[Sequel to A Hot (Spring) Evening]
While the option to stay at the inn all day was on the table, they decide to go sight-seeing instead. They have the whole day open after all.
After getting breakfast, they go to visit a local shrine first. Aoba really wants to wish for good luck in reconciling with her mother. Hifumi also wishes for things to go well for Aoba with her family. And in a similar vein for things to go well when she breaks the ‘news’ to her own.
They stop by the collection of charms for sale on their way out. Aoba isn’t normally a particularly superstitious person, but seeing if there’s anything that fits her current situation couldn’t hurt.
[Sequel to: Heading to the Inn]
Getting into the warm water is bliss. It’s absolutely pitch black now, and while the area around the outdoor bath is pretty well lit, they still decide to go for the indoor one. It’s not as big, but at least no one else is here right now. It’s not really prime time for tourists.
They can both feel aches they were barely aware of starting to melt away. Aoba enters after Hifumi, so Hifumi can get a good look at her as she walks in. Aoba sits down next to her, and sort of melts into the water. Her hand searches for and finds Hifumi’s, though not before ‘accidentally’ brushing against Hifumi’s bottom, eliciting a slight squeak.
[Sequel to Spending the Night]
They are planning to leave right after work today, and Hifumi has noticed that Aoba has seemed a little down all day. Though she can’t tell if it’s the ‘I wasn’t able to talk to them’ kind of down, or the ‘I talked to them’ kind. Maybe best to not bring that up until they’re on the train.
Work is a bit of a situation itself. It’s not like they’ve exactly been trying to hide that they’re dating. Hajime and Yun have probably realised. Just like they’re all sure that Toyama-san and Yagami-san have been together for at least as long as Hifumi has worked here. But Aoba and Hifumi haven’t brought it up, either. They’re not really sure how to, unless they get asked first. Or unless they have some big announcement…
[Part 1 of Not A Game, based on/sequel to Night at the Office]
Hifumi unlocks the door when they reach her place, and they both head inside, making sure to lock behind them.
“Sojiro, I’m home,” Hifumi says before taking off her shoes.
I can’t wait to get out of this suit, Aoba thinks. She has become quite the frequent visitor to Hifumi’s place in the past couple of months. She even has some stuff of her own here permanently. Officially moving in together would be the next logical step, but…
She lines up her shoes neatly alongside Hifumi’s and smiles.
“Do you want anything to eat before we go to bed?” Hifumi asks. She is loosening her collar and undoing the top button while heading into the kitchen. Aoba takes off her jacket and places it on a coat hanger.
Hifumi is working overtime tonight. Getting these designs modelled now will make sure she has free time this weekend. Which will be really nice considering some plans she wants to make.
A private message pops, and she clicks on it: “Hey, Hifumi-senpai. How is the work going?” It’s from Aoba, at the desk behind her. Hifumi smiles, and types a reply.
“I’m mostly done, though I feel like I am starting to see double.” She hits send, and looks back at her progress. It’s really not that much left. If she pushes herself a bit now, she might finish within the hour.
Another message pops. “It’s just us left in the office, you know.” There’s a winky-face at the end. Hifumi feels a blush creeping into her cheeks.
“What are you saying?” Hifumi types quickly and hits send. But instead of a text reply, she soon gets arms covered in purple suit-jacket sleeves draping over her shoulders.
[Sequel to: Fearful Reunion]
AN: As I didn’t feel the “only one person’s POV” format would work for this part, and switching back and forth a lot with the — markers might be too distracting, I decided to go for a more traditional “show a bit of both” approach here. I hope you’re not too disappointed in me.
“H-hi Ruby,” Yoshiko said nervously. Ruby briefly thought about how this was one of the few times she had seen Yoshiko in casual clothes. It was typically either the school uniform, the practice clothes, an idol outfit, or one of her fancy, stylish outfits that Ruby adored so much… no, this wasn’t the time to think about that!
“Yoha-Yoshiko-ch-san,” Ruby said. She wasn’t sure how she wanted to address Yoshiko right now. Ruby still felt hurt, and a bit afraid. But there was also anger bubbling underneath, that made her want to hurt Yoshiko back. To make her understand how Ruby had felt.
Just seeing Yoshiko standing there, sheepish and uncomfortable, made Ruby feel an urge to hit Yoshiko where it would hurt. She was perhaps more scared of how she was feeling than she was of Yoshiko.
[Sequel to: Fallen Angel Hunt]
Kanan didn’t have the full story. She only had Dia’s take on it, plus a few words from Hanamaru. And Dia was livid.
Which Kanan could understand. Dia was very protective of Ruby, and Kanan would have probably felt similarly if she had a younger sister.
And she agreed that Ruby and Yoshiko needed to talk this through. Ruby wasn’t doing well, and clearly neither was Yoshiko. Though the latter might be in part due to how Dia was laying into her.
Yoshiko hadn’t said much. Maybe Dia couldn’t pick up on it, but Kanan could clearly see the girl was feeling guilty and awful. What little she had said made it just seem like a misunderstanding gone horribly wrong, though Dia wouldn’t hear it.
Kanan knew she had to intervene, or they weren’t getting anywhere. It had already been 10 minutes they’d just been standing here, and people were looking at them.
[Sequel to: A Good Friend]
Dia was conflicted. She didn’t like the idea that her little sister was in love at all. Ideally that wasn’t supposed to happen until Ruby was at least 30.
She knew that was hypocritical, considering her own feelings towards Kanan and Mari, but this was her sweet little sister she was talking about. She was too innocent for these things!
Yet Hanamaru had told her all about it when Ruby had fallen asleep again. In truth Dia had had some suspicions. What else could wound a young girl so deeply but love? Dia had read the stories. She just hadn’t wanted to face the possibility of Ruby loving someone… that way. And Yoshiko of all people!
Dia was furious at Yoshiko. Worse than Ruby falling in love in the first place, was the fact that Yoshiko had broken her heart.
[Sequel to Cracked Gem]
Ruby hadn’t come to school today, and Hanamaru was concerned.
What Dia had told her seemed really bad, so now Hanamaru was waiting for school to be over so she could go see her.
However that was not the only thing bothering Hanamaru right now. Yoshiko was acting strange. Stranger than usual. Suspicious, almost.
Thinking back, she had been a little strange all day. Hanamaru had just written that off as fairly standard for Yoshiko though. She always had weird stuff on her mind. But ever since Dia stopped by, Yoshiko had gotten even stranger.
Ruby wasn’t coming out of her room, and Dia was worried.
When Ruby hadn’t shown up for practice yesterday, Dia had gone home afterwards prepared to give her sister an earful. Only to find her sobbing in her room.
Ruby was a delicate soul, and easily upset, but Dia had never seen anything like this.
She had held her little sister for a while, but Ruby had refused to tell her anything about what had happened. She had just clung to Dia and cried until she fell asleep from exhaustion.
And now Ruby was refusing to come out of her room. She had sounded outright furious when Dia had tried to force her to come down for breakfast and to go to school. It wasn’t the first time Dia’d had a plush or two thrown at her, but there was something so raw about the anger Ruby had displayed.