Rainbow of the Horizon—Illuminating Our Darkened Path
Another day, and another time for someone to knock on my door.
"Yeeess~ on my way.
With who knows how many times has this story made a door-opening scene, this time, I'm genuinely surprised again but not with the same level when an adult Ryou Yugare went in this house.
"Uhh… Hello, Minase and Erika… How may this humble person help you?"
Indeed, they are Rin's friends from Wisteria.
However, as if they did not hear my greeting, they stood without saying anything.
Clarification: it seems that they are in a daze.
"Umm… Minamina-chan? Eri-chan?" again, I called out, trying to pull them back to reality this time.
Having called by their somewhat embarrassing nicknames made them snap and flinch with their cheeks suddenly blushing red.
"Ah- Uhh- Umm… Is Ringo around, G-Gin?"
They stood straight, while Minase stuttered.
"Oh. Before that, you two should come in first. I can't have you staying outside in this cold weather. I'll serve some tea, so please have a seat."
They flinched… again. Regardless, I accompanied them to the living room, while they still show an uptight behavior.
Gin having gone to the kitchen…
"Apples… I'm getting some serious deja vu…!" he made a rather frightened face as he tightly held on the edges of the counter.
"No… this ain't it, right?! Of course it can't be…! But this thought rejection will just produce the opposite effect…!"
This has indeed happened to Gin at some point in his fourth year. More so, he is seeing almost the same scene from that past. What is it, then?
The time when he was having suspicions of Rin, romantically!
After he came back from Room of Reality, he had observed that Rin's behavior towards him suddenly changed, making it awkward for both of the two. Specifically, Rin will immediately turn red just seeing him…
"Apples. They're looking at me…"
…and steal glances when Gin is looking away. It wasn't much of a basis in reality, but having seen it for how many times, it just became a memory hard to erase.
"That is, if I have my memories intact."
Oi, don't butt in with the narration.
He had come to hypothesize that Rin had feelings for him, but denied the possibility only to accept it once again.
In any case, there is a high chance that the situation is a one-way route!
"UUUUUGGGHHHHH…!" for a moment, he came to his mental realm to bash his head on the white wall as Kuro watched him dash.
You okay there, me?
Gin raised a thumbs-up and dashed back to reality.
~ ~ ~
"Sorry for the wait. Here's the tea."
"T-T-Thank you very much…!"
"Thank goodness they are not the type to suddenly switch their behaviors to be extremely nonchalant.
My girlfriend is weird after all."
Of course, Rin sneezed somewhere.
"So… you're looking for Rin, right?"
"Ah, y-yes. We want to pull her with us to go hang out. We haven't really seen her a lot."
"And he also has a boyfriend, so…
Hmph," Erika suddenly sulked.
"Somehow, I kind of feel that they are jealous…"
But with the topic being shifted, they finally managed to calm down.
"Is it not okay, or is she not around today?"
"Ah, no. That's always okay. I don't decide for what she does, alright?
But Minase is right that she's not around today."
"Oh, I see…" they silently looked down.
Their disappointment was apparent, even if they perhaps tried to hide it. Having observed their meekness, Gin attempted to lighten up the mood.
"She's not around here because you came to the wrong place."
Their heads lifted up and their palms went on top of their knees. Suddenly, the stares towards him made a little pressure around.
"Rin moved back to her house a few days ago. It's kinda lame how I'm so sad saying goodbye when she just lives next door.
Hahh… Her not being around makes me miss her."
HOLD UP. I think I just heard a tongue clicked.
Indeed, he heard. Though, it was absent to his awareness to whom it may have come from. But in truth, it was Erika who did in a flash.
"It's all coming true… Characteristics of anime and manga really are transporting to the real world… The line is blurring…"
Oi, you just realized that? suddenly, Kuro spoke in his head.
"But what happened? For Ringo to have left already… did you two get in a fight?"
Now the eyes of the two sparkled in relief.
"Ah, no. We've been through fights, yes. But it's just that I've recovered from my illness."
This time, their expressions went serious and blank. Then, their eyes directed to his hair for the umpteenth time.
"I almost forgot that we've already told you about my sleeping disorder. But my hair doesn't have anything to do with it. This is natural though!" and he pointed his finger on his head.
"Ooohhh… That's really nice."
"Yeah, yeah. They make you look a thousand notches better."
"I-Is that so… Thanks."
Though, he has been screaming internally for a while.
"Yawn~" from the stairs came an exhausted voice. "Hey, lil bro… is lunch ready…?"
Who came down was none other than Yuna, as it shows the fact that she is the only one living from a different house. Behind her feet, she was followed by Haku, who has the same sleepiness as hers.
"Uhh… it's just 10 am, Sis. I prepared your breakfast on the table so eat up. Anyways, good morning.
Oh, 'sup, Haku."
The cat then walked to the living room with his eyes half closed and climbed on Gin's lap.
"I-Is that your cat…?"
"Aww… it's so cu-
Just before they began to be bewildered by seeing a rather sophisticated looking cat, Haku looked at them with a long stare.
At that point, Haku doesn't get why the two unknown hoomans got frightened.
"Sorry about this guy. He's not glaring at you so don't worry. This is just how he usually looks like. He's not glaring at you, I swear." Haku raised a paw in agreement.
"Well, now that this furball has come down, why don't we sit on the kotatsu?" having said that, Gin sat under the futon to demonstrate.
"Oh, so that's a kotatsu… It's my first time seeing one in person. How did this even make its way here…"
Regardless of their confusion, they went and sat down raising the futon up that opened up a way for the heat to escape.
"Glad you two liked it.
So… I don't know if Rin is around today. Do you have time until lunch?"
"It's not like we have other things planned today."
"Yep. We're basically free for the day."
"I see. Then, out of curiosity, can you tell me about Rin when she was still at Wisteria?"
"Hmm… If I were to say… she's basically silent," with a pointer finger raised up, Minase replied.
"Ahaha. I had a glimpse of that. She was a really quiet girl at first. An introvert's true nature, indeed."
"But when it comes to interacting with us, there's really no problem. She doesn't hold back when we're having idle talk."
"And when she found out that we're otakus, things really took a turn. That girl is really into her things."
"Wow, that's also what happened when we first met. She was so happy when she found out that there are the same kinds of species in Blue Ink.
But… any worth noting things about her?"
"Hmm… Probably when we're first year…?"
"Ohh, you mean that, Mina?
You know what, Gin. Ringo actually had a long hair when we were freshmen."
"W-Woah… really? I can't imagine," I said in sarcasm as I already knew. Thankfully, they didn't get it.
"Well, she looked a lot more anti-social back then because of her hair, so we suggested if she could shorten it a bit.
And hey, she then looked a bit more sociable."
Gin's head suddenly bashed on the table, startling the two girls.
"Why… Why did you…"
"Why…? Uhh, what? Gin?"
"Why did you suggest cutting her hair… I wanna see… I wanna see…
Ugh… I guess I'll bug Uncle Shuu if they had a picture. I'll even frame it…"
Seeing him with an extremely distressed expression, the two thought as their eyes met:
"This dude's seriously head over the heels for that girl."
"Ah. Actually, nevermind," he blankly uttered after suddenly raising his head. "I almost forgot that we actually met by chance when we were first years. Hahh… It makes me embarrassed how I said stuff just for a lost wallet.
Idiot… I didn't even pick it up."
"Oh? So you were the guy that told where Ringo's wallet was?" as if out of nowhere, Yuna was sat in the kotatsu.
With her sudden appearance made the two girls jolt and moved backwards…
…but, Mina hit her shin on the sharp corner of the underside of the table, making its feet raise at least a few inches from the ground.
It was what we would call a silent cry of pain.
"Oh… that feels like it hurt a lot…" Yuna sympathized.
"When did you sit here anyway, Sis?"
"Huh? What do you mean? I dashed immediately when you guys sat.
Where did you get these sausages, though? It has some nice spice."
"Uhh. I kind of bought too much of it when I went to northern Cotona. That's so good, though.
Apples, we're losing track, huh."
"Oh, ah. You're right."
"Well, there's a story that I just recalled so let's continue," Mina recovered.
"I'll go get some snow and put it in a bag, so wait a sec. We can't have that swelling."
"Why snow?" asked Erika.
"Obviously, all the ice I need is outside."
He took a lot but he saved some for a snowman.
"Alright. I'm all ears again."
"Let's see… Ah. There's that one time when we were second years. Ringo actually failed hard in our arts subject," so Mina told.
"Huh, what? Did I hear that right?"
"Your ears aren't playing with you. Here, a picture," then, she showed a picture in her phone with an embarrassed Rin in the background, chasing Mina who had a badly drawn illustration at hand.
"What a cute face she was making…" he only paid attention on Rin's expression, but then saw the drawing. "Apples. That's hard to believe. That girl's a passionate painter and I see this. Minase, you're joking right?
And please send it to me."
"Nope. Noooope," she waved with the side of her right hand.
"Our class had a task to make posters at that time so everyone is required to either make their own or group ourselves. Which, we made groups since it was difficult.
But then, our most artistic classmate broke her right hand and had to recover for several months. The deadline was in a month, though. Meaning, that person was unable to even hold anything.
Ringo herself was aware that she had the least cooperation. Even the artistically challenged were able to help, but she can't."
"Lack of self-confidence… Our nemesis as introverts indeed," he interrupted Erika's story.
"Feeling the guilt of doing nothing, she decided to help. She self-studied painting and got tips from our injured classmate. Sometimes, she even went to school with gray bags under her eyes.
And you know, it was nearly impossible for us to finish without the help of our injured classmate but Ringo made it possible. After all that, she became really enthusiastic with art, generally."
Well, that's just how Rin is, I guess? Her kindness to everyone is really amazing. Even I can't do the things she can."
As if they were mistaken with what they heard, they made a confused face and looked at Gin.
"Gin… I think there's a misconception on how you understand Ringo."
Thinking that he said something that is incorrect, he had left his mouth open in surprise.
"Listen here, Gin. Your girlfriend is not the kindest person in the world. More so, she's not even near that."
Can you elaborate, Erika?" still confused, he asked.
"Ringo is not so dumb that she will just be kind to anyone. Even in the past, she already knew how this world works. She knows that with too much kindness, she will be taken advantage of.
She may not be the most perceptive, but she knows who she was dealing with. Even though she's very timid, Ringo did not waver to refuse people that she is aware that will just take advantage of her kindness.
That girl may not show it, but even she can be courageous to confront those said people… and sometimes can say some offensive things. That's the sense of justice we knew Ringo has, and I don't think it has changed."
The image of the epitome of a kindhearted girl has been erased from his mind. He had realized that Rin's kindness was not at a superlative degree. Having her personality misconceived was something that made him disappointed to himself—as he did not know.
His fist closed with the thought that his perceptive vision has been reduced to nothing if he can't even understand his lover well. He became honest that he had expectations, but all of them has been discarded having discovered Rin's human nature in this unfair world.
However, Gin has felt relief, finally knowing that. He knew well that pure kindness is ignorance to the motives of cunning men. His anxiety only lasted for a fleeting moment. With that, he gave out a sigh.
"That's just shows that I still don't know a whole lot about her. It has been more than a year and I still have the shortcoming of not fully understanding her. I'm quite embarrassed."
"That's a surprise, Potato-san. We really thought that you already knew about it."
"Hmm… I guess we're just too caught up with things that we haven't had the time to talk about those things."
"Yeah," Yuna concurred. "So make sure to fix that head of yours for good. Don't make your big sister worry about you, got it?"
"I got it, onee-sama."
Suddenly, another knock was heard from the front door.
"I'll get it," Yuna stood up from the kotatsu, volunteering to open the door.
"Wow. You're not as lazy today, Sis."
The three then listened to who might it be from the living room.
"Oh, Yuna-nee. Is Gin around?"
"He's here. Do you want to come in?"
"Don't mind if I do."
~ ~ ~
"Hey, lil bro. Nagi is looking for you."
"Hi there, Gin. Oh, you have visitors? Is this okay?"
"It's fine. Have a seat here too."
"Goodness, you really have a kotatsu.
In no time, Nagi settled in the kotatsu after walking through the cold weather outside. But as the coziness was kept in his mind, he realized again that Gin has visitors.
"Rare for you to visit alone, aye."
"Before that… can I know who these two are?"
"Oh, right. The one on the left is Minase…"
"Minase Okuni. Nice to meet you."
"…and on the right…"
"Erika Anokane here."
And another 'nice to meet you' from them to top everything.
"Then I am Nagi Kajima. Nice to meet you too. I am Gin's friend and a classmate."
"You see, Minase and Erika are actually friends with Rin before she came to Blue Ink."
"Oh, I see. Wisteria, huh."
"So? It's rare for you to visit alone."
"Ah, yeah. I came to discuss matters that you have missed when you were at your leave."
He took out several paper works from his bag without saying a word of explanation.
"By the way, Jean's already free from work, right?" instead, he asked this.
"Yeah. I will also be back at work soon. He said that my schedule changed, which I only have a shift until 6 every Wednesdays."
"Thank goodness I can pass back the organizational matters to him." After that, Nagi leaned forward to whisper something. "Actually, is it okay for them to hear this?"
"Yeah. No worries."
"So then. First, we have an invitation."
"An invitation? To where exactly?"
"Apparently, TAC's active uploads to Instanyan made its way to the organizers of ManCon and they acknowledged our existence. To top it all off, they are even willing to provide a booth to us."
"Nooow that's some serious business. You mean, ManCon this summer?"
"Yep. And I heard rumors that the Yuuki Amagami that hasn't shown her face will be there for her own event."
"Now that's some more serious business."
Uhh… I guess I owe you readers an explanation. I will try to make it as short as possible.
Basically, TAC or TheArtClub as it stands for is pretty much the Art Club of Blue Ink High. TAC is an account in Instanyan that is used to share our art to the millions. We used the platform to accept commission work and it is doing fine. The earnings also go to the club budget and a small share for every member.
Regarding the ManCon, it's just an abbreviation of Manga Convention. Our TAC mostly posts analog artworks, either it's anime/manga-like or different genres, since I'm the only digital artist in the group. That is probably why we were found. Going back to the topic of the convention, it is the typical convention and assembly of mangakas in one place. However, this will be the first ManCon in the country since it only happens in the North.
I don't think this is short. Ugh.
Having heard my conversation with Nagi, the two girls brightened up as they leaned forward with somewhat excited smiles.
"Y-You are the TAC?!"
"Uhh… yes? We are…?"
"Oh my goodness, this is so unreal…!"
"To think that Gin and his friend is behind the TAC… this is just so amazing!"
The two was left in confusion with the reactions of Minase and Erika. In truth, the Art Club was unaware of their popularity in the platform. Their uploaded arts were always posted with their whims considered and such; they were unaware of the feedback.
If one would say, it can be the enthusiasm of youth.
"So… you know about that account? I'm quite surprised."
"What do you mean, Gin?! You don't realize when you guys have over 80 thousand followers on Instanyan?!" somehow sounding mad, Erika exclaimed.
"Ah, yeah… I didn't realize that it was that big of a number now. I guess I now know why Jean fusses about it."
Still, Nagi was greatly astonished.
"We just enjoy art so much that we kind of took it for granted."
The two pouted with the cold response of Gin and Nagi towards the current case.
But Nagi tactically acted to avoid much more fuss and nudged the topic away.
"Ahh. You two are from Wisteria, right? So it wouldn't be a surprise if you know Yuuga?"
"Oh, Yuuga. He was our classmate until fourth year. So he transferred to Blue Ink-" Minase immediately answered but suddenly paused. "Don't tell me that that manga-loving guy is part of the TAC too?!"
"Is that true?!"
Again, they leaned forward, but closer with widened eyes of excitement.
"Apples. I'll be dead if Rin sees this."
"Shoot. I'll be dead if Shiro sees this."
Unprecedentedly, their thoughts paralleled.
"Well… even Rin is part of it. So you might have at least noticed it from her style of painting.
Though, she also draws a lot these days."
"Now that you say it, I kind of felt that I was seeing Yuuga's art."
"But I get what you mean. He talks a lot about manga. Although, he can become enthusiastic just by talking but can still draw at the same time."
"Actually, Gin. Yuuga is Mina's childhood friend. They are still close up to this point," Erika unnecessarily shared.
Minase's head tilted down with her ears turning bright red.
"Is this a childhood friend route?" is what Gin thought.
"Erika…! Don't tell them things like that!"
Needless to say, she was embarrassed.
Gin's expression went blank and asked.
"You like him, huh?"
"You don't need to say that!" she immaturely let out.
"You know, just be honest to yourself," the four of them thought that Yuna was asleep because her head was planted to the heated surface of the table. But she was listening to everything that was said.
"Oh, you were awake, Sis?"
"Like I can sleep with all the screaming of Minamina-chan."
While Minase was pouting, Nagi looked on his watch and stood up.
"Sorry, gotta go, Gin."
"Why not have lunch with us?"
"Ehh… Shiro's parents invited me for lunch, so I'll be screwed if I ditched them."
"Oh, yeah. You better go now if you still want to live."
"Aight. You don't need to see me off. I'll lock your door."
"Potato-san, does Nagi have a girlfriend?" curious, Minase asked.
"Yep. Also someone from our club.
I guess we really are a merry bunch."
Nagi had gone out of sight from the living room and they heard the opening of the door only to hear voices.
"It's rare for you to come here alone."
They heard a sense of deja vu.
"Well, I'll be going. Your friends are here, actually."
"Is that so? I guess they still didn't know that I moved out, huh.
Ah, I'll lock the door, Nacchi."
Footsteps were heard right after the door shut close and there came to the living room is Rin.
"Hey there, Mina, Erika. You could have messaged me, you know."
"We heard you moved back."
"Ah, yes. I didn't think you might visit here again so I forgot to tell you.
I was just reading manga in the house since my parents went out. Seriously, you should tell me in advance that you two are coming."
"Alright. You help me with lunch, Rin."
"What are you making?"
"I'll bake honey garlic salmon. I'll let you make the pumpkin soup."
~ ~ ~
While the two are at the kitchen, the never-ending topic about the couple had arisen again.
"Uhh… big sis Yuna, are you sure those two aren't married yet?"
"At least wait a couple of years. I'll be sure to get married first before them.
And Minamina-chan, go confess."
"Wh-?! Why do you have to bring that up again?!"
"Hehe. I'm a bit bored, you see."
▪ ▪ ▪
The following week, Gin asked Shiro if she knew about Rin's true personality. And to his surprise, she knew.
"I think I know why girls call us guys idiots…
That wraps up 028!
head empty no thoughts
Thank you for reading!
029: I can see you when others can't, and I...
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