Intermezzo (part one)
"To the tables down at Morrie's (wherever that may be) Let us drink a toast to all we love the best We will sleep through all the lectures, And cheat on the exams, And we'll pass... and be forgotten with the rest" From Bright College Days by Tom LehrerOkay, okay... I didn't do as badly as I was afraid of doing. And no, in case you're wondering, I didn't cheat. In fact, I got out of my first semester at Ryokuto Academy pretty well unscathed... scholastically, that is.
In other ways, well... let's just say I can use the time off. This masquerade has been pretty stressful for both Suka-chan and myself. When you've been pretending to be a girl to the person you live with for three whole months, how difficult cans chool itself be?
Suka-chan, too, seems to be looking forward to the time off, even though he is staying at Ryokuto over the summer. Oh, he tries to look sad as I head out the gate, but when I turn around to wave, I catch a trace of a satisfied grin, which he immediately tries to cover up for my benefit. I give him a half-smile myself, and wave. "So long, Suka-chan. Take care of yourself. I promise I'll bring something back for you."
Of course, the first thing I do when I arrive at the train station is to buy a box of white chocolate for myself at a kiosk. I can't help grinning as I pop a piece in my mouth. This is great; finally, not having to pretend I don't like the stuff. The trip to Shizuoka takes less than an hour by bullet train, but I wind up spending half again that much time in the station between the queue for tickets, and the wait for the train itself. Not that I'm complaining: all it does is give me time enough to down half the box. This stuff never so tasted so good. I guess not being able to eat it has done stuff to my appetite.
Finally, the train arrives, and the crowd pours in, taking me and my box of chocolates with it. I smile as I settle back into my seat. And why not? I'm going home... where I'm free to be myself. Staring out the window of the Shinkansen, I start thinking about how I might spend my vacation. Sure, I'll be putting in some time at the ryokan, and I may take in a performance of Grandfather's Kabuki troupe, but for the most part, I'm going to rest and relax as much as I can.
The thought does occur to me that I might not be getting as much sleep as I'd like to, though. I'd almost forgotten, but I've got a baby sister now. Not that it should come as any surprise; when Mom and Dad saw me off at the train last time, she looked like a big balloon. Yui showed up just a few days after I left, as it so happened. I just hope she isn't too noisy when it comes to her midnight feedings. Not just for me, mind you - noise like that could be bad for business, too.
Okay, okay... I'm mostly concered about how I'm going to sleep through it. Is that so wrong?
Hope she's cute, too... though with the Kisaragi genes in her, she probably won't be able to help it. Still, it's been four generations since there's been a daughter in the family, so it's not like we'd know what to expect.
I'm so lost in thought, I never even notice when we pass Fuji-san. I'm just lucky enough to catch the P.A. announcement: "Now approaching Shizuoka station. Will passengers bound for Shizuoka station please..."
Right. I grab my bags and get ready to disembark.
Ahh, it's good to be back. I can smell the miso in the kitchen, I can see the freshly washed tatami mat laid out at the entrance of the ryokan as Dad and I walk in. Mom looks up, starts to give her usual welcome, "Irra- Shun-chan!" and practically springs over to greet us. Heh... I'd forgotten how light on her feet she was. Of course, she wasn't all that light last time I'd been home. I suppose she's glad to be herself again, too.
"Shun-chan... it's so good to see you home!"
"It's good to be home, Mom." Now more than ever. "How's the baby?"
"See for yourself..." And she walks off, indicating for me to follow her.
I'm impressed. Mom and Dad are building an addition onto the ryokan to serve as Yui's room. "Heh... thought you guys were going to use my room, seeing as I'm not around much..."
"Oh no... we rent it out while you're at school." Oh.
Anyway, Yui's room isn't finished, so she sleeps (sort of) in Mom and Dad's room for now. Dad's smile is a bit pained as he relates this. "I consider it incentive to finish the job."
"Oh, she needs us that much anyway, anata." Mom doesn't seem that bothered by it, as we step into their bedroom.
And here she is... the first girl in the Kisaragi family for four generations. Mom picks her up so I can get a closer look. She's beautiful...
She's everything Reina and I have tried to be... and more.
By the way... "Say, where is Reina?"
"Ah... well... anata, can you get Reina out of his room?" Another pained look, but Dad nods and leaves the room. When he returns, Reina is walking behind him, staring at his feet as he walks in. There's a long silence; I don't know what to say, and he isn't talking.
"Reina, aren't you going to say hello to your big brother Shun?"
He doesn't even look up. All I get is a mumbled "Onii-sama..." before he turns on his heel and walks out of the room. Once he's out of sight, I can hear him break into a run. I turn to my folks, who've got bewildered half-smiles on their faces.
"Man... what's with him?"
Not that I expect any real answers. And I don't think I get any. "He misses you, really he does. It's just that, well..." Mom's voice trails off as she gazes out the the door.
Dad waves it all off. "It's an awkward age he's at, that's all. He'll get over it."
Disclaimer: Koko wa Greenwood is the creation of Yukie Nasu, and all characters and situations therein are the property of her and Hakusensha Inc., Victor Entertainment, and the Pierrot Project. No infringement is intended.