on falling in love with the cutest girl in the world

None of his friends get it. “She’s cute, but nothing that special,” they say. “Kobayashi from class 3 is cuter. Murata from 2-1 is way cuter.”

“No,” Seijuurou says, watching Gou from the window as she argues with her brother. “She’s cuter than both of them. She’s the cutest girl in the world.”

At first, he tries to befriend Rin, hoping to have an excuse to see her, but Rin is intense and hostile and Seijuurou quickly gives up. “He probably would have killed you if he found out you were after his sister,” his teammates say.

“I’m not after anyone,” Seijuurou replies, “I just want to be near her, I want to know more about her.”

Rin is leaning against the edge of the pool, catching his breath, and no one notices him there.

Gou comes by sometimes, to organize practice meets but more often to pester her brother to come home for dinner on the weekend. One Saturday Seijuurou climbs out of the pool and sees her standing there, and he trips over his own feet to go talk to her. Her hand covers her mouth, and he can’t quite tell if she’s worried or shocked or both. He takes a breath and scrambles up, smooths his hair back out of his eyes, and walks up to Gou.

“Hi, Gou,” Seijuurou says, and she makes a face. “Looking for your brother? He’s doing weight training today.”

Gou shakes her head. “I was looking for you,” she says, and his heart speeds up. “We need to reschedule the practice match next week, is one o’clock okay?”

“That’s fine, I’ll let the coach know.”

Gou smiles. “Okay. Then I’m going to go find my brother now.”

“Your hair looks cute,” Seijuurou says, and he can feel his face go red. He wants to jump in the pool.

Gou just laughs. “Yours too,” she says.

“Gou,” Rin calls from the door. “What do you want?”

“Nice to see you, too!” Gou calls back, making a face. She punches him in the arm and they walk out together. Seijuurou finds a mirror to check his hair, and sees that it’s sticking straight out at the back, like god damn Phoenix Wright.

It’s a couple of weeks later when Rin comes up to Seijuurou after practice and says “Come to the mall with me,” and Seijuurou, in reflexive shock, agrees. They sling their bags over their shoulders and bike across town, and Seijuurou tries to shout small talk but Rin ignores him. When they arrive, Rin takes the elevator to the top floor, where the arcade is, and Seijuurou follows him, and Rin still doesn’t say a word.

Rin weaves through the banks of shooters and rhythm games and purikura booths before stopping near the UFO catchers, and that’s where Seijuurou spots her. She’s in casual clothes and her hair is tied up in a round bun on the top of her head, her tongue sticking out slightly as she tries to get a stuffed panda. She’s so cute that Seijuurou wants to die.

“She likes to be called ‘Kou,’” Rin says, and he shoves Seijuurou forward hard. He stumbles, almost falls over, and when he looks back over his shoulder Rin is already gone.

“Captain Mikoshiba?”

Seijuurou’s heart pounds at the sound of her voice. He turns back to face her. “G… Kou,” he says, “what a coincidence!” He gestures at the machine. “Having some toruble?”

Gou makes a face. “I think this one’s rigged,” she says. She looks at the panda and takes a sharp, annoyed breath.

“Let me try,” Seijuurou says, and puts a coin in and prays. It’s a rotating one, which he totally sucks at, and his palms sweat at he presses the buttons and cranes his neck around to see better. Luck is on his side today, apparently, and the claw grips the panda snugly and drops it into the chute. Gou jumps and claps her hands, and Seijuurou gives her the doll. It has a little chick on the top of it’s head. “You match,” he says, pointing to her hair, and she laughs.

“Thank you,” Gou says, and even though she’s holding the panda in front of her face Seijuurou can see her beaming behind it.

“Do you want to get an ice cream with me?” Seijuurou blurts out, and he thinks he might throw up. Gou looks startled, but then she smiles again, and she takes his hand. Seijuurou’s heart feels like it’s going to burst out of his chest.

“I like Jamoca Almond,” Gou says. “And I want a King sized one, okay?”

Seijuurou stares at the cutest face in the world and thinks, our babies are going to be amazing.

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