December 6 2022
Hikigaya Hachiman's Path to Reformation
Yukinoshita Yukino takes a seat around a table occupied by familiar faces. The Yukinoshita family was invited by Hikigaya Hitomi for her birthday. Hachiman's mother is currently welcoming guests while his sister is showing them their seats. The venue is at a hotel's function hall overlooking the city of Chiba.
The girls have arrived rather early and Saki is assisting Komachi. Meguri, Yui, Hina and Yumiko are engaged in conversation with each other. All of them are dressed beautifully and spared no expense, almost as if they are in an unspoken competition of sorts. They were invited by Hachiman's mother to get to know them better. Saki, Haruno and Meguri already know her and are connected to the Hikigaya family in some way.
Yukino quietly listens to them as she is not quite interested in joining but does not ignore them when called. Meguri is sharing her experiences with Hachiman as a coworker at the bookstore at which they both work.
"So, like, Hikio isn't that much different when he's in working mode?" Yumiko asks curiously as Hachiman barely talks about his job.
"Yup! He's still basically the same!"
"Maybe I should try getting a part-time job… What about you Hina?" Yui turns to her friend busy texting on her phone.
"I'm giving it some thought, hehehe." The Megane girl replies. Yoshiteru recently disclosed to their group chat that he has a part-time job which made Hina think. She has a lot of free time before school begins again so why not make the best out of it? Saika is always busy practising tennis for the day he can finally beat Hachiman, Yumiko and Yukino which he calls the "Big Three".
"Really?! Uwah, maybe I should look for one too…"
Haruno had decided not to sit with them and stayed with her parents. Her father does business with Hikigaya Jōshirou and her mother and nows each other from previous meetings. Yukino on the other hand was introduced to Hikigaya Jōshirou when her father met with him for a business proposal. Haruno wanted to sit with her sister and know the girls from her school better but opted not to. Their last meeting was not pleasant and the two had not spoken to each other since.
"Yuigahama-san, may I ask what gift you brought for Hitomi-san?" Yukino asks in a small voice.
"Since Hikki got me a cooking set for my birthday, I decided to return the favour!" The peach-haired teen replies cheerfully, "Mama really liked the stuff that he gave me and I feel a bit embarrassed when I looked them up and found out that they were pretty expensive…"
"Yes, we were in a Karaoke box…thing with that eccentric fellow and Totsuka-san." Yukino says and recalls that day.
Yui gets a large box from under the table and proudly shows it off to her friends who stare at it with surprised eyes. "Here it is!"
"I got her a lucky house plant. Isn't that what mothers like these days?"
"Mine is a tea set."
"I bought her a pair of indoor bunny slippers!" Yumiko, Hina and Meguri add and show their gifts which Yukino studies and regards with interest. She was about to show them what she brought but is interrupted when Saki returns and joins them after helping Komachi. She takes her seat beside Yukino and occupies the last available space on the table.
"It would have been nice if Hachiman and Uncle were here but it can't be helped I guess," Saki says and fixes her skirt. She secretly dislikes sitting beside Yukino but there is no other space left. So she slightly faces away from her and towards Hina to her left.
"Isn't it almost Hikki's birthday? Shiromeguri-senpai, you know Hikki very well." Yui says to the most senior girl at the table. She also knows that Hachiman thinks of her very highly and openly voices his adoration, love and faith to the Stuco President. Yui thinks nothing past his words and finds them adorable and wholesome - akin to a little brother looking up to his older sister.
"Yeah, he's turning seventeen this year and he won't be celebrating it here in Chiba unfortunately. But we in the StuCo are planning a small party with him so keep it a secret okay~?" Meguri finishes with a clap of her hands and tilts her head to the side in a cute manner. Her Kouhai all nod and promise to keep silent.
They resume talking with another topic in mind but Yumiko's attention was directed to Saki. The blond had made a mental ranking and evaluation of the appearance and beauty of the girls around her which are as follows:
Hina has the best dress which Yumiko finds gorgeous and stylish. Despite her showing the most skin among them, she admits that the bespectacled girl takes the spot for the best dress.
Yui has the best figure out of all of them no doubt. Her hands themselves as they roamed all over Yui's soft body in the girl's locker room can attest to that.
Yukino composes herself perfectly and her gait, etiquette and posture are to be expected from a high-class lady like her.
Meguri will definitely be the first person Hachiman moves to save if they were in some kind of danger. A strange metric to be classified under to be sure but Yumiko saw it in a women's magazine and decided that it is a legitimate category to consider. She doesn't know the order of who will be saved next but Yumiko is sure that a certain Ice Queen is undoubtedly at the bottom.
For the last part, Yumiko swallowed her pride for unbiased objective judgement and decided that Kawasaki Saki has the best hair among them. The Fire Queen had done her hair herself and while not a true professional, she takes pride in keeping and maintaining her smooth and silky locks. Despite that, she has a keen eye for quality and knows when to voice her compliments and praises.
"Say Saki, where did you have your hair done? It looks great." Yumiko compliments her and is followed by Hina who starts touching her hair. She blushes a bit as being complimented on her looks is a rare occurrence. Not that she is not pretty by any means but simply the fact that her social interactions with other people are quite low.
"A-Ahaha… At Auntie's salon. I came here with Komachi and her in their car." While they were talking about Saki's beautiful hair and the possibility of going to the salon together, Yukino secretly bristled at her words.
"Auntie, huh…" Yukino composes herself and calls Yui's attention to her right for small talk.
"Yuigahama-san, that is quite the watch. Where did you get it?"
"Hikki and I won them when we hung out together before his trip!" She replies with a smile.
Yukino pauses for a moment to make sure that she heard her right. "You…hung out together with Hikigaya-kun?"
"Yeah, it was some time after summer camp. I was bored and asked him if he was free and he let me come with him to a convention thingy in downtown Chiba." Curiosity rises within her and Yukino ask her more about what they did together.
"This is unexpected. I did not anticipate Yuigahama-san doing something like this behind my back."
While she listened intently to every word that Yui said, Yukino notes that the girl smiled happily and her eyes shone with joy while telling her what she did with Hachiman on their unofficial "date" or official if you consider that it counts. Her face gets slightly flushed which made her think that something more must have happened between Hachiman and her. Yui was truly happy telling her friend about it but left out the more embarrassing moments that still made her blush whenever she thinks about it. She still remembers the words that made her heart skip a beat and the warmth and feeling of being protected when she asked him for a hug.
In stark contrast, Yukino feels envy and a sliver of betrayal in her heart and clenched the tablecloth from under the furniture. She started hearing static in her ears which cancelled out all the sounds in the air, especially the words coming from Yui. Her face became unmoving like a statue lest it shatters into a thousand pieces.
Her mood had soured and the feeling did not go away for the rest of the night.
"A pity that Jōshirou-san and his son are away. I would have liked to take a closer look at his boy. From the photos that I've seen, they look very much alike."
Yukino's mother comments while watching her husband and Hitomi chat with their mutual friends. Her husband, Jōshirou and Hitomi were classmates in college and have kept in contact ever since. Beside her, her youngest daughter turns to her with surprise.
"Really? They never mentioned it to me..." Yukino replies. She had returned to her family's table after Haruno had made herself comfortable on her seat. The eldest daughter joined in the conversation with her juniors after reintroducing herself. Yukino was in no mood to argue with her sister over something so trivial and retreated to her family's table instead. From afar, she watches Haruno say something and the girls laughed and giggled in response.
"Oh, you didn't know? They're the type to forget mentioning that." Her mother makes a dismissive expression, seemingly expecting her answer.
"Were they always close?"
"They lost touch for a few years because of the busy nature of their work but reconnected. Quite understandable really. I hear Jōshirou-san's previous work was quite abusive and brutal."
She takes a small sip from her glass of water. "And Hitomi-san was in the same position."
Her eyes follow Yukino's gaze, "Are you not going to them?"
"No, Onee-sama is with them."
"I don't see how that is a problem." She turns to her daughter with a slight look of disapproval on her pleasant features, "Yukino, you should get along with your sister better. At this rate, Jōshirou-san's son will take your place as even he gets along better with Haruno than you."
Yukino is quite aware that her sister sometimes sees Hachiman during the weekends at his mother's place. Quite recently, they did so again when she picked him up unannounced at the summer camp and she has already thought of several reasons why. She knows this and envies their friendship.
But being reminded of it by her own mother makes it even more painful.
"Yes, mother…" She says meekly in a quiet voice.
Her mother sighs, seemingly exhausted by the topic of their conversation. "In any case, I'll introduce you to Hitomi-san later. You should at least try and be in good relations with her children."
Happy Birthday to me!
You may have noticed that this is a relatively short chapter. I'm trying out shorter ones and at third-person POV since it's quite easier and faster to progress the story for the Author. I wrote a Genshin Impact x Oregairu Crossover as an "experiment" and confirmed that I quite liked the flow of it.
I analyzed my writing style and realized that I add too much monologue. And this current arc is going at an excruciatingly slow pace! I'll also try writing my other fanfics in the third-person from now on.
Well, that's it for me today. I'll see you lot next time!