Chapter 1: The day after Graduation
The train ride from Hikarizaka to Sunohara's home town was a long one. He watched the passing by of flower fields and trees from the window of the train. It was the day after his Graduation from Hikarizaka private high school and was on his way back home to his parents to start his new life. To be honest Sunohara was a little nervous, he didn't know what to expect of the world and that scared him a little. The compartment he was sitting in was empty except for his luggage. A few cows were grazing in a passing field which for some reason made him feel glad he was going home, the small town where he came from was pretty rural with farmland surrounding it. A girl opened the sliding door to his compartment and peered in, she looked his age. "Excuse me, would you mind if I sit in here?" she said. Sunohara looked up at her and gestured the "go ahead" and she bowed before sitting down. "Sorry if I'm imposing but everywhere else is full" she said. Sunohara sat up
"It's not a problem, I was getting bored sat on my own anyway" he said. The girl looked oddly relieved
"What's your name if you don't mind me asking, I'm Lucy Green" the girl introduced. Sunohara smiled
"Yohei Sunohara. You're not from Japan are you?" he asked. Lucy shook her head. There was something oddly alluring to her, usually Sunohara would go crazy with joy if a cute girl started a conversation with him but for some reason he was calm and natural, maybe because he was tired from the night before.
"No, I'm from America but I've lived in Tohoku for around three years. Where are you from?" she asked. Sunohara thought about Tomoya, Nagisa and everyone else back in Hikarizaka
"Tohoku but I've spent the last three years in Hikarizaka for high school, I graduated yesterday" he said "Truth be told, I'll miss it… even though I hated it"
"What makes you miss it if you hate it?" she asked looking out at the fields
"I had tons of good memories there, memories and friends. Especially Tomoya" Sunohara remembered the look on Tomoya's face when they last saw each other, he wasn't sad with despair but he wasn't happy and bounding either, he was worrying about his sick girlfriend Nagisa who had to repeat her senior year for the second time
"What's he like?" she asked suddenly
"Tomoya? Well he is a kind person, he helps his friends out a lot. He helped me out when I was in a… well… a dark place let's just say" he answered remembering the fight they had when Tomoya pretended to be Sunohara's little sister's boyfriend to try and make Sunohara see sense
"What happened? Want to talk about it?" Lucy asked
"It's a little complicated, you sure?" he asked. Lucy checked her watch
"We got plenty of time, I'm a very good listener" she said
"Well, all right… My little sister came to play in a baseball match we had for the neighbourhood league but she stuck around because she said she was worried about me not deciding my future. My friend Tomoya and I came up with a plan to fool my sister into thinking I was being looked after by a responsible girlfriend so we searched for a suitable match. Tomoya being Tomoya made me sound like a pimp though. In the end we ran out of options until Sanae, Tomoya's girlfriend's mom, offered to help. The date went well but my sister didn't buy it. I was stupidly thinking I was in love with Sanae when my sister dumped a huge bombshell on me saying she had a boyfriend who was older than her, I was stupid back then and said 'who has time for a little sister if you're in love' and she said the same thing back to me. A few days passed and I caught Tomoya on a date with my sister, Mei by the way, and it turned out that he was the mystery boyfriend. At first I was shocked but I thought 'it's Tomoya… it's fine' after a few more days past I heard they were trying to get the soccer team to let me re-join but being the assholes they are they refused and started to pick on my sister. I waited to see if Tomoya would step in and he wouldn't so I rushed in and kicked their pompous asses. After the fight me and Tomoya confronted each other and talked through our fists. It was only after that fight I realised Tomoya and Mei were only pretending and were trying to make me see sense. That was near the start of my last semester I think." Sunohara finished. Telling Lucy made him think about how stupid he really was back then
"That's quite a story. So Tomoya was trying to help you and not hurt you?" Lucy asked
"It's obvious to me now but I didn't see it back then" the announcer cut in
"Next stop, Tohoku Station" it said. Sunohara and Lucy stood up as the train gradually reduced its speed.
"It was nice meeting you, Sunohara. I hope we can meet again here's my phone number" she said and wrote on a small piece of paper and handed it to him. They left the train and parted ways. As soon as she was out of sight he let out a big "Yahoo!" and began running down the platform pulling his suitcase along behind him with a beaming smile on his face.
He reached his house still with a beaming smile on his face. He collected himself and knocked on the door. He waited for a few minutes then a girl around 14 answered. "Hello Mei, it's been a while" he said and Mei ran and hugged him
"Welcome home Yohei, come on in!" she said happily and grabbed his suitcase off him. "How was your trip?" she asked. The beaming smile threw itself back on his face
"I got a nice girl's phone number by telling her the story about when me and you had that… problem a while back" he said sitting down on a kitchen stool
"So telling a story of when Okazaki had to help you out of your own deluded love life turned a girl on enough to give you her phone number… wow she must be desperate" Mei said. Sunohara made a whining noise
"Don't say it like that Mei! I know I was stupid back then and I made a lot of terrible mistakes but I'm different now! Anyway, she's an American who's been living in Tohoku for the past three years" Sunohara seemed to be proud of himself, after all it was the first time a girl gave him her phone number
"Is her name Lucy Green?" Mei asked. Sunohara looked shocked
"Y… yes that's her name, how did you know?" Mei giggled "what's so funny?"
"She lives next door Yohei!" she exclaimed and Sunohara exploded in shock
"WHAT!?" he screamed and rushed out to read the name plate on the next door mailbox and sure enough it read "Green" he ran back into his house and was stuck for words and could only manage to point in the direction of the house next door and make whining and grunting sounds. Then all of a sudden he realised what that meant and the smile came back "that's awesome! My potential girlfriend lives right next door!"
"She's taken…" Mei suddenly said and he was struck by an imaginary lightning bolt and fell flat on his face. "Just kidding, you're still the same!" Mei said and giggled again. He sprang up and blew steam through his nose
"Don't do that Mei! You scared me!" he said in a distraught voice. A knock on the door caused him to almost jump out of his skin. Mei answered the door and Lucy appeared on the other side. He rushed up to the door behind Mei and gave a greeting smile. "Hi again Lucy, what can we do for you?" he said
"Oh well, I was pondering over your name and I was sure I heard it before so I came to confirm it, I was right! You're part of the Sunohara's, my next door neighbours!" she said. Mei looked underwhelmed
"Wow… for Tohoku's kid genius… you couldn't figure that out straight away?" she said. Lucy blushed
"I'm not so good with names, Mei, you know that!" she said. Sunohara looked confused
"Kid genius?" he said "Like Kotomi?" Mei nodded
"Yes, Lucy graduated from Harvard when she was just fifteen… but Kotomi is still smarter than her" Sunohara looked at Lucy with admiration
"Wow! You never said… then again I spent the entire train ride talking about myself. Why don't you come in and I'll make some tea?" he said gesturing her to come in
"Well ok if it's alright with you" she said and walked into the house. As she walked past Sunohara, he caught a smell of something sweet, it was her hair. It made his face droop and go all goofy. Mei nudged him "tea, Yohei" she whispered and he snapped out of it and zoomed into the kitchen to make their guest tea.
"Um, sorry if I'm troubling you." She said in a shy voice. Sunohara laughed off the statement
"Really it's no big deal, I'm happy you visited" he said finishing up the tea. He put the cups on a tray and carried it to the kitchen table. Mei thought for a second then snapped her fingers
"I need to go and find mom and dad, they might need help with something… so I'll see you around Lucy" she said and with that she left the two of them in silence. They sat drinking their tea in silence for a few minutes until Lucy cleared her throat to get his attention.
"I've been thinking about the story you told me on the train. You said you looked for a fake responsible girlfriend… why didn't you look for a real one instead?" she asked slightly blushing
"It was only to trick Mei into thinking I was well looked after… Tomoya said it could have turned into a real relationship but I didn't know Sanae was actually Nagisa's, Tomoya's girlfriend, mother, I thought she was her sister. You can tell how that turned out" Sunohara answered looking down into his cup of brown swirling tea "why do you ask?"
"I know this is sudden and that we only just met and everything but would you like to try and be my boyfriend?" she asked blushing. He fell off his chair as soon as he heard her ask and dragged himself back up
"You're asking… me out?" he asked surprised and going red himself "are you serious?"
"Yes I am. To be honest I don't really fit in here at Tohoku, my only friend is Mei so I know I can trust your family… but if I was to go out with someone I know, I'll feel a lot more secure here" she said. She blushed a little more "and I want to get to know you more" he was overwhelmed by what was happening and couldn't quite grasp it. Back in Hikarizaka he couldn't even get a girl to engage in a conversation with him let alone get them to ask him out
"Well sure, I can't say no to a cute girl like you" Sunohara said happily. Lucy jumped with joy and kissed his cheek
"Thank you Su… Yohei! I'm really happy you agreed to that!" she chirped and hugged him. Yohei turned bright red as Lucy's breasts pushed against him. He giggled in slight disbelief. Had this just happened? A cute girl asked him out? She was smart to, a graduate at Harvard at the age of fifteen. He couldn't believe his luck as he hugged her back. Was this a dream? Would he suddenly wake up back in his dorm room back in Hikarizaka private high school's dorms? He thought of Nagisa and Tomoya, they were happy even though they were polar opposites yet somehow the same. He smiled as they ended the embrace to sit back down. "Oh congratulations on graduating by the way" Lucy said
"Oh thank you, good riddance to school" he replied. They drank up the rest of their tea began talking about themselves for a while before Yohei's parents came into the house followed by Mei.
"Oh, welcome home Yohei, have a nice trip? I see you've made friends with Lucy" his dad said and bowed
"The trip was good thank you dad" Yohei said. Lucy seemed to go red again and leaned in to his ear
"Can you tell them, I'm kind of nervous" she whispered in his ear. Yohei giggled then sighed
"Dad, me and Lucy have decided to be boyfriend and girlfriend, just thought you should know" his dad froze in his tracks with a look of shock in his face. The shocked face turned into a grin and his eyes glinted. He grabbed Yohei and pulled him to the other side of the room
"So you finally found yourself a girl huh? She's a nice catch too… I'm proud to call you my son!" his dad grew emotional and tears streamed down his cheeks "Oh the wonders of youth… it's beautiful!" he said
"Wow dad… compared to you I'm like oatmeal…" Yohei said in a sarcastic voice. Lucy poked her head over the two of them with a confused expression on her face
"Is there something wrong with me dating your son Mr Sunohara?" she asked and Yohei's dad grinned with that strange glint in his eye. He took a hold of her hand and bowed to her
"There most certainly isn't problem! In fact I'm glad my boy finally got himself a girlfriend… to be honest…" he leaned in closer "he stinks when it comes to women" Yohei frowned and smacked his father over the head
"I don't stink as much as you… it's a miracle mom fell for you…" he took Lucy's hand and led her out of the house. Outside they began to walk down the street, there wasn't any particular reason, Yohei just wanted fresh air and time alone with Lucy to try and get to know her more. "Is my dad usually like that towards you?" he asked
"Well most of the time he just looks at me with a weird expression on his face but he didn't really talk to me that much before today" Yohei laughed
"Yeah that sounds about right… he says he's a big player with women but all he really does is sit in a corner and stare at them all day until they talk to him" Yohei looked up at the sky "so Lucy… what was it like at Harvard? Were you looked down on?" he asked. Lucy giggled
"At first it was tough yes, but as time passed people started to realise I was just as smart as they were, some cases even smarter. Truth be told I was kind of lonely, no one was my own age so everyone was older, it was scary" Lucy thought for a second "oh that's right… you've just graduated right?" she asked
"Yeah, just yesterday, why?" he replied
"Have you decided on what you want to do?" she asked. He shook his head, he could guess where this was going.
"Well, my dad owns a driving company and he's looking for more drivers. He's willing to pay for driving lessons too, would you be interested?" Yohei couldn't believe it. This day was just too awesome. He met a beautiful girl who asked him out and now he got offered a free job right out of high school. He felt it was too good to be true and there was going to be something really bad soon but he shoved that feeling to the back of his mind
"Are you kidding? Of course I'll be interested! Man this is just too awesome!" he beamed
"There's a small catch though…" Yohei's heart suddenly sank
"What's that?" he said in a worried tone
"You'll have to live in a dorm during training periods, but you can leave during free time hours and you can have visitors too" she explained. It wasn't too big of a catch after all he did spend the last three years living in a dorm but he was still a little disappointed
"I guess that's ok, I'm used to living in a dorm so it is fine, as long as I can see you regularly" he replied
"Great, I'll let him know then. He'll be happy that you'll be joining the team" she said and kissed his cheek. Just then a group of boys stepped in there way and looked mean and Yohei instantly took a defensive stance
"I heard you were back today Sunohara! How was High School?" the biggest guy said. Yohei scowled at them
"What do you care? Leave us alone we don't need trouble right now" he said and began to walk the other way but one of the boys grabbed Lucy by the arm and pulled her up. She yelped in pain. Yohei growled loudly "bastards! Let her go!" he barked at them. They laughed
"Or what? You going to go cry to your mommy little boy?" the leader of the group sneered. Yohei cleared his throat and stood up straight with a defiant look on his face
"Let her go… now!" he proclaimed. A powerful but slow fist flew towards him but he caught it and forced it back "I'm not the wimpy scrapper I used to be, you don't let her go and I will not hold back anything" Yohei threatened
"You think that a hollow threat like that will make us do what you say… you must be stupider than we thought, boys… trash him!" the gang leader said. The boy holding Lucy also let go to join in the fight and Yohei grinned
"Ok Lucy run! I'll handle this!" he yelled and Lucy apologised as she ran off. The boys closed in but they were slow and unbalanced. A heavy, clambering punch flew in and Yohei ducked and unleashed a powerful fast uppercut into the leaders chin. He then spun kicked another boy leaving him flattened on the floor. Realising the Yohei was tougher than he was before the gang changed tactics and charged in all at once.
Lucy sat on a fence bordering one of the farms on the outskirts of Tohoku. She was worried and felt guilty about leaving Yohei behind like that. She was impressed though, Yohei managed to get the thugs to release her without them even knowing it. Hopefully Yohei knew what he was going to do after that though. Suddenly she heard footsteps behind her. She turned around and gasped. Yohei looked all beat up but he had a smile on his face. "Are you alright Yohei? You look hurt!" she asked jumping off the fence and ran up to him
"I'm fine, as long as you got away it's ok" he said and leaned against the fence looking out to the horizon. "I used to come out here when I was a kid, it's a beautiful view…" he said. Lucy took a handkerchief and wiped away some dirt and blood from his face
"Thank you for saving me back there" she said. Yohei laughed
"You've done a lot for me today alone, I have to repay you" he said. He felt Lucy's hand on his. He defiantly wasn't like his old self, his time at Hikarizaka High School had changed him for the better, and for that he thanked Tomoya Okazaki in his head.