Hey everyone. New chapter is here. I'm so glad that my pace in writing this story is back. Hope it will still be as entertaining for you guys to read.

Happy reading then! ^_^

Disclaimer: I don't own Mai-HiMe. (Fuck it! I'm so going to rob a bank tonight and fly to Japan to win the the ownership of Sunrise Studio and I will demand for fucking sequel, trilogy or better saga for this anime!)


Chapter 8

You never realize how much you like someone…

until you watch them with someone else.


"WHAT?" they shouted at the very same time, making their raven haired friend flinched slightly at their sudden outburst.

Natsuki scratched her cheek with her index finger, "Is it that bad?"

Mai slapped her head in frustration. "Why did you say that in the first place anyway? Urgh! I can't believe this!"

"I've just lost my faith in humanity…" Chie slumped her shoulders and she sighed heavily.

"Aren't you guys being overly dramatic about this? I'm just asking her out. What's the big deal?" a cute frown had creased the innocent feature of the raven haired girl.

Nao shook her head slightly, "We know that, stupid… It's just where did you say you want to take her?"

"Batting cage?" Natsuki cocked a brow.

"THAT'S THE BIG DEAL!" Nao, Mai and Chie barked, startling their blunette friend.

They went into a quick silence before Chie started to speak again,

"Seriously, Natsuki… Who the hell take a girl out for a date at the batting cage? What's your plan once you get there? Lovingly pet Fujino-san's head with a bat or shoving her mouth with some balls? This is just ridiculous! You should at least take her to the mall, do some shopping and get to know what her favourites!"

Natsuki stared at each of her friends back and forth. "I thought I just want to do something fun with her…"

The red head scoffed, "It is fun for you! Not for that woman! And by the way, did she even agree to this stupid plan of yours?"


A few hours earlier.

"Ara! Batting cage? That sounds fun. I've never been in that place before. I've been wondering how those baseball players manage to hit the ball in such great speed. Maybe I should try it myself once we get there!"


"That's what she said." Natsuki shrugged while her three friends groaned in a deep frustration.

"Can I simply say that my boss is such a dumbass just like you? You guys could really make a great couple…" Nao sighed again, shaking her head while Natsuki shot her a death glare.

"Oh wait…" The short haired girl raised a finger. "Come to think of it, it wasn't really a bad idea after all..." Chie suddenly spoke and her friends quickly turned to face her.

"What? Come on, Harada! Not you too?" Nao whined.

Natsuki was surprised. "Eh? You think so?"

Chie nodded. "A-ha! Let me break this down for you, Natsuki-kun... Firstly, Fujino-san said that she's never been in the batting cage before right? That means she doesn't know how to swing a bat."

Mai and Natsuki nodded as they listened attentively while Nao yawned.

"This is just stupid." The red head groaned.

"SHHHHH!" both Natsuki and Mai quickly shushed her. Nao rolled her eyes.

Chie chuckled at Nao's annoyed face. "Anyway, this is where you will step up and offer her a '101 Guides for Dummies on How to Swing a Baseball Bat', Natsuki-kun!" she patted on the raven-haired girl's shoulder happily.

"Oohhh! That is so romantic, Natsuki! I could literally imagine you stand behind Fujino-san's, hands on her waist, guiding her to swing the bat... Kyaaa!" the orange head squealed excitedly while the latter already blushed when the image described was portrayed inside her brain in an instant.

"You're picturing it now, right mutt?" Nao grinned playfully.

"Stop peeking into my fantasies, spider! And why are you being overly excited about it, Mai?" Natsuki sighed and shook her head.

"Of course I am! You're going to have a date with Fujino-san! You certainly are going to sweep her off her feet tomorrow night with your chivalry!" Mai squeaked again.

"What the f− It's just a batting game, Mai!" Natsuki laughed. As she was about to retort again, her phone rang. Quickly retrieving it from her jeans' pocket, she peered at the small screen as it rang. Her eyes brightened instantly.

"Speaking of the devil..." Natsuki arched one brow to her friends. "Hi, Shizuru."

Mai and Chie went 'Oohh' while Nao rolled her eyes again.

"Hi Natsuki. I'm sorry for calling when you're at work. Are you busy now? If you are, maybe I'll call you later..."

The sweet voice could be heard from the other line and her lips unconsciously curved upwards, unaware of the playful grins from her friends. When she did notice it, she frowned and quickly made her way further from her group of friends and to the far corner of that restaurant.

"Damn you guys!" she mouthed out friends just laughed.

"No-no, it's okay. I'm not in the middle of my work. I'm at Mai's restaurant now, having a quick break. Is there anything, Shizuru?"

"Ara? Is Natsuki skipping from doing her work?" Her voice was full with mirth and as if she was right in front of her, Natsuki's cheeks were flushed bright red.

"NO! I'm not skipping work! Besides, I've already finished fixing all those cars and I just need to wait for their owners to collect it−" her reply quickly came into a halt when she heard hearty laughs on the other line.

"Natsuki... I'm just joking! You don't have to explain everything to me. I know you're such a great worker. I am once your boss, remember?"

Natsuki blinked momentarily. "Y-yeah! Right!" she coughed, composing herself, "Anyway, what do you want to talk about, Shizuru?"

The heavy accented voice was giggling again before she continued, "Ara, it's about our plan to the batting cage tomorrow night..."

She could feel like her heart was being pulled. "Um, is there anything wrong? Do you want to cancel it?" Oh, please God, Kami-sama, sweet Buddha... Please don't cancel this plan! It took all the strength that I had to ask her out earlier this morning...

"No. I'm not going to cancel it, Natsuki. I'm looking forward to it!" Shizuru chuckled.

Give me five, God! Thank you! Natsuki instantly let out the air she unconsciously held earlier. "Oh? So, what's the problem then?"

There was a short silence.

"Ara, well..."


The Next Day: 'Date' night.

She was pissed. She blindly swung her bat when the pitcher machine pitched the balls from the opposing end.

And none was hit.

Damn it! What is this fuckery! Why things have to turn out like this!

Another ball went flying towards her in a high momentum. She didn't even focus when she swung the bat. The ball was missed again and it hit the chain-link fence behind her.

"Fuck!" she grunted under her breath.

"Oh, wow. For someone who proposed a night out at this place, she's surprisingly horrible in this game..."

Natsuki bit her lower lip and she stared at the brunette haired woman who was standing about 4 feet away from her through the corner of her eyes.

"Shut up." She hissed.

Anh cocked an eyebrow. "Ara? Natsuki-chan seems angry. I wonder why?"

A bright blinking red light could be seen from the pitching machine as a signal for another ball coming.

Natsuki puffed out angrily, picking up her metal bat and slowly positioning herself again. Another ball approached fast and she swung her bat. She thought she managed to hit the ball but to her surprise, it wasn't the ball was flying.

It was a metal bat.

Eh? Natsuki looked down at her empty hands, wondering where her metal club had gone. Don't tell me... She watched as the metal club dropped to the floor with loud clanking sounds.

Silence quickly engulfed that arena.

Both Anh and Natsuki were blinking as they looked at the unmoving club at the center of that arena.

"Woohoo! Nice hit, mutt! Run now! It's a fucking home-run! Hahahahahaha~" Nao and Chie broke into laughing frenzy, they rolled on the floor.

Anh quickly cupped her mouth. She had to endure the urge to laugh and it took all strength she had to hold it. But in the end, she went crouching on the floor, head between her knees, her body shook violently as she laughed hard.

Natsuki just stood there, fidgeting and could feel her face started to numb, her ears were hot with embarrassment. Her head was this close to erupt when the laughter wasn't going to stop, instead, it was getting louder and louder. She took a deep breath, trying to calm her anger and slowly made her way to the center of that arena. She didn't even dare to take a glimpse at the other batting zone where a particular blonde haired girl and a brunette woman occupied. The last thing I want to see is Shizuru laughing at me.

Unbeknownst to the raven haired girl, Shizuru wasn't even looking at the whole commotion.

She picked the metal club, striding back and she angrily threw the cheap metal club onto the floor.

"Fuck this bat! And SHUT UP, YOU TWO!" she yelled at her two laughing friends. Chie and Nao ignored the fuming blunette and they continued to laugh.

Anh couldn't hold her smirk, "Ara? Putting the blame on the bat when she couldn't swing it properly?"

Natsuki sighed heavily. She walked to the small switch at the corner of their batting zone and she flicked it. The pitching machine quickly turned off.

"It's because I can't focus!" she snapped at the brunette.

"Ara? Why is that? Is there something bothering you, Natsuki-chan?" Anh posed a finger under her chin, the one she often saw Shizuru made when she wanted to strike a playful remark.

"Yes, YOU! You are the problem! And stop calling me 'Natsuki-chan'!" Natsuki retorted straight away.

Anh blinked a couple of times then a smirk appeared on her lips again, "Ara? Natsuki-chan is distracted by me? Is she so enthralled by my beauty that she couldn't focus?"

"WHAT? NO!" the raven haired girl yelled, earning quite attention from the other occupants in that batting arena. Anh just laughed again.

"And I don't even know why you are here in the first place! I don't remember asking you too!" Natsuki exclaimed angrily.

Anh arched her brows, "Eh? I thought that you agreed before?"


Yesterday.

"Oh? So, what's the problem then?"

There was a short silence. "Um, well... I was talking to Anh just now and I just slipped out about our plan for some batting game tomorrow night. She wants to come too. I think it will be great to have more company to play together, right? What do you think, Natsuki? "

There goes my plan... Natsuki could feel her head spinning. There were a few imaginary Anh with devil's wings flying around her head, laughing devilishly at her.

She slowly clutched her throbbing head, "Y-yeah! Absolutely! The more, the merrier, right?"

"Ara, thank you, Natsuki! I think maybe we should ask Tokiha-san and Yuuki-san too? Oh, and your little sister? Do you think she would be okay to play together?"

Natsuki already banged her head on the nearest wall in frustration.

"Yes, she will..."


And because of that, we ended up inviting everyone to play some batting game. She turned around to look at the other side of batting zone. Mai was paired up with Mikoto, Chie was with Nao and Shizuru was paired up with her little sister.

And that fucking spider even made me paired up with this woman!


"Okay, now our partners will be set by fate! Pick your string here and look at the end of it. If your colour matches with the other person, you're partners!" The red head reached out her fist where there were a few strings inside it.

They obediently took their turn.

"Orange." Mai lifted up her thread.

"Yay! Mai's with me!" Mikoto leaped forward to hug the orange head as she waved her orange-end string.

"It's red. It seems like we're going to win this game, Yuuki Nao!" Chie draped one arm around the red head's shoulder and they shared laughs.

Only four strings left. Alyssa, Shizuru, Natsuki and Anh took theirs respectively.

"I'm blue." said Natsuki. She quickly turned around to find her partner.

To her agony, it wasn't on the right brunette she wanted.

Anh waved the blue-end string as she chuckled, "It seems like the fate has spoken, Natsuki-chan! You're paired up with me!"

The raven haired girl just slapped her forehead.

Shizuru looked at the string she picked, "Ara, it's purple. So it means..." she turned to look at the 13 years old blonde before her. Alyssa curved up a small smile. She lifted up the purple-end string in her right hand.

"We're teammates."


Natsuki glared at the red head who was sitting on the floor, waiting for her turn to play. Fuck you, spider! This is all your fault!

As if she could hear the blunette's mental rant, Nao grinned at the fuming raven haired girl and she pointed up a thumb and as the result, she earned a middle finger from her angry friend. Nao just laughed.

Decided to ignore the red head, Natsuki turned to look at the other batting zones which were occupied by other two teams. Mai and Mikoto were at the other end while Shizuru and Alyssa were next to them. She watched how the blonde would give little tips to the brunette on how to swing the bat. Her lips curved up into a smile. It looks like she's comfortable with Alyssa. Hope things will be going well between them...

"Your little sister is pretty good, Natsuki-chan..." Anh was standing next to her, watching how the little blonde would effortlessly swing the bat and strike the ball high.

Natsuki scoffed, "Of course she is. I've been training her all these years. We often drop to this place almost every weekend."

Anh arched her brows, fascinated by the younger girl's remark. "Ara? If that so, would Natsuki teach me too?" she held up her bat to the raven haired girl with a pleading smile on her face.

Natsuki blinked momentarily then she just couldn't help but to snort at Anh's puppy eyes.

There's no point ranting about didn't get paired up with Shizuru. The main purpose to be here is to have fun... Natsuki took a deep breath and she smiled to the older woman. She took the bat and she went back to the switch, turned on the pitching machine.

"Okay-okay! But you need to pay for this training!" She grinned playfully to the brunette.

"Ara? But I don't have much money… Would you take my body instead?" a mischievous smirk adorned her flawless face.

In a millisecond, Natsuki's face flushed into a bright shade of crimson, "WHAT? NO!"


She was watching them play. They were laughing, enjoying each other's company as she watched her stood behind the other, wrapping her fingers on her waist, more like hugging from her point of view. Her thin brows unconsciously creased. Does she really need her to do that much?

"Your turn, Fujino-san." Alyssa stepped back and dropped her bat to her side, unintentionally knocked the floor with a loud clanking sound.

Snapping out from the reverie, Shizuru quickly smiled and she nodded. "Yes. And please stop calling me Fujino-san, Alyssa-chan... It makes me feel awkward..." she chuckled as she positioned herself.

Alyssa just grinned. "Okay, if you said so. I don't want people say that my sister didn't teach me manners when talking to someone superior..."

Shizuru arched her brows when she heard it. Ara? This girl really...

"Don't worry, Alyssa-chan. Natsuki and I are friends now. I'm no longer Natsuki's employer. Nobody will say that to you." She smiled, assuring the young blonde.

"Okay..." Alyssa managed a nod in reply, rested her back against the fence.

Shizuru chuckled lightly and she stared up ahead to the pitching machine, waiting for the ball to come.

TANG!

The sound quickly brought her head to look around. She saw a ball went flying, hitting the tall fence far ahead. Ara? Whose ball is that? It's a home-run...

"YEAH! You did it!" Natsuki screamed excitedly.

"Nice hit, Anh-san!" Nao and Chie cheered while Mai and Mikoto clapped.

"I did?" Anh was hesitant as she looked down at her bat and to the ball which dropped at the far corner of that arena.

"Yes you did, silly! That's your ball there! It's a homerun, 'ya know?" Natsuki laughed again when she saw the surprised look on that brunette's face.

Anh still couldn't believe it. She went to look at the bat in her hand and the ball at the other side back and forth. Her face slowly brightened.

"I did it? YES! I did it, Natsuki!" Anh was jumping up and down happily and she lunged forward, pulling the younger girl into a tight hug. Natsuki just hugged the older woman back, laughing together.

They were unaware of a particular angry stare from across the batting zone.

"Shizuru-san! Look out!"

Eh? A distressed voice called her out from her own thought. By the time she turned her head around, a high-speed ball went past her right cheek, merely centimetres away from knocking her solid in the face and it hit the cage behind her.

She felt the arena went into silence momentarily and she only thing she could hear was her erratic heartbeats. Ara? That was close...

"Are you okay, Shizuru-san?" Alyssa grabbed hold the older woman's shoulder.

Shizuru suddenly felt her throat dry. She tried to come out with an answer but it seemed like her brain couldn't figure out a single word to response. She turned to look around the arena. The others looked like did not notice anything because they were engrossed with their own game. Her crimson eyes spotted two people at the other end of that batting arena. This time, she saw the raven haired girl was holding her brunette friend from behind, guiding her arms to swing the bat properly. Her brows started to frown again. She quickly looked away. W-what is this?

"Shizuru-san?" a little shake on her shoulder quickly brought her back from her absurd musing. She was presented with a pair of cerulean eyes, looking deep into her with concern.

"Are you okay? You seem a little off just now. You want to take a rest?" asked the young blonde.

Shizuru quickly shook her head and gave a small smile. "Ara, no. I'm okay, Alyssa-chan! I'm okay! Thank you!"

"Are you sure? You don't seem like you're okay... Please take a rest if you're tired."

Chuckling to the younger girl's concerns, Shizuru just waved her hand, "No, I really am okay! Come on now! I want to win this game!" she picked up her bat and slowly positioned herself again.

Alyssa was dumbfounded with the brunette's behaviour. She turned to look at the direction Shizuru were looking just now. She saw her sister was standing right behind Anh, holding her arms, leading the brunette to swing for another homerun.

Who is she looking at? Anh-san or Onee-chan?


After 30 minutes of endless bat swings, they decided to take a break. Mai brought a picnic basket which filled with variety of food and refreshments. They sat at the bench provided, enjoying their respective drinks.

"So, the points so far... Alyssa-chan and Fujino-san team is leading. Me and Nao are right behind and Mikoto-Mai after that..." Chie checked on the score sheet as she took a sip of her orange juice.

"But seriously, how many points does mutt gets with throwing a bat to homerun?" Nao grinned widely while Chie sprayed her drinks out of her mouth, laughing hard. Natsuki shot a death glare at her two friends but they seemed unaffected by that glare, they just continued to laugh. They quickly walked to sit with Mai and Mikoto before Natsuki went berserk.

"Ara-ara! I thought me and Natsuki did a few home-runs just now? We deserve a top spot, right?" Anh chuckled. Natsuki quickly nodded in affirmation with a wide grin on her face.

"Yes, I'm sure you do. You seem to overly enjoy yourself with this game, ne?" Shizuru suddenly spoke, her voice was a bit sarcastic but it went unnoticed to the others except to a certain brunette haired woman.

Ara? Anh arched an eyebrow. Calm grey eyes staring into the piercing crimson orbs intensely. "Yes. I am…" She replied.

After a few moment, Anh looked away with a smug smile on her face and she walked to where Mikoto and Mai were, leaving the slightly disturbed brunette with the dumbfounded raven haired girl alone.

Shizuru unconsciously exhaled the breath she held a moment earlier. What's with that smile of her? And first of all, what's going on with me? Why did I ask her such question? This is so absurd...

Natsuki quietly took a sip of her drinks as she took a glance at both brunettes. Okay... I thought I just saw something about to go down just now... Decided to shake it off, she turned to face her object of affection. "Are you having fun, Shizuru?"

Chuckling lightly, Shizuru nodded. "Yes, I am! Never thought by having a little game like this could ease your tension. Thank you, Natsuki for bringing me here." She beamed a warm smile to the blunette.

Natsuki quickly blushed. "N-no problem. Glad you like it!"

Shizuru chuckled again at Natsuki's blushing cheeks. How are you not going to like her? She's just adorable... "Anyway, I can see that you and Alyssa-chan are really good in this game. Do you two always come to this place?"

"Yep. Almost every weekend. As you can see, Alyssa is really good in it. I hope she would join the baseball club in her school but she doesn't want to..." Natsuki shrugged.

Shizuru pouted slightly, "Ara? What a waste... I'm sure she will excel in her club if she joined in. Is there any particular reason she doesn't want to join?"

"It's because I hate the attention those people would give me when I play..." Alyssa interjected as she stood next to her older sister. Natsuki just laughed, circling her shoulder playfully. Shizuru also laughed at the cute annoyed look on the blonde's face.

"Um, Natsuki?"

Natsuki tilted her head up, "Yeah?"

Shizuru smiled again, "Do you mind if I ask you to teach me how to play this properly?" she said, gesturing at the metal club in her right hand.

Wa-wait, what? Her heart skipped a beat when she heard it. Her throat went dry. She blinked a couple of times in disbelieve. "Um... what?"

Shizuru chuckled at Natsuki's perplexed look, "I mean it's not like Alyssa didn't teach me well enough. She's a great instructor, but I want to learn from the master myself, if you don't mind..."

Am I hearing things right? Did she just ask me to teach her? I-is this real life? Natsuki was left tongue-tied.

Alyssa cocked an eyebrow as she peered playfully at her sister's surprised face. She sneakily nudged the blunette's waist to snap her from her daze. Feeling a soft nudge, Natsuki quickly shook the thought off her head.

"Y-ye-yeah! Sure! I'll teach you! No problem!" she quickly blurted out, scratching the back of her head nervously.

Shizuru nodded her head happily, "Ara! Great! Come now. I don't want to waste more time. It's getting late already!" she motioned the blunette to follow her.

As she started to walk, Natsuki gave her little sister a surprised look, mouth agape which made the little blonde to laugh. Alyssa pointed up a thumb and she winked at the older blunette. Natsuki mouthed out 'Thank you' and she jogged, trailing the retreating brunette to the batting zone at the far end of that arena.


TANG!

Another home-run hit from the blunette. Natsuki exhaled a nervous breath, lowering her bat and she quickly turned around, finding Shizuru stare at her with a wide smile on her face. Another rush of heat came rushing to her cheeks.

"T-that's how to do it..." she stammered, taking a step back to give some space for Shizuru to take position.

"Ara! I don't think I could do it that well. Could Natsuki show it to me again?" A wide grin spread across her face. Oh my... What is happening to me? Why am I enjoying this?

She just couldn't believe with what she heard. Damn this woman! Does she really pay attention to me or not? "O-okay then. Just watch closely. I'm not going to repeat it again−"

"No. Natsuki just need to show me how by guiding me." Shizuru suddenly cut in and she stood in front the flabbergasted blunette with her back facing her.

Again, she was left speechless. They were standing close to each other she could even smell the sweet fragrance from that brunette's tresses. It almost made her knees weak. O-oh god... This is just too much...

Noticing there wasn't any further action from the blunette behind her, Shizuru took a glance from over her shoulder. "Natsuki? What are you doing? And you need to give me this!" she poked out her tongue as she grabbed away the metal bat from the blunette's grasp.

Natsuki just blinked in surprise. Later on, Shizuru pulled her slightly trembling hands to place atop her arms, motioning that she was ready to swing. Her heart started to beat crazily against her rib cage. It was pounding so hard, as though it would jump out her chest anytime soon.

The touch of those trembling palms on her skin brought a blissful smile on her lips.

"A-are you sure you want to do this?" her voice was faltering, and she knew it. Her throat was getting dryer and dryer. And I just wish she wouldn't notice that I'm fucking trembling right now...

Shizuru didn't look back but a soft smile was adorned on her face when she replied, "Yes."

Natsuki just stared at the shiny chestnut hair before her. She took a deep breath, relaxed. She inhaled the sweet scent, trying to memorize it. Her lips curved upwards into a smile. Her hands were no longer trembling. She wrapped her palms against the silky smooth skin, appreciating the moment, the feeling of having that brunette in her arms.

I just wish that you know how much I want this to happen in my life...

"Okay. Ready now?"

"Always."


They were sitting at the nearest bench, watching a certain blunette giving some pointers to her brunette companion as she swing the bat, hitting the ball to homerun. Mikoto already laid rest on the orange head's lap, sleeping peacefully while Alyssa was resting her back against the cage, book in her hands.

Chie leaned in to the orange head next to her and whispered. "Natsuki's dream just comes true, huh?"

Mai giggled happily. "I'm sure it is…" she whispered back.


She was watching them play. Happy smiles and laughs. She tried to smile too but the muscles in her face were not going to comply. Her brows unconsciously creased. She tried to look away but somehow, there was like a power which holding her head in place.

Suddenly, she felt heavy. There was a knot in the pit of her stomach. She couldn't connect her gut feeling to what was wrong. The hairs on the back of her neck weren't standing up, but she did feel as though something was not quite right.

Something is definitely wrong with me…

Then she saw it.

She knew that kind of look. She knew exactly what it meant. The way they talked to each other. The way she would stare at her longingly... The way she would smile and laugh at her jokes… and sadly, she knew that smile was for that person only.

The unfamiliar pain seeped in. Her hand unconsciously pressed against her chest and she clutched her shirt into her hand.

So tight, the fabric was crumpled.

Deep inside, she could hear something.

…The shattering sound.


Okay. Tell me what you guys think about this one. Guess who is the person in the last section of this chapter? ^_^

Sorry, this chapter is not being proofread. My bad.