As You Like It
Chapter 1: The Long Awaited Task (song of inspiration: Aged 1492)
Kikuchi was feeling rather bored. He sat quietly in the dining room with his head cradled gently on the palm of his left hand while the other played with the silverware on the table right in front of him. He couldn't even think about enjoying his breakfast anymore; He was all alone.
--- A few hours ago ---
The brunette had stirred in his bed when the alarm clock on top of his bedside table rung; it must have meant it was six thirty in the morning. He groaned slightly and sat up, his tousled hair falling on his smooth (and rather effeminate) frame in different places.
He slipped out a stifled yawn and proceeded to walk out of his bed for the bathroom. "Need to change clothes... mm, training with Buchou..."
Kikuchi wasn't a morning person. Unlike the others, he prefered to sleep in until noon during weekends and appreciate the small things in life during his spare time. He loved to think slowly and take his time to get to understand things- but according to his senior, Hayato, " certain things must be changed for a brighter future! Hahahahaha" and so, his daily routine had been completely influenced by the blonde man. He could've let it go, but there was another thing. He didn't want to anger his upper classmen with him being the 'new guy' in the boat. And who knows? Things might become better for him after all.
After a quick, hot shower he went out of his room and looked around the yacht's living room. That was strange, no one was here. Normally, the first thing he'd see would be Kaoru sitting comfortably on his favorite cream-colored chair, enjoying a cup of aromatic english tea as he listened to Hayato play him a piece on the baby grand piano placed in the middle of their living room.
A typical morning in the EN's humble abode.
However, there was no soft music being played, nor was there a single soul in sight. Kikuchi could smell something really good though. 'Could it be...''he followed the mouth-watering scent wafting in the air and led him to the kitchen. His eyes instantly turned to look at the counter where a tray covered with a piece of cloth sat unharmed and a small folded note lying on top of it with the following scribbled rather neatly on its surface:
For Kikuchi Shinta
He made a staring contest between him and the note before picking it up in his hands. With a little huff, he unfolded the piece of paper and read its contents intently.
To our dearest little knight,
We apologize for leaving you here on such a short notice- I am taking a short trip to England to discuss matters with a potential member I have taken an interest on and I decided to personally invite her to join our cause. I have brought both Sugita and Moriyama with me as company, so I entrust to you our Home for safekeeping. Consider it a test of my faith in you and I truly wish that by the time I arrive back in Asahi, it is still exactly as I remember it to be.
Again, I apologize for not telling you sooner. Thank you for your joyful service.
(Before I forget, please do not forget to eat the meal prepared for you on the tray. By all means, enjoy what Sugita has left for you.)
Kikuchi chuckled at the remark; he must've written "Love" first and noticing the informal account which it was, the man scratched it out and replaced it with the word "Sincere" instead. He could be such a paternal figure at times. He can't help but smile wider after processing what he had just read. He had been given a task where he would be able to prove himself to his senior! What a way to score some points.
But he suddenly thought about his situation... if Kaoru only brought with him Sugita and Moriyama, where were the others?
The brunette quickly dismissed his thoughts and turned to the tray on the table. His stomach growled a bit at the inviting aroma, issuing a tiny blush on his cheeks. As though someone might catch him off guard, he looked around him before lifting the cloth that was keeping him from his subject of interest.
Though surprise, surprise... there was another note on top of the soupbowl.
Kikuchi heaved out a small sigh once again before his eyes started scrolling up and down on the piece of paper.
This time it was unmistakably written by the cheergirls. Scribbles of cute chibis were drawn with different colors of ink, with the combination of pink, orange, and blue.
The first paragraph was in pink, in line with a really cute chibi of Rin on its left.
Hey, Shin-chan! I heard Kaoru-sama was going out of the country. I caught him in the living room before he left, so, yeah. He told me you're the one in charge of the yacht and if there were any problems, you'll be there to take care of 'em! Way to go~
Hehe, I'm pretty sure my favorite little bro is pretty happy playing Man of the House, huh?
He smirked at this a little. Even though he was a humble person by nature, he admitted that he felt proud of himself for once.
The next paragraph was now in orange, and as his eyes oggled at the handwriting he thought how the person was much more focused on beautifying the lettering rather than the message itself. Kawaii must've been the one who had done this.
By the way Shinta-kun, do you know that Rin won free tickets to Hollywood city? We would finally get the chance to watch Meowzilla live! Yay!
Beside it was a picture of a bunny and a cat.
Now in a simpler handwriting in blue, it said:
But since there were only three of those tickets... we wouldn't be able to ask you to come along... We're sorry... But we won't forget to bring you a souvenir while we're there... so even if we'll be gone for a few weeks, you will have something to look forward to...
Have fun taking care of the house...
"What the..." he absent-mindedly crumpled the paper in his hands. "I never knew they could do such a thing to me!"
Kikuchi stared at the note dumbfounded. Does this mean he had to be by himself? No, he still had Hayato for company... at least there's someone from his team who had the diecency to join him in his fate.
Slapping a hand to his forehead, he remembered that Hayato was given a "mission" by Kaoru to investigate on some "confidential issues" that was captain-president only. He didn't know what it was all about, but all he knew is that the blonde man won't be coming back any time soon.
So... he really was going to be alone?
Silence fell in to the brunette as he slumped down on a chair and let out a distressed sigh. "This is going to be a long day..." he muttered to himself as he rubbed the back of his neck in frustration.
--- Present time ---
Meanwhile, in the headquarters of the Ouendan Squad...
"Hajime-chan," a voice from down stairs called, making the boy in question lift his head from his book. "Hajime-chan, there's someone on the phone looking for you!"
Hajime furrowed his eyebrows. '... chan.' After all these years, he's still being called with such an endearment. He's a buffed up man of 21 for God's sake, not the scrawny little boy from 6 years ago!
As he brought himself downstairs, he gave Sayaka a disbelieving stare. Sayaka stared back with a perfect Cheshire Cat of a smile. "Why are you giving me that look, Haji-chan?"
"That," he stressed, "Is exactly my problem."
Damn, this woman's pretty dense for her age...
"The nickname!" he retorted back.
"Oh! You mean Haji-chan?" Hajime nodded slowly at the girl with an eyebrow raised. "But it sounds so cute on you!" the Cheergirl chirped. Hajime shook his head; Sayaka never took him seriously.
"Ever heard of proper honorifics?" he asked in a sarcastic tone. The girl laughed a little at her underclassman and playfully pinched the taller man's cheeks. "I know of them, silly! It's just that Haji-chan sounds better than Hajime-san, or Hajime-kun, don't you think?"
"No, I do not!" he snapped at her while swatting her hands away from his poorly abused cheeks. "Hatachi has long past for me, Sayaka."
"So what? In my eyes, you're still the cute little boy of sixteen, only taller and beefier."
'What the hell..?' Hajime practically gave up.
"... Never mind. Not like you're ever gonna listen to me anyway."
The latter giggled and pat "Haji-chan" on his shoulder. "Good boy! Now answer the phone, Shinta-kun must be waiting for you to pick up for ages." Sayaka walked back to the living room, leaving the rookie alone in the hallway. Hajime stilled a little when he heard the name of his rival.'Kikuchi? That's a surprise...' he thought. He turned to the phone that sat on the counter right next to him and picked it up, lifting the reciever to his ear. With a slight cough, he spoke with the clearest voice he could manage.
Hajime swore he almost flung the phone to the wall when he heard the brunette yell at the top of his lungs. What an intelligent way to respond in a civil conversation. "Waah! I thought you're gonna abandon me too! Why didn't you pick up sooner?!" Hajime recollected himself together and fixed his glasses back on the brigde of his nose. "Wh... Abandon you? What in the world are you talking about?" he recoiled. He could hear a few sniffling noises from the other side of the line as he pressed his ear on the phone, a slight scowl forming in his face. He waited for the other to start talking, but silence greeted him instead of the usual high-pitched voice of the younger man. Hajime leaned on the wall behind him and with a moment's hesitation, he spoke. "... Uhh, something wrong?" Kikuchi calmed down a bit and let out a breathy sigh. "They left me alone..."
That didn't make any sense. Who left him alone? Could it be...
"... You mean your squad?"
"All of them?"
"... Where are you right now?"
A vein popped in Hajime's forehead.
"Kikuchi. I beg of you, could you please respond properly?"
"Oh, I'm sorry..."
"So... where exactly is 'outside'?"
"Open your window and you'll see."
Hajime trapped the phone between his shoulder and his ear, walking closer to the window in front of him. With a quick sliding motion of his hands, he slid open the window and prodded his head outside the small frame to take a look.
There he saw the ocean gleaming under the sunlight, seagulls flying freely on the air. It was a comforting feeling being able to see the sun... the last time he saw it, it was losing the energy to live on. It was a good thing they were able to save it from dying.
He snapped himself back to reality when he heard Kikuchi speak up on the phone once more. "Hey."
Oddly though, it was much more clearer than usual. 'It's as if he's really here.'
"Can you face to your left?"
He did what he was told, and when he turned his heart came to a total stop. The brunette was there. He stood on top of their yacht anchored beside the Ouendan Squad's HQ, a phone in hand.
Hajime gaped at the younger man, unable to say anything. He didn't even notice that he had dropped the phone down on the ocean.
A/N: Hahaha! What a long first chapter. Did you like it? :'D
I hope you found it good. So if you did, please R&R! I would really appreciate it! ;)
(1) The phone thing really happened to be before. Back in Grade 7, my friends and I were fishing in the docks of the beach resort we went to. I was trying to call the others so they could come and join us when this huge seagull flew right in front of me! In fear, I accidentally dropped the phone on the fishing site. :( I was scared shitless when that happened...
(2) Hatachi- it's a celebration in where a person is considered to be of age as an adult. The Japanese take this pretty seriously, so they really prepare for it like a young girl's debut. (haha Hajime had a debut xD) But of course, it's not anything like the "18 roses" and pink stuff you see in a girl's 18th birthday.
(3) In my Ouendan universe, I always thought that the Ouendan Squad's HQ would be somewhere near the ocean. No, not exactly a beach- it's kinda hard to explain what's on my mind. xD Just check the world map of the game, and you'll understand~