DAY 2 – THE PLACE WHERE CHERRY BLOSSOMS BLOOM
I had a dream last night – actually, it was more like a nightmare. I dreamt that I was again trapped inside another closed space and was surrounded by tens of thousands of those gigantic celestials while Haruhi, Asahina-san, Nagato, and Koizumi were standing at the distance. Haruhi was rambling about how this was divine punishment for being an idiot, Asahina-san was waving goodbye and telling me that I deserved to be punished for storing those maid photos of hers in the club computer's hard drive, Yuki was as silent as always, and Koizumi was saying that it was my fault that the world was about to end all while maintaining that irritating smile of his. As I was brushing my teeth I couldn't help but think how real that dream felt. I was pretty shaken up by it to say the least.
I turn on the T.V. in the living room and flip through the channels one after the other but there wasn't anything worth watching. I make my way to the kitchen and prepare breakfast. A cup of coffee and scrambled eggs with a side dish of rice was pretty much what made up my morning meal. As I finished up my plate and start sipping my cup that was now half-empty, I suddenly hear a loud cry from outside. Curious as to what all the ruckus was about I quickly step outside, my half-filled cup still in my hand.
'My bread is just a waste of space, isn't it!'
'I LOVE IT - !'
Right then I see the Furukawa couple that I had met yesterday quickly pass by like a blur. By the looks of things, it might've something to do with Sanae-san's PMD's (Pastry of Mass Destruction). The nearby neighbors who were cleaning the front porch of their houses didn't look to be bothered by the two; they actually seemed rather amused by all of the fuss. It made me think that this scene had been played out so many times that they had gotten used to all the madness. I could only let out a sigh as I thought of how this recurring gag might be a daily occurrence for me during the whole week of my stay here.
'Please wait! Akii! Sanae-san!'
Hold up, isn't that...
'Huh? Oh, it's you Kyon-san. Ohayou gozaimasu.'
She was wearing that same school uniform that I saw yesterday, she was probably on her way to school. But what was she doing chasing after the Furukawas?
"Uh, just out of curiosity, why were you chasing after the Furukawas?"
'About that... well, it's a little complicated but there's nothing to worry about since this is something that my grandparents tend to do on a daily basis. It's become some sort of habit for them.'
What the! Grandparents? Those two?
'By the way Kyon-san, I didn't know that you were staying at Isogai-san's house.'
"She's my Aunt. She asked me to look after her house while she's confined in the hospital so I'll probably be staying here for about a week when she finally gets discharged."
'Is that so?'
"Anyway, I think that you should get going. You don't want to be late for school now, do you?"
'I guess you're right. Well then, I'll be going now Kyon-san.'
I slowly turn around and head back inside the house. As I was about to re-enter, I suddenly hear Ushio's voice calling me from behind.
'Um... I... Kyon-san.'
Something seemed to be troubling her since she looked abashed for some reason, her cheeks glowing a faint red.
"What is it?"
'I... Um... You see today is our school festival, s-so I wanted to invite you to c-come with me. It's not like a d-date or anything like that! I was just thinking that it would be a nice way for you to get around. O-Of course if you're busy then I understand.'
"Well, yeah. Sure, I'll go."
As if I could say no after being bombarded by this girl's cuteness.
Her smile that shone like a thousand suns was truly magnificent to behold. It was as if the goddess Aphrodite herself was standing right before me. No living male in their right mind could possibly say no to her.
"Wait here for a bit while I get changed, okay."
We start to trek the uphill path that led to Ushio's school, talking nonchalantly as we did so. And from those brief non-linear chats of ours I was able to gather the following information: (1) She was studying at Hikarizaka Private High School, the same school that we were heading to. (2) She was an only child. (3) She was single, which surprised me a bit since one would think that someone as cute as her would have a truck load of suitors.
And finally, the most shocking info about her that even I didn't expect...
'Dango Daikazoku! It's something that was popular back when my mom was in High school. They're very cute! Even though no one besides me and my mom knows about them now, I still really like them. Look, I even have this Dango keychain that my mom gave me back when I was still in grade school!' she quickly shows me the Dango-shaped keychain hanging from the side of her bag, a small piece of cardboard was clipped on its bottom that had the words "Peace and Prosperity" written on its front.
"So you're into this kind of stuff, huh?"
'Yes! I really like the fact that there are so many of them and that they're a really big family. Although sometimes I wonder how troublesome it would be if all of them showed up in the same place.'
The heck! This girl's a complete Dango-Otaku!
'They even have a cute song. Dango dango dango dango dango dango daikazoku...-!' she suddenly stops singing as she starts blushing a faint red. 'I-I'm sorry! I shouldn't have gone on and on like that! I'm so embarrassed!'
Well, I'm not really complaining.
'Umm... Kyon-san, what about you? Could you tell me something about yourself?'
"There isn't actually anything to tell. As you can see, I'm just your everyday run-of-the-mill high school student..." Truth. "...living a very normal High school life." Blatant lie.
'I see. Normal, huh?'
With the exception of being friends with an alien, a time traveler, an esper, and an eccentric girl who we have to constantly entertain or else then yeah I'd say my life's pretty normal.
"This hill path's pretty long. It must be a real pain for you having to walk through here every day." Although this is nothing compared to Mt. Everest Jr. Back home.
'Not really since the trees and the breeze that pass through here gives you a very refreshing feeling.'
Come to think of it, there were quite a number of Sakura trees lining this path. This place must be quite the Hot spot during the Hanami (Flower Viewing Festival).
"Oh, sorry. I was just looking at all the Sakura trees. I was thinking to myself how nice this place must be during the springtime."
'This place is one of the few places in this town that hasn't changed. The people here are very fond of these Sakura trees because they hold the memories of all the persons that have passed here.'
"Does that include you too, Ushio."
'Kind of. My Mom and Dad first met here, not to mention they've brought me here lots of times before I was even a student in my school so this place is very special to our family.'
As I was listening to her little speech I couldn't help but think how incredibly honest this girl was. To be saying those things in front of someone who you had just met. Humans by nature are very apprehensive which is why it takes time before we can talk about very personal things to other people. Yet, Ushio seemed to be the type that could trust people easily. It was a trait that I thought was both commendable and rather stupid, cute but too naive for my taste. Then again, if everyone in the world was like that then wars wouldn't exist and the world would be a very peaceful place. Of course reality isn't exactly as sweet and something like that would never happen... That is unless a certain girl that I knew suddenly decides to go Gandhi on me which I seriously doubt would ever happen.
'Kyon-san, we're almost there. Look, you can see the school gate from here.'
She was right since I started to notice some students around our age nearby. I could even see a glimpse of her school and from what little detail that I could see from where I stood it wasn't that much different from North High with the exception of it being a bit cleaner. I guess there really wasn't much of a noticeable difference between public and private establishments of education. I wonder if they have to put up with softball freak teachers like Okabe?
Soon enough we finally step onto the school premises and as expected we were immediately met by the sight of hundreds upon hundreds of stalls. Lots of students and outsiders like me were walking around and visiting the different stands, it was exactly what you'd expect to see in a school festi-... Eh?
Hold up, what the heck is this chilling sensation crawling down my back. For some reason I felt like I was being watched by a thousand pair of eyes filled with rage that was slowly but surely transforming into murderous intent. I look around and see the students that were scattered all over the place whispering something that I couldn't hear. But what was most disconcerting was the awkward stares of annoyance being given to me by the male populace. I don't know why but I had a really bad feeling about this.
'Kyon-san, is something wrong?'
"It's nothing. I just-..."
I look towards the voice's point of origin and immediately see a red-haired beauty running towards us with the divine speed of Hermes. And in the span of a single second she went from being 15 feet away to literally locking Ushio in a bear hug, if you had blinked then you would've completely missed it.
'I missed you soooo much Shio-chan!'
'Umm... but didn't we just see each other yesterday, not to mention you phoned me at least half-a-dozen times during dinner.'
Wow, those are some really solid fan girl stats right there.
'Fufufu. For me, every second that I can't see or hug MY beloved Shio-chan is a second wasted.'
Hey now, this girl's starting to cross that thin line between obsessed fan girl and dangerous stalker.
'You're overacting again, Yui-chan.'
'No! To me, Shio-chan is my life-giving oasis that stands in the middle of this desert like world that is void of meaning or worth. Ah! What I wouldn't give to taste Shio-chan's sweet nectar!'
Yep, she's definitely crossed it now. Huh? Why is this girl looking at me with that scowl on her face that greatly resembled Haruhi's?
'And just who the hell are you?'
So you finally noticed me. Took you long enough.
'Yui-chan, this is Kyon-san. He's from out-of-town and is temporarily staying here in Hikarizaka.'
'Hmpf! You've got some nerve walking around with my Shio-chan of all people, don't yah punk!'
What's with the sudden change in attitude?
'Just so you know, the person that you're walking with is Hikarazaki High's school idol: Okazaki Ushio. For a mongrel like you to even be allowed to come closer than 12 feet from her already breaks every natural law known to man!'
'Yui-chan, aren't you being a bit too harsh.'
'No, Shio-chan! I, your best friend since grade school and protector of your purity, Kochikaze Yui will not allow this mongrel to sully you!'
I didn't know it was even possible but this girl has definitely surpassed stalker status and has now moved into uncharted territory.
'Umm... Yui-chan, weren't you suppose to be helping out with your class's haunted house? You told me on the phone yesterday, remember?'
'Oh! I totally forgot. But…' she then stares at me with eyes like that of the Basilisk of Greek myth, petrifying me on the spot. 'Now that a dangerous entity has suddenly appeared, I'm having second thoughts.'
'You can't do that, Yui-chan. You're the class rep. You can't abandon your classmates just like that.'
'Shio-chan sure is considerate. I guess you're right. I'll be going then.'
Ah, finally. I thought she'd never-...
'And as for you, punk!' This girl Yui suddenly grabs the collar of my shirt, Haruhi style, and then proceeds to tell me the following: 'If it so happens... that you even so much as think of taking advantage of my dear Shio-chan... I'LL SQUEEZE YOU INSIDE A TORPEDO TUBE TOGETHER WITH 300 KG. OF EXPLOSIVES AND FIRE! I SWEAR TO GOD, JESUS, BUDDHA, ALLAH, AND OYASHIRO-SAMA THAT I WILL TEAR YOU TO PIECES! SO DON'T BE GETTING ANY IDEAS, PUNK!'
This girl... is completely mental.
'See you, Shio-chan.'
And with that she finally leaves but not before giving me another one of her murderous stares. If looks could kill then I'd definitely be on my way to the river styx right now.
'Kyon-san, please don't think badly of Yui-chan. She just tends to go overboard sometimes.'
I bet she does.
"Don' worry. I think it's great that you have a very... err... "devoted" friend like her. By the way, I remember her saying something about you being some kind of school idol. What's that about?"
Her cheeks quickly blush a bright red the moment I brought that particular topic up.
'Umm... About that, please don't mind what she said.'
"Well, if you ask me then it's not something that you should be embarrassed about. It's only natural for cute girls like you to have lots of people admiring them."
'I-I'm not really that cute at all! There are lots of girls in our school who are much cuter than me. I also have lots of bad habits like brooding over things or spacing out. I've cut my fingers while using a slicer and tripped over myself while in a hurry. I've even gotten my bag stuck in the door of a train at least three times in the past.'
Curses! She's moe to the core. Must be genetic.
For the next few hours that followed that incident, Ushio and I went around the school and tried out most of the stalls and booths that we passed by. The whole place was in a very festive mood, just what you'd expect from a school wide celebration like this. The only thing that I could even remotely complain about was the fact that everywhere we went all the males in the area would stare at me with really distorted looks on their faces that seemed to be a mixture of utter disgust and animalistic rage. I was like a small rabbit that was being surrounded by a pack of hungry wolves and the only reason why these guys haven't torn me limb-from-limb yet was because I was with Ushio. I guess this is what happens when a "mongrel" like me, as Ushio's friend Kochikaze so eloquently put it, is able to walk side-by-side with the designated school idol. Thinking even deeper into this particular subject, I started to understand why most idols didn't have boyfriends. Unless you were a perfect ten kind of guy, anyone who would even attempt on courting an idol would most likely get killed by said idol's rabid fans.
Ushio signals me to follow her as we quickly approach another beauty, this time a dark blue-haired lady that was accompanied by two female students... and no, I am not going to guess their ages! All three of them were carrying heavy-looking boxes in their arms.
'Oh, it's you Ushio-chan.'
Ushio-chan? Isn't this teacher being a bit too familiar with her student? But then again I'm not really in any position to talk since I've only known Ushio for less than a day and I'm already calling her by her first name.
'And who's this with you? Could he possibly be Shio-chan's boyfriend?'
'No Sensei, it's not like that at all!'
Said without a moment's hesitation. Thanks a lot, that'll definitely raise my self esteem.
'Umm, Kyon-san please don't take it the wrong way. It's not that I don't like you or anything, I just think that you'll meet someone better than me.'
'So you're Kyon-san then. Well, do you currently have a girlfriend?'
"Uhh... not really."
Ushio tilts her head towards me and asks another awkward question. 'So Kyon-san doesn't have a girlfriend yet? Why?'
And to top it all off, Ushio's sensei adds even more awkwardness to an already awkward situation.
'How lucky, Ushio-chan. It looks like you still have a chance.'
'Ah, uhm... P-Please forget what I just said!'
Her cheeks start to blush a faint red once again. Ushio, just a thought but you might want to change the subject right about now before things get even more awkward than it already is.
'Ah, Nishina-sensei! I was wondering what those boxes you're carrying are for?'
'Oh, you mean this; they're props and equipment that the choir clubs is going to use for their presentation in the gymnasium later in the afternoon.'
'I guess that makes sense since Nishina-sensei is the advisor of the choir club.'
'Ushio-chan, Kyon-san. I don't want to impose on you two but could you lend us a bit of your time. You see, there is still quite a bit of equipment that needs to be carried to the auditorium. If it's only the three of us then it'll definitely take longer to finish and we really don't want to disturb the other choir club members since they're in the middle of practice.'
'I'll be glad to help, Sensei.'
"Sure, I'm not really doing anything after all." Not to mention I'll feel bad if I let Ushio do this by herself.
'Thank you. I appreciate your help. Aikawa-san, could you guide them to were all the other boxes are.'
'Okay sensei. Okazaki-san, please follow me.'
Soon enough we are led to a small warehouse that was a certain distance away. When we got there we were immediately greeted by the sight of no less than 20 boxes, each one full to its brim. No wonder Ushio's Sensei asked us for help.
'Aikawa-san, are these the props that you need?'
'Yes, Okazaki-san. Please bring them to the gymnasium as soon as possible. Anyway, thank you for lending us your help. I'll be going then since I still need to assist Sensei in preparing the stage.'
And with that she leaves me and Ushio alone together inside this half-empty warehouse. I'm pretty sure that if this was a dating sim game then I would've definitely triggered some kind of special event... like having the entrance suddenly locked and thus trapping both of us in here. Of course something like that was just too farfetched to even happen but a guy can dream, right?
"Well then, we better start carrying these or we're going to end up being here for awhile." As I turn to look at Ushio I notice the rather troubled expression on her face. "What's the matter?"
'It's just that Kyon-san is my guest so I'm a little embarrassed about having you do some work.'
"Don't even sweat it. I'm glad that I can help." Or more like I've gotten used to doing menial task such as this because of a certain someone back home that constantly orders me around. "Let's start then. Those boxes over there look to be the lightest so you'll be the one carrying them while I'll take care of the heavier ones.
Just as Ushio was about to lift one of the boxes, we suddenly hear a very loud voice coming from the entrance.
'Hold up just one frickin minute!'
So another weirdo shows up. Greaaat... just what we need.
'Hey you, outsider! Just what the hell do you think you're doing!'
Helping the choir club carry these boxes, but that's just me though.
'What kind of man are you! Letting Okazaki-san do manual labor! Unforgivable!'
"Hey, aren't you over-reacting just a little bit."
'Issei-kun, its fine. Kyon-san and I were just helping Nishina-sensei out.'
'No, Okazaki-san! It's unbecoming of someone of your stature to do hard labor. I, Issei Tsubaki, will not allow it!'
Looks like this guy is one of Ushio's rabid fans.
'Please, Okazaki-san. Allow us to take care of this.'
At first I wondered who this guy was referring to when he said "us"? It didn't take long for me to find out though as a group of half-a-dozen males enter the warehouse. Each one of them had a white bandanna tied around their forehead with the letters "S.S.S" written on them. And like a perfectly trained military platoon, they all shouted the following in unison:
'We, Okazaki-san's personal guard, the Shio-chan Special Squadron have come to assist!'
Personal guard, huh? I thought that this types of people only existed in mangas and Animes, but apparently there were actual human beings that were bored enough to organize something like this.
Soon enough, they started to grab the boxes on the floor and lift them up their shoulders. Some of them carried two to three boxes at the same time but not before making sure that Ushio could fully se them while doing their self-imposed manual labor. In other words, they were simply trying to show off. There was even two of them who almost came to blows as they fought for the "honor" of carrying another box.
As I was shaking my head in utter disbelief, the guy whom Ushio referred to as Issei quickly snatches the box that I had just lifted off the ground.
'Don't you worry Okazaki-san. We'll take it from here.'
'Umm... But Issei-kun. I-...'
'There's no need to thank us, Okazaki-san. As long as we're here you'll never have to bother about doing unnecessary things like this ever again.'
'But I really wanted to-...'
'Okay guys, let's get moving.'
Sheesh, for a guy who's supposedly devoted to Ushio, he sure wasn't listening to her at all. I may not have been a member of the S.S.S. but even I could tell that something was bothering her.
"What's wrong, Ushio?" I asked her, making sure that neither Issei nor any of his lackeys could hear me since I didn't want to endure another wave of overreactions from them.
'It's... It's nothing, Kyon-san. There's no need for you to worry.'
Ushio, as cute as you are, you definitely suck at lying.
"You really wanted to help Nishina-san, am I right?"
'Well I... I really...'
"Okay then." I grab the last two boxes that were lying on the floor. I give Ushio the lighter of the two containers before signaling her to go to the gymnasium. The smile on her face was the seal of approval that I needed to know that I had done the right thing.
'Hey you! Didn't I tell you already to stop making Okazaki-san do such menial task!'
'It's alright, Issei-kun. I really don't mind at all.' she tells him before leaving. I on the other hand couldn't help but smirk in triumph and although I tried my best to hide it from Issei, the look of utter irritation on his face pretty much told me that I had failed on that particular endeavor.
'Thank you very much for helping us.' Nishina-san said in gratitude to us. To be honest, hearing someone thanking me for the hard work that I did was really nice. Damn, I wish Haruhi was like this instead of treating me as if I was her personal man-slave.
"No, it's nothing at all. I was happy to help."
'But still. I'm grateful to both you and Ushio-chan. Speaking of which, where is Ushio-chan anyway?'
"I think she's backstage, helping the others unload the boxes that we carried in here."
'Shio-chan is a very kind girl. I think that a trait like that only makes her that much cuter, don't you think so?'
"I guess, but I think she maybe a bit TOO kind if there is such a thing."
'Could it be that you're worried about her?'
Uh-oh, I don't like where this conversation might be heading. I better stir clear for now.
"Well it's not like I know her enough to worry about her since I only met her yesterday... but it's not like I'm not worried about her either." Wait, what in the world did I say just now?
'So you are worried about her.'
"Like I said, it's not like I'm actually... okay, maybe I am but can you blame."
'I understand what you're saying...' Well that makes one of us! 'She is, after all, Nagisa-san's daughter.'
'She's Ushio-chan's mother. We both were students in this school. She was actually two years my senior but due to health reasons she had to repeat her last year twice, so we both ended up graduating at the same time. I've been friends with her and Ushio's father for quite some time now.'
I get is, so that's why she's so familiar with Ushio.
'I'm very grateful to both of her parents which is why I try my best to look after Ushio-chan as much as I can.'
"Grateful? For what?"
'It's a rather long story... but if Ushio-chan over there wants to hear about it too then I guess there's no harm in telling it.'
I look back after hearing Nishina-san's words and immediately see Ushio who looked a little tired. Obviously, she must've overdone the whole "help" thing.
'Ushio-chan, do you want to hear a story about your mom and dad?'
Normally, a sane High school student could really care less about his or her parents' high school life... or maybe that's just me. But to no one's surprise, Ushio quickly replied with the following words:
'Of course, Nishina-sensei.'
I guess I might as well since I was the one who brought this whole thing up and I'm also a bit curious about the whole gratitude thing Nishina-san talked about.
'Okay then. It all happened many years ago when I was in High school. I liked playing the violin and from when I was a little girl and even until now that hasn't changed. But back then, at the risk of sounding a bit boastful, I was really good. I had a lot of plans for the future, one of which was going abroad to study further and hone my skills. Unfortunately, I was involved in an accident that damaged the nerves of my hand. Since then my grip loosened and I was never able to play the violin as well as I used to. My plans to leave the country were cancelled, and I entered a period of depression, having lost my main aim in life. However, when I entered high school, a teacher of ours named Koumura-sensei taught me about chorus. Koumura-sensei told me that I had a very nice voice and that I should try to improve on it. With that in mind, my friends decided to establish a choir club for my sake.'
'I heard that Sensei was one of the original members of the choir club, so I guess that rumor was true then.'
'Yes. Anyway, back then we were looking for an advisor so that the Choir club would be officially recognized by the student council. Incidentally, Koumura-sensei was the only available candidate for that position... but at that time he was also being courted by Ushio-chan's parents who were likewise trying to reestablish the Theater club. It was a very complicated situation and in the end one of my friends asked Ushio-chan's mother, Nagisa-san, to give up on Koumura-sensei. I will never forget Nagisa-san's selflessness since she immediately agreed with little hesitation. She was willing to give up on her dream for my sake and I am forever grateful to her because of that.'
"So basically, that's how this club came to be, is that it?"
'But that can't be right. My mom always told me that she and Dad were able to re-establish the Theater club in the end.'
'Well that's because the story doesn't end there. Ushio-chan's father Tomoya-san and their friends didn't feel that it was right for Nagisa-san to give up on the Theater club just like that. So as a response they...'
'They played a game against the Basketball Club.'
Ah, what..? How in the hell does that solve anything?
'When they invited me to watch their match, I didn't know what to make of it either.' Nishina-san quickly tells us, though I think she said that more so because of the "WTF?" look on my face. 'But we decided to go nonetheless. As for how the match went... I think you can take it from here, am I right Ushio-chan?'
'Wait, Nishina-sensei don't tell me that you're talking about that game that Dad won on a last second shot?'
"Uh, I don't mean to be a bother but I'm completely lost here."
'When I was still in kindergarten, my Dad used to tell me stories about how he, Youhei-ojiichan, and Kyou-sensei were able to beat the Basketball club during their senior year in High school. Although, looking back at it now, I think he might have exaggerated certain details about it... especially the ones about Youhei-ojiichan.'
"But I still don't get how a simple Basketball game was able to solve the problem?"
'Well, technically, it didn't solve anything at all.'
Thank you for clearing that up. I was starting to wonder if logic actually existed back then because if a mere Basketball game was all it took to solve a dispute then we should've just decided the outcome of World War II with a best-of-seven Baseball series instead of letting America drop Atomic bombs on us.
'But it did show me that handicaps were not enough of an excuse. If you really want to do something then all you need to do is work hard and believe in yourself. As to what happened to our clubs, after the new Student Council took office and allowed the sharing of advisors, both the Choir Club and the Theater Club were able to be established. And after graduating from High School I entered a music school and continued to follow my dream. Nagisa-san's kindness and Tomoya-san's will, those two were able to give me the confidence that I needed to keep going and that is why I am forever grateful to them.'
As I stood there after hearing Nishina-san's story, I wondered if what she had relayed to both me and Ushio was true. I don't mean to be a skeptic but it was hard for me to even believe that two amazing people like that actually existed and how the daughter of those same two people was standing just right next to me. It all felt too much like one of those clichéd motivational stories that you usually read inside those "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books.
'Well then, I think you two should get going. I don't want to keep you here and miss out on anymore of the festivities outside.'
She was right and I also wanted to escape here while that guy Issei and the rest of the S.S.S. weren't around. They were probably either still unloading the props from out of the boxes or just taking in the scent of Ushio's sweat backstage... Yep, they're definitely taking in Ushio's scent from backstage.
'Kyon-san, please take care of Ushio-chan for me. Although she might be a bit unreliable and tends to let her mind wonder off, she is lively, strong willed, and not to mention adorable.'
'Nishina-sensei! Please don't say it like that! It makes me feel like you're giving me up for marriage.'
Well, it's not like I wouldn't take you though.
We soon found ourselves strolling out of that busy gymnasium, somehow being able to escape detection from Ushio's personal guard. I was a bit surprised and rather disappointed that they hadn't noticed that Ushio had already left. I had always thought that rabid fan boys like them had some sort of GPS-like system that detected their idol's current location which would allow them to spring forth from out of the ground like mushrooms in order to help out said idol. I guess I had read to many mangas and was having unrealistic expectations of them... though if they actually had something like that implanted inside their heads then that wouldn't have come as a surprise to me either.
'I never knew that something like that happened with Nishina-sensei and my parents.'
"So this really is the first time that you've heard about it."
'Yes. Even though my Dad has told me lots of stories about him and Mom during their High school days, they usually can only tell me what happened based on their point of view. So it's nice to hear it from someone else's perspective.'
"So Ushio, can you tell me about your parents then." I asked her in a rather casual manner even though for some reason I found myself being intrigued by this girl's parents.
'Well, both of them are very kind – especially Mom. My Dad's a bit of a prankster though and when he's bored he usually tricks people into doing silly things. He even picks on both me and my Mom from time-to-time, though I'm used to it by now.'
Sounds like an interesting person. I bet Haruhi would get along with someone like that.
'Okazaki-san, please wait!'
We both look back and see the student that accompanied us to the storage room, Aikawa, running towards us.
'What is it, Aikawa-san?'
'Nishina-sensei forgot to tell you something important. She said that it'll only be for a little while.'
"If it's something important then you should go. I'll just wait here for you." I quickly tell her.
Though it sounded like I was being a gentleman about it, if I were to be completely honest I just really wanted to sit on one of the benches and rest since my periodic urge to "lay-around-and-do-nothing" was acting up again.
'I'm really sorry about this, Kyon-san. I'll be sure to come back as fast as I can.'
"Don't worry about it."
As soon as I see her slowly walking off to the distance, I immediately scout my surroundings for an empty bench that I could sit on, preferably one that was under some sort of shade since it was starting to get hot. But to my dismay, all the benches were occupied and I really didn't want to squeeze together with a bunch of people who I didn't even know. So I ended up walking around, trying to look for a nice place to sit, but with all this people here, trying to find a place where I could rest my butt was like going on a journey to find the Golden Fleece.
As I was walking all over the place I suddenly see a familiar face standing in front of one of the stalls. With her Hobbit-like height plus her face and figure that would've fooled even the wisest lolicon, it was pretty easy to guess who it was.
I approach her and try to get her attention.
"Hey Fuko, are you looking for Ushio?"
No reply came. I look at her more intently and notice the rather weird expression that she had. Her eyes were closed and she had a really goofy smile that was plastered on her face. If I didn't know better, I'd say that she was high or something.
I tap her left shoulder with my hand… No response.
I started to shake her by the shoulders a bit to try to snap her out of it… No response.
I then pinch her cheeks and nose… Still no response.
I was starting to wonder if she was already dead or maybe her brain had been fried because of the heat.
'Don't waste your time.' I quickly look back and see an adult male with blue hair standing right behind me. He was wearing casual clothing which pretty much meant that he wasn't a teacher here. He didn't look to be the educator-type to begin with so he probably wasn't an ex-teacher here either. He must've been one of the older Alumni who had stopped by to enjoy the festival. 'It's almost impossible to get through to her once she's like that.'
He walks over to us and starts rummaging through the items that were on display in front of the stall. Most of the items were caps, hats, bandannas, and sunglasses that had weird designs on them. I really doubt that anyone would pay for things like this which would explain why there were still lots of available items on hand.
'Aha, looks like I found the culprit.' the man exclaimed as he held a pair of shades that had a red star-shaped frame, it was something that you would expect a kindergartener to wear. 'Jeez, this girl never changes.'
He soon takes out his wallet and purchases the said glasses before placing them in front of Fuko's still closed eyelids.
'Hey you, lend me a hand here for a bit.'
Wait, who does this guy think he is! I don't even know him nor do I know what in God's name he's going to do to Fuko! No way am I helping this joker out!
…I cannot believe I'm actually helping this joker out.
We were now carrying Fuko through the second floor of the main building of this school like a life-sized cardboard cut-out, the blue-haired man that I had just met holding her by the waist while I was hauling the foot end.
'It's strange that I haven't seen my beloved daughter yet… Hey you, stop slacking off and carry her properly.'
"I am carrying her properly!" I immediately retorted, still wondering why I was helping this guy who had randomly appeared before me.
Soon enough, we reach our destination which looked to be a classroom that was made into one of those maid café's that was usually the default choice of classes that had lots of cute female students. The man walks over to one of the waitress-clad school girls who seemed to be the main coordinator of this place.
'You said you were looking for a mascot, right? So here, I found you one.' he declared as he placed Fuko, who was still in that trance like state, in front. Incredibly, those red star-shaped glasses that she was wearing remained neatly on her face.
'Umm… what… err… Who is this?' the female student nervously asked, she was probably wondering if this guy was some sort of kidnapper. I couldn't blame her since I was thinking the same damn thing myself!
'She's a custom-made robot that a friend of mine built.'
A custom-made what! There's no way that someone was dumb enough to believe such an obvious lie like that!
'Oh, I see… she just looked so real.'
If you're wondering what that sound was, that was the sound of both my belief in Darwin's Theory of Evolution and my faith in humanity simultaneously shattering into oblivion as my body crashes to the floor. I mean seriously, did this girl not see anything wrong with what this guy just said?
'Oh, by the way, right now she's in the middle of recharging so when she "reactivates" just tell her that she's in a stand still contest and that if she wins then she'll have a lifetime supply of made-to-order starfish bread. Okay.'
'I'll be sure to remember that.'
Wow… this two were just stomping away at the remnants of my faith and beliefs.
'Thank you for your help… err… I'm sorry; I didn't get your names.'
'Just call me Mysterious Friend #1. And this guy standing next to me with the weird looking face is Mysterious Friend #2.'
"Hey! My face isn't weird, and what kind of stupid aliases are those anyway!'
'Me and my Mysterious Friend #2 will leave her to you then.'
He just completely blew me off. You know, I did just help you carry Fuko all the way here so the least that you could do is listen to my cries of outrage.
'I better get going; my wife might be waiting for me outside.'
Wait, this guy was married? I sure pity whoever his wife was. And I really hope that if this guy had kids that they didn't turn out like him.
As I exit that particular building where I had left Fuko in, I get a glimpse of Ushio's image running towards me with a look of relief etched on her face.
'Kyon-san! Thank goodness. I was worried that you might've gotten lost.'
Ushio, I'm not exactly a five year old so the chances of me getting lost in this place is pretty small.
'I'm sorry it took me so long to come back. I actually saw my Mom on the way here so I was sidetracked for a bit. Why did you go here anyway?'
"Well there was this guy and he-..!"
A sudden commotion catches both of our attention. It seemed that most of the students were flocking towards a nearby open space that looked to be a soccer field. From where I was standing, I could somewhat see a cloud of smoke circling around center field. Curious as to what was going on, I urged Ushio to come with me and see what all the fuss was.
As we got nearer to the field I started to get a clearer picture of what the problem was and who was causing it. At the center of the soccer field was a red motorbike - a Kawasaki Z750RS Z2 to be exact, doing a wheelie all over the place and riding the said vehicle were two guys. Being that they didn't have any helmets on, it was pretty easy to see their faces. The guy who was steering the bike had a pair of black shades while a cigarette could be seen sticking out of his mouth. His black hair was styled in a manner that would make the King of Rock n Roll roll in his grave (pun slightly intended). The other one who was riding on the back burner had a rather round face; combine that with the thin layer of orange-red hair that covered his head and you basically had a very impressive replica of the planet Mars. Both of their uniforms were different from the ones that the students here were wearing which meant that they were from another school. Of course it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this two men were your prototypical thugs. I mean, i know that stereotyping is wrong and all but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. 'What's the matter you goddamn spoiled brats! I don't give a fuck if you're studying in this shitty school! Come out and fight me!' one of them shouted. I was about to tell Ushio to get away from here since it was obvious by now that this guys were looking for trouble, but a very unexpected event suddenly had us rooted to the ground where we were standing. Walking towards the two thugs was, if I wasn't having a visual hallucination, what looked to be a person in a bear suit... that's right, a BEAR SUIT. Their bike stops roaming around as the two men step out. They did not look amused. 'The fuck do you want, Motherfucker!' the guy with the miniature replica of Mars for a head threateningly spoke to the undeterred mascot standing in front of him. 'I'll handle this one, Aoki!' the guy who was wearing the Elvis hair piece tells his friend. 'This asshole's just flatout mocking us!' 'Fuck that, Kimura!' the guy named Aoki protested while at the same time having his right hand toying around with his manhood. 'I'm gonna kill this motherfucker myself!' As the two of them excahged profanities at each other, throwing F-Bombs left and right, the person who was in the bear suit was impressively keeping cool in the midst of all the madness. After awhile, as if growing tired of waiting, it motions to the two thugs to attack. 'The hell! Are you making fun of us you damn asswipe!' 'Fuck it! Forget taking turns! Kimura, lets beat this motherfucker right now!' After that, what transpired next was something that I thought could only be seen in video games. It happened so fast and so quick that I have a hard time describing what exactly just happened, but if I were to compare it to a more tangible example then it would probably be like having your friend playing Chun-Li do a 500 plus air combo with your opponent not even hitting the ground once. It was literally the coolest/weirdest non-Haruhi related thing that I had witnessed. The two thugs lay there on the ground with their faces so beat up that you'd have to put censors for public discretion. The person in the Bear suit calmly turns back and heads out of the field as loud cheers and applause was heard all around. As the Bear mascot walks pass us, it inexplicably stops and looks at Ushio. 'I think Bear-san wants us to follow.' Normally, I would've hesitated on doing something like that... but this Bear was just too awesome so I decided to put that hesitation on hold.
We were soon led inside a room that looked to be some sort of library although the books that were on display looked pretty old and outdated. I was also able to glimpse at a couple of old folders that were filled with tons of paper that I can only assume contained files and records, there were even some VHS tapes stored at the corner. Actually, this place seemed more like a storage room than a library. Hold on a minute... was that an oven that I just saw. And why in the world was a kitchen in here (complete with a stove and other kitchen utensils might I add)? Did they actually use this place to cook? I'm pretty sure that if the fire department saw this place then they'd be throwing fits. Looking at it right now, this place was very spacious. There was a really big table layed out that had chairs all around it. In a way, this place sort of reminded me of the SOS brigade's clubroom. Bear-san, as Ushio referred to this person wearing a Bear suit took a seat and slowly removed the mascot's head piece. Soon after, my eyes were glued to the person inside the mascot as she revealed herself to be an adult woman... a very young-looking, drop dead gorgeous woman whose long silver hair cascaded gently down her back like silk threads. Right now, from this very moment, I officially renounce any doubt that I had about going to this place! 'Tomoyo-sensei.' "You know who this person is?" Ushio quickly nods. 'She's our school's guidance councilor, Sakagami Tomoyo-sensei.'
Wow, a hot teacher and an even hotter guidance councilor that kicks butt. I guess I have to take back my earlier statement about Public and Private schools being the same. There really was a difference – a very BIG difference. Wait, if she's your Sensei then why exactly where you being a bit too overly familiar with her and referring to her by first name… unless of course…
'She's also good friends with my parents, the same as Nishina-sensei.'
Thought so. At this rate, with all the connections that Ushio's parents have in this school, she'll never have to worry about flunking.
'You seem to be in a good mood today, Ushio-chan.'
'Well, Tomoyo-sensei, it is the school festival.'
'I'm glad that you're enjoying yourself. Unfortunately, I can't really do the same since I've been patrolling the hallways all day.' In a Bear suit? That's dedication right there… or maybe she just had some sort of Bear fetish. 'Anyway, who's this person with you? This is the first time that I've seen him so I doubt that he's a student here.'
'His name is Kyon-san. He's from out-of-town and he'll be staying here for a couple of days.'
'So your name is Kyon. That's quite a unique name you have there.'
Actually, that isn't my real name but whatever.
'Ushio-chan, I'm a bit thirsty so if you don't mind could you make some coffee for all of us.'
As Ushio heads to the kitchen which was only a few feet away from us (Really now, were they not aware that a stove with gas + lots of paper = fire hazard alert.) I take my seat at the table, opposite of Sakagami-san.
'So how long have you known Ushio-chan?'
"I just met her yesterday." I replied to her bluntly.
'So you've only known each other for a day?'
Technically speaking, I've only known her for LESS than a day.
"Is there a problem with that?"
'No, it's just that I'm a bit surprised. As you might've already noticed, Ushio-chan is very shy so she has a difficult time when it comes to dealing with other people – especially ones of the opposite gender.'
That kind of surprised me too since even with her relative shyness she seemed to get along with other people just fine (e.g. Kochikaze, Aikawa, Issei and the S.S.S.). Heck, she even invited someone like me who she barely even knew… But thinking about it now, with the exception of Kochikaze most of the students that we had met seemed more like acquaintances to her than friends. I haven't even seen any of the other male students come up to greet her which is weird for someone who was supposed to be a "school idol".
'But she wasn't always like this though.'
'Back in her younger days she was a very energetic child. She was very active and quite friendly. People often considered her as the darling of the neighborhood. But as she grew older, most of the boys around her age and even some girls began to admire her.'
"I don't think that's a bad thing though."
'Admiration in itself is not bad… but too much of it can be wearisome, especially to someone like Ushio-chan.' she continued on while the person who was the subject of our conversation was only a few feet away from us. She looked to be fixated with the task of making the tea that Sakagami-san had asked. It was a good thing that Haruhi wasn't here because I couldn't imagine what unspeakable acts she might do to a person like Ushio that seemed to have the same naïve innocence as Asahina-san.
'The people around Ushio-chan admired her so much that they ended up putting her in a pedestal, but by doing that they somewhat ostracized her as well. She was also not very fond of all the attention she was getting to begin with and thus her inner shyness quickly surfaced. So by the time that she became a High School student she had very few real friends that she could speak of. And also having her own personal guard only worsened the situation.'
"If that's the case, then couldn't you help her out Sakagami-san. I'm sure that even a small piece of advice would be good for her.
'That was what I thought too. I spoke to her father about it but he told me that Ushio-chan wasn't as naïve as most people thought and that I should let her figure things out for herself.'
Tough love, huh?
"Isn't that a little irresponsible though?"
'Others might think that… but I trust her father's judgment. After all, he was the one who helped me become the Student Council President back when we were still in High School.'
"Did he go out and challenge the basketball club again..?" I whispered to myself sarcastically.
'No, but we did go up against the softball club.'
'You see, a few weeks before the elections, someone started to spread bad rumors about me. So in order to counteract all the negative publicity he had me go up against the different sports clubs in the school. We challenged the Judo club, the Gymnastics Club, the Swim Team, the Kendo Club…'
While Sakagami-san was reciting the names of every conceivable club that I could think of, all I could do at that time was stare and listen in disbelief. I mean, was sports really that big of a part in people's lives that it could settle almost every problem in the world?
You and your wife don't get along anymore? No problem, the both of you just go run in a marathon.
America and Afghanistan about to go to war? Fine, let's settle it in a best-of-seven baseball series.
Did Kobe really rape that white girl? Piece of cake, if the Lakers don't win the title this season then his "definitely" guilty.
'…the Rugby and the Tennis Club.'
"That sounded like a lot of work."
'It was, but I had fun doing it anyway. You know, Ushio-chan's father is a very kind person. Even though many people considered him as a delinquent back in the day, he was actually a very caring young man who valued his friends greatly. He may have been blunt about the truth and played very childish pranks to the detriment of his friends but when someone that he knew needed help he would go out of his way and do everything that he could for that person.'
Though she tried to suppress it, I could still somewhat make out the look of sweet nostalgia that she had while reminiscing about all of these things. For some reason, a part of me wondered if she may have had feelings for Ushio's father during their younger days. Then again, I might simply be over thinking all of this since it's probably close to noon by now and I still had yet to eat lunch.
'Her mother is a very nice person too.' Sakagami-san, after seeing me staring at her, quickly followed up. 'In fact, Ushio-chan probably takes after her the most. I became very good friends with both of them which is why I've known Ushio-chan since she was a child. I actually think of myself as her Auntie so I do my best to look after her.
'I'm sorry for keeping you waiting. Here's the tea.' Ushio interrupts as she enters the scene while carrying a tray that had three cups of tea on top of it and handed us each our respective refreshments. I slowly take a sip from my cup…
"This tea… it's delicious!" I declared, wide-eyed and shocked at how this girl's brewing skills were on par with Asahina-san.
'Thank you. My Yuki-nee was the one who taught me how to make it though she's still way better at making tea than I am… Umm, Kyon-san, what's the matter?' she asked as she saw me staring at the chest area of her apron (and no, it's not what you think).
"Ushio, just a wild guess, but you come here pretty often don't you."
'Amazing, Kyon-san! How did you know that?'
"Just a hunch." plus having the image of a green dango with eyes embroidered in the apron that you were wearing was pretty much what gave it away (See! I told you it wasn't what you think!).
'So what were you talking to Tomoyo-sensei about? It sounded like it was really interesting.'
"Sorry but that's classified information."
As Ushio tried to guess the topic of my discussion with Sakagami-san while I on the other hand kept repeating Asahina-san's favorite catchphrase, from the corner of my eye I could somewhat see Sakagami-san flashing the two of us a smile.
'I see… Now I get it.'
'Tomoyo-sensei, did you say something?'
'No, it's nothing.' After drinking the tea that Ushio made for her, she stands from where she sat and takes the mascot head lying on the corner of the table. 'I better get back to patrolling. You two should probably go back as well or you'll miss more of the festival.'
It was now the middle of the afternoon as Ushio and I were now currently sitting inside the gymnasium that we had entered earlier in the day. It turned out that the very important message that Nishina-san wanted to relay to Ushio was a simply a modest invitation for us to come and see their performance. So after eating lunch in one of the stalls and wandering around for about an hour or two we immediately made our way here.
The gym was packed with students and visitors so my expectations were very high. Unfortunately, I was pretty underwhelmed by the performances that I saw. The first one was a ventriloquist act by some guy who looked way too old to be in High school. I later found out that he was actually one of the teachers here and was simply giving the opening remarks for the show. Next up was a male trio of students that greatly resembled the Kameda Brothers singing a song titled "Takasebune" by famous Enka singer Hiroshi Itsuki. Now I don't want to sound like some stuck up critic and I'm pretty sure that this people practiced long and hard for their performance to be a success, but in the immortal words of Basketball Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley… that was just "TURRIBLE"! Though all things considered, I was pretty tired from all the walking that I did under the heat of the unforgiving sun so that may have contributed to my present grouchy mood. That would also explain why I suddenly felt my eyelids to be rather heavy as the next set of performers took the stage, this time it was a tall and skinny female and short-statured male doing All Hanshin Kyojin impersonations. Halfway through their skit I finally found myself submitting to the Greek god of sleep Hypnos as I ended up dozing off.
I suddenly feel a pair of soft hands gently shaking my body.
'Kyon-san… wake up.'
I quickly open my eyes and turn to Ushio who was sitting beside me.
'Kyon-san, the choir club is going to perform next.'
"Oh, right. Sorry about that." I apologized, embarrassed about the fact that I had fallen asleep in public. Ushio on the other hand looked as awake as she was when we first came here. Did she really sit through the entire show without getting bored?
As the P.A. announcer introduced the next act, which in fact turned out to be the Choir Club, the curtain of the stage slowly rises and reveals a group of sixteen female students who were dressed in white clothes. All of them were grouped together in lines of five that was positioned in an inverted "U" with the exception of Aikawa who was standing at the middle of the open space at the center of the formation. Nishina-san and five other students who had instruments in their hands were at the lower left of the stage and looked to be preparing themselves to perform. The lights are dimmed all over the gym as a set of spotlights were turned on to illuminate the stage. Nishina-san then gives Aikawa a slight nod which I suppose was her signal to start. She slowly advances two steps forward and as the soft sound of violins and other instruments begin to fill the stage, the Choir club begins their performance.
The place changes and goes. Like a wind, like clouds.
Like the traces of the heart, no halt at the places.
The place is so far away. be far apart.
people's hand does not reach,so merely has (the) worship.
The place is a lofty lord. can't meet nobody put on.
We will lose the lofty which changes.
Not all were desired. However, we're never sad.
still, there is still the away. far away.
(The wind) blows through the place. an endless,with all.
Like the ripple float on the water, It blows as it goes.
the place is No make at all. Nothing is shown.
Like the sand clasped by hand, It falls vainly.
The place is (a) profound lord,and wear the vain faint light.
But we will find it in the hut at which it stands still.
if not concerned with all,It will maintain that No dye.
therefore there is still the 's lonly, solitary.
no halt at the soars to the sky.
Like the verdure (which) meets with sunrise, It grows up as reborn.
The hut has held new 's different from all.
like the sand castle of the children,but realized with the mind.
The person is a vain taciturnity calm.
still,We will know a huge is stopped by nobody.
soon,the wind wears the snow cloud. will be dyed to snow-white.
Summer grass will sunlight,feebly shade.
The place buried in deep the collapsing castle.
like the head of the shade,figure will be thrown away
The hut buried in deep sinks in to the flood.
and The "not dyeing" is dyed out,and waits for a oppose one.
Even if all are healed, be gonna no return.
there is still the away. far away.
The place changes and goes. Like a wind, like clouds.
Like the traces of the heart, no halt at the places.
The place is a lofty lord. can't meet nobody put on.
still,there is still the away. far away.
As the music fades from the background, the entire gym erupts into a wave of applause that echoed everywhere. The Choir Club members on stage take their bow and start celebrating amongst themselves. From the looks of it, they must've practiced extra had for this performance and it really did show since even I found myself clapping. It also wasn't one of those pity claps that people usually do so that the performers don't feel like they sucked, although majority of the time that probably was the case. I was sincerely clapping and lauding their performance.
I turned to look at Ushio to see her reaction, fully expecting her to be cheering her lungs out. But to my surprise, she wasn't cheering her lungs out… she was barely even clapping at all.
At first I wondered why on earth she was giving the "pity clap" to the Choir Club after hearing a performance like that. But then, as I saw the look on her face, I quickly realized that she wasn't doing the "pity clap" at all. She had an expression that I could only describe as a cross between longing and envy. It was the first time that I saw her like that since we first met which wasn't really saying much being that we've only been together for like eleven hours – give or take an hour or two.
I couldn't help but wonder why she had that look in the first place.
The sunset was now fast approaching as the once hot blue afternoon sky turned to a cooler shade of orange. The festival had at last come to an end as both Ushio and I leave that bustling school and was once again walking down that hill of yet-to-blossom Sakura trees.
'Thank you for going with me to the School festival.'
Shouldn't this be the other way around?
"What're you thanking me for? I'm the one who should be grateful here since you're the one who invited me in the first place. But still, I have to ask… Why me?"
"What I mean is why invite someone like me whom you've just met? I really don't understand the thought process behind it."
'Umm… Kyon-san, about that…' she suddenly runs ahead and turns to face me. And before I could even ask her why she was looking so serious, she suddenly bows her head. 'I'm really sorry! Please, forgive me Kyon-san!'
Needless to say, that immediately prompted my face to put on it's "I have no idea what's going on here!" look. This girl was just thanking me ten seconds ago and now she's apologizing to me for whatever reason that I have yet to know. Ushio, after sensing that I was completely lost as to what was happening, finally decides to fill me in.
'The truth is that for events like this I usually go with my friend Yui. But being that she was a class rep she had a lot of things on her plate and I really didn't want to bother her so I told Yui that I'd go to the festival by myself.'
"I'm not really getting where you're going with this."
'Yesterday, a lot of people started coming up to me asking if they could accompany me during the festival. At first it was only one or two people at a time asking me, but then it ballooned to ten, twenty, and thirty people. It got so bad that I ended up skipping my next class and decided to rest in my favorite place at the hospital greenery.
I get it, so that's why she was there. But for her to end up running away from her fan boys like that, the life of an idol must be really hard.
"Couldn't you just tell them no?"
'Well… that was what I told the first group of people that came up to me but after they swelled to such great numbers I couldn't bring myself to do it. Rejecting one person and seeing the look of disappointment on their face is hard enough, to do that to so many people at the same time is almost impossible for me.'
This girl is definitely TOO kind for her own good.
'So I decided to tell them that I had already accepted someone else's invitation, but then they started asking me who that person was and I really couldn't tell them that I lied. I was very bothered by it, but then I ended up meeting Kyon-san again and made up my mind to ask you to come with me. I thought that since Kyon-san wasn't a student in my school then no one would be troubled by it.'
So I was basically "Plan B", huh?
'That's why I'm apologizing to you. I'm sorry for using you without even considering your feelings, Kyon-san.'
"But wait, don't you think that those people might get the wrong idea if they saw us together."
Didn't she think this whole thing through first?
"I'm a guy, you're a girl, and we were together for almost the entire festival. Don't you think that some people might get the wrong impression? That were a couple?"
She definitely did NOT think this whole thing through.
'I-I-I'm really sorry Kyon-san! Even though you're only a visitor here I'm already causing you so much trouble!'
Well, being mistaken as the boyfriend of someone who is as cute as Ushio isn't exactly my idea of trouble… but then again her fan boys might have something to say about that.
"I'm really really sorry! I'll do anything to make it up to you!'
Anything, huh? Well there was this store that I passed by yesterday that had this really nice Meido outf-… WHAT THE HELL AM I THINKING!
"It's fine, don't worry about it.' I told Ushio as I walked past her while tapping her shoulder, trying to act all cool and composed even though multiple images of her wearing that meido outfit that I saw was pouring down my mind like the raging waters of Niagra falls. "It's not like I didn't enjoy myself either. I actually had loads of fun with you."
'But I still want to make it up to you.'
"Well if you're that persistent then how about giving me a tour of the town."
"Yeah, I haven't really explored this whole place yet so a Tour would be nice and also pretty helpful to me."
'Okay then, Kyon-san. I'll gladly give you a tour of the town.'
"It's a date then."
'A date…' she starts blushing until she was as bright red as a tomato.
"Well it's not really a date… it's more like… uh… an outing between friends. Yeah, that's it."
'I… I see.' Her blushing decreases though her cheeks still glowed a faint red.
We continue to walk down that hill path, talking about the performances that I had slept through as we did. She described each one with such enthusiasm that you'd think that we had just left Broadway. And even though I knew that those performances probably weren't even half as good as her description was, I couldn't help but grin as I looked at this girl that spoke with such delight in her voice. As cynical as I was even I wasn't impervious to her positive aura.
'The Choir clubs performance was most definitely my favorite though. All of them were so good, especially Aikawa-san. Don't you agree, Kyon-san?'
"I guess. Hey Ushio, do you like the Choir club?"
"No, what I meant was, if you could, would you join the Choir club?"
'I'm probably not the type. My voice isn't that great either. Anyway, what gave you that idea in the first place?'
"It's just that I got a slight glimpse of you immediately after their performance. You had a sort of weird look on your face so I thought that maybe…"
'My face looked weird..?'
"Well, not weird per se. I just thought that maybe you were into that kind of thing."
'It's just that I'm a bit envious of them for being able to stand on that stage. I do somewhat understand how hard it is to perform in front of so many people so I can't help but admire what they do.'
"Then why not join a club so you can perform in the next festival?"
'Eh? But I…'
"Come on, isn't there a club in your school that you've always wanted to join?"
'Well I… I've always loved plays since Akii used to show me tapes of them when I was younger… So I guess the Theater Club would be nice.'
"Then why don't you join the Theater Club?"
'It's a little complicated.' Uh-oh, I sense a very long flashback monologue coming any moment now. 'Ever since Akii showed me those plays that he did during his High school years I've always wanted to be a part of one. When I was in middle school our class decided to do a play about Snow White and they voted me for the main role.'
For some reason, I'm not really surprised by that at all.
'At first I was really excited… but as time passed the pressure of me playing Snow White started to sink in. The fact that everyone was expecting me to do great and that if I ever messed up then I would disappoint and waste their efforts kept creeping in the back of my mind. On the very first day of practice, even though there were only my classmates there watching me, my body suddenly froze up and I completely forgot all the lines that I had practiced the night before. It was really bad.'
A case of stage fright? I guess Tomoyo-san's description of Ushio's personality was spot on.
'In the end, Yui stepped in for me and played the lead role while I was relegated to backstage duty. I really caused her and our classmates quite a bit of trouble since they had to adjust the dress to fit Yui and she had only one week to memorize all the lines.
At that time, three semi-related thoughts immediately popped into my head: (1) Had I been the director of that play then I would've definitely cast Ushio's friend, Kochikaze, as the evil witch that gives Snow White the poisoned apple. (2) I'm guessing that they had to refit the area around the chest since Kochikaze wasn't exactly "blessed". And (3) I found it quite ironic that a girl who was as physically beautiful as Ushio was actually lacking in self-esteem. Usually, girls that lacked certain things in certain departments were the ones who you'd expect to have that kind of problem and not the designated school idol. But then again what the hell do I know; I'm just the overly cynical guy with the weird face.
'When I made it into High school I decided to join the Theater club thinking that if I surround myself with experienced people then maybe I could build up my confidence and overcome my stage fright. Unfortunately, I later found out that the Theater club had been inactive for almost two decades now. Its last members were actually my parents and their friends, after they graduated none of the students that followed had any interest in trying to revive it.'
"Then why not try to revive it yourself?"
'Well… It's just that…'
"If you really want to reestablish the Theater club then go for it and don't hesitate. You just have to be a bit thick-skinned." kinda like someone that I know back home whose shamelessness would probably serve Ushio quite well. "Besides, if you're worried about members then I'm sure that there are lots of people who would be more than happy to help you. Guys like Issei and-…"
'I don't want that..!' she suddenly reprimands me.
'I-I'm sorry. It's just that I don't want people to join simply because of me. I want them to join because they enjoy plays and not because I asked them to.'
Wow, she's pretty convicted about this.
'I know that I'm being too picky about this, but I really believe that it's the only way that we can make a play that would be good enough to please everyone who sees it.'
"No, you're right."
"You're absolutely right, Ushio. That's why I think you should overcome your stage fright first. If you do then I'm sure you can relay your passion more effectively to other people and in the process they may join for the right reasons instead of the wrong ones." I tell her even though I found it strange for someone like me who was never really that passionate about anything to be talking like this.
'I guess you do have a point, Kyon-san.'
As we continue on that path that led to my Auntie's house, I started to think about a lot of things that usually didn't cross my mind at all. Mundane things such as what would've happened if Haruhi didn't forget to take her meds on that fateful Thursday after golden week when she abruptly pulled on the back of my collar so hard that my head smacked right into the edge of her desk, stared at me with that mischievous smile that I would later learn to associate with trouble, as she told me about her plans of establishing a club that would end up being called the SOS brigade? What if I had never met Asahina-san, Nagato, or Koizumi? What if I had never met Haruhi in the first place? I guess meeting Ushio and getting a peek of her normal (relatively speaking) High school life and problems made me wonder how my life could have been had I never met any of them.
Frankly, thinking of such hypothetical scenarios was giving me a headache so I decided to stop. It' not like I had any say when it came to my own destiny to begin with. As long as Suzumiya Haruhi was a part of my life then all I could really do was sit back and brace myself for the roller coaster-like experience that was waiting for me back home.
Before long we found ourselves in front of my Auntie's house, the Furukawa Bakery just next door and seemingly empty.
"I guess I'll see you tomorrow then."
'Can I ask you for one last favor?'
'I was thinking about what you said to me earlier and… well I… if it's not that much of a bother then can I ask for your help?'
"Yeah, sure… I guess. But how exactly am I suppose to help you?"
'Don't worry Kyon-san. All you have to do is sit and watch over there.' she said while pointing to the small playground at the other side of the street.
At first I had no idea where she was going with this but that was soon cleared up.
"Okay, so let me get this straight. You want me to sit here and watch you while you perform a part of a play. Am I getting this right?" I stated while I sat on one of the empty benches.
"Err… Can't we just do this tomorrow?"
'Well… if Kyon-san thinks that… then I guess…'
Oh crap, she's putting on that puppy-like face again.
"Actually, it's not really a bother. I don't have anything to do anyway so its fine."
'Really? Then that's great.'
"Okay, let's start. What play do you want to do for practice?"
'How about Snow White?'
"Isn't that a bit too middle school-ish. I was thinking more along the lines of a Romeo and Juliet or something like that."
'Romeo and… Juliet?'
This girl can't be serious.
"You know – Carmen, Little Women, etc."
"…On second thought, I think I left the water in the bathtub running so I better go home."
'Please wait. Give me a chance, Kyon-san..!'
"I'm kidding, I'm kidding. But don't you know any plays that don't fall under the children's book category?"
'There is this one play that I've always wanted to do.'
"What's the title?"
'It doesn't have one yet. I actually made it up myself.'
"An original, huh? Well, let's hear it."
She stands firmly in front of me in deep thought and then tries to speak but it seemed as if she would catch herself at the last second and fail to even say anything altogether. She tries several times but all of them would end up in utter failure. Her stage fright was worse than I originally thought.
'I'm sorry, Kyon-san. I'm just a little nervous.'
"Just take a deep breath and dive right into it. Stop worrying, it's only the two of us here and I'm not going to badmouth you or anything. So just do your best, Okazaki Ushio-san"
'Okay, here I go.'
She closes her eyes and calmly takes one deep breath. And as she opens her sight once again, she stares at me with such a surreal yet beautiful look on her face that I actually felt my heart skip a beat and my blood rush to my cheeks. She stretches out her hand as if inviting me to take it… and for some reason, I felt a sudden urge to do just that.
'If you wish, would you like me to take you?'
'…To a place in this city where wishes come true.'
Okay, that was HELLA LOOOONG! Sorry for the overdue update. Anyway, I believe that Round One of Kyon vs Tomoyo goes to the Master Prankster (10-9 baby!). Also, if you've noticed, Kyon has yet to experience "disappearance". And as for this fics exact timeline in relation to the Haruhi-verse, I've already left certain clues and hints in this chapter which will help you figure it out.
Lipana: I'm still iffy about including Kappei since he was never really introduced in either of the two seasons, and Ryou hasn't given any indication that she has even met him during her limited Cameos. If I do end up including him or giving him a mention then chances are that I probably tweak the circumstances of their meeting.
All Hashin-Kyojin – refers to a comedy duo in Japan. If you've seen lovely complex then you're probably familiar with this.
Kameda Brothers – refers to a famous boxing trio in Japan, two of them having been former or current world champions.