Walk You Home

AN: These two are so adorable!

Anri shuffled her feet, and watched as the slight movement upset a nearby rain puddle. It was nearing midnight. After school there had been a meeting for the class representatives, and after that, some of her children had approached her and it had been hard to avoid them. They were her children after all, and whenever they wanted to talk to their mother, she obliged them. Still, she wasn't quite sure how she came to be out this late, much less still in her uniform.

Walking around this late might be dangerous, especially in a city with so much crime, but she felt confident that she could defend herself if she needed to. Besides, the allure of walking late at night, freezing cold and dwelling on her thoughts, was too much to resist. The city of Ikebukuro was lit up with neon, and every so often you'd hear a car screech, or an argument break out. It was a city full to bursting with activity, and a girl like her could get lost in a city this big. The thought was intriguing.

It had been a very long day. She was failing art, and although it was only an elective, she hated that it would bring down her GPA. There was a project due tomorrow, and she simply didn't want to do it. The class had seemed like it was going to be fun, but it was different than she had imagined. The teacher had managed to turn what was supposed to be a creative subject into a nonstop study on technique, and she kind of resented him for it. And then there was Mika.

Mika had been a stalker, and she had used Anri to make herself look better. Even so, she did have some fond memories of her, and it was strange to have grown apart from someone she had used to spend every moment with. She was always hanging off of Seiji's arm, and honestly, Anri was a little hurt. Jealous even. What would it take for someone to pay her the level of attention that Seiji paid Mika?

This was part of the reason Anri was out this time of night. She had far too much weighing on her mind to even consider sleep.

"Hello! I didn't realize you were there!"

"Mikado? Why are you up so late?" The boy caught up to her. At least he was out of his school clothes.

"I was with Masaomi. He always says that scary movies are best watched at night. Um… we would have invited you, but we couldn't find you."

"That alright. I don't mind." She really didn't. She knew he wasn't just saying they would have included her. They really would have.

"You're still in your uniform! Haven't you gone home yet?"

"No. I'm walking home now." She kept walking, shuffling her feet in the rain puddles, and glancing at him in the corner of her eye. She hated making direct eye contact. Always had.

"Is everything okay?"

"Huh? Why?" Anri looked at him, and he looked back.

"School got out ages ago, and you're just going home now. Did those girls bother you again? Did that teacher bother you?"

"No! Of course not!" They had gone about a block, and she realized with a flash that he lived the other way.

"Mikado, you should be getting home too!"

"I'll walk you home first." Mikado replied easily. Guilt surged up in her chest. He planned on walking her home and then going the opposite way to get home himself. That seemed like a really long walk.

"You don't have to do that! I'm fine."

"No, it's alright."

"No, it's fine! I can make it home!" She knew she was being stubborn, but she didn't want to cause him trouble.

"I know you can make it home." He murmured, but he kept walking in the same direction.

After a pause, he frowned.

"You really shouldn't walk home by yourself, and when you do, it should never be this late."

"You're walking home by yourself Mikado. Why can't I?" She murmured, a little challengingly.

"I'm, um…. Well… I'm not a girl!" He burst out.

"I can protect myself!"

He stopped in his tracks at this remark and to her surprise, the ever calm Mikado looked angry.

"You shouldn't have to worry about that! You get bullied by those girls, and that creepy teacher keeps harassing you, and this is a rough city! You can't just walk home late at night in a short skirt saying that you can protect yourself! What if something happens to you? Now if you don't mind, it'd make me really happy if I could please just walk you home!"

Silence. Anri blinked heavily in surprise and Mikado looked like he regretted losing his cool. He looked like he had surprised himself with his own outburst.

"Okay, let's go home," Anri said at last. If he was really that worried, he could waste his time walking both ways. Still, as he stammered out awkward apologies, she thought to herself. She had been yelled at before, by her father when he used to come home drunk, by kids at school who thought she was a parasite, but never had anyone lost their temper because they were concerned for her safety. Mikado was a very nice person, so he must have been pretty worried to scold her like that.

Somehow, having someone to fuss over whether or not she made it home safe, made her really happy.