[a/n] This is a piece written as a commission for my writing shop on gaiaonline. It is a freebie for Luciine. The characters Akira, Lucine and Seiichi belong to her. The content and all other characters presented in the story are of my own invention.

ConCrit is much appreciated!

Enjoy the story!

It was a tradition for students at Seiwa Gakuenn Upper-Secondary School to go on an overnight field trip during their second year. Students anticipated the trip with a sort of relentlessness unrivaled by all else: even the excitement of Sports Day or the Cultural Festival paled in comparison. Field Trips were a privilege reserved for the second year students: their own little event.

So, when Akira and Seiichi told Lucine that, if her teachers gave her leave permission, she would be allowed to accompany them to the mountain reserve, she stumbled back a few steps until the back of her knees bumped her desk chair, and fell on it with a thud, staring at her two friends with baby blue eyes parted in wide disbelief.

"It was my idea," Seiichi boasted. "Did you really think I was going to spend three days at the mountain alone with this guy?" he added, jutting his thumb Akira's way, with a smirk that clearly implied Lucine was nuts if she thought that. Beside him, Akira merely rolled his eyes.

They were in Lucine's bedroom. She had been doing her homework when they'd stopped by to surprise her with the good news. Although Lucine and her sisters weren't normally allowed to have boys in their rooms, her parents made an exception for Akira and Seiichi due to their long-standing friendship with Lucine and their relations with each others families; as long they left the door open, of course.

It was nearing seven o'clock and the sun was setting, but Lucine's house was on Akira's way home and Seiichi never went home until past nine o'clock anyway. He often ate dinner with Lucine and her family after leaving the garage where he worked on his motorcycle and car.

"But," Lucine shook her head, smiling despite her confusion. "How?"

"I told Higoshi-sensei we were thinking of a nature theme for this year's Cultural Festival," Akira leaned against Lucine's dresser, crossing his arms over his chest as he spoke in a slow, pensive tone. It was obvious he took the time to carefully chose each word before speaking it, a contrast to Seiichi's fast-paced, spontaneous dialogue. "Since you're the only first year student on the Council, I wanted you to have the same first-hand experience, at being out in the country, as the rest of us."

Seiichi leaned forward, as though about to share a top-secret with Lucine. "Also my idea. Flutter-brain here didn't do anything other than ask!"

"So, Higoshi-sensei said if you can get the go-ahead from your teachers," Akira went on as though Seiichi hadn't spoken, though his eyes saccaded over to the brunette, squinting in silent chastisement, "You're more than welcome to come along."

"Wow," Lucine grinned, clapping her hands together in unsuppressed excitement. "A field trip with my two favorite boys! It's going to be a blast!"

They left on in mid-June, a bright, sunny, Friday morning, and were scheduled to return Sunday evening. Lucine hugged her knapsack – sewn in a record time of two weeks in her home economics class – to her chest, giddy with excitement. All the students were at least a year older than her, but since she hung out more with Akira and Seiichi than with her classmates, she knew most of them well enough to be on first name basis.

Hogashi-sensei, class 2A's homeroom and physics teacher, stood at the front of the bus, assigning students to their seats for the bus ride. In front of her, Seiichi muttered a curse under his breath as Hogashi-sensei gestured to the open seat beside Akira. Lucine giggled. Despite her friend's outwards bitterness toward Akira, she knew that he was just as fond of him as she was. They were always butting heads – Seiichi was outgoing and his loud-mouth was always getting him in trouble, whereas Akira, Student Council President, was more collected, weighing his options and the consequences of them before speaking or acting on his impulses – but when they set aside their differences and put their heads together, they made quite a team. One year, during Sports Day, they had been assigned as partners. Both sharing an aversion to losing, they had agreed to work together, and had won the trophy.

As she waited for her turn, Lucine adjusted her creamy beige hat on her head to make sure it was still in place.

"Manuean-chan," Hogashi-sensei greeted Lucine when it was her turn to be seated.

Lucine folded into a deep bow. "Hogashi-sensei, thank you very much for allowing me to accompany your class on this field trip!"

Hogashi-sensei smiled kindly at the petite red-head. Although he was not one of her teachers, he knew of her reputation from the other teachers at the school: unpretending, well-mannered and hard-working. Not at all the sort of student to cause a ruckus, which he was sure was why her teachers had allowed her to join the trip and miss two days of school.

"We're pleased you were able too join us, Manuean-chan. Please take a seat by Irie-chan."

Lucine's face split into a wide smile as she bounced off to take her place by a shy-looking brunette with a mousy face. Lucine knew Irie Momoko from Student Council and they got along very well. Lucine had only recently joined the Council in April, and Momoko had been one of the first to make her feel at ease and like part of the group. Despite the workload it promised, Lucine was ready for Sports Day and Cultural Festival to roll around: they were two of her favorite times of the school year and it was an honor to be a part of the crew which not only took on the biggest bulk of the organization, but also ran the majority of the event.

"Hi, Lucine-chan, glad you were allowed to come," Momoko slid over, allowing Lucine to slide in on the seat beside her.

As she opened her mouth to reply to Momoko, Lucine felt a pressure on her head before a sharp tugging sensation. By the time her hands flew to her head, her beanie had been pulled clean off, leaving her hair in a disarray.

"Seiichi-kun," Lucine half-warned, half-whined as she turned around in her seat, getting on her knees so she had a clear view of her friend in the seat directly behind hers.

Seiichi twirled the beanie around on his finger, giving Lucine a look that dared her to misbehave to get her hat back.

"I hope you won't be like this the entiretrip to the mountain," Akira muttered, letting his head fall against the bus window. "Or I won't survive the two and half hours."

"Oh, don't get all self-righteous on me," Seiichi snapped without missing a beat, though his lop-sided smile diminished his bark. "You like it when I misbehave."

The two adolescents locked gazes, a silent battle of dominance that Lucine had grown accustomed too. With a small huff of impatience, she let her chin rest in her hand as she tapped the fingers of her unoccupied hand on the top of the seat, waiting for her two friends to battle it out. While she knew that Akira would speak first, Seiichi was always the one to break eye contact.

The bus was rapidly filling with the two second year science major classes, (the second year literate majors were being taken to a traditional hot spring), and they would be taking off soon. Lucine knew she would have to face front and she wanted the conflict to be resolved or she wouldn't hear the end of it during the entirety of the trip.

"Don't even pretend you knew what that long word meant."

"You just don't like it when I prove I'm just as smart as you," Seiichi replied with an all-knowing lift of his lips.

"Don't make me laugh," Akira said without a crack of a smile.

"Like you even know how. You're so uptight you wouldn't know a laugh if it hit you in the ass."

Lucine rolled her eyes. The routine was so predictable she could practically recite it in her sleep. Still, she would be lying if she said didn't like watching the harmless banter. It strengthened their friendship in a way she didn't believe constantly placating each other ever could.

"Seiichi-san," Akira spoke after a short silence, a tilt of a warning in his voice, "give Lucine-chan her hat back and stop being such a prick."

For a moment, Lucine honestly believed that Seiichi would tell Akira where he could go and do something ridiculously childish like throw her hat down the aisle. Instead, he let out a huff of annoyed air, rolled his eyes and thrust the beanie back Lucine's way.

She giggled, taking it back gently. "Thank you, Akira-kun. Thanks, Seiichi-kun," though she stuck her tongue out when she returned her attention toward the latter.

Seiichi slumped down in his seat, bringing his knees up against the back of Lucine's seat and crossing his arms over his chest. He scowled, a tell-tale sign that he was pouting. "One day, Akira ... one day I'll teach you to have fun. I swear!"

The class (and Lucine) arrived at the resort in the early afternoon. Lucine was to room with Momoko and the rest of the 2A class. With reluctance, she parted from Akira and Seiichi to put her knapsack down in her room. They were only five girls, so the room remained spacious even after they had laid out the mats. Although the boys had been split into two groups, they were still ten per room. Lucine imagined Akira and Seiichi forced to sleep so close that they bumped elbows and could barely suppress an amused giggle at their misfortune.

Their first day at the resort was humdrum, but passed by quickly nonetheless.

After they regrouped, a guide showed them around the resort and explained the different activities they offered. At the front of the lobby, a large map exhibited the numerous accessible hiking trails. Mini pamphlets of the map were free to take and both Akira and Lucine snatched one up while Seiichi grumbled at the back of the group.

"Did you see this schedule?" he vented at them quietly so neither Hogashi-sensei nor the guide would hear them. "I don't even get up this early for school.

"That's because you never come to first period," Akira informed him, unimpressed and uninterested as he strained his neck to see the guide from behind all his classmates and those of class 2B.

"The fresh air will do you good," Lucine smiled kindly at Seiichi, looping her arm around his. "You spend too much time in that garage of yours; the fumes can't be good for you."

Seiichi grimaced, highly doubting the benefits of fresh air, but he shifted his arm out from under hers to wrap it around her shoulders and pull her close to his side. Although he stared straight ahead, the corners of his lips tugged upward and Lucine returned a full grown smile, slipping her own arm around his waist. Akira sent them a disapproving frown, but Lucine didn't care that they could get in trouble if they were caught. Seiichi was so rarely affectionate that she pounced on the moments when they were presented to her.

"See you later," Seiichi waved to Lucine when the sun had set and they were sent to their rooms to get ready for lights out. He followed Akira and the other boys to their room, at the other end of the corridor. Lucine reciprocated the wave and watched as Seiichi leaned in close to whisper something (a secret, a joke?) into Akira's ear. Though she could only see Akira's profile, Lucine knew him well enough to make out the furrow of his brow; no doubt Seiichi had something foolish again – the brunette was grinning stupidly, either at what he had just said, or at Akira's disapproval.

Lucine felt a stab of regret – not a feeling she was a stranger to, after all these years – that she was both a girl and a year their junior. She wanted to share their room and participate in the night jokes they were sure to share, despite their daily conflicts.

"Are you coming, Lucine-chan?" Momoko called out and Lucine forced herself to tear her eyes away from her two best friends. With a heavy heart, she followed Momoko-chan to their room. After her toiletries, Lucine changed into her nightgown and flopped onto her mat, pulling the covers over her head, unwilling to partake in the gossiping and story-telling with the other girls.

Everyone in the room was sleeping when Lucine heard the soft tap. The other girls had drifted off ages ago, but Lucine had remained awake, tossing and turning, now unable to blame her restlessness on the other girls' loud chatter. When she heard the knock, her eyes snapped open. The room was pitch black, and even with her eyes adapted to the darkness, she could only make out the vague shadows of the room. Had she really heard a noise, or was it just her wishful thinking?

The silence echoed around her, but then a soft tapping noise on the door resonated again and Lucine sat up, her heart pounding. Should she go open the door? Although she couldn't hear any voices, a part of her knew Seiichi and Akira were on the other side, but she she was practically naked and there was always a possibility it wasn't them.

As she weighed her options, the door was slid open and Lucine froze as two large shadows entered the room.

'Mountain reserve rapists,' she thought frantically and fell back down, pulling the covers to her chin.

Then the rapist shadow's spoke.

"Ow, fuck, you stepped on my foot, you gigantic klutz."

Lucine's entire body went lax and she grinned. As far as she knew, Seiichi had never raped anyone, much less at a mountain reserve.

"Shut up, you'll wake them. Where's Lucine-chan's mat?"

Lucine sat up. "What are you guys doing here?"

A startled gasp escaped from the shadow behind Seiichi. Seiichi snorted.

"Yeah, I'll wake them up, huh?"

"She scared me," Akira hissed.

"Whatever," Seiichi turned to Lucine. "Come on, we're kidnapping you."

Before Lucine could speak – to point how much trouble they could get in – Seiichi pulled her up and her feet acted on their own accord, following them out of the room and the hotel.

There were lights outside and Lucine could see that both boys were already pumped on adrenaline. Seiichi's grin was the kind that wouldn't disappear even if he wanted it to and although Akira wasn't smiling foolishly, his blonde hair was more ruffled than usual and his cheeks were tinted with pink.

Lucine crossed her arms over herself; even in the May evening she was chilly, the light breeze was traveling freely through the light fabric of her nightgown, and even though Seiichi and Akira were her best pals, she had never worn so little clothing in front of them. Thankfully, both boys respected this and kept their eyes averted. "All right," their giddiness was intoxicating and in an attempt to repress her smile, a smirk formed on her lips, "What are you two up to?"

Seiichi and Akira exchanged a knowing look before Seiichi whipped out a bottle of sake from behind his back.

Lucine laughed. "Oh, no!"

"Oh, yes," Seiichi replied, wiggling his eyebrows, sending Lucine into a fit of giggles.

They found a nice spot in the grass, a few hundred meters from the hotel, so they didn't risk being overheard by the slumbering customers and classmates.

As she flopped down between Akira and Seiichi, a flash of green in Lucine's peripheral vision caught her attention. She grabbed Akira's arm, staring down at the white long-sleeved shirt, where a grass stain resided on the usually unblemished shirt. Akira took pride in keeping his uniforms spotless. "You have a grass stain," she pointed out to him.

Akira frowned down at where she was staring. "Oh," he scratched at the stain, but it persisted.

Lucine narrowed her eyes down at him. "How long have you guys been up for?"

Akira stared at her, mouth falling open, but it was Seiichi who replied, a hint of impatience tugging at his voice. "He probably got it when he sat down. You must be kind of chilly, though, Luci-chan," Seiichi proceeded to unbutton his school vest and pulled his own white shirt over his head. Akira pulled his hand out of Lucine's and averted his eyes from Seiichi's naked torso.

Lucine smiled at Seiichi, glad for the extra clothing. Being a good four inches shorter than Seiichi, the shirt dropped well past her knees and she instantly felt more at ease. While she dressed, Seiichi put his vest back on and unscrewed the bottle of sake. He took a swig before passing the bottle to Lucine.

As a general rule, Lucine didn't like drinking liquor without her parents' permission, but she felt strangely courageous, being outside with the boys after nightfall, and they were already breaking some serious rules, so one more couldn't do any more damage. She took a tentative sip, wincing at the burning sensation down her throat. Akira took the bottle from her quickly, taking a big chug, shocking Lucine. She hadn't known Akira to be such a fan of alcohol – especially not to sake, which she knew, from books, had a higher percentage of alcohol than beer or wine.

They lay on the grass, exchanging banalities, and Lucine felt perfectly content, if not a little buzzed as the night wore on. At one point, she closed her eyes and just let the voice of Akira and Seiichi wash over her, reveling the rare moment of their truce, smiling when Seiichi said something that made Akira genuinely laugh. She wished they would be like this more often, albeit when they were not under the influence of alcohol.

When they finally headed back to the hotel, Akira and Seiichi were more than a little inebriated and Seiichi leaned heavily against Akira, who scolded him, but with a small smile that his usual sober self did not allow. They walked Lucine back to her room first, each hugging her before she slid the door open.

"We'll see you tomorrow, Lucine-chan," Seiichi spoke a little too loudly and Akira elbowed him in the side. "Sleep well."

Lucine giggled, returning Seiichi's shirt to him and slipped back into her room. The girls were still fast asleep and Lucine felt a surge of superiority at having experienced one of the best nights of her life while they had been oblivious to it all. She jumped back in her bed, snuggling down in her blankets, grinning so hard her cheeks hurt. She fell asleep within a matter of moments.