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Thank You - JUJU Lyrics Translation

窓から射し込む

たなびく一筋の

月光が部屋に

灯(ひ)をともす

A single, lingering

Beam of moonlight

Shines in through the window

And sets the room aglow

あなたの言葉に

永遠を感じた

そばにいるだけで 

こんなに幸せ

In your words

I felt eternity

Who would've thought I'd find such happiness

By simply being by your side

夜空に絵を描く

幾千の星より

数えきれぬほどの

愛ある日々の中で

Even more numerous than the thousands of stars

That paint the night sky

Are these days together

Filled with immeasurable love

これからもあなたの

思い出を描いてゆきたい

出逢えたことにいま

ありがとう

For now and forever

I want to continue to help form your memories

From the moment we met until now

Thank you

振り返りはしない 

悲しい思い出は

あなたに恋して

忘れたみたい

I won’t look back

It’s like I’ve forgotten

The bad memories

By falling in love with you

やさし過ぎるところが

時々私を

不安にさせている

こんなに好きなのに

Even though I love you this much

Sometimes

I worry that you're being

Far too kind to me

激しく燃えるような 

愛ではないけれど

静かに流れゆく 

愛が胸で響く

While this love

May not burn like a fierce blaze

It flows quietly

And reverberates in the heart

いつまでも二人で 

思い出を描いてゆきたい

好きになってくれて

ありがとう

Forever, I want the two of us

to keep creating memories together

Thank you

For loving me

いつも、いつまでも 

出会った日のままの想い

忘れずに

二人いられるのなら

As long as we don't forget

the way we felt that day we met

the two of us can be together

always and forever

夜空に絵を描く

幾千の星より

数えきれぬほどの 

愛ある日々の中で

Even more numerous than the thousands of stars

that paint the night sky

are these days together

filled with immeasurable love

これからもあなたと

思い出を描いてゆきたい

あなたに伝えたい

ありがとう

For now and forever

I want to keep creating memories with you

I want to tell you

thank you

本当に本当に

愛してる

Really, truly

I love you

Thank You - JUJU


http://ありがとう | 中山 [pixiv] http://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=42795928


Unfortunately I can't get the embedding thing to work properly, but if you click the link above, it'll take you to a really sweet AruAni Japanese Doujin.

Song: Youtube (live in concert) Non-Youtube (PV)

Since I’m awful with photo editing, I’m going to just throw this up here separately.  If anyone who’s good at photo editing would like to collaborate, I’d love to talk to you! =D

Translation below.  Each paragraph is an individual page and each line of the paragraph corresponds to a line on the page.

"Thank You" Song: JUJU (Nakayama)

A single, lingering
beam of moonlight
shines in through the window
and sets the room aglow

In your words

I felt eternity

Who would’ve thought I’d find such happiness
by simply being by your side

Even more numerous than the thousands of stars
that paint the night sky

are these days together
filled with immeasurable love

For now and forever

I want to continue to help form your memories

From the moment we met until now

thank you

I won’t look back

It’s like I’ve forgotten

the bad memories
by falling in love with you

Even though I love you this much
sometimes

I worry that you’re being
far too kind to me

While this love
may not burn like a fierce blaze

it flows quietly
and reverberates in the heart

Forever, I want the two of us
to keep creating
memories together

Thank you
for loving me

As long as
we don’t forget
the way we felt that day
we met

the two of us can be together
always and forever

Even more numerous than the thousands of stars
that paint the night sky

are these days together

filled with
immeasurable love

For now
and forever
I want to keep creating
memories with you

I want to tell you

thank you

Really

truly

I love you

Thank you very much d(^o^)b

Late: Chapter 7

late2

What's this? Another chapter? And not like five months later? I'm in shock! *laughs* Well, actually, I was very pleasantly surprised to receive notifications of reviews, story alerts, and favorites in my inbox not long after I put out chapter 6, so I had some motivation to write in a timely manner again. Thank you very much! Like I'd said before, a lot of interest in this fandom has started to die out, so it's really incredibly encouraging to see that there are people still interested! I hope you'll continue to enjoy the rest of the story.

======================================================================

It was eleven when Kahoko finally managed to get around to the topic of Fujimoto-san. She would have preferred they have the conversation earlier, but Yuji had not wanted to go to bed at all. So here they were: frazzled, at least mildly irritated, and completely and utterly worn out. Not the best conditions for this conversation, but she had wanted to get to the bottom of things right then, so she'd insisted he stay for some tea.

She sighed and snuck a glance at her companion who sipped his drink while seemingly lost in his own thoughts. Her lips thinned slightly. Hmph, jealous—why would she be jealous? It was just weird to know that Hihara-senpai had been close to another girl before, that's all. If she could get through this talk unscathed, it'd prove once and for all that she was imagining things. The corners of her lips turned up in a very unconvincing smile. It would be fun to catch up on old gossip, right? Right.

"So…you have an ex?" she asked suddenly, managing to infuse a cheerful chirp in her voice that sounded fake even to her.

"Huh?" Kazuki answered with a distracted air about him.

Smile plastered on her face, she prodded, "The woman…your ex-girlfriend."

Snapping out of it, he blushed uncomfortably, "Ah…uh, yeah…we, umm…we met at a café. She was working there."

"Oh?"

He flinched a bit; how was it possible for a smiling face to be so reminiscent of a glaring scowl? "Yeah…it, umm…it was years ago."

"For how long?"

"Huh?"

"How long were you two seeing each other, Hihara-senpai?"

The words came out slowly and overly enunciated with a sharpness to them he wondered if he was imagining. After all, she was still smiling brightly. "A couple of years."

"Two years," she echoed. "That's a decent amount of time." Her grin became significantly more toothy. "No wedding bells for you two?"

He was starting to get really weirded out. He had never seen her like this. "She broke things off." He looked away, feeling a bit sad.

"Oh…." She felt bad. "Did she say why?"

Now he firmly kept his eyes away from hers. "She said it seemed like my heart wasn't really in it."

"Why would she say that?" Kahoko frowned. Hihara-senpai had always been the type to feel deeply. He was rarely ever of two minds about something. Well, that wasn't totally true; if he was ever of two minds about something, he was extremely in two minds about it until he muddled his way into whole-heartedly following whatever he had decided.

"Dunno exactly," he mumbled. A lie could only be mumbled.

There was a pregnant pause before Kahoko viciously teased, "So she must have been your first kiss, huh?"

His face felt hot. He suspected it resembled a cooked lobster about now. "Y-yes."

"Of course," despite the smile she wore, she seemed to be leering at him. "So what's the story?"

"Why are you asking me about this?" he whined uncomfortably.

"Because I'm a girl, and girls like these kinds of details. Come on, Hihara-senpai." There was that inexplicably frightening grin again. "I want to know."

Maybe it was the combination of being tired and her weird behavior throwing him totally off-balance. Maybe it was because he actually believed a little bit that talking about this meant that they were becoming closer. Whatever the reason was exactly, he caved. And nothing was ever the same again.

"Well…like I told you…we, umm, met at a café where she worked."

"Mmmhmm…." Exactly how she managed to keep her tone light was unknown.

"So…uh, one day, she, umm, lost an earring."

Kahoko raised her eyebrows.

"The earrings had been a gift from her mother who'd passed away the previous year, so she was really freaking out."

"Oh…" her eyes softened in sympathy.

"Everyone was hunting around for it after closing, and after a while, it looked like we weren't going to find it. But then I thought to search the trash out back, and there it was." He blushed furiously at the memory. "She was so relieved, she threw her arms around me and kissed me really hard on the mouth." He looked away as he twiddled his thumbs. "And, uh, well, after that, I asked her out." It had been because of the hair. He wasn't proud of that.

"So you were her hero," Kahoko stated sourly.

He scratched his head in embarrassment. "Yeah, I guess I was."

"So how come I'm hearing all this juiciness only now?"

"Umm…well…we weren't exactly…talking…when I dated her."

"Oh, of course." She jerked a nod, her back ramrod straight. "Silly me," she hissed icily.

Now he was starting to get a little defensive. "What?"

"I thought we were friends again," Kahoko replied stiffly. "It seems odd that you would have kept something like an ex-girlfriend a secret."

"Like I said, that was years ago. It doesn't have anything to do with now."

"Minus that we just ran into her."

"So? She's married, pregnant, and in love with her husband. It's not like we're going to get back together."

The words flew out before she could stop them. "And if she had been free, would you have tried to get back together?"

He frowned at her with eyes that were part irritated and part confused. "No, I wouldn't have, but why the sudden interest in my love life or lack thereof?"

She looked away, but her voice shook a little with the ridiculous, overwhelming sense of relief she tried to viciously stamp out and deny. "I just want to know if there are any secrets I should know about."

"Oh, like you never kept secrets from me," he scoffed.

Her eyes flashed momentarily with fear before indignation overwhelmed it. "And what is that supposed to mean?"

"You know exactly what I meant, Kaho-chan."

"Oh, so now I'm a mind-reader and a bad friend too, is that it?"

"I didn't say you were a bad friend."

"Yes, you did."

"When?"

"You implied it just now."

"I would have thought the secret you kept was obvious! I mean, seriously! You dated Takeshi-san for two years, and the first I hear of him is when I come across you two just as you've gotten engaged!"

"I-I told you." She did her best to hide her panic. "I must have."

"You didn't," he flatly refuted. "And you know it too. You were never a good liar."

"Well…I'm sorry then. It must've slipped my mind," she lied.

"More lies, Kaho-chan?" He looked at her angrily. At some point they had both stood. "What part of 'You were never a good liar' made you think you were good at it?"

"Alright," she admitted, sitting and looking away so she could hide her discomfort. "So I didn't tell you about him. Is it such a big deal?"

"Not to you," he replied bitterly.

"And what's that supposed to mean?" Her temper flared again.

"It means that you obviously didn't trust me enough to tell me that you were in a relationship with someone!" he shouted.

"Who made you my keeper?!" she accused, flying again to her feet. "I wasn't aware I had to give you a list of every person I had ever been on a date with!"

"Well who made you mine?" he snapped back. "Rina-san is in the past, the fairly long ago past, I might add. It didn't stop you from prying just now."

"That's different!"

"How so?"

"You…." How was it different indeed? "You were fawning all over her and ignoring Yuji!"

His mouth dropped open. "What?! No, I wasn't!"

"Are you going to tell me you weren't distracted after talking to her?" she challenged.

No, he couldn't deny that, but it wasn't like he had been distracted because he'd been thinking about Rina-san. "That's not fair."

"Well, there are lots of things in life that aren't fair," she quipped, perhaps more harshly than she should have because she wanted to make him mad. If they could focus on being mad, then she wouldn't go back to feeling jealous or relieved or any of those ridiculous things she shouldn't be feeling.

Looking away, she muttered, "And why do you care anyway? You were on another continent. It's not like you would have ever had a chance to meet him."

"Maybe so, but at least I wouldn't have gotten my heart ripped out and stomped on."

"What are you talking about?" she asked sharply.

He had said too much. "Nothing," he muttered as he turned to leave. She wasn't supposed to hear that.

"No, it's not nothing, Hihara-senpai," she grabbed his wrist and turned a determined gaze on him.

He blew out a breath. Screw it. Just screw it all. He could kick himself tomorrow when he realized he had utterly blown any chance he could have ever had with her.

"I was in love with you."

Her fingers fell nerveless to her sides. "What?" she asked dumbly. His words were like a slap to the face.

"I. Loved. You," he repeated, pinning her with an angry gaze. Throwing all caution to the wind, he plowed on, "You know what? I'm still in love with you! I've been in love with you since we were in high school! And just when I was going to finally tell you how I felt, I walked in to see you getting engaged!"

Her face became deathly pale. Since high school. He had been in love with her since high school. All that time, and he had never said anything. He had loved her all that time? She felt sick. Suddenly everything was starting to make horrible sense. His strange behavior for the rest of the trip, his odd actions and words at the wedding, the way he dropped off the face of the Earth after Yuji was born…. Even things from back in college were coming to light. She needed to sit down. She just needed to sit down. There was too much to process. She was hyperventilating. The room was spinning. Her vision was clouding. Oh no, oh no. She was going to throw up; she just knew it!

As if reading her mind, he quickly sat her down on the couch and handed her a trashcan, rubbing calming circles on her back and mumbling soothing nonsense as she retched the contents of her stomach.

When she was done, she couldn't even look at him. She was so embarrassed she wanted to die. When she felt him leave the couch, she closed her eyes in shame. Stupid, stupid, stupid. She'd been so stupid. How could she not have known? And even better, when he did get around to telling her, how did she respond? She was ashamed of herself. She was supposed to be a mature adult now. Calm, strong, collected—that was the kind of adult, the kind of mother, she needed to be for Yuji. Where had she gone in her moment of need?

"Are you alright…?"

She straightened a bit in surprise and cautiously looked at him. There wasn't a trace of anger on his face, as if all the anger in him had flown right out the window. All that remained now was tenderness and concern. She absently noted that he had brought a cup of water and a basin with a small washcloth as he knelt beside her. Taking the washcloth he began to wipe off her cheeks while mumbling something about her face being dirty. She felt a bit like a sick child with her mother, but contrary to feeling insulted, she closed her eyes and relaxed under his ministrations.

"I'm sorry," she heard him whisper. When she opened her eyes again, she could see how saddened he was as he wiped off some strands of hair. "It shouldn't have been like that. It should have been sweet and romantic, not an angry, spiteful declaration." He set down the washcloth. "It wasn't supposed to hurt you."

Looking into her eyes, he asked, "Does your stomach still feel queasy?" When she shook her head, he wordlessly handed her the cup and she rinsed her mouth out. As he took the dishes back to the kitchen, she slowly followed him, though for the life of her she didn't know why. What was she going to say to him? He had just confessed, and now he was apologizing, but was he apologizing for the confession, or just how he'd done it? Should she respond? Brush it off? No, that wouldn't be right. It sounded more like he was apologizing for the way he had confessed than for the confession itself, so it wasn't like she could ignore it. Did she even want to ignore it?

She sighed quietly as he did the dishes. She had given up trying to insist that he was a guest and shouldn't do them ages ago. As he placed the dishes in the dish rack, she looked up.

For a long moment, they simply stood there regarding each other, he leaning back against the sink and she against the opposite wall. "Have you really loved me since high school, Hihara-senpai?" she whispered.

He looked away, his eyes downcast. "Since before the third round of the competition."

"That long…and you never said anything?" Her eyes filled a bit. "Why?"

"I don't know," he confessed. "I must have had a reason before, but it's gotten lost along the way." He sighed. "It just got harder and harder to tell you as time went by." He shrugged. "Didn't want to rock the boat."

"But…" she looked so confused, "at the airport? Why didn't you say anything then?" She frowned. "It was the perfect chance for you to try and stop me, to confess your feelings for me."

He flushed. "I wanted to. You have no idea how hard I had to bite my tongue to keep from telling you how I felt."

"Then…why didn't you?"

The pain of that moment was fully reflected in his eyes. "How could I? You looked so happy when you were talking to me that morning about you and Takeshi-san. I couldn't take advantage of your pre-wedding jitters. You were happy with him, and I refused to do anything that could jeopardize your happiness." He sighed. "I lost to him. I accepted that, even if it was hard to swallow. I was too slow, and he had won your heart while I dragged my feet." He smiled ruefully as he caught her eye. "So, I told you that if you loved him, then it couldn't be wrong to marry him. You loved him; I wasn't going to stand in the way of that."

A heavy silence fell as she digested everything. He was much more selfless than she had ever given him credit for. How much must it have hurt to tell the woman you loved to marry another man if it made her happy? It suddenly occurred to her that really the only selfish thing he had done in his life where she was concerned was when he dropped off the map when Yuji was born. "I don't deserve him," she acknowledged to herself. But he deserved the truth.

"Actually, I…" she hesitated before confessing, "I wasn't in love with him."

===================================================================

Okay, so the ex-girlfriend wasn't as big of a deal as I probably made her out to be at first. XD As I said, I want to keep this thing fairly short. But she did generate some needed conflict, so it's not like there's no drama.

And hey, we got a confession scene out of it, though it's certainly not what one would probably consider a typical Kazuki Hihara confession. (-_-;) *sigh* Why did I not manage to make it romantic? (_ _") Though I suppose the taking care of her afterward was sweet…. Bah, no point in lamenting what's already done.

I'm almost afraid all this fighting is making my characters not so in character, but I guess that can't be super helped. I needed things to come to a head quickly, and this seemed the most believable(?) way to do it. I figured if they were tired and emotionally unstable enough, something would probably have to give. Haha, this was my one real time to make Yuji a bit of a brat (off-screen) since, quite frankly, there's no child in the world who can always be good. What did you guys think? Somewhat plausible? Totally out there? I don't know how to write a fight? *laughs*

'Til next time! (^_^)v

Late: Chapter 6

late2

Hey! Look! I'm not completely and totally dead! Sorry this took so long to post. I just haven't really been in a writing mood lately. *sigh* This section of the website is really starting to get kind of deserted. =( Buuut, KOEI is going to be making a new anime, probably to come out sometime early next year, so maybe it'll breathe some new life into the minds of fanfiction writers. (^_^) Unfortunately it'll be following the characters in Kiniro no Corda 3, but hey, beggars can't be choosers.

========================================================================


"Ah!" With a mighty gust of wind, Kahoko's umbrella was flipped inside out with a loud crack that told her that it would never work again. Huddling under it for whatever cover it could provide her, she quickly plowed through the rain toward the others, managing to stay pretty dry for the most part. "Looks like I made it somehow or another," she smiled sheepishly at the boys as she ruefully looked at her umbrella. She took a quick glance at their surroundings. "Unfortunately, it doesn't look like there's a convenience store around where I can buy a new one," she sighed in disappointment.

Kazuki looked briefly out at the dark clouds. "And it's really coming down." He smiled at the Takashinas. "Well," he chirped in a cheerful voice, hoping to raise their spirits, "I guess it's the perfect day for udon then, right?"

"Yeah! I want Tempura Udon," Yuji exclaimed enthusiastically as Kahoko just nodded with a sad smile. She was still a bit concerned about her lack of umbrella.

"Don't worry, Kaho-chan," Kazuki gave her an encouraging smile. "The forecast said it was supposed to rain on-and-off today, so maybe when we come out, the weather will be nicer." His eyes shone warmly. "Think positive."

A self-conscious hint of rose crept into her cheeks before giving way to a shy smile. He always knew just how to make her feel better. "You're right, Hihara-senpai. We have to deal with things as they come, right?"

"Exactly," he grinned. "Hey! Yuji! Wait for us!" he laughed as he followed the boy in through the doors.

After she thanked the staff for disposing of her broken umbrella, her eyes found Kazuki's mop of green as he and Yuji chatted happily over the menu. She bit her lip in confusion thinking over their little interaction by the door. Ever since that time on the stairs a couple months ago, being around him had started to make her feel a little funny. It was disorienting how the same person could simultaneously make her both relaxed and nervous.

The former wasn't a bad thing, but there was still something about it that made her uneasy, which was perhaps why the latter so often reared its ugly head. Becoming more comfortable around each other and enjoying time spent together was a natural progression of the rebuilding and strengthening of their friendship. But for some reason, the more and more time they spent together, the more she started to feel like she was teetering on the edge of something where if she moved one way or the other, there was no turning back. It was daunting, confusing, and, quite frankly, downright unwelcome.

She clutched her purse a bit more tightly as she neared them. Her eyes saddened as she thought of an airport and were gripped in helplessness as her memories moved to a hospital room.

She laboriously shoved those things out of her mind. "No." She shook her head a bit to clear her mind more. "No." This was Hihara-senpai, her good friend from high school whom she had reconnected with a little over half a year ago. That was all there was to it. Right?

Her heart warmed when Yuji cheerfully greeted her, eager to show her the large array of food on the menu. She allowed herself one glance at the attractive man across the table before focusing on her son. She had Yuji. What more could she want or need?

She immediately squashed the beginnings of the answer that rose up in her mind. "Nothing," she told herself firmly. Absolutely nothing.

After eating, the two adults slid outside to wait while Yuji went to the restroom.

"Would you like my umbrella?" Kazuki offered as he closed the door behind him. "I've got a hood, so I can just walk in the rain."

"Oh, no, I couldn't do that to you, senpai."

"Well," he scratched his head nervously, "would…umm, would you like t-to share then…?"

She hesitated. That was something couples did. Would accepting his offer send the wrong signal? Was this a sign that he thought of her as more than a friend? Would he think she was interested if she agreed? Was she thinking way too much about this?

At her hesitance, he glanced down at the green umbrella she was holding. "If…if you're not comfortable with sharing, then I can take Yuji's umbrella and you two can share mine."

"No, no, we can share, senpai," she shook her head. Yuji's umbrella was green with frogeyes sticking out of the top and a large pink mouth on the front. She couldn't make him use that! She was being stupid. Hihara-senpai was just being nice, like he always was. She was making a mountain out of nothing.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes," she insisted. She chuckled, "Can you imagine how silly a grown man like you would look with that frog umbrella?"

"Hey, at least it would match my hair," he quipped as he joined in with her. It really would look ridiculous. Taking the umbrella in question, he opened it and walked out into the rain. Turning back with a wink, he struck a silly pose. "Classic, don't you think?" His heart leapt as she laughed even harder. She'd been kind of serious and pensive during lunch. He was glad to see her happy again.

At this moment, the door opened to reveal Yuji. Catching sight of Kazuki, he put his hands on his hips. "That's my umbrella. You already have one." He giggled and beamed up at his mother. "Kazuki-san looks really silly with my umbrella, doesn't he Mama?"

Kazuki cut off her reply as he came back under the awning and handed the frog to Yuji. "Well, if you two are quite done laughing at me," he then offered his clear umbrella to Kahoko with a smile, "shall we hit the road?"

Since the restaurant had been relatively isolated, they walked for a while. Kahoko smiled as she glanced at Hihara-senpai out of the corner of her eye. Like a gentleman, he held the umbrella over her as she walked beside him, carrying the bags of crumbs for the birds they had planned to feed. As she turned her head to thank him again for the shelter, she noticed his other shoulder had gotten quite wet. Biting her lip, she shifted closer and placed her hand on his, tilting the umbrella so it covered them both. When his steps faltered, she blushed and brushed the water off his raincoat. "You were getting wet," she mumbled, unable to look him in the eye.

"Oh…" he murmured. His heart threatened to beat out of his chest as he glanced between her bowed head and their hands. "Thanks. I hadn't even noticed."

"There's the store!" Yuji's voice cut through the moment, making them both jump a little.

Kazuki smiled a little nervously at her, but managed to keep his tone light. "Well then, shall we get you a new umbrella?"

"Yes," she bobbed her head quickly and brushed some hair behind her ear in that adorable way she had about her. "Let's." She lowered her head as they hurried along to make sure he didn't see her scolding herself. "What is wrong with you?!"

Of course, as soon as they walked out of the store, it stopped raining. She looked down at her shiny, spanking-new umbrella a little ruefully. "Figures."

Kazuki shrugged sympathetically, but pointed out. "Well, at least you have it for later." Taking Yuji's hand he asked, "Ready to go feed some birdies?"

"You bet!"

As they walked along, they helped Yuji leap over cracks and puddles on the ground.

"One, two, three, jump!" Kazuki called out as he and Kahoko lifted Yuji over a rather large puddle.

When Yuji landed delightedly on the ground, he happily yelled, "Again! Again!"

Kahoko grinned and nodded at Kazuki. "One, two, three, jump!"

They did this about ten more times before a new voice interrupted their laughter.

"Hihara-san…?"

Kazuki's eyes widened a little before he turned. "Rina-san…."

The titian-haired woman's face broke into a large smile. "I thought it was you!" She ran her inquisitive brown eyes over Kahoko and Yuji who by this point had turned around as well. "Is this your family?"

Both Kahoko and Kazuki blushed furiously as they practically fell over themselves to explain that they weren't together.

"Oh…I see," she murmured. There was a funny look in her eyes, as if the last piece of a puzzle had fallen into place making everything clear. With a slight bow, she introduced herself. "Hello, I'm Rina Fujimoto, Hihara-san's ex-girlfriend."

"Ex-girlfriend?" For some reason, Kahoko felt a strange coldness douse her. Deeply ingrained politeness was the only thing that enabled her mouth to move. "I'm Kahoko Takashina, and this is my son Yuji. Hihara-senpai and I went to high school and college together." If her smile was a little over-bright and strained, no one particularly noticed.

"Fujimoto?" Kazuki looked surprised, but happily so. "You got married? When did that happen?"

"Last year," she grinned and flashed her ring at him. "A childhood friend of mine."

"Congratulations! That's wonderful!" he beamed. "So other than that, how have you been Rina-san? It's been so long!"

"About four years now, I suppose."

"Really? That long?" He scratched his head in embarrassment. "Man, I suck at keeping in touch. I'm sorry."

"Don't be," she smiled. "Oh, and I'm pregnant! Youhei-san and I just found out last week."

"Really?!" He grinned and gave her a hug. "Wow! That's awesome! I'm so happy for you! You two must be so excited!"

Kahoko stiffened as she watched them. Just who did he think he was hugging a married woman? And in public no less! She was pregnant with another man's child for crying out loud! Didn't he have any sense of propriety? She was his ex-girlfriend, so why exactly was he being so familiar with her? This was hardly a fitting example for Yuji.

"I…I'm going to take Yuji to feed the ducks while you two catch up." She sent the woman a thin smile. "It was nice to meet you Fujimoto-san."

"Likewise," the redhead nodded in response. "It was nice to meet you Yuji-kun."

"Nice to meet you too Fujimoto-san," he smiled with a little wave, wincing slightly as his mother firmly tugged him away from the pair.

"She doesn't like me," Rina murmured after mother and son had gone out of earshot.

"What? Kaho-chan?" Kazuki looked confused. "Why would you think that?"

She stifled a laugh. He always could make her smile with his silly, oblivious little ways. That was one of the things that had drawn her to him. "I wonder…" she trailed off, giving him a loaded look.

"Why are you looking at me like that?"

She just continued to stare. Eventually he'd get it. It just might take a ton of bricks or two.

His mouth dropped open. "Wait, because of me?!" His eyes shone in bewilderment. "Why? What did I do?"

Rina smiled. "You did nothing wrong," she assured him. "Maybe she's just feeling a little…territorial…."

"What?" He looked confused. "You mean like a dog?" As soon as the words left his mouth, he clapped his hands over it. Way to go, idiot! Compare the woman you love to a dog!

Rina laughed in amused delight. He really was a goof. Her face suddenly went serious. "She's the one, isn't she?"

For a full minute, they gazed at each other, communicating through eyes and body language alone before finally, he looked away sadly. "Yes."

Her smile was genuine. "I thought so. Hihara-san?" He looked up to see her turning to leave. "Hang in there. I think you're pretty close." An enigmatic smile played around her lips as she glanced over at two figures by the pond. "I'll see you around!" she waved.

He just waved dumbly in response, his mind blank. Territorial? Pretty close? He remembered that moment under the umbrella and his heart beat a little faster. Could…could it be possible…?

Kahoko glanced back a few times as she held out the bag for Yuji. Were they still talking? She glared a little more when she saw the woman leave. Good riddance. But why was Hihara-senpai not moving? What had they been talking about? She suddenly wished the pond had been a bit closer to where they had been.

In a flash of perspective, she suddenly wondered why she was getting so worked up about this. Then, it hit her like a bucket of ice water to the face.

She was jealous.

It was all she could do to keep her feet. "Oh no. Oh no. Oh no, no, no, no, no. This can't be happening," she panicked. She was mistaken. She had to be mistaken. But that sick feeling in her heart told her otherwise.

========================================================================

It was fun writing about them at the beginning of this chapter. It was like they were a real family. I think Kahoko just kind of gets caught up in the moment and forgets to remember she's supposed to be resisting Kazuki's charms. XD

Back when we were kids, my brothers and I had umbrellas like Yuji's. Between the three of us we had a black cat, a green frog, and a yellow duck, I think.

Tentsubasa's Japanese Corner:

Udon are thick flour noodles. As far as I'm aware, udon is always served hot and generally in the form of a noodle soup. With the exception of Curry Udon, where the soup is kind of like watered-down Japanese curry sauce, and Yakiudon, where the noodles are pan-friend and basically have no sauce other than what's stuck to it, the soup is broth-based and usually fairly lightly flavored. Tempura Udon is udon topped with—you guessed it—tempura, vegetables or other things (generally shrimp) that are covered in a batter and deep-fried to a crispy, golden finish. It's probably my favorite udon dish.

Other common kinds are Tanuki Udon, which is udon with tempura flakes (nothing in it, just the golden, fried batter crumbled up into small pieces); Kitsune Udon, which is topped with thin, sweet, deep fried tofu; and Kake Udon, which is simply topped with thinly sliced onion and kamaboko (white fish cake with a pink rim). Considering that tanuki means raccoon, and kitsune means fox, I have no idea why they are called that, but they taste good.

The most common kind of umbrella you'll see running around Japan is a clear, plastic vinyl with a white handle. When I asked my Japanese friends why, they said it was because it was the cheapest. XD I think the fact that it's clear is helpful for when you have to tilt the umbrella so it blocks your line of vision, but if they say it's because it's the cheapest, then I guess it's because it's the cheapest. *laughs*

Fathers and Daughters: Cinderella

I'm starting to think I should just avoid putting due dates on my chapters/stories altogether as I just seem to keep making a liar out of myself. I'm slowly becoming a person of no integrity. (T_T)

I'm so sorry for the very late update. A combination of traveling, visiting with friends who will be moving to the other side of the country soon, work, and writer's block is to blame, but mostly it's that the Million People of Corda game is a complete and total life-eater. They have had…four different limited-time events almost back-to-back, and of course they feature all-new story lines that are related to current events in Japan and will only be here for the specific two-week window they've carved out. (;-_-)

The most recent one was for Marine Day, a Japanese national holiday that's observed the third Monday in July (July 21 this year). I was thinking of passing on this one after almost killing myself for the Midsummer Night's Dream event (where all the guys switched bodies for a day) since I wouldn't really be able to play the first two days because of traveling, but when they said that Kahoko would be going on a date to the seaside with her guy of choice, I just couldn't say no. And I'm so glad I didn't! Kazuki's route was to die for! The falls, the stares, the hearts pounding out of control, sweet words in the sunset *happy sigh*—I absolutely loved it! And Yousuke's route was really sweet too! A combo of the two would've been the absolute dreamiest seaside date ever! (^_^)v

Okay, now on a more story-related note, the song this time is Steven Curtis Chapman's Cinderella. There are so many beautiful videos of fathers and daughters dancing to this song.  Like this one with a father and his three daughters aged 6, 12, and 20.

And again at 8, 14, and 20 (oldest daughter couldn't come to the show)

I seriously just cried and cried watching/listening to them.

Here's the official Youtube video:


Here's a Youtube alternative: http://www.vevo.com/watch/steven-curtis-chapman/cinderella/US82Y0900011.
==============================================================

Kazuki snuck a look at his youngest child clad in a light pink T-shirt and hot pink shorts as she blithely swayed and tripped around his study in a strange pattern that was only known to her.

Kasumi had always been a little different. In a family of musicians, she was the dancer. His mother-in-law thought it might be the way the Hihara athleticism had decided to manifest itself. Well, however it came to be, unlike her siblings, she'd never been fascinated with the instruments that produced music, nor, in some sense, had she even really been interested in music for its own sake. Music was simply a setting for dancing.

She spins and she sways to whatever song plays
Without a care in the world

He tapped his pencil on the desk as he grimly looked at the blank paper in front of him. If he couldn't raise more money for the music program, he'd be out of a job!

And I'm sitting here wearing the weight of the world on my shoulders

He closed his eyes and clutched his hair. With three children, he couldn't afford to be unemployed! Kaho-chan could pick up more solo work, but he knew with every new thing she took on, between all the different practices, she'd get that much less time with family, and only getting to see the kids a few times a week would kill her.

It's been a long day, and there's still work to do

He mussed up his hair in agitation. He had to think of some awesome fundraisers. Why weren't the ideas flowing? Usually coming up with fun ways to help people interact with music was a cinch.

She's pulling at me saying, "Dad I need you!"

"Dance with me, Daddy!" Kasumi called gaily from where she was doing an energetic prancing whirl in the corner.

"I'm sorry, honey, but Daddy's busy." He gave her a regretful smile. "Why don't you play with your siblings?"

"But [t]here's a ball at the castle, and I've been invited," she insisted as she ran over to tug on him. "And I need to practice my dancin'."

"Kasumi…now isn't a good time."

"But no one else can be Prince Charming," she wheedled with those big golden eyes of hers that she knew he could never resist.

His heart melted into a puddle.

"Oh, please, Daddy, please?" she begged.

With a sigh and a smile, he let her pull him to his feet. "Alright."

"Yay!" she screamed as she thundered down the hall hollering for her siblings. He laughed when he heard his wife scold her, telling her to use her indoor voice. His heart already felt lighter.

By the time he made it out to the living room, Kanae and Kazuya were in place at the violin and piano, respectively, with Kasumi beaming happily with her arms stretched out to him. And with a tender smile, he took her hands and they began a lively skipping dance.

So I will dance with Cinderella

With a large grin, he spun and swung her in large circles, sending her green hair flying as she laughed in delight. Once she came back down, she jumped back into his arms and wrapped hers around his neck. Beaming at her, he cocked her on his hip and rocked and swayed in time with the music.

While she is here in my arms

A strange look crossed his face. Had she always been this heavy?

"Daddy, what's wrong?"

He shook his head and smiled affectionately at her.

'Cause I know something the prince never knew

"What could be wrong? I'm dancing with the prettiest girl at the ball."

Her smile could have lit up a third-world nation.

Oh, I will dance with Cinderella

He put her down and twirled her under his arm. And let her pull him around the room as she ran in circles.

With a laugh, he lifted her up high like a plane and spun around. Then, pulling her into a hug as the song finished, he rubbed noses with her. "And now, it is time for your bath."

I don't want to miss even one song

"What?!" She tried to wiggle away. "But I need to go to the ball!"

"No, you need to go to the tub," he countered playfully as he hauled his squirming child to the bathroom. "And you two have to wash up tonight too," he called back to his older children, "so you'd better get that homework done!"

His grin stretched even wider as he heard them groan with their mother laughing in the background.

'Cause all too soon, the clock will strike midnight

The house fell quiet as all the children slept in their beds. Once again at his desk, Kazuki wrote furiously, ideas streaming out of him in a torrent. He beamed when a pair of hands covered his eyes. "Hey."

"Hey yourself," his wife giggled.

He moved her hands off his eyes and pulled her down for a light kiss.

With a curious eye, Kahoko skimmed over some of his ideas and sketches. "These look good." She tapped one. "I think the school board will really like this." She wrapped her arms around his neck. "Let me know if there's anything you need help with."

"Thanks," he grinned. Then, he went quiet.

"What is it?" Kahoko murmured as she snuggled up behind him.

"It just hit me again when we were dancing." He sighed. "Kasumi's in elementary school now."

And she'll be gone

~*~

Following family tradition, Kasumi attended Seiso Academy, but in their General Studies Department unlike her siblings. Kazuki had to admit was a bit of a shock to see his youngest daughter looking like a carbon copy of her mother (minus her hair color and style: short because it was easier to keep out of her face) when she put on her uniform for the first time her second year. It was pure coincidence that she was also a red scarf year, but still….

She was taking advanced dance classes at the community center, and when she graduated from Seiso, she intended to study dance in Tokyo. He was glad she'd still be close by, especially with Kanae studying music in Vienna and Kazuya leaving for a couple of years to further his trumpet studies in Germany. With all his children growing up and leaving, it was nice to know that his baby girl was still local. But he wished she were a little less popular with the boys!

With her father's friendly personality tempered with her mother's calmer nature, Kasumi was never at a loss for friends. Well, none of his children ever had been, but he would've preferred if his baby didn't attract quite so many of the male variety! It was worse than with her mother!

"Nuh-uh!" He shook his head with a pout. "No way."

"Why not?" Kasumi protested.

"We already had this conversation when you were ten." He crossed his arms over his chest. "No boys until you're at least forty."

She rolled her eyes. "Oh, Daddy, be serious. Even you and Mom didn't wait that long. It's not even a real date. It's a music competition year, so they're holding a dance. He just wants a dance partner."

"Hah!" he barked as he pointed at her. "That's just what he wants you to think! Teenage boys are devious, I tell you!"

"So you were devious?" Kahoko broke in with a raised eyebrow.

"Wh-wh-what?! N-n-n-n-n-no!" he sputtered. "Of-of course not!"

"Well then, what's the problem?"

"B-b-b-b-b-but-!"

She says he's a nice guy, and I'd be impressed

"You know Etou-kun and his family," Kasumi added brightly. "He's a really nice guy."

"E-E-E-Etou?!" He looked ready to faint.

"Why don't you show your father your dress, Kasumi," Kahoko blithely suggested, temporarily ignoring her husband's meltdown. After about twenty-five years of marriage, you just learn to roll with some things.

"Y-you-you already have a-a dress?!" he wailed.

"Of course," Kasumi laughed from the stairs. She winked. "The dance is next week."

As soon as she disappeared into her room, Kazuki whirled on his wife. "No! She cannot go to this dance. I absolutely forbid it!"

Kahoko just smiled. "You let Kanae go."

"That was different! She was a competitor; she had to go! And, and she didn't, she didn't have a…a-a…a date." He spat out the word like it was poison.

"So…are you saying that all dates are bad?" she asked a bit wistfully.

His eyes widened in horror. "No!" He pulled her close to him. "Of course not." He earnestly searched her eyes. "It's just that-" he stopped up short when he caught the twinkle of humor in her eyes. Pouting, he petulantly declared, "This and that are totally different."

He heard a rustle of fabric behind him, signaling that his rebellious offspring had returned. He turned with an annoyed look in his eyes, and felt his mouth go slack.

She wants to know if I approve of the dress

"Well…" Kasumi fidgeted with the white flowing skirt, "how do I look?"

His eyes moved up and down, taking her in. With the cute little puffed sleeves and the flower broach on the deep maroon band, she somehow managed to look like a young woman and the sweet little girl of days past at exactly the same time. He gulped with slightly glassy eyes. "You look beautiful, sweetie."

Her smile radiated like the sun. "Really?"

He nodded. "Really."

She says, "Dad, the prom is just one week away"

She looked up at him hopefully. "You know, it's been awhile since I've done this kind of dancing…." She smiled winningly at him. "Will you dance with me now? Otherwise," she grinned, "I'm going to miss out on dancing with the best-looking guy I know."

"And I need to practice my dancin'"

His face pinkened in pleasure as her mother joked behind him, "Keep your hands off my man, you little home wrecker."

Both females laughed for a bit before Kasumi turned and held her hands out to him. "Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

He chuckled when he saw that his wife had already readied her violin. Sometimes, he swore the woman was psychic. So he gave into the inevitable and bowed with a flourish as Kasumi giggled and curtsied.

So I will dance with Cinderella

The two fell easily into a waltz, going from the box, to the turning box, into a traveling step, and an underarm turn.

While she is here in my arms

"You're pretty good at this," she complimented. "I'd figured you'd forgotten. The last time we did the waltz was—what?—a couple years ago?"

"I had a good teacher," he responded with a smile.

'Cause I know something the prince never knew

His heart warmed when he noticed she was wearing the locket she had gotten for her tenth birthday. Then, his eyes saddened a bit when he realized anew that that had been almost seven years ago.

"Dad?"

He shook his head with a small smile, blinking back the moisture, and turned the conversation to happier topics.

Oh, oh, oh, oh, I will dance with Cinderella

The two danced and swayed into the evening, laughing and talking, and eventually swapping out Kahoko with Kazuya when he came home from afternoon classes.

"Mom, make them stop!" he complained from the refrigerator during a water break as she cut up some vegetables for sukiyaki. "I almost can't feel my lips anymore."

With an amused smile, she poked her head out at the pair and stated, "Dinner will be ready in ten minutes." Her eyes twinkled. "At that time, this house will be declared a no dancing zone."

I don't want to miss even one song

Kazuki grinned at Kasumi. "Better make it count then." He swept her into a quick spin around the room that made her shout in surprised laughter.

'Cause all too soon, the clock will strike midnight

The day of the dance came, and Kazuki had to admit he was a bit thrown by just how much of a mix Tomoya Etou was of his parents. Considering that the boy had offered to bring his little girl home a whole hour earlier than her usual curfew, he was starting to admit that maybe he'd misjudged him (proving that Tomoya truly was as wise as his name).

Tears stung annoyingly at his eyes as he snapped pictures of them before they headed off. As he stared at the playback screen, his chest felt tight. When had she grown up?

And she'll be gone

~*~

The family of five snapped a picture together as they surrounded Kasumi holding her high school diploma. And a couple years later, a photograph of twenty-year-old Kasumi posing sweetly in an exquisite orange and white kimono with her coming-of-age ceremony certificate joined it in the family photo album. Playbills for her various lead performances also littered the pages of passing time.

She will be gone

~*~

Despite being under the watchful eye of her somewhat overprotective father, Kasumi was not…gifted with the copious amounts of denseness Kanae had inherited, so when Kasumi started dating in college, Kahoko wasn't anywhere near as floored as her husband. Nor was she that surprised when Hisashi Tsuchiura came to them a little before Kasumi's twenty-fifth birthday asking for permission to marry her.

Kazuki sat stiffly and stared at the clock. Tonight was the night. What would she say? When would happen when she got home? Where was she?! Surely she should've been home by now!

"Calm down," Kahoko laughed beside him where she was skimming a magazine. "You're making me nervous just watching you."

"Sorry, it's just-"

They heard the lock on the door click. And the moment he saw her face, he knew.

Well, she came home today with a ring on her hand

Throwing her arms around his neck, she squealed out her excitement and joy. "Oh, Daddy, look!" She flashed him her ring. "I'm engaged! Oh, Daddy!" She hugged him again and rushed over to her mother to tell her all about it.

He just turned and watched the two happy faces chatter in excitement. He was happy, but there was an aching hole in him that made him feel numb and detached from the scene beside him. It was so odd. He'd have thought having one daughter married already would've made this easier, but it was completely different.

Just glowing and telling us all they had planned

"Dad? Daddy? Hellooo? Anybody home?" Kasumi laughed as she waved her hand in front of his face.

He snapped out of his daze. "Huh? Sorry," he shook his head, "you were saying something?"

She grinned. "Hisashi-san said that since he knows how much I love to dance, if I'd like, we could do the traditional dances that they do in American weddings at the reception. You know, like the first dance, father-daughter, and mother-son."

"Uh huh." He nodded mechanically only half-processing the words.

"…talked to his mother and she's already agreed…."

"Right."

"…I know six months isn't a lot of time-"

That snapped him out of it. "Six months?! The ceremony's in six months?!"

She says, "Dad, the wedding's still six months away"

She raised her eyebrows. "Have you heard anything I've been saying?"

He looked slightly guilty. "Umm…sort of?"

She and her mother shared and amused glance. They really should've known better.

"The whole family is going to New York because Tsuchiura-san is performing at the Lincoln Center. I've always wanted to go to New York to see Broadway, watch a show by the American Ballet Theatre, and stuff like that, so we were thinking we'd tag along and then split off and have the rest of our honeymoon."

He jerked a mechanical nod. It made sense.

"But I need to practice my dancin'"

"I know you don't really like to dance in public, but would you do a father-daughter dance with me at the reception?" She bit her lip. "Six months isn't a lot of time to prepare, but if you'd like, we could choreograph something or just wing it, whatever would make you more comfortable." Her sunlit eyes shone with hope. "Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

A twinge of bitter sweetness flickered in his eyes before he slowly stepped forward and gave a princely bow. Holding out his hand and looking up, he asked, "May I have this dance?"

"Oh thank you, Daddy!" Her face glowed as she curtsied and fell into his arms in a waltz hold.

So I will dance with Cinderella

Tears stung in his eyes as he and his daughter swayed together in a slow dance before all the wedding guests six months later.

While she is here in my arms

She had opted for a white reception dress not unlike the dress she'd worn for the Seiso ball with its simple, but graceful, flowing skirt. Her wedding band caught the light as they pulled back for a minute and he smiled tenderly. His little girl all grown up.

'Cause I know something the prince never knew

He gave her a little spin that elicited a small giggle, and suddenly, he was back in the living room swinging her around and around in the air with the rest of the family playing accompaniment with large smiles. And with a random waltz step, fourteen-year-old Kasumi was demonstrating for him the rise and fall of the dance after her first class at the community center.

Oh, oh, oh, oh, I will dance with Cinderella

A few glistening trails made their way down his face before he could stop them. She gave him a sweet smile and brushed the moisture from his cheeks.

I don't want to miss even one song

Blinking hard, he pulled her in for a hug and they rocked together with glassy eyes as they both fought not to cry. They both knew this would be the last time.

'Cause all too soon, the clock will strike midnight

"How're you taking it?" Takeo asked his son-in-law quietly afterward.

Kazuki smiled sadly at his father-in-law. They both knew that he was happy and proud, but…"I don't know which is harder," he sighed. "Kanae was my first, but Kasumi is the baby."

"It goes fast, doesn't it?"

He didn't answer for a while. Just as Takeo was about to leave, Kazuki suddenly turned to him. "Thank you."

He looked surprised. "For what?"

And she'll

Kazuki looked over at his children as they stood with their mother. Though her fiery locks had streaks of silver running through it, her eyes still sparkled with the life he'd always admired. "For letting her go so she could be with me."

The older man cracked a smile. "Go to them. They'll be leaving tomorrow."

Be

Tears swam in his amber eyes as they waved good-bye to all their children from the security gate.

Gone

Putting an arm around his wife, they watched the planes leave from the window. They smiled softly at each other. A whole new phase of life was opening up before them. With a tender look, he kissed her temple, and they walked back to the car hand-in-hand.
==============================================================

And this is the end. I have to admit, I think out of the three, this story is my favorite. It just flowed out of me more easily than the others for some reason, and I think things blended nicely for the most part.

My mom really liked the idea of this song as the father-daughter because she thought it would be good to dance to. I also thought it would be nice, but in the end, my husband and I ended up doing a joint father-daughter and mother-son dance because my mother-in-law really doesn't like to dance. She even tried to get out of it the day of! Isn't that funny? XD

Here's a picture of the dress Kasumi wore for the dance: http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx230/GoldheartJessy/Decorated images/girlintree.jpg.

Tentsubasa's Japanese Corner:

In Japan, wedding ceremonies are really more of a formality than anything because the couple is married once they both sign a marriage application and city hall sends them a certificate thingy. Then if they want to, they go and have their ceremony to formalize the deal to family (and friends).

So in Japanese weddings, they do costume changes. The bride will change from her ceremony clothes to reception clothes to traveling clothes. There might be one more set of clothes that I'm forgetting, but I know there are at least those three.

They also don't usually dance, but they do have entertainment for everyone to watch during the reception, so I figured I'd fudge it a little and have them do the traditional dances as part of the entertainment.

Sorry again for the late update, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Fathers and Daughters: Butterfly Kisses

This time we have "Butterfly Kisses" by Bob Carlisle. There will be times when things are spoken just as part of the song and and at other times as part of the main dialogue. Hopefully it will be obvious which is which, but if the dialogue is on the same line as other non-bold text, then it's part of the main dialogue. =D

Song lyrics are in bold, and thoughts will be in italics within quotes.

Youtube:

Youtube Alternative: http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=92BCMCNU

The disclaimer from the first chapter still holds.
==========================================
Kazuki abruptly stopped reading when he realized his audience had fallen asleep somewhere in the middle of "The Legend of the Moon Princess." With a small smile, he quietly stowed the book and dimmed the lights. The only sound to be heard in the room was the peaceful breathing evidenced by the subtle rise and fall of the blankets on the bed. Suddenly, a corner of the comforter violently flew into the air before flopping back in a crumpled heap as the bed's small occupant gave a restless toss. With an indulgent chuckle, Kazuki moved over and tucked his daughter back under the covers.

There're two things I know for sure

With a small sigh and a smile, six-year-old Kanae snuggled further into the land of sleep. She was in that kick-off-the-covers phase of life. He didn't really understand it since she'd promptly get cold and start groping for them in her sleep. Why make yourself cold?

She was sent here from heaven
And she's daddy's little girl

She turned her head, and her mouth fell slightly open releasing a light snore. His face contorted as he smothered a laugh. She really was a chip off the old block. That was almost a perfect rendition of his own snoring which his brother had oh-so-kindly recorded and played for Kaho-chan not too long after they'd gotten engaged. The memory would have annoyed him if he hadn't been in the presence of perfection.

As I drop to my knees by her bed at night

He silently knelt down beside her bed and ran a hand affectionately through her hair, tucking a stray strand of cherry behind her ear. She must be tired. She hadn't even made it through one story. Well, they had had a pretty full day with the festival and all.

She talks to Jesus, and I close my eyes

His heart warmed as he watched his oldest sleep. Feeling nostalgic, he rested an elbow on the bed and marveled at her. Six-years-old and starting first grade on Monday, he couldn't believe it. She mumbled something in her sleep and his eyes softened.

And I thank God for all of the joy in my life

He had to be the happiest and luckiest guy on Earth. He was married to the love of his life, worked a job he loved, and had two beautiful children with one more on the way. Life had its ups and downs, of course, but right now, seeing how his little angel had grown up from that tiny little baby, a quiet feeling of contentment settled over him.

"Hey," he whispered softly, "guess what? You're going to be a big sister again soon, but this time you'll get a sister. How about that, huh? You'll continue to be a good big sister and help Mommy take care of the little ones, right?"

A small smile was his response.

He nodded. "Good." He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. "Good night, Kanae."

Oh, but most of all…

"Mmm…Daddy…?"

Whoops! Hiding his grimace, he leaned back and settled himself on the floor. "Hey, aren't you supposed to be sleeping?" he murmured softly.

For butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer

"Mmmhmm…But you still need your good night kiss," she mumbled, the words slurred by sleep.

With a smile, he placed his head next to the pillow and let her lips touch his nose while her lashes fluttered. "G'night, Daddy. Love you," she yawned and turned over.

His heart swelled. "I love you too, Kanae," he whispered as he untangled the remnants of a daisy crown from some gnarled crimson strands. Just before he closed the door to her room, he murmured, "Sweet dreams."

Sticking little white flowers all up in her hair

He found his wife in the study on the computer the next morning. "Good morning, beautiful." He placed his hands gently on her shoulders as she looked over the pictures they'd taken.

She tipped her head back and grinned up at him with a tired smile. "Good morning, yourself." The baby had been restless this morning and didn't seem to care that her mother wanted to catch a few more winks of sleep.

"They were really tired out last night. Kanae went down like that." He snapped his fingers.

"Kazuya slept like a rock too. Maybe we should do this sort of thing more often," she joked. The adults had been just as tuckered out as the kids. Have you ever tried to keep track of a six-year-old and a three-year-old when you're surrounded by floods of people in an over stimulating environment? Not exactly a walk in the park.

He grinned with a twinkle in his eye and placed a hand on her swollen stomach. "Gotta wait for one more to join the party."

She rolled her eyes. "Goody, even more chaos."

They both laughed, and he pulled up a chair so he could look too.

"Walk beside the pony, Daddy, it's my first ride"

He raised his eyebrows when he saw one of him hoisting Kanae onto a horse when the family had gone to visit a relative who owned some stables out in Gifu the previous year. "Just how old are these?"

Kahoko kept clicking through pictures that walked through the events of Kanae's first time riding on a horse. She looked like she was having fun astride the chestnut beauty, but she kept a firm grip on her father's hand. "Mmm…maybe a year and a half? The memory card's so big, we haven't needed to clear it off in a while."

"I see," Kazuki murmured as he filched some of her half-eaten cake. His eyes suddenly bulged, and he quickly ran to the bathroom to rinse out his mouth. He pouted at the laugh she tried to smother. "I thought we had eaten all of that."

"I know the cake looks funny, Daddy, but I sure tried"

Kahoko shrugged. "This was the last slice." She looked at him sympathetically. "You'd worked so hard to eat as much of Kanae's…" she decided it would be unkind to tack on an adjective, "cake as you could that I didn't have the heart to make you eat any more."

He winced slightly. "Next time she gets it in her head to cook or bake, we should probably make sure one of us is around so she doesn't think the cake will turn out okay when she puts in half a tablespoon of salt instead of half a teaspoon."

"Or get the baking chocolate mixed up with the milk chocolate bars," she laughed. "Though that's fairly understandable."

Oh, with all that I've done wrong

Kazuki chuckled. "I didn't even realize there was such a thing as baking chocolate." He made a face and shuddered. "I think Kanae and I both know now, though. Ugh, salty and bitter."

She smiled. "I thought it was sweet of her try and bake a cake to help me out."

"It was," he agreed proudly. "She's becoming pretty responsible. She's just still a little…."

"Scatterbrained," she finished. "A little something from her father's side…?" she teased.

"And her mother's," he countered with a peck on the nose that made her giggle.

They heard the alarm beep next to them and smiled at each other.

I must have done something right

"Time to round up the troops. I'll get them dressed and ready," Kazuki said as he helped her on her feet.

"Thanks, I'll have hotcakes on the table by then." She kissed him on the cheek.

"Sounds great!" He grinned. "That should get them downstairs in a flash." He quickly mounted the stairs and knocked on his daughter's door before letting himself in. His smile shone to see she had hidden herself under the covers. She knew what was coming.

To deserve a hug every morning

He scratched his head and put on his most bewildered look. "Now where is Kanae? She should be in here somewhere…" he said aloud, eliciting a small giggle from the small mound on the bed. He made a lot of noise as he checked different hiding places and continued to wonder where his missing daughter had gone. Despite her attempts to smother the constant stream of laughter, the snickers, snorts, and titters just kept getting louder as the little hill on the bed shook.

Finally, the suspense got to be too much for her, and she hopped out of the bed and ran over to fling her arms around his neck. "I'm right here, Daddy!"

And butterfly kisses at night

"There you are!" he laughed as he bent down to give her a hard hug back. "Honestly, I need to remember to check the bed from now on." Rubbing noses, he grinned at her. "Now let's go get Kazuya. Mommy's making hotcakes this morning."

"Yay!" She dashed out the door to her brother's room.

~*~

Anxious, he unlocked the front door and rushed in. "I'm home!" he called silently in his head. Hearing the telltale signs of life, he visibly relaxed—good, he wasn't too late—then slumped in exhaustion as he shucked off his shoes and sloughed off his coat. He ran a hand down his face to try and wipe away some of the tiredness from his eyes.

Catching sight of his son playing one of his zombie shooter video games in the dark living room, Kazuki silently tiptoed up behind him and scared a year's growth off of him when he grabbed him from behind. "Ahhh! Da-mmph." Kazuki quickly clapped his hands over Kazuya's mouth before he could reveal his presence. Then, with a conspiratorial wink, he motioned for silence and gave a nod in the general direction of his older sister's room.

Nodding in understanding, Kazuya flashed the famous Hihara grin and whispered, "Glad you're back."

Ruffling his hair affectionately, Kazuki stood and made his way up the stairs and down the hall to a room with a violin-shaped nameplate on it and knocked.

"Just a minute! Geez!"

He raised his eyebrows, but just shrugged and knocked again.

"We're coming! How many times do I have to tell you! Are you deaf?!"

He knocked again with a frown.

"Stop it, Kazuya!"

He couldn't help but grin. That explained it. Of course his son had already been here driving his sisters crazy. He shouldn't have expected any less. He began to rap on the door again when it violently gave way under his fist.

Sweet 16 today

"I swear! If you keep this up, I'm going to make you wish you'd never been—Dad!" She stared at him like she was seeing a ghost.

"Daddy! Daddy!" His youngest flew away from her mother's side to throw her arms around his neck.

With a large smile, he twirled her around in the air, sending her green pigtails flying. It was good to be home again. "How's my little girl?"

"I'm not little," Kasumi pouted. "I'm almost ten."

"Well then, you're far too old for me to be holding you now, aren't you?" he teased as he put her down.

Kanae was still staring at him like a fish out of water.

"No hug? Not even a 'Hi, Dad'?" He feigned a hurt look.

"Uh, right." She nodded mechanically and gave him a hug. "Hi, Dad." When she pulled away, she still looked really confused. "But-but how? And why? Aren't-aren't you supposed to be in Hokkaido until Monday?"

He smiled down at his oldest. "And miss both the most important performance of my daughter's life and her birthday? Not a chance."

All his tiredness melted away as he basked in the sunshine of her smile. All the hassle he'd had to go through to cut his trip short had been completely and totally worth it.

She's looking like her Mama
A little more everyday

He beamed back at her mother as she smiled approvingly. His eyes moved between the two redheads, and he got a funny look in his eyes. The differences were there, but the similarities were striking.

"Ah," he fished a small, flat box out of his pocket, "Happy Birthday!" He grinned. "I bought it in Hokkaido. I hope you like it."

One part woman, the other part girl

She eagerly ripped open the paper with childlike excitement. "Oh, Daddy!" she gasped and gave him a big hug.

"Let me see!" Kasumi demanded.

Kanae smiled and knelt down to show her the hair clips with small, white porcelain cherry blossoms on them.

"Ooh! Sparkly! Are you going to wear them tonight?"

Kanae held them up to her mother. "What do you think, Mom?"

Kahoko nodded her approval. "White goes with everything."

"I think they'll look really pretty." Kasumi swayed happily in her light pink dress.

Kanae nodded and caught Kasumi's hand. "Let's finish getting ready, okay?"

"Yup!"

To perfume and make-up from ribbons and curls

Kazuki leaned back and watched the women go through their mysterious make-up ritual. Since it was a special, grown-up event, Kaho-chan was helping Kasumi put on make-up too. He chuckled, remembering how awful Kanae had looked when she had gotten into Kaho-chan's make-up the first time. He watched her expertly apply some black pencil thing to her eyes with a slightly sad quirk of the lips. Nine years had certainly changed things.

Trying her wings out in a great big world

When she walked onto the stage, she squared her shoulders and bowed. He could tell she was nervous.

"Come on, Kanae!" he cheered in his head. "You can do this!"

But I remember…

He watched her take three calming breaths like he had taught her to and relax. "Atta girl." And with a quick slice of her bow, she was off. His eyes never strayed as his little girl filled the concert hall with her own special brand of music. And when she finished, nobody clapped and cheered more loudly and proudly than him.

Butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer

The rhinestones in her new clips caught the light as she proudly accepted her second-place trophy.

Sticking little white flowers all up in her hair

When she walked out in street clothes with a tired, but proud look on her face, he pulled her in for a hug and hoisted her trophy up high. "You did great! We're so proud of you!" After the rest of the family offered their congratulations, including a tackle-hug from Kasumi, he asked, "Cake and ice cream to celebrate?"

"Actually," she hesitated briefly, "some of the others wanted to go do karaoke for a bit. Can I go too?"

"You know how much I love you, Daddy, but if you don't mind"

He paused to look over at the group of teenagers laughing and talking, and then at his wife, who smiled and nodded. "Sure." He smiled and pulled some money out of his wallet. "Have fun! Make sure you're back by ten-thirty. We'll do cake then."

"Thanks, Dad." And with a wave, she was off.

"I'm only gonna kiss you on the cheek this time"

Turning to his other two children, he asked, "Shall we pick up some ice cream for later, then?"

"Yes!" Kazuya fist-pumped.

"Let's get strawberry!" Kasumi clapped.

"No, chocolate," the thirteen-year-old argued.

Oh, with all that I've done wrong

"Strawberry!"

"Chocolate!"

"Strawberry!"

"Chocolate!"

"I think we should get Kanae's favorite," Kahoko broke in with a warning tone, and at their chastised faces, she added, "and some Neapolitan."

I must have done something right

Kazuki grinned and took her hand. "Shall we go?"

Kasumi nodded and latched onto his free hand, while Kazuya walked slightly ahead of them. Thirteen is too cool to be hanging around his kid sister after all.

To deserve her love every morning

As they left, Kazuki snuck a glance back and smiled to see Kanae chatting excitedly with her friends. Catching his eye, she smiled warmly back at him and gave a little wave.

And butterfly kisses at night

~*~

He let out an ear-piercing whistle as she accepted her third-place trophy in the national solo competition her senior year. When they got home, it joined her other trophies, including her first-place prefectural trophy and the mark of her victory in the Seiso music competition.

All the precious time

They all had a party in the backyard to celebrate her high school graduation. And just a few short months later, he kissed her good-bye at the airport when she and her mother went to go move her in for college at the same conservatory Tsukimori-kun had studied at.

Oh…

Kaho-chan had to keep him from rushing over to Vienna to bring her back every time she called home sobbing about how homesick she was.

Like the wind, the years go by

His heart sank a bit when she told them she was planning to accept a job in Vienna as part of an orchestra. He missed her.

Precious butterfly

The five of them went on a three-week European tour when they flew over for her graduation. And just a couple of years later, he proudly framed a newspaper article lauding her as a rising star.

Spread your wings and fly

~*~

Kahoko zipped up Kanae's dress and smiled. Standing next to her, she looked at their reflection in the mirror.

As always, there are good and bad things whenever there's any mixing in the gene pool. Kanae had bloomed into a beautiful young woman with her mother's delicate features and her father's soulful eyes and easy smile. Looks-wise, she was truly the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, she somehow managed to inherit both her mother's and father's individual brands of denseness. Kahoko quickly counted her blessings. It was honestly nothing short of a miracle that she had gotten to this point.

They both smiled and turned when they heard a knock at the door.

"Come in," Kanae called.

Kazuki stepped into the room and froze.

She'll change her name today

The vision in white smiled and held out her hand. "Hi, Dad."

He gulped and moved forward to squeeze it. "I-I can't believe it. It's…it's really happening."

She'll make a promise

Kanae looked at once exasperated and embarrassed. "Oh, Dad, did you really think I'd never get married?"

Kahoko bit back a laugh as she remembered a similar conversation with her own father.

And I'll give her away

"No," he shook his head slowly, "it's not that. I just…I guess I didn't expect it to come so soon."

Kanae laughed and rolled her eyes. "Oh Dad, I'm almost thirty. Hardly speedy."

Standing in the Bride Room just staring at her

His wife sent him an understanding smile and started handing Kanae accessories as Kasumi took pictures. He felt like a stranger as he watched the women bustle and fuss.

She asked me what I'm thinking

Kanae looked over with a bit of concern. "You've been pretty quiet. What is it?"

And I said, "I'm not sure"
"I just feel like I'm losing my baby girl"

He gave her a brave smile. "I'm not sure. I guess…I guess I just…" he took a deep breath and said, "I just feel like I'm about to lose you…or something."

Her eyes misted. "Oh, Daddy…." She leaned over.

He cracked a smile when he felt her lips touch his nose, and felt tears sting his eyes as her lashes fluttered against his skin. His girl. His little girl.

Gave me butterfly kisses with her Mama there

As she drew away, Kahoko placed the last star of Bethlehem in her hair and smiled. "Finished."

Sticking little white flowers all up in her hair

She picked up the flow of tulle and motioned her daughter to come over. "Just one thing left."

He watched silently as Kanae bent down and let her mother fasten in the veil. Then, with a kiss on the cheek, the blusher came down.

Turning to her father, Kanae held out her hand. "Walk me down the aisle, Daddy; it's just about time."

All he could do was stare at her. Was this really Kanae? Could this beautiful woman before him really be that perfect little baby from all those years ago?

And, "Does my wedding gown look pretty, Daddy?"

"Well?" She smiled inquiringly.

"You…you look beautiful, Kanae," he choked out. A tear fell from his eyes. Then another and another. He couldn't make them stop.

"Daddy, don't cry! Oh, please don't cry! I'm going to start too," Kanae's voice caught.

"No, no, no!" Kasumi rushed over and started fanning her sister's face. "You'll ruin the pictures!"

Oh, with all that I've done wrong

Kazuki sniffed and gave Kanae a watery smile. "You're getting married. I can't believe it." Kazuki squeezed her hands. "My little girl getting married." He sucked in a breath and tried to compose himself. "Alright, I think I'm as ready as I'll ever be." He offered her his arm with a brave smile. "Let's do this."

I must have done something right

She laughed and took his arm readily, her eyes sparkling with excitement.

His heart warmed to see it. All the joy, confidence, and eagerness to start a life with the man she loved glowed on her face making her radiant. He remembered the same giddy nervousness when it had been his turn years ago.

To deserve her love every morning

Right before the doors to the chapel opened, she squeezed his arm in a hug. "Are you ready?"

"Are you?"

She grinned and nodded with tears at the corners of her eyes. "You bet."

And butterfly kisses

His heart swelled when he looked at her out of the corner of his eye as they walked down the long road of red.

I couldn't ask God for more

His daughter grown up and getting married, he couldn't believe it. He was so happy, so proud, and yet somehow feeling such a sense of loss that he wanted to cry from the sheer ache of it.

Man, this is what love is

Kazuki's eyes moved over to his very-soon-to-be son-in-law. No matter how many times they met, it never failed to give him a jolt. It was so weird to see Tsukimori-kun's face with Shouji-san's brown hair and misty teal eyes.

The young man solemnly bowed to him, and he gulped, returning the gesture as he remembered when he had been standing in his place. And now—he looked at his daughter as her eyes glowed with love for the man whose face had softened in return—here he was now giving his own daughter away.

I know I gotta let her go

Kanae's eyes met his right before he stepped away, and he saw the Kanaes of the past flash before his eyes. He touched his fingers to his lips and blew a kiss goodbye to the girl of the past and one of good luck to the woman of the present and future.

But I'll always remember…

Her eyes misted. "I love you," she mouthed.

He blinked hard to keep from breaking down, and with a final nod, he stepped back to join his wife in the front pew. They looked at each other, squeezed hands, and watched their daughter take her first step in her new life.

Every hug in the morning

At the end of the reception, he stood outside and waved until their car drove out of sight. Then, he sighed and let the swirl of joy and loss churn within him for a bit until he sensed his wife come up beside him. "She's gone now," he stated as she took his hand.

And butterfly kisses…

"At least we still have Kasumi," Kahoko murmured with a soft smile.

"Yes," Kazuki nodded, but looked wistfully over at his green-haired daughter as she bid good-bye to a tall boy with dark green hair and clear blue eyes with a smile. "But for how much longer?"
===============================================
To me, "Butterfly Kisses" will always be the father-daughter song. I think I probably first heard it at a father-daughter dance in elementary school, and I just fell in love with it. Originally, this was going to lead off the series, but then I had an idea for "I Loved Her First" that I thought would work nicely for Kahoko and her father.

Alright, I'm going to go and spend the rest of the day with my husband now (once he wakes up XD). (^_^) Bye bye.

An 'Other Age' Summer Continuous Version

So this is another Scribe's Faction thingy.  It's sort of interesting.  It's a continuous story that has to be updated every week starting June 12, 2013 in 500-word installments (their rules, not mine).  So I wrote it in such a way that it could be read continuously or with the breaks in between, so I'll do sort of a conglomerate thing here where I'll have one version that's got breaks in it so it's more like reading short little episodes/chapters and another where it's more continuous.  This one here will be the continuous, and the episodic one can be found here: http://tentsubasa.livejournal.com/11704.html.

Summary: A Two month summer challenge story. Trapped inside thanks to the soaking heat of August, Mio introduces her friends to an online dating sim. Nao is fine, but Kahoko fails miserably at it. A couple weeks later, school is back in session, but it's still scorching hot and she's still sucking. So she turns to some unlikely sources for help as they all try to beat the heat.

Category: Anime: La Corda d'Oro
Rating: K+
Language: English
Genre: Friendship
Chapters: 1
Words: 610
Follows: 2
Favs: 1
Reviews: 1
Published: 6/12/13
Updated: 6/12/13
Main Characters: Kahoko Hino

Title: An "Other Age" Summer
Theme: Beat the Heat
Author: tentsubasa
Summary: Trapped inside thanks to the soaking heat of August, Mio introduces her friends to an online dating sim. Nao is fine, but Kahoko fails miserably at it. A couple weeks later, school is back in session, but it's still scorching hot and she's still sucking. So she turns to some unlikely sources for help as they all try to beat the heat.
Genre: Friendship
Rating: K+
Main Character: Kahoko Hino

Disclaimer: I do not own Kiniro no Corda or any affiliates. I don't own Zeiva's Other Age either, but you can play it online for free here: http://zeiva.net/games/oa_online.html.

=================================================
"I'm bored. What should we do?" Mio asked as she sat up.

"It's too hot to do anything," Nao groaned from where she was lying on the floor.

"I'm with her," Kahoko agreed as she rolled over to try and find another cool spot.

Summer had set in with a vengeance. The city shimmered as concrete and asphalt baked. Dehumidifiers worked overtime as they attempted to wring the water from the saturated air. Needless to say, summer had effectively kyboshed the girls' summer plans.

Mio poked Nao with a slight pout. "I didn't mean outside, Nao-chan."

"It's too hot to move inside too though," Kahoko moaned. But under Mio's pleading gaze, she relented, "I suppose we could do something stationary."

"Like TV," Nao grunted.

Mio's eyes lit up. "I've got a better idea! Be right back."

The other two girls looked at each other and shrugged.

Laptop in hand, Mio plunked herself down between them. "I just found this great online dating sim."

Dating sim? They shared an amused glance. Typical Mio. But having nothing better to do, they watched the screen as a purple castle appeared with the words, "Other Age," in a fancy script.

"Oh, how cute!" Kahoko beamed at the roly-poly game mascot as Mio clicked it.

"See, you're this princess who gets this machine that matches you up with your dream guy," Mio explained. "And now for the personality quiz." She breezed through the questions as her friends watched curiously. And after the weird-looking machine did a strange dance, a guy in a grey cape appeared. Mio sighed in rapture. "Isn't Neody so handsome?"

"Uh oh," Nao teased, "Mio's got it bad. When's the wedding?"

Mio stuck out her tongue before continuing her narration. "After that, you respond to stuff he says to get him to go on a date." She demonstrated. "Then, you choose where to go," she clicked accordingly, "and now, you enter the minigame phase where you try and win a good ending."

"What's this game?" Kahoko asked.

"Survivor." Mio frowned. "It's so hard!"

"Can't be that bad," Nao dismissed.

"Wanna bet?" Mio challenged.

"Fine." She gave a curt nod and took the controls. After getting hopelessly lost five times, Nao finally started to get the hang of it. "Gah!" she cursed as her time ran out yet again. "Stupid time limit! Again!" She pushed the computer toward Mio.

"Why don't you fill it out this time?" Kahoko suggested. "I mean, there's more than one guy, right?"

"Yeah, Nao-chan!" Mio beamed. "Let's see who you get."

With a shrug, the girl filled in her answers and got somebody named Dornick. While she wasn't crazy about his looks, it didn't take long for all of them to get hooked on his sleuthing minigame.

After their sixth unsuccessful collaboration, Kahoko stuck her hand in front of the screen. "Stop. No more sleuthing. It's way too hot for my brain to be working this hard."

Mio laughed in agreement. "Why don't you take a turn, Kaho-chan?"

“Yeah,” Nao agreed with a teasing smirk. “I want to see what kind of guy Kaho gets.”

Sending her a look, Kahoko took the helm. “Umm…let’s see….” She hesitantly went through the ten questions, her friends making comments along the way. As the Luv Luv Nitarou Deluxe did its little dance, she watched it intently. What kind of guy would she get?

Three pairs of eyebrows shot up as weird shoes with little bows and eighteenth century tights and leggings appeared with a red cape. What in the world?! Her horror only increased as a strange man who looked like a bad Shakespearean actor came into view.

Nao roared in laughter. “Mr. Nobody?!” With a snort she asked, “Does that mean your dream guy doesn’t exist, Kaho?”

“Be nice, Nao-chan,” Mio managed to get out amidst her giggles. “Maybe he’s not so bad.”

But oh yes, he was that bad: rhapsodizing about how wonderful and beautiful he was and forcing her to date him against her will because he incorrectly believed she was completely smitten with him; he was kind of a nightmare. Not to mention that his route was downright boring; no wonder it was only worth one star. She was so glad this was only a game; she’d be on the run for life if she dated this stalker for real. It didn’t help that Mio and Nao were dying laughing as they watched her go through her date either.

“Aww, cheer up, Kaho. Why don’t you try again? Maybe you’ll get a different guy.”

“Yeah, Kaho-chan. Different answers lead to different guys after all.”

But by some cruel twist of fate, she ended up with Mr. Nobody again. And again…and again! For about fifteen more times. After about time ten, she didn’t even suffer through the date anymore. The instant she saw those shoes, she went right for Quit. It was so mortifying!

Especially since Mio and Nao had gone from sympathetic, to disbelieving, to howling with laughter as her face got progressively more and more red from repeated sightings of Mr. Nobody.

And that’s why she was now in the school computer lab hiding out in the cool, windowless room where the scorching August sun wouldn’t bake her to a crisp. This was silly. She should be practicing. Although…the practice rooms weren’t as cool because the heat radiated in through the windows, but they did run the dehumidifiers to keep the pianos in good shape, so it wasn’t so bad, just really stuffy.

She banged her head on the desk. Mr. Nobody again. Why? Why her? She was really beginning to wonder if she was cursed.

She felt a tap on her shoulder.

“Hi, Kaho-chan!” Kazuki greeted from the other side of her computer.

“Oh,” she straightened up a little, “hello, Hihara-senpai. How are you?”

“Pretty warm,” he laughed. His smile faded. “What’s wrong, Kaho-chan? You look pretty down.” His eyes shone in concern. “Did you want to talk about it? I’m always happy to help.”

Should she tell him?  Her eyes slid over to the cutesy screen, and she blushed.  No way!  “What brings you to the computer lab, Hihara-senpai?” she asked instead.

“Trying to cool down.  I was practicing, but the sun’s so bright I was getting blinded.  Not to mention roasted.”  He wiped his forehead.  “Actually, this is the coolest room in the school.”  He gave her a friendly wink.  “Though not many know it.”

She couldn’t help but smile back, and a thought suddenly came to her.  “I wonder if there’s a guy like Hihara-senpai in here,” she murmured.

“Sorry, what was that?”

“Uh….”  Biting her lip, she hesitantly asked, “Hihara-senpai…could you answer some…questions for me?”

“Sure.”

“Would you rather play games, read books, or do something outdoors?”

He blinked in surprise.  “Uh, outdoors.”

She clicked the answer.  “Would you rather have a home-cooked meal, fast food, or go to a high-class restaurant?”

“Home-cooked, definitely.”

“Favorite time of day?  Morning, evening, or night.”

He thought for a few minutes before deciding, “Morning.”

“Really?”  She’d expected him to like sleep as much as she did.

“Yeah,” he grinned, “the day always feels so fresh and new in the morning.”

“Heh…” she nodded with a smile.  “Do you prefer natural, soft, or dark colors?”

“What does that even mean?” he asked looking extremely confused.

She laughed.  Typical guy.  “Umm…do you like colors you see in nature; deep, bold colors; or lighter, pale shades?”

“Uh…natural?”  He still didn’t really get it.

She paused at the next question.  If she were Hihara-senpai, she’d value personality the most, but wasn’t the point to not use answers she would pick herself?  “Senpai, what do you think is your best feature: your personality, looks, or talents?”

“Kaho-chan, umm…why’re you asking me these things?”  He looked kind of uncomfortable.

She looked away in embarrassment.  “Please, just answer.”

“Erm….”  He really had no clue.  Finally, he mumbled with a red face, “Personality.”

Nodding to herself, she clicked it and smiled.  She thought that was his best feature too.  Not that he was ugly or untalented, but his cheerful optimism was a definite plus.

Next question, type of guy: strong, clever, or strange?  She cocked her head.  That humongous appetite and his tendency to violently react to everything were kind of strange.  Click.

His appearance: cute, handsome, or taller than me?  She tapped her cheek thoughtfully as she scrutinized him.  He was definitely tall.  Her cursor hovered over the answer when she glanced up at him again.  He looked like a confused puppy.  She clicked Cute.

He’s nearby, faraway, or from another dimension?  Nearby.

She looked blankly at the final question before hesitantly asking, “Which best describes you: a) can do magic, b) has a strange hobby, or c) has a sad past?”

A.”

“What?  Really?”

He grinned.  “A couple coin tricks.”

She giggled and clicked the final answer.  Hihara-senpai could do magic, who knew?  She watched intently as the Luv Luv Nitarou Deluxe shook and bounced.  Then, the screen whited out.

And revealed a pair of white sneakers and jeans connected to a boy wearing a backward cap and eating what looked like a meatball.  She almost screamed her excitement.  “Success!

“What’s this?”  Kazuki’s voice suddenly piped up from behind her as he leaned over her shoulder.

“Hi-Hihara-senpai!”  Busted!

He looked at her in confusion.  “Some kind of game?”

“It’s umm…an uh, dating sim,” she confessed.

His eyes bugged out.  “My answers—why would you—I mean—Do-do you think I’m gay?!”  The girl he liked had just set him up with a guy by proxy.  This was just so wrong!

“No, no, Hihara-senpai!  It’s not like that!” she protested, trying to calm him down.  “I tried to see if I could find someone in the game like you.  This is your game counterpart, not someone for you to date!  I mean, it’s not like you’re a character in a dating sim.”

“Right,” he took a deep breath and blew it out, “right.”  He looked at the screen and made a weird face.  “Zoui, huh?  He doesn’t look much like me.”

Kahoko swallowed a laugh as she took in Zoui’s shocked face.  Hihara-senpai had worn similar expressions in the past.

As she clicked through to the first selection screen, he suddenly looked interested.  “You’re the princess of FOOD Kingdom?!”  He looked like Christmas had come early.  “That’s so awesome!  Do you think they have tonkatsu sandwiches?”  She giggled when she got a similar response from Zoui.

Kazuki’s stomach growled as she clicked, “Yes, you can eat all you want!”  “Lucky Zoui,” he muttered under his breath.

She smiled.  “So, where do you think he’d like to go?”

“Where can you go?”

“The cafeteria, library, casino, romantic lookout, or forest garden.”

“To the cafeteria!”

She complied.  “Huh…looks like in this minigame, we just feed him food.”  She smiled up at him.  “Want to help me?”

“Sure!”

“So, cheese pizza or cheap pizza?”

“Cheese.”

“Fairy sushi or freaky sushi?”

Fairy sushi?”  His face was inexplicable.

She shrugged.  “Just roll with it?”

“Well freaky sushi sounds kind of scary, so I guess we’ll avoid—Kaho-chan!  Your time’s about to run out!”

“Oh no!”  She sighed as they lost and booted it up again.  They had gotten up to eight when she asked, “Choco tarts?”

“Sounds good!”

“Eek!  The meter went down to zero!”

“Ack!  And with only two seconds left!”  They both frowned as Zoui slumped as if he’d been poisoned.  Kazuki’s eyes were determined as he turned to her.  “Let’s lick this thing this time, Kaho-chan!”

She nodded.  “Right.”

“Cheese.  Fairy.  Potato.  Yogurt.”  Kazuki called out food until the 10th heart was filled with just three seconds to spare.  “We did it!”  He cheered as he threw a fist into the air.

“Hooray!”

“Give me five!”  He held up his hand.

As she returned his high-five with a laugh, a smooth, cultured voice came from the door.  “My, you two look like you’re having quite a bit of fun.  What are you doing?”

Kazuki turned with a grin.  “Yunoki!  Your meeting’s out already?”

“Yes, it was so warm, everyone moved to adjourn early.  The air is so stagnant, even with the windows open, it was difficult to breathe.”

“That sounds awful,” she and Kazuki both shuddered, “but what brings you here, Yunoki-senpai?”

“I wanted to look up something,” the ponytailed boy answered with a smile.

“Kaho-chan, why don’t you ask Yunoki the same questions you asked me?”

“Eh?  Are you sure?”

“Of course!  I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.”

“Questions?”  Azuma frowned quizzically.

Before she could talk herself out of it, she launched into the first one.  “Ah…Yunoki-senpai, would you describe yourself as wild, playful, and easygoing; pure, gentle, and elegant; or mysterious, calm, and unpredictable?”

“A personality test?”  He gracefully arched an eyebrow.

“Just answer, Yunoki, you’ll see!”

He sighed.   “I suppose the last one.”

“Question two: would you rather play games, read books, or do something outdoors?”

“Outdoors?  In this heat?” he teased before answering.

She avoided Kazuki’s questioning look and snuck a glance at the duplicitous prince.  If Hihara-senpai knew what she knew, he’d think Yunoki-senpai was from another dimension too.

The two in the know watched intently as the machine danced, and clapped when a dashing man in armored plating appeared.  “Boo-yah!” Kazuki cheered.  “Come see your game counterpart, Yunoki!”

“Excuse me?”

Kahoko quickly explained as Azuma came around to their side.

“Wow…” Kazuki marveled as they met Ividine, “he’s just like you, Yunoki!  Purple hair and everything!  If this had happened to me, I’d be freaked out.”

Azuma chuckled, “Are you telling me your game self didn’t freak out?”

“Well…maybe a little….”

Kahoko giggled.  “He won’t tell you his name even though it’s displayed for us to see.  What an interesting person.”

Azuma glanced at her.  “Indeed.”  He chuckled.  “He is right though.  You should be careful about whom you share your identity with.”

“Did people really lose their lives by telling strangers their names, Yunoki?!” Kazuki asked in horror.

“Hmm…I wonder….”  Click.  “He was just joking.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if it were true though?”

I don’t think so.”  Kazuki shuddered.

“Where do you think they should go, Yunoki-senpai?”

“How about here?”  They watched the screens.  “A dancing contest?”  A smirk lightly played on his lips.  “Can you dance, Hino-san?”

Setting her mouth determinedly, she clicked Sure!; though in retrospect, she probably should’ve said she couldn’t dance considering how much she was scrambling to try and press the arrows before the bar filled.

After they hit the Game Over screen, Azuma laughed a bit.  “The interactions with the king and his advisor are quite amusing.”  He turned.  “Well, this was fun, but I should go.”

“Wait!”

He looked back.

“Please, can we try again, Yunoki-senpai?”  Her eyes shone in determination.  “I really want to try and beat this.”

“…Very well.”

Around and around they danced until finally….

“Alright, Kaho-chan!”

“Congratulations.”

“Thank you!  The dusk is so beautiful,” she sighed dreamily.

Then, a yawn came from behind them.  “Senpai…?”

Azuma smiled.  “Hello, Shimizu-kun.”

“Hello…Yunoki-senpai….”

“Sorry, did we disturb your nap?” Kazuki apologized.

“Yes…but…it was…about time…for me…to wake up….”

“Why are you sleeping in here, Shimizu-kun?” Kahoko asked.

“The air…outside…was heavy…so I felt…tired….”  He looked around slowly.  “I must have…somehow…ended up…here….”

“I see.”

He nodded solemnly.  “Heat…and…humidity…aren’t good…for cellos…because they’re made…of wood….”  A drowsy smile.  “The air…conditioning…helps….”

“Oh!  I’m glad I brought my violin here then.”  Her eyes flicked to her game.  “Umm, Shimizu-kun, would you mind helping me?”

He rubbed some of the sleep out of his eyes.  “Help…?”

She motioned to the screen.  “With this game I’m playing.”

He cocked his head.  “Senpai…likes…dating games…?”

She laughed in embarrassment.  “I guess you could say that.”

“How…must I…help…?”

“By answering some questions for me.”

“Okay….”

They went through the ten questions and up popped a wide-eyed boy with dark hair and jeans.

Kahoko beamed.  “He’s so cute!”  She turned happily to the blonde.  “How do you think I should answer, Shimizu-kun?”

“Be…straight-forward….”

“Yay!  I got a date!”  She tapped her cheek thoughtfully.  “Hmm, where should I go…?  Maybe here…?”  Her eyes widened in panic.  “A quiz?!  Oh no, I’m terrible at tests!”

“Don’t worry, Kaho-chan,” Kazuki chirped.  “We’ll help you.”  The other two nodded in agreement.

“Alright.”  Kahoko bowed.  “I’m counting on you guys.”  She turned back to the computer.  “What is the name of this game?  Oh!  That’s easy!  Other Age.  How old are you?  Uh….”

“Sixteen….”

“What is the current generation of King Mirage?  Twenty-one…?”

“No…it was…twenty-two….”

“What is the full name of the machine that is used to summon me?”

“The one…with Luv…spelled with a u….”

“Which character in Genetic Glow wears a cap?”  Click.

All correct.

Kahoko was amazed.  “Wow, Shimizu-kun!  How did you know all those?”

He blinked.  “The answers…were listed…in the opening….  I simply…remembered them….”

“Huh?”  She quickly opened another tab and started clicking through the opening.  “Oh yeah, I guess they were.”

“You have a good memory,” Azuma complimented.

He bowed.  “Thank you…Yunoki-senpai….”

She paused on number seven.  “A prison probably wouldn’t be decorated.”

“But you can’t…go…to the prison….”

“True….”  She looked at Kazuki.  “Were there…?”

“I don’t think so….”

Question 8.

“What is, ‘Nuclear Crystalite,’ Hino-san?”

“Umm?”

“Choose one…randomly….”

Question 9.

“Who?”

“Maybe…another…character from this…game….”

Question 10.

“Who are they, Kaho-chan?”

“Your guess is as good as mine.”

“We seem to have…insufficient…information….”

“Well…Zeiva Inc. made other games; maybe the answers are in there,” Kahoko suggested.

Azuma skimmed the website.  “It seems they are princes of the Demon race.”

“Which means….”  Keiichi clicked an answer.

“Drat.  We got at least one wrong,” Kazuki pouted at the Game Over screen.

“Shall we try…again…?”

Six tries later, they finally got to the third round.

“Hihara-senpai?”

“Uh…eeny, meeny, miny, moe….”

The third heart filled.  Success!

“Yay!” Kahoko clapped happily.

“We rule!”

“Apparently Lenz thinks we’re geniuses,” Azuma chuckled.

“Well…done…everyone…!”

A stern voice cut their celebration short.  “Do you intend to continue this racket?  I’m currently suffering from a heat-induced headache and the noise is aggravating it.”

“Oh!  Sorry, Tsukimori-kun,” Kahoko apologized to the boy standing in the doorway.  “Are you not feeling well?”

“No, I’m not.”

“Perhaps you should lie down in the nurse’s office,” Azuma suggested.

“It’s like an oven in there, so she advised I come here.”

Keiichi pointed to the row where he had been napping.  “There is…a good resting place…there…Tsukimori-senpai.”

Len nodded tersely and strode over.  “Thank you.”

The four looked at each other as he lay down.  None of them wanted to leave the cool sanctuary, but what could they do that wouldn’t disturb him?

Len’s voice floated over from behind the computers.  “I don’t intend to sleep.”

Kazuki grinned.  “In that case, would you consider yourself wild, playful, and easygoing; pure, gentle, and elegant; or mysterious, calm, and unpredictable?”

Kahoko looked at him in alarm.  How would Tsukimori-kun take to being made into a dating sim character?

“I beg your pardon?”

“Please…answer…senpai….”

“I don’t see why.”

They looked over at Azuma who simply smiled and selected the third one.

“Would you rather play games, read books, or do something outdoors?” Kazuki continued.

“Is there a point to this?”

Kahoko’s mouth fell open when Azuma punched in Playing Game.

This continued for the rest of the quiz with Kazuki asking questions and Azuma selecting answers for questions Len wouldn’t answer, some more tongue-in-cheek than others.  With each one, Azuma’s companions were a mixture of horrified, cracking up, and quietly amused.

Kahoko started when a new character actually popped up.  She couldn’t help but think that Mr. Nobody should’ve popped up for the personality profile of a person that didn’t exist.

“He’s rather reticent, isn’t he?” Azuma chuckled as Kahoko clicked through the conversation.

Kazuki shivered.  “This is a little creepy.  Even though we were joking around, they’re like twins.”

“Indeed….”

“Darn it,” Kahoko pouted.  “He walked away.”

“What are you four doing?”

They all jumped.  Kazuki and Kahoko guiltily tried to hide the screen.

“Hino….”

“Well, uh, it’s-it’s like this, Tsukimori-kun….”

Five minutes later, he stared at Mystery Man with an unreadable expression.  “I see.”

As he watched on, Kahoko plugged in her answers.  “How would Tsukimori-kun react to this?” became her mantra.  She smiled up at him.  “Where to, Tsukimori-kun?”

“Anywhere but the casino, I suppose.”

“A maze….  That sounds…interesting….”

“Look!  A note!”

“What does it say?”

Len snorted.  “Keep clicking one direction?  That hardly sounds like a maze.”

“There’s…another note….”

They all stared at the screen inexplicably.

“Elephants like water…?” Kazuki finally asked in bewilderment.

“That’s supposed to be helpful?” Len muttered.

“Perhaps…you head…toward water…?”

“Seems reasonable,” Azuma agreed.

“Where is the water, Hino?”

“Uh…in Mio’s minigame, I think it was this way….”

Len pursed his lips at the Game Over in displeasure.

To play again or not to play again?  Play again, of course (multiple times).

“Alright!”

“How pretty!”

“Well…done….”

“That was more difficult than expected.”

“You cut it quite close, Hino-san.”

“Huh?  Why’re you all here?”

The five looked up to see Ryoutaro standing in the doorway.

Len flushed.  “None of your business.”  Of all the people to catch him watching a dating sim!

Sensing danger, Kahoko quickly asked, “Did you come from soccer, Tsuchiura-kun?”

Ryoutaro frowned.  “Yeah, our sadist of a captain made us practice despite how freaking miserable and oppressive it is out there.”

“Well, you’re more than welcome to join us in the air conditioning, Tsuchiura-kun.”  Azuma smiled.

Keiichi looked sidelong at Kahoko.  “Will you ask…Hino-senpai…?”

“Yeah!”  Kazuki bounced.  “Ask!  Ask!”

“Ask what?”

Kahoko blushed, “We-ell…you see….”  Soon, they all huddled around the screen as it flashed white.  “Oh!  Survivor!”  She clapped happily.

“Doesn’t it say his name is Neody?”  Ryoutaro raised an eyebrow.

“No, that’s his minigame,” Kahoko explained.  “Here, I’ll show you.”

“Wow…your game is hard, Tsuchiura,” Kazuki observed in awe as she ran around the forest scavenging.

After she was done mooning over the scene, Ryoutaro rubbed his neck in embarrassment.  “Ah, Hino, why’d you ask us these questions?  Couldn’t you have just filled it in yourself?”

“I’d like to know that as well,” Len agreed.

“Me…too….”

“He does raise a valid point.”

“Yeah, why, Kaho-chan?”

She blushed and said in a small voice, “Because I didn’t want to get Mr. Nobody again.”

Blank looks.

She timidly punched in a new set of answers and cringed at the dreaded shoes.  “Him.”

The room was silent for a few seconds.  Then, a snicker escaped.  A smothered guffaw.  And finally, they all began laughing.

“You certainly know how to pick them, Hino-san,” Azuma chuckled.

“That’s not even the worst of it!”  She showed them.

Len looked irritated.  “Why don’t you tell him to go away?”

“I have, but—wait a second,” she frowned after randomly clicking an answer, “are those…boxing gloves?”  Her mouth dropped open in shock.  “He has a different minigame?!”

“Punch Mr. Nobody as fast as you can in 10 seconds?”  Ryoutaro smirked.  “Now that’s more like it!”

“Ding, ding!” Kazuki cried as she clicked FIGHT!.

The room was filled with cheers, groans, and a lot of backseat boxing as she tried to follow those blue arrows around and around to knock Mr. Nobody out.

Just when she was losing it again on her eighth try, Ryoutaro impatiently slipped his hand under hers and started tapping the keys as fast as he could in an attempt to salvage the match.  “Almost had him!” he cursed.

“Hardly,” Len sniffed.  “You were still down about six hearts.”

“Think you can do better violin boy?”

Len took the controls.  Six hearts.

“Lemme!” Kazuki said eagerly.  He got him down to seven.  Then, Azuma punched him down to four.  Ryoutaro knocked him down to three, which Len and Kazuki then matched.

“Hit ‘im right in the kisser, senpai!”

“Go, Yunoki, go!”

“Left, no, right.  Up.”

Almost…there….

“Wow, Shimizu-kun!  I can’t believe you did it on your first try!”

“Huh?”  They all turned to see Kahoko with Keiichi at a different computer.

“We’ve saved the kingdom!” she cheered.

“Yes…we beat him…and the heat…” Keiichi laughed quietly.

The End

Yeah, so that’s the end of my little story. (^_^) I hope you enjoyed it.  It was mostly born out of the desire to have dating sim characters play a dating sim. XD I thought it would be amusing.  I don’t know why, but when the prompt was announced, this was the first plot idea that popped into my head, so then the challenge became tying it in with summer. *laughs* Kind of backward, right? =)

Zoui is one of the most common characters you can get, and his route is one of the easier ones in Other Age, so I decided to use him to help explain in detail how the game works.  I don’t think it’s a whole lot more than what the game itself gives you via the tip screens when you fail to get a good ending, but because the game creators have published a game guide, I won’t be giving out many more spoilers past this one route. The identities of the two secret (a.k.a. only one set of answers will reveal them) characters will be divulged, but if you’ve played Zeiva’s Imaginary Realm or Genetic Glow games, you’d know their names anyway, so again, not really a spoiler.


Oh my word, Ividine’s minigame is ridiculously hard!  I had to play it so many times to get Azuma's section out.  Its only saving graces are that the combinations don’t change every time you have to start over and that the still at the end is so pretty.  Although, if you ask me, the princess kind of looks more interested in the money than Ividine at the end. *laughs*

Hmm...Keiichi's bit had more spoiler-ish things in it than I would've liked, but since Lenz's minigame is a quiz, the only way you can show characters working together is by going over the questions. XD

Mystery Man’s minigame is also pretty difficult, although not nearly as bad as Ividine’s in my opinion.  I remember the first time I saw that note about the elephant, my reaction was similar to Len’s.  It was like, “What the heck?!  What does that have to do with anything?!”  Anywho, running around the forest was all worth it because like Ividine’s route you are rewarded with a very pretty picture at the end. (^__^)v



An 'Other Age' Summer Episodic Version

So this is another Scribe's Faction thingy.  It's sort of interesting.  It's a continuous story that has to be updated every week starting June 12, 2013 in 500-word installments (their rules, not mine).  So I wrote it in such a way that it could be read continuously or with the breaks in between, so I'll do sort of a conglomerate thing here where I'll have one version that's got breaks in it so it's more like reading short little episodes/chapters and another where it's more continuous.  This one here will be the episodic, and the continuous one can be found here: http://tentsubasa.livejournal.com/11867.html.

Summary: A Two month summer challenge story. Trapped inside thanks to the soaking heat of August, Mio introduces her friends to an online dating sim. Nao is fine, but Kahoko fails miserably at it. A couple weeks later, school is back in session, but it's still scorching hot and she's still sucking. So she turns to some unlikely sources for help as they all try to beat the heat.

Category: Anime: La Corda d'Oro
Rating: K+
Language: English
Genre: Friendship
Chapters: 1 (or 8, depending on how you want to interpret it)
Words: 610
Follows: 2
Favs: 1
Reviews: 1
Published: 6/12/13
Updated: 6/12/13
Main Characters: Kahoko Hino

Title: An "Other Age" Summer
Theme: Beat the Heat
Author: tentsubasa
Summary: Trapped inside thanks to the soaking heat of August, Mio introduces her friends to an online dating sim. Nao is fine, but Kahoko fails miserably at it. A couple weeks later, school is back in session, but it's still scorching hot and she's still sucking. So she turns to some unlikely sources for help as they all try to beat the heat.
Genre: Friendship
Rating: K+
Main Character: Kahoko Hino

Disclaimer: I do not own Kiniro no Corda or any affiliates. I don't own Zeiva's Other Age either, but you can play it online for free here: http://zeiva.net/games/oa_online.html.

=================================================

"I'm bored. What should we do?" Mio asked as she sat up.

"It's too hot to do anything," Nao groaned from where she was lying on the floor.

"I'm with her," Kahoko agreed as she rolled over to try and find another cool spot.

Summer had set in with a vengeance. The city shimmered as concrete and asphalt baked. Dehumidifiers worked overtime as they attempted to wring the water from the saturated air. Needless to say, summer had effectively kyboshed the girls' summer plans.

Mio poked Nao with a slight pout. "I didn't mean outside, Nao-chan."

"It's too hot to move inside too though," Kahoko moaned. But under Mio's pleading gaze, she relented, "I suppose we could do something stationary."

"Like TV," Nao grunted.

Mio's eyes lit up. "I've got a better idea! Be right back."

The other two girls looked at each other and shrugged.

Laptop in hand, Mio plunked herself down between them. "I just found this great online dating sim."

Dating sim? They shared an amused glance. Typical Mio. But having nothing better to do, they watched the screen as a purple castle appeared with the words, "Other Age," in a fancy script.

"Oh, how cute!" Kahoko beamed at the roly-poly game mascot as Mio clicked it.

"See, you're this princess who gets this machine that matches you up with your dream guy," Mio explained. "And now for the personality quiz." She breezed through the questions as her friends watched curiously. And after the weird-looking machine did a strange dance, a guy in a grey cape appeared. Mio sighed in rapture. "Isn't Neody so handsome?"

"Uh oh," Nao teased, "Mio's got it bad. When's the wedding?"

Mio stuck out her tongue before continuing her narration. "After that, you respond to stuff he says to get him to go on a date." She demonstrated. "Then, you choose where to go," she clicked accordingly, "and now, you enter the minigame phase where you try and win a good ending."

"What's this game?" Kahoko asked.

"Survivor." Mio frowned. "It's so hard!"

"Can't be that bad," Nao dismissed.

"Wanna bet?" Mio challenged.

"Fine." She gave a curt nod and took the controls. After getting hopelessly lost five times, Nao finally started to get the hang of it. "Gah!" she cursed as her time ran out yet again. "Stupid time limit! Again!" She pushed the computer toward Mio.

"Why don't you fill it out this time?" Kahoko suggested. "I mean, there's more than one guy, right?"

"Yeah, Nao-chan!" Mio beamed. "Let's see who you get."

With a shrug, the girl filled in her answers and got somebody named Dornick. While she wasn't crazy about his looks, it didn't take long for all of them to get hooked on his sleuthing minigame.

After their sixth unsuccessful collaboration, Kahoko stuck her hand in front of the screen. "Stop. No more sleuthing. It's way too hot for my brain to be working this hard."

Mio laughed in agreement. "Why don't you take a turn, Kaho-chan?"


~*~

“Yeah,” Nao agreed with a teasing smirk. “I want to see what kind of guy Kaho gets.”

Sending her a look, Kahoko took the helm. “Umm…let’s see….” She hesitantly went through the ten questions, her friends making comments along the way. As the Luv Luv Nitarou Deluxe did its little dance, she watched it intently. What kind of guy would she get?

Three pairs of eyebrows shot up as weird shoes with little bows and eighteenth century tights and leggings appeared with a red cape. What in the world?! Her horror only increased as a strange man who looked like a bad Shakespearean actor came into view.

Nao roared in laughter. “Mr. Nobody?!” With a snort she asked, “Does that mean your dream guy doesn’t exist, Kaho?”

“Be nice, Nao-chan,” Mio managed to get out amidst her giggles. “Maybe he’s not so bad.”

But oh yes, he was that bad: rhapsodizing about how wonderful and beautiful he was and forcing her to date him against her will because he incorrectly believed she was completely smitten with him; he was kind of a nightmare. Not to mention that his route was downright boring; no wonder it was only worth one star. She was so glad this was only a game; she’d be on the run for life if she dated this stalker for real. It didn’t help that Mio and Nao were dying laughing as they watched her go through her date either.

“Aww, cheer up, Kaho. Why don’t you try again? Maybe you’ll get a different guy.”

“Yeah, Kaho-chan. Different answers lead to different guys after all.”

But by some cruel twist of fate, she ended up with Mr. Nobody again. And again…and again! For about fifteen more times. After about time ten, she didn’t even suffer through the date anymore. The instant she saw those shoes, she went right for Quit. It was so mortifying!

Especially since Mio and Nao had gone from sympathetic, to disbelieving, to howling with laughter as her face got progressively more and more red from repeated sightings of Mr. Nobody.

And that’s why she was now in the school computer lab hiding out in the cool, windowless room where the scorching August sun wouldn’t bake her to a crisp. This was silly. She should be practicing. Although…the practice rooms weren’t as cool because the heat radiated in through the windows, but they did run the dehumidifiers to keep the pianos in good shape, so it wasn’t so bad, just really stuffy.

She banged her head on the desk. Mr. Nobody again. Why? Why her? She was really beginning to wonder if she was cursed.

She felt a tap on her shoulder.

“Hi, Kaho-chan!” Kazuki greeted from the other side of her computer.

“Oh,” she straightened up a little, “hello, Hihara-senpai. How are you?”

“Pretty warm,” he laughed. His smile faded. “What’s wrong, Kaho-chan? You look pretty down.” His eyes shone in concern. “Did you want to talk about it? I’m always happy to help.”


~*~

Should she tell him? Her eyes slid over to the cutesy screen, and she blushed. No way! “What brings you to the computer lab, Hihara-senpai?” she asked instead.

“Trying to cool down. I was practicing, but the sun’s so bright I was getting blinded. Not to mention roasted.” He wiped his forehead. “Actually, this is the coolest room in the school.” He gave her a friendly wink. “Though not many know it.”

She couldn’t help but smile back, and a thought suddenly came to her. “I wonder if there’s a guy like Hihara-senpai in here,” she murmured.

“Sorry, what was that?”

“Uh….” Biting her lip, she hesitantly asked, “Hihara-senpai…could you answer some…questions for me?”

“Sure.”

“Would you rather play games, read books, or do something outdoors?”

He blinked in surprise. “Uh, outdoors.”

She clicked the answer. “Would you rather have a home-cooked meal, fast food, or go to a high-class restaurant?”

“Home-cooked, definitely.”

“Favorite time of day? Morning, evening, or night.”

He thought for a few minutes before deciding, “Morning.”

“Really?” She’d expected him to like sleep as much as she did.

“Yeah,” he grinned, “the day always feels so fresh and new in the morning.”

“Heh…” she nodded with a smile. “Do you prefer natural, soft, or dark colors?”

“What does that even mean?” he asked looking extremely confused.

She laughed. Typical guy. “Umm…do you like colors you see in nature; deep, bold colors; or lighter, pale shades?”

“Uh…natural?” He still didn’t really get it.

She paused at the next question. If she were Hihara-senpai, she’d value personality the most, but wasn’t the point to not use answers she would pick herself? “Senpai, what do you think is your best feature: your personality, looks, or talents?”

“Kaho-chan, umm…why’re you asking me these things?” He looked kind of uncomfortable.

She looked away in embarrassment. “Please, just answer.”

“Erm….” He really had no clue. Finally, he mumbled with a red face, “Personality.”

Nodding to herself, she clicked it and smiled. She thought that was his best feature too. Not that he was ugly or untalented, but his cheerful optimism was a definite plus.

Next question, type of guy: strong, clever, or strange? She cocked her head. That humongous appetite and his tendency to violently react to everything were kind of strange. Click.

His appearance: cute, handsome, or taller than me? She tapped her cheek thoughtfully as she scrutinized him. He was definitely tall. Her cursor hovered over the answer when she glanced up at him again. He looked like a confused puppy. She clicked Cute.

He’s nearby, faraway, or from another dimension? Nearby.

She looked blankly at the final question before hesitantly asking, “Which best describes you: a) can do magic, b) has a strange hobby, or c) has a sad past?”

A.”

“What? Really?”

He grinned. “A couple coin tricks.”

She giggled and clicked the final answer. Hihara-senpai could do magic, who knew? She watched intently as the Luv Luv Nitarou Deluxe shook and bounced. Then, the screen whited out.


~*~

And revealed a pair of white sneakers and jeans connected to a boy wearing a backward cap and eating what looked like a meatball.  She almost screamed her excitement.  “Success!

“What’s this?”  Kazuki’s voice suddenly piped up from behind her as he leaned over her shoulder.

“Hi-Hihara-senpai!”  Busted!

He looked at her in confusion.  “Some kind of game?”

“It’s umm…an uh, dating sim,” she confessed.

His eyes bugged out.  “My answers—why would you—I mean—Do-do you think I’m gay?!”  The girl he liked had just set him up with a guy by proxy.  This was just so wrong!

“No, no, Hihara-senpai!  It’s not like that!” she protested, trying to calm him down.  “I tried to see if I could find someone in the game like you.  This is your game counterpart, not someone for you to date!  I mean, it’s not like you’re a character in a dating sim.”

“Right,” he took a deep breath and blew it out, “right.”  He looked at the screen and made a weird face.  “Zoui, huh?  He doesn’t look much like me.”

Kahoko swallowed a laugh as she took in Zoui’s shocked face.  Hihara-senpai had worn similar expressions in the past.

As she clicked through to the first selection screen, he suddenly looked interested.  “You’re the princess of FOOD Kingdom?!”  He looked like Christmas had come early.  “That’s so awesome!  Do you think they have tonkatsu sandwiches?”  She giggled when she got a similar response from Zoui.

Kazuki’s stomach growled as she clicked, “Yes, you can eat all you want!”  “Lucky Zoui,” he muttered under his breath.

She smiled.  “So, where do you think he’d like to go?”

“Where can you go?”

“The cafeteria, library, casino, romantic lookout, or forest garden.”

“To the cafeteria!”

She complied.  “Huh…looks like in this minigame, we just feed him food.”  She smiled up at him.  “Want to help me?”

“Sure!”

“So, cheese pizza or cheap pizza?”

“Cheese.”

“Fairy sushi or freaky sushi?”

Fairy sushi?”  His face was inexplicable.

She shrugged.  “Just roll with it?”

“Well freaky sushi sounds kind of scary, so I guess we’ll avoid—Kaho-chan!  Your time’s about to run out!”

“Oh no!”  She sighed as they lost and booted it up again.  They had gotten up to eight when she asked, “Choco tarts?”

“Sounds good!”

“Eek!  The meter went down to zero!”

“Ack!  And with only two seconds left!”  They both frowned as Zoui slumped as if he’d been poisoned.  Kazuki’s eyes were determined as he turned to her.  “Let’s lick this thing this time, Kaho-chan!”

She nodded.  “Right.”

“Cheese.  Fairy.  Potato.  Yogurt.”  Kazuki called out food until the 10th heart was filled with just three seconds to spare.  “We did it!”  He cheered as he threw a fist into the air.

“Hooray!”

“Give me five!”  He held up his hand.

As she returned his high-five with a laugh, a smooth, cultured voice came from the door.  “My, you two look like you’re having quite a bit of fun.  What are you doing?”

Sorry for the lack of summer imagery in this chapter.  I really needed a chapter devoted to general game play.

Zoui is one of the most common characters you can get, and his route is one of the easier ones in Other Age, so I decided to use him to help explain in detail how the game works.  I don’t think it’s a whole lot more than what the game itself gives you via the tip screens when you fail to get a good ending, but because the game creators have published a game guide, I won’t be giving out many more spoilers past this one route. The identities of the two secret (a.k.a. only one set of answers will reveal them) characters will be divulged, but if you’ve played Zeiva’s Imaginary Realm or Genetic Glow games, you’d know their names anyway, so again, not really a spoiler
.


~*~

Kazuki turned with a grin.  “Yunoki!  Your meeting’s out already?”

“Yes, it was so warm, everyone moved to adjourn early.  The air is so stagnant, even with the windows open, it was difficult to breathe.”

“That sounds awful,” she and Kazuki both shuddered, “but what brings you here, Yunoki-senpai?”

“I wanted to look up something,” the ponytailed boy answered with a smile.

“Kaho-chan, why don’t you ask Yunoki the same questions you asked me?”

“Eh?  Are you sure?”

“Of course!  I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.”

“Questions?”  Azuma frowned quizzically.

Before she could talk herself out of it, she launched into the first one.  “Ah…Yunoki-senpai, would you describe yourself as wild, playful, and easygoing; pure, gentle, and elegant; or mysterious, calm, and unpredictable?”

“A personality test?”  He gracefully arched an eyebrow.

“Just answer, Yunoki, you’ll see!”

He sighed.   “I suppose the last one.”

“Question two: would you rather play games, read books, or do something outdoors?”

“Outdoors?  In this heat?” he teased before answering.

She avoided Kazuki’s questioning look and snuck a glance at the duplicitous prince.  If Hihara-senpai knew what she knew, he’d think Yunoki-senpai was from another dimension too.

The two in the know watched intently as the machine danced, and clapped when a dashing man in armored plating appeared.  “Boo-yah!” Kazuki cheered.  “Come see your game counterpart, Yunoki!”

“Excuse me?”

Kahoko quickly explained as Azuma came around to their side.

“Wow…” Kazuki marveled as they met Ividine, “he’s just like you, Yunoki!  Purple hair and everything!  If this had happened to me, I’d be freaked out.”

Azuma chuckled, “Are you telling me your game self didn’t freak out?”

“Well…maybe a little….”

Kahoko giggled.  “He won’t tell you his name even though it’s displayed for us to see.  What an interesting person.”

Azuma glanced at her.  “Indeed.”  He chuckled.  “He is right though.  You should be careful about whom you share your identity with.”

“Did people really lose their lives by telling strangers their names, Yunoki?!” Kazuki asked in horror.

“Hmm…I wonder….”  Click.  “He was just joking.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if it were true though?”

I don’t think so.”  Kazuki shuddered.

“Where do you think they should go, Yunoki-senpai?”

“How about here?”  They watched the screens.  “A dancing contest?”  A smirk lightly played on his lips.  “Can you dance, Hino-san?”

Setting her mouth determinedly, she clicked Sure!; though in retrospect, she probably should’ve said she couldn’t dance considering how much she was scrambling to try and press the arrows before the bar filled.

After they hit the Game Over screen, Azuma laughed a bit.  “The interactions with the king and his advisor are quite amusing.”  He turned.  “Well, this was fun, but I should go.”

“Wait!”

He looked back.

“Please, can we try again, Yunoki-senpai?”  Her eyes shone in determination.  “I really want to try and beat this.”

“…Very well.”

Around and around they danced until finally….

“Alright, Kaho-chan!”

“Congratulations.”

“Thank you!  The dusk is so beautiful,” she sighed dreamily.

Then, a yawn came from behind them.  “Senpai…?”

Oh my word, Ividine’s minigame is ridiculously hard!  I had to play it so many times to get this chapter out.  Its only saving graces are that the combinations don’t change every time you have to start over and that the still at the end is so pretty.  Although, if you ask me, the princess kind of looks more interested in the money than Ividine at the end. *laughs*


~*~

Azuma smiled.  “Hello, Shimizu-kun.”

“Hello…Yunoki-senpai….”

“Sorry, did we disturb your nap?” Kazuki apologized.

“Yes…but…it was…about time…for me…to wake up….”

“Why are you sleeping in here, Shimizu-kun?” Kahoko asked.

“The air…outside…was heavy…so I felt…tired….”  He looked around slowly.  “I must have…somehow…ended up…here….”

“I see.”

He nodded solemnly.  “Heat…and…humidity…aren’t good…for cellos…because they’re made…of wood….”  A drowsy smile.  “The air…conditioning…helps….”

“Oh!  I’m glad I brought my violin here then.”  Her eyes flicked to her game.  “Umm, Shimizu-kun, would you mind helping me?”

He rubbed some of the sleep out of his eyes.  “Help…?”

She motioned to the screen.  “With this game I’m playing.”

He cocked his head.  “Senpai…likes…dating games…?”

She laughed in embarrassment.  “I guess you could say that.”

“How…must I…help…?”

“By answering some questions for me.”

“Okay….”

They went through the ten questions and up popped a wide-eyed boy with dark hair and jeans.

Kahoko beamed.  “He’s so cute!”  She turned happily to the blonde.  “How do you think I should answer, Shimizu-kun?”

“Be…straight-forward….”

“Yay!  I got a date!”  She tapped her cheek thoughtfully.  “Hmm, where should I go…?  Maybe here…?”  Her eyes widened in panic.  “A quiz?!  Oh no, I’m terrible at tests!”

“Don’t worry, Kaho-chan,” Kazuki chirped.  “We’ll help you.”  The other two nodded in agreement.

“Alright.”  Kahoko bowed.  “I’m counting on you guys.”  She turned back to the computer.  “What is the name of this game?  Oh!  That’s easy!  Other Age.  How old are you?  Uh….”

“Sixteen….”

“What is the current generation of King Mirage?  Twenty-one…?”

“No…it was…twenty-two….”

“What is the full name of the machine that is used to summon me?”

“The one…with Luv…spelled with a u….”

“Which character in Genetic Glow wears a cap?”  Click.

All correct.

Kahoko was amazed.  “Wow, Shimizu-kun!  How did you know all those?”

He blinked.  “The answers…were listed…in the opening….  I simply…remembered them….”

“Huh?”  She quickly opened another tab and started clicking through the opening.  “Oh yeah, I guess they were.”

“You have a good memory,” Azuma complimented.

He bowed.  “Thank you…Yunoki-senpai….”

She paused on number seven.  “A prison probably wouldn’t be decorated.”

“But you can’t…go…to the prison….”

“True….”  She looked at Kazuki.  “Were there…?”

“I don’t think so….”

Question 8.

“What is, ‘Nuclear Crystalite,’ Hino-san?”

“Umm?”

“Choose one…randomly….”

Question 9.

“Who?”

“Maybe…another…character from this…game….”

Question 10.

“Who are they, Kaho-chan?”

“Your guess is as good as mine.”

“We seem to have…insufficient…information….”

“Well…Zeiva Inc. made other games; maybe the answers are in there,” Kahoko suggested.

Azuma skimmed the website.  “It seems they are princes of the Demon race.”

“Which means….”  Keiichi clicked an answer.

“Drat.  We got at least one wrong,” Kazuki pouted at the Game Over screen.

“Shall we try…again…?”

Six tries later, they finally got to the third round.

“Hihara-senpai?”

“Uh…eeny, meeny, miny, moe….”

The third heart filled.  Success!

“Yay!” Kahoko clapped happily.

“We rule!”

“Apparently Lenz thinks we’re geniuses,” Azuma chuckled.

“Well…done…everyone…!”

A stern voice cut their celebration short.  “Do you intend to continue this racket?  I’m currently suffering from a heat-induced headache and the noise is aggravating it.”

Hmm...Keiichi's chapter had more spoiler-ish things in it than I would've liked, but since Lenz's minigame is a quiz, the only way you can show characters working together is by going over the questions. XD

~*~

“Oh!  Sorry, Tsukimori-kun,” Kahoko apologized to the boy standing in the doorway.  “Are you not feeling well?”

“No, I’m not.”

“Perhaps you should lie down in the nurse’s office,” Azuma suggested.

“It’s like an oven in there, so she advised I come here.”

Keiichi pointed to the row where he had been napping.  “There is…a good resting place…there…Tsukimori-senpai.”

Len nodded tersely and strode over.  “Thank you.”

The four looked at each other as he lay down.  None of them wanted to leave the cool sanctuary, but what could they do that wouldn’t disturb him?

Len’s voice floated over from behind the computers.  “I don’t intend to sleep.”

Kazuki grinned.  “In that case, would you consider yourself wild, playful, and easygoing; pure, gentle, and elegant; or mysterious, calm, and unpredictable?”

Kahoko looked at him in alarm.  How would Tsukimori-kun take to being made into a dating sim character?

“I beg your pardon?”

“Please…answer…senpai….”

“I don’t see why.”

They looked over at Azuma who simply smiled and selected the third one.

“Would you rather play games, read books, or do something outdoors?” Kazuki continued.

“Is there a point to this?”

Kahoko’s mouth fell open when Azuma punched in Playing Game.

This continued for the rest of the quiz with Kazuki asking questions and Azuma selecting answers for questions Len wouldn’t answer, some more tongue-in-cheek than others.  With each one, Azuma’s companions were a mixture of horrified, cracking up, and quietly amused.

Kahoko started when a new character actually popped up.  She couldn’t help but think that Mr. Nobody should’ve popped up for the personality profile of a person that didn’t exist.

“He’s rather reticent, isn’t he?” Azuma chuckled as Kahoko clicked through the conversation.

Kazuki shivered.  “This is a little creepy.  Even though we were joking around, they’re like twins.”

“Indeed….”

“Darn it,” Kahoko pouted.  “He walked away.”

“What are you four doing?”

They all jumped.  Kazuki and Kahoko guiltily tried to hide the screen.

“Hino….”

“Well, uh, it’s-it’s like this, Tsukimori-kun….”

Five minutes later, he stared at Mystery Man with an unreadable expression.  “I see.”

As he watched on, Kahoko plugged in her answers.  “How would Tsukimori-kun react to this?” became her mantra.  She smiled up at him.  “Where to, Tsukimori-kun?”

“Anywhere but the casino, I suppose.”

“A maze….  That sounds…interesting….”

“Look!  A note!”

“What does it say?”

Len snorted.  “Keep clicking one direction?  That hardly sounds like a maze.”

“There’s…another note….”

They all stared at the screen inexplicably.

“Elephants like water…?” Kazuki finally asked in bewilderment.

“That’s supposed to be helpful?” Len muttered.

“Perhaps…you head…toward water…?”

“Seems reasonable,” Azuma agreed.

“Where is the water, Hino?”

“Uh…in Mio’s minigame, I think it was this way….”

Len pursed his lips at the Game Over in displeasure.

To play again or not to play again?  Play again, of course (multiple times).

“Alright!”

“How pretty!”

“Well…done….”

“That was more difficult than expected.”

“You cut it quite close, Hino-san.”

“Huh?  Why’re you all here?”

The five looked up to see Ryoutaro standing in the doorway.

This 500 word limit per chapter is really starting to kill me.  So many words I wanted to use but can’t…. *sigh*

Mystery Man’s minigame is also pretty difficult, although not nearly as bad as Ividine’s in my opinion.  I remember the first time I saw that note about the elephant, my reaction was similar to Len’s.  It was like, “What the heck?!  What does that have to do with anything?!”  Anywho, running around the forest was all worth it because like Ividine’s route you are rewarded with a very pretty picture at the end. (^__^)v

~*~

Len flushed.  “None of your business.”  Of all the people to catch him watching a dating sim!

Sensing danger, Kahoko quickly asked, “Did you come from soccer, Tsuchiura-kun?”

Ryoutaro frowned.  “Yeah, our sadist of a captain made us practice despite how freaking miserable and oppressive it is out there.”

“Well, you’re more than welcome to join us in the air conditioning, Tsuchiura-kun.”  Azuma smiled.

Keiichi looked sidelong at Kahoko.  “Will you ask…Hino-senpai…?”

“Yeah!”  Kazuki bounced.  “Ask!  Ask!”

“Ask what?”

Kahoko blushed, “We-ell…you see….”  Soon, they all huddled around the screen as it flashed white.  “Oh!  Survivor!”  She clapped happily.

“Doesn’t it say his name is Neody?”  Ryoutaro raised an eyebrow.

“No, that’s his minigame,” Kahoko explained.  “Here, I’ll show you.”

“Wow…your game is hard, Tsuchiura,” Kazuki observed in awe as she ran around the forest scavenging.

After she was done mooning over the fireflies, Ryoutaro rubbed his neck in embarrassment.  “Ah, Hino, why’d you ask us these questions?  Couldn’t you have just filled it in yourself?”

“I’d like to know that as well,” Len agreed.

“Me…too….”

“He does raise a valid point.”

“Yeah, why, Kaho-chan?”

She blushed and said in a small voice, “Because I didn’t want to get Mr. Nobody again.”

Blank looks.

She timidly punched in a new set of answers and cringed at the dreaded shoes.  “Him.”

The room was silent for a few seconds.  Then, a snicker escaped.  A smothered guffaw.  And finally, they all began laughing.

“You certainly know how to pick them, Hino-san,” Azuma chuckled.

“That’s not even the worst of it!”  She showed them.

Len looked irritated.  “Why don’t you tell him to go away?”

“I have, but—wait a second,” she frowned after randomly clicking an answer, “are those…boxing gloves?”  Her mouth dropped open in shock.  “He has a different minigame?!”

“Punch Mr. Nobody as fast as you can in 10 seconds?”  Ryoutaro smirked.  “Now that’s more like it!”

“Ding, ding!” Kazuki cried as she clicked FIGHT!.

The room was filled with cheers, groans, and a lot of backseat boxing as she tried to follow those blue arrows around and around to knock Mr. Nobody out.

Just when she was losing it again on her eighth try, Ryoutaro impatiently slipped his hand under hers and started tapping the keys as fast as he could in an attempt to salvage the match.  “Almost had him!” he cursed.

“Hardly,” Len sniffed.  “You were still down about six hearts.”

“Think you can do better violin boy?”

Len took the controls.  Six hearts.

“Lemme!” Kazuki said eagerly.  He got him down to seven.  Then, Azuma punched him down to four.  Ryoutaro knocked him down to three, which Len and Kazuki then matched.

“Hit ‘im right in the kisser, senpai!”

“Go, Yunoki, go!”

“Left, no, right.  Up.”

Almost…there….

“Wow, Shimizu-kun!  I can’t believe you did it on your first try!”

“Huh?”  They all turned to see Kahoko with Keiichi at a different computer.

“We’ve saved the kingdom!” she cheered.

“Yes…we beat him…and the heat…” Keiichi laughed quietly.

The End

That 500 word limit was annoying here too.  Probably because I had to juggle six characters, so I couldn’t describe their expressions much.  It kind of bugged me. =/ But enough about that.  We’re finally done! =D

Yeah, so that’s the end of my little story. (^_^) I hope you enjoyed it.  It was mostly born out of the desire to have dating sim characters play a dating sim. XD I thought it would be amusing.  I don’t know why, but when the prompt was announced, this was the first plot idea that popped into my head, so then the challenge became tying it in with summer. *laughs* Kind of backward, right? =)

I don’t know if anyone could tell or not, but I tried to write this story in such a way that each chapter could flow right into the next to make a single one-shot.  If you would like to see it in one-shot form, you can find the link here: http://tentsubasa.livejournal.com/11867.html. =)

Fathers and Daughters: I Loved Her First

Summary: A collection of three stories in honor of Father's Day, obviously focusing on the relationship between fathers and daughters because, well, I'm a girl. It is Kazuki Hihara x Kahoko Hino, but the stories center more on the relationships between the fathers and their daughters than the one between the two of them.

Category: Anime: La Corda D'Oro
Rating: K+
Language: English
Genre: Family/Romance
Chapters: 1
Words: 3,720
Follows: 0
Favorites: 1
Reviews: 1
Published: 6/16/2013
Updated: 6/16/2013
Main Characters: Kazuki Hihara, Kahoko Hino
Status: In Progress

These are three songs that I wish I had been able to use at my own wedding in some capacity, but wasn't able to. I think the decisions my husband and I made were for the best though, so I'm glad I can do something special with them even if it's a couple years later. (^_^)

I hope you will enjoy them! I just bawled my eyes out listening to them over and over again as I was writing. I hope you will be touched by these beautiful songs with their clean, meaningful lyrics set to simple music that tugs at your heart.

Leading us off this Father's Day will be Kahoko Hino and her father to Heartland's "I Loved Her First." This was a song that my friend used as her father-daughter dance, and it was the first song that ever made me think about what song I would want to have as my father-daughter dance song in the future.

Youtube:

Youtube Alternative: http://www.yallwire.com/player/heartlandilovedherfirst.html (If it adds a bitrate blah blah blah thing after the provided URL, delete it. For some reason it made the video not load for me.)

Thoughts will be in italics within quotes and song lyrics will be in bold.

Disclaimer: I do not own Kiniro no Corda, the songs used in this story, or any of their affiliates.
==========================================

Takeo Hino's eyes were solemn as they watched his daughter and her boyfriend standing together under the tangerine tree in the backyard.

"Come away from the door," his wife scolded.

He simply shook his head, his eyes not leaving the pair for a second. They narrowed slightly. "He's going to do it."

Ryouko frowned. "Even more reason for you to not watch them."

Ignoring her, he suddenly chuckled. "He's botching it." He could tell even without hearing them.

His other two children and their spouses joined him on the porch.

"Would he be Hihara-kun if he weren't?" Shou smirked.

Noriko laughed and motioned her mother to join them. "Mom, you have to see this. The look on Kaho's face is priceless."

"I don't think I've ever seen her look so confused," Noriko's husband agreed with a chuckle.

"Give them some privacy," Ryouko scolded, though she was also sneaking glances over her shoulder at the pair.

"Oh! Looks like he's really panicking now," Shou laughed as the green-haired youth outside began windmilling his arms around in all directions as if by doing so, he could somehow erase the last ten seconds of his life. They all agreed the tall boy's face had reached an all-new level of red.

Takeo's gaze sharpened when understanding dawned in his daughter's eyes. Then, with a creeping blush on her cheeks, she placed a quieting finger on his lips and murmured something to him.

Everyone held their breaths as he abruptly dropped onto both knees and held out a small, open box to the girl in question with hands that trembled uncontrollably.

And released them when a smile more beautiful than the first day of spring bloomed across her face.

Takeo's eyes stung as the boy ecstatically hoisted his Kahoko into the air and began to spin her around like a crazy person as she laughed.

Look at the two of you dancing that way

His smile turned bittersweet as the spins came to a slow, lazy halt, the young man gently lowering the young woman back to the ground and leaning his forehead sweetly against hers.

Lost in the moment and each other's face

Everyone's hearts stopped when his shaky butterfingers lost the ring, and resumed again when the diamond solitaire triumphantly caught the soft moonlight.

So much in love you're alone in this place

With a shy smile, she joined him on the ground, and he took her hand and slipped the delicate, sparkling band on her finger.

Like there's nobody else in the world

After everyone had left, Takeo sat with an old photo album open on his lap. While Kahoko's life was not as well documented as the other two's—understandable seeing as she was the youngest—there was still a large number of pictures of her due to his and his wife's complimentary interests in photography and scrapbooking. He smiled softly as he flipped through the pages. Playing dress-up with her sister. Learning to swim. Her first sleepover party at age ten. A silly picture where they took pictures of each other taking the picture. When he was looking over Kahoko's unsuccessful attempts to conquer bicycle riding, he heard a soft bump and low moan of pain.

He got up with a concerned furrow in his brow and walked over to the stairs where his daughter was rubbing her ankle. "You okay?" he asked quietly.

"Yeah," she responded, "just missed the last couple of steps."

"Ice?"

"Please?" She gave him an embarrassed smile.

I was enough for her not long ago

He chuckled and headed for the kitchen. He expertly pulled down the ice and wrapped it up. Kahoko had always been kind of clumsy, so he'd had to take care of a lot of bumps, scrapes, and cuts over the years. Between her and Shou, their home had had a constant need for first aid. It was amusing, exasperating, and occasionally, like the time she had broken her leg, frightening. His lips thinned. He was grateful there had only been a couple of times that he'd had to rush her to the hospital like that.

When he came back into the room, he saw that she had navigated her way to the couch and was looking through a more recent photo album. His eyes softened as he watched her. Even the physical pain couldn't dim the happy glow. As he sat down beside her, he handed her the pack. "Ice."

"Thanks, Dad."

His eyes twinkled as she iced her ankle. "It's a good thing Hihara-kun plays sports. Klutzy as you are, he's going to have his work cut out for him." His lips twitched in response when she made a face at him, and his eyes went solemn. "So what brings you down here? Can't sleep?"

"Nope," she shook her head, "too excited."

He looked down at the album. "Even though I knew he might ask you tonight, it's still a bit of a shock."

"I'm not sure if I should be insulted," she mock-pouted. "Did you think I'd never get married?"

He shrugged and flipped to photos of her twentieth birthday party. "I admit your mother and I wondered about it a bit. All those boys came to your party and you claimed you weren't interested in any of them like that."

I was her number one

"What did I need them for?" she joked as she leaned her head companionably on his shoulder. "I had you."

She told me so

His lips quirked. "You've certainly changed your tune since then." His eyes went pensive again. "Has it really only been seven years?"

Kahoko smiled softly as she traced the contours of her beloved's face in the photograph. "A lot has changed, hasn't it?"

And she still means the world to me just so you know

He grinned and teased, "I'll say. What happened to my innocent little girl who always got flustered around boys?" He chuckled at her embarrassed look. "And now here you are getting married to one."

She bowed her head with a blush and admitted, "It's a little hard for me to wrap my head around too."

"Oh?"

"I was always kind of slow when it came to the romance department."

"Unlike Noriko."

"Yeah. She had boyfriends in high school and college." Kahoko smiled a little wistfully. "Honestly, I kind of wanted to be like her and find someone then too, but there was never anyone I was interested in. Then I met all of them as a second-year, and there were too many choices." She blushed a little more deeply. "Not that I thought of it like that; I mean I was also introduced to music, and that was where I started channeling all of my energy." Her fingers continued to draw invisible patterns on the album. "So, romance and boys took a backseat."

"What changed?"

"I don't really know. I don't think I became less passionate about music or anything," she shrugged. "I just started noticing that I had feelings that couldn't be safely classified as friendship."

He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer. "Is that why you chose him?"

So be careful when you hold my girl

Now she looked a strange mixture of confused and guilty. "Not exactly. For some reason, I was having feelings like that pop up at random times with everyone. It was actually really confusing."

He raised an eyebrow. This was the first he was hearing of this. He suddenly felt a little sorry for Hihara-kun. It sounded like it had been a pretty long and rough road for the poor guy, not to mention the others.

Her face glowed softly from within as she looked down at the photographs. "But whenever I was down and needed someone to help pick me up, I'd go to him. He always knew how to make me happy again, whether it be by talking, eating something yummy, winning a plushy for me from a claw machine, or what, I would never leave his company without a smile." Her eyes gentled. "And as time went by, I found myself seeking happiness more and more."

Time changes everything

She smiled beautifully as a misty rose suffused her cheeks. "Then, one day, I realized I was in love."

He smiled and kissed her lightly on the forehead. "I'm glad."

The two talked and laughed for a little longer as they flipped through the pages of time.

Life must go on

He paused and contemplated a picture from a couple weeks prior. Though no one else knew it, that had been the day Hihara-kun had asked him for her hand. He shook his head. While he had known it would be Hihara-kun if it was going to be anyone, considering that it had taken the guy nine years to confess and for them to start dating, he was not expecting the boy to come to him not even a year-and-a-half later asking if he could marry his daughter. That Takeo was floored would be the understatement of the century.

And I'm not gonna stand in your way

A soft snore pulled him back from his thoughts, and he chuckled quietly when he saw that she had dropped off next to him. He smiled gently and picked her up. With a contented little sigh, she curled up and snuggled her head on his shoulder.

But I loved her first, and I held her first

As he slowly mounted the steps up to her room, he looked down at his little girl. How many times had he made this same trek over the years? If she was tired enough, she'd drop off to sleep anywhere regardless of what she was doing.

And a place in my heart will always be hers

He laid her down on her bed and tucked the covers under her chin like he had when she was little. Her breathing ebbed and flowed in a steady, even rhythm.

From the first breath she breathed

He brushed a hand tenderly on her head and bent down to drop a kiss on it. His eyes softened as she snuggled into her pillow and succumbed to the land of dreams with a shadow of a smile on her lips.

When she first smiled at me

He paused as he turned to leave and slipped over to a collection of picture frames filled with her sunny smile at various stages of life. He still remembered each and every one perfectly, the moments etched into his memory like the cut of a diamond on clear glass.

I knew the love of a father runs deep

He picked up Kahoko's favorite picture of her and Hihara-kun, and in the blink of an eye, Takeo was escorting her down the aisle of the church toward her soon-to-be husband and her new life with him.

And I prayed that she'd find you someday

Well, he was, but he wasn't. It was only the rehearsal, so instead of the formal attire they'd be wearing tomorrow, everyone was dress casual. And he wasn't actually giving her away quite yet, he thought with somewhat relieved sigh. That would come tomorrow. His eyes went slightly unfocused. Tomorrow…it was so soon.

But it's still hard to give her away

Kahoko squeezed his hand to bring him back to the present and beamed up at him. "Isn't this wonderful? I can't believe it!" her eyes sparkled.

He smiled gently and proudly and squeezed her hand in return.

I loved her first

The officiant showed the two of them how they'd stand and explained very seriously the order of ceremony and when they were to speak and where they were to stand, etc., etc.. They were both understandably nervous, but their happy excitement shone like a beacon.

How could that beautiful woman with you

A wistful look filled his eyes as Takeo looked at the two adults hold hands in preparation for the morrow. Who would have thought that itty-bitty girl who was always clumsily following after her older siblings would have bloomed into the beautiful, confident young woman before him?

Be the same freckle-faced kid that I knew

His eyes glazed over a bit as memories and moments rushed past him in a steady stream. Like how six-year-old Kahoko had always insisted that he read the same fairy tale bedtime story over and over again. First it had been "The Magic Tea Kettle." Then a few months later it moved to "The Princess and the Cowherd." And so on and so forth until he had practically all of Japanese folklore committed to memory.

The one that I read all those fairy tales to

And how he and his wife would have to come in and fix the covers in the middle of the night because she had kicked them off, or how she'd come to him in the night begging him to come and chase away the goblins lurking at the windows.

And tucked into bed all those nights

His gaze moved over to his soon-to-be son-in-law as his amber eyes brimmed with love and adoration. He smiled. He really loved her.

And I knew the first time I saw you with her

When she had first brought him home, she claimed that he was only a friend. And perhaps she believed that he was, but you'd have to be both deaf and blind (or just Kahoko) to not see that he wanted to be far more than just her friend.

It was only a matter of time

Of course, only the two of them couldn't tell that Kahoko felt the same. He swallowed a chuckle and felt a quietly mournful sense of loss overtake him. Tomorrow he would be happy, but for now, he'd take a moment to acknowledge that even if his daughter would always be a little girl in his eyes, in reality, she was a little girl no longer.

But I loved her first, and I held her first

He watched his youngest and remembered the first time he had held her in that hospital room. She had been the first to inherit the golden irises from his side of the family. He had been tickled pink when she opened those large eyes and blearily blinked back at him.

And a place in my heart will always be hers

And as he stood there holding her, he was humbled and amazed again that he could instantly love another human being as completely as he loved his other two children. She was perfect, just like the other two, from the top of her head to the tips of those ten itty-bitty toes.

From the first breath she breathed

She yawned and snuggled up to him as he watched in wonder like he'd never seen a baby sleep before. Pride, joy, awe, tenderness, and love washed over him. She was beautiful.

When she first smiled at me

~*~

The next morning flew by like a blur until everything slowly slid into focus as father and daughter stood outside the closed chapel doors.

"Ready?" Kahoko asked as she slipped her arm into her father's with a radiant smile.

He gave a deep nod and squeezed her hand. "Let's do this."

The two stepped as one toward the doors, and they gave way before them. Heads swiveled to the back like the ripple of the wind across the water. And as the first strains of the processional began, people rose up around them.

Takeo slid his eyes over to the vision in white beside him and felt a smile tug at his lips.

I knew the love of a father runs deep

His eyes moved up front to see Kazuki-san as he watched his daughter approach, then back to her as she gazed straight into his eyes. It was all there for the world to see. All the joy, confidence, and eagerness to start a life with the person they loved; their faces lit up with their youthful promises and dreams.

And I prayed that she'd find you someday

As Kazuki-san's eyes met his, he went military straight and snapped into a deep bow as if his body had become some kind of table. Takeo hadn't realized anyone could actually get his back that flat. With a chuckle and an amused glance at his daughter, he bowed as well. She giggled and tapped the young man on the shoulder, her face glowing with a gentle happiness. And when their eyes met, his face flushed with unadulterated joy.

But it's still hard to give her away

Takeo took in all these things with a slightly sad nod of approval. Then, with a squeeze of her hand, he passed it to his and stepped away.

I loved her first

As he watched his daughter give her vows, he could see a shadow of the little Kahoko of years past overlay itself on the radiant beauty in white. They smiled and laughed before his eyes.

From the first breath she breathed

Takeo felt a lump in his throat as Kazuki-san slipped on the ring that would make her his. The shadows of the girl melted away to give way for the woman as she slid his ring on in turn.

When she first smiled at me

He clapped loudly and proudly as the ceremony ended. She had moved forward into a new life and family. They belonged to each other now.

I knew the love of a father runs deep

~*~

Takeo's lips quirked as he watched Kazuki-san wear a rut in the linoleum floor of the hospital waiting room two years later. He would pace for a bit, look at the clock, sigh, stare at the door, repeat. The guy was so nervous he accidentally grabbed another man's pipe and blew into it like it was a trumpet. Takeo might've felt bad for the guy if it hadn't been so hilarious. But he could sympathize with him; after all, he himself remembered the mixed feelings of anxiety and excitement well.

Someday you might know what I'm going through

After a sixteen-hour battle, Takeo smiled with his arm around his wife as he watched the new parents: Kahoko tired but her face glowing with joy and pride, and the familiar awe crossing Kazuki-san's face as he gingerly held his newborn daughter.

When a miracle smiles up at you

Centering the little family of three in the frame, Takeo adjusted the lens. His eyes met Kahoko's as she cooed over her newborn, and she beamed at him. He grinned back. "Ready?"

"Yup." She nodded and held up the newborn. "Smile for the camera, Kanae."

Snap.

I loved her first
==================================

I realized after I had written most of this that Kahoko's dad is kind of an original character. (x_x) But I feel like even if he was off-screen, he very likely existed since Kahoko's mother is a housewife, so maybe he's not completely an original character. "I Loved Her First" is very definitely a song from the father's point of view, so I tried to fit in Kahoko where I could, but I felt like this story couldn't be told from her point of view in this case. *shrugs*

I also took some inspiration from Chuck Wick's "Stealing Cinderella," which is a father-daughter song told from the point-of-view of the future son-in-law. The future son-in-law goes to talk with the girl's father to ask for permission to marry his daughter and he sees a bunch of pictures of his girlfriend as she's growing up. The two talk, and he realizes that in the father's eyes, the daughter is still his little girl, not the young woman that the man sees, and that while she may love him, to his future father-in-law, he's stealing away his little girl. Give it a listen if you want. =)
Youtube:

Youtube Alternative: http://www.cmt.com/videos/chuck-wicks/183163/stealing-cinderella.jhtml

The next song will go up on June 25th, my wedding anniversary, with the final installation to appear on July 5th, the last day of my honeymoon. I'm going for all sentimental dates here. =P

Lists

Summary: Manami Mori has always found lists to be useful, but can they help her make a new friend?

Category: Anime: La Corda D'Oro
Rating: K
Language: English
Genre: Friendship
Chapters: 1
Words: 2,407
Follows: 0
Favorites: 0
Reviews: 1
Published: 4/23/2013
Updated: 4/23/2013
Main Characters: Manami Mori, Ryoutaro Tsuchiura
Status: Complete

Hello. This was also written for a story swap with jervaulx. I suppose if other people want to do story swaps with me, then I'm game (unless you want a Len x Kahoko/Tsukimori x Hino).

Manami plays a couple of songs, so here're some links just so you can know what they sound like even if she won't be playing them as well as this.

Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rapsody No. 2 in C# minor.

Franz Schubert's Fantasia in F minor, Op. 103, D. 940.

Disclaimer: I do not own Kiniro no Corda or any affiliates.
=================================================

Manami Mori liked lists. Bulleted, numbered, long, or short—she liked them all. She was a girl who knew what she wanted and had the smarts and determination to get it. And lists helped her keep her goals clearly in mind. Outlines were too nit-picky on the details and flowcharts weren't flexible enough for her; she was organized, not fussy. She kept a list of songs to practice tucked into her music folder, lists of homework assignments and their due dates in her books, a list of her chores pinned to the refrigerator—you get the idea.

But if you thought she had a lot of lists already, you haven't seen anything yet. The majority of the lists she kept were mental. They were highly varied in subject matter ranging from the mundane to the whimsically fanciful to just being downright weird. Some, like her list of things she wanted to accomplish in life, she took out often to review, update, and edit. Others, such as her list of weird foods she disliked, she generally tried to not take out if she could help it. At the moment, as she stood outside of Minami Instruments, the only list she expected to revise was her mental list of music shops in the area. But fate had other plans in mind.

When she walked in, a cheerful chime sounded somewhere above her head. That was expected. What was unexpected were the waves of live piano sweeping through the store and crashing on her ears like the ocean against a breaker. Not even thirty seconds went by before her heart skipped a beat. She recognized this playing style. Peeking cautiously around the corner, she was met by the sight of one Ryoutaro Tsuchiura playing on a baby grand.

She watched in silence as she contemplated him. Unfortunately, her list of things she knew about him was far shorter than she would like.

- Second-year General Studies student: Class 2-5
- Member of the Soccer Club: Forward
- 181cm (or somewhere around there; quite tall at any rate)
- Dark green hair in a conservative cut
- Dark gold eyes
- Refreshing smile
- Has a rivalry with Len Tsukimori
- Willing to help people out
- Generally good-natured
- Plays the piano
- Took second place in the music competition
- Has a temper
- Smart

And…that was about it. She supposed she could add that he played piano here in this shop, but how often? Was this a one-time thing and she just happened to walk in here in time to listen to this performance?

"May I help you with anything?"

She started slightly and turned toward the voice. Before her stood a thin older man with wire-rim glasses and an apron. "He must work here."

"Oh, are you a friend of Ryou's?" he asked, noticing her uniform. He smiled. "Why don't I get him for you." Before she could open her mouth to protest, the man called out, "Ryou, you've got a visitor."

The boy looked up and slid his eyes over to the sheepish-looking girl. His eyebrows raised in mild surprise. "Oh, hey there."

"Hello Tsuchiura-kun." She looked a bit rueful as she pushed a lock of golden-brown hair behind her ear. "I'm sorry for disturbing your practice."

"It's fine," he shrugged, standing to walk toward her. "Did you need help finding something?"

"Not really. I found this shop just a few minutes ago and wanted to poke around. Then I heard you playing and got distracted."

"I see." Giving her a friendly smile, he turned back toward the piano. "Let us know if there's anything you need."

"Ryou…aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?" the older man asked archly.

"Oh, right." This was probably the first time she had ever seen Tsuchiura-kun look apologetic. It was kind of cute. "This is Mori. She was Hino's accompanist in the music competition."

"Ah, I see." The man nodded deeply. "I'm the owner of this shop, Minami. It's a pleasure to meet you Mori-san."

"It's nice to meet you too Minami-san."

He smiled kindly. "As Ryou said, let us know if you need anything."

"Thank you, I will."

As she wandered through the shop, she reviewed the new information she'd gathered.

1. Apparently Tsuchiura-kun came here often, or had in the past, based on how familiar he was with the shop owner.
2. Minami-san seemed to be a family friend of some sort.
3. Since Tsuchiura-kun wasn't helping Minami-san with anything related to the shop really, he must come here mostly to just play. She couldn't blame him; I mean it was a baby grand. It wasn't everyday you had easy access to one, especially as a General Studies student.

Suddenly getting an idea, she searched the shelves for some music. Then, armed with two scores, she emerged to see the two men taking a coffee break. She smiled to herself. "Perfect." It seemed like things were working out nicely for her little plan to try and get closer to him.

Now Manami was not a schemer; she was simply methodical, deliberate, and driven. When she chose to do something, she wanted to see it through to the end or at least as far as she could go. And if that was the case, it usually helped if you had a plan of some sort so you could follow the steps. If you think about it, plans are a kind of list, and she believed in lists.

"Find something?" Ryoutaro asked, turning around as he heard her come up behind.

"I think so." Turning her attention to Minami-san, she said, "I was wondering if I could try them out though."

"Of course," he nodded and motioned to the piano. "Help yourself."

Siting herself and adjusting the seat, she laid out the first score and did a couple quick warm-ups. The piano was in good repair. The keys were neither too sticky nor did they yield too easily beneath her fingers; she was quite pleased. From there, she launched straight into Liszt's Hungarian Rapsody No. 2 in C# minor. Now she was better at sight-reading than playing by ear, but that by no means meant that she could flawlessly play a piece the first time she looked at it, especially if it was as technically demanding as this one. That being said, she had yet to meet a song where she couldn't get a pretty decent gist of how it went the first time around.

Now this part wasn't too bad. Oops! That was a sharp, not a natural. She went back and fixed it, playing it a couple of times to cement the proper sound in her head before continuing. Ooh, interesting. She picked her way carefully around the fingering. As she worked through the song, she snuck glances at the pair by the counter every so often, and was pleased to see that they were listening attentively. Bolstered by the knowledge that she had caught his attention, she finished the song with a flourish.

Both of them clapped.

"You're quite talented," Minami-san complimented. "Most people can't play it that fluently the first time around."

Ryoutaro nodded in agreement. "Now that I think about it, I think this is the first time I've heard her play solo."

"Thank you," she grinned and inclined her head deeply in acknowledgement. Putting the music aside, she murmured aloud, "I think that should work nicely for my upcoming exam."

"Got a practical or something?"

She smiled back at her fellow schoolmate. "In a couple of months."

"You start early."

"I don't like to procrastinate." Her piercing blue eyes were just a touch defiant.

A smile tugged at his lips. "I see. The other one for the same practical?"

"Nope," she held it up, "this is for fun."

Both men's eyebrows winged up in surprise.

"Franz Schubert's Fantasia in F minor, Op. 103, D. 940? Isn't that a duet?" the older man pushed his glasses up his nose.

"I'm attending a four-hands piano event at the community center next month," she explained. "Pianists of all ages come to just play and have fun hearing new songs and connecting with other musicians. Each duo is supposed to play their favorite four-hands piece as part of an informal competition/concert. Some of them are original compositions by local composers in the area. It's kind of like a free-for-all master class, concert, competition, and networking session."

"That sounds quite interesting Mori-san."

"It should be." She laughed, "Although I wonder how many of the kids will play Heart and Soul."

Ryoutaro shuddered. "Maybe not so interesting."

She shrugged. "I'm sure the rest of it would make up for that."

Okay, small talk, check. Now for the next step.

"Actually…are you busy right now, Tsuchiura-kun?"

"Not really."

"Would you be able to play this with me? I'd like to know how it sounds. Since it's four-hands…" she trailed off.

"Oh, yeah, sure." He set down his mug and walked over.

"Thanks," she grinned as she spread out the music. "Have you played this before?"

"No," his eyes lit up with the fire of a challenge, "but that makes it more interesting."

She chuckled. "Indeed. High or low?"

"I'll take the lower half," he said as he sat down on her left and warmed up a little.

He started off, the fluid notes flowing out of the instrument with a grave, pensive air to them. She then joined, her staccato lightly tripping over and around his as if inviting them to perform an intricate dance.

Despite both of them making a lot of mistakes and having to stop and restart a lot as they moved from section to section and when they turned the page, she recognized an undeniable fact: he was good. He was really, really good. Not that she didn't think so before, but it's one thing to play a song that you've been practicing a lot and quite another to play something you've never seen before in your life, especially something as fine as this Schubert piece. And he did both masterfully. His playing showed a strong physicality. There was a firm connection between his deep thinking about the music and his articulation. It excited her to be playing something this challenging with him.

As the final notes faded into nothingness, Ryoutaro nodded approvingly at her. "You know your stuff."

"Piano is my forte, you know," she tossed back with a laugh.

He shrugged with that easy smile of his that felt like a cool drink on a hot and humid day. As he folded up the music, he looked at it with a slight crinkle of wistfulness around the eyes. "It's a great piece. If you and your partner get this down, you'll cream the competition for sure."

There was the opening she was looking for. She took a calming breath and responded, "Actually, I don't have a partner yet." She gave him a friendly smile and crossed her fingers (and a few toes). "Would you be willing to consider playing with me? It would really help me out, and I'd really recommend going to one of these events at some point if you haven't in the past."

He leaned back and scrutinized the music in his hands. "It would be challenging to perform this, and the event sounds pretty interesting. But do I have time?" He thought about it some more. He supposed he did. He nodded with a grin. "Sounds good, partner."

"Great!" She barely managed to keep the excitement in her voice to an acceptable level. It wouldn't do for him to think she was some sort of weird fangirl. Taking the music from him, she walked her purchases up to the counter and had them rung up while they worked out a practice schedule. Then, with a smile, she took her leave. "Well, it's getting late, so I'd better get going. It was nice to meet you, Minami-san. I'll see you at school, Tsuchiura-kun."

"Wait," Ryoutaro glanced out the window, "it's pretty dark. I'll walk you home."

"It's fine; I don't live that far from here."

"I'd feel better if I saw you home."

Chivalrous," she added to her mental list of things she knew about him. A small smile ghosted over her lips. Certainly not a bad trait at all. "Well, alright then." She bowed graciously. "Thank you very much."

As she waited for him to finish closing up the piano, she looked at him and smiled, adding walking home together to her list of things to do that day. She was really looking forward to having more days like this one.
==================================

And that's a wrap. Since Manami doesn't really show up in the anime and there's very little written about her in the memory book, I don't really know if she could be considered in character here. I suppose it would've been safer to make a story mostly from Ryoutaro's point of view in that case, but I can get into girls' heads better than boys', so…this is how it turned out. (^^; ) Since jervaulx is almost the authority on Manami Mori, I shall bow to her superior judgement. (^_~)

I hope you liked it jervaulx, sorry if it wasn't that romantic, but there's plenty of room for potential. (^_^)