Meeting By The Beach
[A/N: Disclaimer: The opening is You’s thoughts of herself, and it does not represent my thoughts of her.]
Watanabe You had things to think about. Mainly one thing. What was her role in Aqours? She wasn’t the greatest singer, or the greatest dancer. She didn’t have the best sense of rhythm. She wasn’t the cutest, or the prettiest. She had a passion for uniforms and costumes, and she made the ones for the group. Was that all she had?
The others could probably do that without her if they had to. Ruby had a talent for design. Yoshiko and Dia were good with their hands.
A gust of wind rustled her hair, and she gazed up at the sky. It was a nice day. Summer might be approaching its end, but it was still warm enough. She was hoping the fresh air would help clear her mind as well.
She got up from the bench, and turned to lean on top the low wall running behind it. So she could look out at sea. The sun was making it sparkle like a blanket of jewels.
You joined Aquors because it was something Chika wanted to do. Something that finally made Chika’s eyes light up in a way You had never seen before. So of course she signed on. Doing something together with Chika was what she had wanted all along since they started school together. Of course she joined.
But it didn’t turn out quite as I expected, did it? she thought to herself. It wasn’t just her and Chika. Now there was also Riko, Hanamaru, Ruby, Yoshiko, Dia, Kanan, and Mari. Chika had so many others now, not just You. So maybe what really bothered her was: What was Watanabe You’s role in Takami Chika’s life?
They were childhood friends. They had known each other for so long that You couldn’t remember what her life was like before Chika. But You knew how the stories usually went. She was the childhood friend. Chika was the star of Aquors. And… and Riko was the beautiful transfer student.
You hurriedly wiped away a tear she could feel forming. She was supposed to be stronger than this, and cursed at herself for feeling so weak. Cursing like a sailor, hah, she thought, and had to smile in spite of her melancholy.
But if this was like one of the stories, then You knew the fate of the childhood friend. The one who never managed to say anything, because they’d become too comfortable with how things were. And couldn’t handle it when things changed.
She rubbed the side of her head in frustration, really frazzling up her hair in the process. The sound of the ocean didn’t seem to be calming her down as much as she hoped. She took a deep breath, filling her nose and lungs with the scent of salt water and sand. That felt a little better.
This wasn’t just a story, she had to keep telling herself that. Life didn’t have to follow the same lines. It’s just that it seemed to be doing exactly that. Chika and Riko had an obvious connection from the very start. One You didn’t understand, and didn’t feel like she was really a part of.
She folded her arms and rested her head against them, gazing at the beach. You and Chika had played a lot down there, on this particular beach, when they were younger. A nice memory, but one that also made it feel like more tears were going to form.
You had always thought of herself as a normal and unremarkable girl. But now she had learned that Chika didn’t see it the same way. Except it wasn’t Chika who had told her, it was Riko.
Somewhere along the way You and Chika had lost the part where they told each other everything. Chika would rather talk to Riko these days. And You was… You couldn’t get herself to speak up. ‘Tell her what you really think’, Mari had told her.
Like it’s that easy, she thought bitterly. She knew Mari was right though. Even after Chika had shown up that night, You still hadn’t been able to… even after what Riko told her, she still hadn’t been able to…
She angrily wiped away her tears again. Angry at herself for being… being such a coward. This wasn’t how Watanabe You was supposed to be! She straightened herself up, and placed her palms on the wall.
Next time I see Chika, I’ll-, was all she managed to think before she heard:
“Yooouuuu-chan!” You whipped around, and saw Chika lightly jogging towards her. She was wearing a light blue top and a darker blue skirt, and the sun seemed be shining off of her orange hair in much the same way it did off the sea.
I’m not ready for this, You thought in brief panic, but then scolded herself. No, this is my chance. I can do this. But her nervousness was rising as Chika came closer.
“I thought I’d find you here, hehe,” Chika said, and seemed proud for being right.
“How did you know?” You asked as Chika came up next to her, and leaned on top of the wall like You had been doing.
“Your mum said you had gone out, and I know you like to come here to think,” Chika answered while You turned around to resume her leaning. “So I gambled that that’s what you were doing. And I was right.” Chika smiled over at her friend. You blushed lightly and looked away.
“I wasn’t aware you knew,” she said.
“Then I’m happy to report I know you better than you thought, captain!” Chika said cheerfully, and You glanced back to see Chika salute with a grin on her face. “Besides, this is our beach. So it makes sense,” she added, and now You really had to look away so Chika couldn’t read the emotions on her face.
“I… I was afraid you didn’t remember…” She said as steadily as she could. Afraid wasn’t the word You had intended to use, but that’s what had come out of her.
“Come on, You-chan. How could I forget?” Chika said. “Give me some credit.” She reached out and touched You’s arm reassuringly. You had to fight both the urge to pull away, and the urge to grab onto Chika’s hand for dear life. She took a deep breath again.
“Hey, Chika-chan… can I ask you something?” she asked. Chika giggled lightly.
“Of course. Anything,” Chika replied, her voice warm and friendly.
“We used to tell each other everything, right? … when did that stop?” You asked. She knew she should look Chika in the eyes for this, but she couldn’t.
“Did we stop?” Chika mused as she thought it over. “Hmmm… I suppose… maybe it’s just natural to keep some secrets, even between best friends,” she said. You wanted to ask whether they really were still best friends, but held her tongue.
“Even so,” You said, scraping at some moss on the wall with a nail. “I feel like we talk less than we used to. And… and there are things I really want… really should tell you. But it’s like…” we’ve drifted apart, You thought, finishing the sentence she couldn’t say out loud.
“You can always tell me anything you want, You-chan,” Chika said with an honesty that just frustrated You even more. “Though… I haven’t really been as attentive a friend as I should have been, probably.” You wanted to say ‘that’s not true’, but she couldn’t. Part of her wanted to blame Chika, and she hated that part.
“I know I can be slow, and dense,” Chika continued. “You have been remarkably patient with me over the years, You-chan.” You had to laugh at that, in spite of everything else she was feeling.
“Haha, you make it sound so bad, Chika-chan,” she said, looking at, but not really seeing, the beach. “It really wasn’t as much trouble as you’re making it out to be.” Not at all.
“Hey, I’m trying to be serious here,” Chika complained, but You could tell she was smiling. “Before you so rudely interrupted me, I was trying to say that… that I know I’ve gotten carried away when it comes to Aqours. And I maybe haven’t always stopped to make sure everyone was keeping up behind me…”
“Usually you’re the one who can’t keep up,” You joked with a smile of her own. Chika really was sounding uncharacteristically serious.
“What a mean thing to say!” Chika said, then followed up with. “But also true, ehehe…” There was a quiet moment before Chika kept talking. “You know, I was talking to Riko-chan.” You could feel jealousy rear its ugly head immediately. “And I realised there were some really obvious things I had failed to notice.”
“Like what?” You asked, far more grumpily than she had intended.
“Hm… well…” Chika said, seemingly not bothered by You’s grumpiness. She sounded like she was thinking something over. “Hey, You-chan,” she suddenly said.
“Yeah?” You replied.
“You-chan. Yooouuu-chan. Hey, You-chan.” You was confused as to what Chika was up to.
“What?” She was getting grumpy again.
“You-chan. Heyyyy, You-chan. Over here, You-chan,” Chika kept on pestering, and You thought it sounded like she was calling a dog over.
“What?!” You said, turning her head towards Chika. Whoa, when did she get so clo-, she managed to think before Chika leaned in all the way.
Huh? What? Lips? On mine. Chika’s lips? Chika’s lips are on my lips. What? Tastes of… mikan? Warm. Kissing? Very warm. Is Chika kissing me? She smells nice. Chika is kissing me. What? My first kiss. A thousand thoughts seemed to race through You’s mind at once. Then it ended, as abruptly as it had begun. You was now looking into Chika’s eyes, not knowing how to react.
“Hehehe, got you, You-chan,” Chika said, sounding extremely pleased with herself. You felt like she was over-heating.
“W-wh-wha-” she stuttered. “Chi-Chika-chan?” Her eyes were locked onto Chika’s, unable to look away.
“See, what I realised I had failed to notice,” Chika said, clearly proud of her own genius deduction. “Was your feelings for me, You-chan. And I wanted to let you know I feel the sa- You-chan, why are you crying?” Chika’s voice shifted from very confident, to very uncertain.
“Huh?” You said. She hadn’t noticed she had started crying.
“Di-did I get it wrong? Oh no, I’m so sorry, You-chan!” Chika was starting to sound panicked. “I just charged ahead again, oh no…” You sniffled.
“Chika-chan, you idiot,” she said, and covered her face behind her right forearm.
“Aaaahhhh,” Chika flailed her arms about in panic. “Oh no, oh no, I’m really sorry, You-chan, oh no, how do I fix this, oh no!”
“That’s how you take my first kiss?” You asked, and Chika paused.
“Eh?” Chika sounded confused. You lowered her arm, and looked at Chika for a moment through red-tinged eyes. Her contacts were basically useless now. She grabbed Chika by her top, and pulled her into another kiss.
You was more forceful, and pushed her tongue into Chika’s mouth. Chika didn’t resist, and instead seemed to go rather soft. It didn’t take long before You calmed down either. None of this had turned out as she expected, but what else was new? She relaxed her grip on Chika, and slowly pulled back. They were both breathing heavy.
“You’re such an idiot, Chika-chan,” You said again for emphasis.
“Eh?” was all Chika said. She seemed a bit stunned.
“Of course I have feelings for you. Yes, like you meant,” You said, and leaned her forehead against Chika’s.
“Eh?” Chika repeated. She still hadn’t recovered.
“But you could have found a better way of doing this, in… instead of just kissing me like that,” You said chidingly. Her blush was very strong.
“Eh… ehehe… maybe…” Chika said sheepishly. Her face was nearly as red as You’s. “But that’s what worked in the stories I found in Riko-chan’s room.” You blinked for a moment, then started laughing.
“Ahahaha, eesh… you really are an idiot,” she said once more. Chika giggled along. “Not everything works like in the stories, Chika-chan.” You was saying that to herself as well. I’m an idiYout too, she thought as she went for her third kiss.