Partners - Minoru Satomi

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"Minoru... Do you want to walk home together?"

"I am busy after school with the Student Council. Please walk home without me."

...

"Minoru, whatcha reading? I love to read! Maybe we-"

"Would you look at the time! I'm afraid I have to get going."

...

"Minoru! I made mochi from scratch! Would you like one?"

"Thank you for offering, but I'm on a diet at the moment."

...

Before you knew it, the first week of classes had passed and you had made no progress with Minoru.

There was just no getting close to her! She was always courteous with her rejections, but her nature remained cold and distant. Even when she was surrounded by fellow classmates, it was as if there was a sheet of glass between her and them.

Monday morning found you moping in World History. Ms Yume was describing the first group project of the year. Apparently there would be a lot of group projects and peer tutoring in this class.

You were only half listening, though. You were too busy trying to save your new life to pay attention to academics.

Not to mention, this was the only class you had with Minoru! You spent most of the period looking at her and hoping she would look back. In the five days you've spent sitting next to her, she never once glanced your way.

It felt like she was deliberately averting her eyes. As if you were something obscene.

Or maybe she wasn't actively avoiding you. Maybe you just meant that little to her.

"Any questions?"

A light bulb flicked on above your head and your hand immediately shot up. Before even being called on, you asked, "Teacher, can I be paired with Minoru?"

It was awfully brazen of you, but this was your one chance to get some time with her outside of school. Who knew? Maybe she was a huge softie who was just trying to maintain her reputation as an ice princess.

"I meant questions about the project, Miss Sato," Ms Yume drawled, her lilted tone both teasing and stern. "But, yes, you may work with Miss Satomi, unless she has any objections. Miss Satomi?"

The classroom was unsettlingly quiet. Everyone knew you were trying and failing to befriend Minoru for the last few days. You felt the tension was unnecessary, though. If she said no, she said no. It wasn't as if you had publicly confessed your love for her.

As the silence dragged on, you turned in your seat to look at Minoru and froze.

There was a crack in her mask of chilly politeness. Rather than wearing her typical serene frown, she was openly scowling in annoyance. But the ugly expression that contorted her pretty features passed as quickly as it appeared.

"That's... Fine," she said, her voice ringing out as clear as a bell.

The tension around you subsided. You were suddenly, frightfully aware that this was a potential killer you were provoking.

"Then it's settled. Aina Sato and Minoru Satomi will hence be known as group one. Now, for the next group! Sumiko Doma, who would you like as your partner?"

...

"Aina... Aina? Aina!"

Oh shit, that was you! "What?"

It seemed that World History ended a few minutes ago. You had been busy daydreaming.

Minoru gave you a chilly stare. She was probably waiting for you to apologize for volunteering her as your partner without asking first. You didn't feel too bad about it, though. She could have said no. The teacher gave her that out. She didn't take it.

Why didn't she take it? You wondered, tilting your head to the side.

After a lengthy silence between the two of you, she heaved a put-upon sigh and held out one pale, slender hand. "Phone."

"Oh! Yeah... Yes, of course." You obediently unlocked your phone and gave it to her so she could save her number in your contacts.

It was hard to resist squirming with excitement. This was a major breakthrough! Communication was key in any relationship. Now you could text, exchange memes, talk about boys...

"Don't text me unless it's related to the project," Minoru said, not looking up as she texted herself from your phone.

Well, that dream sure did die on the vine.

"I'm busy this week with Student Council elections," she continued before handing your phone back. "Come over to my house Saturday morning. We can work on the project then. I'll text you my address."

You fought the urge to fist pump as she walked away with a sway of skirt and hair. A phone number and an invite to hang out? In one day? This called for a celebration! You were going to stop at your favorite sushi place on the way home and eat until you burst!

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