Disclaimer: I own absolutely no characters or anything else from this story. It's purely for fun.
It all started with a boy.
Generally speaking, there was nothing particularly outstanding about him. His entire life had been spent making the same decisions anyone else would and acting just as a "normal" human being would. His entire existence seemed almost meaningless and, had he never been born, no noticeable impact would affect the world. Not to say that his life was useless or that he didn't deserve to live, it was just that, all-in-all, he could have walked right out the dictionary under the definition for "boy next door."
His hair was a dark brown shade that matched his eyes and fell just to his ears. Not only that, but his last name was the most popular in all of Japan. He could blend seamlessly into any crowd, and not a single individual would so much as blink when he walked by. He, seemingly, didn't matter at all to the world.
This story, though, is not about this incredibly unincredible individual's life and all of his exploits. Instead, it is about one single series of events that he experienced over four months in his third year of high school - about what happened when he met Mio Akiyama.
They ran into each other the first time after school one day. Mio was sitting alone outside the school with her bass secured inside its case. A quick-acting strain of flu had unexpectedly befallen upon the rest of the members of the light music club, so not a single one besides Mio had been present at school. The day had dragged on and on through long hours without much conversation to be had since the other members were absent. After a terribly lonely day spent confined within a classroom that concluded without a club to go to, that, however ridiculous, was still undeniably fun.
In the end, she was left sitting outside of the school at a time that would usually be spent filled with sweets and useless attempts at practicing music. It was just as she was beginning to get up with a resigned sigh that she saw him.
He did not look spectacular. He looked like any other high school boy. His uniform was black and plain - Mio recognized it as the standard one for the unisex high school about a half a mile west of Sakuragaoka - and looked as if it had started the day looking proper and prim but had gradually gotten messed up throughout the day. Despite his average looks, Mio was particularly startled by his presence; she had been staring off into space (a habit that Yui seemed to have rubbed off onto her) when all of a sudden he had stopped in front of her while on his walk home.
No one could really blame him. Mio was the kind of girl that, if you were to spy sitting alone outside a school looking particularly sad, you would stop and talk to her. So he did.
They talked, laughed and, despite her utmost effort to hurry away in order to visit her sick friends, Mio was quite swept away in the conversation, which continued while they both walked to their destinations - his being his own house and hers being her friends'. They said goodbye with an exchange of names and waves. That seemed to be end of it.
But of course, it wasn't. They saw each other again, not on a regular basis, but every time that one of them was running either early or late and they managed to run into each other whilst leaving their schools. It was casual but lasted for over three months. Three months of short conversations during coincidental visits or even a few purposeful get-togethers. Mio never mentioned him to the members of the light music club because she saw no need to, and she couldn't imagine that he had brought her up to his friends.
She knew nothing about his life at school and his cohorts; for all she knew, he had a girlfriend. All that he knew about her life was the club. Still, a vague little friendship managed to develop between the two even with the sparse amount of information exchanged. Quickly, they grew to be quite close, until something abrupt and drastic happened to come between them.
It wasn't so much a romantic confession as a muttered, unclear speech spoken quickly and nervously through a terribly red blush.
It wasn't so much a cold-hearted rejection as a series of excuses adding up to an indefinite no said tentatively and accompanied by an anxious wringing of hands.
It wasn't so much a broken heart as a broken spirit.
They only met up one or two more times until the awkwardness enveloped them to the point where both of them mutely agreed that it was best not to meet up again. Mio didn't want to deal with the embarrassment of seeing him again, and he could not help but regret his decision every time he saw her.
And that was the end of it.
Except it wasn't. It was, though, the end of the boy appearing in Mio's life. A couple more times they would see each other while walking home and catch each other's eyes, but every time they would quickly shift their gaze. Save those far and few awkward moments, they completely left each other's life just as easily and casually as they had entered. It was not hard to avoid him, and soon Mio discovered two things during her time separated from him: firstly, she had never loved him. She had never truly believed that she did, but slowly, she figured out that what she had felt was far from any sort of romantic feeling but instead simply a close friendship with a boy, something she had never experienced. The second realization was that she was alone.
Of course, she had her friends from the Light Music Club, and honestly they were the best friends she could ever ask for, but she was suddenly forced to become aware of a part of her that felt so entirely empty. She had always been so lonely, just without realizing exactly how empty that part of her was. Now she could never go back to living her life blissfully unaware of that unfilled portion of her that had never been and might never be fulfilled. It was a shockingly depressing insight.
Mio never told her friends in the club about what happened; it did not seem necessary and besides, she was partially worried that they would either refuse to understand how she felt or they would pity her. Aside from that, the entire time that she was becoming close to the boy, hanging out with him, talking to him, laughing with him, she never so much as alluded to his existence to her friends. Just as his friendship remained strong without much knowledge exchanged about her life, she figured it would work vice versa. She never mentioned them to him during the months in which they spoke, so she never mentioned him to them. The two corners of her life remained exclusive. Though she didn't want to admit it, she feared more than anything else that her friends would be mad that she had been keeping this boy a secret for so long - they had grown into close friends and she had even been shot down romantically, yet she never so much as thought to tell them about her situation. Mio knew her friends were nice and levelheaded, and that she was severely underestimating their kindness, but she could not stop herself from anticipating the very worst reaction.
So she hid from how she felt. Instead of confiding in her closest friends and addressing the issue, she pretending as though nothing had happened. She kept up a nice charade and simply acted as she usually would as she continued to attend band practices. Much to her relief and horror, no one noticed a thing. Not one of her friends cared enough - or so she told herself - to realize when she was upset. She eventually came to assume that she would just remain behind a calm facade until she did not need it anymore and felt as she usually did again.
Weeks and weeks went by, and Mio told herself that she fine, that she never loved the boy and that her life was fulfilled with the friends she had, but she could never shake that feeling of utter emptiness. No one noticed, and she set her heart on the idea that soon, very soon, she would recover and feel better. Not once did the idea cross her mind that it would be a good idea for her to talk to someone and pour her heart out to them. And never would have, if no one noticed how she felt and everyone ignored her feelings. Mio would have kept on moping until she "recovered" into an empty, lonely girl.
But someone did notice.
One day, as the girls were filing out of the room, Yui with a dazed look on her face, and Mugi talking to Azusa about some sort of band-related business (for once) Mio started to walk out the door. Just as she hiking up the strap of her bass higher onto her shoulder, she felt a soft hand grab her firmly by the wrist. Turning around, she stood face to face with, of course, Ritsu.
She beamed at Mio with a smile full to the brim, but Mio knew her well enough to see right through it to the underlying sadness that lay beneath. The brunette did not even bother to say a word as she tugged on the other girl's sleeve and nodded her head toward the inside of the room. Mio obeyed without a question as she followed her back into the classroom while the rest of club sent puzzled glances back at them until both girls waved the others away and ensured that they would catch up with them soon. A second after the door closed securely behind them, Mio and Ritsu sat down on the couch only to be faced with a long awkward silence spent staring at the ground anxiously.
"Ritsu...?" Mio prompted to break the silence, and her childhood friend reacted immediately by perking up and snapping out of the trance she had seemed to be in.
"Is... something wrong lately? You just seem so," Ritsu paused and smirked a tiny bit at how weird it was for her to be completely serious for once, "distant."
And that was all it took for Mio to open up her heart. Just to know that someone, at least, had paid enough attention - had cared enough - to notice that something had happened. So she did what it took everyone, grown ups and kids alike, great strength and bravery to do. She opened up and told Ritsu everything, every detail of the last few months and what had happened, and not once did she stop and regret revealing the truth. She did not pause or hesitate once, but instead simply said everything she had thought but had never been brave enough to say aloud. It was both a nerve-racking and relieving action.
When she finished and finally managed to allow her eyes to meet Ritsu's, her friend struggled to fix a smile onto her face as she paused while thinking of how to react. Mio held her breath nervously.
"So you're lonely?" she finally said, and Mio could not help but let her shoulders sag as she realized that Ritsu did not understand how she felt. "You have us, though."
"It's different," mumbled Mio, knowing it was useless and that her attempt in seeking understanding had ultimately failed.
"More romantic?" asked Ritsu, with a little more excitement in her voice as though she had thought of something especially genius. "Or just closer?" Before Mio even had a chance to reply with anything besides a stuttered "um," Ritsu was already carrying on with her train of thought, almost ignoring the girl beside her.
"Okay!" she said enthusiastically, and Mio was flooded with concern as to the sudden mood change, " then can't we date?" She grabbed Mio's hands and turned to her before saying the last part. Her eyes pleaded for congratulations for her brilliant idea as they stared happily at Mio, awaiting an answer.
"W-what?" Mio managed to stutter out from behind a thick, red blush before she pulled her hands away from Ritsu's. Her eyes nearly brimming with tears after mere seconds, she turned to the door after crying "This isn't some joke!" She promptly ran out, leaving a bewildered girl in her wake.
The next day, class drudged on and on until finally school ended and each member of the club made their way to the club room, though two in particular where especially anxious about seeing each other again.
Mio felt betrayed by - and almost angry at - her best friend. After all she had done to pour her heart out and allow someone else to know how she felt, Ritsu had taken it as some sort of joke, as per usual, and simply brushed it off with a teasing, sarcastic proposal. It was too much to bear, and, in the end, she could not even manage to meet the brunette's eyes once that entire day. Even thinking about talking to her made her nervous and furious all at once. She just could not sort out how she felt.
Ritsu, on the other hand, had considered her offer to be completely sincere. Earnestly, she felt bad for her friend whom she loved, and the only thing she could think to do was offer to help replace the part of Mio's heart that the boy had left empty. It was not her fault that the black haired girl had taken the suggestion entirely wrong and stormed out. So what if she had smiled and joked about it? It was how she always acted, and she was worried that Mio might be put off if she acted any other way. The issue was not at all that she had not taken her seriously enough, it was simply that she had over-thought the situation and Mio had jumped to the wrong conclusions. Frankly, Ritsu loved Mio, for they had been friends forever, and saw absolutely no reason as to why her proposal to date would not have been considered genuine.
The practice was long and, even though not a lot of actual instrument work had gone on, it was still excruciating for the two girls in question. When the after school club finally ended and the rest of the girl fled the room casually just as yesterday, it was Mio this time who grabbed onto Ritsu's shoulder to hold her back.
With a nervous gulp, she got right to the point as soon as the other members left the room, once again with confused looks on their faces. "L-listen, why'd you have to -"
"I was serious."
Mio looked up and met Ritsu's stoic eyes and stern features for a few seconds before realizing what she meant - only by then, Ritsu had already run from the room, slamming the door and jogging past the Yui, Mugi, and Azusa who all looked puzzled. Mio was left staring after her from behind the closed door, trying to understand what just happened.
The weekend after seemed to last far longer than two days. Neither Ritsu and Mio could muster up the bravery to so much as call the other, let alone visit. The issue between them hung in the air like a stale smell that no one could make go away. It was unbearable for either to even think about what had happened, and by the time school rolled around again on Monday, neither one knew what they were going to say to the other.
That is why, come the next day, when the two of them ran into each other outside of the school, they both just stared at each other with mouths agape before either managed to speak. "I'm sorry, it's just that -" Mio started before being interrupted.
"No, no," Ritsu reassured her as she planted a false smile on her face, "It's my fault. It was silly for me to even suggest that." She simply waved her hand nonchalantly as though summing up how unimportant it was and walked into the building, her skirt fluttering behind her. Although she fought hard to remain happy, Mio caught a glimpse of a troubled, almost depressed, expression on her face as she turned around.
The raven-haired girl stood still for a second, once again caught staring at a door as an upset Ritsu walked away, until she forced herself out of her trance-like state. For once acting quickly and on impulse, she pushed open the school doors just before they closed behind Ritsu. Scanning the entrance hall, she ran to the stairs that Ritsu was currently climbing up while rubbing her face as though she were crying. Abruptly, Mio grabbed her hand from behind as she started to run up the steps. Ignoring the few straggling students who were watching, she spoke exactly what she was thinking.
"Yes!" she said, and while it was a quiet shout, it was louder than she usually spoke. Before Ritsu could turn around to question what Mio meant, she continued to talk to the brunette's back with strong emotion. "I don't want to be alone, so yes!" Then she shook her head curtly and corrected herself - "No, that's not it. It's not just that I don't want to be alone." She stepped up onto the stair directly behind the one Ritsu stood on and whispered right into her ear, "I-I... want to be with you."
A second passed, and even though every student in the entry way was holding their breath, both girls seemed alone in their own little world of silence. Without an answer or any audible reaction, Ritsu suddenly turned around, her face a mixture of happiness and a tinge of reluctance, as though she could not believe Mio was serious. Nonetheless, she flung her arms around Mio and enveloped her in a warm hug.
Though only seconds passed, it seemed like hours to the two of them as they felt each other's warmth, smelled each other's essence, and kept each other company, so as to ensure that neither girl was alone, for now and onward.
So damn fluffy...
Oh god, this is my first K-ON! story - please don't kill me. It's been a while since I watched it, so please forgive me for any OOC-ness or continuity mistakes. Reviews would be sincerely appreciated!