Strawberry Panic Fan fiction: Wilted Lily CHAPTER ONE, TAMAO'S EXPLOSION

Note: I do NOT own Strawberry Panic or any of the characters/settings/stories within. This is a fan fic, pure and simple. Don't give me any of that copyright shit, or I'll ram a ten foot pole up your 'where the sun don't shine'. There. I'm done;0

Tamao leaned in closer to the window sill, watching the fall leaves balefully as her tea slowly went cold. She had lost over five pounds since the day she let Nagisa run off with Shizuma. Her Nagisa She really hated herself now, ' Stupid, complacent Tamao Chan, just let everybody walk all over you. Don't you have any backbone!?'

'No. Not really.' Tamao muttered in response to the furious voice in her head. Yes. She could have been more aggressive. She could have made her move on Nagisa before Nagisa found out about the Kaori incident.

'That was the turning point of their relationship.' Thought Tamao bitterly. 'I just sat by and watched while Shizuma took her away...'

She hooked her finger around the tea cup ring and started to spin it around nonchalantly. She had precious little appetite during the last five months. Good old oblivious Nagisa was too busy having fun with Shizuma to notice her pain. Apart from the short checks on her, ( which consisted of 'Hi Tamao Chan! How 'ya doing?' after which Tamao would say something leading into academics or bubbly subjects, prompting a mercifully short conversation, and ending with Nagisa skipping off into the arms of the silver haired bimbo.)

Tamao often day dreamed about what could have been if she were to ever confess her feelings for Nagisa. She would often picture them holding arms and regularly sharing long, amorous kisses under random trees, going together under her umbrella,( something Nagisa did with Shizuma's umbrella.) and say 'I do' in an elaborate wedding ceremony where Shizuma would sit in the very back row with a sour look on her face. There was yet another delicate detail that Tamao often missed in order to save her own psychology.

Nagisa and Shizuma were married. In fact, they married several days after they ran away from the Etoile ceremony. The celebration took place inside of the chapel with Tsubomi bawling loudly in the front row with Yaya embracing her. Tamao simply sat and said nothing. She put on a pretty smile and pretended to be happy for Nagisa.

Pretended to be happy. Tamao knew this was terrible, but she couldn't help it. No matter how good natured the person or how tolerant or bubbly, actually witnessing your secret crush being married to another was just too much. Eventually, Tamao ended up sobbing her poor little heart out in the washroom for two hours after the ceremony. The first years thought the hallway ghost had relocated to the ladies' room.

To make matters worse, Nagisa had no idea what was going on with Tamao. She thought that her depression was caused by the pressure of exams, a flimsy excuse Tamao made up to save Nagisa grief. It was like keeping a tapeworm in your stomach and not getting it removed for the rest of your life. Feeling the biting pain as it slowly ate away at your organs.

Except you could get a tapeworm removed. Tamao knew it was too late to confess her love for Nagisa. If she were to do just that, it would shatter their friendship forever. ( She mentally took Hikari and Yaya's situation as a case in point.) Tamao slumped ever so unattractively on her desk, burying her head in her arms. She had no more tears to cry now, only choked, dry sobs came out of her throat as she banged her head on the desk in a soft, hypnotic rhythm.

Somebody knocked at the door.

'Chiyo? Is that you?' Tamao said a little hoarsely as she gazed at the door. 'Oh, how could I forget? Chiyo transferred to another room. The new rules state that we need to change roommates/ maids in order to meet new people...' Tamao nibbled at her lip furiously as she lamented about all the bad things that have befallen her, ' Including my steadily dropping grades and my sudden loss of poetic inspiration.' Tamao thought grimly.

'Tamao? You okay? It's me, Chikaru.'

Oh. Chikaru. The only real person that understood her feelings and had the brains and courtesy to keep her mouth shut off to the open world about it. She had been her impromptu 'psychologist' for the last few months. Their sessions mostly consisted of Tamao crying into Chikaru's shoulders and occasionally spewing out a golden nugget about her plights, to which Chikaru would gently console her about it. Chikaru seemed to be the only person Tamao knew well and related to. As far as she knew, Chikaru only had a few trysts now and then with Shion, but Tamao knew that Shion was just playing with her.

Chikaru seemed like the type of person that would never get angry even if you blew all her limbs off. She would always be there for as a shoulder to cry on. It was kind of scary, actually. Tamao kept on secretly dreading the day that Chikaru would finally let it all go and go bat shit insane on them all. She had recently been dumped by Shion ( if you could call it dumping.) and her personality had remained quite the same- bubbly, cheerful, and kind.

It was a little creepy, to put it in an understatement. Well, at least Tamao had somebody to bitch about her problems to. Bitching.Tamao didn't really want to put it that way, but it was kind of turning to that point.

'Tamao? Are you in there? Answer me!'

'Come in, Chikaru.'

Chikaru unlatched the door and stepped in. She was wearing her usual Lulim uniform today, complete with the trademark Chikaru red ribbons and that wan, aloof smile she always carried.

'How're you holding up Tamao?'

'How do you think I'm holding up?' Thought Tamao rather uncharacteristically. ' I'm okay...I still miss Chiyo though...I miss having that little girl around.'

Chikaru sat down on the bed across from the table where Tamao was steadily slumping down to the floor.

'Don't slump like that, you look like you're melting. And it's bad for your back.'

'Go melt yourself, Chikaru, Lulim's uniform always looks so dumpy.'

Chikaru laughed, ' Touche, I've been trying to get the rest of the student council to change the design, but they just wouldn't listen. '

Tamao gave a small chuckle, 'Maybe Oshibaru will listen.'

Chikaru rolled her eyes exasperatingly, ' Kagome still won't give up that teddy bear. It freaks me out, I tell you.' She gave a not-so-mean-but-still-funny impression of Kagome talking to her teddy bear, which sent the two girls in hysterics, despite Tamao's current mood.

The laughter slowly died down into an awkward silence, which was the signal that 'playtime was over, and was in. Time to see the shrink.'

Tamao stared into Chikaru's reddish brown eyes. Strange. They always seemed more red than brown. It gave Chikaru a very sexy femme fatale look, although she was anything but. Chikaru always had this sort of innocent sexiness to her face, that kind of beauty that was...not foxy, but kind. Maybe it had something to do with Chikaru's doe-like eyes...

Chikaru finally decided to break the ice .

'How're you holding up...with...you know...Nagisa's erm...departure?'

'How do you think I'm holding up? I've lost all my appetite, I fantasize about killing Shizuma, I have nightmares about Nagisa being raped by that bimbo, I hate myself for not taking what was mine, how do you THINK I'M FUCKING HOLDING UP!?' That little mental outburst was quite uncharacteristic of Tamao, which had her quite worried for a moment. She managed to squeak out, ' I'm...I'm still not having a breakdown yet...right?' She giggled nervously to dispel the tension.

Chikaru's face softened, ' Don't blame yourself over this, it...well...even if you did go for it, Shizuma would have still-'

'Oh no. I slipped. It's too early to use that tactic. Oh no...oh no...

Tamao's face suddenly took on a strange glowing look as she stared into Chikaru's eyes, ' That bitch Shizuma...she...' Something in Tamao's mind finally snapped. As dreary, uneventful, and inappropriate the situation was, her poor brain chose this time to let it all flow out. One minute she was striking up small talk with Chikaru, and the next moment...well, you could say that her frustrations boiled to the blowing point, and Chikaru was just the right person to bitch at. Not a very flattering assessment, but it was the down and dirty truth. Chikaru could take anything, right? She would always be there for her, no matter how big the problem. Tamao's brain chugged along at the speed of a steam engine on crack, trying desperately to justify her sudden outburst, thinking of the right words to release her anger. Chaotic and jumbled images of Nagisa's agonizingly beautiful face flew through her mind, marred with the image of Shizuma fucking her brains out. 'What if you trigger something in Chikaru? What about nice Tamao? What about-

'SHUT UP!' Tamao screamed at her brain as the words flowed to the tip of her tongue.

Tamao hunted for the right words, ' She took what was mine! Nagisa should have been mine! I loved her the first day I laid eyes on her! But what did I do!? I stood by stupidly and pretended to be the bumbling friend! THE STOCK CHARACTER IN ALL CARTOONS ! You know!? The friend who doesn't get anyone in the end, but watches as her best friend finds eternal happiness!? Well, I'm NOT that friend! I WANTED TO FRENCH KISS NAGISA! I WANTED HER TO SHARE HER INTAMITE SECRETS WITH ME! BUT Noooo! Silly old Tamao doesn't do ANYTHING seriously! Silly old Tamao IS JUST A FUCKING BUMBLING SIDEKICK!'

Tamao paused for a moment to wipe away her hysteric tears. She hadn't noticed that Chikaru was frozen on the bed, quite shocked by her outburst, and that in her rage, Tamao knocked over her cup of tepid tea.

'I wanted her to notice me, you know? I wanted her to take a look at Tamao and say, ' oh, she has a crush on me!' But no, she IGNORES me on purpose and goes for that OLD BITCH SHIZUMA! '

The taps in Tamao's mind suddenly exploded and let out all the obscene things she dared not say to anybody. It was tragically comic, with Tamao pacing around the room like an ostrich, (blame her uniform for that.) and spewing comments such as, ' NAGISA SHOULD BE WORSHIPPING MY PUSSY! MINE! WE SHOULD HAVE MADE LOVE!' Chikaru merely sat stoically and watched Tamao spew out everything that was kept under wraps so well. By the end of a particularly murderous rant about disembowelling Shizuma and keeping her alive long enough to taste her own intestines, Tamao seemed to run out of gas. She sank to her knees and started to sob softly, muttering, ' I only wanted her love in return...I only wanted her love in return...I-

She found herself in Chikaru's arms, her whole body numb and tired from the exertion. It was almost like taking a shit, really. She had let everything out. She felt strangely happy for the first time in months after her cathartic outburst. She nuzzled into Chikaru's rounded breasts and felt their warmness against her cheeks. She was feeling a little bit dizzy now...her head was pounding quite heavily. She could hear small sniffles outside of the pounding chamber her head was in. She looked up at Chikaru , who was letting small tears roll down her cheek.

'Tamao...I...I've liked you since as long as I can remember.'

These words hit Tamao's already reeling head like a sledgehammer.

'Wh-what?'

'I can't help myself from confessing, I just don't w ant the same thing to happen to me. I've liked you since you were a first year, but I've never rounded up the guts to tell you...

Tamao was silent as she stared incredulously at Chikaru's red eyes, ' Forgive me, Tamao...but I'll say the truth...I found this as a chance to get close to you at last...even as a shoulder to lean on, I still would have been happy.'

Tamao's mouth opened and closed in slight movements that looked like a fish in its death throes.

' It was painful, Tamao, watching you from a distance and knowing that I would never really have the guts to come and even strike up a conversation. I can relate to your pain, Tamao...I really can...

Tamao brushed a loose strand of blue hair away from her face, 'Chikaru san...Komen no sai. My outburst...was horrible...I'm sorry...I shouldn't dump everything on you...

Tamao could feel the pounding in her head growing worse as her world started to pulse black and white. Chikaru's voice was growing more distant by the second as her eyesight progressed 0 to minus 1000 in a matter of seconds. 'Tamao! Tamao! Can you hear me!? Tamao! Don't pass out! Oh my God! Somebody! Help! Tamao's fainted!'

She finally flopped to the ground in a dead faint as the school nurses came rushing in after a five minute wait. ( Astrea Hill was a big place.) Chikaru felt hot tears roll down her face as Tamao was rushed to the infirmary. As she followed the nurses quite anxiously through the halls, she heard Tamao whisper ever so faintly, ' Don't leave...Chikaru...'

'You'll be okay, Tamao...you'll be okay...'

Deep down inside Chikaru's heart, she didn't really know. She'd confessed her feelings for Tamao, and effectively taken a small hand in causing her nervous breakdown. Would she return her sentiments? Would she ever get over her trauma of losing Nagisa?

'Only time will tell, Sherlock, only time...' said a nonsensical British male voice in her head.