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Anomaly

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After a long and restless night of what could barely be called sleep, Misaki decided it wasn’t enough.

She really hated herself sometimes. Mostly the logical, realistic side. A majority of the time it was beneficial and kept her alive for one more day, but sometimes it weighed her down and made her wish she could just be ignorantly blissful every now and then.

How could she possibly have turned entirely around in the span of a day? She knew strong emotions were fleeting, and it was part of why she liked to so very carefully consider everything she did. What lay in the realm of possibility, and what was well beyond it? She knew she was just like this. A day ago she had accepted the way she felt, and now in this very moment, as she lay in her bed facing the wall, she was questioning if it was even real to begin with.

Logically, it didn’t make any sense. One moment she was still figuring out how to ditch Kokoro, and the next she was skipping around and holding her hand, head over heels in the span of hours. At the start of the year, she had truly hated the girl sleeping soundly across from her. The chances of that changing so quickly were astronomically low. Perhaps she was just playing herself out of desperation.

Or, maybe this was part of that whole thing where she intentionally made herself lonely because she still felt like she didn’t even have a reason to exist. Being self aware didn’t make her own thoughts any easier to grasp.

She turned over.

Kokoro was sound asleep, wrapped around pillows and blankets and smiling even as she slept. Strands of her golden hair stuck out every which way, flowing around her like a glittering cascade. After all this time, she was still glowing.

Of course, it was Misaki who was fighting with herself, and not Kokoro. To her, the world was probably turning day by day just as it always had.

Come to think of it… did Kokoro even understand what was going on? The way she thought, the way she saw the world, it simply didn’t line up with the way Misaki did. If she risked misinterpreting mutual feelings, she could wind up in the same pit she was in when her first relationship slowly fell apart.

Part of her felt as though she hadn’t aged a day since then. Locked into the mindset of not being worth it, of wasting away in a riskless void while life passed her by and she clung to what little she had. Perhaps in another life, she might have found her place sooner.

Kokoro made a noise and rolled over, barely visible in the darkness. A leg flopped over the side of her bed. Misaki couldn’t even let herself enjoy the night they’d spent walking together. Her hand was still tingling even now, as she considered that her feelings might not be real. Maybe she just didn’t want them to be real.

She curled into herself beneath her thin sheets. Where her open mind had gone, she didn’t know.

Later, as the day passed her by, Misaki felt as though she had a timer above her head that was slowly ticking down, and when it hit zero she would have to make up her mind about what she was going to do. There were no rules written anywhere about the way it had to be, but the catalyst of taking Kokoro’s hand had no doubt marked the start of something.

As she walked through the school grounds in no particular direction, she wondered if she’d made a terrible mistake. She just couldn’t shake the feeling.

Her entire first class had been spent in a daze, words flying over her head as she robotically copied the notes for a subject she barely remembered. All she could think about was Kokoro. Kokoro, and what she was going to do if she was just fooling herself into feeling happy around her or wanting to spend more time with her or literally anything remotely similar. But that was stupid too, because why would she fool herself? What would be the point?

She knew she’d never been in love before.

Kokoro’s voice echoed over and over inside her head.

“How are you supposed to know what it feels like?”

And how would Kokoro know either? It was presumptuous to assume there was any reciprocation going on. The tiny Arisa that lived on her shoulder would probably just tell her she was oblivious. Awkward. Stupid.

Kokoro fell into step with her along the pathway through a grassy courtyard. Misaki could hardly stand to look at her, as if she were betraying Kokoro with her very thoughts.

“How was class? Did you learn anything fun? I just finished English, and…”

Kokoro went on happily, while Misaki’s thoughts pounded against the inside of her head and drowned out anything she had to say.

“What if you don’t really like her?”

It was about as likely as it was unlikely. The butterflies in her stomach had been there for weeks, mistaken for a bubble of discomfort and an urge to get away.

“What if you’re just desperate?”

Hopelessness and desperation went hand in hand after all. Misery loves company; it would be cruel to drag her into something that wasn’t even real.

“What if it’s real this time, and you mess it all up again?”

The heart of the problem. She had no idea what to do.

Before she knew it, the time had come to make her choice. She felt the light brush against the edge of her hand, the closeness of Kokoro as she drew nearer until their shoulders were almost touching. Fingers, small and painfully familiar, reached out for hers.

Her worst fear came to fruition as someone she cared about finally reached out to her in a way nobody had before. Kokoro reached in, and Misaki pushed her back out.

She pulled her hand inward, closer to herself, and picked up her pace so she wouldn’t have to see Kokoro’s reaction. It wasn’t fair. Once again, everything in moderation proved to be too little. Her courage was not exempt.

Nobody followed her as she broke away from the path and onto the grass, fighting the urge to run as she pulled her hat lower in an attempt to hide from anything and everything. The soft green crumpled beneath her sneakers as she swept herself away behind a building and threw her back against the wall, clutching a hand to her chest and letting go of the breath she didn’t know she’d been holding.

Just as her heartbeat started to slow, Moca and Arisa rounded the corner to confront her.

Of course they’d seen it. Of course.

“Don’t.” She told them.

“Uh-huh.” Arisa crossed her arms.

“That was real slick,” Moca droned, “very subtle and not obvious at all.”

Misaki chose not to say anything at Moca’s sarcasm.

“Did something happen?” Arisa probed.

“Yes.”

No use covering anything up anymore. She knew she needed help.

Her friends looked at her expectantly, and for once in her life Moca actually looked relatively serious, if not concerned. No doubt there had been gossip and whisperings behind her back since this whole thing began.

Misaki stuck her hands in her hoodie pockets. “After dinner last night. I took her hand.”

“And now you’re suddenly incapable of doing it again?”

“Even Moca-chan is unimpressed,” Moca contributed, “we had high hopes for you. All that mental cheering, gone to waste.”

“I don’t know why you were cheering for anything.” Misaki wanted to shy away when she heard her voice crack in the middle of her sentence.

Arisa mumbled something offensive under her breath. “Imagine understanding that your friends can tell when you’re experiencing positive emotions.”

“Was it really so obvious?” Misaki questioned.

“Obviously not to you.” Arisa replied sharply. The air between them all was tense. “I don’t understand how this isn’t a good thing. You like her, you made a move, and she’s responding. You lost me, honestly.”

Moca nodded. “She’s not as pretty as Moca-chan, but your girlfriend makes your mouth do that thing where it isn’t sad. You know, the upside down frown.”

She pointed to the corners of her own mouth.

“I don’t even know how to explain this to myself.” Misaki muttered. “Yesterday I felt like I knew what I was doing and today I’m back at square one.”

“You wanna hurt her feelings?”

Misaki shot Arisa a glare that could wilt flowers. “Of course I don’t! I know I probably did. If you were me, you’d be second guessing yourself too.”

Moca hummed. “So it’s you that you’re not sure about? Not her? Does she embarrass you?”

“Yes, but I don’t care about that. I’m just… what if I’m wrong?”

Arisa moved her hands to her hips. “I guess it depends what you think you’re wrong about. You probably don’t have a lot of time to explain properly so just get to the point.”

The point…

Somewhere deep inside, Misaki knew that she’d spent the entire morning making excuses for herself, looking for loopholes and pretending she wasn’t afraid of anything. Fear kept her from trying new things in general, while necessity drove her to push her limits. Coming to Kyoto was one of those pushes, and so was letting Kokoro worm her way inside her personal bubble.

This entire thing was so stressful. She wanted to go back inside, skip class, and read books under her blankets. Instead, she had to put into words what she knew was really bothering her and hope her friends wouldn’t judge her for it.

“Ah, well… it does sound like a good thing, doesn’t it? Finally admitting to myself that maybe I don’t hate her.”

“You want her around,” Arisa waved her hand dismissively, “I could tell from the start.”

“It’s something I can’t explain.” Misaki spoke quietly. Above them, the sun slowly snuck away behind towering white clouds. “It’s frightening to imagine wanting something, and fighting with yourself to admit you even want it. I wish I were more outgoing. Nothing ever pushed me.”

“Slow and steady, it’s how Moca-chan lives,” Moca gave Misaki a soft look, “but you’re always trying to be too steady. Wouldn’t it be more fun to jump in?”

Misaki held in a chuckle and the tiniest smile in the world. “That’s something she would say. And then I’d tell her, it isn’t that easy.”

“We always make it harder for ourselves than it needs to be.” Arisa looked away for a moment, lost in her own memories.

There was a silence between them as the clouds passed overhead and the sun came around again. The worn brick felt cold against Misaki’s back. It was now or never.

“What if she doesn’t understand.”

A statement, not a question, really.

Moca scratched the back of her head, while Arisa did nothing but continue looking disappointed.

Misaki went on. “It’s stupid, isn’t it? I’m the first friend she’s ever made. Do either of you honestly think she feels anything beyond that? She doesn’t know what she’s doing.”

The anger she felt for herself earlier was slowly seeping out now, as she considered why she left Kokoro behind.

“It’s almost funny I guess. Some socially awkward sheltered kid who’s never gone outside before meets me, barely gets to know me, and I let myself think it could go somewhere for a day. This kind of thing never happens in real life.”

“It does sound pretty far-fetched.”

Arisa reached over to smack Moca’s arm.

“Alright genius, why don’t you actually talk to her instead of convincing yourself you don’t have a chance?”

Misaki reached up and fiddled with the brim of her hat. “And what if she just agrees with me to make me happy? Or what if she thinks she knows what’s going on and she really doesn’t, and then I do something stupid and -”

“You’re doing something stupid right now!” Arisa’s hands balled into fists at her sides. “I know you have problems and you hate talking about them, but you have to quit being so dramatic. You need to stop doubting yourself and talk to her like an adult!”

“And what if it’s not what I think it is?”

Arisa flicked the brim and Misaki pulled her hand away.

“Then you suck it up like anyone else who’s ever been rejected. I hardly know her and I can tell you right now she wouldn’t stop being friends with you if it didn’t work.”

“I don’t want to hurt her.” Misaki argued, as if they were even having a debate to begin with. It was more like she was fighting a losing battle that she didn’t really want to win in the first place.

“You’re probably gonna,” Moca told her, “if you lead her around n’ all that.”

“Seriously,” Arisa rolled her eyes, “you’re standing here telling us you think she doesn’t understand what love is. You think she’s gonna understand why you’re flip flopping between acting like you care about her and suddenly ditching her?”

“I would be pretty confused.” Moca nodded.

“Do something that makes you happy.” Arisa’s voiced settled all of a sudden. They’d all been close to shouting, and it was all so tiring. “And figure out what you want.”

With that, Arisa gestured for Moca to follow her and they both walked away, clearly not willing to meddle any further. There wasn’t really anything more they could say, or anything Misaki wanted to hear. In the end they were right and Misaki was making it much bigger than it needed to be. Her track record was just so, so awful though.

Eventually, she wandered out from behind the old building and headed for her next class, wary of anyone who passed her by that happened to have blonde hair. When she found her building, she walked past it and kept going, no appetite for learning left in her.

She wanted to think, but the thoughts just wouldn’t come. There was always a roadblock, always a moment where she stopped and told herself she just needed to say something. To Kokoro, that is. She was well past having the option of talking with anyone else. Surely her friends knew enough by now.

She didn’t stop walking until the sun began to set and she found herself back at her apartment building. Half expecting to be too afraid to even get in the elevator, she surprised herself when her feet carried her there, and then out on her floor and down the hall to the room she shared with what had quickly become her biggest fear.

If nothing else, Kokoro deserved an apology.

When she stepped inside, it was as if she’d walked into another world.

Here, she could hide away from anyone who was forward enough to confront her. There were clothes (not hers) all over the floor, stuffed animals spilling into the hallway. Whimsical drawings and barely legible notes scattered beneath her feet. The stupid lights pinned to the wall above Kokoro’s bed.

And Kokoro herself, who was smiling ear to ear the moment she laid her eyes on Misaki.

“You’re back!” She threw her arms in the air and spun her chair around.

“I...yeah, I am.” Misaki carefully removed her shoes and stepped over the toys in the short, narrow walkway. She made her way to her bed and took a seat on the edge, struggling to figure out what she should say about earlier.

“Are you feeling better now?” Kokoro asked her, leaning half way out of her seat.

“Hm? Feeling...oh, um. Well, about that. I’m sorry. If I made you upset or-”

“Upset?” Kokoro raised her eyebrows. “Me? But I thought you were the upset one! I spent all day trying to figure out how to cheer you up.”

“You did?”

She leaned back on her palms and considered what to even say to that. It was so unexpected.

“Mhm, first I thought about what makes me happy. Like a parade! Or fireworks. Something big. A ride on my cruise ship! But then I remembered I don’t know how to do any of that stuff. Not when the suits aren’t here. And the ship can’t really come to Kyoto.”

Misaki blinked. “C-cruise ship?”

Kokoro nodded, like it was the most normal thing in the world. “Wouldn’t that have been fun? We can do it next time. Or maybe skydiving.”

“Eh?!”

“Things like that are so exciting! Even if we can’t do them right now, it’s fun to think about. It took me a while to come up with something I could do right away that I knew you would like.”

“And what did you come up with?”

At this point, Kokoro could reveal she’d done absolutely nothing and Misaki would likely be fine with it. Just talking to her was enough for now, after what she’d walked away from earlier. She couldn’t believe she was welcoming a conversation with Kokoro with open arms. It felt good though.

Kokoro hopped out of her chair and shuffled into the mini kitchen in the hall, reaching into a paper bag sat on the counter. Misaki heard the crackle of plastic shell packaging being popped open, and she truly was curious. What would be Kokoro’s cure-all after that highly suspect list of extravagant things she’d come up with?

Kokoro made her way back between the beds, stopping in front of Misaki with her hands behind her back.

“I got…” she braced for a moment, as if to give Misaki a chance to get excited. She wasn’t quite there yet.

“Cupcakes!”

She whipped her hands out to reveal two little cupcakes, decorated to look like tiny animals. Misaki recalled seeing them amongst the pastries at the Lawson when they’d visited. A bear and a rabbit, all done up in colourful icing and chocolate ears. They were so… cute.

Misaki smiled at her. A cupcake held the same sway as a luxury cruise these days. It was so simple, and so very Kokoro.

“Thank you. It’s good.”

It’s good? Misaki yelled at herself. That’s all you have to say?

Kokoro moved to hand her the bear and promptly dropped it on the floor. Misaki sat there, her hand halfway to where the cupcake had once been, unsure of what she should do.

“Oops. Um.” Kokoro leaned down and tilted her head. “Hey, Misaki? It landed icing down on a sweater. Is this yours or mine?”

Misaki looked down at the messy floor. It was hers.

“It’s mine.”

“I see. Uhh. Hm.”

It was all so ridiculous. Her huge crush on Kokoro, Arisa following her around like a nosey mom, Kokoro’s dumb drawings all over the place, Kokoro’s tiny lights above her bed. The groceries in the fridge that never ran out, thanks to Kokoro. The headache that never left her, thanks to Kokoro. The rapid beating in her heart, thanks to Kokoro.

The bear cupcake smashed into her sweater on the floor. Her life was so yellow now.

She couldn’t hold in her laugh. It was quiet at first, but eventually Kokoro joined in from where she was crouched on the floor, maybe just giggling at Misaki or the cupcake or whatever, it didn’t really matter because it was so cute it only made Misaki laugh louder.

When they both settled down, Kokoro stood up. “The cupcake might be lost, but it did its job. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you laugh before. It feels good, right?”

Misaki pondered. It really did. Nothing like that had happened to her in a long time.

“Yeah, it does. Thank you for the cupcake, even though I didn’t get to eat it.”

“You can have mine?”

Misaki laughed a little again. “We can split it later if you want. I’m actually not that hungry.”

Kokoro smiled at her and leaned back down to pick up the fallen bear. She wandered away back to the kitchen to presumably dispose of it and put the rabbit back.

It gave Misaki a moment to reflect on what had just happened to her. That, and how she would be letting moments like this one pass her by if she backed down now. She didn’t need fireworks or a parade or anything like that. She didn’t want those things. What she wanted now, was to get to know Kokoro for who she was. She was spoiled and a little different than everyone else, but she was kind.

Would it be worth it to risk a comfortable friendship for love?

The only way she could find out would be to act on it.

“Hey, Kokoro?”

Her head peeked out of the hall. “What’s up?”

“Wanna watch another movie together?”

“Yes!” Kokoro pumped her fist. “Let’s do it!”

Misaki stood and picked up her ruined sweater, tossing it in her laundry bin in the corner along with the last remnants of her apprehension.

“Get your laptop ready then.”

“Right now?”

“Right now.”

“Okay okay!”

Misaki shoved some of the mess on the floor away with her foot as Kokoro scrambled to retrieve her laptop from her bag. She propped it open on her knee and got to work finding something for them to watch, absolutely elated. Reaching across Kokoro’s bed, Misaki considered what she was doing one last time.

She wanted this. She wanted to know what would happen. If what she thought was happening was happening.

She flicked the fairy lights on.

Kokoro tossed her laptop on her bed and got to work sorting her pillows and stuffed toys, shoving things left and right to clear a comfortable space. Misaki made her way to the light switch and flicked it off, leaving only the soft glow above Kokoro’s bed.

When she turned around, she witnessed something she didn’t expect.

Kokoro had pulled a desk chair around and sat it beside the bed, right beside where Misaki had awkwardly sat the first time they’d done this. Maybe she wanted to keep the good mood going, and play into Misaki’s comforts. It was considerate. It also wasn’t exactly what Misaki had in mind.

Kokoro climbed into her bed and nestled herself under the blankets, pulling her laptop across her legs. The sound she made when Misaki shoved her chair out of the way was hard to describe. Surprise, and something else.

The duvet fluffed up as Misaki pulled it back and moved to get in after her. When her knee hit the impossibly soft sheets, she froze. What if Kokoro didn’t actually want this? What if she’d misread the chair thing?

Her brain shut up when Kokoro reached out and pulled her in, with stars in her eyes.

“Hey hey, don’t pull so hard! At least let me get all the way in!”

Kokoro let go and held the duvet out of the way while Misaki slid the rest of herself under it. Kokoro’s bed was so unbelievably comfortable that she didn’t know what to do with herself.

“God, you sleep on this?”

“It’s nice, right? I brought it from home.”

As Misaki moved around and propped herself up with a pillow beside Kokoro, she could feel her legs sinking into the fluffy pillow top. Chances of ever getting up for the rest of her life became slimmer and slimmer.

Kokoro snuggled in beside her and Misaki felt her face heat up. The butterflies in her stomach definitely weren’t going to settle all night. Beneath the sheets, their legs brushed together and it made Misaki’s skin tingle.

The grin spread across Kokoro’s face was the widest Misaki had ever seen it, and the lights above them made her eyes sparkle.

“Are you ready?”

Misaki nodded, but…

“Wait.”

“Hm?”

Kokoro squealed in delight as Misaki reached over and wrapped her arms around her waist. The time Misaki had left to hesitate had run out and all caution had been thrown to the four winds the moment that cupcake had hit the floor. Misaki pulled and dragged Kokoro towards her, over her knee as the sheets rustled and tangled around them.

When the movement stopped, Kokoro was nestled snugly between Misaki’s legs. She was bubbly and giggling as Misaki wrapped her arms around her middle, pulling her as close as she could.

Kokoro was so warm. And her hair smelled nice.

“Ready.” Misaki whispered into her ear, thankful her courage had returned to her at long last.

As the evening progressed, it was brought into question whether or not either of them were even paying attention to the movie at all. It was some animated thing Kokoro liked. All Misaki could think about was how it felt to sit with her, and how soft Kokoro’s hands were as they fiddled with her own around her waist. The lights above them cast speckled shadows along the sheets, and a soft glow across the curve of Kokoro’s cheek, which Misaki could just barely see from her seat behind her.

She could just lean forward a little, over Kokoro’s shoulder. It looked like a good place to rest her head.  Mostly, she wanted to know what the reaction might be if she did it, to figure out once and for all if it was happening. It sure felt like it was happening. There was always that sliver of doubt that never left, however.

She leaned forward and rested her chin on Kokoro’s shoulder. Her face could probably be likened to a tomato by now; it was as if she couldn’t stop herself. Hours ago she couldn’t even get started. Kokoro made her feel good, that was all that mattered right now.

Kokoro turned her head a little in Misaki’s direction.

“Are you even watching?”

Misaki smiled at her. “I’m distracted.”

“You’re the one who suggested a movie. Did you want to do something else?”

She could only shrug. Sure, she didn’t really care about the movie anymore, but if they did something else then maybe Kokoro would make her get up or something. That would be counterproductive.

Kokoro laughed. “I’m not really watching either. You’re comfy.”

If it were possible, Misaki was certain she’d reddened even further.

“Did you want to get up?” She asked Kokoro quietly, half hoping she wouldn’t hear.

“You’re a really confusing person, Misaki. If you don’t say what you want, then how am I supposed to know?”

“Hm?”

Kokoro pulled Misaki’s arms away then, and sat up on her knees. Misaki’s chin fell away from her shoulder and she wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do. The girl in her lap turned around to face her and grasped her shoulders with both hands. It was impossible to look anywhere but into her eyes. In the darkness, they shined.

“I’m pretty good at guessing though.”

Confusion crossed Misaki’s face for only a moment as Kokoro pushed her down until her back was flat against the mattress. The laptop tumbled across the blankets into a forgotten corner of the bed.

Misaki thought Kokoro was going to kiss her, she really did. That was where her mind went as she was loomed over. Anyone sane would tell her that couldn’t possibly happen so soon, she didn’t even know what they were. She hoped for it anyway.

What actually happened was almost as good. Kokoro lay down across her and pulled herself closer, stretching her arm lazily overtop of them and resting her head in the crook of Misaki’s neck.  Heat rushed to every inch of skin she brushed against, leaving Misaki more out of breath than she’d been in her entire life.

“Good?” Kokoro whispered, so very close to her ear, close enough that Misaki could feel her lips moving.

Above them, the fairy lights twinkled.  There was just so much to think about all at once. Visions of what she wanted to happen flashed before Misaki’s mind, and she wondered what might have happened if Kokoro really did kiss her. Even just laying together like this made her feel like a different person. Just who exactly did she want to become?

“Good.” She told Kokoro, another whisper in the darkness.

They sunk further into the mattress with every passing moment. Kokoro’s breathing slowed and softened, as if she were drifting away. But Misaki had something important to tell her before tomorrow came. Who knew what might happen, when reality came back.

“Kokoro, can I tell you something?”

The girl atop her let out a slow hum, nodding against Misaki’s shoulder.

“I think I… I just needed something like this. So thanks.”

Kokoro was silent for a short while, and Misaki considered that maybe she’d fallen asleep already. Or perhaps she was thinking.

As Misaki let her eyes drift closed, the response just barely made it to her ears.

“Sometimes you need something even when you think you don’t.”

There was nobody like Kokoro.

 

---

 

When Misaki woke up, she wasn’t entirely sure where she was. Well, she kind of knew. Kokoro was starfished on top of her, drooling a little on the pillow that was dangerously close to touching Misaki’s face.

For the most part she was comfortable, outside of the fact that she was still wearing the clothes she’d spent all of the previous day in. To her left, a sliver of sunlight stretched across the floor where the balcony curtains were parted an inch or so. She wrapped her arms around Kokoro’s middle and pondered what to do while the sleep slowly left her eyes.

What an odd feeling it was to wake up with someone in her arms. While it was a totally new concept to her, it also felt familiar in a weird sort of way, like she was finally sleeping at peak capacity. Like she was fully recharged now. It was just better, that’s all there was to it.

She realized then that neither of them had set any kind of alarm. Craning her neck, she did her best not to jostle Kokoro around as she sought out the digital clock that lived on her desk.

Past noon.

“Kokoro!” She whispered frantically. “Kokoro, wake up!”

She grabbed a shoulder and shook it lightly, but with urgency.

“Five more minuz…” Kokoro slured, very clearly not awake at all.

“No, not five more minutes! We slept for like twelve hours! Jesus, I skipped half my classes yesterday…”

She did her best to push herself up, and Kokoro did her best to weigh her down.

“Misakiii…” Kokoro mumbled, wrinkling her nose and groaning with obvious distaste.

“Come on, get up. Don’t you have perfect attendance or something?”

“Not anymorrre.” She continued to whine, looping her arms around Misaki’s neck as she was pulled upwards.

Misaki struggled for a bit as the typically energetic ray of sunshine on top of her became what was essentially dead weight, utterly refusing to cooperate. She wiggled herself into a sitting position with a great degree of difficulty and Kokoro slumped to the side, falling beside her on her back. She grumbled something about how mean Misaki was, rubbing at her eyes with two fists and frowning.

“You gotta get up. Come on, Kokoro.” Misaki urged her, surprisingly concerned about her education for once. It may or may not have had something to do with her hitting the absolute limit for skippable classes already.

“I don’t gotta. Just stay here.”

She opened her eyes. Misaki felt that fluttering inside herself again, struggling not to give in right then and there. She felt Kokoro grab her her arms, pulling her over until she was hovering above, hands sunk into impossibly fluffy sheets on either side of her.

“They’ll fail me if I keep skipping.”

Kokoro frowned again. “I’ll buy the whole campus and tell them no.”

“You’re crazy.”

“I’ll do it.” Kokoro threatened. “Do you think they want cash or a cheque?”

Misaki considered for a second that she might not be joking.

“I can’t tell if you’re serious or not.”

“I am if you get up.”

Misaki couldn’t muffle the short and sweet laugh that fell from her lips. “Where did this side of you come from?”

Kokoro pulled not so subtly on her arms, trying to bring her down. “Maybe you should spend more time with me and find out.”

She sounded so cool about the whole thing, like being flirty was no big deal. Misaki was still stuck on the idea that she was being flirted at to begin with. She felt like it couldn’t possibly be directed at her, which was completely stupid considering where they were and what they were doing.

“You’ve almost got me convinced. What time does normal-you check in?”

“This is normal me! You’re just always still asleep when I have to wake up.”

“Well,” Misaki picked her words carefully here, unsure if she wanted to win or lose whatever this was, “you’re pretty forward for someone who only has one friend.”

She became keenly aware of a pair of legs slowly rising up and twisting to wrap around her own. It was a struggle on Kokoro’s end, a very cute one. “I’ve read a lot of books and the internet is really interesting.”

“You know what else is interesting? Going to class.”

By now Kokoro must have realized Misaki’s heart just wasn’t in it and she’d already given up going. She’d stopped pulling and messing with their legs, doing nothing more than looking up to watch Misaki’s face.

“Wouldn’t it be more fun to stay here?” She offered.

Misaki wanted to close the distance between them so badly. Specifically between her lips and Kokoro’s, but the time didn’t feel right. Or, she was just embarrassed and making up reasons to not do the thing she wanted to do.

She sighed and lay back down anyway, letting Kokoro tangle them together. It was as if the threat of being failed didn’t matter suddenly, like everything she had ever been worried about was forgotten the second she sunk back into the luxurious sheets.

They faced each other, blanket pulled up to their necks and so close they were breathing the same air. If it were up to Misaki, they might not move for centuries. She snaked an arm behind Kokoro’s back.

“So. What should we do while we’re here?”

Kokoro looked contemplative and sleepy at the same time. Misaki suspected she really did just want to go back to sleep, but her reply proved otherwise.

“Tell me about what school was like.”

“You mean high school?”

Kokoro nodded, fiddling with the material of Misaki’s hoodie. There wasn’t a lot she could say to that.

“It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. I made some friends but I mostly kept to myself.”

“What was the funnest part?”

“Hmm.” Misaki closed her eyes for a moment. “Probably playing tennis. It was the only thing I felt like I was good at, until Sayo beat me to a pulp the first and only time she ever tried it.”

“Oh.” Kokoro blinked. “Is Sayo good at sports?”

“She’s not particularly sporty. Her twin sister is a prodigy though, so maybe some of it rubbed off on Sayo.”

“I see. It must be fun to have a twin, don’t you think?”

Misaki laughed. “Well, I guess it could be if you didn’t both disagree about most things. For them I don’t think it’s easy.”

“That’s a shame. Well, what else was fun at school?”

She really was fixated on the whole high school thing, wasn’t she?

“Honestly, I don’t remember a lot of it. Nothing remarkable happened. My parents divorced and I messed up a lot. I try not to think about it that much.”

“Hm.” Kokoro closed her eyes this time. Misaki wanted to touch her hair again. Wisps of gold brushed against her hands and her face, flowing around her. It was messy, shiny, and it smelled so nice.

“I almost went to high school, like you.” Kokoro told her, eyes still shut. “My parents decided last minute that it would be better if I had private lessons.”

“Oh? Where were you going to go?”

Kokoro opened her eyes. “Not even a private school. A girl’s one, Hanasakigawa. I remember it really well because we went to look at it when my parents were still thinking.”

Misaki opened her mouth, willing her words to come out and trying to wrap her brain around what could have been. What were the chances?

“That’s where I went.” She pushed out.

What a world it was. What a world it might have been. Would she have hated Kokoro then too? Loved her?

Kokoro was smiling. “Wouldn’t that have been interesting. If we were able to meet sooner.”

Misaki didn’t want to dwell on the ‘“what ifs”, because there were things she didn’t know if she wanted answers to. Life could have re-written itself in a universe where Kokoro sat next to her in class, happy and shining, probably a lot like she was now. Everything had already played out though, and they were here now.

“Do you feel like you’re making up for lost time?” Kokoro asked her.

Before Misaki could figure out what she meant, her phone began vibrating across from them on her desk. They both glanced over at it and did nothing while it buzzed. As if Misaki would get out of bed just for a phone call. What if it was her parents? She let it ring.

As soon as it stopped, it began again.

Misaki groaned and rubbed at her eyes. It might be important. Or it could be Moca, with a perfectly timed interruption. She stood up slowly, dragging Kokoro to the edge of the bed reluctantly. She let go just before she fell out.

Tempted to chuck her phone out the window, Misaki instead read the caller ID flashing on the screen. Sayo?

“Hello?”

“Where are you?” Sayo asked her in her hall monitor voice.

“What do you mean? Where are you?” That was a stupid question, because of course Sayo was in class.

“I’m where you should be. You missed two classes this morning. Is something wrong?”

It was nice that Sayo was concerned, she rarely showed it. Unfortunately, it would be annoying to explain why she was still lying in bed. A simplified version would be good enough for now.

Misaki looked over at Kokoro, who was staring at her intently.

“Nothing’s wrong. I just have something more important to do at the moment.”

“They’ll fail you. I suggest you hurry up and come to class, we can’t all keep looking out for you when you do things like this,” Sayo lectured. Honestly, none of that mattered at the moment. There was something in the air that told Misaki she was finally making the right decision for once in her life.

“No, Kokoro will buy the school,” Misaki replied, as if that explained anything.

“What?”

“I’ll see you later.”

When she hung up Kokoro burst out laughing, likely having guessed what they were talking about over the phone. Misaki couldn’t help but laugh with her a little.

“So you believe me?”

“About the school? Maybe.” Misaki made her way back to the bed and climbed back in, lying down to face Kokoro. There really were more important things to do. She just wasn’t sure what they were yet. What would Kokoro want?

That was still something she was flip flopping over. Not because it wasn’t obvious, but because she didn’t know exactly what she was supposed to do yet. How did these kinds of things work? Do you sit down and talk about your feelings? A dramatic confession? That didn’t exactly feel necessary. They didn’t know enough about each other yet.

There was one thing Kokoro loved that Misaki already knew she could tolerate.

“Did you want to listen to music?”

Kokoro sat up in a flash and nodded vigorously, crawling across the bed to reach for the old walkman on her desk. She paused to look through her CDs, still sat on the shelf where her books were meant to go, and very carefully pulled out a blank CD case with an equally blank CD inside, visible through the clear cover.

Interesting.

“What’s this?” Misaki asked her, watching as she made her way back across the bed. Kokoro didn’t reply, busy tucking herself back under the blankets and rolling onto her stomach. Misaki copied her, rolling over and inching sideways until their shoulders touched.

She watched Kokoro fiddle with the CD, popping it in the player and untangling her headphones. She handed one to Misaki.

The voice she heard was familiar. It was strong, melodious, and not something Misaki wouldn’t listen to if she ever came across it. What a contrast it was from what they’d listened to before. Kokoro was watching her as she liked to, but this time she looked more like she was searching for something. Or studying, or waiting for something.

When the chorus came around, it hit Misaki.

“This is you,” she said to Kokoro.

“Nobody else has listened yet except the suits who helped me rent a studio for a day,” Kokoro grinned at her, “I’m glad you could tell.”

“If I sounded like this I’d say fuck my degree and start a band. What’s it called?”

“Shocking Blue. I’d love to start a band!” Kokoro nudged her shoulder, “except it took me almost a year to write this. I’m really bad at that part, I can’t make my ideas right.”

“If I could write songs, I’d write them for you.”

Misaki meant that. She wished she could. It was a crime to lock Kokoro away behind whatever family business it was that they had. Talent gone to waste.

Kokoro gave her a soft look. Something uncommon between her high and low energies that made Misaki’s heart flutter. She wished she could say something, anything, about the song or the music, but she just didn’t know enough. The only thing that was clear as day to her was that this song was something Kokoro treasured. A part of her that Misaki could have for herself.

In the hours that followed, Misaki pondered intensely over the first instance of motivation she’d had since she started high school.

Maybe it wasn’t too late to start over.

 

---

 

At some point, they mutually decided to get up and go to their last classes of the day. Kokoro skipped off happily while Misaki wondered if she really was on the shitlist for missing so many lectures. Her afternoon classes were the ones she missed the least, if that meant anything. Regardless, it was a problem for later.

When they found each other again afterward, Misaki regained the ability to hold hands with another human. Kokoro talked her ear off as they walked across campus, and when they ran into everyone else they got all manner of questionable expressions.

Arisa’s gaze was narrow and directed at only Misaki, as if she was still expecting her to regress into moron mode. Moca laughed, and Sayo did that thing where she pretended she wasn’t looking or caring but really she was doing both at the same time. Maya still seemed out of the loop. Everything felt right again, except good instead of steadily miserable. Misaki couldn’t explain it to herself or to anyone.

It was cheesy and gross but she felt like maybe, just maybe, she was finally slipping into the place she belonged.

She wanted to ask Arisa if that was what love felt like. Not enough to actually say anything to her of course. That would be embarrassing with Kokoro standing right there, after all.

They split off and walked back to the dorms, the same way they did when they weren’t holding hands. They went about the evening as was typical, with Misaki focused on her homework and Kokoro focused on trying to get Misaki to not do her homework. Just because Misaki liked her didn’t mean she wasn’t still completely annoying, or a bit of a spoiled brat. That was something she would have to learn to work around until she had a chance to ground her lovely… lovely… girlfriend? That sounded like too much. They hadn’t even discussed it. Where they stood wasn’t all that clear.

What was clear as day (as the night approached) was that Misaki had no interest in sleeping in her own bed. Sleeping in Kokoro’s bed had been like sleeping on a cloud stuffed with wads of cash or something ridiculous like that. It was just that good . She couldn’t recall having sleep as sound as what she had last night in her entire life.

Also, Kokoro. She could no longer deny that being close with her was extremely appealing.  Whatever they were didn’t really matter all that much if Kokoro let her in.

Said girl waltzed out of the washroom, in a big neon yellow shirt that covered what Misaki already knew were panties and nothing else. This time, it meant something. It had to. Unless Kokoro didn’t really know what she was doing. Misaki felt her cheeks burn while here eyes got away from her, trailing down Kokoro’s legs.

Kokoro laughed, snapping Misaki out of her thoughts. Maybe she could stand to be a little less obvious. Orrr…

“Did you-”

“Do you -”

They spoke over each other at the same time, Misaki much more flustered than the girl across from her. She stood up.

“You first,” Kokoro told her, holding her hands behind her back.

“Uh,” Misaki began dumbly, “last night was. Nice. So, you know.”

Tonight it seemed Misaki was ready to reveal her more bashful side, with a dash of her typical social awkwardness. There were reasons she didn’t see herself as an appealing person.

“Do I know?” Kokoro laughed again. “You can say anything, it’s just me.”

It was just Kokoro. She was as pure as humans came.

“Your bed?” Misaki asked her, in fewer words than she’d planned. Yesterday she’d found it inside herself to be so assertive, and now she was a nervous mess again but for different reasons. She’d never been so physically close to anyone before. She wanted to be close to Kokoro though. So much so that it even surprised herself how much she wanted it.

She smelled good and felt good, especially when they were so close together. The thought alone warmed Misaki’s entire body in seconds.

Kokoro smiled and nodded, a signal for Misaki to wander away in a stupor and throw on her nightwear. When she came back from her turn in the washroom, flicking off the light on her way, she was greeted by the fairy lights and a mess of golden locks tucked snugly under soft and fluffy sheets.

The duvet felt cool to the touch even though her skin was hot, and she had to stop herself from throwing the covers back too quickly to get in. She tried to settle her heartbeat, unsure about why she was drawn in so suddenly to Kokoro like a magnet. She was excited, she knew. But she was so excited, and that was something different.

Across from them, Misaki’s own bed sat cold and empty.

Kokoro pulled her in, wrapping her arms around Misaki’s back. They sank down together, and Misaki was acutely aware of their bare legs brushing against each other. She felt like she was supposed to move and pull them away, but instead the girl attached to her tangled them together, giggling all the while.

“You’re so warm! I won’t need a heater in the winter anymore.”

Misaki felt a weird lump form in the back of her throat. There were so many implications behind those words, and none of them were unwelcome.

“You should turn off the lights,” Misaki told her, mostly because the darkness would hide her burning face.

Kokoro nodded and reached out for the little switch. Darkness enveloped them, and yet still Misaki swore Kokoro was shining. Not literally glowing or anything. She just stood out, even in the dark. Wrapped together, they settled.

Misaki could feel Kokoro’s gentle, steady breathing against her neck. She was probably legitimately ready to sleep, while Misaki’s eyes were wide open as she let herself indulge in the attention. Kokoro was wrapped around her on purpose . Kokoro was holding her. She wanted to share a bed. She wanted .

How badly, exactly, did she want?

“Kokoro,” Misaki found herself whispering quietly.

The pillow they shared rustled as Kokoro turned her head upwards. “Hm?”

“How do you feel about me?”

Misaki felt a shrug against her chest. “Pretty good? Why?”

She wished she could bring her palm to her forehead, but her hands were busy hugging Kokoro at the moment.

“No no, I mean like…” she trailed off. How was she supposed to explain this? “I mean, is there anything you feel that’s only for me?”

There. Hopefully that was enough.

Kokoro moved her leg up and down, brushing together with Misaki’s. “Well, there are a lot of feelings I have that are only for you. Sometimes I get annoyed because you’re so gloomy.”

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. I think also, that there’s a certain kind of happiness for you, and sadness when you tell me about things that make you upset. There are all kinds of feelings I have that are just yours.”

Misaki frowned, unsure about what to do. “And that’s it?”

She felt Kokoro’s fists pull at the back of her tank top.

“Well…” Kokoro went on, “it’s hard to tell what I feel. Sometimes it doesn’t seem real.”

“I don’t really understand what you mean. More than usual.”

“Sometimes I think we were meant to meet. I want to be closer with you than anyone else. It doesn’t seem fair when I think of it like that, because I want to be close with everyone.”

Misaki could feel her heart beating against her ribcage.

“I feel like I used up all my luck meeting someone who wants to spend time with me, after being alone for so long. You were my first friend. So I think to myself, what are the chances?”

So they were both standing in the same square. Misaki found it hard to imagine that Kokoro would have had any kind of inner turmoil about her, and yet here she was, taking the words right out of Misaki’s mouth before she could even think of them. It was chance. Maybe.

Misaki leaned in, until she could almost feel Kokoro’s words on her lips.

“Do you think it’s love?” she asked, as her eyelids sunk lower and sleep pulled at her drifting mind.

Small hands, gentle and soft, rose up from the sheets and cupped Misaki’s cheeks. Misaki wanted to kiss her.

Not yet.

Kokoro’s fingers danced against her skin.

“I hope it is.”

 

---



When Misaki awoke at a time that might have been the morning, or it might have not, she decided to take in the view and enjoy what she had.

Curled in her arms was Kokoro, fast asleep and making barely a sound at all. Her hair was tangled, sticking out every which way, and wrapped around everything including Misaki’s arm. She stared and stared, across rosy cheeks, a soft rounded nose, and pink, pink lips. She looked so peaceful, and in the silence she only stood out even more.

This was the girl she’d met one day who spun around in her chair, talked in a strange way and thought so differently than anyone else did. She was set apart, an anomaly in Misaki’s life that she would never have expected, not in a million years. She was Kokoro, and there was nobody else like her.

Slowly, Misaki’s hand found its way to the curve of Kokoro’s hip, where her shirt had ridden up. It was so easy to just touch her, to feel the heat that built between them and under skin. She was careful, not wanting to wake her up just yet. It was as if she were holding something delicate, touching something that had become precious to her so quickly in a way she couldn’t comprehend.

She lay there, running her hand leisurely up and down Kokoro’s side, inching her shirt up a little further each time. There wasn’t really a lot of consideration behind her actions, other than that she wanted touch. The kind of touch she wanted didn’t really matter, at this point it was all the same to her. It was something she never really had, and now she did.

In her mind, she wondered if Kokoro would think the same of her. Wondered if she would wake up and feel the pull as well. She wanted Kokoro to let her write songs for her to sing. She didn’t know the first thing about writing music. There would be a lot to learn.

Something from deep inside Misaki overwhelmed her, washing over her like a wave. Urgency, desire, and everything else she had ever repressed came pouring out in her actions as she reached out with both arms and pulled Kokoro in as close as she could, hugging her as if she would float away if she wasn’t tethered down. Misaki buried her head in messy gold hair.

Kokoro stirred. As wakefulness came around, she groaned a little but returned the embrace nonetheless.

“Mhm. Misaki?”

Do you feel like you’re making up for lost time?

Kokoro’s words had never left her. She had to catch up. For the sake of herself, and what she needed. Selfishness be damned, she’d never wanted anything so badly before.

She pulled back as Kokoro’s eyes flickered open.

“Gmornin’,” Kokoro told her with tired words.

Silence was all Misaki could come up with as she raised a hand to run it though Kokoro’s wild hair. Her thumb grazed a heated cheek, and swept up behind a reddening ear. They were somewhere else, far away. Misaki thought her heart was going to burst right out of her chest.

When Kokoro smiled, Misaki kissed her.

An invisible forced pushed her, clumsy yet confident against Kokoro’s lips. Her eyes blinked shut and it wasn’t at all like she expected it to be. It wasn’t like before, not like the first time. This time, with Kokoro, she felt heat everywhere. Kokoro made a surprised noise, kissing her back anyway, warming her just as fast as her relief was cooling her down. Any tension between them was swept away as they pulled each other closer for those first few moments.

Something Misaki had never felt before flooded through her as they separated. It wasn’t enough. They weren’t close enough, and she needed more.

Kokoro barely took a full breath before Misaki pulled her back in for another warm kiss. And another. And then another, and so many she didn’t want to bother keeping count. Kokoro writhed beside her, sighing and cooing and making all kinds of noises as Misaki captured her lips over and over. She felt like she just couldn’t get enough. She wanted everything all at once, she could barely breathe and there was sweat running down her back.

Kokoro forced them apart and pushed her away.

“Misaki, slow down!”

She blinked and sucked in air one pant at a time, realizing at last that the hands she was gripping Kokoro’s shirt with were shaking. Her heartbeat, strong and loud, pounded in her ears.

“I’m sorry,” she rushed out, voice shaky and cracked.

“No,” Kokoro tightened her arms around Misaki’s waist. “I’m glad you want to kiss me a lot, but you gotta let me breathe!”

Misaki kissed her again despite that, like she wasn’t in control of herself. But of course she was, her feelings were just getting away from her as they were bound to do one day.

She leaned away, already pulling Kokoro back in, until hands gripped the sides of her face and held her back.

“Misaki!” she whispered, sharply this time. “I’m not going anywhere! You’re going so fast I can hardly even feel it, you know!”

Shaking her head, Misaki willed herself to stop shaking. It was her responsibility to be considerate of Kokoro, who had probably never even kissed anyone before in her life. She was meant to enjoy it too, even through the inexplicable and sudden pressure Misaki felt to do everything at once.

“Sorry,” Misaki repeated, anything else she might have said escaping her.

Kokoro laughed, keeping hold of Misaki’s face as she took over and pulled her close.

“I… I-I need,” words struggled on the tip of Misaki’s tongue, failing to come out the right way.

Gentle lips silenced hers, and she let herself be taken away. When it was Kokoro doing the kissing, kissing her, it was so overwhelmingly better. This time it was slow, long and drawn out as Kokoro took her turn to explore. It still wasn’t enough to quell the rising heat inside her. She nudged Kokoro’s lips with her tongue until she took the hint and parted them.

From here on out, it was new territory for both of them. Misaki was worried, somewhere in the far corners of her distracted brain, that she would be too inexperienced, or that she’d mess up in some way and Kokoro would run away from her. It wasn’t very common that someone her age had never kissed like this, right? She hesitated once Kokoro opened her mouth, a flash of anxiety overshadowing her desire.

Luckily Kokoro had no such qualms, and happily took the lead with a content sigh. She knew even less than Misaki did about what they were doing, but she clearly wasn’t paying it any mind. She found Misaki’s tongue with her own and they both gasped into each other. Misaki’s eyes squeezed shut even tighter and she shook as she felt Kokoro’s tongue against the roof of her mouth.

They kissed a while longer while Misaki calmed herself down, losing herself in Kokoro’s taste and scent as they came together again and again. Even then, she still wanted more. She just didn’t know how much she would be allowed to take.

One of her hands found its way to the hem of Kokoro’s oversized shirt, now ridden up just past her belly button. She gripped it, fingers brushing against the bare skin beneath. Kokoro stopped what she was doing and looked into Misaki’s eyes, smiling as her arms moved to wrap around her neck.

“You said you needed something?”

Her fist tightened around the material, mind racing and heart pounding.

“Why do you love me?” Misaki asked her, hardly knowing why she did it.

Kokoro giggled, gazing at her fondly. She let go of Misaki and pushed herself up, shoving the sheets away and stretching a leg out over her until she was straddling her waist. It was impossible to ignore how little she was wearing by then, especially when her shirt was still crumpled and bunched up around her middle. Her panties were bright red and Misaki couldn’t tear her eyes away.

She trailed a hand across Misaki’s stomach, over her tank top.

“Why do you love me ?” she turned the question back on Misaki. “I’m not the same as everyone else. Sometimes people say there are things wrong with me.”

“There’s nothing wrong with you,” Misaki fired back as fast as she could. She used to think the same, after all. Now she knew that Kokoro was just Kokoro. “There’s nobody like you.”

Kokoro leaned down and kissed her. “There’s nobody like you either,” she whispered.

Misaki pulled at the hem of Kokoro’s shirt again. The burning sensation below her stomach wasn’t going to leave anytime soon.

“I don’t really know how to do this,” Kokoro told her, grinning all the while.

“This…” Misaki began, “this is… we probably shouldn’t be doing this. We haven’t done anything else.”

She was fighting with herself internally, desire threatening to overtake rationality. In the end, this entire thing was getting a little crazy. Everything became so hot so fast, and anyone else would tell them they were going much too quickly.

“Is there something else we’re supposed to do first?”

“Y-yeah,” Misaki stuttered with a still shaking voice. “A d-date or something. All that stuff.”

Kokoro flashed her a confused look. “How come? Who says we have to do that?”

In spite of what she was arguing, Misaki was very slowly moving her hips as best she could to press against where Kokoro was sat across her. She was just right there, and Misaki was on fire everywhere they were touching. She’d never felt anything like it.

“I-it’s not…” she pressed forward, heart jumping when Kokoro’s hand brushed across hers, the one still gripping the bright yellow shirt. “I mean, I’ve never done this either.”

Her free hand wandered, sliding across Kokoro’s thigh. It didn’t seem to matter what she said, the rest of her was busy doing something else.

“Have you even kissed anyone before?”

Kokoro shook her head. “Just you. It would be nice to catch up on all the other things I’ve missed, though.”

Misaki’s hand tightened around her thigh, fingers pressing into the pink, pink skin. Kokoro sucked in a breath.

“Are… are you sure you want to do this with me ?”

At that, Kokoro rolled her eyes. “I know what sex is, Misaki. Didn’t you just say you needed this?”

She had. Or, she’d started to say it, and then chickened out. Admit what you want, the Kokoro in her head told her. It’s okay to say it.

Luckily, she had her very own real Kokoro now, who could read her like a book and figure out what she needed before she even knew.

Misaki’s grip on the shirt’s hem loosened and fell away as Kokoro reached down and pulled it up, up and up and over her stomach and her chest, and then over her head until she was bare. She tossed it to the floor unceremoniously and stared directly into Misaki’s eyes.

Eyes jumping all over the place, Misaki let her mouth hang open. She didn’t know what to look at first. There was so much naked skin, so much to take in. Kokoro was slim, her stomach flat with the cutest hint of a belly button. She also happened to be blessed where Misaki was modest, and Misaki wanted to scold herself for staring right at them. But Kokoro was her… girlfriend, right? She was her something. So she was allowed.

Kokoro leaned down, hands coming to rest on either side of Misaki’s head. Still, Misaki held herself back, unable to bring herself to touch the girl who hung over her so casually while she was essentially naked. Clothes being removed was not enough permission for her to do what she wanted to do. The heat between her legs intensified as Kokoro moved her hips against Misaki’s.

“If you need it,” Kokoro gazed at her softly, strands of her hair falling across Misaki’s face, “you can take it.”

Love, Misaki thought to herself. How she’d missed it.

She wove a hand through Kokoro’s hair and pulled her down to kiss her again. There were no rules. Only them, and they could do what they wanted.

Her tongue pushed past Kokoro’s lips while her other hand flew up her side, until it came to rest against the gentle rise of a bare breast. She swallowed a noise of delight from Kokoro as her fingers inched their way up, brushing across a hardening nipple and pressing into the smooth skin around it.

Kokoro’s hands were busy holding herself up, and Misaki needed to rectify that. She stopped what she was doing and grabbed Kokoro’s waist, pushing herself away from the mattress until they were both sat upright, Kokoro still resting in her lap and all without breaking the kiss.

She pulled away for only a second before leaning back in, pulling Kokoro’s tongue into her mouth and letting her hands explore again. She wasn’t sure if she was doing it right, but judging by the sounds Kokoro was making, she was enjoying it regardless.

Small hands tugged at the bottom of her tank top. The aching need to feel Kokoro’s skin against hers blocked out any of the embarrassment she might usually feel, and she ripped her shirt off over her head as fast as her hands could manage. She didn’t hesitate before wrapping her arms around Kokoro’s back and pulling them together, skin flush against skin. It felt good. Almost too good.

When she finally brought herself to rip her lips from Kokoro’s, she dove in for her neck right away. She heard Kokoro’s surprised gasp and felt her hands weaving through the back of her hair, pulling her in. Kokoro Kokoro Kokoro, it was all about Kokoro. It didn’t matter than she’d never done this before. She wanted to take, and to her, that meant giving.

She picked a spot and sucked skin into her mouth, knowing full well what she was doing. When she was done with Kokoro, everyone would know.

Or maybe, it was when Kokoro was done with her.

Arms shoved her away, forcing her back down to the sheets. She didn’t have time to protest, Kokoro’s mouth was already hot on her neck, kissing and sucking and everything in between. She was good at everything else as far as Misaki knew, so why wouldn’t she be good at this too?

She cried out when Kokoro’s hands found her breasts, a little hasty but confident nonetheless. It didn’t really seem to matter how Kokoro touched her, anything and everything fanned the flames at this point.

Her knee jerked upwards as Kokoro discovered pinching hard things was good, and she felt the dampness of Kokoro’s panties press against her thigh. Kokoro’s lips separate from her skin as she gasped and buried her head in Misaki’s neck.

“You’re okay?” Misaki found herself asking, barely able to get the words out. It just felt right to ask. Kokoro was hers to look after now.

“Y-yeah. Everything feels so good,” Kokoro breathed into her skin. “We should do this all the time.”

Misaki could barely wrap her mind around the fact that they were having sex right now, never mind that Kokoro was already thinking about all the time.

Kokoro sat up suddenly, scooting back until she was sat in between Misaki’s legs. Wasting no time, she tugged at the waistband of Misaki’s shorts and gave her a questioning look. Misaki wasn’t sure she’d ever seen anything as attractive as this before, not even in her imagination. A beautiful, glowing, mostly naked girl sat between her legs, eager to ditch whatever clothes they had left on between them and give her what she wanted.

She raised her hips off the bed and Kokoro hooked her fingers under both her shorts and her boxers, pulling them down in one smooth motion. She barely got them off before she was left staring, leaving Misaki to turn a bright, hot red. Kokoro was blushing too, though it didn’t seem to affect her much if at all.

“Um, Misaki?”

“Yeah?” Misaki croaked out. She wasn’t all that interested in talking at the moment.

“I know like, what to do. But I don’t know what to do ,” she gestured at Misaki with her hands. “How do I, uh…”

The open air made Misaki shiver. She was struggling to form coherent thoughts, nevermind a coherent answer to the question.

“Touch,” she squeezed past her lips. “Anything is good.”

It wasn’t like anyone had ever touched her but herself, anyway. It probably wouldn’t matter what Kokoro did.

Her theory proved to be true when Kokoro tentatively reached out, running a single digit up her slit from bottom to top, just barely missing the sensitive nub that Misaki desperately wanted her to touch. It took the breath from her lungs anyway, leaving her wanting for more and more.

“It’s pretty wet down here,” Kokoro told her without a hint of shame. Misaki covered her eyes.

“D-don’t say things like that. And don’t stop.”

Kokoro smiled at her and moved herself into a more comfortable position, leaning half away over Misaki and supporting herself with one arm while her other traveled back down between Misaki’s legs. Misaki peeked through her hands, eye’s meeting Kokoro’s as she started touching her again, evidently more sure of herself this time.

Up and down her hand went, spreading the slickness that just wouldn’t stop coming. She wasn’t doing much besides rubbing; still it was enough to bring gasps to Misaki’s lips. Kokoro was touching her, and they’d kissed, and they were naked, and it was just all so much. There was no time for moderation here.

“Kokoro.”

“Hm?” Kokoro looked at her without stopping, eyes dreamy and half-lidded in the darkness.

Misaki thought for a moment, and then decided that rather than explaining what she wanted, it would be more effective to show her.

She reached down between them and grabbed Kokoro’s hand, lining up their fingers and repositioning her. She fumbled a bit as she went, nervous and not getting there fast enough. When she lined them up at last, she pressed her middle finger forward, inching Kokoro’s own finger into her wet opening.

“Oh, I get it,” Kokoro looked down between them, taking over and watching her finger disappear into Misaki.

“Go slowly,” Misaki instructed, resting both hands on Kokoro’s hips. She had no idea if she’d be able to handle this, even though it was something she’d done with herself before. The fact that someone else - that Kokoro was doing it - was enough to drench the sheets below them.

Kokoro heeded her, working her finger in almost too slowly. Misaki breathed out as she pushed forward, holding in her gasps as best she could. It felt amazing, and it was still embarrassing.

When Kokoro finally had her finger in up to the knuckle, she carefully slid it back out, and then slowly back in. Back out, and back in, again and again, slowly like Misaki had asked her to. She looked up, clearly searching Misaki’s face for a reaction.

The feeling was something she couldn’t describe. It was so good to just feel her, and take everything in, one second after another, one pump at a time. Her hips pushed upwards, trying to pull Kokoro’s finger in even deeper if she could.

“A little more,” Misaki gasped.

Thankfully Kokoro was able to work out that she meant ‘go faster’, and she picked up the pace.

“Ahh! Ko-ko- mhm,” she could barely contain herself, overflowing with pleasure and an indescribable fondness for the girl who gave it to her. She gave and gave and gave, her passion for the happiness of others blending so obviously into her feelings for Misaki.

There was something in her eyes, Misaki thought, a glimmer that set her apart from everyone else.

“You’re really beautiful,” Kokoro’s hushed voice pulled her back in. “I wanted to tell you right now.”

A new wave of warmth flowed through Misaki from head to toe at her words. She couldn’t stand to look away from Kokoro’s face, her eyes, her lips, her everything. She was so honest.

“So are you,” Misaki whispered back between her gasps.

“I thought you hated me,” Kokoro didn’t stop pumping her hand all the while.

“So did I.”

Misaki reached her hand down between them, brushing against Kokoro’s arm on her way. She wanted to touch her back so badly that she didn’t even bother with teasing, or anything like that. Kokoro sucked in a sharp gasp as Misaki shoved her hand down the front of her panties, pressing a finger into her folds and caressing, searching through the wetness.

Kokoro’s knees shook and nearly buckled, barely keeping her balanced as she tried her best to focus on what she wanted to do.

Trying to ignore what Kokoro was doing to her was nearly impossible, but she was determined to do this together with her. She felt around blindly until she felt her middle finger sink inwards. The awkward angle didn’t stop her from pushing forward, Kokoro crying out as she entered her and fumbling her own ministrations for a brief moment.

Somehow, Kokoro kept her pace as Misaki started hers, pumping in and out of Kokoro until she could match the rhythm they had.

“I was- ahh - I was going to leave. Switch rooms,” Misaki broke through her cries and gasps.

It was such a relief to tell her. To admit that she’d been wrong the whole time, that she’d been unfair and now she wanted to make it up in every way she could think of.

“Y-you hated me that m-much?” Kokoro’s voice was shaking now, her words slurring together as she struggled to keep up while Misaki’s finger pumped in and out of her. Her hips shook with every word, bucking and grinding uncontrollably into Misaki’s hand.

“No,” Misaki breathed. “I’ve just never b-been in love before.”

Kokoro surged downward and Misaki barely had time to brace herself before she was swept away in a breathtaking kiss that made her forget what they were even talking about. Everything around her disappeared, except for the feeling of Kokoro’s tongue in her mouth and the drive to keep her finger moving.

She felt Kokoro pick up speed, breaking from the steady rhythm and moving erratically against Misaki’s center. Breath gone from her, Misaki struggled to match her while her hips twitched and jerked around, searching for something to push against.

Something inside her was building up rapidly, faster than she could handle. Everything ached in the best way. Her stomach, her breasts, her naked skin, her tongue, everything that Kokoro touched screamed for pressure and release all at the same time.

It all came together when Kokoro sucked her tongue into her mouth and crashed their hips together at the same time, grinding and moaning into Misaki as hard as she could. Kokoro’s thumb pressed into her clit and the world exploded while she did her best to return the favour, sure she found her target when Kokoro pulled her lips away and shouted her name.

They shook together, grabbing and pulling and pushing themselves against each other as the sensation peaked and then passed, leaving them breathing hard and fast in the darkness.

With Kokoro’s face buried into her neck and the taste of her still lingering in her mouth, Misaki wasn’t sure she’d ever been happier.

For a while they lay there, basking in the afterglow and waiting for their breathing to return to normal. Misaki felt the hotness in her skin slowly drift away, leaving her cool and more relaxed than she’d been in what felt like years.

A short time later, Kokoro stirred and moved to prop her chin up with her hand, resting her arm on Misaki’s chest. When they locked eyes again, she burst out laughing.

Misaki couldn’t help but giggle a little with her, contagious as she was. She wrapped her arms around Kokoro’s waist and revelled in the feeling of holding her.

“What’s so funny?”

Kokoro took a second to compose herself. “You,” she poked Misaki’s nose with her free hand.

“Me?”

“You,” Kokoro confirmed. “It’s just funny, don’t you think?”

Misaki sighed, smiling anyway. “You’ll have to be specific.”

“You hated me so much you wanted to leave, but now we had sex.”

Misaki snorted and did her best to look away, feeling her blush coming back to her.

“You don’t have to… say it like that.”

“But it’s true!” Kokoro insisted, poking Misaki’s cheek. “That’s what happened!”

“Yeah yeah, I get it!” Misaki squeezed her hips.

They quieted down for a while, Misaki still looking off into the corner and pretending she wasn’t mortified by the conclusion Kokoro had come to. It wasn’t like she was wrong, it just made Misaki sound stupid. Probably because she was, from time to time.

Below the drapes, light crept in from outside.

The sun stretched across the floor beneath them, a thin line cutting through the dark of the room. As was usual, it wasn’t anywhere near as bright as the girl spread out across her chest.

As her eyes traced the fragment of light, Kokoro’s voice broke through.

“Aren’t you glad it turned out this way?”

Misaki turned her head back to face Kokoro. Honestly, what a dumb question that was.

She kissed her, a better answer than words could ever give.

 

---

 

Misaki sat at her desk, trying and failing to focus on her homework. The faster she got it done, the faster she could do something else. Preferably the girl spinning around in the chair behind her, who was preoccupied with yelling into her phone about how totally amazing her brand new girlfriend was.

The first thing she’d wanted to do once they sat down and sorted out what they were was call her parents to tell them about it.

It wasn’t really all that thrilling of a concept to Misaki, but listening to her now, she understood why Kokoro was so excited to talk her mother in circles about her new favourite thing in the whole world.

Those were Kokoro’s words, not hers, when she was describing her new partner over the phone. Misaki was Kokoro’s favourite thing, and that was something special.

“She’s super grumpy! Like, Kokoro, don’t do that, clean your room, don’t get toothpaste on the floor!”

Misaki wrinkled her nose. Alright, so maybe they still had their differences. Those weren’t about to go away any time soon.

“It’s nice that she tells me no though. I know it’s cause she cares about me.”

That was true. She was responsible, and she would help Kokoro look after herself if she had to. Maybe she even wanted to.

“She’s also really really pretty, like you won’t believe it. I got really lucky! And she’s smart, she always knows how to figure things out, even if it takes a long time.”

Misaki blushed. She probably wouldn’t ever get used to being told she was pretty.

“She’s a hard worker too, I can tell. Like the kind of person who wants to do her best at what she loves. Also she caught me when I jumped out of a tree.”

Again with the tree thing?

“I’ll bring her to visit on break. She lives in Tokyo too, isn’t that great! And we almost went to the same school and…”

Misaki sighed, smiling anyway. She liked to think that not much had changed since she pulled her head out of her ass and made out with a girl, but pretty much everything had. Mostly for the better.

Their (yes, both of them) friends had been happy and the ‘I told you so’s had only persisted for about a week before they moved on to making fun of Misaki about other things, in a good natured way. Mostly it was about the hickies, which were hard to hide when you had a lot of them.

When Kokoro said they should… well, you know… all the time, she’d apparently meant it. She did like to do fun things as often as possible, Misaki supposed. A positive side effect was the absence of stress and anything related to it. She just felt relaxed almost all of the time, when she wasn’t dealing with some of Kokoro’s less appealing traits.

She was still a little slow and didn’t quite have the social etiquette required to interact with people she didn’t know, but Misaki loved her anyway. They still had a lot to learn if they were going to make it work.

Misaki heard Kokoro say her goodbyes and hung up, spinning around in her chair to face her.

Kokoro grinned as Misaki gestured for her to come over to her. Wordlessly she stood and walked the few steps to Misaki’s chair, climbing into her lap and wrapping her arms around her neck. Misaki breathed her in, content to recharge for a while.

After a moment, she felt Kokoro nudge her shoulder.

“Misaki, what’s this?”

She turned to see what Kokoro was pointing at. It was a new book she’d found in the school’s library, something she was determined to make good use of in the very near future. She reached out and grabbed it, handing it to Kokoro with a smile on her face.

Composition for Beginners.

She had a lot of catching up to do.