Author's note: This is my first Library Wars (or Toshokan Sensou) fic. It's a mix of both the anime and the manga, since I have read/watched both. The military ranks of the characters are based on the ones they have in the manga, and the story takes place about three years after the anime ends. Please enjoy and tell me what you think!
Fight for Freedom
The woman in green fatigues and black military boots stood at the edge of a sandy field, where a squadron of soldiers ran, guns at high port. They were all the newest recruits of the Library Task Force, all of them men, except for one. Looking on, the woman thought deeply, rolling up her sleeves in an attempt to cool herself despite the hot afternoon summer sun. I, Iku Kasahara, have been handpicked for the Library Task force, an elite defense unit that protects books from the fiends of the Media Betterment Committee and their ideas of censorship. Though I was chosen a while ago, I was, for the longest time, the only woman in the Task Force. But not any more...
"I bet you wish you were running out there with them, eh, Kasahara?"
Sergeant Iku Kasahara turned to the man standing next to her. Captain Mikihisa Komaki, one of her superiors since she first joined the Task Force, looked at her with his ever-present smile on his face. "In this weather, sir? Not at all!" Kasahara fanned her face with her hand as she replied to her superior.
Komaki laughed and received a growl of reprimand from the dark-haired major standing next to him. "How can you even talk in such weather?" the major asked.
"Come now, Dojo, lighten up!" Komaki teased.
Major Atsushi Dojo huffed a sigh and called out a command to one of the recruits, receiving a prompt response in reply.
Kasahara fanned her face with both hands. "I cannot wait to get out of this sun and get an ice cold drink."
"Me, neither," the sergeant to her left added. Hikaru Tezuka, who had been on Kasahara's team when she first joined the Task Force, was stern and seemingly perfect, yet Kasahara had been able to pick out the tiny flaws over the three years they had been on the Task Force together. Together, they were now in charge of their own team of Task Force members.
"Hey, Suzuki's slowing down," Komaki said, his eyes on the running soldiers. "She looks like she's about to collapse."
Kasahara turned her gaze to the second female Task Force member. "They all do," Tezuka commented.
"Should we call them in, sir?" Kasahara asked Dojo.
The stern major nodded. "All right! That's enough! Come on over!" At those words the recruits slowed, but didn't stop, and made their way over, breathing hard. Kasahara caught sight of Corporal Riku Suzuki. The young woman's face was flushed with the heat and the effort of running. Dojo, noting Suzuki's face, began barking orders. "That's it for today. Tomorrow, you all start your librarian duties, as is the responsibility of the Task Force. Don't be late!"
"Dismissed! Put the guns away and go cool off."
The group disbanded. Only Tezuka, Kasahara, Komaki, and Dojo remained. The four started back slowly, following their subordinates into the shade. Kasahara jogged a bit to catch up to Dojo, walking side by side with the commanding officer in charge of the Task Force. "So, sir, are we still on for tonight?" she asked.
"Oh? Kasahara and Dojo are going on a date?" Komaki asked brightly and teasingly. Dojo turned to give him a glare. Komaki chuckled at his friend's expression.
"Stay out of if, Komaki," Dojo said with annoyance, but his comment only made Komaki laugh harder.
"Why is it that you never play matchmaker between Shibazaki and I, sir?" Tezuka asked.
"Because," Komaki replied, attempting to keep a straight face. "You aren't some prince charming being praised by a book-enamored princess. These two loved each other from the moment they met back in that book store eight years ago but never bothered to admit it."
Kasahara's face went red with embarrassment and Dojo fumed. "Why must you always bring that up? It's in the past!" Komaki laughed again in response. Dojo sighed, turning to Kasahara. "I'll meet you at seven. You know where."
Kasahara grinned and nodded. "Yes, sir!" She took off running toward the girls' dorm. She didn't slow until she reached the door. She made her way up to the room she shared with her roommate, Asako Shibazaki, Tezuka's girlfriend. Shibazaki was already in the room and changed out of her uniform. "I'm home," Kasahara said as she came into the room.
"Ah, Kasahara, I was just wondering when you would get back. I hope you don't mind me going out tonight."
Kasahara shrugged out of her jacket and adjusted the straps of the tank top she wore underneath. "It's not a problem. I have plans tonight as well."
Shibazaki gave a small giggle. "Oh, I forgot. You're having dinner with Dojo."
"Yes," Kasahara admitted, blushing. She glanced at the clock. It was ten past five. She had a little less than two hours before she would meet Dojo at their pre-decided spot by the library. As she gathered a change of clothes she glanced at Shibazaki, who was perched on the edge of her bed, deep in a book. Beside her, clothes were laid out for the night. "What are you doing tonight?"
Shibazaki looked up. "Oh. Tezuka just called and asked me to go out with him tonight."
"Spur of the moment?"
For a moment, Kasahara thought that Tezuka only called the date to spy on her and Dojo, but she pushed it away. Tezuka wasn't the nosy type. Besides, he didn't even know where they were going. Satisfied with that thought, Kasahara finished gathering her clothes and a towel and went to bathe.
Riku Suzuki, the second woman in the Library Task Force, left the women's dorm with her roommate, Ami Nakayama, on the way to dinner. She had known Nakayama, a corporal in the Defense Force, all through university, where they met when they discovered their passions about books were the same if not similar.
They decided, since the evening was turning out to be rather nice, to get their meal and enjoy it out on the lawn next to the library.
"Hey," Nakayama said after a moment of quiet, "isn't that Sergeant Kasahara?"
Suzuki followed her friend's gaze. "Yeah. I wonder what she's doing?"
The two young women watched the well-dressed sergeant walk along the path along side the library. Her pace quickened as a figure stepped out of the shadows of the library.
"It's Major Dojo!" Suzuki said excitedly but in a hushed tone. The two friends watched as the sergeant reached the major, and exchanged a few words before the two of them went off around the far corner of the library.
"I heard rumors that they were together," Suzuki said as Nakayama giggled, "but I didn't think they were true. It's always been hushed up, from what I've heard."
"I guess this proves it!" Nakayama exclaimed. The two of them burst into giggles.
"You're awfully quiet tonight."
Kasahara looked up from stirring her drink with the straw. Dojo sat across from her, watching her. "I'm just tired. Long day, you know?"
Dojo nodded and took a sip of his own drink, annoyed with himself. He hated awkward pauses. Come on, idiot! he scolded himself. Think of something to say to her!
"We should go to that tea shop again," Kasahara said. "It was a great place."
"We can do whatever makes you happy, Iku," Dojo replied, enjoying the smile he received from Kasahara when he used her first name – something he rarely did. "Actually, I found it a rather enjoyable experience. We haven't been there in a long while, have we?"
"Three years ago," Kasahara stated promptly. "You just got out of the hospital after that Ibaraki incident."
"Yeah." Dojo grimaced inwardly, remembering the event. He had been caught in the fiery remains of the boxes of precious documents and books in the storage of the Ibaraki Library. The fire had been caused by the crazed head librarian who both Kasahara and Dojo had tried to stop before she caused too much damage.
"So, is that a plan?"
"Huh?" Kasahara asked, raising her eyebrows.
"Next time we go to that tea shop? Is that a good plan?"
Kasahara's expression lit up. "Oh, yes!"
Dojo grinned, then noticed his girlfriend tensing up, looking past him. He turned in his seat, following her gaze. He frowned, understanding Kasahara's sudden agitation. Tezuka and Shibazaki were walking their way, led by a waiter to the adjacent table.
"My, look who it is," Shibazaki commented as she sat down. "Are you two having fun?"
"We were before you came in," Kasahara said in a low voice. Shibazaki only laughed while Tezuka gave one of his rare smiles. Kasahara turned away from her friends and stared out the window, ignoring her roommate's laugh, however she did catch Dojo giving a half smile.
Tezuka spoke up. "When Kasahara mentioned the date, I figured that it had been a while since Shibazaki and I went on one."
"So you do have feelings, Tezuka! How sweet!" Kasahara teased. Her fellow sergeant gave her a sour look in return, but Kasahara's smile remained undaunted.
The evening wore on peacefully, and all too soon Kasahara found herself back on the Kantou Library Base, walking side by side with Dojo. They were a few paces behind Shibazaki and Tezuka, who were walking hand in hand and talking in low voices.
Dojo looked at Kasahara. "We'll have to pick a date to go to that tea shop."
"Yes," Kasahara replied. Then a smile lit her face. "Though not when Captain Komaki is around."
Dojo laughed. "Next day off, then?"
Kasahara nodded. They slowed their pace until they stopped, letting Shibazaki and Tezuka go ahead. Dojo took Kasahara's hands.
"Tonight wasn't what I had planned it to be," the major said in a low voice. "But I hope you had fun nonetheless."
"I did, Atsushi."
"I'm glad, Iku."
They moved closer, aiming to end the night perfectly with a kiss. It would have been so if Shibazaki hadn't broken the moment.
"Kasahara, let's go!"
Kasahara cringed and immediately let got of Dojo's hands, taking a step back. Dojo looked annoyed for a moment, but hid it. He placed a hand on her head in his usual way of expressing his feelings. "I'll see you tomorrow," he said.
Dojo watched Kasahara walk off with her roommate, slightly disappointed. The perfect moment to end the night had been lost, and Kasahara had switched back to her formal self.
With a sigh, Dojo turned and walked back to his room.
The next morning, Suzuki entered the Task Force's office in the midst of an argument. She stopped in the doorway, watching with wide eyes the sight of Dojo and Kasahara shouting at each other. She quickly glanced around. Only the new Task Force members looked uncomfortable about this. The others were watching with amusement, or were – like Tezuka – ignoring the couple and sipping their coffee.
"I thought you learned to be more responsible!" Dojo shouted.
Komaki walked up to Suzuki. "Don't worry about it," the captain said quietly her. "It's completely normal."
"For them to argue like that, sir?"
"Oh." She watched Kasahara fume silently while Dojo continued to reprimand her, pointing to a packet of papers on his desk.
Finally, the sergeant had enough. "How do you expect me to concentrate when you ask me on a date?" she demanded, interrupting Dojo's lecture.
This comment got everyone's attention. The room went quiet and Tezuka smirked.
Dojo, aware of the attention they were getting, glared around the room. "Don't you all have work to do?"
"Yes, sir!" The room resumed its busy state.
Quietly, Dojo replied to Kasahara. "You didn't have to say you would go."
"I wanted to go," Kasahara replied.
"You shouldn't let it get to you then."
Kasahara huffed, still angry. "Like that's going to happen, sir."
"All right, enough, you love birds," Komaki stepped between them. "We all know you both love each other in the end."
"Komaki!" Dojo protested angrily.
"Let's just get along, yeah?" Komaki continued. "It's way to early in the morning for this. And you're scaring the newbies."
Kasahara and Dojo looked in the direction of where the newest Task Force members stood, waiting for their assignments fearfully. Kasahara gave them a quick apologetic smile before snatching the papers off Dojo's desk with a pointed looked at her superior. She marched off to her own desk and sat down, staring at the papers. Dojo watched her for a moment, his expression softening.
He turned to the new recruits to give them their assignments, but before the words were out of his mouth, a loud buzzer sounded.
"Attention! Patrol units have sighted MBC agents on premises! All defense units on duty! Patrons of the library are asked to evacuate!" The announcement rang through the building over the sound of the alarm.
"Task Force into position!" Dojo commanded.
People scrambled to obey orders. Within minutes, the Task Force was ready for action, running to defend the books they so dearly loved.
"Suzuki, stay near me!" Kasahara called out to her subordinate.
"Yes, ma'am!" the corporal replied.
Suzuki and Kasahara joined Dojo and Tezuka in a defensible location by the main entrance to the library.
"Here they come," Tezuka said, readying his gun. Suzuki looked terrified, and Kasahara gave her a warm, encouraging smile as the first gunshots sounded.
This time, the task was to prevent the Media Betterment Committee – or MBC – from entering the library and eventually turn them away empty-handed. Any entrance into the library was heavily guarded by both Task Force members and regular Defense Force units.
As the fighting wore on, Dojo thought they were pushing back the MBC and winning the battle. But a sudden frantic message over the radio system of the Library Corps made him realize that they were far from victory.
"A member of the MBC has gotten in and managed to take a bag full of rare books. He's heading toward the main entrance!"
Dojo glanced at the doors of the library and saw the man in question barge through them. Next to him, Kasahara gasped. "Cover me!" she shouted, and sprinted toward the book thief.
But the stubborn sergeant didn't pay attention. She ran toward the MBC officer and tackled him head on. Punches and kicks were thrown until finally Kasahara wrestled the bag of books from her opponent, giving him one final kick to stop him from going after her. As she stood, Dojo breathed a sigh of relief. She was safe and she had the books.
"Kasahara, behind you!" Tezuka shouted suddenly from beside Dojo. Kasahara whirled around. Another MBC member was pointing his gun at her. She hadn't seen him coming. Dojo started running toward her, intending to get to her before the man fired.
The MBC agent cocked his gun and pulled the trigger.
Suzuki sat on her bed, her knees drawn up to her chest. Her roommate was watching the news, but none of the reporter's words sank in. She was a bit shell-shocked, having survived her first battle and enduring the sight of her team officer being shot at.
She had never seen Major Dojo look so upset...or so angry. The sight of his expression as he shouted down the MBC agent who shot Kasahara scared her.
"Our next topic: the Library Defense Force and the Media Betterment Committee had another battle today," the reporter on the television was saying. Suzuki looked up at the screen. "Here's Takeshi Hoshi on site."
The screen cut to a scene outside the property of the library and the Kantou Library Base. Suzuki glared at the handsome and young reporter. "Early this morning," he began, "the Media Betterment Committee launched a raid at the Musashino Main Library, aiming to collect censored and dangerous books." Suzuki huffed at that statement. Such bias. "The Library Defense Force fought back to protect both the library and the books inside it. The fight lasted an hour before the Media Betterment Committee halted the raid."
"Halted?" Nakayama questioned. She, too, had been involved in the fighting, though to a lesser extent than Suzuki. "More like gave up!"
"Casualties were sustained on both sides, but so far no fatalities." The reporter listed the names of the casualties on both sides. Suzuki glared even harder when her sergeant's name was mentioned. "The Library Defense Force refused to comment on the battle, while a spokesman from the Media Betterment Committee-"
Nakayama turned off the television in the middle of the reporter's sentence. "Load of crap," she muttered. "They make us sound like barbarians!"
Suzuki nodded. Once again, she replayed the scene from that morning over in her head. The look of shock on Kasahara's face as the bag of books slipped from her hands. The horror on Dojo's face as he watched his girlfriend fall to her knees, then the sorrow-fueled fury breaking through when he turned to the MBC agent to shout him down. And all the time, the MBC member didn't seem to feel guilty at all.
"If anyone's a bunch of barbarians, it's the MBC," Suzuki said quietly.
It was dawn when Kasahara surfaced from unconsciousness. She blearily looked around the hospital room she was in, wondering why she was here instead of the room she shared with Shibazaki. But she recalled why in an instant, and sighed. It was not fun to be shot.
She slowly became aware of another person: Dojo. He was sitting in a chair by her bedside, his hand grasping hers as he slept, his head resting on the edge of the bed. Kasahara smiled at the sight, and gently slipped her hand out of his, causing him to stir. He lifted his head and smiled softly when he saw that she was awake.
"I was so worried about you," he murmured.
"You shouldn't be. It'll take more than some MBC idiot to take me down. I was trained very well, you know."
"I'm glad to hear that."
The moment of quiet that followed was shattered suddenly when Kasahara's cell phone, sitting on the nightstand, began vibrating.
"It's been ringing all night," Dojo said as Kasahara reached out a bandaged hand to pick it up. She looked at the screen.
"It's my parents," she said, opening the phone. "Hello?" She cringed as her mother's worried voice came through, almost hysterically. "Mom-" she began, but was cut off. She tried twice more before she was able to finish her sentence. "Mom, I'm fine. There's no need for you to come and visit." She sighed. "Yes, I'm sure. Major Dojo is looking after me. Yes, he's here." Kasahara went quiet, and Dojo could faintly hear Kasahara's mother speaking on the other end of the line.
"Fine. But wait until I'm back on base, okay? Thank you."
After a few words of parting, Kasahara ended the call and sighed. "Sorry," she said to Dojo.
"Don't worry about it."
"Says the one who worried all night."
"I had a good reason to!"
"Of course you did." She smirked at him then sighed. "She's coming to visit once I get out of here."
"Oh? How did she find out?"
Dojo frowned but nodded.
After several more quiet seconds, Kasahara took Dojo's hands. "You didn't have to stay here all night for me."
"I wanted to."
"You know what, sir?"
Kasahara leaned forward and pressed her lips against Dojo's for a brief second. "I love you, Atsushi," she said, staring into his dark eyes.
Dojo kissed her back in reply. "I love you, too, Iku."