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now, come a little closer

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It was a dreary day; the winds were howling and there were threats of rain in the sky. Ai had been foolish enough this morning to forgo checking the weather. The outside of her bedroom had been bathed in sunshine, and this trend had continued for most of the day, until the moment her last class let out.

Now, Ai was waiting at her bus stop, woefully underdressed for the biting chill in the air, and reflecting on how much of an idiot she was.

Footsteps approached; she flicked her eyes up and caught sight of her school’s uniform, and looked away again. So a classmate would be witness to her foolish decisions as well.

Then, a soft voice said “Kitora?”

Ai snapped her head up. Standing in front of her was Teruya, from Kakizaki unit, if Ai recalled correctly. She saw Teruya around school and Border occasionally, but they had never really talked before. In all honesty, it was that Teruya never made enough of a splash on Ai’s radar for her to be paid attention to.

Still, Ai was raised to be polite, and Teruya had done nothing wrong, so Ai smiled at her.

“Hello, Teruya-san,” she greeted, nodding her head and hoping that was the end of that. She thought she could see Teruya surveying her bare arms and raised goosebumps, and she would really rather avoid any conversation about her silly mistake.

Teruya was wearing a jacket. Ai tried her best not to be bitter over it.

With a smile, Teruya sat down beside Ai. “You don’t have to be so formal,” Teruya said. “Teruya-senpai would be fine,”

Ai nodded, trying to give Teruya as little encouragement as possible in making conversation.

They sat in silence for a little. Ai knew that her bus was a while off yet, since she had gotten out of class late, and she wasn’t particularly looking forward to the wait.

When another harsh gust of wind made its way through the measly shelter of the bus stop, she couldn’t contain her shivering. It was strong enough that there was no way Teruya missed it, and Ai steeled herself when she heard Teruya’s intake of breath.

“Didn’t bring your jacket?” Teruya asked, somewhat pitying.

Her tone grated at Ai’s nerves, already worn thin from the weather. Snappier than called for, she shot back “I didn’t think the weather would get so bad so quickly,”

She hoped her tone would make it clear that she didn’t want to discuss further, but Teruya huffed a laugh instead.

“Yeah,” she said with another smile. “I would be in your position too, if my mum didn’t throw a jacket at me before I left the house.”

Miraculously, hearing this made Ai feel a little better. She knew that she was being irrational earlier, which only annoyed her more, but she was at least glad that her irrational annoyance had an irrational solution.

With a sigh, she said “It’s not too bad,”

Like the universe was conspiring against her, another strong gust of wind blew through and left her shivering anew. Teruya raised her eyebrows, looking like she was trying not to laugh. She was succeeding, which was good, because if she laughed Ai would’ve probably started walking home instead.

“I’m sure it’s not,” Teruya said, her voice sounding bright and warm. “Still, there’s no reason to suffer alone.”

Ai gave her a sidelong look, trying to gauge what she meant by that. Ai couldn’t see a way for Teruya to help her, aside from handing over her jacket, but Ai wasn’t about to let that happen.

Teruya watched her expectantly for a few moments, and then raised her eyebrows when all Ai did was watch her. With a sigh, she shuffled closer.

“Come here, Kitora,” Teruya said, sounding fond, and then she was right next to Ai and wrapping her arms around her.

Ai was so shocked that all she did was blink. Teruya went as far to rest her head on Ai’s shoulder, using her hands to rub along Ai’s arms in the meanwhile.

Ai had no idea what to do. Teruya seemed perfectly content to stay like this, and Ai was feeling warmer already, especially as Teruya continued to work at her arms, so she couldn’t really find it in her to protest.

They settled into silence once again. Ai eventually felt herself relax into Teruya’s grip, easing up enough that she managed to awkwardly put an arm around Teruya as well.

It wasn’t… bad.

After a while, Teruya hummed, pausing her movements. “Feeling better?” she asked, raising her head so that she could make eye contact with Ai.

And Ai—she found that she was. She felt better. Much better, in a way that went past just being warm.

With her first genuine smile since the weather had turned her mood sour, she said “Yeah, I am. Thank you, Teruya-senpai.”

Teruya grinned and returned to her prior position. This time, Ai was ready, resting her head against Teruya’s as soon as she was settled.