Hikaru's shoulders froze up for a short second as Aya leaned her face in, and their lips met. The world around them melted away and the sounds of the quitening school grounds became a faint backdrop that could barely be heard.
Aya raised a hand to Hikaru's cheek, carressing lightly, before pulling away from her tender lips.
Hikaru opened her eyes, slightly disappointed that the kiss had ended so soon, and found herself staring right into Aya's hazel eyes that seemed to sparkle with the afternoon sunlight.
"We should get going now, it's already been half an hour." Aya said.
"R, really?!" Hikaru's eyebrows jumped on her forehead. "It's been that long...?"
"Yes," Aya laughed at Hikaru's reaction. "I think everyone at school is gone by now so we should leave too... Unless you want to stay here."
"No..." Hikaru shook her head, then took her phone out of her pocket to check the time in case this was one of Aya's jokes. Aya was right. Half an hour had gone by without her noticing. And she also had several missed calls from Fumiko and Itsuo.
Gak! Fumiko's going to be mad... Hikaru thought in a flash of panic. How am I going to explain this...?
"Let's gooo," Aya grabbed onto Hikaru's hand and dragged her along her path. "I can't believe we get the whole afternoon to ourselves! Kyaa! Where should we go?!"
"H, hang on, Aya," Hikaru stuttered, glancing down at their interlocked hands with blushing cheeks. "W, what if someone sees us?"
Aya shrugged, then turned to look back at Hikaru with a playful smile. "It would just look like two girls holding hands, wouldn't it...?"
At that, Hikaru's face blushed a deeper shade of red.
"B, b, but..."
"Don't worry about it, Hikaru! Don't worry! I will take care of everything!"
Fumiko tapped her fingers by the side of her arm impatiently.
"Where do you think Aya and Hikaru went?"
The question that Fumiko asked was directed at her two companions -- Itsuo and Sana. The two of them stood idly in front of Fumiko at the side of the busy Shibuya streets, where they had stopped near the station.
Itsuo shrugged, glancing at the sea of pedestrians that were walking around, seemingly in aimless directions.
"Beats me," Itsuo said. "I guess they must of had something to do."
Itsuo had an idea that Aya and Hikaru were most likely off doing their own things, seeing as Aya had just got back from America and the two of them had always been very close, but he didn't bother expressing that opinion to Fumiko.
"Gaah..." Fumiko let out a defeated sigh. "I already texted them, saying we would wait for them at Shibuya. I really wanted to spend some time with Aya on her first day back..."
"That's okay, Fumiko," Sana smiled. "There's still us three at least."
"Three, huh?" Fumiko side-eyed Itsuo.
"Do you want to join us?" Sana turned to Itsuo. "If you don't mind, that is."
"Sure," Itsuo said, ignoring Fumiko's glance. Although, he didn't really enjoy Fumiko's company, Itsuo didn't mind Sana. "It's not like I have anything better to do now."
"Just make sure you don't try anything pervy on us." Fumiko chipped in. "I already have a boyfriend, just so you know."
"As if I would..." Itsuo shuddered at the thought of being with Fumiko. "Don't you two worry, okay. Besides, I already have someone I like."
Both Fumiko and Sana perked up a little, hearing this.
"You have someone you like? Who? Who? Who?" Fumiko said.
"Is it someone in our class?" Sana added curiously.
Crap. Why did I let that slip out? Itsuo stared between Fumiko and Sana who were excitedly waiting for his answer. Should I just make up some random person? Why do I even need to tell them anyways...
"Heh..." Itsuo put on a smirk. "I'll let you guys know if you can beat me in the arcades."
Let's just make up a random challenge that they can't beat me in...
"Aya... why didn't we just take the limousine?"
"We're always traveling in the limousine. I wanted to do something different. Besides, there's no one watching over us this way."
"But... do you know how to take the train though?"
Aya and Hikaru stood idly at the centre of the busy train station, staring at the screens showing the train timetables.
"Haha... who do you take me for, Hikaru...?" Aya responded feebly. "Of course, I know how to take the train!!"
"Really?" Hikaru gave Aya a doubtful glance.
"Why do you think I was at a train station that time I left your house?!"
"T, that's why I came after you that time... I thought you had gotten so mad you ran off to take the train and wouldn't know how to get home..."
"I know that much at least!"
Aya sighed, grabbing onto Hikaru's shoulders as Aya scuttled her off to their platform.
Who does Hikaru take me for... Aya was thinking. I am the top ranked student in all of Japan for goodness' sakes...
"Where are we going anyways?"
The two of them ended up standing at the middle of an overcrowded platform, squished close together by the mob of people surrounding them. Aya huddled even closer to Hikaru, hugging to her arm, to protect her from any would-be molesters.
No one blinked an eye at the close proximity of the two school girls. To an outsider, they simply looked like two close friends.
"Ginza," Aya replied to Hikaru, then flinched as someone behind her pushed a little too close for comfort.
Aya flashed a dirty look behind her at the middle-aged office worker that had purposely moved forward into Aya.
"Ah, it's so crowded today," the office worker laughed, blushing as he saw Aya's face. "Sorry about that!"
If this was a normal day, I would have that pervert fired from his job on the spot! Aya fumed inside. But today is one of the few times I get to spend with Hikaru alone! I'm not going to let some lowly chipmunk ruin our day...
Aya turned back to Hikaru, feeling annoyed. The only saving grace was that it had been Aya that had been preyed on and not Hikaru. For that, Aya was thankful.
"Stay close to me, Hikaru, or someone might--hey! That's our train...!"
The train was arriving to the station and the crowd started surging forward to get ready to board. Aya also pushed forward into the crowd, holding Hikaru out in front of her like a doll.
"Ack, Aya! There's so much people...!"
"We're almost inside...!"
I have to get Hikaru as far away from that pervert as possible! Aya thought. If worse comes to worst, I can always protect Hikaru using my Aikido... but there's so many people around...!
Luckily, Aya and Hikaru were both already near the front of the crowd so they managed to push into the train relatively easily.
The hard part was what came next.
The influx of people entering the train quickly ushered them into the opposite side of the train.
Somehow, Hikaru ended up with her back being squished against the train door and with Aya standing directly in front of her, Aya's arms leaning on the windows on the sides of Hikaru's head for support.
Their eyes caught each other and Aya realised that Hikaru's face was close enough that she could almost count individually each of the soft lashes that skirted around Hikaru's innocuous cocoa-brown eyes.
"Sorry about this, Hikaru..." Aya laughed with an embarrassed look on her face, but her heart was jumping for joy. "We're really close, huh?"
"Y, yeah..." Hikaru uttered, then forced a smile, glancing up into Aya's eyes shyly. "I don't mind though."
"R, really...?! Let me know if I'm too close!"
"Haha, it's alright, Aya..."
Aya shuffled closer to Hikaru, and electric ran across Hikaru's spine as she felt Aya's thigh grazing against the side of her own thigh.
"A, Aya?!" Hikaru let out a weak gasp.
"Y, you said you didn't mind, right?" Aya replied quietly, her face growing pink.
"B, but we're on a train..." Hikaru whispered back. "There's so many people around..."
"No one's watching though..." Aya said, then in a quieter tone as though scared of Hikaru's response. "Do you mind...?"
Hikaru glanced around the crowded train and sure enough everyone was facing the other side of the train as the stops throughout the ride would open the doors in that direction.
Hikaru turned back to Aya and shook her head gently.
"It's okay, Aya... if it's you..." Hikaru said, blushing deeper.
Aya's heart skipped a beat, hearing this and seeing Hikaru's reaction. Her own face turned into a bright shade of red to match Hikaru's.
"Gah! You're just wayyyy too cute, Hikaru!!"
Aya leaned in quickly and before Hikaru knew what was going on, she felt Aya's velvet-like lips gently pecking down on her owns for a flicker of a second, before Aya leaned away again.
"A, A, Aya...?!" Hikaru's cheeks had now reached its maximum shade of red. "W, w, what if someone saw that?!"
"Hahaha..." Aya laughed, rubbing the side of her head sheepishly. "I can't help it, Hikaru. I can never control myself around you."
"G, geez..." Hikaru mouthed, her heart was beating rapidly in her chest.
"Sorry, sorry," Aya laughed again then pinched Hikaru's cheeks light heartedly. "I'll get you something really good to eat to make up for it! Promise!"
"F, fine..." Hikaru replied back shyly.
The rest of the train ride, although was at most ten minutes long, felt like an hour to Hikaru.
When they finally reached their station, Aya energetically dragged Hikaru out and led the way out of the train station.
"Where are we going, Aya...?" Hikaru panted, following behind the quick paced Aya.
"Somewhere nice!" Aya replied cheerfully. "I know a really good restaurant around the corner, trust me, Hikaru."
It didn't take long before the two of them eventually ended up at a luxurious 5-star hotel that seemed to tower up into the sky endlessly.
"W, wha? This is a hotel, right?" Hikaru blushed. "There's no food in a hotel, Aya..."
"What are you talking about, Hikaru?" Aya laughed. "Of course, there are restaurants in a hotel. I go to this place all the time."
"Okay..." Hikaru nodded her head unsurely. "If you say so..."
In actuality, Hikaru had never been to a hotel before and had only ever stayed at discount motels, which was the reason for her confusion.
Entering the lavish lobby of the hotel, the place was lightly scattered with men and women dressed in formal attire.
Glancing around the hotel lobby, Hikaru shrinked behind Aya, feeling more and more out of place by the second.
"Aya... everyone here is in suits and dresses..." Hikaru whispered nervously to Aya. "We're just in our school uniform..."
"It's okay, Hikaru," Aya laughed her off, waving a hand. "My family owns this place."
Aya led Hikaru to the reception desk and the receptionist glanced at the pair of them with a judging look.
"Excuse me, girls," the receptionist said as they approached the desk. "But only guests are allowed to use the lavatories here."
"Oh, we're not here to use the lavatories." Aya said, her tone changing to the same elegant one she used at school. "We would like to go up to the Starlight please."
The receptionist's eyes scrolled down to the school uniform that Aya and Hikaru were wearing, and a flash of recognition crossed his eyes.
Clearly, he recognised the distinct burgundy and beige themed uniform of the prestigious Hibiya High School, and his tone relaxed a little.
"Sorry, young misses," the receptionist sighed, "there is a dress code for the Starlight. You will not be allowed in in your current clothing unfortunately."
"Aya, it's okay, we can eat somewhere else..." Hikaru said to Aya.
"Furthermore," the receptionist continued in a tone like he was speaking to children, "you will need at least a three month reservation beforehand to even secure a table at the Starlight. I'd suggest you two to talk to your parents about making a reservation and bring them next time with you."
Aya's lips twitched at that, breaking her facade of elegance.
"What's going on over here?"
The voice of another man rang out in the air and up strolled what was presumably the manager, judging by his more formal attire of an expensive looking three piece suit.
This man held a serious expression on his face with eyes that looked as cold as ice and Hikaru shrunk even further back behind Aya, feeling frightened by his stoic presence.
The receptionist glanced at his superior and tried to explain. "Sir, these two young ladies--"
"A, Aya Kuramoto...!" The manager's serious face immediately broke into a state of stupefied shock upon laying eyes on Aya. "Y, young mistress, what are you doing here...?"
"Well, to eat, of course," Aya laughed, relieved at not having to deal with the ignorant receptionist any longer. "But, it seems like this gentleman over here was informing me and my guest that we aren't allowed in to the Starlight dressed in our school uniforms."
The manager's mouth fell open, then closed, then open, as he thought about what to say.
The receptionist glanced with confusion at the manager.
"These two young misses may be from Hibiya High, but there is no need to..." The receptionist was cut off.
"You buffoon!!" The manager bellowed, whacking the receptionist on the top of the head and the receptionist jumped upright. "Do you not realise who this young mistress is...?!
"U... uh..." The receptionist went speechless, staring at the manager's face that was now red with fury.
"This young mistress is Aya Kuromoto of the Kuromoto family...!" The manager said. "Her family literally owns this hotel and almost half of Japan!"
"I... I didn't know, sir..." The receptionist whimpered in a quiet voice, glancing between the manager and Aya as though unsure who he should be more afraid of.
Meanwhile, Hikaru was just staring with widened eyes at the scene unfolding before her.
"Apologise to the young mistress! At once!" The manager said, and the receptionist immediately walked out from behind the desk so that he could face Aya. The manager quickly followed after him.
"I, I'm so sorry, young mistress...!" The receptionist said upon reaching Aya. He bowed his head apologetically. "P, please forgive my rudeness!"
"I'm extremely sorry for this insolent monkey I hired!" The manager spoke loudly, bowing his head too, and people around the lobby were now turning their heads to look at the commotion. "His incompetence is my responsibility and I take the full blame. Please tell me how you want this situation to be handled."
"Please, please..." Aya laughed. "There's no need for this scene. We just want to eat."
"Your wish is my command," the manager said, the flashed a deathly look at the receptionist. "Thank the young mistress immediately for her kindness!"
"T, thank you...!"
The manager motioned for the other staff standing behind the receptionist desk, and they rushed forward like toy soldiers.
"Take this monkey away," the manager told the other staff, "I'll come back and deal with him later."
"B, but sir...!"
The other staff grabbed the receptionist, taking him away back behind the receptionist desk, and the manager quickly led Aya and Hikaru away from the sight.
"Please come with me, young mistress," the manager said, his stern face stretched out by a wide welcoming smile. "I will escort you personally up to the Starlight myself."
"Uh..." Hikaru said.
"Thank you, that would be greatly appreciated." Aya responded and the two of them began following after the manager.
"It always seems like something like that happens when you're around, huh?" Hikaru laughed weakly next to Aya's side.
"Oh, don't worry about that," Aya replied, her voice changing back to the casual one she used around Hikaru. "You will get used to it."
"Huh... I don't think so..."
The manager led them into a shiny, gold adorned elevator, where Hikaru marvelled at the sight.
"Woah, this elevator's so cool, Aya..."
"Really? It just looks like a normal elevator to me."
The manager pressed the highest button on the elevator, and stood quietly with a smile, allowing Aya and Hikaru to chat together.
When the elevator moved up for a few seconds, the space was suddenly lit with light, and Hikaru gasped.
The elevator was glass framed, and she could now see the streets of Ginza, disappearing from her at a steady pace as the elevator continued upwards.
"A, Aya, look...!" Hikaru said, pointing down through the window. "You can see everything from here!"
"Haha..." Aya scratched the side of her face, not knowing what to say.
It was interesting for Aya to see Hikaru's reaction to everything that she had taken for granted in her life.
It wasn't long before a faint 'ding' sounded from the elevator, and the doors opened.
Hikaru turned around to look and saw the doors had opened to the top level of the hotel, where an intricately fancy restaurant was revealed.
"Come on, Hikaru, let's go in," Aya laughed, waving for her to follow.
Hikaru stepped slowly out of the lift, studying her surroundings in awe.
Meanwhile, Aya was watching the manager impatiently, as he had excused himself to talk to a restaurant staff standing by the front desk.
After the manager made a few frantic explanations, and forced the staff to cross out a booking in the book lying on the desk, the two of them turned to Aya and Hikaru with nervous smiles.
"Please come right this way..." The manager said, extending his hand out towards the restaurant. "I have secured the finest table in the house for you and your guest."
"Great!" Aya said, then turned to Hikaru. "Let's go, Hikaru!"
Hikaru nodded enthusiastically, then the two of them followed the manager as he led them to their table.
It was a window side table, where they had a perfect view of the whole of Ginza. Patrons at other tables were flashing jealous looks over at Aya and Hikaru.
"Thank you!" Hikaru chirped to the manager, and the manager returned a wide smile, seeing that it appeared that Aya's guest was satisfied with the service.
"No, it is my pleasure, young miss." The manager bowed, then went to pull the chair out for Aya so she could sit down.
Hikaru walked over to the other side of the table and sat down at the same time as Aya, and the manager flashed a look of panic, seeing Hikaru take her own seat.
"I, it's okay..." Aya laughed, waving at the manager. "My friend is not from Tokyo, so she is unaware of the customs around here."
"O, oh, of course..." The manager laughed too. "What a delightful companion you have, young mistress. Where if I may ask are you from? Perhaps an exchange student from Europe?"
"Takayama," Hikaru replied and the manager's eyes blinked.
"Please excuse us..." Aya told the manager.
"Of course..." The manager said, then was about to walk away from the table.
"Wait, could you please just get me the usual?" Aya said, and the manager immediately turned back around to hear her request. "And the same for my guest too please."
"Absolutely." The manager nodded, although he had no idea what Aya usually ordered. The waiters would know, however, as they kept a record of what everyone from the Kuromoto family ordered when they dined at the restaurant.
When the manager left, Aya glanced at Hikaru with a pleasant smile.
"Well, what do you think about the place?" Aya asked.
"Really fancy!" Hikaru replied, then glanced around at the other patrons around the place that were dressed in exorbitant-looking clothing. Some of them were glancing over at Hikaru with judging eyes, and Hikaru immediately turned her sight downwards, feeling her face flush with embarrassment.
"Aya... this place is really nice... but I kind of feel out of place..."
"Huh? What do you mean?" Aya blinked. "Was it because of that idiot receptionist? Don't worry about him, Hikaru, I can--"
"N, no, it's not that...!" Hikaru said, glancing up at Aya. "I mean... well... first of all, I'm dressed in my school uniform..."
"So am I,"
"But I'm not like you, Aya..." Hikaru said. "You... you always look like you belong, no matter what you wear..."
Aya blinked again, her wide perfect eyes fluttering, not understanding the meaning of Hikaru's words.
Staring at Aya's graceful face that was made up of dignified features like her arched eyebrows, model-like dimples and raven hair that flowed down the side of her face like silk, Hikaru could understand why no one at the restaurant was giving Aya the same judging eyes that were coming Hikaru's way.
"Nevermind..." Hikaru sighed, then turned her glance to her side out at the window. She kept her stare frozen there rigidly to avoid the eyes around the restaurant.
Hikaru was staring outside silently for a moment, when she felt something touching her hand under the table.
Hikaru glanced down, past the specklessly white tablecloth, to see Aya's hand gently holding onto hers, and glanced back up at Aya with a surprised face.
"Aya..." Hikaru said, a blush growing on her cheeks. "W, what--"
"Shh..." Aya flashed Hikaru a mischievous smile, then her eyes softened. "Cheer up a little, Hikaru... It hurts me when I see something troubling you..."
Hikaru nodded quietly, her face red, with Aya holding onto her hand under the table. A moment of silence passed between the two of them with everyone in the restaurant oblivious to the two girls holding hands.