Mitake Ran is beautiful.
These are the first thoughts that fill Yukina’s head as she looks over at her girlfriend sleeping next to her. The light peeks out from the curtains of their shared apartment, signalling a brand new day. Hands curling around the corner of their shared blanket, Yukina can see how peaceful her girlfriend looks right now.
And it’s unfair, really. No one should look that good while doing absolutely nothing.
Now that Yukina really thinks about it, her former self would’ve scoffed at her actions. It’s quite funny to remember the intensity of their ‘rivalry’ that was, in Lisa’s words, an excuse for outward displays of sexual tension.
Because now, watching the light reflect against her girlfriend’s face, Yukina doesn’t know why she could ever convince herself that she hated her.
“I can feel you staring.” Ran mumbles groggily, keeping her eyes closed.
It seems like she wasn’t the only one that was awake.
“Sorry. You’re just very pretty.”
Ran inhales sharply at that, mustering a soft laugh. “Already sappy this early in the morning?”
“For you? Always.”
Ran sits up at that, looking at her with reddened cheeks. “W-Who did you learn that from? It was Moca wasn’t it?”
“Not really, I just felt like I should say it.” Yukina smiles at that, feeling quite proud of herself for being so smooth this morning. Typically, both of them are… quite disastrous when it comes to these things ( . . . she should remember to thank Lisa later).
Ran huffs and moves to start getting out of bed. Yukina has to tone down her (slight) disappointment; they did have things to do today. “I think some of the gang are coming over today.”
She nods at this, getting out of bed as well. Unfortunately, as she swings her legs to the side of her bed, Yukina sucks in a breath: she nearly stepped on their gray and white cat, Oliver. Muttering her apologies, she maneuvers around it before getting up. The last time she accidentally stepped on him, he tried to scratch at her ankles. Not a very pleasant way to start the morning.
Once both of them had gotten changed and ready for the day, the first thing they needed to do was eat breakfast. She watches as Ran opens the fridge, only to immediately close it. “We need to go grocery shopping today.” At the very most, they could make toast and have coffee.
“Aoba-san is coming over today with everyone else so it would probably be in our best interest to have more than just bread. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was all she wanted.” Yukina didn’t mind the toast but they needed to fill their fridge up. Besides, going grocery shopping just means that they get to spend more time together.
“Yeah. Moca will probably call our fridge all sorts of things if it’s empty.” Ran says with a laugh, pushing a hand through her hair. “We probably should’ve gone grocery shopping sooner.”
“That.. would've been a good idea.” Exhaling, Yukina wordlessly stands up to start making their coffee while Ran busies herself with the toast. “I don’t doubt that Lisa wouldn’t do the same.” She muses, placing one out of the two cups under the coffee dispenser.
The brown liquid pours into what Yukina knows is Ran’s favorite black and red mug, filling the surrounding air with the pleasant smell of coffee. Coupled with the sound of the bread popping up from the toaster and her girlfriend’s humming, she knows that she could get used to this.
Oliver is awake now and makes himself known by rubbing his face against Ran’s leg, who looks down with a chuckle. Both of them had been hesitant to adopt the cat at first, unsure of how it would feel living in their apartment but somehow, he fit right in. Ran makes sure to put some food out for him too, petting his head when he leans into her outstretched hand. There was something so comforting in the atmosphere that they had created for themselves and before she knew it, a small smile tugged at the corners of her lips as she watched the scene fondly.
“I thought you said you didn’t like him.”
Ran gives her a look. “I never said I didn’t like him..”
“What happened to ‘I’ll only feed him and give him water or whatever’ ?” On days where Yukina feels particularly confident in her teasing, she thinks it wouldn’t hurt to do this every once in a while.
Ran huffs at that, getting up from her crouched position on the floor. “Okay, MAYBE... I think he’s tolerable.”
The rest of the morning in their apartment remains relatively uneventful but still pleasant, nonetheless. And after saying their goodbyes to Oliver, who curls up in the corner of his bed while they leave, they finally make their way to the nearest supermarket.
When they enter the supermarket, Yukina is quick to grab a cart for their groceries with Ran walking alongside her as they pass through the aisles.
“Do you think Aoba-san or any of the other Afterglow members would want anything in particular? I know that the rest of Roselia wouldn’t be too picky so long as we.. avoid certain vegetables.”
Ran chuckles at that, reaching out for a box of cereal from one of the aisles to add to the growing pile of food in their cart. “To be honest, I think we can stick with the usual food. Moca won’t complain so long as we have some form of bread and we can always just order if cooking is too much of a pain tonight.”
The last time their friends gathered, it took them hours to decide on a topping for a couple of pizzas. Yukina isn’t too sure she wants to endure the headache that comes with trying to fit the opinions of ten girls onto something as subjective as taste.
“ If we decide to order food,” Yukina says as she picks up some prepackaged bacon to inspect, “I believe we should do it beforehand to eliminate conflicts in what people want by picking the most neutral option.”
Nobody wants to watch Tomoe and Himari almost break into a fight over pineapple pizza (Although, she’s not quite sure why it was an argument in the first place).
“Agreed. We don’t want a repeat of last time.”
After taking a glance at her wristwatch, Yukina notes that they have a few hours until their get-together is supposed to start. Looking up, she makes eye contact with her girlfriend, who appears to have the same thought. “I think it would be best if we finished this as soon as possible to avoid getting off schedule.” As much as she wants to prolong their time together alone, it would be unwise to be late for something they were hosting in their own apartment.
“Yeah, Moca would definitely chew us out for that. “ A pause, “. . . So would Sayo-san.”
The last time she was extremely late for a scheduled practice, while she didn’t exactly ‘chew her out’, Yukina definitely didn’t want to have to deal with an irritated Sayo today.
That being said, she begins to start pushing the cart again, expecting Ran to continue her usual routine of walking not too far off while collecting what they needed from the nearby shelf.
However, Mitake Ran never fails to exceed her expectations.
Instead of continuing their usual habits, Ran proceeds to walk to match Yukina’s pace before silently nudging her over to make room for her own hands on the handle of the shopping cart. The actions confuse her, to say the very least. But before she can protest about not needing any help, one of Ran’s hands is on top of hers. PDA wasn’t something either of them were extremely comfortable with but small actions like these still managed to make her heart skip a beat for a moment.
The effect is clear on Ran as well, seeing as how she refuses to meet her girlfriend’s eyes due to the light blush on her cheeks. To top it all off, if she hadn’t been listening, she would have missed her mumbling, “My hands were getting cold from getting the milk.”
Both of them know it’s an excuse for Ran to hold her hand but Yukina decides to save themselves the embarrassment of addressing the situation. Besides… it isn’t like she doesn’t like it. The rest of the trip goes pretty smoothly, save for the few times Ran pulled away to pick up anything that she couldn’t reach with one arm.
Pretty soon, both of them are back at their shared apartment, getting ready for their guests to arrive. At first, Ran hadn’t said anything about her wearing one of her sweatshirts. However, when she spots Yukina sitting on the couch with Oliver in her lap, she finally notices.
“Is that my sweatshirt?”
Yukina tenses at this. And despite the fact that her face remained blank, if you looked closely, you could see her cheeks starting to redden.
“Your sweatshirts are comfortable and they smell nice.” She mutters, averting her eyes towards their pet instead of her girlfriend. Despite being together for 2 years, Ran thinks it’s adorable when she gets flustered by small things like this.
They had decided on ordering food, that much was clear by the takeout sitting on their kitchen counter. With about twenty minutes to spare, the couple are relieved that they still have a little bit of time to themselves before the inevitable chaos breaks out in their apartment.
Ran is tempted to sit down next to her and initiate something but she finds herself still feeling shy. As she tends to the small succulents placed on the windowsill, she decides that she should be bolder about these kinds of things. Because, yes, they’ve kissed and all but something so soft and domestic like this feels like it’s out of her range.
Looking back at Yukina again, she decides that she’s going to ignore the embarrassment she feels. Plopping herself down on the couch next to her girlfriend, she slowly but surely starts to lean on her arm.
Yukina seems surprised at first but with the way she looks at Ran, any form of unease immediately fades away. It’s comfortable: being with her is comfortable in more ways than just one. Breathing out a satisfied sigh, Ran closes her eyes and enjoys the quiet of their apartment, save for the occasional meow.
If you had asked Ran if she liked Yukina back in high school, the question on its own would have horrified her. Because who really would’ve thought that they would go from being rivals to this? Honestly, it feels like this is all some cliché romance novel of slowburn enemies to lovers but thankfully, this is reality.
She can remember all the petty arguments they had, all the fighting, and constantly trying to outdo each other. Somehow, amidst all of the heated words thrown at each other and the tension, they fell for each other.
Somehow, Ran found herself being so attracted to the amber eyes that burned into her own when they had yet another one of their staredowns from across the room in the practice venues.
Okay, maybe they’re a little cliché. But neither of them would have it any other way.
During all of her reminiscing, she had barely noticed the change in her position. Yukina had moved her arm in order to bring her closer, sighing appreciatively at the warmth.
She could get used to this.
“What are you thinking about?”
Keeping her eyes closed, Ran has to hold back a laugh.
She really wasn’t lying, since remembering everything that has happened to them does include her. The silence that follows after her words is a bit hilarious though, considering that if Ran opens her eyes, she knows that she’ll probably be greeted with the sight of Yukina’s cheeks flushing.
“Since when did you start getting so smug?”
“Call it payback for teasing me this morning.”
“I wasn’t teasing you.”
. . .
“Fine. I may have been a bit more forward today.”
As cold as she may seem, Yukina tends to be a bit softer for Ran than she would care to admit. Not that she really minds, it isn’t as if she can say anything about it without being hypocritical.
Soon enough, a knock on the door forces them out of their comfortable position. Ran can already hear Moca calling out for her from behind the door while the chatter that follows makes it clear that she isn’t the only one who has arrived.
“Ran~ Let us in already! Moca-chan wants to raid your fridge.”
Thankfully, there are no arguments akin to the “Pineapple Pepperoni Showdown”, as Moca had decided to call it. It seems like they made a good choice in choosing a more neutral option for food.
Standing by the counter, Yukina watches as all their friends talk in the living room, catching up and generally having a good time. It feels like she hasn’t seen them in a long time, even though they usually coordinate these kinds of meetups at least once every few months to stay connected.
They’ve come a long way since they’ve first started, in terms of both bands and as friends.
“Yukina~” Sliding up next to her, Lisa pokes at her arm to try and get her attention before nearly tackling her into a hug. Before, she would have complained and made more of an effort to get away. However, she did miss her best friend.
Unfortunately, that did mean that she had squeezed her a little too tightly, “Lisa..”
“Sorry, sorry! I got a bit too ahead of myself there, didn’t I?” Lisa releases her with an embarrassed laugh, “I just missed you. Plus, it feels like it’s been forever since we last talked.”
“We were just texting the other day?” Yukina looks at her in confusion. Out of all the people in the room that she kept up with the most, it had to be Lisa.
“But it’s not the same,” Lisa says, placing her hands on her hips. “Besides, I wanna know how things are going with you and Ran!”
Yukina opens her mouth to protest but Lisa cuts her off again.
“If we were doing this over text, you know you would have just deflected.”
. . .
There’s really no winning when it comes to her.
“What do you want to know?”
“How are things going? Yukina, you could literally tell me anything about it. I talk to you about Sayo all the time, ” Lisa raises a brow, “Unless something is wrong..?”
Yukina’s eyes widen at this. “No, nothing is wrong. In fact, I believe things are going well.”
“I… wonder if I am truly showing my appreciation for her at times. Ran has been nothing but good to me and..” Yukina’s grip on the counter behind them tightens, “You know how I struggle with completely expressing my feelings sometimes.”
That much is obvious with how strained her friendship with Lisa had been during high school.
“I know. I’m most likely just overthinking things.”
“Actually, I don’t think so. I’m sure Ran is well aware that you care for her a lot but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to talk to her about it. I feel that way with Sayo sometimes but it’s just something that happens. Better to talk it out rather than let it bother you.”
It certainly would help if she got these things off of her chest.
“..I’ll consider it.”
Lisa smiles at that, “You don’t have to talk about it right away but I’m still supporting you as always. You can call or text if ever.”
Yukina manages to smile back after releasing her hand from the counter. It seems like both of them really have grown up, in more ways than just one. Someone like Lisa deserves only the best and she has no doubt that Sayo is treating her as such; she’s grateful to have a best friend like her.
“Thank you, Lisa. I really appreciate it.”
“It’s not a problem, I know you would try to help me if I needed it too!”
The conversation slowly transitions into much more trivial things after that but Yukina finds that she doesn’t mind. It was refreshing.
About halfway into the rom-com that her friends had chosen, Yukina decides to get off the couch and sit on the floor. Tomoe’s smile seems to be a silent apology, seeing as her former spot was quickly taken by Himari who chooses to lie down on the remainder of the couch and rest her head in Tomoe’s lap.
“It’s no problem.”
Honestly, Yukina doesn’t even know what’s going on in the movie. So, instead, she turns over to look at Ran, who appears bored.
“Do you know what’s going on in the movie?” Ran whispers. It seems like she noticed her looking.
“Not really. I just know it’s like every other stereotypical romance movie, I wanted to watch something else.” Yukina mutters, keeping her eyes off the screen when another cliché scene comes on.
Ran can’t help but agree. As much as they loved both of her friends, a romantic comedy was not what they had in mind. “I was hoping to watch something more exciting but..”
“I suppose we couldn’t have had that anyway since Lisa and Himari love these kinds of movies so much.” Tomoe and Sayo will go with whatever those two want. Moca will disagree just for fun while roping Ako into it, and Rinko and Tsugumi wouldn’t particularly care..
“True. I was hoping maybe Tsugumi or Ako would back me up but.. some things don’t change.” Ran shrugs only to roll her eyes at a horribly timed joke. “Wanna get out of here?”
The question takes her aback a little. Yukina tilts her head to the side, “Is it not rude to leave a get together in our own place? Where would we even go? ”
“Does it matter?”
Of course it doesn’t. Yukina wouldn’t mind going anywhere as long as Ran was with her.
“I… can’t exactly disagree.”
All that being said, Ran pushes herself off the ground with a grunt, only to extend a hand toward Yukina and help her up.
“Where are you guys going?” Rinko asks, looking at the pair with curious eyes.
“Out. This movie is boring.” Ran says, only to receive a playful glare from Himari. Lisa laughs but still gives Yukina a knowing look. Right. They needed to talk.
“Please don't cause too much trouble.” Tsugumi adds as the both of them head for the door.
Ran shakes her head in mock disappointment and Yukina stifles a chuckle. Neither of them notice that they’re still holding hands until one of them turns around to close the door. Yukina feels herself get tugged back when Ran moves to shut the door; she instinctively lets go.
The warmth from the latter is slowly fading and Yukina can’t help but miss it already, though she thinks she’s in no place to be feeling this way since they could always just.. hold hands again. But if Ran noticed it, she didn’t say anything and continued to lead them toward her car.
Neither of them say anything the entire time, which Yukina is grateful for. She doesn’t quite feel talking yet. Instead, she quietly remains in the passenger’s seat as they drive through the streets with the radio faintly playing music. Ran still says nothing, humming along to the tune of the music while continuing to drive them to an unknown destination.
The farther they get, the less recognizable the streets are. Now realizing that they’re a bit far from their apartment, Yukina speaks up, “Where are we going?”
Ran laughs quietly and shakes her head, “Just wait a little longer. I promise it’ll be worth the wait.”
The digital clock of the car shows that they’ve been driving for a little less than an hour, the white numbers dimly displaying 11:20.
That’s when Yukina sees it.
She suddenly perks up when she catches sight of the coast and turns to look at her girlfriend in shock. “We’re at the beach?”
“Figured you would like it here. Plus, it’s really pretty around this time.”
Staring out at the beach in front of them, there’s really no point in trying to hide her surprise. The beach is beautiful, yes. But that’s not why she’s surprised.
“Ran.. isn’t this..?”
“Yeah. It is.”
Yukina blinks, tries to ignore the wave of emotions coming in but it’s all in vain. This is where Ran had taken her for one of their dates and asked her to be her girlfriend. At the time, she remembers how they had their own playful argument since Ran had beaten her to asking her out. Seeing this beach now, after all this time, it feels.. nice.
She hadn’t noticed how long she had been silent until she felt Ran’s hand on top of hers once again. Tearing her gaze away from the scene in front of them, Yukina meets Ran’s eyes. She can see how concerned she is, that much is obvious without even considering how delicate her touch is.
“I noticed you seemed a bit off at the party and thought that you might need some fresh air. Is something up? You.. don’t have to tell me if you’re not ready though.”
Of course. It’s just like her to worry like this. Although, she knows that this is probably the best time to have that talk that Lisa had recommended.
“It would be wrong of me to say that I haven’t been thinking.”
Ran listens attentively, almost as if she was hanging onto every word she spoke.
“I guess I just,” Yukina sighs, “I wonder if I ever express how much I truly do care about you. I have never been too good at words and you’ve been nothing but kind. You mean so much to me. I’m afraid that I won’t ever be able to find the right words to say it properly. You deserve only the best, after all.”
“Yukina..” Ran squeezes their hands together. “I don’t think you need to have the right words all the time. What we have is.. something that goes beyond words. Feelings as strong as these aren’t usually easy to explain.”
Of course, Ran would be as understanding like this. When would she not? Being vulnerable like this isn’t something either of them could do with just anybody. There’s no one quite like her, really. And if Yukina had the choice to start again, she would still choose her over and over.
“I love you.”
The declaration is short but powerful and Yukina can see the shock on her girlfriend’s face.
“Now that I say it out loud, I admit that it still isn’t quite enough to express how I feel. However, it doesn’t change what I said. I love you, more than I could ever hope to imagine. I love your smile, the way you laugh, how you always care about the people closest to you, everything.”
Ran looks down at their hands before looking back up at her again with teary eyes. “I love you too. Thank you for feeling comfortable talking about this. Again, you don’t have to have all the right words. You make me feel the happiest and I don’t think I could ever stop falling in love with you.”
Yukina lets a shaky chuckle out at that, using her other hand to rub at the tears forming in her own eyes. Instead of saying something else, she reaches down to unbuckle her seatbelt before leaning in to press a quick kiss onto her girlfriend’s cheek.
Despite how dark it is, she can still see the pink tint on Ran’s face after she pulls away.
“We should probably go outside..”
When both of them get out of the car, it’s just as peaceful as it looks from the inside. Standing next to Ran, Yukina slowly but surely manages to grasp onto her hand, interlocking their fingers. And when she sees the smile that comes out of the gesture, perhaps this moment will be bookmarked into her head for a lifetime.
“You don’t want to go home?”
“It’s okay. The others won’t be leaving until much later. You also drove the entire way over. I would feel bad if we didn’t at least take a look.”
“That’s true. Moca should be able to keep them all entertained for at least another two hours.”
Home is often defined as the main place where someone would live in. Or, it’s defined as a place of comfort for someone, somewhere safe. A place where you can be vulnerable without worry.
“Besides, I think I’m already at home.”
Ran looks confused, only to turn red again moments later. While she was embarrassed by the implications, she wasn’t complaining.
“I can’t believe you’re so… so… irritatingly adorable. Where did that come from?”
Yukina laughs a little at that. “I don’t know, it just felt right. Being at home feels like being with you.”
Ran’s face looks like it can’t get any more red. “I-I’ve had enough, let's go back.”
She decides against teasing her for now, simply complying with her girlfriend’s request. And while other people might think that Ran was mad at her, she still put her free hand over Yukina’s when she could while they were driving back to the apartment.
There would never be enough words to properly describe this.
And maybe that’s okay.