Haneoka Girls’ Academy - Student Council Room
“Great news, Tsugu-chan!” Hina said, as she burst through the door. And the day had been off to such a great start too…
With a sigh, Tsugumi steeled herself for the worst. Bad news she could deal with. Good news might be something normal. But great news from Hina was always a problem. Did she get approval to add a comedy segment to the daily broadcast? Were they going to have to decorate the entire school again?
“Oh, um,” Tsugumi gathered her courage and asked, “What is it, Hina-senpai?”
“I’ve been talking things over with Onee-chan,” Hina explained, “And it looks like we can be girlfriends now!”
Tsugumi waited a moment for Hina to elaborate, but the girl never dropped her gleeful, expectant look. There had been a faint hope that it would be something reasonable, when Hina mentioned that she had consulted Sayo. But this? Girlfriends?
“Hina-senpai… I… You said with Sayo-san?” Tsugumi attempted to piece together a coherent response, but only managed to voice her own confusion. Hina had been talking to her sister about this?
“Yeah, with Onee-chan!” Hina affirmed with a nod, “I was a bit surprised too, but she said she’d be really happy if we gave it a try.”
Tsugumi’s mind couldn’t dance around the issue any longer. Hina was asking her out. She hadn’t even known that Hina was gay. Imagined it? Vividly. But that was quite different from believing it.
Even if Tsugumi had known, there was no reason to think Hina would choose to direct any of those sapphic impulses towards her of all people. Who would give Tsugumi a second glance when they spent their days around girls like Chisato? Or Aya? Or Eve or Maya—
Tsugumi shook her head clear of beautiful idol girls, save the one standing right in front of her, still waiting on her response. None of Hina’s other decisions had ever made any sense to her, so why should things be any different when it came to love?
Tsugumi tasted the foreign word on her tongue. Did Hina love her? Did she love Hina? Tsugumi had never needed to give serious thought to such things before.
“Ahhh! Tsugu-chan!” Hina squealed as she clasped both of Tsugumi’s hands in her own, “Do you love me too? Do you? Do you?”
Hina bounced up and down as she repeated the question. Her senpai was—as always—impossible to ignore, when all Tsugumi wanted was a moment to think. The answer felt so obvious, yet it hovered just out of reach.
Tsugumi was shocked by her own response, but pressed on, “—Or, I think so? For sure, I can say, I would love to be your girlfriend.”
“That’s amazing, Tsugu-chan!” Hina said, and promptly claimed the other girl’s lips.
All of Tsugumi’s confused feelings melted away instantly. Not out of any sudden clarity or realization, but due to the entirety of her attention being stolen by the cute girl kissing her. Panic took over briefly, Hina’s grip on her hands feeling so much more restrictive than before. But it soon faded as Hina’s tongue slipped inside her mouth, and Tsugumi could linger on every blissful sensation.
Was this love? It felt nice, either way.
Her mind was filled with Hina. Her taste, crisp and with a hint of mint. Her technique, confident yet gentle, taking hold of Tsugumi’s senses with the slightest of movements. Her entire being, the countless memories she had of Hina—every laugh, every grin, every strange idea and spontaneous act. Tsugumi loved it all, and was enveloped by these spinning thoughts. As Hina’s tongue slid across her own, everything else disappeared. Tsugumi couldn’t find it in herself to mourn the loss.
“I can’t wait to tell Onee-chan!” Hina said, as she broke the kiss, unaffected by whatever spell it had placed on Tsugumi.
Taking a moment to catch her breath, Tsugumi held fast to Hina’s hands, afraid everything might end as soon as she let go.
It did strike her as a touch strange that Hina’s first thoughts—after a kiss like that—were of her twin sister. It was hard for Tsugumi to imagine being able to focus on anything beyond the two of them, in that moment. But with a bit more thought, it began to make some sense to her. In as much as Hina ever made sense to her.
Before today, Tsugumi couldn’t have imagined anyone would compare to Sayo in her sister’s eyes, be it Tsugumi herself or otherwise. Hina might love her, for whatever unclear reasons, but she had not by any means lost her near-obsession with Sayo. It was best to get used to that now, because if all went well, Tsugumi was going to start spending even more time with Hina than she already was.
Everything hit her all over again. Hina had asked her out. The breathtaking idol, the unrivaled guitarist, her incomprehensible student council president. Choosing a simple, unremarkable girl like Tsugumi. Would they have to hide their relationship from the tabloids? Would anyone even believe such a thing to begin with?
Hina didn’t strike her as the type to worry about any of that. So instead, Tsugumi smiled to her new girlfriend—and such a precious phrase that was—slipping her fingers out of Hina’s grasp, sliding down to wrap around her wrist.
“I’m sure Sayo-san will be thrilled to hear all about it, Hina-senpai,” Tsugumi said, pulling out a stack of papers with her free hand as panic started to creep into Hina’s expression, “But for now we have to review those budget reports you promised to take a look at yesterday. Remember?”
Hina tried to squirm out of Tsugumi’s grip, but she had been completely blindsided, not noticing what was happening until far too late. Tsugumi had caught her, and it wouldn’t do to let her escape now.
Tsugumi bowed to a few of the last trailing customers of the day, as they headed out the entrance to the café, making sure to call after them, “Please come again soon!”
She let out a small sigh as the doors closed once more, and she was left alone in the empty shop. Or, more accurately, nearly alone.
One single customer remained, where she had sat for the better part of the past hour, occasionally sneaking glances towards Tsugumi. One particular, green haired guitarist—though not the one she had expected to see, today of all days.
Sayo nursed her third cup of coffee, as she pretended to read the book held out in front of her.
On any other day, this would be nothing more than a pleasant surprise. Sayo was an infrequent customer of the café, always polite, always happy to talk when business was slow or her shift was wrapping up. If Tsugumi had been braver, she might have considered pushing for even more. But Hina’s confession today should rid her of any such thoughts, no matter if they never amounted to anything more than thoughts.
It was perfectly natural to find your girlfriend’s sister attractive, though. Wasn’t it? Doubly so for twin sisters. It would almost be an insult to Hina if Tsugumi didn’t at least find Sayo a little hot—or a lot hot, as the case might be.
The question still remained, what was Sayo doing here? She could have chosen to visit today by chance. Tsugumi could be reading too much into things. But Sayo’s visits weren’t all that common, between her commitment to Roselia and her own responsibilities at school, student council and otherwise.
Had Hina already told her about what happened this morning? Was this the famous “hurt her and die” speech that television and manga taught her all older siblings were required to give to any potential romantic partner?
Tsugumi put down the rag she had been using to polish the same part of the counter for the past three minutes. Sayo had clearly stuck around to the end of her shift for a reason, and ignoring her wasn’t an option. She was still a customer, after all.
“Um… excuse me,” Tsugumi said, as she approached Sayo’s table, “Did you, um, do you have everything you need, Sayo-san?”
Sayo slammed her book closed far too loudly as she looked up, but there was no one else in the coffee shop, so Tsugumi brushed it off without comment.
“Ah, Hazawa-san,” Sayo started, but then shook her head, “Er, Tsugumi-san—Tsugumi. I did want to see you. As soon as possible. I, um, assume you can guess why. Hina told you today, right?”
Tsugumi gulped, but didn’t want to show any weakness in front of her new girlfriend’s sister. Sayo could be quite intimidating when so inclined, though Tsugumi had never imagined she would have to experience it first hand.
“Yes, Sayo-san,” Tsugumi said, fidgeting about in her café uniform, “Hina-senpai… she was really excited to, um, tell me—and also to let you know I said yes, it seems.”
Sayo laughed at her description, and Tsugumi could hardly believe the carefree smile Sayo gave her. The serious image of Roselia’s guitarist clashed so heavily with what she was seeing, and more worryingly, she couldn’t figure out why. Though, Tsugumi wouldn’t complain about a lack of death glares or threats of bodily harm.
“Yes, excitable, that’s certainly fair,” Sayo said, a hint of affection slipping into her casual tone, “Hina never does anything by half measures, once she’s set on something.”
Tsugumi nodded in agreement. Sayo doubtless had even more experience trying to reign Hina in, as futile an endeavour as that often might seem. But there were certain advantages to having a girlfriend with a lack of restraint, she conceded. Hina’s enthusiasm that morning had been… quite the experience.
A blush must have started to form at the thought, since Sayo’s expression narrowed, focusing on her face a bit too deeply.
“She’s already kissed you, hasn’t she?”
Sayo’s bluntness caught Tsugumi off guard. It was a reasonable conclusion to draw, granted, but did she need to make it sound like such an accusation?
“Well, um, Sayo-san,” Tsugumi attempted to explain herself, but it was too embarrassing. Trying to relate the moments leading up to the kiss, well, inevitably led to the kiss itself. And Tsugumi still hadn’t gotten used to the idea of a cute girl wanting to kiss her like that in the first place. If she would ever get used to it, that is.
“It’s alright, Tsugumi, you don’t need to justify yourself, not to me,” Sayo smiled at her, but there was a note of sadness Tsugumi couldn’t place, “Could you… could you sit with me for a moment?”
Before Tsugumi could move to pull up another chair, she noticed that Sayo was gesturing to her own seat. Inviting Tsugumi, though there was hardly enough space for two people to sit comfortably. Still, Sayo clearly had something she wanted to say, and maybe lacked the courage to say it.
Sitting on someone’s lap wasn’t exclusively a romantic gesture, after all. Friends could do it, family could do it. Tsugumi hadn’t thought Sayo would be the type in either case, but there was no harm in hearing her out. And if Tsugumi was going to start dating her sister, it made sense that Sayo would want to get closer to her as well.
Tsugumi gave a mostly ceremonial brush of dust from her apron before joining Sayo, allowing the girl’s arms to gently wrap around her. Once she had sat down, the whole situation felt much more intimate than she had prepared herself for. Sitting on Sayo’s lap, just the two of them alone, nothing but dim street lights visible from out the café’s windows. She could feel Sayo’s soft breath on the back of her neck, and for a moment, neither girl spoke.
“It’s a bit childish of me, I know,” Sayo said at last, her voice wavering in a fashion Tsugumi never imagined hearing from the girl, “Hina has always been the best at everything. Always better than me. Even when I tried to get away from her, she would follow right behind me every time. And without fail, in time, ahead of me. She wouldn’t even be in Pastel✽Palettes if I’d never picked up a guitar first. Now, it’s just one more time she’s bested me.”
Tsugumi had never delved too deeply into the Hikawa twins’ relationship with one another. She had pieced together—mostly from Hina’s off-handed comments—that it had once been far worse, but getting straight answers from Hina was rare, and Sayo opening up even rarer. And yet, she was doing so right now, and to Tsugumi of all people.
She twisted in Sayo’s arms as she turned to face the girl. Tsugumi’s breath caught when she finally looked Sayo dead on. Were those… tears?
Despite herself, Tsugumi couldn’t manage to form a coherent question. She had no idea what she was supposed to say, when a beautiful girl started crying right in front of her. And so she said nothing, as Sayo pulled her in closer.
“I’m sorry, Tsugumi,” Sayo managed after a deep breath, “I didn’t want things to go quite like this, but I also don’t want to hide how I feel. Not from you. I had just been hoping that maybe—just this once—I’d be able to get away from Hina, do something all on my own. That love could be different.”
“Love…?” Tsugumi repeated, the word echoing in her mind for the second time that day. Did Sayo…?
“No, no, Tsugumi, it’s alright.”
Sayo tried to reassure her. Called her Tsugumi again. Had she been doing that all this time?
“I accept Hina for what she is, for who she is,” Sayo continued, “At least, I do now. If she loves you, then she loves you. I wouldn’t want my feelings to stand in the way of that.”
Tsugumi froze. Sayo’s feelings… Now Sayo was in love with her too? How was she supposed to respond to something like that?
Even Hina’s confession this morning seemed almost normal by comparison. Sayo looked so passionate, so self-assured, even as she told Tsugumi of how her love had fallen apart before it even began. That was likely the only reason why Tsugumi hadn’t started crying herself—at least, not yet. It felt like all too much.
“I’m happy for Hina,” Sayo said, and Tsugumi nearly believed her, “It’s only in her nature that she’d steal the first kiss of the girl I love. But I’ve decided now, I think I can accept that…”
Tsugumi didn’t understand how. Couldn’t understand Sayo smiling at her, at a moment like this. Pouring her heart out to Tsugumi, all too late. She had so thoughtlessly accepted Hina’s confession, unable to imagine another girl might feel the same for her. That Sayo, somehow, could—
Tsugumi’s train of thought screeched to an abrupt halt. Something warm had pressed up against her lips. It was an oddly familiar sensation. Rougher, more insistent, but familiar all the same.
Sayo had kissed her.
Sayo was kissing her. Right now.
There were many ways to react to getting kissed by your girlfriend’s sister. Righteous indignation. Disgust. A firm shove and firmer denial.
Tsugumi let out a soft moan, as Sayo broke the kiss. Her mind still hadn’t quite caught up with her body.
“Wouldn’t you agree, Tsugumi,” Sayo asked, a mischievous grin forming across her lips, the same pair that had just claimed her own, “that second kisses can be quite nice too?”
Tsugumi let Sayo rise from her seat, pushing her up onto her feet, then watched her walk out the door without another word. She stood there, unable to move, as everything started to crumble around her.