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The spring air is crisp in the train station.

Kotori smiles at Nico, kisses her firmly, and then pushes her girlfriend onto the train. The black-haired girl looks startled, but her face relaxes. Nico smiles and gently waves at Kotori.

“Bye,” Kotori mouths, and then a second later, she adds an “I love you.”

The train is already pulling away from the station. She doesn’t know if Nico saw it.


 

kotobird: how’s the dorm looking?  missing me yet? maybe it’s a bit wrong to say i hope so~ (・8・) ♪

#1 super idol in th…: it’s decent, i guess. luckily i ended up without a roommate, i guess there was no one good enough for the great nico-nii~

#1 super idol in th…: and i’ve been missing you since you put me on the train, kotori.  

#1 super idol in th…: i love you too♡

kotobird: (´∀`)♡ goodnight nico-chan!


 

The cherry blossoms bloom a couple weeks later. It’s the first time in two years that Nico isn’t there to look at them with Kotori. It’s also the first time in ages that the pink blooms didn’t signal a new school year for Kotori.

Her last year of high school had been great, and she had fully intended on furthering her education at university. But then the news came. Over the course of the year, Kotori had been sending her works off to various competitions and companies. Nothing had come of it, until—

“They want me to work for them?” Kotori had practically squeaked, “They’re one of the biggest fashion companies in Tokyo, and they’re impressed by me. Me! Nico, can you believe it?”

Nico had laughed, and grabbed Kotori’s hands, and spoke to her warmly.

“Go for it, Kotori. You can do it.”

Of course, this had promptly ruined everything.

The two girls had already made plans: go to the same university, move in together, adopt a cat, and live in domesticity forever. Endgame. Despite their one-year gap in age, the pair would be entering university together.

Nico had taken a gap year from school to pursue her idol dreams. Despite everything, despite μ’s, she had decided to forge her own path as a solo artist. All 8 of the other girls had supported her at the beginning, cheering in the front row at Nico’s first live show, eating together after every show. But then, school caught up with Eli, and Nozomi, and student council duties took over Honoka and Umi’s lives, and Rin joined track and took Hanayo along with her, and then Maki was sucked into her family’s hospital. So Kotori continued to show up at every show and she and Nico would eat together and walk home after every show.

So maybe that was how their whole thing started.

As Kotori continued to show up, however, the crowds dwindled and dwindled. The appeal of  “Former Member of the Legendary μ’s!” faded quickly, and with it went audience members.

Then one day, Kotori had shown up. Nobody else had.

Nico had gone through her whole set, but Kotori saw the tears at the edges of her eyes. Nonetheless, Nico had fought through it; a true idol to the end. And when the end came, Kotori had pulled Nico into her arms and held her close. They didn’t go out that night, rather, Kotori had brought Nico up to her room and tucked her into Kotori’s warm bed.

Nico was never invited back to another venue, but that was okay. When Nico crumbled apart, Kotori had been there.


 

But now, they were apart.

The cherry blossoms bloomed, and Nico left, and Kotori threw herself into work. However, though she had made desperate efforts, she couldn’t help but text Nico 24/7.

 

kotobird: what do you think of this bow? or this one?? i can’t pick (❁°͈ 8 °͈)

kotobird: i miss yoooooooouuuuu (っ˘̩ 8 ˘̩)っ come back to me asap!

kotobird: you must be in class! do your best, my love! ✿♪

 

Kotori smiles at her own texts and goes back to sewing buttons onto a jacket. Maybe work isn’t quite the whirlwind adventure she expected, but it’s still good work, and she’s being paid a good amount for it.

So she works, works, works and misses her girlfriend like crazy. Her nights are lonely, and she often wakes to find herself aching for the company of another. There’s no one there, so she just rolls over and goes back to sleep.

 

It’s not all perfect for Nico at university.

 

“Kotori… it’s awful here. No one knows me— no one even talks to me, it’s like I’m invisible!” She shakes her head from side to side, pigtails swinging. Her head is turned away from the camera, so Kotori can just see the left side of her face. Through the blurry camera, Kotori sees Nico’s hands shake violently. “I can’t do this! I miss you, and I’m not learning anything, and I— I!”

“Hey, hey!” Kotori leans in closer to the screen. “It’s okay, hey, you’ve only just started. I believe in you, Nico. You can do anything! Just hang in there, okay? For me, if anything.”

Nico turns toward the camera and tries for a smile.

“Okay. Okay, for you. I’ll try. I love you. I’ll see you next weekend, right?”

They do see each other next weekend. It’s too much to do every weekend, way too expensive, but there are some when Kotori’s saved up enough and both of them are free that she makes the trip. They eat at little cafes, go shopping, and pour over magazines together. Gradually, Nico’s face begins to perk up more and more, and by the time the semester ends, Nico’s finally found her groove.

Kotori waits for her at the train station. The air is colder now, and Kotori can see her breath rising in the air as she waits.

“Hey, Kotori!”

The cry of her name causes her to turn around quickly, and before she can find her bearings, she’s being swept up in a tiny hug.

“I missed you so much!” Kotori cries out, excited to see her girlfriend.

“I’m really, really glad to be home.”

The break is great for them. Kotori takes Nico back to her tiny apartment immediately, expecting the two of them to kiss and hug and touch for hours. What actually happens is this: Nico takes one look at the apartment, and demands that they interior decorate.

“I expect better from you, Kotori! The number one super idol in the universe’s girlfriend can’t live in such a hovel, it’s practically—!”

Kotori grabs Nico by the collar and pulls her in for a kiss. It’s the first they’ve kissed in a while, maybe even since the beginning of the semester. Nico doesn’t like public affection much, and Kotori doesn’t mind that at all. Instead of kissing, they hold hands and bump knees under the table. It’s perfect. But so is this, yes, yes it is. Kotori’s lips are on Nico’s, and oh Nico’s hand has slipped onto her hip and—

Nico steps back, brushes her skirt down, and clears her throat.

Interior decorating, Kotori! No time for super makeouts!”

Kotori turns beet red. Nico scoffs, happy to have gotten one-up on her girlfriend— for once.

“C’mon!”

On the walk to the home decorating store, Kotori shows Nico cute pictures of bunnies and dogs and look these two are best friends, Nico! It’s all very endearing and Nico can’t help but reflect on how lucky she is.

They buy many things to spice up the apartment and spend hours placing flowers and sticking posters to the wall, all while old μ’s tracks played in the background.

When they’re done, it’s very late at night. They sit on the couch, Nico laying on top of Kotori, watching some mindless television program. Nico’s lit about 500 vanilla-scented candles around them, claiming it sets the mood or something.

Suddenly, Nico pulls herself up, crosses her legs (pretzel-style, a voice that sounds suspiciously like Kotori’s kindergarten teacher supplies,) and turns to face Kotori. The sudden loss of warmth surprises Kotori.

“Sorry,” Nico starts, placing her hands on Kotori’s thin wrists, “I just. I needed to see you. I really missed you, you know that?”

Kotori nods. Of course, she does. She presses her hands into the soft couch, pushes herself up so that she’s eye to eye with Nico.

“I know that I’m not, uh, the best with my emotions,” Nico laughs a little as she speaks, and Kotori rolls her eyes. “At least, not in person. It’s really hard for me to open up to people— you know that, I know, but,” She turns a violent shade of red. “I feel really… open with you. So thanks for that. You really— yeah, ah,” Nico coughs a little. “Thanks.”

Kotori smiles softly and puts her warm hands on Nico’s shoulders.

“I know. Trust me, I know. I’m happy to be that person. You make me so happy.” Though she smiles, tears start to form at the corners of her eyes. Kotori doesn’t stop smiling.

“Hey, hey, what’s wrong?”Nico giggles sweetly. She places her fingertips right by Kotori’s eyes and wipes the tears away. She runs her fingers under Kotori’s eyes, sweeping them over the bags Kotori’s been desperate to hide. “What are…” Nico frowns. “Kotori… you…?”

“Don’t worry about it!” Kotori pulls Nico’s hands into her own. “It’s just, aah, Kotori has a little trouble sleeping when Nico isn’t here. It’s not a problem!”

Nico’s frown deepens.

“Kotori, you’re exhausted.” Her tone is serious, the kind of serious that scares Hanayo and freaks out Eli. “You can’t keep doing this to yourself. If you can’t fall asleep, you need to find a way, somehow. I’ll help you, even!” Her serious exterior crumbles away, and Nico just looks sad.

“I’m not worth that, Kotori. I need you to be okay.”

Kotori nods and pulls Nico into her arms. She doesn’t let go until the sun rises and the morning finds the two of them still fast asleep on the couch.