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it all started at zero

Chapter Text

Everyone had a soulmate.

It was a given, it was predetermined, but not everyone on this Earth were blessed with meeting their Soulmate.

She stared at her wrist, staring at the numbers dancing on her skin.

She swore they were taunting her, those zeros glaringly obvious.

She knew some that met their soulmate early in life, Moca and Ran for example, but some were not so lucky. Say, her mother and father, both without their soulmate but they found love in one another.

She really didn't know what she wanted.

Himari and her had made a pact, that if neither were to meet their soulmate by age thirty, they'd stay together. Whether it was platonic or...

Well...something else.

Tomoe sighed as she walked up the steps of Haneoka Girls Academy, shifting her bag slightly and shuffling towards her locker. She was running a bit late, having to make sure Ako wasn't going to be late, and so she missed the walk with Tsugumi and the others. Thereby making herself late instead of her little sister.

But... 

She looked around the lockers, the girls all talking and laughing, and she still found it so weird being in high school now. At least she had Moca and the others in her class. Ran was once again separated from them, but they knew that she would fair better than she did in middle school.

Because if she decided to pull a stunt like that again, her and Moca both threatened to beat her over the head repeatedly. 

A friendly beating, mind you. Ran huffed at that when the two threatened her initially. Tsugumi and Himari only smiled. 

"To~mo~e~!" 

She stumbled back at the force of the hug, and she pried one arm out to ruffle the hair attached to her, "Aha, hey, Himari." 

"Tomoe! You didn't walk with us!" Himari pouted and Tomoe smiled and rubbed the back of her head, "Yeah, I know, my bad. Ako was running late-" 

"But it was our first day of high school!" Himari interrupted with her bottom lip protruding out, "Our only first day of high school walk!" 

"I'll walk with y'all everyday, Himari. I'm sorry I couldn't today though." She laughed though at the pout, "Oh, c'mon, it's not that bad." 

"But you weren't there to protect me from Moca!" 

"Moca will tease you regardless, whether or not I'm there." She pointed out. Himari huffed and crossed her arms, "Still!"

"KAORU-SENPAI~!"

Both girls jerked their heads backwards, Himari's head cocked and Tomoe's eyebrows quirked, "What...?" 

"Is it...?" Himari's eyes began to sparkle and Tomoe honestly began to worry for her mental state, "Uh, Himari?" 

"Is it the Seta Kaoru?!"

"The who now?" 

"Oh, come on Tomoe!" Himari hit her on the arm but Tomoe stayed perplexed. Who was this... Seta Kaoru? Some actress? Model? World-renowned surgeon that just randomly goes to this school? Her confusion stayed on her face and Himari pouted again and hit her harder. "Tomoe! It's Seta Kaoru. You know, the one in that Hamlet play a year ago that we all went to? The one with the purple hair?" 

"You mean the one you went too." Tomoe pointed out, "The one you dragged Tsugu to." 

Himari cocked her head, "You didn't go...?" Upon receiving the confused look still in the taller girls eyes, Himari just shook her head with a wave of her hand, "Nevermind that. She. Was. Amazing. Like, amazing amazing-" 

"Great use of words there, Himari." 

"Shut up! Anyway, she has this... I don't know... presence about her that is so..." Himari squealed, "Amazing! She's the ultimate prince! With the nicest and smoothest personality I've ever seen! And she is so beautiful! Like, amazing purple hair and just these warm and sparkling crimson eyes! Just... AH! Everyone loves her! I'm surprised you don't know who she is." 

"I guess that's cause I never bothered with that stuff." Tomoe shrugged, putting on her slippers and ignoring the amount of chatter coming from outside. She set her shoes in her locker, "You know, that popularity-type stuff." 

"And that's why you just don't know how many heads turn when you walk by." The redhead shot her an incredulous look before laughing it off, "Ahaha, you sound like Moca." 

"Oh, come on, Tomoe! You seriously don't know how popular you were in middle school?" 

"Nope." She re-situated her school bag, "I was just nice to everyone, and they were nice to me. It was no big deal." 

"No big-! Tomoe, I can't even count on my fingers the amount of girls that had a crush on you. Like, especially when you had your growth spurt and grew your hair out-" 

"My 'growth spurt' was not that much-" Tomoe tried to interject but Himari glared, "I was the tallest in our group, Tomoe. That says something." 

Tomoe blushed. Himari continued, "Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Kaoru-senpai is just so cool. I wish I could be as cool as her and be her soulmate."

The redhead just leaned against the lockers as Himari kept going, "I mean, how amazing would it be if I were her soulmate? It would be like out of a romance novel, where the prince comes and sweeps me off my feet-" 

"That would be something, huh?" 

"And then we would live happily ever after in a large mansion-" 

"Oh~ Is Hii-chan is getting all hot and bothered again~?" 

"...! MOCA!" Himari screeched and whipped around to the lazy grin, Ran a couple of steps behind with her arms crossed. Both Ran and Tomoe rolled their eyes. Tsugumi walks up with her purity practically radiating off of her. Especially when she cocked her head with wide eyes, "Is everything okay? I heard yelling." 

"I said Hii-chan-"

"Nothing!" Ran smacked her hand over Moca's mouth, the girl glaring at the blinking grey eyes, "You will not, Moca, I repeat, will not destroy Tsugumi's precious purity." 

Tsugumi only blinked and Moca brought her hand up in a lazy salute, Ran immediately jerking her hand back with a disgusted look on her face. "Moca, did you just lick me?!"

"Wouldn't be the fir-" 

"Okayyy, Moca, that's enough out of you." Tomoe dragged the girl away from their precious keyboardist (and possibly saving her from her soulmate's wrath). Himari was ignoring them all in exchange for the girl walking across the courtyard, a gaggle of girls in tow. She squealed, "There she is! In the flesh! OhmygodOhmygod I could faint!"

"Who? Seta-senpai?" Tsugumi stayed beside the lockers by Ran, watching Himari about die and go to heaven. Himari whipped her head around to her friend, "You know her?" 

"I mean, kinda?" When Himari's gaze wouldn't leave Tsugumi clarified, "I mean, I met her at that play you made me go to, and Student Council let me sit in on one of their meetings with the other clubs. Seta-senpai was the one representing the Drama Club." 

The gaggle of girls were getting closer, Tomoe barely seeing purple hair above the crowd. Seriously, how could anyone stand having that many people surrounding them on a daily basis? Tomoe would get claustrophobic.

But as the group passed, Himari beginning to follow along with the group's antics, Tomoe made eye contact with this... Seta Kaoru? Himari was right. She was pretty, or morely handsome, with her angular features and tall physique. She was even taller than Tomoe, and that was surprising for her considering the only people taller than her usually were men. 

Her eyes were actually really pretty too. Crimson, like Himari described, and they reminded her of Ako's. Warm and inviting with that hint of an outgoing personality shining through. Hell honestly with those eyes and that long purple hair, this Seta Kaoru could pass off more as Ako's sibling than Tomoe herself. 

That was weird. 

The girl smiled, a small yet charming one, and she walked through the gaggle of girls to appear to the group of them. Tomoe couldn't help but feel uncomfortable under that gaze. 

"Oh? Some of the new first years? Allow me to welcome you to Haneoka Academy. My name is Seta Kaoru, and if you are ever in need of assistance, dear kittens, please, do not hesitate to call upon me!" 

Her speech is weird. Tomoe kept her arms crossed against the lockers, Himari about dying as this Kaoru set a kiss on her hand. Like seriously, kittens? Who calls people kittens?

"Ah, what a momentous day! How fleeting!" Kaoru exclaimed as she smiled at them all, "Such wonderful kittens gracing our presence! Ah, I could only dream!" 

Fleeting...? Himari was having the time of her damn life, and she was fairly certain that the girl was never going to wash her hand. Kaoru kissed Tsugumi's hand, to which was responded with a kind smile that was totally Tsugu, and she was going to approach the couple but Ran's glare kinda turned her away. Moca was only grinning wildly, mainly at Himari's expense. That left only her. 

Oh boy. 

Crimson eyes settled on her, a smile (was it softer? Tomoe was probably hallucinating and dreaming things) and Kaoru grasped her hand and set a kiss on it. Tomoe, with all her might, kept her cool and her face steady with a small, polite smile before tucking her hand back in the crook of her arm. 

"May I know your names?" 

The bell rang at that time and Kaoru sighed. 

"Ah, alas, our time is cut short. I shall see you kittens again around these wandering halls. Until then, I bid you adieu~" 

The girl left, with that crowd of girls, and their little group just stared on.

"That was..." Tomoe started only for Ran to finish, "Fucking weird."

She nodded in agreement. 

Himari only gave an almost insulted gasp, her hand clutching her chest, "Weird? Weird?! That was one of the most authentic and beautiful things I have ever witnessed! I mean, did you hear her?! She sounded so... so..."

"Sophisticated?" Tsugumi chimed in, Himari nodding vigorously. "Yeah, that!"

"I dunno Himari." Tomoe still had her arms crossed, something about that encounter left her feeling weird, and she didn't like it. "I'm kinda more with Ran on this one."

"To~mo~e~! Why are you betraying meeee?"

"Betraying?! H-Hold on now..." Tomoe held her hands up in mock defense, hers and Himari's eyes both shining playfully, but the bassist's eyes soon changed to one of silenced shock.

Better yet, Tsugumi, Ran, and Moca were all looking the same. Tomoe quirked her eyebrows, honestly confused. What did she say? "...was it something I said? Or do I have something in my teeth? I mean, I did have to brush them fast this mor-"

She was cut off as Himari yanked down her right hand, forcing it to face palm up and she thrusted a finger towards it, "Tomoe, look!"

Cerulean eyes tilted down to the finger, and her eyes began to widen as she looked at what Himari was pointing too.

Her counter. It... it wasn't on zero any more.

She watched as it kept going up, different numbers kept blinking at her in the rhythm of her fast heart beat. 

1:46, 1:47.

She had met her soulmate almost 2 minutes ago.

But who was it? There were tons of girls that she made eye contact with. A lot of them accumulating around the time that one girl walked in.

That girl with the crimson eyes.

Could it...? Pfft. No of course not. I mean, it would be weird, wouldn't it? Being soulmates with the one your bestfriend was just fantasizing being soulmates with. 

It would also be breaking serious girl code, and Tomoe just wasn't about that.

But who...

She looked at all the girls walking down the halls away from the lockers they stood at.

Who was her soulmate?

Chapter Text

2 : 1 : 4 : 5 : 12

It's been essentially two months since her counter had started. Although, so many things had happened on that momentous day that Seta Kaoru had little time to dwindle on the digits lain on her wrist. Yet later that same day, when she was sitting in class and glancing down to the zeros always present on her arm, she did not see what she had been expecting. 

No, alas it was 4 : 36.

She had seen her soulmate merely four hours ago. Yet she had nought a clue who the fair maiden could be. Her mind whirled throughout their English lesson, her dear friend Hina was answering about every question without abandon, so she was not fearful of being caught daydreaming, thinking, but she knew that others realized. Yet none said a word, as they knew that their timer did not correlate with hers. No one that she had seen had the matching numbers atop their wrist, and even though she was desperately searching for her destined one, they were hiding amongst the shadows. 

Now two months had passed with not a clue or a hint. Her friend who happened to sit beside her in this class, the dear maiden Lisa, had said maybe it was someone not from this school, yet she remembers those numbers that danced across her skin. It had happened moments prior to the first bells ringing, so she knew it was someone that walked the same halls as she. She was certain of it. 

"Hmmm... how about this, Kaoru-kun!" Hina's eyes were brimming with excitement, just the thought of potentially helping her friend out just made her radiate with positivity, "Make an announcement!" 

Kaoru's head tilted to the side as she thought it through. "Announcement?" 

"Mhm!" Hina nodded enthusiastically, "You stand out tons, and you say all those weird words that make people look at you, so if you announce that you are looking for your soulmate with your numbers, you're bound to get something!" 

"Aha, Hina, maybe that isn't-" Lisa tried to interject but Kaoru pounded her fist into her palm, "Ah, what a brilliant idea, Hina! I would not expect anything less of you, my dear kitten!" 

Hina bounced in their seat, Lisa scrunching her eyebrows at the thought, "But when would you be able to, Kaoru? I mean, your play isn't until next week. And even with your friends looking they haven't found anything worth noting." 

"Then I must think of some other way to lure my destined one to be out of their shadows!" Kaoru exclaimed, "I will stay true to Hina's suggestion, shout it from the rooftops if I must! I will find my fair maiden, Lisa!" 

"OH! Maybe you can!" 

Lisa turned to the blue-nette, their green eyes shining even brighter, "Hina?" 

"Do it on the rooftop!" 

Lisa's eyes almost bugged out of her skull, "H-Hina, maybe she shouldn't-" 

"Think about it, Kaoru-kun!" Hina grasped the taller girls hands and began to shake them in her excitement. Lisa had to lean backwards, "You can use one of those loud speaker things-" 

"Megaphone." Lisa interjected, although she knew Hina actually knew, but she just liked to say it that way for some reason. It was sometimes hard to keep up with Hina's thoughts and mannerisms.

"Yeah! Megaphone! And shout it up on the rooftop after school so everyone is bound to hear! It's gonna be soooooo boppin!" 

"Hina!" Lisa tugged the girl's skirt to make her sit back down, "She could get in trouble-" 

"I'm student council president, remember?" Hina's bright eyes were non-deterred, "And I command you to make the announcement there!" 

"Hina, I don't think you can command her-" Lisa tried to speak up but the girl was still rambling, "You have full permission from Student Council. And you can borrow Tsugu-chan's megaphone!" 

Lisa gave up, sitting back to watch Kaoru's mind process the fast words that came out of the small girl. Her red eyes slowly began to brighten, "What a marvelous idea! Ah, how fleeting it would be, my time has come to meet my chosen one! It's a sign from the gods, it must be!" 

"Er..." The brunette sighed and just listened to the two discuss their plan. Maybe it will turn out for the better. She watched Kaoru's eyes and how they were brighter than they had been these past two weeks, Hopefully she will find her like I found mine. 

Staring at her wrist, looking at those numbers emboldened in a deep blue, almost purple, she knew how excited and content she was when she met her. Both their eyes widening as their respective numbers stopped and turned different colors. It was honestly relieving, finding Yukina so soon in life, because she knew if she were in like Kaoru's or Hina's case, she would be continuously staring at her wrist in hopes of finding her soulmate. She was extremely lucky. 

And Kaoru had seen hers. She was one step ahead of many others on this Earth, and Lisa knew she'd find her eventually. 

Just she wished that the two in front of her wouldn't include her in this plan. She was always more of the supportive and in the background kind of friend, but knowing these two she wouldn't be able to do such a thing. 

So she resigned to her fate before it was even brought up. She knew these two too well for her own good honestly.

***

2 : 1 : 4 : 6 : 20

Tomoe purposefully did not look at her wrist. Refused to begin the all out search for her destined to be. It was tough, trying to determine who her soulmate was, and with all of the other things going on in her life; school, dance, Afterglow, the Taiko drums, Ako...

It was hard to really find the time to even think about finding them. Himari though... 

"Udagawa Tomoe! If you do not try and find your soulmate, rest assured, I will smack you into next year!"

It's funny how Himari was so much more invested in Tomoe's love life than Tomoe herself, and yet even with the empty threats Himari threw at her, she couldn't find it in herself to try and look.

She didn't really even know why she didn't want too.

But she didn't think about it, wouldn't, so she went on with her life. School, dance, Afterglow, the Taiko Drums, Ako...

Until that was all she did for 2 months. 

She crossed the courtyard, bag secure on her shoulder, and tried to block out the stares she was recieving. Tried to block out the letters that were being snuck into her locker. Tried to block out Himari and her hellbent mission to find her soulmate. 

But the weirdest thing happened. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end as she noticed a large crowd off to the right of the courtyard. What...?

"Helllooooo! Can everyone hear me??"

Tomoe directed her gaze to the rooftop where she and her friends usually ate lunch to find three small figures standing against the railing. 

The one in the center, she believed was the student council president, was the one with the megaphone yelling out to the crowd below.

The one off to the left was trying to slink their way backwards, as if not wanting to be apart of this spectacle, and if she didn't know any better it was... 

"Lisa-san...?!"

It was true, her elder she had recently become friends with in Dance club was standing up there with the other two girls. Tomoe scrunched her brows together. Now that's a little weird.

Then she looked to the right of the president. If she didn't know any better they seemed terrified being that close to the edge. Better yet, they look vaguely familiar...

"Ohhhh. Tomo-chin coming to watch the spectacle too, huh~?"

The redhead about jumped ten feet into the air, whirling to see her friend's smug and lazy grin etched onto her face. Tomoe quirked her eyebrows. She was honestly very confused at the moment, "Spectacle? What's going on?"

"I dunno." Moca shrugged, "But I kinda wanna see what's about to happen. Maybe it's something juicy~..." Moca snickered. "Hii-chan is gonna be so upset. Having to miss this for Tennis. I'm gonna tease her soooo much~"

"Tease her? Why would-" She then noticed why that figure to the right seemed familiar. "Oh..."

It was Seta-senpai. 

"C'mon Tomo-chin." Moca grabbed her wrist and dragged her closer to the crowd, "We gotta stand with Ran, you know~"

"Why is Ran here? This is like the last thing she'd want to take part in."

"Cause Tsugu is up there too." Moca pointed to the head of brown hair behind the three. Huh. "We gotta be supportive of our little Tsugu, don't we?" 

"She's not even in front with them, Moca." Tomoe interjected, just wanting to go home to Ako and practice her drums. She really didn't want to stand in a crowd and watch their 'Prince of Haneoka' about faint from being too close to the edge. Tomoe almost felt bad for her. 

Moca though continued to drag her through the crowd until Tomoe could see a head of black hair off to the side. Ran looked exactly how Tomoe thought she'd look; put out and upset. Tomoe couldn't help the chuckle and Ran rolled her eyes, "Moca dragged you here too, huh?"

"Of course." Tomoe responded immediately. Ran huffed, "Can they just get this over with?"

"Shhhhh." Moca set a finger on Ran's mouth, "Don't ruin the Tsugurificness babe."

Ran smacked the hand away with a blush, "Moca! Do not call me that out in public-"

"Oh~? What, would you rather me call you baby? I know how much you-"

"MOCA!!"

"Shhhhhh!" The girls to the right all said in unison. Tomoe waved at them, "Our bad!"

Ran was about to choke her girlfriend, Tomoe could see it in her eyes, but Moca was too busy staring up at the rooftop, "Oh~ Hina-senpai is about to say something~ Hm?" Moca's eyes veered, "Oh! OI! LISA-SAAAN! HIIII~!"

"Moca." Ran hissed as the girls glared again. Tomoe huffed a laugh, especially when Lisa jumped at the yell and waved lightly down at Moca from above with a small smile on her face. 

"I have congregated most of our student body for a special announcement!" Hina began to yell through the megaphone. Tomoe crossed her arms. What would be so important that they had to literally shout from the rooftops?

"As most of you ladies know, our precious Kaoru-kun's timer is not at zero any more! Which means she's found her soulmate!"

"Seta-senpai's soulmate timer went off?" Tomoe looked over to her two friends, "Since when?"

Moca shrugged. Ran wasn't even paying attention.

Multiple girls began to cry out as they realized their timer was still at zero. Tomoe cringed. That must not feel that good. 

"We know it's someone here at this school! So Kaoru-kun will now speak to try and find her! Ahhhhh this is so boppin!!!" 

Tomoe watched as Lisa dragged Hina backwards, most likely to berate her for actually screaming into the megaphone. Kaoru, pale as a ghost, took the megaphone from Lisa's hands. She watched as Kaoru composed herself before speaking. 

"Well, hello my kittens~! Such a fleeting day, is it not?"

Multiple girls squealed in agreement. Again. Tomoe averted her gaze, How can she stand having so many people adore her and surround her all of the time? I'd feel so... self conscious? Shy? Tomoe shook the thoughts away.

"Our precious Hina spoke true, I have indeed been blessed in recieving the wondrous news that my soulmate does walk these halls!" 

It's like that fear she had was gone. Tomoe looked up at the girl, looking as majestic as usual, She really is a marvelous actor afterall.

"If you are out there, my dear maiden, please I implore you to seek me out! I am wandering aimlessly as of now and wish to find the light I know resides in one of you beautiful kittens!"

More squeals. Ran scoffed. Moca shushed her.

"Now I shall read aloud my numbers, and if you are identical to myself, please I implore to come and seek me out. I do very wish to find the one I know will steal my heart!" 

Her heart began to beat louder for some reason. Tomoe kept her composure, unlike the gaggle of girls beside her, and tightened the cross of her arms as Kaoru began to speak once more. 

"Here we are, my lovely kittens! For my numbers read..."

"2."

Two months. Beginning of school? So she was in the same boat as Tomoe, huh? She knew Kaoru and herself weren't the only ones who's timers started that day. A few others did and she overheard them talking about it in the halls.

"1."

Makes sense. Could be anyone in the crowd if their timers were going.

"4."

Yet Tomoe's heart beat louder in her chest. It was almost irritating, the loud thump in her heart she swore she could feel in her ears.

"11."

Girls began to groan as theirs weren't the same. Ran rolled her eyes, "I swear this is like someone realizing they lost the lottery."

"Shuuuush Ran." Moca stared intently at the figure above, "I wanna know."

"Know what Moca."

Moca didn't answer. Only stared where she had been staring this whole time.

"52."

"Well, then~" Moca turned to look in the crowd, "Let's see who the lucky lucky winner is~" She looked over at Tomoe, who looked like she had seen a ghost. Moca poked her cheek, "Tomo-chiiiiiin~? Are you okay? You look like Hii-chan when she saw the pigeon yesterday~"

"I..." Tomoe didn't dare speak. Her throat closed up, and she stared at her wrist as Hina wrenched the megaphone from Kaoru whilst holding the purple-haired girl's wrist towards her.

"60, 1, 2, 3, 4..."

Hers... hers was...

Moca peeked around Tomoe's arm to look at her wrist the girl was sneaking glances at. Her eyes widened, "Ohhhhhhhh. Ran~ come here!"

"What is- Oh." Ran needn't finish her sentence. Because it didn't need explanation.

Not when Tomoe's counter stopped and began to be painted with a vibrant neon purple. The drummer jerked her hand back before anyone else saw.

"I- I gotta go."

"Tomo-chin!" Moca yelled but the girl was already leaving and shuffling out the front gates. Moca pouted, "Why did she leave, Ran~? Isn't this a good thing?"

"Honestly, Moca?" Ran sighed and crossed her arms, "I'm not sure."

Moca looked at her girlfriend, "Why, Ran~?"

Ran watched her friend's red hair disappear down the street.

"Because she knows Himari will be heartbroken."

 

Kaoru watched all the girls down below with hawk-like accuracy. Of course there could have been a more suitable way to find her lover, but to be completely honest with herself...

She just had to know... had to know who was her destined soulmate. 

She was almost about to give up hope, until one girl off to the right caught her attention. She stayed staring downwards, Kaoru knowing she was watching her wrist. And her white-haired friend peeked before glancing backwards and waving her other friend over. The girl jerked back before rushing off.

How strange...

The girl looked back once, at her, and those blue eyes pierced her soul and she knew right then and there...

That this girl with the brilliant red hair was most likely her soulmate.

"WOAH! Kaoru-kun it stopped! Your counter stopped!!"

Kaoru stayed watching that hair flow in the gentle wind as she walked away from the school. Why was she leaving? Shouldn't she be rejoicing? Coming to her so they can be with one another?

"Woah, such a boppin red too!"

She need not even look to know that it matched the color of her hair. Of the girl running away from her.

Her soulmate.

Now to find her once more and approach her. Yet as the girl disappeared, Kaoru could not help but feel her heart clench.

Can soulmates not want anything to do with their respective other? She wasn't for certain, but she did know something was troubling her maiden that brought the Prince out into the light. But as she battled with her thoughts, she could not help the main thought that stayed constant.

She must speak to her.

So she bid everyone adieu and began to run. Run down the stairs, down the halls, and out the front doors. She barrelled past everyone as she continued her search for that brilliant red hair. 

Yet as she turned the corner she could not see her. Kaoru sighed. My, this was not turning out as she hoped.

But she stared down at her wrist, the red almost glowing with those numbers that stay stationary on her skin, she knew that she would find her eventually again. 

So she will wait until tomorrow. Or the next day. Whenever that girl with the red hair was ready. 

She will be there. Waiting.

Chapter Text

She was unsure how long it had been since that day.

Day blended together, and with this new girl that galavanted into the school asking her to help make the world smile, Kaoru thought maybe this could rid her of the thoughts that plagued her every second of the day.

She hadn't the heart to tell her band that her motives were leaning more towards the selfish side.

Yet she did want to help put smiles on her many adoring kittens, but what she most wanted was to make that one girl smile.

She wanted, more out of all the smiles and happiness, to make that one girl hers. Yet that one girl with the brilliant red hair and sparkling blue eyes wanted little to do with her.

It was challenging, keeping this facade up. Keeping this mask that showed all the world that nothing was wrong. That her heart did not feel as if it were out of her chest and thrown away into the depths of the shadows.

Every time she had attempted to approach the girl with the long red hair, she was left in the dust. Juked. The girl with the red hair always found a way to run away without speaking one word to her destined. 

"K-Kaoru-san...?" The girl jumped out of her thoughts to see one of her bandmates looking at her. There was worry hidden in those purple orbs, and Kaoru felt guilt creep throughout her, having someone worry for her like this. 

"Ah, Kanon. My deepest apologies. What is it, my kitten?"

Kanon blushed, morely out of embarrassment than anything, but she stuttered, "U-Um... Kokoro-chan wants to go p-perform out by the s-station. T-that is if everyone is o-okay with it, of course."

Misaki glowered, clearly not okay with it. Yet Kaoru sees that it was merely a facade, knowing that the brunette would follow her highly energetic soulmate wherever she may go. Such a fleeting thing, having time to spend with your soulmate. If only hers was the same as these two in front of her. 

Kanon's own pale yellow timer peeked from the sweater she wore, the air conditioning in the mansion just a little chilly for the drummer, and Kaoru only put that mask on yet again so as to not worry her little kittens. 

She kept her own timer painted crimson tucked away in her button up sleeve. 

"Ah, what a most fleeting idea! Marvelous! As Shakespeare once said, 'If music is the food of love, then play on.'"

Misaki and Kanon only blinked before the brunette sighed, "Hai, hai. Let's just go and meet up with the two dumbies before they do something."

The three began their walk down to the station, both Kaoru and Misaki having to pull Kanon back so as to make sure she doesn't accidentally go the wrong way, and they began to see the familiar blonde and orange hair bobbing up and down the station. 

Kaoru heard Misaki sigh. 

"MISAKIIII!" Kokoro plowed into the first year, her eyes brimming with excitement, "C'mon! We have to make the world smile~!"

"Hai, hai. I know, I know." She let herself be dragged away by her soulmate, Hagumi bouncing around the two with just as much excitement as the blonde. Kanon and Kaoru hung back, the shorter one looking up with that worry still in her eyes.

"A-Are you okay... Kaoru-san?"

Kaoru blinked and looked down at the other girl, "Why, of course I am okay!" Was she really that obvious? "What would make you think such a thing, my kitten?"

Kanon fidgeted, "W-well normally you would g-go join Kokoro-chan and Hagumi-chan at this point... b-but... "

I am not... Kaoru stayed looking down at the head of blue hair, Such a perceptive little thing, this one.

"You needn't worry yourself, little one. I will be fine." 

"S-so something is wrong...? I-It always helps to t-talk to somebody. I-If you want to, that is..."

"You are most kind." Kaoru was speaking the truth. This little one was most kind in her gestures and mannerisms, and she was most glad that her dear Chisato found her soulmate in one so earnest and humble. Yet she did not want to worry others with her plagues, but seeing those purple eyes with that worry still present, she had to alleviate those worries. And the only way was to tell her the truth. 

"Well, if you must know." Kaoru unbuttoned her sleeve, pulling up the white fabric so Kanon could see. Kanon's eyes widened, "Oh! That's good, Kaoru-san! I'm happy for you!"

"Why thank you, my dear. Alas, I am afraid it is not that easy, though."

Kanon cocked her head. Kokoro and Hagumi shouting in the distance. "What do you mean..?" 

"I mean..." Kaoru buttoned her sleeve back, "My destined soulmate wants little to do with me, sadly."

People walked by, Kanon's eyes widened a tad, "What do you mean...?"

"When we both had realized that we were each other's destined ones to be... she..." Blue eyes looked back at her, red hair in the wind, "She ran away."

"Oh no..."

"I have tried confronting her on this matter. Maybe just to inquire as to why she is avoiding me as of late. But alas, it was no use." Kaoru sighed, "She is very good at evading me, I suppose."

"..." Kanon looked back towards Misaki and Kokoro, Misaki hovering near her as the two energetic twins bounced around and began to set up their mini stage. 

"Was Chisato this way?" 

Kanon looked back to the brooding girl, her eyes stayed staring at her clothed wrist, "Did she run off at any point?"

"N-no. She didn't." Kanon smiled at the memory of the two realizing they were each others soulmates. "I-If anything, I was the one thinking of running away."

"Oh?" Kaoru didn't expect that, "Why so, my dear kitten?"

"I-" Kanon fidgeted and tugged at her nonexistent sweater, forgetting that she took it off prior to leaving the mansion. "I didn't feel... like I deserved her I guess... she is... an actress, p-pretty, kind, p-popular...I didn't think she should have s-someone like me..." 

Is this how mine thinks...? Kaoru shook her head, No, she's seen the girls surrounding her. The modesty and humbleness exuding out of the blue-eyed goddess. That cannot be the reason behind her constant running away.

"Chisato-chan was quick to t-tell me otherwise though." Kanon smiled, "M-Maybe she has her reasons, your soulmate, b-but I know she will come around eventually. I did."

"You are most kind, Kanon." Kaoru smiled, "I shall take your advise to heart." 

"MINNAAAAA!!!" 

The two looked over to Kokoro who was waving her hands at them, Misaki trying to stop her but failing, "COME ON! LETS PLAY A SONG~!"

"Well, let us not leave our dear vocalist hanging, hm?" Kaoru briskly began to walk to the group, Kanon trialing behind.

As they performed, they didn't realize that there was a certain girl coming to ask them to perform at a live show at a certain studio they frequented. 

Kaoru also didn't know just how quick it would be that she would see her soulmate again.

******

She hated this. 

Hated it, hated it, hated it.

Her drumstick slipped. She cursed.

"Tomoe. You were too slow again." Ran glanced backwards to the drummer, knowing exactly why the drummer was acting the way she was. She feigned ignorance though.

"Ah, gomen, gomen." The redhead laughed and rubbed the back of her head, wristband snug around her wrist, "Then let's do it again from the top, ne?" 

Himari stared at her best-friend, analyzing her, something really only Himari could do. Himari then turned to the rest of the band, "Let's take a 10 minute break, ne?" 

Tomoe sighed and grabbed the water bottle beside her. Ever since that day she really couldn't stop thinking about it. About the neon purple tattooed onto her skin, about that purple haired girl with the red eyes, about Himari loving said purple haired girl with the red eyes. 

She took a big gulp. Big green eyes appeared in front of her. She began to choke on her water.

"H-Himari..!" Tomoe began to cough, water forgotten beside her, "Don't sneak up on me like that!" 

"......" Himari only stared at her, eyes narrowed, and Tomoe hated that look. It was the look that Himari knew something was wrong, and that she was going to get it out of Tomoe one way or another. 

"You're hiding something." 

Tomoe's eyes widened. She laughed nervously and rubbed the back of her neck, "W-What? Ahah Himari, quit joking around. Nothing's the matter-" 

"Then why is this-" Himari jerked Tomoe's wrist towards her. Tomoe began to shout as Himari jerked it upwards, yanking the wristband off. "Hidden?" 

"H-Himari...!" 

"Did you really not think I knew?" Himari's eyes were still narrowed, disappointed. Tomoe shrunk, "Tomoe, it's safe to say I know you best out of the group. So why did you think you could hide this from me? You aren't the best liar, ya know." 

"I- It's just-" Himari leaned closer. Tomoe almost fell out of her stool, "I was afraid of how everyone-" 

"BZZZZT!" Himari flicked her in the forehead, the redhead yelping at the sudden sting, "Strike one. Two more strikes to tell me the truth." 

"Himari, I am telling you-!" 

"Don't make me yell strike two." 

Tomoe only glared at the girl looming over her. Only Himari could make her feel 5 feet shorter when she was mad. Or when she really wanted to get something out of someone.

...

Tomoe was not one to really hash out her feelings. She would internalize her feelings, as bad as it is, and take it out on her Taiko Drums or Afterglow practice. She really was afraid of how everyone would react. Not necessarily that she had a soulmate...

But honestly it was who she was soulmates with.

"I..." Tomoe sighed, "Can I get some fresh air, at least? You're making me suffocate, ya know." 

"Then I'm going with you." Himari yanked the girl out of her stool, "C'mon! I can pay and schedule our next practice anyway." 

She wasn't getting away, she knew that. Ran, Moca, and Tsugumi all just watched as the pink-haired girl dragged the tall drummer out of the studio and into the lobby. 

"You think she'll actually fess up~?" Moca munched on her bread. Ran shrugged, "Probably. Himari's about the only one who can get anything outta her." 

"I hope Tomoe-chan will be okay." Tsugumi pouted, "I don't like seeing her down like this." 

"She'll be fiiiiine, Tsugu!" Moca grinned through a mouthful of bread, "She'll go to her prince eventually~!" 

"Let's hope sooner rather than later." Ran took a sip of her water, "She's constantly messing up in rehearsal. It's annoying." 

"Aw~ Ran's actually worried about our little Tomo-chin~" 

"Moca! I did not say-" 

"It's okay, Ran-chan." Ran turned to the brunette. A small smile was dancing on Tsugumi's face, "We all are worried for her. You don't have to hide it." 

Ran only blushed, trying to hide it in her water, "..." 

Moca only grinned and Ran glared, "Say one more word and that bread goes into the trash." 

"...!! You're so mean to me Ran... mean~!!!" 

"Yeah, yeah, okay." 

"What did I do to deserve this cruel punishment...~" 

"Being yourself, naturally." 

"Tsuguuuuuu. Help me~" 

Tsugumi only laughed, watching the two banter back and forth. 

Meanwhile Tomoe pouted into her coffee, stirring the small amount of sugar she had put in it. Himari sipped on her iced tea. "So." 

Tomoe sighed, "I don't know if I wanna be with them." 

Himari cocked her head. At least some of the truth was coming out, "What do you mean?" 

"I mean..." Tomoe waved her hands in the air, "She lives this... extravagant lifestyle. Flamboyant. How on earth am supposed to fit into that? I'm not flamboyant, I'm not a 'center of attention' kinda person. So how am I supposed to be with someone who does? And-" She stopped herself, watching Himari's green eyes watching her every move. They weren't as stern and calculating as before. No, instead it gave way to softness, understanding, of best friends listening and trying to help each other.

She had yet to tell her who it was, and Tomoe was unsure how to say it. She had to tell Himari, as the bassist wouldn't stop badgering her until otherwise, but she didn't know how to tell her. 

Thankfully she didn't have to though. "I know who it is, Tomoe." 

Her eyes about bugged out, "H-Huh? How?" 

Himari's own eyes rolled, "Oh c'mon, who else would you be describing? Flamboyant, extravagant, center of attention? I know you're talking about Kaoru-senpai. It's glaringly obvious. Especially when the girl tries and fails to corner you every day." 

Tomoe cringed, "You've seen it, huh?" 

"Pretty sure the entire student body has seen it at this point, Tomoe." 

Tomoe slumped further into her seat.

"It was actually impressive. The way you avoided her the other day when we all met at CiRCLE to discuss the live." 

Tomoe's face was buried in her hands, "Himariiii-"

"What? It's true! It was actually quite hilarious. We actually had a bet going on if she'd actually be able to corner you or not."

One blue eye peeked out from between calloused fingers, "...who won?" 

"I did. Naturally. Well, me and Chisato-san. Moca and Hina-senpai cried cause they lost." 

Tomoe groaned again. She didn't think that many people would notice. But yet, Kaoru was incredibly stubborn and tried her hardest to get Tomoe to talk to her. Sadly for Kaoru, she didn't know how hard-headed and stubborn the redhead was.

Tomoe set her hands back down, looking down at her untouched coffee. "And you're not..." 

Himari's eyes softened again, "Tomoe. I may like Kaoru, or maybe even obsess over her slightly, but I love you Tomoe. You're my best-friend! Do you really think I'd let this get to me? Knowing my best-friend has found her soulmate?" 

"But we had this pact-" 

"That would be abolished soon as one of us found their soulmate." Himari finished. Tomoe sighed, "I didn't think it'd be me though." 

"Well, me either. But it did. And I am so incredibly happy for you, Tomoe. So please, in the future, don't hide things from me. It makes me feel like I'm not a good friend." 

Tomoe began to feel bad, hiding this from her, "I'm sorry, Himari. I shouldn't have hid it from you." 

"And you should've had better faith in me! What did you think I was gonna do? Stop talking to you? Try and steal your woman?" 

Tomoe rolled her eyes, "Ha Ha." The playfulness subsided, Tomoe shrugged, "I was scared of hurting you, Himari. I know now that was stupid to do." 

"Darn right it was." Himari leaned back in her seat, crossing her arms, "So, what are you going to do? Talk to her?" 

"Oh, no. I don't know about that." 

"You have to talk to her eventually, Tomoe. She looks like a kicked puppy every time you juke her." 

"...does she really?" Himari can see the guilt tearing through the drummer. Himari also can see the sad red eyes in her mind whenever Tomoe somehow manages to avoid her. The bassist sighed, "You need to talk to her."

"And say what? 'Hey, sorry for avoiding you, soulmate. Just don't like all the attention you get!' I mean, who would say that?"

"You will. Nicer, definitely worded different. You just tell her that those kinds of crowds make you uncomfortable. And that you were afraid of hurting your best-friend's feelings. It's not going to sound rude or harsh or anything, Tomoe. I think you honestly are incapable of being mean... unless someone you love is being picked on, but still! And then you two will try and work it out! You two being sad all the time is honestly depressing." 

Tomoe groaned and let her head hit the table. The dishes rattled, "I can't even handle cards in my locker, Himari. How am I supposed to be with someone who literally has an entire crowd with them at every second of the day?"

"I'm sure Kaoru-senpai would make it work to where you don't have to be around that, Tomoe. And be able to be with you without all the crowds. The girl is head over heels for you. She'd probably give you the moon if you asked." 

Tomoe blushed, "I don't think we need to go that far." 

"But it's true. She'd make sure you were comfortable, Tomoe. She wouldn't just let you be thrown to the wolves. This is why you need to talk. to. her." 

Her coffee was cold, but she still stirred it, "...when?" 

"Well, remember we have those joint practices now? Like that one we did with Roselia?" 

Tomoe dropped her spoon, "Don't tell me... our practice tomorrow..." 

Himari smiled, "It's with Hello Happy World!" 

Tomoe's head hit the table again, Himari only patting her on the head.

Well... hopefully it will go alright. Maybe.

Tomoe has her suspicions that it might not go as well as Himari wants.

Chapter Text

She was unsure why she kept staring into her mirror. She was never one to care for her looks. She never wore make up and she only ever brushed through her long hair. Fashion was something else entirely. She really did like finding cool outfits that helped accentuate the vibe she gave off. Her face though? 

That was something she never cared to fix up. 

The mascara brush hovered over lashes, like her hand and mind were battling on what to exactly do, and she growled before setting the damn thing down. 

Why was she so worked up?

"Sis?" 

Tomoe whipped around, trying to hide the accursed objects behind her, and she tried to sneakily shove them backwards, "Uh, hey Ako. What's up?"

Ako only scrunched her eyebrows, trying to peek around her older sister, "...whatcha doin?"

"Nothing." She immediately answered, her sister not buying it in the least, but she still persisted. "Just getting ready for practice is all."

Ako narrowed her eyes, "You never stay in the bathroom this long." Tomoe squawked as Ako quickly lunged for the objects behind her. Ako snickered, "Oohoohoo. Mascara?"

"Ako!" Tomoe tried to grab for the makeup but the girl danced away. She didn't like this new side of Ako. At all. Ako only grinned, "What's this for, sis?"

"I-I just want to... try something new out."

"Really?" Ako tilted her head, acting all innocent when Tomoe knew it was just an act. "It has nothing to do with the fact you're practicing with Hello Happy World! today?"

"N-No." Tomoe spat out, but her blush gave her away, and Ako only grinned.

Tomoe's eyes narrowed, "Yanno, I like you growing up and all, but I really don't like this new side of you."

Ako only rolled her eyes with a smile before tossing the mascara back to her. She hopped onto the counter, "You wanna talk about it?"

"Not really, no."

"The great angel of darkness will... er... feast upon... no..." Her eyebrows scrunched, the girl deep in thought. Tomoe only smiled. 

"The great angel of darkness will hear your pleads! Come forth and say what you must before being dragged... to... to..."

"Okay, okay fine." The redhead huffed but ruffled her sister's hair regardless. "I talked to Himari yesterday about... this..." She gestured towards her wrist, "She's kinda forcing me to talk to her today."

"Really?!" That 'angel of darkness' was replaced with the bright-eyed younger sister Tomoe loved, and the girl had the widest smile on her face, "So I get to actually meet her? Like, not really, cause I have met her, but like meet her meet her."

"I dunno if its gonna be that simple, Ako." Tomoe set the mascara down, forgotten on the countertop, and instead took to crossing her arms, "It isn't as simple as you and Hagumi. Or your friend Shirokane-san and Saaya. I... may have really screwed up already." 

Ako cocked her head, her bright orange timer glaringly obvious especially with her choice of colors, "I really don't peg Kaoru as the type to hold grudges, sis. I think, if anything, she'd just be happy."

"Ughhh I know." She stared at the make up before her, hating how much her stomach was in knots. And she only had 20 minutes left before she had to leave. Ako only grinned, "I think you're just nervous, sis."

Tomoe blushed, really hating this new side of herself. This blushing was annoying, this constant nervousness was annoying, and she was not near as good an actor as Kaoru, so people always could tell when she was uncomfortable or nervous. It ticked her off. 

"Well..." Ako grabbed the mascara, and the eyeliner Tomoe forgot she bought, and Ako brandished the items at her like she was in that RPG game she liked, about to face off against some big boss, "How about I do your makeup for you?"

Tomoe began to laugh nervously. This was not how she expected her morning to go, "Ahah, nah, I'll pass. Thanks Ako."

"Oh no you don't!" Ako dragged her sister back into the bathroom and forced her to sit on the toilet so she can better reach her face. "We're gonna wow Kaoru today, okay? Like, your character just leveled up and has all this cool new gear!! Oooo! I never thought I'd be helping my older sis with makeup!"

"You're not helping Ako!" Tomoe yelled but nonetheless relented to the puppy dog eyes her sister was making. She rolled her own, "Okay, fine, fine! But nothing too crazy or bold."

"Of course not! Oohoohoo, the angel of darkness has finally descended onto her biggest boss yet!"

"...! Ako!"

*****

"Hey, Ran, so you know the band we're jamming with today? 'Hello Happy World!'?" She leaned into Ran and whispered, "Do you think another episode of 'Kaoru-senpai tries to catch Tomoe' will happen again?"

"I didn't even notice." Ran picked at nonexistent fuzz on her shirt. Himari rolled her eyes, "Oh, boo, you liar. Everyone saw."

"I try not to watch someone failing miserably and almost crying, thank you."

"...So you did notice?"

"Notice what?" 

The two looked up only to do a double take. Ran couldn't help the snort that came out of her, especially with Himari opening and closing her mouth like a koi fish. "Are you-" Another snort came out of her involuntary, and she finally wheezed, "Are you wearing makeup?"

Tomoe turned back around, "Alright. I'm leaving. Have fun today."

"No, wait. Tomoe!" Himari grabbed the girl and pulled her back. She shot a glare behind her at the vocalist before looking back, "You look good! It was just... surprising, is all." 

Tomoe didn't buy it. "I look like shit. Don't I."

"No you really don't!" Himari turned the girls head back and forth, "Oooo and good cat eyes! You could not have done this. I've been trying for years to get you to wear makeup."

Tomoe blushed, "...Ako did it."

Himari grinned, "Ah, cute!!! But, really Tomoe, it's very subtle. Just we've known you for most of your life. We're gonna notice when you change things up."

"Change what up?" 

Tomoe groaned as she heard the last two of her bandmates approach. Moca blinked at her face before snorting, much like Ran, "Hoh boy. You got it bad."

"Moca-chan!" Tsugumi smacked her lightly, "You look cute, Tomoe-chan!!" 

Tomoe couldn't help but smile at Tsugumi, glare at Moca, but smile at her, "Thanks Tsugu."

"But really, back to the elephant in the room." Himari leaned towards the redhead, "You are gonna talk to her today, right?"

"..." Seeing her four best friends staring at her began to make her feel incredibly uneasy. Extremely so. "I- Maybe?"

She yelped at the slap, but didn't expect who was the one to slap her. 

"I swear on your life Udagawa Tomoe, if you don't talk to this damn girl today, I will strangle you." Tomoe shrinked back at the red eyes glaring at her. "R-Ran...!"

"That girl is quite possibly the saddest thing I have ever seen. Did you see her when you avoided her the other day? She looked like a baby seal."

"Or a kicked puppy." Himari added.

"Ooo! Or burnt bread~!"

Tsugumi only laughed awkwardly and pat Moca on the back, "I don't think that's how she really looked, Moca-chan."

"But burnt bread is so sad~" Moca had tears leaking out, "They didn't get to live their life like they should have, Tsugu~"

"You guys." Tomoe slowly backed away, only to finally cave in to all four pairs of eyes staring at her, "Fine! I'll do it! Yeesh."

The bell above the doors chimed. Tomoe's hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. 

"Ah, greetings. You must be the members of Afterglow." 

Himari smiled widely at the newcomer, "Yes! Umm... You're Kaoru-senpai, from Hello, Happy World! aren't you?" Himari was feigning ignorance, and Tomoe knew it was for her sake. Moca only grinned wildly once more and Tomoe glared at her. Moca only waggled her eyebrows in return. 

"That is right. It is an honor to have my name remembered by such a-" 

The girl stopped short. Tomoe refused to look up. Moca stepped on her foot. 

The drummer yelped, trying to glare at the girl but ended up accidentally looking up to those red eyes she's been trying to avoid. She kept her cool, keeping a polite smile on her face, and refused to let her body begin to heat up like it's been doing recently. Especially since the tall and suave Seta Kaoru looked like she had stepped on a mine, come to face with the gods, and seen a ghost all at once.

Her mouth was agape, eyes wide, and skin pale. All except for the small amount of red slowly dusting her cheeks. 

The girl began to laugh weakly, "Ahah. My apologies. Uhm. I-I don't suppose you could open the door that leads to the studio?" Tomoe raised an eyebrow. Kaoru began to stutter more, the blush ever increasing. "I-I pushed on it time and time again, y-yet it will not open. It stands between the studio and I, like the milky way..."

They all deadpanned. Ran just stared at her, "...the sign on the door says pull."

Kaoru blinked and looked at the door before laughing weakly again. The door to the studio opened and Tsugumi jumped at the chance. The poor girl unable to stand the awkward tension in the air. "Th-the door opened! What a relief! Okay, let's head inside, everyone!"

Tsugumi and Ran walked in first, followed by Himari. Kaoru cleared her throat and quickly turned towards the door, attempting to gain some dignity back. Alas, it was no use.

As she ran straight into the side of the door. 

The girl laughed weakly again before almost running into the studio. Moca and Tomoe only blinked.

"... It's times like this I'm really glad we have Tsugu." Tomoe muttered, trying to keep everything else that had happened out of her mind and away as quickly as possible. Moca only snickered, "And I thought you had it bad, Tomo-chin. Did you see your soulmate just then? Horny and smitten alllll at once."

Tomoe growled and began to chase the girl into the studio, "MOCAA!!!"

*****

The gods were incredibly cruel to her today. Mind-numbingly cruel.

Kaoru kept her composure after that ghastly state she was in prior, and went along with the joint rehearsal as if nothing was wrong. As if she did not just mortally wound herself and her dignity with her awkward and embarrassing situation she put herself in. If only that goddess would not stop looking like the gods had hand painted her to perfection. 

Something was different with her soulmate. Her eyes were more piercing than ever before, and they had more eye contact in this rehearsal alone than in the past two months. She swallowed and went along like nothing was awry, like this girl with the brilliant red hair did not make her feel like she was 10 again and scared of her own shadow.

She laughed at the right times, pulled out some wonderful quotes, and even made their bassist, Himari, blush. Yet she did not make her blush.

Udagawa Tomoe. Her soulmate.

Their guitarist, Moca, kept looking at Kaoru when she thought she wasn't looking, and looking back at her friend with one of those self-satisfied smiles painted on her face. Tomoe would only glare in return.

Their keyboardist vowed to try another route in the musical world, Moca following along quickly, and Kaoru laughed jovially along. 

It was only when the rehearsal was over she let herself time to breath, away from everyone else, with a bottle of water and a towel in her hands. She glanced down at her timer, almost crushing the bottle as she thought about what to do. 

She was not sure in the slightest. 

She did not have time to think as the door to the studio opened. Afterglow began to file out, Hello Happy already outside at the cafe, and the last to emerge from the studio was the drummer she had fallen deeply for months prior. 

The rest of Afterglow left for the lobby, Himari looking backwards at the redhead with a pointed gaze before they left. Tomoe hesitated before looking at her with eyes so blue she thought she would drown. 

Tomoe opened her mouth and closed it, as if trying to decide what to say. Kaoru's heart began to race. 

Was this the moment? Kaoru did not realize the towel she held fluttered to the floor. She swallowed deeply.  Was this the moment I have been waiting for?

Blue eyes stared into her soul, and the girl with the red hair gave her a small smile. "Uhm.... you wanna... talk...? Maybe?" 

Her water hit the ground, and she honestly did not think it would echo as much as it did. She stayed staring at the goddess before her and she almost thought she would get lost in her blue eyes before responding.

Yet her voice acted as if it did not want to work.

It almost felt like a century, those blue eyes slowly turning to one of concern. She was about to ask maybe if she were alright but was cut off when Kaoru finally attained her voice once more.

"Yes..." She croaked before speaking more clearly and standing up straight, "Yes!"

Tomoe only raised a brow at her demeanor. Kaoru cleared her throat, "Ah, uhm... yes, I would love to chat."

Tomoe smiled, the small smile piercing the actor's heart, "Cool. You wanna hit up the cafe? Or go somewhere else?"

"Wherever you decide to go, I will follow." She almost bowed, but realizing the absurdity of it made her stop and rub the back of her neck, "Wherever is fine with me."

It looked as if Tomoe was trying to stifle a laugh, and Kaoru could feel herself heat up. She never felt this self conscious in all her years. Aware of every movement, every word, every tone she herself utilized. She almost blushed again. Yet Tomoe stayed smiling serenely. 

"Well then let's just escape this joint, yeah? Wanna go maybe get some ramen? I'm starving."

Kaoru could not help but smile, the weight in her heart slowly lifting. This goddess was finally speaking to her, at last, and her heart could barely contain the excitement. 

"Ramen sounds lovely."

Yet as she attempted to leave, Tomoe cleared her throat. "Uhmm... maybe we wanna clean that up first?"

Kaoru looked down and realized the puddle slowly inching it's way along the floor. Ah, such a klutz! She hastily stooped down and grabbed the towel, cleaning up the puddle with as much gusto as she could. 

She stopped when she heard a snort above her. She looked up.

And those blue eyes, so warm and inviting, were almost smiling at her. Tomoe grinned, "Take your time. I ain't goin anywhere."

No... Kaoru grabbed the wet towel and held it in her hands, looking down at her timer until she looked back up at the girl in front of her. I suppose you are not.

Hopefully she'd get through this talk without embarrassing herself. Goodness knows she's done it enough already today.

Chapter Text

It was... awkward, needless to say, the walk to the restaurant. 

Their shoulders kept bumping into each other, Tomoe on more than one occasion wanting to apologize but refrained.

Why am I all of a sudden feeling so... awkwardShe tried to shake it off, but the tension wouldn't leave the air. This is what is supposed to happen... right?

The wind began to pick up around them, making her wish she brought a hair tie with her, yet at the same time glad some of that wind could help cool her flaming cheeks. She had kept it down as long as she could, the blushing, and yet now, alone with her, it was hard to do.

"So..." She brought her hands to rest behind her head as they walked, glancing over at the purple-haired girl beside her. At least she wasn't the only one feeling uncomfortable. If the rosy cheeks were anything to go by. "How do you feel? About the live coming up?"

Red eyes snapped towards her, Tomoe feeling a little more unsettled with the gaze on her. It was as if Kaoru felt the same, the gaze snapping back to the sidewalk in front of them. "I feel... joyous, over the live. I find it fleeting, all of us musicians coming together to create a wanderous harmony." Kaoru's blush became more fierce, Tomoe noted, and the guitarist stuttered out, "I-I feel good about it."

She scrunched her eyebrows. Sure, the long sentences and fancy words were a little hard to understand sometimes, but seeing this flustered side of the girl beside her made her feel... a little guilty honestly.

"Yeah, me too." Tomoe glanced back towards the taller girl, her voice a little lower than intended, "Though... Seta-senpai?"

The girl hesitated before looking at her. Tomoe tried to hold that gaze, "Don't feel as if you can't use your..." What was the word she was trying to think of? Ah. "...Elegant... words. I mean, if you don't want to that's fine, I just don't want you to feel as if you can't use 'em around me, yanno?" 

Kaoru's eyes widened slightly, Tomoe easily seeing the surprise held in them. "Elegant...?" The girl coughed into her hand, trying to hide the rosiness of her cheeks, before looking back, "I-I will keep that in mind, thank you."

Tomoe about jumped as she heard the familiar ding coming from her phone. Scrunching her brows, she pulled it out and looked at the new message. 

Afterglow Hoes

mocatastic:  Hope ur havin fun tomo-chin. Dont do anything I wouldnt do ( ̄ー ̄)ゞ

Ran: There's not a lot you wouldn't do, Moca.

mocatastic: Ran~ so mean to poor ole mocachan (╥_╥)

Tsugu:  You guys!! Stop messaging in the group chat!! We want her to have a good time!! 

Hey, Hey, Hoh!: have fun Tomoe!! i want to hear all about it when u get home! ♡^▽^♡

 

She sighed. Heavily. Poor Tsugumi, trying to keep everyone sane without her. She quickly typed out a reply to her nosy friends before putting her phone back up. 

 

Taiko God:  you guys are killing me. Apart from you, Tsugu, thank you for trying to keep the fort down in my absence.

Taiko God: ...

Taiko God: fine, Himari, I'll message you.

Hey, Hey, Hoh!: (^▽^)

 

"Your friends?"

Tomoe jumped (as much as she hated that), and looked at the red eyes that were looking at her. There was a hint of laughter in them, and Tomoe gave an awkward chuckle and rubbed the back of her neck, "Yeah. They're a pretty nosy group. But I love them."

"How did you meet them? Your friends?" Kaoru was looking a little more comfortable, the further they walked, and Tomoe smiled as she thought back to when they were kids. 

"Ah, we went to the same elementary school. We were all in the same class and kinda just... stuck together, I guess. It was funny, we always got into the same class, up until our second year of middle school when Ran was in a different class then us." Tomoe stuck her hands in her pockets, a little more at ease the more she talked about her friends, "Ran hit a tough spot, being away from us. Then Tsugu mentioned the idea of making a band and we all jumped for it. But yeah, we've been friends since elementary."

"Must be nice, staying so close to your childhood friends." Kaoru mused as they got closer to the downtown district. Tomoe cocked her head, curious at the sudden sour tone to her voice, "...Is something wrong? I mean, you don't have to answer if you don't wanna-"

"Oh, no, it's fine." Kaoru smiled at her, although Tomoe could tell just vaguely the sadness behind it, but Kaoru continued, "You know Shirasagi Chisato? The bassist of Pastel✽Palettes?"

"Oh, the blonde one, right?"

"That would be her, yes." Kaoru stayed staring ahead, Tomoe seeing the girl delve into her past. "Our parents are fairly close, and in part we became close. In our childhood years, that is." She stopped and a bitter sigh escaped her. Tomoe set a hand on Kaoru's arm, the girl jumping slightly at the contact. Should I have done that? Shit, maybe that was too much- Kaoru began to relax then, and Tomoe didn't realize the breath she had held until then. Kaoru continued, "Needless to say, coming up to middle school, we began to... fall apart, I suppose. With her job it was hard to maintain it, then I..." Her smile began to become more sad, more... not Kaoru, and Tomoe really wanted it to go away. "Well, I suppose you can draw the conclusions now."

"I'm sorry..." That was all she really could say about it. Tomoe had no idea the past between Kaoru and Chisato, and quite frankly it was none of her business. But she had an inkling that she was the first to hear this story. From Kaoru, that is. And Tomoe could tell there was more to it, but it was not something she was going to push. Not now. Instead she saw the flashing lights in the distance and she grabbed the guitarist's hand, dragging her forward, "Oh! There it is!! Let's go get us some food, eh?"

Tomoe didn't see, but Kaoru's face turned from sad to strangely happy and surprised. A blush tore through both of them, yet the guitarist's heart felt lighter.

Especially with the way their hands fit together. Surprisingly comfortable, as if they were always meant to be one. 

*****

Kaoru didn't frequent ramen shops often. It was partly to maintain her image, knowing her little kittens more frequented the cafes around their town, thereby making herself gravitate more towards those. Mostly, however, it was to keep herself from caving in. From bringing 'Kao-chan' back into the light, to keep from reverting back to darkened days and lonely nights.

So, because of that, she had not been able to indulge in one of her favorites. Not many knew of her love for miso soup, well, quite honestly no one but her family (and Chisato) knew of it. She always ordered those which fit her image. Sachertorte with grape juice on the side. Maybe some black coffee if they had it. 

So being in this place, with their loud noises and rambunctious laughter, it felt strangely comforting. A little more at peace, like she was finally home after a long day. Tomoe handed her a menu and she couldn't help but watch her companion scan through the menu in no time at all. This was one of her favorites, Kaoru knew, and looked back down at her own menu. She bit her lip and thought about what exactly to order. What would be the most fitting...?

"You should get the Miso." 

Kaoru looked over at her soulmate, those eyes staring straight into her. Tomoe had a small smile. "For the broth, that is. I kinda saw you staring at it."

"O-Oh." Embarrassing yourself again, ne Kao-chan?

She could see Chisato's disapproving smile in her mind, which inadvertently began to make her hands clench. A calloused one covered it and she looked back up. 

"You don't have to get it, yanno. All I'm saying is is get whatever you want. I ain't judging." Laughter danced in those blue eyes and Tomoe smirked, "Especially since you haven't seen what ordered yet."

Kaoru opened and closed her mouth, the face very similar to how it was earlier that day, seeing that goddess again actually looking at her with those piercing blue eyes. And if they were to be together, Kaoru knew she couldn't keep the facade up, that image, so she let herself break down, ordering what she wanted for once. No matter how challenging it really was.

Yet she knew, looking at those blue eyes, that this girl could care less how she acted. She didn't need Kaoru doting on her like she does with so many others. Tomoe didn't need reassurance, or a prince. She needed, or wanted, a companion. A lover, maybe, if given the chance. It was quite astonishing how much she could tell just by being in her presence, watching her, looking into those eyes. Kaoru almost felt overwhelmed.

"...Miso it is then."

After ordering, they had a small battle of who should pay. Both wanted to, and the waitress had a small smile on her face watching the two. Kaoru finally won, morely by just shoving the yen in the waitresses hand. Kaoru just smiled at the other girl and with as steady of a voice she could muster, said, 'You may pay next time.'

That caused the redhead to blush, and she coughed into her hand and stepped back to let Kaoru get her change.

Then they continued onto the main area of the shop, that laughter ringing in the air, and the fire danced in Kaoru's peripheral as the chefs got to work on the orders they were given. The smells wafting through the air were lovely, and Kaoru did not even know how hungry she was until arriving here.

Tomoe had obviously been here before, as she heard their elders yelling out in greeting at the redhead. Most yelling out "Tomoe-chan!" as they passed by to a small table in the corner. 

Kaoru couldn't help the smile as she watched the redhead wave at yet another customer, "You seem to be quite popular, Tomoe-chan."

The drummer seemed caught off guard with that, and laughter danced in Kaoru's red eyes. Tomoe grinned and rubbed the back of her neck. She does that quite often. Kaoru smiled. How endearing.

"Ahah, well, I help 'em out whenever I can. Volunteering and stuff. It's not a big deal."

So kind. So humble. Kaoru leaned back in her chair and that smile got wider. How was I blessed with such an angel?

They sat there for a moment, soaking in their time together and the cacophony of sounds and smells. The waitress came by with their drinks, and Kaoru sipped on hers lightly as she thought of what to say. 

But morely one thing stayed at the forefront of her mind. It's been going through her mind the second Tomoe had actually spoke to her today, outside of the studio. 

"I... thank you, for seeing me, I suppose. I know I was most likely quite troublesome these past couple of months, trying to speak to you and all." 

Tomoe chuckled, forced, Kaoru can tell, and the drummer spoke, "Nah, you weren't troublesome. If anything, was troublesome." 

The redhead looked as if she were debating on what to say, Kaoru slowly beginning to feel like maybe she had done something wrong. Maybe she had ruined yet another thing, with her persistence. And when Tomoe sighed it was almost like a blow to the chest. "No, I do understand how I can be quite bothersome. You can tell me, it is not the first time-" 

"No, no. Kaoru." Tomoe didn't even seem to know she had just called her by her first name. It did effectively shut the guitarist's mouth though. Tomoe messed with the paper from her straw, "It's... me, mainly. Not you, at all. So please don't think it is." 

Her internalized paranoia abated slightly, but Kaoru couldn't help but tilt her head and ask, "May I ask what troubled you, then?" 

Tomoe, once again, looked as if she were debating on what to say. She finally set the paper down and looked Kaoru in the eyes, "So... I tend not to be around large crowds, yanno? I kinda like my quiet, being with my friends and jamming. Maybe be with my little sister and play some video games. Sure, I help out a lot downtown, and play the taiko drums for festivals... but I never really am around large crowds. Large crowds that are there for me."

Oh... Oh. Kaoru's paranoia crept back. Was she too noisy? Or not her, maybe, but the people around her? Was it too much for Tomoe? Was that why-

"Now, I ain't saying you shouldn't be around large crowds or anything. Hell, you thrive off of it. And I can see how much joy it gives you. Just... sometimes it can be overwhelming, yanno? Like, I see the stares I get, and I try to be nice, but it honestly sometimes... scares me." 

Her heart began to clench, "So... you do not want to pursue anything with me, then? I under-" 

"Kaoru, stop." Tomoe laughed and finally set a hand atop hers, "I ain't saying I don't wanna be with you. I'm just sayin the reason it took me so long was cause I was scared of all the crowds you're always around. I'm getting better at it, being in a band and all, but I just sometimes want some peace away from all the crowds. Doesn't mean I don't wanna be with you. I just want only you. And I'm not saying to stop being the suave and beautiful prince you are I'm just saying that I want to, if we're together, to have time... alone with you? Gah, I'm making a fool of myself now, and I can't seem to stop talking so if you can interrupt me at any point, that'd be-"

Kaoru, instead of interrupting, only began to blink. That blink then turned to snorts, which then turned to a boisterous laughter that almost sent her drink flying. She never thought anyone would get this side out of her. Nobody, even her own parents, were worthy of seeing the Seta Kaoru laughing so hard she was wheezing. Tomoe blushed, hard, "Okay, I said to interrupt me, not to laugh at me." 

"Ah, no, Tomoe." Kaoru finally calmed herself, squeezing that hand that was lay over hers, "My apologies. It's just... you get so cute when you ramble on like that." 

"C-Cute?!" Her blush got worse, "H-Hold on, I'm not really-" 

"Ah, but you are." Her heart, which was constricted by vines moments prior, was about to soar out of her chest, "I thank you, for telling me what has been ailing you these past couple of months. I want you to know though, with all sincerity, that yes, I do love being around my little kittens. They do bring me happiness, knowing I can help them or aid them however way I can. However, if I am with you, it would only be us. I would never subject you to things you are uncomfortable with. And I understand you do not want me to give up that part of my life either. I will find a balance. Yet it may lean more towards being with you though, if I may be honest." 

Tomoe almost matched the color of her hair, and the girl groaned and purposefully hid her face in her arm. She mumbled something but Kaoru couldn't quite catch it, especially with the loud noises surrounding them. "...I couldn't quite understand?" 

"I said I hate blushing this much." Tomoe growled and gave her a frown. Not a true frown, she could see the underlying laughter in those eyes, "Like, I try to be a cool person, yanno? So why do you make me do this all the time??" 

"Why do I make you do this?" Kaoru laughed, "Do you not remember how I acted this morning, my love? I ran into the door just after looking at you." 

Tomoe blinked, memories of what had happened before their practice surfacing, and she snorted, "Okay, yeah. I remember now. Guess we're both just disasters, huh?" 

"I suppose so." 

The tension in the air was gone. Neither really knows when it had dissipated, but they really could care less. And as their meal arrived they both took to eating and enjoying each other's company. Kaoru couldn't help but snort at the massive piles of toppings atop Tomoe's bowl. The girl just brandished her chopsticks at her, "Hey now, no making fun of my beautiful concoction. It is a masterpiece, and I will forever enjoy it." 

"It looks lovely." Kaoru took some of her own noodles into her mouth, but could not stop smiling throughout the whole time. It was as if, being with this girl, that she was neither Seta Kaoru, prince of many, or Kao-chan, always hiding in the shadows. She was a perfect mixture of the two, both her true self, yet she supposes with Tomoe she was someone else entirely. Or, rather, it was just another part of herself. Maybe her most true form. Regardless, she was the most carefree than she had been in a long time, and when the time drew to a close, she couldn't help the frown that marred her features. 

She would spend an eternity with this girl if she could. 

She though made do with the second best, and held her hand out to the drummer, "May I walk you home? Since you live so close by?" 

Tomoe quirked her brows, "Or I can take you home and walk back?" 

"I would rather know you are safe at home, besides-" She grasped that hand and interlocked her fingers with hers, "Your sister is waiting for you, is she not?" 

"Yeah, yeah, you're right, I guess." Tomoe smiled though, regardless if she were a little upset that their time was cut so short. They exited the shop, taking their time walking down the almost empty sidewalk, and neither let go until they were at her doorstep. Neither particularly knew what to say, and neither let go either. They heard the TV through the front door, and Tomoe sighed and looked at her, "I guess I should go in." 

Kaoru smiled, "You should, I suppose." 

"Oh, shit, wait." Tomoe dug through her bag before procuring the device she sought after. Tomoe unlocked her phone before handing to Kaoru, "Maybe we should exchange numbers, eh?" 

Kaoru took the phone from her, smiling as she put her number in, then handed it back to Tomoe. The girl snorted as she took the phone back, "'Your Fleeting Prince'?" 

"And you may choose what to be as in mine as well." Tomoe laughed again and shook her head, "Alright, alright, I'll keep it that way. I'm shooting a text your way so you got my number. With the name that I request be called, thank you." 

Kaoru felt her phone buzz in her pocket and she chuckled at the message. 

"Your Kickass Soulmate sending a text ur way"

"Okayyy, well I'm gonna head in now, I guess." Tomoe turned to the door and fished out her keys, "You text me when you make it home though?" 

Kaoru smiled, "Of course." 

She turned the girl around though before she could finish unlocking the door and set her lips on her cheek, "You have a good night, Tomoe." 

"I-uh-you too, Kaoru." 

The girl smiled and began to descend the steps, Tomoe just blinking after her as the door suddenly opened. 

"Sis?" 

Tomoe whirled around and saw familiar purple pigtails, "Ahah, hey, Ako!" She bypassed the girl and took her shoes off, the younger one shutting the door, "How was it? Did you have fun? Where did you go?" 

"Okay, Ako, calm down." Tomoe laughed and plopped onto the couch with her sister soon following, "We got ramen." 

"Aaaand...?" 

"And we talked. It was nice." Ako stared at her, hard. Tomoe held her hands up, "What? It's true!" 

"Uh huh. Well you're telling me more in the morning. Cause I'm tired and wanna sleep." Tomoe rolled her eyes, "No you're not. You wanna play your video game." 

Ako just bounded up the stairs, Tomoe following her, "Don't stay up all night playing, okay Ako?" 

"Okay, sis!" The girl stopped and turned around and hugged Tomoe tight around the waist. She smiled widely at her, "I'm glad you had a fun time, sis." 

"Thanks, Ako. Me too." She hugged her tightly and watched her go into her room before turning and going into her own, shucking off her bag and letting it sit in her chair. She plopped onto her bed and held her phone above her, going to one of her contacts in her list.

Taiko God:  So Im back home. 

She hesitated before typing out.

Taiko God:  It went really good. Im happy.

Her phone buzzed, but not from the number she thought it'd be from. Her smile widened. 

Your Fleeting Prince:  I have made it home, my love. I hope you have a wonderful nights sleep.

Your Fleeting Prince: Also, I had a wonderful time... thank you.

Tomoe couldn't handle the damn name, but knowing what hers was she supposed made it all the better. 

 

Kaoru smiled from her bed as she read her incoming message. 

Your Kickass Soulmate:  Good. I had a great time too. It better happen again or I'm gonna riot.

Your Kickass Soulmate: But really, you sleep well too, Kaoru. Goodnight

Chapter Text

This was an all out emergency. A 911 if you will. Something drastic, earth-shattering, and definitely in need of attention had happened and she had to make sure to make it with utmost urgency.

Her heart pounded as she busted down the halls of Haneoka, bypassing bewildered girls in her haste to find her target. She was fairly certain she heard the disciplinary committee shouting at her from down the hall so she threw a quick apology behind her before finding the door to where her target had to be.

She slung open the sliding door, scanning the few students already in there before finding her. "Tsugu!!"

The girl jumped, especially with the girl falling into the seat in front of her, and her eyes stayed wide at the frantic look in the redhead's eyes, "T-Tomoe-chan?"

"When did it happen?" Was all she said (yelled, really), the bewildered girl just blankly staring at her, "E-Eh?"

She took to just yanking the girl's wrist towards her, seeing that teal blue etched onto the skin, "This." She pointed at it, "When did this happen?"

"E-Ehhhh?!"

"So Tomo-chin has finally cracked the code~" Their white-haired friend sat in the seat adjacent the brunette and only gave a shit-eating grin at the spectacle before her. Himari, sitting in her spot in front of Moca, was pouting. Moca turned her grin to her, "She doesn't seem to care at all about your soulmate, Hii-chan~"

"I know!" Himari almost cried. Like, there were actual tears in her eyes, "I thought I was your bestfriend, Tomoe~!"

Tomoe only waved at them, "You aren't our precious little angel, Himari. I'll ask about you later."

"I-IGNORED?!"

Tsugumi only laughed awkwardly, not appreciating the attention drawn on her, and she shrunk back at the blue eyes boring into her, "Like, really, Tsugu, when did this happen?!"

"U-um..." She ducked her head and finally eeked out, "About a week ago..."

"A week- That was when we all met up for the discussion for the live!!!" Tomoe looked defeated, hurt, and Tsugumi almost cried and tried to explain, "Y-You were h-having your own problems with S-Seta-senpai. I didn't want to bother you with t-this."

"And you were playing the 'let's see how many times I can avoid Seta-san' Tomo-chin~."

Tomoe completely ignored her, instead she took to putting her hands on the brunette's shoulders and began to shake them wildly, "But Tsugu! How can I play the intimidating older sister if I didn't even know??" The redhead actually pouted, "I had to hear from Ako of all people that our precious little Tsugu found her soulmate?!"

Tsugumi saw Tomoe's teary eyes and they pulled at her heart strings, and she pat the girl on the head softly, "I-I'm sorry Tomoe-chan. You can still play the big sister role if you want." 

"Pfffft." Moca grinned wildly at the two, "Tomo-chin wouldn't even make Sayo-san twitch. She doesn't have it in her~" 

Tomoe glared at the girl, the guitarist unmoving by the glare, and Tsugumi only laughed, "I'm sure Sayo-san would be plenty scared, Tomoe-chan. You are a very protective friend!" 

"Really?" Tomoe almost cried and lunged over the desk to wrap her arms around the keyboardist, "YOU ARE TOO PURE FOR THIS WORLD, TSUGUMI!"

"T-Tomoe-chan...!!!" 

"Uh..." Moca turned to see Ran walk into their class. She almost looked as if she wanted to backpedal out of there and to her own class, but her curiosity got the better of her, "What...?" 

"Tomo-chin found out Tsugu has a soulmate. Hii-chan is crying cause Tsugu is more important than her right now." 

Ran just raised an eyebrow at the crying bassist, "...really, Himari?" 

"I-I just thought Tomoe would care a little bit that I found my soulmate!" Himari actually had tears running down her face, "Like, I helped her so much with her soulmate stuff, and she doesn't even care that I found mine!!" 

"You know she does, Himari. Tsugu is like our child though. We have to protect her at all costs." 

Himari only cried. Tomoe finally detached herself from Tsugumi but still held onto her, "I have to meet her, yanno. Like, put the fear of god in her and stuff." Ran snorted. Moca laughed. Tomoe ignored them all as Tsugumi only gave an awkward smile, "Ah, uh, sure?" 

"CAN YOU GIVE ME SOME ATTENTION NOW?!" Everyone in the room just whipped their heads around to the pink-haired girl. Himari only laughed awkwardly and sunk into her seat. The drummer finally turned to her, "Alright, Himari, let's see it." 

"Yahoo!" She thrusted her wrist out, her timer emblazed in an almost rose color, "It's Rimi-chan from Popipa! She's so adorable and I honestly had no idea she was my soulmate. Like, I was like 'Whaaaa?' and she was like 'H-Himari-chan?!' and it was so cute!!" 

"The bassist?" Tomoe thought back to the small and timid girl, "Oh, I do see her a lot downtown with Saaya. She always goes to her bakery and gets those chocolate cornets, right?" 

Himari nodded sagely. Tomoe then got to thinking, "Wait... if you are soulmates with Rimi... then that means you've known since back then to, haven't you?!" Himari only sunk back into her seat, "Uh, oh..." 

"You all seriously knew they found soulmates, and no one told me?! And I didn't even realize?!" Tomoe threw her head in her arms, "I'm such a shitty friend!!!" 

"T-Tomoe-chan...!" Tsugumi and Himari both bolted to the girl and tried to cheer her up. Well, mainly Tsugu. Himari was trying but was laughing too much in the process. Moca and Ran just blinked and looked at each other. 

"...You thinkin what I'm thinkin?" 

"...Probably not." 

Moca nodded, "Sounds right." She then bolted out of the room, "Seta-san!!! We are in need of assistance in 1-B!! Your soulmate is having a breakdown and won't stop cryinggg~!" 

"MOCA!!!!" Ran went chasing after her, "That is not what I was thinking!!!"

"Ahhh... Tomoe-chann...!" 

"She won't stop!" Himari almost began to panic, "Seriously, Tomoe, it's okay!! We didn't say anything for a reason! We didn't want to bother you when you had your own issues!" 

"Do you know me at all?!" The girl stayed having her head buried in her arms, "I feel terrible not being there for you two!!!" 

"But then you would have prolonged being together with Kaoru-senpai!!" Himari lectured her, "We wanted to tell you when you two were together! And now you are!!" 

The door slammed open and wide red eyes looked around until she saw who she was looking for. 

"Kaoru-senpai!" many girls in the room yelled out, and both Himari and Tsugumi stared wide-eyed at the girl who was paying them no mind.

"...She actually came pretty fast..." Himari blinked, Tsugumi laughed awkwardly, "I-I didn't think Moca-chan would actually find her..." 

"Tomoe! Are you okay?!" Kaoru knelt in front of the girl, trying to pry her arms open to get a look at her face, but the girl was not having it. Tsugumi tried to explain, "Uh... Himari-chan and I found our soulmates...? She's upset because she didn't exactly know before..." 

"Ah, Tomoe, I am sure it is alright..."

Tomoe only shook her head, "I didn't know two of my best friends found their soulmates for a week! I could've been the protective sister! Try and intimidate their soulmates!!! I gotta protect my friends, yanno?" There was a pause. Tomoe continued in her muffled voice, "Okay, maybe not Rimi. She's as pure as Tsugu. But I could've intimidated Sayo-san at least!!!"

"And you can still do that, my love." She pat the girl on the head, "I am sure Sayo would be plenty intimidated. Your friends I am sure had good reasons for withholding. It is good you are at least knowledgeable about it now, right?"

She didn't respond. Kaoru waited patiently, "Would you like to take a walk? Classes do not start for another ten minutes. Maybe we can clear your mind and decide how to best approach intimidating Sayo, hm?"

Tomoe stayed unmoving. Kaoru stood and began to lightly pull the girl from her seat, "Come now, love. Let us take a walk."

Tsugumi and Himari only blinked as they watched Kaoru effortlessly comfort and move one of the most stubborn people they knew. "...I guess Kaoru-senpai is Tomoe's soulmate. I mean, even can't do that!"

Tsugumi only laughed awkwardly once more. She didn't think this is how her morning was going to go, and classes haven't even started yet. "...I may have to warn Sayo-san. I don't see this going to well..."

*****

Tsugumi fidgeted, restless in the booth of her own family's diner. Her companion just raised an eyebrow at her, setting a hand atop one of hers, "Tsugumi. You're fidgeting."

"O-oh. I am. Ahahah..." She stopped moving her hands... then proceeded to begin to jostle her leg. Sayo sighed, "I am sure this meeting will go as planned. I plan to act as scared as possible."

Sayo refused to call this a double date. If anything, this was something she really did not want to do, but Tsugumi had a thing of pulling some very good puppy eyes, and more often then not Sayo conceded.

"T-That is very kind of you, Sayo-san... I don't know why I'm so nervous..."

"I am meeting one of your friends. It would cause me some restlessness too, if I were in your shoes." 

What they didn't realize, across the way, four people sat with menus blocking their faces. One of them scoffed. "I really don't see why I'm doing this again."

"Because it is gonna be hilarious Ran~"

"But we're spying on Tsugu!"

"Correction." Green eyes looked over her menu, "We're spying on Tomoe."

"Sis is gonna be acting so cool! Acting all intimidating and stuff to Sayo-san of all people! I wish I were more like her-!"

"Shhhh." Moca wound her finger through the menus towards Ako, "The adults are talking."

"RUDE!"

"Shhh!" Himari shoved Moca's hand back across the table, "Here they come!"

The bell above the door rang and Moca had to stifle a laugh as she watched Tomoe casually stroll into the diner, as if her sole mission wasn't to intimidate one of the most intimidating people they knew. Kaoru just lagged behind slightly, as poised as always, and she followed her soulmate to the booth holding the two they were just looking at. 

"This is gonna be so good~"

"Shhhh!"

"Can I get you all anything?"

"No!" Himari almost said it loudly but caught herself. She kept the menu in front of her, "I, um, no thanks. We're okay."

Blue eyes blinked at them, "Himari-san?"

Himari peeked back over the menu, "Eve-san??"

They forgot she worked here. "What are you guys doing? It seems very bushido!"

"We're spying on sis and them over there!" Ako pointed secretly, "But we're trying to be sneaky. Fufufu, like an angel of darkness casting their shadow-"

"Ohhhh! Ran~ I want a tart~"

"...Moca! We aren't here to eat!"

"But it looks soooooo good~! Tsugu always has the best tarts!"

"..." Himari peeked over her menu, "I'm kinda hungry too actually."

Ran deadpanned, "...really guys?"

"I want some fries!" Ako smiled, Himari patting her on the head, "This isn't the fast food place, Ako-chan. They don't have fries here."

"Wasn't our purpose in going here to spy on Tomoe?" Ran hissed at them, "And what are we doing? Not spying on Tomoe."

"Ohhhh. Look who's getting into it now~"

"Moca!"

"I can spy on them!" Eve smiled, "I have to wait on them afterall! I can put my samurai skills to the test!"

"Really?" Himari grinned, "Thanks, Eve-san!"

"Moca wants a tart though~"

Ran huffed, "Fine, fine, if it'll get you to shut up."

"Oh and a lemon cake slice!" Himari added, Ako shortly after, "Chocolate for me!"

"We're never gonna get this over with, are we?" Ran sighed loudly, her head making contact with the table.

 

Across the way, Tomoe slid into the booth opposite the couple, her arm immediately resting atop the table as she situated, "Yo."

"Hello Udagawa-san." She nodded towards the guitarist sliding gracefully in beside Tomoe, "Seta-san."

Kaoru only waved with a smile, Tsugumi turning more into herself as she watched her friend bore holes into Sayo's face. "...so I hear your Tsugu's soulmate, eh?"

"That is correct, yes."

Tomoe leant more into the table, Sayo instinctively leaning back, "... you plan on treating her right? She's purity incarnate. She can't be going to any scoundrels that roam these parts."

Sayo tried to stifle her laughter, and she succeeded, mainly due to the girl beside her and she coolly responded, "I plan to treat her with the utmost respect. I never plan to stray from that."

"Sayo-san..." Tsugumi stared at her soulmate with wide eyes. Tomoe still stayed unconvinced, "How do I know you ain't gonna defile Tsugu?"

"T-Tomoe-chan!" Tsugumi's face turned bright red at the implication. Kaoru had to cough into her hand. Sayo remained intact, "You are Ako-san's sister, correct? I have never strayed from the line of honesty and integrity, and I'm sure your sister would agree."

"..." 

Tomoe stayed narrowing her eyes. Sayo returned the stare. The four across the way watched with abated breath, three of them with food stuffed in their mouths. 

Tomoe thrusted a finger at her, "I hear you hurt my precious little Tsugu, and I'm gonna find ya and kick your ass, got it? I don't care that you're my elder, Tsugu comes first."

Sayo gulped, as she did promise Tsugumi to act scared, and stuttered, "A-Alright. I will not hurt her in anyway."

"Good." Tomoe then leaned back, Kaoru instinctively resting her hand atop her leg (although the other two didn't see it... one girl across the way did almost choke on her chocolate cake though, the one beside her almost panicking at the sight). Then Tomoe busted out into a huge grin, "Then let's celebrate, eh? Get this double date started!!" 

Tsugumi let out the breath she had practically been holding in this entire time. Sayo held her hand and squeezed, the act alone calming Tsugumi further. "Y-yes. Let's."

Tomoe waved over their waitress (the girl from Pastel✽Palettes it looked like). "Hi! Tsugumi-san, Kaoru-san, Tomoe-san, Sayo-san!"

"Hi Eve-chan." Tsugumi smiled. 

"Is this a double date! How bushido!" The girl sighed, "I wish Maya-san would go on a double date too, but she doesn't like the idea."

"I am sure Maya will come around, Eve-chan. She will, for you, I am sure."

Eve smiled widely at the purple-haired girl, her pale green timer almost glowing on her pale skin, "Thank you, Kaoru-san! What do you guys want to order?"

 

"..." Green eyes stayed staring at the group, eyes narrowed, "That couldn't be all of it."

"What are you talking about, Hii-chan? That was hilarious~" Moca spoke with her mouth full, Ran scooting away from her with the crumbs flying. Ako cocked her head, "I thought it was awesome! Sis was so cool! She scared Sayo-san! I thought that was impossible! Like an invincible boss in the depths of-"

"Yeah, yeah, okay." Moca peered over Ran's shoulder at the group actually laughing and having a ball, "Ohhhhh~ You see that, Ran~? Our little girls are all grown up, being with their soulmates. I'm gonna cry~" 

Ran shoved her away, "Please don't."

"And Tomo-chin is getting felt up by Kaoru-san too. This just keeps getting funnier and funnier~"

Ako choked on her cake, "Sis is what?!?"

The entire restaurant looked at the four, Ran glaring at the purple-haired girl diagonal from her. Ako only laughed weakly and hid her face behind her menu. 

The redhead across the way from them though... it was no surprise she knew that voice. "Ako?!"

The girl, knowing she had been caught, weakly raised a hand, "Heyyyy sis."

Tomoe veered her eyes, "Ran? Himari? Moca?!" Her eyes narrowed, "What are y'all doing?!"

"Uh oh." Moca shoved the rest of her tart in her mouth before leaping across the table, "Gotta bounce!"

"Mocaaaa wait on me!" Himari busted after her, Ako running as if her life depended on it, "Go go go!!!"

Ran growled, "You guys didn't even pay yet!!!"

Tomoe growled and was trying to climb over but her girlfriend was in the way. The other three only blinked.

Then all four pairs of eyes turned to Ran. The girl shrunk.

Then growled.

"I am going to kill them."

Chapter Text

The drumsticks felt heavier in her hand today for some reason. She chalked it up to the fact that their short live was this afternoon, and just pre-show jitters were consuming her, but that would be lying to herself. No matter how much she hides her feelings from others to spare worry, it would be pretty shitty to hide it from herself too. 

She and Kaoru were officially together for only a few days now, and even thinking that was a little weird for her. She, Tomoe, was dating the popular girl in school. No, correction, she was soulmates with the popular girl in school.

Never in her life had she thought she'd be here. 

And it was going well, although it has only been a few days, but being together almost made it seem like those two months weren't all that wasted. 

Yet she supposes the real reason for her nerves were for that damned guitarist. 

It would be the first time Kaoru would see her play. Normally Tomoe wasn't all that nervous, but now she wanted to almost... impress her. Yet that was silly, and she knew it was, because for some damn reason Kaoru looked at her like Tomoe was the damn sun. She could trip and fall into a bucket of feathers and randomly turn into a chicken and Kaoru would still look at her like she was some sort of ephemeral being.

It still, even with that logic in her mind, didn't ease the nerves. 

"Sis!" Tomoe turned her head towards the doorway. A head of purple hair peeked in the room, "Your friends are here!"

"Ah, tell them I'll be right do-"

"Have no fear, Tomo-chin, for the great Moca-chan is here~" 

The redhead sighed, watching the guitarist bust open the cracked door to fall face first into her bean bag chair. The chair she purposefully kept for Moca (that was deemed 'the Moca-bag' to which Ran had tried to tell her how fucking weird that name was) sat in the corner but not directly in the corner. Reason being the one time it was Tsugumi about had a panic attack thinking Moca suffered a concussion, hitting her head against the wall so hard.

Tomoe joked and said she lost some brain cells. Ran quipped back 'are there even any?'

Himari just cried thinking Moca had died.

Speaking of Himari, the bassist walked into her room and puffed her cheeks out like a chipmunk. Tomoe almost laughed.

"Noh, Moca! Get up! We're supposed to be heading down to CiRCLE!"

"But Hii-chan! The Moca-bag was calling out to me! Saying 'Moca, Moca, come, come~'"

"Please, for the love of all things holy, stop calling it the Moca-bag." Ran leaned against the doorway, her red eyes already tired from having to deal with their crazy friend. Yet Tomoe sees that reserved warmth that only Moca only ever received. She'd never tell Ran that she notices it, knowing the girl would clam up immediately and get all embarrassed. Maybe one day she'd use it as leverage, but not today. 

Moca only grinned widely at Ran. Ran huffed and rolled her eyes. Tsugumi peeked her head around Ako, "Moca-chan, we're going to be late if we wait any longer."

Moca only groaned. Tomoe laughed and put her drumsticks in her bag before grasping the white-haired girl's ankles, "Alright, Moca, off the chair we go."

"Nooooooo! Moca-bag, save me~!"

"Nope, Moca-bag said it's time to leave too. Now up we go!"

"Will you guys stop calling it that?!"

 

"I'm. So. Excited!!" Himari jumped around them, her bass bumping lightly against her back and almost hitting Tsugumi. Tomoe pulled the girl out of the line of fire. 

"Ahah I am too! I'm all fired up now!" Tomoe grinned and just slung her arm around Tsugumi's shoulders. The girl smiled, "Me too! It is the first time all the bands are performing together!"

Ran looked over to the moping guitarist. She sighed, "Moca, get over it already. The bean bag will stay where it always is. Tomoe isn't throwing it away."

"But the Moca-bag is missing me Ran! Our time together was so short~"

"You're being overdramatic."

"Same as always, eh?" Tomoe turned her head and grinned. Ran sported a small smile, "I guess."

Tomoe turned her head back towards the front. She wouldn't tell the girls how nervous she really was. She kept that smile, and laughed when Himari almost ran into the light pole, yet her nerves stayed. Her phone buzzed and she pulled it out of her pocket.

Your Fleeting Prince:  I cannot wait to see you, my love. I am already at our destined location, eagerly awaiting your arrival.♡

Her nerves abated slightly to only be consumed with a large smile and a warm chest. She laughed and rolled her eyes, quickly typing a reply.

Your Kickass Soulmate:  Me and the girls are on the way. Cant wait to see u too.

She felt a presence behind her. White hair covered her arm, "Ohhhh~ This is what has our Tomo-chin grinning so much!" 

"Moca!" She shoved the girl away, "Ever heard of privacy?" 

"Hm?" 

Her phone was all of a sudden out of her grasp and she whipped her head around to see green eyes scanning the messages. "HIMARI!" 

"You cannot just write this!" Himari waved her phone at her. Tomoe tried for her phone only for the pink-haired girl to dance out of her reach, "It sounds so... meh." 

"Meh?!" Tomoe growled and tried again to grab her phone. Himari just pulled her arm backwards, "Yes, meh! I mean, you need to say-"

"'Oh Kaoru! I miss you too! Cannot wait to be in your arms once more!'~" Moca puckered her lips towards the redhead and began to make vague kissing sounds. The girl only recoiled and shoved the face away from her, "Moca!"

"No, no. That's not Tomoe. Maybe like, 'I can't wait to see you too, babe.'" Himari even deepened her voice for effect. The drummer finally snatched the phone out of her grasp. "Okay, this unwarranted relationship advise can stop now." 

"Oh! Or-" 

"Or maybe just stop invading people's privacy." Ran cut Moca off, possibly saving Tsugumi's precious ears. Moca pouted and was about to say something else but was cut off by Tomoe quickly pulling her hood from her hoodie over her head. The guitarist flailed for a second and about fell onto the pavement. Tsugumi only laughed, "You guys. I'm sure Tomoe-chan appreciates the advice, but maybe let's just let her decide what to say?" 

"Thanks, Tsugu." Tomoe decided just to stay beside the brunette, the only one able to stay sane with her and keep the peace. It didn't last long as she, once again, found her phone out of her hands. "MOCA!" 

The guitarist made a run for it, typing something on her phone, and the drummer was fast on her heels. Himari lagged behind, "Wait, Moca, I wanna know what you're typing!" 

"MOCA GIVE ME MY DAMN PHONE BACK!!" 

"Idiots..." Ran sighed and stayed walking with Tsugumi. The brunette laughed, "I guess let's catch up to them, Ran-chan." 

Ran huffed. "It's the same as always with these crazy asses." They began to jog, yet both had their own smiles on their faces despite their words. 

It really was the same as always.

*****

She smiled blissfully at the text she had received.

Your Kickass Soulmate:  Me and the girls are on the way. Cant wait to see u too.

"Udagawa-san?" 

Kaoru looked up from her device to see none other than Hello Happy's resident manager, "Ah, why yes. It is indeed. My beautiful other half." 

Misaki gave a weary smile, eyes tired, but warm nonetheless, "Are they on the way?" 

"As we speak." 

Her phone buzzed once more. She looked down only for her brows to furrow.

Your Kickass Soulmate:  Cant wait for some of dat booty babyyy

"That cannot be Udagawa-san." She glanced backwards to see that Misaki sported a similar expression that she herself wore. She looked back down at the phone as it buzzed and buzzed again.

Your Kickass Soulmate: ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Your Kickass Soulmate: (☞ ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)☞

Your Kickass Soulmate: (つ ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)つ

"Whoever is typing this types at an abnormally fast rate." The brunette just opted to sit beside the confused purple-haired teen. She chuckled slightly at the blush slowly dusting her cheeks the more her phone went off. She then veered her eyes back to the screen.

Your Kickass Soulmate: 👉🍑💦🍒💦

"I... I do not understand the implications behind these, Misaki. Can you assist me?" Misaki snorted rather abruptly and had to cover her mouth to stifle the laughs. Especially with the confused expression on Kaoru's face. It wasn't all that surprising, Kaoru being confused, just the text itself was making her giggle like a schoolgirl. 

"Ah, Kaoru-san. I believe you should ask your girlfriend when she gets here." Misaki stood from her spot and pat her friend on the shoulder, "She will know what it means. Now, I need to go make sure Michelle is ready. You... have fun with that." 

Kaoru watched Misaki leave before looking back down at her phone. She was very much confused. What did these mean? Fruits are very much good and nutritious, but why would they be combined with water and a hand? She wasn't sure in the slightest, and maybe asking Tomoe was the best route to go. She was about to pocket her phone when it went off two more times. She looked down.

Your Kickass Soulmate:  Shit im so sorry about that. Moca stole my phone i swear those were not from me.

Your Kickass Soulmate:  but yea we'll be there soon. i really cant wait to see you too tho. after i finish kicking mocas ass

She chuckled as she could practically hear the redhead saying these words. 

Now this is my darling soulmate, I know for a fact. 

"KAORU-SAN!" The guitarist jerked her head up and saw that the elusive and wonderfully talented Roselia were coming through the doors. Their hyper drummer, Kaoru knew, was the one to say her name, and she smiled and waved, "Ah, Ako-chan! How are you fairing today, little one?" 

"Really good! I'm so excited!! We all are gonna do so good! Fufufu, like the darkness immortal, we will ravage this land and baboom!

"What wonderous descriptions! I must say I was almost taken to another realm with those fleeting words, Ako-chan!" 

"Really?!" Ako grinned and jumped, "Ah Kaoru you are so cool, too! Sis and you together is like the coolest combo-couple ever! I can see the battles that can be fou-" 

"AKO-CHIN!" 

"AH!" Ako turned and began to run towards the orange hair that had emerged from the hall and about leapt onto the bassist, "HAGUMIIIII!" 

Yukina and Sayo nodded towards the guitarist before making their way down the hall, bypassing the hugging couple that were chatting animatedly. Lisa winked at Kaoru before almost jumping onto her soulmate, the vocalist immediately trying to get her off. Rinko shyly tugged at her sleeves and was about to say something before the doors opened. 

"Ah, Rinko-senpai! Hello!!" The brunette vocalist hopped into the room with as much energy as the two embracing in the halls. Rinko blinked and squeaked at the sudden hug attack, "Ah, T-Toyama-san..!"

"KASUMIIIII! You can't just jump on people out of nowhere!!" Arisa yanked the brunette backwards, her bright cherry red soulmate mark shining against her skin. Kasumi whined, letting herself be yanked backwards, and pouted over at her soulmate, "But Arisa, I want Rinko-senpai to feel welcome in the family!" 

"She'll want to leave this dysfunctional family if you keep scaring her like this!" 

"I-It's... okay, Arisa-san. I... really don't... mind." 

"Mind what?" Saaya walked in, Rimi beside her, and she smiled and walked over to Rinko. "Hey, Rinko. Everything okay?" 

"Oh... yes. Everything is okay." Rinko smiled and instinctively leaned into the drummer. Saaya stayed close to her and rolled her eyes at the whining brunette, "Kasumi." 

"But Saaya-chan! Arisa is being mean again!" 

"I was not!" 

"C-Calm d-down everyone!" Rimi tried to say but got distracted at the purple hair across the room. Rimi blushed, "K-Kaoru-san..!" 

"Ah, hello, Rimi-chan. How are you on this beautiful day?" 

"F-Fine, thank you!" Rimi smiled, Kaoru noticing her dusty rose timer, "How are you and Himari-chan fairing together? I must say it must be going splendid, with you two lovely kittens." 

"I-It's going good." The bassist's eyes were no longer shy and closed in, and thinking about the other bassist began to calm her down and warmth shown in her brown eyes, "How are you and Udagawa-san?" 

"We are in the most wonderous place, Rimi-chan. Thank you so much for asking. Ah, how fleeting it is we all have our destined maidens! It must be a sign of the gods!" 

"I-I guess so..?" 

"And Moca-chan wins the race~!" 

"We weren't racing Moca." Kaoru's eyes lit up at the sound of that voice, and beamed at the redhead that was giving an exasperated look towards the white-haired girl. It wasn't hard to see that the two were soulmates, especially given the fact that the guitarist lit up a thousand times more whenever the redhead was in the room. Tomoe glanced from Moca to Kaoru and her cheeks immediately began to dust pink. Kaoru walked over and hugged her tightly, setting a chaste kiss atop her forehead, "Hello, my love. I missed you." 

"H-Hey, Kaoru." Tomoe (one not known for PDA of any sort) wrapped her arms around her and purposefully tilted her face away from Moca so she didn't see the blush tearing through her. "... I missed you too." 

"You.... guys... are... too... fast..." Himari rested her hands on her knees, trying to suck in precious air. Moca only grinned, "If you lost some weight, Hii-chan, maybe you could catch up to us~" 

"...! MOCA!" Himari shot straight up, "I am not fat..! To~mo~e~! Help me!" 

"Moca." Tomoe only crossed her arms and stared at the guitarist. Moca only shrugged. Himari almost was about to cry but got distracted when she saw who was behind Kaoru, "Ah! Rimi!" 

"H-Himari-chan!"

Himari ran over to her soulmate as Ran came out of nowhere and dragged Moca off. Tsugumi went over and began to talk to Tae from Popipa, and Kaoru finally got to be alone with Tomoe, if only for a second amidst this growing crowd. She couldn't help herself, seeing the goddess beside her, and she quickly wrapped her arms around her again. Tomoe squawked. "K-Kaoru!" 

"My apologies. I just could not help myself. It is too much to bear, being away from you." 

"We saw each other yesterday!" Tomoe argued, her cheeks threatening to blush, "You make it sound like it's been weeks." 

"It may as well have been, all the time away from you breaks my heart in two." 

"Ha ha ha." Tomoe grinned and poked Kaoru in the side. The guitarist squirmed but smiled nonetheless. "I'm sure you can make it. Afterall, I gotta do it to, yanno?" 

"Mmm." She just took to bringing her closer and set her chin atop the red hair, taking in the scent of her beloved, "I do not think I can." 

"Wellll you gotta." Kaoru only smiled and chuckled as the redhead began to squirm slightly. Kaoru knew she was not one particular with the affection Kaoru wanted to dote on her every second of the day. Sure, when they were alone it was alright and Tomoe did not particularly mind then. It was just in public Tomoe tended to get a slight bit on the shy side, and tended to squirm and try and break away whenever Kaoru doted on her a little too much. More often than not, the guitarist understood, and gave her space, but times like this she did not seem to want to listen, and Tomoe had to squeeze her side for the girl to let go. 

"Oh." Kaoru then remembered what exactly happened prior, and she pulled her phone out. "I was meaning to ask, Tomoe. What do these particular symbols mean? I mean, I understand them separately of course, but I was a little unsure on the meaning of them put together." 

"U-Uh-" Tomoe blinked, her face turning a surprising shade of red, and she had to cough before lightly pushing the phone down, "Ahaha, maybe... later. Yeah, I'll tell you later, okay?" 

"Sorry we're late!!" 

Pink hair appeared in the door and almost fell over immediately. Aya blushed, "Ahah. Our meeting ran over later than expected. I'm so sorry!"

"Aya-chan. Stop apologizing so much. They understood we would be busy before we agreed to be apart of this, you know?"

Aya smiled and twisted a lock of her hair, "Ahah. Sorry Chisato-chan. I forget."

Purple eyes flit from the vocalist to the two near the doorway. Her smile was polite, one she has worn for the many cameras, yet Kaoru sees the calculating nature behind those eyes. Especially when they flit over to her beloved. 

Kaoru smiled, "Ah if it isn't Chisato. Such a fine day for this fleeting live, is it not?"

Chisato furrowed her brows, but it was then replaced with that cold and calculating smile, "I suppose it is. Hello Udagawa-san."

"Ah, um, hello Shirasagi-san." 

The silence was a little overbearing. Kaoru noticed Aya sneak away from the group and Kaoru wished she could have done the same. She wound her hand in Tomoe's and Chisato flit her eyes to the joined hands and then back up to them.

Well. Kaoru coughed in her hand. This was most certainly on the unpleasant side.

Chapter Text

The playground was busier than usual.

It may have been due to the fact school had just ended and their break had just begun. Or maybe for the fact that a birthday party was commencing just around the corner.

It didn't help though. Not for Kaoru at least. 

She stayed behind the tree, watching all the kids play on the monkey bars and swing sets. She may have joined them if it weren't for the fact that she was... different than others.

She had hit her growth spurt early, making herself taller than all the other girls (and who is she kidding, the boys too) and it didn't help that it accentuated her already lanky figure.

She could already hear the taunts, the jeers, and her eyes welled up at the thought alone.

Purple eyes appeared in front of her.

"Kao-chan. What are you doing behind the tree?"

Kaoru shrunk away, morely due to the fact that some of the girls were watching the blonde converse with her, and she whispered, "... they're staring at me Chi-chan."

"So? We can still play. That's why we're here!"

"..." She slunk more into the shadows, "...they'll make fun of me."

'Kao-chan the Giant.' That was the new term the kids stuck too right now, and she  knew some of those were right there, playing on those swings and monkey bars and slides.

So why would 'Kao-chan the Giant' join them? She wasn't wanted, she never was wanted, but those purple eyes and blonde hair from her only friend were still there. Still beside her. Chisato held out a hand.

"Then I'll protect you. They can't do anything if I'm around!"

"Chi-chan-"

Chisato didn't listen, and she instead took matters into her own little hands and grasped Kaoru's bigger one, "C'mon. I wanna swing. You can push me! Or I can push you!"

"Chi-chan please-"

"I'm gonna be there, Kao-chan." Purple eyes were staring at her. Warm, soft, inviting. A small smile graced the child's face.

"I'll always be here to protect you. Kao-chan."

 

Big, big tears fell down her face.

She hid in the stables, Silver's breath moving the strands of her purple hair. Even with the beautiful creature beside her, it didn't help the worries and fears that consumed her on a daily basis. 

She leaned more into the animal, trying to hide the tears from the world and everybody in it. Right now is when she felt the most lonely, the most forgotten. Tears continued to fall.

"I've had enough of this."

"Chi-chan please-"

"No, Kaoru. I'm busy. I have a job. I can't be there for you every second of the day!"

She called me Kaoru.

She knew it wasn't directed at her. Those snide words and sharp tones. Chisato was under a lot of pressure. She knew this, especially with the amount of roles the actress has acquired within the past couple of years. In doing so though began to strain their relationship. Chisato had began to miss school for her movies, but she always studied and made up whatever she was unable to attend. Her grades were impeccable, but her relationship with Kaoru was not.

She thought that if maybe she would help the budding actress with whatever she needed, homework or lines or even just someone to talk too, that it would lessen the strain on their friendship.

But her bumbling and clumsy ways seemed to only exacerbate the already increasing problem.

She grasped the horse's mane, trying to even her ever increasing breathing. She would never be good enough. For Chisato. She would never be a good enough friend.

She looked down at the book resting atop the hay and gingerly picked it up.

It had caught her eye the other day when she was walking home from school. It reminded her of Chisato, of the proper and prim actress that always smiled for the cameras. 

Maybe... maybe she will become this. Become like this Shakespeare person. Or the characters within his book. Maybe then... maybe then she can help Chisato. Maybe she can finally be accepted in this overly critical community. 

Maybe she can become someone that was not Kao-chan. 

Someone who was not always hiding in the shadows, waiting for someone to save her.

 

The silence was almost overwhelming for her.

She held fast onto the calloused hand, and she averted her eyes from the cold and calculating purple ones. She didn't notice, but Tomoe most certainly did. Her trembling, her fear, her reverting back to Kao-chan. To the small little girl always hiding in the shadows.

Normally, under any other circumstance, she would be fine around the bassist. She would put on that suave and sophisticated facade she had perfected over the years, and no matter the jabs and cold comments that were thrown her way she always let them wash off her back like water.

So why was this so different? 

A squeeze of her hand and that snapped the guitarist out of her reverie. She looked over and instead of seeing cold and calculating purple eyes... she instead saw warm, inviting, accepting blue eyes.

Accepting.

Maybe that's why she held Tomoe so dear. She didn't care if she was flamboyant, clumsy, or mildly on the dense side. She was there for her no matter what facade she was excuding. It made her chest warm, and it also gave her that small bit of courage that she once lacked, all those years ago. 

"How are you and Kanon fairing, dear Chisato? She has only had the most pleasant things to say about you."

The purple eyes flit over to her and that small, polite smile was painted on her face. "Oh we are most certainly doing well. How has... this been? With you and Udagawa-san?"

It was almost snide, the way she addressed Tomoe as if she weren't there. Tomoe bit her tongue, Kaoru knew, and she squeezed that hand to try and help cool down the fiery redhead. 

"We are doing quite well, thank you dear friend." The silence reigned over them again, and quite honestly Kaoru needed to pull Tomoe out of this as quick as possible. For the sole fact she knew the redhead wouldn't be able to hold her tongue much longer.

Thankfully their distraction came in a small body with zappin' blue hair. 

"Oh hey Chisato-chan, what's boppin?" Chisato broke the staring and looked over at her bandmate. "Hina-chan. Where have you been? You left the same time Aya-chan and I did."

"Sorry, sorry." Maya appeared in the doorway, followed by Eve, and she rubbed the back of her neck, "Hina-san got distracted by some guitarist on the street. She proceeded to try and give him some pointers. Needless to say it didn't go to well. Huhehe."

"I found it very bushido!" Eve cheered, as she always did with her cheery personality, "Hina-san was very nice even when the guitarist started throwing stuff!"

"I think it was because Hina-san said that their skills quote on quote 'needed more zap and bop cause it was a snoozefest.'"

"It was though! I was just saying it needed some more pizazz to it! He took it well!" Hina jumped around the group, Chisato already tired of it but nonetheless smiling. Hina looked over and her smile widened, "Oh heyyyy Kaoru-kun! Tomoe-chan! What's the haps?"

"Hey Hina-senpai. We're just talking about how stoked we are for this live show!" Tomoe pumped her free hand in the air, "We're gonna kill this show!"

"Yeah we are!" Hina cheered and high-fived the redhead, and she was soon distracted when she saw the pink hair of her soulmate, "Aya-chaaaan! You went off with Chisato-chan and didn't give me a hug or anything! That ain't zappin!"

"A-Ah Hina-chan!" Aya squeaked as the girl barreled into her, Chisato sighing and going over to the two, the rest of their bandmates following. Tomoe's smile she had on her face fell and she looked at Kaoru before lightly pulling her outside. 

"Okay, what was all that about?"

"Oh? Whatever do you mean, my love?" 

Kaoru knew she didn't buy it, and Tomoe just took to narrowing her eyes and crossing her arms. She leaned into the guitarist. "I mean Shirasagi-san, Kaoru. She looked like she wanted to strangle you. And me. Together. At the same time."

"I'm sure she doesn't wish to kill you." Kaoru sighed and leaned against the wall. She began to pick at the dead skin around her nail. A habit she has loathed to admit she's not been able to overcome. Tomoe's frown lessened and she sighed, leaning against the wall beside her and resting her head atop her shoulder. 

"Look, my bad. I just... didn't like the way she spoke to you... that's all."

"It is sadly one I am used too. And she does not mean any harm, honest. It is just something she is prone to doing, living in the spotlight for so long."

"..." Tomoe still didn't buy it, and maybe before the live wasn't the best of times to pry.

Because it was obvious something had happened between the two that has caused such a wedge to be thrusted between them. Tomoe would ask, sure, but she had a feeling it would take a while. Added that she didn't think she could bear to look at Kaoru with big sad eyes. It would hurt her heart too much. So, to distract her soulmate from the obvious friendship turmoil, she turned to the girl and leaned against her side slightly, "Hey, Kaoru."

"Hm?" The girl lifted her red eyes and Tomoe leaned over to set her lips to her cheek. She pulled back with a large grin, "Let's kick this live shows ass, eh?"

Her plan definitely distracted the guitarist. And, really, she thinks she short circuited the girl, as she couldn't do much but blush furiously and blink at her with wide eyes. Tomoe laughed. Kaoru coughed. "Ah, uhm, yes, let's."

*****

Honestly, those nerves she had prior to getting to CiRCLE all went away. Mostly due to the fact that that thing with Chisato had happened. 

She looked over to the blonde who was at the moment conversing with Kanon. Why was she so... cold to Kaoru? Why was she cold to her? If she wasn't a huge fan of Kaoru like Tomoe has been seeing then why would she be giving her... safe to say bitchy looks? Like she was a protective friend or something? 

Her actions were night and day, and Tomoe didn't know which lane Chisato really was in. 

She hoped honestly it was the latter. She would take the heat any time of day if it meant Kaoru didn't look like a sad little puppy. 

But Kaoru didn't need protecting. She thinks that's honestly something Kaoru prides herself in. Yet at the same time she sees moments where Kaoru looks like she needs it, and Tomoe didn't know what to do in those circumstances. Sure she would fight for her anytime of day, she'd defend her, but is that what Kaoru wanted? 

Gah, this was not something she saw happening. And her conflicting thoughts were about to give her a headache. 

"Sis?" 

She about jumped out of her skin and turned her eyes to the head of purple hair beside her. Tomoe grinned, "Oh, Ako! Great job out there! Your drumming is getting so good!"

"Really?" Ako grinned widely and jumped on the balls of her feet. Tomoe smiled, loving this side of her younger sister. "One day I'll be as cool as you Sis! And be as good as drumming as you!" 

You may already be there. She didn't voice that. No, but she did laugh and ruffle her hair, "Keep going like that and soon you definitely will be!"

Ako beamed up at her, but then the young girl shook her head, as if remembering something, "Wait, no that wasn't what I was coming to you for!" 

Tomoe raised a brow. "Oh? What's up, Ako?" 

"You!" 

Her brow raised, "Me?" 

"Yes, you Sis! You've been spacing out a lot. What's going on?"

Leave it to Ako to find out first. She didn't want Ako to be burdened with her worries. Honestly, it was something so stupid, and getting other people into it would make her feel, well, shitty. Not to mention it really wasn't her place to tell. "I'm fine, Ako. Promise." 

"Are you sure? Cause you've been staring into the wall. You didn't even comment when Moca-chan and Hina-chin were pestering Hi-chan!" 

"I promise Ako, I'm fine." She smiled and ruffled the girl's hair more, earning a huff and a slap on the hand in return. Tomoe only laughed as Ako began to fix her pigtails. 

Hagumi came over and distracted the small drummer, and Tomoe glanced back to the blonde and her soulmate. 

What was going on, Shirasagi-san?

Tomoe made sure to keep face, even during the dinner that Kasumi just had to have with all the other girls. The restaurant employees really almost died and had a mini stroke seeing 25 girls all coming to sit together and eat. 

When everyone started to file out of the restaurant, she was about to go over to Kaoru and see if she wanted to maybe go to the park for a little while, but instead she was met face to face with blonde hair and purple eyes.

Chisato smiled, "Udagawa-san, may we have a talk?" 

Tomoe only raised a brow, but relented nonetheless. "Ah, sure Shirasagi-san."

She looked around for Kaoru but did not find her. She may have been still in the restaurant with Hagumi and Misaki, and honestly she didn't want to go and have this... chat without her knowing. But Chisato was already walking off, expecting the redhead to follow. Tomoe sighed and began to make her way to the bassist. 

"So." Chisato linked her hands behind her as they walked. "You and Kaoru are soulmates?" 

"We are." 

"May I ask why it took so long for you?" Purple eyes flit over to her, "I understand that you two were not together up until recently? Even though you both have known for some time?" 

"That... was mainly me." She wasn't going to lie to her. Partly due to the fact that Chisato would be able to tell (because Tomoe was known to be a terrible liar and the girl acted for a living), but also because the truth would be out anyway. It didn't take a scientist to see Tomoe wasn't the biggest fan of crowds. "I... sometimes have issues with large crowds that want to... see me I suppose. I guess it took me a minute to talk to Kaoru because of all the crowds she's around all the time. I realized though that she'd accommodate. And she has been." 

"That's good." Tomoe couldn't tell if she actually meant it, her tone was so professional. As if she were talking to the cameras. Chisato continued, "Kaoru does tend to draw crowds, however fake the persona may be." 

Tomoe scrunched her brows, not missing the cold undertone to her voice. "Now I wouldn't say it's fake. Sure, she's other things aside from that princely demeanor she puts off, but I wouldn't say it isn't apart of her."

"I would expect you to say that, soulmate."

"I'm sorry, but do you have an issue with me?" Tomoe stopped walking. Chisato did as well but did not turn to look at her. Tomoe crossed her arms, "I see the way you two interact. Now, I don't know what happened between the two of you, but how do I fit into the equation? I have only met you up until recently. What have I done that has you so tore up?"

Shouts of kids were heard in the distance, and Tomoe only just now realized they had ended up near the playground. Chisato still stayed staring ahead. Finally, she spoke, "Tell me, Udagawa-san. What all do you know about Kaoru's past?" 

Her brow raised, she put most of her weight onto her left side, "Uhm, that you two are childhood friends, had a falling out, and somewhere along that line she began to become more outgoing. I haven't really asked."

"So she hasn't told you then."

"Told me what?"

Purple eyes looked at her, then turned back to the playground, "I will let her discuss it with you. Now..." She adjusted the bag on her arm, and turned fully to face the girl, "I believe I have some other matters to attend too, but know this." 

She walked up to Tomoe. The redhead began to feel uncomfortable under the gaze, "Do not trust that new side of her."

The girl walked off. She said one more thing to her, "And, please, Udagawa-san. Do not hurt her either. I may have to talk to you again if that is the case." 

Tomoe feels like she got whiplash, the way Chisato kept changing lanes. She finally spoke up though, "Don't hurt her? Even after you just said not to trust her? What side are you even on, Shirasagi-san?" No reply, and Tomoe continued, "Shouldn't I be telling you not to hurt her?" 

Chisato stopped for a second. It looked like the girl was about to say something, yet the actress didn't say a word and just continued on down the street. Tomoe had to stop herself from saying something else she'd regret. To many emotions were going through her at that moment. Confusion was the main one. Chisato's attitude was really throwing her off, and the words that came out of the actresses mouth at the end made Tomoe feel like they were in some sort of mystery movie.

Yet...

She was also feeling hurt. Angry. Not at herself, not at Kaoru, but at that girl walking away. She felt hurt and angry for Kaoru. And she didn't think that anything like this would be coming up now, so soon into their relationship.

She was going to have to talk to her. There was no way around it. She didn't even know how long she was standing there until she heard her name be called out. She turned to see worried red eyes. Kaoru frowned, "What's wrong, Tomoe?"

"I..." Tomoe sighed and had to pinch the bridge of her nose to try and push back the headache that was already forming. She looked back up to those red eyes.

"I... think we need to talk... Kaoru."

Chapter Text

The tea remained untouched between them.

She had always been a fan of tea. It's variety of flavors, additives, and even it's temperature. It even gave off an air of sophistication to it.

Yet even with all of that in mind her body would not let her consume the liquid in front of her.

Purple eyes, so very different from hers, were gazing at her. Where hers were more calculating and cold in nature, those eyes were warm, kind, and quite be it worried.

Kanon was always the light to her dark, and she was in no way surprised that the gods had chosen the timid girl as her soulmate. 

Yet the girl did not speak. Kanon knew, no matter what she said, that Chisato would open up on her own. No matter what words that came out of the drummer's mouth, the actress would say what she wanted to say in due time. 

Chisato sighed, "I met Udagawa-san today."

Kanon smiled, "She's sweet, isn't she?"

And blunt. Chisato wanted to add but refrained. Bits of their conversation floated into her mind. 

"Don't hurt her? Even after you just said not to trust her? What side are you even on, Shirasagi-san?"

"Shouldn't I be telling you not to hurt her?"

She had no reply for it at the time. For the sole reason that she knew Tomoe was right. No matter what her fickle mind wanted to say at the time, Chisato knew at the bottom of all those worries and calculations that what the redhead said was true.

She had been hurting Kaoru. Intentionally. She still was at a loss as to why she did. Because more out of everything she wanted the girl to be loved, cherished, accepted. Something that she only did when all the other kids began to pick on the purple haired girl. 

Then she had gotten into acting, Kaoru changed, and everything was different.

Everything was different.

"Chisato-chan?" The girl looked up to Kanon who bore a small frown. Worried. Chisato laughed, trying to stave off the war inside her brain, yet she knew, even with all the acting experience, that Kanon would be able to look through it. To find the bitter and lost soul underneath. 

"Did something happen with Tomoe-chan?" Kanon took the lead this time, even though the timid girl seemed a little unsure with her words. Chisato sighed and let her facade drop, knowing only this girl would be cherished to see it. 

"I am afraid so, Kanon." Chisato stirred her cold, forgotten tea and tried to find the words to say. "I... may have been slightly... spiteful... towards her."

"Spiteful?" Kanon's light blue hair spilled over her shoulder as she tilted her head. "How come? Did she do something?"

"I..." She sighed once more, "No. She had done nothing to warrant my behavior."

"Then why were you angry at her?"

"Because..." She stopped, drew in a breath, but even with that she still could not find the words she wanted to say. Kanon reached over the table with her hand and Chisato took it in her own. So funny how their callouses were on different parts. It was so... peculiar. How this pure and honest girl in front of her, who should have the softest hands, were calloused like her own. Kanon frowned, "Chisato-chan."

"Sorry, sorry." She smiled and squeezed the hand. Kanon's frown lessened but remained on her face, "Well how come you are angry with Kaoru-san then?"

She scoffed. Too many things came into her mind at once, squashing the small bits of love she still held towards the girl, "She's bombastic, flamboyant, agitating, moronic, and that's only naming a few."

She glared into the tea in front of her. "She's fake."

She's not Kao-chan.

"I... d-don't think Kaoru-san is fake." When the world saw the stuttering of Kanon, it went away in front of Chisato. Yet at this moment, it was coming back, and she knew that the blue-haired girl was scared of saying those things. Kanon continued, "I... a-agree with her being flamboyant, and s-sometimes a little... p-peculiar. But she seems genuine, Chisato-chan."

"...That is what Udagawa-san said."

"Now I wouldn't say it's fake. Sure, she's other things aside from that princely demeanor she puts off, but I wouldn't say it isn't apart of her."

"Then why do you say it's fake?"

"Because...!" She felt like a repeating voicemail, saying that word over and over again, she glared into the table, "Because that was not how she was when we were kids."

"How was she?"

Kanon squeezed her hand, and Chisato let her mind drift. "She was... timid. Scared. She stuttered a lot and always hid when there were crowds or other kids. She would jump at the sound of a car backfiring. She had a small voice, barely sometimes heard over the raucous sounds of elementary school. She... was genuine. Around me, I suppose."

"She sounds a lot like me, doesn't she?"

She really does. Chisato had never thought of that. How Kaoru when she was younger was so very similar to how Kanon was, is. It really started to put things into perspective. 

"So..." Kanon took her other hand and layed it atop Chisato's, "How come you were angry at Tomoe-chan then?"

"She... she gets to see that side of her. Of the Kao-chan I used to know. She gets to see her stumble and stutter and blush. It hurts that she doesn't think I'm worthy of seeing her truer form anymore."

Kanon smiled, "It sounds like you're jealous, Chisato-chan."

"I am not...!" She looked up and only saw disapproving eyes. She sighed again, "I suppose I am. But it does not mean I harbor feelings-"

"Oh, I know." That smile was still there, and Kanon pat her hand, "She's your bestfriend, Chisato-chan. Of course you are going to feel hurt when she isn't as honest around you as she is with Tomoe-chan. But she is soulmates with her. So of course she's going to be bare in front of her. Afterall, you don't see Kaoru-san getting jealous over us, do you?"

"...no." Because Kaoru is too nice for that. Chisato continued, "...she still is a bit of a dunce though."

Kanon laughed, "She is. But she's sweet too." Her smile dampened, "She's also hurt, Chisato-chan." 

"I know." Of course she knew. When Kaoru tried to hide the hurt, tried to hide Kao-chan, it hurt her too. Yet she never let the other see that. 

"She needs to know, Chisato-chan." 

"I know."

"So...?"

"..." Chisato sighed, "I will speak to her."

Kanon smiled. Chisato added one more thing.

"I will need your help though."

"M-My help...? Fueeeeeeee."

*****

They sat side by side yet Kaoru felt like they were so far apart from each other.

She had no idea what was the matter. What had transpired. All she knew was Maya had told her Chisato and Tomoe had walked off towards the park so she had, of course, went to find them. 

She did not think she would find Tomoe, alone, with a brewing expression on her beautiful face. 

Then she said those words. Those words that made her feel like everything was about to fall down around them, between them. It made her heart almost wither and shrivel away.

The silence was overbearing, so much worse than it was at CiRCLE. Tomoe sighed and Kaoru wrenched her hands tighter. The redhead noticed and lightly took them apart and held one in her own. "Look, Kaoru. I ain't mad at you, so please stop looking like that. It's killing me, yanno?"

"I... I'm sorry." She tried to smile, but what Tomoe supposedly wanted to talk about was still in the air, and she still felt anxious. Tomoe sighed and held that hand fast in hers, "What happened between you and Shirasagi-san?"

Kaoru quirked her brows, "I, uhm, we were in middle school. She had just started acting, and it was beginning to strain our relationship. She was gone more often so I had to learn to defend myself, against those who liked to... for lack of a better word, pick on me." She looked forward towards the playground, "I had to learn to stand on my own two feet, to not have someone always helping me. So I turned to Shakespeare, and...it helped. Though Chisato, for some reason, began to become even more distant after that... and now here we are."

Kaoru turned towards the redhead who was staring ahead as well. "...why the interest?"

"Well... for one, we're soulmates. So I'd like to know all of you, Kaoru. Also though... because of something Shirasagi-san said." 

Kaoru quirked her brows, "What did she say?"

Tomoe was trying to find the words to say, until she finally spoke, "She said... to ask you, about y'alls past. Also... to not... trust this side of you." 

"...ah." Of course Chisato would say those things. It hurt her, always, hearing those things coming out of her childhood friend's mouth. So many blows to the heart and she did not know how much more she could take. Tomoe squeezed her hand. Her sole rock she knew she could lean onto, although the redhead did not know that per say, and Tomoe leaned against Kaoru once more, resting her head atop her shoulder.

"Look, Kaoru, I trust you. You know I don't give a damn if your flamboyant, stuttering, falling flat on your face. I just want you to be happy with yourself, with whatever energy you decide to exude. I don't care, 'cause I know that's you. It's all you. What I don't understand, and what hurts me, is what Shirasagi-san says. How she says it. I wanna know why she's such a bitch to you, Kaoru."

"...I am still wondering that as well, if I am to be honest." It wasn't a lie. She really did not know why Chisato was always so cruel to her. Tomoe held fast onto her though and Kaoru really doesn't think she knows how much this means to her. How much it helps her, knowing she has someone to turn too. Someone who knows all the sides of her, someone who won't judge.

Someone who will accept her for her. 

Amidst this turmoil, she couldn't help but feel warmer at the thoughts.

"You need to talk to her, Kaoru."

She sighed and leaned her head atop the drummer's, "I have tried, Tomoe. She will not speak to me."

"Then be assertive. Just go 'Aye, yo, Chisato. Siddown, we need to have a chat.'"

She couldn't help the laugh that came out of her, "I... do not think that would work, Tomoe."

"Ehhh? Why?"

"For one, that is something you would say, not necessarily what I would. Also... it might be a tad on the aggressive side."

"So? She needs to know this is serious shit."

"And I will... find some other way to speak to her." Tomoe shifted to look up at her. "Promise?"

Kaoru gulped. Morely due to the fact that her face was so close to hers. That all she saw was warm blue eyes and shining red hair. She felt the tips of her ears get hot. "I- I promise." 

Tomoe smiled and slapped the hand she was holding, "Good. You better, cause I don't like seeing you like this. All sad and shit. So don't be going back on the promise either, 'kay?" 

"I will not." She couldn't help the smile on her own face, seeing the protective streak of her girlfriend, and she lightly slapped the hand in hers as well, "I promise to speak to her. However awkward it may be." 

"But it'll be worth it. Promise. We go through this stuff all the time, me and the girls in Afterglow. I can't even count on my hands the amount of times me and Ran have bickered."

"I could not imagine such a thing." She was kidding, of course. Considering Ran and Tomoe were most probably the two with the strongest personalities in their friend group. Tomoe frowned and slapped her lightly, "Hey now, no making fun."

"I would do no such thing."

"Uh huh. Sure."

They smiled and shared a laugh, much to Kaoru's enjoyment. This was something she could never tire of. Being beside this girl. It was something she had thought she'd never experience, but now actually living in it, she never wanted to let go. 

They were broken out of their reverie with Kaoru's phone going off. The girl looked down at the device and gulped.

Chisato: Would you and Udagawa-san be interested in having a luncheon with Kanon and I? It has been awhile.

"..." Tomoe narrowed her eyes at the text, "Matsubara-san totally got her to do that." She looked up and saw Kaoru's wide eyes. She squeezed her hand and tilted the face to look at her, "Is this something you want to do? I know I said to talk to her, but are you gonna be okay with me and Matsubara-san there?"

Kaoru blinked, "...you are okay with going?"

"Of course! I just want to know if you're gonna be okay. I mean, you look like you've seen a ghost Kaoru. And this is only a text message."

Kaoru stared at those blue eyes, and she leaned her forehead against hers, "I... believe I would feel more comfortable if you were there. But I do not want you to do it out of obligation."

"Obligation-? Kaoru, you're my girlfriend. Yea, I'm gonna be there for ya whenever you need me. Go ahead and get that outta your mind, cause now even if you just want it between you and Shirasagi-san, imma crash the party."

Kaoru chuckled. Why she had been worried about Tomoe's feelings of it, she did not know. Cause she knew the drummer would be there for her whenever she needed her. And she would do the same. So she turned her head back towards the device, Tomoe's head atop her shoulder, and she typed out. 

Kaoru: Of course! When are the two of you free?

Chisato: We are both free tomorrow afternoon. Is this adequate for you and Udagawa-san?

Kaoru looked over and Tomoe nodded. She gulped. Then replied. 

Kaoru:  We are both free as well.

Chisato: Splendid. Hazawa Cafe at noon?

Kaoru: Sounds delightful.

She took in a breath. She did not think it will come so soon. Tomoe noticed the impending anxiety and decided to get her mind off of it.

"Alright. C'mon. Up we go."

"T-Tomoe! What...?!" She yelped as the redhead yanked her from her spot on the bench. Tomoe grinned, "We're getting some ice-cream!"

"I-Ice-cream?" She let herself be led away from the bench by the drummer and she was most definitely distracted from her worries.

Considering the sunset was framing the flowing red hair of her soul mate's beautifully. As if she were in a famous painting.

Chapter Text

"This is gonna be so damn awkward." 

She sighed and slumped onto her bed, flopping backwards and letting the garments in her hands fall onto herself and the floor. If she could, she'd bow out of this... luncheon the blonde actress had called it. She would say she was sick and just avoid the whole thing. 

But it was for Kaoru. She'd do anything for her that was for damn sure.

And by doing so meant helping her mend things with Chisato. Although, honestly, Tomoe wasn't sure what she could do. The best she could possibly do was just to... be there for her. If she were to start closing up again, or if she began to become overly anxious. She'd be there for her. 

And it honestly helped herself with her nerves. Knowing she'd be there for Kaoru... helped. 

She had to start getting ready soon though, and just the thought alone made her groan. Loudly. The live yesterday along with practice the day before then even had her muscles sore. 

The door to her room opened.

"Oh? Flicking the bean so early, Tomo-chin? Even that's a little bad for me."

Tomoe threw her jeans at the girl, effectively hitting her square in the face. "Shut up! What are you doin' here anyways?"

Moca grinned and plopped into her chair, "I'm helpin' Tsugu at the restaurant today~"

Tomoe narrowed her eyes, "You mean you're gonna spy on us." Her eyes narrowed even more. "Again." Moca just waved a hand at her, her lecherous grin even wider today of all days. Tomoe felt a headache forming. "Of course not~! Just helping a poor friend in need."

"You know I know there's ulterior motives, Moca." Moca just blinked wide grey eyes at her, "Oh? So Ako-chan and Hagu-chin are gonna have ulterior motives too~?"

"Ako and Hagu- what do you mean ulterior motives too? Just how many are gonna be there?!"

She only got a blinding grin in return. Tomoe rolled her eyes. "Alright freeloader. If you're gonna spy and invade my house, you can at least help me pick out what to wear."

Not many knew this, but Moca was surprisingly sensible when it comes to fashion. Guess it helps being friends with a fashionista like Lisa. Moca only lounged in her beanbag and watched Tomoe pull out various pairs of jeans. Moca snorted, "You have enough jeans to clothe a village, Tomo-chin."

"Shut up, they're comfy!" She threw the jeans at her. Moca just plucked the jeans from her head and tossed them to the side with the other pair. "Do you have anything else that isn't 'tomboy getting a major boner'?" 

"Moca, I honestly do not know how Ran puts up with you."

"It's just my charming personality Tomo-chin~! It probably helps that I have the looks of a goddess and the tongue of-"

Another pair of jeans hit her square in the face. "I'm gonna sew your mouth shut, Moca."

As Moca was opening her mouth to say something else, the two both heard knocks at the front door.

"I'll get it!" Ako's voice resounded from downstairs. Two seconds later and the front door opened. "Oh, hey, Kaoru-san!"

"S-Shit!" Tomoe slammed her door closed and began to scramble, "I'm not ready yet!" 

Moca grinned. Tomoe glared. "Not one word, Moca. Just help me!" 

The guitarist rolled her eyes and immediately pulled out a long skirt and tank top she had been eyeing. She threw them at Tomoe. "Now get ready, Tomo-chin! I'm gonna go entertain our guest~!"

"Moca, don't you dare-!" 

She didn't even get the words out before Moca was out the door and slamming it shut. 

She began to dress like her life depended on it.

It honestly did. Her pride, that is. Cause she knew Moca was gonna be saying some random, crude shit. She was gonna probably have to strangle her if she said any of those things around Ako.

Maybe. 

She was pulling down her tank when she opened her door. It seemed she was in the clear for now. Seeing as Ako was saying something about that game she liked playing with Rinko. Hagumi's excited chatter followed soon after, and Tomoe knew she probably came over with Kaoru. 

So she, once again, began to finish getting ready with as much speed as she could. Brushing her mane and her teeth before going down the stairs. She stopped at the bottom of the stairs.

Tomoe honestly didn't think she could handle the sight in front of her. 

Hagumi and Ako were sharing the loveseat adjacent to the couch, the two animatedly chatting away about something involving the live. Their hands were both akimbo, and the two guitarists were nodding along with their speedy words. Moca sat at the end of the couch with her feet propped on the coffee table, hands busy with some melon bread Tomoe had stashed away just for the glutton, and Kaoru was on the other side looking just...

Tomoe knew her face must've been the color of her hair, seeing Kaoru dressed the way she is. It wasn't that she was overly dressed, mind you, just something Tomoe wasn't expecting. 

Hair down with wisps of it covering her face and falling onto her white button-up. Her black jeans were accentuating her willowy figure perfectly, and she was only just sitting with her legs crossed. Red eyes met hers and Kaoru smiled. "Ah, Tomoe-" She stopped though. Tomoe guessed it was cause she was a blushing mess (which she still hated) but with Kaoru's agape mouth and slight blush she could only assume it was cause of the outfit Moca picked out.

Speaking of the guitarist, she only gave a blinding smile to the two, mouth full of bread. "Should we give you two a minute upstairs?"

Tomoe's blush was gone instantly, instead replaced with a glare she seemed to only give the white-haired girl. "Don't you have somewhere you have to be?"

"Nope~!"

Her eyes were almost shut she was glaring so hard. 

"You look so awesome sis!" Ako interrupted the glaring, smiling widely beside Hagumi, "You look so... so cool!

She couldn't help but let her glare dissipate, hearing her younger sister. She laughed and ruffled her hair, "Thanks Ako."

"But really, shouldn't you guys be heading out?" She directed her gaze to the trio, her arms crossing as she leaned more onto her left side, "Since, y'know, y'all are helping at Tsugu's cafe and all." She glared at Moca upon saying that, knowing this was all the guitarist's doing. Moca only winked and stood. "I guess~ Gotta get ready for grade-A distractions after all~"

"You're only just gonna eat Tsugu's tarts, aren't you."

Moca feigned a look of hurt, going so much as to set her hand atop her chest, wide eyes and all, "Why, Tomo-chin, such rude accusations you're throwing at dear ole Moca-chan." 

She rolled her eyes, "Yeah, yeah, okay. I'm terrible. Now out you go." She began to shove the girl out the front door, Hagumi and Ako bouncing along. 

"See you at the cafe Tomo-chin!" Hagumi cheered as the three bounded out the door. Tomoe only shut the door and sighed, letting her head rest atop the hard wood. This was gonna be just... great. 

Arms circled her waist, and that comforting warmth encompassed her back. Purple hair spilled over her shoulder, "Hagumi and the others are helping at the cafe today?"

Tomoe only grumbled, turning in the embrace to properly rest her grieving head atop her soulmate's shoulder, "Unfortunately."

Really just unfortunate cause of Moca. She really didn't mind the happy duo. It was just the bane of her existence she was not to happy about.

Kaoru only hummed, fingers lightly going through her red hair and she couldn't help but let all the anger and anxiety wash away. Sure she was nervous, a little agitated too, but being near Kaoru helped. The guitarist set a kiss atop her head, "I suppose we should begin to make our way there. As much as I would like to stay here..."

Tomoe lifted her head and smiled, setting her forehead against Kaoru's, "I guess. We got this though, Kaoru."

She sent her signature grin Kaoru's way and the girl blushed lightly before shaking it off, opening the door for Tomoe, "After you."

 

"Ne, Kaoru?"

Red eyes flitted over to her as they meandered down the sidewalk. It was about a 5-10 minute walk to Tsugu's family's cafe, and something was gnawing at Tomoe. "How are you feeling? About lunch?"

"I feel..." She wound her hand in Tomoe's as she spoke, "Strangely calm. I suppose it has to do with the fact that you are here, afterall."

She stayed staring at the female, a frown present on her features. That's not it. Kaoru squirmed underneath the stare, "...Tomoe?"

"...You're lying."

"Wha...?" Kaoru was momentarily stunned, her usual demeanor thrown at the words that came out of the redhead's mouth. She recovered ever so slightly before responding, "Whatever do you mean, my love?"

"I mean-" Tomoe leaned into the girl, pointing at her red orbs, "Whenever you talk, whether it's serious or not, you've gotta spark in your eyes. When you lie..." Tomoe gestured with her free hand, "No spark." 

"I... see..." Kaoru's brows were furrowed. Not many could tell when the guitarist was lying, but leave it to her soulmate to hit the nail on the head. Tomoe cocked her head, knowing there was something going through the girl's mind, and spoke up, "Now, when you act that's a different story. You're in your element. When something makes you uncomfortable though... it shows." She squeezed her hand, "Now, if you don't wanna talk about it, that's fine. But I just want you to know I'm here for you. You can be nervous around me if you want. I ain't judging." 

Kaoru sighed, letting the facade fade (she honestly wondered why she tries, knowing the drummer could easily see through it), "I understand. However, you are making the nerves better. They are still here though, slightly." 

"Is there anything I can do to make it better? Before we get there?" 

The purple-headed girl looked as if she were going to say something, and Tomoe didn't miss the slight blush that dusted her features before shaking her head, "I... do not think so. You being here with me is good enough."

Tomoe knew there was something she was hiding, or maybe didn't want to say. Honestly though, with the lunch they were about to have, she didn't push. Rather, she just squeezed that hand tighter and let their conversation fade out into a comfortable silence. Sure, it will be slightly uncomfortable when they get to the cafe...

But as long as they have each other... well... Tomoe supposes that's good enough.

No.

She knows that that's good enough.

*****

There were not that many people there at the cafe. 

Kaoru stayed beside Tomoe, almost glued onto the drummer, and felt her heart pounding in her chest. When she had arrived at Tomoe's abode, being around all the others was actually quite calming. Listening to Ako's musings about her adventures in NFO, Hagumi excitedly chatting about band rehearsal and the live, even Moca's comical and slightly crude comments. 

Tomoe though... Tomoe always helped the most. Just her presence alone was calming, and that did not even factor in the touches, the smiles, the words of encouragement. 

She honestly did not know why she was blessed with such a beautiful creature to call her own. Her soulmate.

Yet even with all of that, the closer they got to the cafe, Kaoru felt those nerves alight. She felt that same anxiety that she felt all her childhood come back to haunt her. Yet she knew this was something that needed to be done. She needed to know why Chisato did not like to associate herself with Kaoru any longer.

She needed answers. 

"Oh! Tomoe-chan! Seta-senpai!" 

Tsugumi walked up, apron fixed along her waist, and she smiled serenely at the couple. "You're early!" 

"Yeah, well-" Tomoe laughed and scratched the back of her neck, "We had some... company at the house." Kaoru followed Tomoe's pointed glare to the three in the kitchen, knowing that the redhead's glare was fixated on only one of the three back there. Tsugumi laughed, "I'm sorry, Tomoe-chan. I didn't know Moca-chan would come to your house before coming here." 

"Is Eve not working today?" 

Tsugumi shook her head, "No. She has a photo shoot to do. That's kinda why I asked Moca-chan and Hagumi-chan."

"And Ako?" Tsugumi laughed, "That was Hagumi-chan. We have a reservation later this afternoon, so it's going to get crowded. So the more the merrier!" 

Tomoe couldn't help the smile. "You're too sweet, Tsugu." 

Tsugumi waved her off, "Enough about me! Let's get you two your table." 

Kaoru twisted her hands together as they slid into their booth. It was so much different last time when they were here with Sayo and Tsugumi. She supposes it was because it wasn't her past being dredged up back then. That she was not having to confront what has been swirling through her mind all these years. 

She began to pick at the skin around her nails. A hand covered them, as if guarding them from the onslaught. "Hey." 

Kaoru felt her face be turned and instead of her shaking hands she saw concerned blue eyes. "It's gonna be okay, alright?" 

I wish it would... 

It was almost suffocating, the amount of anxiety washing over her. It was only ten more minutes until noon, and every second closer made her lungs constrict. That hand that was atop hers moved and cupped her cheek. Tomoe leaned forward until their foreheads were together. "Kaoru. Look at me." 

She hesitantly looked up and those eyes were so blue, so concerned, that guilt began to mix with the anxiety. Tomoe kept both hands on her cheeks, and she felt her rub circles in the creases she knew were by her eyes. "Take a deep breath, Kaoru. Okay?" 

Tomoe moved one hand and layed it atop Kaoru's chest, "Deep breath through the mouth, out through the nose." She felt her chest relax from it's constricting prison, instead being filled with a warmth that only the drummer elicited out of her. The drummer leaned closer until their noses touched, and Kaoru knew the tips of her ears were red with how close they were to one another.

Just a few more centimeters and our lips would be joined.

The redhead broke her out of her musings. "I know this is stressful. Hell, I feel stressed for you. But this will be for the better, Kaoru. I know it feels like it isn't now. But it will. I promise, okay?" She felt Tomoe's breath wash over her and she found herself becoming lost in those blue orbs again, the nerves and anxiety all washing away, "If you start to panic, squeeze my hand, lean into me. Hell, randomly shout that you're a damn beluga whale for all I care. And I will find a way to distract, okay? Or..." Tomoe rolled her eyes and sighed... loudly, "Dare I say, have Moca do some distracting. Regardless, I'm here for you, okay?"

As she was opening her mouth to reply, every fiber of her being telling her yes I know you are thank you for being amazing, it all was cut off when a crisp and collected voice made her rear backwards.

"Oh? I hope we aren't interrupting anything." 

Kaoru looked up and saw two pairs of purple eyes looking down at them. She began to squirm. Tomoe was unfazed and grinned at the two, "Nah, y'all ain't interrupting anything. Glad you could make it!" 

Chisato raised an eyebrow before sliding in, "You two are early." 

"Ahah, well, I wanted to chat with Tsugu before so we got here just a little bit early." Kaoru noticed she didn't mention the fact of the three volunteers, but she supposes that there really wasn't any need to explain, seeing as Ako and Hagumi were about to bounce off the walls on the other side of the cafe. 

Kanon smiled at the bouncing duo before sliding in beside her soulmate, "H-Hello Tomoe-chan, Kaoru-san." 

"Hello, Kanon. I trust rehearsal wasn't too taxing today? I know our dear Kokoro wanted to do an abundance of songs." 

"O-Oh, I'm fine." Kanon smiled, "But thank you for your concern, Kaoru-san."

The silence afterward was heavy with awkward tension. Kanon let out a small sigh, already uncomfortable (like everyone else at that table too). "Fuee....." 

"Well, hellloooo ladies~" 

Tomoe stiffened, turned, and glared. The girl only gave her shit-eating grin in return. "Moca." 

The girl blinked; wide, innocent, and lazy, before she drawled, "What, Tomo-chin?" 

The glare intensified, the drummer refusing to answer. Moca's smile got wider, as if she read the redhead's mind, "I'm just helpin' Tsugu, Tomo-chin. I gotta get your drinks to you while Tsugu helps in the kitchen!" 

"Now." Her grin with wide and carefree, as if she didn't sense the tension building in the air, or the look of murder in her friend's eyes, "What do y'all want to drink~?"

Moca leaned into Tomoe, whispering, "I know what you want to drink, Tomo-chin. Some of that Seta pu-" The redhead slapped a hand over the mouth and glared through the blush, "One more word and I'm calling Ran." 

Moca pouted, "Awww~ You're no fun~" 

"Gettin my phone out now." 

She even held the device up for further threatening.

"Fine... meanie~" She huffed, taking their orders before walking to the back. Tomoe put her device up as the actress cleared her throat. "I surmise you two have had a good day?" 

"We have had a most wondrous day." Kaoru smiled through the nerves, "Kanon and I had a wonderful practice, and Tomoe and I have had a lovely afternoon walk together." The guitarist cocked her head to the side, "How about you two? Did you have a fine day, Chisato?"

"Oh, yes, a most pleasant day." The smile was, once again, calculating, cold, and Kaoru almost shivered under the intensity of the stare.

Poor Kanon looked as if she were going to faint.

A loud bang in the back diverted their attention though. Someone yelped and Tomoe almost leapt up to her feet. 

"Ako?!"

The redhead looked over to her, and Kaoru knew she was making sure it was alright before she ran back there. She squeezed her hand and smiled at her. How could she keep her away from checking on her little sister?

Tomoe nodded with a smile before sliding out of the booth and running to the kitchen.

"Ako! Are you okay?"

"S-Sis..."

Chisato nudged Kanon to which the drummer jumped and hopped up to her feet, "I-I'm going to see if they need help." Kanon about tripped over her own feet as she sped-walked away, Kaoru not missing the small 'Fue~' coming from the small drummer.

The guitarist gulped as she realized what had happened.

She was now alone. With Chisato.

She veered her eyes to the purple ones staring at her. Chisato laced her hands atop the table, "I was hoping we could talk, Kaoru."

Chapter Text

"I was hoping we could talk, Kaoru."

"O-Of course." Scrounging up every bit of courage she had left, she put on that suave smile, the one she had perfected after so many years, "What about, my kitten?"

The smile that was once on the actresses face was long gone, and instead a harsh frown marred her features. "That. I would like to talk about that."

Kaoru blinked. Had she said something wrong? Surely not, she was doing what she was known to do. It was not anything uncommon, but yet seeing those eyes that had a hint of fire in them told her otherwise, and she coughed into her hand, "Ahah. I do not know what you mean, dear Chisato. It is as Shakespeare once said-"

"Okay, stop."

Her hand was midair, mouth still open, as she almost shrank back at the glare pointed her way. 

"This... this stupid... farce is out of control Kaoru."

"...farce...?" Kaoru honestly had no clue as to what was farce. Chisato though sighed and rubbed her face, a surprisingly normal thing for the prim actress to do, but yet she knew that something she was doing was setting the bassist off. 

"Yes, farce! This stupid persona you've decided to don. It's absurd."

"I... honestly do not know what I do that is a persona, Chisato. Would you care to enlighten me?" Her confusion, it seemed, deterred her from becoming overly anxious. From reverting back. Although Kaoru was unsure of why that was the case, but her mind was too engulfed with figuring out what she did that was so... fake?

There was nothing out of the ordinary about her demeanor, she was sure of. Chisato only groaned, "You are so... so vexing."

Her mind immediately went back to their younger years, Chisato almost saying those exact words to her one day in the halls of their middle school. That day... that day was the day that their relationship had changed. For the worse of course. 

"I... I apologize." Her whisper was hardly heard over the loud voices in the kitchen. Over the loud beating of her heart. Chisato sighed and straightened up, "Kanon told me to be... nicer... and it seems I am not doing a very good job at it."

"I-It is alright."

"No, Kaoru, it's not." 

She finally looked up to those purple eyes and it seemed it didn't hold near as much malice in them as they once did. "Look, Kaoru, when we were children... you used to be... different."

She blushed upon remembering how she was, but Chisato continued, "You used to be scared of everything, had a small little voice, and always hid behind me or whatever object you could hide behind. Well... I suppose it is not used to because I know you are still in there... somewhat. What vexes me though, is this change in you. You are not what you once were, Kaoru."

She couldn't help the quirk of her brows. Sure she was not... fully Kao-chan any longer, but why would that anger Chisato? The anxiety was washing away, and she could feel herself building up courage she once lacked. "I am still me, Chisato. I may not be who I once was, but everyone changes. It is one of the many fleeting things in life."

"That's the thing!" Kaoru flinched at the raise of the voice, the slam that shook the table, and Kaoru had to blink at the mistiness in the bassist's eyes, "You changed."

"So did you, if I recall."

"Because I started acting, Kaoru. Not just something I did on a whim."

Anger slowly began to build up in her. Like an ebb and flow through the air, it slowly began to encompass her. How could she say it was on a whim? "You say I changed because I just up and decided to?" The tears in Chisato's eyes seemed to just transfer over to Kaoru. No longer in purple eyes, but in ones so red like the anger roiling through her, "Chisato, do you recall what the kids once called me when we were children?"

When Chisato was going to answer, Kaoru just continued, "Let me enlighten you. Kao-chan the Giant. And do you honestly think that was the first name they decided to come up with? I can list many more for you if you'd like." Chisato fell silent. Kaoru continued, honestly unsure of what spurred her to defend herself to her childhood friend. She supposes it was because of the redhead in the back, the one who gave her the courage to stand for herself. "I... 'changed' as you like to call it, because you were becoming distant. Of course I knew it was your profession, and I was never more than supportive of you. I tried to help anyway I can. But you began to get busy. You were not around, so now those children who refrained from saying things because of the blonde girl defending me could say whatever they liked.

Now I am not saying that to place blame on you. But I want you to know that I changed because I had to. Do you honestly think I would be better off if I let those children bother me? Continue to heckle me?"

I also changed for you.

Yet she did not voice that. She honestly did not know if she could say anything else. That anger was going away, and she began to feel jittery all over. That adrenaline was doing a number on her and she could feel her composure going away with that anger. Chisato was silent. As if processing the many words that Kaoru had spoken. She finally opened her mouth, "I... honestly did not think about that."

She about opened her mouth and retorted but refrained. It was not the right thing to do. Because she knew the words that would escape her would do more bad than good. 

"I suppose... my anger, which Kanon pointed out to me, is morely for the fact that I wasn't there. When you changed. When you grew up. We didn't grow up together like we were supposed to, Kao-chan."

It was... rare to see this side of Chisato. So vulnerable. Honest. Kaoru felt her heart wrench. "I suppose that is life though, dear Chisato. It is fleeting. We could not control it."

"I suppose not."

The silence wasn't overbearing like before, instead it was almost comforting, not having to relive a past that Kaoru would like to not relive. 

Their companions seemed to have impeccable timing. "Are... we okay over here?" 

Kaoru looked up, and never was happier to see those blue eyes. She cleared her throat before nodding, "I-uhm-yes. We are alright over here." Kaoru leaned to look onto the kitchen, "How is Ako-chan?"

"Oh, she's fine." Tomoe laughed, "She accidentally touched a hot pan and it dropped from her scare. The burn isn't bad or anything. Tsugu has got some ice on it though just in case."

"That is good to hear, that it is not worse than it could be of course."

"Oh! Right." Tomoe set the drinks down, Kanon helping with the rest, "Snagged these from Moca before she comes barrellin' back over here." 

They smiled in thanks as the two slid back into the booths. Kaoru sunk into Tomoe, never happier to see the girl. Tomoe must have sensed her relief as she grabbed her hand and squeezed it, sending a slight smile her way.

Chisato then cleared her throat, Kaoru looked up hesitantly. 

"I... believe I owe you an apology." Kaoru noticed her gaze, and it was not directed towards her. Rather, it was directed to the girl sitting beside her.

Tomoe raised a brow, "Eh? What for?"

"For my..." Chisato stirred her tea, "Behavior, yesterday. It was wrong of me to act in such a way to you. You have done nothing wrong. For that, I apologize."

Tomoe only laughed, taking a small sip of her drink. "Nah, you're fine. We all got issues we're dealing with, yanno? Sometimes it gets the better of us. I get it."

"But still, it was rude of me to act in such a way because of my resentments. You did not deserve that."

Chisato may be a lot of things, but she always owned up to her mistakes. That was one of the things Kaoru greatly admired about her childhood friend. 

"Like I said, we all lash out on others at times without meanin' too. Hell, I did that to Tsugu one time and almost wanted to die, snappin' at someone so damn precious." Tomoe shook her head, "She's so pure, she never even got mad at me. I felt like dirt shit for awhile though." 

"I can imagine." Chisato held Kanon's hand fast in hers as she began to speak up one last time. "But, really, Udagawa-san, I... will tell you the truth. I was... envious, over your relationship. To an extent of course."

That had both girls raise their eyebrows, yet Kaoru was beaten to it as Tomoe spoke up, "Jealous?"

Chisato nodded, "Yes. Kaoru was once a shy and timid girl, and she... never shows that side to me anymore." Kaoru's throat closed. When did she ever...? The guitarist blinked, "...you did not say that earlier, Chi-chan."

Chisato shrugged, a small smile playing on her lips at the old nickname, "I did not. But it is true. I felt... hurt, that you did not want me to see your truer form anymore. Then I see you show that side to someone else and I felt... envious."

"I..." Kaoru really had no words. What was there to say? Chisato only shrugged and gave a small laugh, "Enough of that, though. Let's carry on to more pleasant things, yes?"

*****

"Well that went good."

They sat at the bench they were sitting in the day prior, looking over the playground and the laughter of kids rang in the air. Kaoru chuckled, "I suppose it did."

"You think your friendship is better? Then before?" 

She watched the girl open and close her mouth, deciding what words to say. Kaoru finally said, slowly, "I believe... it is on the road to being mended. We still have some work to do, if we are to go back to how we used to be. Or rather, as close as we used to be."

"Well, good. I'm glad." Tomoe just leaned into the girl. She felt relieved that the two were able to hash it out... but still she felt bad for not being able to be there more. "Listen, Kaoru, I'm sorry I wasn't there for you the whole time. Like... during your chat with Shirasagi-san and stuff."

Tomoe noticed the confusion in the girl's eyes, those purple brows quirking, "Why are you apologizing? Your sister had injured herself."

"Yeah, but still. I came to support you... and I feel like I kinda crapped out on that front."

"Tomoe." Kaoru shifted more to look at her, and the drummer watched as the girl set her hands atop her shoulders, "You were, quite honestly, the sole reason I was able to converse with Chisato the way I did today. Knowing you were only a room away helped me build up that courage that I lacked so long ago." She brushed some of Tomoe's hair to the side and tucked it behind her ear. She couldn't help the blush at just that simple touch. But also maybe because of the words that her soulmate was pouring out to her. 

"You are my courage, Tomoe. I hope you can see that."

"I dunno about that, Kaoru. You were pretty damn courageous and confident before we met too."

Kaoru shook her head, "No. That was an image that I put on. You Tomoe gave me the courage. The girl inside. It was all you. How can I make you believe me?"

Tomoe shrugged. She was never one able to really... handle compliments well. It just seemed like she didn't deserve it half the time. But yet, she supposes that may just be her being silly. But she really couldn't help it at times. Kaoru's eyes lit up as if a lightbulb just went off in her head. "I think I have an idea to get you to believe me."

Tomoe couldn't help but raise an eyebrow, "Oh? And what's that." 

Kaoru leaned closer until their foreheads touched. Tomoe blushed at the close proximity. Kaoru smiled, so small, so pure. Tomoe felt fuzzy as Kaoru whispered. "This."

Kaoru leaned closer and closer and Tomoe swore she could feel her heart beating in her chest. Their noses touched, and her wide eyes just stared as the guitarist slowly closed the distance until their lips were a hairs breadth away from each other. Red eyes looked into hers and Tomoe swore there was more of a spark in them than ever before. 

Kaoru snaked a hand to the nape of her neck and lightly helped Tomoe close the distance.

Until their lips finally joined.

It was a gentle dance between them, almost as if exploring. Kaoru tightened her hand on her neck and Tomoe just closed her eyes and sunk into the feeling, her hands instinctively resting on the girl's shoulders.

She could feel Kaoru's heart beating just as hard as hers as the girl hugged her closer on that park bench. 

It felt so... right. Being with her, kissing her, holding her. Tomoe honestly never had felt so complete until this moment.

Kaoru was the first to pull away and she could feel the fingers working in her hair. That smile almost had Tomoe die with it's purity. A light blush was encompassing both of them as Kaoru whispered, "Was that convincing enough?"

Tomoe couldn't help the shrug and grin, quickly retorting. "Ehhh. I may still need more convincing."

One slender brow raised before that smile that was so pure got wider, "Oh? If you say so then." 

Tomoe was the one to close the gap this time and it was almost as if all the sound and sights went away.

As if they were the only two in the world.

Chapter Text

It has been two weeks since she and Chisato had reconciled. Yet... it was still not how it once was. How would it? When two friends who had such a chasm thrusted between them finally had a chance to speak about it, all these years later.

She hated to admit it, but she still was a little anxious around the actress, and Chisato still had some work to do with her... attitude, towards her. It was going to be a long road, but at least it was on the way to being mended. Kaoru really could not ask for much else, knowing what the alternative would have been.

She glanced downwards and she felt her chest warm at the sight. It was one of the only days the two had been able to acquire and spend some alone time together. With school picking up and clubs becoming more busy... not to mention band rehearsal and any other duties the two had to fulfill.

It was taxing, not being able to spend as much time with Tomoe as she had hoped, but being here, alone, made it worth it she supposes. The red hair of her soulmate was splayed across her lap, those blue eyes steadily closing without wanting too. Her smirk stayed present on her face as she watched Tomoe fight a losing battle with her eyelids. Yet, through that, she saw the turmoil hidden within them. Like she was at war in her own mind, or thinking deeply about something. She was not sure.

"My love?"

Tomoe turned her head to look up and Kaoru smiled at those blue eyes, not as cloudy as before, yet she still can see the sleep ever present in them. She brushed her nimble fingers through her red hair and the drummer was once again fighting her eyelids. "Hm?"

"You seemed to be deep in thought."

"Ah, it was nothing." Tomoe smiled from Kaoru's lap, the girl never ceasing from her work. "Just thinkin about our upcoming rehearsal is all."

Kaoru could tell it was not the whole truth. Tomoe's best and worst quality was her honesty, and when she lied it tended to show. She did not press, not when they had the day to themselves, so she instead pressed another topic instead, "You seem tired." 

"Wha? N-No. I'm fine!" 

"Mhm." The movie they had chosen was only background noise as Kaoru leaned down and set one finger below Tomoe's right eye, "Yet I still can see the bags forming underneath your beautiful eyes." 

She knew what all Tomoe had to do this morning (even though Tomoe didn't necessarily know that). Hagumi had mentioned it surprisingly. Ako had forgotten some music sheets so Tomoe had to run down to CiRCLE and take them to the small drummer. Not to mention the day prior she had her part-time job, taiko practice, and rehearsal as well. So the sleep she was hoping to get was ousted when Ako needed help. 

Tomoe opened her mouth to interject but Kaoru shifted her finger to rest on her lips, "Hush. I know what you will say. You are tired, my love. Get some sleep." Tomoe frowned, "But we finally gotta day to ourselves, Kaoru. I wanna enjoy it." 

"And you will. As you said, we have a whole day to ourselves. One hour of rest will be alright, I assure you." She leaned down and set a gentle kiss atop her lips. Still after two weeks it always felt like their first. As if electricity coursed through the both of them, leaving them unaware of the world around them. "Now rest." 

"But your legs will get tired-" 

"Then let's do this, hm?" She gestured for Tomoe to sit up before she moved to where she was laying atop the couch. She shifted to where she was more comfortable, head propped on the throw pillow, and she smiled and patted her chest. Her smile got wider at the small blush dusting the drummer's features, "I-uh-" 

Kaoru only chuckled and just took to yanking the girl down to her. Tomoe yelped as she fell atop the guitarist. The girl began to try and sit up but Kaoru's hand atop her head deterred her, "It is fine. We are alone, now get some sleep." 

She could feel the frown against her collarbone, but once she began to kneed her fingers in that long hair, that frown slowly began to recede and she heard her girlfriend grumble, "One hour." 

She smiled, "One hour. Then I will wake you."

As the seconds passed, Tomoe's breathing began to slow and even, and that frown was gone completely as she rested atop the guitarist. Kaoru never ceased her movements, continuing her journey through her long hair, and she continued to look down and watch that resting face. Those worries were slowly receding away from the drummer as she got much needed sleep, and Kaoru honestly wished the girl would open up more to her. 

Not that she did not, mind you. Yet another quality of Tomoe's that was so amazing yet taxing all at the same time. She always put others first. No matter who it was or what they had done. She had seen it herself. Whether it was Ako forgetting music sheets or Moca forgetting her bread in the classroom. Tomoe always made sure others were happy before herself, and when it came to her feelings... 

Not the feelings that she exuded or spoke of, no, her honest and true feelings. Sometimes they took a little prodding to get too. Again, Kaoru loved that about her. She loved that ever-sacrificing side of her. Yet she sees the toll it takes on her beloved, and she could not help but sometimes feel... slighted, that Tomoe was not completely honest with her. 

But that would be for another time... discussing those things. Because today, this was for them and only them. No outside disturbances mattered today. All that mattered was being with the one she cherished most, so she will keep these worries to herself for just a little while longer. 

And besides, seeing the resting face against her chest, it made those worries go away, if only for a little while.

*****

She. Was. So. Tired.

Which was not that uncommon. Sure, she made sure to get the appropriate amount of sleep (...most days), but with all she did during said day... it could get tiresome. Quick.

Now that wasn't to say she didn't love doing what she was doing. She loved helping Ako with homework, or volunteer downtown whenever her elders needed the assistance. Just that it sometimes got the better of her. Physically.

She was not near as bad as Tsugu on that front, but she was pretty damn close. At least, the closest in her group of friends. But none necessarily knew that. Sure, they knew all she helped out with, but none really knew how it affected her sleep. Well, Tomoe's excluding her damn girlfriend out of that particular equation. 

It was pretty funny, how they could both read each other like an open book. She guesses that's one of the bonuses with soulmates (which, to be completely honest, all of it were bonuses). No matter how long they knew each other, they could still read one another like the back of their hand. Hell, sometimes Kaoru picked up on Tomoe's dishonesty or feelings before even Ako, and that was saying something. 

So it didn't come as a complete surprise when Kaoru noticed how tired she was. She tried to hide it, but she knew how bad of a liar she was. So when Kaoru practically forced her to take a quick nap, she tried to be stubborn sure, but that girl was pretty damn convincing with those freaking gorgeous red eyes (that always seemed to get a little bit bigger when the guitarist really wanted something). 

She honestly did not realize how tired she was until she was lulled to sleep by Kaoru's heartbeat. She also didn't realize just how hard she would sleep until she woke up and about had a massive heart attack thinking the entire day had gone away. 

"It has only been 50 minutes, Tomoe." 

She shifted so she could look up to glazed over red eyes. It seemed that Kaoru almost had fallen asleep, given the droopiness of her eyelids. Tomoe yawned and grabbed her phone off the coffee table, making sure Ako was doing alright before putting it back down. 

She had to roll her eyes at the messages on her screen.

Afterglow Hoes

mocatastic:  boo bitches. main ho has got a ques

Ran: What Moca.

mocatastic: so i got to thinkin when i was gettin some bombass bread rite?

mocatastic: so im waitin in line like i normally do then a thought hit me

mocatastic: since i was waiting for the waiter... am i not the waiter?

Ran: ...

Ran: Why did they make you my soulmate

mocatastic:  Σ(°ロ°)

Hey, Hey, Hoh!: wtf moca

Hey, Hey, Hoh!: obviously u wouldnt be a waiter

Ran: Thank you, Himari.

Hey, Hey, Hoh!: u would be a *waitress*

Ran: ...

Ran:  I take back my previous statement.

Hey, Hey, Hoh!: ლ(¯ロ¯"ლ)

mocatastic:  dont listen to her Hii-chan

mocatastic: she just a hater. 

mocatastic:  haters gonna hate

Ran has left the group chat.

mocatastic has added 'Ran' to the group chat.

Ran:  I hate you.

mocatastic has changed 'Ran's name to 'fuckahthemocah'

fuckahthemocah: Wow. I'm genuinely surprised.

fuckahthemocah: I honestly thought I couldn't hate you more. And I can.

mocatastic: u luv this booty, admit it.

fuckahthemocah: Making it very hard too. 

mocatastic: awwwww Ran u admitted it. u luuuuuv me  (ノ´ з `)ノ

fuckahthemocah: I hate you.

mocatastic: So mean~ tomo-chin, stop makin out w ur tall glass of H20 and help meee

Taiko God: No

mocatastic:  Σ(°△°|||)︴

mocatastic:  ...

mocatastic: so u admit ur makin out w ur bae huh?

mocatastic: i can see it now

mocatastic:  ( • )( • )ԅ(≖‿≖ԅ)

Taiko God: t( -_- t )

mocatastic: (;﹏;)

mocatastic:  (╮°-°)╮┳━━┳ ( ╯°□°)╯ ┻━━┻

Taiko God:  (メ ̄▽ ̄)︻┳═一

mocatastic:  ┬─┬ノ( º _ ºノ)

mocatastic:  (oT-T)尸

Taiko God:  (⌐■_■)

fuckahthemocah: I am in a village of idiots.

mocatastic:  ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

fuckahthemocah: And you're the damn leader.

mocatastic(っ˘̩╭╮˘̩)っ

fuckahthemocah: Will you *stop* replying with just emoticons?!

 

She had to put her phone away. Honestly for the main purpose that she was sure she was going to strangle Moca through the phone... if Ran didn't beat her to it. She felt her girlfriend's chest vibrate and she turned to see Kaoru snickering at the messages on her phone. Tomoe rolled her eyes again, "Yeah, Moca's bein' Moca." 

"I can see that." Mirth filled those crimson eyes and Kaoru's lips curled upward. God, Tomoe could never get used to see that. The small smile that she knew that she only received. She put her phone to the side before she readjusted on the couch, folding her arms and tucking them underneath her chin as she looked at the purple-haired girl, "So. What else you wanna do today?" 

"Hm... I suppose I am indifferent." Tomoe felt those calloused fingers work through her hair again and she only grinned at the guitarist underneath her. "Just being with you is more than enough." 

She rolled her eyes again, huffing a laugh before she sat up, straddling the girl in the process, "Oh, c'mon. There's gotta be something you wanna do." 

"I..." Kaoru seemed to be having a mild break from reality. Tomoe started to chuckle seeing the dazed expression on her face, coupled with a blush slowly tearing through her. The girl finally got enough of her senses back and coughed into her hand, "I... suppose some coffee would be nice." 

Tomoe raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms, "Coffee? Just coffee?" 

Kaoru blinked, "Is there something wrong with that?" 

"Well, no. I just know there's more to it is all." Tomoe leaned back down and resumed her position, "So, what is it?"

"Well..." Kaoru almost seemed... embarrassed? Tomoe could only smile at the endearing look on the girl's face as she fought for the words to come out, "There is a new movie out... that I was wanting to take a look at." 

"... Okay? That doesn't sound like a bad idea, Kaoru. Why are you-" 

"It is a romance." 

Tomoe only raised an eyebrow. Okay. A romance. Made sense. They were a couple. Couples see cheesy romantic movies together. So why would...? 

"It... has two females as their leads." 

...Ah. And there it was.

"So you're embarrassed... cause you wanna see a LGBT movie?"

Kaoru only shrugged.

"Kaoru... you do realize we are both chicks too... right?" Kaoru blinked, "Of course." 

"So why would it be weird if we saw two chicks gettin' together?" Kaoru only shrugged. Tomoe laughed and hopped up from the couch to move to the computer. Kaoru turned to look at her, "Tomoe?" 

"I'm seein' the movie times. My phone doesn't like pullin' up the movie theater's site for some damn reason." Kaoru blinked, "So... you are okay with going?" 

Tomoe snorted and turned in the office chair, "Kaoru. Of course I'm okay with goin', ya goof. Besides, it's been awhile since I've been to the movies." Kaoru stood as Tomoe looked back at the screen. She leaned over the girl to point at the specific movie she had in mind. 

"So it looks like there is a showing... in 45 minutes. We can make it there." 

"W-We're going now?" 

"Of course!" Tomoe shut off the computer before grinning at the female and grabbing her hand, "We gotta leave now though if we wanna get good seats!" 

"T-Tomoe!" 

 

Kaoru scruffed her feet along the pavement as she waited for Tomoe to get their tickets. It had really been awhile since she herself had been to the movies, and it was honestly quite enjoyable, especially with the redhead in her presence. 

It was turning out to be a wonderful day, with the sun shining overhead, it was as if all of her worries were melting away. "Ah, how fleeting." She looked over and saw the way the sun shone on that striking red hair, "Who was the first to pronounce that beauty is a sin, I wonder..."

"Huh?! The groom cancelled too?! And after going through the trouble of finding a new model for the bride..." 

Kaoru was about to make her way to her beloved when she felt stares on her back. What is this...? The person, a woman in her early thirties it seemed, grinned at her and about ran full steam ahead. 

"I-uhm-excuse the intrusion. But would you be open to modeling for an upcoming shoot of mine?" 

Kaoru blinked. Model? And she heard the woman earlier. So she... 

She wants her to be a groom...?

This is... interesting.

Very fleeting she must say.

Chapter Text

Tomoe had to admit, this weekend was shaping up to be a pretty damn good weekend. She had time to spend with Kaoru yesterday, even if some of it was just being lazy as shit on the couch, and now today...

Well, Ako calls it the 'Ultimate Drumming Duo's Quest of the Unknown!' 

Which was a roundabout way of saying this was their day to spend together. This was something they had established long before Ako was in middle school. Every weekend (depending on their schedules it varies between Saturday and Sunday) they devoted a day to just spend together. Whether that meant staying at home and finishing homework and watch marathons, or spend the day outside in the park or downtown. Today they decided to spend it downtown. 

"And then, Yukina-san complimented me..." Ako was in the midst of rambling. Tomoe really loved how much Ako admired the vocalist of Roselia. It showed not only how much Yukina was as a person, but also that Ako had found a place to call her own. A family. Not to mention she was kicking ass in the drumming department, and Tomoe made sure to let her know that as much as she could. The redhead happened to glance up the same time Ako did, and they saw familiar brown hair bobbing towards them. However... Tomoe narrowed her eyes slightly. She seemed off.

"Ah!" Ako grinned widely and waved at the girl, "It's Saaya-chan! Hi!!" 

Saaya snapped out of whatever thoughts were swirling through her mind, and she gave that reserved warm smile she only gave to those she held dear. Which, for the mother figure of Popipa, was practically everyone. "...? Oh, Tomoe and Ako. You guys are hanging out today?" 

Tomoe only smiled and stuffed her hands in her pockets, slightly unsure as to why Saaya seemed so... skittish? Nervous? "Yeah, you could say that." 

"Ehehe, today is our sister date ♪" Ako had the biggest grin on her face, and Tomoe knew she didn't pick up on Saaya's strange behavior... yet. Which made sense. The two elder sisters were fairly close. They both had younger siblings, both were the essential mother figures of their bands, and both were drummers. They had a lot in common, and it gave way to a healthy camaraderie for one another. It's safe to say, outside of her band, that Saaya was the one she was closest too. This, of course, did not count Ako or Kaoru. "We're gonna have so much fun~!" 

"Ahah, well that's nice! Have fun!" 

Ako's grin never left her face, and Tomoe was sure her cheeks would start to hurt soon, "You bet!" 

"What about you, Saaya?" 

Saaya had stopped (Tomoe totally picked up on the fact that she was trying to run away). The redhead only kept her head cocked to the side, and Saaya did the same, "...Me?" 

That only had the two sisters stare at the drummer. Saaya seemed to take her time in answering, trying to figure out how to exactly word it. "I'm... helping out a friend today." 

That only made Tomoe raise a brow, head still tilted to the side. She gave Saaya a small smirk, "Really? That was kinda an awkward pause there, eh?" 

Saaya only answered with an awkward laugh, going around the duo, "Ahah, you must've imagined it. Alright, I have to go. Later!" 

The two just stared as the girl began to get smaller and smaller. Tomoe crossed her arms, "She was acting really weird..." Saaya never usually ran off like that. If she did, she always explained, but this time... it was as if she didn't want anyone knowing where she was going. Huh. 

"Wonder if everything is okay."

*****

That was so awkward~

She groaned as she hurried to her destination, feet quick along the asphalt. Why was she so nervous about anyone knowing?! Sure, she let Popipa know, and Rinko of course, but yet seeing the sisters downtown just made her feel so... well, awkward. 

She really didn't know why. 

Saaya's thoughts went back to yesterday when Rinko had stopped by the bakery. She knew her shy yet beautiful soulmate would be okay with it, but yet saying those words made her feel so unsure. Rinko didn't prove her wrong at all, and that small little smile that made Saaya's heart warm whenever she saw it appeared on the keyboardist's face. 

That sounds lovely, Saaya. Will... it be okay if I went?

Maybe that's why she was nervous? I mean, Rinko would be seeing her in a dress. A wedding dress. Her palms were already sweating just thinking about it. She looked down at her phone and saw that Rinko had messaged. "Ten minutes, huh?" She looked up at the tall steeple overhanging the white church and she put her phone in her bag before taking a deep breath. "Alright. Here we go." 

 

"Good morning! Thanks for giving me this opp-" Her words died in her throat as she saw who was standing at the alter with the photographer. Purple brows furrowed, but it was quickly replaced with that suave smile that Himari and Rimi adored. "Saaya-chan?"

"Kaoru... -san? W-What are you doing here...?!"

Kaoru only smiled as she gesticulated wildly, "Well, it is rather simple, really. This moment was fated when the sun rose high and the beauty shone before me was encompassed, to where it was almost great enough to be declared a sin." Saaya was thoroughly confused. Kaoru continued, "But who could have envisioned that someone I know was also standing at the end of destiny's road... It's just... so fleeting."

Saaya only blinked. She turned to the photographer, who seemed to notice the confusion in her face. "Oh, you two will be our models today."

"Wha... Kaoru-san too?"

"Well, after I asked you to fill in for the bride, the model for the groom canceled as well... That's when I saw Kaoru-chan so... I asked her to be the replacement. I saw her once on a poster before, so I knew she'd be a great fit."

"The groom?!" Saaya had too many thoughts swirling through her head. One, her and Kaoru were to get married. Well... fake married. But married nonetheless. Rinko, her soulmate, was going to see her 'marry' Kaoru, guitarist of Hello Happy World. Who also happened to be soulmates with...

Oh no. Saaya turned to the other teen, "Kaoru-san. Did you tell Tomoe about the shoot today?" 

Kaoru cocked her head, "She was with me when destiny had decided to grace me on this wondrous quest. However..." The guitarist quirked her brows, "It seems that I may have forgone speaking to her about this fleeting news. The goddess had graced me with her appearance moments after she had left." Kaoru gestured towards the photographer. Well... okay, at least Saaya could slightly understand her now. But that didn't change the fact that Kaoru...

"Kaoru-san. So you didn't tell Tomoe that you were doing a wedding photoshoot? As the groom?"

When the purple-haired girl shook her head Saaya only groaned. And she was the bride. She wouldn't be too nervous if not for the fact that she knew the redhead was a tad on the fiery side. Her emotions, when there was an abundance of it, tended to burst out without abandon. She tended to face things head on. In other words... Tomoe could very well read the situation wrong and act accordingly. 

Hopefully Tomoe would stay far away from here. Seeing as her girlfriend/soulmate seemed to forget to inform her of the shoot today. 

Please let me survive this... Saaya sighed. 

*****

"Sis! They say this building is gonna be the new wedding place!"

Tomoe turned her gaze to the tall white building, it's majestic steeple it's most noticeable landmark. They had wandered a little bit away from the downtown area they frequented, and honestly that was a pretty cool thing, finally seeing the chapel she had been hearing about. "Ohh, I think one of the women downtown was walking about it. Everyone's really excited to see how it turns out."

Ako squealed and jumped on the balls of her feet. "So cool...! You know, there might be ancient magical powers sealed away somewhere!" She then turned her big eyes towards Tomoe, and she didn't even need Ako to open her mouth to know what was about to come out. She sighed at the puppy dog eyes, "Can we get a closer look~?! Please~!!"

I know her too well. "That's fine, but it looks like they're still working on it, so only for a bit."

Ako cheered loudly, causing Tomoe to chuckle. "Okay! Thank you!" As they got closer to the building, they noticed the beautiful stain glass adorning the windows, flowers lining the walkway and garden beyond. It was picturesque. No wonder this was going to be a hot spot for weddings.

"Wah~, it's so pretty~. I want to take a peek inside~..."

"You know you can't d- Hm?" Tomoe stared. And stared. That person looked so familiar...

Ako stopped and turned to Tomoe. She cocked her head to the side. "Sis, what's wrong?"

She raised a finger, Ako following the digit to where it was pointing. "Hey, isn't that...?" Ako finished though, "Saaya-chan...?"

She gaped at the sight before her. Yes, it was Popipa's drummer. Her hair was up, makeup donned, and was that...? "What is she doing wearing a dress?"

"Not just any dress. It's a wedding dress! Maybe she's getting married."

Tomoe immediately shook her head. The idea was too crazy. "No way. She's still in high school."

"But as long as you're 16, you can still get married in high school, right? Maybe once her birthday passes...?"

"Haha, no no... Wait, hold on..." She thought back to the girl earlier that day. Those awkward pauses, the stuttering. Could it really? "... She was acting weird the last time we saw her, wasn't she? Could this be what they call "pre-wedding jitters"...?"

"But she would never betray Rin-rin! *GASP* Unless it is Rin-rin she's marrying! But she would have told me! I'm so confused Sis! What is- Wah~!! Sis! Look!!"

Tomoe jerked back at the shout, "What now?!"

Ako raised a shaky finger. Tomoe didn't like that. "That person there..."

Tomoe followed her gaze. Her heart dropped. 

Purple hair tied back, white suit, tall figure, striking red eyes.

Her soulmate. Tomoe's soulmate, walked out those double doors to where Saaya stood. Nononono-

"Saaya-chan, break time's almost over." Kaoru set a hand atop her shoulder and Saaya looked back with that polite smile, "Thanks for coming all the way out here to get me. We can go back inside."

Kaoru shook her head, deterring the brunette from moving. It took all of Tomoe not to rush up on the scene. To not act on her first instincts. It was becoming damn hard to though.

"That won't be necessary, for the next shots will take place outside. Would you allow me to be your escort?"

"Okay. Please lead."

"...Kaoru...?"

Ako shook her head rapidly. As if the faster she shook her head, the faster this would all go back to normal. "Sis..."

"N-no, that can't be right..." She refused to believe it. "What is going on here...?"

"I-I have no idea! Uhh, uhm, this calls for..."

Tomoe couldn't even hear her sister. Seeing her soulmate resting her hand on Saaya's lower back was almost too much. Too much this was too much what is happening.

Saaya and Kaoru cannot be getting married. No no no, if I just take a second to think, there has to be another explanation.

"... Calm down, Ako." It was really her that needed to calm down, but Ako didn't necessarily know it. "We both just need to try and keep cool."

Ako opened her mouth but ended up closing it, nodding slowly, "O-okay..."

Tomoe began to take some much needed deep breaths. Maybe if she tried to calm herself down... she could find a way to figure out what was going on without rushing headlong (even though every fiber of her being wanted too). But, even with that logical side of her mind trying to calm her rage inside, that fiery spirit overtook it, and she could barely keep still before turning to Ako. "We can't just sit here guessing... The only way to know what's really happening is to ask! Let's check it out, Ako!"

"Yeah!"

The two sisters crept closer to the scene. Tomoe purposefully kept her footsteps light and slow. All she wanted was to run straight for them the minute she saw Kaoru walk through those double doors, but she, mainly for Ako's sake, refrained. The two they were following stopped in the garden, with Roses and Lilies and every other flower Ran could immediately name were surrounding the duo. Tomoe had to shut her eyes for a second and breathe.

Kaoru had Saaya's hands in her own, "Saaya-chan, your hands are exquisite." Saaya only laughed awkwardly and shrugged, "Not really. The drumsticks give me blisters, and I help out a lot at home, so the skin gets rough sometimes, too..."

"That's why they're beautiful. They remind me of my dear beloved's. In the words of the great bard, "He jests at scars that never felt a wound"... This is... exactly what he meant." Saaya chuckled at that, her shoulders shaking as she listened to those flowery words coming out of the guitarist's mouth. "Fufu. Kaoru-san, you're so interesting."

"S-Sis, Kaoru and Saya-chan look like they're having such a good time..." Tomoe didn't look, only turned her eyes to Ako's who were at the moment staring at her. She could see the worry in them, of how Tomoe would react, or really how she was feeling at the moment. She shook the thoughts away. But when Kaoru began to tuck a stray strand of Saaya's hair back in her bun, Tomoe's thoughts went back to the day prior, Kaoru lightly going through her hair as she rested on her chest.

Her own chest felt like it was being squeezed. Like her heart was about to be squashed and burned and any other damn shitty feeling out there. She was feeling shitty, and she was also feeling very angry. 

So it was no surprise to Ako that the redhead jumped from the hedges and yelled at the two. "What the hell?!" 

The two stumbled back, Kaoru looking as if she had seen a ghost. She may as well have, since she most likely wasn't going to make it out of this garden alive. Saaya only groaned and buried her face in her hands, "I knew it."

Tomoe ignored the brunette for a second as she stared down her soulmate, those blue eyes cold as ice, yet that fire burned within them, "Seriously, what the hell is going on, Kaoru?!" 

"I-uh-Tomoe, it is not-"

Ako jumped from the hedges, the Udagawa twins almost identical in their fiery state. "Are you two getting married?!"

"No, no! See, Kaoru-san, this is what I was trying to tell you earlier-" 

"And what about Rin-rin, Saaya-chan?! She's gonna be so hurt! You can't do that to someone as precious as Rin-rin! And to Sis too! Why I outta-"

"Please, hold on a minute!" Saaya began to try and placate the ever increasing situation. "I can explain-" 

"Wahhhh! Why are people yelling!?" Kasumi and the rest of Popipa ran to the scene with a certain keyboardist lagging behind, seeing Tomoe about killing Kaoru with her glares, and Ako stomping towards a sweating Saaya. Rinko blinked at the scene, "Ako...chan?" 

Ako snapped her head over, "Rin-rin?!"

"What's going on...?!" Rimi blinked and stared at the situation unfolding around them. Arisa only groaned loudly, "Shit. Just looking at these two and I already know what the hell happened." Kasumi leaned into the blonde, "Huh? Whaddya mean, Arisa?" 

"I mean that these two saw Kaoru-san and Saaya dressed like that and got the wrong idea."

"And that would be what?!" Tomoe finally spoke up and redirected her glare to Arisa. Arisa was unfazed and opened her mouth to speak but Ako was already talking. "Rin-rin! How could you let this happen! She's your soulmate!" 

"Ako-chan... if you listen to... Arisa-san... she will explain..." 

"Thank you, Shirokane-san." Arisa then turned to the sisters, "They're doing a photo-shoot. That's why they're dressed like that." 

Tomoe's fiery eyes seemed to dull somewhat. Instead confusion began to shine through, "...photoshoot?" 

"That's what I was trying to say earlier, Tomoe. They were making a poster for the new wedding hall and asked me to model..." Tae nodded sagely to the drummer and even clarified (even if it didn't need any clarification... anymore that is), "They're both just modeling." 

"..." Tomoe then looked over to Kaoru who looked as if she was about to pee herself and combust into flames all at the same time. She walked up to the girl and Kaoru averted her eyes. Tomoe felt a sharp bout of guilt tear through her, seeing Kaoru closing up like this. "... when did they ask you?" 

"Yesterday... outside the theater." Kaoru looked up to Tomoe and, again, the redhead felt guilty, seeing those big and sad red eyes. She had once again rushed headlong into something and didn't do what she knew she should do. Ask.

She then remembered the older woman speaking to Kaoru outside the theater as she was getting their tickets. And Kaoru didn't say anything about it? 

Kaoru yelped at the sudden slap on her arm, "You baka! Why didn't you say anything yesterday!" 

"I-I was distracted-" 

"By what?" Kaoru looked like she wanted to say something, but with everyone else around she hesitated. She finally whispered. "You." Tomoe raised a brow, "Me?" Kaoru nodded with a sheepish grin, "The sun was casting a halo around you. You looked as if you were a goddess yesterday, and I was unable to think of much else aside from wondering if it was a sin for someone to look as beautiful as you did." 

Tomoe blushed. Hard. She did not expect that to come out of her soulmate's mouth. Arisa and Tae snickered in the background. Saaya slapped them both upside the head instantly. 

Saaya though recalled Kaoru's words earlier;

'This moment was fated when the sun rose high and the beauty shone before me was encompassed, to where it was almost great enough to be declared a sin.'

So it was a roundabout way of saying she was distracted by Tomoe when the woman had approached...

 

The rest of the photoshoot went along without a hitch. The sisters stayed for the shoot, Ako chatting animatedly with her bestfriend and Popipa. Yet Tomoe stayed watching the two in front of her. She was happy, that it was not at all what she had feared. Part of her was mad at herself for even thinking Kaoru would do such a thing, and that same part of her was feeling guilty for snapping like she did. Then... 

Seeing Saaya dressed like that, looking like a proper bride, it got Tomoe's dark thoughts that she had repressed for so long to resurface.

She looked over to her soulmate, and wondered why. Why did they make Tomoe her soulmate? She could have any girl. She can have a beautiful bride, all airy laughs and bright smiles. Not loud guffaws and giant grins. She could have a princess and instead she was stuck with a wannabe prince.

She deserved better than she could give. She deserved someone like Himari or Saaya. 

If you were a boy, I'd never let you go.

If only I was... I certainly act like one half the time.

Chapter Text

Her thumb hovered over the screen, half of her mind wishing for these thoughts to go away, and the other half just wanting to crawl into bed and hide away from everyone. But that would be unfair, wouldn't it? Unfair to everyone else in her life. She had others to take care of, to make sure they were doing alright before even she. Ako especially. Ako always came first in Tomoe's book. 

Yet... her thumb still hovered over the button, the name above making her heart wrench something fierce. She still felt horrible for the way she had treated Kaoru last weekend. In all honestly, everything had essentially gone back to how it was, and Tomoe couldn't even count the amount of times she had apologized for her irrational behavior. 

But then Kaoru would give her that damn smile and accept it time and time again. But did Tomoe really deserve forgiveness?

Her rational side wanted to whap her upside the head. To yell at her that 'of fucking course she deserves forgiveness.'

But yet she still felt so unsure. So... undeserving. 

Tomoe groaned and just let the phone fall from her grasp. She wanted to talk to Kaoru. To just hear her voice. Yet she didn't know if she had it in her to talk about what was going through her mind, because she knew that the guitarist would know something was wrong. Honestly, Kaoru probably already did know something was up, but in true stubborn-ass fashion, Tomoe refused to budge about the situation. 

Instead she just turned to her activities to let out her frustration. Her drums mainly. It was always cathartic, beating at the drums. It helped relieve her stress, her worries, her anger. Yet even as she pounded on the drums her mind was still elsewhere. 

If you were a boy, I'd never let you go.

Tomoe cursed and just flopped back on her bed. She had nowhere to be, and she had no homework either. She could just wallow in her own misery for a little while longer. 

Her phone dinged. She cursed again and checked it.

mocatastic: ding dong ur bitch is here.

mocatastic:  lmao jkjk. kinda.

mocatastic:  we bitches r at the park. where u at?

Well. Fuck. She had forgotten about that. Tomoe sighed and sat back up in her bed. She made to start getting ready but... 

The thought alone was exhausting.

She flopped back down. How could she be like this? So down, so...

Almost empty.

Tomoe scoffed to herself and shook the thoughts away. Maybe just one day to herself wouldn't be so bad... would it? She hardly ever gets days to herself, so maybe just one wouldn't hurt so bad. 

She grabbed her phone and typed a reply before setting it back down and curling underneath the covers. 

Maybe a nap would do her some good.

*****

Moca's eyebrows quirked at the message she just received.

Taiko God: sorry, feelin a little under the weather. gotta take a raincheck.

"Ran~" Moca shoved the phone in the other's face. "Tomo-chin's acting weird." 

"Weird?" Ran took the phone from Moca (also just to get it out of her face too) and her eyebrows quirked alongside her soulmate, "Huh." 

That is extremely weird for Tomoe.

"Let me see!" Himari yanked the phone from Ran and she shook her head before lobbing the phone to Moca, "She's not sick. She's just shelling up again, the meanie." 

"She's almost as bad as Ran~" Moca grinned towards the brunette. Ran just shoved the face away from her, "You're annoying." 

"Should we check on her?" Tsugumi fiddled with her thumbs, a small frown present on her features, "If Tomoe-chan is feeling bad..." 

"I mean, we could." Ran leaned back on her hands, "But we wouldn't get anything out of her. I'm kinda with Himari on this one. She's feeling fine, but something's on her mind and she doesn't want to talk about it." 

"And she's super stubborn too." Himari huffed and her cheeks puffed out from the huff, "Like, I used to be able to get stuff out of her, but she's, like, become more stubborn than she used to be."

"But aren't we her best friends...?" Tsugumi whispered. "Wouldn't she tell us if something was bugging her?" 

"Depends on what it is." Ran shoved Moca away again, who was trying to sprawl out on her, "If it's super sensitive, she's gonna be a stubborn shit about it." 

"Sounds like someone I know~" 

"S-Shut up!" 

"Awahhhhh! Ran~! Don't hurt poor Moca-chan! Tsugu, save me!" 

"Ran-chan..." 

As the three talked, Himari couldn't help but stare at Moca's phone in the grass between them. Tomoe was her bestfriend. They told each other everything. Yet... with stuff like this Tomoe tended to close in. Himari really didn't know if it was because Tomoe didn't want to talk about it, or she just didn't want to burden anyone. 

Regardless, she was worried. And she really didn't like it when she was worried.

Tomoe... what's going on...?

*****

She was in a large chapel. The sun’s rays poured through the stain glass windows, causing a myriad of colors to shine onto the hardwood pews and crimson carpet. Every color imaginable lay on those pews, and she had half a thought that they were more vivid than they should be.

She sat at one of the pews, the wood underneath her uncomfortable in it’s rigidness. She looked forward to see a large archway obviously constructed for a specific purpose. Roses intertwined with the white lattice foundation, it’s vines such a vivid shade of green that it was almost blinding. The petals glistened crimson, and she almost thought it might have been actual rubies with the way it shone.

Yet underneath that archway was something even more mesmerizing than the scenery around them.

A tall figure stood with their hands clasped behind them. Their suit clung nicely to their toned yet lithe body, the white of the fabric contrasting nicely with the vivid shade of their hair. The glossy locks were pulled back into a nice tail, hanging loosely off one shoulder. Their eyes glistened with joy and love as they stared at her. Her mouth went dry as she stared at those eyes… those eyes she had gotten lost in on more than one occasion. She went to stand but remained frozen in her seat. Why could she not run to them like she so desperately wanted?

The sound of large double doors broke her out of her reverie, yet she could not turn her head to see who had encroached on such special grounds. All she could do was stare at those eyes.

Yet those eyes, she realized, were not looking at her.

They were looking through her. To whomever had entered this beautiful place.

White. She could see the pearliest of white in her peripheral, and she finally could see the figure that had been such a mystery until now.

Lace and satin clung onto a nice and petite body. Their hair lay in waves down their back as they strolled up the aisle, a bouquet of roses held in their small hands. A veil concealed her features, yet even with that she knew who it was by their hair alone.

They stood facing that which she loved most. And that person, the one who always looked at her with loving and adoring eyes, had veered their sight to the one standing there in front of them. The one looking so beautiful that she almost wanted to cry.

They lightly moved the veil and revealed eyes that resembled so much of the vines along that lattice. Her throat closed as they held hands, larger ones enveloping smaller ones.

They leaned closer to one another. Such a picturesque couple. So suited for one another. Yet as the two leaned towards one another. Closer, closer, so close… her voice that had been lost this entire time had finally found it’s way back to her.

“S-Stop…”

Yet they did not hear. Either that or they chose not to listen. Her legs would not move, her arms refused to budge. But the tears slowly creeping up to her and the voice coming out of her seemed to be the only two things to be able to move.

“Please, stop!”

Those eyes, the ones that always looked at her, finally flit over to her person. Yet that loving and adoring expression she was so used to being on the receiving end of was not there in the slightest.

They were almost… cold. Empty. As they stared at her. She could feel shivers run down her spine as they looked at her like she was nothing. A nobody.

“Why stop?” They finally said, a smile so unlike them slowly marring their angular features, “She is, after all, the one I am suited to be with.”

She turned and slowly caressed the face of the other before looking back at her with those eyes. “She is the one I deserve.”

“Please…”

“You had said it yourself.” The other spoke, venom laced through that voice she had known for so long, “You don’t deserve her. If anyone, I deserve her.”

The sun’s rays were slowly dying, yet she didn’t need it to see the petals drying and withering away. She didn’t need it to see the vines shriveling and falling off of the crumbling lattice.

She didn’t need it to see the two in front of her kiss underneath the decaying scenery.

“Please no!”

They continued, and the tears that had sprung forth finally made their way down her face.

“Please! KAORU!”

“Kaoru!” She sat up so quick it was like someone had branded her with a hot iron. Her heart lay beating fast in her chest, and she had half a mind to clutch it as she shut her eyes and willed those thoughts and that dream to go away.

Why. Why did she have that dream. Why did it have to hurt her so bad.

The tears fell down her face when she shut her eyes, and yet even with the comforting thought that it wasn’t real, it still didn’t hurt any less.

Because it was all of her fears and insecurities all encompassed into one. All the things she refused to face came towards her like a bull in a china shop. She covered her mouth to fight the sob creeping up her chest. No. No. She will not cry. She will not sob. She does not do that. Tomoe does not cry.

So why were there tears still streaming down her face?

“Sis?”

Tomoe quickly wiped the tears away. Quickly tried to slow her racing heart and jittery mind as she, in as steady of a voice she could muster, spoke through the closed door. “Yeah, Ako?”

“A-Are you okay?” Ako’s voice sounded so unsure, and that made her heart clench even more than it already did. Any more and it would surely shrivel away, “I… I heard you yell, sis.”

“I’m fine!” She said quickly, probably too quickly, “I just had a bad dream is all.”

“Oh.” A moment of silence and Ako’s voice filtered through the door, “Can I… Can I come in?”

“No!” She cringed at the suddenness of her own tone, the clipped and upset tone that she knew was laced in her usual care-free and jovial voice. Yet, she didn’t want Ako to see her like this. She didn’t want anyone to see her like this. This was so unlike her that she just wanted to get it all out of her system and away from her before anyone saw.

But that was unrealistic. She knew it was. But damnit, does she not feel sad and frustrated all at the same time. “I’m sorry… but now’s not a great time Ako. Maybe later okay?”

Ako seemed to sense the brewing forces in her mind and the small voice outside the door almost made her cry again, “O-Okay, I… I’ll leave you alone sis… just… I’ll be in my room if you need me, okay?”

She wanted to call out to her. Not to leave. Because she knew it was hurting Ako, yet she could not find her voice.

Like she couldn’t find her voice when Kaoru was about to kiss her.

Tomoe only curled up, punching the bed and letting out all her anger and frustration out on the poor bedding, it’s muffled sounds not covering at all the beating of her heart. The choked sobs in her chest.

 

Ako stood outside the closed door with tears glistening in her eyes.

Something was wrong with Sis and... Ako wasn’t sure what to do. This was something that had never happened before. It wasn’t the Sis she was used to.

She knew she was going to need help, and not from Rin-rin either.

So she double checked the time before slowly going down the stairs and away from the door.

Away from the conflicted mind within.

Chapter Text

Ako was in an almost state of emergency.

Sis was in dire need of help. She would never admit it, but Ako would make sure that Sis was back to normal before the week was up.

She had a couple of ideas in mind, helping Sis. Her initial instinct was to ask Rin-rin, but really that wouldn’t work. Rin-rin didn’t know Sis like she did. If anything, Lisa-nee would be better if she were to go to anyone in Roselia.

But there were people that were better to assist her in her mission. She thought of Kaoru-san too, but she was in practice right now with Hagumi-chan, so Ako went with the next best.

And it just so happened that her feet were taking her right to them. She spotted that pink hair and she almost screamed her name, making bypassers jump away from the sudden noise.

"HI-CHAAAAAN!"

Himari could barely contain the screech as she was suddenly attacked by a small body with lilac hair, “A-Ako-chan? What’s wrong?!”

"It's sis!" Ako turned her big red eyes to her and Himari’s eyes went wide as Ako could barely contain her shaking, "What about her Ako-chan? What happened?"

"She's acting funny! And she won't let me help! I’d ask Kaoru-san but she’s in practice right now! L-Like she's not talking really and keeping herself in her room and I don't know w-what to do cause Sis has never acted like this before-"

“Okay, okay, Ako-chan. Hold on.” Himari looked to the other girls, all sporting the same worried expression. Ako looked at them all. “Please? I know I can’t do this by myself, and you guys know her best! Please, please, pleaaaaaas-”

“Ako.” Ran set her hand on her shoulder and Ako took in much needed air as she looked at the rest of the members of Afterglow. She gave them the biggest eyes she could muster, hoping to persuade them in her mission. Sis needed it. She may not know that right now, but Ako knew she needed it. Ran crossed her arms, “We can try and help, but you know your sister. She’s pretty da-”

“Ran-chan.” Tsugumi elbowed her lightly and Ran stopped herself, “Darn stubborn. We can try though.”

“Really?!” Ako grinned at them, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I hate seeing Sis like this so thank you guys so much!”

 

“UDAGAWA TOMOE YOU OPEN THAT DAMN DOOR RIGHT NOW!”

“Ran-chan…!”

“Seriously, Ran, maybe that isn’t the best way-”

“Moca-chan has got this~!”

“Uwahh! No, Moca, don’t kick the door down!”

The door swung open, and Himari had to contain the gasp at the sight before her. Tomoe was in obvious distress. Her eyes were red and puffy, her hair all over the place, and her clothes were all disheveled. Her eyes were narrowed at the group in front of her. Empty. This wasn’t Tomoe at all. And this was worse than any other time Tomoe had anything going on.

No wonder Ako was so much in distress.

“What do you guys want? Kinda hard to sleep here.”

Ran just shoved her way into her room, Tomoe squawking at the sudden intrusion, and the girls of Afterglow all just basically surrounded the girl with varying emotions on their faces. Tomoe shrunk back.

“You know what’s going on.” Ran narrowed her eyes at the girl. But even with the domineering look Ran was pulling, they all saw the worry hidden in her eyes, “You have Ako worried silly. What the hell is going on?”

“Ran-chan, maybe a little less aggression, right now?”

“Tsugu, she’s basically got Ako in tears-

“Ran!” Himari finally slapped her in the arm, and they didn’t miss the sudden shift in Tomoe’s expression. “…Ako was crying…?”

“Shit.” Ran stepped back as Tsugumi and Himari surrounded the redhead, who looked as if she were to crumble any minute. “No, no. Tomoe, she isn’t crying. But she is worried about you. Quite frankly we are too.” They got Tomoe to sit down on her bed and the two sat beside her. Ran kept near the door, and Moca (even in a serious situation) had to sit in her damn bean-bag chair.

“What’s wrong, Tomoe-chan?” Tsugumi held her calloused hand in hers, “Maybe we can help.”

“I…” Tomoe sighed and shook her head, “Y’all can’t help with this.”

“You don’t know that.” Himari shook her finger at her, “Tell us. We’ll be the judge of that.”

“Seriously, it’s nothing, don’t worry about it-”

“Bull-” Himari’s glare shut Ran up and she only huffed and crossed her arms. Himari turned back to the redhead, “It isn’t nothing and you know it. We aren’t leaving until you tell us.”

“Seriously, guys, just let it be!” Tomoe jerked up and away from the girls and made her way to the door, “It’s none of your business!”

“Hypocrite.”

Tomoe stopped at the door and turned to look at the black hair. She narrowed her eyes slightly, “What?”

“I said, you’re a hypocrite.”

“Ran…!”

“No, stop cutting me off Himari, she needs to hear this. You know this.” Ran stepped up to the girl, not at all affected by the height difference. “You remember when I was shut off from you guys and tried running away?! Remember when I said it was none of your business? And what you said to me?!”

Tomoe looked away. Ran only stepped closer, “What did you say, Tomoe?”

“I don’t remember-”

“Bullshit.”

“I…” Tomoe finally sighed, “I said… that it wasn’t fair… cause we were worried about you.”

“And you also said you guys were supposed to know me better than anyone, but I told you it was none of your business, and that I wouldn’t let you guys in!” Ran made Tomoe look at her, “And look what you’re doing. The same damn thing.”

“I just can’t- can’t talk about it! It’s so stupid-”

“How can it be anymore stupid than the way you are acting right now?!”

“Ran, seriously, you’re going to far!”

“I am not Himari! And you know it-”

“‘If it’s one person’s problem, it’s all of our problem.’” They all looked to the white-haired girl who had been silent this entire time. Moca just looked up at Tomoe with her grey eyes, “You said that a while ago, didn’t you, Tomo-chin?”

“I…” Tomoe sighed and just slunk to the floor, back to the door. “I did…”

“So wouldn’t this be our problem then too?”

All four pairs of eyes just looked at the redhead. She just hugged her knees, “I guess…”

“So then tell us what’s going on, Tomoe-chan.” Tsugumi sat beside the redhead, “I promise we won’t judge.”

“…” Tomoe sighed. She then began to spew her feelings out to them. About her insecurities, about Kaoru, about the wedding shoot.

About her dream.

“I know it’s stupid, and I know it would never happen in a million years-”

“Damn right.” Himari added and Tomoe just huffed at the girl before continuing, “I just can’t help but feel… like I don’t deserve her. She should have this girl fit for a princess. And she’s stuck with me of all people. A wanna-be prince.”

Tomoe squawked at the sudden pain she felt on her forehead. She looked down and saw a pen roll away from her. Moca still had her arm in the air. “Moca! What the hell, dude?! That hurt!”

“You baka.

“Oh god.” Ran rolled her eyes, “Here she goes again.”

Tomoe’s eyes bugged out, “What?! Baka?!”

“Yes. Baka.” Moca nodded slowly, “You are probably the prettiest out of all of us, Tomo-chin. And that is saying something cause I’m basically a goddess and Tsugu is the most precious thing on this earth.”

“What about me?!” Himari shrieked. Ran just shook her head, “Why do I feel like I should be insulted?”

“You’re just saying that cause you're obliged to-”

“She’s not wrong!”

Tomoe whipped her head around. She quirked her brows and opened the door, “Ako?!”

“You are the prettiest, coolest, most awesome person I know!” Ako had her eyes closed, her fists balled, and Tomoe felt horrible.

“So how can you say all those bad things about yourself?! How can you say you don’t deserve happiness?! I may admire you ‘cause you’re super cool and stuff, but you’re more than that! You are super kind, and like help everybody even when you’re super tired!”

“Ako…” Tomoe just blinked as Ako continued, her voice hitching as she spoke.

“I mean, Sis, I felt terrible when you had to bring my music sheets to me, cause I knew you were super tired, but you did it anyway! You are humble to a fault, and are so sweet to everyone including the girls who still have a crush on you even though you’re with Kaoru-san!

So don’t you dare say you don’t deserve happiness ever again!”

Tomoe scrambled to her feet and wrapped her arms around the small girl, “I’m so sorry, Ako. I… shouldn’t have these feelings. I know I shouldn’t. And I promise I won’t say that ever again.”

“Don’t do it for me!” Ako looked up to the redhead, “Do it for you and Kaoru-san! You especially! You need to be selfish for once!”

“Ako… I can’t…”

“You can and you will!” Ako pushed back, “I’m putting my foot down! That’s why I took some liberties.”

“Ako, what are you-”

The front door opened and close, “Excuse the intrusion.”

Tomoe’s eyes bugged out of her skull, “Kaoru?!” Oh hell no. She bolted back to her room only for her friends to be the jackasses they are and barricade the door. She glowered at them but they were unfazed. Ako only just stepped back as they heard footsteps. Kaoru stood at the top of the stairs, hair askew and obviously out of breath.

When they knew Tomoe wouldn’t run away, they all sidestepped and went down the stairs as Kaoru practically ran to Tomoe, “Tomoe?”

“Kaoru…” The purple-haired girl gripped her on the shoulders lightly, bringing her close so she can really see the turmoil going on, “What’s wrong, Tomoe?”

“I…” Her voice stopped working. All of those same thoughts began to come back full force. Even with Ako and the other’s words of encouragement… being faced with it head-on began to almost make her dizzy.

Especially since those red eyes were so full of worry that Tomoe began to feel terrible. Because she knew how she must have looked to her. Kaoru’s eyes were sweeping over her, almost as if she were searching for injuries on her person. She guesses it’s deserved. Seeing as she probably looked like dirt-shit right now.

She felt those tears come back and damnit she hated that. It was so annoying, so mind-numbingly frustrating. She is so good at pushing her own feelings aside. All those thoughts and self-doubt pushed onto the back burner; however, when her soulmate was looking at her like that… when that face was twisted from the worry and fear, it made them resurface. And with those thoughts resurfacing, it also brought the tears that she had held back for all these years.

Kaoru noticed, especially when one tear began to fall down her cheek and Kaoru brushed it off immediately, bringing Tomoe close and holding her as if she were so… so fragile.

I’m not fragile.

But in this moment she is. She knows she is. And those tears that she was holding back with all her might started to fall down her face. Like a dam broken, those tears fell down her face with all those feelings of insignificance.

“I’m so sorry.”

Kaoru pushed her away lightly, brushing that knappy hair aside, “What are you sorry for, my love?”

“For…” She growled and gestured to herself sharply, “For this. For me being so fucking stupid-”

“No, no. Shh.” Kaoru brought her in again, those fingers working through her hair like it did that last weekend, “You are in no means being foolish. Please stop talking about yourself in such a manner.”

“I… I can’t help it. I’m being so unreasonable right now. I’m being such a damn drama-queen.”

“We all have these moments, I assure you.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Well…” Kaoru pulled away just to pull Tomoe by the hand into her room. It was almost as if she were luring a scared cat with how gentle the guitarist was being in her movements. It made Tomoe feel even worse. “I promise I am telling the truth. I would not lie to you.”

Like how I’ve been doing.

Tomoe closed in on herself, almost as if if she were to do this, then all of this would go away and go back to how everything once was. Kaoru frowned, noticing the fresh tears and Tomoe closing herself in, and she sat on the bed and pulled Tomoe close once more.

The drummer didn’t even elicit a yelp as she normally did, which worried Kaoru all the more. Tomoe only just went along with it, as if she were just a doll. Lifeless. Kaoru placed her hands on either side of the tear-stained face and let their foreheads meet. “Tell me what is troubling you, my love. I promise I will not judge in any way, shape, or form.”

“…” Tomoe sighed and just moved her face to bury it in her soulmate’s neck. She gripped onto her as if she were her lifeline, which honestly, in this moment, she was. “Why did they make me your soulmate…?”

Kaoru tensed underneath her slightly, yet it went away almost as soon as it came, “What do you mean?”

“I mean… why me? Why not someone like Himari or Rimi? Even Saaya? Someone you can bridal carry everywhere, someone small and dainty and pretty. Why someone rough and loud and obnoxious? It’s… fucking unfair for you.”

“Tomoe.” She forced her face to look into hers and Tomoe almost gulped at the fire in those eyes. Almost like lit embers.

“Saaya-chan and the others may… be deemed more as a princess by stereotypes placed by the community… however, the reason you are my soulmate is so glaringly obvious to me.”

“I don’t see it.” She whispered, and those fires in those crimson eyes shone brighter, “You do not see how much I hold you dear, Tomoe? How much I have fallen in love with you?”

She was momentarily jerked out of her depressed state by those words. She only blinked, “L-Love…?”

“You are the most beautiful creature to walk this planet. Your crimson hair shines bright no matter the time of day, so picturesque like the sunset you and your friends hold so dear. Your cerulean eyes are endless, and they always always hold such a warmth to them it is almost contraindicating. You are the most caring person I have ever met in my existence, and even with that you hold such a fire in you, a passion, to care and protect those you love. You have so much courage in you that even with just your presence, it gives me the courage to stand. How can you not see these things that I see? That I love so dearly about you?”

Tomoe felt fingers lightly grasp her chin and she was almost lost in those red eyes. Those red eyes that were so cold to her in her dream, but here, in real life, they held so much love and adoration that Tomoe almost started crying again. Kaoru brought their faces closer until their lips were barely touching. She whispered, “They can throw all the prettiest girls towards me. They can show me those small and dainty girls as you put it, but none will ever compare to the beautiful and passionate girl that I have before me. They may be princesses, but you, my dear, you are a goddess.”

A horribly embarrassing hiccup came out of her and Kaoru smashed her lips against hers and Tomoe almost lost her breath at the passion in that kiss. It was… highly different than all the others kisses they shared. This one had so much passion… so much desperation. It was as if Kaoru was pouring all of her feelings into that kiss, wanting Tomoe to know exactly how she feels about her. One hand grasped her waist and the other the nape of her neck to pull her even closer, and Tomoe could only just wrap her arms around her neck and sink into the feeling.

Tomoe yelped as Kaoru slung her onto the bed so she can full rest atop her, and they just layed there a moment, soaking in this moment together. Kaoru pulled away first to just rest her forehead against hers. Their heavy breathing washed over each other and Kaoru whispered, “I love you… Tomoe. Please… please believe me.”

“I do.” For the first time in such a long time, Tomoe felt a weight lifted off of her. Seeing the love and adoration in Kaoru’s eyes just solidified it for Tomoe. She may not be a princess, but shit did she luck out with the prince atop her. So she just cupped that beautiful face and brought her closer.

“I love you too. Kaoru.”

*****

Ako stayed sitting on the couch, her knee bouncing with the rhythm of her heart. Sis seemed… okay, when Ako left, but she wanted to know for sure if she was better. She wanted Sis back.

She heard footsteps and she whipped her head to see a head of purple and red hair come down the stairs. Ako smiled at the smile on her Sis’s face, “Sis!”

“Ah, Ako.” Tomoe smiled and laughed at the sudden hug attack she was receiving, “Sorry again, Ako. About before.”

“It’s okay, Sis.” Ako just smiled up at her. Her Sis’s blue eyes were warm and bright, just like how they should be, “As long as you’re better, it’s good for me!”

Tomoe smiled and ruffled her hair, “Yeah, I’m okay. I’m better than okay.” Ako stepped back to let Tomoe walk past her, “Imma make some popcorn. We’re watching a movie. Wanna watch?”

“Oooo, yeah!” Ako cheered, “What are we watching?”

“We are unsure yet.” Kaoru answered and only put her hands in her pockets, “How about you help us, Ako-chan?”

“Yeah! Oooo I have a bunch of cool movies we can watch!” She went to grab them but before she did that she turned back around and wrapped her arms around the guitarist. Kaoru jumped at the hug, and Ako only smiled up at her, “Thanks for helping Sis… Kao-nee.”

Kaoru’s eyebrows quirked, “Kao…nee?”

Ako nodded, that grin never leaving her face, “Mhm! You’re sis’s soulmate! That means you’re gonna be around for forever. And you helped Sis so much today too. So… wouldn’t that make you my older sister too, Kao-nee?”

“I… suppose it does, Ako-chan.”

Ako only grinned and bounded over to the entertainment system, “So what do you wanna watch, Kao-nee? I’ve got soooo many good movies, you’re not gonna believe it!”

 

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Tomoe couldn’t help one last tear to escape before she started to pull out the drinks. Hearing Ako and Kaoru, and even sneaking a glance at the two heads of purple hair hovering over the movie selections… it made her heart warm so much that she thought it was going to combust.

This. This right here… was happiness. This was her happiness, and when Kaoru looked up and gave her that prize-winning smile, Tomoe couldn’t help but wonder why the hell she even had those feelings to begin with.

When she was pretty damn lucky to have been blessed with this gorgeous, airheaded, wonderfully loving, prince.

Chapter Text

Tomoe woke up feeling much lighter than she had been in weeks.

She supposes it had to do with yesterday with her friends, with Kaoru…

With Ako…

She still had a seedling of guilt within herself making her sister worry like that, yet she knew how bad it was internalizing that guilt. Tomoe also knew how mad Ako would be if she held onto that guilt too. It still was there though.

As was that bit of guilt towards Himari too.

Even though she never actively thought about it, she supposes a small part of her subconscious had a bit of weariness towards the bassist. About how much Himari loved Kaoru, yet she knew it wasn’t romantic. Sure, Himari kind of… obsessed over her before, but now, especially with Rimi around, it’s dialed down to a healthy comradery (yet she still idolized the guitarist to an extent).

It didn’t really bother Tomoe at all. Because she knew that Himari would never do anything to jeopardize Tomoe’s and Kaoru’s relationship, let alone her own relationship with Rimi.

Yet that dream spoke otherwise, but on the other hand she thinks Himari was only an… example so to speak. Like, it wasn’t actually Himari she was worried about, but more so just anyone who is leaning mostly on the feminine side.

Yet she still felt bad for the dream.

“G’morning, Sis!”

She had to smile at the grin thrown her way. At the little sister that she would protect from anything and everything. Tomoe ruffled her hair, “Mornin’ Ako.”

“How’d you sleep?” Ako munched on her cereal as Tomoe grabbed some juice from the fridge. She threw a smile her way, “I slept great, Ako. How ‘bout you?”

“Great! Me and Rin-rin did that super awesome quest last night and Sis we did so good! Like-”

As Ako rambled, Tomoe sat on the counter and just smiled and listened to her. Although she really didn’t know half the stuff Ako was talking about, just listening to her talk about something she loved so much was refreshing… refreshing from the tears she saw in her eyes yesterday.

Because of her.

“Sis?”

Tomoe looked up and saw Ako’s eyes had slowly turned to one of worry. She smiled immediately, “I’m fine, Ako. Promise.”

“But you have that look on your face.” Ako pointed out, “Like, that one where you’re thinkin’ too hard, Sis.”

“It’s just…” Tomoe hopped off the counter and sat in front of the small girl, “I just wanted to say sorry again about yesterday… and also… thank you. Ako.”

“Why’re you thankin’ me, sis? I didn’t do much.”

“You did though.” Tomoe ruffled that hair again, chortling at the huff that was thrown her way, “You helped snap me outta it. And if it weren’t for you callin’ Kaoru, I probably woulda still been a little down. You did this, Ako. You helped me. So thank you for being the amazing sister you are.”

“Sis…” Ako stared up at her wide-eyed. It was honestly a look that Tomoe hadn’t seen much before. It was as if Ako didn’t know how to react. But she wanted her to know how much she appreciated her. How much she was thankful for the gods to give her such an amazing little sister. Ako slowly began to grin before she lunged across the table to grasp her older sister in a giant bear hug.

“You’re so cool Sis!”

“Uwah, Ako! You’re cereal!”

“I’m glad you’re doing better, Sis… really.” Ako smiled up at her, her arms still latched around Tomoe. The redhead only laughed and pat her head this time, “And I’m glad I have such a kick-ass younger sis.”

“Damn straight!”

“Ako!”

“Oh-oops.”

“But wait, sis, why can you say that kinda stuff?”

“Cause I’m older. I get special privileges.”

“No faaaaair! Sis~!

*****

“So, Rimi-chan and I went to that cute little café that opened- you know the one I’m talking about right? Anyway, it’s got these cute little pastries, Tomoe, it’s so amazing. And Rimi-chan was so adorable nibbling on her food! Ah~ it was like a little chipmunk, but don’t you dare tell her I said that!”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Tomoe smirked and leaned against the railing as Himari was flailing her arms. “I don’t trust that look, Tomoe. You’re gonna totally nark me out.”

“Me? No, I would never.”

“See? I knew it!”

Tomoe’s laugh was so carefree, as compared to earlier that week, and Himari could only smile, “So you’re doing better, I see.”

“I am.” Tomoe turned to look at the sunset, “Kaoru helped set me straight, along with you guys too.”

“Well, I dunno how much I did. But Ran and Moca did a pretty good job. Never thought I’d say that, Moca actually saying some good advice for once.”

“I, uhm, actually wanted to talk to you before the others come up.”

“Sure, what’s up?”

Tomoe picked something out from underneath her nail as she thought of what to say. She knew she wanted to talk to Himari; to apologize and even maybe set things a little straighter than prior, yet she couldn’t necessarily find the words to voice it.

Himari stood from her spot against the railing and took to just leaning against it, looking over at the drummer. Tomoe sighed, “I wanted to say I’m sorry… for my dream-”

“Tomoe, you don’t have to apologize for that-”

“I do though.” Tomoe finally looked over to those green eyes. The ones she just knew she’d fall in love with someday. For the fact that she was sure that she wouldn’t ever meet her soulmate. She was fairly positive that her and Himari would do that pact they had settled upon when they were 10 and under the jungle gym. Himari was her bestfriend, she will always be her bestfriend, so to have a dream like that made that guilt almost compile once again.

“I know you would never do that. Hell, Himari, you honestly are the person I can trust the most aside from Kaoru and Ako. You’re my bestfriend. And for me to even unconsciously think like that was just wrong.”

Himari only stared at her as Tomoe continued to think of the words. When none was coming anytime soon, Himari asked, “So… why do you think you dreamed that?”

“I… dunno. I think it was cause I thought she needed a princess. A small, dainty girl she could carry around all day and dote on. You kinda fit that description, yanno. Maybe you were just an example, or maybe…” Tomoe sighed, “Maybe it might’ve been a little with the fact you used to love her so much.”

“Tomoe, I don’t love her. I never loved her. You know that.”

“But you did obsess over her, Himari. I mean, hell, our first day at school you said that you would love to be soulmates with her and live in this big huge mansion. I kinda took that from you.”

“And I found Rimi-chan.” Himari grabbed Tomoe’s face, “I. Found. Rimi. Tomoe. And you found Kaoru. Sure, I did really like her, I still do as a friend, but never did I think you cheated me outta something. You have got to stop overthinking everything, Tomoe.”

“I know.” Tomoe smiled, “I know, Himari. I just wanted you to know why I’ve been how I’ve been.”

“Well I’m glad you finally talked to me. Geez, Tomoe you are so freaking stubborn-

“I am not-”

“Don’t even try to argue with that, cause you know damn well you are.”

“… Fine. I’m stubborn… I’m sorry it took so long.”

“Stop apologizing, Tomoe! Geez I outta smack that crap out of you!”

“Well I’d like to see you try.” Tomoe had to laugh at the way Himari’s cheeks puffed out, the girl screeching and lunging for the redhead. Tomoe only dodged the oncoming attack and made sure to grab her before the girl faceplanted, “Damn, Himari, you need to work on your balance.”

“Shut. Up, Tomoe! It’s not my fault that you are all graceful and stuff from dancing!”

“You play tennis!”

“How is that at all the same?!”

They only laughed at each other. It was so nice to be able to spend time with Himari again. Sure, she loved hanging out with the others, but it was different with Himari. It was refreshing.

“So… we’re good?”

Himari only rolled her eyes and jabbed Tomoe in the side, “You goof. There was never anything that needed fixing. Sure, you needed to finally get over that stubborn streak you got, but I was always here Tomoe.

I was just waiting on you to come to me.”

*****

“That’ll be 600 yen please.”

Her cheeks were hurting from the amount of time she has had to keep that polite smile plastered on her face. Sure, she’s usually happy and down-to-earth, but pulling a double after school was exhausting in it’s own right.

“Are you okay, Tomoe-chan?”

Tomoe looked over to the small girl, her light blue hair pulled back into a low pony, something vastly different from the drummer’s usual hairstyle. At work though, they all forwent their usual styles, and had to pull their long manes back to avoid getting any hair in the vast amounts of fast food they help prepare for all the hungry people in their town.

Or, sometimes just Moca.

“I’m fine, Kanon-san. Just a little sleepy is all.” Kanon only smiled back, that small sympathetic one she does whenever Tomoe covers for others. When someone can’t come into work, it is usually Kanon or Tomoe covering, since Aya has practice with Pastel✽Palettes taking most of her time and Himari needing to work on her homework she tends to always procrastinate on.

“If you want I can cover for you if you want to go home and rest.”

“And leave you here to fend for yourself? Especially with Moca comin’ in in a little while?” Tomoe handed the customer their drink cup before smiling over at the girl, “I can’t do that to you.”

Kanon handed her customer their ticket and that small little smile was still on her face, “O-Okay, Tomoe-chan. But if you start to get sleepy you should m-maybe take a break.”

“Yes, Mom.”

“F-Fuee?”

Tomoe only laughed in response, Kanon only giving a nervous laugh in return before she became busy with another customer. Tomoe bent down to grab some more trays to put on the counter when the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end.

“Ah, my love, for the shadows are dark and full of terrors without you by my side.”

Tomoe jerked her head up and cursed loudly as she hit her head on the counter. She rubbed the top of her head and looked up to see none other than her girlfriend leaning against the countertop, hand resting against her heart as if she had just gotten the worst news in the history of highschoolers. It was beginning to slowly go away though when the drummer hit her head, but was saved when Tomoe's smile became much brighter than before seeing the flamboyant prince before her, “Kaoru? What are you doin’ here? ... Oh shit we didn’t have anything planned, did we? Shit I knew I shouldn’t have covered for Himari-”

“No, no, my love. That is not the case.” Kaoru reached across the counter to grasp Tomoe’s calloused hand in her own, “I have come to ask if you would like to accompany me on an adventure tomorrow afternoon. It has been too terribly long since we had a proper outing together.”

Tomoe raised an eyebrow, “…what kind of adventure? You know what? Doesn’t matter. Of course. I would be more than happy too.”

Kaoru’s smile got wider, that spark in her eyes that was only reserved for Tomoe alone shone brightly underneath the fluorescent lights, and she set a chaste kiss atop that hand she still grasped, “Splendid! I have the most marvelous day planned for my beloved!”

Her smile was so wide that she was sure that someone was gonna mention it. Thankfully no one did (if Himari were working than that most likely wouldn’t have been the case), and she just took to leaning against the counter to properly set a kiss on her soulmate’s lips, “Mmm. I can’t wait. Now scoot, unless you’re gonna order something. It’s gettin’ close to dinner time, yanno?”

As Kaoru opened her mouth to reply, the bell above the door jingled. A head of white hair came waltzing into the building.

“Tomo-chiiiiiin! Moca-chan is here to eat some food and meet some bitches!”

Tomoe only sighed and let her head fall against Kaoru’s shoulder, that was at the moment moving up and down from the poorly concealed laughter coming out of the guitarist. Thankfully Moca came now, cause if she came later when Tomoe was even more tired… well…

Nobody can blame her for what would happen next.

Chapter Text

Her pencil tapped along with the rhythm of her foot. School was becoming increasingly mundane, especially with the adventure she had planned for this afternoon. Kaoru was quite honestly anticipating this, wanting her love to see yet another side of the multifaceted prince.

Tomoe had seen many sides of her, and, in traditional Tomoe fashion, accepted each and every one of her sides wholeheartedly. She loved each side just as much as the other, and that made Kaoru’s heart swell all the more for the girl. Yet this side of her no one has had the privilege of seeing. Even dear Chisato had not seen this side of her yet, and she was more than willing for Tomoe to be the first.

It was nearing the end of the day, and her heart could barely contain the excitement, watching the clock above the door counting the seconds until she could meet with her beloved.

“SETA!”

Kaoru just about fell out of her seat with her name called upon in such a manner. She gathered herself before realizing all of her class was staring at her. She’s used to the stares yet this almost made her sport the smallest of blushes. Lisa was the only one in the sea of classmates that looked as if she were worried. Hina, three seats in front of the two, just looked at her curiously. Kaoru cleared her throat, “Y-Yes Sensei?”

“There somewhere else you’d rather be?” He raised an eyebrow, foot tapping, book almost forgotten in his hand. Kaoru immediately shook her head, “No sir.”

There is most definitely somewhere else I’d rather be.

“Good. Be sure to listen in from now on, okay?”

“Yes Sensei.”

“Alright, now where was I-”

His voice faded into the background as she continued staring outside, pen tapping along with her the beat of her heart as she count the seconds until school ended and she could meet up with the goddess one floor below her.

 

“Kaoru-senpai, did you notice-”

“Seta-senpai I wanted to give you this!”

“Kaoru-senpai I was wondering…”

The smile upon her face was no where near fake, in fact she indeed loved being around her little kittens, and making sure they each had a smile on their faces. She could not help but help all of these little ones, and would make sure to at least be a highlight to a rather dreary and upsetting day (and even if some of that was to make sure they did not go through what she did once upon a time, she did not mention or dwell on that particular fact).

She took all of what they said in stride. She commented on their hairstyle if they happened to have changed it up on that particular day, she would accept each present wholeheartedly, and she would very nicely (and sometimes ambiguously) turn down their offers on courting.

Kaoru was in the midst of one of these said conversations, until she noticed a particular head of red head heading down the front steps of their highschool, “Ah, if you’d excuse me, my little kittens for I must depart at this time. Adieu~”

The smile that was on the prince’s face brightened a thousand times more when she approached the first year (and if the other girls were a little jealous and upset, none noticed).

“My love!”

Tomoe’s blue eyes flit to the girl, and a smile made it’s way on her face, “Hey, Kaoru.”

“Are you ready to depart? Or would you like to go home first?”

“Nah, I’m ready to head out whenever you are.” Tomoe smiled and resituated her bag before turning, “I’ll catch you later, kay?”

“Okay! Have fun!” Himari winked and nudged the girl before passing the two, “Bye, Kaoru-senpai! Take good care of Tomoe for me!”

“Oh I will, Himari-chan.” Kaoru smiled to the girl before holding her arm out, “Shall we?”

Tomoe rolled her eyes before linking her arm with hers, “We shall.”

*****

This was so refreshing.

It had been too damn long since they were able to do this. A date with no worries or insecurities roiling in their minds.

Actually… their last actual date was way back at the beginning of their relationship. Sure, they’d been able to relax at home and had gone to the movies, but Tomoe’s mind was still swirling with insecurities back then that it wasn’t near as refreshing as this.

And it helped that the weather outside was phenomenal today.

“So, where are we headed?”  

“To my humble abode.” Kaoru veered them to the right to keep along the sidewalk they were currently on towards the train station, “It should be approximately 20 minutes until we reach there.”

“Oh?” The train station began to come into view and Tomoe couldn’t help but ask, “What are we doin there?”

“You shall see.”

“Ah. A surprise then?”

“You catch on quick.” Tomoe frowned at the playful smirk on the girl and she couldn’t help but nudge her with a huff, “Hey, now.”

“I am only teasing you.” Kaoru slung her arm around the redhead and brought her close to set a chaste kiss atop her head, “Come, we do not want to miss the train.”

They arrived to the station and Tomoe merely followed Kaoru through the bustling crowd. They boarded their specific train and found seats as the train began it’s journey. They talked about their day and Tomoe mentioned some bullshit Moca pulled in class. (Moca decided to mess with the hair on the nape of Himari’s neck which made her think there was a bug… which resulted in Himari screaming and jumping out of her seat. Moca cackled, Tomoe glared at Moca, Tsugu was trying to calm Himari, and the teacher wanted to throttle all of them... except for Tsugu obviously).

Kaoru mentioned being called out in class (which, as Tomoe thought about it, was odd for the girl), and before she knew it they were on their way to her house.

Which… was not what Tomoe was expecting.

Kaoru’s house sat just outside of town, with an expansive front yard and… stables?

Her house stood only one story, it’s traditional exterior a refreshing change from the bustle of downtown Tomoe was so used too. Even with it being one story, it covered a vast amount of space, with the open yard and stables taking up a good deal.

Kaoru opened the wooden gate to lead her up the dirt pathway, the air so pure and clean as compared to the city life. She felt all of her worries and anxiety lift instantly being here with Kaoru. Even with the city only a mile walk away, it still felt like a completely different world to her.

The older teen walked up to the front door and opened it wide, slipping her shoes off at the front, “I’m home!”

“Welcome home!” Tomoe heard an elderly voice call from within, and before she knew it an older man with warm red eyes shuffled his way from further inside, “Ah, Kaoru-chan. You’re back early.” His eyes veered and his smile was wide, “And I see you brought a friend with you.”

“Jiji.” Kaoru smiled, “This is Tomoe. The one I had been telling you about.” Kaoru then turned to Tomoe with that same warm smile, “Tomoe, this is my grandfather.”

Tomoe really could see the resemblance, in both personality and appearance between the two. She had yet to meet Kaoru’s parents, but this older man in front of her was almost a spitting image of Kaoru, albeit a tad bit older. His stooped posture belied the fact that he was extraordinarily tall, with angular features and warm crimson eyes. His graying hair was short and trimmed neatly, as if he had just gotten his hair done, but that smile he wore was ageless, especially looking over at his granddaughter. Tomoe smiled widely, “It’s very nice to meet you, Oji-san.”

“Please, Jiji.” He waved warmly, “Oji-san sounds terribly aging, don’t you agree?”

“Okay then... Jiji.” Tomoe smiled, the older man huffed a laugh, “Much better. Kaoru-chan has been talking wonders about you, Tomoe-chan. It is nice to finally meet my granddaughter’s soulmate in person.”

She could only smile and look over to the silent girl in the entrance. It seemed as if she were slightly on the embarrassed side, if the rosiness on her cheeks were anything to go by, “J-Jiji-”

Kaoru’s grandfather only laughed, “Oh, come now, Kaoru-chan. It shows how much you love her, now-” He clasped his hands together and gestured behind him, “Would you like some tea before going outside?”

“I would love a cup of tea, thank you Jiji.” Tomoe smiled and followed the elderly man further into the house until they entered one of the homiest living areas Tomoe had ever set her eyes upon. Portraits of Kaoru’s family lined the walls and lined each table. Her and Kaoru both knelt and sat at the chabudai, and Tomoe looked over at the girl, “Your grandfather seems very nice.”

“He is.” Kaoru smiled, “He’s been my biggest supporter ever since I was a child.”

“That’s nice.”

“I have been staying here with him actually for quite some time.” Kaoru squeezed her hands together, staring down at them instead of at the girl beside her, “He… has been having some trouble living alone, as my grandmother had passed maybe a few years or so ago. It works, seeing as my parents are always on business trips as it is…”

Tomoe frowned. She knew how that was. Her father was always out on business trips, and her mother sometimes had to travel as well for work, so that left her tending to herself and Ako plenty of times. However, to have both parents always gone… she could see how that would get lonely.

And her grandparents too… “I’m sorry…”

Kaoru smiled, “Oh it is alright, I assure you. We have… accepted life without Baba, and it took a fair amount of time for Jiji to accustom to that fact; however, I believe with me here it helps… to an extent.”

Tomoe set her hand atop the joined ones, “Your grandfather is lucky to have an amazing granddaughter like you, Kaoru.”

Kaoru blushed, “Ah… Ahahah, Tomoe. Y-You don’t have to say that.”

Tomoe opened her mouth to reply but she heard shuffling before Kaoru’s grandfather appeared from the kitchen, “Here we go.”

“Thank you very much.” Tomoe grasped the small cup handed to her and she sipped lightly on the warm beverage, “This is very nice, thank you.”

“You are very welcome, Tomoe-chan.” The older man then turned to Kaoru, “You have such a polite soulmate, Kaoru-chan.”

“I-I do, don’t I.” Kaoru smiled, but that blush came back upon that face. Tomoe grinned widely at the girl. Kaoru had to cough into her hand, “I-I was thinking of having her meet Silver and White in a little while, if you do not mind.”

Her grandfather waved his hand, “Not at all! I just got done grooming them and cleaning their stalls. I have yet to polish the saddles though.”

“I will do that, do not worry Jiji.”

“Such the diligent grandchild. I lucked out having you around, haven’t I, Kaoru-chan?”

“J-Jiji, please.” Kaoru’s cheeks burned fiercely, and Tomoe honestly loved this side of her. It was one she didn’t see often. Sure, the girl would get flustered (before they began to date was filled with those moments) yet seeing Kaoru this flustered was almost a new experience. It was almost as if she didn’t know how to accept her grandfather’s praises yet watching her grandfather led Tomoe to believe that he never has stopped doting on the guitarist, and probably never will.

Kaoru cleared her throat, “Ah, I believe I will go ahead and start on those saddles. Uhm, Tomoe, would you like to accompany me?”

“Oh, sure.” Tomoe finished her tea and bowed lightly, “The tea was wonderful, Jiji. Let me help you clean up.”

Kaoru stood from her spot and disappeared out of the door as her grandfather gave a light stare towards the red head.

“Oh, please, no.” He quickly snatched the cups before Tomoe even had the chance to reply, “I can wash these myself. You go and help Kaoru-chan out. I insist.”

“I… okay, Jiji. Thank you again for the tea. It was lovely.”

Jiji only smiled warmly before shuffling off with a shake of his head, “Such a polite little girl…”

Kaoru walked back into the room at that time and held a hand out to the girl, “Are you ready?”

“Sure.” Tomoe grasped that hand and they both ventured back outside. Before they made it to the gate, Kaoru leant her a pair of… leggings? Her questionable gaze must’ve been obvious because Kaoru answered, “You may chafe if you do not wear these.”

“Chafe…?”

Kaoru didn’t answer, instead just led her to a off to the side of their expansive lot. She began to see a gated off area with two magnificent horses roaming about. Both were similar in stature, but their personalities, Tomoe could tell from here, were different. The lighter one, almost a gleaming white, was demurely walking around the area, munching slowly on the grass below before continuing their way. The other one, a darker white, almost came full steam ahead at the purple hair when she began to open the gate.

Kaoru held a hand out to Tomoe before closing it, leaving Tomoe on the outside as she began to lightly pet the nose of the horse, “Ah, Silver, you missed me, haven’t you?”

“That one’s Silver?” Tomoe leaned against the gate and Kaoru only smiled at her before tending back to the magnificent creature, “Yes. She is quite the rowdy one, if you had not already seen.”

“Ahah, nah, I couldn’t tell in the slightest.”

Kaoru only narrowed her eyes playfully at the blinding grin Tomoe threw her way before she turned her attention back to the mares, the other one slowly making their way upon seeing Kaoru.

“How are you doing, White? I trust Jiji treated you two well.”

She began to pet White, the mare lowering her head and almost butting it against Kaoru’s chest to get as much petting in as she could. Kaoru laughed, and it got louder when Silver began to huff and nudge her in the head.

“So impatient, ne Silver?”

Tomoe’s heart was about to burst out of her chest, watching her girlfriend in her element. She had known Kaoru loved horses, and the girl has even boasted upon the fact that she was quite adept at riding, but she never knew Kaoru actually owned a couple of horses, and seeing her tend to these two and how excited the two were to see her… it made her love the girl even more if that were even possible.

Kaoru looked back to her, those eyes shining brightly and matching the blinding smile that was covering her face, “Now that this one is settled, would you like to try your hand at riding with me, Tomoe?”

“R-Riding?” Tomoe blinked, and laughed while rubbing the back of her head, “Ah, I don’t know how well I would do-”

“Oh, come on, it is not so bad, besides-” Kaoru nudged Silver away for a second, “I’m sure they will love you. And I will not be leaving your side, I will be here for you every step of the way.”

Tomoe narrowed her eyes, “If you’re sure.”

Kaoru opened the gate just enough for Tomoe to slide through, and Kaoru held her hand out to Tomoe to come over to the three, “Silver, White, this is my soulmate Tomoe. A very beautiful and friendly soul, I am sure you two will come to see. Tomoe, this is Silver… and this is White.”

“It is very nice to meet the two of you.” Tomoe walked up to the two and immediately Silver began to sniff her hair, it’s rough snorts moving the strands of her red hair. She then began to butt her head against Tomoe’s. Kaoru laughed, “It seems Silver has taken a liking to you. Quite unusual, as Silver is usually extremely wary of strangers, but I suppose it makes sense, since it is you after all.”

Tomoe couldn’t help the smile on her face as she ran her hand down the nose of the horse. It was almost as if those eyes were staring straight into her, accepting her, and showing their trust in her. It was gratifying to an extent, yet she never realized how much these creatures showed their feelings.

“Horses are very pure beings.” Kaoru was petting the side of White as she spoke, Tomoe jerking out of her trance with Silver to look over at the bombshell that was Kaoru. She looked so in her element, so calm, that Tomoe was almost lost in the picture in front of her when Kaoru began to speak again, “You can tell their true feelings by just looking into their eyes.”

She had noticed that. Something butt into her head again and Tomoe laughed before going back to her pettings.

“Would you like to try your hand at riding now that you are acquainted?”

“Sure!” Tomoe was more into the idea now than previous, given that these two magnificent creatures were already accepting of her. Kaoru went over to the saddles and Tomoe stayed near Silver, White becoming Kaoru’s shadow and following the girl immediately to the stables.

“Will you be alright with me sitting on you, Silver?” Tomoe laughed at her own choice of words, “I might be a little heavy with all the drumming and stuff I do.”

“It would take a lot more weight to affect them, Tomoe.” She looked to the girl who was effortlessly carrying two saddles, “Your weight will be like a feather to them.”

“Alright~” Kaoru went to getting the two ready for riding and as soon as Silver was ready Tomoe was there. Kaoru quirked a brow, “Are you sure you want Silver? She is a bit on the rowdy side.”

“Ah, I’m sure we can handle it, right Silver?” The horse snorted in response and Tomoe only laughed again. Kaoru, in the midst of getting White ready, turned her head with a quirk of her brow, “Are you for sure? Normally inexperienced riders have a hard time with her.”

“Ahhh, I’ll be fine. Promise.” Tomoe leant over and kissed the girl on the cheek before going back to the horse. Kaoru blushed lightly at the sudden kiss but shook it away to show Tomoe how to position herself and how to hold her reins and such. “Now you will want to straighten your back and lift your chin, relaxing your body in the process to make balancing a bit easier.”

“I think I got it- WOAH!” Silver began to trot before Tomoe was fully ready, but she adjusted quickly and she couldn’t help the chuckle, “You really are a rowdy one, eh?”

Kaoru quickly climbed atop White and made her way closer to the two, Silver about going into a full on gallop with Tomoe on her back. Tomoe just laughed, “You are so cute! Please take care of me!”

It seemed, especially with Tomoe patting the horse lightly on the side, to calm Silver a little bit to where the horse began a slow trot around the stables. Kaoru followed suit with White.

“If we head this way we have a small bit of pasture where we can roam a little more freely.”

“That sounds awesome! What do you think Silver? Ah- woah! I think I know her answer!”

“Ahahah Tomoe! Silver! Don’t go too far ahead! Wait for us!”

Meanwhile, in the small kitchen, Jiji watched fondly through the window at the two before getting back to the dishes in front of him.

“They remind me so much of us, Yoko-chan, don’t they you?”

*****

“Ahhh that was so fun!” Tomoe stretched her arms over her head as Kaoru finished polishing the saddles and making sure Silver and White had enough water and food before meeting Tomoe at the entrance of the stall.

“I am glad you enjoyed it.” Kaoru’s small smile got wider at watching the redhead in front of her. She hung up the saddles before making her way to the girl, wrapping her arms around her waist and setting her nose into that head of red hair, “Mmm. I did not expect you and Silver to get along so amicably.”

“Wha? I am a delight, thank you very much.”

“Oh of course.” Kaoru kissed the top of her head, “I fell for you after all.”

Tomoe lighted her head up only to stick her tongue out at her. “Well, we’re soulmates. You’re kinda stuck with me regardless.”

“I suppose so.” Kaoru jumped at the feeling of something wet hitting her hand. Upon looking up she just noticed the overcast and grey clouds slowly covering the blue sky.

“We… should probably head in.” And as she said that the rain began to come down harder, until it was almost going to soak the two to the bone. They both backtracked into the stables, Kaoru looking around for maybe an umbrella Jiji left in the stables by mistake.

She turned though at laughing and her mouth hung open. This girl…

Tomoe was laughing with her arms outstretched, the rain soaking her and her uniform to the bone. “T-Tomoe! You’re getting wet!”

“Ah, c’mon Kaoru!” Tomoe only tilted her head back as the rain continued to fall onto her, “Live a little!”

“You can catch a cold-” Kaoru couldn’t finish her sentence, and yelped instead at the sudden hand yanking her out into the rain, “Tomoe!”

“Come on, Kaoru!” She brought the girl close and that smile was so wide that Kaoru almost was lost in that white smile and blue eyes, “Isn’t it fun to just be out in the rain?”

“I… I suppose so, however-” She did not finish her sentence. She couldn’t. Not with the girl laughing in her arms, head still tilted back and letting the rain wash her worries away. Kaoru was lost in the moment, the rain soaking through her hair and clothing, but none of it mattered with the carefree girl in front of her. Tomoe tilted her head back down to look in Kaoru’s eyes and that smile became just a little bit softer.

“I love you.”

The guitarist blinked, but couldn’t help the small smile and warm feeling overtaking her, “I love you too.”

“Good.” Tomoe leant up and kissed her fiercely, Kaoru stumbling a little at the force before righting herself and grasping onto the girl for stability. Tomoe had her hands in her hair and Kaoru only just let herself melt into the kiss, into the embrace…

Tomoe pulled back just so that their lips were centimeters away. She whispered just so Kaoru barely heard her over the rain, “This was amazing. Thank you for this awesome adventure.”

“No, thank you.” Kaoru moved her hands so they rested on the drummer’s hips, “I… have never let anyone else see this side of me before. And seeing you here with Jiji and even Silver… it has made me fall in love with you even more, if that were even possible.”

Tomoe blinked, a light rosiness dusting her cheeks, before she grinned and set her hands on either side of Kaoru’s face, “Well seeing you in your element made me almost swoon over ya… and meeting your grandfather was… well, let me just say that that man is one of the nicest people I have ever met. I am… incredibly honored that you trust me enough to let me into your life like this. I… love you even more seeing this. You really have so many sides to you, don’t you?”

Kaoru chuckled, “I suppose I do.” She let her forehead rest against Tomoe’s, “Jiji loves you.”

“He better. I’m fucking awesome.”

“Moca-chan is rubbing off on you, my love.”

“Ehh? That’s kinda an insult, I’ll have you know.”

“Mhm. Sure.”

Tomoe huffed and lightly slapped the girl but Kaoru only laughed and just took to reclaiming those lips that she had been itching for. She just wrapped her arms around the girl’s waist and almost tried to meld the two together.

She didn’t want to spend another minute away from this girl, especially seeing how well she fit into her home environment. It was… something she didn’t even know how to comprehend. There were so many warm emotions going through her that she could only hold tightly and kiss this girl in the pouring rain, as dreadfully corny as it was.

Well, it was corny... up until Tomoe let out a loud sneeze that even startled Silver.