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Motoko's New Crush

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Sigh. Summer break can be so trying. While my fellow students are on vacation or working on research projects or studying abroad, what am I doing? Stocking shelves in my parents' grocery store. So very tedious.

"Oh, Motoko-san, back from college?"

I smile and bow. "Yes, for summer break. Thank you for patronizing our store, as always!" I bow again.

Still, at least they're paying me for the work now that I'm a university student. Back when I was in middle and high school, I had to do it for free. At least this way, I can cover some of my own expenses at school with money I earned instead of depending completely on Mom and Dad's generosity.

"Miss, where can I find the cup ramen?"

"Two aisles down. Shall I show you?"

"Thanks, no, I can find it now."

"Thank you for patronizing our store!" I bow.

Yes, there were definitely advantages to being out of high school. That Minami from PriYuki came by a couple of weeks ago, her eyes still red. It seems that Yuki-kun finally chose a girlfriend and, horror of horrors, it wasn't a PriYuki member. When she mentioned it was a student council member, I thought for a moment it might be that horrible Toudou girl, but it turned out to be Kuragi. Kind of mousy and plain, but who am I to question Yuki-kun's taste? I said as much to Minami, who looked at me as if I were mad. Ah, so she never accustomed herself to the shocking possibility that Yuki might not be single forever. Poor girl.

Yes, I closed that door for good when I graduated high school. It was traumatic for me at the time, but it was the right thing to do in the end. But the PriYuki members still in school who see him every day… poor girls. I do feel bad for them.

Yes, I'm glad to be a university student now.

Still, I do feel just a little bit empty. It's not that I'm really looking for a boyfriend or anything. But it would be nice to have a crush again, even if I am a little bit too old for that sort of thing now.

"Is it… Motoko… san?"

I turn and bow. "Yes, thank you for patronizing our store."

It's a boy, maybe fourteen years old, kind of short. He knows my name… I feel like I should recognize him, but my mind is totally blank. Good-looking boy, though. His eyes are so dark, his facial expression so grave.

I felt something give in my chest.

No way. That would be too ridiculously clichéd. Right when I'm thinking about how it would be nice to get a crush, I meet a cute boy and go totally gaga? You're better than that, Motoko!

"I had just wanted to say something." Ah, his voice. Quiet, but I can hear his every word clear as a bell. Such a… dare I say it?... princely voice.

"Yes?"

"I really like that look."

"…I beg your pardon?"

"Long stockings with a miniskirt. It really makes your legs look good. Especially your thighs."

I can feel the hair on the back of my neck standing up. "What the hell kind of a perverted thing is that for a kid to say?"

He bows. "Forgive me if I have caused offense."

All right, maybe he's just socially inept.

"I merely wanted to say that you have excellent legs. Not to mention that your butt is…"

"Stop it right there." I point a finger toward his nose. "Exactly who do you think you are, squirt?"

"Oh, I thought you remembered me. Hanajima Megumi. We've met previously."

Hanajima? "Denpa-girl's brother? The one who curses people?"

"The same. Aren't you frightened? The last time we met, you ran away rather quickly."

I snort. "I find it difficult to be frightened of a sex-obsessed middle-schooler."

"I'm almost in high school."

For a split second, I grin in spite of myself at his deadpan response. Crap, he saw me smile. Time to lay down the law. "Listen, munchkin. I'm feeling incredibly magnanimous today, so I will spare your life for the outrageous comments you've made."

"Oh, thank you, Motoko-san."

"On the condition that you refrain from making personal comments about me in the future. Especially about…" Dammit, I think I said too much.

"No need to worry. I happen to prefer girls with smaller br…" He stopped at my glare.

"It looks like you'll be receiving your penalty after all. I sentence you to take me on an all-expenses paid date tonight at seven o'clock. And if I'm not completely satisfied with your behavior, then you'll have to take me out again and again. Got it?"

"I understand and accept my punishment." Did he smile just now?

Well I must say that I certainly am expecting him to misbehave again.

If he knows what's good for him, that is...