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Then & Now

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Now

The sun is shining. The sky is deep blue. From time to time you see a light cloud flying by. For Maya, it could storm or snow. It would not matter to her, because today is a very special day. Maya stares out the window, with her thoughts elsewhere. She never expected to stand here, she never expected her life to develop this way. No, if you had asked her 17 year old self, she would not have dared to imagine. Her life was always focused on success and perfection, rarely wasting any thoughts on other things. But after all these years, now she is here, waiting for Kaoruko.

After a few moments, the door opened. Kaoruko, who usually smirks and has a cheeky spell on her lips, carries a big dress on her arms and comes rushing into the large dressing room. She allready wears her deep blue dress which she had bought for this spezial day. Out of breath she puts the big wedding dress, which was still wrapped in a protective bag, on one of the chairs. She turns around quickly and closes the door. Maya turns her gaze from the window to her visibly exhausted maid of honor.

With a grin, Maya says, "You look a bit unhappy, the day hasn't even started yet".

She gets an annoyed and angry look back. Maya knows well that Kaoruko had planned her part in the wedding. She wants it to be perfect. She had told Futaba and Claudine that Maya will be the first at the wedding altar. But she had forgotten the wedding dress in the hotel out of sheer stress and excitement. Good that Futaba hasn't noticed. She doesn´t want to give Futaba another chance to remind her, grinning, that she is unable to do things on her own. No! She is too proud for that.

"You know exactly why Maya-han. Why did you choose such a big dress? It's so big that it barely fits in the car." says Kaoruko with an annoyed voice.

"If I recall correctly, you've advised me on this dress," says Maya, visibly amused with an even bigger grin than she already had.

"Because I did not know that I have to carry the dress myself, God! My feet are killing me." groans Kaoruko as she sits down on one of the chairs.

Maya's cheeky grin turns into a gentle smile. She is grateful for what Kaoruko and the others are doing for her. She herself would not do it any differently. She would also stand by Kaoruko if the roles were swapped.

"We dont need to rush, there are still 3 hours left"

"WHAT ONLY 3 !?" Kaoruko startles, wildly searching the room for a clock. When she did not find one, she pulled her phone out of her purse and took a deep breath, "Fuck! Maya-han do you actually know how long it takes to get ready for a wedding, especially when you're the bride !?"

"I do not have to remind you, but this is my first wedding as a bride, I'm not familiar with the procedure," Maya coolly answers, hands behind her back innocently. She stood in front of the large whole-body mirror that stood in the room and looked at it. What should take so long? To put on the dress, make the hair a little pretty and maybe some make-up. That can never take so much time, Maya thought.

With a hopeless sigh Karouko got up, hands on hips, "Of course you do not know that, but you have me for that." She grinned at Maya. Maya returned the look with the same grin through the reflection of the mirror. Karouko seemed to have recovered from her involuntary walk.

She waited for an answer from Maya. However, she remained silent. Maya switched her gaze from Kaoruko back to the clear blue sky. With her thoughts back to the days when everything started ....

 

---

Then

Today, today is the day!

Today is the day that Tendo Maya, the top star of the 99th grade of Seisho Music Academy, finally finds enough courage to share her feelings. She had decided that.

It was a Saturday, the dorm was emptier than usual. Many were out with their friends, catching up on the spare time they had sacrificed for the preparations. After the second performance of Starlight, everything was visibly less tense. Nana even went to the kitchen early in the morning, to prepare a big meal for everyone. Junna helped her of course.

Karen, Hikari and Mahiru were shopping in Tokyo. Karen announced with a loud voice to buy little gifts for everyone, but as you know Karen, she will buy either sweets or pointless stuff. Nevertheless, everyone would be happy (or pretend to be).

Kaoruko and Futaba went to a motorcycle repair shop. Futaba's bike had been making strange noises for a couple of days, what made her stop driving with it, much to the displeasure of Kaoruko, who complained about walking the whole week to school. At some point, it was too much for Futaba and she dragged Kaoruko and the bike to the repair shop.

Maya, however, had nothing in mind except for the big meeting. Whatsoever, telling someone her deep feelings is excitement enough, she thought to herself. She waited in her small single room, running up and down with one hand on her chin and the other on her hip. Damn it! She had already prepared a speech and practiced it in front of the mirror. Nevertheless, it did not let go of the questions: how should she start, how exactly should she formulate it without getting a well-known annoyed reaction. But the most important thought was 'how will she answer?'. This worried Maya the most. She knew there was some tension between the two, but did she interpret it correctly? What if only she feels that way?

"It does not matter, I have to tell her, she has to know," Maya whispered to herself. She had been struggling with the idea of telling her for months and came to the decision that she did not want to regret anything. This form of nervousness is new to Maya. She was never so excited or prepared for something so intense. It did not seem to be overhyped. But it was not a simple play or a song that she had to perform. It was a deep confession of her feelings.

There was a knock on the door, which brought Maya out of her thoughts. "Tendo Maya are you there?" She heard a voice calling from outside the room.

With some hesitant steps, she went to the door and opened it. She saw a blond girl, slightly shorter than Maya, with her usual blue shorts, black and red hoodie and an annoyed look on her face, with her hands on her hips.

"How long should I wait for you Tendo Maya !?", said the half Frenchwoman in her usual annoyed tone.

"Good morning to too, Claudine" Maya replied with her usual grin. She had regained her composure the second she opened the door. "Why do you ask, I was about to pick you up."

"Unlike you, I'm on time. As punishment, you make the tea today!"

"Would you like to sit outside? Ist a nice weather today" Maya asked with an gentle smile, her eyes fixed on Claudine. Outside, having a cup of tea, alone, this would certainly provide the opportunity to tell Claudine what has been burning on Maya's soul ever since her first encounter.

"If you insist!" the blonde answered.

"Wonderful, then I'll prepare everything. We'll meet outside," the brunette replied as she walked past Claudine, closing her room door behind her.

After this conversation, Maya was all the more confident that she had to tell Claudine. She went to the kitchen, where Nana was busy cooking something in the pot and Junna, was leaning against the kitchen island, while reading something in a magazine.

"Good morning Daiba-san, Hoshimo-san!" The top star greeted the two classmates while she felt the kettle with water, "It smells really good Daiba-san, may I ask what you are cooking?".

"Good morning Maya-chan, that's a surprise.", Nana said with her typical cheerfulness.

Maya was sure it must be something with bananas. She was already pouring the hot water into her and Claudine's cup as Junna asked, "Are you going to train again tonight Tendo-san? Most of our classmates are out in this beautiful weather You should take a day off now that the performance is over."

"After the performance, is before the performance, Hoshimi-san. But I really appreciate that you are worried."

"Of course, it's my job as a class representative," Junna said, adjusting her glasses on her nose.

"Junna-chan, Maya-chan will know what she's doing, and besides, she has Kuro-chan looking out for her," Nana giggled from the stove. Maya almost dropped the cups . But the brunette immediately summarized. She held the cups a little tighter, in case Nana or maybe even Junna would add something to it.

"But Nana, what do you ...", Junna was interrupted when Claudine came through the door.

"Good morning together," she waved casually, as she went to the patio door. "I hope you did not make my tea inedible with too much sugar," Claudine said, her eyes focused on Maya this time.

Maya chuckled and walked past Claudine, who was standing at the doorframe. But this time Maya stopped next to Claudine. With the cups in her hands, she leaned slightly toward Claudine's ear, "Do you really think I do not know how to make your tea? I'm shocked."
Claudine was already looking for a counterattack when Maya went out without turning around, "I'm looking forward to the food Daiba-san, Hoshimi-san!".

Claudine promptly turned around and followed the brunette into the garden. Her hands clenched into fists. She already regretted having accepted the invitation to a cup of tea.

-

Maya brought the cups to a garden table, a little further away from the house. Claudine right behind her. It was a shady spot with a lot of plants behind them. Maya sat down on one of the chairs that stood there, her hands immediately reaching for the cup. She brought the cup under her nose to enjoy the aroma of fresh tea. Madam Gray. Maya knew that this was one of Claudine's favorite teas. Claudine sat down opposite to Maya. With her elbow on the table and her chin resting on her hand, she watched the taller girl.

"Is there a reason why you invited me for a cup of tea?" The blonde asked, with an amused tone.

"To be honest, yes," Maya said with a cheeky grin. She tilted her head up to look at the sky. "The weather is nice today, isn´t it?"

"Yes it is," said Claudine with an uplifted eyebrow, fingers of the other hand impatiently tapping against the table. She did not say it, but she was still wondering, why Maya invited her to drink Tea outside.

Maya, having taken a first sip of the hot tea, lowered the cup, set it down on the table, let go of it, and formed her hand into a fist. Now the moment has come. From the outside, it certainly seems not reasonable that Maya wants to confess her feelings to someone who is visibly annoyed with everything the brunette does. But Maya knew that her relationship went much deeper than just the exchange of superficial remarks. The looks, the touches and the conversations both shared with each other during the training, the rehearsals, the Starlight performance. Maya knew there was more. She was sure of that after the Revue of Faith when Claudine collapsed. 'My Maya has not lost' from time to time it repeats in Maya's head. She would like to have already told her what she feels after revue. But it was not the right time or the right place.

She turned her gaze to Claudine, she looked directly into her eyes. Her face became serious. "Claudine, I, I have something to tell you."

Claudine straightened at that look, taking her elbow off the table and returning Maya's gaze wide-eyed. "I-I'm all ears," the blonde stammered lightly. She was not used to that serious look from Maya.

"It's something I've been wanting to tell you for a long time, but…", now Maya was the one that stuttered. She had practiced it several times in front of the mirror, why is she so nervous now. She could almost feel her cheeks blush, damn it! "But I …", she was just going on stuttering when she felt a well-known warmth on her hand. She looked down, Claudine had her hands around Maya's fist. Claudine's typical annoyed face turned into a gentle, understanding face.

"Are you okay?", Claudine asked visibly worried. Although Claudine finds Maya annoying and sometimes unbelievable but in moments like this, where her partner has problems and if only the problem of having lost her ability to speak. Claudine would always be there for Maya. She knows that it´s the same for Maya.

"Y-yes, er," that's enough. Maya took a few seconds to breathe in and out to relax. She looked up and met Claudine's eyes. She clenched her other hand tightly. "Claudine, I ..".

"I like you!", She heard the other girl say softly. Claudine, bright red, with her face and eyes to one side, said what Maya has been trying to say for minutes.

"You-you like me?" Maya repeated, her mouth open. What, Claudine likes her? But even as Maya likes her? Why does she say that all at once?

Maya did not understand the world anymore. "Yes I like you, you annoying person," came back from Claudine, her grip on Maya's fist a little tighter. "What do you not understand?" She added, slightly annoyed. Her gaze still to the side, her cheeks a few red tones darker.

Maya with an skeptical look, "What do you mean, you like me". She herself had forgotten what she was about to say, her whole head keep on spinning around only to this question. What does 'like' mean for Claudine?

She noticed how Claudine let go of her fist. She looked down and decided that she did not like the feeling when Claudine let go of her hand. But she looked up immediately when Claudine got up. She walked around the table and stood right in front of Maya. Her face still turned to the side. Her hands are both clenched into fists. Then she looked down at Maya with a look that signaled that Maya should get up too.

She hesitated a bit but stood up. Both just a few inches apart. Claudine then raised her arms, grabbed her by the collar and pulled her gently down to herself, while she leaned forward a little.

The kiss was soft. A simple on each other's lips.

While Claudine's eyes were closed, Mayas were even more open. What exactly happens here? Is she still sleeping? If so, she never wanted to wake up again. Claudine, her Claudine, so close. Her wish, so near.

After a few seconds Claudine loosened the grip of Maya's collar, but did not let go. She leaned back to meet Maya's eyes. Maya the second time today, was speechless. The second time today, with reddish cheeks. If Claudine were not so insecure about Maya's reaction she would surely laugh or at least giggle, about a speechless, cloud-pleasing and baffled, and yet cute Tendo Maya.

"Do you now know what I mean by 'I like you'," Claudine whispered softly, with a smile on her lips.

After a few seconds, which seemed like an eternity to Claudine, Maya also raised her hands and put them around Claudine's hip. Now it was Claudine who was speechless, the Maya buried her face in Claudine's shoulder, unable to see the other's face.

"M-Maya !?" Claudine stuttered and returned the hug. She released the collar from Maya's Gray Sweater and put her hands around the neck of the brunette.

"I like you too," came back from the brunette. What Claudine did not see through the hug, Maya was close to crying. How much she hoped it would end so. How she hoped that Claudine would feel a spark more for her. All the worries she had about this conversation, all the endless scenarios she had in mind where Claudine would turn her down. All these thoughts vanished in the end.

 

Today, on a Saturday, she has not only confessed her feelings to Claudine, Claudine has even done it before her.