Natsuki takes a moment to reflect on an old memory while watching a sunset. One-shot, complete.
The dark-haired girl removed her helmet and took a deep breath as she shook it into a more reasonable style. The sunrise was, as always, beautiful from this spot. She had taken to coming here more often after the Carnival. Something about this place, that had once made her feel weak and incomplete, gave her strength and direction. She was certain it was because of what had happened with Shizuru. Of the feelings she'd combed through standing on this very spot, trying to find out what she felt for Shizuru.
It wasn't love. What Shizuru had done couldn't be love, either. And if it was, she didn't want any part of it. That's what she'd decided then. That she couldn't understand why those lengths were taken in the name of love, and that she'd rather not have it, if that were the case. But she did care. Goodness knows, she still cared about her.
That day in the garden, she had been so focused on the flower before her. Innocent, pink, and soft it beckoned to her irritated-with-life senses. The flower didn't deserve to be left in its cozy and tranquil environment. Why? When she herself, when her mother, had been so happy living at their house on the island? Didn't they deserve to keep that life, either?
And so, with a hand full of twisted fingers, she set forward to destroy that little flower's existance. She had wanted to crush the very happiness from that plant, and prove to it that life was not so kind as it might have believed. Or perhaps it never had even considered, as she herself had never considered then. That made her angrier and she felt her fingers reflexively begin to close in-
"You shouldn't do that."
To say she was startled would be an understatment. Something about this garden made it that if one weren't to pay enough attention, you would believe yourself the only person left in the world. The ethereal quality of the cherry blossoms settling upon the fair-haired high school girl before her when she turned around was not lost to her, either. "Beautiful flowers are to be loved. Since it's doing its best to bloom in its short life."
Natsuki paused a moment, then turned to face the flower. She didn't know why, but she felt suddenly compelled to draw in the scent of it deeply. It was true. This being had a pitiful lifespan in comparison to her own. And was living it with more vitality than she had been in the last 10 years put together. At least here, among others of its kind, the flower perservered and grew healthily. Her resolve faded. This flower did not and would not share her own ill fate.
She stood then, and walked over to the pathway the girl stood on. She didn't know what to say. She fiddled with the lower edge of her skirt, staring at the ground, with what was likely considered a defiant look on her face.
"Do you always feel this upset?" The girl's kyoto-ben was more apparent from a closed distance.
"Not always," Natsuki grumbled out.
The dark-haired girl took a moment to reflect. Finally she looked up to meet the other girl's eyes. Such an odd shade of brown; so reddish that they were almost crimson if viewed at a particular angle. "Often enough."
"What is your name?"
Natsuki had the decency to appear offended. It was rather rude and sudden, after all. "Why do you care?"
The blonde ignored her, in what Natsuki considered an infuriating manner. "You may call me Shizuru. Fujino Shizuru."
"What if I didn't want to know your name?"
"Ah, but you know it now, do you not? Surely you must have one too, that I might know what to say to get your attention next we meet. Or should I just call you 'Pretty Girl'?" Shizuru's soft smile stayed the same size, but her eyes grew brighter slightly.
Natsuki was dumbfounded by this. She felt herself wanting to blush. No one had called her by anything so affectionate before. She decided the best way out of this mess would be to simply tell the girl her real name. "Kuga. Kuga Natsuki."
"Well then, Natsuki-chan. Would you care to join me for tea?"
"Not -chan." She managed to look angered again.
"Forgive me then, Natsuki."
Natsuki shifted her weight to one foot awkwardly. She had just met this girl. To use her name without an honorific was almost as improper as using her first name to address her to begin with.
"About the tea?" Shizuru prompted.
"Fine," she growled. After a second's thought, she added, "But only if you're paying, Shizuru." Two could play this game.
"Ara...who said anything about paying? I'm quite well trained in the art of tea ceremony."
Natsuki did her best to keep the groan inward, but didn't think that she succeeded very well. Tea ceremonies normally weren't her thing.
But this girl was definitely intriguing. Her speech was seemed almost lyrical, despite the odd accent. And to seem so improper, yet proper all at once, with so very little effort was certainly something that lended more time to understand.
Besides, her stomach had been growling since she'd skipped eating in the cafeteria again. Maybe she could convince Shizuru to serve mayonnaise sandwiches with the tea. It was worth a shot, anyway.
"Follow me," she said after small bout of hesitation.
Shizuru tilted her head, but followed her silently down the path. Underneath a cherry blossom tree not terribly far away, sat Natsuki's bike. She hopped on it with a careless ease she'd taken to doing with the leathers she'd bought recently. Unfortunately, she wasn't in her leathers.
The girl looked up from her place to find Shizuru doing her best to cover her mouth, obviously full of laughter. Her eyes traveled down a moment and the fit threatened to seize her even worse. Warily, Natsuki looked down herself to find the skirt of her school uniform having ridden up quite nicely, exposing her panties.
"O-oi." Natsuki jumped up and hastily fixed the issue at hand, blushing madly now with her eyes closed. She couldn't bear looking to the other girl. Quickly now, to cover it up, "So are you going to get on or not?"
Shizuru got her mirth under control long enough to raise an eyebrow and edge closer to the bike. "Aren't you a bit young to have a license for one of these?" she asked pointedly.
Natsuki, her eyes still closed, faced away from her now and gripped huffily at the handles. "So what if I am." It wasn't a question.
"Mmm," was Shizuru's only real response. Taking care to not to have the same problem Natsuki just shortly before, she guided herself onto the back portion of the bike. She adjusted, and proceeded to grab at Natsuki's waist, pulling her chin onto the other girl's shoulder.
For a moment, Natsuki was overwhelmed. Her classmates, while normally quite touchy-feely with each other, had always given her quite a great berth. She had not felt someone else's touch that she could remember, and Shizuru's full-on approach affected her. She found herself opening her eyes then, finding Shizuru's completely closed.
The wind blew in a strong burst, and caused some of Shizuru's tawny tresses to tickle against her cheek. The world smelled strongly of the sweetness of cherry blossoms. It was comforting, in a way.
The sunrise pulled out colors in the sky that somehow reminded her of that day. Reds and pinks, oranges and yellows, browns and whites. Each of them mottled together, moving quickly, eventually revealing the normal blue haze. Normal...was a word she had once thought impossible. Perhaps now, it didn't have to be.
The wind was only of average strength, that morning. But she almost swore she could smell the cherry blossoms in its wake.