A/N: Probably predictable and cliché, but oh so delightful. Rated T to be safe.
He was staring again and he knew it, but for the life of him he couldn't turn his gaze away. There was something about the way she walked, the way she talked, the way she existed, that was just absolutely adorable. The surrounding buildings, ancient brick and stone, were dull in comparison. The surrounding people, rushing to classes or standing around chatting, were even more boring.
As she wound up a conversation with one of those uninteresting classmates, Akiyama realized that he should probably let her know he was there. He wouldn't want her to think he was stalking her, spying on her, being a creeper. Even though that's pretty much exactly what he was, at the moment.
Of course, knowing Nao, she wouldn't think anything of the sort. She'd probably just be happy to see him and assume the purist intentions possible. Impossibly pure intentions, even.
"Nao!" he called as she turned away from the girl she'd been talking to, catching her attention before she disappeared into one of the buildings. She spun around to face him. Neither of them noticed her friend's expression of surprise.
"Akiyama-san!" she cried, and ran towards him, throwing her arms around him in an excited hug. Akiyama was slightly surprised that pulling away was only his second instinct. By the time he could register his surprise, however, his brain had already moved on to a third instinct, which was to ignore the second one and hug her back as his first instinct had ordered.
"Do you have time for lunch?" he finally managed to ask, after she let him go.
"Sure!" she said. "My next class isn't for a couple hours. Have you heard something about Round Four?" There she went assuming pure intentions, just as he'd expected.
"Not yet," he said in answer to her question. Then, "Where should we go?"
She led him to a cute little restaurant just off campus, taking his hand and pulling him along when she decided he wasn't walking quickly enough. He was slightly miffed that she had unwittingly stopped his surreptitious gawking at her, but her warm hand in his was enough to mollify him.
He hated to take advantage of her naïveté this way, relishing in the little things she did unconsciously, but he was reluctant to alert her to his apparent attraction and ignoring the attraction altogether had proved to be not an option.
"Ah, here we are!" she cried as they reached their destination. It was a bit of a hole-in-the-wall, clearly the popular lunch stop for many of her classmates but not very well kept up. The green flowered wallpaper was peeling near the ceiling, covered with a few splatters and stains. The tables were clean, but the floor was a bit of a disaster. Yet there was something about the place that was charming, and he could see why she liked it.
She saw him eyeing the floor. "You don't mind that it's a little on the... It's cheap, though, and it—"
"It looks great," he cut in.
It was the sort of place where you got your food at the cashier and then brought it back to your table. No more words passed between them until they were both in possession of a delicious looking meal and heading toward the back of the restaurant.
As they sat down, Nao broke the silence. "So what have you been doing with your free time?" she asked.
He shrugged. "Not much. I've been looking around for a job, sitting around, watching people in the park..." This wasn't the conversation he wanted to be having.
"And you haven't heard anything about the fourth round?" she said. He shook his head no. "Then... why did you come here?" she asked.
There was his opening. He came to tell her how he feels, to put an end to this constant tension he'd been feeling, to get everything off his chest. But she was just so innocent, so naïve... He didn't want to take that away from her. He doubted the girl had ever even been kissed before, and he'd be corrupting her left and right. She shouldn't even be friends with someone like him.
But then, she'd managed to survive in the cruel world this long without being corrupted, maybe being friends with him wouldn't hurt either.
On one hand, he hated to be the one to take away her innocence, but on the other hand, she was driving him crazy here! The way she was biting her lip, waiting for his answer with no idea what was going through his head. The way she pushed her food around with her chopsticks, not really paying attention to it. The way she had complete faith in everything he did. The way she was just so good.
"Akiyama-san?" she said hesitantly when he wasn't giving any signs of answering her question.
"I came because... I missed you." That was the truth. He couldn't lie to Nao, not anymore. You can't lie to someone who trusts you so fully and unconditionally. It made him feel like a monster to even consider it. But he was chickening out; he couldn't bring himself to tell her the full truth, either.
Unfortunately, she chose that moment to become slightly more perceptive. "That's not all..." she said. "Why else?" Her gaze was suddenly intense, or maybe he was just imagining it.
"I..." He couldn't do it. He couldn't tell her, it was just too much. She would change completely; she would cease to be the Nao he knew. But oh, he wanted to. She moistened her lips with her tongue as she waited once again for a response, and he broke. His will was only so strong. "I want you to be my girlfriend." He said it quietly, as if maybe if she couldn't hear his answer she would forget about the question. But she heard. Oh yes, she heard.
Her face exploded into a grin. "Akiyama-san!" she cried in surprise. "Do you mean that?"
He chuckled and nodded, amused that now was the time she chose to doubt his word and glad that she was pleased. He wanted nothing more than to please her constantly.
She jumped up from the table and rushed to his side, throwing her arms around him in their second hug that day. This time, none of his instincts told him to pull back. Instead, they told him to pull her closer, hold her tight, never let her go. They also told him to kiss her, but he resisted that instinct. It was too soon, he needed to take it slowly.
When she leaned down and pecked his cheek though, he couldn't resist any longer. He took one of his arms from around her waist and turned her head so she was facing him directly, then leaned towards her and claimed her mouth with his.
He was gentle at first, reserved. But to his surprise, she seemed to know what she was doing. She moved her lips against his with more confidence than someone kissing a boy for the first time. He tucked that away in the back of his brain and kept on kissing, encouraged by her enthusiasm.
They broke apart when one of the other customers whistled in appreciation. "Go Nao-san!" one of them cried out, and Nao instantly turned several shades pinker than her normal hue. She stood up, fidgeting with her hair, and hurried back to her side of the table. Akiyama frowned at the girl who had yelled.
"You want to eat this somewhere else?" he suggested.
She smiled. "Yeah, that'd be good," she said. "There's a park nearby... people are more spread out there."
They stood up and grabbed their lunch, leaving the crowds to gossip amongst themselves. Along the way, Nao cautiously balanced her food in one hand and slipped the other into one of Akiyama's. She smiled up at him when he glanced at her, and he grinned. It was the first real grin she'd seen from him.
He realized that the girl holding his hand was the same innocent girl he'd known before. Kissing her hadn't changed anything after all.
A/N: This sort of wrote itself as I was trying to write an uncooperative chapter two of my Young Wizards fic. As always, please tell me if you find any horrible spelling (or factual) mistakes. They're awfully embarrassing.