It is exactly 7:35 in the morning when you arrive at the train station. It is cramped and crowded, a sight you are rather used to seeing as it is the peak of rush hour. Everyone is waiting for the train — some patient while some others aren’t. The place is brimming with murmurs of people, a couple giggles from students like yourself or some people whispering through their phones as they converse with the person on the other line.
You fiddle with your own phone as you send a message to your friend, to tell her that you are at the train station already waiting for the metro train. You carry your schoolbag hanging on your right shoulder that is filled with notebooks, books, and other supplies you need for school today. You carry a bag with your left hand that, compared to your schoolbag, is filled with two canvases, paintbrushes, and acrylic paint tubes.
You flip your phone shut when you are done texting your message and promptly put it inside the pocket of your skirt. Your eyes are now focused in front of you, idly reading the posters plastered on the walls to avoid eye contact with anyone.
A few minutes later, the PA system sounds throughout the whole station, letting everyone know that train is about to arrive. Instantly, everyone is stepping forward, some stepping beyond the yellow line, obviously ignoring the signs that tell them not to. Immediately after that, the ground beneath you shakes as the low grumbling of engines reaches your ears. The bullet train comes dashing in the station in a flash.
You habitually hold your skirt down as the air blows harshly, you hair whirling all around. You let out a soft yelp when you feel you hairclip slip out of your hair as you reach for it. Your attempts are futile however as it flies away from your reach and falls somewhere on the ground, through the masses of people. You inwardly groan at the mishap, having an internal battle in your head as you are torn in-between into looking for it or just forgetting about it. But it is your favorite hairclip, you tell yourself, and it isn't anything like any other. Although you can buy another one, you just can't help feeling upset about losing it.
People push through you as they quickly rush inside the train; the doors already open for everyone to come inside. You know you are going to miss this train if you go look for your hairclip, and you will be late if you wait for the next train. When almost all hope is lost and you finally decide — yes, just forget about it — a boy comes your way. You know he is as his eyes are focused on you alone. You vaguely notice a tennis racket on his back, but promptly forget as you realize that he is good-looking, tall, and lean. His hair is dark but shines navy when the sunlight touches it and you notice that his eyes are blue, reminding you of the calm, warm sky. You can already tell that he is popular at his school, wherever it is. He gives you a warm smile as he nears you and you are uncertain whether you should return it or not.
"I believe this is yours?" He says with his voice that you find is gentle and rather warm. You feel butterflies in the pit of your stomach, something you find rather ridiculous, but it is not enough to distract you from your curiosity. You finally look at his hand that is held out for you and predictably, your eyes grow wide.
It is your hairclip that is on his open palm, the familiar gems delicately put on it glimmering slightly. The look of joy and relief is obvious on your face as you take it happily from him, thanking him sincerely.
It is July 3rd and 7:38 a.m., the exact date and time when you first meet this handsome boy, completely unaware that he is wearing the school uniform of Rikkaidai, like you are.
The sun is up in the blue sky, its rays bright and incredibly hot. You are slightly sweating in spite of the summer school uniform you wear, an outfit that is definitely thinner than the winter uniform you wear for the winter season.
The air conditioning for the room you are currently at is malfunctioning, so the only source of coolness you are getting is from the gentle summer breeze that comes from the open window. It is not enough, however, to prevent you from sweating. But it is bearable, you tell yourself, too focused on staring at the canvas that is in front of you to pay the heat much mind.
The mentioned canvas is blank as it is placed on the wooden easel settled in front of you. You just gaze at it, a visible frown on your face. Your brows are furrowed as you raise a paintbrush to it, ready to dab the paint tool on the white canvas, only to pull it away after much more contemplation. You are confused and very much annoyed, as you have no idea what to paint. It has been going on for weeks and the deadline for the art contest is nearing soon. You have racked your brain for ideas and unfortunately, you come up with nothing.
You place the paintbrush down by the wooden palette by your side, letting a sigh escape from your lips. It is frustrating that you hit an art block at a critical time and just the thought of it makes you grumble under your breath, glaring at the canvas before you, as if it is to be blamed for your current dilemma.
The sliding door from behind you opens swiftly with a slam. Fast footsteps come rushing in afterwards, heading for your direction. Only when you notice this do you finally look.
"Ah! There you are!" It is your friend who speaks as she stops in front of you. A huge grin is on her face and you are almost skeptical at the sight of it. You narrow your eyes suspiciously up at her.
"Okay, what's up with that suspicious grin on your face?" You ask her, never letting your guard down. She merely lets out a giggle that makes you skeptical even more. She bounces towards you, grabbing your arm almost immediately. You yelp at this, almost tripping on your own two feet as she pulls you rather forcefully.
"What are you doing?!" You demand from her but let her drag you anyway.
"The regulars from the tennis club are training today," she says. You roll your eyes at this.
You should've known.
"And I should care because...?" You ask, waiting for her reply. She doesn't though, which you predict will happen. She drags you by the windows and you cover your eyes when the sunlight from outside almost blinds you with its heated glare. You look to the direction of the tennis court when your friend points at it eagerly. You merely stare, your eyes drooping uninterestedly.
"Look at Yagyuu-sama!" She exclaims happily. "Isn't he so dreamy~?" She sighs like a love-stricken damsel that makes you roll your eyes once again.
"Huh, I know someone else who is dreamy and it sure isn’t this Yagyuu-sama of yours," you tell her pointedly and in return get elbowed on the side rather painfully. You shoot her a glare after you massage the tender spot but she ignores you as she stares back at the boy.
"Really now, don't you even think he's attractive at least? Are you even attracted to men?"
"Of course I am. I love Hyun Joong-san with all my heart," you tell her with a straight face, refusing to answer her former question. She merely stares at you, wondering who the hell is that man but promptly shrugs her shoulders and changes the subject.
“Hey, so, the regulars are training tomorrow late,” she tells you, her eyes now back to the man of her affection. She suddenly lets out a squeal that scares you a bit, but don’t ask what that was for. You don’t even bother asking her how she knows they are training late tomorrow. “Wanna tag along~?”
Do I even have a choice, is what you want to ask her, but you remain quiet and merely give her a nod as an answer. You know that you have a painting to finish and have less than ten days to do that, but what the heck. You don't even have any inspiration so you may as well go. Besides, you can use it as an excuse to support your school...or something. Go with the flow, as they say.
“So, have you started your painting?” She asks and automatically looks at the easel. When a very confused expression forms on her face, you only let out a sigh and shake your head in irritation.
“I can’t think of anything to paint,” you tell her softly. “It’s actually annoying.”
She hums in response while she holds her hands from behind.
"You know," she drawls. "They say that a person in love can be inspired forever."
Her expression is strangely soft, almost uncharacteristically. You only look at her and the soft expression on her face. You aren't too sure why the sudden change of mood, but you are only able to tilt your head to the side in confusion.
"...You're right," you finally say after much pondering. "I should probably paint a picture of Hyun Joong-san and I. It is important that the world knows of our love."
Now she is able to ask who this person is and your only answer is a simple "my husband" and she considers that maybe she isn't the only one who is a loony, but you tell her that you take offense to that and then she finally drops the subject.
"Well, it's obvious you won't be done anytime soon so I'm gonna go ahead. I'll see you tomorrow?"
You nod and bid her a goodbye before she slides the door close.
It is once again quiet in the art room, leaving you to that strong scent of paint, plasticine, and paper. It is still hot, but the heat has toned down as the sun slowly sets. You sit yourself in front of the blank canvas that you have been staring at blankly for the past few moments once again. The acrylic paint that is squeezed out on the wooden palette is almost dried up. You sprinkled water on it to prevent it from drying up even more, but you curse inaudibly when the color is not the same as you want it to any longer.
"This is just ridiculous," you whisper under your breath. You puff your cheeks up and childishly blow out air. It does little to make you feel better, unfortunately.
When the sky has changed to hues of oranges and reds, it is then that you give up entirely and call it a day.
Another day wasted, you think bitterly. But you tried, you really did.
You gather your things with a sigh, washing the paint off the brushes that you really did not use. The wooden palette still filled with wet paint is covered with plastic and you place it in the fridge provided in the room to prevent it from drying up. You have a feeling that you will not be using it tonight either and will just dry up if you do take it home. It is best you leave it here for tomorrow.
When you are all set, you leave the art room. You bow to the janitor you passed by, giving him a small smile. He nods at you before he goes to do his job. After you have removed your indoor slippers and slipped on your normal shoes, you are out of the school building. You don't even find it weird as you find the whole place deserted. It is rather late, almost close to 6 o'clock when you check your wristwatch.
Normally, you walk to the train station since it is a walking distance, but you are too lazy to walk and the bus is conveniently there so you run for it. It took you about five minutes to arrive at the station. There are only a handful of people lingering around once you get to the platform that leads to your home. You sit by a bench close to you, throwing both your schoolbag and bag of art supplies you carry on it. You promptly sit beside it afterwards, letting a sigh of relief. Your right shoulder is sore from carrying your schoolbag and you try to ease the soreness by massaging said shoulder.
You just stare into nothing as you wait for the train to arrive. You fiddle with your fingers once in a while or just tap your foot to an imaginary beat. At least it is not too hot anymore as you wait. The breeze is slightly cool now, but it will stay this way until tomorrow where it will be unbearably hot once again.
You silently hope that the air-conditioning at your school tomorrow will be fixed already by the time classes start. And when the thought of classes cross your mind, you are reminded once again of the painting you have not started on at all and you are frowning then.
“They say that a person in love can be inspired forever.”
Your friend’s words come echoing in your head upon remembering it. You blink, wondering why out of everything she has told you today that one leaves an impression on you (with the exclusion of her obsession with Hiroshi Yagyuu).
You are familiar with the word love, but really, you have not fallen in love yourself. You are still young, too young for idle things such as love. You think of it as a minor thing, a temporary fleeting feeling that is common to teenagers like yourself. You’ve seen girls giggling foolishly as they see an attractive boy and you’ve seen your friend gushing over Hiroshi Yagyuu. It’s just a phase that they will grow out someday once they mature.
The familiar voice coming from the PA system speaks as it announces the train’s arrival.
You let out a sigh as you begrudgingly carry your bags once again, but you stop as your eyes land on a familiar form. You try to look away but you can’t as your eyes are glued on him. His back faces you and he is neither slouching nor standing up straight. He is just comfortably there waiting for the train to arrive, just like you are. A tennis racket is swung over his back while his schoolbag is perched on his right shoulder. He slightly turns his head to the left, probably to check how close the train is to nearing the station, but you ignore it as you catch a glimpse of his left eye that is the hue of blue.
You don’t know why but the moment you see his eyes, you think of painting something blue and — much to your frustration — remember your friend’s words.
The scent of acrylic paint is strong as you fill the white blank canvas with different shades of blue. There is nothing on it except hues of blue, but you think it’s a good start. The art club teacher is looming behind you but she says nothing for which you are thankful of. Unlike any other teachers, she does not pressure her students. She simply keeps track of their progress and occasionally reminds them of the deadline. She is the one who suggested that you join the regional art contest. The given theme is “By Chance” and when she mentions it, you merely give her a blank stare, getting no immediate inspiration from the theme itself. But you tell her that you will participate in the contest anyway, not giving much thought of the prize.
You just want to paint.
“All right, everyone,” your teacher says out loud to catch everyone’s attention. “It’s five o’clock already. Be sure to clean up after yourself. Don’t leave any of your stuff in the room as I can’t guarantee it will be here the next day. Also, don’t forget about your deadlines. That is all. Be careful on your way home and have a nice day.”
When she is done talking, everyone starts getting up to clean up. Some students bid each other farewell, you do so, too, but it is kept short and curt. Your teacher stays behind to see everyone off and make sure no one leaves a mess in the art room. You leave your painting on the easel so that when you come back the next day, it will be dry. You wash your paintbrushes and dry them with a clean cloth. You gather your things then.
“Still having a hard time thinking of what to paint?” Your teacher asks once she sees you are ready to leave. You look at her then back at the canvas you were painting on a while ago.
“…It’s getting there,” you say although you aren’t too sure yourself. “I’ll try my best.”
She gives you a sincere smile, patting your shoulder.
“I see. Well then, have a safe trip home.”
You bow to her politely before you leave the room. The hallways are empty by now, but you enjoy the silence as you head for the shoe lockers. When you are putting on your outdoor shoes, you feel your phone vibrate from the pocket of your skirt. You take a cautious look around you, checking if there are any teachers around to see you. When you are sure the coast is clear, you pull it out to see who has e-mailed you.
It is your friend, telling you with a heart that she will meet you by the tennis courts. You deadpan at the phone; you already know why she wants to meet up with you there, but you don’t complain as she patiently waited for you until you were done with your club activities. You walk to the tennis court, frowning at the sudden change of temperature once you leave the school building. Not far away, you can already hear the resounding sounds of tennis balls hitting rackets and floors.
Bleachers, is the message you get when your phone vibrates again. You look up and sure enough, you see your friend waving her hand at you. Your pace quickens as you approach her. You climb two steps up, where she is sitting and don’t miss the wide smile on her face.
“How was art club?” She asks you as you precariously drop your bags with heavy thuds and then sit beside her.
“It was all right,” you answer, fanning yourself with your hand. It is unbearably hot already and it did not help that there is no shed over your heads to cover you from the cruel sunbeams. “I finally started on my painting. But it’s only filled with…blue colours.”
“Do you think you’ll finish it soon? You have nine days left, right?”
You nod gingerly, frown marring your face.
“I honestly don’t know,” you tell her truthfully with a deep sigh. “But I’ll try. Sensei isn’t saying anything but I know she wants me to finish the painting on time.”
“Maybe looking at Yagyuu-sama will help you? Just look at those long limbs and lean muscles. I think I’m about to faint~!” Somehow, her squeal is toned down today. Probably because aforementioned boy is just a few feet away from them and if he ever hears her, he will probably think she’s weird and then it will break her heart and then you have to make her feel better and —
You push those odd thoughts away and instead look in front of you to watch the regulars train. Two of them are having a match right now. The one on the left is Hiroshi Yagyuu while the other is a boy who has dark skin and bald hair. They both are sweaty as they move quickly to counter the ball back to each other. Their forms barely register in your head, but you still see it. You are brimming with excitement as you rummage through your bag to get your sketchbook, all complaints about the heat now gone. You want to draw their forms while they move. It will be good practice.
When both your mechanical pencil and sketchbook are out, you immediately scribble on the pages. Your friend finally notices what you are doing and slaps her forehead with her own hand.
“I brought you here so you can appreciate the male species,” she says with a tone of exasperation. “Not draw them.”
“I am appreciating them,” you say but do not look at her. “But not in the way you do.”
She glares at you but you don’t notice. She seizes her glaring though as soon as she notices what you are drawing.
“It looks exactly like him! Can I have it? Pretty, pretty, pretty please?!” She asks giddily as she leans closer to take a closer room. You nudge her away with your elbow.
“Gah! Get away! It’s hot enough as it is!” You tell her with a mock-frown.
“Why are you so mean? I thought we were friends!” She pretends she is crying, her eyes growing wide in a puppy look way. You are unaffected by it, however.
“Well, I guess I could give it to you…” You say slowly. Her face immediately lights up at that, puppy look gone. “But you have to buy me pineapple ponta!”
She gives you a scowl but obliges to do your bidding anyway, mumbling something along the lines of peer pressure. You ignore her as you smile sweetly at her. She gives you one final glare before turning to a corner, probably to where the nearest vending machine is. You go back to drawing, barely noticing that the match is now getting intense. Two pages are already full and you are now on your third page of sketches. The lines are quick but precise when you sketch. You think for a moment that the anatomy for men is so much different from women. Unlike women, men have fewer curves and are mostly squares and rectangles.
While you are busily looking through your sketches, you fail to notice that the match has stopped for a break. Someone approaches your seated form, noticing you before when he watches his teammates practice. He notices that you are familiar and smiles in recognition when he sees the familiar hairclip on your hair. Even when he is standing in front of you, you don’t look up and he takes it as advantage to see what you’re doing.
It would seem that you are an artist, judging by the work of art you make with quick movements of your pencil. He finds himself feeling impressed by what he sees and before he even realizes what he’s doing, he is already speaking.
“That’s really good,” he remarks.
You start with a jump, frantically looking at him. The amusement on his face is obvious as he sees your reaction but you don’t notice. Your eyes grow wide when you see who it is, meeting his blue eyes.
It’s him, you think, bashfully blushing all of a sudden.
“A-ah! I’m sorry!” You apologize with a quick bow, refusing to meet his eyes. They are even more beautiful up close and then wonder later on why your heart is beating rapidly.
“It’s you. The girl from before,” he states with a smile.
You don’t know why you are happy to know that he remembers you and also wonder why you never thought he goes to the same school as you are.
“Oh! Thank you for your help the other day. I really appreciate it,” you bow yet again.
You hear him chuckle. “There’s no need to bow,” he says.
You stand up straight, bashfully looking at him. He has a smile on his face that you find very attractive. A green headband is worn around his forehead and he is wearing the Rikkaidai tennis uniform. He looks good on it, you think to yourself, and you notice that he has muscles on the right places.
It takes you a second to figure out that it is his name, fumbling as you give him your name and shake his hand. His hand is bigger than yours, calloused and rough, probably because of playing tennis. But they are warm, just like his smile.
“Is something wrong with my hand?” He asks.
You gasp, realizing that you are staring and apologize profusely. He merely grins at this, as if he is enjoying your reactions.
“So you’re an artist, hm?” He asks. “You’re really good.”
“Ah, thank you. I don’t really think I am though…” You fidget uncomfortably, not used to being complimented. Although you do appreciate it, it still makes you embarrassed even though you should be proud of your talent.
“Don’t say that. You are good and you should be proud of it. Are you part of the art club?”
You nod as an answer, wondering why you are silent more so than usual.
“I’m fond of art myself,” he says. “But I don’t have time to join the art club since I’m the captain of the tennis team.”
“Eh? Really?” You ask in disbelief. “You must be really good then!”
He chuckles at your obvious amazement, finding it quite adorable. He suddenly looks at his wristwatch then back at you.
“Ah, I better get back to practice. Break’s over,” he explains. “Will you be here for long?”
You blink at him a few times, wondering how to answer his question. You’re not quite sure how long you’re staying since you’re just waiting for your friend, which reminds you…where is she? She’s awfully taking a long time to just buy some drinks.
“Um, I guess,” you answer, playing with the hem of your skirt.
“Do you want to go home together then? We’ll be taking the same train anyway.”
You blush at this while your heart pulses faster than before. You can feel your cheeks warming to the point that it’s so unbearable, especially with the afternoon heat.
“Ah…sure,” you meekly reply, cursing inwardly at how stupid you are being right now, but you completely disregard that thought as soon as he gives you a breathtaking smile.
“Great! We’ll be finished soon so you won’t have to wait for long,” he assures with a smile before he goes back to his team. You just stare at him for long, trying to calm your fast beating heart and remain completely unaware of the catcalls his teammates are making at his way as he walks back to them. You don’t even notice as your friend comes back with a can of soda on both hands and sits beside you.
“Oh~? What was that?”
You jump when you suddenly hear her voice.
“Don’t do that!” You scold her, face still red. She merely gives you an impish smile, handing you a can of pineapple-flavored ponta.
“You know Yukimura-san? Whaaaat? And you never even told me?” She asks with a playful pout. You just glare at her, drinking your ponta.
“Tell me! Tell me!” She insists, tugging at your arm.
“I just met him officially today. But I met him at the train station, that one time he returned my hairclip when I dropped it. I was just thanking him for it again,” you explain.
“Are you sure that’s all? You two seem to talk about more stuff though,” she asks with a mischievous smile. You blush at her question.
“…Shut up,” you tell her weakly. When she does not stop staring at you — urging you to tell her everything — it is then that you give in and tell her everything. She wiggles her eyebrows suggestively at you when you are done telling her what happened. You glare in return.
“I guess taking you here did not end up being a waste after all!” She exclaims happily, making you roll your eyes. “Yukimura-san is really nice. And good-looking, too! Well, not as good-looking as Yagyuu-sama~!”
She lets out a blissful sigh out at the mention of the boy.
“Just look at him now, basking under the sun. Look at his perfect skin and muscles. Everything about him is just so perfect~!”
You just ignore her, too busy with your own thoughts. That and well, you just try to block her out about her unhealthy obsession with the boy.
The practice is over before you know it. The sun is already setting down once the boys come out of the locker room. They are chattering animatedly with each other, obvious that they are good friends. They snicker when they see their captain approach you and it is enough to make you blush. You look to your side and, much to your surprise, find your friend nowhere. Where did she —
“Sorry for making you wait,” Yukimura apologizes once he is standing in front of you.
“Ah, no. It’s fine,” you tell him, looking down at your shoes. His eyes are really pretty — why are you even acting this way?!
“That’s good to hear,” he says with a chuckle. “Shall we go then?”
You nod and walk beside him. It is quiet for the first few minutes as you two walk to the station. The only thing that is distracting you for the moment is your loud beating heart. You don’t know why it keeps doing that.
“So what’s your preferred art medium?” He asks, breaking the awkward silence between you two.
“Acrylic paint. Though I do inking as well. It’s really fun,” you answer honestly.
“Oh? Then that must mean you paint. I’d love to see them myself,” he comments.
“Well…they’re not really amazing but I can show them to you if you’d like? I have a couple of finished paintings in the art room —”
You suddenly frown, remembering something. This catches his attention and he asks what’s wrong.
“Oh, it’s nothing. I just remembered I haven’t finished this painting I want to enter for the upcoming regional art contest.” You let out a frustrated sigh. “So far, I’ve only painted the background blue.”
“Art block?” He asks with sympathy and you nod your head.
“When is it due then?”
“In nine days.”
“Ah, I can see how it’s bad then. I’m sure you’ll come up with something,” he offers with comfort.
“I hope so.”
The two of you continue talking about a lot of stuff, not just excluded to art and tennis. You find out that he does watercolour painting even though he is a tennis player. You also find out that he likes gardening, something you find incredibly surprising considering he is a boy.
“Do you play any sports?” He asks.
“I did play volleyball for a while, but I broke my wrist in a tournament and since then, I developed a fear of any form of projectile approaching me,” you tell him with a laugh as you think back to that unfortunate event. “It’s then that I truly embraced my artistic abilities.”
“It turned out for the good then, hm?”
“Yes. That’s why you be careful with playing tennis, Yukimura-san! Don’t push yourself,” you tell him.
“I will. I promise.”
The two of you are already on the train before you know it. You sit on an empty seat and he sits beside you. You blush when you realize how close he is to you and you still can’t believe it…
…Your heart is racing again.
“Do you have art club tomorrow?” He suddenly asks, taking you by surprise.
“Ah, yes. Why?”
“Well, our tennis practice tomorrow ends around that time, I was wondering if I can see your paintings after then. If you don’t mind, that is.”
“Oh, I don’t mind! I’ll gladly show them to you tomorrow. I don’t promise you’ll like them though…”
He lets out a chuckle that reminds you of an angel’s, though you’ve never really met one.
“You need to work on your confidence.”
You smile at him, one that is playful but sincere.
“Is once a day enough, captain?”
He just laughs at you.
Before long, you have to separate ways with him once you two drop off at your stop. You exchange numbers and e-mail addresses first though.
“I’ll see you tomorrow then, I presume?”
“Yes. See you tomorrow,” you say waving your hand at him. He gives you one last smile before he walks off. The train leaves the station in a flash when suddenly you are stricken with inspiration.
You don’t question where or how you get it, but make a dash to your house to sketch your idea. You don’t want to lose it while you still have it.
“Where did you go yesterday?” You query your friend that is giving you a sheepish smile. You don’t smile back and merely give her a blank stare that is rather unnerving.
“But you were getting along well with Yukimura-san! I didn’t want to get in the way~.”
“…That still doesn’t explain why you ditched me yesterday,” you intone dryly. “That’s okay. I don’t have to give you that sketch of Yagyuu-san as punishment.”
She is immediately hugging you, letting out a long wail.
“You’re so meeeeeeeeean! I even bought you pineapple ponta yesterday!”
“Nope. You’ll have to repent for what you did.”
She pouts at you as she pulls away, sniffing.
“Horrible friend,” she mutters under her breath.
“Says the person who ditched me yesterday.”
“Hmph. Just because you have a date later…”
You blush at that but still manage to send her a glare. You return back to painting.
It is lunch break right now and you are at the art room with your friend. You have your bento box on the side half-finished as you are more focused with your painting. Your friend is sitting idly beside you, drinking a juice box and munching on a meat bun.
“It’s coming along well,” she remarks as she eyes your painting. “Think you can finish it on time?” She asks curiously.
“I don’t know,” you tell her earnestly. “There’s still something amiss...I can’t tell what though.”
She hums in response, sipping on her juice box rather noisily. You don’t pay it any mind though.
“I’m sure you’ll figure it out,” she says finally after a long pause.
“Thanks. That helps very much.”
“Hey, I’m art-retarded. Unless you really want to lose badly, then I can help you.”
You just smile at her silliness and finish your lunch quickly since classes will begin soon. You clean up quickly, your friend helping you. By the time you reach your classroom, the bell has just sounded. Classes go by smoothly, though, you and your friend get into trouble in one of your classes when your teacher catches you exchanging notes while classes are being held. You are sent outside in the hallways to do seiza  for the remainder of the class. By the end of it, you can barely feel your legs and you blame your friend for it.
Soon enough, classes are done and it is time to go home. Your friend goes on ahead, knowing you have an art club to attend to and have a date later on. You try to correct her but she is already bidding you goodbye with a mischievous cackle.
You are so killing her tomorrow.
You go to the art club. A few people are already there, including the art teacher who offers you a small smile. You bow to her as a greeting. You then set up your stuff, continuing your painting that you were working on during lunch break.
"Finally got some inspiration?" She asks as she sees your painting. You nod.
"It's still far off from being done though..."
"Well, you still have more than a week. You'll be able to finish it."
You mumble a soft "I hope" before she finally leaves you to work on it. Nothing special is done for the club except work on your paintings or drawings. She does her rounds, giving advices to some of her students or — in your case — keeping track of your progress. She doesn't say anything; she just looks before she goes back to her desk to work on some paperwork.
You lose yourself in the painting as you mix colors and apply them on the canvas. By the time you are brought back to reality, it is already 5 o'clock. Everyone is already cleaning up but you remain seated as you paint. A few people compliment your painting, to which you reply a quiet thanks, before they say goodbye and leave.
"Are you staying to work more on your painting?" Your teacher asks once she notices that you are the only one left in the room. You look at her and say yes.
"I'll be busy next week because of a couple of tests...I need to study at least," you explain. You aren't failing any classes, but you aren't getting the best marks either. You really just are an average student so you have to study hard in order to get good marks.
"I see. It will be hard then, but I'm sure you'll be fine. You aren't failing any classes, are you?"
The door suddenly slides open and you look only to see Yukimura there. He takes his time to scan the room before he finds you and immediately smiles and calls your name. You resist the urge to blush and instead greet him as he walks towards you. He bows to your teacher when he is standing close to you two.
"Well, I'll see you on Friday. Don't forget to clean up and don't stay too late," your teacher tells you as she gives you a knowing smile. You miss the smile however and bid her goodbye before bowing.
"This is the one you're working on for the art contest?" He asks as he pulls a stool next to you.
"Yes," you say.
"It's the train station," he comments when he recognizes the outlines you make on the canvas — that and the scattered references you have that is taped conveniently at the top of the easel.
"Ah. Yeah. It's not too weird, is it?" You ask him worriedly.
"No, no. It's fine. I like the hues of blue. It's really calming."
Just like you are, you think to yourself but choose not to tell him that.
"How was tennis practice?" You ask.
"The usual. We just have to be in shape for our next game."
"Is it tough being a captain?" You ask afterwards. "I remember our captain for the volleyball team. All the pressure's on her..."
He just smiles, an unreadable one.
"It is," he finally answers. "But that doesn't matter. Compared to that, my teammates are more important."
You smile at him and say, "You're a kind person, Yukimura-san."
He chuckles, giving you one of his breathtaking smiles that leave you breathless.
"So are you."
You blush, thinking that it's not fair that he's this attractive. You show him some of your finished paintings. He seems to genuinely like them.
"You should paint me something," he jokingly says, but you miss the amusement in his tone.
"I'll give you the painting," you tell him seriously. "When I finish it, I'll give it to you, definitely."
He says that you don't have to, but you insist.
"It's because of you," you say vaguely that he doesn't quite understand. He doesn't ask though, merely smiles at you and says, "I'll wait for it then."
When it's almost 5:30 in the afternoon, you two decide to head home. You take your painting with you, as it's dry already. Yukimura offers to carry your stuff, but you decline kindly. He insists though so after a few more exchange of amiable arguments, you finally give in.
"You're so stubborn," you tell him with a pout that he only laughs at.
"You're cute," he says that sends you blushing. He notices this, as if he is expecting you to, and laughs amusedly.
You playfully smack him on the shoulder that only sends him laughing even more. You can't help feeling giddy at his laugh. It's so gentle and soft. You don't ever want him to stop smiling or laughing. It suits him. And the way his eyes light up with both mischievous amusement and just happiness in general makes you extremely happy.
"It's weird," you tell him as you two near the train station.
"What is?" He asks curiously as he looks down on you seeing as he is a head foot taller than you.
"I've only met you, but I feel like I've known you forever," you say as you look up at him.
He just looks at you, his hair fluttering slightly as the wind breezes by. He smiles warmly as he watches your own hair flutter with the wind, the hairclip you wear decorating your frame. Your eyes are shining and he can't help thinking that they are beautiful as well.
"I feel the same way."
Seiichi Yukimura is such a beautiful person, you claim to yourself. And it is because of that you finally come to a conclusion that you will include him in the painting.
They say that there is an invisible red thread that binds two people together. Whatever happens between the two of them, they will always end up together. The thread may grow longer but it will never be cut off.
You wonder who is bind to you, wonder what he looks like, and wonder how he is.
Your thoughts regarding the matter are soon forgotten though when someone calls your name. You look up and see Yukimura in his physical education outfit, approaching you. You hear your friend snicker beside you as the two of you sit in the corner while your class plays basketball.
"Your husband is calling you," she says teasingly. You elbow her but she avoids it in time so you just settle into glaring at her. She just grins at you before she tells you that she's going to the washroom. You don't believe her, but she leaves before you can even accuse her of it.
"I see you're having fun," he says as he occupies the space beside you.
"Very," you intone dryly to which sends him into a grin. "Won't your teacher mind that you're here with me instead of playing with your class?" You ask when you see that his class is playing basketball as well.
"No, my turn is over. Besides, I don't think he'd mind too much since I'm already a good athlete."
"Modesty isn't your thing, huh?"
He just laughs in return.
"Ne, Yukimura-san," you call, tone curious and serious. "Do you believe in the red string of fate?"
He just stares at you, as if observing your features and taking his time to answer. He then smiles and you feel your heart pounding as you hear his answer.
"I do. And I hope it's the person I'm looking at."
"How does it feel?"
Your friend doesn't even look up from copying your homework. For a second, you think she is ignoring you but realize that she probably didn't hear you so you repeat your question, louder this time.
"How does it feel?"
"Feel what?" She finally replies, but doesn’t look at you.
"You know..." You trail off, uncertain how to word out your thoughts. "Being in love? Or something."
She finally looks at you, ceasing her writing. There is no amusement or mischievousness on her face when you look at her. There's only a knowing smile on her face.
"It's a lovely feeling," she tells you as she regards you carefully. "We are still young so people tend to just see it as just a fleeting emotion. But who are they to know, right?"
She points at the left side of your chest with the tip of her pen.
"When you see that person, even just their shadow, your heart beats faster. You feel nervous; your hands become sweaty. When you are with that person, you feel like you are the luckiest person. And your thoughts, however unrelated they are with that person, always drift to that one person."
She gives you a wide smile.
"It's wonderful, isn't it?"
You nod your head before you stop when you realize something. You look back at her, wondering how she knows that you feel that way, but she is already looking away, back to copying your homework.
So you are left pondering to yourself, wondering one thing.
Are you in love?
You don't see Yukimura the next day or the day after that or even the coming days after that. The art contest is fast approaching, you note. You are extra stressed because of some tests from your classes, but since you're a procrastinator — a common trait for artists — you are painting instead of studying (and you know for sure you'll regret it later on).
You only have a day left to finish your painting. You are almost done though, fortunately. The background is done and you are just adding the important details. You smile as you look at the form you are currently painting. It is a familiar form that you know all too well by now. You can almost feel like it is the person himself. You can already imagine smelling his familiar scent, seeing his teasing smiles and laugh, and his warm eyes that look at you sincerely.
You put your heart on it all as you paint, as well as your emotions and feelings into it. It is easy to express what you feel by painting so you do it, knowing that you can't easily express it with words.
You place your paintbrush on a container filled with water that is now of an indescribable color. You ignore the random splotches of paint on your fingers and apron as you smile widely at the painting before you.
"It's done," you muse, feeling relieved and accomplished. You go clean yourself up before you throw yourself on the bed, letting out a sigh of relief. Your thoughts wander to how tomorrow will turn out. Will your teacher like it? Will Yukimura like it?
You suddenly feel nervous at that thought. What if he doesn't like it? You tell your brain to shut up because you are too tired to worry about petty things and you desperately need sleep because you have been procrastinating for the past few days. But your brain remains stubborn as you are filled with thoughts of Yukimura. You don't know why you feel this way, why your heart suddenly jumps with joy when you see him or why your cheeks turn red when he compliments you. You don't know either why you are always thinking about him or why just the thought of him makes your day.
“It’s wonderful, isn’t it?”
You grumble through your pillow as you bury your face into it.
A few more curses and incoherent whines later, you finally fall asleep. You wake at the usual time, 6:30 o'clock in the morning. You walk to your bathroom to take a quick shower and then get ready. You eat your breakfast quickly, idly listening to the television that is open. It seems it will be hot again today, according to the weather newscast. You bid goodbye to your parents when you leave for school. You walk to the train station and arrive at around 7:35 a.m. You wait in the usual platform, carrying your schoolbag and the painting you were working on diligently in the past few days.
You let out a yawn, covering your mouth when you hear your name being called. You automatically look at whoever called. The smile that forms on your face is instant the moment you see who it is.
"Yukimura-san, good morning," you greet when he is standing beside you. He greets you as well and smiles at you that — as foolish and cliché as it sounds — makes your heart jump with joy. Now you kind of understand how your friend feels when she sees Hiroshi Yagyuu (and you’re still hoping that don’t end up like her).
"You look tired," he points out when you let out another yawn.
"Yeah...I haven't had much sleep because I was trying to finish the painting..." You say.
"You finished it then?"
You nod, holding out the bag that carries the painting to show it to him.
"Can I see it?" He asks.
"Nope!" You quickly say, hiding the bag behind you even though it doesn't do much justice. He has an amused look on his face at your antics and decides to play along.
"Not even a peek?" He asks yet again, leaning in closer. You chuckle at him before you shake your head as a no.
"Not even a peek, no. You'll have to wait for it until they announce the winners!"
"But it's going to be mine anyway," he reasons.
"I haven't given it to you yet so it's still mine," you counter back that earns you a poke on your side, sending you into a fit of laughter. He knows that you are ticklish there and he likes the way you laugh so he does it again until you are out of breath and plead for him to stop it.
The voice from the PA system suddenly speaks, announcing that the train is about to arrive. You take an involuntary step forward, still conversing with Yukimura. You forget that in your haste to get ready this morning, you didn't snap the hairclip in your hair properly. So when the train zooms by in a flash, the hairclip slips out of your hair. You reach out for it, but miss it. It falls on the ground but a large hand picks it up and you find later on that it is Yukimura who picks it up. He hands it to you, an amused smile on his face as he notices that you are just staring. This feels like a déjà vu.
"How nostalgic," he says. "This is how we first met, didn't we?"
You smile as well, thanking him.
The clock strikes exactly at 7:38 a.m. when this unfolds. And you remember vaguely that it is at this exact time that you first meet this handsome boy.
When you hand the painting to your teacher, she merely stares at it with a knowing smile.
“It’s beautiful,” she comments. “You definitely improved.”
She looks at you.
“Do you have a title for it?”
It is your turn to smile but it is one of nostalgia and fondness.
You are at the station on a Sunday morning. It's 7:30 o'clock in the morning and there are barely any people at the station. It's still too early, especially for a Saturday morning though you can't help finding it weird that it is not crowded like it usually is on the weekdays. But it's no surprise, really. It's the weekend after all.
A canvas is on your lap, wrapped with plastic. You play with the edge of it, eyeing it with interest. Although you appear calm on the outside, you are quite the mess inside. Your heart is beating rapidly, a result of you being nervous.
You are waiting for someone. You feel bad that you ask to meet up this early in the morning but he says he doesn't mind and is on his way, according to his message that he sent an hour ago. You wait patiently, trying your best to calm yourself. However, your nerves refuse to listen.
The sound of your name brings you out of your internal battle and you are met with a pair of blue eyes. For once, his face is not adorned with a smile but of worry. You offer him a smile, patting the empty space beside you. He gets the message and sits down, eyeing you curiously.
"I'm sorry for asking you to meet me this early morning," you start with an apology, your hands clasped together.
"Don't worry about it. Tennis practice is sometimes earlier than this time so I don't mind," he assures.
"The painting," you tell him, still refusing to look at him. "I got it back. I won an honorable award."
He smiles widely at that. "Congratulations."
You thank him quietly and he wonders why you don't appear to be happy about it. It worries him even more.
"7:38 a.m.," you say. He only blinks at you. "It's the title of the painting."
You finally look at him and simply ask, "Do you know why?"
He does not answer, so you take this chance to hand him the wrapped canvas and he takes it without any question. You wait until he pulls it out of the wrapping. It is silent then between the two of you and you dare not to look at him or his reaction when he sees the painting. You are afraid to.
The PA system resounds throughout the whole place, announcing that the train is about to arrive. A smile crosses your lips, eyes on the train that drives by, its form blurry from its fast movement. You then look at your wristwatch.
"7:38," you say. "It's 7:38 a.m., the exact time I met that handsome boy at this train station. That boy who had picked up my hairclip in amidst that crowd of people."
"7:38 a.m.," he says, catching you by surprise. You didn't really expect him to speak. "Is the exact time I see that girl with the same hairclip every day at the train station."
You feel a hand touch your cheek and you look, seeing the warm and fond look on his face.
"I...never really knew how to approach you so I always just watch you from afar. But when your hairclip fell on the ground, I knew it was my chance."
He smiles at you, brushing his thumb against your cheek, as if he is reliving that moment.
"And then we meet again, at the tennis court, wearing the same hairclip." He lets out a chuckle that you are so fond of. It brings a smile to your face.
“What? It looks nice on me.”
“Yes. It does look nice on you,” he agrees leaning down on you. You don’t pull away, even as his face is extremely close to you. On the contrary, you welcome it.
“Do you believe in love, Yukimura-san?” You ask him.
His only answer is a smile as he leans down, capturing your lips into his. You lean up as well, treading your fingers around his neck.
The painting remains forgotten for the moment, but you know that he will treasure it forever. After all, it is a painting of you and him at the train station, standing beside each other but backs turned to the viewer. The painting itself is painted with different hues of blue, but one notable thing that stands out is the red string that is tied around their pinky fingers, binding them together forever.