Going right off the previous chapter!
Disclaimer: I do not own Love Live Sunshine.
Chapter 2. Ocean Waves
When Riko wakes the next morning, she has absolutely no idea what to do with herself.
At first she thinks she's in her own room in her own house and she doesn't open her eyes right away. She simply basks in the warmth enveloping her and sighs happily into the pillow.
It's a moment later when she's able to recognize the pair of arms draped loosely around her shoulders when she remembers.
Gasping, her eyes fly open to find herself nuzzled into Chika's shirt, breathing in her scent that's like ocean air and freedom itself. Riko freezes as she feels her heart begin to speed up far too quickly for this early in the morning. Her own hands are still lazily clinging to Chika's clothes, and judging by the numbness in her right side she hasn't let go of her all night long.
She swallows, wondering what she should do. Peeking up at Chika's bedside table, she finds it's only 6AM and the sun is barely up yet. Maybe she should slip away and write her a thank-you note for now, then thank her again later in person. After all, she needs to get back to her own house to make sure everything is in order for when her mother comes back later today. Plus she'd like to shower and change clothes and eat at her leisure, and without imposing on the Takamis anymore than she already has.
With her mind made up, Riko carefully tries to pry herself away from her still-sleeping classmate.
But every minuscule movement seems to be too much, and she's worried she's going to end up waking her. Chika keeps making tired little noises and pulling Riko closer. Riko can feel the heat in her face again while her heart kicks into overdrive.
Chika-chan, you're killing me!
She tries again to slip free, but Chika doesn't let her go. In fact, she mumbles something that stops Riko immediately.
Her own name. Riko can't tell if she's conscious or not, and if she isn't then why is she saying her name?
She can't take it, so she simply ducks her face back into Chika's shirt and closes her eyes again. And she finds there's the perfect amount of space for her to tuck her head in beneath Chika's chin. So she rests her cheek against the front of her shoulder and lets the tension drain away in another sigh.
Maybe she'll have to stay here a while longer. And at this point, she's willing to accept that fate with open arms.
This time when she opens her eyes, she finds a different scene. Chika has propped herself up on one elbow and is looking down at her with an amused cat-like smile, one hand pawing gently at Riko's hair.
The room is significantly brighter now, and Riko realizes she must have fallen back asleep. A pang of dread shoots through her as she jolts up into a sitting position with a gasp.
"Whoa, easy!" Chika giggles and reaches out to hold her friend's shoulders. "It's okay Riko-chan. I brought you over and you slept here last night, remember? Don't worry, we still have an hour before we have to leave for school."
With Chika talking and smiling so casually and cutely, Riko manages to slow her own panic.
"I... I see..."
"It's okay, Riko-chan. I figured you might wanna go back home first so I was sure to wake you."
"No problem! If you'd like you can even stay for breakfast!"
"R-Really? I think I've imposed too much already..."
"No way! You're totally welcome to stay!" Chika slips past her off the bed and stands up to stretch herself out, then offers Riko her hand. Riko shyly accepts as Chika pulls her to her feet in one swift motion, faster than she'd been expecting. Riko wobbles but Chika dives in quickly to steady her.
"Whoop, got'cha! You okay?"
"Yes..." Her eyes travel guiltily over the untouched futon on the floor from last night. "Let me clean this up."
Together the fold up the futon and make Chika's bed. Chika offers to bring the futon back to the room where they keep it in order to explain everything properly to her mother and sisters. And it sounds like no one is upset about Riko's staying over last night, but rather sympathetic to her situation and excited to have her for breakfast this morning.
So Riko gratefully accepts their offer and joins them while still in her pajamas, sitting next to Chika who helps explain everything.
After eating and thanking the Takamis at least twenty more times for their hospitality, Riko gathers her pillow and cosmetics bag from the night before, steps back into her slippers and heads for the door with Chika bounding after.
"You have a key to get back in, right?"
"And you'll be okay?" Chika asks with a hint of genuine concern in her eyes. Riko smiles.
"Yes. I'm not worried about wild dogs or intruders anymore."
Chika lingers a moment longer and Riko does too. Riko really wants another hug, but she's far too embarrassed to ask for it, especially from Chika. So she just turns away and lets her hair hide her expression.
"Thank you again, Chika-chan. I don't know what I would've done without you..."
"It's okay!" Chika scurries around to her front again and beams up at her, taking both of Riko's hands in hers. "If you ever need anything, don't hesitate to come to me, Riko-chan! I'll always be here for you!"
The words strike Riko through the heart, which has started to flutter again at the contact of their hands and the sparkle in Chika's eyes. She doesn't know what else to do other than repeat herself.
With a chuckle Chika wraps both arms around her and gives the exact thing Riko had been too nervous to ask for. She hugs her for a long moment, squeezing her tightly and with a gentle exuberance only Chika could ever possess. Riko makes sure to hug her back as much as she can to reciprocate.
A breeze flows in from the ocean and wreathes through their hair. When they finally let go they're both smiling.
"Riko-chan, when you're ready, come meet me and we can walk to school together!"
And with this Riko takes her leave and hurries back home, knowing she'll be with Chika again in just a few moments.
After the night she'd had, Riko feared she wouldn't be able to focus during school that day.
But the restfulness she'd enjoyed with Chika must have outweighed the restlessness she'd suffered alone, because she finds herself with even more energy than usual. Even when the group gets together for practice she still has plenty of energy throughout their workouts and practice sessions.
Chika brings the song she's been working on - the one she'd hummed to Riko last night. Hearing that same tune again now makes Riko freeze up for a second, since it had sort of been their little secret last night.
Chika catches her eye and winks, and Riko looks away, attributing her speeding pulse to the previous dance routine and nothing more. She thinks she might be imagining things, but she feels that throughout the day and the practice session she and Chika have shared a few more glances and giggles than usual.
And by the time the day is over and they've said goodbye to You, they find themselves walking back home together as always. Riko isn't sure why but she feels compelled to say something now that they're alone again.
"I really like your new song, Chika-chan."
"You do? Thanks! It seemed to help you relax last night."
Riko feels her face heating up again, and it must be visibly noticeable too, because Chika quickly continues.
"Ahh sorry! Did I embarrass you?"
"Sorry! Forgive me!"
A dog barks somewhere nearby and Riko jolts. Chika smiles and reaches out to hold her hand again.
"Come on. Your mom's home now, right?"
Chika pulls her along and Riko tries to keep pace, struggling to allow her fingers to squeeze hers back.
When they reach Riko's house Chika lets her go, but not without another hug, one Riko didn't realize she needed so much until now. She thinks she's starting to get greedy in wanting more and more, but that doesn't stop her from hugging back.
Chika skips off to her own house while Riko knocks on her door and is relieved to find it open. Her mother's voice welcomes her home, the lights are on, and there's a delicious smell in the air as she goes inside. She tells her mother in vague detail about what happened last night and earns a hug from her as well.
After supper and homework, Riko showers and changes into her pajamas again, the same ones she'd worn last night. With a towel around her shoulders she walks back into her room and sighs as she takes a seat on her bed.
It feels so odd now. Some part of her almost wants to go back to Chika's room...
She shakes her head, feeling as her heart begins to flutter again.
"What am I thinking? Stupid Riko..."
She buries her face in her hands for a long moment, feeling the dampness of her hair seeping in past the towel and down through her back.
When she sits up again she finds her eyes traveling to the divider and Chika's room beyond. To her surprise, there are no lights on. It's only 7 o'clock though.
Puzzled, Riko stands and makes her way to her balcony. The evening air is chilly and she hugs herself.
But there's no response, not even the sounds of music playing. She's almost about to be worried for a second until her rational thoughts kick in.
If Chika isn't at home writing her music when she's just beginning to create a new song, there's only one other place she'll be.
The rumors about wild dogs briefly cross Riko's mind again, and she gulps. But it isn't fear for herself this time.
She rushes back inside and puts on her slippers, then grabs a blanket from her bed. She calls out to her mother than she'd forgotten to give Chika something and is going to return it.
But once she gets outside into the cool evening she doesn't head for Chika's house. Instead she goes straight to the beach, and it isn't long before she spots the familiar figure sitting out there in the sand.
There's a small bag next to her, likely filled with notebooks and her iPod to help as she's writing her lyrics. She always did enjoy the sights and smells and sounds of the ocean.
Riko smiles as she approaches her friend, slippers padding softly in the sand. But Chika seems so invested in scribbling in her notebook she doesn't notice Riko. Not wanting to startle her, Riko calls for her softly.
"Chika-chan. You're going to catch a cold out here."
"Uwah!" Chika jolts and drops her notes in the sand and whirls around all at once. "Riko-chan!"
"Sorry for startling you." She unfolds her blanket and drapes it across Chika's shoulders, then sits down beside her. "You're such a weirdo. You always come out here at night, but you never bring a blanket or wear a robe or anything. That's no good, Chika-chan."
"Sorry, sorry! But I didn't plan on staying out here long. I just wanted to get some peace and quiet and inspiration!"
Riko turns to her.
"Should I go?"
"Ahh, no no! That's not what I meant! You're not distracting me or anything, Riko-chan! In fact I'm glad you came. I always seem to work better when you're with me."
Riko blushes and turns her face away, looking out across the sparkling moonlit water.
"How is your progress coming along?"
"Great! I think I'm about halfway done. I just wanna work on it a little more tonight since we don't have school tomorrow."
A breeze slips between them. Riko tucks a strand of hair behind her ear.
"Well I don't want to bother you. But I don't want to leave you alone out here either if there are wild dogs. So I'll stay here for a while, if that's okay."
"Of course! Thanks, Riko-chan!"
Chika's smile sends Riko's heart into turmoil all over again. She pulls her knees to her chest and hugs them in an effort to stifle her pulse.
Chika gets back to writing, humming and grinning all the while as she scribbles in her notebook. Just the little noises she makes put Riko at ease even more so than the rhythmic lapping of the waves.
Some irrational part of her mind truly is still worried about wild dogs, but she realizes now that isn't the real reason she's here. The real reason she's here is sitting right next to her.
Drawing in a deep breath, Riko rests her chin on her knees and closes her eyes. It isn't a very cold night, not even with the sea breeze blowing in, but the wetness of her hair still makes her shiver. When she glances over to Chika though, she's glad to see her snuggled up in the blanket Riko had brought for her, concentrating on her lyrics.
Riko loses track of time easily, occasionally opening or closing her eyes, all the while aware of Chika's presence beside her.
Eventually her legs and back begin to ache, so she changes her position. Using the towel as a pillow she lies down on her side and stretches herself out for a moment before inevitably curling in on herself a little. The sand is soft and yet firm beneath her makeshift pillow, providing plenty of support.
The ocean continues its soothing lullaby, and she can still hear Chika writing and mumbling to herself. She knows Chika will wake her if she falls asleep, so Riko closes her eyes for what she hopes will just be a moment or two...
Chika works on her song until she's satisfied. She went for a friendship theme after all, at least for the first half of it anyway. Halfway through it turns into a romance song, incorporating her two favorite genres. When she's finished at last she finally sits back and flops into the sand.
"Done~! I think it's a success!" She holds her notebook on her stomach and sighs happily. "Do you wanna read the lyrics, Riko-chan?"
But as she turns over onto her side, she finds Riko in much the same position, only her eyes are closed. She's breathing softly and slowly, so peacefully the sound of the breeze sweeps it away.
Chika sits up again and looks over her friend for a moment. She's wearing the same pajamas as last night, and other than the fact that they're on the beach and not in Chika's bed, it feels exactly the same.
The only other difference is that Chika can hear the tremors in her breath and see the little shivers that shake through her.
She knows they should be getting back to their houses now. But after putting her notebook and everything away into her bag she can't resist the urge to try something.
She removes the warm blanket from around herself and turns away from Riko to quietly shake it free of sand. Then she inches closer to her sleeping classmate and drapes the blanket over Riko gently. Thankfully she doesn't wake her up, as the pattern of her breathing never gets interrupted.
Chika smiles fondly down at the sight of her curled up in the sand in her pajamas all for the sake of keeping Chika herself company.
"Riko-chan, you're such a good girl."
She reaches down to stroke through her bangs a few times, finding them a little cold. Chika wants to let her rest for a few more minutes. She'll wake her up soon.
But... She looks really comfortable.
Chika stifles a loud yawn, feeling the grogginess coming for her. She decides to lie down beside Riko just for a moment.
The blanket is wide enough to cover both of them if she presses close, so she loops her arms around Riko's sides and nuzzles into her collar. Her clean fruity scent fills the air, and with the blanket over her back and Riko's warmth spreading across her front, Chika lets out a cozy sigh.
The ocean continues lapping at the shoreline and the breeze continues brushing over the sand. It's so nice and warm...
Chika closes her eyes – just for a minute – and hugs herself closer to Riko. She can feel her breathing softly, feel the way her side rises up and down beneath Chika's forearm - a pattern like the ocean waves - how her chest puffs out faintly with every breath to cushion her cheek.
Chika turns her face into the crook of her neck where she can feel the faint movement of Riko's pulse. Another few inches over and she can hear it, too.
It's very soft, even softer than the waves, even though Chika is closer to Riko than she is to the ocean.
Her heartbeat thumps gently and steadily, similar to how the waves sing, only with a bit of a quicker pace.
It's so relaxing. It's so nice. She can't stop listening...
As she'd realize a while later at sunrise, she closed her eyes for a bit longer than just a minute.
A/N: Did last chapter involve them falling asleep together, you ask? Did this one also? Listen... There's a plot(?) coming I promise.