Chapter 4- Preparations
The Academy Dance was coming soon, and Makoto, Noel, and Tsubaki were almost done with their preparations; however, there was one problem.
"We don't have our dresses! Makoto! What did you do!" Tsubaki blared from in the bathroom, her figure draped in a towel and her hair covered in bubbles.
"Uh, hehe... I might have left them at the Tailor's building yesterday..." Makoto smiled weakly and sweat dropped, her orange bikini-like underwear, adorned with nuts, was visible through her silk robe.
"Ooooohhhhh... Makoto, you know that this dance is important to us. Isn't it important to you, too?" Noel whined as she lay on her bed with a fresh white towel over her head, and a pair of pink pajamas with pandas adorned over them.
"Well, it is, but I got distracted..." Makoto rubbed her hands together in between her legs as if she was hiding something.
"So what happened?" Tsubaki growled as she ran the water in the bathroom's shower.
"Uh, I... I ran into Zell... heh heh..." Makoto innocently stared at the ground and rubbed the back of her head. Her face was turning red as she recalled what happened the day prior. "He almost broke ME yesterday..." Makoto sighed and tried to calm herself down.
"You saw Zell? What happened Makoto?" Noel snapped herself up on the bed, and her eyes suddenly glued to Makoto.
"...Well, I was going to pick up our dresses and I saw him at the suit shop with Kazuki." Makoto stated and sat on the edge of Noel's bed. At the mention of Kazuki, there was a loud thud in the bathroom and Tsubaki leaned her head out of the bathroom, her hair was dripping on the carpet that led into the bathroom.
"You saw Kazuki too! What were they talking about?" Tsubaki was uncharacteristically nosy about the dwellings of these two particular boys and gossip that she'd normally avoid with a passion, but Kazuki made her so intent on trying to figure out how his mind always was so calm, so she decided to keep up with his activities.
"Yeah, they were trying on some suits... and..." Makoto giggled to herself and blushed more.
"Makoto! Control yourself!" Tsubaki blared at the blushing Beastkin, noticing she was zoning out.
"S-sorry, Tsubaki... I have to keep that in check... but anyway, they were both trying on suits and Kazuki and Zell both were shirtless... hmm..." Makoto stated and closed her eyes and smiled, then she fell onto Noel's bed and giggled.
"Makoto! Spit it out! What happened that got you so distracted that you forgot our dresses?" Tsubaki growled as her wet hair dripped even more onto the carpet.
"They both were shirtless... and they were being measured in the windows, I could see both of them, but more of Zell, because he was closer..." Makoto sighed dreamily and smiled goofily.
Tsubaki said nothing; she simply blushed and returned to washing her hair. Noel smiled as well and sighed. The dress shop was right next to the suit shop and Makoto was so dazed that she went right past the dress shop.
Zell and Kazuki were in their dorm room as well, showering and relaxing from the long day of kitchen duty and sparring sessions. Kazuki was on his bed in a pair of monk styled pants and shoes, with his upper body exposed. Zell, who was shirtless as well, had a towel in his right hand, over his shoulder and his long shorts hung a bit from around his waist, revealing the elastic of his underwear. He was preparing for a shower when Kazuki decided to speak.
"Zell, what did you do to Makoto? I think she left something at the shop next door to the suit place." Kazuki asked as he stood to stretch his muscles out from the two boys' recent sparring session.
Zell stopped at the door and turned his head to his friend, "What do you mean Kaz? I didn't do anything to her." Zell shrugged as he tried to recall what Kazuki may have meant.
"The owner of the dress shop asked us to give Makoto, Noel, and Tsubaki their dresses. Apparently, they had some work done to their dresses and they were supposed to pick them up. Makoto walked right past the store." Kazuki fixed his glasses as he finished his statement.
"I don't mean to sound arrogant, but maybe she was busy thinking about my manly chest." Zell raised an eyebrow at his own remark then scoffed at the remark in the same instant.
"Heh, yeah, that would happen though." Kazuki noted with a smirk and lay back on his bed once more.
Zell said nothing, and then he went into the bathroom and ran the water of the shower. He sighed and removed his remaining clothes, and entered the shower, and then he closed his eyes slowly and sighed as the hot water of the shower beat upon his fairly sculpted figure.
"I think I'll go drop off Tsubaki's dress... I'll let Zell take care of Noel's and Makoto's dresses." Kazuki sighed and took a cream colored dress from a hanger and looked at the dress through its transparent bagging and he tried to imagine Tsubaki in the dress, and smiled to himself. He quickly threw on a T-shirt that had Haku-men of the Six Heroes on it and he took the dress to make his errand.
Kazuki started down the nearly empty hall toward Tsubaki's room, receiving several questioning glances from the remaining students, but he simply smiled, "It's for Tsubaki, she left it at the Tailor's yesterday..."
Tsubaki had just finished washing her flowing pink hair when there was a knock on the door. The only thing Tsubaki had on was her towel and Noel and Makoto had just left to get more towels, and she was expecting them back soon, so she just opened the door to her room and, when she saw it was Kazuki, she froze in her tracks.
"K-Kazuki... uh, what are you doing here?" Tsubaki blushed and stepped back a few steps and clutched her towel so that it wouldn't fall off of her figure.
"I, ahem, I was coming to deliver your dress for the dance..." Kazuki stated, his eyes were not visible, blushing so hard that the steam was clouding his glasses.
"Th-thanks Kazuki, I... I appreciate this... uh, e-excuse me..." Tsubaki stammered as she took the dress and quickly slammed the door in Kazuki's face.
"Well... That's a first... I'd never thought Tsubaki would get so... clumsy... She's usually so on top of things..." Kazuki sighed and recovered himself from what he'd just seen, or almost didn't see, and then as he turned the corner to go to his dorm, Zell approached.
"Hey, Kaz, you know where Makoto and Noel are?" Zell asked, dressed in a shirt that had Jubei of the Six Heroes holding his blade at the ready, and some of his signature long shorts on. He had Makoto's and Noel's dresses as well.
"I don't think they are in their room..." Kazuki stated, blushing a little as he explained.
"Crud, I'll go look for them tomorrow then. We'll have all day to do so." Zell shrugged and hoisted the two dresses over his shoulder and started back to his room with Kazuki.
"Yep. Or maybe they'll come looking for them as soon as they see Tsubaki has hers when they return." Kazuki stated his voice a bit shaky from the recent incident.
"Hmm, you have a point there..." Zell replied in soft thought as he noticed the shakiness in Kazu's voice. Zell knew there was only one thing that could do that.
"You saw Tsubaki naked?" Zell raised an eyebrow at his friend who blushed a bit more.
"N-not... exactly..." Kazuki pushed his glasses up and cleared his throat.
"Then you saw her in her underwear?" Zell smirked darkly at his friend with this accusation.
"N-no... She was in a towel..." Kazuki stated, trying to maintain his calmness, but Zell saw right though it.
"You can't hide it from me bro. I've known you longer than anyone else. But I respect the fact that you don't wish to embarrass her." Zell folded his arms and nodded to himself.
"I have respect for her, you know that. And I thank you for that." Kazuki nodded and started to calm down.
"It's not any trouble dude, but you might wanna worry about the gossip girls though." Zell stated and pointed to a small group of snickering girls in the corner of the hall.
Kazuki followed Zell's pointer finger to the girls and sighed heavily. "This will be resolved at the dance. I assure you."
Zell and Kazuki headed toward their room, casually talking about the dance and what they were thinking of doing tomorrow. Tomorrow was the day before the dance; the day most people were doing their last minute preparations. Zell and Kazuki only had to pick up their suits, then they would be all set for the dance. There was going to be high traffic in the morning rush, more so than it usually was, which meant that Zell was going to need all of the rest he could that night.
"Looks like tomorrow's gonna be hell on wheels." Zell sighed and changed into pajamas, which consisted of some sweatpants and a loose T-shirt.
"At least you'll be prepared for it." Kazuki stated and got into his bed.
As soon as both boys had their lights out and were in their beds, there was a knock at the door. Zell sighed and got up to answer the knock, it was Makoto and behind her was Noel. Noel and Makoto were both in pajamas. The two girls giggled and eyed Zell as he opened the door, and they almost forgot they real reason they were there.
"Are you two here to get your dresses?" Zell raised an eyebrow as he eyed the two girls.
"Uhm, yeah... We are..." Noel replied shyly, and got another pleasant glance from Zell.
"Hm, I see. But that isn't the only reason, is it?" Zell smirked and exposed his canine teeth again and the two girls giggle once more.
"No, that's the only reason this time..." Makoto winked and smiled at Zell, who returned the smile before he left.
"Noel, this dance is gonna rule! I can't wait til Saturday." Makoto cheered quietly and hopped for a brief moment.
"Hee Hee, neither can I Makoto. I wonder what Zell will have to wear to the dance, and what will he do?" Noel put her index finger to her chin and looked ceiling-ward to think about the dance.
"Here you two, and don't worry about what the dance will have in store. You'd be better off trying to sleep. Tomorrow the morning rush'll practically kill us... So get some rest." Zell stated as he gave a blue dress to Noel, and an orange dress to Makoto.
"Thank you Zell!" The two girls said in a sing song type manner, then they giggled and dashed back to their room.
"Oh, boy... This'll have chaos written all over it..." Zell sighed and shook his head as he closed the door to his room.
The following morning was even more hectic than what Zell had predicted, the morning rush was practically a riot, and it wasn't going to end so quietly. There was practically every student from the academy waiting in line for breakfast, luckily for Zell and Kazuki, the girls were very on top of things as well.
"Hey, Makoto! We need three trays of meats, and make sure they are all well done. Tsubaki, get Noel and hand out the plates. Hurry!" Zell practically barked and dashed from the kitchen to the counter where the line was multiple times.
"Gotcha VP!" Makoto called and gave a quick salute to the wolf and ran to what she was told. Kazuki was at the counter, he was on the verge of being mauled by the hungry students, but he didn't waver at all.
"Ok, just wait a second. We'll have those in a moment. Who's next? We will have to make another batch of the eggs and biscuits, that'll take a few minutes though…" Kazuki stated simply and moved between the start of the counter and to the seating line a few times. Taking orders and keeping peace was hard when the food went like the wind.
Zell dashed into the kitchen after confirming a few more orders and triggered his special shoes which ignites a large flame and cooked majority of the food in seconds. "Makoto, you've the best balance, go take this food out to them. Ignore any remarks you hear." Zell directed and gave the squirrel the large trays and she jumped over the counter and into the frenzy of hungry students.
This process repeated for five hours, until 11:00. Zell, Kazuki, Makoto, Noel, and Tsubaki were completely done from this one event, most Academy students wouldn't even last three hours in the morning rush before a major event. This proved that these five were something special. The group was in the back of the kitchen resting their legs at this point.
"Whew, that was insane! I didn't even know there were that many students here…" Noel sighed and wiped her head with the sleeve of her shirt.
"Neither did I." Zell stated in agreement, and let out a huge yawn shortly afterward.
"I expected only half of that many, I knew there were a lot of students, but I didn't think that they would all show up today." Tsubaki fanned herself with her hand a she spoke, the heat from the kitchen and running so much was affecting her.
"That was why the Council let us have that extra resting day yesterday…" Kazuki deduced and removed his glasses, closed his eyes, and wiped the steam from them and placed them on his face once more.
"Well, that makes sense. I was wondering why there were two in a row." Makoto chimed and stroked her tail, trying to stop it from frizzing and puffing out even more than what it was.
"Well, there's nothing left to do, except the dishes…" Zell stated and sighed. He rolled up his sleeves and began to run the water in the bathtub sized sink and started the last chore for the morning.
Makoto and Noel both rose from their seats slowly, reluctance apparent in their faces as they went to Zell's side and Noel began to hand him the dishes and Makoto rinsed and dried the ones already washed.
Tsubaki and Kazuki looked at one another and smiled and nodded. They both crept out the kitchen to give the three some alone time.
Makoto looked to the wolf and noticed his eyes were half closed while he washed the dishes, "Hey, Zell… Are you alright? I hope this wasn't that tough on you…" Makoto asked and dried the last dish that was handed to her. She was the only person who knew the effects of the armagus when it was overused in such a secluded area.
"…I-I'm… fine, Makoto." Zell replied with a heavy sigh and dried his hands as the dish water went down the drain noisily.
"Uh, Zell? Let's get you back to your room…" Noel suggested and noticed the wolf boy's eyes were dilating.
"Y-yeah… let's go…" Zell stated and took a step, then dropped to one knee, clasping his head with one hand and trying to support himself with the other.
Makoto and Noel both ran to his side and propped him up on their shoulders. Makoto, being the Beastkin she was, was able to lighten Noel's load a bit. Noel was small, but she was able to handle the weight as well, and so they started toward Zell's and Kazuki's room.
Kazuki and Tsubaki were at the gates and looking at the blue sky, the cool air seemed to relax them both. Kazuki was sitting on a bench that faced the gates, and Tsubaki joined him after looking at her own reflection in the fountain and smiling a bit to herself.
"Well, Kazuki, do you mind if I ask you a question?" Tsubaki asked and turned her head to face the boy.
"Sure, Tsubaki, I'll answer if I can." Kazuki replied with a kind smile.
"Where did you meet Zell, and how long have you two known each other?" Tsubaki asked; she figured this would be the best way to figure out something useful.
"Well…" Kazuki began to speak, and he leaned back and folded his arms behind his head, and crossed one leg over the other as he began to recall his past with his best friend.
"We were orphans. Never got adopted and the orphanage was shut down when we were turning ten years old. The lady that took care of us was really nice, and told us to keep each other safe. We did just that. We always were pals, but we were always on the move. It was either because of people's poor judgment, or the lack of funds. I think Zell's trust in people dwindled after being called a 'filthy beastkin' so many times, and being attacked by mobs, which helped our combat technique. I won't go into further details except for the fact that our struggles helped make our bond as brothers much stronger." Kazuki stated with his eyes closed.
Tsubaki was wide eyed and smiling from ear to ear. "Wow, really? That's so touching…Two brothers against the world…" She sighed and slowly laid her head on his shoulder again. The two sat with each other and enjoyed the day's blue sky for a few hours as they eagerly awaited the coming dance.