~ ~ ~
If Rena had known the seriousness behind the younger girl’s request for a “play date” that day, she reckoned she probably wouldn’t have agreed to it as quickly as she had.
Rena had expected it to be something simple, like lunch or shopping for an hour or two in the city – so when Jurina had promptly shown up at her house with her arms full of gaming equipment, Rena quickly began to feel the onset of a migraine.
The older girl massaged her temples as she stood in her kitchen, unenthusiastically watching a bag of popcorn rotate in the microwave. The motion was somehow…relaxing, Rena thought, as the timer for the machine slowly wound down – but the temporary peacefulness was broken at the sound of her guest’s voice.
“Rena-chaaaaaan~” Jurina yelled from the other side of the room where she was mucking about near her television.
‘Indoor voice, Jurina.’ Rena’s thoughts pleaded for her to say out loud, but she ignored them and replied as civilly as she could with the pain in her head, “…Yes?”
The younger girl peeked out from behind the television, “There’s something wrong with your tv. It’s not picking up the display for the Xbox.”
Rena groaned – Jurina was setting up the Kinect, great. Never having been the extreme gaming type, let alone the type to prefer using one’s own body as the controller…Rena had tolerated the endless hours of having to use the Kinect when she and Jurina were promoting it. To use one willingly, would be a real chore. “Just jiggle the cord in the back.” She replied.
“It’s ok, I just kicked it a bit and it’s working now.”
Rena paused massaging her head, “You what?!” she turned sharply.
“Are you sure that popcorn’s not burning?” Jurina replied off-handedly.
“Shit!” the older girl made a mad scramble to stop the microwave.
* * *
After having to make a new bag of popcorn, Rena made her way from the kitchen to where Jurina was now sitting comfortably on her couch shuffling through games that they were supposedly going to play.
So caught up in choosing a game, Jurina didn’t acknowledge the other girl’s presence, but Rena didn’t bother her as she sat down on the couch beside the younger girl. She looked really cute and childish, Rena noted as she observed quietly with a smile – this was the Jurina that Rena loved the most.
Rena tried to suppress a giggle when Jurina all but threw the games at the tv. “Why don’t you just play that snowboarding one?”
Jurina scoffed, “But I don’t feel like playing that one…which one do you want to play?”
“Me? Oh…well, I don’t really want to play yet. I was just going to watch you go at it for a bit…” Rena trailed off as she noticed the other girl’s expression become more and more unimpressed by her words.
“But I brought this so we could play together.” Jurina pointed to the Kinect with a look on her face that made the older girl feel like a horrible person.
With a reluctant sigh, Rena waved her hands in defeat. “Ok ok. I, uh…I like that zoo animal one.” She fished the game from Jurina’s lap.
But the younger girl wasn’t biting and replied flatly, “Rena, that one’s boring.”
“Well, you asked which one I liked!” Rena snapped back.
Jurina ignored her and stood enthusiastically, “Dance Central it is!”
Rena groaned as Jurina started up the game – didn’t they already get enough dancing during their lessons and stages?
Jurina smiled to herself, Rena was so easy to manipulate. As fun as it was with all the new experiences that came with being in a concurrent position with Team K, Jurina missed the simple life of being more involved with her own group.
Being so busy all of the time, school work aside, left Jurina pretty drained most of the time and in the recent months she’d been battling with stress and poor health as well. These days, Jurina had virtually no time to just rest and have fun like most other kids her age, so sadly enough, she had to almost rely on physical injuries to force her to stop every once in a while.
So in a way, Jurina was somewhat glad for her latest foot injury, as it gave her time to do things like visit Rena’s house for a play date.
After she was done with the setup, Jurina turned to the other girl and smiled brightly, “Are you gonna get up or do I have to drag you from that couch?”
Not really in the mood to protest, Rena placed the bowl she was holding on a nearby table and stood up beside Jurina. “Ok, but before we start I have some rules. One, this is just for fun…so don’t go getting all competitive on me.” Rena said sternly and waved an accusing finger in the other girl’s direction – Jurina always did have a problem with competitiveness.
“And two…we’ll only play for a short while, cause I’m tired and it’ll be much more relaxing to just watch a movie or something.”
“Yes Rena-dono!” Jurina mocked the other girl’s seriousness with an overly respectful bow.
Rena sighed and rolled up her sleeves – this would not go well.
* * *
A few stressful hours later found both Rena and Jurina on their backs, facing the ceiling from the floor and nearly passed out from exertion. As the older girl fought to catch her breath, Jurina just laid there laughing uncontrollably.
“It’s not funny Jurina!” Rena said between gasps. “I told you not to do that, but what did you do? You went and got all competitive anyway!”
“I can’t help it. I guess when I’m with you I get like that…” Jurina’s laughter died down and she was quiet for a minute before continuing, “I guess when I’m around you, I always get this feeling like I don’t want to lose.”
Rena frowned. Sure the group was competitive, but it’s not like Jurina had anything in particular to lose against her anyway. Jurina was very admirable and unique in her own way, possessing many things and mindsets that Rena wished she herself had at that age. It often bothered her that Jurina compared herself to others so often – Rena thought such feelings put a huge amount of stress on the poor girl.
The older girl had hoped that even in their downtime Jurina could just relax and have fun instead of worrying about such things like ‘losing’.
“Jurina…” Rena said quietly, “…what are you so worried about losing?”
Rena was taken off-guard by the response, “What?”
Jurina sighed, and rolled over to her stomach, “I don’t know…I guess I feel like we’ve been growing further apart as time goes on.” As she spoke, Jurina played with some strands of Rena’s hair that were splayed out between them from where Rena was still on her back. “We used to do so much together and now our jobs seem so distant. I’m rarely at stage shows, we don’t do many photo-shoots or commercials anymore. All that we do still get is work on the singles and even then…it feels more like we’re just two industry professionals working on a gig.”
Jurina laughed bitterly, “I mean, I know it’s a little childish to say something as simple as ‘I miss you’ and what we had – so that’s why I often try to act older. Because I feel that if I’m at least on par with you, then maybe I’ll be able to stand closer to you again.”
Rena was silent the entire time and as the other girl talked, she felt a tinge of sadness in her heart. As mature as Jurina was inside and out, she was still very much a child – a child that had virtually grown up in the throes of the idol industry. While children grow, they often hold onto memories or good experiences to better cope with their ever-changing environment. Rena hadn’t realized that Jurina was probably yearning for the same thing – comforts that she had grown up with, that settled her during the ongoing ups and downs they faced.
Listening to the girl just now, made Rena realize that she was probably one of those comforts.
“Ahh, it’s pretty silly huh?” Jurina sat up quickly and moved over by the couch, picking up the bowl of popcorn along the way. Rena’s silence made her feel like she had said something stupid. “Just…never mind what I said.”
“No.” Rena said sternly, “It’s not silly at all Jurina.” She sat up as well, and crawled over to the couch. Jurina wouldn’t look up from the bowl she was nursing in her lap, so Rena simply sat on the floor in front of the girl, forcing Jurina’s attention to her.
“You may think that you have to try hard to reach me, but Jurina, I often feel it’s the other way around. I always feel like you’re slipping away from me as you grow.” Rena poked the nose on one of Jurina’s dog-shaped slippers. “To me, it feels like I’m always watching your back as you run forward. But that’s just you; you’re a runner and we both know that you’ve always been much faster than me when it comes to running…right?” She asked in a joking tone and smiled when the other girl giggled.
“So that’s why I thought that being so close to you all the time would only hinder your progress…and I would feel like a horrible person for asking you to wait for me when you have so much potential.”
“Rena…” Jurina started, but Rena shook her head.
“That image of you standing ahead of me…it’s one I can never forget. It constantly reminds me that in order to keep the things I care about close to me, I have to try harder to move forward and catch them. I can’t rely on them slowing down for me.”
Rena paused and looked at the other girl, not speaking again until Jurina looked back. “I want you to promise me something Jurina. Don’t ever lose sight of yourself as you move forward. Trust me, although getting older will allow you to do more things…it’s your youthful innocence that moves you ahead.”
“I want you to remember, no matter what happens and how distant we may become, I…and all of SKE will always be there, ready to catch you if you fall.” Rena sat up to her knees and held out her pinky finger. “Please promise me you’ll remember that.”
Jurina slowly nodded and reached out, locking her pinky with Rena’s own. The older girl’s words had been settling. She often didn’t have time to confide in other members about her feelings. “Rena, thanks.”
Rena smiled, “Sometimes you worry too much. Believe me when I say that, although I may not show it all the time, you’re very special to me – more than just a little sister.” Rena bit her lip, unsure of how to word it, “You’re like, my partner in crime…you know I couldn’t head SKE without you. I guess I just want you to know that there will always be a special place in my heart for you. A place that no one else…no one, could ever fill. Ok?” Rena’s eyes pleaded for understanding which the younger girl accepted with a firm nod.
Finally taking a deep breath, Rena couldn’t help but become lost in Jurina’s gaze as they looked at one another. In the moment they had just shared, Jurina had looked so young and so innocent in her expression, that it made Rena’s heart flutter with renewed feeling.
And it seemed even Jurina herself had found some renewed courage because before Rena realized it, the young girl was leaning forward, dangerously close to her lips. Before Jurina could reach her goal, Rena stopped her with a finger to the other’s lips, “And just what do you think you’re doing?”
“I…well, I couldn’t help it…” Jurina began to blush from her own actions.
“I’m pretty sure you’ve already reached your quota for this month.” Rena said matter-of-factly and Jurina just pouted.
Jurina was a kissing monster, that…everyone knew. And being so close to the girl since the group’s debut, Rena had learned very quickly that in her own weakness, it was near impossible to fight Jurina off when the young girl had the urge to attack – not to mention that Jurina was becoming more and more skillful at surprise kiss attacks with age. So a long time ago, Rena had set up a system to keep Jurina’s impulses in check. Jurina had a monthly limit for kisses, and once that quota was exhausted, there was no kissing until the next reset. It was one of ‘WMatsui’s’ hidden secrets that stayed solely between the two girls – and Rena was surprised that Jurina had honored her word.
The only problem as of late was their latest single. And although their kiss didn’t have to be real, it certainly gave Jurina a lot more chances for sneak attacks and near misses. So Jurina had no problem reaching her quota much quicker this term.
Rena kept her eyes on the girl, slowly losing the will to protest as Jurina was putting on her best puppy-dog eyes – the ones that always worked without fail.
Rena groaned playfully as she reached out to brush away strands of hair from Jurina’s freshly cut fringe. “Buuuut…I guess I may have lost count this time around.” She said in a low voice.
Jurina grinned a little too widely, failing to hide the fact that she knew she had Rena right where she wanted her, “What’s that mean exactly?”
“It means that if you ever wanted to steal something that you’re not supposed to have…then now would be the perfect time for you to take it.” Rena leaned forward, “Before I change my mind that is.”
That was all the warning the younger girl needed. So without a moment’s hesitation, she kissed Rena, relishing in the familiar feeling of those lips against hers. She couldn’t stop the hand that found its way to comb through Rena’s long hair.
As quickly as it started, Jurina felt Rena’s hands against her chest pushing her back firmly. Rena breathed deeply, eyes still closed, “Jurina…don’t push your luck.”
But Jurina just smiled back.
* * *
A few minutes and entire too many stolen kisses later, Rena was lying on the couch with Jurina lying on top of her, on her stomach. Rena’s hand was busy playing with Jurina’s hair, noting just how different the younger girl could look just by brushing her fringe in a different direction, and Jurina was staring at her the whole time, with a dumb grin on her face.
“You know you just used up your limit for like…the rest of the year right?” Rena said in a serious tone.
Jurina shrugged, “Meh, that’s fine. Churi is standing in for me during performances right now. She can give you my proxy kisses.”
“Proxy?…You’re really something else you know that?” Rena shook her head with a laugh.
Jurina giggled too, “I try to keep it interesting.”
“Speaking of which, isn’t your foot injured? How were you playing that game so energetically just now?” Rena frowned as she pieced together that the rebel was probably doing something her doctor had told her not to.
“What?” Jurina pretended that she didn’t hear Rena as she turned around and started flipping through channels on the television. “Didn’t you say you wanted to watch a movie?”
Rena sighed. She supposed there was no helping the girl’s mischievousness.
As Jurina flipped through the channels, she smiled triumphantly and made a mental note that she and Rena should “Kinect” more often.
~ ~ ~
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