While preparing for Nagisa's Pokemon Contest, Musashi discovers a change in Kojiro.
“One hour, Musashi.”
Kojiro knew it was pointless to mention this, because they usually arrived at the applicable Contest Hall right on time, if not a little late, to avoid probing questions from Hikari and various hangers on; he was just looking for an excuse to coax Musashi into conversation.
“We should probably leave soon.”
She gave only a brittle sigh as a response. As he lay slumped on the low-rise futon, wrists crossed beneath his neck and eyes cast upward at the dark ceiling, he chewed at his bottom lip, then abruptly pulled himself into a sitting position.
“Would you like a quick breakfast beforehand?” he suggested lightly.
“I could make some tea.”
“Well, then, how about I pack your things for you?”
Musashi didn’t even grant him the consideration of lifting her stare from the magazine spread neatly before her on the bedspread and he would have thought it rude of her if he were not accustomed to her somewhat guarded personality. He admired the way one slender, pearl-white hand was poised elegantly over the other, a brush in her lax grasp and its tip glistening with liquid sky. She had chosen to paint her nails a pretty cyan today.
It was a week exactly since either of the pair had set foot outside a fifty metre radius of the cabin at which they were stationed. Every now and then, Nyasu would slink in and remind them of the assignment they had been designated, only to roll his feline eyes at their lack of response and return to whatever it was he had amused himself with in Nagisa City. Despite their expectations of one another, that is, concocting of a plan of action before the Jari-tachi leave Nagisa’s Gym, Kojiro had no intention of fulfilling it and for most of the week, watched Musashi from the corner of his gaze as she prepared for the upcoming and somewhat more eagerly anticipated Contest. She had been insisting all weekend that blue nails would complement Habunake’s haze appeal nicely and, of course, bring out the colour of her eyes.
He thought her eyes looked more like topaz.
“Kojiro, as you know, I have impeccable time management,” she muttered inattentively, allowing the brush to glide smoothly over one nail. “I’m fine, thank you.”
With a small smile that she never noticed, he rose to prepare a pot of tea anyway and sat down crossed-legged with two cups, but was mildly surprised to hear the floorboards creak behind him, as she too got to her feet, and footsteps approach.
“Wait. When did you start caring about Pokemon Contests?”
Kojiro turned and was immediately met with a hard stare.
“I, uhh … I always have been, haven’t I?”
“Oh.” The ensuing silence might have been awkward if they weren’t so comfortable around one another and was hurriedly shattered by a quiet voice and carefully chosen words. “In a not altogether separate matter, however, I’m quite confident you’ll do well today, not that you don’t always do well, but you’ve improved dramatically, and … anou, and-”
“And you’ve improved so very much, Musashi. I feel that you have a realistic chance of making the Grand Festival. I really do.”
He quickly tallied the ribbons necessary to qualify and how many more she was required to win, nodding in verification, mostly to himself. In reply, he was met with a laugh that wasn’t warm, but it was certainly far from bitter.
Musashi knelt on her haunches in a manner that shamelessly invaded his personal space, removed her Candy Musalina glasses and stared at him intensely before leaning in to press her lips to his cheek. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck bristle as the blood rose in his cheeks. When she pulled away aeons later to stand and face the vanity to play with her hair and the ribbon of her dress, it was with a clever grin.
“I knew it,” she said, with her back to him.
“What do you know?”
“You know it, too.”
Utterly confused and with the residue of a heavy blush still evident on his features, he sipped his tea and fiddled with the teabag, his thoughts convoluted. When a hand, tipped in azure, rested itself lightly on his shoulder, although his burning ears (and the tingling sensation on his cheek) urged him not to look up, they didn’t miss her words.“Thank you, Kojiro.”