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The Black Wings Anthology

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Nana once again noticed Cooro glancing at her from the corner of her eye. It was kind of bothering her to be honest. She first noticed it a week ago, and if anything, it had gotten worse. It was putting her on the edge. She pretended not to notice though, and took another bite of her dinner.

They had arrived at Harden’s a few weeks ago, and while they had all reconciled, the events at Astar and Lilt were still on her mind. Was Cooro still upset about what she had said? She thought maybe he felt nervous around her, but he seemed to still enjoy her company.

She frowned slightly as they all sat around the dinner table. She felt like she had nobody else to talk to about this, except Husky. Miss Margaret and Mister Harden were nice, but they weren’t that close yet. Senri wasn’t the best conversationalist, and she felt even more nervous at the thought of asking Cooro straight up about it. She had no choice.

Still, she thought, I want to make sure everything is right. I don’t want anything wrong between us. I don’t want Cooro to be mad at me…

~

“Husky,” Nana said quietly. “There’s something that’s been bothering me…” She met him outside near the back of the house after dinner. It was nearly dark save for the last bits of twilight hanging in the air, and the faint glow of candle light from the windows.

“What is it?” he said, already apprehensive about this. He remembered the last time Nana had talked to him alone, the two of them finding the secret tunnel under the church altar.

Nana wrung her fingers. “It’s about Cooro…”

Oh no, Husky thought.

“He’s… he’s been looking at me a lot, and I don’t know why,” she lamented. “He hasn’t said anything to you, has he? Is he still upset about what I said back then? At the research facility?” She looked up at him expectantly.

Husky, however, gave her a puzzled look. What? This is what she wanted to talk to him about? He sighed and combed his fingers through his bangs. Now that she mentioned it, he had also noticed Cooro looking at Nana more often than usual recently. The thought irritated him. And the fact that it irritated him, irritated him even more.

Nana saw Husky’s unmasked annoyed expression, and her heart sank. He had surprised her before for not brushing off her thoughts as girlish and stupid. She thought they had really become friends. But was he really just the same girl-hater as always?

“No,” Husky finally sighed. “He hasn’t said anything like that to me. Not that he says that kind of stuff anyway.”

Nana sighed a little in relief as well. Okay, so he does still like me, she thought. Although, Husky was right. It was kind of hard to tell what Cooro was thinking; he could either be incredibly simpleminded or surprisingly insightful. They had all been made aware of that fact, but it still didn’t help her now.

“You should just ask him, Nana,” Husky continued. “I don’t know if you’ll get a straight answer, but it’s the best way to do it. He might be more open to us now anyway.”

She nodded. “Yeah,” she mumbled, looking down.

Husky moved to go back inside. “In any case,” he said over his shoulder, “I don’t think he hates you or anything.”

~

It was a while before Nana actually got up the courage, and had the right moment, to ask Cooro. She had volunteered to help Cooro and Husky fish. Now the crow boy and her were alone, flying over a lake while Husky hunted their corralled prey below.

“Hey, Cooro…,” she began.

“Hmm?” The boy looked up at her.

Nana panicked. How do I say this? Any premade words she had planned vanished. “We’re still friends, right?” No, not like that!

“I mean, um,” she started over, fiddling with her hair, “You’re not… mad at me, are you?”

“Huh?” Cooro stared at her, kinda slack-jawed. “No..? Why would you think that?”

“Ah, um, well, I’ve just noticed you’ve been… staring… at me a lot lately, and I was just wondering… if something was wrong,” she stuttered. Gosh, that sounded even weirder! She wanted to fly away and have this conversation never happen.

Cooro brushed the back of his head “Oh… have I?” he said sheepishly. Nana nodded.

“Sorry…! But don’t worry, Nana. I really am happy to be with you,” he smiled.

Nana suddenly felt lighter. A smile melted on her face. “Me too,” she said. A soft silence surrounded them.

“Hey!” Husky called out. The two of them almost jumped out of their skins. Husky was glaring at them from the water. “Why are you guys just standing around here for? I need your help!”

“But we’re not standing, Husky~,” Cooro grinned, swooping down above the fish boy.

Husky’s face had a mini convulsion. “Whatever! You know what I mean. C’mon, let’s get this done already.”

“Okaaaay,” Cooro sang, flying higher again. Husky looked up at Nana, raising an eyebrow. She smiled, giving him a thumps up and a look that she hoped said ‘I’ll tell you later.’ He sighed a little, watching as she also flew off. He figured that’s what was happening. He submerged his head under the water.

Nana searched for more little fish. She glanced at Cooro, and their eyes met. She was fine with it.