A/N: Don't hate me for cheating in this chapter! It was originally what I was going to do in Ch9 but then I changed my mind and made it the final chapter instead. Anyway, enjoy!
There Is No Answer
The past few weeks had been stressful, even though it had not been my problems it felt worse that I could do nothing but watch from the side lines.
I had been uncertain when her mood slowly fouled with no obvious reason, I took it as the build up of stress as we approached exams, or the fact that I barely knew her in the first place and it was just how she was - but the moment Fujino-san entered the picture her mood suddenly changed and she rushed off without a word – I got worried, but I didn't know what to do.
Her behaviour had been odd when she came back, and I had an inkling of an idea what the problem was, but I felt like it wasn't my place to say anything, then even seeing Fujino-san running out of our dorm room with tears in her eyes I didn't know how I could possibly help.
As the days went by; as I watched her fall further and further into her own little shell, I could only do the little things I could: making her favourite food and suggestions like bringing Fujino-san along to the culture festival with a student council reunion as the guise. Yet it didn't help - she came back worse than when she started; returning drenched and an emotional wreck.
I'm surprised I wasn't more shocked at her display of vulnerability; I would have never imagined she could cry so painfully, but perhaps it was watching her slowly break, little by little, during those past few days that I had already prepared myself to see a broken Natsuki. It was heart-breaking but at the same time I was glad – it was the last straw that finally allowed her to open up her heart and invite me in to help.
Her explanations confirmed my suspicions, however it was at this point that I realised what little I could help with: Fujino-san liked Natsuki, but Natsuki didn't… yet Natsuki wanted to stay friends, however Fujino-san didn't… That was the problem, but the first question that appeared in my mind was: Why is Natsuki so shaken up by this?
Why was Natsuki, the reclusive Ice Princess, caring so much about a friend that she would break down crying just because their friendship was fading? In my honest opinion, I thought it was because that so called 'friend' was more than what the title suggests. However Natsuki denied it, and being one that hadn't been friends with the both of them for very long I decided to accept her choice as fact.
But now… I don't know what to think, she had left last night to go on her first supposed date, and then coming home late, she went straight to bed… there wasn't a good opportunity to bring the subject up this morning… I wonder how it went…
Are they really going out? Is everything as Natsuki describes it to be? Are there really no lies or misunderstandings between them? I find it hard to believe, especially with their problems and with the things that had happened… I can't help but feel sceptical.
Natsuki was so desperate before; so ready to find any means necessary to keep them together that I wouldn't be surprised if it was a last ditch attempt to tie Fujino-san down to her.
Desperation can do many things to people… Yet if she was so desperate, doesn't that mean her feelings towards her is more than just friends? That was my conclusion in the first place… however she said it wasn't… yet now she says it is… I don't know, I can't tell, I'm not her…
I felt like there was a vice tightening on my head, my brain throb in complaint as I tried to figure out the elusive riddle that was my friend's life and mind.
Finally I exhaled a forfeiting sigh.
"Eh? What is it Chie? Oh? Is it lunch already?" I was called out of my musing, bringing my attentions to the short haired, glasses-wearing girl sitting in front of me.
"Leave the eating for later. Is it true?" Her eyes glistened with interest.
"What is?" I knew what those eyes meant and the answer that followed.
"That Natsuki-kun and Fujino-san are an item!" She answered in a slightly shrill voice, catching Aoi's attention, who was walking over.
I rolled my eyes at her, the word had spread fast; faster than I could imagine.
"They're just rumours; they've always been close. You know, it probably because of the culture festival that this started. You shouldn't pay any mind to it." I covered, obviously badly because Chie held an unconvinced expression.
"Then how do you explain the mob this morning?" She asked, causing me to recall the traumatic event that occurred, not so many hours ago.
"Argh! Don't remind me, the moment the three of us past the school gate, we were shoved left and right, I didn't know what was happening! All I could hear was that they were crying about Fujino-san"
"Exactly!" She exclaimed as though she had just made some break through but I just continue to stare, waiting for her explanation as to what I said was able to prove anything.
She smirked like a bragging person who knew something that everyone else was dying to know.
"There's no way, Fujino-san's followers would make a move without some solid proof! Else, they would have swarmed a heck of a lot of people! This must mean something more is going on here, and with you being Natsuki's good friend and dorm mate you must know something! So, spill!"
I didn't understand the logic behind her reasons, despite the fact the rumours being true, at least from what Natsuki had mentioned…
"Chie, that doesn't prove anything." I replied, exasperated while my hands were busy locating and handling several boxes beside me.
"But there's something to prove right? Say, was Natsuki-kun out last night or has she mentioned that she's going out sometime this week or next?" She questioned suspiciously.
I eyed her cautiously, and countered with my own question: "What's it to you…?"
"Nothing; just curious, well?"
I wondered if I should lie and say she was at home with Mikoto and I, but there may had been someone that had seen her leave or come back last night, so I decided to tell the truth but withhold anything substantial, it was then that I realised how quiet and still the classroom was – everyone was listening in.
The pressure of being the centre of attention was getting to me, although I wasn't the subject, I felt sweat begin to bead down my head.
'The things I go through for my friends…'
"Hey where is Natsuki?" I asked once I realised the blue haired girl's absence.
"Don't change the subject!"
"Geez, fine! Yes, she went out. No, I don't know where or with whom, and no idea what her plans for the next week are."
"Really. Now where is she?"
"Stormed outside the moment the bell rang, I think she was avoiding that crowd." She finished with a thumb pointing to the crowd of people peering into our classroom, for some reason their eyes were locked on to me...
I let out a heavy sigh as I recalled all the joys of being the infamous Fuuka ice princess' dorm-mate and friend.
It was a miracle, I don't know how I did it but I did. Somehow I was able to get the both of us out of that classroom by sweet talking those foolish boys in our class to act like security guards and pave a way out for the two of us.
I heard about the commotion this morning but I didn't realise the sheer magnitude of people or perhaps how fast the rumour continued to spread – in any case, it wasn't like I could have left the air head by herself, it wasn't her problem to deal with; she probably wouldn't even know how.
"Nao, do you have your lunch?" The previously mentioned air-head asked as we walked out of the Junior High building and headed towards the High School division.
"No. I usually buy my lunches." It was a half lie – usually my lunches are brought for me, but not today – today, I have to keep Mikoto from being bombarded by those other idiots, I mean it's just cruel to let her fend for herself in such situations.
"Hm… That's okay, you can have some of my bento, Mai's food is really good – she usually makes me a big bento, so you can have some." She offered with a toothy grin.
It wasn't her wide smile that showed me her gratitude, it was the offer of her precious lunch that I knew she really was grateful.
She acts like she is ignorant of the world around her, acting innocent and unaware, but if you're observant enough there are little things she does that says otherwise.
And being the observant person that I am, I can tell – its not as though she is like me – the things she sees and understand, she doesn't keep everything to herself because she believes the knowledge can benefit or hinder her in any way but because she believes it's better than to speak out and involve herself with something she has no right to or because she doesn't know what she should do.
And that's just how it works best with me. She's loyal to her friends, I can see that. She doesn't intrude into my life or into the things I do, while still genuinely caring about my well-being – she is just the type of person I can trust and hang around with.
So why is she caught up in all this?
From the rumour that's spreading like wild fire – it's about Kuga and Fujino. Fujino's feelings for that girl has been around ages ago, perhaps I was the only one that figured it out and in fact confirmed it, yet it wasn't anything new, there must had been something new that triggered all this.
I glanced toward Mikoto, her raven coloured bangs bounced energetically, her increased pace told me she was nervous – perhaps fearful that Tokiha had a similar scene at her class.
The last few weeks she showed little to no indication to what's happening if I hadn't had been there when Kuga rushed off the moment Fujino was mentioned I would have found today's incident to be a shock – Kuga did something, something concerning Fujino… I wonder… are the rumours true…?
"Mai!" Mikoto yelled.
Speak of the devil.
The cat-girl in front of me bounded off as soon as she noticed her dorm-mate. She ran off on all four towards the entrance of the High School building where the blue headed biker stood, along with Tokiha, Chie and Aoi.
While I took my time to approach the group I heard the end of Mikoto's sentence:
"…Mai! Nao wants to have lunch with us, is it okay if I share my lunch with her?"
"Huh? Um, yeah of course." The bosomed cook gave me a grateful look – informing me that Mikoto had told them of my involvement today. It was an expression I rarely get… is it normal to feel this warm inside?
"Great, another busy-body" Kuga grunted.
I turned my head with a smirk and snipping retort ready… These days we aren't at each other's throat like we were during the HiME carnival – maybe it's because of the mutual respect we earned from each other after saving the world and what not – but even so, the faint smile she had was out of the ordinary… It seems like someone was in a good mood in spite of their situation, and it was infectious.
I held back the retort and instead waved back to my own dorm-mate and her equally notorious friend. The two known gossip lover was conveniently having lunch with the talk of the school…
This lunchtime was going to be an interesting one. And I think Kuga may need as much help as she can get.
We waited outside the room Natsuki-kun told us to meet her at.
The whole week leading up to this day had been exhilarating! From the morning mobs to the lunch time interrogations either by us or by others – it was the scoop of the year that no one wanted to miss or be left out of. We were lucky to secure an invite from Natsuki-kun, all thanks to the hard work Chie put into it – by practically extorting Natsuki-kun to let us come along.
And today had been the most exciting of all – Nao-chan had took us out shopping in streets Chie and I had never been to, seeing new place and all the while we were on the run! …Well not exactly, but the thrill of knowing we weren't supposed to be followed and that we were in fact at some secret hiding place, makes it feel like we were!
My heart pumped in my chest at my excitement, my eyes darting occasionally at Chie – our knowing looks silently communicated to each other how we both looked forward to discovering the truth of those rumours tonight.
All the while Nao-chan, stood leaning against the corridor wall, inspecting her nails.
It made me wonder why she was here in the first place… for once she actually didn't seem very curious about the rumours in the school.
A light rumble broke my fidgeting, turning swiftly to the direction of the elevator I saw Mai walking through the mechanical doors looking absolutely ragged.
Fixing her shirt and taking heavy tired steps towards us, Mikoto appear as a stark contrast to Mai form. The younger girl walked with a bounce in her step causing the slightly oversized looking back pack she was carrying bounce up and down.
"Mai, are you okay?" I asked.
"I'm fine, thanks for asking Aoi. Mikoto has a bit more energy than I do, is all." She gave me a weak smile.
"Well, hopefully Natsuki-kun will get here show, and then you can sit down and catch your breath properly."
The rumbling of the elevator doors took everyone's attention once again, turning to look in its direction we saw only an elderly couple step out.
I was disappointed at first, having hope to see the subject of gossip as of late, and to be let down by elderly that lived in the very apartment building we were in – but then something about the two perked my interest – my eyes couldn't move away from them, there was something… familiar about the two…
"Is that…" Chie mumbled.
The old woman with short curled grey hair and gold framed glasses, moved with grace – each step she took seemed like she was gliding, appearing every bit as much as a woman from a well off family. Meanwhile the older gentleman escorting her walked a step behind, he's oversized coat gave him a strong build and his brisk walk gave him an authoritative demeanour.
But there was something that didn't sit right… As they approached, I became increasingly aware why that was.
"Natsuki?" Mai asked timidly. She earned herself a raised hand from, what I previously thought to be, the gentleman.
I fought hard from brawling on the floor and laughing out loud.
"Fu-Fujino-san! I could barely recognise you! How have you been? Did you enjoy the festival last week?" Chie started politely, while I on the other hand couldn't help but fix my eyes onto the wig Fujino-san wore.
"Yes, I did. Harada-san and Senoh-san were indeed frightening that day." I pried my eyes away when I heard the mention of my name – looking at the eyes of the famous-kaichou that were focused on Chie's I couldn't resist the urge to smile as I noticed the golden frames in my line of sight.
"Hold off the chatting until after we're inside." Natsuki-kun hoarsely ordered, as she unlocked the door.
"Ok, ok. Where are we anyways?"
Chie asked the every question that had been on my mind before – where was this place. Why did Natsuki-kun believe it was a safe haven for the group of us?
"My apartment." She murmured her reply – opening the door to let us in.
"If you have an apartment, why do you live at the dorm?" I asked curiously.
"The dorm has its perks."
"Like a live-in cook and all around caregiver?" Chie asked jokingly.
"They are a factor."
We all entered the dimly lit room, and with a flick of a switch the lights were alight. My curious eyes darted around in awe –it was spacious, expensive judging from the location alone and it brought many questions to mind but I decided there was a time and place to ask, and Chie knew exactly when and where that is.
"Shh! Son-of-a-" Natsuki cursed, drawing my attention to her removal of her disguise.
"Don't you think the disguises are a bit much Kuga?" Nao-chan questioned
"Well if you saw the car chase we had, you would think this wasn't enough." She answered while she continued to remove her disguise.
Beside her, Fujino-san had followed her lead, removing her glasses and soon her wig to let her hair fall from it bun – the simple action explained to me why she was so well-admired in school.
I had always found Fujino-san friendly and approachable – Chie and I don't know her well; at best we were acquaintances, so apart from the occasional outings that she goes along to and the rare times we catch Fujino-san with Natsuki – we rarely spoke.
But today will be the end of that! With the rumours flying about and my own curiosity flaring up, Chie and I will get to the bottom of this elusive story!
Natsuki and Fujino-san had always been close – their friendship was a rarity amongst their own circle of relations. Fujino-san was formerly the Ice Princess' one and only friend. And Natsuki always had been the well-admired Kaichou's exclusive friend – no one ever spends so much time alone with Fujino-san apart from Natsuki.
Their bond isn't like the ones they have with others. There must be something more to it than meets the eye – and Chie and I will find that out tonight.
"So Mikoto-chan, what do you know about Fujino-san and Natsuki-kun's relationship? Are they really close?" I asked the young cat-like girl.
I was in an excitable mood – the rare chance to reveal the truth behind the juiciest rumour, perhaps in the whole of Fuuka Academy's history, was right before me tonight.
In the next few hours, during the course of this evening I shall unveil the true nature behind the two most infamous and mysterious students in this area – I can barely hold in my glee.
"The two of you are scaring her."
Nao-chan's word ripped me away from my internal monologue and my idealistic future where Aoi and I stood before everyone, and uncovering the truth for all to hear – to returned to my present self, along side my brunette friend leering down at Mikoto-chan who had started to back away like a fearful animal.
Shaking away my hungry eyes and possibly sinister smile, one I tend to have when I know I had a lead to confirming a rumour.
Looking back at the feral looking girl I banished one of my most charming smiles.
"Hey, it's alright Mikoto-kun. I'm just worried that's all. Natsuki-kun is our good friend but she's not the type that likes to talk about her problems. I just want to know that everything is okay between the two of them"
From the corner of my eye I could see Nao roll her eyes and scoff – but that's okay, she may understand my true intentions but Mikoto-kun doesn't.
She is the weakest link in the Tokiha-Minagi-Kuga resident, even with Mai's denial of any knowledge and Natsuki-kun's vigilant cold shoulder – Mikoto-kun is my express ticket to the truth.
Even if she doesn't know much, an indication is better than nothing; even just the smallest insight can give me an edge – something to throw the two of them off and hopefully cause either of them to slip up – I just need that something.
Her cautious eyes eventually softened, relaxing in her defensive stance, her expression changed to her usual innocence.
"Everything is fine." She answered with a smile.
There was something odd about it – the smile wasn't one of her usual wide juvenile grins but one that seems to hold a deeper, sentimental meaning.
"Yes, that's good but what is the nature of their relationship?" I was slipping, even I could hear the eagerness in my voice – both Aoi and I creped closer to the younger girl, making sure not to alert those behind us.
"Chie, just give up." Nao said in an uninterested tone - her normal volume made me flinch as I feared that the others will become aware of our pseudo-interrogation.
"They're…" Mikoto-kun's voice drew me back to our conversation.
No doubt my and Aoi's eyes gleamed with expected interest. We watched her closely as her golden eyes flickered to the three people preparing the table behind us.
"They're like Chie and Aoi!" Her smile changed back to her familiar childish grin – her pearl white teeth shined as though to mock us for getting our hopes up.
"Hey, dinner's ready!" Mai called, beaconing Mikoto who bounded off as fast as a hungry cat expecting to be fed.
"Wait a-" She was gone before I could question further. Internally I curse at the missed opportunity and shared a disappointed look with Aoi.
"Honest girl, isn't she?" Aoi's young room mate said mysteriously with a sly smirk on her face and her eyes glistened mockingly.
I let out a huff and received a reassuring rub on my back from my partner in crime.
'No matter' I thought to myself. 'The night is young; I'll have plenty of other chances to find the truth.'
My stomach was full from dinner and I was happy with a wide smile on my face.
As the music and our cheering mixed and rebounded off the walls Mai was standing up in front of the T.V singing passionately at the tune – more so than she usually does, hoping that it would keep Chie and Aoi's attention from going to Natsuki and Shizuru who were washing the dishes behind them.
But no matter how engross Mai was she couldn't stop the two from fidgeting in their seats, and turning back to peer at the two. Frequently, one or the other would glance behind their shoulder with a dangerous gleam in their eyes – the same one I saw earlier tonight…
At this moment, I am sitting on the floor beside the coffee table, with Mai and the T.V on one side, and Aoi and Chie on the couch on the other side. I sat clapping and swaying energetically back at Mai's performance while Nao sat on the one seater on the other side of the coffee table in front of me – her pretend bemused smile faltering to her genuine one every so often. And occasionally, she would glance over to her side and keep an eye on Chie and Aoi, and also to peer at Natsuki and Shizuru as well.
But her glances were different, Nao's eyes did not have that dangerous sparkle like Chie and Aoi does, instead she has the same look Mai had when she looked at Natsuki during the last few weeks, but Nao's was a bit more guarded.
I don't think even Nao knows this but she's worried for them, just like Mai and I – and just like how she never admits I'm her friend, she won't accept that she treats those two more fondly than she believes.
My keen senses noticed movement in the corner of my eye; Chie had fully turned around, gently tapping at Aoi's arm to draw her attention and soon after Mai had stopped singing.
I looked up at Mai – her soft speechless face slowly melted to a happy bittersweet smile. My eyes soon moved from Mai to Nao, before me, shaking her head with a smirk, she then turned her attention away from the kitchen and onto the still playing karaoke images behind Mai.
As my own sights moved towards what everyone had their attention on, I passed over the back of Chie and Aoi's frozen form, and I knew, they too wore speechless just like Mai was.
Finally resting my gaze on the two everyone was speechless over I see Natsuki and Shizuru standing close together face to face; Shizuru's cheeks was tinted with a hint of red and Natsuki held a shy joy-filled smile that brought a heartfelt smile to my own.
Slowly they turned to us, their meek smiles never once leaving their place. Their eyes were sparkling with happiness.
"I knew it!" Chie yelled with a jump.
"Details!" Aoi squealed excitedly.
"What?" Natsuki replied, pulling Shizuru closer towards her – the action alone brought delightful smiles on both their faces. Smiles: that should have been there weeks ago. Smiles: that belonged there.
Yup. Love is good.
Why do I love you? I have asked myself that question so many times and I still don't know.
The question itself is a mystery. Am I seeking the reason for loving you or why is it you that I love? But that doesn't matter, because I just do – I love you and only you.
I don't know what will happen in the future – it is a murky path ahead, but one thing I know for sure: we will be venturing through it together.
These are the answers to our love and our future; they are the same; they are ambiguous and defined; there is no answer.
A/N: I must say, Aoi and Mikoto was extremely difficult to write and I don't believe I did them justice, it might have been because I consider the two of them a bit of an airhead and having to write their internal monologues just goes against that image lol By the way the last PoV is supposed to be both Shizuru and Natsuki.
Anyway! I just it's time we say our good byes! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING! And especially for the reviews you have or will (winkwink) write. The support and comments I received had been one of my main drives.
I know 'Ambiguous and Defined' has deviated to how 'Subtle and Blunt' is many aspect like the way it was written, but I hope even with the change in style you still enjoyed the way I have written this one. And due to the large gaps between the two fics and the chapters, I realise I may not had retained certain aspects of character and feelings or that some things may not have been very consistent but I tried my best to avoid that and hopefully made the transition in feelings in the characters smooth and some what believable.
I know these final two chapters haven't had much lovey-dovey fluff everyone yearns for (after the angst I've put you through), but I can't handle love-love mushiness - it gives me the shivers. Don't get me wrong I like happy endings and sentimental/sweet/cute/humorous affectionate moments - I just can't seem to type out anything beyond that... well... at least they kissed