K-ON! - Spring Wondering
Prompt: Azusa and Ritsu at a park.
Theme/ideas: Complications / Wonder
Optional considerations: Taking place in Spring at night.
"Ritsu-senpai, wait up!" Azusa panted, leaning against a nearby wall. It was pretty difficult for her to run very far with a guitar case strapped to her back.
"Better keep up, Azusa, otherwise I'll leave you behind!" shouted Ritsu from the opposite end of the playground. The two of them had to stay late at school and decided to walk home together. The rest of HTT was waiting for them at Yui's house.
"Just *hah* give me a minute to catch my breath . . ." said Azusa, gulping down as much air as she could.
"Guess you shouldn't have challenged me to that race, huh kiddo," smiled Ritsu, jogging back to where her kouhai was standing. Azusa managed to steady her breathing and straightened up.
"It's . . . your fault for saying I was . . . so slow, senpai . . ."
"Well, you're tiny. With my longer legs, I’m a shoe-in to win first place!" declared Ritsu. She jumped on top of a ledge and pretended to be a king.
"O-ho-ho-ho! I am the fastest person on this playground! What challenger dares to enter into my domain? Come, lass! We shall duel for my crown!"
Azusa giggled, and then hissed at her in her best cat impression.
"I'm 4' 11". Fear me! Rawr!" she growled. Ritsu snorted.
"Whoa there! That was . . . adorable," said Ritsu, hopping down from her perch.
"I'm not adorable. You should fear me!" Azusa said, attempting to swipe at Ritsu. The older girl put a hand on Azusa's head, holding her back at arm's length. After a fruitless struggle, Azusa's hands fell to her side.
"No fair, I'm too tiny . . ."
"Gee, I think I'm starting to see why Yui's so interested in you. I mean, you're adorable, you make funny noises when you're struggling, and you're just so darn cute that I can't help but tease you," said Ritsu, putting her hands in her jacket pockets.
"Mmm . . . I'm trying to establish myself as a dignified high schooler, but being around you guys has turned me into such a lazybones."
"Hey, slacking skeletons aside, you're actually the most organized and productive person in the club. Mio's dependable, and Mugi's enthusiastic, and I won't even mention Yui, but honestly we wouldn't have been able to keep our practice goals, and we even got some awesome music theory lessons out of you."
"Define 'awesome,' because as I recall, you and Yui-senpai completely ignored my lesson and decided to share popcicles outside the door. Mio had to drag you two into the club room and lecture you."
"Haha, oh yeah, I guess that did happen. Weird how you start to forget small stuff like that . . . " said Ritsu, leaning against the wall. The drumsticks sticking out of her schoolbag made a noise as her bag made contact with the wall.
"I remember those moments perfectly, mostly because things didn't go my way."
"Yeah, yeah, don't expect things to go perfectly the first time 'round. After all, unless you're Mugi, life won't exactly hand you everything on a silver platter. You gotta work for the things you're passionate about, even if things don't go your way. Just gotta keep on trying, and don't give up."
Azusa remained silent. Ritsu can give really solid life advice when she wants to.
"Man, it's been a while since I was out here last. Spring just makes everything seem more . . . I don't even know how to describe it. Remind me to ask Mio for some sappy way of describing spring."
Azusa looked up at where Ritsu was staring. A lone cherry tree stood at the edge of the park, its blossoms illuminated by the rising moon. A slight breeze began to blow, and several petals danced their way to the ground. It certainly was a majestic sight.
"You're right," sighed Azusa. "It really is beautiful."
"Sure is . . ." said Ritsu. Azusa looked over at her, only to find Ritsu staring.
"Nothing, nothing at all. Just thinking."
"About?" Azusa asked. Ritsu looked the other way.
"Just . . . Thinking you look pretty cute in the moonlight."
"Wha? No, wait, say that again!"
"Too bad! You get one chance to hear it and you just lost it, kitten!" Ritsu laughed, skipping to the foot of the slides.
"Oh no, you don't!" Azusa said. She quickly put her guitar on the ground and ran after Ritsu at top speed. Surprised by Azusa's sudden burst of energy, Ritsu clumsily tried to escape up the slides, only to lose footing and collide with Azusa at the bottom. The two of them began giggling.
"Geez, Azusa, where's all that energy coming from?"
"Admit it. This time, I'm the faster one."
"Kitty's got a hidden pair of claws, I see."
"Nyan-nyan, I didn't do anything. I'm an adorable kitty, remember?" Azusa said, posing like a cat. Ritsu chuckled, her cheeks suddenly flushed.
"Y-yeah, you're adorable, kid," she said, untangling herself from Azusa and standing up.
"What's that look for?"
"Nothing. Betcha can't beat me the rest of the way to Yui's place!" Ritsu said, sprinting to pick up her bag.
"You're on!" Azusa yelled, pulling on her guitar case and beginning to run.
"F-fudge, forgot *gasp* that it's hard t-to run with this . . . on!" she huffed. A few minutes later, she collapsed outside the entrance of the Hirasawa residence. Yui answered the door.
"Azu-nyan? Why are you all sweaty?" asked Yui. A couple of gasping sounds was all that Azusa could manage. Immediately, Ui appeared out of nowhere with a glass of water and a towel in hand. Ritsu watched on from the hallway, watching Ui care for Azusa while Yui worriedly looked on. She looked back down the hall, where Mio could be seen at the living room table. Replaying the night's events in her head, she cringed to herself as Mio's and Azusa's faces started to float around in her mind.
This . . . might get a bit complicated, she thought.
Chapter 2, because someone wanted a second chapter to this, and I thought 'why not?' :) here ya go!
“Where’d Mugi-senpai disappear to?” Azusa asked. The girls were sitting in the club room, munching on crackers and cookies. Yui was shoveling crackers into her mouth two at a time, causing crumbs to fall everywhere. Mio brushed the cracker debris into a napkin.
“She said she was going to see Sawa-chan. Something about plans for another training camp this summer.”
“Hmm,” said Ritsu absentmindedly. She was stacking cookies on another napkin, not paying much attention to the conversation.
“Ritsu?” said Mio, waving her hand in front of the drummer’s face. Ritsu jolted back to reality, blinking as the others’ faces came into focus.
“S-sorry, what were we talking about?” she said, hoping to draw attention away from her.
“We were talking about next summer. The training camp? Remember?”
“Oh, sorry, wasn’t paying attention.”
“Ritsu-senpai, is something the matter? You’ve been acting strange since last week,” said Azusa. Ritsu made eye contact with her and then quickly looked away. The last thing she needed was her face going red in front of Mio.
“Just . . . thinking about stuff,” she said, staring at the wood of the desk. Yui and Azusa stared at her. Mio looked at her for a second before turning to look at the club room door. Ritsu frowned. If she didn’t draw attention away from herself soon, things would go from awkward to very awkward in a flash.
“H-Hey! Isn’t it Mugi’s birthday tomorrow?” Ritsu said quickly. Yui and Azusa’s faces brightened at this.
“Oh my gosh, I totally forgot!” Azusa gasped. “We need to plan something, quick!”
“Ooh! Ooh! Let’s bake her a cake!”
“Yui-senpai, do you even know how to bake a cake?”
“Sure I do! Ui helps me all the time!”
“And do you do any other jobs besides putting strawberries on the cake?”
“Of course! I stir the batter and I frost the cake sometimes. Of course, Ui always makes extras ‘cuz she knows I tend to eat the leftover frosting.”
“That’s the Hirasawa sisters for ya,” said Ritsu. “The lazy, older sister that loves sweets, and the doting younger sister that is a wizard at baking.”
“Aw, Ricchan, you didn’t have to put it like that, hehe,” said Yui, rubbing the back of her neck.
“That wasn’t exactly a compliment towards you, you know,” Ritsu said, rolling her eyes. The three of them started laughing, with Mio chuckling along beside them. Ritsu looked at Mio. The bassist was probably still suspicious of her attitude, so it’s best to fake a smile ‘till the whole thing blows over.
Yui reached over and snagged a cookie from the top of Ritsu’s cookie tower just as the club room door opened. Mugi walked inside, holding a stack of permission slips.
“Hello everyone! Sawa-chan says that she wants to accompany us on the next training camp, but she wanted me to ensure that she had a seat on the plane with us so that she wouldn’t get left behind.”
“Whoa, wait, Mugi,” said Ritsu, standing up. “We’re taking an airplane to the next camp?!”
“Yes, I managed to book us a room in one of my parents’ favorite hotels on the other side of Japan. There are several soundproof conference rooms that we’re allowed to use for practice sessions, and we will have access to room service and the pool.”
“Room service!” shouted Yui. “Fancy food and drinks, brought right to our doorstep by a handsome young man in a tuxedo! He’ll wake us up and offer us expensive tea, and offer to dress us and do all the cooking and cleaning and gardening. Plus, he’ll attack bad guys with forks and knives!”
“Isn’t that from that butler anime you’ve been watching, Yui?” said Mio. “The one where the butler is a demon and the kid wears an eyepatch?”
“Heheh, I may or may not have mixed reality and fantasy,” said Yui, blushing.
“What anime are we talking about?” asked Azusa. Yui immediately began to paint a dramatic picture of grand mysteries, handsome butlers and demons, and the lifestyle of the wealthy characters. She sprinkled in hints of a forbidden love that Ritsu was positive wasn’t a part of the anime at all.
“Psst, Ritsu,” whispered Mio. She pulled Ritsu out of the group and into the hallway, telling the others an excuse about the bathroom. In the stairwell, Mio stood facing Ritsu, who had her back against the railings.
“What gives, Mio?” asked Ritsu. “I’m fine, there’s nothing wrong.”
“Are you sure?” said Mio. “You’ve been acting strange since you and Azusa came to Yui’s house out of breath. Azusa was almost about to pass out, even. Did something happen to you two?”
“I told you guys, we were racing from the park. Azusa’s guitar made it hard for her to run well.”
“She told me something about her chasing you, and that you were acting strange during your time at the park.”
“Dunno. You wouldn’t make eye contact with her, and it’s almost like you’re avoiding her. You’ve also been kind of distant with me lately. You’re not as energetic as usual.”
“Sorry. Maybe I’ve just been tired lately. I’ve been behind on homework, and I’m procrastinating way too much . . . I need to catch up on schoolwork, I think.”
“If it’s just schoolwork, I can - ” said Mio.
“No! Um, I mean . . . my parents want to see if I can finish this week’s schoolwork on my own. They want to know that I can survive in school without your help for a week, otherwise they’ll just assume I copy off you all the time and ground me.”
“I see . . . I guess that means less late-night phone calls?” asked Mio.
“Maybe . . . I’ll let you know if I can call, though I doubt I can for too long.”
“Okay, if you say so. You know, I worry about you, Ritsu.”
“Aw, ya don’t gotta worry about me. I’m just a person.”
“You’re also my best friend. I don’t want you to distance yourself from me like this,” said Mio. She grabbed one of Ritsu’s hands.
“Please tell me if anything’s bothering you. I’m here to listen if you need me.”
“Thanks, Mio,” said Ritsu. Mio walked back into the club room. Ritsu stayed outside for a few minutes before letting out a sigh and following her.
After school, the five of them walked home together. It was a weekend, so the girls decided to explore the town. They took a bus to the shopping district and browsed a few of the novelty shops. Ritsu and Yui got into a plastic sword fight, only to get the group kicked out of the store for making too much noise. They came across someone walking a group of dogs, and they had to drag Yui away from them, otherwise she would have stayed petting them for hours. They also had to drag Mio away, as one of the dogs barked at her, which caused her to faint. Finally, they stumbled upon a small corner store. A big sign was set up outside, advertising a colorful drink with what seemed to be black jelly balls at the bottom.
“Um, b-boooooba? What’s that?” said Yui, squinting at the sign.
“I’m pretty sure that’s not how it’s pronounced, Yui-senpai,” said Azusa, shaking her head.
“Ohh!! It looks so interesting!” said Mugi, eyes sparkling. Ritsu made eye contact with Mio. They nodded, and then walked inside, with the others following close behind.
“Welcome to the store! Please have a look at our menu,” said an overly cheerful cashier. Mugi looked on in awe at the massive menu.
“Thai milk tea, Japanese green tea slush, watermelon, kiwi, passion fruit? So many flavors!” said Mugi dreamily. “So many to choose from!”
“Tapioca pearls, aloe vera, rainbow jelly . . . egg pudding?” Azusa read from the bottom of the menu. “Um, I think that these drinks have these toppings that you can add. I think the tapioca pearls are the black balls.”
“Geez, my head hurts,” said Ritsu.
“It’s quite a sophisticated menu,” said Mio. “The drink sizes can get pretty large, and you can choose how much ice or sugar goes into it as well.”
“Excuse me!” said Yui, already at the counter with her wallet out. “How much for the biggest size with 200% sugar and all the toppings?”
“Yui-senpai, no, don’t order that!” said Azusa, rushing to the aid of the confused cashier girl. Ritsu chuckled. Mio turned to Mugi.
“Order whatever you want, Mugi. It’s on us.”
“Oh no, I couldn’t possibly . . .”
“It’s our treat. Consider this outing an early birthday treat.”
“Oh my! Well, if you insist . . .”
Their orders placed, the girls watched as the workers skillfully mixed the concoctions and sealed the cups with plastic. Finally, their drinks arrived at the counter.
“What did you get, Azu-nyan? I got strawberry milk tea with boba!” said Yui.
“Just a jasmine milk green tea for me,” Azusa said, taking a sip. She chewed on one of the tapioca balls slowly, and watched as Yui began gulping down large sips of her strawberry boba.
“How the heck do you get the straw inside this?” said Ritsu, attempting to poke a hole through the plastic seal and spilling some of her drink.
“Here, senpai, I’ll do it” offered Azusa. Ritsu blushed, but then handed over her drink and watched as Azusa skillfully punctured the seal with the straw. Mio and Mugi came back from the counter with their drinks.
“How wonderful!” said Mugi. “Honey dew milk tea with boba and rainbow jelly. Jumbo size with 100% sugar and 50% ice.”
“Only you would get something involving honey and rainbows, Mugi,” said Mio. She carefully took a sip of her coffee milk tea, flinching as the tapioca ball hit her tongue. She took a couple of experimental chews before blanching and spitting it out onto a napkin. Ritsu and Yui started laughing at her, having gotten used to the sensation of chewing the tapioca. Azusa went over to comfort Mio, who was trembling slightly. The two of them went to the counter and asked for a replacement without boba.
“Hey Mugi-chan, how’s your - ” said Yui, only to stop mid-sentence. Mugi was already done with her drink, and was tipping the cup so that she could scoop the last of the rainbow jelly into her mouth.
“Ahh,” she said happily, rubbing her belly. “What an amazing thing to experience for my birthday.”
“How the heck did you inhale all of that at once?!” said Ritsu, dumbfounded.
“I just drank it. I wasn’t sure about this, as it’s my first time drinking boba, but I absolutely love it.”
“Mugi-senpai, you’re amazing,” said Azusa.
After they were finished with their drinks, the girls went their separate ways. Yui had to be escorted to the bus station by Azusa, having drank not only her own drink, but most of Azusa’s cup and Mio’s unfinished drink. Mugi happily skipped her way to the train station, and Mio and Ritsu headed for their homes. The two of them walked in silence for a while, and then Mio asked,
“So, um hey, I have something to ask you.”
“Y-yeah?” said Ritsu.
“About . . . us,” she said nervously.
“What about us?”
“W-What do you . . . think about me?”
“What do I think about you? You’re my best friend, what else is there to think about?”
“I mean, as . . . more than just friends . . .” Mio said, stopping suddenly.
“Mio?” Ritsu said, right before Mio’s lips connected with hers. Ritsu stumbled back into the wall, pinned there by Mio. She pulled away, tears in her eyes. Ritsu could still feel her lips against her own.
“Um, Mio, this is seriously out of left field, even for you. I mean, you seemed practically normal most of the day.”
“Dummy . . .” said Mio. She put her face against Ritsu’s shoulder, and Ritsu was silently thankful that it was late and no one else was in the general area.
“Hey, you wanna know something?” said Ritsu. Mio lifted her head.
“What?” she asked, sniffling.
“No I’m not! I’m a miserable mess and you’re probably going to say no . . .”
“I wasn’t going to say that. I was going to say that I think of you as more than a friend. Geez, you seriously beat me to the punch, though. I was going to ask you eventually, but you got the jump on me.”
“No you weren’t! I . . . I thought you were starting to show affection for Azusa, and I got scared that you’d leave me, so I . . . so I . . . ”
“Hey, hey, don’t cry, don’t cry!” said Ritsu hurriedly. “That wasn’t anything, I . . . I like you, Mio.”
“R-Really?” said Mio, wiping her eyes.
“This answer your question?” said Ritsu, leaning in and kissing Mio’s cheek. Mio sniffed, wiping her eyes once more. She looked Ritsu in the eyes.
“D-Does this mean . . . ?”
“Yeah, I think so,” said Ritsu. Their lips met once more, and fireworks went off in Ritsu’s heart. Mio started tearing up mid-kiss, causing Ritsu’s cheeks to grow wet. Ritsu opened her eyes slightly at the sensation, only to catch a glimpse of a pair of long black twintails rounding the corner.
“Uh oh . . .” she thought.
Chapter 3 [aka, finally, Spy decides to update this fic after 8 months]
“Man, it’s been a year, hasn’t it?” Mio said, stretching out on the bed. Ritsu nodded silently, engrossed in the show she was watching on her phone. Mio reached over and tapped Ritsu on the leg.
“Heyy, pay attention to me,” Mio said. Ritsu looked up.
“Huh? Oh, uh, sorry about that, Mio,” Ritsu said, smiling. She put her phone down on the blanket and sat up straight.
“What should I wear for tomorrow?” the bassist asked. “I don’t know if I should go with the pink one with frills or this blue one with the long sleeves, or…”
Ritsu slowly yawned, unintentionally tuning out the sound of Mio’s voice. After a long night of gaming with Satoshi, she wasn’t exactly thrilled when Mio called her and dragged her out of bed in the early morning for their anniversary date. Mio, being such a stickler for small details, wanted everything to be perfect, down to the cute clothes they would wear and how they would take photos. Mio was surprisingly picky about this sort of thing, and would often get mad when Ritsu would ignore her. Just like right now.
“Oy, Ritsu? Earth to Ritsu!” Mio said loudly. Ritsu snapped to attention, unaware that she had dozed off.
“Mm? Ah, geez, sorry, Mio. I’m listening.”
“Alright. As I was saying, I think we should go with this outfit,” Mio said, holding up a red long-sleeve top with a white collar and a black skirt. Ritsu looked down at her own outfit, which consisted of jeans and a dark red t-shirt.
“Mio, I’ve asked this a thousand times, and I’ll ask again: How the heck are you able to match my outfit no matter what I wear? In fact, when in the world did you suddenly get obsessed with fashion?”
Mio blushed, hiding her face a little.
“I-I’ve been watching this new drama about fashion. It’s…um… called Baby-Faced Beauty. It’s this romantic comedy about a 34-year-old fashion designer who pretends to be 10 years younger to get a job in a fashion company. She’s got a knack for transforming ordinary materials into exciting creations and also succeeds at getting two co-workers to fall in love with her.”
Ritsu grabbed her phone and quickly began searching online. Sure enough, Baby-Faced Beauty was a fashion-based Korean drama that was pretty popular a couple of years ago. She stared at the description of the drama.
“…34-year-old fashion designer who pretends to be 10 years younger to get a job in a fashion company…Mio, you recited this summary almost word for word.”
“I’m not obsessed…”
“Sure you’re not. You’re lucky this isn’t an essay or something or I’d haul your butt to the administrative office for plagiarism.”
“Heyy, don’t mock me…it’s a really good show, alright? It’s not my fault they describe the summary of the show every time they start a new episode.”
“Haha, yeah yeah, alright, I was just joking, geez!” Ritsu said, holding back her laughter. Mio puffed her cheeks out in mock anger.
“Dummy, Ritsu!” she said. Ritsu took her hand.
“Yeah, but I’m your dummy, you dummy,” she said, kissing Mio’s cheek.
“Fine, I accept your unsaid apology,” Mio said, smiling. “Let’s get ready soon, so we won’t have to wait to get a seat.”
“I’m already ready. You’re the one that hasn’t changed yet.”
“F-Fine…just turn around and don’t look, okay? I’m gonna undress…”
Ritsu put a hand on Mio’s shoulder.
“Mio…first of all, I’ve seen you naked countless times. In the bathhouse, at Mugi’s resort house, on the school trip. We’re girls after all. Secondly, I’m your girlfriend. I think we’re already past the point of being embarrassed about being naked in front of each other. Third, if you don’t get changed soon, I’m going to go to sleep again.”
“Good. Let’s get going, ‘cuz I’m starving.”
“Wait…Mio why exactly are we at a Mexican restaurant? In the middle of freaking Japan?”
“But this one has good reviews and I’ve never been to one before.”
“Mio,” Ritsu said, looking up at the rusting shop sign. “First of all, how do you even know this is a Mexican restaurant? The name of the place is ‘Junkadelic’, for Pete’s sake…”
“Here, look,” Mio said, pushing her phone screen in Ritsu’s face. Sure enough, ‘Junkadelic’ is a Mexican restaurant, complete with an authentic looking spread of food on their website’s menu page.
“Nachos, quesadillas, chimichangas, burritos…geez those look yummy…” Ritsu said, her stomach growling loudly.
“Told you so,” said Mio proudly. She put her phone away and the two of them walked into the building.
The dining room was warmly lit. Overhead ceiling fans gently blew air, causing the hanging streamers and flags to sway to and fro. Several wooden tables were placed around the room, covered with Mexican-themed pictures.
“Welcome! Table for two? Right this way,” said a very enthusiastic waitress with a huge smile plastered on her face. She led the couple to a corner booth and left them with a set of menus and glasses of water.
“What do you want to order?” Mio asked. Ritsu stared at the assortment of food on the menu. There was a lot of strange-sounding foods that looked tasty, as well as some Japanese twists on some of the classics, like squid tentacles in a taco or a burrito that seemed to use chicken katsu.
“I have absolutely no clue, but I want it all,” said Ritsu, wiping a bit of drool off the corner of her mouth. Mio smiled, then called the waiter over and ordered the restaurant’s party platter. Smaller portions, but one of everything on the menu.
“Mio, have I ever told you I love you?” Ritsu said.
“I just know you well enough, especially when it comes to food.”
“Hey, at least I’m not as bad as Yui.”
“True, that girl is a bottomless pit.”
The conversation continued like this until their food arrived.
“Aw yeah! Bring on the grub!” Ritsu.
“Ritsu, manners,” Mio said, staring around nervously at the other restaurant patrons. Nobody else seemed to be paying attention to them.
“Who cares, Mio, I want food-eh, Azusa?”
“Shh, hide!” Ritsu whispered, ducking down. Mio followed suit, looking in the direction that Ritsu was pointing. Sure enough, the twin-tailed guitarist had just walked in the front door. A different waitress came up and led her to a booth directly across the restaurant from Ritsu and Mio. It didn’t seem like Azusa had noticed that they were even there.
“What the heck is she doing here?” Ritsu asked. Mio shrugged.
“Who knows. She hasn’t really been hanging out with us ever since you and I started dating. I thought she was just busy,” Mio whispered back. Ritsu was about to respond when the restaurant door swung open again. A young man walked past the “Please Wait To Be Seated” sign, heading straight for Azusa’s table.
“Who’s…?” said Ritsu.
“I have no clue…” said Mio. The two of them stared as the young man walked over to Azusa, who stood up to greet him. What surprised them was when the guy planted a kiss on Azusa’s cheek.
“Who the fu-” Ritsu exclaimed. Mio shushed her, but nobody else in the restaurant seemed to have heard Ritsu’s outcry. Ritsu felt defensive all of a sudden. Sure, Azusa’s business outside of the club was her own business, but seeing the dude kiss her on the cheek made Ritsu’s blood boil. It was a feeling she couldn’t explain, almost as if just the sight of it made her want to deck him across the face with both fists.
“She’s probably dating him,” said Mio. “Let’s leave them be, it’s none of our business…”
Ritsu didn’t have anything to say. She begrudgingly began to pick at her food, but she couldn’t help but overhear snippets of their conversation from across the restaurant.
“…let’s get out of here, hun. We can hang out at the arcade or something!”
“I’m not in the mood for games right now,” Azusa said. “I made reservations here, so it’d be a waste to just leave without buying anything.”
“Yeah, well I said let’s go to a good restaurant, not this dump,” said the guy.
“It’s not a dump. I actually like going here…”
“Tch. You’re no fun. Seriously, why do we even bother? You spend more time on your stupid guitar than you do with me, and whenever we’re on the phone, all you ever talk about is that stupid light music club! You’re always home late so I have to wait a long time for you to call and all I hear about is endless tea parties and costumes and something about a sadistic teacher? C’mon, baby, just quit the club and we can have more fun-”
“I’m not quitting the club!” Azusa yelled.
“I don’t care what you say!” the guy yelled back, grabbing her hard by the wrist. “If you want to stay in this relationship, then tomorrow you better march to that club room and tell that stupid club president of yours that you’ll never hang out with them again.”
It was at this point that Ritsu was finished listening. Before Mio or Azusa had realized what had happened, Ritsu stood up, ran across the length of the restaurant dining area and connected her fist with the guy’s jaw. He went flying, smacking face-first into the wall, letting go of Azusa’s wrist in the process.
“YOU WANNA SAY THAT TO MY FACE, YOU JERK!?” Ritsu yelled. The restaurant went silent. Mio was staring from across the room with a mix of fear and panic in her expression. Azusa clutched her wrist and stared up at Ritsu, who took a deep breath to steady herself.
“C’mon, Azusa,” Ritsu said, walking back towards Mio. Azusa slowly stood up and followed suit, giving one last look to the cowering young man in the booth.
“We’re through, Adam…” Azusa said, before turning and catching up to Ritsu. Mio was busy apologizing to the restaurant staff and quickly paid the check and rushed outside before anything else embarrassing could happen. Ritsu shuffled behind her, hands deep in her pocket, looking more pissed than Azusa had ever seen her look. Once they were a good way away from the restaurant, Mio stopped the group and turned to their kouhai.
“Azusa, I’m sorry for all that…we overheard your conversation and Ritsu just…”
“I’m not freaking sorry!” Ritsu snapped, kicking at a rock.
“Ritsu,” Mio said sternly, glaring at her. She turned once more to Azusa, who was still clutching at her wrist.
“Azusa, let me see,” she said, offering her hand. Azusa loosened her grip and rotated her arm so that the older girls could see her forearm. Her wrist and some of her upper arm were covered in slight bruises. Some seemed to be older bruises and looked faded, but the ones around her wrist were fresh, from when the jerk grabbed it back at the restaurant. Ritsu made an angry noise, looking back at the direction of the restaurant.
“That little…I’ve got half a mind to go right back there and give him a bigger piece of my mind and my fist!”
“Ritsu-senpai, please…don’t!” Azusa cried. Tears began falling as the weight of what just happened finally sunk in, and she dropped to her knees, sobbing into Mio’s jacket. Ritsu calmed down considerably, and joined in to help Mio comfort the poor girl.
“You guys were dating for ten months?!” Ritsu yelled. Azusa nodded sadly.
“Azusa, how did this happen?” asked Mio, putting her hands on Azusa’s shoulders. “Why is your first boyfriend so controlling and abusive-”
“Fifth,” Azusa repeated. “He was my fifth boyfriend this year…”
“Azusa…” Mio said slowly. “What’s going on -”
“Nothing!” Azusa suddenly yelled, causing Mio to jump. Azusa pushed Mio’s hands off her shoulders and attempted to sprint off, but Ritsu caught her by the arm.
“Leave me alone!” Azusa shouted. An old lady on the opposite side of the road stopped and looked in their direction. Mio began to panic, so Ritsu dragged the two of them to the nearby park, much to Azusa’s protesting.
The sky was slowly turning orange, casting shadows on the playground. Ritsu pulled Azusa and sat Azusa on the park bench. Mio sat down next to her, while Ritsu stood in front of both of them.
“Okay, Azusa. You calm now?” Ritsu asked.
“You’re one to talk,” mumbled Mio. Ritsu shot her a glance, then turned back to the trembling Azusa.
“When exactly did this all start?”
“About a year ago…” Azusa said, sniffling a little. “I was interested in…someone…back then…”
“Interested as in…”
“As in I started to have a crush on them,” Azusa said. “I didn’t expect it to happen…we hung out like always, and something just…clicked. I dunno…”
“Yeah?” Ritsu said thoughtfully. She thought back a year ago, back when she and Azusa had been hanging out in the park before running to Yui’s place. Azusa had indeed been acting different around her…maybe the person she liked was still in her life back then.
“What happened next?” Mio asked. Azusa wiped her cheeks with her handkerchief and continued.
“Not much else to talk about,” she said, looking up at Ritsu with watery eyes.
“The more I fell in love with this person, the more I wanted to be with them and everything. By the time I decided that I was going to ask them out, I found them kissing someone else…I didn’t know what else to do, so I ran home crying…I’ve been depressed ever since…”
Ritsu stopped listening by this point, Azusa’s voice fading away in her ears. She remembered, very clearly, seeing Azusa running away from where Mio kissed her, from where she and Mio officially became a couple. She remembered that Azusa started to talk to her less and become more distant the next day. Even during the times where Ritsu would tease her, Azusa would put on what looked like a fake smile. It may have fooled the others, but Ritsu knew better than anyone how to fake a smile to hide your pain.
Ritsu felt wobbly, and sat down next to the others as Azusa laid her head on Mio’s shoulder for comfort. She knew exactly who Azusa had fallen in love with, who caused Azusa to spiral down this path…it was
“…me…” Ritsu whispered. Mio looked at Ritsu, confused.
“Did you say something?”
“Eh? Oh, nothing, nothing! I was gonna say, um ‘Mio.’ Yeah, Mio, let’s bring Azusa somewhere fun.”
“Ritsu, now’s not the time…”
“I’m not taking no for an answer! Today’s been a depressing day, and we barely got to eat anything. Let’s do something fun, something that doesn’t involve money or food or jank restaurants that look like something out of Mad Max!”
“Like what, exactly?” Azusa said, looking skeptical. Ritsu chose her words carefully. The last thing she needed was Azusa finding out that she knew…or worse…Mio finding out who Azusa’s mystery love was.
“Er…um…uh…AH! How about the cake shop that Mugi’s working at part-time?!”
“She’s taking another part-time job?” Mio asked.
“Something like that…I think she mentioned that she wanted to help out, but her father refused because he didn’t want her overworking herself. She apparently gave her father one puppy-dog look and he gave in super quick.”
“Ooh, that’s…surprisingly like Mugi-senpai,” Azusa said, cracking a smile for the first time all afternoon. Ritsu felt a rush of relief at seeing her kouhai smile. She placed a hand on Azusa’s cheek.
“Glad to see you smile, kid. Welcome back, Lieutenant Azusa.”
As soon as Ritsu’s hand touched Azusa’s cheek, Azusa immediately went a deep shade of red. Ritsu felt Azusa’s cheek go warm, and turned a similar shade of red. They broke eye contact and turned toward Mio, who was busy looking up the address of Mugi’s cake shop on her phone.
“I think…yeah this is the place. It’s about a fifteen minute walk, so if we hurry, we can make it there before Mugi’s shift ends and – hey, what’s wrong? You guys alright?”
“Nothing, nothing at all, Mio-chwan!” Ritsu said in an over-the-top cutesy voice. Azusa giggled.
At this, Mio couldn’t help but burst out laughing. Ritsu and Azusa gave each other a hesitant look before laughing alongside Mio. Ritsu felt relieved again.
Hopefully things will get better from here.