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When Mio first realized she liked Ritsu that way, she didn’t realize it at all. It began with blushes in the locker rooms or baths, which caused Ritsu to tease her mercilessly and often ended up with Ritsu getting a smack on the head.

From there, it progressed to shy looks in Ritsu’s direction, an average of every few seconds. The frequency of these looks meant that Ritsu caught Mio a fair percentage of the time and usually proceeded to make what Ritsu probably thought were scary faces, which again made Mio blush, Ritsu laugh, and Mio smack Ritsu upside the head. Even worse, though, was that sometimes other people happened to look up when Mio was staring at Ritsu, and Mio was always convinced that they knew.

Once Mio asked herself what exactly it was that they knew, she realized that she couldn’t maintain her denial anymore.

So, from that moment on, Mio liked Ritsu. As in ‘liked’ liked. Mio blushed whenever she thought those words, as well.

This revelation also made her horribly awkward around the object of her (highly embarrassing) affections. Questions like, “Do you want to get lunch?” now received bizarre responses like, “In the consideration of the – yes – point you have – yes – um, said to – yes – what was the question again?” which made Ritsu give Mio very odd looks.

There was also the issue of the complications Mio’s crush would cause in her life. Mio devoured (anxiously) any mentions of same-sex relationships she found in the media, read up on lesbian issues (in an academic sense, since all the rest was way too embarrassing), and imagined at least four-hundred separate scenarios in which Mio tried to tell her parents and they broke down crying, disowned Mio, or flung themselves out the windows of high-rise office buildings in despair.

But even those worries weren’t half as bad as Mio’s imagined scenarios of what would happen if Ritsu found out. Ritsu would either 1) disavow their friendship for all time, 2) tease Mio mercilessly forever, or 3) try to set Mio up with every single guy in a five-mile radius (if Ritsu thought Mio needed ‘fixing’) or, alternately, every single girl (probably more likely).

So, as a result, Mio fretted and worried for months and months and concluded to herself every night that she really shouldn’t do anything and it was all better being a secret, after all.

And nothing ever happened.

***

When Ritsu first realized she liked Mio that way, she walked right up to Mio, planted a loud smack right on her lips, and announced (loudly), “Be my girlfriend, okay, Mio?”

Mio’s face turned bright red. “Y-Y-You can’t just do it like that!” Mio insisted. “It’s not that easy!”

Ritsu scratched her head. “Why not?”

Mio gaped.

Because, for once, it turned out that Ritsu’s way was smarter after all.