Mai-HiME Fan Fiction ❯ Beginnings, Yukino & Haruka ❯ The Beginning, Haruka ( Chapter 2 )

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I let out a contented sigh, burying my face in the pillow in a vain attempt to detain the morning light. This one time, this once, I decide to let the sun have the victory. I usually always get up with the sun, or well before it, but today all I want to do is lay here and bask in these new feelings that I avoided for so long . I can smell the rich aroma of coffee on the brew, Yukino must have gotten up before me and put a pot on. I smile, thinking about my newfound love. That young woman with her ever-ruffled hair, and sweet hazel eyes, that sprinkling of freckles across her cute little nose, and her delicate little mouth. I think back, and wonder when it was that the driven Suzushiro Haruka changed so very much, to finally do something like "love", to think about something else than my need to save the world.

When did it start?

Was it when we first met? When I saw her suffering under the abuse of those childhood hoodlums? When I felt my heart first go out to that quiet little girl, first felt her eyes fixed upon mine with such love? What I now realize was love anyway. I remember it like it was yesterday....

I didn't often socialize back then, nobody really seemed to like me all that much. I guess I had higher standards of friendship than the other girls, but I wasn't about to have injustice or lying in my friends. So I would just wander about alone, thinking my own thoughts about school, and growing up, and saving the world. The boys and girls had already learned the hard way that I was nobody to be bullied, so I was left alone most of the time.

This is what I was doing on that day, I remember. I was just walking around, when I heard the unmistakable sound of cruel, teasing laughter, something I can't stand to hear. I looked around, but either nobody else had heard it, or worse, nobody cared. Furrowing my eyebrows and gritting my teeth, I remember taking my little six-year-old self towards the source of the sound, determined even then to halt all wrong-doing whenever I came across it. Coming up to the jungle gym, I caught my first glance of their victim, and remember my breath catching, my stomach fluttering just a bit. She looked so oddly beautiful, in a way. Hands and legs dusted with sand, standing there on the pavement, and tears running from her hazel eyes. She was so innocent, so caring, even then. She didn't seem able to comprehend that there could be bad things in the world, and didn't know how to deal with them. I heard them calling her names, calling her stupid and friendless, and I felt more like doing something now than I ever had before.

"Hey!" I yelled, running towards them, "What are you guys doing to her!?" I looked at the girl to make sure she was okay, but lost sight of her as I turned fully towards the group menacing her. I knew this boy, having seen him and the two others do the same teasing towards other girls before. I hadn't been able to do anything then, because their victims always had friends to come to the rescue, but wasn't about to let this bully hurt this little girl behind me.

"What's going on here, huh? You better tell me!" I was pretty sure I knew what had been happening, but I wanted to her him say it. I wanted to hear him admit his cowardly act, admit it out loud for me and the girl to hear. Of course, like all bullies, he started trying to pick on somebody else.

"Why should we? It's none of your business! Why don't you just go away little girl, go play with some dolls or something." I was already angry at this point, and a stupid and gutless remark like that really made me want to teach him a lesson. None of my business? It was none of his business to be here in the first place! And who was he to be talking about girls? I stomped up to him, and got right in his face.

"Why don't you go away! I don't like bullies like you stupid boys! Why don't you go eat some mud or some other dumb thing that boys do." I rolled my eyes at him. It was obvious that this was the first time anybody had given this guy any trouble, and he took a small step back. After looking to his buddies to make sure they were still there, he finally stepped forward and drew himself up.

"You can't talk to me like that!"

...That was the best he could do? I laughed in his face, most bullies weren't smart anyway. I took a deep breath and stared him straight in the eye. I'd had about enough of this, and decided to do something I was sure he could understand.

"Yea? What are you gonna do about it?" And I put my left hand on his chest, my right still holding my bear, and shoved as hard as I could, bowling him right back on his rear end. He managed to entangle himself in the others on his way down, snatching for something to catch his fall, and I watched them try to sort themselves out and get him back on his feet.

"Well? Do you wanna stay here, or are you gonna leave before I get mad?" I turned my back on their fumbling and stepped back over to the tousle-haired girl. I avoided meeting her eyes for the moment, needing to keep my focus on the three boys, but I did take enough time to notice that she had stopped crying, and stood up, and her eyes were shining with thanks. Seeing that one sight would have made the entire experience worth it ten times over. I turned back to her tormentors and pointed my hand away from the jungle gym.

"Well then go! Get out of here! Get lost you creeps, you morons, you bullies!" Which they did, after only a moments hesitation. They'd never dealt with Suzushiro Haruka before, no they hadn't! I watched them turn tail and scurry off with grim satisfaction, before finally getting to turn around and speak to the girl I'd chased them off for. As I looked on her, seeing her eyes still sparkling with the remnants of tears, and auburn hair sticking up all over, I couldn't help but forget about the boys, and felt that little flutter in my stomach again, and my heart reach out to her. I didn't know what any of that meant, and I didn't know anything about how to express things like that, so I just said the first thing that came to mind.

"Hey, are you okay?" She just sat there on the ground, looking amazed that somebody had not only came to her aid, but was now talking to her. I wasn't really good with talking to other people, so I didn't have a whole lot of things to pick from to say next.

"Um.. okay then. I'll see you later, I hope you won't let those guys bother you again." I felt bad, just walking away like that, something felt wrong about just leaving her there, but I didn't know what else to do. I had only taken a few steps, though, when I heard light footsteps rapidly approaching, and turned around.

"Wait! Thank you very much for saving me from those boys. You were great!" She said, smiling that cute smile. I still melt a little inside when I think about that sincere and honest smile that lights up her face every time she wears it. I was a little embarrassed at her thankfulness, and once again had no idea of how to answer.

"Eh, thanks, um..." I suddenly thought that I didn't even know her name, "What's your name?" I tilted my head so that I could look directly into her eyes.

"My name is Yukino. Kikukawa Yukino." She folded her hands in front of her, and bowed slightly towards me. I smiled back at her, proper little thing that she was.

"Okay then. Thanks Yukino, I was happy to help. I don't like bullies. My name is Haruka, Suzushiro Haruka." I offered my hand, and she took it shyly. After a few seconds of contact, we both let go, and stood there for another silent moment.

"Well, glad to meet you Yukino, maybe we'll see each other again some time?" I still didn't feel right about just leaving her, but what else was I to do? I never had any real friends before, how was I supposed to know what friendship was supposed to be like? Once again, however, I sort of felt more than heard her following after a walking a short distance, and looked over my shoulder. I knew she would be there, but it still lifted my spirits in a hard to explain way, just seeing it.

"Er, Yukino, are you following me?" I meant it as simply that: a question, and Yukino seemed to understand that well.

"Yes." She said, equally honestly and simply. I was curious, and decided to continue talking with her. It was different talking with her than with other people, we seemed to understand each other so well.

"Um, I heard a little bit of what those boys were saying. Do you really not have any friends to go play with?" She shook her head.

"Well, I don't really either. Do you want to be friends?"

"Yes, Haruka-chan, I want to be friends."

"Okay, we're friends then. Let's go play."

"Okay, Haruka-chan."

And so I set off across the playground, somehow knowing that she would follow. We didn't have to say anything, then. Later on I started vocalizing things more, just something that came with age, with that loss of care-free innocence. But even through what came to be our common "Let's go, Yukino." and "Okay, Haruka-chan", we both knew deep down it wasn't really necessary. Where I went, she went. She was always there, always supporting me and protecting me, in her own way.

Back in our room, eleven years from then, I ease myself up in the bed. Opening my eyes and letting in the light of the most wonderful day I'd ever awoken too, I spy Yukino in our small kitchen, fixing us a light breakfast, clad only in a long t-shirt. I smile as I realize that I haven't really changed at all, I've just found something much more worthwhile to put that energy and drive towards, I have a new world to protect, and she was in the kitchen. I get up, wrapping myself in the blanket, and walk to her. She glances over at the sound of my approach, and smiles that enchanting, honest smile. I brush my lips lightly on hers, and then pull her into an embrace, burying my face in her unruly hair. She was always there for me, and I was only sorry that it had taken me so long to realize it. I look at her and think of that quiet young girl, so sweet and innocent, and am so very glad that she managed to keep that through everything she'd had to go through alone. Now, I'm not going to make you have to go through anything alone ever again, Yukino. I'm always going to be here for you, and love you, like you did for me.