Reina did her hair different today, Kumiko notes. It looks nice braided away from her face like that! There's a few wisps escaping by her ears that Kumiko thinks are unintentional, because knowing Reina she probably tried to get every errant hair tucked neatly in—but it looks so soft and perfect that it doesn't matter. Kumiko sighs, absently rubbing the dry ends of her own hair between her fingers.
Suddenly, there's a sharp, stinging pain between her eyebrows, and Kumiko rears back, blinking.
Across the table, Reina sits back down and glares at her. "Kumiko," she says reproachfully, "you're not listening to me."
"Sorry, sorry," Kumiko laughs. "I got distracted." She rubs her forehead where Reina flicked her.
Reina huffs. "By what?"
Kumiko hums, glancing away from where a stray tendril of hair curls against Reina's pulse point. "Nothing important. What were you saying?"
"I was telling you about the second-year trombone who won't stop trying to correct the conductor on rhythms," Reina says.
"You do that," Kumiko points out, because she clearly remembers Reina's hand shooting up in the air enough times that eventually Taki-sensei would just say Thank you, Kousaka-san and peer back at the score without her even needing to speak.
Reina's eyes widen indignantly. "Yes, but only when I'm right."
Kumiko giggles, and after a moment, Reina's eyes crease with amusement too. When they'd first sat down in this table by the café's tall window, Kumiko had found it cold, but now, she realizes, she can barely feel it.
"Kumiko," Reina says, and Kumiko's attention snaps back to her like a rubber band. "Did you miss me?"
It's not the first time she's asked it, featuring frequently in their daily texts, how were classes and reina, did you eat something before practice and do you miss me, kumiko? It isn't even the first time today. "Of course!" Kumiko smiles.
Reina looks pleased, as always, but her gazes stays sharp. It used to scare Kumiko a little, the way Reina picked her apart with her eyes. Now, though, it's almost a relief to know that even when Kumiko feels like she's never been more helplessly obvious, Reina still thinks of her as a puzzle worth solving.
Kumiko keeps smiling as she fires back, "Did you miss me, Reina?"
Reina inhales sharply. "You don't usually ask me that."
"So you didn't?" Kumiko teases.
To her surprise, Reina averts her eyes, blushing pink. Kumiko's breath catches in her throat. "I didn't say that," Reina says with a hint of a pout.
She's so cute, Kumiko thinks, and wonders how she's supposed to keep it together until Reina goes back to university after the holiday.
"You're not drinking your coffee," Reina says.
"Hmm?" Kumiko startles, realizing she's had her palms warming themselves against the mug this whole time but she's barely taken a sip. "Oh! I guess I forgot."
Reina bites her lip and Kumiko buries her blush by raising the mug to her mouth. "You were staring."
Kumiko shrugs easily. "You look pretty, Reina." There—she says that often enough that it shouldn't be weird.
"Oh," Reina looks back down at the table. "Kumiko..."
"Hmm?" The coffee is actually pretty good now that Kumiko's paying attention to it. A little cold, maybe.
Kumiko looks back up to see Reina staring at her, a flush riding high on her cheeks. She looks—angry? No. Upset? No, that's not right.
If Kumiko didn't know better, she'd say Reina looks nervous, but Reina never gets nervous.
"Reina, what's wrong?"
"I—" Reina groans, covering her face.
Kumiko sits up straight. "Are you okay? Are you sick? Should I take you h—"
"Kumiko," Reina says desperately, "Kumiko, I like you."
Oh. Kumiko collapses back against her chair, relieved. Then a second later, her brain catches up with her, and her breath leaves her in a rush. "What?"
Reina curses—Kumiko can't remember the last time she heard her do that—and stands, her chair screeching as it's pushed back. She runs out the door while Kumiko sits stunned in her chair, cold mug leaching the warmth from her palms.
She finds Reina in the park nearby, lying on her back in the grass and staring up at the sky. She's probably getting grass stains on that pretty dress, Kumiko thinks mournfully, and shakes herself. Focus.
Kumiko steels her nerves and lies down next to her. "Reina," she complains, trying to keep her tone light. "Why did you run away?"
Reina remains stubbornly silent.
"You ran away before I could even say anything," Kumiko attempts.
In a flash, Reina's on top of her, eyes flashing. "And what would you have said if I stayed?"
The words stick in Kumiko's throat. "I—"
Reina's face twists, and she crosses her arms. "That's why I ran away. I don't like being rejected when there's nothing I can do about it."
"You're sitting on me," Kumiko says dazedly, which—it's not even the weirdest thing Reina's done, and maybe, maybe Kumiko has been very, very blind.
"Are you saying I'm too heavy?" Reina snaps.
It's so ridiculous that Kumiko bursts into laughter, and Reina's scowl falters.
"Reina," Kumiko gasps through her giggles, tears springing to her eyes. "Reina—" She grabs Reina by the shoulders because this is important. "Reina, I love you."
Reina's mouth falls open, and with the sun haloing her from behind and her hair more out of the braid than in and her eyes so wide, she looks so beautiful that—
Kumiko has to repeat, "I love you so much, Reina," and feel the warmest rush of affection as Reina's face crumples and she falls forward against Kumiko's chest.
"I thought," she says, muffled and wet.
"I know," Kumiko says.
"Why didn't you—"
"I didn't think you—"
Reina lifts her head and glares at her incredulously. "You didn't think I would—"
"Reina," Kumiko laughs. "Just let me kiss you."
"We're—" Reina swallows. "In public."
"That's never stopped us before!" Kumiko protests, because she has stories from much more public places than this of Reina holding her hand, touching her mouth, pressing their foreheads together, and—
Now, sealing her lips over Kumiko's without hesitation, her hands tight around Kumiko's shoulders, the grass damp against Kumiko's back, Reina's solid, comforting weight on Kumiko's hips. Kumiko sighs, her eyes fluttering closed.
Reina bites her lower lip, and Kumiko yelps. "What!"
"Don't get distracted, Kumiko," Reina says imperiously, but her eyes are sparkling. "I'm still mad at you for making me wait this long."
Kumiko grins, bright and joyous. "I'm so, so sorry, Kousaka-san. Will you let me make it up to you?"
Reina hums, leaning back down. "I suppose I'll allow it," she murmurs against Kumiko's lips.