It’s nothing, you’re in denial.
(5)

“Bree, over here!”

I saw Vivian standing outside the dormitory.
His nose was red as if he had been waiting for us for a while.
Despite his runny nose, Vivian simply smiled without minding his appearance.
His awkward smile kept reminding me of what Leto had said last night.

“It’s a pity we don’t have any classes together today.”

Vivian mumbled.
On a different note, today’s weather was cold from the strong wind.
How long had he been waiting for me? I could imagine Vivian rubbing his hands while glancing at the students coming out of the dormitory one by one.

Feeling conflicted, I stared at Vivian and he smiled shyly.

“What’s wrong? Is there something on my face?”

“……No.”

I glanced at Leto, who passed by me.
After the talk with him last night, he hasn’t spoken a word since then.
I couldn’t leave it like that.
This matter clearly needed to be solved soon, for the sake of both Vivian and Leto.

Swallowing my saliva, I looked at Vivian’s face, which was pale as ice.

“Vivian, do you have time?”

“Huh?”

“Can I talk to you for a moment?”

Vivian’s smile was slowly erased from my serious tone.
He took a step back without answering right away.
Hey, I have no intention of hurting you……?

“I-I think I have a stomach ache.
I’ll be going first!”

Vivian ran towards the main building before I could even say a thing.
Stunned, I stared blankly at Vivian’s back.
It was an important matter I needed to talk about……Even if I tried to call for him now, Vivian had already disappeared. 

“You’re too soft.”

At Leto’s words, I glared at him.
That was something I already knew in my heart.
I was offended by Leto, who didn’t even realise my inner feelings and only spitted out painful words.
Leto headed towards the main building, disregarding my feelings.
I felt like a punching bag.

I used to visit Vivian several times after my major classes were over.
So like before, I waited for him in front of class Y, but when he saw me, Vivian immediately ran away.
Dumbfounded, I called and chased after Vivian but his feet were a lot faster than I thought.

In the end, time passed by without being able to catch up to him and I only wasted my energy.
While breathing heavily, I glanced at Leto, who stood next to me.

“Why are you here?”

“Do you need my help?”

“Huh?”

Why would he offer his help? I became a little hesitant.
I was slightly reluctant, but if it went on like this, I would end up not being able to reject him.

Eventually, I nodded, thinking that I should definitely refuse Vivian’s confession.
Then, a corner of Leto’s mouth curled up.

Uh…I think I made the wrong choice.

* * *

“Leah, what on earth is this?”

“I read it in a book.”

What kind of book did he read? Leto was applying makeup on my face using products borrowed from another student.
Apart from the ball or other special occasions, I never wore makeup so I was not used to this feeling.

In the first place, it was strange to be within a breath away from Leto and the thought of him touching my skin felt ticklish.
For some reason, my stomach was fluttering.

“Close your eyes.”

Leto said quietly.
But, should I really leave Leto to do my makeup? Although he claims he was a woman now, he was actually a man……In , there was no mention of him being good with makeup.
And if you think about it, wouldn’t it be harsh to reject Vivian’s confession with pretty makeup on?

“What kind of book was that?”

.”

Wow, what a unique title.
How terrible would it be that it made your partner hate it? I found a hand mirror on the desk and picked it up.
Then, I looked at my face……

“Hey, I told you not to peek.”

Leto said in a dissatisfied tone.
I was dumbfounded.
The thick makeup felt strange and nothing like me.
To be honest, it was freaky.
I was worried when he took a long time to apply the makeup, but I didn’t know it would end up like this. 

Not over yet, he started spraying two different perfumes all over my body.
I got dizzy from the scent of two strong perfumes at once.

He smiled contentedly after the perfume was applied, indicating he was finally finished.

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Read only at Dropped Inks.

“Alright, let’s go now.”

“Where?”

“What do you mean where? To Vivian.”

Leto had obviously eaten the wrong thing.
How am I supposed to go out like this? Especially when Vivian was already avoiding me right now.
Wouldn’t this make him run away even more? When I hesitated, Leto patted my back and opened his mouth.

“Don’t worry, I’ll handle Vivian.”

“What?”

Leto dragged me outside.
As soon as I walked down the hallway, I felt like an outsider so I lowered my head.
Soon, the student’s whispers could be heard nearby.
I also heard laughter.
My face eventually turned red.

On the other hand, Leto, who applied the makeup, looked rather happy as if he was finding this situation rather amusing.

That cheeky–…!

But looking at my strange appearance, I wasn’t sure if Vivian would refuse me first before I could even reject him.
Thinking I should just endure it for a bit, I kept my mouth shut.

“Vivian!”

Leto called Vivian with a loud voice once he found him.
It was the first time Leto had called for Vivian.
When I raised my head slightly, Vivian was staring at Leto and me.
I wondered if he was also surprised.
I hurriedly lowered my head again.

“H-Hi, Leah.”

Vivian’s stuttering voice could be heard.
Leto looked at Vivian and me at the same time and said, “Have a proper conversation.” before walking away.
In an instant, only the two of us remained.

“Would you like to sit on that bench?”

I nodded at Vivian’s words.

“I didn’t know Leah would call out my name so loudly.”

Vivian said with a smile.
I mirrored him.
It would have been unimaginable in the past – the quiet and cold person shouting loudly in a crowded garden.

“I’m sorry I kept avoiding you in the morning.
I didn’t have the courage to see your face.
Because……I knew I was going to be rejected without even confessing.
It’s a bit depressing.”

“……”

“I thought you hated me.”

“T-That’s not it!”

I shook my head in surprise.
Startled, Vivian widened his eyes and started smiling again.
Against that bright smile, I immediately became tense.

I even made him misunderstand.

“I, I don’t hate you.”

When I spoke, Vivian nodded.

“I know, Bree.”

“……So.”

“Wait.”

Vivian stopped my words.
He erased his smile and stared at me with a quite serious face.
I was oddly nervous.
As a result, my face became stiff and Vivian suddenly burst into laughter.

“Don’t make that face, Bree.”

“……Sorry.”

“I like you.”

Vivian confessed right away without giving me time.
My heart felt like falling apart from that confession.

“I like you, Bree.”

Vivian said again, even softly.
Vivian’s tone was so soft, in hopes that it wouldn’t burden me.
Was there such a kind confession in this world?

“Now, reject me.”

When Vivian said confidently, I nodded.
Yes, this was also for Vivian’s sake.

“I’m sorry.”

Vivian laughed.
He seemed to understand my feelings well.

“I can’t accept your feelings.”

Vivian looked refreshed from my words.
The weight on my heart, which had felt heavy this whole time, disappeared like waves.
Vivian immediately stood up from his seat and held out his hand to me.
When I accepted his hand, Vivian shook it and moved his lips more comfortably than before.

“Let’s be good friends, from now on.”

“Yes.”

“And Bree, you look so much prettier without anything on.
Yo-You’re still pretty, though.”

“Huh?”

“Well, I have class soon.
I’ll go now!”

Only then did I realise my appearance from Vivian’s words.
Vivian had confessed to me while staring at my embarrassing face! I couldn’t even stand the terrible smell of perfume on my body, let alone the makeup.

Why on earth did Vivian smile so brightly, confessed to me and wishes to remain as friends even in this state?

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Read only at Dropped Inks.

“You really like me.”

I was very grateful to Vivian.
I also felt sorry for his pure heart and intentions.
Then, I finally understood what Kazen had said to me.
The ultimate intention……

“Did you reject him?”

Leto approached me from where he had stood.
I was different from Vivian.
If Vivian had approached me with a pure heart, I had approached Leto with a hidden motive while confessing.
I could notice the strange gap between Leto and me.
How sad and heartbroken would Leto be if he realised my intentions?

“What’s wrong?”

Leto looked at my face and frowned.

“Did he say something weird?”

“……No.”

So, how should I approach Leto now? That was the question.

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