The bell was going to ring in fifteen minutes.
Takahashi Rina hurried as fast as she could through the hallway, wishing her classroom was closer to the library. Oh, why couldn't lunch break be longer? She should have told her friends right away that she had plans, but they were so eager to hear her opinions on the latest romance movie and she couldn't resist their playful cajoling.
Her feet slowed down as she reached the library. She stepped into the large room with familiar ease, immediately taking in the comforting smell of books and wooden furniture with a light smile.
When she graduated in the coming spring, she would miss this library dearly: its musty and nostalgic aroma, the somber quietness between the shelves of old books…
Giggles littered the air. A few breathy squeals and a not-so-subtle, "He's so cool!" followed shortly.
Rina glanced at the right-hand corner and found the source of the noise at one of the group study tables, not surprised to find a cluster of girls. The librarian was having lunch in the office, which explained why they weren't being hushed or kicked out. She followed the girls' gaze and nearly froze upon seeing the Asaba twins sitting at the farthest table.
Much to her relief, she did not turn around and flee the library, though her feet did falter. Instead Rina continued walking towards the foreign literature shelves, praying Yuuta didn't see her awkward stumble.
Incidentally, the foreign novels happened to be located in the complete opposite direction of where he was sitting. But she was not running away. And she most certainly was not hiding behind the last bookshelf, fanning her fire engine-red cheeks as her heart pumped blood too fast under her pale skin.
Stop it, she ordered herself sternly. Yuuta and his brother had as much right to be in the library during lunch as anybody else did. It was unusual but not impossible. And her one-sided crush wasn't doing anybody any good, least of all herself.
Skimming the rows of books with a practiced finger, Rina quickly plucked out a well-known novel and opened it. Carefully flipping the pages yellowed with age she began to read from the very beginning, enjoying the delicious thrill of diving into a whole new world just from the first few sentences. She'd actually read this book twice before, the first time in middle school and the second time last year during the summer. It was a book where, no matter how many times she read it there was always a new discovery waiting to be found.
Recently she didn't have much time for pleasure reading because of third year exams, but she had a long list of books she was going to read after graduating. It was supposed to be her reward because she would be off books for so long, but this morning she suddenly had the uncontrollable desire to read this particular novel… and the rest was history, so to say.
Absorbed in reading, it took her a long moment to realize she was not alone. She glanced up and did a double take.
Yuuta was ambling slowly but surely towards her, perusing the shelves with a casual hand in his pocket.
Her face turned warm. Immediately she felt a stab of self-reproach. They held hands during the folk dance, hadn't they? He just happened to be in the same aisle as her. She had no business getting excited just from his mere proximity. It was enough that he treated her as kindly as he did everybody else.
Her hands had begun to clench the book without her knowing. She forced herself to relax.
Soon he was standing two feet away from her. She wondered if he wanted her to move, but before she could step back to let him pass, Yuuta began to walk around her. He didn't hurry. She stared at her book unseeingly, thinking she was imagining his eyes on her as circled her like a shark—No. That was Yuuki, she reminded herself. Yuuta was the nicer twin after all. Most likely her mind was jumping to conclusions when he was only trying to find his book with as much polite distance from her as—
"Excuse me," he murmured straight into her ear, reaching over her shoulder to select a book from the shelf. He gave no indication that he heard her strange squeaking noise.
Rina thought she had a heart attack when his arm grazed her. What was he doing to her? He probably had no idea how much he… She took a few steps away, calling herself all kinds of stupid and desperately trying to get back into her novel. Lunch was going to end any minute now and she'd almost wasted the rest of it by deluding herself into thinking Yuuta was flirting with her.
"Is that a good book?"
For a second she didn't think he was talking to her. "Oh, yes!" she replied, looking anywhere but at him. "It's… one of my favorites." He was closing the distance between them again.
"Mm. Can I see?"
She blinked. "Yes, of course." She held it out for him to take, but he chose to stand at her elbow and bent slightly to look at the cover of the book. "It's translated," she babbled, refusing to let his nearness reduce her to a silent mouse. "I read it back in middle school because my mom recommended it—she likes books too, probably more than me. Sometimes we even buy the same books." She chuckled nervously and then shut her mouth, embarrassed.
He was looking at her steadily. His height wasn't intimidating, but it only reminded her that they were a guy and a girl standing in an isolated part of the library. Well, Yuuta was a gentleman so there was nothing to worry about in that department.
"You looked cute during the sports festival," he suddenly remarked. "When you were cheering."
She blushed. "O-oh. Thank you." Then she added hurriedly, "Your brother looked cool… when he was cheering too."
Their eyes met and they smiled.
The bell rang, signaling the end of lunch. She went to replace her book in the shelf, but Yuuta said quietly, "Wait." She paused. He grasped her wrist and took the novel with his other hand. "If you're not going to check it out, I'd like to," he explained.
"Oh, okay," she said, dazed. He let go of her.
"Okay," he echoed.
Rina followed him out of the shelves and ducked away so that nobody would see them coming out together. She needed to go to class before her friends wondered if she was drowning in books or something. If she noticed the younger Asaba twin staring at her as she hurried out of the library, she wasn't surprised.
Her friends were still discussing movies when she returned. They glanced at her as she sat down.
"Hey Takahashi. Did you get enough reading done?"
"No, I didn't," she replied happily.
A/N: Because Yuuki called Yuuta a pervert ('변태' in the Korean translation) after blushing at Takahashi's cheer girl! outfit.