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(youthful beautiful)

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Two fingertips walked along the edge of the cold, metal railing.

Tap, tap.

Each resounding ping was crisp, growing louder the closer Akane’s hand travelled towards the other girl. “Shoo, shoo, shoo,” she’d whisper in her light-hearted voice, every time a finger-pad made contact with the rail. “One, two, three, four...”

Rikka stared at the slender, petite fingers making their slow and calculated approach from the corner of her eye. The movements reflected off of her sapphire irises like they were glassy orbs.

The glint in Akane’s eyes, however, was full of a certain devilishness. Her pale lips pulled into a squiggly line, like a half-smirk mixed with the face she’d make when a laugh was ready to burst through. The hand stopped halfway between them. A cool silence spread.

Rikka bit her bottom lip. She wouldn’t play this game, she wouldn’t—

“—Ri~kka.” The sound of Akane’s rouge jacket shifting accompanied her sing-songy voice. She leaned onto the railing, kicking one leg back and forth, her shoe scraping the cement. “Don’t be like that with me...” Her tongue stuck out playfully.

Rikka’s grip tightened on the rail as she swallowed. Her head tilted a bit to the side, but no eye contact was maintained.

Her hand lifted up, palm laying flat and calm against the metal. It lifted up again, hesitant but proud in its approach. There was a pleased hum from Akane that bubbled into a giggle when Rikka began to walk her fingers.

Tap, tap, tap.

The light of the waning afternoon sun glistened across the shining steel. Rikka’s posture marginally relaxed and a quiet smile spread like smooth chocolate across her face. All the while, her fingers inched closer to the center—where Akane’s hand stretched almost impatiently, beckoning her.

Akane’s hand pounced like a hunter in wait, attacking its prey at the opportune chance. The sudden movement made Rikka flinch a little, sending a spark up her arm, but she didn’t move from under Akane’s grip.

“Aha, Rikka! I’ve got you~!” Then the real predator flew forward, propelling from the concrete ground and promptly into Rikka. This made a yelp come from the oblivious victim, nearly falling over. Her one hand still held firmly onto Rikka’s, but the other arm wrapped around her supple hips, providing balance. Akane’s breasts pushed into Rikka’s side, and she ran her palm up her abdomen, resting it on her chest and squeezing

“—A-Akane, why this so suddenly?!” Rikka shrugged her shoulders closer as she said this in a whiny tone. But she still clasped Akane’s delicate hand almost feverishly.

Akane stopped after a moment and pulled back a little. “Ah, it’s fine, it’s nothing, I’m just teasing you.” She stretched back, letting her arm go limp as Rikka held it tightly. One arm angled against the railing, and her chin soon rested atop the meaty part of her palm.

A wind brushed past, moving Rikka’s hair all about and filling her with...guilt? Maybe she shouldn’t have been so harsh... She scooted herself closer, little by little, both of their hands still chilled by the metal, resting atop it. “...Sorry, you just startled me, that’s all.”

“Mmm.” Rikka turned, and Akane was grinning cheerfully in that signature Akane way. “I know.”

Rikka smiled back softly, staring at Akane as if she was etching her image into her memory. And she very well was doing just that.

“—Heheh, your face is all pink.” That grin turned devious instantly. Akane waggled a finger at her and then placed her hands on her hips.

“Err—!” Rikka twisted her face away from Akane’s teasing gaze and lifted her fingertips up to touch her cheeks. They certainly felt warm... Was the color change really that visible, too? “A-Anyway, shouldn’t we go back inside...? The others will get worried at this rate.” There was a gentle squeeze from Rikka’s hand.

Akane hesitated and then squeezed back lightly, three times: I. Love. You. “But breaks are the best part about study sessions! We’re staying way longer than I expected.” Akane released Rikka’s hand and bent down to grab her juice-box, which was resting on the ground near her feet. Her fingers adjusted the straw and she took a long sip.

The sound of an empty juice-box made it’s way to Rikka’s ears. She laughed when her gaze snapped to a frowning Akane. She really was cute when she got grumpy.

“Ohhhh, I’m all out of juice, huh...” Akane crushed it absentmindedly and stuffed into into her pocket. She turned to the side—Rikka was looking at her knowingly, her arms crossed and a half-smirk teasing her lips. “...Alright,” sighed Akane, shrugged her shoulders in defeat.

Rikka stepped forward and offered up her arm for Akane to link with. “Shall we?”

Akane grabbed her and didn’t let go until they reached the classroom.


The other girls were long gone when Rikka and Akane had packed up their things into their schoolbags. Yes, their schoolbags were long packed, the chalkboard had long been wiped clean, and their snacks from the local convenience store had already been freshly torn open.

Akane was laying back across one of the two desks they had shoved together by their tops, with Rikka sitting beside her atop the other. Soon, they’d have to venture home, but for now they would enjoy their time alone.

“We’ll only be able to stay a little longer, Akane,” inserted Rikka, who was scrolling through missed messages on her phone. She had forced herself to pay attention during the study session earlier, and thus there were several chats as well as social media accounts for her to refresh. “If we wait until dark, it’ll be bad. I don’t want Mom to get freaked out, either.”

For the second time today, Akane sipped the last of her juice up with a content sigh. “Uaah, hanging out with you is the best, though...” She stretched herself out, crushing her juice-box and dropping it lazily onto the floor. Rikka watched it sit on the tile with a bitter gaze. “...Especially when there’s no studying involved.”

“You really weren’t studying, though, were you?” Rikka set her phone down on the desktop and tilted her face to look down at the other. “Your notebook pages were full of doodles the whole way through. Not a single equation written down—“

“—Ehhh, so?” Akane’s lips formed into a pout and she idly kicked her legs up and down. “Study circle is boring, anyway. And I’m tiiiired...” As if on cue, a yawn came out, shielded from the world by Akane’s sleeve.

From Rikka, there was an equally loud sigh of exasperation. Though, she did look mostly amused as she shook her head. “It’s not like I don’t agree, but...” Rikka stopped for a moment, but ended up simply shrugging. “The test is tomorrow, are you sure you’re prepared?”

“I’ll manage.” Akane waved her hand dismissively at her and blew her bangs out of her eyes. Her hand reached for a few Pocky sticks, which she shoved into her mouth. She was quite partial to those, and their trip to the convenience store saw Akane buying multiple flavors—Rikka favored the green tea variety, so she’d secretly swiped a box of them from Akane’s stash. “Besides,” she swallowed the last of the sticks, “I have you to help me later tonight if I need it, right?”

Rikka looked at her and blinked. Then, the corners of her mouth pulled up into a small smile. “Of course,” she said curtly, crossing her legs. She shimmied her bottom toward the center of the desk, scooting closer to Akane.

Temptation took ahold of her—she grabbed one of the Pocky sticks and stuck the chocolate end at the corner of her lips.

Meanwhile, Akane had unwrapped a small melonpan and was ripping pieces off of it as she looked through her small, pastel pink notebook. The front had golden borders and a gold-trimmed clasp to lock it up.

Rikka’s eyebrows creased a fraction. Odd.. She couldn’t recall Akane ever using that during classes. And she wouldn’t have it out voluntarily if it was a school notebook.

She observed the other quietly out of the corner of her eye.

First she’d eat a piece of bread, then flip through a few pages. A dreamy-looking smile was on her face consistently, brightening with every page turned... Hmm, could it be a sketchbook? Rikka averted her gaze once she felt she was being too suspicious, and instead went for a small piece of chocolate still in the convenience store plastic bag.

“Heehee~”

Rikka snapped her face toward Akane again, posture tightening as she looked down. The book was open and flat, clutched tightly to her chest as Akane stared up at Rikka with a goofy grin on her face.

They made eye contact for a brief moment.

“What’s in there?” said Rikka, craning her neck down as if ready to snatch the notebook away. Akane moved it away and chortled. “Akane—“

“—Boo, don’t be that way, Rikka.” But Akane sat up wearily, the book still pressed against her ample bosom. Those shining, dark fuchsia eyes of hers locked with Rikka’s. The look in them was one of contemplation. The notebook lowered from her grip slightly, and Akane tapped her chin.

“Well?” questioned Rikka, tapping her fingers on the desktop anxiously. Her legs shifted in their crossed position. She turned her body to better face Akane. “If it’s personal, I didn’t mean to force you—“

“—Mmm, mmm, I think I’ll show you, Rikka dear!” With those words, there was a decided nod from Akane, slow and sure. She held up the book. “But only one page... I can’t spoil it all!”

Rikka leaned in eagerly, biting her tongue. Her eyes grew wider. Akane flipped to a page near the middle portion of the notebook, and turned it around with a proud smile on her face.

“Oh...?” Rikka blinked. Her eyes scanned the two pages up and down. On both sides, there were pictures of both of them printed out and taped to the lined paper. She seemed to recall that these were taken with Akane’s phone... One on the left side was of them together on the bus, and the two on the right were of Rikka modeling various outfits from her closet. “Ph-Photographs... Ah, Akane—“

Before the proper words could get out, Akane held up the book—fanned out—blocking their faces, and leaned forward quickly for an abrupt, rough kiss. Her finger lifted up Rikka’s jaw for a second.

And then she pulled back, snapping the book closed and leaving Rikka in disarray. “Let’s take plenty more pictures, okay?” said Akane cheerfully, locking the notebook out and showing off her cracked smartphone.

After recovering and letting the whiteness in her face shade to peach again, Rikka clasped her hands together and smiled ever so softly. “Yeah, we’ll definitely take a million more.”