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101 how to smell by Nakajima Kento

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I hate weekends.

Because I can't smell your scent.

 

It all started one morning when I was late to the train. Due to a malfunctioning alarm clock and stupid decisions to not set an extra alarm, I was running late and had to take the next train. I usually took the earlier train because I wanted to take my time getting to university and not stress if anything should happen. Until now, my streak had been perfect. I had never overslept before (or maybe when I was younger) and this really put me off my usual morning routines. Sweaty and flushed, I managed to squeeze myself in and find a seat on the train. I let out a heavy sigh and wiped off the sweat from my forehead as I slumped down in my seat. As I took a deep breath, I caught a vague scent of lilies. I turned my head around to find the source of the smell but there was no one around me. Only sweaty old dudes (I doubted it was one of them) and the fresh spring scent of young school girls. Out of all scents around me, this scent stood out. A lingering, rich scent of those newly opened leather shoes. (Okay, bad metaphor but I couldn't come up with anything better.)

I kept looking around, trying to find a face or something that I could put the scent on. To others, I might have looked a bit stupid leaning right and left, looking restless, but I really, really wanted to know who the damn scent belonged to. Pouting, I hugged my backpack closer to myself. Now would be a very good time for prince good smelling ( he really wanted the scent to belong to a man, let him dream ) to step forward. Save me from this everyday boredom. I wouldn't say no if he walked by me, stumbling a bit because the train shook, then steady himself on the wall behind me, locking eyes with me―

The train shook as it came to a stop and I yelped as I clutched my bag harder, feeling how someone bumped their bag in my face.

"Sorry," someone hurriedly said with a low voice as they squeezed past the mass and out of the train. Before I could open my eyes and take a good look at the one who could have damaged my head, a stronger scent of lilies caught my attention. Snapping my head up, I only caught a glimpse of pale pink. I straightened and tried to peer out of the train window, hoping to find the mysterious person my heart decided to suddenly beat faster for. However, there was no one in the crowd outside matching the pale pink he wanted to place a face to. Sighing, he slumped further down in his seat. Today wasn't his day for his love story to begin either.

 

University ran by fast (for once) and I soon found myself standing in front of the train station, looking at the crowd going in and out. I bit my lip as I realized how stupid I was. There was no way he'd meet his Prince Lily again. Plenty of people were smelling like lilies. Why I was so entranced by this very encounter, I didn't know. Kicking a pebble, he hoisted his bag up and went to catch his train home.

My friends always said I was a hopeless romantic, telling me how I had a weird and too specific taste in my partners. I always frowned at them because we all see love differently? I didn't feel like actively searching for a partner, I believed fate would present them for me when the time was right. It didn't stop me from dreaming though - I loved the thought of love at first sight or just knowing this one is the one for you. I also loved letting people know if I found them charming or liked them, which sometimes might go overboard but I personally believed people were just not used to openly lovely people like me. Talking about love, I had gone through my fair share of crushes throughout the years, but none had given me butterflies or the fireworks I longed for. This time, however, I had found myself in a full-blown crush on a stranger. A stranger I only knew the scent of and hair color (I think it was his hair at least). When I had told my friend circle about it (they had asked why I, the always on time perfect student, was "late"), they had only sighed and patted me on the back. At least I had their silent support.

Sitting on the train, I found myself nodding off, the cart not as full as during the morning rush. The cart was filled with the dull scent of the train, the old lady's rose perfume and her wet dog and a faint trace of vegetables from someone's grocery bag. I wasn't sure why I paid so much attention to all these fragrances, but I knew that I missed the strong and rich scent of lilies that I'd come to love. It almost felt a bit frustrating. No, lies. It was frustrating. I wanted to know who it was. Prince Smelly needed a face. I knew my mission. Find the face to Prince Smelly.

 

The next morning, and the mornings after that in a span of almost two weeks, I took the later train, only to catch a whiff of the lilies. Sometimes, we were in different carts, so I didn't get to smell it until the doors opened and my highly attuned nose could pick it out from the crowd at the station. It was a small piece of happiness at least. The train rides had soon turned into the highlight of my days. I'm not a stalker, I swear. There's totally nothing wrong getting attracted as fuck to a damn smell and not do anything except wait for it to just happen. How was he supposed to explain this if they ever met? (Let a man dream okay?

There were fewer people in the cart as I stepped on, half-drenched from the pouring rain outside. Not bringing an umbrella despite the news telling everyone and their cat it would be a heavy rainstorm was probably the worst decision I'd done the past weeks, even counting all the things I'd done to get a bit closer to lily man. I hoped my papers and books for university were still intact. I threw myself on the nearest seat and tried to wring out some water from my hair (no success). Sniffing, I tried to find out if Mr. Smell Good was nearby and success! Somewhere... he was somewhere. The past days had been good to my daily needs of lilies. Two days ago, I had found out he was going to Keio University. A week ago, I had heard his laughter and if I had not fallen for his scent, I would have fallen so hard for his laughter. I just needed a face to it.

Yesterday, I had seen his hand. His hand. I had not slept well the night before so I had been nodding off now and then, and when the train had shaken me awake, the scent of lilies was so close. I had snapped eyes open and discreetly looked around to find the face to the scent. But no. It had been too crowded and I had been sitting down, no pink hair in sight. However, on the pole beside me, I had found a hand gripping it to steady themselves. It had fascinated me. It had looked like my own hand size, maybe bigger? Or was it just the fact it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen? Long fingers, decorated with silver accessories along with fashionable bracelets wrapped around the elegant wrist. Nails rugged but cared for. I had seen how the veins moved under the skin as it changed position and I had wondered how it would feel like to hold it. How it would feel against my skin. How it would feel to have it travel all over―

 

Slow down. You're in public. Slow the fuck down.

 

My face burned as I remembered the sight of his hand. It was almost (it was) embarrassing how riled up I had been. I groaned silently to myself and pouting because I just wanted to see his face once. Apparently, fate was on my side that day.

“Excuse me? May I sit beside you?”

I recognized the smell before I realized someone was talking to me. Mr. Will I Ever See Your Face. Was. Standing. In. Front. Of. Me. I snapped my head up to look at him, water (or sweat, or a mix of it, I didn’t know) splashing all around at the motion, hitting the man of my dreams in the face. (Way to go Kento.)

Pink hair, full lips, slim eyes (squinting at me because hey, I just splashed him in the face with water slash maybe sweat) and an attire illegally gorgeous. He stood at a height around my own, and I just stared. He wiped off the liquid and heck, how did one do that so gracefully? And so hot?

“Well, that was one hell of a greeting I guess.”

I yelped (how and when did I turn into this?) but grabbed my bag and mentioned for him to sit. Please. Take all the space you want. (You can sit on me too if you want. No, but yes. Yes.)

“G-go ahead!” I stuttered out and flushed. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. I had expected sunsets, flowers (lilies of course) and sweet smiles. Not gray skies, a downpour, and a wet school bag. “Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.”

He chuckled as he sat down, placing his bag between his legs (don’t go there Kento, not now), and the smell almost became unbearable. My breath got stuck in my throat as my mind got clouded by the fragrance of lilies. It was filling my vision with red carpets, a grand piano at the fanciest venue I could imagine, silk falling on smooth skin, champagne glasses tingling and most of all, pale pink hair revealing bright eyes and a smile so dazzling it outmatched the sun. Get back to reality Kento. (No, I want to stay here.)

“You smell nice,” My inner turmoil got interrupted as Prince Finally Close Enough spoke up. I blinked in confusion at him, mouth hanging open and face still flushed.

“Heh?”

“Your smell,” He waved his hand in front of me, drawing an outline of me as he spoke. I took in his facial expression and damn, how can be cute too? His face slightly flushed but still way more composed than my own. “It’s really nice.

I squealed out a thanks, mind running crazy because, hey. Hey. Dreams don’t come true, do they? Or do they? Am I dreaming? Fate? Never had I been rendered so useless like now. He must think I’m the worst person ever (with a nice smell).

He held out his hand (HIS HAND) for me to take it. As his hand enclosed my own, I could really feel his hand. Like, feel. Skin against skin? (His wasn’t as sweaty or drenched with rain as mine though.)

“Kikuchi Fuma.”

He had a name (of course he does Kento, what the ever living fuck). No, rephrasing. I had a name to the face. To the smell. No more Prince Lily, Mr. Smell So Good I Wanna Cry or Stranger Smell Good. He was no stranger anymore. Hands connected, words exchanging, they were forming a bond. It felt like time stopped. Kikuchi Fuma.

“Nakajima Kento,” I replied and smiled, a steady, confident smile, compared to my nervous behavior earlier. With hands still connected, I felt like all my nervosity disappeared.

“Nice to finally have a name and face to associate with your scent,” Fuma said and I almost blacked out. Had he? No way. There was no way Fuma had been looking and longing for him as well. No. Fucking. Way. (I know I said I wanted to live a shoujo life, but this might be taking it too far, come on.

“Same, you have no idea how long I have longed for this moment.” Telling him the truth was the best decision I had done in a while. My words were barely a whisper, but he caught my words nonetheless. The train shook as we stopped at the station, making us fall towards each other, hands out to steady the other. Neither of us moved. But we smiled. Together.

 

I don’t know why, but the moment I got to know of Fuma’s name, the scent of lilies disappeared. I had frowned at first, and when I had mentioned it to Fuma, he had just shrugged. It didn’t matter, he had said. Because they had each other now. What was the loss of one smell compared to all the other sensations they experienced together? Nothing. Discarding the thought, I smiled. Fuma was right. Maybe it had only been there to bring them together. A guide towards each other.