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Unleashed

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Yui’s heart pounds as she runs as fast as her heels will allow through the park, in danger of being dragged behind her excitable dalmation who doesn't grasp the concept of going for a ‘walk’.

With one hand wrangling her purse and the leash and the other keeping the hat on her head, Yui groans and pleas, “Come on, sweetheart. Mama needs to catch her breath.”

Finally, her dog Perdy slows to a halt, and Yui doubles over to gasp in some air before the next sprint starts. She doesn't see the other person being dragged along by his own dog until it’s too late.

Yui stands up straight just in time to run into a solid wall of male chest — or, rather, for the chest to run into her. Arms dart out to steady her before she topples to the pavement, and when she looks up to thank her assailant-slash-benefactor, Yui forgets how to breathe again. “H-Hi,” she squeaks.

The man staring back at her with a red, horror-stricken face, but it can't detract from the fact that he is absurdly attractive. He gives her a sheepish smile and ducks his head. “Yeah, sorry about that. Pongo saw your dog and got excited, so he ran and I ran and —” He covers his ever-reddening face with his hand. “Why can't I shut up?”

“I know the feeling,” Yui mutters under her breath. Out loud, she says, “No worries. I wasn't really watching, either. I'm the one out for the walk, not the other way around.”

He grins at her and extends a hand.  “Sawamura Daichi.”

“Michimiya Yui.” She returns the handshake and says way too brightly, “Nice to meet you!”

Their hands stay linked until they look down and realize it in tandem, blushing as they both snatch them away. Yui wipes her sweaty palms off on her skirt, and Daichi tucks his behind his head. “So, uh, you have a dalmatian, too, huh?”

“Yeah, yeah!” Yui gives her dog a little wave. “Her name is Perdy, and she loves taking her human out for runs.”

Daichi sticks his hand out, and Pongo rubs the top of his head against Daichi’s palm. “Pongo likes to eat people’s flowers from their gardens. He’s classy like that.”

Yui giggles and swallows hard, and her eyes lock with Daichi’s. Oh, god, he is so pretty, her brain screams.

However, her mental monologue is cut short when Pongo’s leash winds around them both until they’re bound together at the knees. Daichi reaches out to steady Yui when she topples back on her heels.

When they both regain their footing, Daichi’s arms are looped around Yui’s waist, and their noses are not even a finger’s width apart. Daichi’s large brown eyes glint in the sunlight, and Yui’s knees almost give out on her again.

“Sorry,” Daichi murmurs, the spell breaking when he scrambles to unwind the leash.

Straightening out her hat, Yui watches with a wry smile as Daichi pleads with Pongo to be on his best behavior. Once he reaches the bargaining phase, she can’t stop the laughter from bubbling out of her. “Let me know when he answers.”

Daichi grins. “I will.” He reaches into his pocket and gives her a card. “Maybe if you want to leave the troublemakers at the babysitter, I could take you out to dinner.”

Yui’s greedy gaze flies over the card time and time again. Daichi is a teacher, a fellow dog owner, ridiculously adorable, and he wants to take her out. The little Yui inside her head runs around in little circles screaming. Fortunately, her voice box is slightly more restrained when she says, “I’d like that.”

They part ways, and Yui looks over her shoulder as they go off in their own respective directions. She smiles to herself when she catches Daichi doing the same.

Next to her, Perdy trots along at a sedate pace, an aberration from her prior breakneck pace. Yui reaches down and ruffles her ears. “I owe you one, girl.”