This silly oneshot has been sitting on my computer for months, so I decided to finally finish it for the 19th. The title comes from one of Shizuru's lines in the Otome drama CD.
You know you're obsessed when you can hear a joke from a completely different fandom and immediately think how much it fits a Mai-HiME character. So here's to you, Shizuru! Happy Birthday!
The cased windows along the wall of the dormitory corridor had been opened to let in the sunlight and soft birdsong floating on the warm air. Spring was in full bloom, and every inch of Garderobe's vast grounds seemed to sing of life. Its many residents were busy preparing for the end of the school year, only a few weeks away, when the Pearls would become full Otome and their underclassmen Corals would be raised to take their place and continue their second year of training.
Shizuru strolled along the sunny corridor, enjoying her mid-morning break. Her shoes clicked quietly along the tiled floor, and the skirt of her spotless white Pearl uniform, neatly pressed and perfectly fastened, bounced slightly as she walked. It was a hot day, and likely to become even hotter, but there was no sign of sweat on the beautiful young woman's face.
She passed a few other students as she walked, Pearls who gave her friendly, admiring smiles and red-uniformed Corals who all but swooned and bowed at the sight of her. She paused in front of two such girls to ask if they knew where she could find the Number Two Coral.
The Corals brightened the moment Shizuru stopped to speak to them, but their happiness soon turned to disappointment upon hearing she was looking for someone else.
"I saw Kruger-san a little while ago, Shizuru-oneesama," one said hesitantly. She seemed torn between wanting to give the right answer to please her idol and wanting to lie out of jealousy. "She was taking a basket of laundry to the washroom."
After she thanked the Corals and walked on, Shizuru chuckled quietly to herself. Fangirls. Almost every Otome had fans, both in their native countries and here in Windbloom, but Shizuru's seemed to be more numerous. Or perhaps just more bold.
She turned down another corridor and starting making her way to the washroom. Her steps quickened, eager to see her little dark-haired Coral soon. She felt a needle-prick of sadness at the thought that Natsuki would not be her little Coral for much longer.
She was going to miss having Natsuki as her room attendant. It was not having Natsuki do her laundry and tidy her room for her that she would miss, but rather the daily tutoring and study help she gave Natsuki in return for her chores, as part of the normal relationship between Pearls and their Corals. Shizuru cherished any opportunity to be by Natsuki's side. Another thought brought back her good mood; Natsuki might not be her Coral for much longer, but she would always be hers. Even if Natsuki did not know it yet.
At that pace, Shizuru soon arrived at the washroom. The long room had a row of white washing machines and dryers, most of which were humming and whirling as they worked.
The only other person there was a teenage girl with long, dark hair flowing down her back. Oddly, she was not loading or unloading any clothes into the washers and dryers, just standing there in front of the line of machines, wearing one of those little scowls of hers and staring at them.
"The washing machines and dryers do not need to be supervised, Natsuki. They will perform their tasks dutifully even if you are not here to observe."
The younger Otome jumped in surprise as soon as Shizuru got her first word out. She must have been lost in thought to not notice her arrival.
Once she registered what Shizuru had said, Natsuki let out an indignant bark. "I know that! It's the other Corals I need to keep an eye out for. If I'm not here to fight them off, they'll definitely try taking your stuff again." She stopped, biting her lip as if regretting saying so much.
Shizuru arched an eyebrow. "Ara?" Why had Natsuki not told her of this before? "Perhaps they want to sell them to one of the Otome fan stores." Authentic uniforms and equipment and the like fetched a high price from eager civilian collectors, even if they were obtained through questionable means.
Natsuki shook her head. "No, they want the clothes to keep, just because they're yours. Some of your fans would do anything to own something that has actually touched your body." A pink tinge covered her cheeks and she averted her eyes. "Especially the panties…" she added in a mutter.
A giggle escaped Shizuru before she could even attempt to stop it. She could not help it, the mental image of Natsuki valiantly defending her underwear from foaming-at-the-mouth fangirls was just too adorable.
Still looking away, Natsuki mumbled, "Don't laugh."
"Forgive me, Natsuki." Shizuru covered her mouth with a hand to hide her grin for a moment before regaining her composure. "I will have some words with those girls, if you name them. Attempted theft is against school rules and should be properly punished."
"No!" Fierce green eyes turned back to meet red. "Those fangirls tried to take the clothes in the first place because they are crazy about you, crazy for even the tiniest bit of attention from you. That's why I didn't tell you. If you personally single them out and go talk to them, you're only rewarding their behavior."
"I doubt being scolded by me and sent to Miss Maria's office for disciplining is a part of my fans' fantasies."
Natsuki grimaced. "Well, some people have strange fetishes."
"Strange fetishes?" Shizuru repeated. Her lips twitched. "…Such as collecting lingerie?"
She almost regretted teasing her again right after apologizing for doing just that, but the way those green eyes widened and that lovely mouth fell open in shock erased any trace of remorse Shizuru might have felt.
"H-How did you...?" The answer suddenly came to Natsuki, and her face reddened with fury. "...Mai!" she growled under her breath. "I'll kill her. She swore not to tell anyone!"
"Don't worry, Natsuki, I promise to keep your little secret."
Shizuru's crimson eyes crinkled as she smiled one of her rare, glorious smiles. Rare because they were only shared with the few people who were truly close to her. The sight of it – and the knowledge that she was one of those lucky few – was enough to swallow Natsuki's anger.
Natsuki returned Shizuru's smile with one just as affectionate, and the sandy-haired woman found herself basking in the warmth of it.
A little voice in her head urged her on. You can't keep up this pretense of friendship forever. Kiss her and tell her how you really feel.
For a moment, Shizuru hovered on the edge of temptation. But she was able to back herself down before she did something she would regret. Not yet, she told herself. She still couldn't stop herself from lifting a hand to brush her fingers across Natsuki's cheek. Natsuki allowed the touch without flinching, unlike in the early days of their friendship.
"Thank you for taking such good care of my laundry, Natsuki," she cooed, petting the soft strands of dark hair as though Natsuki were a pet deserving of a reward. The taller girl leaned forward to press a quick kiss to her crush's smooth cheek.
Before Natsuki could do more than blush and splutter at the teasing, her Onee-sama turned and swept gracefully out of the room, still smiling.
When her next class finished a few hours later, Shizuru returned to her room with the intent of getting some studying in during her lunch break. The graduation exams were approaching, and she would not let herself be humiliated by losing to Haruka, who was a close second to her in point ranking.
The Pearls' dining room would be open for another hour, but Shizuru preferred to study now and eat near the end of the break. Otherwise, her classmates would no doubt crowd around her table and keep her there all period trying to chat with her, and she could not politely tell them to leave her alone. Sadly, the Pearls' lunch hour did not coincide with the Corals' today, otherwise she would have enjoyed spending it with Natsuki.
The day had warmed up even more as the morning progressed into early afternoon. By the time Shizuru unlocked her room and stepped inside, she was eager to turn the air conditioning on.
She smiled when she saw the pile of clean clothes on her bed, looking as if they had simply been dumped there from the basket and left. Natsuki was not too lazy to fold them; rather, Shizuru had asked her not to, as she preferred to do it herself. Natsuki had never been very good at domestic chores, even at something as simple as folding clothing properly, and Shizuru was very …particular… about organizing her belongings neatly. Compulsive, both Natsuki and Haruka, her former roommate, had accused.
Shizuru denied the allegation, of course. Just because she alphabetized her bookshelf by date of publication, arranged her wardrobe in ascending rainbow order, kept one bar of soap for each day of the week in a separate labeled dish, and required a certain vanilla scent to be perfumed onto her pillows before she could fall asleep at night did not mean she was compulsive. Certainly not.
Something out of place caught her eye. Perched atop the pile of clothes was a small folded piece of paper.
Curious, Shizuru picked it up and opened it.
After reading just the first sentence, she quickly dropped down onto the bed, her knees suddenly weak.
She kept reading and her eyes widened more and more with each line.
It would be futile to continue pretending I'm not attracted to you. I used to laugh at all the fangirls who lust after you, but in reality... Everything about you arouses me, from your vanilla perfume to the way water drips down your body when you step out of the bath. Just the sound of your voice drives me wild. I can't hold back anymore, Onee-sama! I want to pleasure you until you scream.
Come to room 2–9 for a blow from a fan.
Despite the seeming straightforwardness of the few short sentences, Shizuru had to read them again, and then twice more, just to convince herself that her lustful mind was not playing a cruel trick on her.
The short note had no signature attached, but she hardly needed one. The distinctive angular handwriting was clearly Natsuki's. Shizuru tutored her often enough that she would've recognized it immediately even if she had not committed herself to memorizing each and every little detail of her precious person.
It must have been Natsuki who left the note, as she carried the only other key to Shizuru's room. Any love letters or gifts from the top Pearl's many fans were usually left anonymously in Shizuru's gym locker or, if any girl felt brave enough, offered in person. Besides, the ninth room on the second floor of the dormitories belonged to Natsuki and Mai Tokiha, and she could not imagine the redhead writing such a thing to her.
And yet, despite the evidence, the idea that her prudish and ever-serious room attendant would write her a steamy love note with promises of pleasure made Shizuru's head spin!
"Oh, Shinso-sama…" she groaned. Whether she meant it as a frustrated curse or a prayer for help, she did not know.
The short note had thrown her into complete confusion. What did Natsuki expect her to do? Shizuru normally had little difficulty seeing through others' facades to their true intentions, but she had misjudged Natsuki once before. Badly. She was terrified of doing so again, terrified the consequences this time would be much worse than just a slap.
All these past months of working to convince Natsuki that she was more than the seemingly flawless Pearl, that she saw the dark-haired girl as a true friend and not just another fangirl... Would all those months turn to wasted effort if she took Natsuki up on this offer? Did Natsuki even intend to go through with her promise?
She tried to consider the other possibilities. Perhaps this note was just a test. A test to see if Shizuru truly cared for the other girl or if she only wanted physical benefits like she had when Natsuki had first asked to be her room attendant.
Well, if that was the case, Shizuru would definitely refuse. She wanted Natsuki more than she wanted life, but first she had to be sure the girl loved her in return, or else Shizuru would be nothing but another of the thousands of obsessed fans with an unrequited love for some Otome who didn't want her. Her pride would not allow that.
That's it – she would ignore this letter, proving to Natsuki that she would not succumb to temptation. Or would Natsuki think her a coward if she did not come refuse her in person? But in truth, Shizuru was a coward when it came to the person who was most precious to her.
She let out a hiss of frustration. How had a few sentences done so much damage to her confidence? She forced herself to straighten her back and hold her head high. "You are overreacting," she told herself aloud, trying for the self-assured serenity that had won her so much admiration from fans and rivals alike.
She reminded herself that she was Shizuru Viola, Pearl Number One, leader of the Trias, and one of Garderobe's most accomplished students in its centuries of history. Teachers praised her, civilians cheered for her, classmates and Corals swooned over her, and she could twine any one of them around her fingers like a lock of her hair.
This note was just a joke of some sort, a prank to pay her back for months of constant teasing. It had to be. Natsuki would never put the bond between them up to such a ridiculous test! ...Would she?
Well, there was only one way to find out. Shizuru took a deep breath and stood. Amazed that her knees were not shaking, she tucked the letter into her tabard embroidered with the Number One Pearl's silver wings across the breasts.
Her feet carried her back out of her room and into the sunny corridor, and within a few minutes she was approaching the part of the dormitories that held the Corals' rooms.
"...Come to room 2–9 for a blow from a fan..."
A hot tingle ran through her as her imagination took that image and ran with it. You lie back on her bed, hand tangled in her dark hair. She lowers her head between your legs, running her tongue down...
She stomped on that thought before it could go any further. Now was not the time. She could not let herself fall apart into a mess of quivering desire while she was walking down an open corridor. The other students she passed on her way gave their usual smiles and bows, unaware of what was going on behind her crimson eyes.
Oh, Shinso-sama, how those fans would all laugh if they knew that the great Shizuru Viola they so admired was already as good as collared and leashed, ready to follow like an obedient errand girl at the heels of the one she adored, if Natsuki were only to realize it.
She managed to maintain her dignity all the way to Natsuki's room. She stood in front of the numbered door for at least a full minute before she could stitch together enough scraps of courage to knock.
There was no reply. She knocked again, harder this time. Still no reply. Was she supposed to go in? It was unlocked. She cracked the door hesitantly and looked in.
There was no one else inside.
Well, what were you expecting? Candles all around the room and a nude Natsuki lying on the bed with a red rose between her teeth?
Shizuru grinned to herself. Now there was a fantasy worth entertaining.
She closed the door behind her and made her way across the room, knocking on the door to the adjoining bathroom. When there was no reply there either, she peeked inside. Empty.
Odd. Perhaps she was supposed to stay until Natsuki returned. Shizuru sat down nervously on Natsuki's bed to wait, smoothing her skirts under her with trembling hands.
She had been in Natsuki and Mai's room many times before. The wooden door faced a large window, open at the moment to let fresh air in. The curtains stirred slightly in the breeze, adding a little life to the empty room. Each side wall had pushed against it a neatly-made twin bed and a desk piled with books and papers for study. A silver-cased clock ticked patiently on Mai's desk, on the right side of the room. On Natsuki's desk on the opposite side sat a small lamp and an even smaller electric fan that was currently buzzing and swiveling its head left and right like a sentinel on watch. One of the girls had tied a ribbon to it, and Shizuru occupied herself for a few moments watching the fan blow the colorful tail back and forth in the hot air.
She idly ran her fingers along the bedspread, reaching over to pick up Natsuki's pillow. She clutched it to her chest and breathed in its scent. Not a perfume, but rather the dark-haired girl's own scent, like clean leather and mountain pines. Shizuru often wished she could wrap that scent around herself like a warm blanket. Reluctantly, she put the pillow back before Natsuki could walk in on her holding it.
The minutes dragged on. The clock kept ticking, the desk fan kept blowing, and the curtains still stirred in the air. Shizuru continued to sit and wait, anxiety piling up, but nothing happened. She was starting to sweat, as much from nervousness as from the heat in the room. At least the fan helped a little with the heat.
Where was Natsuki? Hadn't she mentioned yesterday that she had gym class this afternoon, anyways? Normally Shizuru kept the younger girl's schedule memorized, but the Coral classes' end-of-year exams would also be held soon, so their schedules had been switched around to allow more time for group study and tutoring from Pearls who had volunteered some of their free time.
Shizuru rose from the bed and walked to the open window to peer out of it. The second floor afforded her a clear view of the training grounds across from the dormitory building.
Sure enough, Star Class was spread out over the field. Shizuru spotted Haruka's blonde hair and light gray uniform as the other Trias member put a dozen of the Corals through their routine hand-to-hand combat exercises. The rest of the students were jogging laps around the track encircling the field of hard-packed dirt.
Natsuki, strong runner that she was, had finished early and sat relaxing on the side of the course with a water bottle while she waited for her half of the class to rotate and switch to the hand-to-hand.
She must have been keeping watch on the window, for as soon as Shizuru poked her head out, the green-eyed girl waved animatedly at her from the other side of the field. Even at this distance, Shizuru could make out a smug grin on her beautiful face.
What in the world? Shizuru wondered, utterly confused.
If Natsuki had just been knowingly waiting outside the whole time, then why had she written Shizuru that letter, telling her to come to her room and promising to give her a... a...
It clicked in Shizuru's mind, and she pulled her head back into the room hastily, slamming the window shut before her cheeky room attendant could see an embarrassed flush – something even rarer than her smiles – spread across her face.
For once, the joke was on her.
The still-blushing Shizuru was unsure whether she should be amused or upset. She certainly felt some of both, but the one emotion that shone through the others right now was relief. Relief that all her fretting and worries had been for nothing. Natsuki had just been playing a prank on her after all. She shook her head wryly and sighed.
"Very funny, my Natsuki…" she murmured.
With a small smile, she reached over to the desk by the window and switched off the blowing fan.