Yayaka blinked as she stared into the sky. Overhead a bird flew by, heading towards the forest behind the school. She resisted the urge to turn and look towards the blocked off entrance behind her. Thinking about it didn't help. She most certainly did not want to be thinking about what might be going on inside the pipe in that clearing. Absolutely no thoughts of what was going on between Cocona and Papika. It's not like she was going to imagine that it was her touching Cocona, feeling the softness of her lips, the caress of her hands, the w-
"God Dammit!" She cursed, startling a girl walking across the path in front of her. The girl shot a glance her way and scurried off. Yayaka didn't really care. She knew she had a reputation. She just wished she could control her imagination. At least those two kept things chaste at home. Papika even slept in her own room. Sayuri had not been happy the first time she'd come to wake Cocona up and found a naked Papika wrapped around her. Not that she minded them being surgically attached at the hand though, she just made it clear that there was to be no nighttime adventures so long as they lived in her care.
Shortly after that Cocona and Papika had started going to their little retreat right after school almost every day. And here she was. Sitting on a bench close enough to be thinking about it but far enough away for deniability. She wanted to kick herself. Absolutely nothing was gained from this, other than making herself feel miserable. What was she even planning on doing. Catch them coming out looking like a hot mess? Tell Sayuri she thinks they're boinking each other's brains out after school? Even if they are what business was it of hers. It's not like she's even Cocona's ex-girlfriend. She's just her friend.
She let loose an even stronger curse this time, luckily no one was around to hear it. Propelling herself off the bench she shoved her hands into her cardigan pockets and stomped off, slouched over with an aura that screamed "Leave me alone!". A few minutes later she arrived at the tram stop. Muttering more curses, she turned and headed for the elevated walkway, she'd rather not deal with a crowded tram ride.
Halfway across the bridge she stoped. Leaning against the railing she again wondered what the heck was wrong with her. The answer, as always, came right away. She's jealous. She's jealous of Papika. The real problem was she didn't know what to do about that. How do you stop being jealous? It's not like she even really wanted to break Cocona and Papika up. They were so obviously in love, a love that made Yayaka's own feelings for Cocona look like a match next to the Sun. Ok maybe next to a very bright lantern. Yayaka had had literally years to make her move and she'd blown it. Maybe it would never have worked, but she should have at least tried. Aesclepius be damned.
"Yayaka?" A soft voice called out to her.
"What do you want?" Yayaka almost snarled as she turned, the identity of the voice barely even processing. "Oh. Sorry, Yuyu." The grey-haired girl was standing next to her, one foot stepping backwards, probably because Yayaka had startled her. Further back she could see Toto and Nyunyu, Toto's hand rested on the smaller girl's shoulder, obviously keeping her from running over to where Yuyu and Yayaka were standing. "Did you need something?"
"I…I wanted to talk to you." Her voice was quiet, more like it had been in the past. The twins had started opening up over the last few months, though they still were nearly always together. Yuyu's left arm twitched and she moved it in front of her stomach, like the sling she used to wear. Yayaka had noticed she tended to do that when nervous.
"Sure, I guess. Here?"
Yuyu glanced around. "No, somewhere quieter."
Yayaka was only becoming more confused, but also more curious. "Ok, let's go over to the park, we should be able to find a quiet corner. Are Toto and Nyunyu joining us?"
"No…this is…just me." A slight hint of a blush appeared on Yuyu's cheeks. Yayaka looked over Yuyu's shoulder and saw Toto was moving towards the stairs, dragging Nyunyu by the arm. Yayaka could probably count on one hand the number of times she'd spoken to either twin alone, and on two the times she'd ever seen them alone. Something was clearly up.
"Well, come on." Heading in the opposite direction of Yuyu's twin, Yayaka led Yuyu down the stairs onto the other side of the street, and up to a small park nearby. It was nestled in an out of the way area and currently empty. Seeing a bench towards the back Yayaka made her way over and sat down. A moment later Yuyu sat down next to her. The younger girl paused for a moment and then shrugged her red randsel off her shoulders and laid it on the ground beneath the bench.
Yayaka's curiosity was mounting, but she knew from experience that rushing Yuyu wouldn't get her anywhere. The girl was almost preternaturally composed, except for when she was in battle. Yuyu kneaded the fabric of her skirt for a moment or two then turned towards Yayaka and their eyes met. Yayaka was momentarily taken aback. There was something in those dark red eyes she'd never seen before. They seemed deeper today, as if more of Yuyu was being revealed.
"W-Well, first I'd like to apologize." Yuyu's words were a bit halting, as if she was struggling to get them out. Yayaka's confusing must have shown on her face, Yuyu blushed again and then continued. "For what happened in the white Pure Illusion. Toto and I…we could have killed you. It was wrong." Yuyu turned away but Yayaka would have sworn she saw a tear form at the corner of her eyes.
"No…its fine. It all worked out. Mostly." Yayaka, while she hadn't forgotten about it, had largely put that incident behind her. "Besides, I was the one who disobeyed orders, maybe I should apologize." A small laugh at that.
"The orders were wrong, we were wrong. We…I understand that now. You made the correct decision." Yuyu took a deep breath. "Toto and I already spoke to Cocona and Papika, apologizing to them as well. They insisted that there was nothing to apologize for as well." Yuyu cradled her left arm again, as if imagining the cast that was no longer there. She looked up once more, her eyes meeting Yayaka's. They were clearly damp now.
"Is that all?" Something still felt off. Why would Yuyu want to speak to her alone? Why wasn't Toto here. Yuyu's cheeks blushed red again, but she didn't look away.
"No, there is something else." Yuyu turned her body, raising one leg up onto the bench so she could face Yayaka more directly. "This is…I mean…I…" she took a deep breath. "Ever since we moved in together. All of us, I've begun to…." She trailed off. Yayaka could tell the girl was struggling with something, so she reached out and touched her left hand. Yuyu nearly jumped off the bench in response.
"Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to…." Yayaka thought she'd offended the grey-haired girl, but suddenly she felt her hand grasped firmly.
"No, its fine. You didn't do anything wrong." Yuyu's grip squeezed Yayaka's hand. Yayaka twisted her hand around so she could hold Yuyu's properly. "It's just hard. I've never done anything like this."
"Just do your best, I'm ready to listen to whatever you have to say." Yayaka's gently squeezed Yuyu's hand, hoping that it felt reassuring. Suddenly Yayaka realized her heart was pounding. When did that start? Why did it start? Normally this only happened when…Yuyu's voice interrupted her chain of thought.
"Yayaka", hearing the girl say her name seemed to cause Yayaka's hear to pound even harder. "Over the last few months, I've started to feel something. Something I didn't understand. It only happened when I was around you." Yayaka opened her mouth to speak. "No, let me finish, please." Yuyu's cheeks had gotten even redder and her eyes were clearly beginning to tear up. "A tightness in my chest, as if my heart wanted to collapse in on itself. Or maybe explode. I don't know."
Yayaka's own heart was hammering now. She could see where this was going, she knew that feeling. She knew that feeling so well. She wanted to stop this, to stop Yuyu from finishing. But she couldn't. Yuyu was doing what Yayaka never had the courage to do. Yayaka couldn't take that from her.
"I talked to Toto of course, but he wasn't much help. I talked to Sayuri, she…was a lot more help. Then I spoke to Cocona." Yayaka could feel her own cheeks heating, everyone else already knew. Oh no. "At first I wanted to just ignore it, but I couldn't. I was becoming distracted, I couldn't sleep. I have to tell you this or I feel like I really will explode." Yuyu's hand gripped Yayaka's even harder.
"Yayaka, I love you." The last words burst out of Yuyu's mouth with a sob, and she collapsed against Yayaka. Her face pressing against Yayaka's shoulder. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry to burden you with this." Her words were mumbled, spoke between sobs into the fabric of Yayaka's uniform.
The words still hit Yayaka like a truck. She'd realized they were coming, but she'd never expected just how it would feel to be told that. With her left hand, she gently stroked Yuyu's hair and considered what to do. She'd never considered Yuyu as a romantic partner, but now she realized the possibility. Obviously, she couldn't say right now with honesty that she loved Yuyu the way the grey-haired girl loves her, but maybe someday she could. Moving her hand down to Yuyu's shoulder she gently pushed the girl away so they could look at each other again.
"Yuyu." The girl looked up, her eyes now bloodshot from crying. "I never in a million years expected anything like this." Yuyu's face began to fall, seeming to anticipate rejection. "I can't say that I love you back, not right now. However, I'm willing to give it a shot, so how about this; we'll go on a date. This weekend, ok?" Yuyu nodded, her face a mixture of happiness and surprise.
"T-Thank you, Yayaka." Yuyu's voice shook slightly. "I hope I can live up to your expectations."
"No, don't say it like that." Yayaka dug a handkerchief out of her bag and started wiping the tears off Yuyu's face. "All you can do is your best, it's all any of us can do. So, let's do our best together, ok?" Shoving the dirty cloth back into her bag, Yayaka stood and held her hand out to Yuyu. "How about we start by holding hands?" Pulling Yuyu to her feet, Yayaka let the girl pull on her randsel and then took her hand again.
"Let's go home."