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Kaoru and Chisato had their first real kiss in Kaoru’s bedroom at 7:30 in the evening, a week after they had started dating.

Chisato took Kaoru’s hand in hers, trying not to feel nervous—kissing was wet and awkward, and she worried that she couldn’t measure up to all of the kisses she had shared with Kaoru on stage, and she wasn’t sure of the right way to just lean in and do it. Still, Kaoru noticed the look in her eyes and the glances down to her lips, and took it upon herself to save her from the fear of asking.

“Er, Chisato... may I, or... would you like me to kiss you?” she asked, holding Chisato’s hand a bit tighter. Her words were a bit more straightforward than Chisato had expected, but once she got over that momentary surprise, the answer was easy.

“I would love that.”

Neither of them was sure which one was supposed to lean in first, and by the time their lips connected, neither of them was sure which one did. There was an overwhelming feeling of right, the gentle, damp touch of their lips and the way they both relaxed into each other.

The kiss only lasted for a moment, leaving a wide smile on Chisato’s face and a deep pink blush across Kaoru’s. Neither of them wanted to say a word for a moment, not when the moment felt like this, but Kaoru eventually opened her mouth.

“Ah, you... you taste like strawberries, my darling.”

Chisato hadn’t expected Kaoru to comment on that. She knew that Kaoru liked strawberries, and she hadn’t thought much of it to try a brand of lip gloss that was flavored rather than the standard kind, but it certainly seemed that her girlfriend appreciated it—and she couldn’t deny how that appreciation made her feel almost proud.

“I’m glad you noticed,” Chisato said. “I got this brand just the other day, and if you like it so much, perhaps I’ll continue buying it.” She left a small kiss on Kaoru’s cheek. “After all, the next time I’m free, I expect a lot more kisses than this.”

Kaoru’s eyes widened and her face went red, but she only took a moment to return to her typical suave composure. “Of course, dear. Perhaps I’ll even exceed your expectations.”

It sounded a bit cheesier out loud than it likely did in Kaoru’s head, but little things like that were just part of her charm.

“Perhaps you will.”

It took another two weeks for Chisato to have a day off, and when she walked into the tea house where she and Kaoru had planned to meet, she could barely cover her eye bags—thankfully, she was wearing sunglasses since she was out in public. As soon as the door opened and she entered, Kaoru perked up and waved at her, but her energy died down a bit when she realized how exhausted she looked.

“Darling, are you all right?” she asked, pulling a chair out for Chisato as she approached. Chisato just nodded, smiling gratefully at Kaoru.

“You know how it is. The past two weeks have just been busy, with us preparing for that concert and all,” she said. Kaoru looked almost relived that she was just tired, but Chisato knew before she even opened her mouth that she had decided to take care of her anyway.

“Ah, I understand. I worry that the same will happen to me as tech week approaches,” Kaoru said. “Still, I insist on paying for your drink today, at the very least.”

Chisato rolled her eyes. “I appreciate it, but I assure you, I’m not having any trouble with money at the moment.”

“Can I not treat my girlfriend to some tea every once in a while?”

“You offer to do this every time. Don’t worry about it.”

Kaoru paused for a moment, trying to think of a way to argue without disregarding her wishes. “...I’ll buy you pumpkin bread, then.”

Chisato sighed, a small smile appearing on her lips. “If you insist.”

They only stayed out for around half an hour, and Chisato’s responses often seemed like they were only half thought out. Kaoru wasn’t always sure when she should talk and when she should just let the conversation go and let themselves just exist for a while, especially when Chisato looked tired enough that she had trouble focusing sometimes.

“Shall I walk you home? You look positively exhausted, love.”

“I would appreciate it.”

Kaoru took her hand, and Chisato walked with her back to the train station. Thankfully, their houses were only a station away—Kaoru wasn’t sure if Chisato would be able to handle multiple stops even with help right now.

They made it to Chisato’s house with little incident, and Kaoru gently squeezed her hand before releasing it.

“I’ll see you soon,” Kaoru said, smiling down at her. “I don’t suppose you would mind a goodnight kiss, would you?”

Chisato shook her head, getting on her tiptoes and allowing Kaoru to bend down to kiss her. Their height difference was... inconvenient, to say the least. Still, as long as Kaoru was comfortable, Chisato didn’t have a problem with it.

They separated after a tender moment, not wanting to occupy too much attention while they were still on Chisato’s doorstep, and Kaoru processed kissing her much more quickly than last time. “Cinnamon?”

“Cinnamon indeed. I thought it would be nice with the tea,” Chisato explained.

“I must say, it’s quite nice with the pumpkin as well.” Kaoru kissed her once more, this time on her forehead. “Get some rest, my dearest, and let me know if you’d like help on your homework. I excitedly await our next meeting.”

As their dates continued, infrequent as they were due to both of their schedules, both Chisato and Kaoru found that kissing in various flavors was a highlight of those days. Cherry backstage at Chisato’s next concert, mint before Kaoru was called for rehearsal, chocolate between two meetings, raspberry when they snuck out during their shared lunch breaks... it felt so minor looking back on it, but in those moments, sharing that with each other felt vital.

One night, the two of them met up at Chisato’s house for a movie night. Their schedules had been surprisingly light, with Kaoru just coming off of a show and Chisato just having finished a concert, and they had been taking full advantage of it before it inevitably got worse.

They had gambled on a movie that neither of them had heard of. It had just been added to their streaming service, it looked interesting, and neither of them had any other ideas. Unfortunately, though, it was painfully boring—an young man struggling between commitment to two clubs, only hesitating to play sports because of the resident cute art girl... a plain, dry plot that lacked the philosophical depth its reviews had promised.

“This is awful,” Chisato said between bites of popcorn. “Why on earth are we watching this, again?”

“Well, ‘tis like a car wreck: painful,” Kaoru responded. “I would much rather focus on you.”

“High praise,” Chisato quipped.

“The same is true of any film, however. I just would not interrupt it unless neither of us wanted to watch it.” Kaoru smiled, touching her chin with her index finger and gently tilting it up. “And it seems that neither of us do.”

Chisato didn’t even need to come up with a response. She had gotten the sense that Kaoru had been waiting to kiss her all evening—and, quite honestly, the feeling was mutual.

She leaned in, kissing her gently on the lips, moving her hand up to cup her cheek. Kaoru slipped her arms down to wrap around her waist, and as they pulled apart, they were both smiling at each other.

“That was much more interesting,” Chisato said, gazing at her.

“Indeed, but... my dear, I’m afraid you have finally perplexed me.”

It took Chisato a moment to realize what Kaoru was talking about, and another to remember that she had worn her normal lip gloss today—there was no flavor for her to figure out.

“Well, you’re free to guess again.” She leaned in for one more peck on Kaoru’s lips.

“Hm... pomegranate, perhaps?” Kaoru asked, though she was clearly still uncertain. Chisato laughed.

“Not this time. I’m afraid I forgot to put on the flavored kind this time, so this is just... standard, I suppose.”

Kaoru’s eyes lit up. “Ah, is it?” She leaned in just a bit closer. “Then I suppose it’s not a surprise that it’s my favorite so far.”

Chisato wasn’t sure what she should have expected, but that sentence sounded about right—something sweet and cheesy, something that sounded manufactured but she didn’t doubt for a moment was genuine, something that was just so wonderfully Kaoru. “Is it?”

“Of course.” Kaoru said. “And... I would love to kiss you again, Chisato, as much as you’ll allow.”

“And I’m happy to let you.” Chisato gently slipped her hand from where it rested on her cheek to wrap around her neck, pulling her close and letting their foreheads touch. “It’s not like this movie has any plot for us to miss.”

That sentence was just like her, too: scathing in a fun way, sentimental and sweet but never overbearing, letting her physicality and her words blend together as Kaoru kissed her again and again and again, her thoughts blocking out the music as the credits rolled.