Back To Reality

[Sequel to Tourists For a Day]

It had gotten pretty late before they fell asleep last night, so it’s taking a bit extra to wake up this morning. Neither of them are typical morning coffee drinkers, but this morning it feels necessary.

An early bath doesn’t really help either, since they just relax more. Though splashing themselves with the showers afterwards is marginally effective. At this rate they’ll both fall asleep on the train.

“This is your fault,” Hifumi says groggily as they’re eating breakfast.

“Look,” Aoba says while yawning. “I was feeling rather pent up, and you were so very delicious.” She did maybe go a bit overboard, but she’s not going to admit to that.

“Aoba,” Hifumi hisses. “People might hear you.” She shoves a piece of food into Aoba’s mouth to shut her up, and hopes dearly she’s not blushing too deeply.

Afterwards they’re done they head back to the room to pack. The train doesn’t leave until nearly two, but they have to check out by noon.

“What, no kiss?” Aoba teases when Hifumi makes a point of avoiding her in the room.

“Not until you apologise,” Hifumi replies with a huff. Aoba suppresses a giggle at how cute Hifumi is. She figures it’s probably for the best that she gives in, though.

“Okay. I’m sorry,” she says. “I should have been more careful.” Hifumi looks over at her as if gauging whether or not she really means it, and Aoba smiles at her.

“Apology accepted,” Hifumi finally says with a sigh, then smiles. “If I really hated your evil ways that much, we wouldn’t still be together.” She winks at Aoba.

“Evil?” Aoba says in exaggerated shock. “Why, you wound me, senpai~!” Hifumi rolls her eyes.

“Are you ever going to stop with the ‘senpai’ thing?” she asks, slightly exasperated.

“Hm…” Aoba makes a show of thinking it over. “Probably not any time soon.” She grins. “Just admit it, you get a kick out of it.” Hifumi will admit no such thing, regardless of whether or not it’s true.

They finish up in not too long, and make a round to make sure they got everything. They didn’t end up trying out their new yukata, but there will be more chances. Just as she closes her bag, Hifumi can feel Aoba taking her hand.

“Hifumi,” Aoba says, the playful tone gone from her voice. “I’ve decided.” Hifumi looks at her curiously.

“Hm? Decided what?” she asks. Aoba’s eyes are looking very determined.

“However things go with my mother, I am going to move in with you sooner rather than later,” she declares. Even though that has been their clear goal, hearing Aoba say that still makes Hifumi’s heart skip a beat. Part of her may have been worried that if Aoba’s parents didn’t approve, it wouldn’t happen.

“If I start getting my things ready and packed as soon as I get home,” Aoba continues, keeping her grip on Hifumi’s hand firm. It helps her remember and retain her courage and determination. “I’m sure I can be ready to move within a week.”

“S-so soon?” Hifumi says, feeling strangely choked up. It has been their goal, they’ve talked it over numerous times. She knew it was going to happen. So why is it making her so emotional to hear Aoba speak with such resolve?

“I would love to get it done before my birthday,” Aoba says while smiling warmly. “It would be a very nice gift to myself. And a slightly late one for you,” she adds, a hint of playfulness coming back.

“Heh, silly,” Hifumi says, and hugs Aoba. “I’ll help however I can. I can come over and help you pack,” she offers before realising what that means. Aoba realises though.

“U-um, are you sure you’re ready to meet my parents?” Aoba asks, while also thinking: Am I ready for you to meet my parents? Hifumi hadn’t considered that.

“O-oh, ah… er…” Hifumi tries to quickly decide whether or not she’s ready, but it’s a surprisingly hard decision. It’s probably not too soon, technically, but Aoba currently has that issue with her mother, so will Hifumi showing up make it worse? There’s also the matter of whether she’ll be too nervous to manage to say anything to them.

“I mean, if you want to, that’s fine,” Aoba says, even though she’s also nervous about the idea. “It might help for them to meet you. To see the one I love.” Aoba leans back to look Hifumi in the eye. “But you don’t have to force yourself. I’m sure Nenecchi will help me pack regardless.” Hifumi is blushing.

“I… I’ll need a day or two to think about it,” she ends up replying. Aoba nods at her with a smile.

“Also… ahm…” Aoba says, suddenly looking a little sheepish. “I know this wasn’t part of the plan, but… would it be alright if I spend the night at your place again?” Hifumi leans forward and kisses Aoba.

“Of course.” She feels like she understands Aoba’s reasons for asking, even without them being stated.

They both fall asleep on the train, but thankfully Hifumi has the foresight to set an alarm on her phone.

By the time they’re back at her place they’re a little tired again, but they manage to make some dinner, throw their used clothes in the washer, and then settle down on the couch to cuddle and watch TV.

“I think…” Aoba says after a while. “That we should officially tell everyone at work about us during lunch break tomorrow.” She turns her heard towards Hifumi and kisses her on the cheek. “If you’re okay with that?” she asks.

“I guess… we should…” Hifumi says a little hesitantly. “But…”

“Don’t worry,” Aoba says and squeezes Hifumi gently. “I can do the talking,” she adds, as if she was reading Hifumi’s mind.

“Okay. Thank you,” Hifumi says, and kisses Aoba. All of a sudden making out feels a lot more interesting than watching the drama on TV. It’s hard for any moving pictures to compete with that sweet taste.

After fooling around on the couch a bit, they unpack what they need to get ready for bed. They hang the clothes to dry in the living room before finally getting into bed, and falling asleep almost instantly.

When they wake up the next morning, Aoba has something very important to tell Hifumi:

“Happy birthday!” She beams at Hifumi. This had been an ulterior motive. “Ehehe, I got to be the first~”

They nearly forget the souvenirs when they head off for work, and just barely manage to catch the subway.

Hifumi thinks about whether there’s anything she will have to prepare before Aoba moves in. Mainly getting another key made. The rest they can deal with as it pops up, probably.

When they get into the office, Kou, Rin, and Hajime are already there.

“Happy birthday, Hifumi, and good morning~” Hajime greets them with. “Did you two have a nice weekend?” she asks with a grin, and they both blush.

“Y-yeah, it was great,” Aoba says honestly, smiling back at her. Hajime had expected them to squirm a little more, but eh, that’s fine. “We brought souvenirs,” Aoba continues. “We’ll give them to you during lunch.”

“Awww,” Hajime says with exaggerated disappointment. “I suppose I can wait a few hours.”

“You too, Yagami-san, Toyama-san,” Aoba pokes her head through to their cubicle to tell them. “You’ll join us at lunch, right?”

“Sure, sure,” Kou answers, barely looking up from her computer.

“We’d love to,”Rin adds, in a tone implying she won’t let Kou forget.

Yun comes in about 5 minutes later, when the rest have gotten started on their work. For Aoba and Hifumi the hours leading up to lunch are a bit tense.

Though for Aoba there’s also the matter of Hifumi’s gift. She’s hidden it away at the office, and sneakily retrieves when she takes a bathroom break. She tries to slip it under her desk without Hifumi noticing, and thankfully she’s too absorbed by her work. It is wrapped, but Aoba still wants it to be a complete surprise.

Once it’s lunchtime, Kou and Rin comes in to join the rest of them. Hajime and Yun exchange looks before going:

“Ready, set… Happy birthday, Hifumi!” all four of their coworkers go in sync.

Hifumi squeaks a little before she says: “Thank you.” Aoba wonders if they planned that, or just spontaneously coordinated.

Then it’s time for presents. Before anyone else gets a chance, Aoba pulls out hers, and hands it across to Hifumi, who looks confused.

“Huh? B-but we already…” Hifumi says. The weekend trip was supposed to be their gift to each other.

“I know,” Aoba says, thinking it was worth it for that reaction alone. “But I couldn’t resist getting you a present anyway.” Hifumi understands. She has something for Aoba’s birthday too. The others give them knowing looks.

The present from Aoba is a pair of fluffy slippers Hifumi had mentioned she’d seen online. From Yun she gets a new scarf. Looks warm and very cute. Hajime gives her a figurine she and Hifumi had talked about a few weeks ago. Kou and Rin got together to get a proper birthday cake for them all to share. Hifumi thanks them all.

In return, Aoba and Hifumi distribute the souvenirs they brought. Mainly snacks and neat knickknacks, plus a funny t-shirt for each of them. Then Aoba stands up and clears her throat.

“Um… so… before we start on the cake, there’s something I’d like to say.” She knows they (probably) know, but somehow she still feels nervous. “I’m sure you have all figured it out already, but… I guess… we just wanted to state it officially.” They’re all looking at her, and she can’t help but swallow nervously. How hard is she blushing? “Hifumi and I are dating.” None of them look surprised. “Have been dating for a while. Er… t-that’s it…” she says, and sits back down.

“Yeah, we know,” Yun is the first to speak.

“We figured it out some time ago,” Hajime confirms.

“Rin- I mean, I could also tell,” Kou says, making it seem like Rin was the one who told her.

“Well, then I guess I can also say officially: Congratulations,” Rin tells them.

“T-thank you,” Aoba says. Neither hers nor Hifumi’s blushing is going away. “H-how long have you known?”

“Well, we started noticing something was up before Christmas,” Hajime says.

“But it was only after New Year’s we were absolutely sure,” Yun adds with a wink. Aoba and Hifumi can’t remember what they might had done back then to make them so sure.

“We were waiting for you to tell us,” Rin says. “But we started to wonder if you wanted to keep it a secret, since it was taking so long. Even though you weren’t very subtle.”

“Ah, n-no,” Aoba confesses. “We’re… we’re just kinda bad at this,” she says with a slight laugh. Kou is scrutinising them.

“What I want to know is: How long has this been going on?” she asks, and Aoba squirms a little.

“Er… since… the night of the launch party… for Faeries Story 3,” she admits, and both Kou and Hajime whistle in surprise.

“That long, huh? Wow, you really took your time telling us,” Kou says. “I almost feel a little offended,” she adds, causing Rin to jab her with her elbow.

“We genuinely didn’t mean to,” Aoba quickly says.

“We j-just couldn’t f-find a-a good opportunity to s-say anything,” Hifumi chimes in, feeling bad for letting Aoba do all the talking.

“Hm… so… how far have you gone… you know…” Hajime starts asking, but Yun gives her a look.

“Hajime,” is all she says in a warning tone.

“No, I just mean! I meant! I wasn’t!” Hajime rattles off quickly, then falls silent. “Sorry…” she says after a couple of moments.

“I think what Shinoda-san was trying to ask,” Rin comes to the rescue. “Is where your relationship is at. I’ve seen you coming in together more and more. Are you living together now?”

“Not quite,” Aoba says. “But I’m getting ready to move in, hopefully within a week.”

“Before your birthday?” Yun asks, and Aoba nods in response.

“Is that why you decided to tell us now?” Kou asks, and Aoba shakes her head.

“N-no, it was… it was more that… we realised you all had realised, so it just felt very silly to not say anything,” she replies, a little ashamed. “We really should have said something sooner.”

“Well, these things happen,” Rin says kindly. “Now we should probably eat this cake before we run out of time.” She starts distributing paper plates and plastic spoons to everyone.

“I think we’re okay with going a few minutes extra today,” Kou says with a smile. “It’s not that often we have a birthday.”

“Thank you,” Hifumi says, and smiles back. Both she and Aoba feel relieved to have it all out there, even if it was a little awkward and embarrassing. At least that’s one less thing to think about.

It’s a very good cake.



Posted on May 14, 2017, in Fiction, Storytime and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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