Disclaimer: Once again, don't own it =(
A/N: I apologize in advance for any weird mistakes like words where they don't belong or missing letters because now we have a laptop and the little touchpad thing is constantly sending my cursor into the wrong spot and screwing me all up.
I stared at the black ink that now decorated my back. The workmanship was very detailed because he designed the cross to look like real wood. As a result, all the grain patterns had been displayed within it. My twin's name was in a calligraphy style of writing on the lower, left-hand side of the cross. My other brother was exactly across from it on the right-hand side. I smiled. Now they would always be remembered now. I could never forget the blessing I've been given.
"That looks amazing, Mush," Kureha said using her little nickname for me. I gazed at her from the corner of my eye. It was by no means my favorite term of endearment, and she knew it. Hell, everyone did. The girl just thought she could get away with it since she's my best friend. I shook my head. She was right and everyone knew that, too.
Our group stood in front of the mirror for a few more minutes admiring the handiwork on both Kureha's and my skin. Then the manager told us we needed to get out of the way or get another tattoo. Needless to say we left. I was already going to be in enough shit for this one.
At about three minutes to ten we pulled into my driveway. We were cutting it close I knew, but I expected there would be some leniency since it was my birthday. The three of us tip-toed into the house, being very careful not to wake anyone who might have been sleeping. My mom was sitting in the family room waiting however.
"Hey, Mom, we're home now. You can go to bed," I said as I crouched down beside her and smiled a little.
She patted my hair for a minute, and she developed one of her sad expressions that hadn't appeared for a while. I could see the tears threatening to spill over onto her porcelain face. "Oh, baby. I'm so proud of you. I just wish your brothers were here too."
I pulled her into an embrace, and thankfully Kureha and Ami realized that it was best for them to slip away quietly. I saw them leave from the edges of my vision. I focused on comforting my mother, and after a few minutes was able to coax her into her bedroom. Then I woke my father and left him to care for her.
"It'll feel better in the morning. Get some sleep," I told my mother. "Night, Daddy." I pressed a kiss to his forehead and left them to be alone.
I found my friends lumbering around the kitchen. They pulled up their mouths a little in what I'm sure was to be reassurance of some sort. "She gonna be okay?" Ami asked.
"Yeah. Believe it or not that is her in one of her better remembrance moods. She'll be alright in the morning. But who wants ice cream? I'm starved," I proclaimed and started digging around in the freezer for the carton. In reality I just wanted a change of subject. They seemed to respect my wish and once three cartons and spoons were secured, we relocated to my bedroom for pointless girl talk.
He was just staring out the window, not moving in the least. All I could see of him was his broad back and his long black hair hanging down around his face. He seemed upset. I didn't like it. I couldn't be sure I wasn't the source of his troubles.
"It was easier for me if you believed I was the knight," he explained. After that, he continued to speak but I was only able to make out a few words. One moment everything was crystal clear and then in the next it was like the white noise from the television. "…involved… still…if…the knight…sister…issue…," was all I was able to understand.
I felt my lips move, but I didn't know what I was saying. I saw his head lift slightly though, so he must have understood.
"Ichijo, have you ever seen a ghost?" my mystery man asked, and as he spoke he began to rotate his head to face mine…
I was then thrown back into consciousness only to find myself staring into black nothingness. My gaze shifted to the clock on my dresser. Ugh. It was only 3:18…in the morning. Beside me, Kureha and Ami slept soundly, undisturbed in their slumber. Lucky them.
I pondered the meaning of my dream. It felt as if I should remember it, like I had lived it at one point in my life. So why didn't I? I debated it until my friends woke up a few hours later.
I groaned as my alarm went off. It was most definitely not time to get up yet. Having school so early that I actually had to wake myself up at this ungodly hour should be illegal. Shoving my face back into the pillow, I tried to pretend that it was the weekend.
There was a knock on my door two minutes later. "Master Mizuhashi, you need to wake up sir. You can't lie in your bed all day. It's only your second day of school here."
Oh yeah, I thought with a frown. We just moved again. Mom got it into her head somehow that her business would thrive here if we only put in a little effort. I sighed, and dragged myself in the general direction of the shower.
The hot water felt good on my back. I could gradually feel myself returning to the land of the living the longer I stood in it. I racked my brain for what I was in for today and recollected that I was going to have to take a quiz for Hibiki-sensei. That made me think of Mashiro Ichijo, my little beach girl. Just the thought of her brought a smile to my face, and suddenly school didn't seem like such a harsh prospect.
Once I was decent I made my way into the kitchen. Surprisingly enough, my mom was still sitting at the counter snacking on an apple.
"Good morning, Mother," I said after I placed a kiss on her cheek. She smiled funnily at me.
"You seem like you're in a good mood," she pointed out.
"Do I?" I gave her a small smirk.
'Yes, you do. Remember to eat your breakfast and don't be late to school. Your teacher called my office yesterday to tell me that your tardiness would not be acceptable again."
"I won't be. Don't worry."
We exchanged a few more pleasantries and then she headed off to her shop. I shook my head. Some days, such as this one, she could be very talkable, one might even say nice, but the next day she'll be as cross as a crabby crocodile. I swear the woman was bipolar.
One hour later, my chauffer pulled into the school's parking lot. He dropped me off at the front doors, and then I was on my own.
'Mizuhashi-san!" I heard her say from across the lawn. I turned my head and sure enough Mashiro was running towards me. "There you are. I have been waiting forever. I didn't want to miss you today since I wasn't here yesterday. Have you figured out your locker yet?"
I felt the corners of my lips pull up of their own accord. "No, I don't even really know where it's at to be honest."
Her eyes widened and she looked at me like I was crazy. "Let me see your schedule. All the info should be on there."
After I dug through my bag a minute, I was able to hand over the piece of paper she requested. Her groan did not sound promising. "What?"
"Your locker is on the other side of the school from our classroom. Since you made a point to be as late as you possibly could without actually making us tardy, we don't have time to make it. We'll just have to wait until lunch." She was frowning. "Hurry up. We don't want a repeat of yesterday. Hibiki only allows one day of forgiveness to the new kids."
I couldn't help but notice how often she said 'we.' I guess she really was planning on being my own little tour guide the next few days. I was fine with that. It meant we would be spending more time together than I had originally intended. At least, her "assignment" provided me a reason to be around her and let her get to know me, to trust me even. The next few months were going to be very interesting.
Mashiro was right. Less than thirty seconds after the bell rang Hibiki was passing out a quiz over the notes of the past weeks. If a body wasn't in the chair, no quiz was passed out at that seat and that person was out of luck. Turns out it was a good thing we didn't try to visit my locker.
"That was one of the hardest quizzes I've ever taken in my life." Mashiro claimed as we were leaving the classroom an hour later. I smiled. In all honesty, it would have been quite difficult for a student who maintained average grades. Hibiki was quite the evil man, making questions based on the insignificant details alongside the few important facts from his lectures and from the textbook. Luckily I had studied Mashiro's notes down to the last dot the night before. Not only that, my brain was like a sponge and whatever information I read was stuck in there for whenever I needed it. I was prepared.
"Sorry I stole all your notes. I should have made copies or something." I told her.
"It's okay. I still have the shorthand ones I took in class. They work just as well," she informed me.
"Glad to hear it."
For the rest of the day we just talked of pointless things as we wandered around school and attended classes.
The next month passed by rather quickly. Before I knew it, parent teacher conferences were upon us. I brought it up with my mom, but she brushed it off.
"I'll be there if I can, Sou."
She said it, but I doubted it. Her work always came first. Mom would be getting back from some business trip in Tokyo that was a week or two long the day before the conferences. Catching up on stuff at the new shop would be her first priority. I would be lucky if she even remembered about me.
I sighed and looked down at the dolls on my dresser. The small princess was smiling and waving a handkerchief in her left hand as if signaling for her beloved prince. The other was a cowboy, spurs and all. I wondered what she was pretending the situation was as she played in the sand that day. I bet the princess was locked in the tower and the little cowboy was to go to her rescue and defeat the bad dragon.
"So, Sou, are you coming to the festival?" Kureha asked the next day at lunch.
"Festival? What festival?"
"The one the senior class puts on every year. The student council rounds up volunteers from that grade and then they set up all sorts of fun booths and games and stuff. It's really fun. You should come with us. I'll probably end up going as Raiden's date and I don't want to leave Ichijo all on her own."
To this Mashiro blushed. "It's fine, Kureha. Really. I don't need him to ruin his night watching over me."
"There's no trouble, honestly, Mashiro. I'll enjoy going with you to the festival. Otherwise I'd just be sitting at home studying. You'd really be doing me a favor just by attending with me," I said. A subtle blush ascended her cheeks.
"Okay then. I guess as your friend I can't allow you to sit at home all night long." I could hear the small smile in her voice which in turned caused a small smirk of my own to develop. I couldn't wait for this festival to get here.
One Week Later…
It was the day before the festival. AND THERE WAS NOTHING IN MY CLOSET FOR ME TO WEAR! What was I supposed to go in? I had to look good for Sou. There was no way I was going to let him see me in regular clothes. All I had were boring shorts and tee shirts. That simply wouldn't do.
"Kureha, we have a problem." I said the minute I had her on the phone. "I have to go shopping right now, and I need your opinion. How fast can you be ready?"
She chuckled. "What? Want to look good for Sou tomorrow? I'm actually on my way to the mall now. I can pick you up in about five."
"Good. Hurry up." I ignored her comment about Sou. Just because something was true didn't mean I had to own up to it. "Hey Mom, can I go to the mall with Kureha?"
"Sure, sweetheart, but be careful, and say goodbye to the alter before you leave."
Five minutes later I was off to go shopping for Sou, I mean me.
"No. No. No. Not happening. Ugh. I can't believe you tried that on." Each time I came out in something new Kureha immediately shot it down. "We need something different. Go put your own clothes back on and then come with me. It's my turn to pick."
Five minutes later I was weighed down by a mountain of clothes. I seriously hoped that Kureha was not planning on making me try on all of these. We would be here well past midnight.
"That'll do it for now. Go model, my little Barbie."
The first outfit was a pair of a light wash denim miniskirt set off by a dark blue tank top with a white shrug. I personally liked it, but I didn't think it was fair appropriate. My legs would be freezing by night's end and I didn't want to flash anyone when navigating the rides. Kureha agreed with me.
The next few outfits met their demises at a face pace. Nothing seemed to work. They just didn't suit the occasion or my personality. It was only a friendly outing to the festival, not a date. I didn't want to look "sexy" or provocative or like I expected something from him after the night was over. I was becoming quite exasperated.
"That's it!" Kureha said in a rather loud voice at my next get-up. My latest fashion consisted of dark-wash skinny jeans and a light brown shrug over a gold tank top completed with a loopy belt. I giggled. I liked it too, but I didn't know it warranted that kind of a reaction. Maybe Sou would like it just as well… hopefully.
At the Festival…
I guided Mashiro through the parking lot towards all the horrible carnival music. I did not see what was so great about a fair if you had to listen to this god awful thing they considered music the whole time. It only seemed like noise to me. My only consolation was the girl on whose back I rested my hand.
She looked amazing tonight. Her hair had been curled and her bangs pinned up. Her face showed small traces of make-up, nothing over the top, but definitely not her usual. I knew that she was not one to try and cover her face with cosmetics. Tonight however, I was glad she did. She looked fit for the runway.
"Hey, Sou, what ride do you want to get on first?" Mashiro asked, interrupting my thoughts. I shrugged.
"I don't know, and I thought this was a festival, not a carnival."
She blushed. "Well, it really is more of a fair, but it started out as a plain festival, but things have progressed over the years. Everyone still just calls it that though."
"I see," I said with an amused smile. "So, you were naming the good rides…"
"Oh yeah," she mumbled and rattled off a bunch of names. Some of them seemed familiar, but others I had never heard of in my life.
"What's the Fireball?" I inquired. It sounded interesting.
"You'll just have to ride it. You don't get scared of being upside down at high altitudes do you?" I shook my head. "Good. Let's go!" She grabbed onto my hand and began rushing towards the entrance of the fair. I laughed.
"That was awesome! Please tell me we can do that again before we leave!" she pleaded as we de-boarded the Scrambler. As if I could deny her anything.
"Of course. Now let me treat you to some refreshments. Kureha would have my head on a platter if I didn't make sure you had food in your stomach." I added at her look of discomfort. The threat of my wellbeing seemed to do the trick however. She resumed her previous state of jubilancy and once again grabbed onto to my hand.
It felt natural, our skin on skin contact. I liked it. I prayed she would continue to hold it the rest of my life.
I found myself standing in front of the place with ice cream and cotton candy. "This is your idea of good food?" I mused. She bit her lip, something I found absolutely addictive and adorable.
"Not really, but I have this sweet tooth, you see, and it really wants a caramel ice cream cone," she said, gazing up at me through her eyelashes, her lower lip stuck between her teeth. "Please, Sou, just this one. Then we can eat all the healthy food you want.'
"Alright," I conceded. "But your right. Just this one bit of sugar. Next we find food that's relatively good for us."
"Oh thank you!" she squealed and threw her arms around my neck with so much force I nearly fell over.
"Why don't we go find ourselves a spot to sit down?" I said once we had our desserts a few minutes later.
"Okay," she grinned and gave her cone a large lick. My mind being that of a sixteen year-old boy immediately wondered what it would be like if… I jerked myself back into a more proper line of thinking. We weren't even officially dating! I would change that status soon though. At least, I hoped I would….
"Do you think we could just go play some games for a bit? I don't think eating and then puking it back up sounds very fun," she grimaced. I laughed. She certainly was acting a bit childish but I wouldn't have her any other way. After all, who else could make me enjoy life the way she did?
"I reckon you're right. I prefer my food to remain in my stomach. What games do you suggest?" I inquired. I knew that brilliant brain of hers was scheming. She began chewing on her lower lip.
"Well, there is always the game where you have to shoot the targets… or the knocking down the milk bottles with baseballs… or racing your characters by getting the bean baggie into the target…" she trailed off. I smirked. All of those games involved potentially dangerous things just redirected from other people to poor, defenseless targets. Mashiro had a sadistic side waiting to be released.
"Why don't we start with the racing one?" I said. It seemed the safest.
"Okay! That works for me!" my companion cheered and hauled me towards the center where all the small gaming booths were located. Her grip on my wrist was tight, but not uncomfortable. I repressed the urge to chuckle again. I figured I shouldn't laugh too much. She might get offended.
The characters for this game were small dogs stuck in a running position and every time someone landed a bean bag into the hole at the back of their slot, their dog moved forward. The first dog to reach the finish line won obviously.
My little character crossed the red line before Mashiro's did, and I saw the disappointed look on her face.
"What prize did you want?" I asked her.
"The snake…" she murmured as she watched herself dig a hole into the poor dirt with her heal.
The vendor heard her and plucked the neon green plush off the pole with a smile. "Here you are, sir. Have a good night and enjoy."
I nodded before laying the snake around her shoulders like a scarf. "So… now what? Another game or did you want something else to eat?"
"I'm still full from the ice cream!" she protested. "More games!"
"As you wish," I quoted the one princess movie with a smile. I would do anything to see her happy. Funny how something as simple as returning two little dolls turned into a life's mission to see that their owner is content- but I wouldn't have it any other way.
A/N: Sorry sorry sorry for not updating sooner! I feel so mean but my dad banned the entire website due to the fact that it slows the computer down and he believes that it is loaded with viruses just waiting to kill our computer. To top that off both the schools and the library have filters which have blocked this wonderful website. I'm just lucky that my friend is going to let me use her computer every now and again to post updates.
I made sure that this one was on the longer side. I added an extra three pages! Now I am going to go work on some of my other stories and try to keep the lengths of them even! I have two more, one on this website and two on fictionpress. Hopefully I will be able to update all of them!
And the dream that Mashiro has in this chapter is actually in one of the books. I think it's in number nine but I'm not positive. I wrote most of this a while ago.
So before this note gets completely out of hand and annoying (too late for that I know) I will finish by asking you to be lovely people and review! I thank everyone that has for the past three chapters and this is me, signing off, until the next chappie!