It was a clear, warm Saturday morning. Most high school students like to use weekends to catch up on sleep. I'm one of those people, but today there was no time for sleeping in. I wasn't even at home! I was standing among many others in line to purchase the newest volume of my most favorite manga, Equestrian Heroes
. I saw the bookstore owner, a middle-aged woman with hair as black as night, walking to the door, I began to slightly bounce up and down in excitement. Once inside the store I made an immediate dash for the manga section. By the time I was standing in front of the shelf, there was only one copy left. But before I could grab it, a hand with bright red nails whisked it away. I heard a cackle,
"Aren't you a little old
to be reading this?" Himeko Shirogane.
"I mean, come one, you're in high school! You really shouldn't be into a magical girl anime about 6 high school students who turn into human/horse people!"
"Then how come you
want it Himeko?"
"My dear little Sapphire needs something to sharpen her claws on!" Another cackle came from her pink glossed lips.
"Ever heard of a scratching post?"
"Of course you idiot! But her old one was worn and disgusting, so my parents are getting her a new one. But until then, she'll use this trashy excuse for a book on her claws!" She turned and sashayed over to the check-out, her curly auburn hair swishing as she walked. There wasn't any other good reason to stay at the bookstore, so I headed for the exit. But before I could reach the door, and hand clasped down on my shoulder. A voice said,
"Where you going Yuki?" It was a very familiar
voice. I whirled around to see my older brother Arinori, with light brown hair, just like my mother's; light aqua blue eyes, like mine; and pale skin, standing over me.
"A-Ari..Nii-San..." I was speechless.
"Probably wondering why I'm here," he chuckled. I nodded slowly. "Well, I knew a new volume of Equestrian Heroes was coming out today. And since I know how much your absolutely love it, I bought you a copy! You know, in case you weren't able to get one yourself. Just think of it as a 7 month early birthday present." He handed me a book that was identical to the one Himeko had taken. My hands were trembling with excitement, and I threw my arms around Arinori and hugged him tightly.
"Thank you so so much Ari-Nii!" He laughed softly,
"Anything for my little sister." I released him from my tightly grasp.
"What are you doing in Japan anyway? I thought you were in Italy!" He smiled and replied,
"I just thought you, Aunt Ritsu, and Akito and Meiru deserved a special visit while I'm on spring vacation."
"Lucky.. I still have two more weeks til I'm out for spring break." He ruffled my hairs as to say "Don't worry, it'll be here before you know it
!" While we walked back home, Arinori told me all about how things were going back in Italy.
"Do you think that Meiru, Akito, and I could come visit over the summer?" I asked, "Italy sounds amazing."
"I bet we could talk Aunt Ritsu into it," he said, chuckling.
When we arrived home, Arinori called,
~!" I heard squealing giggles, and Meiru and Akito came bolting down the stairs.
"Arinori! Arinori!" They yelled, giving him giant bear hugs. He chuckled, and I laughed softly at the sight of him being tackled by two elementary 2nd years.
"Oh, Ari-San!" Aunt Ritsu said, coming out of the kitchen, "So great to see you again!" Once he got the extremely hyper Akito and Meiru off him, he gave her a hug. Since I already had my turn to hug and talk with him, I headed up to my room to read my manga. Once in my room, I took off my shoes, and plopped on my bed and gazed at the book. The cover showed a beautifully colored picture of each main character, but there was one major difference between this cover and every other cover in the series. The characters were gender-bent
! Each girl character was now a boy, and the only main boy character was now a girl. I read the title 'Equestrian Heroes: Tails of Another Dimension*
' Now it made a bit more sense. It was taking place in an alternate universe where each character was the opposite gender. I flipped to the first page to see a description of each character in the volume, along with their names.
----Ayane Arihyoshi-The intelligent leader of the group. His countless hours of studying magic has him prepared for any obstacle thrown at him. With his spiky-haired sidekick with him, he's an unstoppable prince.
Kasuga Arato- Ayane's "sidekick with spunk". Although Ayane appears to be annoyed by her "attitude," he really does care about her like he's her big brother. Kasuga, when wearing her power necklace, has the ability to transform into any creature, real or mythical, she desires. Her favorite form is dragon, so watch out for her "flames of fury!"
Kiyamu Higashiyama- The quiet, kindhearted, and shyest of the group. He claims to have many friends, but most of them are animals he's cared for. Ever since being paired up with Yanemi for a school project, Yanemi has attempted many times to make Kiyamu tougher.
Yanemi Daishi- The athletic, determined hot-head of the group. His ability to run fast and play just about any sport has earned him the admiration of many girls. But don't let that tough guy act deceive you, he has a soft spot for Kiyamu.
Gurima Ichimonji- The sophisticated drama queen of the group. He's been designed and creating his own clothes ever since he was 10. His good looks and charming attitude has made him the most popular boy in school. But watch out, because Mr. Popular can be a complete diva.
Hoshiyo Jippensha- The strong, independent farm-boy of the group. He's well known for his strength and honesty. Although he can be really nice guy, he loves to tease Gurima, who often calls him "Cowboy" instead of his real name.
- The pink haired party animal of the group. Nothing makes him happier than to see all of his friends smiling. Although he's sometimes not the "sharpest pitchfork in the barn," as Hoshiyo says, he can be a real sweetheart. But make sure to stand clear when he's excited. He tends to bounce around a lot.
'Well, at least the personalities haven't changed
,' I thought, chuckling. I turned to the next page, where the story began.
Awadachi was happily bouncing down the empty halls, he noticed two students he had never seen before. One was a tall male with light skin, short, dark blue/purple hair, violet eyes, and a dark violet uniform. The shorter female walking with him had short, spiky green hair, pale skin, dark green eyes, and a middle school male uniform of different hues of purple. Awadachi rushed over to them, and excitedly greeted himself.
"Hello! I haven't seen you around here before, I'm Awadachi! Are you new students at Canterlot Academy?" The male seemed to be a bit startled by the sudden and quick greeting. The female replied,
"Yes, we are. I'm Kasuga and this is Ayane."
"I think I'll call you Kasu-Chan and Aya-San! It's easier to remember!" Awadachi smiled gleefully.
"Well, it was nice meeting you, but Kasuga and I must head to our class," Ayane said.
"Which class are you in?" Kasuga and Ayane exchanged glances before Kasuga replied,
"We're in class 1-B. Do you know where it is? We are a bit lost." She smiled sheepishly.
"Sure, I can help you! After all, it's my class
too~!" Ayane had a look of slight horror when he heard that. He shot Kasuga a look that said Why did you tell him that?
My reading was interpreted by Aunt Ritsu calling for me.
"Yuki! Someone is here to see you!"
'Weird, I never gave anyone my address
..' I thought as I marked my spot in the book and left my room.
"Who is it?" I asked when I was downstairs in the front room. Aunt Ritsu stepped to the side to reveal that Kaoru had been behind her.
"Hey," he said sheepishly while blushing a light pink.
"I'll leave you two alone to talk," Aunt Ritsu said heading to the kitchen. She turned around before she went in,
"But it better not result in you two being parents." My face burned, and I could tell without looking that Kaoru was blushing as well. Aunt Ritsu chuckled softly and went into the kitchen. I turned my attention to Kaoru and said,
"So, what are you doing here?.."
"I wanted to hang out with you. A-As friends." He scratched the back of his head and stared at the floor. "I know it was a bit rude to drop in unexpectedly, but I didn't know your cellphone number.."
"But how did you get my address?" He no longer seemed flustered and gave a sly smile resembling Hikaru's.
"I have my ways." That was a sudden personality change...
"Well, you're lucky I didn't have any plans. Let me go change into more.. Presentable
clothes, then we can head out." I hurried up the stairs to my room and opened my closet and looked around. it consisted mostly of T-shirts of Equestrian Heroes characters, sweaters, cosplays, dresses that I wore to fancy events, and ones I wore in the summer. I eventually spotted a sweater striped with dark and light pink, faded jeans with holes on the knees, and black boots. I pulled them out of the closet and hurriedly changed into them, and I ran downstairs, almost falling on the last few steps.
"Ready?" Kaoru asked.
"Yeah." As he opened the door, I called to Aunt Ritsu,
"Kaoru and I are gonna hang out downtown, we'll be back in a few hours!"
"Alright, have fun! But not too much fun, three kids is enough for me to handle right now!" My face burned and Kaoru chuckled.
"Does she think you and I are dating or something?"
"No, she just does this if any of us have friends of the opposite gender."
We walked outside and down the porch steps, and started heading down the sidewalk.
"So where do you wanna go?" he asked.
"I dunno, I was just thinking we could walk around downtown for a little bit."
"That sounds nice." He smiled and we continued down the sidewalk and talked the whole way. I' haven't talked with a guy that wasn't related to me, and was comfortable while doing so in a really long time. At all my other schools I never really talked with anyone. I sat in the back of the classroom and kept to myself, so I pretty much went unnoticed by most of my classmates. I did have a few friends, but they were girls. I did have two really close
friends that were boys. I was way more open with them than my friends that were girls, but it's been such a long time since I've seen them. And the few other guys that did acknowledge my existence only flirted with me. I liked being able to talk with a guy and not have it be awkward.
'He's a lot different when he's on his own... He acts a lot more like Hikaru when they're together,
I thought. We soon began to see buildings lined up that seemed to go on forever and crowds of people walking up and down the sidewalks.
"Was there any specific place you wanted to go?" Kaoru asked, looking at me.
"Um, well I heard this new restaurant that serves only ice cream and smoothies, and I kinda wanted to go there... But I don't exactly have any money.." He gave me a kind smile.
"Oh, you don't have to worry about that. I can take care of it."
"Oh, y-you don't have to do that, really. I-I don't want you to spend your money on me."
"Too bad, we're going." He chuckled and nudged my arm playfully. We eventually found the restaurant and went inside to see it pretty crowded. It didn't really bug me too much. The only thing that bugged me was that Hikaru and Haruhi were there, together.
While Haruhi was talking about something that I wasn't paying much attention to, I began fiddling with my straw wrapper. I glanced up and saw that Kaoru and Yuki had just walked in.
'What are they doing here? I know Kaoru had said he was gonna be with a friend, but why didn't he tell me that it was Yuki?!
' It suddenly came to my attention that he didn't tell me because he knew
I would get mad, but I still didn't understand myself why it did. I had been certain I loved Haruhi, but after meeting Yuki I wasn't sure what love was anymore. I knew it wasn't teasing someone and hurting their feelings, but I've never felt these kinds of emotions before. I didn't know what to do about them. I was so lost in my own thoughts I hadn't realized Haruhi had stopped talking about whatever it was she was talking about, and was now trying to bring my mind back down to earth.
"Huh?" I had snapped out of my thoughts.
"I said your name like ten times, what's the matter with you? As soon as Yuki and Kaoru walked in you went into a daze." So she had seen them too
"You've been acting really weird lately. Is something bothering you?" She wanted to talk about my feelings, and that's the last thing I wanted to do.
"It's nothing, I'm fine," I lied.
"It's not fine, I can tell. Something is bugging you. Just tell me what it is. Ever since Yuki started attending Ouran Academy you've been acting strange. First you hurt her feelings by flirting with me after you did the same with her. Then you tease her until you pushed her over the edge."
"How did you know I was-"
"Hikaru, I'm not dumb. You're style of flirting has been made obvious." I glanced over at the table Yuki and Kaoru were sitting at and I saw them chatting up a storm, and laughing. They were having a great time, and for some reason, I didn't like what I was seeing. Haruhi ntoiced my sudden anger and her voice went from stern to caring,
"Hey, are you alright? You seem a little tense. Should we go?" My anger began to take over my actions, and I picked up my smoothie and walked over to Kaoru and Yuki's table.
"Hikaru, what are you doing?! Stop!" Haruhi yelled. I stood next to where Kaoru was sitting with my hands trembling with anger. I took the lid off the cup and poured the contents onto the head of the one person I never thought I would ever hurt. Yuki shot out of her seat and began shouting at me.
"What the hell
is your problem?!" Everyone in the restaurant was staring at us now.
"First you act like a complete jackass to me, now you're mad at your brother for no reason?!" Kaoru was looking up at me with his eyes full of hurt.
"C'mon, I'll help you get it off you." Yuki took hold of Kaoru's hand and led him to the restroom, pushing her way past me. A few people had still been paying attention to the commotion, and stared at me for a few seconds before returning to what they had been doing previously. I trudged back to the table where Haurhi was, and slumped into the seat I had been sitting in, and I laid my head on the table.
"You know, just because you're jealous doesn't mean you should act like a jerk." I looked at her, and she continued,
"And besides. You're going to have to choose eventually."
"You can't been in love with two people at the same time. You will have to choose one or the other."
'But Yuki hates me... And it's obvious you're not interested in dating me. Hell, I wouldn't even date myself
,' I thought miserably.
"I know this whole "love" thing is hard for you to cope with, but maybe you should just talk to someone about how you're feeling."
"But Kaoru must be furious with me right now. After all, I did dump a smoothie on him when he did nothing wrong."
"Well, maybe he wouldn't have gone on a date with Yuki if you had told him how you felt."
'She did have a very good point...
After being pulled into the restroom, Yuki began wetting paper towels to help clean the smoothie off me.
"Y-Yuki.. This is the girls' room!"
"So? Nobody's in here. Now come here, we need get that off before it dries." I took a few of the wet paper towels and began to clean off my hair, while she started wiping my shirt off with both wet and dry paper towels. After a few minutes, we got almost all of the smoothie off. What was still left wasn't too noticeable.
"Thanks for helping me Yuki," I said smiling.
"No problem, what are friends for?"
We left the restroom and saw that Hikaru and Haruhi were no longer there.
"So where do you wanna go next?" Yuki asked
"Do you wanna go see what movies are playing at the theater?" She smiled and replied,
"Sure sounds fun." I slightly smiled back and we walked to the theater. We looked at all posters for the movies being shown, and while I was busy looking at one for a scary movie, I heard Yuki squeal with delight,
"This one looks like it's really good!" I walked over to where she was, and with one glance at the poster I could tell it was a chick flick. I glanced to where I had been standing, and sighed.
"Alright, I guess we can watch it." She squealed again, grabbed my wrist, and pulled me inside. I was lucky I wasn't the only guy there, but i could easily tell the others that were there were talked into it. A lot of times throughout the movie many of the girls cried, and it surprised me a little that Yuki didn't do it as much as the others. When the movie was over, I realized how late it was. Yuki looked really tired.
"Do you wanna take a taxi? I don't think it's a good idea to walk all the way back home," I said. She nodded tiredly. In the taxi, Yuki looked like she was ready to pass out. When we were on her front porch, she had her hand on the doorknob, but she quickly turned to me and gave me a hug.
"I had a lot of fun. Thanks." I hugged her back and said,
"We should do this again," She released me, but I didn't let go of her.
"K-Kaoru?" I looked into her eyes and without thinking, I brought my face closer to hers. My lips lightly pressed up against hers, and her face flushed bright red. After pulling away from her, I knew I shouldn't have kissed her. She awkwardly stuttered,
"G-goodnight.." She opened the door and stepped inside.
"B-bye Kaoru." Then she closed the door behind her.