Ui loves her Onee-Chan and in this framed photograph from high school, she and Yui are playing music together. Ui plays the Castanets and Yui her Gibson Les Paul Standard—also known as Gita!
Last time: The story of the destruction of friendships and the discomfort shared by Ritsu and Mio. Now, K-ON!!!! Continues with Yui and Ui on a lighter note and dinner with guests at Mio’s, enjoy!
“All my dreams, pass before my eyes, a curiosity…” ‘Kansas.’
Sakuragaoka High School had gone through very few changes throughout the years since Yui and her friends had graduated. The only real noticeable change was how the building and grounds were aging and that the teaching staff was getting younger and older at the same time.
A few retirements had occurred and with that there was now the availability of positions for a certain pair of girls who were part of the alma mater. To Sawako Yamanaka’s sigh, Yui, and to a much lesser extent, Ui both had left the Kindergarten that they spent the first few years of their careers—Yui wanted to play with children for the rest of her life, but even she couldn’t turn down the chance to teach at the high school in which she loved so much.
Ui had followed Yui for most of her life, from primary school to junior high and then high school, from there she entered the same university and although always a year behind, she took her courses in education so she could follow in her Onee-Chan’s footsteps.
Sawako wasn’t sure how much she had wanted Yui to be part of the staff, even as a junior to her, but those were simply her thoughts of Yui before entering the university, she knew very well that Yui had become a different person, most of this caused by Ritsu and Mio, not to mention Azusa. Yui was still goofy and fun-loving, however there was this very serious side that had become engraved with-in her mind that wasn’t caused by maturity, it was caused by the severe changes of her closest friends where at one time Yui just considered each of them who they were and that was that, but now something drastic had occurred. Mio couldn’t leave her home, Ritsu had cheated and was kicked out of the college and Azusa…was paralyzed; caused by something that should never have happened.
Ui had shared an apartment with Yui and her presence was always welcome, because sometimes, Yui needed her stronger, younger sister there by her side. Ui had harbored a lot of the pain that she felt towards Azusa only by knowing that she was in good hands with Jun did she remain as cheerful as she could—however, it had made her sister complex more severe and she hung off of Yui far more than she used to in her younger days. Her attachment to Yui however, had also helped her to feel for her in regards to Ritsu and Mio who were more so her Onee-Chan’s friends, than her friends.
Sawako had gathered with Yui and Ui and turned to Ui and said, “Good work today, Little Miss Hirasawa Sensei.” Ui smiled and returned the greeting to Sawako and then Sawa said in an uneasy way, “Good work today Hirasawa Sensei…” Yui responded with, “You could show the same regard to me as you do with Ui, Sawa-Chan!”
Sawako laughed and said, “Well, Yui-Chan, if you keep calling me that, I can’t consider you the same as Ui Sensei now can I?” Yui puckered her lips and closed her eyes in a pout and said, “I’m older than Ui you know, you could at least show me some consideration.”
Sawako and Yui had an on-going comedy act and Ui just laughed at it wondering who was going to hit who first with a paper fan. With the girls nearing 30 and Sawako almost 40, they could feel how in their old relationship that each was maturing in different ways, however, Sawa knew that deep down Yui was in pain although she never showed any feelings or gave a response on how she felt towards Ritsu who was once her “partner in crime,” everyone else had made their judgment about Ritsu except Yui—she didn’t want to talk about it—she normally would have a say in the situation, but this time she kept avoiding it; a lot has changed since then.
In terms of supervising clubs, Sawako had watched over the Light Music Club or Keion Bu for years after “Hokago Tea Time” had left, she had taken care of “The Wakaba Girls” and then the bands after that were run by Nao Okuda for a few years before she graduated with Sumire Saitou; from there, the groups had changed from their style of music and now there was another speed metal band forming in the image of Sawako’s “Death Devil,” however, this time the supervision duties were on Yui’s shoulders as she had taken over the Light Music Club from Sawa while Sawako had become the Choir Clubs supervisor and Ui had supervised the Jazz Club.
With the new interest in the Keion Bu’s speed metal band forming, Yui wanted Sawako to take the Light Music Club back from her and she would take care of the Choir Club in her stead, but Sawa would have nothing to do with it because Yui had begged her to take the Light Music Club from her, so regardless of the music in which the students chose to play, Yui would have to be a part of it.
Tsumugi had started the tradition of tea and snacks being served in the Light Music Club and that remained to the point where a first year girl had become the hostess while the girls sat at the makeshift table–she was also the bassist. The president of the club was a third year girl who was about to graduate, the year before when she was one of the juniors she was part of a band that played really light music and had minimal popularity, so when she took over as the leader of the club, she finally opened it up to something more along the lines of what she wanted.
“Wilted Sakura” was a speed metal band with a lot of Gothic influence, Sawako had offered to make their costumes which they agreed to very quickly, of course it was a Gothic Lolita look of frills and lace, but the girls didn’t turn down the Choir Club supervisor even if the costumes weren’t exactly what they wanted.
Realistically, Yui supported “Wilted Sakura” and actually enjoyed working with them; she even offered all the leavings of the clubs before them including Sawako’s “Death Devil” Cassette and photo album which they liked very much; “Hokago Tea Time’s” pink cassette of their entire works and also a photo album in which they had put together too—this, they were fascinated by, because it was Yui Sensei who was involved with it. Yui also dug out the two video advertisements in which they made in order to recruit new members for their club—both videos were banished to a cookie tin and put out of the way—watching them with “Wilted Sakura” had brought on laughs from the girls and good memories for Yui who almost cried when she saw young Azusa—standing—happy…
“Wilted Sakura” had asked Yui questions about what happened to everyone in “Hokago Tea Time”—after all, they knew that “Catherine” was Sawako Yamanaka Sensei, the front of “Death Devil” and Yui was right here with them.
Yui tried to cover as much as she could about the rest of the band. She couldn’t say that Mio was Agoraphobic and seriously suffered major depression, it was more like; Mio was a consultant; which she was, just with different circumstances. Yui couldn’t say that Ritsu cheated in the university and got kicked out and was working a menial job and living with her younger brother and his family, so she simply said that Ritsu was busy working and left it at that. Yui, however, could safely say that Tsumugi was quite successful as a concert pianist and also a holder of aspects of the Kotobuki family businesses. When she got to Azusa, she delayed what she would have to think about to describe her outcome by showing some concert footage of “The Wakaba Girls” and a few of “Wilted Sakura” had commented that Azusa was with both bands and that Ui Hirasawa Sensei was part of the band too! In response to the girls’ questions, she was easily able to say that Sumire had married and that Nao was a psychiatrist and Jun was a nurse—which she was, she just solely nursed Azusa…what to say about Azusa…she taught guitar and she still fronted “The Wakaba Girls,” which wasn’t so bad—mentioning to a bunch of teenagers that Azusa was run down by a drunk driver and paralyzed was probably not something to share…or, maybe it was, maybe it was a way to get the girls to understand that drinking and driving was wrong, dangerous and had serious consequences, so Yui took a deep breath and began explaining the situation, she was careful in the way she said it and got sorrowful reactions from the group—Yui was teaching and very seriously too.
“Wilted Sakura” understood and even some of the younger girls broke out in tears to be comforted by their Senpais. Yui had done the right thing, so to break the gloomy atmosphere, she retrieved her Gibson—called Gita and jacked into an amp and played for them brightening their spirits, so they joined in and the practice lasted until it was time to go home.
Yui was proud of herself, something that she felt that her sister Ui would be too as she stood in the doorway of the music room with Sawako, they smiled at her and after Yui packed up her Gita, the three left Sakuragaoka High School until the next day, but for now, they would go out to eat and talk late into the night.
Ritsu stood in front of Mio’s door wearing faded dark blue denim shortalls and a white top with large multi-colored circles throughout the fabric. Her long brown hair was in three tails with the side bangs pulled back with clips that were once white but had yellowed with age. Her shoes were scuffed and her white socks were stained.
Ritsu took a deep breath and looked around seeing a very expensive car in the parking lot next to Nao’s Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart, it was the last one made in the two thousands teen years—a fancy copper/orange color that looked fast. The other car belonged to Tsumugi, some Italian, hand made sports car that cost more than Ritsu would make in a lifetime probably.
They were all going to gang up on her she thought and wanted to turn around and leave back to the safety of her brothers and spend time with her niece and not think about how her old friends were about to “attack” her. Mio said to be over for dinner after work and Ritsu thinking that it was just going to be the two of them just couldn’t say no, so she took another deep breath and let it out then knocked on the door.
Ritsu could hear the locks being disengaged and she knew it wasn’t Mio answering, probably Nao. The door opened to an elegant woman with bleached blond hair and gentle eyes—eyes that turned from gentle to darts in almost an instant as she looked down at Ritsu. Mugi, over all of them had a severe hatred of Ritsu for what she did, a complete change of her usual flighty, gentle and warm personality.
For years Mio had bopped Ritsu on the head as a way to correct her behavior or as punishment, however, it was done in more of a friendly way regardless of the hurt. Tsumugi had hit her the day she left the college and that was done out of real anger—it hurt very much too. This had caused Ritsu to have a small amount of fear towards Tsumugi and so she tried to avoid her if possible.
“Ritsu, we’ve been waiting, come in.” Tsumugi said as she straightened her suit that must have cost as much as a years worth of Mio’s rent. The tone of Mugi’s voice was harsh and Ritsu felt hurt by it.
Ritsu entered and removed her old sneakers and said, “Thank you for having me” in a positive monotone and then after Tsumugi locked the door up, Mio briskly went to the door herself to check that it was secure to no response from either Mugi or Nao.
Mio tried to smile at Ritsu as she led her to the Kotatsu table and they sat; with Ritsu and Tsumugi across from each other and Nao and Mio on both sides of her. Ritsu didn’t want to look to Mugi, she was nervous just being around her.
The table was set up with a selection of food including Una Ju or Eel over rice, a mixture of Sushi and glasses of Barley tea which was a good, cold, summer drink and for Ritsu, Mio had mixed sweet iced tea and lemonade. Near Mio’s plate, her Kiseru was smoking and she picked it up and took a drag and exhaled, she didn’t apologize for smoking at the dinner table, she had no choice and all gathered knew it. Once Mio was finished with her pipe, she put it in the large ashtray and placed it on the floor next to her with her tobacco kit.
“We should probably eat now, shouldn’t we?” Nao said asking the obvious question. Ritsu was still weary that she was being set up for something and she ate slowly with a sickness in her stomach.
“I thought you always looked cute wearing that outfit Ritsu, I think you wore it to England—that’s right, when we played in that Sushi restaurant…I guess its really my fault that it went that far, I knew what the Manager was saying and I could have told him that we weren’t ‘Love Crisis’, but I guess hiding and not facing the world was always my weakness,” Mio said, then giggled and finished with, “Mugi got upset that there wasn’t a keyboard for her instead of telling them that we were just there to eat!”
Tsumugi laughed and Nao said, “You didn’t want to be left out huh Miss Kotobuki?” Mugi replied with a soft and flighty voice, “Between Yui and Ritchan the only English we could give was ‘I am Bucho’ and ‘yes, yes, yes,’ and all the while, I probably could have straightened things out and Mio was the only one among us that could actually understand and speak English with little issue…Azusa was pretty capable too…it was part of the fun of the trip, kind of like an adventure.”
“I see, it must have been fun…so, Miss Nakano had come with and apparently she did all the work by planning the trip, now why was that?” Nao asked.
Mio laughed and said, “Azusa said that she likes to plan things, so we didn’t stop her—Yui’s hand was caught in a dog crap disposal box…!!!” Mio broke out laughing uncontrollably and Tsumugi followed suit with Ritsu just getting a few giggles, she kept remaining quiet as much as possible. Nao of course didn’t get the joke, but understood what Mio must have been talking about.
Suddenly, Mugi’s cell phone rang and she quickly looked at the large glass screen and then excused herself in an urgent manner and left the table and went towards the kitchen. She was talking about business referring to one of the small companies that she controlled.
Nao looked to Ritsu and said, “You are very uncomfortable; this isn’t a set up in a negative way, we all have a plan, one that includes Miss Akiyama too, so relax, enjoy your meal and show Miss Akiyama some appreciation, everything is going to be fine.” All the while as Nao said this, Mugi was in the kitchen screaming at the person on the phone; it appeared that she still had a childish side to her after all, and threw a tantrum on occasion when things weren’t going her way.
Ritsu looked to Mio and her friend said, “Nao is right, you see Ritsu, we are all going to help you…even Tsumugi, so you have to listen.”
Ritsu nodded her understanding and didn’t ask any questions; at this point there was one more reply from Mugi to the person on the phone and she hung up and returned to the table on the floor. “Sorry, but they need to work faster, time is not a luxury right now…” Mugi said and picked up her chopsticks and had a few pieces of eel and looked at Mio with a smile, she was quite satisfied.
“Tsumugi…” Ritsu said carefully but was quickly cut off by Mugi who said, “Kotobuki-Sama; that is what you will call me from now on, do you understand Ritsu?”
Ritsu nodded slowly and said, “Yes Kotobuki-Sama, I understand.”
Mio took hold of her Kiseru and stood up from the Kotatsu and lit it and walked into the kitchen, she had an uneasy feeling brought on by Tsumugi’s very firm reply to Ritsu—Sama was too high of a regard to give someone who was once a best friend.
Nao looked to Mugi and then to Ritsu and said out to Mio in the kitchen, “You can smoke all you want right here Miss Akiyama, we aren’t going to say anything, the tobacco kind of smells nice, so it doesn’t clash with your cooking.” Mio shook her head as she exhaled and returned to the Kotatsu and sat snapping the burned out tobacco from the small bowl of the pipe into the ashtray. “I thought I left something behind, I’m sorry, I think everyone knows I’ll smoke when I need to,” Mio said.
“May I speak Kotobuki-Sama?” Ritsu asked carefully.
“Yes you may, however, I want you to kneel on your pillow with your knees together like a lady and pay close attention to me as we speak—Sumire and I like to call it submission when we play, but I want you to do as your told Ritsu, after all Mio did beg you not to leave her,” Tsumugi replied.
“Yes Kotobuki-Sama,” Ritsu said repositioning herself on the pillow and folding her hands in front of her paying attention to Tsumugi.
“I think Mio and I waited years for you to start acting like a girl should, after all, if I have to wake up to Mio screaming ‘why’ every time I fall asleep, you should keep your legs closed…” Tsumugi said.
Ritsu replied, “Yes Kotobuki-Sama.” However, that wasn’t good enough so Mugi made a motion with her hand upwards gesturing for Ritsu to say more, so she continued, “Yes Kotobuki-Sama, I shall keep my legs closed like a proper girl.”
“Oh come on! You are being way to strict Mugi, that’s enough already,” Mio said a bit angered, she then prepped her pipe and took a smoke.
“We are just getting started Mio, things are going to be far more strict for Ritsu from now on, she doesn’t have to follow my instructions, but I think if she is smart then she will,” Tsumugi said.
“Well, even though Manabe-Sama is not here yet, I think we should probably get started with telling Miss Tainaka what we have planned already…what did I tell you to do when you experienced these memories Miss Kotobuki, please don’t take it out on Miss Tainaka—even if she is the one who caused it.,..” Nao said and was interrupted by Mugi who said in a dragged out, soft-sounding pseudo-yell, “Don’t leave me Ritsu! No, I shouldn’t have to hold back the way in which I speak to Ritsu—go ahead Nao, tell her your part and Nodoka will be here soon, she’s busy, busy!”
Nao felt that she was being over-stepped because she was younger than everyone else at the table, but she had to take care of crowd control—an Agoraphobic Mio, Tsumugi’s waking nightmares and Ritsu’s sadness, it was once again, a lot on her plate, like playing the Guitar Synthesizer and working pedals and listening in her headphones and programming and writing songs, lyrics and melodies wasn’t enough…
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door and this time it was Nao who got up to answer, she needed a moment away from her patients. Nao opened the locks and opened the door to Nodoka Manabe, the Mayor of the town in which they all lived, she was about Mio’s height at five foot three and had short hair and glasses. Nodoka wore a skirt suit with flat shoes and was accompanied by two larger men in black suits—her bodyguards.
Nao bowed and said, “It is a privilege to have your presence Manabe-Sama.”
Nodoka laughed a little and said, “Mio, Miss Nao is kidding right?” She then removed her shoes and one of the guards closed the door. Nao stood straight blushing and fixed her own glasses as she backed away from the Mayor embarrassed. Nodoka said, “I’m sorry, you were serious; I thought we were all friends here, you can call me Nodoka…or…or…Miss Nodoka, if that is better…” Mio almost knocked things over as she jumped from her pillow and briskly made her way to the door, the two guards looked to Nodoka and she waved them off and took hold of Mio when she got right near her and held her tight by her arms, she said, “I didn’t forget the locks, but seriously, do you think anyone is going to get through my guys here? Baka, lock the door, use all of them, including the chains and Eido; just keep an eye out ok. Is it ok now Mio?” Nodoka asked gently and Mio nodded.
Mio checked the locks as Baka side-stepped to give her room and when Mio took hold of Nao and Nodoka and went towards the Kotatsu, both Baka and Eido took positions in front of the door.
Nodoka greeted Tsumugi and then Mio said to Nao, “Call her Miss Nodoka, she is very kind, like a Mama…we have enough Samas in the room.” Nao knew that Mio was referring to Tsumugi and nodded with a little blushing in her cheeks, she then knelt on her pillow as Mio added another near both Ritsu and Nao; she then took to her own pillow and started on her Kiseru again.
Ritsu was quiet and remained in the position that Tsumugi had ordered her to, however she turned to Nodoka and tried to smile.
“Hello Ritsu, I hope you are doing well? Tonight will begin the reunion of you with your life. We are all here to help you and as painful as some of our actions may be, if you persevere, both you and Mio will have everything that you lost returned to you. Also, I believe that everyone else involved will be appeased in the end too,” Nodoka said, she then sat down next to Ritsu and the group began…
Find out next Thursday what Nodoka, Tsumugi and Nao have planned for Ritsu to return her old life to her and give her a brighter future. Also included is a day in the life of Jun and Azusa. Be there for K-ON!!!! “Dust in the Wind” Part 4!