Interval. All the students of the university were outside, talking in little groups or studying for the next classes. It was a sunny spring day.
Equius was searching for a quiet place to study. He was on the third year of engineering. He didn't have many friends but he didn't care. He came to America to study, not to make friends.
He walks along the grass, looking for an empty place to sit. There was a place in a bench, by the side of a small girl, working on drawings. He decides to sit there. She looks at him but don't say anything. Equius notices that she is wearing earphones.
It's a really comfortable place. Away from all the noise of the students, just the sound of the birds and the quiet sound of the pencil on the paper, produced by the girl. The refreshing breeze makes his hair sway, but it didn't bother him. Actually, it was good to attenuate his perspiration problem.
He takes his annotations and starts to do the exercises, staying there until the end of the interval.
In the next day, he decides to go to the bench again. The girl was already there, again. She didn't look at him this time. They stay there, doing their own things in silence, until it was time to go.
Things only begin to change two weeks later, when she stand up to leave and her drawings fell on the ground. She sighs in frustration and kneels down to collect her papers, and he, like a noble gentleman he is, kneels to help her.
She looks at him smiling thankfully. For the first time he notices her bright green eyes and Japanese traces. He looks at the ground, putting the papers together. Her drawings are really good. There were many drawings of cats, people (maybe her friends and family?) and a lot of other things.
He stops what he’s doing when he sees one drawing in particular. It was a really good, realistic drawing of a horse. It makes him remember his childhood in Russia, when he usually went to his grandparent’s farm and took care of the horses. The drawing reminds him so much of his first horse... He really misses equitation. He hasn’t ridden a horse since he left Russia. He touches the paper with his fingers, following the traces, distracted by his memories. The girl doesn't say anything, just looks curiously at him, giggling. He “wakes up”, giving the paper to her murmuring “My sincerely apologizes”. She just smiles, nodding her head in a thankfully way, leaving right after.
In the following day, when she leaves the bench, she left a drawing on purpose, with a note. Equius delays some minutes to see the paper. He was starting to think where he could find the girl to return it, when he saw the note. It had been written in green and had a beautiful girly writing. It said “Seems like you liked this drawing. So, I'm giving this to you! I imagine that you like horses or something like that...” Then he looks to the drawing; it was the same horse from yesterday and smiles.
He looks for the better form to thank her gesture, so when he sits by her side in the next day, he puts a note in the space between them in the bench. She only delays a little to notice and take it. He wrote it in blue and he had a really elegant writing, she thinks. It says “I appreciate so much your gesture, it is very kind of you to notice how much I liked your drawing. You are certainly a wonderful and talented artist. I presume you must be cursing the Arts class. And yes, I really like horses, it makes me remember of my distant childhood.” She giggles for his formality, but finds it cute too and takes a paper to answer. She puts it between them in the same way he did.
He takes it and reads “You're welcome! Thank you for the compliments; it makes me very happy that someone likes my drawings! Yes, I'm in the third year of Arts. I notice you're always with books and annotations of physics and math, are you doing engineering? Wow, cool! I never really saw a horse, but I know what you feel, I feel it for cats. You aren't from USA too, right?”
He answers without any expression but the truth is that he found that girl a bit funny and nice.
“Yes, I'm in third year of engineering. I came from Russia; I arrived in America four years ago. Where are you from?”
“I'm japanese. It seems like we're oriental partners! My name is Nepeta Leijon, what's yours?”
“My name is Equius Zahhak, it's a pleasure to acquaint with you, Miss Leijon.”
She laughs before writing an answer. “The pleasure is mine, Mister Zahhak.”
They start to talk in notes every day, and soon, they become good friends. Nepeta founds his formal way very funny and loves to talk to him, even with all his seriousness and lack of humor. Equius founds that even if she isn't that polite or mature, she is very nice and her cheery way enchants him. They don't have a lot of things in common, but it didn't mess up their relationship.
Days after, he starts to think how odd is the fact that they always talk in notes and decides to ask her about it.
“Pardon for the question but, why we always talk in notes? It does not bother me in any manner, but I wonder talk is a most efficient form of communication than writing.”
He regrets the question when her eyes, always happy and bright, changes to sad and opaque. “... 'Cause I'm listening to music.”
He founds that answer a bit odd, but decides to ask another question. “Can I hear what you are listening to?”
“... It's my music. It's a very special music. One day I'll show it to you, but not today.” She still looks sad, so he decides to change the subject.
The months go by, and they become more close, but always talking in notes. They spend the entire interval together and share a lot of things. Nepeta told him about her crush on a guy of the Cinema's course called Karkat Vantas and he told her (but only because she insisted a lot) about his secret passion for Aradia Megido, from the History's course.
One day, when he arrives in their gathering place, she was crying. He writes a note fast and gives it to her, his blue eyes full of concernment.
“What happened? Why are you sad?”
She tries to clean the tears of her face, but continues crying. “I don't even know if I'm sad or just angry... It's because of Terezi.”
“Terezi? Isn’t she your best friend?”
She laughs weakly and jokes “No, silly! You are my only best friend, you should already know this.”
He smiles a little. “Yes, of course, I guess I forgot for a minute. What Terezi did?”
She narrows her eyes. “She asked Karkat to go out. But she knows what I feel! I mean, it's ok if she likes him too, but why didn't she tell me before? She is the one who always says to me to ask him, but then she does that! I don't understand her anymore...”
“I guess she was afraid of what you could think. But I agree with you, she should have talked to you before.”
She stops crying but her eyes were still sad. “Yes... I'm happy for her but... I can't help but feel a little jealous... I always wanted to ask him out... But I know he would refuse me...”
“Why would he refuse you? You are a really exquisite girl; I do not see how a man could refuse you. He should feel honored.”
She laughs. “Awn, you're sooo cute, Ekitty! But I'm not talking only about it... I'm different from the other girls and I don't think my appearance can replace it... It's difficult, and a lot of people don't accept me for it... And he seems to be one of these people...”
“What do you mean? I do not see anything different or abnormal on you. Only your occasional childish cat puns but I do not think it could really disturb someone. What could make someone do not accept you?”
She doesn't write another answer, just stays there, looking pensive at nothing for an instant. Then she writes something and gets up, standing in front of him. She gives him the paper. “Do you want to listen to my song?”
He looks confused to her and the note, but nods affirmatively. She takes off her earphones and put it into his ears.
- But... - He murmurs.
There isn't any song on it.
- What... Are you... - He splutters, incapable to make a phrase.
She points to her ears and then deny with her hands. He understands everything. She looks to his own feet, ashamed.
- … Glottal stop... - He whispers to himself.
He writes something and stands up too, with an unreadable expression. She looks surprised to him for a moment, and then looks to the opposite direction, eyes closed, trying not to cry.
He takes her hand and put the paper there. She looks at it, fearfully, without looking at him. When she reads, she smiles and cries but of happiness this time. She hugs him fiercely. He reciprocates, stroking her hair lovingly.
“You are still beautiful.” Said the note.