|Into the Light
Author: Ulquiorra9000 PM
Lovestruck but awkward Hiro is trying to work up the courage to confess to the girl of his dreams, Ayame, when the spirit of a deceased classmate appears, complicating his life but also teaching him that everyone deserves a chance in life.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Supernatural - Chapters: 7 - Words: 13,949 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 2 - Updated: 11-27-09 - Published: 11-23-09 - id: 2744431
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Are you ready, everyone?" Mrs. Sato, the sponsor, asked everyone once we were assembled. There were seventeen members of the Culture Club in a group before her, plus one ghost, who was almost bouncing up and down on her heels in excitement. The sun was starting to shine more dimly, being overtaken by dark clouds. I hoped it wouldn't rain, though we would be indoors half the time here.
There was a chatter of excitement, and Mrs. Sato called for quiet. "Now, everyone, the temple staff are being considerate allowing us to take a field trip here, so please be respectful and careful with the site. Now, the focus of this trip with its learning potential for the Club is..."
I had to admit another thing; Mrs. Sato sure could be long-winded! The natural wind came along, too, ruffling our hair. At last, Mrs. Sato got us moving.
"All right, everyone, we'll split into pairs," she said. "Except for one group of three, with our numbers. We'll be in a group at first, then split into our pairs for independent touring. Quickly, now..."
Pairs? Two people spending all this time together, exploring a historic temple and shrine for a whole afternoon? This was the chance I've been waiting for!
"Hiro! Quick!" Kimiko urged me, but then Daisuke had to butt in.
"Hey there, Ayame. Would you be my partner?" he offered, looking cool as ever, other girls looking jealous that he was asking her and not them. Not to mention me! I hurried and moved closer.
"Actually, I was hoping to be with Hiro," she said, noticing me come closer, then took her place beside me. "Sorry, but I missed him on the bus and haven't been around him that much recently. I hope that's okay?"
"Sure thing," Daisuke said gracefully, turning and pairing with another delighted girl.
Wa ha ha! In your face, cool guy! I thought happily, making an enthusiastic peace sign. First victory of the day... a good start!
"You must be pretty excited," Ayame commented, watching. I jumped.
"I... I... I've never been here. It's a new... n-new experience!" I responded, internally wincing. I was still doing that?
"That's right, none of us have been here," Ayame agreed, watching the other pairs starting off deeper into the temple grounds. There were several buildings, including the massive central one, along with gardens. It was quite a sight. "The temple only recently opened itself to field trips like this. Well, would you like to...?"
"Yeah, let's go," I said, leading her onward. We spent a few quiet moments with the other groups, listening to the tour guides and the history and culture behind the temple complex. Kimiko hovered behind me, watching.
"Hey. You're kind of making me nervous," I whispered to her.
"I'm making you nervous?" Katsu asked innocently from behind me, right next to Kimiko.
"Anyone would be nervous with you right behind them," Mitsuko cut in, next to him and looking away with her arms crossed.
I was confused on multiple accounts; I said, "Katsu, what are you doing here? You aren't part of the Culture Club."
"He joined it as of an hour ago," Mitsuko explained, still in the same posture. "Right before we left."
"Oh! So you like our club, then?" Ayame asked cheerfully. "I knew you'd like it, Katsu!"
"Actually, he joined so he could get out of school on this field trip," Mitsuko explained, annoyed as ever. She must have wound up as his partner, somehow.
"Hey, don't talk about me like that!" Katsu objected. "I should talk about myself like that! I joined the club cause school's boring and I wanted some way out. There."
"It's no different if you say it," Mitsuko pointed out.
"Let's all just get along and enjoy ourselves, okay?" Ayame encouraged them. "We don't have to be fighting. Maybe Katsu will appreciate the club and want to stay with us."
"Could be fun," Katsu shrugged happily. "I guess if I go ahead and try something, I might wind up liking it."
"Or mess it up," Mitsuko countered, though I could tell that she was touched by his well-meaning, and I felt heartened. "Don't break anything, or else I'll get blamed too and thrown out. Try to contain your usual self, okay?"
Was it just my imagination, or was she starting to blush, and lose her rigid stance to a little fidgeting? It couldn't be...
"Oh, fine. I won't be a bull in a China shop," Katsu grinned. "Or a high schooler at a national monument. Same thing, if you ask me."
"Come on," Mitsuko urged him impatiently, as soon as the guide allowed us to split into our pairs. Katsu allowed himself to get dragged away, waving me good-bye before he vanished into a building.
As soon as Ayame and I started off again, toward the gardens and were relatively alone, she said, "They're so funny together!"
"And they always wind up in the same place, even though Mitsuko pretty much tries to avoid him," I added. "I don't think she considers him a part of our friend circle, but she always lets him be around. He's not really that bad a guy, I guess."
"I know," Ayame agreed, brushing a hand through her soft hair to get it out of her face. She gave her hand a little flick as her hair fell into place, and I thought the effect was good, even if it wasn't conscious. Such casual elegance, I thought. "She's just wound up."
"Is it because of the upcoming kabuki performance?" I asked.
"That's part of it," Ayame answered. "She acts the bookish type, but still, she really likes to be around others. She feels responsible for the Culture Club, being the top manager. Plus, she pressures herself to get good grades and all that, partly because her parents expect it, and this has made her more distant from others up until recently. I haven't told others, but she didn't really have any friends until she entered high school and met the rest of us. She really likes being with us, but can't let go of her feeling of responsibility, either."
"I can understand that," I said, finding myself well at ease in Ayame's presence. Kimiko followed along, turning invisible to give me a sense of privacy. "Must be hard on her."
"She was a little upset about it for a while," Ayame said frankly. "Not long after we made friends with her, that is. Her parents were upset, telling her that school was a place to launch her into a good university and career, not a place to socialize and relax. She was torn, and, well, came to me for comfort. We have a mutual trust, and it's kept us together."
"I certainly like her, too," I said. The sky was getting cloudier and threatened rain, but the field trip maintained its hustle and bustle. "She has nothing to worry about. Friends like us can only help her in the long run. We're all lucky to have each other."
"Thanks, Hiro," Ayame smiled. "That's a very good thing to say. I'm sure Mitsuko would really like that; she really is fortunate to have us. We're all gifted to know each other, in fact, and I'm happy that you're willing to talk about it... in fact, we haven't really talked that much recently, have we? This is the first real conversation we've had in a while, and it happened so naturally."
"No, we haven't talked that much, now that you mentioned it," I said. A single drop of spring rain fell from the sky. No one else was here, though I could hear their distant, excited voices elsewhere. Because I've been to shy to admit that I love you. "I've been... well, busy, you know, I figured I'd take a leaf out of Mitsuko's book and work harder this year. Plus I've been going over the script for the kabuki performance, with my part as the samurai and all..."
"Well, it's nice to hear you've been working hard," Ayame praised, looking at an elaborate mural on a wall. "That's always a good thing and I'm sure Mitsuko would like it that you take after her."
"Yeah. Maybe we could even form a study group or something!" I suggested cheerily, before remembering that she was already in one. "Wait, I mean..."
Ayame found that funny. "You're a good friend for her too, Hiro," she assured me, looking away from portraits of dragons and spirits and looking at me with those wonderfully deep and bright eyes of hers. "It makes her feel happy."
"Y... yeah, I can be there for whoever needs it," I added. "I'll always be right here whenever I'm asked for. You can count on me."
Ayame looked very happy. "Thank you," she glowed.
"Now's your chance!" Kimiko whispered, fading into view and cupping a hand over her mouth for emphasis, her eyes on Ayame. The other was looking away again. "Show her how much you're there for her, and start by saying 'I know I've been here for you, but I've never been there for the biggest reason I have. The truth is...'"
"It's too soon for that!" I hissed back, and Ayame turned back around.
"Too soon for what?" she asked, curious. A few more raindrops fell outside, the clouds a little darker.
"I-I, um... too soon to prepare for... th-the after-performance party!" I stuttered, going crazy again at the awkward attention I was getting. "You k-know, since the performance is a ways away, even though I'm working hard for it..."
"Well, that's true," Ayame nodded. "You won't have to worry about it,, though: Daisuke is going to host and handle the party. He's pretty helpful, you know, and a really active member of the Culture Club. Not that you aren't, of course."
"Oh, yeah. He's the handy man, all right," I said in good humor, but on the inside my eyes glowed and fire raged around me. Curse you, Daisuke! Getting all the attention and favor even when you aren't there!
"Are you okay?" Kimiko asked me, looking concerned. "You're frowning."
"I – I'm not --" I started to tell her, before I was cut off by sudden shouting that captured the attention of all three of us.
"... that's the last straw, you delinquent!" a temple guard was shouting, over the sound of hurried running. "This is the last time you visit us, kid! Get back here!"
"Noooooooo! I'm sorry, okay?! I didn't mean to break that dog-lion-monster statue thing back there!" Katsu's familiar voice wailed, and I saw him and a disgruntled Mitsuko fleeing a raging temple guard, who brandished a baton.
"It's not a monster statue! How dare you show such disrespect?!" the temple guard roared, gaining on them. "I'll beat you good!"
"Whatever happened to this place being holy and sacred?!" Katsu cried, and the trio raged into the building Ayame and I occupied. Ayame began to voice a question, only to be cut off as Katsu snatched the both of us and had us fleeing the guard with him and Mitsuko. Kimiko drifted along at a rapid pace, giggling behind her hand.
"What's this all about?" I asked Katsu, as more raindrops fell and we ran down the stone road by a fence.
"This idiot was trying to do some re-enactment and knocked over a loose lion-dog statue in the main building," Mitsuko seethed, pointing at Katsu, her glasses askew. "And now we're going to get kicked out!"
"Quick! We'd better pray to one of the other holy statues to be saved from this demon that pursues us!" Katsu cried, stretching out his arms as another temple building drew nearer. "The gods will have mercy on us!"
"You'll never get away!" the guard roared, and then Mitsuko took her chance: she extended a leg and tripped Katsu, leaving him behind to the mercy of the guard, who promptly dragged him away. The rest of us slowed to a halt, panting and gasping.
"And that... is why I don't like to be around him," Mitsuko wheezed, looking back to where Katsu had been as she pushed her round glasses back into place.
"At least we're..." I started, before someone else showed up: Daisuke, of all people!
"Have you been running?" he asked conversationally, wandering up to us alone, hands in his uniform pockets. "Why the rush?"
"It... was that idiot Katsu getting a guard to chase us all this way," Mitsuko explained, her breathing returning to normal. "He's at it again..."
"Hmmm. Well, we shouldn't let something like that ruin our time here," Daisuke said brightly, motioning for us to follow him as he started off. "My partner got separated from me, so would you all like to join me instead? I was about to visit the shrine, since the guide said it was so interesting. Isn't this place great? So much history here!"
"Yes, that's right!" Mitsuko agreed cheerily, pleased to have a partner more serious about the field trip. "There's so much to learn here."
"Yeah, there is. I hardly ever get out beyond the city limits. There's a lot to see and do beyond our own comfort zone," Daisuke said grandly, spreading his arms. "Even during something as simple as a field trip. Hey, is it starting to rain?"
Though Daisuke was annoying me with his usual popular charms, I had to agree with him on that last point. The weather had been threatening rain for a while now, and it began to rain in earnest, the drops pattering off the roofs in a light mist.
"Whoa! Get under a roof, quick!" Daisuke cried, his hands over his head as he made for the nearest building, Mitsuko following. Ayame was a little behind, and she was getting soaked fast. Not wasting a second, I removed my uniform's jacket and draped it over her.
"There," I said. "Let's get inside."
"Oh. I... yeah, okay," Ayame agreed, joining me in following Daisuke and Mitsuko to the building. "Thank you. But aren't you getting wet?"
"Naw, it's fine," I assured her, as our footsteps splashed on the stone walkway.
"Now's your chance!" Kimiko told me, drifting before me. I flinched.
"You already said that!" I whispered to her.
"I did?" Kimiko wondered, a thoughtful finger on her chin. Then she brightened. "Then this is your real chance! I saw this movie once where two lovers were in the rain and they --"
"Not now!" I mouthed, blushing and shaking my head, getting water flecks everywhere.
"What is it?" Ayame asked me.
"I-I... I'm just shaking the water out of my hair," I explained hastily, hoping she didn't notice my redness. "Something like that. I think..."
Ayame smiled. "You're funny, Hiro!"
"Am I? I never thought..."
"She already told you that! Don't you remember?" Kimiko hissed, cupping her hands around her mouth. "Don't you?"
"Don't harass me!" I hissed back.
"Who's harassing you?" Ayame asked me.
"K-Katsu! Actually, he was harassing the guard by knocking over that statue. Ha ha..."
"You're going in the wrong direction, Hiro!" Kimiko pointed out, pouting. "Don't fail your mission! Unless you promise me you'll succeed next time!"
At the same time, Ayame had asked, "I had an idea. Maybe you could help Daisuke prepare for the party? He has a large workload right now..."
To Kimiko I said, "I will," and realized to my horror that I agreed to working with Daisuke! Nooooo! I didn't like that guy and I got the feeling that he didn't like me, even though he acted friendly to me along with everyone else. What was that guy thinking from day to day? What was Ayame thinking? What was I thinking for allowing this situation to grow to complicated? Someone help me!
"All right!" Kimiko cheered to my answer.
"Thank you so much!" Ayame cheered to my answer.
I groaned in dismay.