Chapter 6: Paper Moon, Part 3
”In the dark, in the dark, I dare to tell you.”
Miki and Molly hop off the boy's dormitory low surrounding wall as I take the short steps up to the door. Miki's shed her leather jacket for what appears to be one of my old jackets that she stole. Molly doesn't have her orange yukata on anymore, and has on her usual sweater and skirt ensemble.
"Well well well, you were certainly gone a long time, assbutt." Miki pipes up as I open the front door to the Boy's Dormitory.
"Yep. And I'm still mad at you for that." I hold the door open as they walk in before me. "How was your date with Takashi, Molly?"
"You two looked cute together."
"Th-thank you. Uhm, you and Shizune looked like you were having fun.”
“Yeah. Okay.” Please don’t bring that up, Molly.
Miki gags as I step past them.
"Did you just say cute
and not in a sarcastic manner, Yuuto?"
I stop and wheel around. Miki's grin shrinks under my glare.
"Okay, look. I am in no mood for your crap so don't you even start." She cringes as I stab my finger into her forehead. That cringing only lasts for half a second before something else takes over Miki.
Miki growls and swats my hand away. I don't get a chance to threaten her further before she grabs my hair and starts pulling me after her. Molly lets out her usual little whine of terror as she scurries after us down the hall, towards my room.
"Ow ow ow ow ow ow letgoofmyhair ow ow."
Miki doesn't let go until I dig my keys out of my pocket unlock my bedroom door. She flings me into the room and lets Molly in first before slamming the door behind her.
“Yuuto! You cleaned your room!” Molly exclaims, looking around. Oh right. This is the first time Molly’s been here in a week. I guess she really does like Takashi. Normally, nothing gets between Molly and the nightly study sessions.
"You do not get to do this goddamn-freakin'-piece-of-shit-assbutt Yuuto thing when I did you a HUGE
favor tonight." Miki digs her finger into the bottom of my jaw, forcing me to lean my head up.
"A favor? What possible part of you stranding me at Tanabata with Shizune is a favor?" I throw my arms out to my side. “Because I certainly didn’t ask for you to do it. And congratulations, by the way, on totally not doing it in the most awkward as hell way you possibly could. There’s no way Shizune couldn’t have caught on to what you were trying to do. So please, explain how that’s a favor.”
Miki places her hand on her hip and tilts her head back to the ceiling.
"Oh gee I don't know! How about the part where you've got a big stupid fat crush on Shizune?"
Molly gasps and covers her mouth with both hands. Miki gives me my famous irritated out of my mind look.
No. No no no. Miki cannot know about what I thought about doing tonight, regardless of if she’s right or not. I will never hear the end of it. She'll torture me forever with it. She'll have the upperhand. She'll always have the upperhand. I will never win another argument with her ever again. All it'll end with is "WELL YOU LIKE THAT ONE GIRL."
Oh right. It's deathly quiet now. I should say something so they don't just jump to stupid, incredibly correct assumptions.
"W-What? Me? Like Shizune? Don't say such stupid things." I shove my hands into my pockets to keep from fidgeting.
Molly lifts her hands from her mouth to break the silence with one word.
Miki's scowl slowly turns upwards. Just as slowly I turn my look of pure unfiltered horror-slash-rage away from Miki and to Molly.
The small girl covers her mouth again and looks like she'd rather be at the bottom of a septic tank than in my room right now.
"OH MY GOD. TSUNDERE YUUTO." Miki shrieks.
"I'm going to kill you Molly."
Molly lifts her hands from her mouth again.
"WhateveryoulikeShizune." She squeaks.
Miki throws herself onto my bed and shoves her face into my pillow to muffle the roars of laughter coming from her.
"I'msosorry." Molly covers her mouth again.
Miki rips her head from my pillow and beams at me.
"You do! You so do!"
"Wh-Why would you say that?"
"You stare at her all the time."
"Bullshit. And even so, I sort of have to look at her because we use sign language. It’s a freaking visual language."
"Pffft. I meant like when we were building stalls the other day. You kept looking over to her when we were working on the stalls separately."
"Wrong. I was just checking if she was ahead of me. Try again!"
"Uh, okay, how about the fact that you two bicker like an old married couple?"
"You and I do that!"
“No. We fight. You two bicker.”
“WE DO THAT TOO!”
"Yeah, but I'm me and you're you and Shizune is Shi.Zu.Ne." Miki stabs me in the chest with a finger on each syllable.
"That sentence doesn't make any sense."
"It makes perfect sense, assbutt. It means that you and I have ALWAYS done this. But Shizune? Oh ho ho. Not Shizune. This is new. You used to actually hate going to see Shizune and Misha. Remember?" She jumps off my bed and stands with Molly in front of me.
Molly nods, not moving her hands. I think she's actually scared I'll kill her if she says anything else.
"Yes you do. Before you punched Takamichi, you were a complete ass. You never smiled. You never did anything nice. You were an assbutt
to the core. And then you got into the student council and now you playfully bicker with the Queen Bee more than you do with me. And you enjoy it. You don't even get annoyed like you do with me. And you're nice! You do nice things and you make jokes. You changed because of Shizune.
"I did not! And just because I argue with her does not mean I like her."
"That's just the thing! You don't argue all irritated and annoyed like you do with me. You're totally silly and cute when you argue with her. Frankly, it's sickening to look at but it means one thing!"
Miki grabs me by the shoulders and places her forehead against mine.
"You want to hit that.”
They're right. I like Shizune.
And there’s no sense in trying to deny it from these two or myself any longer.
It makes sense. I told her about Daichi at the drop of a hat. I hate myself when I disappoint her now. And I actually go out of my way to spend time with her and stupid student council work. There was no reason I couldn't have just bailed out on half the work by claiming I had errands to run. Hell, I even went and pushed a bunch of actual errands back so that I could help her. And I didn't complain about them! Well, much. I didn’t complain about them that much.
Miki lets go of me and I fall back onto my bed. I manage to hit the back of my head on the wall on the way down.
Molly and Miki are suddenly there, helping me back up into a sitting position as my head reels in pain, physical and mental. They're right. It wasn't just some stupid romantic moment taking a hold of me tonight. I actually enjoy spending time with Shizune and not just tonight. I want to spend more time with the Queen Bee of Yamaku and...
And I apparently want to do other things too.
"Oh god. What is wrong with me?"
Miki shrugs. "A list of things, but young love is the least of your worries. You're also sort of ugly and a dick."
Molly swats Miki on the back of the head in a stunning display of courage.
"Miki, shush. Yuuto is being serious."
Miki pouts and for some reason pretends that Molly actually hurt her by rubbing the back of her head.
“Okay. There. You two know it now.” I place my hand against my forehead, trying to clear my thoughts for two seconds. “I like Shizune. Go ahead and make fun of me for it.”
Miki and Molly glance at each other.
“Well if you’re just going to come out and say it, then there’s no point in making fun of you for it, stupid.” Miki sighs.
Molly just smiles at me. It’s actually rather comforting.
My bed creaks as they sit down on each side of me. Miki slides her arm over my shoulder. I guess she’s trying to comfort me.
“Besides, I think you two would be cute together.” Miki continues.
I lift my hand from my head and look at my friend.
“I mean, it’s really weird and frankly, kind of sickening, but cute in a way I guess.”
“Miki, stop it.” Molly hisses.
“Gah, you’ve even got Molly being all feisty, assbutt.” She grins at me. “So what, you ask her out or anything?”
Miki’s arm slides off of me and she shoves me.
“Yuuto! That’s why I left you two alone!”
“He doesn’t have to ask her out just because you got them alone, Miki.”
“Yes, he does. That was sort of the point.” Miki sticks her tongue out at Molly.
“I took her to this spot to see the lights from the town and… I kind of maybe thought about kissing her.” I mutter.
Miki’s head slowly turns back to me. The size of her grin is unprecedented. I didn’t even think it was humanly possible. That smile breaks the laws of physics. It actually hurts my head to keep looking at it.
“Ya don’t say.”
Molly lets out the tiniest giggle.
“And then I brought her back here and I don’t… Yeah. That’s it.” I shake my head again. It’s been a long night. And while the stress from the week melted away at the festival tonight, it’s been replaced by this new form of stress. I’d rather deal with a seizure than this any day of the week.
“Jeez, Yuuto. For someone who acts all tough and mean, you’re a pretty big wuss under all of it, aren’t ya?”
“Miki!” Molly swats her again.
“Gah! Will you cut it out?”
“When you stop being so… you.” Molly shakes her head before focusing on me.
“Don’t listen to her, Yuuto.”
“She’s right though. I mean… If I do like her, I should just tell her.”
“Well yeah. Duh. Don’t pull a Molly.” Miki comments. She shrugs at Molly’s death glare.
Molly pats me on the shoulder and gives me another of her comforting smiles. "It's a crush, Yuuto. Whether or not you pursue it is up to you. And you're not ugly, by the way."
"But you are kind of still a dick." Miki adds.
I frown and stare at the floor. I guess that's true. What Molly said, not Miki's insult. This is my last year in high school. I could just let this all blow over and never think about it after this year. I mean, that's what I've always thought I would done if I actually liked a girl like this. I’m Yuuto Miyamoto. I’ve got my future to worry about. A future of whatever job I can get to help my family out.
"I kind of thought it would have been Misha, but eh, Shizune is just as awkward and hillarious."
"Miki. That's not helping." Molly chides.
"What? He's totally acting like he’s in middle school. It's great! This is the most immature I've ever seen him act."
"And that's definitely not helping, Miki."
"How the hell do we help with this? This is Yuuto we're talking about. He's just going to do nothing and-"
"What do I do?"
“What do you do about what?” Miki asks.
"I mean, what do I do? Maybe I want to ask her out. But she could say no. I mean, this is Shizune. The Queen Bee of Yamaku. And honestly, all I’ve really done is cause trouble for them. They took pity on me and let me join the Student Council after I punched Takamichi and… Not to mention Shizune’s my boss.” I push my bangs back as I run my hand through my hair. “I mean, that’s another thing. She’s my boss. What if I get kicked out of the Student Council because I’ve made it awkward and I lose my tuition assistance and… So what do I do?”
“What do you do about what?” Miki repeats.
“Asking Shizune out. Or ignoring it and just shoving it down into my stomach until it festers into cancer and kills me?”
Miki opens her mouth, shuts it and opens it again. Molly just clenches her jaw and starts pulling on her braids. Seriously? Now they shut up? When I actually want them to talk?
"Guys. I think it's time to start talking because I might just freak out soon."
Molly turns to Miki again and lets out an almost inaudible whine. Miki just rolls her eyes and pats me on the cheek.
"Yuuto. Listen up, because I don’t like being serious with you. It makes my skin crawl and I’m pretty sure I’ll puke, but you’re my friend and I have one thing to say if you want to bump uglies with Shizune.”
"Go out with her. Don't get carried away, Miki." Molly mutters.
"Right. Right right right." Miki wiggles her fingers at Molly.
“You lose one hundred percent of the battles you don’t fight, man.”
Miki groans and shakes me by my shoulder.
“It means you’re just going to miss out on something that could be totally cool if you do nothing. You gotta at least try, man.”
“Okay… But, when? I mean, it’s super hard to get her alone and I’m not just going to ask her out in front of Misha. And now that she's done with all her make-up work, I'm sure she'll be attached to Shizune's hip again.” I shove her arm off of me. My head is shaken already, Miki. I don’t need it done more.
“Good point. That would… be pretty tasteless, I guess.” Miki lowers her head.
Is she deep in thought? Seriously? Am I that undateable? Am I that unappealing?
Eons pass, before Miki looks up again. Her eyes are wide. The grin I thought would be there isn't. She turns her gaze to me and opens her mouth.
"Did you email your Mom yet? I mean about me coming over for the long weekend?”
"What? No. What does that have to anything?"
Miki's grin suddenly appears.
"Tell her that you're bringing more people."
One Shot:To Start a Fire [18+]