Mile leaned against a wall in the corridor, watching the kids running by. It was free time, and the first sunny day in over a week, so they were all rushing outside.
All of them except one.
Mile could see him from here. Not that she was staring, or anything. And it wasn't that she liked him like that. No...she just...liked him. But not like that.
She smoothed out her shirt and stared at her feet, listening to the kids hurrying by. Then she caught a familiar voice mixed in with the others. It was Linda. Her best friend, Linda. Linda was one of the nicest kids in Wammy's House. She was sure of that.
"Hey Mile" Linda stopped in front of her. Jay was with her, a large kid in glasses. Mile didn't like him, he had too much of a tendency to be mean.
"Hi Linda" Mile said, looking up at her.
"Are you coming outside with us, or what?" Linda asked, smiling happily.
"Er...no...I...I think I'll stay here."
Linda studied her face, and Mile felt her face going red. She tried looking away, but knowing Linda, she probably understood anyways.
And she did. Without a word, she walked away, toward the room where he was sitting, doing a puzzle. Jay followed, looking impatient.
Oh no! What's she trying to do?! Mile panicked in her head.Linda should know how she hated things like this. Don't ask him...don't ask him... She chanted to herself. But she knew she would. Her and Linda knew each other very well by now. Too well, sometimes. Then she heard Linda calling out. Oh great...here we go...
"Hey Near!" She called, sweetly "Why don't you come outside for once?" Mile felt her face go red again, and she looked down. This was not at all what she had wanted Linda to do.
"No thank you" Came his steady voice.
"Forget him, Linda" Jay said, sneering. Linda looked back at Mile and locked eyes with her, looking apologetic. Then she shrugged, turned, and allowed Jay to push her outside.
But Mile had forgotten about feeling embarrassed. She even forgot about being angry with Linda. Jay's comment erased all that, and replaced it with an internal argument. Forget him, Linda. How could he say that? Forget Near, Linda. How could anyone do that, anyways? Forget....No!....Forget...That was ridiculous!...
Mile put the tip of her finger in her mouth and stared at the wall across from her without seeing it. She couldn't forget Near. Never! Wait, wait, wait. This is getting stupid. Why should she care so much about a comment Jay made, when she didn't even like Near, like that!
Unless, of course, she did.
No, no, no!
That wasn't possible! That would be...wrong! She couldn't like Near. How silly! That would get her nowhere. That would give her pain. She knew it would! Ridiculous to even think that she liked Near...like that. Her head told her that she didn't, that she couldn't, that it was a ridiculous thought.
But her heart knew better.
Well, you do have a bit of a fascination with him. It reminded her. No...no she didn't! What was she saying? Stupid heart. Shut up. But we all know hearts never do that. Especially if they know better. They simply ignored your head and your mouth and kept arguing.
You know you do, Mile. Now do something about it. After all, if you didn't, you wouldn't have gotten so mad at Jay's comment.
No, no she certainly would have! It was rude, however you looked at it!
You even stayed inside to watch him do puzzles.
Fine! So her heart was right, and it won out at last. Stupid thing. It must've wanted to get hurt. However, she knew it was right, and she knew how stubborn it was. All the same, she was glad she had it to tell her when she was being an idiot.
Forget him, Linda.
Anger surged through her once again. He treated Near as if he had no feelings! Like he couldn't even hear his rude voice! He wasn't a doll! He was a person! A wonderful person! A great person! An amazing person! A...
She stopped mid-thought. All of a sudden, she felt suppressed feelings storm through her like water that had been held back by a dam. She knew it was true now, there was no doubt, and no way to suppress it anymore. Going beyond like...She loved Near. She really loved him.
She took a deep breath, feeling the air flow into her newly feeling-filled chest. Then she walked over to the room where Near was. She couldn't keep this locked up any longer. She had to do something about it. He didn't look up as she walked in. He didn't even look up when she was standing right by him. For a moment, she was worried he'd ignore her, but when she sat down, he finally looked up.
She couldn't help smiling at the look on his face. He looked slightly surprised, but not completely surprised, as if he were trying to keep his emotions to himself. Mile knew he wasn't used to people coming up to him like this. They usually either ignored him, like Jay, or said something like Linda then walked away, not thinking about him too hard.
"Hi" Mile said timidly. "Can I sit here?"
"Okay" Near nodded stiffly, and turned back to his puzzle. She betted he definitely wasn't used to people asking him that. She watched Near clicking the pieces together, one after the other, keeping up a pace like a clock.
Clack, clack, clack.
He did it perfectly in time, even though the puzzle was blank, and had a lot of pieces.
Near broke the perfect time, looking to the left for the next piece, but Mile saw it next to her right hand. She picked it up and held it out, so that he saw it when he turned around again.
"...Thank you" he said, taking the piece from her hand. He quickly resumed the putting together of pieces, as if the time had never been broken. Mile watched him do it. She felt transfixed. Her thoughts didn't wander to outside, where the kids were playing, or anywhere else. They just stayed stuck on Near, like a cloud without a breath of wind to push it along. Nothing made her want to look away, or do anything else. There was no wind at all to make her mind move away from Near.
But Near broke her trance with his voice.
"Why are you here?" He asked, without breaking the clack of puzzle pieces.
"Huh?" Mile struggled to come back to earth. "Oh, um..." She felt stupid. Why was she here? He had asked the question she couldn't answer herself. She was probably in his way, anyways.
"Do you...want me to leave?" Mile asked carefully. She was offering to do the thing she wanted to do the least of all. She held her breath as she waited for Near's response. She was so sure he'd send her away.
Near looked up, pausing his clacking of puzzle pieces, and stared at her blankly for a moment. Mile felt her face go red. She really hated when that happened.
"No." Near said simply.
"I like your company." Near said. A light pink blush spread across his cheeks. Mile was so surprised she felt he mouth fall open a little. He...blushed! For her!
"I...I like your company, too, Near" Mile said softly. "I guess that's why I'm here." Nothing like understating things, she added in her head.
Near smiled at her, as if he read her thoughts. The smile he gave her wasn't like one she'd ever seen before. It was the cutest thing! She couldn't help but smile too.
Near turned back to his puzzle. Mile watched him put it together, handing him a piece every now and then, until he turned with another question.
"It was so nice of you" he said.
"Hmm?" Mile looked at him, but he kept his eyes on his puzzle this time.
"I mean...sitting with me all afternoon. Aren't you bored?"
"No." Mile found the answer springing out of her mouth. It was so obvious in her mind, that it seemed a silly question. "Of course not."
"Most people just leave after I say I won't come outside...If they bother to ask at all."
"Oh...Well, this is one of the best afternoons I've ever had." Mile felt the words run out of her mouth, like the kids running out the door earlier, and she didn't get a chance to stop them. Why the heck was she being so honest today?
"Really?" Near seemed surprised. He stopped clacking together the puzzle to look up at her.
"Definitely top five." Have I lost the power to hold back altogether now? She added to herself.
"Thank you" he said. He quickly looked down at his puzzle again, to hide the light pink blush that had spread over his cheeks, but Mile just caught it before he looked away.
Mile turned red again herself, wondering why Near could possibly be turning pink over her. She looked out the window for the first time all afternoon. She saw Mid, Mello's number one admirer these days. Mello was holding her bridal style, and she was holding her nose. Mile smiled to herself...she always liked Mid, and she could tell how much she loved Mello.
"You have a pretty smile." Near said. She hadn't even noticed Near was looking at her.
"I...What? Why?" Mile said, sounding alarmed and turning red once again. Mile didn't accept compliments nearly as often as she thought there was a catch to them.
"I said you have a pretty smile." he said, taking her questions literally. "Because it looks...sweet." He turned pink but he didn't look down this time, he looked Mile in the eye.
"Oh...thanks..." Mile looked back at him, and they looked at each other. Mile didn't know how long it was they looked at each other. But she jumped pretty far when she heard the front doors opening again and kids running back inside. "Oh...It's almost time to leave again" Mile felt disappointment, and although she tried, she couldn't keep it out of her voice. Near didn't miss it either.
"You could...sit with me again tomorrow" he said carefully.
"Really?" Mile felt happiness warm her up inside. Near nodded. This was crazy!
"See you tomorrow then" Mile said, smiling hugely.
"See you tomorrow" Near replied.
Mile stood up, her legs slightly shaky from sitting down so long and from Near's sudden liking of her. She walked from the room, already longing for tomorrow afternoon, thinking of Near's cute pink blush.