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Worries At Sunset

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Tsurumaki Kokoro was still getting used to a lot of her friends having graduated out of high school. She didn’t let it get to her mood however, especially since she still had a lot of friends alongside her in her final year. But despite there being a full two years since she had stumbled into creating the Astronomy Club at Hanasakigawa Girls’ Academy, she was still the only member and now the only girl who would stop by had graduated too.

Stretching out her arms and legs, Kokoro gazed up at the sky dyed pink from the sunset. The Astronomy Club had special permission to visit the school roof whenever they wanted too, which was good because Kokoro enjoyed visiting it a lot. It allowed her to think things over and right now there was a lot to think about.

The past weekend had involved to a rather unfortunate event. During band practice, everyone just started yelling at each other and acting all strange. They ended up having to call it an early day and Kaoru asked if they could put practice on hold for now until things improved. Kokoro was aware that she didn’t fully understand everything going on, but she still wanted to help get things back on the right track.

“Kokoron?”

The door to the roof had been opened by Kitazawa Hagumi who walked up and sat down next Kokoro. She looked a bit unnerved, though Kokoro couldn’t tell if it was related to this past weekend or something else.

“Hagumi, what’s up?”

“Well… I just wanted to talk with someone.”

“Then let’s talk!”

Hagumi tugged on the sleeve of her uniform as she took a deep breath.

“Kokoron, what is your family like?”

“My family?”

“Like, your mom and dad. What are they like?”

“Hmm… I don’t see them that often. Both of them are often out on business errands, but we have family gatherings ever so often and they’re both happy and full of smiles.”

“That’s nice.”

“Yeah, I love them both!”

“Right.”

“Why are you asking, Hagumi?”

“Remember how I told you a while back that my parents yell and fight a lot?”

“Oh…” Kokoro took a moment to think. “About you being rough and untame, right?”

“Yeah. They’ve been fighting for as long as I can remember while constantly telling me I have to grow out of being a tomboy. But recently it got worse.”

Kokoro sat up and faced Hagumi from the front, paying attention as best as she could. She knew what it was like getting yelled at, Misaki yelled at her all the time, but it seemed it was a different kind of yelling. She couldn’t help but relate it to the past weekend’s practice session.

“How did it get worse?”

“I let it slip out that two of my friends had broken up and when they realized I was talking about two girls, my dad said some nasty things. I talked back and then…”

“Then?”

“He said that it was probably Mi-kun and Kanon-chan-senpai’s fault that I can’t act like a proper girl. Then my mom said he went too far and they yelled at each other again and dad left and… And…”

Hagumi was crying. Unsure of what to do, Kokoro hugged her as carefully as she could. Kaoru had taught her to always be careful when hugging someone who cries, to not risk making things worse. She tried to remember what else her friends had taught her about these situations. Kanon would try and calm her down.

“There there…” Kokoro stroke Hagumi’s back.

“Dad left and now mom says he won’t come back.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. But now our friends are yelling and fighting too and I’m worried…”

“You’re worried Kaoru, Kanon, Misaki and Michelle will leave like your dad.”

This worry was one Kokoro did understand, as it was one she had felt herself but hadn’t been able to fully articulate until now. She leaned away from Hagumi and looked her in the eyes.

“Hagumi. Happy, lucky…”

“Kokoron…”

“Happy, lucky…”

“S-smile... Yay.”

“Happy, lucky…”

“Smile, yay.”

“Happy! Lucky!”

“Smile! Yay!”

Between her tears, Hagumi was chuckling. She took hold of Kokoro’s hand and smiled.

“Hagumi, our friends aren’t going anywhere. Okay?”

“Okay, Kokoron, I believe you.”

The two girls decided to lie down together and look at the sky that had now turned a deep purple from the sun almost having fully set. Kokoro thought it amazing what a small conversation with a friend can do to set your mind back on track. She now knew how to approach the problem that was tearing their band apart.

“Hagumi, have you ever been in love?”

“Love? Not really. I’ve had a small crush here and there, but nothing that felt deeper than that.”

“Me neither. I don’t really get what it’s supposed to be.”

“It’s… Well… I’m not sure how to describe it but I think I know what it might be like? Maybe?”

“I’ve never felt anything special towards a single person, I like everyone.”

“That’s so like you, Kokoron.”

“But right now the problem we’re facing has to do with love, doesn’t it?”

“You mean Mi-kun and Kanon-chan-senpai?”

“Yeah, they were in love and were happy, now they’re not happy.”

“Hmm… But I think they still love each other, right?”

“Maybe. I don’t know.”

“Perhaps it’s just that a relationship can be straining, just like it can be enjoyable… Like how my mom and dad used to seem happy together too.”

“That’s it! I need to understand what it’s like being in a relationship or else I can’t help Misaki and Kanon! You’re so smart Hagumi!”

“Eh? But you said you didn’t have anyone that you felt were special?”

“Do I have to?”

“I mean… I guess it depends? All relationships are different, but I know I would want to feel like I was special to someone, y’know?”

“I see.”

“Who would you ask out, anyway?”

“I’m not sure, it would have to be someone I feel would understand my reasons while also not being hurt by them…”

Hagumi was amazed at Kokoro’s devotion. She looked at her being deep in thought over this whole thing, it filled Hagumi with confidence that she truly could find a way to help their friends somehow. Suddenly, Kokoro shot straight up.

“I got it!”

“You do?”

“I’m going to ask my senpai from the club!”

“I thought you were the only member of this club, Kokoron?”

Kokoro fished up her phone and scrolled through her contacts before a certain name showed up. Hagumi looked at her with curiosity as she wagged back and forth while waiting for whoever it was she was calling to pick up.

“Hmm-hmm…” Kokoro hummed to herself. “Ah, Hina!”

“Kokoro-chan! How’s club?” The excited voice of Hikawa Hina on the other side of the phone exclaimed. “Sorry I couldn’t drop by, agency is having me do stuff.”

“It’s okay, hey, I have a question.”

“Shoot!”

“Do you wanna go out with me?”

“Come again?”

“I’ll explain in full detail later, but it’s an honest question.”

“You want to go out together? You mean as friends?”

“Nope. I’m asking you to be my girlfriend, Hina!”

“Oh? I’m surprised. I’ve never been asked that before.”

“So, what do you say?”

“...” For a while there was nothing but the silent buzzing noise in the background of the phone call before Hina finally responded. “Yeah! Sure, that sounds fun!”

“Sweet!”

“Ah, but I have to go now. At a meeting.”

“Okay, let’s talk later!”

“Sure thing, bye-bye Kokoro-chan!”

“Bye-bye, Hina!”

Kokoro ended the call and looked at Hagumi with a face that could only described as beaming. Hagumi stood up as well, brushing off her uniform before posing the obvious question.

“So, how did it go?”

“She said yes!”

“You said Hina, so does that mean you asked Hina-chan from Pastel*Palettes?”

“Mhm! Oh, I should tell the others.”

Kokoro pulled her phone back out and opened up the instant messaging channel that Hello, Happy World! used for when the whole band needed to know something. After stopping for a moment to think about what she should write she finally reached a conclusion and tapped in a message that went out to everyone in the band.

Kokoro: Guess what! I suddenly have a girlfriend!

Kokoro proudly left the roof together with Hagumi, excited to learn everything there was to know about what being in a relationship or like. She wasn’t even bothered by the lack of instant replies to her message, she was riding the high of having asked someone out and gotten a positive response.

Who needs all that additional special love stuff when this alone was already so much fun?