Risa dropped her school bag on the chair next to her and leaned on the table. She glanced around. There were probably seven other people within the entire library.
"Hello, Literature partner. So our project is supposed to be about--,"
"Innuendo. Indication. Hints and foreshadowing in cultural works."
"Yeah. We're studying McKinley, right?"
Satoshi nodded lazily, sitting back in his chair. "Right."
She tilted her head. "You know all this already, don't you?"
She sighed. "Lucky me then, to have been partnered with you."
But she didn't sound like she was lucky.
"Do you have to eat while we're working?"
"It's morning and you wanted us to come here early. I missed eating breakfast with Riku. I'm hungry." She tore off a piece of her criossant and shrugged good-naturedly at him. Satoshi brushed crumbs off of his notebook.
"You don't have to call me that."
He looked up and stared at her. "Call you what?"
"Harada-san. We've been friends for a while now, you can call me by my first name."
He held his gaze for a moment longer before bending back down to write avidly in his notebook. "Right."
Risa watched him work, his hand gliding smoothly over the paper and the words he wrote down coming out in smooth, legible strokes. "So...I can call you by your first name, right?"
He didn't answer.
His shoulders tensed. Risa smiled and tore off another bit of pastry.
When he spoke she noted that he sounded annoyed. "Harada-san, please. I'm trying to--,"
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
He sat back and waited while Risa read his notes.
"Are you done yet?" He reached out to pull them back towards his side of the table.
"Harada-san, I need those for the essay section." He reached out for them.
"Satoshi-kun, wait!" She grabbed his wrist and held on, her eyes still scanning the pages. "I'm not done!" She was laughing to herself.
He tried to pull out of her grasp.
"Will you let me go?"
"I won't take them back."
"I don't trust you."
He sighed audibly.
Takeshi sauntered up to their table, books in one hand and a very suggestive expression on his face. Satoshi was reading a book and Risa was taking notes from another.
"Well, well, well, in the library again, I see. You two have been here every day for nearly a week."
Risa pulled a new sheet of paper towards her. "Go away, Saehara-bozu."
He grinned, looking between them. "So, are you guys dating or something?"
Satoshi turned a page. "Go away, Saehara-san."
"So, McKinley liked how opposites attract, right?"
"And she used it in her writings suggestively? Like, opposing innuendos?"
"Like good and evil."
"Like you and Daisuke-kun?"
"Like Dark and Krad?" He looked at her. She smiled brightly at him, wrinkling her nose. "It was just a joke."
He was silent for a moment before shrugging it off and nodding. "Like Dark and Krad, Harada-san."
He pulled off his drenched raincoat and threw it over the back of his chair, letting the water puddle on the floor beneath. He took off his glasses and cleaned them on his shirt, sitting down. Risa watched him all the while from across the table.
"Why are you wet?" she asked.
He stopped cleaning his glasses to look up at her. "What?"
"Why are you wet?"
He continued staring. "Harada-san, it's raining."
It was. Huge droplets of water were bashing against the paneled windows. Hardly anyone was in the library today.
Risa's eyes widened. "Don't tell me you walked here."
"Okay then, I won't. Did you bring back my notes?"
She gaped at him. "Satoshi-kun! Why didn't you just cancel if you couldn't get a ride?"
"I can walk. It's just rain."
The wind howled through the cracks in the door and rainwater began to leak into the library. Outside stray tree branches were bowing to the small storm.
"The rain wasn't this bad when I called you, but when it got worse you could have just cancelled."
"I didn't have to cancel."
"You also didn't have to walk."
"Did you bring my notes?"
She raised an eyebrow. "Why didn't you have to cancel? The projects not that important to have to come here on a Saturday afternoon."
"Can you hand me that notebook?"
Risa slid it over and Satoshi took it wordlessly, opening it and immediately jotting down notes. Risa waited for his answer, but it never came. Instead he glanced up at her momentarily before looking back down as if he hadn't looked at all.
Risa saw this and blushed.
"Answer the question."
"It's not school related."
"We're not even in school. Answer the question."
"If you won't answer then I'll answer for you."
"That doesn't make sense..."
He lowered his book and glared at her. "Black?"
She smiled. "Yes, black."
"You're wearing black right now."
"Am I only allowed to wear my favorite color?"
She sat up and leaned over the table to brush lint off of his shoulder. "Black makes you look handsome. Why? It's not your favorite color?" He watched her sit back and brush her bangs from her eyes. "Well?"
He nodded, raising his book. "Yeah. Black's my favorite color."
As he walked up to the table Risa glared at him, her arms crossed and her brow furrowed. He stopped short of the table but was still within speaking distance. "Is something wrong?"
She waited a few minutes before unfolding her arms. In her hand she clutched a rather thick pile of folded notes, pink writing visible on practically all of them. She threw them on the table so that they splayed out in a fan in front of her. "For you," she said heavily, sounding genuinely angry. Satoshi didn't catch on.
"What do you mean, 'for me'?"
"From your admirers." She stood up and began shrugging on her coat. "I've only been here twenty minutes and in that time I've had about seven girls come up to me and ask me to give you those. The one with the flower petal will be waiting for you outside by the cherry blossoms." She wrapped her scarf around her neck and slung her school bag over her shoulder. ignoring the blank, wide-eyed expression on Satoshi's face.
"Are you leaving?"
"Of course I am! I feel like I'm crowding you." She skirted around the table and started heading for the doors behind him.
He frowned. "I don't understand why you're angry. I don't know any of those girls and I'm certainly not going to meet anyone outside. We still have a lot of things to do." He suddenly realized that there were almost tears in her eyes.
"You've so many other willing girls, why don't you work with one of them!"
He grabbed her arm as she passed. "I never asked to work with any of them. They're not mi--...my science partner."
He felt her flinch as he stumbled over his words. She jerked her arm free and walked away. Satoshi didn't move for a long time.
Satoshi had been working on their project alone for nearly two days when his cellphone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket and flipped it open. Out of the corner of his eye he saw two girls watching him from behind the bookshelves, giggling as he said hello into the reciever and then scurrying away when they noticed he saw them. He shook his head.
He hated being stared at.
He sat up straighter. "Harada-san?"
There was an impatient sigh. "No, not Harada-san, Risa-chan." She sounded slightly better than when they had last spoken. "Um, I don't want to work in the library anymore."
He leaned back. "Why not?"
There was a pause. "Too crowded."
He grinned slightly but made sure it didn't sound in his voice. "I agree."
"Can we meet at the park tomorrow?"
He heard giggling again but he ignored it. "It started snowing yesterday."
She hung up.
They were walking through the park, a thin layer of snow crunching beneath their feet. They had no book bags. They had no notebooks. They only had coats and the first snows of the winter season.
"I'm sorry I got angry with you. It wasn't your fault."
"No need to apologize."
She walked with her head bowed. He walked looking at the sky. Neither of them understood why they were there. Neither of them wanted to leave.
"You know I don't love Dark anymore." They glanced at each other and then looked away. "And it's not just because he was sealed away. I realize now that it was only an infatuation."
Satoshi didn't know why she was telling him this but he felt relieved for some reason. "Are you getting cold?"
"Yeah, a little."
"I'll bring you home."
They came up to the Harada's front gate. Risa looked up at her house through the iron bars. Satoshi stopped behind her.
"Do you want me to walk you to your door?"
She dropped her gaze and glanced back at him so he wouldn't notice. He was staring up at her house, probably surprised by it. She watched his eyes behind their lenses. She found that she had loved looking at how blue they were when they were in the library.
She realized this and, strangely, she did not mind it.
"Walk around the block with me again," she said quietly, and started on past the gate. After a few moments he caught up with her.
"It's getting colder."
She abruptly stopped walking. He stopped next to her. She looked up at him. "Do you mind?" she asked.
He shook his head. And then he smiled. Really smiled. "No."
She had never seen him smile genuinely before. It made her heart beat faster. "Good."
They were at the gate again. Night had fallen, the streetlamps were shining, and they had walked around the block four times. All the while they had talked, calmly and quietly. There was one point when she asked about all his secrets, why he was always so quiet. And he had told her everything so easily, as if he had done it so many times before. She had gasped when he told her that Krad had always been hurting him and had kept a respected silence when he told her about his father. She had even said that she was amazed that he was Chief Commander of the police.
He had asked if she had any secrets and she had said no. She didn't keep many secrets and if she did, they were small things; insignificant. She had told him that there was one time when she had fainted at the top of a tower and when she woke up she was lying safely on a park bench, a jacket covering her to keep her warm and one of Krad's feathers lying beside her. He had told her that it was him who had caught her. She had given him a hug of appreciation. He didn't reject it.
They had even brought up the subject of the night when Risa had caught him in his female disguise at the museum. Surprisingly, he had laughed along with her at the memory.
But now they were back at her house and it was getting late. They would have to say good bye. He would have never thought that he liked Risa Harada's company so much.
"I better go in now," she said, facing him but looking at the ground. She was twisting her fingers together and her breath made little clouds in the frigid air. He stuffed his hands in the pocket of his coat, looking down at her bowed head.
"Do you want to meet again tomorrow? For the project?"
She nodded. "Yeah."
"Where do you want to meet?"
She shrugged. "In the library again, I guess."
He thought of the other girls that would be there and he cringed inwardly. But if Risa was okay with it then he'd go...for her.
He blinked. His name sounded strange, standing alone. "Yes?"
She looked up at him and he saw that she was blushing, but she spoke calmly and evenly. "Would you--do you mind if I did something really fast?" She seemed oddly confident. He just nodded and shrugged.
"Of course not. Go ahead."
She reached up and took hold of his glasses, slipping them off his face. He stood stock still as she took a step forward, rose onto her toes, closed her eyes, and kissed him.
Electricity shot through his entire body and his heart was pounding dangerously against his chest. After a few seconds she pulled away, opening her eyes and looking into his.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, although she hardly sounded sorry, "but I've wanted to do that for a long time."
He took a few moments to gather his words, having lost them completely. He drew in a shaking breath. "No need to apologize." And that was all he could say as he stared at her. She laughed, folding his glasses and slipping them into the breastpocket of his coat.
Her hands were snaking around his neck. "Can I ask you for a favor?"
He would have done anything she asked. "Yes."
"Say my name."
She leaned in again and, this time, he wrapped his arms around her waist, intending to make the electricity last longer.
Takeshi walked up to their table once again, this time with his bag slung over his shoulder and one eyebrow raised. Satoshi was reading again but, this time, Risa was standing behind him, leaning closely over his shoulder and pointing at something on the page, her other arm wrapped around him possessively.
"The library again, eh? This is unexpected." They looked up at him simultaneously. He grinned. "You two seemed to have gotten closer."
Risa straightened up. "Did you need something, Saehara-san?" she asked. She didn't sound annoyed but rather cheerful. Takeshi smiled.
"How's the project coming?"
He glanced at Satoshi who had gone back to reading. "As I've seen. So, ah, what's with the pose?" he asked jokingly, indicating their close proximity. Risa shrugged, jerking her head towards the bookshelves.
"He doesn't like it when the other girls bother him, so I figured if I just stayed close to him they'd leave him be."
Takeshi laughed. "Well, that seems a kind gesture. So you guys really are dating now?" He continued to laugh.
Risa grinned. "Maybe."
He stopped laughing.
Satoshi closed his book and pushed his glasses up his nose. "Pardon us, Saehara-san, but Risa and I should be going now." He stood up and began putting on his scarf and jacket.
Takeshi simply stood there, speechless.
Risa had her coat on. "Sorry Saehara-san, we really do need to get going." Behind her Satoshi picked up both their bags and looked up at his silent classmate. He nodded towards him.
"We'll see you tomorrow in school."
"Bye!" Risa followed Satoshi out of the library and into the winter afternoon outside. Takeshi watched them through the glass door, hardly comprehending what he had just witnessed. Outside they were walking side by side, pretty little Risa Harada bouncing about in the snow and cool, quiet Satoshi Hiwatari walking steadily, both bags slung over his shoulder.
Risa turned her head and smiled up at him.
He didn't do anything.
She pushed him.
He still didn't do anything.
She jumped up and kissed him on the cheek.
He turned to her and took her hand in his.
Takeshi turned around and walked away, highly and utterly confused.