Sorry that I've taken the time I have to finish a chapter, but like I've mentioned before: I have it quite stressful currently, not only with school starting to pick up speed again but also with personal matters. It's been quite difficult to get into writing-mood, and it probably will be from now on, but I will try to write as much and often as possible, since you guys seem to be enjoying it so much. I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it myself. From now on I'll be trying to get one or two chapters out a week, but I can't promise anything.

With that over, let's start today's chapter.

"What am I doing here?" Hisao thinks for himself, lying on a bench in the main hall of the school a few minutes after the bells signaling lunch have rung. The reason for his current location is that it feels like the place least likely to encounter either Emi or the student council, both probably having some kind of interest in him; the former because he missed their morning run and instead sat on a hilltop, possibly asleep, and the latter because they seemed to want him to help them with work starting during their lunch period. Neither are things he, for the time being, feels like taking care of.

He watches as students come through the hall from different hallways before making their way towards the cafeteria. Not caring to greet any of the people he knows, Hisao just continues to lie on his bench, just watching the students pass him on their way to get their meal. Since he's not particularly hungry, the boy opts to not get anything from the cafeteria; he'd rather avoid anything that involves eating 'food' made there if possible.

After some time the boy recognizes the familiar figure of a certain artist in the crowd, walking in a far slower pace than anyone else. Sitting back up, he takes a few moments before standing up and starting to walk towards her. Although the crowd is thick he's able to slip through it, effectively making his way to his companion rather quickly.

"Hey, Rin," Hisao says as he walks up to the girl in question. Since they're standing on the side of the crowd no one's bumping into them, something the boy finds quite nice, having just pushed his way through it.

"Hello," Rin responds, seemingly as caring of her surroundings as usual; not at all.

"You going somewhere?" the boy asks, not being able to think of anything better. An entire night of thinking and it all ended with him deciding to take it as it comes.

"Maybe. Probably. Not sure where I'm going, though," she responds, her gaze drifting around for a bit until finally stopping on Hisao.

"I'm not hungry. Are you? Otherwise we could go to the art room or something, since I'm sort of trying to avoid some people," he says, thinking that while spending time alone in the main hall might not be too bad, having company and doing so would just feel strange. A nod is given from Rin and the boy takes the lead as the two start making their way to their destination.

The hallways are emptier than the main hall was, since everyone was heading there to get to the cafeteria. Getting to the art room takes no more than a few minutes, and Hisao feels lucky to not run into Emi, Misha or Shizune, not feeling like taking those conversations right now. The classroom is, as usually, empty. Rin walks and takes her usual place, looking out the window onto the school area outside, while the boy takes a quick look on the different works that have are still in the room.

"Couldn't sleep last night," the boy says as he walks around the classroom, looking at the works, mostly ones that are not finished and whose artists were to lazy to put them somewhere else. The girl doesn't appear to take notice at his words, but he might as well say whatever it is he's about to say, which he doesn't even have any idea of what it might be. Right now he's not going off of thoughts, but more so instinct. "I went to your hill."
"I don't think I own any hills. Or maybe I do and just don't know it. Do you think I own any hills?" Hisao decides to ignore her comment, since he doesn't know what he should answer it with. If his mouth is working he might as well use it.

"I saw a broken heart there." As he says it he walks up behind Rin, his gaze looking out the same window as hers. Outside, the wind is playing with the leaves on the ground, throwing them around in patterns no one should be able to predict. The girl doesn't show any reaction, but the little reaction she usually does show is from her face, so the possibility isn't ruled out by Hisao.

Grabbing the girl's shoulder, the boy can feel a tension in her, a tension he's not used to experiencing in her. She feels stiff, as if something had turned her into stone and all that was left was a statue resembling the Rin that used to be. "This is... Wrong. You're not supposed to be like this, Rin."

"I'm not going to ask you to tell me anything, all I'm doing is telling you that I'm going to stand by your side. If there's anything I can do, I want to help you." Hisao's words seem to relax Rin somewhat, but she doesn't let herself down into her usual carefree demeanor. Whatever it is that's causing her to feel this way, the boy feels as if there's any way for him to help her, then that's what he has to do.

"You can't help, I think. Because the problem is in my head and it's really weird and I don't really understand it so then I don't think I can make you understand." Having gotten that out of her seems to get rid of some more of the tension within the girl, who gets another step closer to her usual self. Both of their eyes are directed out the window as they watch the happenings; the wind blowing around the leaves, the few animals that find anything to do out there and the rare student that's going somewhere.

"Would it be easier if I wasn't here?" Hisao asks, still holding Rin's shoulder in his hand and looking out the window. Seemingly going into deep thought, the girl takes some time before turning her face just enough to be able to look at her companion from the corner of her eye.

"Don't think so. Don't feel like trying." Her way of saying 'I'd prefer it if you didn't leave,' the boy takes it as. It's nice to know that he might actually be of some comfort to the girl, even if she doesn't tell him what the problem might be. As long as he can keep his promise to stay with her, that makes him happy, or at least something in that manner. They just stand there, he looking out the window and she observing him from the corner of her eye as time passes.

"Hisao?" Rin asks the boy holding her shoulder after what must have been at least a couple of minutes. By now she's turned her gaze back to the outside, analyzing every little change intensely, the boy doing the same thing. Slightly startled by the girl starting off some kind of conversation through the use of his name, Hisao takes a few moments before realizing that he's supposed to answer.

"Yeah?" As he responds he takes a small step forward to position himself next to her instead of diagonally behind her. Even standing next to her he keeps his hand on her shoulder, as if letting go would cause her to stop existing. Turning to her, the boy sees that her gaze is still stuck on the outside, although she doesn't seem to have focus on anything; something that usually means that she's thinking.

"Are you happy?" The question paralyzes Hisao, having not expected such a question coming from the girl now turning to him. Finally getting a good look at Rin's face, he sees that it's turned downwards, her eyes looking upwards at his, as if she was afraid of something. This face doesn't fit her at all.

"Right now?" he asks, not being able to think of a better way to continue. 'Are you happy?' A question that could be interpreted in so many ways, but he assumes that the redheaded girl would mean at this moment if she asked the question, and a nod from the girl shows him that his assumption is correct. A few moments pass as he tries to slow down all thoughts running through his head, trying to turn it into something coherent. "Yes, I am happy. I'm happy right now, being here with you."

Rin looks away after hearing Hisao's words, as if they somehow made her feel awkward. The idea seems foreign to the boy, so he guesses that the gesture means something else when coming from her, but he can't think of what that something else could be. Realizing that he probably won't be able to figure it out, he decides to not ponder on it any more, and instead opts to stay in reality without trying to think of anything.

Hisao doesn't notice as the hand not currently placed on Rin's shoulder is raised by him and slowly heading towards the girl's face. Starting to trace her face with his fingers is not a planned act, and he's as surprised at doing it as basically anyone else would be at the act itself. To the girl in question, however, it just seems to bring her focus back onto the boy himself. As if to give him an ease in his act she heightens her face slightly, almost getting her eyes up to the same level as the boy's.

Although it wasn't started as a conscious act, Hisao decides to continue tracing Rin's face like he did with the painting during the night. The difference, of course, being that Rin is a far superior artwork when compared to the piece he traced during the nighttime, and that's the opinion of a boy who's quite fond of the painting in question. His fingers slowly moving across her face, their eyes locked onto the others, they just stand there in front of the window as time flows on.

"What am I doing? Didn't I tell myself to just be a friend, to stand beside her and support her? This isn't what I'd normally do with a friend... But I have to." The thoughts running through Hisao's mind tells him about the choices he's made, and how even now he can't follow them. A desire, a need, to just have contact with the girl standing by him is filling him, and he believes that even if he tried to he wouldn't be able to let his hand away from her.

Suddenly the bells signaling that classes will start in just a few minutes ring, taking the boy out of his trance-like state. While he does not stop caressing the girl's face, he does give her a questioning look, hoping that he's getting his message across. Of course, he wouldn't mind staying there like that for some more time, but he's had quite a bit of missed classes in the last week, and he doesn't feel like increasing that amount. After some time the girl gives a small nod, presumably signaling that she's ready to leave for their classrooms.

As Hisao takes both of his hands off of Rin the two starts heading out of the art room and towards the hallway where both of their classrooms can be found. Although the hallways are quite crowded, as they usually are just just after any ringing of the bells, the two are able to keep walking next to each other without much difficulty. Taking a look at the redheaded girl, the boy notices that whatever was bothering her in the art room seems to be gone entirely now. A slight happiness makes its way around his mind at the idea of him having done that and a small smile comes to his lips.

It doesn't take long to get to the hallway they were heading for, despite the crowd, and as they stand between the doors to their classrooms their eyes lock onto each others, standing there in their own complete silence despite being surrounded by the hurried steps of students thinking they're about to be late. It's as if the two are in their own separate reality, despite standing right next to the others passing by and into their own classes.

"See you later, then," Hisao says after a few moments that together felt like an eternity. A deep breath is taken by him as he continues to look into the eyes of his female companion.

"See you," Rin responds and continues to look into the boy's eyes for another few moments before finally turning around and walking into her own classroom. It doesn't take long before the boy does the same, taking a seat just in time before the bells signaling the start of class ring and their teacher appears through the doorway just a few seconds late.