Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou Fan Fiction ❯ Festival Under The Stars ❯ One-Shot

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Yokohama Kaidashi Kikoku
Festival under the Stars
Summer, in times past summer meant vacations and trips to the beach. It signaled a time when children would play from sunrise till sunset. It was a time of innocence and joy. It was a time of festivals, fireworks, picnics, and staying up late. Those days had ended. With the rising tides and dwindling population summer was no longer the time of innocence it once was. Summer had become a lonely time for those who lived out in the country. The older people stayed in the small towns while the younger generation had begun to move to the cities for better jobs and educations. Those that were left behind tried to make ends meat as best as they could. Businesses would sometimes go for days without a single customer and when one finally came it would be the only customer a proprietor would have for the day.
For Alpha Hasseno summer was just like every other time of the year, a time to sit and wonder if anyone would ever visit her small café in the country. For most people a lack of business meant a lack of food on the table. For Alpha a lack of business meant a lack of visitors. Unlike other people Alpha could go for days without food. Alpha was a unique individual for the sheer fact that she was a biomechanical robot. While she didn't have many customers Alpha had always looked forward to the days when Takahiro, a boy from a nearby town, would come to the café for a visit. However, as the years went by Takahiro grew up as Alpha remained the same and soon he was old enough to go off and find a job in Atsugi.
Alpha's life since Takahiro had left had changed as well. She had taken on her very first employee by letting Makki, Takahiro's childhood friend from town, work for her. The companionship Makki provided helped to ease the loneliness that came from having the café so far from town. Alpha knew, however, that one day Makki would go off to another town to find steady work or travel with the wanderer Ayase. Whatever decision Makki would make when she was older Alpha knew she would once again be alone. Makki had become like a little sister to Alpha just like Takahiro was at one time just like a little brother to her. However, by the time Takahiro had left Alpha felt differently about him.
“Alpha, Ojisan says the town council is planning on attending the Tanabata festival in Kamakura this year. He said there's going to be booths selling soba noodles and okonomiyaki as well as fireworks and other activities.” Makki said snapping Alpha out of her deep train of thought.
Giving a startled little jump Alpha turned to face Makki and replied to her news, “That sounds like fun. If you're planning on going I could give you a ride on the back of my scooter.”
Makki smiled at Alpha and tucked her towel into the ties on her apron before answering Alpha's offer, “I'd love to go to the Tanabata with you Alpha. We could wear our yukatas there.”
Alpha smiled and was about to start making a cup of barley tea when a knock came at the front door. Opening the door Alpha was surprised to see the postman standing on the other side. The postman smiled and handed Alpha a simple white envelope. Alpha took the envelope from the postman with a smile on her face. It wasn't very often that the postman would journey to Alpha's café to deliver her a letter. The site of a letter was a welcome thing that Alpha treasured with all her heart.
Makki saw the envelope in Alpha's hands and went over to see what it said. She had learned there were only four people that wrote to Alpha: Owner, Takahiro, Kokone, and a robotic pilot named Nai Alpha had met on her yearlong journey. It was almost certain one of them had written to Alpha. Not very many people wrote to Alpha before she had met the delivery girl Kokone. Once the purple haired robot had come into her life Alpha had a friend who would send her letters and visit her. It was an experience she treasured with all her heart. Looking down at the letter Alpha noticed the name on the return address. It was a letter from Takahiro.
“Alpha, who was at the door?” Makki asked the older robotic woman.
“That was the postman. He delivered a letter.” Alpha replied as she took her time coming back into the café.
Alpha forgot all about her barley tea and sat down at the table closest to the window overlooking the homemade weatherfish standing proudly where her back deck once stood. Rebuilding the back deck was on a long list of things Alpha intended to do in order to fix up the café. Any repairs to the café, however, were put on hold while Alpha made a decision concerning a recent offer from Ojisan to move her café to his gas station. Alpha opened the envelope and pulled out a neatly written two page letter from Takahiro. With a smile on her face Alpha began to read the letter.
As Alpha read the letter she smiled and laughed at the tales of Takahiro's job in Atsugi. He shared an apartment with two other people he worked with and had been fixed up a couple of times on some blind dates with girls who were friends with people he knew through work. The guys at the office had given Takahiro a hard time when he went on and on about Alpha and how wonderful she was. Alpha sighed happily as she continued on with the letter reaching the point where Takahiro recounted his last blind date.
“At first I didn't know it was a blind date. Kenji, Ryumi, Ichiro, and I had decided to go to the ocean for some fun. I thought we were going to meet Ichiro's girlfriend Midori and her friend Ayami when we got there. What I didn't know was that Ichiro and Midori had planned to fix me up with Ayami. The moment I saw Ayami I was instantly reminded of Makki. She had a similar personality and tried to splash me when we were in the water together.”
Makki did the same thing when I took them to the ocean, Alpha thought. On the day she took the pair to the ocean Takahiro rushed to the water the moment they arrived in Ojisan's old truck with Makki close behind. The moment Takahiro was in the water Makki scooped up the water and tossed it at him. Takahiro turned around and retaliated with a hearty splash of his own. In no time the pair was locked in a water fight that left them quite drenched and Alpha laughing like crazy. Alpha let out a giggle at the thought of Makki and Takahiro soaked to the bone in the clothes they had worn for swimming before getting to another section of the letter.
“Ojisan has informed me that there will be a Tanabata festival in Kamakura this year with a fireworks display. I know I keep promising to visit you in person. And I know I keep breaking that promise. However, this year is going to be different. This year I am coming for a two week visit starting the night before the festival. I feel as though I need to spend some quality time with my family and friends.”
Alpha stopped reading and clutched the letter to her chest for a moment before putting it down on the table. She knew she was going to have to wear her best yukata to the festival. Alpha didn't want Takahiro seeing her in an ordinary everyday yukata. He's already seen me in that yukata, Alpha thought. The excitement of seeing Takahiro again for the first time since he left had Alpha wanting to look extra special for him. It was a feeling she had not experienced before and it had her giddy as a schoolgirl. Alpha sat at the table with a goofy smile on her face. Makki saw the expression on the face of her friend and employer and tried to gain her attention.
“So what was in the letter Alpha?” Makki wanted to know.
“Takahiro says he's actually going to visit during the festival.” Alpha replied as she returned the letter to its envelope.
Alpha walked over to the counter and placed the letter below the counter before pulling out a cup and saucer. Placing the cup and saucer on the counter Alpha pulled out a tin filled with barley tea and a tea strainer. As she filled the strainer Alpha's mind went back to the letter from Takahiro. There were times when he buzzed by in Nai's airplane to say hello to his friends and family but this would be the first visit since he left for his job. Alpha began to wonder if Takahiro had changed at all while he was away. Would he look the way he did when she last saw him? Or would Takahiro look older and more mature? Alpha was suddenly brought back to reality when the whistle of the kettle signaled the water was ready.
Alpha poured the steaming hot water into the teacup and plunged the strainer into the cup. In a matter of minutes the water was transformed into barley tea. Alpha lifted the cup to her nose and took in the aroma of the tea before sitting down once again at her favorite table for her daily cup of tea.
“Mind if I join you?” Makki asked a few moments later with a cup of hot maple drink in her hands.
“Have a seat Makki.” Alpha replied.
“I bet you're excited about Takahiro coming.”
“It'll be good to see him again if that's what you mean.”
Alpha sat outside that night on the remains of what was once her back porch strumming the strings of her getsukin. The circular string instrument provided the green haired robot with a source of comfort whenever she played it. Thoughts of Takahiro had dominated Alpha's thoughts that day and she was confused as to why she was constantly thinking of him. I know he's been like a brother to me but things were changing between us before he left, Alpha thought.
With a sigh Alpha sat back against the worn out old post and looked to the night sky. The stars were twinkling brightly as a full moon crested above Mount Fuji. As she continued to look up at the stars Alpha noticed a shooting star streak across the sky. Quickly closing her eyes Alpha made a wish upon the star. It was something Owner had told her about and she still believed it to be true. I wish Takahiro would tell me his true feelings at the festival, Alpha thought to herself keeping with the tradition.
“That first time I showed Takahiro Nai's airplane I knew things were changing between us.” Alpha said as she went back to playing her getsukin.
The song she began to play was different than the usual happy tunes Alpha normally played. The tune spoke of love and longing of hope and heartache of wishing to be together once more. Alpha poured all the emotions she had been feeling into the melody. It was as though for one brief moment she stopped being a robot and started being human. To her it didn't feel as though she were simply mimicking human emotion it was as if what she felt was pure instinct. When the song ended the newfound emotions had left Alpha feeling confused. She cared for Takahiro but never before did she long to be held by him once more and wonder what it would be like to be kissed by him. The time they spent apart had brought forth new curiosities in Alpha.
“I know what a kiss is like because Kokone's kissed me several times before when she's transferred pictures and messages to me but I don't know what a kiss between two people in love is like. Someday I hope to experience that and maybe I can experience it with Takahiro.” Alpha thought aloud with a sigh of longing.
The days rolled by and soon June gave way to July. Makki and the usual people that visited the café, Ojisan and Sensei, began to notice a slight change in Alpha's behavior. As the time of the Tanabata festival drew near Alpha began to get excited and nervous all at the same time. It seemed to the trio that whenever they brought up the subject of Takahiro's visit Alpha would get flustered and start to giggle and stutter just like a young human girl who was experiencing her first serious crush.
“Alpha seems to be acting how I would expect young Makki to act over Takahiro.” Sensei commented to Ojisan during a rare visit together to the café just before the festival.
“She's always liked the boy but I thought she considered him to be more a younger brother.” Ojisan replied with his usual smile.
“Yes but that “little brother” is turning into a man and she's staying the same. Soon they'll be mental equals and everything will change between them.”
“If you ask me Alpha's more than a little excited to be seeing Takahiro again.” Makki commented as she freshened the cups of barley tea they were drinking.
Makki knew something was going on that had Alpha acting the way she was. When it was just the two of them alone in the café Alpha would ask Makki all kinds of questions about love and crushes. It had the young teen wondering if something was wrong with Alpha. As far as she and the others knew robots couldn't experience true human emotions only mimic them. With the festival two days away it would be interesting to see what happened when Alpha and Takahiro met for the first time since he had left for his job in Atsugi.
“Are you dressing up for the festival Makki?” Sensei asked her.
“If you mean am I going to wear a yukata I've been thinking about it. I know Alpha's been planning on wearing one and wants me to wear one too.” Makki replied.
“Am I going to be able to see you in a yukata again?” Ojisan asked Sensei flashing his sly grin at her.
Sensei smiled and let out small chuckle before giving him her answer, “I have something simple I can wear for the festival.”
But it was more than just Makki Alpha would be asking question after question to. Whenever Sensei visited with Ojisan Alpha would ask her all about the Tanabata festival. Sensei would tell Alpha stories about how as young child her mother would dress her up in her yukata and they would write poems on bright colored strips of paper in calligraphy together before stringing them from a bamboo branch and hanging it from the pole in front of their house. Alpha listened to anything and everything Sensei had to say taking in all she could. The robotic woman showed a great interest in the festival's connection to wishes of love and longing.
Meanwhile, upstairs in the main part of the house Alpha sat at her vanity playing with her hair. She wanted it to be just perfect for the festival when she saw Takahiro again. He had seen it pulled up and held in place with a large barrette and he had seen how it normally was in the ponytail with the pink ribbon. This time Alpha wanted to do something different. Alpha tried twists with combs, braids, and even a twist with a clip but nothing seemed just right or special enough. With a sigh Alpha pulled her hair up and put it into a high bun. After securing it in place she picked up a pair of hair sticks and placed them into the bun. Alpha then looked at herself in the mirror and smiled liking what she saw reflecting back at her.
“I like this. I think I'll use it the day of the festival.” Alpha thought aloud.
Alpha stood up from the vanity and walked over to the Chinese screen in the corner of the room. Hanging from the screen was a perfect cotton yukata in a light green with little a pattern of little pink flowers upon it. Placed across the shoulder of the yukata was a delicate pale pink obi. Alpha smiled thinking of how Takahiro would like her in the yukata on the night of the festival. Noticing a bit of lint upon the fabric Alpha reached over and picked it off stopping to finger the soft cooling cotton. The last time he saw me in a yukata was when we watched the first fireworks in Kamakura in years, Alpha thought as her thumb traced the outline of a perfect pink flower, this time I'll look completely different.
Tanabata had come to Kamakura and it seemed everyone had come out to enjoy the festival. There were booths everywhere with food and games and all sorts of traditional wears being sold. For most people Tanabata was a chance to gather together with family and friends and enjoy a wonderful day together. For Alpha it was a chance to see if the stories Sensei had told her were true or not. Getting up early that morning Alpha had spent time crafting a beautifully decorated bamboo branch to hang from the watherfish in her yard. Written in beautiful hiragana were wishes for love on delicately colored strips of paper that were each decorated with a drawing of a fish upon it. Several small paper fish had also been added to the branch helping to add to its beauty. I don't know of any rice patties around here but I can ask Ojisan if he would let me place the branch in his watermelon patch, Alpha thought that morning.
Alpha arrived at Kamakura alone that afternoon dressed in her green and pink Yukata. Her hair was up in the bun she had decided upon making her look like the picture of delicate beauty. Walking over to an open area she spotted Sensei, Ojisan, and several others seated on a picnic blanket talking and laughing away. Alpha knew right away this was the town council a group of individuals that did more drinking than actual town business. Sensei, dressed in a simple blue yukata, appeared to be sipping some Sake while the others had bottles of beer going. Alpha knew when morning came the members of the council would be quite drunk and quite hung-over as usual.
Walking over to the group Alpha inquired as to where Makki currently was, “Sensei I don't see Makki around. Did she come with you and Ojisan to the festival?”
“Makki went off to spend some time with a friend playing a few of the games.” Sensei replied not telling her the friend was Takahiro.
Alpha smiled understanding that Makki was still a child and needed to be with others close to her own age. There were many families at the festival and children ran around with one another going from one gaming booth to another. Letting out a small sigh Alpha sat down on the picnic blanket to wait for Makki or Takahiro to arrive.
“Alpha, have some Sake.” One of the male council members said.
Alpha smiled at him and got a flustered look on her face as she replied to his offer, “You know what Sake does to me. I can't. Not this early.”
The town council got a slightly depressed look upon their faces as they heard Alpha turn down the offer to drink. They were looking forward to seeing Alpha dance yet again and the only way to get her to agree to any dancing was by getting her to drink.
“Maybe a little later then.” A female member commented.
As the council continued with their drinking Alpha sighed and watched couples and families having picnics and fun with each other. She had hoped to spend time with Makki and she wondered when Takahiro would show up. According to the last letter she had received from him Takahiro would be arriving the night before the festival. Scanning the crowds Alpha began to wonder if Takahiro was even at the festival. Alpha was brought out of her deep thought when she heard a giggle and the sound of someone clearing their throat behind her. Turning around she saw Makki dressed in a light purple yukata standing next to Takahiro.
Alpha took in a small gasp when she laid eyes upon Takahiro. He had changed since she last saw him in person. He was seventeen when he left for Atsugi. Now at nearly two years later he was more mature and a bit taller. Takahiro was no longer the little boy who would come by her café dreaming of seeing the Misago again or wanting to listen to Alpha play her Getsukin and getting caught in the rain with her. Now Takahiro was finally an adult and no longer the “little brother” he once was.
“Takahiro, it's so very good to see you again.” Alpha said a bit flustered.
“It's been a while hasn't it.” Takahiro replied with a smile on his face.
Alpha stood up from the blanket grateful she had not had anything to drink and brushed a stray strand of hair away from her eyes. With a smile on her face she took Takahiro's hand into her own causing the younger man to jump slightly. It had been so long since they had spent time together. Takahiro wasn't the same little boy he once was or even the same confused young teenager. Wearing a dark mustard colored short sleeve button shirt and dark brown pants Takahiro looked more like a man than a boy.
Takahiro then began to look Alpha over noticing her yukata. Alpha looked as though she was actually blushing at the way Takahiro was looking at her. To Makki, Sensei, and the council it appeared as though Alpha really was blushing. Somehow her face had become flushed and Alpha found it hard to speak to Takahiro. With the smile still on his face Takahiro commented on the yukata.
“You look nice Alpha. I don't think I've seen you in that before.” Takahiro said.
With the blush still on her face and nervous tone in her voice Alpha responded to the remark, “Why thank you. I wanted to look extra nice tonight.”
“Well you do. Now then shall we go?”
Takahiro gave Alpha's hand a gentle squeeze before leading her towards the many booths set up for the festival. There were booths selling food and booths with games that had prizes to give away. Children ran here and there trying their luck at one game or another. The festival was alive with the sound of laughter and the clinking of milk bottles as they were hit by a ball. Alpha stopped in front of one booth and watched as a little girl tried her luck at catching a small goldfish on a delicate paper strainer. After three tries to get the fish the girl succeeded to the delight of the people running the booth. A few moments later the fish was given to the girl in a thick plastic bag with a drawstring. With a smile on her face the girl ran off giggling over the new friend she had won.
“I remember when you and Makki used to be that way.” Alpha commented.
“She'd get excited at the littlest things and I just wanted to find the Misago so badly it hurt when I found out she had seen Makki.” Takahiro replied.
“You were young back then and the world was a simple place. Do you know Makki's thought about traveling with Ayase and Kamas when she's a bit older? It seems Ayase came into possession of a baby Kamas and Makki's been playing with it when he's back in this area.”
“She mentioned something about that. She also mentioned you've been letting her work with you. I guess you have to start somewhere.”
Alpha gave Takahiro a small nod before leading him off towards a fishing booth. The game was simple to play. One of the people running the booth would give a person a bamboo fishing pole with a clip on one end as the hook. The contestant would then cast their line through one of three holes in a screen and a worker would attach a prize to the clip before tugging on the string. It was a game where everyone would walk away with something.
Alpha took the fishing pole from the man running the booth and put it through the middle hole. With her eyes closed Alpha waited for the tug on the string at the end of the pole. When the tug was made Alpha pulled the pole out of the hole and saw a small green paper bag with the end taped over hanging from the clip. Upon opening the bag Alpha's face lit up with pure happiness.
“It's beautiful. I'll treasure it forever.” Alpha commented as she put on the plastic beaded bracelet.
Takahiro smiled as he watched Alpha take pleasure in a simple piece of plastic children's jewelry. Even the simplest of things bring her great joy, he thought, it's like discovering the world all over again when I'm with her. Alpha turned towards Takahiro and showed off her new prized possession. She had never won anything like it before and even though it was a simple thing it was hers.
“That goes well with your yukata Alpha.” Takahiro commented as he saw the clear green and pink beads.
“This little bracelet will always remind me of our special night together.” Alpha said with a smile on her face.
Takahiro returned the smile and took Alpha's hand once more. He could tell by the sky that the fireworks would be starting soon. The festival goers were clamoring to get a decent spot to watch the fireworks from the beach. Leading Alpha up to the hillside he spotted a small bridge over a little creek that ran into the bay that offered a perfect view of the fireworks. The moment they stepped onto the bridge the fireworks began to go off bathing the night sky in colored beauty.
“Alpha, I have a confession to make. I didn't come back just for the festival and to visit Ojisan and Makki. I came back because I missed you and I wanted to be with you again. I care for you very much.” Takahiro said.
Alpha was taken back by Takahiro's words and let out a small gasp. It was what she had hoped for. She knew Takahiro had feelings for her when he held her as they watched Nai fly over in his plane but she didn't know how strong they were.
“I care for you too Takahiro. In fact, I think I've grown to love you.” Alpha told him.
“I love you too Alpha.” Takahiro admitted.
The fireworks meant nothing to the pair as they stood there looking into each other's eyes. Swept up in the moment Takahiro took Alpha's hands into his own and began to lean forward. Alpha closed her eyes and waited for what would happen next. Takahiro's lips gently touched her own and she could feel a slight pressure upon them. Opening her eyes Alpha relaxed realizing what was going on. Takahiro was kissing her. Alpha knew this kiss wasn't like the one's Kokone had given her. This was her first real kiss. Adding a slight pressure of her own Alpha began to return the kiss the exact moment two very large golden flowers burst in the sky above them. Alpha Hasseno had fallen in love.