Mai-HiME Fan Fiction ❯ Mai HiME: Love Shines ❯ Chapter 1

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

Twilight glistened on top of the new fallen snow like thousands of tiny diamonds waiting to be plucked from their pillows of white. The soft shrr shrr of ice skates broke the wintry stillness of Yoyogi-koen. It was almost deserted except for a few random skaters who took advantage of the city-wide curfew due to a surprisingly strong winter storm the previous day to have the lake to themselves.

Though winter storms weren't uncommon in Tokyo in February, this particular one dumped more snow than usual on the city, much to the delight of children and not a few adults. Mai wasn't fond of the cold nor of snow by any means; thus, she was quite content to view the white loveliness from high above the city in the small flat she shared with her former schoolmate.

Ne, Natsuki?”

Ne, Mai?” Natsuki intoned from across the room, as if on cue. Pencils stuck out randomly from her hair as apparently she would stick one in, forget that it was there and reach for another. Motorcycle parts were strewn about the low table in front of her as she pored over schematics for the Yamaha RZ250 in preparation for the practical portion of her fuel systems class. She was chewing on the end of a newly acquired pencil when Mai called out to her again.

“Will you be working all evening?”

Natsuki shot Mai a dark look over the rim of her eyeglasses. “Whyyy?” she drawled.

The red-head ignored the look and continued to stare out into the gathering gloom. “No particular reason,” she shrugged. “I just thought you might want to go out to eat for a change.”

If it had been anyone else, Natsuki would have jumped at the chance to have someone wait on her in a nice restaurant. But this was Mai, a woman whose culinary skills were known all over Fuuka Gakuen as rivaling even the best chefs on campus. Perhaps she was running a fever…

“Are you ok?” Natsuki asked with a mild frown. She put down her pencil and moved to opposite her roommate by the window. When Mai didn't respond, she leaned her forehead against Mai's to see if her temperature was up. The other girl flushed pink at the contact. When they were back at Fuuka, she hadn't really tried to hide the fact that she had a serious crush on the wayward biker girl. Unfortunately, Natsuki's status as the campus heartthrob meant keeping the walls around her firmly intact. The only person who was successful in breaching them was Fujino Shizuru, an idol in her own right. After a while, it started to look like she had no hope of vying for Natsuki's affection so she decided to play the role of supportive friend instead. Once Shizuru graduated, however, she noticed that the couple gradually drifted apart, each finding their own way in life while remaining close friends. When the object of her unrequited crush approached her about sharing a place in downtown Tokyo, Mai practically jumped at the opportunity. All of which led them to the here and now, their first Valentine's Day together, though unattached. Another perfect opportunity to let Natsuki know her heart, but what could she do?

“Oh for heaven's sake…what's going on with you?”

Mai stiffened and turned away to hide her deepening blush. “It's nothing. Honest! I just…” she trailed off.

Natsuki stared at her for a few moments, then grunted as if she'd made a decision about something. She grabbed Mai's hand, gathered up both of their coats and made for the door.

“Natsuki! Where are you taking me?”

“Less talking, more moving of the feet.” Mai sighed in consternation, knowing it was best to just go along with her. She was surprised when they veered from the small shack where Natsuki garaged her bike and headed toward the park instead. They slipped and slid in the fluffy white powder, indulging in impromptu snowball skirmishes all the way there. Some minutes later, they reached one of the winding trails that led to one of the Yoyogi koen's largest lakes.

Mai tugged Natsuki's hand. It had not escaped her notice that her friend had not let go since they left their flat. “Now will you tell me where we're going?”

The dark-haired woman paused briefly on the trail, her eyes glazed over with nostalgia. “Did I ever tell you that this is where I received my first real kiss?” She pointed to a spot some ways ahead of them. “Right at the edge of the lake.”

Icy fingers of despair crept around Mai's heart. It was one thing to be a supportive friend, it was quite another to bear witness to a crush's fond memory of past love. “Natsuki, I...” she began as a hard lump began to form in her throat, threatening to rob her of air.

“I doubt I'll ever tell anyone…yet, the words are coming out of my mouth. How odd is that?” Natsuki continued as if she had never heard. They were walking slower now and the ice covered lake soon came into view. Mai gasped in surprise. It was unusual for Natsuki to take anyone into her confidence; stranger still, she was telling her something that she had told no one else.

“What brought that on?” she asked, half-joking. Part of her was curious as to what else might be said, what other unspoken secrets she would be privy to.

Natsuki merely stood in silence and stared out across the mist-covered ice. Everything around them glistened, even the sounds of the city without shone, white and muted. She turned to Mai after a time; her green eyes glowed almost grey in the dimness.

“There was a saying that I remember my mother going on about when I was a child,” she recalled in hush tones.

“What was that?” Mai inquired, her curiousity piqued. Across the lake, a group of enterprising youngsters set off a round of red and white fireworks that startled her but did not seem to catch Natsuki off guard. Before she knew what was going on, Mai found herself being drawn into strong, soft arms. As bursts of colour lit up the sky, she could feel the warmth of Natsuki's lips on her own.

Never forget that love shines.