Disclaimer: I do not own Mai HiME in any way, shape, or form.
The first draft of this idea actually came to me a little while back when I was watching Saving Face. You know, that scene where Vivian was describing the first time that she and Wil met. It went a little something like this...
You were 9, I was 8. The Wong boys were teasing me about my parent's divorce. And you beat the crap out of them. You spilled your mom's groceries... we scooped them back into the bag...
Yeah... something like that. I don't really remember exactly, but it's close enough that you get the idea. So anyway, at first, it was going to be something like that, but as I modified it and modified it to make sense in the shiznat world, it morphed into... this.
"Don't go too far, Natsuki!" Saeko yelled as she watched her daughter dash to the jungle gym.
She let out a soft sigh when her 6 year old daughter replied with an enthusiastic 'okay, mom!', but still continued to dash further away. Saeko stood up from the bench she was sitting on and moved to a different spot so that she could see her daughter better. Unfortunately, the bench situated in that angle was already taken by another couple, so she opted to lean back against a tree nearby.
She watched her daughter interact with a few boys around her age before stomping her feet and climbing the monkey bars. The fluid motion in which her little girl moved from one bar to the next made it seem like an easy sport. But Saeko knew, from her own childhood experiences, that it was far from easy. When her daughter reached the floor again, she walked over to the boys she was talking to earlier, stuck her tongue at them, and proceeded to run away. They chased after her, but Saeko was not worried because she saw the tell-tale smile on her daughter's lips as she dodged the boy's attempts at tagging her with ease.
Her attention was broken away from her little girl when the couple on the bench turned around and called out to her.
"Excuse me. If you don't mind, you can sit with us," the woman offered, scooting closer to her husband as she said this.
"Oh, thank you very much," she replied as she took the offered seat. "Are you here to watch over your kids as well?"
"Ara, yes," the woman answered, pointing to a little girl with tawny-colored hair and ruby eyes. "Our daughter, Shizuru."
Saeko searched for her daughter to make sure she was alright before following the woman's line of sight to Shizuru. She noticed the little girl was off to the side, picking the flowers growing on the grass.
"Where are her friends?" Saeko asked.
"Shizuru's only other friend isn't here today," the man replied this time, surprisingly the blue-haired woman. "Because she's sick right now. She wanted to come here and find something to give to her, as a get well present."
"That's very sweet of her," the blunette said, scanning the crowds once more for her own daughter, before pointing. "That's Natsuki, my daughter."
"She's very energetic," he mused.
"She is. I don't know where she gets it from. When I was her age, I was calm. Very much like your Shizuru."
"Must be from her father, then."
"Probably," Saeko replied, before realizing her misplaced manners. She held her hand out and proceeded to introduce herself. "My name is Saeko, by the way. Saeko Kuga."
"Ryou Fujino," the man replied, shaking her hand first.
"Himeko Fujino," the woman followed suit. "It's nice to meet you. Is your husband with you today?"
"My husband... is no longer with us," Saeko answered, a bit uncomfortably.
"Ara, I'm so sorry to hear that," Himeko apologized.
"No need to apologize, Fujino-san. Ever since my husband... left us, Natsuki has been doing her very best to fill the void. She's always telling me how she will take her papa's place and protect me from all the mean things in the world when she grows up."
"Call me Himeko. And my husband Ryou. There is no need to be so formal."
"Ah, then by all means, please call me Saeko."
"Your Natsuki is very sweet," Himeko commented.
"And cute," Saeko replied with a chuckle. "Though she doesn't like being told that. She claims that being cute demeans her toughness, and so she refuses to be cute. She prefers cool."
"Ara, our Shizuru is not as sociable as your Natsuki, it seems," Himeko replied as she looked between the two children. Natsuki was still playing tag with the boys from earlier, while Shizuru continued to pick wild flowers for her mini-bouquet. "She's not as energetic as the other children and always prefers to stay inside. If it wasn't for her friend Haruka, I don't think she'd ever voluntarily come to a park."
"She seems very well-mannered, not at all like my Natsuki," Saeko said as she watched the small child wave to her parents. "She acknowledges your presence, while Natsuki forgets that I'm even here whenever she starts playing."
"Indeed she is very well-mannered, but it is because of that, that she and her classmates do not seem to get along very well. As I've mentioned before, Shizuru really only has one friend," Himeko sighed. "It worries me."
"But I bet she'll grow up to be a heartbreaker."
"I could say the same about your Natsuki."
Saeko was shocked when Himeko suddenly stood up from her seat, but when she saw two little boys forcefully grabbing the flowers that Shizuru painstakingly picked, she understood why. She was about to follow her new friend to rescue Shizuru until she saw a flash of blue zoom across the park.
"Himeko!" Saeko yelled out as she stopped the worried mother from advancing any further.
Himeko spun around, confused as to why the blue-haired woman stopped her. "My daughter is in trouble, Saeko!"
"I know, but look," she replied, pointing at the direction of where Shizuru was.
Himeko turned her attention to the scene, where she found Natsuki standing between Shizuru and the two bullies. A very angry glare graced her features as she stood with one foot in front of the other, fists tightly clenched together. A few exchanges of words were made before the one of the boys advanced on Natsuki.
"Your daughter is going to get hurt. Aren't you worried?" Himeko asked, not taking her eyes off of their children.
"I'm more worried for the boys, actually. I am not looking forward to explaining to their parents that their adorable little boys were the ones who picked a fight with a girl. And lost," Saeko sighed.
And true to her word, Himeko witnessed Natsuki dodging all the sloppy punches that the boys threw. It was a two against one fight, but Natsuki managed to juggle her attention between her two opponents. When she punched one boy, she had to immediately dodge the attack of the other. One of the boys successfully tripped Natsuki, causing the small girl to fall and scrape her knee. However, instead of crying like they expected her to, Natsuki stood right back on her feet and threw angry punches in their way. That was when the fight really grew one-sided.
After the boys scrambled away from the little blunette, Natsuki turned around to talk to Shizuru. The blue-haired girl extended her hand to help the small brunette girl to her feet, which the ruby-eyed girl gladly accepted. Natsuki continued to ask Shizuru a few questions, to which Shizuru nodded. Then, Natsuki grabbed Shizuru's small hand into hers and began leading her towards her parents.
"I am very thankful that your Natsuki saved Shizuru, but why didn't you let me? Natsuki wouldn't have gotten hurt if I stepped in," Himeko asked.
"But Shizuru's reputation would have," Saeko replied. "Kid politics. Besides, you can't protect Shizuru when she is bullied in school. And now she has Natsuki as her friend. I think it worked out fine."
"But your child is hurt."
"Natsuki is a very rowdy girl. Scrapes and bruises do not faze her at all. I worry more about her injuries than she does."
"Mother," a meek voice called out, causing the adult's attention to shift downwards. "The boys took my flowers and ripped them up. I wanted to give them to Haruka-chan..."
"I beat them up though, mama. And I made them say sorry to Shizuru," Natsuki said with a grin.
"That was very nice of you, Natsuki. Thank you for saving Shizuru," Himeko replied, patting her little girl on the head.
"Uh huh. Shizuru is my new friend, but she's really shy. And she talks kind of funny. But it sounds nice."
Saeko turned her attention to Himeko. "I'm sorry for Natsuki's rudeness. She's a very straightforward girl."
"Ara, no. It's adorable."
"I'm not adorable!" Natsuki declared.
"Say she's cool," Saeko whispered to Himeko.
"Hai hai, Natsuki. You are cool," the other woman amended.
A smile quickly spread through Natsuki's face. "Of course. Can I be your daughter's friend?"
"Didn't you already declare her as your friend?" Saeko asked, amused that her daughter is actually asking permission for a friendship.
"Shizuru is my friend, but Shizuru said that I have to ask her parents to be her friend. She said it's not official until I get permission. So I'm asking because I want to be Shizuru's friend too."
"Of course you can, Natsuki. But you have to promise me that you'll protect her from all those mean bullies," Ryou answered, which alerted everyone else of his presence.
"Oh, honey," Himeko replied in semi-shock. "I didn't even realize you were here. I thought you were still on the bench."
"Not when my daughter is being bullied. I left with you, but I guess you didn't notice," he chuckled.
"I promise!" Natsuki proclaimed, gathering the attention of the adults once more before facing Shizuru. "You hear that, Shizuru? We're friends! So if anyone ever bullies you, you tell me and I will beat them up for you."
"Now now, Natsuki," Saeko said in her authoritative tone. "You know how I feel about violence."
"I know, mama, but they deserve it for hurting Shizuru."
"No more violence, you hear me?"
"Yes, mama," the child replied dejectedly. "But if it is the only way I can save Shizuru, can I fight then?"
"If it is the only way. But if I find out it's not, you will be in big trouble. You hear me?"
"Right there, mom!" a little boy cried out as he pointed at Natsuki.
This caught Saeko's attention as she now recognized the boy as one of the bullies from earlier. A small sigh escaped her lips as she stood still and waited for his mom to reach her.
"Hi, are you the mother of this child?" she asked, pointing to Natsuki.
Saeko watched as Shizuru hid behind Natsuki, who gladly stepped between her and the boy again. She held her arms out protectively with a small glare fixed in her expression.
"Yes, I am. Is there something I can help you with?" Saeko replied.
"Can you please talk to your daughter about violence? I don't appreciate my little boy crying to me with bruises all over his body after another child picked a fight with him."
"Did you see my child pick a fight with your child? Or is that just what he told you?" the blue-haired woman replied.
"Are you saying that my child lied to me?"
"That would depend on what he told you. But I can tell you with 100% certainty that my child did not pick a fight with your child. I watched the whole thing unfold."
"And I have the whole thing on video," Ryou injected, surprisingly everyone when he held out his phone. "From beginning to end. Would you like to see?"
At this, the little boy started to pull at his mother, whispering for her to just leave and that he didn't want trouble. However, Ryou insisted that both mothers watch the video together, to clear up any misunderstandings that might be present. And so, in spite of the little boy's effort to pull his mom away, she stayed and watched the video of her son bullying Shizuru and picking a fight with Natsuki because she stuck up for the brunette.
"Ara, I hope that clears up any misunderstandings," Himeko said at the end of the video.
"I'm very sorry for what my son did to your daughter," she apologized to Himeko. "And I'm sorry for accusing your daughter of picking a fight with my son," she said to Saeko. "I will be sure to let his father know about this and we will discipline our son accordingly. Apologize to them both, Nagi."
"But mom..." he whined.
"I said apologize, young man. You are in a lot of trouble as is."
"I'm sorry," he bowed deeply.
"Have a good day," the woman said with a small bow before leaving with her son.
"Well, I'm glad that's cleared up," Ryou said as he pocketed his phone.
"You recorded a video of our daughter getting bullied?" Himeko asked, semi-angry.
"You were running to her rescue, so I thought I'd have evidence in case something happens," he replied defensively.
"And good thing you did. That would not have gone as smoothly without it," Saeko injected.
"Mama, can Shizuru come over and play?" Natsuki asked, tugging onto her mother's shirt.
"Of course she can, but not today. We have to go visit Mai's family, remember?"
"Oh yeah!" Natsuki replied before turning her attention to Shizuru. "You should come over some other time. And you could meet Mai and Nao and Mikoto. They're my other friends and they are really nice. Except Nao. She's kind of annoying. But she won't hurt you. And Mai always act so grown up. So I think you will get along with her really well."
"It's time to go, Natsuki. Or we'll be late. Say goodbye to Shizuru," Saeko announced before turning her attention to Fujinos. She extricated a card from her pocket and handed it to them. "Here's my contact information. We should keep in touch and arrange a playdate for the two of them."
"Ara, thank you. I will give you a call then," Himeko said as she accepted the card.
"It was great meeting you."
"I'll see you around, okay?" Natsuki asked. "And then we could do all sorts of fun things like play tag or see who can jump higher and stuff."
"Okay, Natsuki," Shizuru replied.
"You can let go of my hand now."
"Ara, I'm sorry," the brunette replied as she immediately released her new friend.
"Okay, I'll see you around," Natsuki said one last time as she grabbed her mother's hand and began to leave.
"I like her, mama," Natsuki said once they were out of earshot. "She smells nice. And I like the way she talks. And her eyes are really cool. But she's very quiet and I want to see her less quiet. I think that's why the boys bothered her."
"Will you stop playing with her if she never changes?"
"No, I will just be around her more to make sure that stupid boys won't bully her."
"That's my Natsuki."
"Mm!" the little girl grinned. "I can't wait to tell Mai about her."
"Mother?" Shizuru said as soon as her new friend was out of sight.
"When I grow up, I want to marry Natsuki."
"Oh? Why is that?"
"Because I didn't want to let go of her hand. If I marry her, I will never have to let go. Just like you and daddy," Shizuru replied, glancing at her parent's intertwined hands.
So? Whatcha guys think? It's been a while since I wrote any ShizNat and this just kinda came to me. Anyway, please review! Much appreciated!
Oh yeah. In terms of updates go for my other fics... we'll see. I try to update Entangled on a monthly schedule. And I think I'm doing alright so far. As for the ASoCIF, that's a bit more sporadic. I'm trying my hand at a dark K-ON! fic, but I'm really debating on whether or not I should continue. Or if I should just scrape it. XD