“Well, well,” Saya awoke to her mother’s voice. “I see that I should have come to check on you two last night after all.”
Saya raised her head, wondering why her pillow was so hard, only to realize that her ‘pillow’ was actually Takashi’s chest. Her face slowly turned red as she realized she had fallen asleep atop him the night before. Then she realized there was a blanket over them.
“M-momma, it’s not what you think,” she stammered, moving to get up.
“Oh, it’s exactly what I think, Saya,” Yuriko teased, then grew serious. “I found you two asleep like that last night. Your father had shared his discussion with Takashi with me so I expected he would be out fairly quickly.” She paused.
“I don’t want you to make a habit of this sort of thing, Saya, but I trust you, and I trust Takashi as well. So does your father. After what you two experienced last night, I decided to let you stay here and merely covered you with a blanket. I did leave the door open however,” she smiled gently.
“I’m sorry,” Saya told her, retrieving her shoes. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep.”
“How did you sleep?” her mother asked.
“I. . .I slept like a baby,” Saya admitted, smiling sheepishly.
“And are you recovered from your terrible ordeal?” Yuriko asked, smiling.
“Ah, yes, Momma,” she nodded, standing. “I am.”
“Good,” her mother nodded. “Wake your beau, then, gently as I suspect he may have a slight headache. We’ll have a late breakfast in twenty minutes.”
“Yes Momma,” Saya nodded as he mother departed, closing the door behind her. She turned to shake Takashi, then changed her mind. Crawling back atop him, she kissed him, stroking his hair gently.
“Wake up, my baka,” she said softly into his ear. “It’s morning time.”
“Hmph, wha?” Takashi came awake. “Saya?”
“Yes, my baka,” Saya smiled. “Good morning, Takashi.”
“Good morning,” he smiled lazily, then groaned. “Oh, man.”
“Headache?” Saya asked him playfully.
“And I need to p-, uh, I need the restroom,” he nodded. She kissed him once more and got up, pulling him up after her.
“Get cleaned up and we’ll have breakfast shortly. I think you have a clean suit of clothes in the closet,” she pointed. “I need to do the same. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
“Good morning Takashi. Good morning, dear,” Yuriko greeted them as they came down the stairs. “We’re having breakfast on the back patio. Here,” she said to Takashi, holding out a glass of water and two tablets.
“For your headache, dear,” she smiled knowingly. “Drink all the water, it’s good for you,” she urged. “I’ll see you outside,” she called, heading for the kitchen.
“Your mother is a saint,” Takashi said as he finished the water.
“Yes, she is,” Saya nodded, hugging him as they walked outside. It was a beautiful day.
“Looks like it will be a good day.”
School began three days later. Saya and Takashi arrived together since there was no point in even pretending they weren’t together anymore. This morning Saeko was with them, Saya having insisted that she ride with them for the first day of school.
“It will do our reputation good to be seen with a senior,” she teased and Saeko stuck her tongue out at her ‘sister’.
“You will both be on your best behavior,” the sword mistress had warned. “Miyamoto may be in your same class or another, but you will likely see her throughout the day. Do not allow her to provoke you. Either of you,” she added to Saya.
“I make you no promises,” Saya muttered.
“Saya, let her do what she will,” Saeko turned serious. “She is not worth either of you being in trouble. Remember your discipline, student,” she frowned.
“Yes, sensei,” Saya stuck her own tongue out and Saeko laughed.
“Have a good day you two,” she said as they parted. “And tell Hirano-kun hello for me,” she added at the last second. Almost shyly.
“Ah, okay,” Takashi nodded. When Saeko was gone, Saya looked at Takashi, smirking.
“ ‘Hirano-kun?’,” they both said at the same time.
“Looks like you were right, Honey Badger,” Takashi grinned. “I think our nee-chan may be interested in ‘Hirano-kun’.”
“For the record, baka, I’m always right,” Saya told him imperiously.
“Yeah, I’d forgot,” Takashi nodded and she slapped his shoulder.
“Dude!” Morita came running up to them in the hallway. “Have you seen Khota? What the hell happened to him? Hey, Saya,” he said to Takagi. “How was your summer?” he asked both before they could answer his first question. “And did you know Miyamoto was held back? Dude, she’s in our class this year,” he warned.
“Do you want us to answer, or just keep listening,” Takashi teased, and Morita looked puzzled for a minute, then laughed.
“Sorry. You can answer if you want,” he shrugged, falling into step with them.
“We’ve seen Khota. Apparently America was a good experience for him,” Takashi nodded.
“Our summer was actually pretty awesome,” Saya answered the second question. “Thanks for asking.”
“And we knew about Miyamoto being held back, but I was hoping she’d be in another class,” Takashi sighed.
“Sorry man,” Morita sympathized.
“Did you get your bike?” Takashi asked.
“Haven’t made up my mind still,” Morita admitted. “But I didn’t spend my money on games. Well, not all of it anyway,” he added.
The three of them met Khota outside their classroom. He was wearing a vest of a type they hadn’t seen before, and carrying a new book bag of a kind they hadn’t seen.
“Nice,” Takashi looked at the bag.
“Thanks, man,” Khota smiled. “How are you guys?” he asked, no hint as to what he meant.
“We’re good,” Takashi nodded.
“Saeko-chan said to tell you ‘hello’ for her,” Saya told him, watching for a reaction.
“She did?” Khota almost smiled but didn’t. “Tell her thank you when you see her, please. And that I return the sentiment.”
“Wait,” Morita looked unbalanced. “Saeko-chan, as in Saeko Busujima, the Ice Queen?” he looked at Khota. “Why is she sending you a hello message?” he almost demanded.
“Have to ask her, man,” Khota shrugged. “And she isn’t an Ice Queen,” he frowned. “She’s very nice, actually.”
“Oh my God!” Morita looked stunned. “You talked to her!”
“Well, yeah,” Khota admitted.
“I. . .Dude,” Morita couldn’t seem to speak. “Dude,” he repeated.
“Calm down, Morita,” Khota patted his shoulder. “It’ll be okay.”
“You spoke to Busujima-senpai and you tell me to calm down,” Morita was shaking his head. “I leave you guys alone for the summer and when I come back, the entire world has shifted on its axis.”
“It’s not that dramatic,” Khota sighed in exasperation. “She’s a friend of theirs,” he pointed to Saya and Takashi. “That’s where I met her. Now calm down, man. You’re drawing attention.”
“Oi,” Morita shook his head again. “I can tell already that this year is going to be something else.”
Rei glared at Saya as she watched her walk into class on Takashi’s arm. Her anger boiled up inside her unchecked until he noticed Hisashi looking at her.
“Rei,” he said quietly. “You can’t still be on this,” he was shaking his head.
She turned back to face front without answering, her face set into a mask. Everything had come apart on her. Everything.
And now Takashi was with Saya and looked. . .happy.
Khota’s new ‘look’ attracted a good bit of attention Takashi was pleased to see. He noticed one or two guys giving his friend the stink eye and recognized them as some of the same students who had bullied Khota the year before. Takashi enjoyed a mental laugh at the idea that either of them, or both of them, would be able to bully Khota again. Wasn’t going to happen.
Takashi studiously avoided both Igou and Miyamoto, not bothering to even look their way. Every time he thought about Miyamoto his stomach turned a little. How had he been so blind?
The first day shook down fairly well, all things considered. Teachers were usually a bit more reserved on the first day, allowing students that one opportunity to ‘catch up’ with each other. After that, things would settle down fairly quickly and the work start.
Takashi had found himself looking forward to school for the first time since. . .well, ever. In just one year his life had turned a complete one-eighty it seemed, and it was all to the better.
This year might be pretty good all around, he decided.
“I still can’t believe you spoke to her,” Morita shook his head as the three of them sat together on the roof, eating lunch. They didn’t know why the roof was open again, and didn’t question it.
“Dude, enough about that,” Khota sounded exasperated. “You make her sound like some kind of ogre. I told you, she is an exceptional woman. Nothing like that at all.”
“Sounds like you like her, man,” Morita sensed blood in the water.
“I do,” Khota said simply.
“Not like you mean,” Khota snorted, shaking his head. “I only spent a short amount of time with her in the company of Takashi and Saya. I thought she was very engaging and extremely intelligent.”
“And beautiful,” Morita added.
“That should be obvious to anyone who can see,” Khota shrugged.
“Enough,” Takashi told Morita, seeing that Khota was becoming aggravated. “Seriously,” he added when Morita was about to complain.
“You guys suck.”
Three weeks after school started, Saeko had her first tournament. With her father out of town on business, it was very important to her that Saya and Takashi attend. They intended to anyway, of course, but at the last minute, Saeko had shyly mentioned to Saya that she would ‘not be disappointed’ if ‘Hirano-kun’ were to accompany them.
“Hirano-kun?” Saya looked at Saeko. “Okay, seriously,” she leaned toward her friend. “Give.”
“What do you mean?” Saeko asked, eyes wide.
“You know exactly what I mean,” Saya would not be deterred. “It seems to me that you are highly interested in ‘Hirano-kun,” she teased gently. “Are you?”
“I. . .I find him. . .intriguing,” Saeko managed to say, her face reddening just a bit.
“I guess seeing him in action sort of whets your appetite?” Saya grinned.
“It’s not that so much as. . .other things,” Saeko sounded hesitant. “Please, do not tease me too much about this,” she asked. “I do not know yet myself what it is I see.”
“I won’t,” Saya promised. “And I’ll make sure he’s there,” she added.
“Because I said so, that’s why,” Saya ordered. “We’ll pick you up at eleven.”
“Saya,” Khota exhaled slowly. “I had planned to do some-” he started but she cut him off.
“Is it medical related?” she demanded.
“Then you’re going,” she finished. “Eleven. Be ready.” With that she walked away, hair swishing behind her. Khota looked at her for a moment before looking at Takashi.
“Thanks for sticking up for me, man,” he said finally.
“Dude, you can’t be serious,” Takashi chuckled, moving down the hall. “They want you there, you may as well go. If you fight it, you’ll just die tired.”
Khota followed, laughing in spite of his misgivings.
“YAY!” Saya screamed as Saeko won the last point of her last match handily. She had not been scored upon at all the entire tournament. Minutes later she received her trophy from the judges, which she held up to the student section of Fujimi high, smiling for them. A round of applause shot through the entire building at that.
“She is very popular,” Khota said, clapping alongside Takashi.
“Yeah,” he agreed. “”Why are you not all right with this?” he asked suddenly. “It’s not like any other guy in school, or hell, out of school for that matter, wouldn’t give one of his balls just to speak to her.”
“I’m not the kind of man someone like her should be around, Takashi,” Khota said grimly. “That’s all.”
“What the hell does that mean?” Takashi demanded. “There’s nothing wrong with you!”
“It’s not important, Takashi,” Khota told him. “Let it go, man.” The look on his face stopped Takashi from pressing the matter, even though he wanted to.
“C’mon!” Saya called over the crowd noise. “Let’s head back to the locker room! As soon as she’s cleaned up and changed we’re going out to eat. She deserves a treat!”
It turned out that Khota and Takashi were ‘unwelcome’ in the locker room, something Saya should have expected. As a result they were leaning against Saya’s car at the nearest exit when Saya and Saeko exited, Saeko carrying her trophy while Saya carried Saeko’s sword bag.
“Yay!” Takashi and Khota cheered, holding their hands up. Saeko blushed slightly, but smiled.
“Thank you,” she nodded gracefully. “I appreciate you coming. All of you,” she added to Khota.
“It was my pleasure,” Khota bowed slightly. “Thank you for inviting me.”
“All right, let’s get this stuff loaded and get going!” Saya ordered. Trophy stored in the trunk, they were soon on their way, Khota sitting in the front with Hari.
“Where are we going?” Saeko asked.
“I’d suggest we not go to the diner,” Khota said, looking back. “Just a thought.” The others laughed, nodding.
“Yeah, probably a good idea,” Takashi sighed. “That’s a shame, too. I really liked that place.”
“Maybe they’ll let us back in one day,” Khota said. “It’s not like we tore the place up or anything.”
They ended up in the mall at a small ‘cake and coffee’ shop that also served hot sandwiches along with traditional fare. Soon all four were eating, celebrating Saeko’s victory.
“You were flawless today, senpai,” Khota complimented. “A thorough destruction of your enemies. Well done,” he raised his glass.
“Thank you, Hirano-kun,” she bowed her head slightly. “I appreciate that.” She noted that Khota had said ‘enemies’ rather than ‘opponents’, but didn’t comment. Not yet.
“You did kick butt,” Saya nodded, watching the by-play as carefully as she could without being obtrusive.
“Absolutely,” Takashi nodded.
“It was a good day,” Saeko nodded. “Not all days are like that.”
“That just means we need to make the most of the good days,” Takashi raised his own glass. “To Saeko!”
“To Saeko!” Khota and Saya echoed. The violet haired girl blushed again, but smiled to them.
The foursome wandered to the arcade after eating. Saeko prevailed upon Khota to ‘engage in alien combat’ with her on the game that Takashi had taught her to play.
“Watch her, man,” Takashi warned with a grin. “She’s a killer.”
“Will do,” Khota promised.
Saeko watched Khota from the corner of her eye as she prepared to play. He stood loose and relaxed, the plastic gun hanging by his side as if it belonged there. She expected him to raise it as the game began, but instead he remained as he was, rolling his shoulders once.
The first alien popped on the screen and before she could think Khota’s gun snapped up and fired once. The computer generated alien dissipated instantly, fading into a mist of pixels. By the time she looked at him, Khota’s gun was already back at his side.
“Wow,” was all she could think to say. He flushed under her scrutiny suddenly, fidgeting.
“Luck,” he said.
“Of course,” she nodded, turning back to the game.
For the rest of the time Khota appeared to struggle to keep up with her. At first she was disappointed, almost angry even, thinking that he was doing so to ‘go easy on her’, or to allow her to get the most kills.
But as the game progressed, she noticed that his shooting proficiency was actually very good, he simply wasn’t taking many shots. It dawned on her as the game ended that Khota wasn’t allowing her to win.
He was hiding his own skill for some reason.
Why would anyone hide their skill at a video game?
“How long have you been playing this game, Hirano-kun?” she asked as they returned the guns to their places.
“Never played it before,” he replied absently, then seemed to think about what he’d said. “I mean, uh, I’ve played similar games, of course,” he added.
“I see,” she nodded. “It was a most enjoyable game,” she added. “Thank you for indulging me.”
“It was my pleasure, senpai,” Khota replied honestly. “You are a skilled warrior.”
Again she sensed that he spoke without thinking, but decided not to press him on that.
“Thank you kind sir,” she bowed, smiling. “Where are Takashi and Saya, I wonder?” she looked around.
“There,” he pointed to where the other couple were emerging from a picture booth.
“Seriously?” she face palmed. “In the day of phone selfies?”
“Well, that does print pictures for you,” Khota observed. “And judging from their flushed faces and accelerated breathing, I’d say they were, ah. . .well,” he trailed off with a weak grin.
“You are very observant, Hirano-kun,” Saeko noted. “I admire that.”
“Thank you, senpai,” he nodded.
“Would you please call me Saeko?” she asked suddenly, almost immediately worrying that she should not have.
“If you will call me Khota,” he surprised her by smiling. It was a nice smile, she noted to herself. It didn’t quite reach his eyes, but still. She wondered why she hadn’t noticed him before.
“I can’t help but wonder why we haven’t met before, Khota,” she mentioned.
“Ah, well, until this year I’m afraid I wasn’t very noticeable, Sen-er, Saeko-chan,” he shrugged. “Not that I’m all that noticeable now, other then when I am in trouble with the police,” he added with a rye grin.
“But if you are a friend of Takashi’s, I should have seen you with him at some point,” she pressed slightly.
“You may have,” he admitted. “Though I’m sure I would remember having met you,” he added. “Again, I wasn’t very noticeable. And after Takashi and Saya began dating, he and I spent very little time together other than school. The first time I was out with the both of them was that night.” He didn’t have to say what night
“That must be why, then,” Saeko nodded. “Did you two take plenty of pictures?” she asked as Takashi and Saya walked up to them.
“A few,” Saya blushed a bit. “Did you kill many aliens?” she grinned.
“A few,” Saeko nodded, smiling. “Khota-san is very skilled,” she added.
‘Khota-san’, ey? Saya thought to herself. Well well.
“Just beginner’s luck and a good partner,” Khota shook his head. “What now?” he asked.
“I need to go home, I’m afraid,” Saeko hated to say the words, true though they were. “I have school work to complete still, and a class to teach tomorrow.”
“You teach as well, then?” Khota asked.
“At my father’s dojo,” she nodded and seized the moment. “You should visit sometime, Khota-san. I think you would find it interesting.”
“Perhaps I will, Saeko-chan,” he nodded. “Though as I said, I know nothing about the sword or it’s disciplines.”
“You can always learn,” she replied calmly. And I could teach you, she didn’t dare add.
“She could teach you, Khota, just like she has us,” Saya nodded, helping her friend without realizing it. Or perhaps she did.
“Hm,” Khota seemed to considering it. “I suppose if I at least knew more about it, I would enjoy your matches more,” he admitted. He didn’t allow his reluctance to show, but his time was limited now days. . . .
“You plan on attending more of them, then?” Saeko asked him. “I would be flattered for you to do so. Assuming you were coming to see me, of course,” she added.
“If I attend such a match, Saeko-san, you may rest assured that you are the only reason I have for doing so,” he smiled. “What time tomorrow?”
“Two o’clock,” Saeko said at once.
“I will do my best to be there,” he promised.
“And on that note, let’s take the champ home,” Saya spoke, though she hated to interrupt these two. “Let’s go.”
So how is it so far? Enjoying the story at all? It’s an old one, like I said, and I’m posting it as I get the chapters cleaned up a bit. Apparently I didn’t pay a lot of attention to spelling back then, lol. Anyway. If you’re enjoying it, drop me a line. I’ve got a few others stories in different fandoms that I found on the same drive as this one, so as I get time I might post them up as well if anyone is interested.
Meanwhile, have a great weekend!