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Budding Relationship

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Yuito and Tsugumi were descending the frigid Hieno Mountain, close enough that their hands had brushed together more than a few times. Tsugumi was leading the way with her clairvoyance due to a slight snowstorm, meaning Yuito had to stay practically right next to her. Each of them knew they could simply use SAS to allow Yuito to use her power, but neither brought it up.

They had only come so far in the first place in order to find the Silent Snowmelt, and that they did. When he finally saw the flower he remembered so fondly again after however many years it had been, a wave of nostalgia washed over him. In his eyes, their journey had been more than fruitful. Looking at Tsugumi however, it appeared as if she didn’t feel the same. Sure, it was a shame an Other got to a lot of the flowers, but she said herself the rest would pull through.

“Hey, how come you wanted to bring the flowers back with you?” He asked, remembering a possible reason she might be disappointed.

“Huh? Oh.. um… it’s a rare flower, so I wanted to try and grow it myself.” 

“So a little intellectual curiosity then? Guess you’re like a botanist.”

“When I grow a new plant… it’s like I get a new friend.. It makes me happy,” she said with a smile. Despite the weather, Yuito felt a certain warmth in his chest when he saw her expression.

“I see. Well, now you have a long distance friend. We should come visit the flowers again.”

“Sure. Um, and…” the clairvoyant began to say, before cutting herself off.

“Hm? Was there another reason?”

“N-no, it’s nothing.”

Huh , Yuito thought. She may be quiet, but she does usually say what’s on her mind once she starts talking. What’s made her so nervous? There’s probably another reason, but pushing for an answer might be too forward.

Deciding it was as good a place as any to stop with that line of questioning, he asked Tsugumi to tell him about some of her favorite flowers on the way back to the hideout. When she talked about flowers, it was almost as if she was a different person the way her mannerisms changed. She no longer paused while speaking, and she let herself be more expressive, as if she forgot about any worries that held her back; He was always happy to see that side of Tsugumi.

In truth, he’d grown very fond of the girl since he got to know her. It started with the little things; his eyes lingering on her a tad longer than necessary, looking forward to seeing her more than he would a simple friend, thinking about her at seemingly random times. Before he knew it, he had fallen for her.

He wanted to pursue these feelings, to see if she felt the same way, but didn’t know how. He felt that confessing out of the blue wouldn’t be the best way to go about things, so he wanted to wait for the right moment. Ideally, he’d want them to be alone. He had no idea how he would even go about confessing, but he figured that when the time was right, the words would come to him.


Another day, at the hideout

“Yuito… can I… ask you something?”

She seems pretty anxious. Maybe this is about what she didn’t say on Hieno Mountain?

“Sure, what?”

“Um… we found the white flowers already… I was wondering… if there were any other plants you want me to find?”

Does she want to find another plant with me? I’d be happy to, but any other flower I’d want to see wouldn’t be nearly as rare as the Silent Snowmelt.  “Hmm… none come to mind.”

“Oh… A-All right.” The sullen look in her all-seeing eyes didn’t go unnoticed by Yuito, which wasn’t exactly something he was fond of seeing. Naturally, he wanted to do something to remedy that.

“You look really disappointed… What’s up all of a sudden?”

“Well… I wanted to help you.”

“You always help me. Not only in battle, but with the flowers too. That’s more than enough.”

“But… I…”

Tsugumi appeared even more nervous than before, her eyes darting from left to right, hands almost visibly shaking. It appeared as if she had something she wanted to say, but didn’t know how.

“Huh? What is it?”

A whimper was all Tsugumi could manage to get out in response.

Thinking he may have asked a bit too hastily, he quickly apologized. 

“Oh, sorry. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

“W-wait!” Tsugumi blurted out, to his surprise. “I’ll say it. I have to. I want to… be brave.”

“Tsugumi?”

“I.. w-want to… b-be…f-f-frie..” Upon hearing this, and seeing the slight reddening on Tsugumi’s face, his brain kicked into overdrive.

Wait… could she be… no, that couldn’t be it.  But, what other reason would she have to be this nervous? Is it really what I think it is?

“I want to be your friend!”

Hearing what Tsugumi said, his train of thought halted completely. He was surprised she didn’t consider them friends, when he considered Tsugumi to be one of his closest. He chastised himself for letting her think they were anything but. 

As he was getting in his own head, all Tsugumi saw was Yuito standing there, silent, long enough that she misinterpreted his silence.

“You don’t have to say it… I’m sorry.” Was all she could manage to get out.

Her soft voice broke him out of his stupor, and he saw Tsugumi holding back tears. Out of instinct, he pulled her into a tight embrace, making her eyes go wide. He was thankful nobody else was at the hideout, or he’d surely be hounded with questions later.

“You have nothing to say sorry for, Tsugumi. I’m the one who should be apologizing for ever letting you think we weren’t already friends.”

“You… already see me as a friend? But… I can’t even talk normally… I just pause and get all quiet.”

“Of course. Why wouldn’t I? You’re one of my closest friends. And it doesn’t matter that you don’t talk ‘normally’, as far as I’m concerned you’ve been talking normally for a while now. You’re a great person, I’m happy I got to know you. I…”

Now holding on to his shirt, Tsugumi was the one that noticed a sentence being cut short.

“What is it?”

“I don’t know if I’m ready to say it.”

“It’s ok… you can tell me. You’re always saying that I can tell you anything. It goes both ways… since we’re friends.”

Yuito took a deep breath. It was now or never, the moment he was waiting for.

“I… I love you, Tsugumi.”

He heard a gasp come from under him, and instantly assumed he might have ruined things between them. He quickly broke the hug, making Tsugumi look directly at his face.

“You… love me?” She asked, not quite believing what she had just heard. Yuito loved her? She couldn’t fathom why, but she also couldn’t deny it made her extremely happy to hear. She felt like her heart was close to pounding out of her chest with the various emotions and thoughts running through her head.

Yuito couldn’t even bring himself to look her in the eye, but he forced himself to talk. “Yeah, I do. I’m sorry for putting you on the spot like that. It doesn’t have to change things between us, we can just be friends if you’d prefer that.”

After processing what he said, Tsugumi responded eagerly. In a bold move, she took one of his hands with her own, making him look at her directly. His hands were large compared to hers, big enough to where she could hold one of his with both of hers and still not cover it entirely. She could feel the warmth radiating from it, a sense of comfort enveloping her despite the fierce blush on her face.

“N-no, it’s ok. I… love you too, Yuito.”

She didn’t need her clairvoyance to see he was happy.

“Really?” He asked, somewhat hesitant still.

Tsugumi tightened her grip on Yuito’s hand ever so slightly for comfort, her blush growing deeper still, but she was determined to say what she wanted, needed to. 

“I do. You’ve helped me grow so much, I… yes. I love you.”

Yuito pulled her back into a hug, which she reciprocated this time around, though slightly hesitant with physical contact.

“So,” Yuito began, bashful as well now that things had progressed this far. “I don’t want to move too fast but—,” he was attempting to ask her a question, but now that he had realized what this situation could mean for them, his words were failing him. 

“W-what is it?” When he saw Tsugumi looking up at him, he noticed her face was just as red as his. He took a deep breath, realizing this was new territory for the both of them.

“Well, we both said we love each other, so I was just wondering— would I be right to consider you my girlfriend?”

Her eyes lit up hearing him speak. To think, she came to him today not even believing she was a friend, and now they’re this close; both physically and emotionally. She felt butterflies in her stomach, and with her hand on Yuito’s chest, she could feel his heartbeat as well. It was pounding just as much as hers was.  “I… would like that.” 

For the rest of their time alone, they simply enjoyed one another’s presence, smiling bashfully at each other without exchanging many words. They did however decide against telling the others anytime soon; they wouldn’t want to accidentally change any dynamics within the team, and they wanted to be comfortable in their relationship first anyway.


Over the next week or so, the newly established couple spent time together whenever they could; Going to Musubi’s to eat a few times, slipping away from the group when there was no pressing assignment, giving a quick knowing glance to one another, those sorts of things. Granted, they couldn’t find as much time as they would have liked due to dealing with government conspiracies and the like, but they made do. 

Soon enough, the two found themselves in the same situation as the one the day they started dating; no one was present at the hideout but them. Kagero hit the city, dragging Kasane and Shiden with him, Gemma and Kyoka went out to shop together, and Arashi took Hanabi to do who knows what. Luka was the only person unaccounted for, but he was probably off weight training somewhere.

Naturally, they jumped at the opportunity to spend time alone as a couple; it was the first chance they’ve had in the week they’d been dating to actually date. There was no need to be discreet, they could be as open as they wanted with one another, they could simply be in love.

Eager as they were, this was still the first relationship either of them had been in. Having no experience, they didn’t have much of a concrete idea on how to spend this time together. Each of them was fairly timid at first, smiling bashfully, quickly averting their eyes should they ever meet.

They knew a chance like this likely wouldn’t come again for a while however, so they did the best they could to push through the unexplored territory.

“So, uh, is there anything you want to do?” Yuito asked.

“Well… we could sit down and see if there’s anything to watch,” she suggested, a seemingly out of place blush on her face, but Yuito chalked it up to her simply being nervous.

As they were going through the channels, they saw two of interest. Yuito wanted to watch a Baki special that was airing, and Tsugumi wanted to watch a plant documentary. 

“Is there a single plant you don’t already know about? This Baki special only came out a week or two ago, and I think you’d like it!” Yuito said, rather passionately.

Tsugumi wasn’t backing down herself however, she was almost talking as harshly as if she were talking to Kagero. “If it came out that long ago you’ve probably already seen it at least three times. Besides, I haven’t seen this one yet, and you’ve said you want to learn more about plants before, right?”

He sighed in defeat. He knew he couldn’t win against Tsugumi, especially since she was now his girlfriend. Still, he had to admit he found it amusing to be on the receiving end of the treatment normally resolved for Kagero.

“Fine, you win. We’re still watching the Baki special at some point though.” 

Recognizing the humor in the mild argument they were having, Yuito first lost his composure and began to snicker, making Tsugumi follow suit. They fell deeper into their laughter the more they looked at one another. When Yuito looked at her, he thought to himself how beautiful Tsugumi appeared to him when laughing, radiant. He loved her smile, and now that they’re together, he wanted to see more of it. Part of him felt special to see Tsugumi laughing like this, so carefree, without worry. He wished he could freeze this moment between them in time, where neither of them had to worry about anything but each other, and they could simply enjoy one another’s presence. 

Without really thinking, he put his arm around her and pulled her closer. She flinched in surprise, making him pull his arm away, apologizing if he was overstepping his bounds.

Tsugumi however, didn’t actually mind.  “N-no, it’s ok… you can do that if you want. I was just surprised, but you felt… warm.”

“Are you sure? I wouldn’t want to make you feel uncomfortable.”

“It’s alright, I… I kind of liked it.”

Yuito put his arm around Tsugumi once more and pulled her closer. She was tense at first, clearly not accustomed to physical contact, especially not in such an intimate form. He looked apprehensive, but Tsugumi smiled and nodded at him, a wordless conformation implying she was enjoying it. 

They continued watching the documentary, now in a warm embrace, and as time went on they slowly moved to a more comfortable position, until they were laying down. Tsugumi was on top of Yuito, her head almost buried in his chest. She listened to his heart, beating at a rhythmic pace. It was calming, she thought, how even his heartbeat somehow gave off warmth.

They remained in one another’s embrace until the documentary was over. Tsugumi looked to Yuito, noticing he was being overly conscious of where his hands were, and laughed to herself lightly.

He noticed this, as it would be hard not to with her on top of him, and looked at her with a confused expression.

“What are you laughing at?” He asked.

“Sorry, it’s just that… I’m older than you, but you’re the one trying to make sure I’m comfortable. This is the only experience I have but… I like being intimate with you. It feels… nice.”

“I guess I have been holding back without realizing, I just wouldn’t want to make you feel obligated to do anything you weren’t comfortable with. How about I let you set the pace for us? That way I can know what you’re comfortable with and what’s off limits for now.”

Tsugumi sat up when she processed his words, moving her arms from his chest to each side of his torso. “If you’re letting me decide, then…” She leaned into him until their lips were almost touching, each of them feeling the others hot and heavy breath on their face. She didn’t know exactly what she was doing, but she knew it felt right. 

Yuito was lying under her, silent and waiting. His heart was racing, but his head was nearly empty. All he could think of was what he saw right in front of him, Tsugumi. Her turquoise eyes were captivating to him. He had always found them beautiful, but he hadn’t allowed himself to stare before they had started dating, and he certainly hadn’t seen them from this distance before. He could see the blush on her face, and feel the blush on his own.

Tsugumi was the one to close the gap, leaning in for a kiss. It was her first, and as far as she knew his as well, but they both sank into it. It wasn’t intense, it was more clumsy if anything, but it was full of love nonetheless. 

She broke off the kiss and looked away. She didn’t regret it, far from it, she was simply embarrassed. 

“That was…” Yuito began.

“I-I’m sorry.. I know you said you didn’t want to move too fast but I”-

Her mouth was met with Yuito’s, preventing her from saying anything more. It was just a peck, but it was enough to calm her nerves. 

“It’s ok Tsugumi,” he said, reassuring her. “I really enjoyed that.”

“O-oh, then that’s… good. We could try again and… kiss more, if that’s ok with you,” she said, looking anywhere but into Yuito’s eyes out of embarrassment.

He sat up and smiled softly at her. “I’d like that.” 

They began to kiss again, doing everything short of making out. The tv was all but forgotten as they sank deeper into one another’s embrace for who knows how long. Seconds, minutes, or even hours could have passed; they didn’t know nor did they care. 

After what felt like an eternity, they finally broke apart for longer than a few seconds. Their breathing was heavy and their clothes messy. Neither of them had expected to get that into it, but once they started they couldn’t stop, like a snowball rolling down a hill. 

After catching her breath, Tsugumi lowered her head into Yuito’s chest and closed her eyes. She could feel his heart beating fast due to a lack of oxygen in his system, his chest moving up and down taking heavy breaths in. 

“Yuito?” She said, breaking the silence. 

“Yeah Tsugumi?”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

They stayed there for another half hour as they listened to one another breathe, struggling to stay awake. If it weren’t for the fact that they knew they wouldn’t be alone forever, they would let themselves fall asleep then and there. 

“Hey, Tsugumi?”

“Yeah?”

“I hate to ruin what we have right now, but we should probably be getting up soon, right?”

“N-no, we’ll be fine. I can see if anyone is coming with my clairvoyance so… can we stay like this a little longer?”

He couldn’t say no to her. “Alright then. I’ll be here as long as you need.” 

He smiled softly at her and kissed the top of her head. A week ago, or even yesterday, he wouldn’t have expected Tsugumi to be as physical as she is now. The past didn’t matter now however, nor did the future. All that mattered was this moment between the two of them. They could forget about all of their worries and enjoy being with one another, in love.