Kyou Fujibayashi looked out of the window at the almost empty courtyard below. Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa were sitting together eating bread. They had been doing this a lot lately. Kyou had also heard that the two of them were trying to revive the drama club by recruiting new members.
Why are they spending so much time together? What does Tomoya see in her? Kyou didn't dislike Nagisa, but she couldn't fathom why or how she had grown so attached to Tomoya so quickly. Nagisa had seemed so incredibly shy. Had Tomoya approached her? He must have. There was no way Nagisa would have initiated conversation with a reputed "delinquent" like Tomoya. Or anyone else, for that matter. But less than a month into the new school year they were eating lunch together every day.
Kyou grew frustrated watching them. It had taken her an entire school year to get as close as she was with Tomoya. Her temperamental personality and his foul mouth had resulted in more arguments than she could count. They rarely escalated to shouting matches, and even more rarely she'd throw a book or two at him if he'd really crossed the line. She had actually come to enjoy their banter, and Tomoya had too if she was not mistaken. He practically ignored the rest of his schoolmates. Besides Tomoya's deadbeat friend Sunohara, Kyou was the only person she knew of that was on a mutual first-name basis with Tomoya.
Did she like Tomoya? Of course not! Who would like an idiot like that? Though she had to admit that his face was fairly handsome. As long as it wasn't saying something horrible, which it often was. And he was pretty funny. His grades were terrible, but that was mostly due to his penchant for sleeping in until noon. She suspected he was smarter than he let on. But of course she didn't like him!
Kyou wrenched herself away from the window and stormed down the hallway. But then what was this feeling she got when she saw Tomoya and Nagisa together? Nothing good, that was for sure. Was it jealousy? No, why would she be jealous? Tomoya would totally hang out with Kyou any time she asked, right? Not that she really ever asked. And not that she wanted to, anyway!
She'd awoken late today, which meant she hadn't had a chance to make herself lunch. She was a pretty good cook and she preferred her own cooking to boring, overpriced cafeteria food. But there was no getting around it today. As she entered the cafeteria, there was still a huge crowd of people trying to buy food. Her standing as a senior class president (and definitely not her violent bulldozing) allowed her to easily progress towards the head of the line. As she neared the front of the line, several burly rugby players were taking their time ordering. She didn't think it was worth starting an actual fight, so she decided to wait for them to finish.
Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder. It felt like a man's hand, but the grip was pitifully weak. Kyou whirled around, preparing to tear the arm off of whoever had dared to touch her. She came face to face with an obnoxious blonde boy who had been brutishly forcing his way to the front of the line.
"Take your filthy hand off of me, Sunohara, before I rip it off!" she spat.
"Ahaha… Fujibayashi!" he laughed extremely nervously, yanking his arm away as quickly as he could. "I didn't see you there, my bad, my bad! Ahahaha! Getting some lunch, huh?"
Kyou rolled her eyes at his clumsy attempt to be friendly. She was about to chew him out, but suddenly thought of a better use for him. A mischievous smile crept onto her face. It would be too easy to pump this idiot for information instead. Sunohara mistook her changing facial expression as a violent turn and began to panic.
"Please don't hit me, I'm sorry! Look, please, I'm about to become a male model and my face is my most val-"
"Where's Okazaki? I thought you guys always ate lunch together," Kyou asked.
"Huh? Oh…" he replied, his face darkening. "He's eating lunch with Furukawa again."
"Oh?" Kyou feigned surprise. "I didn't know they were friends."
"They're not. Not really anyway. Don't tell anyone I told you this, but…"
Kyou nodded and leaned in conspiratorially. He was so easily to manipulate. She had a hard time not laughing in Sunohara's face.
"Furuwaka's family runs a bakery, right? And they have all this leftover bread, see. Furukawa doesn't have any friends, so she's super lonely and stuff? Okazaki just pretends to be friends with her, and her parents are thrilled and give him all the bread he can eat. Pretty sweet deal, right? But that bastard won't even share with me. And he won't even let me get near her! Okazaki's such a jerk, right?"
Kyou could not believe this. In fact, she literally did not believe this. Tomoya could be rude and insensitive, but she had a hard time believing that he was in a pretend friendship for all-you-can-eat bread. Only an idiot would believe that.
"- and the cafeteria bread is so expensive! And I don't have a job, so I can barely afford lunch as it is. And he's getting as much as he can carry! He should at least bring me some, right?" Sunohara continued his rambling.
Only an idiot would believe that load of crap. But why had Okazaki lied to his best friend about the nature of his friendship with that girl? Something didn't add up here. Kyou felt a knot forming in her stomach. Was there something going on between the two of them that Tomoya didn't want anyone else knowing about? Kyou was not about to be beaten by some shy drama girl, she knew that much. Wait, beaten? At what? Why was she getting so worked up about this?
"Hey, that's the guy!" The group of rugby players had finally finished getting their food and turned around to leave the counter. One of the younger rugby players was pointing at Sunohara. "He knocked me over in line yesterday, and I almost got trampled to death!" he insisted.
"Huh? Me? No, ahaha, you must be mistaking me for someone else!" Sunohara backed away nervously, looking for an escape route. The disgruntled students behind him in line that he had rudely shoved past mere moments ago now seemed to form an impenetrable wall. He had nowhere for him to run. A particularly bulky senior grabbed him by his collar.
"Oh yeah? Let's go outside and have a little talk with the rest of the team, and we'll see who's made a mistake", the rugby player growled.
"Fujibayashi, help me! Uwaa… UUUWWWAAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGGGHHHHHHHH", Sunohara screamed as he was helplessly dragged away. And he was never seen again! she thought, hopefully. Without missing a beat, she turned to the now available lunch counter and bought the sandwich she'd come for in the first place.
Kyou settled herself outside against a tree and slowly munched on her sandwich. She wasn't sure why she was so agitated, but she was sure that she might explode if she had to watch Tomoya and Nagisa eating lunch every single day. Well that was an easy fix. Kyou would invite Tomoya to eat lunch with her. And there was no way he could turn down a homemade lunchbox. They were friends, right? It was totally normal to have lunch with your friends. Friends made friends lunch all the time!
It's totally normal to wake up at 5am to make lunch for your friends, Kyou told herself as she brought a pot of rice to a boil at 5:15 the next morning. She began breading the tender pork cutlets she'd purchased on her way home from school yesterday. This was her signature dish, so naturally she had to make that for her lunch with Tomoya. Obviously that should be accompanied by tomagoyaki, and some pickled daikon, and…
Several hours later the completed bento boxes had been assembled. She had prepared a large box for Tomoya and her to share. She'd also prepared a smaller second box as well, since she had made so much food.
"Onee-chan?" Kyou's younger twin sister Ryou entered the kitchen, dressed in her school uniform. "It's almost time to go." Her eyes swept across the kitchen, which was now piled high with dirty dishes. "How long have you been up?" she asked.
"Oh, not that long," Kyou said cheerfully. "I made you lunch too, Ryou!"
Kyou presented her with the smaller of the two lunches. Ryou eyed the large lunchbox. She knew her sister couldn't eat that much food by herself. Ryou was keenly aware of her older sisters crush, and could put two and two together.
"Oh, I need to shower before school!" Kyou exclaimed, hurrying out of the kitchen and down the hallway.
"Thank you, onee-chan! But you're going to be late again!" Ryou called after her.
"I'll be fine! If you wait for me we'll both end up late!" Kyou was never late. She always arrived at school exactly when she meant to. Coming to school by bike was against school regulations, but what the school didn't know wouldn't hurt them.
Kyou loved the feeling of the wind on her face as she rode to school. She closed her eyes for a moment to savor the sensation.
WHAM. She felt the familiar feeling of her right handlebar impacting the side of a human body.
"What's wrong with you? Weren't you looking where you were going? This is a road, not a sidewalk", Kyou shouted as she slowed and circled back to make sure she hadn't done any real damage to the undoubtedly idiotic pedestrian. There hadn't been and crunching or splattering, so they were surely fine. She probably didn't even need to stop, but she was a good Samaritan so she should at least make sure.
Tomoya picked himself up off the ground. He'd heard the bike coming, so he'd managed to dodge at the last second. Mostly, anyway.
"Tomoya, good morning!" Kyou called cheerfully, coming to a stop beside him. "Just who I was looking for!"
"Owww… Again? You seriously need to watch where you're going on that thing. You could kill someone!" Tomoya grumbled, picking up his book bag from where it had flown. He shuddered to think about the damage an impact like that would have had if it had hit him directly, as opposed to his bag.
"Ahahahaaa! Don't be such a whiner! Boys are supposed to be tough! You're fine, right?"
"I *should* just report this to the police and let them sort it out," Tomoya continued to complain.
"You wouldn't do something so horrible to your dear friend, would you? I'd probably get suspended from school and lose my license!" Kyou's cheerfulness began to flag. Tomoya wouldn't, would he? Of course not!
"Just stop hitting people, okay? Especially me," Tomoya relented.
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry, sheesh. Forgive and forget, right? We're going to be late!" Kyou sped off.
"I should teach her a lesson and let the air out of her tires…" Tomoya muttered bitterly. Kyou suddenly screeched to a stop and sped back towards him. "Oh you've got to be kidding me. There's no way she heard that!"
"Hey, I almost forgot. Wanna have lunch with me? I made a giant bento for us. You've got to be getting sick of eating bread every day, right?"
Tomoya blinked. He had so many questions. Why was she inviting him to lunch? It didn't seem like an apology thing, she had already said she was looking for him. Plus she said she made it for "us" which implied prior planning. And how does she know what I normally eat for lunch?
"Uh, okay?" he managed.
"Great, meet me by that big maple tree by the gym! Better not be late!" she called out as she sped off again.
Kyou felt oddly satisfied. She had figured it would take much more cajoling to get him to agree to lunch, but she had literally run into him on the way to school, and he'd agreed just like that! He was going to be blown away by her cooking, she was sure of that.
Kyou sprinted out of her classroom when the lunch bell rang. She arrived at the agreed upon location in record time. The chosen tree was pretty far away from the usual lunch crowd. They wouldn't be alone, but there were only a few people within eyesight, and none within earshot. She opened her bag and removed a plaid blanket, two small cushions, a thermos of tea, a thermos of juice, two sets of chopsticks, and finally the multi-layer lunch box she had spent all morning preparing. She spread out the blanket, arranged the lunch supplies, and sat down on one of the cushions. She poured a cup of juice and sipped it as she waited.
After five minutes, she began to get impatient. After ten, she began to panic. Did he forget? Did he think she had been joking? Did he just stand her up? Was he eating lunch with Nagisa laughing at Kyou? There would be hell to pay if he didn't have a damn good explanation for this! She felt her heartbeat quickening.
She was so distracted by her anger that she barely registered the approaching figure. Looking up, she realized it was Tomoya. Finally. Relief coursed through her, and she released the fists she hadn't noticed she'd clenched.
"Hey, sorry I'm late. The teacher grabbed me and Sunohara on the way out of class and chewed us out about our attendance," Tomoya said as he approached, clearly apologetic. "Were you waiting long? You didn't have to wait for me," he said.
"I just got here," Kyou lied automatically. She wasn't sure why she said that, though it somehow felt like the right thing to say. "Have a seat." Tomoya obliged. Kyou was starving. She had been busy to eat breakfast. She wasted no time in removing the lid from the lunch box.
"Woah!" Tomoya goggled at the contents. Tonkatsu, shredded cabbage, tomagoyaki, pickled daikon, a small salad, spring rolls, and fried tofu. "Did… did you seriously make all this?"
Kyou removed the top layer of the lunch box, revealing an identical layer underneath. She set that layer down in front of Tomoya, revealing a third layer beneath, containing a delicious smelling stew, pasta and meatballs, simmered fish, and a variety of cookies.
"Dig in!" Kyou said, smirking. She poured herself a cup of tea and then popped a piece of fried pork into her mouth. Tomoya was speechless, but he followed suit. His eyes widened as he slowly ate a piece. "Wow, that's surprisingly good," he said.
"Thank you! And I'll pretend I didn't hear the 'surprisingly' part!" Even the backhanded compliment made her smile. Tomoya tried another item. Another compliment. Kyou could get used to this! They made small talk as they hopelessly attempted to finish the small army's worth of food in front of them. They hadn't had many opportunities to talk like this recently. Kyou mentally kicked herself for not doing this sooner.
"Do you… want to do this again sometime?" Kyou asked, uncharacteristically timid. "I mean, I'm not going to make you a lunchbox every time or anything."
"You're not going to make that tonkatsu again?" Tomoya asked, legitimately looking disappointed.
"Well, maybe sometimes. So is that a yes? I know you usually eat with Furukawa…"
Tomoya raised an eyebrow. "Sure, it's not a big deal eating lunch together sometimes."
Kyou's stomach did a flip. Pointedly ignoring it, she pressed on. "Are you and her…?"
" …?" Tomoya looked at her blankly. The clueless bastard was going to make her ask him straight out.
"… going out? I mean it's okay if you are-"
"Ahahahahahahaha," Tomoya laughed.
"Ahahahaaaa" Kyou joined him nervously.
"No, not at all. What gave you that idea?" Tomoya asked.
"I dunno, you guys just seem to be spending a lot of time together recently." Kyou suddenly felt embarrassed for prying.
"I'm helping her reinstate the drama club."
"Ahahahahahahaa" Kyou laughed.
"Ahahahahahaa…" Tomoya joined in, "but seriously, I am."
Kyou looked at him blankly. "You? You're in the drama club?"
"Nooo. No. No no no. I'm helping re-form the club. Big difference. I have no intention of joining the club."
"Don't tell me… The thing Sunohara said about the bread… was true?" Kyou had a look of utter disgust on her face.
Tomoya sighed and facepalmed. "That idiot. I can't believe he told you that. Look, he's not exactly capable of doing something unless there is a clear benefit for him. He was asking me the same stuff you are, so I made that up to get him off my back. That moron will believe absolutely anything."
Kyou felt relieved. But he still hadn't really spilled the details yet. "So what are you doing then?"
"It's kind of complicated to explain, okay? You know how she's repeating her senior year, right? She's been out sick from school a lot, ever since she was little. So she could never join the drama club like she always wanted. Now that she finally has the chance, the club is shuttered due to lack of members. So I'm trying to help her get the club opened up again."
That sounded nice and all, but it still didn't explain why at all. "I guess that explains the what… But that doesn't explain the why," Kyou asked, still confused.
"You're aware of how I'm a worthless waste of space, right? A delinquent, no real future plans." Tomoya asked.
"Mmhmm," Kyou nodded.
"Furukawa's not like that. She has an actual dream. Something that she wants to do. It's hard to describe, but being around her makes me feel like I'm doing something that has meaning. Like I'm not just wasting away the hours until I go to sleep. Even if it's just for her sake, it makes me feel happy to help her. Do you know what I mean?"
Kyou nodded again, deep in thought. Was he seriously this kind and selfless without even trying? What an idiot, saying all of those embarrassing things like it was nothing. Her cheeks reddened slightly.
"That's… really kind of you Tomoya. Furukawa is really lucky to have you as a friend," Kyou said.
"Nah, not really. I haven't been able to help much at all."
Kyou suspected he was just being modest. Nagisa seemed too timid to even be able to talk to the student council.
The warning bell for the end of lunch rang.
"Crap!" Kyou exclaimed, looking down at the lunch that was barely even half eaten. "We have to finish this!"
"You've got to be kidding me, right? There's no way that's even possible, Kyou."
"Aaaaaaah…" she groaned, realizing he was right. She started to pack up. Tomoya tried to help, but mostly stood around awkwardly. She noted that he'd at least tried everything. And the tonkatsu was completely gone.
"That was really good. I had no idea you were such a good cook." It might have sounded like flattery coming from anyone else, but Kyou knew Tomoya always spoke his mind.
"Thanks! I bet there's a lot of things you don't know about me," she replied, mysteriously.
They walked back to class together, barely missing the starting bell for the next period. Kyou walked into her class a minute late. Her teacher gave her a disapproving look. She couldn't care less, and beamed back at him.
After that first lunch, they began eating together a few times a week. Tomoya still spent a lot of time with Nagisa, but Kyou wasn't jealous anymore. In fact, she'd helped them out a few times. The student council had been tearing down their posters. Kyou and her sister had put in a good word for them and helped put up more posters when the council finally relented. Kyou had also helped clean and organize the club room, a task which the frail and weak Furukawa was obviously not suited for. Tomoya was also pretty weak for a boy. He seemed to have trouble lifting things above shoulder level.
Kyou was having lunch with Tomoya again today. It was just cafeteria food today, but they were sitting by the Japanese maple by the gym as usual. Kyou had been feeling this tension rising for weeks now, and today was the day she was going to do something about it. Things might go very badly if she failed, but she knew she had to try or she would regret it forever.
"Tomoya… Hypothetically… If a girl asked you out, what would you do?" Kyou asked.
"Hmmm…" Tomoya considered this. "I think you should say yes."
"Huh?" Kyou said, confused.
"I don't think gender really matters when it comes to love. If a girl asked you out and you like her, you should say yes. Besides, I think everyone already knows you're bi-"
Kyou hurled an unopened package of bread at his face.
"No one asked me out, you moron! I'm talking about you! And for the hundredth time, I'm not bi!" Kyou shouted.
"So you haven't gotten a single love letter from a girl this week?" Tomoya asked, feigning innocence.
"Grrrr. Stop trying to change the subject. I'm asking about you!"
"I dunno. Depends on the girl, I guess?"
"What if it was Ryou?"
"Hmm," Tomoya pondered. "Fujibayashi's nice, I guess. But she's really quiet and submissive, and we don't really have anything in common. I'd say I'm not interested in her. Are you trying to set us up or something?"
"No…" Kyou replied. He wasn't exactly wrong about Ryou. They were not a good match, that could only end in disappointment. Kyou was testing the waters here, and was having a hard time getting to the point. Argh, did he already know? Was he deliberately making this difficult for her? Or was he just that dense?
"What if… What if it was me?" There was no turning back now.
"You? Well, um…" Tomoya seemed to be at a loss for words. Kyou plowed ahead, hoping against hope that this wasn't a huge mistake.
"Tomoya, I- I like you. I've liked you for ages. I've been so afraid to say anything. I didn't know what I'd do if you said no, but I can't keep pretending I don't feel this way." Kyou was panicking. "I know I'm not very nice or pretty, and I'm a violent loudmouth, but… Do you… I mean-" She was on the verge of tears. Suddenly, Tomoya put his arms around her. His embrace was warm, and more comforting than she was prepared for.
"Kyou, it's okay. I like you too," Tomoya said.
Kyou burst into tears. She felt humiliated at having spilled her guts like that. But she also felt immense relief. She wrapped her arms around Tomoya and buried her face in his chest. He held her tightly while she cried.
"I've liked you for a while too," he said. "It's just that… being with a deadbeat like me is probably the worst thing that could happen to someone like you."
"I don't care, I want to be with you, Tomoya," Kyou said.
"Well, there goes my plan to not drag you down with me. I'll be with you for as long as you can put up with me."
"That's going to be forever, you know. Don't say things you don't can't take back."
"I do mean it. So I guess that makes you my girlfriend?"
"Yeah, and you're my boyfriend now, Tomoya. Gah, that's so embarrassing to say out loud. Don't make me say it!"
Kyou wrenched free from him, turning away slightly to wipe her face with a handkerchief. When she turned back, Tomoya's face was close. Too close. She looked into his eyes. They were getting bigger? No, his face no was getting closer. No, her face was moving?
She closed her eyes as their lips pressed together softly, hesitantly. After a few fumbling seconds they broke apart. While not masterfully executed on the technical side of things (it was her first kiss after all, and she suspected it was his as well), her heart began to pound faster and faster. She looked into his eyes hungrily. Grabbing his head with both hands she pulled him in for more. Yelping at her sudden ferocity, Tomoya reciprocated enthusiastically.
Their lunch remained unfinished when the bell rang.
They were both late to their afternoon classes. Kyou tried to enter her classroom stealthily, but she was the class president and not exactly lacking in presence. All eyes were on her when she entered the classroom. Several people started whispering excitedly as she sat down. The teacher gave her a look that said "I'll see you after school", and Kyou nodded slightly. She couldn't care less right now about getting chewed out by a teacher. She glared at the clock, urging it to bring the school day to a swift end.
The minutes dragged by. Every time one class ended and a new one started, the amount of whispering and glances in her direction seemed to increase. Finally the excruciatingly long afternoon classes ended. After being lectured on the importance of setting a good example for seemingly forever she was finally free.
She stopped by Tomoya's classroom, but he was already gone. Slightly disappointed, she headed for the school gate, wondering if he'd already gone home. He was there waiting for her. Kyou had never had a boy waiting at the school gate for her before, and it felt really good.
"Hey, thanks for waiting!" she said.
"It's no big deal," he replied.
Kyou glanced around. There were probably a hundred students milling around, some leaving, some chatting with friends before club activities started. Many were watching them and whispering. She knew how fast word would spread if she did anything in public. And she didn't care.
Kyou grabbed Tomoya's head and kissed him roughly.
"Nice to see you too," he muttered, reddening, as students around them began to lose their minds.
Kyou linked arms with him and they began the walk down the long winding hill together.