Mai-HiME Fan Fiction ❯ Mai-HiME: Found Objects ❯ "Chosen" ( Chapter 2 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Mai-HiME and Mai-Otome are the property of Sunrise and Bandai. This is a work of parody and I gain no profit from it.
Author's Note: Parts of this story take place during the same timeline of my previous stories; Loose Threads and Masquerade. Don't worry; it'll all tie together in the end. I hope.
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Mai-HiME: Found Objects
Chapter 2
Light streamed through the windows of the top floor office. The morning had come strong to Fuuka Gakuen. Academy director, Himeno Fumi was early, busily doing nothing. It was true that the much anticipated costume ball was only a day away, yet her assistants were taking care of the details. All that Fumi could do was read through the reports piling up on her desk.
One such report was from the Suzushiro Group's private security wing. Despite appearances, the security agents were discreet, highly trained, professionals. Agents had apprehended a subject seen lurking near the girls' dormitory. However, upon interrogation, the suspect claimed no memory of his activities. A further toxicology report confirmed that his blood was saturated with CGH-40, a drug known to kill memory centers in the brain.
With a heavy sigh, Fumi closed the report and called in her assistant.
“Mifuyu-san,” she said to the conservatively dressed young woman. “Please take a letter:
“To Sugiura Midori-san.
“My deepest apologies for interrupting your tenure at university…”
“Are you sure about this, Ers-chan?” asked Yumemiya Arika.
“It's absolutely you,” her friend and roommate, Erstin Ho said from somewhere behind her. “You'll knock `em dead at the costume ball!”
Arika tried in vain to glimpse her friend fiddling with the ribbon bow behind her. Erstin had found the unique outfit in a shoujo manga magazine and had deemed it perfect for Arika's “champion of justice” theme. The curious outfit was a one-piece coral dress with a ridiculously short, pleated skirt. And it was topped off with a completely vestigial white apron with wing-like ruffles at the shoulders. Complete with crème-colored knee socks, the thing looked like an otaku's wet dream.
“What are you two doing?” came Nina Wang's bemused voice. She poked her head out of the shared washroom.
“Ers-chan's helping me out for the costume ball,” Arika pronounced. “She found this pattern in a magazine, though I'm not so sure about the socks.”
“They're absolutely necessary,” Erstin replied as she adjusted the hem. “Arika-chan isn't very big up top, but she has very shapely legs. Don't you think, Nina-chan?”
“I-I'm not interested in those kinds of things!” Nina stammered, her cheeks turning an interesting shade of pink. “Anyway, I'm on my way out.”
“You're going to meet Yukino Kaicho-sama at this hour?” Arika inquired, trying hard not to squirm.
“It's just student council business!” The brunette's face turned an alarming red.
“Isn't it a little late to be meeting at school?” Erstin giggled.
Nina exited the washroom, dressed in blue jeans and a purple wide collared blouse. While the clothes were casual, the young prodigy's hair was finely coiffed; her lips wore lightest blush of pink rose.
“We're just meeting at the café…” Nina's eyes widened as the other girls stared at her. “Um…anyway, I'll eat something there so don't hold dinner for me!”
Nina hurried from the ensuing inquisition leaving her roommates to their costume play and speculations.
“She's so easy!” Erstin laughed as she finished tying Arika's bow. She stepped back to inspect her work. “The director won't know what hit her!”
“I don't know what you're talking about,” Arika sniffed.
“Ha! Half the school saw you glomping her the other day!”
“I wasn't glomping!” Arika protested. “I just…didn't want to let go right away.”
The blonde girl only laughed the more as she helped Arika out of the elaborate costume. Clad only in her underthings, Arika turned to her friend, her eyes suddenly very serious.
“Ne, Ers-chan,” Arika haltingly began. “I know we always tease Nina-chan about it, but…would it be so bad if I liked the Director...that way?”
Erstin suddenly let Arika go; spinning the girl around to face her. The brown-haired girl's eyes were downcast. Her expression was grave.
“Arika-chan,” Erstin began. “Are you serious?”
Arika could only nod. “I know it's stupid for me to feel this way over someone I've just met but,” she paused with a far-away look in her eyes. “Something about her makes me feel warm, and a little lonely. I guess I just want to know her better.”
The blonde girl let out a heavy sigh and took Arika's hands in her own. “If you're really serious about this, I can only be proud of you. You're brave Arika-chan. You see who you want to be with and you jump in with both feet. If it were me…If it were me, I'd probably wait until it was too late to do anything.”
“Ers-chan,” Arika looked upon her friend with concern. “You like someone, don't you?”
Erstin Ho only gave one of her trademark shy smiles in reply.
“Come one, tell me!” Arika pouted. She suddenly spun and grabbed her friend about the waist, wrestling her to the near bed. “I'm not letting go until you give me a name.”
“But what if the person I like is you” Erstin said slyly. “You'd be falling right into my trap.”
“Ers-chan!” Arika gasped, her suddenly reddened face scant inches from her roommate's. She felt an adventurous hand creep up her neck and twine with her ponytails.
Erstin pulled her quarry down until her lips were a tantalizing breath away from Arika's ear.
“Just kidding.”
Arika flounced away from her roommate, her brain desperately trying to decide between being flustered or angry while Erstin had a hearty laugh. She finally managed to split the difference and pouted at the edge of the bed.
Erstin got control of her laughing long enough to hug her friend from behind. Arika refused to look at her.
“Obaa-chan told me you should never to confess to someone unless you really mean it,” she huffed.
“Well I love you, Arika-chan,” the blonde girl said quietly. “And that's my first time telling anyone that.”
“I love you too Ers-chan,” Arika finally smiled back. She received a kiss on the cheek, far back next to her ear.
“If only all confessions were this easy,” Erstin said morosely.
“If only they were,” Arika agreed.
The café was a favored student hang-out. From friends meeting up before a movie, to a couple sharing sweets and stolen kisses, the Linden Baum was usually filled to the brim with Fuuka Gakuen regulars; which managed to give Nina Wang pause as she waited outside the entrance.
Inside, a group of students (mostly female) all but surrounded a corner booth occupied by a lone girl. Though she was dressed in casual clothes—a simple, dark blouse with a conservative-length skirt—this woman exuded an air of authority. One might be put-off by her mousey brown hair, freckles and horn-rimmed glasses. However no one who'd ever spoken to her could deny the presence of one Kikikawa Yukino; Fuuka Gakuen's beloved Student Council President.
As Nina watched, Yukino deftly answered each of the dozen or so questions the throng threw her way. One-by-one, the crowd thinned, as each inquisitor seemed satisfied with her replies. Never once did she frown, fidget or show any other sign of impatience.
Nina felt a flush crawling to her cheeks as she wandered if she (of the ever straight forward manner) could ever learn to be that diplomatic. The dark-haired girl entered the café, heading straight for the council official.
Yukino smiled upon recognizing the familiar face (and admittedly familiar hair-style) and greeted her kouhai with a warm handshake.
“I'm sorry I had to call you out after-hours like this,” she said amiably. “I hope dinner is enough of an apology.”
“I'm just glad I can be of help to you…to the council,” Nina covered quickly.
“Oh, my,” Yukino said, noting Nina's outfit. “Were you planning on going out after this? We can skip dinner if you'd like?”
“NO!” Nina exclaimed, drawing the attention of several diners. “I don't have any plans…besides this.”
“Then please take a seat,” Yukino smiled, quickly turning the younger girl's legs to jelly. “I've already ordered tea, so we can go over the details for the festival while we wait.”
As they worked, Nina was once again taken aback by Kikukawa Yukino. While unassuming at first, anyone who spoke with the president at length would find her brilliant. However, she never brandished her intelligence, nor did she talk down to others. When she heard a good idea she acknowledged it and the person who gave it. But this was why everyone else admired her.
“Nina-san, is something the matter?”
Nina broke out of her reverie to find Yukino concern. “Um…I-I think we should also ask the karaoke lounge for a donation since so many of our students go there after school.”
“An excellent idea, Nina-san,” Yukino beamed at her.
The true reason Nina liked and admired Kikukawa Yukino was when a certain gifted girl had skipped her last year of middle school; she was lonely in a class that mainly ignored her. While Nina's classmates seemed like good people, none of them seemed willing to deal with the child genius. That is until, one day a member of the Student Council's Executive Committee, asked young Nina Wang to help with her work.
She hadn't tried flattery, bullying or pulling rank. Kikukawa Yukino had simply told Nina Wang that she need her help. Yukino appreciated Nina's help and advice; always guiding the younger girl when she needed a hand. So, when she ran for council president, Nina worked diligently to make Yukino's campaign, run cleanly and efficiently.
That she had ulterior motive to help had never come up, but perhaps now she could…
“Kaichou-sama,” Nina began.
“It's just Yukino,” the bespectacled girl lightly reproved. “We're classmates after all.”
“”Yukino-sama,” Nina amended. The older girl let it go with a soft sigh. “Are you going to the Director's costume ball?'
“Of course,” Yukino surprised her with a wistful smile. “Even though it's a part of my duties to attend events like this, I'm really looking forward to it. It sounds silly but, I've always believed that the act of wearing masks allows us discard the masks we wear everyday; even if it's just for one evening.”
Nina's mouth hung agape. Was that an invitation? Before her brain could catch up with the racing heart, Nina plunged ahead.
“I-If you're not going with anyone, would you like to-“
That jarring, shrill note broke Nina's train of thought and froze several other conversations at once. All eyes turned to several bespectacled youths, who materialized at Linden Baum's entrance. Nina could have sworn that Yukino's left eye was twitching. The only sign of wear on her cool reserve.
Like a well-organized, fanatical mob, the Kikukawa Yukino Fan Club (Fuuka Chapter) had arrived.
Anticipation and trepidation were having a battle to the death and Yumemiya Arika was afraid that the latter was winning. As she stood outside the Director's Residence—an imposing Western-style mansion—she felt her resolve falter. As she watched the school's director, Himeno Fumi happily greet her guests, Arika began to second-guess her reasons for coming.
Happily dreaming of speaking with the director and actually doing it were very different things.
I should just go. It was stupid to think I could do this.
“Good evening, Yumemiya-san.”
Arika looked up into a pair of sparkling jade eyes gazing back at her. Apparently, while her brain was busy agonizing, her feet had simply followed its last coherent command and sent her straight to Fumi's doorstep.
“Good evening, Director Himeno,” Arika managed. Fumi looked amazing in her gothic maid's uniform and black wig. Even though the costume looked quite uncomfortable, Fumi seemed more relaxed in this than her normal business attire.
“That costume is absolutely darling,” Fumi said. “Did you make it yourself?”
“ helped,” Arika could feel her knees giving way under the pressure of Fumi's gaze. Keep it together! You want her to think you're some kind of weirdo? Then stop staring! She's just so beautiful. Oh my God, she knows I'm staring! SAY SOMETHING, YOU IDIOT!
“You're even prettier than when I first saw you!” Arika clamped both hands over her mouth, wishing she could just fall into a hole. Now everyone was staring at her; including Fumi.
“Won't you come in?” The director smiled gently and held her hand out to rescue the floundering girl. Arika gratefully took it. Through the dizzy haze, Arika felt herself being led inside, past throngs of reveling youths, and up a flight of stairs to a much quieter room.
“Please wait here,” Fumi's musical voice called to her. Arika would have gladly waited through the next millennium just to hear that voice again. But, what was this room?
It was long a slim, two stories high with chandeliers and a large fireplace. However the dominating feature was a bank of wall-sized windows which opened to a veranda with a view of Fuuka Gakuen's campus.
“I'm afraid it's a bit too chilly to be out on the veranda this evening,” Fumi said, startling Arika. The former maid entered, followed by another maid pushing a laden cart. The girl, whom Fumi called Mifuyu, quickly laid out a silver tea service with cookies and sandwiches. Her work complete, the girl silently retreated.
“Forgive me for being so forward but you looked like you could do with some refreshment,” Fumi observed as she began pouring the fragrant, red tea.
“It's just a bit overwhelming,” Arika blushed. “I wasn't expecting it to be this…big.”
“This isn't really my style, but it came with the job,” the director laughed. She expertly served Arika the tea with a small plate of cookies.
Arika thanked her and took a careful sip. “It's delicious!”
“I'm glad you like it,” Fumi said. “It's been a while since I've made this tea for anyone-“
She broke off as she and the younger girl's hands touched over the cookie plate and she felt a tiny shock.
“There must be quite a static buildup with so many people here.”
“Yeah, I felt it too,” Arika said quickly.
“So, Yumemiya Arika. Tell me about yourself.”
Sometime during the night, Himeno Fumi had lost her perception of time. She was aware that time was passing; as one who lives near the ocean is aware of the sound of crashing waves. However, the time's passing became mere background noise, like the party downstairs. She had become totally absorbed with her young charge.
Yumemiya Arika, of the sparkling azure eyes, odd, twin ponytails and infectious smile, had somehow enchanted her. The girl's familiar manner, even with a school official, kept Fumi captivated.
So far, Fumi learned that Arika had grown up in the desert with her ecologist, grandmother. Even with such an isolated background, Arika was outgoing and gregarious; making friends easily. She was also quite athletic, since even with no training, the track team manager was courting her to join.
Aside from this, and her unrefined beauty, Arika also had quite an appetite. It was one the likes of which Fumi had only seen once before (and thankfully her aides told her, that little vacuum had made it an early evening).
The girl in question was absently pushing around the last sandwich on her plate, as if in deep thought.
Fumi-san,” (the director had long since dispensed with formalities). “Have you ever really liked someone?”
“That's an awfully personal question,” Fumi's eyes widened a bit.
“Oh! I didn't mean anything by it!” Arika backpedaled in fright. “Just forget I said anything.”
“No it's fine,” Fumi soothed her. “It's just been a while. I liked someone very much once, but that's all ancient history now.”
Arika wondered at the solemn note in Fumi's voice. “Do you think it's wrong to like someone so much, even if there's no chance of anything happening? Even if it's like you live in two different worlds?”
Arika's heart skipped several beats as Fumi took her hand and held it in her own. “It's never wrong to love someone,” she said softly. “Because no matter what happens, there's always a chance, no matter if it's just a fool's chance, that they'll feel the same.
And then she saw the look in Arika's eyes.
Oh my.
Nina had spent the evening frowning at her homework. After the fiasco at the café, she hadn't had the courage to face Yukino again. She'd been so close to asking if she could accompany her mentor to the ball, when that those psychopathic fan-girls had shown up asking the very same thing!
So, tonight, wounded pride and all, Nina vowed to at least see Yukino once, if only to bid her goodnight. Erstin meanwhile kept her company under the guise of re-organizing her notes. Even with the flimsy excuse, Nina was glad for the moral support. If anyone would stay by her side it would be her childhood friend.
The muted sound of footfalls and a familiar voice drifted from the dorm's hallway through the slightly ajar door. Nina resisted the urge to check her appearance in the mirror, as she'd done several times already. While she wasn't expecting much, she did want to leave an impression on the student council president.
She'd heard from Erstin that if one went to sleep with someone on their mind, they'd have dreams of that person. (If she found out Erstin had heard this particular nugget from one of Arika's grandmother's sayings, she probably would have scrapped the whole plan.)
As she crept out into the hallway, Nina found that her heartbeat had finally calmed. This was just the right course to take with Yukino. Step by step, she could slowly get closer to Yukino, and one day let her feelings be known.
Rounding that last corner, Nina saw a fairy tale.
Just let her down easy.
Himeno Fumi was in no way vain, but she understood that she was quite beautiful .Therefore she was accustomed to a few ill-advised confessions in her tenure at Fuuka. While she appreciated the courage some students (and even a few faculty) exhibited in confessing to her, she'd never felt the need to accept. Not like she was feeling now.
“Arika-san, this is all very sudden.” Why are you stalling? Just tell her you can't accept her feelings and be done with it!
Yet, somehow, as Fumi looked into that earnest face, she couldn't bear to break this girl's heart, no matter how gently. At some time between their first meeting and now, this strange, energetic girl had found a place in her heart. This was a heart, which Fumi thought had no more room or ability to care deeply for a single person.
“Please forgive me for lying before,” she said aloud and smiled at Arika's bewildered look. “The person I cared for, I knew her quite recently. While I did love her it never went anywhere. I can't even say she felt the same about me.
“So, something like this is still far too soon for me. And I daresay it's far too soon for you as well.”
“I...understand,” Arika said, trying to hold back tears.
“But, if we could start as friends,” Fumi added. “Who knows what might happen in the future?” I'm making a huge mistake and I don't care!
“I think I'd like that,” Arika said. She failed to keep the tears for falling, but a most angelic smile was on her face.
Fumi later guiltily recalled that she could fall in love with that smile.
Erstin watched Nina's sleeping face. It was an old habit from when they were both in grammar school. She particularly liked her friend's sleeping face which was free from all the tension of the day and relaxed into natural beauty. However, this face was tracked with tears of pain. Nina, who had been so ready to greet Kikukawa Yukino, had come home a changed girl.
Her face was slack and expressionless; her usually purposeful stride was traded in for a dragging step. When asked what had happened all Nina would say was, “I was too late. Too late from the very beginning.”
With little else she could do, the blonde girl, laid her listless roommate down on her bed and snuggled close to her. Then, Nina began to cry. The sobs were stifled and quiet, but Erstin could feel each and every quake of her body. Nina hated to be seen crying or doing anything else she considered to appear “weak.”
Upon Arika's return, Erstin quickly shushed the girl (who was all smiles and giggles) so as not to disturb her friend's slumber. Even after Arika had finished her ablutions and drifted off to dream of academy directors, Erstin held Nina and watched.
Perhaps when she'd calmed down, she might share what had happened that night. But for right now, Erstin was content to give what comfort she could. She gently brushed back Nina's midnight blue hair and kissed her cheek.
“Sleep well, Nina-chan. And please dream of me.”
Author's Note
Sorry for the long wait. (Personal stuff) I hope to be a bit faster from now on. This chapter in particular was tough because it tried to take me in directions that just wouldn't work. I may return to it for some tweaking in the future, but for now, this is where we stand.
The next chapter will focus on more characters and detail the morning after the ball.
Happy Reading!
Arca Jeth