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Perception

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When Akemi-san calls you, you are excited. Heart aflutter, hands trembling, you hold your cellphone to your ear, drinking in her beautiful voice. She asks you out to eat after school and you do not question her motives; why would you? You are only a middle school girl caught in the throes of immature first love. To you, Akemi-san is perfect - athletic, intelligent, mysterious, dark. Her eyes look so mature, so much more than a middle schooler like you, and she draws you in like a fish on a hook. 

You show up at the appointed time and place. Akemi-san meets you there, her face impassive as she looks at you. Despite your anticipation, her gaze is somewhat chilly - almost far away. Still, she smiles.

"Thank you for waiting," she says. She's so polite, you think. All your friends will be so jealous once they find out. You kept it a secret throughout today, and you'll tell all of them about how your date with Akemi-san went tomorrow. Today, there is nothing but Akemi-san. She brushes a lock of black hair behind her ear. "Shall we go?"

The two of you eat at a cafe in the department store, Akemi-san picking at her food. You ask her all sorts of questions - what her hobbies are, what she likes to do for fun, what did she wants to be when she grows up. You talk on and on, words tumbling from your lips like a faucet pushed on. Akemi-san glances at you, eyes running over your body in a way that makes you feel weird - like you're being judged, evaluated, compared - but she doesn't say anything bad and she answers your questions normally. She is perfectly charming - she pays for the two of you and as she reaches for the bill your hands brush and you feel heat suffuse your cheeks. 

The feeling of her hand against yours, the brief, fleeting contact, stays there even after she withdrew. She gets up, glances at you again as she does. There is something hard in her gaze, something you don't understand.

"Do you want to see my apartment?" Akemi-san asks. 

She has her own apartment? You are surprised, but at the same time, not. Even though she's in middle school, the same age as you, Akemi-san just gives off this completely different feeling, this different aura. She is on a whole new plane. But of course you want to see her apartment. You nod and Akemi-san smiles and takes you there. The path is twisty and you do not really remember the way to get back to where you once were, once you are there. 

Akemi-san tells you not to worry, that she will take you back.

The inside is plain, an apartment room surrounding a low dining table. You are surprised by how mundane it actually looks. You expected finery and darkness and mystery, but instead, Akemi-san's apartment is perfectly normal. You must have said something about this, because Akemi-san is looking at you strangely. She examines you the way a mapmaker would examine a blank sheet of paper - running through remembered mountain ranges, calligraphy, legends.

Then, she kisses you, eyes closed. Your thoughts freeze, eyes widen. Her lips are softer than anything and this is your first kiss. You have no idea what to do, how to respond. Your heart beats fast, faster than anything. Akemi-san is gentle. She strokes your cheek. It is almost as though she is afraid to touch you. You try to respond the best you can, lips clumsy. You don't want to let down Akemi-san. Akemi-san's hands wander to your shoulders, then lower. Lower, lower, lower into increasingly unfamiliar territory. 

"Akemi-san," you stutter, and Akemi-san pulls back, eyes open. You can see a dark cast on her face, her eyes cold, and you instinctively pull back, frightened. Did you say something wrong? "I don't..." 

"Call me Homura," Akemi-san says. Her hands are still there, threateningly low on your body. You shift nervously. You did not expect this when you first came to her apartment, when she called you. In your fantasies you had never allowed things to go as far as this, so the possibility had never really crossed your mind. Akemi-san's eyes drill a hole through your own, searchingly, before she exhales and closes her eyes. She looks as though she is trying very hard to concentrate. 

"Homura...chan," you say, uncertainly. Akemi-san lets out a sigh. 

"Good enough," she mutters. You don't know what she means, but then she is leading you to a bed. She doesn't look at you as she undresses you. Her eyes are focused solely on your uniform. Her hands move so smoothly - had she done this before? You stand there, trembling. The cold goosebumps your skin and you shiver. Suddenly you want to be back home. You are young, but you know where this leads. You are not ready for this. Akemi-san was - is? - the school idol, the ideal, and you had - have? - a crush on her like everyone else, but this is too sudden, too new. Akemi-san is keeping her eyes lowered. It is almost as though she doesn't want to see you, but that can't be, right? 

It's not like this is bad though, you tell yourself. She is nice. She is gentle. She treats you like a delicate flower, a treasure. Her kisses are sweet and so sad your eyes tear up. She moves slowly, covering every inch of your skin. Her eyes stay closed throughout it all however, her expression controlled. Look at me, you want to say. If you're doing this to me, then please, look at me. As her lips move to between your legs, waves of empty pleasure surge through you. You gasp and moan, surprised and ashamed by the sounds coming out of your lips. You call her name when you come, the peak of pleasure bringing for a microsecond, in painfully perfect clarity, the realization that Akemi-san had never once called you by your name.

When it is over she dresses herself with practiced efficiency. You feel as though you had been through a rollercoaster. Legs jelly-like you dress yourself, pull back on your uniform. Akemi-san doesn't look at you as she leads you back to where you were, true to her word, and the two of you walk in a hazy silence. Your shoes clack loudly against the pavement, your mind blank. 

Eventually, the two of you reach the department store. You stare up at it as the lights on it blink out, one by one. You did not realize that it was so late. You check your cellphone - your friends had texted you. Apparently some of them saw you leaving with Akemi-san after school. They beg for details, and use cute emoticons and hearts. 

You stare at them and you know that you would not tell your friends anything about today. You turn towards Akemi-san. Her eyes are far away. She is not looking at you. 

"H-Homura-chan," you say, not sure how to go, how to leave.

"Don't call me that," she says, and that was the end of it all, really.

The next day, you don't talk to her, but your eyes track her movements, and her eyes, you see, are always focused on Kaname Madoka.