"Alright, so since I don't really know much about you, I'd like you to come to the board one by one and explain what literature makes you think of, okay? Does anyone want to start?"
No one raised their hand, the students being a little reluctant to go first, Kyosuke included. The boy wasn't shy at all, but he feared he wouldn't have much to say.
Truthfully, he had decided to check out the literature class to see how it was, and decide afterward if he would attend frequently or not. He wished that Juzo, his best friend, had come, but the boxer had a training session scheduled at the same time.
Kyosuke Munakata didn't have a passion for literature, and he was afraid that the teacher - one Miss Yuki Yoshida - would notice that. He sometimes read books, but it wasn't a hobby. He actually didn't have time for hobbies.
Well, nobody raised their hand, except for one person. Kyosuke looked to his left and noticed his friend Chisa with her hand raised enthusiastically.
"Ah, so we do have a volunteer! Good, good!" The teacher looked at her notes. "Chisa Yukizome, right?"
"Yep, in the flesh!" the girl confirmed, showing her teacher a broad smile.
Kyosuke sweatdropped. Yukizome… The Ultimate Student Council President would always be impressed by the Ultimate Housekeeper's beaming enthusiasm. Whatever the circumstances were, she would always be smiling.
It was a simple smile but one the boy had grown fond of. Probably more than he should have.
"Well, alright. You can come to the board, Chisa."
Yuki removed herself as Chisa stood up and went to the board, facing her classmates who had chosen to try out the literature class as well.
The girl found herself a little embarrassed as she stood there, intimidated by her classmates' stares, even if they weren't all there. They weren't harsh stares, but having a dozen pairs of eyes on you could be intimidating, nonetheless.
Chisa was glad to meet Kyosuke's gentle blue eyes with her own. She took a deep breath and began.
"Well… Personally, literature makes me think of freedom," Chisa said, fighting her sudden shyness. "Every time I read a book, I think of the author who spent hours and hours writing it. And well… I realize that they wouldn't have worked their asses off for nothing, so it means that writing means something to them."
The class and the young teacher giggled at the housekeeper's use of… crude language while Kyosuke simply shook his head with a small and amused smile.
"I don't write often, but whenever I do write something, I feel like I'm in my own little world, free to do whatever I want," she continued, feeling more and more confident. "I don't have to abide by any rules, and I can let my imagination do all the work for me." Chisa scratched the side of her head. "I-I'm not claiming to be any good, though… This is just a hobby of mine whenever I dunno what to do."
Munakata cocked his head in surprise. I… actually didn't know that… He realized, looking at Chisa with curiosity invading his eyes. She was the person he had spent the most time with in the past year, aside from his best friend Juzo.
Whenever he learned something new about her, the boy felt like he had done something more than simply that. It felt like a victory, getting to know more about somebody he cared for. After all, there were only a couple of individuals he really cared about.
"Well, this is entirely alright," Yuki chipped in, reassuring her new student. "If you force your writing, it won't be any good. I personally only write when I'm in the mood, which is something I'd advise to anyone who wants to try their hand at writing." She smiled at Chisa. "Thank you. I'm happy to see that you care for the subject."
The redhead bowed before returning to her seat, exchanging a smile with Kyosuke as she did.
I'd be curious to read what Yukizome writes… He thought, observing her fiddling with a strand of her long hair cutely. It is odd that she never told me about it.
"Alright… anyone else?" the young woman asked. She frowned when no new hands went up after a few seconds. "Well, that's a shame. I'm afraid I'll have to choose someone myself, then."
The teacher looked around the room as nearly all the students pretended to be doing something else, whether it was taking something out, tying their shoes… However, one student made the mistake of looking at the teacher right in the eyes for less than a split second.
"What about you, young man?" Yuki asked Kyosuke, who wanted to sigh but didn't. "Could you come to the board and tell us what literature makes you think of?"
The Student Council President noticed Chisa smirk at him, making him roll his eyes. He stood up without a word and walked to the board.
"I didn't catch your name, young man," the teacher said.
"Kyosuke Munakata, ma'am," he replied politely, giving a quick bow. She nodded, urging him to begin. "Well, literature isn't a subject I know much about, but I do have an opinion about it."
"That's good! Having an opinion, even if it's negative, is better than nothing!" the young woman encouraged, smiling at her student. "We're all ears!"
The white-haired boy took one more second to think. "Reading from the great authors of the past allows one to be set on a better path. You learn from the mistakes of others and don't repeat them yourself. It gives you insight into what people's flaws are, making it easier to understand their character."
Kyosuke Munakata was driven by ambition. He believed - no, he was sure - that he would reach the very top of the ladder. Whatever it would take, he would rise to the utmost heights, putting in their place the people who'd get in the way.
Ever since his birth, power was the one thing constantly on Kyosuke's mind. Being the Class Representative, the Student Council President… These weren't enough for him.
He wanted more.
"If you seek something, you must be willing to fight to obtain it. That is what the great leaders of this world all wrote, and this is a motto I stick to," he added, his eyes filling with determination. "I do not write, and I don't read often, but I try to make these readings worth something."
Yuki nodded. "That's something I can get behind. Just like forcing your writing can't be good, forcing your reading can't be, either. Thank you, Kyosuke. You can go back to your seat now."
Wordlessly, the boy did just that. Yuki went back to her desk, and the class went on.
Kyosuke stared at the front cover of the book, a treatise, with curious eyes. Emile, or On Education, the title read. They were asked to read the first book for the next class. The plan was for them to study it together with their teacher.
Hm… What do I make of that book…? He wondered. The Ultimate most often read books about military strategy, diplomacy, political influence… A treatise on the subject of pedagogy was a first for him.
The boy turned around, noticing Chisa running towards him. His eyes stared at the orange-haired girl, watching her approach him, her own copy of the book in hand.
"Yukizome. What is it?"
His voice had come out colder than he wanted it to be. Chisa pouted, and he knew why.
"Call me Chisa already!"
Kyosuke rolled his eyes and sighed. "Did you need me for something?" He preferred to ignore her inquiries. There wasn't anyone the boy called by their first name, even his two closest friends.
Seeing that he wouldn't budge, the girl dropped it and smiled at him. "I was wondering if you'd like to spend some time together since Juzo isn't here."
He narrowed her eyes on her. It wasn't unusual for the housekeeper to ask him to hang out, but it was rare for her to be so imprecise about what she actually wanted to do.
"Did you have anything in mind?" he asked, deciding to pry for more detail.
"Well…" A pink blush appeared on her cheeks, which was usual. "I thought we could walk to the river and maybe read our book together. We could grab lunch there, too."
Kyosuke was hesitant. On the one hand, he enjoyed spending time with the girl, but on the other, he was a busy young man.
"C'mon…?" She got on her tiptoes and looked at him with absolutely adorable eyes. "Pretty please…? With a cherry on top…?"
Yukizome… She knew he couldn't resist that look. Chisa Yukizome, even if she didn't know it, could claim to have done something no one else had ever done: making Kyosuke Munakata's heart melt.
The boy liked everything about her: her personality, her beauty, her voice, even her flaws.
Of course, feelings of the romantic kind weren't meant to be disclosed so simply, as far as he was concerned, but he did like her.
Probably too much for his own good, he once thought.
"Fine, you've convinced me."
He could see the relief spread across her face. She was beaming. "Great! Let's go, then!"
"Y-Yukizome, wait…!" he stuttered as the girl took his wrist with energy and began to drag him out of the building, making him sweatdrop.
There could be no mistake: this was Chisa Yukizome, all right.
The two classmates smiled as the water massaged their feet. Tokyo had plenty of rivers with beautiful sceneries, but this one was their favorite. It was quiet, save for the sound of the birds singing and of the river flowing.
They bit into their sandwiches in silence, their books set aside for now. Kyosuke stared into the distance, focusing on the carefully organized flight of the birds in the sky.
He, too, dreamed of one day leading people in this way.
"What are you thinking about, Kyosuke?"
He stayed silent for a few more seconds, observing the birds flying away and into the distance. "Nothing important, Yukizome."
She didn't sound convinced but dropped it, nonetheless.
They continued to eat in comfortable silence for a couple of minutes, relaxing together.
"What do you wanna do after we've graduated, Kyosuke?" Chisa suddenly asked him.
"I don't know yet, Yukizome," he admitted. "Whatever I need to do to become somebody important, I suppose."
"Hm-hm, I see. That does sound like you." He let out a barely audible chuckle. "Personally, I just wanna help people. I feel the happiest when I help people, so that's what I wanna do. I don't know how well that'll work, but I'll do my best."
Kyosuke nodded. That was yet another thing he admired in the pretty young woman: her determination. They had different goals, but they shared that, at least. The way her eyes shined whenever she was helpful to someone - to him, mainly - was just beautiful.
"It'll work, Yukizome. You have all it takes to succeed." He believed that with all his heart. "But don't push yourself too much. Your well-being matters to me."
"Oh, stop that; you'll make me blush!" She pouted, and a slight blush did indeed appear on her cheeks. "You endearing idiot…" Kyosuke heard her mutter, which made him laugh a bit.
To hear Kyosuke laugh was as rare as hearing him use the housekeeper's first name. But this rarity made the girl understand how precious it was.
"Okay, so should we start reading? It's what we came here for in the first place, right?" she suggested, and he gave a nod of approval. She grabbed her own book and brought it in between them so that they could both see.
However, when she did, her hand slipped, causing her eyes to widen in panic as the book threatened to fall into the river, only to be swiftly caught by Kyosuke.
"T-Thanks, Kyosuke… That was close…" she said. The boy placed the book back at her side, his hand brushing hers as he did. A shiver ran down their spines.
Chisa was touch-sensitive, but the Student Council President avoided physical contact like the plague. It made him feel uncomfortable, but there, he felt his heartbeat accelerate just at the touch of the girl's skin.
"Y-Yukizome…" he breathed, his hand instinctively moving closer before his fingers intertwined with hers. "Y-Yukizome…"
They stared at each other in the eyes before she leaned closer, and Kyosuke could feel her breath tickle his skin. Unsure of what to do, the young man simply closed his eyes and let Chisa lead the dance. She captured his lips with her own in a soft and cutely hesitant kiss.
With a moan, Munakata's lips parted to grant Chisa entrance, and when their tongues touched, Kyosuke thought he was dreaming. His other hand moved to cup her cheek and deepen the kiss until Chisa pulled away slowly.
"K-Kyosuke…" she muttered, out of breath.
Satisfied by the sound of her own name escaping Kyosuke's lips, the girl smiled.
"That felt good, Kyosuke."
The white-haired boy looked away with a blush. He very much agreed, but he didn't want to admit it. Kissing Chisa had been a fantasy of his - whether he would admit it to himself or not - but actually doing it was something else.
"Well, let's read, okay?" she said, picking up the book, as she noticed him being so flustered. "I can hold the left page while you hold the right page, okay? I'll tell you when I'm done reading so we can move onto the next page."
Kyosuke nodded, although he wasn't focusing on the book at all. The sensation of Chisa's lips on his own just didn't want to go away, no matter how much he tried to forget about it. He decided that he would kiss her again.
He didn't know when, but he would.
And maybe the words that didn't want to escape his throat would, then.
Chisa opened the book, and the two classmates began to read. What Kyosuke didn't know was that the truth of the world they would soon be living in could be summed up in the first line.
"Everything is good as it leaves the hand of the Author of things; everything degenerates in the hands of man."