A/N: This collection ended up a little more bittersweet.
Whistle! © Higuchi Daisuke
They could never understand.
They did not know of the pain and suffering she endured.
They could not comprehend her irritability at the slightest annoyances.
All they knew was that during certain days of the months, Yuki was their Queen.
At the Kojima household, fading, worn marks adorn the doorframe leading into the kitchen. As children, Shige, Yuki, and Tatsuya had been nearly inseparable. They played together. They ate together. They were together.
Her mother had suggested it first. What a great way, she had said, to watch our children grow.
In the beginning, the marks were indistinguishable – Yuki was Shige, Shige was Tatsuya, and Tatsuya was Yuki. They were one in the same.
As the years went on, the faint lines would chase each other up the frame, battling to be the highest mark. One year, Yuki had been taller than both boys were and the year after, Tatsuya had grown a few inches, enough to be the highest mark adorning the frame. The race continued for years until Shige had finally become the tallest of the three.
She's thinking of this one day, as she watches them run down the field. And Yuki realizes with a sweet bitterness that they've already begun leaving her behind.
She's anxiously waiting for them, glancing up every so often to check the ever-changing list of arrivals.
Her eyes are red, having slept little the night before, too nervous to close her eyes and wait for tomorrow. Her cheeks are tinted pink, dry from the biting cold.
She twiddles her thumbs and bites her lip in restlessness.
It is not long before she spots them – that familiar yellow and brown.
They're tired, she sees. But there's something else, brimming beneath the weary exterior. An eager determination.
Her boys had become men.
At some point, they realize that Yuki is different. A female. A girl, to be exact.
When they were younger, they were aware that Yuki was a girl. They were smart boys. They did play the princess, the prince, and the dragon, after all. But they also played soccer, and wrestled, and fought, and generally got physical.
They were practically the same. Except for her long hair, different way of speaking, and occasional preference for flower-patterned, brightly colored skirts.
It isn't until a particular day, during a particular game of Futsal do they realize this.
Shige and Tatsuya bicker over positions and Yuki stands to the sideline, removing her cumbersome skirt to reveal comfortable black running shorts. A few gawks and unintelligible splutters later, Tatsuya and Shige realize that they have a crisis on their hands.
They're all smiles, getting their tickets checked and she, waving good-bye.
But a part of Yuki is angry that they're leaving her behind again.