Title: Arpeggio
Pairing(s)
: Mio/Ritsu, obviously
Rating
: T (I'll change it to M later. No, this time I'm not trolling you…Maybe. =3)
Summary
: Sequel to Adagio. Most of the group are about to enter their last stage of high school, Mio and Ritsu are finally together, and Azusa's going to be the club leader for a year. Oh, and there's music. Of course.
Chapters
: Who knows? Looking at my notes, it seems I'm planning to have several.
Notes
: Ah, the sequel. On the keyboard, I'm quite fond in abusing broken chords. On ff .net, I'm inadvertently fond in breaking my personal record in chapter delays. That's my brief explanation for the random title—okay, it's more of my pathetic attempt in keeping all my K-ON! fic titles beginning with 'A'. Onward with the story, yeah?

Oh, and have fun with the backing and forthing on the timeline in this chapter. Just for this chapter. Because, well, I'm not gonna drag this one out too.

ooooo

"Excuse me for the intrusion!"

"Ah, Mio-neechan!"

Mio, who was slipping off her shoes at the entryway, looked up to see a grinning Tainaka Satoshi.

"Hi Satoshi. Is Ritsu upstairs?"

"Yeah." Satoshi leaned forward and lowered his voice into a conspiratorial whisper. "And guess what?"

Mio blinked, wondering what the youngest Tainaka was up to. She decided to go along and amuse him. "What?" she whispered back.

"I've been finding it weird that she's stopped bothering me—taking my manga and never giving it back—so I crept into her room this morning…."

Mio raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"

"…and she was reading shoujo." His exclamation was filled with such shock and dread, it was as if he had caught her smoking.

Mio dropped her act in feigning interest. "Really?"

Satoshi nodded solemnly.

"That's," Mio said slowly, "quite … shocking."

They shared a moment of silence, mourning over their broken image of the brunette.

Satoshi ended his after the 29 second mark, having spent the previous hour recovering. "By the way, since you're her best friend and that, you probably know if she has a boyfriend, right?"

"Huh? A-A boyfriend?"

"That's what Mum seems to think. She's been on the phone a lot these days too. It's disturbing when I hear her…" He shuddered. "…giggling like a real girl."

Mio fought between the desire to defend the drummer and the urge to crack an amused smile.

Satoshi took one look at Mio's face, and became horrified. "So she does have a boyfriend! What a liar! She kept telling me she doesn't!"

Mio smiled sympathetically and patted him on the head. "Actually, she really doesn't."

"Are you also lying?"

"Why would I lie?"

Satoshi watched Mio head for the staircase. "Mum won't get mad or anything," he added. "I even asked her if she will. She said 'no'. She actually said she wants her to find one as soon as possible."

Mio stopped at the first step. "Really?"

"Really."

Mio turned around to face the boy. "And why are you so interested?"

Satoshi shrugged and grinned. "'Cause if she does, I can tease her!"

So it's a sibling thing.

Mio, who was the only child and seemed to be seen as a sisterly figure in Satoshi's and Azusa's eyes, did not fully understand that concept. Especially since she was also someone who possessed a personality that lacked an interest in doing such things.

She recalled her other band members.

Then again…maybe it's a friend thing, too.

"I see," she said finally.

When Mio started to ascend the stairs yet again, Satoshi asked his last question.

"Are you really sure she doesn't? ! She might be lying to you too!"

"Trust me!" Mio shouted over her shoulder. "She really doesn't!"

She heard him grumble in disappointment. Chuckling, she made a bee-line to Ritsu's room and opened the door.

"Ritsu, where's my card?"

Tainaka Ritsu, who was sitting on her bed, looked up from the manga she was reading. "What card?" she asked.

Mio glanced at the manga title.

Oh, it's shounen.

Almost sighing in relief for some unnamed reason, Mio leant against the doorjamb and crossed her arms. "Book card."

"What bo—"

"For the book shop at the mall."

Ritsu looked back at her manga. "It's in my wallet."

"Same place?"

"Same place."

Mio strode into the room and stopped at Ritsu's desk. She pulled out the first drawer, lightened up, and picked up Ritsu's wallet without needing to rustle through miscellaneous items. She opened it and, at once, saw her card. Relieved, Mio was about to let out her well-practised speech, that consisted of 'remember to give stuff that aren't yours back, you fool', until she saw something else, and stared.

She felt her jaw drop.

She stared for another three seconds before she turned around and slapped the wallet onto Ritsu's face.

"Oi! What are you doing—"

"What's this doing here? !"

"What? I can't even see—"

"Did Mugi give it to you? !"

Ritsu scooted back on her bed so she could get a proper look at what Mio was raging about.

In the photo window of Ritsu's wallet was a picture of Akiyama Mio, taken at last year's Christmas Eve.

Wearing a skimpy Santa costume.

"Oh," Ritsu said.

"'Oh'? That's all you can say?"

"Why are you so angry at me? It's—"

"I'm not angry at you!"

"—not like I'd sold copies of it."

"You what? !"

Ritsu's eyes widened. She scooted back again. Mio had suddenly grown a foot taller.

"Hey, hey! Not! I said 'not'! I didn't sell any!"

ooo

Mio pointed accusingly at Kotobuki Tsumugi.

"You said you took them out!"

Tsumugi smiled pleasantly. "I did take them out."

Mio opened her mouth to retort.

"And I gave them to your girlfriend," her friend added.

Mio was agape.

Definitely a friend thing, too.

She tried to throw back a single, coherent sentence—"Why would you give it to—? !", "What can she do with—? !", "Why—? !"—but stopped. None of the objections that failed to fully pass her lips were logical. She ultimately sighed.

"Mugi…?"

"Yes, Mio-chan?"

"You could've…."

"Yes?"

"…Told me. Beforehand."

Tsumugi gave an apologetic smile. "I would've, but I couldn't."

"What do you mean?"

"Well … it was during winter break."

Winter break. The time when Ritsu was practising the guitar diligently at home, even during her flu, and Mio didn't have a clue.

"Oh," Mio said. She looked at Tsumugi suspiciously. "Is there anything else you need to tell me?"

Tsumugi shook her head. "No."

"Anything at all?"

There was another shake of the head. "No."

Mio's suspicions did not die quickly. "Okay."

"Please believe me, Mio-chan."

Mio stared at Tsumugi. Tsumugi stared back with puppy eyes.

Mio sighed. "I believe you."

Tsumugi beamed. "Thank you."

Mio looked around her room.

Books were on the floor and kicked under the bed, clothes were over her chair, and her table was a mess. It was break again and she had not yet cleaned up her room. Considering Typhoon Ritsu had a habit in circling around her house every other day, she had given up on organising her room after each hit and settled on doing it on Sunday mornings.

…she was slacking off.

''What's wrong?"

Mio looked up from her palm—she must've had connected her face to her hand at some point—and gave a confused face at Tsumugi. "Nothing's wrong."

Tsumugi's eyebrows knitted in worry. "Um, you kind of groaned and your face has a handprint now. Am I imposing on you? Should I leave?" She had already picked up her bag and was making her way to the door.

"No-no-no. Come back, Mugi. It's not you." Tsumugi settled her bag by the door and stood still. "It's just—my room's a mess. I'm starting to get lazy when we're about to enter third year…."

Tsumugi looked over at Mio's table where several textbooks and notebooks were in complete disarray. "You're not lazy," she said delicately, "You're just getting busier so you don't have much time on other things."

Mio also looked over at her table. "You think?"

"Yes, so you shouldn't worry too much. You're still able to find your stuff, yes?"

"Well, sometimes it takes a while to find something I need. But I guess I … eventually find it."

"There you go."

Mio nodded dully, and continued to stare at her desk. She couldn't even spot her laptop from where she sat. She usually could.

"My room's also a mess," Tsumugi admitted. "This year is going to be long."

"…Yeah, it is."

Mio felt the bed underneath her slump, and she guessed that Tsumugi was feeling comfortable again.

"Was it Ricchan who asked you out?"

Too comfortable.

Mio gave Tsumugi an appraising look. "You were waiting to ask me that, weren't you?"

Tsumugi could only smile in response.

ooo

Mio laid down her pen and picked up her ringing phone. She checked the call ID before lifting it to her ear.

"Ritsu?"

"Hey, Mio!" Ritsu's voice was pain-stricken. "You didn't tell me she died!"

Mio's heart stopped.

"What did you say?"

"She died, and you didn't tell me!"

"Who—I don't know anyone that—please start from the beginning!"

"Yui. I thought she was—"

"Yui?" Mio repeated. She felt cold all over and didn't hear what else Ritsu had said. "What happened to Yui? ! I just saw her today—"

"But she just suddenly died! And—"

"What? ! How?" She shook her head violently. "No, don't tell me! Oh … god, how's … Ui going to—how are we—"

"What about Ui?"

Mio paused. She was starting to feel odd.

"Ui. Yui's sister?"

"Yui has a sister named Ui?"

Mio blinked.

She sighed and rubbed her temples, relaxing.

"Did you just watch 'Taiyou no Uta'?"

"Yeah."

"Hm."

"Didn't I tell you yesterday I was gonna borrow it?"

"You must have forgotten," Mio grounded out.

"Oh, sorry. But yeah, the movie's all right actually."

"I'm going to hang up now."

"Wait, Mio!"

"What?"

"Tomorrow's Sunday."

"Do you know who you're talking to?"

"Go out with me, Mio?"

Mio buried her face with her free hand.

"Did you hear me?"

"You … it took you five days to ask me that?"

"Shut up. It's not like you're gonna ask me."

Mio cringed. "Well … I could, but, um."

"See? So, is it a yes or not?"

"What do you think?"

"Uh…."

"…."

"I guess it's a no—"

"It's a yes! Geez, did I even need to answer?"

"I shouldn't have asked, then!"

ooo

"Well, Ricchan must've had a lot of things on her mind," Tsumugi said, trying to defend her friend, "and maybe she couldn't bring herself to ask you personally."

Mio frowned, feeling a little guilty for expecting too much.

"And how was the date?"

Mio's frown deepened and the little guilt vanished. "She forced me to watch a horror movie. At the cinema."

"Oh," Tsumugi said. She then blinked, leaned to the side and stared at Mio.

"Mugi?"

"You've gotten better, Mio-chan."

"Huh?"

"You're not pale. You seem fine."

"Oh. Yeah…." Mio smiled, which slowly grew as the realisation fully hit her. "I don't feel faint. Maybe I am getting better!"

Tsumugi looked uncertain. "Should I ask what the name of the movie was?"

Mio's smile became lopsided. "Um, the name?"

"Yes."

"Umm…."

"Is something wrong?"

Mio looked down, picking at the lint on her bed. "…I don't know the name."

"…."

"…."

"…Mio-chan?"

Mio looked up. "Yeah?"

Tsumugi's eyes were contemplative. "Did you cover your eyes throughout the movie?"

Mio went pink. "Well," she said slowly, "I had my jacket."

Tsumugi carefully paused before asking her next question.

"Was this jacket over your head?"

"…."

After a moment, Mio nodded reluctantly.

Tsumugi paused again.

"And were you listening to your iPod with maximum volume?"

Mio bit her lip and didn't meet Tsumugi's eyes. "Ritsu didn't force me to, um, actually watch it this time," she said instead.

"Ah."

"She knows I'd hurt her if she did … why are you giggling?"

Tsumugi was indeed giggling. She was covering her mouth, but her shaking shoulders were a huge giveaway.

Not to mention that she didn't bother in smothering the sounds.

"You two are so adorable!"

Mio frowned as she felt her cheeks warm up once again.

"So where's Ricchan?

"She's probably coming over soo—"

The door flung open and Ritsu tumbled in. "Yay! It's meee—oh, Mugi. Hey!"

"Hello."

"Mio, you didn't tell me she's gonna be over."

Mio sighed. "You didn't tell me you were gonna be over."

Ritsu shrugged. "I'm different."

"Sorry for not informing you, Ricchan. I came over because I wanted to see Mio-chan's new song."

Ritsu puffed out her chest proudly, hands on her hips. "Same here!" She turned to the lyricist of the group. "We need to add the drums in, Mio!"

"It's me that actually does the adding," Mio muttered.

"Hey, I did add something before!"

"…You're not talking about the cymbals, are you?"

"What? That's an important element."

"Too much and it'll drown out the other instruments!"

"Too little and it'll sound boring."

"You mean it'll be boring for you. You always like to smash them."

"Same difference!"

"No, it isn't!"

They stopped when they heard laughter erupt from their friend. They frowned.

Tsumugi wiped the tears of mirth from her eyes. When she met their questioning gaze, she smiled.

"I strangely feel like a proud mother," she said.

They spluttered, eyes widening.

"Ehh? !"

ooo

"Sorry, Mio, I won't do it again."

Ritsu received a disbelieving glare.

"You're not sorry," Mio said, "and you will do it again."

"Wrong. I am sorry, but yeah, I'll probably do it again."

The glare intensified.

Ritsu looked ahead. Her eyes scanned through all the shops until it landed on one that held a universally recognised, pink sign.

She grabbed Mio's hand.

"Let's go to AMX!" she suggested. She didn't wait for Mio's consent and was already pulling her towards the store. Fortunately for her, Mio was still frail from the horror movie and didn't say anything more than a, "What? Okay."

They entered and Ritsu did an onceover of the CDs displayed on the front rack before striding onwards. "My, my. Who released this week again?"

"Hm?"

"Who released this week?"

"They were right there, Ritsu."

"They're all pop garbage. I meant the ones we actually listen to."

Ritsu saw how Mio's lips seem to quirk at that. She blinked.

"What was that?"

Mio was a couple of steps ahead of her, browsing the old releases. She apparently hadn't heard her.

Ritsu awkwardly squeezed her way through a few people in between and fell back into step. She tapped Mio on the shoulder. "Oi, did you hear me?"

"Hm?" Mio didn't move her eyes away from the CDs.

"What're you looking for?"

"…Nothing in particular."

"Sure? I can help, you know."

"It's nothing."

Mio continued to stare at something that wasn't her. Ritsu bit the inside of her cheek and walked off to another aisle.

Several minutes later, she returned and tapped Mio on the shoulder again.

"Hmm?" Mio turned around. "What is it?"

Ritsu showed her a DVD she had procured from the Horror section, and was quickly punched.

"Ow…!"

Rubbing her arm, Ritsu opened her eyes to see Mio staring daggers at her.

But she was looking at her, so she smiled.

"What were you looking at?" Ritsu asked.

Mio frowned. "Besides the thing you just showed me?" She pointed a thumb over her shoulder. "That."

Shoving her hands into her pockets, Ritsu took a few steps forward, lowered her head and scrutinised at what Mio meant by 'that'.

"Huh … 'SCANDAL'?"

"I just discovered them," Mio said. "I'm trying to decide whether to get a single or their album. I really shouldn't spend too much, so…."

Ritsu pulled out a few CDs and skimmed over their track lists and covers.

She tried not to laugh.

"Never knew you got a school girl fetish. Why are they all wearing their uniforms," a giggle burst out of her, "on every single cover?"

Mio went red. "How would I know? ! And I do not! Their music's—"

"Oh hey, I'm a school girl, too…."

"You just realised? !"

"…I'm kinda hungry now."

"You just ate a large popcorn at the cinema…."

"That was the main meal. Need some dessert now. Anyway, why don't you get this?"

She handed Mio a CD. Mio raised an eyebrow and skimmed its title before looking back up at Ritsu.

"'Yumemiru Tsubasa'. So that's why you're hungry…."

"Mhmm, craving some of those right now."

"You've been eating junk food after junk food. Lessen up, will you? It's unhealthy."

"You're not my mother."

"No, but I—"

"Excuse me," came a stranger's voice.

Ritsu turned, saw she was in the way and sidestepped. "Sorry," she muttered. She turned back to Mio. "What were you saying?"

"Nothing. It's nothing." Mio flipped the CD over and read the track list. "Actually…I'll get this. Thanks."

"Ohh, it's no problem. Tainaka Ritsu is always at your service!"

She didn't receive an answer. Mio seemed to be lost in her own little world as she paid at the register. Ritsu frowned.

What's up with her?

Just as she was going to voice those thoughts out loud, they exited the store and were greeted with loud shrills.

Mio jumped a foot from the ground, whipping her head from side to side. "W-What's happening?" she gasped. "I-It's not us, is it?"

Ritsu looked helplessly at her. She could feel the burning stares from passers-by and Mio was getting more bewildered and embarrassed as the shrills continued. Shoving her hands into her jacket pockets, she swung around to meet an approaching store employee—and blinked.

She cringed.

She had forgotten to return the DVD.

ooo

Mio covered her mouth and nose, coughing as the dust danced in the air after years of neglect.

Regretting her decision to not wear a mask beforehand, she wiped her nose, smudging it with dark dust, and continued to sweep the bedside table with the feather duster. She hummed as she slid the duster between the wall and the back of the furniture, and subconsciously hoped a spider wouldn't leap out.

As if summoned, what looked to be a stick-like leg poked out and she immediately smacked it several times with the flyswatter she held in her other hand.

It turned out to be a piece of thread.

She growled and continued to clean quietly, not in the mood for further humming.

Hmm … I hear drums.

She straightened up and perked her ears.

Drums?

When she recognised the beat, she dropped her things and dashed to her room. Her phone was ringing.

She cleared her throat and tried to even her breathing before she picked it up.

"Hello?"

"Hey, Mio! What took you so long? I had to ring, like, three times."

"Sorry, I was doing something."

"…You sound strange. Were you napping or something?"

"Huh? No I was—"

"Oh! I know now. You were touching yourse—"

"I was not! Geez! I was in the guest room. I left my phone here—my room—so that's why I didn't hear you."

"You wanted to hear me? Aww, you could have—"

"Finish that line and I'm hanging up."

"Fine, fine. Anyway, so are you coming?"

"What? ! I thought I said that—"

"Huh? I only asked—oh shit—no, I didn't mean that! I meant as in over—coming over. To the arcade! You know—I told you yesterday—don't hang up!"

"The arcade…? Oh. Oh, I remember now. But, what? We just went there yesterday. I thought you're broke."

"I wanna play DrumMamire! I'm so pissed that that nerd plays better than me! I bet he hasn't played on a real drum set before."

"He has better rhythm than you."

"…Thanks for rubbing it in."

"Anyway, I can't. I need to clean out the guest room."

"Oh, was that what you were doing?"

"Yeah, Grandma's coming over tomorrow."

"Where're your parents?"

"Out."

"Okay."

"Sorry, Ritsu. Maybe the day after tomorrow?"

The other end of the line went quiet. Mio looked at her phone and saw the call had ended. She growled.

She did not just hang up on me.

Ten minutes later, after she had wrestled her fear in opening the guest room closet, the phone began to ring again. This time, though, she had kept it in her pocket.

"Ritsu."

"Hey, open the front door!"

"What…? Oh … geez."

ooo

Before Mio could see her, Ritsu made sure she looked positively dashing. Confident pose? Check. Cheeky smile? Check. Hair down? Check.

There was a click. The door slid open. Mio peeked out, took one sweeping look at her—and slid the door closed.

Ritsu stuck her foot out and ended up hitting the door. "Hey! Lemme in!"

"Don't kick!" The door slid open again. "Why are you even here? I told you I'm busy."

"Lemme help! It'll be quicker that way."

Mio's eyes narrowed.

Ritsu blinked. "What?"

The taller girl opened the door wider and gestured the other in. "Just go and read manga or something."

Ritsu shot her a dark look as she kicked off her shoes. "You think I'll hold you up, don't you? !"

Mio knelt down and arranged the shoes neatly. "I know you're going to." As she stood up, Ritsu stepped forward and gave her a quick kiss on the mouth, almost knocking her off-balance. Ritsu was pushed back.

"Ritsu!"

"What?"

"Don't do that so suddenly."

Ritsu lifted an eyebrow. "Okay, then." She stepped onto the raised platform and leaned in slowly, enjoying how Mio became more flustered the closer she moved in. "Why don't you kiss me this time?"

"Me?"

"Well. Yeah. What's stopping you?"

Mio's hand appeared in her sight, brushing her unruly hair out of the way. Ritsu refrained from raising the other eyebrow and stared.

"I'm waiting," Ritsu said.

"Close your eyes."

"Huh?"

"I can't do it unless you close your eyes."

"Fine, fine."

As soon as she did, she felt warm lips on hers, and there was an overwhelming warmth in her chest that grew familiar. She smiled—a smile that soon faded as the kiss deepened. Holding back a moan as Mio's tongue boldly mapped her mouth, she kissed back just as fervently.

By the time they had pulled apart, Mio's face was evenly red and her lips were swollen.

Ritsu swallowed the growing laughter. The last time she had laughed, she didn't get a kiss for a week. She was a fast learner.

"Uh," Ritsu started to say, having felt the silence was too prolonged, "there's something on your nose, by the way."

"Huh?" Mio's voice was breathy. She rubbed her nose and glanced at her hand. "Oh, I must've wiped it there when I was cleaning…."

"Yeah, about that—"

"No, you're still not helping."

"Damnit! You're gonna take eons."

"It'll be supereons if you 'helped'."

"Doesn't that mean we also live that long?"

Mio smiled bashfully and clasped her hands with Ritsu's. "…I guess so."

Ritsu grinned at the sudden hand holding. "So, does that mean—"

"I bought the latest volume of this shoujo manga I've been reading."

Ritsu's stomach was suddenly heavy. She narrowed her eyes. "What…?"

"I have the latest volume. Of that manga you kept on teasing me about."

Is she giving me a free shot?

"And why are you telling me this?"

Mio shrugged and led her upstairs. "I don't know."

Ritsu shook her head, as if she was trying to clear her mind. "That was way too random … you know how I feel about that kind of stuff."

"I saw one in your room."

Ritsu stopped.

"…You're kidding."

Her hand was pulled forward. She pulled it back.

"Hey, we're on the stairs! Don't do that!"

"You looked at my stuff? !"

"Maybe, maybe not. Now c'mon."

"I wanna go home now."

"No, you don't."

"No, I don't. But I am."

Ritsu took a step back. Mio squeezed her hand and made her stay put.

"I'll finish in a couple of hours, maybe less. We can go to the arcade after."

"…Really?"

"Really."

"Cool."

Mio turned to the front and Ritsu could almost see her roll her eyes. "You're so bothersome."

"Yet you still love me."

"…Yeah."

Ritsu grinned.

Before she was dumped—left in Mio's room, Ritsu received a glass of barley tea and a warning that she should not creep up to her whilst she was cleaning. Ritsu gave a thumbs-up and nodded vigorously, she would not leave the room unless she was told so. Mio nodded back and returned to the guest room.

After she finished her drink, Ritsu flopped onto the bed and stared at the ceiling.

I'm bored … maybe I should scare—no, I promised I wouldn't. Maybe I should read manga … but it's all shoujo—I can't believe she managed to find them…!

Ritsu sat up and did a three-sixty inspection of the room with half-lidded eyes. She jumped off the bed.

Let's start with this!

Ritsu opened Mio's wardrobe and peered in. Clothes that were not hung up lay on the floor. She rummaged through them, hoping to find something she could blackmail the other girl with.

At the back corner of the wardrobe, her hand met something rough and solid. She stuck her head in and pushed some clothes to the side, revealing a box.

She squinted.

It was a box labelled, "Do not touch," in black marker.

Ritsu, being Ritsu, did the exact opposite.

The box contained notebooks and picture books. She didn't bother taking out the latter, knowing they were full of fairytales, but pulled out the others and pored over them.

"Today is children's day," Ritsu read aloud, "so I saw a carp flag flying over my neighbour's house—huh, diaries? She kept her old diaries in here?"

She dropped the diary and picked up the next notebook. Even as a child, Mio's handwriting was neat, linear, and small. Even on the pages that lacked lines, giving enough permission for her—Tainaka Ritsu—to write as big as she possibly could, Mio's writing continued to be tiny.

Impatient, she flipped to the end of the notebook and hoped there was something more interesting there. A page headlined "My Goals" caught her eye, making her flick back so she could read it.

Her mouth went dry.

"Ritsu…!"

The called girl hastily threw the book into the box and leapt for the door. "Yeah, Mio? What's up?"

"Come over! T-There's a bug!"

Ritsu ran back, piled the rest of the items into her arms and dropped them into the box. She quickly placed it inside, rearranged the clothes and closed the wardrobe. "Be right there!" she yelled over her shoulder.

Better ask her later about it…

ooo

"I can't believe Ui's a second year now!"

Ui smiled. "Time really goes fast. You're already on your third year, Onee-chan."

Yui nodded, causing her bed hair to become more dishevelled. Ui fell back a step, slipped out the always available brush in her pocket and used it on her sister's hair.

"Did you sleep well?" Ui asked.

Yui shook her head—"Onee-chan, stay still!—and replied, "I kept on thinking how it's school again, so I tried to stay awake and cherish the last minutes of freedom."

"That isn't good, you need your rest. Don't you have to perform at the first year reception tomorrow?"

Yui's eyes widened. "You're right! I'd forgotten about that!"

ooo

"You've forgotten about the auditorium usage form again, didn't you? !"

Several fellow train riders turned and stared. Mio's face burned as she bowed her head. "Sorry," she mumbled.

Ritsu snickered.

Mio's hardened eyes darted to her. Ritsu stiffened.

"And what are you laughing about?" Mio demanded in a harsh whisper.

"Nothing, nothing. And I didn't forget. I'm doing it when we get there. I need to ask the others about something important before I can fill it out."

Mio arched an eyebrow. "…Really?"

Ritsu nodded. "Yup. Really."

I hope I left it in my bag last semester…

"Anyway," Ritsu began, literally waving off the last topic, "looking forward to seeing which classes we'll be in?"

Mio blanched. "No," she replied shortly.

ooo

"So you're gonna stay out here?"

"Yup," Mio said resolutely. "The sakura are looking nice today, so I'd like to stay outside for a while."

Ritsu shifted her weight onto one leg and placed a hand on her hip. "It really won't be—"

"No."

"Fine then. I'll be back."

Mio nodded, turned on her heel and made a pointed stare at the sakura trees. The day was clear, leaving the sun unobscured and the sky blinding. She lifted her head and closed her eyes, letting a few falling petals tickle her cheeks.

Third year, huh.

Mio looked over her shoulder for the tree next to the building entrance.

Ritsu had already disappeared.

She frowned and fixed her gaze back towards the sakura trees before her. It was a gaze that went through. She wouldn't have remembered it at that moment, but she was behaving the same way as the Mio from three years ago. Holding her chin high and keeping her hands close to her chest, as if hiding how the organ in her ribcage was pulling an all out frenzy. By all appearances, Mio was calm and collected and was admiring nature to her heart's content.

"Mio!"

Mio jumped. She jumped even higher when a hand fell onto her shoulder.

Ritsu's laughing face came into view. "It's only me. Anyway…!"

After choking out a few inaudible curses, Mio asked quietly, "So…which class?"

"Guess."

Mio's brow creased. "I'm not in the mood to guess."

"Okay, I'll give you a hint: we've had the same class before."

Mio's brow furrowed even further. "…Ritsu. Unless we'd entered a time machine and I somehow didn't know—"

"I meant the class name."

"Huh?"

"Think back to junior high, why don't cha?"

"What are you talking—junior high?" Mio frowned and rubbed her temple. "What class were we in that's the same as..." She blinked.

"C'mon, you're getting there."

"3-2?"

Ritsu continued to grin cheekily.

"Look," Mio pointed, quite literally, as she poked Ritsu on the chest, "I told you that I'm not in the—wait, we're in the same class?"

Ritsu's grin fell. "Crap," she muttered, "I gave that part away."

"You could have just told me from the beginning, you idiot!"

Ritsu ducked from Mio's swinging fist. "H-hey, hold up! There's more!"

ooo

"You're all in the same class?" Azusa asked in awe. "That's … really…."

Yui giggled and rocked back and forth on her seat. "Sawa-chan-sensei's our homeroom teacher," she gushed.

"Ah." Azusa's grip on her teacup was dangerously loose. "…So that's why."

"So what class are you in, Azu-nyan?"

"…2-3."

Yui's happy smile froze. "Oh," she choked out.

Ritsu, who wasn't there to check the second year class arrangements, went ahead and asked, "And what class is Ui in?"

Azusa lowered her head and sipped on her tea morosely.

"2-2…."

Silence befell the club room as déjà-vu overcame four of its regular members.

Azusa attempted a smile. "It's okay, really, I met an old family friend."

The silence continued to reign.

"She's deciding to join the Jazz Club," Azusa added. "Though she told me if no one joins the Light Music Club next year, she might change."

Ritsu crossed her arms. "Oh, right. I forgot that you'll be alone after we graduate."

Azusa nodded. "So we'd better practise today for the performance tomorrow," she said, with a tiny bit of hope and distress injected in her voice.

Mio patted her arm sympathetically.

Tsumugi came around their tables, settled a plate of sweets for each and a basket of cookies at the centre. "Time travels so fast," she commented. "We're already filling out a university choice form."

Yui reached over to grab a few cookies. Ritsu's hand was already there, so she slapped it away unconsciously before she took more than her share.

Ritsu bristled. "Hey, Yui! That's mine! And you took too much!"

"It's okay, Ricchan, I've got plenty more."

Yui ignored Ritsu's objection and enjoyed her snack. "That's great, Mugi-chan!" she exclaimed in between chews. "These cookies are so addictive and fluffy!"

Azusa threw an exasperated look at Yui before she turned to Tsumugi. "If you don't mind telling us, what did you choose, Mugi-sempai?" she asked.

Tsumugi smiled. "Well, I had two universities in mind. At the end I chose Kyoto Women's University because it's closer."

"Oh, and what was the other one?"

"Japan Women's University."

"Ah…." Why are they all women only institutions…?

"Have you decided on which university you want to go, Azusa-chan?"

"Ah…yes, I have, actually—"

"Already? !" Ritsu and Yui shouted in unison.

"I'm thinking of going to Shiga Uni. of Medical Science."

"Y-you're planning to be a doctor, Azu-nyan?"

"How the heck does Azusa know what to do before me? !"

Azusa pouted. "No, I'm thinking of becoming a nurse." The pout curled into an amused smile. "And should I really answer that, Ritsu-sempai?"

She received an immediate knuckle rub on the head.

"I'm sorry," the second year yelped. "I'm sorry!"

After she was released and she had fixed her hair, Azusa settled her gaze on Mio. "What did you pick, Mio-sempai?"

Ritsu snorted. She rested her hand on Mio's head easily, having stood up to punish her junior. Mio looked up and arched an eyebrow.

"What are you doing?" Mio asked.

"This girl," Ritsu explained, completely ignoring Mio's question, "is doing recommendation."

Azusa gasped in awe.

Ritsu nodded. "That's right, she's gonna be a full-out nerd for these three semest—oww."

"What's recommendation?" Yui asked.

The others blinked at her.

"…You honestly don't know?" Ritsu, rubbing her side, asked back.

Yui nodded.

"Well it's quite embarrassing to say…but the thing is, I'm not good with exams," Mio explained weakly. "I mean, I'm okay with end of term exams. But the really big ones…it's nerve-wracking for me. If I take recommendation, there's a chance I'll be able to take an entrance exam that's easier than usual."

Yui gasped and stood up in shock. "I should pick it too!"

"But it's held earlier and you need to have consistent good marks."

Yui turned pale and sank back into her seat.

"How come everyone's going to university?" she whispered. "Even Nodoka-chan's aiming for Kyoto Uni., but…I thought we're gonna go for Budokan."

"Um." Mio's eyes darted to Ritsu's.

"We are," Azusa reassured her. She turned to the other three. "We'll do a lot of gigs after high school, right?"

They nodded.

"Gig?"

Azusa turned back to Yui and nodded confidently. "Yes, Yui-sempai. We can perform in bars and clubs."

Yui tilted her head. "Don't we have to be over 20 to do that?"

"There are some places where minors are allowed in."

"Why don't we start now then?"

"Um! Uh, that's…well, we already have the school festivals. And we still have high school…."

Yui nibbled on a cookie, she didn't look convinced.

Azusa's appearance faltered as four pairs of eyes fell on her. "Um, realistically, it might be hard to book a performance at this place I frequent but…."

"I can help there, with the booking," Tsumugi chipped in. "We'll start out small first, of course."

Azusa, Mio and Ritsu shuddered, having remembered summer break and villas.

Nevertheless…

"I guess we can still do it!" Yui chirped.

Azusa looked mildly insulted. So her reassurances were nowhere near the level of a single line from Tsumugi, she thought bitterly.

There was another lull of conversation, and Yui retreated to engulfing cookie after cookie.

Ritsu cleared her throat. "So, I called you all here today—"

"We're supposed to be here, anyway," Mio cut in.

"—'cause I decided, why don't we make the band name fancier? Like capitalise it or something?"

"Capitalise it?" Azusa and Tsumugi echoed. Mio merely gave Ritsu a curious look.

"Yeah, I mean, look at all the bands out there. There's X JAPAN, GLAY," Ritsu paused to smirk and look pointedly at Mio, "…SCANDAL."

Mio frowned. She ignored the quip and thought over it. "There's chatmonchy, stereopony and the pillows," she argued. "None of them are capitalised."

"Who the hell's stereopony? Anyway—"

"They've done a collab with YUI."

"—why don't we—see! Even your idol does it. Let's just capitalise the 'teatime' part!"

Yui's attention was caught at the 'teatime' word, having temporarily forgotten what her name was. She finally tuned into the conversation and only munched on her cookies once every third second.

"Ritsu," Mio said calmly, "it's in katakana, tell me how—"

"Change it to roman letters then," Ritsu shrugged.

"What about 'teatime'?" Yui asked.

The others but Tsumugi ignored her. The blonde gave another generous serving of chocolate chipped cookies onto Yui's plate.

Azusa hummed in thought. "Actually," she said tentatively, "that's a surprisingly good idea, Ritsu-sempai."

Ritsu puffed out her chest and smacked it with a fist. "See, I'm—what do you mean by 'surprisingly'?"

Sensing another punishment, Azusa searched around for her guitar case. Her pigtails whipped around as she did so. "Um, should we practise now?" she suggested uneasily, slipping out of her seat.

Ritsu was faster.

"Hey, you midget, you haven't answered…!"

"I'm sorry…!"

Mio watched as Ritsu jumped and tackled the second year.

This is what she meant by 'something important'…?

Predictably, the club room doors burst open. Nodoka flew into the room with a tick in her eye.

"Ritsu! This is getting ridiculous!"

Ritsu's attack slackened and Azusa chose that moment to run away.

"Oh, Nodoka."

Nodoka strode up to Ritsu and pointed her forefinger at her. "When are you ever going to remember?"

ooo

"Ah, third year," Ritsu breathed out, adjusting the school bag on her shoulder. "I'm gonna miss picking on Azusa when we graduate."

She saw how Mio slightly looked the other way. She grinned and reached for her hand.

"You're not jealous, are you?"

"No…not really."

"Really?"

"Just felt…."

"Hnn…?"

"Lonely, a bit."

Ritsu pretended she didn't see how a passer-by seemed to glare towards their way. She laughed nervously—just mildly—and squeezed Mio's hand. "It's good we're in the same class again, right, Mio?"

Mio looked up and stared at her. Her face broke into a genuine smile. "Yeah!"

Ritsu smiled back.

It was truly a blessing they were in the same class again. It was even better that they were surrounded by most of their friends, never mind that it was due to Sawako pulling a few strings.

Like three years ago, Ritsu was going to make sure they weren't going to be separated again. She was going to hold on to Mio. Literally.

Yeah.

Ritsu looked down at their hands.

We were just like this.

ooooo

A/N: I didn't even use a single semicolon! YAY! May this sequel last for a while…I'm not ready to let all these notes die away.

…The ending felt rushed, didn't it? Urk. Well, I decided to release the damn chapter before exams take over me or it'll take another month or so for this chapter to see the light of day…

Notes (?):
Shoujo – literally means girl; (oh fark, here it is) a genre targeted at girls—think chick flicks.
— Yumemiru Tsubasa is the name of some pastry snack. The characters they use are different, but they still sound the same.
— BTW, ironically (well, for this fic), SCANDAL is a fan of K-ON! and has even covered 'Don't say "lazy"'. :O Check their performance on youtube!
— Hohoho, poor Azusa. She's destined to follow Mio's footsteps.
— Bloody university forms. I had to research wtf 'recommendation' was because I'm like Yui there (yeah, I'm following their vague choices in the manga).