Notes and Disclaimers: Maria-sama ga Miteru and Lillian Academy are the creation of Konno Oyuki, and the property of Konno Oyuki, Shueisha and Geneon Entertainment. The characters in this story are all the creation of E. Friedman, with only the best of intentions in mind.
This is the second instillation of the "Forest of Thorns" series; a historical look at the soeur system at Lillian. I really hope you enjoy this one, because its my favorite entry. I got the idea from the great shoujoai girl-gang manga series that ran in the 80's, like YajiKita Gakuen Dochuuki and Hana no Asuka-gumi. :-)
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Girls Just Want To Have Fun (Forest of Thorns - II)
It started with a group of us. We all thought Lillian Academy, with those long-waisted uniform and rules about comportment, was from the Bronze Age. What were we after all, girls or saints? None of *us* wanted to be nuns, that was for sure.
We called ourselves a "club" so no one would object to our use of the school grounds. Reiko always managed to smuggle beer in - how, I still don't know. It was strictly bring your own cigarettes, and we sat there, late every afternoon, smoking in a back corner of the grounds, hiding from the nuns and the other students and laughing at how utterly stupid school was.
All the ridiculous rituals - what were they for, anyway? Like Reiko said, it was like going to a school full of dykes. Everyone all moist-eyed and blushy at each other all the time. I wasn't like that, none of us were. We wanted guys, and not for any hand-holding, either. No, we used to sit there and laugh at everyone and their stupid "onee-sama"-ing at each other and their crushes and talk about guys, and smoke, and laugh at the losers who wanted to spend their lives with other women.
When summer vacation came we all hung out at clubs and made the guys we met take us out for karaoke and some fooling around. It was fun - no one was watching, we could sneak a few tokes, smoke a little, kick back and drink and sing and sit on their laps, knowing it didnt mean anything. We would laugh at the guys who asked us if we had soeur, making fun of their obvious desire for a threesome.
Reiko made fun of them the most, because she thought it was all crap. She'd laughed and pushed herself off the guy whose lap she sat in. She reached over and grabbed my hand and pulled me into an embrace. We were all high; I was so dizzy I collapsed on her. Reiko pinned the guy with a narrow look and told him that we didnt need any soeur, then kissed me. It was pretty sloppy and messy because we were both drunk and stoned, then I pushed her off me and we sprawled back on the sofas, laughing. The guys tried to get us to do it again, but Reiko told them to go wank off to porn, she wasn't playing. When the one guy brought it up again, she got pretty pissed off and threw them all out of the room. We laughed at how pathetic all the guys were and spent the rest of the night singing and eating chips.
We were walking home. It was about 4 AM and the trains weren't running yet. Reiko wanted to stop at some all-night place she liked, and we all decided to go together. Maya brought up the kiss and Reiko grinned at me. "You suck at kissing, you know?" I shrugged and said that she wasn't so hot herself. She stopped walking and turned towards me, a cruel smile on her face. "Oh yeah?" she said and grabbed me again.
This time I wasn't so drunk, but she was pretty strong and had surprise on her side, so the next thing I knew, her arms were around me and she had her tongue halfway down my throat and I was holding on to her sleeves while the rest of the girls catcalled and egged Reiko on. When Reiko was done with me, she pushed away and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.
"Okay," I said a little unsteadily, since my legs were wobbling beneath me. "Maybe you dont suck too bad."
Everyone laughed and Reiko put her arm around my shoulders and we went and had breakfast.
Summer vacation ended, and the "club" started up again, but Reiko said she was bored with us, so she stopped coming. One day, after a few weeks of barely seeing her in the hallway, I walked over to her classroom to see what was up. She was staring emptily out of the window.
"Hey kiddo" she said, not even looking up at me.
"Reiko, whats up?"
"Nothing," she said. "I just got tired of you all."
"All right. I'll piss off then." I turned around, but her hand reached out to grab my sleeve.
"Nah, you can stay." She was looking at me funny.
I made a face at her. "Well, thank *you*," I said sarcastically. But I sat down at the desk in front of hers and waited.
After a few moments, Reiko let go of my sleeve. "You wanna go do something?" she asked.
"Sure. But what about the others?"
Reiko shrugged. Her voice pitched low, because Lillian students didn't say things like this, she said, "Fuck 'em."
We rose and took our bags and left school together.
We ended up back at the karaoke place where we had kissed. We sang a little and drank a little and basically killed time. After a while Reiko threw her microphone down and sighed.
"Goddamn, I'm bored."
"Sor-ry," I made a rude gesture at her and she laughed.
"Not because of you, idiot. Just because. There's, like, nothing to do in this town."
"We could always shoplift a new purse or something."
She threw me a look. "You're a pretty weird kid, you know?"
"Yeah, well I'm not the freak who kissed another girl - twice."
Reiko glared at me. "No you're just weird."
I shot her another rude gesture, then fell back on my seat. "I'm bored too. God I wish I could find a guy who wasn't a total waste." I made a random movement of my hands meant to suggest general frustration. "At least all those losers at school have someone to make out with."
Reiko made a rude noise. "Ugh. Creepy, blushy girly kisses. Blecch."
"Yeah, I dont want that kind of crap - I want the person who kisses me to mean it."
Our eyes caught as we laughed. It was pretty obvious that the same idea had crossed our minds.
Reiko turned away first. I thought maybe she was blushing, but when she turned back, her whole face was red, like she was angry.
"Hey, I'm sorry about what I said that night."
"What did you say? My memory is a little fuzzy from the beer and lack of sleep."
"That you sucked at kissing."
"No biggie. I probably did." I rolled onto my back on the sofa and stared at the ceiling.
"No, really. You didn't." Reiko got off her couch and stepped over the table to my side. Kneeling by my head she leaned forward. "Really."
We reached out at the same time - the kiss wasn't anything like our first kiss - or our second. To our chagrin, it was all soft and girly...and nice.
We pulled away, excruciating blushes on our cheeks. I sat up quickly and scooted down on the seat. "Ah...um...sorry."
Reiko looked confused and a little annoyed. "Ah, no prob."
"I mean, I'm sorry that that kiss sucked too." I tried to make a joke of it, but Reiko was moving back to her seat across the room.
"I said no prob."
"I mean, you still kiss pretty good, for a girl."
"Shut up." Reiko turned her face away, but I could see the hurt in her eyes.
"Yo, Reiko what the..."
"Shut up!" her voice didn't sound like her at all. "Just let it go."
I stood up. "Fuck you," I said. "You can't tell me what to do." I stood up and walked over to her. I took her hand and tried to lift her from her seat, but she pulled away. I grabbed her shoulders and shook her. When her head snapped around towards me I grabbed it in one hand and kissed her. Hard.
I kissed her the way we had talked about - like I meant it. And, with our tongues wrestling and her lips crushed against mine, when her arms went soft and pulled me tighter, I did.
We spent the rest of the night kissing like we meant it.
We stopped hanging with the others and spent all our time together. The leaves turned yellow, and started falling, leaving mucky ginkoes all over the path and leaves that had to be cleaned up. But as soon as we were done, Reiko and I would bug out and head somewhere we could be alone. We didn't always do stuff - sometimes we just went to a movie and sat next to each other, not even touching. Because we knew this wasn't love or anything. It was whatever it was.
Winter came, and winter recess. I was looking forward to spending all my time with Reiko, but when she came to school the day before vacation, she looked awful.
"We're moving," was all she said before homeroom. The morning was a terrible wait until I could speak with her alone.
"My parents," she said, wiping a sleeve across her eyes. "They decided that they dont like the school."
"But..." I knew what she meant. What was I going to say about it? We had been among the loudest to complain about dykes and nuns and here I was, my heart pounding in my chest with fear. "Can't you....?"
"I told them that I had good friends, and they started to yell at me about hanging with a bad crowd. And we fought for a while and...and..." Her head drooped. "And I told them...about us."
The numbness that filled me was mostly fear. I could barely move my mouth. I stared at her, shaking.
"They're taking me to my aunt's." Reiko's voice was miserable. I wanted to hold her, but with other students walking by it was all we could do to seem like we were having a normal conversation.
"When?" I whispered.
And the bell rang and we had to go back to class.
I went home, petrified that Reiko's parents would have said something, but if they did, I never heard about it. For the next few days, I hung around, hoping to catch some news, some word of Reiko, but it was if she had disappeared from off the planet.
It took me a month to cry about it and two months to stop.
Winter had come and gone and I never even noticed. Our "club" had mostly split up. The older girls had had exams to deal with, the younger had moved on. Some had boyfriends, I saw them walking around town together, sometimes. I stopped smoking - it seemed less fun with no one else. And I hadn't gone to karaoke since Reiko had left.
I was wandering around the campus after school, wondering if I should even go so low as to join a real club, just to have something to do, when a third-year approached me. "You busy?" she asked - really rudely, implying that I obviously wasn't.
"Yes," I answered, just as rudely.
"Tough, here." She reached out, dropping a huge bundle of...stuff...into my arms. I almost sagged with the weight.
"What the hell?" I said, but she rounded on me.
"Don't use language like that. Maria-sama is watching." She gestured and I turned my head to find that we were directly in front of the statue at the fork in the road.
I hastily apologized , but she was already walking away. I followed her as fast as I could go with the armload of whatever it was.
"What is all this anyway?" I asked, when I caught up to her.
"It's cleaning materials. You're going to go help me clean up."
"You helped make the mess, you'll help clean up."
I followed her away from the buildings, out to the back of the campus where our "club" had hung out. The space was littered with cigarette butts, paper, junk food wrappers and other garbage.
"Put on a pair of gloves and start cleaning," she said.
I dropped the pile that I held and faced her. "You cant tell me what to do," I began, but she put up a finger and shook it back and forth, like I was a child.
"Ah-ah-ah," she said, with a smile in her eyes. "And there's where you'd be wrong. So be a good girl and do it."
So, with one eye on my master, I put on a pair of gloves and did it. It was nearly dark by the time we finished.
"What do you think?" she said, standing back with a pleased look.
"I think we've wasted our time, because they'll just come back and do it again."
"And that's where you'd be wrong," she repeated without looking at me.
"Who are you?" I asked, wondering if there was some cosmic joke I wasn't getting.
She turned to me, her black hair shorn unexceptionally just below the shoulders. "You really dont know, do you?"
I shook my head.
She laughed like that was the funniest thing she'd ever heard, laughed until she couldnt breathe and was leaning on my shoulder for support. "You're great. I knew you were out of it, but..." She paused to breathe and patted me with the hand on my shoulder. "You idiot," she said affectionately, with the same tone Reiko always used when she called me that. "I'm Rosa Chinensis."
It took me a moment to figure out what she meant. I never paid a damn bit of attention to the student council elections, or any of the "stars" of the school. "You're Kitazawa?" I finally managed, then hastily amended it to, "...uh, -sama."
She didn't seem to have minded the slip at all. "Yes, and I want you to be my soeur."
I stared at her, and she stared at me and neither of us gave for a really long time. The light was fading fast. I could barely see her face now.
"Why on earth should I be your soeur?" I snapped first.
"Because, one - I like you. Two - we, the Yamayurikai, need help and three - otherwise you'll keep moping about the school, and making yourself conspicuous."
"What do you mean?"
She put one hand on a hip and cocked her head at me. "You have been walking around this campus since winter recess with your head up your butt and a hang-dog look. Everyone in school knows about it - about you and Reiko-san. Did you think we were all blind or stupid?"
I blinked at her, my face hot. "We all?" I croaked. "Everyone?"
When she didnt answer, I started to cry. In the dark, with a chill wind blowing, I buried my face in my hands and started to bawl like a baby. Kitazawa-sama put her arm around my shoulder and stroked my head. "There, there," she crooned. I put my face into her chest and cried until my throat was raw, while she held me gently.
After a while I wasn't crying anymore, just sort of dripping onto her school uniform. Kitazawa pushed me away and held me at arm's length, then pulled me back into a crushing embrace.
"Then it's decided. You'll be my soeur, so I can run you ragged and you won't have time to mope about."
Muffled against her chest I said, "Like hell I will." And she laughed.
"And next year you can be Rosa Chinensis and make some poor lower classman do your dirty work."
I wiped my face with my sleeve, then thought about it and used a handkerchief.
"And you will one day thank me for this." She lifted my face to look in the direction of hers. I could make out the general features, but not much more. "You will thank me, you know."
I dont remember what I said, but I'm sure it was probably pretty rude.
Today, I am standing on my doorstep, watching my daughter head off to her first day at Lillian Academy. And I just wanted you to know, that I told my daughter to try and find a grande soeur as strong, and as wonderful, as mine was. So, here it is, a little belated, but - thank you, onee-sama, thank you.
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