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Study Buddies

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Even after being their guitarist for so long, Hikawa Sayo kept learning new things about the members of Roselia.

Like how Yukina and Lisa were, by her standards, utterly awful at academics.

“Review classes again? This is going to cut into our rehearsal time, Minato-san, Imai-san,” Sayo chided for what felt like the fortieth time since the day before. The band was sitting at their favorite family restaurant after a successful live performance and had moved on to the discussion of grades and school. They were gathered around a shared basket of fries (Ako's idea, which she'd ordered while staring directly at Sayo), drinks, and individual plates of hamburger steak.

Yukina huffed and crossed her arms. “As long as I'm passing, it doesn't matter. My only concern is the quality of my sound.” She reached for her glass of soda, almost empty, and sucked on the straw.

Something about Yukina's indignance over her schoolwork didn't sit right with Sayo, even though she was usually on the same page with Yukina about literally everything. Of course music took priority over everything else, but Sayo’s reaction was to be expected, considering she was on the forefront of her school’s disciplinary committee. And anyway, Haneoka was too lax for her liking.

Sayo raised the French fry she'd plucked from the basket in protest. She wasn't about to let Yukina fall into the same trap as Poppin'Party. She'd spent a fair bit of time tutoring Toyama Kasumi and she knew too well how bad grades could affect the music. “But how are you going to practice it if you're spending all your time in review classes? Minato-san, you've told me before that your grades are of no import to you, but please try to understand--”

Lisa cut in. “Okay, guys, guys! Calm down for a bit,” she said, as she turned to Sayo. “Sayo, if it's such an issue, why don't you help us out?” She winked, and Sayo glared at her.

“We weren't… arguing…”

“Yeah, Sayo-san! You're good at studying! You could help Lisa-nee and Yukina-san with their grades so we can practice more!” Ako exclaimed, practically bouncing in her seat. “Lisa-nee, you know, Sayo-san helped Ako a couple times with her homework! Ako passed so many tests because of her help!”

Rinko, having just finished her drink, moved both of her hands under the table, presumably to wring them together as she joined the conversation. “Hikawa-san is… a good tutor… Ako-chan tells me about how she helps her all the time…”

“It's not that. Udagawa-san's subjects are easy, that's all.”

“No, but if you can help out Ako, you can help us, right?” Lisa beamed. “Come on~ We're all in the same grade, so we're probably studying the same things anyway!” She nudged Sayo. “And if we have time…” She leaned in closer and whispered in Sayo's ear. “We can fool around.”

Sayo turned red and shoved a giggling Lisa away. “Fine! I'll help you, but not with that!” Why did Lisa have to bring that up? It's true that she had done rather… improper things with Yukina and Lisa in the past, but she preferred not to bring that up when they were still technically in a band setting. Now she had Ako's suspicion to deal with, and possibly Rinko's too if things kept going at this rate.

Yukina, munching on a fry, looked at them curiously, but made no inquiries.

“Wh-what's wrong, Sayo-san?” Ako asked, leaning across the table. Rinko, meanwhile, looked down at her lap, fidgeting nervously.

“It… it's nothing. Pay Imai-san no mind, she was just making a foolish suggestion.” Sayo shook her head.

“So shy,” Lisa muttered, although she was smiling. She snatched a fry out of the basket and popped it in her mouth.

Rinko tugged on Ako's sleeve. “Ako-chan… Imai-san was just joking about something… I think…” She turned her eyes towards Sayo's, and Sayo froze in place as violet met green. Sayo felt as if Rinko was looking right through her. Shit, does Shirokane-san know? Damn Imai-san couldn't keep it to herself, she thought.

Ako turned to Rinko in protest. “Yeah, but Ako still wants to know!”

“It's nothing,” Sayo assured her. “Really.” She stabbed a fork into her hamburger steak, which up until that point had been neglected. Lisa looked worriedly at the steak, then at Sayo.

“Awww…”

Ako looked disappointed, and her pigtails seemed to droop.

“Thank you, Shirokane-san,” Sayo muttered, shoving the hamburger steak in her mouth.

Rinko nodded. “Of course…”

Lisa spoke up again. “Okay, so that's settled, then! Sayo, we'll meet up before practice so you can help us study.”

“It'll probably be better than the review classes,” Yukina mused, probably pretending to ignore Sayo and Lisa's display. “Anyway, if it will help us get more time for rehearsal, I'm all for it.”

Sayo sighed. “Alright. I'll text you two the details.”

“Oh, Sayo's planning something special, huh?”

“Lisa, stop teasing her,” Yukina urged. She was looking down at the table. Her face was dusted with light pink. “Sayo might refuse.”

Sayo looked at Yukina curiously before nodding in agreement. “Yes, that's right. Listen to Minato-san.”

Lisa giggled. “Anything you say, Yukina~”

Sayo gave Yukina and Lisa another strange look, but she said nothing more as she downed the rest of her fries.

---

Sayo invited them to her house on a Saturday. It would be a few hours before practice, and perhaps they could start ahead of time once they finished studying. That's what Sayo hoped for, anyway, but with Lisa's manners during their dinner the other night, she wasn't entirely sure what her plans would be after studying.

Sayo picked Saturday because it was a half day at school and her parents would be out of the house, so they had free reign over where they wanted to study. Hina was traveling for a Pastel*Palettes tour, so she wouldn't be home to bug them. Sayo had long since reconciled with her sister, but that didn't change the fact that Sayo worried about the influence Hina had on her bandmates. She worried about Lisa in particular, since the two of them were good friends and took classes together at Haneoka. Hina's habits, detrimental to anyone who wasn't an absolute genius like her--namely, her refusal to study and her tendency to prioritize having a good time over everything else--might have been having a negative impact on Lisa. In any case, Sayo was thankful for the temporary reprieve over the weekend.

Were Sayo to be completely honest with herself, she was actually looking forward to tutoring Yukina and Lisa. Besides their shared… history, which Sayo constantly tried not to think about in order to maintain professionalism in the band, she wanted to show off a little in an area that wasn't guitar. Ako had sung her praises of Sayo's teaching skills, and Sayo had denied it at the time, but it was true. Sayo was an excellent student, and her dedication to keeping up her reputation at school could rub off on anyone if she spent enough time with them. (Hina was an exception.) And, in truth, she cared about her bandmates outside of the musical setting a great deal and wanted to see them at their best in all areas of their lives, including their education. Sayo wanted to help, and today was her chance to do just that.

With nothing better to do, since school was now over and she'd caught up to her own work, Sayo opted to use her free time before the study session to practice guitar and review the songs for the next set. Sayo was in the middle of reading through some sheet music when she heard the mellow ring of the doorbell resound throughout her house.

Sayo looked up when she heard the bell. Are they here early? Couldn't be… She put down the sheet music book she'd been reviewing and slid her guitar off her lap, hopping off the bed and gently placing her guitar where she'd been sitting.

Sayo padded across her room and threw on one of her sister's old, freshly laundered practice shirts, which for some reason was in her room. Hina always left her things lying around, and the habit grew worse when Sayo and Hina made up and Sayo became more open with letting Hina spend time with her. Sayo noted with displeasure the shirt's length, or lack thereof, and the way it hung loosely on her frame. She looked at herself in the mirror and frowned, tugging at one end of the shirt so that her shoulder wasn't fully exposed, although her midriff still showed. As a member of her school's disciplinary committee, she was not happy with the look, and she hoped her visitors wouldn't mind. She pulled on a skirt, smoothed out the wrinkles, and exited her room, closing the door softly behind her.

Sayo drifted through the living room and opened the door. Sure enough, Yukina and Lisa were standing expectantly at her door. Like a pair of puppies, Sayo thought fondly, before she mentally scolded herself for comparing her two bandmates to cute little puppies. For one thing, they weren't anywhere near as innocent, and this Sayo knew from experience. Or at least Lisa wasn't, and usually she was the one who dragged her childhood friend into whatever ideas she had for their I-swear-Ako-it-was-extra-practice meetings.

“Welcome to my home, Minato-san, Imai-san. I apologise for my slovenly appearance.” Sayo held the door open for her bandmates and gestured for them to come in.

“No need to say sorry for something like that!” Lisa assured her. “Thanks for letting us come over, Sayo~” Lisa wasn't looking directly at her, though, and Sayo followed the path of her eyes and realized that they were trained on her exposed waist.

Sayo fixed her with a look. Lisa shrank away.

“So this is the Hikawa household, huh?” Lisa looked around as she took off her shoes. Yukina remained silent as she slipped her own shoes off. The pair surveyed the living room, taking in the details, since an invite from Sayo to her home was rare. Even when Lisa would hang out with Hina, Hina had never actually invited her over and the two of them either spent time at the mall or at Lisa's house, where she would apparently sometimes make Hina dinner. Come to think of it, Sayo realized, that may have been why Hina insisted on coming over to Lisa's place instead of the other way around.

Photos of the twins on birthdays and various other events were on display on the mantelpiece in the living room. At some point in her life, Sayo had worn her hair short with two small braids, just like her sister. Lisa snickered when she pointed that fact out to Sayo, earning another glare.

And as it was apt to do, Yukina's voice brought them back to focus. “Sayo, where exactly will we be studying?”

Sayo, who'd been setting Yukina's books on the coffee table, looked up, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear.

“Ah, we won't be in my room. My parents and Hina aren't home, so we can use the main family room. It will be more spacious that way.”

Yukina looked down. “I… see…”

Lisa glanced at Yukina and slung an arm around her best friend. “Aww, and here I was hoping we could get some privacy… wait, since no one's home we could still--”

“We are not doing anything close to the nature of what you are suggesting. This is a serious study session. Please restrain yourself, Imai-san.”

“Okay, okay! Just an idea~” Lisa stuck her tongue out, earning a frown from the other girl.

Sayo closed her eyes and sighed, hoping that the heat she felt in her cheeks wasn't too noticeable.

“A-anyway, I heard you're bad at math, Minato-san? And Imai-san is Imai-san, so…”

“Hey, now you're just being mean.” Lisa put her hands on her hips and pouted at Sayo.

Seeing her usually confident best friend being teased, Yukina stifled a giggle. “It is true, though. I wish everything came with sheet music; maybe I'd be able to understand it easier.”

“I know what you mean, Minato-san.” Sayo was gesturing for Yukina and Lisa to follow her to the couch.

Yukina sat on the rightmost side of the couch. Instead of sitting properly, with her hands folded in her lap, she snuggled into the corner, brought her legs up against her chest, and wrapped her arms around them. Both Sayo and Lisa noted with fondness that Yukina really could be like a cat sometimes.

“Sayo is a genius, though. Seriously, Sayo, I saw your grades. Hina brought a copy over the other day so she could gush over you. You really know your stuff, huh?” Lisa took a seat on the end of the couch furthest from Yukina, stretching her legs out across Sayo's lap.

Sayo blushed and looked away. “That… that was nothing… and that subject was really easy for me…” She swatted Lisa's legs away.

“You sound like Hina.”

“No, I'm just a diligent student. I don't let myself slip in anything, and you shouldn't either.”

“If you say so.”

Lisa grumbled and pinched one of the notebooks between her thumb and index finger, reluctantly lifting it off the table like it was a piece of trash someone had tried to throw into the nearest can and missed. “Anyway, so where are we gonna start? Honestly, I think Yukina needs more help than me.”

Yukina glared at her.

“Ahaha, okay, I think we both have our problem areas.”

Yukina's glare softened somewhat, but she was still clearly annoyed. She procured some sheets of paper with red markings and nudged them in Sayo's direction.

“Sayo's the teacher here. We'll let her decide. That way, it will also be more efficient. Sayo, judging from these tests, who do you think needs more help?”

Sayo looked at the tests, then looked at Yukina, then looked at the tests again. Yukina and Lisa watched her with interest.

“I… I can't make an accurate judgment of that, but I do know what we can work on first. Both of you, get your English notebooks out, please.”

At this rate, Sayo worried that they might never get to practice.

---

Sayo spent the next two hours drilling her bandmates on English, Japanese history, Japanese literature, and finally math. It went faster than expected, since for some reason Lisa and Yukina actually listened to her this time. It was as if they were in a hurry for something, though Sayo could only guess as to what it was. (She didn't want to think about that. Be professional, she told herself, over and over.)

After Sayo painstakingly reviewed the last of the formulas that would most likely be in Yukina's upcoming math exam, Lisa closed her book and took a moment to yawn. She flung out her arms in an exaggerated manner, mimicking a stretch. She just barely missed Sayo, who ducked just in time.

“I think it's time for a break. Don't you, Sayo?” She brought her arm down and scratched at Sayo's thigh, which caused Sayo to jump in her seat. Yukina, who'd been zoning out and curled up in her corner on the couch, sat up and took notice.

Sayo noticed the way Yukina and Lisa looked at each other just then. Was it just her, or did she catch a glint of mischief in Yukina's eyes? That was definitely not something that she usually saw from Yukina. Sayo pressed her hand to her own forehead. Maybe the studying was taking its toll on her after all.

“Anyway, fifteen minutes? Just fifteen minutes. We don't have that much time left until practice anyway, and there are other things I'd much rather do with you, Sayo.”

Sayo’s eyes widened. Lisa was being ridiculous on purpose to get them to this very point, and she fell for it.

“Wh… What do you think, Minato-san?” She looked to Yukina for help, though the vocalist merely hummed and uncrossed her legs.

“I think I've had enough of math.”

Sayo's eyes shifted from Yukina to Lisa as she kept her grip on the math notebook she'd been holding.

Lisa scooted closer and took one of Sayo's hands in her own. Sayo noted that Lisa had started manicuring her nails again, a habit which she stopped when she first joined Roselia. Sayo felt her face heat up again. At the same time, though, she felt something else--was it excitement after all?--and it stopped her from doing anything while Lisa walked her fingers around Sayo's waist.

Imai-san has nice nails, Sayo thought absentmindedly, although she couldn't pay attention to that for long, since said nails were traveling down her side, with Lisa drumming on her thigh. Lisa's fingers made their way down Sayo's leg and grazed her knee, leaving a prickling sensation where they'd left off.

Sayo turned her head towards Yukina, who either didn't notice what was going on or was simply ignoring it. Sayo later decided that it was the latter.

“Minato-san, your friend--” Sayo shivered as Lisa just barely touched the back of her knee and ran her hand down. “--Isn’t paying attention.”

“Aww, Sayooo. What's wrong?~” Lisa wasn't even trying to hide her intentions at this point, removing her hand from where it had been dancing along the back of Sayo's leg and placing it flat on Sayo's knee. Sayo jumped at the sensation. Warm. Lisa's hand was warm.

“I-Imai-san, s-stop fooling arou--” Sayo tried to turn her head to make eye contact with Lisa. Maybe she could stare her down. Bad move. Lisa's eyes, a darker shade of green than her own, were much bigger than she remembered them to be. Lisa had closed the distance between them at some point during the study session and now she was almost breathing down Sayo's neck. Sayo didn't remember Lisa being this close to her before, and she shut up before she could finish whatever she was trying to say before.

“Mmm. Yes, what is it, Sayo?” Lisa snaked her free hand around Sayo's right side and removed her other hand from Sayo's knee. Her touch left a fading pink impression from where it had heated up Sayo's skin, and Sayo hated the thought that she actually missed it. Lisa entwined her fingers together, wrapping her arms around Sayo's waist.

It was then that Yukina deigned to speak up. “Actually, Sayo, Lisa is right. This isn't music, so we can afford to take a break. In fact--” Yukina sat up on her knees and shuffled closer to Sayo. She put her arm around Sayo's shoulders. Sayo knew this move. It was a familiar one, one that Yukina often used in their live shows whenever she wanted to get the audience riled up. There was a different look in Yukina's eyes this time though, and for once the burning there wasn't for music.

Yukina pulled Sayo towards her and cupped her hand around Sayo's jaw, making sure that Sayo looked directly into her eyes. She drew in close, as if going for a kiss, but stopped short of Sayo's lips, just a hair's breadth away. Sayo felt that her heart was beating faster than it ever had before. Yukina's eyes were pools of gold, and she was drowning.

Yukina's request was simple. “Can I?”

Then, her golden eyes flickered to the girl behind Sayo, before she looked at Sayo again. “No. Can we?” She trailed her thumb across Sayo's cheek.

Sayo was suddenly hyper-aware of Lisa's hands again. She was still on Sayo's left side and had her arms wrapped around Sayo, but her right hand had left its place and was now rubbing small, soothing circles on Sayo's back. Sayo only hesitated for a moment before nodding quickly.

As soon as she did so, Yukina dove in and met her lips with full force. Now that Sayo had given permission, Lisa brought her right hand up again and pushed Sayo's hair, which had fallen over her shoulders, to the side, deliberately tangling her fingers in a bunch of messy turquoise locks and kissing Sayo's neck as soon as she spotted bare skin. Her kisses felt slightly sticky. Sayo briefly wondered what the color of Lisa's lipstick would look like with the tone of her own skin.

As Lisa continued her ministrations and Yukina pulled away, Sayo placed the notebook she'd been holding down on the table in front of them. The studying could wait. Yukina kissed her again, softer this time and Sayo relaxed into it. A small, bitter part of her thought that if this was what Yukina and Lisa did whenever they tried to study, it was no wonder that their grades were so awful. That thought left her mind, though, as soon as Lisa pulled Sayo's back to her chest and Yukina leaned over her.

Really, Sayo should have seen this coming. She kept learning new things about the members of Roselia. Like how Lisa was never to be trusted when the three of them were alone somewhere, or how Yukina gave in to Lisa's whims way too easily. But this time, she didn't mind.