Pain of Heart
[Follow-up to Courage of Heart]
[A/N: I hadn’t originally intended for this to turn out this dark. I’m somewhat questioning why I did it. I’m sorry, Arisa, Kasumi. I’ll try to make it up to you at some later date.]
At times Arisa wondered if she had really done the right thing confessing to Kasumi. She had discovered Kasumi felt the same, and they had started going out. That part was good. But it had also brought several new feelings she was struggling to deal with.
Now every time Kasumi hugged her it seemed too short, and every time she saw Kasumi hug anyone else this ugly feeling arose inside her. Was that jealousy? She didn’t like it. Neither the feeling, nor seeing Kasumi getting close to anyone else.
It wasn’t fair for her to ask Kasumi to stop, though. That’s just how Kasumi was. Ever since the start she would leap onto anyone unprovoked. That was part of what made her great. Asking Kasumi to stop being herself was such a horribly selfish thing that Arisa could never do it. But she really wanted to stop feeling this way.
She sighed. Her fingers were moving across the keyboard, but she hadn’t been listening to what she was playing. It wasn’t even practice, it was just keeping herself occupied until Kasumi arrived.
They had a date today. Their first proper date, perhaps, depending on how you defined such things. Kasumi was taking her to the amusement park. Arisa didn’t really like such places. There were too many people, but since Kasumi wanted to go…
“Hah, I really just let her drag me along wherever, don’t I?” she said to herself.
No one in the band had been surprised when Kasumi announced they were dating. Arisa had already told Rimi, of course. O-Tae was an airhead, but even she had seen the signs. Though like Rimi she just hadn’t realised what she was seeing. She’d had that same annoying ‘oh, that makes sense’ expression that Rimi got. Saya hadn’t seemed surprised either, but… was it just Arisa’s imagination that Saya had seemed a little disappointed?
Perhaps Arisa was just projecting her own expectations of Saya’s feelings onto her. Ever since she realised her own feelings for Kasumi, Arisa had had this worry that Saya felt similarly. Arisa liked Saya, and didn’t like the idea of competing against her. If Kasumi had said ‘I have feelings for someone else’, that… it wouldn’t have surprised Arisa, but it would have hurt. A lot. So Arisa worried about whether Saya was now feeling that hurt, or… if she had just misjudged that whole situation.
She leaned down on the keys, provoking a short cacophony.
So again Arisa had to ask herself whether she had really done the right thing. This was hard. And she was bad with people, so maybe she was also just bad at reading other people.
She could hear someone coming in upstairs, and based on the footfalls it had to be Kasumi. Arisa had to do her best to set aside these thoughts and feelings for now.
“Arisa?” Kasumi called out as she came down the stairs. “Ah, there you are!” Arisa got up from behind the keyboard, and Kasumi immediately glomped her. This part was nice. Kasumi smelled nice.
“Hey, careful! You’ll knock something over,” Arisa said, but she wasn’t truly angry. And she had learned how to hug back now. Kasumi giggled at her, and squeezed a little tighter. Arisa’s grumpy side was part of her charm.
“Sorry,” Kasumi said, though it didn’t sound like she meant it. “Are you ready to go?” she asked. Arisa quickly went over a mental checklist.
“Yeah, I think so,” she replied. It should all be in her purse. “Hang on, let me double-check.” She opened it up and started going through it all. “Yeah, looks like everything’s in here.”
“Great, then we can go meet up with the others,” Kasumi said, though the look on Arisa’s face made her immediately regret making the joke. “Ah no, I’m sorry, Arisa! I was just joking! It’s only the two of us, of course.” Arisa relaxed again, and cursed herself for not recognising it as a joke right away. Didn’t she trust Kasumi? Was that the problem?
“R-right, I… I should have realised,” she said, and smiled at Kasumi. “Shall we go, then?” She was really trying to put aside all her doubts and worries, but it was easier said than done.
They walked upstairs, and went outside. They had to take the subway to get there. Arisa reached out and tugged on Kasumi’s sleeve. It was her sign that she wanted to hold hands. Kasumi smiled to herself, and took Arisa’s hand. Even though Arisa had been the one to confess, Kasumi had noticed that she still preferred to follow, rather than take the lead. When she wanted to do something, she’d rather try to signal Kasumi to initiate it, than go for it herself.
In hindsight Kasumi felt a bit embarrassed at her reaction to Arisa’s confession. She’d had a complete breakdown. If Arisa hadn’t done it though, Kasumi didn’t think she ever would have worked up the courage. She typically regarded herself as pretty fearless, but that image had been shook and crumpled a little since this whole band business started. The setbacks had occasionally been crushing, and the rest of the band were what kept her going. So jeopardising that relationship held her back.
But with how happy she was now, all her previous justifications seemed a bit flimsy. And Arisa wasn’t as afraid to show her non-obstinate side any longer. At least to Kasumi. And yet…
Kasumi paused her train of thought as they boarded the subway train. She squeezed Arisa’s hand reassuringly.
Yet sometimes she would catch this look on Arisa’s face. Not often, and never when Arisa was aware she was being watched. But often enough that it made Kasumi worry. There was clearly something on Arisa’s mind that she wasn’t sharing. Something that would occasionally make her look really troubled. Kasumi thought she had glimpsed that look just before Arisa had looked up at her earlier.
They found a pair of seats, and Arisa tried as covertly as she could to lean against Kasumi without making it seem obvious. Kasumi just smiled at the effort, and pretended not to notice.
She didn’t know what was troubling Arisa, nor did she know how to approach the subject. But it made her worry that she had done, or was doing, something wrong. That somehow she was making Arisa unhappy. Was Arisa just faking the happiness she displayed outwardly towards Kasumi? Actually, that seemed unlikely. Arisa wasn’t a very good actor.
Besides, Arisa was the one who confessed! Why should she be troubled about it now? Kasumi felt annoyed, which was then followed by a load of guilt. What if this wasn’t working out? They’d have to talk it out somehow. If there’s one thing Kasumi had learned in the months since they started the band, it’s how important it was to talk things out. But how would she…
They arrived at their stop, and Kasumi’s thoughts were interrupted. They hurried to get off.
“You okay, Kasumi?” Arisa asked. “Didn’t you get enough sleep?” She thought maybe Kasumi had been falling asleep on the train.
“Ehehe, yeah,” Kasumi said with an embarrassed laugh. “I just spaced out a little, I guess. Come on, it’s not far from here.”
Arisa had actually never been to this amusement park, though she knew roughly where it was. All her troubled thoughts aside, she was glad her first time here was with Kasumi. That should make it bearable. She thought she could see bits of it poking up in the distance.
Kasumi had arranged tickets in advance, so getting inside wasn’t a problem. The place was even larger than Arisa had imagined, and she wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. With more space there might be more room for quiet areas, but it might also be easier to get lost, and there’s just more room for people as well. She looked nervously at the crowds, and clung onto Kasumi.
Kasumi could tell Arisa was uneasy. A little overwhelmed maybe. She was sure she could find something to distract Arisa with, and ease her into it, though. So she gently took Arisa’s hand.
“Come on, there’s no reason to be worried,” she said and smiled. “I’m right here with you.”
“I-I’m not worried!” Arisa said instinctively, but Kasumi’s assurance gave her more comfort than she was willing to admit. She made sure to keep a firm grip on Kasumi’s hand as they headed further in.
Kasumi guided Arisa towards the booths first. There were quite a lot of people here today, but it wasn’t the worst Kasumi had seen it. Getting something to eat, and playing some booth games, was probably a good way to start. And if she could get Arisa up into the roller coaster, she’d definitely have something very different on her mind.
They got some takoyaki, as that was a staple at things like this, and Kasumi even got to feed a couple to Arisa. Arisa had protested, as she was wont to, but quickly changed her mind when Kasumi was about to take it back. She had looked around self-consciously before quickly snatching it with her mouth. It was so adorable Kasumi’s heart skipped a beat.
At the booth games they discovered that Arisa was actually a pretty good shot, and Kasumi was rubbish at the ring toss. That was nothing new, but she had hoped she had somehow gotten better since last time. She had made up for it by getting lucky on the rope-pulling though, so they both walked away with a decent stuffed prize. Maybe they could trade them later. That’s a couple thing, right? Winning something for your partner? Kasumi suggested it to Arisa, who at first went bright red, but still ended up silently offering her prize in trade for Kasumi’s.
They both smiled warmly afterwards, but Arisa’s darker thoughts lurked in the back of her mind, questioning whether she really deserved this. She wasn’t even sure whether she was able to trust Kasumi fully, even though she had no good reason not to.
The thing that got Arisa up into the roller coaster was Kasumi saying it was either that, or the haunted house. Possibly a cruel trick, but it worked. Arisa would not describe the experience as pleasant, but it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be either.
“That wasn’t so bad,” she actually said to Kasumi afterwards, feeling a strange buzz from it all.
“Want to have another go, then?” Kasumi asked, and for a moment Arisa actually considered it. Then she quickly shook her head.
“N-not right now,” she replied. “It’s not that I mind, b-but we have a lot to get through.” Kasumi suppressed a grin.
They got something to drink, then Kasumi suggested the ferris wheel. It didn’t move fast, and it didn’t have monsters, so Arisa agreed. She regretted it slightly when she realised just how high it went, but she refused to back out now. Selfishly she liked the idea of a little space with just her and Kasumi in it for a a time.
Sitting across from each other, Arisa could see how happy Kasumi’s smile was. Kasumi leaned forward and put her hand above Arisa’s knee.
“Are you having fun?” she asked, dearly hoping that was the case.
“I…” Arisa forgot what she was initially about to say, too distracted by blushing at Kasumi’s touch. She didn’t attempt to pull away, though. “Yeah. Yeah, I am.” Her prickly side relaxed. “I was worried, but… it’s been good.” Kasumi’s smile got a little brighter.
“Hey, I know!” she said as if she just had a bright idea. “Let’s take a selfie, and send it to the others!” Arisa could feel that ugly feeling rising in her right away. She didn’t want anyone else to share even the least bit of this. She especially didn’t want Saya to see it. And she hated feeling this way. Something must have shown on her face.
“Are you okay, Arisa?” Kasumi asked with clear concern. Her smile was gone. Arisa cursed herself.
“It’s nothing,” she said while trying to keep it out of her voice, but she wasn’t good at this. She had definitely ruined the mood. But it was Kasumi who had… no, she couldn’t think that way. It wasn’t Kasumi’s fault. But why couldn’t she just realise how Arisa felt?
“Are you sure?” Kasumi asked. She definitely felt like something was wrong, but she couldn’t understand what.
“I’m fine, really,” Arisa said, forcing herself to smile. She had nearly shouted it, nearly snapped at Kasumi, but even just the thought made her feel so guilty she thought she might suffocate. “Look, we’re nearly down again,” she said, grateful for the opportunity to change the subject. They didn’t take that selfie.
The mood was muted afterwards, but gradually things loosened up again. By the time they had to leave, things felt good again. Arisa enjoyed the warmth of Kasumi’s hand as they headed back to the subway.
But during the ride home, her doubts started coming back. She loved Kasumi. So much it hurt. Maybe that was the problem. Maybe that was what made this all so hard. Her feelings were too strong, to the point of being unbearable. They had overall had a great time, but that just made her feel worse about her ugly feelings. She mulled it over all the way home. It was painful to even think about it, but maybe there was only one right thing to do. Once they arrived at Arisa’s house, she let go of Kasumi’s hand, and turned to face her.
“Kasumi, I…” she said, and swallowed hard. “I don’t think this is going to work out.” Kasumi felt like her blood turned to ice when Arisa said that. “It might be best if we break up.” The shocked, hurt expression on Kasumi’s face was too much for Arisa to handle, so she took a couple of steps back, then turned around and ran.
“A-Arisa, wait!” she heard Kasumi shout behind her. Arisa sprinted into the shed, into their practice space, because she knew she could lock the door, and she couldn’t face her grandmother right now either. She slid down with her back against the door until she was sitting down, and put her face in her hands.
What did I just do? she asked herself. Kasumi ran up to the door and knocked frantically. She tried to open the door, but it was locked.
“Arisa! Arisa, talk to me!” Kasumi yelled. “Why?! Talk to me, please! What did I do?! Arisa…” Kasumi slid down to her knees, and banged a couple of times on the door in frustration. Arisa could feel it jolt through her body, and figured she deserved that. She wanted to yell at Kasumi to leave, but she couldn’t get the words out.
“Arisa, I’m staying here until you talk to me,” Kasumi said determined, and Arisa silently cursed Kasumi’s stubbornness. Why couldn’t she just leave? But a large part of Arisa didn’t want that either. She wanted to rewind time and take back what she had said. It hurt so much. She could hear Kasumi’s sniffling from the other side.
What have I done? she asked herself again. Why couldn’t I have just been happy with how things were? What is wrong with me?
“Arisa, why?” Kasumi said with a hint of exhaustion. Mirroring Arisa’s own thoughts. “Arisa…” Arisa leaned her head back against the door, wondering why Kasumi’s pain had to be so obvious.
I am the worst, she thought to herself, before she said: “I’m here.” Kasumi felt her heart lift for a moment, and she slumped against the door, so they were sitting back to back.
“Arisa, can you let me in?” she asked.
“… no,” Arisa replied, her voice sore.
“Why? Did you hate today?” Kasumi asked.
“No, I loved it.” Arisa had for a moment thought to say yes.
“Do you hate me?” Kasumi asked, and Arisa felt stabbed in the heart.
“No! I love you!” she said without even thinking it over.
“Then why?” Kasumi asked again.
“That’s exactly why…” Arisa said painfully.
“You’re not making any sense, Arisa!” Kasumi said, full of frustration. She really didn’t understand this at all.
“I know, okay?! It doesn’t make sense to me either!” Arisa was equally frustrated. “That’s why I can’t…”
“Just talk to me, Arisa,” Kasumi pleaded. “We can figure this out.”
“We can’t! I cant. I… I don’t…” she said, and banged her head against the door. At least that was a pain she understood.
“Please…” Kasumi said, and the tone made Arisa feel like her heart was being crushed. “Tell me what I did wrong, and I’ll never do it again.”
“It’s not… that’s not…” Arisa sighed. “You didn’t do anything, Kasumi. It’s me. I’m the problem. I don’t…” deserve you, she thought, then pulled her knees up, and hugged them.
“I don’t understand,” Kasumi said. Arisa didn’t blame her, because she couldn’t honestly say she understood either. “But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in our time together, and with the band, it’s that nothing gets resolved if we don’t talk it out properly!” Kasumi sounded really stubborn and determined. Usually Arisa loved that side of her, but right now it was just making things worse.
“Can you please just… go away,” Arisa said, though she didn’t sound very convincing. “I can’t… I just… you’ll be better off without me.”
“Hey, that’s not true!” Kasumi protested. “I love you, Arisa. I’ll be completely miserable without you.” Arisa could tell Kasumi meant it, which stung even harder. Kasumi looked up at the sky, and got a small idea. “Can you please let me in? I think it’s going to rain soon.”
“No. Just go home,” Arisa said in a sulking tone.
“You know I’m not gonna go that. Please? You don’t want me to catch a cold, do you?” Kasumi said, and Arisa knew. All too well.
“Alright, fine…” she said, and slowly got on her feet. “Just… don’t get too close, and no throwing yourself on me. I mean it.” She unlocked the door, and took a few steps back. When Kasumi opened it, they could both see that the other looked as miserable as they themselves felt. Without a word Arisa turned around, and headed downstairs. Before she followed, Kasumi had a thought to lock the door behind her again. Anything to delay Arisa in case she tried to run away again.
“You can sit there,” Arisa said when Kasumi came down the stairs, pointing to the seat on the other couch furthest away. Kasumi saw Arisa had put her stuffed prize on the table, so she put her own down next to it. She sat down, and looked pleadingly at Arisa, who wasn’t able to meet her gaze.
“Talk to me, Arisa,” she said again.
“Do I have to?” Arisa asked, twirling one of her twin tails around her finger. She already knew the answer though. If she exposed her darkness to Kasumi, surely she would understand why they couldn’t be together.
“Yes,” Kasumi said defiantly. “I’m not leaving until I understand.” Arisa looked at her. She didn’t doubt Kasumi meant it.
“Even if I expressly told you no?” she asked, slightly bitter. “If I absolutely refused, said you make me uncomfortable, and told you to leave… would you still stay? Would you force me?” Kasumi swallowed nervously, and Arisa deeply regretted her words.
“I-I…” Kasumi stammered, and hanged her head in defeat. “No…” she said sadly. “If it’s really that bad, I’ll… I’ll leave.” She actually started to get up.
“No, Kasumi, wait…” Arisa said. Seeing that look on Kasumi’s face was the worst thing yet. What the hell is wrong with me? she had to ask herself. Kasumi stopped moving. “I don’t… I’m sorry, I don’t want that to be my final words to you, I… I didn’t mean it.” She choked back a sob. Kasumi tentatively settled down again.
“What’s wrong, Arisa?” she asked, and Arisa looked at her helplessly.
“I don’t know!” she cried out. “I love you so much, but I keep getting filled with all these ugly emotions I don’t understand, and can’t deal with.” The frustration was pushing her tears out.
“W-what kind of emotions?” Kasumi asked, taken aback by the rawness of Arisa’s outburst.
“I just said I don’t understand!” Arisa snapped, then felt really guilty about it. “I… I didn’t…” She hid her face in her hands to avoid looking at Kasumi. “I… I think I’m jealous.”
“J-jealous? Of who?” Kasumi asked, and drew a deep breath. She still didn’t understand. “Do… do you think I…?” Arisa shook her head.
“No, I’m just… jealous of everyone…” Arisa said sorely. “You haven’t done anything, Kasumi, I just… I keep feeling this selfish urge to have you all to myself… and I feel awful whenever I see you close to anyone else… hugging anyone else…” There. Her dark secret was out. Surely Kasumi would understand now.
“Is that… I can stop doing that,” Kasumi said desperately.
“No…” Arisa said. “That’s not what I…” She lowered her hands down to look at Kasumi again. “That’s who you are, Kasumi. I knew that when I fell in love with you… I can’t be so selfish as to ask you to change that. Don’t you see?” she asked, begging Kasumi to understand. “That’s why we won’t work, I’m… I’m too awful.” Kasumi wasn’t sure how to respond, but hearing Arisa say such things about herself was painful.
“No, I don’t see,” Kasumi said firmly. “You’re not awful. We can… we can work through this.” Arisa looked at her doubtfully. “I may not know much, but I know this wasn’t just going to be… magically easy and okay. Did you think everything would just automatically be great without any effort after you confessed?” Kasumi gave Arisa an annoyed look, and Arisa had to wonder whether maybe she had thought that.
“I… I’m not…” she tried to say something, but couldn’t find the words.
“You confessed to me, Arisa,” Kasumi said. “I don’t even know how much courage that took. And now you’re just going to give up at the first sign of difficulty?”
“B-but it’s… it’s… so much… it’s too much,” Arisa said. She didn’t want to give up, but she had no idea how to fight this. How to deal with this. Kasumi put her hands on the table and leaned forward.
“Then I’ll help!” she said with a sort of desperate confidence. “If you can’t handle it alone, talk to me, and I’ll help you. Please. Don’t just… shut me out.”
“But what if it never goes away!” Arisa said angrily. “I don’t want to keep feeling like this, Kasumi. I hate it. And you don’t deserve having to put up with that.” She tried to keep telling herself it was for the best.
“Arisa…” Kasumi said softly. “I want to help. Somehow.” Maybe she should fall back on what she did best. “Can I come closer?” Arisa hesitated.
“Why?” she asked.
“You know why,” Kasumi said and spread her arms.
“I…” Arisa was torn. She yearned to be held, but she also thought it might just make things even harder. Maybe we’re past the point where that’s possible, she thought. “I’ll come to you…” she said. “But that doesn’t mean we’re okay again.” Kasumi chose to interpret this as progress anyway. Arisa scooted over to the other couch to let Kasumi embrace her. She still smelled nice.
“It’s okay to be a little jealous, you know,” Kasumi told her.
“This isn’t just a little,” Arisa sulked.
“Why do you get that jealous then?” Kasumi asked, unintentionally squeezing Arisa a little tighter.
“I don’t know…” Arisa replied.
“Do you think someone could take me away from you?” Kasumi asked next.
“I don’t…” Arisa was about to say ‘I don’t know’ again, but she tried to think it over instead. That would mean doubting Kasumi’s feelings for her.
“Have I done anything to make you think I’d… I’d pick someone else?” Kasumi asked a little shakily. She thought she hadn’t, but maybe it didn’t look that way to Arisa.
“No,” Arisa said and shook her head. “I’m just terrible and selfish.” She clung onto Kasumi’s clothes.
“You’re not,” Kasumi said. She didn’t know how else to reply to that. “Are you sure there isn’t anything I’ve done?”
“You haven’t,” Arisa insisted. “I’m just… I’m… just too bad. I can’t…” Can’t I get myself to trust her? she had to ask herself.
“You’re not bad, Arisa,” Kasumi said. “I love you.”
“… and I love you,” Arisa said back.
“Then is there anything I can do?” Kasumi asked. “I really don’t understand this.” Arisa frowned.
“I don’t know. I don’t know, Kasumi,” Arisa said, feeling hopeless and helpless.
“You can’t think of anything?” Kasumi tried prodding.
“No,” Arisa grumbled. “You can be really frustrating at times, Kasumi.”
“Sorry,” Kasumi said, resisting the urge to pet Arisa’s hair. That might not be welcome right now.
“And you haven’t even tried to kiss me yet,” Arisa murmured.
“What?” Kasumi’s train of thought came to an abrupt stop. Arisa realised she had just said that out loud.
“Ah! That… that wasn’t…” she stammered, frantically trying to think of a way out of this one.
“You want me to kiss you?” Kasumi asked curiously.
“N-no, I didn’t mean…” Arisa was blushing fiercely.
“Would you feel better if I kissed you?” Kasumi asked. She was desperate to cling onto something.
“No! That’s not what I…” Arisa sighed. “Maybe…” she conceded. Kasumi took her by the shoulders, and looked her in the eyes.
“I’ll kiss you if you want me to,” Kasumi said, clearly determined, and Arisa felt nervous. She didn’t know what kissing was like, it just felt like something they should have done by now.
“This isn’t going to fix everything, Kasumi,” she warned. She doubted a kiss would instantly remove her excessive jealousy.
“But it might help? It could be a start?” Kasumi asked. Arisa thought she both looked and sounded desperate.
“Maybe,” she agreed, and closed her eyes. “Come on, I don’t ha-” Kasumi’s kiss came faster than Arisa had anticipated. It was like she could feel the desperation contained in those soft lips as well. All too quickly it was over. She hadn’t even noticed that Kasumi had pushed her down on the couch in the process.
“Did it help?” Kasumi asked hopefully and nervously.
“Mm… more,” Arisa said. When Kasumi looked confused, she said it again. “More.” Kasumi caught on, and leaned down. The next kiss also felt far too brief. “K-keep going,” Arisa said, breathing heavy already. She wrapped her arms around Kasumi’s neck and pulled her down.
Kasumi’s desperation to fix this met Arisa’s desperation to have Kasumi. She didn’t want Kasumi to stop. This wasn’t going to just magically fix everything, but maybe, hopefully it was a start. Maybe they could figure this out. If nothing else, they were at least feeling a lot warmer.