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Chapter 7

"Akane, are you okay? We've heard from Marumi what happened to you!"

"That person must be a creep!"

"He's a stalker—an obsessed stalker. And it's really scary."

"Hey, if I had a stalker and he was handsome, I'd gladly let him do whatever he wants~!"

"That's ridiculous."

"I wish my stalker was Minoru-senpai~!"

Sometimes, I don't understand people. They appear worried and then dreamy the next. It's not 'cool' when you have a stalker—it's scary. And from what happened, I wouldn't really wish for a stalker. I heaved a deep breath. So much for laying low.

With all these students crowding around my desk, I...

"Hey, hey, stop with that. Akane's been dealing with a lot of stress lately and you guys are adding up to that," Marumi said, pushing them aside with both of her arms. "C'mon, give her a break you guys."

"Awww, stingy!"

"We want to know what happened!"

She scratched the back of her head as she grabbed a seat from the nearest desk and sat across me, "Trust me, I have no idea how it spread so fast."

I stifled a laugh, "It's okay. It's better that way."

She looked at me, "Why?"

"Because then, if majority of the students in the school knows, don't you think it'd be easier to find out the culprit's identity?"

"But we're not sure if the person IS a student here." She shrugged, "Maybe it's some thug somewhere."

"That's creepier."

She laughed and tapped me on the shoulder, "But you don't need to worry, you're with me."

I nodded and managed a smile, "Yeah. Lucky me."

Homeroom then began. I pretty much dozed off in class and kept looking outside the window. I had my pen between my lips and my cheek was rested on the heel of my palm as I leaned my elbow on the desk. I sighed.

Personally, I believe it's a big advantage that some of my classmates know about what happened because it'd be much easier to narrow down the suspect. It's not that I have some solid proof that it's someone from the class or school but I just have this gut feeling...Yeah, that thing that both Finn and Jake always keep talking about. Ha ha. Funny.

"Alright, that's all for today."

I looked at the professor as the school bell rang followed by the clattering of the desks and the growing murmurs of the students. I grabbed my things and put them in my bag. Marumi approached me, "Hey, someone's here for you."

Jin's face immediately popped in my head, "Jin's here?"

She blinked. Her azure eyes squinted, "You...do you have something about that delinquent?"

For a second there, the question made my heart skip a beat, "Wh-What are you talking about. It's not like that. We're just friends. It's just that I haven't received any messages from him neither have I seen him in school."

The corner of her lips lifted, "Really. So you were looking for him." I was about to protest when she added, "You won't be saying you haven't seen him in school if you weren't looking for him, right?" When I didn't answer, she continued, "Listen, I'm not the brightest when it comes to studies but girl, your best friend is a love guru."

"Pfft, okay. Whatever you say." But seriously, I just want to thank the guy for what he's done for me. "So," I started as I tilted my head so I could see who was standing by the doorframe, "Who did you say was waiting for..." my voice trailed off when I saw him there, leaning his back on the doorframe, his hand in his pocket. He was looking down and his eyes seemed staring into a distance. Slowly, he raised his head and my eyes met with those green eyes of his, "Akane."

His voice made my heart pound violently in my chest, as if asking to be let out. My breath got stuck in my throat and I could feel my eyes bulging out. A surge of excitement filled my chest I found it harder to breathe. "Mi-Mino...—ugp!" I threw questioning eyes at Marumi for elbowing me. "Why?" I mouthed.

"Calm down, jeezus," she laughed. "I'll wait for you by the gate, okay?" Without even waiting for my reply, she headed off.

"Akane, can I uh..."

I looked at Minoru-senpai, "O-Oh! I'm sorry. Umm, you...you could come in." Why do I feel like someone who owns an office and here's a visitor who even has to ask for my permission to come in? Senpai, you don't need to ask me.

His pace was slow, as if he was being careful around me. When he was at an arm's length, he stopped and looked into my eyes with an expression full of worry, "How have you been?"

I stared at him, as if trying to memorize every inch of his face. The orange painted sky's colour had seeped its way into the curtains as the wind slowly blew it. His chocolate-kissed hair was swaying gently. How breathtaking can this guy get? "I'm...I think I'm doing fine," I answered meekly and looked down. Then before he could answer, I heaved a deep breath and looked up at him again and smiled, "I'm okay! Hehe."

He looked taken aback but that was for a second because he, too, smiled at me, "That's good to hear. You weren't hurt, were you?"

I blinked, "What do you mean?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. I..." he scratched his nape and looked away, "I heard from the girls about what happened last night. I'm just worried." He looked at me again, "You weren't hurt?"

"Uhh..." I looked down, "No, physically speaking. But...I don't think my mind's okay." Then I raised my head and forced a smile, "Hehe."

What happened was too fast I wasn't able to react immediately. He had pulled me into a hug. His arms wrapped around me as if they were the strongest armour I could wear to protect myself from any harm. It was warm and it felt as if I was meant to be in his arms. I could hear his heart beating, in sync with mine. I could feel his breath at the top of my head as he tightened the hug. He was gripping my shoulders. "I'm sorry, Akane..."


"I should have been there." He sounded as if he was in pain. As if he was suffering, "I'm really sorry." My eyes started to blur but I tried hard to fight back the tears. "You must've been so scared. My chest just feels tight whenever I think about what you had been through. I'm sorry, Akane." Every word he said were like feathers brushing my heart, trying to ease the fear in me. That was it. My tears started to fall one after another I hadn't noticed I was already crying. He tried to calm me down as he ran his hand through my back, leaving a trail of comforting heat. I bit my bottom lip to stop my tears and breathed deep.

"I-It's okay, Minoru-senpai," I said, my voice a bit croaked. "I'm okay, anyway." He loosened the hug but kept me at arm's length. I looked at him, at his pain-stricken face. "Thank you for worrying about me so much, senpai. Y-You're a really great upperclassman."

He locked gaze with mine and said in a serious tone, "I wouldn't be this worried about just anyone, Akane." I wasn't able to muster a reply because emotions whirled in me. Then he smiled, "Do you know why?"

My heart pounded harder, the beating ringing in my ears. I could feel my eyes slowly growing wider as he spoke, "Ever since I laid eyes on you when you passed by one day, clutching your books and you walking alone in that crowd of students, you looked so fragile something in me told me that I should protect this girl. When you would glance at me with those eyes so innocent, the desire in me just grows. I've always noticed you stealing glances from me, Akane. I think you're aware of that."

My cheeks heated up, "I-I was..."

"And I wouldn't know that if I weren't looking at you, too, don't you think?"

Everything, including my heart, almost stopped.

He heaved a deep breath and half-sat on the desk behind him, his arm was on top of his lap as he clasped his hands together. His hair almost covered his eyes as he looked down at his hands, "Truth is, whenever you'd go to the library and return some books, I would always look at the stamp—so I could find out what your name was. And then I was so lucky when I was passing time there by the cherry tree. I didn't expect I'd find you there, behind that window, with your eyes closed—as if you were making a wish. That was it. I wasn't able to stop myself from approaching you." Then he raised his head and smiled shyly, "I must've felt like a creep, knowing what your name was and acting all chummy with you."

"Se..Senpai.." I want to say something, I want to do something but why is it that no matter how much words would scream in my head, nothing would come out?

"Akane, I want to be there with you. I want to stand next to you and protect you from everything that could harm you..." Then he stood up, held my hand and looked into my eyes, "Would you let me do just that?"

"Senpai, I..." Something surged in me, pushing the words I've always wanted to tell him, "I like you!"

He blinked. His green eyes grew wider in surprise but that was only for a second because he forced a smile, "Oh, you mean my eyes?"

"No!" I squeezed his hand, looked down, heaved a deep breath and raised my head and said as bravely as I could, "I have been liking you for a long time now and it just makes me so happy hearing those words from you I don't even know if I'm still dreaming I mean I'm even ranting here on my own—"

He pulled me into a hug once more and embraced me with his warmth. "I could just tell you the same thing. Akane, from here on out, I promise to never leave your side."

I nodded and nodded. My eyes started to water.

Little did I know that I was already knee-deep in my own grave.

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