"That outfit," Miyako said flatly, directing a peevish look through the crowd at her rival, "is a totally unfair advantage. It's like... it's like cheating. It's a festival dance - you should have to wear a yukata to a festival dance. It's like a rule."
"Not exactly," Hikari pointed out, slow and cautious. She had to admit, Mimi's choice of clothing did add something. Every other female in the place was wearing a yukata - the light American-style skirt and well-fitted pink blouse made her stand out. Add in perfect flowy hair topped with what looked like a carelessly thrown in flower (probably meticulously placed) and Mimi's expertise on just how much make-up to put on, and she looked radiant.
Not to mention the fact that Mimi was already quite pretty. A fact that Koushiro had noticed more than once and was noticing again many times over since he had barely taken his eyes from her since the evening began.
"It's still cheating!" Miyako insisted, and huffed a bit, crossing her arms. "So totally not fair. She just got him like a bonus prize - there's no way she likes him as much as I like him."
Hikari wasn't so sure about that. She watched as Mimi laughed suddenly, tossing her hair prettily, and then brushed Koushiro's hand with soft fingers - an almost lingering touch. Probably not a good idea to point that out to Miyako.
It hadn't actually been that long since the dance started. It had only just gotten dark about half an hour before, but it was a clear night and the stars were out. The room they were in had a clear ceiling and the night sky made a beautiful landscape, despite the fact that a little of its brilliance was overshadowed by the lanterns that lit the place. Takeru and Ken stood together near a wall, where they'd been since Miyako had pulled Hikari away to hold conference over Koushiro and Mimi's evening. They didn't seem to be entirely certain what to do.
Not much of a 'date' situation. Which was kind of a shame. Hikari felt a faint twinge of guilt and - was that disappointment? Disappointment over what? She pushed that thought aside. "I wonder where Daisuke and Iori are."
"They're probably late." Miyako snorted, still not taking her eyes from where Koushiro and Mimi were talking earnestly. "You know Daisuke. He's never on time for anything." She paused, and then glanced almost resentfully at her friend. "Unless you ask him to be."
"Daisuke hasn't paid much attention to me lately," Hikari protested, a little confused by the way the conversation had shifted. "I don't think he's interested any more, honestly. Maybe he's found someone else."
"I'll bet." Miyako's face darkened a bit, and then she blinked and seemed to remember what she was doing. "Well, never mind Daisuke. How long do you think it's going to take before the music starts? If I can get Takeru to dance with me, we can get close to Koushiro. Then it'll be just a matter of the casual partner switch. Mimi won't mind, and I'll get Koushiro to myself." She seemed pleased with that thought.
Hikari mentally shook her head. Somehow I don't think it'll turn out like that.
Then again, this dance wasn't going precisely as she'd thought it might, anyway.
"Tonight's going to be fantastic," Miyako declared, carefully replacing her mascara wand in the holder. She blinked a few times and studied herself in the mirror, smiling at the result.
Hikari had opted for lip gloss only; she stood at the door to the bathroom in her yukata and sandles watching her friend with a mixture of amusement and trepidation. "Depending on who you talk to," she pointed out.
It was likely to be deadly for some people - she just had that sinking feeling. I hope no one's feelings get hurt. This crush business is painful stuff.
And there seemed to be just a little too much of it going around right then.
"Oh, don't be a spoilsport; everything will work out fine." Miyako waved a negligant hand, reaching for the eye shadow in the little bag of "accessories" she'd brought to Hikari's just half an hour before their dates were to pick them up. Which was going to be fairly soon, assuming they were on time. "You'll see."
"I hope so." Hikari sighed, leaning against the doorframe. She still had the conversation with Iori from the day before in her mind, and it made her feel just a bit guilty. Of course, it had been Miyako's idea that Takeru and Ken come along as their dates, but still... She could've argued. It probably would've been all right if they'd all decided to go as a group.
Somehow, that thought seemed like a bit of a disappointing one.
"Aren't you two done prettying yourselves up yet?" Taichi hovered over Hikari's shoulder, a magazine in one hand. He was visiting for the summer, taking a break from paying rent at the dorms where he went to school - or, more accurately, played soccer. "I need to go."
"Are you kidding? I still need at least five more minutes!" Miyako finished applying the shadow and turned her face to give him a skeptical look. "I'm sure you can afford to wait until we leave - we're going to be gone all evening, after all."
"Fine, whatever." Taichi rolled his eyes upward. "I'll just be standing here hoping my bladder holds out. Don't mind me if I start dancing in place or anything."
Hikari quickly headed that one off before Miyako could answer; the best way to get her brother off the subject of something was to give him something else to think about. "How come you're not going to the dance tonight?"
"I would, but I'm not allowed. Isn't that dumb?" He shook his head. "My girlfriend's doing a family favor so I'm banned from the dance." That was followed by a grin. "I'd be pissed that she's going with someone else, but it's a friend so no biggie. I trust them."
"That sounds like a weird situation," Miyako commented wryly. "Who is your girlfriend, anyway?"
"He's been keeping it secret ever since they started dating." Hikari shot her brother a bit of an exasperrated look. "Mom's starting to wonder if he's secretly dating a guy. I think she's been buying those books on how to handle it if your child turns out to be gay."
"Oh man, really?" Taichi actually laughed out loud. "That's awesome! Poor Mom. She's totally off on the wrong track there."
"Oh?" Miyako finished with her other eye, and smiled sweetly at Taichi. "So who is it? Anyone we know?"
Taichi grinned, looking thoroughly pleased with himself. "If I tell you now, it'll spoil the surprise."
Miyako's eyes narrowed as if she was going to follow up on that, but the doorbell suddenly rang before she could. "They're here already?" Her eyes went wide. "I am totally not ready!" She immediately began fumbling through the bag, hastily.
"I'm sure they won't mind waiting," Hikari assured her.
"O-kay, don't everyone rush to get the door at once," Taichi called over his shoulder as he wandered across the living room. "I'll get it, so no need to trip and fall in your rush to get here."
Hikari rolled her eyes upward. "Brothers."
"Tell me about it..." Miyako pulled out a face brush. "Want to distract them for a bit while I finish up here?"
"Yeah, they're still 'getting pretty' - oh, look, there's one." Taichi waved a hand in Hikari's direction as she made her way toward the door. "Did we rush you guys or something?"
She shook her head at him. "Don't you ever get tired of that?"
"The old ones are the best. So where's your partner in crime?"
"Still getting ready." Hikari turned to regard their 'dates'. Takeru looked like he was about to embark on some kind of life-or-death mission. Ken, however, offered her a small smile. It was a mildly dazzling sight, especially coupled with pale, flawless skin and devastating blue eyes. Hikari felt something in her stomach stir, and experienced a moment of dizzying confusion.
"Why don't you guys come in and sit down for a bit?" Taichi suggested, with a knowing sort of look on his face. "I'd say Miss Has-to-look-perfect is likely to take a while."
"I heard that!" Miyako's voice accused from the bathroom.
That, at least, caused chuckles all around. Hikari stepped back and allowed the two boys access to the room, putting that disquieting feeling and its cause out of her mind.
Time enough to figure that out later.
"There's Jyou and Jun." Hikari made the discovery about a moment before the couple in question spotted them, and raised a hand to wave.
"Oh! Hi girls!" Exuberant as ever, Jun waved to her date to stay behind and ran up to the two of them, a bright smile on her face. "How are you doing? It's been a while!"
"Um... fine, thanks." Jun tended to catch her off-guard. Hikari smiled, and her eyes briefly wandered to Jyou, who looked fairly calm and not at all panicked about being forced to take Daisuke's sister to the dance. Which didn't fit with Miyako's account very much at all. "How are you?"
"Pretty good! University's so different from high school." Jun shrugged and laughed a bit, as if it were somehow funny. She seemed at least as full of energy as Daisuke. I guess it runs in the family. "It's nice to be back for a little while, though - if only for stuff like this."
"Oh, right." Miyako seemed to take interest in the conversation then, and grinned at the older girl. "How's your date going so far?"
Jun wrinkled her nose a bit, although without much feeling. "It's nice, I suppose. Seems so strange to be here with Jyou. I mean, sure I don't mind doing Daisuke the favor but it would've been better to be here with my actual boyfriend... you know?"
Miyako and Hikari exchanged glances. Boyfriend...?
"You have a boyfriend?" Miyako was the first to voice her astonishment. "Since... when?"
"Duh, like all year! You probably know all about it, though, right Hikari?" Jun smiled at the girl.
Hikari felt lost. "I do?"
"Oh, did Taichi not tell you yet?" Jun sighed, loud and dramatic. "Him and his secrets! What a pain! We've been dating since like the first month of school - I can't believe he hasn't said anything yet!"
The bottom dropped from Hikari's world - she felt adrift in a very confusing universe all of a sudden. Taichi's dating Jun? Jun? When did this happen?
"But then - ?" Miyako bit her lip, looking about as shell-shocked as Hikari felt. "Daisuke - ?"
"Daisuke's running a bit late - he'll be here soon, I'm sure!" Jun winked at them. "But I guess I should be getting back to my date - see you, girls!" With a casual flick of her fingers, she was spinning around and heading back to Jyou.
Miyako and Hikari exchanged another glance.
Then Daisuke did set this up. Hikari felt, if anything, more confused that before. But why? He wouldn't just do something like that for no reason, would he?
There was obviously something more going on here than it had seemed - but how was she going to find out what it was?