Chapter 1: Lisa's Unsurprising Surprise
Happy Birthday Imai Lisa! I'm proud that I get to share a birthday with a character that I admire so much.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Title: Lisa’s Unsurprising Surprise
Main Ship(s): YukiLisa
Word Count: 2172
It was quiet in Livehouse CiRCLE, as Lisa headed back to the practice room that Roselia had booked. This wasn't an unusual occurrence for them. Thanks to Yukina and Sayo’s focus on devotion to the band and perfecting their sound, they had always tended to practice later than most others that booked rooms at CiRCLE - although the two had relatively mellowed out over time, this habit still lingered on. What was unusual, however, was that she could hear her bandmates chatting. Even Yukina seemed to be involved, which was far more than unusual.
“Are you certain that Imai-san will appreciate such a surprise?” Wait, she thought, they were talking about her? And a surprise?
“Yeah! This’ll be perfect, I know it! Right, Rinrin?” This had to be something to do with her birthday, Lisa reasoned, some sort of surprise party for her. She smiled. They may have done a poor job of keeping their surprise a surprise, but they were going out of their way to plan this for her. “You guys know what you're gonna get her, right?”
“Of course.” Yukina stated firmly. “I have no doubt that you are all the same way. I will accept nothing but the best for her.” Whoa, she certainly hadn't expected Yukina to be so… candid.
“Haz— I have an idea worked out, yes.” Sayo stumbled.
“Ako-chan and I have… decided too.” Should she really be listening to them talk about this, she now questioned herself, they were doing it for her after all.
“Hmm, Imai-san has been quite awhile.” Oh right, she was only meant to have been grabbing the five of them some drinks. An excuse, an excuse, an excuse. Ah, she’d say she had been chatting with Marina-san, that would work well enough as long as they didn't ask for any details. She took a deep breath, and opened the door to the practice room.
“Ahaha, sorry I took so long,” that had sounded far too awkward, “I got distracted chatting with Marina-san.” The four of them stared at her. “Ah, is something wrong?”
“Oh, uh, nothing Lisa-nee.”
“Right, let’s get back to practice then.” Sayo stood up.
“Wha— Bu— Sayo-san, drinks!” Ako exclaimed, pointing at the cans in Lisa's hands. Sayo sighed, then sat back down.
“All right, but we return to practice immediately afterwards.” She stated as Lisa placed the drinks down on the table. Lisa glanced between them. She felt annoyingly guilty. Lisa knew that she should not have listened in on her bandmates discussing what was unquestionably her own surprise birthday party, but she hadn’t even tried to resist the temptation.
“Lisa, are you feeling unwell, you seem… different than usual.” Lisa froze as Yukina turned her gaze on her. She looked… soft, kind, warm.
“Ah, I’m fine, I feel the same as always, you know?” She noticed Sayo frown in the corner of her eye. “We should probably get back to practice, right? Right, Sayo?”
“Your drink will still be here after practice, Udagawa-san.”
Lisa was starting to feel less guilty about listening to their conversations about her surprise party, almost entirely due to the fact that the four of her friends had been doing an absolutely terrible job of hiding it. They had made a point of having Lisa collect drinks for them, alone, at every practice session since the 18th and, quite honestly, she was beginning to get tired of having to carefully carry five cans from CiRCLE’s lobby to their practice room.
“And then, when she walks in, we all jump out from behind some of the stuff here, like the amp or my drums, and say ‘Happy Birthday Lisa-nee’!” Ako had been the worst at keeping her surprise party a secret. Every time Lisa spoke to her, Ako seemed to be just about bursting at the seams, as if she were ready to tell Lisa everything about the party at any moment. Although, none of them had told her anything directly so far, so she supposed that they had - in their minds, at least - kept the party a secret.
“And then we give her her gifts after that?” Was Sayo really this clueless about things like this, Lisa thought to herself.
“Yes… Hikawa-san…” Surely Sayo had to have experienced a surprise party at some point. Then again, Hina being her twin sister always seemed to throw a wrench into the gears, no matter the situation, so maybe that was the problem. Wait, she was distracting herself again, how long had she been standing outside of the door? No, that didn’t matter, she should just head inside.
“Lisa-nee, welcome back!”
“Thank you again for buying the drinks, Imai-san.” Sayo helped Lisa place the cans down on the table.
“Oh, it’s no problem, I like helping out where I can.”
“If you need… any help next time… Imai-san, please ask.” Rinko smiles faintly at her, but she shakes her head.
“I’m fine, it’s not that hard to carry them here.” Maybe it was selfish, but she wanted to be able to listen to them if they discussed her party again tomorrow. Well, Lisa didn’t think there was a ‘maybe’ to it.
The day had arrived. August 25th. Her birthday. The day that Roselia would surprise her in the practice room at CiRCLE. Well, ‘surprise’ wasn’t exactly accurate, she supposed. She had already received many messages wishing her a happy birthday from the girls in the other bands, but all Roselia had remained, unsurprisingly, silent. Now, here she was, walking to CiRCLE alone with the knowledge that the other four would be waiting in the practice room to surprise her. Now that it was here, all of the small amounts of satisfaction that she had felt from knowing had been replaced by feelings of intense disappointment. She had knowingly robbed herself of the experience, and she now wished she hadn’t.
“Oh, Lisa-senpai, good afternoon.”
“Afternoon, Tsugumi.” Okay, Tsugumi, she would be a good distraction from the disappointment in herself that she was currently feeling. “How are things going with Sayo?” The other girl immediately blushed, looking at her feet.
“Well, we’ve been meeting up on the weekends and baking together,” she fiddled with the hem of her skirt, “but I haven’t… asked her on a date yet…” She trailed off. “But that’s okay, I’m fine just being friends, you know? I wouldn’t want to ruin that.” Gosh, Tsugumi was adorable, she could see why Sayo liked her so much, something about her made Lisa just want to hug her tight and never let her go. “Ah, we’re here already.” Wait, no, she wasn’t ready yet. “Lisa-senpai?”
“You’ve got practice too, Tsugumi?”
“Oh, um, yeah, Afterglow have practice too. Uh, see you later, Lisa-senpai.” Tsugumi quickly dashed inside of CiRCLE, leaving Lisa standing alone in front of the double doors.
“Right, surprised. Just act surprised, it’s easy.” She whispered to herself, and walked inside.
“Ah, Lisa-chan, they’re in the usual room.” Marina-san tells her from behind the counter.
“Thank you, Marina-san.” She wandered slowly down the hall towards Roselia’s usual practice room, reaching the door far faster than she wished to. She stopped outside of the door, hand resting on the handle. She took a long breath and then stepped inside.
“Imai-san, you’re late, we were supposed to start practice ten minutes ago.” Sayo glared at her, guitar strap around her shoulders.
“Shame on you, Lisa-nee.” Ako tried, poorly, to hide a smile.
“Wait— But I thought—” Lisa glanced between the four of her bandmates as they stood ready at their usual places. “I don’t under-”
“Happy Birthday Lisa!” Suddenly, voices erupted from all around her. Inside of the room and outside of the room, in front of her and behind her, seemingly everywhere at once. It was a cacophony of a single sentence. Everyone was there. Everyone . As she slowly spun around, she could see that not a single person was missing. Poppin’Party had - rather fittingly - popped up from behind some of the instruments; Afterglow were tucked behind a corner, heads peeking out to see her; Pastel*Palettes were dotted around the practice room; Hello, Happy World!, Raise A Suilen, and Morfonica all stood behind her, outside of the room, with Marina-san at their head. And, of course, front and centre, were her very own Roselia.
“I… I… You guys, you all…” Her vision began to blur, “you tricked me.” Lisa laughed. She had thought that they were being obvious, but she hadn’t even considered that it could have been a part of their plan.
“You can blame Udagawa-san for that idea. Ah, referring to Ako-san, of course.” Sayo smiled, and Ako was grinning, clearly incredibly proud of herself.
“It was a good idea, right, Lisa-nee? Right?” Ako bounced up and down on her stool.
“Yeah,” she said, “it was better than anything I could have asked for.” Her blurred vision cleared, but she could feel the tears sliding down her cheeks.
“Lisa, are you alright?” Yukina walked over to her, and she nodded.
“I am, I’m… I’m really happy. Thank you, everyone.”
“I believe we give her our gifts now, do we not?” Sayo said calmly, holding a neatly wrapped box in her hands. Wait, so Sayo had been serious when she had been asking questions about the surprise party, that hadn’t been for show?
“Right,” Ako leapt up from her seat, “Lisa-nee, this is from me and Rinrin!”
“Oh, you really shouldn’t have, after all, I don’t know if I really deserve—”
“You deserve this more than anyone else, Lisa,” Yukina stopped her, smiling, smiling ! Lisa almost wanted to fade away. She carefully tore the paper off of Ako and Rinko’s present.
“Oh, an apron,” Lisa gasped, “I’ve needed a new one for a while, how did you know?”
“Yukina-san told us that you accidentally tore your old one, and since she’s getting you-” Ako covered her mouth with her hand, “Ah, forget I said that, forget it!” She flapped her arms about.
“We… hope that you like it… Imai-san…” Rinko smiled at her.
“I love it already. Thank you, Ako, Rinko.” She pulled the two into a tight embrace. Sayo timidly made her way over to Lisa, her arms behind her back.
“Imai-san, I— ah, Hazawa-san and I, that is, made you these…” Sayo quickly handed her a wrapped box, before scampering back and standing next to Tsugumi, her face all red. Lisa smirked at Sayo, before glancing down at the gift. She lifted the lid, revealing a large batch of various cookies.
“Wow, Sayo these look incredible! You’ve gotten really good at this.” Sayo’s already red face reddened further, and she turned away. Lisa grabbed one of the cookies from the box before taking a bite. “Ah, they taste even better than they look too!” She said, and Tsugumi smiled at her.
“Sayo-san worked really hard on them, she really wanted to get them right.” Sayo said nothing, only quickly glancing over her shoulder.
“Thanks, Sayo, I love them.”
“It’s… no problem, Imai-san. I’m… I’m glad you like them. Ah, M— Minato-san, don’t you need to give her your present?” Sayo stammered, and Lisa looked over to Yukina. She stood there in silence for a short moment.
“I shall give Lisa her gift once we get home.” She said, which immediately piqued Lisa’s curiosity, “I hope you do not mind waiting.”
“Well,” Lisa said, “if it’s you, Yukina.”
“Did you… enjoy your surprise party, Lisa?” Yukina asked as the two of them finally headed home.
“I loved it, but…” Lisa paused, “I was actually kinda scared at first, you know?”
“Scared?” Yukina cocked her head.
“Mm, I thought I'd ruined it, 'cause I'd overheard everything. Or, I thought I'd overheard everything.” She rubbed the back of her neck.
“You could never ruin anything Lisa.” Both girls immediately blushed.
“Yu— Yu— Yukina‽” Lisa gasped, “don’t just— say something like that so suddenly, it’s embarrassing.”
“We’re home,” Yukina said, “would you like to come in? I left your gift in my bedroom.” Yukina acting so affectionate was unusual, but Lisa wasn’t going to argue against it.
“Pardon the intrusion.” Yukina immediately headed to her bedroom, gently pulling Lisa along with her. “Yukina, I know where your bedroom is, you don’t need to drag me.”
“Here,” she handed Lisa a small box. It looked rather plain. No, she thought, that was too harsh, it was modest. Yes, that was a better description. She lifted the lid, and gasped. Placed neatly inside was a necklace. A silver chain leading down to a carved, pale red stone.
“Yukina, this is—”
“A necklace,” she said, “a rhodonite pendant.”
“How much… How much did this cost?”
“That isn’t important. Do… you like it?” Yukina suddenly seemed nervous, and Lisa felt herself tearing up all over again.
“It’s… incredible. I love it, Yukina.” Lisa threw her arms around her, and, after a moment, Yukina returned the embrace.
“I ap—” Yukina stopped herself, “I love you, Lisa.”
“I love you too Yukina.”
Now we've come to the end of the fic. This is the first story I've actually finished and posted in years (and the first I've posted to AO3 ever) and I can't say that I'm 100% happy with it. I don't know if I got the characterisation of each of the girls right, and I think my balance of dialogue vs description is weighted too heavily on the side of dialogue in many places. However, I wanted to actually get this done and posted before I started to doubt myself once again and let this rot alongside my many, many other stories in my Google Drive folders. Any and all constructive criticism is welcome.
Anyways, thank you for reading, and always Keep Moving Forward!
Chapter 2: Can't stop the Jingle Bells
AfterSelia get together on Christmas Day.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Title: Can’t stop the Jingle Bells
Main Ship(s): SayoTsugu; TomoHima; MocaRan; YukiLisa; AkoRinko
Word Count: 2472
AfterSelia get-togethers always ended up rather rowdy. And Christmas, Sayo knew, would be no different. Tomoe and Himari's house was this year's venue, and she did not envy them for the clean-up that would inevitably follow the next day. Although, next Christmas she and Tsugumi would be hosting, so she would experience it soon enough, Sayo supposed.
“Ah, Tsugu, Sayo!” Himari cheered after throwing the door open. “You’re the first ones here. We haven’t finished getting everything set up yet, but we’re nearly done. Right, babe?” Tomoe poked her head out from further inside and flashed a thumbs-up. “Yep, nearly done.”
“Would you like us to help you finish up,” Tsugumi asked, “we wouldn’t mind, right Sayo?”
“Ah, no, I couldn’t ask you to do that! Just relax in the living room until the others get here.” Himari ushered them through the doors. Their living room was nice, Sayo had always liked it. It was large enough to comfortably fit all of them inside, but still retained a small and cosy feeling that made their monthly movie-nights even better. Himari waved the two of them in, then quickly dashed back out. The two took their usual seats, sat next to one another on the sofa.
“It’s fine, it’s fine !” There was a crashing sound from just outside of the room.
“Himari-chan! Tomoe-chan! Are you two okay!” Tsugumi immediately called out.
“We’re fine, Tsugu, don’t wo— no, no, Tomoe, that’s gonna fall!” Sayo winced as the entire room seemed to shake. “See, totally fine!” In her personal opinion, it did not sound fine, but she had come to learn that Himari was rather pedantic when it came to rules of guests and hosts.
“Maybe— Maybe I should go and help them,” Tsugumi murmured, moving to stand back up.
“Maybe not,” Sayo smiled as another heavy thud erupted from just outside of the living room, “you and I both know how Himari-san gets about that. Besides, you’ve been working really hard in the café over the last few weeks.” Tsugumi sat back down, letting out a soft sigh, and rested her head on Sayo’s shoulder. They sat in comfortable silence, Sayo running a hand through Tsugumi’s hair whilst she smiled.
“I love you, Sayo.”
“I love you too, Tsugumi.” For a long time, just thinking about saying those words was enough to make Sayo freeze from anxiety. She hadn’t fallen in love with anyone before Tsugumi and, for years, Sayo hadn’t even loved herself. But she had moved past that now, she had long since moved past it.
“Ohoho, are we interrupting something~?” Sayo glanced over at the door, already knowing who the culprit was. “Think we should leave the two lovebirds alone, Ran~?”
“Good afternoon, Ran-san, Aoba-san ,” Sayo said, locking eyes with Moca.
“Uh oh, Ran, I got downgraded to my family name again, I must have been naughty . Does Sayo-san want to pu—”
“That’s enough Moca,” said Ran, nudging Moca with her elbow. Moca just laughed.
“Sorry Sayochi, seems Ran wants to keep me to herse—” Ran placed her hand over Moca’s mouth much too late.
“Stop. Talking,” she hissed, her face flushed red. Moca simply waggled her eyebrows, clearly grinning beneath Ran’s hand. “Tsugumi, Sayo-san, it’s nice to see you.”
“It’s only been a week since you last came to the café, Ran-chan.” Tsugumi said, sitting up. “It’s not like we never see each other.” In fact, Ran was one of the café’s most frequent customers, her family’s flower arrangement school being so near to their café - Sayo still thought referring to it as their café sounded weird. It was Hazawa café, after all, and she wasn’t a Hazawa.
“It’s nice to see you too, Ran-san.” Sayo nodded at her as the two took their own seats, Moca immediately jumping into Ran’s lap. “And I see that you’re as affectionate as ever, Moca-san,” she smiled. She had grown inexplicably fond of her friends’ displays of affection, even those as purposefully obnoxious as Moca’s. They were oddly comforting.
“Ran’s too cu~te, I just can’t stop myself.”
“I thought I told you to stop talking…” she muttered into Moca’s shoulder. “Besides,” her voice was almost inaudible, “you’re much cuter than me, Moca.”
“Ah~ Ran,” gasped Moca, “gimme a ki~ss!” Moca twisted around to face her, quickly leaning in.
“Mo— Moca!” Ran held out for barely a second before she relented. Sayo glanced over at Tsugumi whilst the two kissed, who smiled back at her.
“Okay, we’re done, guys. Nothing broke, thankfully.” Tomoe walked in. “Whoa, get it Ran.” She whistled and Ran quickly broke away, flushed bright red once again. Tomoe plopped down next to Tsugumi, sending a wave through the cushions of the sofa. “Ah,” she groaned, “it’s nice to have that done with. Now all that’s left is to party.”
“Lisa, Yukina!” Himari’s voice came faintly from the front door.
“Hey hey, Tomo-chin, how much alcohol do we have?” Drinking had been a staple of AfterSelia get-togethers from day one and, as expected, the results were always chaotic. But, Sayo had come to enjoy the unique energy it brought, even if she had sworn off alcohol herself. Drunk Sayo was the jealous type, as they had all found out when she had almost torn the head off of Drunk Moca for trying to flirt with a similarly drunk Tsugumi.
“Should have enough to last the night as long as we don’t go too nuts, so we don’t need to worry,” answered Tomoe, resting her head on the top of the sofa cushion.
“Good afternoon, everyone.” Yukina and Lisa greeted as they walked in.
“Just Rinko and Ako-chan left to get here now. Then we can get properly started!” Himari cheered, opening a can of beer.
“Gasp, Hii-chan,” Moca said sarcastically, “I am appalled, you didn’t get me a beer!” Sayo rolled her eyes at Moca’s antics, whilst Himari puffed her cheeks.
“You know where the fridge is, Moca, you can get one yourself,” she huffed and folded her arms.
“Ra~n~,” Moca immediately whined to her girlfriend, “Hii-chan’s being me~an to me, can you get me a beer instead?”
“You’re sitting on me,” she deadpanned but was only given a shrug in response.
“Sa~yo~!” Lisa enveloped her in a tight hug - as well as she could, considering Sayo’s position on the sofa - and Sayo let out a grunt. “It’s been ages .”
“Lisa, we all saw each other at the previous movie night, last month,” Yukina corrected her, looking to Sayo, “though, perhaps I would prefer if we could all see each other more frequently,” she admitted. Sayo would have much preferred that too, but - as it turned out all too often - life had a habit of getting in the way of such things. She still missed their practice sessions. Even years later, things didn’t feel quite the same without them.
“Sayo, would you like a drink?” Tsugumi stood up, and Sayo looked over at her. Honestly, every time Sayo looked at her, she could have sworn she fell in love with Tsugumi again. She would never be able to explain, even if she wanted to, it was just something that always struck her.
“Please, a water would be appreciated. Thank you, Tsugumi.” Sayo stared at Tsugumi as she headed out towards the kitchen.
“Oh, Tsugu, let me come with you!” Himari followed her out.
“You still have it bad, Sayo.” Lisa grinned, nudging her with her elbow. It was a familiar line, Lisa had said similar things to her ever since she had told Roselia that she and Tsugumi were dating. “When are you gonna ask her?”
“Ask her? Ask her what?” Sayo tilted her head, and Lisa laughed. “I don’t understand what you mean, Lisa-san.”
“She means, when are you gonna ask our Tsugu to marry you, you doofus.” Tomoe lightly poked her in the ribs. She instantly felt the blood rush to her face and she turned her gaze to the floor.
“It’s— I think— I don’t know if I’d be ready to… take that step, just yet.” Marriage. Sayo couldn’t say that she hadn’t thought about it without lying through her teeth, but that didn’t make the idea any less embarrassing. Marriage meant— marriage meant— it meant living together - which they already did, Sayo noted - it meant sharing everything with each other - which they already did, she noted again - and it meant sharing a name - which she didn’t dislike the thought of, she realised.
“Hey, that’s okay,” Lisa said, “I don’t want to force you into it, or anything. I just thought you might have been thinking about it, you know.”
“It’s— it’s alright, Lisa-san.” Inside, Sayo wanted to curl up into a ball. How could she ask Tsugumi to ever marry her? It had been years, and she still was surprised that Tsugumi had even asked her out in the first place, everything after that had only added to that surprise.
“Sayo, I got you your drink. Ah, you’re all red, you’re not getting sick are you?” Tsugumi sat back down next to her, handing her a cup of water.
“She’s definitely sick, Tsugu~,” Moca piped up with a grin, “sick with her lo~ve for you.” Tsugumi laughed, a faint blush dusting her cheeks.
“Stop teasing us, Moca-chan,” she said with an audible smile.
“Me, the great Moca-chan, teasing you? I would ne~ver.” There was a soft buzz in her pocket, so she pulled out her phone, swiftly tapping in her passcode.
“Ako-san just texted, she says that she and Rinko-san are here, she just needs some help bringing all of their things inside,” Sayo stated, “I’m going to go help her.” She quickly stood and headed out, opening the door.
“Oh, Sayo-san, hi!” Ako cried out, “here, hold these, please. Ah, Rinrin, stop, don’t exert yourself so much, you should let me carry those!” Ako rushed back over to her small car, grabbing at the few presents Rinko was carrying.
“Ako-chan, it’s fine, I can hold this much.”
“But I don’t want you to hurt yourself,” Ako whined. Even now, Sayo thought, she still managed to sound like a child. It was endearing, Ako would always be Ako no matter how much things in their lives changed.
“Ako-chan, I’m pregnant, not helpless.” And some things had definitely changed. “Ah, Sayo-san, happy Christmas.” Rinko waved at her.
“Happy Christmas, Rinko-san. Have you all been well?” Sayo waited in the doorway as they headed over.
“We have. We’ve… had a wobble or two, but… we’re okay. Although Ako-chan can be a little… overprotective.” Rinko glanced over at her wife.
“I’m just making sure you’re safe, Rinrin,” she pouted.
“I know, Ako-chan.” Sayo shivered as a sharp gust of winter wind blew past.
“Come inside, it’s cold out here.” She stepped aside to let them past her, then closed the door and they walked to the living room.
“We’re going on a date for my birthday… I think I’ll do it then.” Tsugumi’s voice was faint but audible from inside.
“Rinrin and I brought gifts!” Ako called out as she bumped one of the living room doors open with her hip. “I hope everyone’s ready.”
“Good afternoon… everyone.” Finally, the whole group was together - a feat that they hadn’t achieved for the better part of a year. “It’s nice... to see you all.” Rinko set her presents down gently, then slowly walked towards the sofa.
“Ah, Rinrin, do you ne—”
“I’m all right, Ako-chan,” Rinko quickly stopped her, carefully sitting down between Tomoe and Ran. Sayo glanced over at Tsugumi, who was now sitting on the floor with her back leant against the sofa, now chatting with Lisa and Himari with a warm smile on her face.
“Oh, Sayo, we left our gifts in the car, didn’t we?” Tsugumi spoke up when she noticed her.
“We did. Would you like me to go and get them?” she replied. Tsugumi shook her head.
“Now that Ako-chin’s here,” Moca said, walking back into the room with a large case of beer cradled in her arms, “the party can properly begin.” She tossed a can in Ako’s direction, who clumsily caught it before looking over at Rinko.
“You can drink, Ako-chan, I told you that I can drive us home,” reassured Rinko, although Ako still looked unconvinced.
“Fine to drive us home, Ako-chan.” It was almost funny seeing just how overprotective Ako could be, but Rinko had already made it known to Sayo that she could be a little stifling at times. Sayo could definitely see how this could be the case, considering Rinko hardly seemed to be able to even breathe without Ako fretting over her. “Would you mind getting me some water, Ako-chan?”
“Right away, Rinrin!” Rinko let out an exhausted sigh and slumped further into the sofa after Ako left the room. Sayo headed over, taking a seat on the floor next to Tsugumi, placing her hand atop of Tsugumi’s and lacing their fingers.
“Has Ako been bothering you too much, Rinko-san?” Tomoe asked, although the answer was quite obvious.
“I know that… she’s just trying to… be helpful, but… I want her to understand that… I can still do things.” She whispered, her hands resting on stomach. Tomoe patted her shoulder.
“She’s just protective. Mum told me that Dad was the same when she was pregnant, both times,” she laughed, “I guess overprotectiveness runs in the family.” What would she be like when Tsugumi was pregnant, Sayo briefly wondered. That was, until she put a quick end to the thought. She and Tsugumi weren’t married, and Sayo didn’t even know if Tsugumi wanted to have any children, let alone whether or not she would want to be the one to carry the baby. She couldn’t let her own thoughts get ahead of her. Ako returned, gently handing a plastic cup - which Sayo was certain that Rinko was going to burn a hole through with the glare she was giving it - of water to Rinko.
“Thank you, Ako-chan.” Rinko took a sip, glare immediately softening when she looked up at Ako.
“Hey, Himari, put a Christmas movie on!”
“Yeah! Muppets Christmas Carol!”
“Eh? No, something else, we watch that every Christmas!”
“That’s because it’s the best Christmas movie!”
“Yukina, don’t be ridiculous.”
“But it’s set at Christmas.”
“That doesn’t make it a Christmas movie, Minato-san.”
“I don’t see why, Mitake-san.”
Sayo smiled at the familiar half-serious bickering, the comforting sounds of her family on Christmas Day. She leant her head on Tsugumi’s, and she felt Tsugumi start to run her fingers through her hair. Yes, there was nowhere else that she would rather be on a day like this. She belonged with these girls.
“Merry Christmas, Hikawa-san ,” Tsugumi said playfully.
“Merry Christmas, Hazawa-san .”
Has it really been *checks date* a little over four months. Whoops.
Yeah, I really suck at schedule-keeping, to the point where this isn't even one of the oneshots that I had been writing up until very recently. I just wanted to get something out for Christmas Day. But, then again, even that didn't happen, which I will blame on a combination of my own inability to keep to schedule and those pesky laws of linear time. Hopefully Boxing Day is within the acceptable bounds of Christmas Day.
But, I'm more proud of this one than I am of my previous one. I still believe that my characterisation of the girls isn't too great, but I hope that I have improved from August. I hope that the next one I release isn't in another four months, but I also don't want to be unrealistic.
Anyways, thank you very much for reading, and always Keep Moving Forward!
Chapter 3: I want to make it come true, my Dream with You!
It is Hazawa Tsugumi's birthday, and she and Sayo are going to spend it the same as always. Except for one little change Tsugumi has planned.
Happy Birthday Hazawa Tsugumi! I truly admire your hardworking nature and ability to see the good in others.
Otherwise, this chapter is a loose sequel to the previous one, focused solely on Tsugumi and Sayo and how they spend Tsugumi's birthday.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Title: I want to make it come true, my Dream with You!
Main Ship(s): SayoTsugu
Word Count: 2138
Today was the day, Tsugumi pumped herself up, today was the day .
It was her birthday for one, but, more importantly, it was the day she had resolved to finally, finally , ask Sayo to marry her. To say that she was nervous would have been an incredible understatement. She was absolutely terrified. She had had the ring for far longer than she would be willing to admit, but she had chickened out of asking every time that she had planned to. But she wouldn’t get cold feet this time, she had told all of AfterSelia - excluding Sayo, of course - that she was going to ask Sayo today. And she didn’t want to disappoint them.
She just wished she hadn’t woken up at four in the morning because of her nervousness. She looked at Sayo, stared at her, sleeping soundly next to her. How someone as plain as her had been lucky enough to end up with someone as incredible as Sayo, Tsugumi didn’t think she would ever understand, but she would always be grateful. She debated whether or not she should get up, but she didn’t want to wake Sayo so early, even accidentally. She should just try to get back to sleep, she did not want to fall asleep on their date later…
Thankfully, she had fallen asleep again, so she wouldn’t have to worry about having a lack of sleep later. It had, however, done little to soothe her nerves. She could still feel that familiar tightness in her chest, the same one she had used to feel when she and Sayo had gone out when they had first started dating.
“Happy birthday, Tsugumi,” she almost leapt out of bed when Sayo walked into their bedroom, “I made you breakfast. Would you prefer to eat it in here, or at the table?” Sayo smiled at her, a plate in her hands.
“I’ll eat at the table, I wouldn’t want to get any crumbs in the bed.” She slid herself out of bed, glancing over at the clock. Half-past seven, so she had managed to get in a decent amount more sleep. Tsugumi stretched a little before she followed Sayo into the kitchen, where she took her usual seat at the table.
“Is there anything else that you would like, Tsugumi? Coffee?”
“Ah, yes please. Has Hina messaged you asking to come over, yet?” Hina always asked. No matter how many times Sayo told her that the day was only for them, Hina always asked. But she had never actually interrupted them - well, excluding the very first birthday that Tsugumi had shared with Sayo, but that one time had been forgiven.
“She actually did it last night ,” she could hear Sayo’s smile as she made the coffee, “apparently she had to get the tradition out of the way, as she has something important to do this morning.” Tsugumi laughed. That sounded like Hina, all right, as eccentric as always. “Though, she didn’t give me any more information than that, unfortunately.” Sayo sat back down opposite Tsugumi, passing the mug to her. The rest of their breakfast went by just as it always did, in a warm and comfortable silence whilst they both enjoyed each other’s company, before it was broken by Sayo offering to take Tsugumi’s dishes to the sink. “Your presents are in the living room. The same as always.” Tsugumi couldn’t remember when Afterglow’s little adage had made its way into Sayo’s vocabulary too, but it had never gone away. To Tsugumi, it reaffirmed just how inseparable their little AfterSelia family had become over the years. The idea of a life without even a single one of them felt so alien to her now, she thought, smiling to herself as she walked into the living room. Inside, she saw three presents wrapped neatly, sat on their little living room table. “I know that I never get you very much, but I hope you like it all.”
“I always do, don’t I?” Sayo worried too much, she always had. It was a remnant of the past, she supposed, of the Sayo that Sayo didn’t like. Sayo carefully lifted one of them and brought it over to Tsugumi.
“You should open this one first,” she stated, placing it on her lap with an intense stare, and Tsugumi laughed. Sayo sat down next to her, her hands in her lap and her eyes locked on Tsugumi.
“Ah, these chocolates.” She smiled as she pulled the wrapping paper off.
“At Christmas, you said that you liked the apricot ones,” said Sayo, “so I looked around and managed to get these in time.” Tsugumi looked down at the box, lifting the lid to reveal the sweets beneath.
“Wow, they’re so pretty. Where did you buy them?”
“There’s a small, family-run chocolatier that opened up nearby recently,” she answered with a slightly red face, “I was quite happy to find they had the perfect set.” Sayo picked another of the remaining presents off of the table, putting it too in Tsugumi’s lap. She gently tore into the paper, revealing a box with a brand name that she didn’t recognise. She stared at it curiously, but the only response she received from Sayo was a gesture encouraging her to open it. Her heart skipped a beat when she opened the box up.
“Sayo—” she gasped, lifting out a stunning, silver necklace, “it’s beautiful.”
“I’m glad.” Sayo’s smile was definitely Tsugumi’s favourite expression that Sayo would wear. And the one that she wore at that moment, Tsugumi would forever swear, was even more beautiful than usual.
“I love you, Sayo.” Sayo’s face flushed a very faint red again.
“I love you too, Tsugumi.” She replied, glancing over at the third, larger, present that was left on the table. “This is the last one. I… made them myself.” Tsugumi unwrapped the last gift to find a plastic tub filled to the brim with light brown, neatly shaped cookies. Many were shaped like keyboards, whilst the rest were guitars. The two of them, represented in cookie form.
“Sayo, when— when did you find the time to make these? They’re amazing!” Tsugumi beamed, repeatedly looking between the box and her girlfriend.
“I stayed up late last night, after you went to bed. I had some cutters custom-made,” she said, and Tsugumi’s heart swelled with joy. Sayo was just so… so incredibly thoughtful. “They’re coffee-flavoured, and… the keyboards have chocolate for the flat and sharp keys. Do you like them?”
“I love them. Almost as much as I love you.” Tsugumi shuffled closer to Sayo on their small sofa, giving her a swift kiss on the cheek. “Thank you, Sayo.” Tsugumi grinned as Sayo went just a little redder.
She and Sayo spent the rest of the morning, and the afternoon, comfortably lounging around the house. The schedule for Tsugumi’s birthday, for many years, had been relatively set in stone. Sayo would prepare breakfast, which would lead into her giving Tsugumi her birthday presents, and then, after spending a relaxing day together at home, it was all capped off with a romantic dinner at one of the several nearby restaurants.
“Sayo, are you ready? We wouldn’t want to be late for our reservation.” Tsugumi called out to her.
“Almost. I just want to make sure that I’ve dressed perfectly—”
“Sayo,” Tsugumi giggled, “you look amazing no matter what you wear, you don’t need to worry so much.” The door to the bedroom opened, and out stepped Tsugumi’s earthly angel. She was wearing a gorgeous dark blue dress that stopped at her knees, complemented with a seasonally-appropriate thick grey jacket. “See, I told you.” Tsugumi gently nudged her, which brought a near-imperceptible smile to Sayo’s face as well.
“And yet, you always manage to look better yourself.” Sayo returned the compliment, and Tsugumi felt her face warm slightly. “Shall we be going, Hazawa-san?” The smile on Sayo’s face widened as she held out her arm. Tsugumi linked her arm through Sayo’s, leaning in to her.
“I think we shall, Hikawa-san.” Not too much longer now, Tsugumi thought to herself, her nerves suddenly returning to her. No, she steeled herself, she knew that she had nothing to be worried about. Sayo loved her, she had known that for years and today had done nothing but reinforce that, and she had almost no doubts that Sayo would accept her proposal. She just had to be strong, push forward without worry, and be Tsuguriffic. The same as always. “Sayo,” she started as the two of them made their way to their car, “would you like to go on a walk… after we’re finished with dinner?” Tsugumi asked, and Sayo looked over at her, a curious expression on her face.
“As long as it’s with you.” Tsugumi blushed at the sudden charm, directing her gaze towards the ground. And, not that Tsugumi could see it, Sayo’s face grew redder too. “Sorry,” she coughed, “I would love to, Tsugumi.”
“Welcome,” they heard as they entered. Tsugumi could have sworn that the restaurant only got more and more lavish with each time they visited. “Do you have a reservation, ma’am.”
“We do, under Hikawa Sayo.” There was a brief moment as the waitress flicked through the reservations list.
“Ah yes, Hikawa-san. If you would please follow me, your seats are this way.” The two of them had come here for Tsugumi’s birthday for several years at this point, and still Tsugumi was awed by the dazzling appearance of the place. It just seemed to be endlessly impressive, especially for her, who grew up in a pleasantly small café. Once the waitress gestured politely for them to sit, they took their seats.
“Will you be having your usual, Tsugumi?” Sayo asked, taking a quick glance at the menu.
“Ah, I think so. And you?”
“It hasn’t let me down yet.” Sayo smiled at her. They quickly called one of the waitresses over to order, and Tsugumi gazed out of the window.
“Ah, Sayo, look!” She pointed out at the white specks that were lazily drifting down to the ground. “It’s snowing.” She looked back over at Sayo, whose own eyes were locked to the snow as it fell outside. This made it perfect, she thought, watching her mesmerised girlfriend stare intently at the snow. She looked incredibly cute when she was so focused, Tsugumi told herself silently.
“Your meals, ladies.” The arrival of a waiter carrying their orders brought both of them out of their trances.
“Thank you very much.” They ate their food slowly, savouring each bite as they chatted idly and gazed out at the snow as it fell. And, it seemed, that their time at the restaurant had ended just as quickly as it had arrived. Perhaps that could simply be the nerves getting to her once again, Tsugumi reasoned. Sayo paid the bill, as she always did on Tsugumi’s birthday, and they headed back out of the restaurant. Thankfully, just across from the restaurant was a nice park. It had a lot of trees, it was generally empty - especially at this time of day - and now was beautifully dusted in a thin covering of snow. Tsugumi couldn’t have asked for better.
“You said that you wanted to go on a walk, Tsugumi?” Sayo asked, and she nodded meekly.
“Yes, so just…” she grabbed Sayo’s hand, “come with me?” They headed across to the park. Tsugumi quickly reached into her pocket, checking one final time that she had remembered to bring the ring with her. Which she had, mercifully. She walked them far into the park, the soft crunch of the snow beneath their feet reassuring her. Then, she stopped them in the middle of the path, far from anyone else who may have happened to have been there. “Sayo.” Tsugumi said, spinning on her heel to face her. She hid the ring behind her back, fiddling with the box. “Sayo,” she sighed.
“Tsugumi.” Her voice was soft, warm, understanding. She could do this. She knew she could do this. She had already got this far, she refused to back out now.
“Sayo. You’re the most beautiful, most incredible, most wonderful person whom I’ve ever had the chance of knowing. You’re kind, and caring, and loving, and you always see the best in people.” Sayo stared at her in silence, and Tsugumi continued. “Years ago, I never could have imagined that someone as amazing as you would ever confess to someone as plain as me, but you did, and I am eternally grateful. So, Hikawa Sayo,” Tsugumi dropped to one knee and looked up to the person she loved, “would you marry me?” And there, stood upon the soft white of the settled snow and bathed in the silver light of the moon, Tsugumi’s earthly angel gave her her answer.
Would you look at that, it hasn't been a ridiculous amount of time since I posted the previous chapter, and I actually finished it and released on Tsugumi's birthday (for me, at least). I still don't think that this was perfect, so I would definitely appreciate any mistakes (especially spelling mistakes) or mischaracterisations I made being pointed out.
Otherwise, I don't actually have too much to say here, so thank you very much for reading, and always Keep Moving Forward!
Chapter 4: Siblinghood
In which Ako is sick, and Sayo takes care of her.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Main Ship(s): None
Word Count: 1866
The sun was rising on what would, inevitably, be a Saturday packed with practice, practice, and a little more practice for Hikawa Sayo. A member of Roselia never did anything in half-measures after all, and Sayo always did her best to embody that principle as perfectly as she could. She drew back her curtains, letting in the early morning light, and she grabbed her guitar. Some early practice wouldn’t hurt, she’d just have to be quieter than usual. Sayo wasn’t particularly sure of how much time had passed whilst she practiced but, by the time her phone had begun to ring, it had gotten significantly brighter in her bedroom. She grabbed the phone, taking a quick glance at the screen to see who was calling. It was… Ako? It was unlike her to even be awake so early on a Saturday, let alone for her to call or message Sayo at such a time.
“Good morning, Udagawa-san, is there something you need?” Sayo greeted politely.
“Sayo-san…” The voice on the other side of the call was hoarse, scratchy even, “could you come over, I’m—” Ako’s sentence was interrupted by a harsh coughing fit. “I’m kinda sick…” she finished with a whisper. Sayo almost didn’t notice that she had already shot to her feet, already moving to get dressed.
“I’ll be there as soon as I can, Udagawa-san,” she said, “don’t go anywhere.” Although, until recently, they had gone unused for years, Sayo’s big sister instincts had kicked in. She threw herself out of her room, rushing through the house and flying out of the door before anyone could say either good morning or goodbye. The Udagawa household was, thankfully, relatively close by and didn’t require Sayo to use any form of transportation besides her own legs to arrive there in an adequate amount of time.
So she ran. She ran as fast as she possibly could. Not even a year ago, there was no way she would ever have responded to such a request so earnestly. Though, not even a year ago, she likely would not have received such a request in the first place. She had changed over the last year, she knew she had, and she knew that she had a great many people to thank for making that change possible. And she knew that all of Roselia, all four of her bandmates, all four of her closest friends, were right at the top of that list.
Then, after her oddly introspective run, she arrived and knocked on the door. “Udagawa-san? It’s me, could you let me in?”
“It’s open already…” came faintly from within, and Sayo frowned. She shouldn’t leave the door unlocked, especially if she was sick, that was simply dangerous. But she pushed that thought aside. Whether or not Ako was okay was the priority at the moment, possibly dangerous habits could come later.
“Udagawa-san, where are—” Sayo immediately stopped herself when she saw Ako sprawled out underneath the kotatsu in the living room. “I’m certain that there are better places for you to rest, Udagawa-san. Your bed, perhaps?” Sayo crouched down next to her, gently pressing her hand to Ako’s forehead. “You definitely have a fever. Do you know where you keep the medicine?”
“Cupboard…” She pointed towards the kitchen. Hmm… that wasn’t exactly the most helpful comment.
“Any one specifically? Ako stared at her for a moment before answering only with an incomprehensible mumble and a faint shrug. All right then, Sayo would have to find the medicine herself. “I’ll take a look then, don’t try to push yourself.” Fortunately for both Ako and Sayo herself, the medicine didn’t take too long to locate, and she was able to find what was necessary with ease. “Okay Udagawa-san, I’ve found it,” she spoke softly, making her way back over to the sick girl as she lay beneath the kotatsu. Although she said nothing, Ako did send a particularly pointed glare towards the medicine in Sayo’s hands. “Udagawa-san, you have to take your medicine, otherwise you won’t get any better.” Still, Ako remained silent, opting simply to puff her cheeks and roll over to face away from Sayo. “Udagawa-san, stop being childish.” A mumbled and barely comprehensible ‘don’t wanna’ came from the other side of the table. | Sayo sighed, why had she expected this to be easy? “Udagawa-san, you won’t get better if you don’t have this.” Then, after a moment passed with little more noise than the usual racket of the city, Ako rolled back over, though she immediately returned to glaring at the medicine. However, she did as Sayo asked, and reluctantly downed the - relatively small amount, Sayo noted - medicine, cringing as she did. “There, that should be all you need for now.”
“Ugh…” The only response that Ako gave her was a disgusted groan. Sayo took a seat next to her.
“Is there anything you’d like to do, Udagawa-san?” Ako sat up, briefly wobbling and holding her head in her hands.
“I’d, uh…” her voice seemed worse now than it had been when she had called Sayo earlier, “like to watch TV, I guess,” she sheepishly smiled at Sayo. Sayo got back to her feet, grabbing a remote from the floor a metre or so away. Then, the TV screen blinked to life. On it was some anime about a girls’ high school band. Hmm, she thought, fitting. Although the characters in question seemed far more… lax than Roselia were when it came to—
“Practice.” Sayo blurted aloud, and Ako glanced over at her. For a short moment, the two stood - or, in Ako’s case, lay - in silence, until it hit them. “Udagawa-san, you messaged Minato-san and told her we would be unable to attend practice, right?” Ooh, that’s a loud silence. “Udagawa-san?”
“Heh… Heh heh…” Sayo quickly pulled out her phone.
“Yes, good morning Minato-san. I— see, Udagawa-san is sick and I’m at taking care of— Oh, I— you don’t? I see, thank you Minato-san.” The call was brief, but ended with Sayo letting out a long and deep sigh of relief. “She doesn’t mind that we’ll be missing practice.”
“She doesn’t?” Ako asked, bewildered, “Yukina-san doesn’t? You’re sure that wasn’t Lisa-nee, Sayo-san?”
“I believe I would be able to tell the difference, yes,” she deadpanned back, “would you like some soup? It’s supposed to help when you’re sick.” Ako said nothing, lost in thought for a second.
“Why does it help when you’re sick, though?”
“I— I don’t know, do you want any?” The odd question caught Sayo off guard. Why did soup allegedly have healing properties? No, wait, that wasn’t important.
“Yeah, that sounds good.” Thankfully, the Udagawa’s fridge was fully stocked and Sayo was certain that soup was something that even she could do without too much trouble.
Not that she would be leaving anything to chance, she made sure to quickly search up a basic recipe to ensure she didn’t make even one mistake. And it was easy, just as she had expected. It had taken a little longer than she had anticipated, what with her unfamiliarity with the correct ways to use a knife, but she had finished quickly enough.
“Udagawa-san, your soup’s ready.” Sayo reentered the living room to find Ako, once again, hidden almost entirely beneath the kotatsu with her eyes glued to the TV screen. “You seem to like that anime, Udagawa-san,” she commented.
“Uh-huh, it’s one of my favourites. Me and Onee-chan watched it a lot when we were kids.” Ako smiled, and rolled to face Sayo. “Have you watched it?”
“I can’t say that I have.” Sayo smiled back. This was… nice. Even if Ako was sick.
“You should. It’s one of the things that inspired me and Onee-chan to play drums, you know.” Sayo looked at the TV. There were five girls in the band, just like Roselia. Two guitarists though, she noticed, and they seemed to alternate their vocalists too. To Sayo, that simply sounded like it would be logistically annoying at best.
“Maybe I’ll give it a look some time,” she replied. “Speaking of your sister,” she mentioned, looking around the otherwise empty living room, “where is Tomoe-san? Wouldn’t it have been easier to get her to look after you than me?”
“Onee-chan had a date with Hii-chan today,” explained Ako, “I didn’t wanna ruin it for her since it’s taken them so long to get together…”
“I’m sure neither of them would’ve minded, Udagawa-san, they care about you.”
“So you care about me too, right Sayo-san?” Ako grinned at her, and Sayo could feel the blood rush to her face.
“I— I do, yes. I do care about you, Udagawa-san.” Ako was clearly not expecting such a response from her, Sayo watched as her face went similarly red. Silence fell between the two, although the TV kept on playing to itself, and they stared at each other.
“Thanks for coming for me, Sayo-san…” Ako leant her head against Sayo’s leg, smiling up at her.
“You don’t need to worry about it, Udagawa-san.” They watched several more episodes after that, although Sayo wasn’t particularly sure of how many exactly, but Ako said that they had gotten about halfway through the second season. A yawn interrupted the current episode, and Sayo looked over to her sick bandmate.
“I’m feeling kinda tired…” Ako mumbled, slowly wobbling to her feet, and Sayo caught her as she then wobbled over. “Ah, thanks Sayo-san. I guess being sick took a hit on my balance.”
“Let’s get you to bed. We wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself now.” Sayo glanced out of the window. She had been here for a while, as she could see the red-orange glow of the setting sun as the day neared its end. “Come on,” she continued, “it’s getting late, I’m sure Tomoe-san will be home soon.” Although Ako’s bedroom wasn’t too far from the living room, Sayo was grateful that Ako didn’t ask Sayo to carry her there, she wasn’t sure that she had the upper body strength for such a feat.
“Ahh…” Ako sighed, flopping down onto her bed and burying herself beneath the duvet. “Sayo-san, lay with me.” Ako lifted the covers and patted next to her.
“I—” Ako’s pouted, lip quivering and eyes glistening. “All right, but only for a little while, I should really be heading home soon.” Sayo begrudgingly crawled in next to Ako. “Is this good?”
“Um-hmm,” Ako hummed, closing her eyes. It was almost immediate, but Sayo could tell she was asleep, and she carefully climbed out of the bed.
“Good night,” she looked fondly at the younger girl, letting a warm smile form on her face.
“Nunight… Sayo-nee…” Oh, her eyes, and her smile, widened and she knelt down besides Ako.
“Sweet dreams, Ako-san.” And she planted a soft kiss on her forehead. If Hina knew what Sayo had done for Ako today, there was no chance that she would ever hear the end of it, at least not until she did it for Hina as well. Although maybe, she thought to herself as she gently closed Ako’s bedroom door behind her, maybe that wouldn’t be as bad as she would have once thought.
I think I'm getting better, little by little. I really enjoy writing Sayo and Ako as having a sort-of sisterly relationship in which Ako looks up to Sayo (even if Sayo is also a bit of a dumbass). I hope this was an enjoyable read, and if you noticed any spelling/grammar errors or mischaracterisations, then feel free to politely point them out.
I hit 50 Kudos at some point recently, woo!!
I have a Twitter if anyone happens to be interested, @kederalia, where you can feel free to talk to me about anything. I mainly, at the moment, post pics of things that I've baked/made at home.
But anyways, as always, thank you very much for reading and Keep Moving Forward!