“Not by cheating,” Aya said smugly as she took her test paper back from Raven’s hands, “if that’s what you’re implying.” Even her science teacher, Mr. Landers, had been surprised, but he had also looked just a little relieved because it meant he would no longer have to feel conscience-bound to spend after-school hours doing remedial with Aya.
“How did you get it then?” Raven demanded.
Aya beckoned for her friend to come close so she could whisper to Raven’s ear.
“WHAT?” Raven reared back in shock. “Did I hear you right?”
Aya nodded. She could perfectly relate to her friend’s surprise. Even she had to pinch herself at times, just to make sure she hadn’t dreamt everything up.
“It’s so un-fucking-believable,” Raven exclaimed excitedly. Her cussing had several heads in the cafeteria turning their way, but Raven didn’t notice this at all. “I’m just so happy for you, Aya. And I’m right, aren’t I? You’re M---”
Aya quickly covered her friend’s mouth before she ended up saying something dangerous – and sadly untrue. “Ssh!”
Raven gave her friend a sheepish look of apology. “Sorry. I forgot. But---” Her dark eyes sparkled in excitement. “Am I right?”
Aya made a face. “Sadly, no, and it’s not my insecurities talking, I promise.”
Raven’s shoulders slumped. “That’s too – wait.” Her face brightened. “It’s not too late. If he’s tutoring you, then maybe you can try stealing him away?”
Aya immediately started shaking her head. “I can’t. I think…I have an idea who the girl is, and she’s nice.”
“So that’s it? You’re giving up just because the other girl’s nice?”
“They seem happy together,” Aya explained. “So as long as he’s happy---”
“You’re happy, too,” Raven finished for her friend. “God, you’re hopeless.” But since it was what made Aya…well…Aya, she knew she had to be content with that.
The rest of the day moved painstakingly slowly after that, but the bell finally rang for the last time, signaling the end of the school day. Aya practically jumped out of her seat and barely managed to say goodbye to Raven before racing all the way up to the fourth-floor library.
With their usual table at the very back still empty, Aya cautioned herself not to hope too much as she took her usual seat next to the windows. It was stupid to feel so giddy at the thought of seeing him, but that was exactly how it was.
Her heart nearly jumped out of her chest at the sound of Minato’s voice, and a second later, Minato himself was pulling a seat next to her. She had always thought of him as someone who was fiercely protective of his personal space, someone who would most likely sit across another person rather than next to them.
But maybe she was wrong.
“Sorry I was late,” Minato apologized with a grimace. “Something came up the last minute---”
“It’s totally okay---”
“It’s not,” Minato countered with a slight smile. “And I’ll do my best to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Ms. Grant came up to their table as Aya started taking her stuff out of her backpack, and even though the older woman was her rival, she just couldn’t make herself dislike the librarian.
“Did you hear about Aya’s test, Minato?” Karin’s smile was full of pride. “She came here at lunch earlier to thank me. She got a B!”
Minato frowned. “That’s too low.”
Aya burst out laughing. “Not for me. Anything above C minus is a godsend, and just between us three---” Her voice lowered to a confidential whisper. “I should’ve flunked out a long time ago, but Mr. Landers’ just too nice to give me an F.”
Karin glanced slyly at Minato. Isn’t she cute?
Minato glared daggers at the older woman. Stop that!
Aya tried not to feel gloomy at the way the air crackled between the two. Don’t be greedy, she scolded herself. Getting to spend one-on-one time with Minato is more than enough.
Time passed by quickly after that, and before she knew it, their tutoring session had come to its end, and it was time to go.
“Thanks for helping me out,” Aya said shyly.
“I have fun teaching you, so don’t give it another thought.”
If only she could believe that, Aya thought. Everyone in school knew that Minato wasn’t the type to lie about things just to be polite, but maybe he sort of pitied Aya and that was why he was acting extra nice to her?
After thanking Ms. Grant, Aya awkwardly said her goodbyes and left the library. It didn’t feel right to linger and Minato didn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon. Were the two going out on a date after? Could that be what the two meant when they said Minato had to stay behind?
The thought had Aya quickly blinking back tears. You have no right to cry, Aya! He’s not yours!
Back in the library, Karin couldn’t help feeling secretly amused at Minato’s air of restlessness.
“Out with it,” she ordered.
Minato’s handsome face immediately became inscrutable. “I’m not quite sure I get you.”
But Karin only rolled her eyes. “Don’t forget who I am, Minato. So stop beating around the bush.”
Minato grimaced. “I was just wondering…how Aya gets home?”
Karin wasn’t at all fooled by the younger man’s overly casual tone. “I think she walks home.”
Minato was alarmed. “But what about the other night? We finished pretty late---”
“There’s nothing we can do about the other night, but how about next time you offer to drive her home?” She saw hesitation cross over Minato’s face and sighed. “As much as I love how you fuss on me – you need to remember that I’ve survived a good number of years on my own.”
“It just doesn’t feel right,” Minato muttered.
“Then how about we make a deal? I’ll make sure to bring my own car on the days you’ll be tutoring Aya. That way, you won’t have to worry either about me or Aya.”
“That works, I suppose.”
Karin coughed to hide her laughter. So much pride for one so young, she thought wryly. “If you’re worried about me being jealous---”
“Karin,” Minato growled.
“All I’m saying is that I’m not like that. I totally won’t mind if she’s your girlfriend---” Minato started glaring at her again, and she hastily made a gesture of zipping her mouth close.
Aya and Raven were finally able to meet up with Lucien during the weekend, with Raven making the latter pay for their movie tickets. “Payment for not having lunch with us the whole week,” Raven said with a flip of her hair.
“Even if I did meet up with you two, I’d still end up paying.”
Raven grinned. “That’s true.” She turned to Aya. “I need to go to the ladies.”
“I’ll stay here with Luc,” Aya said quickly, knowing how long it often took Raven to do her business. As soon as the other girl left, she turned to Luc –
Luc shot her a steely look of warning. “Don’t.”
“I haven’t said a word yet,” Aya said innocently.
“Don’t ask why you still haven’t told Raven you want her to be your girlfriend?”
“Damn it, Aya.”
Aya burst into laughter. “That depends.”
Luc’s arm suddenly went around her neck. “How about if I try to strangle---”
Oh my gosh!
Aya quickly tore away from Luc’s hold when she saw Minato standing in front of her. “H-Hi,” Aya stammered. It was her first time to see him out of his school uniform, and she struggled not to stare. So beautiful. So sexy. So…hard. In spite of the polite smile playing on her lips, Minato had such a hard look in his jade-green eyes that she couldn’t help feel nervous.
Why did he seem so mad?
Minato gestured at the bucket of popcorn she was holding. “Movie date?”
“More or less.” Aya was about to say that they were just waiting for Raven to come back when someone called out Minato’s name.
Darren appeared at Minato’s side. “I’ve got the tickets.” His interested gaze moved to Aya and Luc, and he grinned. “Didn’t know you two were dating?”
“We’re not,” Aya and Luc said at the same time.
Darren smirked. “Riiiiiight. Maybe try not to sound too defensive next time?” He checked his watch. “The movie’s starting in ten. Let’s go, dude.” Darren gave them a friendly nod. “See you guys.”
“It was nice bumping into you.” Minato’s tone was unusually frosty, and he only gave Luc a curt nod before turning to walk away with his friend.
Aya turned to Luc. “Is it just me---”
“No, it’s not just you,” Luc murmured, his tone pensive.
Her heart sank. “So you also think he was mad at me?”
“I think he’s mad at both of us.”
Before she could say another word, Raven suddenly popped into view, and the other girl beamed at them. “Sorry I took so long. Did I miss anything?”
Hope you guys are enjoying this so far. Also - just between you and me...don't you just love it when a hero acts jealous? :D