A/N: This one is dedicated to my friend Fuyu no Sora, connoisseur of all things AmeMite, first for remembering that I'd made the gag in an e-mail about a year ago, and then reminding me that I really ought to write it.
~X X X~
Lunch in the rose garden was a regular ritual for the group of friends. Since they were scattered among two different classes, it was generally the first chance of the day for all of them to get together and talk. Until a few weeks ago, there had been only four of them, but Himemiya Chikane's girlfriend from a past life, Kurusugawa Himeko, had transferred to Ototachibana Academy and the four became five. Unsurprisingly, Himeko got along well with Chikane's friends, but even if she hadn't, she could hardly have been excluded. Indeed, she had a prior claim: Chikane had known about the hidden gap in the rose bushes because she and Himeko had used the garden as their private rendezvous spot during previous lifetimes.
Watching Himeko squirm through the hedge, Chikane couldn't help but think of the first time she'd seen that: a puppy had burst through the hedge and all but jumped into her arms, and on its heels had come a cute, girlish apparition with her hair in braids and a sweet, sunny warmth had bathed Chikane's heart ever since.
"I'm sorry I'm late, everyone," Himeko said, brushing off her uniform skirt. "Fujieda-sensei had to talk to me about my history paper," she said, pouting. "And I'd done a really good job of explaining the Sino-Soviet War of 1963."
Three pairs of eyes looked at her and blinked.
"Um...Himeko," Alice Ishida was the one to speak up, "there's no such thing as the Sino-Soviet War of 1963."
"That's what Fujieda-sensei said," Himeko groaned, joining the other girls on the picnic blanket. "And I'd done really well, too. I even remembered the part about how Khrushchev's speech came an hour after the invasion had actually started so it wasn't a cause of the war like the Americans had thought!"
"That's what happens when you don't spend enough time studying the history of this world, Himeko."
"Ah," Alice deadpanned, understanding. "Someone tried to rely on past-life memories to get by without studying, methinks."
Himeko smiled sheepishly.
"Um...maybe a little?"
Chikane couldn't help feeling a little sorry for Himeko. After all, most often their high school grades were not of deep importance in their various lifetimes. They were, after all, the Solar and Lunar Priestesses of the God of Swords, Ame no Murakumo, and the reason for their multiple reincarnations was to fight against the incarnation of malice, Yamata no Orochi, defeating and resealing it whenever it broke free.
Or in other words, when you're fairly sure Armageddon is going to hit somewhere in your late teens, bad test scores are just not a real tragedy.
This lifetime was different. All indications were that Chikane and Himeko were going to live out normal human lifespans. Which meant that normal human concerns had as much of an effect on their future as they did for the other girls.
"It all sounds very confusing," commented Nanase Saya. "I think that I'm glad to only have one lifetime's memories."
"Oh, some of them I'm glad to have," Chikane said with a sly little grin. She might have gotten away with it, but Himeko blushed, apparently assuming that Chikane had meant...pretty much exactly what she had been thinking of. Alice glared at her.
"You two are worse than newlyweds." She then turned to the fifth member of the group, Ohgami Shizuka. "And what's with you, Arrow? Usually by now you'd have been chiming in with a snarky remark about how they should take it easy in front of their poor single friend, but you're just leaning back and grinning."
"I'm happy today," Arrow said.
"It's true; you've been smiling all morning," noted Saya, who was in her class. "You should share the good news with the rest of us."
"Yeah, spill! We need to balance out the history news."
"All right, though you guys won't care...Tsu-nee got me four tickets for the final day of the July hanbasho in Nagoya!" She made a giddy little fist-pumping motion. "And Otousan says we can go! They're third-row seats!"
"Ah, that explains it," Chikane said. Unlike her friends, Arrow was a huge fan of martial-arts competitions: kendo, judo, MMA, and especially sumo. Alice and Saya joined in Chikane's grin at Arrow's obvious delight.
"Wah! You're so lucky!" Himeko burst out. "When we went in January, we had to sit so far back we could barely see, and it was only for Thursday on the first week—though Otousan was nice enough to let Shiro and I miss school that day so we could go at all. We got to see Takemikazuchi, though, so that was neat. He really should have been made yokozuna by now; it's not his fault that his trainer was caught up in the fixing scandals."
"Hey, now, wait a minute, you can't deny that his loss last September was pretty shady," Arrow countered.
"But he was still dealing with the knee injury, and he'd tweaked it in the previous match."
"That's what they said, but there wasn't any sign of it at the time...it looked a little off, and I think that's why they're holding back, to let any scandal die down."
"I don't believe it, and—" Himeko broke off. "Um...Chikane-chan, are you okay?"
In Chikane's defense, it wasn't just her. Alice and Saya both had that same "hit on the back of the head with a trout" expression, with staring eyes and slack jaws.
"Chikane-chan? Arisu-chan? Saya-chan?"
It was Chikane who recovered herself first.
"Yes, Chikane-chan?" Himeko peered at her closely, a little worry in her eyes, as if she was afraid Chikane had gotten overheated by too much sun or something.
"I don't remember you being a fan of sumo."
"I'd say that it's not you," Alice added, "but really, it's at least three or four stages weirder than just 'not you.' You got nervous about hitting people with sticks in kendo, and you're a wrestling fan?"
"You've never shown any interest in it in previous lifetimes that I remember, either," Chikane added.
"I've only been a fan since I was ten or so. My dad likes it almost as much as he likes baseball, so I got to see it on TV a lot. I was really surprised at how much strategy there is. And there's a lot of historical connections to Shinto ritual." She blushed a little, adding, "I read up on that, since I was interested in what all the formal things they were doing meant."
"You should hear my dad on that point," Arrow put in. "He could go on for hours about that."
"Well, he is a priest, after all."
"Yeah, but he's mostly just a fan and...hey, there's an idea. I've got these two extra tickets; I think that Tsu-nee meant them for Okaasan and a boyfriend but she doesn't much like sumo and, well, there is no boyfriend. So do you and your father want to come along with us?"
Himeko's eyes lit up.
"We'd love to! Thanks so much, Arrow-chan!"
Chikane just shook her head, chuckling. The idea of Himeko as a fan of sumo still surprised her. I guess, she thought, it isn't only Himeko who gets caught relying on her memories of past lives. She wondered what else might have changed during the sixteen and a half years they'd been apart in this life.
In a way, it was as if she'd get to meet and fall in love with Himeko all over again.
The thought put a smile on her lips and sent a warmth like a shower of sunlight through her heart.