"I'm so relieved that school is almost over." Teto said, opening her sakura-pink bento box, watching as the brown fried rice glowed in the high sun.
"Do you mean the day almost being over? Or summer vacation?" Luka asked, taking an egg from her own bento box and eating it.
"Both!" Teto cheerfully sang.
Luka was happy to see that Teto seemed to be enjoying the lunches she made... for both of them. They were living together and even though Teto didn't know how to cook, Luka was at least quite skilled at it. It sometimes made Teto feel a bit like Luka's burden, but Luka constantly reminded her that she wasn't. She was anything but a burden to her.
"Okay Teto, say 'aah'." Luka urged to her, holding the chopsticks near her face.
"Luka, I'm not a baby!" Teto said.
"I'm just sharing my lunch with you. You can have my carrots, little bunny."
Teto blushed at how Luka just called her a little bunny.
"I'm... I'm not a little bunny." she pouted.
Luka was being strangely playful today, and Teto was fun to tease, especially how she usually went along with it. And how she nibbled on her food, she did look like a bunnyーso sweet!
Maybe it was the air that made Luka feel this way. The two sat eating lunch on the roof, and it was one of the most pleasant days in June so far. There was a nice continuous breeze and the air wasn't thick or scorching. It was perfect.
Teto loved how free she felt wearing the spring+summer uniform. The sleeves were puffy and short and the skirt was even shorter than the winter uniform's. For the girls in Teto's high school, shorter skirts were a symbol of liberation. Nobody really knew why, but Teto went along with it.
For Luka, a young assistant teacher, she could wear anything as long as it was appropriate. Today she wore a white short-sleeved blouse and capri jeans. Her long hair was tied up in a loose bun, which was uncommon for her, but it made the day just a bit more exciting. Teto thought Luka looked even more elegant with her hair tied up.
During all the break times, Luka hung around with Teto and almost practically became one of the students again. She was only nineteen after all, not that much older than them.
Aside from the carrots, Luka made sure her own lunches were always filled with seafood. Boiled octopus, grilled tuna and salmon, and shrimp rice?
"You really do love seafood." Teto said. "It's like you're a mermaid or something. And you love the ocean a lot, don't you..."
"So, first I'm a fairy, and now I'm a mermaid?" Luka poked at Teto's cheek endearingly.
"But... you're so magical, Luka!" Teto said admiringly, rubbing her cheek. Luka did always have this air of... enchantment around her. Teto couldn't describe it any other way. It always felt as if she were friends with a fairy or a mermaid, being with Luka.
"Now I'm gonna poke Luka's cheek!" Teto singsonged, grabbing onto the taller girl's cheek and squeezing.
"It's soft!" she said. "Luka's face is soft and tender..."
"And Teto is cute like a bunny-fairy." Luka gently took Teto's hand and gently placed it aside. She leaned up slowly and gave Teto a small peck on the cheek.
"Heehee." Teto giggled and blushed.
"Why is Megurine-sensei always with Kasane?"
"I don't know, but I've heard that they're living together..."
People were talking all around the courtyard as the two held hands and made their way to the schoolyard's exit together. But neither Luka and Teto minded. They were best friends after all, even though they weren't both students.
"Student-teacher-relationship" didn't sound like the right words to describe them at all. They were best friends. Girlfriends. Sistersーanything but student-and-teacher.
After school let out and it was still just as nice out, the two stepped on a local bus and headed into town together. It was much too precious and beautiful of a day to spend laying around at home after all.
The bus wasn't crowded today, so the two had a lot of space to sit back and talk amongst themselves. It was a comfortable ride, passing through a lot of sceneryーtrees, blooming flowers, and the pretty houses by the road.
"Say, Teto..." Luka asked.
"Do you have your school swimsuit somewhere in your bag?"
Teto shrugged. "Wait, I think I do... why?"
"Oh, great. It's because I brought my swimsuit today. I was thinking we could go to the recreation center today together and swim."
Teto gasped. "I would LOVE to! Are you going to give me more swimming lessons today, Luka?"
Luka nodded. "You've been doing very well lately, Teto. You just need to work on kicking straight."
"Aw, I don't understand how you someone can be so straight like a board when they're trying hard to stay afloat..."
"Think about it. It's the reason you float when you lay flat on your back. You'll instead just be your front, moving."
Arriving at the recreation center's pool, the two changed into their swimsuits and got ready to go into the indoor pool.
"Luka, you're wearing a bikini?" Teto was surprised to see it. It indeed was a refined beige bikini, a color that looked rather... sexy on Luka.
The sight made Teto blush.
"She looks so... so... so much more attractive than... me. It's a little bit embarrassing..."
"Teto, why are you just standing there?"
Teto looked and saw that Luka was already lowering herself into the shallow end of the pool. Teto wouldn't be able to handle getting into cold water like thatーshe was so sensitive!
"Because, the water is really cold." Teto sighed. "I can't handle temperatures..."
It was both an excuse and the truth. Teto couldn't handle cold water, it literally pained her to get in water and pools when they weren't heated. Even though she would get used to it, it was the initial shock...
"Give me a nice warm bath any day..." Teto began daydreaming, imagining the pool being filled with steamy lukewarm water.
Lukewarm? Teto thought that was a weird word. Luke-warm. Who's Luke? Why is he warm? Luke... Luke? Luka...
"I wish the water was Luka-warm!" Teto spontaneously declared.
"Hm?" Luka said, confused.
"Just lukewarm water isn't enough! I want Luka-warm water! Lukawarm! Warm like Luka-chan's heart!"
Luka finally got the joke and laughed with her face in her hands, blushing.
Teto was now warmed up enough inside to lower herself in the water... and she didn't even feel a bit cold when she did.
She was imagining that the water was "Lukawarm".
----------(that joke didn't translate well into Japanese ha ha ha)--------
"Now, are we going to continue learning freestyle? Breaststroke?"
Luka was especially good at breaststroke, that and backstroke. In fact... every stroke, really.
"I wonder if you need... breasts to be good at breast-stroke." Teto thought, glancing at her own chest... "That would explain why... why Luka's so much better than me at it..."
"Teto?" Luka tried getting her attention again. "You're quite a little daydreamer."
"Oh! I want to do freestyle today." Teto answered, "It sounds very 'free' to me."
Interrupting them, there was a greeting voice from the bleachers.
"Hey! Teto-chan! Megurine-sensei!"
It was Teto's classmate Megumi, or by her nickname, Gumi. She was outside the pool, walking on the sidelines with her bag.
"It's interesting seeing you here." she waved her usual hyper and awkward wave. "I knew you two were close, but you do activities together too, huh."
"Yep! Hey, Gumicchi!" Teto called to her. "Are you going to swim too?"
Gumi shook her head. "No... I was only at the recreation center's art club. I go here sometimes after it's finished just to get inspiration. Because..."
Gumi paused to take in in the cool, "blue" atmosphere of the indoor pool.
"I draw manga, I love drawing pictures of people playing sports, since there's so many sports anime I love. And what better place to be inspired than a swimming pool? I've always adored water too, so I love being next to the pool and drawing here, heehee."
"Oh, cool!" Teto said. "Have fun! Luka's teaching me swimming right now!"
"Oh, okay!" Gumi had a strange sparkle in her eye.
"Um... do you mind if I... if I use you two as inspiration?"
"Um, sure?" Luka responded casually as she could.
"Haha, yaaay! Thanks, you guys!" Gumi spazzed and practically flew to the nearby bench with her sketchbook held tightly in her hand.
Luka eyed Teto bashfully.
"You're like a little water guppy, Teto." Luka endearingly eyed her as she bounced and dunked herself in the water.
Teto felt so natural in the water, as if she were a fish. But if she were a fish...
"Then Luka's surely a mermaid!" Teto said. "You act just the same in the water, except you can do all the moves and flips... how do you do that, anyway?"
Luka bashfully shrugged. Sometimes Teto's admiration for her got her a small bit overwhelming.
Soon Luka started the lesson by having Teto hold her arm to the pool wall.
"Keep your arms streamlinedーthat means bend them as little as you can. Try for long, straight kicks. You'll get used to it."
"Okay..." Teto kicked until she got a steady rhythm, but when she let go of the wall, she splashed through the water and sank, as bent as a snapped branch.
"Ungh..." she surfaced after a failed attempt. "It's easy to do it holding onto the wall... but why not without it?"
"It's probably just your nerves, Teto." Luka answered. "Just do as you always do on the wall, and don't even think about how you're no longer holding onto it. Okay?"
Teto nodded. "Uh-huh... I'll try!"
This time, when she let go, she glided a nice few meters before she started sinking... and she lifted her head from the water and saw Luka clapping.
"Great job, you did it!" she said delightfully.
"Wow, I did! It's because of you." Teto said sheepishly.
Gumi snapped a picture.
"Okay! Now I want to watch Luka swim all the way across the pool and back!" Teto urged.
The two had finished their lesson period for today.
"Because, it's amazing!" Teto cheered. "You look like you're flying! Soaring! Pease? I want to watch again..."
"Fine... just once."
"Luka's so tsundere..." Gumi said from the bleachers.
From her same spot, the taller girl gallantly dove into the pool, spread her arms and started doing freestyle.
"Wow!" Gumi instantly pulled out her camera again and snapped pictures.
"No, pictures aren't enough. I need to FILM this!"
Standing high on the bleachers, Gumi pressed film mode and centered it right on Luka, who was gliding towards the deep endー10 feet deep near the diving boards.
"Wow! This is enthralling!" she squealed. "Such technique..."
Once Luka got to the other end, she did an amazing moveーa flip turn, gracefully, powerful and in perfect timing. After pushing off the wall, she surfaced gracefully like a...
"It feels like I'm watching a mermaid!" Gumi shouted.
"I know, right?" Teto shouted back to Gumi.
Once Luka got back, she let go off the edge slowly into the shallow end with Teto, her face completely red.
"Aww, is Luka-chan all embarrassed?" Teto hugged her and felt warmth beating from her skin.
"Eh, wow. You're so hot."
Luka blushed even deeper.
"N-no! Not THAT kind of hot!" Teto talked louder. "I mean, you're really warm. Are you okay?"
"To be honest... I used a lot of energy." Luka said. "I'm not... as amazing at everything as you act like I am. Sorry..."
"Huh..." Teto slumped, feeling like she had hurt Luka's feelings.
"Aww." Gumi leaned in to watch the scene.
"Don't say that..." Teto clutched onto the older girl's shoulder.
"I admire you, and you're my role model too. Why do you never believe in yourself?"
Luka shifted her eyes towards Teto and away.
"Because... there's much less distance between you and me than you seem to act." Luka said. "You treat me like I'm so much above you, but it isn't true at all. I don't like to feel as if I'm 'better' than anyone. So what I'm trying to say is..."
Luka patted Teto, trying to say it as nicely as she could.
"Please don't treat me as if I'm better than you. I'm only the same."
Teto sighed. "Alright..." she said softly, after a pause. "But... Luka, can I still admire you? Please?"
Teto looked at her, with large, innocent drooping eyes. A quavering little worried face.
The face Luka couldn't possibly say "no" to.
Luka signed and smiled. "Sure you can... because,"
Luka began stroking Teto's cheek, swept away all of a sudden.
"How could I say 'no' to your face? You're so cute, Teto."
Teto found herself blushing again.
"Luka... I'm not that cute..."
Teto began to float on her back, closing her eyes and sighing. She simply could just drift off to sleep.
"I just realized I could do this recently." she said, as the water covered and cooled her entire backside.
"Ah, yes..." Luka was suddenly floating on her back, right alongside Teto "It's relaxing, isn't it?"
The two girls joined hands in the position, and Teto slowly closed her eyes. In her vision, colorful jellyfish were floating around her and she was holding onto the hand of a mermaid... floating across an enchanted, warm, waveless sea with her...
"Let me just tell you two that I got ÜBER INSPIRED TODAY." Gumi eccentricly ran up and twirled in front of Teto and Luka.
"Because of you! I just made the CUTEST one-shot comic I've made in the longest time! Toooodles!"
Gumi ran off, laughing her mad inspired artist laugh.
Teto and Luka stood there sweating nervously.
"So... we're both cute...?"
The two eyed each other momentarily and shrugged.
"Teto, may I brush your hair?" Luka asked, undoing Teto's hair ties and letting her billowy damp hair down.
Teto's hair, now uncoiled and reaching to almost her hips, continued to bounce and fly away in even smaller tufts.
"Oh my..." Luka said, trying to brush her hair down. "But it's still very soft."
She patted her hair a little and Teto closed her eyes, imagining she was at a beauty salon.
"When you're done, I wanna brush Luka's hair too." Teto said softly.
After a few moments, Teto's hair was in perfect, shiny waves, looking beautiful as it trailed down.
"But when it dries, it'll just bounce back up to its usual shape again." Teto said.
"Hm, would you like if I tried a new hairstyle though?" Luka suggested.
"Maybe... maybe you can braid it."
Luka left Teto's hair down and began to braid the halves so that they'd point downwards.
"Yeah, like that. I've never worn that style before." Teto said sheepishly. "I wonder if it will stay, and not coil up again this time."
Once Luka was finished, Teto's hair seemed to stay down. It made her look quite different though, almost to the point of being unrecognizable. She looked more mature, but still retained her spunky appearance.
"Don't worry, I can still tell it's you." Luka said, once Teto was brushing her own hair.
"You always have the same face."
Luka had the kind of long hair that was straight and slightly wavy, but began to curl up near the ends.
"Okay, so... how about I put you in pigtails?" Teto spunkily suggested.
"Hm? I don't think... do you think I'd really look fine in pigtails?"
Luka unexpectedly seemed a bit antsy.
"Hm? Of course. Why?"
"I guess... I'm not like you, Teto. I can't make them work. I'm not... cute the way you are."
"Huh? But I think Luka is mega-cute."
Teto gave her a gentle hug from behind as Luka embarrassedly tried to break away.
"I'll just make you wear them anyway! And don't you dare say you don't look good in them."
Once she finished tying Luka's hair up, Teto needed to use the toilet.
"Carry me there."
"Why?" Luka looked at her with icy eyes.
"The toilet is far!" Teto complained, cutely. "The toilet is a tooi-let! A tooi-let!"
(note: "tooi" means far in Japanese.)
Luka giggled as if she was going to be gentle, but suddenly...
Luka pushed Teto into the bathroom, laughing at how she suddenly got a bit playful again.
"Oooh, it's right here! I thought it would be far away..." Teto said, once she saw that the toilet was right in front of her.
Once the stall was closed and Luka was alone, she looked at herself in the nearby mirror...
"Hm..." she brushed her hands through her pigtails, watching strands of hair spread out and trail along her fingers.
Slowly she smiled.
"La la, la..."
And posed a bit, put her hands to her face, sang a little bit... smiled and giggled some.
And began to twirl around, watching her hair move about...
"Heehee, oh my..."
She saw Teto's white and blue high school uniform laying flat on the nearby locker room bench and had an idea.
She held the uniform top up to herself... ah-hah... it looked nice. It matched well with her pigtails.
Next she got Teto's short blue skirt and awkwardly slid it on...
She skipped around to make the skirt swish a bit, her long pigtails trailing along with it. She felt young, cute, happy... like she was floating almost. Like she was encompassed by radiance and bliss... wearing pigtails with a high school uniform. Dancing in twintails and a short skirt...
Before Luka was aware, Teto had emerged from the bathroom stall with her mouth wide open.
"Luka... Luka? What are you... doing, dancing... in my uniform?" she asked, somewhat shuddering.
The soft cloud of bliss that Luka was floating in... solidified painfully and noisily shattered to the ground...
Luka agonizingly turned around to Teto's scared expression, and blushed the deepest she had all day. She was embarrassed.
Her cover... had been blown.
"Oh, so I see. You just wanted to feel like a high school girl."
Teto and Luka were sitting on a bench together near a field they had walked to. Soyokaze was located in the countryside after all, so there were many scenic wide open fields, with benches scattered in sometimes the most mysterious of places.
"Yes... I guess. I was a bit jealous of you, Teto. You're always so cute. And me... I'm not. I guess I just wanted to feel cute too. Once I realized I didn't look as bad as I thought I'd look in pigtails, I couldn't help myself."
Luka had on an embarrassed smile, one that said "I'm such a dork, haha."
"Oh. Do you miss being a high school student, Luka?" Teto asked.
"In a way." Luka wistfully replied. "I've never had the chance to attend a Japanese high school, since I grew up overseas. Once I got here, I guess I found myself feeling jealous of the students and their school life. And the uniform... it's so cute. I've always wanted to wear it but I've been too shy and it would be awkward to tell anyone."
"Oh." Teto sprawled herself back and leaned closer to Luka.
"Well, if it makes you feel better, I seriously think you're cute, Luka. Maybe even cuter than me..."
"Oh, please Teto. Don't lie to me like that." Luka said, somewhat jokingly.
"How could you possibly think that I'm cuter than you are, little bunny?"
Suddenly, Luka squeezed Teto lovingly, stroking lightly at her bangs and playing with her sweet little braids.
"You're very cute Teto. Very, very cute."
After Luka let Teto go, the two looked at the sky together, encompassed in a serene moment.
"That's a beautiful sunset, isn't it, Luka." Teto said, musing at the way the sun shone bright rays behind a low pink cloud.
Luka, who had an eye for beauty, responded with a slow nod.
On the ground, Teto spotted a strange white rabbit, sitting still near her feet. The rabbit had a dreamy little expression on its face, as it twitched its nose and blinked.
"Luka, look." Teto poked Luka's shoulder and pointed towards the ground with her finger.
"The rabbit is looking at me."
It's white fur was marvelous and glowed in the sunset, almost as if light was shining from the animal itself. It instantly caught Luka's eye as well.
"It's a pretty rabbit." Luka said. "Strange too. Rabbits around here usually aren't white."
"I think it reminds me of you!" Teto said.
"Huh? It's more like you, Teto. It's cute and has chubby cheeks. Plus, you're a little bunny. Not me!"
The rabbit suddenly stood up twice before promptly jumping up into Teto's lap.
"Oh!" both girls were startled once the rabbit began to curl up on Teto's thighs as if they were nice and comfortable.
"Aww..." Teto gently stroked it's soft shiny fur and the rabbit began to slowly close it's eyes and curl up even more.
"It likes you a lot, Teto."
"I wonder if it's hungry..." Teto pulled a raw carrot piece out of her pocket.
"Wait... Teto! Where did you get that from?"
"You gave it to me, remember?" Teto said.
"I... I thought you ate those carrots, Teto!"
Teto shook her head. "I don't like carrots. I just didn't want to hurt your feelings."
"You also could've given them to carrot-lover Gumi. We saw her earlier, remember?"
"But at that time the carrots were in the locker room, Luka! And Gumi isn't an animal!"
While they were talking, the rabbit began to stand on its hind legs to nibble the carrot Teto held in her palm.
"Aww, it's eating!"
Teto and Luka quieted and watched the rabbit nibble.
"It's getting late." Luka watched as the color of the sky slowly progressed from orange to red-violet.
"We should to home now, Teto."
"Aww, okay. Goodbye, bunny." Teto gently picked the small rabbit up and set it back on the ground, petting it before she drew back her arm. "Thanks for spending time with us. Now you be good, okay?"
Luka smiled endearingly, touched by how nicely Teto treated animals.
As they slowly headed away, the rabbit sprung up and ran to Teto's feet again.
Teto paused and the rabbit paused as well. It stood on its hind legs again and twitched its nose at her.
"It really likes you, Teto." Luka tapped her.
"Great. Now I can't leave the bunny alone." Teto pouted.
"Oh well. I've always wanted a pet. Luka... do you mind if we keep it? Please?" she begged.
Luka smiled, nodding.
"Of course, Teto! Except... I'm not good with animals. I've never cared for one. But I'm sure you are good with them, right?"
Teto nodded. "Yeah. I can always understand 'em. I think this little guy wants to be my friend."
"So," Luka said. "What shall we name it?"
"Hmm... I was thinking of a name that has a little bit of us in it. Something begginint in "Lu"? Lu..."
Luka went along. "Lu... Luna? Because I'm Luka, and I like tuna..."
"No... it doesn't really have any of me in it..." Teto shrugged.
"I guess not." Luka said again.
"Lu... Luigi! Hah, just joking. Lu..." Teto finally had an epiphany.
"Lunette! That's her name, Lunette, because... "Lu" from Luka... "ne" from Kasane and Megurine, and "-te" from Teto!"
Luka aww'ed. "That's a great name. It fits..."
"I think it does too. Because this bunny... I feel like it's no normal bunny. I feel like Lunette is special in some way. She shines like she came from the moon... I guess we'll find out sooner or later! Come on Lunette."
Teto scooped the rabbit off the ground and gently cuddled it in her arm.
"Let's go home together."
"But... Teto, we're going to have ride the bus home, right?" Luka reminded her.
"Oh, right..." Teto froze in disappointment, but suddenly remembered... "Oh, but there's an adoption center nearby! We could say we're adopting this rabbit, get a cage, and carry her home in it!"
The two strolled back down the field, Teto gently cradling the rabbit in her hands as it fell asleep.
It was the end of one bright, sparkling day together for them. And there would be many, many, many more yet to come.