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The cruise ship had a ballroom.

The cruise ship had a ballroom, and Nanase insisted that they dance, even though neither of them knew how to.

The cruise ship had a ballroom—but they weren’t using it.

The lively piano and string piece played through the tiny, but powerful, speaker placed upon the desk as Nanase and Misane worked to push some of the suite’s furniture out of the way.

“It’s still going to be a bit cramped for dancing,” Misane huffed, moving the chair to the far corner of the room. It was a luxurious arrangement—it baffled her sometimes to remember that Nanase, mastermind behind the Master Program, had money—yet still not an ideal space for a waltz.

“We could go up to the deck,” Nanase pointed out, tilting his head toward her.

Misane set her jaw. “…I promised I’d dance with you, but I won’t do it where everyone can see.”

It wasn’t out of embarrassment from being seen with him, nor was it because their age gap might draw stares. It wasn’t even because her father would murder Nanase if he saw them.

It was because—

“I still can’t believe how much of a klutz you are, Misane-chan!”

Misane shut her eyes.  “Mm.”

“Though as a former shut-in, you’ve probably got more finesse than me.”

Mm.”

“I’m really sorry I wasn’t fast enough to stop you from tripping into the pool—”

“Let’s get ready for the dance, Nanase.”

“I’m already prepared!”

He made an elegant twist of his wrist; (and not for the first time, Misane marveled at how handsome he’d become, or rather, had always been? Time paradoxes, considering how she’d first met him.)

The music’s volume adjusted, the song reset, and Nanase took hold of her hands. Misane tried her best to uphold her usual calm expression, though the feel of his warm fingers around hers was incredibly distracting.

It was a quick-paced song, and Nanase was moving surprisingly well with it, shifting step for step. Misane tried her best to follow, funneling all of her considerable brain power into not tripping into him, or over her own feet, or into the edge of the bed...

She remembered, from earlier that day—

“…Why do you want to dance?”

“It’s one of the features advertised for this cruise, right? And we won’t get the chance once we have to resume our case.”

“But you’re terrible at dancing.”

“Ahaha, I am! But so is Misane-chan!”

“…You’re not exactly winning me over.”

“It’s just something I want to experience with you.”

“Like the pool,” she’d replied, deadpan, thinking of swimsuits.

Nanase’s impish smile always made her heart flip, and it was all she noticed about his reply.

Of course, he’d won out in the end.

He always did.

Misane was torn out of her thoughts when Nanase pulled her closer and turned fully around with her, as the dance required, only to lift one of their joined hands high. He guided her through a perfect little spin, and before Misane could even realize what just happened, he led her right back into his arms, smiling down at her with more than a little pride.

He even leaned in as he did so.

Her face burned.

“N-Nanase,” she spluttered, and hated every second of it even as she adored that goofy little chuckle he gave in response. One of his favorite things to do ever since he’d realized it was both within his abilities and not something she truly minded, was to tease her, treating every breaking of her composure like a prize.

Being Nanase, he never meant ill, but just—

Just

“Wh-Where did you even learn to dance?”

“I programmed it into my BitPhone!” he replied, like it was nothing.

Misane blinked. What? Actually allowing the signals to manipulate physical gestures was dangerous…!

…but if anyone could get away with it, it’d be Nanase.

Following a few more seconds of speechlessness—during which Nanase kept giving her that teasing smile—Misane settled for simply pushing him onto the bed with one fluid motion, huffing.

A-Ah!

Whumph!

“You’re really getting to be a bit of a handful,” Misane sighed, smoothing down her skirt. Her eyes were lifted up as if seeking help from the heavens, but a smile tugged at her lips.

Nanase, flat on his back on the bed, gave a sheepish laugh. “Sorry, Misane-chan…”

She took his hand—that same hand she’d taken all those years ago—and kissed the back of it. Just like before, or perhaps, like always, he blushed, lighting up his whole pale face with red.

Misane’s smile grew a little, but she hid it with his hand against her lips.

“…You’re not sorry at all.”

“A-Ahaha…”

“Do you know any other dances?”

“I can program them? It wouldn’t take very long.”

Misane pulled him back to his feet, and he graciously followed the momentum, grinning all the while. She lifted her eyes to meet his gaze, still holding his hand. He squeezed her fingers gently.

“Let’s go up to the deck," she decided.

“Are you sure?”

“It’d be a waste not to make use of the ballroom. We’re paying for this cruise, after all, and we won't have time to relax once we go ashore."

Nanase’s eyes sparkled with amusement. “After you, Misane-chan.”