Konoha Gakuen Den ~ Cross Days


~ Prologue ~


Her days always began on the train. Traveling to school every morning was when she truly started to enjoy herself. For a little while, everything was fine in her world. It wasn't that her life at home was bad, far from it in fact, but every morning was the same tried and true ritual: wake up, get dressed for school, say good morning to her mother and eat breakfast with her little sister before heading out to the train station.

But this well-known routine was only the calm before the storm; the prelude to the difficult day ahead.

When on the train, Katsura Kotonoha would happily become engrossed with the latest book she was reading. As an avid reader, Kotonoha enjoyed the immersive worlds and vivid characters that brought her books to life. However, no matter how engaging her book might have been, she always spared a brief glance towards the boy who stood by the train doors. And sometimes, his eyes would meet hers for a few moments before shyly shifting away.

His name was Ito Makoto, and luckily for her, her mother's announcement during the next fortnight saved her from days filled with suffering and insanity brought about by his actions, had certain events played out like they should have.


Chapter One ~ The Sorrowful Schoolgirl


"Bye bye Onee-chan!" Kokoro said, waving wildly with her usual cheerful grin plastered on her face. She stood at the gate, watching her older sister as she walked to the train station as she normally did on school days.

"See you later." Kotonoha replied with a smile and a wave. She faced forward and continued on her way, breathing in the cool fresh air of the first morning of the new school year. As she left the quiet streets where her home was located, she began to see other students from her school walking along the same roads, each heading for the same destination. She smiled to herself, revelling in the fact that soon she would be able to read her latest book in the relative quiet of the early morning train.

The number of uniformed students belonging to Sakakino High School far outnumbered the amount of regular commuters catching the train. Despite this, not one of the students said a word to each other, aside from the occasional "Ohayo," that was followed or punctuated by a hastily stifled yawn. It was far too early in the morning for most people, and even the most cheery of students chose to sit or stand quietly while on the train, reading, listening to music or simply staring out the window, watching the scenery outside rush by.

Kotonoha enjoyed these quiet mornings very much. The rest of the day would not be as calm or pleasant as it was at this moment so right now, she was as happy as she could be.

As she stepped onto the train, minding the gap, she wandered over to her usual spot, placed her bag on the seat beside hers, and rummaged through it for her book. Her slender fingers eventually came to rest on the small hardback, and she withdrew it with carefully contained glee. When she had stopped reading the night before, one of the two female characters in the love triangle centred on the main character was about to reveal her plan to win over the boy's heart.

She flipped to the page, gently sliding out the handmade bookmark given to her by her younger sister and tucking it securely in the back of the book. Her movements were deft and precise yet oddly elegant for such simple actions; a fact that a certain onlooker was quick to notice. As Kotonoha's eyes came to rest on the first word on the page, she felt another pair of eyes on her.

She glanced up, and as she expected, he was gazing at her. The boy she only knew as Ito-san stood by the door as he did every morning, his trademark navy blue headphones resting over his ears. Their eyes met; his eyebrows lifted in surprise before he quickly turned his head to the glass panel in the door, directing his gaze towards the blurred rows of buildings outside.

She watched him for a few moments, but he did not look at her again. Deciding to leave the matter alone for the moment, she once again felt her eyes being drawn to the pages of her book. She gave in quickly, and let the words capture her eyes and her imagination.


~KGD:CD~


The end of her peaceful morning was signalled by a disembodied announcement: "Gakuenmae Station. We have arrived at Gakuenmae Station. Please mind the doors."

She sighed gently, reigning in the faint flare of irritation that blossomed in her mind. The book was becoming far too interesting to put down yet she would have to wait until she caught the afternoon train to once again become immersed in that intriguing piece of literature.

As she stood up and collected her things, she noticed that Ito, the boy standing by the doors, had been holding his cell phone up and it had been pointed in her direction, as if he were taking a picture. She doubted that was the case; they had never spoken to each other before, so it wasn't like he was about to keep pictures of her on his phone almost like... Like a boyfriend would...

She blushed faintly and pushed the thought out of her mind. While she was considering on whether or not she should ask him about what he had done with his phone, he quickly snapped it shut and stepped off the train.

The chance was lost as she watched the dark haired boy vanish into the throng of students crowded around the narrow staircase that led to the street above the station. She sighed and pushed the issue out of her mind; she had more important things to worry about now.


~KGD:CD~


Kotonoha stopped right outside her classroom. Her hand was inches away from the handle of the sliding door, yet she felt she had to take a few moments to gather up her courage. She breathed in deeply, shutting her eyes tightly as she released the breath.

Her eyebrows slanted upwards with slight distress, the only external indicator of her worries. Her eyes were screwed tightly shut as she tried to convince herself to open the door. "I am not afraid, I will be fine." she mumbled under her breath.

'I am not afraid, I will be fine.' she continued the chant in her head as her fingers sought the thin metal handle on the wooden door. She slowly slid it open, not too quickly as to draw attention to herself.

She straightened up determinedly and walked into the room, sliding the door closed behind her, and plotting the route she would take to get to her seat without walking too close to the two seater desk closest to the door at the front of the classroom.

Luckily for her, that seat was empty for the moment. Without missing a beat, she quickly hurried past and sought her seat on the other side of the room. Sliding gratefully into her spot, she paused to place her bag on the hook on the side of the table. As she straightened up and turned her gaze towards the front of the room, she flinched in shock. "Oh!"

A group of girls had silently gathered around her desk, glaring at her with crossed arms and snooty expressions on their faces. "Ohayo Katsura-san." murmured the girl in the middle of the group. Her name was Katou Otome and she was the leader of her little friend circle.

"O-Ohayo Katou-san, Obuchi-san, Mori-san and Koizumi-san." the other girls flanking Otome responded curtly in turn to Katsura's greeting. Obuchi Minami, Mori Kumi and Koizumi Natsumi were Otome's lackeys, and they made sure to assist Otome in all of her attempts to bully poor Kotonoha.

Otome's hand slammed down onto the surface of the desk, making Kotonoha jump. Otome leaned in close and began to speak. "You're late. Is this the behaviour befitting of a student bearing the title of Class Representative?"

"But I'm not late," she replied calmly. "I am on time Katou-san. See?" she gestured to the clock above the black board. Kotonoha's mother had often told her that the best way to deal with mean people was to remain calm and polite no matter what they said to her. Unfortunately, her attempts to be placid and unfazed only irritated Otome further.

Otome leaned closer to Kotonoha. "Listen Katsura, this term is when we have the cultural festival. As the Class Rep, it's your job to organize Class Four's theme and stall. So if you continue to take this laid back, walk-into-school-when-I-feel-like-it attitude, our class will be the laughing stock of Sakakino High. Got it?" Kotonoha turned her gaze to her lap, staring at her tightly folded hands.

"Yes. I understand." she replied after a pause, relying on her mother's advice. Unfortunately, her mother had been a bit of a wallflower back in her day, so her advice to her daughter probably wasn't the best for the situation.

Otome felt a hot flare of irritation rise, causing her brow to crease for a moment. She opened her mouth to speak, but quickly turned on her heel and left, followed by her posse as their sensei entered the room, marking the commencement of homeroom.


~KGD:CD~


Unknown to Kotonoha at the time, Ito Makoto in the next class over was currently gazing at her face, captured in eternal stillness on his cell phone. From the time he spotted her at the beginning of their first year of junior high school, Makoto had been smitten with the quiet girl who sat across from him on the train.

He held his phone under the table as his sensei read out the notices for that morning. His seat was located on the highest tier in the back of classroom. Strangely enough, his new desk mate (as a result of a new seating arrangement) was absent. From what he'd heard, Saionji Sekai had never missed a day of school since the second year of elementary school.

Returning his attention to his phone's small screen, his eyes traced over the features of the girl's face, a face he knew as well as his own. He was content with only watching Katsura from a distance, but he had heard that people who kept a picture of their crush on their phone for three weeks ended up with them. That is, if no one finds out. A cell phone charm, it was called.

Naturally he didn't believe in such things, but he doubted it would hurt to try. His eyes were riveted to the screen as they traced over Kotonoha's silky dark purple hair, her beautiful dark purple-brown eyes and her perfect doll-like face. What his photo didn't show was Kotonoha's well-endowed figure, which his best friend Taisuke had graded as an A+ body.

"Huh? Is that a cell phone charm Ito-kun? You're pretty trendy aren't you?" an inquisitive voice inquired from behind him. He jumped in shock, slammed his phone shut and spun around to face the newcomer, a blush decorating his cheeks.

Before him stood his new desk partner, Saionji Sekai. Often described as the most bubbly and cheerful person in the school, she too was a winner in the looks department. However, her figure only earned her a B+ in Taisuke's pervy grading scheme.

"Well? Is it a cell phone charm? I didn't know you believed in that stuff Ito-kun!" she grinned at him and took her seat next to his. "My name is Saionji Sekai, and from now on, we'll be seated together! I hope we'll get along and work hard, partner!"

"Uh..."

She pouted at him, her earlier grin disappearing in an instant. "The polite thing to do is to introduce yourself!"

"But you already know my... Ah, my name is Ito Makoto. It's a pleasure to meet you." he mumbled in defeat. Just who was this girl?

Her grin returned immediately and he realized that she had been teasing him. "See? Was that so hard?"

"You have an unusual name." Makoto stated blandly, trying to disregard her playful yet patronizing tone. He was at a complete loss with this girl. How does someone cycle through emotions so quickly?

"Yup! Sekai means 'The World'. Pretty grand huh?"

"Not really." he replied, boredom starting to set in.

"You're so indifferent Ito-kun. Are you good at studying?"

"Not really."

"You're so indifferent Ito-kun," she repeated, before leaning towards him with a cheeky grin. "So, you like Class Four's Katsura-san right?"

He glanced wide eyed at her as panic rose in his chest. "You saw it?" he said as his grip tightened on his phone.

Her grin fell for a brief moment, until a smaller and rather odd looking smile replaced it. "I saw it."

"..." he shot her a puzzled look, until their sensei called for the student's attention to start the first lesson of the day.


~KGD:CD~


As the bell for the first recess rang, Sekai grabbed Makoto's arm and pulled him to his feet. "H-Hey! What the hell are you doing?"

"Shut up and come with me! I want to talk to you in private." she placed a hushed emphasis on the end of her sentence, so Makoto unwillingly shut up and went with her.

She half pulled, half dragged him through the classroom. Makoto made sure to glance anywhere but at his fellow students, who were staring at the pair curiously.

"Oi, Makoto! Where are you going?" yelled Taisuke.

"Don't know, don't care." Makoto replied resignedly.

When Sekai finally let go of his arm, he found himself standing with her on the roof of the school. It was a small and empty spot, unknown to most of the student body. Even though there were plenty of benches set up around the small space, not many students chose to eat up here, since the corridor below that the stairwell opened onto became a slow moving traffic jam between classes.

Makoto immediately moved over to one of the benches and slumped down onto it, closing his eyes. "Well? What did you want to talk about?"

Sekai stood next to him and let her eyes rove over the school grounds through the chain link fence that surrounded the rooftop. "Makoto-kun, I'll ask you again. Do you like Katsura-san?"

'Makoto-kun? Are we that close already?' Makoto's eyes shot open, and he gave her a suspicious sideways glance. "Yeah, I do." he replied, deciding the question was safe enough. It was pretty obvious when one looked at the picture on his phone, so why bother denying it?

She shut her eyes for a few moments, and the chain link fence creaked under her fingers as her grip tightened. She suddenly turned to him, a determined gleam in her eyes. "Alright then. I've decided to help you two get together!"

Makoto stared at her in shock. "Seriously?" he asked incredulously.

"Seriously." she replied, nodding firmly to drive the point home.

Makoto stood and clasped her hands excitedly. "Thanks Sekai! What should I do first?" Sekai blushed when their hands touched but she continued to speak nonetheless.

"Well, first things first..."


~KGD:CD~


Kotonoha stretched her arms above her head as she left the main school building, yawning widely. Since no one was around, she let her composure slip for a brief moment, enjoying the fact that her harrowing day was finally over. All things considered though, Otome and her gang hadn't been too hard on her today and for that she was grateful.

As she approached the main entrance, she noticed a boy leaning against the wall, wearing navy blue headphones. As she approached, he glanced up and upon spotting her, quickly tucked his headphones into his bag. He walked over to her with a sheepish grin on his face. Kotonoha suddenly realized that this was Ito-kun, the boy who caught the same train as her. She had overheard from someone that he was in Class Three, the classroom next to her own.

"Uh, hi Katsura-san," he greeted her nervously yet warmly.

"Good afternoon Ito-san." she replied in turn. He seemed surprised that she knew his name but continued regardless.

"Hey, I know that we don't know each other that all that well, but I... Uh... I wanted to ask you... If..." he blushed and looked down at the ground. Gathering his resolve, he raised his eyes to hers, giving her a steely and determined gaze. "Please go out with me Katsura-san!"


~KGD:CD~


As Kotonoha closed the front door behind her, Kokoro came bounding up to her and wrapped her small arms around her older sister's waist. "I'm home." said Katsura with a smile.

"Welcome home Onee-chan!" her sister craned her neck upwards to see Kotonoha's face. "Hey, did anything interesting happen at school today?"

Kotonoha smiled gently. "Oh, nothing much. Katou-san was angry with me, the student council meeting was very busy with the plans for the upcoming festival, a boy asked me to go out with him, I saw-"

"What?! Who is he Onee-chan? Did you say yes? Is he cute?"

Kotonoha smiled playfully as her sister became more and more excited with each passing second. "His name is Ito Makoto and he is in the class next to mine. I did say yes and ... he is reasonably cute." she finished with a blush.

"Ooooh! Onee-chan got a boyfriend! Hey, can-?"

"Kokoro, if you'll excuse me, I would like to take a bath." Kotonoha cut her sister off before she was assault by a barrage of questions. Her little sister pouted cutely and released her grip on her elder sister's waist.

"You're so mean Onee-chan." she huffed. Kotonoha smiled and gently patted her head before slipping off her shoes and heading to her room.

Once inside, she shut the door and sat down on her bed. Her bag was placed neatly by her desk and her bedroom window was open, letting in the pale rays of the crescent moon and a cool night breeze that made her curtains sway back and forth.

'So I have a boyfriend now?' she felt a blush creep up her cheeks. 'This is my first one. I'm very nervous, yet at the same time excited!' an unbidden smile formed on her soft pink lips and she quickly gathered up her towel and nightclothes in her arms.

'I promise to do my best and be a good girlfriend for Ito-san... Um... I mean Ito-kun."

She nodded affirmatively to herself and made her way to the bathroom.


~KGD:CD~


At the home of Katou Otome, one could find the girl herself sprawled on her bed, a cell phone tucked between her head and shoulder while she applied a clear glossy coating of nail polish to her fingernails.

Her second in command, Obuchi Minami, was on the other end of the line. "Hey Otome, did you hear about Makoto-kun and Katsura-san?" Her interest piqued, Otome replied negatively. "Well, I heard from Hikari-san in Class Three that Makoto-kun asked her out after school today. She saw them as she was walking home and overheard their conversation.

A slight frown creased Otome's brow. "Are you sure? Could Hikari-san be lying to you?"

"Of course not! She is known throughout Sakakino High as one of the most honest girls in school!"

"Tch," Otome's frown deepened. She wasn't just annoyed that Kotonoha was dating Makoto because it was that I-think-I'm-so-much-better-than-everyone rich girl Katsura Kotonoha, the truth was that Otome liked Makoto too, and had been waiting until the festival to ask him out. "It can't be true!" she blurted.

"Huh?"

"There's no way that Makoto-kun would go out with Katsura-san. They've never even spoken to each other before!"

"Well, that's true..."

"I'm sure that Hikari-san must be mistaken. Let's find out tomorrow, straight from the source."

"Alright Otome," Minami yawned loudly. "Anyway, I'll see you tomorrow yeah? Good night."

"Yeah, good night." replied Otome before hanging up.

Her fingernails had dried during the conversation. They gleamed subtly in the dim light of her night lamp. Coloured nail polish wasn't allowed in their school, so this was the best she could do. Otome lay back in bed, her scowl deepening as she thought of the possibility of Makoto and Kotonoha dating.

She smirked. It wasn't possible. There was no way that Makoto, one of the nicest guys back in elementary school, would date a plain old wallflower like Katsura Kotonoha. Reaching out to switch off the lamp on her nightstand, she rolled over and promptly fell asleep.


~KGD:CD~


The school week passed by without any real change to the daily routine. Otome and her gang became more persistent, putting Kotonoha down at any moment possible. They seemed to think that Kotonoha was lying about being in a relationship with Makoto, and she was always too busy with her Class Representative and Student Council duties to meet with him during school hours and prove it. Then again, it wasn't their business concerning who she went out with, so why should she have to prove it to them? Even though they were in their second year of junior high school now, they were acting the same, if not worse, as they had during their previous three years in elementary school and their first year of junior high. Some people just didn't change, and that was not always a good thing Kotonoha had come to realise.

As Saturday came and went, so did one of the most awkward dates Kotonoha could have possibly imagined. After standing in front of him for several moments, while he read a bright pink book entitled 'The Complete Guide to Love', he jumped in shock when he finally noticed her, quickly hiding the book behind his back. Bypassing several pillars of dating law, Makoto dragged her to an arcade on the first date, and she watched sheepishly as he played the available games with moods varying from elation to resentment.

But underneath the bluster and lack of basic dating courtesy, Kotonoha though that Makoto was rather sweet, especially since he spent a shocking amount of yen trying to win her a small stuffed toy neko-girl found in a popular anime from a claw machine.

He also took her to a rather fancy cafe, where he cheerfully paid for a massive tray of very tasty looking sweets and deserts for the two of them. Far too many sweets and deserts... Nonetheless, she was happy that he was trying so hard to give her a good time.

She also learned about his reading habits when they entered a bookshop and were perusing the magazine section. While she reached for her favourite idol magazine, she noticed Makoto sliding towards the automobile section. She walked over to him to find out what he was interested in, to gain a better understanding of her new boyfriend.

The first thing she noticed was the blush on his cheeks and the leering smile on his lips as he stared at the magazine in his hands. Glancing over his shoulder, she noticed that he was holding two magazines, using one to shield the other from view. Beautiful busty women in various seductive poses graced both of the pages of the top magazine, and when he noticed that Kotonoha was behind him, he shut both magazines quickly and gave her a sheepish grin. She smiled back embarrassedly. 'Is he a pervert?' she wondered.

Despite his choice in reading material, he was still quick to stand in front of her when she accidentally bumped into a man who was passing by, who promptly began to yell at her. However, Makoto looked so terrified of the man who was nearly twice his size that Kotonoha quickly bowed politely and apologized, to save Makoto from an undesirable confrontation.

As Makoto stood in the doorway of the train that would take him home, he grinned widely at her. He had been decent enough to escort her to her station and was about to head home himself. So what did he want? The train was going to leave very soon.

"Today was fun wasn't it?" he said cheerfully.

"Y-Yes," replied Kotonoha, smiling and blushing delicately. "It was."

"Well then, Katsura-san," he said, closing his eyes and puckering his lips. Kotonoha stared at him in confusion until realization dawned on her. Her face became tomato red in complexion and she found that she couldn't move, simply staring at Makoto's rather creepy 'kissy' face.

Clutching the chibi cat-girl toy tightly to her chest, she quivered as Makoto's puckered, fish-like lips came closer and closer. 'It's much too soon for this! What do I do?' Luckily for her, the train doors picked that exact moment to slide shut, saving her from making a decision. As the doors closed, and the welcoming yet muffled voice of the conductor telling the passengers to 'Mind the doors.' could be heard, she quickly backed away from the train.

Makoto was still standing there, eyes closed and lips puckered, waiting for the kiss that wouldn't come. 'Not today at least. Sorry Ito-kun.' As he opened his eyes and saw Kotonoha on the other side of the glass window, his expression changed to one of confusion. She bowed her head in apology, blushing furiously as the train began to pull away from Haramihama Station.

Makoto watched Kotonoha from the window, wide eyed and mouth agape in shock as he began his long and solitary journey home.


Author's Note:

To new readers, I hope you enjoyed the chapter! To old readers who read this when the chapter was first uploaded, welcome back! I know it's been a long time between uploads and I apologise. I've gone through the chapter and tweaked out some of the errors and changed the formatting a bit to how I present my chapters now – nothing big that would prompt a re-read but I bet most of the older readers will have forgotten the plot after all this time – I know I did! Thank goodness for my barely legible, somewhat extensive notes!

I uploaded this chapter about a year and a bit ago, and never came back to it. I always felt bad about that, so here we are! Click onward to the long awaited Chapter Two ~ When Amazing is Not Enough!

Kagyuubi