Mai-HiME Fan Fiction ❯ An heir's responsibility ❯ Chapter Six ( Chapter 6 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of characters used. All are licensed to their respective owners. I am not making any money through authorship of this fic.
And we're back at the cafÃ©…
Nao, after a lot of aimless driving around, finally caught a glimpse of Shizuru's composed form waiting outside the cafÃ©.
“Bingo! Hey Shizuru!! I finally found you!,” the redhead yelled out of her S.U.V.
Natsuki who was just coming out of the cafÃ© to see what happened to her fiancÃ©e and idiot cousin, heaved a sigh as she watched Nao haphazardly park the large truck in the nearest empty space.
“You don't need to go yelling down the neighbourhood you know,” Natsuki said as the redhead jogged over to them.
“That's all I get? No how are you Nao? Or did something happen, are you alright?”
“I already know that something happened. You got lost because you didn't write the address down didn't you?”
“Well yeah, ok so I did that, but then I remembered! I got here fine didn't I?”
“Shizuru sent you a phone message saying where we were didn't she?”
Nao shifted her weight from foot to foot and refused to look Natsuki in the eye.
“Look, we can stand here and pick this whole situation apart in detail or we could just go in…”
Natsuki rolled her eyes.
“Alright, but be nice to her friends will you? These people already know we're related.”
Nao nodded before bounding into the cafÃ©.
Shizuru put a hand on Natsuki's shoulder to stop her from following Nao straight away.
“Was everything alright in there? Haruka wasn't mean to you was she?” Shizuru asked with a smile and her usual laughing eyes.
“Yes, everything's fine now.”
“Yeah, but uh… it was fine before too. Come on lets go inside, remember we've left Nao alone with members of the general public around.”
Shizuru, nodded and accepted this answer, before letting Natsuki pull her into the cafÃ©.
When they reached their table, the scene was unexpectedly awkward…
Yukino and Haruka were still seated together with the latter's head comfortably on Yukino's shoulder and Reito was sitting beside them.
All the while, three sets of eyes were looking in the direction of a quiet couple.
A young man had walked over and was now staring at a wordless Nao, who was staring back.
Natsuki cocked her head at the scene. “How long have they been like this?,” she asked the three on the seats.
“Since the redhead walked in,” Haruka replied. “The guy just came over and they started staring at each other. Hey, where's your cousin?”
Natsuki pointedly looked back over at the couple who was having a staring match.
Shizuru and Reito just observed the scene with no trace of emotion that could be read on their features.
Natsuki's right eye developed a nervous twitch and she shot her cousin a horrified look. Just in the way the young man said the name, with the soft look in his eyes, the gentle breathing…
`Please tell me he's not one of those…'
“I've been waiting for you to call… what happened? Did you lose my number?,” the young man asked.
Haruka and Yukino's eyebrows shot up and Natsuki cringed.
`Not good,' thought Natsuki. `This is definitely not of the good…'
Nao gave out a sort of nervous giggle and started rubbing her neck in an awkward pose as the young man continued.
“I haven't been able to stop thinking about you, that night, we watched the sunset and talked about our dreams... I would have called you but I had no number… and you only gave me your first name. Look this may seem rather forward of me but…”
Someone cleared their throat and a melodic male voice decided to present itself to the company.
“Excuse me, my name is Reito Kanzaki, may I ask how you know my fiancÃ©e?”
Nao looked around at the group before her.
`Lesbian couple, stalker guy, lesbian couple, random dark haired guy, me… (!)… Hey! I must be the fiancÃ©e! Unless Natsuki… no wait, it's definitely me. Hmm, sneaky dark haired guy. Very sneaky.'
Haruka rolled her eyes and Yukino stifled a laugh… Natsuki nearly died and as for Nao… calling her expression one of immense relief would be the understatement of the century.
`There he goes doing the gentlemanly thing again,' thought Shizuru. `Just like my Natsuki puppy would do for me… except we're actually engaged.'
The latter thought had the girl lose her public composure just slightly as she grinned at the thought of her fiancÃ©e and found herself lost in her own sweet little world.
“Reito, I apologise for not introducing you sooner,” said Nao … `On the grounds that I had no idea what your name was…,' she continued in her head.
“F..fiancee?,” the disappointed young man stuttered.
“Yes,” confirmed Reito. “It was rather… quickly decided.”
“But… I couldn't resist his offer and here we are… engaged,” Nao continued as she meandered over and linked her arm through Reito's.
The young man gave Nao and Reito a bow and a disappointed smile.
“Mr. Kanzaki, I apologise. I had no idea that she was now spoken for. Please forgive my intrusion.”
The young man then walked away with head bowed and eyes to the floor.
Nao turned to Reito, smacked him on the shoulder and sat down.
“Thanks for that! I guess I owe you one. So, have we ordered?"
“Nao…,” began Natsuki.
“Before you giving me your no doubt pre-planned speech Natsuki, take a moment and remember… I'm your cousin and I love you very much.”
Natsuki gritted her teeth and was about to lay into her cousin when a familiar aggressive tone reached her ears.
Haruka had stood up and was now circling Nao like a hungry shark would a bleeding seal.
`Oh crap here we go,' thought Natsuki.
“Now listen here Kuga, I have no problem with you, but this girl…,” Haruka began before being interrupted.
“Your name is idiot! Did you see the way that man looked at you?”
“Well yeah… he was only standing over there,” Nao answered Haruka's question with `Duh' written on her forehead.
Natsuki sat next to Yukino and the two sighed together.
“That's not what I asked you! Pay attention!,” Haruka said as she started flapping her arms around.
“Yes it was…”
“No it wasn't!”
“Yes it was!”
“Just shut up will you! This kind of behaviour is unacceptable! It seems to me that you completely led that man on! He looked like he was in love with you!”
“Listen blondie… I don't know why you're flapping your arms like that, or how any of this is your business but I know what the love look, looks like and that man was not in love with me we only met like that one time…”
“Of course he was! He gave you the look! The same one Natsuki here keeps giving our bubuzuke woman, and don't talk time equals love with me, I mean hello, look at Shizuru now. And besides, when I first met my Yukino, I nearly spilled tea on her father's lap, she became the owner of my heart that quickly.”
Yukino blushed as she and the rest of the group all looked over at Shizuru who had a serene smile on her face as she stared at the mayonnaise puppy.
`When did this turn out to be about me?' Natsuki thought while massaging her temples. `And what's this look I apparently give Shizuru?'
Noticing that the group was looking at her, then at her fiancÃ©e, Natsuki frowned, unsure of whether she was comfortable with whatever it was Haruka was about to do.
“There stands the heir to the Fujino corporation,” the blonde stated. “Let us observe.”
Haruka took Natsuki by the shoulders and moved her a little to the left.
Shizuru followed the moving vision of Natsuki…
“Hey, what are you doing?,” Miss mayo-pup asked.
“Shh, you'll spoil my little love demonstration experiment.”
`What in the hell?' … “Your love…”
`Geez. This is me, Natsuki Kuga, recently renamed fluffy wolfy, mayonnaise puppy and now, voiceless prop for insane love experiment. What the hell was I thinking bringing Nao of all people?'
Shooting the redhead an evil glare, she relaxed her muscles and let the high-strung blonde lead her around the place.
Haruka then moved Natsuki back over the right and the group watched as a daydreaming Shizuru followed the sight of the girl not only with her eyes but with her whole head.
“Haruka sweetheart, I think they get the point,” Yukino said.
The blonde smiled.
“Then I've done well. You see Nao Kuga? That is the look of love, and that young man, was aiming it toward you. And now, to break the trance. Everyone sit down… are we ready for Shizuru to return to normal?”
Natsuki was the only one who nodded her head. She was very very ready for the whole situation to return to normal.
Haruka positioned her hand on top of the tea kettle that sat on the table before she smirked and cleared her throat.
“Would anyone like a cup of…”
Within seconds Shizuru was at the table, poised and ready to pour.
“I'll take care of this for you Haruka, why don't you take a seat at the table?,” a smiling Shizuru asked. “So… would anyone like a cup of tea?”
Nao sat at the table, in deep contemplation of her actions.
`Must never, ever make anyone fall in love with me like that ever again. The price to pay…'
She looked over at a pleased looking Haruka.
`… it's just too much…'
As the atmosphere at the cafÃ© finally turned comfortably calm with Natsuki no longer shooting Nao `I'm going to kill you when we get home' looks, Yukino decided to finally bring up the subject for today's lunch date.
“Shizuru, I take it you are aware of your father's plans for tomorrow night?”
“I am. My engagement is going to be announced to his associates.”
Haruka nodded and couldn't resist flashing a smile in the direction of her friend who was now trying to place bits of muffin into Natsuki's mouth.
The younger girl of course, was a nice shade of light pink.
Yukino frowned at Shizuru's apparent lack of worry about the event.
“Shizuru… it's your engagement announcement, but you two have only known each other for… a few weeks is it?”
Nao gave a quick laugh.
“A few weeks? These guys properly met like, yesterday.”
“And you're already engaged? Usually for these arranged marriages… the couple waits at least a few months in order to get to know each other…”
Natsuki nearly choked on the latest piece of muffin Shizuru had deposited into her mouth.
Nao grinned and elbowed her.
“Whoa, sure jumped the gun there didn't you cousin of mine?”
“A… few months? Kyoto-ben… did these people say… a few months?,” asked a startled Natsuki as soon as the piece of muffin had dislodged itself from her throat.
Shizuru merely smiled and stroked the girl's back.
“Well, my father and I only came to your place so we could have our first meeting and get to know each other… but then someone decided to propose… and here we are… or don't you remember our first night together?,” Shizuru asked with a pout.
Reito's eyebrows went up and the young man placed a hand over his mouth to try and hide a grin and a chuckle.
“Well Shizuru, you do surprise me,” Haruka said with a blush of her own.
Natsuki ignored the other two, moved closer to her fiancÃ©e and wrapped an arm around her.
“Of course I remember our first night Shizuru we…,” Natsuki stopped as soon as she figured out the others were unconsciously looking at them.
“We… had a very restful night's sleep together,” she finished.
Shizuru took the opportunity to nuzzle into her fiancÃ©e's neck.
“Yes, well that's all fine and dandy Shizuru,” Haruka began. “But how is a night of snuggles and cuddles going to help this girl through a press conference?”
`Haruka says snuggles and cuddles? And fine and dandy?,' thought Natsuki.
Nao stared at her cousin and waited for the kaboom reaction.
“Hey! What the heck do you mean press conference?!”
`There she goes,' thought Nao.
“You haven't told her?,” Haruka asked surprised. “Fujino, you're not usually so inconsiderate.”
“I was planning to…” said Shizuru with a puppy-eyed look at Natsuki. “But we… always just end up being so busy with something else…”
“Shizuru!,” Natsuki whined. “You're hinting at things that should not be hinted at! And what's the deal with this press conference?”
“Don't worry Kuga, it's not like it sounds. It's not a normal press conference during which celebrities get interviewed while they seem to be being judged. In this particular setting, you will actually be being judged. But don't worry, there's a great party afterwards,” Haruka said.
Yukino gave her wife a pat on the back. Haruka in comforting mode always meant well but almost always overshoots her mark… well past comforting and straight back into disturbing.
Natsuki's troubled twitch returned and Nao poked her cousin.
“Hey? Are you breathing?,” the redhead asked worriedly.
Haruka looked confused.
“Didn't what I said comfort you?”
Natsuki didn't reply and Shizuru went back to stroking the girl's back.
“Umm, maybe I could try explaining,” said Yukino.
“The reason this announcement is held in such high regard, is because the conference is kind of a look into the future for the associate businesses. They're able to judge what kind of couple will be leading the corporation in future years. If the partnership does not seem strong, or if the suggested fiancÃ©e seems incapable, the engagement is revoked and another match arranged.”
When Yukino finished speaking, Haruka decided to try her hand at another comforting comment.
“But it's never been a problem for any of the top businesses as the match ups are decided years before the marriages. Each candidate is adequately groomed. And you are a Kuga aren't you Natsuki? It shouldn't be a problem for you at all.”
Natsuki nodded mutely.
`Being rich is hard,' she thought with a furrowed brow. `Wait no, it's only because its me. Tate would have done fine…'
Shizuru took Natsuki's hand and held it to her chest.
“Don't worry puppy. I'll be with you, we'll be fine together ok?”
“But what if they say I'm not good enough? Then maybe… Tate will have to marry you… and what will happen to M... m… to Mai?”
Nao watched her cousin closely. Never had she seen Natsuki ever look this… upset.
Of course there was that one time when someone told her that excessive mayonnaise consumption lead to heart failure… Natsuki stayed in her room for a week.
Just sitting in the dark debating the pros and cons of keeping up her addiction… but luckily that little issue passed without huge concern… apart from that whole continuing health hazard thing of course.
Now she looked as if she was in danger of losing something more important…
`More important than mayo?!,' Nao thought with wide eyes and two raised eyebrows.
`But it's Natsuki…,' Nao didn't know whether to smile or frown at the thought.
`Wow, you sure got it bad for this girl. And as your cousin, I vow to help.'
“I'll help!,” Nao declared. “Don't worry! We'll groom you into the perfect candidate who will be able to help oversee both the Kuga and Fujino corporations! How long do we have?”
“I'd give us about twenty-four hours,” said Yukino dejectedly.
“Ok!,” said Nao. “Natsuki, lend me one of your guns and I'll see what I can do!”
Natsuki lay her head down in her fiancÃ©es lap and Shizuru gently stroked her hair.
Yukino and Haruka's explanations seem hit home the importance of this event for the both of them.
The group remained silent for a moment before Haruka let out a kind of annoyed roar.
“Right, enough of this. Listen Fujino, you just get that Kuga of yours to stop sulking like that. Your corporations might be number one and number two but don't you forget you also have the Kikukawa-Suzushiro's here!”
“And me,” said Reito.
“And him,” agreed Haruka. “But I want you to mostly concentrate on the fact that I'm here.”
Reito rolled his eyes and Yukino gave him an apologetic glance.
“Obviously we'll always stick with you and we are at least ranked fifth in the business scheme of things. Our support should at least sway some votes over.”
“Oh my God, there's a vote? An actual physical vote? What is this some sort of election? What's the damn point of having an arranged marriage if there's a vote at the end?,” asked a rather flustered and nervous Nao.
The redhead was not at all comfortable with the state of her cousin's future.
“As we said before… it's usually just a formality… a formality in which there's an actual physical vote…”
“Alright then, election it is,” said Nao. “All we have to do is make our candidate seem like the best choice for the job.”
Yukino nodded and started to smile at this suggestion.
“Yes, Haruka and I just went through the same thing recently, so we could quiz you on how to best deal with each member of the associate board.”
Haruka nodded vigorously.
“This is not an election you are going to lose Kuga!”
Natsuki finally lifted her head off Shizuru's lap and gave a smile that signalled the return of her true self.
She looked around at the concerned faces around her and gave them all a determined nod.
“So, since I happen to have in front of me, a crack election team, tell me, what do I have to do to get the girl?”
Shizuru beside her gave a gentle laugh.
“Come now my little Natsuki… you've already got her. See look, she's wearing your ring and… umm… Nat… wolfy?”
Natsuki faced Shizuru and silently stared into her eyes seemingly looking for something.
A marking, a sign, a tiny shadow, just a flicker of a doubt… but she found none. All she saw was plain, pure, unabridged honesty.
Crimson eyes blinked at the sudden intensity the green pools were exhibiting.
Seconds passed… a minute… time carried on. But nothing seemed to be moving. The only thing that registered on Shizuru's mind was one single thought…
The green pools, they were getting closer.
Then suddenly they were gone…
Natsuki had closed her eyes, closed the distance between them, and had pressed their lips gently together.
Placing a hand behind Shizuru's head and gently lacing her fingers through the girl's soft hair, Natsuki could feel a tingle in her stomach, her heart beating faster… their moment was a thing of complete wonder.
Shizuru wrapped both her arms around Natsuki's waist and pulled them closer still.
`Her lips are soft,' thought Natsuki.
`Her kiss is gentle,' thought Shizuru.
For that moment, they were content to savor the peace.
A moment after that, soft lips turned eager, gentle kisses became fiery and the tingles moved from their stomachs and spread throughout their whole bodies…
When they finally pulled their lips apart, smiling, holding each other close, what they saw was a rather disconcerting thing.
First of all, since somehow during the kiss they had rolled off the seats and ended up sitting on the floor, they had a perfect view of what lay right at their eye level.
Yukino was lying on the couch with Haruka on top of her, their lips were crushed together but unmoving and the blonde's hand, was somewhere it really should not have been… in public.
A split second after that, the two flew apart and Haruka coughed.
“Sorry about that… got caught up in your moment.”
Nao and Reito just stared at the two couples grinning from ear to ear before the redhead gave her cousin the thumbs up.
“Whoa Natsuki, nice moves!,” she said.
And for a change… Natsuki laughed… and Shizuru blushed.
“So…,” started the mayo-pup. “Election campaigns anyone?”
AN: Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your reviews! I'll just say again that I truly appreciate you guys taking a minute to write me a few lines hehe. Keep em coming won't you?
Tries on Natsuki's puppy eyes…
Hmm, not the same I know but… I tried! I hope you all enjoyed this chapter and that you're all still sticking with the fic. Oooh, and if you guys could pick out a favourite line or two out of the whole thing I can put `em up on my profile! Thanks in advance, your humble host - Phantom. P.S: Sorry this update took a little longer than my usual!