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closer to you

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There's a piano at the main branch of JP’s, but Fumi has never once seen it.

Sometimes, Otome asks her though and Fumi wonders why she bothers. It always ends with the other smiling at her and telling her she should see it, at least once, because maybe someone will be playing it. Of course, Fumi thinks it's silly and forgets about it entirely the moment she steps foot outside the office.

It's in the middle of the night that Fumi is restlessly wandering the halls of the organization after running into a bit of a problem with her research. Sometimes, it helps to mindlessly wander about and mull over it. Sometimes, it doesn't do anything at all and she just goes to bed in mild irritation. She hopes it's not the latter case this time.

There's a faint sound though coming from down the hall and Fumi pauses, staring ahead in curiosity as her mind hones in on the noise. There's a melody to it and suddenly it occurs to her that this is the infamous piano. She finds it humorous that the first question to come to her mind is whether people think this piano is haunted or something and that's why anyone bothered to locate it. There is absolutely zero fear as she strides over to investigate and the moment she busts in, Fumi fully expects there to be someone sitting there at the bench.

And there is, but she doesn't expect it to be someone she knows.


The woman in question turns around and looks totally alarmed. "O-oh, Fumi? You're up late..."

Fumi stares blankly as though she still can't quite process what is unfurling before her now. It's almost as if she had walked in to the piano being actually haunted.

"Um, Fumi?" Makoto blinks at the long silence, concern starting to set in.

"Oh. Yes, right," Fumi manages to straighten herself out. "I really didn't expect to walk in on you here."

Makoto smiles at her, knowing full well of the confusion. "Mm, this is something I don't really like to let people know about."

"Surely, other people have caught you before at least once or twice?"

"N-not really. You know, most people are asleep or at home... and even if they aren't, they're certainly not in this section of the building."

"... Otome?"

"Oh. Well," Makoto sheepishly nods in confirmation. "Did she tell you?"

"She didn't mention you specifically, just the piano."

"Oh, I guess that's fine then."

Fumi takes the opportunity to close the distance between them and takes a seat next to Makoto on the bench. "So wait, you can play the piano? Like you're not just messing around?"

Makoto laughs, before glancing back at the keys. "I mean, I'm not very good at it."

"Okay, so you just remember everything from music class in 5th grade then or what?"

"Oh. No, uh," Makoto hesitates in answering as though trying to be careful of how to phrase it. "I think this was supposed to be my backup if things went wrong with swimming."

Fumi returns to staring in total silence at this and the moment it clicks, she immediately feels some vague mixture of emotion for Makoto.

"That... makes sense then," is all she can say. It does make sense. It makes too much sense, in fact. She wishes it didn't, though.

"It does," Makoto forces a laugh, before turning back to the piano. "At least now I can just play at my own leisure though. That's fine enough."

"Y-yeah," Fumi agrees, still staring at Makoto in deep thought.

It's not hard to figure out that Fumi is busy trying to sort out Makoto in her brain and Makoto finds it difficult to sit there in silence as she does. Looking over at the other, she asks, "Want me to play you a song?"

"A song...?"

"Yeah, anything you want. Well," Makoto pauses, realizing she should clarify, "okay, I have to know it, but-"

Fumi considers a couple well-known pieces, but the thought occurs to her that Makoto might be even more skilled than she let on. "Have you ever... composed your own?"

Makoto's gaze lingers on her for a moment, before she refocuses on the piano before her. "It's not anything great, but... yes."

"If you don't mind, I would like to hear that then."

Makoto's fingers hover awkwardly, nervousness seeping in at the fact that she would be further exposing herself, but it was Fumi after all.

Her fingers begin gently, almost shyly, and Fumi watches her with great fascination at the steady build of the intro. Makoto's fingers skillfully travel across the keys, producing slow but pronounced notes that linger alongside the softer, milder strokes of the main melody and Fumi wonders when and how much she worked on this. It's clear though from the look on Makoto's face that perhaps this was something that clearly held meaning to her beyond anything anyone else could ever totally grasp. It definitely feels significant anyway and Fumi finds herself lost in the moment, in watching Makoto look so strangely serene the longer it went on.

Before she knows it, the song comes to a slow and soft close and Makoto releases a breath that she hadn't even realized she had been holding. Fumi starts clapping and Makoto feels herself growing warm with slight embarrassment.

"You really are quite amazing," Fumi smiles at her and Makoto meets her gaze.

"Thank you, it's been awhile and," Makoto hesitates, but continues, "I... I haven't really played that for anyone else before so..."

“Ah, so I really lucked out tonight, huh?"

Makoto doesn't say anything and just goes back to staring at the keys again. She considers saying a multitude of things about it, but maybe it's better to leave it alone. Fumi disrupts this by hitting one of the keys abruptly.

"I can't play instruments," Fumi choppily hits the keys in what Makoto can tell is supposed to be the tune of ode to joy. "So it's pretty impressive that you’re able to so... easily. I can't believe I might have never known this about you, considering everything-"

As Fumi's finger lingers on that last key and the note fades, Makoto decides to finally say something before Fumi makes an attempt to elaborate further.

"I’m really glad I could play something for you."

"Haha, I certainly enjoyed listening. I quite nearly forgot why I wound up here in the first place," Fumi says, before quickly checking the time on her phone. "Which reminds me, I should probably go back to that."

"Oh, yes. You're right. It is getting pretty late now."

“Well then,” Fumi rises to a stand, giving Makoto a gentle squeeze on the shoulder soon after. "Good night, Sakocchi."

They stare at each other for longer than usual as Fumi just tilts her head in the slightest at her with the same amused smile and Makoto wonders if she should say something more than just a simple good night at this point. Eventually, her hand rises to Fumi's and she slowly removes her fingers from her shoulder and questioningly peers up at Fumi. Even without saying anything, it’s obvious enough to her what she is asking permission for and so Fumi makes no move to pull her hand away.

With that, Makoto brings the back of her hand to her lips to place a gentle kiss.

"Good night, Fumi,” she says as though that’s the end of it, but it’s only the beginning.