“…and then Sana tripped over and pushed the waiter over, tipping his tray! It was soo funny!!”
“F-Fumiko… that was because of you…” Sana said.
“We ended up paying for everything and had to help clean up the mess, while Aya kept apologising to the restaurant manager.”
Fumiko was giggling in her booth seat, and Sana was sighing next to her side.
Hikaru was laughing weakly, listening to Fumiko’s story. Next to her, Aya was chuckling, playing with the strawberry milkshake in front of her using a straw that was protruding out of the cream.
There were similar milkshakes sitting at the front of the others, Aya had helped order Hikaru the same thing for her.
Hikaru was feeling nervous by how close Aya was sitting next to her.
She glanced to her side at Aya’s legs, their thighs were almost touching.
“They didn’t know who Aya was at the time so the restaurant manager refused to listen to Aya’s apologies.”
Fumiko continued her story enthusiastically.
“When they found out after her limousine arrived, you should had seen the look on the manager’s face!” Fumiko laughed.
“I can imagine…” Hikaru said politely, smiling, but she didn’t really understand.
“Anyways, enough with that.” Aya said, glancing over at Hikaru and seeing that she didn’t seem to understand. “Let’s talk about something else,”
“Hmm…” Fumiko leaned back on her chair, thinking for a moment. “Oh! You were saying you were going to come karaoke with me, right, Aya?” She turned to Sana. “And you too, Sana!”
“And Hikaru.” Aya added.
“Ehh?” Hikaru glanced at Aya. “I-I don’t know how to sing, I’ve never been to karaoke…”
“I don’t sing too…” Sana said, flashing a weak smile at Hikaru. “We can just sit together…”
“Great!” Fumiko said. “There’s a karaoke party coming up tomorrow after school! We’ll go together! All four of us!”
“Who else is going to be there?” Aya asked.
“Some girls and guys from our school, and some from other schools. My boyfriend will be there too!” Fumiko said. “You can all meet him!”
“Your boyfriend…” Sana said.
“Ah, that’s right…” Aya said, remembering that Fumiko had a boyfriend. “You didn’t really tell us much about him. I guess… it would be sort of interesting to see who you chose, Fumiko…”
“You have a boyfriend?!” Hikaru glanced at Fumiko, surprised. Back at her hometown, it was rare that people would have one around her age. “D-does your parent let you…?”
Fumiko turned her eyes to Hikaru. “Uh… Why would I tell them, Hikaru…?”
“…Oh…” Hikaru mouthed.
Fumiko gave Hikaru a strange look, then turned back to Aya. “Yes, he’s going to be there too! His name is Daiki. I told you last time he’s from Kokusai High.”
“Ugh…” Aya accidentally let out a sour face, and quickly hid it. She remembered thinking how low Fumiko had settled, to choose someone outside of Hibiya High.
“I know it’s not as good as Hibiya High,” Fumiko laughed, seeing Aya’s reaction thinking it was just a joke, “But Kokusai High is still a really great school! It’s just right behind Hibiya High!”
Sana nodded at the side. “Yes… It’s still extremely competitive to get into Kokusai High…”
“What type of guy is he?” Aya asked, curious. “Daiki…?”
“The really cool type!” Fumiko said excitedly. “His family is in the pachinko manufacturing business! He also rides a motorbike!”
A motorbike? Who rides a motorbike… Aya was thinking in her mind. A limousine is so much more convenient…
Fumiko turned to Hikaru. “I’m guessing you don’t have anyone, right, Hikaru?”
“T-that’s correct…” Hikaru laughed weakly.
Fumiko sighed, closing her eyes for a second. “I shouldn’t had even asked you that question.” She glanced back at Hikaru. “So? What type of guys do you like?”
“W-what type of guy…?” Hikaru repeated.
Aya perked up in her seat, listening closely.
“Um…” Hikaru glanced to her side at Aya, then back at Fumiko. “I don’t really know… I don’t talk to much guys…”
“Come on, you gotta have a certain personality type that you like?” Fumiko said. “Funny? Smart? Loud? Quiet? Sporty?”
Hikaru felt pressured, having the eyes of both Fumiko and Aya peering deeply into her. Sana was sipping her milkshake nonchalantly.
“Um…” Hikaru tried to think about it. “I guess… I would like someone kind…?”
“Kind?” Fumiko said. “I guess that’s important…”
Kind… Aya nodded to herself. Yep, that sounds like me…
“Kind to everyone… not just me… With a good, sincere heart…” Hikaru continued. “Um… someone that isn’t conceited, I guess…?”
“Uh-huh…” Fumiko said. “Those… are some interesting qualities to want…”
Am I kind to everyone? Aya thought. I mean, I do try to be polite on the outside, but… No, I think I’m kind to everyone. I also have a good, sincere heart… I think. I haven’t really done anything wrong to Hikaru, have I…? Um… Anyways! Am I conceited…?
Aya was pondering Hikaru’s words on her own, staring emptily at something in the distance inside the milkbar.
“I don’t really know…” Hikaru laughed shyly. “I’m not really interested in guys at the moment, anyways…”
“Okay…” Fumiko said. “Well, I respect that you at least have an opinion.”
“Eh?” Hikaru was surprised by Fumiko’s nicer than usual tone. “Um, thank you, Fumiko…”
Fumiko turned back to Aya.
“Anyways, Aya, what do you think about… Aya? You listening…? Aya?”
After managing to send Fumiko and Sana home under the pretence that Hikaru needed one-on-one tutoring lessons and that more people would disrupt her learning, Aya arrived at Hikaru’s apartment alone, her heart pounding quickly inside her chest.
Ack! Finally! I managed to get rid of those two… Now it’s just me and Hikaru…
Aya stood next to the side of Hikaru, watching as Hikaru pressed the doorbell of her apartment, then waited.
After a few seconds, the door opened and Hikaru’s mother, Haruka, stood at the doorway.
“Ara? You’re here again, Aya-chan!” Haruka’s face turned into smiles, seeing the girl that she thought would be a great influence for her daughter. “How are you??”
“Mum… don’t be embarrassing again…” Hikaru sighed. “Aya’s just here to help me with the schoolwork…”
“I’m great, thank you, okaa-san!” Aya bowed to Haruka with a pleasant smile. “Thank you for having me over again!”
“Don’t be so polite,” Haruka laughed, stepping to the side to let the two of them in, “please, just make yourself at home, Aya-chan!”
Nodding, but feeling joyful at her self-perceived progress with Hikaru’s mother, Aya walked behind Hikaru as they entered the apartment.
“It’s so lovely to have you over again.” Haruka said, closing the door once they entered. “Hikaru doesn’t usually bring friends over… in fact, I don’t think—”
“Mum!!” Hikaru said with a red face. “That’s enough now! We’re just going to be in my room to study.”
Haruka laughed, walking over to the kitchen to finish up with her cleaning that she was doing before. “Okay. Have fun, Aya-chan! Let me know if you need anything!”
Aya smiled back at Haruka, before following Hikaru into her bedroom.
“You have such a nice mother, Hikaru…” Aya laughed.
“Th-thank you… she’s just… a bit embarrassing at times…” Hikaru replied, closing the door to the bedroom as Aya stepped inside. “She always tells people too much… A-anyways, let’s study!”
“Alright!” Aya said enthusiastically, smiling.
Aya placed her bag down at the side of the room, then sat down on Hikaru’s bed.
Gah… the bed is so small… I wonder if it can fit two people… Aya thought, then paused. C-crap... when did I become so lewd…? I’m not even supposed to like girls… Didn’t I say I had to sort my feelings out first…?
Hikaru dropped her bag next to the computer table, then took out some books from the bag, placing them on the desk. She opened up one of the textbook, flipping the pages.
“So, Aya, I didn’t understand these parts…”
Hikaru stopped at the page she was talking about, showing it to Aya.
The room was small enough that the computer table and bed was almost right next to each other. Aya could see what Hikaru was talking about from her position on the bed. There wasn’t really anywhere else she could sit.
Aya gave the textbook a bored glance, then turned her eyes to Hikaru as she kept talking about the problem that she didn’t understand.
Hikaru’s eyes were staring at the textbook, her dark eyelashes fluttering and her lips looking irresistible to Aya. Her cute face was pursed in concentration, her eyebrows furrowing slightly.
Ack! Aya turned her eyes back to the textbook, feeling her heartbeat growing faster and her face heating up. I-I need to help Hikaru first… she likes a kind person… with a good, sincere heart… I have to show her that I can be that…
“So that problem…” Aya said, then began explaining the solution.
An hour and a half had passed and Hikaru had achieved a much more significant understanding of her schoolwork with Aya’s help.
“…Oh! I see, so that’s how…”
Hikaru nodded shortly, scribbling in her notebook. She was sitting cross-legged with Aya on the bed, various school books laid strewn on top of the bed.
“Yes, you have to just remember the method I taught you, then it should be fine.” Aya smiled at Hikaru, staring at her as Hikaru continued jotting stuff down in her notebook. Despite how disinterested Aya was with the schoolwork, she was having fun being with Hikaru.
“Thanks, Aya…” Hikaru sighed, placing her pen and book down on her lap, then she glanced up at Aya. “I’m so lucky to have you teaching me... you’re so smart…”
Aya laughed, her cheeks going pink. “No, no… I just follow a really strict schedule for these sort of things…”
“Anyways, thanks so much, Aya. I think that’s all I needed help with for today,” Hikaru smiled, tilting her head, “You stayed with me for so long. I really appreciate it, Aya!”
“I-it’s not a problem, Hikaru…” Aya said, smiling back. She's soo cute...! Ah, I'm so happy!
There was still something on Hikaru's mind though. She still had doubts about whether Aya liked her romantically or not.
She said no last time I asked her but... the things she does just doesn't seem to point that way... How do I find out the truth...?
But do I even really want to know...? I don't want to ruin things between me and Aya! She's my best friend! Maybe it'll be better if I just keep things the way they are until she's ready to tell me herself...
Hikaru was thinking about her thoughts, when she noticed that Aya had gotten out of the bed and was looking inside her closet that was now open.
"Ek! Aya!" Hikaru said. "What are you doing?"
"Oh, I thought we could have some fun since we studied so long!" Aya turned her head at Hikaru with a laugh. "I don't want to go home so fast."
Ahh... I guess I should just spend some time with Aya... she did help me with my schoolwork for so long after all... but still...
"What are you doing in the closet?" Hikaru asked in a confused tone, then glanced past her to see the head of a bear doll she stuffed inside sticking out, sitting on top of some folded clothes. "It's embarrassing!" Hikaru closed her eyes, blushing, for a second.
"Ah, I'm sorry..." Aya said, realising what she had done. She turned away from the closet, feeling guilty. "I should had asked you first..."
"I-it's okay, Aya..." Hikaru said.
I don't really mind if it's Aya looking inside my closet since she's my best friend... I was just a bit surprised...
"Don't feel bad, Aya!" Hikaru waved her hands in front of her. "I just meant it's embarassing, as in that I thought you wouldn't like some of the stuff you find... I got so many dolls and childish things in there..."
"What! I would never judge you, Hikaru!" Aya said. "I-I have a lot of childish things too!"
"Yes!" Aya said, but she didn't want to elaborate further. She didn't really have any of the stuff that Hikaru had, but she wanted Hikaru to feel better. "Anyways, let's play dress-up!"
"D-dress-up?" Hikaru repeated.
"Yes!" Aya laughed. "We can dress each other in cute clothes!"
"Um..." Hikaru started thinking about it, but Aya had already turned back to the closet, searching for a cute outfit.
Gah! Hikaru doesn't really have much clothes, and most of it all seem so cheap... I can't really—
Aya stopped when she found something that appealed to her eyes.
"What about this?" Aya grabbed the outfit out of the closet, spinning around to show Hikaru. "This outfit you have is so cute!!"
Hikaru glanced at the outfit that Aya was talking about.
It was a sailor uniform she had from when she was a kid. Hikaru had no idea what it was still doing there.
"Um... I don't think it will fit..." Hikaru said, making up an excuse.
The reality was that it was going to fit, albeit tighter, since Hikaru hadn't grown much.
"It's such a cute outfit though!" Aya protested. "Come on, just try it on! I-I'll let you pick something for me to wear too! No matter how embarrassing it is!"
Does Aya just want to see me naked again? It sounds sort of fun, playing dress-up, but I'm not sure if that's all that Aya wants to do... Ah... I really want to know if she actually likes me that way, but I don't want to ruin us! I also haven't really thought about my own feelings...
"Okay..." Hikaru nodded timidly, and Aya squealed with excitement. Hikaru was happy, seeing that Aya was happy.
I guess I can just do as she says since she helped me so much... Hikaru thought.
"Okay, you pick me an outfit!" Aya said.
Hikaru got up from the bed, going over to the closet.
After a while of searching, she pulled out a pair of jeans and a white shirt. It was the largest sized clothes she had.
S-so plain... Aya thought, staring at the outfit. But Hikaru picked it for me!
Smiling, Aya took the jeans and shirt from Hikaru's hands, exchanging it for the sailor uniform.
"Okay, let's change!" Aya said, blushing.
"Okay..." Hikaru said, then started heading out the door.
Aya grabbed her by the shoulder, stopping her. "H-Hikaru, where are you going?!"
"Um, I was going to go change in the bathroom." Hikaru said confused, turning back.
"We're supposed to change together!" Aya said. "That's the fun of playing dress-up!"
"T-together?" Hikaru said nervously. "I-In here...?"
"Uh-huh..." Aya nodded.
"C-can't I change in the bathroom...?"
"No!—I mean..." Aya coughed, remembering that Hikaru had said that she wanted a kind and goodhearted partner that was sincere. "You can change where you want, Hikaru." Aya smiled. "I just thought it would be fun to change together."
"Honestly, just do what you are comfortable with." Aya said. "I don't want to force you to do something you don't want to do."
Hikaru nodded quietly, her face red.
"Listen, Hikaru..." Aya tried to speak in a more serious tone, staring at her eyes. "I-If you ever don't feel comfortable with something... just let me know... and I'll stop it, right away. I promise."
"Okay, Aya..." Hikaru said. "I trust you..."
Aya breathed out a laugh, hearing Hikaru's words. "Okay then. You can choose where to change!"
Hikaru hesitated, glancing at the door.
Should I change with Aya...?
Glancing back at Aya, Hikaru smiled weakly. "I'll change here, Aya. With you."
A wave of joy rushed over Aya's mind, and she resisted the urge to jump up. "Great!" Aya said. "Let's get changing then!"
Aya started taking her clothes off, and Hikaru turned the other way, feeling embarrassed. She stared down at the ground, thinking to herself with a nervous heart.
She has to like me, right? Why else would she want to change together?
But, I want to know for certain! Whether Aya really likes me or not in that way! I just want to know her true feelings so I know how I should act around her!
But, how do I find out the truth...
Then, a plan came to Hikaru's head.
Okay with this, maybe...
Hikaru started loosening the tie on her school uniform, letting it fall down to the ground, then she started unbuttoning her shirt, taking off the rest of her clothing. She took off her skirt, feeling her heart beating rapidly.
When Hikaru had stripped off all her clothes and was only standing in underwear, Hikaru reached behind herself with a red face, undoing her bra.
I-If Aya really likes me... then she would jump on me if I do this...!
Taking off her bra, she dropped it down on the ground.
She took a deep breath, then turned around.