The Stranger – by preety-lady-serenity

Disclaimer: Aya Nakahara owns them all. So I must be a usurper.

The tall girl smiled brightly as she placed the round hard candy into his palm. He looked at her feeling puzzled as she stood there, wearing his shoes.

"It's a birthday present!" she explained, "Everyone should get presents on their birthdays!"

"Thank you," he mumbled looking at the swirly candy.

That girl was so strange. What had possessed her to act so nicely around him? She hardly knew him. And yet she had shouted to Umibozu that he was celebrating his birthday that evening causing the crowd to wish him for the occasion.

"Ah! I got to go!" she said in realization and she vanished into the crowd as strangely as she had appeared.

He looked around trying to find her but there was no trace of her. He turned to his heels and started walking home.

The cool soil numbed the soles of his feet and he kept staring at the candy that felt warm in his hand. He unwrapped the sweet and placed it into his mouth. The sweetness of the strawberry and cream brought tears into his eyes.

He snorted and rubbed them away but it seemed that the tears would not stop. Somehow the sweet taste had caused all the hurt and frustration of the last two weeks to leak out.

He sat down at a bench to calm himself down. He had worked so hard during his exams, trying to make Kanzaki feel proud of him and yet she had dumped him anyway.

He had not been an idiot nor was he an ignorant as Nakao had accused him of being. On the contrary he had watched her slowly becoming distant but he had tried to convince himself that this was the effect of her exams' jitters.

Still it hurt. It hurt that she so easily admitted to like someone else. It was as if she had slapped him hard across the face. It was the same feeling of humiliation, or he could say it was even worse as her current love interest was that gigantic kid.

He should have expected that. After all who would want a short person like him for a boyfriend? It was totally uncool to see him. He looked like an elementary school kid without his school uniform. It was no surprise that she had left him for someone taller.

He bit the candy making it break in small pieces. That night at the Umibozu concert, when that girl had approached him, he had wanted to crawl into a hole and die. Yet she had somehow managed to make him feel better about himself.

Especially at the moment where he had saved her from the crowd. He suddenly did not feel so small or as unimportant. He was that girl's hero. If she had not saved her then she could have died from asphyxiation.

It did not dawn him at the beginning because he had merely helping but as she chattered happily around him it somehow became more important. She, somehow, became important.

Atsushi Otani felt his cheeks redden and shook his head. No, it could not be! He could have not developed a sudden crush towards that mysterious girl! She barely knew her! Plus she wasn't his type.

A girl had to be short, delicate and soft spoken, not a loud, tall – very tall – amazon.

"I'm turning mad," he thought and ruffled his hear.

He gulped the remains of the sweet caramel down and resumed his way home.