A/N: Umidori is the greatest! She made fanart based on this story! Love and cherish it, everyone!
I had to tweak the address because FF dot net doesn't like weblinks, but the more intrepid fans can go to pictures dot greatestjournal dot com slash userimg slash 2068089 slash 479211.
And now, on with the show!
Wednesday, March 24th, 200X plus 1
Ichidai Private High School
"Hey, did you hear about Student Activities Council President Kuhonbutsu-san?"
"I heard he's got a girlfriend!"
"A girlfriend? I thought he was going out with Inagawa-san! You know, the transfer student in class five?"
"No, no! They just hang out a lot together. Them and Sendo-san, the one who sneaks writing dojinshi during lunch. Kuhonbutsu-san's totally seeing this girl from another school!"
"Hey, you two, cut the chatter and get back to cleaning! The sooner you get this done, the sooner you can go home for spring vacation!"
Ichidai High had just finished their lessons for the winter term, and the classes were performing their daily cleaning chores before the school closed up.
The months had passed like many other months would, with the change in seasons still not yet visible in the air.
When all else fails, time does heal all wounds... Taishi Kuhonbutsu thought, walking swiftly down a hall on the second floor of the school, flocked by members of Student Activities Council committees. He answered their questions swiftly and precisely as he composed a text message on his cell phone.
"But the field requests have already been put in, Kuhonbutsu-san!"
"The event advisory board has already ruled that any cherry blossom viewings are to be held on the soccer field as not to damage the grass growing on the baseball fields and to allow the repainting of lines on the rugby field. I'm sorry, Tensei-san, but the Flower Arrangement Club will have to have their viewing on the soccer field or elsewhere. At another school or park."
"Kuhonbutsu-san, we need your approval on this flyer for the Student Activities Council's picnic."
"Approved." Taishi tapped away and pressed the Send button to fire off his text, switching hands to stamp an approval seal on the document.MY BROTHER—
I CAN'T MAKE IT TO OUR PREP FOR COMIPA TONIGHT.
"Kuhonbutsu-san! Are you listening?"
"Yes, I am listening! The kendo club will have to share with the judo club. I know they need to practice, but after Itonami-san rampaged and smashed the windows in the kendo practice room, we only have one indoor dojo. They're welcome to use any other sanctioned practice areas outside, so long as they don't interfere!"
The throng moved down the halls quickly, with individual Council members branching off from time to time. They quickly walked past the classroom for year three, class five, where the students were dutifully cleaning. Kazuki and Yuu had drawn the task of washing the windows.
"That lucky jerk," Yuu grumbled. "How come Lord Ilpalazzo over there gets out of cleaning to run around and shout at his subordinates?"
"It seems like he does even less with the Student Activities Council than anything, while making it appear like he's doing everything," Kazuki remarked sardonically, exhaling heavily onto a window to steam it up. "He's born to delegate authority, so long as he never has to do anything himself."
"Ouch!" Yuu said, smiling as she cleaned the window. "I should say to go easy on him, but you've felt the crunch more than enough from being his friend for so long."
"He does what he can," Kazuki grudgingly admitted. "I don't know if he'd make a good manager one day, but part of me doesn't want to see him unleashed on the outside world. Mostly for the world's sake!"
Yuu and Kazuki laughed at that one.
"So what're you doing for the break?" Kazuki asked.
"I still have to put the finishing touches on my latest issue. The spring ComiPa is still a few weeks away, but I want to be able to relax and see the cherry blossoms. This school has a really long break compared to back in Kobe, so I'm gonna spend it relaxing or die trying!"
"A week and a half is really long?"
"Hey, twelve school days off is a pretty big deal when we only got an extended weekend. We didn't have Saturdays off, either!"
Kazuki let out a low whistle of surprise. "Dang. You went to a public high school, right? I thought that public schools were supposed to have Saturdays off."
Kazuki's cell phone let out a series of chimes. "Got a message?" Yuu asked.
He reached into his pocket and thumbed a few buttons. "He's leaving me to my own deeds again," Kazuki said with a groan. "We were supposed to put together a long-term plan for my next dojinshi and to try the new Tokyo Extreme Racer game I just got, but he says he's got family issues. Whatever that means."
"Family issues?" Yuu asked, moving on to her next window. "Good to know he's at least got a life outside of dojinshi."
"Yeah, it's been a while since the last Comic Party. With everything that happened around then, I kept thinking he'd burn out."
Yuu froze for a moment, sighed, and continued scrubbing her window. "I never thought he'd tell anyone about all that stuff," Yuu said flatly.
"Sorry..." Kazuki said, turning to Yuu. "I didn't know if I'd hit a nerve..."
"Well, I just didn't want to go waving around the 'I shot down Taishi' flag, y'know?" Yuu said, stepping away from a window and closer to Kazuki, lowering her voice. "I didn't want him to feel worse, or make things any more awkward..."
"Sorry, sorry," Kazuki said, holding his hands up in supplication. "You don't have to say anything about it that you don't want to."
"Well... it's in the past," Yuu said, less covertly. She shrugged. "He seems to be doing okay... he's his normal self, he hasn't acted weird—I mean, any weirder—and you'd know if something was up, wouldn't you?"
I don't want to be the one who causes you worry because I couldn't go out with your friend, Kazuki... especially if it was in hopes of you...
"As far as I can tell, he's been just fine. Taishi's not one to dwell on things and be all angsty and emo. At least, not to me."
"Good to know. I never sat well with the idea of being in the middle of some shojo story."
Yet I never did anything, anyway...
"Yeah, I always pictured you as sentai-team material."
"I'll sentai-team you!"WHAP!
Taishi's laps around the school with the Student Council committees came to a quick end just as the students' chores were finishing up. Kazuki and Yuu, having already made plans to meet up and combine their last-minute dojinshi efforts, parted ways at the school gate. Kazuki decided to wait for his friend, and sure enough, Taishi was there, and they started walking home.
"So, 'family issues?'" Kazuki asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Had I known I would run into you alone, my brother, I would have been able to speak the truth," Taishi lamented. "But alas, I could not risk comrade Yuu catching wind too quickly. Despite this, I will still be unable to make it tonight."
"Taishi, you surprise me too much these days," Kazuki said, laughing at his friend. "Honestly, do you really think Yuu would be offended if you told her the truth?"
"But there is no truth yet to tell, my brother. After all, we've only been seeing each other at conventions, or with everyone else. That and talking on the phone quite frequently."
"You're telling me! I tried calling you three times last night, and it went to your voice mail every single time!"
"Comrade, if you call someone once a minute for three minutes, that's what tends to happen."
"That was over a course of three hours, Taishi," Kazuki said, grinning and mock-elbowing his friend.
"Touché, my brother, touché."
"It's pretty obvious. You got a bunch of little chocolates from friends and classmates on Valentine's Day and one really delicious-looking handmade chocolate. I wonder who that one was from..."
"Comrade, some people give chocolates out of obligation! Perhaps that was just a repayment of an outstanding obligation debt."
"Then tell me, who was that antique German brooch for? The one Reiko saw you buy in Shibuya, just before White Day?"
"Ixnay on the rooch-bay, y-may rother-bay..."
"Taishi, it's obvious enough if you're looking. Don't worry, I'm your friend. I told Reiko-chan that you were buying a gift for your grandmother's birthday. Everyone still thinks that you're secretly going out with Yuu."
"Hah... if only this was a few months ago, my brother. If only."
"Are you doing okay with all that? Yuu was concerned about you earlier."
I am okay... it has been time, but she's still my friend... and when I daydream, I don't see Yuu's face anymore.
"My brother... when you and Mizuki started going out, you had such a clarity of vision. And you both followed through, did you not?"
"Well, of course," Kazuki said. "We wanted to be more than friends, and long story short, we've been dating each other since late January."
"When you first asked what I should do, I envied your clarity and your willingness to have those feelings. Now, to answer your question, I have the same clarity in my own life. For that, and for your help—and everyone's help—I feel as clear as clear can be."
"I'm glad. I could tell you were pretty torn up for a while back then... and now, look at you."
Taishi looked at a cherry blossom tree, buds barely starting to sprout from its thin, dark branches.
I have done this because I wanted to. I feel this way because I want to. I know that she's feeling the same thing... she has been...
"... Tonight, hopefully, it all comes to an end."
"Huh?" Kazuki asked quizzically, checking for any other messages on his cell phone. "What happens tonight?"Mitaka Public High School
Aya Hasebe didn't always pick to sweep out the walkway leading up to the school, but it was something she valued nonetheless. The work was on the longer side of the school chores, but it was far from labor-intensive.
As other students left from their chores, Aya bowed politely at them. She finished on the later end of things, as usual, and headed back inside.
"Oh, Hasebe-san!" another girl from Aya's class said as she came into the shoe locker room. "There was a boy here asking around for you earlier!"
"Yeah, someone from another school. I didn't recognize his uniform. He didn't say why he was looking for you, so he left kinda quickly."
"Um... did he have green hair and yellow-tinted glasses?"
"Yeah, and a crazy look in his eyes," the other girl said as she changed into her street shoes. "He looked like an otaku to me."
Aya's heart fluttered. "Thank you," she said, politely bowing to her classmate.
"Oh, er, yeah, it's nothing," she said, slightly flustered by Aya's formality, bowing back. "See you after the break!"
As the other girl headed out, Aya went to her own shoe locker. As she opened it, though, a piece of paper fluttered out; it had fallen through the vents of her locker onto the antique brooch that Taishi had given her. School rules prohibited modifying uniforms during the school day, but she wore it on her way to and from school anyway.
If you aren't doing anything tonight, I was hoping you and I could maybe go see the new Miyazaki film in Akihabara.
I'll be outside the Isanko Line entrance at 7 PM.
Aya felt a smile creep onto her face and her cheeks turn slightly warmer. "'I'll be outside...' He said 'I'll be outside...' Not 'we,' 'us,' anything like that..."
She folded the note up, pocketed it, pinned the small old brooch on the lapel of her uniform blazer, and put on her street shoes. Unlike the cherry blossoms by Ichidai High, some of the trees by Mitaka High were already fully budded. Aya stopped under one for a moment, watching the soft pink petals in the calm air.
The last time we were alone together... we made a promise to each other, we said how we felt. Finally, we have a chance to make good on that promise.
Aya pulled a small branch of cherry blossoms off of the tree and tucked it into her hair. She giggled gently, belying her mellow voice and mature demeanor, and walked home.
Wednesday, March 24th, 200X plus 1
Akihabara Station, Isanko Line entrance
The flower in his hands was white fading into pale purple, a carefully cultivated winter iris. They were fairly common in northern Japan, where a colder temperature at higher altitudes permitted year-round growing and shipping to flower shops. He held it by his side as he sat on the concrete pedastal of a fountain, just outside of the JR subway station.
As a small crowd of people came up the stairs and escalators from the station, indicating a new train arriving, he stood up, holding the flower behind his back. Intending to be a gentleman, he didn't want to appear slouched, lazy, or impatient, and it was all he could do in his familiar brown suit and white T-shirt to appear relaxed.
Despite the nervous beat of his heart, the tense, gripping feeling in the pit of his stomach, and the thin band of sweat beneath the collar of his shirt, he couldn't contain the smile that genuinely spread across his face as he saw her familiar raven-colored hair slowly rise up the escalator. Accented by the pale pink of cherry blossom flowers tucked into a lock of her hair above her right ear, he swallowed away his tensions as their eyes met.
Her smile met his, and he brought the winter iris around from behind his back.
"Shall we?" Taishi asked, holding the flower out to her.
"Yes, let's," Aya replied, taking the flower and cradling the petals gently.
Thanks for reading The Nameless Grace!
I'd wanted to see some Comic Party fanfic for quite a while now, and after countless Googlings and posts on message boards, I decided I'd just up and write some myself.
If you've made it this far, you're probably like me: you've seen the anime and are desperate for some romantic resolution of the series.
I thought about a Kazuki x Mizuki fic for a while, but I couldn't get Yuu out of my mind. Then I thought to myself, "What about Taishi x Yuu?" It seemed too simple, so I searched my mind, and out of nowhere, I realized that the whole "opposites attract" doctrine couldn't apply more between Taishi and Aya.
Everyone's gotta love Taishi. But I always thought that Aya had so much more depth to her, so much more mystery to her character. I yearned for more to her in the anime, simply because I thought that everyone got some sort of exposure and background. Eimi, Yuu, Chisa, Reiko, Mizuki, even Minami... we got raisones d'etre for all of them. All but Aya.
I didn't think this was fair.
I also thought that Comic Party as a series showcases a very realistic portrayal for such a lighthearted (Relatively speaking) anime. We see success and defeat alike, with realistic reactions, interactions, and simple actions, even. It was with this in mind that I tried to explore my interpretation of Taishi. He's had ups and downs in the series, and I really wanted to expand more upon him as a character, not just as an archetype.
I hope you enjoyed it, and constructive criticism is ALWAYS welcome!
For those who hate angsty fics, I swear, my next one will be a comedy.OK, cultural note time.
Sentai is a live-action fighting TV show, a la Power Rangers or VR Troopers.
If you've ever seen about 80 of all anime, you've seen a cherry blossom viewing at some point. Same for the high school stuffs that happen here.
Thanks again for reading, and look for my next work soon!