The two girls kept quiet, the awkward silence filling the room as time passed.
Tsukiko sat with both feet on the chair, hugging her knees while spinning around slowly. She had barely said anything ever since Yui had arrived.
The other girl watched her friend, lying on the bed when she grew tired of sitting. “Are you feeling better?” Yui asked when couldn’t take the silence anymore.
“Yeah,” Tsukiko answered in a low voice, not facing her friend. Then she kept quiet again.
“Did you caught a cold or something?”
“No… it was just a slightly high fever. I didn’t need to miss two days of school for that. Dad got too overprotective.” Despite her words, Tsukiko smiled for the first time.
“You say that, but you’re happy ‘cause your dad left work just to care of you,” Yui said and Tsukiko’s cheek went a shade of red.
“It’s been awhile since we spent that much time together.”
Yui opened her mouth again, but then closed it. Tsukiko realized right away. She wants to ask about Kobayashi-kun and Taiyou-kun, the girl thought, but said nothing. Even I don’t know how to explain…
With a heavy sight, Yui scratched her head. “Hey, Tsukiko, I’m just gonna ask. What exactly happened? Did you or did you not… sleep with Kobayashi?”
The girl stopped spinning on the chair. My best friend is so thoughtful and blunt at the same time, she thought, with a hollow chuckle in her mind. “Is that what everyone’s saying?”
“Yes and no.” Yui bit her lips and ran a hand over her face. “From what I heard, Kobayashi’s little sister said she caught you two half-naked on her bed. But the rumors just got out of hand and people started saying this.”
“What…” Tsukiko hugged her knees tighter. Guess I can’t run away from this forever… “What did Kobayashi-kun say?”
“He said it wasn’t true,” Yui answered right away in a firm voice. “When the rumors got out of control, I heard that he was denying it all. But I cornered him and asked him directly to confirm. He felt awful for everything and said his little sister was an idiot.”
Despite everything, those words managed to get a smile out of her. “Even if it is true, it’s hard to blame her. We were like that on her bed…” Tsukiko sigh. “At least he’s not the one saying those things.”
“So something did happen…”
“Yes and no…” Tsukiko gave a weak chuckle, but then grew quiet.
“Could you… I mean, even Kobayashi refused to say what had happened, saying it was only between you two…”
Tsukiko could tell her friend wanted to know more out of concern then curiosity. She’s a great friend… I’m lucky to have her, the girl thought with a gentle smile.
“After the game, I was trying to cheer up Taiyou-kun, but we got into a fight. I said something and did the same and then I walked away in the middle of the rain. I bumped into Kobayashi-kun and he took me to his house and let me take a shower. We were on his little sister’s bedroom using the hairdryer and somehow we ended up kissing…”
“Did you two… sleep together…?” Yui asked after a while, choosing her words carefully.
“No…” Tsukiko relieved that afternoon. She had been avoiding thinking about it ever since she cried in Taiyou-kun’ arm. But I have to face it sometime, she told herself. “I think we might have done it… if not for Aki-chan.”
“Did he… force himself on you?” Yui barely whispered, but Tsukiko heard her question clearly.
“No… he never did anything like that.” Tsukiko closed her eyes, but fighting back the tears. “We were… he finished drying my hair and we started talking about Taiyou-kun and soccer. Then Kobayashi-kun said he liked me and leaned to kiss me… and I kissed him back…”
“That’s a relief. If he had done anything…” Yui shook her head to dismiss the idea. “Why did you kiss him?”
“I don’t know. I was sad and angry at Taiyou-kun. And at myself too. When Kobayashi-kun said he liked me…I don’t know… I think my old feelings for him just came back…”
“Do you still like him?”
“I don’t know… I don’t think so…” Tsukiko thought about the kiss. It was good, I think. But I don’t wanna do that to him again. The one I wanna kiss is… The image of Taiyou-kun appeared on her mind and she blushed. “I like someone else…”
“Taiyou,” Yui said, and it wasn’t a question.
Tsukiko went quiet for a second. Then she chuckled. “Guess I’ll never manage to hide anything from you… Yeah. I like Taiyou-kun,” she said with a smile, the emotion for finally admitting filling her with happiness. But then she felt the tears again. “I like him and I kissed another boy and almost had…”
The girl couldn’t stop the tears this time. She covered her face with both hands and let it all out. Before she realized, Yui had stood up and raced across the bedroom to hug her.
“You did nothing wrong,” she said in low but a firm voice.
Despite those words of comfort, the girl cry even more. “But I—”
“You did nothing wrong,” Yui said again, hugging her friend tighter. “You didn’t cheat on Taiyou or anything.”
“But I… my first time… almost… with someone else than the boy I like…”
“That doesn’t mean anything. You’re not a slut because of this.” Yui pulled Tsukiko’s hand and forced the girl to look in her eyes. “It’s not like you didn’t have no feeling for Kobayashi either. Listen to me, Tsukiko. You’re not a bad person because of this.”
The girl cried even louder and hugged Yui with all her strength.
It took a while for the tears to stop. Tsukiko cleaned her face and sniffled her nose a few times before meeting Yui’s eyes.
“What happened after you kissed him?” Yui asked.
“We… started taking our clothes. I had no idea why I was doing that.” Tsukiko barely heard herself. But when the remembered what happened next, she almost smiled. “You should’ve seen Aki-chan’ face when she entered the room. She was talking on the phone, but when she looked at us, she opened and closed her mouth, barely forming words. Then she left with her face all red. After that, Kobayashi-kun was embarrassed and I said I had to go.”
“Then you met Taiyou-kun in the hallway here.” Yui finished and Tsukiko nodded. “You two apologized to each other, right? Doesn’t that mean Taiyou-kun let all this behind?”
“I didn’t tell him what I did. How could I? After that I cry in his arms, I fainted because of the fever. He called Rin-nee and took care of me until dad arrived. After everything, how could I say to Taiyou-kun what I had done?”
“Tsukiko, I’ll say this as many times as I take for you to understand. You’re not a bad person. Forgive yourself, because Taiyou already has. He wants to put everything behind.”
“But that’s just because he doesn’t know what I did!”
“You idiot! It’s because he loves you.”
Tsukiko grew silent as Yui’s words echoed in her bedroom.
“You, yeah.” Yui stood up and scratched her head. “I shouldn’t be the one saying, but screw it. I won’t let my best friend blaming herself.”
“He likes me…” The idea of the boy she liked liking him back made Tsukiko blush. “Are you sure?” she asked, not daring to believe.
“Yeah. Taiyou told me himself… more like I forced it out of him,” Yui mumbled the last part, an awkward smile crossing her face. Tsukiko knew her friend well enough to know that the girl was proud of that. “He told me he likes you and wanted to kiss you again.”
“Huh? Kiss me again?” Tsukiko’s cheeks lost her colors. “What are you talking about?”
“Ah, I shouldn’t have said that,” Yui said, more to herself than to Tsukiko. “Well, it’s already out of the bag, so I’ll just reveal everything. Do you remember that flower-watching day? When you went with his family? You were a little drunk because of the amazake and ended up kissing him.”
“Wait… that wasn’t… a dream? It actually happened?” Tsukiko had a vague look in her eyes. She had a faint image of her kissing Taiyou-kun under a cherry tree. She always thought it had been but a dream, but even so, that made her happy whenever she thought about it. Suddenly her cheeks when an alarming shade of red and she covered her face with both hands. “I thought it was so vivid for a dream! It happened for real?”
“Yeah,” Yui said without trying to hide her smile or her laugh. But before either of them said anything else, the doorbell rang. “Oh, that must be him.”
“What? Taiyou-kun?” Tsukiko turned to the door of her bedroom, her body growing hot despite the air conditioning. “Why? How do you—”
“’Cause I texted him.” Yui interrupted her friend, showing the cellphone on her hand. Then walked out of the bedroom and went the front door.
“No, wait! I can’t… I’m in my pajamas…” Tsukiko tried to go after her friend, but tripped on her numb legs. Damn it, she thought, trying to stand up, but tripping again on the sheet. “Wait, Yui! Don’t open that door!”
The girl ignored Tsukiko’s protest and opened the door with a huge smile. “Hey, Taiyou. What a surprise to see you. You have a great timing.” Yui stepped out of the way to let the boy in. “I just told her that you two kissed.”
The boy was in the middle of taking his shoes off when Yui dropped the bomb. He froze and kept bent down, not saying said a word as he stared at his shoelaces.
Still on the floor, even from this distance, Tsukiko saw his face turning an alarming shade of red. Finally, Taiyou-kun faced Yui, opening and closing his mouth, but no sound coming from him. Then he noticed the girl on the floor.
Tsukiko looked up at Taiyou-kun and when their eyes met, they both averted their gaze at the same time, too embarrassed to say anything.
“I’ll leave you two alone,” Yui said, barely hiding how much fun she was having.
Tsukiko tried to take the lead, but whenever they looked at each other, they averted their eyes right away. Taiyou-kun was almost was red as Tsukiko. Damn it, Yui! Why did you have to say it like that? How am I supposed to face him now?
The boy pressed his lips closed his eyes and walked to her. “Tsukiko, I like you!”
The girl widened her eyes. He said it! It’s the first time a boy says… It’s not the first time… She stopped smiling and looked at the floor, sensing the happiness leaving her. “I don’t deserve that… I did that to—”
“I don’t know and don’t care what happened!” he shouted to interrupt her. “I’m an idiot. I should’ve never screamed at you like that. But that’s the past. Right now, all that I care is that I love you!”
Even through tears, she looked up. I’ve never seen him like this… She could tell; there was no hesitation in the boy’s words. He looked into her eyes at her without blinking. With his help, the girl managed to sit up.
Taiyou-kun knelt on the ground and when they were at the same height, he kissed Tsukiko.
The girl blinked and didn’t know how to react. Then, in the next moment, she closed her eyes and kissed him back. Tsukiko had no idea how long it lasted. Could be minutes, could be seconds. All she care was the happiness she felt coming from that kiss.
When they pulled apart, Tsukiko couldn’t either stop smiling or crying. She saw the worry in his eyes and she put a hand on his cheek and kissed the other. “Tears of happiness from kissing the boy I like,” she said with a huge smile.
His face became even redder, but even so, he smiled too. It was the biggest smile she had ever seen in him. All that for me, she thought. They looked into each other’s eyes, so happy there was no need for words.
It felt as if nothing could break the moment… until a flash crashed their world.
“That was so cute,” Yui said, smiling as well, though Tsukiko knew it was a different one than hers. The girl pretended to clean the tears she never cried. “I’m so moved.”
“Did you take a picture of everything?”
“Who do you think am I?” Yui shook her head. “I’d never ruin my best friend confession by taking some photos. No, no, no. I recorded the whole thing.”
“W-w-why would you do that?”
“Oh, come on. I did you a favor. I mean, how many girls can say they have it on video the moment they got their first boyfriend?”
“B-boy… f-f-friend…?” The word made Tsukiko stutter. That simple word made the girl’s mind stop working. She turned slowly towards Taiyou-kun.
The boy mumbled a few noises, barely making any sense. “Yes. I’m your boy…friend…” he tried saying in a firm voice, but failed.
Despite her embarrassment, Tsukiko let out a weak chuckle as she cleaned the last tears. “The best boyfriend,” she said, and kiss him again.
“I promise I’ll do everything to make you happy,” he said when they pulled apart, the determination filling his eyes.
“I already am,” she said with her biggest smile yet.