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Chapter 74
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Volume 10
Relationship milestones Tsubaki gets a New Year's premonition about Urabe, but it takes a while for him to understand what is different about her since New Year's day.
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MYSTERIOUS NEW YEAR'S CARD

CHAPTER 74 OF THE MANGA

( Anime Cross-reference---None )

Summary

On New Year's Day, Tsubaki receives a New Year's card from Urabe. But this card is different; it has a pink-striped snake drawn on the front. Tsubaki only guesses that Urabe did that because the new year is the year of the snake. Then on his first drool taste of the year, he gets a strange image of pink-stripes. Over the next few days, Tsubaki continues to have bizarre dreams at night of pink-stripes.

Finally, one day Tsubaki thinks that he sees a pink-striped snake encircling Urabe, and hugs her to prevent the snake's constriction. This triggers a 'panty scissors' attack. But when Urabe lifts her winter school uniform dress hemline to access her scissors, Tsubaki sees the genesis of the pink-stripes ! Urabe has begun to wear pink-striped panties, instead of the usual white panties that she has worn all along !

Plot

Bright and early on New Year's Day, Youko Tsubaki is up and busy with many details. She is dressed in a formal kimono, and preparing for the day's activities. Things are now set, so she calls for her dad and brother to join her. They do, but barely awake, and still dressed in their PJ's. Upon seeing them, she lambasts the both of them, telling them to get cleaned up and ready for the New Year's family ceremonies. This they do.

With all kneeling by the family shrine, kept in honor of the deceased mother; best wishes are offered all around. Then the First Meal of the new year is eaten. A postman is heard at the front door, Akria goes to investigate. He retrieves a stack of new year's post cards, including one from Mikoto Urabe. It has a pink-striped cartoon snake on the front, probably because this is the Year of the Snake.

The next day Tsubaki and Urabe are walking home from school. They both got each other's New Year's card on New Year's Day, and both wish each other a happy new year. For the daily drool routine, the first one of the new year, Urabe offers her drool. However, a bright, bold image is transmitted to Tsubaki, an image of a pink-striped cloth or flag. The same striped pattern that was on her new year's card. This puzzles him greatly.

Next day at school, Urabe and Oka share lunch together, as they always do now. Oka relates that she was just plain lazy during the winter holiday break. But now she may decide to change her image, maybe by wearing contacts, or letting her hair grow out. Would her boyfriend, Ueno, have any thing to say about that ? Oka asks Urabe if she is going to change her image ? Urabe baits Oka by telling her that she has something in mind to change, but yanks it back with a " Not telling ! ". Oka tries for a drool taste, but Urabe is 'fast on the draw', and stops her. Even with a diversion of having Urabe look at a passing cat, Oka is still blocked !

That night, Tsubaki is having a fitful sleep. He keeps having a repeating unpleasant dream of the pink-striped cartoon snake, the one on the front of Urabe's new year's card. He keeps waking up in a cold sweat.

Several days later, walking together with Urabe on the way home from school, all Tsubaki can think about is the unnerving dream of the pink-striped snake. However, he says nothing to Urabe. At their drool taste routine, another image is transmitted to him. This one is such that he perceives that an aura is surrounding Urabe, and that aura is facilitated by the pink-striped snake just above her. As the unseen ( to Urabe ) snake begins to coil itself around Urabe's body, Tsubaki steps up and grabs Urabe from behind, to prevent the snake's constriction. But Urabe knows nothing, and with Tsubaki's arms around her shoulders, she scoots out of the hold, and prepares for his punishment---the panty scissors attack ! Urabe assumes the stance, and lifting the hem of her dress, fully reveals her panties, wherein the scissors are always held. Tsubaki can only yelp and cover his head with his arms. He sees what is happening, points his finger, and shrieks out his only reaction to his immanent retribution--

" PINK-STRIPED PANTIES !!!!!!! So that is why I keep seeing that pink-striped snake ! "

This catches Urabe completely off guard, and she freezes in motion. She then instinctively pulls the hemline of her dress downward with her hands, thereby covering her panties and bare thighs ! Tsubaki explains---Ever since after New Year's day, your drool tastes have transmitted images of a pink-striped cartoon snake. And I have been having nightmares about that snake nearly every night since then. He asks Urabe if she has been wearing pink-striped panties since New Year's day ( what a question to ask one's girlfriend ! ) ? Urabe counters with the thought that at the end of December, she had went shopping for new clothes, She had seen the pink-striped panties, though that they were exceedingly cute, and bought several at that time. Completely unabashed and 'cool as a cucumber', Tsubaki states that he knows that Urabe only wears white panties, but now her taste in panties is different now ! And that fashion trend has manifested itself in the images of the pink-striped snake ! And that matches the fact that your New Year's card had a pink-striped snake on the front cover !

Urabe pauses to contemplate, and thinking back, verifies that she, indeed, did draw that pink-striped snake on the card. Tsubaki speculates that maybe that drawing was a unconscious motion and effort, because she wanted him to eventually see her new panties on her, and remark to her how cute the new panties were ! Urabe says that even if that were the case, and here she resumes the panty scissors attack, she would never admit to deliberately wanting Tsubaki to see her new panties ! However, Tsubaki faints before Urabe can even step forward with scissors in hand. She then reholsters her scissors, and leaves Tsubaki to his dreams, that of, once again, dreams of a pink-striped snake !

Next day, the two lovers admire each other's striped scarves, and everything is back to normal.

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