All Ringo planned to do was cook curry for Shouma and try to cheer him up as much as she could since there was nothing else they could do to help Himari. She wasn’t thinking that this would the first time alone in the apartment with Shouma since accepting her feelings for him. And she wasn’t planning on doing anything about it.
Of course, Shouma has a way of messing up her plans.
“You sure you don’t want any help?” he asks from right behind her as she holds the lid of the pot. She jumps when she hears his voice and drops the lid. She instinctively tries to catch it, but lets it go when she feels the searing pain in her hand. Shouma takes her hand without thinking. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just didn’t notice you were … behind me …”
Ringo’s voice trails off as she remembers the mistletoe she bought and hanged up in her kitchen. She looks up, and sure enough, there it is. Right above where they’re standing hand in hand.
“Is that a mistletoe?” Shouma asks. Ringo mentally berates herself for being so unsubtle. Of course he followed her gaze.
“I bought it when I was still chasing after Mr. Tabuki,” Ringo explains. “I decided to put it up anyway for decoration. But you don’t have to kiss me if you don’t want to.”
Shouma blushes. “W-well, I mean, I might as well, since it’s tradition.”
Ringo’s lips part in surprise. Her heart seems to beat faster with each moment that passes, threatening to burst as Shouma leans forward ever so slowly. Eventually, she grows impatient and starts to lean forward to close the gap herself.
And then Shouma lifts the hand he’s holding and kisses the back of her palm.
As wonderful as it is just to feel his lips against her skin, it isn’t enough to keep her heart from sinking into her stomach.
“Does that count?” Shouma asks.
Ringo’s immediate reaction would be to say no and pull him in for an actual kiss, but she stops herself before the word leaves her mouth. She’s done dragging him around and forcing him to do whatever she wants him to do. If he doesn’t want to be with her, then that’s his choice, even if it kills her inside.
“Only if you want it to,” Ringo replies.
“I guess it doesn’t count then.”
Ringo blinks at him. “Wha—”
Shouma brushes his lips against hers, and just like that, they’re kissing. Ringo wraps her arms around him eagerly, and he runs his fingers through her hair. Their eyes slowly slide open as Ringo reluctantly steps back to break the kiss.
“I really need to finish cooking,” she says as she turns back to the stove. The curry’s simmering on low heat, but she still needs to stir it a bit before it’s done.
Shouma picks up the dropped lid and sets it on the counter before hugging Ringo’s waist. She looks at him with the corner of her eye and smiles.
“I hope that tastes as good as it smells,” Shouma says.
“Of course it does. I made it with love.”
With one hand stirring the curry and the other hand on Shouma’s cheek, Ringo leans her head toward him for another breathtaking kiss with the boy she loves.
It’s strange to think that if things went differently, she might have been standing there with Tabuki. Of course, Shouma has a way of messing up her plans. And she wouldn’t want it any other way.