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So close yet so far

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"So cold~"

Shibuya Kanon whispers, digging her hands deeper into her pockets. The time is 5:00 am, 30 minutes to go until the meeting time with her childhood friend, Arashi Chisato.

'Maybe I left the house a bit too early' Kanon thinks while making her way to the park they promised to meet at. It only takes around 15 minutes from her house to get there. Chisato usually shows up early whenever they promise to go somewhere, though, so Kanon wants to make sure she is the one arriving first this time. It's uncool to make her friend wait all the time, especially in this cold.

"Excuse me"

Kanon apologizes as she pumps into another girl around her age. There are more people going around on the street than she had expected, considering the time. 'Guess that's new year for you'

Kanon quickens her pace, wanting to escape the hustle and bustle as soon as possible. She has never been good with crowded places, they tire her out.

Why has she decided to go for a shrine visit first thing in the morning of the new year then? Well, her childhood friend wants to do so and there is no way Kanon would say no to her.

The noise of people chatting and rustling about starts to thin out as her destination gets closer. In its place, though, are the sound of cheering and beats of music. Kanon rounds the park's entrance. A small group of people are watching something in the center of the park.

'So 15 minutes were not enough after all' Kanon cracks a wry smile at the sight of her precious friend, Chisato, dancing in full spirit in front of the audience. 

It's her loss again today. Kanon won't give up, though. All she needs to do is be extra early next time they go out, maybe 1 hour will suffice.

"Hm?"

Kanon notices then, that Chisato isn't performing alone. On her side stands a tall and slender boy, dancing in sync with her every move. Kanon doesn't recognize that boy. Yuigaoka is a girls' school, and his face doesn't look like any of their old classmates in their middle school. Is him someone from Chisato's dance class? Or a friend she made just now? Kanon doesn't know. What she does know is that he has the moves. Chisato looks like she is having the time of her life next to him. Her dance, her movements are all completely different to what she shows when performing with Liella. She looks so free.

'I knew that she had been holding herself back to match our level...' Kanon squeezes her fist. She knew it, but knowing and getting the truth beaten to her face like this are two different things. 'Just when I finally got back the confidence to stand proudly next to her…'

 

 

"Kanon-chan!"

The sound of Chisato's voice snaps Kanon out of her turbulent thoughts.

"Happy new year! You're here early"

Chisato trots to Kanon's place with a bright smile after her little performance.

"Happy new year, Chii-chan! Not as early as you, though"

Kanon tries her best to sound as upbeat as possible.

"Ehehe. I got a bit too excited and ended up leaving the house before I knew it" Chisato smiles shyly.

"Your dance just now was really cool"

"Thanks, we kind of started it on a whim. I didn't expect to gather such a cro-"

"Who was that guy?" 

The sudden question startled Chisato. 'Damn...' Kanon silently curses herself. She didn't mean to use such a harsh tone.

"...The one who was dancing with you, I meant. He got some great moves. I don't think I recognize his face, though"

Kanon averts her eyes from Chisato while trying to make her voice sound as normal as she can.

"Ah, that was one of my old classmates in dance school. He was also waiting for his friends here when I arrived"

"I see..." So one of her guesses was right.

"You two... seem close" Kanon continues. 'Close enough to hug each other goodbye'

"Well, we used to pair with each other pretty often back then"

"Hm..."

Kanon can feel a chunk forming in her stomach, her fists going numb inside her jacket's pockets.

"Kanon-chan"

"..."

"Look at me, Kanon-chan"

Kanon returns her gaze to Chisato reluctantly.

"It's alright, Kanon-chan" Chisato touches the creases between Kanon's eyebrows, easing them with her index and middle fingers. "Don't compare yourself to him. You've your own strong point, you know" 

Then with a softest smile, she adds "I love your singing, Kanon-chan"

And with that, Kanon can feel all the tension leaving her body, her heartbeat raising, and her body heating up. Honestly, she isn't sure whether to feel happy or embarrassed at how easily her childhood friend could change her mood like that.

"Just you wait, I will be better than him in no time" She still hates to lose, though. 

"Okay, should I double your training volume next week then?" Chisato teases.

Kanon forces back a gasp. Keeping up with Chisato's normal training menu is arduous enough, doubling it would kill her. But still, she can't back out now. That would be totally uncool.

"B-bring it on!" Kanon makes a V-sign with her right hand and holds it up in front of Chisato.

"It's a promise" Chisato gently touches the tips of Kanon's fingers with a V of her own.

"Wissu! 

Wissu! 

Wissu!!"

"Alright! Let's go to the shrine!"

"Wait a minute, Chii-chan"

"Hm?"

"Where are your gloves?" Kanon takes a hold of Chisato's right hand.

"Ah, I kinda forgot them when I went out. But it's no big dea-"

"It is!" Kanon scoops up both of Chisato's hands with her owns. "Look, they're turning red"

The slight trembles in her voice leaves Chisato at a loss for words.

"Give me a sec"

Kanon quickly takes off her left glove.

"Wait, Kanon-chan, you don't have to!"

"It's fine"

"It's not fine!"

"I insist"

Kanon slips her glove on Chisato's hand. It's a bit too big on her.

"See, isn't it warm?"

"..."

Chisato doesn't answer. It is warm, yes, and she is happy to see how much Kanon worries about her but at the same time, she can't bring herself to just accept that kindness, not when Kanon may have to suffer the cold in her stead.

Right when she was about to protest again, Kanon grasps Chisato's right hand with her left and puts them both into her jacket's pocket.

"We can both be warm this way"

"I... see"

Chisato stares at their hands in Kanon's jacket for a moment in surprise before looking up. Kanon is looking away from her.

"Kanon-chan, your ears are all red"

"Don't point it out!"

"It’s your ideal. Why are you getting embarrassed?" 

"I know! I know that I'm trying too hard here but..."

"But?"

"...I couldn't think of any other way to get you to accept my offer" Kanon squeezes Chisato's hand.

"I see. Thanks, Kanon-chan" Chisato claps her hand in return.

"You're welcome"

With that, the two finally start making their way to the shrine.

"Your face are red too, Chii-chan"

"Well, it's getting a bit hot, isn't it?"

 

 

"What did you wish for, Kanon-chan?" Chisato asks as the two move away from the shrine's main hall after making their wishes.

"For the well-being of my family and friends, and well, for an increase in my allowance"

"Ahaha, shouldn't you ask your mom for that instead?"

"I did, and got rejected yesterday"

"Welp, I hope the gods listen to your request then" Chisato tries to console Kanon by patting her head. "I'm surprised you didn't wish for us to win Love Live, though"

"...Winning Love Live is something we will achieve with our own efforts. There is no need to ask the gods for that"

"Oh, aren't you speaking like a real leader now?"

"It wasn't my choice to become one but still, I am the leader of Liella right now"

"I'll be counting on you to lead us to victory then"

"Leave it to me!" Kanon declares dashingly while still getting petted on the head by Chisato. "What about you, Chii-chan? What did you wish for?"

"Me? I wished for~"

"You wished for?"

"I wished for~"

"You wished for~?"

"It's a secret YO!"

"Eeeh?! Why?! But I told you mine!"

"I will tell you once it's granted!"

"Can't you just tell me now?"

"Nope, can't do. Hey, let's go get our fortune slips!"

"Chii-chaan~!"

Kanon voices her discontent, she well understands that there is no changing Chisato's mind once she has decided on something, though.

 

 

 

"I got Small Luck. What about you, Chii-chan?"

"Fair Luck for me"

"Nothing to really get excited about, huh" Kanon glances over Chisato's paper.

"Let's just be glad that neither of us got Bad Luck"

"Right"

Kanon skims over the content of her slip. Good health, be careful when traveling, put some effort into your study, etc. Just when she thought there was nothing noteworthy, the last section of the slip caught her eyes.

Love - Be more proactive if you want to be noticed

Kanon's brain freezes.

 

"Kanon-chan?"

After tying up her fortune slip, Chisato looks back at her unmoving friend.

"Kanon-chan. What's wrong?"

No answer.

"Is there something weird written in your fortune?" Chisato moves closer, looking curiously at the paper on Kanon's hands.

"-Huh? Waaah!? No! There is nothing weird in it at all!" Kanon frantically backs away from Chisato, hiding the paper from her sight. "I just kind of space out for a minute! Let me tie this up and we can get going!"

"O-okay?" Chisato looks at the panicked Kanon backing away in confusion.

After several failed attempts, Kanon finally calms down enough to tie up her fortune slip successfully and returns to where Chisato is.

"Sorry for the wait, Chii-chan"

"It's fine. Should we go buy you a charm, Kanon-chan?" Chisato casually grasps Kanon's left hand.

"Wh-why?" Kanon slowly puts their joined hands into her pocket, mentally praising herself for not flipping out. She hopes her palm isn't too sweaty.

"There is something bad written in your paper, isn't it? I haven't seen you in such a panic recently"

"Erm... It's not something bad... It's just..."

"Just?"

"...Yeah, maybe you're right. Let's go buy a charm" Kanon gave up explaining after realizing that she won't be able to do it without also confessing her feelings to Chisato right here and now. Her heart would likely give out before she could pull off a public confession. 'Be more proactive, huh...'

 

While the two are lining up for the charm, Chisato notices a familiar figure sweeping snow in a corner of the shrine's yard.

"Isn't that Sumire-chan over there?"

"Where? Ah, you're right. Let's go greet her"

"What about your charm?"

"It's fine. I can just go and buy it at a later time"

Kanon insists, she doesn't really have any need for a protection charm anyway.

 

""Sumire-chan! Happy new year!""

"Happy new year, Kanon, Chisato"

"How admirable of you working so hard this early morning" Kanon comments.

"Morning, huh” Sumire heaves a sigh. “I've been at this since yesterday night preparing and cleaning a bunch of stuff"

"Wow, you sure got it hard being a shrine's daughter. My family always take it easy and close the cafe during new year"

"Good for you, I wish we could close the shrine during the new year too, but alas, that's not how... it works..." Sumire trails off at the end of her sentence when she finally notices how Kanon and Chisato are literally attached to each other at the hip.

"Sumire-chan?"

"Well, I know it's new year and all but keep it in moderation, okay? I wouldn't want Liella to get involved in any scandal"

"What are you talking about?" Kanon and Chisato tilt their heads in confusion.

"That" Sumire points to Kanon's left pocket.

"Eh? Ah... This?" Chisato holds up their hands while Kanon freezes on the spot. "I forgot my gloves today so we're just holding hands to keep warm. It's nothing to make a fuss over" Chisato smiles.

"Is that so?" Sumire doesn't sound so convinced.

"Ah, look like they're giving out amazake over there! I will go get some for all of us. You wait there, Kanon-chan!"

"Eh? Chii-chan!?" By the time Kano came to her senses, Chisato was already gone.

"She ran away, huh" Sumire stares at the left behind Kanon.

"Um, well, it's like what Chii-chan said. I mean, holding hands is something normal between friends, isn't it?"

"That may be so but you two aren't just friends, are you?"

"We are"

"Oh c'mon. Just admit it. I'm not going to judg-"

"It's true. We're just friends"

Sumire widens her eyes in surprise at Kanon's serious tone.

"Huh? Really?"

"Yes. I wouldn't lie about something like this"

"Are you seriously telling me that you guys are just friends after all those public affection display episodes!?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about but yes! I am!"

Sumire is at a loss for words. It's like her whole life has been a lie. Okay, maybe not her whole life, but the past several months since she has come to know these two friends of hers.

"Sumire-chan?”

"Just... give me a minute. I need time to comprehend this"

"O-okay..."

"..."

"..."

"...Just to make sure"

"Yeah"

"You do have feelings for Chisato, right?"

"...Yes" Kanon nodded.

Sumire lets out a sigh in relief, at least she's right about something.

"So, why didn’t you confess already?"

"I... I'm afraid she might not feel the same"

"Hah?"

Sumire couldn't believe her ears.

"Um... Sumire-chan, I think an idol shouldn't make such a scary face..."

"Listen here, Kanon. From my point of view, you two are practically dating already. There is no way that Chisato would reject you"

"You aren't her, Sumire-chan. You don't know that for sure"

"Just think back of all the things she has done for you so far. Would you have gone so far for a mere friend?"

"I know that Chii-chan sees me as someone special"

"Well? Then what are you waiting for?"

"That's..." Kanon takes a moment to organize her thoughts.

"...Admiration is not the same as love, isn't it?"

"Huh?"

"It may sound too self-conscious but I think Chii-chan holds some deep admiration towards me, or more accurately..." Kanon continues "Towards my younger self"

"...I think I understand what you're getting at" Sumire recalls the night Chisato told them about why she wants Kanon to be able to sing alone again. "You're suggesting that the reason why Chisato's so dedicated to you is because she looks up to you like some sort of hero, and not because she loves you?"

"Pretty much that, yeah"

"I'm not convinced" Sumire shakes her head "That doesn't explain everything. I don't know about you but there is no way I would do what you two were doing earlier with someone I only looks up to"

"That's when the 'childhood friends' part comes in" Kanon looks at her empty left hand. "Be it holding hands, hugging, or sleeping on the same bed. Those are all the things we have been doing together since forever ago. They're hardly anything special anymore"

"I reckon there aren't many childhood friends who would still sleep on the same bed in high school..."

"But it's not that hard to believe, isn't it? We’re both girls after all"

"Well..." Sumire starts to lose her confidence. Until a few minutes ago, she was 100% sure that Kanon's and Chisato's feelings were mutual but now... 

Sumire shakes her head, she shouldn't let Kanon's negativity get to her.

"Here, I will give you this"

"Huh?" Kanon looks at what Sumire handled her with a puzzled look.

"A charm?"

"One of the gods enshrined here is a deity of marriage, you see"

"We're actually pretty famous for that. Just take a look at the Ema over there and you will see how many peoples came here to pray for their success in romance" 

"Heh, I didn’t know that"

"I think you should put a bit more faith in both yourself and Chisato" Sumire gives Kanon a pat on her shoulder. "You guys are the one understand each other the most after all"

"...Thanks, Sumire-chan" Kanon closes her hand around the charm.

"You're welcome" Sumire answers Kanon's smile with one of her own.

 

"Kanon-chan! Sumire-chan!"

Chisato comes running towards her two friends, skillfully balancing 3 paper cups in her hands.

"Sorry for the wait! Here, take your drink!"

""Thanks, Chii-chan/Chisato""

Kanon and Sumire each carefully receive their cup and take a sip of the hot drink.

""The amazake is upping me warm~""

"Ahaha, you guys are speaking just like Keke-chan!"

Chisato laughs at her friends' antics before taking a sip herself.

"So what were you two talking about while I was gone?"

"Eh!?" Kanon flinches.

"Kanon-chan?"

"Ah, erm... W-we were just talking about..." Kanon adverts her gaze to Sumire, cold sweats forming on her forehead.

Sumire stares apathetically at the shaking Kanon.

"We were talking about how much of a coward Kanon is"

"Sumire-chan!?"

"Eh? What's that? Details, please!"

"Don't tell her! Sumire-chan!"

It takes way more than a bit of effort and time for Kanon to finally be able to redirect the conversation to something else.

 

 

"Alright, where should we go next?" Chisato asks enthusiastically after the two bid goodbye to Sumire. It's just a bit past 6am at the moment. They have plenty of time to play.

"Yeah, let me think..." Kanon tries to bite back a yawn with little success.

"Are you sleepy, Kanon-chan?"

"Just a bit" Kanon rubs away the tears in the corner of her eyes. She got only around 3 hours of sleep last night, and it seems the banter earlier with Sumire has shaved away the last bit of her energy.

"Guess we should call it a day then. You should go home and rest"

"It's alright. I will just grab a coffee somewhere"

"No, that won't do. I don't want you to push yourself"

"But..." Kanon couldn't finish her sentence. The look in Chisato's eyes tells her that this conversation is over. She can feel Chisato's right hand slowly slipping away from hers. 'No! ' Kanon clutches Chisato's hand before she could take it out of her pocket. It's been a long time since they could be together all alone like this. She doesn't want to part just yet. But what can she say to change Chisato's mind? What can she say to be able to spend more time with her? 'Think! Think! Shibuya Kanon!'

Be more proactive if you want to be noticed

The fortune's content flashes through her mind.

"How about..." She can hear her voice quivering. "How about we sleep together?"

".........

..........

..........

............Eh?"

The unexpected invitation leaves both Chisato and Kanon herself completely stunned.

 

 

"It's been quite a while since I stayed over at your house, isn't it?" Chisato says as she goes over and picks up the round pink owl plushie on Kanon's bed.

"I-is that so?" Kanon slowly closes the door to her room, trying desperately to keep her racing heartbeats in check.

"Yeah, I think the last time was during our third summer break in middle school"

"Oh, I can't believe that's been over a year ago already"

"Time sure flies, doesn't it?" 

"Indeed it does"

"..."

"..."

"Kanon-chan"

"Yes"

"Why are you standing all the way over there?"

"Eh? Ah..." That's when Kanon realizes she hasn't moved an inch from her spot at the door.

"C'mon, Kanon-chan! Come here!" Chisato pats the space next to her on the bed.

"E-excuse me..."

"Ahaha, isn't this your room?"

Kanon nervously sits down next to Chisato, making sure to not be too close to her.

"Say, do you have something to tell me?" Chisato asks, looking at Kanon's with a kind smile. 

"...Why?"

"You've been acting strange ever since we got our fortune told in the shrine"

"You really can see through everything, Chii-chan"

"That's not true. I can tell that you're bothered about something but I don't know what it is unless you tell me"

"..."

"Well, you don't have to push yourself to say it if you don't want to" Chisato squeezes the plushie in her arms.

"...You always hug that one every time you come in my room"

"Huh?" The sudden change in topic takes Chisato by surprise. "Oh, you mean this little one?"

Kanon nods.

"Ehehe, I mean just look at how round she is!" Chisato holds up the plushie with a big smile and gleaming eyes. "Her perfectly round body~ Her soft pink fur~ Her nice smell~ The way she just fits right in my arms~ Ah, let's not forget her round and round little eyes~"

"You sure do love it"

"But of course! She's my favourite!" Chisato cuddles the pink owl again. "I'm gonna sleep with her in my arms"

That line triggers a certain emotion within Kanon.

"You can't"

Before she knew it, Kanon had snatched away the plushie from Chisato.

"I know a much better candidate to be your cuddling partner"

With a soft thud, Chisato finds herself lying on the bed, wrapped securely inside her childhood friend's arms.

"Chii-chan..."

Kanon snuggles closer to Chisato's neck, tickling it with her breath.

"Hehe, you are such a baby, Kanon-chan"

Chisato relaxes herself into the embrace and starts running her hand through Kanon's hair.

"There, there" Chisato whispers in a singing tone.

This isn't how it was supposed to go. Kanon mentally groans. She was the one who pushed her down. She is the one who is on top. And yet she is also the one whose heart is about to leap out of her chest while Chisato is all cool and calm. The fact that she is treating her like a kid frustrates Kanon even further. 

"Chii-chan"

"Hm?"

Kanon props herself up and looks down into Chisato's eyes, searching for a hint. If she can catch but a glimpse of the same passion she has in those beautiful red eyes, she will be able to take the next step. She will be able to let loose of the love she holds for this girl under her.

"Kanon-chan" Chisato gently places her hand on Kanon's cheek.

"It's alright. I’m not going anywhere"

'Ah...' Kanon blinks back her tears that threaten to fall from her eyes. Reflected in her dark amethyst is the shade of Chisato's vibrant ruby, shining brightly with genuine warmth and love. A love different from her own.

Kanon lets herself fall back to the bed, burying her face into Chisato's shoulders.

"Chii-chan"

"Yeah" Chisato resumes to stroke Kanon's hair.

"I love you"

"I love you too, Kanon-chan"