Heyo, CoCo here! I know I haven't been around in a while - sorry. Bit of Writer's Block - I'm getting over it, though. Anyhoo- ohcraphereitcomes--
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Sketchbook or Sketchbook full color'S, nor do I own the song I put in the story (it's called Summer Song by YUI, there's a translation at the bottom). So no suing, eh? I DON'T OWN ANYTHING HERE BUT THE PLOT.
-As I was trying to say, I really hope you enjoy the story, because I had fun writing it. And I hope they're not too OOC!
Minamo turned around to see Kajiwara Ao running after her. Surprised, she stopped. "Kajiwara-san?"
He caught up with her and halted a few feet away. "Negeshi-san, your brother is in my sister's Art Club, isn't he?"
"Umm... Which one is your sister?" Minamo asked sheepishly.
"Oh! Sorry! Sora-chan... Er, Kajiwara Sora..." Ao scratched his head, unused to referring to his sister by her proper name.
Minamo brightened. "Oh, of course! Sora-san! Yes, my brother's in the Art Club... Why?"
Ao grinned. "Well, I'm trying to plan a surprise birthday party for Onee-chan, and the Art Club members are all her friends, so I thought I'd invite them..." Suddenly he looked slightly embarrassed. "...And I wondered if you could give me a hand."
Minamo was thrilled with the idea. "Of course! Wah, when is her birthday? I should buy her a gift..."
Ao seemed pleased that he had help. "It's February fourth... You could come to the party too, if you want," he seemed half-nervous, half-embarrassed to invite her, but it only seemed polite.
"Really?! Oh, arigato, Kajiwara-san!"
"D... doo itashimashite, Negeshi-san..."
"Oh! You can just call me Minamo!" she smiled brightly, a grin that he had to return.
"Hai... Then you can call me Ao, Minamo-chan..."
She giggled. "So what do you need me to help with, Ao-kun?"
"Onii-saaaaan!" Minamo cried as she walked through the door. She could tell he was home: he always dumped his schoolbag in the front hall. Daichi stepped out of the kitchen, holding a half-opened package of instant ramen.
"You're late," he grumbled.
"You'd normally be later," she pointed out. "Did you skip Art Club today?"
"No, it just didn't last as long as normal... Why are you late?"
"I was with Ao-kun," she said happily. He narrowed his eyes.
"Ao-kun...?" he asked expectantly.
"Sora-san's brother. He's setting up a surprise birthday party for her, and wanted me to help, because I know the Art Club members better than he does." she flopped down onto the sofa. "You're invited, by the way."
"Sora-san?" Daichi looked mildly surprised. "I didn't know her birthday was coming up. Or that she had a brother." He looked at his sister suspiciously. "Speaking of whom, how old is he and how do you know him and why are you friendly enough to call him Ao-kun?"
"Relax, Onii-san!" She waved her hands at him. "He's in my class, and I call him Ao-kun because he said I could, and he said I could because I said he could call me Minamo-chan!" Inuo hopped up onto her stomach, and she giggled.
Daichi looked at her suspiciously at her for a moment longer, then went back into the kitchen. "Supper will be ready soon."
"Onee-chan?" Seeing her bag in the living room, Ao wondered suddenly what she could be doing. He found her in the kitchen, quietly and happily sipping her tea.
After a moment, she seemed to notice his presence. "Hello, Ao..."
He slipped into the seat next to her. "What do you want for your birthday, Nee-chan?"
"Ummmmm..." She paused mid-sip. "...I don't know."
"You haven't got ANY ideas?"
She shook her head.
"All right, so there's my brother, plus Aso-san and Torikai-san, Nagisa-san and Juju-san, Fu-san and Ryo-san, Kuga-san, Asaka-san, Kate-san, Sugyo-san... What about Kasugano-sensei?"
Ao was scribbling the names down in his notebook. "Um... I suppose we should invite her too. I mean, Sora-chan talks about her like a friend..." He put her name on his list.
As he started to turn the page, Minamo exclaimed, "Oh! I almost forgot Oba-san!"
"Yeah... She's not around much, so I've only met her once, but it would be rude not to at least invite her, wouldn't it?"
"I suppose it would," Ao agreed, writing down the final name. He turned the page and put his pencil to the paper. "Now, February fourth is a Sunday, which works to our advantage..."
After an hour's work after school in the library, the two of them put together a master plan and wrote out all of the invitations. The next day, Ao would ask Sora to come straight home after school instead of going to the Art Club, with the excuse that he needed her to go into the city with him to pick up some things for a school project. Under that cover story, he would buy everything he needed to make decorations for the party. While he and Sora were in town, Minamo would go to the Art Club and distribute invitations. RSVPs were to be received by Minamo to avoid Sora accidentally overhearing Ao on the phone with her friends. On the day of the party, a Sunday, Ao would tell Sora to make absolutely sure she was back from her Sunday walk by lunchtime, because he was preparing a special birthday meal. Shortly after she left, Minamo (and probably Daichi too, because it was pointless for the two of them to go separately) would arrive to help with decorating and other preparations. Everyone else would come a little while after that, and Minamo would stand guard by the front window to warn them when Sora was coming. When that happened, everyone would hide in the backyard (because they couldn't all hide in the living room) except for Ao, who would greet his sister as he normally would, and then... The surprise.
"Good morning, Onee-chan," Ao greeted his sister. "Sleep well?"
Sora nodded groggily.
"That's good. I was wondering, do you think you could skip Art Club today? Because I'd like your help picking up some things for a school project..."
Sora nodded. "Okay," she agreed quietly.
"Sora-chan won't be here today, she's helping her brother with some shopping," Aso told Hiyori as soon as she got to club.
"What are you doing here?!" Daichi's loud voice came from behind them. Aso turned around to see his sister in the doorway.
"Relax, Onii-san, it's about the party!"
"Party?" Aso asked curiously.
"Hai, Aso-san. Ao-kun and I are organizing a surprise birthday party for Sora-san, and I came to hand out invitations!" She shuffled through the envelopes in her hand and pulled one out. "This one's for you!"
Suddenly everyone was crowding around her, clamouring for their invitations. Flustered, she passed them out, trying not to get them mixed up. She was left with three in her hand.
"Oba-sama, Ryo-sama, and Fu-sama," Minamo murmured, wondering how she would get these invitations to their intended recipients. There was a bang behind her as the door opened, and she jumped.
"We heard our names?" Ryo and Fu asked.
"Ah... Y-yes..." Minamo shakily held up their invitations. They took them, peering questioningly at her.
"Why do we get..."
Sugyo interrupted. "You said you had one for Oba-san?" he asked Minamo. She nodded.
"I can get it to her, if you like,"
She gratefully passed him the envelope. "Arigato, Sugyo-san!"
"Which colour do you prefer?" Ao asked his sister, holding up a red Bristol board and a blue one.
"Um..." Sora looked back and forth between them, clearly distressed. The red is so bright and warm and cheerful, but the blue is so rich and deep and calm... "I can't decide," she admitted. "I like them both..."
"Then what about this?" Ao suggested, putting down the ones in his hands and picking up a purple one. Sora beamed.
He sweatdropped. "I don't know about that..."
Finally the day of the party arrived. Ao was thankful that he managed to keep the bubbling excitement out of his voice as he insisted that Sora must be home for lunch. "I'm making a special birthday meal... I'll make special tea, too," he added, knowing that that would ensure her coming home on time.
As soon as she was out the door, he picked up the phone and called the Negeshi residence. "She's gone," he told Minamo.
"We'll be right over!" she replied cheerfully.
Ao put down the phone and rushed upstairs to retrieve the decorations he'd made from his closet. As he passed his sister's bedroom door, he remembered something and slipped in to pull a piece of paper from her portfolio folder.
He took his things downstairs to the kitchen table to put a few finishing touches on some of the decorations. Before long, the doorbell rang. He hurried into the front hall to greet Minamo and Daichi.
"Good morning, Ao-kun!" Minamo greeted happily. Without warning, she lifted her camera and took a picture of him, making him laugh.
"Good morning, Minamo-chan, Negeshi-sempai."
"Daichi-sama will do, kid," Daichi said, offering his hand. Ao reached to shake it. "So you're Ao-kun, eh? Oh, here..." Daichi pulled a small box from a shopping bag and handed it to the younger boy. "Sora-san likes tea, right?"
Ao took the box and opened it to find that it was a set of assorted tea bags. "Hai! Arigato, Daichi-sama!"
"No problem," Daichi muttered, looking vaguely embarrassed.
Minamo looked around. "So we're going to do this in the living room, right?"
"Yes, just this way..." Ao led them into the living room, then went to get his decorations from the kitchen. Daichi and Minamo looked them over.
Minamo gasped. "You know what we should've thought of? Balloons!"
Ao nodded. "You're right..."
"I think I know where to get some quickly," Daichi said. "I could be back within half an hour."
"Really?" Minamo hugged him. "Arigato, Onii-san!"
"Yeah, sure, just get off me..." He muttered darkly, peeling her arms away from himself. "Back soon," he called as he went back toward the front door. "Don't get up to any funny business while I'm gone!"
"Funny business?" Ao asked. Minamo giggled.
"He thinks I'm secretly going out with you," she answered. "Even though I keep telling him I'm not."
Ao blushed. "Where'd he get that idea?"
"Who knows. Let's get to work putting these up!" Minamo lifted one of the signs he'd made. 'HAPPY', it read. The other two said 'BIRTHDAY' and 'SORA-CHAN!'. "They look great," she told him as he dragged a stepstool over to the wall.
"Thanks... Pass me the 'happy' one, please?"
She handed it to him as he reached the top of the miniature ladder.
"The tape... I left it on the kitchen counter," he realized. "Can you hold this while I go get it?"
She nodded, stepping up onto the stool next to him. As she reached for the sign, she lost her balance and started to fall. Ao immediately reached to catch her, pulling her towards him.
Minamo breathed a sigh of relief. "Arigato, Ao-kun..."
"Doo itashimashite, Minamo-chan."
Suddenly they both realized just how close together they were.
"I... I'll go get that tape..." Ao decided.
"Right." Minamo agreed. Ao stepped off the ladder and walked stiffly toward the kitchen, blushing furiously. Just as he picked up the roll of tape, there was a crash and a thump.
Ao hurried back into the living room to find the stepstool knocked over, the sign fallen on top of it, and Minamo on the ground, eyes screwed shut and hands clamped over her knee. It wasn't hard to deduce what had happened.
He dropped the tape on top of his pile of decorations and knelt down next to her. "Minamo-chan..." He pulled gently at her hands. "Minamo-chan, I need to see your knee." Reluctantly she let him pry her hands away and look at it. Somehow she had scraped herself badly, even breaking the skin in a couple spots. "I'll be right back," he promised, standing up. She nodded and put her hands back on her knee.
Ao went to the washroom and returned with a small first-aid kit. As he carefully cleaned her knee, she moaned, "I'm such a klutz..."
He smiled at her. "How did you manage this anyway?"
"I lost my balance again, and I was trying to regain it when the whole stepstool toppled over. Somehow I scraped my knee on it on the way down, I think..."
He chuckled as he put a band-aid over the scrape. "You're as bad as my sister," he mumbled. "Y'know, it's because of her that I got so good at taking care of cuts and scrapes!" He stood up, offering his hand. She took it, and he pulled her up.
"What do you say we skip telling my brother about this whole episode? If he asks about my knee, we could just say I tripped when I went out back to... Um..."
"Pick some flowers for the table?" Ao suggested. "I have a good vase to use, and I don't mind if you raid the garden."
"Good idea! I guess I should go do that, then." She grinned.
"All right. The back door's right over there." he said, pointing. She took a few steps toward it, then paused.
"U-um... Ao-kun..." she started, without looking back at him. "We... We're still holding hands..."
Ao let go very abruptly. "Sorry, Minamo-chan!" He cried, blushing brightly. She still didn't look at him, mostly so that he wouldn't see that she was blushing too.
"I-it's okay, Ao-kun," As she stepped out the back door, Minamo looked at her hand. It was warm, and the breeze outside was cool on her palm. She curled her fingers into her hand in an attempt to hold in the strangely pleasant warmth.
Ao stood in the middle of the room staring blankly at his hand, wondering why it seemed to tingle. Suddenly he realized that if nothing was accomplished in the next fifteen minutes or so, Daichi would start asking questions.
Working quickly, Ao managed to put up all of the decorations and move the furniture closer to the walls to allow for more floor space. He was just hauling the table into a corner when Minamo came back inside.
"Ah, Minamo-chan. Help me with this table? Then I'll go grab the vase..."
"Sure!" Minamo set her flowers on the table and picked up one side. Between them, they got it right into the corner. Minamo was just dropping the flowers into the vase Ao held when her brother came through the front door.
Daichi brought a dozen brightly coloured, helium-filled balloons into the room, pulling them by their shiny white ribbons. "Where should these go?" he asked.
Ao looked around as he put the vase on the table. "Well, we don't want her to see them right away... The lights will be off, but... What about putting a few in each corner?"
"Sounds reasonable." Daichi passed three balloons to his sister, three to Ao, and divided the remaining six between his two hands. Ao tied his to one of the legs of the table, Minamo tied hers to the TV table, and Daichi tied his to a potted plant and a cupboard.
"Cake's next," Ao said. "I mixed the batter last night and left it in the fridge, so all we have to do is put it in a cake tin and bake it."
"Ooh! Can I help?" Minamo asked excitedly. "I like baking!"
Ao nodded. "Sure!" He looked over at Daichi. "You coming?"
"I don't think it's a three-person job, is it?"
"I suppose not..." Ao smiled. "Can I get you a drink or something...?"
"No, I'm all right." Daichi sat down on the sofa, looking absently around the room.
Minamo followed Ao into the kitchen and watched as he washed his hands and pulled the bowl of cake mix out of the refrigerator. He reached toward the oven to set it to preheat and glanced at her.
"You should wash your hands, too," he pointed out as he retrieved a cake mould from a cupboard. He put it on the counter next to the bowl and opened a drawer, pulling out a large spoon and two spatulas. He took the plastic wrap off the top of the bowl and started to stir the batter around with the spoon, to remix any settling that may have occurred overnight. Minamo came to stand next to him, and he handed her a spatula. "As soon as I'm done mixing, I'm going to tip the bowl over the tin... Can you use that to push the batter out a bit faster?"
She nodded and held the tin in place as he began pouring the batter in. She scraped it down with the spatula, and shortly after, Ao picked up the other one and started to help, holding the bowl with one hand. The oven beeped, indicating that it was ready.
Once they'd gotten all the batter they could into the mould, Minamo opened the oven for Ao and he put it in. As she shut the door and he programmed the oven timer, she looked at her spatula and licked her lips.
"Yum," she decided as she ran the flat utensil across her tongue. Ao chuckled and licked his own spatula.
"It is good, isn't it?" he said. She nodded, glancing up at him.
"...There's batter all over your nose," she giggled.
"Yours too!" He pointed out, laughing.
Daichi leaned in the door. "What's so funny?" he asked.
"Nothing, really," Ao told him. "Nothing at all."
"Well, then," Daichi said, "We should probably move on. There's more to do, am I right?"
Ao nodded and dropped the dirty bowl, spoon, and spatulas into the sink. "Yeah." He wiped his hands on a towel and passed it to Minamo. "I need to bring the present down from my room, and put the drinks and snacks out on the table... Before people start arriving."
Daichi nodded and watched as Ao went up the stairs. Minamo and her brother went back into the living room to wait for him, and she saw something that caught her eye. "Onii-san, look at this!"
He came up behind her to look at the picture on the wall. Before he could say anything, Ao came into the room, a box in his arms. He put it down by the television and came to stand beside them. "My sister drew that," he said, unable to suppress the bit of pride in his voice.
"It's amazing," Minamo cooed. "Everybody's in there! All of the Art Club members, and there's you, and me, and the neighbourhood cats..."
"It is impressive." Daichi agreed. "She definitely has talent. And it's rare to see her use colour, but she uses it well..."
"She used a photograph – actually, it was one that Minamo-chan took, I think – for reference, but she added in me, Minamo-chan, Oba-san, and the cats freehand," Ao explained. "I think it turned out pretty well."
"I thought I recognized some of it!" Minamo exclaimed. They looked at it for a moment longer, and then she turned to Ao.
"Hey, what did you get for her?"
"Ah!" Ao grinned and went over to the box. Kneeling down and opening it, he said, "A karaoke machine. You wouldn't know it, but she loves to sing... She's just too shy to do it in front of most people. In fact, it was years before I knew she could sing." He pulled it out and started to connect it to the TV set. "See, I had an idea – I thought that when she gets here and everyone goes out back, I'd turn out the lights and have only the TV on, so she'd see nothing but that and the machine here... And I'd get her to sing for us – or for me, as far as she knows – before we surprise her. Then, when she finishes the song, we can clap for her... She'll be scared out of her wits, probably, but I thought it'd be a good idea."
Minamo's eyes sparkled. "That's a GREAT idea!" she agreed.
"Thanks." He turned to her brother. "What do you think, Daichi-sama?"
Daichi looked away awkwardly. "Sounds good to me," he mumbled.
Ao nodded and tossed the box off to one side. "Now for those snacks," he said, walking toward the kitchen. The doorbell rang. "Minamo-chan, could you-?" He heard the door open.
"Aso-sama! Torikai-sama!" Minamo's voice floated into the house. "Come in!"
Ao counted the guests clustered in his living room. "One, two, three, four... Five, six, seven, eight, nine... Ten, eleven, twelve... Thirteen... Plus me and Minamo-chan makes fifteen. That's everyone..." He had filled everyone in on the plan, and the presents were piled under the table. At least half of them had a glass of fruit juice or a cup of tea in their hands.
Suddenly Minamo's voice sounded from the front hall. "Here she comes!" She yelled as she ran into the living room. Everyone stopped talking and filed into the backyard, moving out of sight. Ao turned on the TV and the Karaoke machine, switching through the songs until he found the right one, turned off the lights, pulled the heavy curtains almost shut, then went to sit by the front window in the kitchen as if he had been watching for her.
As Sora came in the door, Ao came into the front hall and smiled. "Hey, Nee-chan, I have a surprise for you!"
"Oh?" She wondered, following him into the living room.
"Look what I got you!" He said happily, pointing at the machine.
"Ohh... A karaoke machine?"
"That's right! I was wondering, would you sing a bit for me? I set it to your favourite song..."
Everyone outside was silent, listening through the open window and door. They waited with bated breath to see if Sora would sing for them.
"I guess, since you're the only one here..." She handed her sketchbook to her brother and picked up the microphone.
"Just hit the start button," Ao instructed. She did as he said, and the music started, words passing along the screen – not that she needed them for this song.
"Taiyou ga mikata suru hi ni yaketa kimi ga te wo furu kara
Kitai shiten da yakusoku no kisetsu ni tobikomu ningyo mitai ni
Kousha no sumi ni himawari ga saku terete bakari ja kakko warui ne
Aozora ni ima sakebitai hodo kimi wo omotteru"
Her friends outside gasped silently. It was such a cheerful, upbeat song – they never would have expected to hear Sora sing in such a way... But she sounded so happy.
"Natsu ga kuru kara umi e ikou yo
Chotto dake tachi tomatte mayou hi mo aru kedo
Hekomu mainichi torimodosu hibi kimi ni atte waraiatte
Hajimaru yo natsu yasumi lan la lan la
Hashiri dashita senaka ni wa uso no nai kimochi ga utsuru kara
T shatsu no mukou gawa kira kira kagayaku mahou mitai da
Hanabi no oto ni kaki kesareteru kimi no kotoba ga yokaze to kawaru
Kanjin na koto kikoenai kedo wakari aesou sa"
Nagisa twirled in circles, dancing with a butterfly; Aso danced happily to her friend's voice.
"Ah long long long time machi kogareta
Seishun tte hon no chotto ijiwaru dayo ne
Hekomu mainichi torimodosu hibi kimi ni atte waraiatte
Hajimaru yo natsu yasumi lan la lan la
Sunahama ni suwari konde futari de tokei ki ni shiteita
Nami no oto kiki nagara yakusoku nante dekinai mama
Natsukashiku naru itsuka kanarazu
Suna ni kaita mirai nante ate ni dekinai"
Juju smiled, appreciative of Sora's musical talent. Hiyori lifted the uncharacteristically quiet P-chan in the air and danced about.
"Hekomu mainichi torimodosu hibi kimi ni ate waraiatte
'Makka na buruu da'
Natsu ga kuru kara umi ni kitan da
Niji ni natta ano sora wo wasuretakunai
Hekomu mainichi torimodosu hibi kimi ni atte waraiatte
Hajimaru yo natsu yasumi lan la lan la…"
Just as Sora put down the microphone, Ao snuck over to the back door, opening the curtains and the door. He also quickly opened the window curtains and turned on the lights.
Everyone moved back into the room, clapping loudly. They stood around the walls, cheering and applauding her performance. Ao joined in, walking toward his sister, who had frozen in the middle of the room.
"Happy birthday, Nee-chan!" he cried with a laugh. He threw his arms around her. "Settle down," he added quietly. "they're clapping for you, aren't they?"
As he pulled away, Minamo jumped up, dropping the camera she had been using a moment ago to hang around her neck once more. "That was incredible, Sora-onee-sama!"
"You have a lot of talent," Juju agreed.
Kate bounced around uncontrollably. "You're amazing, Sora-chan! Just full of surprises! Kya!"
Sora blushed. "R-really?"
Aso pumped her fist. "Definitely!"
Torikai nodded. "No doubt, Sora-chan, your voice is beautiful."
"Even P-chan loved it!" Hiyori exclaimed. P-chan squawked in agreement.
"A-a-arigato," Sora managed, still very nervous.
"Your voice is as nice as a cricket's chirp," Nagisa assured her, making everyone laugh.
"Don't you have..."
"...Presents to open?" Fu and Ryo asked.
"O-oh?" Sora looked at her brother, who pointed at the pile under the table.
"You sure do," he agreed.
Sora wandered over to the table and pulled out a gift at random. She opened it up and found a new sketchbook.
"I didn't know what else you'd want," Oba said apologetically.
Sora smiled, because a sketchbook was a fantastic gift. She went through the other gifts one by one: a set of new pencils from Aso; erasers from Torikai; a heavy blanket from Kuga; a large, colourful drawing of a cat from Kate; a guide to local wildlife from Nagisa; a chicken plushie from Hiyori; a miniature easel from Sugyo; a very large cabbage from Fu and Ryo; a CD from Juju; a large set of pencil crayons from Asaka; a collection of framed photographs from Minamo; and several more boxes of tea bags from Daichi.
"Arigato, everybody," Sora thanked quietly.
"Doo itashimashite, Sora-san." "No problem!" "Glad you like it,"
Nagisa was standing by the door. "Hey... Even though it's February, it's pretty nice out there. What do you say we move outside?"
Ao glanced at his sister, who nodded. "Sounds good," he replied. Sugyo helped him move the table outside, and Minamo and Aso carried out the snacks and drinks. Everyone stood around the yard, talking and laughing, and Ao disappeared back inside for a moment.
"Hey, Nee-chan!" he called from the door. Sora looked over to see him holding up a big, tasty-looking cake.
"Oh..." she said in awe as he put it down on the table.
"One more thing," he added, handing her her thermos. She unscrewed the cap and poured in the hot tea, and slowly took a sip.
She looked very happy indeed. "Ahh..." she sighed.
"That's some of the tea that Daichi-sama brought," Ao explained. She turned to Daichi.
"D... Doo itashimashite, Sora-san... You can call me Daichi, you know..." He replied awkwardly.
Sora sipped her tea again, with another contented sigh.
"Hey, Kajiwara-kun!" Asaka called. Ao looked up. "Do you have a radio? We should have music!"
"Ah, sure!" Ao ran toward the back door. "Can someone cut the cake while I get it?" he asked, pointing to the knife that lay beside the cake on the table.
Nagisa lifted the blade. "I'll do it!"
Remembering the pizza ordeal, Juju took it from her hand. "Maybe I'd better do it..." she said, sweatdropping.
As Ao brought the radio outside and plugged it in, Minamo picked up her camera and started snapping shots all around her: Juju cutting the cake, Asaka and Aso dancing around cheerfully, Kate waving her arms in surprise out something Fu and Ryo were telling her, Daichi standing grumpily by the fence. Suddenly Ao was beside her.
"I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out," he said.
"Yeah, it worked out really well!" she agreed, turning to take a photo of him before he even realized what she was doing. He laughed.
"You really love that camera, don't you?"
Aso stopped dancing for a moment and looked around. Daichi was watching suspiciously – she followed his line of sight and saw Ao and Minamo laughing together and immediately understood. Stepping toward the grouch, she said, "You shouldn't worry about it so much."
His eyes flicked toward her for a moment, then he looked back at the middle school students with a grunt. She sighed.
"Ao-kun's a good kid. Maybe you didn't notice, but he takes really good care good his big sister. He's always watching out for her – he's responsible and thoughtful, and pretty mature for his age."
"Yeah. He sometimes goofs off a bit with his friends, but he's still the grownup of the group. I've seen him with them around town – he looks like any regular kid, but he's still well-behaved... And I've never met someone of his age that was so polite and well-mannered."
Finally Daichi pulled his gaze away from them and looked at Aso, albeit dubiously. "I don't know," he admitted. "I just don't quite trust him with my sister."
Aso laughed. "Could well be you don't trust anyone with your sister, Negeshi-san. After all, she's your sister, and no matter what you say, you do care about her. But..." Aso glanced at the two of them and smiled. "If you can't trust Ao-kun, there's no one you can. In fact, if they got together, I'd say congratulations – there's no nicer kid around, and they make a pretty cute couple." Daichi still looked doubtful. She sighed and shook her head, chuckling. "Whatever, Negeshi-san. Just think on it, all right?" She walked away and rejoined Asaka and the others.
Daichi looked back at his sister and her friend, to discover that they were now standing by the table. Ao was handing her a paper plate with a slice of cake on it, and it looked like she couldn't be happier. He sighed. "It looks like Aso-san is right..." he mumbled as his sister ran to the other side of the yard, camera in hand. He stepped toward the table. "Hey, Ao-kun!" he called. "Grab a piece for me?"
Sora still wasn't sure what to think of this whole situation. She tried one more time to mentally sort out what had happened: she had come home from her Sunday walk and Ao gave her a karaoke machine. She sang a song on the karaoke machine. All her friends had heard her sing, because they had been hiding, and when she finished singing, they came into the room and clapped for her. Then they said happy birthday and gave her presents. Then everyone went outside and there was cake and tea.
"I still don't understand it..." She complained quietly.
Kuga came toward her, waving an empty plastic cup. "There's no juice left," she said drily. Ao, who had been standing nearby, overheard her.
"I can go get some more!" he offered. He started to run toward the house, looking at them over his shoulder. He turned his head forward just in time to see that he was about to collide with-
Minamo was looking down at her camera to change the setting to video. She pressed the shutter button and lifted her camera, peering through the viewfinder. She looked over the camera and gasped as she saw-
He crashed into her, unable to stop himself, and their lips touched. They toppled to the ground, Ao on top, Minamo underneath, her camera tumbling to one side, forgotten. Faces pressed together, they stared into each other's wide eyes, blushing deeply but unable to move.
Everything around them stopped, everybody stared. Sora moved to the front of the crowd, intending to help her brother, but paused, because Daichi was already there. To everyone's surprise (or shock), he calmly pulled the two of them up to stand, pushing them a couple of feet apart. They stood stock-still, flushed and wide-eyed. Daichi moved first to his sister, silently sweeping dirt off her back, then picking up her camera and hanging it around her neck. Then he went to Ao, brushing off the younger boy's sleeves. So quietly that only Ao could hear him, he said, "You know, that's really not the best way to go about kissing a girl... I'd try something more like this."
Everyone watched him, barely breathing, as he straightened up, turned to Sora, grabbed her by the arm, pulled her forward, and kissed her. She froze in his arms, face burning, and for a moment, time seemed to stop.
Suddenly the spell broke and Minamo started to giggle, unable to hold it in. Ao, seeing that his sister was shocked and incredibly embarrassed but not upset, started to laugh in spite of himself. The laughter spread into the rest of the group; Aso cheered loudly and Kate followed suit. "I suppose I was wrong about Kuga-san and Daichi-san," Hiyori mumbled in confusion. "...Oh well!" she joined in the cheering.
"D-D-Daichi-sama..." Sora managed after a moment. He had to lean close to hear her over the growing sound of excited chatter, as people paid less and less attention to them.
"Happy birthday, Sora-chan."
"B-b-but w-why did you k-kiss me...?"
His smile was unexpectedly patient, and... Charming. "Aishiteru, Sora-chan."
Her face got even redder, if that was possible. "Re- real- really?"
"I, um, I, I, um, I," Sora stuttered, apparently unable to form a sentence. Daichi started to look just a little bit worried. "I, um, um, um..." Suddenly she looked like she'd made a huge realization, and she leaned forward and kissed him. He looked surprised, but happy. She pulled away, still blushing, but satisfied. "Ai... Aishiteru, Daichi-kun,"
Minamo and Ao, who were the only ones still watching them, looked at each other and blushed again.
"So, um," Ao started awkwardly.
"Yeah, uh," Minamo replied. She fiddled with her camera, and gasped. "It's- it's still recording," she realized. She hit the shutter button to stop it, then went back to view the video. After a moment, she mumbled, "That's either ridiculously lucky or ridiculously unlucky... Or both."
Ao furrowed his eyebrows. "What?"
She looked up at him, flushed. "Somehow, it managed to catch us... Er, kissing... And them kissing."
Ao bit his lip. "Um, yeah, see, it's good with them being happy and all, but, um, what about- um, I mean, what do you- er..." he trailed off.
"Ummm... It's not... I mean," She blushed brightly, then reached for his hand. "I, um, don't- don't really mind, so much..."
He pulled away in surprise, and she bit her lip – hard. He closed his eyes tightly for a moment, then opened them again and took her hand, face burning. "I... I don't mind so much, either."
She gasped, then threw herself at him in an ecstatic hug. Taken by surprise, he nearly lost his balance, but managed to stay upright and hug her back. "Arigato, Ao-kun!" she cried.
"Doo itashimashite, Minamo-chan." He smiled slightly, resting his chin on top of her head.
"Hey, that's not fair," she complained playfully.
"You're so much taller than me..."
"I could get you a stool," he offered. She laughed.
The rest of the party was somewhat uneventful in comparison to the first half, but considerably entertaining. People certainly had something to talk about – 'Who would've thought that Daichi-san liked Sora-chan?' 'What're the chances that both of the Negeshis would get together with both of the Kajiwaras?' 'They were kissing! They kissed!' Daichi and Sora both seemed unexpectedly content throughout the afternoon, and when he noticed Ao and Minamo holding hands, he only smiled inwardly and wished them the best. He wasn't so calm all the time, though; when Hiyori asked about Kuga, he got very annoyed for a while, Kuga drily explained that while she didn't dislike him, neither did she particularly like him, and nothing ever would have happened between them. Finally Hiyori was satisfied, and she went on to tell Kate the dramatic story of P-chan's extravagant love life.
Ao gradually got used to the feeling of Minamo's warm hand in his own, for it was there often. Eventually he even stopped blushing, partly due to her insistence that he needn't be embarrassed any longer. She took dozens of pictures for the remainder of the afternoon, explaining that this was a day she wanted to remember as well as she could. She was thrilled to have a video that captured the most significant happenings of the last few hours, though she carefully avoided telling her brother about it – she suspected that he would not be pleased to know that his out-of-character behaviour had been caught on film.
The end of the day finally came, and people began to leave in ones and twos, smiles on their faces. Finally only the Negeshis and the Kajiwaras remained, the former not wanting to leave but not wanting to overstay their welcome, either. As Daichi and Sora stood facing each other, searching fruitlessly for words, Minamo pulled Ao aside.
"Doo itashimashite, but what for?"
"For asking for my help in the first place. I can't think of a better outcome."
He grinned. "Maybe it was all Fate that I should ask for your help, so that it would turn out this way... Or maybe it was just luck."
"I don't care, I'm just glad you did." she told him. She looked thoughtfully at him for a moment, then closed her eyes and stood on her tiptoes, pulling him down by his hands to kiss him. His own eyes flew wide, but he kissed her back. While it lasted only a moment before they pulled apart, it was one of the best moments all day.
Minamo then glanced at the other couple, who were floundering helplessly in the lack of conversation. "Neither of them are very good with words, are they?"
"Not really," Ao answered with a chuckle. "Shall we go rescue them?"
"I suppose so... Older siblings take so much looking after, don't they?"
Hands linked, they walked back toward the other two. "Good night, Ao-kun... See you in class tomorrow," Minamo said.
"Night, Minamo-chan, see you." Ao replied, kissing her on the cheek.
"Yeah, um, see you tomorrow, Sora-chan..." Daichi said awkwardly.
"Hai, um... Sayonara..." Sora responded quietly. They stared at each other for a moment longer, then Daichi stiffly leaned forward to kiss her, then turned around and followed his sister out. Minamo waved and Ao waved back, Sora smiling slightly and Daichi not knowing what he should be doing.
As they walked out of sight and Ao closed the front door, Sora said, "That was a good surprise party."
Her brother nodded. "You weren't the only one who got surprised, either," he added. They looked at each other and smiled.
"Definitely a good party," they agreed.
Arigato - thank you
Doo itashimashite - you're welcome
Hai - yes
Onee/Nee - equivalent to 'sis'
Onii/Nii - equivalent to 'bro'
Aishiteru - I'm in love with you
Sayonara - goodbye
(tell me if I missed one!)
Summer Song translation-
The sun is on my side because you're waving to me, suntanned and all
Have been anticipating this, diving like a mermaid into the season of promises
In a corner of the school grounds the sunflowers are blooming
Just being shy will look uncool
To the extent of wanting to yell into the blue sky now I'm thinking of you
Summer is here so let's go to the sea
Though there may be days where we stop in our tracks and feel lost just for a second
Meeting you and laughing together
The summer holidays are beginning lan la lan la
Because true emotions are reflected upon the back of my running figure.
It shimmers on the other side of my T-shirt just like magic
Your words which are being drown out by the sounds of the fireworks, dissolve into the night breeze
Can't hear the important details but I seem to know what it is
Ah long long long time I have been longing for this
Youth is something which is a teeny bit mean isn't it
Meeting you and laughing together
The summer holidays are beginning lan la lan la
Sitting on the sandy shores
Both of us taking notice of the time
Hearing the sound of the waves and being unable to make any promise at all
Definitely will feel nostalgic someday
Can't depend on the future written in the sand
Meeting you and laughing together
"It's a bright red-blue"
Becausesummer is here we came to the sea
Don't wish to forget that sky where the rainbow has formed
Meeting you and laughing together
The summer holidays are beginning lan la lan la
There you go! Hope you liked it. Drop a review, please?