“Are you sure about this?” Sayo sighed, hands massaging her temple. She then glanced to her side and quickly found Hina staring with her signature grin. Her younger sister nodded furiously in confirmation, but Sayo couldn’t deny that she still had doubts clouding her mind. All of that sounded too good to be true after all.
“Absolutely.” Hina chimed happily as she shifted on the stool, both of her arms resting on the top of the counter. “I handed Tsugu-chin our key myself after all!”
“You did what?!” The realization of Hina giving the key of this house to another person hit her fast like a truck on the highway. Yes, both of their parents unfortunately had to be away for a little bit longer due to their delayed flight, but that didn't mean Hina could do whatever she pleased with this goddamn of a house. Not when Sayo was in charge.
“Whoa whoa, relax sis. Tsugu-chin isn’t a stranger, she’s your girlfriend.” Hina laughed and Sayo’s face instantly turned into beet red in embarrassment. She wasn’t used on calling Tsugumi her girlfriend yet, let alone to hear other people saying it.
"Okay, that's fair." She groaned, unamused. "Tell me again about this assumption of yours—that she’ll…”
Oh, for christ’s sake! Sayo’s brows twitched, Hina had a big grin plastered on her face. Bright eyes burned its way through Sayo’s calmer gaze, a sight too blinding that she wished for the ground to just swallowed her whole. Hina was enjoying this for sure.
“She’ll—” Those words stuck on her throat, like a giant lump preventing anything to come out from her own voice box. She wasn’t used to this, never said those words even once and never thought about it also.
“Come on sis, she’ll what?” Hina’s grin got wider and wider and Sayo couldn’t bear it anymore. She looked down, fingers fiddling with each other as she muttered her words quietly.
“She’ll come to… surprise us... with a cake.”
Hina beamed, shooting right from where she had sat with her fist thrown in the air. Sayo, on the other hand, tried so hard to hide her blushing face with both of her hands, not wanting Hina to see her expression.
To be fair, Sayo never had a birthday surprise planned for her from her peers before on her whole fifteen years of life. Yes, her parents and Hina did it for her almost every year (Sayo felt bad since she’d never done it for Hina though, due to her issues), but it must feel different to received it from your friend – girlfriend – instead of your family.
She was actually bracing for their family ritual of blowing candles but their parents couldn’t be home in time for that this year and that’s so unfortunate. Though they already send her their apologies and Sayo didn’t want to fret about that.
“Yeah. For you.” Hina said, strolling to their fridge, looking for a drink while they wait. She glanced to the nearby clock, it was eleven, meaning that they still have an hour before Tsugumi would come hopefully with the cake.
“I mean like I brought up the idea of it since I know you’ll be lonely without our parents doing it for us this year.” She said nonchalantly, winking her way through Sayo’s gaze.
“Thought it might be boppin’ since you absolutely gonna get cranky if it’s only me doing it.”
That was true though as much as Sayo hated to admit it. The only people that ever think highly enough of her to throw her a birthday surprise were her own family. It was kind of sad but Sayo was used to being sad and lonely and pathetic, especially when compared to Hina.
“It’s kinda supposed to be a secret, you know what I mean?”
“Yes, but you somehow told me about it without any regret.”
“Well, I know you don’t want Tsugu-chin to see you on your scary groggy face, so I spilled the tea.” The younger twin chuckled, filling her glass with cold water and drank it straight.
“Can’t believe you really are dressed for this though.”
“Oh, shut up.” Sayo groaned again, though it wasn’t all wrong. When Hina told her that Tsugumi would be coming to the house, she panicked. Sayo went as further to wore her best shirt even for an event that supposed to take place right after she woke up.
Sayo watched closely as Hina walked back to the stool next to her, eyeing her with a curious gaze. She frowned, “What do you want?”
“Is it true?”
“That you’ve never had a birthday surprise before? Not even from Roselia?”
Ouch. That hurt slightly. Yeah, it’s true. What about it? Sayo bit her lips, she hated when Hina said things like this (technically it’s all the time but damn must it be now?). What did Hina mean by this anyway? Was she boasting?
Sayo had taken part in such an event before when Lisa gathered them up to do a birthday surprise for Ako. It’s a fond memory, Sayo thought. She’s the one baking the cake for her (with Lisa’s help of course), and Ako’s smile the moment she opened her cake box was so priceless.
The whole thing kind of made Sayo felt warm and much loved actually.
She didn’t mind holding a surprise party for anyone she’s close with, really. Especially when the timing was right and it didn’t interfere with the band or school work. But then again, maybe she too also wondered how was it like to be at the receiving end of this.
“Yes.” She answered the question finally, short and straightforward. “Yours didn’t count.”
“Aww, that ain’t boppin’!” Hina lamented, “Maybe I should text Lisacchi to do a birthday surprise for you tomorrow!”
“Don’t bother Imai-san like that!” She protested, “Besides, it’s not a surprise anymore if I, the victim, already know about it beforehand.”
“Well yeah, but you’re the type that hates these kinds of thing so we need precautions.” Hina reasoned, “We don’t want you to be angry, y’know.”
“I’m not always angry all the time.” She groaned, “Especially in front of others, and Tsugumi-san.”
“You are though, with me.”
“It’s exactly because it’s you.” Sayo sneered, Hina was starting to get on her nerve. She glanced at the clock, still forty-five minutes left before the designated hour. Hina went quiet for a moment before she muttered a small sorry.
“No—It’s fine. I shouldn’t have.” Sayo said, feeling rather bad about it. Old habits die hard they said, even though she had promised herself on trying to act more civil towards Hina. She was being a bad sister for her and she knew it, trying her best to change that for the better though.
She looked over her phone, checking for Tsugumi’s last message. Three hours ago, didn't mention anything about coming over. Probably she wanted to keep it as a secret since this whole thing was supposed to be a surprise.
“How about you though?” She said again, glancing towards her sister. Hina’s eyes were always so bright, so shiny in contrast to her own. Though looking closely at her almost felt like looking at Sayo’s own reflection on the mirror.
It’s just that it was the reflection that she hoped to be, her better other self.
“Someone ever throws you a birthday surprise before?”
What a dumb question. Of fucking course someone had done it, she’s Hikawa Hina for god’s sake!
A rising pop star with a bunch of adoring fans slash a student council president with a lot of caring friends. Sayo actually saw Hina having trouble carrying some boxes to her room yesterday, presumably some early presents from her fans or something.
“Yeah, from friends and people at the agency.” Hina said, “Already filmed my birthday special video as well.”
“Was it fun?”
“It’s basically just celebrating your birthday three times; a week early for a bunch of recordings, the actual day with you and my friends, and then one week later for my birthday live.”
“All of that and I still have to pretend that I’m shock and not expecting all of those. Kinda not boppin’ but also boppin’ at the same time.”
“Oh.” Sayo was slightly stunned, that’s actually quite a lot of parties (and a lot of cakes too). It brought mixed feelings to her chest, both jealousy and pity. She always envied Hina for being such a person yet all of those sounded so dull, at least judging from Hina’s tone.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love surprises.” Hina chuckled, her eyes still glimmering the same familiar light. “It’s just—it felt more like a job than a birthday.”
“Chisato-chan said it’s because that we are idols, so I should be thankful. And of course, I am, it makes my fans happy too so—”
“But really, having a party here with you, mom and dad, heck even with just Pastel*Palettes girls at, I don’t know, my house? Aya-chan’s house? Feels more meaningful.”
“I know they’re planning something for me since I accidentally read Aya-chan’s chat but that’s not the point—”
“Oh my god.” Sayo groaned, “Why are you like this?”
“Couldn’t help it! I’m curious!” Hina pouted, okay that’s fair. Sayo always knew Hina was weird, she shouldn’t be surprised when she pulled stunts like this.
“Anyway, you see, I never really had a boppin’ party despite all things. Our family party doesn’t count. And Pasupare’s too.”
“How about from Maruyama-san?” Sayo said again, “She is your girlfriend, right?”
“She’s doing it with the rest of the girls.” Hina chuckled, “Don’t worry about that.”
“So, only Tsugumi-san would be coming?”
“Unless she decided to bring the rest of Afterglow with her.”
“Oh, no, no, no. God, no.” Sayo said, slightly terrified. She didn’t want to be judged by Mitake Ran again especially on her birthday. Sayo let out a small sigh, technically they’re Tsugumi’s friends and she should respect that, but as embarrassing it was for her to admit, they’re kind of intimidating.
“Okay, come on. We’ll know in a few minutes.” Hina said again, pointing to the clock on the kitchen. Alright Sayo, calmed yourself down. It’s just probably Tsugumi with a cake, nothing else. Your parents and Hina did this almost every year and today wasn’t any different anyway.
“What should I say when I see Tsugumi-san coming in?” Sayo said nervously, unsure. She wanted to look perfect, to appear perfect. “How to act surprised?”
“What I learned from acting class, and Chisato-chan, is uh just open your mouth and gasp or something?" Hina mused, leaning closer and inspecting Sayo’s expression with a serious gaze.
“Like this gah! You did this for me?! I’m so happy! kind of thing.”
She acted it out, she just acted it out. Sayo wanted to die out of embarrassment, she’s supposed to do what? That?! It’s like the fakest surprised expression in the world and she didn’t know how Hina could get away with that on all three of her birthday celebrations.
“I can’t do that!” She groaned, “I’m not— I can’t act.”
“So do I but have you seen me on Pastel*Palettes’s summer— Oh, yeah you don’t.”
“It’s fine, I get it.” She chuckled, “Anyway, try it! I’m sure Tsugu-chin would still love you even when you suck at acting.”
Sayo groaned, just this once. And it’s all because Hina decided to bring the fact that she refused to watch any Pastel*Palettes content back to the table. She took a deep breath before copying Hina’s line.
“You did this for me?! I can’t believe it… I’m so touched and happy!!”
That was terrible, furthermore, she used a higher pitch than usual. She sounded like Hina and it felt really gross. Her younger twin on the other hand—
“HAHAHA… That’s funny.”
The audacity of this girl to laugh at her futile attempt in acting, the field she clearly was superior in. Well, to be fair Hina was always superior on any other field too. Sayo gave her a glare and Hina calmed down eventually, looking a little bit scared even.
“Whoops, so sorry.” She said, “Probably that’s a bad idea. You should just act like yourself, that’s probably better.”
“Oh!! She’s here!” Hina exclaimed, quickly getting back to her own position on the stool. Sayo gulped, oh Tsugumi’s here…
“I thought you’re gonna get that?” Her brows furrowed as she eyed Hina with a curious gaze. The girl didn’t move to open the door or anything after all.
“I told her to just use the key and come right in. She still pressed the bell though.” Hina chuckled, “What a polite girl.”
“She has her manners,” Sayo rolled her eyes, “Unlike you.”
“This is why she’s with you instead of me.” Hina grinned, earning herself a light smack from Sayo.
They both waited at the kitchen counter until they could see a small head bobbing from the corner of the hallway.
Tsugumi quickly entered her field of vision and Sayo couldn't help but blush slightly. It's now 12:10 am and Tsugumi looked so cute with that simple shirt of hers, wrapped with a light-yellow cardigan.
Sayo wondered if she could just skip the blowing candles part and just went straight to the hugging – kissing – Tsugumi part.
“We’ve been waiting.”
She somehow managed to say that in unison with Hina, much to her surprised. Though their expressions and tone were pretty much different; Sayo has hers lower and calmer and Hina has hers brighter and warmer.
Tsugumi looked at them confused for a second and then squealed in panic when she realized that Sayo was there too.
“H-Hina-senpai! I thought we’d agree to keep this a secret to Sa-Sayo-san!" Her hands moving up and down in an uncontrollable manner, almost like she had seen a ghost or something. Except that it wasn't a ghost, it was Sayo being awake, sitting on the kitchen.
“Sorry!” Hina mumbled, scratching the back of her head while she did so. “Don’t want big sis to get cranky on you so I told her.”
“Oh no, please don’t mind her words, Tsugumi-san. I would never get angry on you."
All three of them went quiet for a while before Sayo started to speak again, her tone went lower as her eyes dropped into the floor, refused to meet either Hina or Tsugumi on their eyes.
“I just— I feel… glad. I never really had people coming to my house with a cake before so… this is… kind of a lot to take in.”
Tears, hot tears. Goddammit, why now?! She was crying, embarrassingly crying in front of her sister and girlfriend. Maybe she was touched, a bit (a lot), by the thought of someone cared about her enough to come to her house with a cake.
“Excuse me, I’m—" Sayo said, wiping tears on her face pathetically with her hands. “—Not being myself right now.”
“It’s okay, Sayo-san.” Tsugumi came forward, setting the cake down on the top of the counter. She reached for Sayo’s cheek, thumbs brushing slightly against the softness of her skin.
“I’m happy to do this for you.”
“Sorry— Hina kind of ruined the surprise.”
“It’s alright, you still glad that I came, right?”
“That’s all that matters.” She said, voice soft like the whisper of an angel. “Happy birthday, Sayo-san.”
How could Tsugumi manage to exist in her life honestly? What kind of luck that Sayo possessed? She’s such an angel, Sayo actually felt bad being her girlfriend sometimes because she wasn’t that worthy. Maybe Afterglow was right to judge her all along.
The brunette hugged her next, warm and soft, made Sayo felt a lot of things at once. This surely sparked joy, she thought.
"You too," Tsugumi said, noticing that Hina was just standing on the corner now, watching them hug with slightly teary eyes. "Happy birthday, Hina-senpai.”
“No, I— Sis won’t like that so, it’s ok—”
“Do what Tsugumi-san said.”
“Wait?? Really? You meant it?? I’m not gonna get scolded later?”
“Yes, Hina. Just come here.”
“Yes! I love you sis! And Tsugu-chin too!! You guys are the best!” Hina leaped her way and it almost made them fell to the floor. Good thing that Sayo had a good posture and actually managed to sustained their weight and position in place.
“Careful, geez!” She groaned slightly, earning herself a small chuckle from both Tsugumi and Hina. The hug was warm and it made Sayo felt fuzzy inside. She was loved, it was a fact and something she needed to remember every time she ever felt lonely again.
“Actually, guys um—”
“What is it, Tsugu-chin?”
“There’s someone else here, I brought her with me—”
“Ooh ooh!!” Hina’s eyes lit up and Sayo instantly facepalmed herself. Afterglow members.
“Is it Moca-chan?? Ran-chan??” Hina beamed in excitement as she walked out from the kitchen, rushing her way through the hallway to get to the front door.
Sayo and Tsugumi followed suit until they all reached the end of the hallway, someone standing still with a bag of gift just by the front door. Oh.
“A-Aya-chan!” Hina called her out and the girl turned around, revealing herself in the dimness of the light, looking somewhat confused by the turned of events. She had the same expression as Tsugumi earlier, the realization that’s Hina was fully awake and well aware of this surprise plan.
“You’re here too?!” Hina exclaimed happily as her green gaze lit up, launching herself right into Aya’s embrace without much of a hesitation. “Aww, man! This is so boppin’!”
“Hi-Hina!! You’re not supposed to be awake…” Aya pouted slightly but she leaned in anyway, returning Hina’s hug almost instantly. She glanced a bit to Sayo and Tsugumi on the hallway, face immediately turning red as she did so.
"I can't believe you came!! Now, this is what I called a boppin’ surprise appearance!" Hina said again after she pulled away from the hug, eyeing Aya with her excited eyes.
“Tsugumi-chan kinda said that she wants to bring a cake over for Sayo-chan, so I figured that maybe I can uh tag along?” Aya said again, “Ma-Maybe you’ll like that… haha….”
“Anyway, happy birthday, Hina-chan. You too, Sayo-chan.”
Sayo gave her a small smile, Aya was nice, she wasn’t close to her but she knew that she’s not a bad person. Hina’s eyes lighted up the moment she heard the words though, just like a little kid.
“That’s boppin’! And now I really wanna kiss you because you’re being so zappin’ right now!”
“Whoops, maybe later we can make out at my bedroom though.” She chimed, dragging the already beet red Aya to the inside of her house.
“Oh, by the way, if you want to make out too with Tsuguchin, don’t mind us.”
“No, wait— Don’t say something indecent like that…” Okay, Sayo was probably even redder than Aya and her hair now. She glanced to her side and found Tsugumi looking away as well, out of embarrassment. Well, at least she’s glad she’s not the one finding all of that embarrassing.
“Anyway, it’s cake time!!!”
Sayo sighed at the sight of her sister dashing with her schoolmate to the kitchen, so eager to blow the candle almost like she couldn’t wait even a single second for it.
“Sayo-san… uh… let’s go in too?”
She smiled to herself as she took Tsugumi’s hand with hers, basking in on her very presence and the noisiness of her own home. The sound of Hina yelling and clapping on the kitchen suddenly didn’t sound like an annoyance to her ears, but it was rather the merriness that she wanted to feel. The festivities of spending (celebrating?) your birthday with your loved ones.
Hina was already on the counter wearing the paper hat that Aya prepared beforehand. The pinkette handed one to Sayo too and then asked her to wear it as well. Sayo frowned at first, wanting to refuse out of embarrassment. But Tsugumi insisted so she really couldn’t say no. The candle was then lit and Aya took on her position with a phone on hand, singing happy birthday merrily with the rest of them.
“Make a wish! Make a wish!” She exclaimed and Sayo exchanged glances with Hina. The younger twin grin at her with the widest grin that Sayo had ever witnessed. She then closed her eyes, taking a deep breath.
Oh, she’s going to say it out loud,
“For me to get along even more with big sis—” Eyes still close but her voice was warm and soothing, so familiar and gentle it almost made Sayo cried. She knew Hina was a good and kind girl despite everything, even when she was being an absolute asshole of a sister this whole fricking time.
“—For me and Aya-chan to get even more boppin’—”
“—For pasupare to get into kouhaku this year—”
“—May Tsugu-chin be my successor as the student council president—”
“Hina-chan, I think that’s a lot of wishes…”
“Whoops.” She chuckled, turning her head and finally opening her eyes. Bright colored orbs gazing through Sayo’s much calmer ones. “Anyway, I hope for the best for all of us here.”
“Happy birthday, sis. I’m so glad that you’re here with me today.”
Fuck. Sayo definitely going to bawl her eyes out of this. Would she ever have the courage to say that right into her sister’s face?
Tsugumi, being an absolute angel, shifted closer and somehow managed to hold her Sayo’s hand. Sayo smiled softly at her, everything that Tsugumi do always make her felt at ease.
“Your wish, Sayo-san?” She asked softly, so caring and gentle, the source of Sayo’s comfort. Sayo needed this, needed to come to terms with her sister and what a better way to do it other than to wish her good things on her birthday, right?
“I wish for— forgiveness.” She started slowly, voice low and calm. Hina and Aya looked at her with surprised eyes, something that Sayo had expected. Tsugumi, however, had her gaze unchanging, always still and so sure even when Sayo wasn’t feeling at her best.
“I know that I’ve been difficult with all of you, I tend to iced people out—” She said again, “—This applies to Roselia as well, but I just want to say that I’m sorry about that.”
“Especially for Hina, I— I’m sorry that I’m not the sister that you have in mind.” She continued. Hina was about to interrupt her but Aya prevented her to do so.
“I too hope that we can get along from now on, though I’m still struggling with much of my feelings towards you.”
“I’ve been getting the help that I need, so don’t worry about that.” She glanced briefly at Tsugumi who smiled back at her. Good, she’s on the right track.
“I wish for your happiness and the best for all of us too, that’s for sure.” Sayo smiled softly, “Happy birthday, Hina. I’m so glad that you’re born to this world as my twin.”
Sayo didn’t know how could she went through all of that in a single breath, almost crying. Aya already bawled her eyes out holding her phone though and she could see Tsugumi had her eyes slightly wet as well.
“Oh my god. Di-Did you hear that? Did you record this??” She turned her gaze to Aya, and then to Sayo, in disbelief.
“Did you mean it??”
“Okay, I didn’t expect that at all.” Hina chuckled slightly, hands wiping the tears from the corner of her eyes. Sayo simply stood still, this was kind of embarrassing but at the same time also liberating. She’s glad that she could be at least honest though.
“Do-Do you guys want to hug it out?” Aya suggested and Hina nodded quickly. Sayo was a little bit reluctant but she did it anyway. It was nice, she needed to get used to this.
"Thanks," Hina said again, whispering to her ear as they stayed for a while in such a comforting hug. “This is like the best birthday ever.”
“I’m glad then.”
Sayo smiled softly as they pulled away, “Let’s blow the candles?”
They did it with one single breath much to Sayo’s surprised. She glanced around to her surroundings, all the smiling faces of the people that cared about her. This was too, for her, the best birthday party ever.
Sayo’s eyes widened as she was rained down with confetti the moment she entered the studio, all of Roselia standing in front of her with a cheery face. Ako moved forward, holding a white cake with lighted candles on the top of it.
“Happy birthday, Sayo!” All four of them shouted in unison, singing her the familiar song right after.
Sayo bawled her eyes out in such an embarrassing crying fit but she didn’t care.
Roselia did throw a party for her after all.
“Happy birthday to me!!” Hina chimed, door forced open as she blasted herself to the agency’s practice room. She glanced quickly to her surroundings, decorations were hung on the mirror (Eve’s doing?) and a cake was present on the table. Chisato’s and Maya’s horrified eyes greeted her as Hina let out a small smirk, they were still trying to get the candles lit.
“Maruyama-san.” Chisato said with a low voice, sharp eyes glaring her way through Aya’s terrified ones. “How did she find out about our surprise plan?”
Hina let out a small laugh, Chisato sure was scary when she’s mad, huh.
“I’M SO SORRY CHISATO-CHAAAAAAN.”
Well, that’s something. Hina smiled regardless, at least all of the girls were here to celebrate her birthday and she definitely couldn’t wait to eat that cake!