The hard-covered book shook imbalanced in the small hand before being steadied against the door frame's side. The slim built individual beneath the book's bottom cover drew themselves to their full height, shoulders aligned, head straight and facing forward. The hand which was not busy with anything else held a pencil in its fingers, which used the writing utensil to leave a mark just beside said book's underside cover.
Once this simple task was complete, the person jumped aside in excitement, comparing the freshly made mark with all the dozens of others (visible only from very close proximity with the frame of the door) pen and pencil scratches.
The animated glee on the youthful face disappeared with the speed of a flushed toilet though, when after a quick juxtaposition it was easy to detect that there was barely any growth, if not even some indiscernible regress.
Kyo heaved a sigh that felt like lifting a ton of bricks. She crossed the room in a couple of strides and threw herself on her bed, dejected aura enveloping her entire being.
She had been playing basketball for years and yet she had hardly grown over the time. This had never before bothered her because she believed she looked decent enough already and she'd never put much thought to it.
Then she'd fallen for a boy almost two feet taller than her and now that they were going out like a normal couple she was painfully aware of the fact she hardly reached up to his chest.
You'd be surprised at the wonders this kind of realization did for the self-esteem and comfort within one's skin.
Kyo's height complexes had gone so far out of hand that she had in fact even taken drastic measures against them.
Said measures came in the form of a plastic bottle with the label "Wada Calcium CD3" written on it.
Basically, it was a harmless medicine that should aid growth. It was all well, taking it even without a doctor's prescription, because it wasn't really much of a medication, and it even made her feel a bit more healthy.
What it did not do, however, was make her any taller.
The girl sighed again in despair, throwing the bottle over her shoulder on the pillows behind her, then cupping her face in her palms, the elbows of her arms resting on her knees. Was she ever going to break even 160 centimeters? The future of her frame's height looked very grim if she looked at the tendency in her growth pattern…
Any bystander would've been appalled at the amount of depressive energy that oozed from her slouched frame and the easily read disappointment in her face. It was therefore doubly miraculous how quickly—at the bat of an eyelash—it disappeared the moment the doorbell rang.
A goofy grin had taken over the girl's face instead and she leapt to her feet, skipping towards the door at once with a prance to her step as well.
It was only understandable though; her boyfriend had promised her to come over and help her study for her make-up exams a few weeks away and she seized every opportunity to spend more time with him since they had stopped living together in the men's dorm of Seisyu.
"Welcome, Chiharu!" she chirped, wide smile beaming brightly at the boy beyond the door upon opening it. She received a reserved look from her—obvious to anyone but her—blushing boyfriend and a much less ecstatic greeting in return. She didn't even notice through the stars sparkling in her eyes though. "Come in, come in, make yourself at home while I go get some snacks—for mental strength and all."
She then laughed raucously while the boy took his sneakers off at the entrance, murmuring a silent "Sorry for the intrusion" to no one in particular.
He was more than a little nervous at this impromptu visit of his, wondering why he had even agreed to it in the first place. Especially after he'd learnt that it would be only the two of them in the entire apartment, with Himejima and her folks out of town and Kyo's father God knows where.
The fact his lively imagination and easily side-tracked mind provided enough mental images of what else they could do with their time besides studying with a whole house all to themselves did not help him any either.
His discomfort with the predicament made his movements stiff and had him feeling like he was walking on thorns towards an excruciating death while he walked the length of Kyo's room to sit on the soft mattress of her bed. His mind was racing and he could practically hear his sanity slipping and he was aware that it was unnatural having such a strong reaction to something as ordinarily as spending some time tutoring someone with whom he'd lived almost a year together… but things were different now and just why wouldn't his consciousness give him a break from constantly reminding him how exactly things had changed in such a short time?
Chiharu decided then that he needed a diversion and thought that since he was there he might as well see what a girl's—his girl's—room looked like when not staging as a guy and not having any outside male influences.
He came to a conclusion that it had probably been quite easy for her to pretend to be a male because he didn't see much changes in her orderliness—or rather lack of such—or personal possessions pattern. He found that oddly comforting—being aware that Kyo was still Kyo even after she'd stopped putting a front—and that was all it took to make him relax back on her cozy bed spread while waiting for her return.
When his back rested against the pillows though, he felt something large and rather solid dig into his shoulder blade in a rather nasty way. Intrigued, he got up and fished for it, mildly taken aback when his hand procured a small bottle.
"Wada Calcium…?" he read aloud, his brow quirking as he read the writing on the label.
"Sorry for taking so long—couldn't find anything else to drink so I got some water instea—" Kyo's grinning expression melted into one of sheer horror and it was only with trained mental strength that she managed to set the tray on her desk before snatching the pill bottle from the puzzled Chiharu's hands faster than the eye could follow. "Where did you get that?" the girl all but screeched, sweating bullets and hiding the miscreant of a medicine behind her back as though she wasn't aware it was futile.
Her significant other only raised an eye brow even further at her amusing reaction.
"It was on your bed," he shrugged. His lack of understanding for her actions had already given room to his interest as to why his girlfriend had those pills in the first place. "What's that medicine for?"
"None of your business!" she snapped in the same high pitched voice as a moment ago, her edginess having not diminished even a tiny bit.
Under ordinary circumstances, such a bitchy replying attitude would've made Chiharu's temper flare but for once he was too caught up in other thoughts to be bothered with retaliating.
"Is it a growth inducer?"
It didn't take a genius to read the answer on the girl's animated face. In turn, she felt like an arrow shot through her heart when her boyfriend's guess hit the bull's eye.
"Why are you taking a growth inducer?" his forehead wrinkled in confusion and his attempt to fathom her possible reasons. Kyo flushed bright red—with embarrassment, indignation or a mix of both she wasn't capable of telling even herself in her distraught state—and gripped the bottle tighter in her hand.
"I don't want to have this conversation, least of all with you!" If all her other comments and tone had failed to make him snap, this one succeeded and quite well at that.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" he bit right back, jumping to his feet to glare heatedly down at her as well.
"It means that I'm not obligated to give you any explanations!" the blushing girl yelled back, her gaze only acquiring more edge the further into the argument they got.
"We're dating and I think it's normal that I worry for your health!" She suddenly felt like she could make a little jump at what he said—despite the tone he said it with—because he rarely ever voiced such things aloud, like being concerned for her well-being and acting like a normal boy would act towards his girlfriend. "For all I know you might mess up the dose and harm yourself!"
The temperature in the room rocketed once again when Kyo's temper roared ablaze again as well.
"I might look very stupid to you but I can read well enough to know what the instructions say, thank you very much!"
"Why are you taking those pills? It's not as if you ever needed them before!"
A pang of flitting pain shot through Kyo's chest, stifling the words back in her throat before she could fling them at her significant other. It's your fault I even thought about taking them, you moron!
"I told you I don't want to discus this with you! If you're so bent on finding a reason, take it for a fact that I just feel like taking them, okay?" The expression on his face was enough of a 'no, not okay' even for someone as dense as the Aizawa daughter.
"Don't I get a say in it?"
The incredulous look that crossed her features spoke for itself even before she retorted.
"Why should you? It's my business what I do with my life and you said it yourself—as long as I don't endanger my health, it doesn't matter what I do with myself. So just lay off it already!"
She was close to tears by now. How was it that they always ended up arguing? It wasn't as though she wanted to always have these misunderstandings between them… She was sick of the easiness with which both their tempers flared. She was sick of their twisted way of communication. She was sick of being ashamed of something, too ashamed to even talk to her closest person in the whole world with.
"I should get a say because I'm the one who spends most time with you. And as such, I say your height is just fine the way it is!"
Now this made her pause. She looked at him oddly, the flush draining from her cheeks, a puzzled expression taking over her face instead.
"It… it is?" He didn't mind that she barely reached his chest? He didn't mind how tiny she was? Really? Why didn't he mind? She probably would, if she was him.
Sub-consciously sensing the drop in the heatedness of the argument, Chiharu laid off a bit on his defensiveness as well.
"You aren't even of age yet—you shouldn't take stuff like that," he pointed at the bottle now held slackly in her hand's grip, "because it could mess with your metabolism and who knows what else. Besides, where did you get the idea you just have to get taller? Being as tall as you are is part of your personal charm, Shorty."
His jab at her with that old nickname was not appreciated but he didn't seem to pay that any heed.
"I like you just the way you are, Kyo."
So he said with a perfectly straight face and all activity in her body seemed to cease at once, save for her heart which hammered relentlessly fast against her ribcage. Such confessions were so rare an occurrence that she couldn't help but treasure them dearly.
When she kept silent for so long he finally realized just what he'd said and blushed bashfully, feeling distinctly misplaced under her blank-eyed scrutiny.
Before he could say anything to ruin the moment though his girlfriend wrapped her arms lightly around his torso, forehead resting on his chest as she did so.
At first it felt very uncomfortable—she was so close, close, too close—and just frankly asphyxiating but then he decided to let it go and relaxed in her slight embrace, putting a gentle hand on her head as she held onto him wordlessly.
It was exactly for this fact that he didn't care for her growing any further. She was so tiny compared to him and yet she fit so snugly with his broader and taller frame. And, besides, it wasn't as though she was short—he had never thought of her as such ever after finding out she was a girl. Despite her build, she was very much petite in his eyes and quite charismatic the way she was.
Why would she want to change that?
Chiharu felt the girl pressed against him stir from her trance but didn't get to react in any way before she pulled herself to her tip toes, using his waist as leverage, and planting a sweet little kiss on the underside of his jaw, just beneath where his earlobe connected with his neck; it was as far as she could reach on her own.
The boy flushed bright red at the display of affection, not used to such outright boldness on his loved one's side, when she pulled away with a smile, her own face a matching shade.
"Thank you, Chiharu," she said, smiling so brightly she could put the sun's revitalizing rays to shame, and then turning around to go do something he did not hear, while he was still standing in the middle of the room, rooted to the spot.
It was priceless little moments like this that made him happy she'd faked being a guy to join Seisyu.
Because he couldn't imagine his life without her anymore.
Author's Rant: The title is intentionally made this way. It's because of Kyo's current height complex that those are the two words I put in it and in the spirit of the collocation "complex issues" that I jumbled the proper order of them.
Would love to hear what you thought about this ficlet. :)