Once things had gotten better, the music started, and everyone began to dance, eat, and schmooze, (Usagi mostly eating!) Soon, Minako brought out her guitar, and there was a call for Tom to sing. He asked Minako about a certain song, and she was happy she knew it. With that, Tom broke into Moonshadow by Cat Stevens. She then broke into /Country Roads/, and everyone joined in on that. Then Rei said, "Okay, Tom-kun, now I am going to teach you one of our songs."
With that, she began to teach him /Biwako/, a well-known Japanese folk song. Tom fumbled with it at first, and then began to get the song. Setsuna then went into another room, and she brought out a box and said, "This is agift for our newcomer. I bought it mainly to greet you, but now I realize just how important this is."
She opened it up, and it was a full men's kimono, complete with the house shoes and everything that would go with it. Tom started to tear up again, but managed to stifle it and smile, "I...I've never had friends like...like..." and he could hold it no more, and started to cry again, this time with tears of joy. Setsuna hugged him, and then everyone joined in, making their new friend and comrade welcome. Makoto then said, "Go put it on! Let's see how you look!"
They all gleefully agreed, and Haruka then said, "Yeah, I'll show you how it goes."
Tom looked askance at this, and said, "Um...that's not a problem?"
Haruka came up and smacked him on the back like any of the few buddies he had on base and said, "Nah, we're friends anyway, right?"
She led him off as others snickered, and Michiru looked at them knowingly.
When they came back, Tom was resplendent in his outfit, and Usagi said, "We're going to turn you Japanese yet!"
That sparked something in Tom's memory, and he went over to the Karaoke machine, hoping it was in there. It was, he hit the music, and sang the Japanese version of /I'm Turning Japanese/. Everyone was busting a gut on this, and that started a round of Karaoke for everyone. One interesting thing that Ami began to note was how Makoto was staring at Tom from time to time, with a small smile on her lips, with this admiring look on her face. She was not sure what that was all about, but she liked what she saw. As they were singing and snacking, Tom got cute, and picked up an empty 2 liter bottle and walked over to Makoto, tapped her on the head with it, and said, "Bonk."
She ignored it, but Tom came back a few minutes later, and went, "Bonk,"again. After another time of this, she was getting a bit aggravated, grabbed one for herself, and went to Tom, saying, "Bonk."
Tom got a smirk on his face, and "Bonk," a touch harder. She retaliated, and before you knew it, they were trying to bonk each other crazy, laughing all the way. Everyone was amused until Tom went up to Usagi and went, "Bonk."
It was on! Before you knew it, everyone was bonking each other and having ablast. Suddenly, a pillow came down on Tom's head, and it was Hotaru, not having found a bottle for her. Now it was an all out pillow and bonks war! Before long, they all fell in a heap on the floor, laughing and exhausted. It was late now, and bed seemed like a good idea at this point. They would get up the next day, do homework, and then Tom told them he would take them all to askate park and teach them something about the art. However, as they all began to reset the futons, (being kicked aside from the fight,) Makoto took Tom's hand and said, "Please, always know you have friends and family with us, especially now."
"Thanks," said Tom, but then they just stood there looking at each other. "Well, good night," said Tom, and Makoto said, "Uh huh," but they just stood there. Tom, amused, said, "Um...you have to let go of my hand for me to actually sleep."
Makoto turned red, said, "Oops! Sorry, I guess so!" and she went to her spot, wiping off a touch of blood.
The next day, Makoto awoke early with Rei and Setsuna to prepare breakfast for everyone, and once they were well foddered, they all began to get their homework done early so they could enjoy the rest of the weekend. They managed to finish by 10:30 that morning, and then Tom said, "Okay, everyone, ready for some fun?"
This was also the first time they saw Tom dressed in civvies, and he wore Chuck Taylor's, denim shorts a tee shirt with a flannel shirt on that. He then said, "You ready to shred?"
They then went to the skate park where they had boards for rent. They also had safety equipment, for no one was allowed on without it. Tom never liked the stuff, but he wore it just so he could use places like that. For some, it was their first time on a board, and he had to teach them the basics of balancing on them, and then how to roll. Then, for the beginners, he took them to the shallow bowl and showed them the basics of that. Once done, (and after a few tumbles, especially Usagi, who managed to clear out four other people with her,) they all took some time in the bowl. For those more daring, and more skilled, he took them to the half-pipe. "Okay, now I would not try any fancy things beyond a 360 if you are not confident, so keep it basic. Oh, and, as you can see, there is an etiquette here. We take turns, and you just feel out how long you should be out there: normally no longer than what you can endure. It's my turn, so watch."
With that, he popped up the board, leaned into it, and took off. He did acouple of jumps to get up to speed, and did some good tricks: spin the board, handstand, 360, and then a 440. He then built up speed and popped the 720-a hard trick. Everyone watching saw that and began to tap the edge of the pipe with their boards. "I could try for the 900, but that is the hardest trick in this."
Michiru satisfied herself with Setsuna by watching everyone, and Michiru was very impressed with Haruka. She seemed to pick up on it quickly, and though her tricks were not elaborate, they were impressive for a novice. However, Hotaru stole the show. She started tearing it up as if she had been doing it for years. Then, to steal the show, she hit the ramp a few times, got up to speed, and then turned the 900. Everyone went wild! Setsuna was well impressed as well. Hotaru just took it in silent stride and smiled. Then Makoto gave it a shot. Being that she was somewhat of a tomboy, and a natural athlete, she was doing well. However, when she got to the top, she lost her timing and went tumbling down to the bottom. Tom was there in a flash. "Are you okay?" shouted Tom, "Is there anything broken?"
Yet, Makoto just winced, looked at him, and said, "Relax, nothing's hurt."
She then smiled at him and said, "What, do you think I'm a crybaby?"
She then went back up and did it again, successfully this time, and Tom was quite impressed. Still, he also noticed how his heart was racing as he watched. He then came to, shook himself, and went back to the bowl to see how the others were coming along.
Rei was doing well, but wanted to content herself with that, while Ami was shredding it up. "Hey, Ami, I never thought you the athletic type," said Tom,"How are you doing that?"
"Oh it's very simple she said," taking a second to explain, "You see, I take into account the traction of the wheels on the surface, factor in my weight, the weight of the board, the relative angles on the bowl and centrifugal potential depending on the turn, then factor in how much..." and she went on, and Tom was now sorry he asked! Ami felt ready for the half-pipe, and she headed that way. Yet, Tom let her go; figuring that she could put it together faster than it would take to teach her! However, he saw Usagi having a time of it, so he took Usagi to the street skate area, and said, "This might suit you better."
It was a wide area with many rails, small jumps and ramps, and other things on which to skate. "Now, watch them for a bit and see what they do. Some of what they do is easy, others no so easy. Try simple things at first, and then build up when you feel confident enough."
Usagi lined up her board, but that was when another boy came up and slapped her on the back, saying, "Go get it!"
That knocked her off balance, and she took off down the course, screaming all the way. She hit the first ramp out of control, caught some air, landed on arailing, slid along that, dropped off, kept rolling, jumped to the side to avoid another person, thus bouncing her board off a side wall, up onto aplatform, down a ramp, up a quarter pipe, kicked a 360, and came back doing the same thing again. When she landed next to Tom, she stood there with wide eyes, heart racing and panting. "Wow!" shouted Tom, "That was awesome! I didn't know you had that in you!"
"Me neither!" she yelped, and Tom then said, "That goes to show you what you can do when you put your mind to it!"
He hit her shoulder, but she was still on her board, and off she went again, backwards this time, screaming all the way. It was only because of sheer survival instinct that she was able to do what she was doing!
After that, they hit an amusement park, and then went back to Rei's house for dinner, cleaned up, and then just sat around talking. Soon, it was time to go, and Tom started to head off, but Makoto said, "Um, do you mind if I come with you."
There was silence and everyone stared. They both felt a little under the lamp, but Tom, to break it up, said, "Sure, let's go! See you all on Monday!"
As everyone waved good-bye, they went out. As they walked, they said nothing for about five minutes. By then, it was dark, and the people and lights of aSaturday night in the Juban sector were moving all around them. This made things feel a bit more comfortable for Makoto, and she felt more comfortable in asking her question-the real reason why she wanted to go with him. "Tom-kun,"she said, "I...uh...do you think I'm a tomboy?"
"To be honest with you, I never gave it much thought," he responded.
"I guess what I am asking is, do you see me as a girl, or one of your buddies?"
That threw Tom off, especially since he did not know what she had in mind by the question. He did not know if that was something of which she just wanted his opinion, or if there were some kind of romantic overtones to the thing. To save face, he just said, "How could I not see you're a girl; I mean, you wear skirts, you have long hair, a high pitched voice..."
She laughed at his candor, seeing that he was trying to be polite about it, and she said, "That's not exactly what I mean. I've asked this of others before, but I never asked a male's point of view. Do you see me as masculine or feminine?"
Tom now knew what she was saying, and he said, "Well, I know about how the Japanese see these things, but where I'm from, femininity is not so cut and dried. What I mean is this: there is the difference, but just because a girl is feminine and ladylike does not mean that she does not have strength, charisma, and the ability to stand out. Where I am from, if a woman can succeed, be a leader, and stand out as much as a man, while not losing her feminine charm, well, many men find that attractive. Men like girls with apersonality. They like a girl that can stimulate the mind as well as the heart."
Makoto looked at him, and said, "That's not how some think around here," and looked down.
"What's the problem with some people?" asked Tom, "Don't they like a strong woman? I would want a human being, not a mistress and maid."
Now Makoto's heart was going a million miles an hour. No one-man or woman-had ever talked to her like this. Tom then went on to say, "I guess what I am saying is that, well, what's wrong with just being yourself? Why should you try to fit someone else's mold? Hey, I've got an idea! I want to get you something by Monday; I just hope that the book is over here in Japanese!"
Makoto was bewildered. She was wondering now if she was beginning to feel something for this boy or that she was having old flashbacks from being siblings in arms together. At that point, he stopped in front of a bookstore that was still open. "Wait, it could be here!" said Tom as he went in, and Makoto followed.
He was looking over the different subject matter about, and then he was able to find the self-help books around, and he was able to find what he was looking for. "I found it!" he shouted, and pulled it down. He quickly passed Makoto, went to pay for it, and went outside. He then gave it to her as she looked at the title: it would translate as Divas Don't Fake It. Tom then said,"Give that a read, and I guarantee you would never have to ask that question again."
Her eyes began to sparkle a bit, and she said, "It's been a long time since aboy gave me..." and then she stopped, embarrassed at her openness, and then she said, "Well, I mean...I guess I'm saying..."
Tom stopped her and said, "It's cool. You consider me a friend, and that's fine. I'm cool with that myself. Besides, I would really like to be a good friend right now, and let the chips fall where they may. If it is all that ever happens, then that is fine as well."
She just laughed, and they contented themselves with a handshake, and they laughed again, walking down the street, arms on each other's shoulders, like two old pals-comrades in arms.
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