Disclaimer: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and its original characters belongs entirely to Ryukishi07. Also, any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is merely a coincidence. This fictional work is written by C. 'Cherrylin' L. G.. Any resemblance to the plot, story and concept is not intended, and should not be accused as copied or traced work. All content is fictitious, and should not be confused with real events.
DAYS OF SUMMER
Part I: Love Hurts
Early August, 1983
"Hey.. have you ever been in love?"
It was a hesitant question, that, for a little while, only had the cicadas' crying for a reply as Rena processed it. The sun had hidden itself behind the mountains that surrounded the small village, but its orange light was still tinting the garbage around the old van, on which two teenagers were sitting.
"Yeah, I have," the red-haired girl finally said, well-aware of how touchy this topic was for her friend.
"You have?" Perking her head up in attention, Mion seemed both surprised and curious. "With who?"
Rena smiled softly, her gaze still to the horizon. "I used to hang out with a small group of boys in Ibaraki, and I was crushing on one of them at some point."
"Did you hook up?"
Putting her hands behind her on the van, Rena leaned back with the support of her arms. "For a short time," she answered. "That'll say, for a couple of weeks. Then we figured it didn't really work like that."
"Oh.. I'm sorry."
"Ah don't apologize," the girl let out a little amused chuckle, "we were still friends." She turned her head to look at the tomboy, trying to find the right words. "Mii-chan, sometimes we crush. We just fall in love with someone we never really considered a partner, and it seems just right at the time. Even if we barely know that person. But eventually, we'll stop crushing and see them as a great friend again."
Mion looked at her silently, clearly thinking about those words. Then she turned her head forward, putting her chin on her embraced knees. "I guess..."
Both fell quiet again, Rena trying to find the best way to talk about this matter. She knew Mion had completely fallen for Keiichi, and had been for more than a month now, and was still struggling with her feelings, every day concerned about if the boy thought less of her, was taken by someone else, or simply just didn't want a relationship with her.
"Mii-chan.. We've all experienced crushing on someone. But in most cases, it becomes clear to us later that it wasn't really love." She bit her lower lip, picking her words carefully. "I had a crush on Keiichi-kun at some point."
"You.. had?" The tomboy lifted her head from her knees and looked at her.
"Yeah. Never told him anything though, and after a little week's time, I couldn't see us as anything but a pair of best friends."
"Oh.." Thoughtfully, Mion resumed her former pose. "I suppose I know what you mean.. I fell for Satoshi once.. but.. yeah.."
A hint of dark-blue was starting to coat the village, and the first stars were beginning to show faintly in the darkening sky. The gentle breeze was reaching them, dancing lightly on their bare arms and faces, though, it wasn't cold, the summer night plenty warm for the two girls. The village had fallen silent, houses had lights in their windows in the distance.
The tomboy sighed, clearly feeling insecure. "Do you think.. Shion is.."
"..in love with Keiichi-kun? No."
"..but she flirts a lot wi-"
"No, Mii-chan." Rena said firmly. "Your sister is completely taken with Satoshi-kun, and has been for more than a year. You know that."
"But.. then.. why.. why does she..." Mion's voice trailed off as she hid her eyes in her knees.
Rena immediately learned forward to put her arm around her friend's shoulders. She opened her mouth to speak, but Mion was the first to talk.
"I love him.." she cried in a hoarse whisper.
"I know you do.." Her hand was petting Mion's back reassuringly.
"But... it's... I.."
"Shh..." Rena scooted closer, hugging the tomboy tightly. "It'll be alright.."
"When?" It was only a pathetic, hoarse bark that Mion let out.
Sighing, Rena found it difficult to answer. She didn't want to lie, but she couldn't give any estimate. Tugging Mion closer, she rested her head on top of hers in comfort.
"When...?" Mion repeated. "And how... do I know.. if it's not just temporary..?"
"Well," The girl kept her voice as soft and gentle as she could, "did you feel like this with Satoshi-kun?"
It took a moment before the tomboy replied. "No.." Mion swallowed, her body jerking with the rhythm of her sobs. "This... this hurts.."
The words pierced Rena's heart, and while she already knew her friend was hurting over this, there was just a certain edge of pain in her voice that could make anyone feel miserable, feel the suffering it caused the young teenager.
"You know.. All you have to do is ask him out."
A slightly, twisted laughter escaped Mion's lips, her voice trembling. "Ahah, 'ask him out'? You make it sound so simple!"
"It's not!" the tomboy coughed. "It's not... It's easier said than done..!"
"What are you so afraid of?" Rena said calmly. She waited for a reply, but when she got none, she let out a quiet sigh and continued. "You need to take a step if you want this to happen. As soon as you have, you can't go back, so trust yourself for even just a minute when you're with him and that's done."
"But of what, Mii-chan?"
"Just.. so many things..." the tomboy muttered sorrowfully.
"Like what?" Stubborn, Rena refused to let the matter go; not now.. her friend never confided in anyone, and would never want to show this side of herself. She had to reach her, even if just a little bit. "Are you afraid Keiichi-kun doesn't feel the same way?"
"He doesn't," she said honestly, feeling her friend flinch. "But that has nothing to do with whether he doesn't want to be with you."
"What.. do you mean..? I don't understand.."
"He's not seen any of us as any kind of potential partner. You know how he is, he doesn't think about such deep things. But if you took him out, he might think about the possibility of being together with you."
"..it doesn't make sense..."
"Plenty, but you just don't see it yet." Rena sat back, giving Mion more space, but still having a hand on her back. "Mii-chan, Keiichi-kun is scared too. He told me once that he's afraid of changes. He's already upset with the thought that you and Shii-chan will graduate in half a year. The club, his friends, us, we mean a lot to him, but he's always afraid something happens that breaks this apart. So he does a lot in his power to keep things the way they are now."
Mion simply let out a deep sigh and leaned back. She wasn't crying anymore, but her eyes were reddened from the tears she had shed. "I wish all this was so much easier.."
"So do I."
They fell silent once more. The sun had already let its last colors fade away, leaving the sky dark and dappled with bright stars, the crescent moon shining brightest of all in the summer night.
"Let's go home."
"Take care," Mion called after her friend as they waved goodbye, knowing it wasn't really necessary to add; Rena was always cautious, and Hinamizawa wasn't a dangerous place, even after nightfall.
Standing by the watermill, the tomboy didn't move toward her home for a while as she watched Rena slowly disappear into the distance. The only sound that reached her ears now, was the sound of the running water behind her, the mill treading it around, and she couldn't help it but to find it soothing.
Today had been.. hard. The teenager turned around and started walking home, not really hearing her own footsteps on the lonely path. She inhaled the fresh air, trying to clear her head.. but to no avail, her mind just a huge mess being hammered on by a strong headache. Shion had been teasing her excessively earlier, and been flirting with Keiichi as though there was something going on between them.. and it had just been too much.. it had been so hard to pretend nothing was wrong.. so hard to keep being cheerful.. but how could she have told her sister to stop? And what about Satoshi? Why would Shion walk around Keiichi like that when she had Satoshi..?
Nothing made sense anymore.. it was all too confusing to deal with. Confiding in Rena didn't really help either. It was all just so damn frustrating!
Why is love so difficult..? And why does it hurt so much?
Mion hadn't even noticed she was home until she stood right outside her room and opened the door. It was only then she found she had been crying again, but the realization simply made her chuckle quietly; it was just absurd.
"Oh, hi, Onee-" Shion was cut off from her brightful greeting, sitting by the desk in the room with some homework. "Hey, why are you crying-"
"Just shut up," the tomboy snapped with gritted teeth, in a more harsh manner than she had intended to.
Flinching, Shion turned back to her papers. "Alright, alright, calm down. Sheesh, quite the way to greet your sister."
Not paying much attention, Mion went to her futon, dropping down on it with a little bump and lying down on her back with an arm over her eyes. Then she realized how tired she was, immediately overwhelmed by her own exhaustion; wasn't it for her pounding headache, she'd probably have fallen instantly asleep in her school attire, but for now, she was limited to letting only her body relax. The clock was ticking quietly, but it seemed so loud in the little room.
"..Hey, Onee.. You know, if you want to talk about it-"
"Just leave me alone," Mion muttered, slightly less aggressively than before.
"Okay.. I hope you feel better tomorrow..."
For God's sake, just shut the hell up, won't you..? Mion shifted uncomfortably unto her stomach, burying her head in her pillow. She couldn't help it but to wonder how long she could lie like this before she'd suffocate. It'd be nice, getting away from all this. Holding her breath, or, more accurately, unable to really breathe as she pressed her face into the cloth, she started counting.
She felt a bit excited about the idea, starting to imagine what would happen if she actually passed out. Would she wake up again, and where? Who would be with her, and who would be crying if she died? These thoughts kept her entertained, until the need for air was too great for her natural instincts and she withdrew from the pillow.
Disappointed, Mion rolled onto her back again, staring up at the ceiling and breathing deeply. It was pathetic and stupid doing something so dramatic anyway.
Rena observed them all from where she was sitting on the bench, in plain open sight yet in a sense, hidden. At least nobody was paying much attention to her right now, but she was happy to simply being a spectator to the game. She had a clear view from the side of the field; Satoko, Rika and Hanyū playing baseball, Mion encouraging them, Keiichi nowhere to be seen as he had left for water and Shion probably on her way to the field from the clinic.
It seemed like any normal Sunday, filled with the cheerful and bright atmosphere.. only, that was merely the shell of the egg. And it was definitely one convincing and wonderful surface, wasn't it because Rena knew just how filled with misery the yolk was. Her gaze finally fell on Mion... she didn't show the slightest sign of the pain she was going through. It was scary how well the tomboy had taught herself to act, to cover up the wounds and wear the mask with so much pride nobody could imagine her being upset.
Even Rena had to admit it for herself; hadn't Mion wanted to talk to her yesterday, she'd not have realized just how much turmoil her friend was in.
Keiichi appeared back on the field again, drying his mouth in his arm as he went toward the group of friends. "'ey girls, is it my turn?"
"Yeah, and we've been waiting for you, you dork!" Mion said loudly and hit her palm against the back of his shoulders. "Satoko had to take your first swing, and deliberately missed to imitate how much you suck!"
"Oh, I'll get you two for this!" The boy threatened, grabbing a protesting Mion around her neck and ruffling her hair with a tight fist. "It was your idea, wasn't it!?"
Obviously, this meant he didn't notice the game was still going on until Satoko intentionally missed for the second time, and he let go of the club leader immediately to take the blonde's place, claiming how their way of treating him was utterly unfair.
"Be a man!" Mion insulted, and he shut up to get ready for his turn.
It was impossible to not laugh a little, but Rena's quiet giggle quickly trailed off as she caught herself wishing this was as harmonic as it seemed (or 'chaotic', depending on how you looked at the way the club treated each other).
Then she noticed Shion coming into the field, and while Rena wanted to be happy to see the final club member join them, her heart dropped a little, and she started dreading what the girl would do today.. would she leave Keiichi alone, or would she try to tease Mion again? And would it go too far..? She bit her lower lip; it was probably not going to be any positive outcome.. so would Mion manage to keep her mask on, yet again?
Keiichi hit with a precise strike, the ball flying through the air at a great speed. The boy felt overconfident with his own abilities, giving himself time to mockingly pat Satoko's head before setting into a run.
As Keiichi was running around between the bases, Shion came up behind her sister, (who was flinching in surprise at her appearance) and put an arm around her shoulders, leaning against her. She was saying something in a quiet voice, making Mion blush slightly and push the twin away from her, only to resume yelling insults at the boy on the field.
Please don't do anything really stupid, Shii-chan.
Though there was a bit of hope, Rena thought, unable to notice the thoughtful expression Shion had on her face as she studied her twin.. but then Shion cast her attention to the game instead, cheering on the boy on the field and praising him as he successfully got to the last base, completing his home-run. He high-fived Rika and Hanyū, as Satoko got ready for her own turn, preparing the bat and putting her concentration to the game.
"Lookin' good, Kei-chan!" Shion cheered, putting a hand on his shoulder. "You and Satoko are getting on par in terms of baseball!"
"Ah, thanks, Shion," the boy was panting, an arm on his stomach.
Mion wasn't looking at them, Rena noticed, having put her attention to Satoko's turn. Though she seemed to be ignoring them, cheering and encouraging her younger friend, there was no doubt the tomboy was well aware of how Shion was praising Keiichi a tad more than necessary..
Of course, Satoko hit the ball on her first chance, the blonde smiling with her little canine tooth showing. She ran off, everyone acclaiming her - save for the opposing team, obviously, who all were realizing they were going to lose at this rate. Then Keiichi stepped forward a bit while Satoko was running, poking his club leader's shoulder for attention. "Mion, how come she gets plenty of approval when-"
"Because you suck," Grinning, Mion received a hopeless sigh from the boy's wry lips.
"You should compliment the poor guy's efforts more!" Shion scolded her sister teasingly. "He's doing his best and good at it!"
"Yeah, listen to your sister, man! I'd win over you any day, Sonozaki Mion!"
"The best isn't good enough," Mion said, in a voice that clearly cut off the topic, too dark to be made fun of. Then she seemed to realize her mistake, brightening up again. "Especially not if you're challenging me!"
"Well," confidently, Keiichi put a finger close to her face as he pointed at her. "Let's see you hit the ball first turn! I bet you won't!"
"Hah! I'll show you!"
They greeted Satoko as she made her homerun, then Mion pointed at Keiichi, giving him the same treatment as he had given her. "It's a short maid outfit home for you when I win the bet."
"Oh, likewise, Mion," the boy smiled with a cruel satisfaction.
Picking up the bat, Mion clenched her fingers around it, her eyes focused on the pitcher, her body ready to send the ball on a straight journey to the moon.
"Well, Kei-chan," Shion said, about to approach the bench where Rena was sitting. "Do your best; I'll be cheering on ya from over here!" The girl turned briefly toward the boy, bending over a little bit. And with a wink, she kissed her own palm and blew it in his direction, giving him a thumbs up with the other hand.
There never was the sound of a bat meeting the ball as there should've been. Instead, there was a metallic clang as the bat hit the ground, everyone turning their attention surprised to Mion as she was walking away from the field with hasty steps, leaving the game behind in a hurry.
Nobody said anything at first, staring in confusion at the back of the teenager as she was well on her way out. Then Shion shook her head, growling a low "shit" and began trotting toward her sister.
"FUCK OFF!" The tomboy yelled back without as much as casting a glance over her shoulder.
"No, Mion, halt! Onee!"
Stopping, she did a 180 degree turn (making her sister stop too), her crying face filled up with rage. "I'm done with your bullshit, Shion! You stay the fuck away from me, got it!?"
"Hey hey, Mion, what the heck's going on?!" Keiichi approached them from the interrupted game.
"And you keep away from me too! And you as well, Rena!"
The red-haired girl stopped, a bit surprised that Mion had noticed her getting up from the bench. Then she looked sorrowfully at her friend, having that stabbing feeling in her chest again..
"All of you," the club leader's voice trembled. "Just.. Just leave me alone!" She watched them for a moment with tearful eyes, gritting her teeth in the obvious pain she felt, before she turned around, continuing to 'escape'.. escape from the very club she was so attached to...
"Mion! Wait-" Keiichi called, but stopped mid-sentence as the girl set into a run, soon leaving the area, outside of anyone's sight..
"Well done," Rena muttered venomously to Shion as she passed her.
Author's Note: Hi everyone! Been a while, huh? Anyway 'welcome' to Days of Summer, or DoS for short. This story, or rather, concept, is actually getting quite old; more precisely, almost two years. I just never got around to write it, but since the beginning of April 2010 when they announced Kira's titles, I got a ton of inspiration/ideas for what the third episode would be about – and should the case be that the episode wouldn't be about that, I wanted to write my concept. "Of course" seeing as how unserious Kira was overall, that should give birth to this story, which originally was going to be a oneshot, now it'll be a short story that'll be divided in parts (I don't know how many parts this will be, I'll update as I see fit – obviously though I don't plan to be late about it).
So I hope you guys have enjoyed this little piece of work! Keep an eye out for the next part, and as always, I appreciate to know what you think.
P.s.; anyone else excited for Higurashi Kaku? I know I for sure am!