You sat there among the audiences, getting all the cooperation to hide your presence. Yet Sakurai Reika knew by heart that you will be there, somewhere in the crowd, listening and watching very closely to her final performance as a member of Nogizaka46. The stage where both shared endless talks and struggles, amidst joyous moments and memories, shall be drawn to a close for another start.
Wakatsuki Yumi had a big bouquet of flowers prepared. Remembering her last message to Reika, wishing her a smooth live concert a few minutes before it starts, the phone buzzed with reminder from the staff members. She was nervous and happy for her.
Never in her dream that she would get an invitation to take part in Reika’s graduation concert, especially when she had graduated before her. It took more courage to let go than to hold on.
Waiting for Reika to come closer, you stood in the dark. As you walked into the spotlight towards her, your heart pounds even harder.
She was truly surprised, so was the crowd.
“Sorry for the intrusion, this is Wakatsuki Yumi. As a representative of the graduates, I brought you flowers. Congratulations on your graduation. Thank you for your hard work! Let’s work hard together from now on.”
You found her.
The flowers. The hug. Her eyes when she confessed of feeling lonely. No amount of thank you would suffice at the moment. If feelings could be poured, theirs would fill to the brim and overflow.
You took the mike she gave and spoke a few words before leaving.
Sakurai Reika had her graduation concert and you have never felt so proud in your life.
The distance between us has begun to close-in and may someday we’d walk hand in hand.
P/S: For fans who wants to watch the live concert. Dozo!
There were too much emotions and tears for Sakurai Reika as she looks at Wakatsuki Yumi in her black dress, handing flowers and gratitude for her last concert.
This is it.
Even when she told her about graduating, Reika never thought it’ll be enough to mentally prepare. Seven years of companionship and she basically had a whole big family in Nogizaka. And Yumi is special.
“Arigatou.” Wakatsuki held out the flower and slightly kneels for her, as Reika looks down to her dear Yumi.
It was both professional and personal.
As captain of the group, Reika was barely speaking by the ending. Even when people cheer along the last song, she was clutched by deep longing and despair.
The person to look for beside her. A familiar presence in almost every event. Wakatsuki was her person.
And Danke Sheen was ending.
With a loud cheer, confetti fell across the audience seat and all the member retreat to the back stage.
There were a lot of people in the backstage yet Sakurai felt a pang of loneliness.
Wakatsuki Yumi in her best smile greets and wishes everyone to continue their support on Nogizaka.
“You’d still be in Nogizaka, Reika,” Wakatsuki said as they talked the night before her graduation, “And I’ll be supporting you from the side, just like always.”
Reika waited at the bottom of the exit staircase as Yumi steps down with each click of footsteps in her high heel.
“Reika..” Wakatsuki smiles again with her damp eyes and pulls her into a gentle embrace, “Thank you for being here for me.”
“I…I’m going to miss you,” Sakurai tugs on her sleeve and continued, “But I’ll do my best so you must too.”
“It’s not the end,” Wakatsuki tries to laugh and steadied Reika by her arms, “We’ll still see each other when we can, go to each other’s performances.”
Reika just nodded as everyone moves to clear the stage and head back to rest. She lost count of the hugs, cheerful and tearful members that came to greet and talk to Wakatsuki before she leaves.
She was looking out for everyone that even the juniors were lost at words as she patted their heads and gave encouragements.
Nippon Budokan glitters in the night as Wakatsuki sighs at one last look, feeling both overwhelmed and satisfied while Reika looks at her silently.
The chilly air of December at 1am was refreshing.
“Let’s go home,” Wakatsuki smiled and stuffed Reika’s hand into her coat, “we can walk until you feel better.”
Reika gave her hand a tiny squeeze, “Can I stay over for tonight?” But tears started to pool as she lifts her head up to look at the sky.
“Absolutely,” Wakatsuki replied, “Anything for you.”
P/S: If there is anything that can help us get through the feeling of separation, it must be the chance of meeting each other again.
Wakatsuki Yumi stood outside a coffee shop, feeling the autumn breeze making its way along her bare neck as she looks at her watch.
2.25pm. Five minutes earlier.
It was a normal weekday, Sakurai Reika suggested for them to hang out since their schedules cleared up a bit. Wakatsuki came to like short hair now since many of her stage plays fits the current image.
Reika walked along the alley, glimpsing Wakatsuki’s head in the crowd, wearing a white wool shirt paired with a long checkered jacket. Her legs appear slimmer in her jeans.
She stopped in her steps, admiring Wakatsuki’s side profile. Soon, I may not be able to see this very often. And the idea tugs hard on her heart that she just walked and encircles Wakatsuki from behind.
An actual hug.
“Reika,” Wakatsuki smiled at the sight of her, “You’re early. I didn’t know you could do that.” She pokes fun of her while wriggling herself free, feeling the warmth upon her back.
“2.30pm, You owe me a parfait~” Reika giggled and guided Wakatsuki into the shop by her wrist.
Wakatsuki did not say anything when Reika’s dessert turned out to be humongous, not even when she managed to finish the whole thing with a smile on her face. Probably freezing her cheek in the process.
“What is it, Reika? You don’t act like the usual Captain I know.” She asked and cupped Reika’s cheeks. It may have been Wakatsuki’s hands or her own blushing, she’d not know while she takes in the sight of having Wakatsuki so close to her.
“This is unfair.” Reika pouts and looks away.
“We are losing Nanase and you all together. I don’t..” Reika stop mid-sentence and sigh, “I don’t know if I’d still want to stay anymore.”
While her eyes burn and pools tear to the brim, Wakatsuki gently wipes away a dropping tear from her face.
“Thank you for staying with me, all these years are very precious to me.” Wakatsuki said in her mellow voice.
She have made up her mind.
“I know that.” Reika took her hands and squeezed. “But allow me to feel sad, if that’s ok with you..”
Reika could not stop the sudden rush of emotions and sobs quietly while her tears came falling down.
Wakatsuki stood up and slides to the seat beside her, carefully guiding her face to her neck. Reika hides her face from everyone else while she tries to silence her own voice.
If heartbreaks are audible, Wakatsuki will have her own be broken. And willingly giving it up for her all over again.
Wakatsuki Yumi was invited to Sakurai Reika’s house in Tokyo after Nama Idol programme since they did not have any free time to be together other than exchanging a few gestures during work.
Wakatsuki wore a simple white long sleeve and black trousers under her coat, arrived in front of Sakurai’s apartment. Just before she had a chance to push the door bell, the door clicked and Reika appeared, smiling sheepishly.
“What’s with that face? Moh…” Wakatsuki replied, sensing the teasing atmosphere.
“Oh nothing, I just watched the broadcast and Yumi was so cute!” Reika said brightly as Wakatsuki enters, removing her coat and sling bag.
“Ahh…I don’t know what I should do with you.” Wakatsuki shakes her head and surrendered. Her apartment entrance was the same as she remembered, with neatly arranged shoes along the corridor and a pair of white fluffy slippers for her. Reika is being Reika as usual.
Reika noticing her outfit of the day could not help but jumped at her from behind, embracing her with a huge back hug. “Yumi.”
“Hey, what’s so sudden.” Wakatsuki half turned to see Reika’s face half burried on her left shoulder. “I just came from outside so don’t cling to me so much, you’ll get cold you know.”
“I don’t care.” Reika answered in a low mumble, “We missed this year’s Christmas together.”
“Eh? But I called you didn’t I? We even chatted during Christmas Eve.”
“That’s not the same.” Reika continued, “I want to be able to touch you. Not just hearing your voice.” The seriousness in her voice made Wakatsuki a bit flustered.
“Promise me to stay for the night.” Reika gave Yumi a squeeze, “In return…I’ll…present myself to you.”
The sentence dropped like a bomb and both blushed. Sakurai understood that she never confessed in such a serious manner but she could never forget what Wakatsuki has said back then.
“Ie…Zenzen,” Wakatsuki shakes her head and hugs Reika’s arm which is around her chest. “I’d be glad to.”
After a hard session of dance practice, Wakatsuki Yumi walks away to fetch her water bootle. The girls all begin to drop into their own group, with Maiyan and Sayurin side by side, Nanamin was sitting across them with MaiMai. Nanase was huddling on Kazumin and a few walked around the group.
They were in the middle of preparing for the National Summer Tour. Wakatsuki remembered the days when she was not in the senbatsu, more ever than she would like it when they reperform the setlist according to chronology.
Sitting in the middle of the dance floor, Sakurai Reika was too tired to move and just decided to retie her shoelaces while they wait for the rehersal to continue.
Wakatsuki was not required to stay back for the rest of the setlist and planned to leave with the other Under Girls. Nakamoto Himeka’s cheerful chatter followed the others leaving the room.
She looks tired. Wakatsuki managed to catch Reika among the crowd and let out a small sigh before returning to her, sticking a bottle of mineral water to her face in the process.
“Rehydrate.” Wakatsuki said with a stern voice while she crouch in front of Reika, her sweat all sticking her hair in a short chaotic mess. Even so, she looks even more stunnning. Her image as a guy floats to Reika’s mind unintentionally.
“Thank you.” Reika smiled sheepishly and accepted her good will. “You’re not staying behind?”
“Eeeh~? Why should I? You should not think like that Captain.” Wakatsuki retort and continued. “Work hard for my part too, ok?” She smiles and gave a wink before retreating as the dance instructor is back to resume practice.
Focus, Reika! Focus! She shook her head and shifts her attention to the front while Wakatsuki left the room. Reika was sure Wakatsuki does not know how much she’d like her to stay and wait for her. But it was a cruel thing to do, isn’t it? Stop thinking like that, Reika!
The practice continued for two more hours with song after song rehearsed. Rain began to fall and turned into a heavy downpour when the rest of the members came out of the building.
“Goodbye, Reika! See you tomorrow!” Hoshino Minami waved and opens her umbrella before running into the rain. With more and more members leaving, Reika was considering to run since she forgot her umbrella.
One step into the rain and she felt a strong tug by her right arm.
“What are you doing?” Wakatsuki with an umbrella outstretched said with a bitter smile on her face.
“Wakachuki~~” Reika was very moved seeing her at that hour and lunged forward for a tight hug. “You didn’t say you’d wait for me. I thought you were gone by now…Where were you anyway?”
“That coffee shop across. I was drawing up some Nogizaka sketches and didn’t realize you till now.” Wakatsuki said and stood beside Reika. The sound of raindrops upon the umbrella was clear by their ears with both of them right under it.
“Let’s go.” Wakatsuki pointed to a family restaurant across. “You must be hungry.”
While they walk across the road, Reika noticed a damp patch on Wakatsuki’s right shoulder.
“Moh~~ Wakatsuki!” Reika suddenly shouted and hooked her arm to Wakatsuki’s left hand, pulling in both their body to a contact. Wakatsuki was surprised and her face flush when she realize Reika’s warmth, probably from the dancing just now.
“I’m not going to forgive you if you act like that again, get it?” For once, Reika puff up her face and acts angry.
“Alright, alright.” Wakatsuki raised her right palm to her nose and nod.
“And…Thank you.” Reika said softly and attacked Wakatsuki’s left cheek with a peck. Reika could taste Wakatsuki’s skin still slightly salty from all the sweating.
Wakatsuki never felt such warmth and so little control over her emotions, rolling around in joy for such a small gesture. Or maybe she had hoped for it, waiting for Reika.
“Mmm!” Wakatsuki nodded and said no further.
Perhaps one day, she would dare to cross that line. Falling hopelessly in love with her.
“Cut! Ok detsu~ Otsukaresama~” The staff shouted and everyone started to move from their position. Nogiroom this week ended with the four members Sakurai Reika, Wakatsuki Yumi, Noujou Ami and Takayama Kazumi.
“Hey, want to grab a bite with us?” Ami suggested while Kazumin already sticking close to her arm and nodding in respond. Wakatsuki glance over to Reika, “It’s ok, I need to get back to my hometown to celebrate my mother’s birthday so you guys have fun.” Reika stood up and replied.
“Then I’ll help her with the luggages. You bought them in didn’t you? I’ll send you to the station.” Wakatsuki continued.
“Have a safe trip then.” Noujou and Takayama said in unison and chuckled among themselves. What a sweet couple. Wakatsuki grinned.
As Reika hurls her luggage out in their changing room, Wakatsuki casually took the heavier one into her hand and lifted it without effort. Reika puckered and break to a grin. Those wordless exchange and the way they see each other were all they needed.
It doesn’t take long before a bus came, Reika and Wakatsuki both hidden behind their mask. After they took a seat side by side, Wakatsuki reaches for her mp3 player as she usually do but Reika had pulled out hers and shoving it to her face.
That’s weird. Wakatsuki thinks but never gave it more thought.
“Erhem. This is Sakurai Reika speaking.” Wakatsuki was surprised hearing her voice in that recording and turned to look at Reika. Reika with her eyes closed did not move in her seat. Probably too tired and fell asleep I guess.
Wakatsuki kept listening and decided not to wake Reika up.
“I think I owe you something since a long time ago. Five things I like about Wakatsuki Yumi.”
“Number five, the Wakatsuki that saved me countless times during live’s MC.”
“Number four, the Waka-sama that is always there beside me when I am uncertain of myself as Captain.”
“Number three, the Wakachu that blushes when she is my pet.” Wakatsuki noticed Reika’s voice which cracked into a chuckle, imagining the day of the recording herself.
“Number two, the Yumi that allows me to be a pampered girl, letting me sleep in her bed and doesn’t act distant.” Wakatsuki smiled and turned to look at the girl beside her again. Reika in her deep sleep shakes with the bus. Seeing her head nodding around, Wakatsuki guided Reika’s head onto her shoulder. What a cute sleeping face. Wow, I just have a Nogibingo dejavu. Wakatsuki with her bitter smile, remembered the day when she lay on Reika’s lap. The thought brought a slight blush to her hidden face.
“Number one, Wakatsuki Yumi that confessed to me during Valentine day special and during my birthday handshake event. Thank you for being there for me and I love you too.”
Reika’s stop is next when Wakatsuki finally finished listening to the recording.
“Reika, wake up. We’ll need to get off now.” Wakatsuki gently shakes her shoulders.
The moment Reika woke up, her eyes widen and looked at Wakatsuki with a surprised look. I can’t believe I slept through that! Reika thought and bit her lower lips.
“Let’s go.” Wakatsuki smiled as usual and pushed the bell before gathering up Reika’s luggage. They walked all the way to the platform where Reika is supposed to ride a train home without a word as people comes and goes from all directions.
Reika now seated in the only vacant seat tries to catch a glimpse of Wakatsuki that is standing to see the approaching train. I have to say something. Anything. While she struggles with her thoughts, the train had already stop with passengers rushing in before the departure.
“Reika.” Wakatsuki called and guides her into one of the doors, handling over her luggage in the process.
An annoucement roared over the speakers, reminding the people on the platform to stay behind the yellow line as the train is going to depart.
“It’s about time.” Wakatsuki said, with her right hand in her pocket holding to Reika’s mp3 player.
“I’m not returning it to you right now.”
“Da. Ka. Ra. Stay quiet on your way home and text me when you reach.” Wakatsuki said and raised the other hand for a goodbye gesture in time before the door closed.
The train departs while Reika had her eyes on Wakatsuki till she could no longer see her. Stupid Reika! What are you doing? Now you just blew it! Reika thought, knocking her own head and let out a small sigh.
*You have mail*
Her message ringtone went off, prompting Reika to fish it out of her pocket.
Sender: Wakachu ❤
You know I love you too.
Reika blushed and raised her head to look around. There was no one looking at her direction. With a few tap, Reika wrote a reply and proceed to her seat.
Sakurai Reika sat on the front most second row, half wishing she had to sit in another position. Relax Reika, this would not be as bad as you think. Reika thought while she catch a glimpse of Wakatsuki Yumi on another end of the first row while they prepare for the shooting of the 33rd episode of Nogizaka Under Construction.
“Three…Two…One…Don!!” Bananaman-san starts and all cameras began to roll. Everyone was giving their all as usual to make each episode good. As they sit and react to every new idea given by the members, Reika was awaken by the sudden topic of her body odour. Half hiding her embarrassment and allowing a few of the members to take a sniff of the back of her neck, Reika dare not look into Wakatsuki’s direction.
Is she looking at me? Reika allows the crowd to get exited over odours and was slightly relief when it was all over. Only Wakatsuki’s back view was seen but Reika was content with her relaxed shoulders. Having Naa-chan lean so close to her skin felt warm but it was a great improvement as she is very embaressed if it were the Nishino Nanase a few singles before.
However, Wakatsumi Yumi’s thoughts were somewhere around Ito Karin’s shogi introduction. A double position separated but with equal strength, undoubtly she was paired up with Reika the Captain. She could not decide whether to be glad or not. Her image of Ikemen and pairing with Reika was told to be toned down by the management. Thus so the arrangement and sorts, Wakatsuki misses the time when they paired for MCs and Nogibingo.
As Christmas draws near, the studio got fired up by Kazumin’s idea of a Christmas confession episode.
“You’d like to be in one with Reika, isn’t it?” Himura-san teased and Wakatsuki jumped into defence mode. Reika squeezed and managed a grin but felt a pull in her heart as Wakatsuki said she wished to ‘shed off’ that image of her.
A few more minutes later the episode ended and everyone was dismissed on the spot as there were nothing scheduled.
Reika walked slowly back to the changing room, half aware that most of the girls have left and started to leave.
“Reika.” A voice so familiar called out to her.
“Wakatsuki.” Reika called back with a weak smile as they look eye to eye for once since the starting of their recording.
“That’s very cold of you, Reika.” Wakatsuki replied with a tease but turned into a serious face as she walks towards Reika. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” Reika tried to sound more energetic but failed. “Let’s go!” She said hurriedly while she turns around. A hand caught hold of her uniform by the waist and made her stood in place.
“Huh?” Reika was surprised but dare not turn to face Wakatsuki.
“I said I’m sorry.” Wakatsuki repeats. Her hand grasp much harder that Reika thought her uniform will have more wrinkles on that spot.
“You don’t need to apologize for anything, Yumi.” Reika’s shoulder slouched down at the thought. “We will do our best in everything, right?”
While Wakatsuki’s grip still on Reika’s uniform, Reika felt a weight upon her back. The weight of Yumi’s head, her face down indecipherable to Reika.
“Cheer up, Yumi. I totally understand.” Reika said and took Wakatsuki by surprise as she turns around and gave her a hug in return, her face still looking downwards.
“Let’s take a photo together!” Reika tried to cheer her up and readied her phone.
Kacha! Reika was grinning with a slightly red eye Yumi in her arms. In seconds, Reika sets the picture as her phone’s wallpaper and showed it to Wakatsuki.
“We can have a lot of two-shots even if we cannot show it to the world.” Sakurai Reika announced and that statement lits Wakatsuki Yumi’s face, even though slightly, Reika was sure they would be fine.
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