Disclaimer: I don't own Beelzebub!
A/N: Chiaki. :3
A leopard prowled her proud heart, tossing its head this way and that in shifting stages of helplessness.
"Furuichi-sempai, you're so handsome~"
The Red Tails member was new, a petite freshman going by the name of Shibuki Itsuko. Tanimura Chiaki, though, preferred to think of her as The Woman. Furuichi Takayuki preferred to think of her as Big Booby-chan. Obviously, everyone has their own perspective, but we will use mine. Shibuki Itsuko was a brunette, and had a thing for second-in-commands. Takayuki who was Oga Tatsumi's friend/partner-in-crime/tag along fit her bill, for reasons best kept to herself. Chiaki didn't like it one bit.
Itsuko nuzzled Takayuki's shoulder. "Oga-kun's general surpasses Oga-kun!"
"Ha-ha, I wouldn't say that..." the fair haired, fickle hearted man looked flattered by the girl's attention, and Chiaki liked that less than one bit. "Um, Shibuki-san, where did you say you transferred from?"
"St. Ishiyama High! After you delinquents left, I found my heart had also left with you, sempai~"
Oh, gag. Chiaki had always thought, looking at Aoi's example, that a woman in love was the cutest thing in the world. But this woman fawning over her object of desire (well yes, when it came to a Red Tail men were objects. Punched at will, played on whim) was not in love. At least Chiaki couldn't believe she was. This was the furthest thing from cute it was possible to get. This was sticky sweetness that could drag a man down into the hellish depths of a woman's controlling bosom.
(Chiaki severely underestimated how much Takayuki wanted to be dragged down and controlled.)
"You're very kind, Shibuki-san..."
"Please, sempai! Don't be so formal. Call me Itsuko."
The girl giggled. Chiaki gasped within herself. In one slick move The Woman had gotten more familiar with Takayuki than Chiaki had managed after nearly a year of having him call her Tanimura-san. She'd been waiting so demurely for him to cross into the casual grounds of at least Tanimura-chan, and here she had just been outdone by her own kouhai. Fucking disgraceful!
"Itsuko-chan, would you like for me to walk you to class?"
"Sempai is so sweet~ I'd love for you to do that! Ishiyama High is scary for a girl like me."
Nene, sitting next to Chiaki as was her wont, snorted as the pair left. Around a mouthful of rice cake she sprayed, "Men are such pigs. And why the hell did Aoi-nee let her into the Red Tails? Chick's a wuss."
That was precisely why they had to take her on. Aoi was a fair leader who had created the Red Tails to protect the female population; she wouldn't hear of any student being excluded. Itsuko was under the sisterhood's protection whether she wanted it or not.
Chiaki quietly said, "You don't think Kanzaki is a pig."
Nene went red but immediately shot back, "Of course I think he's a pig. But he's a pig I can put up with. Why would any girl set her cap for Furuichi?"
And therein lay the reason Chiaki was helpless to stop Itsuko from futzing around with her one true love. Why would one of the highest ranking female delinquents of the delinquent high school be interested in a man as incapable of looking after himself as Takayuki was? If Oga Tatsumi wasn't watching his back there would be a piece of paper on it saying 'I'm an idiot, steal my lunch and leave me for dead'. As it stood, only Tatsumi did that sort of thing to the moron who'd chosen to follow him to Ishiyama High instead of following his common sense and heading to a school better suited to his personality.
Chiaki had held back all this time for fear of being expelled from the Red Tail's list of approved persons. Just because their leader had gone off and broken their code of conduct to fall in love didn't mean the rest of them could. (Wait, what?) Anyway, Kuneida Aoi's affection was one-sided as best as anyone could tell. (Seriously, did Oga Tatsumi actually even have a heart to lose?) And now Chiaki's seemed doomed to the same fate, because apparently if she didn't have a C-cup or higher she wasn't woman enough for Takayuki.
(Chiaki didn't even know why she bothered wearing a bra. Completely pointless; even in the locker rooms she went unnoticed amongst the field of blooming field of flowers; the lone shrub that bore no fruit.)
Dubious metaphors aside, this was all a moot point. It all came down to this: Chiaki couldn't do a damn thing about not having Takayuki's feelings for herself. Even if she were to somehow dispatch The Woman (and her fingers twitched to draw her guns) it would mean nothing if Takayuki wouldn't even consider turning to her. How many rivals could she face? The only sensible course of action was to give it up as a bad job right now and avoid further ache.
"Chiaki, are you gonna finish your juice?"
"You may have it."
Nene helped herself, and cast a worried eye over the shorter girl's apathetic face. "You okay? You barely touched your lunch."
"I have to use the restroom."
She was followed by Nene, because even delinquent girls didn't travel solo. Splashing cold water onto her face, Chiaki posed a question to Nene's reflection in the mirror.
"What's your bust size?"
"34, C." Nene frowned. "Is that what this is about? I told you, Chiaki, an A-cup is nothing to be ashamed of. Plenty of boys dig small chests."
"Please don't call it small."
"Oh, right. Petite. I curse the day your parents put you in French class. And why has this subject come around again after...has it been five months? A hiatus like that, I thought you'd gotten over this."
The brunette turned and wiped her face with a paper napkin. The redhead tutted. "I keep telling you, those paper napkins aren't good for the skin..."
"No it's not! Don't sound so reassuring when you say that!"
The bell rang for class and Chiaki made an impulsive decision. "Let's skip," she suggested, and that was all the leeway Nene needed to lead the way to the terrace. Sitting on the highest point of their school, they saw the city sprawled before them in impressive languor. The pure blue sky tired them with its pulsating energy, so they looked out across the dirty buildings and dirtier river, towards the distant suburbs. Nene pulled out a stick of gum and offered it to her companion. They chewed in comfortable quiet, no sound (be it of the school or the city) reaching their ears. The wind danced with a few stray papers left here, and under them the door to the terrace opened.
"Furuichi-sempai, I'm so happy you agreed to have lunch with me~"
Nene wasn't the most sensitive person in the world but she was alert enough to notice the way Chiaki's whole body sort of just seized up in a motionless panic. Takayuki's answer was a booming laugh.
"You're so energetic, Itsuko-chan! But...is it really alright? Wouldn't you rather eat with your friends?"
"Sempai isn't my friend?"
Nene rolled her eyes as he replied too sweetly to repeat. "What a pig. Totally shameless. I can hardly understand what Aoi-nee sees in Oga, but I get even less of what Oga sees in Furuichi."
"Maybe..." Chiaki's voice was too soft to be safe, "It's because he's loyal to him."
"Define loyal," Nene debated, "I've seen the way he eyes Hilda-san. His own friend's bride isn't safe from the man. Not a pig, more like a wolf."
"Maybe he can't explain it," Chiaki's voice suddenly grew stronger, "Maybe it's an attraction that he can't help. Maybe he just needed someone to protect and Furuichi-kun was there for him. Maybe it's because Furuichi-kun is the only one who's not scared to talk to him."
Her friend was about to retort, but then she saw the look on Chiaki's face and realized that this wasn't really directed at her. She chose to listen.
"Isn't it possible that there doesn't need to be a reason? Furuichi-kun, perhaps if given the chance, can be much more than meets the eye."
Below them, Itsuko fed Takayuki a piece of braised beef. Chiaki turned away, choosing the sky's woes over her human ones. Nene was pretty much astounded. This was one romantic revelation she would've never seen coming. All the snide comments she'd made about the boy returned to nibble at her toes and she fretted over the irritation Chiaki must've suffered. Certainly if anyone had ever spoken about Kanzaki Hajime in front of her like that she'd have gone batshit. The redhead took matters into her own hands and leaped lightly down from the terrace's terrace, dropping seven feet as nonchalantly as if she was playing hopscotch.
Neither Itsuko nor Takayuki were expecting her. It was awkward all around, except Nene chose to ignore that and get straight to the nub of the matter. Pointing a long, threatening finger at Itsuko, she said, "Hey, beat it."
Shibuki Itsuko was a smart girl. She obeyed on the double, pausing only to throw a regretful, heartbreaking smile at Takayuki. He caught it flat in the face and his cheeks went pink with proof. Standing aggrieved, he demanded answers.
"What's going on, Oomori?"
"What's going on, the bastard wants to know. Check if there's an audience before getting lovey-dovey in public, moron!"
"How was I supposed to know?" he bristled slightly and then fell back in recognition of her superior logic. "Alright, well. I mean. You could've said something sooner."
"We were waiting for the right moment."
Takayuki's eyes widened in confusion. "We?"
Nene turned her cheek over shoulder and hollered upwards, "Chiaki, get down here and give 'im a piece of your mind?"
The poor duckling was mortified. Peering down, she leaped as well, cringing as the wind caught her skirt. Takayuki had the presence of mind to avert his gaze, but Nene caught the gesture and called him on it.
"Oi, what the hell's up with that? Had it been anyone else you'd be breaking your neck to look up their skirts but Chiaki doesn't get treated the same way? What's your problem?"
Chiaki stayed silent, too embarrassed for words. It was Nene's turn to think 'cute' as she waited for Takayuki's rebuttal.
"What's that supposed to mean? When I look I get yelled at and when I don't look I still get yelled at! What's a guy to do?"
"You pick a girl to look at and stick with her!" Nene grabbed Chiaki's upper arm and thrust her forwards. "Here, how's this one?"
"Eh?" Chiaki squeaked uncharacteristically, but with all the sudden plot movement no one was interested in noticing the peculiar puce shade to her buttery skin. The sun shone warmly down on them, trying to induce some feeling of youth into their corrugated hearts. Takayuki looked from Nene to Chiaki, trying to figure out who was the bigger joke. Surely this wasn't for real, surely this sort of thing wasn't just done, wasn't so easily decided. What was Nene suggesting? That he make Chiaki his girlfriend? Didn't he need her permission for that?
"Chiaki's fine with it if you are," Nene added brightly. The brunette in her hands exclaimed something too mangled to make out, and Takayuki peered uncomfortably at her.
"Um, Tanimura...is that true? You wouldn't mind?"
Her heart nearly leaped out of her throat when he said her name sans 'san'. Hell yes, that was okay with her. She jerked her head up and down in a acquiescent way, and turned a striking rose blend.
"Oh. Cool. Tanimura, then will you go out with me?"
Another head-jerk. Takayuki nodded and gathered up the remains of his and Itsuko's lunch. "I'll go take these back to her and tell her I can't walk her home." He hesitated for a second. "I can walk you home, right?"
This head-jerk thing was really a lot easier than voicing her thoughts. Nene rolled her eyes and kept her peace, but Takayuki was a pushy kinda guy. "Tanimura, say something. This is okay, right?"
"Yes, Furuichi-kun." Her tone never trembled, and she gave thanks for her flatness. He studied her for a further second and walked past her to the door. Nene and she both pivoted to watch him go; he stopped just beyond the door frame.
"And, you know. Since I'm going to call you Tanimura, you shouldn't add -kun to my name."
The smile in his sentence hung in the air even after he went downstairs, and Nene threw her arms around Chiaki.
"Whoa! Furuichi was almost cool right then. And you brought it out in him, Chiaki!"
"Nene-chan, that was scary." Her face was stuffed between Nene's breasts. "Please don't do something like that again."
"I won't so long as you get the lesson. No matter what others think, if you like a guy then you go get him. Defend him, for chrissake! Take care of your nincompoop, Chiaki."
"He's not a nincompoop."
"That's the spirit!"
Yes. Yes it was.