Azusa stood in front of the stair case that led to the music room.
Today was the day they were going to practice, no more slacking off. Generally being in a club meant using time to do club activities but here in the Light Music Club the activities were mindless banters, enjoying tea and relaxing with sweets. The Houkago Tea Time's meetings rarely had anything that was related to music. But it was ironic. Even if they only practiced just a smudge the outcome of it out left her with pure mirth. It left her curious about how the club is able to play so well despite their problems and lack of practice.
She threw her fist into the air, "Today is the day I'll definitely make a comeback!" Then she quickly glanced around to see if people sweat dropped.
Azusa sighed. Pumping with excitement was something she did out of character but she was getting used to it as a certain person's personality was rubbing off on her.
She ran up the brown steps her twin pigtails bobbing and swaying in the motion. She carefully turned the knob, to find a certain—
It was the lighthearted shoulder-length brunette, Yui Hirasawa, who was in her third year. She was smiling blithely as usual watching Ton-chan. It was a wonder how she was always oddly optimistic.
The younger girl looked around the room to find Yui the only one there, "Yui-senpai, where are the others?"
"Ah," Yui put a finger on her chin "I believe they have cleaning duty."
"I see" Azusa closed the door and set her school bag on the chair. "We should really practice today"
Yui lazily narrowed her eyes, "I'm hungry Azu-nyan~ I wish Mugi-chan was here to make us tea"
Azusa frowned sitting at her usual spot, "…Me too…" She suddenly froze, Crap. My attention is getting diverted again! I'm getting side-tracked. I can't let these distractions—
"Azu-nyan, Ton-chan looks hungry can I feed him?" The brunette asked with wide child-like eyes as she glanced at the tank, she pressed her fingers against the tank. The turtle kindly stared at Yui as if he was responding to her.
"O-okay, just feed Ton-chan 5 pellets" she held out her five fingers signifying the number. Yui smiled and nod as she looked for the aquatic turtle pellets.
Instead of anticipating Yui to feed Ton-chan, Azusa walked over to her black guitar case and brought it out. She played simple chords to warm up as she looked at the mirror. "Eh? We still have those stickers? Yui-senpai I thought you cleaned the mirror"
"Ehehehe" Yui rubbed the back of her head, "I did, but I decided to stick new cuter ones."
"You shouldn't put stickers on everything," Azusa dead panned, "But I guess I'll clean it then."
"Azu-nyan you're so strict~"
Azusa frowned, if they continued at this rate nothing would be done, but thank god Mio-senpai wasn't like this.
Mio, Mugi, Ritsu, Yui. If Azusa had to rank the person with the most diligence it would be like that. But if Azusa were to rank the person she was closest with to the most distant one, it would be Yui, Mio, Ritsu, and Mugi. Evidently, she cared most for Yui because throughout the whole 2 years being in the club she was a constant victim of her skin ship. She didn't want to admit it but Yui had incredible focus and retention when she had a clear goal in sight.
Suddenly Yui got an idea, and walked over to Azusa, "Let's go eat out!"
She gawked, "Eat out! But what about practice?" She said and strummed her guitar so Yui could get a wake up call.
"The others are taking they're time, and I have no energy left to practice" Yui yawned motioning her left hand back and forth, "Azu-nyan~, Azu-nyan~," she cooed lovingly as she held the younger girl tightly.
And then she grabbed Azusa's hand running out of the room.
She had no idea where they were going, but Yui was leading the way with confidence and excitement. Every time she asked where they were headed, she said, "It's a surprise."
"Did I ever tell you I hate surprises?"
She looked over her shoulder. "If it makes you feel any better, we're here."
They stopped before a… "Arcade?"
"Yeah! What's wrong Azu-nyan?" She rubbed the back of her head embarrassedly. "It's not good, is it?"
"No, it's just—unexpected. I thought you said you were hungry."
Yui was worried for a moment there and ignored her comment, "Eh, let's go in." She grabbed Azusa's arm and dragged her in. They entered and were immediately assaulted by the sound of arcade machines, gaming music, and exploding sound effects. Neon lights lit up on amazing box-shaped machines, whilst people inserted tokens and began to play on them. All sorts of amazing sights beheld her as the sliding doors first parted…
Azusa wasn't much of a gamer, but she was kind of interested in the light-gun cabinets. She liked to shoot stuff. The thought was…therapeutic.
"What games should we play first Azu-nyan?"
Azusa looked around the arcade. "There are so many games to play…oh there!" She pointed a two player shooting game. She raced over to the machine grabbing the blue gun. She looked at her senior who hesitated, "Yui-Senpai? Aren't you going to play?"
Yui waved her hands in dismay, "I-Its co-op so I'll just watch you play"
Azusa frowned "Here" she handed Yui the blue gun, "It's simple you shoot the enemies, don't shoot the hostages."
Yui held the blue light gun shooter while Azusa inserted 2 tokens for each slot. Azusa used the light gun shooter to pick the game settings in the game menu.
"Are you ready senpai?"
"Hn!" Yui nodded attentively.
When the game started Azusa started shooting at the people who were labeled as targets, Yui started mimicking her actions.
"Senpai you killed a hostage!"
"Oh is that so?"
"Eh! You killed another hostage!"
"Sorry the screen proceeds so fast it's hard to follow. It makes my head dizzy" Yui continued, "I ran out of ammo. How do I…gain more?"
"Oh you reload by doing this." Azusa plunge her gun in a downward motion and started shooting again.
Yui watched carefully then tried to imitate Azusa, "Azu-nyan I died!"
"Don't worry you'll spawn again"
"I feel so liberated!" Yui said, "I don't even know what I was afraid of this entire time."
"Yui-senpai…you're so amazing" Azusa grabbed her senior's hands, "I don't think I ever met anyone who died so much on the first stage! And on top of that killed more hostages than enemies!"
"Heh," This wasn't the reaction Yui was going for but whatever works for her. "I think I'm starting to get it now. It's about confidence. At first I was afraid to fail, but after awhile, I became confident that I would fail."
After a couple excuses, they found themselves competing at the basketball machines. Shooting games? No problem. But basketball? Azusa wasn't as good. The rims were made out of bouncy material, because the ball kept clanking for her.
"She shoots; she scores, and beats the buzzer for the final winning!" Yui raised her arms in triumph, basking in a point total higher than Azusa's. It was a little over-the-top, since she only beat her by two. It was six to four, and it was out of twenty shots, so they both sucked—she just sucked less.
"Oh, wow….what now, Yui-senpai?" Azusa turned around.
She turned; it was a gleaming beacon of cuddly cuteness in a pile of stuffed toys. Every other doll was not as cute as the black cat plush toy. Azusa wanted to touch it, to feel its soft exterior, but it was trapped behind a Plexiglas front,waiting for someone to come along and release it.
Yui followed Azusa staring longingly at the doll in the toy crane machine. She eagerly pulled Azusa over to the classic game and pointed to the black cat, "Do you want this?"
Turning away nervously, "No—it's okay." the girl answered as if it didn't concern her.
"Don't worry about it," the brunette girl assured, she dug around her uniform pocket.
"Don't underestimate your Senpai. I'll definitely get that plush for you." She pulled out a row of tokens from her pocket.
She only had 6 tokens—only good enough for four tries. It was more than enough. She inserted the coins and grabbed the joystick, which activated the claw. It wouldn't be easy. There was a reason why these machines were always full of prizes, and it had nothing to do with timely restocks. There was skill involved; she had to consider the angle of approach, the claw placement, but the most important factor was simply pure luck.
This machine was different though. There was only one cat plushie in a sea of teddy bears and ducks.
This was going to be difficult. The cat was stuck underneath a pile of bears, a, trying to smother the poor thing with their bodies. It was time to correct this. With her first try, she positioned the claw above them and pushed the red button on the joystick. The claw descended and it grasped the limbs of one duck, one bear, and fox doll. It rose, pulling the three animals out of the way. As the claw carried the toys, they predictably dropped before reaching the dump chute. No matter, she expected that.
Azusa was watching anxiously. She didn't want them, but she didn't want her Senpai to lose either. "You can do it Yui!"
She reloaded the machine and placed the claw over the cat again. Her goal was to reposition it. It was upside down, with its legs sticking up. She couldn't grab it the way it was, so she had to flip it over. The claw dropped and clutched the cat's stubby tail. It ascended, tugging the doll from the company of its evil brethren, until it was dangling by the leg. As the claw snapped into place, the cat jolted loose and fell. Her only prize was air.
Fortunately, the cat had fallen correctly in an upright position. Yui maneuvered the claw over the Plush toy, she made sure to aim the prongs in the radius of the stuff toy and the claw was directly over the prize. The cat stayed put even when the claw snapped into place. She reached into the chute and pulled it out.
She was far too distracted by the cuteness of the doll… thing. While normal cats had beady eyes, sharp claws, thick tails, and strong legs with talons, this cartoon version of the animal looked completely different – its face stretched, and its eyes enlarged, the arms and the legs were completely shrunken, everything about the doll screamed 'kawaii'. Regardless, she still liked it. She hugged it tightly and grinned, burying her face into its softness. "It's so cute! Thank you so much, Yui-senpai! Love you!"
Yui nearly choked on her own tongue.
Realizing what she just said, "… Eh?" Azusa instantly snapped up. "Eh? I-I mean—! Um… no, I—!"
She turned away. Yui knew the girl didn't mean it that way, but seeing her denying so desperately like this, she couldn't help but to think that Azusa actually did really… probably…? — No, no. She was just looking elsewhere to hide her flushed cheeks… Yes, this was all done out of convenience.
Still stuttering, Azusa shook her head rapidly and tried to search for the right word, "I-I meant…!" but her shyness was getting to her, and it was so hard to think – "I-I Yui-senpai…thank you for the stuff toy" She blurted in one breath.
Yui patted her on the head and smiled. To see her happy and flushed was easily worth the effort. "Anything for you, Azu-nyan~ "
"Eh Yui. Aren't you hungry?" she asked.
"…!" Yui almost fell over out of the many things she expected her to say that wasn't one of them, "Now that you mention it..."
Yui and Azusa walked down the promenade, Azusa walked slightly behind Yui clutching onto her toy, still slightly embarrassed of her stupid child confession.
"La la la la—"
Azusa glanced over at her. She was looking up at the afternoon sky again, singing a lullaby-like song. Her high-pitched voice wasn't so bad when she sang quietly, the girl decided.
"Azu-nyan!" Yui suddenly stopped walking causing Azusa collide onto her back interrupting her thoughts, "Stay here,"
"Eh?" Azusa watched Yui walk inside the nearest oriental store disappearing inside the store. Hmph she could have just told me she wanted to buy something instead of making me wait,Azusa huffed.
After a few minutes of standing alone and watching people walk by, Yui returned holding two ice cream cones in her hands.
The girl sighed, "So that's why it took you so long?"
She grinned. "I couldn't help it! I can't make it to a restaurant; I might die of being food deprived."
"So!" Yui held the cones up higher she was kneeling down on one knee, "Strawberry or chocolate?"
Azusa blinked a couple of times before looking at the tempting, sweet, and delicious-looking dessert. "I-it's okay, I'm not really hungry"
Yui looked at the girl, "Are you sure, it's sweet and delicious I'm sure you would like this"
"…" She bit onto her tongue.
Giggling, she continued to tempt her, "This ice-cream looks really good…"
Yui continued, "Look at the soft cream – oh, hey! There are real strawberry bits in this strawberry-flavored one! It looks soooo good! But… what should I do? I can't possible finish them on my own…"
Azusa knew very well that this was all just a play, but she turned back to the girl. And was about to reach for the pink cone, but then, for the slightest second, the slightest split of a second, she could see the brunette twitch a little. The girl shook her head lightly, and changed her hand's direction towards the chocolate cone. "This one,"
She grinned and happily handed it to Azusa. Right away, Yui dug herself into the pink ice-cream, savoring, munching on the strawberry bits whilst smiling to herself as if she's never eaten something so wondrous before.
Azusa couldn't help it but to stare in awe at her child-like innocence. It was just an ice-cream, but the girl looked so, so happy. She turned to her own ice-cream and stared at it. The white cream was starting to melt, but it wasn't dripping down the cone yet. She licked up the melting parts quickly, and wow, the sweet taste just reminded her how much she adored the taste of chocolate, and that her favorite flavor was, in fact, chocolate. Hungrily, she finished the rest of the cone.
Yui watch Azusa finish her ice cream cone as they strolled down the streets, "Azu-nyan, lets take a picture!"
"O-okay…" Azusa agreed, it was weird it was like her senpai thought of everything random walking down the streets.
Yui took out her pink flip phone holding it in front of them, they both in unison held out peace signs.
"I'm going to send it to Ritsu, Mio and Mugi"
At home Yui clutched onto one of the pillows on the couch in the living room, Ui was making her dinner. She blankly stared at her notebook that she was supposed to be studying.
"It's so cute! Thank you so much, Yui-senpai! Love you!"
She swallowed. Out of everything, she was reminded of this particular scene.
"… Love you!"
… It wasn't even for real, intentional, or, more like, she didn't even mean it that way!
"… Love you!"
Yui closed her eyes. She had to stop thinking about this…
"… Yui-senpai… Love you!"
Seriously, stop. She could feel her cheeks getting warmer. Please don't let me be blushing, was what she was thinking. Well, how could she possibly not?
"… Yui-senpai…, I love you!"
ssSpenaifdgjdfllkgeyoufg Oh god, now she was filling in random words! Yui bit hard onto her lower lip as her body tensed up, she decided to roll around the carpet to help her ease her mind.
Yui's head started to feel light as she rolled happily on the floor. But suddenly her sister's voice started distorting as she started talking.
"OnEe-cHAn ….DInNERR..and it's …READAYYY!"
But only one thing was on her mind.