To begin with: if you do not like rich, sexy, dominant guys doing rich, sexy, dominant and possibly [obviously] perverted things... this FF is not for you. Other than that... It has a LOT of Tora Igarashi. It also has a lot of Tora Igarashi being, well, Tora Igarashi. Right? Right.
Disclaimer: I no own Maid-sama. Wish I did, though. =[
Tora Igarashi looked up. His fingers were intertwined, and his chin rested on his hands, giving him a cool-headed, nonchalant sort of appearance. "Maki," he said, inclining his head at his second-in-command. He motioned with one hand. "Sit down."
The Vice President of Miyabigoka High School did so. He would have been handsome if he hadn t been slit-eyed, the narrow eyes dark and, as they held Tora, holding a modicum of respect.
"Well?" Tora's smile, dangerous without him trying, was all white teeth. "You seem to have news."
Maki set down a folder. "The Suoh family has confirmed the date of their visit."
Tora knew as much, though he did not say so. The Suohs and Igarashis were the kind of friends only enemies can be. Markani Suoh, President of the Suoh Group of Companies, wanted his son to transfer to Miyabigoka High, the next year. His father had arranged to tour the school, Tora knew, more to see how the Igarashi son ran it, than to check if it met his expectations - after all, it went without saying that if a place was good enough for an Igarashi, it was good enough for a Suoh.
"Preparations for entertaining the Suohs have begun. Of course, you are expected to play a central role."
Tora smirked. "I am aware of that. Have you made inquiries?"
Maki flushed. "Of course, President. It seems the Suohs have a love of pantomimes."
"Pantomimes." There was a half-smile, an almost lazy half-smile, in Tora's tones. "I see."
"Dance. Music. Theatre," Maki went on. "Lady Suoh is especially susceptible to a good romance. The Theatre Committee believes the right play would impress her more than anything else might."
Tora rose to his feet. He was taller than most boys his age, and there was a certain confidence, a certain casual elegance in the way he stood. "What does the committee want from me?" he asked, his back to the vice president, an edge of boredom in his tones.
Maki rose to his feet, too. "They have a script," he said. "The Suohs' visit coincides with the annual Open House School Tour." The open house tour was as much a top-drawer marketing strategy as a tour, and Tora s presence had been enough in the past to draw a truckload of girls toMMiyabigoka High. "The tour will culminate in the play, this year. It would be advantageous to the school if you are part of it."
Tora turned, picked up the folder Maki had placed on the table, and flicked it open. His lips lifted into his slow, almost dangerous smile as his eyes rested on a page, before turning it over. "I could have fun with this script," he said.
Maki s eyes flashed. The vice president had known the president long enough to know what that statement could mean. Tora was a womanizer and heart-breaker, and an incurable one at that. "You would of course, have a choice in who the female lead is," he said. "The Theatre Committee is considering Kagura Hanson, but they plan to hold auditions next week."
Not Kagura. Tora's tones made the name sound like a discarded toy. He'd had her. He wasn't interested in her. It was always a task for Maki to find a woman who could satisfy Tora, even for a while. "I want someone exciting, for once, Maki." He straightened. "Announce the date and time for the auditions. Announce that whoever auditions will pass an optional course of choice without having to sit the exam." The Igarashis had enough influence on the school for Tora to ensure that and, even if they hadn't, Maki suspected Tora could have still convinced the management that generating traffic for the auditions was not just beneficial, but necessary. Tora had that way with words, that supreme self-confidence, that manner of doing things.
But it wasn t just that, right now. Tora was, Maki knew, looking for weaknesses in others. Whoever would audition just to pass a course, must be desperate. Exploiting and utilizing weaknesses was Tora's idea of fun.
And one of his many specialties.
Sarakshi frowned at the test paper on her desk. She'd always been good at physics, so this was ridiculous. She couldn't remember the darned formula. She needed to study harder. But, she knew even if she wouldn't admit it to herself, it wasn't about studying harder. It was the all-nighters. She'd never been the kind who could stay up all night and still be as fresh as a daisy in the morning.
The thing was, she didn't have much of a choice.
She couldn't study in the afternoons or evenings. She was juggling two part-time jobs, and she needed the money. There were clothes and groceries to buy. Bills to pay. Books to purchase. She'd made it to Miyabigoka High on scholarship, and then she had realized that the scholarship didn't pay for her books or uniforms or lunch or other ridiculous school expenditures. She sighed, looked down at the test paper, rose to her feet, and turned it in.
Outside, the corridor was relatively empty. She'd been at Miyabigoka High for a full two weeks now, and she still hadn't gotten used to how huge and shining the corridors were. It was almost ridiculous. Frowning, she walked down, intending to visit one of the unused classrooms and sleep the rest of the period away, when she noticed the new notice on the notice board. She paused in front of it, her eyebrows rising, until they were in danger of disappearing in her hair.
No audition could be this important.
But what did she know how things at Miyabigoka worked? And if attending an audition could mean she could catch some sleep instead of having to worry about G&T assignments, why not?
She could feel guilty about taking the easy way out later. Right now, her world was starting to sink and she needed to grab whatever opportunity came her way, to keep it afloat.
"There are some interesting ladies signing up," Tora said, as he turned over a page in the folder Maki had just handed him. His voice was like a smirk. He paused at a photo. "This is?"
"Mineret Takashi, Class 2-A." Maki was, as always, prepared for any and all questions. "Do you like her?"
Tora looked down at the picture. She had copious amounts of blonde hair, wide green eyes, and her dress was skintight, showing a large amount of cleavage. "I haven t seen her before," he said smoothly.
"She's a transfer," Maki replied. "We have... a mutual understanding."
Tora's eyes met Maki's, and the blonde smirked. "Ah," he said. He flicked the picture between a thumb and index finger, and it slid across the table, landing in Maki's lap. "Keep her then. I wouldn t want to affect your... mutual understanding." It was a favour, Maki knew. Tora could do it, if he felt like it. He had stellar looks, and he knew it. His riches - he was next in line to the Igarashi fortune - only made girls more susceptible, as if they weren t susceptible enough already. "I'm sure something interesting will turn up."
Damnit, she was going to be late. The auditions were supposed to start at 5.45, and it was half past five now. Her plan had been to leave at five-fifteen. She'd told the manager she could only put in half an hour after school today, and that she'd make up for it by working the morning shift on the weekend, but one of the customers had kept her. Sarakshi bowed to the man, all smiles and, the moment she'd stepped into the staff area, scowled.
"Manilla-san." She tugged off her apron in one quick jerk. "I'm going to change now."
Manilla nodded as she picked up a tray. "Good luck on the auditions, Sarakshi-chan."
Sarakshi hadn't told Manilla she didn't want the part, and she didn't have the heart to now, because Manilla's face was all lit up. There was no time to shower, so she just changed, grabbing an old pair of shorts, and a baggy, oversized, deep green t-shirt. She brushed her hair and, unable to find a hair tier, picked up a chopstick from a counter and stuck it through her bun to hold it there. She'd return it tomorrow. Manilla wouldn't miss it. Grabbing her bike keys, she sped out of the parking lot of Crème Maid but, even driving at full speed, she reached Miyabigoka High ten minutes late. By the time she'd found the hall she was looking for, she was twenty minutes late and not sure if she was in the right place.
There was a pair of doors in front of her. She pushed it open and burst in.
Everyone turned to look at her.
She bit the inside of cheek.
Everyone went back to talking and chatting, and Sarakshi breathed a sigh of relief.
"Should we begin now, President?" Maki's voice was cool, polite, professional – as always. "It seems –"
The back doors burst open, and someone walked in. There had been a few latecomers, but none of them had attempted to use the backdoors, and Tora broke away from Maki to look around, one perfect eyebrow raised. The girl standing in the doorway wore something no Miyabigoka High girl would ever be caught dead in – old shorts and an oversized green shirt – and she was breathing hard, her chest rising and falling, like she had run a marathon.
Tora turned to Maki, his eyes cool and indifferent. "Of course. Sort them –" He waved a hand at the crowd – "and start the auditions. I will watch from upstairs. There may be candidates I wish to audition myself. I will let you know. Until then –" His voice became cooler – "I do not wish to be disturbed."
It seemed no one was looking at her, anymore. Sarakshi had a feeling the Miyabigoka High students found her too low to even show contempt – it had something to do with her clothing – which suited her just fine. She could slink into the shadows, and watch until she was given directions –
Someone touched her wrist.
The touch was light, almost as if it wasn't. She turned around, surprised, and found herself looking into a pair of deep golden eyes. She took a step backwards, her blue eyes widening, before frowning. "Excuse me?"
The young man bowed, one hand behind his back. "Tora Igarashi, Student Council President."
She'd heard of him, of course, even if she hadn't had time to get to know much about the Student Council, let alone meet any of the people on it, in the two weeks that she had been there. "Sarakshi Ishin," she said. "How may I help you?"
"I'm conducting the auditions, Sarakshi-san." He took her hand, raised it to his mouth, and brushed his lips across the top of her knuckles. "If you'll follow me?"
"I –" Damn, he was handsome. He wore expensive cologne, the kind that made you feel dizzy if you got too close. "Of course." She followed him outside and into another hall, perhaps one of the auditoriums. The doors closed behind her, and she realized the place was dark and silent. Tora raised a remote, and dim lighting came on, so that everything in the auditorium looked like a bit of a blur, outlined in the gray-bluish light.
"Your script, Sarakshi-san." His smile had a secretive sort of edge to it, like it was full of secrets he had no plans to share. He sat down in the front row, leaning backwards lazily. "Shall we begin?" he asked, motioning to the stairs that led up to the stage.
Sarakshi frowned. "There's no one else here."
"Sarakshi-san, have you auditioned for a play before?" Sarakshi flushed. She hadn't. Perhaps this was how auditions went. Tora's smile was self-assured. "I'm the Student Council President, Sarakshi-san. I'll be overseeing your audition. Well, then." He leaned forward. "Shall we begin?"
He was unsettling. Sarakshi looked down at the script, which she knew nothing about. She wished she'd at least been able to read through it once, before coming here. She'd been sure she'd give a terrible audition, but she hadn't expected to do it in front of just one guy, and a guy with a gaze as piercing, as studying as Tora Igarashi's. He had a way of standing, sitting, talking – of being – that made her realize she didn't belong.
She cleared her throat. "Right," she said. She walked up to the stage and looked down at the script. "Perhaps," she said quietly. "Perhaps this is how things were meant to be, Takashi. If wishes were horses, we would all have ridden them. If dreams were –"
She stopped. Tora was studying her, and she was suddenly very aware of being alone with him. She flushed. "Yes?"
"You're not putting enough feeling into it." He had risen to his feet, and he was walking towards the stage now. "You have to make your audience believe in the character you are playing." He came to a halt in front of her, and took the script from her hands. "Perhaps we should practice another scene? A more… intense one?"
He took a step forward and, with no warning whatsoever, pinned her against the wall. "The two leads are supposed to have chemistry," His voice was silk. This close, he could smell her and she didn't smell like any of the women he'd known, of expensive soap or perfume. She smelled of chocolate and baking powder. "What subject do you need to pass in, Sarakshi-san?" His lips were next to her ear.
"Let go of me," Sarakshi said, shoving him back. He caught both of her arms with ease, holding them against the wall.
"What subject do you need to pass in, Sarakshi-san?" This time, his voice had authority.
"Let go of me, you idiot!"
He laughed. The sound was silken and dangerous. "You could pass, you know." He was still holding her there so she couldn't get away, but he did not kiss her, did not touch her in any other way. She'd come to him. They all did. "There are ways to make sure you pass. Everything. I have influence. Money. You wouldn't have to study for weeks. Maybe even months."
"Who do you think," her voice was suddenly cold and, for a moment, Tora's eyes widened. Then they were cool, again. "You're talking to?" She twisted her arm, ripping it free of him, her breathing fast and furious. Her hair had come undone, and her eyes were shining with anger. "Do you think I give a damn about your influence? Your money?"
She slapped him across the face, hard, and before Tora could recover, she had left, banging the door of the auditorium shut behind her.
Thank you for reading.
Reviews are nice. They make me want to update.