Hige's walking out the door after that stupid little cosplay thing between him and Nakamura is finished, and something compels her to yell, to keep him here, with her.
He stops, cocking his head to the side, face twitching in irritation. "What was that?" he questions, a menacing tone of annoyance in his voice that has scared innumerable street punks looking to make a name for themselves.
For a moment, Eri curses herself for damaging the good feeling that had filled the air, but she has to press on.
"I told you to stay here! We still need to finish!"
He pauses, glancing at her now without irritation, but instead with a questioning, piercing gaze that causes her heart to skip a beat.
"You want me to stay?"
The question is so loaded that it's a wonder she didn't have a heart attack then and there.
She swallows. Once, twice, blinking as well, unable to bring herself to look at his face as she answers.
They meet outside the hotel on the last night of the Kyoto trip by chance alone, or maybe by Fortune's smiling grace. He looks away, and she wants to do the same, but something inside compels her not to- to say something, anything that might reveal even a little bit of the turbulent emotions roiling inside of her right now.
"The charm! I saw it."
Blinking, Hige looks up at her with surprise, which immediately gives way to apprehension and fear. "Ah... ah.. I... I..." the red stain of the blush on his cheeks looks good on him, Eri admits.
"Did you mean it?" despite all her confidence and appearances, she seems to shrink a little as the question leaves her lips, mouth becoming dry, gaze filled with something fragile.
Hige is silent for a moment, an Eternity.
The smile that Eri gives him in that moment even makes Harima's tunnel vision for Tenma break to see the absolutely beautiful person standing before him, waiting for him.
Tenma has gone on ahead, and even had the gall to wink and say "Have fun taking care of Harima-kun!"
Really, that Hige- what the Hell was he doing, posing as a worker for the Suou's anyway? Jeez, Mikoto was too soft hearted if she was willing to take in that uncouth moron.
Oh God, if he was Worker-san, that meant she had been relying on him this entire time, believing in him, even spending last night sharing a towel with him, sleeping side by side with him...
Irritated, Eri glanced down at Hige's unconscious form, but there wasn't a whole lot you could do to muster irritation with an unconscious body, especially one that, despite everything, had given you the courage to take control of your life.
Despite everything, he had stood by her through all of this.
Glancing around quickly, to assure herself no one was looking, she knelt, pressing a quick kiss against his forehead, blushing furiously all the while.
Harima has no freakin' clue how he ended up sharing a bath with Ojou of all people. Why, oh why does God seem to hate him so much? At least Mikoto-san is here now, and seems to be taking the situation well enough, even helping him keep his cover...
"So, when are you going to confess to Harima-kun?"
Or maybe Mikoto-san is really a cold hearted harpy who wants nothing more than to cause him intense suffering.
And what's that about confessing? Ojou confessing to him, of all people? The thought is ridiculous. That would be like up becoming down, Karasuma yelling, Nishimoto signing a legislation to ban illicit sexual material, Imouto-san suddenly becoming homicidal- in short, completely, and utterly unthinka-
"... do you think he'd accept it?"
Harima's last conscious thought before fainting into the bath is that he'd better not invite the likely homicidal Imouto-san over to work on manga anytime soon.
It's the survival game, and somehow, after so many have gone down, after tearing apart the entire school grounds, it's her and Hige together, facing down Mikoto and Hanai. Bullets surge across the air, swarms like angry bees singing through the air. Mikoto and Hanai are quick and they know each other's movements as good as their own, but somehow Hige is keeping up with her, like an instinctive dance; she ducks left, he steps in to fill the gap with a barrage- he darts right, she darts left.
It's breathtaking, exhilarating, and it makes her feel alive.
But it has to end.
Mikoto ducks low, and Hanai leaps over her, peppering the air with fire. Hige answers back, and she slides underneath Hanai, managing to score a lucky shot on his chest.
But in desperation, she's forgotten Mikoto, who stands over her- there's no mercy there, not now, not after shooting down Hanai.
A second later, Mikoto has dropped as well, hammered back by a full, almost berserk round of fire from Hige- no, Harima-kun.
She wishes she had the courage to say it out loud.
He looms over her, those sunglasses on even in the dead of night, and she wonders if there's concern behind those shades.
Eri reaches up, and strokes his face with a gentleness that surprises them both, and a smile blindingly beautiful.
"It's Eri, Harima-kun."
Maybe she has the courage after all.