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A Little Sideways

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Mei knew that things had gotten a little sideways lately. After the time Rihito had hugged her, he had been different around her.

A tiny bit less smooth. A little more..fidgety.

Which in most people, would translate to an inability to stand still; in Rihito, it translated into an urge to smooth her hair, straighten her tie, or correct her finger placement on her fork.

He would generally catch himself halfway through the task and would freeze for a moment before excusing himself and bowing low in apology, at which point Mei would try to shake off the light touch of his hand and try to ignore his embarrassment.

Not that most people would have known he was embarrassed.

Mei knew, because his eyes would get wider, and the crease around his mouth would get a little deeper.

Mameshiba knew, Mei figured, because he knew his own brother. Although whenever anything like that happened, Mameshiba got really weird and hovered over them both until Mei or Rihito got irritated and sent him back to annoy Rika-sama and Aoyama.

What happened yesterday, though, had shaken Rihito enough that he had actually just poured tea in her soup bowl instead of in her cup.

Mei felt her face flame yet again, but refused to turn and look at Rihito's mortified apologetic bow.

Yesterday, Rihito had his weekly meeting with the other butlers.

Mei had taken full advantage of his being gone.

It didn't matter how invisible a butler was supposed to be, Mei could always feel him hovering on the other side of the door when she bathed. She felt too self conscious to really enjoy her bath when he was there. So, while he was at his meeting, she had indulged.

She hadn't realized until she was ready to get out that she hadn't brought her clean clothes with her into the bathroom. She supposed she had gotten a little too used to having Rihito set up her bath for her.

She had stayed in the bathtub just a moment too long, it turned out.

She was standing by her bed in a pair of white cotton panties when the door had opened and Rihito had stepped in. He had immediately turned on his heel and stepped back out. And when she opened the door five minutes later, he had been standing in the hallway examining the dust on the ceiling, which would have been convincing if not for the white knuckled grip he had on the staircase railing.

Neither of them had brought it up. Rihito avoided her eyes, and kept his head tilted slightly down.

Mei couldn't even begin to think of how to have that conversation. "Excuse me, did you see my breasts?" would be entirely too forward. And she really wasn't sure what she would do if he said yes.

Mei sighed as Rihito overturned her soup bowl onto her lap. Things would be so much easier if she could ignore him as easily as she ignored Mameshiba. If she could pretend he was Mameshiba, she could easily pretend Rihito had not just been focused on the accidental brush of his arm against her breast as he poured. Then she wouldn't be so aware of the firm grip of Rihito's fingers around her arm as he helped her to her feet so she could drip on the floor. She wouldn't be nearly so aware of how near he was as he apologetically cleaned up around her, bowing in embarrassment. And she wouldn't be nearly so tempted to step forward, grab his hands to still their frantic cleaning, and press her lips to his.