I. Can't. Stop. Writing. Toshokan. Sensou. Fanfiction. I think it's a disease. Oh well, until a cure's discovered, I guess I'll just keep spouting random oneshots like this one.
Disclaimer: I don't own Kasahara, Doujou, or any other part of Toshokan Sensou/Library War, or the song "She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals.
"She drives me crazy
Like no one else."
- Fine Young Cannibals
It was one of those days when his only comfort was the knowledge that once he got home, he could take off his school uniform and end the day. Doujou Atsushi wasn't a great supporter of self-pity, but sometimes being a teenager-almost-adult felt like a cruel and unusual torture, especially when you happened to be the shortest boy in your graduating class. And it wasn't even that anything in particular went wrong - it was just that everything did.
Well, it never rained but it poured, or so they claimed. Funnily enough, Doujou couldn't recall a sunnier day this month than today. The sky was so blue it was nearly glowing, even the dullest, most scraped corners of cement were sparkling, and sweat was creeping down his neck as he trudged uphill. He paused on the sidewalk to loosen his stiff white collar, which was scratching his collarbone as well as suffocating him in this heat, and was fumbling one-handed with his tie when he thought he caught a glimpse of a sliver of shiny red on the horizon, and he looked up.
Well, there certainly was some shiny red, but it was most definitely not a sliver, and it wasn't on the horizon anymore either. In fact, it was hurtling towards him at breakneck speed, wheels churning up dust and dirt, waving its arms and yelling incomprehensibly.
Doujou had time to shout something along the lines of "Wh-!", perhaps the beginning of a sentence or perhaps just an exclamation of horror, before the red shiny thing - it also seemed to be white, blue and brown, he managed to notice - completely bowled him over. Two things, one hard and one softer, slammed into him at the same time with a force that knocked all the wind out of him and tossed him to the pavement like a rag doll. His shoulder met the ground first, and he let out a cough-gasp as the impact whooshed through his body, which gave way to a pained, irritated groan.
"Urgh...what the..." he muttered, muffled, into the sidewalk. What the heck was that? And what's weighing on my legs so that I can barely move?
Just then, the unexplained weight lifted abruptly, and he caught a flurry of whirling dark blue fabric as something moved beside him. A skirt? He rolled over gingerly and propped himself up on an elbow.
"Ah! Darn it! The books!" A voice, loud and frantic and feminine, spoke up nearby. "Please, please, please let them not be damaged!" Doujou turned his head to see what was unmistakably a girl, dressed in a vaguely familiar school uniform - not his, but from a middle school in the vicinity - hopping around madly, carefully snatching scattered books from the street. And lying next to him, spinning tire dangerously close to his skull, was a bright red bicycle.
Struck dumb by the situation, it took a few moments for him to put two and two together - presumably, the bicycle and the books were the girl's, meaning that she had run right into him and dropped everything. Well, that explained a lot. But not why she was currently desperately brushing off her books, smoothing their covers and counting them, and totally ignoring the guy that she'd just sent flying.
This didn't sit too well with Doujou, already feeling the bruises he was sure to have tomorrow, and he had opened his mouth to demand an explanation when she suddenly spun towards him, meeting his gaze for the first time and momentarily disabling his power of speech.
She had a round, rather boyish face, with a small nose and short, messy brown hair, cropped jaggedly just below her ears. But her big eyes, a few shades darker than chocolate, were so wide and unguarded and somehow pure, open and honest as if she were just a child, that they arrested his anger, all his emotions in fact, and for a second he just stared at her.
"Hey! You!" she exclaimed suddenly, as if spotting him for the first time. "I'm still missing a book! Did you see it anywhere?"
Still affected by speechlessness, Doujou reached underneath himself, where a hardcover novel had made an uncomfortable armrest for his wrist. He stood up and held it out to her. She reached out and took it eagerly, and he tilted his chin to get a better look at her when it hit him that he actually had to tilt his chin up, because she was at least five centimetres taller than he was. Great! A girl, who had to be a few years younger than he was, totally whipping him in the height department. Just what I needed today, he thought bitterly. To be knocked over by a bicycle ridden by a tall person.
Her spell on him dissipated, and he snatched his hand back. "Be more careful!" he snapped irately. "You could have killed me, you know!"
She actually had the gall to look surprised. "Oh, I hit you?? I thought there was someone in my way, so I yelled at them to move, but then I kind of wiped out and I was worried about all the books, so I didn't really look around to check. You didn't break anything, did you?"
His jaw literally dropped at her blasé attitude. 'Someone in her way'? 'Didn't really look around'? She was...she was just...really...! "What do you mean, did I break anything? You'd better hope I didn't break anything! How could you not have 'looked around to check'? You come barrelling down the street like no one ever invented brakes, practically run over an innocent pedestrian, land on top of him, and then you just jump up without even noticing?"
His rant seemed to put her into offensive mode, and those wide eyes of hers narrowed into an intense glare, her lips pouting childishly. It would have been less threatening if she hadn't had such an obvious height advantage. "Hey! These are library books, you know - it's a serious matter if I bring them back all ripped and stained! Besides, I was yelling at you the whole way down, so you had plenty of time to get out of the way. And if not, you're a man, aren't you? Kind of short for one, but still, you should be able to pick yourself up."
"That is...not...the...point," Doujou gritted out, steaming. She'd just insulted his height, for Pete's sake! He hadn't been this furious in ages. "You're the one who lost control of the bike and smashed into me, and now you're trying to blame it on me?!"
"I'm just saying, when you're walking down the street that self-absorbed, a collision with a bicycle is about what you can expect," she retorted hotly, hugging the book he'd given to her protectively to her chest as if she thought he might hurt it. She gave him a quick once-over that was disdainful enough to make his blood boil. "Besides, you look fine to me, so stop being such a baby."
At this point Doujou was having difficulty finding words to express his outrage. You will not make this the first time you hit a girl, he chanted to himself, fighting for composure. I will not make this the first time I hit a girl...don't hit her...even if she is bigger than I am...at any rate, he succeeded in making himself exponentially angrier.
She saw something behind him, and ducked around him with ease to stoop down and collect it. It was yet another book. "Oh, this one's not mine," she said aloud. "I guess it must be yours." She gave him a mistrustful glance, but she patted its cover lovingly, brushing dirt from it, and carefully unbent a folded-over corner of a page before handing it to him. As it exchanged hands, she caught its title and her eyes lit up. "Hey, that's one of my favourites! You like it?"
It was actually the third or fourth time Doujou was re-reading it, but he couldn't quite admit that and instead replied grudgingly, "...Yes, I do."
She looked pleased, and actually gave him something close to a smile as she ordered, "You'd better take good care of it!"
"You're one to talk," he grumbled in response, and then regretted it as she immediately grew defensive again.
"Well, you're a jerk!" she barked. It was a fairly lame comeback when he thought about it, but it still sort of stung. Then, she very impudently actually stuck her tongue out at him, clearly stating her opinion as she righted her bicycle and looped one leg over it. This attracted his attention to her long, athletic legs, and to a large blot on her knee-high stocking. A blot? Had she stained it when she'd fallen? With what?
Then he noticed the thin trail of red down her skin. "Wait!" he said suddenly, lunging forward to grab her arm as she prepared to pedal away. "You're bleeding."
Confused, she craned her neck to examine herself. "Huh? Where? Oh!" she realized as she caught sight of her right knee, which bore a deep, raw gash and was bleeding profusely. It looked ugly, and painful.
"How could you not notice that?" Doujou demanded, more in disbelief than annoyance. "It's bleeding everywhere."
"It didn't hurt until you mentioned it!" she snapped. "So thanks a lot!"
She sure is determined to pin everything on me, he thought, but most of his former ire was gone. This girl had crashed her bike, knocked somebody over, torn open her knee, and been so worried about her books of all things that she hadn't even been aware. She was really something. He almost admired her, in a crazy, reckless way.
"You should get that cleaned up," he said, bending to get a closer look. There didn't seem to be any gravel or anything stuck in the wound, which was good. "Get off your bike."
"What? Why? I don't need your help," she objected immediately, scowling and leaning away from him.
He sighed and gritted his teeth, withdrawing a handkerchief from his pocket. What was wrong with this girl? He was trying to help her, darn it! "All right, fine! Just put your foot on the ground, then."
She more or less had to obey, since she couldn't balance very well with both feet on the pedals, and once she was stabilized he wrapped the handkerchief around her knee, covering the cut and tying it snugly in the back. Although he didn't actually touch her skin, her leg quivered slightly, and he felt suddenly embarrassed, standing hastily.
He cleared his throat, face warm. "...There," he intoned gruffly, "that should last you until you get to wherever you're going. Then you can wash it and get a bandage."
She met his eyes again, this time with the same disarmed expression she'd had at the beginning of their encounter, but a little more puzzled, a little softer. "Um...the library," she answered, sounding much quieter than before, almost hushed, as if his actions had somehow cowed her. She clarified awkwardly, "I'm going to the library. I go there almost every day after school."
That made sense. So much sense, in fact, that it made him smile, a brief grin that she must have caught, judging from the widening of her eyes. "I go pretty often, too. It's not far," he said, embarrassed again. He did go to the library frequently; he wondered if he'd ever seen her there before and just not registered it. He doubted it - she was impossible to miss.
She stared at him for a few seconds, deliberating, then smiled too, her lips turning up symmetrically at the corners. Seeming to have arrived at a decision, she abruptly stuck out her arm and blurted, "I'm Kasahara Iku. Who're you?"
Taken aback, he hesitated for only a moment before giving her hand a firm, gentle shake, squeezing her fingers in his own. Her grip was strong, confident, stubborn, just like her. "Doujou Atsushi," he said, adding after a cautious, tentative pause, "Nice to meet you."
She let go of his hand and kicked off, racing down the street once again and shouting over her shoulder, "Bye! And thank yoooouuu!" The word dragged out as she sped away, leaving him to grab his own bag and watch as she disappeared in a cloud of her own making. He dashed a few feet after her, hollering, "Slow down, you idiot! Use your brakes! Brakes! Do you want the same thing to happen again?!"
He stopped, panting. It was a hopeless cause. Besides, the truth was, if he let himself admit it, that he sort of did want the same thing to happen again. With him and her, that was.
And more than likely, no one ever had invented brakes in Kasahara Iku's world.
A/N: I had this image of Kasahara crashing her bike into Doujou and then running around frantically picking up all her spilled books while totally ignoring him, and I couldn't get it out of my head, so I just slipped it into this little thing. Doujou is supposed to be a high school student in his last year, while Kasahara, five years younger (I think?), is still in middle school. I was trying to use the Japanese school system, but I'm not exactly sure how it works, so please forgive any inaccuracies.
Anyway, I had fun writing it. I always have fun writing these two. Thanks for reading!