Story: Familiar Unfamiliarity (chapter 6)

Authors: Love-is-god

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Chapter 6

"Okay, everyone, settle down," Yoshinoya chided them cheerfully, crack! The sharp snap of her new riding crop on her desk made for quick compliance. Yoshinoya appeared to realize that she was smiling far too cheerfully for a hard-bitten military officer, and tried to arrange her face into some measure of severity. She failed, to a chorus of giggles and general amusement from the rest of the class. Crack! Again she slapped the desk, giving up on a serious expression.

"It's so nice to see all of your faces again!" Crack! The students winced at the sound. Unconsciously, they found themselves sitting straighter in their desks, carrying themselves in such a way as to appear the textbook example of perfect classroom behavior. They weren't sure if they were actually doing something wrong, but they didn't want her flailing about all day with her new toy. Crack!

Yoshinoya didn't seem to notice her students flinching every time, it didn't sound so loud to her under her padded helmet, "Now, I usually like to start off the year with a nice, simple drawing assignment. It's such a nice day, too, but because I don't want the principal to see me, why don't we find some nice motif in here?" Her eyes roamed over the room, and she swished her crop around negligently.

"I've got it! Why you all pair up and use a partner as a model? That's easy. If there's an odd number of people in the class, of if there's any groups that just prefer, I'm completely willing to pose for you," there were an even number, and when all the milling around was done they all preferred to sketch a classmate. It wasn't so much that they didn't like their teacher, or didn't think she would make a good model, it was just that she was fond enough of posing that she wouldn't stay still long enough for a proper sketch. Combine that with general unwillingness to present the teacher with a bad sketch of herself, and it was a rare occasion when anybody took her up on her frequent offers of modeling. Yuno and Miyako had, of course, immediately turned to one another when Yoshinoya had explained the nature of their assignment. Then, unusually, they had both looked away. Miyako smiled tentatively at her.

"Yuno-chi, partners?"

Yuno looked relieved, "Of course." They opened their desks to gather their materials. Yuno took out her new sketchbook for this year and flipped the cover open to its fresh first page. She was glad to see that Miyako had gotten a new sketchbook as well, but then she noticed that Miyako also flipped over the first page, and Yuno saw a drawing on the back, though it was hidden under the back of the pad before she could make it out.

"Miya-chan, what were you sketching that other night?" Yuno asked curiously, trying to break some residual awkwardness. Miyako looked at her for a moment, wide-eyed, and quickly flipped another page over to completely obscure whatever it was.

"Nothing, nothing. I'm a little embarrassed and don't want to show it." Yuno blinked. Miyako, embarrassed? "So, we need to take turns at this," Miyako continued quickly, "Would you like to go first, or would it be better if I--"

"No, I'll go ahead and go first." Yuno said quickly. Sketching was relaxing, and it kept her eyes moving and busy. If she was the model she wouldn't have much more to do than to sit there, be still, and watch Miyako work. So she picked up her pencil and held it before her, trying to get a good sense of depth and perspective on her motif. Target locked on, she thought involuntarily, as she couldn't help but do now. But then she frowned. Her perspective was fine, but there was something amiss with her subject.

"Miya-chan, what's wrong, why do you look so sad?"

"Sad? I do?" Miyako said, genuinely surprised, "I... I suppose I am, a little bit," she'd been watching Yuno, and she looked so jumpy and preoccupied, even the smiles she directed at Miyako put atop a layer of distraction, and Miyako was certain it was all her fault. She felt a little hurt; it was just one little mishap. Did Yuno think that Miyako was trying to do those sorts of things to her all of the time now? Normally, if she thought that somebody had a misunderstanding about her, Miyako would have no trouble at all swiftly talking to them and trying to correct that mistake. There was just one problem with that, this time, and that was Miyako's memory. In all reality, there was absolutely no reason whatsoever to even think that Yuno was the girl from her dream. Conversely, though, there was no reason to assume she wasn't . How that troubling little possibility had snuck into her head at all, she didn't know, but she couldn't seem to get rid of it. The problem with that thought was there was a good reason for Yuno to not be the girl, and that was because she was her best friend, and she just wanted her to be a best friend, she didn't... she didn't feel...

That was as far as she'd been getting with this particular train of thought lately. The same reason she couldn't smile and pretend like everything was normal, or why she couldn't reassure Yuno on this score, was the same reason she couldn't continue that train of thought: she was a bad liar. She could tease and joke with a perfectly straight face, all in good fun, but this obviously was far out of that realm. Miyako of course really, really liked Yuno as her best friend; she loved her sweet, innocent, sometimes clumsy little counterpart. Being a friend had been so nice and fun that she'd never had time to consider that she might not only want to be a friend. Explaining that didn't sound like fun, but Miyako decided that even barring a real explanation, she could still try to talk to Yuno.

"Yuno-chi, are you made at me?" Miyako asks suddenly, "Because you know, this morning, I didn't really mean..." Miyako still, somehow, tried to say that anyway, to set her friends mind at east. She wa still a terrible liar, though.

"What? Mad at you?" Yuno asks in return, her turn to be surprised now, "No, not at all!" Why would Miyako think she was upset at her? Yuno just wanted to know why Miyako looked so sad, had she sounded harsh when she asked? Did she seem like she was upset since this morning? Yuno wasn't sure what she was, but it sure wasn't angry. She could reassure Miyako on that account, and also, what else had Miyako had just said? That hesitant tone of voice, reference to this morning, the unfinished thought... what Miyako "didn't" was pretty clear, even to the chronically naïve Yuno. Yuno thought vaguely that she should be happy about that, Miyako "didn't." Now that she knew for sure, there was no reason for her to think about the incident. No reason to think about her first kiss. She was probably being silly, anyway. A first kiss was supposed to leave a girl dazed and confused, that's what she'd been told, so it must be that it didn't matter who it was. That was it. That would explain the butterflies in her stomach and the unfamiliarity of her own thoughts. That would surely explain the sinking sensation in the pit of her stomach at Miyako's assurance. Of course it did.

"Oh, so you didn't--I mean, why would I be mad at you, Miya-chan?" Yuno tried her best to smile. Miyako saw that she had to try, and wasn't very reassured.

"Okay, Yuno-chi. Go ahead," she said anyway. Yuno picked up her pencil again, and used the incongruously somber Miyako as her model.


"Okay, everybody, please come present me with your work. You can come up in pairs for criticisms." Yoshinoya called out when they had about fifteen minutes left in the period. Miyako's eyes moved from their patrol between Yuno and her sketchpad, and she noted a par of finished students moving up already.

"I think you have some time to finish, Miya-chan, sorry for taking so long," Yuno apologized, though she really hadn't taken that long at all, and Miyako was about to complete hers in about the same amount of time. Miyako nodded tersely, completely caught up in her work in a way that she didn't often feel. She felt a bit inspired by Yuno, who had achieved a similarly serious expression when she had taken her turn. Miyako felt she should try and be so conscientious of her own efforts. So she tried to get just perfect the line of her lips and the curve of the mouth, to show in some way with the light marks of dull gray the brightness of Yuno's eyes and the softness of her hair; to lay out the gentle lines of her cheeks and jaw, the attractively neat angles of her brow and nose, all in such a way as to somehow convey who Yuno was and what she meant to the person who had put her to paper.

All to soon, it seemed, she wanted to look at her model one more time, to see if there was anything at all she might be able to do, but her model was gone. Yuno was standing beside her, laying a hand on her shoulder, and telling her that they needed to go give Yoshinoya in their papers, all of the other students had done so and gone. Miyako shook her head, shaking clear the odd daze that comes from concentrating on something very hard for quite a time. She jumped up, and they walked to the front desk together.

"My, you two, you looked as though you were really trying your very best on this assignment. Let me see how you did," Miyako extended her paper, but it met Yuno's in the air. They both retracted, halfway extended, made gestures of invitation with their hands, and finally Yoshinoya gently reached out and grabbed them both. Yuno and Miyako waited expectantly.

"Oh my, you two seem to have gotten much better since I had you in class last year, and you were two of my better students anyway," she praised, looking down at the papers speculatively. She turned to both of them.

"These are such very nice sketches, Yuno-san, Miyako-san. You really gave them everything you had, for someone close to you, and that love really comes through when someone looks at this," she turned the papers over, and Yuno and Miyako both gave a start, they'd not gotten to see the other's drawings yet. They were incredibly different, but both breathtaking for what they were. Yuno's work spoke of the world and the way the heart saw it, Miyako's work spoke of the heart and the way it was seen in the world. While Yuno had used a very accurate, realistic style to show her feelings, Miyako used her feelings and a strange, mind-bending style to depict the realities of the world that couldn't be seen. Yuno's representation of Miyako was gorgeous in both its reality and imagination. There on Miyako's face was a carefree, lopsided grin that she knew she loved to wear, but that she hadn't been just now. Everything else about the picture, though, appeared frighteningly lifelike compared to the time that had been put into it. You could almost count the hairs in the bangs that lay across her forehead. It spoke of the reality of the Miyako in front of her, and the wish for a Miyako that she had known, juxtaposed into a single lovely piece. But while one could see so clearly how Yuno saw the world in her sketch, one could see how Miyako thought about the world in her own. There in the depicted Yuno's features was something that seemed to suggest to the viewer the warmth her cheeks, the softness of her hair, the sweetness of her voice. But just as easy to feel somewhere in the paper was distracted tilt to her head, the wistful turn to her lips, and the hint of melancholy hidden behind eyes that somehow seemed to shine with life from the paper.

Yoshinoya looked a them speculatively, "Obviously, you two are getting high marks for today's lesson, and I know to expect good things from you this year. Might I ask to hold onto these sketches?"

"Well, actually-"


Yoshinoya smiled, and wordlessly placed them back on the desk next to their owner, then got up and headed to the door. They grabbed their sketches and went back to put up their things, then walked to the door. Yoshinoya was still there and holding it open for them.

"Have a good day, you two. Oh,and Yuno-san: Miyako-san probably has good reason for not smiling right now, she'll smile like that again when she works through it. And Miyako-san: Don't worry so much, you two are very good friends, and I'm sure Yuno-san would tell you if she was upset with you. Even so, if you two are worried about these things, you should find some time to talk about them together and stop being such wet blankets about the whole business."

They blinked at her. Yoshinoya had, on occasion, bestowed some gem of wisdom to her students in an uncommon display of intuition and maturity, but it still came as a surprise every time from the person they were just as accustomed to see whining about her parents or speaking with a trembling lip after getting scolded by the principal. They looked at one another, a little sheepish at how awkward they'd been behaving.

That's it, Miyako thought to herself: after school today she would go to the Beri mart, buy herself some ice cream, and give her mind a thorough inspection. That was a task she never took lightly, and rarely ever took at all.

Hiro, Yuno thought, after school today she would go talk to her older classmate, who would surely be able to help her with her questions, and who she could trust with what she had to say. Sae would be good too, but she felt like Hiro would be more gentle in her reaction.

Nodding a simultaneous affirmative that neither noticed in the other, they headed out to lunch and the rest of their day.

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