Kayo and Shin found a bench under a tree to sit under.
The academy campus was huge, so there were many locations like this one. The one they found happened to be quiet, adding to the tension between the two of them.
Kayo was the first to break the silence. "S-since we'll be doing this regularly, I can start making both of us lunch. Like a bento."
"Since you're helping me out, it's the least I can do."
Silence filled the air around them again. They quietly ate away at the loaf of bread they purchased for lunch with little to no words between them.
Different thoughts ran through each of their minds.
'I-it's so awkward!' Shin internally screamed. 'This is my chance, but I don't know what to say!'
'Is she going to think I'm weird?'
'But she's fine with me pretending to be her boyfriend, though, right? She must have some goodwill towards me; I can't ruin this!'
Meanwhile, Kayo was having another battle in her head.
'Does he think I'm weird? Why is he not saying anything?'
"T-this bread is pretty good, huh?" Shin tried to start a conversation.
"Do you want to try mine?" Kayo smiled.
As one handed bread over to the other, their hands clashed in midst of the awkwardness. The bread then lifelessly slipped out of their hands and fell on the ground like a dead fish.
That night, Earl received a visitor at his door.
He opened the door to find a familiar face. Glistening black hair and creamy white skin. A faint scent of lotus lingered in the air. It was Kayo.
"Kayo? How can I help you?"
"Well," The Japanese beauty shyly looked away. "I just wanted to give you my thanks for today."
"The matter with Mark? It's nothing."
"Why did you help us?"
Earl took a second to think about his answer. The silence made Kayo writhe in discomfort.
"You and Shin are so innocent and pure. It's honestly quite adorable to look at."
"Yes, that's the word." Earl leaned his face close to Kayo's until their faces nearly touched. "You like him, do you not? The same could be said about him."
"I don't know about that." She gently shook her head.
"From an outsider's perspective, it seems to be that way. You seem to enjoy it- pretending to be in a relationship with Shin."
"I... don't dislike it."
"Isn't that how all relationships form? If you don't dislike it, you must enjoy it, right?"
"It's not exactly like that. There's also a middle point."
"That's true, but it's also a matter of perspective. I prefer to be polarizing, you see. Either I like something, or not at all. It keeps life easy."
"You seem to be very experienced."
"Shall we take it inside? I can't keep a lady standing outside."
Kayo took Earl's invitation and stepped into his room. The door gently closed behind her with Earl's telekinesis.
Inside, the arrangement of the room was simple. A bed, a desk, a closet. Only the bare necessities.
However, this arrangement quickly changed before her eyes. The desk, which was situated at the corner of the room, suddenly shifted to the middle of the room. Extra chairs came out of the ground, and the room suddenly became accommodating to guests.
Kayo looked at Earl with wonder.
"Have a seat."
She promptly took a seat.
"I'll prepare tea for you."
"You don't need to do all that-"
"No worries. It's the bare minimum I can do as the host."
As such, Kayo could only sit tight in her seat as Earl prepared tea in the background.
Her attention shifted to the only object on the desk- a picture frame. She couldn't hold back her curiosity to take a look at the picture.
Inside the picture. Earl and Alea sat together happily. Next to them were beautiful people she had never seen before.
A mature black-haired beauty. A demon girl with bicoloured eyes. A dark elf with golden eyes. An elven beauty with an eerie resemblance to Alea.
"It's my family." The refreshing smell of tea accompanied Earl's voice.
"I didn't know you were related to Alea." In Kayo's eyes, Alea was a cold, mysterious figure despite them living in the same house. On top of being a goddess-like beauty, she was a princess and ranked 1 in their year!
"She's my fiancee." Earl smiled.
"I didn't know you had such a special status. Should I call you a prince?" Kayo suddenly felt comfortable enough to crack a joke.
"I am no one special. More importantly, it's quite rude to let the tea cool after I prepared it for you." Earl teased.
"What if it tastes funny?" She couldn't help but retort. After which, she finally took a sip of the fragrant tea. It felt like a refreshing stream of water coursed through her body. Her mind felt rejuvenated.
"I'm a professional tea brewer, you know."
"Who knows?" Earl chuckled.
They passed time with more needless conversations. An hour quickly passed before Kayo went on her way out.
"It's getting quite late. I can't keep a lady in my room for so long." Earl casually stated.
Kayo felt like she was getting chased out. "No one has ever treated me like this."
Earl ignored her remark and held the door open smilingly. "I enjoyed the conversation today. You have my best wishes for your luck with Shin."
Kayo recalled the conversation when she returned to her room. Earl's soft voice, his warm eyes, and their interaction.
She has never met anyone like him. A seed was planted in her mind. She was starting to become curious about him.