Asuta was in heaven.
He'd thought he'd never get over Hazumu. And, to some extent, that was true. He'd cried secretly in his bedroom for weeks after Tomari and Hazumu had announced their love for one another. But eventually he'd come to accept and even support their love. (Of course, it was hard not to, especially with Tomari daring him to disapprove.) He hadn't thought that he'd someday find someone for himself, though.
That had all changed. As soon as Miki Ishikawa transferred to Asuta's class, he found the thoughts of Hazumu driven from his mind, to be replaced by thoughts of her. Her long blonde hair, blowing in the breeze… Her in a bikini, laughing and sharing a smoothie with him… Her and him being together forever… And then, a few days after she'd joined the class, she came over to his desk.
"Hello, Asuta," she said breathily, leaning on his desk. He'd done his best to keep his eyes away from her plunging neckline, but she wasn't making it any easier by leaning in and playing with his hair with a well-manicured finger. "Do you want to hang out sometime?"
Asuta had been completely taken aback. No one ever wanted to hang out with him! But he managed to hide his discomfort and immediately took her up on her offer. And here they were, one week later, and Miki was asking him to be hers, once and for all. Things could not be better.
"Oh, Asuta," Miki sighed, kicking her legs contentedly. "You're just so funny!"
"You're so sweet, Miki," Asuta replied, and she giggled and blushed. They were sitting on the edge of Asuta's bed; Asuta was still amazed that his parents had allowed it. They'd actually seemed insultingly surprised that he was hanging out with a girl at all, and probably doubted that Asuta would be making any advances with Miki.
Asuta blushed. He really wouldn't be. They hadn't kissed yet, and he wasn't ready at all to be making any advances. Miki seemed happy enough, anyway. She was smiling at him now, blonde hair brushed to the side and making her look even more stunningly beautiful than usual. "Asuta," she murmured, and leaned in suddenly, resting against his side. His nostrils filled with the scent of her perfume, and his eyes began to sting. "I think… I'm falling in love with you."
Me too! Asuta wanted to say, but the perfume was overpowering him. I think I'm going to sneeze. No, no, NO! "ACHOO!"
Miki looked up in surprise. "You just sneezed into my hair, Asuta," she said.
"I- erm, sorry?"
She laughed. "That's okay. Now, where were we? Weren't you about to admit that you loved me too?"
Asuta blushed. "I do love you," he said. "Really." Miki laughed and clapped her hands.
"I knew it!" She said. "You and I were destined for each other, Asuta." She grabbed him by the collar and drew him in close, rubbing noses. "You're so cute!"
"Thanks, Miki- I…" Oh, crap! Another sneeze! "ACHOO!"
Miki grimaced and pulled away. "You sneezed right in my face this time," she said unhappily.
"I'm sorry!" Asuta gushed. Please don't break up with me…
Miki laughed again. "It's okay! Just don't do it again…"
Miki sighed and rubbed her mouth. "Are you sick or something?"
"It's the perfume," Asuta explained. "I think I'm allergic to it."
Miki made a face. "Why didn't you just tell me that, silly?" She asked. "Now I'm going to have to go take a bath and everything." She winked. "Wanna come?"
Asuta's jaw dropped. "Wha- you and me- bath- together?"
Miki shrugged. "If you're uncomfortable about it…"
"No, it's a great idea! Really!"
"Oh wait!" Miki said. "I don't think your parents would approve. Another time, maybe?" She headed towards the door, and paused to smile back at him. "Why don't you get more comfortable?" She asked. "You look all stiff in all those clothes." She exited the room without a backwards glance.
Asuta gaped after her. "I… am the luckiest man in the world!" He hooted, punching the air with his fist. "I need better clothes…"
For the next fifteen minutes, Asuta changed into something Miki might find more suitable. Namely, a t-shirt and jeans. He looked cool and cute, he hoped, although Miki would probably like him in whatever he was wearing. Clearly, she was deeply in love with him, and why shouldn't she be? He was obviously a prime example of manhood.
Fifteen minutes later, a knock on his door signaled Miki's return. She poked her head in through the door and smiled at him. "My bath was just great! It's a shame you couldn't come…" Asuta nodded furtively.
Miki slipped into the room, a towel the only thing wrapped around her. Asuta practically fainted right then. "What?" Miki asked, hurrying to his side. "Do you not like my outfit?"
"I… Love… It," he groaned.
She smiled contentedly. "I thought you would," she said, helping him back onto the edge of the bed. "So… now what do you want to do?"
"What do you mean?" Asuta asked nervously. He had to admit, she looked incredibly attractive with nothing but a towel and some water hiding her from him. Of course, the fact that someone like her was interested in him was a little bit daunting, especially when she said stuff like that. He was understandably nervous.
"Well, we could play a game or something," Miki said, clearly disappointed. "Or… you could kiss me!"
Asuta's eyes nearly bugged out of their sockets. "Kiss… you?" He asked.
"Of course!" She said, patting her lips. "Right here!" She puckered them up; still looking amazingly attractive, and leaned in, pressing her lips hard against Asuta's and grabbing his collar. She pulled him down until he was on top of her; her tongue exploring his mouth. Finally, she pulled away, huge blue eyes misty and sparkling. "That was fun!" She said. "Now… take off my towel!"
Asuta thought his head was about to pop off. "WHAAA?"
Miki smiled coyly. "You heard me."
Asuta took a deep breath. "Well… just this once," he said, reaching for the towel.
"I think we've seen enough," a familiar voice said, and Miki disappeared.
Asuta smacked into the bed and sat up wildly. "Miki? Where'd you go? And- AYUKI? HITOSHI? WHY ARE YOU GUYS PEEPING THROUGH MY WINDOW?"
"We were monitoring your reactions," Ayuki said, hopping in through Asuta's window and sitting beside him on the bed, Hitoshi doing the same. "And may I say that you make a particularly bumbling lover."
"Where's Miki?" Asuta asked, still confused.
"Miki never existed," Hitoshi explained. "We created her as a sort of holographic image that you could feel and experience as well, to see how you would react if a girl actually expressed interest in you. It was really quite fascinating!"
The color drained from Asuta's face. "You mean… Miki was never really into me? She didn't even exist?"
"Sorry, Asuta," Ayuki said, patting him on the shoulder. "But think on the bright side. If Miki had been real, she would have dumped you about five minutes into this awkward little date. I'm sorry, but girls really don't like it when guys sneeze in their hair."
"Really?" Hitoshi asked. "We should talk about this."
"I'll explain it back at the lab," Ayuki promised. She patted Asuta's hand comfortingly. "I'll see you at school, Asuta. And thank you for being such a great test subject!" She and Hitoshi waved and hopped out the window again.
Asuta stared. "It's official," he moaned, collapsing. "I'm never, ever going to get a girlfriend."
And began to cry again, for five hours straight.