Rules based on what I've seen around.
Write something for each theme given.
Simple right? Well... Given I don't have the time to actually write 100 whole flipping drabbles. There's nothing wrong with excerpts in which the reader can choose which stories (theme numbers) can be used. I'm using this from the original list of themes by 100ThemeWriters on deviantart. But based on a Dennor 100 themes I've seen, they did excerpts as well :D All the more grandiose for me! So if you'd like a continuation oneshot, review the numbers, just don't say all of them please -_- They'll be added as new chapters so you don't have to go stalking the interwebs for it~
And so we begin, Acchi Kocchi's 100 Themes IoTsu Challenge. May you enjoy the excerpts; I apologize for it being out of order.
62. Irregular Orbit
In her world, he was the sun, but she kept getting knocked off track by everyone else. In his world, everyone was equal, all on the same circular path equidistant from each other, oh but she, she was on a completely different orbital altogether. She was here and there and to and fro and close and far, all at the same time, she was the one he couldn't bear to keep chained, but the one he couldn't let go of.
"Yes, Tsumiki?" The one person he couldn't reach for. The one person hurtling his direction and missing by a fraction because he didn't know. But she kept looping back, because something was pulling her towards him. She was his pendulum.
"... It's nothing." Because he will never look at me, if I'm stuck on this fast track to nowhere.
12. Dead Wrong
"Tsumiki! Are you alright? You're not hurt are you?" His worried gaze focused in her view, words kept tumbling out of his mouth as her hearing flickered in and out, much like the light before her was.
"Oh wait... That's just me closing my eyes... Sleeping sounds nice..." She let out a long sigh and fell silent.
"TSUMIKI!" Io yelled, an abnormal outcry, even for him, kneeling beside her on the grassy hill she had just tumbled down, now worrying he'd lose his closest friend to death.
She breathed in softly, breathed out just as quietly, though labored, with her cheeks flushed.
"Fever...?" He muttered while feeling her forehead temperature by placing his own on hers.
81. A Place to Belong
During the cold winter months when they arrived in the classroom to find the heater broken because their teacher had tripped over it again, she always found refuge within his coat. It was always worth forgetting her jacket at home. The kind warmth was comforting, and he didn't mind keeping her warm either. They melded together pretty well despite the height differences.
As a child, Io had always been wary about people around him. His grandparents disappeared, gone, into the ground but up in the sky, his mother told him carefully. To this day he worried internally over the lives of his friend. There was fun to be had and ideas to be shared. And people to live for.
"It's nothing." He smiled kindly at her and rubbed her head as he always did.
It was a game now. Tsumiki shook her head, such childish thoughts. Yet still she'd tug on his sleeve, or poke his arm. She was in college now for goodness sake! She should have courage and tell him! Ask him! "Maybe a drink might help me confess! But... I get drunk on carbonated drinks and bite his head..." Confessing was never simple, but simply being by him, that was simple enough for her. A guilty pleasure based on just seeing him.
44. At Peace
College. Such an odd place. She followed Io as she did years before. And he was still one of her closest friends. With Mayoi and Sakaki pursuing their own interests at a university hours away, and Hime striving to be a chef under the tutelage of her boss, Sakaki's sister, Tsumiki was a little lonely. She missed the days when she'd have lunch with them all, joking and teasing and laughing. Their relationship had gotten closer, to the point that they were holding hands. But he was still dense, and she was still a tsundere. Yet as she sat in his lap in the library (since there were no available seats, and he had the only copy of a book they'd been looking for), she couldn't help but feel calm, burning cheeks mind you, but calm. She could fall asleep without worry in his arms, everything was just fine...
"Hey Io! Come 'ere. I need you to take this test." Sakaki called to him just moments after they finished cleaning and closing up for the night at Hotch Potch.
He walked out, finishing buttoning the top of his shirt. "Take what?"
"This test!" Sakaki sat him down and handed him a pencil all the while covertly covering the title of the quiz.
1. Do you smile naturally at...
c. it depends on the person
d. a particular pers-
"Sakaki, am I taking a personality quiz?" Io deadpanned; annoyed that he was taking such a thing.
"Sure! Just finish it, ok? I'll do it after you if it makes you feel better." Sakaki tried to comfort his friend somehow, just to make sure he'd finish and total up the answers. Everyone wanted to know if he was capable of loving someone, a particular someone.
So she was rather height challenged, that's what Io was for! Mind you, Tsumiki did grow a few inches more by the end of high school, which put her at a smidge below Mayoi, but despite her shortness, Io was still the yin to her yang, and grew a few more inches as well. She still clung to him much like a kitten afraid to leave its den. Only in this case, she wanted him to be hers. But... What was she to him? If he was her crush, her rock, her everything, then what could she possibly be to him? To a boy -no, a young man who was an unknowing Casanova? Maybe... Maybe she was questioning the challenges life threw at her, and maybe, Io was one of those challenges...
A thought popped into her head. They were only a few months into their first year of college, Tsumiki was still following Io, but she really did want to go to this university from even before she met him. The first day she put her plan in motion, he was out sick. The following week when he was healthy and well, she went running around the corner, racing after him to catch up. He was gone; off to work most likely, by the time she reached the outskirts of the campus. Day after day, something interceded, and day after day, she felt her confidence dwindling. Mayoi was no longer there to cause interactions between them...
39. Out of Time
Tsumiki watched as a girl approached Io. Laughing and talking with him. She was glued to the spot by the classroom window. She couldn't keep clinging to him forever in an effort to remove him from the market of prey for other girls. Her presence near him did nothing. She sighed depressively, in near tears, when Io blushed momentarily, but offered the girl his arm and led her off of the campus.
52. Stirring of the Wind
It was a beautiful afternoon, cool yet comfortable warmth washing over with the soft wind blowing by. Today was the day. Today she'd give up, she'd go down in flames, or she'd be the happiest girl on earth.
"Io..." She tugged on his sleeve, shy but determined.
"Hmm?" He turned to face her, stopping entirely, giving her his full attention.
"Can I tell you something?" The cherry blossoms started falling with a strong gust of a surprisingly gentle wind; it blew her hair in front of her face as she mouthed three syllables. The soft sound floated up to his ears, and his eyes went wide.
It was rare to see Io without Tsumiki, even rarer to see that he wasn't even at school. The group later paid a visit to his apartment, surprised when he opened the door before they even knocked, shocked to see he was only wearing sweat pants. With Hime and Tsumiki as successful bloody KO's, Mayoi was a close follow up and Sakaki was questioning Io's objectives. Waking up on the floor of his room beside his friends was not exactly how he wanted to start the day, particularly with that dream now seared in his mind.
90. Nowhere and Nothing
Awaking in absolute darkness, Io furrowed his brow, confused as to the lack of natural light shining in, if not the light of the streetlamp outside. He couldn't even see his hand in front of his face. He was sitting on a chair, based on what he could gather. Maybe it was the fact that he hadn't been sleeping well these last few nights, or maybe it was the stress of work, but he began to panic. Where was he? Where was she? Why was everything not making sense? The soft creaking of the door opened and a dim light began to seep in.
"Late night working again? You covered the blinds and closed the door..." That's right, he was in the office. He was typing up a draft... That bothersome light outside kept glaring on his glasses and prevented him from working .Then the battery died and he fell asleep waiting for it to charge. She set a still steaming cup of coffee on his desk before fixing his ruffled hair from the few hours sleeping on the now dead laptop; the cord had never been plugged in. His wife's shoulder was far more comfortable than a desk.
Otonashi Io had crossed lines, lines that should be crossed, but cautiously. He had encroached upon the cat's territory without warning. But he was let in. A wide entrance only he could see. If only he looked. He'd finally be aware of love. He'd finally be aware of that one girl amongst many. He would find the end of his red string, if he crossed one final line. His own.
"Sakaki, what are you doing with Tsumiki...?" Io asked dangerously after catching his best friend pick up the girl like a sack of potatoes and walking out the front door of Mayoi and Sakaki's shared apartment cackling evilly.
"Nothing!" Mayoi shouted, racing past and catching Tsumiki who was thrown to her by him. Io's eyes flicked towards Mayoi who ran down the hall and down the stairs.
Hime ran by as well, worried for her friends before turning to face him and honestly tell him, "It's complicated. Really hard to explain, I'M SORRY!" She cried. He looked taken aback, surprised that Hime had been roped into all this.
Staring wide-eyed at the thin cylindrical thing in front of her, presented to her really, she nearly passed out. They'd come a long way, friends, and getting closer and closer, relationships, dating... And now... Tsumiki glanced up at her best friend, her boyfriend, in shock. The surprise on her face was ridiculous, it made her laugh, falling to her knees beside him after seeing her reaction on the faint reflection from his glasses. He was just as speechless, wondering why she was laughing. Was it too cheesy? Troubled thoughts raced across his mind before she looked up smiling and reached her arms around him, hugging him close.
Io stared at a thick cord. Was he dreaming? It was a completely white world. No surroundings, just endless white, the only thing that showed it was endless, was the long, and nearly a foot thick, cord that he was sitting beside.
"What is this...?" He placed a cautious hand on it and his head filled with blurry images. Looking up once more he saw thinner cords ways away. He pressed both hands on it and focused on the first thing that came to mind. "Tsumiki...?" The blue hair was a dead give-away. Suddenly the other cords were closer; he pressed a hand to another. "Sakaki?" He didn't feel as warm and endlessly happy like when he touched the one that showed memories of Tsumiki. "Oh... I understand." The cords were the bonds between himself and his friends. In a white endless world surrounded by memories that were compacted together, he smiled. They weren't going to break that easily. It would take years to crack Tsumiki's, not, that he ever would do so willingly.
At the end of every day, he always looked forward to coming home. Maybe it was because he finally got a break from all the people that were slacking off or just not doing their job.
"I'm home, Tsumiki." Maybe it was because he always came home to someone he loved dearly.
"Welcome back, dinner will be ready in a little bit." She stepped out from the kitchen, their two children peeking out from behind her legs before running towards him happily, telling him of their day excitedly.
Or maybe, it was the fact that he could easily fall asleep in her lap without a worry or a care in the world and he could let his tiredness from the day seep away.
15. Seeking Solace
Their days fell back into their usual ways, he would talk with her as they did in high school, she would blush at his sudden romantic saying, and the world kept moving.
"Io... Can I stay with you tonight? To study I mean. I remember you offered me you notes for when I was out sick a week and a half ago." It was a brave question. Something she'd practiced for a week before asking. But it was all an excuse. She just wanted to be with him enough so she could calm down her frantic brain after all the shock she'd been through.
Neko-chan has logged in.
Mad Mechanic has logged in.
Mad Mechanic: Yo! Tsumiki!
Neko-chan: Mayoi. This is an online game. Use the username.
Mad Mechanic: Hai hai! But still, I found this really great quest we could go on! W/ your magic skills we'd beat it EASY.
Neko-chan: Fine. But don't get yourself killed this time.
Sexiestmanalive has logged in.
Mad Mechanic: Yo~ Sakaki, you got my PM?
Neko-chan: Usernames. Please. I didn't need that mental image.
Sexiestmanalive: Just a few minutes ago. Ready?
Mad Mechanic: Yep! Let's go find the great—wait. We're missing someone.
Neko-chan: -gives up- This is a full party Mayoi
Tsumiki pulled away from the computer to rub her eyes, she'd gotten roped into this ridiculous game hours ago by Mayoi and hadn't been able to stop. She glanced at the chat screen inside the game window, ready to go battle some more monsters because the game actually wasn't that bad.
Loverboy has logged in.
Loverboy: Sakaki, I'm never letting you have free reign of what to have as a username again. It was a mistake to trust you.
Mad Mechanic: Hellooo Iooo-saaaan
A quick grab for the tissue box beside her saved her computer screen from becoming painted with blood.
Every year on white day, she'd receive a small cat face with her present from Io. From high school until now, when she was married to him (she still couldn't believe it, but it had only been three months) she'd kept them in a special box. They were hers to keep track of all the years. The black one was from sophomore year in high school, when Sakaki was in a different class from everyone else. The white one was from junior year, when she and Io were in the same class but everyone else had been split. She went through them all, only stopping because there was a missing one. Where was the one from freshman year? The first one she'd ever gotten. An oddly colored purple cat face dangled in front of her face.
"Lose this?" He smiled cheekily. The smiles he gave her ranged to different emotions, and she was the only one who could see them all. All for her.
Masumi and Shuichi had an awful habit of picking out the box from the bottom drawer in which she kept her White Day cats from Io. Once they started asking what happened during the year each was given she couldn't help but smile and tell them it was a bedtime story for that night. Tsumiki kept her promise, but made sure Io was elsewhere; her cheeks would turn a delightful color if he were in the room while she explained. She toned down some of things that happened, no use in giving little Haru anymore ideas from her own side of the family, Mayoi and Sakaki would educate Haru of their high school adventures how they wanted.
"Oh. You'd like to hear about the little gray cat?" The twins nodded fervently. "Well this was year was when..."
26. Forever and a Day
To think, that Io had finally realized he loved Tsumiki one and a half months into the horror that was the girl, when really he'd loved her since high school. Was it really only two years ago that he was with Sakaki and them all, a completely dense idiot? It felt like yesterday that he was keeping Sakaki from hitting on too many girls or stopping Mayoi from "improving" electronics in the class. But it felt like forever and a day when she had last talked to him as she once did. It felt like eons ago since he last patted her head. And it felt like an endless amount of time had passed since he'd seen her small hesitant smile meant only for him.
86. Picking up the Pieces
"Mayoi, wait before yo-" Io started
The girl cackled madly before letting her confetti gun loose upon the world.
"Mayoi..." Tsumiki growled from beneath the growing pile of tissue paper. "You know we have to pick all this up... Right?" The orange haired girl shuddered at the cold seeping through the air.
"Whoops, I forgot my mom asked me to run some errands~! See ya!"
Tsumiki and Io sighed, expecting this to have happened as she raced out of the room. He walked over to her and pulled her from the pile on a whim and held her much like he would a princess. She colored and gave him a questioning look, trying not to be her tsundere self.
"You looked like you were going to disappear under it all." He stated simply, unable to explain that she looked like a cat pawing her way through paper. It was cute.
66. Dangerous Territory
Tsumiki was rarely ever mad these days, only showing a flare of her cold aura when need be around Sakaki and Mayoi with their incessant teasing. It was near impossible for her to be angry at Io. But the moment somebody brought up their college days and "that one girl that clung to Io like glue for two months," all hell broke loose.
"Tsumiki, it was never like that!" He'd always argue afterwards. A strong silence would always answer him. "She was never you. And I'm glad I came to my sense before anything bad happened." Those were the magic words. But it didn't stop her from making him sleep on the couch for the first few hours or so before she padded out with a bunch of pillows and blankets.
The campfire was dimming, its embers dying, winking out as it breathed its last breath.
"Io...?" Tsumiki softly asked. It was of no use he was sleeping while sitting up. Or he might have just fallen asleep. Hime was already in her sleeping bag and Mayoi was cackling with Sakaki about some more plans. Gently, she poked him and his eyes sprung open.
"Tsumiki?" His tone was tired but rather happy.
"You fell asleep while sitting up."
"You can sleep on my lap if you want. I'm no-" He'd already started swaying; obviously the lack of sleep from studying for tests over the week was catching up. He didn't even hear her last statement before her closed his eyes again feeling the world rush towards him. But he never hit it; she caught his head in her lap without realizing she was the perfect distance from him. Her cheeks were alight with the sudden rush of blood.
56. Everything For You
There was one thing that he would never tell her. Ever. The first time he met her parents when she brought him home with her, they were ridiculously wary. Mayoi, being the ever annoying person, had told Tsumiki's parents that their daughter was in love with a dense boy who could drive every woman to a nosebleed. They did get used to his presence. But one day he came by on his own when Tsumiki was taking an elective class on campus.
"I'd like to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage." He began carefully after exchanging pleasantries.
They looked at each other quickly before asking one thing.
"Are you willing to give up everything to be with her?"
"She is my everything."
With Io's birthday coming up, Tsumiki couldn't help but panic. She didn't know what to get him. Or what to do. Her mind was in shambles. Calling Mayoi didn't help, such odd things in that girl's mind. Hime offered what she'd already considered and nixed.
"I'll think of something. Eventually. Hopefully." Then the day finally arrived.
"I'm hom- Tsumiki...?" There was complete darkness. No lights were on, not even the digital clocks were displaying their neon yellow digits. Suddenly the lights switched on. Tsumiki stood in the entrance's short hallway, just a yard and a half from where he stood.
"Surprise~!" She sang softly, shly holding a simple vanilla cake with 'happy birthday' written in icing. He smiled widely before following her to the table where Sakaki, Mayoi and Hime patiently (or not so patiently in certain cases) waited.
Sherlock Holmes once said in a long and vocabulary littered quote that everything can be explained, and if not possible, despite the evidence being shown, it can still be explained. What Io could never figure out, is what caused him to react so oddly to Tsumiki. Around everyone else it was a simple happiness. But when Tsumiki was conversing with him, or he was petting her head, his heart felt like it'd burst and he felt constant temperature changes. To say he was confused was an understatement, to other people, to say he was in love, was impossible to even debate.
It was impossible to face her, really, undeniably, ridiculously hard and most certainly not possible to even look at her. Not after what that crazy fortune teller on the way to school had shouted out to him. Sure, he'd been slowly becoming aware of his own feelings. But that he'd be married to her? The thought was absurd; she didn't look at him as more than a close friend! Or... His face became uncharacteristically red at the mere thought. Maybe it was a mistake, but he was calling Sakaki down to his house, and they were going to see that absurdity and impracticality of nature itself. Hopefully he'd get a laugh out of the prediction for Sakaki.
63. Cold Embrace
Io loved hugging the small girl, but the hug he gave was never a 'hug' it was patting her on the head. It was cold out, ridiculously so, and she really did forget her jacket. Poor Tsumiki was shivering violently beside him. He couldn't help it. Picking her up easily, he held her close. Her skin was frozen to him and hurried to warm her in any way (logically and as gentlemanly) possible, but to her, she was burning inside out. That was how the two arrived at the school, she curled up close to him, and he hurrying to get her inside before she suffered from hypothermia.
Io was an unbelievably patient man, Tsumiki just as much. But their friends were lacking in that department. As were their children.
"Mom, can I go play at Aunty Mayoi and Uncle Sakaki's place?" Masumi asked, tugging on her sleeve much like she had done years ago to Io back in school. "I haven't seen Haru in foreeeeverrrrr."
"I'm fine with not going." Her other child Shuichi, huffed, having inherited his mother's tsundereness. She on the other hand, had slowly outgrown it, no longer reacting so violently and opposite as she once did. Mind you it was still there, just tucked away in a corner marked with the name "memories."
The tugging grew more impatient as Shuichi kept asking in a soft voice. Io's voice. Just higher pitched. Her twin simply shifted his head sideways, indicating he didn't want to go. But she knew his train of thought; he wanted to go play over there too.
65. A Moment in Time
Click. The sound of the camera's flash echoed in her mind, even to this day. She sat on Mayoi's couch with Hime, looking over random scrap books she'd left out, waiting for Mayoi to come back from checking on Haru so they could continue chatting as they usually did on Friday's around noon. Flipping through one of them, she found an entire album dedicated to wedding days. A third of it was empty.
"She's still waiting on you, Hime." A small laugh left her mouth at her friend's embarrassed reaction before she flipped back to the beginning and absentmindedly stared at one particular picture. With a slow sip of her coffee she went over the event easily, it was fresh in her mind despite it having been seven years.
"You wore a pretty dress, Tsumiki-chan." Mayoi said from behind her.
"So did you." She answered smoothly, "As I recall, you borrowed mine. Hime, you can as well." A younger Io smiled up at the present her—his hands on the younger her's shoulders as he leaned down for the joint picture, the flowers hiding her embarrassed smile and the red of her cheeks contrasting the white dress.
25. Breaking Away
Day fourteen of silence. It was killing her inside out. She felt weak and alone. That girl was still hanging around him. To think, she'd met her match by a ditzy girl.
"He's coming, Tsumiki." Mei nudged Tsumiki's hand as she sat down, knowing of the girl's plight.
Today, she decided to stay. Eating her lunch in absolute silence. It disgusted her to the point she couldn't even stomach her lunch. Not five minutes in and the girl was clinging to his arm and trying to feed him. It was obvious he was forcing himself to comply because after all, he was a gentleman. He looked up again and found she was gone. The forced look on his face even more difficult to keep up. Kanako watched him carefully, smiling to herself, knowing how everything would play out, but the smile was quickly erased at the pain her new friend showed when she left.
"Ne ne, Io-san~! Do you like someone~?" Mayoi sang. It was a ritual question in the midst of school near the end of the year.
Upon realizing he was dense that second year in high school, Tsumiki knew she'd work around it eventually. The third year was spent taking more hints from Mayoi and Sakaki and trying to appeal to him. Halfway into the year she gave up, no longer trying to get to him internally. She'd start from where she was. As one of his closest friends. If she kept tunneling, she'd reach his heart at some point.
21. Never Again
Tsumiki wouldn't let herself fall for someone again. Not when her only choice was ripped away from her by another girl now claiming to be Io's girlfriend. She'd never hear the placating from him to their new friends, saying he was just testing the waters and that the girl had decided to get to know him better before making it official, per his orders. She would never let him see the tears she wasted over the two. But most of all, she'd never see the pained look on his face when she excused herself quickly from the room.
Io awoke to find Tsumiki missing. "Tsumiki...?"
Suddenly he found a pie hurtling towards his face.
"Revenge for last year's wake up call!" She said in the midst of her laughter.
Easily, Io swiped some pie from his face and smeared it on hers before tugging on a string from behind him and moving far away. A sudden torrent of cold water splashed down upon her from a cleverly rigged bucket. Tsumiki never even noticed she'd been standing on a spot marked 'x'.
April Fool's Day. Ever since the first year of their marriage when Tsumiki decided to be brave and pull a prank on him, they'd have this never ending war, all day, with a variety of pranks and tricks.
The first time Io became drunk, the only people over were Mayoi, Sakaki, and Hime. Tsumiki arrived home to find Io dancing happily with Sakaki as Mayoi took pictures frantically.
The bag of groceries dropped on the floor as her eyes widened. "What...?" Her surprised squeak alerted her guests to her arrival.
Hime peered out from the kitchen. "They brought sake and he thought it was water."
"Tsumiki~!" He cried happily before picking her up bridal style and spun around enthusiastically.
Hime resorted to her usual antics and passed out, bleeding profusely from her nose.
She never left from his drunken embrace during the entire time they were there, he wouldn't let her.
48. Everyday Magic
To be quite honest, he loved her smile. Even if it was meek. Even though it was a fleeting glance that let him be fortunate enough to view it. The sky was just a little bit happier, and the world seemed to have an extra spring in its step.
But that's the magic of being in love. No one said you had to be aware of it.
Their high school days were filled with laughter and joy, arguments and plots. But at least one thing was consistent.
"You should tell her something appropriate!" Mayoi grinned madly, trying to get Io and Tsumiki together for the umpteenth time.
"Your smile is all I look for in my day."
Sakaki glanced over to watch the two girls comically fall over with red dribbling out from their noses, knowing that that would have happened.
41. Fork in the Road
Io sighed before glaring at Mayoi. "We're lost."
"No we're not~" She sang excitedly.
"Then where are we going?" Hime asked worriedly.
"We're following Tsumiki~!" Said girl froze, she was leading this parade? Oh this was news to her. Luckily the path had been without side trails and they'd only been walking for a half hour. Io patted her head worriedly, knowing she probably had no clue where it was they were all supposed to head.
"So Tsumiki, the left or the right path?" Sakaki grinned teasingly. She only gave him a cold glare before turning to Io and asking him which he thought was best.
45. Heart Song
He wouldn't write her a love song. He wouldn't drag her to some fancy place. He wouldn't put on a display of some ingenious way to say he wanted to marry her. He was going to ask her plain and simple.
Despite Sakaki's urging to have him sing a song to her.
"Tsumiki, would you marry me?" The words echoed in his head, him having practiced in front of a mirror more than enough.
"Today's the day! I'll do it." But then the rain would start to pour and his afternoon plan would be ruined. "Maybe I should sing her a song..." Doubt began to fall with the rain outside. Heart confused and brain powers dwindling, he planned one last time. He wouldn't sing, he wouldn't be as outrageous as all the videos he'd seen. He'd ask her rain or shine. And he would ask her tomorrow.
"Let's play a card game," Shuichi stated simply as he watched his sister walk towards their mother to tug at her hand as she usually did when she wanted something.
"I want to play a board game!" His sister cried. Masumi was a rambunctious child, but could easily spout heartwarming lines that their mother would instantly respond to.
"Here's a better idea." Io said, coming up behind them and ruffling their hair. "How about we play the guessing game?"
The two children stared at him in confusion before simultaneously replying, "Well, where's the fun in that if all you do is guess?" He feigned a pained smile as Tsumiki muffled her giggles in her hands.
70. Bitter Silence
Days and days, they turned to weeks, and finally, they turned to months. The rare words that ever crossed between them no longer existed. The bridge had been burned. Tsumiki hung around, acting like usual, but the moment he came up with her, she left the group she had integrated herself into in college with the excuse of having something important to do. Io looked for her along his way to the college campus constantly, only to find each time she had long since been at the class. Tsumiki no longer waited. She didn't even give him the time of day. One day he came by the group without her. Tsumiki nearly snarled at him, but she kept calm and asked him one dire question. It was the only thing she'd said to him in two months. And it would determine everything.
"Is she out sick?" A bite of her bento allowed her to vent her anger by chewing. Swallowing she awaited his answer, carefully watching his face as she saw a light blush dance across his face. How she wished she could be that free again. Though, it was abnormal, even for him. "I knew it." She thought sadly, appetite once again disappearing in an instant, packing up her lunch normally.
"She wasn't you."
To say that her friends weren't competitive was a long shot that looped around a few times before hitting a target dead center. Well, Mayoi for sure, but as she talked with the girls from the new group in college, she found they were just as invasive and insane as her. Mayoi would most certainly initiate war on the two girls as well as drag Sakaki into the fray. All to get her best friends together. Yes... This woman would rip the world apart to have the most involvement in their relationship...
"Io... Io..." Tsumiki tapped his arm repetitively to get his attention.
"Mayoi's going to go insane when she meets Mei and Kanoko tomorrow... Or they all will..." She was really worried for Io; the poor boy would end up at the mercy of all three girls for the sake of their end goal.
Surprise was never a common expression on Io's face. Much less was a reaction frequent. Twice in her entire time of knowing him had she given him quite the shock.
"Third time's the charm I guess..." She said softly after wincing at the cup he held dropping from Io's hand and hit the floor in a smashing display of the delicacy of pottery. "Perhaps making him worry and face her while doing dishes wasn't the smartest of ideas..." She thought before bending down to pick up the largest pieces as he still stood, gaping at her.
Io awoke to the sound of bullets hitting the floor, clinking loudly as they were spent. His mind in a panic, he rolled off his bed and hit the floor silently. Making his way to the door he was surprised to find that it wasn't riddled with holes. In fact, the shots sounded a little too familiar. Opening the door he found Sakaki and Tsumiki playing a shooting game, Tsumiki was obviously winning from the way Sakaki shouted rematch. She was very nearly swaying. At this point he was behind the two. Mayoi and Hime were on a separate futon, sleeping peacefully despite the bright light from the TV and loud sounds.
"Why aren't you two sleeping...?"
Tsumiki had already been dead on her feet, hearing his warm low voice made her blink slowly, sleepily. However Sakaki jumped a few feet in the air.
"Io~! Come play with us! HELP ME BEAT TSU-MMPH!"
"People are sleeping." Io coldly replied after throwing the pillow in his face violently, meanwhile a mumbling could be heard from the tired girl. Sakaki glanced over in time to see her lips forming syllables as her eyes slid shut.
"I-o..." Sakaki winced, expecting a thump as Miniwa fell backwards to hit the floor. Opening his eyes when he heard nothing, he saw Io walking away from him with her in his arms, fast asleep. Another pillow flew in his direction, this time from Mayoi who'd woken up.
"Shut up." Io and Miniwa were gone by the time he unpeeled the pillow from his face.
Even though they were married with two kids, even though they'd had their fair share of fights, he never regretted the days he spent with her beforehand, nor the times he'd caused her heart to speed up with his careless romantic remarks. She was his best friend, still is.
"What are you smiling about now?" Tsumiki said, looking over the top of her mug before taking a sip of the hot chocolate he made so deliciously.
"Memories." She sighed, knowing it'd be hard enough to get any more of a response from him about his thoughts.
There were three times she cried in front of him. The first being in high school, when her Valentine's Day chocolate for him was ruined. The ball in their relationship had just started to pick up speed at that point.
"Tsumiki, I'm sorry." That was the second, when he apologized wholeheartedly for breaking her heart. But he mended it just as quickly, despite the time spent angry and frustrated with him.
The third was just a small tear of happiness.
"I now pronounce you husband and wife."
Miniwa Tsumiki didn't expect to be up this late with Io. But something was up with him and he felt like playing video games with her. The seconds trickled into minutes and the constant order to "have another go" was slowly tuned out. Midnight had come and gone and they were nearing the stretch of four in the morning.
"Another round!" He said, having been beaten for the 352nd time in a row.
"What are you trying to prove, Io?" Tsumiki tiredly responded, choosing her character again and initiating the next round. Was he drunk? No… He'd be more cuddly…
Her question went unheard as he continued to battle her into the early morning.
Finally, around 8 AM, he called it quits after the 504th battle. Tsumiki kept nodding off when he was choosing a new character, only blinking awake long enough to defeat Io quickly before dozing off again, this time conking out completely.
"I wanted to see your sleeping face." He mumbled before falling asleep beside her in the nest of pillows they'd laid out prior.
The twilight shadows of the setting sun caused the streetlamps and buildings to grow upon the ground with ease before they blended in with the surrounding darkness.
Long shadows approached a quaint cafe, hand in hand, one ridiculously taller than the other given the extended intangible body. The taller one of the two took the hand from the shorter and rubbed its head, cat-like ears popping out of the recipient.
Evening walks were always rewarding, despite how meagerly romantic it may have seemed in the eyes of another.
Whoever said love was a battlefield, obviously hadn't met Otonashi Io.
"He's a dense, hard-headed, Casanova, idiotic boy who can't visualize a romantic situation if his life depended on it but can say it without hesitation." Mayoi stated easily, all but reading Tsumiki's mind.
"But you love him." Hime quickly supplied, having gone through this song and dance before enough times that she could say it without collapsing due to her chronic nosebleed-au-romance syndrome.
In another room, Sakaki was having a pleasant conversation with said bane of the existence of romance.
"So you honestly don't have a crush on someone?"
27. Lost and Found
He wouldn't pick it up. He wouldn't give it the attention it most likely deserved. He would keep walking straight hom-Oh he tickled its belly and placed it on his head before continuing home.
"Tsumiki? I—" Io took off his shoes calmly and walked into their kitchen looking for a bowl and a carton of milk.
"Meoooww..." It interrupted, obviously at peace from just being on his head.
"—m home..." He finished, carefully watching her reactions as she peered at him from around the corner, curious as to what he'd brought home this time.
The cat leaped off his head and lapped up the milk Io put out as Tsumiki knelt down beside it to see if it had any tags.
"It's just a kitten still..." She murmured.
All throughout high school, Mayoi was there to open the doors to the amount of times that Tsumiki could try and woo Io, or improve their relationship just a smidgen. They seemed nearly endless. Then came the graduation ceremony, and Mayoi solemnly told her one very important thing.
"I can't be there to pave a path to those doors anymore. Sakaki and Hime can't either. You have to pave your own."
And suddenly, the world was filled with paths in front of her. As she walked alongside Io, happy that school was over, that they could start their lives anew, but sad that she'd no longer be around to see her closest friends, she saw a door. It was a ways away, and the grass had grown to frightening proportions, the unstable path to the door made her think, "Do I really want to go that way...?" Tsumiki bravely put a step forward, she'd do it. She'd get to that door. As long as Io waited for her.
Smiling softly to herself, looking to read a series again for kicks, Tsumiki ran her fingertips across her shelf of books and completed series. Her fingers stopped on four black paperbound books. She recalled having read the series only once. It was different. An odd taste in the sense of book lovers. She remembered reading it with an unmatched fervor to catch up with the world.
But something still rang in her mind today.
Edward couldn't even hold a torch to Io. Literally and figuratively of course.
"Nn?" Glancing up from the newspaper she held limply, having been skimming the major articles, she gave him a questioning look.
"Care to go for a walk today? The sun is out, so it should be a little warmer." Io held out her jacket and the other end of his long scarf, already prepared to brave the elements.
With a quick look towards the slight bump beneath her winter clothes, she put on the jacket and wrapped the material around her neck before grabbing his hand.
Once outside, she started to lean against Io, keeping a distance of a few centimeters, cheeks coloring slightly as she mumbled, "You're warmer..."
He couldn't help but smile brightly at Tsumiki, closing the minute distance needed to keep her warm by wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pulling her closer.
Mission: To kiss Io before he wakes up.
Executor: Miniwa Tsumiki
Subject's condition: Asleep
Status: In 3. 2. 1. Start!
She knelt down beside him, her chin reaching a few inches above his head; after all, having gained a few more inches as well as him sleeping on a low couch, this plan would be a cinch. With the intel from Sakaki of him being a deep sleeper and her unnatural silence, the mission should be over before it started. Unfortunately.
He stirred; a large exhale escaped his mouth as he turned to face the ceiling, still dreaming. She pleaded with herself desperately not to have a nosebleed, doing everything possible to hold it back, it wasn't her fault he was so adorable when he slept!
Tsumiki brushed aside a portion of his bangs with a feather light touch, one that he still felt and moved slightly towards it.
"Ah..." A dribble of blood rolled down her nose, which she quickly wiped away. "Need to focus. Must do this." The never ending mental chant streamed across her thoughts.
20. My Inspiration
"I'm titling this 'Maiden in Love' heheh," Mayoi chimed, signing her portrait drawing of her best friend. "Hime, your turn! I think yours will be..." She mused as Tsumiki protested and rebutted the title of her own portrait.
The two boys looked over at them, smiling at the festivities between them.
"So Io, do you have your inspiration to draw now?" Sakaki smirked in his best friend's direction.
The kind smile on his face became slightly mischievous. "Why don't you mind your own business and finish your drawing of Mayoi?" The blond colored and turned around quickly as the brown haired boy grinned to himself, sketching out a cat like girl.
68. Unsettling Revelations
When Mayoi and Sakaki walked into the room laughing and talking they didn't expect to see such a sight. Io was leaning down and holding Tsumiki's face. The two shut up immediately, ran out the door and then peeked back inside to see, hoping the two didn't noticed. Hime was unconscious on the floor with a pool of blood dripping from her nose but was paid no mind as the main focus were the two friends that were more than that but less than in a relationship. Minutes passed and Io hadn't moved at all, Tsumiki hadn't begun gushing blood yet.
"What's going on?!" Mayoi hissed, noting that Io seemed to be intently staring at Tsumiki.
33. Seeing Red
"Ah, another Valentine's Day!"
"What are you putting in Sakaki's valentine chocolate this year, Mayoi...?" Tsumiki asked seriously, knowing she'd continue her streak of odd ingredients in the yearly chocolates.
"I was thinking. OSTRICH MEAT!"
"Where do you even find that...?" Hime muttered, having become much less innocent over the years and a bit more serious concerning life.
"Not to worry, Hime-chan~! I'm sure your lovely co-worker will gladly accept those chocolates you're making!" The girl blushed, though not at all surprised at the fact that Mayoi knew.
"I'm already finished with my chocolates... All that's left is to wrap them up. Thanks for the help, Hime." Tsumiki turned to gather the treats off the tray and place them in their containers.
"Ohoho~! Is that a red box I see? Are you going to give it to Io-san~? Will you finally profess your love for him~?" Mayoi was nearly singing with joy.
71. The True You
He was floored. Impressed. Surprised. All of the above and then some.
By some miracle, his eyes had been opened.
"Tsumiki... All this time...?" A silent question that wracked his brain end to end.
Maybe it was because he was more aware thanks to the years that passed? No. This, Io was sure of, Tsumiki had broken down the walls that caused him to be dense, and further recollection astounded him.
He was just as much in love with her, as she was with him.
58. Heartfelt Apology
It happened again. She was far too nervous. Io lay on the ground, curled up, hugging his stomach as the waves of pain slowly subsided.
"I'm really sorry Io... I didn't mean to do that!" Tsumiki cried, kneeling beside him on the sidewalk, rubbing his shoulder. "I'm in college, I shouldn't be this nervous! Haven't I learned my lesson yet? But... At least I've gotten bolder...?" Her thoughts continued their rampage as Io's wincing became less prominent.
"It's alright, Tsumiki. Just like old times, right?" He breathed out slowly. She helped sit him up, setting the red box he cradled tightly in his arms to the side and peering up at his face in an attempt to ensure that he really was ok.
His eyes flickered away from hers haphazardly, completely aware of their mutual feelings, in order to stop the blood from flowing to his face. It was an unconscious reaction, him placing a hand on her head, but that was just like the old days too.
13. Running Away
It was interesting really, the fact that in all her time of chasing him, this was the first time he was chasing her. The butterflies in her stomach fluttered and multiplied as she grabbed the corner of the wall to help aid her turn and keep her high speed.
His footsteps echoed after her, much longer strides than her frantic tip taps from her light body.
Running through the campus to capture Tsumiki, it wasn't one of Mayoi's plans, it wasn't Sakaki's plan, it most certainly wasn't a game. Io was honest to goodness racing after her to tell her something.
It wasn't like she wanted to hear it. She already knew the answer after telling him outright based on the look on his face. Him telling her such an answer would cause that final crack in her heart that would kill her.
It was another average day; Mayoi and Sakaki were up to their usual tricks. But today was a special day. Today was Tsumiki's birthday. They had a brilliant idea.
"Ne ne Tsumiki-chaaan~" Mayoi sang. "Here's your birthday present from me and Sakaki~!" She flicked a weird square package onto her forehead. Tsumiki's eyes widened and immediately began to claw at her face to get it off. She was pretty much walking backwards. A loud thud sounded when she hit the door and fell to the floor, meowing frantically to get it off. Io then walked in and plucked it off her face.
78. Change in the Weather
"Io, why do you always watch the weather report so religiously if your work is only 5 minutes away...?" The young woman was rather curious since her dear husband had been watching the report as if life depended on it this morning. Like he had been for more than a while now. It was puzzling to her still.
"So I can come home before the start of a large storm for example." He answered it so easily! Tsumiki's cheeks colored lightly while her gaze rested on the floor.
"Stupid Io..." She hugged him from behind, her chin resting on his shoulder since he was sitting on their couch having come home rather early from his job.
Outside, the gray clouds began to let down a gentle rain.
40. Knowing How
To say he didn't like seeing her blushing face was just about the biggest lie. Ever.
"I-Io... Uh..." Tsumiki started nervously.
"Io-saaan~! What do you look for in a girl?" The shark's grin was back on the orange haired girl.
"What do I look for in a girl? Hmm... Her smile."
Io chuckled lightly at her reaction. It never got old.
3. Making History
Behind a bush, Mayoi, Sakaki, and Hime peered out to watch their friends as they walked towards a rather scary looking ride. Holding hands. And blushing.
Sakaki snapped pictures frantically, in immense surprise as Hime passed out from blood loss (again) and Mayoi simply stared, wide-eyed and losing her mind.
Tsumiki and Io disappeared into the depths of the coaster, reappearing only half an hour later, winded, slightly terrified, but laughing.
Sakaki forgot how to move his finger to press the camera's snapshot button when Io pressed a hand on Tsumiki's shoulder and leaned down as she looked up at him.
They'd never predicted their life would take them this far. But now there was tying them together, something they'd never break.
"Ready?" The look in their eyes as they spared each other a fleeting grin before facing forwards, it was warm and comforting despite the millions of things behind it.
The church's doors were a good doorway to their future.
11 years ago she'd been in high school, helplessly in love with Io. Doomed to follow Mayoi's insane plans to hook the two of them up. Until five years ago, she'd been in college with him. She was stuck with more insane friends also intent on encouraging their relationship. When the three got together she worried for his life. Seven years ago she asked him out with her dwindling courage on a windy day. Five years ago, he asked her to marry him. Their wedding was simple and organized, despite how much Mayoi wanted to go all out on it. She still did help plan it though. Today, she was living happily with him and their son, Shuichi, and daughter, Masumi, (who are fraternal twins).
High school came and went. Dozens of times did it rain, and dozens of times she shared his umbrella or he shared hers. More often than not, being the gentleman he was, his shirt got soaked.
"Am I being attacked?" He'd always ask, remembering the first time they shared an umbrella back in their high school years.
Tsumiki loved the rain; it brought her closer to him. Especially when it was windy. Coming home soaked to have him towel dry her hair in a frantic (though hidden and displayed as mild concern) manner was the highlight of her rainy seasons.
"Hey Tsumiki what happened to my umbrella?" He called from the door, soaking wet. The towel thrown at him made a soft "puff" sound after she rounded the corner and padded towards him quietly as she usually did.
"You left it to dry at the door, remember?"
Tsumiki and Io flinched as the light above them popped and bathed them in nothingness save the faint streetlights in the distance.
"Should we leave it...?" Tsumiki silently questioned since she could still see the faint outline of her hand.
"Well that wouldn't be smart..." Io answered, grabbing her hand and pulling her up from the couch.
"Eh? Io?" Her confused stuttering made him laugh lightly before weaving her through the mess of furniture to the window.
"Isn't it better this way?" He leaned on the sill, back facing the glass panes, her hands enveloped by his but his gaze gesturing towards the outdoors.
A timid smile made its way to her face after flickering her glances at the night sky and his face; there was even a shy happy look on his usually peaceful countenance when he nuzzled her nose sweetly in an Eskimo kiss.
"Ne ne Tsumiki-chan, you're making good choices, right? I mean you're living with Io-san now." Mayoi suspiciously asked—a dangerous tone was on the edge of her voice that was different from the usual mischievousness.
"Eh? What do you mean?" Hime asked, just as confused as Tsumiki, setting down the plates of sweets before her two closest friends before sitting down with them at her kitchen table.
"Oh... You know..." She leered.
"No Mayoi, I don't." Tsumiki answered bluntly, digging into her pastry. "Thanks, Hime."
Hime nodded, still pondering the question before her face became red. "MAYOI-CHAN!" She shouted exasperatedly, though not at all surprised at the intrusiveness of the question.
Tsumiki was still in the dark, and despite not showing it, the other two knew she was lost. Mayoi leaned in and whispered in her ear, to which the red flush that they had come to know over the many years came back with a vengeance.
"Nyaa! M-Ma-Mayoi! Nyaa!" She shrieked, embarrassed.
"Tsumiki, want to shoot some fireworks with me?"
Surprise was ridiculously evident on her face at the fact that, 1) Io was asking her to go shoot fireworks with him, and 2) he had come to her doorstep to ask such a thing. The glee couldn't be more visible with the shy grin that was stuck on her.
"Mm. Let me tell my parents. Ah, please come in, it might be a few minutes extra..." She quickly said, knowing her parents would be a little (a lot) wary. Luckily, her parents were fine with it, and in no time they were by the river bank, lighting the multitude of fireworks he'd gotten.
The screams and whistling pierced the air from all over, filling the sky with dots of many bright colors.
"Thanks. Io." She managed to get out with a bit of difficulty. He ruffled her hair and pulled her into his lap in return as they watched the other fireworks going off.
51. Troubling Thoughts
Her head would explode if this kept up. If it wasn't Mayoi reminding her of... Stuff. Then it was her mind going off on tangents and filling up her brain with questions, useless information, and surprisingly disturbing trains of thoughts...
Tugging on his sleeve as usual, she glanced up at him; the train of thought that was currently on a safe path took a dramatic turn and crashed. Her face colored at the immediate stream of thoughts.
"Tsumiki, are you getting sick?"
Her face felt hot. Maybe that was it. She was sick. Yeah, that was it. "Because it'd be really odd if I suddenly kissed him right now, wouldn't it be?" Tsumiki questioned in her mind, cheeks heating up further.
Easily drawn in, difficult to escape. Those were the staring contests they sometimes had. Or so they claimed. He was perfectly fine with losing himself in pools of violet blue, and she felt calmer just disappearing into the dark brown.
If it was their happy place then all would be well. There was really no way to find such a peaceable way to pass the time. Breaking their gazes would happen eternities later. But they were just fine with that. Because the time they lost, was made up with their proximity.
"Ah, Tsumiki. Can you tell Io to come over? I need his help."
The silence that answered Sakaki over the phone forced him to explain the situation, knowing that was her only question.
"Hardware stuff." He quickly said.
"I'll send him over..." She replied warily before hanging up and heading towards Io's office. Tsumiki knocked on his door cautiously, noting the sound of frantic shuffling.
"Did you need something, dear?"
Well that was unusual. Her heart tightened pleasantly though. "Sakaki needed help from you. Hardware stuff?"
"Ah! That's right! I was supposed to go over earlier. Thank you, Tsumiki." The suspicion flickered across her face momentarily, but she gave him a smile and walked to the door with him.
"She's forgotten. Hasn't she...?" Io thought before kissing her cheek before making his way to help Sakaki and everyone with Tsumiki's surprise party.
Both were very well aware of Buddhist teachings having grown up with it. Though they were taught of many principles, to this day they hoped reincarnation was true. 'Destined lovers' was a far cry from their situation they assumed. But it was nice to believe their past selves had found themselves in the same romantic predicament with each other. Minus the tsundere/denseness of course.
80. Only Human
"Is Dad still sleeping, Mom...?" Shuichi asked quietly. "He doesn't sleep this late usually... Is he ok?"
The woman patted his head akin to the way her significant other would pat her head comfortingly, before picking up the steaming bowl. "Dad's just a little sick."
"Aww... Dad said he'd play with me today..." Masumi said, tugging on her mother's clothes as usual.
"Shuichi, go make sure your sister doesn't get into trouble, I'm going to wake your dad up."
Edging the door open, she walked over to place the bowl on the nightstand and rest a cool hand on Io's burning forehead.
"Its afternoon, idiot." She gave a small smile before continuing, "Masumi said you were going to play with her today."
"I remember. Just... Can't find the strength to roll out of bed..." Io rasped.
"You're sick." Tsumiki rapped the top of his head with the back of her hand lightly, "Get some rest; it's only a summer cold right now."
"I'm fine." Another hoarse but declarative statement. Typical.
"You're not. Go back to sleep after eating." She'd been with him long enough to be able to not give in.
Halloween was a time to cast off shells and put on new ones, to be the character they wanted to be. Often times it failed because the person simply didn't feel like being someone else, other times, it was a grand success.
Tsumiki wanted a success. Sure, she was a little old to be trick-or-treating, but her small stature gave her the warranted need to receive candy easily. Still, Mayoi would be getting a rather large portion of her candy as thanks if this stupid plan worked.
"Oh hell- Tsumiki?" Io exclaimed with a slightly raised tone of voice, indicating his underlying surprise.
"Nyaa... Trick-or-treat...?" She pawed at the scratchy cat ear headband of her neko costume.
All those days of practice tests and studying came to a finite point at this very moment. She and Io were practically living at the library in their urgency to pass this test. She would quiz him and he would quiz her. The results were out. She quickly found her name and grabbed his hand. Blushing lightly, she ignored his questioning gaze after a quick glance at him before turning back in an attempt to avoid being jostled by the surrounding impatient students. Absentmindedly she slid her finger across to see the score.
The hand holding his went limp and fell out of his grasp. He had found his score and smiled, a 95%, but his hand was cold now. She was now trying to weave her way out of the crowd. Easily, he made his way to her, picking her up and setting her on the brick boundary that doubled as an elegant fence a few yards away, her eyes never met his.
"What's wrong?" He asked, holding her cheek so she wouldn't avert her gaze from him. Tears began to form, spilling, only to be wiped away carefully, caringly.
It was the first time he'd ever really been away for more than a week. Tsumiki was ridiculously worried. Wasn't it only a three-day business trip? And why hadn't he called?
Meanwhile, Io sat in an airport, annoyed despite not showing it. The snow outside was falling quickly, burying the planes. Another day delay... Every time the lines got fixed, clumps of snow would destroy any progress, making him miss the short chance he was given to tell her what was going on.
Tsumiki calmed slightly when she saw the news; airports in the north were being blanketed with snow. Unfortunately, her worry just about skyrocketed when the weather report said there'd be snowstorms for another few days.
"No one is perfect."
It was a constant quote that echoed in his head. He disagreed. Or rather, he fixed the quote. "Perfection is based on the person and their experiences as well as the people around them."
He was quite happy with having a comfortable life with his best friend/wife and their two children. "Though..."
"We're not adopting a cat until the kids have grown a bit more." Tsumiki interrupted his thoughts, knowing very well what he was pondering.
"I already have a cat." He pulled her into his lap, resting his chin on the top of her head. She hadn't lost her cat-like tendencies over the years.
"Mom's not a cat, Dad!"
All through his life, he'd been taller than most. All through her life she'd been shorter than most, but being short helped, she could evade more things and she was stronger than average. Being tall helped, he could stand proud, be who he wanted to be and not be intimidated. Most of all though, she could stand on his toes without worry and he could lead her through a dance with the ease of water. Even if she was trembling, and faint with nerves and happiness. Even if they had just been lawfully wedded.
"Tsumiki... Are you alright?" Io asked when his best friend collapsed on his couch, muttering.
"Suuuure..." Tsumiki drawled lazily towards his ceiling, hoping the cool air from the fan would cool her face.
Something was absolutely wrong; she wouldn't answer like that, much less in such a careless way. Was she drunk?
"Mayoi says hi..."
Yes... That explained a lot. "Did you have a carbonated drink at her house?"
"Noo... Yes... Maybe... I drank something."
"I did no such thing, Io-san!" Mayoi burst through the door, determined to get her friend back before she made a fool of herself. "She grabbed it before I could tell her what it was and drank it all!"
"It? And you know I don't believe you." Io answered smoothly before grabbing a washcloth, wetting it, and putting it on the flushed girl's forehead.
"You just have to have faith Tsumiki. He'll figure it out one day." Hime mumbled.
An unladylike snort answered her. "If not, we'll pound it into his head!" Mayoi said arrogantly.
"..." Her usual silence answered the two girls. "I like Mayoi's idea at the moment. I've been waiting too long."
"Waiting too long for what?" Io questioned, sitting down next to her having bought his lunch.
"Her ramen to cool off when she makes it at home," Hime splurted, desperate to cover up the real topic of the conversation.
"Oh. I usually put in a bit of cold water to help it along." Io answered cheerily.
Tsumiki merely buried her head in her arms to silence her annoyed sigh.
76. Summer Haze
The cicadas chirped loudly, the humidity making everything feel sticky. Mayoi complained, rolling over on Hime's floor to be closer to the gust of air the fan was blowing around. Hime sighed, placing a glass of lemonade on the ground near Mayoi, before walking towards the windows to close them. She nearly did a double take, noticing two familiar people across the street.
"Mayoi, Mayoi! Come look at this! Do you see this?" She nearly shrieked as her friend groaned, slowly making her way to the window.
"Yes, yes... I'm her- Is that?" Her voice wavered in surprise.
"Io and Tsumiki! Right? But... It looks like they're..." A nosebleed was very prominent from the girl's nose before she collapsed to the floor like usual.
Mayoi blinked a few times, rubbing her eyes, making sure what she was seeing was real. But. The two were gone...?
"Tomorrow's your final test right?" Tsumiki gently asked the tired man who nodded quietly, burrowing himself in the mound of textbooks. She couldn't help but purse her lips, of course she was worried!
"Ne Tsumiki, you can go home, you don't have to stay up with me for this."
"I'll spend the night, our parents will understand." The words were out of her mouth before she even had a chance to stop the thought train. He gave her a tired smile.
"Really, it's okay. Go to sleep then." He absentmindedly gestured at his bed before turning back to his desk.
"I'll quiz you, right now." She stated easily, what was going on with her natural filter today?! She didn't normally sound like this! Did she...? Her ulterior goal was that if he finished her quiz with a passing mark, he'd be knocked out by her unnatural strength. Kindly of course.
"Give me a minute then." She turned to call her parents about the presiding issue of staying over before she set an alarm on her phone as well. "There's nothing wrong with wanting to make him a healthy breakfast... He usually does it himself since his parents go to work early..." She thought worriedly.
"I don't like reality." Masumi pouted, crossing her arms. For a seven year old, she was surprisingly full of an attitude. Her rambunctious excitable self made up for it though, despite how much her parents wondered where the craziness came from.
"What brought this on?" Tsumiki curiously asked while cutting up the vegetables needed for that night's dinner. Masumi hopped off the chair she had situated herself on to watch her mother cook her favorite meal and put her hands on her hips. "It looks like I'll be talking to Mayoi." Tsumiki silently tch'd.
"I wanna be like those cool people on TV! The ones in the morning cartoons!"
Io leaned on the doorway of the kitchen; his arms crossed loosely, a playful smile on his lips. "But then you wouldn't be able to be with us."
Masumi's face fell at the statement, processing the information as Shuichi ran in to tackle his mother's legs in a hug.
"It's not like I'm scared of the movie Haru gave me." He muttered angrily, hiding his tears caused by the horror movie.
Tsumiki had always been an avid reader. Series upon series she'd read, holed up in her room. The only way to remove her from such a domain would be Mayoi telling her to come out to some place since Io would be there. But sometimes... Sometimes she would outright refuse. And often times, she'd bring the book with her. Tsumiki would never get a chance to read since Io would distract her from even pulling out the book. There was one time though, when she actually got a chance because he left with Sakaki for a bit. That was the last book of its series. After reading it for years and years, the series had reached its close, and she had reached her limit for such sad resolutions.
"Tsumiki? What's wrong?" Io happened to walk in as she bowed her head and droplets began to make themselves visible on her shirt. He gently placed a hand on her head, hoping it'd help some.
She only looked up to face him, tears dripping down her cheeks like falling stars.
"It's done. It's ended..."
54. Health and Healing
Six awful hours of ever growing pain. After being confined to her bed seven months into the pregnancy because of her small stature (hey! She'd grown a few more inches over the years of highschool) and the fact that she was having twins, she was absolutely done with beds. Growling she turned to the nurse beside her and snapped viciously. Literally. But her teeth never touched the nurse, Io's hand instantly reached out to take the hit. They were hitting hour seven. But after another hour of torture, it was worth it. The two bundles of joys in front her erased every second, minute, day, every form of time. Those days of staring at the ceiling that drove her mad, it was worth it all. She still snapped at the doctor who had deemed her too weak to stand during the pregnancy when she happened upon him though. Resilience could go a long way.
57. Slow Down
"Hime... I don't think this is the legal speed limit..." Tsumiki said cautiously, not wanting to aggravate the already fuming brown haired woman. Mayoi was unconscious in the back seat, a previous, high G-force turn knocking her out minutes ago.
"So? Mayoi does it too."
"No she doesn't..." She thought, keeping her face emotionless. "So, care to tell me why we're speeding through districts like this?"
"I thought you needed some thrill in your life since you don't act as tsundere around Io anymore. I mean you are married to him."
"And this warrants you being angry...?" Tsumiki pondered with a raised eyebrow before responding to the statement with a curious question. "Did Mayoi perfect a brain swap machine or something?"
"Better. She built a time machine. I got back a few days ago, that's why I'm a bit ticked, I need to change my lifestyle. So we're going to see your future!" With that being said she found the straightaway she was looking for and pressed the pedal to the floor.
The one time Io forgot their anniversary; Tsumiki had sighed and smiled kindly up at him after shaking her head.
"You've never forgotten anything else. And this is a first. It's not that big of a deal."
Truth be told, she was disappointed, but with all the excuses she made up for him, the incident was forgotten.
"Hey Tsumiki, do you have anything planned for tonight?" He later asked a few days afterwards while reading the morning paper. His eyes watched her movements carefully.
"I can't take my wife out to dinner?" So maybe he hadn't forgotten, or maybe this was to make up for it all. She was just fine with spending the evening with him anyway. The grin on her face as she shook her head made him smile, future crisis averted.
As Tsumiki lay in her room, staring at the ceiling, she contemplated calling Mayoi and Hime up. It'd been a while since she'd talked them. But alas, her phone was dead and her computer was off. She'd finished her homework for the night, the classes she was taking were easy to understand, she had literally nothing to do. College was like a simpler and more free-to-do-as-one-wished type of high school. Her thoughts reached their usual tangent, and then she found statements echoing in her mind as she drifted off to sleep. "To finally be in a relationship with Io." That was her goal. To be with Io as more than a close friend, even through college, that was a hope. To marry him, that was a dream.
"Nyaaa..." Tsumiki sighed. It was far too hot to do anything today. Currently in Io's house the group was having a video game day. Unfortunately, the AC cut out right in the thick of the major battles. It was hot enough that she was forced to put her hair up, but it was getting worse and worse. "Maybe wearing an undershirt wasn't the smartest idea..." She thought, remembering that she only chose to wear it was because his room was usually cold. Glancing at Mayoi, she found her sprawled out, lab coat tossed aside and moaning about summer being wretchedly hot. A sleepy stupor took over her, and she joined Mayoi on the floor, unconscious.
Hime nudged Tsumiki a few minutes later after walking in a few minutes later. Suddenly, Sakaki slammed the door open and yelled, "WE'RE BACK! WITH... A FANCY FAN!" Mayoi rolled over and gave him a dark look. The whirring of smaller fans began to spread around the room; Io leaned over Tsumiki and clicked a button.
"NYAA!" She woke up, instantly at the spurt of cold water in her face. Then he turned the fan on and held the button. The miniscule droplets coated her face.
"It's a mister-fan. We found it at the market a few blocks away."
43. Nature's Fury
Nearly seven years ago, Io had a very unfortunate encounter with a thunderstorm. Or rather, he was a bit stressed out. Back in college, a girl wanted to go out with him, he didn't know her, but she offered to stay by him so he could get to know her and give her a positive answer. He couldn't help but agree; knowing it'd give her some peace of mind, but it annoyed him a bit that people could be so pushy and not know when to back off.
After a few days of being ignored by Tsumiki, he felt angry and sad. He was losing his best friend and he had no idea why.
"WHY DON'T YOU JUST TELL ME WHAT THE PROBLEM IS?!" He almost shouted to the pouring skies as he made his way to Tsumiki's place in the hopes of figuring out what was wrong. A crack of thunder rolled loudly across the sky and he flinched, a bright light appearing in front of him in less than the blink of an eye.
"I guess you don't want me to go and see her... Do you...?" He stared at the burnt patch of land as it was pelted by falling water. He turned and went home, all the while grumbling to himself.
34. 50 Shades of Gray
The latest addition to their family was surprisingly not at the fault of Io. Rather, it was Tsumiki.
"Poor thing..." She mumbled worriedly, cradling the little ashen gray cat in her arms. Its eyes were drooping, probably tired and hungry. Gently she edged bits of cat appropriate food into its mouth while combing through its fur, getting rid of knots and clumps. It was astounding as to how compliant it was being with her given that the little one had yet to spring up and bolt for an exit at the sound of rushing water.
When Shuichi and Masumi came home, they were surprised to see their mother laughing and running around the room, noticing the soap suds that were in random places on her clothes and hair as well as on the floor. Finally the cat jumped on her head when she was looking under that couch for it and pawed at her hands as the woman tried to take it off her head.
"Oh, welcome back you two." She smiled cheerily, making the two glance at each other, wondering if their normally calm and somewhat introverted mother who was grinning so happily was ok.
He was fortunate enough to get all of Golden Week off. Luckily, everyone else from their old group was given a break as well. A simple get together was planned, only for a few days. Sakaki had managed to rent the house they'd all stayed in years ago on a summer trip. Hime once again was out getting snacks at a scheduled stop on the train. His mind drifted and he could see all the memories that had happened last time. Hime coming back and Tsumiki still missing, presuming Hime was lost. Him, jumping through the moving train's window to stay with Tsumiki so she wouldn't be alone. They were echoes of the past, but he really did hope the events didn't repeat themselves.
Remembering the first time he felt something more for Tsumiki, he realized he was an idiot to not have noticed, an idiot for brushing the feelings away as symptoms of the flu. The next time he had another realization, he was in college. Io was asked out by a girl, but it pained him to tell her he'd rather get to know her first before saying he'd date her. The next two months were oddly cold. And then, not a couple months later, he felt like he was falling. Adrenaline, (or were they butterflies?) made his arteries and veins feel ice cold, his stomach thrashing, and when she said those three words to him, he felt like he was falling through an endless abyss of happiness.
Another cold winter storm passed over them days before, the effects of the cold front still causing temperatures to drop. Nearby the lake had frozen over and Mayoi dragged everyone out to play on the ice.
"Nya nyaaaa NYAA!" Tsumiki cried, slipping and sliding on the ice dropping her stubborn emotionless exterior easily. Mayoi grinned as she skated by having known that Tsumiki couldn't skate. Io raced by her and circled around Tsumiki, slowing to a stop and helping her balance.
"I-I can skate on my own!"
"Hmm...?" He wasn't listening; instead he took her hands and skated backwards slowly. "In and out, little 'v' motions with your feet, Tsumiki."
Mayoi, Hime and Tsumiki. The female musketeers. The going home club trio. Ever since middle school the three were stuck like glue, never one without the other. Then in Mayoi's art class she met a boy. His name was Sakaki. He and his best friend Io, they were the duo, the jokester and the Casanova, and they seamlessly fell into the trio's group.
"Sakaki! Meet my partners in crime!" Mayoi shouted before pointing at her two best friends. "Hime-chan, and Tsumiki-chan~"
"It's an honor to meet such beautifu-"
"Stop being a pervert, Sakaki..."
"Io! You wound me!" Clutching his heart dramatically he then finished the introductions. "Io-san over here is my closest friend!"
"He-hello, Io." Tsumiki said carefully, stepping up to him, already having met Sakaki a few days ago.
"Hello, Tsumiki." A kind but small smile appeared on his face that comforted her immediately.
She never forgot the day she met him. And apparently, neither did he.
"Hello, Tsumiki." A brighter than usual smile graced his face when she approached him on their first day of college.
A/N: I have done what I could to edit this story and improve it but it is always subject to change as I find more mistakes.