"Hino." Len greeted as he saw her standing by the door of her former hospital room, a discernable look on her face. He didn't know if she should be worried or not because she looked like she was thinking about something displeasing.
She turned to face him and for a short while looked so deep in thought that Len unconsciously stopped walking altogether so as not to disturb her.
And then she smiled.
"Tsukimori-kun." She said her teeth now showing because of how wide she was smiling, "Why're you here?"
"I came to help you move back to your house." He said as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
Not that they could be considered normal anymore. But he had to try and keep things normal between the two of them because if he didn't he'd surely get caught in her pace and he didn't want that. He knew that he owed her some huge debt, something that he probably couldn't repay by just these simple acts.
He had already met her mother at the lobby, the woman was handling Hino's release papers and he had already handed her the cake he had bought from the nearby shop under his mother's orders. The woman was grateful and gave him that smile that so reminded him of this girl in front of him.
"But oh, Len-san, will you please fetch Kahoko? I think she went to get something back up in her room." She had said before turning back to the window that was occupied by a young woman in a nurse's outfit.
"Oh." He was broken out of his thoughts by the one person who kept on occupying them for the past few weeks, "Thank you then!" She said, the corners of her mouth turning up and some strange emotion welled up inside him and the only thing he could think of was the guilt.
Hino would probably never smile again in the presence of music and in Seiso avoiding that one thing, would surely be impossible. The rumors were to be of no help either but they weren't that bad. They were mostly about him and that really didn't matter, his reputation in school was of no consequence to himself.
Everybody was already talking of course.
It would only be natural after such a huge incident occurring on school grounds.
They had been asking different questions everyday. Who was that man? How did he manage to slip in Seiso's tight security? Why did he go after Tsukimori Len? And the question that bothered even him until now, why did Hino Kahoko protect him?
Kahoko was a talented musician. Despite the decline that her skills had undergone strangely during the concours, Len knew that talent like hers only came once in a century. Learning the violin only after a few months and without proper instruction was about as easy as giving birth.
She had a bright future ahead of her and now, that future was rotting inside this hospital room along with a bunch of other dreams that she may no longer pursue.
"Let's go." He said, turning so quickly so as to hide the guilt that was masking his face. He didn't want her to see, he didn't know why though but he just couldn't let her see what this incident had done to him.
He was thankful that he could still play, he was especially thankful to Hino for that. After all, if she hadn't saved him from that devastating blow then perhaps Len would be the one in her shoes and unlike her he wasn't sure he'd be able to handle it with the same kind of attitude as she did. After all, Hino Kahoko was an unnaturally optimistic person.
But still, this was a different kind of torture for him. He would never be able to forgive himself for what had happened to her. If he only knew then… well, quite frankly, he wasn't sure what he would do to the one who had started all of this.
"By the way Tsukimori-kun," She said with a smile directed at him. He wasn't looking but he could feel it, her mouth turned into that half-moon crescent that made others smile back at her, "Please, don't worry about it." She said with a sad smile that was meant to be comforting.
Contrary to what she intended, Len's heart only hurt even more.
"Mio! Nao!" One of the girls shouted, her face red for some odd reason, "Someone's looking for you." She said in an excited tone.
Nao glanced at Mio who shrugged.
It might be Azuma asking on Kahoko's condition. The upperclassman had always been concerned for their classmate for some strange reason. They didn't really mind but of course they were curious as to how their senpai saw their friend as.
Especially Mio, the girl could get as passionate about love affairs as much as Kahoko regarding the violin.
It wouldn't do to dwell on things like that. She thought.
She and Mio went out of the classroom only to be surprised to find Tsukimori Len waiting for them outside the door, looking a little anxious probably because of all the stares he was getting from both the girls and the boys.
Some regarded him with admiration whilst others with pure curiosity.
Of course, they would be curious. Nao thought a bit annoyed at all the attention they were receiving. This was the guy Kahoko tried to save.
Much to Kahoko's disbelief and constant denial, she had constantly been the talk of the general education students and so far, the incident that had occurred had only heightened her popularity even more.
Both genders admired her will to protect those special to her, somehow Nao found it a little strange as to how people were so attracted to situations such as these.
"Tsukimori-san." Nao heard Mio greeted and followed suit.
He gave them a brief nod, indicating with as little social skill as possible that he acknowledged them.
Nao snorted inwardly, "Well, what brings you over here?" She was curious. After all, Tsukimori Len wasn't popular for his love for the general educations students.
"Where do you go with Kahoko after school?" Len asked the two girls completely befuddling both Mio and Nao.
They weren't joking when they said he was straightforward. Though she had to wonder why he was asking such a strange question.
"Well, we usually go that cake shop near the station! Ooh! Kahoko loves the cheesecake there!" Mio said, totally not even noticing the fact that here was Tsukimori Len, the most unsocial guy in their high school, was starting the strangest conversation with them about their friend.
Both Mio and Kahoko had the same problem, they were much to naive.
Nao rolled her eyes. Talk about monotonic.
The young man bowed in gratitude before leaving Mio and Nao behind.
Since he was polite, she'd let it go for now.
Len kept staring at Kahoko who was sitting across him in her living room. It had been a few days since her release and he kept on visiting each day after school.
She had been granted a few days leave for her recovery and tomorrow she would be coming back.
"You know Tsukimori-kun, you don't have to come here everyday." She said as she took another bite of the cheesecake that he had bought from what he thought was her favorite shop.
She looked a bit pale in his opinion but then again, Kahoko was naturally pale, a great contrast to that head of dark red hair.
"Did you like the cake?"
Kahoko blinked in what looked like honest confusion, "I'm sorry?"
Len repeated what he had said.
"Oh!" She grinned, "Yes, I love it! It's one of my favorites after all." She said smiling the entire time. Len briefly wondered if her face was naturally structured like that or if she just really liked to smile a lot.
Len was glad that she liked the cake though. It had taken him a lot of effort and nerve just to get that cheesecake. Apparently, the place that Kahoko and her friends frequented was a popular store amongst girls and whilst he was buying, Len couldn't help the shivers running down his spine every time a girl giggled behind him.
"I'm going back to school tomorrow." She stated, probably wanting to start a conversation with him uncomfortable with the complete silence that had engulfed them only moments before.
Len stared at her for a couple of minutes before answering, "Are you sure?" He asked completely serious, "Can you write properly? And are you even sure your arm is all right?
"Of course!" She said, emphasizing her point by patting the arm wrapped in plaster, "You worry too much Tsukimori-kun."
"I do not." He snapped at her testily.
It was grating his nerves that he practically had to think about everything. Wasn't she even considering every possibility? Like the fact that maybe she wouldn't be able to hold a pen or a pair of chopsticks with that arm of hers that was trapped in all that plaster.
How was she supposed to carry her school bag without putting strain on that arm? He had already spoken to her doctor and the man had specifically told Len to stop Kahoko from doing anything that would endanger her chances of recovery.
By the time she decided to interrupt him and his very morbid thoughts, he was already considering just bringing her lunch and force-feeding it to her just so she could realize her own helplessness, "Tsukimori-kun," She said, trying her best to placated him with a grin, "I'm right-handed."
Kahoko grabbed her school bag that was lying on top of the table and made for the door. She had woken up a little early that day, probably because of the excitement of seeing everyone again despite the condition she was in.
It made her happy that she can finally see her classmates again.
Kahoko opened the door smiling, her mind full of happy thoughts about her reunion with her classmates and her friends from the concours. She could already see them now, smiling and waving.
Then she dropped her bag.
Because right in front of her house was Tsukimori Len.
"Hino." He greeted before picking up the bag that was previously on the floor and walked towards the direction of Seiso.
"Tsukimori-kun…" She said a little unsure, "Not that I don't like you or anything, but isn't your house the other way?" She asked a bit worried that he had already been so near to school but still had to pass it in order to make an extra trip towards her house.
"Yes. Yes, it is." He said nonchalantly as if the matter hadn't even passed his mind the entire while.
Kahoko cringed. She hated troubling other people. It was just in her nature to be accommodating to everyone around her, she hated having to ask for favors that didn't really matter. Not that she asked him to walk her to school or anything, she wasn't that forward.
"You shouldn't have come Tsukimori-kun." She said with a tone that implied she was scolding him for doing something unnecessary which he had.
Len merely glanced at her and walked on, Kahoko quietly walking by his side.
"Seriously Tsukimori-kun. This is troubling you too much." She said as she pouted when he didn't even pay attention to her scolding.
He really was getting into this too much. She really didn't mind.
When she weighed everything. Tsukimori-kun the hailed prince of the violin, and she the amateur who got lucky, well, it was obvious whose talent should be spared and whose should not.
It was a fair trade, she guessed. Although she still thought of it as unfair, her being unable to play any longer or at least for the short while she was wearing this cast, but there was nothing she could do right. And Len doing all this for her, treating her like a princess, wasn't helping anyone but only tiring Len out.
"Tsukimori-kun, I'm serious." She said firmly, running in front of him and blocking his way, "You don't have to walk me to school or do me special favors. I don't mind… this." She gestured to her arm.
Len stared at her for a moment and then opened his mouth to retort, "Hino, you traded your future for mine. Giving you a little of my time isn't a problem."
It was the first time Kahoko heard Len's thoughts about the incident. The boy had always been quiet and only voiced out his opinions when asked. And so far, nobody had been so bold as to ask him what he thought of Kahoko giving up her arm in order to protect him.
And apparently, he thought so hugely of it when in truth, Kahoko only regarded it as a small matter that didn't counted as important anymore.
And so, Kahoko could do nothing but stare at his statement.
Because probably deep down, she didn't mind sharing time with him at all.