The small seaside prefecture felt oddly calming, the smell of the ocean salt in the air, the cool breeze as the spring was officially mid swing. The only problem was the foreign street signs and the unfamiliarity settling deep down in my gut. Looking forward for a brief moment I see my dad and his new wife sat upfront of the car. It was her house we would be moving into. I breathed in softly to not draw any attention before, slowly exhaling. Sure, she appeared to be nice enough however, how can he expect me to trust someone I've met once, well twice if you count her picking us up from the airport today.
I continue watching the scenery play out in front of me, I sometimes imagine being as free as the ocean or being able to soar as high as the birds, starting to zone out getting lost in my own thoughts as we pull into a narrowing street, the houses catch my attention. They all appear close together, any closer and it would of felt suffocating just passing by. Suddenly, before I have time to register the words that my dad speaks we are pulling onto a drive way.
"(Y/N), Welcome to your new home." My dads wife, Fuyumi speaks softly, her voice breaking through my own thoughts. Quickly, I raise a brow for a brief moment before, relaxing my face back to it's normal position.
"Looks lovely..." I let my voice trail off before getting out of the car and grabbing bags out of the boot. Fuyumi had two older children, they both had families of their own and lived out of the family home. However, she was now expecting twins, then theirs me... Soon to be middle child, I had to impress my dad and his wife, or at least that's how i feel whenever I sit down to take a test, or whenever I'm asked what career path i'd like to follow.
I feel a slight nudge at the base of my leg, looking down I see a grey tabby, no older than 8 months fussing into me. Smiling gently I lean down to give the little one a fuss. She must be Fuyumi's kitten. Gently lifting the kitten up into my arms, I bring her along with my bags into the house. I notice an older cat lounging on the sofa, cleaning itself. "Fuyumi? Is this little one yours?" I ask curiously setting her down by the older cat.
"She is, she's the smallest of the litter so we kept her." Fuyumi comes over and passes me a cat toy to dangle in front of the grey tabby, which I play with for a good fifteen minutes before deciding to go upstairs to unpack. Fuyumi had already put a sign on my door with my name on it, for convenience. It actually helped a lot considering I just wanted to sort out my things, I only have two weeks left before school was starting up.
After unpacking my boxes and bags, I decide that I want to go and explore the town. I grab my purse and phone before heading out of the house. Fuyumi and dad were too busy discussing something in hushed whispers. I shrug it off, not really bothered if it's my business or not. Surprisingly, I didn't feel very jet lagged, not to mention I want to get used to the environment. Luckily for me, Cherry Blossom season is in which means some amazing photograph opportunities.
Grabbing a little disposable camera from my jacket pocket, I begin to take some photographs, of the cherry blossoms, I even manage to get some shots of the sea. Always being meticulous with my positioning. As I continue walking on I notice the high school lined with banners and stools, must be a school festival going on. Shrugging my shoulders, I begin to venture forward and through the main gates. Listening to the different sounds around me, I take in whatever I can noticing that some booths are trying to recruit new members, especially the sports teams.
Shrugging once more I begin to look at the different female sports teams, I was on the rugby team back home but I couldn't keep up with the others, not to mention the fact the bruises i'd constantly get would make me feel insecure. Maybe, this time i'll choose something that doesn't involve physical contact. As I continue looking at the different clubs, two stand out first is the swim club, however I notice the club is just one generic club. That means both male and female, I guess they would train together but do nationals separately, another team is the badminton team, I take a little leaflet from each club table. I'd way up the options, pros and cons before making my decisions.
As I went to turn away, a girl with burgundy hair caught my eye, raising a brow I turned around completely to face her. She had a wide smile gracing her lips happily.
"Im Matsuoka Kou, are you new around here?" She asks happily, it was though the stars were shining through her eyes.
"Oh.. (Last name/First name), it's a pleasure to meet you." I respond warmly, finding her presence warming and rather pleasant.
"We're the swim team members, want a tour around the school?" Kou quickly responds, it takes me a moment to process what Kou was saying, my Japanese wasn't perfect, however I could understand and speak it clear enough to get by. As for writing, that's another story.
"Oh, yes please." I rub the back of my head whilst laughing nervously, feeling a little bit the fool for pausing for so long. Kou, and her friends didn't appear to mind. They seemed to shrug of any awkward atmosphere.
"This is Hazuki Nagisa and Ryugazaki Rei. Nagisa swims breast stroke and Rei swims butterfly. We're hoping to recruit more members this year as our third years have just left. " Kou says informatively. she looks a little dejected at the loss of their now previous third years, by the looks of the uniform colours she and the other two are wearing they're about to become the new third years.
"I see i'm sure your third years will be proud of you all, also thank you for taking the time to show me around. I moved down here a few hours ago." I say appreciatively of them all taking time out of their busy day to show me the school.
After the little tour, I wave goodbye to the trio and decide to head back home. The swim team appear nice, though I look young for my age, do they really want a strange third year on the team when they clearly have a good bond going. Not to mention i'd probably only get to take part in realys. Letting out a sigh as I finally enter my bedroom, flopping onto the bed. Ill decide tomorrow. Just then the long day washed over my body, tiredness consuming me as I drifted into a long dreamless sleep. One question weighing on my mind.
'Will I be able to make a mark here in one school year?'
The next morning, I decide to look over the two sports teams, doing a little bit of research. I learn that the Iwatobi high school swim team was non-existent for a period of time and it was only re-formed by the current third years and the previous third years. They went to nationals both years... That's a good sign. As I begin to look into the Badmiton team, I notice they've been established for quite a while. They have a fairly large women team. Placing the badmiton flyer into the bin, leaving the swim team flyer on my table I smile briefly.
"Swimming it is... A smaller team would be nice for once, not to mention theirs more of a chance for me to focus on my talent, independently." School doesn't start until monday, checking the calendar due to the nine hour time difference, It's Saturday.
"(Y/N?) Please come downstairs, breakfast is ready." My dad yells up stairs, I sigh knowing that this meant it was time to have a family discussion. He never calls me down for breakfast, unless this was Fuyumi's idea.
"Coming!" I yell down as I slip on my slippers and walk as slowly as possible downstairs to the dining room. I take a seat opposite Fuyumi, as she passes me a cup of coffee, and my dad passes me a plate of toast and grilled fish. I nod a thank you and wait patiently for one of them to begin to speak.
"We thought that you would want to go shopping for some new school supplies, we also thought you would appreciate a little more independence." My dad passes over a bank card then proceeds talking "once a month, we will transfer an allowance over. Feel free to spend it however you wish, try to keep some for emergencies and try to get a part time job." My dad finishes speaking and waits around for any questions in my response.
"Thank you, actually this works out great, I need to buy a swimming costume for school, I decided to join the swim team." I say gently, happy about my decision, Kou and her two friends were really friendly yesterday. After finishing my breakfast, I wash up the dishes and make another round of hot drinks before getting ready to go out. Throwing on a lilac cropped sweater, a high waist white and black plaid skirt along with some black ballet pumps. Brushing my hair, not bothering to style it was the waves flow beautifully to match the sea breeze coming from the coast. Smiling, giving myself a mental pep talk, then heading out into town.
I decide that a leisurely walk would be perfect, deciding to keep an eye out for potential shops hiring part time, also allowing myself time to feel completely at ease. Before I could stop the thought running through my head, I froze in place not knowing the answer to my own question. 'How long until she leaves? How long until his addiction ruins this family...' Sighing and shaking my head quickly, trying to snap the thoughts out of my mind.
Once I reach the sports shop, I begin to focus on finding a decent swim suit, I manage to find a one piece leg suit with pastel blue stripe panels at the sides. Perfect, I smile after trying it on. I also decide to buy some goggles, just some ordinary black ones, along with a black swim cap. No need to stand out too much, it's only high school after all. After i finishing shopping for my swimming clothes, I decide to buy a towel and go to the swimming centre to test the costumes limits.
I had swam for a solid two hours before deciding to get out, happy with my times that the coach had recorded for me I decided to head back home, I had to finish brushing up on my Japanese and finish preparations for school monday. Once I got home, I was greeted by the momma cat and her kitten, happily I sat on the floor to give them both cuddles.
"Such fluffy babies." I coo gently at them both, as they start to purr loudly. Their purrs loud but soft, made me feel relaxed and warm as I lean up against the wall to allow them both to climb into my lap. I decide to stay their a little while, falling asleep to their comforting sounds.
"(Y/N), you need to wake up now." I hear my dads voice, I sigh to stifle a yawn as I stretch and rub my eyes to get rid of any sleep residue and to try to motivate myself to move, both of the cat's had moved at somepoint now back on the sofa, curled up nice and warm. I smile as I stand up.
"Im awake now, whats up?" I ask casually as I put the kettle on.
"We're going to one of Fuyumi's friends house's for dinner. Go make yourself look decent." My dad says quickly, guessing time's getting on. I quickly finish making a cup of tea, take it upstairs in a rush and brush my hair and apply some perfume and makeup, but only a light touch. My outfit was fine for dinner as I quickly use a brush roller to get rid of any of the lingering cat hairs.
"I'm ready." I say as I come down the stairs finishing the cup of tea and placing the cup into the sink to be cleaned once we get back, Fuyumi was now downstairs, dressed casually. Good this isn't some fancy formal dinner then, my dad was still in his suit from work, that didn't surprise me but I guess he also want's to make a really good first impression. Shrugging lightly, pretending I was stretching out a little, I walk to the car and get into the back as Fuyumi and dad both got in upfront.
"Mind your language and manners tonight, their will be two young children and I don't want you teaching them anything rude or obscene." Dad states rather bluntly, his tone speaking volumes of what he thinks I will do at this dinner. He is ever un-trusting, acting as though i'll completely ruin the evening.
"I wont, I know how to behave myself." I comment bored as I watch out the window until we pull up outside a home that clearly housed a decent size family. All of the downstairs lights on, the upstairs ones turned out.
As we got out of the car, the front door to the house opened up, revealing a woman in her late 30s early 40s, she held a warm, generous, welcoming smile with no restrictions. She had a comforting aura around her, which helped others feel at ease. I smiled at the lady, as Fuyumi introduced us.
"This is (DLN, DFN) and (LN/FN)." Fuyumi smiles. My father responds by bowing and giving the lady a smile.
"Thank you for having us this evening. It's a pleasure to meet you." I respond bowing politely and smiling before returning to my natural standing position.
"Why don't you all come in and i'll introduce you to everyone, I'm Mrs.Tachibana. It's a pleasure to meet you both, I've heard some wonderful things." She says enthusiastically, but not overly so.
We all follow Mrs.Tachibana inside the house, taking our shoes off and slipping on the slippers provided. Even though I knew, Know the etiquette and social standings here I couldn't help but feel uneasy as though anything I do would mess something up. I was holding my breath walking on eggshells. As we went through to the living room, two children appeared, they looked like twins a girl and a boy no older than 11. I smile at them both politely.
"This is Ren and this is Ran. They're they youngest siblings, unfortunately the oldest couldn't be here tonight. He is away at university at the moment." Mrs.Tachibana says softly then a male walks into the room.
"I'm mr.Tachibana, it's nice to meet you." He speaks with a smile, it's almost goofy.
"It's a pleasure to meet you too." I bow quickly and return the smile before Ren and Ran draw my attention to them. They had some art stuff out on the table, "So you both like to draw?" I ask softly making conversation.
"Yep, Dragons." Ren says quickly grabbing his book showing me all the colourful, bold dragons with matching dragon eggs.
"Dragons are really cool, some breathe fire and others are magical." I comment enthusiastically with a wide smile, turning to Ran I ask "What do you like to draw?"
"I like to draw animals, sometimes dragons too. We have competitions." Ran says showing me her drawings.
I smile happily, "You are both very good, my favourite animal is the rabbit, it looks happy and fluffy." I compliment her work as I show Ren my favourite dragon. "I like the blue colours and the shape of this ones scales. They're different." I smile as they get out some more pens and paper, all three of us sitting at the livingroom table drawing. I decide to draw the two of them with dragons and bunnies in the picture. We chatted away until it was time to wash up for dinner, both of them excitedly raced off to wash their hands.
"I'm glad you're getting on, normally their older brother plays with them." Mrs.Tachibana comments softly.
"It's my pleasure they're both so enthusiastic and have the best imaginations. I don't mind, I've had fun." I say with a soft smile, before washing my hands and helping Mrs.Tachibana take out plates of food. She's such a kind mom, so loving. Internally, I felt so warm, it's a feeling that I havent felt in such a long time.
We stayed a little while after dinner, the adults decided to stay around the dinning table, whilst myself, Ren and Ran went back into the livingroom to carry on with our drawing projects. Ran ended up giving my work a pink star sticker, which she said was her favourite type of sticker to receive. Ran had some dinosaur stickers which he put onto my work, it said good job.
"Can I give you both a sticker?" I ask softly motioning to their sticker sheets.
"Of course!" They say excitedly in unison, I flipped through the sticker sheets and found some smelly stickers. "Perfect." I comment a little absently as I gave Ren a Jellybean scented sticker and Ran a Candy Floss scented sticker. They both looked overjoyed as they smelt eachothers stickers and ran off to their mom to show them off.
"Those are amazing, have you had a fun day?" Mrs.Tachibana asks softly as she hugged them both.
"We've had a good day, right Ren?" Ran says happily.
"Right!" Ren smiles happily.
"That's good, but you need to put away your stuff now, it's time for bed." She says softly as she walks into the livingroom to look at their drawings. She gave them both praised and kissed their foreheads before they headed to bed their father tucking them both in for the night. "Thank you for today they've had fun. I'm really grateful (F/N)." Mrs.Tachibana speaks softly, greatfully.
"Anytime, I had fun too." I comment once more as we got ready to leave, waving goodnight to Mr. and Mrs.Tachibana as we drove back home. I fell asleep in the car, feeling tired from having an eventful day.