IV. Say When

And everyone is rising to meet you, to greet you
Turn around and you're walking toward me
I'm breaking down and you're breathing slowly
Say the word and I will be your man, your man

MITSURU NEVER SEEMS to be able to forget the way things used to be and although she wants nothing more than to be able to forget the past, she can't seem to embrace the future. Things between Akihiko and herself have never been the same as they were in the beginning of high school and she knows they'll never quite be that way.

When he first moved into the dorm she was indifferent towards him. He was just a boy; she was just a girl. There was no spark or Zha Zha Zu, but it did feel a bit strange to be living with a boy the same age as her. Surprisingly it's not as awful as she would have thought since he's meticulous around the house and keeps to himself, but nonetheless she enjoys eating dinner together with him.

It only takes him a few weeks to feel comfortable enough to call her by her first name. She assumes it started the night he caught her sneaking a midnight snack in the kitchen, but after the rendezvous she has a hard time just looking into his eyes. It isn't until he catches a cold when she realizes that the ever so perfect and mature Akihiko Sanada may just be as human as she is.

She can't exactly pinpoint when her feelings of friendship turned into something more, but she assumes it was around first year midterms.


Mitsuru looks away from the midterm chart she's reading and finds herself greeted by his smiling face.

"Morning Akihiko." She says simply as he quickly takes her side and inspects the chart with her. The noise he emits lets her know he saw his result.

"First again," he says with a light tone, "Don't you ever get tired of studying?"

"Don't you ever get tired of coming in second?" she replies casually. This emits a sharp laugh from Akihiko and a light tap on her arm. The smile on her face is all too smug, but he's used to it really. Without missing a beat she turns and starts walking down the hall.

He notices how everyone watches them walk down the hall together. Although it's been going on before they became friends it still feels strange. He acts indifferent, but he dislikes how everyone judges him. "I take it you're ready for today's test?"

"Of course," she hums, "aren't you?"

"No...I didn't get the chance to last night. I had a match with Yasogami High."

She's heard the excuse at least a hundred times. Still, she can't help but sigh. "You can't keep using that as an excuse."

"It's not an excuse," he with his hands raised. "It's the truth."

Before he can conjure up another sentence, he notices her reaching into her bag to pull out a notebook. "Study this."

"Really? I don't want to make it seem like I'm relying on you all the time."

She secretly wants to admit that somewhere along the line she started relying on him. "Just take it before I change my mind."

As her notebook slips though her fingers she wonders if someday he'll notice she was in the crowd watching.

The door to the monorail opens and he steps lively into the jammed coffin. He's never been fond of crowded spaces and it wasn't until the age of fourteen when he decides its claustrophobia. Although the monorail makes various stops it feels like more people came on than got off. Before he knows it, he sees fiery red hair he's accustomed to and he finds himself inching closer towards her.

Mitsuru's back is turned towards him and he can smell her perfume lingering in the air. What is it called? He reaches into the back of his brain to pick out that piece of (in)significant information. It started with the letter N. Neige? Something French like that.

"Why are you mad?" He notices the way she twitches but when she doesn't say anything he doesn't know what to do. "Please tell me."

The word please tugs at her heart strings and she wants to ask why did you kiss me, but when she opens her mouth no words come out. Instead she opts out and asks, "Why did you do that?"

"I…" Akihiko bites his bottom lip and even though she's so close she feels so far away. He knew the question was inevitable, but he still didn't have an answer. Why did he kiss her?

"Why did you say sorry?" She asks, still refusing to turn to him.

His eyes wander downwards and as he counts the curls in her hair he wonders how it turned to this. "I didn't know what to say."

She doesn't want to say anything, but the feeling of his presence doesn't go away. It's like they're in different places and she doesn't know how to reach him. The monorail sways as it makes various stops, but she manages to stay strong. She's careful his body doesn't touch hers, because she doesn't want to touch him let alone speak to him.

The large window acts like a mirror and her eyes casually drift from his steady gaze down to his collarbones. Akihiko was never one for being patient—if anything it was the other way around so she waits for him to leave. Five more stops pass by and when Gekkoukan High is called out, she's impressed he's still around.

Once the door slides open she takes the first step off and even though she can't see him anymore, she knows he's there behind her.