Rainbow of the Horizon—Illuminating Our Darkened Path
June 15, Friday; 1:00PM.
As scheduled, club memberships and recruitment are set for the day. Just like the past years, the last period will be allotted for the said event and will last up to two hours.
It is the same scene where the five of us are found walking down the stairs to the Art Room.
"Man, it's hot today…"
"You get used to it."
"Stop with the memes, Shiro."
"Just bear with it, Nagi. Summer's about to end anyway.
Ah, Ringo. We haven't really been hanging out together, have we? Why don't we go out tomorrow?"
"Sure, I would love to."
"Well, I kind of get you two. My guess- no… I'm sure that you two are a bit tired of just hanging out with a boyfriend, right?"
"Yep," the two girls answered at the same time.
"Hey, Gin… Are you sure you know what you're saying?"
"What, Nagi? Before they get blunt, be blunt to yourself ahead of them.
And it's the reality that Rin and Shiro haven't gone out together ever since we all met. It's good to give them some time alone without us, you know."
I guess it's a nice change of pace. I'm pretty sure that Shiro will tell Ringo about complaints directed towards me. Perhaps the same goes for you too, Gin."
"Ha! You catch on quick, Nagi. Have one," and I gave him a fist bump.
"By the way, Jean. How's it going with you and Ai-san?"
"Huh… Well, we're messaging regularly but she's refusing on giving me pictures of the place they moved to for some reason. I wonder why?"
"Bff… Does she describe the place, at least?"
"Well, yeah she did. It's all positive descriptions but I still don't know where they live now. I kind of feel like something's up.
Wait a minute, aren't we walking too slowly? The Art Room is literally just a few meters from our room and we've talked this long?"
"Oh… I guess?"
"Mato-sen, we're here again to annoy you~" Nagi nonchalantly entered and said those words.
"Good to see you're energetic, Nagi. Then go ahead and put your names on the logs."
"Oh? Three new members? This is news to me?"
By the looks of it, the three are senior high school students and more specifically, from our class.
"Mori? Didn't expect to see you here."
It's no surprise that there are no difficulties for Nagi to converse with others especially that Mori Inari is his seatmate, which conversation is bound to happen.
"Good to see you here, Yuuga."
"Yeah… It'll be weird if I went to other clubs with how I've shown my things already."
Nagi's talkative today, I guess.
But with this name itself, Ginji already caught my attention.
"Hey there, Ginji. Nice to know that somehow also has the 'silver' in their name aside from me."
"Just call me G, Gin. Since you've already taken that name, might as well. Few people call me that anyway and it just suits the last syllable and the first letter of my name."
So what he meant is that "G" has the same sound as "ji" from "Ginji." I can see him being suitable for this club with that creativity.
"I'm not really talkative, though. I just got the feeling that you're introverted so I am at ease to communicate, to say the least."
"Oh… quite sharp too."
"I guess we may just have things that we're alike."
The scene is pretty much the same with how Mato-sen handles the first day of every club activities with giving us an hour of free drawing, sketching and painting to show what type of art is our forte.
The five of us had the same approach on what we drew just like last year. But it's surprising that our club now have three more members which totals up to eight members. No disbanding, at least.
Anyway, it does seem that Mori works best with graphite and black ink at most.
Ginji, on the other hand exclusively used leads to make a piece that probably shows his interest in character design.
But what we're most surprised is with Yuuga's artwork. Focusing initially on the line art, he has an outstanding control over his inking that even the long strokes doesn't even seem like a challenge for him. But there's also the coloring in which he seemed to hesitate on doing at first. It follows a certain and appropriate depth wherein the placement of highlights to shadows are on point. Dare I say he's like a professional at this.
"By the way, Mato-sen. What's up with the PC?"
"Ah, that. The school provided that of course. But at this point in time, it only has office and free painting software in it. For the meantime, I think we won't have any problem with storage."
"Around ten, I think."
"WHAT?! That's insane! I only have two terabytes on my personal machine but this is a beast!" I exclaimed as I catch my eyeballs that almost flew out.
"Then again, we need to earn some for our club budget to afford a better suite."
"Just to be sure, Mato-sen. We're not getting the one with a deadly monthly subscription," Nagi jokingly uttered.
"Of course we won't. But we'll have to do a lot of work for that. We'll plan to sell prints in the web community and at least make a name in it.
We'll just be running like headless chickens, otherwise."
"You heard what Mato-sen said. Though the last few years weren’t successful, consider this something like a job or work. Of course, it's not compulsory as it may hinder our studies at any given situation," Jean briefly explained to the three.
"Yes, considering it as a job makes it more realistic as we members will get a fair share from the earnings, although low," I added.
"Now that gives me another reason to like this school. The system is nice and very hands-on; I guess it really resembles what's to be seen far ahead."
"You can interpret it that way, G."
▪ ▪ ▪
More than a week has passed and things are going down well. We're slowly getting the way of the life of being a senior high school student and it is believed to be more widened as time goes by.
It's as Tenth have said, you will enjoy things if you love what you do.
"Hey, Gin~ C'mere."
"What~ Mato-sen. I was just about to draw."
"We need to restock our papers and we ought to have more ink since we have Yuuga's addition in mind. I'll have to ask you to get them.
Also, try to buy some of the tea that Ringo brought here."
"Right, ri~ght. Rin, do you still have some in-"
"G, go accompany Gin."
"I don't really remember, Gin. But try to ask Mom if there are any," even with my unfinished question, Rin answered anyway.
"At least sign a gate pass for us.
We'll be going, then."
"Gin, at least try to change your shirt."
"Yeah, I get it."
With that, G and I made our way outside of the school.
Wait, when you think of it, "G" and "I" sounds kinda weird with just one letter.
"Hmm… I think what Mato gave should be enough."
"Hey, Gin. What's with the 'change your shirt' thing earlier?"
"Ah, it's to avoid making any issue of students coming out of the school in the school hours. If we're seen without identical clothing, there's not much of a problem and our uniform is pretty common outside the school."
"I see… so you live nearby?"
"Yep. I live between White and Cerulean Street."
"Around the intersection, huh.
To tell you the truth, I also live here in White Street."
"Seriously? Why have I not seen you?"
"I've lived my life in this place. I'd assume that you live around house number 270+. We live at 260."
"Oh, quite near to mine, huh. I'm at 275.
Wait, we're already here, huh. What you see right now is our family house. This is where my parents, a brother and a younger sister live currently."
"So you moved out?"
"For the most part. My mother's probably inside."
And after walking a few steps, we stopped in front of Rin's house and knocked.
"Just a sec.
Auntie? Is anyone here?"
After a few moments, Aunt Sumi opened the door with a slightly shocked face.
"Gin…! That shocked me. It's still school hours, what are you doing outside school?"
"Running some errands and Rin is asking if you still have raspberry tea. If not, we're about to buy some."
"Let me look."
"Sorry to tell but we ran out of it."
"That's fine, Auntie. We'll be going then. Bye."
"Who was that, Gin?"
"Oh? Wait, you said you live in between White and Cerulean Street. Which means… we're here at your house?
Woah, this house is big for one person."
"I know right," I opened the door and invited G inside. "Can you play with Haku while I am changing?"
"Your cat, I guess?"
Don't worry. He's not glaring at you right now."
"Well, we look a little alike…"
~ ~ ~
Around the same time, back at the school…
Girl students are talking about a guy inside the school, in which it was a very feminine response to it.
"H-Hey, look… You see that guy over there?"
"Yeah, yeah…! Isn't he handsome?!"
"Waaahhh~ I wonder if he's the same age as us."
"I wanna know his name…"
"Oh…! He's going towards the admin's office."
"You're right. I wonder who he is…"
And one careful observation stood out over those superficial looks. Yui Akina, who is together with Anzu Yumie in a bench made her eyes roll to the man's movements until he got inside the office building.
Though the keen eyes of hers were thoroughly observant, not a hint of ill intent was shown but only innocence and curiosity was behind those eyes.
"Hello~ Knocking on the door. Please open."
"Hahh… just come in, alright?"
As to who opened the door is someone with very similar facial features of the principal, but with a different vibe that he emits.
"Sorry I was late, Dad."
Akira Juushiro, 16; an Exile.
"Any news, Akira?"
"Well, Makoto's still Ken's test subject, pretty much. Makoto has been always assisting with the PD through Detective Artecus, so the suits are always put to the tests. So far, modifications and efficiency is going well.
Ken, on the other hand, made some breakthrough about his ability. He discovered that it was simply similar to Gin's, where he has tapped on what truly is behind his unrealistic biological characteristic. To put it simply, there are actually no side effects to his forced system stoppage, just like how Gin utilizes his Bone Regeneration.
The progress was thought to be slow because of how the neural surgery affected him."
"I see… Sorry for not being able to come down to the base a lot. School's plainly taking my time."
"That's why you're the principal, Dad."
"Anyways, I'll have one last job for you, Akira.
There are some people that I need inquiry about. Even at my position, it's difficult to gather information," Tenth then followed up with handing out papers to Akira wherein it seems to contain individual data.
"Hmm… I'll have to figure out how to do this…
But I guess staying around the area will be the best."
"Well, just keep yourself in the shadows."
"Leave it to me."
~ ~ ~
"So you're neighbors with Ringo?"
As we continue our idle chat, we made our way to accomplish the tasks at hand.
"I guess I really haven't seen you around when coming to school."
"Well, we both walk to school and sometimes we're with my sister."
"You two seem really close."
"That could just be expected to next-door neighbors. We established a well-built relation in both our families because of that.
Both fathers are drinking buddies too. Well, sometimes."
"Are you in a relationship with Ringo, by any chance?"
"Haha. Your confident declaration is scary."
"By the way, you seem to be very communicative for an introvert."
"You're an introvert and all as well, so I don't really have many problems about it. My intuition tells me that I don't need to hold back when talking to you. Besides, I'm not really like this…"
"Because we just shut our mouths when it is not needed."
"How are you faring with Blue Ink, anyways?"
"Hmm… I guess I'm quite comfortable. With the peculiar system and such, I settled in quicker than expected. To tell you the truth, I dislike the concept of rankings and honors since it creates unnecessary hierarchy.
I naively thought that people think of honor students as individuals who are always intelligent. And to be honest, that belief is suffocating.
I've been an honor student from third year and I didn't take the pressure and the expectations of being one. Our life does not only revolve in our studies. Being cream of the crop does not mean that one will surely become successful.
But then again, strong favors over the weak. Intelligent goes to the top and those who lack are disregarded.
I just want to live a normal school life where I can prove that I'm not a smart guy whatsoever. In truth, I'd rather be called dumb and stupid, but I ended up calling myself first."
"Way to end those with a joke. I'll treat you a burger after this.
But man, you're entirely right, at least on my own perspective. We kind of stand in the same notions, in fact. The world is pretty much manipulated by power in which it resulted to what it is now. Joseph Horach is a good example. He used his political power to gain over the people, but without clarity on what is to be expected. In his eyes, things will fall down to the annihilation of those who are not needed.
We're sort of like opposites who still have so many similarities. As much as I want to, I want to live a normal life. But things just get in the way from time to time. I regretted my past way of living, where I ran away from the fright and pain, but I realized that those were unavoidable.
Well, I'm happier with my life right now. I have family and friends. That's enough to keep me from giving up in life."
Gin… are you seriously just 18?"
"Don't doubt my age. I'm pretty old myself, though."
"You've got a lot of experience at such an early age. I don't know how to feel, seriously."
"So you can tell?"
"It's obvious from your words. And I am least confident with my observation ability."
"Hahaha. We really do have a lot in common, aye. I hope to talk with you a lot with these things. You yourself is perceptive, you know."
"Yeah, I'd love to talk more on how you dislike humans- I mean, nothing."
And so, my stomach rumbled soundly.
"Apples… I better treat you a burger quickly."
"Looking at you, I think a half-pound would just be barely enough for you."
"Hey, I'm not that much of a glutton."
~ ~ ~
"Ringo, aren't those two taking their time?"
"Hm? I guess… I wonder if they're having a hard time finding the tea."
The other two new members stared with confusion.
"Well, you see… Aside from art, tea is the second thing that is in our heads."
~ ~ ~
Just when I thought that our conversation has already ended, it still continued in a restaurant.
"They are probably thinking that we are somehow taking our time.
Thanks for the treat, by the way."
"No problem, but that's only for today. I only treat Rin, originally.
But I guess it's good that we didn't take long finding the tea. It's hard to find, but oh well."
"Now that you mention her, you affirmed that you two are in a relationship, right?"
"Just out of curiosity.
I'd assume you met in school?"
"She was a transfer student along with Shiro last year. And because we are a bunch of otakus, that's where it all began.
But it was to our surprise that we first met as first years, although just briefly."
"That could just mean that it hasn't been a year yet, knowing that Blue Ink started school last year in August."
"September, specifically. That was a time when I was still recovering from injuries from an accident that took two years to heal. That's also why I am 18 instead of the average age."
"That's only the tip of the iceberg, though."
"Injuries? What kind?"
"Apples. Shouldn't have said that."
"Mostly physical injuries. It's hard making contact with several tonnes of pressure to your whole body."
"Ugh… that sounds like a lot of fracture. Let's not talk about that anymore since I can somehow relate. And September…
But I'm still curious with you two. Don't get jealous, Gin. I swear I'm only curious."
But were you already aware of the possibility before knowing our situation earlier?"
"Kind of. Though it was hard to make a conclusion since you two don't really look like a couple."
"There is an unwritten rule in Blue Ink that says: 'Display and public disclosure of romantic relationship… is a nay.'"
"Wait… seriously? Is that the original quotation?"
"Yep. We can't argue about that. But that pretty much sums up why we look so indifferent despite our seemingly 'friendly' closeness inside the school. Not that we brag about it or something (But I sometimes do).
A few people knowing about it will do, but you'll get a lot of attention if everyone knows."
"That's simply amazing.
Though, this is only opinionated but I do think that it's kind of early, more specifically with Ringo."
"I get what you mean. Minus a year to our age and it does look like that in any way you look at it. Then again, I want our relationship to be better in the future. She was even the one that made the suggestions instead of me, surprising as it is.
She made the good call of leveling our relationship to some fair extent. I agreed immediately, and it turned out to be a real promise that I can never break, otherwise… Yeah, otherwise."
"Otherwise, yeah. I can imagine what could happen. But you don't look like someone so trashy to do that."
But I do try to correct my mountain load of mistakes and regrets that I still carry on to my shoulders from my childhood up to this day."
"From childhood…? Wha…"
"All of us have a past. Not only me."
"Hmm… I can a hundred percent agree with that."
"A 'dark' past is what Gin meant, huh."
"Now, now… G is not even denying what's behind his agreement."
I have realized that G is not very ordinary, just like me. I can interpret that his reactions are drawing parallel to what I think, which I can relate to. Having the same perception of reality, I felt that there is something in him that I need to be wary of.
What I can say to this point is that… I have found another shadow.
"Having expressed our lives into words, I see now that we can get along well, Gin."
I get it. Let's go back to school now. The others might be waiting."
We sat with sour expressions, and we stood with a smile. At the very least, I got to understand who he is, and he understood who I am. Having to meet someone who can comprehend my instability as a human, is truly unprecedented.
~ ~ ~
"Hey, you two. Fifteen minutes late!"
"Sorry, Mato-sen. I can't help but clean my house first on the way back. (He actually did)"
"Gin's house is so big for someone to live alone. (He actually helped)"
"I hear that a lot.
Anyways, here's the tea, Mato-sen. Ah, let me make you all a cup to make up for being late."
"I'll help. We're both late."
"Hmm… That's quite strange for Gin to be close to others he doesn't really know. What do you think, Shiro?" Nagi's thoughts voiced out.
"It certainly is rare to see… Your thoughts, Ringo?" and the question were then passed on the one that knows the man the best.
"I'd say that something happened earlier when they were out."
"Geez… Ringo. You're totally sounding like Gin now."
"Ehehe… But that's the best I can say even in the face of that. Even if my assumption is true, I can't guarantee that he will say anything to me.
But it's nice to see him making friends."
With those words said, the two stared suspiciously along with Jean who was just quietly listening. And thus he finally spoke.
"It confuses me if you are a wife that loves his husband sincerely, or a mother that is very proud of his son."
"Jean, Ringo is a girlfriend."
"Right, girlfriend. Even though you didn't mean anything more than that, Nacchi, it still bothers me hearing that."
"Ah, about Ai-san, huh. You're so helpless."
"Well? This is rare."
My phone suddenly lit up with a call from a very unusual name that came up.
It has been a while since I last communicated with Akira.
"I wonder what's up for him to call out of the many days…
I almost forgot that Mato does not know of Akira's circumstances.
"Hello~ Mr. Still-Not-Showing-Your-Face-For-Two-Months."
"Hey, Gin. It's been a while since we last talked, huh. Where are you right now?"
"I'm with the others right now in the usual."
"Aw, shucks. Sorry I didn't drop by earlier. Dad's giving me work here and there. I guess this is part of being an Exile."
I whispered: "You'll get used to it soon. Even though I'm a resurfaced, I used to do work there too.
Wait, so you mean that you were here at school?"
"Yeah… I went out immediately, though. But I'm glad that this one from Dad will be my last major job.
I can set a date to get us all to meet up perhaps next month. I miss the times a few months ago."
"I'll let them know after school. I'm sure they'll be happy to know too. I look f-"
At that point a lightning of an idea struck my head and a rather smug smile curved to my mouth.
"I do look forward to seeing you again. Expect for a surprise."
"Wow. Making me shake my brain, huh? Knowing you, you wouldn't be saying something like a surprise to someone. Oh well, I'll figure it out later.
Sorry Gin, I'm doing some kind of research. I'll have to hang up now."
"Yes, yes. Good luck with work."
"Who's that, Gin? You looked a little surprised."
"A friend that previously studied here.
Tea's here, let's take a break."
~ ~ ~
I was seen to be looking around in a very omnidirectional manner as we were sat under the oldest tree in the school. With how I suspiciously acted, the company looked very confused.
"No one is around us, right?"
Hey, Gin. Quit acting weird, won't you?"
"What? We can't talk about an Exile with a lot of people around, you know. We may be free people now, but we are still in the shadows."
"Huuuhhh… What's up for you to be telling us something important?"
"It's not significantly related to our people, really. It's just that Akira was here earlier and he didn't even wave at us."
"Huh?! Akira was here?!"
"I got a call from him earlier at the Art Room saying he was at the office receiving a job from Tenth and left immediately. It seems that he's still busy."
"Wait… now that I remember… I was hearing some things about a handsome guy entering the office earlier," Rin revealed with her eyebrows curving down.
"Though, it's unlikely to be Akira," and so she added.
"Oof… I also don't think Akira would be some sort of an ikemen just after becoming an Exile," stated by Nagi with confidence.
"Continuing… He will probably be free from his work after this month so he was planning on putting a meet-up next month."
"Ohhh… so faceless decided to show his face now, huh."
"I'm faceless too, Jean.
So if he's that good-looking hot stuff, then he has a surprise with just his face, huh. I already flagged a surprise to him too, so this is going to be fun."
"Uhh… Gin. Your smirk is scary."
"1 and 9. Fufufufu…"
Aside from Jean, the three directed a thumbs-up to me meaning that they knew what I'm up to. Easy alphabet.
Why do I feel like I'm being left out…"
"It's getting late. I have to go home now."
"Ahhh. Thanks for the heads up, Shiro. I lost track of time. I guess we should go home now."
"Off we go."
You've finished reading 015!
While NoFutsuu is focused less on introducing a whole lot more characters, I would suppose that in this story it will be otherwise. I've always wanted this story not to only feature the main characters most of the time to give the story a bit more color. I'm aware that it would be very difficult to introduce so many characters and connect the dots, but que sera sera!
Thanks for reading!
016: It's been a while, Akira,
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