A/N: Wow, it's been a looong time since I last updated. I had a huge writers block, again. These things will be the death of me I swear. But! I finally got to writing the next chapter. I apologize for the long wait, and I hope you all enjoy this chapter.
Yui sighed as she walked down the block, away from Azusa's apartment. She shivered slightly from the chill that had settled into the night despite the number of people walking around her. She shoved her hands into her pockets and slightly closed into herself to contain the heat.
She continued her trek down the streets of the city, past the buildings that had large signs above them, and took a turn down the alley. She continued down side streets and took twists and turn until she finally reached another part of the city she was sure Azusa never ventured into.
She could hear the sounds of stray dogs and cats, and looked up at the apartments she was walking past. Gone were the neon lights that illuminated the streets, and instead they were replaced with simple streetlamps, some of which that were flickering.
The apartment buildings themselves were not large like and prestine like Azusa's, sure some were larger than others, however most were tiny versions of Azusa's all meant to squeeze in at most two people in much tighter quarters.
Finally, she reached her apartment and walked up the stairs, the elevator had long been broken the few times the landlord chooses to fix it, no one trust the machine enough to enter the tiny, creaky space. Once on the top floor, she walked down the dirty outdoor walkway, with litter thrown about, and she reached her apartment in the middle.
Outside her door, she heard a familiar noise. She heard her head slightly and was able to pick out the voices of two people, a man and a woman, screaming at each other. Yui wasn't sure what was about, but from when she stayed in her apartment when they were both home, it always seemed to be about money. When she heard the sound of glass breaking inside the room, she sighed and put her key in the lock.
The door creaked as she opened it, and it took multiple tries to take the key out of the lock. With a final pull, it was released from the lock and Yui tipped backwards a bit from the force.
Great, Yui thought as she entered her home. One down, now just the last hard part. She grabbed the doorknob and closed the door until it halted to a stop just before the doorframe. She gripped it harder and began pulling it towards her with much greater force repeatedly until finally, the door slammed closed.
She held onto the doorknob as a way to keep herself slightly steady, however she stayed in front of the door gripping it for a few moments than needed. Her head was hung and her shoulders sagged, nothing was heard throughout the apartment other than the muffled noises of the neighbors through the thin walls.
On one side she could vaguely hear the sound of the television, playing some sort of late night comedy show and she could occasionally hear the sound of heavy, unfiltered laughter. On the other side was the arguing couple, which seemed to have gotten louder.
"Shut up…" Yui choked out, barely audible with the other noises coming through her walls. Of course, she wasn't heard, her unit was much quieter than the ones on either side of her. Finally she stood up straight and walked further inside, though there wasn't much more space to walk into.
The only other room inside was her bathroom, which was pathetically small. Just a few steps inside and she reached her main room, which happened to be her only other room. She looked off to the side, where a sort of mini kitchen was built, with only a counter, a sink, and a tiny fridge. She walked to the center of the room, where a single lamp was placed on a small table, and flipped the switch on.
With the light on, she was able to see her bare room completely, the walls were filthy, and the furniture in the kitchen was also just as filthy. The only other furniture in her apartment was the table and lamp, and across the wall where the futon was placed.
She walked to an empty wall and gently placed her guitar down. She knelt down and unzipped the case, revealing the polished Gibson Les Paul. She ran her finger along it, gazing at it intently, thinking of the first time she got it and how she used to care for it too much. She quickly closed it, looked away and stood up.
It was better not to think of painful things.
She changed her clothes and turned off the light, walking to the futon in the dark. She laid down in it and brought the covers up to her chin. She turned on her side and closed her eyes, still hearing the sound of her neighbors until she had finally drifted to sleep.
The next day Azusa had woken up in the morning like she always had and got dressed for work. When she was walking down the street to her office building she turned the corner and bumped into someone with enough force to begin falling backwards. Luckily, she felt someone grab her arm and felt another arm wrap around her back, stopping her from falling to the ground.
"Whoa easy there, Nakano-san," Azusa looked up in surprise and saw it was Yui who she had bumped into, again. Yui smiled down at her and Azusa felt her cheeks heat up in embarrassment. She quickly stood up straight and Yui let go of her, laughing lightly. "You need to start watching where you're going."
"I-I- Um, thank you for catching me, Hirasawa-san." Azusa said, bowing slightly, and Yui laughed nervously and scratched her chin.
"Awe, you don't need to be so formal, we're acquaintances right?" Azusa looked up at Yui's words, watching as she looked away slightly as she spoke. Azusa, however, noticed something else. She squinted her eyes, as if that would let her see it better, and Yui noticed. The taller girl looked down at Azusa and frowned at the odd look Azusa gave her. "W-what?"
"Are… you okay, Hirasawa-san?" Azusa asked, and Yui tilted her head.
"What do you mean?" Yui asked, and Azusa kept staring at her, there was no mistaking it.
"You look tired." At Azusa's words Yui's eyes widened slightly and she looked away again and rubbed her eyes. But Azusa had already seen the bags under her eyes, and her smile was a little less full.
"I just had trouble sleeping last night," Yui said with a laugh and forced enthusiasm. She dropped her hand and looked back at Azusa, smiling like usual. She placed her hands in the pockets of her jacket and spun on her heel. "Nakano-san, don't you have work?"
"Ah!" Azusa jumped, forgetting that she was indeed on the way to work. Yui looked behind her slightly and grinned a bit. "I almost forgot!"
"Let's go, then." Yui said and began walking with Azusa quickly following her. They walked side by side and Azusa looked at Yui with a slight frown. The taller girl was certainly just as nice and caring as usual, but she lacked the energy that she always seemed to have and it worried Azusa. The walk was quiet and it wasn't that long until she reached the office and Yui paused and looked up at the large building.
"Well," Yui said and looked at Azusa and smiled. "This is your stop, have a good time at work, Nakano-san." Yui began turning around to go who knows where, and Azusa sadly watched her begin to walk away.
"U-um!" Azusa began, and Yui stopped and looked behind her. "Will you be at the park again tonight?" Yui smiled softly and nodded.
"Just tell me a time and I'll try my hardest to be there."
"Around six? I mean, if you can…" Azusa spoke quietly, and Yui grinned and nodded.
"I'll see you then." Yui gave her a small wave and walked past her building, moving her away around the bodies of business people all around her trying to get to work. Azusa stared at Yui until she couldn't, and once Yui was out of sight, she turned and began walking into the building with a small smile on her face.
When Azusa had gotten out of work, she looked up at the sky and sighed. It wasn't particularly late, she had stayed at work later, however with the cold the night would take over the day quickly and it was already rather dark.
She quickly made her way to the park, her steps giddy with excitement at meeting Yui. She was halfway to the park when she felt someone tap her shoulder, and she looked down behind her with a smile, expecting to it to be Yui.
"Yo," Instead it was Jun behind her, with a hand raised and a lopsided grin on her face. "Surprised to see you here."
"Oh, it's just you," Azusa said with a sigh, disappointed that it wasn't Yui. "Hey, Jun."
"'Hey, Jun'?" Jun folded her arms and leaned closer to Azusa, invading her personal space. Azusa looked up and jerked backward in surprise. Jun was looking at her with a death glare and Azusa gave her a nervous smile. "What's that supposed to mean? You don't sound very happy to see me."
"I, uh, I'm really happy to see you," Azusa said with a smile. "How are you Jun?"
"A-zu-sa," Jun slowly spoke, inching closer to Azusa with each syllable. She wrapped an arm around Azusa's neck and pulled her forward, ruffling her head a little as she did so. "Ya know, that's not a nice way to treat a friend."
"You're right, sorry, can you stop touching my hair now?" Azusa pouted and Jun laughed and let go of Azusa. Azusa sighed and putting the strands of hair back in their place.
"You going home?" Jun asked, eyeing her work clothes, knowing full well where she was coming from.
"Err, actually, no," Jun raised an eyebrow at the answer, but didn't interrupt Azusa. "I'm going to meet a… an acquaintance."
"Oh?" Jun looked at Azusa with a curious expression. Sure, she was shocked, she was really shocked, but she didn't want that to show. This was something Azusa had never done before, the last thing she thought Azusa needed was gaping looks. "Someone from work?"
"No…" Azusa said, and Jun's shock and curiosity increased. "It's someone I've met on the street a few times now, on the way to work and to the apartment…"
"Hold up," Jun said loudly, making Azusa, who had been looking down thoughtfully, look up. "You're meeting up with a stranger, who you've only met a couple of times, on the street, tonight, at night?" Azusa blinked an slowly nodded.
"Um, the word tonight usually implies it's going to be night when something happens." Jun's eyebrows twitched and she frowned, Azusa's snarkiness sometimes had a tendency to come at the most aggravating moments.
"Azusa, isn't meeting someone at night that you barely know and only see in the streets a bad idea?" Jun said and Azusa looked up slightly in thought. She brought a finger up to her chin and tilted her head slightly with a confused look.
"Is it?" Jun sighed, her shoulders sagging a bit in defeat. Despite how smart Azusa was, how career minded and dedicated she was, there were times when she didn't use her head very much. She could solve a complicated problem with a simple solution without any problem, but she often times didn't understand simple things that involved the real world.
"It is!" Jun spoke, making Azusa jumped and look at her. "What do you know about this person?"
"What do I know about her?" Azusa asked, and Jun nodded. Azusa frowned as she thought about Yui, what did she know about Yui? "Um… her name?" What else though? "Oh! She has a guitar, I think she works at that restaurant we went to, but I'm not sure, and um…" Azusa thought about Yui more, but the more she did, the more she realized she didn't know anything other than that.
"That's it?" Jun asked. She leaned back and crossed her arms, look at Azusa with a slight frown. "Okay, well it's not like the person knows everything about you, right? Like, they don't know where you live and stuff so I guess it's fine."
"About that…" Azusa spoke up, remembering Yui walking her home the other day. "I… she walked me home, and then walked me to work. She walks with me to places a lot…" Jun looked at her with a serious expression and then rubbed her head.
"Azusa…" Azusa gave her a sheepish smile, and Jun looked up. "Okay, she could be a serial killer for all you know, so - "
"She's not!" The forcefulness of Azusa's voice caused Jun to become silent, and Azusa was looking at her angrily, with both her fists up in the air. After a few moments she looked down and lowered her fists. "I mean, I know we haven't talked a lot, and we're not as close as I am to you, but, she's not a bad person."
"Azusa…" Jun said quietly, mostly to herself. She had never seen Azusa react so… passionately to another person, much less a stranger. With a small smile she walked up to Azusa, who looked up at her curiously. She dug her hand into her pocket and with the other grabbed Azusa's hand. She pulled the hand that was in the pocket out and placed it on Azusa's palm. "Just to be safe."
Azusa tilted her head and when Jun took a step back she looked down to see a bottle of pepper spray. When she looked back up at Jun, the other girl slapped her shoulders and looked straight in Azusa's eyes with a serious expression.
"Don't be afraid to use it, if she is a serial killer she can't grab her axe when you spray her in the eyes."
"She's not a serial killer! Or… anything weird you're thinking she is!" Jun let go of her and smiled softly at Azusa.
"Well, still keep it with you. And text me when you get home, I'll see you later." Jun waved at her and began walking to whatever her destination was. Azusa looked and the spray in her hands and sighed, though she was glad that Jun cared about her safety so much. With a shake of her head she turned back around and headed to the park, where she was going to meet Jun.
Azusa finally reached the park, and as she entered it she looked around trying to find Yui. Finally, her eyes stopped on the girl, who was surrounded by cats, none of which had a collar on them. She slowly walked towards Yui, not sure what to do. Once she was a few short steps away she stopped and watched Yui.
The brown haired girl had her guitar on the ground next to her, and was kneeling down petting a white haired cat in front of her. It tilted its head, allowing her better access to scratch it, and she had a gentle smile on her face as she lightly hummed to herself.
Azusa felt something rub against her leg and she was forced to look away. She looked down to see a cat walk in between her legs, rubbing itself against her and wrapping its tail around her ankle. Azusa took a step back, and the cat stilled at the movement. It looked back up at her before walking closer again.
"W-what do you want?" Azusa asked, as if it could answer. She had never had a cat choose to go up to her. Every time she went near one it would hiss at her, and she had deemed herself a long time ago hated by all cats, which made her sad since she liked the animals.
She slowly knelt down as well and placed her hand out. Just as she was about to pet it she pulled her hand back again. The small cat took a step forward and leaned its head to her fingers, smelling it first and then rubbing her hand against it.
Azusa smiled and lightly scratched the top of its head, surprised that it actually went near her. She watched as it moved its body around until it was rubbing its back against her hand. Her eyes shined in amazement as she felt its soft fur rub against her, and she could have sworn she heard it purring.
Azusa jumped when the cat quickly turned and ran into the bushes. She frowned, and wondered if she had done something wrong. Looking up though, she saw all the other cats dispersing, even the one that Yui had been petting. Yui watched them run back, still kneeling down with her arms wrapped around her legs. Once they were all gone she tilted her head and looked at Azusa.
"Don't worry, they'll be back," Yui said with a smile and stood up. She looked down and patted her jeans, though due to how dark they were, the white fur that was on it didn't go away completely. With a sigh she grabbed her backpack and stood up with her back straight. "Oh well."
"Do those cats come here often?" Azusa asked, looking at the bushes they disappeared too. She heard footsteps and looked up at Yui walking towards her. Once Yui was in front of her, the taller girl held out her hand. Azusa looked at it, then back at Yui, who was looking at her with a gentle smile.
Slowly, Azusa placed her smaller and on top of Yui's. Yui slightly wrapped her fingers around Azusa's, as if not to startle or hurt her.
"Ready?" Yui asked, and Azusa nodded. Yui tightened her grip a little more and with little effort pulled Azusa up with one hand. Azusa stumbled forward a bit, and Yui wrapped her arm around her to support her.
Azusa looked up at Yui, and saw the brown eyes looking at her warmly, a small smile that seemed genuine. They both stilled, Azusa didn't retract her hand and Yui's arm still rested comfortably on Azusas backside.
The sound of loud, incoherent yelling broke whatever trance the two were in, and Azusa jumped and let go of Yui's hand. However she didn't back away, instead she gripped Yui's jacket with the other and held the hand that was entwined with Yui's close to her chest.
Yui looked behind her shoulder, towards the noise. There were two men in suits walking side by side, one of them with his arm over the other, both stumbling as they crossed the park slowly. They were laughing loudly and reeked of booze, causing everyone to steer clear of them and give them dirty looks.
As Azusa looked up at Yui, she saw something other than the usual smile or grin Yui wore on her face. Instead, her mouth was turned downward in a grimace and she saw Yui's eyes turn from affection to a glare.
When she turned back to Azusa though, she quickly changed her expression from one of annoyance and irritation to a smile. Or at least a forced, it seemed that way to Azusa at least.
"Let's go somewhere else." Yui said, though her voice wasn't as cheerful and her smile didn't seem as genuine as it had been a second ago. Azusa nodded and they began walking in the opposite direction of the drunk pair. However, as they passed them, the smell of alcohol oozed off them. Azusa turned her head away, and as she did so, she felt Yui's hand on her shoulder, her thumb rubbing the shoulder in small circles.
As soon as the men were far away and the smell was gone, Yui removed her hand and Azusa felt the cold hit it again. Yui shoved her hands in her pockets and let out a deep sigh, over what Azusa wasn't sure.
"Man, that was a mood killer," Yui groaned and looked at Azusa with a smile. "Sorry about that."
"It's no problem, besides, it's not your fault they came out of nowhere." And ruined the moment. Azusa thought bitterly, then stopped suddenly. Moment? Were they having one?
"Nakano-san?" Yui was looking back at her with a confused expression. Azusa shook her head, no they weren't having any kind of moment, they were just acting like normal friends. Not that she had many examples of friendship in her life. She looked at Yui, remembering Jun's words. She's not a serial killer or a creep or anything, no way.
"Hey, um," Azusa figured there was one way to be sure if she was in fact becoming friends with some kind of criminal, though she wasn't sure how to… word properly. "Do you mind if I ask you something?"
"Not really, go ahead." Yui was completely turned around now so that she was facing Azusa, though she didn't take any steps toward the girl.
"U-um, you're not… I mean…" Yui tilted her head to the side and Azusa took a deep breath as she brought her hand to her chest. "You're not a serial killer or anything right?" She asked and looked away quickly after, unsure of what Yui's reaction would be. After a few quiet moments she heard laughter and looked back up to see Yui with her head to the side, hand over her mouth and her body shaking. When she saw Azusa looking at her, she raised her hands up, though there was still a grin on her face.
"I'm not a serial killer, I promise." Yui said, and Azusa blushed and looked away.
"You're not a stalker right?" Azusa asked, not sure if maybe Yui was something else that was awful and not giving her a clear answer.
"Nope, not a stalker." Yui responded.
"Then… in a gang?" She had to make sure she went through all possibilities.
"Not in one of those, they seem pretty scary." Yui easily replied, her voice cracking occasionally and a small chuckle getting out.
"Then… are you a… creep?" Azusa asked, not sure what else to go through.
"I don't think so, I don't consider myself creepy but that's just me." Yui said.
"Well…" Azusa said, blushing harder because of the ridiculous questions she was asking. I hate you Jun. "You're not creepy to me." When she looked up again, Yui was smiling and looking at her with a soft expression. She walked towards Azusa and pulled something out of her pocket. When Azusa looked down she saw a slightly old phone in her hands.
"Why don't we trade numbers, is that okay with you?" Yui asked and Azusa looked at Yui for a few seconds, weighing her options. She had asked, rather awkwardly, if Yui was a criminal of sorts, and Yui denied it, though she could guess that Yui could have lied through any of them. Though what were the chances that of all the people in the city she'd meet, it would be a criminal? She went through her purse and pulled out a phone as well, one much newer and pristine than Yui's.
"Yeah, it's fine." Yui smiled and they exchanged phones and placed each other's numbers in it. When Azusa got her phone back, she looked down at the number it was on, and at Yui's name on the top of it.
"Ne, Nakano-san, if you want to chat or hang out, just give me a text." Yui said, and Azusa smiled and nodded.
"I will." She said, rather happily with a large smile on her face. Yui smiled and rubbed the back of her head embarrassedly. For all Azusa could have known Yui could have lied through her teeth when she answered Azusa, though the shorter girl was sure that was her overactive imagination getting to the best of her, she did have a tendancy to worry too much. What she did know, however, was that she enjoyed spending time with Yui, and wanted to spend more time with her.