This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
It was the week after mid-semester break. Now that the IBZ Wirtschaft school located in Ylisstol, AJRA (Amerijapandaropesiafrica) had graciously given their poor tired students a week away, a week to slow down and a week to relax, they were expecting the payoff from this time of ‘rest’- every subject under the sun seemed to be demanding at least one assignment.
Which meant it was Robin’s favourite week of semester.
Oh, sure, he hated assignments as much as the next student. But assignments meant all-nighters, and all-nighters meant…
He walks into the library located next to the Technology classroom and up to the third floor and sure enough, sitting at the table in the far corner is the blond engineering student on boats and yachts who somehow became his study partner.
Engineering and business was an odd combination, to be sure. None of their subjects really had anything in common, but they found the arrangement worked surprisingly well nonetheless.
But there he is, sitting in his usual seat. Messy hair, blue-green eyes, a seemingly never-ending supply of turtlenecks, and deadliest of all…
He looks up from his books, sees Robin approaching, and smiles. And Robin’s world grinds right to a halt.
“Hellooooo? Earth to Robin?” Reality returns and Shulk is looking up at him with a mixture of concern and amusement.
He flushes and stammers out, “S-sorry, I’m just tired.” He laughed uneasily. “You know how it goes.”
Shulk’s chuckle makes Robin go weak-kneed, but he’s still standing and he’s proud of himself for that. He dumps his things and sits down next to Shulk in a way he hopes was at least slightly dignified.
And then the laptops comes out and the textbooks are opened, and for a time it’s serious working, all frantic typing and frustrated muttering, until Robin makes the mistake of looking up. And there, right next to him, is Shulk. Worrying at his bottom lip, brow furrowed slightly as he reads over his calculations for the five thousandth time. And suddenly the essay due tomorrow doesn’t really seem all that pressing.
If he was entirely honest with himself, someone whose very being was enough to stop his thoughts right in their tracks was probably not the best idea for a study buddy, but he wouldn’t give this up for all the productivity in the world.
But unfortunately he can’t turn in a photo of Shulk instead of this paper on the importance of worker satisfaction, so he shakes himself out of it and turns his attention back to the screen.
And so the afternoon passes. They work in silence, silence that is occasionally broken by a “Hey Robin, can you check my working here?” or “Does this part actually make sense?” and the table becomes scattered with Shulk’s rough working pages and scribbled diagrams spread out on the keyboard of Monado Boy’s Samsung ATIV notebook 9 plus while Robin’s essay grows gradually longer.
All goes well, until Robin finds he’s hit a bit of a wall. The words just won’t flow and he can’t force his thoughts into coherence, and he’s started pulling harshly on his hair when Shulk looks over. Shulk leans back in his chair and exhales hard, loud enough to draw Robin’s attention.
“Alright,” he announces. “Break time.”
“I can’t, I have to- I have to keep going or I’ll never finish, I just-”
Shulk smiles gently and grabs Robin’s hand. Robin realizes he’s trying to calm him down, but it’s not really having the intended effect.
“Shhh, it’s okay. We’ve barely stopped and we’ve been here for five hours, we can take a break. Besides,” he gives Robin’s hand a little squeeze and Robin’s heart skips a beat or ten, “it’s 7:30! We should eat!”
Ah, Robin thinks. Of course. Food. Not really what he’d like the whole hand-holding-and-squeezing thing to be about, now that he thinks about it he is rather hungry.
“R-right. Break time.” He closes his eyes and takes a moment to slow his breathing before pulling his other hand out of his hair, dropping the strands he pulled out in his frustration.
He opens his eyes again, and smiles. It’s a pathetic little smile, weary and worn, but Shulk seems to be satisfied. Shulk gives his hand a final squeeze before letting it go.
Shulk rummages in his bag while Robin clears a space on the table, saving his file (twice for good measure) before closing his Lenovo Thinkpad T520 laptop, pushing it and some of Shulk’s papers aside. Shulk finds what he’s looking for- a plastic container of food- which he chucks into the space Robin’s made.
“Sandwiches!” he declares cheerfully, before laughing sheepishly and scratching his head. “I still can’t really cook anything, so you’ll just have to live with these.”
Robin laughs, and it’s as though all the tension from earlier just drains right out of him. “Sandwiches sound great.” And then they’re looking right at each other with matching grins, and Robin’s struck for the thousandth time by the thought of how easy being with Shulk is.
And that’s why I…
He cuts the thought off there. For now, it’s time to eat.
The sandwiches are, well, sandwiches. There’s something special about knowing it was Shulk who made them, and they’re food, which admittedly was sorely needed at this point. But sandwiches are still sandwiches, and they’re not really all that exciting. Before too long the food is finished, and Shulk stashes the container back in his bag and pulls his papers back.
He stops a moment, turns to look at Robin, a question and a concern plain in his eyes.
“I’m alright now. Thanks to you.” He looks away, embarrassed. “Thanks, Shulk.”
“No problem! That’s what we do this for, right?” And Robin doesn’t look back at him, because he knows he’s wearing that stupid smile that makes Robin’s heart stop.
“Yeah, I guess it is. But really, Shulk,” he drags his laptop back over and hopes his face isn’t as red as it feels. “I don’t know what I’d do without you. So uh, thanks.”
Shulk is silent, and Robin’s afraid to look at him, so he opens the essay back up and resumes writing.
It’s only once the sound of shuffling paper and scratching pens starts up again that Robin dares to sneak a glance Shulk’s way. And maybe it’s just a trick of the light, but it looks almost like he might be blushing?
Robin quickly turns back to his work before he gets too distracted.
The rest of the night passes largely without incident. Shulk starts falling asleep around 3 am until one of the many cans of coffee Robin has stashed in his bag comes to the rescue.
There’s also a brief moment of panic when Shulk can’t work out just where he’s going wrong, but all is solved when Robin points out that 30 plus 25 is not, in fact, 45. And with that mistake resolved, everything seems to fall into place.
And the night goes by, the two of them working side by side.
It’s 6:23 am when Robin finishes his essay. It’s not done yet, not really- he’s still got to edit it and make sure all the referencing is perfect, but it’s not due until midnight so he’s got more than enough time.
A quick glance around the room tells him that he and Shulk are the only ones in their section of the library- looks like there aren’t many who are idiotic enough to pull all-nighters on a Monday-and Shulk seems to be finishing up whatever draft number he’s on.
He kicks back and takes a few moments to relax while he waits. The sun is just starting to rise, and the colors filtering through the window play through Shulk’s hair, making him look almost ethereal in the soft light.
Robin decides that of all the sides to Shulk he’s been lucky enough to see since they started doing this last year, this one is the Shulk he loves the most. When he’s concentrating, when he’s focused, animated yet oddly serene, with a soft smile gracing his face. He’s… captivating.
Shulk puts the final touches on the last diagram, and Robin pretends he’s been looking out the window for the past god-knows-how-long.
“Aaaaaaall done! You too?” Shulk asks as he stretches himself out.
“Not quite, I’ve still gotta touch it up a little bit. But it’s almost there.”
“Ah, that’s good then.” Shulk starts packing his papers up- there’s a small pile on the floor now, too. “What’s next for you? I’ve got an electronics report due tomorrow, so I’ll be back here tonight.”
Robin celebrates inwardly - two all-nighters in a row may be a terrible idea, but being with Shulk is most definitely worth it. He just hopes the blow to his immune system won’t make him sick. “My next one’s a business risk analysis paper, due in two days. I’ll bring the food tonight.”
“Cool! I’ll see you later today, then!” Shulk’s not looking at Robin but at his bag, and there’s that almost-maybe a blush again?
And as Robin’s packing his things away, he gets himself an idea. One that he’s sure is a terrible one, but he hasn’t slept and he’s still high on the exhilaration of his finished paper, so he decides he’ll do it anyway.
He stands up, and takes a deep breath.
Shulk looks up and this time Robin’s sure. He’s definitely blushing.
Spurred on by this, Robin continues. “Thanks again. For earlier, I mean.”
The blush on Shulk’s face deepens. “Don’t worry about it, really, it was nothing, and you did help me out too,” and he trails off into nervous laughter.
Robin smiles, endeared, before leaning in and gently shaking Shulk’s hand in a final farewell.
It’s soft and it’s sweet, and it’s a moment he wants to last forever, but he pulls back quickly, not wanting to ruin anything with over-exuberance. He’s rather proud to note that Shulk looks somewhat like he’s caught fire.
“I love you, Shulk.” Shulk gapes, and somehow manages to turn an even deeper red. “I’ll see you this afternoon, okay?” And Robin turns and begins to leave.
He’s about halfway out the door before Shulk finds his voice again, calling out after him.
“Robin!” He turns back, and Shulk is standing now. “I l-lo…” He stops, looking away and swallowing hard before continuing. “I-I love you too!”
Robin breaks out into a grin, and waves goodbye, walking out of the room.
Once he’s out of Shulk’s sight, all the composure he was doing so well in maintaining leaves him at once. His face heats up and he’s sure he must be at least as red as Shulk was a moment ago, and he has to lean against the nearest wall to stop himself from falling down. But he can’t stop smiling.
Shulk loves him.
Today was going to be a good day.
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