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“Hey, Kanamori-san,” Mizusaki speaks up from where she lies on the ottoman, propping herself up on her elbows as she tilts her head to look over at Kanamori.

Kanamori lifts an eyebrow, crossing one of her legs over the other and leaning towards Mizusaki. “What is it?”

“I’ve been wondering,” she says, pursing her lips for a moment before continuing, “Does it bother you when I touch you?” She swallows thickly, talking again before Kanamori can even comprehend her question: “It’s just, I noticed you telling me to stop before, so I wanted to apologize for being clingy. I can cut it out if it bothers you.”

Kanamori blinks. “What?” she asks, her head falling to one side. “No, I don’t care.”

“Oh,” Mizusaki breathes, averting her gaze. “Uh, okay.”

They’re quiet for awhile then, the only sounds in the clubroom being Asakusa’s constant muttering coming from her desk and the spinning of the fans. As Kanamori’s gaze lingers on Mizusaki, though, Mizusaki fidgets a bit with the edges of the notebook she’s holding and doesn’t attempt to work on anything.

And, well, Kanamori can’t have that. She lets out a long sigh and gets up from the couch, her skirt swishing around her legs as she stands. She cracks all the knuckles on one hand to get Mizusaki’s attention before she walks over to her and says, “Sit up.”

Mizusaki looks up at Kanamori with wide eyes but obeys after a moment, swinging her legs so her feet touch the floor and she sits facing Kanamori, her face even with Kanamori’s stomach. Kanamori promptly leans down, wrapping her arms around Mizusaki’s torso in some sort of attempt at a hug. It’s not exactly awkward, but Kanamori isn’t used to touching people for any other reason than necessity, so this is… something new, to say the least.

Although she first freezes at the touch, Mizusaki sinks into it after a moment, letting her head rest against Kanamori’s shoulder. “Jeez, Kanamori-san,” she says, voice slightly muffled, “You gotta warn me next time.”

Kanamori pulls away, her back straightening so she towers over Mizusaki once again. Something feels a bit tight in her throat, so she clears it and says, “You weren’t working because you were worrying. So stop worrying.”

“Ah, typical Kanamori-san,” Mizusaki comments, laughing. “Only caring about the profits.”

Kanamori bites at the inside of her cheek. “Sure.”

Not a moment later, Asakusa busts out of her desk and rushes over to Mizusaki, shoving her notebook into Mizusaki’s face. She talks so fast that Kanamori can’t decipher what she’s saying half the time, but Mizusaki looks like she understands, so Kanamori leaves them to it.

They should all three be heading home soon; Kanamori checks her phone and the time reads half past six. They aren’t on any sort of crunch time right now, so Asakusa’s family will be wanting her home for dinner, and Kanamori expects that Mizusaki’s parents will be the same. As for Kanamori, well… maybe she’ll pick up something from a convenience store on the way home.

Once Asakusa and Mizusaki are done gushing over their latest idea, they pack up and join Kanamori at the door to the clubroom before they all begin to walk together. The weather is nice, not too hot nor too cold, and there’s no storm to warrant Mizusaki clinging to Kanamori’s side. Even so, as they walk, Mizusaki keeps gravitating closer until they’re gently bumping arms each couple steps. And on the train, Mizusaki sits close enough to Kanamori that their thighs touch.

It’s not like Kanamori minds, because she doesn’t. She doesn’t, and maybe that’s precisely the problem. If anyone else were touching her so casually and so frequently, she’s sure that she’d have some choice words for them. God knows how many times Kanamori has shoved Asakusa off of her, and they’re best friends.

And still, when it’s Mizusaki… Kanamori just doesn’t mind. She’d told Mizusaki to stop that one time just because she thought they might fall over, and she honestly didn’t have enough cash at the time to pay for a load of laundry from falling in the mud. Now, with no such worries, she doesn’t feel inclined to tell Mizusaki to knock it off.

Just as Kanamori’s thinking about it, Asakusa leans forward from her seat on the train, seemingly examining her two friends. “You guys sure have gotten close!” she exclaims, smiling pulling at her lips.

Mizusaki begins to stammer something out in response, but Kanamori barely catches anything of what she’s trying to say. So, she interrupts, “What do you mean?”

Asakusa shrugs. “You know, like close friends. Really close friends.”

If Asakusa valued her life, she wouldn’t be waggling her eyebrows at Kanamori right now. Evidently she doesn’t, and so Kanamori reaches over Mizusaki and flicks Asakusa in the middle of the forehead. After letting out a yelp, Asakusa presses the palm of her hand to her forehead. “What was that for?” she whines, just as the overhead system reads out the name of her stop.

“You know what it was for,” Kanamori responds, watching Asakusa stick her tongue out at her and then stand from her seat and hoist her bag onto her back.

She steps off the train as soon as the door opens and salutes her friends from the platform; Mizusaki waves back at her through the window. Once Asakusa is out of sight, Mizusaki turns back around and slumps against the back of her seat, her head lolling backwards. Kanamori follows with her gaze.

“What are your plans for dinner tonight?” Mizusaki asks, her eyes flickering over to Kanamori.

Kanamori clicks her tongue to the back of her teeth. “Don’t have any,” she answers.

“Really?” Mizusaki says, suddenly sitting up. “Your parents aren’t gonna cook anything?”

“No,” Kanamori deadpans, but Mizusaki looks like she expects elaboration, so Kanamori sighs and continues, “My mom works the night shift.”

“And your dad?”

“Mizusaki-shi,” Kanamori says, “Stop being nosy.”

Mizusaki blinks at her for a few moments before she murmurs, “Sorry.”

Something about Mizusaki’s countenance leaves a sour taste in Kanamori’s mouth, and while usually Kanamori wouldn’t care about something like this, she now feels an urge to rectify the situation.

“My dad left when I was a kid,” she speaks, not breaking eye-contact with Mizusaki, who now gapes at her.

“Kanamori-san, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to—”

“Nah, I don’t care. It’s fine.” Kanamori looks down at her hands and starts to pick at a hangnail.

Mizusaki is quiet for a little while, but Kanamori can practically hear her thinking. Just as she’s about to tell Mizusaki to spit it out, she says, “I was just asking ‘cause my parents are out on tour right now, and it gets lonely without them there. I wanted to see if you’d like to come over?”

She intones her statement like a question, and Kanamori hardly thinks about answering before she’s saying, “Yeah, sure.”

And just like that, Mizusaki’s gloomy mood overturns and a grin paints her face. One corner of Kanamori’s mouth twitches upwards, too, as Mizusaki begins to ramble about the things they could do while Kanamori is over.

Honestly, Kanamori’s looking forward to the food, because she’s sure that whatever food ends up in Mizusaki’s trash is probably still better than what Kanamori would’ve ended up buying at the convenience store.

“Mizusaki-shi,” she interrupts Mizusaki’s rambling, “Does your family have a caterer?”

At this, Mizusaki enters a giggling fit. “A caterer? Kanamori-san, what shows have you been watching lately?” She pauses for only a moment before adding, “We only hire a caterer when we’re hosting an event!”

Kanamori blinks at her. “My bad,” she says, internally amused.

The train pulls up to Mizusaki’s stop not long thereafter, and both girls step off together. Kanamori follows Mizusaki’s lead to her house, trying not to stare too long at the mansions they pass on their way.

When they step up to Mizusaki’s house, though, and Mizusaki holds the door open for Kanamori, allowing her to see the chandelier that hangs in the entryway before she steps inside, Kanamori can’t help herself from saying, “What the hell, Mizusaki-shi.”

Mizusaki smiles up at her, bewildered. “What?” she asks, closing the door behind them and slipping off her shoes.

Letting out a slight chuckle, Kanamori just shakes her head. She takes off her shoes and follows Mizusaki through the house until they reach the kitchen. Mizusaki opens the fridge—which is about three times bigger than Kanamori’s, by the way—and takes out a few plastic containers which Kanamori figures have leftovers in them.

Mizusaki piles the leftovers onto two separate plates, humming as she sticks one into the microwave. And while it’s not professional catering, Kanamori can’t bring herself to complain. The vegetables don’t look freeze dried, anyway, so she’ll take it over instant ramen anyday.

As Mizusaki slides the steaming plate over the counter to Kanamori, she points her over to the dining room. Despite only being a family of three, the dining room is large enough to fit, probably, twenty people. For a moment, Kanamori lets a scene play in her head: Mizusaki’s parents sitting on one end of the long table and Mizusaki at the other end, her parents lecturing her about becoming an actor and giving up her dreams.

So, maybe being rich doesn’t automatically equate to being happier at home, but… Kanamori lets the thought escape her as she begins to eat. Mizusaki joins her not a moment later, taking the seat directly next to Kanamori and setting down two glasses of milk before immediately digging into her meal.

“Oh! Hot!” she exclaims, huffing and waving her hand at her mouth. With her other hand, she grabs at her glass of milk.

Kanamori laughs at her and rocks the chair she’s sitting in onto the back two legs. Mizusaki grimaces, blowing on her food to cool it down after she’s swallowed her initial mouthful. Kanamori, ever the fast eater, has already finished by the time Mizusaki’s food has cooled enough for her to eat it.

She pulls out her phone, then, swiping away a message from Doumeki (about Asakusa) and a call from her mother. After typing out something quick to her mom about being at Mizusaki’s place, she sets her phone on the table and rolls her shoulders. They crack a few times, causing Mizusaki to peer over.

“What,” Kanamori deadpans, and Mizusaki just laughs in response.

“You know, Kanamori-san,” Mizusaki starts, setting her chopsticks down on top of her now empty plate, “You have a great figure for modelling.”

Kanamori snorts. “Lying doesn’t look good on you.”

“I’m not lying!” Mizusaki defends, gathering both her own and Kanamori’s dishes into her arms and beckoning for Kanamori to follow her back into the kitchen. “A bunch of agencies would kill for someone like you. You have really long legs, and nice hair, and a pretty face—”

Kanamori can’t help herself but to laugh again. “I’m not trying to be modest here,” she says, helping Mizusaki load the dishes into the dishwasher, “but I think you’ve got it wrong.”

“Do I have to remind you who here has modelling experience?” asks Mizusaki, looking smug.

“God knows I saw enough posters of you on the train,” Kanamori responds, slamming the dishwasher shut.

“So take my word for it, then!” Mizusaki grabs Kanamori by the elbow as she speaks, dragging Kanamori into the living room before letting go and flinging herself onto the couch, hand over her forehead, all Victorian style. “God, Kanamori-san, not trusting my expertise.” Suddenly, she shoots up, “Wait, we should do a photoshoot right n—”

Kanamori promptly cuts her off, “Absolutely not.”

Mizusaki laughs, “Yeah, knew you’d say that. Just thought I’d try my luck.”

As Kanamori sits on the couch next to the armrest, Mizusaki gets up to grab the controllers to the Nintendo Switch. She tosses the red one to Kanamori and then says, “Wanna play Mario Kart?”

Though Kanamori doesn’t have a Switch, she’s played on one enough at Asakusa’s house to be fairly decent at some of the games. “Only if I can be Larry,” she answers, and Mizusaki’s face contorts.

“Who in the world mains Larry?”

“I do, obviously.”

The screen fires up and Kanamori blinks a couple times to get accustomed to the size of it.

“Well, I main Yoshi, like any sane person would,” Mizusaki comments, flopping down onto the couch besides Kanamori. Once again, their thighs are close enough to touch.

“What’re you trying to say?” Kanamori says, her tone teasing, “You think you’re gonna win or something?”

“Of course I’m gonna win. I’ve got the dream team—Yoshi on the Yoshi bike.”

Kanamori laughs, and she swears that Mizusaki’s gaze is stuck on her for a few moments longer than necessary. But, just like that, the moment is torn away and the tell-tale beeps coming from the speakers draw Kanamori’s attention away.

In the middle of the race, when Mizusaki is in first and Kanamori is in second, Kanamori says, “If I win, you have to buy me a bottle of milk tomorrow.”

Mizusaki chuckles, “Alright, sure.”

The prospect of free milk is enough to motivate Kanamori to squeeze in a victory, just barely passing Mizusaki while they cross the finish line. A few more rounds pass, and by the time they’re done playing, Kanamori has won four bottles of milk off of Mizusaki. She grins smugly to herself as Mizusaki throws her controller down onto the couch next to her in an exaggerated display of surrender.

“You’re too good, Kanamori-san,” Mizusaki whines, “Soon you’re gonna win a life-time supply of milk from me.”

“I can always hope,” Kanamori replies, to which Mizusaki shoots her a look.

There’s a lull, for just a moment, before Mizusaki asks, “What do you wanna do now?”

Kanamori just looks at her. “It’s your house.”

Mizusaki hums as she thinks, tapping her index finger to her cheek. “How about a movie?”

Once Kanamori agrees, Mizusaki hops up from the couch to grab the TV remote and browse through streaming services until she finds something worth playing. Kanamori doesn’t really have a preference, so she agrees with just about anything Mizusaki proposes to watch.

They settle on some anime movie that Kanamori has never seen before but Mizusaki can quote by heart, and Mizusaki settles back in on the couch besides Kanamori, draping a blanket over their laps.

And, really, Kanamori didn’t plan on falling asleep only five minutes into the movie, but she can’t help it as her eyes droop shut and her head lolls to the side, leaning against Mizusaki’s shoulder. She usually has an abnormally easy time falling asleep, and now is no exception—actually, it seems especially easy now, because Mizusaki is so warm, and the movie’s soundtrack is very calming…

Kanamori wakes up to a dark room, Mizusaki prodding at her side. Kanamori blinks sleepily up at Mizusaki’s vague outline.

“Ah, you’re awake. I just wanted to… uh, do you wanna sleep in my room? It’d be more comfortable than the couch.” As Kanamori’s eyes adjust to the dark, she sees that Mizusaki fumbles with her fingers in her lap.

Kanamori yawns. “What time is it?”

“Oh, it’s after eleven. The movie just ended.”

“It’s alright that I stay over?” Kanamori asks, sitting up and stretching her arms over her head.

“I wouldn’t want you heading back home this late, Kanamori-san!” Mizusaki says, “You can just go home in the morning.”

“Okay,” Kanamori agrees, too tired to argue even if she wanted to. She lets Mizusaki lead her up to her bedroom, though they take a detour to the bathroom to brush their teeth.

The light is bright when Mizusaki flicks it on, and Kanamori squints at her reflection in the mirror. Mizusaki must have moved her glasses somewhere. After Mizusaki hands her a toothbrush still in the packaging, she tears it out and they brush their teeth in unison.

When they step into Mizusaki’s room, Mizusaki gestures to the bed and says, “You can take the bed, I’ll go get a futon.”

Kanamori stares at her. “Sleep in your own bed,” she says, rubbing at one of her eyes with a balled fist.

“But I’d feel bad to make you sleep on the floor…” Mizusaki trails off.

“Then let’s share the bed,” Kanamori says, because she’s shared a bed with Asakusa enough times to know that it’s an easy solution to this problem.

Mizusaki looks as if she didn’t expect that response, but nods after a moment. It’s a full bed, anyway, so it’s not like they’ll be lying on top of each other. She then turns to her dresser, digging though it before producing a pair of pajama bottoms and throwing them at Kanamori.

Kanamori catches the pajamas and stares at them in her hands. They’re pink, detailed with flowery patterns, and nothing like the plaid pajamas Kanamori wears at home (because if she doesn’t shop in the men’s section, then nothing fits). When she slips them on, they’re about ten centimeters too short.

Mizusaki laughs when she turns around and sees Kanamori in the ill fitting pajamas, but Kanamori figures this is probably better than just sleeping in her underwear, so she leaves them on and crawls underneath Mizusaki’s covers. Mizusaki joins her after turning off the light.

The comforter is heavy, so Kanamori sticks one of her legs out from under it. She feels Mizusaki roll over onto her side, facing Kanamori, so Kanamori glances over at her. Her eyes are open.

“What,” Kanamori says, “are you looking at.”

Mizusaki laughs quietly. “You look pretty, Kanamori-san.”

“Not this again,” Kanamori responds, shifting to face away from Mizusaki.

“Aw, c’mon,” Mizusaki teases, “Are you that shy?”

Kanamori gives Mizusaki a dirty look over her shoulder. “Go to sleep,” she says.

“Mm, okay,” Mizusaki concedes. She’s only quiet for a moment, though, before she says, “Kanamori-san?”

“Go to sleep, Mizusaki-shi.”

“I think you’re really cool.”

“Okay.”

“And smart.”

“Okay.”

“And pretty.”

“Alright. Will you go to sleep now?”

Mizusaki lets out a sigh, and Kanamori rolls back over. Mizusaki says, “I’m really confused about how you feel.”

“About what?”

“About me.”

Kanamori raises an eyebrow. “I think you’re very talented.” When Mizusaki doesn’t respond, Kanamori feels an urge to continue, “And passionate, and kind. Somewhat headstrong, but not in an awful way. Cute, when you’re concentrating really hard.”

She really hadn’t meant to let that much out. She didn’t know she had that much to let out.

Mizusaki’s silence is deafening. Kanamori almost reaches for her phone just to drown out the silence.

“Kanamori,” she says finally, setting her hand, palm up, on the mattress between them, “I really like you.”

Kanamori glances down at Mizusaki’s hand. Her own fingers twitch.

“I really like you,” Mizusaki repeats, “so I was kind of nervous about, well, annoying you, or something, by touching you, or that you didn’t like that—”

“Mizusaki-shi,” Kanamori interrupts. She doesn’t elaborate verbally, but she takes Mizusaki’s hand in her own, palm to palm.

The next day, Kanamori waits for Mizusaki at the laundromat. She’s not going to pass up on those milks she won, but she holds another bottle that she bought in her hand as she waits, pink and all too sweet for Kanamori herself.