Chapter 1: Explosions and All That Dumb Shit
Reaching for the knob, Am opened her door.
“Nice to see you again.”
“Hey, Am. Got any snacks that actually taste okay?”
“So how much did you say you’re making, again?”
“Missed you too, Luna. Tokoha, have you met your taste buds? And that’s not why I work my job, Kumi, so stop asking.”
Kumi and Tokoha frowned at Am. “Whatever,” Kumi muttered.
“Hey, hey, Am? Can we share a seat again? That was really fun last time…”
Am blushed, pushing the memory of Luna’s mouth on hers to the back of her head. She did not need Tokoha or Kumi to start teasing them, especially with how open Luna was.
“I have enough for everyone. Are you sure it won’t be uncomfortable?”
“Of course not! It’s your lap, Am!”
Kumi started snickering in the background, Tokoha wiggling her eyebrows at Am.
“Well… okay, but you can always change your mind.”
“I’ve got chips and popcorn, plus I think there’s some chocolate in the pantry. You done judging my taste in movies there, you two?” Luna took that as a sign to pull her cushion behind Tokoha and Kumi, winking at Am.
“It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. How is Kamikaze Girls for tonight? It’s acceptable, considering its B-movie status.”
“Bring a movie next time if you’re so picky.”
“Bring a movie next time if you’re so picky,” Tokoha mimicked, rolling her eyes.
“Hey! My apartment, my rules!”
Kumi spoke next. “Oh, so we leave when Luna starts giving you the really intense heart eyes? I mean, she’s always looking at you like you’re a fresh batch of her favorite cream puffs, but once it’s about double as strong?”
Luna could feel her face heating up, and a quick look to an Am that was looking back towards the kitchen confirmed that she wasn’t the only one getting embarrassed.
“I mean, we may be together, but we can keep things from getting all personal when needed.”
“Exactly! Luna and I are great at it! We’ve never been walked in on at work for anything more intense than a cheek kiss! That’s a pretty good track record!”
Kumi playfully elbowed Tokoha a few times. “Let me guess, you know how to lock a door.”
Am turned to try to glare at Kumi, failing miserably. “Kumi!” She then turned to grab some food from the kitchen. “Next time, I can always have Chrono over. He has decent taste in flicks and he won’t be a jerk to Luna.”
“Yeah, you could, or you could invite someone who knows not to blab about you and your wife over there in earshot of any camera holders.
"Kumi’s got you beat there, Am!” Luna chimed in.
“Not really. She called you my w-… uh, do I have to say it?”
“That depends. Luna, you and Am keep acting super married, right?”
“I mean… I guess sometimes our relationship feels a bit on the mature side, especially when you offer to take the couch if I miss the last train for the night…”
“I totally get what you mean! Tokoha lets me take her bed and uses a sleeping bag if I ever stay over too late when we marathon a show!”
“Oh?” Am got a rather mischievous smile on her face. “That’s rather nice of her. You two must get along really, really well.” Tokoha blushed.
“Yeah, you could say I appreciate how much of a gal pal she can be to me if she likes,” Kumi added, grinning.
Luna and Am exchanged knowing looks. “Oh, yeah. That must be nice for you. Tokoha is totally your type of gal pal, Kumi,” Luna added.
“Okay, okay. Enough of this. What about the romance in the room, huh? I wanna hear about Am and Luna!”
Kumi pouted as Luna turned to give Am a quick kiss. “About that well,” she said, watching Am get a huge grin on her face.
Kumi grinned. “It must be going well, if Am’s giving you a look like that. Hey, Tokoha, how long do you think it’ll be before we get a wedding invite? One month? Two? It can’t be more than three…”
Tokoha focused back on the conversation at the word wedding. “Huh? Wedding? No way! It’s way too soon for that! There needs to be enough d-dating time first, and that can take a long time! A really, really long time, Kumi!”
“Not when you’ve been dating for nearly a year. Then again, it is a bit soon for Am,” Luna told her.
“What? Oh, uh… right. I meant that Am’s slow with this stuff, given her whole shyness. You’ll have to ease her into marriage if you want that with her, so you’d better be ready to be waiting for a really long time, Luna.”
“Thanks for the advice, Tokoha,” Luna said in a tone that told Am she didn’t believe that Tokoha had meant that at all. Am didn’t believe what Tokoha said about any of that herself.
She wasn’t that bad about pacing, just a little bit on the slow side. Hell, if Luna offered, she might even agree, starting in a couple of months. It was just better to wait a little bit.
“Anyways, Tokoha, Kumi, don’t mind Am and I. If we start kissing during the film, just tell us to leave, and we will.”
Am grinned. “Yeah, it’s not like we’ll be making any noise. Luna gets too involved in anything action-y for me to get in more than a cheek kiss or two, anyways, so you two should be pretty safe.”
Tokoha started flipping through the Vanguard Movies. “I heard there was a Bite Fight spin-off, but we could also try that Dark Zone set of thrillers or we could try a nice romance flick?”
Kumi grinned. “I wanna watch Neo Garden. It’s supposed to have the cutest side couple!” She winked at Tokoha.
Tokoha quickly took the remote. “Nope-not-in-the-mood-for-a-romance-wanna-see-explosions-and-all-that-dumb-shit.”
Am and Luna exchanged looks.
Luna gave Am’s hand a quick squeeze. Am gave Luna’s two quick squeezes back before she turned to wink at her.
“Ready?” she asked.
Am nodded, blushing.
Luna took one look at Kumi and Tokoha, sharing the couch, before moving closer to Am. She pressed her mouth to Am’s, leaning in. Am quickly leaned back, falling to the ground with a thump as Luna climbing on top of her. Luna gave Am a few quick kisses on the lips before moving to Am’s cheek, then letting the kisses drift to Am’s jawline. Am started giggling.
Kumi looked over. “I thought you two said you’d keep it in your pants?”
Tokoha took one glance over before looking away, trying to avoid imagining herself and Kumi like that.
“It is in our pants, Kumi. See? Pants on!” Luna grinned.
“Whatever. If you’re going to be like that, get a room.”
Luna looked to Am. “Stay or leave?”
Am grinned. Plan successful. “Leave?” She winked at Luna, making sure that Kumi could see.
Luna quickly stood, helping Am up. The two made their way to Am’s bedroom, closing the door behind them.
“Okay, we need to get them together. You and Kumi hang out a lot, so how do you think she’ll react?”
Luna frowned. “She won’t confess, even if she knows it’s mutual. We need Tokoha to be the one to tell.”
“Shoot. Tokoha’s way shyer than I am.”
They frowned. Am crossed her arms, lowering her head and closing her eyes. Luna started pacing.
After a minute, they both looked to each other, grins on their faces. “Swap!” they exclaimed in unison.
“You go with Kumi…” Luna began.
“Right, and you with Tokoha.”
The two grinned, shaking hands before they kissed.
“Oh, by the way, earlier? You should do that to me when we’re alone next time,” Am said. “It was pretty hot.”
Chapter 2: I Simply Have the Best Standards
Am stepped into the mall, tossing her empty juicebox into the trash on the way. Her sunglasses were still needed ever since her and Luna had decided to earn their degrees at a local university while keeping their Rummy Labyrinth job, which had been quite the adventure for both her and Luna. Ignoring one of her waving classmates, she made her way to the nearest coffee shop, knowing Kumi would be waiting there.
Sure enough, Kumi was quickly spotted walking out with a drink in her hand. Am quickened her pace, careful not to lose sight of Kumi as she weaved her way through the crowd. At least her disguise seemed to be working on the rest of the crowd.
Kumi stopped at the mall’s map, scanning the stores. Am took the chance to catch up to her, tapping her on the shoulder.
Kumi’s back straightened as she swiveled, putting a heart over her hand. “Oh! It’s just you. Phew…”
Am grinned. “Just me? What am I now, chopped liver?”
Kumi shrugged, taking a sip of her coffee. She turned back to the map. “Okay, so I was thinking that I need new cards. Know where the best shop for singles is here?”
Am grinned. “I guess you’ve really done your research if you’re asking to hunt down a bunch of singles.”
Kumi took a sip of her drink, shrugging.
After tossing her juicebox into the trash, Luna threw on one of Am’s shirts. Surely she wouldn’t mind too much, especially after Luna left her own for Am drying outside.
Really, it was a totally fair trade. Luna grinned at the mental image of Am using it, shy but still trying to stay composed.
There was a knock at the door.
“Coming!” Luna ignored the extra knocks, opening the door as soon as she approached. “Hey, Tokoha.”
She waved at Luna. “Nice to see- oooh, someone’s had a rather lucky day.”
“Shut up, Tokoha. It’s none of your business.”
Tokoha wiggled her eyebrows. “Right. Not my job to know if it was a pleasure doing business with Am for you. Totally got the memo.”
Luna grinned. “I’d say exactly, but given what that would imply… Okay, so I did want a bit of advice about Am.”
“I knew it! You’re popping the question, aren’t you?”
“No!” Luna put her hands in front of her defensively. “I just want… to live with her, but I know what she might think. How do I ask without seeming too, uh, pushy?”
Tokoha gasped. Her hand flew to her mouth, eyes wide. “… You’re going to live with her? Oh, that is great! I’m so happy for you, Luna!”
“Well, I won’t live with her if she doesn’t agree to it. That’s why I want to make sure to bring it up in a way that actually will sound appealing to her.”
“Well, that depends on what you’re hoping will come out of living together.” Tokoha tilted her head. “Do you know what that is, exactly?”
“I just want to be closer to her. I feel like I’m already close, but something seems a bit lacking in, well, ability to show that intensity.”
“Ah. You want to feel more attached to her, but don’t want her recoiling. She was always weak to you, so I don’t see what the problem is.”
“You do remember when I had to go to college, right?”
Tokoha raised her eyebrows, looking to the side. “Oh, right. That bullshit.”
“It wasn’t- Okay, it kind of was.”
“You’re telling me. I was ready to slap her for that the second I saw your reaction.”
Luna grabs at her sides. “I… don’t want that to happen again.”
Tokoha steps forward, putting a hand on Luna’s shoulder. “Look, it’s in the past. Am was being a dumb scaredy-cat, and now you two can be together forever.”
Luna gave Tokoha a weak smile. “I’d… like that.”
Kumi stirred her smoothie with her straw, staring at it as Am held her water with both hands, biting her lip. Looking up, Kumi raised an eyebrow at her.
Am took a deep breath. She figured it was best to ask Kumi sooner than later, so she could at least make some semblance of progress. “Have you considered confessing to Tokoha?”
“I mean it! She’s into you!”
Kumi shrugged. “Probably, but if she wants me, she’d better admit it.”
Am did a double-take. “Excuse you?”
“Well, she’d better not expect me to tell her.”
Am rolled her eyes. “Ugh, could you get off your high horse?”
Kumi grinned. “Nope. I like the view from up here.” She stopped stirring, sliding the straw in her mouth to take a few sips of smoothie.
Moving her hand to cover her eyes, Am sighed. “You’re incorrigible, you know that?” She wondered if she was even going to be able to get Kumi to tell Tokoha. She’d known Kumi was stubborn, but not to this extent. At this rate, they’d end up single for years before Kumi finally confessed. Worse, one or both would move on without even trying to make a relationship work.
The possibility hit a bit too close to home for Am.
“I don’t want to hear that, Am. I simply have the best standards.”
Am let her forehead rest on the table. “Ugh.”
“More importantly, Tokoha, have you managed to romance up Kumi yet? You’re always teasing Am and I, so it’s only fair I ask.”
Luna gave Tokoha a wink as she said that, a sly grin on her face. Tokoha could tell she was blushing.
“I-I’m not ready to tell her! It’s different than with you and Am!”
Luna raised her eyebrows at her. “Oh? I was under the impression you were just too chicken to ‘fess up.”
Tokoha crossed her legs, scratching at one of them with her foot. “It’s… why are you even asking me this? Am never tries to talk to me about my love life.”
“Lack of a love life, Tokoha. Which you need to fix.”
Tokoha bit her lip. Luna seemed like the type that would blab to Kumi without realizing it. Could she really risk that? It could mean losing her best friend, the one who had been so willing to stay by her side through her various whimsical side-journeys. She didn’t want to lose Kumi.
She also didn’t want to lose the weekly Nishi Bakery runs they’d been sharing, given how good the croquette bread tasted.
“Look, you can’t tell her.”
Tokoha raised an eyebrow. That was surprisingly easy.
“Okay, fine. You caught me. It’s not like I can just risk everything. I mean, when you and Am bumped into each other in that lecture hall, it’s not like either of you had anything to lose.”
“I had a lot to lose the first time, and you know it.”
Tokoha craned her neck, eyes darting to the ceiling. “You get my point, Luna. You and Am had to stay together in some way or other when you told her.”
“Fine, but I did lose her once. You know that as well as I do.”
Tokoha sighed, fighting back tears. “…But you two are meant to be. Kumi and I… aren’t.”
She didn’t have it in her to care that her voice had cracked.
Luna reached to Tokoha, placing her hand on Tokoha’s arm. “Tokoha, I, well, it’s not like you have to tell her this instant. We can help you make sure you won’t lose her for good.”
“Luna, that’s so sweet of…” wait, we? Shit, Am was in on this! Tokoha dropped the small smile that had come to her face out of sheer annoyance at Am’s usual indirect tactics. “Yeah, thanks.”
Luna smiled back at Tokoha, oblivious. “No problem, Tokoha. Just let me know what you need to feel comfortable confessing to Kumi, and I’ll do everything I can so we can work on this together.”
Tokoha was already trying to think of a way to one-up Am. “Really, Luna. Thank you,” she deadpanned.
Chapter 3: I’ve Called You the Hot Friend Before
Pulling out two mugs from the cupboard, Am turned to Luna. Setting them down, she asked, “Hey, how’d it go with Tokoha?”
Luna shrugged. “Okay. It’ll take time. Kumi?”
“Stubborn as a mule. Proud of it, too. It’s annoying.”
Luna went over to Am, giving her a quick kiss. “Well, we have time.”
Grinning, Am pulled out a couple teabags from the jar on the counter. Throwing one in each mug before putting them back, she thought about how to get Kumi to be open to the idea of confessing first. They might need it, given Tokoha’s tendency to get cold feet at the thought of a rejection.
“Huh?” She grabbed the mugs off the counter, bringing them over to the water that was boiling on the stovetop.
“You do realize they’ve been into each other for ages, right?”
“Yeah, I know.”
“So this isn’t a small crush. We have time.”
Am sighed. “I know, but… I don’t want them to turn out like we could’ve.”
Luna stepped behind Am, wrapping her arms around her. “I know. They won’t, Am. We won’t let them.” She rested her head on one of Am’s shoulders.
Am finished pouring water in the cups. “Green or Oolong?”
“Oolong. Do we have some sugar for it?”
Am tilted her head, grinning at Luna. “I can give you a little sugar.”
Luna lifted her head, leaning in for a kiss. Am giggled, and they shared a few more quick kisses.
Luna smirked. “That was rather sweet of you. Can I get a little more?”
“Take as much as you need.”
Kumi reached to her deck, flipping over the first card. “Get, draw trigger! Power goes to my right-hand rear guard!”
Luna looked to the cards in her hand. As long as Kumi didn’t get a critical, she’d manage to avoid betting on a heal.
“Second Check.” Kumi flipped over the next card. No trigger. “Third check.” Again, triggerless.
“Boost and Attack!”
“No guard. Damage check.” A Harri found its way into Luna’s damage zone.
Kumi sighed, looking at the six cards in her hand. She had a total of 25,000 in guards, plus a perfect guard. But to use the perfect guard, she’d have to lose a 5,000 guard or her grade three. If only she hadn’t drawn two triggers, maybe one of them could have shown up on her drive check and made her able to defeat Luna!
“Stand and draw.” Luna quickly threw her Masquerade Bunny into her drop zone, flipping a Prana onto her Vanguard Circle. She then flipped over the card in her damage zone, soulcharged, and pulled out a Cutie Paratrooper. She soulcharged again, putting a Lappin in front of the Paratrooper. Flipping over a card that was face-up in her damage zone, she put a Dagger Magician Ety on the other side, then moved a Lovely Companion in front of it.
Kumi started trying to calculate everything out. She might make it, but if Luna pulled a single stand or critical… Three 5,000s, a 10,000, and a perfect guard. Could she make it through to the next turn?
“So, Kumi, I’ve been meaning to ask you… how has Tokoha been? I feel like I’ve been distant from her recently.” Luna turned her Paratrooper and Lappin, then pointed to Kumi’s Vanguard. “16… plus ten… 26,000.”
Kumi put her 10,000 and two of her 5,000 cards into the G circle. “Not bad. You two spend a decent amount of time together, so I wouldn’t be too worried about you and Tokoha drifting apart. Did something happen between you and Am yet?” Kumi moved the cards out of the circle.
“Maybe I’m just stressing over this living situation. How do you date someone for a year and not move in together? Especially with another year and a half before that?” Luna twisted her vanguard.
Kumi threw away her grade three to Perfect Guard. “Am is really shy, and she’s really slow. I mean, I’m fairly sure neither of you have ever had sex, thanks to that, so what do you expect?”
Luna bit her lip. She turned over the first card of her drive check, then moved it to her hand. The second revealed a stand, so she stood her Lappin. “Well, I can certainly follow that logic, but it’s…” As Luna flipped over the third drive check, which was triggerless, Kumi glared at her deck, trying to scare it into having a heal trigger as the top card.
Luna turned her Lappin sideways again. Kumi did a damage check, getting a critical trigger. “Ugh!”
Luna thanked her lucky stars. “Nice game. Hey, how have things been with Tokoha for you? She hasn’t said anything about me spending too much time with Am the past couple of months?”
“What’s happened the past couple of months?”
Luna blushed. “I’ve been trying to spend time around Am. You know, staying a little bit later in hopes of her wanting me to at least take the couch?”
“Hinting. Good idea. You deserve to have her ask you to stay overnight, and she’d better offer the other side of her bed. I don’t care if she asks for a row of pillows down the middle, long as you get what you deserve.”
“Thanks.” Luna rubbed at the back of her neck.
Kumi raised an eyebrow. “Are you telling me you haven’t noticed?”
Tokoha tilted her head. “Noticed what?”
“Am and Luna. They’re up to no good.”
Tokoha frowned. “No good?”
“Yeah. They’re trying to play matchmaker, yet they won’t take a single ever-so-important hint to help their own relationship. If they’re going to be setting others up, then they need to accept outside help their selves.”
Tokoha grinned. “Are we the outside help?”
“Nice. So what are we doing for them?”
Kumi pulled out her phone. “Let’s start typing up an exact plan. First, we need a goal for them.”
“Am’s not ready for a bedroom life with Luna, is she?”
“They’ve probably started recently, but kept quiet. I’m thinking that if they’re that far along, they might as well go all the emotional way.”
Tokoha scratched at her head. “The emotional way?”
Kumi pointed to her ring finger. “They’ll probably be ready in three… no, two months. But if we intervene, we can half that time, no problem.”
Tokoha’s jaw dropped. “Half it? I doubt that.”
Kumi gave her a blank look. “Are you doubting me?”
She blushed. “No, no. I’m doubting mys-“
“You really need to stop that, too. You could probably pick whoever you want, and save for say, a straight gal or a gay guy, you’d be able to woo them pretty quickly if you just be yourself.”
“You think?” Tokoha tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, smiling at Kumi.
Kumi smirked at her. “I’ve called you the hot friend before on occasion.”
Tokoha’s face flushed at that. “Kumi…”
“So? You have any potential picks you wanna tell me about or not?”
Tokoha looked down at her phone, typing in the basic details of what Kumi had just said. “I…”
She forced herself to shut up. Focusing on Kumi, she looked her down, studying Kumi’s knowing face. Tokoha couldn’t get a good enough read on Kumi to know what she was hiding, but it wasn’t like Kumi could hide everything from here.
“So what was that about getting those lovebirds to tie the knot?”
Kumi gave Tokoha a judgemental look.
Chapter 4: I Fucking Apologize
“Hey, hey, Am. How are you feeling?”
Rolling over, Am turned to face Luna. “Feeling?”
She grins at her. “Yeah. You look cute when you’re tired. Though you might want to change shirts before you leave.”
Looking down, Am blushed. That was way too wrinkled for her own good, and her hair had to be an utter mess. “Oh.” Now she was awake. “Oh, uh… it’s, uh…”
“Evening. You kind of crashed. Did you want dinner before you left?”
“Actually, I was hoping I could take you out to eat.” Am grinned at Luna sheepishly. “If you don’t mind my horrid excuse for date clothes, apparently?”
Luna grinned at her. “You can borrow mine. It’ll set a mood.”
Am blushed. She pulled the blankets closer to her, suddenly very intent on staring at the ceiling.
She got out of bed, then went to the closet, shutting the door behind her.
“Boo!” Luna told Am. “Here at the Pale Moon Circus, we love a good show!”
Luna could hear Am giggling from the other side of the door. “You’ll get a more family-friendly one later, love!”
She grinned at that. “Oh, I’m sure I will. Do you want one?”
Am slid on a new shirt, turning to look at the bottoms. Now which one would Luna find the cutest?
No, she should think about which one looked cutest on Luna. It didn’t take her long to find a suitable skirt thinking that way, which she quickly slid on.
“Hey, Luna?” She opened the closet door.
Luna wolf-whistled. “Nice.”
Am blushed. “You like it?”
“I love it, Am. It looks amazing on you… even if I wonder how it’d look-”
“Luna, I get it. You’re into me like that. Now can we go get you something to eat?”
The shop was surprisingly quiet for the late afternoon, but neither Tokoha or Kumi saw any point in complaining. In fact, it rather helped them. Carrying their drinks over to the table, Tokoha watched Kumi walking in front of her, letting her eyes wander just a little bit.
Kumi turned around to face her. “So we’ve agreed on a game plan?”
“Good. Am seems to be spending more time with me so Luna can talk to you. I think that means we can use this to our advantage.”
She nodded again, sitting down.
“And your plans for talking to Luna just to be safe are…”
She frowned. “Uh… I’ll approach the topic after she feels she’s made progress talking to me. She’ll be in a better mood, and she can’t interpret it as me trying to dodge her advice. I doubt it’ll be needed, but with Luna, you never know if she’s going to try to joke her way out of it or not.”
“Right. Am, on the other hand… she’s shy, but she’ll at least take it seriously. I can approach her more easily, since she won’t feel like she can brush off what we’re talking about with one quick sentence.”
Tokoha grins. “You’re really smart, Kumi, you know that?”
“I know. Still nice to hear it, though.”
Tokoha looked at her cup of coffee, taking it in her hands. “Then let me know when to tell you.”
Kumi grinned. “Once or twice a week. Maybe more if you want something from me. And I expect you to say it like you mean it.” She winked at Tokoha, who laughed nervously.
Tokoha took a sip of her latte.
“Look, Am, you’ve gotta work with me here.” Kumi leaned over the case, checking on the new units.
“Not happening until you work with me first. Can’t you at least hint to Tokoha properly? We all know you two are gonna be great together.”
Kumi rolled her eyes. “Only if she can confess. Otherwise, it wasn’t meant to be. She won’t be able to handle me if she can’t tell me that she wants me.”
Am blushed, looking away. “How are you even that bold yet so single?”
“Standards, Am. I’d tell you to try having them if you hadn’t chosen Luna.”
Am grinned at that. “So you think I have standards.”
Kumi shrugged, raising her brows. “To an extent. You do have to work on your cowardice first…”
Am bit her lip, looking to the wall. “I… I know.”
“Have you considered popping the question?” Kumi started waving over Chrono so she could buy some new units.
“Look, all you gotta do is bring up getting hitched with her. We both know she’ll say yes, so what’s even holding you back, damn it?”
“I fucking apologize.”
Chrono, who had just pulled out his copy of the case’s key, started snickering from behind the counter.
“Real mature, you two. Don’t expect me to buy you these cards, Kumi.”
Kumi leaned in, a sly smile on her face. “Fine. Don’t expect any help when you decide to get hitched with Luna, then.”
Am paused, trying to calculate a response.
“Oh, is she thinking about it?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Chrono. She wants to, but doesn’t know if she should look that desperate or not. I mean, she’s already clearly way in love, so I have no clue what the holdup is.”
Chrono grinned, sliding open the case. “So what’ll it be?”
Kumi pointed to a couple of units. “Should I just start with two of each?”
“Hm, it depends on your deck balance and how confident you are that you know what’s going to work. At least, that’s what fighters like Kazuma and Shion often mutter about when they come in to buy new cards.” Chrono rubbed his neck, looking to the register.
Am went to look at Kumi’s selection. “A third of the grade two would probably help, but the G-zone is something that could use a little variety, and Kumi tends to ignore that.” She then walked to the register, both Chrono and Kumi watching her silently.
“You’ve won free trading cards!” Kumi whispered when she was confident Am was out of earshot. Am gave her a look telling Kumi her confidence was misplaced, but had already started pulling out her debit card.
Chrono grabbed the cards, sliding copies of the same unit into the same protecters. “Congrats, then. Long as there’s payment, I really don’t care, so, uh… good luck with Am not chastising your language.”
Tokoha stepped into Card Capital 2, scanning the aisles quickly for any good Neo Nectar boosters. She was pretty sure she wouldn’t find anything too good, but hopefully she could buy a pack or two and get a lucky draw. Passing by the card display with not so much as glancing at its contents, she found her way to the Zoo boosters recently released. Picking up one of the sealed boxes, she checked the back for the unit list to see how good her odds were of getting something worthwhile.
“Oh, Tokoha. Surprised you weren’t here with Kumi and Am earlier. Is something going on with Am and Luna?”
Tokoha looked up from the box- not the best booster for her Ahsha deck, anyways- and set it down. “Oh, Chrono. Hey.”
“So? What’s happening with the happy couple?”
Tokoha felt her face heating up. “H-happy couple? It’s, uh. Well, you see…”
“Oh, so something is happening with them. Come on, you’re both good wingwomen for them. Spill.”
Oh. “Uh, I don’t know. I think something might happen soon, but they’ve been kind of secretive about their own relationship recently, so…”
Chrono nodded. “That makes sense. They don’t like too many personal details leaking to the rags, do they?”
“You think it’s work related?”
He shrugged. “Maybe?”
Tokoha rolled her eyes. Ugh. “Look, they’ve been… different… lately. I’m just a bit worried, y’know?”
“Tokoha… if they’re hiding news, it’s probably a big event for FIVA, right?”
She scratched her forehead with a finger. “Hm… maybe. They’ve just been talking about others’ love lives, which they don’t tend to do.”
Chrono raised an eyebrow. “Tell them I’m fine staying married to the fancy cardboard.”
Tokoha laughed at that. “Will do, Chrono. Hey, any good Neos in recently.”
He frowned, letting his teeth show. “Not for Ahsha, unless you’re thinking about your trigger balance and effects?”
Tokoha shrugged. “I think I’ll check back later. Oh, let me know if there’s any good Battle Sister units soon.”
That’s weird. Doesn’t Kumi play that deck? “Uh, sure.”
“See you then, Chrono!” With that, Tokoha left the store, ready to grab some coffee.
Chapter 5: A House in Gutter City
Kumi shifted through her deck, starting to sort her cards by grade. The different piles started to build as she quickly managed to thin her deck down, so she started by reaching for her grade threes, sorting them by alphabetical order. Then came the grade twos, which were handled in the same way. The grade ones had the perfect guards in front, then she used the same order for the rest of the cards, and the grade zero cards were sorted by trigger type first.
She started shifting through her main deck, trying to check its balance. She felt like she was using too many of the same basic cards, and her deck didn’t seem very open to having only a few different options.
Setting down her deck, Kumi sighed. Relying on Tokoha for the umpteenth time while she tried to make her get a clue wasn’t exactly fun, especially with Tokoha never taking a single hint. Am’s card advice had run well enough for a small power-up, but without someone that was used to the way Oracle Think Tank was built to run, maybe she wouldn’t stand a chance at rearranging her deck. After nearly losing her chance at the finals during that tournament some years back, she thought she’d managed to get stronger, but so had the game.
Picking up the phone, she took a deep breath. Maybe she needed to talk to someone who nearly never looked at her deck. She’d only been given the number, but never had a proper chance to use it. Sure, sometimes she got a bit worried about her attitude towards Tokoha, but surely Tokoha would be too stubborn to settle for someone she didn’t actually have feelings for, right?
She started texting.
“Hey, uh, Luna?”
Luna looked up at Am from their weekly idol schedule, noticing Am’s puzzled look on her face as she clicked on a link with their laptop’s mouse. “Yeah, love?”
Am grinned, biting her lip. She scrolled a bit, then clicked and typed for a few keystrokes before continuing to scroll. “Uh…”
“You can talk to me about anything, Am. You know that, right?”
“I-I know. I just, well, it’s kind of a tough thing to talk about. I don’t know how you’ll, uh, feel?”
Luna set down the sheet of paper. “Then take your time if you need. I love you, so… I don’t want you to feel like you’ve pushed yourself into anything.”
“I love you, too.” She turned back to their computer, clicking a few more things before getting out of her chair. “Should I start on making us something?”
“If you’d like. Do you need anything from me?” Luna moved to get out of her chair, but Am held out her hand towards her.
“I’ll be fine. Of course, if you’d like to watch… you in the mood for anything specific, or should I just throw something together?”
“Well…” Luna headed over to Am, sliding her arms around Am’s abdomen from behind. “How do I put this?”
“You’d like something sweet?”
“Well, that’s always true. You know how much of a sweet tooth I have, right?”
Am grinned, tilting her head. Luna leaned in, kissing Am. Am kissed back with short but strong kisses, Luna holding tighter to Am as she responded. Am moved a hand over Luna’s, lacing their fingers together. It took them a few minutes to part.
“Well, that was definitely sweet.”
Am grinned. “Was it? I can try to make something sweeter for you.”
“Oh, I’m sure I could eat something sweeter than that if you wanted me to.” She gave Am a quick wink. “Let me know when dinner’s ready, and leave the dishes for me as a thank you?”
“Sure, but can I at least get to the fridge first? I need to check on the ingredients.”
Luna let Am go reluctantly. “Fine.” She then moved her hand to Am’s butt, giving it a quick squeeze as Am blushed noticeably.
“L-L-Luna? D-Did you j-just… are w-we… uh, um…”
“Let me know if you need a hand with anything, Am.”
It took Am about five minutes to stop overthinking things enough to start preparing dinner.
Pulling out her phone, Saya checked it for messages. She had a few from Luna, one from Am, another from Tokoha, some business updates, and one from… Kumi? She hadn’t expected that.
Tapping on the chat, Saya pulled up the message. Oh, so that’s what she wants. I wonder why she’s asking me, she thought. She started typing, quickly sending a reply to Kumi. Checking her schedule, she used that information to send another text to Kumi, then set down her phone.
Time to check the fridge. She spotted a few frozen things she could zap quickly, but that wasn’t a very good idea, and the only other current contents were leftovers. Oh well. She’d been given Am and Luna’s spare housekey for a reason.
Am would probably be cooking right about now, and she always made more than enough. Now where were those spare popcorn kernels she could bring as a surprise gift in exchange for a properly cooked meal? Oh, there. Exiting her own apartment, she turned left towards where she knew the girlfriends would be, ready to ring their doorbell. Surely they wouldn’t mind, and it’s not like she would be interrupting at this hour. Approaching the door, she scratched the idea of ringing the doorbell for a quick few knocks. She heard footsteps, along with Luna calling out something to her she couldn’t quite understand.
“Hey. Oh, Saya!” Luna smiled at her. “C’mon in. Am’s making curry.”
“Oh, are you sure? I’d only meant to bring over some spare kernels. I thought the two of you would enjoy-“
“We know why you’re here, so go ahead.”
“Just for that, you’re considered the in-law,” Saya muttered, stepping into their apartment. Luna simply grinned, imagining what it would be like to have actual in-laws. At least they were awake now. “Hey, Am! Nice to see myu!”
Am started laughing. “Saya! Well this is a surprise. Hey, set your place if you want to stay for curry.”
Saya licked her lips, looking at the pot. The rice cooker was also open, the fresh rice making her even more hungry. “Don’t mind if I do! Hey, I brought over kernels for some popcorn. Why don’t you two enjoy some over that long weekend we’ve scored? Maybe with a nice romantic movie?”
Am grinned at that. “Well, we’ve already got plans for tomorrow. Maybe we’ll have to save some for a rainy day…”
“Ooh, rainy day! Hey, Am, remember our last rainy day?”
Am blushed. “I, uh. I kind of do.”
Luna grinned at Am. “So should I refresh your memory later?”
Saya was standing on the side, a huge smile on her face. She watched Luna wink at Am, who in response stared at the rice.
“L-Luna! It wasn’t like we went… Saya’s going to get the wrong idea!”
“Oh? And what, praytell, is the wrong idea?” Luna took a step forward. Am’s face was flushed by now, focused on her socks.
“N-nothing! I just… Saya’s our guest, Luna! We need to be polite!”
Saya shrugged. “I’m totally used to Luna’s style of flirting, Am. You two are kind of adorable.”
Am turned off the stove. “Look, how about we just eat our curry?”
Saya turned to Luna, who nodded. “…Fine. But feel free to let me know if I need to leave because you two decided you’d rath-“
“Please don’t finish that sentence. You’re starting to sound like Kumi.”
Saya tilted her head. “Kumi?”
“Her brain bought a house in Gutter City and refuses to move.”
Luna started laughing. She gave Am a quick thumbs-up.
“A house in… fine. Let’s just eat.” Saya pulled out her chair, sitting in it. Am and Luna quickly followed suit, Luna taking a deep breath. Am reached for Luna’s hand, giving it a light squeeze before letting go.
“Hey, how off do you think Kumi is?” Luna asked.
Am cleared her throat. “We’re not discussing that at the dinner table.”
Saya exchanged a knowing glance with Luna.
“Okay, love. If you say so.”
Chapter 6: My Beautiful Face Makes Your Nerd Self Look Better
“Kumi! Hey, Kumi!”
She looked across the campus to see a hand waving at her. The campus all turned with Kumi to notice the gal who had called out to her, which she used as a chance to get closer to Kumi.
“Am?” She stood on her tiptoes. “That you!”
“Yep!” Am moved past the last small group of people between her and Kumi rather easily. It was clear that being an idol had its school benefits. “So, lit class next? At least I’m not getting sent to the battlefield of words alone.”
“Battlefield of words? You sound like you’re doing just fine to me.”
Am rolled her eyes. “Please, I nearly got a C last semester. Only scraped up a B thanks to some extra credit and Luna’s genius tutoring… in exchange for enough kisses, of course.” She smiled as she lost herself in her thoughts of the past.
“Wow. Just pop the question to her already, will you?” Kumi smirked as Am started blushing.
“N-no, I could, uh, I could never!” Am all but threw her hands in front of her, a student dodging the messenger bag as it dropped from Am’s shoulder to hanging off her elbow. Am hardly even noticed. “I mean… it’s different. Luna deserves, well, she needs to get to decide that fully for herself. I don’t want her to feel… forced… into anything.”
“You don’t know how to admit you want her last name, do you?”
“I don’t…” Am grabbed Kumi by the arm, pulling her towards the library. “Come on, we’re going to be late. It’s research day for our papers. Three thousand words and a full letter grade, Kumi. Do you want to be late for a full letter grade?”
Kumi rolled her eyes. “Please, Am. It’s an analysis of a modern take on a story of our choice. This isn’t exactly the toughest thing ever.”
“Yeah, and if half the class picks something too similar, I need to find a less known choice so my paper stands out enough to cover my lack of good sentence fluency, and you know it!”
“It’s not my fault you’re so crappy of a writer. Maybe you should have worked on that over the break.” Kumi started towards the library, taking a sip of her iced coffee. Am managed to half-jog her way to Kumi’s side once she noticed in a matter of seconds, the rest of the campus crowd no longer paying extra attention to her.
“So what are you going to analyze?”
Kumi shrugged. “Not a clue. I’ll probably take one of your rejects.”
“Well, you could make a worse choice. So you’re wasting a library class?”
“No, not wasting. I’ll help you narrow down your choices and steal an idea from you, plus take note of where and how you’re finding your sources. It’s like when we did labs together for that one semester of that science class I needed. I use your brain, and my beautiful face makes your nerd self look better.” Kumi took another sip of coffee.
“Pretty sure that would only apply to if Luna helped, and she’d help on both fronts, Kumi. You’re going to have to do better than that to impress me.”
“Good thing I prefer Tokoha, then.”
Am rolled her eyes.
“Hey, hey, Luna! I think I found something for you and Am! You’re trying to send her hints, right?”
“I’ve tried suggesting strip vanguard. It didn’t work.”
“No, not that.”
“Drinking vanguard is a no-go for Am for another half a year, too. Either I wait half a year, or we find a different method.”
Tokoha grabbed Luna’s shoulders. “Get your head out of the gutter, Luna. You sound like my… crush.” She took a deep breath.
“Hey, at least you can admit to your feelings upfront. Half our friend circle won’t even answer if asked.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Enishi’s just too dumb to understand sexuality metaphors, and Saya’s not quick to fall for others. Plus, you know Kazuma’s bad with his feelings, and Henri doesn’t always know how he feels, either. The only one hiding anything on purpose is probably Rin.”
Luna paused. “…Does Rin consider herself… a friend? I thought she was just playing to get free food.”
Tokoha poked at her paper with her pen, paying no attention to the dots forming on it. “Well… I think so.” She looked to Kumi, who was standing over Am, Am typing away furiously at a computer- well, as furiously as a typing speed of about thirty words per minute could be, at least. Not bad, but Kumi was known to be able to handle nearly fifty, and Luna’s had to be at least sixty. “But sometimes we don’t tell others how we feel unless we think it’s a smart idea.”
“Are you talking about yourself?”
“Maybe. But it applies to you and Am, doesn’t it?”
Luna sighed, leaning back in the chair. She shrugged. “Maybe.”
Tokoha grinned. “You know, I always thought Kumi was more like you than me.”
Luna pushed a bit too hard against the ground, grabbing the table in front of her to force herself and the chair not to fall. “W-what? I’m not like Kumi.”
“You kind of are. You both shove a thousand hints in people’s faces so obvious that you’d have to be dumb not to notice them. Okay, unless you’re as socially awkward as Am, but she started idol work in, what, first grade? You can give your wife a pass on that one.”
Luna leaned in close, raising a finger to her lips as she looked to Am, her cheeks reddening. “Shhh. Not so loud, Tokoha!”
Tokoha grinned slyly. “See? We’re more alike than you think. My attitude towards Kumi is kind of like yours towards Am. Kumi and Am are opposites- Kumi’s too forward and Am’s not forward enough, but we’re both just…”
Luna ripped out a sheet of paper from her notebook. “Cowards. We’re being cowards.” She started writing furiously on the next sheet of paper. “Remind me to email our professor later. I’m changing my novel choice.”
“What, were you planning to write on some gay one?”
“No, just some more popular one. One that’s got an author with a handful of relatively famous works? But… there was another piece I wanted to write about, even if it is a bit… not like me.”
Tokoha raised an eyebrow. “Oh? How so?”
“One about soulmates.”
“That sounds totally like you?” She pressed her pen against the paper. “Hey, can I steal the old one you were going to write about?”
“Yeah, just look at the author’s works. It’ll be an easy enough essay.”
Luna knew what she had to do to make the paper work. If she could word this properly, she’d have to get at least a B. But using the best wording meant pouring out everything onto a few typed and printed sheets of paper and giving it to some man in his fourties who might not care about anything she’s said. She had to make it work, but even then, was it truly worth the risk?
She shook her head, trying to get rid of the thoughts. Coward. Don’t do this to yourself. She took a deep breath.
Luna looked up at Tokoha. She noticed the concern, the way her brows raised ever so slightly and wrinkled her forehead, mouth flat and thinned from her lips pressing against each other as if to hold back any further comment.
Tokoha needed this.
“Yeah, yeah. Just worried about that letter grade of an essay.” She took another breath, leaned over her paper, and continued scribbling a quick outline. Every stroke of the pen was for Tokoha, for Kumi, but not just for them. If Luna truly wanted to be happy, she knew she’d have to confess to everything she felt, and this essay was the perfect chance to make sure she had no way to hide.
She didn’t have any guarantee her and Am were soulmates. No one did. Maybe that was the scariest part. But Luna promised herself she wouldn’t let Am run from that chance so long as Am wanted to take it. If Am was scared, if she had doubts, Luna would help her. Luna would stay with Am for as long as Am allowed it. Luna would stay with Am forever if Am allowed it.
The only thing that scared her was not knowing if Am would run away again.
Chapter 7: I Need to Go Find a Nice Cave to Hide In
The crowd wasn’t too bad for a Friday afternoon, but Tokoha already knew how popular the place was. It was worth it, even if it was just to pick up clear sleeves and the latest counter token pack. With the thirty power tokens and five critical markers, it had to be one of the most helpful packs to date. Perhaps a bit lacking for her bloom deck, but they’d sold a few power-only markers she’d picked up in the past. Besides, she’d already picked up the gift bag and tissue paper she’d need to wrap this purchase.
She smiled absently at the pack as she took it off the hook, paying no attention to the others in the shop on her way to the card sleeves. Most people liked the backs of the cards too much to use anything other than clear sleeves, but there was one player in back Tokoha’s eyes missed that used nation sleeves on her deck.
Stepping up to the register, Tokoha set both items on the counter for the employee to scan. She pulled out her debit card, quickly completing the transaction without saying so much as a word.
Once she stepped out of the store, she checked her phone. She had some spare time, so she decided to head back to her place to change.
“No, Kumi, I can’t just ask Am something that big. You know she’ll flip out.”
Kumi let her head rest against the wall. Why was Luna being so stubborn? Am would never deny Luna this. "Yeah, you can. She should agree, too, knowing her.”
“Kumi, she’s an engineering major. Do you know what happens to most engineering majors?”
Kumi turned to Luna, deciding to humor her. “What?”
“They transfer. She’s gonna transfer again, so I need to do what it takes to keep her from getting scared. Right now, asking her something like that just screams, ‘I’m insecure and afraid of losing you!’ is… I can’t ask her!”
“So? You two already share a bed, so it’s not that big of a step. I mean, just ask her after a couple of rounds of hot and heavy action.”
Luna could feel her cheeks heating up. “N-no, we’re… uh…”
Kumi raised her eyebrows. “Oh? Is Am not into pillow talk?”
“We’re… not doing it.”
“…Oh.” Kumi turned around again. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to go find a nice cave to hide in for the next few weeks while I remember all the times Am didn’t correct me on something and figure out which events actually happened.”
Luna propped her elbows on the counter, smirking. “Give me the rundown?”
Kumi looked to the clock. “Can’t. It’s nearly dinner time, and I haven’t done my grocery shopping. Sorry.”
Luna nodded, checking the time on Kumi’s microwave against the one on her phone. Only a minute difference. “Got it. I think Am wanted to teach me to make my own food… That’s not a bad thing, is it?”
“She’s probably planning to hand you a few family recipes.”
“Her mom’s barely even up, Kumi. I don’t think she’s had a chance to learn those herself.” Luna started for the door. “Text me later, okay?”
“Fine, but stop doubting yourselves. You two are gonna make it!”
Luna bit her lip, trying to agree with Kumi. If both her and Am wanted to stay together, maybe they could make things last.
Kumi opened her dresser drawer checking for her pajamas. Grabbing out a pair, she tossed it towards her bed. Next, she unlocked her phone, noticing about a dozen panic-filled texts from Luna, followed by a couple of calmer ones. It seemed her night had gone well.
Judging by the couple of texts she checked from Am, it seemed their night had gone really well. Kumi grinned. She’d have to tease Am about her shyness later, but maybe those two could still make something happen.
As for Kumi’s thoughts about her and Tokoha, well… it depended on Tokoha. Kumi had no interest in trying too hard to ear Tokoha’s interest, and if Tokoha didn’t say something to her, then clearly she wasn’t that interested in whatever she stayed silent about.
Tokoha was the type to persevere. That was the entire point of Tokoha’s bloom deck. Am and Luna’s decks were the type to run slow and steady, but they still had a cycle to them that they easily understood. Compared to Kumi’s deck, which ran with a clan that was more about timing, she knew that Tokoha would have to be the one to give Kumi an opportunity.
Maybe someday Tokoha would ask for their time together be called dates. It already felt that way to Kumi.
Sighing, she started texting Luna. Maybe she would have some ideas.
Setting her bag on the counter, Am sighed. Homework was really stealing her spare Luna time. Come to think of it, Luna had a canceled class today, and had texted her about a small surprise she’d been planning. Am pondered about exactly what Luna had to show her, a small smile on her face. This would make the extra homework more than worth it.
She opened her logic textbook, turning to the needed page before writing the answer for each question, including the explanation behind how she’d reached her answer. It took her a good half-hour just to get through the first chunk of problems, but the second chunk didn’t look too bad, so she figured she could solve them after a quick dinner. Her statistics and circuit analysis homework had quite the piles behind them, but she was just glad she was able to take the courses at the same school as Luna for the rest of the year.
She pulled out some bread crumbs and olive oil from the pantry, then egg and chicken from the fridge. Next, she pulled out her needed tools before heating up some oil in a small pot. It didn’t take her long to get the pre-cooked chicken cut into bite-size chunks, so she cracked the egg in a bowl, then poured bread crumbs into the other. After dipping the chunks in egg, they were rolled in the bread crumbs before being tossed into the oil to fry.
About fifteen minutes later, she had a small plate of homemade nuggets, so she snuck into the fridge again for the pickled cucumber. The mix might seem weird to most, but it was a quick meal, and it worked for her. Plus, Luna never really complained, and after teaching her to make it the night before, she’d been in the mood to find out how good Luna’s food was.
She bit her lip, pulling off the wrapping.
Luna hit the call button on her phone before putting it to her ear, leaning against the near wall. After a few seconds, she heard a click.
“Hey, Luna,” Tokoha said. “It’s weird to have you call me. Did Am do something dumb again?”
“N-no. I, well, I’m maybe the culprit there.”
There were a few seconds of silence.
“What did you do?”
Luna took a deep breath. “I might have gotten a bit emotional about my relationship with Am? And I kind of did something that sort of has to do with that, but I’m maybe likely probably getting scolded for it soon?”
“Luna. What. Did. You. Do.”
Luna braced herself physically for Tokoha’s yelling. “Ink?”
Tokoha sighed. “You… got a tattoo. You got a... probably a gay tattoo.”
“You know what?” Luna could practically imagine Tokoha getting ready to yell her ear off.
“Good fucking luck. You’ll clearly need it.” There was a click, then silence. Luna looked at her phone. She had a bad feeling about this. She wondered how long she could hide this from her girlfriend. Or maybe there was a way for Am to not get mad?
Chapter 8: So to Speak
Sliding past Am wouldn’t be an easy challenge. She’d have to run to the bathroom if she wanted to get in on time, and after she’d taken the bandage off at about three hours, she’d been extra careful. She unlocked the door and quietly kicked off her shoes, hoping that Am would already be asleep. Luna checked her phone for the time. It was close to ten, and while they didn’t have any weekend classes, at least her girlfriend liked to keep a steady sleep schedule.
Walking into the kitchen, she spotted Am, who had headphones on and was clearly finishing some homework early. Luna was thankful that she’d at least gotten ahead on her Literature homework- that would let her work on everything else over the weekend, maybe with Am not even noticing her little breaks?
Luna gave Am a quick cheek kiss when she approached her before pointing towards the bathroom, then headed towards it. Am hardly looked, quickly turning to finish the last question on her homework. Once in, Luna snuck the soap out of her bag. It sucked that she had to get something both liquid and unscented, but if that’s what she needed to keep her ink from bleeding, then so be it.
She looked to the shower, prepared to take the fastest one of her life. Taking a deep breath, she slid off her shirt, checking the tattoo’s status in the mirror. The wings of the butterfly hadn’t bled, with one pink and one blue, and they’d maintained the crescent moon shape she’d requested, too. It was still sore by her shoulder, but she’d expected that from her reading about the process in the library when she was able. She looked to the shower, then started a cool one.
She knew it would be freezing, but it was worth it.
Am slid her homework into her backpack, having finally finished all her logic and half her statistics homework. That would mean she could do most of her work on Saturday, and Sunday, she would be free to help Luna finish her homework that Luna would undoubtedly scramble to finish last-minute. She noticed the new soap in the bathroom as she finished getting ready for bed, but didn’t think much of it. Luna was always trying out new things, so there was no point in asking about some bottle of soap. The lotion also was… not the kind Am had expected. A healing lotion? Had something bad happened to Luna?
No, Luna probably would have told her if it was something big. She probably got a small scrape or scab, and didn’t want to cause any unneeded worries. Am figured it best to leave it alone for now.
Her evening routine didn’t take long to finish, so she quickly slid into bed next to Luna. Looking to her, she noticed a bit of washcloth over Luna’s right shoulder. Am wondered what happened to it to make Luna feel the need to keep a… wait that wasn’t an old washcloth. What was so important to hide that she needed a new washcloth?
Am was suddenly feeling very awake. Sure, Luna could have some secrets, and she trusted her, but… she wanted to know. She really, really wanted to know. Am took one more look at Luna, then leaned down to give Luna cheek kisses. Luna stirred in her sleep, then opened an eye, glancing at Am for a moment before focusing on the ceiling.
“Hey, love. I missed you this evening. You have a nice one?”
Luna’s eyes opened wide, then she looked to Am, calculating. “Uh, yeah. It was nice, thanks?”
Am raised her eyebrows.
Luna looked away.
“Alright. Night, Luna. I love you.” Am turned to face away from Luna, wondering if she could nudge the secret out of Luna without invading her privacy.
“Can you promise to not… freak out?”
Am turned back to Luna, grinning. “Something happen?”
Luna took a deep breath, then moved the covers. She then removed the washcloth, revealing the ink just below her shoulder.
Am’s jaw dropped. She stared for a short while, then took a deep breath, clearly trying to hold it together.
“I… I plan to keep it.”
Am sighed. “And exactly what possessed you to do all this?”
“I, uh, I wanted something that reminded me of us. You know, for when you…”
Am’s expression softened. “No, sweetie, I mean… I’m not mad at you.”
Luna had a feeling that if she’d been drinking, she’d have done a spit-take. “You what?”
“I’m not mad at you.”
“You’re not mad?” Luna asked, needing to hear it again to believe it.
“Not at you.” Am looked away, trying to hide the fact she was blushing.
“I… have I been a good girlfriend?”
Oh. “Am, you’ve been… you’re a perfect match for me. I love you!” Luna leaned in, resting one of her hands on Am’s as she gave her a few cheek kisses. Am turned towards Luna, stealing a few mouth kisses before pulling back.
“Okay, so I’m not the worst choice. But is there something else I should be doing? Is there anything else I can do to be a better girlfriend to you?”
Luna let her eyes follow along Am. “I…”
“Just tell me, Luna.”
Luna took a deep breath. “I just… want us to last.”
Am smiled at that. “You sure?”
“Then I’ll do what I can to keep us together. Any ideas?”
Luna blushed. Dare she say it?
Kumi stepped into Tokoha’s solo dorm room, grinning. Tokoha was working at her desk, typing her first of what would probably be three drafts for her paper. Sneaking behind her, Kumi blew lightly on Tokoha’s ear.
Tokoha yelped in surprise, turning faster than even Kumi expected. Noticing Kumi, Tokoha breathed a sigh of relief. “Hey, Kumi! It’s… nice to see you.”
“So, what’s the latest?” Kumi asked, holding out a rice ball she’d bought at the nearby convenience store for Tokoha. “You also need to remember your breakfast, you know. Can’t write with no energy for the brain.”
Tokoha grinned at Kumi. “Thanks. Luna got a tattoo, but she’s trying to hide it from Am.”
Kumi raised her eyebrows. “What, it’s not by the hips?”
“Shoulder area. Most shirts’ll hide it just fine, and she knows a thing or two about makeup.”
Kumi nodded- not that Tokoha noticed. “So you think Am’s gonna find out soon?”
“Depends. If Luna doesn’t crack, then it’ll take at least a week before she knows exactly what’s up, but I give it at least two days before Am has a shot at finding out anything.”
Kumi pulled out her phone. “Maybe I should spoil her,” she said, already texting Am the news. “But isn’t hiding stuff from someone you love usually bad news?”
Tokoha shrugged. “Depends. In Luna’s case… her reason isn’t good enough. Am might flip out a bit, but once she calms down, it won’t be a big deal. She’ll just… need a little time to adjust.”
“I see.” Kumi hit the send button.
Tokoha stopped typing. “So do you… believe in, you know… soulmates?”
Kumi looked to Tokoha, her eyebrows raised. A small smirk found its way to her face. “Oh? What makes you ask?”
“N-no big reason! Just that, uh, Luna said something about them. I guess I just started wondering if they exist or not.”
“I doubt it.”
Tokoha turned back to her computer. “I see.”
“But… maybe some people can make relationships work. They get along well enough that they make everyone around them feel they must be soulmates.”
Tokoha paused for a moment, then began typing. “I see.”
“So, uh, if you ever find someone you want to fake being soulmates with, do you plan to tell me so I can wingwoman?” Kumi teased.
Tokoha bit her lip. The wave of sadness that had washed over her mere moments ago was starting to boil with anger at herself for even daring to ask Kumi such a question. Of course she wouldn’t believe. This was Kumi, who wouldn’t tell even her closest friend about her crushes- if she even had any. For all she knew, Kumi didn’t even fall in love.
Then again, Kumi probably thought the same of Tokoha. She figured she was getting mad over nothing.
“You’re probably right, Kumi. Who needs to try to find some dumb soulmate, anyways? There’s plenty of fish in the sea, and being too picky an eater just means starving. Or, you could always go veg.”
Kumi smirked. Tokoha’s inability to hide her crush was always adorable. “Maybe. Do you plan to go veg, so to speak?”
“I-I don’t know. Depends.”
“Oh? So you have someone you’re… thinking about.”
Tokoha blushed. “So what if I did?”
“Then you should confess. Soon.”
Tokoha hit the save button on her computer. “Maybe.”
Chapter 9: If You Get What I’m Saying
Luna blushed, looking back to Am. “A-are you sure about this?”
Am took a deep breath. Her eyes inched their way down Luna’s body, past her eyes and those lips she loved on hers, past her chest and abs, her waist, and down her legs, then traced their way back up again. Am could feel her lower lip between her teeth, overly aware of each moment that passed and the breath trapped in her lungs. She closed her eyes, picturing what she wanted. “I…”
“If you’re not sure, then-”
“I want this, Luna.” Am stared Luna in the eye, Luna searching Am’s face for any sign of a lie, of a hesitation or a doubt, finding none.
“Am… I love you.”
Am smiled. “I love you too. That’s why I want this, you know.”
Luna looked to the sheets in front of them, sitting on the table, neatly stacked. The top piece of paper alone was scary enough to most people their age, but Luna was prepared if Am was. “So… we’re really doing this?” She tried to stop the tears, but they quickly escaped her eyes, trailing down her cheeks.
“Luna, you’re gonna make me c-cry too!” Am sniffled, pulling Luna against her, holding her close. Luna clinged to Am, her tears quickly soaking Am’s shirt by the shoulder. “I… thank you, Luna. I love so much.”
“It’s a bank account, Am,” Luna told her. “It’s not… a big… deal…”
“But it’s- it’s our account!” Am wiped away her tears. “We’re… it’s just… I’m so… I love you, Luna!”
Luna pulled back to look Am in the eyes, then leaned in, giving her a kiss. Am leaned into the kiss, Luna quickly hopping on the table next to the papers as she grabbed at Am’s shirt, pulling her close.
Adjusting her skirt, Kumi looked into the hallway. “Are you sure you’re okay with me leaving now, Tokoha? I mean…”
Tokoha nodded. “I have lots of homework to finish today. Why don’t you come over tomorrow? We can talk more about… whatever.” She felt the heat rising to her cheeks, Kumi noticing and grinning.
“Whatever, huh? That’s rather cold of you, don’t you think?”
Tokoha turned to face her computer, still blushing. “N-no! You’re the one that…” she shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts, to calm herself.
Kumi stepped out of the room, grabbing the door handle. “Well, text me. It’s something we need to talk about… or not.” She winked at Tokoha, closing the dorm door, then pulled out her cell. She pulled out her phone, finding her chat with Luna.
She kept her phone in her hand as she strolled the hall, smiling. Once on the staircase, she passed Henri, who she gave a quick wave. Her phone buzzed as she opened the door to the ground floor, so she gave it a quick read.
Hey. Big news about Am and me. -Luna
You too? Nice. -K
She waited for the next message, which didn’t take long.
Wait, what about Am and you? You first. -Luna
Laughing, Kumi typed her reply.
No, this is about Tokoha. She kissed me, so some stuff happened. -K
Kumi waited for a text from Luna, but none came. After a few minutes, she gave up, throwing her phone on her own bed. If only her and Tokoha’s dorms weren’t halfway across campus from each other…
Well, they could always share a dorm or apartment starting next year. Plus, she was pretty sure she could help Am find a nearby engineering school to avoid any problems with Luna.
Her phone buzzed. When she looked at the screen, she realized Luna had decided to call her. She answered.
“Hey, Kumi. Spill. Full details.”
“Wow, invasive much?”
Kumi laughed. “Oh, there was definitely kissing. Definitely a lot of kissing.”
There was a pause on the other end of the line, with a few shifting noises. What was Luna doing?
“Well, Am and I are more than kissing now.”
“Same. With Tokoha, not Am.”
“…I have a feeling we mean different things.”
“No, there was sex.”
“…Luna? You two did finally get it on, right?”
Luna sighed. “Joint bank account. Why do you always assume I’m with her to bone her anyways, Kumi?”
Kumi rolled her eyes. “Because you look at her like you wanna pin her to th-”
“TMI, Kumi!” Luna yelled, causing Kumi to wince and move her cell away from her ear.
“It’s been over a year, you slowpokes. What, is Am secretly ace?”
Had Luna or Tokoha heard that, they’d probably be holding back laughter.
Luna set down her textbook, sliding into the chair next to Tokoha. “Thanks for grabbing the study room for me. I need some advice.” She looked to Tokoha’s own books. “It’s kind of… weird.”
Tokoha blushed. “Something… happen?”
Luna raised an eyebrow. “Unlike you and Kumi, it wasn’t sexual, okay?”
Tokoha blinked. She blinked again. “I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-”
Luna put a hand on Tokoha’s shoulder. “It’s fine, Tokoha. It’s your relationship, so it’s up to you to figure out what you want from each other.”
Tokoha grinned, still blushing. “I, uh… thanks.”
“Then again, things might not stay as bedroom-free for me if things go a certain way…” Luna told her, raising an eyebrow as she gave Tokoha a pointed look.
Tokoha felt like a deer in the headlights. “Is this because, uh, of Kumi? And me, that is?”
“Nope! I’m thinking of making things with Am a bit more permanent, especially now that I know she’s okay with sharing finances. So I might have to ask her a certain question in the next month or two, and prepare what needs to be prepared before she’d notice a couple grand hiding away from the bank account, if you get what I’m saying.”
Tokoha grinned at Luna. “Getting hitched? You totally should.”
Luna smiled, giggling. “I know. I love her so much, and I’m starting to think she’s hearing some bells herself. She didn’t even get mad at me for the tattoo.”
“Wait, you told her you got a tattoo? The hell, Luna?”
Luna sunk in her chair. “It’s not a big deal, Tokoha. She got… romantic about it. I think that’s a sign, you know?”
Tokoha gave Luna a grin. “So you’re really gonna be married, huh? That’ll be quite the story someday… Hey, I get an invite to the wedding, right?”
“You and Kumi both. But Am has to agree first, okay?” Luna rubbed at the back of her neck, knowing full well how likely it was that Am would get nervous if Luna tried to take such a huge step in their relationship.
“Luna, look. You two are pretty much guaranteed to end up married sooner or later- just wait and see! Am’ll stop being so damn shy sooner or later, and next thing you know, you’ll be talking about whether to find a donor, adopt, or skip raising kids altogether!”
Luna paused for a moment, trying to tell herself that Tokoha had to be right, but the voice in the back of her head only told her about Am running, leaving, never returning, and decimating Luna’s heart. Luna could feel the tears welling in her eyes, threatening to spill, to reduce her to a sobbing mess. She looked to Tokoha, her vision blurred. “I… hope so.” She rested her feet on her chair, hugging her legs close to her body. She let the tears fall from her eyes, soaking her jeans.
Tokoha could feel her heart breaking for Luna, determined at the same time to help them stay together. She was still pissed at Am for what she did when Luna passed her high-school equivalency tests, and she doubted she’d stop anytime soon. At the same time, Am’s shyness was something Tokoha understood. For some reason, even hooking up with Kumi didn’t make admitting her feelings easy, even if she’d finally been able to.
Sometimes, being in love sucked.
Chapter 10: That Sounded Really Gay of You
Tapping the wet towel against her girlfriend’s new tattoo, Am frowned. “Hey, do you think I’m doing an okay job of cleaning this?”
Luna giggled. Am was adorable like that, and it made her want to do things that could ruin the tattoo. “Yep. Absolutely perfect, just like you are for me!”
Am knew she was about to start blushing really hard. “Thanks. Uh, that means… a lot?”
Luna grinned at Am. “I love you, Am!”
Am hid her face against her shoulder, pulling her hand back. She’s so cute. I need to cool it. Am looked in the mirror at Luna, looking at her exposed midriff as she wondered if Luna would mind if they got into a tickle fight, Am making Luna giggle as she let her fingers trace along her side, adding in some cheek kisses at the same time to keep it flirty. Maybe Luna would even tilt her head so Am could kiss her on the mouth, both of them calming as Am’s hands rested on Luna’s waist until Luna moved them to take off her-
No. You are not going to do something like that to her, Am! You need to stop thinking about your girlfriend like that unless she wants you to!
Luna noticed the distant look in Am’s eyes, smiling. “Hey, Am. What if we… you know… had a little, well, fun?”
Am looked to Luna. “Huh? L-Luna?”
She leaned in. “Yeah. Maybe we could play a game or something?”
“Like… a cardfight? I’d be fine with that.”
Luna smiled. “Sure, a cardfight. Any other games you’d be interested in? Anything at all you want to do with me? Just name it, and I’ll let you do what you want with me.”
RIP in pieces my ability to stay calm around Luna, Am thought. I’m a goner.
Tokoha laid on her bed, staring at the ceiling. Just the other morning, when her roommate had been out for the weekend, Kumi had been with her, cuddled close after they had admitted their feelings and…
Tokoha blushed thinking about it. She wondered if Kumi and her were officially together now. Sure, they hadn’t said anything yet, but knowing Kumi, she might only have to ask. Maybe she’d do that after finishing her essay on the importance of Shakespeare re-writes.
Sighing, she turned back to her essay. There had been some recent gay versions of Romeo and Juliet that captured the main message of not telling people they couldn’t be in love just because how they’d been born made them seem incompatible, and that ability to acknowledge that would be important, too. The value of trusting those close to you was also found in modern Othello, but the lack of ability to acknowledge racial tension in western culture seemed to be a huge criticism of many different retellings. There were several others she’d poured over, and she definitely had reserved a library copy of a really gay Macbeth retelling that was bound to be more than worth her time, but the essay came first. If she could at least get a rough draft finished soon, then maybe she could flirt with Kumi, and prevent everything from turning into some fling. She’d really like that.
She hoped Kumi would really like that.
There was a knock at the door. “C-come in!” Tokoha said. “It’s unlocked.” Kumi entered the room, grinning at Tokoha as Tokoha’s cheeks reddened when she noticed Kumi holding a small gift. “Nice to see you again. It always feels like it’s been forever.”
“That sounded really gay of you. Thanks.” The sly grin on Kumi’s face widened, Tokoha looking to her with a similar grin quickly forming.
“You’re welcome. Both for being here and for sounding really gay.”
She could feel her cheeks starting to hurt. “Kumi… that means, well, a lot.”
“Okay, now that sounded almost as gay as the date I was planning on asking you on. What do you say? This weekend, maybe?” Tokoha bit her lip, trying to force back a grin as she nodded. “Woo-hoo! Here, a token of my appreciation!” Handing her the box, Kumi leaned in to give Tokoha a cheek kiss. “So… maybe on Saturday? Go see an afternoon movie, then grab a bite? My treat.”
“No. I’m paying for the meal, so you can get us tickets,” Tokoha told Kumi, placing the box near her laptop. “I think a couple of the others were planning to crash some frat party and try to get them to play drinking vanguard. It’s easy to cream drunkards, after all.”
Moving behind Tokoha, Kumi draped her arms over Tokoha’s shoulders. “So… what kind of movie sounds good? I’ve heard horror can be good if it’s not too scary. Creates an excuse to get all clingy.”
“So do romance-y flicks. As long as you don’t pick that Super-Van film. There’s no way that’s good for a date like this.”
“Got it. It can wait for a group date where you and Am end up fighting about the restaurant we dine at after, right?”
Tokoha rolled her eyes. “You’re lucky I love you, or I’d be upset about that comment.”
Adjusting her cell phone, Luna continued typing in her private window. “Come on, Kumi. I need to actually talk about this.” Hearing the slight click on her phone, she breathed a sigh of relief.
“Hey, Luna. What’s wish two of three?” Kumi asked her, her voice clear against some light background music and chatter.
Luna tried to smile, but failed. “Look, I kind of have this idea. Am’s not around right now, so I can research, and…”
“Tokoha told me about your plans to pop it, and judging from my latest talks with Am, you could probably pop more than just the question if you’d like…”
“Kumi! Not helping!” Luna could feel her face heating up. “I just want her to be happy being with me.”
“I’m sure she will be. Just talk to her about it, and let her know that she can choose what she truly wants. And it doesn’t hurt to be romantic- you know she tries to not be too in love to see you for who you are, right?”
Luna clicked on a link. “Yeah, I know. She’s always working so hard, always with some goal in mind, and more than anything, I want to make her happy by supporting her.”
“Fucking hand her the marriage application already, then. Just leave her name there and fill out your half, and let her fill out the rest.”
“But… she deserves…”
“I get it. You want to give her, like, ten universes.”
Luna started giggling.
“Okay, maybe more like thirty. But my point stands. With Am, keep it direct and simple. If you overwhelm her with loads of fancy shit, it could make her feel like she has to… take a step back.”
“Simple? So… do I even get rings? I know it’s been trending here, but it’s not like we’re in the west, either…”
“Get simple ones that you could use for actual wedding bands. No more than a hundred thousand yen between for you and her, so you aren’t breaking the bank. I know you like spending loads of cash on her, Luna, but hold back this time.”
“Can I spend a bit more if-“
“Lab diamonds are cheaper, Luna, and you know it. Keep it simple and cheap, or she’ll probably end up camping out by Tokoha’s… actually, that might leave Tokoha with me, so feel free to make it fancy.”
“I asked for your help, Kumi.” She heard Kumi laughing from the other side of the phone. “Kumi, don’t. I will hang up on you. I mean it, and you won’t get a ring preview.”
Kumi stopped laughing. “Did you say ring preview?”
“…And how many hours’ salary are you planning to spend on it?”
Luna rolled her eyes. “Goodbye, Kumi.”
“I didn’t mean it like that, Luna! Oh, but you’re welcome to buy me free food as a thank you. Maybe something pumpkin-y?”
“I mean it. I’ll text you later with possibilities, so if I could research in peace…”
“Got it. Bye, Luna.”
Luna could then hear a dial tone.
Chapter 11: Are You Hitting On Me
“Show me the tattoo, Luna,” Am told her as she took a step into the bathroom, socks soft against the tile floor.
Luna took a step back. “W-what, are you hitting on me or something? An e-excuse to get my top off?” she asked, trying to sound nervous as she grinned slyly.
“Look, I need to check on it. If I don’t, then you’re the only one keeping it in shape. I mean, not that you can’t keep it okay, but it’s better to have two sets of eyes on it, right? It just makes sense.”
“You say that, but all I hear is you asking your girlfriend to strip for you,” Luna teased, grinning at Am. “Maybe you should admit that you’re in more than love with me, Am.”
Am felt her cheeks heating up. “L-look, it’s not like that! I, uh, just w-wanna check out that tattoo!”
“Check out, huh?” Luna raised an eyebrow at her. “I’ll trust you’re telling the truth for now, but you really should work on your word choice. You never were the best in lit classes.”
“Maybe because I don’t whisper blaze it like Kagero every afternoon at 4:20.”
“Twice. A. Week.”
“Sorry. I mean, my point still stands, but… sorry.”
“Y-yeah. And it’s not like I don’t appreciate the whole you looking out for me thing. I just… you’re so focused on the words sometimes, like you won’t even think of me in a more, uh… and I know you’ve said you’re capable of that, right?”
Am bit her lip. She focused on the tile, which she wasn’t even in the right mindset to notice how dirty it would’ve otherwise seemed to her. “I… I’m sorry, Luna. It’s… not that simple.”
Luna could feel the teasing grin on her face drop in a millisecond. “Oh.” She didn’t want her voice to crack, but she had a bad feeling about whatever Am was going to say next.
“I… love you. That’s why you deserve the best for you.”
Luna pulled Am close, hugging her. “And you think there’s a better person for me, even though I clearly don’t.”
“You deserve to feel like you’ve won the lottery everytime you think about me,” Am told her. “I… don’t think I could do something like that. Sure, I’m nice for now, but eventually, even if I don’t like thinking about it, you’ll meet someone who’s actually perfect for you. If I let you in… what happens then? What… what’ll happen to me when you meet that person?” Am could hear the wavering in her voice, tears welling in her eyes, and she wasn’t sure she could stop them for long. She’d need out, and fast. Luna deserved better than to see her crying.
Luna could feel tears sliding down her own cheeks, a hand making its way to the back of Am’s head as she held her even closer. “I feel… I’ve won ten.” She pressed a small kiss to the top of Am’s head. “I won’t ever want to leave you, Am. I’ll stay by your side forever, if you’ll let me.”
Am could feel the tears falling now. “I…”
If only her words would flow as freely.
Careful to not step on any of the littered popcorn, Kumi slid out of the aisle before turning to watch Tokoha follow her. “If someone could kick it into triple drive? I don’t want to have to critsack you into gear!”
Tokoha grinned. “Don’t expect me to help you with your G Zone later, then!”
“Oh, au contraire, I think you will.” Kumi winked at her girlfriend, biting her lip for a fraction of a second. She watched as Tokoha sped up at the sound of that remark.
“I almost feel sorry for Luna,” she muttered to herself. “Almost.”
Tokoha took Kumi’s hand, grinning. “C’mon. I think we should check on a few of the cafés around here. There’s supposed to be some nice ones for grabbing a quick coffee, and I know you wanted to cram for your test later tonight, so I might as well get a little bit of caffeine in you.”
Kumi rolled her eyes. “Of course I wanna cram. That’s why I’m gonna need to take a nap in another hour. I mean, that’s cramming 101.”
“Yeah, it gives you enough rest to survive until the next day. Right now, I could use a pillow and a blanket on a soft surface.”
Tokoha sighed. “Fine, let’s get you into my bed for a nap. I’ll go pick you up some energy drinks while you sleep, but promise me you’ll get enough rest to make up for it over the weekend.”
“Oh, this weekend isn’t one I’ll be expecting to rest a lot during,” she replied. “I have plans for us.” Kumi winked at Tokoha.
“We’ll see about that,” Tokoha managed to reply, but had a feeling Kumi’s plans would go smoother than her new girlfriend always was. “I’m almost done with my work for tomorrow, so I’ll stay up for a bit with you tonight. Good luck on your test, even if I know you don’t need it. My roommate should be in already, but should I go with you anyways?”
“Walking me to your place? How romantic,” Kumi told Tokoha, reaching for her hand.
“Only the best for my girlfriend,” Tokoha replied, smiling at Kumi as she squeezed her hand. “Come on, I think I’ve got some popcorn bags you can zap when you wake up if I’m not back from my shopping trip.”
“Got it!” Kumi pulled on Tokoha’s hand, tugging all the way back to the dorms.
“Feeling better?” Luna asked. Am pulled Luna closer to her, burying her face in Luna’s non-tattooed shoulder. Luna reached for the comforter, using it to cover Am. “I’m gonna take that as a no. Can I help you feel better?”
“Luna…” Am craned her neck, eyes meeting with Luna’s. “You’re… so beautiful.” Am pushed against the bed with her hands, leaning over Luna as she leaned in to kiss her, so soft Luna needed a second to register what was even happening. Am pulled back to look at Luna, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear as she bit her lip.
Luna watched for a moment before she reached for the back of Am’s neck, pulling her into a kiss. Am broke off each kiss after several seconds for only the slightest bit of time before pressing her lips to Luna’s again, hands now next to either side of Luna’s shoulders. Luna could feel Am’s hair falling past her ears, ever so light against her cheeks, grabbing onto the back of Am’s head with one hand, the fabric of Am’s shirt bunched in her other as Luna licked Am’s lips.
Am quickly parted her lips, sliding her tongue into Luna’s mouth. Luna let Am’s tongue press against hers, causing her to shift her legs. It almost surprised to her, how quickly she’s let Am take full control- but then again, she always knew she was a hopeless romantic.
Am quickly pulled back, Luna having to stop herself from whining at the lack of contact, only to feel Am’s mouth against her jawline. Am gave the lightest of kisses along Luna’s jaw, trailing until she could kiss at her neck and finally against Luna’s clavicle, stopping close to her shoulder to suck hard. Luna bit her lip for a moment before it slipped out of her teeth, trying to stay grounded.
“A-am… I w-wanna…” Luna readjusted her grip. “Can we… maybe…”
Am pulled away, blushing. “Uh… so I was thinking. That’s probably a bit intense for you? Like… you look pretty flushed?”
Luna propped herself up on her elbows. Was Am… ready for her? “I, well, it was a good intense?”
“Then… do you want some time to yourself? I need to go buy food to make us dinner, and you’ll have the place to yourself until then, if you, uh, g-get what I’m saying?”
Luna chuckled. “Still not ready?”
“Not quite. But we’re… getting closer. I think I’m starting to believe you when you say that I’m perfect for you.”
That was almost purely romantic enough for Luna to stop feeling thirstier than an Australian stranded in the middle of the Outback. Almost.