The ring of Yui's intercom echoed through her apartment. One long, continuous, drowning, annoying, ear-splitting-
"Do you seriously have to do that every time?!" Yui yelled at the screen on her remote. Kyouko just grinned and playfully knocked on her head on the other end. The innocent act always got her out of trouble with Yui and this time was no different. With a sigh Yui quickly unlocked the door, her blonde friend swiftly making her way inside before locking back up.
"Just make yourself at home...As if you don't already do that whenever you come here anyway. I'll get some juice."
"Okie-dokie!" Kyouko happily made her way to the living room's table, plopping herself down with a smile. It wasn't long before Yui returned with the drinks, setting them down for the two of them. She felt a slight case of deja vu overcome her. This was the same thing she did when she and Kyouko had their talk about the confession.
Kyouko quickly picked up her cup and took a nice sip, not wasting any time asking questions. "So whatcha invite me over for? That's kinda rare."
"That's because you always randomly show up on your own..." Is what Yui instantly wanted to say. Instead she decided not to get thrown off track, focusing more on the reason she asked Kyouko to come over. "I wanted to...uh...t-to talk about things..."
"Things? What kinda things?"
"Y-You should know what kind of things by now!"
Kyouko tilted her head before she finally realized what Yui meant. "OOOOH!"
Her delayed reaction caused Yui to lower her head and sigh deeply, pinching the bridge of her nose. "You're the one who confessed to me, I would have thought you'd instantly know what I was referring to...Honestly..."
"Ehehe. Sorry about that. I just figured that you'd need lots of time to think about love and stuff...I know it's not exactly easy."
Hearing that coming from Kyouko was surprising. No wonder she wasn't getting as hung up on it as Yui was. She was patiently waiting for her answer, acting as if nothing had changed to keep her mind off of things. The more Yui thought about it, the more it fit Kyouko's way of thinking. "So...you were acting all normal and stuff to distract yourself from waiting?"
Kyouko blushed slightly and scratched her cheek. "S-Something like that...I guess...!"
"You didn't want me to feel too pressured about answering quickly. Am I right?"
"Ngh...Y-Yeah..." Knowing that the jig was up, Kyouko began to relax a bit. "It's like you said...It wouldn't be right getting an answer from you that you weren't completely sure of yourself, right? So I didn't want to seem too eager and stuff. I figured just going on normally would help you out. Guess not, huh...?"
Yui couldn't help but smile. Kyouko's heart was always in the right place, even if she didn't show it. "Well, it's not like something like this is easy to keep from being distracting. To tell you the truth, it's been on my mind ever since you told me everything..." She leaned onto the table, gazing up to her ceiling skylight as a few clouds drifted across the otherwise clear blue sky.
"Knowing someone loves you is a really strange feeling. You feel tingly mostly and your heart beats a little faster. I noticed I would get a little hotter and my cheeks would flush, too. It's not exactly something I'm used to feeling..."
Kyouko rubbed her arm, feeling slightly guilty. How Yui would react in a long term sense never really occured to her. Yui continued on. "...But it's not a bad feeling. The more it hit me...the nicer it felt."
"Eh?" Kyouko perked up a bit. "W-Wait, really?"
Yui nodded. "Mmm...The feeling of love is kind of like one big, fuzzy blanket wrapping around you." Her cheeks quickly flushed in embarrassment. "A-As corny or cliche as that sounds..."
While she was expecting Kyouko to probably start snickering at her, the response she got was quite the opposite. Kyouko quickly leaned over the table, almost getting into Yui's face. Her eyes were wide and glistening, her mouth curled up into a big smile. Yui could have sworn she just became pure joy incarnate.
"I KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL!" Kyouko quickly took hold of Yui's hands, balling her own around them. "Ever since I started falling for you it's like I end up feeling all warm and fuzzy whenever I think about being with you! It feels like you're there holding me and embracing me and-...Ah...I-I mean...eheh..."
Kyouko finally returned to her senses, realizing she just gushed in front of the person she loved. It was very rare for Kyouko to feel embarrassed, especially in front of Yui. She started fidgeting nervously as she tried to think of what to say next.
"A-Aha! Sorry about that! I guess I just ended up rambling about stuff, but no need to worry! I hardly do that anyway! At least I don't when it doesn't have to with Mirakurun. I could talk about Mirakurun for hours! OH! Like in last night's episode she took Ganbo and-" Before Kyouko could finish trying to change the subject, she felt something soft make contact with her forehead. After taking a moment to re-focus, she realized what it was: Yui's lips. During her nervous babbling she failed to notice Yui lean over the table and plant a kiss on her forehead. Kyouko's face instantly to glow a bright shade of crimson as she scooted back and held her head. She had successfully transformed from a rambling mess to a stuttering one.
"Y-Y-Y-YUI?! W-W-WHY DID YOU-?!"
Yui looked just as surprised as Kyouko, her cheeks still slightly stained with red. "I-I wanted to calm you down and it just happened!...Guess it didn't work..." Yui studied Kyouko for a bit while she dealt with her own fit of confusion. Her flushed face, her almost panicky expression...it reminded her of when they were younger. Back when Kyouko was a lot more fragile, almost helpless. It was her look of distress that made Yui decide that she'd always be there to protect her dear friend. If she were ever hurt or bullied, Yui'd be there for her no matter what...
"Kyouko...Do you remember back when that pink-haired girl tried bullying you in the park when we were little?"
"Y-Yeah?...W-What about it?"
"After all that happened, I promised to myself that I wouldn't let anything bad happen to you." Yui began to inch closer to Kyouko, trying to look as harmless as possible. She was hoping to calm her down the proper way this time. "Seeing you so scared...I didn't want to see you like that again..." After a bit of crawling, she finally kneeled beside the blonde-haired girl. Kyouko still looked a bit nervous. Yui couldn't blame her. Things kinda ended up escalating faster than either of them intended.
Kyouko began to calm down, slowly but surely. At least enough to respond. "S-So why are you bringing that up anyway?"
"Because it slipped my mind as we got older...You matured, after all. Heh...Even if you did become a bit more of a pain in the process." Yui reached over and gently stroked Kyouko's hair, brushing a few disheveled strands out of her face. "You're confident, you're bright and you're cheerful...but even someone like you has helpless moments..." Kyouko couldn't help but fidget a bit more at Yui's words.
"Y-You're talking about what's going on right now when you say that, aren't you...!"
Yui nodded. "It's at times like this when it helps to have someone by your side, right...?"
"Then...I-I..." Yui took a deep breath, clench her fist, and forced her feelings out. "I wanna be that someone!" Her gaze sharpened, a determined look on her face. Kyouko could tell that Yui meant it as she hardly joked around, but it still ended up catching her completely off-guard. The mixed feeling of shock, surprise and pure happiness had ended up leaving her wide-eyed and speechless. Yui began to sweat a bit. Perhaps she was a bit too direct.
"...K-Kyouko?...Earth to Kyouko?..." Yui grew more and more worried as Kyouko remained still and silent. "Dammit. Was I too straight forward?...S-She'll snap out of it, right?" She waved her hand in front of Kyouko's line of sight, hoping i'd be enough to get her attention and snap her out of her trance. It only took a few seconds for her to finally move...and another few seconds for usually energetic girl to flop over limply onto the floor, out like a light. It may have taken a bit to set in, but the shock of Yui confirming her feelings finally overwhelmed her. Yui quickly scrambled over to her side.
As Chitose was busy trying to figure out the reasoning behind her sudden fantasy changes, Ayano was busy watching her as she followed behind as the two made their way back home. She had spent the entire day with her friend, whose only goal the entire time was to get her to smile and laugh. Whenever she was having trouble, whenever she was feeling down, whenever she needed help, Chitose was always the first person to come to her aid. She was always willing to sacrifice her time to be by her side whenever she was needed...and it made Ayano feel guilty. In the end she was doing exactly what she was trying to avoid since the start of this whole mess; Getting others involved in her problems. Ayano stopped walking as her body tensed up. She felt horrible.
It took a second for Chitose to snap out of it and notice that Ayano was a ways behind her. She quickly turned back to her friend to see what was wrong. "Ayano-chan...?"
Ayano trembled slightly, clenching her fist. "Chitose...I'm sorry..."
Chitose tilted her head. She didn't understand why her friend was suddenly apologizing to her or why she looked so sad. Ayano continued on. "I'm sorry for always causing you trouble. I-I'm always relying on you for everything...Even now the whole reason for today was just for me. It's...i-it's selfish of me!" Tears welled up in her eyes the longer she spoke, her voice cracking from trying to control her outpour of emotion.
"When I needed advice about Toshino Kyouko you were there to give it to me...When nothing ever worked out in my favor you were there to comfort me...and after what happened a few days ago, you still stood by my side without even being asked to...I-I'm always going to you for help and hardly give anything back!...Some kind of friend I am-"
Before Ayano could finish she was suddenly engulfed in a tight hug. Chitose was surprised at how swiftly she had moved to embrace her friend, but what took priority right now was Ayano and only Ayano. That's all that mattered to her...That's all that has ever mattered to her. That's when it hit Chitose; Her changing delusions were the result of what she truly desired. Sacrificing her chances with Ayano just to see her happy with Kyouko...it all made sense now! Protecting Ayano's smile was the closest she could get to protecting the person she loved.
"Ayano-chan...I don't try to make you happy because I need to. I wanted to make you happy all on my own...B-Because Ayano-chan's happiness is all I care about!"
Ayano was speechless. The feeling in Chitose's voice could be heard loud and clear. All she could do was grip onto her shoulder and bury her face into it, trying hard not to let all her tears out at once. Chitose held her tightly, stroking her hair with a warm, comforting smile.
"I've liked you for a while now, Ayano-chan...but after seeing you try so hard to get Toshino-san's attention and win her over...Even though I would have liked to be with you, I knew I should still help you achieve your goal. If the person I like is happy then I'm sure I'd be happy, too..."
"But that doesn't make it okay!" Ayano gripped onto her tighter as she spoke. "Being forced to watch me try to win someone over...even helping me out with everything...No matter how much you smile about it, it must have still been painful for you!"
Chitose couldn't deny that. As much as she tried to put on a brave face, it still wasn't enough to keep her from feeling sad sometimes whenever she'd see Ayano and Kyouko spending time together. However, knowing just how much of this Ayano realized did put her at ease.
"It did hurt a little bit...but knowing that Ayano-chan was trying her hardest for someone she loved made me want to try harder to support you... I guess I can be too nice for my own good sometimes, huh?"
Ayano sniffled as she raised her head up. Her eyes slightly reddened from the tears. "Chitose..."
"It's okay now, though. Knowing that you care that much about my well-being is really all I need."
"No, Chitose. It's not okay..." Ayano slowly let go of her friend, wiping her eyes of any lingering wetness. "You do nice things and never expect anything in return..." She cleared her throat, trying to sound more official despite her earlier breakdown. "A-As the Student Council Vice President and your superior I can't let that go unnoticed!"
Ayano's response took Chitose completely off-guard. She wasn't exactly sure how she should respond to such a serious outburst. A small but comical bead of sweat trickled down her forehead.
"U-Um...What...exactly do you mean?"
"I mean...I-I mean it's about time I repay you. I want to make you as happy as you've helped make me..."
"PLEASE!" Ayano bowed deeply in response, a physical plea to her friend to allow her to do what she asked. Chitose was caught even more off-guard. She couldn't see how serious Ayano's face was. The ponytailed girl's face was red, her eyes clenched shut and awaiting a response.
"Well...If Ayano-chan is sure...then who am I to stop her?"
"...Huh? Really?" Ayano didn't expect her to be so compromising. Not even a hint of resistance.
"Of course. I have no right to stand in the way of your desires. I haven't before...and I won't now."
"Chitose..." The smile that Ayano put on was perhaps the first true smile that she wore in the past few days. She began to tear up again as she bowed once more, smiling as a few drops fell to sidewalk. "Thank you! I promise you I'll give you the happiness you deserve-deserve-Denmark!"
Chitose couldn't help but laugh. The assertiveness, the flustered behaviour, the puns, they were all the real thing. Ayano finally sounded like she was back to being herself. It was a hard-fought battle, but it had paid off in the end. She reached over and placed her hand on Ayano's shoulder, smiling warmly.
"That sounds more like the Ayano-chan I love."
Ayano finally stood back up, tall and proud. All she could do was smile brightly as she wiped her eyes clean of whatever sadness still remained. "Ehehe..."