Two years had passed since Haruka's high school graduation. This time around, it had been Yukino's turn. The ceremony had come and gone without a hitch, and now the graduates who were still living in the dorms had until the middle of the month to move out and make way for the new students. Haruka was helping with the packing and moving. Yukino didn't have that many belongings, but it would still take at least two car trips in Haruka's little sedan.
Haruka stood on her tiptoes, reaching out for the last box resting on back of the top shelf of the closet. She closed her hands around the sides and slid it off the shelf. The box was a lot heavier than she expected. She tried to keep from dropping it, but only succeeded in slowing its decent to the floor. An open edge of the box caught and ran across the inside of her arm before it hit the floor with a clatter.
"Ouch!" Haruka yelped. She stared for a moment as a line of blood appeared on her arm. "What does she keep in this box anyway, a whale?" she muttered. She pulled back another flap to reveal some metallic box-like objects. She raised her eyebrows in momentary confusion before heading to the bathroom in search of a band-aid.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, brush, comb, floss, nail cutter, toothpicks, cotton swabs, wooden ear cleaner, headache medication, upset stomach medication, mouthwash...
No band-aids...no bandages.
Haruka sighed, resting her hands on her hips. Maybe there was something in the main room. She left the bathroom and headed for the nearest dresser. She opened the top drawer, and scanned it quickly. Among the contents were some books and small photo albums. The executive director armband was folded neatly along the side of the drawer. The ends of Haruka's lips twitched upwards.
She was poised to close the drawer and look at the next one when her hands paused over a thin green ribbon. She snatched it up on impulse. She ran her fingertips along its length, smoothing it out, then flipped it over.
Haruka's eyes widened.
But...but...this was one of THOSE ribbons!
Maybe Yukino had picked it up while cleaning at the crystal arena and decided to keep it as a memory. Haruka nodded her head. Yes, that had to be it. Some underclassman admirer had tied it to the fence, and Yukino had found it. She nodded again.
She twisted her fingers in the hair near her scalp and pulled a little.
ARRGH! What was she thinking? That was even stupider than her first impression! The ribbon didn't even have any bends or creases...it was probably never even used.
"Haruka? Did you get that box down yet?"
Haruka spun around, sliding the drawer shut and flipping the hand holding the ribbon behind her back. Yukino was standing at the door with a few empty boxes piled in her arms. "Yes, everything's fine." She forced a bright smile onto her face.
Yukino frowned at Haruka. "I asked about the box in the closet I asked you to take down. Are you feeling all right? We can take a break..."
"Oh, I managed to get it down, but I cut my arm on the edge, so I was looking for some band-aids..." Haruka held up the arm not holding the ribbon. Blood was trickling along the length of her forearm. Her mouth gaped open a bit. "I didn't realize the cut was that deep."
Yukino dropped the boxes on the floor and took a few quick steps forward. She took Haruka's arm into a gentle grip. "You're always so reckless," she chided softly.
"Hmph." Haruka resisted the urge to fold her arms across her chest.
"Come on, I'll help you wash it off." Yukino turned towards the bathroom. Haruka jammed the ribbon into the pocket of her pants before following.
Yukino turned on the faucet, balancing the hot and cold water.
There's no mistake what those ribbons were for...a wish to see one's love again. One's romantic love... But surely the ribbon was old, possibly from when they had been in school together. Maybe her feelings had changed.
Yukino's smiling eyes and her soft touch as she took Haruka's arm seemed to say something different. Haruka stared unabashed at Yukino as she slowly brought Haruka's arm under the stream of water and turned it back and forth to make sure she got all of the blood.
She wondered if Yukino had ever wanted to kiss her.
Where the hell did that come from?
The running water stopped. Yukino pulled out a roll of bandages from a drawer under the sink that Haruka had overlooked. She wrapped it around Haruka's arm, tore off an end, and tied it tight.
"There, that should do." Yukino replaced the bandage roll under the sink.
"Thank you," Haruka said quietly.
Yukino's cheeks had acquired a faint pink hue as she felt the weight of Haruka's gaze. "Look, you even got some on your shirt." Haruka blinked and looked down. Yukino was pointing at a couple of drops of blood on her shirt.
Yukino looked up.
"And some in your hair!" Haruka blinked again. Yukino was holding some strands of Haruka's hair. "Honestly, how do you manage these things?"
Haruka suddenly grinned. "It's only natural!" she said, flippantly. "After all, I am the ever-talented Suzushiro Haruka."
Yukino sighed as she grabbed a hand towel hanging from the wall. She briefly turned on the faucet, wetting a corner of the towel.
She wondered what kissing Yukino would be like. Surely it would be quite different from the few dates she'd had while at university. Those hadn't gone so well... Her mother had berated her for being so forceful and domineering. Men liked quiet women. Haruka had laughed. She wasn't going to change just to continue going out with some random guy that she didn't even care about. She hadn't consented to any arranged dates since then.
Yukino wiped away the blood in Haruka's hair, then dabbed at the blood on her shirt.
But Yukino...she was different. If there were any one person that Haruka had unconsciously invested the majority of her feelings into, it would be Yukino. Romantic thoughts had never occurred to her.
Maybe that's what was missing.
A hand was waving in front of her face. Haruka's eyelids fluttered, and she refocused her vision on Yukino.
"You seem really distracted." Yukino's voice sounded worried. "We can finish tomorrow. It's almost evening anyhow."
"Ah, you're right." Haruka yawned. "I'm pretty tired."
"I'll walk you to your car."
Haruka walked back into the main room and took her suede jacket from the closet. She slid it on as she followed Yukino out of the room.
They passed Mai and Mikoto's room on the way down. Haruka's eyebrows raised at the sight through the open door. In a single glance, she spotted Mai, Mikoto, Yuuichi, Shiho, Natsuki, and Kazu. The noises coming from the room assured there were more people hidden behind the walls.
Yukino giggled at the look on Haruka's face.
"Surely they don't need that many people to move?" Haruka said when they had passed the room.
"They're all helping each other. On top of that, Minakata is moving in with Minagi, Tokiha and Tate are moving into an apartment, and I think I heard something about Kuga as well."
Haruka scrunched her face in disgust. "Helping one person move is enough for me."
"I agree. If every move went like mine, there wouldn't be much left of you." Yukino briefly touched Haruka's arm where she knew the bandage was underneath the jacket.
"Hey!" Haruka protested. Yukino laughed again.
Outside, the sun was beginning to set. The blue of the sky faded into oranges around the sun. A few small clouds drifted far above the ground, and a soft breeze was making its way through the campus, taking the time to weave through Haruka's hair.
A huge smile crept onto Haruka's face. She darted in front of Yukino and walked backwards for a few steps. "It's a perfect evening, isn't it?"
Yukino nodded. Her smile hadn't faded.
Haruka's eyes landed on a bench alongside the pathway. "Sit with me for a bit." Haruka flopped down on the bench without waiting for an answer. Yukino slid onto the bench with quite a bit more grace.
They sat in silence. Out of the corner of her eye, Haruka watched Yukino look at the oranges spread slowly across the sky, neck craned slightly back.
Haruka yawned and briefly stretched her arms back above her head. She turned towards Yukino, putting her elbow on the back of the bench and resting her head in her upturned palm. "Yuu. Kii. Noo."
"Hm?" Yukino's eyes stayed on the sky.
Yukino looked confused as she turned towards Haruka. "What do you mean?"
"You're graduating! One phase of your life is ending and another is beginning!"
Yukino looked down at her hands, which rested in her lap. "Well...I think everyone always has regrets..." She looked back at Haruka.
Haruka smiled mysteriously. "I think you're exactly right." She leaned closer to Yukino.
Yukino gasped as Haruka slid the glasses off of her nose. Haruka brought her other hand to Yukino's face and slid fingertips along her cheek before leaning in to brush lips against lips. A few moments passed. Haruka was about to pull away when Yukino finally kissed back.
The kiss was soft. Gentle. Sweet.
Quick footsteps sounded behind Haruka. "...just a little while."
Haruka froze, realizing how public a place they were at.
"They have more than enough help. Besides, it's more interesting..." The second voice trailed off. An amused, yet elegant chuckle followed.
Haruka turned her head about slowly to face the intruders, eye twitching. Natsuki didn't exist in her vision, even though she was standing a couple of steps in front of Shizuru.
Haruka was torn between wanting to rip the former student council president's head off and wanting to melt into the ground and disappear.
Of all the nerve!
Shizuru had proceeded to tell her that she was going about it completely wrong. Then she gave a demonstration. No, it was more like a sex-club show as she ravished a shocked Natsuki with her lips and tongue.
The only saving grace had been when Natsuki came to her senses and irately pulled a smirking Shizuru away.
Forget melting, she was going to have bubuzuke head for dinner. Haruka was about to storm off in the direction Shizuru had been led, but Yukino's hand on her arm stopped her.
"Haruka... What was that about?" Yukino said hesitantly.
Haruka gaped like a fish. Her eyes darted everywhere except at Yukino.
Haruka's shoes were very interesting. They were dark grey with white laces and yellow-green stripes that matched her shirt...
"Um, well, Iwasjustcurious! Curious. That's all. It didn't mean anything, so don't worry about it." Haruka laughed hollowly. She glanced back up at her friend. Yukino looked close to tears. Haruka winced and mentally throttled herself by the throat.
Haruka reached into her pocket and fingered the ribbon inside. "While I was looking for bandages, I stumbled on this." She pulled out the ribbon and held it out to Yukino.
Yukino squinted at it. Her face paled. "So... you took pity on me...?" her voice cracked.
"What? No!" Haruka sighed heavily. "I...it was actually...quite nice," she admitted.
Yukino stared at her.
"Best kiss I've ever had." Haruka gave her a thumbs up and smiled softly.
Yukino wiped a hand at her watery eyes, and a small answering smile crept onto her face.
"So...um... Now what? I'm not very good at these sort of things." Haruka fidgeted with the end of her jacket sleeve.
"I think...I think I'm going to ask you if you'd like to have dinner sometime?" Yukino's voice was adorably small and hopeful.
A long moment passed. "Okay." Haruka tossed Yukino a goofy grin. "But only if you let me pay as an apology."
"You don't need to apologize..."
"Sure I do. I have a very thick head. Now stop arguing, you'll ruin the moment."
Haruka smiled at Yukino. Her hand found Yukino's, and their fingers twined together. Yukino blushed.
Why hadn't she noticed how beautiful Yukino had become? Too busy going off on tangents all the time, probably. University and clubs and work and rivalries. The blush on Yukino's face was deepening under the scrutiny.
"Yes?" Haruka squeezed Yukino's hand lightly.
"May I have my glasses back?"