shades of grey

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Nothing happens today. Nothing special anyways. But, there's a moment where Houtarou feels his heart stir.

Houtarou Oreki wakes up at ten AM on a Sunday. He groans, his alarm's loud blaring and he debates if he really needs to be up. He really doesn't want to be up this early, he would rather sleep in then spent his day reading the daily newspaper, watching TV or reading a good book. But, he's already agreed to it and he can't back out now. No point crying over spilled milk.

He jumps into the shower, hoping the feeling of warm water rushing down his body would snap him out of his sleepiness. He washes his hair with his sister's shampoo since his is empty – it smells sickeningly sweet and he almost regrets it but it's too late anyways. He'll just have to put up with the fact that he smells similarly to strawberry and vanilla ice-cream.

He then towels it quick, combs it straight, then walked out of the house.

Houtarou leaves it dripping wet as he walks out of the door, believing he can save energy if he just leaves the summer air to do its job. The sun is nature's towel. After all, he has all the time in the world, he's not doing much today. He's only going to meet Eru Chitanda since she's oh-so curious about a certain mystery.

Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately) Satoshi Fukube and Mayaka Ibara are busy and Houtarou is only left to deal with one member of the Classic Literature Club. Houtarou spends twenty minutes with her at the small diner where they eat hamburgers and fries, and, drink Coke from cheap plastic cups that's always sweating.

Eru is busy writing her theory on their latest unknown case. Her head's down, hand jolting down words that link and make sense.

He let his mind merge with fantasies and unknown imaginations as Eru writes away, checking on errors and concluding the final parts of her assumption. For a second, he wonders if he was a familiar sight to Eru. Has she noticed how he touches his bangs when he's about to put together an answer? How he shakes his leg when he's impatient?

Houtarou subconsciously finds himself staring at Eru's dark hair. Eru usually wore it down but there were times where she would play with it, pulling it up her head and fluffing it out and letting the rest fall down her back or she would braid it into complex twist and questionable patterns.

God, he sounds so sappy.

Houtarou leans back in his seat and watches the people outside the diner drive away, either idle in their seats or honking away like it was a competition. Cheek in his palm and relaxed, he closes his eyes as the natural light beamed through the window, dreamed and dazed with the warmth of the sun on his skin.

Minutes pass, he isn't sure how long but he must have dozed off because he jolts awake when he hears Eru call out his name. "Oreki-san. Oreki-san."

He snaps his eyes open and blinks away the sleepiness. "Hmm?"

Sunbeams drenches Eru in a new light and Houtarou doesn't know why but his drowsiness fades. He stares into her eyes, they now stone bright like a polished Amethyst jewel and melts something deep within his core. He feels his jaw slacken.

Houtarou Oreki has always noticed. He knows Eru Chitanda is pretty with her straight tar black hair, loud eyes and a button nose. But now … she looks stunning beautiful.

In truth, there were times when his eyes did wonder to her. It wasn't anything odd – Eru didn't seem to mind. He'd usually quickly look away or she'd catch him sometimes and give him a gentle smile. It was no big deal but Houtarou doesn't think he can look away this time.

"Are you okay?" She asks.

He finds himself answering her, "I'm okay,"

"I'm almost done," Eru tells him. "I have a lot to say on this,"

Houtarou bobs his head in response.

They fall back into silence. But Houtarou feels like he wants this moment to last forever. It's a pure, rare moment. Content, that's what he's feeling. Just being near her, drinking up their comfortable silence is enough for him.

"So," She speaks up, purple eyes sparkling. "What do you think, Oreki-san?" Eru asks, sliding the paper towards him.

She watches Houtarou crack his knuckles – remembering when her father told her it'd give her arthritis – before he flexes out his fingers as if he's ready to play the piano.

Houtarou reads her theory in silence. His asparagus green eyes widen a little, showing her that he's actual impressed by her speculation before he picks up a pen and began circling the analysis that he thinks is most logical.

"It's plausible." He tells her.

Eru gives him a smile in return for his compliment. It seemed cheerier than usual. He blinks at her and her grin widens. Pretty. She really is pretty.

"Anyway," Houtarou clears his throat, hiding the blush on his cheeks. "I guess I'll just … write my half of the theory now."

"Yes," She says and leans closer so she can see him write his thoughts down.

Houtarou doesn't flinch from her lack of personal space. He's gotten use to her need to be close to him when she expects something.

Eru makes a small sniffing sound and comments, "You smell sweet today,"

"Oh …" He pretends he's not flustered. "You noticed, Chitanda?" Houtarou asks.

"I always notice." Eru rests her chin in her small hands. "You're a very interesting person, Oreki-san."

Houtarou glances away, not sure what to say. "Flattery won't get you anywhere."

She gives him an airy laugh and lifts a shoulder to tell him his statement was a fair one. "But I got you to blush." Is she … teasing him?

Houtarou frowns and mirror's Eru's previous action. He moves closer to her, face inches away from hers. This surprises her and he says, "So are you,"

"Eh?" Eru pats her red cheeks.

A smile crawls up his face, he shakes his head and shoos the teasing away. He places the pen back on the paper and taps it. "Shall we solve this mystery?"

Eru fights down the laughter bubbling in her throat. "Lets."

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end

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Notes

Hyouka is one of my favs that I love love love and would be my top three suggested animes if anyone wants to give anime a go. It's slow paced and usually not much happens so I thought a constant moment would be something yet also nothing. It's small but not insignificant either.

3 April 2017