Seta Kaoru hugged her former classmates one last time before she left the school grounds, doing her best to hold back her tears. Today she had graduated from Haneoka Girls’ School and set out to begin her life as an adult. She was going to miss her old drama club members and the juniors she had cared for these years, but to quote Chaucer, all things must come to and end.
Of course, she still had a lot of friends she was going to stay in touch with, not to mention that she was still going to play guitar for Hello, Happy World! for as long as she was welcomed to. But the person who filled Kaoru’s mind the most was her childhood friend, Shirasagi Chisato, with whom she had a promise to fulfill now that they both had graduated.
After being separated for five years, they had met each other again early in their second year of high school. They had both changed a lot and at first it seemed they would not be able to restore the spark that had been lit between them as children, but once they saw past each other’s masks and noticed the child beneath, they had made a promise to each other.
Upon graduating, they’d unmask each other and stay together, as lovers, forever.
Kaoru checked her phone for the time, she had to get back home to her student apartment, which she’d have to move out of soon. She wanted to take a shower and put on something more appealing than the brown and gray school uniform she’d been wearing for the past year. After all, she wanted to make a good impression on their first day together as lovers.
Throughout her three years at Haneoka she had charmed and courted countless girls, making a name for herself as “every girl’s prince”, a name that managed to reach further than school grounds. Even so, there was one thing Kaoru had made sure of, which was to treat every girl equal. She was not to fall to favouritism, not even if the girl she was currently seeing as a friend. If she was to be every girl’s prince, every girl should be valued as a princess.
As such, she had not officially dated any girl during these three years. She had gone on dates, sure, many more than she could count. She had danced with girls in moonlight, kissed them in the rain, taken them to bed past midnight… But none of them had had the luxury of calling herself her girlfriend. Kaoru had been saving that all this time since that day Chisato’s family moved away seven years ago. All for the sake of this day.
Once out of the shower, Kaoru wasted no time when putting on her makeup and drying her hair, going for a semi-wet look with a low ponytail. She put on a pair of form-fitting black pants together with a deep purple blouse to go under a black blazer. She was going to look her best while still being as honest and true to herself as she could be.
No fairytale prince. No knight in shining armor. Just Seta Kaoru.
Not five minutes after getting ready, she heard a knocking sound. Taking a deep breath, she made her way from her bed to the door and opened it. In front of her stood Chisato, dressed in a pale yellow blouse and a white skirt, running down just past her knees. Kaoru nearly lost her composure, then she noticed something. Chisato wasn’t smiling.
“Kao-chan?” She spoke silently.
“What’s the matter, Chisato?”
“Can I come inside? We need to talk.”
Kaoru let her inside, wondering what was going on. Chisato took off her shoes and sat down on the side of Kaoru’s bed, staring at the floor and not saying a word. Reading the mood, Kaoru thought it best to offer Chisato something to drink, so she poured her up some tea before sitting down beside her. She accepted the cup and took a sip before she began talking.
“I’m sorry, Kao-chan.”
“I won’t be able to keep my end of our promise.”
“You…” In a split second Kaoru’s heart sunk. “You mean?”
“I know I was the one who pushed all of this to happen and now I’m the one who’s ruining it.”
“Slow down, Chisato, I’m not following you right now.”
“Okay.” She took another sip of her tea.
“Did your feelings for me change?”
“No! That’s not… It’s out of my hands.”
“Did your agency find out at tell you off?”
“Well, it’s about the agency, but I had already decided to take the risk regardless of what they told me, the problem is… I’ll be going away again.”
Chisato leaned onto Kaoru’s shoulder and began explaining that Pastel*Palettes were entering a period of solo promotion, where the agency wanted each member to focus on building a solo career. Upon learning that Chisato was well-versed in a lot of overseas languages and culture, they decided it was a great idea to have part of her solo project involve living abroad.
Before she had been able to object, both her manager and the rest involved had labeled it a great idea. Realizing the trouble she’d be in if she both refused this offer and then broke the set rules on relationships, she had no choice but to comply or risk losing her entire career. As such, she was to spend two years studying and promoting herself in Paris.
“You’re going all the way to France?”
“I’m sorry. I should have objected…”
“Chisato, please don’t blame yourself for this.”
“I broke our promise.”
“When are you leaving?”
“I see, and you’ll be gone two years.”
“We can still talk, right?”
“There’s a time zone difference of about eight hours.”
“I can stay up late, that’s no problem.”
“Kao-chan, we both know neither of us could handle a long-distance relationship like this.”
“Maybe not but, we can still stay in touch, and then…”
“I have waited seven years for you, what’s another two years?”
“I can’t make you do that.”
“You can’t stop me from doing it either.”
“Two years will seem much longer when we can’t see each other.”
“And I have no doubt it’ll hurt, but I’m willing to wait as long as you still want me.”
“You and your thickheaded charmer tricks…”
“Oh no, Chisato, this is all Seta Kaoru, no acting.”
“Prove me wrong.”
Chisato kissed Kaoru on the lips, putting her tea cup down on the bedside table. She put her weight onto her partner’s chest so that she fell back down on the mattress, laying on top of her, extending and intensifying the kiss. Kaoru’s hand caressed her face, feeling the stream of tears on Chisato’s face that had also started giving their kiss a taste of salt.
Both of their blouses were soon on the floor as the two lovers disappeared into the warmth of each other’s embrace, sharing what would be their final night together before their tragic parting. Neither held anything back. In between the tears, moans, scratching and biting an onlooker would not have been able to tell if they were making love or seeking to harm each other. Yet, to them both, this was a moment of pure bliss.
Once exhausted from their passion, Kaoru and Chisato simply laid silent in each other’s arms, letting the evening take hold. It was a moment they’ve shared many times before but one they soon would not be able to share for a long time.
“Will you really wait for me again?”
“Why? It’s caused you nothing but pain so far.”
“Chii-chan… Because I love you and want you, no... I want us to be happy.”
“I will miss you, but to quote Chaucer. All things must come to an end.”
“Kaoru, that idiom is about happy moments coming to an end.”
“Never mind... “ Chisato sighed before falling asleep, her head resting on Kaoru’s chest.
Kaoru’s alarm on her phone was loudly telling her to wake up a third time as she finally took the hint. She made her way to the bathroom, tired and dizzy from far too little sleep. She saw her own reflection and made a double take.
“Oh… Oh right, I cut my hair yesterday.”
“Yeah, you did.” spoke a voice from behind her.
“Good morning, Misaki-kun.”
“It was morning when you came home, it’s past noon now.”
“It’s fine, it’s the weekend.”
“Sure, but we also have practice this evening so try to put yourself together.”
She had moved in with Okusawa Misaki last month after the she began attending university. Things were a bit rough, but Kaoru had managed to make a name for herself with her fellow thespians at the school. Even so, she had began sleeping less since shortly before her courses had started.
“Look, I know things have been rough for you since Shirasagi-san left…”
“All I’m saying is, please look after yourself. I’ll be back by four, we can head to practice together after that, okay?”
“Sure, sounds good.”
Kaoru head back into the bedroom and got dressed before looking at the picture on her nightstand. A picture of two girls, around age eleven, holding hands and smiling.
“Two years will pass by in no time at all, Chii-chan.”
To be continued...