Nuances of Laundry
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Ayano sighed as she shifted the bag filled with laundry that she had swung over her shoulder.
She hated laundry days. She had to carry around a heavy bag filled with her unmentionables through town, then she was likely going to be forced to wait in line, then she had to sort out which clothes should go in which wash so as to avoid the horrible fate of her once-upon-a-time-white shirt, then she had to wait around for it to be finished, before she was allowed to carry around a heavy bag filled with her clean unmentionables across town.
Ayano figured that whoever had come up with the idea that every apartment shouldn't need to have a working washing machine had probably been evil. She was fairly sure that the fact that someone had profited of his evilness through the use of laundromats was just general capitalism, though.
Swinging the door open, it didn't take her long to find what looked to be the shortest line to wait in.
Then something caught her eye. Something that she really hadn't been expecting to see here, as it was very hard to see that particular girl do anything more laborious than replacing a light bulb.
Still, her disbelief didn't make the image go away. Miyuki Takara stood in front of her, arms-deep in dirty laundry, and a concentrated look on her face.
There was an awkward pause in Ayano's thought process as she tried to decide whether or not to say hello to her sort-of friend. She didn't really know her well enough to call her a friend, being more of an acquaintance through Kagami than anything else, but at the same time she wasn't sure if she should just ignore her. That just felt rude.
But then, would Ayano want people to recognize her when she was arms-deep in her own dirty unmentionables? That sounded an awful lot like it would end badly, or at least be horribly embarrassing for all participants.
Feeling torn, Ayano found her choice taken away from her as the girl looked up, and their eyes met.
Miyuki clearly recognized her, even out of uniform. So, Ayano smiled tiredly, shifting the bag on her shoulder whilst raising her other hand in greeting to her fellow student.
It was just as awkward as she'd feared, with Miyuki's face exploding into an embarrassed red, before she quickly returned her attention to her laundry.
Sighing a bit, Ayano found one of the washing machine free and moved to claim it before someone else did. She'd be stuck here for quite some time anyways, so she might as well talk to the other girl. It would be a way to pass the time if nothing else, something that she was sure would be at least somewhat appreciated.
Ayano and Miyuki didn't have a lot in common. They had a mutual friend and a bit of experience with dealing with someone loud and cheerful. But even there they separated from each other. Miyuki was more of an observer of Kagami and Konata's friendship, whilst Ayano was often the main force keeping Misao from doing something stupid.
Their hobbies also differed, with the refined girl reading, whilst Ayano cooked. And even if their experiences overlapped just enough for their talk not to be too filled with awkward silences, Ayano couldn't help but wonder how Miyuki had come to fit into the strange dynamics of the four girls that could so often be seen in her classroom.
She'd heard how Konata had helped out Kagami's little sister through a strange but funny misunderstanding, and so it wasn't surprising to involve both of the twins in a friendship with Konata. But where in the world had Miyuki come from?
Then again, Ayano only really knew Misao because the eight year old girl had rushed through their garden screaming about evil wasps at the top of her lungs. That the young child that had been Ayano had followed her example without hesitation was perhaps not one of her brightest moments, but it'd ended well, and she'd never really managed to get rid of her cheerful friend since. Not that she'd tried very hard, mind you.
Friendships could spring from a seat being open at lunch, and even if there wasn't a very extraordinary beginning they could stick for life. How you originally met each other mattered little in the grand scheme of things.
Even if the more amazing beginnings were usually fairly amusing ice-breakers.
Still, Miyuki and Ayano had just about enough material to talk about, and different enough views to create a few brief discussions about all manner of things.
It wasn't bad, and their sudden meeting over each other's dirty laundry could easily have caused much less appreciated conversations. So, when Ayano finally learned that the reason for Miyuki being at the laundromat was that their own washing machine had apparently decided to light itself on fire after something her mother had done, it didn't take either of them long to agree to meet up again when their laundry needed cleaning once more.
They'd been on their way home after another one of their run-ins at the laundromat when misfortune struck, sending both girls careening to the surprisingly slippery ground.
Knowing better than to attempt to curse the world, Ayano merely giggled helplessly and took some time to properly enjoy that she wasn't alone in her recently found misery.
Then she crawled up back to her feet and held out a hand for Miyuki.
A dirty hand took hold of her own and she pulled the ditzy girl to her feet, not really trying to suppress the self-depreciating grin on her face.
"At least we'll have clean clothes to go home with." She pointed out optimistically.
Miyuki's nose twitched. "We'd need a bath first."
Waving off her concerns, Ayano indicated a building around the corner. "That's a bath house. We're covered."
In hindsight, it'd probably been one of the best falls in Ayano's life. There was just enough mud covering the ground to soften the impact, but not enough to get through and dirty their bags of clean laundry, they were carrying a change of clothing with them, and they were right next to a bath house where they could clean up.
It was almost enough to make her wonder about fate.
Ayano sighed as Misao started in on a rant about how Kagami had been stolen by the evil midget.
"Misa-chan." She interrupted her. "Just tell her." She suggested with a slightly sad expression.
Flinching in a very obvious way, Misao tried to pretend that she didn't have a clue what she was talking about.
"She won't know, Misa-chan. She's kind of dense." Ayano continued.
The athletic girl opened her mouth to continue denying having any need to tell anyone anything, but Ayano just shook her head.
"You don't have a lot left to lose. And if you don't tell her soon, she'll be stolen away, won't she?"
Misao's mouth popped open again, but this time it seemed to have more to do with forgetting that it should be closed than anything she wanted to say.
"Right!" Misao suddenly shot to her feet. "I'm going!" And with that she took off at a sprint.
Ayano blinked, not really believing that she'd just managed to talk the single most romantically inept girl she'd ever met into confessing her love to another. Then she started to laugh.
Getting to her feet, Ayano wandered off after her. She supposed that she might need help with distracting the 'evil midget', and wasn't that what friends were for?
Konata stared at her with an oddly amused expression on her face as the taller girl intercepted whatever action the smaller girl was attempting. "You actually manged to convince her to do something? Whoa, impressive."
Ayano felt her cheeks redden slightly, but shrugged it off. "I'm pretty sure that I only managed because she's jealous of you." She pointed out. "Speaking of, are you sure that you don't want to try and stop this?"
"Nah." Konata waved it away, grinning smugly. "If she says 'yes' I'll finally be able to act on my flag."
"Act on your flag?" Ayano tilted her head curiously, not having enough experience with the otaku to understand what she was talking about.
"Of course! I triggered one at the school start, but it got interrupted. This way there won't be an interruption next time!" Konata declared passionately.
Ayano wondered briefly if all girls with athletic ability were insane. It might certainly explain a few things.
Still, Konata had declared that Misao confessing her love to their tsundere of a classmate was something that she supported fully, and that couldn't really be bad, could it?
Ayano stared at her old friend in a mixture of shock and awe.
Misao had appeared almost an hour after disappearing after Kagami, now she returned holding her hand, a dazed expression on her face and a goofy smile stuck to her lips.
Turning her eyes towards Kagami, she found her eyes narrowing in thought.
"You planned this, didn't you, Hiiragi-chan?" She raised an eyebrow at the victoriously smug girl.
"I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about Minegishi-san." Her smug expression not changing in her denial.
Ayano shook her head. "Oh well, it turned out fine so I won't argue, congratulations Misa-chan. And do take care of her, Hiiragi-chan."
"Umm..." Misao finally opened her mouth, having apparently spotted something strange enough to drag her out of her gleeful bliss out of the corner of her eye. "Is that the midget making out with your little sister?"
"What?" Kagami's head snapped around, and then her jaw dropped open, because it was Tsukasa and Konata making out.
They also looked like they were very determined to set a new record for the record of longest time going without breathing. Considering their enthusiasm, they might actually stand a chance against whatever the old record might be.
Kagami looked like she wanted to say something about this new development, but Ayano's sudden understanding interrupted her.
"Ah! She saved her from a foreigner when they first met, that's what she meant with 'finally acting on the flag'!" She nodded to herself, accepting the reasoning. "No wonder she tried to make Misa-chan jealous enough to act on it."
Misao turned to stare at her in a sort of betrayed horror, but Ayano waved her off. "I didn't know until she told me when you made your move."
Kagami on the other hand seemed not to have gotten past her need to gape like a fish.
Miyuki blinked as she listened to Ayano tell her just what had been going on when she'd been home with a fever.
"Kagami-san and Kusakabe-san?" She finally asked in surprise.
"Yup." Ayano nodded.
"I see." Miyuki took a moment to stop reeling from the shock. "And then Tsukasa-chan and Konata-san?"
"Yup." She suppressed the urge to giggle at just how many layers of plans had been involved in those two couples forming.
Miyuki glanced at her, proving that even with her giggle suppressed, the amusement had still been noted.
"And Konata-san had planned it all along?" She finally asked in a somewhat awe-struck voice.
"It seems like it." Ayano shrugged. "But exactly how she figured it all out, I'll never know."
After that time at the bath house it had become a bit of a routine for Ayano and Miyuki to talk after school, and so it wasn't surprising for the girl to visit her bedside after such a dramatic revelation had been missed.
Besides, Misao was going to be properly introduced at the Hiiragi household with her new title – they might be a bit traditional, but they had apparently given their approval – and Konata had stolen away Tsukasa to introduce her to the Izumi household, which didn't really leave anyone else to explain these new developments properly to the feverish girl.
Miyuki looked thoughtful for a moment, before she nodded to herself. "I suppose she must be a lot better at reading people than we had all originally assumed." She mused.
Ayano smiled as she nodded. "Yeah, she must truly be amazing at it in order to pull that off."
Miyuki returned the smile, before glancing at the door to her room.
"You know..." She began hesitantly. "There was something Konata-san said to me previously..." She frowned momentarily in thought.
"Really? What?" Ayano leaned forward curiously from where she was sitting on the bed's edge.
"I believe her exact words were 'bath houses are definite flags'."
Ayano blinked, momentarily confused, before she inhaled sharply, her eyes widening in shock.
She liked being around Miyuki, having never really had a chance for much intelligent conversations in her life – she'd grown up with Misao – and she liked spending time with the lady-like girl, but flags? Wasn't that how Konata classified romance? And this girl who'd just been proven to be a master at reading others had just mentioned something about flags that seemed oddly reflective of Miyuki and Ayano's developing friendship?
She wasn't in love with Miyuki!
Ayano stared at the bedridden girl, taking in her warm eyes, her cute nose, her soft-looking lips, her beautiful face, and slowly coming to the conclusion that she might be attracted to her.
Not in love, certainly not, but there was a definite attraction there.
Then again, who could honestly say to not being attracted to Miyuki? She was gorgeous! Anyone would agree to that.
Sighing heavily at the inconclusive conclusion, Ayano pulled her fingers through her hair, accidentally snagging away the ribbon keeping hair out of her face.
Her sigh turned into a grunt of absent annoyance as her view was suddenly obstructed by hair.
There was a reason for wearing that ribbon, her mother had once more or less forbidden her from getting a haircut – it was Misao and scissor related and she didn't blame her mother for a second – and the ribbon had been her response to the annoying way that it just got everywhere.
Grumbling lightly to herself as she began to pull her hair back in its usual shape, she found that her hand seemed to be unable to move.
Glancing down at the only partially obscured hand, Ayano noted a very feminine and warm hand had closed around her wrist.
"Ayano." Miyuki's voice was soft, smooth like silk.
Ayano felt something clench almost painfully in her chest, and she was fairly sure that her heart had just skipped a few more beats than it should be allowed to.
"I think..." She wetted her suddenly dried lips. "I think, she might've been right..."
Ayano wasn't entirely sure what they were talking about anymore, having gotten distracted by a beautiful finger trailing along her jaw in a way that forced her to focus desperately on breathing in a reasonably steady rhythm.
Fortunately, Miyuki didn't wait for her intelligent response, and simply pulled the suddenly shivering girl closer.
Ayano wasn't entirely sure what happened, her mind lost in the sudden realization that since she now couldn't breathe at all anyways, then she might as well enjoy herself. So she responded to the kiss.
It wasn't so much that time slowed or sped away unchecked, but rather that they kind of forgot at what time they'd started, and which day of the week it was, and possibly what year, and there was a distinctive lack of paying attention to the clock when she was right there to pay attention to instead.
All in all, when they parted for the last time, Ayano wondered if Konata wasn't actually a goddess of either prophecy or love, and if she should be treated with some degree of reverence in the future.
She knew with certainty though, that Miyuki was her goddess, and that that was infinitely better.
A/n: I'm not entirely sure where this pairing came from, but it seemed interesting at the time, so I went with it. Hopefully it was entertaining.