Outside, a car door slammed. Chiaki jerked awake. "Nodame?"
"Bye-bye! See you tomorrow!"
Her voice came in from outside. Chiaki jumped up, looking out the window just in time to see a black BMW pull away from the apartment and Nodame waving after it from across the street. Beneath the streetlight, she had a dreamy smile on her face.
That was strange. Nodame always came home from rehearsals complaining. Last week it had been "Nodame hates Bach!" Could the smile mean she had grasped the flow of the piece at the last minute? Knowing Nodame, it was entirely possible that she had played it perfectly tonight, which meant Chiaki's task would be to keep her from losing interest before the performance next weekend.
"In the living room." Chiaki got up, stretching as Nodame entered the room. "How was rehearsal?"
Nodame made that pufferfish face she always made when Chiaki refused to let her have her way. "Nodame hates Bach," she declared, pouting. "Always like a machine, tick-tock, tick-tock, never faster, never slower--it's so lifeless!"
"Bach isn't lifeless," Chiaki said. "Okura, however, might be going for a certain effect." That was strange. What had made Nodame smile like that despite Bach (and Okura)'s best efforts?
"Well, he's stupid." Nodame attempted to drop herself into Chiaki's lap. Chiaki had anticipated this--he slid sideways, evading her. Nodame landed on the sofa with an "Oof" and pouted up at Chiaki, but he'd had a lot of practice ignoring her pouts.
"If rehearsal was bad, why were you making a cow face just now?" he asked.
"Nodame does not make cow faces," she said, turning her nose up at him in an attempt at dignity.
"Yes, you do." Chiaki pointed at her. "You know, that face you make when you drag out those pictures you're always taking of me. The ones I never gave you permission to take."
"Oh, like this?"
"Yes, that's the fa-- Wait, I thought I'd burned all those pictures!"
"They're mine! Chiaki-senpai has no right to burn them!"
"Give them to me!"
After a short scuffle in which Chiaki managed to retrieve all the pictures by pulling on her hair, Nodame sat whimpering on the floor, empty-handed. Chiaki pretended he couldn't hear her, and stuffed the pictures in his pocket. He'd shred them later. "Anyway. You were making that face you just made. What on earth were you doing? Were you showing those pictures to other people?"
Nodame shook her head. "I wouldn't show those to Ohtori-kun! If I made him jealous, he might not help Nodame and give her rides home in the future."
"Ohtori-kun? The violinist?"
"Yes!" Nodame made that cow face again.
Chiaki felt his face shift into a scowl. "So you want to avoid making Ohtori-kun jealous, do you?"
His scowl deepened. "Fine. Good night." Stiffly, he turned away.
Nodame jumped up from the couch. "Give me back my pictures!"
"You don't need them anymore," Chiaki said, deftly swatting away the hand that was reaching for his pocket. "I'm surprised you haven't started taking pictures of Ohtori-kun."
"Go hide in his bathtub and peek at him while he changes. He probably won't even push you out of his bed, he's such a nice guy."
There was a long pause.
Nodame said, "Shinichi-kun, you're jealous."
"In your dreams. I merely feel bad for Ohtori-kun. He'll never have another moment's peace."
Chiaki turned away to hide his scowl. Suddenly Nodame pounced on him, knocking them both to the floor. Chiaki struggled beneath her, but she managed to stay on top of him, and then she was rubbing herself against Chiaki.
"You are jealous! Shinichi-kun does care about me!" She grinned at him delightedly and nuzzled against his cheek. "Silly thing, you know Nodame loves you, you don't have anything to be jealous of!"
"Like hell you do," Chiaki said, but it was difficult to stay angry when Nodame was pressed against him like this. "Damn it, Nodame, stop using your feminine wiles on me. I'm sure Ohtori-kun would appreciate them more!"
"But Masumi-chan would never forgive me, and anyway, Ohtori-kun is gay!"
"What does Masumi have to do wi--" Chiaki stopped mid-sentence and stared. "He's what?"
Nodame seized the chance to French kiss him. A moment later, she sprang up with a cry of joy, and Chiaki realized she'd managed to get the photos of him out of his pocket.