It's been a while since I've updated Opposites, but hopefully this chapter will make up for the wait a bit. It's a rather beefy one and a lot of important plot-things happen. So without further ado, I hope you'll enjoy.
Chapter 11 – 50 shades of Lulim
After a long day, Chikaru stepped outside of the Lulim building as her lessons had ended for today. For some reason, she had had a rather grueling day. There had been explosions during chemistry class and, as a result, an extended course in first-aid during biology class followed directly afterward.
The rest of the day was spent making birdhouses in crafts, which resulted in various amount of creative works. Birdhouses which stood out were the wooden recreation of the Frank Lloyd Wright home, a birdhouse skyscraper consisting of 84 different bird-apartments and a Death Star birdhouse, complete with glowing lights.
Chikaru smiled at the thought - the Lulim girls were very much looking forward to going to the carnival in town. While other towns had a carnival once a year, the one at the bottom of the Hill had one every three months. This was not strange, since the Hill and the town very much had a symbiotic relationship. The town was a popular destination before curfew, and, in fact, it was the only town for miles where impossibly rich girls could spend their pocket money. As such, there were a lot of shops that catered to them; a small town in the middle of nowhere had jewelry shops, bookstores, video arcades, restaurants, disco's, icecream parlors, a roller derby and electronics stores. The town even had a store specializing in selling cellphones. Cellphones were illegal on the Hill… which meant everybody had one and had found out creative ways to hide them. But naturally, a supplier was still needed.
All in all, the town was a very popular place to bring dates. During the times of carnival even moreso.
Now that the schoolday was over, Chikaru was preparing herself for club activities. At least, that would be a more quiet time since the grand majority of the student body of all schools would be flocking to the carnival to spend their Friday evenings. In fact, Chikaru and some other students had been setting up a special club evening, in fact, for those unable to those just not going to the carnival tonight.
While ruminating about some possible activities for tonight, she walked on the path leading towards the Strawberry Dorms and encountered a group of girls from each school. Most of them were second years and they seemed to be raving about something.
"What's going on?" Chikaru asked as she managed to grab one of the girls by the arm and pulled her out of the crowd.
"Didn't you hear?" said the girl, a plucky second year from Spica, Chikaru remembered her name was Mika. "Mystic Mahomi from Kyoto is at the carnival again! She can talk to the dead! Remember the reading she did for Yumi-chan last time the carnival was here? Her dead grandmother told Yumi-chan through Mystic Mahomi that she would find true love this year. And she did! Aki-chan and Yumi-chan are so cute together!"
Chikaru rolled her eyes. She had seen this particular overpriced charlatan 'performing' at the last carnival and, judging from the squeals and raves around her, these poor girls were completely taken in. Chikaru shook her head at the thought of the pile of money 'mystic' Mahomi would make off these poor girls in the week that the carnival would be in town. She felt she had to do something.
"You do realize that's all just an act, yes?" Chikaru said. She braced herself a little; logical thinking and reasoning didn't tend to go over well with true believers. "It's flim-flam, nothing more. It's just as silly as arbitrarily assigning character traits to blood types."
Yumi shook her head. "Yes, people of your blood type are often skeptical in nature, Chikaru-san. I don't blame you for it."
Chikaru rubbed her temples. "Ugh, look, I'm just trying to say that Mystic Mahomi is nothing more than a conjurer. She can't talk to the dead, or see the future."
"Oh?" Yumi seemed skeptical. "But Mystic Mahomi knew all sorts of things about Yumi-chan. I mean, she said she would find true love and here she is with Aki-chan!"
"Really?" Chikaru said. "And young people don't meet and fall in love without a prediction being involved? It's not possible for Aki-chan and Yumi-chan to have met without 'mystic' Mahomi saying they would? In fact, everybody in town knows that girls of the Hill fall in love with each other all the time! Let me put it this way: did Mahomi mention Aki-chan by name when she told Yumi-chan she would find love?"
"Well... no," Mika frowned.
"Did Mystic Mahomi ask her a lot of questions in rapid succession?" Chikaru asked.
"Well... yes," Yumi said. "How did you know?!"
Chikaru took her by the arm and dragged her out of the group a little further so that they could talk more freely.
"Let me give you an example," Chikaru said. "Okay, I'm going to close my eyes and concentrate. I'm getting something with... an R... Do you know someone whose name begins with an R?"
Yumi shook her head.
"Okay, what about a K. Do you know someone whose name starts with a K? No? An A? An N."
"YES! YESSS!" Yumi squealed. "My grandmother was called Noriko. She died a few years ago from cancer. Oh my, how did you know that?!"
Chikaru grinned slightly. "I know that, because you just told me."
"I just said a bunch of letters. And when I said 'N', it triggered you and you forgot all about the letters I got wrong before. In less than a second, I know that you had a grandmother called Noriko-san, who sadly died a few years ago from cancer. See? I'm not talking to the dead, I'm talking to *you*, "Chikaru pressed as the flabbergasted girl stared at her. "Okay, I'm seeing a house in the city...in the country? Livestock? Pets? A cat... no, no, no, a dog! Yes, did she have a dog? Or something to do with a dog?"
Yumi's eyes lit up. "Yes, YES! My grandmother had an old picture of a dog in her living room, but she replaced it shortly before her death with a picture of her family. WOW! How did you know that?"
"Easy," Chikaru shrugged. "Again, you just told me. It's a technique called cold reading. Basically, I bombard you with dozens of very basic questions and I watch your reactions and body language to see when I can redirect the line of questioning. I just keep repeating letters and..."
Mika blinked slightly, then narrowed her eyes. "Y-you're a fraud!"
Chikaru smiled and nodded. "Yes, you get it. I am a fraud. I am fooling you. I am using trickery. There's nothing paranormal or mystical about it.
"Y-you're lying!" Mika said more forcefully.
Chikaru nodded, hopeful that she would have a convert. "... that's why I'm trying to tell you! People tend to focus only on the hits and not on the misses. We started off with houses and pets and ended up with a picture! You are now focused completely on the picture and forgot all about the stuff I got wrong before that."
"No, no, no, you lie about not having true powers while in fact you DO have powers! You DO! You are channeling my grandmother!"
"W-what?!" Chikaru blanched. "What?!"
"You're trying to trick me into thinking you're not a real psychic!"
"In... in what possible universe does that made sense at all?!" Chikaru wailed in desperation. "Come on, think for a moment! You have this wonderful brain, use it!"
"YOU ARE A PSYCHIC!"
Chikaru blinked. "No, I'm trying to tell you that it's just a parlor trick! If you think back to what I just did..."
"EVERYBODY! CHIKARU-CHAN IS A PSYCHIC!"
"What?! NO!" Chikaru exclaimed.
"WHO IS A PSYCHIC?!"
"TELL MY FUTURE!"
"WHEN WILL I GET MARRIED?!"
"WHERE DID MY GRANDFATHER HIDE HIS WILL?!"
"WILL AKI-CHAN AND I MAKE LOVE AFTER SUNSET THIS EVENING?!"
"Oh, crap," Chikaru blinked before wisely deciding to run away.
Inside her room, Shion was sitting at her desk dividing her time between reading a textbook and scribbling in her notebook. Shion hoped to have all her studying done today so that she could have a free weekend to relax a little and spend time with Chikaru.
Shion put down her pencil and lent back in her chair. After a full day of classes, getting a weekend's worth of studying done in just a few hours was taxing her to her limits. Thankfully, she could remain focused by keeping her eyes on the prize.
Just a slight break to fetch a glass of water, and Shion would dive into the books again. After coming out of the bathroom with her glass of water, she stopped and looked at her room. Indeed, she had gotten a room all to herself because her year had an odd number of students and, really, that suited her fine.
She'd always been a loner, but that was slowly starting to change now that she was involved with Chikaru. In fact, Chikaru was the main reason that her room now looked significantly less spartan than it had been when she had first come to the Hill. Though her only few possessions were a few books, a laptop and a picture of herself with her grandmother, Chikaru had added to the decor by lending her a few of her stuffed animals and various movie posters. It had done a lot to liven up the room.
Another positive aspect of having a private room was the prospect of... liaisons with Chikaru. Though she kept it to herself, she definitely had sexual desires for Chikaru. If their relationship would develop further, they would have a quiet place to meet. Shion found herself blushing for a bit at the thought.
Just as she was shrugging off romantic thoughts and about to go on studying, there was a frantic pounding on the door.
"Shion! SHION!" sounded Chikaru from the other side of the door. "Are you in? Please open the door!"
Shion wasted no time and did what Chikaru asked. Immediately, Shion found herself being pinned against the wall while Chikaru quickly kicked the door shut behind her.
"Ch-chikaru-chan?" Shion gulped. The situation she was in now was exactly as it had been in her most common fantasy. The only difference was that Chikaru wasn't kissing her like mad and wasn't ripping off Shion's uniform.
"Ssshhhht!" Chikaru said softly and pressed a finger on Shion's lips while a group of girls could be heard from behind the door.
"Where did she go? Let's go that way. We must find her!"
Chikaru remained silent until she was certain that the group of girls had moved on.
"Chikaru-chan?" Shion said. "What happened just now?"
"They think I'm a real psychic!" Chikaru sighed. "I bet that never happened to James Randi."
"Who's James Randi?" Shion frowned.
Chikaru took Shion by the hand and sat down on the bed with her. "An American magician and a debunker of pseudoscientific nonsense," she said and told Shion what had just happened.
Shion rubbed her forehead and shook her head. "Brave of you to try, but some people will always be sheep happily walking right into the abattoir. Unsinkable rubber ducks indeed."
"Maybe you're right," sighed Chikaru. Eager for a change of subject, Chikaru put an arm around Shion's waist and pecked her on the cheek. "Hm, I think the mob is gone. I need to get to the activity halls to help set up today's super club."
"Super club?" Shion asked.
"Me and a couple of Lulim upperclassmen are organizing a super club session for the few girls who could or would not attend on the first day. We'll just do some fun things like karaoke, mahjong, card games, costume-making, dancing, you name it."
"That's a good idea."
"If I can ever get to the activities hall with all those girls looking for me," Chikaru said.
"I think they'll head over to 'mystic' Mahomi the moment they lose your scent," Shion chuckled.
Chikaru's eyes were drawn to the pile of books and papers on Shion's desk. Shion noticed this.
"Yeah, I want to get all my homework and council work for the weekend done today," Shion shrugged. "That way, I'll be able to spend the whole weekend with you in town and at the carnival."
"Awwww," Chikaru kissed Shion on the lips. "How sweet. But don't overwork yourself."
"I just hope you don't have a lot of homework," said Shion.
"Nah," Chikaru shrugged. "Lulim teachers give us little homework if any when there's a carnival in town."
"Lucky Lulim," Shion said wryly. "If anything, we get *more* homework. I think the teachers are afraid the carnival will turn us into slackers."
Chikaru hugged her girlfriend and kissed her, "Just don't overwork yourself, hm? Mmmaybe... hmm... There's some time left before I have to be at the activities hall. We could... make out for a bit?"
Shion bit her lip. "Tempting... very tempting... but if I don't get this done tonight, we don't get to spend the day together tomorrow. And you'd feel guilty about not being there to help set up super club."
Chikaru smiled. "You are wise in the world as always, but," she closed her eyes and waved around her hands mystically. "The spirits tell me that there will be smoochies in your near future. Possibly tomorrow!"
"Hm," Shion grinned as she sat down at the desk. "That sounds rather good. I think I shall make an exception and believe the spirits. Just this once."
"Love you," Chikaru said as she slipped out of the door.
"Love you too," Shion replied just before the door closed.
At that moment, Shion could just punched herself. She found herself sitting at her desk working out the boring minutes of this week's student council meeting, while she could have been making out with Chikaru on the bed. "Idiot," Shion sighed before throwing herself on her work.
Some two hundred meters away, in the Miator section of the dorms, Miyuki found herself in a similar situation as Shion. Miyuki was pouring over some proposals from Spica which would be rather embarrassing for Miator if they were accepted by the student council. And try as she might, she could not find a way to discredit the proposal without using underhanded means.
Miyuki threw down her pen in frustration just as the door opened.
"Yo," said Shizuma as she stepped inside, still wearing her track-suit.
"Shizuma," said Miyuki as the silver-haired girl, started to lift her top over her head. "You're late," Miyuki added, looking away with a slight blush as Shizuma started to remove her pants as well.
"Spent some time chatting at the track field with some people," Shizuma said as she tossed her clothes on the bed and headed into the shower. "It's Friday, so I wasn't really in a hurry."
Miyuki found what little concentration she had left was shattered when water from the shower hit the tiles of the bathroom floor.
"I thought you and Kaori-chan would be going to the carnival today," Miyuki said.
"Huh?!" sounded from the shower.
Annoyed, Miyuki sighed and swiveled around on her chair. "I thought you and Kaori-chan would be going to the carnival today," Miyuki said again, a little louder this time.
"Nah, Kaori doesn't like bright lights and loud noises," Shizuma called back from the shower. "We'll be going to the super club and just lazy about the rest of the weekend."
"Alright," said Miyuki. And then she had it, an epiphany. The perfect, full-proof way to reject the proposal and completely embarrass Spica at the same time. Perfect, perfect, perfect! She only had to put it to paper.
It was just then that Shizuma started to sing in the shower. "All the things she said, all the things she said. Running through my head. Running through my head. Running through my head." Shizuma excelled at many things, unfortunately singing on-key was not one of them.
And just like that, this distraction had cost Miyuki her idea. It was just gone.
Miyuki just sat there for a moment and dropped an uncharacteristic F-bomb before snapping her pen in two.
"Language, language, sheesh," said Shizuma as she walked into the room with a towel wrapped around her shapely body. Shizuma walked over to the closet, dropped the towel and started to put on her bra.
"It was your fault."
"It's always your fault," Miyuki chuckled just as Shizuma threw on a pair of simple jeans and a T-shirt. "Besides, you say worse things."
"Still angry?" asked Shizuma. "You can't blame a girl for pushing back, you know? You've had it cushy so far, but Shion isn't a pushover."
"Shion-san humiliated me in my own arena," Miyuki growled. "You expect me to roll over and take it?"
"It's 'san', now, is it?" Shizuma replied while running a brush through her long and luxurious silver mane.
"Professional courtesy," Miyuki shrugged without looking up from her paper.
"Bullshit!" Shizuma laughed. "You're practically radiating anger and jealousy. And don't bother denying it, I've known you since you were two."
Miyuki just growled in response. "Isn't there a girl for you to molest somewhere? Go molest her vigorously and leave me alone!"
"Not really," Shizuma shrugged. "I think spending time with Kaori is more meaningful. I can always pick up any girl for some casual sex whenever I want to. I just don't want to right now."
"Hah," Miyuki smirked. "Don't think I don't hear your heavy breathing in the middle of the night."
"Hey, a girl needs to keep herself entertained and healthy," Shizuma shrugged. "And if you'd just get laid yourself, you'd feel a lot better. Here," she said while opening the drawer and lifting out an envelope. "Go write her back. Tell Gudrun you miss her. Tell Gudrun you dream about making love to her again every single night. It'll make you feel better."
Miyuki blushed violently and snatched the envelope from Shizuma's hand, put it back in the drawer and slammed it shut. "That's private!"
"Miyuki," Shizuma said. "You're my best friend and I love you. And I'm telling you: write that girl back. Of failing that, go to the carnival, flirt with a sixth year and let her take you in the forest under the moon."
Miyuki was surprised to feel two arms snaking around her waist while Shizuma parked her chin on her shoulder. "I'm not the only one breathing heavily in the middle of the night," Shizuma whispered in her ear before playfully kissing her on the cheek. "Well, I'm off. You've got the room to yourself for the rest of the evening so, feel free to 'breathe heavily' at your leisure. Ja ne!"
Miyuki watched her leave, and stared at the door for a moment after it had shut. She let out a heavy sigh. "It wasn't Gudrun I was thinking of in the middle of the night," Miyuki whispered. If she was braver, she would have told Shizuma that to her face. "Coward," she lamented to herself before focusing on her work once more. She had a Spican upstart to embarrass.
"Welcome, welcome!" Chikaru said as Shizuma and Kaori entered the activities hall. There were about thirty girls there, a small but cozy group from all three schools. Activities ranging from games, to ring-toss, to manga-reading and karaoke were taking place all around them. Shizuma wrapped an arm around Kaori's shoulder; the two girls smiled warmly at each other before stepping in.
Chikaru played the role of the host very well; she gave the two a quick tour. "I'm afraid our karaoke machine only has American 80's pop songs, but they're very nice ones. Otherwise, feel free to join in any of the activities. We're all happy to see you here."
Shizuma found this scene to be heartwarming. Most of the girls here weren't very popular, didn't have dates or girlfriends to take to the carnival or were otherwise not able to join. Megumi, from Miator, was confined to a wheelchair and a few girls from the sickbay who were not healthy enough to go the carnival were quietly chatting.
"Chikaru, you are too good for this world," Shizuma said in earnest. "Now, I heard something interesting on the rumor vine today. Something about you being chased by a horde of horny girls?"
"Well," Chikaru said. "They weren't really horny. Let me tell you what happened..."
After Chikaru told the story, Shizuma rubbed her chin. "Huh, weird," she said. "So they thought you're a psychic?"
"Yeah," Chikaru laughed. "I bet that never happened to James Randi."
Shizuma blinked. "Who's James Randi?"
A disappointed groan came from Chikaru's mouth. "Why does nobody here know who James Randi is? He's so awesome."
"I know who he is!" Kaori smiled while the three girls made their way towards the karaoke machine. "Long after I was first diagnosed with my condition, I was about twelve at the time, my mom became so sad and desperate. She took me to a lot of faith healers for a while before I told her I was only going to those faith healers because I thought it would upset her if I didn't go. I thought I could spend my last years on this Earth in better ways than hanging above incense for hours."
"Wise," said Chikaru. "Was your mom okay with it?"
"She meant well, but," Kaori smiled. "It took me quoting from a James Randi book to get her to see reason."
"Well, we'll have none of that today," Shizuma said. "Today, we'll have fun, music and maybe a little dancing if you feel up for it."
"Do I!" Kaori's smile could melt the polar icecaps.
"Shall I get us some drinks?" Shizuma asked.
"No, no, no," Chikaru said as she sat the two friends down on the chairs near the karaoke machine. "You two sit down and enjoy each other's company. I will fetch your drinks."
And so the evening began. After spending half an hour at the ring-toss game, Shizuma and Kaori chatted softly while Chikaru attended to her guests, making sure none of the girls at the super club was being ignored. Eventually, Chikaru found herself standing next to the karaoke machine, adding her voice to the music of The Final Countdown. After the song ended, a slower, more romantic song started.
As Chikaru continued the song in her beautiful singing voice, girls spontaneously paired up for a slow dance. Shizuma smiled and extended her hand to a happy Kaori. The taller girl hoisted Kaori to her feet, wrapped an arm around her waist and led the dance.
In my life there's been heartache and pain
I don't know if I can face it again
Can't stop now, I've traveled so far
To change this lonely life.
Chikaru sang to the music and Shizuma and Kaori twirled with the music, stepping back and forth. It took a few tries for Kaori to pick it up, but she was a quick study. Kaori pressed herself against Shizuma and simply enjoyed the moment. Then it happened!
I wanna know what love is!
Shizuma and Kaori locked eyes and found themselves unable to move. Shizuma drank in the sight of Kaori in front of her. Sweet, Innocent, Beautiful. Kaori.
I want you to show me!
Kaori blushed brightly as she lost herself as well. Free. Passionate. Courageous. Shizuma.
I wanna feel what love is!
Their breath quickened, their hearts pounded in their chests. Their eyes still locked, the two girls were utterly stunned.
I know you can show me!
Shizuma and Kaori finally pushed each other way, not daring to look at each other. It actually took Shizuma a few moments to recover and wondered what the hell had just happened. Kaori was apparently in a similar state. They sat out the remainder of the song on the bench looking straight ahead, not daring to look at each other.
"Okay," Chikaru said as she punched a few buttons on the Karaoke Machine. "Next song!"
Finally, Shizuma dared to turn to Kaori. "Kaori?" she asked, startling the smaller girl. "Want to dance again?" she asked with a lump in her throat.
Kaori blushed, but took Shizuma's hand. The two went back to the dance floor, a little more apprehensive about it. Subconsciously, the two girls kept a little distance between them this time, while Chikaru started singing.
I've been waiting for a girl like you, to come into my life...
"Oh, you're doing this on purpose!" Shizuma challenged Chikaru harshly.
"Who? Me? What?" Chikaru replied, trying to look innocent in a rather unconvincing way. While Kaori withdrew to her seat in silence, Shizuma crossed her armed and aimed a confrontational posture at her.
"Okay, you're my friend, but what are you trying to pull here?" Shizuma narrowed her eyes.
Figuring she had been caught, Chikaru decided it was for the best that she'd come clean. "I wanted to help you both."
Shizuma raised an eyebrow. "Help us?"
"Don't you get it, you're in love with Kaori-chan. Everybody sees that except the two of you. I thought that maybe if I could set the mood I could... prod you along," Chikaru shrugged.
Shizuma sighed heavily. "Ridiculous. I know my own feelings. I know my own mind," Shizuma retorted. "You are my friend, Chikaru, but..." she said, after putting a hand on Chikaru's shoulder. "Mind you own goddamn business! I don't appreciate being 'prodded along'!"
Chikaru gulped and nodded. The argument was beginning to attract attention and both Chikaru and Shizuma were not willing to ruin the good time of the other girls.
"Are we still friends?" Chikaru asked hesitantly while looking away.
"Look," Shizuma sighed, but offered a weak smile. "I'm not angry, I'm just... surprised. We'll talk about this some other time, I just... need to get out of here."
"I understand," Chikaru said. "And I'm sorry."
The silver-haired beauty strode over where Kaori was sitting. Kaori had been equally shaken by the sudden experience and dared not look Shizuma in the eye.
"So, uh," Shizuma muttered, almost a whisper. "S-shall I walk you to the dorms?"
"I... I'll be fine, I'll..." Kaori closed her eyes. "I'll walk to the dorms on my own in a little bit."
"You sure?" Shizuma asked.
"Okay, I'll see you tomorrow."
Having witnessed this awkward exchange, Chikaru severely regretted wanting to manipulate Shizuma and Kaori into admitting their obvious love for each other. Not only had it backfired spectacularly, she had risked her friendship with both of them. After watching Shizuma and Kaori leave separately, Chikaru forced a smile on her face and did what she could: attend the girls that were still left at the super club and push her down doubts away for the sake of the other girls at the club. But she wasn't happy about it.
Saturday morning, and Miyuki was, as usual, the first to rise. Ever the energetic girl, she swung her legs out of bed and strode right over to curtains to throw them open. The sun poured into the room, garnering an immediate reaction from Shizuma, who groaned loudly and rolled herself into her duvet.
"Up, up, sleepyhead," Miyuki laughed and patted Shizuma on the rump before heading into the bathroom to brush her teeth and wash up. After having changed into the slacks, she came out fully expecting Shizuma to crawl out of bed, hurling insults. However, she found Shizuma still rolled in her duvet.
Miyuki sighed, grabbed the duvet and yanked it away sharply. She was startled to find Shizuma fully dressed and rather pale. There were obvious bags underneath her eyes and her hair was a mess.
"Shizuma?" Miyuki asked. "Are you alright?"
"Do I look alright?" Shizuma retorted sharply and let out a yawn.
"Did you have a late night? I didn't hear you come in yesterday?"
"I barely slept at all," Shizuma whispered as she smushed her head into her pillow to keep the sun out. Miyuki quickly walked over to the window to close the drapes and sat down next to the bed.
"You haven't been drinking have you?" Miyuki asked.
"If I *had* been drinking, don't you think I would have slept better?" Shizuma spat back. "Sorry, that was uncalled for."
Miyuki nodded. "Don't you have to go have breakfast with Kaori-chan in a few minutes?"
"No," Shizuma replied, and Miyuki noted a mixture of disappointment and fear in Shizuma's voice. Whatever was on Shizuma's mind, it was driving her crazy. "I've been up all night... thinking."
"About what?" Miyuki asked.
"Things that are private," Shizuma said sharply before reaching over to pick the duvet off the ground and wrapping it around her again.
"Alright," said Miyuki. "Do you want me to bring you anything? Or do something for you?"
"I'll be fine," Shizuma said. "I just need to think... and rest... Just let me sleep her for a moment. It's Saturday."
Miyuki nodded. "Alright. But if you want to talk, my door is always open."
"I know. Thank you, Miyuki. You've always been a wonderful friend."
"Okay, now I *know* something is up."
"I have to sort this out for myself."
Now, Miyuki had seen Shizuma in broody moods before, but never as badly as this. She knew Shizuma well enough that she wouldn't want to talk; Shizuma never wanted to talk about her feelings. So she did the only thing she could do; she decided to leave her alone, but did promise her to bring up some breakfast to their room later.
And so Shizuma was left alone. However, she didn't find sleep or rest. She tossed and turned in bed as thoughts and doubts continued to assault her. Eventually, she let out a groan of frustration and jumped out of bed. After a quick wash-up, she tossed on an old pair of jeans, threw a shirt over her head and practically ran out the door.
Shizuma left the dorms and sought the solitude of the forest. The day was balmy, yet there was a cool breeze. And because most of the student body was at the carnival, there was little chance of running into someone. It was perfect for her needs.
She didn't exactly walk, but her stride was a mixture of stomping and strutting. Lost in thought, she muttered her way through the forest. "In love? Me? Hah, ridiculous," she told herself as she stomped on. "With Kaori? Kaori?! She's my friend. Nothing more. I'm Hanazono Shizuma, I'm not made for love. I'm not made for relationships! Free love Shizuma, that's me. Girl-hunter extraordinaire. One look, one kiss, one touch and she's mine forever... Kaori..."
Finding that her brain was guiding her thoughts in an undesired direction, Shizuma let out an agonized grunt. "Okay, okay," she stopped in her tracks. "I like Kaori. She is nice. She is my friend. And that's okay, because I'm not in love with her. I like spending time with Kaori. Because she's clever, and kind and genuinely fun to be with. And it's okay to spend time with a friend, because I'm not in love with her. Hah, the mere thought alone. I can't have a friend I like and not be in love with her? Hah, preposterous."
Shizuma continued her stomping through the forest in a straight until her path crossed civilization. She passed the library and meant to head into the forest beyond, in the process nearly knocking over Ruri, a Miator fourth year who was taking a break from rearranging the books. Shizuma apologized, the two started talking, talking turned to flirting and flirting turned into passionate kissing, fondling and undressing.
Shizuma grinned wickedly as her hand slipped down the front of Ruri's panties, making the other girl throw her head back in ecstasy... revealing the creamy white skin of her neck for licking and kissing. And after being thoroughly satisfied by her gentle touch, Shizuma was only too happy to accept Ruri's eagerness to return the favor.
After some time lazying about in the library holding each other, Shizuma left Ruri after a last kiss goodbye and stepped outside. She had figured a good old-fashioned shag against the book-stacks in the library would clear her mind, and for a small while, it did. However, soon enough, all the thoughts and doubts returned twofold a little later, mixed with something else just as terrifying: guilt.
Guilt because during the sex with Ruri, she had been constantly fantasizing about having sex with a certain someone else.
"Argh, this is ridiculous!" Shizuma wailed. "Okay, I'm not in love with Kaori. Not at all. I've had sex with countless girls before and I was never in love with any of them. I've fantasized about having sex with friends before and I was never in love with them. This is ridiculous!"
She had been walking so long that the sun was actually starting to set, and for the first time, she was starting to notice just how much lack of sleep mixed with the strenuous activity of walking all day was taking its toll. Her legs were aching and she didn't even want to think about the blisters on her feet. Shizuma decided it was time to get back to the dorms and sleep for a week. That is, if her brain would allow her to sleep.
Kaori, Kaori, Kaori, Kaori...
"Goddammit, brain! I swear, I'm going to get a coathanger, fold it open and stab it up my nose repeatedly!" Shizuma wailed. Whenever she closed her eyes, she saw Kaori. Whenever she heard no sounds, she heard Kaori. Whenever she was alone, she whispered Kaori's name.
"ARGH!" Shizuma shouted and violently punched the nearest tree, instantly regretting it because she spent the next five minutes fishing bits of sharp bark from her now bloodied hand.
She grimaced as she wrapped her handkerchief around her knuckles. Perhaps a visit to the nurse's office was in order before going to bed. She just hoped this wouldn't warrant a tetanus shot.
Just then, she heard a scream coming from the distance.
Kaori was tired. Then again, Kaori was often tired. In this case, however, she had been tired because she had been looking for Shizuma. The young girl dreaded having to do it, but she felt it was best to talk about what happened yesterday. As such, she had been looking for Shizuma. Unfortunately, she was nowhere to be found.
Literally nobody had seen her all day, so she suspected Shizuma had gone to the carnival with the other 95% of the student body. Seriously, Astraea Hill resembled a ghost town today.
Kaori sighed and decided to return to the Dorms for a rest. The young girl was quite aware of Shizuma's reputation around school and her romantic tastes. Her silver-haired friend had been open and honest about her sexual preferences from the very start and Kaori respected that.
She heard a few footsteps approaching her and she started for a moment when three girls stepped in her path. Kaori didn't recognize any of them, but from their uniforms, two were from Spica and one from Miator. All were third years and all were angry.
"Yes?" Kaori asked timidly as she wondered why on Earth these girls she did not know would be angry at her. "Can I help you?"
"Yes, you can," said one girl who stepped forward, a spican girl who appeared to be the ring-leader. The two others approached from her side and crossed their arms defiantly. Now being surrounded, Kaori felt increasingly uneasy.
"Stay away from Shizuma-sama!" said the ring-leader as she gave Kaori a violent shove. The raven-haired girl yelped as she lost her footing and fell into one of the other girls. The girl was expecting this, brace herself, and shoved Kaori forward again, towards the third girl. The third girl then shoved her again, towards the ringleader.
"Please!" Kaori cried out. "I haven't done anything to you!"
"Oh, you've done plenty!" snarled the ringleader. "Shizuma-sama is spending so much time with you. Time she's *not* spending with us. Ever since she's met you, she's hardly been spending any time with anyone else."
"Has she kissed you yet?" said the second girl before shoving her into the ground. "Or has she gone all the way with you in the forest at night?"
"I... I..." Kaori stammered, feeling her body starting to protest against this treatment. She felt her heart beating rapidly while her vision started to cloud. Unfortunately, the girls apparently mistook this reaction as a nervous admission.
"Don't worry, she'll dump you soon," grinned the third girl.
"Yeah," said the ringleaders. "Shizuma-sama likes smart girls with big boobs."
"She likes girls who can please her," the second girl chuckled. "I doubt you could keep up with her."
"Yeah, you're skinny and sickly and disgusting!" the ring leader said as she turned Kaori on her back, pinned her down and started slapping her in the face repeatedly. "Stay away from our Shizuma-sama, you can't take her away from us! Not a skinny little chit like you!"
Kaori closed her eyes and braced herself for another blow to her face. It never came.
With her eyes closed, she heard a fourth person approaching rapidly from the distance. Kaori whimpered inwardly, expecting it to be another person who would torment her. Meanwhile, her body started to protest even harder. It was becoming harder and harder to breathe.
Suddenly, however, she felt the pressure leave her chest as the girl who was sitting on top of her was violently shoved away, while the other girls gasped in shock. Kaori dared to open her eyes, and was relieved and overjoyed to see her her friend Shizuma, just as she broke a tree branch against the back of one of the girls. Shizuma gently knelt by Kaori and supported her back while sitting her up. The silver-haired girl's eyes flashed with anger as she regarded the ringleader.
"Karin," Shizuma said harshly. "Whatever relationship you deluded yourself into thinking we had is now over with. I never want to see you again. If you cross my path in the future, you *will* regret it."
"Shizuma-sama, I... I..." the ring-leader choked up. "I love you! We love you!"
"It's not fair!" sniffed another girl. "What do you see in her?"
"What does she have that we don't?!" the third girl cried in desperation.
"Begone! Out of my sight! All of you!" Shizuma shouted.
Amidst tears, the three girls ran off into the woods towards the dorms. Kaori could easily tell Shizuma wasn't eager to see any of them again.
Just then, Kaori hissed in pain. Her chest seized and she ground into the forest floor in a fetal position. Her muscles stiffened, then convulsed. Pain shot through every fiber of her being as her body started shaking heavily.
"Kaori!" Shizuma shouted as she sat next to her. Panic was evident in Shizuma's voice. "Oh, shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, what do I do?! What do I do?!"
"Pills," Kaori hissed through gritted teeth. "Pills."
Shizuma sat there for a moment, staring like a deer in the headlights before realizing what Kaori was saying. The silver-haired beauty shot up and quickly started looking for the purse which Kaori always carried around. It was a black, velvet purse with a pink cartoon kitty on side. Her grandmother had made it for her as a gift for her fifteenth birthday... a birthday the doctors said she would never live to see.
Apparently she had dropped it while the three girls assaulted her, as Shizuma took a few long agonizing moments to actually find it on the dirt path.
"Found it," Shizuma shouted as she ran back to Kaori. "Oh, shit, shit, there's an entire medicine cabinet in here!"
"Red ones," Kaori hissed in terrible agony. "In the small brown bottle."
Shizuma turned the bag upside down and out came almost two dozen bottles with different medicines. The older girl frantically searched through the pile of bottles. "Found it!" she said. yanking the top off. "How many?"
"T-three," said Kaori.
Shizuma nodded and gently propped up the shivering Kaori. "Hold my mouth close," she stammered. Kaori was used to living with pain, but seizures like this always made her feel like her insides were on fire. The pain was fast becoming unbearable and she feared she might pass out soon. Luckily, Shizuma complied. The old girl forced the pills into her mouth and helped her drink some water from a small flask. It was hard to keep the water and pills inside her mouth, but, doing as she was told, Shizuma clamped her hand over her mouth, forcing her to swallow.
The pills and the water found their mark. After a hefty coughing fit, Kaori felt her body relax. The pain did not subside as much, though, she would need to take more pills for that, but the immediate danger had passed and Kaori found herself being held by Shizuma. Sweet, smiling Shizuma.
Shizuma's smell, her warmth, the softness of her voice. It was soothing for Kaori. In fact, she couldn't remember the last time she had felt so safe.
"Shit," said Shizuma as her eyes started to water. "Don't scare me like that."
Shizuma was crying now. Crying and smiling. She was used to seeing people close to her cry. Her mother, her grandmother, her grandfather. Sometimes they smiled too, but those were not genuine smiles, but rather to keep a brave face on. Kaori had seen it so often she recognized it immediately. But this was different, completely different.
Her muscles were still sore from the sudden convulsions, but Kaori mustered up enough strength to raise a hand to Shizuma's cheek. She lay her palm on her cheek and smiled as she used her thumb to wipe the tears away.
"Don't cry," Kaori said. "It's over now. I know it's scary to see me having a seizure, but we got there in time. Don't worry, I'm used to it."
"H-how," Shizuma sobbed slightly, more from the shock than sadness. "How do you ever get used to something like that?"
Kaori offered a wry lopsided smile. "I sorta have no choice," she said. "It's a symptom of my... condition."
"You say that so easily," Shizuma sniffed.
"The moment I start feeling sorry for myself," Kaori said honestly, "I give in to my condition. I won't do that. I want to enjoy what time I still have, not spend those precious moments wallowing in self-pity."
Shizuma's gentle face twisted in rage. "Those bitches! If I get my hands on them, they'll..."
"They didn't know this would happen," Kaori said. "Don't blame them for it."
"You're right," Shizuma said angrily. "It's not their fault, it's mine!"
"Yes, that's right," Shizuma said. "I'm the one who jumped into bed with them. I'm the one who led them on into thinking there was more to our relationships than casual sex. Because, guess what, I wanted to keep the door open for even more casual sex... with *all* of them!"
"Sssh," Kaori said, feeling the need to lighten the mood. "You're not responsible for their actions. Now give me the kind, smiling Shizuma back, please."
"Sorry," Shizuma sighed.
Shizuma smiled again and looked Kaori in the eyes. Something seemed to change in the air, time seemed to freeze. Kaori was transfixed as Shizuma's face slowly, very slowly seemed to come towards her. Her heart started to pound in her chest for some reason as she came closer and closer.
Kaori had no idea what was going on, nor why she was getting so nervous, until Shizuma's impossibly soft lips touched hers.
Her body stiffened, her eyes grew wide in shock as she felt Shizuma's arms wrap around her waist. Agonizingly slowly, she felt the tip of Shizuma's tongue pushing against her lips, gently parting them. All sort of wonderful sensations came over her when Shizuma's tongue touched her own.
Then it hit her. This was Kaori's very first kiss.
And it was fantastic.
Kaori didn't really know what to do at first, or how to respond to Shizuma's gentle probing. Once Kaori snapped out of her kiss-induced stupor, she decided to try a few things. She pushed her own tongue forward, letting it slide along Shizuma's. This was enthusiastically received by Shizuma, who intensified her assault by twirling her tongue and holding Kaori a little tighter.
All pain was forgotten in that moment. A lock of impossibly soft silver hair fell down and caressed Kaori's cheek. Kaori could feel Shizuma's warmth as her soft body pressed against her. Once Kaori realized this, she gently let her hands roam over Shizuma's back. This was also enthusiastically received. Kaori felt a soft and gentle hand run through her hair.
Though the seizures had left her completely exhausted, this wonderful kiss was fast replenishing her energy.
And just like that, it was over.
Kaori almost groaned in disappointment as Shizuma withdrew her tongue and released her. "Well," Shizuma said. "I..."
Shizuma never got the chance to finish her sentence. She lashed out, wrapped her arms around Shizuma and pulled the taller girl down for more kissing. Kaori never thought she would be attracted to a girl, nor that a girl could be attracted to her. But Kaori was not someone to waste her precious time on such artificial distinctions. She kissed Shizuma hungrily, eager to experience more.
After an eternity, they broke their second kiss.
"I love you," Shizuma whispered softly. The admission, her own words startled her. It was clear in her face. "I love you," Shizuma repeated, as if feeling the need to reaffirm herself. "I..." Shizuma whispered softly. "I love you. I love you, Kaori. I want you to be with me. I want to be your girlfriend. I want you to love me back."
The words hit her like a truckload of bricks. Kaori had found peace with having a short life, but lamented on missing out what other people often took for granted. Never had Kaori expected that there would be time to find love.
But was she in love? Shizuma was her friend, she enjoyed her company, she admired her free and independent spirit. Kaori watched Shizuma's smiling face, her cheeks flustered and her silver-hair disheveled. Shizuma had always been up front about her reputation, but she had also admitted that she had never been in love. This was quite an admission, and undoubtedly unfamiliar terrain for her.
And after that kiss... Kaori wanted nothing more than to explore that unfamiliar terrain together.
"I want you to be my girlfriend," Kaori whispered.
A third, even more passionate kiss followed.
"I think we owe Chikaru-chan an apology."
"That we do."
The sun was already setting, but the carnival was still more than lively. As the daylight was slowly being vanquished by the dark of night, the many colorful lights of the carnival lit up. The volume of the music was lessened somewhat for the sake of the town's inhabitants, but the girls of the Hill were in no way less enthused.
The food and the Cotton Candy stand were currently most heavily visited, as most girls had skipped their evening meals. Chikaru and Shion were two of these girls, having spent the most of the afternoon at the carnival. Normally a large park, there were plenty of empty benches away from the noisy stands to find quiet moments. Several couples had chosen these benches to make out on, even.
"Here you go," said Shion as she handed a freshly fried Korokke to Chikaru. Chikaru smiled and took it while Shion sat down next to her. "Has the ambulance left yet? I didn't see it go."
"Yeah," Chikaru shook her head. "I told Miharu-san to stay away from the shooting gallery. She has notoriously bad aim."
"How did she manage to hit someone who was standing behind her while she took the shot?" wondered Shion.
"Nobody knows," Chikaru sighed. "Nobody knows."
Shion, having exchanged her prim and proper uniform for a more casual set of clothes, stared at Chikaru for a while and put an arm around her girlfriend's shoulders. "Alright," she said. "What's going on?"
"Don't 'hm?' me, you know exactly what I'm talking about," Shion said. "You've been quiet all evening. What's going on?"
Chikaru sighed. Shion could be perceptive at times and she seemed especially attuned to Chikaru's moods. "Well," said Chikaru. "I screwed up royally yesterday. I was trying to help Shizuma-sama and Kaori-chan connect and maybe even admit their feelings for each other."
Shion chuckled. "It's so obvious Shizuma-sama is in love with her, it almost painful to watch her flounder like that."
"Love is a new terrain for Shizuma-sama," said Chikaru. "I tried to brute-force the issue and it failed. I fear I might have driven them further apart. I don't know, maybe I should just mind my own business more often. I just hope I haven't ruined our friendship."
"I think," Shion said softly while kissing the top of her girlfriend's head. "You're being too hard on yourself. And Shizuma-sama... well, she's kind of person who'll be your friend for life if you treat her well. I don't think you'll have anything to worry about."
"Thanks," Chikaru lay her head on Shion's shoulder for a moment.
The two girls sat together for a moment after eating their korokkes, simply enjoying each other's company. "Hey," Shion suddenly said. "I have an idea. Come with me."
Shion led Chikaru to the Ferris wheel at the edge of the carnival. It was about twenty meters high and girls were already getting on for the next ride. Shion paid for all four seats in the booth and led Chikaru onto the wheel. They sat together quietly as the wheel raised up ever so often as all the booths were filled. Soon the ride would begin.
Or it would have, were it not for a sudden power failure.
Every single light of the entire carnival went out. Gone was the music. Gone were the tooting horns from the many stands. Aside from the sounds of girls murmuring far below, the only sounds which could be heard were the chirping of the cicada's and the rush of the ocean in the distance.
"Well," Chikaru said. "That was to be expected."
"How so?" Shion asked.
"Didn't you see the power distribution point? I'm no electrician, but stuffing over fifty plugs into a single power node isn't the best of ideas," Chikaru said.
"Look, we're actually the top booth," Shion said.
Chikaru could only nod in agreement. The view was rather spectacular. The Hill was behind them and the ferris wheel was overlooking the now darkened town and the ocean in the distance.
"Rather romantic, hm?" Chikaru smiled gently.
"Oh, is that a hint?" Shion smirked.
"Come here before I hit you," Chikaru laughed before leaning in for a kiss.
"You do look lovely tonight," Chikaru smiled after they broke the kiss.
Shion frowned slightly. "I... I don't look different than I usually do. I feel..."
"Don't talk yourself down so much," Chikaru smiled.
"Heh," Shion chuckled. "Just a few minutes ago, I was the one cheering up you. How did we get here?"
"We stepped on a ferris wheel."
"Haw, haw," Shion smiled. "And look where it got us."
An hour later, around midnight, Shion and Chikaru had returned to the dorms. Shion, still miffed about what had happened, was complaining hard enough to be heard on the other side of the hallway.
"Dammit," Shion said again. "I mean, I can understand that the fireman was only doing his job, but I was not wounded nor on fire. I don't understand why he had to sling me over his shoulder. I am not a helpless damsel, I know how to climb a ladder!"
Chikaru laughed briefly. "What you just said was so Spica. I think he didn't expect you to berate him."
"Mind you, it was cute to see you get all disappointed about the haunted house," Shion said. "Did you know you have the cutest pout I've ever seen?"
Chikaru sighed, and once again displayed the cute pout. "I dunno. I was really looking forward to it, but it's just that a sheet on a rope just doesn't cut it anymore."
"With all the stuff you read and watch, you're probably pretty desensitized as it is," Shion said.
"That haunted house needed a creepy girl climbing up from a well," Chikaru laughed.
They finally arrived at Shion's room and stopped as Shion slipped the key in the lock and twisted it.
"W-would you like to come in?" Shion asked. "I have a water-cooker in my room. We could have a cup of tea to finish the evening."
"Hm, that would be lovely," Chikaru said and followed Shion into the room. Shion scrambled to turn on a desklamp, hitting her knee against the desk. After setting up the water-cooker, preparing the tea and the cups, they sat down on the floor on a pillow in front of a low table Shion produced from underneath her bed.
"Here you go," Shion told Chikaru before handing her her cup.
Chikaru took the cup and put it to her lips. "Thank you," she said before taking a sip.
The two drank their tea. It was quickly finished.
"Are you really alright living here alone?" Chikaru asked.
"It's not so bad," Shion replied, her nervousness increasing.
Chikaru frowned as she put down her tea. "Shion-chan? Is something wrong?"
Shion took a deep breath, put down her cup and gently took Chikaru's hands. "Chikaru-chan, I..."
"What is it?" Chikaru said with some concern.
"Chikaru-chan, I..." Shion was almost hyperventilating now. "W-would you... like to... spend the night with me?"
Chikaru stiffened slightly, gulping a bit as she was finding it hard to breath. "I, uh, I..."
"It's okay if you don't want to," Shion said quickly. "I... I mean, I..."
"Shion," Chikaru whispered softly. "I... I've been thinking about this a lot lately."
"Y-you have?" Shion was genuinely surprised.
"Y-yes," Chikaru said. "I think I'm... ready for this."
Shion went from blush to blanche in less than a second. "Y-you are?"
Chikaru trembled slightly. "I... guess so. So... how do we start?"
Shion took a few deep breaths. "I... suppose we lie down on the bed first?"
A few seconds later, both were lying on the bed next to each other, stiff as a board and staring at the ceiling.
"Okay," Shion said. "So far so good. So... what do we do now?"
"I... I..." Chikaru swallowed harshly. "I think we should... take our clothes off."
"Oh?" Shion blinked. "OH!"
Embarrassed and somewhat frightened, the girls crawled underneath the duvet and slowly removed their clothing, making sure the other girl couldn't see what was happening. A few minutes later, they were once again lying on the next to each other, still stiff as a board and still staring at the ceiling. The only difference now was that they were naked and underneath the duvet.
"What happens next?" Chikaru asked as both girls blushed wildly.
"I... I suppose we kiss?" Shion suggested.
"T-that sounds about right."
The girls turned to each other, but embarrassment quickly won out. Once again, they were staring at the ceiling.
"This is silly, we've make out on this bed loads of times!"
"But we weren't naked!"
Gently, ever so gently, Shion and Chikaru turned to their sides, making sure that the duvet covered up their bodies. Without moving their bodies towards each other, they craned their necks towards each other in such a way that it made for a very awkward kiss.
"I guess we need to move closer to each other," Shion bit her lip.
"Okay, on the count of three, we move together."
The girls shuffled their bodies towards each other until they touched underneath the duvet. Both Shion and Chikaru gasped as their skin met. Their hearts pounded in their throat as their lips touched. The was something so much more intense to this kiss than the many they have had before. Slowly shedding the embarrassment, the girls embraced tightly and kissed even deeper.
The ball really started rolling when Chikaru took Shion's hand and put it on her breast. Shion's breath caught in her throat as she gently caressed the softness underneath her fingertips.
Shion and Chikaru made love. They found out pretty quickly in that reading about it does not compare to actually doing it. First of all, experiencing it was much, much, much better than reading about it. Secondly, there was much more fumbling about than there was in the books. Oh boy was there fumbling. However, the girls were eager to experiment.
At one point or another, Chikaru banged her head against the headboard, Shion fell out of bed which led to loads of giggling, and they managed to twist the duvet around their bodies, forcing them to disentangle themselves before continuing.
After a short break holding each other, the loving making started anew. And both girls immediately noticed that the second time went a lot better than the first time. With all insecurity and embarrassment completely shed, the two girls were free to make love with all possible enthusiasm. Words of love mixed with sighs of pleasure until deep into the night.
The next morning, Chikaru was the first to wake up and found herself being clutched by a sleeping Shion. The sun warmed them as they lay underneath the duvet, while Chikaru gently started to rub Shion's hair.
A few years ago, Chikaru would never have expected to be in a relationship with a girl and last night, she had lost her virginity to one. A girl which she happened to love, even. She chuckled to herself; those oh so unwelcome sex tips her mom had given her months ago certainly came in handy last night, but she certainly wasn't planning to tell her mother.
Shion stirred in her sleep. She groaned, stretched and her eyes fluttered open.
"Hi," Chikaru whispered.
"Hi," Shion replied as she settled against Chikaru. "So... last night wasn't a dream?"
"I sure hope not," Chikaru grinned as the two girls kissed.
"I love you, Chikaru-chan," Shion said.
Chikaru smiled. "I love you too, Shion-koi."
Shion blinked, but then smiled. "Shion-koi. I like that."
"Hm," said Chikaru. "It's Sunday. No classes, no commitments."
"No homework or studying anymore," Shion bit her lip. "Whatever shall we do to pass the time?"
"Cheeky," Chikaru grinned as both girls giggled and slipped underneath the duvet.
All is well. For now, at least.