Now, he was pretty sure he passed by that pharmaceutical building already. At least three times. Or he passed by a chain of the same pharmaceutical company within the city in the past fifteen minutes. No, he was not lost. There just happened to be a lot of the same pharmacy a few minutes' walk from one another, was all.
With a sigh, Yamaken brushed his bangs away from his eyes as he continued forward. He glanced down at his watch. Well, he was already late. He briefly wondered if the girl waiting for him would still be there.
He wondered if he even cared.
As he passed another pharmacy (it was not the same one because he was not walking around in a circle), he spotted a familiar figure crouched down on the ground next to a wooden bench. There was only one girl he knew who would so shamelessly style her hair in such an unfashionable manner. The blonde paused, debating whether or not he should approach her. Well, he was already late, so what did it matter?
"Yo," Yamaken called out, casually sticking his hands into his jacket's pockets.
She didn't react.
With a frown, he walked closer to the hunched over girl. He stopped a foot behind her, peering down to try and see what she was doing. This time, he said, "Mizutani."
Said girl froze for a second before looking up at him calmly. "Ah, Yamaken," Shizuku murmured. "What are you doing?"
This girl was crawling around on the grass and she was asking him what he was doing?
"Nothing," he answered simply, shrugging his shoulders.
"Are you lost?" she asked.
"No," he denied swiftly.
"I see." And with that, Shizuku redirected her attention to the ground.
Watching her intently, he spoke up, "What are you doing, then?"
"Looking for something," she replied.
"Something I lost."
He could infer that much, at the very least. Yamaken sighed. "What'd you lose?"
Standing upright, Shizuku brushed off her skirt. She turned around to face her company as she answered, "A pencil case."
"A pencil case?" he repeated, raising an eyebrow. "Can't you just buy a new one?"
"I don't have money to throw around like some people do." She scowled. "Besides, it was a gift."
"From Haru?" he asked immediately.
She shook her head.
Somehow, he felt relieved.
About to ask her who specifically gave it to her, he decided against it. He didn't want to come off as too nosy by pressing the matter. If she didn't say, she didn't say. Really, it was none of his business; he didn't care.
Yamaken flashed her a crooked grin as he slung his arm around her shoulders. "Let me help you find it, then," he offered, voice low. The girl waiting for him probably left ages ago, anyway.
"No, you don't have to." Shizuku pulled away from him, shaking her head. "I can find it myself."
"I've got nothing else to do." He shrugged. "So what does it look like?"
She hesitated. From her experiences with Haru, letting him do what he wanted (to a reasonable extent) was less of a hassle than telling him off, especially considering the repercussions from doing such. But Yamaken was not Haru. And, though she didn't want to (really, really, really didn't want to) admit it, his help wouldn't be horrible.
"Plain red with a strap," she relented.
"Red, huh. Shouldn't be hard to spot."
"That's what I thought, too," she muttered.
"It should be somewhere around here," she explained, gesturing around the open space. "I retraced my steps and this is the last place."
"I'll go look over there then," he stated, pointing to their right.
She nodded. "Don't get lost," Shizuku called out as he headed off in that direction.
"I won't!" he grumbled. Though she couldn't hear, the blonde continued mumbling about his perfect sense of direction as he walked along the sidewalk. He kept his eyes on the ground, looking out for the red pencil case. A few minutes passed by and, to his increasing frustration, he hadn't found it yet. Red against white. Red against green. Really, it shouldn't be hard to find at all. Yet neither of them had caught sight of it.
The problem was, though, he was looking down rather than up.
Letting out an annoyed sigh, Yamaken spotted something from the corner of his eye. "You can't be serious," he muttered. He had to be just seeing things. He headed towards the tree to make sure it was just his eyes playing tricks on him.
Hanging from a thick branch about three metres off the ground was a red pencil case.
What the hell.
Doing a quick scan of the area around, there weren't any fallen sticks long enough for him to use to pry it off the branch. The only thing for him to do was climb the tree and grab it. He never climbed trees, though, even when he was younger. Tree climbing was more Haru's thing. Still, if it was something Haru could do, then he could do it too.
Yamaken spent a moment observing the tree's structure before he started his climb. It wasn't too difficult. He had good footing and used some of the lower branches to help him up. It didn't take long for him to reach his destination. Thankfully, the branch was large enough to hold up his weight. He propped himself up onto it, reached over and grabbed the pencil case.
But then he realized he wasn't exactly sure how to get down.
The fall was pretty high and he couldn't exactly use the path he took to get up with as much ease; the branches were too low and thin.
He let out a frustrated sigh.
Why did he do this again?
Almost as if to answer his internal question, Yamaken saw Shizuku approaching from a distance. She seemed slightly surprised to see him in a tree, but didn't question it. Stopping at the base of the tree, she looked up at Yamaken.
"I found it," he informed her before she could say anything.
"Ah." She held her hands out. "Throw it down."
Doing as she said, he let go of the pencil case. She caught it with ease.
"So what the hell was it doing in a tree?" he asked.
She paused, placing her free hand against her mouth in thought. "I don't know," she answered eventually.
He narrowed his eyes. She definitely knew why.
"So are you going to come down now?" Shizuku inquired.
"Are you stuck?"
Yamaken turned his gaze away from her. The way she looked up at him almost expectantly made him feel a little embarrassed.
He wasn't stuck. In any case, he didn't exactly want her to see him get down from the tree, either.
A couple of minutes of silence later, he turned back around. He was almost certain that she had left already but, to his surprise, she had seated herself on the ground next to the tree. A couple of textbooks, notebooks and an open pencil case surrounded the girl.
"You're studying?" Yamaken asked, incredulous.
Though, he supposed he shouldn't have been surprised.
"It's quiet," Shizuku answered. "It can be a little hard to get work done around Haru."
"Where is that idiot, anyway?" he wondered aloud. From what he's seen, Haru was always following Shizuku around like a lost puppy, but he was nowhere in sight now.
"The batting range. We were walking home together; then when we went our separate ways, I realized I didn't have my pencil case so I went back," she replied.
Well, that explained why he wasn't around.
"Aren't your parents waiting for you?" he asked. After all, she was heading home before she had to turn around.
She shook her head. "They already know I'm studying. Dinner's in the fridge, anyway."
As there was nothing more to say, silence soon enveloped the two. Being in a tree, there wasn't much else for Yamaken to do but watch quietly as Shizuku studied.
"The answer's sixteen," he stated.
Shizuku looked up at him with a frown. "What? You can see?"
"It's small, but yeah," he replied, before repeating, "It's sixteen."
She turned back towards her notebook, erased her work and started over.
Closing one of her books as she finished it off, Shizuku picked up another study guide. "I just got this one on the weekend."
"I was waiting for it to come in for a couple of weeks," she continued, holding it up for Yamaken to see.
Advanced Functions. Huh.
"It seems really good," she commented, a hint of excitement lacing her voice.
Was studying really the only thing that interested her?
"It does," Yamaken concurred, though he honestly didn't care.
"I could write you a list of helpful study guides," she offered suddenly. "I've gone through a lot that really weren't worth my time, but there are some that I still use even now."
He blinked. He could tell that there probably weren't many people she could talk to about studying so fervently. Clearly, she pegged him as one of her kind in this aspect.
"No, that's—" He stopped when he realized she was already writing down titles on a scrap piece of paper.
A minute later and she had finished. She then proceeded to fold the note into a paper airplane (quite an impressive one at that). Standing up, Shizuku turned around and said, "Here, catch."
She threw the airplane up; it headed straight towards him and he caught it without even having to adjust his position. Yamaken unfolded the piece of paper and quickly looked over the list of study guides—guides that he would probably never use.
He looked up from the note and noticed that Shizuku was back to studying.
Thinking about it, there was something oddly picturesque about all of it.
Him, sitting in this tree.
Her, sending him a note with a paper airplane.
Somehow, it made his chest ache.
He had no idea when, but she had disappeared. He was on his phone texting some of his friends and when he put it away, he realized that Shizuku was no longer around. Her things were still on the ground, so she hadn't gone home. Well, she would be back soon, then. From wherever she had run off to.
Leaning back against the tree, Yamaken redirected his attention to his cell phone.
After several minutes and a handful of stupid texts from Mabo (what an idiot) later, he heard his name spoken. Sticking his cell phone into his pocket, he saw that Shizuku had returned with . . . two crêpes in hand?
"Catch," the girl ordered as she threw one of the desserts up into the air. Yamaken almost fell as he leaned forward to grab it.
"I thought you might've been hungry," she explained, nibbling on the end of her own crêpe. "So I went nearby to get some food."
He watched her with raised eyebrows as he adjusted the wrapper and took a bite of the thin, golden brown pancake filled to the brim with fresh strawberries and a chocolate spread.
After gulping down his first bite, Yamaken murmured, "You bought this for me?"
"No, you dropped your wallet," she answered simply, holding it up for him to see.
How could she say such a thing so shamelessly?
"Give that back!"
"It's from my mother."
"The pencil case. It's from my mother," she repeated.
Shizuku continued writing as she spoke, "So I guess it's important to me. She's always working so hard. I don't know what she'd think if she saw I no longer had it."
"Probably disappointed," she mumbled.
At a loss of words, all he could say was, "I see."
"It's getting late," she spoke up.
Yamaken could tell. After all, he had quite the view of the sunset from his spot on the tree branch. The sky was dyed a rich amber, hints of lavender and magenta interlaced over the horizon.
"Yeah, the view's not bad," he commented. Looking down, he saw that Shizuku had already packed up all of her things. No surprise there. She couldn't study outside if the sun wasn't out.
"Are you going to stay up there all alone?" she asked.
"Join me," he blurted out. He covered his mouth with his right hand as he realized what he had just suggested, a slight blush dusting his cheeks.
As usual, though, the implications went completely over her head.
"No, you should join me and the rest of the world down here," she replied.
Shizuku held out her hands as she said, "Jump."
Was she seriously suggesting she catch him?
"I believe you can do it," she deadpanned. Saying such a thing in that monotone voice hardly encouraged him.
Still, he knew he couldn't stay in a tree for the entire night. There was no sense in prolonging it any further.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah; I'm coming down," Yamaken shouted. With that, he clung onto the trunk as tried to find a branch to place his foot on for the descent. Shizuku had lowered her arms and watched him for a moment, before turning around and walking off. As he got closer to the ground, only a couple of feet away, he lost his footing and landed on the grass with a thud. Coming down was definitely a lot harder than going up.
"Fuck," he cursed when his back made contact with the ground.
Shizuku stopped, peering over her shoulder.
"I'm fine," he muttered, dusting himself off. Yamaken quickly got to his feet and made his way to Shizuku's side.
It was quiet for a moment as the two walked before she said, "Yamaken."
He glanced over at Shizuku.
The edges of her lips were curled up in a small smile.
He felt his heartbeat quicken.
This was why he spent the past three hours in a tree, he realized.
"Thank you," she murmured.
He found himself smiling back as he replied, "Anytime."
Ohh, well I hope y'all enjoyed it and the characterization wasn't too wonky.
Reading the manga, Yamaken grew on me as the chapters went on. Checking out fanart on pixiv before the anime aired told me I was not the only one, haha. Of course 'the favourite guy' is a bit of a different story on pixiv now, though. ( But hey, all of the characters are great! )
Since Shizuku and Yamaken are clearly not endgame — well, I'd just really like them to be friends at least, y'know?
Oh, as for when this takes place. . . Well, sometime before chapter 30 at least, haha; sometime early-middle of their relationship, I suppose. My memory is horrible so I can't recall a good moment for this to fit in off the top of my head.
Also, here's a line that never made it into the story, though I was mulling over it: "Thinking about it, Haru would've come down ages ago. He's always jumping out windows."
Thanks for reading!