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Strong Enough

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“There’s something important I want to discuss with you."  Nako reads aloud from her phone. "Please meet me at the rooftop, after classes.  That’s what it said."

"Bocchi got a love letter?!" Aru asks, a bit too excited over the news.

"Shhhh. We don't know who it is. The handwriting is very girly though."

"Oh, so she's now popular with the girls?"

"As expected of Master!" Interjects Sotoka.

"You're not helping." Nako replies.

"So what's she gonna do?"

"Reject her, of course."

"We already have one girl trying to confess to another girl, what are the odds Bocchi accepts the confession?"

The question makes the group fell silent.

"Nothing, just thinking aloud... How did Bocchi take it?"

Right on cue the sound of the classroom’s sliding door is heard.

“See for yourself.”

Head low, the topic of their conversation walks towards her desktop, right next to her friends’.

“Good morning...” Bocchi tries resting her head on the desk, like it could make her anxieties go away if she didn’t think too much about them. Her life had been pretty normal for her standards that semester, and now she was abruptly pulled out of her comfort zone. Nako opened her mouth to say something, but quickly regretted the idea—whether Bocchi decided to accept or not the confession, she didn’t want to affect the outcome. Bocchi had made some friends, but maybe a boyfriend—or girlfriend—would further help boost her confidence.

Calm down, not like I’m the one being confessed to.  A pit was starting to form in her stomach. I'm gonna support Bocchi.  If she ignored it hard enough, it might go away.  No matter her decision.

*****

Last period had ended, and the meeting time was drawing near. Aru was at the tennis club; Sotoka profusely apologized to her ‘Master’ for having to leave her alone due to family commitment. So it was just Bocchi and Nako by themselves in the school hallways. Before they’d have to split ways, Nako wanted to check one last time on her friend.

"Bocchi, how are you feeling?"

"I'm okay!" Her face tried to mimic Kuroi's stoicness but spectacularly failed.

"You know you don't have to go to the rooftop—"

"But I have to!"

"Eh?"

"I know I'm not strong enough, that I could never confess to someone, so I  want  to answer this person's feelings because they're strong!"

So that was it, Nako should have guessed it. Her friend was that kind of person.

"Bocchi. Do your best!" Nako smiled for the first time that day. Bocchi might have unwittingly helped calm someone else’s nerves too.

"Yes!" The shorter girl decisively walked the final stairs to her destination.

*****

The door leading to the rooftop creaked open, the sun was shining strong, and blinded Bocchi’s view, but she made out a lone figure, standing on the other side. During her previous walk with Nako, she had tried picturing what kind of person was "strong" enough to confess. Kuroi? She didn't seem like the romantic type. What if it was one of her classmates, or a person from another grade she never met? Suddenly, Bocchi’s mind was swarmed by images of faceless people—really anyone could be the sender of the letter!

Bocchi’s now meters away from the mysterious figure. It was now or never—she takes a deep breath, and bows. "I-I'm sorry! I can't go out with a faceless stranger!"

The figure turns around, naturally startled.

"Oh? But I do have a face." They say, its identity now revealed!

*****

“So in the end, it was an invitation to ask you to have tea with her?” Nako questions Bocchi.

“Yes! Ojousa-san said she isn’t used to having friends over.”

“See, you had nothing to worry about, Nako!” Aru pats her a couple times in the back.

“What are you even talking about?”  Nako retorts.

"Master, you were so cool!” Sotoka’s almost sparkling in enthusiasm.

“Wahaha.”

"Wahaha!"

Master and student chant, later for Aru to join them. Nako can’t help but join the silly celebration.