by C. M. Lacey
"Shit!" Subaru exclaimed.
She couldn't look away. There it was, standing erect for both of them to see. Her mind went completely blank as she stared at the thing with shock and fascination. Then all at once he covered himself, and turned his back towards them. It was only once his bare bottom came into view did Subaru get a hold of herself. She turned her head upwards, looking at the still standing Ren. She looked just as surprised as Subaru felt. So surprised that she was doing nothing to cover that glorious body of hers.
"S-Sorry!" Nobuyuki stammered. "I didn't mean for this to happen."
"It's okay." Ren said. Still she made no attempt to sit down and cover herself. "You are in a room with two naked girls after all. I guess it's only natural."
"I'm not naked." Subaru spurted out even if she felt naked. There she was in just her underwear with a naked boy who obviously was aroused. She felt the most naked she ever felt in her life.
"S-Sorry." Nobuyuki repeated, his back still facing them. He was shaking. Of course she couldn't read his face, but his body language screamed that he was humiliated.
Subaru, tried to shake away her own insecurities and get control over herself. Gathering her pajamas around her, she stood up and glanced at Ren. "Maybe we should go?"
"I'm sorry Subaru-chan." Nobuyuki muttered pitifully. "I really am…"
Subaru-chan… he called her Subaru-chan, not Akai-san. Subaru felt her face warm up even more than it was on that slip up. There was an impression that he'd very much would have liked to call her Subaru-chan all this time, but stuck with Akai-san because he must have felt it was more proper. Subaru did carry herself more prim than everyone else, but deep down she was a girl. While she liked that he respected her, she always wanted to hear him call her that.
"Do you want us to leave?" Ren asked.
"I… I think it's for the best." Subaru answered for him.
She looked down, then rearranged the clothing in her hands so she could pull on her pants. Ren didn't move, she was just staring as his bare back, as if deep in thought. By the time Subaru placed on her top and started buttoning it up, she noticed that Ren still hadn't moved. She gave Ren a silent questioning look. It was an attempt to get her attention without speaking. Ren noticed Subaru's look, but shook her head.
"Come on." Subaru mouthed. "Get dressed!"
Ren shook her head again and gestured for the door. as if saying: "You go. I'm staying."
Subaru's heart nearly stopped. She couldn't believe what she was seeing. Ren wasn't leaving. She was going to do it. She was going to do it with Nobuyuki. There was a determination on her face, no, a longing desire. Subaru swallowed and shook her head frantically. No! She didn't want that to happen!
"It's okay." Ren mouthed. "I'll be okay."
Subaru stopped buttoning up her shirt, went over, and grabbed Ren's arm. She tugged the girl down so she could whisper properly into her ear. "What are you doing? You're drunk! You can't do something like this!"
"I've wanted to for a long time, Subaru-chan. Now hurry up and leave already."
She didn't say that last part unkindly, but Subaru felt as if she got slapped in the face. Stepping back, she felt her whole body tingle with uncertainty. Why was she freaking out this much? She knew eventually this was going to happen. Now that it was, she couldn't handle it. What options did she have? She couldn't do anything.
Looking at Nobuyuki one last time, she started for the door. She reached for the handle then paused. He obviously didn't know what he was in for, as he still looked completely embarrassed by the corner. In just moments he'd forget about all of this. He'd forget about her.
"Nobu-kun… I'm not mad." Subaru spoke softly. "I… we care about you, and… something like this won't ruin our friendship. So…" She couldn't go on with that frame of thought anymore. All she could think about was that Ren and Nobuyuki were going to do it. Then as she slide the door opened, something she didn't even expect came out of her lips. "Nobuyuki. Please be gentle with her."
But she couldn't stick around for the conclusion of that line of questioning. She slipped out the door, then slide it shut behind her. Her heart felt like it was running a marathon. From inside the room he could hear the two of them talking, but she wasn't sure exactly what they were saying. They're voices were still low.
"Damn it." Subaru rubbed her forehead. "Damn it all."
She started to walk to the room she shared with Ren, but couldn't bring herself to go inside. She didn't want to be in that room all on her own, knowing that Nobuyuki was having sex in the next room. It made her feel strange. Instead she buttoned up the remainder of her pajama top and decided it was time for a late-time soak in the onsen. Sure she already took a bath, but what else could she do? She was in a hotspring inn after all. Her options were limited. She just needed to get her mind off of… of what was happening.
Of course when she arrived at the women's locker room she was completely unprepared for a bath. She didn't have her yukata or any bath towels. Luckily there were some towels prepared by the entrance. Undressing again, she folded her pajamas into the wooden locker provided, then took off her underwear as well. Covering herself with a towel, she entered into the bath, which really was just stepping outside.
By the exit, there was a string of showers where one was supposed to wash up before using the actual hotspring. The ground was paved stone with sink grills spread casually along the floor as to catch excess water. The stone ground extended to the actual hotspring that lay beyond the shower area. There the pool of water was natural. The inside of the spring was worked to be more comfortable to visitors, but other than that, the water and the minerals bubbling from the water were 100% genuine.
There were two other women in the spring, though with the steam surrounding them, it was hard to get a good view on what they looked like. She didn't expect anyone else to be there this late, but it was of no importance. The was a bathhouse after all. She sat down at a bath stool, turned on the shower nozzle, and began rinsing herself off. The water was warm, which was good, because she couldn't stop shaking, thinking about Nobuyuki and Ren.
"I knew this was going to happen…" She whispered to herself. Her mind pictured the image of his thing standing tall, and then the naked form of Ren advancing for him. "… it's only natural for a couple to do things like that…." She continued to herself. But her voice sounded more higher pitched now. Her throat felt strained. "No. I'm not going to cry. I'm not!" Subaru told herself, even if her voice sounded like it was on the breaking point. "Stop it Subaru… just get a hold of yourself."
But say what she might, it didn't stop her body from finally giving in. Tears dripped down her cheeks. On feeling them flow, she burst into proper tears. Dropping the shower nozzle, she buried her face in the palm of her hands and bawled. She knew it was stupid, she knew she was acting like a fool, but her shoulder shook as she weeped. Her chest hurt, and she couldn't stop crying. Her heart was broken.
"Subaru-chan! Oh no!"
Sounds of naked feet came patting on the stone surface. Then all at once a warm wet body pressed against her as arms wrapped around her. She didn't need to look up to know it was Makoto. There was a brief second she wondered why that moron was in the bath with her, but when she heard the second set of foot steps coming their direction, she knew it was Kaede. They were a couple. Of course Makoto was here on Winter Break.
Even as her brain was working through all that, she continued crying. She just couldn't stop. She kept telling her too forget about it, but her body wouldn't let her. It trembled within Makoto's embrace. Stepping in front of her was Kaede. Like Makoto she wrapped her arms around her as well. So there Subaru was, cocooned in between Makoto and Kaede, crying like a stupid idiot. She didn't know how long this went on, she only knew that when her tears ended, she continued dry heaving as if she still were crying.
Remarkably neither girl broke away from her. Makoto, from behind, moved around more than her girlfriend. It was actually a bit odd to feel those breast moving up and down her back. But it was those fingers that caressed her wherever they were that Subaru noticed over all. She'd rub her shoulder, her cheeks, her arm. Whatever she was touching at the time, she'd console. Kaede was the opposite. Her body was soft, but she stayed hugging on position.
"I'm sorry." Subaru finally choked out, once she had come to her senses a little bit. She felt like an idiot, a heart broken fool.
"No! Shh! It's okay. We're here as long as you need us." Makoto spoke in a soothing voice.
"I think I'm over the worst of it." Subaru said. "Really…thanks."
The two girls reluctantly pulled away, but they wouldn't leave. Makoto moved her way in front of Subaru, reached up and pressed her hand on her left cheek. "What happened? Is there something I can do?"
Kaede gave a grunt, and Makoto looked at her curiously. "She lost Nobu-kun, Makoto."
How in the world did Kaede know that? The astonishment on Makoto face read the surprise there as well. Subaru had always heard about Kaede's ability to see things as they were, but this was the first time she had seen it first hand. How long had Kaede known about her feelings? Why hadn't she said anything before? Then again, Kaede wasn't the type of person to start talking about feelings or… or much of anything now that she thought about it. She was a quiet person. It seemed so odd, but perhaps this girl knew everything going around her, yet said nothing to others about it.
"I don't get it. Nobu-kun is going out with Ren-chan." Makoto said densely. Maybe Yui was the class idiot, but sometimes Makoto could be a bit slow herself.
"I was in love with him." Subaru felt stupid for having to admit it. Indeed it was the first time she ever had said it out loud. When Ren would asked her every now and then 'Do you like Nobu-kun?' she could always say no. She didn't like Nobuyuki. She was in love with him.
"Oh dear." Makoto's eyebrows went up. "Oh…"
"Yeah." Subaru sniffed, trying to calm herself down. Her chest still hurt.
"But… but you did everything you could to get them together? I don't get it. If you-"
"Mako-chan, not now." Kaede shook her head, interrupting.
"No." Subaru stood up. The others followed her to her feet. "No, I think I need to just… just get it all out of my system and try to move on. I'll tell you everything, Mako-chan… just don't… don't tell anyone else, okay?"
"Okay?" Makoto said.
The three of them made it to the hotspring. They took a seat in the warm water, the steam around them flowing as she stirred it. The two girls in front of her were silient, letting Subaru collect her thoughts. It seemed so scary to admit everything she had hiding for so long. But something told her she needed to do this. That breakdown she just did was a result of keeping all her thoughts pent up. She didn't want to fall a part again, not in front of Ren or Nobuyuki. She needed to do this.
"It all started 1st year… at the time I had a crush on you Mako-chan. I guess it's not so shocking since everyone else did. But once it seemed like you had settled on Kaede-chan, I gave up. Strangely enough, I couldn't stop watching you. I found myself enjoying the little pranks and jokes that you and Nobu-kun were doing through out the day."
"Oh." Makoto blinked. "You always seemed so annoyed at us."
"I was and wasn't." Subaru smiled a bit. "I mean, I'm class rep, at the very heart of things I want there to be order. I guess I could stop you every time the two of you act up. But I don't. I liked watching. Slowly, something incredibly dumb started happening to me. My crush shifted from you to him. I don't when how or why, but it did."
"I see." Makoto nodded. "So you've liked him since 1st year."
"Yes." Subaru said. "I was starting to come to terms with it. It was becoming more than just a crush. I was finding excuses to talk to him, and I started to realize that it could be more than just liking him. I just couldn't see myself falling for a boy though. Back in Middle School I wanted to be with girls. I lucked out by being in a class that was so open about girl's love. Yet, here I was thinking about him all the time. What was wrong with me?"
Kaede glanced down for a moment, then looked back at Subaru. "I suppose you know how Ren-chan felt all that time."
"Yes." Subaru nodded. "Well not the whole time. We've always been friends. We knew each other since Middle school and only got closer in High School. I could tell she thought Nobu-kun was funny, but I was more blind to her feelings until one day. That day I decided that I would admit everything to her. She knew me better than anyone, and I thought she could help me. But the conversation went all wrong. As I was trying to explain myself, she came out with her own confession before I could. We were talking about Nobu-kun and she just came out with it. So there I was, left hanging out there. I couldn't tell her what I wanted to originally say, not when she told me something so precious."
"Why not?" Makoto asked.
"Because… she's always had problems getting boys to like her. She's so tall, a bit tomboyish, that boys didn't really ask her out. When we got to High School it got worse, only another reason got added on to the list: she became popular. So now they were also intimidated by that. So she always felt like she'd never end up with anyone and sort of resigned herself to that. But when she said she liked Nobu-kun… I… I couldn't just dash that way."
"So you gave up on him."
"I tried." Subaru nodded. "You don't even know how hard I tried. I was doing fine until recently. Ren-chan and Nobu-kun were finally talking. I thought that if I pushed it along it would kill two birds with one stone. She'd be with someone finally and I could get over him."
"Miura happened. Suddenly Ren-chan was going out with him! I was so mad at her, but at the same time I felt a bit of selfishness. Now Nobu-kun was ripe for the taking. When I saw that Nobu-kun was looking sickly I took my shot. I thought if I had a chance, that would be it. Still, I want to be sure I wasn't stepping on Ren-chan's feelings, so I forced her to help me take care of him. Unfortunately, I didn't count on Nobu-kun's complicated home life and all the work that needed to be done. And neither did Ren-chan. I could tell she still liked him. Even if she was dating that idiot, her heart was still with Nobu-kun. So there I was stuck."
"And it only got worse once Ren-chan broke up with Ichiro-san." Makoto finished the thought.
"Yep. Only now Nobu-kun was relying on me. He saw me as a friend. I couldn't just leave, and part of me wouldn't have allowed me to do so… not after I was getting some of what I wanted. So I decided I would take what I could get. I'd be his friend and make him happy by allowing Ren-chan to be his girlfriend. I thought I could handle it. I thought I was doing good. But tonight…"
"Oh Subaru-chan." Makoto sloshed the water around them and hugged her again. "I'm so sorry."
"I did it to myself, Mako-chan." Subaru admitted.
When Makoto let go she looked a bit curious. "What do you think would have happened if Ren-chan and Ichiro-san got along?"
Subaru looked down at the water around her. In the more still areas she could see a beautiful visual of the moon and the stars reflecting off of that. With the steam flowing around them it painted a awe striking picture. She pulled her eyes from the image and looked at the face of the equally as beautiful Makoto. Shaking her head she gave a small laugh.
"Let's not get into that, Mako-chan. It doesn't do to dwell on things that never happened. I mean… do you ever think about what would have happened if you had decided on Shiho-chan or Maria over Kaede-chan?"
"I don't know. I guess not, but-"
"So there you have it." Subaru shrugged. "It's fate, Mako-chan. Sometimes you don't get what you want."
"But you did get what you wanted." Kaede interrupted that thought. "You wanted both Ren-chan and Nobu-kun to be happy. Because of you, they are. Take some happiness in that."
Subaru opened her mouth then shut it. Kaede was right. It was heartbreaking, but she did all this for her friends. She would just have to take the good with the bad and move on. Once again Kaede was cutting through all the BS and striking at the core of the matter. Sure, she lost any hope of being with her first love, but everything she worked so hard on doing for Ren and Nobuyuki had worked out. She shouldn't be playing the victim. She shouldn't be feeling sorry for herself.
"Thank you Kaede-chan."