General All-Purpose Crossover Fiction Thread:
edited 23rd Mar '12 2:25:58 AM by TenTailsBeast
Chapter Five: Takumi July, 2004 It was odd, she sometimes thought, that, in a country as obsessed with safety as Japan, the railing had yet to be repaired. The breaking point, where the car had struck it and torn through like a knife through hot butter, was still empty. If they wanted to, someone could easily walk up to the edge and dive over. She had walked up to the edge of the cliff, but not for that reason. Not today, at least. She'd thought about it, though. Many, many times. Perhaps when she was done. Perhaps she could rest then. But right now, all that she could do was toss the bouquet of flowers down to the icy cold waters, and whisper the name for God on the lips of all children. And if her eyes glistened, it was only because of the wind that came up just then. Only for that. Natsuki would never cry again.
"Eloped?" Mai asked, startled. "That's what people are saying," Chie said with a shrug as the trio rested beside the foutain. "Nobody's seen hide nor hair of either of them since they festival. Heck, I've heard that his parents even showed up and tried to get the administration to look for them." A frown crossed her face. "It's sort of weird that her parents didn't, actually ..." "Parent," Mai corrected absently. "Her mother died a few years ago. It came up because, well, it came up." "It'd be kind of romantic, I guess," Aoi said, slowly. "But ... I don't know, something doesn't seem right about it. She'd have told someone, wouldn't she? It wouldn't just be gossip and rumors, then." "Gotta say that I'm with Aoi-chan on this one," Mai admitted. "Ah, how romance has fallen, when proof is demanded," Chie proclaimed in somber tones. "I shake my head in dismay." And she did. Then her glasses gleamed oddly. "But! If proof is demanded, then, though proof be lacking in that case, there be others! Wherefore behold!" Chie held up her camera phone and displayed an image so that Mai and Aoi could both see it. Mai blinked, being unused to seeing herself from the rear, and then gasped as she realized who was walking beside her. "Is a certain someone dating a certain Student Council Vice President? Has, at long last, romance found Tokiha Mai?" Chie asked. "Inquiring minds want to know!" "Dish! Dish!" Aoi enthused. "You guyyys!" Mai cried, holding a hand to her face to cover the blush. "It's not like that! Reito-san —" "She's calling him by his first name!" "Oh, they so are doing it!" "Stop it! He's just, you know, a nice guy! Some things happened, and he was just being friendly. We aren't dating or anything like that!" Chie was almost glaring at Mai now. "Oh, that won't do at all, Mai-chan. You cannot just let a nice guy like that get away. If you're going to cause a scandal by stealing him away from the Student Council President —" "They're not dating either!" Mai interjected. He'd told her as much when she asked, and considering what she'd seen of the way Fujino acted around Natsuki, she just hadn't been all that surprised. It wasn't all that surprising, either, that Chie paid her no mind. "— you have to take the initiative. Confess! I command thee, confess by the end of the summer!" "Operation: Get Mai To Get Busy So I Can Get Busy With Takumi-Kun begins!" Aoi proclaimed. "Wait, what?" Mai said. "I didn't say anything," Aoi lied. After a brief, scorching glare in Aoi's direction, Mai returned her look to Chie. "That's not going to work. I've got a job this summer that's going to take me away from the campus. I probably won't see him at all for the whole vaction." "Oh, man, another job?" Chie groaned. "You are an insanely hard worker, Mai-chan!" Mai shrugged helplessly. Since she had decided that she was never, ever touching another dollar that her bastard father had anything to do with, she had to make money somehow. "So what are you going to be doing?" Aoi asked, after bidding her dreams of getting busy with Takumi a fond au revoir. "Lifeguard at Sakaimachi Beach," Mai explained. "I've done that sort of thing before, so —" "Sakaimachi?" interrupted a voice that still haunted Mai's nightmares from time to time.
edited 23rd Mar '12 4:30:46 PM by Darkenning
edited 23rd Mar '12 6:35:52 PM by NapoleonDeCheese
"You know what would be really cool?", Mai decided a week or so later, was probably the most terrifying question there could be. At the base of all wars, tragedies, and bad movies, there was probably someone asking the question "you know what would be really cool?" This time, someone asking the question had resulted in her being housed, for the duration of her stay in Sakaimachi, in one of the many many guest bedrooms of the Suzushiro mansion. She still found the line of events that led to this outcome from that question to be utterly bewildering. Basically, Chie had prevailed on Yukino to persuade Haruka that it was in her interest to keep her friends close and her enemies closer. In the interest of keeping the third biggest delinquent in Mahora in a place where she could be watched, then, she had been pleased to offer her hospitality to Mai, and thus also to Mikoto, Chie, Aoi, Takumi and Akira (who'd been dragged along with Takumi). Of course, she did have more than enough rooms for all those people. The mansion was really deserving of the title. Apparently, up until eight years ago, it had been the official residence of the mayor of Sakaimachi, who had been a familial connection of some sort to the Suzushiro family. (Chie, unsatisfied with this brief mention, had done some digging and found out that said mayor had been married to Haruka's maternal aunt, and been ousted from office eight years ago on charges of corruption.) The problem was, of course, that even though this was actually a lot more comfortable than the beach house that Mai had been planning to rent for the duration (with the majority of her income from the lifeguard job paying for it) and the food was much better than the instant ramen she'd have been eating, she couldn't get comfortable here. Even without the sensation that she was always being watched — and Haruka or her family should really do something about all those cameras, they weren't even a little bit hidden! — it was way too luxurious. If she allowed herself to get comfortable, going back to her normal life was going to be hard. And then there was the company, as well. Reito, as she was starting to get used to thinking of the Vice President, had been invited down to Sakaimachi even before all of this, as part of an effort to further ties between his family and the Suzushiros. ("Translation, they're trying to get the two of us interested in each other," he'd confessed ruefully to Mai when they'd met the first day of the vacation. "It'd be funny if it wasn't so absurd. Haruka-san is already married to her work.") And he in turn had invited Yuuichi, and naturally Shiho had tagged along. So they were there too. And then, somewhat unexpectedly, Midori had shown up with Yohko-sensei, who was apparently an old friend of hers, along with a younger girl whom she'd introduced as Asakura Kazumi, a student who was getting career counselling from her. "Is that what they're calling it these days," Mai had said when she'd heard about that. "Huh?" Asakura had asked, still a little stunned by the trip down here. (Mai had later been shocked to learn that Midori hadn't been driving, and that Yohko-sensei drove like a maniac.) "Oh, never mind Mai-chan, she's such a kidder," Midori had interjected, smiling broadly and falsely. "Hey, Mai-chan, could I have a word in private. Great, over here ... what the hell, Mai?" "What the hell back at you. What are you doing here?" "Chaperoning. This many students gathered in one place requires a responsible shut up, I know what you're going to say even before you say it." "I was going to say, that's why Yohko-sensei is here, but why are you —" "Ha. Ha ha ha," Midori had 'laughed'. "She is a lot wilder than I am or ever could be, I'll have you know. And anyway, that's not the point. Asakura thinks she's really interested in being a teacher, and I'm trying to help her to realize that no, that's not what she wants to do with her life." "What kind of career counselling is this?" Mai had wanted to know. "The kind where someone realizes that there are better things to do with one's life than reciting rote lessons to unwelcoming kids. Anyway, I don't appreciate the suggestion that anything unwholesome is happening here. She's got a girlfriend whom she's apparently completely faithful." Mai had raised an eyebrow. "It came in conversation! I did not make a pass at her and get shot down!" "Riiight." And so it came to pass that practically her entire circle of acquaintance had ended up here in Sakaimachi. At least Nao hadn't shown her ugly mug, she mused as she read the newspaper in bed one morning. That would just be the straw that broke the camel's back. And then she turned the page and read about a rash of mugging incidents in town recently, crumpled up the newspaper and threw it in the trash before holding her head in her hands.
"Yes, shut most of them down," Haruka said to the maid she'd appointed as the head of video surveillance. "Except for the one observing the room where we display the Van Gogh, and possibly the good grief what are those two doing in the hot tub!" "Well, I think the technical term is —" "I don't care what the technical term is, shut it down shut it down shut it down! Agh, my tender maiden eyes!" she groaned as the feed cut out. "I can't believe those two desperates! To do such things when they're under the same roof as a teacher and —" "C'mon, Midori-chaaan," the vaguely slurred voice came from the speaker, courtesy of one of the cameras that also had audio pick up. "You heard the big man, they're gonna shut down allll the surveilllance. Let's have some fun! I've never done it on a pool table, have you?" "Yohko-chan, you're drunk! You don't know what you're doing! You're going to claim it was all a bad idea tomorrow! And yes, actually, I have, but, but, oh, please, stop kissing me, or, or, oh, fuck it." "Shut that one off too!" Haruka snapped, hand over her eyes. "I should apologize to the delicates, they're clearly the victims of terrible role models. I'm glad that I have such a good —" "Damn pushy wench! Worse than her mother ever was!" came a voice from another audio pick up. "Always with the bossy attitude, and the superiorority, and, and —" "I really think Haruka-san is just trying to be a good daughter to you," a quiet voice replied. "Um, do you want me to turn that one off, too?" the maid asked uneasily. Haruka was no longer there to answer the question.
Yukino had been in more uncomfortable situations than this, but that was a poor pathetic comfort as she watched a respected business leader get more and more drunk as he sat alone in his office, chugging down cup after cup of fine sake, and complained about her best friend and partner. "And the surveillance? How d'you justify something like that? what sort of mind comes up with that? I didn't raise no totalitarian kids!" Since Haruka's upbringing had largely been in the hands of nannies after she turned nine, Yukino could only agree with the sentiment, if not the self-pity behind it. "I think she was really just very nervous about all these people in the house, sir," she told him, trying to sound as diffident as possible. It wasn't easy, since she actually had a very strong opinion on the subject. "And she wanted to make sure that nothing bad happened while she was in charge. That's what she always does, sir. She wants to make sure that nothing bad ever happens to anyone. She wants to protect the world and everyone in it." Yukino abruptly fell silent as she realized that she was getting a bit too emotional, and could tell that she'd gone too far from the way that Mr. Suzushiro was also silent. "You're a good girl, Yukino-chan," he told her at length. "Not really," she said, faintly. "No, no, you are. A very good girl. And you've gotten very, very pretty, too. Just like yer mother, really." Yukino froze as he got up from behind the desk and shambled in her general direction. It was the worst thing she could have done, and she knew it. Running would have been the much wiser course of action — But then he was pressing up against her, his lips on hers, and it was too late, too late to run, and — The doors to the office slammed open, and Haruka stood there with an expression that she'd never seen there, not even when the voting results on the student council election had come in. "Yukino," she said, in a voice only a few decibels louder than Yukino's own normal speaking voice. "Please go to your room. Immediately." Since he'd let go of her as soon as the door open, Yukino's first impulse was to do just that. But first, first she had to say something, "Haruka-san, I —" "Immediately." Yukino left. It wasn't until the door to her room was firmly closed, and locked, that she started crying. She hates me now. I know she hates me now. I love her more than anything, and she hates me now.
"That, that wazzn what it looked like," her father said as she came into the office and closed the doors behind her. "I see," she said. And a second later he was bent backwards across his desk, her hand closed around his throat to cut off the airway. "If you ever, ever so much as lay a finger on her again," Haruka told her father, voice even and level, "I will kill you. Nod if you understand me." He nodded, to the best of his ability. "That's good," she said. "She looks just like her mother, you said. She doesn't look a thing like her mother's husband, does she. Why do you think that is, you lecherous son of a bitch?" As the realization rose in his eyes, she let him breathe again, and stepped back to let him collapse on the floor. "I am what I am," Haruka said at last. "I am what I am, despite you."
A few moments later, they were inside one of the buildings, moving stealhily — well, as stealthily as Mai, the least stealthy member of the trio, could manage. She winced at every noise that she made; Mikoto and Natsuki were both affecting not to notice them. "All right," Natsuki murmured. "This is where they were doing research on the weird mineral they dug up at the beach. We need to go —" "Wait," Mai interjected. "How do you know that? Hey, you never did say how you knew anything about this place." Natsuki drew in a long breath. It might have been Mai's imagination, but she thought she heard a bit of a shudder in that inhalation. "This is where I used to live," she said at last. "You — what?" "I used to live here. Up until nine years ago, this was my home." "... why were you living in a research facility?" "Because this was where my mother was working." "That, no, that doesn't even come close to answering the question," Mai objected. Now Natsuki turned to glare at her. "I don't have an answer to the question you're actually asking. I don't know why my mother had to live here. I don't know why she chose this for us, or even if she did. I was nine years old. I didn't ask questions like that." Now Mai blinked as she did some spontaneous math. "Wait, you're eighteen years old? I thought you were only in second year." "I was held back," Natsuki said tersely, looking away again. "I guess all those absences add up," Mai said, just a bit smugly. Natsuki's eyes went distant as she remembered waking up, hair cut down to nothing, and being told what day it was. What month. What year. "Yes," she said at last. "They do."
It took surprisingly long for her to catch up to the Student Council President, who seemed to be moving quite swiftly for an evening constitutional in fancy dress. Still, once she realized that she was being pursued — or perhaps, who was doing the pursuing — Shizuru slowed down and spoke with Mai. "Is something the matter, Tokiha-san?" she asked, all sang-froid. "Yes, something's the matter!" Mai almost gasped. "That, back there! She didn't mean it!" "I don't think that my Natsuki is in the habit of telling lies." "Are you kidding me? How many absences has she taken for no good reason and come up with some lame excuse for? What are those if not lies! She's not an honest person! But that's good, in this case, because she was just trying to make other people think that she doesn't care about you!" "Really?" Shizuru asked, smiling faintly. "Yes! It's obvious to anyone who looks at her when she's looking at you that she cares about you a lot!" "Not a very good plan, then." "No, no, it isn't, and the way that it's backfiring like this is more proof! Please, just give her a chance to apologize, or something!" Shizuru nodded once. "I will take the matter under advisement." And then she turned to leave. "No!" Mai almost shrieked. "Don't, don't leave it like this. I have a really, really bad feeling that things are going to get worse if you do that! I'll do anything, anything, if you'll come back with me now and let her apologize right away!" "You'll do anything," Shizuru repeated without looking back at her. "Yes." "I see. Well, now that I have given the matter some thought, there is something you can do, Tokiha Mai-san, something that I hope you will do now and in the future as well." "What?" Mai asked desperately. And now Shizuru turned her strange reddish eyes full on Mai's face, and there was a faintly hellish cast to her expression. "Butt the fuck out." Before Mai could even dream of reacting to that, Shizuru turned and walked in the same direction she'd been walking when Mai caught up to her, humming an old movie melody as she did.