Mai-HiME Fan Fiction ❯ The Tide ❯ Chap. 2; Brittle Grace, Part 2 ( Chapter 4 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]
The Tide;
Chapter 2b,
Brittle Grace
By Monikku

I sit at my desk, and continue sipping my tea, attempting to calm the trepidation in my heart. It feels as if it's been months since I've been this anxious. I suppose the possibility of a dissonant Natsuki is enough to rattle anyone's nerves. No, an angry Natsuki is less fearsome to me than an indifferent one. I don't know if my heart could handle her further detachment.

I get up to brew more tea. The concentration in each methodical action of traditional tea brewing feels so similar to meditation. The tea being the manifestation of the clarity in ones mind and heart. A person fraught with anxiety, shouldering tremendous burdens, can never make delicious tea. Natsuki thinks I drink so much tea, because it is some quirk of my rearing. It is my desire for perfection that keeps me brewing it. As soothing an act as it is, my tea is never perfect. It never has been. My father always drank it with such a sour look on his face, as though he could taste my sadness, my bitterness. Natsuki has been drinking of the blood of my machinations for years now. Just once, I'd like to serve her proper tea. Perhaps she'd enjoy it more.

The doorknob clicks with the weight of a hand twisting it. Natsuki is here. She places her bag on the table in front of my desk, and takes a seat without saying a word. I never once look up at her, choosing to continue brewing my tea. If I can clear my heart... I sigh. It's already too late for that.

"Mah, Natsuki is right on time. How unusual." I walk over, and place the tea on the table, setting a cup in front of her. She's ruminating; sometimes my sweet Natsuki can be so obvious. I take the teapot, and fill her cup. "And how are you this afternoon?"

"Mmmm" she grunts as she lifts the hot cup to her lips. "Ah, it's hot!" she exclaims as she jerks the cup from her mouth.

"Well, if Natsuki would pay more attention to what she is doing, she would have realised that." I smile lightly as her face flushes with aggravation. Ah, she is terribly, terribly cute. I pour myself a cup of tea, and take the seat across from her. She is staring at the cup, still pouting over her burned lips and tongue. I can see her desire to smash my china into a million pieces as though she were acting upon it. I touch her arm, well over-stretching my boundaries, I know, "Please do not fantasise destroying my precious china, I would never tear your lingerie." Well, not never, I think to myself.

Natsuki flushes her brightest shade of crimson yet, "What is it? Pick on Natsuki day!?"

"Never," I smile, doing my best to restrain a giggle, "It is only that I think red looks quite becoming on you."

Natsuki snatches her arm from me, and crosses both arms across her chest protectively. "You can be so damn infuriating sometimes, Fujino Shizuru!"

I grimace at the memory of the student council meeting today, "Please, no not use my full name like that, it is reminiscent of Suzushiro-san." I very lightly smack my face, as if to shake away all thoughts of Haruka.

"FUJINOSHIZURU!FUJINOSHIZURU!FUJINOSHIZURU!" she yells my name in succession like a child cheering.

I can no longer restrain my giggles, "Natsuki is so cute when she's petulant."

"GAH!" Natsuki throws her hands up in the air in frustration. I giggle unabashedly at her behaviour. "Just once, Shizuru! I want to win just once!"

I close my eyes, and sip my tea. As I lower my cup, setting it on the table before me, I open my eyes, staring unwaveringly into hers, and deliver my next line in cool, timed perfection, "Natsuki-chan must study exhaustively and work very hard to surpass her sempai." Her right eye is visibly twitching.

"I really want to throw your cup on the floor right now." She says honestly.

"I deeply respect your restraint." all humour has left both our voices. Perhaps I have crossed the line.

Natsuki sighs deeply. She lifts the now cooled cup to her lips and drinks. She never comments on the quality of my tea, she only drinks it. Whether she does or does not like it, I may never know. I could never prostrate myself in the act of seeking response, be it praise or criticism. Natsuki closes her eyes and sighs deeply once more.

"I'm sorry."

"You need not be sorry, I was the one pushing you beyond your boundaries." I say remorsefully.

"No, not just now." She opens her eyes to stare at me with the slightest pinch of irritation, "Although, you should be sorry!" She stares at the table, as if she has suddenly been struck with a wave of self-consciousness. "I meant, uhm, yesterday. I'm sorry for yesterday, the way I acted."

Her words pierce my chest unexpectedly, my brow threatens to knit as I steady myself with my teacup. I must think of an appropriate response, but I was not expecting her to apologise. I also wasn't expecting our meeting today to be as easy going as it has been, I had nearly forgotten yesterday's events all together. Was that why she appeared to be so pensive earlier? Was she thinking of a way to apologise? I wish now I was every bit the mind reader I've touted myself to be all these years, or, mayhaps, a reader of hearts.

She looks up at me, "You were being sincere, and I just brushed it aside. That wasn't fair, it wasn't right." She looks down at her teacup again, and combs a hand through her hair, "I mean, I'm the one that told you to be more honest, right? So, so... please, uhm..."

I stand up, and walk around the table to where she is sitting. She looks more and more nervous as I approach her, and instantly I feel a pang of hesitation. I sit next to her, and take one of her hands in my own. She stares down at our hands, entwined, never looking at my face. I lean forward, and with an assuredness I absolutely do not feel, begin speaking, "It's fine, Natsuki." I am struggling so hard to keep my breathing steady, "We both have a lot of healing to do. I just hope..." my grip on her hands is tightening, I realise it, but I can't seem to relax my hands. She looks up at me, her eyes have widened infinitesimally. She is sensing my rare display of anxiety, I am sure of it. I swallow, "I hope we can work through it together."

"I'd like that." she says, giving my hands an encouraging squeeze. It is rare when our roles change, but when they do, it most significant of any exchange we ever seem to have. She has far more to teach me, than I her. I wonder if ever she will realise it? I wonder if we can overcome our past together.

Natsuki's cheeks suddenly pinken as she stares down at our hands. She yells at me for poking fun, but then she goes and leaves such wide openings. I lean close to her ear, "It's been so long since I have gotten the opportunity to feel Natsuki's hands. They are deceptively soft. Can it be that Natsuki takes such meticulous, feminine care of herself?"


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Hoppy-chan: Have some faith, will ya? :P There's gonna be angst, for sure, but this fic is about the process of healing. How the hell do you love someone who rapes you? And how do you get over raping the person you love? Well, that's my goal, to express these very serious issues, in a hopefully delicate and realistic way.
LucyEllis: I'm glad you enjoy my writing. I have a tendency to post really, really slowly. I hope that doesn't deter your interest in my fics! ^_^
AleraeEirtoren: You praise me too much. Brilliant is a truly fabulous compliment. Thank you.
Flyleaf799, Lost in a Feeling, Moonfreckle, LittleLeaf89: Thank you for consistently supporting my efforts. It means a lot to me!
Teresa Kaiju: I appreciate your criticisms with my works. I hope you post more as I continue to write in the future. :)
Shiznat: It pleases me to hear you say that this is a believable work. As for the happy ending, we'll see, ne?
Krampus: To thee who occasionally reads my stuff, I'm stealing your comment response format. :)

I really feel this song aptly fits the healing process. I listened to it quite a bit writing this chapter. Great song.

"Morning Theft"
Jeff Buckley

Time takes care of the wound
So I can believe
You had so much to give
You thought I couldn’t see

Gifts for boot heels to crush
Promises deceived
I had to send it away
To bring us back again

Your eyes and body brighten
Silent waters, deep
Your precious daughter in the
Other room, asleep

A kiss “Goodnight” from every
Stranger that I meet
I had to send it away
To bring us back again

Morning theft
Unpretender left

True self is what
Brought you here, to me
A place where we can
Accept this love

Friendship battered down by
Useless history
Unexamined failure

But what am I still to you
Some thief who stole from you?
Or, some fool drama queen
Whose chances were few?

That brings us to who we need
A place where we can save
A heart that beats as
Both siphon and reservoir

You’re a woman, I’m a calf
You’re a window, I’m a knife
We come together
Making chance in the starlight

Meet me tomorrow night
Or any day you want
I have no right to wonder
Just how, or when

You know the meaning fits
There’s no relief in this
I miss my beautiful friend

I have to send it away
To bring her back again.