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The Issues We Both Face

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Ding!
A sound rang from her computer. She groaned and trudged over unwillingly. It was a message from her friend, Amia, or rather, Mizuki Akiyama.
Amia<3! : Enaaaaa! Can you come to school with me today?????
Enanan: Um… why??? You know I have night classes
Amia<3! : Becaaaauuuuuse! Besides, you’re allowed to take day courses too, riiiiight???
Enanan: Ugh. Fine, I’ll come with
Amia<3! : Yay!!~
Amia<3! : I’ll wait in front of your house! Lil’ Bro-Kun already left, right??
Enanan: Mhm. See you
The brown-haired girl, Ena Shinonome, sighed. Seems like she had to get ready. The girl got into her uniform, brushed her teeth, and grabbed her bag, not forgetting her sketchbook. That was vital for improving her non-existent talent.
If only I were more like Mafayu…
That thought surprised her. Mafayu?! Ms “I have talent but I’m willing to give it up because I’m having an identity crisis,” like, suck. It. up! Ugh! She hated that so much… Mafayu has so much, yet she wants to end it all. At least Kanade wants to live and save whoever, and Mizuki supposedly “loves their life.”
That got her thinking. “Their?” Mizuki had pronouns in their bio for everything. “They/them.” But why? They looked extremely feminine. It was… Something off to Ena. On top of that, she had heard rumors about Mizuki. She didn’t know much, however, she did know that Mizuki felt uncomfortable with the term “she.”
Walking outside, she saw the pink-haired person waving at her with a sparkling smile. Ena blushed slightly. No one had ever done that for her… Not even Futaba. She had always just smiled at Ena and beckoned her to walk with her.
“Ena! You actually came out of your house for me! How sweet!~”
“Eh- Hey! I’ve come out of my house for other reasons…”
“Yeah, yeah… Come on, come on, let’s go!~”
The pair walked while talking… About social media, about fashion, about little stuffed animals, anything.
“Oh, we’re here! Agh, how are you in your second year? They’re supposed to be all cool and mysterious! You’re just short and cute!”
“Eh?! I-I- I won’t disagree with the cute part… but short?! Excuse me?!”
“Ha! I’m not wrong though!~” They said, before running towards the first-year hallways. Argh… They did not just… Wait, wait, wait, were they flirting with her??
Blushing in embarrassment, Ena made her way to her classes, the ones that she was allowed to take if she were to come to normal classes. In front of her was that purple-haired guy, the one who Mizuki was friends with… Rui Kamishiro-Kun, was it?
He turned around right at that moment, funnily enough.
“Oh, you’re Shinonome Ena-Chan, right? Mizuki mentioned you.”
“…They have?”
“Mhm. The whole, ‘she’s a great friend, she’s willing to listen to me, she cares about my feelings,’ you know?”
Ena’s eyes widened. Mizuki… MIZUKI, talked about her like that? The rooftop incident was something, sure, and Ena had made a promise that she wasn’t willing to break anytime soon, but she didn’t think that Mizuki would’ve talked about her like that…
“Hm? Shinonome-Chan?”
“Eh?- Um- Sorry, sorry, got lost in thought… Did they- Did they say anything else…?”
The boy smiled, but in a weird, creepy, psychotic way. How the hell did Mizuki get along well with this guy?? Wait a second, they’re both weirdos… Why was Ena such a weirdo magnet… Those two, Mafayu, her brother, his boyfriend (even though her stupid brother denies it)… The list goes on and on.
“Oh, just nothing.”
Ena rolled her eyes. This guy’s so damn annoying…
Class starts and ends in a flash, not that Ena listened. She was busy sketching. She needed to get better. She needed to simply be as good- or better yet more- than Mafayu.
“Say, say, Ena-Chan. How do you feel about Mizuki?”
The weird, creepy guy randomly tapped on Ena’s shoulder after saying this. She hated him with every inch of her being.
“They’re…Quite annoying. Yet also pretty… Urgh, why do they get to be so pretty…”
Rui smiled and then left. Weirdo…
Ena headed towards the roof to eat. It should be quiet there… People usually ate in the cafeteria or the hallway, right? She headed towards the roof and opened the door… And then to her dismay, she heard people up there talking. Familiar voices. One deep and teasing, the other sly and unnerving. The girly-looking one who wasn’t a girl (as far as Ena could tell) looked up and waved at Ena excitedly.
“Ena! Hey! Wow, I was about to shoot you a message too!~”
“Ah, Ena-Chan, long time no see.”
“Uh-huh… Wait, hang on, when did we get on a first-name basis?”
“Oh, I thought we were on good terms, are we not?”
“Oh let me think for a good second… No. No, we're not on good terms.”
“Enaaa, sit down already!”
The girl sat down with her friend and the weird creepy guy. This was going to be a long lunch period. Rui smiled at her mischievously. Ena responded to this with a glare, and he answered with a “wounded” face.
“So you two are part of that online group? The 25 o’clock one?” What is this idiot up to…
“Mhm! I do animation, she does cover art, and sometimes we do vocals~”
“Yep. The other two do the songwriting and lyrics.”
Rui looked slightly disappointed as if he were hoping for the two of us to say more than that… What else was he expecting them to say?
“Mizuki, may I speak to you for a moment?”
“Sure thing… We’ll be back, Ena.”
Ena watched as the two headed off near the staircase. She looked at their faces, hoping to catch something, however, the only thing she saw was Mizuki panicking and Rui laughing in a friendly-ish way.
She pulled out her sketchbook and started practicing. There were drafts for albums, anatomy practices, coloring experiments, anything you would normally expect… Except for one thing near the back of it. That thing was something that nobody was ever going to see.
“Sorry, Ena-Chan. We’re finished.”
“Mhm! Ooh, what’re you drawing?”
They got close to her. Extremely close. Their faces were almost touching. Ena blushed slightly. Why? She wasn’t sure.
Mizuki’s eyes sparkled in the afternoon sun. They looked excited. But was that it? How did they feel deep down? Ena still questioned this, even though it had been a couple of months since they talked about that.
Rui looked at her drawing too. His eyes slightly shined, much to Ena’s surprise. Why did he look impressed?
“That’s good, Ena-Chan. You’re a great artist,” he said, smiling at her. Ena felt sick.
“Yeah, yeah! Just like usual~” Mizuki smiled at her. Was this a lie too? Just like that facade of theirs?
“…Thanks,” she said, half-heartedly. They were both lying. To her. About her art. Her art wasn’t anything good. Lies, lies, lies. That was all she heard. From everyone. Nobody genuinely thought it looked good. They would much rather look at his art, or maybe Futaba’s. Hers was the worst. A menace to artists all around.
And it seemed as if that wasn’t going to ever change.
~~~
Mizuki looked at Ena’s sketch. It was amazing. The pose the person was in looked realistic, the way the hair and clothing “flowed” was so fluid, it was just… Amazing.
And then they looked at Ena’s face. She was frowning. Why? Mizuki wasn’t sure. Why was she frowning after she had SKETCHED a masterpiece like this?
“Nonono, stop it,” they frowned.
“E-Eh?! What does that even mean?!” She yelled back.
“Don’t frown, silly! You and that piece of paper are both really amazing and pretty!” They laughed back, half teasing. They weren’t sure how they felt about Ena. She- She wanted to listen to them talk about their problems. Mizuki had started getting this odd feeling around them, like their heart was on a roller coaster and that they just wanted to be in Ena’s arms forever and ever.
Ena looked at them, surprised and flustered.
“Huh? Um- Thanks, Mizuki,” she said, nervously.
“Maybe you should be a motivational speaker, Mizuki,” Rui laughed. Mizuki jokingly scowled at him. Ena rolled her eyes.
“You two act like children,” she said.
“Well, I might as well enjoy being a child while I can,” Rui said in a slightly shivery voice.
Mizuki and Rui continued goofing around, when Mizuki then glanced slightly at Ena and saw her staring at them. With confused, concerned, dark eyes. Mizuki immediately glanced away. Ena was… Mizuki really liked her. They thought she was perfect and that she was adorable and that they were nowhere near as good as her. She had that assertiveness that Mizuki didn’t have, but she was also passionate.
“Mizuki? Mizuki…” Mizuki's train of thoughts was ruined by a certain brown haired girl waving her hand in their face.
“Oh, oh! Sorry! I was thinking, aha!”
“Well, Ena and I are heading back to class. See you Mizuki,” Rui said, getting up as if waiting to leave. Before turning towards the door, he winked at Mizuki.
Ena rolled her eyes, once again. Mizuki noticed that she did not like Rui. At all. It was funny, to Mizuki. Aaand then they started thinking about why Rui had winked. It had to do with the conversation they had had in private. They blushed slightly just thinking about the conversation.
“Say, Mizuki. You keep on looking oddly at Ena. Anything off?”
Mizuki had jumped. And started blushing. With a bright red face, they nodded.
“Ack, I didn’t think that you wouldn’t notice, but- ack- ugh, that’s so annoying! You’re always so hard to read…” They said, feeling annoyed.
“Haha! But on another note, do you… Maybe…”
He leaned closer to their ear.
“Like her?”
“EH?! UM- NO…?”
“…You can be a horrible liar, Mizuki.”
“Haah… I know… Fine- FINE. YES. I- um- yeah.”
Rui laughed, causing Mizuki to jokingly glare at him.
“Well, you two are walking back together, correct? Why not tell her? She seems to be… Intrigued by you.”
“I-I can try. Anyway, come on, let’s- let’s go back already!~”
Mizuki sighed and headed to their class. Throughout their entire class, they spun their pen in their hand, and thought. Once it ended, they waited at the front of the school and waited for Ena, trying to figure out how to say what they needed to.
“Mizuki! Ready to go?”
“Mhm! Come on, come on!” they grinned. Ena smiled back and walked next to them.
“Sooooo, Ena…” Mizuki started, but at the very moment they started speaking, Ena spoke too.
“Something’s off. With-with you.”
Mizuki stopped walking and looked down.
“…Isn’t there always?”
“Eh? You’re- not going to resist? Like- last time?”
“Well, at this point, I already know that you’re aware, haha…!”
Ena looked at them in a concerned manner. Mizuki winced.
“I-I just can’t tell you. You know that, Ena. I can’t- bring myself to.”
“Agh, Mizuki! You don’t have to tell me, but I want you to be able to- ugh, listen, I want you to be able to rely on me, o-okay?!”
Mizuki widened their eyes and looked at Ena. She was dead serious. This was exactly why they loved her.
The pair walked awkwardly until Mizuki spoke.
“Got it, Ena… Thanks!” They grinned.
Ena averted eyes with them. Her face was red. Mizuki looked over at the girl and braced themself for what they were about to do.
Mizuki clenched and unclenched their fist before intertwining their hand with Ena’s. She stopped walking and stared at Mizuki for a second before looking away and squeezing Mizuki’s hand tighter.
“…I-I don’t know how things’ll work out… But… We can try, ‘kay?”
Mizuki looked at the ground, then at Ena and smiled.
…Maybe this way we’ll be together. Forever. And maybe… Just maybe… I can tell you.
.
.
.
End