Rinka groans, slowly peeling the covers off her as she clumsily rolls out of bed. The birds are chirping even though the sun has yet to grace this side of the planet.
She yawns loudly and stares at the clock, hoping that maybe she might have some more time to sleep in but alas, her hopes were dashed. It was five o’ clock in the morning, which means in an hour, she would have to get the coffee shop ready and open downstairs despite there not being many customers on a weekend. Maybe she shouldn’t have stayed up the previous two nights to study for an exam that wouldn’t be until Monday. She groggily wipes the crust off an eye, heading towards the bathroom to freshen up.
By the time she finishes prepping, the morning sun had peeked over the mountains and the city’s inhabitants are slowly littering the streets one by one. She gets so engrossed in her morning routine of grinding the coffee beans and blending the rest to the right temperature, she doesn’t hear the door bell swaying side to side.
“You sure do like this coffee brand,” a voice says from behind Rinka.
“Whoa! Miharu!” Rinka startles, her hand almost dropping the cup of coffee she was brewing. Silently, Miharu steadily takes the cup from her and places it on the counter.
“Sorry, I didn’t hear the bell go off,” she says, glancing at the clock on the far wall. “Wait, you’re kind of early today.”
“Maybe I just couldn’t wait to see my girlfriend,” Miharu smiles playfully, having no intention of telling her that Rinka looked so adorable trying not to fall asleep at the counter, she had to sneak a picture on her phone.
“Did you properly study for the finals yesterday?” Miharu leans down to look at Rinka’s blushing face. The look on Rinka’s face should be illegal. Resistance be damned, she cups Rinka’s cheek and slowly brushes her thumb on the corner of her lips.
“Of— of course I did!” Rinka replies hastily, her face burning up from Miharu’s affection. She blinks when she notices a spot darkening on Miharu’s gloves. “Ah, you stained your gloves. Here.” Rinka reaches up to take off Miharu’s glove—
“Wait,” Miharu raises her voice abruptly, her expression dimmed from just mere seconds ago. “Rinka, could— could you close your eyes?”
“Huh?” Rinka replies dumbfounded.
“Please,” Miharu pleaded and Rinka wants to comfort her badly but she can tell that Miharu wants to share something with her. Something that she’s been keeping bottled up from the way her shoulders slightly scrunch up and the way she turns her head aside. Nodding her head, Rinka does as she’s told. A brief pause, and she can hear the sound of fabric slipping off and Rinka guesses that Miharu just took her gloves off.
“Miharu, did you burn your hand accidentally? Do you want me to get the first aid kid?” Rinka asks warily, concern spiking with every passing moment.
“It’s fine. Just— give me a second.” Miharu takes in a short breath, and lets it out slowly, repeating the motions a few more times and by the time she’s finished, more than a minute has passed.
“Rinka, do you remember when I asked if there was anything I could do that would make you hate me?” The nights when Miharu had confessed everything to her in the park by Tokyo Tower.
“Yeah I do,” Rinka replies automatically, then continues and says, “There isn’t anything that could make me hate you.” Miharu sighs in relief at the same time Rinka tells her, “You’re my girlfriend Miharu.” with such conviction as though that was all the reason that Rinka needed.
“O— okay. Okay.” Miharu sucks in a breath of air, and despite her vision being taken from Rinka, she can tell Miharu’s nervous. So whatever this is, it’s practically as important as the times she confessed to Rinka.
“Y—you can open your eyes now.” Rinka turns around and sees clearly, for the first time, what Miharu never wanted to show her.
“Oh.” The jagged lines of scars cover the entirety of Miharu’s left wrist and upper half. Her right side is better off than the other but still— the discoloration of her skin tells Rinka all she needs to know about how deeply the scars left their mark on Miharu’s fair skin.
“I never wanted you to see this if I could help it but—” Miharu turns her head and hugs an arm close to her body, as if defending herself.
This won’t do, Rinka thinks. She won’t deny Miharu of her struggles to survive but she won’t pity her. Absolutely not. Her girlfriend is stronger than she knows.
Rinka takes Miharu’s left hand and slowly brings it up to her lips, tenderly kissing the worst of the marks on her wrist. “I love you, Miharu.” She tells her wholeheartedly.
Miharu feels the breath stolen from her lungs. How is Rinka this charming, Miharu will never know.
“Do they hurt?”
“No.” Not ever since you came back into my life, Miharu thinks.
Rinka isn’t sure how to bring this subject up but if she doesn’t do it now, she’s not sure when they will have another opportunity to talk about this.
“Have you…” Rinka stutters, but she tries again. “Recently have you felt…” she trails off and realizes that she doesn’t know the right words to ask her.
“Felt like cutting myself again,” Miharu finishes for her. It’s scary sometimes, how in sync she was with Rinka.
Rinka nods her head, glancing up into Miharu’s eyes. Despite their differences in height, Miharu seems… smaller to Rinka.
Miharu wants to shut her eyes to escape judgement but deep down, she knows the one person that would never judge her for her actions is right in front of her. “I won’t lie— not about this but… there— there are times, when I’m not with you, that I— that I do feel the urge.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?” Rinka squeezes their hands reassuringly.
At this, Miharu’s shoulders finally relax and she chuckles. “Rinka, you already do.” At the quizzical tilt of her head, Miharu elaborates, “You being beside me is all it takes to start healing.”
“You… you’re a balm to my negativity,” she admits in a soft tone, placing her forehead against Rinka’s shoulders.
“When we graduate, do you want to move in with me?” Rinka says as the thought crosses her mind, changing the somber subject.
“Eh?” Miharu’s eyes widen as she pulls back from shock, a clear blush spreads across her cheeks.
“I mean— you don’t have to— but— but since you always come here everyday, I thought maybe we could cut the commute time and just live in the same place. I’ll make you coffee everyday if you want.” Then as if to drive the nail on the coffin, “I just want to spend all of our remaining time together.” At this point, Rinka isn’t holding Miharu’s hand as she is embracing her dearly tormented heart.
Miharu’s bangs cover her eyes and before Rinka could apologize, Miharu leans down and seals their lips together in a kiss. Their lips meshing atop one another as they slowly relax into the other.
“Rinka, you’re just far too cute,” Miharu huffs, pulling back, as though it were a complaint rather than a compliment.
“And you’re—” Beautiful, Rinka thinks, but instead says, “pretty too…” and mumbles the rest of her sentence. Miharu’s bright laughter rings in the air as though it was ripped out of her, sudden and just as beautiful as a summer rain shower.
“Of course I would love to move in with you,” Miharu agrees easily. “How else will I live without getting kisses every hour?” and teases her poor girlfriend just because she can.
“Does that mean I get a love spell every day then?” Rinka lamely shoots back, taking a note out of Mao’s book, so to say.
Miharu’s smile straightens into a thin line for a split second before she leans all of her weight onto Rinka, crushing her into an impromptu sort of one sided hug. “I’ve told you to never speak of that again,” she says in a sickly sweet tone.
“I’m sorry, Miharu, I’m sorry!” Rinka apologizes, struggling not to topple over from Miharu’s additional weight. Another few seconds and she decides to show mercy in a way only Miharu Hebinata would know. She leans down, lifting Rinka off her feet and up onto the counter top, placing their foreheads together.
A comfortable silence settles over them as their breathes tickle each other and Miharu’s smile is full of mirth at how adorable her girlfriend’s flushed face is.
“I love you, Rinka,” Miharu whispers in the space between them. As though it were only a secret the two of them shared. Rinka is the one to lean in and seal their lips this time.
Fate has given them all the time in the world to shower each other with love.