The wind was lukewarm, soft and pleasant. It frolicked gently about the large variety of flowers in the flourishing backyard, swirling around them and causing them to sway slightly as if they were being rocked to sleep by a silent lullaby. One specific flower was warily plucked by two rough, male fingers. They proceeded by fondling it while a pair of violet eyes studied it closer.
"She loves me", he mumbled as he tore of the first, pale pink petal, squelching the tone of his voice due to caution and fear for embarrassment. He'd be dreadfully humiliated if someone snuck up upon him right now. What unspeakable damage such an incident would bring to his pride.
"She loves me not.” He inhaled sharply, as if speaking those sole words jagged at his heart. With one large hand clutching his chest, he imagined with nonpareil horror how he'd feel if his confession was to be rejected. The devastating thought was enough to twist his stomach and blur his vision. He reached out for another petal with trembling fingers, his breath catching in his throat.
"She loves me", he crooned, remembering the gratifying glances she has cast at him, hasty but memorable. Her remarkable eyes had closed and opened slowly, flaunting the outstanding beauty of her long, frail eyelashes. He had also noted the hint of a coy smile at the corner of her lips, warming him to the very core of his chest. Oh, how he longed to experience that breathtaking sensation again.
"She loves me not", he hissed, and the delighted smile he'd been wearing fell right off. For far too long had he been disappointed, always been so certain he'd figured out the perfect moment to tell her, but always found out he'd been wrong. A potential date that had abruptly turned out to be something else was quite a usual occurrence at this point. These days he rarely failed to feel unsurprised. He'd learned to keep his expectations as low as possible, even at what seemed to be the most promising occasions. Yet, he had to admit that it hurt just as badly each time.
"She loves me.” The sentence came out with a felicitous sigh, his smile quickly taking growth again. She'd gifted him several loving touches, almost surreal in the depth of their fondness. Even when they weren't alone, she'd often treated him with an attitude beyond what he'd call benignancy, normally using the state of his clothes or hair – which, by the way, had been perfectly in order as they were – as a simple excuse to place her hands upon him. Of course, he wasn't one to complain, but he really wished she would for once choose to caress him without telling a lie.
“She loves me not”, he muttered, his aspect darkening a bit when he recalled the gestures he’d offered her, which he’d been hoping would serve to express his true feelings. But for some unexplainable reason, she’d frowned upon some of his most blameless and innocent actions, which had made him sulk over her ungrateful behaviour for the rest of the day. Luckily, he regarded himself as an absolutory man who seldom held grudges towards others for no good cause, especially when it came to her. Therefore, he’d ignored those singular bumps in the road and exerted himself to act like everything was fine. However, he couldn’t help to wish that he’d one day be able to understand her better.
“She loves me”, he whispered softly, his heart skipping a beat out of happiness when he settled his eyes upon the fragile flower between his fingers. Not until now had it come to his attention that the petal he just tore off had been one of the last three… which meant…
“Gakupo-san, what are you doing?”
Gakupo jumped in surprise and immediately dropped the flower, his cheeks glowing bright red as he turned his head to face her. A white summer dress hung loosely upon Luka’s curvaceous figure today, exposing most of her smooth skin to the beams of the sun. Her long, pink hair fell beautifully over her shoulders and her chest, catching within the movements of the wind so that some of it flowed out from behind her back. He marvelled at the sight of her, his entranced eyes tracing her every motion as she began to wander towards him. She stepped down from the porch, walking barefoot out in the grass with a most graceful approach. He wasn’t capable of tearing his gaze off her until she sat down next to him, which was in fact the same instant he even realised he’d been staring.
“I, um… I wasn’t doing anything special… at all… really”, he murmured while he peered intently at his sandal-clothed feet. “What about you? What are you doing out here?”
He glanced at her briefly and watched her twirl a silky lock of hair around her finger. Shifting nervously, he looked back at his feet and fiddled with his purple bangs. She was sitting way too close for his comfort, so close he could smell the cherry blossom scent of her favourite perfume – a scent he nearly choked on, since he could barely fetch a proper breath anyway.
“I was thinking of making a flower crown”, Luka answered, stretching her elegant legs out on the lawn before her. Her otherwise pale complexion turned into a shade of golden in the late afternoon sunshine, gleaming as the light orange glow met the flawless surface of her body. She leaned forth and picked a yellow flower, twirling it between her thumb and her index fingers as she gazed up at the sky above them. Again, Gakupo dared to steal a quick peek at her and felt his whole being fill with wonder as he observed her. Seeing her so serene and exquisite, with the magnificent background as addition, was if anything the closest he’d come to describe her as angelic. He found that his hands were itching, aching to caress her warm skin and her soft hair. His fingers twitched, anxious, hardly restraining his bubbling desires with a huge and exhausting effort of self-control. Luka lifted the flower to her nose and inhaled its fragrance, her cerulean eyes slipping shut for a short moment, before she lowered her hand again and looked back at Gakupo. He jolted a bit when their gazes lined up, at once turning his attention back to his feet while more blood rushed to his cheeks. As restlessness wallowed over him, he stomped the ground and flexed his fingers. Luka’s gaze, while gentle, seemed to burn right through him.
“D-do you want me to leave?” the samurai stuttered and swallowed hard, convinced his throat was drier than the driest desert on Earth. In the corner of his eye, he noticed Luka shaking her head.
“Not unless you want to”, she replied calmly. “I’m not bothered if you want to stay.”
She stood up all of a sudden, before meandering away and circling around the garden to gather up some fallen branches. Once she’d settled down again, she plucked a couple of flowers and began to bind them with the branches. Her fingers were flexible and skilfully twisted the stems around the wood. It probably wasn’t as easy as it looked, Gakupo figured, which was why it was so fascinating to watch. Falling into bemusement, he let his gaze stray across the backyard, doing nothing but staring out at the countless flowers for a while. Then, he got onto his feet and wandered out amongst them, sinking down to his knees in the middle of the flowerbed. He could sense how Luka’s gaze fixed on him as his hands splayed out over the grass, quick but cautious as they collected one flower after the other. It wasn’t that long before he came lumbering back to her with a whole armful of flowers that he laid down in front of her. Luka stared somewhat wide-eyed at the bunch of flowers by her feet, blinking in daze.
“I didn’t need that many”, she said astoundingly, appearing as if she was quite overwhelmed by his unexpected bestowal. Gakupo took a glance down at the flowers himself and instantly realised how correct she was. That was far too many flowers to create just one single flower crown.
“Sorry”, he blurted out, trying but failing miserably to hide his increasing abashedness. Luka let out a soft sough and shook her head, yet he couldn’t miss the shadow of a small smile curving her lips.
“It’s alright”, she reassured him, patting at the spot to her left where he’d previously been seated. “I guess I’ll just have to make more of them. You’ll have to help me though.”
Gakupo nodded with eager, impatient to make up for his sheepish deeds. Normally, he wouldn’t say that he was an empty-headed or awkward person at all, but it seemed like he always managed to lose his composure whenever he was around Luka. He wouldn’t be surprised if he emitted the same impression as Kaito at this point, which wasn’t a very charming thought since… well, because of reasons he couldn’t say out loud without sounding condescending. In fact, Gakupo had decided just the other week that ignorance wasn’t always bliss, after his blue-haired friend had stuffed his white lab coat into a washing machine filled with red clothes. When he’d walked into the living room the next day with one of his signature garments dyed bright pink, it had caused both Gumi and the twins to double over and tear up from laughter. Meiko had merely rolled his eyes at him and called him an idiot, which was obviously quite true since he was the only one in the house who’d ever made that mistake.
Leaving that trail of thought aside, Gakupo settled next to Luka again, focusing at himself as comfortable as possible before he dug into the enormous pile of flowers. But, as he had come to suspect before he even started, he soon confirmed that this sort of artful activity was beyond the ability of his fine motorics. His fingers were simply too wide and clumsy. The flowers and branches kept falling apart every time he tried to bind them together. His frustration didn’t exactly improve the situation either and he began to grumble under his breath, growing more and more irritated as the minutes passed by.
“It doesn’t work if you’re being too gauche”, Luka commented, giggling when he dropped his unfinished flower crown for the fourth time and the entire thing spilled all over his lap. Gakupo’s shoulder sagged in defeat as he stared despondently down at the scattered flowers and branches.
“I can’t help it. I know how to handle a sword, but I’m not cut out for this kind of thing. It’s just… ridiculously complicated. It would take ages for me to finish one”, he grizzled, looking up only to discovered that Luka was balancing a complete flower crown upon her palms – not to mention that it was pretty much perfect. He issued her an envious scowl and she shot him a complacent smirk in return.
“It’s not that complicated”, she chimed with a teasing gleam in her eyes, which Gakupo reciprocated with a bitter snort as turned his back to her. However, he perked once he felt a tingling sensation in his scalp and glanced upwards to see her place the flower crown at the top of his head.
“I thought you were going to make one for yourself”, he said in slight bewilderment, casting a glance at her over his shoulder. She smiled graciously at him and her blue eyes radiated with glee, causing his heart to start fluttering faster than the wings of a hummingbird.
“I will, but I thought this one would look good on you”, she responded in an exuberant tone, humming as she filled her lap with a new batch of flowers and initiated her next creation. Gakupo adjusted the crown upon his head, just to make sure that it sat properly, and then studied Luka’s impressive handiwork with attentive eyes. It baffled him that she was capable of working so fast, especially now that he’d made his own attempt to copy the procedure. She had completed her own flower crown in no time and continued to hum happily as she let it descend into her hair, using a gesture that was of such a refined fashion it would have fit a royal. She did actually look a lot similar to a queen or a princess, Gakupo thought, resting his cheek against the palm of his hand as his gaze followed her up and down. She had crossed her legs now, leaning back on her hands while she stared into the fiery blaze of the setting sun. Both her skin and her hair shone gorgeously and her eyes glistened like the sea on a cloud free day. Suddenly Gakupo straightened as he realised: This was the perfect time. He should tell her. He had to tell her!
“Say, Luka”, he began hesitantly, waiting until she turned her head his way and he had her full attention before he continued, “what… what do you think of me?”
Her eyelids flickered and she frowned as if she didn’t entirely understand the question.
“What? What do you mean by that, exactly?” she wondered, titling her head to the side so that her flower crown just barely clung on to her head. Gakupo bit his lower lip and chewed on it anxiously. How was he supposed to define what he meant? The question had simply slipped out of him before he had any time to plan his following retort. Luka peered at him with her gaze filled by a mix of confusion and curiosity, stressing him to figure out an answer for her as soon as he could.
“Y-you know… if you were to… describe me to someone else, what would you say?”
Luka’s disconcerted eyes blinked again and she looked down at her lap, pursing her lips while she combed a few strands of her pink hair behind her ear. Gakupo wondered whether it was only his imagination or if he could actually see a dim blush creep up on her cheeks. He watched her in silence, fidgety like never before as he kept clasping and unclasping his hands for no reason whatsoever. His heart already felt like it was thudding out of his chest and he was beginning to become awfully hot. The temperature in his body was rising sky-high and his palms were becoming warm and sweaty. The idle wait he endured was nearly excruciating. Why was it taking so long for Luka to reply?
“I don’t… really know”, she said finally, playing with a violet flower to provide her restless hands with a distraction. “I guess I would say... um… that you’re a g-good man and… you’re considerate and responsible. You’re also honest, very skilled at wielding a sword and… p-pretty handsome…”
Both of them were now blushing in an equally dark shade of crimson and neither of them was able to look at the other. Gakupo almost thought he was about to have a heart attack due to how insanely rapid his pulse had gotten. He licked his dry lips and scratched himself behind his ear, experiencing how every fibre in his body seemed to smoulder with a heat so intense, it could merely be found at the depth of an active volcano. He was even forced to keep his lips firmly clenched to prevent the stupendous grin that urged to appear upon his face. That was the first time Luka had ever called him handsome.
“Why are you asking me this anyway?” Luka suddenly inquired, instantly snatching the samurai back from his own little world of bliss. “There’s got to be a reason to it, right?”
Gakupo met her inquisitive expression, sustaining their eye contact for a couple of seconds before his gaze fell to the grass. He ripped a handful of green strands out of the dirt and then ran his fingers through the lawn. He concentrated on breathing evenly, gathering his courage, before he spoke up.
“Actually… there’s this girl that I like. I’ve been meaning to ask her out for a while. I just wanted to check if he general impression of me was… well, decent, at least. To see if I had a chance at her, you know?”
He glanced up to find Luka stunned, stilled as if she had frozen on the spot. Her mouth was ajar and she gaped with empty eyes at him for at least half a minute before her stiff muscles slackened a trifle.
“Oh, I see”, she mumbled quietly, her eyes drifting away from his. “Do I… know this girl?”
“Yes, in fact, you do”, Gakupo responded with a sly smile, which made Luka’s gaze switch back to him as on command. “I’m pretty sure you know her better than anyone does.”
“Then… it has to be Miku, doesn’t it?” Luka asked unsurely, the furrows upon her creased forehead only deepening when Gakupo chuckled and shook his head at her. He didn’t deny the satisfying sense of control he had claimed of this situation, which was certainly a rare but fortunate coincidence. He crossed his arms and let them rest upon his knee while he leaned his chin against them. His eyes narrowed and he looked straight at Luka, registering her uneasy shuffling as she sensed that there was something more to this conversation than she was aware of. Her eyebrows knitted together in concern.
“But it’s not Rin either, is it?” She uttered her words with mistrust, on her guard, yet unable to solve the enticing mystery that the he had ingeniously produced for her.
“Nope, it’s not!” Gakupo announced cheerfully, his grin growing even wider. Luka pursed her lips again and he could tell she was reflecting viciously in order to find the answer to his riddle. But of course, she didn’t, since the correct answer most likely was the last she’d ever think of.
“I give up”, she muttered at last, crossing her arms over her chest with a sullen expression, “I have no idea who it is and I don’t want to play this stupid guessing game anymore.”
“Not even if I give you a clue?” Gakupo hummed coaxingly. Luka glared at him with dull eyes for a few seconds, dithering for sure, before she receded with a peeved sigh.
“Fine, give me the clue then. It better be a good one.”
“Of course”, Gakupo guaranteed with a firm nod. “But before I tell you, I need you to close your eyes.”
As expected, she gave him yet another perplexed frown as response.
“Why?” she questioned suspiciously, glowering at him with heedful gaze.
“Just do it. Otherwise I won’t give you the clue”, Gakupo replied bluntly, flashing a smug smirk at her. He was with no doubt greatly enjoying this; having her pinned right where he wanted her. It was quite some clever plan he had come up with – if he could say so himself – and he longed with the keenest desire to go all the way through with it. All he needed now was for Luka to collaborate. And lo and behold, but she did! Despite her distinct reluctance and suspicion, she actually did! She clenched her fists at first, taking a deep breath, before squeezing her eyes tightly shut, her lips shaping into a tense line as she expectantly waited to be given what she’d been promised. Gakupo chuckled gently at her braced pose (which he found rather adorable), guessing that her curiosity had gotten the better of her.
“Don’t you dare try anything fishy now”, he heard her hiss as he came crawling closer.
“I wouldn’t dream of it”, he murmured, amused to see a flustered flush spread across her face when he settled down right in front of her, his face daringly close to hers. “I just want to be certain that nobody hears what I tell you, so I’m going to whisper the clue in your ear, okay?”
“O-okay, go ahead.”
Gakupo stilled for a moment, using all of his senses to absorb the heated atmosphere that was surrounding them. His heart rate was speeding up, pounding in his ears so hard that he became deaf to the twittering of the birds and the distant whistles of the wind. The overwhelming aura of Luka’s perfume clogged his nostrils and constrained him from absorbing any other scent. His eyes strayed across her face, double checking that her eyes were properly closed. Then, he let his hands sink into the grass by her sides, his head leaned forth, his ears just catching the quaver in Luka’s breaths when his mouth halted less than an inch close to hers. He swallowed stiffly, his throat congesting with imaginary cotton as he slowly separated his lips and uttered a hoarse whisper.
And then, he kissed her. It was just a light smooch, and it only took the blink of an eye before his lips lost touch with hers. He stayed in that same position for a moment, his eyes left half-lidded, before he very carefully leaned backwards until he got a good view at Luka’s face. She was clearly gobsmacked, although that wasn’t really surprising. Her entire face had gone oddly numb, her skin was pale and her eyes had grown extremely wide. Her breathing had come to an abrupt stop and her glassy stare didn’t even blink as they were glued to him. “Go for it again! Don’t wait! Just do it right now!” shouted a voice in Gakupo’s mind, and without faltering for a mere second, he leaned in again.
His lips captured hers the moment after, testing the water by a simple peck at first. Luka flinched a little and gasped against his lips. But despite her shocked reaction, she didn’t attempt to break away from him. Gakupo took this as a sign of acceptance and titled his head, making it possible for him to deepen the kiss. His hands, quivering vaguely, made their way from the ground up to her waist as he pulled her closer, smiling in success as he finally felt that she began to respond to his kiss. Luka’s soft lips moved against his, her delicate hands clasping each other at the back of his head to hold them together. Gakupo’s trailed his hands up her back and noticed how she shivered, pausing for just a millisecond, before pressing his lips a tad harder down on hers and embracing her wholeheartedly. They stayed lip-locked for a rather long while, their hearts pounding wildly within their chests as the affection between them blossomed and spellbound them. Gakupo was taken aback by the tremendous wave of blissfulness that enveloped him, readily allowing his conscious to drown within it and hoping, almost begging, for a miracle that could make this ravishing moment last forever.
But for obvious reasons, they were eventually compelled to break away, both panting and blushing madly as they did. A thick, compact silence arose like the fog of a damp autumn morning around them, and for a while there was nothing that the two of them could do but stare with blank expressions at each other. The impact of what had occurred hadn’t quite arrived to either of them yet, and they remained in a sort of befuddled state of mind as they were trying to regain a more solid grasp of reality. The sun had now descended below the horizon and the dim gloom of the approaching evening was sweeping over them. None of them spoke a word for several minutes – or more like ages, as it seemed to them – until Gakupo had poised himself and was brave enough to break the ice.
“Wow”, he said, somewhat stupefied by his own amazement. It was all clarifying for him. He had said it. He had done it. He had no clue what he was assumed to do next, but he had done it. He’d accomplished something he’d dreamt about for longer than he could recall. An achievement as impressive as that was way too thrilling for him to supress and he could sense the beginning of an overjoyed smirk pulling at his mouth. Luka glanced shyly at him beneath her bangs, her cheeks still flared and her eyes glittering.
“Wow”, she repeated, almost breathless as she spoke. Her hand crawled over the lawn, her fingers brushing over his. Her other hand was lifted to his face, modest, sweet caresses meeting his warm skin. Once more, their eyes made contact, and as in an unspoken agreement, their faces moved towards each other. The tips of their noses met first, sweeping over each other. Then their foreheads touched, bumping together softly. At last but not least, their mouths connected, greeting with tenderness, passion and longing. Slowly, their lips countered the other’s movements, innocently playing back and forth. Gakupo was first to step up the game, humbly asking for an invitation to Luka’s mouth with a nudge of his tongue. Her fingers curled behind his ears as she conferred him his permission, releasing a muffled sigh once his tongue entered the hollow of her mouth. Their tongues danced with burning avidness, getting them so caught up in their mouth-to-mouth interaction that they didn’t even hear the sound from the backdoor being opened. But then, in the middle of their all the more deepening intimacy, there was suddenly a loud whistle, which made them jump apart in an instant.
“You two should get a room!” Gumi shouted from the porch, shooting a wide and smug grin towards the extremely flustered pair in the grass before her. Not far behind her, Gakupo could also spot Miku, Rin, Len and even Kaito peeking out through the doorway with curious expressions. That was at least until Meiko appeared behind them and commanded them all to get back inside. Unlike the others, Gumi simply sniggered at her intimidating scolding, but nonetheless followed the others’ example and scuttered back through the door before closing it behind her.
With his face setting into irrepressible flames, Gakupo stared discommodiously at the ground, the flower crown dropping from his head and landing in the grass. Great, now everyone knew. Going back into the house right now was without doubt bound to be painfully embarrassing, if not even unbearable. He wasn’t sure how each person would react to the sight they had witnessed, but this was definitely not the kind of event that he would be comfortable with explaining. Besides, how the heck was he going to explain it anyway? When it came to Luka’s and his current relationship status, he was pretty much oblivious. He knew that he could easily just ask her. She was sitting right next to him, after all. But unfortunately, it seemed like a cowardly part of his being – which existence he hadn’t even been aware of – had taken command over his brain and screamed at him to escape while he still had the chance. So before he could stop himself, he had stood up, shaken the leftover flower petals off his head and coerced himself to smear an apologetic smile across his lips.
“W-well, that was… interesting. A-anyway, we should get inside too. I mean, it’s getting late and dinner will probably be ready soon”, he exclaimed, as if everything was the same as before, as everything was just perfectly, undeniably… normal. However, he had only begun to turn around and head back to the house, when a tight, unshakable clasp was shaped around his wrist.
“Are you running away now? I thought you were going to ask me out.”
He turned to her, violet eyes widened in astonishment, his heart picking up the pace yet again as he gaped at her amiable aspect. A million of plausible sentences he could choose to speak tripped over themselves in his mouth until they became an indistinguishable tangle of pure nonsense. He stood speechless, engulfed by that tender, tempting sensation of Luka’s hand hugging his, keeping him rooted there as though his feet had grown radixes and nailed him to the ground.
“Why don’t you and I go out for dinner, right now?” she wondered, a kind, lopsided smile playing upon those supple lips of hers. “I mean, I don’t think it’d be very fun for either of us to walk into that house at the moment. Hopefully, the others might have calmed down a little once we come back. Also, we could take some time alone to figure out what... all of this means, you know?”
Gakupo took a moment to consider it. It wasn’t a bad suggestion, not at all… even though it would probably provide them with another fairly awkward situation. Still, it appeared to be the most reasonable thing to do, since he knew they would be forced to discuss this scenario sooner or later anyway. Arriving at his final decision, Gakupo squeezed Luka’s hand back, not wasting any time by lingering at the spot as he nodded and walked over to her. Luka’s smile beamed brightly at him as he came forth. She then realised something and excused herself for a bit, letting go of his hand as she ran up to the porch to fetch her shoes. But once she’d made her way back their hands re-joined and their fingers interlaced, creating an attachment between them that seemed stronger than anything that had ever been there before. And at that instant, as he ogled over at the marvellous girl by his side, Gakupo’s only wish was that this bond wouldn’t be as easy to break as the flower crown upon her head. But even if it did, he promised himself that he’d pick up the pieces and try his best to fix it once again.