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painted a picture, i thought i knew you well

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You find yourself lost in thoughts; drifting listlessly along, mindlessly gazing at the rows of photos stretching from the floor to ceiling. The longer you stared, the more you felt yourself lost in them. The present had little impact on your concept of time as you slowly wandered from picture to picture. Soft green foliage, clear blue waters, and the iridescent, mellow sun stretched high above the sky, enveloping the world in its warmth. If you could just give up yourself, forget the present, would you be able to witness sights like these too? 

A soft but firm grasp on your shoulder shook you out of your reverie; tearing away your eyes with a sharp gasp, you turned away from the enchanting picture only to get lost in a young man's teal eyes. He was beautiful, probably the most beautiful person you've ever met, and you were absolutely starstruck. Soft teal locks that complimented his eyes and pale porcelain skin, he almost looked ethereal, as if he was leagues above the average human. He was breathtaking

"Can I help you?" you hate the way your voice cracks midway in your speech. You seem so awkward, so ordinary, you wondered if you even belonged to be in his presence. Your hands comfortingly find their way into your large sweater sleeves; you feel bulky, like you stand out, and your hands grow clammy at the thought. 

"You're (Y/n), right?" He said it. He said your name. How did he know? How could he have known?

"Yes, that's me. And you are...?" You relax a bit and remind yourself to breathe. Just breathe, and you'll be alright. Your shoulders lose their tension, and you slowly become anchored to the ground again. You're well aware of your face heating up, but whether you chose to care slipped your mind for a minute, and you brushed back a long lock of hair from obscuring your face, exposing your rosy cheeks. 

"I'm—"

He never gets to finish his sentence because Rika shows up, positively sparkling in the light, and you realize that she's beautiful too. Her blonde hair tumbles down her back like a golden waterfall and her emerald green eyes sparkle so wonderfully that you compare their vibrant color to all the pictures of forestry and foliage you've seen before. There's a framed photograph tucked under her arm, it's smaller than the rest but you just know it's just as beautiful. Beautiful, you seemed to associate that word with a lot of things now. It's a picture of the sky, the pink, fluffy, cotton candy clouds decorate the sky, leaving not a trace of blue in its wake, and the sun, the sun is warm and bright as always, peeking through the very tips of the wispy clouds. But you suppose no sun can compare to Rika's smile because the moment she slows down to a stop, you already know she's beaming. 

"(Y/n)! There you are, I was looking all over for you," she bounds over to you, looking graceful with every step, and you see how genuine her gaze is. Without another word, she presents you with the photograph. Hesitantly, you accept it with confusion; it seems the young man beside you is equally as surprised, but he expresses his shock through a sharp cough. 

"Rika, what is this for?" Your hands resume their trembling around the frame, and you're shaking so much that you fear you may drop the piece due to how nervous you were. 

"I originally intended to keep it for myself," Rika admits with a smile, "there is so much love and warmth that I feel from this picture... but I realized that I wanted you to have it." She clasps her smaller, daintier hands around yours, stilling your trembling, and she looks so serious and so fond when she talks to you that you almost look away because her brightness is scathing. "You've inspired me so much, and I realized that I believe this photograph belongs to you much more than it does me. You're like a sister to me, (Y/n), and the warmth and happiness I feel from the picture, I also feel from you."

"I—" you don't trust yourself enough to speak as your breath hitches in your throat. You couldn't accept it, you refused to accept it. You pry your stiff fingers from the picture and curl her fingers around it. When you finally find the courage to speak again, your heart feels like it's thrumming steadily in the back of throat. "I can't, Rika; I can't—This piece means so much to you, I absolutely must refuse."

When Rika smiles again, you lose your will to fight back in the conversation and feel your hands grow lax. 

"Nonsense," she titters lightheartedly, "one day, you'll come to see what I see." Her green eyes dart to the man beside you, who had gone awfully quiet during the exchange, and her face lifts up once again. "I see you've met V, the photographer of this gallery." 

And, just like that, you feel your heart stutter to a stop. 

"I'm sorry—I didn't—" you stammering now, and you can't bring yourself to look at his gorgeous teal eyes. "I mean, it must've been so rude of me, I—"

"It's alright," he reassures, and you feel the urge to collapse in relief because he's not upset with you for not knowing who he was. "I'm afraid I haven't introduced myself. I'm Jihyun Kim, but everyone calls me V."

Jihyun. Even his name was beautiful. 

You swallow your nerves, tucking the frame under your arm as you reached out the other tentatively to shake his hand. "It's nice to meet you, Jihyun. I'm (Y/n) (L/n)."

"I know, Rika's told me a bit about you. Would you like to join us for coffee after the exhibit?"

Rika's hopeful gaze almost made you cave in, but you had other things to attend to in the evening. 

"I would love to, but I need to get back early so I could continue with a couple of paintings I've started..."

"Of course! You mentioned about a big project for your living room, which was why I wasn't allowed to come over the past few weeks. Are you almost finished with that?" Rika speaks up, the curiosity in her voice not going unnoticed by Jihyun. 

"I'm not," you sigh tiredly, shifting the picture so that it was in a more comfortable position, "but I've finished enough that you're welcome to come over and take a look, if you'd want."

"Of course I'll stop by, I'll give you a call when I'm available."

"Alright... anyways, I have to get going now. It was a pleasure to meet you, Jihyun. Perhaps, this won't be the only time we'll meet," you keep your tone light and gaze hopeful, but you're too embarrassed to actually meet him in the eyes. 

"I have a feeling it won't be, but, just in case..." He held out a hand, and you handed him the picture inquisitively as he fished out a marker from his coat pocket. After a few, fleeting seconds, he capped the marker back and returned the print. "Give me a call some time."

Along with his signature, one with his full name rather than the cursive V he signed all his pictures with, there was a scribbled line of numbers which you figured was his personal phone number. Your cheeks warmed at the thought. 

"Thank you, Jihyun."

"You're welcome."

As you bid the duo goodbye, you couldn't help the fluttering of your heart as you left the art gallery behind. You don't think you would ever tire of saying his name.