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bear with me, just a little longer

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Nice garden parties aren’t really… the place for Misaki.

Not that’s she’s too bad a bear for them, or wants to eat the rich that much – it’s just not her scene.  She knows the shoes of the woman she just bumped into cost about as much two months’ rent, and that’s without looking at the diamonds around her neck. If Hina or, god forbid, Moca was here, they’d whisper something to her about going off and stealing stuff from around the house to go and sell at Ryuseidou for a fat profit, but, thankfully, they aren’t here.

…neither are most people she knows. Outside of her bandmates, naturally, because this is all laid on by the Tsurumakis, which is the only reason she’s here. Kokoro is  somewhere, Misaki isn’t sure where, probably with her parents and being told to keep quiet and not talk too much in front of their other rich old-money friends; Kanon actually knows how to do the whole ‘high society’ thing and is off talking with some equally sheltered young girls abut ponies (Misaki assumes); and Hagumi, god bless her, took the responsibility of going and playing with all the 10 year olds stuffed into suits and fancy dresses and forced to come along to what has to be the most fucking boring thing possible.

At least Hagumi’s gonna make sure they have fun, even if those tiny tailored outfits are gonna get scuffed to shit.

As for Kaoru… for better or worse, if she was hanging out with Kaoru, it’d be fun. She knows Kaoru ends up fawned over by the stay-at-home mothers just starting their midlife crisis and therefore especially vulnerable to an gorgeous androgynous young woman telling them that they’re beautiful and their husband needs to treat them better and why, they don’t look a thing over thirty, oho, come now, you’re a little drunk, is that your hand on my leg, oh, no, no, I don’t mind—

Not that she wants like, any part of that, but watching it would be fun. Or something. Instead, she’s scanning the crowd for anyone to talk to, at all. She feels uncomfortable and weird and out of place, and it makes her think that maybe she likes the inside of Michelle because it’s warm and dark and kind of isolated. Kokoro could at least have pulled some strings so she could DJ this party.

…but then, someone catches her gaze.

When Chisato looks at her across the garden with desperation in her eyes, Misaki looks away. Nothing against Chisato, but she’s not sure she wants to be involved; until she looks again, and of course, Kaoru is there, leaning across the table, about to knock over one of the three empty champagne flutes in front of the other girl.

Fine. It’s her responsibility, she guesses; her job as Hello Happy World’s retainer.

Walking through the crowd, literally rubbing shoulders with the good and great of society, she wonders if maybe she should have politely declined the invitation (a joint one extended to her and Michelle, of course) to the annual Tsurumaki Summer Night Gala. It’s not like she inherently hates the concept of going fancy parties? But there’s all these things telling her she’s an outsider, like how she has no clothes for them and even though Kokoro said her smartest jeans would look great, the jacket she’s borrowed is a little too big on her, her loafers don’t co-ordinate with any of the outfit, and overall she feels like a kid wearing her dad’s clothes. Kanon, bless her heart, had maybe suggested that she could try networking, have a go at talking to the right people and advance her DJ career – but, uh, no-one here looks like they've set foot in a club that didn't have to do with horseriding and/or wine-tasting.

(Honestly, if Chisato hadn’t managed to catch her eye, she’d be trying to subtly leave right now, and then send an apologetic message to Kokoro once she was at least five minutes clear of the building.)

Well done to Chisato, though. She really has been raised well if she’s not willing to just, like, walk away after five minutes of kitten-speak.

When she’s in shouting distance and Chisato therefore knows Misaki can no longer escape the social contracts that obliges her to enter their conversation even if she wants to, the actress hails her over, acting like their friendship runs deeper than one brunch half a year ago, and Misaki shuffles towards her with grim inevitability.

“Ah, Misaki! It’s good to see you here!”

“Yeah, uh, same.”

It’s a secluded little spot, sort of protected from prying eyes by some kind of exotic fern that of course is growing in Kokoro’s garden, and Misaki guesses Chisato settled here in order to show her face but otherwise not have to engage with people she really didn’t like – not that that was enough to stop Kaoru’s horniness from finding her, though.

“Oh, Misaki! Is Michelle here, too? I was scanning the crowd for her, but I couldn’t see any bears.”

…poor Chisato, Misaki thinks. Imagine having to suffer through this without even the benefit of finding Kaoru’s stupid ass hot.

“She, uh, couldn’t make it.” And now Chisato’s staring at her with pity, too, which is depressing. Understandable, but depressing. “She has a bear party to go to. Important occasion.”

“A bear party! How I’d love to see one of those… don’t you agree, Chisato?”

“I was underwhelmed by the one I went to,” Chisato responds out of the corner of her mouth, looking at Misaki as if it’s her turn to contribute, but – excuse her, Chisato – what. “Bear hospitality is a myth.”

Maybe she thinks she’s making fun of Kaoru – but that doesn’t work, Kaoru’s too stupid. Maybe she’s making fun of Misaki – but, in that case, Misaki’s going to turn around and leave right now, because she’s bad at these social games and she doesn’t need Chisato negging her to realise that.

“Should I get you two some drinks…?” It’s a nice way to walk away from the current situation, at least, and it’s at least a little satisfying to see Chisato stare at her with the kind of wide-eyed horror normally reserved for, well, Kaoru. Not that she has any reason to dislike her – sure, just a tiny little bit of jealousy that Kaoru’s crawling all over her, but it’s not like her or Chisato, either of them, are trying to get Kaoru’s attention.

“Nonsense, Misaki! I’m sure you and Chisato have plenty to catch up on?” Kaoru interjects, and there’s a bit of surprise in her voice, like she doesn’t believe Misaki and Chisato are friends – and hey, for once in her life, she’s right. “So let me get the refreshments. Red for you, yes?” That smile, that fucking smile she gives Misaki as she asks, it makes Misaki want to die.

“…mm.” There’s a look from the actress, one of “Oh, so she knows your favourite drinks, too.”, but Misaki refuses to give her anything more than a single moment of a blank stare in return.

“The champagne’s nice, you know,” Chisato offers. Vaguely pretending that this is a real conversation, maybe.

“Haha, it is, but Misaki gets very silly on the champers. Though I suppose we’ll see where the night takes us…” Kaoru slides off the bench and pats her still-warm seat, gesturing for Misaki to take her place – and after a few seconds of Misaki just awkwardly standing there fidgeting, she realises that Kaoru won’t get the drinks until she’s sat down.

Honestly, she doesn’t really care enough to not just socially humiliate herself and walk away, but for some insane reason, she sits down anyway, and Kaoru gives a little bow before striding off towards the distant drinks table.

“Uh…”

 Chisato’s not even looking that apologetic.

“I trust you’re enjoying the party?”

“As much as you are.”

They share a grim chuckle – maybe closer to Chisato breaking into a stage giggle, and Misaki giving a harsh exhale, but close enough.

“At least the Tsurumakis know how to pick a vintage,” Chisato starts, and Misaki feels the fear of god take over her that she’s going to ask about the Kaoru champagne thing, but it doesn’t come. Thank fuck.

“Oh, yeah?”

“Mhm.”

And then the conversation promptly dies, Chisato returning to sipping her champagne in preparation for the next glass to come, and Misaki fidgeting with her hands in her lap. The loose jacket suddenly feels so tight it could suffocate her, and she needs to pull her underwear out of her ass, and all in all it’s pretty obvious why her and Chisato don’t really keep in touch much. Nothing against her – and it’s not like Chisato’s making an effort of her own here – but the two of them aren’t in sync much.

“Misaki, when Kaoru comes back, kiss me.”

--it’s a good thing Kaoru’s not brought their drinks yet, because if she had, Misaki would have spat champagne all over Chisato’s lovely dress.

“…what?”

“Kiss me, right on the lips. I don’t mind if you slip me some tongue, either—"

“No, uh, I don’t think I want to do the first part of that, though?”

It’s not like she’s blushing red with shame, or anything – it’s mostly just sheer confusion. Why the hell is this, of all things, the solution to getting Kaoru off her back? Misaki even knows it’s the kind of thing that might shut Kaoru up for two weeks, maybe three, and then she’ll be right back to sending Chisato ten unread messages a day.

“You’re not gay?”

“…I don’t kiss girls out of nowhere,” is the reply Misaki gives her. “If that’s what you’re looking for, Kaoru’s gonna be back in a minute.”

“Does it seem like I want to kiss her?”

“No.”

Some people don’t know how lucky they are, or something.

“Besides,” Misaki mutters, considering taking a drink from Kaoru’s own half-finished glass of rosé – but okay, that’s something she might actually have too much dignity for. “Are you sure this is… the right kinda place for that?”

It’s the middle of the evening, and they’re in an isolated little corner of the garden at this point – the nearest group of geriatric 60-somethings are both way too caught up in their own conversation about how that Shinzo Abe – oh, he’s doing great things for the country – and also way too blind to see them, but that’s not the point. If anyone looks in their direction and sees what looks like Shirasagi Chisato making out with some girl who frankly just should not be at this party, oh heavens no, then…

“Does it matter to you? I mean, I don’t mind a scandal.”

“Wow. Latest Palettes album not selling too great, then.”

Chisato scowls, and Misaki’s worried that maybe she’s actually right. Damn.

“…all publicity is good publicity. And knowing these people…” She jerks her head in the direction of the party, her hair flowing a little as she does in a way that’s probably a huge turn-on for their mutual friend, femmefucker69. “They’d see me kissing you and find it so unconscionable that I’d be doing that they’d presume it was just the alcohol making them see things.”

…does that mean Chisato kissing another girl, or Chisato kissing her.

Y’know what? She doesn’t need to know the answer.

“That sucks, huh.” In either direction, because, honestly, if Chisato doesn’t mean her, Misaki can’t imagine living like that. Must be hard, being rich and having perfect skin and getting incredibly drunk.

“It sucks ‘the fat one’.”

“…sure does.”  Misaki looks back at the party, and sees a tall, elegant figure moving through the crowd back towards them – and so does Chisato, apparently, because her dainty hands are suddenly on the lapels of Misaki’s jacket, yanking her back towards her so they’re facing each other.

There’s a moment of brief hesitation, as if Chisato’s not quite drunk or shitty enough to force Misaki into making out with her if she really doesn’t want to, but Misaki’s too tired and confused and kind of pissed off at everyone involved to refuse the kiss; and she presses forwards with none of the elegance or girlish charm Misaki expects.

Their teeth hit against each other. Chisato winces and Misaki keeps her eyes wide open.

She feels those soft, painted lips trying to position against hers so it looks like a real kiss and not just a very vindictive woman dragging someone who doesn’t want to be here into a harsh rejection of some dumbass who keeps hitting on her while she’s trying to stock up on free champagne.

It’s fake, so fake, but she presses harder against Chisato anyway. She can hear Kaoru’s footsteps behind them – god, she sounds like she’s wearing tap shoes, the way she confidently strides over the patio towards them – and her heart beats in the rhythm to them. This should be enough, she thinks, Kaoru must be able to see them, but when she’s so close that Misaki swears she can hear the prince’s halting breath…

That’s when Chisato lifts her hands, burying them in Misaki’s hair, flicking at the ends of the uneven cut that she knows Chisato thinks is hideous. And, because her eyes are open, she can see Chisato’s sliding to the side, giving a look to Kaoru. The look of I’m slipping Misaki the tongue, because, well, yeah, she’s sticking it right into Misaki’s mouth.

And as Kaoru surveys the both of them, gently placing the glasses on the table, Misaki wants to pull away.

Except Chisato’s hands go from just touching her hair to balling up in them, and she looks at Misaki hard, almost needy, entirely dangerous. She’s the kind of woman who gets what she wants, that’s obvious, and as much as she hates it, Misaki finally moves her arms to rest around the small of Chisato’s back, eyes shutting, and enjoying the kiss for what it is.

It’s alright, maybe.

What does Kaoru think of this? She’s got to be used to this, by now. Used to Chisato using every method in the book to beat her down, because god does Kaoru deserve it, but—

Misaki’d do it so much nicer than Chisato ever would. She’d be so much kinder, she’d even appreciate Kaoru, for all her infinite stupid fucking faults; and that comes out in her kissing Chisato back harder, pushing her against the seat some, and that’s the exact moment Chisato lets go.

No-one says anything for a second, because who’s going to break this fucking silence.

“I see I’m intruding on something!”

Oh. Yeah. Kaoru. Duh.

“Mhm. You are.” There’s literally zero attempt at politeness in Chisato’s words or tone. It makes Misaki wonder if it’s more hurtful for Kaoru if she thinks Chisato’s willing to kiss anyone who isn’t her, or Misaki’s being doing this, behind her back, with Chisato for a while.

“Well, then! Don’t mind me. I’ll let you get on with it.”

And with a warm smile, she puts down their drinks, and wanders away. Her steps are as loud and clacky as ever, not a hint of any of this getting to her, and finally Misaki can relax. If that’s the right word.

It’s not, really.

She reaches over and grabs the glass of red, a little of it spilling it onto the table. (Maybe she should get some on Chisato’s dress, after all that.)

“You’re not a very good kisser.”

Fuck off.

“…I wasn’t really, uh… trying too hard.” Which is true, she wasn’t. In fact, by all accounts, she’s a pretty okay kisser, but whatever you say, Chisato, whatever makes you feel like the alpha woman in this conversation.

She gulps down as much of the wine as she can, to wash out the taste of Chisato’s spit from her mouth. It’s not like it tastes bad, or gross, or it’s making her sick – Chisato’s got excellent dental hygiene, a perfect smile and breath that smells of blueberries – but she wants to just… forget that happened.

Forget she made out with Chisato, while Chisato took total control, pressed down and taunted her just as much as she did Kaoru, and then… just stopped, broke the kiss like it was  nothing.

Which is what it was, but--

Kaoru didn’t take her own glass with her, so Misaki ends up pouring that down her throat too.

“That’s understandable.” That’s all Chisato offers her, as… apology?

“You seemed like you were going for it, though.”

“I’m an actress, darling,” she giggles out like the whole concept is funny to her, resting her own head on the back of the garden seat. She doesn’t say anything else, after that.

…that’s not so bad, though. It’s quiet, over here, and there’s something relaxing about it. The low burn of dusk, the festoon lights hanging off the hedges with their warm glow, the ample supply of booze, and boring chatter in the distance away from where either of them have to pretend to be interested.

She’s sad she didn’t bring any cigarettes; Kokoro gets sad whenever she sees Misaki holding a lighter, and Misaki didn’t want to ruin her evening. Right now, she’d even be willing to offer Chisato one, for them to watch the party together and mutually think in silence  about how much they don’t wanna be there.

(At one point, Hagumi goes running past them, chased by four small out-of-breath children, and Misaki holds her breath because, god, Hagumi, please don’t notice them, not right now.

Thankfully, all Hagumi does is give her a wave before running off.)

Then again, Chisato doesn’t seem that interested in the party. She just stares up at the faint stars in the sky, and when she realises that Misaki’s studying her, she just turns to her side with a little smile.

It’s only once Misaki’s finished with both her and Kaoru’s glasses does she get to her feet.

“I think I’m gonna go.”

“Mm. I should make an appearance soon, too. I’m sure my mother wants to introduce me to another fifty-year-old television executive in a suit two sizes too small for him,” Chisato mumbles, ending on a single, grim chuckle.

Good luck, Misaki wishes her. Not out loud, though. She’s not started liking Chisato’s company that much.


She sifts through the crowd, only seemingly having gotten bigger since she sat down, trying to find wherever Kaoru is – and where that is, of course, is not too far from the drinks table, a woman at least twice her age totally transfixed by Kaoru, hand on her chin and looking her up and down while she spouts out some well-worn compliments. This, of course, is annoying the woman on the other side of Kaoru, downing her own wine  with considerable energy before talking over their conversation; and across from them is another, slightly younger one, who just seems to be getting giggly over seeing Kaoru flirting with the others in general, saying things to spur on whoever Kaoru’s currently talking to.

…but when she sees Misaki approaching them, she all but ignores her adoring audience, giving Misaki Kaoru Smile #41 – the one that’s faintly smirk-like, but too broad for a smirk, but just reserved enough as if to say I understand if you don’t want me to smile-smile at you, right now.

“Ah, ladies, this is my very good friend, Misaki,” she says, which seems to earn her the ire of both of the women focused on Kaoru, and a cheer of support from the drunken onlooker.

What’s a messy, lumpy, greasy girl like her doing around Kaoru, huh.

“Hey.”

“Who’s she?” mutters the first woman, and Misaki feels herself being judged. It’s tough, because she’s in that tough middle zone between being drunk enough to not care, and so drunk she’s a little bit emotional.

“Ah, like I said! Misaki here, she’s a wonderful little kitten. A DJ, you know!  Now, I’m not sure if any of you have connections with the electronic dance music scene, but…” God bless Kaoru, doing her hustling and networking for her, but… she’s done here, now, for real. She nods over at her, with a faint little smile (it’s hard, not being able to hide her gaze under the visor of her snapback), and turns away, moving away to what might be the exit. There’s too many fucking doors to know.

And by the time she’s a few meters away from the table, grabbing one more glass of champagne as she goes, she hears those footsteps behind her, and Kaoru’s already chasing after her.

Seriously.

“Misaki?” She sounds genuinely confused, a couple steps behind as Misaki keeps walking, until she closes the gap enough to grab right at Misaki’s bicep through the suit.

“Oh, hey, uh. Sorry, I just think I’m ready to go, now.”

“You should have said earlier. I could tell you weren’t enjoying yourself.” Like this, she almost seems perceptive, which sounds insane, except, with time, Misaki’s started to wonder if Kaoru’s less of a bimbo than she lets on.

Neither of them mention the Chisato thing, because, well, it’s not like either of them want to acknowledge it, and Misaki has that horrible habit of not really explaining anything if she doesn’t have to.

“Haha, well. Yeah, but you were, right?” She wants to ask if anything ever, like, happens with those women that flock around Kaoru. Not to shame her, or anything, god, zero blame on Kaoru for wanting to make out with a mommy, just… curious.

“You need an escort home, don’t you?” Kaoru’s grip becomes insistent, almost, tugging at Misaki when she tries to move, and Misaki…

“…if you wanna come with me, then, sure.”

Misaki gives up, because unlike someone, when Kaoru gets needy, it gets to her. 


…something that’s cute about Kaoru, in a kind of ‘selfish dumbass’ way that kind of fits with how she always is but also doesn’t, is how easily satisfied she can be. Like right now, when they’re in that afterglow, and Kaoru’s arm is sort of draped across her and she’s half asleep, and it’s only like half past nine.

There’s something so calm about this, probably helped by all the booze she’s downed. All wrapped up and softly smothered in the late summer heat in that right pocket of not needing the aircon, but not needing the bedsheets over them either.

And it’s in that calm that her phone suddenly buzzes, and Misaki grabs at it off the bedside table in a way that reminds her that she’s actually a person with motor skills and not a post-sex melting blob.

Misaki?

Misaki peers the bright screen through bleary eyes, awkwardly fiddling with it to make it darker so Kaoru doesn’t wake up and catch sight of it.

Are you around?

…she totally forgot she had Chisato on LINE; and the last messages on there are from six months ago, when they had that one brief and mildly awkward brunch where they mostly talked about vocal mixing and Chisato asking if Misaki ever planned to focus on her solo music career rather than ‘waste her time on the Hello World thing’.

That kinda got to Misaki, but then again, so does everything about Chisato, aside from when they’re quietly drinking together.

hey. whats up?

Is Chisato still stuck at the party? God, it’s early enough that she might be. If she kept drinking at the rate she was when Misaki left her, she might have liver failure by now.

Do you like Vetements?

That’s, uh, not the question she was expecting. Sure confirms the drunk thing, at least.

sure?

She’ll defend FUNNY as her streetwear brand of choice until she dies, but. Sure.

why?

Behind her, Misaki feels Kaoru’s chest press against her back, and that sharp chin nuzzle into the back of her neck. Kaoru’s still awake, it seems like, but her eyes aren’t open or she’s just too placated to mind Misaki texting post-coitus. (After all, Kaoru’s guilty of that too, sometimes.)

It seemed like your sort of fit. If you’d like, I can take you around some of my favourite boutiques.

I’m well connected.

Yeah. Of course you are. No need to show off.

oh uh

that could be cool?

i dunno though, anything above like, 20k is out of my budget lol

She tries to handle it as humbly as possible, just in case she’s wrong about what Chisato’s implying here, but – is this an apology for the whole kiss thing? Trying to pay her off? A present for helping her deal with Kaoru?

…Misaki’s not sure how much Chisato knows about how her and Kaoru are, or aren’t, or whatever their half-and-half, compromise-driven, insecure mess of their benefit-driven friendship is.  She doesn’t think that’d change anything about what Chisato did tonight, so.

Like I said, I have connections. I’m sure we can find something that’d work for you.

What works for her is a needy Kaoru who’ll sit on her face, but maybe she’s just too buzzed from the booze and everything else that’s happened tonight. Hey, it’s not too late, maybe if she can get Kaoru properly woken up again…

thats really cool of you, ill think about it!

The exclamation mark seems a little too strong? A little too positive. Like, it’s a really nice offer, duh, but she’s not about to let Chisato be her paypig. Kaoru already insists on buying her sneakers that are too nice for her to ever actually want to wear outside.

Well.

If there’s anything you want, just tell me?

“Misaki?” Kaoru mumbles, and Misaki gasps in response, angling the phone a little towards the bed to make it harder for Kaoru to see.

“Yeah?”

“Mm…” Her voice drifts off into a low, happy mumble, forehead resting against the back of Misaki’s head.

 ‘For you to leave Kaoru alone,’ is what she wants to write.

when are you next free for lunch?, is what she does write.