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Thinking about it for a while

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Tenko turns the corner, shouldering her bag, when the sound of approaching footsteps behind her makes her freeze. Thinking it might be a degenerate male or something, she flips around, hands held at the ready, but it’s just Miu, an uncharacteristically serious expression on her face. Tenko idly wonders if she’s going to talk to somebody about whatever’s eating her, but the inventor slows when she gets closer, and it dawns on the girl that Miu is here to talk to her.


“Hey, Cha-butch-shira,” Miu calls, and Tenko barely blinks at the offensive nickname, because she’s used to it at this point. Pretty uncomfortable, now that she thinks about it, but she usually doesn’t even mind being called butch, so long as it’s from somebody who’s respectful about it. And of course Miu is never respectful about anything, but Tenko finds herself unable to protest when she treats everyone that way. But if it were a male, she’d definitely throw them. No question. “Can I talk to you?”


“Sure! Tenko is actually being picked up soon for the holidays,” she glances at her phone, sees that her parents haven’t texted yet. “But I think they’re not here yet, so I can spare a moment! What is it, Iruma?” She smiles, albeit a little thinly, but manages to coax her expression into something more respectful because as vulgar as Miu is she’s still a girl and Tenko isn’t even sure that she’s here to say something gross.


“I just wanted to talk to you before you left, and like, don’t take this the wrong way or anything,” she rolls her eyes, flicks her blonde hair slightly, and Tenko suppresses the urge to snort, because she’s not really sure what Miu would call taking it the wrong way. “But you really need to give Yumeno some fuckin space, or something.”


At first Tenko is just happy that Miu is calling Himiko by her surname, rather than a gross nickname like usual, but then it registers in her mind what Miu just said. Though, rather than be offended, like she might be if it was a male saying this, she’s simply confused. “What? What do you mean? Does Yumeno not like me?” Tenko nearly feels like she’s going to cry at the thought.


“Ugh, no,” Miu rolls her eyes. “I mean, I don’t know what’s going on with you weird lesbians. I don’t talk to the midget enough to ascertain because I try not to associate with people who have such small tits-”


“Hey! Yumeno is a growing girl!” Tenko protests.


“-but I’m not saying that because she doesn’t fucking like you, okay? I’m saying that you should give her some space once in a while because it’s like, really uncomfortable, the way you’re always clinging to her and saying all those things about how cute she is.” Miu shrugs. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I know you have a major crush on her, I just think you need to listen when she says no and stuff.”


It’s… actually really odd to hear those things, such genuinely serious things, coming out of Miu’s mouth. Tenko finds herself tilting her head to the side a little. “Is Yumeno… made uncomfortable by my actions?” She asks, confused. She can’t help being a little worried too, because, she obviously didn’t mean to make Himiko feel that way! Himiko is her closest friend, there’s nobody in the world she likes more than Himiko, and- well, if the mage is uncomfortable… she feels her stomach twist.


“Yeah, I mean, I thought it was pretty obvious. And the rest of us get pretty fuckin uncomfortable, too, you know.” Miu shrugs. “Anyway, I just wanted to let you know, so…” she turns around to leave, and that would be that, but something still doesn’t sit right with Tenko. She doesn’t do this a lot, especially not with girls, but for some reason before the inventor can walk away her hand shoots out and wraps around the blonde’s upper arm. Miu’s arm is surprisingly buff, perhaps from all the work she does making things, but Tenko is still reasonably confident she could beat the girl in a fight. Not that it matters, because she isn’t going to fight Miu, but the thought still crosses her mind. “Ugh, what is it? I’m not going to sleep with you, y’know, the gorgeous girl genius has high standards!”


“Tenko doesn’t want that,” Tenko rolls her eyes but releases Miu’s arm. “It’s just… I thought it was weird that you talked about making everyone else uncomfortable when you do that all the time. Not that Tenko wants to make everybody uncomfortable, she appreciates Iruma telling her, just- do you know that you can really make everyone… feel kinda weird?”


Miu’s brows raise, for some reason, and she fiddles with her goggles. She doesn’t walk away, though, which Tenko is grateful for. “Kinda weird how?”


“Like, it’s- it’s like a degenerate male thing, thinking about s-sex and stuff, all the time,” Tenko feels herself getting flustered talking about it. “And you should be open and honest about what’s on your mind! But you also should be aware that not everybody is comfortable with those topics being out there like that and sometimes people don’t wanna hear about it! Tenko doesn’t mind, really, she’s used to it from males, but still, there have been times when the things you talk about have stressed out the girls in our class and that’s really bad!”


“Shit, it’s pretty bad if it’s the guys too,” Miu says, then mumbles, “Uh… well, I mean, Kiibo, mostly, but…” no recovering from that one, Tenko thinks, but holds her tongue. “I know people react really strongly to that stuff, that’s… part of the reason why I say it,” she admits. “But I didn’t know… you guys were uncomfortable.”

“Of course we are,” Tenko frowns. “Why else would we tell you to stop?”


“It’s the same thing with Yumeno,” Miu reminds. “She gets uncomfortable too, she has boundaries, you know, and it makes the rest of us feel fuckin’ upset when you violate them!”


Then they’re both quiet, because of course there is plenty that neither of them understand about the other but it makes no difference. Tenko hadn’t been thinking about it, for some reason. Perhaps she just got caught up in being so fond of Himiko. And it baffles her that Miu wouldn’t have noticed everyone else’s discomfort; she thought it was fairly obvious! Still, though, unless she flips Miu over, there’s really no good way for her to tell what the inventor is thinking, and at the moment she doesn’t think that’s such a good idea.


Tentatively, she says, “Thank you for… telling me.” She already mentioned appreciating it but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate; especially since she did bring up Miu’s problem in lieu of just accepting the words of wisdom. “Sorry, Tenko really hadn’t noticed you didn’t know.”

“Yeah, well, we can’t all be geniuses.” And Miu smiles, that infuriating smirk, but then it falls and softens her gaze, making her look different than usual, in a way that Tenko can’t really describe. “Uh… thank you for… telling me about everyone being uncomfortable. I’ll take it into consideration.”


“Me, too,” Tenko nods, then feels her phone vibrate in her pocket. “Oh! That’s probably mom, so-” she cuts off, looks at Miu. “Are you going anywhere for the holidays?”


“Nah.” Miu shakes her head. “I’m stayin’ back with Ouma, we’ll be sure to fuck things up in the absence of everyone else.” And it’s strange that Miu isn’t going home, the school will be virtually empty at that point, but… it’s possible that she just doesn’t have anywhere to go. Tenko wants to ask, but she also doesn’t want to be insensitive, and she’s sure the inventor would share if she really wanted to.


“Okay.” She finally responds, keeping her voice even. “Then, have fun! But not with the degenerate, just enjoy the holidays yourself!” Tenko beams, and would hug Miu if not for her worry about how that might be construed by the dirty minded girl. Thankfully, Miu just laughs boisterously, waving her off.


“Yeah, sure, whatever,” she rolls her eyes, then waves for real. “Have fun with your family, I guess.” And as Tenko walks away, she hears Miu add, “Don’t-” but then she stops herself. “-uhh, don’t get into trouble?” And it’s obviously not what she was originally going to say. She was probably going to say something vulgar, then thought better of it.


Progress, Tenko thinks, and tells Miu she won’t.