Keke is out for a run when she hears her phone ringing from her pocket. She pauses, catches her breath, and pulls the phone up to her ear. “…Hello?” She asks through huffs of breath.
“Hey…” The voice on the other end is hushed but she can still easily make it out as her friend.
“Kanon, what’s up?” Keke finds a bench to rest at and pulls out a towel from her bag. She wipes over her face then slings the towel over her shoulders.
“I, uh, have you talked to Chii-Chan at all today?” Kanon’s voice wavered and it draws all of Keke’s attention. She raises her finger to her chin in thought and takes a moment of pause.
“Hmm…no, I don’t think I have, why?” She hears her friend’s defeated sigh.
“I’ve been trying to reach her all day, but she hasn’t responded.”
“She’s probably with Sumire at the shrine,” Keke decides.
“Yeah…” Kanon trails off, her mind in another place. “They’ve been hanging out a lot lately.” Once again her voice is laced with a sadness Keke hasn’t heard from her before.
She wasn’t wrong though. Chisato and Sumire have been spending an unusually long time together, especially considering how little they had talked in the beginning days of their group. At first, it was only a day or two a week but then it turned out they were visiting each other every day of the week. It was odd, how Chisato and Kanon are so close and yet now they were so far. Out of all the members they were like soulmates…unless.
“It’s not like I’m jealous or anything! Don’t get me wrong, I love that they’re bonding. It’s just…I, well, I miss my Chii-Chan.” Kanon lets out a soft giggle and suddenly Keke understand everything.
“You love her, don’t you?” Keke’s lips curve into a small smile. Her smile only grows when she hears the soft squeak from her friend and a silent “…yeah.” Despite the initial surprise, Kanon is happy to finally admit it, if only a little disappointed it wasn’t to Chisato.
“Well, I’m gonna get to the bottom of this mystery for you. Don’t you worry!” Keke pushes herself from the bench. She’s suddenly filled with determination to help her friend and knock some sense into Sumire.
“No, no, you really don’t have to do that! It’s fine, I promise!” Keke isn’t listening because she’s already bounding down the road on her way to the shrine. So Kanon hangs up and prays for the best.
Keke works her way up the long path to Sumire’s family shrine. Her feet slam onto the path with each step, which is very energy consuming but she doesn’t care because she has business to take care of. Her hands rest heavily in her pockets. This was not what she wanted to be doing today but it’s important. It’s for Kanon.
She catches sight of her target and she sets her course, speeding over to her.
“Keke?! What are you doing here?” The blonde pauses her sweeping and turns just in time to catch Keke’s finger almost poke her eye. She’s immediately taken a back by her fellow member’s face dangerously close to hers.
“I need some answers from you. And I need them now.” Keke backs up slightly, folding her arms around her waist. She watches Sumire’s face twist into confusion and even a small bit of fear.
“Uh, I’m confused. What’s this…” She gestures to Keke’s angry expression. “…about?” The blonde sets her broom against the wall, giving her full attention to her visitor.
“You!” Sumire raises an eyebrow and shrugs her shoulders. “You and Chisato, that is. You’ve been spending a lot of time together.”
It takes everything in Sumire to keep her face from giving away her nervousness. She takes a moment to calm herself before responding. “Isn’t that a good thing? I mean, to be a group we have to be in sync.”
“Are you in love with Chisato?” The question comes out of nowhere and Sumire can’t believe the words that just came out of her friend’s mouth. Keke’s face is unwavering and her eyes bore into Sumire. She would be a great detective, well only the interrogation part. She’s obviously misconstrued things.
“What?! No, of course not! Why would you even think that?” She can’t help the rise in her voice or the way her face heats up. Calm down, she tries to tell herself.
Now it’s Keke’s turn to raise her eyebrow. “Then what’s getting you so flustered, huh?”
“Look, I’ve been helping her with something, okay?” Sumire puts her hands up, defensively. “Just because I’m being generous doesn’t mean we have some secret love affair.”
Keke backs away, finding a wall to lean against. “Go on.” Sumire shrugs and pulls the broom back into her hands. She lets out a small huff and says nothing more. “C’mon, tell me. I can help too.”
“It’s private. Wait, why did you even come here?” Keke fiddles with the hem of her skirt. She looks up with a shy smile.
Sumire shakes her head. “Nope, you’re not pulling that with me. You came up here to give me a piece of your mind…so do it.” Sumire crosses her arms and watches Keke carefully.
Keke begins to crack and she doesn’t want to spill, but it all comes out in a splurge of words that are almost incomprehensible. “Kanon has feelings for Chisato and is sad that you are taking over her time with her crush!”
“Oh, I already knew that .” Sumire sighs, long and hard. “Tell me something I don’t know.”
“Wait, what?!” Keke practically jumps out of her skin. First she’s surprised then anger rushes through her body. She points another accusatory finger towards Sumire. “How could you continue your selfish love plight when these two are perfect for each other? What kind of a monster trampled on the perfect live story?!”
“Ugh, this again? I already told you—“
“She’s right, Keke, Sumi has been helping me figure out a way to tell Kanon.” Chisato cuts off Sumire and again almost makes Keke scared to death.
“Wait, really?” Chisato nods and approaches the two, placing a small hand on Keke’s shoulder.
“We’d love your help on the plan.” Chisato smiles wide and Keke reciprocates. “We’ll definitely need your lyrical expertise.”
“I’d be happy to help!”
“Help with…what?” The girls are broken out of their moment by Kanon, bent over and recollecting her breath. After a moment she stood up straight and walked over to Chisato. “She hasn’t said anything, has she?” Kanon glances back at the mole in question, giving her the stink eye. “She wasn’t supposed to come here but she never listens.”
“It’s okay, I only just got here actually.” Keke didn’t miss how Kanon’s smile seems to falter and her eyes darken. Chisato doesn’t miss it either.
“We’ll get out of your way then. Come on.” Kanon grabs Keke’s arm and begins to pull her out of the shrine with her. She is stopped by Chisato’s hand on her shoulder.
“Wait!” Kanon turns to her and suddenly she feels like shrinking in on herself. She has to fight to get her next words out. “Can I actually talk to you?” Kanon nods and drops her arms to her sides.
Sumire pulls Keke out of the room, despite her protests. “It’s a private moment.”
Chisato pulls Kanon’s hands into her own and lets out a small huff. She opens her mouth to speak but she can’t make anything come out. She can’t help but think that this wasn’t supposed to be how it all goes. It was supposed to be planned out so she knew exactly what to say and she wouldn’t be standing there utterly speechless.
“Your hands are warm,” Kanon says, breaking her friend from her thoughts and causing her to blush. She looks up to Kanon in surprise and all she gets in response is a shy smile and the same blush. “You make me warm…but not the typical kind of warm.”
“Kanon?” The orange-haired girl shifts their hands so she’s cupping Chisato’s in her own. She hopes to give her childhood friend the same warmth she is given.
“You remember the day of your competition?” Chisato nods and waits in silence for her to continue. “You tried to hide your feelings from me because you didn’t feel like you were good enough. You felt more like a burden than help.”
“In the end, you could tell pretty easily, huh?” Chisato sniffles, tears clinging at her eyes. She has to stop herself from crashing into Kanon’s arms. She needs to hear this and she needs to let Kanon let it out.
“Yeah,” Kanon lets out a small chuckle, tears building up in her eyes as well. She squeezes Chisato’s hands tighter. “But you’re the complete opposite. Every single day you help me just by being by my side. When I’m with you everything feels right. I feel like I can do anything.”
“I feel the same. It’s like this feeling that’s different from everything else.” Chisato smiles, of course Kanon understands, she always does.
“One that makes you want to spend every moment by their side.” Kanon inches closer to Chisato, sharing the bright smile. “That’s actually why I was a bit sad when you and Sumire started hanging out so much.”
“Kanon…I started hanging out with Sumire because of you.” Chisato angles her head down, staring at their hands still together. Silence follows so she continues, “Because I like you Kanon. You’re my best friend and I want you to be by my side forever. I…I want you to be my partner forever.” The tears clinging to her eyes let go and start to fall down her face.
Kanon quickly and wordlessly cups her cheeks, swiping at the tears that cross her friend’s cheeks. Chisato tries to back away, scared she may have crossed a line or said something she shouldn’t have said. Kanon doesn’t let her and instead pulls her in. Holding her face in her hands Kanon lets their lips crash and it’s sloppy but it’s perfect. It’s everything both girls could have wanted and more.
Chisato swears there are fireworks going on around them. There have to be because she can’t hear anything other than the booming in her ears. She can’t feel anything other than an explosion on her lips, spreading warmth throughout her whole body. It makes her fingertips tingle.
Kanon pulls back, despite being breathless her smile is the brightest Chisato has ever seen. Her eyes are soft yet still shining like they do whenever she sings. Chisato could watch her for hours. She loves seeing Kanon happy.
Claps emerge from behind them and a strangled scream follows. “Keep quiet! Why are you clapping? Actually, why are you even here?” The two girls turn to find the rest of Liella, including Ren watching them. Sumire takes a few steps forward, throwing her arms into the air with a sigh.
“Sorry about them, they wouldn’t keep quiet.” Sumire turns and points at Ren, who currently holds a goofy smile on her face and has her hand held up in a wave. “I don’t even know when or why she showed up.”
“What? Am I not allowed to visit my local shrine?” Ren pouts.
“You would be, if that wasn’t an obvious lie. You were drenched in sweat when you got here.”
“Anyways!” Keke bursts from behind Sumire and pulls Kanon and Chisato into a tight hug. She squeezes them tight like they might disappear at any moment. “I’m so happy for you guys!
“Well, technically we haven’t figured anything out yet,” Chisato says through nervous laughter. She pats Keke’s back before the girl quickly backs away. A confused look is set on her face.
“If you hadn’t started clapping they would have been able to talk about that, dingus.” Sumire walks up and chops Keke on the top of her head.
“It’s okay, I think we both understand each other,” Kanon says reaching for Chisato’s hand.
“We always have.” They share a quick smile before joining the rest of their friends.
Keke grabs Kanon’s wrist and pulls her ahead of the others. Sumire falls back with Chisato and Ren.
“So…? Did I do good, club leader?” Keke raises a hand in salute. Her eyes sparkle in excitement.
Kanon sighs, “Yeah, thanks Keke.” She places a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “I really appreciate it…even if I didn’t exactly ask for it.”
“That’s what friends are for!”
Sumire watches the two girls ahead of them before turning to face Chisato. “I told you it would all work out.” The dancer sticks her tongue out at her gloating but thanks her nevertheless. “So how does it feel to be a cloud, hip hop?”
“Hah, it feels pretty great.” Chisato watches the sky, her hands held behind her back. She feels like jumping around and dancing until her legs give out. “I guess you could say I’m on cloud 9.”
Sumire let’s out a light giggle. “Nice one.” She turns to Ren now. “So why did you really show up?”
“Keke messaged me.” Ren keeps her eyes fixed on the girls ahead. “Obviously I couldn’t miss such a historic moment.”
“I wouldn’t call it that.”
“Nope, we’ve been waiting for this for a while, hip hop. Historic is putting it lightly.” Chisato looks to Sumire in surprise before turning to Ren for confirmation. She only shrugs, bearing an apologetic smile in response.
“Fine, it does feel pretty historic.”
“That’s the spirit!” Ren claps her hands together.
“Yeah, now go be with your girl. Just not too lovey-dovey, okay, hip hop?” Chisato nods with a laugh and runs up to Kanon. Keke falls back and joins Sumire and Ren. They watch the two girls ahead, laughing, holding hands, a small kiss on the cheek from time to time.
“They’re so adorable and they only just got together.” Keke shakes Sumire’s shoulders while they walk. The blonde only removes Keke’s hand from her shoulder and shakes her head.
“They have known each other since they were kids.”
“We did a good job.”