ASK FOR THE SKY
Chapter One - "Go out with me."
"You're attracted to me."
"I'd have to be crazy."
"You are," Oshitari Yuushi informed her. "About me."
"I'm not." Her voice sizzled like a burning thread shortening up to a mountain of explosives. "You insist upon that a million times a day, and I disillusion you in the most insulting way possible. What does that tell you?"
"That you're stubborn and in denial?"
Jukumaru Hizashi gave a haughty sniff, emerald green eyes glittering diamond-like. "The more likely conclusion would be that you are." Without a backward glance, she stalked off towards the school gates, brown ponytail swaying as she walked.
Watching her go, Oshitari shrugged and rejoined the group of Hyotei regulars waiting for him. He motioned for them to continue on their way to the tennis courts for afternoon practice. An amused smirk graced his lips.
Ohtori Choutarou looked over his shoulder curiously. "Who was that, Oshitari-san?"
The second year did a double take and turned again, craning his neck to see the girl leaving the school grounds indifferently. "…Really?" he couldn't help but ask dubiously.
"Yes," Oshitari drawled, unconcerned. "She just doesn't know it yet."
The regulars heaved a collective sigh. As those in his year knew only too well, the resident tensai had, for some reason known only to himself, taken an interest in Jukumaru Hizashi from his class. This had happened quite out of the blue, and everyone was still trying to figure out what had sparked his sudden intrigue in the girl. She wasn't rich or well connected. Her family was unremarkable. She wasn't even that pretty.
Atobe was waiting for them at the courts. "So?" he asked Oshitari as he arrived. "Any progress?" Among all his friends, the captain was the only one who didn't question Oshitari's motives, only took an unholy amount of pleasure in watching the navy-haired boy struggle.
"Yes, I've exhausted her supply of nasty refusals. She will either have to repeat herself and sound like an idiot, or start being civil to me," Oshitari reported, nose proudly in the air as though he'd just made an enormous accomplishment.
Hyotei's diva blinked, then shook his head. "Even to Ore-sama, your methods of wooing women are undeniably novel."
The tensai simply gave him a superior smile.
"Go out with me."
"Let's have a date tonight."
"Fuji…" Oishi groaned into his fingers, having slapped a hand to his face. "I think when she says, no, she doesn't want to go out with you, she means, no, she doesn't want to go out with you."
Tezumi Sachie nodded gratefully. "What he said," she told Fuji, hoping that if he refused to believe her, his teammate's words would have better success convincing him.
Fuji tilted his head to one side, peering at her pleasantly. "This afternoon, five o'clock?"
Tezumi growled from deep in her throat with pent up frustration, reluctantly admitting that she had been clutching at straws. When a tensai didn't want to get the message, nothing and nobody could make him.
"This is ridiculous!" Momoshiro threw up his arms, at last admitting defeat in his attempts to make his senpai see reason. It was beyond his comprehension as to how the Third Year, who was always so perceptive and paid so much attention to details on the tennis court, could suddenly regress back to the oblivion of a two-year-old.
"Fuji, come on," Oishi urged despairingly, tugging at the brunette's arm. "We'll be late for tennis. If we're late for tennis, Tezuka will make us run laps. You wouldn't want to run laps, would you?" He winced. Great. Now he was reduced to using baby talk. On a supposed genius. It just sounded so wrong.
"But why, Tezumi?" Fuji asked, his voice bordering on whiny. "We're in love."
She shuddered visibly, inky black eyes wincing at the very thought.
"Just because she arguably saved your life doesn't necessarily mean she's in love with you," Oishi explained in exasperation. He signaled to Tezumi behind his back, gesturing for her to make her escape while he had her admirer's full attention. "Now, tennis."
Waiting until Oishi had shifted his position, bodily shielding her from view, Tezumi inched down the corridor of Seigaku's school building, one hand groping at the wall, waiting for it to end so she could turn a corner out of sight.
If I could just get away…
She was due for a shift at the school library, a place where she could easily hide herself among the shelves for a few hours and no one could find her. At least, she was pretty certain no one could find her. She hadn't told anyone about this; not her friends, not even her parents.
With a gasp of relief, she finally flung herself into the hallway perpendicular to the one Fuji, Oishi and Momoshiro were still in. The nearest path to the tennis courts was in a different direction, and even if the three boys looked around now, they wouldn't see where she'd gone.
She jumped when Fuji's call echoed around her.
"I'll see you at the library in a while, okay?"
She slumped against the wall. "Dear Kami, why me?"
Oshitari looked like he was genuinely deliberating her question. "Why not you?"
Hizashi was glad to already be hitting something. A tennis ball. With a racket. Against a wall in a park near Hyotei. She wasn't on the school team—she didn't fancy the excessively intense training—but she enjoyed the sport and used it was an outlet for nervous energy.
Lately it had also helped work off the urge to kill something.
"You have a fan club full of girls with higher status and good looks to recommend them than me," she pointed out, trying to reason with him. It felt like trying to swim up a waterfall. "Plus, they'd actually want to get close to you. Not that I can see why."
"Those are Atobe's fan girls." Oshitari stood a few feet away, hands in his pockets, lithe legs in a confident slouch. "And you're obsessed with me too."
The casual remark caught Hizashi off balance. No matter how many times this was declared, and after having heard every possible variation of 'you're attracted to me' there was to hear, she still couldn't face such a statement with detachment. She swung her racket but missed— the ball flew past her, bouncing off the low fence behind the two of them and rolling to a stop at Oshitari's feet.
"What the hell gave you that idea?" she demanded.
"Ah," the blue-haired youth said knowingly. He'd had to answer this question many, many times and had yet to provide a plausible (as in from her perspective; it went without saying that everything he did made perfect sense to him, if not anyone else) answer. "It's very obvious. It's in every word you say, every time you look at me. It speaks of your deep infatuation—"
She snorted in derision. "I highly doubt that. No, seriously. Would I fall for a guy who's too much of a jerk even to pick up and give back a tennis ball that's five inches away from him?"
Oshitari cocked a brow. He bent down, scooped up the aforementioned ball and tossed it to her. "There. Does that mean you'll admit your undying devotion to me?"
Hizashi turned her gaze heavenward.
"There you are, Tezumi!"
The girl grabbed the high wooden shelf in front of her, narrowly avoiding tumbling off the portable ladder she was on. Hurriedly stuffing the book in her hand onto the correct level, she hopped off the contraption before Fuji could do anything more to startle her into losing her footing. And falling into his waiting arms, no less.
It was just the kind of thing he would do.
She glanced at her watch and frowned. "Practice ended five minutes ago. How did you find me so quickly?" Seigaku's school library was of a considerable size. There was no way he could have spotted her in a glance.
"I knew you'd be here," Fuji said brightly.
Tezumi eyed him skeptically. "Right here in the photography section?" Tensai or not, he couldn't see through walls (though sometimes she did wonder).
She thought this claim over. "Fuji? Two things. First, how did you know I'd be at this exact spot? Second, I did not come here to take out books on photography so as to increase my potential conversation topics with you in order to further develop our relationship!"
Just so that he knew.
Smiling, unfazed, Fuji pointed at the dozens of books on photo taking jammed upon the mobile book rack beside them. "I returned all of those this morning. You'd have to take a long time putting them back."
Tezumi felt her jaw drop. This was simply too unfair. Was it not enough that she was being stalked? What had she done to deserve a stalker that could plan ahead and position her activities for his convenience?
"But of course you felt the need to read up on my hobbies too."
Shelving another book, she glared at him.
Fuji looked hurt. "What? I read up on yours. I can make an entire forest of animals now. With seven variations of trees."
Tezumi sighed, haphazardly pushing back her jet black hair, which had started to fall out of its ponytail. This was exactly why she didn't want to see him romantically. Oh, not because of the origami, obviously. But for what it represented.
He tried so hard, Fuji. He had gone out of his way to become an expert on everything she'd ever mentioned liking. He knew her schedule inside out and used that knowledge to be with her all the time. He came at her during lunchtimes and tried to feed her home-made rice balls shaped like hearts.
And they'd tasted good. She knew for a fact that he'd nearly failed Home Economics last year.
He did anything within his power to please her. He was kind and caring and considerate and understanding—except where her apprehension towards dating him was concerned—and had converted himself into the perfect boyfriend to boot.
It. Was. Scary.
Oh, and perhaps there was an ego problem involved as well. Even she couldn't make seven types of trees and she had been folding things out of paper since third grade.
"Maa, the library closes in fifteen minutes," Fuji observed. "Where will we be going afterwards?"
"I'll be going home," Tezumi said firmly. "I don't know where you're going."
"Somewhere with you?"
Fuji let out a disappointed "Saa…"
He looked so dejected—and adorably so—that Tezumi took pity on him and braced herself to elaborate yet again. Maybe this time he would get her reasoning. Five hundred and thirty second time lucky, eh? "It's not that you're a bad person, Fuji. I'm sure a lot of girls would jump at the chance to go and date with you…"
The tensai perked up hopefully.
"…But I can't say I'm one of them. It's just…I don't want to. I mean, you're my friend. I can't see myself doing it. Frankly."
Downcast, Fuji looked at her unhappily like an abandoned puppy who couldn't understand why he went unloved. But then, the twinkle returned to his eyes and a smile grew rapidly on his face. "Prove it," he said with a hint of challenge.
"I turn you down a million times and I still have to prove it?" She raised an eyebrow.
Rolling her eyes, she decided to humor him. Perhaps if she could convince him that she really didn't want a relationship yet, doing it his way, he would leave her alone. "How?"
"Go out with me."
She slapped her forehead with the book she was holding. "And how is that supposed to prove that I don't want to go out with you?"
Fuji was positively beaming. "Ten days. Date me for ten days and if you can still leave me in the end, I'll believe you."