The awkward silence filled the room, sometimes broken when someone scratched down a note on their notebook or coughed to clear their throat. Tsukiko tried to ignore it and focus on the book she was supposed to be reading, but she couldn’t keep herself from glancing around the table.
How can so many people gather and be this quiet? I know we’re studying, but still… She forced her eyes back to the book again, but she hadn’t finished reading the first line when she peeked at the boy on her right.
Taiyou-kun did what she was supposed to be doing; reading. He never noticed the girl looking at him as he moved on to the next page. Despite his calm expression, there was something in his eyes bothering Tsukiko.
Is he mad? He must be… Even the girl couldn’t tell by the boy’s face. He’s mad, she decided, pressing her lips. I mean, who wouldn’t be after that… Wait, it’s not my fault, right? I thought it was a good idea… Argh, damn it! How did things turn this way?
Tsukiko eyed the boy on her left. Though Kobayashi-kun seemed to read the book, he looked just as bored as he did during school. The girl knew the boy was a few moments from dozing off. Are you feeling guilty for the way you treated Taiyou-kun, Kobayashi-kun? Are you ready to apologize? Tsukiko wanted to say, wanted to vent out her anger… but she quelled down her feelings. This would probably bother Taiyou-kun even more, she knew. The last thing she wanted was to make the boy even unhappier.
With a heavy sigh, Tsukiko forced her eyes back to the book, though no matter how long the stared at the page, she never moved past the first sentence.
“Thanks for this, Aozora,” Kobayashi-kun said after a while. In few seconds, he closed his book and gathered all his material, ready to leave. “It helped a lot, but we gotta go.”
“Yeah, we go practice,” Kenichi-kun added with a heavy voice.
“Even with midterms coming up?” Tsukiko blurted out.
Kenichi-kun scratched his cheek and showed an awkward smile. “Yeah, actually—”
“The coach doesn’t know,” Kobayashi-kun interrupted his friend. Tsukiko had hung out with the boy long enough to know he felt pride for that. “I’m the one who set up this. Even if we have tests coming, the matches are more important. I mean, there’re a lot of expectations if we make it to nationals or not.”
You mean expectations on you? Tsukiko held her initial words. Lashing out at him like this won’t help at all. Instead, she tried to treat him as normal as she could. “Is that so? Then good practice.”
“Thanks. I’ll promise my next goal will be for you.” Kobayashi-kun flashed his smile before heading towards the front door of Tsukiko’s apartment.
“Yeah, thanks for everything, Aozora. Believe it or not, this will help our stupid captain improve his grades to the bare minimum,” Kenichi-kun said, standing up and gathering his materials.
“Hey, I heard that!” came Kobayashi-kun’ voice from the entrance and Tsukiko, Yui and Rika-chan laughed. All but Taiyou-kun, who remained in silence while staring the book. Tsukiko noticed his eyes weren’t moving.
“And sorry for our captain, Fuyuzora,” Kenichi-kun added in a low voice to keep Kobayashi-kun from hearing. “I know he seems like an idiot, and to be honest, he is, but he’s not a bad person. Hope you can help us again in the future.”
Tsukiko didn’t notice, but she held her breath as she waited for Taiyou-kun’ reaction. She looked between her classmate and her friend, the seconds going by slowly. The boy turned his head Kenichi-kun and made a small reverence without a word. The vice-captain showed an apologetic smile and then went after Kobayashi-kun.
“I think I’ll go too. Lately, mom’s been bugging me about staying out until dinner time,” Rika-chan said a few moments after the boys left. “I don’t think she believes me when I say I’m studying with friends.”
The girl smile and Tsukiko chuckled, though it was plain to everyone her friend just wanted to get out of there. I can’t blame her.
“Imagine if you had my grades,” Tsukiko joked, trying to light up the mood.
“If she had your grades, her mom would be crying from morning to dusk asking where she got wrong,” Yui said in an indifferent tone.
Rika-chan laughed and looked away when Tsukiko turned to her. The girl got red and was about to reply Yui when she saw Taiyou-kun trembling and using the book to cover his smile. The sight of the boy laughing made the girl sigh in relief and let her friend’s joke slide. For now, she thought.
“I’ll go with you, Rika.” Yui gathered her books and rubbed her head. “I can’t study anymore. I reached my daily quota a long, long time ago.”
“Thanks for everything, Taiyou-kun,” Rika-chan said with a gentle smile. “Hope you can help us again.”
“Yeah, thanks. Taiyou. When Tsukiko suggested this, I never thought it would be this helpful.”
“I told you, didn’t I? You should be thanking me too.” Tsukiko had a note of pride in her voice.
Yui stared her friend for a long time without a word. “Yeah, thanks again, Taiyou,” she said, tilting to the side to look past Tsukiko.
“Hey, don’t ignore me!” The girl tilted to block Yui’s sight and overreacted to lighten up the mood some more.
After they stopped laughing and said goodbye, the girls went to the entrance. When Yui was about to close the door, she eyed Taiyou-kun with her eyebrows raised and raised her chin a few times. I know, I know, Tsukiko said with a nod.
The moment they left, Tsukiko stared the door, taking deep breaths. She walked to the table without looking at Taiyou-kun. When she was next to him, she bowed her head and clasped her hands together. “I’m sorry, Taiyou-kun!”
“You didn’t do anything to apologize…”
She only raised her head when she heard him sigh, close the book and turn to her. Tsukiko bit her lips when she saw his face. Though it was his usual expression, the lack of anger in his face made her feel guilty.
“I know but still… You came here to help us and Kobayashi-kun treated you like that,” her voice trailed off as she remembered. “If I knew he was going to behave like that, I’d never invited him.” Actually, I never meant to invite him, she recalled, trying with no success relieve her guilt somewhat. He invited himself…
One day during the classes, Tsukiko was caught by surprise when the teacher reminded they had midterms coming up soon. She was even more surprised when pretty much everyone said yes. The only reason the girl didn’t panic was because her friends told her they hadn’t studied. But when Yui and Rika-chan added that much, she became worried.
“Let me guess,” Yui said with a smile. “You completely forgot about the exams helping the clubs and hanging out with Taiyou and haven’t studied anything. Am I right?”
Tsukiko gulped, ignored Yui and turned to Rika-chan. “Please, help me!”
“It’s okay, Tsukiko-chan. There’s still time,” her friend said with a smile very different from Yui.
The girls made plans so each could help the other two with their best subject. There was only one problem. “History…” they said together, their good mood plummeting. None of them had good grades on that. In fact, Tsukiko was dangerously near the red mark line ever since her second year and if not for the teacher insistence on giving her extra homework, she would have had summer school last year.
“Ah! I know!” Tsukiko brightened up when she remembered, smiling as if she had the greatest idea ever. “How about we ask Taiyou-kun? He’s—”
“Ask a first year? Are we really that desperate?” Yui interrupted her. “Even if you put him on a pedestal, I doubt he can help.”
“Will you let me finish taking, best friend of mine?” Tsukiko closed her eyes, raised her hand and moved one finger slowly, showing the smuggest face she had. “Even if he’s a first year, he sometimes has private lessons with a great teacher. Dan-sensei or something.”
“Wait, you mean that Dan-sensei from Hyouzan high?” Rika-chan widened her eyes in surprise. “How does he know such a famous teacher?”
“He’s a friend of the family.”
“And you really think Taiyou can help? I mean, even if he’s good at history, he’s still a first year. Can he help us with the Warring States Era?” Yui too looked surprised for a second, but soon she was back to her disbelief.
“Let me ask him.” Tsukiko smiled from ear to ear as she pulled her phone.
He was so happy when I asked him, Tsukiko remembered, the guilt growing in her heart when she stared the boy’s empty expression. Why didn’t I refuse when Kobayashi-kun invited himself? It’s not my fault… Ah, damn it! He ruined everything! Why did he have to be so rude to Taiyou-kun?
After the girls finished their planning, Kobayashi-kun appeared out of nowhere, asking with his usual smile if he could join them. He said that if his grades didn’t improve to a certain minimum, the coach might not let him play in the next matches. After Kenichi-kun’ and Rika-chan’ insistence, there was no way Tsukiko could refuse.
Despite a few mishaps here and there, including a day when they all mixed the subject and brought the wrong books, the study group was going without a hitch. Tsukiko was actually feeling confident those would be her best grades in a long time.
Until when it came time for history. Rika-chan had already met Taiyou-kun, but Tsukiko was surprised to know Kobayashi-kun and Kenichi-kun also knew the boy. But what really shocked her was the reason; their schools were facing each other on the next soccer match.
How did Taiyou-kun manage to keep that from me? Tsukiko thought at the time, already considering how much she was going to tease him for that. Then she realized the reason, and gave up the idea altogether. If he hid from me, it’s because he’s nervous… I mean, technically he’s playing against my school… and we’re stronger, according to Yui… and Kobayashi-kun.
The next moment, however, Tsukiko had no more time to think about that. Kobayashi-kun began making jokes and comments about Taiyou-kun, wondering if he could help them, being a brat and all, in his words. Or if the boy really wanted to help, since they would be facing each other and without him, Teikou’s chance of victory would increase slightly…
“He’s indeed… arrogant,” Taiyou-kun said, looking her in the eyes. Though Tsukiko could do nothing besides agreeing with him, she averted her gaze. There was something she didn’t like in the boy’s eyes right now, though she didn’t know what it was. “I heard he was like that, but I thought it was only on the field…”
The next instant, she understood. For him to be talking like that about someone he just met… It’s not that he’s mad. That sweet and gentle boy I know is hurt, she realized with a pain in her heart. “Yeah… I can’t really disagree… but he can be nice… when he wants… sometimes…” Wait, why am I defending Kobayashi-kun?
“Is that so?” Taiyou-kun’ voice became lower and for the first time since she met him, Tsukiko felt it was cold. “He really fooled me. I thought he was just selfish. It’s hard to believe you two are friends.”
Tsukiko felt another pang in her heart when she heard those words, but again she couldn’t do anything other than agree with them. This isn’t right… The Taiyou-kun I know and like wouldn’t say something like this… Kobayashi-kun really hurt him…
Kobayashi-kun only reduced the mean comments and jokes when Taiyou-kun mentioned Dan-sensei. The moment he heard that, he changed his attitude towards the boy, treating him with some decency.
But he still made fun of Taiyou-kun here and there… Ah damn it! That’s it! Taiyou-kun shouldn’t think about that idiot anymore. “More important than that, did you pick up anything between Yui and Kenichi-kun?” She changed the topic the moment she remembered. With today’s disaster, she had forgotten, but during their studies sessions, a few situations left the girl wondering if her best friend liked the vice-captain or not. “Though she doesn’t show anything, nor will she tell me, I think she likes him.”
“Eh?” Taiyou-kun widened his eyes, the dark and cold air gone in the same instant. The change was so sudden it caught Tsukiko off guard. “You really didn’t notice?”
“Eh? Notice what?” Tsukiko got closer to him, her face inches away from the boy. Taiyou-kun’ expression changed from surprise to afraid, and then regret. “Hey, Taiyou~~kun… What are you hiding from me?” she whispered into his ear. The boy pulled away, his face an alarming shade of red.
“No… that’s… it’s not…” Taiyou-kun stumbled with the words as he tried to get away from her, but Tsukiko didn’t let him.
“Ne, Taiyou-kun. Didn’t we promise we wouldn’t hide anything from each other?” She pressed on, looking the boy in the eyes. Somehow, Taiyou-kun got even redder.
“Errh…but this isn’t about us… I mean me…”
“So you lied to me…” Tsukiko looked down and sniffed. She knew Taiyou-kun knew she was faking it, but nonetheless, it affected him. He pressed his lips and then lowered his head.
“Yui-san… doesn’t like Kenichi-san…” she barely heard his whisper.
“Eh? So whom does she like?” Tsukiko stopped pretending to be hurt and widened her eyes. “Kobayashi-kun? For real? I never noticed… and she was pushing us together, though she stopped for some reason…”
“No… She doesn’t like him either…”
“Eh…?” It took a while, but Tsukiko finally understood…
“Time’s up. Put your pencils down,” the teacher said in his voice full of energy the moment the bell rang.
“It’s finally over.” Tsukiko passing the test sheets to the person in front of her and rested her forehead on the desk, enjoying the cold wood against her skin. “My head feel like it’s melting…”
“And it’s gonna get worst from now on. I can’t imagine when the high school entrance exams come.” Tsukiko heard Yui’s voice. She looked up and saw her friend rubbing her eyes. “I’ll bet my mom will be like you shouldn’t relax! Start studying for the next exams! You shouldn’t waste any second!”
“Imagine in three years when we’ll be studying for university exams.” Tsukiko gave a weary laugh.
“At least this time history was easier thanks to Taiyou-kun,” Rika-chan joined their conversation.
“Wasn’t it? I think it was the first time I actually finish the entire test before time was up.”
“We should give him something as a thank you. He really went out of his way to help us.”
“Yeah. I have an idea what he’d like.” Yui turned to Tsukiko with a glance full of meaning. Before the girl could ask, however, “I need to use the bathroom. Been holding for too long.”
“I’ll go with you,” Rika-chan said.
Tsukiko watched as her friends left the classroom talking and smiling. Does Yui really likes Rika-chan in that way…? The exams made the girl put the idea aside, but ever since Taiyou-kun mentioned it, his words were there, lurking at the back of her mind.
At first, she thought the boy was just wrong, but Tsukiko knew Taiyou-kun wouldn’t say something like that unless he was sure. I kinda forced him to say though… but anyway, he’s too good at observing people. If he says there’s something… Even if she didn’t realize, Tsukiko had been observing her friends closer since that day. There’s been a few… strange situations, but if Taiyou-kun hadn’t said anything, I’d never look at it that way…
“…kiko… Tsukiko… Tsukiko!” Someone shook her and the girl looked up to see Yui and Rika-chan. “Finally. I thought you had fainted with your eyes open from using too much every bit of brain you have.”
“I promise once I find it funny, I’ll laugh,” Tsukiko said, mustering all the sarcasm she could. After a second of silence, the three girls laughed. “What are you two doing after this? Let’s go celebrate the end of midterms. We can even look something for Taiyou-kun!”
“I’m in.” Yui stood up.
“I wish I could…” Rika-chan’ shoulders dropped as she let out a sigh. “Mom’s forcing me to attend cram school. This year’s too important! You need to get into a great high school and then into a great university!” she said in an amazing impression of her mother. And a few teachers, Tsukiko thought, holding in her chuckle.
“Good luck.” Yui patted Rika-chan on the back a few times as she nodded sympathetically. “Then I guess it’s only me and you, Tsukiko. How about the arcade?”
“Damn it!” Yui threw her bag on Tsukiko’s bed. “How could they let a shitty rigged game like that?”
Tsukiko held back her laugh. “At least you got the prize,” she said, though she knew her friend wasn’t happy for that.
“I’d rather have my money back and play a game that’s not rigged!” Despite her words, Yui fondled her prize with care.
They decided to go with Yui’s suggestion to relief some of the stress. But the arcade ended up being a mistake. After a few of fun games, Yui saw a stuffed animal she really wanted for some reason. Tsukiko thought it would take a few minutes, since her friend was too good at the crane game. But that wasn’t what happened. No matter how many times Yui caught the animal, it simply didn’t budge. Only after spending almost her entire month’s allowance, she realized the stuffed animal had its tag stuck on a screw.
The manager apologized again and again for the inconvenience and gave the stuffed animal to Yui.
“Why did you want it so badly? It didn’t wanna say, but a stuffed disemboweled tiger with its gut hanging outside isn’t cute…”
“It’s for Rika.” Yui laid down on the bed and with her eyes on the animal. “You know her birthday’s coming up.”
Tsukiko leaned against the wall and watched her friend in silence. A month isn’t coming up, she thought, but kept the words to herself. Does that mean she likes Rika-chan in that way…? Wait… it could be only friendship. She’s like that with me too…
Ah, damn it! The girl had hit a wall, she knew. I won’t know until I ask…but it’s okay for me to ask? I mean, she’s my best friend and we share pretty much everything, but that’s different… right? But what if she wants to tell but is afraid I’ll reject her or something? No, she knows I’d never do that… ah, damn it! I wanna help my friend! What should I do?
“Hey, Tsukiko, are you listening?”
“Huh? Sorry.” Tsukiko blinked and shook her head. “I was thinking of something…”
“Still tired from the test?” Yui sat down on the bed and stared Tsukiko. “No… that not it… What’s wrong?” You know you can tell me anything.”
I know that… but it seems like you’re the one who can’t, she thought and then sighed. This isn’t about me… It’s about my best friend… If she’s going through something, I wanna be there for her, like she has for me many times.
“You too.” Yui blinked in confusion. “You know you can tell me anything too. Anything. Like, if you have anyone you like, you can tell me.”
Yui widened her eyes and then narrowed them. It only lasted a second, but Tsukiko knew her friend well enough to know she understood. “You tell me,” she said, pressing her lips to stop them from trembling.
She’s afraid of saying herself, Tsukiko realized. Under Yui’s hard gaze, the girl walked around her room trying to find a place to sit and not seemed like she was accusing her friend. I’m an idiot… why am I overthinking this? In the end, she sat on her bed next to Yui. If it was about anything else, she’d have been pissed off and told me to spill it by now…
“You like Rika-chan,” Tsukiko said after a long time. Did I manage to sound supportive?
Both girls stared at each other as the silence filled the room. Yui sighed and scratched her head. “Taiyou,” she said after a long time, looking away. It wasn’t a question. “I know you long enough to know you’d never notice something like this.”
Despite the tension, Tsukiko couldn’t help but let out a chuckle with Yui’s word. “Yeah, you’re right… for a change.” Her friend opened her mouth, but after a tense second, she smiled too.
“To be honest, I don’t know.” Yui laid down on the bed again. She hugged the stuffed animal and stared at the ceiling. “When the semester, I thought she looked cuter, but… when she started talking about Kenichi-kun… it kinda bothered me.
Yui kept quiet. Tsukiko had a few questions, but held her words. She knew her friend would say for herself.
“At first I thought it was something about losing my friend and all, but you have this thing with Taiyou and it doesn’t bother me at all. It annoys me, sure, but that’s ‘cause you’re too annoying when you talk about the boy.”
“Hey, I’m here for you and you make fun of me?” Tsukiko tried to relief some of the tension.
“It is inevitable.” They both laughed, but when it stopped, silence reign. “I guess everything changed when I saw my senpai kissing a girl and it made me think more and more about Rika. Did I want to do that with my friend? But even I had no idea. I kept thinking and thinking… and then I tried talking with senpai, but what was I gonna say? Hey I saw you kissing a girl and I’m… I’m…”
When Tsukiko saw Yui’s eyes watering, she pulled her friend and hugged her before she knew. I had no idea my best friend was going through all that… “It’s okay… I don’t know what I can do for you, but I’m here.”
“Thanks…” Yui hugged harder.
Is there nothing I can do to help? Tsukiko searched her mind desperately, but she knew there was little she could do besides be there for her friend. She needs someone who’s been through this…
“Hey, Yui… Do you wanna talk with someone?”
In a rare moment, Yui said nothing, only nodded her head, still hugging her friend. Tsukiko texted the only woman she knew who might help. Are you free right now? There’s a friend who needs to talk…
Rin-nee poured three cups of tea, handing one to Yui, who took it, and one to Tsukiko. The girl was about to accept when her hands stopped in midair. She glanced at her friend, staring her reflection on the surface of the drink, her eyes empty. “Maybe it’s best if I’m not around…”
“No… it’s okay… stay…” A trembling Yui grabbed Tsukiko’s sleeve before she moved.
It’s the first time I see her this vulnerable… Tsukiko accepted the tea with one hand and held Yui’s with the other. Rin-nee watched in silence, sipping her tea as the girl sat on the stool next to her friend.
“So what did you want to talk?” Rin-nee asked, looking at Yui, who kept her eyes on her tea, never making any sound.
The doctor turned to Tsukiko. The girl opened her mouth, but then closed it, glancing at her friend. Should I be the one saying? I don’t know all what Yui’s been through… alone… In the end, the only thing she did was squeeze her friend’s hand harder.
“Are you perhaps having strange feelings for a girl?” Rin-nee said after she had drunk almost all her tea. Yui raised her head with her eyes widened. She opened her mouth and turned to Tsukiko, who quickly shook her head. “Tsukiko-chan didn’t say anything. But there’s a limited number of topics I can help. So unless you’re pregnant, it can only be because you like a girl.”
I’ve never seen Rin-nee so gentle… and mature, Tsukiko thought amazed. She knew the doctor was cool, but she always saw Rin-nee as someone who loved to toy with those she loved too much, even if it was in a friendly and lovingly way. But I’ve never seen her so… dependable.
“I… I don’t know…” Yui admitted, playing with her untouched tea. “Rika-chan has been looking cute lately, but after she started talking about a boy and… and I saw a senpai kissing a girl, I had these strange feelings and… don’t know… if… if…”
“If those feelings are love or for maybe losing a friend?” Rin-nee finished the sentence for Yui. The girl nodded, her eyes watering.
“I know it’s weird. Why do I have these feelings? Am I a bad friend? Am I jealous because she’s interested in a boy or am I jealous of the boy? Is there something wrong with me? What are my parents going to say if I tell them this?”
Yui poured all her feelings out and Tsukiko had no idea what to say. She’s being with this on her shoulder for months and I had no idea… The only thing she could do was hug her friend. Even if I say it’s okay if she likes girls, knowing Yui, it might backfire…
“Yui-chan.” Rin-nee looked into Yui’s eyes as she placed a hand over the girl’s and squeezed her fingers. “There’s nothing wrong with you or those feelings.”
Those words made the girl cry. Yui hugged Tsukiko harder with one arm. After she stopped, she cleaned her eyes. “Sorry for crying like this.”
“Don’t say that. I know kids like you think they’re too smart for this, but remember you’re growing up. It’s a strange and awkward phase. I went through the same thing.”
“You did?” Tsukiko and Yui said at the same time.
Rin-nee looks so collected… only near aunt Shigure she acts like a kid. The idea of the cool adult doctor she knew had been through an awkward phase was comforting to Tsukiko.
“Yeah… When I was in high school, a friend who moved away got a boyfriend. Hey, thinking back now, I think she was my first crush.” There was a strange nostalgia around Rin-nee as she smiled. She dismissed it with a shake of her head. “But anyway, my friends and I started talking more and more about love and I noticed I was more interested in my friends than the boys in our school. After many situations, we ended up practicing kissing with each other. You know, to get good at kissing… I won’t say whose idea it was.”
Rin-nee laughed and drank the rest of the tea.
“So what happened?” Yui seemed interested as she drunk her own tea.
“Me and this girl in particular continued practicing without the others knowing. I think I fell for her… But after she got a boyfriend, we stopped and she made me promise I’d never tell anyone about us.”
“That… seems mean…”
“Yeah… It was a shock. But, well, first loves rarely end well. Only in manga,” Rin-nee said, shrugging. But then she stopped smiling and seemed serious again. “What you’re feeling could be jealousy, could be love. Or maybe some temporary feeling that might pass. You know, those things old people say when I was a kid and stuff. Trust me, I’ve heard it. But if you truly like girls, there’s no need to worry. There’s nothing wrong with you.”
“No.” Rin-nee never looked so reliable. “So don’t try rushing your feelings. Just let them occur naturally. And most importantly, don’t think about what the people around you’ll say. I know you parents are important, but it’s you and your feelings we’re talking about. If you ever feel like talking, I’m available.”
“Thank you…” Yui said in a low voice and Rin-nee smiled.
“Now I gotta go. You know, meet my happily ever after,” the woman said.
Tsukiko had trouble holding her laugh. When Sawa-chan-sensei isn’t around she says is that. But when she around, Rin-nee can only tease her…
“Tsukiko-chan, can you give Yui-chan my email and number?”
“Sure.” The girls stood up too.
“You don’t need to go. Taiyou’s in his bedroom,” the doctor said before leaving.
The moment Rin-nee closed the door, Taiyou-kun came from his room. He looked at Tsukiko, but the girl noticed he did his best to avoid looking at her friend. It made no difference. Yui turned to him with her usual self back.
“So it was you who told Tsukiko.” Once again, it wasn’t a question.
Tsukiko had no idea if her friend was angry or not. The boy gulped, looking so red the girl expected steam to come from his ears at any second. Taiyou-kun trembled a little when Yui walked towards him, but he stood his ground.
He’s so brave to face her when she’s like that, Tsukiko thought, smiling. Sometimes he can be so manly. But to the boy’s surprise, and Tsukiko’s, Yui hugged him.
“Guess I should say thanks.”
When she let go of him, the boy opened and closed his mouth many times, but no sound came from him. When she leaned in and kissed him on the cheek, Taiyou-kun looked like he could faint at any time. “This is your reward. For telling my best friend something I couldn’t… and for helping with history,” she said, though her eyes were on Tsukiko.
The girl blushed too and raced to place herself between them. “What are you trying to do with the pure and innocent Taiyou-kun?”
“Pure and innocent?” Yui laughed and placed a hand on Taiyou-kun’ head. “Believe me, he’s done more than a kiss on the cheek.”
“What? When?” Tsukiko looked between Taiyou-kun and Yui. But what she really wanted to ask wasn’t that. “With who?”
“Oh, look at the time. I gotta go.” Yui ignored her friend and headed to the door. Tsukiko went after her, but before she said anything, the girl hugged her friend. “Tsukiko… thanks…”
“I told you I’m here for you.” Suddenly a joke came to her. Can I say it? I mean, before this I’d make jokes without worrying. “If you’re into girls, does that mean you into this?”
Yui froze for a second but then laughed, to Tsukiko’s relief. “Yeah… If I’m really into girls, I can say without worry that you’re not my type.” She laughed again.
“What? You’d be lucky to date me!” Tsukiko faked being hurt, getting more laughs from her friend.
“Yeah, I would,” Yui said and hugged Tsukiko again. “Thanks.”
“Oh come on. You’re embarrassing me.”
Yui was about to close the door when she opened again. “There’s someone who’d be luckier than me,” she said and then left.
Tsukiko turned to the boy and suddenly remembered Yui’s words. “Hey, Taiyou-kun, what was she talking about?” Before he could run to his room, she grabbed him. “You’re not getting away.”
“I… ah… don’t know what she was talking…” He looked everywhere but at her.
“I’m gonna let you go… this time.” She knew he was lying, and he knew she knew, but instead of praying for more, Tsukiko sat on the couch and pulled the boy. She hugged him from behind and looked at the ceiling. “It’s thanks to you that I’m closer to Yui.”
“I did nothing…”
“No… today was all thanks to you… If you hadn’t told me, I’d never knew and Yui might had kept those feeling to herself for much longer.”
“But you were there for her. That’s the most important. Today was because you’re a good friend.”
“I guess meeting you changed me.” Tsukiko closed her eyes and enjoyed the warm coming from the boy. “I’m glad I talked to you that day.”
“Yeah… me too.” She heard his low voice, but what made her happier was he wrapping his hands around hers.