A/N: This chapter has been edited and revised on August 3, 2017.
Disclaimer: I do not own KnB!
Chapter 1: "What is your sign?"
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
Time was certainly a difficult concept to fully grasp.
Whenever she was having fun and wanted to prolong the time spent with her friends and family, time always seemed to fly by in an instant. However, whenever she willed time to move just as fast as it did when she had fun, it always seemed to do the opposite to spite her.
The clock is such a tease, Miki thought to herself as she let out a long breath through her nostrils. She lifted her head up from her sleep induced slump and rested her chin against her left hand and fiddled with her mechanical pencil between her fingers.
There was still half an hour before class was –
Miki jerked her head up towards the front of the class and promptly dropped her pencil in her surprise.
The Japanese History teacher, Sonozaki-sensei was glaring down at a student slumped over in the far left seat of the front row.
"Hidaka!" Sonozaki-sensei gritted out again in a challenging tone. Her voice practically reverberated in the confines of their unnervingly silent classroom.
The poor boy, Hidaka Kenji practically jumped out of his seat and looked around groggily before he caught sight of a glowering Sonozaki-sensei above him. He immediately withered under the teacher's harsh glare and sunk deep into his seat in both embarrassment and fear.
"I am incredibly sorry you find this lecture boring, Hidaka-kun. Maybe if you were the teacher instead, you would be more engaging than I. I know that I certainly wouldn't fall asleep in your class – that's just plain rude, is it not?"
"I will be seeing you after class today, Hidaka." Sonozaki-sensei smiled dangerously. "Perhaps then you can tell me exactly what you find dull about my class and how I should improve my lectures." Then she dropped her smile and scowled. "It would do you some good to join in on class discussions. I'm sure you would actually like to pass each test."
No one dared to laugh at the poor boy. They were all too afraid that the teacher would start victimizing them for attracting her very much unwanted attention.
Hidaka gulped loudly and nodded. "Y-Yes, sensei."
Miki felt bad for her classmate, but she was also very much relieved. She had not been caught sleeping in class yet and was not willing to subject herself to public humiliation. She probably would have died on the spot if she was in Hidaka Kenji's shoes.
"Open up your textbooks to page 103. Hidaka, why don't you start us off by reading the first paragraph?"
"U-Um… yes, sensei."
And then she proceeded to space out.
It was only in the very last period that her attention wandered. Her focus and work ethic were simply out the window each and every time she stepped into her Japanese History class. Perhaps it was the anticipation of finally being able to go home, or the result of having put too much of her direct attention from the periods prior. Either way, she always found herself daydreaming by the last class, which unfortunately always resulted in some form of a mistake – perhaps one day she would suffer as Hidaka did.
Although she had a pencil in hand and a notebook on her desk, Miki couldn't will herself to act like the attentive role model student her family would have liked from her. Though that was a near impossibility. She was far too much of a distracted and overthinking airhead to be one – her marks clearly reflected the sentiment.
Her studious straight A's student façade went down the drain the minute she laid her head down on her desk and closed her eyes. With that, Miki decided that there was no point in redeeming herself for the last half hour of school. Instead, she carelessly doodled on the corner of an empty page in her notebook as her classmates started to read off of the textbook one by one. She occasionally listened in and looked down at her textbook laid out in front of her notebook to make sure she was on the right spot when she eventually got picked on.
Once she finished the doodle, she glanced around the room in hopes of gaining inspiration for another time killer. Preferably one that would last her the final thirty minutes left of school.
Her eyes wandered across the vicinity until they landed on a porcelain frog figurine on her neighbour's desk. The girl studied the frog for a few minutes before turning the doodle-filled page and daintily doodling it in a blank margin of her equally blank page. The figurine was rather simple and almost cartoon-like that didn't even last her five minutes until she completed a rough sketch of the frog.
She set her pencil down in mild disappointment and glanced up at her neighbour, the presumed owner of the frog figurine. The boy sitting beside her was significantly taller than the average Japanese teenager. His height was actually quite intimidating when comparing it to the rest of her male classmates. The desks seemed too small for his tall stature as his legs were awkwardly sprawled out in front of him and posture slightly hunched over while he diligently took notes from the teacher's boring lecture.
It mildly surprised her that the boy was actually paying attention. At that point, no one else deemed the teacher worthy of their attention and were busy playing with their phones or carelessly doodling on their sheets as she had. From the past month of sitting beside him, she had noticed that her neighbour was a very smart and studious student who took down notes in each class and completed his homework with a lot of unnecessary detail.
Another bizarre habit of his that she had observed was that he always brought a random and often strange item with him every day.
At first, she thought that he had some sort of addiction to useless knick-knacks. But as weeks grew, she concluded her neighbour didn't exactly have an inclination to trinkets since his items varied from bizarre figurines to something conventional like a small portable fan to sometimes nothing at all. Or rather, something that shared the equivalent weight of nothing as it seemed to not mean anything in particular.
The girl seldom heard her neighbour speak, but whenever he did, she noticed that he had a funny accent of some sort and often ended his sentences with "nanodayo" when conversing with another classmate on a rare occasion. She tried to pinpoint which region he could have come from to attain such a strange accent but it was to no avail. She just couldn't quite put her finger on it. Even her best friend, Kimiko, who had practically travelled to every place in Japan could not distinguish his accent.
"Midorima, could you please read the next paragraph?" Sonozaki-sensei asked from the front of the classroom.
Who was Midorima again?
"In the Asuka period, the – " a familiar deep voice laced heavily with the unusual accent started to read out loud.
Oh, it was her neighbour. Her neighbour's name was Midorima.
The girl almost felt foolish for not remembering his name despite the first few weeks of attendance. She had most definitely heard his name, but she must have forgotten it with the terrible memory of hers.
"Good, now Amuro, if you could please read the next paragraph?" the teacher called on her after her neighbour had finished reading.
She let out an inaudible sigh of dread before reading in her soft and timid voice. "Consequently, the three kingdoms of Korea, Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla – "
As she continued to read the rest of her paragraph, she noticed that her neighbour was intensely scrutinizing her. She squirmed in her seat uncomfortably. The girl hated reading out loud in the class and hated it even more when people stared at her as she did so. And there was something about the boy's gaze that made her tense up in her seat and made her feel far more uncomfortable than any other person could.
It was almost like he was… dissecting her with his eyes. He seemed to be looking deep into her soul and picking and prodding at it as some sort of mad scientist would.
"Thank you, next – "
Although her turn to read was over, Midorima kept his cool gaze on her for a few long moments before turning back to his notes and jotting some more down.
Weird. The guy was just downright weird.
Her neighbour had never so much looked her way the entire month they had been sitting next to each other, so it startled her when he looked at her as she was reading out loud. Perhaps she was overreacting, but she couldn't help it. She felt disturbed from just a single glance. Granted, it was a rather long and intense one but she could very well be over reacting. After all, she basically epitomized the word introvert. Any form of human interaction with strangers typically left her mind a jumbled mess as such.
But there was still something peculiar about her neighbour that made her feel uneasy. Why did have to look at her so penetratingly? Or was she just being too sensitive with her surroundings? She wasn't so sure.
For the remainder of the period, she remained quiet and twirled her pencil in between her fingers in an attempt to distract herself from her weird neighbour. So when the bell signaling the end of school finally rang, she felt relieved and relaxed her tense shoulders.
Miki rose from her seat and started to pack her things into her bag. Her mind started to drift away from her surroundings as she contemplated whether she should stop by the convenience store to get some snacks for the commute back home.
"What is your sign?" the same deep voice from earlier interrupted her train of thoughts.
She blinked owlishly and glanced around her to see if he was actually talking to her not anyone else before confirming that it was indeed her that the tall boy was talking to. She felt the familiar sense of dread wash over her every time she had to break out of her introverted bubble and speak to strangers.
"Um, a Pisces." She responded belatedly in a tentative tone. Was he even talking about her zodiac sign? But what else could he have meant by "sign"?
"I see…" he murmured as he continued to pack his school bag, no longer paying any attention to her.
Miki awkwardly stood there for a few seconds before realizing that he had ended their very unexpected and short conversation. She then quietly packed her own bag, ready to go home from the unanticipated turnout of the school day.
"Miki!" a feminine voice called out to her as she stepped out of her classroom.
She turned to her right to see her best friend, Ito Kimiko leaning against the wall beside her classroom, seemingly having waited for her for a while.
"You ready to go?" Kimiko asked with a toothy grin.
"Yeah." Miki nodded and the two girls made their way outside of the school.
"Anything new happened in the second half of school?" her best friend asked enthusiastically.
Miki thought back to the strange interaction she had with her neighbour, Midorima.
"Well," she found herself saying before she launched into a confused explanation of what had happened to her and Midorima, including the little stare down they had prior to their actual conversation. Could she even call it a conversation? He had simply asked her a question which she had awkwardly replied to, then proceeded to flat out ignore her. She was pretty sure that the definition of conversation did not come remotely close to what that encounter had been.
"Weird." Kimiko expressed the exact thought Miki had in mind after Midorima averted his eyes from their staring contest. "Isn't he friends with Kazunari-kun? The guy who sits in front of me in my class?"
Miki didn't exactly know whom Kimiko was talking about, but pretended she did nonetheless. Otherwise she would have been subjected to a long backstory of a person she frankly did not really care about. "I wouldn't know. I'm not particularly close with him or anything…"
"Oh, well, Kazunari-kun is pretty nice. He's friendly and outgoing, so Midorima-kun must be the same as well, right?"
For some reason, Miki couldn't imagine her neighbour as the friendly and outgoing type despite not knowing him so well. The very image actually made her more uncomfortable. He had been so dreadfullyquiet in the first month of school and he didn't even try to make friends with their fellow classmates. He was the black sheep of their class herd.
"I don't think so. He's a bit quiet." She vocalized her thoughts.
"Says you," Kimiko playfully nudged her. "You can be awfully quiet too."
Miki opened her mouth to retort back, but couldn't think of a good enough response to that in return. "Whatever." She mumbled as she tightened the ribbons around the two front strands of light brown hair on either side of her face.
"Well, I'm pretty sure nothing will change much between the two of you, right? He might just have been curious like you have. It's only natural because the two of you are sitting next to each other, no?"
"Maybe." She hummed thoughtfully. "I'm probably over thinking things like usual."
"Probably." Kimiko laughed and slung her arm around Miki's shoulder. "When do you ever not over think?"
Miki soon joined her best friend in her laughter.
Yes, she was probably just over analyzing the situation. It was not as if a simple question could change anything between two strangers. She tried to tell herself that but there was a small voice in her head that couldn't help but think that little encounter was actually the start of something potentially big.
After all, everything had to start with something small before they grew bigger.