Taking fine arts wasn’t a thing you really wanted to do as a second-year student in Animation, but it was required as a side subject to finish credits and you honestly didn’t mind. You studied fine arts in high school and knew the fundamentals, you just couldn’t be bothered to follow through with it – it was boring and repetitive.
Your professor was Noriaki Kakyoin, a Japanese professor known by all of the students yet mysterious to all, his odd yet endearing aura pushing away those who try to come close to him. You were excited to be in his class, but worried about what's to come – what if he grades harshly, focuses too much on detail and his own style rather than letting students follow through with their own? You pushed those thoughts away as you sip your coffee slowly, reading over the course.
You found yourself running to the classroom, 5 minutes late and clutching your equipment in your hands, underestimating how long it would actually take you to get to the class. You rush in, panting and profusely apologizing to your professor as you took your seat. Your class had 15 students, all sitting in a circle on their own chairs and facing their easels, and they were listening intently to what professor Kakyoin was saying.
“I accept no late assignments, even if it’s one minute late.” He walked around the classroom, eyeing everyone carefully, his long red bang bouncing along with his movements.
“I expect you all to be on time to my classes, as attendance is important,” He shoots you a look and you feel embarrassed, looking away from his gaze. “We will draw from life these next few weeks, and you may be picked out to be drawn by others – don’t be shy, we’re only 16 people in the classroom, so you should all be aiming to work together.”
He starts the class by instructing you all to draw a shell from life, letting you pick one out of the selection he's made, and handing you all charcoal pencils. You plugged one earphone into your ear and let your hand guide you on the paper, your focus shifting between the paper and shell. Professor Kakyoin comes up behind you to examine your work, and nods, putting on his round glasses to get a closer look at your drawing. You feel his average but still tall figure leaning over you, wearing a green button up with cherries on it, paired with a black tie and a pair of black slacks, held up with a leather belt. He comments on your use of lines and compositions and asks you to stay after class. You nod and continue working.
The bell signaled the end of class, and you took your time in packing away your supplies, aware of the fact that Professor Kakyoin asked you to stay, and you waited until all of the students left to get up and walk over to his desk, where he was sitting and sipping something from his cup.
“I’m sure you’re now well aware of the rules I have in this classroom, and I hope that we don’t run into any issues again miss...” he looks up at you, waiting for a reply
“M-Miss Y/N” you reply, “I apologize for coming in late, I assure you it won’t happen again sir.”
“Good. You missed the earlier part in the class where I handed out office hours and my email for any questions or for feedback, so take this.” He scribbles down something on a pastel blue post-it note, handing it to you. You notice a jar of red hard candies sitting on his desk, next to his mug.
“Thank you, professor,”
“No problem, have a nice day.” He gives you a small smile and you shyly mumble a ‘you too’ before walking out of the classroom. This class is either gonna be heaven or hell.
A few weeks pass through the first semester of your second year, the work piling on to you as per usual, and you have to spend endless nights completing it, especially with fine arts and coming up with a proper storyboard for your animation assignment. You were asked to do a depth study anatomy drawing, and to write an essay and draw out a plan for a graded piece that will go in your final portfolio. You had never bothered to email professor Kakyoin or visit his office hours, but you were struggling to come up with a plan, books piling up on your library desk as you read and read and read, no information entering your head. You sighed and shut your book with force, looking over at your classmate, who was struggling as well. She was in your fine arts class, and she was struggling with portraits while you struggled with anatomy, so you were just kind of helping each other out and giving tips and advice for every piece you worked on. You sighed and got up from your chair suddenly, telling her you were going to text her later and heading to professor Kakyoin’s office.
You were walking fast, feeling nervous as you approached it, finding almost no students outside as his office hours were ending soon. You knock on the door and hear a light ‘come in’. You go inside and find him sitting in a large brown leather chair that’s far too big for him. He is grading papers that are sprawled out all over his desk, little framed photographs littered around his computer. He greeted you and you sat down on the desk in front of him, but he doesn’t look up at you.
“So, do you have anything for me to give feedback on?” you shake your head and he looks up at you, obviously not seeing your early gesture.
“N-no, sir, I came for help actually.” You say quietly. He puts down his pen and brings out a blank piece of paper from his drawers, placing it in front of you.
“What are you struggling with?” He asks, repositioning his glasses as they slowly fell down the bridge of his nose. You notice two identical scars that littered on his eyelids, two pink slits going down in a straight line, all the way to his cheek. They're faded, yet still visible under the office lighting.
You explain your problem and he helps you out by giving you guides to look at, and demonstrates a tutorial by using you as an example. His pencil glides over the paper delicately, his hands slightly shaky as he tries to get your position right. His lines are soft yet limited, to the point and not as sketchy as you expected. He hands you the paper and makes some notes down on books/artists to look at, and you observe how he drew the lines.
“Okay, I haven’t really seen your way of drawing anatomy, so I’m going to ask you to just do a rough demonstration.” He hands you a pencil and gets up to sit down on his desk. You notice that he’s wearing a cardigan over his buttoned-up shirt, and you move back slightly to get a proper view to sketch his pose out.
You sketch his pose out in a few minutes, using gesture drawing to suggest how he’s sitting in a lazy yet refined way. You hand him the paper and he looks at it, observing the lines.
“Hm, you seem to know the foundations of it, but there are some things here and there that could use improving. Look over the books and artists that I’ve listed down and come back to me tomorrow. He scribbles down a time on your paper and hands it back to you. “You can come to me any day during these hours – I’ll make them reserved for you as I don’t have that many students. Feel free to contact me any time about questions and feedback and I’ll happily give them to you. Your work is really good but it can be so much better, and I can tell that you just need that extra push to get you to an above standard level.”
You thank him and put the papers in your bag, and he gets off of his desk and goes back to his chair, waving you goodbye as you walked out.
After that, you went to his office almost daily, and he gave you tutorials and feedback on your different pieces of work and you found yourself slowly improving over time, and you developed a bond with him, yet you didn’t really know much about him. You occasionally saw him walking around with Dr. Kujo, the strict marine biology professor who intimidated all of the students, who looked quite similar to one of the guys in those framed pictures that sat on his desk – who were those guys in the pictures? Where did the scars on his eyes come from – why is he so fond with cherries -
You decide not to overthink it too much, and try to fall asleep on your soft mattress; the first proper rest you get in weeks, yet you can’t sleep.
You have grown fond of professor Kakyoin, and you found yourself going to his classroom a lot during your breaks or during office hours, even when you didn’t need help – you liked his feedback and positive criticism, and took his advice and found yourself improving a lot since joining his course, not just in his subject, but overall.
As finals were approaching and final pieces were being submitted, you found yourself constantly tired and caffeinated, trying to finish everything on time and to standard – it was hard to keep up with as things like animation and oil painting took a lot of time, especially as professor Kakyoin made sure to base your final pieces off of renaissance paintings, which required a lot of anatomy practice as well as photography and editing on your part.
You were sitting on the chair in front of his desk as he babbled on about the painting sample you gave to him, the color scheme as well as a sketch of it, watching him through lidded eyes as his form faded in and out of black, your head resting on your tired hands.
Shifting back into consciousness, you felt his hand on your shoulder, urging you to wake up. You get up suddenly and apologize over and over feeling embarrassed because you fell asleep right in front of him. He didn’t notice until your head fell onto his desk mid-sentence, and he let you rest for a bit, sketching your sleepy face lazily onto paper.
“Hey, you seem really tired, are you okay?” he looks at you with kind eyes, and gives you a small smile. Upon noticing the time, you see that it’s a bit late, and you’ve been in his office for quite some time, dozing off for the most of it while he just sat there marking and looking over his work. Your cheeks flushed a deep red and both of you just sat there in silence for some time.
“I’m so sorry about that sir, I just- “
“Don’t worry about it, you’ve been working so hard these past few weeks and I can tell that you’re overworking yourself” He pauses and looks at you with sympathy “It’s getting kind of late now, I can drop you off if you want”
You look up at him and nod slowly, not quite awake yet. He takes a candy out of the jar and offers you one, and you take it. You put it in your mouth and it tastes sour yet sweet, hinting at berry undertones. Your face scrunches up at the initial taste, and he laughs at your reaction, putting one in his mouth as well. Professor Kakyoin helps you pack your bag, and you thank him as you swing it across your shoulder, getting up. He walks to the door and opens it, letting you leave first as he has to lock the office door. You feel flushed as your face heats up into a light shade of pink, and you follow him to his car – he drove a car you’d expect him to – red and medium sized, kind of cute actually. You usually walked to and from campus from your dorm – about a twenty-minute walk.
The drive back to the dorm was quiet, the sound of the engine humming lowly in the background as you looked out the window. His car had a sweet, pleasant, flowery smell to it. He switches on the radio to fill the silence between you two, not really bothering to talk as the presence of each other was just enough. You give him directions on where to go, letting the cherry flavored candy in your mouth and sucking on it softly. He drops you off at your dorm and you thank him.
You feel a hand on your forearm and look at him with a confused expression on your face – you’re met with a stern yet soft smile.
“Make sure to get some rest, okay? Don’t overwork yourself please,” You were hoping the light emitting from the car didn’t show how hard you were blushing as you nod and shyly mumble an okay, reciprocating his smile and getting out of the car. You wave him goodbye as he drives off, and you walk into your dorm, overcome with the feeling of fatigue. His touch lingered on your forearm, and you don’t know if you were just tired, cold or if you were starting to develop feelings for your professor.