[Treat the story as if you’re watching a drama and the background music plays but the characters don’t hear it. Not a Gintama fanfic. Shocking, right?]
♪ I like to think that I’m a good man.
The door opens and a young man walks into the dark room. The only source of light came from the hallway.
♪ I strive to be the best that I can.
He makes his way to the centre of the room where a young lady lay fast asleep under the covers.
♪ Our love is cheap without devotion.
Sitting beside her, he raised his left hand to trace the side of her face from her chin up to the crown of her head, rearranging the loose auburn strands that fell on her fair visage.
♪ So incomplete without emotions.
His deep blue-grey irises held no warmth, but there was a hint of light in them if one were to look very closely.
♪ Somewhere away, they’ve got a smile on their face.
Content at her tidied appearance, he stood up to leave, but not before slipping his calling card by her bed side lamp.
♪ ‘Cause we are sedated.
The door closed and the room was once again swallowed by the night.
♪ We’re always sleeping in.
The morning light seeped in through the teal curtains half-heartedly placed over the window.
♪ And dreaming through the morning.
The sun’s rays finally reached the young lady’s eyes.
♪ ‘Cause waking up is boring.
Her eyelids shot open and she looked at the time on her phone.
“Eleven-thirty! Shit! I’m late!”
♪ Been living in a fiction.
She groaned after her stubbing her toe on the foot of her bed.
♪ We gotta keep it going.
Hurriedly dressing and grabbing her backpack, she made her way out of the apartment complex towards the bus stop.
♪ Ignoring all the warnings, yeah.
Bursting through the university doors, she runs up the escalator and into her class at the far corner of the second floor. Thankfully, the professor’s back was facing the class right now as he wrote more incoherent Greek words on the whiteboard. She chose the closest available seat at the corner of the room. Soon, her fellow classmates were packing up their belongings and everyone collectively knew they were dismissed at twelve-thirty.
Missing three-quarters of the class, the young lady was forced to ask her seat neighbour for notes. Turning to the young man beside her, she asked, “Hey, do you mind if I take a picture of your notes?”
He pulled out the notebook that he had just stuffed in his backpack and turned to the page where today’s lecture began. She quickly thanked him, captured the notes on her Nokia phone and apologized for the intrusion.
“Sorry about keeping you so late, classmate. If you hurry now, you can still make it for the last serving in the cafeteria.”
Seeing that he wasn’t the talkative type, she waved him off just as her stomach grumbled. Clutching her stomach, she remembered that she had missed breakfast and didn’t even to get to grab a snack before leaving out the door. She groaned internally. It really sucked living on her own.
Just when she thought she was finally alone in the room, she found the young man who lent his notes to her still standing at the doorway, looking at her. Slightly embarrassed, she straightened herself and pretended that everything was alright. She smiled awkwardly at him as she passed through the door.
She turned around, surprised to hear his voice. He possessed a charming voice that didn’t match his delinquent-like looks. Turning to see if he was talking to anybody else, she pointed to herself to make sure.
“Yeah. You. There’s no one else around. C’mon. I’ll show you a good to place to eat nearby. The cafeteria’s probably out of food by now.”
The girl checked her phone. It was already quarter to one and she knew he was right. She didn’t have another class until her 3-hour lab at six. Her options included vending machine snacks, wandering around until she found a good restaurant or following this perfect stranger.
Of course, she chose the latter. She wasn’t too familiar with the area even though this was her second year on campus. She was very directionally-challenged with or without a map. It was definitely better to follow someone who knew their way around. Besides, if he took her to somewhere suspicious, she’ll contact the campus security on speed dial.
When they exited the university doors, he took a right towards a residential area and a few more turns. He looked back every so often to make sure she was still following him. She struggled to keep up with his long strides. She estimated that he was around six feet tall, a clear contrast to her stature of five feet and four inches.
Finding herself panting from the lack of exercise, she asked, “Are-Are we there yet?”
She felt like she’d collapse from low blood sugar. She figured if she did pass away today, she’ll make sure to haunt this boy.
Finally, they reached a quaint noodle shop with the signboard, Ike-san. There were only a few customers now that the lunch rush was over.
“Choose a seat. I’ll go talk with the owner.”
Seeing him leave for the kitchen, she collapsed on one of the stools at the front counter. One of the waitresses was kind enough to give her water. She held the moist glass to her skin.
The glass quickly cooled her cheeks. Now that she wasn’t exposed to the summer heat, she could finally regain some of her senses. But there was still no food present so she kept her head down on the counter and closed her eyes to reserve the rest of her energy.
“Oi! Food’s here.” He set two large bowls down on the counter beside her. “It’s cold udon.”
Not hesitating, she raised her head and dove into the bowl with her chopsticks in one smooth motion. “Itadakimasu!”
After one bite, her eyes widened. “Mmm~ Sooo good~”
Halfway through the bowl, she paused and looked at him, gulping the last bit of noodles that were currently in her mouth. “Did you make this?”
He nodded as he ate.
“No way! I can only make eggs! Does your family own this shop?”
“Yeah. It’s been in the family for three generations now.”
“Oh. So, you’ll be taking over too once you’re done university?”
He chopsticks paused and she felt that she had accidentally touched on a sensitive topic. She quickly tried to change the topic after gulping the soup.
“You have to teach me your noodle ways, sensei.” I praised him. “This young grasshopper has long grown sick of eggs and processed foods.”
He laughed and ruffled her fluffy-looking auburn hair. “Alright. I’ll check with pops if he’s cool with that. It’s a bit late for introductions, but I’m Okabe Hiroyuki, second-year Literature major.”
He watched her eyes widen again.
“Yeah, I don’t look like the type that reads, right?”
She slowly nodded. He looked more like a delinquent.
“And you? What’s your name and major?”
She hesitated a bit before introducing herself. “Can you promise you not to laugh?”
“Second-year Chemistry major, Watari Naushika.”
Not even a second passed after she said her name did she hear him laugh. “It’s a Kira Kira name—You’re a water deer?!”
(A/N: Watari sounds like ‘water’ in English. Nau is the Japanese word for ‘now’. Shika is the Japanese word for ‘deer’.)
She groaned. She’s always hated this name because this was the reaction she always received, then there was the extensive explanation that followed.
“When my mom was pregnant with me, my dad had just bought a new car. Every day, he’d spend more time cleaning the car than taking care of my mom. You could hear ‘Now dear!’ being yelled in English every day. Somehow, it stuck so much that she just wrote it on my birth certificate in Japanese because she decided to live in Japan with my dad. Even though it was my dad’s fault, why am I the one who has to suffer the consequences?”
Throughout her explanation, she noticed Hiroyuki was laughing his head off from the corner of her eye.
“You know, Watari-san, everyone in class thinks you’re really cold so this was really surprising.”
“Me? Cold?” She thought back to the beginning of the term one month ago.
While everyone was busy with self-introductions with their neighbours, she had stuck to herself and ignored the ordeal. If she hadn’t suffered years of teasing with this name, she would’ve easily made friends by now.
“But now I get it. You really shouldn’t be so hung up on your name.” Hiroyuki once again ruffled her hair. “I feel bad for your siblings though. Your mom sucks at puns.”