Chapter 10:

Futaba and Shio

Will The Stars Remember My Name?

Futaba came out of the bath, and told her mom that she had prepared a bath for her. She wore her pyjamas and sat down by the window in her room. She opened it and let the cool late night spring breeze softly run through her wet hair. She looked at the bright moon outside and smiled to herself. She enjoyed watching the moon and the stars. After some time, she picked up her phone from the bed and to see if she had received any new messages. Bookmark here

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"Hmm...." she wondered, "I haven't had a chance to talk with Shiomi properly after that time... Maybe we should go to Nagasaki's tomorrow." Bookmark here

She quickly typed out something on her phone and hit the send button. She kept the phone back on the bed and picked up a book to read. The book was nothing fancy, just your usual fantasy story about a boy who had discovered that he had some super powers and now it was up to him to save the world with his newfound power. But, no matter how cliché the story seemed, it didn't stop Futaba from reading it. Bookmark here

She never judged any book by its cover, and finished every single one she picked up to read, no matter how long it was or even if it was not of her taste. She had a special connection to books. She remembered reading the books her father sent from Europe after her parents' divorce. He would send all kinds of books, from fantasy to psychological to romance to inspirational books. She would cherish each book and read all of them. Slowly, she fell in love with reading and it was all thanks to her dad. But, of course, she hadn't forgiven him yet... Not after what he had done to her mother...

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After about an hour or so, her phone buzzed loudly. She bookmarked the page she was on and picked up her phone to see Shiomi's message. Her face lit up on seeing the message and she quickly replied to the message. Her mom called out from below, "Lights off Fu-chan! It's time to sleep... Don't make me come up now..." Bookmark here

"Yessss mom!" she replied. Bookmark here

She kept her phone on the table and switched off the lights. She lay down on her bed, excited for tomorrow, and quietly fell asleep under the moonlight and in the comfort of her bed.  Bookmark here

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 The next day, after school, Futaba was waiting near the school gates for Shiomi. Haruto and Shiomi were walking together and when Shiomi saw Futaba she waved goodbye to Haruto and came running up to her. Futaba said, "Hey hey Shiomi! You know Haruto could tag along with us too." Bookmark here

They both started walking towards Nagasaki's Cafe and Shiomi replied, "Ah... yes, he did say he would love to but he has a football tournament this fall. So they're picking out the team this month and they'll train during summer vacations then. It's kinda important I guess..."Bookmark here

"Oooh, yes he must have a lot of responsibility as the captain of the football team." Bookmark here

"Well... yeah. He's quite young to be a captain but his teammates still admire him. And that's why he's always so busy with work like managing the team and all." Bookmark here

She stared at the orange sky and spaced out for a bit. She softly said, "I hope he can find some free time on my birthday though..." Bookmark here

"BIRTHDAY!?!? Shiomi, when is it??" exclaimed Futaba in surprise. Bookmark here

Shiomi chuckled softly and revealed, "It's on 25th June." Bookmark here

"Just a week later? Yep, today we're making your birthday plans." Bookmark here

"Oh, there's still a lot of time..." Bookmark here

"Nope, we gonna make those plans as soon as I get my hand on that delicious coffee." said Futaba as the small cafe came into view. As they opened the door, a small bell tinkled. The inside of the cafe was pretty cool and fresh. Spring had not just yet ended so the windows to the cafe were open instead of the air conditioning. Bookmark here

The cafe was well furnished and had three sections. As soon as you entered, there was the first section on the right with tables and three seater sofas for the customers and on the right there was a wall with huge windows. The second section, on the left, was for the staff. It had a counter where people could sit on small seats and have beverages. Food wasn't served on the counter, but one could place their orders there. The cafe's owner would sit in one corner of the counter, and she would take the payment. There was also a kitchen attached behind the main room. One staff person would be responsible to serve the customers and pass on the orders to the kitchen staff and the other would be inside, helping out the kitchen staff and washing dishes.Bookmark here

The third section was a bit empty and unvisited. It was on the other side of the main room, from the entry. It had small tables and chairs, and would fill up only on busy days. But the third section had a wall made up of entire glass and would light up the entire cafe on sunny days. The cafe was quite clean and beautiful, but it was all thanks to the staff and the owner who worked a lot to maintain the cafe. 

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When Futaba and Shiomi entered the cafe, a familiar voice greeted them teasingly, "Welcome dear nee-sans, how may this lousy but handsome boy be of service to you cuties?" Bookmark here

Shiomi's eyes almost popped out on seeing Ryuuji behind the cafe counter. "Ryuuji?! How- You work here???" Bookmark here

Ryuuji winked and said, "Hey Shio-senpai! You better keep it a secret from Ryouta. He's not supposed to know I work here." Bookmark here

"Oh wow... Well, yeah I guess I won't talk about it... Futaba did you know-" Bookmark here

She stopped when she saw Futaba squinting at Ryuuji. She cracked her fingers and said in a very polite but dangerous tone, "Now, Mr. Handsome, do you greet all the customers of the cafe with those same cringy empty wannabe-hot-boy lines?" Bookmark here

Ryuuji stammered, "No- I... Uh I mean of course not FuFu, it's only reserved for you." Bookmark here

He smiled weakly as he gave out his pathetic explanation.Bookmark here

Futaba asked the owner, "Ma'am, you must know... Does Ryu really wish all the lady customers that way?" 

Mrs. Nagasaki chuckled softly and said, "Well, Ryu is quite a popular and charming member of our staff here." Bookmark here

"Ahhhhhh Manager-san, you're digging my grave here!" Bookmark here

Futaba said threateningly, "One week. I don't want to hear any of those flirty lines out of your mouth for one week." Bookmark here

"Ho ho! You sure? That would mean no flirting with you too." Bookmark here

Shiomi interrupted, "While you two lovebirds sort out your quarrel, I'll go take a seat" Bookmark here

Glaring at a frightened Ryuuji, Futaba followed Shiomi. As they sat down on one of the seats, Shiomi said, "Wow, Ryouta and Ryuuji work really hard... I wonder if they have some sort of a financial problem." Bookmark here

Futaba looked outside the window and said, with a hint of sadness, "Yeah... Who knows..." Bookmark here

She quickly changed the topic, "So, um... Shiomi is it alright if I call you Shio?" Shiomi nodded and she continued, "So, Shio-" Bookmark here

 She looked on her left to see Ryuuji standing and smiling, with his hands behind his back.  Bookmark here

"What?" asked Futaba in a very irritated voice. Bookmark here

"Dear customers, you didn't place your order." said Ryuuji in an unusually polite tune. Bookmark here

Shiomi said, "I'll have a cold coffee and a cold chicken sandwich." Bookmark here

Futaba said, "I'll have a cappuccino and a tomato and cheese sandwich." Bookmark here

"Noted." Bookmark here

And then he turned around without saying anything more. Bookmark here

Shiomi chuckled and said, "It looks like he is keeping his promise to not flirt."Bookmark here

Futaba pouted, "Whatever..." 

"So, Futaba how did you meet Ryuuji?" Bookmark here

Futaba stammered, "Oh... Uh... Yeah, we... Umm we kinda met in a park. He was sitting on the swing sadly, so I went up to him and asked him what's wrong... He didn't share a lot of details but all I could deduce was that he was hurt from his previous relationship. But from that day, we started talking and eventually he asked me out one day." Bookmark here

"Sounds quite sweet..." Futaba blushed. Bookmark here

"What about you? Do you have a boyfriend or do you like someone?" Bookmark here

Shiomi said, "Um... No I don't have a boyfriend and nobody in particular I like." Bookmark here

"What about... Haruto?" Bookmark here

She sighed, "Well, to be honest, I did like him 2-3 years ago... But at that time I was keeping the… secret from him. And then I noticed that Haruto was kind to everyone, not just me. He's a really good person but I don't think he'll ever see me that way... I'll always be his childhood friend, so I decided to move on... And right now, there's no particular person in my mind."  Bookmark here

"Oh... I'm sorry Shio..." Bookmark here

Shiomi shrugged, "It's fine... I'm over it anyways..." Bookmark here

"Alright, let's cheer up! So, your birthday is coming soon right? Let's plan for it!" Bookmark here

At that moment, Ryuuji came with their drinks and food. As he served them, he said, "Ohhhh Shio-senpai's birthday is coming? Why not celebrate here at Nagasaki's? I'm sure it'll be fun."Bookmark here

Shiomi pondered over the idea a bit and then said, "I don't think... It'll be a problem? I'm fine celebrating here." 

"I'll talk to the manager about it once, and then we can reserve the cafe for the evening."  Bookmark here

Futaba said, "That sounds great! Thanks a lot Ryu!" Bookmark here

Ryuuji replied in a slightly cold yet polite tone, "Your welcome, ma'am." Bookmark here

He turned towards Shiomi and asked, "When's your birthday Shio-senpai?" Bookmark here

"25th June." Bookmark here

"Noted. Be sure to invite Haruto and Ryouta too." Bookmark here

With those words, Ryuuji left and went to the manager. After a few mins of talking with her, Ryuuji looked back and signalled an ok sign. As he got back to work, Futaba had a slight frown on her face and muttered under her breath, "Alright Ryu, two can play that game."  Bookmark here

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 That night Futaba picked up her phone to call Ryuuji but... She couldn't call. She sighed, irritated at having fought with him over such a silly thing. After all he is what he is… A bit flirty at times, but caring and sensitive deep inside. She was more concerned about her secret that she shared with Ryuuji getting out if he behaved like that with everyone. Bookmark here

Suddenly her phone buzzed. Surprised, she dropped her phone and quickly picked it up to see Ryuuji calling. She smiled and accepted the call. After talking about an hour, she hung up with a smile on her face. It was a childish fight after all. Bookmark here

Her mom's familiar reminder to go to bed came from below. She quickly checked her phone once to see a message by Ryouta. She wondered what he wanted to talk about with everyone, and texted him back about Shiomi's birthday and how everyone would be there together on June 25th, so whatever he wanted to share with everyone, he could share it on that day. After a few minutes, she received a 'Thank You' text from him. She smiled happily and switched her lights. Bookmark here

Once again, under the moonlight and in the comfort of her bed, she fell sound asleep.
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