Title: Opacity

Rating: Rated T.

Pairings: Mazume (Mamura x Suzume).

Genre: Romance.

Summary: He wished she was transparent like water, enough so that he could understand her heart.

Regarding Q&A: Any questions regarding the story can be asked via PM or review.

Beta: N/A.

Warnings: Mild language.

Category: Hirunaka no Ryūsei.

Uploaded: November 9th, 2013

(Section Break)

She transferred there, to their school in Tokyo. A country girl, a hint of an accent. He swore she was of no importance, just another woman to ignore. But she reached out to him in a way he was unfamiliar with.

She was odd, really. A glutton, yet thin. Abrasive, yet nice. Dense, yet intelligent - when it came to some things, he privately mused, thinking of her abysmal test scores.

But she was a walking contradiction. Someone who was bound to stumble and fall, then never recover if someone wasn't there to help them back up again. A small part stirred within him as he came to that realisation. She'd fall; of that much he was certain.

She'd act out, sometimes. Do silly things that'd only end in more problems. A trip rolled around, and she ended up tripping. Trying to scale rocks was a stupid thing to do. He'd ended up in a rather awkward situation, and with only trace amounts of begrudging, gave her the clothes off his back. It was raining after all, and she was catching a cold.

It still bothered him, though. He'd divulged that he hated being around women to her, and she reacted in a way he hadn't anticipated. At that moment, the teacher arrived, and he was spared from her fainted body and having to pull it. He got his sweater back, too. All was well, although the red in his cheeks and the tingling throughout was a bit concerning.

But he was fine, and so was she.

A study party had been arranged. The blonde friend yelled at her, and out of impulsion she clung to his arm and said they were both blushers, embarrassed at something or other. She had used him as a scapegoat. His own companions laughed and pointed, teased and joked, and he knew that his secret of being horrible with the counterpart of his gender would no longer be a secret. He supposed he had it coming - she had expressed dislike of his actions earlier, and then told everyone as a way of getting back.

His momentary anger faded, and he found the study party to be finished. People went their separate ways, and he expressed his dislike of her actions to her. She acted once more in that odd way of hers, and prepared herself for a punch. It was charming, really, how she was okay with him getting back at her for getting back at him.

And, in a bout of compulsion fueled by the chill of the evening, he didn't punch her or even harm her. Instead, he decided to test out what the pale and smooth skin of a female felt like on his lips.

It was a ghost of a kiss, barely even a touch. The far side of her cheek was the spot he chose after warning her to clench her teeth, and the warmth of her skin radiated off her and to him. He backed off, saying she was forgiven all while that annoying red glow plagued his own face and began to take over hers. A transferrable disease, perhaps.

He left her to think. Who was thinking about it more, he didn't know.

They met at school soon after. She acted uncomfortable, but later called him up to the rooftop.

"Why did you do that? It could have been for kicks, but somehow, I don't... I'm just really troubled."

"You think I did it for kicks? I've never been able to touch a woman in the past, and you still think it was a joke?"

He left, and she stood out there a while longer, contemplating.

The next day, she asked him a question. It was simple and straight-forward, but it would have required him to talk to her about other things. Undoubtedly, she would have interrogated him, so he avoided her.

Later, he saw her blonde friend. She was in his way, and he wanted to leave. But she needed help, and it would only take a minute, so he helped her. The girl seemed confused and asked him if he had plans over summer break. When elaborated upon, he understood, and vaguely said that if she was there, he would go. But he didn't use "she," and the blonde had no idea what he meant, so he continued on home with the aftertaste of the words "never mind" on his tongue.

It had started out like that, their silence. He wasn't sure if he had initiated it, or maybe she had. But it was heart-achingly lonely.

He kept it up, though, and one day she broke the quiet with two simple words of goodbye when their eyes met in the hallway. It had been surprising, but entirely welcome. The constant pressure he had of her eyes on his back and side was suffocating. Later in the day, she met him at the lockers.

"He rejected me."

She was crying, letting small tears fall onto her uniform. Genuinely sad, sad that someone hadn't wanted her. But that wasn't true, so he hugged her. It had been hard for him, but the small fluttering of his heart made it worth it.

"You're annoying." How true that was. "You show no interest in me, and keep chasing a guy who will never return your feelings. And then you start crying out of nowhere. It gets on my nerves. But…" A small breath was taken. "The most annoying thing is that I can't do anything for you, even though you're crying."

He loosened his grip and looked her in the eyes. They were red and puffy, and reminded him of a bee sting. "You should just fall in love with me."

"Sorry…" She pushed him away. "I'm going home."

And that was the end of that.

She had left him at the point in which he finally was able to say something, finally able to express himself to a female. She, the only girl he had ever remotely felt anything for, had left in favour of being alone and the fading memories of a man who rejected her.

He felt like a part of him had gone and left for good, although there was always a time for a second chance. Which was why he said to his friends that he'd go to the festival.

The festival itself bored him. Despite having not gone before, it wasn't entertaining or exciting. She was there, dressed in a flower-patterned yukata. Her hair was done up, and she looked...nice. But she ignored him, and he sort of had expected her to, so he ignored her. He also ignored the pressure on the side of his head as she snuck a glance.

Katanuki came up as an activity. His hands were too big for the small needles, although hers held just enough strength and delicateness to cut out the shapes perfectly. She seemed so eager and happy despite not speaking with him, and a forlorn part of him wished she would just give him a straight-forward answer. Her refusal hadn't made sense, and he wanted to speak to her.

She said she'd go to the restroom by herself. He tailed her, even if it was a bit odd. They needed to speak, and she'd probably get lost by herself anyway. He brought up the fireworks as a topic of conversation, and they went to make their way back to the group. But they got lost in the crowd of people, each person shuffling around and almost separating them. So he grabbed her hand, embraced the sharp sensation of prickling on his face, and led her through enough to see the lights up above.

He couldn't bear to see her face as he did so, and soon enough he had let go with an apology. And then she told him the answer to his question.

"I can't return your feelings."

It stung like the bees that had stung her eyes. He didn't cry, or tear up. It was only natural for him to be rejected after someone else had so recently enraptured her emotions. But it still hurt.

It was then that she looked into the crowd, and he noticed her gaze fixing on someone. He followed her eyesight and saw who had nabbed her attention.

Their teacher.

It was strange. The woman with him greeted her like an old friend and asked them if they were on a date. She answered, and then clammed up. She seemed sad, and he couldn't help but wonder if the person who had denied her feelings was their teacher.

It was too much for him, really. The fact that she didn't want to be with him complimented the longing look she gave the other male. He told her he'd go back first, then promptly attempted to leave.

Then the teacher shouted her nickname and ran after her when she herself tried to leave, and he cursed. He wanted to yell at the man for hurting her, refusing her heartfelt feelings and making her cry. He wanted to shout that he had no right to talk to her that way after causing her to go through such pain, but the woman he was with told him it wasn't a good idea. He wanted to defy her, but her words rung within his head and made him a bit faint.

"Who are you?"

"An outsider. You're the same, ain't ya?"

It wasn't right. Something about the statement was clear and true and a cold fact, but something else told him that she was just a hypocrite. He wasn't the one who was trying to hold her back, although the so-called infinite adult wisdom might have caused such a thing. He didn't want to be an outsider, but the girl he had tripped over wasn't trying to stable his fall. She was letting him slowly go towards the ground, not reacting in a way that would either let him be helped back up or fall faster. He was stuck in a prolonged motion.

The woman left him with a useless apology, and soon he was alone again even though he was surrounded on all sides by other people. He wandered, hands in his pockets and back slouched, until that blonde friend of hers found him. She seemed surprised somehow, perhaps at the fact that his classmate was no longer with him. She paused and called out a wait as he turned to leave, then bid him farewell. It was a simple notion that he returned, a small bit of gratefulness rising up inside of him.

He really wasn't fond of festivals.

He was at home at the point that his father asked him to make tea for a guest they had over. He sighed and made it, alongside some cake, and brought it out. But then he froze when it noticed it was her.

His father, thinking she was a friend, left them alone to awkward silence and opposite sides of the couch. She asked him a basic question to lighten the mood, and he replied as distantly as he could. It was then that his little brother shouted at him, fiercely asking who she was, and he hit him. It might have been the wrong move, and then the smaller male said with a taunting voice, "She's your girlfriend, right!?" The tension in the air was heavy even as he told his brother just to leave, ignoring the singing of "Girlfriend, giiiiirlfriiiiieeeend!"

But then she said to him, "I'm not his girlfriend. Sorry. But your brother is the first friend I made moving into this town. That pretty much means he's a very special friend to me." She...was blushing.

It hurt a bit. She spoke of him so fondly but without interest. She spoke like he was someone she cared deeply about but couldn't look him in the eyes. She spoke as if she cared about him, but she couldn't even speak to him like a normal person. She quickly excused herself, but he felt a need - a desperate need - to confront her, so he said he'd go with her part of the way.

She was a walking contradiction, after all, and spoke to him like a normal person. She looked him in the eyes and as he asked her a question, and they spoke about various topics for a while. The subject of his parents' divorce was brought up, and he said with not very well-hidden intentions that he used to hate women but was beginning to not mind them.

But still, she spoke without interest. And as much as it pained him, he realised it would probably stay like that for a while. And so, in hopes of being able to at least be comfortable with her constant presence, he said as she bid him goodbye, "For now, I'll let you off, my 'special friend.'"

She turned back to him with a bit of embarrassment, muttering quiet affirmatives. He couldn't help it - she just looked so flustered, so nice, so...everything. He couldn't suppress the smile and laugh that floated out of him, and he laughed out the taunt, "Stuuuupid!"

She noticed him, he thought, but her attention was grabbed away by the shooting star in the dark night sky he pointed out. His expression dropped quickly, but the joy hadn't faded. If anything, the fluttering within him had only become stronger, and he watched the star fly overhead with her as she said something about it being her first real shooting star. She didn't explain it, but her willingness to share in a moment found in cheesy romance novels left him with one of the most content feelings he had ever had.

He had gone out with friends later on. The blonde girl was there by coincidence and spilled water on him, although he hadn't really cared. At the end of the meal, she asked if she could go with him, and he answered slightly flippantly. She nearly shouted at one point for his attention as they went home, he nearly ten feet in front of her, then said the bitter words "it was nothing" when focused upon. It was peculiar behaviour, but he made nothing of it.

School started once more. Break was over, and he somehow managed to run into her before class even began. She was in his way, and he told her so. She was eating a rice ball for breakfast, bits of it plastered to her face, and then he was called away. The pressure of her eyes was on his back, and a part of him was glad she cared enough to look after him as he left.

She volunteered to be a committee member for the cultural festival. The country attitude she had hadn't left entirely, it seemed, and he watched as she and her friends interacted cheerfully. It was warming to see her so happy.

Then, of course, she later wanted him to be a butler in their maid and butler café.

It wasn't something he wanted to do. Dressing up in what was effectively cosplay and then serving people - particularly women - did not sit well with him. But there were no other choices for him, as the only other option was to be surrounded by his female classmates as a cook. He'd agreed, begrudgingly, and she teased him and said she'd help with the girl guests.

He bumped into the blonde girl by accident a while later. She began to shout at him, and a dull cherry colour rose to his cheeks at the touch. She immediately became flustered upon noticing it was him, even as he covered part of his face with his mouth, and apologised. He really couldn't help but wonder what was wrong with her, acting out towards everyone but him.

He hated the outfit. It was uncomfortable and awkward, and they even had insisted on messing with his hair. Serving customers was more work than he had wished it to be, and the women who came in wanted him to wait on them. It wasn't pleasant for him, and he ended up being able to only serve males, although he had a sinking feeling that was hidden behind a blank expression that they had begun to make assumptions. Their opinions, though, didn't really matter. One group asked for a picture. He vehemently said no.

Their teacher came in bit after that. His classmates volunteered the girl he rejected, the one he ended up liking, as the waitress. He interfered. She wasn't happy because of him, and there wasn't a reason that she should have to speak to him. The order ended up being cheap, and he didn't hesitate to point it out, although afterwards he immediately said, "That's what I would have said, but hey, I remembered we don't have a discount for teachers."

"Wait a sec, what's with that attitude? I'm your homeroom teacher, you know."

He knew. That's why he couldn't stand it. "If you really are a teacher, then you wouldn't flirt with your student."

The look that his teacher gave him could have killed a man, but thankfully he was spared from the fate of death by his annoying brother and father visiting. He dragged them off to a place to sit, ignoring the man, but couldn't help noticing that the next person to take his order just happened to be her.

It infuriated him.

Thankfully, he was able to get out of the room for his break. But then his teacher came out and grabbed him by the necktie, saying, "I forgot one thing. I would be the happiest person in the world if I could just flirt with her freely. Don't judge me if you don't stand in my position, brat."

It repulsed him. He had hurt her at first, but she still had harboured feelings for him. Eventually he gave in to their forbidden relationship, and now she would definitely stumble and fall. There was no way to avoid it, and there was only one thing he could do for her: be there to help her get back up. His tie was released with a soft, "That's all."

He hated that man.

She came out later and asked him why his collar was crumpled. She assumed it was because his costume was hot, but at the moment he couldn't deal with seeing her face. He couldn't help but remember what it looked like when she was crying.

He told her to leave him alone and walked away, although afterwards she threw the baby powder in her hands at him and told him it seemed like worrying about him was a waste of time. She stalked off, and part of him felt bad. A message was received on his phone from the blonde girl, and he went out to meet her.

She was wearing a dress from the play she had been chosen to act in. Her hair was done up. Her normal forthcoming attitude was replaced by a meek blushy one, and he wondered absently if he would finally understand why she acted different around him.

Jumbled words came out of her mouth, twisted and woven in confusing ways, and she managed to finally get out, "My friend...is the one who likes you. She told me that she likes everything about you, and she asked me to tell you about it. Really, that's all."

A cold feeling bubbled up within him. "I apologise to your friend, but honestly, someone who asks someone else to convey their feelings for them is the worst." He turned. "I'm leaving."

She called after him, though. She seemed to do that a lot. "Wait!"

He looked back at her. Her face was redder than before, and she seemed out of breath and even more flustered. "Actually, I'm...I'm the one who likes you."

It was unexpected. She hadn't seemed like the type, although the anticipating look on her face was troubling. Her eyes weren't even open, and she was prepared for anything he would say. So he bowed with the words, "Sorry. I like someone else." He paused momentarily as the annoying pressure of eyes pierced him once more. "I'm sorry."

He left her, the muffled sounds of small sobs clawing at his back. The people at the café who greeted him back teased him, and the cultural festival was over without many more painful incidents.

He was once again greeted at school as he went into the classroom. His normal uniform was much more comfortable, he thought. She, his crush, bid him good morning, and he saw her blonde friend hanging back a little. He greeted her, ignoring the crimson colour that instantly appeared on her, then went about his way.

The class decided to throw their teacher a party for the man's birthday. He didn't go.

The next day, when they were teasing him about a sushi necktie, she looked pale. It didn't feel right, and he got concerned. He asked her, seriously, what was wrong. She didn't answer, and when the class got even more rowdy, he noticed that she had her face buried in her book and a rose dusting her face.

Why had she fallen for that man? It was disgusting. He didn't care for her.

Most of all, it wasn't right.

She deserved more. It was possible that "more" wasn't him, but surely he was better than a person who was possibly up to eight years older than her. She was barely sixteen, if that, and to date your teacher was something highly disturbing to him. Perhaps he was being selfish, but it simply wasn't right.

After a night of restless sleep, in class the next day, she was writing a list of things to make a rice ball out of. She asked him what type of rice ball men like, and when seeing the unresponsive look on his face, elaborated with saying that she wanted to make her uncle a bentō. He knew it was a lie. A huge lie. So he said, "Dunno."

She seemed confused, and he said that he didn't really like rice balls anyway. He turned away when she began to say his name, and felt the persistent pressure of that damn gaze on him. One more day passed, and she was outside sitting on a bench and eating. He went over, sat down next to her, and asked what the heck was she doing and why wasn't she eating in the classroom. She didn't really have an answer, and spotting the huge rice ball on her lap, asked if he could eat it.

It tasted like a normal rice ball, although it was way out of proportion and the sausage flavour that was supposed to be within was clearly not there. He was eating it for her sake, though, and the two shared a conversation as they munched. She seemed somehow released of a burden after he finished, and however he had helped, he was glad to have been able to.

A Christmas party rolled around after tests were finished with. He decided to go. It was rather noisy and a bit of an effort to be there, but he had time and he wanted to see her. She was there, as he had expected, but she was dressed up in an outfit that seemed almost too fancy for her. She asked if it was weird to dress up for a party, and he replied with it was ordinary. But it really wasn't. Nothing was ordinary on her.

His hand was once again covering his face, protecting the red of his cheeks.

She kept checking her phone and making a disappointed face near the end of the party. He was a bit worried. She said she'd be going home, but the melancholy that surrounded her said otherwise. He trailed after her, and when she began sneezing because of that weak body of hers, he approached her and asked for her company.

They went into town and viewed the lights. She was eager and excited, eyes wide with happiness, and a smile was on her face. She reminded him of a child, and then told him that she'd never seen anything like it in real life before. Only in movies.

She became a bit more somber, and he took a chance in asking, "Were...you supposed to meet him today?"

She turned, surprised. He continued.

"Don't hide it." He looked away. "I know everything...about it."

She glanced down. "Actually...it was my birthday recently." His eyes went back to her, and she was gazing at the brightly-lit tree. "December 1st. On Saturday. The same as Fujiko Fujio's. The Fujiko F. Fujio, that is." It was an odd correlation to make at a time like that. "Since my birthday was around the exams, I didn't tell anyone about it. That's why I thought...I would...tell him today."

She seemed further away than before. Lonelier, perhaps. People around them passed by, chattering happily, and suddenly even the scarf around his neck wasn't able to keep out the chill.

"I even wore a skirt, because I wanted him to think 'You look cute' and say, 'Congratulations.' But...it's never going to come true, is it...?"

He took off the cloth around his neck. It wasn't helping him, anyway. He wrapped it around her and said, "Happy birthday." She seemed surprised - didn't she always? - and he said, "I said it." He pinched her cheeks. "Therefore, don't give me that 'I want to cry' look." The blood in his body flew to his face once more. He blushed a lot, he absently noticed as he moved his fingers in a way that would make the left side of her face mimic upturned lips. "Smile."

She blinked once, then twice, and said, "You're blushing to the ears."

Hurriedly, he covered his face and turned his back to her. She asked him if he wanted his scarf back, and he told her no. He had given it to her already, so it was too late. She mumbled that she understood, and watched as he walked off, the cold night air lapping at his unprotected skin, then followed.

The walk was cold, but it was to be expected. The middle of winter was supposed to be that way. She brought up the topic of the scarf again, asking if it was expensive. He asked if she was unhappy with the quality, and she quickly denied that statement. She said it just happened to be the first present she had received from a male, and was wondering if truly was okay.

He looked away from her. "I don't mind at all. Besides, this is also my first time giving something to a girl."

"Is that so…?"

They stood for a second, and then she checked her phone. She seemed worried, and he told her he was going home. She could handle her own problems herself, and his nose was beginning to become sore. She thanked him and told him goodnight as he left.

The night passed peacefully.

He singled out their teacher the next day. A simple call of the word "hey" was enough to grab his attention and glare at him. A joke was made, and a response was given.

"You've been addressing me in silence lately. Have you completely forgotten that I'm your teacher?"

He grabbed his teacher's necktie and looked at him harshly. "You're a teacher, all right. You're a grown-up, for heaven's sake. But why can't you act like one? You should be the person who best understands her." He released his hold and took a few steps back, ignoring the animosity in the other's eyes. "It's because you're like this...that she didn't even bother to tell you her birthday."

Then he turned completely, and then he left.

Days passed. His family decided to visit a shrine for New Year's, and he was brought along. They bumped into her a while in, his little brother pointing her out. He avoided her gaze, but noticed the package in her left hand as she spoke. His father told him to go with her until she found her friends again, and they went on their way and spoke of trivial things. He pointed out she wasn't wearing the scarf he gave to her, and she replied that it was too precious.

A present from him was too precious for her to use for everyday use. That was what she thought. And it made his heartbeat become strong enough to flip a car. A woman, someone he didn't know, bumped into him and made the beating even worse. It was tearing him apart, but he needed to still converse. His hand was brought up to his face once more, and he told the stranger he was fine. He was looking away, though, and the red that always flooded his face was back again.

It started to fade from the cold, thankfully, and the woman left. He was then told that he had changed, that it was expected he'd curse the woman out for it. He told her that he had learned his lesson, and that he didn't actually seem to want to hurt women like he had thought. The blonde girl had been proof enough of that, and he hurriedly changed the topic back to her. He said she had come weaker, and had even bought a love amulet. It wasn't like her.

Nothing really seemed like her very often, though. Whether it be fancy clothes, odd mannerisms, buying love charms…she seemed like someone who was in a relationship doomed to fail.

She said everyone else had bought one, so she did too. He shrugged and said it wasn't really his business anyway, and she could do whatever she wanted to. He didn't feel that way, and perhaps it even sounding like it, but it was her business. Her friends came and asked what he was doing there, and he replied accordingly. A dull expression overtook his face, and then his father arrived. They visited the shrine and decided to draw fortune strips, and he told her that she could wear the scarf.

He said it didn't mean anything special.

That, too, was a lie.

He was frustrated with her, and he was tired of trying to be there.

Winter break passed like everything else, and that morning the blonde girl greeted him instead of her. She spaced out while looking at him, but asked him to take care of her that year as well. A simple "sure" passed through his lips, and he left to go speak with his friends.

Their teacher asked her to stay in during recess and assist him. It bothered him. Something about the way he was addressing her seemed off, and he couldn't help but feel a foreboding feeling as she agreed to it. He bumped into a girl in the hall a bit later, and when he got back to the classroom, he noticed that she and the teacher were taking too long for nothing to be up. A friend of his said he had to turn something into him, and deciding it would be best to check it out, he volunteered to take it himself.

He called the blonde girl to go with him. His comfort wasn't what she needed if something were to happen. She didn't look at him with a fast heart or a heated face, and he had been too fed up with her lately to make his companionship seem genuine. So he asked her to go with him, and she did.

She asked where they were going, and he told her to the data room. She argued that the teacher wouldn't be there, but he told her that he had to go there. They continued walking and passed a window. The blonde gazed out of it and noticed the teacher, and he noticed that the girl he was seeking was alone in a room.

He told the blonde to go to the data room before him. He wasn't what she needed, and he wanted to talk to their damn homeroom teacher.

He went out there, hands in his pockets. He confronted the man. "What...did you do to her?"

The teacher stood. "The lesson has started already -"

Frustration boiled within him, stronger than it had been when he had been annoyed at the female who had just once again been hurt. "I don't care! What did you do to her?!"

The teacher slid an arm around his shoulder. He managed to grumble some insults, but he was interrupted. "You're going to skip the lesson, aren't you?" A small pause in which the wind ruffled their clothing occurred, and then the man continued to speak. "In that case, why don't you keep me company? That way, you can hit me all you want afterwards."

He sighed. "I've...hurt Chun-Chun. I told her that we should go back to the way it was. I even...lied to her, saying that I didn't love her."

The way he had worded it made it sound like he had cared. But that couldn't have been right.

"You were joking, right?"

"No, I wasn't. If I was, I wouldn't have told her that. As long as she's with me, she's just going to suffer even more. I can't let that happen." His entire aura seemed to deflate. "She's too precious to the point that I don't even know what to do anymore. This is the first time I've felt this way."

He hadn't been joking, had he?

It didn't seem right. His teacher had acted so uncaringly, so flippantly towards her feelings, and then it made him think he'd been acting correctly in believing that his teacher was just using her. Heartbreak was heartbreak, and breaking someone else's heart just because it would hurt them less in the long run wasn't necessarily a good thing.

"Whatever. I couldn't care less about your saucy talk. You were just trying to run away by hurting her, weren't you?"

He was a coward, and hadn't she deserved better? She had fallen after tripping, and now the only step was to help her back up, now wasn't it? He knew she would need help, but if the lone figure in the data room was any indication, the man across from him wouldn't be able to help her.

"I suppose you're right. That must be it. If you want to hit me, do it now. You can even hit my face."

More like he wouldn't let him help her.

"Whatever. Whether you hurt her or got hurt yourself, it has nothing to do with me. You can just pity yourself."

No matter what, she didn't deserve to be with someone with as much cowardice as that. Yes, that's what he would do. He'd attempt to help her get back up after tripping. If he needed help from her friends, so be it.

She didn't come back to the class that day.

A day passed, and then another, and then another. It was the weekend at that point, and the notes and worksheets she had missed were piling up. Her friends had apparently gone to her uncle, decided to deliver the notes when they had heard she had gone back to her old home, and brought him along, although not entirely by force. He was the one who knocked on her door first and told her why they were there, and they were invited in.

Dinner was pleasant enough, although the seafood he wasn't fond of. The pressure of a look by her attracted his attention, and he wondered what she was thinking of. Futons were laid out, and he took a shower. On his way back, he ran into her, and they sat on the edge of the house's porch-like floor and talked.

She told him it was unusual for him to be like he was. He privately agreed, but made nothing of it. She apologised for teasing him, and then he asked her a question.

"Are you coming home? It's not fun without you, you know." He looked out at the stars. "So you have to come back."

She didn't answer right away, and he got up and told her he was going to bed. She said goodnight hesitantly, and looked after him as he walked.

The next morning he awoke sleepily, scratching his hair and stomach as he came out of his room. She acted normally, saying she had to sweep the terrace, and he said he'd help since the food had been so good. He went to get dressed, and he noticed that she was once more watching him as he walked off.

Helping with the terrace wasn't too hard of work. The snow kept him cool, and silently being beside her was a nice change from the frequent conversation. When they were finished, he decided to make a snowman. Snow wasn't something he often experienced, but when she noticed he stopped out of embarrassment. She gazed at him at fondly and offered to make the head while he made the body, and he said "It can't be helped" that she wanted to make one.

It turned out horribly, with an ugly face and pathetic arms. He asked her why it was so pathetic, since she had been raised in a snowy place, and she said she had been, only that everyone always asked her if she ate sushi everyday instead of other things. The answer didn't really make sense, and he changed the subject to the fact that she wasn't wearing the scarf he'd given to her.

She said no, she was, and that it was the warmest one so she brought it, and that it had been from a friend so she might as well wear it. He hadn't believed it to be so, since she had shown so much hesitation about wearing it previously. Her attention was taken away from the subject at hand quickly, and in an attempt to continue on with where they had been going, he asked, "Do you remember what I told you that day? I was kidding. I didn't really mean it that way. At least, it was not that simple."

He had said it didn't mean anything, hadn't he? That it was just a gift, not something special.

"That day, I said that because you -"

A shouting interrupted him, and he saw another person. The girl next to him shouted back a thank you, and then the person - a boy with glasses - cried out something about her having been in the city too long and ran away. She was confused, and he had a feeling that the boy who had ran assumed something weird. They had to leave later that day, and he was thankful the detour had gone smoothly. He had helped her, in a way, and it made him happy.

She appeared at school again once more, and a few days later the two of them ended up somehow walking home together. She was eating again and telling him a story of the Goukon and karaoke she went to. He asked about the result, and she said that they probably ended up hating her. He said that it was good that at least she went, and soon after she needed to open something. Her hand slipped and she hit herself in the lip. He asked her to let him see it and he leaned over her, telling her it was bleeding a little and asking if she had a handkerchief. She said no, and soon he realised what he had done.

His face didn't turn crimson, but he backed up awkwardly and turned, throwing a handkerchief over at her and hitting her forehead. She thanked him and said she was going a different way to her home, and he said farewell to her, but as he began to walk he called for her to wait. He wasn't sure why, but he felt like he needed to do something. Anything.

"Do you...have any plans for this Sunday?"

She asked him why, and he explained that his birthday was coming up. She asked if her friend could come.

"Do you what you like."

"Awesome!" She smiled. "Thank you. Where are we going?"

"Tsukiji, for sushi."

He didn't like seafood, but she did, and her eyes sparkled as soon as she knew the location. Her smile grew and she waved him goodbye, and they left.

They met at the station, although she was a bit late and wearing clothes that didn't seem suited to the environment. Her friend wasn't there, but he didn't ask. She gave him a present and wanted him to open it immediately. They were headphones, and very nice ones at that. She told him that he was always listening to music, so she thought they'd be good for him. He responded without enthusiasm while thanking her, and she was slightly disappointed, but he said they'd be fine. As they continued on their way, she seemed troubled, but he ignored it in favour of trying them on while sitting on a bench.

They were comfortable, although the happiness welling up within his chest made them even better. He felt her gaze upon him, and soon enough they were at the market. She seemed happy, exclaiming about everything she saw, and began to become careless around the products surrounding them. He warned her, and she unnerved him with the sorry expression on her face.

But once again she became eager and carelessly touched his back.

The fluttering in his chest that had been so absent recently returned as fast as clouds on a supposedly sunny day, and a rosy colour plagued his face. She apologised quickly, saying that she messed up and went around to other places in an attempt to let him regain his footing. He wouldn't have it, and as soon as she was gone he found her again and clasped her hand in his.

"Stay close to me and don't wander off so much."

His face still felt like someone had put a heater up to it and a bubbly feeling overcame his heart. He ended up having to put his hand up to his face again to hide himself, saying "Let's go" and beginning to walk. He went in front of her - didn't he always? - and her hand was let go of. She clung to the bottom of his coat, and they walked.

Later, she slowed down a bit, and he turned and asked what was wrong. She replied with nothing, and then noticed a store and her eagerness was once more piqued. She was eating more and more, and although he wasn't too fond of the food, she seemed to be enjoying herself.

And then they ran into his family and were invited for a meal. She seemed eager to once more, and he went along with it. He left partway through, and as he returned, heard himself be brought up in conversation and asked what they were discussing without him. They replied with, "Nothing."

The dinner went smoothly and it tasted good. At the end, he called a taxi to pick him up, and she bid him goodbye. Daring rose up inside of him before that, and he asked her for her phone. She gave it to him, confused, and he put his information in it.

He called her that evening. He said he'd gotten home, and she said that she'd eaten way too much and now her stomach hurt. A small laugh flew out of him, and soon he found himself saying something he could regret.

"Hey… I think I might be interested in you."

There was a pause on the other end, and only silence answered him. He closed his eyes. "See ya." The phone call ended, and he sighed. Was it the right choice to say that, he didn't know. But he had done it.

Everything was unsettled. Nothing was wrapped up, and there seemed no direction that their relationship could go. The teacher hadn't been a problem lately, but there was no guarantee about what that man would do when the school year began again. He wasn't feeling lonely, and still, his heart was always aflutter. Butterflies enveloped his entire being, but it was pleasant. He enjoyed the feeling. He relished in it.

And he hoped that she, too, was able to experience it.

(Section Break)

*silently adds the word "ryuusei" so this turns up on google*

Cover by Teharcohn on DeviantART.

THIS WAS MEANT TO BE LIKE 2K WORDS MAXIMUM WHAT HAPPENED

I had a lot of fun writing this, and reread the entire manga in order to do so. I love Mamura, though, so it's okay. Really. I think.

I love this manga so much, though. Like, honestly. I am in love. Mamura is my favourite, and Suzume is very intriguing to observe. I hope none of you got confused when it came to who was speaking/doing something, since I didn't use names. And hopefully you were able to understand who everyone was, hehe. Although, if you were a fan of this manga, you probably already knew. I hope.

On the other hand, I'd like to mention that I went into the raw chapters to write some of this. I know a bit of Japanese, so I was able to write as much as I could, but don't take it for the official translation done by whoever translates this (isn't it the sailor-uniform girl watermark people?).

Thank you for reading my long-winded story and author's note. I really appreciate it :)

Also, if you review, virtual cookies. If not, that's fine too. As long as you like the story, everything's all good!

Shameless advertising: I have other one-shots for both the anime Naruto and the anime One Piece, and I also have a few multi-chapter stories (crossovers) if you're interested. I'd love if you'd check them out!