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She should have known that it would come to this.

A laugh escapes Kanan’s throat, though it lacks the amusement she often hold for You – and by extension, Chika, but You’s trying not to think of her right now – and she deftly presses her hand beside You’s head, her palm flat against the wall. “You barely caught up to my speed last time.”

Competitive as they are, she knows how to push Kanan’s buttons well enough to force her out of her normally calm demeanor, a glint of fire flickering in the purple eyes that You likes staring at so much. “I’m better now, thanks to Aqours’ training menu.” Which isn’t a lie, and Kanan can probably tell – her own weight training and daily morning runs taught her how to adapt easily into the constant running Aqours does around the town, and diving definitely makes her more flexible for dancing, but through Aqours’ constant practicing at the rooftop, she believes she managed to reach a feat that could par nicely with Kanan’s prowess.

“Alright, then. Run to the shrine with me. If you can reach to the top without taking a break, I’ll give you a reward. Sound good, Watanabe-san?” Despite her bravado, her presumed boldness vanishes into thin air when Kanan tucks a lock of You’s hair behind her ear. Kanan-chan...that’s so cool…!

“Uh...yeah! Yeah, definitely.” The girl tries to keep a straight face, but she can already feel a blush forming on her cheeks. If Kanan has noticed, she's chosen to spare You mercy and ignores it. “Where do we start?”

“Right here.”

There is a considerate amount of distance between here and the shrine – more so than what You is used to, but not by a lot. As a matter of fact, the diver feels a little baffled: this was a competition, but Kanan seems to be taking it easy on her. Why? Kanan knows just as well as she does that she would never risk overexerting her body – especially with diving competitions coming up soon.

With the flame in her heart ignited, You wonders, did Kanan-chan take it easy on me because she thought I wasn’t good enough on land?!

You is a better swimmer, yes – her speed in the pool and the ocean second to none, even Kanan can't compare, as accustomed to the sea as she is. But Kanan has endurance, one that extends to the land as she runs from the docks to the top of the mountain. You, admittedly, struggled to keep up with Kanan at first – especially in middle school, when You had just been permitted by her mother to do weight training. Kanan's helped her get used to using a lot of energy so early in the morning, and ensured she doesn't tire herself out to the point that she is rendered weak before swim practice.

(Of course, another method she's learned is to doze off during classes, even at the risk of getting hit on the head by her homeroom teacher. She feels like Kanan, despite her mature image, can relate to a similar energy-saving technique.)

Now she wants to say that they are equals, that she could beat Kanan fair and square – so if Kanan wants to take it easy, fine; she's just gonna go ahead and leave her in the dust. I’ll prove you wrong!

“Got it, Matsuura-san! Catch you at the top, then!” Before Kanan could respond, You started sprinting towards the mountain ahead of them, ignoring Kanan’s calls for her.

You has made a terrible mistake.

In her determination to outrun Kanan, You barely makes it halfway through the stairs that led up to the shrine before her stamina crashes and she can barely take another step further. Her willpower enables her to spend a good few minutes lying on the steps by her lonesome, staring at the blue sky as she works hard to catch her breath. Really, what was she…

“...thinking?”

You blinks at the sound of Kanan’s voice. Seconds later, Kanan peers down at her with a look that basically says, “you’re an idiot.” She pushes her fatigued body up as Kanan crouches to sit beside her, water bottle in hand.

“Thanks,” is all You manages to croak before she downs half of the bottle’s content, the cold water doing wonders on her parched throat. She then presses the moist bottle against her cheeks in an attempt to stop it from feeling so hot.

When she realizes that Kanan is still staring at her with that expression, she feels equal parts embarrassed and ashamed. “Aha...I’m sorry, Kanan-chan.”

Kanan shakes her head in mild disapproval. “You knew better than to push yourself that much. What would you do if you sprained your ankle?”

You grimaces. “I know, I know! I shouldn’t have let myself get carried away, but…”

“But?” the taller woman urges.

She bites her lip, unsure how to word what motivated her to be reckless in the first place. It isn't that she thought Kanan had little faith in her, it's just… “Kanan-chan, why did you pick a short route to the shrine?”

When the other’s eyebrows raises in surprise, You regrets asking her – is it all just in her head?! “Uh, well...I didn’t think it really mattered how far we ran. I just thought we could start from where we were standing.”

“Haha...so it was just that, huh….I feel a little stupid now.”

“Don’t be. Though, don’t assume things too fast and make conclusions without thinking things through. And,” You can practically see her cheeks getting gradually redder, and Kanan looks like she wants to flee. But instead, she continues, “you didn’t win, did you? You’re taking a break right now.”

“Yeah. I guess I won’t be getting that reward, then.” The younger girl scoots closer to the railings and rests her head against them.

“Well. I suppose I could give you a consolation prize for effort.”

When she opens her mouth to ask what it was, You is surprised when she finds Kanan’s pressing against them in a somewhat sloppy kiss. At first, she is too shocked to respond at all, but once the other girl starts regretfully pulling back, her lips chase after hers and keeps them connected.

Kanan, who is initially hesitant (she could tell from how stiff her lips were), seems joyed by this development, and presses a hand against the column of You’s neck as her mouth starts moving in gentle motions.

The kiss is sweet and brief, and when Kanan moves away, You swore her face is as red as, say, Riko’s hair – and both of them exchange sheepish grins toward each other.

“I guess I should lose to you more often, if it means I get that as a consolation prize.” It's hard to be a sore loser if there's a blushing pretty girl who just gave her the first (of hopefully many) kiss of their – friendship? Relationship? They’d never elaborated on what this is, but the dynamics definitely shifted once Kanan – along with Dia and Mari – got recruited into Aqours’ ranks. Kanan never bothered to elaborate on her lingering touches on You’s hips during choreography practice, and You never thought to ask.

Either way, she doesn't have the opportunity to ask – Kanan has risen up, and extends a hand towards her. “Come on. There’s still some ways before we reach the top of the mountain – but maybe we should probably walk the distance instead.”

“I’ll be fine! I won’t exert myself if we jog the last lap, promise.” You takes her hand firmly, letting Kanan’s strength pull her back to her feet.

“Are you sure? I might not be able to help if you tire yourself out too much.”

“Well, if I’m being honest, that kiss kind of rejuvenated my stamina.”

“I – You-chan, isn’t that a little embarrassing?”

“Haha.”

They set off again, this time side by side – as much as she likes the competition, she thinks, she enjoys the privilege of looking by her side and seeing Kanan staring back at her.

(Belatedly, when You's lying in bed contemplating over how the day went, she wonders what reward Kanan would’ve given her had she won.)