The first time he saw her, he was about to open the art studio where he worked part-time.
It was a Wednesday, something he remembers just because it is the only day of the week when he comes to work straight from school; he recalls that he was about 5 minutes earlier than usual, but he decided to open the studio nonetheless.
That’s when he saw her.
She was wearing a blue-green coat with black pants and a black beanie on her head; any other day, he would not have noticed her, nor what she was wearing; however, just when she was passing behind him, she laughed at something another girl said, making him turn around and see her.
Her clothes were not exactly the first things that he noticed once her paths crossed. To be honest, the first thing that claimed his attention, was her smile.
It was a very pretty smile.
He saw her again some days later while walking aimlessly through the park. He had been feeling a bit short of inspiration and decided to walk around in hopes of finding something worth painting.
He thought that maybe the sights near the lake could be worth a try, especially since this time of the year, different types of birds liked to fly near its surface.
Once he was near the Lake, he noticed a familiar figure leaning on the railing; she was lost in contemplation, looking at some point beyond the horizon, or maybe at a point on the other side of the lake. She was wearing a pink sweater that looked soft to the touch and a black headband keeping her long blue hair in place.
It was late evening and the sun was just about to set. Its reddish light bathing everything, giving the park a molten look that was just so alluring to keep watching.
Birds were flying around the lake, reflecting their shapes on the lake’s surface and making an interesting play of lights and shadows with the rest of the background.
This went mostly unnoticed, as Eagle’s attention was held elsewhere. He was completely distracted, watching how the sunset light was reflecting on her blue hair, giving it the appearance of it being a few shades darker and lined with gold accents. The wind playing with her long locks and the wistful expression on her face made her look ethereal, like a sunset nymph just for his eyes to see.
A slightly stronger breeze made him turn his eyes away, and by the time he was able to look back, she was already gone.
Several days after, Eagle found himself back in the studio playing with his oil paintings. He was idly combining colours, looking for something that could inspire him, that could help him express whatever his mind and heart was trying to communicate.
For some reason, every single combination made, turned out on a shade of blue; and even when he tried to use those mixes to paint something, the things that came out from his brushes were not exactly exhibition material.
They had no shape or order, no semblance of an actual idea. They looked more like prototypes of something… something that was not ready to be out yet.
Giving up on it for the time being, he decided to head out for fresh air and to buy some groceries. He was getting hungry and the weather was starting to get colder. He certainly was not fond of the idea of going out later when the cold would hit full force.
When he finally met her, it was by sheer coincidence; not that his previous sightings had been meticulously planned.
He was supposed to meet his best friend’s girlfriend, and since she was going to be hanging out with another girl, they decided to arrange for a double-blind-date between them.
This sounded like it was about to end in a disaster date, but just for Lantis, he decided to take the risk.
He met with his friend outside a cosy café; he was early for a chance and this let him ask his friend for any clue about the girl he was supposed to meet aside from his girlfriend.
Lantis, the beautiful person that he was, just limited himself to offer him an intriguing smile before telling him to “not worry, I’m sure you’ll like her. You’ll just have to wait a bit more”.
Eagle scoffed sceptically; yes, Lantis was his oldest and closest friend, but they tended to have very different opinions on what was good or bad for the other.
He still remembered that time when he tried to pair him with a friend of his brother in law. The blonde girl was pretty, but she kept talking about her purple haired ex-boyfriend to the point that he ended giving her tips on how to get him back as soon as possible.
Yes. He loved Lantis like a brother, but he was a bit scared of how this new acquaintance will turn out.
The first one to arrive was a very pretty redhead. She came bouncing up to the two men, sporting a huge smile and throwing herself to his best friend’s arms. Eagle had little time to speculate about her identity before Lantis looked back at him with a smile as big as the redhead’s while telling him to “meet Hikaru, My girlfriend”.
The couple didn’t separate themselves after the introductions, which started to make Eagle a little bit uncomfortable; that was when he remembered about their other companion for the evening. As if summoned, another girl approached them; this time, one Eagle recognized even if he hadn’t properly met her.
She was wearing a beige coat and her long blue hair was up in a ponytail. Her long steps were projecting a confidence that her smile was downgrading a little and her eyes, so very blue eyes were shining with a determination to that made him wonder exactly what was going through her mind.
Her smile was still beautiful.
He wanted to see her smiling some more.
“Umi Ryuuzaki, nice to meet you”
“Eagle Vision, pleasure is all mine”
The smiles they exchanged were a bit insecure, but sincere nonetheless. It was clear that neither of them were sure of what to expect of the evening, but that they decided to go along with this for their friend’s sake.
Once they finally entered the café, things started to get weird. Not because of a supernatural surprise, or because there was something strange happening inside the coffee shop, but because both Hikaru and Lantis were too busy looking at each other, and talking to each other, and basically forgetting that a world outside each other existed.
Both tried to engage their friends in conversation, looking here and there for any topic that may break them out of their spell.
They were unsuccessful. They tried to entice them with food and were ignored again. Soon they realized that they were stuck with an affectionate couple in an increasingly awkward situation.
They decided to ditch them.
Eagle made an excuse of going to the bathroom, while Umi said she was going for another pastry. Their excuses went unheard again, and soon they were outside the café with the whole evening for themselves.
Even though they were eager to leave the couple behind, Eagle found himself reluctant to part from the company of the pretty girl he just met, so he turn around to face her and asked her to go for an ice cream elsewhere, just so they don’t “waste away this beautiful evening”.
The ice cream parlour they chose was one that was near the art studio where Eagle worked. There he learnt that she went to one of the schools that were a couple of blocks ahead from the studio. She was in her last year of high school and about to start applying for college. In turn, he told her he was an art student, working part time on the studio and that he hoped to make a name for himself with his art.
He even offered to show her his last works some other day.
He was delighted when she said yes.
Their evening ended too soon for their liking, but after exchanging numbers, they agreed to meet again sometime, specially since Eagle still owed Umi a tour through his grand pieces of art.
Once they parted ways, Eagle couldn’t deny that of all the smiles he had seen her, the one that she gave him last was one of the prettiest he had ever seen.
Eagle and Umi continued to hang out whenever they had a chance, their friendship growing stronger with each passing day, with every text sent and with every conversation had.
They got inseparable very quickly, always teasing each other, making jokes at the others expense and listening to the other’s problems whenever they needed it.
Eagle found out that she was not exactly fond of sweets, but really loved to bake them. Umi found out about Eagle’s incredibly sweet teeth, encouraging it with all the things she decided to bake but was unwilling to eat.
Eagle found out about her leading of her high school’s Fencing team, and asked Umi to invite him sometime to one of her competitions; he hadn’t missed one since, and more often than not he found himself sketching her, sword in hand, in one pose or another, sometimes even drawing her in exotic warrior clothes while fighting one monster or another.
Umi found this silly, but endearing.
Eagle found her endearing.
It was then that Eagle realized he had a huge crush on Umi. He decided to risk it and act on it, so the next time they talked over the phone, he properly asked her out on a date.
“For a moment, I thought I’d be the one who had to ask!” was her only answer.
They dated for a couple of months without any of their friends realizing it, mostly because they didn’t usually hang out together with the rest of their friends and in part because they were not much into public displays of affection beyond their usual teasing.
Then again, had their friends paid more attention, they would have noticed the lingering touches, the way they saw each other, or even how Eagle’s art recently was too blue centred, always mimicking Umi’s own different shades of blue.
This secrecy however came to a stop when Lantis, being the beautiful person we already said he was, tried to set him up with another girl he accidentally met.
Reaction didn’t come from him, but from Umi who, being the tactful and mindful girl she had always been, in no uncertain terms said to him that “I respect you because you are my best friend’s boyfriend, but if you try to set my own boyfriend up with another girl again, you are going to regret it”.
And Lantis didn’t know why, but he was suddenly sure that she would fulfil her promise in the most painful way if he did not heed her warning.
Once the shock of the reveal had passed, Lantis offered his congratulations, briefly mentioning that now he owed Hikaru a diner since she was certain they had been dating for some time now, even if there was no official announcement about it.
After that, news of their relationship spread around their friends rather quickly, to the point that nobody was surprised that his next exhibition was all in shades of blue, and more than one of those pieces were about the girl on his arm.
And when she announced that she would be attending the same university as him, but for a fashion degree, everybody knew they were in for a lasting and fulfilling relationship.