You were lying on your bed, reading your Biology report. Well, you weren't really reading it. You were doing that thing where your eyes skipped across the words and you could see them, but they just registered as a blur, without any real meaning.
It was a lazy Sunday morning. You had nothing to do, and so you had decided to go over your report one last time before submitting it tomorrow. It had to be perfect. You needed all the points you could get in Biology.
A soft knock came on the door. Setting your report down, you got up and leaped from the top bunk, landing not-so-gracefully on the ground. One of these days, you told yourself, you were going to injure your foot badly from jumping down. You opened the door.
Nanba stood there, leaning against the doorway. He gave you a slow smile. "Hello, darling. How are you this fine morning?"
"I'm fine, thanks for asking." You crossed your hands over the front of your baggy shirt. "Have you ever considered that Izumi could possibly be inside, listening to us as we speak?"
"Well, he isn't, is he?" Nanba stuck his head inside your room and scanned it quickly.
"No, he's not." Izumi was at an old friend's today. He'd warned you about coming back late in the evening. Said that he and the friend had a lot to catch up about. "Luckily."
"Great." That mischievous sparkle came to life in his eyes. "Since the man of the hour isn't around, would you care to join me on a date?"
You gave him a look. "What?"
But Nanba wasn't fazed by your hesitance. If anything, he seemed more encouraged, more determined to make you say yes. "Oh, come on, (Name). You and I haven't gone out on a date in ages. And besides, what harm can a little fun do to a guy?" He then smiled, raising an eyebrow. "Well, technically speaking, you aren't really a guy, if you know what I mean…"
"Minami…this is ridiculous. I can't go on a date with you. It'll blow my cover. Regardless of whether or not Izumi is around."
Nanba narrowed his eyes at you, giving you a sexy look. "If you go on a date with me, I'll do whatever you want."
He said the promise in a whispered groan, and the statement brought up many ideas. It was all you could do to keep from kissing him. Instead, you let out a sigh. "All right, Minami. I'll go on a date with you. But this will be the only exception."
"Tell me, sweetheart. Was it my promise that made you agree? Do you really want me that badly?" he teased.
A blush spread over your cheeks. You ignored him, stepping back to allow him into your room. He closed the door behind him. "You came to me with this idea, so I'm assuming that you have a plan for making us not look gay. Two guys on a date isn't exactly what I'd call everyday normal."
"I'm always thinking ahead, (Name). You should know that by now." But he nodded, perching on the edge of Izumi's unmade bed. "You'll wear a hat."
"A hat?" You snorted. "Like that will do anything for me."
"You'd be surprised." Nanba pointed at your outfit. "However, first things first. You need to get dolled up."
He seemed to be enjoying this. You leaned against the door. "I don't know if you've noticed, Minami, but I didn't bring any girl's clothing with me from America. You know, because I'm posing as a boy?"
"I happen to know that you recently got a dress."
Had word of the "prank" gotten around? If so, that wasn't good, and it would be entirely the fault of Sekime, Noe, and Nakatsu. "How'd you…?"
"Jun told me." And that was that.
Of course. Jun and Nanba were pretty good friends—both were smart, both were popular, and both were playboys. Back at home, Jun handled the women well, but here in Japan, Nanba ruled. You rolled your eyes and then went over to your closet, pulling out the folded dress from its' hiding spot at the bottom of your suitcase. You glanced over your shoulder. "Minami, would you mind?"
"Aw, (Name), spoiling my fun." He flopped back onto the mattress and slapped a hand over his eyes.
You looked at him for a moment, and once you were sure that he wasn't peeking, you stepped out of your shorts and pulled off your shirt. Next came the vest. You tugged it off, relief washing over you as your breasts bounced free—but you became quickly horrified when your vest got stuck and wouldn't come off from your head.
With a sharp yank, the vest came off and you threw it onto the ground. "Never mind." It would have been embarrassing to ask him for help, anyway. You might've known him for a long time, but never once had he seen your breasts. Although he had come close that one time…
Shaking the thoughts from your head, you slipped into the white sundress. It fit you like a second skin, hugging your waist and holding your chest nicely. For the first time in a month or so, you felt like a woman again. That silly feeling came over you, the nervous one that flitted around your stomach. It always came whenever you got ready to go somewhere wearing a pretty outfit. And with a pretty boy as your partner, it only intensified the feeling.
"You look really cute," Nanba said softly. He was standing behind you. You didn't know when he'd gotten off the bed or when he'd glided over to you. You hadn't even heard his footsteps. He held the straps on your one shoulder. "Let me tie it," he offered, knotting it effortlessly into a bow, then working the other shoulder. Closing your eyes, you could feel his fingers gently brushing against your bare skin. The sensation brought goosebumps to your bare arms.
"There." He held your shoulders and turned you around, so that you faced him. There was a sweet smile on his face, and you were struck by the fact of how he looked so much like a little boy receiving a wonderful gift. His smile was so pure and good-natured.
You knew that you didn't look like you once did, with your hair all short like a boy's. And your chest was next to nothing when compared to all the other women Nanba had dated. But just being with him then, wearing the sundress, made you feel beautiful, in a way you only felt when you were with him. "Thank you…"
"And we can't forget the finishing touch." He whisked out a hat from somewhere and presented it to you. It was white and big and floppy, with plastic flowers on the top, and it matched your dress. Smiling, he placed it on your head, and then adjusted it so it wasn't covering your face.
"Are we ready to go, then? It's a good thing the weather is so nice and warm today." Nanba held out his right arm to you.
You slipped your arm into it, tucking your hand in the crook of his elbow. "That would be lovely." You took your arm from his for a moment to whip out a pair of chunky wedge heels and strapped them to your feet. Then you took his arm again. "Okay. Ready."
By the time the sun had started to set, you were glad that you'd gone on this date with Nanba. He was right—it was exactly what you needed. You hadn't laughed like this in ages.
It had been a wonderful date. He'd taken you to see a movie, then the two of you grabbed lunch. Afterwards, he took you shopping. Then the park came next, and you spent a load of time there, talking, laughing, just relaxing.
Right now, you were strolling through the main streets. His hand was clasped in yours', the fingers intertwined together. You glanced down at the joined hands.
Nanba gave you a smile. "They say that lovers who hold hands like this are more connected to each other," he said. "In contrast to just plainly holding hands."
"I can believe it." With your fingers tangled with his, you felt like you were a part of him, as crazy as that sounds.
"So, did you have fun?"
"Yes. I actually did." You smiled up at him.
"Didn't I tell you? A little fun won't hurt anyone. And anyway, I just wanted to see you smile. I haven't spent time with you for a while, so I thought…"
He was getting flustered, switching up his explanation. You thought it was cute, seeing the normally unruffled playboy stuttering over his sentences. With your free hand, you reached up and gently touched his lips. "Thank you."
He was surprised for a second. Then he kissed your fingertips. "You're welcome."
A car rolled by, filled with rowdy teenage boys. One stuck his head out of the window and whistled at you. "Hey, babe. Why don't you leave your man and join me?"
You usually didn't get many catcalls. In response, you shook your head but dropped one eyelid in a slow wink. The male grinned, just as the car pulled away.
Nanba chuckled as you continued walking. "Not used to that, are you?" he inquired. "It's just because you look adorable today."
"I'm glad you think so," you replied, fingering the necklace that hung just above the valley of your breasts. It was a gold chain, with a ruby rose on the end. Tiny diamonds sparkled from the rose's petals. Nanba had bought it for you, along with a few other things, packaged safely into shopping bags that he carried on the crook of his other arm. It had cost a lot, and you begged Nanba not to spend his money on it, but he had anyway. You had to admit that you were pleased by the gift.
"I do," he started, but then abruptly stopped.
"Minami?" You glanced up at him. "What's wrong…"
"Up ahead," he said, his voice low. He jutted out his chin in the direction, and you turned your head to look. You froze. It was Izumi!
He'd just stepped out from a car on the curb. Leaning into the window, he said a quick word with the driver, a smile on his face; then he moved back and the car sped off down the street. Standing alone, with a bag slung across his shoulder, Izumi ran his fingers through his hair and then looked around. His eyes met yours' for a second.
Before you could see if he recognized you, Nanba was tugging you back. "Come on," he said, "we've got to get away before he sees you!"
"Too late," you wanted to say. Izumi was staring at you, his brow furrowed in concentration. Nanba pulled you back into a crowd of pedestrians.
"We'll have to make a run for it. Think you're up for the challenge?" He gestured at your wedge heels.
"Luckily I'm good at running in these," you retorted, just as he started running down the street, his hand pulling you after him.
It was sort of like an adventure. You followed Nanba down the street, and then he turned, taking a left into an almost deserted street. Only a few empty cars parked in front of run-down houses vacated the area. You thought it would be the perfect place to hide, but Nanba didn't think so, taking another left at the end.
It was a long street and by the time you reached the curb, it had started to rain, lightly, droplets of water splashing onto your skin. "Damn," Nanba said. "We have to find shelter."
"Why?" you asked, breathless, but he only raised an eyebrow, smiling.
"You're wearing a white dress, remember? With no bra underneath."
"Oh." Already the dress was becoming see-through. "Well, hurry up and find shelter, then, Minami!"
"All right, all right," he said, laughing. He then led you over to the entrance of a building, where the pillars and roof protected you from rain. "This should do it."
You sank down onto the stone steps, panting for breath. You were just about soaked, and through the wet material of the dress your stomach and hips were visible. "Thank God," you said, trying to catch your breath.
Nanba stuck his head out in the rain, looking to the left, then the right. "The coast is clear," he finally announced, coming back into the shelter. "I don't see Sano anywhere."
"I'm sure he didn't follow us." You weren't positive about your statement, but it didn't seem like a thing Izumi would do.
You sat there, sucking down air, and Nanba caught your eye. Then the two of you started laughing.
"That was exciting," he said when he was finally done, sitting down next to you. "I didn't expect to see Sano."
"I didn't, either. He said he'd be late." You were still giggling, and you covered your mouth with one hand, trying to quiet down. Outside, the rain slapped against the pavement, making pitter-patter noises.
"But it was fun," you concluded.
"It was," he agreed. "In all my dating experiences, I've never done that."
He took your hand and helped you to your feet. Then you stood there, your hand in his. The setting sun cast shadows across his handsome face. It was the perfect moment.
He set the shopping bags on the ground, never taking his eyes from you. "(Name), would it be okay if I kissed you?"
"Do you even have to ask, Minami?"
Slipping his arm around your waist, he pulled you to him and captured your lips, kissing you passionately, a kiss so full of desire that it left you breathless when he broke it. Then he held you flush against his body, his hands on your hips.
"I'm sorry," he murmured, resting his chin on the top of your head. "I made a promise that I wouldn't kiss you but I do it anyway."
"It's okay," you replied, pressing your face to his chest. He smelled wonderful and sleepiness washed over you. You could fall asleep in his arms.
"No, it's not…I know I shouldn't kiss you, but…I just can't bring myself to stop…"
Nanba was quiet and he sounded pained as he said the words. You knew that he was hurting, but from what, you didn't know. "Minami, really. It's all right."
"We ought to get back to the dorms." But he didn't step out from the embrace. "It's getting late, and Sano might be back by now. Luckily I happen to know a secret entrance into the dorms."
"How am I going to get to my room?"
"You can shower and change in mine. That way, no risk will be taken. I've got some spare clothing."
You tilted your head up to look at him. His eyes were stormy and dark, his face closed. You couldn't read his expression. "Is everything okay, Minami?" you asked softly. "If something's wrong…"
"It's nothing," he assured, tracing the outline of your lips gently with his finger. When you didn't say anything, he smiled. "Don't worry about me, (Name). It's just that you're my biggest sin."
"When you say it like that," you whispered, your words trailing off. Nanba gently moved you back from his body and then he shrugged off his jacket, handing it to you. "Here. Put this on. It's still raining and if you get anymore soaked, your body will be on display."
"Thank you." You wrapped it around your shoulders. He bent down to pick up the bags and then took your hand. The walk back to the dorms was silent and terse, Nanba uncharacteristically quiet. He let go of your hand right outside the dorm and walked ahead of you, leading the way.
As you stared at his back, his black shirt soaked through, you found yourself breathing the words, "Don't walk away, Minami."
He opened the door and held it out for you. He hadn't heard your soft plea, and you walked past him, unexpected tears forming in your eyes. The darkness of the empty hall hid them.