We get a glimpse of Ateko and Mitsumine during the last volume of Her Majesty's Dog and do I sense a hint of 'nudge nudge' towards the unlikely two? Heh, here is what I thought when I finished the last volume of the cute manga series.
The new semester was nearing its end and half of their senior year was gone. Musing with a smile over that thought, Takako "Ateko" Nishima placed her last three hundred page textbook back into her bag and pulled the shoulder strap confidently over her shoulder then winced under its weight. It was times like these that she wished she had a koma-oni of her own to carry her bag for her like Amane's did, or have her little brother do so (but she wasn't mean enough to cause him back problems).
Sighing to her fate as she headed out the classroom door, Ateko flipped open her cellphone to see the time and check messages. So busy was her attention to the small screen in her hand that she did not notice a person step into her path until their bodies physically collided. The force caused the strap to bite harder into her shoulder, making her cry out in pain. A large hand tugged on her other arm to steady her.
Ateko opened her blue eyes to meet familiar, half lidded green ones. Shiny, wavy and well conditioned hair fell limply around an angelic face that looked both bored and amused. It was the teen actor, Aoi Mitsumine: her friend and senpai.
"Ah, Aoi-kun. Thanks." she murmured, blinking in surprise with a slight blush. Despite his attitude as the "boy who cried wolf" from his constant lies, he still had a nice face that captured hundreds of girls' hearts all the time.
"Ateko-chan," greeted the young man in return, letting his hand fall from her arm. Raising a well trimmed eye brow, he glanced at the shoulder that was carrying her books and the other brow joined its matching twin. "Finals?"
"Yes, and I was going to head to Amane's to study. You coming or is there another movie shooting you feel like hiding behind today?"
Since the return of their friend and her koma-oni, life was both normal and different at the same time. It was changed to a different flavor of reality that only events with struggle could create. Amane had moved back into her uncle's house but had bought it in her name with help of her cousin, Hayato. Now the two live together, despite her cousin's concerns, and are still attending school while trying to keep up with their crap loads of homework from their departure to the village.
Placing a hand over his heart, Aoi threw his head dramatically to the side with tears flowing and the whole nine yards as he became the typical "hurt and emotionally injured" friend.
"Alas Ateko-chan, you wound me with your barbing and sarcastic comments! Must you consider me such a wretch?"
Around the corner from them, his fan club was yelling "Mitsumine-sama!" and "Die, wench!" while shaking their firsts and wiping away tears like their idol actor.
Snorting, Ateko rolled her eyes as she stepped around the man and continued on her way out of the school building. She had no classes left but student duty called by the abhorred name of homework.
"You suck at acting and are a really sore loser. Need I say more?" she replied back sarcastically, a half sneer pulled at the left side of her lips as she looked the opposite way. Her barb had but seconds to take affect before the boy was at her side again, arms folded and pouting.
"You're so mean, Ate-chan."
"Yeah, yeah." she said, waving him off as they continued on their walk from the school and out into the front courtyard. Yet for all his shortcomings, Ateko had found a level of friendship with the actor who had manipulated, pined after and supported Amane during her time in and out of town.
"Wanna ride in my limo? It could be here in three minutes!" bragged the actor as he flicked a curly strand of hair from his eyes.
"I like the walk. It gets me relaxed before the usual fights and your jealous egging on of Hyoue-kun."
Pausing along the sidewalk that was in the direction of Amane's, Ateko stopped to stretch her arms in front of her. The air tasted a little sweeter than in the rooms of the school she sat in for most of her weeks. She liked it.
During the short moments that the two teenagers stood side by side, waiting for the automatic cross signal to turn white, Aoi turned his head away from his companion. She was taking the shorter route again. Despite the walk she claims to enjoy, he knew she just wanted to enter the quieter walls of the little piece of contentment she found in the company of friends.
Smiling for a moment, Aoi let himself be at ease. They were friends. He could be an idiot and say it was just that simple, but his experience at Amane's side told him differently. It took work, honesty and real heart to keep a friend. A vein of truth he did up to his limits in order to avoid. It was part of his original persona since he was young to lie through his teeth. Now that is something he could claim was easy.
And yet, unlike Amane who fell for the mutt, he had somehow ended up with a frisky classmate who saw through him and questioned him more than his first crush had. He had been close to losing them all in more ways then one due to his arrogance and interference. But most of his motivation had been because of Amane. Now...
Glancing sideways toward Ateko, he decided maybe he should stick around longer this time. He couldn't trade "crying wolf" for being a "coward", could he?
They had arrived. It felt natural just taking off their shoes past the doorway and shuffling inside with their socks. Ateko rolled her aching shoulder as she turned past a corner, while Aoi made sure his socks were even.
"We're back! Amane-chan! Hyoue-kun!" she greeted, heading towards the living room where the low table was, otherwise known as the "Work Table". It was also used as the dining room since the kitchen led into the living room as well. Amane just happened to be leaning over a pot of boiling steam when Ateko dumped her bag by the table.
Looking up with a blink from the pot. Amane smiled and waved. "Ateko-chan, welcome back. How was your class?"
"Fine, I guess. Couldn't wait to be able to leave though. I wanted to spend more time with Mrs. Inugami."
At the mention of the surname, Amane's cheeks grew red and she lowered her head nearly almost down into the now bubbling pot in order to hide her face.
"Ateko-chan!" the dark haired girl scolded playfully, a smile struggling to lift her lips. "I'm still not used to the name yet since we got married not long ago."
The two girls giggled at each other when suddenly, Aoi popped out of nowhere near Amane's shoulder and took two delicate sniffs. "Eh? Stew?"
"Yeah," she replied as she stirred the soup a few more times. Her eyes took on a tender and happy expression as she tilted her head to the side. "Even though Hyoue doesn't eat real food a whole lot, it doesn't mean I can't practice cooking for myself. Besides, he's still a glutton and eats way too much."
This caused the three friends to laugh together. As Amane let them know that the stew was nearly done, Ateko and Aoi both sat across from each other at the table. Sitting on her feet, Ateko pulled out her three-hundred page textbook on Psychology and opened up to a page. The boy across from her had propped his cheek up onto the edge of his palm, his green eyes bored as he watched her read. The clink of dishware was heard as Ateko turned another page.
Blink. Sigh. Swish. Blink. Swish. Shuffle. Sigh.
"If you're so bored, do something." Ateko murmured as she wrote something down in her notes on a certain page.
"If I could do something, I would." he answered back, watching as Amane placed a bowl each near them and then came back with the stew pot.
They ate in silence for a few minutes. Ateko slurped while turning pages. Amane politely took a sip after sip of her stew with her eyes closed, and Aoi licked his lips to savor the taste. Reaching towards one of Amane's curled locks, he leaned forward with his best seduction face and added a purr to his words.
"Ah Amane-chan, you make such a wonderful wife if you really work at it. How about divorcing your newlyed husband for a notorious young actor?"
Amane blinked then smiled, Ateko gripped the page she was just flipping a little harder and Hyoue gritt his teeth as the words hit his ears when he stepped through the front door.
That no good, little-!
Forgetting all about his shoes, the koma-oni barreled through the house toward where he could smell the perverse wolf brat. All hell broke loose as Hyoue lunged across the table while screaming accusations and obscenities concerning his newlywed wife. Ateko calmly moved her notes out of the way of said mid-air demon, and Amane's eyes widened in horror. She knew where all this was leading and they had just bought a replacement shoji door for the last brawl that happened two weeks ago!
"Hyoue!" she yelled out as Aoi-kun disappeared underneath a large bundle of white fur, complete with horns and a large bushy tail, "Hyoue, I meant it! Spit our friend back out right now!"
It was now evening and much more quiet then the eventful afternoon earlier. Hyoue had tried swallowing the annoying actor in just two bites, but due to Amane's disapproval and Hyoue's near death by choking, Aoi was spared with a parting gift of a new saliva 'coat'. As the couple left to buy more groceries for later in the week, Ateko and Aoi stayed behind to wait for them.
Snuggled up against a few large, cushy pillows that she had left over for such occasions, Ateko was reading from some paperback while Aoi sat off to the side in a bath robe and jeans. His head was bowed down as he rubbed a gray, fuzzy towel over his hair, causing the room to smell like plain shampoo and jasmine scented soap.
Placing a finger in-between the pages to hold her place, the short haired girl turned her head towards her friend and chuckled. "You should have known better."
"Yeah?" he grumbled back, yanking the towel off to regard her through damp and darker blond bangs. "Its just like that demon to take things over the top and overreact. I just couldn't help saying something that I would have said in the old days!"
Hyoue frowned then sneezed once. He was standing across the street from the sweets shop where Amane had rushed into. At his feet were three large bags full of food for the house, but he decided to wait for his wife outside considering the excess bulk.
Rubbing the length of his finger under his nose, he looked up towards the sky as a bird flew across the stretching blue above him.
"Haa?" he asked to no one, feeling the itching from his nose cease.
Blinking with the smile not lessening, Ateko put her book down and crawled over towards her friend.
"Old days? You make it sound like we're old folks. Has it really been that long to you, or was your coping with her rejection the cause?"
The actor hid his eyes under his straight bangs as the girl in front of him pulled the towel back on his head to dry it herself. They sat there for a few more minutes until Aoi reached up to rest the pads of his fingers with his left hand against her wrist, the touch phantasmal and light. She glanced at the hand with a curious gaze, then paused in her rubbing.
His shoulders tensed up as his hand seemed to hover hesitantly near her wrist. They weren't touching anymore, but she could feel the warm air between her skin and his.
At that moment, Amane walked past the room with an arm full of groceries.
"We're back!" The dark haired girl greeted as she made her to the kitchen. Hyoue followed not long after with a bag in each arm. He paused before the doorway that led into the room and blinked in their direction. For a moment, he could of sworn he had seen a flash of moment from the two kids. Frowning at Ateko and the jerk, he took a step towards them.
"Oi. Whats goin' on?"
Shaking the damp towel in front of her to rid the fabric of wrinkles, she smiled and looked up at the koma-oni. She was now over by her pillows and book, legs folded to the side. Aoi was sitting with his legs crossed as he rubbed through his short locks with his long fingers, looking out the window with nothing to say. Hyoue was the one who tried to eat him, after all.
"Just talking. How was the trip? What's for dinner?"
Turning back towards the kitchen with the light haired girl following him, Hyoue complained how he sneezed and was used as a pack mule on the way home.
Aoi meanwhile was looking through his fluffy and curled bangs to the now folded towel on the floor in front of him. As he listened to his friends talk in the kitchen, he reached for the towel and brushed his fingertips against the soft, fluffy fabric.
"More than ever....I..."
Closing his eyes as the Manatsukai called him for some help in prepping dinner, Aoi smiled and let his hand fall away as he stood up. Knowing of Hyoue's hearing, he headed for the kitchen without voicing his thoughts.
'More then ever...I think you are more a tease then Amane, Ate-chan.'
The fingers of his left hand were rubbing against his thumb as he headed towards the kitchen to his friends. A phantom touch with intentions and feelings that were both lost and unknown would be remembered more than things more familiar and well known. The unknown and mysterious tended to work that way in a person's memory.
It just wouldn't be her memory.
It would stay only his until he could bring himself to voice it himself.
End! Hope you enjoyed this rare paring of Aoi Mitsumine and Ateko Nishima! Should I write more? Please review!