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This boy won't leave her alone. It isn't the first time he's come up to her and begun to talk, strangely, uncomfortably, but usually she can find some excuse and get out of there. This time, she isn't as lucky. She's tried being polite. She has thick skin; she can deal with this much, or that's what she thought. It's much more difficult in practice. She can't even walk away, because he's blocking the door. What does he want with her? She's just a normal member of the ceramics club. It's not as if she's anyone important.

She fusses with her uniform and tries, yet again, to find a break in the “conversation” and leave, but it's to no avail. He's persistent, though she's not sure to what purpose. He's looking at her with strange eyes, using language that's a little too familiar. She doesn't even know this boy's name. It's as she's smiling, willing someone to come save her, that help arrives in the form of a third voice.

“My, what's going on here?”

There's a hand on her shoulder with a gentle grip. She could recognize that tone anywhere, smooth as night and with a slight tilt. Saya's looking at the boy with no malice but a certain intensity. He seems to shrink under her eyes, but bolsters himself. “Me and Nonoka here were just talking. Right?”

Saya looks briefly at her, studies her expression, and then faces him again. “Is that so? Because it looks to me as if you're causing problems for her.” Her wording is careful and deliberate, even as she says it on the spot. Nonoka watches in awe.

“What? Nah...” he says, waving it off. “She's into it too, right?” The boy looks directly at her with a grin that makes her want to shrink back. “Anyway, how could I leave a girl this cute alone? Can you really blame me?”

The hand on her shoulder squeezes, just for a moment. “I can, because you're making a girl who's taken very uncomfortable.” Taken… Huh? Nonoka glances at her, eyes wide, but she only smiles. As if she knows something she doesn't.

He, naturally, is just as surprised. “What, she has a boyfriend?” He looks around, expecting some guy to jump out and come after him, but seeing no one, he shrugs. “I don't see him.” Nonoka, too, is wondering where this mystery man is. She's never been in a relationship.

“How close-minded of you,” she says, appearing very bored. Then, Saya lifts her hand from its spot on her shoulder, and without missing a beat, swoops down to entwine their fingers. “She has a girlfriend.”

...Huh?

What?

Nonoka understands what she's doing on a certain level, but this doesn't change her complete shock and confusion. Why here, and now, and most importantly why her? She could have used any strategy in the book to get the boy to leave; Saya is good at that. So why on earth did she choose this one? To begin with, a girlfriend is… Her face heats up at the thought. “S-Saya...” she says, in a whisper.

The boy, whose name she still doesn't know, looks as if he's just eaten something unexpectedly terrible. “You two are… What?” Any number of words could be at the end of that sentence, but she thinks she knows what he intended. Her stomach flips, but oddly enough, not in a bad way. She wonders what that means.

“You heard me, didn't you? So please don't say things that will make her uncomfortable.” She just slightly tightens her hold on her hand. Nonoka is struck by this. However her methods, she'd helped her. She'd stood up for her. She knew this already, but Saya really is a kind person. She could almost fall for her for real.

...Or something! This is all just pretend, and to begin with, it'd probably be very weird if she did. Right?

The boy, now thoroughly confused, makes some excuse and leaves without another word. The population of the classroom has thinned considerably, leaving the two of them as the only people left. Nonoka fidgets a bit, fussing with her hair. She wishes Saya would say something, anything to break the silence. As it is, however, it looks like she'll have to do it herself. Clearing her throat awkwardly, she speaks. “Um, so...” A pause, as she forms her thoughts into words. “You weren't serious there, were you?”

Saya blinks at her. “My, did you think I wasn't?” Her heart stops for a moment, until she continues speaking, with a newly playful smile. “I'm kidding.” Relief. She's about to respond, when… “Unless you don't want me to be.”

Nonoka stares at her, all words turned to dust, while the other girl only bids her a small wave as she leaves, her long, dark hair billowing behind her. Stealing her breath away.

There's no getting out of this one, is there?