In the Morning, I'll Say Hello - Chapter 44

"In the Morning, I'll Say Hello" is a yuri comic I wrote. I can't draw, so I'm posting the scripts here. I hope you enjoy!

"In the Morning, I'll Say Hello" - by Jaime Lustig

Chapter 44

Eriko and Hatsue come up to a small, but tidy house.

Eriko: “Is this it?”

Hatsue: “Looks like it. Go knock.”

Eriko: “Why me? This was your idea.”

Hatsue: “But it’s your past.”

Hatsue (to herself): “And future?”

Eriko goes up to the door and knocks. She’s fidgety and waiting impatiently, then turns to Hatsue:

Eriko: “Maybe we should...”

The door opens right then. A middle-aged woman shows at the door. The woman is slowly looking up at Eriko with a searching expression.

Woman: “, no, I’m sorry, you’re not...of course you’re, can I help you?”

Eriko (to herself): “I don’t recognize her.”

Eriko: “I, I’m sorry to...”

Hatsue comes up behind Eriko with the poster in hand.

Woman: “Oh, did you come about Miiko then? Were you friends of hers?”

Hatsue: “Yes, I’m so sorry to bother you, may we ask you some questions?”

Woman: “I told the police everything I knew already, but if you’d like to come in?”

Hatsue nudges Eriko forward.

Hatsue: “Yes, thank you for having us, pardon the intrusion.”

Hatsue whispers to Eriko as they enter.

Hatuse: “Do you recognize her? Is this bringing any memories back?”

Eriko shakes her head 'no' as they enter.

Hatsue (whispering): “Hmmm, she didn’t seem to know you either.”

They’re sitting on a couch opposite the woman now. She’s put out some lemonade and simple snacks. The girls look uncomfortable.

Woman: “Did you know my Miiko well?”

Eriko and Hatsue (to themselves): “Did?”

Hatsue: “Um...not really.”

Woman: “So many people came to her funeral, she was so popular, it's hard to remember faces.”

Eriko (to herself): “She really is dead, and somehow I have a memory of it.”

Hatsue: “We saw this poster...I guess it shouldn’t still be up.”

Hatsue hands the poster to the woman. The woman hesitantly takes it, looks at the photo, closes her eyes and speaks.

Woman: “It’s such a bad picture of her, she was always so much happier, but it was all we had. You know how you teens are, you don’t want your parents taking your picture anymore, like we used to when you were children...”

Eriko: “ did...?”

Woman: “...I don’t know what we did wrong.”

Hatsue: “I'm sorry, we shouldn't have come. Eriko, why don’t we go now?”

Woman: “No, no, it’s just hard to believe she was into drugs like that. The police finally found her. They said it was an overdose. I had no idea she was spending her time with people like that.”

Eriko: “People like that?”

Woman: “The police found two young men murdered near where they found my Miiko. They had the same drugs on them. At least they can’t hurt anyone else like they did Miiko.”

Eriko (to herself): “Just like in my vision. Why do I keep seeing these things?”

Hatsue clasps a hand over her mouth in grief.

Hatsue: “Oh, god. I'm so sorry."

Woman: “You both seem like such nice girls. I wish she had spent more time with you instead.”

Hatsue, taking the woman’s hands in hers.

Hatsue: “So do we.”

Eriko and Hatsue are outside the house, saying goodbye to the woman as they leave. As they are walking down the sidewalk:

Hatsue: “I feel a little bad that we led her on like that.”

Eriko (lost in thought): “Hmmm”

Hatsue: “Did talking with her bring up any memories again?”

Eriko: “No, nothing.”

Hatsue: “I wonder what it was then, at the police station?”

Eriko: “I...I wonder...”

Yuka is walking down some corridors in the sports arena towards the locker room. She peeks her head around the corner to see Aiko tending to Kiko's injury.

Kiko: “You really don’t have to do this, I can manage.”

Aiko: “It’s okay, you won’t do it right anyway.”

Kiko: “God! Even when you’re nice you’re cruel!”

They start laughing. Yuka watches as Aiko’s hands delicately put on the bandages, lightly touching Kiko’s leg and ankle. Yuka blushes.

Aiko: “Do you think you’ll be able to play this afternoon?”

Kiko: “I’ll keep putting ice on it, the swelling is going down already. Besides, I can’t let you take all the glory”

Just then the Masumi (the girl who caused the injury) walks over to Kiko.

Masumi: “I’m so sorry Hasekura-san, I’ve ruined everything.”

Kiko: “Don’t say you’re sorry to me, it’s Aiko-chan that had to step in.”

Masumi bows deeply to Aiko.

Masumi: “Okumura-san, I’m so very very...”

Aiko: “Stop!”

The girl is shaken up and lifts her head from her deep bow. She looks like she’s about to cry.

Aiko: “You did well out there. You may not be the captain, but as a third year, you are a leader on this team. We’ll just do the same thing in the finals. You’ll rotate into Hasekura’s spot. And this time, I’ll trust you. You’re on this team for a reason.”

Masumi brightens up.

Masumi: “Yes! Thank you captain, I’ll be ready.”

She runs over to the other girls who embrace her.

                Random teammate: "What did she say?"

Masumi (to the group): “I was so scared...”

Back to Kiko and Aiko.

Kiko: “That was really nice, what you just did.”

Aiko: “I'm just trying to win.”

Kiko: "Sure."

Kiko (to herself): "You don't fool me anymore."

One of the girls comes over.

Nagashima: “Okumura-senpai, Hasekura-senpai, will you be joining us for lunch?”

Aiko: “Oh, lunch...”

Aiko (to herself): “I wonder where Yuka is, she’s normally comes to visit me after matches.”

Aiko: “...I should wait for Kiyoura-chan.”
We see Yuka go from peeking around the door to ducking back into the hall with her back against the wall when she hears her name.
Kiko: “You should be with your team after a victory like that.”

Nishihara: “Yeah, come on Okumura-san. She won’t mind, we need to be together as a team!”

Nagashima: “Please, senpai, she knows where we eat, I’m sure she’s just there waiting for you.”

Aiko: “Yes, of course, you’re right.”

Kiko: “Alright! I’m starving, they had really good yakisoba yesterday.”

Aiko: “Ughh, how can you eat that stuff?”

Kiko: “Oh, I’m sorry your highness, does yakisoba not meet your refined taste?”

The other girls gasp thinking this is a real fight. Yuka peeks around the edge of the door frame again in curiosity.

Aiko: “Very funny. I simply meant that it’s cafeteria food.”

Kiko: “So the mighty Okumura deigns to eat yakisoba from time to time as long as it's from an upscale establishment?”

Aiko: “I’ll show you where you can put your yakisoba!”

Kiko puts her arm around Aiko as they start to leave, Kiko laughing at Aiko, Aiko not protesting at all. Seeing that Kiko and Aiko are about to leave the locker room, Yuka moves away from the door and puts her back to the wall.

Kiko: “That’s the lamest comeback I’ve ever heard.”

The other girls are left confused at the new intimacy between Aiko and Kiko and then scramble to leave behind them. As the girls leave the locker room they turn the opposite way down the hall from where Yuka had been standing. However, when we see where Yuka had been, it's empty, she left before they emerged from the locker room.

Yuka leaves the stadium and starts walking down the street. She thinks back to Kiko and Aiko’s exchanges over the past two days, to the tenderness of Aiko caring for Kiko’s ankle, the smiles and winks, the jokes and teasing, the support during matches and warmups, etc...things she can’t do with Aiko herself.

She’s walking around the streets now. As she passes a storefront she stops to look at her reflection in the window. She starts to lift her hand up to it, to touch her reflection. The outstretched hand reminds Yuka of the moment in chapter 40 when Eriko rejected her as she was recovering from her injuries in the cave.

                [Flashback - chapter 40]
Yuka makes some small movement towards her, on her hands and knees with an arm outstretched. Eriko responds loud then softly.

Eriko: “Don’t...don’t come near me.”
[Flashback ends]

Yuka turns away from the store and keeps walking down the street, she passes groups of friends who are laughing and playing around as they walk. She thinks back to being ignored by Eriko when Eriko left the house to go searching with Hatsue.

[Flashback - chapter 41]
Yuka is looking up at Eriko with big searching/imploring eyes, she’s about to reach out her hand as if to touch Eriko, to make sure she's real. Eriko steps out of the door, turns, closes the door behind her, walks by Yuka and gets on her bike leaving Yuka on the landing watching her. Eriko turns to Yuka, acknowledging her for the first time.

Eriko: “I have to go.”
[Flashback ends]

She sees people eating together outside at a cafe. Yuka remembers the lonely lunch with Aiko's team in the cafeteria the day before, watching Aiko laughing and interacting with others, especially with Kiko.

Yuka is now sitting on a bench, looking melancholy. Then, in the crowd, she sees Hatsue and Eriko walking. They’re talking to each other but looking solemn as they do so, intimate in their conversation. They stop to get something to eat from a street vendor. Yuka’s stomach rumbles. She watches Eriko and Hatsue interact. She looks at her empty hands as if to say “what did I do to make her distant?”

As she watches them leave the cart vendor, she gets up and, careful to not be seen, goes up and gets some food herself from the same place. As she does so, Hatsue happens to look back and sees Yuka there. A little smile crosses Hatsue’s mouth and she turns back to her conversation with Eriko.

In the cafeteria of the sports venue. The girls are finishing up with lunch.

Aiko: “I have to go for a few minutes, I’ll catch up with you all for warmups. Don’t slack off while I’m gone.”

Kiko: “Not that I care, but are you looking for Kiyoura-san?”

Aiko: “Yes, it’s strange that she didn’t join us.”

Kiko: “You’re really that worried about her, huh?”

Aiko looks away from Kiko, almost wistfully. She gets quieter by the end, almost inaudible to Kiko.

Aiko: “I have to, I’m all she has...she’s all I have.”

Kiko: “Wow, that’s gloomy! Don’t let the others hear you. Everyone else in school is always jealous of you and that would ruin your reputation! Ha!”

Kiko (to herself): “Money, power, looks, brains, can’t fix everything, huh?”

Aiko: “Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad.”

Kiko: “What was that?”

Aiko: “Mmm, nothing. I’ll see you in a few minutes. Have Watabe re-wrap that ankle for you.”

Kiko (to herself): “She’s really changed. Or maybe she’s always been like this, but no one gets to see it? If so, that’s a shame. I like this Okumura a lot better than the perfect princess."

Aiko walking through the halls of the arena. No sign of Yuka anywhere.

Aiko (to herself): “I can’t believe I said that in front of Hasekura. I must be slipping. But she's proven she can be discrete. I suppose I owe her some respect for that.”

She comes to a window at the end of a hallway, it’s pretty secluded.

Aiko (to herself): “I wonder where Yuka went?”

She takes out her phone. No messages or texts, no calls. She opens it up and dials.

Voice: “The party cannot be reached at this time. You may leave a message at the tone.”

Aiko: “Hi, father. It’s Aiko. We made it to the finals. The match starts in half an hour. I left the address with your secretary.”

She closes the phone and walks back.

Hatsue and Eriko are walking down the streets, Yuka is stalking them secretly from behind.

Eriko: “Thanks for lunch, I feel better now.”

Hatsue: “I’m glad, her story was so depressing.”

Eriko: “What do we do now?”

Hatsue: “There’s another police station near here, let’s look at their missing person’s board. Who knows, maybe you’ll remember something else?”

Eriko: “You don’t mind? All this time we’re spending...”

Hatsue: “There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than this!”

Yuka sees Eriko and Hatsue exchange a warm smile over this last comment. She makes a sad face in response.

Hatsue and Eriko enter the police station. Yuka stays outside but peeks through the window. She sees them by the board looking at the different posters. She has a quizzical look on her face, not quite understanding what they’re doing there. Hatsue points to some posters, Eriko shakes her head 'no'. Hatsue takes one off the wall and holds it up near Eriko’s face, she looks back and forth between the two as if comparing to see if Eriko’s likeness is in the photo. She shrugs and pins it back to the board. They both start to leave the station. Yuka scrambles to hide as they exit.

Hatsue: “...worth a try, I guess.”

Eriko: “I don’t really think it looked like me?”

Hatsue: “You do take terrible photos, so it’d be hard to tell anyway!”

Eriko: “Shut up!”

They’re laughing at this. As they walk and turn a corner, Hatsue sees Yuka in her spy mode, trying to follow discretely.

Hatsue (to herself): “I thought so! This is perfect!”

Warmups for the volleyball match. The girls are stretching, volleying, etc...

Aiko: “How’s your ankle?”

Kiko: “It’s okay, not great, but I’ll make it. We don’t really have a choice anyway, we’re so short.”

Aiko: “Masumi-san will step up.”

Kiko is shaking her head in disbelief.

Kiko: “What on earth happened to you?”

Aiko: “I have no idea what you mean.”

Kiko: “Well, don’t go too soft on them or they’ll start slacking off.”

Aiko, already distracted by two of the teammates goofing off.

Aiko: “Hey, we’ve only got a few minutes. If you have time to joke, you have time to practice your sets. They were too sloppy in the last match and we don’t have any room for error.”

Girls (in unison): “Yes, Okumura-san, sorry!”

Kiko (to herself): “I shouldn’t have worried.”

Aiko is scanning the stands, there’s no one there that she recognizes. She’s vacant as Kiko observes her.

Kiko (to herself): “Or should I? She’s the one that needs to focus. We’re going to need everything she’s got to win this.”

Hatsue and Eriko go up to another house, knock, have a conversation with a person who answers. They bow and leave without ever entering the house (no need to dialogue this scene – we see it from a slight distance –from the street, like Yuka's view). As they are walking back from the house:

Hatsue: “It didn’t seem like he recognized you.”

Eriko: “None of it felt familiar either.”

Yuka, in hiding, is looking on questioningly at this exchange, still unsure what’s going on.

Hatsue: “Hmmm, this doesn’t seem to be getting us much of anywhere.”

Eriko: “Sorry for wasting your day like this.”

Hatsue: "It was totally worth a try."

Eriko: “It was spend the day with you.”

Hatsue: "Eriko-chan..."

Hatsue blushes and is shocked by Eriko's intimacy. Eriko looks away shyly. Yuka is staring at them in this little intimate moment. Hatsue looks out of the corner of her eye to see that Yuka is still watching from behind the corner (or wherever she's been hiding).

Hatsue: “So...I’ve been meaning to ask, what’s going on with you and Kiyoura-chan?

Eriko: “What do you mean?”

Hatsue: “Ever since the’s like you’ve been ignoring her.”

Eriko: “I’m just...I didn’t want her to see”

Hatsue: “I don’t think she saw you that way.”

Eriko: “How do you know?"

Hatsue: "Did you think I'd stop being your friend after that?”

Eriko: “, I didn’t...”

Hatsue: “So have a little faith in her too.”

Eriko: “But it’s different.”

Hatsue: “Your right, it's even better, you love her and I think she loves you back.”

Yuka and Eriko both blush at this.

Eriko: “!”

Hatsue: “Heehee, anyway, why don’t we backtrack? We’re getting sort of far from the area where Arishima-san found you.”

Eriko is lost in thought and not really listening.

Eriko:  “mmmm” (vague affirmative)

They start walking in the direction where Yuka is hiding. She realizes they're coming her way and starts scrambling to get away, when suddenly:

Eriko: “K...Kiyoura...chan?”

Yuka is looking flustered and cute, and acts a little goofy nonchalant, like 'Oh, crazy running into you here.'

Hatsue: “Kiyoura-chan, what are you doing out here?”

Hatsue (to herself): "Like I don't already know!"

Eriko: “I, thought... you’d be with Okumura-san.”

Yuka looks shy and guilty and looks at the ground, shakes her head 'no,' scrapes her toe against the ground, demurring from the inquiry in embarrassment and guilt.

Hatsue: “If you have time, why don’t you join us?”

Yuka looks up excitedly at the same time Eriko says:

Eriko: “Ha...Ha-chan!”

Hatsue: “Great, it’s settled. We were just on our way back to the center of town anyway.

The volleyball finals. It's midway through the third set (we know this from the scoreboard). The score is 21-19 opponents up. Aiko is looking really fatigued, red in the face, sweating.

Kiko (to herself): “We split the first two sets, the match has gone on too long. She’s fading, she can’t keep this up.”

There is a volley back and forth and Aiko goes to stuff a spike but isn’t successful. The opponents are up 22-19. Aiko has her hands on her knees, panting, sweating. She looks up into the stands, scanning back and forth.

Aiko (to herself): “What happened to Yuka? Something must be wrong.”

Kiko: “We need a timeout!”

Kiko comes up close to Aiko so the others can't hear what she says.

Kiko: “Hey, snap out of it, we’ve made it this far, you need to concentrate.”

Aiko: “I’m fine, just worry about yourself, I need you to direct the others if you can’t move fast enough.”

Kiko: “I know what I’m doing, but she’s not here and you’re just going to have to accept that.”

Aiko: “What are you talking about?”

Kiko: “We’re here because of you, it doesn’t matter how much a better leader you’ve become. Our team is overachieving because of your talent so suck it up and win this thing!”

Aiko looks at her and shows some fire in her eyes and nods her head.

Aiko: “mmmm” (a strong affirmative)

More scenes of points going both ways, the score keeps changing, 22-20, 23-20, 23-21, 23-22, 24-22, 24-23, 24-24, 25-24 (opponents listed first in this sequence. The opponents are still up, have to win by 2, so that's why at 25-24 there still isn't a winner).

Kiko: “Come on girls, if they take this one, it’s all over.”

Big serve from the opponents, Kiko recognizes she can’t get to it:

Kiko: “Okumura!”

Aiko dives over and digs, the setup goes to Masumi, who rotated with Kiko, Nagashima takes it over the net. The other team sets it up. As this is happening, out of the corner of her eye Aiko spies a man in a suit in the stands, she stares:

Aiko (to herself): “Father?”

Just then the ball is returned over to where Aiko is.

Kiko: “AIKO!”

Aiko is distracted and is late snapping herself to attention and misses the dig and the ball shanks off and out of bounds, ending the match at 26-24 in the third set with the opponents having taken 2 of 3 sets and therefore the match. Aiko is beside herself.

Aiko: “I...I...”

She just hangs her head and walks off the court leaving her team stunned while the opponents celebrate.

Kiko (to herself): “Oh, Okumura...”

Hatsue, Eriko, and Yuka are walking down the street. It's quiet and somewhat awkward.

Hatsue (to herself): “Well, this isn’t getting anywhere.”

She takes out her phone and texts Tetsu.

TEXT to Tetsu from Hatsue: “I need a favor.”

Some time passes as they walk towards the center of the city. Suddenly Tetsu’s fancy car pulls up. The window rolls down, Tetsu is driving but Megumi leans out the passenger window.

Megumi: “Hey Hatsue-chan, what are you doing here?”

Hatsue: “Oh, we were just hanging out.”

Megumi: “You’re parents are back in town and they’re having a big dinner out, didn’t you get the call?”

Hatsue: “I’m so sorry, I must have missed it.”

Tetsu: “Well, come on, get in, we’ll be late.”

Hatsue turns to Eriko and Yuka.

Hatsue: “I’m so sorry, but I really have to go.”

Eriko turns to see Yuka. She turns back to Hatsue, and goes stiff.

Eriko: “Oh, of course. Um....thank you for today.”

Hatsue leans in close to Eriko and winks.

Hatsue: “The day isn’t over yet. Don’t waste it.”

Hatsue gets in the car. Megumi says goodbye to the girls.

Megumi: “It was good seeing you again, so sorry to steal Hatsue-chan.”

Eriko: “It’”

Hatsue: “Bye bye, make sure she gets home safe!”

Yuka waves goodbye. The car drives away leaving Eriko and Yuka alone together.

Eriko: “Umm...I guess...I should take you home now.”

Yuka shyly nods 'yes.'

They're sitting next to each other on a train. They aren't talking or really looking at each other, but they're fairly close to each other, the distance from the day before is gone. We get a quick flashback to when Hatsue said that Eriko loves Yuka (from earlier in this chapter). Yuka lets out a big sigh, tilts her head down, and moves her hand onto Eriko’s hand. Eriko blushes fiercely, but encloses Yuka’s hand in hers without ever making eye contact. Yuka, with her eyes now closed, just has the most delicately peaceful and content smile.

Aiko’s house. She comes into the house. A staff is there to greet her.

Staff: “Okumura-sama, how did the tournament go?”

The driver who is with Aiko shoots the staff a look of horror, shock, and 'don’t say any more.' Aiko walks past them to the bar without acknowledging anything, sees the family portrait above the bar, grabs a bottle and heads to her room.

Eriko is in bed, she’s staring at her hand, the one held by Yuka. She slowly drifts off to sleep with a peaceful look on her face. We see the blue orb forming above her, its tendrils starting to entangle her, she arches her back in silent screaming pain as she is lifted from the bed and enveloped by the energy. In a flash she disappears.

(to be continued...)

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