Ritsu x Mio: Drummer's Heartbeat

This story takes place after Episode 13 of season one, but before the Romeo & Juliet episodes in season two.

In this story, Ritsu struggles with her blooming romantic feelings for Mio. Will she be able to confess, or surrender to fear?

Part 1

On a winter day, no matter how cold it is, I’m happy.
As I watch you make white puffs of air as you run,
I notice how good clean-cut hair looks good on you.
But I want to see you with your bangs down, too.

"Eh? Lyrics? You were the one who left them?
You wrote that?! That was you!?"

For most of Ho-gako Tea Time, their winter adventures in junior year were just that, adventures like they always had. Everyone wanted it to last forever. And right now, for Ritsu Tainaka, it was. The scene played over and over again in her mind, as she walked home, now separated from the one who tormented her every though.


How she felt that day was driving her nuts, even now! She kicked a rock down the street and sighed. This didn’t seem like her at all. “Raah...I’m the one who torments Mio...now she’s killing me and doesn’t even know! She’ll never know!”.

A hot huff from Ritsu made itself seen in the winter air. “Doing my hair like that...because I wanted to impress someone who wrote a love letter...what was I thinking?”

And there again flashed that sight of Mio’s eyes, the evening at the restaurant when she turned her head. “Aaagh!” She clutched her head and winced. “Seriously, this is so backwards...Mio is my friend!”

When Ritsu got home, dinner went down fast and she locked herself in her room, hardly saying a word to her brother Satoshi or her parents. Reaching down for the “love letter” under bed, which she had half a mind to destroy that very same night, she read those precious words again.

Ritsu blushed at Mio’s art, before shaking herself free of this ridiculous love spell. “This is some kind of...invasive thought or something. Everyone has those and-- and I was thinking about love because of her and-” Love Mio? No, no, not that love. Was it? “I was thinking about a boyfriend, but it turned out to be her words and I-...-I…”


Yui had sent a text. “Hey, Ricchan! Look what Ui made for dinner!” attached was a photo of some assorted sweets Ui had prepared. Chocolate cake looked particularly nice. “Ah, intrusive thoughts! Yui should be an expert!”

Taptaptap “Yui, have you ever had an intrusive thought? Like you think something that you didn’t want to think about?”

“Eeeeeh...I don’t understand? My thoughts are just thoughts.” “Ahah, never mind then! I was quizzing you on mental health topics. Be sure to leave room for Mugi’s sweets tomorrow!” “Yes!”

At the Hirasawa residence, Yui looked to Ui. “Ui, what’s mental health?”

Ritsu closed her flip phone with a defeated tap. “Yui…”, she sighed before humming. “Oh, Mugi...Mugi, Mugi…” Would Mugi know anything about love? Or whatever this annoying feeling was? Her phone opened again to Mugi’s texts, and her finger hovered over the send key.

“Mugi-san, have you ever had a boyfriend?” The send key was taunting Ritsu. “Nooo…” The delete key was mashed. “Mugi-san, have you ever been in love?” That seemed more polite, right? A sweat drop came over her brow as she imagined Mugi’s answer. “Ah, I’m in love with the beach, and our time together after school.”, this was Mugi-esque of her sweet, wholesome self.

One more try at a message.

“Mugi-san, have you ever had a girlfrien-” Ritsu tossed her phone in the air, letting it do multiple flips before falling off the bedside. “Mugi...has an open mind for sure, but what would she think of a text like that? Out of nowhere?”

Azusa might be next. “Azusa...hm...what emotions are Azusa in tune with?” She could hear Azunyan’s voice as if it were there in her bedroom. “Let’s practice! We should be practicing! Let’s practice our new song!”

“Ehh...Azusa might not be a good fit for my situation.” Ritsu pouted, before sitting up and saluting the air. “The great Ritsu Tainaka, now a lonely soldier on the battlefield of romance…!”, not so lonely though, as bolt flashed through her mind of the one member she didn’t think to text.

Mio. Ritsu began to shiver.
Mio. Ritsu blushed warmer and warmer.
Mio! Ritsu screamed!

“Aaaah! Nooo more! Get out of my head! It’s a psychic assault! Nooo!”

A knock on her door put her yelling to rest. “Ritsu? Big sis?” It was her brother, Satoshi. “I’M FINE!” Ritsu yelled, grabbing the nearest pillow and throwing her face into it. “I’m fine, Satoshi…”, she said, regaining her composure. “Do your homework, or the leader of the Tainaka clan will punish thee.”

Satoshi knew his sister, and how a healthy Ritsu sounded. That was an enthused, and in a weird Ritsu-ian way, polite means of encouragement. “’Kay.” He wandered off. Ritsu tossed the pillow from her face to the edge of the bed, before throwing herself on it face first with a loud ploomf.

It was time to be honest, as she closed her eyes and saw the girl whose black hair danced in the wind. The bassist with the soft voice she had known for so long. Fighting it was making it worse. Through whatever weird circumstances and goofy escapade lead to this, the door to Ritsu Tainaka’s heart was open. And she knew only one Mio Akiyama could walk through it.

Part 2

Mio made a concerned look over Ritsu the next morning, on the walk together that they always had.
“Ritsu...your eyes. Did you not sleep any last night? Is everything okay?”

“Eh?!” Ritsu darted her head away and started walking faster. “No, I didn’t sleep all night because I couldn’t stop thinking about you!” … is what she wanted to say. If she could, she would grab Mio by the shoulders and shake her until the heartache healed.

“Ritsuuu.” Mio sang, as she so often did when scolding her. “It’s important to get a full night’s sleep. We’re going to actually practice today, you know?” Ritsu couldn’t muster the strength to look Mio in the eye. It used to be so easy, too. She could glare, grab, make fun with her all the time. She did that for years, she did it before that stupid love letter! The letter that wasn’t even real!

Ritsu sighed, with her back to Mio. “S-sorry… we’re gonna get through practice with guts! Yui-chan will help me wake up, for sure!” Pumping her fist in the air, Mio couldn’t help but notice it looked a little limper than it normally would.

Mio caught up with a short dash, peeking around her shoulder. “Ritsu, are you really okay? Is everything alright at home?” Mio’s beautiful face filled Ritsu with a bad case of the butterflies. “No, not now!” She cried internally. “I’m not ready yet, I’m not ready yet!”

“Y-y—y—yyyyh.” It wasn’t like her to be so speechless, and Mio’s stare wasn’t helping the words come out. “I’m fine! I’m okay! I promise.” Mio wanted to believe her dear friend, but the blushing red face told a different story to her. Lightly blushing herself now, Mio returned to walking side by side with Ritsu. “I see.” simple and succinct. Mio had an intuition of what was good for everyone, and right now letting this go would do just fine.

Lost in thought, Ritsu looked up at the sky the rest of the way. “I want to tell her...what if she didn’t believe me? I’m never serious with her, and now it’s really eating me inside. I’m always antagonizing her, scaring her, sneaking up on her because I like her! How’s Mio supposed to believe that I’M IN LOVE WITH H-!?”

“Ack!” Ritsu was snapped out her trance with a palm to the forehead. “Ricchan, ohayo!” it was unmistakably Yui, who else? “Oo-ohayo! Yui!”

Yui giggled and made an innocent enough comment, looking over Mio and Ritsu both. “I wish I could walk with someone...you and Mio always keep each other company first thing in the morning.” Ritsu swore that steam was coming out of her cheeks. “Ahaha…ah, Yui, Ho-kago Tea Time is always with you in spirit, even when we are worlds apart!”

“That’s right! I feel a strong sense that we’re together.” Mio chimed in, causing Ritsu’s eyes to go wide and spacey for a second time. The inner romantic, affectionate Ritsu she was at war with was fixated on the wording. “We’re together. We’re together. We’re together!”

“Daah! That’s how it’s always been! Of course we are! It’s how it always should b-” Her mind screamed, while on the outside she had simply paused in place.

“Hi everyone!” Mugi snuck in from behind. “MUGI!” Yui grabbed Mugi and began their cuddle routine, something Ritsu had a new eye for. Yes, Mugi was running her hand through Yui’s soft hair, like she often would. Thinking about it now, none of the band was a stranger to warm hugs, nuzzles, or affection in general! Well, it was different with Azusa, but still. Things had been that way between the group for a while, so why now? Why now did it seem so, so...appealing?

Mugi looked over from petting their lead guitarist to see Ritsu wearing a dreamy face, eyes closed and a tiny smile. “Does Ritsu want a hug?”

Ritsu opened her eyes again and stammered. “Ahh..ohh...team hug! By popular demand! Gather all!” Mugi was the first to wrap up Ritsu. After that came Yui, who simply tackled Mugi from behind. Mio waited last, sidestepping in between Ricchan and Mugi and just sort of crouching down in the cuddle puddle.

“Nooo! Waah! Mio! Don’t punish me for my arrogance!” She thought, only tapping shoulders with Mio but forced to continue their impromptu team-building exercise. “Three, two, one, GO!” Everyone giggled and jumped away from each other.

THUNK! Yui hit her head on the wooden beam behind her. “Aaaachaaa!” She said with her favorite comedic flair, before crumpling to the ground!

“Ah!” The girls cried out. By chance, Mio was the first to the ground and start lifting Yui by her head. “Are you alright? Can you hear me? Do you know what year it is? And what city we live in?” Yui didn’t answer, only placing the back of her hand limply over her forehead.

Ritsu instantly knew she was doing another one of her play routines.

“I need...the kiss...of my true love...to revive me!”

In a flash, less than an instant, Ritsu had picked Yui back up and started squeezing her head. “Uwaaah, uwaah, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Yui pleaded with her captor. “Pretending to die isn’t funny, Yui-chan…” It really wasn’t that which bothered her, of course.

Mugi giggled.

Part 3

Recalling the things I did today
Always makes my chest tighten
I ran out of staples, need to buy some more
Lala~ see you tomorrow

As Mio sang, Ritsu couldn’t even hear her own drums any more. Mio’s verse was a choir of angels delivering her heart’s salvation. Staying on rhythm wasn’t usually an issue, but right now in the presence of the most beautiful girl in the world, it may has well be the Budokan without rehearsal.

“Ritsu, Ritsuuuu. Ricchan!” Yui chirped as the tss tss tss of the cymbals rang on. “Eh?” Ritsu whispered, taking off her dreamy face. Mio whipped around with a pout, “It’s not funny to mess up only during my sections! Are you pranking me?” What? When!? And Mio’s upset? She had every right to think it was some kind of practical joke, with how things normally go.

“Ritsu-senpai, let’s be serious.” Azusa added. Ritsu looked around in a bit of a panic. How long had everyone been staring at her? Mugi was wearing a smile at least, but that was her default expression.

Ritsu swallowed her anxious heart. “I...I am… I wasn’t…” She dropped her drumsticks on the ground and held her stomach. “I, I just need to use the toilet. I’m sorry.” Bolting out the door as quick as she could, the loud click of the door closing was the only sound for a few minutes.

Yui held her hand under her chin. “What’s wrong with Ricchan?” Azusa looked a bit dejected. This was unlike her. “She must be really sick...and senpai tried to tough it out for us!” Mugi smiled. “Maybe she’s lovesick? She hasn’t been coughing or sneezing.” Mio shook her head, her bangs covering her eyes. “Could you all...wait here, please?” Mio lowered her bass and without saying a thing more, pursued her dearest friend.

When she caught up to her out in the hall, Ritsu was laying her head against the wall, facing it and clenching her fist. Mio couldn’t hear, but she was whispering something. She stepped towards her, slowly, politely not wanting to cause any further trouble. Even so, it was time to find out what was really bothering poor Ritsu.

“Stupid...stupid...stupid…” Mio had never heard her sound this serious before, so angry. What on earth could cause this?

“Ritsu…?” Mio tilted her head to try and look at Ritsu’s face. A thing thread of tears sparkled even in the shadow. This was something serious. Something severe. Maybe Ritsu was being bullied, or someone important to her was missing. It could be anything, she mentally prepared herself to hear horrible news.

No answer came right away, other than a sniffle. This was unacceptable, seeing her friend like this made Mio sink deeper into worry. “Ritsu, can we talk? I’m not really mad at you...I’m sorry. I overacted for practice. Are you okay?” this too, was met with sniffles at first, and another smacking of the wall with her fist.
“I can’t...I can’t…” she muttered.
“You can’t what?” Mio whispered, as she wrapped her hand around Ritsu’s fist, which had started to turn red. “I can’t...I can’t…!”
With full tears and a dripping nose, Ritsu looked up with her shiny eyes and let out her true feelings.


Mio was breathless. Ritsu slammed her head into her, her voice running hotter and faster. “Ever since you sent me that...love letter…no, I know-” she thought of stopping, buying herself deeper in Mio’s chest. Mio held her gently enough to give her the strength to continue, silently and sweetly listening as she always did.

“-I know it was just lyrics..but I...my chest was on fire, it hurts, and I couldn’t stop thinking about you, everything about you, and I couldn’t sleep all night, and I-I-I-I” Mio hugged her tighter.

“I wrote those for you.”

Ritsu seemed to clear up right away, looking up from Mio’s now wet uniform. “Eh?” was all she could muster. Mio wanted only to soothe her, so seeing her face again brought a smile, a big one, seeing Ritsu was like seeing sunshine for her. “Mhmm...did I leave those lyrics in Yui’s box? Mugi or Azusa’s? I left them for you...hand delivered so that you would see it before anyone else. I wrote them for you.”

The lovesick drummer shook her head. “But you’re always writing about love, and all those romantic fantasies…” Mio nodded. “I write them all for you…Ritsu Tainaka. I think only of you when I write our songs.” Mio squeezed and held tighter, her chest was on fire as well. It felt so good to let this out, finally, that she too uncapped the bottle of confessions.

“When we were all apart...when I was alone on the beach in winter. And alone on the train. Without you. I couldn’t write anything. I couldn’t get a single word out. Because I need you. It seems like I always have, huh?”

Ritsu started to wipe the tears and mess off her face with her sleeve, accidentally sending her headband falling to the ground. Mio gasped, as Ritsu’s bangs fell down over her head. She looked amazing. Ritsu is so cool. So attractive, a tomboy with charisma overflowing out of every smile, every movement. In many ways, her own opposite, yin and yang, it seemed so clear now.

“Ritsu…” She held her breath, waiting for Ritsu to speak. She hadn’t realized that her speech went on that long. Ritsu was only marginally aware of her surroundings, lovestruck in every way. Locked on Mio’s eyes, the real Ritsu everyone knew so well was glowing, shining.

“I love you too! Mio Akiyama!” She grabbed her hard, to which Mio gave a cute little “Ack!” “Let’s not leave each other! Let’s not leave each other’s sides ever again! Even thinking about it makes me sick! Not after we graduate, not after college, not after jobs…!” She proposed, while choking the life out of Mio’s waist.

“Ritsu, you-you’re squeezing me too tiiiight!” “I don’t care! I’m not letting you go!”

“I don’t care?” Mio thought, trying to wriggle out of Ritsu’s grip, which proved to be very impossible. But that was the girl she loved. That was very much the Ritsu Tainaka way.

Ritsu loosened up eventually, her gusto, her voice, everything was back. “Can we be girlfriends!?” That was a thousand times better, more simple, than all the heartache. Mio picked up both of her beloved’s hands. “Yes.” “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!~” came a cheering chorus of adoration, as if an audience had come to see a romantic film.

Yui, Mugi, and Azusa were peeking, just down the hall.

Mio and Ritsu froze.


The girls were gathered around for tea and sweets. “It’s harder to eat sweets and drink Mugi-’s tea with one hand…” Ritsu noted as her left hand was intertwined tightly with her girlfriend’s. Mio grew a sweat drop. “Uhm, Ritsu, we will need both of our hands eventually...we are in a band after all.”

Ritsu put her head up. “Nope. Not letting you go. We’re gonna be the first hold-hands band in history!!”

Yui was awestruck, stars in her eyes. “I can’t believe you two are together! It seems like it was always gonna be that way, now that I look at it…” Mugi, supportive as always, agreed. “Yes, it seems like a match made in heaven, as they say!” Mugi handed out another round of cake. “And Ritsu, goodness, you look so good with your hair down!”

Mio blushed bad while Ritsu smirked. Azusa seemed a bit overwhelmed herself, but in a good way. After all, nobody was dating this morning, and now this! “Two girls dating each other...you’re both girlfriends, right?”

The two nodded. “Yup!” Mio laughed. “Although, you know, the way Ritsu acts, it’s kind of like she’s my boyfriend!”
Ritsu stood up. “Hey, that’s not what we agreed to -!? Ah?” Mio’s hands were free, as she picked up a plate in one hand and fork in the other. “Thank you, Girlfriend~”

Everyone giggled, except for the drummer, who was holding out her hand expectantly. “Hey. Give me. Now.” instead of a hand, Ritsu found her headband back in her palm. Mio felt no shame in sharing with the group, “You don’t have to change your hair for me, you know. You look beautiful every day.”

Ritsu, silenced and blushing red, fixed her bangs back up, staring out into space. Played fpr a gag by a wily, confident Mio. It seemed weird to have the tables turned on her, but as she sat down, that queer feeling turned to comfort. The stomach churning, heart crossing madness, the toxic anxiety, had all left her body. In its place, was a warm heart that beats steady for her girlfriend, Mio Akiyama. An imagination racing with what their future could be, as band members and as life partners.

Azusa raised her hand.

"Is it unromantic...if we practice today?"

The other three girls stared at the new couple, who looked at each other first, and nodded.

"Let's go!!"