Oh my god. I have no idea what I'm doing with my life anymore.
So I was very unhappy with how chapter 2 came out considering I wrote it in the middle of the week where I don't have a lot of free time and don't get much sleep. It just felt very rushed and sloppy. So I went through it again today and made some changes that should hopefully improve it. Nothing big enough that would require a reread but I feel a lot happier with it now and I hope you guys will too. The ONLY thing that I added that is important is that Gou and Mikoshiba talk about not telling Rin about their situation (because I am dumb and forgot this important part when first writing the chapter - I need more sleep). Hopefully this won't happen again as I finally feel like I have a better grasp of where I want to take this story and some semblance of plot finally.
When Gou returned to their lodging Goro had quite a few things to say to her. He was the only one who hadn't yet voiced his opinion so he did so when she returned from her meeting with Mikoshiba. Most of the things he said she had heard from various people already, only he said it much more loudly and vehemently. She bore it all in silence. She knew she deserved it. Her reckless decision had put quite a few people in a sticky situation and could have harming effects on not just herself but others too.
There was one thing however that Goro said that did strike a cord with her. That if she were his daughter he would have grounded her for the rest of her life and never allow her out of the house, much less near any boys.
If you were my daughter. Gou couldn't help but think upon it later when she was tucking the marriage certificate safely into a drawer. What would her own father think about her situation, she wondered. Would he be angry? Most likely. Or maybe he would have been happy for her, as some dads can weirdly do when their daughters do reckless things. Maybe he would have looked upon the marriage as a blessing instead of a mistake. He had given up his dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer to marry her mother and have children after all. Maybe her father would be the type of man to see her marriage as a positive.
It was strange thinking of him in that way. Gou hadn't thought about her father in such a long time. It wasn't due to lack of caring. She had been very young when he died and she could barely remember anything about him. The only thing she could really recall was his hands. She remembered they had been big and rough from hard work and sea salt and wind, but they had been gentle when they touched her hair or picked her up. That is all she can remember after so long. She can't even recall his face anymore.
Unlike her brother. Rin had been older than she when their father passed away. He remembered their father much more clearly, remembered more than just his hands. He remembered his father's dreams and his ambitions, his dreams and his sacrifices much more clearly, felt them so much more. Yet, like Gou, he couldn't remember their father's face either. But that fact only seemed to haunt him all the more than if he actually could remember.
When Gou tried to picture her father's face now all she saw was-
Well, that part wasn't important.
Gou closed the drawer and left the room, trying her best to put those sorts of thought out of her mind.
She stood in front of the glass counter, peering down at the objects that lay sedately within on a red cloth as if they were some sort of precious jewels. They were anything but. Cell phones. Big clunky ones, those old style flip cell phones with the thick bottom and the tiny display window on the front. Gou's first phone when she was twelve had been one of these. She hadn't missed it.
Well it is only for the next three months. Regardless of how ugly or bulky they were the phones would serve the purpose they needed them to during their stay here.
There weren't many to choose from either. The store had a limited set of colors and Goro loudly insisted they weren't going to go around looking or spend any more money than they had to when Nagisa complained about it.
Gou wanted to get the pink one but somehow Nagisa managed to snag that one before her. Purple then? Nope, Rei had grabbed that color. Seriously, did they have to pick the girliest colors that were available? Gou tried not to let her irritation show. She was the girl, she should be able to have the girliest color!
Haru had picked blue, of course, Gou knew better than to ever consider getting that color for herself. Makoto had chosen green. Amakata had gotten a soft pleasant yellow color and Goro orange. Which left the only other color available. Grey.
Gou sighed heavily. Oh well, it was just for the next three months. She could bear with an ugly phone for that long.
After receiving the ugly clunky phone, Gou stepped outside with the others to program their new phones and exchange numbers. It was a bit of a confusing situation. Nagisa had already forgotten his new number and Amakata had never gotten it in the first place. They had to spend some time calling each other to figure everything out. After twenty minutes of frustration and once everyone had each other's number, Amakata and Goro departed to head back to the lodge, Amakata with a good natured wave and Goro snarling at them to stay out of trouble. "If one of you boys suddenly decides to get married, I'll drown y-" he stopped, a better idea seeming to hit him, and he finished with, "I'll never let you in the pool ever, ever again."
A much more terrible threat for sure. Haru looked like someone had just told him the world was coming to an end.
"Speaking of marriages," Nagisa said once Amakata and Goro had departed, "you're going to have to get Captain Mikoshiba's number, aren't you?"
Gou's face heated. "Why would I need that?"
"It actually wouldn't be a bad idea to have it," Makoto mused and instantly held up his hands when Gou turned her hot glare on him. "I mean just considering the situation. You two do have some…unusual circumstances. You might need to contact each other quickly."
He did have a point there. Gou couldn't send Rei over to Mikoshiba's every time she needed to talk to she, much as she would prefer to. As of right now she couldn't foresee any reason why she would need to talk to Mikoshiba. They had made their plans and had nothing else to discuss. Still it wouldn't hurt to have his number in case an emergency came up.
"Alright, alright. I'll get his number when I see him."
As they turned to walk towards the rest of the city, Nagisa began wondering aloud what color other people's phones would be. "I bet Rin-chan's phone is black," he said.
Or white. For some reason Gou couldn't help but imagine him having a white phone instead of a black one. Black didn't really seem to suit him.
"Nitori's would be grey to match his hair."
"I wonder what color Mikoshiba's phone is," pondered Nagisa.
Gou didn't need to imagine that one. Red, she thought. It's red. The same color as his hair.
They didn't have anything else on their schedule for that day. Due to the high volume of swimmers in the program each school had a set schedule for when they could use the pool for practice. At the moment it was only once a week but the host country was looking to increase that to two or three times a week once everything got smoothed out, and were even seeing about obtaining students access to other private pools. Like most programs, more students had enrolled than the host country had initially been suspecting and they were now having difficulty accommodating them.
"There will be two rounds of competition." Gou read off the schedule they had been given. As manager she felt responsible for this sort of thing so had put herself in charge of it. "The first competition won't be for two months. The host country wants to give the students time to adjust to the time difference so no team has an advantage over the other and also to give the students time to learn about the culture."
"Two months," said Makoto thoughtfully. "That will give us some time to improve."
Rei fisted his hands as if he were about to get into a boxing match. "I will definitely improve my times! I've been studying the theory on it!"
Makoto smiled. "It's not just you, Rei. All of us need to improve."
"Yeah, Rei-chan!" Nagisa chimed in. "Let's all improve together!"
Gou couldn't help but smile a little herself. It was nice seeing them all so enthusiastic. Even if Haru didn't say anything she knew he would try as hard if not harder than the others. Her brother was in the competition with him after all.
"The top eight teams of each event will progress to the second and final round," Gou continued reading. "The final event will take place after the initial one."
"Only two rounds?" asked Nagisa.
Gou nodded. "Due to having other clubs like the art and debate clubs competing respectively the host country couldn't afford to hold more rounds than that." She shook out the paper. "It's going to be very competitive."
"I'm sure it will be fine," said Makoto, always the optimistic one. "We just need to improve as much as we can and try our best."
"That last event," said Haru. "The final one. That's right before we leave, isn't it?"
"It is," said Gou. "We leave shortly afterwards."
"But the winner of each event will win $5,000, right?" asked Nagisa eagerly.
"Alright!" Nagisa threw his hand in the air. "Let's win that money! In all events!"
Makoto chuckled. "It isn't just about the money, Nagisa."
"No, but it won't hurt to have! Otherwise we'll be lifting weights and running track all winter! Who wants that?"
"No one," Haru deadpanned.
"R-running track isn't so bad," muttered Rei but quietly.
"We'll have our time with the pool," said Gou, returning to the program. "There's lots of other stuff on here too. Lots of events we have to participate in so we learn about the host country."
The museum of history, a wine vineyard, a trip to one of the country's most prestigious spas and hot springs pools – "Ama-chan will like that one," Gou said with a snicker – a tour of one of the country's industrial facilities, a marine park, and a few others. Some sounded interesting, others not so much. The museum of history would be tomorrow.
With nothing scheduled for them, they spent the rest of the day exploring the city, trying different foods – both good and bad – and checking out the local shops. They purchased little knick knacks to bring back to their families at home in Japan, little keepsakes of the foreign nation they were in. Makoto bought items for his brother and sister as well as his parents. Rei got something for his parents and Nagisa for his sisters. He also tried to buy something for Rei as well for some reason but they were all weird things. Rei protested that none of the things were beautiful and why would he need something when he was right there anyway. Haru didn't have anyone in his family to buy for so he bought stuff for Makoto's siblings instead, trying to shrug it off as if it were no big deal when Makoto looked at him in shock.
Gou spent some time searching, finally finding a lovely silver crafted ring with an pearl on it. Her mother loved pearls. Crafted by the rolling waters of the sea. She had once told Gou that pearls reminded her of Gou's father. It was more money than Gou wanted to spend but worth it. She knew her mother would appreciate it.
She slipped it onto her finger for safe keeping, knowing it would be better there than in her bag where someone could pick pocket it. It looked nice on there as well, though she imagined it would look better on her mother's finger.
As sunset neared they headed back to their lodges, not wanting to be out when the more unruly nighttime crowd came out to indulge in the low age restriction for alcohol. Even Nagisa grimaced at the mention of that.
"I'm sure it's helping their economy out a lot though," Rei commented as they walked back. "Having so many young students here willing to throw money around for it. I'm sure they'll make much more in market sales then they'll lose by giving out those cash prizes."
Rei did have a point. Not only was the program a good way to improve relations with other nations but the host country would make a ton of money off the purchases the schools and their students would make while residing here. It was a win-win for the host country.
Gou felt someone's eyes on her and she glanced up. Haru was staring at her for some reason. Or more accurately staring at her hand. He must have felt her eyes on him too, for he looked up at her face. "Nice ring."
"Oh, t-thank you."
He turned his face away but she could still see his profile. He was smirking a little. She couldn't believe it. "What's so funny?"
His smirk almost widened but he managed to restrain it with some difficulty. "Nothing," he said. "Nothing at all."
The museum was indeed impressive, at least from the outside. It was big, with giant pillars that stretched above Gou's head, and the stonework was fascinating, ancient and yellowed with age and accented with darkened bronze. Nagisa made a comment about it being beautiful, which Rei responded that it was but it had once been used as a deadly military base back during some war or other. Whatever. It was too early for Gou to care what had happened here in eons past. Why had the host country decided to host this sort of thing so early? Even if she had gone to sleep at a good time getting up early was still bothersome.
They waited in the lobby for additional schools to arrive. To save on time and man power, the host country had decided to have schools participate in the programs together. And since Iwatobi was a smaller group they would surely be paired with others. It would be a school from Japan Gou was certain. The host country wouldn't want to throw them together with students they couldn't communicate with, plus it would require them to have additional translators present. No it would most definitely be another Japanese school.
Stifling a yawn, Gou looked up at the painting adorned vaulted ceiling. Most of the paintings were…quite bloody. Depictions of conquerors ordering executions or great battles between various factions. How unpleasant. She lowered her gaze with a grimace.
The door opened and Gou looked to see who the other school would be. She froze. Oh, no. Why them of all people!
Samezuka swim team came piling in like a tidal wave of lemmings, nearly five times the amount of people Iwatobi had when you included every student regardless of year. They were dressed in normal clothes and Gou may not have recognized them as Samezuka if she hadn't seen Rin right away. He stopped upon seeing her, surprise showing on his face, and then something which might have been irritation or annoyance at seeing the boys.
Beyond the doors Gou could hear Mikoshiba's deep voice. She could already see his tall frame coming through. He would have to be here. Oh god, what am I supposed to do? If Rin saw them together…
Gou backed up. Unable to think of anything else, she hid behind the tallest person currently in the room. Makoto blinked down at her form cowering in front of him. "Are you alright, Gou-chan?"
"Shhh!" she hissed. "Don't say my name!"
But hiding behind Makoto had not been a good idea either. He was the Iwatobi Swim Team Captain. Who else would Mikoshiba approach? And he did, almost right away.
"Ah, Tachibana-san! Good Morning!"
Gou buried her face in her hands, barely realizing that Mikoshiba had used Makoto's last name. Why had he used Rei's first name the other day when he called Makoto by his last name?
"A-ah, Captain Mikoshiba." Makoto half turned. "Good morning."
Gou tried to make herself as small as possible. Maybe Mikoshiba wouldn't see her…
But he did and, when he did, his eyes lit up. "Gou-kun! Good morning! Nice to see you here!" His smile was wide and bright. It lit up his entire face.
"G-good morning." Her eyes were wide. What the hell was he doing?! Her brother was right there! Had he lost his mind?
To the side she saw Rei bending over to whisper something to Nagisa. Nagisa's head perked up and then he was racing off, shouting, "Rin-chan! Hello! It's nice to see you this morning, Rin-chan! How is your swimming coming?" Rei. He had set Nagisa to distract Rin. Perfect. If there was anyone who could make themselves an inconvenient distraction it was Nagisa.
Gou quickly motioned for Mikoshiba to come here. He blinked and leaned down to be level with her, Makoto's frame still blocking them from view. "What do you think you're doing?" Gou whispered furiously.
"What am I doing?" Mikoshiba sounded genuinely mystified. "I'm acting like nothing happened."
Gou's mouth fell open. Was he joking around? Above them Makoto let out a nervous chuckle. His face was almost as red as Gou's own, and he kept glancing behind himself to where Rin was. Haru just looked bored.
"If we acted weird around each other or ignored each other that'd be odd, right?" Mikoshiba continued. "That would only draw more suspicion. It's things like that expression you wear right now that would get us caught." He pointed a finger at her red face and she leaned away from the offending digit.
Damn him, he was right. If they were going to act like nothing happened then he would have to act like he had towards her before that night and not be uptight. If he acted suddenly distant and awkward around her then Rin would catch on like a shark smelling blood in the water. And she had to do the same. If she avoided Mikoshiba, Rin would notice that as well.
Gou glared at the corner of the room, biting her bottom lip. "Alright, fine. I get it."
Mikoshiba smiled at her then he straightened, popping up beside Makoto like a cork from a wine bottle. "Alright!" he shouted to his team. "Let's get this show on the road! Lots of history to learn! Have fun but keep your hands to yourselves! Don't touch anything and don't get into any trouble!"
He moved away from them, his team following, the guides for the tour scrambling with so many people now. Rin passed by Gou and Makoto, muttering something irritably about Nagisa's loud voice but otherwise paying no attention to the Iwatobi swim team. Gou felt her muscles relax. Good. He hadn't seen her talking to Mikoshiba. Nagisa had done his job well.
"W-well," Makoto coughed. "I guess that wasn't so bad." He was still red. "R-right?"
"If you don't act normal you're going to be the one to get them caught," Haru intoned, causing Makoto to stiffen.
Gou took a deep breath. Okay, she just had to act normal. That shouldn't be…too hard? Ugh. She would just have to pretend that marriage certificate didn't exist in that drawer back in the lodge. That would be the best and easiest thing to do. This sucks.
Nagisa came up beside them, looking positively excited and pretty proud of himself. He winked. "I did well, didn't I, Rei-chan?"
Rei was beaming like a teacher that was proud of his student or a boyfriend whose significant other had done something amazing. "Yes, Nagisa-kun, you did very well!"
Gou rolled her eyes and shook her head, albeit fondly. All of them were idiots, herself included. "Thank you, Makoto, and thank you for doing that, Nagisa-kun."
He smiled at her and with another deep breath, Gou began the tour of the history museum with the Samezuka swim team.
It didn't take very long for Gou to figure out the country had a violent history. Decorated with betrayals, suicides, corruption, genocide, religious persecution, and extortion of power by various warlords, the country's history was quite bloody and littered with corpses.
"Here we have a painting of Princess Ira Parisa," the guide was saying, gesturing to a picture of a woman dressed in what looked like a gauzy wedding gown that was nearly see through. "In 1866 she was betrothed to the Duke of Normontshire, however after her wedding day she refused to lay with her husband."
Good for her, thought Gou.
"She was later beheaded," the guide went on.
Gou grimaced. Not so good for her.
She stopped in front of a large gray stone carved with runes. A description was beside it and Gou leaned in to read the letters. Another story about a princess. This one had the princess betrothed to a prince but being in love with someone else, and refusing to marry the prince. Gou clasped her hands for the power of love. How romantic!
A shadow fell over her and Gou glanced out of the corner of her eye, already knowing who to expect from the height and shape of the hair in the shadow. Mikoshiba. "Every bit of history about this country seems rather violent," he mumbled distractedly. "It's always someone getting beheaded or stabbed in the back or a sword in the stomach."
The corner of Gou's mouth tweaked up. "I noticed."
Mikoshiba leaned forward to see what she was reading and Gou fought the urge to move away from him. He was incredibly close, practically leaning over her shoulder, but they were trying to act normal. She forced herself to stay put, despite the fact she could feel his body heat along her upper arm.
He smells like sun and wind.
She closed her eyes in an effort to banish that unruly thought.
"What's this about?"
"T-the Princesss Branwen Mala," said Gou. "She refused her arranged loveless marriage in order to marry the man she was truly in love with!" She clasped her hands together once again, eyes starry.
Mikoshiba's gaze, which had been briefly on her, moved slowly back to the description. He leaned forward further to better read it. His chest brushed against Gou's shoulder. Gou fought to keep her heart beat even.
"It says here on the bottom she was burned to death for her crimes."
Gou closed her eyes very tightly, hands tightening around where she still clasped them. She hadn't read that part yet. "T-the princesses don't seem to get treated very well in the country," she remarked.
"The princes either." Mikoshiba straightened. "I read one of them was caught in bed with a prostitute. He was castrated and hung for it."
"What about the prostitute?"
"She was paid and sent on her way. She was just doing her job after all."
"O-oh." Okay. It occurred to her then what she had talked about with the guys earlier. Mikoshiba's cell phone number! She needed it. She was about to ask him for it when there came a crashing sound somewhere down the next hallway. "I-I hope that's one of yours and not ours."
"It likely is." Mikoshiba turned to walk away then paused as if to say something, but his mouth stopped before he had formed the word. His eyebrows lowered, looking oddly at Gou's clasped hands. Gou blinked, but he moved off without another word, leaving Gou standing there utterly confused.
What was that about?
For the rest of the tour she hardly saw him and anytime she did catch sight of him he was surrounded by his teammates. The one time I actually want him to come up to me is the one time when he doesn't. Gritting her teeth, she waited.
Rin had pretty much ignored her too. He had kept mostly to himself and the only one he appeared to interact at all with was that Nitori boy. Anytime Gou tried to talk to him he would give her a short answer and walk had wanted to mention the ring to him but it looked like he was in a bad mood. She would wait until later.
There was a gift shop at the end of the tour. All of the students were encouraged to go inside and take a look, the guides suggesting they buy something for their relatives back home. They would do something like that, thought Gou, remembering the point Rei had made about the economy yesterday. The more money the students spent the better the host country was.
She searched the gift shop but there was no sign of Mikoshiba. She knew she hadn't missed him. He was a hard guy to miss with his height and hair color when you were trying to find him. Which meant he wasn't in the gift shop. I can't believe I'm hunting him down like…like an actual wife!
She finally ran into Makoto and Haru looking over some figurines of dolphins and orcas. "Have you seen Mikoshiba?"
"Mikoshiba?" Makoto considered for a moment. "I think he's outside."
With an exasperated noise Gou made her way to the exit. Makoto called out after her, "What do you need him for?" Gou raised her hand to her ear in the sign of a phone. "Ah," said Makoto.
She found him quickly once outside. Further down the building, leaning against the wall, punching away a text on his phone. She ran over to him, praying he didn't move before she got to him, and she was puffing by the time she reached him.
"H-hey." She leaned over to catch her breath, so preoccupied with trying to get some oxygen she missed the slightly frigid look he gave her. "Phew." She wiped a hand across her brow. "I've been looking for you. What was that crashing sound earlier?" She had never found out what had caused that noise and didn't want to start the conversation off with asking for his number, thinking that would be short and rude. The Iwatobi boys hadn't been the ones to cause the crash. If it had they would likely be sweating and handing out more money than they had right now. So it had to be someone from Samezuka.
Mikoshiba didn't look at her, his gaze still locked on his phone. "Azuma leaned too far over and knocked over one of those velvet rope restraints," he said. "That's all."
His tone took her back a bit. It was the tone he normally used when speaking with his swim team. His captain's tone. She was not used to him speaking to her with it. "O-oh, I see." She dug into her pocket to try and retrieve her cell phone. "I need uhhh-"
He said it quite suddenly and she paused at the directness of that one word. She blinked. He lowered his phone a bit and looked at her. His gaze was eerily intense, made all the worse by the vividness of his golden eyes. She wasn't sure what to make of it.
It was a moment before he said anything else and when he did speak his tone was still his captain's voice. "That ring on your finger." His words were slow and measured. "I didn't give you one. Who gave it to you?"
Ring? She brought her hand up in front of her face. The ring she had bought yesterday with the pearl was on her hand. But why did he care about something like that? Why does that matt-
With a start she realized and let out an appalled little shriek. Oh my god!
Unwittingly she had placed the ring on her left ring finger. The ring finger of her left hand. Where a wedding ring would go. Suddenly she understood why Haru had been smirking about it yesterday.
"I-I bought it for my mother." Quickly she moved to remove it, switching it to the other hand. She could feel the blood rising in her face. "I never even thought about…Oh God!" Her hands clapped onto her cheeks. She couldn't believe she had missed that. What if her brother had seen it? Then again normally she would never have had to think about something like that before. Normal teenagers generally weren't concerned about which finger they wore their rings on.
Normal teenagers…That was funny.
"Oh." Mikoshiba's gaze was still elsewhere but his face was a little more relaxed than it had been, his eyes losing their intensity. "I see, so that's what it was."
Gou ground the heel of her hand into her forehead. She was so dumb. She really needed to pay attention to things more. She hadn't even been drunk this time! I am going to die from stress in these next three months, I swear! Or I am going to have so many wrinkles people will think I'm old!
"A-anyway, I." She tried to refocus on the present. "I need your number."
Mikoshiba turned his head to look at her, eyebrows creased. "My number?"
"Y-your cell phone number." Gou finally succeed in extracting her phone from her pocket. She held it out to him.
Mikoshiba didn't take it. He looked at the ugly grey phone dangling in the air between them. "Why would you need that?"
Gou rolled her eyes, exasperated. "Just in case I need to get in contact with you, that's why. It will make things easier than forcing Rei to play messenger. If I need to get in contact with you quickly this is the best way." She held the phone out to him again, giving him a pointed look that said 'don't make this any harder than it is, please'.
"Why don't you tell me the number and I'll just call it then?"
Gou closed her eyes and grit her teeth. "Because I don't remember my number. I just got it yesterday." She wiggled the dangling phone. "Just put yours in. Please."
That seemed to do it. That or he finally realized the only way for her to get his number was for him to -punch it in himself. He took the ugly phone from her hand. Gou waited for him to finish, brooding over the ring incident. She still couldn't believe she had missed that. And Haru! He should have said something instead of laughing. Then again if she had been in his situation she might have found it amusing too. The girl who was married, accidentally putting rings on her left ring finger like a wedding ring. A thought occurred to her then and she narrowed her eyes.
Mikoshiba hadn't bought her a ring! He hadn't even given her one, not that he likely had any to give in the first place. He had left her married and ringless! How cheap.
"Here." Mikoshiba held out the phone to her. She took it and flipped it open. "What's your number?" he asked then shook his head, remembering she didn't know it.
"Don't worry, I'm calling you right now."She scrolled through the names, looking for his. Seijuro. He had put his number in her phone by his first name. Gou stared at it for a long moment. Why was seeing that of all things making her blush? Forcing that aside, Gou punched the call button. His phone rang a second later and he pushed the end key, staring down at the screen.
"Good." Gou took a deep breath. It felt like it had taken quite the effort just to get his cell phone number. Then again ever since arriving in this country her days had been crazy. Why would today be any different?
Some of the Samezuka members emerged outside, apparently done with their shopping. They called out to Mikoshiba, who raised his hand in response. "Time to go." He pushed himself off the wall. "Looks like your guys are ready too."
Gou turned. The four boys had emerged from the gift shop. They had seen her but they had not come over, giving her and Mikoshiba privacy. Gou saw a head of brownish red hair pass behind them and Nagisa jumped and twirled around as if he had been shocked. "Rin-chan!" Gou could hear him nearly shouting. "Did you buy anything from the store?"
The blond was bobbing and weaving like a meerkat to block Rin's view. Noticing his predicament, Rei moved stealthily behind Nagisa, blocking the view better with his superior height, keeping his back to the two.
Definitely time to go. Mikoshiba cut across the grass to join his members without having to walk with Gou so by the time got away from Nagisa they were quite far apart and Gou felt safe enough that even if Rin did see them he wouldn't think anything of it.
Nagisa had his hand over his chest when she joined them. "My heart is beating so fast, Rei-chan," he said breathlessly. "It's going ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump."
"You did great, Nagisa-kun!" Rei encouraged him. "Rin never suspected a thing!"
"Yes, it went good this time," said Makoto, frowning after the retreating backs of the Samezuka academy, "but let's hope that doesn't happen too often. I'm not sure if next time we'll get so lucky and Nagisa looks like he might have a heart attack besides."
"If Mikoshiba and Gou act normally they won't have to hide it," pointed out Haru blandly. "If they act no differentially than before why should Rin suspect anything?"
"That's true." Makoto looked at Gou. "I know Mikoshiba and you talked about it earlier but do you really think you can do that?"
She nodded. "Of course. I will definitely do so." For the boys and everyone else she would have to. She didn't want them having to cover for her like that any time Rin was around. It wasn't fair to them. They should be enjoying themselves rather than stressing out over her.
"Let's head back to the lodge, please," said Rei. "I'm feeling awfully depressed after that history tour."
The others laughed a little, though none of them would disagree. Nothing about the history of this country was practically joyful or happy.
"Let's go home and watch Friday the 13th!" Nagisa proclaimed as they started the walk back.
"We aren't watching that!"
"Aw, why not, Rei-chan? Are you afraid of scary movies?"
"I don't want to watch something that depressing! Let's watch a happy movie."
"March of the Penguins," said Haru.
"But that isn't happy at all, Haru-chan!" Nagisa cried. "All then penguins die in that. Haru-chan is so cruel…"
It was getting late by the time they finished the movie. They had spent almost an hour arguing over what to see when first getting to the lodge; no one had seemed able to agree on anything. They had finally settled on 'The Hangover', a movie that made Gou a little uncomfortable considering how it reminded her of…things. At least she hadn't woken up that morning hung over, married and missing a tooth. Or with a tattoo on her face for that matter.
I'm guess I'm lucky in some ways. She snorted.
After the movie Gou went to her lodge for some quiet time away from the boys. As much as she adored them sometimes she had to get away from all the testosterone. She looked forward to when Hana would arrive with the debate team. It would be nice to have another girl around besides Amakata, who Gou adored as well but Amakata was older and a teacher. Gou couldn't exactly hang around her like she could with a girl her own age. She was missing have other girls around. So far she couldn't recall seeing a single girl her age around. It was all guys. Swimming guys with nice muscles. But still. She wanted the company of another female sometimes too.
She had only been in the lodge for a half hour or so when her phone went off. Leaning over, Gou saw a message from Rei flashing on the screen. That was a bit odd. What would Rei have to text her about? She flipped the phone open.
"Please come by the lodge. I must speak to you about something."
Jeez, even his text messages were super proper. Still the wording gave her pause. What would he need to speak to her about and what would be so urgent that he would call her rather than just wait until he saw her tomorrow?
Trying to ignore the worrisome feeling in her stomach, Gou got up and made her way next door to the boys lodge. Rei was waiting for her by the front door. He wasted no time once she entered. "Please come with me."
Gou pursed her lips, but followed him. He led her into the room he shared with Nagisa, who was currently absent. From the sounds of it he was out on the porch with the two other boys trying to get a telescope to work and failing miserably.
Gou was unsurprised to see that half of the room the two boys shared was incredibly clean and immaculate, and the other side peppered with clothing that had been thrown around haphazardly. How Rei dealt with it Gou didn't know, but from the get go he had always been incredibly tolerant with Nagisa. It was likely he let Nagisa get away with things he would never let anyone else get away with. It was pretty endearing.
"I picked up this book from the gift shop." Rei sat down on the bed that looked to be his. If the clean pressed sheets that were carefully tucked in were anything to go by. Nagisa's bed looked like he had thrown the sheets on top of it and hoped gravity would take care of the rest.
Gou leaned in to peer at the book in Rei's hands. 'The Rule of Law'. Gou's eyelids lowered to half mast. Rei would pick out something boring like that to read.
"I wanted to read this because of what was going on with you and…and I found something that might be…important." Rei's mouth was in that line again. Without further ado he turned the book towards Gou for her to read. One of the passages was highlighted. She read it, eyebrows creasing. She couldn't understand the wording, it was so technical. Something about marriage, a wife, a husband, and living arrangements.
"I don't understand what this means, Rei."
Rei lowered the book to his lap. He adjusted his glasses, mouth set even firmer than before. "In this country they have a law," he said carefully after a moment. "This law…it states that a man…a man and woman who are married…they cannot abide in different establishments."
Gou stared at him. She couldn't breathe or move. Her stomach felt like it had dropped through her shoes. Her heart didn't exist anymore.
"In other words," Rei continued, "this means that Mikoshiba and you." His purple eyes lifted to meet Gou's widened dark ones. "You will have to live together."
Gou's knees met the floor painfully.
I'm so sorry Gou-chan! I think this is the meanest I've ever been to a character. Girl can just not catch a break.
Thank you all for your reviews, favorites, and follows! You all are lovely!
I would however like to take a moment to thank a very special and wonderful reader named Darksknight, who has been incredibly supportive no matter what word vomit drivel I manage to spew out. Seriously, I don't deserve fans like you. Whatever nonsensical nonsense I write you always have something kind to say about it and that means a lot to me! I didn't want you to think I hadn't noticed or was ignoring you, because I know that leaving a review as constantly as you do takes a lot of effort! Thank you so much for your kind words, they mean a lot to me!