Full Court Press!
Part I, Chapter 5
In the Sakura-gakou Music Room, Azusa Nakano sat in her spot at the table at the far end of the room with an empty teacup set before her. Mio Akiyama sat at the table too while Mugi Kotobuki minded the tea kettle as she prepared the sugar and cream. Aside from the strengthening whistle of the tea kettle, the room was odiously silent.
Today was going to be their first performance as a five-man band in the Cultural Festival, thought Azusa as she stared at her teacup. Today was going to be one of the first big steps of Hokago Tea Time towards their lofty Budokan goal – a goal that Azusa truly wanted to achieve. However, with their drummer and lead guitarist stricken with sickness all of the sudden, these first steps would probably not happen that day. It wouldn't happen for some time.
"Here you go." Mugi's voice snapped Azusa out of her thoughts. The blonde-haired girl poured the second guitarist tea. "Are you alright, Azusa-chan?"
"I'm alright." Azusa gave Mugi a smile, "I'm just... well..."
"You're worried about Yui and Riichan, aren't you?" Mugi was awfully perceptive. Looking at Azusa's reaction, Mugi knew her guess was spot on. Azusa wanted to ask how Mugi could have guessed it, but it was probably because she was also worried about them. "This was bad timing too..."
Azusa gave a defeated sigh and laid her head down on the desk.
"Of all the time to get sick, why now? This was our chance... this was our first step together?"
The second guitarist stared out from where she lay, looking at nothing in particular.
"We haven't even taken that step and it already falls apart..."
"Don't say that, Azusa." Mio Akiyama spoke with a composed voice. With Ritsu, the President of the club, sick, she took command of the club as the unofficial Vice President. "The more negatively you think about something then the more negative things might turn out to be."
That was oddly profound of Mio to say, Azusa thought. But, she wanted to believe Mio in this matter. This first step, the Cultural Festival performance of the HTT as a five-member band, was really important to Azusa.
"If we really have to put out a performance, we can go and rent a drum-machine or use a pre-recorded drumline or something." Mio then said, providing alternative after alternative, "We might even get Yamanaka-sensei to call in a drummer for us."
"Sawako-sensei...?" Azusa rose up from the desk, "Can she do that?"
"I don't know for sure, but I think she's the type who has a lot of connections with bandsmen." Mio rubbed her chin, "Though... I'd rather not ask her. Who knows what kind of person she might call in?"
Mio imagined something horrifying and cringed. Her own imagination was almost enough to make her faint.
"But even if we do that..." Azusa still wasn't satisfied, "It won't be the same."
"That's true..." Mio somberly agreed. "With the way things are, then, we might just have to cancel... oh? A text?"
The bassist fished out her cellphone and read through the text message.
"It seems Yui's going to make it!" Mio said excitedly.
"Yui-senpai will...?" Azusa grew excited as well, "That's good!"
Mio's cellphone then buzzed again. She received a second text message and whispered it to herself.
"Hey yo, Miooo! I'm feeling a lot better today, so I might just make it over there! Still got phlegm so I can't really talk, but hey – I'll just be drummin! See ya in 30! Hope you didn't miss me too much!"
"Oh Ritsu... you dummy." Mio wore a small smile, "Ritsu will make it too!"
"That's quite a fast recovery for the both of them." Mugi hummed, "They seemed really out of it yesterday..."
The keyboardist then wore a smile as well.
"Oh well, time to make more tea!"
She prepared two more cups of tea. There were two more people joining them that day after all, just not the two people they expected to come.
"So, are you ready for this?" I turned to the Yui-fied Ui. The two of us stood outside the doors of the Sakura-gakou music room.
"As ready as I'll ever be." Ui gulped. She seemed awfully tense about walking into the clubroom. Our plan was just to walk in there and to let things go as they normally would. It wasn't really a plan, to be honest, so why was she so anxious?
I was soon about to find out why.
We opened the door to the clubroom and Ui walked in, shadows over her eyes as she was concentrated intensely. What was she doing – internalizing? Everyone turned to us and she closed her eyes. Once her eyes opened...
"Hello~!" Ui spoke brightly, almost in a carbon copy of her sister. "Sorry we're late!"
It was frighteningly Yui-like. Everything from her posture to her expression to the cute, air-headed smile she wore and her lively hand-waving had Yui Hirasawa written all over it. For a moment, I wondered it Yui-senpai really did come to Sakura-gakou and acted like Ui-chan to troll me and everyone else. The one thing that told me otherwise was the one hand she kept in her coat pocket – the hand was trembling.
Damn... I ought to take this seriously too. I can't let her take the bulk of the responsibility here. We're in this together after all.
I walked into the room as well and gave everyone a lazy salute and a confident grin – the kind that my sister would make. Ui saw me make this effort and smiled.
"Riichan has phlegm, so she can't really talk." Ui said in her Yui voice, "But she's here."
Ui's eyes then met mine as she continued to speak. "And that's what's important. Right, Riichan?"
I then gave a lively nod. The other three members present, Azusa-chan, Mugi-senpai and Mio-senpai didn't look at us with any hint of suspicion. Ui and I were quite in sync, so our covers were ironclad. Then, Ui-chan sealed the deal.
"Uwaah~! Azu-nyan!" Ui then rushed over to where Azusa-chan sat and caught the second guitarist in a tight embrace, "I missed you!"
Ui hugged Azusa so tightly and fondly in an affectionate master-lock. She then started to pat Azusa-chan's head like a cat, making the second guitarist struggle to break free. Ui then mumbled cutesy gibberish as if she were talking to a stray cat and Azusa's struggle grew more desperate. Before long, though, Azusa gave in and accepted Ui's embrace.
I've heard stories from Ritsu about Yui-senpai doing such a thing, but to see this for myself was a wonder to behold. I didn't know what to feel at that moment – surprised or excited. Ui was quite shocked that the tactic worked so well too and fought hard to keep herself from blushing.
As for me... well... that sight was burned into my memory – for reasons I'd rather not elaborate. Let's just say I found myself a nice side-dish for tonight.
For now, though, there were other pressing matters at hand.
"So, Ritsu." Mio-senpai then came up to me, "We don't have a lot of time before the show, so we need to practice as much as we can. Are you up to it?"
I gave Mio a thumbs up and a wink and the bassist seemed pleased.
"Alright, everyone!" Mio rounded everyone up, "Let's practice!"
To Be Continued
Author's Notes: Hello, everyone. I know some of you are aware that I declared that I would be retiring from fanfiction, and I intend to do so. I am working on an original work now, among other things – academics and whatnot – so I will not really be able to write fanfics as consistently I do in the past.
I've decided, though, that this is more or less a rewrite of something I have already done so I might be able to proceed through with this in a casual pace (more casual than usual :P). It will also have shorter chapter lengths since I'm trying to master the light novel style. It's also good practice for the original work!
I guess I'll still be lurking around the site once every month or two months or whenever.