(-- --)

Chapter 17

Summer Lovin'

-August 5, 2007, Sunday

Arisato Residence

Daytime

Minato was lying down on the floor in front of the TV, fanning himself. His sister was sitting down in front of a fan, listening to the vibrations of her voice every time she said something into it. It was only early August and the heat was already coming in a full wave.

Mrs. Arisato came down the steps with Shoji in her arms. He was two months old now. He was starting to grow some hair and his eyes were completely open. Mrs. Arisato was right before. Shoji did look like his father. His hair was black instead of the navy blue his mother and siblings had, and his eyes were gray.

Minako spotted her little baby brother and got up from the floor. "Sho~ji!" she sang. The child put on a bright smile at the sight of his smiling sister. "You're soooooo cute!"

Mrs. Arisato smiled as she held up the phone. "Minato, Miss Kirijo is on the phone for you," she replied.

Minato got up and climbed over the couch to take the phone from his mother. "Hello?"

"Hello, Minato. I was just calling to see if you wanted to go to Yakushima with the others and me for a few days," said Mitsuru. "My family has a vacation house there and the beach could do us some good."

"Yakushima?" Images of the beach, crystal water, and girls in swimsuits ran through his head. "I'm so there!"

"Great!"

"Can my sister come, too?"

"If she wants."

"Cool."

"We'll be leaving for Yakushima on the 15th. We'll meet up at my house in the morning and go from there. Then we'll back on the night of the 19th," she replied.

"All right. Talk to you later."

"Goodbye."

Minato grinned as he ended the call.

"So I hear something about Yakushima?" asked his mother with a small smile. "I haven't even given my consent yet."

"Oh, come on. Please, mom?" Minato got down on his knees and pressed his hands together. He stared at her with pleading eyes. "Please?"

Mrs. Arisato laughed, ruffling her son's hair. "Oh, I don't mind. You deserve to go to the beach over break. You just have to get over your summer classes this week."

"Yes!!"

Minako tugged on her mother's shirt. "Can I go, too?"

"Mitsuru said you can go if you want to."

"I do!"

Their mother pursed her lips together. "Hm…I don't know…"

"What?" Minako cried out. "If Minato can go, I want to go too!"

"I don't know, Minako. Minato and his friends are fifteen and sixteen now. They can take care of themselves. I trust them," replied their mother. "You're only eight. I'm scared that you might do something like run off on your own."

The little girl tugged her mother's shirt a little harder. "Mommy, you know I know better than that. You and Daddy taught me well."

"I promise we'll look after her," said Minato.

"You better. If you don't, Shoji will really become the first son."

"All right!" cheered Minako.

Minato gulped. Somehow he knew that his mother wasn't joking around. Minako was her only daughter. If something happened to her under his supervision, his head would be on the chopping block. If she got rid of him, she still had one more son around.

(-- --)

-August 11, 2007, Saturday

Palownia Mall

Daytime

Junpei stretched for a moment before sitting down on the bench next to Minato.

"Summer classes are finally over!" he cheered. "Yakushima, here we come!"

Summer classes were indeed over. Once the lectures had ended, Yukari and Fuuka wanted to go to the mall to buy new swimsuits for the occasion. Both girls were inside the store at the moment while the other two boys were sitting by the fountain.

"S-sis! H-hold on a minute!" yelled a man. He had bright blonde hair and hazel eyes that almost looked like a golden yellow. He was dressed in black pants and a deep blue shirt and a hat that made him look like a bell boy. The man did his best to chase after two other women while holding a multitude of bags and boxes in his hands.

One of the women ahead turned around to grin at the man. She half a head shorter than him. Her hair was short and it was the same bright blonde. Her hazel eyes glowed like gold. She wore a sleeveless, dark blue dress with yellow circles on them along with matching boots and gloves. There was a hat on her head that made her look like an elevator girl. "Hurry up Theodore! We have many places to be before we have to return to report to our master," she commanded bossily. She seemed to be enjoying Theodore's misery.

"Ungh! But these bags are so heavy! Why do I have to carry them?"

"Are you a man or what?! Quit your whining and hurry up!"

"Elizabeth," said the other woman. "Don't rush him. Our little brother has yet to become accustomed to this job." Elizabeth and Theodore's sister had the same blonde hair and golden eyes. Her long, wavy hair was pulled back with a dark blue headband. She wore a long sleeved blue dress with yellow circle patterns. She wore black tights and dark blue pumps. She carried a thick, leather bound book with her.

"Yeah, our not-so-worthy little brother has to adapt quickly or else the Master will not be pleased," scoffed Elizabeth.

"M-Margaret! Please help me!" begged Theodore.

"Come along, Theo. The limo is just outside," replied Margaret.

"Yes, and we still have yet to go to Iwatodai Station, Naganaki Shrine, and Gekkoukan before we head back to our Master," Elizabeth replied pleasantly. She clapped her hands twice. "Chop, chop, Theo!"

Theodore grunted a little as he tried to catch up to his sisters as best as he could. "Is this all really necessary?"

"Of course it is!"

With some incoherent grumbling from Theodore, he trudged on after his sisters.

Junpei blinked a few times before clapping Minato on the back. "Watch out, Minato. That'll be you and Mina-tan in several years."

"They're a strange trio of siblings," said Minato.

"Dysfunctional, if you ask me."

"It makes you think how weird their parents are."

(-- --)

-August 15, 2007, Wednesday

Boat

Morning

Junpei took a deep breath, enjoying the smell of the open water. The skies were a bright blue and the sun was shining. It was a great summer day.

"So how come Shinjiro didn't come?" asked Fuuka.

"Ah, he said that the beach wasn't his kind of scene and decided to pass," answered Akihiko.

"That's a shame," said Mitsuru. She turned to Minato. "I thought your sister was going to come, too."

"She was until she found out that she had vocal training this week."

Yukari cocked her head to the side. "Did she throw a fit?"

"You'd think so, but she didn't. She was just really disappointed."

"Yeah. Miki was really looking forward to Yakushima until she looked at the calendar and saw her vocal training schedule," added Akihiko.

"Hey! There it is! YA-KU-SHI-MA!" yelled Junpei. He jumped up and down pointing at the lush green island.

Mitsuru smiled. "Ah, it's been so long since I was last here."

"Aw, man! This is the best trip EVER!"

(-- --)

-August 15, 2007, Wednesday

Kirijo Vacation Home

Morning

The group walked through the foyer of Mitsuru's vacation home. The floors and pillars were made of marble. Chandeliers adorned the ceiling. Two maids approached Mitsuru and bowed before saying, "Welcome back, Milady."

"You know," said Yukari, "you hear "vacation home" and you just don't think of "mansion.""

"If you hear "Kirijo" then you should always think of "mansion,"" joked Minato.

"Wow! This place is amazing!" said Fuuka. She looked around the foyer, eyeing the expensive artifacts and paintings along the wall.

Junpei nudged Minato excitedly, his voice barely a whisper. "DUDE. REAL. LIFE. MAIDS."

"They're obviously not the kind you're thinking of," snapped Yukari. "Look at the length of their skirts!"

"Hey, a man can dream, can't he?"

"Oh, so you're a man now?" shot back Yukari.

"Don't you have a girlfriend, Junpei?" asked Akihiko.

"Uh, I'm allowed to look. I just can't touch."

"I don't think Junpei would be able to get a touch anyway," Yukari whispered to Fuuka. Both girls burst into a fit of giggles.

After a few words with Mitsuru, the maids left to busy themselves with the group's luggage.

"While we're here, please make yourselves at home." asked Mitsuru. "So what should we do first?"

"Let's head to the beach!" said Junpei. His eyes sparkled. "I'm going to go change into my swimsuit now!"

"Don't you want a tour of the mansion first?" asked Mitsuru.

"Nah! There'll be plenty of time for that tonight." Junpei could barely contain his excitement. He was almost about to start bouncing along the walls. "Come on! The beach is right outside!"

With a small laugh, Fuuka said, "Yeah. The beach does sound nice now."

"It lets you know that summer is here," added Yukari.

Akihiko raised his arms to stretch. "Sounds like a good workout is in order."

"Well, then," cut in Mitsuru, "shall we head upstairs and get changed?"

They all followed after the young Kirijo heiress, not wanting to waste a single minute of their vacation.

(-- --)

-August 15, 2007, Wednesday

Beach

Afternoon

The summer sun was beating down mercilessly, but with the cool, shimmering water, the heat was somewhat bearable. Minato, Akihiko, and Junpei walked onto the beach in their swim trunks and flip flops.

"I wonder what I could use as a marker out here," wondered Akihiko. He shielded his eyes from the sun to look around.

"You're going to train?" Junpei asked incredulously. "Dude! We're at the beach! On vacation! You can train when you get back home!"

Minato laughed. "I don't think there's any harm with losing a few days of training."

"See? Even Minato agrees with me!"

Akihiko opened his mouth to retort, but was cut off when Yukari approached them in her swimsuit and sunglasses perched on her head. Minato felt the blood rush to his face and he quickly turned away to pretend to stare into the horizon. He occasionally looked back over his shoulder to admire her. He had known her for fifteen years now. She had grown up from a little girl who clung onto her father's clothes to a young lady sporting a pink bikini top and short denim shorts. There was a lot to admire about her.

Junpei let out a laugh and elbowed his best friend in the side. "Great vacation, am I right?" He turned around and with an invisible microphone in his hands. "First up is Contestant Number 1, Takeba Yukari! She's chosen a bold design that's quite unexpected. It takes a lot of confidence to pull off a swimsuit like that! And what is the verdict of our judges?" He gestured to Akihiko and Minato. Embarrassed, Akihiko had looked down to suddenly find interest in the grainy sand of the beach. Minato still pretended to admire the water. Yukari crossed her arms, not amused. "Well, I think you look great, Yuka-tan," he said.

Fuuka approached the rest of her friends, her swimsuit matching the color of her hair and eyes. "Hey, is someone using that umbrella over there?" she asked.

"Next up is Contestant Number 2, Yamagishi Fuuka! Judges, don't you think Fuuka looks fantastic in her swimsuit? She really ought to wear one more often! What do our judges have to say?" Junpei shot a glance at Akihiko and Minato. Neither said anything. "Loss of words, huh? That's a good sign!"

"U-uh…" Fuuka blushed, tugging down her top as if she was trying to cover her bare midriff. She hid behind Yukari.

"Hey! Will you cut it out Junpei?!" yelled Yukari.

He ignored her. "And heeeere's our final contestant! The one and only Kirijo Mitsuru!"

Mitsuru approached her friends, looking around the beach. "It certainly is a nice day for a swim," she replied absently. She looked at her friends to see that they were staring right back at her with a look of wonder. "W-what?"

"Wow! You're beautiful, Mitsuru!" exclaimed Fuuka.

"I know! Your skin is like porcelain!" added Yukari.

Mitsuru's face flushed. "Oh, um, thank…you…"

Junpei nudged Akihiko in the side. "The heiress looks good, doesn't she?" he asked in a low voice.

Akihiko tore his eyes away from Mitsuru, trying to hide his own embarrassment. "Who are you talking about?"

"Dude, don't play dumb. There's only one heiress we're friends with and on the beach with us. In a swimsuit."

Akihiko raised his arms, stretching. "Weeeell, I'm going out for a swim!" He ran towards the water.

"Hey! Don't change the subject!" yelled Junpei, following after him.

"Um, shouldn't you guys put some sunscreen on first?" called out Fuuka.

Minato laughed. "Ah, it'll be their fault," he replied, taking the bottle from Yukari.

(-- --)

-August 15, 2007, Wednesday

Kirijo Vacation Home

Nighttime

"Junpei, you're nose is burned," said Fuuka.

Everyone was in the mansion's recreation room. They had just had dinner (and no one was surprised that it was rich, delicious Western food) and they were in the mood for more fun.

"Yeah, I know," said Junpei. "I forgot to put sunscreen on my face."

"You know what my mom says?" asked Minato. "She says that if you rub lemon juice over your sunburn, the skin will peel away and you won't have the burn anymore."

"Hey, great idea! Mitsuru! Do you have any lemons?"

"There may be some in the kitchen," the red head answered.

"Sweet!"

Junpei got up from the couch, striding out of the room. Fuuka got up as well, following after him. "Wait, Junpei! Do you even know where the kitchen is?" Yukari got up from the couch to follow after the other two.

"And where are you going?" asked Minato.

Yukari laughed. "I just don't trust those two with a knife."

When the door was closed, Minato was left with the two upperclassmen. "So what should we do while those three are gone?"

Mitsuru motioned to the whole room. "Look around and take your pick."

There were many choices to choose from. There was a table tennis, a large TV, and a karaoke machine next to it. In another corner of the room was a square table with four chairs around it and an untouched Mahjong set on top. There was also a table with chips and cards, a pool table, and a foosball table. A door next to the TV led to a tennis court and rooms for racquetball.

"We have until the 19th to play around with everything here. Don't worry," said Akihiko.

Minato laughed. "All right. How about a few games with the cards?"

"Cards? Really?" asked Mitsuru.

"Well, I wanted to play Mahjong, but we need one more person."

Akihiko sat in a chair backwards. He picked up the deck of cards and began shuffling them. "So what should we play?"

Minato grinned as he sat down across from Akihiko. "Speed?"

The other boy let out a groan before chuckling. "Oh God. That game again? I remember when your dad taught us that game." He turned to Mitsuru with a grin. "Mr. Arisato taught us a whole bunch of card games one night after dinner. "Speed" was one of them. We just got so into the game."

"It was intense. Especially when we played Egyptian War."

"Don't bring that up with Miki. She's still mad that Shinji took off her nail that one time we played."

"Yeah, Minako is reluctant to play now, too. She got bruises on her hand, remember?"

Mitsuru hesitantly sat down at the table. "That game sounds dangerous."

"It's intense," corrected Akihiko. "To be fair, girls should never play it with a bunch of guys."

"Oh, trust me, I don't plan on it," she answered, wringing her hands together. "So what about Speed? I'm not familiar with that game."

"It's easy. It's a two person game. Object is to get rid of your cards as fast as you can," explained Minato. "There are two piles, and whatever card is showing you can put down a card that is higher or lower than the number."

Mitsuru cocked her head to the side. "I don't understand."

"Like, if there is a five on top, then you can put down a six or a four. If I put down a four, then I can put down a three or a five. Get it?"

"I think so…"

Akihiko dealt out the cards, handing Minato his share. "Five cards in your hand and you can get more from your deck after you put cards down." He got up to turn his chair around and sit properly. "Are we playing doubles?" he asked the other boy.

"No. Doubles are lame."

"Doubles?" asked Mitsuru.

Minato couldn't hide his amusement. Mitsuru was way too sheltered. "It means that if there is a seven on top, I could put down another seven. Simple."

"Are we still slapping the cards and yelling out, "Speed!" when all of the cards are gone?"

"Of course." Minato and Akihiko grabbed one of the face down cards. They glared at each other from across the table, trying to intimidate the other. "Ready?"

"1, 2, 3…"

They flipped the cards up and began the game. Mitsuru watched in awe as both boys slapped down cards to outdo the other. When they couldn't put down any more cards, they flipped over the cards next to the growing pile and resumed their battle. It was over in a flash when Minato put down his last card, the King of Spades, over the Queen of Hearts, slapped the pile of cards and yelled out, "Speed!" Akihiko cursed. He had three cards left in his hand.

Mitsuru clapped excitedly. "Oh wow! Congratulations Minato!"

"It's not that big of a deal," muttered Akihiko.

"You wanna play next, Mitsuru?" asked Minato.

"Oh. No, thank you. I'm probably not any good--"

"No, you play." Minato got up and moved so the girl could take his seat. "Here, you can play the loser."

Akihiko glared at him before gathering up all of the cards and shuffling them. He laid down the cards and divided them up. He handed a deck to the girl across the table. The cards flipped over only to be buried in a matter of seconds.

Several games later, Mitsuru threw her cards onto the table. She crossed her arms and scowled. "I hate this game," she answered huffily.

Akihiko let out a throaty laugh. "Is Kirijo Mitsuru acting like a little kid?"

"Shut up."

The door to the recreation room opened. Yukari strode in with Junpei and Fuuka right behind her.

"We got lost," said Fuuka.

"And Junpei almost killed us with a knife," added Yukari.

Junpei smiled sheepishly. "It was an accident."

"I'm scared to ask," said Akihiko, "but what did you do?"

"Junpei was trying to slice a lemon, and I was trying to get the knife away from him," explained Yukari. "And then he started talking about baseball and he…" She held up her hands and pretended to swing an invisible baseball bat. When she noticed the blank expressions on Minato, Akihiko, and Mitsuru's faces, she pretended that the baseball bat was flying out of her hands.

"Oh my," murmured Mitsuru, realizing what happened.

"So, uh, yeah, you have a knife stuck in the wall of your kitchen."

"We couldn't get it out," added Fuuka.

"I'll have someone take a look at it."

"It was an accident," repeated Junpei.

Silence filled the room. Everyone looked at each other until Minato spoke up.

"So…Mahjong, anyone?"

(-- --)

-August 17, 2007, Friday

Beach

Nighttime

"Hey," called Minato.

Yukari turned around and smiled. "Hey."

"So this is where you disappeared off to after dinner?"

"Yeah." Yukari sat down on the sand, the water just reaching up to her toes every time the tide came back in. "I just wanted to see what the beach would be like at night." Minato sat down next to Yukari. "So what are you doing out here?"

Minato smiled sardonically. "Junpei made Akihiko sing karaoke."

Yukari crinkled her nose. "Ugh. Understandable."

"I'm sure cats will approaching the house soon."

"And the dogs will be howling."

They laughed, before staring out into the water. The moon was just starting to turn away from its darkened state. The water seemed black and cold, almost unforgiving. It would have been better if the moon was close to its full state.

It certainly would have been a lot more romantic, he thought, glancing at Yukari.

She rubbed her hands over her shoulders and arms.

"What, are you cold?" he asked.

She smiled softly. "A little." He scooted closer to her, putting an arm around her shoulders. "Um…thanks." Yukari flushed, suddenly feeling a lot warmer than she wanted to be.

She didn't know how long they spent like that. But somehow, it felt right. She laid her head on his shoulder, her arms wrapping around him. He had always been there right beside her as they were growing up. He was always the first to defend her, protect her. He knew all of her weaknesses, but never told another soul. He knew what she liked, what she hated, and what she feared. He knew which buttons to never push. Most of all, he knew how to make her smile and how to laugh.

They grew up. There was one fear that she never told Minato about. She feared that growing up would split them apart. She didn't want to be like those childhood friends in the movies who grow up and then go off in two different directions, never to be together ever again. But no, even as they grew up, he kept on standing beside her, as if he knew what she was thinking. Even though they developed different interests, joined different clubs, had different friends, he still found time for them to be together. But lately, it had felt like a different "together" than when they were kids. It felt right all the same. Maybe, just maybe, this is what she wanted the whole time.

Just her and him. Together.

Yukari sighed. "I like this," she whispered.

"The beach?"

"No. Just…this."

"Heeeeey!" yelled Junpei. Startled, Yukari and Minato let go of each other, scrambling up to their feet. Junpei raised an eyebrow, noticing the blush on their faces and the way they avoided looking at each other. "Did…I miss something?"

"What's up, Junpei?" asked Yukari, quickly changing the subject.

"Mitsuru says that it's dangerous to be out so late. She wants both of you to come back to the house now."

"Yeah, sure," said Minato, tugging his hair.

"And we're about to play hide-and-go-seek," Junpei added gleefully as they began walking in the direction of the house.

Yukari frowned. "What are we? Eight?"

"We'll be playing in the dark."

"Uh, yeah. Six teenagers running around a dark mansion sounds pretty creepy."

"And dangerous," added Minato.

"Hey! It was my idea!"

"Oh, there you go."

"Don't go hating on my ideas."

"Too late."

(-- --)

-August 19, 2007, Sunday

Mitsuru's Car

Afternoon

"That was a great trip," commented Akihiko.

"It was," said Mitsuru from the front seat. "It really was." She turned around to look at the others. "What did you guys think?"

"I thought it was fun!" said Fuuka. "The beach was fun, and the forest was really peaceful."

"My nose is still burned though," commented Junpei.

"The skin is peeling," pointed out Minato.

"Huh?! Really?!"

"You didn't notice?"

"I just thought I had really dry skin on my nose!"

Everyone sniggered.

"What about you, Yukari? Was the trip fun?" asked Mitsuru.

Yukari caught Minato's eye. She smiled before turning back to the red head, a faint blush appearing over her cheeks. "Yes. Yes, it was."


I'm back! I'm alive! Finals are over, I'm on break, and hopefully, I can get my brain to start working again. So, notes.

I don't think that I've put emphasis on it, but Minako and Miki do sing. They take classes together, etc... It becomes somewhat important much later in the story.

I told you that Theodore makes an appearance quite soon. Elizabeth and Theodore narrate one of the P3P trailers, and it is stated that Theodore is younger than Elizabeth, so Margaret is the oldest, then Elizabeth, and then Theodore. I really like the three siblings though. They're pretty fun if you ask me. From that trailer, it seems like Theodore gets picked on a lot by his sisters, so instead of being all cool and collected, he's more sensitive. Though this may seem like a shameless cameo on my part, I don't care. They were fun to write about.

The thing about lemon juice is true. I got a sunburn on my nose when I went to San Diego about two years ago. When I got home, I had this bottle of lemon juice in my refrigerator, so I rubbed some of that on my sunburn and the skin started peeling away.

Operation Babe Hunt was cut out because...well, Junpei has Chidori, Minato has Yukari, and Akihiko technically has Mitsuru, so I didn't see the need to include it. Sorry!

Ah! Speed...In my senior year of high school, I had a class that had a lot of free time so my friend and I played a lot of Speed and Bullshit in the back of the classroom. Good times. And for the record, Egyptian War is very intense. So intense that the first time I played it, a friend cut my hand with his ring, a friend's manicure came off, and I got bruises. It just gets really bad.

Yay for Minato x Yukari fluff! And Junpei still ruins the moment, even in an alternate world.

That's it! Until next chapter! Thanks for reading!