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7 Years Distance Between You and Me

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High school 3rd Year

Takami Chika, a normal girl in her third year of high school, grins as she doodles a little drawing of her and her best friend on her sketchbook, adding a little heart between them, feeling her heart thump faster as she steals a glance at her best friend at the front of the class chatting with one of their classmates.

“Yō-chan… Looking cute today too, hehe~” Chika gazes at the ash-brunette with a lovesick gaze matching her loving smile for a time before her other best friend, Sakurauchi Riko, a pretty redhead with long flowy hair and gentle features came over to say hi.

“Chika-chan.”

“Ah, Riko-chan.” Chika looks up and notices Riko’s lips curl into a teasing grin. Following those hazel eyes, she was led back to the little doodle she did and got self-conscious so she quickly covered it. “W-What?”

Riko raises a hand to her mouth as she giggles. “It’s nothing. Good luck for later. I look forward to hearing allll about it~”

Chika’s cheeks flush as Riko sends her a wink and reminds her that she was supposed to be practising her confession to Yō in her head before the actual thing once Yō was done saying her goodbyes to the last of their classmates.

I already told Yō-chan to stay behind in the classroom so we can talk…

Chika glances back at Yō, a gorgeous smile and emotion-filled ocean blue eyes even from the side profile.

Ah… We’ve been together since we were kids. We are always together and Yō-chan…

Seemingly feeling the stares, Yō turns in Chika’s direction, their eyes meet, and the ash-brunette’s smile widens considerably as she waved over. Chika sat straighter and waved back, swallowing from the sight. A simple smile and Chika was feeling all floaty.

Yō-chan is always so charming and looking my way… surely…

Chika shakes her head and furrows her eyebrows in determination.

I’m sure she feels the same way as me!

Chika nods an affirmation to herself, looking to her notebook and adding a few more hearts and blush on the faces of her and her best friend before she closed it.

I’ll confess my love to Yō-chan. We’ll finally start dating… And we’ll be together forever! …hehe~

“Yeah…That’s how it will go.” The words fall out of Chika unthinkingly.

“How what will go?”

“Wah! Y-Yō-chan?!”

“I am Yō-chan.” The ash-brunette chuckles and Chika pouts.

“D-Don’t scare me like that, Yō-chan…” Chika tucks some of her orange hair behind her ear and shyly raises her head.

My heart is already beating faster because of how much I love you, you don’t have to add to my heart rate too!

“My bad, my bad. So…~ I’m all ready to be an official graduate.” Yō smiles, flashing all her pearly whites playfully.

Chika chuckles and keeps her notebook and pencil case into her bag, standing proud. “Me too!”

“Time sure flies, huh…? We’re about to be college students!” Yō sighs softly, leaning back on her heels.

“Yeah…and maybe a little more...” Chika mutters under her breath, steeling her nerves.

“Mm? You said something..?” Yō moves to lean closer but Chika quickly shakes her head to deny it.

“N-no?” Chika blinks innocently.

Yō shrugs and went back to smiles. “I almost don’t want to go.”

“Mmph… Me too…” Chika lowers her head as they both breathed the air of their classroom, letting the notion of graduating sink in, sharing a comfortable silence.

“Um, Chika-chan-”

“Um, Yō-chan-”

“Ah, you first”-

“Ah, you first-”

“No, it’s okay-”

“Yō-chan can go first!” Chika wrings her fingers together as she tries to be not too obviously nervous.

Yō looks right into Chika’s crimson eyes, making sure it truly was okay to go first since she usually is the one giving in and pampering the orangehead. “Well… I just wanted to say…”

Eh..? Yō-chan seems a bit nervous too? Could this be..?

Chika holds her breath, her fists clenched over her noisy heart that was hopeful, hopeful that her best friend was going to confess before she does and they could proceed smoothly into dating each other.

“Chika-chan.” Yō calls gently, her ocean blue eyes glazing over with forlorn as she stares at the classroom floor for a moment before blinking once, brightness filling in those shining blue hues as she looks right at Chika.

Ahh, my heart is being so loud…

Chika nods, swallowing her saliva as discreetly as she could, as she waited with bated breath for Yō to continue.

“Thank you for all the time. All these years… I know I can be rather…silly at times.” Yō chuckles at a memory Chika could guess.

“You and your uniform craze? Yeah. I’ve got your back on that one.” Chika chuckles softly too.

It’s really cute actually~

“Hehe, thank you… So! You’ve always been there for me, at my swimming competitions, high diving competitions, our study sessions, messing with your older sisters and being school idols together… I love every memory we’ve made so far… And… I only look forward to making more memories with you, Chika-chan…” Yō stands a little straighter, nodding with a smile at each fun time she listed out which Chika smiled along to.

Ah…This flow… I want to make more memories with you too…

“So, well…” Yō scratches her cheeks bashfully. “Let us be best friends forever, kay!”

“Eh?” Chika felt reality crashing down on her, the floaty feeling gone as she replayed that line in her head again.

B-Best friends…forever… not…as a…couple?

Chika remembers to breathe as she searched Yō’s expression, posture, anything, a sign that the ash-brunette was going to add more, was going to bring back that heart-pounding atmosphere of an afterschool confession scenario. Alas, what Chika was faced with was earnest blue eyes and a kind smile that pierced her heart in a way she never thought she had to feel from Yō.

Yō-chan doesn’t feel the same way as I do…

Chika lowers her head, her eyes welling up with tears and her lips quiver. She quickly presses her lips together, then bites her lips, not wanting to worry Yō or let her best friend find out something was off, Chika throws her arms around Yō in a tight hug.

“Wah! Chika-chan?” Yō’s body vibrates with laughter as she slowly places her hands on Chika’s back, returning the embrace.

Yō-chan…doesn’t feel the same way as I do…

Chika held onto Yō tightly, doing her utmost best to not close her eyes for her tears was sure to fall if she did.

I’m the only one who loves her in a romantic way…

Squeezing Yō more as she did not want Yō to see her crestfallen expression, she was certain she would not be able to explain why.

Best friends…forever…

Chika tightens her hold as her heart now beats a painful and slow pulse inside her, each beat telling her she was not going to be able to face Yō without crying, telling her this might be the last time they could hug this much, telling her she had to go.

Ah, I can’t do this… I’m going to cry…

Chika takes a deep breath and pulls away from the hug, turns on her heels and dashes out of the classroom with her bag grabbed in a hurry.

“Eh?! Chika-chan???” Yō calls after her best friend but the orangehead does not turn back. Too stunned to react, Yō could only watch Chika disappear into the distance.

 


 

Out of the classroom, down the corridors, Chika blinked rapidly as a stream of tears flowed down her cheeks and to the floor messily, her sobs escaping her despite her pants and attempts to not cry so soon.

Yō-chan… Yō-chan… Yō-chan..!! Even though I love you this much… Even though I  thought we could be together forever…

Chika haphazardly rubs her eyes with her arms futilely as the tears continued to pour.

It turns out… differently… from what I imagined… even though…

Chika hiccups and sniffles.

You always… have been surpassing my expectations in making my heart race and… making me fall in love with you…

The bus ride home was a blur as she pressed her forehead to the window of the backseat.  

Why..?

It was already dark out by the time Chika dropped her bag on the floor of her room and stumbles her way to the balcony, breathing unevenly as her mind still could not quite catch up to the truth. “R-Riko-chan…”

Why..?

Chika’s quiet whimper did not go unheard since her neighbour was already waiting for when the orangehead returns to hear all about how it went, expecting good news but when the redhead saw Chika’s tearful eyes, her smile drops, and she nods once to be reassuring in whatever way she could.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Riko opens the conversation.

Chika nods in return. “Yō-chan… she…” Chika’s voice cracks and more tears annoyingly fell from her crimson eyes as she messily wipes at them. “Sorry…”

I wish Yō-chan was here…even if it tears my heart in two…

Riko shakes her head, her own hazel eyes welling up with tears as she searched for words to convey how she is here to listen and cry with Chika.

“She…” Chika tries again, her breathing was heavy as she hyperventilated from all the crying. The orangehead grips her left arm tightly to grasp on the little composure she desperately wanted to hold on to. “She said…to be…best friends…forever…”

I want Yō-chan to comfort me like she always does…

“I see… Before you could confess?” Riko queries gently.

Chika nods solemnly as a cry left her throat and she rubbed away her tears again. “I could tell…from her eyes…That she only sees me as a friend…”

Riko presses her lips tightly in a straight line, numerous thoughts of things to say and yet, none felt quite right to say. The redhead simply murmurs in a melancholic tone. “Chika-chan…”

Chika’s phone vibrates in her pocket and she takes it out to see she received a text message from the reason for her aching heart.

Yō: Chika-chan, everything okay?

Chika bites her bottom lip that tremored as she looks up to Riko who never turned away, sending her silent support across the few metres between their houses.

Chika: I’m okay!

Chika sends and as her thumbs hover over the screen, she quickly added.

Chika: I just got a little embarrassed cos Yō-chan was being so mushy~

Yō: Who was being mushy!

Chika: Yō-chan was~

Yō: Mu mu mu! >3<

Yō: I couldn’t help it! I had to make sure you know how much I care about us!

Chika: Yes, yes~ I know how much you care, Captain Mushy Yousoro-san~ ;)

The corner of Chika’s lips twitch as she wore a bittersweet smile at their text exchanges. A few more tears were shed as Chika’s broken heart pounded a sorrowful desire to turn back time.

If time could change anything…

Chika raises her head, her eyes puffy to see that Riko reflected a similarly teary expression from hearing that her plan to confess failed before it could be executed as she was now best friend-zoned.

“Best friends… Riko-chan…” Chika turned her head to face the night sky, staring into the distance and nothing at the same time.

“Yes?” Riko looks to the empty night sky for a moment before her eyes went back to the orangehead.

“I should try…forgetting about my love for Yō-chan, right?”

So that we can be proper best friends.

Riko intakes a long and much-needed breath of air, tears hung to the corner of her amber eyes, her voice sombre. “… It’s your decision to make. You know I’m cheering for you two.”

“Mmph…” Chika’s eyebrows furrowed deeper as she frowned.

I’ll try to let go of my one-sided crush on Yō-chan… so that we can be best friends forever…

Chika raises the phone in her hand, bouncing out of the messaging app, to see her home screen wallpaper, gazing at Yō’s gorgeous, wide smile and pretty ocean-blue eyes, wavy ash-grey hair and her favourite salute.

Goodbye… my two years old love…

On the last day of high school, Chika cried to sleep.

 


 

College Year 1

Crimson eyes blink blearily awake as the alarm breaks the morning peace, Chika stretches and groans as she clambers out of bed. Switching off the alarm and goes about her morning routine in her half-asleep state.

Breakfast eaten and face washed, Chika returns to her room to get changed and ready for a lecture at her local college. Chika shifts a few hangers back and forth, wondering what would be good to wear.

Hmm… Should I go for green today? Or perhaps orange… Ah.

Chika’s eyes lands on her high school uniform she kept nicely at one end of her closet and as her mind slowly drifts back to the fun times with her friends and a certain ash-brunette she promised herself to forget that she has a crush on, she quickly tried to divert those thoughts.

Hehe, if I wore this to school now, that’d be cosplaying… That’s something Yō-chan would do instead! She’d look cute as a high school girl in college though- Ah. Wait..! Aaahh, I thought about Yō-chan again..!

Chika holds her head with both hands and shakes it back and forth.

G-Get a grip, Takami Chika! It’s already been 2 months!

Chika grabs her orange cardigan, white shirt set and comfy blue jean before hastily closing her wardrobe door; to shut away those memories and pesky thoughts of how she still thinks about what-ifs and maybes with her best friend.

Jeans and shirt worn, Chika’s phone vibrates on her desk and she peeks over to see she received a message and a few more. Chika could not help the increase in her heartrate at the thought of messages from Yō from the daily chats she has in the group chat with Riko, so she picks up her phone to check.

Yō: Ohayousoro~! ^w^7 Today’s weather is Sunny in Tokyo and I’ve got 2 lectures to go to! How’s everyone?

Riko: Good morning. It is lovely weather indeed. I’ve got 1 but we were already given a project to start on, so…

Yō: Ahaha, sounds like you’re getting busy already, Riko-chan! Will you be composing anything?

Riko: Perhaps~

Yō: Ooh! Exciting!!

The orangehead grins at her best friends back and forth in their group chat, and most of her grin was because of Yō’s energy she adores.

Chika: Good morning you two!!

Chika thinks to type about the weather too but has yet to look at the sky or step out of the house so she strides over to the window to open the curtains and gaze upon the endless blue skies filled with fluffy white clouds and a strong glow from the Sun. Chika feels lighter knowing that her weather was the same as Yō’s.

It kind of feels like…we are under the same sky…

Yō: Good morning, Chika-chan~~ Did you have good sleep?

Chika: I did! And the weather here in Uchiura is nice just like yours and Riko-chan’s!

Yō: I’m glad to hear~ Ahh, I miss the smell of Uchiura’s air~

Chika: Visit soon then~

Chika grips her phone a little tighter, her cheeks growing a bit warm from typing a heart and quickly backspacing it.

W-What am I thinking adding a heart there! I mean… It’s not like…we don’t do that in our normal text messages but… just now… It kind of made me… think of Yō-chan… as my…

Chika shuts her eyes tight and shakes her head violently.

“This is a group chat! Not personal messages! Hurry and say something Riko-chan!” The orangehead complains as she sees more messages pop up after a minute or two.

Yō: I’ll make plans to!

Riko: ^w^ Me too~

Chika sighs as she places a hand over her beating heart; a rhythm that told her she needed to work harder if she wanted to properly get over her crush on her best friend. Before she could entertain those thoughts, however, her older sister Mito called for her to get to school before she’s late.

“Chika!! You’ve got a lecture at eleven, right?! Hurry and get out before you’re late!”

Chika jolts, check the time on her phone and starts moving about in hurried actions – cardigan thrown on, backpack grabbed, phone slotted into her pocket and she’s speeding out her house yet again.

 


 

With getting used to college life and wrapping her head around all the new things she’s studying in her course, Chika thought she was successfully on route with letting go of her love for Yō slowly but surely.

That’s what she thought… But in truth, she still thinks about the sweet high diver anytime her mind had time for errant thoughts. And non-errant thoughts.

Chika plops down on her bed, leaning back against the soft toys she propped up to act as a backrest, a long sigh escaping her.

It’s been a long day… I wonder…what Yō-chan is doing—

“Aaaahh!” Chika threw her head back in defeat, letting go of the phone in her hand as she lay both arms slacked beside her.

Yō-chan… This… This is not my fault… It can’t be helped… We’ve been together all the time…even if it’s not because I’m in love with her, there’s no way I won’t miss my best friend, right???

Chika’s body slid down her lobster plush awkwardly, her head now on her pillow while her body was still partly on the plushie. The orangehead did not bother readjusting as her mind continued to make up excuses for herself.

Like… I… totally think of Riko-chan too. Mm. Totally.

Chika’s eyes shifted from the ceiling to the bed, judging herself as she knew better.

Okay, okay… Not like how I think of Yō-chan, I know. You don’t have to be so mean…

Chika sighs again at her battle with herself. Not expecting her phone to vibrate and start ringing, she was shocked into falling off her plushie and rolling to the right as she tried to get the phone she was lying on.

“Uwaa..!!” In the process, she almost rolled off the bed but somehow managed to wiggle back in from the edge and shifted into a kneeling position with the bedsheet all wrinkled when she sees that she was receiving a call from the girl who plagues her thoughts daily.

Yō-chan!? W-w-w-why??

“Ah..!!” Chika fears she might have left it ringing for too long and Yō might hang up. Fumbling with the touchscreen, she manages to pick up the call. “H-H-Hello?”

A laugh, an oh so familiar laughter fluttered through the intercom to Chika’s ears and the mikan loving girl held her breath.

“Hello, Chika-chan. Did I catch you at a bad timing?” Yō asks in a relaxed tone; a contrast to Chika’s hummingbird heart.

Chika shakes her head even though Yō would not be able to see it. “It’s…okay. I was just laying in bed.”

“Ahh, me too.”

So…calming…and heart-racing… at the same time… How does Yō-chan do this to me..?

Chika swallows as she imagined how Yō would be in her pyjamas and sitting in her new bed with those anchor printed bedsheets that the ash-brunette so eagerly snapped pictures of to share the moment she bought them.

“Is…um, something up?” Chika asks; her free hand rubbing and straightening the bedsheets subconsciously.

Yō chuckles again. “I was just thinking of Chika-chan so I decided to call.”

Wha—

“Chika-chan… Do you miss me?” Yō asks out of the blue.

Eh????!?!??

Her voice makes Chika’s stomach do flips and Chika bunches up her bedsheets unknowingly, cheeks flushed. “I… Of course, I do…”

Why is she asking this? Does she know I’ve got a crush on her?? Is she teasing me??? I miss you from the moment you went to Tokyo, Yō-chan..!!!

“Ahaha… It’s a little embarrassing to say, huh? But… I miss you too, Chika-chan. We’ve always been together and get to see each other all the time after all!” Yō’s voice was like a gentle wave, lulling Chika towards her and desiring more.

I love Yō-chan’s voice…

“Mmph…I want to see you…” Chika murmurs, unthinkingly.

Those words did not escape Yō. “Shall we video call then?”

“Eh?” Chika blinks.

“We can video call for a bit before sleeping. …If you like!” Yō adds, not wanting to seem forceful.

There’s no way I wouldn’t like that… but that will make me miss you more, no???

Chika raises her head to the ceiling, her face a complex frown and upturned brows, questioning why her crush had to be so caring, charming, sweet and capable of making her heart swoon even when so many kilometres apart.

“Chika-chan..?” The orangehead going quiet made Yō think she said something wrong.

“Ah! L-Let's video. Chat! N-Now..!” Chika stammers out, realizing she must have left Yō hanging for a bit too long and Yō might get suspicious!

The ash-brunette’s relieved smile could be heard through the receiver. “Then, I’m hanging up now, kay?”

She’s happy to get to see me too…

“Mmph!”

Chika was not given much time to prepare herself as her phone rang in the next second.

[Yō-chan is starting a video call…]

Chika stares hard at her phone screen, her heart was so loud behind her ribcage, her brain so annoying as it told her how much joy she was feeling just from receiving a video call from Yō, her cheeks glowing hot, lips pressed together nervously.

Chika swipes right to accept the call. Yō’s face appeared and Chika knew.

I’m still so deeply in love with her…

The weekly to fortnightly video calls were Chika’s favourite time of her first year in college.

 


 

College Year 2

Kachink. Clack. Chika unlocks the door to the one-room apartment she started renting at the beginning of her second year of college. The benefits being closer to the school, being in a new environment to facilitate her plans in forgetting her love for Yō, and growing a little more independent.

“I’m home…” Chika murmurs, still a habit after months of receiving silence in response. The orangehead sighs. She misses getting a ‘welcome home’ from either sister.

I wonder how Mito-nee and Shima-nee are doing… but…

Chika puts her shoes away nicely, drops her bag to the couch that came with the apartment, makes her way for her bedroom right away and falls face-first into her bed, the lobster plush she brought along bounced from the impact.

“Aaaahhh~” Chika stretches and groans pleasingly. “Living alone means not getting nagged for not doing anything when homed!”

Chika chuckles as she turns onto her back with yet another relaxed sigh.

I’m exhausted… Rentals and lectures… Fees, fees… and more fees only mean having to take on a part-time job too…

The sophomore reaches into her skirt’s pocket to take out her phone, entering to see that the last call she had with Yō was already two months back.

Ah… and that was a phone call too… I haven’t seen Yō-chan in so many months… I miss…

Chika shuts her eyes tight and shakes her head.

Don’t think it. Don’t think it. Don’t think it! The whole point of moving out and getting busy is to forget about her!!

Chika opens her eyes again, dropping her arm to the bed.

No, wait, not forget about her…forget about…this…

Chika puts her hand over her beating heart, gripping her shirt and wrinkling it.

These feelings of ‘Ah, I want Yō-chan to say she loves me too.’…

It was not hard or surprising that Chika’s brain was able to replay the voice of her crush – crystal clear and even providing imagery of the ash-brunette smiling at her in glorious HD. I love you, Chika-chan.

“Gyaaaahhh!! Noooo!! I don’t need this childhood friend-best friend perks right now!!” Chika rolled left and right while holding her head, groaning so loudly that her sister might just manifest to chide her about it.

Chika rolls out of bed and heads into the bathroom to splash her face with water. The cold finally calmed her down. Chika stares at herself in the mirror, blinks twice and plays with the ends of her hair.

I wonder if Yō-chan’s hair grew any longer… Does she put on various hairstyles for different days? Ahh…I would love to get to see those…

Chika prepped for a good night’s sleep and another hardworking few more months to go before the annual meet up at the end of the year.

 


 

Chika marks off the calendar and smiles at the fact that today will be the day when Yō and Riko come back to Numazu and they get to have a whole lot of fun chatting and hanging out for a few days.

The orangehead hums as she does some last-minute cleaning of her house; the votes were all in favour of meeting up in Chika’s place since Yō and Riko have not been into it. And there was no way Chika could turn down Yō’s enthusiasm.

Yō: Chika-chan’s place! I want to get to see how Chika-chan’s apartment is like hehe~ ;D

What’s with the winky face too? Mou! You’re not going to find my place super messy when I know you’re coming over, Yō-chan!

Chika chuckles as she places a basket of fresh mikans on her kotatsu she set up in her living room, the couch pushed to a corner since it only sat two people and she knows the ash-brunette would much prefer more warmth.

Not that it’ll be embarrassing to be messy… Yō-chan knows how I’m like anyways~

Ding dong. The bell rings and Chika hurries over eagerly.

“Welcome! Ah, Riko-chan~” Chika beams and welcomes the redhead in.

Riko grins from ear to ear. “Not who you expected~?”

“I-I was expecting you too! What are you talking about??” Chika played right into Riko’s trap and lamented the fact that Riko took pleasure in seeing her get all flustered because of her still very much existing love for Yō.

Mou..! Riko-chan always doing that! I swear she’s hanging out too much with Yoshiko-chan!

Riko giggles with a hand over her mouth. “Judging from that reaction…”

“…” Chika and Riko looked into each other’s eyes and Chika avert them, guiding Riko a few steps into her humble abode. “It’s as you think…”

Gosh, I do hope I’m ready for this. For when Yō-chan arrives…

“You two have been in contact, right? On top of our group chat.” Riko approaches the kotatsu. “Ah, do you want Yō-chan to be opposite or beside you?”

Chika’s cheeks pinken slightly. “W-Why are you asking me that?”

Riko gives Chika a smug look. “Because I’m sure you gave it some thought. C’mon, lay it out on your older sister.”

“You’re not my older sister! I’m older than you!” Chika protests.

“By a month. I’m clearly more experienced and mature~” Riko sing-songs with a jolly smile.

Ahh, mou! Before I consider surviving getting to see Yō-chan again, I first gotta survive Riko-chan’s teases!!

“B-Beside!!” Chika huffs.

“Ahh, so you can easily pass her food and perhaps feed her…and get a close-up look of twenty-year-old Yō-chan~” Riko lists out what transpired in Chika’s mind and the orangehead was making noises of denial.

“Stop reading my mind!!” Chika balls her fists that shook in front of her comically.

I want to do all that with Yō-chan but… aaahhh… What happened to resolve to not being so in love with Yō-chan, Takami Chika??

Ding dong. The doorbell rings again and Chika swallows loudly.

Riko smirks and Chika shoots her look before she hurries to the door.

“Welcome-…”

Opening it, Chika was ready to put on a big smile to welcome her best friend in but instead her smile froze in place as she took in the sight of the ash-brunette.

This is what happened to my resolve…

Chika was met with the sight of her best friend looking prettier and somehow more mature in her eyes too. Yō wore a dark blue coat that reached past her bum, the outside wind flapping it just a little. The coat was not the kind to be buttoned up so Chika could see the white long-sleeved top which was thicker at the hems.

Comfy…she looks so huggable…

Ruby eyes trailed down to take in the long, light blue vertically striped pants Yō wore, it made her legs seem longer and Yō look taller.

What is this…? Her hair is slightly longer too… Yō-chan… she’s growing prettier and prettier every day…

“…ka-chan. Chiiikaaa-chan~?”

“Uwaah! Yes?!” Chika breaks out of her reverie and blatant staring to look back up at Yō’s patiently grinning ocean-blue eyes that twinkled gleefully.

Yō tucks her hair behind her ear for a moment before it fell back in front all fluffy and in place. “Do I need to pay a fee or say some magic words to get in? It’s…getting kind of cold.”

Yō rubs her shoulders as a show of how cold she might be feeling and Chika realizes she kept her crush standing at her doorstep for who knows how long!

“Aahh, no, no. Come on in!!” Chika stands to the side, holding the door so the Swimmer could get inside.

“Thank you, Chika-chan. Pardon my intrusion.” Yō greets and puts her boots beside Riko’s.

“W-Welcome in…” Yō passes by and Chika swallows as silently as she could when she smelt something sweet.

Even her scent seems more mature! Did she eat more mikan? Is it perfume? Does she use perfume now?

“Y-Yō-chan smells kinda sweet…” The thought tumbles out of her mind to her mouth and Yō turns around all happy.

“Ah, you noticed! I’ve been using this new shampoo for a few months now but no one at my circle or class noticed! As expected of Chika-chan~ hehe~ I can count on you to know!” Yō was animated and bubbly and Chika felt her heart grow proud that she was the only one to notice.

So, it’s not perfume… That’s good. I like Yō-chan’s natural smell of her sweet mikan shampoo, chlorine, and ocean. But I guess a little less ocean now that it’s been 2 years since she’s been to the seaside…

“Ah, I can get the coat for you.” Chika reaches out both hands and Yō gladly shrugs it off.

“Thank you.” Yō turns back and took a seat where Riko patted the space. “Hey there, Riko-chan! Everything good?”

Riko nods, her hazel eyes sparkling at the sight. “Very good~”

Chika preps the hotpot and the trio of best friends chatted over hot soup, sumptuous dinner and mikans aplenty as they caught up on each other’s lives. Chika learns that Riko has begun performing piano recitals of her original compositions and Yō has been picked for Olympic High Diving and Swimming, alongside that she also will be having a part-time job to cover rents like Chika and other savings.

Yō-chan and Riko-chan are so amazing… I’m just studying children behaviour, psychology, and languages…

.

.

.

“Thank you for having us, Chika-chan.” Riko slips on her shoes and stands to the side so Yō can do the same.

“Ahh, that was so much fun! I love spending time with you, Chika-chan.” Yō smiles so innocently, not knowing the things she say causes Chika’s stomach to flip.

Eh!?

“And Riko-chan~” Yō adds afterwards and Riko chuckles.

“So do I~ If only we could meet up more often…” Riko takes out her phone to check the time.

“Agreed!” Yō cheers.

Ah… Yō-chan and her nonchalant ways of making me fall for her more…

“Let’s make plans then.” Chika walks her best friends out and waved sadly; but alas, it cannot be helped that they both promised to go back to their parents after dinner.

.

.

.

Chika wipes the table once more, not having dishes to wash since Yō and Riko insisted they did the cleaning after Chika did all the preparation.

“You two are too reliable… Now I’ve got too much time to think about…”

Chika plops her head on the table, absentmindedly rolling a mikan back and forth in her palm.

All the time to think about Yō-chan… Gosh… I’ve been spending all night staring at her!! I… I…

Chika holds her heart that thumped away – doki doki – the rhythm of love. Chika’s cheeks burned hotter at her own heart calling her out like that.

“Mou… This is all Yō-chan’s fault…” Chika felt her face grow hot and her heart squeezing painfully, missing that smile, that voice, that lyrical laugh…

I should busy myself with something to not think of Yō-chan too much…

Chika gazes at the mikan she was playing with and hums thoughtfully. Her thoughts processing and slowly but surely reaching a eureka moment.

“I’ll pick up cooking Salisbury steak!” Chika breaks into an excited smile as she wiggles out of the warmth of the kotatsu, scampers for a pen and notebook, and started writing the title ‘Master to Cook Salisbury Steak’ and doodling in a cartoon version of the dish.

“Mmm~ Thinking about it is getting me excited already~” Chika reaches for her phone and starts checking out recipes online and tips and which one she’s going to follow, until…

Wait.

Chika’s expression contorts into one of dreaded realization.

This has to do with Yō-chan again!!

“Aaah, mou!! Of course, the first food I decide to master is Yō-chan’s favourite food! Baka Chika! Baka subconscious! Uuuu…” Chika pouts at the research that seemingly smiles back at her mockingly.

Aaahh… … Salisbury steak? Salisbury steak..? Salisbury… Yō-chan… If she likes what I cook…

Chika’s train of thought slowly drifts to a scene of her whipping up the Salisbury steak just for her crush, and the ash-brunette would be starry-eyed and eliciting happy sounds of enjoyment. Praising Chika for the meal and how delicious it is and just getting to see that pearly white smile makes Chika’s heart swell with her ever-growing love despite the distance she tries so hard to place between her and Yō.

Chika dramatically slams her hands on the table, determined. “I’m still going to do it! I’ve already decided on it!! And well…”

If Yō-chan will like what I cook… That’s…just a bonus I’ll take..! 

 


 

College Year 3

April 16th, five minutes to Yō’s birthday.

Chika and Yō have always celebrated their birthdays together, in person, without a doubt, even without having to say they had plans for each other on that special day. However, since college have them separated, for the past two years Chika would send her well-crafted, love-filled birthday message (that does not reveal her romantic feelings) to Yō at midnight. And afterwards, they’d chat on the phone, even video call.

“Ahh, I’m getting nervous… I hope Yō-chan is excited to receive all the birthday messages…! I hope the internet does not fail me and mine reaches first somehow..!” Chika fidgets where she sits on the bed, knees to her chest as she gripped her phone that was already on the message page with her best friend for 30 minutes now.

Yō-chan…~ May you continue to grow as the amazing, hardworking, caring…mikan-loving and Salisbury Steak-loving…swimming pool and ocean-loving girl you are!!

A shy, nervous smile plays on Chika’s lips as she reads in her mind the words she typed to send to Yō for the occasion. Fishing for reactions on the fact that she added a bunch of things the ash-brunette adored. Chika would add ‘Chika-loving’ if she did not writhe in bed and groaned and fought her blush till she deleted and wrote, wrote and deleted that part a grand total of eleven times.

That would be too much for Chika to handle so…I’ll leave that for another time!

The clock counted down, seconds to midnight, marching towards one of Chika’s favourite days of the year. When she gets to have Yō time. To hear her voice, her laugh, her attention, her presence, her everything.

Ahh, here we go!

Midnight. Chika hits send! She grips her phone eagerly as she watches the message go, the tick…does not turn green.

“Eh?” Chika blinks, her heart still racing.

Maybe she just got swarmed with so many messages that…she has not read Chika’s…

A minute passes and Chika’s heart pounded loudly in her ribcage, her crimson eyes never leaving the part where the words ‘read’ will appear.

Yō…chan..?

Five minutes goes. And Chika swallows her dread, not wanting to think that Yō might be actively ignoring her or forgotten about her.

Could she have…fallen asleep..?

Chika shakes her head, certain that the swimmer did not forget to stay up on her birthday, they were texting about it in the group chat too.

Chika waited…

And waited…

Her grip on her phone loosened as her eyes grew moist and her lips turned dry.

What is this…feeling…of loneliness…? It reminds me of that day…

A notification from Insta pops up and Chika was going to swipe it away but she noticed that it was Yō’s, so she clicks it in a hurry. The post shows that Yō was having a birthday party at midnight with her college friends.

Ah…so that’s why… she didn’t have time with her phone earlier…

Soon after, she receives a message on Line. The reply she wanted?

Yō: Thanks, Chika-chan! ^v^ ♡

Chika’s eyes well up with tears against her volition, her skin crawls and a sob escapes her. Her phone drops to the bed as her hand lost the strength to hold it. And she buries her head in her arms, sniffling.

Ah…I don’t like this… I don’t want to be replaced… I want… more Yō-chan…

The silence of the room screamed in Chika’s ears and echoed inside of her. Feeling so alone… Chika raises her head slowly, gazing around her empty room with a vision that was blurred by tears.

Chika limply climbs out of bed and enters the kitchen, her body moving on its own as she desperately sought distraction from the stabbing and squeezing pain she felt in her heart.

Before she knew it, she had onions chopping, a great excuse for tears. And grounded beef being seasoned along with other ingredients the orangehead prepped by memory from the many months of continued practice of this very dish.

Chika laughed dryly.

And I’m supposed to be trying my best to forget my love for her…

Chika hiccups and wipes her tears away messily.

What am I doing……? 

And yet, Chika never stopped cooking Salisbury Steak daily.

 


 

31st July, minutes to Chika’s birthday.

The sounds of the computer keyboard sounded its final tap as Chika finishes her report with a relieved sigh.

“Haa… And I was hoping I’d forget about my birthday with this report…” Chika purses her lips as she glanced at the clock – three more minutes before the date changes.

Will Yō-chan remember..? What if she’s at another party..? What if…

Yō’s birthday this year haunts Chika’s thoughts to the point that she dreams of Yō completely forgetting about her and she knows it’s a dream since that isn’t possible, but it still makes her break out in cold sweat nonetheless.

With trembling fingers, Chika picks up her phone and unlocks it.

Her messages refresh just as the date changes and her breath hitches as she saw Yō’s name flew to the top. She never clicked into a message this fast and her jaw falls agape at the picture she received.

Eh!? Swimsuit?! Competitive swimsuit Yō-chan!!

While her brain was frantically trying to understand why she would receive such a picture, her fingers swiftly hit the download to save the picture she’d give more time to analysing and indulging in after she read the birthday message.

However, before she could quite get to that, she saw the picture got removed and the ash-brunette was typing and sending her many messages frantically.

Yō: Uwaa!

Yō: Wrong image!

Yō: I didn’t mean to send that!

Yō: You didn’t see that did you??? @//c//@

Chika’s cheeks melted into a grin, the tension from earlier lost from her shoulders.

A mistake, huh~?

Chika: Saw and saved. (・ω<)b☆

Yō: Eh!? Why would you save it??? (>3<;)

Why? Because I love you…not that I will say it.

Chika: It could be useful!

Yō: How so! (>3<;)

Chika: As extortion pic XD

Yō: Mou~ Chika-chan~! XD

Chika laughs and smiles widely at her phone, at their little back and forth that she missed so much. She could hardly believe that she was worrying so much just minutes ago.

Yō: A-ny-ways! The correct picture is this~

Yō sends another picture – this time it was a closeup, clearly a picture taken by herself, unlike the other one. She wore silly Happy Birthday Glasses in which the words ‘HAPPY’ and ‘BIRTHDAY; were on top of the frame in a mix of colours that made up the rainbow. The Swimmer had such a huge dorky expression, smiling like it was her birthday instead.

Chika: Was this taken during your birthday? XD

Yō: Buu buu desu wa!

Yō: Look, I even made sure the picture shows that I dressed for your birthday!

Chika blinks and taps into the picture to find the clues. Chika makes a bunch of thinking noises and just as she felt her phone vibrate with the ash-brunette asking:

Yō: Need more clues~? :D

Chika scrutinizes the picture, constantly being distracted by that megawatt smile of Yō’s.

Mm…ah..!!!

Chika: The calendar at the back is 31st July!!

Yō: You got it!! There’s more though~ ;D

Chika: Hmmm……..

Chika: The laptop making a cameo is showing the date too OcO!

Yō: Yup yup!!

Chika could feel Yō’s excitement rising with each correct guess and it made the orangehead smile uncontrollably, feeling floatier by the second.

Chika: Saving this one too ♡ (≧◡≦)

Yō: XD This one… is okay.

Chika: -waggles eyebrows-

Yō: Chika-chan!!

Chika: wwwww

Ah… I’m so hopeless… Just like that…

Chika’s smile only went from meltier to meltier and her heart soared as she enjoyed every second of messing around with Yō as they do.

I feel like I’m only loving her even more…

Yō: Please go easy on me, your majesty! (>△<;)

Chika: Hm-mm. Hm-hm. I shall consider it depending on how loyal you are. ♕

They have a phrase for this, don’t they...?

Yō: As loyal as loyal goes, your majesty!! ♘

“Chika can’t help but be attracted to Yō.”

Chika’s cheeks explode into a red-hot blush as she shook her head and a hand flew to her face to cover it partially.

No, what am I saying…!!

Chika: You will do anything for me then? ♕

Chika types in slowly, hovering over the send button for a time as she wondered if Yō would rush over to her side if she told Yō she missed her and wanted her by her side right this moment.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” …?

Chika’s eyes glaze over as she places her hand over her heart, feeling the constant and faster than the normal pulse, and the way she felt a tingling sensation from her toes to her head. A warmth. A comforting veil of their moment.

Yō: I will run through fire, dive to the deepest of seas, and take a million stabs of the sword for you, your majesty. ♘

Ahh…mou… I want more Yō-chan…

Chika: I’ll go easy on you then!

Yō: Yay!!! \(T▽T)/       

Yō calls afterwards and they chatted till Chika could no longer keep her eyes open or speak coherent words. Chika remembers Yō’s laughter reaching her ear, soft, sweet and charming. Telling her she loves talking to her, she loves Chika’s sleepy noises and sleepy Chika was lulled to sleep and agreed to end the call.

Chika’s cheeks were a rosy red and her mood was on cloud nine on her birthday as a third-year student in university. She cooked Salisbury steak again, dining like a queen with her loyal knight.

 


 

College Year 4

Out in a family restaurant, Chika stirs the ice in her glass with her straw unrhythmically with eyebrows bent in thoughtful worry. “Ahh… What should I choose…?”

Graduation is nearing and I’ve got to decide on my career path!

“To continue staying in Shizuoka prefecture or move over to Tokyo, huh?” Chika’s other childhood friend that was not her big-time crush – long, blue hair put up in a ponytail, plain navy-blue shirt and long pants wore a nonchalant smile as she voiced Chika’s worries at the moment.

“Exactly! What should I do, Kanan-chan~~” Chika whines.

To think I’d do well enough in school and am going to become a kindergarten teacher...!

Kanan shrugs, looking to Riko who sat on the right and to her girlfriend, blonde and pretty, who sat on her left, to see if any of them would like to give some input. It was also that action that made Chika frown and push her drink to the side so she could knock both fists on the table.

“And why are you three all squeezed together and leaving me sitting alone! What’s with that grin, Mari-chan!!” The orangehead puffs her cheeks out at her three friends since high school.

Mari who is cheeky smiles and Kanan’s waggles her eyebrows. “Oh, you know~ All so that you can sit with a certain sweet and charming Swimmer~”

“Urk.” Chika flinched from the call-out.

I would love that. I’m not supposed to. But I would love that. But that doesn’t mean you three should band together and do this to me!! I appreciate it though??

Chika was always in conflict with herself in her quest to let go of her now six years old love for one Watanabe Yō.

Riko giggles, being careful with her beige fur jacket as she takes a sip of her iced apple tea. “Since you can’t get over Yō-chan, why not try to get closer to her instead?”

HOLD ON.

“W-What do you mean I can’t get over her!” Chika’s reaction revealed it all.

“Exactly as she says, Chikachi~ Run on over and get Yō falling head over heels for you with your feminine charms!” Mari hugs Kanan’s arm, leaning forwards and making a show of burying her girlfriend’s fit and muscular arm in her cleavage which her pastel blue dress conveniently exposed enough of.

“Gyawh! Wh-What feminine charms?!?” Chika looked and looked away, her mouth agape in distraught, cheeks an embarrassed glow and eyes moving towards her chest.

Mou!! What kind of ideas is Mari-chan even planting into my head!!

Kanan shakes her head, used to her girlfriend’s outrageous sense of humour and wild ideas she gets dragged into playing alone. “Mari.”

The blonde loosens her hold and leans back at the kind chiding tone.

Riko laughs again. “If anything, my vote is on you moving to Tokyo so we all get to hang out more often.”

Kanan nods along. “Fufu~ We just think it’ll be great to spend more time together. Don’t you agree?”

“I do like spending time with Yō-chan… despite her making my heart race all the time…” Chika mumbles the second half.

“Ah! There you are!”

A voice that stole Chika’s attention immediately entered her ears and her breath was stolen too.

“Sorry I’m late, girls~ I missed the bus! It’s so different compared to Tokyo’s wait time…”

Chika was already shaken by her conversation with Riko, Mari and Kanan, but now, after months of not seeing Yō… Seeing her in the flesh… Hearing her voice that did not go through the intercom… Chika fell silent as her heartbeat grew louder.

It’s Yō-chan… Her hair grew longer again… It’s at least five centimetres past her shoulders. I bet it’ll be so soft to run my fingers through…

“It’s still real nice to be back in Uchiura! Ahh, the air and space, and people and…” Yō was speaking and not sitting while Chika continued to stare.

Ah, those blue eyes… Always so bright and having Chika attracted like a moth to a flame…

“This family restaurant sure brings back memories. How’s everyone doing?” Yō spoke cheerily.

Her lips, moving…talking…alluring… I wonder how soft it’ll be on mine…

Chika shakes her blush-covered head rapidly to push the thought away while her heart threatened to drum its way out of her ribcage. Her crimson eyes tear themselves away from Yō’s plump and alluring red lips, only to be lost in the ash-brunette’s style.

White long-sleeved cotton tee which has a thick grey line across the chest area and the arms, paired with yellowish-brown shorts and a purple-yellow checkered jacket that Chika wanted to be as it hugged Yō’s waist where the high-diver tied it.

Her smooth and toned legs were mostly exposed because shorts led to pretty looking brown boots to match her bottom.

Yō-chan is still as fashionable as ever…she has such a good style… Is Chika good enough for someone like her…?

“Chi~ka~chan~ If you stare that much, I’ll get embarrassed, ya know?” Yō’s shining pearly whites sang the orangehead’s name in that sweet, caring way which did the trick in breaking Chika out of her blatant staring.

!?

“Ah…! S-sorry…” Chika blinks a myriad of times and finally realized she was taking up most of the bench and had to move in so Yō could sit too so she shuffles in, looking anywhere but Yō’s pretty ocean-blue eyes.

“Hehehe, you’re looking cute today too, Chika-chan ♡” Yō might as well consider being a psychic as she accurately read all of Chika’s thoughts and doings but then again, Chika knew this was Yō’s nature – to be ridiculously charming without trying.

“Eh, ah, er… T-Thank you…” Chika looks at Yō with such a strong yearning gaze and hearts all around her that the ladies seated opposite of them wondered how Yō could not tell and why Chika did not dare to try confessing again.

Moving to Tokyo to get more of this, huh…? Will my heart last…?

 


 

Working Adult Year 1

Busy. Busy. Busy.

Moving to a new place, getting accustomed to new living accommodations, and settling into the school, being a full-time kindergarten teacher took a long time. Before Chika knew it, about six months has passed since she started work.

“Uuu…” Chika sounds her exhaustion as she slurps her fruit wine, one that brought about a citrusy flavour, however, contrary to the drink’s bright colour, Chika’s body posture was slumped.

Riko who sat across her chuckles as she sips her cocktail. “That tough being a teacher, huh? Did you meet many children like you~?”

“Wha- Nooo… They are all really cute with how they call me ‘sensei’ or ‘Chika-sensei~’!” The kindergarten teacher straightens her back to regain some dignity as a role model for the kids.

I wasn’t that bad in class too…

“Hm..?” Chika looks to Yō who sat quietly beside Riko, staring at her drink absentmindedly. “Yō-chan? Is everything okay?”

Yō-chan is being unusually quiet! Usually, she’d be more animated and talkative!

“Eh? Ahh, no…I’m okay. I was just…thinking about how Chika-chan and Riko-chan both can handle your liquor but I am…” Yō picks up her glass and half glares at the juice she’s having. “…still drinking juice like a child.”

What is with that pout, she’s too cute!!

“I-It’s good to drink juice though! Right, Riko-chan?” Chika nods eagerly to reassure Yō.      

“It is.” The redhead smiles but takes another sip of hers, sighing blissfully as she swallows and feels the drink go down her.

Yō puffs her cheeks out like a squirrel. “Mou!”

“Riko-chan!” Chika protests alongside her best friend.

Riko chortles. “I’m just teasing~”

The Swimmer shakes her head and returns to her furrowed eyebrows and deep in thought state. “Maybe…I should train up my alcohol tolerance!”

Eh!? No, no, no! That’s not good!

Yō’s blue eyes twinkle with sixty-five per cent determination while Chika considers how she can derail Yō’s train of thought and back to accepting that juice is best for the easily intoxicated ash-brunette.

I can’t let her get into drinking… Not after we found out how she’s like when drunk…

“You can’t!” Chika exclaims before formulating a plan.

“Eh? Why not?” Yō asked in a slightly whiney tone that she did not get Chika’s immediate support.

Riko puts a hand on Yō’s shoulder. “It isn’t important to learn to drink alcohol. Especially for your case.”

Exactly! Exactly!

Chika nods fervently.

“But…I don’t get to join you two…” The ash-brunette’s shoulders drooped and her gaze fell to the table sadly; Chika swears she could see dog ears on Yō’s head drooping too.

No, Yō-chan. No matter the puppy dog eyes you pull. We won’t agree to this. Not when you get so touchy-feely, huggy and just…downright affectionate!

“You get to join us all the time. It’s okay to be drinking different drinks, you know?” Chika reaches over to pat Yō but holds back at the last second, Riko seemingly notices and helps to do so instead.

Ah…why did I stop there…? Because I remembered the last time Yō-chan got drunk and kept saying she loves me while I did my best to not have my heart combust ‘cos I know she means it as best friends??

“Mm…Fine…” Yō relents and drinks her juice, her frown turning upside down when the sweetness washes over her tongue.

“…Juice is good,” Yō mumbles while smiling at the drink and Chika swallows discreetly.

She’s too cute even in the simple things she does!

“So, how have your first half year been, Yō-chan?” Riko asks as she picks up a piece of Nanban chicken to eat.

Chika eyes the cheese fries but holds off as she wanted to hear about her crush’s life updates attentively. That’s when she notices that Yō was starting to have some dark circles around her eyes.

Eh? Is Yō-chan not getting enough sleep..?

“Ah… To tell you girls the truth… Things are very hectic… All over the place!” Yō picks up a cheese fry that Chika had been eyeing and eats it. The orangehead took that as her cue to eat some too.

“That doesn’t sound too good.” Riko’s expression changed to one of concern as she shifted in her seat to get a better look at the Swimmer.

“Well. As you know, I’m lucky enough to be chosen as an Olympic Swimmer and for the High-diving events.”

“You totally deserve it!!” Chika chimes in; her Proud-Of-My-Best-Friend switch flipped, crimson eyes practically burning with second-hand passion.

Yō chuckles at Chika’s vigour. “Thank you~ But keeping up with training and holding a normal job and balancing the chores at home…? I’m having some trouble doing so, there are days I don’t eat and I just go to bed. Or-”

“Wait, you’re not eating?? That’s not good, Yō-chan!” Chika stands to get a better look of Yō from top to bottom and tries to make out if the ash-brunette lost weight too but Yō was wearing a hoodie so it wasn’t too obvious.

She really isn’t getting enough sleep! Or nutrients!

“I-I don’t do it too often…” The way Yō’s eyes shift to the side when she said it told Chika enough – Captain Capable was now Captain Unstable!

“How often?” Chika stared directly at Yō which made the ash-brunette fidget in her spot, looking to Riko for assistance but the pianist simply gave her the same concerned look.

“Ahh, well… maybe… twice…or thrice a week?” Yō scratches her cheeks, unable to look at either of her best friends.

That’s not good at all! I gotta do something! How can I help…?

“I’ll help.” Chika blurts out.

“Eh? You don’t have to-”

“I’ll help. I can come on over on the weekends, either Saturday or Sunday. I can do the chores and even cook for you…” Chika’s voice turns smaller at the cooking part as she remembers how she has been practising cooking Yō’s favourite food for years now.

Oh no, my face feels hot…! I hope she does not notice that I want to… just be there for her…

“That…Sounds super wonderful but Chika-chan is busy too-”

“I think it’s a great plan.” Riko chips in and send a quick wink Chika’s way.

“But-”

“No buts. It’s for the greater good~” Riko all but sings and raises her glass while pushing Yō’s into the Swimmer’s hands. She gestures to Chika to hold up hers and with that momentum, the deal was sealed with the clink of their glasses.

Chika keys in her phone’s calendar to pop by Yō’s place on Saturday in the morning and Yō writes in her notebook to remind herself to make an extra key for Chika. They look at each other and shared a laugh.

“I’ll be in your care~” Yō wore a crooked smile that Chika mimicked.

“I’ll be in your care” … Ahhhh, what is this huge sense of accomplishment when I haven’t even done anything yet??? Thank you, Riko-chan!!

 


 

“Bye-bye, sensei~”

Chika waves with a smile to the last of the children being picked up by their parents and she heaved a sigh of relief. Checking her watch, she nods to herself that she will be able to make it to the supermarket’s 10-minute sale if she leaves now.

.

.

.

The orangehead grins at the meat and vegetables in hand as she placed them all in her fridge, prepped and ready to make another meal for her crush when she goes over to her house tomorrow.

Saturdays… They’ve got such a nice ring to it~ hehe~

Chika falls asleep smiling.

 


 

8 am. Chika unlocks the door to Yō’s house like it was second nature, she feels heat rush to her cheeks as she locks the door and her heart seemed to echo around the quiet house, the owner still sleeping.

Gosh… It’s been a few months now and when I think about how happy Yō-chan gets when waking to a good lunch…~

Chika closes her eyes and shakes her head, blows out a breath of determination as she makes her way to the kitchen to put the fresh ingredients she bought last evening into Yō’s fridge. The fridge that Chika knows better than the owner. Again, Chika feels her heart do a little skip and her cheeks grow a little warmer.

This sense of pride… Yō-chaaaan…! If you don’t claim back this kitchen soon..! I’m going to fantasize about how it’s like I’m your girlfriend!!

Chika’s face melted into a dorky, in-love smile for a good minute before she floated back down to reality and she ties her hair into a ponytail, preps the cleaning stick with its wipes and started cleaning the house.

9.30 am. Chika wiped her sweat after she put away the mop and cloth used for wiping the tabletops and she admires the house’s cleanliness after washing her own hands.

I amaze myself again with how well I get this done! Hehe~ but I guess this is a breeze since I am an innkeeper’s daughter after all!

Chika pats herself on the back of her mind and looks over to Yō’s room.

Maybe just a peek…

The orangehead creeks open the door to where her best friend’s soft snores could be heard and she closes it back softly, tiptoeing to the side of the bed, gazing down at the ash-brunette’s sleeping face.

Without thinking Chika’s hand reaches over, using the back of her hand to caress Yō’s squishy cheek, and Chika lowers herself to the floor to admire her best friend from a lower angle.

She’s so beautiful…

Chika whispers under her breath, “Hey, Yō-chan… You’re so amazing, Chika can’t help but fall more and more in love with you each day…”

Ah, I’m still so, so, so in love with Yō-chan if I’m staring at her cute sleeping face and finding it cute…!!

The orangehead puffs her left cheek out and pokes the ash-brunette’s cheeks, not minding and in all honesty, loving the sleepy groans that Yō made with each poke.

Is this how to woo her? Quietly be by her side until she shows signs of loving me back?

Chika makes a thinking face and retracts her finger that was addicted to Yō’s cheeks, and she checks her watch by pressing the light on it.

10 am. Chika started her preparations for cooking Yō’s favourite food – Salisbury steak with extra cheese in them.

12 pm. Chika got off the sofa to go wake the sleeping beauty.

“Yō~chan~ Rise and shine, sleepyhead~” Chika sing-songs as she switches on the lights and grins at a groaning Yō, desperately trying to cover her eyes with her hands, then her blanket.

Hehe, I’ll never get tired of that reaction~

Chika goes over to tug the blankets away from her best friend. “Yō-channnn~ Lunch is ready. You don’t want it cold, right?”

Yō stops pulling the blanket back and allows Chika to take it away from her. She blinks her bleary ocean-blue eyes up at the orangehead and after some time, she smiles half-asleep and half-awake. “Good morning, Chika-chan. It’s always so nice waking to you.”

!!! Wha—EH!?!? Ahhh… I… I…

Chika turned scarlet red like her eyes at Yō’s first words upon waking. At Yō unintentionally making it seem like they were sleeping together so Yō gets to wake up to Chika.

I swear she says this to other girls too.

The orangehead did what she can to display composure as she returns a sweet smile. “Good morning, Yō-chan. Do you say that to anyone you wake up to?”

“Eh? Of course not. I say it only to you.” Yō immediately replies, eyes widening slightly.

Only to me… Ah… I’m such a simple person… If you tell me it’s only to me… I can’t help but feel happy…!!

“I-I see…” Chika makes to turn away but Yō grabs her hand and Chika looks into Yō’s eyes, getting lost in them as Yō did not say anything.

Eh..? Why did she stop me from going if she’s just going to stare at me!

“Chika-chan.”

“Yeah?” Chika takes in a deep breath of air from her nose.

“Just wanted to add that…” The ash-brunette started shuffling out of bed, not letting go of Chika’s hand. “…I know lunch won’t be cold cos you always wake me first and finish cooking the meal while I get ready~”

…!! /////

Yō stood taller than Chika as the orangehead avert her gaze to the floor.

She noticed…

“Thank you for that~” Yō beams and makes her way for the bathroom, leaving Chika missing the feel of her hand being held by Yō.

Uuu… I’ve got to somehow be the one on the attack instead… With food?

.

.

.

Food was a double-edged sword.

If it made Yō possibly like Chika more, it made Chika like Yō even more.

The ash-brunette’s eyes were sparkling and smile extra wide as she gushed and cooed and mewed her happiness with each bite she took of the Salisbury steak Chika served onto the table this fine weather Saturday.

“I-It’s shooo delishouss, Chika-chwaann!” Yō’s face melted along with the meat and cheese in her mouth.

Chika’s cheeks were reddening at quite a fast rate as Yō unabashedly expresses her love for Chika’s tremendous improvement, no, mastery in cooking Yō’s favourite food as the swimmer says so herself.

“The tenderness! The flavour! The savoury! The cheese!! Ahhh, mou! I don’t even know what to say except—”

Whatever that’s going to come out of that sweet tongue is definitely going to make me fall for her even more.

“I could eat this every day~ I could eat Chika-chan’s cooking every day and I will never get sick of it! Hehe~” Yō hums in delight as her eyes were smiling so much it was barely open.

See what I said?

Chika lifted a hand over her mouth as she stared at the table, hoping against all odds that her crush could not hear her heart drum loudly in her chest.

“Chika-chan?” Yō asks between bites as she noticed the orangehead’s hands were not moving as much as she was to wolf down the delicious meal.

Chika shakes her head. “Like it?”

Yō’s megawatt smile spread across her face yet again. “Love it!”

I wish she was saying she loves me instead…

 


 

Working Adult Year 2

Chika took a popcorn out of the box Yō held as they sat side by side, shoulder to shoulder in Yō’s house where they were watching a movie together.

Come to think of it…

Losing focus on the movie, Chika looks over to admire Yō’s side profile.

It’s almost Yō-chan’s birthday again…  

“Ne, ne, Yō-chan~” Chika calls for her best friend’s attention while popping a few more popcorn into her mouth.

“Yeah?” Yō grins at her best friend’s greedy act of throwing at least five popcorn into her mouth at once, not minding one bit that she was being distracted from the movie.

“Is there anything you want for your birthday this year?” Chika asks, picking up popcorn to offer Yō, the ash-brunette opens her mouth and Chika throws it in with a giggle.

“Mm…” Yō hums thoughtfully for a moment before turning her body to face Chika fully, expression serious. “Chika-chan.”

“Mm?” Chika cocks her head to the side, waiting.

“Would you like to live with me?”

“Eh?” Chika’s mouth falls agape as she lets out a sound from the unexpected bomb that just dropped.

Wait.

What just happened?

Did Yō-chan just ask me to live with her? That’s not possible, right? Was that my heart talking? Did I just imagine it? I—

“Ah…I’m sorry to ask so suddenly. If you don’t want to…” Yō apologizes, her expression troubled as her eyebrows were bent and her smile conflicted, and Chika could see the ash-brunette pulling away in slow motion.

I want that!! BUT. Why is this happening? Where is this coming from??

“I-I didn’t’ say I don’t want that! B-But that’s really sudden, Yō-chan…it surprised me…haha…ha…” Chika was having a hard time deciding to look at the popcorn, the movie that was still playing but she could not hear, or at Yō who was obviously back to smiles now.

“Really?! Yay!!” Yō cheers and giggles softly. “Well, how do I put it…? Ever since you’ve come over to help with the chores…cook meals for me and… Getting to eat with Chika-chan and simply spending time together makes me really happy.”

Chika licks her very dry lips as Yō continues.

“And getting to be awakened by Chika-chan…It makes me think about how we get to say ‘Good morning’ to each other. And ‘Thank you for the food’ before and after meals… It makes me think about how nice it’d be to get to say ‘I’m home’ and receive a ‘Welcome back’ from you…? Ahh, I don’t even know what I’m saying or where I’m going with this… So, well, Chika-chan… would you…like to live with me?”

It was not the first time for Chika to see a shy Yō. It was not the first time Yō makes Chika’s heart clench tight and beat hard against her will. It was not the first time Chika felt like she wanted to pull Yō into a huge hug and to scream how much she loves Yō. It was not the first time Chika chose to suppress those desires as she blinks back tears of happiness as she nodded and nodded.

“Yes. I would like that.” Chika answers and Yō throws her hands up in a cheer, sending popcorn flying onto the floor, the couch, Chika and herself.

What is with this dorky reaction…? This isn’t good… I’m thinking I might have a chance…

 


 

Chika was surprised. Genuinely surprised.

Yō handled all the necessary paperwork and getting of a new house for them to move into quicker than expected. When asked, Yō snickers proudly revealing that she has been thinking about staying together for a while now so she has it all planned out.

Chika had to will her heart not to drum out of her ribcage.

She thought. This. Through. Mou..!! There’s a limit to being charming, Yō-chan!!

 


 

The first time Chika said “Welcome home, Yō-chan~”, she thought her heart just might stop then and there.

Yō’s face morphs into a huge and wide smile and she literally saw the tiredness got blasted away from the ash-brunette’s face and posture. “I’m home, Chika-chan~”

Ahh, won’t you be mine already???

Chika turns around in a hurry, retreating inside.

“Eh? Chika-chan?” The ash-brunette takes off her shoes and put it away neatly before being a curious puppy, trailing behind Chika and poking her head to the left and right of her best friend, wanting to see why the orangehead is hiding her face.

“Mou!! Stay away, Yō-chan!” Chika protests and pushes against Yō’s face while the swimmer laughs.

“I want to see~~”

 


 

If Chika thought welcoming Yō home was the highlight of living in the same apartment as her crush, she was highly mistaken.

Ahh… Today was a busy day… We had a child puking, toys breaking and five late parents… I’m exhausted…

Chika took out her keys, her tiredness making her fumble to pick the right one.

I just wanna get home and rest—

Chika opens the door and was met with Yō in a maid costume; a frilly, black and white dress, ribbons held Yō’s hair in two small pigtails.

And a floaty smile greets her, “Welcome home, Master. Would you like a bath…? Dinner...? Or...?”

Chika’s face was fully red as she did imagine the last part. “Eh? Eh? Ehhh???”

Wait, Yō-chan cut her hair back to shoulder length too?? It’s so cute!!

Yō grins, holding back her laugh as she took Chika’s hand and guided her inside, assisting the dumbfounded orangehead in removing her shoes and asking again in that soothing voice of hers.

“Are you hungry, Chika-chan? I’ve-”

“Did I die and go to heaven?” Chika cuts Yō’s sentence. She had to!

What did I do to deserve my crush’s affections before asking her out and marrying her!?

Yō chuckles then put on a pout. “Mou, Chika-chan~ You could try to play along for a bit.”

Chika shook her head slowly, still in disbelief as Yō in a maid costume and holding her hand made her forget the fact that her best friend was into uniforms, dress ups and roleplay.

“I took the day off but didn’t tell you about it so I could surprise you! Now, stop being so stunned and go unwind in the hot bath I’ve already prepared for you. C’mon now~” Yō ushers Chika to the bathroom.

Not together, huh…? Somehow, I’m feeling lonely about that…

Chika sighs as she lets the comfortable warmth of the hot water rejuvenate her skin and soul. Closing her eyes, the image of Yō in a maid costume floated back to the forefront of her mind and she places her hand over her beating heart.

Mm…yup… Yō-chan is an angel sent to Earth to mess with me… And, I, Takami Chika loves that.

 


 

Happy days of living with her crush continued and just as Chika was getting comfortable. One line from her colleagues during lunch break brought reality back to Chika.

“Yō-san is such a good catch; Chika is sure to miss her when she gets a boyfriend!”

Boy…friend…

Chika was so preoccupied with her daily happiness, she forgot that there was that possibility of Yō meeting her future partner and they would have no choice but to separate.

Yō paid for most of the house so she wouldn’t be surprised if she had to be the one to move out while Yō’s future partner moves in to live with her instead.

Chika felt like crying just from the thought of a random guy being in Yō’s life.

Ah… I don’t like this… I don’t want to think about Yō-chan being taken but…someday… one day… Yō-chan will…  

.

.

.

“Chika-chan?” Yō’s tone was gentle. “Is something wrong? You’ve been looking a little down lately… If you’re not feeling well, you should take time off from work.”

Don’t be so kind to me… I’ll just keep falling for you further and further and it’ll hurt to have to go…

Chika shakes her head. “It’s nothing.”

“Mm… It doesn’t seem like nothing…” Yō mumbles but gives Chika space.

The orangehead looks at Yō forlornly…longingly…and she goes into her room, her pillow was wet from tears that night.

 


 

Before negativity could swallow Chika whole, Yō had other plans as she prepared toast and sunny side ups for breakfast and a smoking hot cup of milk for Chika the following day.

“Chiiika-chan~ Are you awake yet, sleepyhead~?” Yō teased as Chika exited the room with a massive bedhead and a huge yawn.

“Huee…? Yō-chan…? Good morn’…”

“I’ve prepared breakfast,” Yō informs as Chika heads inside the bathroom to brush her teeth and wash her face.

Ten minutes later, the orangehead emerges back out with pink-tinted cheeks, always a little embarrassed at showing Yō that not-good-with-mornings side of her.

The ash-brunette grins, not knowing Chika’s worries. “Welcome back. Let’s dig in!”

“Ah. Yō-chan’s cooking~ I love them! Thank you for the food!” Chika slips onto her chair and takes a big bite off the bread, eliciting sounds of joy.

“How is it~?” Yō watched with anticipation.

“Yummy as always!” Chika announces with a thumbs up.

“I’m glad to know!” Yō beams and starts on her breakfast too.

I’m going to miss Yō-chan’s cooking when… ahh…I don’t want to think about it but…

Chika blinks hard to fight the stinging of her eyes, she chews her toast slowly and gingerly.

Yō notices and understands that a frontal approach will not work on her stubborn childhood friend, so she takes a long sip of her sweet milk, licking the excess on her lips before starting the topic.

“Chika-chan, Christmas is coming up, huh?”

“Eh..? Ah… Yeah.” Chika raises her head to see Yō smiling and clearly looking forward to the holiday.

D-Don’t tell me… she already has a boyfriend and she’s going to tell me that she’s going to bring him back on that day? I won’t even have time to prepare my heart and I will spend a lonely Christmas—

“Are you free that day?”

“Eh?”

Chika blinks twice, another three times. “Am I…free…?”

Yō scratches her cheek and nods. “In case you might have a secret boyfriend out there, ya know? I got to make sure before asking you if we can spend the day together.”

“I don’t have a boyfriend! W-What about Yō-chan? Wouldn’t you want to spend it…with a special person…?” Chika wrings her legs together, worried to hear that her best friend has a special person.

Yō laughs and Chika raised her head again to see the ash-brunette waving her hand left to right. “I don’t have a boyfriend. And I’m asking my special person out for Christmas. Really hoping she’d say yes.”

Chika’s eyes widen at Yō’s upturned eyebrows and a mix of the playful and shy smile on her lips. “W-Who…?”

“You.” The Swimmer keeps eye contact for as long as she could.

I don’t have classes on that day so yes. But wait. Is Yō-chan asking me out??? In a sense…

“Ahh, gosh… It’s so nerve-wracking waiting for an answer…” The ash-brunette lifts her mug over her face, and Chika notices the blush on her crush.

If you do these sort of things… It’s okay for Chika to misunderstand and hope, right…?

Chika feels the stress and worry dissipate like the smoke that rises from her hot milk. “I am free on Christmas.”

Yō lowers her cup and her sunshine smile graces Chika. “Then! We can spend Christmas together?”

“Mmph. We can.” Chika reaches for her drink, feeling very thirsty all of a sudden.

Yō’s enthusiasm was palpable as the ash-brunette took out a notepad and started scribbling on it. “I’ve got a bunch of ideas thought out, ahh, it’s going to be a fun Christmas this year~”

She has been secretly planning Christmas with me just like the idea to live together?? Ahh, mouuu, Yō-chan..!!!!

“Wait.”

“Eh?” Yō’s pen stops moving.

“I won’t allow Yō-chan to do everything. Let me in on the plan!” Chika pulls her chair beside the Swimmer who lifts her notepad high and away from Chika’s sights and grasps.

“Eh, wait. Chika-chan!”

“I’m not waiting!” Chika stands and they start wrestling for the notepad.

“W-Wait..! Chika-chan! You’ve gotta be careful or you might knock the drinks over!” Yō leans back, her voice was that of safety concern yet her grin betrayed her cheeky side.

Chika was already one knee on Yō’s chair, giggling, as she kept trying to grab the papers full of Yō’s heartful notes with a determined smile of her own.

“Uwaaa!” Chika lets out a cry as she was lifted by Yō’s strong arms, the ash-brunette laughing evilly as she spun the orangehead one round before letting Chika’s feet touch the ground again.

“The notes are off-limits, missy.” Yō squints, her voice low as she waggles her eyebrows at her win.

B-Being carried by Yō-chan felt really nice, like it’s been so long since we had such contact…but…

“Is that a wild uniform!?” Chika points and Yō turns around immediately.

“Where!? Ahhh!” Yō felt the notepad stolen from her hands as Chika successfully distracted her with her love for uniforms.

“Wahaha! Let’s see, let’s see~” Chika flips the page, reads the words and blushes.

“Candlelit Dinner and Aroma candles…”

What is with the romantic plans??

“I-Isn’t that the things that come to mind for Christmas?” Yō averts her gaze and covers her embarrassed face.

“Maybe. But more importantly… You drew in a lot of hearts…” Chika spotted the same flushed cheeks as her heart beat away from the cute hearts the ash-brunette drew beside the ideas and all around the paper.

“Hearts and stars to set the mood!” Yō quickly defended.

“On the notepad?”

“You’ve got to start the mood from the planning stages! The atmosphere is very important!” Yō flails her hand in a wide circle to emphasize about the air.

Ahh, what do I do…? Yō-chan being so serious in this sort of planning makes me so happy…

“I’ll help with the cooking and the setting up and we can go shopping together too.” Chika checks off Yō’s lists of getting a chicken to roast, having fresh mikans they can squeeze into juice, spaghetti for a main, and bite-size sausages for snacks.

“Mmph… Let’s do it together then.” Yō smiles softly at the ground, a gentle aura surrounding the ash-brunette that steals Chika’s breath.

When she does that expression…it makes my heart skip a beat…

 


 

On the day of Christmas, Chika wakes excited for gift exchanges that they placed under the 100cm tall Christmas Tree they bought and decorated together for the occasion. The orangehead expected her best friend to be up and about already considering who was the morning person, but she was surprised to find Yō’s room door still closed.

“Mm?” Chika wonders as she heads into the bathroom.

Guess I’ll get to wake her today~

Refreshed and extra awake from the water on her face, Chika gives herself a smile in the mirror.

Christmas with Yō-chan… With the girl I love… It couldn’t get any better than this, right? Hehe…

Chika turns to head out but pauses, looking back at her reflection and checking her hair, twitching her cowlick and placing a hand over her chest to feel her heartbeat.

Chika…Entertaining such crazy thoughts of asking Yō out on Christmas…

Chika felt warmth spread from her face to her fingertips. And she quickly shakes her head.

No, no! Don’t do it… Today shall be a day for memories!

Chika heads back into her room to change into a comfortable Christmas themed t-shirt – it was a bright shade of fir tree green with ruby and gold blazoned words ‘Jingle Bells’ at the chest portion, with cute bell motifs at the edge of the sleeves. She threw on a pair of comfy shorts since they were going to be home all day.

Hehe. Yō-chan is still asleep? How rare. I’m going to get to see her flustered face from sleeping in on the day she asked me to hang out on!

Chika knocks on Yō’s door, receiving no reply, she assumes her best friend was still asleep and so she opens the door with full intentions to wake the sleeping ash-brunette.

“Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas, Chika-chan~!”

Chika was met with a loud pop as Yō unleashed a party popper at her.

“Uwaa! Yō-chan, you were awAkEeeEEE??!??!” Chika falls back a step while her eyes had a hard time deciding where to stop at – red, red, a jolly smile worthy of beating Santa’s, red, cleavage, thighs—

Wait, what’s happening!? Wasn’t Yō-chan supposed to be asleep and I get to see her sleeping face!?

Yō’s carefree laughter brought Chika back to barely functioning. “Did I successfully surprise you~? hehe~”

“Huee? Wha…What are you doing dressed up as a Santa Girl…? I thought you were still asleep…” Chika pouts, doing her best to hide the fact that she wanted to look.

Yō in her fluffy red-white Santa cape and her Santa dress that fluttered as she moved and did her signature salute. “It’s Christmas! And I knew you’d come to check in on me so I waited in ambush! Hehehe!”

A-Ambushed!

Chika felt an arrow shot through her for being called out. “You’re too smug about this! What if I didn’t come in till noon!”

“I know you like my sleeping face so you’re sure to come in~” Yō sends Chika a wink.

“Gyweehhh eehh??” Chika embarrassingly makes a series of incomprehensible noises which she hides her burning red face behind her hands after.

What’s that wink? Does she know that I stare at her sleeping face on days I come and clean the house before we started living together?? Eh? Ehh?

Yō laughs again, free-spirited and loving Chika’s reactions. She takes off her Santa hat with the cute Rudolf-face ribbon on it and places it snugly on Chika’s head, patting it with a pleased smile.

Chika felt her heart rate increasing at the close proximity and from receiving a headpat from Yō; how long has it been that she received one? Since high school?

I won’t be able to focus on anything but Yō-chan’s assets if she doesn’t get changed though…

“Y-Yō-chan…Please wear something else…” Chika turned her head all the way to the side so she could not look, stare or drool.

“Aww, alright~” Yō starts with her cape and Chika jolts.

“W-Wait till I’m outside!” Chika exclaims while making her escape out the room.

Mou…

Chika rests her back on Yō’s door, feeling hot all over her body.

Sometimes Yō-chan is way too defenceless and relaxed about this sort of thing!

One heartbeat later.

Though, I guess… I’m acting this way because I’m conscious of her while… Yō-chan probably thinks it’s normal for childhood friends and best friends to see each other naked…  

Yō comes out in a red and turquoise sweater that had the words “The Holiday Spirit” knitted on and Chika could not help but smile at that.

“You really love that sweater.”

“I do~” Yō grins from ear to ear as Christmas continues.

.

.

.

Halfway through lunch, Yō asks, “Chika-chan, would you like to have a sleepover?”

That’s sudden.

Chika swallows a bite of the honey roasted chicken first. “With Riko-chan?”

“Nope, just me.” Yō’s smile pulls higher at that.

“Huh?” Chika was confused.

How does that work? We already sleep in the same house.

Answering Chika’s thoughts, “Let’s sleep in the same bed like we used to~ Don’t you think it’d be fun?” Yō beams as she crunches a cherry tomato and a mini sausage.

What is this girl saying????!!!!!

Chika’s cheeks turned rosy-red in seconds and were unable to sit still.

“And warm~” Yō adds after watching Chika for a time.

“T-That’s what you’re after, huh?” Chika wills her heart to calm down.

Don’t go thinking about all the implications and closeness…yet…!!!

“Am I caught~? Haha~”

“Red-handed.” Chika picked up her mikan juice and drank half the cup away as she battled her blush, glaring weakly at the reason for her noisy heart and sweaty palms.

It’ll be warm for sure with how I’ll be overheating!!!! G-Guess I’m not sleeping tonight…

.

.

.

Nightfall, eyes wide open, hands gripping the hem of the blanket tight, heart an incessant reminder of how conscious Chika is to the ash-brunette lying beside her.

I can’t do this. I can’t do this. She’s so close. I want more. I want to turn and look at her but that might be too much for my heart to take—

“Chika-chan…” Yō’s quiet voice reaches Chika’s ears easily, they were probably only 20 centimetres apart.

“Y-Yes?” Chika could not help the stutter.

“I want to see your face…” Yō continued in that soft tone.

Why?!

Chika whines inside as she shuffles reluctantly to her side, refusing to make eye contact with Yō.

I bet her eyes will be extra pretty in the night…

“Chika-chan…” Yō calls again, her voice a little more awake.

“Y…es?” Chika drags out the word so it does not come out as a stutter.

It’s dark enough so she can’t tell how flushed I am, right?

“Can we hold hands?”    

Yō’s question drops like a bomb as Chika’s head whips up to see how serious her crush was being and Chika was left incapable of finding her voice.

What I tell you… Those blue eyes look so soft and glowy and… This Yō-chan… So gentle and vulnerable… I don’t see this side of her enough times to be immune to it…

“Why…do you want to hold hands?” Chika asks and presses her lips together tightly after.

"Because...I want to feel your hand in mine..." Yō mumbles and Chika feels like Yō's cheeks was a little bit rosier than before. 

That does not tell me why..! ...Is she blushing...? 

Chika gives in. She was not going to pass off the chance to have her hands held by the person she loves. And it was worth risking her heart from exploding when she sees Yō's nervous lips curve up into a smile of pure happiness when Chika slid her hand up the bed and prod the ash-brunette's waiting hand. 

Why are you so happy about this? Are you simply touch starved or in love with me too? Is it all in my head? Or is it both?

Chika's crimson eyes glimmered with emotion in the silent night. 

"Ne, Chika-chan..." Once again, Yō says Chika's name with the fluffiness of a midday cloud; warm, soft, electrifying.

"Yes?" This time, Chika did not stutter as ironically, the hand that makes her heartbeat at 200 beats a minute, was also the hand that grounded her. 

Soft Yō-chan is so nice... Thank you, Santa-san... 

"Nervous?" The ash-brunette asks while rubbing her thumb over Chika's knuckles, back and forth, to and fro.

"N-No...?" Being conscious of her crush's touch made her stutter return.

Chika's face heats up in response to Yō's grin, small as it may be, smug it was too. Chika liked shy Yō. Confident Yō made way too many appearances today already. 

"Chika-chan..."

Again...! 

Chika swears her crush knows she was head over heels for her and knows that her voice does so many things to her and...knows so she keeps calling her name. 

Rubescent and dreamy, Chika mutters with a pout. "What is it?" 

"I think...it's time we stopped being best friends." Yō’s hold on Chika's hand tightens but Chika's heart squeezes harder.

"Eh...?"

Right now...? I'm going to lose my best friend right now when the mood was good?

Yō tugs Chika's hand closer to her, demanding Chika's attention as though she could tell Chika was being negative again. Chika won't even be surprised if Yō could do that. 

"I meant... It's time you be my girlfriend." Yō swallowing her nerves was audible alongside Chika's hummingbird heart and when she gets lost in Yō’s endless blue hues, she realizes she was not the only one with the hummingbird heartbeat.

I must be dreaming right now…

“It’s not a dream.” Yō inches closer, her grip on Chika’s sweaty palm tightens.

“Are you an esper?” Chika sniffles.

Yō shakes her head and takes in a long, deep breath before exhaling slowly. “Will you be my girlfriend?”

……

………

Chika shakes her head as she blinks hot tears that refused to remain in her eyes, her lips quivering unglamorously.

Yō uses her hand that was still connected with Chika’s to catch some of the tears, her own eyes moist.

“Do you…” Chika begins but her sentence breaks off.

“Mmph.” Yō nods.

“…any idea…” Chika continues between sobs.

“Mmph.” Yō nods again.

“…how long…I’ve wanted to… hear that?” Chika sniffles loudly and tugs their connected hands to rub away her leaky nose.

Yō chuckles apologetic yet unremorseful. “Mmph… I’m sorry I took so long.”

This is a lie, isn’t it…? Yō-chan loving me back…in this way…

“Ne…Chika-chan…” Yō whispers, desire in her voice.

“W-What…?” Chika’s tears were quieter now as she did one last sniffle.

“Can I kiss you?”

Their eyes did the talking as Yō’s left-hand cups Chika’s cheek with all the gentleness of touching something precious and important, her thumb brushing under Chika’s eye and their hot breath mixing till their lips touch. A single touch was never going to be enough, as Yō presses their lips together again and again and again. Changing angles and pressure, but never going too far which they both know they will lose self-control.

Their eyes open again after a cool-down period.

Chika’s was loving and yearning.

Yō’s was shy and happy.

“You didn’t answer my question.” Yō’s smile a tease.

“I think that was enough an answer.” Chika licks her lips, reflecting a similar smile and fully blush-covered face.

“I want to hear it…” Yō pouts, her ear glowing red.

“Yes… Yes, I will be your girlfriend.” Chika wiggles closer, using her free hand to pull Yō by the back closer to her which Yō gladly obliges.

It’s not a lie after all… We are together now.

 


~ Yō's POV~


 

“I’ve got to ask though…When did you like me the way I do?” Chika holds Yō’s hand tight, not wanting to let go as she blinked teary crimson eyes up at Yō’s gentle ocean-blue hues.

“Mm… That would be…”

 


 

“Uurgh… My head…” Yō squeezes her eyes shut, not wanting to face the reality of a horrible headache, sure to be a hangover from all the alcohol she had with Chika and Riko the night before.

It’s throbbing so hard… uugghhhh…

The ash-brunette rubs her face into the softness of her pillow, wrapping her arms around her pillow, warm and breathing like a human…

Wait. Like a human…?

Yō feels around a bit more, feeling contours of a lady’s back instead of forming dents into a soft pillow. Shifting and fighting the pain she felt like her brain was being squeezed and shook about violently, the ash-brunette opens her eyes to see a bump of orange and her ears listening in to a heartbeat.

Definitely a human.

Yō groans softly as she attempts to move her body, it was so heavy and sluggish she could only turn her head enough to see the under of the person’s chin she was sleeping on.

This is a rare view.

“Chi…Chika-chan…” Yō calls in a raspy voice, in dire need of hydration. “Yesterday…”

My throat…ugh…I had too many…? I didn’t drink that much before I… don’t remember what happened…

The swimmer wiggles her way up from Chika’s comfy and soft mikan hills to the comfort of Chika’s shoulder and nape, whiffing in a slow and deep breath of Chika – it had a hint of last night’s drinks but still very much the tangerines, sea salt and paper that Chika smelt of.

Smells like a safe place…

“This is nice…” Yō murmurs as she gingerly gets her hands out from under Chika’s back, stretching for blood circulation before she props herself up to witness her best friend’s sleeping face. Yō smiles. “Cute.”

I always liked Chika’s sleeping face.

Yō chuckles in her mind, lifting a finger to poke Chika’s cheek.

“Mmnn…?”

“Ah. Did I wake you?” Yō was awake enough to moist her throat with saliva.

“Mmph…”

She’s too cute when she just wakes.

“Sorry, Chika-chan. I fell asleep on you last night…” Yō shoots an apologetic look at Chika, not moving away yet as her head still hurt and her body felt like lead; propping herself up to smile down at her best friend was the best she could pull.

“Huee…?” Chika sounded, yawns and blinks blearily up at Yō. Before jolting awake and surprising the both of them.

“Uwaaa!!” Yō’s arm loses strength and she’s sent back falling on Chika who shuffled backwards so Yō’s face was now squished on the orangehead’s torso. “Chika-chaan… Don’t move…so suddenly…”

That hurt a little…

Yō moves her left hand to rub her jaw, her eyes tearing up.

“I-I’m sorry!! I was just…um…not expecting… Yō-chan…upon waking…” Chika mutters, face fully red.

Yō blinks up at her best friend, taking a moment to appreciate the sweet blush. “What are you saying? We drank together last night. Or were you dead drunk too?”

“I wasn’t!” Chika protested. “Yō-chan was the one all—” Chika clamps her mouth with both hands which only made Yō more suspicious.

“I was what? Did I do something? Ne, Chika-chan?”

“N-Nothing...! You didn’t do anything! Just got all drunk and…and…slept!” Chika pushed against Yō’s head of soft ash-grey that tried to get closer.

“That’s a lieeee~ Tell meee~” Yō wiggled and messily tried to advance.

Chika did her utmost best to push back on the swimmer’s mop of addictive hair. “Y-You refused to let go so we slept together that’s all!!”

“Hmmm…~ Really?” Yō stops writhing to confirm.

Chika nods quickly in multiple successions, cheeks still red, eyes averting Yō’s honest ones.

“Fine… This is my first time being drunk though. How long…then I can move again?” Yō chuckles sadly.

Chika gives Yō a lopsided smile at that. “In a few minutes. I’ll get you some water.”

“That’ll be a lifesaver. Thank you, Chika-chan~” Yō pretends to splay out dead on the bed while Chika heads to the kitchen.

 


 

Riko giggles at the recounting of how Yō woke to her first hungover. “And after that did she tell you what you did when you were drunk?”

“Eh?”

“Eh?”

“No, wait. She didn’t say anything! She told me nothing happened other than what I told you happened!!” Yō flailed her arms in front of her, a face of disbelief and distress. “What else did I do??”

“Ah.” The redhead tucks her hair behind her ears only for most of it to fall back naturally as she keeps mum.

“Riko-chaaan. Tell me what did I do!” Yō gives her utmost best puppy dog eyes she could muster a day after hungover.

Did I say anything embarrassing? What do drunks do? Er…started stripping out of nowhere!?

“Oh, alright. You’ll better believe me if I show you what you did.” Riko reaches for her phone and the swimmer gulps.

“Show…?”

I don’t want to see me strip in front of you girls and embarrass myself!

Riko’s hazel eyes glimmered with glee though her smile was sweet. “Ready?”

Yō swallows and reaches for her apple juice to take a big sip of. “Okay. Hit me with it.”

Riko hits the play button and Yō’s eyes widen at the sight of her stretching for the mug of alcohol that was being held out of her reach and she whined unbecomingly as though she was five and wanting her toy boat.

“Wha- Wait…!”

Riko swats Yō’s hand that tried to stop the video. “It’s not that long~”

“Uu…” Yō’s cheeks were already an embarrassed pink.

The video continued and Yō notices that the drink was being held away from her by the person she has sprawled over and it was Chika’s chiding voice.

I’m being treated like a child! Like one of her kids in school!

Yō felt even more ashamed and thought the worst part was over when Riko chuckled and cooed at the fact that she was pulling Chika down on the floor where they sat to drink and chat. And now Yō’s one-third full of horrid alcohol was confiscated by Riko.

Chika scolds Riko for laughing and not helping.

Ughhh this is not how I expected to be like when drunk…

“Chiiika-chaaaannn~~I loveee you…”

“Eh!?”

Riko anticipated Yō’s hand and she holds it down with one hand as she held her phone safely in the other for Yō to continue watching.

“I love you… Don’t ever leave meeee… uuu… hic… I love you…so so much…”

Yō in the video was rubbing her face all over Chika and hugging Chika so tight. Not letting go even when Chika tries to pry Yō off her.

No way…

“I…I did such an embarrassing thing!??” The ash-brunette retracts her hand and covers her burning hot face with them.

“You two were so cute~” Riko sings as she puts the phone on the café table and drinks from her coconut soda.

“Mou…Don’t tease me like that…” Yō sighs as the blush on her refuse to go away.

To think I troubled Chika-chan so much…I’ve got to make it up to her somehow.

Riko observes the thoughtful swimmer for a time. “Do you like her~?”

“Huh? What are you talking about…of course I like her.” Yō juts her lips out at Riko for asking the obvious.

“I mean…Do you love her?”

“I love her—”

“More than best friends?”

“…” Yō’s mouth was left agape.

“I didn’t want to interfere too much but…” Riko mutters quietly and plays the video again.

“Chiiika-chaaaannn~~I loveee you… I love you… Don’t ever leave meeee… uuu… hic… I love you…so so much…”

“Why are you playing that again??!!” Yō all but throws herself across the table to grab the phone but Riko leans back in time to save it.

“Look at Chika-chan.” Riko instructs.

Chika-chan…?

Riko pulls back the video to play it once more. The sound and the scene made Yō’s heart race and blood rush from her neck to ears but she watched, she watched and her fingers twitched as she saw Chika’s expression held pain and longing as though she was holding back.

Why does she look like…she wished all that drunk me was saying is true…?

“Wait…Chika-chan…likes me…in that way?!” Yō looks up from the frozen scene of her hugging her best friend to Riko.

The redhead smiles softly, those hazel eyes holding a similar emotion of sadness and regret. “I know it’s a lot to take in since…it does not seem like you see her in that light. But please give it some thought? I’m sure Chika-chan would be happier to get some form of closure.”

“Closure…” Yō mumbles, sitting back properly in her seat. “I just never thought about love…or romance much…”

Riko giggles softly. “You are a busy lady after all~”

“Don’t give me that look. I’ve been dedicated to my craft but…I guess it’s time to high dive full speed ahead into making sure Chika-chan isn’t neglected!” Yō pumps both fists to her chest, determined.

“What are your plans?” Riko asks, her shoulder feeling lighter after all these years of worrying for Chika and Yō’s relationship.

“For starters…”

 


 

Yō returns the squeeze to Chika’s hold, brushing a stray tear from below her girlfriend’s eye.

“And so, after Riko-chan made me think about how you actually have a crush on me… I too started to notice how cute you were. And…caring, sweet, precious and you’re a girl that deserves so much more. You shouldn’t be left to feel unloved!”

Yō scratches her cheeks, lowering her head.

And once I knew I love Chika-chan… I guess I got a bit extreme in the planning in making it perfect…

“What? Why are you the one blushing so much, Yō-chan…?” Chika asks, her voice tentative, sure to still be worried she’s living a fantasy and will wake up to a sadder reality.

Sorry for making you wait so long…Chika-chan…

“Well, I hope you don’t find me crazy but…After I realized I don’t want anyone else having you, I made plans on living with you and started saving and doing research…which is why…I was so quick to getting this apartment when you agreed…” Yō shrinks into herself, blinking shyly, her feet rubbing itself nervously, blue eyes finding it hard to stay put.

“So…you have been loving me for some time now…and decided to keep watching me have a crush on you?” Chika pouts thinkingly.

Yō shakes her head. “It was less…a definite decision to watch you…but more like…I wanted to confess to you proper! To make up for all the years you’ve loved me…”

“And Christmas was the most auspicious day?” Chika puffs her cheek out, sniffling to not break down in joyful tears again.

“It felt right.” Yō shuffles closer. Cupping Chika’s cheek with her warm hand. “Forgive me, my dear?”

“Uu… Who is your dear?” Chika looks away.

Yō grins. “You are.”

“No, I’m not.”

Yō beams. “You are.”

“…Am I yours?” Chika tugs the hem of Yō’s sleeve.

Yō’s ocean blue eyes glow. “You are.”  

“…And you’re mine?” Chika looks into Yō’s eyes, her heart drumming hard.

Yō lifts Chika’s hand to hers and plants a long kiss there. “I am.”

Since long ago, and from now on. I won’t let anything or anyone else get between us, Chika-chan.

“Ne, Chika-chan.” Yō calls in that tone she knows sends a sweet shiver through the orangehead.

“W-What?” Chika stammers and cheeks illuminate the night more.

See?

Yō holds back a smirk as she intertwines their fingers, relishing in the feeling of being connected, rubbing her thumb over Chika’s. “I love you.”