"Oh ho, what's this?" Ritsu said to herself. "A letter in my locker?" She looked around furtively, grinning to herself. A dozen scenarios ran through her head. Maybe it was a confession. Or maybe someone was trying to bully her. Or it could be a challenge to a fight!
Ritsu turned the envelope over and took in the neat handwriting on the front. Ritsu-senpai. Definitely an underclassman then. She glanced around again, hoping to spot whoever had left the letter. No one stood out, as they collected their stuff from their own lockers or talked to their friends. Ritsu opened the letter and began to read.
Ritsu-senpai, please meet me in the courtyard before club practice. I have something important to discuss. -Azusa
Ritsu had been itching to get out of class more than usual. Azusa's letter was on her mind, and Mio was still ignoring her for the prank she had pulled that morning. Ritsu couldn't figure out why; it had been one of her more mild pranks. She had glued beads and paper on her arm to look like barnacles and screamed when she rolled her sleeve up to show Mio. Mio hadn't found it as funny as she did and left Ritsu to herself all day.
The bell finally rang and Mio left as quickly as she could without even looking at her. Ritsu frowned. She'd have to make it up to the other girl eventually. But first she had a mysterious meeting to attend. She gathered her things, marched to the courtyard, and wondered about the reason Azusa would want to talk to her.
Azusa had been a part of Hokage Tea Time for a year now. Ritsu and Azusa got along just fine in the club room, but Ritsu couldn't recall having much one on one time with the younger girl. Sure she messed with Azusa whenever she saw an opportunity, but it wasn't as much as with some of the other club members. And certainly not enough for her to need to have a private talk with Ritsu. She also doubted Azusa had a crush on her. If anyone, she figured the younger girl would go for Mio. She had looked up to Mio ever since she had joined the club.
While she had been pondering, her feet had carried her to the school's courtyard. She was still lost in thought when someone called out to her.
"Ritsu-senpai, over here." Azusa was standing in an out-of-the-way corner of the courtyard, shifting from foot to foot. Her eyes moved around from Ritsu to the other students and back again. She looked nevous. Ritsu grinned. She never could resist a good teasing opportunity.
"Ah Azu-nyan! I've been looking everywhere for you!" she said in her loudest voice. The panicked look on Azusa's face was priceless. Ritsu walked up to her.
"Ritsu-senpai, please not so loud," she said. Her eyes flitted from person to person, trying to see if anyone was paying too much attention to the two of them.
"Sorry, sorry, my bad," she said. The grin never left her face. "What did you want to talk about?"
Azusa was quiet. Her eye settled into staring at the ground. Her hands came together and started twisting each other. The silence between them stretched a little too long for Ritsu's taste.
"That must have been a confession letter then, if you're this shy," she joked. Azusa's face started to turn red and she opened and closed her mouth a few times.
"Wait seriously? I, ah, was kinda joking." Ritsu said. "Not that your feelings are a joke, just..." Azusa looked down, clearly upset. She hadn't meant to make the other girl feel bad. "I just wasn't expe-"
"Not like that," Azusa managed to get out. "Not to you. Um," she looked away. She stuttered and couldn't decide what to say next. "I was... I... About... Towards... nevermind, this was a bad idea."
Ritsu couldn't have that. She was glad her kohai wasn't hurt, but now she wanted to know what was going on.
"It's a little late for that Azu-nyan," she said, drawing out the last syllable. "Now you've got me all curious. Who could my little senpai like?"
Azusa's face was fully red, but she shook her head and kept her mouth shut.
"Did a boy confess to you on your walk home? Did a long lost childhood friend come back and you don't know what to do? Hey did you have a sudden meeting with stranger and now you can't get them off your mind?" Azusa didn't budge.
"We should just go to the club room. Just forget I said anything," Azusa said.
"That's a good idea, maybe I should recruit more people to help me figure this out," Ritsu said. She watched the other girl's face closely, waiting for her to break. "I think the rest of the club would want to know too. Maybe Sawa-chan would help out, oh and I can ask Jun-chan and Ui-" she was cut off by a hand over her mouth.
"No! Don't tell anyone anything, I'll tell you." Azusa looked intently into her eyes. "Just don't tell anyone, okay?"
Ritsu nodded and waited for Azusa to continue. After a minute or two the other girl had collected herself. She stared earnestly into Ritsu's eyes. "I like Yui-senpai."
Ritsu nodded again. She let the words roll around in her head for a while. She waited for them to be less funny. They didn't oblige. Ritsu snorted, then giggled, and soon she was holding her sides.
When she got a hold of her laughter she looked at Azusa and stopped laughing immediately. The other girl was on the verge of tears. "Hey no, it's just you always act like she gets on your nerves. I thought... I mean, you like her like that don't you?" Azusa nodded. Ritsu scratched the back of her neck. She wasn't sure what to do for the other girl.
"It's alright," she said snaking here arm around Azusa's back. "I didn't mean to laugh, it's just... I can be a bit of an idiot sometimes right?"
Azusa rubbed her eyes and said, "yes, you can be."
Ritsu almost frowned at that. She was torn between being offended at Azusa's easy agreement to her being an idiot and relief that she had stopped crying. She settled on relief and decided to roll with the self deprecation.
"Yep, that's me, just saying the first thing that comes to mind," she said. "You'd figure with a forehead this big there'd be something behind it." She grinned for added affect.
Azusa giggled a little and Ritsu celebrated. No way did she want to deal with two angry friends.
"Ritsu-senpai, about what I said. Maybe we could just forget it. I thought you were, um. I thought you would, ah," Azusa said, fidgeting. "Well we should just not talk about it."
"Eh? Didn't you come to me for help?" Ritsu asked.
"Then I'm going to help you. Ah, Azusa, this is going to be a lot of fun!" Ritsu said.