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The Princesses of Shirojo

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Ano Fuji flicked the stick on her controller, rattling off a sequence of attacks. On the screen in front of her, the cat-girl went flying all over the screen. What she thought was a masterful tactic that would utterly destroy Nena's busty warrior woman turned out to be totally useless as she countered and smashed her into the ground. Another match, another loss. She was about to challenge Nena again, but before she could, she set down her controller with an impressive sighing yawn. “Okay, I think twelve fights is my limit...”

“Yeah, if by twelve fights, you mean twelve wins...” Ano muttered as her cheeks burned. Not that she was really complaining. With the way things had played out at school, Nena was not only a good friend but one of the only people around who wasn't suffering from the dreaded love disease that had infected half of the student body at Shirojo. So it was a good thing they were able to just hang out like this constantly and never get tired of it.

Yuna and Hina were out on their first ever date, a double-date with Sasa and Umi no less. It was insufferably adorable, but it did leave the two of them by themselves for the evening with not much else to do. Nena's disposition meant that the safest bet was just hanging out inside and keeping it low-energy. “Wanna play something else instead?”

Nena shook her head, yawning again. “Pick something single-player, I'll just watch. Kicking your ass gets so boring after a while.” Snarky, even as she dozed. That was Nena.

But Ano kind of understood. Nena was the kind of girl who would happily join a multi-hour raid, but pass out halfway through with her finger holding down her mass heal ability. It was one of her quirks, and she appreciated it even if it could be annoying. “I'm in sort of a Katamari mood. Good music, soothing mechanics. You can get in some proper napping if you like!”

“You know how to sweet-talk me, Fuji” she muttered, almost instantly collapsing against Ano's shoulder. Rather than the snoring that she expected to hear, there was just a kind of soothing, steady breathing. They sat like that for a while, the space filled by poppy upbeat music. “Hey...”

She's not asleep yet?? “A-Ah?”

“So... your friends are dating now. And Umi and Sasa... Those third-years... The Saint and her kouhai... Even Kiri. Something weird happened at school, huh?” Observant as always.

Ano froze up slightly. Yeah, something sure did, but was she really allowed to say why? It hardly mattered, the spirits were gone now. Then again, Nena was hard to surprise. You could tell her damn near anything and she'd believe it. Many already assumed that Ano was a weirdo, why not just lean into it! “So... you know that rumor about ghosts living up on the roof? Well, it turns out they were true...”

Nena seemed unphased, like always. “Were?”

So Ano did her best, summing up the situation from what Yuna had told her. She got so into telling the story that she even let slip that the reason they were gone now was because her friends had allowed the spirits to use their bodies to find their final rest. It had all just come tumbling out, perhaps from her need to speak the words aloud to a listening ear. And when it was all over, Nena just nodded slightly, though it came across more as nuzzling into her shoulder. “That explains a lot...”

“Wh-! It does??” Ano had felt like a total nutcase saying all of that. How in the hell was Nena just accepting it so easily?

“Well yeah, in less than six months, we had a million couples flitting around merrily. Girls that, frankly, would never have gotten together on their own. Even close friends like Sasa and Umi, I could never have made that happen on my own. They were hopeless~” she said, chuckling softly. “The truly strange thing is that neither of us ended up in those ghosts' crosshairs...”

Ano did her best to keep her hands steady as she played the game, wanting to keep from doing something weird or suspicious. “Er, w-well... the older ghost could like... read people? I guess? And I think she mostly focused on girls that were feeling really strong emotions for others. I-I've never had that before.”

“Really? You always struck me as pretty emotional at times. Ah, not in a bad way. Just that you have... hrm... an earnest heart? Perhaps that doesn't make sense.”

It actually did. It was just that Ano was used to feeling joy over some new game, or a delicious meal. Or terror with regards to people paying attention to her. And it kinda sorta seemed like Nena was paying a great deal of attention to her in that moment. So why didn't she feel completely terrified? “W-Well what about you? You've never had those funny heart tingles for anybody?”

Nena just chuckled again, apparently not bothered by having the conversation turned back on her. “I don't think I do anything excessively. Even when I get mad at a game.”

“Yeah, you get... more quiet if anything.”

Nena nodded again, once more causing her to nuzzle Ano's shoulder. “Kinda sounds like your ghost friends weren't interested in anything other than whirlwind romance. Maybe with the exception of Yuna, I guess. I've never had a crush, I just love my friends and family the way you might expect. I would imagine if I ever ended up in a romantic situation, it would be more natural. Easy-going and fun. A slow burn...”

Poor Ano swallowed, as the Prince of the Cosmos on the screen began rolling up entire continents. She silently hoped that perhaps as the Katamari rolled up the entirety of Japan, she might be taken away with it. Taken away from this incredibly embarrassing conversation. But Nena was half-asleep against her and she was in the middle of a level and it wasn't as if she could just go running out of the room. She had to just... keep participating. “H-Hah... Who could even capture the attention of our very own Sleeping Beauty anyway?”

“Mmh. That person would have to begin as a friend. We would have to know each other. They would have to be a nerd like me. I can't decide if it would be better to have someone high-energy to balance me out, or maybe someone drowsy like me. I don't know, I'm not too worried about it.”

Ano finished the level and set aside the controller with a low sigh. She at least managed to get out a sharp laugh so she didn't sound like a complete mess. “That was kinda vague. Thinking you might go the way of our friends? Engage in the beautiful art form of live-action yuri?” That was meant to be a joke, but she couldn't help feeling her heartbeat pick up as she waited for a response.

With a yawn, Nena awkwardly crawled her way over Ano's bed and began to burrow into it. “Certainly seems to have worked out for all of them in the end. I feel like I could probably manage. Loving another girl. It's softer. You know where things are. That kinda thing...”

Following suit, Ano shifted over to sit with her back against the bed, the game forgotten for now. This conversation might have been kinda scary, but it also drew her in. The obvious question was there on the tip of her tongue. But she wasn't sure asking it would be a good idea. She had finally managed to survive the month of hell with Yuna and Hina acting weird. And Nena was probably still adjusting to how her friendship trio worked too. Why in the hell would she want to disturb things again when it could be for nothing??

But whether Ano wanted to push forward or not hardly mattered, because Nena seemed content to be leading the charge in her own sleepy way. “Come on, Fuji, you're smart. You have to see what I'm getting at here...” Ano watched as she wormed her way up closer to the edge of the bed until their faces were just a few inches apart. “Why should they have all the fun just because they're tortured and soft-hearted and scared of being found out?? I wanna kiss a pretty girl, and there's no girl prettier than Ano Fuji.” Ano's chest grew tight as Nena finally said what was going through her mind. Granted she'd never had trouble voicing her thoughts in the past, but it took a special kind of situation to make Nena be fully honest like now.

She might not have agreed on a normal day. But maybe it was the jealousy. Maybe it was seeing how happy everyone was. Maybe all this girl x girl romance was simply leaving her... curious. No matter what, she couldn't shake from her mind what Nena had said about the 'slow burn'. It sounded so nice and she wanted to believe that was possible. “Just... one thing first. If you're tricking me, you know I'm gonna make your life a living hell, right?”

Nena smiled, quite brightly, which was a rare treat that very few got to see. “I would never dare incite the Wrath of Ano. Now come on, what do you say?”

Sitting there on the floor of her room, with Nena's face hovering so close as she stretched out across the bed, it seemed... simple. No need to worry about the outside world or what anyone might say or how her parents would react. She just had to move her head a few inches, and there they were. Their lips connected and it was soft and warm and very nice and they just stay there for quite some time, adjusting to the feeling of it. Ano didn't feel nervous or terrified anymore. She was just... happy.

Nena eventually pulled back with a sleepy, beaming smile. “Get up here. I've always wanted to nap with someone, and you seem incredibly soft.” Well, Nena didn't have to ask twice, and she climbed up onto her bed, curling up together. The girl had always had a talent for falling asleep, but it seemed as though she was out like a light the second her head was nestled against Ano's shoulder.

Maybe not everything had to be huge confessions and waiting for a month and date contests. Maybe sometimes you just needed to find the person who fit against you just right. Ano was glad to know hers had been right there all along. Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel, the nerd princesses of Shirojo. Thinking about it that way, it didn't seem so crazy.