Kobayashi Yui is currently, strangely attracted to stars. Enthralled by the billions of burning gas light years away from her windowsill, it was simple, yet something-- different. It was nothing like Hailey’s Comet orbiting around the system or what Galileo Galilei would’ve seen with his scope; it was an entirely different concept.
“Pon!” That same, bashful voice was enough to snap her out of her senses, bento untouched and the same, bland atmosphere around her. “Pon, you haven’t touched your food yet.”
“...Sorry. I’m not really in the mood to eat.” Pon bitterly shakes her head. “I’m still caught up in this, aren’t I?”
Manaka snatches an egg from Pon’s bento, before continuing. “Well, it’s late at night and we’re sneaking food at the rooftop, I’d find it more unusual if you wouldn’t be requesting something like this.”
“It’s just..” Pon inhales deeply, “Whenever it’s night and this whole, chilly air comes around, it somehow feels like it’s consuming me in its thick blanket, and before I knew it I’m already immersed in this strange feeling of space wrapping around me, like pulling me towards the stars.”
Science wasn’t Manaka’s forte, but she gets the point. That’s the best thing about her; she may be a dumbass in class but she’s still rational enough to understand Pon’s tendency of falling in love with the sky. “Maybe it’s trying to tell something?”
Pon’s eyes seemed to brighten up in delight, enlightened about Manaka’s statement. “Something like?”
Manaka shrugs, but she still smiles anyway. “Maybe it’s trying to tell you that someone would come around and give the same, warm blanket in this cold, something that will pull you with the same amount of force it’s trying to pull you.”
Kobayashi never thought of it. The sky telling her to interpret something in this weird phenomenon that seems to happen specifically to her; feeling like it’s something more nuanced than whatever’s usual.
“Do you think they’d love the stars?”
“The someone you’re talking about.”
“I don’t know, maybe?”
Kobayashi knew that was the answer she’ll receive, but she didn’t mind. It would be selfish to know more than what a human brain capacity could receive, anyway.
The night goes on as usual, and there’s not much talking after that. The only thing standing out was when Manaka unusually didn’t finish her food, and Manaka’s view of Pon looking at the sky with this expression on her face that she couldn’t seem to understand.
The look of someone who only wishes but to understand the mysteries of the space and the universe itself.
She always wondered if Music and Astronomy were almost of the same wavelength. Both are endlessly continued to explore, even a tiny bit of specimen found would’ve been a great discovery. It looks shallow on the surface but there’s much more than meets the eye.
It’s like a nebula, a demanding slew of notes waiting to burst, and suddenly it just-- combusts. It’s far more unimaginable unlike the solo piano pieces usually memorized that were only stuck at what was taught. It’s like a star searching for another star, and together it’s an explosion of colors, vastly different and way past outside the boundaries of their capacities.
It’s a lot more than just sentimental value to Yui, rather, it’s what always been inside her mind ever since she first stepped into that room.
It’s another day at the music club, although it’s painfully quiet and boringly bland. Yuuka decides to cut off practice today for the sole reason of finding a pianist for a broader range of genres.
Initially, Manaka points at Yui.
“I’ve heard her play before,” she says, “but we’ll lose a sax player though.”
Yui just buries her face into her palms, and Yuuka just sighs. “I wanted Pon to play the piano too but Alto Sax plays a very crucial part in our songs.”
All their shoulders drop in defeat. Their best chance at this would only be another member, someone extremely skilled and someone who could go along their pieces nicely; but there’s noone coming to the music room and it’s already past 6, just about a few minutes before Yui’s train arrives.
“ Uhm,” Yui starts as she rearrange her sax inside the case. “I really really need to go, I gotta take the train by 30.”
“Take care Yui.” Risa waves, and the other two follow.
Yui waves back, and emptily leaves the room. It’s dusk; and the hallways are dark and empty, but the strong light emanating from the moon was a nice contrast, and suddenly she felt like slowing down. The sky does this thing again where the wonders of it just spawns, appears, its mystery still present yet unclear at the same time.
If only she--
She breaks out of her thoughts and immediately tried to rebound. Quite a large force was pressed against her, tripping the seemingly fragile girl on the floor.
“I-I’m sorry!” She starts, scrambling on the floor to gather papers that looked too familiar for Kobayashi. Those were music scores, piano sheets, specifically. “I must have spaced out while walking.”
“It’s no big deal,” Yui replies, ducking to her level as she picks up the rest of the papers. “I would be lying if I didn’t say I was too.”
Both of them awkwardly stood up afterwards. The moonlight shone across her face and their eyes finally meet, an unknown glow present in her irises. Her small stature and the fact that they were both on the floor made it almost impossible for her to see her clearly-- but now the light is present and suddenly she finds herself trying to search for words.
The girl was just about her shoulders, short hair with messy bangs that suited her quite round face. The light perfectly shined across her eyes-- they were wide, curious, eyes that resembled a child’s innocent glint.
It was quiet, and for a moment there Kobayashi suddenly forgot the reason why she was at the hallway.
“Uhm,” The girl purses her lips, averting her gaze, “Thanks.”
“Oh that’s-- that’s nothing.” She waved, “Be careful next time by the way.”
She giggles-- the kind where it’s not too forced or overdone-- before she happily nods with her grin never leaving her face. “I will.”
Kobayashi glances at her watch. It’s 10 minutes before her train arrives, and her mother would be furious if she arrived home late even by a minute.
“Shoot, I gotta go.” She gestures, breaking the building ice. “Uhm, goodnight? You probably should go home by now.”
“I have stuff to do so… yeah.” The girl nods again.
Kobayashi does the same, before her feet slowly, heavily dragged itself across the tiles. “Anyways, take care, bye!”
She technically dashed towards the school gate, leaving the girl in the dark hallways of the school.
Her phone kept on buzzing ever since she got home. Mostly it’s just about Manaka rambling about Risa or Yuuka about Akanen and honestly sometimes it’s just tiring for now.
She closes her lamp but the light won’t disappear. The moon was still blinding as that night , but there are no stars anywhere.
It’s just.. there.
Just the two of them, and it’s pretty-looking, light emanating on her windowsill as she stares at nothingness.
“Yui!” Yuuka beams as you enter the room. “Great timing!”
“What’s up?” Kobayashi starts before she began setting up. Yuuka’s smile was unusually wide, either something great happened or she got laid , but she guesses it’s the former. “You’re unusually happy today.”
“Well,” She starts, and her smile turns into a larger grin. Yui turns to Manaka and Risa, who only shrugged and smirked. Something fishy is going on, and they’d better tell or else they’d learn the lesson the hard way. “You won’t believe what just happened.”
“Well, remember yesterday where we waited late for the auditions and noone came?”
“...Yeah.” Yui follows. “I was.. practically here.”
“Manaka, Risa and I were alone after you left; but then-- you know the feeling where you think something’s not working out but then suddenly it just.. happens?”
Kobayashi blinks, her eyes alternating from Yuuka to Manaka and Risa and vice versa. “...and?”
Yuuka inhales, before continuing, “I always thought I’d never encounter it but it’s real--”
“We have a new band member!” The older girl ecstatically raised her arms in joy, “We got a pianist!”
“B-But there’s--” Yui was interrupted when Yuuka embraces her, jumping up and down. Has she been like this even before? Because she can’t recall the time when she’s this happy when she, Manaka and Risa agreed to join her band. “..Yuuka!”
Yuuka stops, and the younger girl holds her by the shoulders, to calm her. “I don’t get it, I thought noone came by yesterday.”
“That’s what we thought too.” Risa chimes in, “But a few minutes after you left suddenly there’s a knock on the door and, well, she’s been great.”
“Did she play anything?”
“Well, for a start she played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Manaka tilts her head as if thinking, “I thought she’s just self-taught until she played more complex pieces; La Campanella for example.”
“Christ, it’s like she sold her soul to the devil for that kind of skill.” Manaka acted as if there were shivers through her spine, and Yui slowly nodded for her brain to process everything.
“Oh and, she’s cute as hell, to be honest. “ Risa adds, “She has this, I’m-cute-but-don’t-mess-with-
me-when-I-play-piano sort of vibe. She’s totally different when she plays.”
Risa and Manaka acts as if they knew her personally, judging by their statements and how they’d describe her. But then again, Yui wasn’t actually there when it all happened, so she has no right to say something beyond those.
“ Anyway,” Yuuka joins, “I’m sure you’ll be happy to meet her too.”
Yui smiles, “Kinda excited to meet her with all those things you’ve been saying though-- so what’s her name?”
“Oh!” Yuuka beams even wider, “You’ll be happy to hear this! She’s Ima--”
The bell suddenly rings-- the loud kind of bell that Yui barely heard the name slip from Yuuka’s lips. “Wait I didn’t hea--”
“Oh shit, Yuuka it’s Social Science class.” Manaka alarms, “We gotta bail.”
The oldest of the trio immediately stops and grabs her bag from the podium and went straight towards the door, the other two following suit. “We’ll tell next time, see ya at club Yui!”
And the door slides close.
“I didn’t even knew her name,” Yui mumbles, alone inside the room, her sax set up on her hands. “...And I thought it’s band practice.”
She sighs, before she places the sax back inside the case. It’s her vacant, around three hours with nothing to do, nothing to play with. She’s not in the mood to practice either.
And then she remembers the school rooftop; the only place where she sought peace of mind.
It’s humid, but it’s windy; it’s peaceful but her head was already whirling around, and around, and around. Maybe the heat was too strong, but that wouldn’t be the case now, would it?
It’s like being inside a shoujo manga with no actual plot, just the heroine, no guys (or would there?), and the infamous, cliched rooftop scene which is something she’ll spare because honestly it’s really really nice. It sets the mood for relaxing, it may be humid but the wind is a nice contrast. Plus, the sky isn’t blocked. She could see the clouds leisurely floating, circling the Earth.
Of course she’d prefer the darkness of night, but the day is a bliss. The birds were awake and even sought food, creating nests and tending to its hatchlings, and she feels the day is just— natural. It makes daytime go by fast without a hitch, like it’s already instilled in everyone’s routine and it feels like everything would spiral out if by chance the sun suddenly disappeared.
It’s 1:57 and her vacant ends in two hours at most.
A little nap wouldn’t hurt now that she’s sitting at beside the deck where noone could see her as they enter. Again, it’s that time where the sky does its thing and it sets the mood, the breeze gently caressing her skin, waking the sleepiness inside her. It’s nice, having this atmosphere around, like someone cradling her until she dozes off.
Her eyelids were heavy, her vision was blurry,
and she sees this hazy image of a girl sitting down to her level…..
“Wha--!” Yui scrambles on the floor, her back pushing the wall behind her as if it could do anything helpful. A fucking girl. At the rooftop. With her. “Who the fuck are--”
“Wait wait it’s not what you think!” The girl exclaims, her hands raised in the air, equally shocked. “God I’m so sorry, were you sleeping?”
“No, I’m counting elephants.”
“Did I disturb you or do you still remember which count you stopped?”
“Oh for crying out loud, of course I’m sleep—”
Kobayashi felt her vision suddenly sharpen, and the glint present in those eyes looked all too familiar, almost the same as the girl before—no, even brighter, much more intricate, byzantine; unnatural. “—ping.”
As if on cue, the girl squints her eyes as if remembering something. “Wait, aren’t you..”
And then it clicked.
Ah. Yes. How could she forget?
“You’re the girl from the other night.” Kobayashi remembers. “Bumped into me, scores scattering…”
“..Oh, yeah, ” She grimaces, probably still feels cringey about how cheesy that night became. “That was my fault. I was in a hurry I forgot there’s someone at the hallway that late.”
“It’s my fault too anyway. Well, our fault. My friends pulled me on some shit I didn’t know and the next thing I remember was my mom furiously texting me to come home.”
“I guess we’re equal.” the shorter girl grins, “Can I make it up to you?”
“For clumsily bumping into you.”
Kobayashi blinks. The offer sounded genuine, and it seems like her vacant will end in an hour and a half;
There’s still enough time.
So far the day has been boring but now Yui finds herself laughing with a girl she just barely knew. They were outside, off-campus, particularly in Shibuya’s Central Street, currently waiting in line in front of a crepe stand; and Yui immediately regrets hating the heat. It’s actually a nice contrast, and at least the line isn’t that long.
“Oof, there’s a lot on their menu.” She says, her jaw a bit dropped, unsure of what to order, “What are you gonna get?”
“I thought you’re more of a cheesecake type, though.”
“Unless you want someone barfing on the way back, then sure, I’ll get it.” Kobayashi snickered.
The girl laughs, loud, and the kind that her eyes almost disappear; and her somehow crooked teeth suits so cute on her. She finds herself smiling at the girl, for whatever reason that is.
She got the chocolate she wanted, and the girl helps herself with the strawberry she ordered. Hers has extra whipped cream and Kobayashi got brownie stuffings despite insisting that chocolate syrup was enough. The ice cream was practically frozen, and the way it melts in her tongue was magic. It’s creamy, just the way she liked it.
“How come I haven’t tried this before?” She exclaims, and Kobayashi laughs. “I pass by that shop a lot of times before, but never thought about trying it.”
“Well, now you had.”
“Yeah, thanks to you— oh, they served a hefty amount of brownies on yours huh.” She eyes the pastry on her crepe, then at her, then back at the crepe.
“Everything’s all chocolatey on mine, you can get some if you want.” Yui hands her serving to her, and she uses her spoon to grab a few.
“Aah! Yours tastes great!” She says as she takes another bite from the brownie, the moist texture along with the whipped cream was divine, and soon she finds herself combining it with her strawberry. Yui just chuckles as she watch her enjoy her share.
“Does this brand of string do better than the one I usually use?”
“I don’t know Risa, I don’t play guitar.”
The familiar name and the familiar voice came from the music shop just beside them. While her companion enjoys her food, she whipped her head to her side, and sure enough; the strikingly blonde and the familiar, brown colour didn’t take too much time for her to add two and two together.
“The original classical pianos produce sound because of the strings behind it, Manaka.”
“Well technically even if you’re correct do those strings even look detachable to you?”
Kobayashi glances at her watch.
“I dunno, I don’t pl—” The voice stopped in its tracks, and so did Yui. “Manaka, twelve o’clock,”
“What the hell are you saying? It’s already half-past four, dumbass.”
“Are you fucking with me right now?” Risa shoots a sharp glare to a confused Shida, glancing back and forth to her and behind her. “The direction!”
“Are you on glue? Since when did time became dire--” Shida turns her head and sees a familiar figure. “Wait, isn’t that…”
“It’s her, isn’t it?”
“What is she doing here? Practice starts in twenty minutes.”
“I guess she’s… oh.” Manaka points at the girl, to which Risa swats her hand immediately to avoid getting noticed. “She’s— she’s with a girl…”
Risa squints to clear her vision. “Seems like it’s a girlfriend to me.”
The duo continued to stare, thankfully Yui was subtly turning her face towards the other direction, far from the two. How could she forget? She was so caught up with someone that she forgot to reconsider the fact that the three would be done by their classes by now. She even skipped the class after her vacant and now, here she is.
“Where do you wanna go aft— hey!”
“Shh, come with me.” Kobayashi finishes her crepe first before holding her wrist, briskly walking through the crowd, away from the duo. Soon she finds themselves on the platform of the train they were about to take, and the girl right by her just finished her food.
“I kinda feel stuffy when I’m around too many people. Sorry about that.”
“But we’re taking the train, there’s people inside, right?”
Unconsciously, a small laugh escapes from her lips, one that got the girl confused, but the confused smile was funnier. “Why are you laughing?”
“Nothing, it’s just— it’s ironic, that I say I’m scared of too many people around me yet I’m with a stranger I just knew the other night.”
“I guess I’m not some stranger now, then, am I?” She smiles just exactly as the train arrives.
The ride was quiet, she’s beside her on the train full of people, and her hand was resting on her knee, and it’s pretty distracting. But then again, the girl beside her was peacefully sound asleep, she had no reason to be distracted at all.
She fished her phone out and opened a star chart. Constellations. It’s a habit whenever she’s bored, and she’s in a closed space, no sky in her view; she never forgets about the stars. It’s more like a routine, or a hobby, actually it’s still unknown even to her, and she just can’t seem to last a day without looking outside the window at night.
Kobayashi flinches in surprise, she turns her head beside her, and— she’s not asleep. “I thought you’re sleeping.”
“I listen to music with my eyes closed,” She pops an earbud from her other ear, “See?”
“Oh. Well, this one’s a star chart. Whenever it’s daytime and I can’t look at the sky, I just try to predict the stars later at night so I could search for them later while I’m in my room. It’s a weird habit of mine.” She purses her lips to prevent her from saying anything else, to avoid freaking her out. “I know it’s.. pretty weird, yeah.”
Instead, she closes in and holds the phone as well, her hand on top of hers, and she inhales, deep. “That’s so awesome! I didn’t know this thing exists!”
Yui exhales in surprise, “Most people wait to look and observe them at night; but for me I kind of play with it by predicting what constellations would appear and try to find them later.”
Her face turned into an expression of amazement, “Well, were you able to find what you need to find every night?”
“I’m pretty confident, yeah.” She replies, albeit a bit shy.
The train stops, the doors open and people leave, some stayed, some new came in. Yui fiddles with her phone with her beside her, watching as she navigated through the app with evident expertise. It looked difficult at first, but she just got used to it. Plus, it’s her first time getting observed while doing something as weird as this, because Manaka and Risa’s previous attempts to look at her were futile.
A few minutes passed and the train slowed down their stop. She fishes her phone back in her blazer, and they step out onto the platform.
“Do you have somewhere to go?” She asks, and Yui nods her head. “Some stuff, yeah. Gotta go and meet with my friends.”
“I guess this is where we part, huh.” Yui felt her stomach sink. She wanted to walk slowly past the school gate, but it’s late, and they’re already at the entrance. “See you next time, then? I have some club stuff to do as well.”
She waves goodbye, and Kobayashi makes her way to the music room. Somehow thinking about what happened during the whole time was fun. It was nice. Too nice that she forgot that she’s smiling as she stepped inside the room.
The whole view of Yui smiling with no context was weird for the duo waiting for her inside, they exchanged glances, before asking, “Where were you?”
That seemed to bounce her off her thoughts, and the smile disappears, and she shakes her head no. “N-Nothing, just, remembered a funny joke.”
She lied, and she knew they saw right through her. Well, maybe not Yuuka, she’s busy arranging papers far from music scores; presumably her assignment.
“Oh yeah?” Manaka scoffs, “Do tell.”
Kobayashi frowns, “What?”
“C’mon! The room’s pretty bland and all,” Risa shrugs, “If you didn’t tell any then you’re lying..” she slowly trails off with a stupid smile on her face.
The younger girl waves her hand in dismissal, “It’s actually not that funny if you think about it—”
“How can you be sure if we haven’t heard it yet?” Risa waggles her eyebrows, and Manaka laughs, that loud, annoying laugh echoing throughout the room.
Finally, Yui stops, a look of disapproval present on her face. “Okay, you know what? Fine. But don’t judge me for not being as ‘interesting’ as you two.”
“Oh trust me, ” Manaka chimes, “ This will be interesting.”
She stares at them, their faces smug with those mischievous grins on their lips. She sighs for the nth time; and before anything else happens: “Why— Why does a music teacher need a ladder?”
Risa and Manaka exchanged glances again, back at Yui, then back at them, trying to guess what might be the answer. Manaka furrows her eyebrows, and Risa tilts her head, while both of them hum a long ‘hmmm’ with their hands stroking their chins. All dramatic and everything. “Why?”
“Because,” Kobayashi inhales, and she sees the two smile and their faces lean a bit close in anticipation. These two has always been the reason of her embarrassments, the only two fucks her patience was able put up with since childhood. She bit her lip and avert her gaze from them, embarrassed, before continuing: “She— she can’t.. She can’t reach the high note.”
Suddenly, Yuuka’s papers ripping in half were the ones echoing throughout the room. Yuuka stops, her eyes on Yui, and so did the other two.
Silence ensued, Risa and Manaka’s smug grins completely wiped out, Yuuka blankly staring at Kobayashi for an uncomfortable amount of seconds, quiet, and the younger girl covers her face with her hand in defeat.
“Wow.” Risa breaks the ice, before turning to Manaka, “You’ve been telling me jokes for years and yet you’re still far, far worse than her.”
“Hey!” Manaka retorts, slapping Risa’s shoulder, “Okay then, you know what? I think I’ll pull my best trick yet.”
Yui assumes this wouldn’t go any better, but Risa beats her to it: “Fire away.”
“What’s a difference between a musician and a fourteen inch pizza?”
The younger girl eyes at the cheeky guitarist, exasperated. She warns, but Risa just grins. “What?”
Manaka inhales, a look of triumph evident on her face, “A pizza could feed a family of four.”
Risa’s grin disappeared and Yui’s lips were twitching up and down, unsure of what expression to make. They exchanged glances, and the sax player grimaced. “That’s awful.”
“ ANYWAYS,” Yuuka slams her hand on the podium, startling the trio at the same time. “You three are equally awful.”
“Okay,” Manaka rebutts, “At least not as awful as your pridefully-claimed ‘soundproof’ rooms at your place.”
“What are you talking about?”
“If you want me to go deeper in detail, then..” She looks at Risa with another mischievous grin, but Risa’s face was the opposite. Her eyes widen and she gestures Manaka to shut up, but it was useless. “I’m sorry Yuuka, but you really, really, have to tone it down with Akane sometimes.”
Yuuka’s jaw dropped a bit in surprise; she can’t believe what she was hearing.
Only Yui was the one clueless among them.
“Shh,” Risa claps her hands on each of Yui’s ears, “I’m sorry, you don’t need to hear this.”
“What tone down?”
“Oh please, really, Yuuka?” Manaka suddenly bursts out laughing, “ ‘ Oh yes, Akane, Ride me like a fucking horse’? Was that some kind of kink play? ”
Risa was shaking, her lips pursed stifling a giggle as Manaka continued to laugh; Yuuka’s face was priceless, and the growing flush on her cheeks meant a thousand words. She places a hand on her head, astonished.
“Hey, you looked happy the day after that, I wouldn’t be a killjoy alright?”
Risa removes her hands from Yui’s ears, and the latter emerges, suspicious, but she wouldn’t pry if someone had to cover her hearing during a conversation. All four looked at each other with no words said, awkward silence rising inside the room.
Suddenly, Yuuka’s phone buzzed. “Imaizumi’s on her way. She said she went out with someone so it took her long.”
“Imaizumi?” Yui tilts her head. “The new member?”
“Ah, yes, I forgot. She’s the pianist we recently took in.” Yuuka says, “You’ll love her!”
Manaka furrows her eyebrows as if she remembered something. “Oh! Risa, she really did go out with someone awhile ago!”
“She got a girl, alright.” Risa chuckles, “Didn’t know she swings that way.”
The oldest seemed confused. “What do you mean? Awhile ago?”
“We saw her at Shibuya awhile ago, Risa brought some G-strings—” Risa elbows her side, and she winces, before she could continue, “—Strings, I mean, in G chords, and we saw her with a girl outside the shop, eating crepe.”
Kobayashi Yui’s stomach dropped.
After a series of knocks were heard, the door slides open before the youngest girl could even register everything inside her head. “Hi I’m—”
The thin lips.
The cheerful voice.
The seemingly familiar wide eyes met with hers, the bright, hopeful looking, irises she has been looking at since the time at the rooftop.
“Imaizumi!” Sugai opens her arms as if to welcome her. “What took you so long?”
“Uhm,” the girl casually shrugs, “Just, well, things. ”
The former holds her wrist and pulls her inside the room, closing the door behind her. “Let’s leave it that way for now. I want you to meet our saxist, she’s younger than any one of us, but her skill set is above ours.”
“Hi,” the short girl waves her hand, “I didn’t know you’re.. here.”
“Uhm, same,” Kobayashi bites her lip, feeling both nervous and tense. “I’ve been here since last year, though.”
“Guide me through everything, then?” the girl grins, wide. “After seeing you here I’ve never been more excited to be in a club.”
“..Tha— that’s…” Kobayashi felt heat rushing to her cheeks. “Don’t worry.”
“Yui.” Yuuka motions, and both of their heads whipped at her direction. The she suddenly bursts out laughing without any context at all. Right. She totally forgot. “I mean, Kobayashi.”
“Wait why my surname? Formalities?”
Yuuka inhales. “Risa, Manaka, I forgot to tell you we’ll have two Yuis in our group starting today.”