A Shuffle! Fanfic
By: Super Smasher
June 14th, 2004
"Rin-kun?" A familiar voice was calling. "It's time to wake up, Rin-kun."
It was the same soft voice he heard every morning. Vaguely, he realized that the time to wake up had arrived again.
"Mmm…" Rin opened his eyes gradually, battling sleepiness.
"Good morning, Rin-kun." He saw a pretty girl with a big smile on her face. "I was going to pull your blanket off if you didn't wake up soon," she said, letting go of his comforter.
"Ugh…" Rin moaned. "I don't care if you pull it off, but just let me sleep a little bit more… I was up late last night studying for the English test we have today…"
"You were studying?" The slightly sarcastic surprise was evident in her voice. Rin knew he couldn't put anything past her.
"No… I was trying to study, but I didn't make it to my desk."
She grinned at his reply. "It's okay if you want to sleep longer, but you'll have no time for breakfast. I made your favorite mushroom miso soup for you this morning… If you don't hurry, Kire's going to eat it all…"
"Hmm… That sounds very tempting… What can I do? Eating is as crucial as sleeping…" His appetite knocked out the sleepiness in the first 28 seconds of Round 1. Cementing his decision, Rin groggily climbed out of his bed.
"Here are your clothes." She left his uniform by the pillow with a large smile on her face.
"You're reading my mind, aren't you, Kaede…?"
"I'm not trying to read your mind. I just know what you like."
Fuyoh Kaede. She and Rin had been friends since childhood. Their fathers had been good friends; the Tsuchimi and Fuyoh families were very close. Rin had been living with her family ever since his parents passed away eight years ago. Kaede lost her mother in the same accident, and had been doing most of the household chores since then.
"Breakfast is ready, so come downstairs as soon as you can!"
"All right…" She left the room, beaming after seeing Rin's sleepy face.
"Here, Rin-kun. Eat up." Kaede proffered Rin a bowl of soup.
"Hey, Kaede… I know I've said this before, but I'd be fine with just having some toast for breakfast…" Rin nearly pleaded.
"If you want toast, then let's eat western-style tomorrow." Kaede said thoughtfully. "Now, what else…"
"Bacon and eggs!" The teen sitting next to Rin spoke up for the first time this morning. "Onion soup also goes with it pretty well, too."
"No, what I mean is…" Rin stammered, drawing looks from the other two. "it must be hard to make a full breakfast like this every morning."
"Rin… You seriously need to learn to let this go." The boy brushed his dark brown bangs away from his face, and let his brilliant blue eyes send Rin a clear message.
Shirakawa Kire. He and Rin had been friends almost as long as he and Kaede. Their parents had all attended school together, and Kire's father had passed away in an accident about half a year before the one that took Kaede's mother and Rin's parents. A few years later, his mother and Kaede's father married, and Kire and Kaede became stepsiblings.
"No, it's not hard at all." Kaede replied. "Taking care of you is what I live for!" She said in a way that implied that she enjoyed taking care of both Rin and Kire, but Rin knew what she really meant was that she wanted to take care of him.
"Is there a problem?" Kire asked suspiciously, but with a smile. He was the happy-go-lucky sort, whose good mood never seemed to end. In fact, Rin couldn't remember the last time he had seen Kire angry, or even sad.
"Uh…no…um…can I get some more tea?" Kaede's face lit up as Rin asked, and she hurriedly got up to head into the kitchen.
"How long are your parents' business trips this time?" Rin asked as the three exited the front gate of the Fuyoh house. "I heard your dad went overseas."
"I think he's going to be gone for a long time, like three or four months." Kaede replied thoughtfully.
"Mom's schedule is so hectic; even she never knows when she'll be back." Kire shook his head.
"They think it's ok to leave a young girl and two boys alone like this?" Rin rolled his eyes at the thought of the social taboo.
"It just shows how much they trust you, Rin." Kire threw his school bag over his shoulder with a yawn.
"You think they trust me?" Rin queried incredulously. "Mikio said 'Good luck. You have my permission.' when he was leaving. I think he should be more concerned about his daughter's future. There are no boys around because we're living with you."
"It'd be so easy for you to get a boyfriend if you wanted to." Kire agreed.
"I think he's concerned about me a lot…" Kaede held her arms close to her chest, blushing slightly. Both boys were taken aback at this statement. "…Never mind. We should hurry up; I think we're running late." She started walking away quickly, as if she was hiding her flushed face. Kire shrugged, and began to follow her, with Rin tagging along behind for a bit, before stopping in front of the house next door.
"It looks like the houses on either side of us got new residents." The house on the right side had a genuine Japanese structure. On the other hand, the one on the left was a modern, European-style house.
There were ordinary families living there in the past, but both they and their houses disappeared one day. Four houses on both sides, a total of eight, just disappeared suddenly. No one knew why, but they just vanished into nowhere. When they'd returned from school one day, the houses were gone. Then the next day, the new houses were built in those spots.
Both houses were unimaginably huge. They looked like they could appear in a mystery movie. The whole thing was just like magic. In fact, the kids around here called them the "Magic Houses."
"It looks like it." Kaede assented. "I haven't met anyone that lives there yet, but shall we greet them sometime soon?"
"I don't know. I think they should be coming to us." Rin pointed out.
"I guess they'll show up as soon as they're settled in." Kire suggested. Rin nodded, and started walking again.
"I've been waiting for you, Tsuchimi Rin, Shirakawa Kire!" The earth shook as a baseball bat, embedded with nails, hit the pavement. It belonged to a student in a Verbena Academy baseball uniform…well, at least the uniform was a student's. He looked to be at least thirty, as he was already balding.
"My name is Magnum Sakai, from the Fuyoh Kaede Special Defense Force KKK, short for Kitto Kitto Kaede-chan!" The man stuck his chest out, proudly displaying the pin with the three letters stamped upon it.
"Um…are you really a high schooler?" Rin asked incredulously, as Kaede ducked behind him.
"Don't give me that crap, Tsuchimi Rin!" Sakai yelled. "Now, you two will fight me, for Kaede-san's sake!" He pointed down at the two boys from his stance atop a flight of steps, blocking their way towards the Academy.
"Yes, indeed…" Rin muttered.
"How do you feel, Kaede, being turned into a prize?" Kire asked, grinning sheepishly.
"Um…well…" Kaede just smiled awkwardly, holding her school bag in front of her in a defensive stance.
"No…more…excuses!" Sakai yelled, swinging his bat around and launching himself off the top of the steps, towards Rin.
"I'm sorry, but I've already devoted my body and soul!" Kaede yelled.
Time seemed to slow as Sakai flew through the air. He stayed in an attacking pose for a second, before uttering a surprised "Huh?" Realizing what she'd just said, the full weight of her words crashed down upon him, and the powerful Magnum Sakai crashed to the asphalt and rolled for a few feet, before coming to rest in a sobbing heap. His bat embedded itself into the ground nearby.
"Oh, sorry…" Kaede hastily apologized. "I meant 'I intend to devote'…"
"Too late, Kaede." Kire said, face in palm. As the trio continued their walk to the academy, one could just barely make out a gaunt little man hiding behind a telephone post, biting a handkerchief in anger as tears streamed down his face.
It took about 15 minutes to walk from the house to the academy. Compared to the other students, they lived in a pretty fortunate location. They walked down the street in a hurry to head toward the school. The number of students increased as they approached the gate. Humans, Gods, and Demons, students from different worlds all head into this academy, all wearing the same uniform.
Verbena National Academy. The school was established five years ago, and everything from the history to the building is new. The world changed dramatically after what happened ten years ago. This academy was established in order to adapt to the changes in this new world.
"The Opening" is what people call the incident ten years ago. The doors to the worlds of the Gods and the Demons suddenly opened in the world of the Humans. That's when people from different worlds started living together. The Gods and Demons use their magical powers daily, and prove to the Humans that this isn't a dream. Until they appeared, angels and devils only existed in fairytales and religion. Their sudden arrival changed the world dramatically in only a few short years. They quickly migrated in, and now it was no longer rare to see them.
Although Humans can't use magic, Alchemy has developed rapidly, which has forced the establishment of new laws. Nobody could have foreseen today's society. Verbena Academy was made in order to adapt to this unanticipated future. It's the place where Humans, Gods, and Demons learn together. There are magic classes, which teach about how to control magical powers, even to Humans. There are similar schools like it around the world, but Verbena Academy is their role model.
Suddenly, both boys felt strong pressure on their backs. Rin managed to keep himself from falling, but Kire wasn't so lucky. He toppled to the ground in a heap. Rin immediately knew the culprit. There was only one person around who would do something like this.
"Asa-senpai!" Rin shouted, turning around quickly.
"Hello!" A green-haired girl stood there with a nonchalant look on her familiar and energetic face, just as Rin had expected.
"Good morning, Asa-senpai." Kaede smiled.
"You guys are walking together again? You're always together, huh?" Asa asked.
"Are you jealous or something?" Rin retorted. Asa gave him an even harder slap on the back, and Rin fell to the ground next to Kire, who grinned, giving him a "welcome to the club" look.
"You guys are walking together again? You're always together, huh?" She asked again. Rin gave up, lying face down on the ground silently.
"Rin-kun, Kire? Are you alright?" Kaede asked with a worried look on her face.
"Rin-chan, girls are very sensitive. You've got to be careful what to say to them."
"I think I'm far more sensitive than you are, Asa-senpai…"
"Hey! As a guy, you should always be in your best shape in order to protect girls."
"Well, you're not trying hard enough. I'll be going now. Don't take too much time, lovebirds. The bell's gonna be ringing soon." She winked at the three of them, and started to run away, but she came back quickly as if she had forgotten something. Reaching out, she took Rin's arm and held it tightly. He could feel her large breasts on his arm. "I'm sorry for punching you!" She smiled at him.
"What, no apology for me?" Kire asked, smiling. Rin just shook his head, amazed at how happy-go-lucky his friend was. Asa let go of Rin's arm and trotted over to him, reaching up to pat him on the head.
"There, there. I'm sorry. Better now?" Kire nodded. With a wave and a smile, Asa departed the scene for good. Rin was still taken aback by her movement beforehand.
"Wow, that felt… pretty good."
Shigure Asa. She was a year older than the three members of the Fuyoh house, and they'd known her since middle school. Kaede was a member of the cooking club, and that's where those two met. Rin and Kire met her later, and they'd been pseudo-friends ever since. She was a generous girl, and good at cooking, but…
"She's energetic, as usual." Kaede smiled.
"I think she has too much energy." Rin responded. "I always get exhausted just from talking with her."
"I can't believe she's the leader of the cooking club. She deserved to be on some kind of sports team." Kire agreed.
"Ahahaha…" Kaede let out a wry laugh.
"Aren't you joining the cooking club?" Rin asked thoughtfully. "I know they want you."
"I found something more important than joining the club." Rin couldn't say anything back to her, because Kaede had replied with that innocent smile of hers. He knew what she meant by important, and felt that he had no right to deny her opinion. The conversation ended, and the trio rushed into the school building.
"Kaede-chan, come into my arms!"
"Too bad, it's me."
"Rin… Get out of my face…" Itsuki welcomed them with his tight hug, as usual. Rin and Kire usually alternated shifts, but today was Rin's turn. It was extremely unpleasant, but it was better than having him hug Kaede.
"Will you give it up now? I'm sick of being hugged by you." Rin remarked.
"Hey, I'm sick of holding you guys every morning, too!" Itsuki said, a look of disgust on his face.
"Why are you so full of energy? How was the date with Beni-sensei yesterday?"
"I thought I was going to die." Itsuki pouted. "I'm athletically talented as well as intelligent, but I have my limits…"
"Athletic ability and endurance are two separate things, right?" Kire asked. It was small wonder that he could walk around all day and pick up girls. He has enormous endurance. Kaede was watching the conversation with an awkward smile on her face.
"Good morning, Itsuki-kun."
"Good morning, Kaede-chan. Your beauty is a crime. May I arrest you?"
"That is the worst pick-up line I've ever heard. Listen to what you just said!" A girl walked towards them with a disgusted expression.
"Good morning, Mayumi-chan!" Kaede smiled.
"What's up?" Kire asked.
Mayumi Thyme. Just like Itsuki, she's been the classmate of the Fuyoh family for two years in a row. She's a rare mix of Demons and Humans, and carries her camera around all the time while searching for scoops, even though she's not a member of the newspaper club. It was probably her straightforward attitude that attracted Rin to her.
"Those words are suitable to her sweet look." Itsuki retorted. "I'd say something sweet to you if your breasts were a little bigger."
"I will definitely, clearly, and vividly refuse that, thank you." Mayumi shook her head. "Besides, these small breasts are pretty rare. Having smaller than average breasts means I'm very special. This is actually my sales point!" She stuck her chest out with a snobby smile.
"M, Mayumi-chan…" Kaede smiled awkwardly. Rin buried his face in his palm, and Kire just looked confused. It's true that some guys are interested in small breasts like hers. But Rin still thought it was strange for her to be proud of them.
"Anyway, we shouldn't let Midoriba-kun anywhere near the new students." Mayumi said with a sigh.
"Hmm…" Itsuki's face immediately settled into a thinking appearance.
"I heard a rumor about them." Kaede interjected.
"You have new information?" Rin asked.
"I don't know much in detail, but they're coming tomorrow." Mayumi smiled. "They're both coming to our class."
"Both of them…?" Kaede asked, a look of uncertain astonishment on her face.
"Our school has transfer students often, but for this time of year, it must mean they're from different worlds, right…?" Kire asked.
"I'm pretty sure they are…" Mayumi agreed.
"But isn't it strange to have two transfer students at the same time, in the same class?" Rin thought aloud.
"Yeah…it's strange." Mayumi nodded.
"Perhaps they both have a crush on someone in this class, and persuaded the school to let them be together…" Kaede suggested.
"That only happens in anime and manga." Kire said, waving her opinion off.
"He's right." Mayumi said. "It's not like we're living in some eroge."
"That's true…" Kaede agreed.
"I wanted to ignore him, but he's starting to get on my nerves…" Rin sighed. "What is it, Itsuki? You're grinning like an idiot."
"If you guys are trying to keep me away from them, that means at least one of them is a girl." He said with a smile. "I'm starting to get excited! Encountering a new lady is always full of joy and happiness. According to my instinct, I think she's going to be a top-class lady."
"What instinct…?" Rin asked. As he sighed, the door swung open.
"It's time for homeroom, guys! Butts in seats!" The students hurried to their chairs as Nadeshiko walked in. Another day had begun at Verbena Academy.
"In other words, the doors to the other worlds have opened several times in the past, before the opening ten years ago. This is said to be an explanation for many mysterious disappearances. That's how the Humans traveled to the other worlds, and left their descendants. We have an example of this in this class, as you all know." Nadeshiko stopped her lecturing to look at Mayumi, who gave her the "V" sign.
Some Humans had entered the world of the Demons before the Openings. Mayumi was the child of a Human and a Demon. However, her Human blood dominated her Demonic blood, so she couldn't use any magic.
"Three years after the openings, the doors were closed temporarily, due to the magic balance of this world going out of control. If they hadn't closed the doors at that time, they could've lost control of regulating the magical power, and a horrible disaster could have occurred." Kire lowered his head, clenching his pencil so hard that his knuckles were turning white.
"After careful experimentation, the doors were opened again last December. It was a pretty big festivity, so I'm sure all of you remember it, right? Since the last opening, the three worlds are now permanently connected. However, the issue of magical power still persists. We still need to pay close attention.
"Anyway, this is the history of the doors that connect our three worlds. This is common knowledge, so make sure you remember it. If you miss this question on the exam, I'll make you hop around the track while carrying barbells." As Nadeshiko closed her textbook, the bell rang. "That's it for today. Eat your lunch and prepare for your afternoon classes." She then began walking out of the classroom. However, she stopped suddenly.
"Hey, Tsucchie. You probably brought the lunch that Fuyoh made for you, so you don't have to rush to the cafeteria, right?" She addressed Rin with a slightly concerned look on her face. "Come with me real quick."
"You need me?" Rin curiously followed her out of the classroom. "What do you need me for?"
"Well, it's not a big deal, but… Did you ever encounter a girl from a different world when you were little?" She asked, seemingly out of the blue. Rin was confused. "I mean… I just wanted to make sure." Her face suddenly changed, and she seemed very serious. "So, have you met any, or not?"
"I don't remember anything like that in my childhood. I don't think I was even aware of different worlds and stuff…" Rin replied, grasping for an answer.
"I see… What can you do, huh?" She sighed.
"Is there something going on?" Rin asked.
"Well… like I said, it's not a big deal… I think."
"It's unusual for you to be uncertain like this."
"Well, I've been having some headaches lately… Anyways, that's all I can say to you for now." She made a serious face and tapped Rin's shoulder with her hand. "Good luck."
"Huh?" was the only word that came out of Rin's mouth.
"Affairs of love are the symbol of youth. It's an unenviable path you take. So don't give up. I'll support you as much as I can." Her serious look was scaring Rin. He wondered what the hell happened that could have sparked this conversation.
"Listen to me. Be tough, all right? Be tough and survive. Don't give up your hopes." She left him in the hallway with those words.
"…Um… what do I have to be so tough about?" Rin muttered to himself, walking back to the classroom where everyone was waiting.
School was finally over, and the time of freedom had at last arrived. Rin picked up his empty school bag and walked over to Kaede's seat. "Hey, Kaede." Rin said, causing Kaede to look up at him.
"Hi, Rin-kun. Long day, huh?" She smiled up at him.
"You mentioned that we're out of rice." Rin recalled the conversation from breakfast. "Are you going to the supermarket?" He'd done a big grocery trip yesterday, but he would never have guessed that they were out of rice. He felt bad that she'd have to go out shopping because he'd forgotten.
"Yes." She nodded. "So you can go home ahead of me today."
"I'm coming with you. Rice is too heavy for you to be carrying." As expected, she shook her head.
"It's okay. I'm pretty strong for a girl." She half-heartedly flexed, trying to make her thin biceps stand out.
"That's good to hear, but I've got strength to spare. I need to use it, or I'm going to go wild. Besides, Asa-senpai just told me to work out this morning. So I'm coming with you to carry the stuff."
"No, you can't." Kaede refused. "Working hard for you is the meaning of my life. I wouldn't be able to forgive myself for making you carry a heavy load." She puffed out her cheek in a defiant manner, replying with her usual line. Rin didn't want to compromise, because he didn't want her to go alone. Fortunately, Kire had a line ready for an occasion such as this.
"Then, how about Rin carries you in his arms while you carry the rice?" he suggested, raising a finger to accent his point. "That way, you'd be carrying the heavy load." It took a second for the idea to register in Kaede's mind, but she immediately became flushed and embarrassed.
"…What? What? Whaaaat? Um… What do you mean by that…?"
"We have a deal now." Rin took up Kire's idea and ran with it. "You carry the rice, and I'll carry you. I don't have a choice if you're not letting me carry the bag." Kaede turned red and started thinking. Rin and Kire exchanged signs of victory. They were sure Kaede was getting ready to concede.
She was always doing everything in the house, so they wanted to try to help her when they could. Kire had a part-time job at the CD store in the shopping district, so he had an excuse. Rin, however, being a freeloader, wanted to try to make her life a little easier. Several seconds passed before Kaede made up her mind and looked back at Rin with a red face.
"O…okay. We have a deal."
There was a long silence.
"What!" Rin and Kire chorused. What an unexpected answer!
"Umm…Kaede…"Rin replied, unbelieving.
"Let's go, Rin-kun!" Kaede smiled happily, picking up her bag and heading outside.
"Are you up, Rin-kun?" Rin was lying on his bed, reading a magazine. He put it down by the bedside as he heard Kaede's voice from the door.
"Yeah, I'm still up."
"Excuse me…" Kaede had just gotten out of the bath. He could still smell the scent of soap from her steamy skin. Itsuki would have jumped on her if he was here. Rin made a mental note to never allow him to spend the night at this house.
"What's the matter? Is something wrong?"
"No. I just wanted to tell you that the bathroom is all yours now."
"You took your bath kind of late tonight." Rin said as he looked at the clock. It was already past midnight.
"Well, Kire reminded me that the math assignment is due tomorrow."
"I finally finished it up not too long ago."
"Our math teacher is Matsushima-sensei, right…? That teacher who likes giving us extra lessons…"
"Yes." Kaede's expression immediately became sad. "I believe we're getting a week of extra lessons if we forget this assignment."
"One week…" A death toll sounded in Rin's head. "That sounds right… After all, it's Matsushima… Kaede… I have a favor to ask…"
"That's what I thought, so I brought this for you." She handed him a notebook with a goddess-like smile. The only thing Rin knew was that he needed that notebook desperately.
"I'm glad I have such a kind childhood friend." Rin jumped up from his bed and embraced her tightly.
"What's going on, Rin-kun?" She hurriedly asked, a blush staining her cheeks.
"I'm just emotional with joy. Don't worry."
"You're being emotional, huh? Then I guess it can't be helped…" Rin wasn't sure what she meant by that, but he guessed she was fine with his action. She closed her eyes joyfully and accepted the hug. Itsuki would have killed Rin if he'd seen them like this. Rin doubly-noted that he must never let Itsuki into the house.
Another one bites the dust! This time, we see the introduction of the OC. I guess his story didn't matter in the grand scheme of things.
Reads are great, reviews are better! See you next time!