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Fireworks are loud, but so are feelings

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“Waugh?!” screams Naomi.

“Oh, boy…”

I hear Naomi and Mao’s utterances between the pop of fireworks. It’s then that I notice they are trying to distance themselves from us. Mao’s face contorts into an indescribable expression when I make eye contact with her, but then she sticks her tongue out at me.

You can’t fool me, kid. I know exactly what you’re trying to do. Aw, man… I couldn’t even create the ideal scenario without Mao’s aid.

I look up to Miharu while still feeling sorry for myself. She definitely noticed them sneaking off too, but her eyes are glued to the trails of smoke left behind by the fireworks. Most of the time, that is. She sneaks in a quick glance at me every now and then, her face beet red. She’s far more aware of these sorts of things than I am. It’s no secret that she knows what’s going on.

I turn my head away for a moment out of embarrassment. I see Mao and Naomi come into view when I do. They make no effort to remain hidden and they’re practically biting their nails. Then, a round of fireworks startles me and makes me face the moment.

“Haah…” I inhale as I try to organize my thoughts. Miharu already took the plunge back when she confessed, so now it’s my turn. I gather all my courage.

“…Miharu.” I turn to face her and then call out her name.

“Hmm?” Miharu stops staring at the fireworks. She turns to answer, although it’s obvious she’s trying to act oblivious.

There’s no doubt in my mind about it anymore. I…

“I--” The loudest firework of the night just HAS to go off at that very moment.

Even with that, Miharu seems to understand me. “…I know.” She says with a sad voice. She clenches her fists in an attempt to remain calm.

Wait, I’m not sure she’s really understood what I was going to say. I see a tear running down her cheek. No, she clearly hasn’t. I put my left hand over hers and step closer. With my right hand I pull one of Miharu’s lock of hair behind her ear while caressing her soft skin.

She clearly wasn’t expecting that as her eyes are looking me in disbelief. I’m bright red now but I think I need to clear up her confusion. Our faces are few inches apart. I get closer and kiss her cheek, just where her tear was waiting. “You got me wrong. I like you. That’s what I was trying to say” I whisper. I’m so nervous right now, my hands have started to tremble.

Miharu’s face goes red in a matter of seconds and her smile is brighter than ever. Once again, tears start running down her cheeks, but these time these are from pure cheer. “I’m so happy right now.” She covers her mouth with her hands. “I thought you were going to turn me down and…”

“Miharu. You need to start thinking better of you. You’re beautiful and gorgeous.” I take a deep breath because what I want to say next is important. I take both Miharu’s hand into mine’s. “I want to make clear something. I’ve never been in a romantic relationship before, so my knowledge of romance and stuff is based on shoujo manga. So… I do like you and want to spend time with you, just I’m not sure about what dating entails.” At this point I’m already stuttering. “Please, take care of me. Will you?”

With this, Miharu’s body relaxes and she seems to regain her composure. She wipes her tears with the back of her hand and approaches me to embrace me. We stay like this for a while. People doesn’t seem to bother much about us with the fireworks going on. At some point I realize I had shut my eyes. When I open them, I see Mao and Naori’s faces in the distance. Mao is grinning at me with a mischievous smile, while Naori is showing a quite embarrassed look. I had completely forgot they were still watching us.

Miharu seems to realize what’s happening and breaks our hug keeping her hands on my shoulders. “Don’t worry about them, just look me in the eyes.”

I do as she says and get entranced by how pretty she is. I think till now I hadn’t fully realized how Miharu made me feel. She has been always there for me. Reassuring me when I was lost, protecting me from other participants in the Divine Selection, being even capable of giving her life for me. I still don’t think that should account as a romantic action though. I don’t want anyone thinking their life is worth less than mine. Fortunately, seems like she understands that now. That’s something we’ll need to discuss properly at some point because I don’t want to see her doing it again ever. But for now, I guess that I’m just happy that she’s with me and that all this madness of fate has ended.

Miharu is still staring at me. “Rinka, can I… can we… kiss?” Her last word is almost a whisper, but that doesn’t change the fact she is asking it with utmost gravity.

“Wha… What? K-k-kiss? I’ve never…” Maybe it’s me but the air seems to be getting hotter. I don’t know. I’ve never kissed someone, I have no experience. Shoujo manga doesn’t teach you how to kiss, they just show you two people putting their faces together. And that doesn’t seem too pleasant, to say the least. Crap, Miharu is still looking at me intensely. “I…” Instead of answering, I nod. I close my eyes because it’s too embarrassing to keep watching her. Not to mention that I still can see Mao out of the corner of my eye. I’m sorry but I will let her do the work.

After a few seconds waiting with my eyes closed I feel Miharu’s lips touching mine’s. They’re soft and warm. A pleasant rush of butterflies comes from my stomach. This… is nice. I move my arms to take Miharu’s waist and get her closer to me. I move by instinct and it seems to surprise as well to please her. I can feel the warmth of her body. She ends the light kiss just enough to watch me and analyse my reaction.

I open my eyes to see her beam whit joy. That’s an image I hope I can see more often form now on. I smile at her so she knows I’m good. Once again, I move by instinct and kiss her back. She wasn’t expecting it but won’t oppose resistance either. This time, our kiss is deeper. Our mouths try to work together as best as they can. I feel the urge to use also my tongue. She welcomes it. Her hands are holding me tight while caressing my hair carefully but with resolve. I think I understand why people like kisses. They’re soft, wet, warm, tender. Or maybe it’s Miharu.

We keep kissing for a while, until Miharu breaks the embrace. I was so comfortable in there. “I think we can have plenty of fun back at Lion House if you want. But right now, maybe we should attend also our friends.” She gives me a cheeky wink.

I had totally forgot again. I nod and see how Mao and Naori make their entrance. I’m too embarrassed to look them in the eyes, so I take Miharu’s hand in mine and stare down my feet.

“Soooo… Should we go get something to eat?” says Mao trying to seem indifferent but with a huge grin.