Adulthood looked so far away. But maturity came fast. Third year was short. Kotori had her own dreams, too. Ones that she’d put away for Honoka’s sake. And she learned eventually – they all did – that they were all individuals. That they can’t give ourselves up entirely for someone else. …It was funny how quickly people enter and leave each others’ lives.
Another foreign fashion school took notice of her – it was in Austria, apparently – and this time, she went. It was her biggest passion, after all. Being a school idol… was fun while it lasted, but realistically, neither she nor Umi ever dreamed of becoming bigger. Honoka did, but she acknowledged it was just a dream.
But it became her reality. Sometimes, if Umi happened to be watching television, she'd catch her on a variety show… and have to stop and watch. See how much she hadn’t changed. It was nice to see her… even if it wasn’t in person.
Umi went to university near home. she was inheriting the dojo, after all. She needed to learn how to take care of it and manage it. It kept her busy, certainly. But not quite as busy as Honoka and Kotori, she figured. As time went on… they contacted each other less and less. With the work they were involved in, that was to be expected. Umi didn't really think she was fussed about it…
...But maybe she really was. And maybe she missed them both a lot.
All of a sudden, a loud, oscillating electronic tone cut through the air. The phone... Umi wasn’t sure whose number was calling. It wasn't often she got calls to her personal...
“Hello, this is Umi Sonoda.”
“Umi-chan? You haven’t changed your number!”
“Umi-chan, it’s Honoka!”
The phone almost slipped right out of her hand.
“Umi-chan, get this… there's this show... and they're doing this nostalgia thing... and they'd like to see Muse one more time! Do you want to come on? You should come on!”
She didn’t even know how to respond.
“I wonder how Kotori-chan is doing? Wouldn’t it be great if she was here? Aaah, Umi-chan, it would be a dream come true if we could get all nine of us on! I’m sure Nico-chan could come on!”
“H-Honoka! Please slow down! Can you explain again?!”
“I’m sorry, Umi-chan, I’m just… really excited right now! We should talk in person! Why don’t you swing by the bakery? I’m in town, and I was going to visit my parents anyway!”
“But Honoka, I… sure. What time?”
How could she say no?
“I’ll probably be there after it closes! I’m sure Mom will be okay with you sticking around! Okay? I’ll see you then!” And then the line clicked.