Epilogue. Let's Grow Old Together
Ookuma Garden park was rather quiet this time of day. Lunch time was already over so no influx of salarymen from the offices around; most of the classes were already over, so no Waseda students skipping or prepping for the next class either. To be precise, this particular corner of the park only had two of them: me and Yuki occupying one of the benches.
Yuki, now donning a navy blouse she had untucked over slim-fitting jeans, was slightly leaning on my shoulder; on her crossed legs her trusty Vaio was expertly perched, showing a very important article, both for me and her.
"The Quietest Lake in the World by Yukino Yukinoshita is an outstanding work of philosphical fiction," Yuki read on, "that touches the important themes of loneliness, choice, personal freedom and independence, which is quite rare in the world around me. Also it's nice to read. I'm serious…"
She stopped and pointedly looked at me.
"What? What's wrong? I stand by my words."
"If you say so. I'm serious. A very nice read given its size. Now what is this supposed to mean, I can't help but wonder. I think I've fulfilled my obligations because Yukinoshita-sensei threatened to bite me in all the wrong places otherwise. My life is in danger. Read it. Opening parenthesis, Full disclosure: Yukino Yukinoshita-sensei is my girlfriend., closing parenthesis. Sincerily Yours With a Nice Can of MAX Coffee, Hachiman Hikigaya."
Yuki closed her laptop, took off her dress shoes, curled on a bench beside me and bit my ear.
"Full disclosures are written before an actual review."
"It's short enough for people to get the joke. Even the editor said so."
"Also what MAX Coffee?"
"A guilty pleasure is a guilty pleasure. Also it's a joke anyway. A public image of me includes guzzling MAX Coffee."
Yuki just sighed, put her hand to her forehead and shook her head.
"Some things never change. At least have them pay you for advertising." She then laid her head on my shoulder. "But otherwise I'm touched."
"Glad to be of service," I snickered while stroking her hair.
We were silent for some time.
"In other news," Yuki spoke,"Yuigahama-san invited us to their new apartment."
"Sawatari's as good a boyfriend as he's a music producer, huh."
"As well as Yuigahama-san is a good songstress and a voice actress. Even if she states she still needs to work on his manners," Yuki noted. "Though by this time we both know how it goes: you change someone-"
"-And then someone changes you." Overwhelmed by all the memories and feelings associated with that conclusion, I fiercely hugged Yuki; she nodded into my chest and returned the embrace.
"I've got a huge envelope in today's mail."
That made her raise her head and look at me.
I carefully reached for my messenger bag and fetched the envelope; after opening it I stared at two identical sheets of laminated paper.
"Yep," I slowly answered. "Yep, it's that."
Our marriage certificates. Two golden-yellow sheets informing anyone concerned that Hachiman Hikigaya and Yukino Yukinoshita were actually a husband and a wife now.
"Yukino Hikigaya," Yuki stared at her copy in mild wonder. "Yukino Hikigaya. I suppose I will need some time to adjust."
"All the time in the world." I slowly stood up, then knelt before her, opening the small box with a ring. "I love you, Yuki. Let's grow old together."
"I…" Yuki sighed, then looked back at me with a smile most teasing. "Three years with you. Three whole years, and you only tell me you love now."
"Uh…" I looked away, which, combined with me still standing on my knee with a ring in an outstretched hand, probably looked comical. "… I… Yeah. Wait, look who's talking. You never said anything like that either."
"Yes. Yes, I suppose I never did either," Yuki slowly nodded, went for her bag and took another ring box. "Time to mitigate that. I love you too, Hachi. Let's grow old together."
Putting rings on each other's fingers turned out to be way less heart-wavering than I thought. Even afther three whole years I still expected something more exciting, more defining, but no, went business as usual.
I didn't mind though.
"We will need to inform everyone," Yuki noted still marveling the ring on her finger. "As well as plan the official ceremony."
"Ho boy," I snorted, "Your dad's gonna have a field day with this one."
"That he most definitely will. Who shall we invite beside that?"
"Didn't think it through actually. I mean, I wouldn't even mind Hayama."
That actually made Yuki laugh.
"Good havens, he doesn't even mind Hayama-kun." Yuki shook her head in false wonder, then turned back to me: "Your request. I know the answer to that."
"Heh. I didn't even expect anything back then. Well, I'm listening then."
Yuki closed her eyes and started recounting:
"Work, both to sustain ourselves and provide something meaningful to the world. Learn, both about the world and ourselves. Rest, because taking care about ourselves is important. Cuddle, because why would we live without it." She looked at me: "How is this for an answer?"
"Work, learn, rest, cuddle." I nodded to myself. "Sounds great. Going back to campus? I think it's about time."
Yuki readily accepted my hand, stood up clasped it firmly but gently.
"To the campus it is then."
Hi there fellows, it's Some Chinese Guy again.
First of all I'd like to congratulate myself on successfully writing a consistent 100k word tl;dr. Literally the largest wall of text in my life. Still trying to comprehend that.
Second, I'd like to express my gratitude to fellow authors RalphZiggy, TheMightyZingy and SouBU, as well as friends and acquaintances Lona and Katyusha. From proof-reading to pointing out glaring errors to being good rubber duckies listening to me rambling, they did it all. Thank you people. I wouldn't really make it without you all.
So, the afterword.
One thing I want to point out: don't even bother asking me for a continuation. Because several people in the review section had already done that.
First because I've told a complete, concise story, explored all the themes I wanted to, answered all the perceived questions and provided a satisfying (to me) ending to Hikki and Yukino, to the best of my ability. Ain't much, but honest work and stuff. And since Watari wants to make Oregairu his life work and already started a continuation where he has everyone running around in exactly the same circles, well, I can proudly say I'm better than Watari (makes a smug face).
Second, as a consequence of the first, I don't have anything else to write about. I can. But I won't like it. Neither will you. I guarantee it. Better be Travellers than Big Bang Theory. Or Game of Thrones. Or X-Files, as much as I love the latter dearly.
With this out of the way I do want to express my appreciation for the reviews. Both for providing helpful commentary and raising my morale when I struggled through the text.
Among other great reviews I've got I'd like to highlight this particular one for the prologue:
Too much unaccessary talking. Just get to the point. Just get to the story. The excessive talking is boring the hell out of me. It feels like Hikigaya is an omega virgin and weeb.
I received that one at just at the perfect time. At that time I seriously was at my lowest, due to everything in this goddamn year finally deciding to crush me all at once. Then I got this gem, and I laughed my ass off for five minutes straight, and I felt a bit better, and I realized it was lord my Tzeench cheering me in his inscrutable mysterious way. So I'm sincerely grateful.
Here I'll also leave the footnotes, references and general thoughts. Because if Kojima can do it why can't I- oh wait, I'm not Kojima. Ah whatever, I'll do it anyway.
The prologue actually serves two purposes.
One is the unofficial answer regarding one Reddit post on how OP doesn't like Yukino. The other (important) one is a recap and a refresher of all the events that led to the start of this story, giving context to Hikki and Yukino's states of mind, based on volumes 7 to 11. I think even anime-only viewers should remember at least three major curveballs life had sent in Yukino's direction, as well as the fact she's now a lot more deredere to Hikki. Judging by at least three people still telling me Yukino is OOC, well, I think I at least partially failed at that. Gotta improve.
Yuasa-sensei - Masaaki Yuasa, the great experimental animation director.
I can't get no sleep - someone's been listening to too much Insomnia by Faithless. This passed through all the proofreaders somehow.
Yukino Yukinoshita - at least one angry reviewer pointed at my honorifics/westernization issues. Part of it is personal preference: I always use "first name last name" convention for Japanese names, because Slavs are also being called by last names in school and it becomes aggravating really fast; part of it is me copying the Soviet translation conventions picked from the Russian translations of the Japanese books I've stumbled upon. Which is leave the stuff that has no direct translation (or takes too many words to convey the meaning), adapt the rest. Hence why I use honorifics but Bro/Sister instead of Onii-chan/Nee-san.
sexual predator - that actually was a risky one, but future chapters proved snowflakes either don't read fanfiction or are successfully fended off by the summary (judging by another negative reviewer it's indeed a nice filter). Pats himself on the shoulder
vengeance, being her cred - that's an LN-only episode in the beginning where Yukino quotes "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth".
the juice you haven't paid me for - another LN-only episode not too far from the one above where Yukino rudely nudges Hikki away from the room to listen to Yui's request in private, then, when Hikki comes back with drinks for everyone, doesn't even say thanks for hers. Funny thing is, Yukino never does anything like that ever after, even in the first volume. Who was that idiot who insisted Watari thought of everything- oh wait it was me.
flustered at a mere mention of her being cute - at least this one was preserved in comic manga. Do find it, it's funny.
overseas drama about a spy fellow - Burn Notice. If you haven't watch it, do it. It's awesome.
Remember Haruki? - as in Haruki Kitahara from White Album 2. Not Makoto levels of thinking with one's dick, but something way more grounded and thus way more enraging.
Que Sera Sera - aka Whatever Happens, Happens. Doris Day's version is preferred.
For the Greater Lulz - Chaos Tau don't exist (yet), but in case they do I want GW to use this as their motto (and pay me royalties roflz it's GW what am I even hoping for).
Things to Do in Chiba When You're Dead - Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, of course. Hikki is well-versed in Western cinema: according to Volume 9 his favorite Christmas movie is Home Alone (I'm still torn between that and Die Hard 1/2). This one is a heavy gangster drama though, so… well.
Write something on the soccer field - When are you coming back, Tanigawa-sensei?.. Seems like my prayers had been answered. Lessee, lessee.
OOC Yukino - Keeping the remark about the prologue in mind, I stand by my characterization of Yukino. She's constantly on the verge of a breakdown ever since Volume 11. Because family (including Haruno) plus love triangle. That's why she's prone to panicking and is lacking self-confidence. This is not something you can recover from quickly and easily.
Sail to this island heart - Island Heart by Comsat Angels. I have Yukino listen to melancholic English post-punk and no one cares. I explicitly point that out in Chapter 7 and once more no one cares. Am I that good at predicting someone's taste in music or no one cares?
entering a steep turn - both JR and Keisei do announce that, at least around Tokyo. Only in Japanese though. And here I thought being lazy about translating the transit announcements is purely a Moscow thing.
the world exploded - a lot of people casually mention kissing as being no big deal (and by extention sex as "you simply know now what your significant other looks like naked"). Stay away from those people. They're sentient logs from outer space.
bath soap - Komachi did present Yukino a bath set she herself uses, check Volume 6.5's last chapter with the Christmas party.
I think I can - both The Little Engine That Could and the song by The Pillows used in FLCL. Do listen and do watch.
strengthen the bond between families - yet another reader said the arranged marriage plot was out of left field. Except it wasn't since this phrase is taken almost verbatim from Volume 10 Chapter 4 or 5. No, it didn't make into the anime. Whether Watari wanted to do something with that or not we'll never know, but for me it was another "nice" little detail about Yukino's mother.
grouping of objects in the chaos of the Universe - Dimension of Miracles by Robert Sheckley.
Europe in Autumn - the first from Fractured Europe quadrilogy by Dave Hutchinson. A great cyberpunk spy thriller in a setting where EU was dissolved and borders were closed due to Xian Flu out… break… Uhhh… Anyway, if you like the atmosphere but don't like to be reminded of the current events, try The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man, also by him.
Star Kings - an isekai from 1949. How do you like that?
Tailchaser's Song - it was this book that introduced me to fantasy novels, something Lord of the Rings failed to do as it was too boring for a 14 year old me. I'm… a weird fellow like that, yeah.
San Francisco - originally in the LN Yukino was supposed to have studied in Great Britain, the US variant was introduced in the Monologue manga. While I admit I messed this up, there's literally no recollections of Yukino's time abroad at all. That and other smaller details regularly slipping through cracks in Watari's planning, so I stand by the US.
bullies in Soubu - Well, a) Soubu High is advanced, but not elite, b) an elite bullying asshole is still a bullying asshole, and c) I mean, look at Tobe and Yumiko. And speaking of that lovely Yumiko of yours, mind you, she tried to punch Yukino in Volume 10 when discussing her request. That didn't make it into the anime either. She's mellowed out, sure, but not so much as the drove of fanfics here on the site want you to think.
Dead or alive, you're coming with me - Robocop. Sensei is shown quoting manly movies/anime stuff, so why not.
Public Displays of Affection - not related at all but it's also a nice song by Morcheeba.
Sensei proposing a club - was in my other story Yukinoshita Begins, so part of the headcanon.
moving to the new apartment - was in my other other story Family by Choice, so part of the headcanon too.
Every rain will eventually stop - Rain by SID aka FMA Brotherhood OP 5.
"ah" in hiragana - Azumanga.
faster than Melos - Run, Melos by Osamu Dazai of course. Though this is a no-brainer since it was referenced in Volume 10, along with other Dazai stuff Volume 10 is built around.
Digital Devil Saga - Shin Megami Tensei Digital Devil Saga.
Hey! Listen! - aka Navi from Zelda Ocarina of Time meme.
Mommy never loved her much and daddy never keeps in touch - To the Moon and Back by Savage Garden. As much about Yukino as it gets. Robbiec4 gets a cookie for guessing correctly.
doesn't have a single loving bone in her body - a half-hearted kick in the general direction of the End of the Affair. You people sure love your dark shit, don't you? Also it was one of those things that motivated me to write this story. Dunno about you, but I feel there should some sort of a fucking counterpoint. Please pardon me this little weakness. Also a cookie for An Average Writer for guessing this one.
a goat and a tiger - aka Timur the goat and Amur the tiger. True story. As is yaoi fanart. No, I'm not going to provide the images.
aroma candles - canon as of Volume 12. Most probably hides the fact Haruno's smoking.
pure chaos - as is the fact Haruno's a slob. Always the case with those carefree freedom-loving types looks at his apartment aaaand several other types.
Bitter… but warm - that's from Evangelion manga, a nice original scene of Shinji visiting Rei and making some tea. The manga is superior to all the other Eva installments by the way.
carbonara - the first draft did have carbonara but I was pointed to another fanfic where it was done already. Could have left it as is but fine, alright, let's show off the fact I know some other dishes.
Anything I can do she can do better - I can do Anything Better Than you~.
dream sequence - an unabashed Persona reference. Not just 5, several others too. Also also, last time I checked Hikki never even mentioned his dreams. I know some people who don't dream at all but I doubt Hikki's the case.
who I need when I come undone - Come Undone by Duran Duran. Weird music video notwithstanding.
Townwork - was mentioned in ANOTHER blu-ray stories Volume a (curse ANOTHER). Turns out it does exist.
Secret Rendezvous - by Kobo Abe. During one of my many raids on the local library for new interesting books I once stumbled upon a Japanese sci-fi anthology. I'm still not sure what people were thinking (it was published in the 90s, ohhhh the Post-Soviet 90s), but they had the great insight to put it as the first story there. That there, at the tender age of sixteen, was my not-so-gentle introduction to Japanese body horror. Human Centipede is tame in comparison. Only SCP Foundation's Sarcology and Meat Circus canons managed to outdo that. Even more jarring since the rest of the anthology was decent. Oh well makes blank eyes
Hikki's parents - There were couple scenes with his mom in Volume 3. Clearly showed where Hikki's sass comes from. That plus Hikki's brief mentions here and there indicate they're typical overworked office drones. Still made a comparatively normal family compared to Yukino's, a comparison I kept from LNs. I decided to elaborate on that after remembering my own childhood: when you're introduced to your friend's family and they treat you, well, normally, and you suddenly want to melt into a puddle of teary grateful goo right there and then. You may want to read the Mumxicity webcomic for a, hmmm, more detailed experience.
asshole teachers - in real life all the described traits were combined in one single elementary school homeroom teacher, if that helps… ohhh it so doesn't. Nevermind.
Vaio P and Toshiba Libretto - back in the day the Japanese really knew a thing or two about subnotebooks. Shame I started earning real money some 10 years after it all faded away. But hey, we now have GPD, OneMix, Chuwi and others, so it's not so bad.
as everyone turns over, troubled in their dreams again - The Walk by The Cure.
tall overweight foreigner - There definitely is a rule in FFNet's terms of service about mandatory self-inserts somewhere, I just need to find it.
Coca Cola Clear - true story. Here's the image attachments/313705056467812352/477050010400194571/IMG_20180809_ . They took the cola out of the cola!
Vita-chan - Hikki does own one, at least as of the beginning of the Volume 7 where he prepares for the class trip. Entirely possible since Vita is still a thing in Japan. Also since Hikki mentions various games he probably doesn't have a genre preference, so why not Project Diva.
High Score Girl - I did plan to introduce Akira and Haruo's cameo somewhere later in the summer section but then my good taste and sense of moderation kicked in. About time.
The sky will clear again - After the Rain by Comsat Angels.
Totally didn't happen - was supposed to be a three-parter with Hikki's and Yukino's dads' final showdown. But then I realized it only sounded good in my head. Will cut that out of the eventual pdf.
responsible for who we've tamed - The Little Prince. The actual one, not the yaoi fanfic by Hina. Just in case.
paranormal investigators - one of the nicknames for Mulder and Scully is Dynamic Duo. Incidentally, I do have a draft for a story like that with Hikki and Yukino. Maybe I'll even write it someday when I have time pffffffff you heard that? HAVE TIME. LOL.
the pirate twins again - Europa and the Pirate Twins by Thomas Dolby.
broadcasting from some garage in San Francisco - that's Soma FM, specifically its Underground Eighties Eightieessh~ radio. Which did start in Rusty Hodge's garage.
Nowhere Girl - Nowhere Girl by B-Movie.
Shione Yukawa - beside signing beautiful acoustic folk she also does English covers of some old classic, like The Moon is Like the Boat by Donovan, Don't Look Back in Anger by Oasis… or No Surprises by Radiohead. Radiohead never sounded so cute before.
cuddly Kamakura - believe it or not those furry asses can take a liking in someone outside your apartment. Case in point was my friend's late ginger Siberian cat who, when I visited them with my then-girlfriend, actually hopped onto her lap all by himself. Which he did for the sum total of 3 or 4 times in all his (rather long) life. Damn Casanova.
Windows wi-fi drivers were shit - true story. Same Intel radio modules as in the early Thinkpads which were and still are *nix-friendly.
Nice day for a white wedding - White Wedding pt.1 by Billy Idol.
try voice acting - for bonus points google Nobuyuki Hiyama's photos. Be surprised.
Yukino's mother - I stand by my characterization of her too. All of her appearances in LNs and anime indicate she's an emotional manipulator at best. Add that throwaway bit about "strengthening the bonds" plus her scolding of Yukino in Volume 11 and it all also shows she's one of those moms who don't quite separate themselves from their children. Which is a damn lot more commmon than you think. Now imagine this keeps going on all Yukino's life. So some people's claims she's actually right and Yukino's a pompous idiot for not listening to her really make my skin crawl. While Watari's canon is Hikki marrying into their family and Watari can do with it whatever, my life experience states desperately shouts otherwise. As for Yukino walking her own path, while it does conclude her self-growth I do admit it's most probably my Slav revolutionary worker-peasant genes demanding so.
Yukino's father - meanwhile Yukidad was entirely up to interpretation so I made the family the new money business owners with a hardworking husband and a money-hungry wife. Seen a lot of those around here, so, well. Also, if Yukimom is voiced by Kikuko Inoue, can I have Rikiya Koyama for him? Pwease?
… I mean, I've agonized over the mature content for three whole months and the total number of mentions of that in the reviews is… three? Okay. Either no one cares or everyone prefers to omit it so as not to hurt my feelings.
Eisai / Dougen - Prominent Zen philosophers from 13th century.
Anri/Amin/Momoko Kikuchi/Miki Matsubara - not that ANOTHER is any sort of canon (curse ANOTHER) but as far as I remember it's the only place where Hikki references music that isn't anisons. Specifically it was Matsu Wa by Amin. Alright then, let him listen to some city pop. Generally fits with both Hikki and Yukino being out-of-trends sophisticated loners, and those do tend to listen to outdated music.
SCP-2935 - aka O, Death. Do read it, it's one of the best entries.
sexytimez - while I do admit it turned out rather idealized compared to the real thing, the real thing is still way prettier than some would like you to think (ahem The Last of Us 2 ahem-ahem).
I'm paper in your hand - Tutti Frutti by New Order.
Love hotels - while most love hotels in Greater Tokyo area won't allow minors, many are being converted to normal hotels due to shrinking demand.
Simon's Cat - yes, it's a thing.
Kare Kano - yes, it does have the main girl named Yukino. Yes, she is a beauty and an academic darling. With a different twist but still. Yes, the series does have a lot of Evangelion's stock sounds and direction choices, it was directed by Anno just couple years after Eva.
Competition swimsuit - All the tons of merch and none of them have this obvious option for Yukino. The closest was those bunnysuit dakimakuras and those were ruined by Yukino's "someone get me out of here" expression. For Slaanesh's sake they can't even lewd a waifu properly!
Haruno - I also stand by my Haruno's characterization. If subreddit is to be believed a lot of people also take her words at face value, to the point I really wanted to introduce #shitharunosays hastag. She's a canonical sociopath! Are you really taking words of wisdom from someone who can coerce others at a drop of a hat?
Genuine - not so clear for anime-only people since one important bit was chopped from the adaptation. Specifically, in volume 10 during the alumni meetup Haruno has a private chat with Iroha, after which Iroha returned scared. On a semi-related note, it's generally morbidly funny to watch the animation team hastily shove the previously cut stuff into flashbacks, such as Kawasaki's reaction as of recently.
Rentarou, you got competition - Rentarou Aijou from the The 100 Girlfriends who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You. Yeah, five times. I rechecked. Read it though. Seems like we have a harem to end all harems. On the other hand, Iono the Fanatics did have along the lines of fifty thousand…
Meguri's Korg M1 - wasn't specified in the light novel, and actually turned into Roland A-90 in the second season. Taking some liberties with that one.
Nyan Cat rainbow - an actual Emacs plugin adding a Nyan Cat progress bar. Add a splash of color to your boorish dark theme and stuff.
Things you do are magic - Every Little Thing She Does is Magic by The Police vs. Magic Ways by Tatsuro Yamashita. RalphZiggy also decided to provide a whole The Police character image song playlist:Sensei: Don't Stand so Close to me Haruno: Every step you take Zaimokuza: Walking on the Moon Komachi: Wrapped Around Your Finger Yui: Can't Stand Losing You Hikki: King of Pain (that's my addition)
kei car - small-displacement (360-900cc) city cars that are more city- and eco-friendly (and get you nice tax reductions to boot). Not necessarily slow though. Just ask Miyuki and Natsumi from You're Under Arrest.
Essay conclusion - the do-over essay Hikki has written by the end of Volume 1, which did a title drop. LN-only content.
Be a rebel, not a devil - Be a Rebel by New Order.
1984 - 1984 Yozora no Earring by Junko Yagami.
And that's it. The nearest plans is me contemplating all the criticism people had offered me, thinking and maybe reconsidering things in writing and indeed life (There are some). As for the future plans, I honestly don't know. I had several ideas (including another 100k+ word crossover) but I realized that a) I'm burnt out by oregairu and it's time to let go, and b) god I suck. The latter can be addressed with more writing and putting more thought into it. The first is, well… In short, I'm going dark for a year or two to think out an original story. Got some ideas. Will make an announcement in my profile page once done.
Once more, thanks for being with me these two years.
Some Chinese Guy out.