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i wanna know how to live

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Suzume’s short hair is new and very scary and Yuyuka feels like running ten miles before facing her friend again. It’s all the skin that is now visible around her neck, and at the slightest breeze, even the tip of her ears appear through, and if Yuyuka thought Suzume was pretty before, she is even prettier now, and well, she is in deep, deep trouble.

She thought herself in love several times now, first time making the mistake with Mamura – who still refused to talk with her besides casual greetings when bumping into each other – and by the time she noticed how soft Suzume’s skin actually is, while putting up her hair and preparing to apply make-up on her, she knew to call her feelings desire and to leave it at a gentle brush at her neck.

But now, in her bedroom and with her very cute short hair and continuing to talk about whether Mamura would like it better or not, and without even thinking of asking the opinion of her best friend before, Suzume is lovelier and in a totally different light than the evening before, when they went together for donuts after uni. So Yuyuka takes her hand, smiles and kisses her. She feels Suzume grinning and a fire burns through her body; she goes for an awkward embrace that ends up in both of them rolling on the floor and laughing. Yuyuka groans and Suzume plants kisses at the corner of her mouth, teasing her and trying to wash away the disappointment.

“I was wondering when you were going to do that,” Suzume says, and Yuyuka remembers that they are best friends and this girl probably noticed her needs even earlier than she did. She says nothing, just absentmindedly playing with Suzume’s hand, and only after a long silence, does her friend dare speak again. “Yuyuka, I am not mad.”

And grinning, Yuyuka leans forward, their foreheads touching. “Then, can I kiss you again?”

Suzume doesn’t say yes and she doesn’t say no either, she just shortens the distance between their mouths. They make out until Ririko, from downstairs, asks them if they want any sweets, and Yuyuka’s mind is spinning too fast and she’s too out of breath to actually answer, so Suzume does in her place.

They spend the next hour chatting about anything, but never bringing up what happened between them. Only when at the doorway, Suzume lacing her shoes, does Yuyuka dare to speak.

“Suzume, I love you… but I don’t…” not in that way, she wants to say, but instead she fidgets and feels small under her stare.

“I know,” Suzume replies, and in her hug Yuyuka finds the relief to find herself loved just as she does, as a friend.

****

Mamura likes Suzume better with shorter hair as well, though he’ll never admit it out loud, and that’s just such a pity, Yuyuka thinks. She supposes that Suzume will hear the compliment when they’ll be alone, and suddenly she feels like she doesn’t belong in this diner booth, with this couple. But she’s wanted by at least one of them, and the nights when she cried over a friendship that she’s denied by Mamura glue her to her chair, at least to spite him, if not being an interesting enough presence to be worthy of a conversation.

When Suzume leaves for the toilet, she huffs and crosses her arms, looking out the window rather than at the guy in front of her. There’s a soft song playing in the restaurant and when she turns around to better hear it, her eyes are locked on Mamura, bobbing his head to the tune, his lips slowly parted in lyrics only half-pronounced, his eyes closed. She makes a sound similar to a cat hissing, suddenly even more embarrassed, and she almost apologizes, before she remembers that she is not the one that let her guard down.

It surprises her when he just blinks at her, a little bit confused, but mostly okay with her presence and with an almost smile on his lips. It feels like acceptance, especially when immediately afterwards he pushes his plate in front of her, some strawberry pastries left. She mumbles some thanks, stuffing her cheeks, and when Suzume comes back, she kisses the top of her head, then Mamura’s as well and it’s like she’s the mother who made her children make up.

Yuyuka turns her head to a side, a pastry half-eaten in her hand, to allow Mamura the privacy to actually compliment Suzume, and the smile on her best friend’s face was worth getting ready in the morning for. When they finally say goodbye, Mamura says something that brings hope in Yuyuka’s heart.

“See you soon.”

And maybe the reason why they are not friends now, it’s because they’ve been for a while.

****

Minagawa Togyuu was sweet and Yuyuka still meets him for coffee on campus sometimes, because she feels somewhat guilty for somewhat using him in her self-discovery quest. He’d say I love you and she’d answer I care about you, and for a long time they both thought it’s the same thing. Yuyuka suspects they knew from the very beginning, but refused to believe it; it made them run in circles and then it turned exhausting and at some point it had to be broken.

But she liked how he’d hold her wrist, pressing his thumb at her vein until their hearts would beat at the same time. She liked sharing his small couch, cuddled under the same blankets, her hands in his hair, his hands cupping her ass. She liked waiting during winters for him to finish work, because he’d grin and promise to properly warm her up – and he’d never fail.

She now knows that, similar to Mamura’s case, she just desperately wanted to be friends with him, lately finding out that desperately wanting him was a fuller alternative. She sometimes misses the constant contact, but even now, if he calls her at 3 am pleading, or if she calls him at 3 am pleading, they’d meet and fuck. Yuyuka fears there are still romantic feelings left on his side, but she shrugs and thinks that it’s not her problem; she still doesn’t leave in the mornings until he wakes up and they chat over modest breakfast.

They did break up when Yuyuka told him that she didn’t (couldn’t) feel any romantic love towards him, towards anyone. The couple façade couldn’t go on any longer, and since then Yuyuka stopped trying to get in a relationship where her needs wouldn’t be clearly laid out.

Togyuu learnt to accept this part of her as well, and as long as she didn’t mind him, he didn’t mind her. He was her first, and at least for this small memory, they share secrets smiles when they catch each other’s eyes.

****

    Then, she attends Suzume’s uncle’s wedding and one person she even forgot about furiously crashes into their life. Yuyuka and Suzume wear dresses the same color, matching Mamura’s tie, and he does enter the place with each girl holding onto one of his arms. They are fresh and young and it seems like nothing could dim their light, it seems like they’re masters over time itself. Yuyuka can hear the small gossip going around the trio they’re forming, but one moment she’s waltzing with Mamura, and the other falling into Suzume’s outspread arms, and she couldn’t care less, because she loves them and they love her and nothing in the whole wide world could separate them.

Except him. Suzume dares not say his name, but she still goes to greet him nonetheless. From her place, sharing a glass of wine with Mamura, taking a sip and passing it on, only to receive it back one sip later, Yuyuka can see that Shishio also likes her new haircut, and she sighs at the same time with the blond. They share a knowing look, and from Mamura it comes more worried than he’d like to admit. Yuyuka is not even half as panicked as him, because both Suzume and Shishio are clearly uncomfortable in each other’s presence; ten seconds later Suzume is back at their side, somewhat sad and far-away.

Yuyuka leaves Mamura to it, and with a pat on his back she’s gone. She takes her own glass of wine and lingers at Shishio’s side until he’s finally aware enough to notice her presence. It takes him a little to recognize her, and she feels a little bit offended by that, given that she looks exactly the same way as she did in high school, but when he greets her he’s polite, even though a little bit self-pitying. She thinks enough alcohol will wash that out, and she also thinks she’s old enough to cut straight to the subject.

“Shishio, will you take me to your place?”

She pretends to ignore his fit of coughing and his flustered question of what for, and instead she brushes her hand against her dress enough to show the whiteness of her thigh, and by the next eye contact, he’s hers.

****

Shishio is actually a very attentive lover, a little bit shy if she accidentally giggles (but really, she just finds his chants of seductress very amusing, given the fact it was her first time actually doing anything of the sorts), and overall very satisfying. She calls him handsome when he has to put on his glasses to arrange some messy papers thrown onto his bed, and he calls her beautiful when her hair gets ruffled after she jumps directly on the couch upon entering his apartment.

They take it slowly, through small talk and fits of laughter. She kisses him along the jaw and he bites at her neck. He breathes dumb things into her ear, like how it feels to sleep with a teacher (I didn’t came here to sleep, though, and you still didn’t put anything inside me) and scolding her for the very colorful language she’s sporting, especially when his hands find a more sensitive spot.

Yuyuka laughs during that time spent with him more than she did in the last couple of weeks, and in the morning he’s blushing and he’s all flustered to find her in his bedroom doorway, fully dressed but unwilling to leave just yet. She hands him a cup of black coffee that he sleepily accepts, and with the voice of those extremely satisfied, she explains to him that she’s not planning on mending his broken heart, but if his hand needed a rest, she left her number on a piece of paper now stuck to the fridge and they should do some rendezvous more often. Then she proceeds to play in his hair until he’s giving his answer, and defeated, Shishio sighs.

“You have no shame.”

****

Yuyuka finds herself in quite peculiar situations, especially after Mamura found out that she kissed Suzume and his girlfriend did kind of enjoy it. At first she was the judge of a stupid competition of who’s the better kisser out of the two, then gradually her place, instead of being at Suzume’s or Mamura’s side, became the one right between them. And so, she started being the target of an affection she would have never dreamt would come from the couple, but she’s not one for complaining if every party involved is okay with what’s happening.

So, Yuyuka became some kind of bridge. If Suzume wanted to kiss Mamura, she’d have to kiss Yuyuka and then Yuyuka kiss Mamura, and vice versa in case Mamura was the one starting the kisses. It began innocently enough, some fast kisses then and there, lazy make out sessions on the couch during boring movies.

 Mamura’s hand in her pants and Suzume’s mouth around one of her nipples was not planned, and yet both of them seemed totally concentrated on the task of pleasuring her. She tried protesting at first; not for her sake, because really, she was already starting to count stars playing behind her eyelids, but she feared the reaction of her friends after such an act. But her moans and gasps stopped her from focusing on anything else than the event at hand, and just when she thought she was close to her climax, a hand tugged at her head and she was pushed on her knees. She met Mamura’s gaze, burning with pleasure and she felt a knot in her stomach, and with it all doubts flew out the window. Now Suzume was the only one on the couch, a hand in her own panties and the other going upwards towards one of her nipples, her eyes glued to the other two in front of her. Mamura was harsh in his orders, voice hoarse with restrained pleasure, and Yuyuka didn’t need to be told twice; she opened her mouth, welcoming his dick, not breaking eye contact, in search of signs that she was doing things right, but Mamura’s own eyes were closed in pleasure and, reassured, Yuyuka started moving her tongue around his shaft. He groaned, tightening his hand in her hair, and Yuyuka started moving her hand towards the space between her legs. Feeling her motion, Mamura snapped his eyes open and the no inside them made it clear that she’ll never be finished if she won’t obey. Whimpering, she resumed her task, soon Mamura matching her in the moves.

He and Suzume come at the same time and it’s so unfucking fair because she’s left there watching their blissed expressions and she just wants to be done with it. The one finishing her is Suzume, and in the end, neither one is bothered by this activity.

****

Suzume is out at the sea, researching some kind of bio marine ecosystem and Yuyuka misses her and Mamura is sulking next to her. So she hurries him home to pack some beach clothes, she goes to her own place to do the same, and with only a short phone call she resolves this problem.

She kisses Shishio’s cheek as he comes out of his car to help her arrange the luggage in the car, and when Mamura sees the two, he actually jokes.

“Sensei, I didn’t know you were Yuyuka’s sugar daddy.”

 Yuyuka frowns a little at him, but decides that’s better to ignore him, given that he hasn’t seen his girlfriend in three weeks and he is as cranky as he could get. Shishio laughs awkwardly, but once they’re on the road, Yuyuka, with her feet on the dashboard and singing along to pop songs, relaxes both of them. Mamura sits at the back, hitting Yuyuka’s chair every time she was hitting an incredibly poor-sung note, and snorting when Shishio joined her to Taylor Swift. It took only three replays to get him on the bandwagon, and only when they entered the city where Suzume was hosted in did he actually remember what he wanted to ask from the first moment since he stepped in the car.

“Why?”

She shares a look with Shishio, as to say that he should already know the very obvious reason to such question.

“Because I love you all.”