Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Junichi Sato & co’s Prétear anime.
Characters & Relationships: Himeno & Sasame x Takako
Summary: What’s worse than a running nose, sore throat, plugged ears, the whole shebang? Getting it as the Knight of Sound.
Author’s Note: Enjoy!
The Sound of Waves
"I'm terribly sorry to burden you... If there was any other way I wouldn't have bothered you, but we can't stay in Leafenia during this type of winter and our apartment building keeps losing power due to the excessive cold. He can't heal in those conditions."
"It's no trouble. Really! We're friends, remember, and friends help each other out. Besides, the house is so big, some extra life can only be an improvement. Even germ-infested life."
Takako smiled gratefully. Himeno grinned.
"So, what exactly is wrong with him? He doesn't look that bad." She peered around the doorframe of the bedroom to the slumbering Sasame. "And how come you're apologizing so much while he's right here? Doesn't he hate it when you do that?"
"I guess that's the silver lining to this miserable cloud of germs." Takako said with a wry smile, making Himeno giggle. "It's just a common cold. Sore throat, coughing, runny nose... he'd be fine if it wasn't for the fact that his ears are plugged. He can't hear a thing."
Himeno grimaced. That explained everything. "That must be though on him."
"You don't know half of it." Takako cast a sympathetic smile into his room.
Himeno's face pulled into a wry smile. "During a prét he once told me that he'd rather lose his manhood than his hearing. We were being beaten pretty badly at that time, though, so I don't know how serious I should take that." She laughed it off, her eyes twinkling contagiously.
Takako sniffed and stuck her nose in the air in mock disgust. "He voiced that sentiment to me too, the other day. I took care of it. It won't be coming back."
Himeno stared at her for a moment, asking herself whether the raven-haired young woman in front of her was really prim, modest Takako. Then she burst out in a fit of badly suppressed snickers that was even more contagious than the sparkle in her eyes, with Takako following her example before long. She closed the door as not to disturb Sasame and they took their time to sober up. When she'd wiped the tears of mirth from her eyes, Takako sighed. She put a hand to the cool wood of the door in a gesture of connection to the ill Knight inside.
"I shouldn't be laughing... He's really having a hard time, Himeno. I never realised just how much he depends on his sense of hearing. He's been walking into people, into my potted plants, into doorposts, all because he simply doesn't pay enough attention to them. He has always supported his eyesight with his hearing, so he's not used to carefully looking around with his eyes. He won't be of much use as a Knight for a while, either. He tried to cast a Sonic Arrow across the pond in the park, last night, and... well, I'm sure you've seen the news." Takako finished, blushing and looking down at her feet.
"That was Sasame?" Himeno almost couldn't contain her laughter. "Oh man, I have to see Hayate's face when he hears about this! He went to investigate because he thought there was something fishy about it."
Takako didn't think it was quite as funny.
"What happened, anyway? It's not like Sasame to screw up like that."
"He couldn't get his Arrows' strength balanced out right, and... overdid it a little."
While Himeno dissolved in yet another fit of giggles, Takako only felt awkward. After having abandoned their 'mortal enemy' attitudes, she and Himeno had become surprisingly good friends. Their very different personalities were linked by one simple factor: they were both a Prétear, two of the strongest to have ever lived. It was in both their natures to nurture and protect, and they understood each other on a level unlike any other. That didn't take away that great parts of their personalities clashed, though. And as Himeno's mirth died down, she was once again reminded of that fact. Sometimes, she thought Takako was too sensitive and caring for her own good.
Himeno sighed. "I'm sorry, Takako. That was inconsiderate of me. But come on, cheer up! You can't help Sasame get better with such a gloomy face. Even if he can't hear you very well, you should still smile for him. He loves your smile quite a lot, I recall."
"You're right, Himeno... as usual." Takako smiled, albeit a bit bashfully. "If I let Sasame's bad moods get to me I'll never be able to return all the care he bestows on me when I need it."
Himeno squeezed Takako's hand. "Come on, let's pile up a tray of goodies for him in the kitchen. That place is like an in-home supermarket, I'm sure we have what Sasame likes."
Takako giggled. "As a matter of fact you have, at least if things haven't changed too much since I left the staff."
"Great! And we can get ourselves something too, what do you think?" Himeno winked and received a grin in reply.
The girls set off for the kitchen, chatting animatedly. Sasame coughed in his sleep.
Takako pushed the door handle down with her elbow, slipped inside and closed the door with her foot, making sure not to do it too forcefully. Then she remembered that Sasame currently wouldn't wake up from any tiny sound like he usually did, and raised an eyebrow at herself. Had the pastries addled her brain? Besides... She smiled as she recognized the feeling. He was already awake.
With the tray carefully balanced in her hands she turned around to face him, and walked over to Sasame, who smiled at her with a foggy, tired look in his eyes. His face was pale and drawn, but his eyes lit up when he saw her. For a moment his eyebrows twisted oddly, but the expression was soon replaced by a quirky smile. She put the tray on the nightstand and sat down on the edge of the bed.
"How are you feeling?" she asked, tenderly brushing his bangs from his face to place her hand on his forehead. His skin was flushed, but he didn't seem to have a fever. He reached up to move her hand to his cheek and rested his face against her cool skin.
"Deaf. Powerless. Pitiful. When I listen, all I hear is a sound of waves. But now I feel miraculously better." he murmured. His voice was hoarse and he spoke softer than usual, probably because he was afraid he wouldn't notice if he spoke too loudly. A smile bloomed on Takako's face.
"Well, sit up then, because it's going to get even better."
Sasame obediently hoisted himself up against the headboard of the bed, and Takako placed the tray over his thighs.
Takako chuckled. "Himeno helped me."
"Ah." he said meaningfully, shooting her an amused glance. He reached for a croissant near the top of the enormous pile of food, but got rapped on the knuckles with a teaspoon.
"Ah, ah, ah. No no, I'm going to feed you." Takako said, playfully tapping his nose with the spoon.
"Be careful, you'll spoil me."
"And I'll enjoy it just as much as you."
She leaned forward to kiss him, but he turned his head away at the last moment. Takako felt his lips and then his tongue on her cheek at the corner of her mouth, applying gentle suction before he pushed her away. He licked his lips.
"Chocolate with... cherry cream. I remember those. Mrs Awayuki's cook makes delicious sweets."
A hand flew to Takako's mouth.
"Don't worry, it's gone now." Sasame said with a smile. Takako blushed, a pale pink that stood out against her porcelain skin.
"It was there the entire time? How embarrassing."
Sasame let out a chuckle turned cough. "It looked quite endearing."
At least nobody saw me. It must have been that last bonbon on the way here, Takako thought. She smiled slightly. Who else but her Sasame would think she looked nice with chocolate all over her face.
"If you liked it so much, why'd you kiss it away?" she asked teasingly.
"Because I enjoy kissing you. I couldn't let you kiss me, you'd catch my cold." Sasame answered simply.
"You're sweet." Takako sighed. "Always so sweet. Don't you ever need a day off?"
"Whenever you're around, I can't help myself."
Takako looked at the man she loved in disbelief. And he doesn't want me to kiss him? Is he trying to torture me?