Saya’s driver dropped them at the mall entrance about fifteen until six, Friday afternoon.
“I’ll be close by, Lady Saya,” Hari said softly. “All you need do is call.”
“Thank you,” she smiled sweetly. “We’ll be in the movie until probably eight thirty or so, and then we’ll walk around for a bit. We won’t leave the mall, though,” she added.
“Very good,” he bowed slightly.
Hand-in-hand, the two walked into the mall.
And right into Morita.
“Hey, Takas-” Morita started, then broke off abruptly when he saw Takashi and Saya holding hands.
“I knew it!” he exclaimed, then immediately calmed down.
“A pleasure to see you both,” he bowed. “Hello Takashi, Takagi-san.”
“Hey, Morita,” Takashi was scrubbing the back of his neck with his free hand.
“Hello,” Saya smiled slightly. They had known this would happen, but neither had expected it right here in the entrance way.
“Ah, well. . .” Morita had run out of things to say that wouldn’t be considered offensive. “I guess I’ll just. . .be on my way, then,” he smiled. “Have a good evening.”
“Morita,” Takashi started, but his friend held up a hand.
“Dude, I promised. Not a word,” he said solemnly. “And I’m very happy for you both,” he added with sincere smile to Saya.
“Thank you,” she smiled back and Morita almost swooned.
“See you later,” Morita said over his shoulder as he moved away.
“I would never have imagined him to be so. . .”
“Friendly?” Takashi smiled at her as the two resumed their trek to the theater. “He’s a good guy. He’s just focused on girls. But if he wasn’t, someone would just wonder why.”
“I never thought of it like that,” Saya admitted.
“The important thing is, he won’t go around running his mouth,” Takashi told her. “Since he and I are friends, people will be running to him wanting the ‘dirt’ on you and me, and he’ll tell them it’s none of their concern.”
“Usually he wouldn’t hesitate to tell anything he knew,” Saya pointed out and Takashi nodded his agreement.
“That’s true, but he’s my friend. He’ll do what he says.”
“It doesn’t matter anyway,” Saya said with a happy sigh. “We expected this and planned for it. Let’s just enjoy it, now.”
“I am in complete agreement with you, my little Honey Badger,” he grinned down at her.
“Shut up! Baka!” she slapped his shoulder lightly as the two got into line. It was longer than they had expected but moved quickly. Takashi got them tickets, then they stood in line to get popcorn and a soft drink to share. Soon they were watching comic book superheroes come to life, battling with each other.
Before they were a quarter way through the show, Takashi’s arm was around Saya’s shoulders, and she had snuggled into him.
“Not a bad movie,” Takashi said as they walked out of the theater into the mall.
“The CGI wasn’t too bad,” Saya admitted. “The only women are decked out in tight, revealing leather, though,” she sighed. “As if that would be comfortable.”
“How would you know?” he asked, grinning.
“Shut up!” she blushed. “It’s not like all women look like that, anyway,” she added.
“You’d look just fine in something like that,” Takashi told her. She spluttered at him when she heard that, not able to think of a suitable reply.
“You would,” he nodded firmly. “Of course, I’d have to kill anyone but me who saw you in it,” he added calmly, and she ‘eeped’ in surprise, her hand coming to cover her mouth as she realized she’d said it out loud.
“Stop doing that!” she scolded playfully, slapping his shoulder again. “Stop making me do that!”
“Want some ice cream?” he asked her. She considered that for a minute.
“I’d share a milkshake, maybe,” she decided.
“Chocolate?” he asked, eyes twinkling.
“Works,” she grinned. Soon they were in line, waiting for a small milkshake. They took a table near the entrance and sat down, each sampling the treat.
“That’s good,” Saya almost moaned. “Chocolate is just. . .the cure for almost all things wrong in the world,” she sighed.
“I’ll try and remember that,” Takashi grinned. “At least I know it’s the way to your heart.” Saya flushed at that, then turned serious.
“You could have shown up in swimming trunks empty handed and I wouldn’t have cared less,” she told him honestly. “I. . .I heard you talking to Poppa,” she admitted to him for the first time. “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t. . .I had to hear,” she looked up to see him smiling. “I really, really wanted to be that girl, Takashi. I had to hear.”
“Well, I don’t mind that you heard,” he told her. “I didn’t say anything to him that I wouldn’t say to you.”
“My baka,” she said softly and leaned in to him. She almost kissed him before she remembered where they were. She pulled away, looking around them.
“I don’t think anyone in here is watching us,” he grinned. “But it is awful public. Try this instead,” he lifted the cup, placing the straw on her bottom lip.
Saya took a sip from the straw, doing her dead level best to be as seductive as she knew how to, which wasn’t much she admitted. She could tell by his facial expression that it had worked, though.
“Saya,” he started, but she placed a finger on his lips.
“No, no,” she shook her head. “We can tease, we can talk, but not about that. Not yet. Not for a long while, Takashi. It’s not that I don’t. . .I mean that I. . .” she broke off, not knowing how to proceed.
“I was going to say the same thing,” he helped her. “This has to be perfect,” Takashi said earnestly. “I’ve already made too many mistakes, Saya. I won’t make any more.”
“What mistakes?” Saya frowned.
“I made a promise to the wrong girl,” he smiled and was rewarded with a beautiful smile. “But I fixed that, finally.”
“Yeah, you did,” she nodded. Takashi looked at his watch.
“Almost nine,” he told her. “I think this place is open till ten tonight, but. . .truth is, I don’t want to abuse your mother’s rules. Why don’t we head to your house?”
“That sounds like a plan,” she nodded. “We can play a game or watch another movie at home.” She pulled out her phone and sent a text to Hari, who replied at once that he would be waiting at the same entrance.
They held hands all the way back, and half-way there Saya leaned against him and put her head on Takashi’s shoulder, hugging his arm to her.
“Takashi, I’ve had a really nice time,” she told him as they neared the door.
“So have I,” he agreed. “We’ll do it again, soon.”
“What do you want to do tomorrow?” she asked.
‘Tomorrow’ found them in a park not far from Takagi’s house, a nice area with a fountain in it’s center and a shrine on a nearby hilltop. The two carried a blanket and a picnic basket that Saya had prepared under the watchful eyes of the Takagi’s cook. They found a nice place on a small rise, with a good combination of shade and sun.
“Here okay?” Saya asked and Takashi nodded. She spread the blanket on the ground and the two settled onto it, enjoying the sun and each other’s company.
“My father has arranged for us to meet with his old sensei on Monday,” Saya told him. “Kage Busujima. He is of Samurai descent himself and acknowledged as one of the finest sword masters in Japan. We’re very lucky to get a chance to talk to him.”
“We wouldn’t be if not for your dad,” Takashi nodded. “Busujima,” Takashi mused. “Where have I heard that name?”
“Probably at school,” Saya replied. She rolled onto her side so she could look down at him as he lay on the blanket. “His daughter, Saeko Busujima is on the Kendo team. I think she placed second in nationals this year. Probably be team captain next year. She’s a junior.”
“Could be, but. . .” he stopped suddenly as he realized where he’d heard her name. He bit back a laugh and ended up choking.
“Are you okay?” Saya asked, concerned.
“Yeah,” he told her, nodding as he managed to get his coughing under control. “I just realized where I heard the name, that’s all.”
“Where?” she demanded.
“Well, Morita has a list of the top ten most attractive girls at Fujimi,” he laughed. “Her name is on the list, I think. I’m almost sure I’ve heard him talk about her. Does she have a blue streak in her hair? Wears it really long?”
“I think so,” Saya nodded. “Why are you interested in that, baka!” she demanded suddenly. “And why would you know who’s on his stupid list!” She paused and her eyes narrowed.
“Am I on that list, Takashi?” she asked gently, not fooling him for a minute.
“Lets see,” Takashi pondered. “Okay, in order of asking; I’m not interested in the list, but it’s impossible to be around Morita for more than two minutes without knowing about it. And I know who’s on it, well mostly, because I hear it recited at least three times a week as he changes it to suit his whims. Can’t hear that over and over and not remember at least some of it. And finally,” he smiled brightly, “you are always in the top three on his list. But you’re the only girl on mine.” He kissed her suddenly, striking like a cobra.
“I better be,” she warned him but her eyes were shining. “I should have known Morita would have a list like that,” she shook her head.
“Ah, it’s just his way of paying homage,” Takashi shrugged. “If any one of them gave him so much as a kind word, he’d be their servant forever I’m sure. He’s not creepy about it, really, just. . .”
“Perverted?” Saya offered.
“I was going to say dreaming,” Takashi shook his head. “He’s not as lucky as I am,” he told her, looking into her eyes. “See, I got the girl on my list. He’s still looking.”
“Baka,” Saya said softly and leaned into him, kissing him soundly despite the public setting.
“What are you doing here!” a female voice demanded, and just like that their good day turned sour. Both turned to see Rei Miyamoto and Hisashi Igou standing not too far away from them, glaring. Well, Rei was glaring.
“Public park, Miyamoto,” Saya told her, not bothering to move. “Open to anyone. We’re having a picnic. Which you seem intent upon ruining,” she added acidly.
“Tak-, Komuro-san,” Hisashi nodded to Takashi. Takashi nodded back but didn’t bother to speak.
“So you two are dating now?” Rei demanded.
“As a matter of fact, we are,” Saya replied, still not moving from her spot.
“I should have known,” the older girl tossed her hair.
“Should have,” Saya prodded just a little. “Don’t let us keep you from whatever you’re doing, though,” she smiled sweetly, though it didn’t reach her eyes. “Carry on,” she made a shooing motion with her had.
“Since we’re here, we need to speak to Takashi!” Rei shot back.
“I told you, it’s Komuro-san,” Takashi spoke finally. “And whatever it is I don’t want to hear it. We aren’t bothering you, so please respect that and return the favor. There is nothing between any of us anymore.”
“Don’t you ignore me!” Rei shouted, and Hisashi frowned as he noted they were drawing the attention of the others in the park.
“Rei,” he took her arm in his hand. “Lets not be so loud. We’re attracting attention.”
“I don’t care!” Rei practically shouted, jerking her arm from his grip. “I want to know what they’re doing here!”
“Already told you, Miyamoto, we’re having a picnic,” Saya sounded bored. “Yes, Takashi and I are dating. Yes, we’re here together. Yes, we’re on a date today. Yes, yes, yes. We are here, enjoying the park, just like everyone else. You should try it. This really is a nice place.”
“Shut up Takagi!” Rei shouted again and Hisashi tried again to rein her in.
“Rei, we’re attracting attention!” his voice sounded strained. “I can’t get into any more trouble, Rei!” he added softly, but Takashi heard it.
“You wouldn’t be in trouble to start with if not for them!” she retorted, again pulling her arm roughly from his grasp.
“What seems to be the trouble here?” a new voice cut in. A woman’s voice. Takashi turned to see. . . .
“Minami-sama?” he asked more than said. Rika Minami was in civilian clothes, as was her partner, Taijima. Both were carrying folding chairs and a lunch cooler.
“Who are you?” Rei demanded, turning to Rika.
“Miyamoto-san, don’t. . .” Takashi tried to stop her, but was too late.
“I’m Sergeant Minami of the SAT,” Rika replied evenly, one eyebrow raising. “I’m technically off duty, but then we’re always police officers. Something you should know, Miss Miyamoto. Your father is Inspector Tadashi Miyamoto, correct?”
“Y-y-yes,” Rei stammered, realizing suddenly that she had made a severe error.
“So, let me ask again; what seems to be the problem?” Rika’s voice conveyed the fact that she expected an answer.
“There is no problem, Minami-sama,” Takashi had risen and now bowed slightly. “We apologize if we have given offense or created any kind of scene. Please excuse us.”
“Takashi, what are-” Saya murmured, but he shook his head as he took her hand, and she fell silent.
“Well, don’t let us keep you,” Rika told Hisashi and Rei, who bowed and then hurried away. Once they were gone, Rika turned to Takashi.
“Kid, why are you always taking the blame for someone else?” she teased.
“Character flaw, I suppose,” Takashi shrugged, then grinned. “Saya, you remember Minami-sama and Taijima-sama don’t you?”
“Of course,” she nodded, smiling. “Hello.”
“Takagi-san,” Rika nodded to her. “Well, they probably won’t bother you again. I can’t believe Igou would try to start something, especially in public like this,” she shook her head.
“He wasn’t, Minami-sama,” Takashi told her.
“Call me Rika-san, Takashi,” she smiled.
“Hai, Rika-san,” Takashi nodded. “Rei was the one who was causing a scene. Hisashi was trying to reel her in. He did say that he couldn’t get into more trouble.”
“Definitely in his best interests,” Rika nodded sagely. “Well, you two carry on,” she smiled. “We will too. Good seeing you again, but we really need to stop meeting like this, kid.”
“I agree Mi-Rika-san,” Takashi smiled. “Perhaps next time at the mall?”
“Sounds good,” she laughed. “See you later.” The two police officers moved on and Takashi and Saya sank back onto their blanket.
“Well, that’s a good way to kill a good mood,” Saya said drily.
“Don’t let it,” Takashi told her. “Forget them. It’s about us, that’s all.”
“When did you get so smart?” Saya asked.
“When I realized what I was missing,” he didn’t miss a trick.
School on Monday saw Hisashi Igou back in class. Most of the students kept clear of him and Takashi could tell it wore on the other teen but. . .that’s wasn’t his doing. Takashi still had said nothing about Hisashi to anyone other than his talk with Morita and Khota before Rei had intruded.
News that he and Saya were ‘dating’ spread through the school like wildfire, however, prompting Morita to come to Takashi between classes late in the morning.
“Dude, I swear, I said nothing,” he promised as soon as he opened his mouth. “Someone else had to have seen you.”
“It’s all right, Morita,” Takashi assured him. “We aren’t hiding it. I’m glad you were the first one to see us,” he added with a smile. Morita perked up.
“Really,” Takashi nodded firmly. “You’re my friend. If anyone should know, it’s you.”
“Thanks, Takashi,” Morita said seriously. “That. . .that means a lot.”
“No sweat, man,” Takashi slapped his friend’s arm. “Now, I gotta get to class. See you at lunch?”
“You aren’t eating with Takagi-san?” Morita looked puzzled.
“Hello, Takagi-san,” Shizuka beamed as Saya walked by her office. “How are you today?”
“I’m well, Shizuka-sensei, thank you,” she smiled back. “How are you?”
“I’m fine,” the blonde sing-songed. “My friend Rika told me she saw you and Komuro-kun at the park, Takagi-san,” she mock teased. “Anything I should know, hmm?”
“We’re dating,” Saya blushed a bit but didn’t look away.
“I think that’s wonderful,” Shizuka said seriously. “It was so obvious to me that you were the girl he was trying to stay out of trouble for, Takagi-san. I hope you two are very happy with each other!”
“T-thank you, Shizuka-sensei,” Saya managed not to stammer too badly. “I appreciate that. And yes, Takashi has worked very hard to change his ways. I’m very proud of him,” she said, realizing it was the truth.
“You should be,” Shizuka nodded. “And you are good for him, Takagi-san, if you don’t mind me saying,” she almost whispered as others were walking down the hall.
“You really think so?” Saya asked, face going redder still.
“I know so,” Shizuka pronounced. “I can see how your influence has helped him mature, and begin to grow into a fine young man. He already was a fine young man in my opinion, of course, but even I can see how being around you is better for him.”
“Thank you, Shizuka-sensei,” Saya actually bowed to her. “I sincerely appreciate that and hope you are correct.”
“Oh, I am,” Shizuka reverted to her usual ‘act’ at that point. “Trust me, I know these things! Now,” she grew serious again. “If things. . .progress, let us say, you know that you can come to me, right? Even just to talk. Sometimes a girl doesn’t want to discuss things like that with her mother or her friends. Anything you and I speak of stays between us. Just remember.”
“That-that-I’m-we’re-thank you I will but that’s not something we’re-I have to get-thank you Shizuka-sensei,” Saya bowed again as she stammered through her. . .statement.
“Have a nice day!” Shizuka beamed, going into her office as Saya went on her way.
“Oi,” Saya almost sweat dropped. “What a conversation that would have to be,” she murmured to herself.
But a talk like that was a long way off.
Saya was in the library for lunch as usual when Rei walked in. Stalked would be a better way to put it, probably. Saya noted her arrival but continued working, reading as she usually did. She and Takashi had elected not to change their routines for lunch for now, agreeing that this was better. Neither was interested in school day PDA for the consumption of others.
“Takagi,” Rei’s voice broke into Saya’s reading. She looked up at the red head, eyebrow raised.
“Stay away from Takashi,” Rei said flatly.
“Go to hell,” Saya replied sweetly. “I don’t take orders from you, Miyamoto, and you of all people have no right to say anything about who spends time with Takashi. Now, run along and find your boyfriend. I hear he’s back in school today. You likely have Takashi to thank for that, by the way. Though I doubt either of you will appreciate what he’s done for you.”
And with that Saya returned to her book, ignoring Miyamoto entirely. Saya had seen the librarian watching them and she knew the woman would descend on them shortly if they didn’t stay quiet.
“I’m warning you,” Rei almost growled.
“Hm, hmm,” was Saya’s only reply.
Without warning Rei’s hand shot out, sweeping the books in front of Saya off the table and onto the floor.
“Are you insane?” Saya looked at her.
“Here you!” the librarian was moving toward them. “You there, I want your school badge!” she pointed to Miyamoto.
“I was just leaving,” Rei told her.
“Not until I know who you are!” the librarian told her. Suddenly Rei seemed to realize what she had done.
“I, it was, it was an accident!” she stammered.
“No it wasn’t,” the librarian shook her head. “ID, now,” she snapped her fingers. Flinching, Rei produced her school identity card, and was then forced to follow the librarian as she carried the card to her office.
Saya watched them go, then picked the books up and returned them to the table. She frowned as she thought over what had just happened.
Was Rei Miyamoto coming unhinged, or what?
“She what?” Takashi’s voice was so flat and emotionless that Saya blinked for a minute, losing her focus.
“Calm down, Takashi,” she ordered. They were in her car, on their way to their meeting with Kage Busujima. “The librarian took her card, so she’s already being punished for it. Leave it lie.”
“Why does she care that we’re together?” Takashi asked aloud. “It shouldn’t matter to her.”
“Obviously she’s jealous,” Saya shrugged, squeezing his hand in hers. “She’s realized that she messed up.”
“That’s too bad,” Takashi was shaking his head. “Does. . .does she think. . .what, that after all this it will go back like it used to be?”
“Who knows what she’s thinking,” Saya shrugged again. “Who cares?”
“I care, if it means she’s becoming a threat to you, Saya!” Takashi surprised her. “I mean, what happened between me and Igou is one thing, but. . .this is something else!”
“Is it?” Saya asked him calmly. “Takashi, do you think boys have the market cornered on fighting? Girls get into it every day.”
“You’re not just any girl,” Takashi was shaking his head again.
“No, I’m your girl,” she leaned over and kissed his cheek. “And you’re worried about me, which is very sweet. But don’t. I can handle Miyamoto.”
“She’s on the sojutsu team, Saya, and her parents have taught her to use a spear since she was big enough to hold one,” his concern was palpable. “Not to mention Igou has probably taught her stuff. Don’t underestimate her, especially as unhinged as she’s acting.”
“I’ll be fine, Takashi,” Saya tried to assure him. “She’s in enough trouble now that she likely won’t confront me anymore anyway. The librarian was angry, and she knows me. I’ve been taking my lunch there for over a year, always behaving and reading quietly. It won’t be a problem.”
“All right,” Takashi nodding his head. “Just promise me you’ll be careful,” he couldn’t help add.
“I will,” she kissed his cheek again as the car pulled into a drive.
“I need to go and get fuel, Lady Saya,” Hari said as he opened the door. “Will that be all right while you and Mister Komuro are here?”
“No, that’s fine, Hari-san,” Saya smiled at him. “Thank you.”
“Of course, Lady Saya,” the man bowed. “I will return and be waiting as soon as possible.”
He watched the two be received at the door before departing. Young Mister Komuro was definitely good for Lady Saya. He hadn’t seen her smile so much at one time in years.
He decided he would like Mister Komuro.