Chapter Three

Here they are! A little bit of crazy...and the boys! Enjoy!

"ICE-CREAM! ICE-CREAM! TIME! TIME! TIME!" Tomo skipped happily over to the ice-cream vender. "ICE-CREAM TIME!"

She was fast, to say the least. By the time Mayu and Sumire arrived, she was already licking away. Shaking their heads, they ordered. Unlike Tomo, they preferred cup over cone. A good thing to, because the unusually warm weather proved a hassle to Tomo. Mayu had yet to tell them of her encounter with Katayanagi and how Utsui had suddenly decided to play 'knight in shining armor'. She had no plans too, especially regarding the former. It worried her though. Katayanagi was the sort of guy who, once he found something he wanted, would do everything in his power to make sure he got it. They strolled through the park; Mayu and Sumire occasionally glancing over at Tomo, who was licking madly at the melted ice-cream spilling over the edge of the cone. Occasionally, in her effort, Tomo would let out a soft grunt. To the perverts walking past, it was amusing and well worth the watch.

"Oi. You perverts plan on having children in the future?" They stared at Mayu. "Keep looking and you won't."

Taken aback, and not willing to take the chance, the perverts quickly turned tail and ran. Sumire chuckled to herself as she scooped up another spoon of ice-cream, clearly amused by the situation. Tomo, as always, remained completely oblivious to what had happened, still focused on making sure no ice-cream was lost. She was so naive it was almost painful. Mayu couldn't really believe it sometimes, which is why it was up to her and Sumire to look out for their innocent friend. The thought of what might've happened had Tomo been alone sent a chill down her spine.

"Eh? Come on, Sumi-chan! Just let me have a little!"

Sumire pulled her ice-cream away from Tomo as she sat at the picnic bench. "Eat your own. You've got three flavors there already."

"I've got chocolate, mint and vanilla. But I don't have strawberry!" Tomo straightened, suddenly becoming serious. "I shall explain. Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry are the three staple ice-creams; the originals. When all three are eaten together, it's perfection."

"Then you should've gotten strawberry."

"No," Tomo continued. "The crème-de-la-crème of ice-cream is mint! But because neither of you like mint, the only way for me to have mint and strawberry, is to order mint and steal the strawberry from you guys."

With an smug smile, Sumire held out a spoonful of strawberry ice-cream to Tomo. Her eyes brightened, thinking that maybe Sumire had changed her mind, only to be thoroughly disappointed when the spoon was yanked away. Mayu giggled at the look on Tomo's face. Priceless.

Sumire licked her lips, and with a malevolent chuckle, waved her ice-cream back and forth under Tomo's nose. "You're still not getting any."

Of course, Tomo proceeded to throw a fit. "You're so mean! Mayu-chan! Sumi-chan won't give me any ice-cream! Make her share!"

"Sumire-" Her phone vibrated. "Hold on a second." As Tomo dangled around Sumire's neck, Mayu answered her phone. "Hello?"

"Mayu-chan!" The sing-song voice called, forcing Mayu to pull the phone away from her ear to prevent bursting eardrums. "How are you my gorgeous daughter?!"

"Old man," The girls turned to look at her, "Did you get into the sake again?"

Giggling was heard on the other side. "Of course not. You know I don't drink, silly."

Mayu rolled her eyes. "Did something happen?"

"Nooo!" He sung happily. "One guess down! Two to go!"

Tomo grabbed Mayu's wrist, pulling the phone closer. "Tell her already! You're interrupting ice-cream time! You DON'T interrupt ICE-CREAM TIME!"

"Is that Tomo?! Stay away from my Mayu-chan, you little monkey!"

As Tomo went to reply, Sumire was quick to clamp a hand over her mouth. Mayu put the phone to her ear. "Just tell me why you're calling."

"Your uncle's out on a long trip and won't be back until next week." She heard the distinct sound of a bottle opening, but said nothing. "You remember the accident last time?"

"Yeah. That idiot cousin of mine fell asleep, left the stove on and nearly burnt the place down."

Her father giggled. "That's it! You're uncle wants to make sure the house stays in one piece, so he's asked if we wouldn't mind having them over for dinner until he gets back."

"Okay...why are you telling me? It's not like you need my approval or anything."

"No! But I want you to tell Hayato-kun! And pick up some milk on the way back!" And with that, he hung up.

Slamming her phone shut, Mayu cursed under her breath. That old man was at it again. Drinking like a fish and ordering people around without so much as a second thought. The rate he was going, her mum was bound to get angry again. Tomo, who'd gotten the brilliant idea to try and snag Sumire's ice-cream while she was preoccupied, ended up face first again the table. Her arms moved through the air, flailing ridiculously.

Mayu raised an eyebrow at her friends, but Sumire acted as though nothing were out of the ordinary. "So?"

"Mum's gonna murder him." She shrugged, slipping the phone back into her bag. "Oh well, nice knowing him."

"I meant, what did he want?"

They ignored Tomo's struggling. "I have to go over to Kurogin and tell my idiot cousin he's having dinner with us." Getting to her feet, she sighed. "Wanna come with?"

It was obvious that Tomo wanted to, but because she was unable to speak, Sumire was left to decide for her. "No. You have fun. And say hello to Odagiri-kun for me."

"He doesn't attend classes anymore remember." Mayu rolled her eyes. "And even if he did, STOP INSINUATING!" Grabbing her bag, she slid her virtually untouched ice-cream cup over to Tomo. "Here. Strawberry."

Tapping her heel against the stone wall, Mayu waited impatiently as students filed past. Every student but the one she was actually waiting for. He sure was taking his sweet time leaving school, considering how he constantly went on and on about how it was a waste of his precious time. And, it wasn't like she had anything better to do. She gritted her teeth. Damn that old man! Too lazy to run his own errands. Groaning, she leant her head back against the wall; irritation beginning to set in. Next time he asked her for something, whether he hung up on not, she wasn't going to do it.

"Hey...who's that? She's hot."

"No idea. But whoever's with her's one lucky bastard."

"Maybe she's single."

"I'll give you 500 yen if you ask her out."

What? Did he just- Mayu bit her lip, urging herself to ignore them. She certainly wasn't in the mood to deal with this crap. Still, it pissed her off. Talking about her like she was something to be won and owned. She wasn't a pet. One of the boys, the one who'd accepted the challenge, swaggered over to her as though he were the king of the world. More like a little earthworm she felt a strong desire to crush. A sly grin appeared on her face as she turned to look at him. He immediately froze. What could she say? Being forced to wait in the hot sun to deliver a message that could've been texted, instead of eating ice-cream with her friends made her cranky. She would've laughed. All color had drained from the boy's cheeks and he looked like he was going to faint at any moment.

"Eh? Mayu?"

Of course. Hayato arrived when she was finally having some fun. Wager forgotten, the boy ran for the hills at the first sight of her cousin. Knowing class 3D wards off unwanted guys. How had she not realized this sooner? It was something she definitely planned to exploit in the future. Pushing herself from the wall, Mayu approached her cousin, and his friends.

Grinning, she gave the boys a peace sign and a wink. "Long time no see."

"KAWAII!" Hayato's friends chimed.

Hayato, both annoyed and surprised by his cousin's sudden arrival, twitched. "What are you doing here?"

She pouted, fiddling innocent with the hem of her skirt. "You're not happy to see me?"

He hesitated. Mayu would admit, the power that came with being a girl was intoxicating. All she needed to do was put on the innocent girl act and guys would fall at her feet. She wasn't being narcissistic; it wasn't just her after all, but all female kind. Thinking back, the only time she acted like this was to annoy Hayato. Such a waste of talent.

"Why wouldn't he be happy to see you? You're his cousin after all."

That voice. From behind the tallest of the group, a familiar face stepped out. "Eh? Ryu?" She smiled. "So you and my idiot cousin are friends again, I take it?"

"Idiot cousin? W-Wait! Why're you addressing him so informally?" Hayato disliked the idea of Mayu having a personal relationship with his friend. "Huh?"

"What's the big deal?" Mayu insisted. "I've known him since we were kids. Besides," She crossed her arms, "Ryu doesn't mind. Do you?"

He shrugged. "No."

"That's beside the point!" Hayato was starting to get angry. "People will think you two have that kind of relationship!"

"Why is everyone saying that today?" Mayu mumbled rather loudly.

Hayato's eyes widened. "What? Who's saying that?"

"Never mind." She brushed off her comment with a wave of her hand. "I call you by your first name. Are you saying that everyone thinks we have that kind of relationship? Cause that'd be disgusting on so many levels."

Grabbing hold of her upper arm, Hayato steered her away from his friends, stopping only when they were out of ear shot. A quick tug was all it took to force her to face him. He didn't look too happy.

"What're you doing here?"

"You won't introduce me to your friends. Are you embarrassed to be seen with me?" He narrowed his eyes and she sighed. "Fine. I'm delivering a message. You're having dinner at our place until uncle gets back."

He scoffed. "The old man thinks he can order me around. I'm fine having dinner at home."

"Cause that worked out so well last time." Mayu rolled her eyes. "Dinner's at seven. If you're not on time, Mum'll kill you." With a cute smile, she peered past Hayato. "It was nice seeing you boys. Maybe next time, my idiot cousin'll let us get to the introductions. And Ryu, glad you're friends with Hayato again." She straightened. "Well, see ya."

Still smiling, she walked off, skirt bouncing with every stride. Sadly, for all those perverted male students brave enough to take a peek, Mayu was clever enough to wear shorts underneath. If it wasn't blatantly obvious, Mayu was quite popular with the opposite sex. She didn't like it, but there wasn't anything she could do to stop it. Hayato, noticing the looks of passing Kurogin students - like vultures spotting a rotting carcass - glared.

"Oi! You like seeing? I suggest you keep your eyes to yourself!"

They immediately dispersed. When Hayato threatened someone, he was generally more than willing to go through with it. Especially in regards to his cousin. He watched her leave, making sure that she was left alone. So absorbed in keeping Mayu free of jerks wanting to take advantage of her, he barely had time to react to being jumped by his overly excited friends.

"Eh, Hayato. You've been holding out on me, man. You're cousin's a babe." Tsucchi fanned himself repeatedly as he watched her retreating figure. "Is she single?"

Hayato glared. "Mayu's off limits."

"Not to Ryu, right?" They turned to Take. "She did mention something about people thinking they had that kind of relationship."

The four of them simultaneously turned to Ryu, who stared back at them, hands in his pockets. In Hayato's mind, all there was were images of Mayu in a variety of compromising positions, crying out for help as Ryu had his way with her. Take, Tsucchi and Hyuga were thinking the same, with slight variations here and there - never to be told to Hayato.

Ryu raised an eyebrow. "What are you guys imagining?"

Realizing that it was all in his head, Hayato chuckled uncomfortably. "You wouldn't." Pushing the thought from his mind, he draped an arm around Ryu's shoulder. "To the cafe!"

Laughter ensued as they made their way. Hayato had soon forgotten the idea of Mayu and Ryu together, but Ryu hadn't. He leant back against the couch, sloshing the contents of his canned drink absentmindedly. Although he wouldn't admit it to Hayato, Ryu was quite fond of the idea of being with Mayu. There was a reason he didn't look at other girls and Mayu was it. He was curious; when had he suddenly stopped seeing her as the annoying, flat-chested brat that used to burst into Hayato's room unannounced just to annoy them? When had she become so beautiful?

"Oi Ryu!" He shook his head and turned his attention to Hyuga. "It's your turn."