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A sky full of stars

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“Ouch!”

Shiori wanted to take her crutches when suddenly, she fell from the chair. Her fractured shinbone accidentally gave the table leg a nudge, leaving the unbearable pain to the still-healing bone. Hearing the loud noise and sob, Rui washed her hands and rushed from the kitchen.

“Alright, you can't walk with crutches in a state like this. Where do you want to go?”

“…bedroom? I want to rest...”

“Okay, say no more. 1, 2, 3!”

And Rui lifted Shiori, carrying the blonde upstairs with piggyback style. A blush came on Shiori's cheeks as she buried her face on Rui's shoulder. After arriving in their bedroom, Rui rested Shiori on the bed.

“I'm still cooking our dinner. I'll bring the food and your crutches upstairs later, okay? Please take some rest. Talk to you later, honey.”

Rui gave a gentle kiss before going back to the kitchen, leaving Shiori with a flushed face.

Chapter Text

Clack! Clack!

With great reflexes, Rui successfully held back the strikes from the bamboo sword. She let out a heavy breath, gripping the tsuka-gawa more firmly before fiercely striked the opponent's do and scored one more ippon.

Shobu ari!

The judge shouted. Rui won the match by scoring two ippon. This would be Rui's third win-streak for today's practice.

Being a stage girl and kendo practitioner at the same time was tiring, but Rui enjoyed all of it, especially when her girlfriend watched every single movement she did with her sword. Her spirit would burn up, taking the match more focused and serious than ever, but…

“Akikaze-san! You look so cool!”

“Can I buy you a drink? Can I?!”

“No! I'm going to buy Akikaze-san a bottle of isotonic faster than you! Wait for me, Akikaze-san!”

Rui had too many fangirls. They were crowding outside the dojo entrance every time she had a match or tournament. She could hear their shouts clearly inside the mask.

Sometimes, she didn't even understand why they would become crazy over her. She didn't think she was cool nor even looked fancy. She was just Akikaze Rui, a normal kendo practitioner with a donut-filled brain. What was so special about her? If she didn't greet them, she would feel bad, but if Shiori ever knew that Rui greeted them, what would be her reaction?

“Uh… just this time, at least to reduce commotion outside…” Rui murmured, “I know you’re here, but I’m sorry Shiori.”

Seeing Rui walk and meet her fangirls outside caught Shiori in jealousy. She was her girlfriend. Shiori even made an attempt to visit Rui's dojo despite the hectic schedule from Siegfeld, but the tall girl chose to meet her fangirls first? Did Rui not see her after all this time?

“I guess I should see what Rui is doing outside with her fangirls...”

Shiori stood up from her seat. She cautiously peeked from the other side, and her eyes became wide-opened.

She didn't know how to... react.

“Wait, what?”

“I-I said, Akikaze-san, p-please be my girlfriend!”

No. No. No. She didn't think she had any hearing problem.

Shiori wanted to shout “But Rui is mine! You can't take her from me! No way!” at first, but she… deep-down, she wanted to see what would be her answer towards the sudden confession.

And…

Rui walked towards her!

Did Rui not realize that I’m here?

“I want to take something inside the dojo.”

W-wait Rui is coming I should hi—

“Shiori?”

Just the moment Shiori wanted to turn her body and tried to tiptoe back to her seat, she was surprised by the voice coming from her front.

“O-oh. Hello, Rui!”

Oh no!

With a smile plastered on her lips, she grasped Shiori's hand and said, “I know you're here since the beginning. Please follow me, Shiori.”

“Ru—”

No further chit-chat from Rui.

She immediately dragged Shiori outside, meeting all of the heart-eyed thirsty fangirls. Shiori could see all the gazes locked on her, making her shudder in horror. Are… Are these the power of fangirls?!

“Ahem.” Rui fake coughed. “Alright, so… umm, can you all see who is on my side now?”

They nodded, still in a cynical stare to Shiori.

“Before I say anything, please, for the love of God, appreciate my decision.”

Another nod.

Before Shiori could even continue breathing normally in-spite-of her jigged heartbeat, Rui draped her arm around Shiori's shoulder, pulling the blonde down into a tender hug.

“I'm sorry for you all, but this beautiful, cute, and small lovely blonde girl is my one and only girlfriend. Thank you for the confession.”

.

.

.

.

.

.

RUI, OH MY GOD.

And thus, Shiori died in embarrassment until the end of the day.

Chapter Text

Late-January was still winter. The cold wind that blew from the mountain area helped to drop the temperature even more.

“Oh? This chamomile tastes fantastic.”

“My chrysanthemum tea won't lose neith—Hey don't pour the ponzu over your tea!”

“But isn't Lady Grey the greatest of all? The light flavor with a slight citrus taste quenches my thirst after the first sip.”

Today was a sisters' day out for the trio Claudine, Fumi, and Shiori. Taking one day-off from all their work schedules, the trio took a trip to the newest tea shop that was opened by early January.

One more sip. Shiori put the cup back on the table before she was completely quiet.

“—Everything that I need is right with me.”

Huh? Did I hear something?

“—Come to me. All that I say's already said.”

Is someone singing? From where...

Shiori felt called into the world of unknownness. Such a beautiful voice that perfectly in-tune with the guitar.

Whose voice was that?

Shiori sought to know. An urge to find out slowly emerged from her heart. The euphonious voice blew her mind away.

“—ori. Shiori.”

“Ah,” Shiori snapped out from her reverie. “Sorry, Kuro-nee. What is it again?”

Tu vas bien, Shiori? All of a sudden, you became quiet.”

The youngest blonde shook her head. “No, it's nothing, Kuro-nee. I'm just... listening to someone's singing?”

“You're right,” Fumi confirmed. “Should be from outside. A street musician? Interesting. What do you think, Claudine?”

“Hmm...” Claudine rested her chin on her hands. “Her voice is deep, yet it's really nice. It's calming. Well I mean like, I'm already used to Maya's voice whenever we—”

“Claudine. Public. No dirty talk, dumbass.”

“Whoops. It nearly slipped out from my lips.”

“Anyway!” Shiori stood from her chair. “I'm going to check it out! Excuse me for a while!”

With a quick step, Shiori came outside the tea shop. A chilly wind welcomed her as she turned her head while searching for the voice that stole her heart away.

“—Little time not a moment wasted with you.”

Mesmerizing voice.

“—I realised, to stay. We had to break away.”

But why does it slowly turn more sad as time passes away...?

Unconsciously, she had already arrived in front of the street musician. A girl with a long dark brown ponytail and a grey winter jacket, complete with the fiery red eyes that were focusing on the guitar. Her fingers danced on the fret, creating harmonious notes that accompanied her exquisite voice.

“—There is one word that I can't forget.”

—Goodbye. Good goodbye.”

Shiori didn't expect a mere stranger could steal her heart away.

Just who is the musician?

Shiori wanted to know more, more, and more of her.

Who are you, really?

And even when the performance ended, she was still standing there.

“Thank you for listening to my cover of Good Goodbye by ONE OK ROCK! It's one of my favorite songs so I hope it reached your heart!”

Yes. It did really reach my heart. You even stole it away. Brilliantly magical performance.

People applauded the street musician, threw some tips into the case, and walked away.

When the people had gone, their eyes finally met, gazing at each other.

“E-Eh? You still here?!”

“Ah, no, um...”

“What's wrong?”

Shiori stammered. “It... It was a v-very splendid performance. I really liked it so much! Especially in this kind of cold weather... you nailed it.”

“Mm... Which parts do you like, if I may know?”

“I-I mean the guitar! Yes, you're skillful at playing guitar! A-and...” Shiori took a breath. “...your voice. Thank you for stealing my heart.”

Hearing that, Shiori could see a smile on the musician's lips. A delightful, bright smile.

“Thank... you so much for your honest compliment! I'm really glad to hear that! It’s been a while since the last time I hear a really, really honest compliment like that! Also, last thing before we part away...” The brown-haired musician opened the side pocket of the case, revealing a cardholder. “Here's my name card. My name is Akikaze Rui! I hope we can meet again someday. There is one word that I can’t forget, and that is… a good goodbye.

Chapter Text

A drift of summer breeze went by gently, brushing the stem and petals of flowers and making them dance all the while. The Labrador barked, running here and there, wagging his tail excitedly while trying to ask the already-yawned Norwegian Forest cat to play together.

“It sure is a nice summer holiday, right Rui?”

Shiori came to the veranda, bringing a box of macaroons and two cups of jasmine tea to accompany them in the afternoon. Meanwhile, Rui was relaxing on the long chair while looking at their pets. She turned her head and let out a soft chuckle.

“It is, especially when I'm here with you, Shiori.”

Shiori stopped. She nearly dropped the tray.

“Hehe!” Rui giggled, seeing the blonde's reaction. “Love you!”

And Shiori just stood there, wanting to dig a hole and bury herself.

Rui I love you too but please I'm currently bringing our afternoon tea you dummy...!