In the Morning, I'll Say Hello - Chapter 43

"In the Morning, I'll Say Hello" is a yuri comic I wrote. But I can't draw, so I'm posting the scripts here so that others might enjoy.

"In the Morning, I'll Say Hello" - Chapter 43

Chapter 43
"What are You Looking For?"

The all black panels with the white star bursts representing Kami-sama and his wife.

Kami-sama: “She goes in search of her identity.”

Eriko’s mother: “You tease her with this wager.”

Kami-sama: “She struggles of her own volition.”

Eriko’s mother: “Yes, but you make it too difficult.”

Kami-sama: “What good would it do for me to give her the answer?”

Eriko’s mother: “You seem to be enjoying this.”

Kami-sama: “No parent wants to see their child suffer. This new quest too will be fruitless. She will return in due time to her rightful place by my side as the bringer of justice, creator of order, harbinger of vengeance.”

Morning in the Kiyoura household. Yuka stumbles out of the bedroom in her pajamas, bleary eyed. Suzu is running around and dressed smartly in a full pant-suit (professional work clothes). Yuka stops and stares, bewildered. At one point in her dashing around, Suzu notices Yuka standing there, watching her, and stops.

Suzu: “Good morning Yuka. I’m so sorry, but I just got called in to the office. I guess something happened to the project and they need some revisions. We’re all going in to try and redo it.”

Right then, something starts burning on the stove.

Suzu: “Ahhhhh! Your breakfast!”

She’s about to rush over to take care of it, but Yuka waves her off and takes it off the stove and calmly puts it under running water in the sink to stop the burning.

Suzu: “Well, so much for that. There’s leftovers from last night in the fridge if you want.”

Yuka smiles up at her and waves both hands signaling “Don’t worry about me, I’m fine.”

Suzu: “Ah, it’s so late! I’ve got to go, will you be okay?”

Yuka nods 'yes.'

Suzu: “Wish Aiko-chan luck for me. I wish I could have been there to see her in action.”

Yuka waves bye.

Suzu: “I’m off.”

We see Yuka looking around the kitchen, in the fridge, in the cupboards, ostensibly for something to eat for breakfast. Finally we see a shot of her laying on the couch, laying on her stomach, feed in the air, watching anime and eating chips from a bag. In the anime, there is a scene of a blond, longhaired heroine (like a princess magical girl) about to get into an action fight. Yuka’s mind drifts off and replaces the heroine with Eriko in the scene. As the action unfolds, it goes from Eriko as magical princess to Yuka's memory of Eriko fighting with the school girls in the bathroom in the early chapters.

Yuka shakes off this day dream and turns the TV off. She rolls around on the couch listlessly for a few minutes. She gets up and goes into her room. She looks at her calendar which has the tournament starting at 10am. It’s only 7:40ish on the clock. She sees a stack of summer homework on her desk. She shrugs, like “guess I’ll work on this now” and sits to start working.

As she’s working, her mind drifts again to the study session with Eriko and the gang in the library before summer break. Thinking about her moments with Eriko studying. Again, she shakes herself out of the daydream. She slaps her cheeks softly to get herself to concentrate. After trying a few more minutes of homework, she slams it shut and throws up her hands because it’s futile, her mind’s too distracted. She looks at the clock, it’s only a little after 8am.

Warm ups at the tournament. The girls are stretching, practicing drills, etc...

Kiko: “Ready for today?”

Aiko: “Completely.”

Kiko (to herself): “She looks okay, doesn’t seem hung over or anything. I wonder what she was doing last night?”

Kiko: “Just two matches and the tournament is ours!”

Aiko: “You’re mistaken. For now, it’s just this one match in front of us. If we don’t win it, we go home.”

Kiko: “You’re right, you’re right, I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. I’m just looking forward to playing in the finals later.”

Aiko: “We have to get there first. I need you to help keep everyone focused on the semi-final match. If you’re head’s not in it...”

Kiko: “I’m fine, I’m fine, don’t worry. My head’s just fine. I’ve got your back.”

Aiko: “It’s not about me, the whole team needs you.’ve been playing a lot better lately.”

Kiko(shocked): “”

Kiko (to herself): “Was that actually a compliment from Okumura?”

Aiko is looking around at who is in the stands, not finding anyone. Then she sees an older man in a suit from behind. She perks up, but when he turns to sit, it’s no one she recognizes (we see this through her relaxing, slightly disappointed facial features).

Aiko (to herself): “Hmmm, I suppose not, it’s too early I guess.”

Kiko (to herself): “She must be looking for Kiyoura-san. I really wonder what is it she sees in that little weirdo? What a waste! All that talent, prestige, and beauty and she blows it with those friends and her rotten personality!”

Suddenly one of the girls runs up to them.

Komachi Nagashima (teammate): “Okumura-senpai, Hasekura-senpai. I just heard from Tamaki-chan! She's super sick and can’t make it. It seems like food poisoning or something.”

Kiko: “Shit, she was our only substitute for today.”

Aiko: “What the hell was she doing to get so sick?”

Nagashima: “I guess she went out to celebrate with her family last night.”

Aiko: “Stupid, getting ahead of herself, celebrating before we’ve even finished the tournament. Disgusting!”

Kiko: “What do we do? Do we get one of the new first-years suited up? I told them all to come watch today.”

Aiko: “No, we’ll just have to take our chances without a sub. The rest of the first years aren’t ready. You saw them at the camp. We barely qualified for this tournament as it is.”

Kiko: “I hope you know what you’re doing.”

But Aiko is already back scanning the stands.

Hatsue and Eriko walk up to a local police station near Eriko’s house.

Hatsue: “You ready?”

Eriko: “I don’t know about this.”

Hatsue: “What’s not to like? We go in, we look at the posters and we leave if we don’t see anything.”

Eriko: “But what if we do find something?”

Hatsue: “Isn’t that the point? You can’t back out now. If you aren’t going to do this for yourself, at least do it for her.”

Eriko: “sigh”

Eriko (to herself): “Am I that transparent”

Hatsue (to herself): “Boy she’s transparent!”

Eriko: “What about the police? If they see me...”

Hatsue: “I don’t think they’ll even notice you, at least, if you can keep your temper in check. Besides, maybe one of them knows something. Come on, let’s go in.”

Eriko: “You’ve been so brave lately!”

Hatsue: “Police aren’t as scary as boys.”

Eriko: “It’s not just that. Do you think you’ll see him again?”

Hatsue: “Who?”

Eriko: “You know who.”

Hatsue: “I...I’m not sure...hey, don’t change the subject!”

Eriko: “But I...I’m ready yet.”

Hatsue: “Well, neither am I, but here we go.”

Hatsue takes Eriko’s hand. Eriko looks up at her as Hatsue pulls her in, they smile brilliantly at each other.

Eriko (to herself) “So warm, so kind...”

They go in and there’s just a sleepy cop at the front desk, he barely looks up at them, Hatsue smiles, Eriko looks away, and he simply closes his eyes and drifts off again. Hatsue and Eriko exchange looks and a smile.

Hatsue: “I think the board is over there.”

They walk over and there is a board with all sorts of notices on it.

Hatsue: “Do you think we should look at the wanted posters first?”

Eriko gives Hatsue a death-stare (but in a funny way).

Eriko: “Ha ha, very funny!”

They are looking at the missing children posters. There are sad stories, little kids, teens, etc... even old folks. None really look like Eriko.

Hatsue: “Hmmm, nothing really seems to fit your story does it?”

Eriko: “For some reason, I don’t feel surprised.”

Hatsue: “Don’t give up, this is just the first station. Let’s at least check a few more around the area Arishima-san found you.”

Eriko (to herself): “I get the feeling no one is looking for me. Shouldn’t I be missed? Or maybe I really did do something awful and they’re glad I’m gone.”

Hatsue noticing Eriko making a sad/mean face.

Hatsue: “Come on, it’s early yet.”

Yuka arrives in the stands of the sports venue. As she’s coming down the steps of the aisle towards her seat she waves to Aiko. Aiko sees her and waves and comes over to the side.

Aiko: “Yuka! Thank you for giving up two days for me.”

Yuka waves both hands in front of her making a “don’t worry, it’s nothing” gesture. As Yuka does this, Aiko starts looking up and over and around Yuka into the stands above. Yuka tips her head to both sides as Aiko is looking around her, then Yuka turns around and scans the stands too. Aiko realizes what she was doing and snaps back to attention with Yuka.

Aiko: “The other semi-final match is after ours. If we win this, the finals are in the afternoon. Can you stay?”

Yuka nods 'yes' enthusiastically.

Aiko: “I shouldn’t be thinking ahead like that, I just scolded Kiko-chan for the same thing.”

Aiko turns as she says this to face where Kiko is practicing. Kiko puts her hands on her hips as she looks at Aiko and Yuka. Kiko shouts to Aiko from across the distance.

Kiko: “Hey, captain, shouldn’t you be over here warming up?”

Yuka looks long at Kiko during this exchange.

Aiko: “Sorry Yuka, I’ve got to get ready, the match starts in about 15 minutes.”

Yuka waves bye and then puts her hands together over her heart as a sign of “good luck.”

Aiko: “Thanks!”

Finally the semi-final match starts. The teams are pretty evenly matched with points going both ways. Kiko and Aiko are clearly the stars on their team. Yuka is cheering. A teammate misses a shot, Aiko is about to yell something negative, but then Kiko says to the teammate who missed the shot:

Kiko: “Come on, pick yourself up, we have the next point to worry about.”

Kiko nods to Aiko who refocuses. Kiko sets up Aiko for a successful spike. Kiko stuffs a girl at the net. Aiko dives for a save. She gets it but stays down for a second, Kiko helps her up, Aiko has skinned her arms, but they high five and smile at each other, they’re in the groove, but also in their own little world. Yuka is starting to notice this closeness between them.

The girls are in a huddle now.

Aiko: “We need this, right now, right here, this is what we’ve been waiting for. No more room for error. Ready?”

Team together: “READY!”

They break the huddle, the other team has the serve. The score is 23-23. The opponents serve, it goes to a girl on the back line of Aiko's team who does a setup, the setup comes to Kiko who does a setup for Aiko and it’s coming to Aiko for the spike with an opponent set to block at the net. Aiko gets it past the block for the point and the serve. The stadium erupts, Yuka is dancing! The score is now 24-23 for Aiko’s team and they have the serve. Kiko shouts encouragement to their server.

Kiko: “Come on Watabe-chan you can do it!"

Yuka is on the edge of her seat. Aiko’s team is about to serve for the win of the game. Aiko turns and looks at Ikuko Watabe who at first is nervous, but Aiko just nods her head slightly, Watabe breathes out a sigh, closes her eyes, opens them and lets out a lightning serve that causes multiple players on the other team to crash into each other while the ball lands in bounds past them. Aiko’s team has won the first set (the match is best 2 of 3). The crowd erupts, the girls on AIko's team are high fiving each other in joy.

Official: “We will now have a three minute interval until the second set. If needed, there will be a third set following.”

Aiko and Kiko are with their teammates getting water, toweling sweat off, laughing, high fiving, being a team in the pause between sets.

In front of another police station.

Hatsue: “Come on, we’re going in.”

This is a much more respectable office, police are milling around with paperwork, people from the community are talking with a few, a suspect is being questioned, etc... Eriko and Hatsue are standing awkwardly in the entrance when the front desk person looks up and says:

Officer: “Can I help you?”

He’s pretty big, tough, handsome and somewhat aggressive. Hatsue is a bit shocked and starts to stutter in fear:
Hatsue: “”

Eriko: “Your community board.”

Officer: “Yes?”

Eriko: “Where is it?”

Officer: “Over there on the right.”

Eriko pulls Hatsue along, she’s sheepishly following Eriko.

Eriko: “So much for bravery, what happened?”

Hatsue: “I’m sorry, I don’t know, he was just...”

They finish the thought at the same time (but differently):

Eriko: “Scary.”

Hatsue: “Handsome.”

They look shocked at each other and bust out laughing. The front desk officer looks up at them, then shakes his head like “stupid teenagers” and goes back to his paperwork.

Eriko: “I guess those floodgates have opened, huh?”

Hatsue: “Forget about me, let’s do what we came here for, do you see anything?”

They are looking at the various pictures, no one really looks like Eriko until they come across one. Her name is Miiko Yamaoka, she was 16 when she went missing, about a year ago. In the picture she has long straight hair. She looks a little like Eriko, but its not a clear picture (like a bad photocopy).

Hatsue: “What about her, she looks a little like you, I guess...if you squint?”

Hatsue turns to see Eriko staring intently at it, suddenly Eriko leans forward and supports herself with her two arms against the bulletin board, sweat is starting to form on her brow, her eyes turn vacant, and even roll back a bit in her head. Things start to get staticky.

We get some fuzzy/distorted images. The girl from the poster (Miiko) is lying in an alley, she’s limp. There is a syringe near her, a trickle of blood on her arm. Some people are running away. We see a delicate female hand touch the girl’s fingers and lift her head, then close her eyes for her. A tear drops onto her cold face. We never see this other woman's face.

Next we see those same people who were running away now running towards the framing of the shot. They stop with crazy facial expressions (anger, fear, rage). One pulls a knife. Suddenly, in a flash, his arm is cut off, blood splatters on another, that person starts crying, begging, we see a swift slash and then a cut open up across his throat, he falls to the ground. Everything goes from static and fuzzy to pure black.

Back in the present,

Hatsue: “...ko....Eriko!”

Hatsue is shaking Eriko while loudly whispering her name to get her to come to. Eriko slumps down onto her hands and knees. Eriko shouts before she's fully awake.

Eriko: “No!”

The officer at the desk looks up.

Officer: “Is everything okay over there?”

Hatsue: “Uhh, yes, just fine, she’s a little overheated is all. Bye now.”

Hatsue is helping Eriko up and walk out of the precinct. As she helps Eriko up she quickly takes the poster off the wall and shoves it in her pocket.

They’re sitting on a bench now under the shade. Eriko is slouched over with her elbows on her legs and head in her hands.

Hatsue: “What was that, did you remember something?”

Eriko: “mmmm”

Hatsue takes the poster out of her pocket.

Hatsue: “Here, I took this, is this you?”

Eriko: “I...I don’t think so...I don’t think she...she...”

Eriko starts crying.
Hatsue: “Shhh, shhh, it’s okay, just tell me when you’re ready.”

Eriko wipes the tears from her eyes.

Eriko: “She’s not coming back.”

Hatsue: “What do you mean?”

Eriko: “I...I don’t I...I just think...”

Eriko turns her head away, lost in the thought.

Hatsue: “But, how do you know?”

Eriko (to herself): “Why did I see those things? How could I possibly know these things?”

Eriko: “I don’t know...I just don’t...”

Hatsue: “You're remembering something and it’s the only lead we have. What if we visit the address on the poster?”

Eriko looks up distraught.

Eriko: “We couldn’t...we shouldn’t...”

Hatsue: “We can’t miss this chance! Maybe you’re wrong and this is your family?”

Eriko: “My family?”

Back to the volleyball match. The score is 14-11 with Aiko’s side up. Yuka is cheering from the stands.

Kiko: “Come on girls, we’ve got this!”

Kiko and another teammate are going for the same dig but crash into each other. The other team gets the point and the serve. Kiko winces, the other girl is apologizing.

Masumi Shimura: “I’m so sorry Hasekura-san, are you okay?”

Kiko: “I’m fine, I’m fine.”

Aiko is looking at them, she see’s Kiko grimace as she stands but she isn’t limping. Aiko addresses the following sternly at the girl:

Aiko: “Be more careful, you’re a third year, this could be your last tournament!”

Shimura: “Yes captain, I will!”

The other team serves, a girl on Aiko’s team sets up the return to Kiko, Kiko is visibly slow and grimacing getting to the setup but gets there eventually but only enough to lightly get it over the net and not to Aiko for a spike. The other team spikes her soft return and Aiko goes for the stuff but isn’t able to block the spike and the opponents score a point.

Aiko (to Kiko): “What was that, you were late getting there?”

Kiko: “Don’t worry about me, you were the one who missed the stuff.”

Aiko gets in Kiko’s face and say’s quietly:

Aiko: “You’re hurt.”

Kiko: “I’m fine. I’ve got this. Besides, you were the one who went without any subs today.”

Aiko: “I’ll take you with one leg over the first-years.”

Kiko: “I think that was a compliment.”

Aiko: “Just don’t make me regret it.”

Score is 14-13 Aiko’s team up, opponents still serving. More plays, some where things go okay, some where the opponents take the points. Yuka reacting to each point (positive, negative, cheering). The score is now 19-18 with the opponents up. Kiko is slow on some, misses some, but also grimaces through and gets to some. Finally, a setup goes to Aiko instead of Kiko, so Kiko has to do the spike.

Aiko: “Kiko, it’s yours”

Kiko goes to jump and just reels in pain and collapses to the ground as the setup from Aiko falls to the floor. The girls rush over.

Aiko: “We need a timeout.”

Masumi: “It’s your ankle, is that from me?”

Kiko: “It’s okay, really, I’m fine.”

Aiko: “No, you’re not. I want you to switch into the back row after each serve for the rest of this set.”

Kiko: “But no one ever switches from front to back during a play.”

Aiko: “Well, you’re not going to help up here. You!...”

Aiko pointsg at Masumi, the girl who caused Kiko's injury.

Aiko: “...You’re going to switch with Hasekura on each play.”

Masumi: “But I’m not anywhere near as good as she is.”

Aiko: “You will be today, you’re the reason she’s hurt, so you’re going to make up for it. Show the first years what a third-year can do.”

Nagashima: “But Okumura-senpai, wouldn’t Nishihara-senpai be better for that.”

Aiko: “You heard the play, get back in positions.”

Kiko (to Aiko): “I hope you know what you’re doing.”

Aiko (to herself): “We can’t let this go on. She won’t make it through a third set. We need to win this now and try to get her healthy for the finals.”

The opponent girls whisper to each other

Opponent team member: “Serve it towards that one, she’s hurt."

Opponent team member: "We got this now!”

Play resumes at 20-18. The opponents serve. Kiko rotates as soon as the ball is in the air It goes to the back line of Aiko’s team where a player does a dig which pops up to where Kiko has just rotated during the play. She sets it up for Aiko. Aiko spikes it over getting the point and now the serve. 19-20 (opponents still have the lead). Aiko nods her head in approval at Kiko. Yuka notices this interaction.

Kiko (to herself): “What’s she thinking?”

Opponent girls: “Shit, that didn’t work, their spiker is really good.”

Aiko (to herself): “Just a few more points, I can do this!”

Aiko's team now serves to the opponents and it gets returned weakly towards where Masumi has rotated to the front line in place of Kiko. Aiko rushes over to get it instead of letting Masumi handle it.

Aiko: “I’ve got this!”

She spikes it from the weak return getting another point, but leaving the girls in shock.

Masumi (to herself, sort of dejected): “Oh, I see...okay.”

Score 20-20. Aiko’s team to serve again.

Nagashima: “We’re tied!”

Aiko: “It’s on you, don’t give back the serve.”

Nishihara: “I know, I know.”

Serve, but Aiko's team faults. Now 21-20 with the opponents serving and in the lead.

Nishihara: “I’m so sorry, I just...the pressure...”

Aiko: “No time for apologizes, just get the serve back”

The opponents serve. It goes to Nishihara who sets it up to where Masumi has rotated to the front row. Aiko rushes over to Masumi’s position and spikes it over the net without a second set up, but it’s blocked into the position where Aiko was supposed to be (had she not moved to get it where Masumi was) allowing the opponents to score. 22-20.

Kiko: “Aiko, you can’t go playing every shot! You needed to stay in your position!”

Aiko: “It’s not like you two left me much choice!”

Kiko: “You have plenty of choices, like trusting your team!”

Aiko: “Trust goes both ways.”

The opponents serve, it goes straight towards where Kiko is on the back line. She goes to move for the dig, but can’t move fast enough and the opponents get an ace. 23-20. Aiko goes over to her.

Aiko: “Don’t you dare give up after that little speech of yours. One more point and we lose this one!”

Kiko: “Get out of my face, I’m doing my best!”

Opponents: “Keep it up, she’s their weak link, their spiker can’t get to them all.”
Aiko walks away and looks back at her. The opponents serve, it’s going towards Kiko, Aiko turns and dashes and does a dig heading towards the back line to keep Kiko from having to do it. It pops up, Kiko is able to set it up from there to where Masumi has rotated into the front line.

Aiko: “Masumi! It’s yours!”

The closes her eyes, jumps, and spikes the ball, it’s stuffed by the opposing player but Aiko has recovered and moves into a position to get to it, she sets it up again and Watabe gets it over, and towards the back line of the opponents who miss it as it hits on the line for a point and return to service for Aiko’s team. 21-23. Yuka is cheering wildly.

Opponent girl: “Holy shit, how’d she do that, she moved between two positions in one play?”

Opponent leader: “It doesn’t matter, we’re still up, just two points away from getting this set. Don’t let them back in it.”

Aiko (to Watabe): “Nice job”

The comment is said in passing, nonchalantly and catches the Watabe off guard.

Watabe: “Oh, uh, thanks!”

Kiko: “It’s your serve now Okumura.”

Aiko: “I know, you did your best to get us here. I’ll finish this.”

Aiko serves, it’s returned by the other team, two set ups and Aiko comes rushing up from the back line for the spike. 22-23. She’s panting.

Kiko (to herself): “You’ll wear yourself out, even if we make it to the finals, you won’t have anything left if you play like this now.”

Aiko’s serves again. The other team hits it into the net. 23-23.

Aiko: (to herself): “Okay, you’ve got this. just two more points!”

Opponent: "Crap, they've come back."

Opponent: "Don't get distracted."

Aiko serves, the other team sends it back over. Aiko sees that it is going where Kiko is but that she’s not going to make it, Aiko gets to it, digs it up, Kiko sets it back up, and there is a soft shot back over the net by another player. The other team returns it, Masumi receives the second set up from Nagashima and Aiko rushes up front to spike it, it’s contested, but ultimately the blocker can’t get it. Someone else on the opponents does barely get to it and pops it up to a teammate (opponents). The opponents go to spike it and Aiko goes up to stuff it, she grunts furiously as she stuffs it resulting in a point for Aiko’s team. 24-23, they’re in the lead now. But she’s exhausted on the ground.

Kiko: “We need a tim...”

Aiko: “No, I’m fine, I’m fine, let’s finish this!”

Aiko gets up, brushes off help standing, and gets back to the service line. She stares down the other team. She looks at the girl who caused Kiko’s injury (Masumi), winks, and Masumi blushes, then Aiko turns to Kiko, nods her head, Kiko nods back. Aiko serves and gets the ace! They win 25-23 and at two sets, they win the match, they’re going to the finals. The place erupts in cheers. Yuka is ecstatic and exchanges knowing glances with Aiko. Aiko winks back. The rest of the team is celebrating wildly.

(to be  continued...)

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