Disclaimer: I don't own Library Wars. I'd be upset if anyone stole this story, so please do not!
A/N: Sorry y'all. I realized that I had made a mistake in the first chapter regarding Genda's rank, I'm pretty sure he's a Captain now (based on the anime). Meanwhile, I think Dojo and Komaki are Lieutenants and Iku, Tezuka and Shibazaki are Sergeants (or Library Clerk in Shibazaki's case).
Please let me know if I got any of the rankings wrong, I didn't really watch the anime that thoroughly, I read the manga a few times over.
Chapter Three: I love you, Blockhead
Dojo felt his stomach churn uneasily as his girlfriend fell silent, her shocked gaze settling on the quilt-covered mattress beneath them.
He did his best to not let her reaction bother him, surely she was surprised, even he was; but, as the silence began to drag on, Dojo could feel himself growing anxious.
Was it too soon?
Should he have waited?
What if she didn't feel the same way?
Suddenly, Dojo's smile faltered and he stiffened, uncertain of what to expect.
"Iku?" Dojo whispered softly, leaning forward slightly to try and get her to look him in the eyes. "Please, say something. You're making me nervous."
His hands itched to hold hers, but when she refused to look at him, he hesitated. He was afraid that touching her would only cause her to withdraw from him further, especially if she was about to reject him.
Seconds felt like hours before Dojo took and deep breath and sighed. Sparing one last glance at his beloved girlfriend, he slid off the bed and picked his shirt off the ground.
Perhaps it'd be best to put some distance between them.
Quietly, Dojo threw his shirt over his head and moved towards the door. Grabbing his phone, wallet and keys off the tv stand as he went, the lieutenant slid on his shoes and rested his hand on the knob of the hotel room door.
"I'll be back later." he said softly, before pulling the door open and carefully shutting it behind him.
"So, I heard you and Tezuka are leaving tonight."
Shibazaki looked up and smiled at the journalist, nodding gently as she took a bite of her rice before setting it down on the tray in front of her.
"Mind if I sit with you?" Maki asked, gesturing to the empty seat across from her.
"Please." Shibazaki smiled politely at the older woman before returning to her meal. Since her boisterous roommate had absconded with Dojo, she'd been feeling somewhat neglected, not that she'd ever admit it - to anyone.
"Are you excited? I hear Chiba is such a beautiful place this time of year." The woman wiggled her eyebrows suggestively and the librarian couldn't help but chuckle.
"I've heard a lot of couples get married there as well."
The women looked up at the instructor as he approached them, his own lunch tray in hand and his trademark smile in place. Shibazaki gave him a coy look before turning her attention back on Maki, grinning wickedly as Komaki took the seat beside her.
"Speaking of which..." Shibazaki sent Maki a pointed look, "what's the scoop on you and Captain Genda?"
The reporter straightened up in surprise, her cheeks growing slightly pink under the brunette's sharp gaze.
"I don't know what you're talking about." she replied, glancing down at the camera sitting her lap.
"Really? Because the last I heard, the two of you moved in together again." Shibazaki replied casually, delicately placing a spoonful of soup in her mouth, ignoring the look of utter shock that played across the Weekly New World reporter's face.
Beside her, Komaki snickered and Maki sent him a rueful glare. She was being outnumbered and it wasn't fair.
"So, it is true." Shibazaki commented nonchalantly, finishing the rest of her meal as she watched Maki squirm from across the table.
"How is it, then? Living with the Chief?" Komaki prodded, joining in on the fun when he caught sight of Tezuka approaching them. "Oh, hey, Tezuka."
"Sir." Tezuka moved to salute Komaki, but the soldier waved it off, so the young Task Force agent refocused his attention on his girlfriend. "What time do you to leave tonight?"
Shibazaki looked up and smiled. "I can be ready by seven. Does that work for you?"
"Sure. I'll meet you in the lobby."
"Okay." Shibazaki replied, picking her tray off the table and standing up, careful not to bump into Maki. Turning back to Komaki and Maki, Shibazaki smiled politely before bidding them a farewell and heading out of the cafeteria with Tezuka.
"Ah, young love." Komaki sighed dramatically as he watched the couple leave before glancing across the table at Maki. "So, about the Captain?"
Without thinking, Dojo let his feet carry him as far away from Iku as possible. It was difficult, but he knew, had he looked back, there was no way he would have been able to leave, but that is what she needed. Time to think without him around.
And so he walked, his legs taking him further and further away from the hotel.
He had no clue how far or for how long he had been gone, but he didn't stop. He couldn't. Because every time his feet came to halt, he thought of her and suddenly felt hard to breathe.
Never had he ever felt so scared, not even when his life was on the line with bullets flying through the hard. He was terrified. Terrified of how she was going to respond. Terrified of losing her.
It hadn't been easy opening up to her, it was something he'd always struggled with, because he didn't want to her to be afraid of him.
He loved her, and from the day he saved her in that little bookstore, he knew she was special. He just never imagined she'd become someone special to him.
Eventually, Dojo pulled himself to a stop at the water's edge. Closing his eyes, he lifted his head towards the darkening night sky as the evening breeze swept over him. Fortunately for him, it was a warm evening, otherwise he would have regretted leaving without his jacket. Letting another soft sigh escape his lips, Dojo carefully opened his eyes and stared up at the night sky. All around him, the sounds of ocean waves crashing upon the beach filled the air and the smell of sea salt assaulted his nose.
Normally, standing on the beach and listening to the waves would put him at ease, but tonight it made him nauseous. He felt waves of uncertainty rolling in his stomach as thoughts of Iku swam violently in his mind.
He missed her.
"You fool." He chuckled bitterly to himself as the thought crossed his mind. "You're hopeless without her."
Lowering his gaze to his feet, Dojo stuffed the hand not holding his shoes in his pocket, watching silently as the evening tide rolled gently over the sand.
He had always loved the ocean, ever since he was a little kid. He would always look forward to the vacations his family would take at the end of each summer, when they used to travel from their inner-city apartment to their summer home on the beach. It was where he had experienced some of the best moments of his childhood; so, when he'd heard that the team was being sent to Chiba for their vacation, he was ecstatic. He'd already been planning on showing Iku everything. He wanted to let her in and show her how he'd spent some of the best years of his childhood. It was only a small step, but he wanted her to accept him for everything that he was. He wanted to show her around and point everything out to her; the docks where he and his father would spend hours on the boat, the small café his family frequented for breakfast, perhaps even the small park that his father had proposed to his mother in all those years ago.
Fingering the small velvet box in his pocket, Dojo found himself gazing down at the water as it crawled up the sand washed over his toes. He couldn't count the number of times he'd gone over it in his head, how he would tell her that he loved her, how he would propose. He thought about all of it and the idea filled him with as much joy as it did dread.
He never thought he'd ever want to settle down and find someone to spend the rest of his life with. He'd never thought a ten-minute mistake would lead him to this moment, where he'd be standing alone on a beach praying his girlfriend would return his feelings.
It was funny how life worked sometimes.
Gripping the small box in his pocket tighter, as if it would disappear the moment he let it go, Dojo took another deep breath before pulling it out and holding it in front of him. Just at the sight of the little black box, Dojo felt his expression relax. Reaching up, he gently unclasped the decorative lock and carefully lifted the top until it snapped into place, proudly displaying the small ring.
It was a small, glistening Sterling Silver band with a claw-like setting adorning the center of the woven pattern, mounted within its very center a small diamond. Even the small metal petals that splayed out from beneath the rock and its metal casing reminded him more and more of Iku.
A small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as he pictured Iku's response to the ring. First, she would cry, then she would scold him for spending the money it cost to buy the tiny piece of twisted metal. She would insist that a simpler, less expensive ring would suit her better. He, however, would argue that she was worth every cent and had no qualms with spoiling her every so often.
"Silly girl, what have you done to me." he whispered softly, suddenly overcome by the desire to see her. To make things right again, even if that meant taking a step back in their relationship. He would wait for her as long as took.
Iku sneezed softly before giving the sides of her jacket a small tug, pulling them closer and welcoming the slight warmth it provided. She was standing outside in a park not far from the hotel, gazing at the flowerbeds that surrounded the area. She let out a soft sigh, tucking a few strands of hair behind her ear, before looking up at the full moon that illuminated the sky and letting cool ocean breeze wrap itself around her. Dark brown eyes sparkled with the light of the shining stars, and she took a deep breath. Her mind was racing, every thought, no matter how hard she tried, tracing back to Dojo.
She couldn't stop thinking about it. She'd never known him to act like that before; not since she'd met him at least. One moment playful, another gentle, the next ruffled, and finally... scared. She wasn't used to this, she didn't even know that it was possible to for anyone's attitude to change that rapidly. To say that she was worried would be an understatement; but could understand why he'd left.
She wasn't expecting him to tell her that he loved her. She was so shocked, she didn't know what to say, and she was too afraid to look at him in case she'd misheard him.
Letting out a sigh of frustration, Iku closed her eyes, her mind replaying their time together over the past two months; several of their dates had taken place on nights much like this. He'd always walk her back to her dorm, an arm around her shoulders or her waist or holding her hand, always something to assure her that it was all real. Whether they were returning from a dinner out, the movies, or wherever they went, he'd always walk her up to her dorm room, ignoring prying eyes, and kiss her good-night, before telling her not to be late for work in the morning and leaving. Iku smiled at the thought, it was a sweet gesture, in its own odd way, and it only seemed to add to his already-charming personality.
Iku smiled, zipping up her jacket and placing her hands on the concrete banister that acted a barrier between the blooming flowerbeds in the park and the drop-off to the beach about ten to twenty feet below.
He wasn't like the guys she had dated in the past. He never pressured her, never tried to change her, never discouraged her. He always put her first, no matter the situation, even before they were dating. He was always protecting her; from her parents, the media, the evils of the world, even from Tezuka during the start of her induction to the Task Force. At the same time, he had pushed her harder than anyone... because he wanted her to stop before she got hurt.
Sighing again, Iku shook her head and pushed away from the banister and walked further into the park, her hands clasped behind her as she looked around. Then, seeing that no one was around, she smiled to herself before extending her arms and closing her eyes as the thought of her and Dojo's first 'official' date popped into her head.
They had gone to the theater to see 'Swan Lake' and were on their way back to the base when she'd asked Dojo how it was that the dancers could manage to spin around so elegantly without getting dizzy.
"I'm sure it takes a lot of practice." He had replied calmly, as they turned another corner and paused at the entrance to the park beside the base. "I'm not quite ready to head back yet, do you want to take detour?"
Inwardly, she was elated by the idea of getting to spend more time with him. Outwardly, she had grinned and nodded happily before falling in step beside him and entering the park.
She was quite familiar with the park, having jogged through it more than once while on her morning runs. It felt different being there at night, though. Instead of birds, the sounds of chirping crickets filled her ears and the trees were still. In a way it was relaxing and something about it made her feel like humming.
So she did.
And for moment, she forgot about her companion and skipped ahead on the stone path. Arms spread wide, she gave the dancers' movements a try and spun on the ball of her foot. She then made an attempt to leap forward, from one foot to another, along the path. However, after several awkward landings, she couldn't help but laugh at herself as she continued trying to be as elegant as the ballerinas she'd seen earlier.
That is until she spun into Dojo's arms.
"Oops!" She felt her cheeks heat up as she felt his arms wrap around her and she looked away shyly. "I'm sorry, I guess I got carried away."
She made a weak attempt to pull away and was surprised when she felt him chuckle, his eyes impossibly soft as he gazed at her. She could feel her knees grow weak as the arm around her waist tightened slightly, holding her up against him.
Carefully, seeing as there was no escaping him now, she folded her arms against her chest and leaned into him.
"U-um, sir?" she whispered nervously, the warmth of his body heat making her brain go a little fuzzy.
"Call me Atsushi."
Her eyes widened and she snapped her head back around to stare at him like he'd grown a second head.
There was no way she could do that! He was her superior, it was disrespectful and grossly inappropriate!
However, just as she had opened her mouth to argue, she faltered. She had expected him to look stern and demanding, much like how he did while they were working. But he didn't. Instead, his gaze was gentle and he offered a tiny, nervous smile.
It was adorable. Completely and utterly adorable.
And she knew there was no way she could refuse him.
So, after taking a deep breath in an attempt to calm down, she nodded at him before speaking, her voice barely coming out as a whisper.
Heat immediately rose to her cheeks and she immediately tried to hide her face in his shoulder. No doubt he was shocked to hear her say his name, he was probably appalled. It was just too strange!
Once again, however, he surprised her.
Wrapping one arm around her waist, he cradled the back of her head with his other hand before tilting his head towards hers on his shoulder.
"Iku," he whispered softly, her name rolling off his tongue with what sounded like ease, "Look at me, please."
Hesitantly, she raised her head to meet his ebony gaze.
Closing his eyes, he leaned up gently kissed her forehead, holding her still for a couple seconds before resting his forehead against hers as a small smile graced his lips.
Smiling to herself, Iku twirled around just like she had that night, staying on her feet with a better sense of balance then before, adding a leap here and there.
Being with Dojo was like a dream come true and she honestly couldn't imagine a time in her life when she had been happier.
She let out a small laugh as she danced clumsily around on the paved park path, until the sound of clapping floated through the air, halting her in her spot. Iku paused and lowered her arms before turning towards the sound. Her eyes widened when they found him, leaning causally against a nearby tree, his gaze, despite looking more amused than ever, gentle as it fell upon her.
"Atsushi!" she cried happily, whirling herself around to face him before running over to him.
On the way back to the hotel, Dojo found himself wandering through a nearby park, his thoughts elsewhere. As he walked, he quietly relished in the serenity of the quiet park, the sound of the distant ocean waves filling the air along with the chirps of summer crickets and mating cicadas.
Taking a deep breath, he paused beside a small concrete banister, the flowers adorning its sides a beautiful array of reds, pinks and blues. Kneeling down, Dojo gently brushed his fingers along the petals of one of the pink flowers. Its color reminded him of the kimono she'd worn earlier that year to the cherry blossom festival in Tokyo.
Letting out a soft sigh, Dojo stood and turned back toward the path. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his phone and flipped it open, smiled slightly at the home screen picture. It was of him and Iku as they sat on a bench under one of the Sakura trees at the festival. It had been her idea to take the picture, to commemorate his recovery, and because she thought the tree behind them was 'pretty.'
Dojo chuckled softly as he gazed at the photo. She had looked so beautiful in her kimono that night, but every time he tried to tell her, she had blushed and changed the subject. It was adorable. She was adorable.
It was then, in the distance, he heard it. It sounded like someone was humming ballet music, albeit terribly off-tune. Curiosity piqued, Dojo couldn't help but move further into the park and towards the horrible noise.
As he drew closer, it didn't take much time for him to identify the hummer. And it took even less time for him to find her.
However, as he watched the young woman twirl around in the middle of the park, he couldn't bring himself to interrupt her. Instead, his mind drifted back to the time he'd taken her to see the very ballet she was attempting to recreate.
It was their first official date and he was nervous beyond belief.
It was almost laughable, really.
Here he was, a man who ran around dodging bullets for a living, feeling unbelievably nervous about his first official date with his girlfriend.
Nevertheless, he was determined to make this date a success.
Initially, he'd been planning on taking her out to see a movie and grab dinner afterwards. However, after hearing the young sergeant vehemently defend the show Tezuka claimed to be a 'snooze-fest,' he changed his mind.
Knowing that Iku had been wanting to see 'Swan Lake' for a while had done little to ease his conscious, though. His little sister's attempt at encouragement hadn't helped either.
"Don't worry, Atsushi," she'd said flippantly, "Even if this date does end in disaster, at least you've got the Prince Charming thing to fall back on."
Sighing inwardly, Dojo closed his eyes and stuffed his hands in his pockets before leaning back against one of the train station walls.
He was fifteen minutes early and every passing second felt like hours as he watched dozens of people pass him by. It was a Friday, so he wasn't surprised to see so many people out and about. Everyone from elderly couples to families to groups of high schoolers were meandering their ways through the busy train station.
It wasn't until he felt a small tug on his sleeve that he realized Iku had arrived.
"Ah, sorry." he apologized weakly as she smiled at him, her brown hair slightly wind blown from her walk to the station.
"It's okay," she said gently before tilting her head cutely to the side and asking, "So, where are we headed?"
Dojo said nothing as he pushed himself off the wall and took hold of her hand, before leading them out of the train station. He heard her huff as she followed him down the bustling streets of downtown Tokyo. The grip on her hand tightened slightly as he pulled them to a stop at the edge of the road.
Once again, she asked him where they were going and he turned her and smiled, tugging on her hand to pull her closer so he could whisper in her ear.
"It's a secret."
A cute blush painted her cheeks and he chuckled before pulling her along once they were given the signal to cross.
When they finally arrived in front of the theater, Iku was speechless, her eyes wide with surprise and glittering with excitement as she turned back to face him.
"Are you serious?" she asked eagerly, her gaze flickering back and forth between him and the glowing letters on the billboard hanging above them.
Reaching into his coat pocket, Dojo pulled out two tickets for 'Swan Lake' and smiled, "Yep."
Beside him, Iku squealed happily before letting go of his hand and throwing her arms around his neck.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" she cried, kissing his cheek briefly, before grabbing his hand once more and dragging him towards the ticket booth.
To say the least, she had absolutely loved the ballet and made sure to tell Tezuka all about her favorite parts the next day during their lunch break.
Dojo chuckled at the memory as he watched his girlfriend spin around, giggling to herself as she went. She was, once again, lost in her own little world and it made his heart swell. Her love for the simple things in life was something he absolutely adored about her. She had the heart of a child, so innocent and pure.
He wanted to protect that heart of hers and as he watched her laugh at her clumsiness, he couldn't help but smile.
Raising his hands, he began to clap slowly, alerting the young soldier of her audience. Instantly, her movements stopped, her arms falling to her sides as she turned towards him.
Her eyes widened the moment she saw him and, seconds later, a brilliant smile broke out onto her face.
Dojo braced himself as Iku came barreling towards him at top speed.
Seconds later, a strangled sound escaped his lips as she tackled him, knocking him off his feet and sending them both tumbling into the grass. Dojo grunted when the back of his head hit the dirt and Iku landed on top of him, her face buried in his chest.
Taking a deep breath, Dojo bit back the urge to scold her for tackling him in the middle of a park. However, just as he was about to ask if she was alright, she placed her hands flat on his chest and raised herself above him, brown eyes burning with fury.
"You idiot!" she snapped angrily, glaring down at him as tears began to well up in the corners of her eyes. "You big, stupid, idiot!"
Dojo was dumbfounded. Of all the reactions he'd expected from her, anger was last on the list.
He had no clue how to respond, so stayed quiet and let her continue, watching warily as the hands on his chest balled into fists, wrinkling his t-shirt in the process. She raised one of her hands off his chest and held it up as if she were about to hit him, but the strike never came.
"I can't believe you would just leave!" she yelled instead, hanging her head as her raised hand came down to rest on his chest again. Her voice wavered when she spoke again and she bit her lip and looked away. "Especially after saying something like that..."
Dojo's eye widened and he carefully sat up, causing Iku to slide into his lap.
"Iku..." he whispered, wrapping his arms around her waist as she sniffled quietly in front of him.
"I can't believe you..." she whispered, her bangs hiding her face from him.
She sounded so scared that it broke his heart.
"Iku, " he tried again, rubbing gentle circles into the small of her back as she leaned forward and burrowed her face into the crook of his neck "Please, you aren't making any sense."
She wrapped her arms around his waist but refused to say anything as she tried to contain her sniffles.
Minutes passed as they sat their before Iku shifted in Dojo's lap and mumbled into his t-shirt.
Dojo leaned closer, unable to hear exactly what she had just said.
"Iku, I'm sorry, but I can't hear you." he whispered gently as he hugged her a little tighter.
"Do you..." she started, her voice unsteady as she lifted her head and met his concerned gaze. "Do you really mean it?"
Tears clung to the corners of her eyes as big brown eyes stared at him. "Do you really love me, Atsushi?"
Dojo's eyes widened at the sight of her tears. Raising one of his hands, Dojo cupped her cheek and gently stroked the skin with his thumb, wiping the tears away as they fell.
"You blockhead," he said with a soft chuckle, "Of course, I mean it."
"Really?" Iku sniffed, her free hand coming up to wipe away the tears slipping down her other cheek.
"Of course, how many times are you going to make me say it before you believe me?" Dojo asked as he raised his other hand and held entwined his fingers with the hand on her cheek. "I love you, Iku Kasahara."
Seconds later, Iku smiled and threw her arms around Dojo, hugging him tightly as she cried happily, "I love you, too, Atsushi!"
So, I got a review the other day for another story of mine. The reviewer told me that they were tired of waiting for me to update the story and were removing the story from their bookmarks.
Frankly speaking, messages such as those make me want to do one of two things: 1) Update just to spite the person 2) Not update because I don't have the time and after reading that review, no longer have the desire to if people are going to be rude about it. Look guys, I'm only human and I do this purely because I enjoy it. Life happens and I try to write when I have time or inspiration, but it can take a while for things to be at a quality that I want to publish.
Anyways, I would just like to say thank you to all of you who have kept this story on your favorites and follows lists. I know I take forever to update, and I really appreciate that you are all willing to stick with me. I'm sorry that I've made you all wait so long for a new chapter!
Thanks again for all the support! Until next time!