I learned quickly that stress really does fuel creativity. Swarmed with projects I have to turn in next week, I ended up with this. This ficlet (I don't even want to call it a fic because it does not have a real plot) was written solely for stress relief. In other words, this story is an impulse piece.
Summary: Language is powerful. The very words we utter define who are in our society and portrays our legacy. Even in its simplest form, words can alter our reality, illustrate our existence and portray the precious relationships we form with others.
Disclaimer: I do not own K-ON!and any of its characters.
Note: This series is nowhere near the seriousness my other works. Stories written here are merely for practice purposes or strictly for fun. I needed a way to share the small scenes that randomly come to me during the day without spending days upon days making it a truly wholesome story. Of course, as simple as this story and subsequent entries are, I still tried to incorporate themes and symbols. And, like always, I will strive to present a moral lesson with each one.
Entry 1: Words
You uncomfortably brushed your short brown hair with your fingers as you entered the pastry shop.
"Ne, Takahashi-san, do you still have some taiyaki?"
The middle-aged man looked up from his newspaper to greet you, "Of course, Yui-chan. How many would you like?"
"O-oh, it's Ui." You smiled awkwardly.
The man blinked and squinted, "Ui-chan? Not wearing your ribbon today?"
"Yes, I lost it while doing laundry yesterday," you explained with a light chuckle, "I'm actually going to get a new one today. It does… feel weird without something holding my hair up."
"I see, I see," Takahashi Kouta chuckled, "You really look so much like Yui-chan. I thought it was her coming in. She's off to college, right?"
"Hai, she left less than a month ago," you replaced your hand on the small purse you carried as you smiled amiably, "She's doing very well there with her friends."
"Ah, that's good to hear." The man folded the newspaper in his hand and continued, "So, Ui-chan, what brings you here?"
"I'd like some taiyaki." You repeated your order, "I smelled them while I was walking down the street, and I haven't had some for a while now."
"That's right, and good timing too. A new batch just finished baking."
"Um… four please. I might as well take some home for mom and dad."
"Coming right up!"
You shifted where you stood and watched Takahashi move to get a bag where he could place the pastry you ordered. Humming to yourself, you looked around the small bakery and became fascinated at all the different baked goods that lined the shelves. A small batch of cupcakes captured your fancy, brightly decorated with pastel-colored paw-print sprinkles.
Maybe I'll get those next time.
Or I can try and learn how to make them.
You blinked curiously, trying to remember when you last baked a cake. Since your sister, an avid consumer of sweets, had left to live in the dorms, you have not exercised your baking expertise for a while. Perhaps you brought home-baked cookies and biscuits into the clubroom once or twice but that was not exactly the same as baking an actual cake.
I wonder what Azusa-chan and Jun-chan like.
After deciding to ask them tomorrow when you go to class, your smile widened. The last few weeks had been quite difficult for you since you have never been apart from your sister before. But she religiously called and assured you that everything was fine, and that she worried about you. She even told you more than just a few times to have fun because this year was the last year of your high school career.
Encouraged by her concern, you managed to look forward to each day again.
Bit by bit.
And today was even better than yesterday! The sun was bright outside, and the town seemed more lively than usual. Since you lost your ribbon, you made it your mission to go in town to buy a new one and find a gadget that could hopefully keep your laundry from flying off whenever you hung them to dry. That happened to your scarf a couple of years ago, and you have lost a few socks since then. The problem definitely needed some solution before you lose more garments.
Takahashi came back holding a brown bag that contained the red bean paste pastry.
"There you go."
"Thank you so much!" You paid for the treats, bowed, and exited the shop.
While taking one of the fish-shaped treat from the brown bag, you observed the people walking by and took a bite. It was late Saturday afternoon and there were a lot of people out shopping and spending time with their friends and family. Some of the faces you encountered looked quite familiar to you as well. Maybe they were some of the new freshmen you have seen at school but never really met.
Chewing carefully, you browsed the clear windows of the various stores that lined the shopping district. You didn't have much money on you so you settled to just window shop. Perhaps you only had enough to buy the ribbon and do a little bit of grocery shopping so you could not possibly splurge and buy that cute lavender blouse that one boutique displayed.
That was alright though, you thought, you were more than happy to just look and watch.
You hummed to yourself as you finished your treat and reached your destination. It was a big shopping center but at least the items they sell were in reasonable prices. You checked out what was new in the store as you made your way towards the aisles that held hair ornaments. Seeing numerous articles of clothing that suited your wardrobe and your tastes, you decided that you were due for some shopping soon, and made a note to do so once you get your allowance next week.
Placing your purse on your shoulder and folding the edges of the brown bag close, you stood in front of the selections of ribbons that hung on the shelf. Should you get another simple one? Should you get yellow again? Or maybe you should try something else? You frowned. You were not exactly indecisive but there were so many options that you found yourself stumped.
Maybe a pink one?
Or maybe I should get the gartered ties instead, they're easier to use.
Should I just change my hairstyle? No, just not having my hair tied for a day already feels weird.
You giggled at your own silliness.
You blinked and turned to find Nakano Azusa looking at you with a bewildered expression on her face.
"Azusa-chan!" You happily greeted your friend.
Bewilderment was replaced by a slight frown, "I've been calling you for a while now, you know? Were you spacing out?"
"Eh? Oh, no…" You chuckled awkwardly, "I was just thinking which one to get."
Azusa tilted her head and looked at the merchandise behind you, "Buying a new ribbon?"
"Hai, I lost my old one." You sighed, "The wind blew it away when I hung it to dry."
"Oh, so that's why you're not wearing a ribbon…" she trailed off, "…wait. That was your only ribbon?"
You nodded, quite abashed, "I don't usually lose things so it didn't occur to me to get spares."
She shook her head in mild exasperation, pigtails swaying as she did so, and chuckled, "While I'm actually surprised that you lost something, I didn't think you're the type not to have spares, or plan b's for that matter. You've always been the responsible type, Ui."
You smiled and pushed a lock of hair behind your ear, "Yes, well…" unable to find an excuse for your rare slip-up, all you could do was chuckle and change the subject, "What are you doing here, Azusa-chan?"
"Huh? Oh, my mother asked me to get some things from the office supply store across the street." The pigtailed girl explained, "But then I saw you walk in here so I decided to say hi."
"You saw me go in?" You asked with a slight disbelief in your tone.
"Yes…" she tilted her head, "Why?"
"You knew it was me?"
"Even though my hair is down?"
"Uh huh…" Bemused, the black-haired girl added, "Am I not supposed to…?"
You immediately shook your head. You did not even know why you pressed the issue. All you knew was that most people saw Hirasawa Yui when you have your hair down. It was not such a bad thing, as far as you were concerned, but it was certainly rare for people to know that you were in fact Hirasawa Ui when your brown locks were free from their confines.
"Oh, that's not what I meant," you responded to your friend, "people usually don't guess correctly."
Still puzzled, Azusa said, "But I didn't guess…"
"You di—" You stopped yourself before you and Azusa get into another round of inane questions about your appearance, and merely smiled. "I see…"
"I didn't," she parroted the words you stopped, "I mean, ever since you doubled in for Yui-senpai during freshman year and imitated her again when school started, it had been relatively easy to tell which one's which."
The pigtailed girl nodded and seemed to lose herself in idle thought as she lowered her eyes away from your face.
Reminded of how you were unmasked both times—all thanks to Yamanaka Sawako—your arms instinctively flew up to your chest. Truly, out of all the possible to ways to tell someone's identity, it just had to be—
"N-No! I didn't figure it out that way!" Azusa, face flushed tomato red, practically leaped away from you in mortification. "I couldn't even see y-your—I could just tell, alright!"
Did she just yowl…?
"I-I mean, you dress differently than Yui-senpai and I've seen you carry that purse before so…" she trailed off, unable to complete her sentence, and tried to regain her composure by slightly glaring at the packets of yellow pompoms at the end of the aisle.
You did not quite understand Azusa's outburst but you did appreciate that she took time to notice how different you were from your airheaded elder sister. Not everyone did so after all.
You giggled and gently poked her red cheek, "You're red, Azusa-chan. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to embarrass you."
Pouting, she muttered something under her breath and replied, "I'm not red, and it's okay."
"You really are adorable, Onee-chan is right." You giggled even more, covering your mouth with your free hand.
She opened her mouth but closed it again in a frown, muttering incoherently to herself.
"So, Azusa-chan, which one should I get?"
She returned her eyes towards you then looked at the ribbons, "You really don't know?"
You shook your head, "Since you're here, I might as well ask for an opinion about the matter, ne?"
She stepped next to you and browsed, "Definitely the orange one."
"That's your favorite color, isn't it?"
"But isn't it too close to yellow?"
"That's true… but it does stand out against your hair color so…"
"Green is another option, I suppose."
"No, I'll take the orange one." You smiled brightly.
"Eh? You don't have to get that one if you like something else."
"I do like it."
"Are you sure?"
She smiled in exasperation and nodded.
"Here, hold this for me, Azusa-chan, while I pay for the ribbon." You handed her the brown bag of taiyaki, took the simple orange ribbon from the shelf, and quickly paid for it on the counter.
You saw Azusa standing next to the shopping center's exit as you pocketed the receipt of your purchase. Tying your hair up, you beamed at your friend as you walked up to her.
She smiled back and returned your bag of treats.
"I feel like myself again," you sighed contently. You suddenly remembered the sweet pastry in the paper bag you carried and fished one out, offering it to the pigtailed girl, "Here, Azusa-chan! Thank you for helping me choose a new ribbon."
"Eh? It's not a big deal, and it's my pleasure, I suppose."
Even though she didn't make a motion towards the pastry, you still dangled it in front of her.
Azusa stared at the taiyaki before taking it gratefully, chuckling all the while, "Thanks, Ui."
"I know you like them."
Taking a bite from the fish-shaped treat, she nodded, "I do."
You grinned and held your hands behind the small of your back.
"Ne, Azusa-chan? Are you free right now?"
Still chewing, she nodded, "I suppose so. The stuff mom asked for isn't really necessary until tomorrow."
"Want to come over for dinner?"
She deliberated with herself for a few moments and asked, "You're cooking?"
She smiled and bobbed her head, "Then I will!"
Monday quickly came, much to the disdain of the school population. You found the school day pass by quickly enough, however, because of the rather interesting passage your class read in your English class.
"Ui, class is over. We should head to the clubroom." Suzuki Jun lazily called out to you with a yawn.
You spared her a glance and chuckled, but resumed your writing. "I'm almost done, Jun-chan. Do look more chipper, I brought some snacks today."
That seemed to wake the bassist up, "Sweet! I love you, Ui!"
Your club's president chose that moment to grace the two of you with her presence.
"You're really just after the food, aren't you, Jun?" Azusa said, rather unimpressed about Jun's cheerfulness. She then sighed and continued, "Sawako-sensei said that we can't use the clubroom today. Some maintenance people are still up there checking for leaks."
"Didn't that happen last year too?" You asked as you looked up from your notes. You quickly noticed that Azusa's mood was not very good, for the black-haired girl had a noticeable crease on her brow.
"Yes," was the guitarist's simple answer.
"The kitty isn't very happy, I see." Jun grinned and chuckled deviously, earning a glare from the shorter girl.
"Of course not." There was a visible scowl that pulled the corners of Azusa's lips down, "This just means we won't get any practice done!"
What Jun muttered next made you laugh lightly, "And… she doesn't deny she's a kitty."
Indignant, the black-haired girl puffed her cheeks, "Jun!"
"Okay, okay, sorry, oh great black panther. I just thought you should lighten up a bit."
"Mou… you two are just like them. Why do I always get teased?"
"Because it's fun!" the cheerful bassist declared rather boisterously.
Distracted from your work now, you decided to participate in the banter, "So what are we doing to do today then?"
Azusa sighed and shrugged, "Without a place to play our instruments… nothing."
Thoughtfully, Jun spoke as she tucked her arms behind her scruffy head, "We're free then?"
Crestfallen, the new buchou of the Light Music Club nodded.
Unable to take Azusa's apparent depression any longer, the russet-haired girl clapped the shorter girl's back. "Don't worry too much, Azusa! I'm sure they'll be done with it tomorrow."
You smiled uneasily because, if you remember correctly, the club room took days to repair last time. Even so, you offered words of encouragement to your friend, "We'll just practice harder tomorrow, right, Azusa-chan?"
As if fuel was added to the fire, Azusa pumped her fist, "Definitely!"
"There you have it," Jun concluded with a wide smile, "You don't have to act like it's the end of the world, Azusa." She gave the black-haired girl another pat, "Well, I might as well go visit the Jazz club. I haven't said hi to my kouhai there since school started."
As if it was second nature, you held up a small canister wrapped in cloth. You knew that Jun wanted those treats and had been looking forward to them since you mentioned them.
"Thanks, Ui! See you two tomorrow!"
And so three became two.
You watched Azusa while she was still facing the classroom door, and felt a tinge of sympathy for the girl. You knew that her expectations for your new Keionbu were great. You also knew that she was pushing herself to fill the void that the seniors have left.
"We will be fine, Azusa-chan." You suddenly spoke to break the silence that permeated the classroom.
"I know, Ui." She responded even though she did not turn to face you for a moment, as if gathering her composure.
"Then why do you worry?" You offered a self-reflecting question. You had a hunch that Azusa just needed to speak her doubts to fully understand them.
She finally turned to you, looking like a lost kitten, "I don't want to disappoint them."
Ah, I was right…
"You won't, Azusa-chan." You told her, "I know you won't."
She sighed and leaned against the desk behind her, "You always know the right thing to say, huh Ui?"
You blinked, bemused, "I do?"
"Well…" Azusa paused and stared at the red tips of her shoes, "Cheering people up comes naturally to you, I guess, to Jun as well."
"We just don't want to see you sad, that's all."
It was more than enough of a thank you as far as you were concerned.
"You aren't getting ready to go home?" She mused aloud when she noticed that you still had your notebooks and pen case on your desk.
"Oh, well," you glanced at the notes you were taking, "I borrowed a book from the library during lunch and I'm just copying some quotes in my notebook."
You nodded, "Don't you think it's great that there are people who can teach us so many things with a mere sentence?"
"Oh, you mean what we learned in English today?"
"Mhmm," You beamed, "I found them really fascinating."
"I had a hard time understanding some of the more complex words, to be honest."
"I guess, but to be able to share wisdom through a few words encased in simple quotation marks is quite amazing isn't it?"
"I suppose so…" She looked at your simple handwriting, trying to read what you have written so far. She then chuckled, "Somehow, this feels so like you, Ui."
"You think so?" For some reason, you felt quite happy about what she just said.
"Yeah, finding happiness in the simplest of things seems to be a Hirasawa characteristic." She chuckled as she idly scratched her chin, "But I can never imagine Yui-senpai taking pleasure out of written words."
"That's why she has music, ne?"
"You do too, Azusa-chan."
"And you have words."
"No wonder you know how to use them so well."
"Want to walk home together?"
"See what I mean?"
With such an adorable expression on Azusa's reddened face, all you could do in response was giggle. You then gathered your belongings and neatly placed them inside your bag as Azusa reached over to retrieve hers from her desk. Quietly, the two of you left the classroom and slid the door close.
"By the way, Azusa-chan."
"I think you have a way with words too."
You felt cherry-tinged mahogany orbs glance at you.
"Mhmm, the things you told me last weekend." You paused, trying to find the right words to say, but even with all the eloquent quotes you have read that day from which you can draw them from, you ended up saying, "They meant a lot to me."
You didn't turn to see what expression Azusa had on her features because you didn't need to.
You already knew.
"Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning."
Author's Notes: As I have already said in the pre-story AN, this series is written strictly for fun and some practice. As you can see, I limited narration as much as I could because I need some practice with dialogues. I wanted to try to tell a story through the uttered words of the characters. I suppose I could have done something similar without posting this as a story (this rather plot-less piece truly rubbed against my inner perfectionist) but where is the fun in that? I might as well entertain some readers who like lighter hearted stuff. I can't promise this series to be free of my usual genres like angst and tragedies though.
This may be a reckless venture, overlapping with an on-going manga, but I had fun writing this entry. This is the first time I have written Ui, Azusa and Jun outside of "Spectre's" AU setting and in a canonverse setting. It took me a while to get the honorifics consistent because they are nonexistent in the aforementioned story. At this point, there is really not much planned for this series. In fact, the plan was to just write whatever comes to mind, ignoring the restrictions of serious prose like "Spectre." I did not label this series as canonverse or AU because it may be a mixture of both.
As always, I thank Athyra for beta-ing this entry, although she was at the verge of passing out when she did.