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in a state half asleep

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The first thing Maya noticed was that there was something warm against her shoulder.

She reached up and rubbed her eyes roughly, still dragging herself from sleep. Before she could wonder where she was, she noticed a quiet rumbling under her feet and remembered about the bus. Right, the ski trip. Her muscles were still aching fiercely from it, and she winced as she stretched her legs.

The more Maya thought on it, though, the more comfortable she was with the pain. If anything, it felt like a badge of honor for pushing herself so far out of her comfort zone.

Her slow, sleepy thoughts drifted to the one who'd made that possible. Hagumi Kitazawa... they hadn't really known each other before this, outside of some band and school activities. The impression Maya had of her beforehand was that she was a girl of few words, but with an inexhaustible store of energy and enthusiasm. Sort of like Hina. But Maya felt that she'd seen an entirely new side to Hagumi today.

She had spent all her time coaching Maya, figuring out how to translate her intuition into actual words so she could understand her, and she had been so happy for Maya when she'd finally succeeded. Afterwards, she'd even approached Maya and offered to teach her about "sports n' stuff, yknow! Whatever you wanna learn about!"

If Maya had to sum up the impression she had of Hagumi now, it would be... a very kind person.

Wait, what was that warm thing on my shoulder, again?

She'd been so caught up in her thoughts that she hadn't even checked yet. Maya shifted her head to look over, and realized that she was currently leaning on a very kind person.

Hagumi was sleeping, her eyes shut tight and mouth hanging open slightly. Her face was so close, Maya was almost brushing against her messy orange hair with each bump in the road the bus went over. She was snoring quietly.

Maya recoiled. Was she so tired that she'd allowed herself to use her new friend as a pillow? Had that happened before or after the other girl fell asleep? Oh god oh fuck did I drool on Hagumi. She'd throw herself out the bus doors and live as a hermit on this mountain if that was the case.

She began to move- slowly, carefully disentangling herself from the other girl. She could just move to the next row of seats and hope Hagumi didn't ever know what Maya had done in her exhaustion.

But as Maya started to stand, she felt something tugging her back down.

A small hand was holding hers tightly. It was rough and deceptively strong, but all Maya could focus on was its warmth.

"K-Kitazawa...?" She stared at Hagumi as the other girl looked at her underneath drooping eyelids, still mostly asleep.

"It's okay with Hagumi," she mumbled.

"Oh." Maya tried to respond, but her words had abandoned her. She carefully sat back down in her seat, and robotically moved back into the same position she'd been in before. As her shoulder bumped against the other girl, she bit back an apology, and instead rested her head on Hagumi's shoulder.

Hagumi's hand disappeared from hers, but Maya only had a moment to miss it before she felt an arm snake around her back and pull her in closer to the smaller girl.

"Kitazawa..." Maya breathed, her heart hammering away faster than the bus's engine. She stole another look, and saw... an undeniably fast asleep Hagumi, snoring once again, and with a bit of drool now ironically escaping her mouth.

Did she just pull me close as a reflex? Or...

Maya decided to stop thinking about it for the moment, and to just enjoy Hagumi's warmth against her side for the rest of the ride home.



A few rows over, Misaki silently pulled a few bills from her wallet and handed them to Hina, who crowed victoriously. She'd lost their little bet, over whether Hagumi and Maya's growing rapport would turn into something boppin', as Hina had put it, but Misaki couldn't help but smile at the sight of her friend cuddling up with a red-faced Maya.

Good for you, Hagumi.

"Do you think they know Ako's still there?" Hina whispered to her, and both of their gazes went to the girl leaning on Hagumi's other side. She was muttering something in her sleep, but Misaki couldn't make out anything except "...demoness of the ice realm..." and a devilish giggle.

"Probably not."