From the other end of the hall, Yuri watched.
It was a tradition of hers that had developed over the past few weeks. The literature club would dismiss, MC would head to his locker to pack up for the day, and Yuri would try to work up the nerve to ask him out. Sure, it was creepy, Yuri knew that. However, she wasn't trying to be creepy. Indeed, every day that was spent watching MC was another failed attempt to ask him out. She wished she could be as social as Monika, or as cheerful as Sayori, but Yuri was just not that type of girl. She could only watch from a distance, fantasize about a potential relationship, and hope that he would be the one that would make the first move.
Sayori was with him today. That wasn't unusual, as Sayori and MC often walked home together. Yuri, of course, liked Sayori, but it always irked her that MC spent so much time with her. Asking him out would be difficult enough if it was just the two of them. A third party would only make that even more awkward. What was unusual about today is that Natsuki was also with them. What they were talking about, Yuri could not quite hear, so she stepped just a little bit closer, cupped her ears, and listened as intently as she could.
"So, are you walking home with us today, Natsuki?" MC inquired as he placed his books into his backpack.
"Uh, yeah, about that," Sayori began as she awkwardly tapped her fingers against her own locker. "Natsuki and I are actually walking home together. We have a sleepover planned for this weekend, and I was gonna buy us some treats. You don't mind walking home by yourself today, do you?"
MC shrugged, but smiled genuinely. "That's alright, Sayori. I think a sleepover between the two of you is a wonderful thing. Besides, we can always walk home together another time, right?"
Sayori nodded, grinning happily. "Yep! Thank you for understanding, MC!" she exclaimed as she suddenly grabbed Natsuki by her shoulder and pulled her into a platonic hug. "C'mon, Natsuki! We're gonna have fun tonight!"
Natsuki huffed. "Yeah, whatever. I'm only doing this because you desperately need someone to teach you how to cook."
Sayori giggled, completely unfazed by Natsuki's dig. "Hey, I'm not that bad."
"You nearly burned down your-"
"Yeah, yeah, I know," Sayori nodded nervously. "No need to rub it in, meanie."
The two of them headed down the hallway, leaving MC by himself at his locker. Yuri's heart raced a bit as she absentmindedly jingled her car keys in her pocket. She had an opportunity here. She could drive him home today!
For the past year, she had possessed a license, but hadn't had much of an opportunity to use it. Dad worked often, and Mom didn't like Yuri using the car. That's why, after lots of hard work and the frugality of a penny-pincher, Yuri had finally purchased a used car just last week. It was just too bad that she didn't really have anyone to drive around with.
But this was her big chance. He could be her very first passenger ever. It was like fate.
She shook her head. OK, maybe she was a little too excited. It was just going to be a short ride, right? It wasn't a good idea to bring destiny into something so trivial.
If that was true, though, then why was she so nervous? More nervous than usual, anyway.
MC turned and began to walk away, and Yuri realized that she had to act now. She began to sprint down the hallway after him. Whether or not destiny was a player her wouldn't matter if she allowed the opportunity to pass up.
MC turned around and flashed a friendly smile as Yuri caught up to him. "Oh, hey Yuri. What's up?"
Yuri took a moment to catch her breath, then held up her car key.
She also said nothing, because the words were stuck in her throat. It resulted in a long and uncomfortable silence.
MC tilted his head. "Uh, why are you dangling you car keys at me?"
Yuri screamed internally as her social anxiety was cranked up to eleven.
"Car!" she exclaimed. "Car ride! Us! Together! No walking for you!"
AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH WHAT AM I DOING!?
MC raised an eyebrow as his smile turned into a concerned frown. "Yuri, are you having a stroke? Do I need to take you to the nurse's office?"
In a desperate effort to restore her social skills, Yuri breathed in deeply. Luckily, the relaxation technique that she had been practicing seemed to work well enough. "Yes! Um. . . I mean no. Sorry, I'm just so nervous."
"I know that feel, sister," MC replied.
"Well, uh. I was wondering. . . And feel free to say no if it goes against your, er, schedule! But, uh, would you like me to drive you home? I've never driven with a passenger before."
MC nodded almost instantly. "Yeah, that would be great. My books are rather heavy, anyway."
"Yes!" Yuri jumped for joy. Then, she realized that she was doing it in front of MC, and she shrunk in shame. "S-sorry."
But MC only chuckled. "You're funny, Yuri."
She wasn't sure if that was a compliment or not, but she decided that she didn't care at the moment. "Uh, yeah. Well, f-follow me, if you w-want."
The two of them exited the school building and made their way to the student parking lot. Yuri led the way, and MC followed closely behind. As they traversed past the nearly-empty lot, Yuri cursed herself for deciding to park way on the far corner of the lot. How could MC ever tolerate someone as foolish as her? It didn't make any sense.
"S-sorry for parking so far away," Yuri spoke as they walked. "A-all the good parking spaces were taken this morning."
"Eh, it's alright, Yuri. I appreciate the gesture, anyway. Besides, our days always can't go how we want 'em to, right?"
Yuri smiled ever so slightly. "That's true enough, I suppose."
One of the things she loved about him was how forgiving he was. Though her social anxiety still served as a significant barrier, Yuri did feel as though MC truly liked her for who she was. It made her feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Would he say yes to a date?
Even if he would, could she be so bold as to ask him out?
Only time would tell.
She caught a glimpse of her car, and shook herself out of her train of thought. She pointed at it. "There's our ride, MC."
Physically speaking, Yuri's car was nothing special. It was an older model white 4-door sedan, covered in dirt and grime from its previous owner, but it still ran properly. Yuri vowed that she would one day paint it purple, but all of her money had already gone toward buying it in the first place, so that day would have to wait.
"Ah, it looks nice," MC complimented. "I'm sorry, I don't know much about cars."
"No, it's OK. I don't either. I'm just happy to finally have one," Yuri hummed blissfully.
"I can tell. You mind if I put my backpack in the backseat?"
"Of course," Yuri replied with a nod.
Yuri unlocked her car and delicately placed her own backpack behind the driver's seat. MC lazily tossed his backpack into the passenger side, then took a seat at shotgun. Yuri climbed into the driver's seat, stuck her keys into the ignition, and breathed deeply as her engine roared to life.
"Y-you can listen to something on the radio, if you w-want. I had an audiobook tape in, b-but I finished it this morning."
MC shook his head. "No thanks, it's not a long drive. How about we talk, instead?"
Yuri nearly swerved into the corner's curbas the idea of a prolonged conversation with MC entered her mind. "Y-yes! That, uh, sounds lovely."
Me and my big mouth.
"Good. Take a left once you're out of the parking lot. I only live a few blocks down the road."
Yuri did as she was told, and soon they were on the bustling streets of the city. Yuri drove cautiously, taking care to avoid any potential danger to her new vehicle. She also tried to think of a potential conversation starter, but nothing came to her mind.
"So, read any good books lately?" MC inquired to break the silence.
"Oh, lots!" Yuri exclaimed. Thank God MC was able to think of a topic that she was passionate about. "Like, for example, the audiobook I was listening to today was a fantasy story. It was about a goblin who had to try and win the humans' trust. It subverted a lot of traditional tropes about goblins in a fantasy world, and its portrayal of prevalent racism among both sides made me wonder about more traditionally-written goblins in other universes. I'm starting to wonder if there were times when "evil" goblins were actually not as bad as the humans portrayed them to be."
Yuri's eyes were alive and vivid as she spoke, a detail that did not go unnoticed by MC. She positively glowed whenever she spoke about books, and the subtle smiles she flashed whenever she described her favorite tales granted her a graceful beauty.
"Oh, I'm sorry!" Yuri suddenly jumped in her seat. "I'm. . . I'm ranting again, aren't I?"
"No, no. You're fine. Tell me more about the goblins. What is their society like?"
Yuri spent the next few minutes dominating the conversation, not that MC minded. He wasn't really one for speculative fiction, but the way Yuri described this well-crafted world in detail captivated his attention. What captivated him even more, though, was how excited, outgoing, and precious she was as she described something she cared about so deeply. He wanted to see this side of Yuri more often.
"Hey Yuri," MC interrupted. "I love everything you're telling me, but we're coming up to my house on the right."
Yuri slammed the brakes, nearly smashing her nose against the steering wheel. "Oh, right! S-sorry. I didn't even g-g-give you a chance to talk, did I? I-I didn't mean to be so rude, I swear! I just," Yuri inhaled. "I just got really nervous. I'm n-not really good at talking to crushes-"
Yuri slapped her mouth shut, but it was too late. She had let it slip. She turned to MC, her face red as a tomato, and bowed her head.
MC hesitated for a moment. "You have a crush on me, Yuri?"
Yuri nodded. "I-I-I-I-"
"And you have a car, right?"
Yuri nodded again. "Yes, but-"
MC smiled. "Good. It will make going on dates a lot easier. How about we do something tomorrow? It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just a trip to the library together, maybe? What do you say?"
Yuri uncovered her mouth, and despite what was undoubtedly good news, MC saw that she was on the verge of tears. "You're. . . You're not mad?"
"Mad?" MC chuckled. "Why would I be mad at you, Yuri? Especially when I like you, too."
Yuri gasped. "You do?"
"Of course," MC replied, smiling like the goofball he was. "Now, about that date.-"
"Yes!" Yuri exclaimed enthusiastically "Of course! I-I'll text you tomorrow morning, i-if that's OK with you."
MC grabbed his backpack from the back seat, opened the passenger door, and stepped out. "Sounds good to me. Take care Yuri, I'll see you tomorrow."
As MC began to walk toward his house, Yuri thought she caught the faintest hint of a blush on MC's cheeks. She smiled to herself.
"I'm going on a date with MC," she reminded herself. "I'm going on a date with MC!" she repeated, now louder. "I'M GOING ON A DATE WITH MC! WOOHOO!" She shouted as she sped out of MC's driveway and onto the busy streets. Little did she know that she was driving in the exact opposite direction of her house, but that was OK, because a thrilling drive was exactly what Yuri needed to celebrate.