looks for something in a partner? Well, maybe his ideal partner needs to be able to do neckties."
Yukari stared. "You think you're his ideal partner?"
"Well, no. Not at all." Minamo paused, somewhat thoughtfully, "But I've gotta try."
"Why? For him? He sounds like a complete chauvinistic bastard from what you've told me about him."
Minamo sighed. "Not for him, not at all… for my mom. My family."
Yukari looked over at her best friend, who was looking confused, pathetic and completely adorable. "Nyamo, have you ever thought of doing things for you?"
Minamo looked up and locked eyes with her best friend. She sighed.
"Yukari, you're lucky… your parents love you no matter what, but…"
"Fine; I get you, I get you." Yukari said, standing up and exiting the room.
"Where are you going?" Minamo asked, slightly panicked.
"Getting a necktie from my dad's room." Yukari replied, grinning around the door. "I'm sure we'll be able to put our heads together and figure it out."
Three near-strangulations, four collapses due to fits of giggling and about two hours later, Yukari stood with a tie done up correctly around her neck. Minamo looked rather proud of herself.
"I did it!"
"Yup." Yukari nodded. "All you've gotta do next time he asks you to do his necktie up is get him to stand still for two hours and not collapse when you completely cut off his air passage."
"Very funny, Yukari."
"Do you think you can do it now? You can practice a little more if you need to, but I'm not gonna lie when people ask me where I got the purple bruise around my neck from at school tomorrow."
"No, I think I've got it." Minamo smiled, then glanced at the clock on the wall. "I should probably be going now. We've got school tomorrow."
"Okay then; I'll see you later, Nyamo."
"But, um… thanks for listening." Minamo said a little shyly. "And helping me out and stuff. And I'm sorry for nearly suffocating you."
"It's no big deal."
"Yeah, but it means a lot to me…" Minamo hugged her friend in thanks.
Yukari blushed; they were as close as friends got, but they weren't particularly physically affectionate to one another, so hugs were rare.
"Seriously, it's okay." Yukari said, awkwardly hugging Minamo back.
"I'll see you tomorrow, then." Minamo said after they had broken apart.
Yukari nodded mutely. "Bye."
Less than a week later, Minamo found herself in Yukari's apartment again, this time feeling absolutely livid. After another date with the guy her mother set her up with gone horribly wrong, she hadn't bothered entering her own apartment and instead ran straight to Yukari's. Yukari's parents had gone out for the evening, leaving the young language teacher by herself. After hearing the frantic knocking at her door, she opened it to reveal her best friend, looking more annoyed than Yukari had ever seen her.
"What is it, Nyamo?" Yukari asked.
"That, that…" Minamo stuttered angrily.
"Bastard?" Yukari offered helpfully. She enjoyed calling Minamo's dates bastards.
"I broke up with him." The P.E. teacher said somewhat bitterly as Yukari took her through into her room.
"I'd guessed." Yukari said, sitting down on her bed with Minamo and trying not to look happy. Yukari was a naturally selfish person and it was hard for her to not act happy that Minamo's date had gone horribly wrong because, Yukari had admitted to herself a long time ago, she didn't like other people dating her Nyamo. Though she didn't act it a lot of the time, Yukari was proud to be Minamo's best friend, and the thought of someone else being the most important person in Minamo's life was painful for her. "What did he do?"
Minamo gave her a look that told her exactly what the guy had done.
"That bastard!" Yukari yelled, making towards the door, "I'll kill him!"
Minamo grabbed Yukari's arm to stop her leaving because, if she hadn't, the English teacher would have actually hunted down the guy and beaten him to a bloody pulp.
"Yukari, calm down." Minamo told her. She actually really appreciated Yukari's protectiveness of her, though she had learnt from experience that if a guy had indeed touched – or even tried to touch – her inappropriately, Yukari would not hesitate to break his jaw.
"Why? I'm not gonna let him get away with doing that to you! I swear, I'm gonna kill-"
Yukari stopped struggling and took a couple of deep breaths to try and clear her mind of murderous intentions.
"Why do you care so much?" Minamo asked, "I mean, you were happy to let me practice neckties on you so I had a chance with him, but now you want to kill him!"
The fact that subtlety was far from her strong point now proved to be a great problem for Yukari. She thought hard about how best to phrase her answer. "I let you use me for practice on me for you, not for him. And I want to kill him now because he's a-"
"Bastard. I get it."
"What're you gonna tell your mom?" Yukari asked.
Minamo sighed. "I'm not sure, to be honest."
"Why not the truth?"
"To her, a guy touching me is a good thing; it means they like me. And me running away would only…"
Minamo looked away. "Nothing. Never mind."
"Come on Nyamo; tell me." Yukari half-whined.
Minamo sighed, avoiding her friends' eyes. "My mom… thinks I'm gay." She said quietly.
"And are you?" Yukari asked. Minamo's head snapped up. That was not the response she had expected. She had prepared herself for something more Yukari-ish, such as fifteen minutes of uncontrolled laughter. What should she do now?
"I don't know." Minamo admitted, still not looking Yukari in the eye while trying to pretend that the air in the room hadn't just become suffocatingly thick.
"Oh." Yukari said. "If you were…. It'd make two of us."
Minamo stared. "What?"
"No…I don't like guys." She said simply.
"You're kidding." Minamo said, stunned.
"Seriously, Nyamo; how many times have I ever been out with a man? And it's not just because all my time is spent helping you with your love life."
Minamo's brain was struggling to take this all in when something clicked. "…Wait. Does that mean there's another reason you hate it so much when guys try things on me?"
Yukari grinned. "Maybe."
"Why the hell didn't you tell me sooner?" Minamo practically yelled, "I've had to deal with my mom asking me for years if your feelings for me are anything more than friendship, and all this time I've been telling her she'd be mad to think so!"
"Well she's not."
Minamo still struggled to believe it. "Seriously? You really like me?"
"Enough to let you practice neckties on me, Nyamo." Yukari replied. "Which is a whole lot."
"Oh wow…" Minamo breathed.
"You like me, too, right?" Yukari asked, wanting to be sure.
"Of course I do! I've loved you for years."
"Good." Yukari said. "Then you won't mind if I kiss you, will you?"
"I shouldn't think so…"
Yukari all but lunged at Minamo, knocking her over on the bed. Minamo wrapped her arms around Yukari's neck, wanting to bring her closer and never let go.
Yukari ran her tongue across Minamo's lips, causing her to gasp slightly. Yukari took advantage of her mouth opening slightly and intertwined their tongues, causing a little more moaning on Minamo's part.
They were both breathing very heavily when they broke apart. Yukari grinned at her friend. "I remember I once had to punch a guy for doing that to you."
Minamo had to steady her mind and concentrate to understand what Yukari had just said because her mind had gone completely blank with happiness. "Yeah, but that guy wasn't you."
"Good of you to notice." Yukari mumbled, kissing Minamo's neck. "I bet he wouldn't have let you practice tying neckties on him."
"I imagine not." Minamo said, absolutely loving the feeling of Yukari's lips on her. "I never did get to show him that I knew how to tie them, either."
"You'd better come up with a new ambition, then." Yukari whispered, tugging at the bottom of Minamo's shirt.
Minamo lifted up her arms to make it easier for her friend to remove the article, discarding it onto the floor. Minamo couldn't help but smile at Yukari. "Well, I can think of one or two things…"
Damn, that was fun to write… I always really, really wanted to hear the end of the necktie story… and there we go. Not my best, but still one helluva lot of fun.
I might do something else along this vein at a later date because there are just so many unexplored possibilities with these two - and it's all canon!
Please let me know if it's any good. Many thanks!