“Well then, we’ll be heading out now,” Mrs. Makimura said from the entranceway, as Akira nervously stood at attention and Miki leaned against the wall, examining her nails. “You kids have fun, alright?”
“Not too much fun,” Mr. Makimura said, giving Akira a very pointed look.
“Y-yes sir!” Akira replied, bowing compulsively.
“We’ll be back around eleven,” Mrs. Makimura said, bemusedly shaking her head as soon as her husband’s back was turned. “See you later.”
“Have a nice night!” Akira said, waving as they left.
“See ya–” Miki droned, only looking up when the door shut. “Not too much fun,” she mimicked, rolling her eyes.
Akira laughed at that, only a little nervously. “So, uh, since we’ve got the place to ourselves…”
“Ye~es?” Miki asked, sidling up next to him.
“Well, I borrowed a movie from Ryo, so I was thinking we could, y’know…watch that? Together?”
She sighed dramatically. Of course. “Oh. A movie. Sure. What is it? At least it can’t be another musical, if you borrowed it from that psycho.”
“Oh come on, don’t call him that,” he said defensively. “He’s a good guy at heart.”
“Akira, sweetie, the first time we met he pulled a knife on me.”
“…well, yeah, but–”
“He pulled a fucking knife on me!” Miki laughed. “What ‘but’ could there possibly be?”
Akira sighed, scratching the back of his head. “No, you’re right… He really shouldn’t have done that, and I’m so sorry, but he’s still my friend, y’know? He’s just…got a lot going on, I guess.”
“And I don’t suppose you’ll explain what any of that is,” she said, arms crossed.
He shrugged helplessly.
“Sure, fine, whatever. It’s not like I expected anything,” she sighed. He was always like this lately. Secretive and vague. Annoying. “So. The movie.”
“Oh, right!” Akira said, laughing nervously. “It’s an American action flick, Dirty Harry.”
Miki blinked. “…seriously?”
“I mean… You gonna be alright?”
“…why wouldn’t I be?”
“It’s an ac-tion mo-vie,” she said, enunciating every syllable individually. “You almost got sick when I tried to get you to watch The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly with me, remember?”
“I’ll be fine, I’ll be fine!” he laughed, waving a hand lightly. “I’m not such a crybaby anymore, y’know?”
“…yeah, that’s true,” Miki said, walking past him and flopping down on the couch. “Let’s put it on, then.”
“Great!” Akira said, grinning. “Let me just go grab it from my room.”
He ran upstairs, and Miki slumped further into the cushions, heaving a sigh. It wasn’t that she disliked this new change in him, it was just… Weird. Everything was weird, lately.
She had a dream that a harpy tore the house apart, tried to kill her, and Akira protected her with teeth and claws. Like an animal. Like a monster. She was going to ask about it, but when she met his eyes, she stopped herself without knowing why.
Miki got that feeling a lot these days.
Akira came back down, put the tape in the VCR, turned off the lights, leaving a space between them as he settled down on the couch.
Some people just can’t take a hint, she thought, shifting to a lounging position, legs across his. Akira’s blush practically glowed in the dark room. “Oh, is this uncomfortable~?” Miki asked.
“N-no! It’s fine, it’s fine!” he stammered, waving his hands wildly as the credits began to roll on the screen. “I, I mean, if it’s fine for you, then…”
Miki shot him a smile and he turned away, fussing nervously with one of his sideburns. It was a relief, somehow. At least he’s still the same in this way.
She snuggled into the pillows and tried to watch. It was the sort of movie she should like, did like, but for whatever reason her eyes kept being drawn to Akira’s profile instead of the screen. Whenever their eyes met he’d look away in a fluster, but something about him just…
“So…you know you’re gonna fail if you keep missing class, right?” she asked, only half paying attention to the movie. “I don’t mind lending you my notes, but like half of those are already copied from other people, so…”
“…yeah, I know,” he sighed, eyes taking on the same faraway glaze they did so often lately. “It’s not like I’m just cutting class to go joyride with Ryo or anything like that. It’s important.” He looked at her, eyes pleading. “You believe me, right? I wouldn’t just… I’d explain if I could, but I… I can’t.”
Why should I have to be the one to trust you? It’s not fair. “…yeah, I know,” she said instead. “You’re not exactly the type to just fuck around like that.” You’re way too boring, she almost added, but was that even true anymore?
“Thanks, seriously,” Akira said with a sheepish grin. “It…really means a lot to me.” And he turned back to the movie.
It wasn’t a bad movie, by any means. Good, even. Miki thought she’d definitely enjoy it under different circumstances. So it was kind of a pity.
There was a shootout scene, intense and bloody, and when she looked up at Akira he was leaning forward, eyes reflecting the TV light, teeth bared in something that might have been a smile, and a chill ran down Miki’s spine. “Akira,” she said, quietly. He didn’t respond, didn’t seem to have noticed at all. “…who are you?”
He jolted, legs shifting under hers as he turned his body to face her, posture defensive, eyes wide and unblinking as he stared with something akin to fear. “…what?”
She pulled her knees up, wrapped her arms around them. “I mean… You’ve been like a different person lately, y’know? It’s not that I dislike what you’re like now, it’s just… Sometimes when I look at you, it’s like looking at a stranger.”
Shouts and gunshots echoed in the background, but they both ignored them.
Akira didn’t move, didn’t blink, but his eyes were starting to fill with tears. “…yeah, I guess so,” he said, almost laughing, but without a trace of humor.
“Something happened, right?” she said, voice bordering on desperation. “I’m not stupid, overnight you went from a sweet, shy boy to…well, you. Something had to have happened. So why won’t you tell me what?”
“I can’t,” he said, tears rolling down his face. “You have to understand, I can’t! It’s important, please…”
Miki sighed, burying her face deeper in her arms, and Akira slowly began to untense, grabbing the remote to pause the movie. “…I know I haven’t always been that nice to you. Like, yeah, I was kinda awful when you first moved in here. But I’m sorry, alright? I mean it, I am! So if you’re going to hate me for that, it’s not like I don’t get it, but…”
“It’s not like that, Miki,” Akira said, reaching out to lay a hand on her arm. “It’s for your own sake, it’s too dangerous for you to know about. Please, just trust me on this…”
“Too dangerous, huh…” she repeated dully. “Why?”
He blinked. “I mean… It’s a matter of life and death, so…”
“Do you think I care about that!?” she snapped, slapping his hand off her. “Why can’t you tell me!? That psycho prettyboy knows, so why can’t I!?”
“It’s not like that, Ryo’s involved, so–”
“What about me means I don’t deserve to know!? Shit, Akira, I’m tougher than you are! You know that! So just cause I’m a girl…” she spat out the word with a bitter laugh, fists clenched tight and shaking. “Why am I not good enough!?”
He just shook his head, slow and bewildered. “That’s not…”
“I like you, okay?” she said, voice softening even as she glared. “I care about you, and I’m worried, and I wanna help, so why won’t you let me? Don’t I mean anything to you at all?”
“Y-you do!” Akira stammered, leaning forward, unable to meet her eyes. “Of course you do, I… I like you too.” He was blushing like it was a confession. It may well have been. “And I’m sorry. The last thing I’d want is to worry you, but this isn’t something I can tell anyone about. Not even you.”
He looked so much like his old self, flustered and nervous and so serious.
Miki scooted over to lean against him, putting an arm over his shoulders. Hesitantly, he did the same. “I keep worrying one day you’ll just disappear,” she said, trying to take comfort in his warmth and solidity against her side. “You won’t come home no matter how long I wait, and I’ll have no way of knowing where you are, or what happened, or if you’re alright.”
“…yeah,” Akira sighed. “…sorry. I mean, you could always ask Ryo?”
She just laughed. “Yeah, there’s no way. I’m pretty sure he wants to kill me.”
“What? No, of course not!”
“Well, he certainly wouldn’t mind if I died.”
“…he’s not like that.”
Miki laughed, squeezing him tighter. “This is more like it.”
Akira blinked. “What are you talking about?”
“Oh, nothing,” she said innocently, before leaning in and pressing her lips against his.
It was a short kiss, just closed lips against closed lips, mostly because Akira immediately jolted back, face redder than it had ever been in his life. “W-w-w-what was that!?”
“I, uh…” Akira floundered, gesticulating uselessly. “You just, we, ahhhhh?”
Miki could barely keep a straight face. “Did you mind?”
He shook his head no with almost violent intensity.
“You wanna do it again?”
He nodded with just as much fervor.
Ohhh, he’s so cute when he’s flustered…
This time Miki put her arms around Akira’s neck and parted his lips with her tongue as he sat there, arms hovering awkwardly before finally settling around her in a light embrace.
They kissed, and it was nice. Simple and easy, the sort of thing two high schoolers in an empty house would do. Just for a moment, Miki let herself forget about all the stupid bullshit that was going on and just enjoy the feeling of his body in her arms and his lips against hers. Akira was sweet and pliant and shy, smiling with nervous happiness when she pulled back to meet his eyes, and it was nice. Just like the old Akira.
“Alright now, time’s up,” she said, extracting herself from his arms and standing in front of him as he stared at her like a kicked puppy. “Oh, sweetie, don’t look at me like that… It’s just that I’m pretty sure if you saw my tits, you’d get so flustered you’d, like, actually die.”
If Miki was being honest, there was a part of her that wanted to drag him up to her bed and ride his face, but there was always another night.
And besides, the moment she said “tits” Akira jolted and began stammering something unintelligible, so it was probably for the best.
“Well, I think movie night’s over,” said with an easy smile. “I guess we can pick it up again tomorrow. I’m gonna head back up now, so goodnight.” She planted a light kiss on his cheek and headed up the stairs.
“Oh, uh, goodnight,” Akira said, a good moment too late.
Miki waved as she left.
In her room, she curled into a ball on top of the bed and stared absently at the power outlet for what felt like a very long time.
It’s all good and well to pretend everything’s alright, but that doesn’t actually change anything.
Ah well, she thought, getting up to change into her pajamas, it’s not like there’s anything I can do anyways.