shuu . sky
Chapter One // The Master Matchmaker is Challenged
Her name was Ogata Ame. Everyone always said that no one could get inside her mind, that she wasn't typical. She brought people together but never thought about love herself. She claimed herself to the best matchmaker in Iwamura High School, and she always prided herself on being undefeatable. But she didn't count on a certain baseball player.
His name was Nagisa Shuu. He would come to challenge her.
Ame took the withered roses from the boy's sweaty hand, looked at them with disgust, and laid them down on her desk. She looked into her white messenger bag and quickly dug out a roll of pink, metallic ribbon with a cheesy teddy bear design and a pair of scissors. She held up both items while looking straight at her clueless client and then down at the pathetic flowers again. Ogata Ame, the master matchmaker of her high school, put down the cutting instrument and swiftly gathered a series of papers into her hand and read aloud, "Yamanaka Karin. A second year with an affinity for cute things. And fresh flowers. Now, when you hired me for the job, you said you would do anything to get this lovely girl. Tell me, Yamamoto, aren't these flowers, well, past their prime?"
The hopeless upperclassman didn't want to look up at Ame; even though she was a year younger than him, she had a sharp elegance about her that made it hard to actually treat her like the underclassman she was. Ever since he had hired her two days ago, Yamamoto noticed a confident air from her, almost as if she regarded herself as a princess, with her sharp dark-brown eyes that always seemed to be glaring right at him, even if he had done nothing wrong.
"Ah, well, you know, I'm just a kid, and I can't really afford fancy flowers…" He said, thinking that he had found the perfect excuse.
Ame frowned even deeper, replying with a scoff. " Sad, sad excuse. Don't tell me that. Do you think a girl like Yamanaka, who's all into that happy marriage stuff will settle for a third-year with no prospects for his future?" She took a rubber band from her sweater pocket and tied her curly black hair back. "Flowers aren't the only problem; with a simple ribbon we'll fix it up. But with your grades, no apparent talent in anything, how can you really please her? She likes stability, bad boys are really just for the naïve girls."
Yamamoto crossed his arms. "I didn't hire you to tell me what to do with my future." He said crossly.
"You don't realize," Ame said as she rolled up her sleeves and gathered the four flowers together into a neat arrangement and cutting a piece of ribbon just long enough to make a decent bow, "But everything goes into account in the game of love. She won't judge you only on your cool haircut and the suave way you hold a cigarette. Sure, some girls will be like that, because they don't know any better, and maybe that'll make my job easier in the long run, but you can't honestly think we're all that one-dimensional. Now, hold out your hands, please."
Yamamoto did as he was told and Ame placed the ribbon in his palms.
"Now, I hear from your part-time job at the little gift shop downtown that you're quite good at wrapping things. Wrap the flowers, quit smoking, put on a smile, and tell her your feelings." She handed him the scissors. "You're quite lucky she's quite a romantic. I don't have to scheme at all."
It seemed that Yamamoto was taken aback at this girl's wisdom, rather her outspokenness. He tied the string into a neat bow, with each side almost completely even without a word. He finished and held it up to Ame to see. She put on a smile and nodded in approval.
"What if you're wrong, Ogata? I've known her for years, since middle school, and she's never said anything about my habits." He raised an eyebrow in doubt. "What if she doesn't mind what I do?"
Ame laughed. "Why do you think that she's never said anything? Perhaps she likes you, but those habits of yours are what's keeping her away. Tell me, do you really, really love her?"
He nodded, blushing. "Yeah, I do. I just want to tell her before I graduate."
"You see, that's the Yamamoto she wants to be with," Ame said in a softer voice.
Yamamoto flashed a wide grin, nodding again furiously. "Yeah! Ah…thanks, Ogata!" He gripped the flowers tighter, straightened his unkempt hair and took a deep breath. Ame gave him a look of approval and he bolted out the door, nearly tripping on the way out.
Another successful mission.
CoolMail Version 7.6
Ah…Um, I've never really done this before…but well, I want to make a request concerning your Matchmaking services. I heard your club is the best! My name is Horikita Nanako, and there is a boy I really like! Is there any way you can help me? I know you get lots of requests, but I would like your help! It would really be nice! My friend Yamanaka is now dating Yamamoto-kun, all thanks to you, and I'm hoping you can help me with success too!
Thank you so much!!
Ame could smell the sweat in the air, and frankly, it was quite unpleasant. She sat in the grass, soaking up the summer sun, as the baseball team held their daily morning practice. She didn't know where her newest client was; she was supposed to meet Ame over twenty minutes ago, and judging by the way more and more students passed the field, she deduced that class would be starting soon.
Ame whipped out her cell phone, ready to call her advisor, Tanaka Jun, a first year student with a knack for technology and the theatrics. Maybe she could get him to check for any emails about cancellations, but she was just starting to believe that she forgot. She waited for the dial tone as a baseball came flying over to her side, narrowly missing her by a foot or two. She completely forgot that she had called Jun.
One of the baseball team players, the first baseman, ran over to where the ball was and bent down to pick it up. He took off his cap, wiped the sweat off his forehead, and frowned at Ame as he put the ball into his glove.
"I really don't think you should be sitting here. Your cell phone, not to mention your face, might get broken." he said in a blunt voice.
"Funny, shouldn't boys like you be more catering towards girls? Maybe a little more sensitive? An attitude won't get you anywhere, Nagisa." Ame retaliated.
Nagisa Shuu, star first baseman, and most importantly to many girls, the heartthrob of Iwamura High School, raised an eyebrow incredulously. "Why should I?" He threw the ball back into the field, hearing the team captain yell at him to get to the lockers and get ready for class. "I don't even know you."
"Then aren't you a little perplexed on how I even know your name?" Ame asked, picking up her bag.
Shuu shrugged, unbuttoning his baseball shirt, shaking the neckline free of sweat. "This school's not that big."
"Is that so?" Ame smiled. "Well, it's very nice to meet you, then. My name is Ogata Ame."
He rolled his eyes and walked away, slowly picking up the pace until he reached a sprint. He dashed across the track into the boy's locker room, ready to start his day. She sat there for a moment longer, drifting off into the realm of her own thoughts until she heard her cell phone go off with a loud ring tone that was too annoying to have in the morning. She remembered she had left Jun hanging on the phone before.
"Ah, Jun-kun, sorry about that. I nearly got hit by an baseball and I found that more important than a phone call." She answered with a laugh.
Jun replied back with an exasperated chuckle. "Really? Ah, well, I guess your life outweighs me, huh? Listen, Horikita had an emergency swim meet this morning, and she couldn't make it to the field. Reading this email, I guess she decided to reveal her target over the message, not in person."
Ame sighed, getting up. "Well, that's not fun. I always like getting them as surprises. "
"Well her choice doesn't really come as a surprise, since you're already in the baseball team area. You can already guess that it's one of them."
"Mmm," she wondered, looking at the dwindling number of athletes near the dugout, all of them gathering their things and ready to go inside for class. "Just tell me, I really don't feel like guessing right now. I didn't get enough sleep last night and I woke up too early for a mission that I thought I would start today."
"Pity points for you, really," Jun replied with a pinch of sarcasm. "Well, I'll give you some clues. He's very, very popular with the girls, despite an indifferent personality."
'Oh God,' Ame thought in annoyance.
Ame was beginning to understand the situation; Horikita Nanako, a modest girl with a mediocre social ranking was after him. Nagisa Shuu, probably the most unshakable boy in the whole school, was her target; he was incredibly cold to most people, not just girls, in general, and never seemed to care to talk, nonetheless interact, with any of them. Ame was sort of surprised that no one had requested him earlier—perhaps that illustrated the severity of his detachment. The matchmaker also further concluded that since Nanako was a naïve first-year, she was not aware of his nature. Maybe she thought of him as one of those stereotypical, girly comic book anti-heroes where he only needed a little-heart melting from a special someone.
And Ame had no doubt in her mind that he was only putting up a front, that he was honestly like every other boy on the planet; there was no way someone could be so simple, so apathetic. She also believed that Nanako could melt that little iced heart of his, but of course, with her help.
Ame smiled at the thought of a new challenger.
'Eh? Ogata-senpai, did you hang up on me again?'
'Isn't that Ogata Ame? God, she's so beautiful…'
'You shouldn't say that too loud, idiot, you have a girlfriend.'
Ame walked past the crowds in the hallway that gathered outside the classrooms during the lunch session, ignoring the whispering; it was something she was used to, and she learned to tune it out, whether it was negative or positive. She made her way to the empty stairwell where Nanako and Jun were waiting. Jun was playing on his game boy, not even aware of Ame's presence, while Nanako stood nervously on the side, bowing timidly and slowly. Nana stood up as Ame went over to Jun and snatched his game boy away, scaring Jun to no end. The redhead pushed his glasses back up to his face and took the device back, stuffing it in his pocket.
"Jun-kun, are you really sure you're up to this? I haven't used you as for a scheme for like three weeks. You sure you aren't rusty?"
Jun rolled his eyes, smirking. "Really, Ogata-senpai, you have to have more confidence in me."
Ame laughed. "I know, I was kidding. I don't doubt your skills whatsoever." This caused Jun to blush slightly.
He shook himself free from this unknown, uncomfortable sensation and cleared his throat. "Y-yeah, let's get this over with. I was in the middle of leveling my swords guy."
"Very productive, Jun-kun," Ame said, and turning her head to Nanako, she continued, "listen, we only have five minutes before he comes. Nagisa Shuu will come up the stairs at exactly Twelve-fifteen to sit on the roof and read or eat lunch with some baseball-team friends. According to his fan girls, he's nearly always on time, give or take a minute or two. What I want you to do, Jun-kun, is pretend that you're trying to, well, take advantage of Miss Nanako here. Push her up against the wall, try to kiss her, something seductive."
Nanako widened her eyes, exclaiming, "What?! How will that help me?"
Ame sighed, replying, "Listen. How can he just stand by as a girl is potentially being played with? Judging from the way he tried to get me from sitting by the baseball field, he'll have no trouble trying to get Jun-kun to stop. Everyone thinks he's so indifferent to everything, but please, he's like any other boy deep down; he'll save Nanako because he'll want to be 'a knight in shining armor'. Right, Jun-kun?"
Jun was looking down the stairwell, spotting a black head of hair making his way up from the first floor. "Ogata-senpai, get out of here, he's coming!" He took off his glasses, quickly pushed his hair back and quickly went over to Nanako, grabbed her chin with another hand on her shoulder, and looked at her intently as he had her against the wall.
"Remember," he whispered to the timid first-year student, "resist me." Ame nodded in approval of the scene and made her exit back into the hallway.
And from the corner of his eye, he saw Shuu ascend the stairs. He took that as a signal to start.
"Hey, baby, stop pushing me away. You know you want me. You're so cute, how about we hang out in a broom closet for a while?"
Nanako was already too thoroughly disgusted to have to act. "No, stop it, let me go!"
Shuu stopped about a yard or two from the mock-couple and raised an eyebrow. Jun pretended that Shuu wasn't there, snickering and bringing his face closer to Nanako. She yelped, looking at Shuu in desperation.
"My, my, the first years sure get a little crazier each year," the baseball star mumbled, deciding to pass them.
'What?' Jun thought. Ame was completely wrong—he was no knight-in-shining-armor. He looked to Nanako, who was just as clueless as Jun. He told the nervous girl to cry help to the baseball star, but he already climbed the stairs all the way to the roof. He separated himself from her as Ame came bursting through the doors, back into the stairwell.
"What in the hell was that? Why didn't he stop?" Ame asked frantically, letting her voice echo. "What kind of guy just lets an innocent girl be alone with a scumbag? Ugh!"
Jun wiped his glasses with his shirt and put them back on, letting his bangs fall back on his face. "Hmm, perhaps you've just been defeated. My, my, twenty-nine successful pair-ups and one failure? Ouch."
"No, I haven't failed. Far from it. I just have to try a different tactic." Ame was beginning to think that she had to reach further into her resources, perhaps do a little more research on Nagisa Shuu. There was no way he was so nonchalant about everything; something had to make him tick. She would get to him sooner or later—she wasn't a twenty-nine-time successful matchmaker for nothing. She would make sure Shuu was going to be her thirtieth.
'How could you?!'
'You don't know anything. You have no idea how much I've done for this family!'
Ame could still hear the sound of glass breaking for the umpteenth time in her mind, her conscious caught in a realm of neither dreaming or awareness. It was almost like a cycle: Ame would come home from school or be in the middle of piano practice when she'd hear her father's furious footsteps stomp across the room upstairs. She then imagined the yelling, the furniture pushing, the porcelain smashing. It was a common occurrence in the Ogata household, and Ame always tried to tell herself that, but it was just as painful every time.
"Ah, Miss Ogata. Miss Ogata, wake up."
Ame opened her eyes slowly, feeling the heaviness in her eyes; she had probably cried herself asleep, although she liked to think it was unintentional. The first thing she saw this morning was a maid's silhouette, her head covered by her favorite cream-colored sheets. She sat up, lifting the linens from her head and looked around. It was in a shambles, with the closet door flung open and clothes lying on the floor everywhere, her shelves finding that they were sans-books. However, her very light-colored room seemed to bask in the sunlight today, which was strange because she usually woke up a little before the sun was up. It was also peculiar that her staff of maids was waking her up today, when usually she had an alarm clock to do the job for her.
Which probably meant one thing—she slept in. She looked around for her alarm clock, and found that it was lying on the floor, the minute hand in one place and the hour hand in another. She had probably knocked it down at some point.
"Damn." She muttered in annoyance, getting out from under her blankets. Grabbing her uniform from the maid closest to her bed, she quickly got dressed and brushed her teeth. She quickly put on her school shoes, grabbed her bag, and ran down to the kitchen, ignoring the rubble the staff was trying to clean up, quickly decided to skip breakfast, and raced out of the house. Her driver was waiting outside, but Ame was already making her way to the gate.
"Miss! Miss, the car is ready! It has been ready!" he called.
Ame waved her hand away, replying, "it's fine! The traffic is insane this time of day, and the bus takes a different route! I need to leave now to barely be in time for school! I'll see you later!" She dashed off, finding the right bus terminal about two blocks away and sat there for about five minutes until the bus came. It was sort of an older model, the advertisement on its side chipping off and definitely outdated. However, all Ame wanted to do was get to school, farther away from her own home, so without hesitation she pulled out her bus card and got on. She stumbled to the back as the bus began to move again, sitting down in one of the only free seats on the bus—a duo seat with someone else who had their gaze transfixed out the window. She continued to watch the passenger next to her, who wore the boy's Iwamura High School uniform and had a head full of black hair and pale, creamy looking skin. She inspected his face further and found that it was Nagisa Shuu; he was so lost in his own thoughts, it seemed, that he didn't even notice Ame's presence.
She found that not only could she use this opportunity to further dissect the psyche of her newest target, but use him as a way to forget last night.
"Good morning, Nagisa-kun," Ame greeted cheerily, although it was a little forced. "Shouldn't you already be at school for practice? At this rate you'll barely be in time for class." She put her book bag on her lap and sat back comfortably, waiting for his response.
Shuu glanced at her and gestured his head upward, signaling a hello. He turned his head back to the window and continued with, "Ah Ogata Ame, field-girl. Seems you survived yesterday's practice. You're lucky there's no morning practice today, or you'd probably have a concussion." He finished off with a slight nod.
"Yes, it seems that I've survived. How fortunate of me." Ame laughed, although it was a little calculated and not in the least sincere. She found that Shuu had took one glance to the other side of the bus but then quickly back to the window. She also observed that he let a sigh escape from his mouth, almost as if in exasperation. Ame stole a look at what he had been looking at; by the center of the bus she found that two girls were sneaking several glimpses in her direction, and then followed with a series of high-pitched giggles and whispers. She figured that they were babbling about Shuu, and then he was trying his best to ignore them.
But with a rub of his temple, as if in frustration, he said to Ame, "They're going to come here, so I suggest you move before you're annoyed to death."
'Oh, does he know them?' Ame thought in curiosity.
And just as he predicted, the two girls, obviously from a different high school, judging from their navy-blue, sailor style uniforms which differed from the dark-gray attire and white shirt policy of Iwamura High School, clumsily made their way to the back aisle of the bus, where Ame and Shuu sat. They were obviously trying to ignore the fact that Ame was there, batting their fake eyelashes straight at Shuu.
"Nagisa-kun! You look so tired today, lying your head on the glass like that! I hope you didn't stay out too late last night! Fooling around with girls really hurts our feelings, you know?" Exclaimed one of the girls with a neck full of electric colored plastic jewelry, her hair looking as if it had been dyed one too many times and was left with a straw-like texture. The other girl at her side nodded timidly, flipping her hair flirtatiously.
Shuu scoffed. "Yes, I'm afraid that was it."
"Mayu-chan, did you hear that? Nagisa-kun, please tell us you don't have a girlfriend now!" The more energetic girl pleaded.
Ame rolled her eyes. 'God, he wasn't lying about them. But it's so easy to figure out what he's going to say…'
She looked to Shuu for his seemingly obvious response, to find that he was not only was he keeping quiet, but was actually smirking, too. The two schoolgirls stood there in apprehension.
"Well," Shuu finally responded, "I'm afraid that well, I do."
'What? Wait, WHAT?' Ame couldn't help but let her face go into an expression of shock. What was she doing, mapping this whole mission out when the targeted boy was already dating someone? She tried to restrain herself from biting her lower lip: who could he possibly be dating? He never really showed interest in anyone in their school, but maybe that was because he had been dating her for a while, before they had even started high school. Ame realized that with his looks and that aloof personality of his that he could work with a wider spectrum of girls.
Mayu, the more shy girl, stepped forward, exclaiming, "Who?!"
Shuu lifted his head from the window and sat up, unexpectedly putting his arm around Ame's shoulder and smiling. He pretended to brush his lips against her cheek, while whispering, "Play along and I'll never have to see them again," very quickly.
"Ogata Ame, this girl right here. If you weren't rude and at had at least said hello to her, you wouldn't have had to find out so bluntly. Look at her, she's shyer than ever now. With how open you two are, she might think I'm cheating on her or something."
'WHAT THE HELL?' Ame sat there frozen, not knowing what to say or partially even think. Nagisa Shuu was certainly not the boy she expected him to be. How was it that he could be completely uncaring to an apparent player the next? There he was, with a condescending smile to the two annoying girls, his eyes actually showing emotion other than an responsive, sleepy look. Was it possible that he liked Ame? Was he just as good as playing games as Ame was? Her head was filled with several questions, and her complete silence wasn't helping her out either.
The dyed-hair girl tugged at the other girl's sleeve, signaling for them to get off the bus at the next stop. They didn't say a word to Ame and only left her with an envious, embarrassed look as they moved back up the aisle towards the front of the bus. But no one could be as embarrassed as Ame; at this point there were other Iwamura High School kids on the bus with them, and with both their high statuses and reputations, there was no doubt that they were listening.
Ame sort of wanted to kill Shuu. She sat in her seat, moving farther away from Shuu, discovering he had gone back into his resting state, with the same lazy face. Crossing her arms and taking deep, long breaths, she tried not to yell at him right then or there, or hit him in the face with her leather bag. She decided to wait to murder him when they got off the bus, where it was harder to make a scene. The bus lurched forward for another five minutes until it finally came to a halt; the operator came over the scratchy intercom and said politely, "This is the last stop, thank you and have a good morning."
Ame and Shuu gathered their things in silence, although Ame was already waiting to berate him for utterly tarnishing her nearly-gossip free reputation. They off at the back exit and as soon as they hit the pavement, Ame took her bag and hit Shuu. She stayed still in front of him with her arms crossed.
"Thank you?" Shuu responded, raising his eyebrow. He stood there for a moment but then proceeded to walk away. Ame followed after, taking hard, pavement-pounding steps.
In a hushed voice, glancing at the Iwamura high students behind them who were whispering and eyeing the two of them, she asked, "How could you just say that on the bus? I barely know you and you're saying I'm your girlfriend? Are you kidding me?"
Shuu simply shrugged.
"Do you like me or something, Nagisa-kun?"
He shook his head. "Nope. Like you said, we hardly know each other. Really simply put, I got tired of those two girls bothering me everyday. You just happened to sit next to me today, and you are the attractive type, so really it was just a stroke of luck."
"That's horrible. You didn't think about the consequences for me. How are people supposed to take me seriously if they'll think I'm making out with you in a corner somewhere all the time? I really, really don't need people thinking I'm going out with you."
He stopped, letting the stream of passing kids from the other buses and trains pass by.
"What, will your client get angry or something?" Shuu asked Ame, surprising her.
Ame shook her head furiously, frowning. It was if he had just checkmated her in a competitive game of chess. She looked down to the floor, retaliating, "I have no idea what you mean."
Shuu let out a small, condescending laugh, if not a scoff, and started to walk off again. But before he got too far, he looked behind his shoulder, and looked Ame straight in the eye. She caught his gaze, trying to pretend that his knowledge of her matchmaking mission wasn't just totally exposed.
"I suggest that next time you don't plan out your missions in the stairwell. People can hear, you know?"
Ame was figuring out what to say to him, but no words came out. He was there at the stairs, and with the ridiculous echo in that part of the building, it shouldn't have been a surprise that he could hear what Nanako, Jun, and her were saying. They had only assumed that he had gone up to the roof when they broke out in conversation. How could have Ame miscalculated this much? Did she underestimate the stoic first-baseman and mistaken him for an imbecile of sorts? These questions and more raced through her mind, and it seemed that Shuu had one thing left to say.
"By the way, there's no way I'm going out with her."
A/N: Hello! This is my new story, as you can see. Well, if you read ohTHYheart and wondering why its not here anymore, I'm putting it under a massive, massive renovation! But I really wanted to get this one out, and I hope you all enjoy it! I'm a bit rusty, and I hope it doesn't suck too much! The idea has been building up in my head for a couple of months now, so it was time to let it all for the rate and reviews, if I get any, ha-ha.