Day on the Town
Sunday, July 25;
Sunday had come, and with it the group went out for a Summer shopping spree.
"Over here everyone!" Suzuka, who had been waiting at the mall entrance with Miki, called
The Group that just arrived included; Keiko, Yuki, Chloe, Saito, Ryo, Hiroki, Michiru, and Saki. A party of ten total.
"If I had known this many girls were coming, I wouldn't have agreed to this." Saito whined "I thought it was going to be just me and Keiko-chan."
"Stop whining." said Yuki "You said you'd do this to make up for the 'Pregnancy and Miscarriage Incident'."
"So, after today, none of us wanna hear another word about it." said Keiko
"But... my wallet will be empty." said Saito
"Don't worry, we'll pay for everything ourselves." said Chloe
"Then what's Onii-chan here for?" Michiru asked
"Someone's gotta carry our bags." said Keiko, which Suzuka and Miki laughed at.
"That's also why we invited Hiroki." said Ryo "Since Saito-nii can't carry everything himself."
"The only reason I came along is because you invited Saki-chan." said Hiroki irritably "Otherwise, I would've stayed home."
"Now, now." said Saki "I need a few things myself too."
"Boys are so simple." said Miki
Almost all of them being athletes, the first place they stopped was a Sportswear Store.
"Hey, Kei-chan, Chloe-chan. Check out these soccer shoes." said Yuki
"Nice." said Keiko, picking up a pair that caught her eye "My old ones have gotten worn. And I need new studs too."
"Same here." said Suzuka
"My own have gotten small." said Ryo
"Typical." Saito muttered to himself "We walk in, and the first thing the girls go for are the shoes."
"Where'd Hiroki, Saki and Michiru get to?" Chloe asked
"They're over in the swimwear section." said Saito
Indeed, the three of them were looking at competition swimwear.
"How 'bout this one?" Michiru asked, handing Saki a sleek back one with sleeves and leggings
"That's a wetsuit. It's for diving or surfing, not competitive swimming." Saki replied "This sort of material would wear too quickly too, and develop a drag. Plus black's not my color, and I don't like sleeves and leggings either."
"What about this?" Hiroki asked holding up a blue racerback
"Yes! I prefer that type and color. But... this one's too small for me." said Saki
"It's because you're so well-endowed." Michiru whispered to herself
Back at the soccer section;
"I didn't peg your sister as one to appreciate any sort of sports." said Suzuka as she looked through wristbands
"That changed." said Saito "She recently joined the swim team too."
"Get out." said Yuki
"It's true." said Ryo
"That explains the faint chlorine smell." said Keiko
After purchasing sports goods, the party then went for clothes.
"Finally. A chance to get some new skirts." said Miki
"Why do you need new ones?" Yuki asked
"I don't know if it's the washer's fault, but I've found tears in more than half of them." Miki explained
"Where do they sell stuff for twelve-year-olds?" Ryo asked
"There is no 'stuff for twelve-year-olds'." said said Keiko "You're at the age when you need to start looking at sizes, not age sections."
"Girls and clothes." said Hiroki
"This'll take a while." said Saito
After clothes, which took an hour as the girls kept trying things on, they found themselves in a swimsuit store.
"Why does Keiko-chan need a swimsuit, when she can't even swim?" Michiru asked
"Shut up." said Keiko, spotting a pair of Tiger lily patterned bandeaus and taking them off the rack and closing the curtain
"Why did you take two of the same?" Ryo asked
"C'mere you." Keiko replied, grabbing Ryo's wrist and pulling her in
"Hey! What're you doing?"
"Just trying to bond with my little sister." Keiko replied as she started stripping Ryo
"Stop it! I can undress myself!"
Two minutes later
"Ta-da!" said Keiko as she pulled the curtain open "Waddaya think?"
"You both look great." said Suzuka, who had just changed into a ruby-red bikini
"It really looks like you're wearing flowers." said Yuki
"This is embarrassing." said Ryo, with a slightly red face
"Why you so modest? We match. See?" said Keiko, and Ryo smiled for the first time today
"I see my sisters in a whole new light." said Hiroki
"Ditto." said Saito
"Hiroki-kun. How do I look?" Saki asked, appearing out from another curtain wearing a blue string bikini
Hiroki, having never seen Saki in a bikini before, was unable to say anything and just turned red as a beet.
"That's some girl you got." said Saito
"Sh-shut up!" Hiroki replied
"Ryo Aizawa?" said a male voice from the store entrance
"Hi-Hi-Hidehiko-kun?!" Ryo exclaimed when she saw the boy. She then closed the curtains on herself and Keiko
"Who're you? Saito asked
"He's Hidehiko Kido." said Hiroki "A classmate of ours, with a big crush on Ryo. He's asked her out seven times already. Ryo said 'no' every time."
"And Takasugi-san? And Hiroki Aizawa-kun? What're you doing here?" Hidehiko asked
"I'm here with my sisters, my girlfriend, and our friends." Hiroki explained "And no, you can't join us."
"You heard Hiroki-kun. Now shoo." said Yuki, and Hidehiko didn't need telling twice
"So he's asked you out seven times?" Keiko asked Ryo
"Please don't start." said Ryo, and Keiko held up a peace sign
After the girls purchased their new swimwear, the group went for lunch.
"Finally." said Saito, putting down the bags as they sat down for lunch "Carrying bags for eight girls is exhausting."
"Quit complaining." said Yuki "You reap what you sow."
"In other words, you should've kept your big mouth shut." said Suzuka
"Sorry you have to do this too, Hiroki-kun." said Saki as she wiped some sweat off Hiroki's forehead, causing Hiroki to blush again
"Those two make such a good couple." Chloe whispered to Keiko as they got out their bentos "Do you know if they've kissed yet?"
"They're twelve!" Keiko whispered back
"Age doesn't matter." Miki said "My cousin had her first kiss when she was just ten."
"I was eleven." said Michiru "It was my first boyfriend. But the relationship didn't even last a month."
"Gee, good for you." Yuki said dully. She's never had a boyfriend in her life.
"I haven't had mine yet." said Ryo "But, given what I've been through, that might be a good thing."
"You mean Hamura didn't kiss you when he raped you? Thank God, Great Buddha." Keiko thought, before turning to Saito with the lunch she made "Saito. I made this. Say 'ah'."
"Wait! Saito-kun, you shouldn't...." Yuki tried to say, but Saito wasn't listening. Saito ate the food Keiko fed him, but he, almost immediately, needed water to wash it down due to the bad taste. "I tried to warn you."
"Was it that bad?" Keiko asked
"What was (cough) that?" Saito inquired
"I tried to make tamagoyaki."
"Get it through your head." said Yuki
"You can't cook." Yuki, Hiroki and Ryo said in unison
"How goes your search for an apartment, you two?" Suzuka asked
"No luck." said Saito "It'd be a lot easier if someone wasn't so picky." Keiko puffed her cheeks, and stuck out her tongue, at Saito "She keeps saying we need a place that's not only cheap, but easy to commute to school."
"She's right, but that's just like her." said Yuki
"Don't tease me!" said Keiko
"Adults think about such complicated things." Saki said to Hiroki
"They're not adults yet." Hiroki replied
"Hey, Suzuka." Miki whispered to her best friend
"We've got company." Miki mimed for Suzuka to look in the mirror of her miniature make-up case. Suzuka did, and noticed Hidehiko trying to hide behind a nearby pillar "That Kido boy is following us. He really does has a thing for Ryo-chan."
After lunch, the group went into a jewelry store, something the boys were initially reluctant to do.
"They say jewelry is a girl's best friend." said Chloe
"But for soccer athletes, they can get in the way." said Keiko
"Like you should talk. You never take off the necklace and ring your wearing." said Yuki
Just then, something Keiko's eye. It was a necklace with a marble-like soccer ball pendant exactly like hers. Except it was silver instead of gold.
"Oh, Keiko." Suzuka called "I found a few things that might look good on you." She held up a pair of what looked like earrings
"Oh no. I'm not getting my ears peirced." Keiko replied
"Who said it's for your ears." Suzuka inquired, placing the ring on her breast
"I'm not getting a peircing period."
"Calm down. I was just kidding. But still, get over here."
Keiko did as asked. A second later, Suzuka started placing something on both Keiko's ears
"I just said I...."
"They're not peircings." Suzuka assured. A minute later, she finished "There. Now look in the mirror." Keiko did as asked and saw that Suzuka had put magnetic earrings with amethysts on Keiko's ears. "Amethysts really do suit you best."
"I love them. I'll take them."
"Wonderful." said the clerk
"And something else too please."
After they left the store;
"In the end, Keiko-chan's the only one who bought anything from there." said Michiru
"What was the other thing you bought, Kei-nee?" Ryo asked
"It's a secret." Keiko replied
After that, they stopped in a lingerie store, the only store the boys were forced to stay outside, then explored a shoe store.
"Every girl's best friend." said Miki
"What is it with girls and shoes?" Hiroki asked
"No clue." said Saito
"Hey, Ryo, come here." said Keiko "What size are you again?"
"Size 7 as I recall." said Ryo
"Then try these." Keiko took off Ryo's sneakers and fitted a pair of kitten heels on her "Your first heels." Ryo tried to stand up and walk. She lost balance almost immediately but Keiko held her up "You'll get used to them."
After buying new shoes the group left the store, Ryo wearing her very first pair of heels.
Exhausted and fulfilled, the group then left the mall. The entire shopping day had lasted about five hours.
"All these bags." said Saito
"Don't you fell sorry for your boyfriend?" Chloe asked Keiko
"A bit." Keiko replied
"That Kido boy seems to have stopped following us." Miki whispered to Suzuka
"I noticed." Suzuka replied
"Ah man, it's almost three!" said Keiko
"What? Did you suddenly remember an appointment?" Yuki asked
"You could call it that. In fact, you all can come along it you want."
"What's this about?" Michiru asked
"Do ya like kids?"
Ever since Keiko got back together with Saito, she, from time to time, had been playing with a bunch of local kids in a small park, and had promised to play a mini-game with them today.
"Keiko-onee-chan's here!" several of the kids exclaimed when Keiko and the group had shown up.
"Heeey! Sorry I'm late, kids." Keiko replied
"Who're they, Keiko-nee?" one of the kids asked
"My friends, an a couple of my siblings." Keiko introduced "My brother, Hiroki. His girlfriend, Saki. My sister, Ryo. My boyfriend, Saito. His sister, Michiru. My best friend, Yuki. Chloe, who lives with my family. And Suzuka and Miki, my seniors on my school team."
After everyone was introduced, the game started. Saki, Saito and Michiru acted as referees since they didn't play soccer. Substitutions were made frequently so everyone got a chance to play. After three hours of game time, the game ended in an unexpected tie.
"That was great!" said Yuki after they said goodbye to the kids "It's been a long time since I played with kids."
"Indeed." said Suzuka "Playing in a non-competitive matter feels better than the tournaments."
"Speaking of which." said Keiko "Those last few games we played; not fun."
"Ditto." said Miki "I didn't enjoy myself at all."
"Same here." said Yuki
"I sensed that for a while." said Saito "It was like you girls forgot to have fun while playing."
"That one game at Nationals wasn't easy to watch either." said Ryo
"Yeah." said Hiroki "It was really painful to watch you guys go through all that looking like you were suffering instead of enjoying."
"I didn't enjoy watching either." said Michiru
"That enough, don't rub it in anymore." said Saki
"Merci, Saki [Thank you, Saki]" said Chloe
"So, it's only six, where do we go from here?" Keiko asked
"Karaoke anyone?" Yuki suggested
"I'm game." said Miki
"Excuse me." said Hidehiko, who just turned up behind them
"Hidehiko-kun?" said Ryo
"Um.... You said I couldn't join you earlier so.... Here." Hidehiko held out a bag for Ryo and she took it
"Cat products?" Ryo inquired when she looked in the bag
"I heard you had a cat, so I thought he might like these."
"You really shouldn't have...."
"Be nice." Keiko whispered in Ryo's ear
"No problem. So... See ya 'round." Hidehiko ran off at that
"Wait! Hidehiko-kun! I just don't get that boy at all." said Ryo
"I can't really do anything, but try to give those two a 'push', will ya?" Keiko whispered to Hiroki, Saki and Michiru
"Is that Aizawa?" said a voice behind them. The group turned and saw two girls.
"Sakuya? Aine?" said Keiko
"You know them?" Suzuka asked
"They were with me and Yuki in Elementary school, but they went to different middle schools after graduating." Keiko explained
"Haven't seen you in years." said Sakuya
"Been hearing your name a lot though." said Aine "Too bad about Nationals, but congrats on joining Nadeshiko."
Just then, the pair of them spotted Yuki, and their friendly smiles turned into frowns
"I see you're still hanging out with that Muslim." said Sakuya spitefully
"Muslim? Is she talking about Yuki-chan?" Miki asked Suzuka
"Islam's most oftenly associated with Arabs." Suzuka replied
"It's rude to talk about someone like that based on their background." said Chloe "Yuki's not Muslim either."
"She might as well be." said Sakuya "I'm amazed that trash has the nerve to stay in Japan."
"They should've deported her along with her criminal father." said Aine
"Deported? What're you talking about?" Saito asked
"Nothing! Not another word, either of you." said Keiko
"Don't pretend you don't know, Aizawa." said Sakuya "And since the rest of you don't know, I'll enlighten you. Nonomiya's father was a war criminal. A former loyalist to Bashar al-Assad, and the Syrian Ba'ath Party, during the Syrian Civil War. After Assad fell, he fled the country and ended up in Japan, and eventually had his little girl."
"When he was found out, he was deported back to Syria to stand trial for his war crimes." said Aine "Rumor was that he had led the massacre of peaceful protestors, and Kurdish civilians. The revelation was so shocking, her poor mother hung herself in shame."
"There ya have it. Continue hanging around this little Arab girl, and things are bound to rub off on you." said Sakuya "Honestly, she should just...."
Unable to stand anymore of it, Keiko snapped and slapped both girls so hard it left marks.
"Get out of here. Now." Keiko told them angrily with the worst face and voice she had ever made in her life. Neither of them needed to be told twice "Yuki?" Keiko said to her best friend worriedly, who looked like she was about to cry
"I'm going home." Yuki said in a small voice. She took her bags from Saito and went off in the other direction
"Yuki, wait!" said Keiko taking off after Yuki "Sorry everyone. I can't leave Yuki alone. Please go on without me. And Saito, Chloe, make sure Hiroki and Ryo are home before nine."
"Keiko." Suzuka called after her "What happened here doesn't change anything. Yuki is the person we know. Not who her father was." everyone nodded in agreement, and Keiko gave them a respectful bow before going after Yuki.
Once Keiko caught up with her, she took Yuki's bags from her and carried them for her. Neither of them said a word until they arrived at Yuki's house, where she lived with her aunt and her uncle, her mother's brother, who didn't exactly like her.
"I'm back." Yuki said when they walked in the house
"Welcome back, Yuki-chan." said Yuki's aunt "And, Keiko-chan, welcome."
"Sorry for the intrusion, but I'm staying the night." said Keiko
"No problem, you're always welcome here."
"We won't need dinner." said Yuki as they made their way upstairs
On their way they encountered Yuki's uncle, who just coldly ignored them both.
In the bath later;
"Yuki, I know what happened earlier brought back some bad memories, but you gotta cheer up." said Keiko as she washed Yuki's back for her
"I was seven when my father was made publicly known as a former Assad Loyalist. Almost everyone turned their backs on me." Yuki said at last. "And three days after he was deported, I came home from a terrible day at school, and found mother hanging from the ceiling. Aunt Yuina's been nice to me, but Uncle Keitaro refuses to accept me as part of the family."
"Not everyone left you! I don't care about all that. Your dad is your dad, you are you. You're my best friend, and I love you."
"I know. And I was grateful you, Kakeru-san, Nana-san, Mito-san, Hiroki-kun, Ryo-chan, and Koichi-kun, for accepting me without question. You're the only family I have. You even gave me my new name when I changed it."
"You were born in December, when the snow season begins, so I named you 'Yuki'." Keiko said proudly as she poured water down Yuki's back. Both of them stood up "Just so you know... Suzuka and the others...."
"I heard what Suzuka-senpai said." said Yuki, turning to face Keiko "I'm grateful." Yuki looked like she was gonna cry again and hugged Keiko for support
"Why don't we see if Suzuka can get off tomorrow and all go to the beach together? We can show off our new swimsuits to the boys." Yuki nodded in agreement
Later in Yuki's room;
"Is sharing my bed okay?" Yuki asked
"That's fine." Keiko replied cheerfully
There was a knock on the door.
"Come in." said Yuki, and her aunt walked in "Yes, Aunt Yuina?"
"This came for you today, Yuki-chan." said Yuina, handing Yuki a letter "I can't read the lettering, but I knew it was for you right away. I withheld it from your uncle because I knew he would destroy it."
Yuki looked at the lettering on the back and gasped. It was in Arabic.
"It's Arabic. It says 'Aziza Sharafi', my birth name. And this handwriting...." Yuki opened the letter and read a couple lines "It's from father. He's still alive."
Yuina left the room at that.
"I can't read a word of that." said Keiko
"I can tell you what it says."
Yuki read the letter;
"Dear Aziza, though you might not go by that name anymore."
"How are you? I hope this letter finds you well. Sorry I never wrote to you until now, I only just got out of prison, for good behavior I might add. I'm also sorry for the way you found out about my past. I never meant to deceive your mother, but I did love her, and was absolutely devastated to hear if her death. And I love you, my precious daughter. I also managed to secure clearance to leave Syria and come back to Japan, the country I made my home when I met your mother. I don't know yet when I will be able to come, but you and I will be reunited. I can't wait to see how much you've grown, I might not recognize you at first glance. I've enclosed my phone number and e-mail so we can communicate more frequently, and I look forward to your first message. I've also enclosed a picture of me as well. I love you, Aziza, and you and I will see each other again soon."
"P.S.That rumor of massacring innocent civilians was completely false. I served in the government, never the armed forces."
"Father's coming home." said Yuki when she finished reading it. She seemed to be on the brink of tears again "I can see him again."
"He's pretty handsome in this picture too." said Keiko "This letter is only a week old. And there's his contact info at the bottom."
"I thought I had lost him forever. But after all this time, I'll have him back."
"Good for you." said Keiko, hugging her best friend again