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The Next Step

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          It was only a few days after graduation. Your group of friends sat at their usual table at the usual cafe. It was all about to change. Each one of you were about to take the next leap of your life. And yet…

          There was a sinking feeling in Josuke’s stomach. Of course, he blamed it on the coffee he ordered. But seeing you laughing across the table, seemingly carefree, he knew the real reason. You were accepted to a prestigious college out of Morioh and you got to attend on a full scholarship. And there he was, stuck attending community college. 

          It wasn’t the worst, Okuyasu was going to attend the same campus as him. Koichi and Yukako were still going to hang around Morioh for a while too. All they had to do was commute from their homes to their campus. But you? He wouldn’t be able to see you until…? He wasn’t sure. 

          “You’re just jealous that Jotaro asked Koichi to go to Italy instead of you!” You laughed. “Face it Oku, Koichi’s more responsible than you.”

          Okuyasu’s face turned red as he huffed, “I can be responsible!”

          “Name one time.”

          “The time I directed you guys.” He said smugly as he crossed his arms.

          Josuke grimaced, “Let’s not talk about that…”

          You laughed, “Gotta say, Josuke, you were pretty cute as a girl.”

          This time Josuke flushed red as both you and Okuyasu laughed at him. Koichi laughed along as Yukako had a slight smile on her face.

          “Really though, I’m not sure why Jotaro picked me,” he rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly, “I just hope I won’t be there for too long. I don’t know what I’d do if I end up missing the first days of class because of this.”

          “Finish your mission early then or I’ll go get you myself.” said Yukako before drinking her tea.

          “I’ll be back as soon as possible! Don’t worry!” Koichi got a kiss on the cheek in response. You rolled your eyes whereas Okuyasu grumbled something about still being single. But Josuke could only think about why he hasn’t done anything in the three years he’s known you.

          “Hey,” Koichi called your name, “what time is it?”

          You glanced down at your watch, “It’s one fifteen. Something up?”

          Koichi face-palmed, “Jotaro’s gonna call me soon. I should head home.”  The friends said goodbye as Koichi and Yukako packed up their things and left some money for the tab. 

          A few minutes went by as the conversation continued with Okuyasu daydreaming about Italy. Though some time after, you got out of your chair. “I should probably get going too.. I haven’t finished packing for school yet.”

          “I could help you pack!” The words left Josuke’s mouth before he even realized.

          “You really don’t have to-”

          “C’mon, it’ll be more fun with me!” He downed his coffee before making his way over to you. He wrapped his arm around your shoulder and the two of you began the walk to your house, leaving a confused Okuyasu to pay the bill. 

 

          Josuke was well aware that leaving Okuyasu there was a rude thing to do and he’d have to apologize later, but he had to get you alone. He had to talk to you before it was too late. Before everything was about to change.

          The walk to your house wasn’t too long. You unlocked the door and lead your friend upstairs to your bedroom like you’ve done several times before. It was an organized disarray. A bookshelf filled to the brim with books, CDS, and game cartridges, a Nintendo 64 with its controllers’ wires tangled, textbooks thrown lazily and forgotten on the desk, a few posters and certificates decorated the walls.

          You apologized for the mess but Josuke shot back with his room being worse. And so the two of you got to work. You packed your clothes as he packed your books. He was nervous it really was now or never. He didn’t know if he’d be alone with you  again before you left.”

          “So,” he said you name cautiously, “how come you never dated anyone during highschool?”

          Your expression was neutral but you couldn’t hide the embarrassed shaking of your eyes. “I’m not sure.. I guess I gave up. There were a few who confessed to me but I shot them down…”

          “Why’s that?”

          “I had my eye on someone else. But it doesn’t matter anymore! I’ll be outta of Morioh soon.” You said quickly.

          His heart faltered for just a second. “W-Who’d you have a crush on?” 

          “It doesn’t matter.”

          “C’mon! I promise I won’t tell anyone!” He left the box of your books on your bed as he made his way towards you.

          “It really doesn’t matter anymore, Josuke.” your voice cracked. “There’s no point in my stupid crush.”

          His eyes widened in worry, “H-Hey don’t cry! I’m sorry! I just wanted to-”

          “You just wanted to know what..” you wiped any tears that dared to spill from your eyes.

          He bit his lip, “I just wanted to know if you liked me back.”

          “So you thought now would be a good time? When we’re about to go to college and I won’t even be in the same region as you?”

          Josuke felt like he was going to draw blood under your teary gaze. You spoke, “I’ve had a crush on you since we fought Kira. You’re brave, you’re kind, but after so long of me being scared to confess and now you confessing! I…”

          “It won’t work, Josuke. If you’d done this like, any time during highschool I’d be overjoyed. If we were going to the same college this would’ve worked-”

          “We can make it work! We can write letters and call-”

          “Josuke,” Your voice was quiet and strained, “dating you would make leaving hurt more.”

          He felt his face tense up, as if he was getting ready to cry.

          “Josuke, I love you. But if we dated, I’d spend all my time missing you. All I would think about is when I would get to see you again.”



          “I chose that school because I wanted to distance myself from you.”



          “Josuke… let’s just be friends.”