Tuesday morning started off a lot like Monday morning. Sano rubbed the sleep from his eyes, stood up, stretched, and turned around to shake Mizuki awake. Mizuki was sprawled on her back, her blankets a hopeless mess at the foot of her bunk. Her shirt was riding up, exposing a dangerous amount of soft, undeniably feminine skin. She grumbled and twisted in her sleep, and the hem of her shirt slid further up her ribs.
Sano closed his eyes, and counted to ten. Slowly.
"Sanooooo," Mizuki moaned. She sighed and flung an arm over her pillow. Another twist, toss or turn, and Mizuki risked exposure of more than one kind.
Sano tore his own blanket free from his bunk, and tossed it over Mizuki. His hands felt clammy. "Idiot," he said, as much to himself as Mizuki. "You have to be more careful."
Like the day before, and the day before that, Sano's shower was both brief and very, very cold. He made sure to dry off thoroughly. If Sano were incapacitated by a cold, he had no doubt that Mizuki would slip up and reveal her secret before Doctor Umeda had even pulled the thermometer from Sano's mouth. Sano caught sight of his own fondly exasperated expression in the mirror. He offered his mirror self a wry grin and tossed his damp towel into the basket by the door.
Mizuki had burrowed under Sano's blanket while he was in the shower. Only her mussed hair showed above the covers. If she didn't get up soon, Mizuki would be heading to class with a serious case of bed-head. Shaking her awake was risky--Sano took the chance of ending up with Mizuki's arm flung over his shoulder, sleep softened mouth a breath away from his own.
Sano tugged at the hem of his blazer. "Mizuki," he said.
Mizuki mumbled incomprehensible nonsense from beneath the covers. Experience suggested that she was begging for just five more minutes, mom, or trying to tell Sano that she didn't wanna get up. When she wasn't busy driving Sano crazy with want, Mizuki spent her time making Sano feel like a put-upon mom. It was a jarring shift.
Sano grabbed Mizuki's blazer from the back of her desk chair, and tossed it at her huddled form. "I'm leaving without you," he warned.
Mizuki emerged from her blankets slowly. "Don't leave," she said. "I'm coming, Sano!"
Sano looked at the floor rather than risk catching a glimpse of the soft skin of Mizuki's inner thighs, exposed by the shorts she'd worn to bed. There were mornings when Sano would have preferred rooming with Nakatsu. He was sure the sight of Nakatsu's bare legs flashing past him on the way to the bathroom wouldn't have left Sano with the urge to dunk his head in a basin of cold water.
Mizuki had left her folded clothes on top of her dresser. Sano had them ready when she opened the bathroom door a crack, and passed them to her wordlessly.
"Ah hah hah, I'm such a scatterbrain sometimes!" Mizuki said cheerfully.
"I've noticed," Sano said dryly.
Noodles hung from Nakatsu's mouth. Mizuki giggled into her cupped palm.
Sano hid his frown behind his glass of juice. Mizuki couldn't have sounded any more girlish at that moment if she'd tried. Nakatsu's cheeks were pink. His bright eyes were fixed on Mizuki. Nakatsu's intense concentration softened slowly, as his eyes grew soft and dreamy. The flush in his face intensified. His mouth slackened, and half-eaten noodles spilled onto the table.
"Gross, Nakatsu!" Sekime said, wiping at his noodle splattered sleeve with a napkin.
"What else do you expect from a monkey?" Noe laughed.
"Aw, shut up," Nakatsu muttered. He punched Noe in the shoulder. He was no longer looking at Mizuki.
Sano relaxed fractionally.
"Nakatsu," Mizuki said. "You have--" she pointed to her own mouth. Her lips were soft, and faintly pink from the cherry lipgloss Sano hadn't been able to convince her that guys shouldn't wear. Nakatsu followed Mizuki's pointing finger, transfixed.
Renewed tension made Sano's spine stiffen vertebrae by vertebrae.
"Here," Mizuki said. She pulled her own napkin from her lap, and leaned over the table to dab at Nakatsu's chin.
Nakatsu made a soft, startled sound. His face flamed.
Sano nudged Mizuki with his shoulder. When she turned to look at him, he plucked the napkin from her fingers and tossed it at Nakatsu. The napkin landed on Nakatsu's face. Sano tried not to take too much satisfaction in Nakatsu's indignant shout.
"He's a big boy," Sano told Mizuki. "Let him clean up after his own messes."
Later, on the way to class, Sano broached the subject again: "You shouldn't be so nice to Nakatsu."
Mizuki's bangs slid across her forehead as she tilted her head to look at Sano. Her chin was softly rounded, the column of her throat long and delicate. Her shirt collar hadn't been buttoned properly, and was starting to come undone. Buttoning his roommate's shirt for him in the middle of the hallway would be odd, Sano reminded himself. He kept his hands clasped loosely at his back.
"Guys," Sano said meaningfully, "aren't that nice."
"You are," Mizuki said.
Because you're you, Sano thought.
"It's not the same," Sano said. He dragged a hand through his hair, and tried to think of a way to make Mizuki understand. "We're roommates," he finally said. "Roommates have to look out for one another."
"Then I'll make sure to take good care of you!" Mizuki said, and laughed at Sano's frown.
Mizuki was waiting for him on the slope beyond the track field. She was curled in around herself, knees hugged to her chest to guard against the cold. The grass was damp, and Mizuki had used her jacket as makeshift blanket.
"You didn't have to wait," Sano told her.
"I wanted to. Watching you jump," Mizuki said, placing a hand to her chest, "always makes my heart pound. Sano, you're incredible!"
Sano rolled his head back to study the night sky. He hoped that his blush didn't show as clearly as he suspected it did. Mizuki didn't mean to sound like a dedicated girlfriend. She was too naive to realize what her passionate declarations of support sounded like. Some days, Mizuki's earnestly--innocently--smiling face was enough to drive Sano mad. Tonight, her presence brought a warm glow to his heart.
Friend or girlfriend, it was enough to have Mizuki at his side.
"Since practice is over, we should get back to the dorm. You're miserable when you get sick."
Mizuki stuck out her tongue. "I can take care of myself," she said.
Her foot began to slide out from under her on the wet grass as Mizuki rose. Mizuki tottered momentarily, arms wheeling, before Sano reached out to support her. His arm curled around her shoulders. Holding her felt natural. They probably looked like a boyfriend and girlfriend warmly embracing to the athletes on the field below them.
"That," Mizuki said, "didn't count."
"Of course not," Sano said solemnly. "I'm sure you had the situation perfectly in hand."
"I'm a strong guy, you know," Mizuki said, as she snuggled closer to Sano. "I'm a lot tougher than I look!"
"I know. I'm tired, though, tough guy," Sano said. "Let's get moving."
He matched his steps to Mizuki's. It took longer to reach the dorm with her tucked under his arm, but Sano didn't mind. It was a beautiful night, after all.