There's winning a lottery, there's getting a signed limited edition of your favourite light novel, there's watching a blood moon.
And then there's Yukino Yukinoshita bowing to you. That would mean you have used up your good luck for the rest of the year.
And yet, after entering our cozy little clubroom, me and Yuigahama were beholding exactly this: Yukinoshita stood up and bowed to us.
Her hands were perfectly clasped together, though fingers were trembling. Serious expression, weary look in her eyes with a barely noticeable hint of panic. Something was wrong.
"Hikigaya-kun, Yuigahama-san… I have a personal request to make."
"Yukinon?" Yuigahama immediately became worried. "Did something bad happen?"
Yukinoshita rose up from the bowing position and started silently fiddling with the sleeves of her blazer.
"We're in no hurry," I decided to add. "Gather your thoughts."
She glanced at me, startled.
"Eh? Sure… Thank you." Yukinoshita paused. "Would you like to have tea, perhaps?"
I raised the brow.
"Why ask? You brew it everyda-"
"Of course, Yukinon! Gladly!" Yuigahama interrupted.
Yukinoshita faintly smiled, nodded to her and headed to the tea set.
Yuigahama took the correct decision not to bug our president with uncomfortable questions and let her do the soothing routine to calm down. Having given it some thought I admitted she was right: I am reasonably blunt as any loner should be; sometimes I'm a bull in a china shop though. A fine nose poke that was, Yuigahama.
I took my usual seat, listening to Yuigahama energetically tell Yukinoshita about the new accessories store she found near Tsudanuma. The latter listened to her, nodding from time to time while preparing the tea for us. I considered reading for the time being but decided against it: I wouldn't be able concentrate at this rate. Instead I watched the two of them move around and talk and waited patiently.
Finally we got each their own cup of tea and the girls sat down. I decided it was time to ask for further info.
"So… What's the deal?"
Yukinoshita raised her eyes from her cup and looked at us. Her eyes then wandered around the room while her thin fingers lightly traced the cup's rim.
Several long seconds later she sighed and composed herself while looking at us again.
"As I said, I have a personal request to you… both of you. I do admit said request might sound unusual, probably even weird. As such I do not demand from you to comply at all... at all costs, so to speak, but it would help me greatly if you do."
As you probably know, each language has several degrees of formality for different situations. We Japanese usually distinct the Politely Formal speech style for higher-ups, respected family members and such and Neutrally Formal one for those not close enough to speak informally.
Yukino Yukinoshita had revolutionized the Japanese language by successfully and single-handedly inventing a new one: the Painfully Formal, used to indicate a particularly stressed state of mind.
Emphasis on 'painfully'.
Yukinoshita meanwhile bit her lip, then continued.
"It's a well-known fact that my family is quite wealthy, and this fact brings a whole host of consequences. One of them is having to attend many formal events where presence of one or both children is mandatory."
Yukinoshita paused to take a sip from her cup. While still worried, she looked calmed down somewhat. That was a good sign.
"You may probably deduce already that I don't handle those events very well, so I had always tried to avoid attending. This should have been no exception, but Sister said she would arrive late. Mother insists I should come as a… substitute, but she kindly allowed me to bring two personal acquaintances along if I so desire."
She closed her eyes and gulped.
"So this is my request. No, that was wrong choice of words. I... I hereby humbly ask of you to accompany me to the formal event."
Her eyes were still closed.
Yuigahama blinked several times.
"So you want us to come to a party with you?.. That's it?"
Yukinoshita shot her eyes open in surprise, then frowned.
"Not a party per se, Yuigahama-san. A formal social event."
"Oh, whatever! Of course I'll come!"
Yukinoshita tilted her head in surprise, then nodded and made a small smile. I saw her tensed shoulders relax.
"Me too." I said meekly scratching my head. "Don't have plans anyways, you know."
"Are there times when you actually do have them at all, Hikigaya-kun?" Yukinoshita smiled, this time in her usual teasing fashion. She was back to normal. Good.
"There are. Like, I don't know, quality time with Komachi? And even if I don't, you can be oh so lucky for getting my help at any time. Just like now."
"Are you openly admitting that your laziness can be overridden only by your siscon tendencies?" She cutely tilted her head again.
… Right. Back to normal. Good. Right.
"Oh come on, Yukinon, you don't look gift horse in the mouth and stuff." Yuigahama sheepishly grinned. "I mean, it's Hikki we're talking about... "
"Umm, Yuigahama? Gift horse right here and not amused? Like, stop learning bad things from Yukinoshita? Please? Pretty please?"
Yuigahama just showed me the tip of her small pink tongue.
I in turn mustered the most expressive look of disapproval I could and sent it in their general direction.
"Jokes aside, I am very glad and grateful to you for accepting my request."
I fetched my book, flipped it open and rested my head on the free palm.
"No prob… As usual, you know."
"Indeed so," Yukinoshita softly replied. "That was exactly why I asked. And that is exactly why I'm grateful."
I quietly nodded.
On topic of formal styles… I wonder if Yukinoshita can sound informal, if it was possible at all. Though one really can't help but wonder what happens if she says "yo, 'sup?" as a greeting one day.
… Will the world end?
"So Yukinon, when's the par- I mean event?"
"Next Friday evening. Why?"
"I mean, we probably have to dress up, be formal and stuff?"
"You are correct about that," Yukinoshita confirmed while putting the finger on her chin. "Let's see… You can borrow one of my dresses like last time."
"Thankies! And by the way..." Yuigahama looked at me.
"You gotta dress up too, you know."
"So? I dressed up just fine when we went to that fancy cafe."
"You looked like a yakuza," Yukinoshita noted. "Especially with those eyes of yours."
"Yeah, yeah! Spot-on! I couldn't put my finger on it back then."
"That means I can easily pass for a yakuza, huh… may as well become one."
"Even that would have been better than a house husband." Yukinoshita said massaging her temples.
"Don't underestimate me." I rebutted smugly. "I'd still be a house-husband yakuza."
Like cooking for my whole gang and… wait. Wrong anime.
"Hikki, you're hopeless." Yuigahama said, her voice full of resignation.
"Back to the topic." Yukinoshita interjected." Yuigahama-san is right. We will have to pick you a formal set of clothes."
"That's all fine and dandy but I'll have to find the money for that."
Yukinoshita shook her head smiling.
"I'll cover the expenses. It is for my request, after all."
"Erm, you don't have to. I'll find some money too..."
She raised her palm.
"Don't feel guilty. As I said, it is for my request." Yukinoshita paused and nodded to herself. "It's settled then. I suggest tomorrow 4 in the evening at the Chiba station."
A/N: I've encountered the largest writer's block I've ever seen. I won.