Chapter One: Hitting the Reset Button
I hesitated for the umpteenth time as I reached out for the doorknob to the Reference Room. It had been at least a week since I had kissed Yukine at her brother’s graveside, and I felt that I owed her some kind of explanation.
She had clearly been surprised by the ‘spell’, as had been her friends. Sure, she and I had been getting along well, and I had helped her by trying to be supportive, but…
We hadn’t had enough of a rapport, and I realized that I really didn’t know her that well. I just thought that she was a neat girl.
I guess that’s why the kiss was a little…impulsive. While she didn’t exactly try to push me away, she also didn’t seem very receptive.
In the end I was concerned that I had stolen her ‘first kiss’, which seemed to mean a lot to girls. I wanted to make things right if I could. And if she would let me; just because I was her ‘senpai’ didn’t mean that I could treat her as a toy, without consideration for her feelings.
With this in mind, I set my jaw and opened the door.
I wasn’t surprised to see her reading at the table where she had served so many meals to Sunohara and me. In fact, from all appearances, she looked as though nothing had happened, nothing had changed. Maybe the kiss was all in my imagination?
That last thought was blown away when she looked up at my approach and blushed. “W-Welcome,” she greeted warmly, but somewhat distantly. “Is Sunohara-san not with you today?”
“N-No,” was all I could muster at first before gathering my courage. “Listen Miyazawa-san; I think I need to apologize for what I did to you.”
She eyed me somewhat cautiously. “What do you need to apologize to me for, Tomoya-san?”
I internally cringed at the way she said my name. It wasn’t like she was using it like she was disgusted. It actually sounded more like she was uncertain, maybe even afraid.
It may have been going overboard, especially toward a junior, but I lowered myself to my knees and bowed low; the floor felt cool to my forehead. “I’m really sorry for kissing you the way that I did. I had no right to touch you like that.”
I heard a gasp even before I finished speaking. “No! Please don’t bow! Get up, Tomoya-san, please!” I felt hands tugging at my shoulders, so I reluctantly allowed her to help me to my feet. I still couldn’t look her in the eye, though; shame wouldn’t let me. I only half-felt it as she brushed at my blazer and forehead.
Her voice came again, much quieter this time; more like her usual tone. “I…admit that I was surprised by…what you did. And I wasn’t sure what to think of it.”
“How about now? Can you forgive me?” I felt stupid for asking, but… “Did I take your first kiss?”
Her hand paused in its brushing, but only briefly. “You…did, but…”
Well, that settled it; I was lower than dirt.
“Yeah?” I still couldn’t look her in the eye.
I felt her hands on the sides of my face, gently turning my head to look at her. “Why don’t we start over?”
She nodded. “I don’t want you to beat yourself up over this and I don’t want to ruin our friendship, so…”
She looked like she was choosing her words carefully, so I said nothing.
She suddenly brightened up, with her usual smile. “How about we have lunch together after school on Saturday? Are you free then?”
I felt a smile tug at the corners of my mouth. Was I getting a chance to redeem myself? A second chance with her? “If I’m not, I will be,” I promised.
She giggled softly, and I had to keep from floating away on that fluffy cloud. Everything about her shouted ‘girl!’ and I was grateful for that. “Could we meet the park just down the road from here?”
I knew the one she was talking about. “Sure. What time?”
“Well, after school, of course!” She exclaimed, giggling again. God, I could have gotten high on that. “I can bring whatever I need from home, so…” she looked up at me from under her lashes. “…we could walk there…together.”
I felt my chest swell with a feeling I had never felt before. What was this? “That…sounds great,” I think I managed to stammer out. “S-So…Saturday then?”
I fell into my seat and class and couldn’t help it; it just burst out: “Ya-HOOO!”
“YES, SENSEI!” I heard Sunohara yell, and I looked over to his seat to find him on his feet, bloodshot eyes wide open. “TWENTY-TWO!!” Seeing the few other lunchtime students glaring at him he looked over at me as he settled back into his seat. “What the hell are you grinning about?”
Certainly not what he was probably thinking. “Nothing…nothing at all.”
“Then stop it,” he grunted, as he lay his head back down on his desk. “You’re creeping me out.”
“Fine,” I said, and rested my chin in my hand and faced the window. “Is that better? Now you can’t see it.”
“But I know you’re still doing it.”
I shook my head slightly. “Idiot. Do you think I can stop it that easily? Just go back to sleep. Or go eat lunch if you haven’t already.”
I felt my chest tighten at the familiar female voice and my eyes widened as I turned to see Yukine standing by my desk, her trembling hands folded; she must have been nervous coming to the 3rd-years’ floor. “Y-Yeah, Yukine?”
She glanced around nervously before opening her mouth again. “What…What would you like to eat on Saturday?”
We jumped as we heard a THUMP from Sunohara’s direction, and we both turned to see him faceplanted on the floor.
I had to answer her question, and quickly. “Um…whatever you’d like to make,” I rapid-fired as she turned back to me. “Just…whatever. I’ll eat it, since you’re such a great cook.”
She blushed attractively as Sunohara climbed back into his seat. “Okay. I-I’ll do my best.” She finger-waved as she left the room, leaving a room near-full of astonished 3rd-year students.
Sunohara looked from me to the door where Yukine had departed, then back to me. There was only one thing he could say at a time like this:
“Okazaki, you BASTARD!”