Chapter 5

Chapter 5.1: Chisame and Chigusa pt.2

Chigusa hung her head over the railing of the bridge. The brook beneath her babbled quietly as she stared into it, looking into the eyes of her constantly shifting reflection. Her anger at told her to continue storming down the road in the same manner she had left the house, but two other forces were telling her to go back.

Her logic dictated that she return because she had forgotten to grab her purse on the way out, and even if she wanted to go further away, she would need to return if only to retrieve her wallet. Her emotions, on the other hand, were still hopeful for some form of reconciliation. Maybe that girl was worth the trouble. Yes, you have your reasons for being surrounded by monkeys all the time, but she doesn't know that...

Anger was fighting a losing battle. A bridge overlooking a peaceful stream on a cool night is not the ideal place for maintaining a rage. It was only a matter of time before she found herself slumping back to the house. The only question was whether it would be to tell Chisame that maybe she could stand to loose the monkeys or whether she would just take back her personal items.

The return was inevitable, but something else was still making every attempt to delay it as long as possible. Probably the shame; if she crawled back to Chisame, the girl would just sneer, and make some snide comment. But those comments were one of the things that you liked about her.

Chigusa could hear some other internal voice in her brain. Affection, maybe? Or perhaps it was that nagging feeling of loneliness, the one that Chigusa had felt picking away at her for the past twenty years, the one that drove her to take any risk not to find herself alone...but if it were that feeling, it would be the first time that she had felt it for a person...

"Hey, you left this behind."

Chigusa looked up from the river to see Chisame standing on the end of the bridge, holding up a stuffed monkey. Dangling from Chisame's other hand was a purse.

"Oh...you..." The first thought to enter Chigusa's mind, that Chisame was simply getting rid of the remains of their relationship, died as soon as she saw the look on the girl's face. The anger was completely gone, replaced with some other undefinable emotion. Maybe a mix of regret, resignation, and shame. She looked sort of deflated, as if all the fight had been drained out of her.

"I saw your picture..." The girl couldn't look directly at the woman on the bridge. She stared at the ground, and held up the sock monkey in a loose grip. "There's a story behind it, isn't there."

Chigusa couldn't bring herself to look, either. She just kept her gaze on her reflection.

"I got it from my parents for my birthday, just a little while before I lost them in the war. When I first got it I thought it was stupid, but afterward, when I was getting bounced around refugee camps and orphanages...It was really the only thing that was always there. I like having it around, and I guess it just sort of went from there. They make me feel, I don't know, secure, I guess."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"I don't know." She continued to stare into the dark water. "I should have. Maybe I just thought that I didn't need to. That you would just understand, and go along with it. I guess it didn't work out that way."

"No..." Chisame kicked at a rock. "I suppose that an apology isn't going to fix anything, but I feel like I should give you one anyway. I'm sorry that I called your monkeys stupid, and that they were horrible, and all the other nasty stuff I said. I can't even remember what I said, but I shouldn't have said it. I had no idea that they meant so much to you." She let out a dejected sigh. "I'll leave your stuff on this bench. If you want, you can come back to the house, monkeys or no monkeys. Nothing fancy. Maybe we could talk, have some tea, something..." She swallowed. "Although I guess I can't blame you if you don't...I've been a callous bitch about everything..." Her voice trailed off into the foggy night.

The air was silent except for a rustling sound, and Chisame's footsteps growing quieter before fading away into the distance.

Chigusa finally broke the stare of her reflection, and turned to see her purse propped up on the bench at the end of the bridge, the stuffed monkey sitting beside it.


Chapter 5.2: Chisame and ?

Chisame groaned as she dragged herself out of bed. Mornings sucked. No exception. Why the hell did homeroom have to start so early? Her fingers felt their way to the light switch. The only upside was that she had the room all to herself.

As she fumbled around the counter looking for a clean bowl, something caught her attention. Laying on the floor right inside the doorway was a piece of paper. Someone had apparently shoved it under the door. Chisame grunted as she bent over to pick it up. As she struggled to read the messy handwriting, she let out a long sigh.

A love letter. Crudely written, both literally and figuratively, but sweet in a kind of "at least they're trying" type of way. It was only a few awkward sentences about how whoever had written the thing like her and how he thought she should know, but the mere fact that it was there at all was a bit of a shock. Mainly because the note was addressed to "Chisame".

She had gotten tons of emails and letters from fans of her online alter ego, but that was unsurprising. The "Chiu" persona was practically designed for that kind of thing. But nobody had ever shown interest in her. Who on earth wrote this thing?

Her eyes scanned the note a second time, examining the clumsy letters.

"Oh...so that's who it is..."

She slapped the note down on the counter. As if my life wasn't awkward enough already.


Chisame groaned. Every time she knocked on a door, why was it always answered by the person that she least wanted to talk to?

"Did you need something, Hasegawa?" Ayaka was obviously trying to sound friendly even though she was clearly annoyed by the intrusion. "Dropping off class dues, perhaps? If I remember correctly, you haven't turned yours in yet..."

"I supposed I might as well." Chisame grumbled as she dug in her purse for her wallet. "But that's not why I'm here. Is Kotaro here?"

"Oh, Murakami's brother. No, he's usually back late because of some thing with Negi-sensei that he refuses to tell me about. Never shows up for dinner. No matter how much work Chizuru and I put in-"

"Okay, okay...You have any idea what time he'll be back?"

"Just as his dinner is getting cold, knowing him."

"That doesn't help me at all, and you know it." Chisame rubbed her forehead. "Just give me a time."

"It depends." Ayaka shrugged. "Probably around eight, maybe? I don't suppose you'd want to come in to wait for him..."

"No, that's fine." Chisame held up a hand. "I'll come back later. If he shows up early just send Natsumi over or something."

"Fine. Why do you want to talk to him so badly anyway?"

"Oh, I uh..." Chisame's brain stalled for a second. "Uh, I have to give...him..a message from..." I need a name! "..Yue."

"Oh, really? I didn't think that Kotaro and Yue talked all that much."

"Oh, she just...found a book..in the library...that she thought he might like..."

"Alright, I'll let him know you dropped by."

"No!" The word was suspiciously emphatic. "I mean, don't worry about that. I'll just make sure that I catch him."

"Okay, then. I'll see you tomorrow." There was a click as Ayaka shut the door.


Kotaro trudged towards the dorm. Eva's training had been even more brutal than it usually was. Even at best, it was slightly excessive, and having to fight Eva's entire squad of robot maids, plus Chachamaru and Chachazero was especially painful. Mainly because he hadn't realized that there were so many of them. The first dozen or so had gone down easily, but after that it simply turned into a battle of endurance. He looked down at his watch.

"Crap."

It was a quarter after 8. Even when he got back early the Class Rep would start complaining about his lack of punctuality. He was really going to hear it this time...

"Hey, you." The voice came out of a nearby bush.

Kotaro jumped back, striking some sort of martial arts stance as he did so.

"Relax." Chisame emerged from behind the bush. "I just wanted to talk for a minute."

"About what?" Kotaro growled.

"This." Chisame held up the note, waving it at him.

"I...don't know anything about that..." He muttered. Despite his denial, the redness of his face make it clear that Chisame's theory had been totally correct.

"Oh please. Did you really think that I wouldn't be able to recognize your handwriting? Just sit down already. I want to take care of this before it gets any more awkward."

"Hmph." He slumped into a nearby bench, refusing to make eye contact. "Fine."

Chisame took a seat on the bench across from him, staring at the ground, rubbing her hands together.

"So..." She had come up with a plan for approaching the situation, but the specifics were eluding her. "Um...I a bit flattered, I guess. I don't think I've ever gotten...one of these before..."

"I thought you had to get a post office box just for all your fanmail."

"No, that's for all the fans of my Chiu website. You've known me long enough to know that I'm not really like that anyway." She sighed. "None of the people who wrote those letters have even met me anyway.

"I guess you're right." Kotaro fidgeted.

"That's why this was so weird." She stared at the paper in her hands. "I never thought that anyone would prefer Chisame to Chiu..."

"Eh, Chiu is kinda boring, though." The dog boy scratched his head as he stared past Chisame at the tree behind her. "I mean, all she ever does is talk about school and how great her fans are and stuff like that. It's like she's not really there, you know?" He snorted. "I guess she isn't really there, though."

"But why me, then?"

"Well, you're actually interesting, I guess." He shrugged. "You actually have stuff to say, and you don't take crap from anyone. You talk about stuff that matters. Like all that advice you gave Negi. Stuff like that."

"Okay..." Chisame leaned back and stared up at the sky. "But why me, out of everybody else in the class? Why not like Natsumi, or Chizuru or somebody that you actually spend time with?"

"Natsumi-neechan!-?" For the first time, he looked straight at her, staring incredulously. "Ew! No! She's like my sister! Yuck!" He stuck out his tongue. "And Chizuru neesan? She's just scary." He shuddered.

"What about Ayaka?"

"What about the old bat? All she ever does is complain about how I mooch off of Natsumi and how I should be more like Negi."

"Okay, what about all your sparring partners then? What about Kaede? You spend way more time with her than you ever did with me."

"Well, yeah, but that's..." He put a hand to his forehead. "It's like whenever we talk, it's always about fighting and stances and strategy and things like that. Which is cool and I like talking about it with her, but we really don't have much to talk about besides ninja stuff."

"And me?"

"I don't know. I mean, we don't talk much, but we do it doesn't have to be about fighting or whatever. I like that. I like being able to just talk about tv and movies and complaining about how ridiculous Eva-san's training is...I guess it's because I can talk to you without having to worry about all that other stuff; training, pretending to be a little brother, magic...I can just be a regular guy instead of a kung fu dog boy." He looked down at his feet. "I just like being with you. I thought I should let you know somehow, and I know that sometimes guys leave notes like that so I figured maybe I could try that."

"Well, that's..sweet. I guess." She smiled.

"So, uh...now what are we supposed to do? I mean, you figured out it was me really fast..." He sighed. "Do we just pretend that this didn't happen, or what?"

"I don't know." Chisame looked back down at the note. "Like I said, I've never gotten one of these before." She looked up at him. His face was still red, and he was twitching nervously. "..But I can't forget it at least. Don't worry, I won't tell anybody about it." Kotaro let out a sigh of relief. "I guess I'll just have to think about how I feel. All I can really say is that I don't dislike you because of this. I think I'll have to sleep on it." There was a moment of silence. "Well, you should probably get going to dinner before Ayaka gets any angrier. Oh, and if she asks, I told you about Yue's book recommendation.

"Okay." He smiled sheepishly. "I guess I'll see you around."

"Bye." She watched as he disappeared into the dorm before turning her eyes back to the note, staring at the name on the top of the paper.

Chisame.

She smiled to herself. She had no idea what she was going to do with Kotaro, but at the very least she was going to hang onto the note.


Chapter 5.3: Chisame and Ako

Ako's hands trembled as she tried to apply the powdery makeup pad to her face. The clock on the corner of her desk only gave her twelve minutes before Chisame would show up on her doorstep to escort her on a night out. She stared at herself in the mirror, trying to find the line between "not enough" and "too much". In her mind, getting the ratio correct loomed so large that it was hard to focus on anything else

"How do I look, Akira?" She spun around in her chair. "Did I put enough on?"

"Plenty. A little much, in fact." Akira pulled up her own chair, snatched a tissue out of the nearby box and between swiping at Ako's face. "You don't really have the face for it..."

"Huh?" Ako twitched.

"I mean that in a good way!" Akira tried to grin. "You don't need it, you look cuter without all the gunk on you."

"Oh." Ako relaxed slightly, but the fidgeting continued. "I just really need to look as nice as I can."

"You look fine." Akira pressed her hands in Ako's shoulders in an attempt to stop the shaking. "All you need is a little blush..." She brushed the color onto her friend's cheeks. "Hmmm... pucker your lips for a few seconds." She plucked a small container from the desk and applied the pale pink lipstick onto Ako's mouth. "Ok, you're all set."

"Alright..." Ako teetered nervously to her feet, turning to the full-length mirror hanging on the closet door.

She brushed the wrinkles out of her dress. Hours of time in the dressing room had gone into its selection. It was not quite powder blue; a little darker than that. Simple, no real frills to speak of. She had tried a few of the more elaborate fashions, but it looked more like she was dressing for a costume party than a date. Keeping it simple and relatively plain was her best bet.

The hem of the dress swirled against her legs as she slowly turned to get a better look at herself. It suited her. That's what Akira had said. That's what everyone had said when Ako had elicited their opinions. The woman at the store had practically danced as she exclaimed how much of a perfect fit it was. And for the most part Ako agreed. The front was a bit more low-cut than she was used to, but that wasn't what she worried about.

What she worried about was the back of the dress, or rather the lack thereof. It wasn't really a backless dress; the back simply had a dipping V, similar to the front. And it went just a little bit too low. At the lowest point of the cut were a few visible inches of scar. The air in the room moved against it, and the sensation sent an unwelcome chill up her spine. She felt almost as if she were naked.

Her eyes scrunched shut. She had told herself that she was going to get over this. That she didn't need to be ashamed of her back. The scar wasn't that bad, and only a little bit of it was visible now anyway. And people were going to be staring at her for all sorts of other reasons anyway.

Like the fact that she was a high school student in a restaurant that only adults would ever want to visit. Or that she would be with another girl. That would certainly be distracting. The image formed in her mind. Low light, soft music, couples sitting at their tables surveying the wine lists, men stealing intrigued glances at the two students, wives leering angrily at their husbands...

She could see herself sitting down with Chisame at one of the corner tables, in a high-backed chair, with her back to the wall. Things would be awkward for a few minutes, and she would be flustered, but then Chisame would hold her hand and point out that everyone was only talking in low voices about how they were such a cute couple, and Ako could practically hear the talk from the surrounding tables about how those two girls were so adorable together and how the one in the blue dress was very pretty and it was a pity that she had that scar on her back...

Ako jerked out of her fantasy, heart pounding; the scar on her back practically felt like it was burning. Her knees began to wobble and her head was feeling lighter than it was supposed to. As she stumbled towards her chair, Akira wrapped an arm around her and lowered her slowly onto the bed.

"I can't do this!" Tears began to well up in Ako's eyes. She pressed her palms against her face, refusing to let the tears fall. "I can't go out with the scar showing. I have to do some thing. I have to-"

"You have to relax." Akira put her arm over her roommate's shoulder and squeezed. "Take a few deep breaths."

Ako stopped stuttering long enough to inhale deeply.

"Here, let me get you a drink." Akira hopped up from the bed and went over the sink, talking back over her shoulder. "You shouldn't be worried about the scar. It doesn't matter if other people see it. Tonight is about you and Chisame, okay?" She handed her friend the glass. "And you know that Chisame doesn't care about it."

"Yeah...I know..." Ako stared into the glass. Her hands still tingled a bit, but at least they weren't shaking any more. "It's just, if it weren't for that, I'd be more..."

"More what?" Akira sat down on the bed again. "Chisame doesn't want you to be more of anything. Neither do I. Neither do any of the people that you care about. Or the people that care about you. Chisame knew all about your scar from the beginning. It didn't keep her from being with you then, and it's not going to matter now. She likes you, scar or no scar."

Both girl jumped as a loud rapping came from the direction of the door. A muffled voice could be heard on the other side.

"I'm here, Ako! You almost ready? Let's get going. I look ridiculous standing in the hallway wearing this."

"Coming!" Ako shouted as she fumbled with her long, white gloves. "Be right there!" She turned back to Akira. "Do I look okay?"

"You look beautiful." She smiled and gave a thumbs-up. "Don't keep your date waiting."

Ako bumbled with the doorknob for a moment before getting it open. As the door swung back, she saw Chisame, standing the door, hands on hips, wrapped in a strapless black dress with hints of shimmery green. She smiled.

"You look great. Ready to go?" She held out a hand.

"S-sure." Ako gulped as she strode out of the room.

Chisame slid her arm around Ako's side, pulling her close. Ako twitched as she felt Chisame's skin against the scar. She froze for a moment trying not to instinctively jerk away.

"You alright?" Chisame squeezed Ako again. The blue-haired girl smiled. Chisame had put her arm right over the scar.

"Yes, I'm fine. Let's get going. I'd hate for us to miss our reservation."

Akira smiled as she watched the two girls walk down the hallway.


.


Okay, so I finally got around to updating this story. Yeah, there are only 3 sections, and one of them is a continuation. But I figured it was long enough, and writing another section would delay this chapter like another week or so. I already have some ideas for the next chapter, which I fully plan on writing. However, I don't know when it'll actually get done because of my classes. We shall see.

5.1: Originally this was just going to finish the story I started last time, but it got longer than I thought it would, so I cut it off at an appropriate point. I tried to write the situation so both parties had equal cause to be mad at each other, but I'm not sure how even it turned out. Even if they aren't on equal footing, the story (hopefully) still works.

5.2: Okay, so it's probably pretty obvious who it is as soon as Chisame knocks on the door, but I still felt the need to build the suspense a little. I might rewrite this story to be more ambiguous about who left the note, but the main thing I wanted to include in this story was Kotaro's reaction to being asked about Natsumi. The love letter thing was kinda secondary, although I liked that it gave me the opportunity to briefly explore Chisame's relationship with her alter ego. I just liked the idea that she was used to getting these kind of letters from her "Chiu" fans, but had never really gotten one for herself. And I tried to make Kotaro sound like a nervous kid talking to his crush, which is why his dialogue is kinda uninventive and awkward. Not sure if I'll write a followup. I'm sure that there's a lot of material to work with in this relationship, but I don't know exactly how to transition from the present situation. I'm sure I'll think of something eventually.

5.3: I already have a followup chapter for this planned (followup, not sequel), mainly because I had two ideas of how I wanted to do this chapter, and they couldn't really be combined. This section was good to write because I started with the couple already established, but not to the point that they're in a serious relationship. I think all the uncertainty of the situation fits Ako's personality really well. She's a bit of a worrywart, so it makes sense that she would have a ton of anxiety over getting ready for a date. I'm aware that this chapter actually had more Akira than Chisame in it, but I think her personality works well for counteracting Ako's insecurities, which is why she's Ako's roommate in this continuity. And of course, I had to factor the scar into it, and figure out how to have Akira explain that it doesn't really matter. It was a fun section to come up with.

Okay, I'm still taking suggestions for future chapters, so leave those in the reviews if there's a pairing you want to see.

And please review, because I want to know how I'm doing.

Thanks for reading.