Chapter Six

There was a knock on the door and Yaya started slightly, knocked out of her concentration by the noise. The knock came again, and she smiled at her jumpiness, calling out a “Come in!” as she returned to her work. The door opened, “Gee, I’m surprised you’re back so early, Hikari, I was sure that you’d be late because of the student council thing.”

“Uh…” There was a slight clearing of the throat, and the voice that spoke did not belong to Hikari. Yaya looked up, “Oh! I’m sorry, I just expected it to be Hikari…”

Tsubomi stood just beyond the doorway, right hand still lingering on the doorknob. In her left arm she clutched a crisp textbook to her chest along with a notebook, pink mechanical pencil clutched in her hand. She was biting her lip and looked slightly flustered, her movements completely paused.

Yaya stared back, strangely caught in the moment. But it had soon passed, and she shook her head to clear it, before speaking again, “Well? Are you going to come in or not?”

Tsubomi blushed furiously, embarrassed, “Of course I am! I wouldn’t just knock on your door for nothing!” She charged into the room, closing the door with too much effort, and thudded herself down onto Yaya’s bed. She glared, almost challenging Yaya to comment on her method of entry, but Yaya merely looked amused at her behavior.

“So, what brings you here? Hikari’s off somewhere… she’s actually probably not done with all the Etoile stuff she had to do today.”

“I wasn’t looking for her.”

Yaya was a little surprised by the irritation in the other girl’s tone, but was cut off from responding when Tsubomi spoke again, “I came because I wanted help with my math homework… Hikari is awful at math, I’d never ask her.”

“Ah… lemme see, you must have Kareda-sensei for it, right? It’d probably be better if you asked her, though… she’s really good at helping students out.”

“Well, I don’t want to ask her! I know you do well in math, and you did this stuff already, so I want your help.”

Yaya shrugged, “Well, alright, but I did take that class two years ago, so I’m probably not too sharp on it any more.”

But the textbook was handed over, open to the section of homework which Tsubomi had due the following morning. Yaya studied the page, and pulled out a fresh piece of paper. She nodded to the other side of the room, her eyes still regarding the problems presented, “Drag Hikari’s desk chair over, it’ll be easier for me to show you if you sit right next to me.”

Tsubomi obeyed, picking up the chair to bring over when it squealed upon being moved on the wooden floorboards. She set it down next to Yaya, and perched on the edge, leaning over the desk and the work being produced below.

“Well, I did the first problem just to refresh my memory; what is it you’re having trouble with?”

“Um, the part where you have to…”

They worked, Yaya patiently showing Tsubomi how it was done, and Tsubomi following her lead. Problems were solved first by Yaya, then a few were done together, and finally Tsubomi took over, moving slowly through the page, Yaya quietly checking them as she worked on the next problem.

“Well!” Yaya stretched, “I think you’re getting the hang of it. Is that all there is for your homework?”

“Yes.”

“Good – I still have my own homework to finish!”

“Oh!” Tsubomi flushed, “I didn’t know you still had homework to do.”

“Nah, don’t worry about it – there isn’t much, and its just Japanese literature. Anyway, I don’t mind helping either, helps break up the monotony of my own schoolwork.”

“But I don’t want you to get behind…”

“Oh, please, I don’t really care – I don’t really have to worry about my grades until next year if I wanna go to college.” Yaya said with a wink.

But Tsubomi stood up suddenly, snatching back her homework and book, and pushed the chair away, looking angry, “How can you say that? You shouldn’t bother if you’re not going to try!” She picked up the chair and rapidly deposited on the other side of the room before huffing out of the room, slamming the door once more.

Yaya blinked, dumbfounded at the younger girl’s abrupt departure. But she shrugged, deciding it was a bit par for the course as far as Tsubomi was concerned. And, besides, she did have to finish her own homework, even if she was not looking forward to it – not to mention, it was doubtless she could get Tsubomi to be more agreeable even if she did follow her…

So it was back to the homework, at least for now.

The next day, Yaya was walking down the hallway of Spica’s main building, headed for choir practice. She had not managed to finish her Japanese literature homework, and had only narrowly avoided detention – Maeda-sensei was a big fan of the choir, and knew there was a concert coming up, a stroke of luck for Yaya.
One of the classroom doors rolled open, and Tsubomi stepped out, an odd look on her face.

“Oh, hey Tsubomi.”

“Here!”

Yaya looked down at Tsubomi’s outstretched hands, hands which were tightly gripping a small white box with an iris bud pinned to it. She took the box, and gingerly opened it. Inside lay a pile of miniature cookies, and she smiled, “Thanks, Tsubomi.”

Tsubomi let her hands fall to her side and look away, her cheeks slightly reddened, mumbling, “I just wanted to thank you for your help… I’m sorry I got mad…”

Yaya shrugged, “You don’t need to worry about it, I wasn’t upset.”

The pink-haired girl continued to look away, scuffling her feet on the floor, and said nothing.

“Well, anyway,” Yaya said, tucking the box into her schoolbag, “We should get going, or we’ll be late for choir.” She turned, beckoning the other girl to follow her, and Tsubomi stepped up, falling into a steady pace close by Yaya’s side. Behind them in the corridor, Hikari turned away. She supposed she could take a different route that day.

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