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Yomi-yuri-land

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A scent of caramel and fried food floated in the air, invading Rui's nostril as the thought of getting donuts later already made her salivate.

It has been a while since the last time Rui went to an amusement park. She still remembered her younger self, feeling over-excited at the prospect of trying every attraction that wasn't too scary, before getting rewarded by her parents with her favorite dessert.

However, although Rui was looking forward to another dreamy day where she would get past her initial fear of trying the rollercoasters, she also felt apprehensive at the idea of hanging out with someone she wasn't used to staying with.

She never expected Ebisu-san to drag her and Shiori-san in such a place, after all. And to suddenly disappear.

"Uhm… Akikaze-san…? Do you think Ebisu-san will come back…?"

Rui glanced at Shiori-san, who seemed as confused as she was. What was she supposed to answer…? There was no way Ebisu-san would leave them, right…? She said that she wanted today to be a day 'to see each other again and mingle'. She wouldn't abandon her two kouhai, right?!

"Akikaze-san…?"

"A-Ah! Sorry, Shiori-san!" Rui yelped, scratching the back of her neck sheepishly," I… Have no idea… I was surprised when she offered us those two tickets, but I didn't think she would disappear when she said 'I'm coming back in five minutes!!'? I hope she's okay…?"

"Yes… We have been waiting for almost twenty minutes now…"

Rui studied Shiori-san's expression, the way her eyebrows would furrow with concern. Okay… Now, she was supposed to be the older one, wasn't she? And this wasn't often that they would get the opportunity to take a break at Yomiuriland. Shiori-san definitely deserved to have fun, and Fumi-senpai would probably kill Rui if she didn't treat her little sister the way she deserved to be cared for.

She was the senpai, today. And as the older girl, she had to reassure Shiori-san. And made sure she wouldn't forget that day.

"Y-You know, we don't have often the chance to hang out in an amusement park, right? Maybe we should just, enjoy the day…?"

Shiori-san's eyes widened at the statement. She studied Rui for a bit, making sure this was alright before she cracked a big smile. "I would love to! I-It's been a long time since I last went to a park like this one. You don't mind, do you…? Spending the day with me, I mean."

"Of course not!" Rui smiled back, slowly relaxing upon seeing the younger girl's enthusiasm, "I'm looking forward to talking to you a bit more. I've heard so much about you and we never really got a chance to talk ever since Omikyuji. And I've been wanting to go to an amusement park for ages. I'm glad Ebisu-san invited us."

~

"Shiori-san, are you sure we are allowed to drive these cars…? We don't have our driving license…"

Rui observed the people her age queuing to enter the circuit as if they were some kind of delinquents, wondering if they were even allowed to go to this attraction without their license.

"I suppose so? This is a family circuit, you know." Shiori-san chuckled, hopping happily on the driver's seat. "We could do the attraction twice so we take turns at driving if you want?"

"Okay! Do you, huh, know how those things work?"

"I don't! But we are going to beat those two."

"… Competitive, huh?" Rui cracked a grin, her combative instinct fueling her, "bring it on! We better not lose a single round, then!"

~

Their first driving experience ended in waves of laughter, with both girls doing their absolute best to wipe the road in front of their opponent. Even though they couldn’t push the speed too high, they probably startled other people with their single-minded determination to win.

The two girls continued their journey through the park, chatting energetically and sharing their experiences among their respective schools. Rui tried to avoid the topic of Fumi-senpai as much as possible: while she was aware of their mutual sibling affection, she knew that their issues weren't settled and Rui didn't want to rub salt over a still opened wound.

The more she discussed with Shiori-san, the more she discovered parts of the girls she never expected to see. Rui couldn't help but want to learn more about the younger girl, even if this lead to make this day be full of surprises.

"Shiori-san… Are you sure about this bungee platform challenge…?" Rui gulped, feeling her legs being rooted to their spot as she seized the height of the attraction.

"You lost at the bumper car, Akikaze-san. And you said that the winner could give the loser a challenge!" Shiori-san grinned, still savoring her victory – even though of course, Rui let her win. At least, that's what she told herself so the defeat would feel less bitter.

"But you chose the scariest one!"

"It's okay, you are strong, Akikaze-san. I am sure you will be satisfied once you get over it! And everyone finds it impressive, you know? Someone who jump from that high…"

Impressive… For a minute, Rui imagined Tamao-senpai, cheering up at her for her courage. She was there, next to Shiori-san, both impressed by how cool Rui wa-

Wait. Rui shook her head, trying to make her sudden running thoughts vanish when more and more girls in cheerleader outfits appeared to encourage her.

"Would you jump with me, then?"

Shiori-san smiled sweetly, patting Rui's shoulder, "good luck~."

How mean!

"I-I will do it only if you ditch the Akikaze-san afterward!" Rui stated indignantly, trying to look like a sweet senpai. "You can call me Rui-san, you know?"

A light pink tainted Shiori-san's cheeks, probably because of the sun. "O-Okay…"

"Good!" Rui waved backward, approaching the stairs with firm steps, but climbing them with wobbly legs.

What was going to happen?

Once Rui reached the top, everything seemed so small. Her surrounding, people under her… Ultimately, Rui was alone. There were only her and the attraction instructor, with only Shiori-san cheering her up from the floor.

That was right. They were alone. And Rui felt scared. She couldn't hear anything from what Shiori-san or the instructor were saying, the voices buzzing in her ears in a way she couldn't comprehend.

She could do it. It was safe, right? She had all the necessary protection to do that jump and everyone would be impressed that she did.

Or maybe no one would ever hear about it, and only she would be satisfied by her prowess.

When Rui jumped, everything became white as a rush of adrenaline invaded her body. Even though she felt like she was about to die, she has never felt so alive.

 She couldn't stop grinning when the instructor finally brought her back to the floor, and she ignored Shiori-san comment about her very girlish screams. She couldn't help but hug the girl as support, and she ruffled her hair when Shiori-san finally called her Rui-san.

They became friends over a challenge, and Rui couldn't feel happier about this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 ~

As a reward for Rui's successful challenge, Shiori-san promised to treat her for donuts – this fried goodness that Rui drooled about since they entered the park. However, when the girls passed by a high striker in a fairground and Rui noticed how Shiori-san ogled the horse plushie reward, she couldn't help but think that her stomach could wait a bit in favor of the younger girl's happiness.

Rui walked to the high striker, giving Shiori-san a confident smile as she watched her with a confused expression. Rui ignored the man working at the stall who snickered at her and grabbed the hammer. Strength tests were as much as mental as they were physical challenges – thus, Rui took a deep breath, concentrating as much as she could before she placed all her weight in her arms to hit her target.

Both Shiori-san and the man gasped when the bell rang, announcing the highest score.

"Thanks…" Shiori-san whispered when Rui handed her the plushie, holding it like she was carrying the most precious existing treasure in existence.

Cute…

Rui felt her cheek heating a bit at sight, and could only look away. What was that? Why was she feeling so confused right now, and why didn't she want this day to end?

~

"Today was really fun," Shiori-san sighed, seemingly sharing Rui's sentiment. She tightened her hold around Haru, her newly-named plushie, "thank you so much, Rui-san…"

"Yeah, I'm really happy that Ebisu-san invited us…" Rui smiled, chomping onto her fresh donut and immediately beaming as the sweet taste invaded her senses.

For some reason, her passion for her favorite dessert made Shiori-san chuckle.

"D-Do I have something on my face…?"

"No, I just think you look very cute when you're fired up like this, Rui-san."

Once again, Rui's face burned at the comment. She certainly wasn't the cute one between the two of them… And she wasn't even sure why her heart acted the way it did at the thought.

She only knew that she wanted to see the other girl again. She just needed a bit of courage, to act the way she did during the whole day: not too shyly, like a true senpai.

"Shiori-san," Rui started sheepishly, playing with her ponytail to distract herself, "do… you mind if we exchange phone numbers…? O-Only if you want to, of course! But it would be nice if we could hang out some more."

The silence that follows Rui's request felt like an eternity. For a moment, she thought she had messed up, that she had stepped over a boundary she should never have crossed. What if Fumi-senpai killed her for that?!

The smile that followed, as beautiful as the sunset behind them, vanished all Rui's worries to leave room for a warmth Rui never wanted to forget.

"I would love to…"

Although Rui didn't know what the future would bring, she was looking forward to spending more time with this girl she had so much to discover about.