It had been a long summer.
Nozomi still wasn't sure if that was good or bad. There were things to hold onto and there were things to let go.
Something she wanted to hold onto: Nicocchi!
And she had to hold on tightly too; her classmate was squirming and scrambling, desperate to escape Nozomi's more-than-friendly embrace (and probing fingers).
"Nicocchi, you're such a tease." She cooed into Nico's ear.
She got a thorough whipping of Nico's pigtails across her face in reply.
"Get. OFF." Nico snapped.
She was trying to kick-out behind her at Nozomi's shins but she couldn't reach. As always, Nico's inherent compactness was a source of amusement for Nozomi.
Ah, there were few things in life as instantly gratifying as teasing Yazawa Nico.
They had just finished a choreography session on the roof when a classic NicoMaki conflict had erupted. It had been ignited by Eli of all people, which had drawn Nozomi into its midst, even if she didn't really know what it was about this time.
She let a free hand brush across Nico's chest, copping a feel and drawing an undignified squeak from everyone's favourite super idol. Eli continued to reprimand Nico and Maki, apparently unaware of the fire she was playing with. Nozomi, however, was fully aware and decided it was time to stoke those flames.
The result was a rather amusing arrangement where a full-throttle Nico-Ni was prancing around the roof with all of her usual declarations only amplified by Maki's state of near-collapse.
All-in-all it had been a pretty fun end to the session.
And apparently it had lightened up Eli enough for some extracurricular summertime fun.
In her room, waking up came slow. Her body felt warped and there was an absence of a feeling she knew should have been there. When it came it was a pleasant sensation, enveloping her all over, like stepping into a warm bath. Worth the wait.
Nozomi rolled to the edge of the bed and reached over the side, her hand rifling though the pile clothes strewn there for something quick and easy. She found a T-shirt, sat up and pulled it on, only to then realise by the fit that it wasn't hers. Still, it would do. She stood up and pulled the hem of the shirt down in a futile effort. She grabbed a skirt from the floor for good measure and slipped into it as she strode from her the bedroom. The skirt wasn't hers either, another tight fit as she zipped it up.
Eli was leaning against a counter of the little kitchen attached to the living room, sipping a glass of water. She had stolen Nozomi's shorts but wasn't wearing anything else. Nozomi didn't even pretend not to be admiring her topless form as she walked over to join her, leaning back against the opposite counter.
After a few moments of Nozomi's probing gaze Eli sighed loudly and rolled her eyes.
"It's getting awfully cramped in here." Nozomi noted, the corner of her mouth curving into a devious smirk.
"Get your mind out of the gutter."
"But... They're right in front of me... That's not fair..." Nozomi gestured to Eli's chest.
"You stole my shirt." Eli shrugged.
"You got up before me. How does that matter now?"
"Oh, it matters."
"What matters is you flaunting. Flaunting right in front of me. They're so plump and pert... And p... Personable."
Nozomi nodded, still smirking.
"That's what you're going with?"
"Trust me. I'm in the know."
"Really? Not everything has to be an alliteration, Nozomi. You could have gone with enticing or attractive or..."
"Temptatious!" Nozomi interjected as Eli began to rattle off a list of adjectives.
Eli frowned. "Well... I guess. I mean, technically..."
"Think about it. In context; it's very temptatious for you to let me make everything feel better. If you know what I mean." Nozomi added a wink, just to be safe.
Eli raised an eyebrow.
"Smooth. Did that come up in your cards?"
"Elichi, That's hardly the kind of thing... Yes. Yes, it did come up now that you mention it." Nozomi quickly corrected herself.
"And what card was that? The horny teenager?"
"You've heard of it? Most people haven't..."
"Does it have a portrait of you?"
Nozomi gasped in mock outrage for a moment before smirking again.
"Leering, I imagine."
"It's a good look for me. Besides, look at what I'm leering at." Nozomi made a squeezing motion with one hand.
"Okay. You need to cool down."
Eli glanced at the glass of water in her hand, it was less than a quarter full.
"Here, let me help."
She leaned forward and tipped the contents over Nozomi, who gasped as the cool water spilled down her chest and back. She didn't even take a moment to compose herself before retaliating, the retort was already there.
"Are you trying to make me wet again?"
She had the deeply satisfying sense of victory as Eli blushed and moved away, murmuring some excuse.
"There are better ways! Let me show you." Nozomi called out after her.
She smiled for a few moment when there was no reply. Then she promptly reminded herself to give chase.
As she walked back towards the bedroom she realised that Eli's spillage had made the shirt she was wearing see-through.
"You can see my boobs now, we're even now. Elichi? Did you hear that? Elichi!" Nozomi called out ahead.
After round two Nozomi laid back, her shoulder brushing the wall; the cons of a single bed. On the other hand, a pro; they stayed close. Her arm was loosely draped around Eli's shoulders.
"Good job buddy." Nozomi reached over to ruffle Eli's hair.
Eli gave an exasperated sigh as she slapped Nozomi's hand away.
"I wish you would stop doing that. It wasn't funny the first time."
"Was it funny this time?"
"It was not."
"How many times have I said it?"
"No. You're making that up."
"I don't have the wherewithal to be that hilarious all the time."
"I'm telling you."
"Even after the first impact?"
"Would you stop calling it that!" Eli turned to glare at her.
Nozomi adopted an expression of solemn regret that she struggled to uphold. Once Eli turned away a giggle escaped Nozomi's lips. Then one more. She heard Eli sigh as she felt her fidget in the crook of her arm.
Only then did her laughter pearl out. She couldn't help it. Eli's sour expression only drew it out longer.
"I swear, nothing ever gets to you." Eli turned to look at her again.
For a moment Nozomi was caught in those baby blues. Her mouth felt dry.
It would be nice to stay just like this.
But like always she pulled herself out of the ensnarement.
"Nerves of steel." Nozomi shrugged.
"Something like that." Eli murmured her agreement.
She rolled onto her side, facing away and Nozomi found herself studying the landscape of her lover's back, the ridges of her shoulder blades, the way they led down into the valley of her waist and hips. She had mapped them out, often dreamt of the contours, her finger withheld by a millimetre from tracing them.
"You're such a mischievous little fox." She whispered.
Eli rolled back to face her.
Dazed, Nozomi hesitated for a moment, scrambling for a conscious thread.
"...Don't play innocent with me, Mrs. Matchmaker."
Eli stared back in bewilderment.
"Giving Nicocchi the hard shove towards our resident princess."
"Oh, that. I just lost me temper... But... You really think so? I don't see it."
"Wow." Nozomi leaned back, turning her eyes up at the ceiling in bemusement.
"Nozomi, they don't even like each other. They're always fighting."
Eli ignored her. "I mean, they're nothing like us."
"Certainly." Nozomi agreed, cupping a breast in the curve of her hand.
"Would you stop being so crude."
"Can't help it. You must be rubbing off on me. Literally."
Eli sat up, shaking Nozomi's arm off. She turned to look back down at her from over her shoulder.
"I'm the settler in this relationship. I want you to know that."
"Ouch." Nozomi deadpanned, reaching out to pinch Eli's hip.
"Stop that." Eli slapped her hand away. "I'm going to take a shower."
"No!" Eli snapped, quickly jumping to her feet and narrowly evading Nozomi's lunging embrace.
She paused in the doorway and then looked back. Nozomi looked up at her, chin planted in the palm of her hand.
"Having second thoughts?" Her hand traced a broad semi-circle across the mattress. "Bed's still warm. And so am I."
Eli rolled her eyes. "One of these days I'm going to get my act together."
Nozomi watched her turn back and step through the doorway, out of view.
And just what does she mean by that?