Chapter 2:

Heaven's Greatest

White Wings Café

Yuu. That was her name.

That morning I woke up to the smell of eggs and bacon. On my forehead was a warm, damp cloth and I was tucked in from the neck down. After her little introduction, she kept talking and talking— don't get me wrong or anything, it was extremely interesting...but at the time I was overwhelmed. Beyond overwhelmed even. I think she said something about an exchange program back in heaven or something but my head was still in the clouds. If you couldn't tell, I had passed out before she could finish what she was saying.

Struggling to get my hand out from under the covers and holding it to the ceiling, the fan above continued to spin round and round. Yuu must have turned it on. Truthfully speaking, the entirety of yesterday felt like one big fever dream but the aroma enticing my nostrils told me otherwise. It wasn't a gourmet meal, that much was obvious. Still, I couldn't deny how nice it felt.

How long had it been since I woke up to someone else's cooking?

"Shiro! Are you up yet? I hope you're feeling better than before," she called out from down below.

Throwing the cloth aside, I headed downstairs. Yuu was in the kitchen, standing over the stove as she watched the pan sizzle and pop. Once she heard my footsteps, she made a full 180 on her heel to face me again. Yuu had on an old ragged apron that was full of holes over a school uniform. Its pink color had long since faded along with the many hearts that were plastered on it.

She got down on my level and put a hand to my forehead. "Your fever's gone down. Thank goodness. It would be pretty unlucky for you to come down with a cold, especially on the first day of school no less."

"Yeah, pretty unlucky." I looked her up and down. The red vest with dark blue trimmings, a tie of the same color, and a plaid skirt, there was no mistaking it. It seemed that she would be attending the school as me. Last night she was wearing nothing but that gown so assuming that was the only thing she brought with her, I just had to ask, "Is...that my uniform?"

"Nope! Well..yes. But no! You see, up in heaven we only wear things that are completely white. We would get all these weird looks if we looked like that down here so by placing my gown over something, I'm able to copy how it looks and feels." Her eyes drifted off to the side as she scratched the back of her neck. "Thank goodness it's not an exact copy though. I don't think your stuff would fit me very well. Oh, oh, that's not a bad thing! It's what makes you, you. Never forget that."

Backhanded compliments aside, I was just glad that my uniform wasn't stretched out before I had the chance to give it a wear. With two nods, I sat down at the kitchen table and waited.

"Brr, brr!" Yuu exclaimed, holding her shoulders and lightly shaking as if she was outside during the winter. "You're being cold. Let's burn that icy exterior with cooking from heaven's number one angel, Tsubasa Yuu! I'll knock your socks off!"

Did I really give off that sort of impression? I couldn't be more grateful that she was doing all this for someone she barely knew and I wanted to show her that. Now that I think about it, there was this gesture that showed how appreciative you were of someone that I saw on TV a few times. A dogeza I think. That would require me to get up out of my seat though, and seeing how I recently woke up I wasn't really in the mood to do that.

I pressed both my forehead and my palms flat against the kitchen table as Yuu approached me, two plates in hand. With this, she'll see just how thankful I am!

"What are you doing?" she asked as she sat down.

"Dogeza. Thank you for breakfast."

"I-I didn't mean anything bad by saying you were cold! I never had a problem with less talkative people, I think they're great actually. Please don't apologize to me, really!"

I sat up and tilted my head to the side. "Oh. So that's what they were doing?"

This was news to me. Apologizing, appreciative. Both started with the letter A so it was a mix-up anyone could have made. Probably.

Staring down at my plate, everything was burnt to a crisp. The bacon had bits and pieces that were properly cooked but overall it was pitch black. The eggs weren't much better, in fact, they looked a bit hard. Although Yuu held her hands together as she happily waited for me to dig in, I could tell by her wavering smile that she was a little shaken up. My appreciative apologizing must have put her on edge.

She looked so proud of what she made so there was no way I could just refuse it, right? If I was trying my hardest to be thankful then Yuu must've been doing at least ten times that in order to impress me. I shoveled some of her cooking down my throat and put a hand to my cheek in bliss. One "Mmh!" and a hearty thumbs up later, I made sure to overexaggerate each of my actions to make sure they come across properly.

Why were my feelings so hard to convey sometimes?

"Socks? Knocked off."

"Wait, you..think it's good?" she asked, almost surprised herself. "W-Well, of course you would think that! After all, I am...I'm...well, you should know that already."

Yuu sheepishly twirled her hair around her finger as she stared down at her food. It didn't look like she wanted to continue with this topic for much longer so I decided to switch it up just a little bit.

"Last night there wasn't anything in the fridge or cupboards and the nearest supermarket's like an hour away. You bring some supplies from up there or something?"

Her wings sprouted out, knocking over some cups and plates that I had placed down the night earlier. The lights indoors combined with the sunlight that was creeping in through the red double-paned window and created an almost blinding aura. They looked so soft, so fluffy and thick. One feather from her wings could help me get a better night's sleep, that much I could guarantee. I had to physically stop myself from standing up, dusting my hands off, and flinging myself into them, creating a brand new heaven to relieve me of sleep deprivation. No pun intended.

Yuu crossed her arms and gave me a knowing look. Wiggling side to side, she continued to make a mess of the place. "Hm, hm, lots of questions today! I'll have you know that it took me no less than five minutes to get there and back. Us angels are extremely fast when it comes to flying around. Keep these coming. I'll be your guide toward happiness and the intricacies of heaven!"

"Alright, new question. Can...can I touch your wings?"

"That's an easy one. Well, you see— wait, you wish to do what now?"



The rain from last night had cleared up and the sidewalk beneath us was damp. Since it was our first day, I had to escort Yuu to school. Not like it was anything too confusing. Step out the café, walk straight until you hit your first right turn, then straight across the bridge and you're basically there. All in all, it took around 20 minutes which was significantly faster than if I were to walk from my old home. I guess in some ways moving out here was a blessing in disguise.

Yuu sauntered on the thin, eroded railing of the bridge, arms stretched out with not a care in the world. Each step she took forward in this balancing act of hers made my stomach queasy so I walked slightly ahead of her with my handbag lobbed over my shoulder, checking in on her every now and again.

"Ah, man! This weather is pretty great, huh?" she asked. "It's like the sun's powering me up or something, I feel great."

"Don't power up too much. You'll break the railing and get wet."

"You underestimate how great I am at balancing, Shiro. The sun's power combined with my talent, no beam is thin enough for me."

"And you underestimate how old this bridge is." It had been there ever since I was little and even all the way back then, it looked like it was on the verge of rusting away. "Just get down from there before something happens."

She cleared her throat before pressing her hands down on her chest. Reaching forward and touching the tip of her shoe, she did a small hop and switched feet before doing the same with the other. A finger pressed on her lips, Yuu let out a soft "watch this." and attempted to stretch backward. Her heel slipped. She crashed down before I could take another step forward. No splash.

"Yuu!" I shouted.

Good at balancing, my ass! Rushing to peak over the railing, I quickly began to search for her. Nothing in the river. No one dangling off the side of the bridge. Can she swim? What if she couldn't swim?

A burst of cold air skyrocketed up and forced me to the ground. I held down my skirt so that it wouldn't get caught in the wind. Yuu floated in front of me and nonchalantly waved, her massive wings blowing more air in my face. It didn't take long for her to land in front of me and when she did, I lightly thumped on her chest with a closed fist. Then again with the other. Hitting her over and over, I created a symphony of blows that could put Beethoven to shame. All she could do was giggle to herself.

"Gotcha. You didn't forget that I could fly, did you?" she asked with a hand to her mouth. "My, my, you were rubbing your face in my wings not too long ago. I thought you had memorized every last bit of them."

"And I feel ten years younger as a result, thank you very much. More importantly, that wasn't funny. Not at all. If you get seen like that, couldn't you get in trouble with some higher-ups or something? That's how the trope usually goes."

"Well think about it for a second." Pulling out her phone from her skirt pocket and pointing it at me, Yuu gestured to her shaking hand. "Bigfoot, Nessie, and the Chupacabra. Many people have tried to take pictures of these creatures but the quality of their photos is always super low. I assume I'd be no different in that regard. Even if someone were to get a good picture of me, it would almost look uncanny don't you think? 'A high school student with wings two times her size? Someone must have alot of time on their hands to make something like that' is the reaction that's most likely."

"People are getting real good at faking photos nowadays, I guess."

"Precisely! Although I probably shouldn't go up to random people and say I'm an angel...they might strip me of my wings when I get back."

"So we're still going ahead that trope then?!"

That first day and every day after that, I escorted her to school with her hand firmly grasped within mine. We made sure to stay far away from the railing too.



"Clubs...they didn't have anything like that up in heaven."

The orientation was finally over. For us first years, the whole morning was spend in the gymnasium, listening to the headmaster prattle on and on about youth and the new opportunities we had now that we were enrolled in this school. Brand new programs were implemented this year that focused on certain subjects like art or science. They basically helped students transition smoothly into the college of their choice and were transferrable at the beginning of each semester.

Why worry about that sort of thing now? We had just recently arrived at a new school and they were already prodding us to think about our futures. But that was a topic for another day.

Yuu was more interested in the clubs than anything else that was said in the presentation and she wasn't completely alone. In fact—as we all came out of the gym, huddled together as this massive wave of people that I found myself drowning in— a bunch of our upperclassmen were waiting for us with application papers in hand. I squeezed Yuu's hand tightly so that I didn't end up getting dragged away. She didn't seem to mind at all.

Soon afterward, the crowd dispersed and adjusted into smaller, more organized groups. With stars in her eyes, hands grabbing at the sleeves of her vest, Yuu's excitement was just about seeping out from her.

"Do you wanna try out for some?" I asked.

"Yes, absolutely! With these fun clubs, I can show you my expertise in human activities. That's sure to impress you and jog the ole noggin. Ahh, so many to pick from." she began to point at the various crowds. "Volleyball, soccer, tennis! Oh, I wish to try them all. We just have to try and get into the same club, it'll be a bunch of fun."

"Wait, I gotta sign up too? I don't know about that..."

The café, school, and a club? At that point, I wouldn't have any time to myself. At the same time, it would make her happy and that would be great. I didn't wanna be a burden so I guess at least checking out some clubs wouldn't hurt anyone.

"Shi!" A voice cried out. "Shi, you big dummy!"

"That voice. Aya-senpai?"

I was tackled and pinned to the ground. Arms trapped at my sides, Aya's nose rubbed against the back of my vest. Gross...she was crying again. Craning my head up as she continued to wail and sob like the crybaby she's always been, Yuu stared down at us with a blank expression on her face, unsure of what to do.

"Shi, you didn't pick up your phone for a week! A whole week! You got me thinking that you got hurt too. You better have a good excuse for this or else I'll never forgive you," she blubbered.

"I was cleaning."

"For a week?! I won't believe that, I can't believe that! I...I!"

Pushing her tear-filled face down with both hands, I quickly escaped her grasp and scurried to a nearby locker before standing back up again. "Yes. A week. Lifting and putting down, lifting and putting down, lifting and putting down again. My back is starting to ache again just thinking about it. I might actually take a nap once I get back home. Tired."

"Geez! I would have helped you out if you called. You're always like this." Aya sniffed and brushed her straight-cut bangs back with her hand. "Who's that?"

Yuu folded her hands together and bowed her head. "It's always a pleasure to meet a friend of Shiro. I am currently living alongside her, the names Tsubasa Yuu but I'd appreciate it if we could be on a first name basis."

Aya wiped eyes in her sleeve as fast as she could and tried to copy what Yuu was doing. Instead of coming off as composed like she was, Aya looked like a little kid trying to play dress up. "No, I gotta thank you for looking after my gremlin of a best friend. I hope she hasn't caused you any trouble."

"Gremlin?" I interrupted. "5'0 isn't gremlin height. In fact, it's the perfect height for someone my age. They must be putting something your food."

"Wrong!" Yuu said, suddenly looking more fired up than ever. "Compared to everyone else here, you're tiny! That's what makes you, you. If Shiro wasn't incredibly short, that wouldn't be the Shiro that I know and love. Be proud of your shortness!"

"You say that like you're praising me but..."

"Whoa...pretty and super polite. Where'd you bag a girl like this, Shi? This one's a keeper."

Aya put her arm around me and jabbed me a few times in the ribs. I didn't give her the time of day. You would think after all these years that she would know that sort of thing didn't work on me. She gazed at the crowd of first years. With all of them talking at once, it looked like the upperclassmen were quickly getting overwhelmed. Before I knew it, she turned her attention back to me, eyes squinted and a hopeful smile curved onto her lips.

"I'm just glad that you're adjusting well to this new school, you big dummy," she said, ruffling my hair just like always. "Well since I'm here, I might as well join the other people in my year and ask. Are you two interested in checking out the sewing club?"

"Sewing? No, not really—"

"Yes!" Yuu said, covering my mouth. "Yes. We would both love to join. We were just talking about all the clubs we were going to try out for."

We followed her upstairs to the 2nd year classrooms. Our school had three floors, one for each year we would attend it. Same pristine white floors as downstairs, but this floor had rows upon rows of trophies that sat behind cases. It seemed that the majority of our school's awards came from 2nd-year students. Just looking at them put alot of pressure on me so I tried to keep my head down. Other than the awards and the fact that their shoe lockers were red instead of the dark green that we had, nothing else stood out to me.

After walking past the trophies, banners, and motivational posters, we made it to room 214. A half-made hoodie sat on a desk near some needles and a variety of different colored threads. Aya rushed and sat down.

"Come, come, pull up a chair," she said, quickly getting back to work. "I'm the only member here and there are no sewing machines. Guess that means it'll be nice and quiet though. I'd recommend you start with something simple. Maybe a T-shirt or tank top."

Yuu put a hand up. "Would it be ok if I do mine alone? I want it to be a surprise for Shiro."

"Yeah, that's perfectly fine. If you have any questions don't be afraid to ask."

It wouldn't be much of a surprise if I already knew I was getting something, would it? Nevertheless, Yuu took most of the colored threads along with more needles than she could have ever needed, and went to a table far in the corner. All the while, she hummed a melody that was nice on the ears. She had a nice singing voice. Not too high pitched but also not low either. Definitely not monotonous like my own. It put a slight smile on my face.

Make a tank top, she said like it was the easiest thing in the world. I sat beside Aya and began to work on something myself. A snake without eyes. This was because I had no idea how to actually sew and I assumed that if I made it long enough, I could cut it open and get inside of it during the winter months.

Eventually, Aya spoke up and broke the silence.

"So, how have you been holding up?"

"My back hurts."

"Other than that! The fire didn't even make it to televised news, can you believe that? Imagine me waking up one morning and checking my phone to see that something happened to my friend's home." Aya's eyes glossed over as she gripped the black sleeve of the hoodie. She didn't look up from her work but every now and again, I could hear faint sniffles coming from her direction. "I don't mean to make this about me. I really don't. It's really scared me, you know that?"

I messed up. That's one thing I can admit. She may have been a crybaby ever since we were little but this time around she had an excuse to be.

"I'm sorry." That's all I could say. It was selfish of me to not think of her feelings. During the hustle and bustle of moving, getting a bunch of phone calls from people I've never even talked to let alone seen before, and the pressure of moving up to high school, she was the last thing on my mind. I didn't want to bring other people into my problems.

"It's fine. I don't mean to sound disrespectful when I say this but a load must have been taken off your shoulders, huh? With them gone, you must be at least a little relieved."

"I guess. It doesn't make a difference to me anyway. Life goes on as always."

Aya shook her head. "You can drop the act now, can't you? They can't do anything to you anymore so at least tell me how you're feeling."

"It's not an act. Aya-senp—"

"Just. Call. Me. Aya. We've known each other for how long now? Shi, come on. You have to feel something. If it were me, I would take the first month off to come to terms with my feelings."

She stared up at me with her eyebrows upturned and the space between her eyes pinched together. Aya wanted an answer. Unfortunately for her, I didn't have one. Not one that would make her happy anyway. I didn't intend to sound overdramatic when I say this but it was the truth.

My feelings toward the situation I was in? I didn't have any. The café was my main priority at the moment. I'd open it up and bring the place to glory, erasing anything that had to do with my family.

My feelings toward having every single relative suddenly act all buddy-buddy with me, despite only ever seeing me in diapers? None. I'll stop being useful to them one day, and when that happens they'll just leave me alone. It's a matter of waiting.

Most importantly, my feelings toward those people who raised me? Squeezing my thigh as I gritted my teeth together, I spoke them aloud. "Absolutely nothing. I barely see them as adults."


Yuu raised her creation up in the air and cheered "All done!" as we turned our attention to her. At least that took the spotlight off of me. We weren't necessarily talking for all that long so I guess that Yuu is some sort of prodigy in sewing? That's to be expected of heaven's number one angel. Maybe. I just had to assume that she meant that she graduated at the top of her class, she didn't give me any information saying otherwise.

"That was quick," Aya said, "way too quick actually. What the heck, I didn't even give you any fabric to cut the bits of your shirts. You only had threads."

"That's your fault though, isn't it Aya-senpai?"

"Lapse in judgment!"

"Wrong. You wanted us to mess up on purpose so that you could swoop in and dote on us. I know you like a book."

"Lapse in judgment and that!"

She slammed her little project down onto the desk in front of us. It was a rectangular piece of cardboard with the symbols 'S+Y' stitched in the middle of a red heart. On each side, she made small stick figures that loosely resembled the two of us. Her with her long blonde hair and me with my black shoulder-length hair. Cute. It was cute, that's about all I could say about it.

"There were these watery red splotches that were coming onto the cardboard for some reason but they slid off easy. I used two needles at once and was able to make great pace! Now I feel all dizzy though," she said, swaying side to side ever so slightly.

I grabbed hold of Yuu's hand. It seemed that she pricked herself alot. And I meant alot. Some of the blood even got on my hand. "Oh. No Yuu, that's blood. You're bleeding."

"Wait really? I thought there was a leak or something, thank goodness it's just my blood."

"No worries, it's a mistake anyone could make. At least none of it got on your work."

"Oh, you like it?"

"Mhm. Very cute."

Aya slammed her hands on the desk and stood up. "Stop acting like that's normal! Go to the nurse's office and get bandaids, you weirdos."



Kendo club. Yuu ended up breaking every sword she was given. Rejected.

The soccer team. She tripped over herself during the endurance testing. During the mock-up game, she blasted the ball through the gym's roof. Rejected and fined 100 dollars to get it fixed. No more sports teams.

Chess club. My brain hurts trying to explain why she got rejected. But she did.

We tried the rest of the day and even a little bit in the evening to find a club but to no avail. As the sun began to set, our walk home was alot more solemn. She still walked behind me but now she held her handbag in front of her as she stared at the ground.

"You remember anything yet?" she asked.

"What do you mean?"

"U-Uhm, slip of the tongue. I meant aren't you forgetting something! Is your friend not joining us? She was really nice."

"Oh, uh, no. Aya-senpai is actually apart of many clubs. She puts alot of effort into making new clubs and helping out with the older ones."

"I see."

Silence. The water underneath the bridge was the only thing that could be heard. In a situation like this, I had no idea what to do. With breakfast, I could make her feel better by reassuring her that her cooking was great. What was I supposed to do here? Great job, I'm sure that they were too afraid to recruit someone like you! That would come off as condescending.


Tsubasa Yuu. That was her name.

Heaven's greatest angel who wasn't all that great at much. Seeing her bummed out after being rejected by all those clubs didn't sit well with me. From dusk to dawn Yuu had tried to impress me and I could say with a straight face that she had succeeded. From the very first moment I opened my eyes this was the truth. Not from the quality or anything, but from the pure passion that she put into what she did. It was as if she wasn't afraid of failure.

I couldn't put it into words how grateful I was. If she was going to try that hard for my sake, the least I could do was try and do the same for her. I ran ahead a few feet before turning around to face her again.

"Hey, number one." Yuu came to a dead stop and stared at me. The wind picked up and blew her hair to the side as my heart began to beat fast. This feeling. It was the same one as last night. "There's one more club you forgot about. Only the greatest, most talented, angels or humans or whatever can join! There's still alot to work on if I truly want it to open it but...I don't think it's possible for me to do it by myself. Tsubasa Yuu, will you work at my café with me?"

Eyes wider than I had ever seen before, Yuu's face flushed bright red against the evening sun's vibrant glow. She ran and jumped into me, wrapping her arms around my waist. Our bags slid out of my view. As we laid against the damp sidewalk, many students new and old passing us by, she chuckled proudly and continued to nuzzle her face into my vest.

"Do you mean it?" she said, "you wish to have me work with you?"

"Yeah. W-well, you would be getting paid of course. However that works. Might have to give Aya-senpai a call too. Ugh, I have no idea what equipment a café even needs..." I was rambling. "But yes. Please work with me, Yuu."

"That kindness of yours, it's why I'm indebted to you. Forever and always. The answer's yes."