Notes and Disclaimers: This is the second in a series of six stories, the first of which is The Truth About Yoshino. While you don’t *need* to read it first to enjoy this one, it is a series, so some things will build on both these stories. In other words, just go read it first…. ;-)
The characters are the property of Konno Oyuki, Shueisha and Geneon. I have more respect every day for the author and have thanked her many times in my heart, for having created such delightful characters for us to play with.
And once again, my thanks to the Fanfic Revolution for their friendship and mad editorial skillz.
If you enjoy this story, it would be really nice of you to let me know at email@example.com
Too Much Information
It was her imagination, Yumi thought. She was being over-sensitive. Shimako-san was fine. She was, as ever, cool and hard to understand, but affable and easy to be around.
“Thank you for joining us today, Shimako-san!” Yumi exclaimed, for what she knew was the third or fourth time, but someone had to say *something.*
“Thank you for inviting me,” Shimako-san responded, just as graciously as she had the three previous times. Her smile was its usual gentle self. But now Yumi was sure that there was something wrong.
“Where shall we go next?” Yoshino-san was looking around the street. “We should probably go to the bookstore last so we don’t have to carry anything we buy.”
Yumi made a face. “This is so heavy, I’d kind of like somewhere to rest.” She held up the bag from the home goods store that contained items picked up at her mother’s request.
“Perhaps we could all do with some tea?” Shimako-san suggested.
Yoshino-san stopped, one finger raised to the sky, as if she had just remembered something. “Yumi-san, wasn’t there a new cafe you wanted to try?”
“Oh, right!” Yumi nodded. “It’s the cute little one next to the candle store. The one with all the baskets in the window.”
“I know that one. Noriko tells me that it has very good Assam tea.”
“Then let’s go!” Yoshino-san raised a fist in the air.
“Yay!” Yumi raised her fist in agreement. Shimako-san contented herself with a happy smile.
Yoshino-san was the one who brought it up.
“Shimako-san,” I don’t want to be rude, but are you all right? You seem out of sorts today.”
“You noticed too?” Yumi asked. “I thought it was my imagination. Is everything okay?”
Shimako-san’s cheeks pinked, her hands flying to her face to cover her embarrassment. “Is it that obvious?” she whispered, mortified.
They hastened to assure her that it was not at all obvious; it was just that they knew her that well.
“And even then, I wasn’t sure,” Yumi explained.
“So,” Yoshino-san leaned forward with anticipation. “What’s bothering you?”
The look on Shimako-san’s face spoke volumes. It was obvious that she was torn between sharing her burdens and keeping them private.
“Shimako-san, we’re your friends. You can tell us,” Yumi took Shimako-san’s hand in her own and gave it a quick squeeze. “Please let us help you if you’re troubled.”
Shimako-san gave Yumi a relieved smile and squeezed her hand quickly. “Thank you, truly.” She paused, apparently choosing her words carefully. “The truth is…”
“Yes?” Yoshino-san encouraged her.
“The truth is,” Shimako-san blurted, “Noriko and I are having a little trouble.”
It took Yumi a moment. She could see Shimako-san’s cheeks grow red, and her gaze drop into her lap, and she heard the words, but it still took her a moment to understand.
“Oh?” Yoshino-san was, as always, a few steps ahead of Yumi. “Relationship trouble?”
Yumi heard the words, saw Yoshino-san’s knowing smile and nod, but still she did not understand.
“What trouble are you having?” Yumi asked, confused. “Did you get into a fight?”
Shimako-san’s head dropped a little and her voice was quite soft. “Not a fight so much, but a disagreement.” When she lifted her head, her face was quite red, and she was biting her lower lip. And then Yumi understood.
“You see, Noriko and I went on that trip to Nara…”
“…and we stayed at an inn while we were there.”
“And before bed, she leaned over and kissed me good night.” Shimako’s eyes once again dropped to stare at her lap
No, no, no, Shimako-san, you were supposed to protect me from too much information! Yumi shouted inside her head.
Originally, the idea had been to get to know Yoshino-san better. A series of outings with the girl, so they could become better friends, become closer, more comfortable with each other. After the last outing with Yoshino-san, Yumi had inadvertently learned just a bit too much about the nature of her friend’s relationship with her onee-sama. And, as such things go, once the dam had been breached, the confidences tumbled out one after the other. Yumi, aware that that kind of wall can never again be repaired, had asked if they could bring Shimako-san along this time. Her hope had been that the presence of the usually reserved Shimako-san would keep Yoshino-san’s flood of personal information bottled up where it belonged.
Yumi’s idea had, once again, gone horribly wrong.
“Ohhhh!” Yoshino-san was saying, with relish. “And that’s why you disagreed? The Shimako-san who wants to be a Catholic nun put a stop to that kind of skinship, huh?”
Shimako-san’s response was something mumbled unintelligibly.
Inside her head, Yumi begged her friend to not have said what she just though she had said.
“It’s not like that,” Shimako-san repeated to her teacup. “I didn’t mind that very much. Or the good morning kiss the next morning.”
That was what she thought she had said, Yumi thought in despair.
“So what’s the problem, then?” Yoshino-san looked slightly amused at her friend’s plight. Well she would, Yumi thought, since it was practically grade school in comparison with her own relationship with Rei-sama. Shimako-san might have as well worried about holding hands with her “little sister.”
“Well, Noriko came to stay the night last weekend and that’s when we argued.”
The creeping sensation up her back, Yumi noted, started at the bottom and also in the middle, so she was all scrunchy feeling all along her spine up to her neck pretty quickly.
“We kissed goodnight again and…”
“And?” Yoshino-san did not bother hiding the lascivious desire for gossip she felt – her eyes practically glowed with it.
“And it went a little further…”
Stop Shimako-san, I beg you! Yumi willed herself to not shout the words. I don’t want to ever imagine you like that. Shimako-san the perfect white angel, the Wisteria Maiden. Rolling around on the floor with Noriko-chan. It was too much to bear.
“I made her stop when…” Shimako-san paused; appalled that she’d been about to say what she’d been about to say. “I told her that we shouldn’t do anything more.”
Yoshino-san sat back with a sagely nod. “So, what you’re saying is, she wants to go all the way.”
“Stop!” Yumi couldn’t hold herself back another second. Her hand was extended, palm outwards.
There was a moment of silence as Yoshino-san and Shimako-san stared at Yumi. It was during this hiatus in the conversation that their waitress chose to ask if they needed anything. No, Yoshino-san responded for them, they were fine, thank you.
When the waitress had left, Shimako-looked at Yoshino-san with a nod. “Yes, you could say that.”
“I said, ‘Stop’!” Yumi reminded them.
“Yes, we heard you Yumi-san,” Yoshino-san scolded her, “But we said we would listen to her problem. So eat your cake and behave.” Yoshino-san pointed a slim white finger at Yumi’s cake plate and remained pointing until Yumi had taken an obedient mouthful.
Yoshino-san turned her attention back to Shimako-san. “To sum up, you and Noriko-chan disagreed because she wants to take your relationship to the, shall we say, ultimate level.”
“But you don’t want to?” Yumi asked, despite herself.
“It’s not that. She’s feeling conflicted. Because we attend a Catholic school and she is known to be a devout Christian. And because Noriko-chan is younger than she is and she’s worried that she’s influencing her. Isn’t that right?” Yoshino-san asked.
Shimako-san nodded again, her wavy hair bouncing gorgeously.
“But, Noriko-chan is a smart girl and not all easily influenced,” Yumi countered. “If she makes up her mind to do a thing, it’s because she wants to, isn’t that right?”
Shimako-san nodded yet again, the very barest of thin smiles at the corner of her mouth.
“But,” Yoshino-san pressed her argument, “there’s still the feeling of committing a heinous sin. You can’t really put that aside easily.” This time Shimako-san shook her head back and forth to illustrate her agreement.
“True,” Yumi conceded, “but who knows what the future will bring and maybe becoming a nun isn’t what fate has in store for her.”
Yoshino-san leaned forward. “That may be true – but there’s still the problem of being in a Catholic school, isn’t there?”
“Is it?” Yumi leaned forward too, meeting Yoshino-san’s eyes. “If a daughter of a Buddhist household goes to a Catholic school, then doesn’t it all cancel out anyway?”
“Well, there’s still the idea of sin and anyway, Buddhism isn’t really in favor of this kind of thing, either and…”
Yumi and Yoshino-san pulled away from each other to stare at Shimako-san, who had her arm extended, hand palm outwards. “Stop! Stop!” She said, laughing.
“Shimako-san?” Yoshino-san asked. “Did we get carried away?”
Shimako-san swung her head back and forth once again, the hair bouncing freely and lightly. She had her hand in front of her face, covering her laughter.
“I’m glad that you’re smiling again.” Yumi said.
“Yes, you really cheered me up,” Shimako-san thanked them. “I still don’t know what to say to her, but thank you, anyway.”
“Well,” Yumi said, drinking from her now quite cold tea. “Tell Noriko-chan that you want to wait until you’ve both graduated. It’s only two years and if you can’t wait that long, then it probably was a bad idea anyway. And if your feelings change in that time, it will be less painful. Then you’ll both be out of Lillian – and you can feel comfortable that it’s not because you’re influencing her.”
Shimako-san blinked a few times in surprise. “That’s brilliant Yumi-san!”
Yumi smiled. Without thinking, she said, “Maybe next time, we ought to invite Onee-sama.” As a preventative to ever having this kind of conversation again, she thought. If anything could ever inhibit conversation about personal relations, surely it would be Onee-sama’s presence!
“Speaking of Sachiko-sama,” Yoshino-san said.
“How far along is your relationship?” Shimako-san finished the thought.
“Eh?” Yumi said. “Ehh?”