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Is A Name That Important?

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Mother always said to double check markers and pens and the like before using them. Permanent markers were always a firm no, as were glitter pens – not that the glittering ink properly stuck to skin in the first place. The easiest to wash away were paints, but the most accessible were regular ball-point pens that sometimes stabbed into the skin unpleasantly and left their inky mark for more than a couple washes. Smooth skin marred by curved lines as beautiful as a ballroom dance or as hasty as chicken scratches as the animal ran around without a head.

But wasn’t the person behind the words worth it? A small price to pay, really.

Rubbing skin raw and red in an effort to wipe away the canvas and start anew, all to speak to the person that is the other half of one’s soul.

A soulmate just on the other side of the ink-stained skin. The one and only; in the whole entire world.

The tingling sensation of words appearing bubbles to the surface, ticklish in their delivery and leaving behind a subtle warmth that isn’t so much felt outside as it is a feeling within. Running a finger over the prickling spot on the underside of her forearm, she stares at the new words written there.

They started their first conversation when she had been much younger, barely able to hold a pen in her hand and fingers trembling as large, unsteady letters were drawn upon her small forearm barely able to fit only a couple words. A hello.

They were both older now, able to hold better conversations and write in tinier text before running out of room upon their bodies and needing to wipe it clean. Her soulmate’s handwriting was neat at times, rushed at others, but always legible. An elegance in chaos. Even now – even after years have passed since their first – the words written on her arm were teasingly playful, curved prettily yet drawn while in a fit of shuddering laughter.

That’s no fun! Imagine it! The world is endless in possibilities!

The ink was blue today, thin like it came from a regular pen. Her soulmate had taken a liking to markers lately, so this is a rare occurrence; one that she could count the number of times it happened on just two hands and have a few fingers to spare.

Her own pen still in hand, she lays her arm flat and writes her next question right beneath their words: If you still won’t give me your name, are you old enough to own a phone?

Wahaha! Don’t get spoiled by technology! Let’s meet when we were meant to. By fate.

This is their routine. At least once a year, she would ask for their name. Like always, they told her to imagine it, let her mind run wild and come up with the most suitable name she thinks that fits them. And when they meet in person – when fate had planned them to – they can have a second first hello.

Before she can answer, her forearm tingles once more, another message getting delivered to her by the rules of the invisible world: Besides, isn’t this more exciting than sending a text? Don’t you feel closer? And this way, if we do meet without knowing, we can grow even closer without anything looming over our heads like we HAVE to.

She can’t help the smile that lifts her cheeks. They were always so annoyingly playful yet deeply emotional.

This is the first she has asked them for a phone number. She can’t say she wasn’t expecting a refusal, but she supposes they’re right. Writing on skin, using a magic that connects their two souls – one soul split into two – to communicate, there is something wholly intimate about it. Something for just the two of them; between just the two of them.

She can always write her own name on her arm, forcing them to see it; however, that never felt right. If they insist on this way of meeting, this endless imagination, who is she to spoil their dreams? It seems to make them happy – this endless unknown. So, she will wait. Patiently go about her life until the fate they so adore to reference schedules their first true meeting.

You’re right. She writes back. Shifting her eyes to the wall clock to her side, her grin falls into a pout. I have to go to school.

Putting the pen down, she reaches for the wet cloth, ready to wipe away their early morning conversation.

Oh! Wait!

Her hand stops, hovering just above her skin. Somewhere else on her body tingles. She puts the cloth down and pushes the sleeve of her uniform shirt on her dominant arm up to the crook of her elbow. In the next moments, five parallel lines bleed onto her skin, the underside of her forearm completely covered from wrist to elbow. One by one, like raindrops falling from the sky, music notes litter on top of the parallel lines.

Picking up her pen again, she goes back to the other arm. What’s this?

A melody!

Are you a musician? Song writer?

A genius!

She lets out a short laugh. Of course they didn’t answer her question. There isn’t much space left, but she squeezes in her next words: I can’t read it though.

Just remember it!

Alright. I will. With her promise written in tiny letters, she puts the pen down again and exchanges it for the wet cloth. By the time their words are wiped away from her skin, her forearm is damp yet slightly warm from the friction. Turning to her other arm, she stares at the pile of music notes for a moment, taking them in.

She will have to look up how to read its message later. Grabbing her new phone, she snaps a quick picture, making sure it isn’t blurry before wiping away the ink and fixing her clothes.

Today is her first day of high school.

She didn’t realize then that it was also her last day of peace.

Maybe it was because she was so caught up in her own problems that she didn’t notice her soulmate’s own disappearance from her skin.

Once, her words were “Don’t you see anything wrong here? This isn’t right. Let’s fight for freedom.” But soon, they turned into “Maybe I was wrong, maybe what I did hurt way more than it helped.” A rebellion failed; labelled like a traitor of the state and driven out by the masses with a price on her head. Who were once trusted allies turned into bitter enemies and she is left out in the cold, abandoned and alone.

Maybe she was wrong.

When forced to transfer high schools, her first pick wasn’t where she ended up. Rather, where she is now was never even a thought that crossed her mind. A school full of idols, made by idols, for idols. She never had an interest in music; doesn’t know the first thing about it, frankly. What possessed her to accept the strange offer to be their very first producer student? She had done so without thinking, something deep inside urging her to accept and go forth. And now, somehow, she has to learn what makes an idol and how to let their individual colors shine.

Being in a place full of melodious tunes and the screeching of shoes sliding against polished floors reminds her of the melody she was once gifted. Given to her by her soulmate that has all but disappeared. But she has, as well, in their eyes.

Maybe she was wrong.

Maybe they kept her away because she was trouble; unwanted. No need to give a name to someone they want nothing to do with – to someone they just humor.

Still, with the resources now in the palm of her hands, she decodes the music notes, the picture still safely saved within her phone’s memory. The melody is pretty when played on the piano, if nothing else. It holds no true message other than the feelings written deep within the sound. She doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry with the tune. She doesn’t understand its intentions.

Will being around idols make it any clearer?

Are idols that are struggling to shine, oppressed underneath a system meant to elevate the mighty and crush the weak, supposed to help her understand this mystery? Imagine the unimaginable in a world full of possibilities?

Trickstar. She doesn’t know why they think she can help them. In this same situation, she failed. She failed and was driven to the edge of a cliff. Don’t they see? But she doesn’t explain this to them. Keeping mum, of course, they don’t see. Not exactly. But she’s sure they see something amiss with her.

Can a failure – an unwanted; a traitor – help them succeed their own rebellion for the same cause but with different people and steer them away from the wrong paths she once took?

Whether she helps or not, those four boys are going to rush in with impulsive steps and the fire of hope burning in their eyes. She doesn’t want to see more people end up like her. Being hurt and doing the hurting. Or left out in the cold, alone.

Maybe she will find her purpose here; led by the melody that once stained her skin.

Knights are their first, real opponent. Both on stage and off of it. As she stands anxiously, trying not to fidget and distract Mao as they stall for time, her eyes wander to her old friends littering the crowd in front of the small stage. If she can reconcile with them and start to find her happy ending, Trickstar’s story, too, must have a happily ever after. She’ll believe that, with all of her heart.

When enough time has passed and backup arrives, Knights cease their arguing and their song plays. Before she knows it, she hums a verse of the melody beneath their voices. Never has she paid attention to idols, but it was somehow familiar. Perhaps a coincidence. It’s not as though places such as shopping centers don’t play songs like these on blast. She can’t really recall where she has heard it before, however.

As the year goes on afterwards and the earth cracked beneath their feet in the face of rebellion starts to come back together, her mind wanders to her missing soulmate. Guiltily, she bites at her bottom lip. Things haven’t been great, but she can’t just use that as an excuse.

Double checking to make sure the teacher is busy lecturing, she pushes back her sleeve to just about midway down her arm. With the pen in her hand meant for note taking, she writes a simple hello.

Long time no see.

She isn’t expecting an immediate answer. However, when she gets one a scant few minutes later, she nearly jumps out of her seat. The ticklish sensation she hasn’t felt in so long startling her far more than it should.

Hey!!! Busy, aren’t you? Wahaha!

Shifting her eyes back and forth, up to the teacher, then down to her arm, she can’t help but smile. As enthusiastic as ever.

Sorry. She writes quickly in the corner of her wrist, not quite looking as she scrawls upon her skin.

No, it’s nothing. I

Her soulmate stops there for a long while. Perhaps she caught them at a bad time; not that she’s one to talk, being in the middle of class and all. It is when class is about to end does her arm tingle once more.

‘m overseas. A lot happened to me, too.

After a short pause, while she stands with the rest of the class to bow to the teacher, her soulmate continues on.

We really are soulmates. Things happening at the same time~

Though coincidentally at the same time it may be, she hopes it was nothing like what she went through. Allies turning into enemies and getting driven out or the like. If the two of them are destined to follow the same path, like her soulmate used to always suggest lightheartedly, she prays theirs was easier, whatever it is they went through.

As her classmates – the idols – file out of the classroom for lunch, she stares at her arm, ignoring them all.

I hope you’re well, then.

I hope you are, too.

Slowly but surely, she gets used to her new role. Producing idols. Being there for them when they have hiccups or doubts. Creating unique stages that not only allows them to shine in their own way, but also enjoy their chosen paths. And during this period of adjustment, she and her soulmate gradually settle back into communicating as much as they used to. A little bit every day, sometimes they spend the weekend chit chatting all night about nonsense; her skin rubbed red by the end of these sessions.

She gets the chance to work with all of the idols in Yumenosaki, learning their quirks and their skills, things that make their noses crinkle and their weaknesses. Knights, too, are among the units she works with – something invisible urging her to take care of them gently and diligently. Perhaps a song of theirs spoke to her soul and ensnared her in their trap. Or perhaps it is the way that Izumi, their temporary leader, constantly teeters on the edge of not being okay as he anxiously waits for their true leader’s return, yet acts strong.

Try as she might not to favor one unit over the other, though her heart will always have a soft spot for Trickstar, she can’t turn her back when Knights asks her to help look for their missing member – who is rumored to, at long last, be back in the area – even if the search takes her far from home or late into the night.

The sun has set by the time she spots a boy with the same features as the one shown to her through pictures. Carefully following him, unsure of how to approach, she watches as he laments about losing his things; flinching when he turns to her and calls out, knowing she has been following him for some time now. It’s worrying that he doesn’t pay much mind to it, but perhaps she should count her lucky stars that he doesn’t think she’s a strange stalker.

His wild expressions catch her off guard, but she doesn’t quite have the time to dillydally outside in the dark with a boy she just met. Besides, she has to make sure he comes home to his Knights. Shattering his fantasies, she goes against his wishes of imagining an answer and gives it to him plainly – that starting from next year, Yumenosaki will be co-ed, and she is their tester for the time being.

“Eh, alright. I’m Leo Tsukinaga, have we met before?”

Before she can really answer him, he, once again, goes off into his fantasy land and dreams up endless possibilities of who she could be and why she is here. She finds herself smiling at his enthusiasm, but has to cut him short, “The new Knights member, Tsukasa Suou, is adamant about looking for Knights’ leader. As a producer, I listen to the requests of idols.”

He calls her the Murderer of Fantasies and goes off into yet another tangent, ending in despair as he realizes he doesn’t have anything to write on while his mind conjures up music that only he can hear.

Even if he hasn’t been around, he is still an idol of Yumenosaki Academy. Besides, watching his ever-changing mood and expressions charms her in a way she hasn’t felt before. Digging into her own bag, she gives him her memo pad and a pen – the pen she was just using to draw onto her skin and chat with her mysterious soulmate earlier today.

“Thank you, I really like you. I love you! Wait just a second, I’m going to write this down, so I’ll listen to you later, maybe!” Leo says loudly, crouching onto the ground and beginning to scribble away. The pen moves so fast, she wonders if the pages will catch fire.

And what does he mean maybe? Though when she tries to address him, he growls at her.

The sky is getting pretty dark. Despite his chastise, she gives speaking to him another go. “Won’t you come back to school?”

“Ngh… I got it, fine, if I feel like it, I’ll show my face at Yumenosaki Academy. Knights is probably looking for me, but why now, after so long? I wonder what there is, though if it’s those guys, I think they can do whatever they want with their own power, right? But I mean, I don’t really have any interest in ‘pretending to be an idol’.”

His words give her pause. Just what kind of atrocities occurred the year prior? This “war” everyone speaks of; they are just high schoolers, aren’t they? But who is she to judge the large-scale destruction when she did the same and failed, everyone turning their backs to her and forcing her relocation? She swears it, within her mind, right then and there, that Leo Tsukinaga will become a shining idol without any worries. Something in her heart demands this of her.

Leo tilts his head, his monologue ending with curious eyes shining under the street lights. “Now that I think about it, it’s already been a while, but what should I call you?”

“Anzu. My name is Anzu.” She bows her head a bit; a late greeting, but better late than never.

“Anzu! Good, good. I wonder if there was a reason that became your name?” He stares off into the night sky. “Was it from a traditional point of view? Was it the trend at the time? Or maybe it was from inspiration? Wait! Don’t tell me the answer yet!”

She giggles as his energy radiates between them.

With his belongings having seemingly disappeared, she helps him get home by train and heads back, herself. He’s easy to be with, silent or talking. Their journey back to somewhere more familiar is filled with a comfortable atmosphere and not one of two strangers meeting for the first time. When they eventually part ways, she reminds him of his promise to show up at school before he disappears with the sparse crowd.

Now, freshened up and laying in her own bed, she thinks back to the encounter with Knights’ leader. An ache worms its way into her heart, missing someone else she doesn’t quite know. Turning on her side, she reaches towards her desk in a long stretch, straining her shoulder. Grabbing the closest pen, she brings it back and begins writing on her arm.

Will you tell me your name?

The answer comes immediately. Wahaha! Is it that time of year again?

If you tell me, I wouldn’t have to do this every year.

I kind of look forward to it now though~

She rolls her eyes at them.

Is it a no again?

It’s a bit of a longer wait for their reply this time.

When you imagine it, how do you think we’ll meet?

It’s her turn to take a while to answer, pondering the question written on her arm. She has thought about it, hundreds of scenarios flitting through her mind over the years. Most are mundane, like bumping into each other on the street or having mutual friends. But there are others, as though they came right out of movies or books; being at the right place at the right time.

I guess I dream of meeting naturally. Nothing fairytale like.

Then is a name that important?

No, she supposes it isn’t. They will meet when they meet, is her soulmate’s silent message.

They quickly write their next words, not giving her time to answer their rhetorical question: Oh! Speaking of, someone gave me their name today.

She wonders if this slight pang in her chest is jealousy or if she has been working too much. Meet someone new?

Yep! She was looking for me for someone else.

I’m glad she found you then.

Wahaha, I guess.

Despite talking for most of their lives, the two of them have a silent agreement not to speak much of themselves. Not where they’re from, where they are now, or what they’re doing. The mystery intrigues her soulmate more so than it does her, but she doesn’t mind indulging in their antics. To meet for the first time as complete strangers. Perhaps there really is an appeal to it.

Maybe we’ll meet like that. They write to her, their conversation coming to an end for the night.

As she scribbles her farewells, she marvels at the conversation written on her arm, noting that her soulmate is using a pen tonight. The color of the ink reminds her that Leo still holds her pen and memo pad hostage, that pen producing the same kind of blue that is temporarily saturating her skin now.

The next few months go by in a blur of activity. Knights’ leader is as eccentric as rumored; giving her a headache when he marched back into Knights full of the intent to disband them – which wasn’t part of their agreement when they first spoke, by the way. The idols can solve their problems their own way, but it doesn’t stop her from worrying over the Knights she has gotten to know over the days and the state Leo is in, frantically – desperately – looking for an answer she hopes he sees in his unit.

However, as she grows closer to all of the idols in the academy, she finds her eyes always wandering back to the boy she met after sunset who took her memo pad and pen as his own. Even as she speaks with her soulmate every night, she wonders why. It’s not as though soulmates need to be in love, but she feels strange about the notion without first meeting them and deciding for herself. She cherishes their talks and their presence in her heart, perhaps even loves them already. Which is why the current state of her feelings is a flurried mess in her mind.

“Do you listen to this song a lot, Anzu?” Leo asks, plopping onto the ground beside her.

They’re currently in the practice room. She is watching over Knights’ movements this afternoon, their upcoming live depending on perfection.

“Hm? Why do you say that?” She questions back as she turns her head, hair shifting against the mirrored wall behind her.

“You were humming part of it.”

She feels her cheeks flush, the heat piling up around her alongside the already warm dance room. “You heard that?”

“Wahaha! Your voice is pretty, you don’t have to be shy.” Leo compliments her easily, gaining an even redder color from her cheeks. “So? Is it a favorite of yours or something?”

“Ah, no, it’s not that. Not that I don’t like it!” She hastily tacks on that addition in the end. “It’s just familiar… somehow. Like I’ve heard it before.”

“Hmm~” Leo hums in thought, idly glancing towards the others talking amongst themselves – more like Izumi protesting something to Tsukasa and getting playfully picked on by Ritsu while Arashi chimes in cheekily. “It’s one of the first songs I wrote for Knights.” A wistful smile takes over his expression. She wonders what kinds of memories he holds for that time. “It’s been a while since it’s been around, maybe you’ve heard it in passing.”

“Maybe.”

“Hey, Anzu?”

“What is it?” She blinks at him curiously. Why say her name, all of a sudden, when he already had her attention?

“Have you met your soulmate?”

The question takes her by surprise. “I-I— w-why do you ask?”

Leo laughs at her, throwing his head back and hitting it against the mirror softly. “Just curious~ But don’t tell me the answer! I’ll imagine it!”

Leo Tsukinaga is a strange one, indeed.

Though he and Knights become inseparable by the end of the year, he still feels the need to test the group he cherishes with blades raised; dancing their battle dance upon the stage of their lives. Graduation comes and goes, minds and bodies aching in its aftermath of tying up loose ends and saying farewell to people they will see another day. Emotions wrought, the idols leaving their humble academy and setting off towards greater stages brings tears to most of their eyes. But even as this chapter comes to a close, another appears, waiting to be read.

Ensemble Square opens for business, bringing everyone back together as though they never left.

Arashi calls her out one day in spring, asking to meet in at a café with the others to plan Leo’s birthday party.

“Leo will be there.” Arashi had teased. The genius composer long spoiling his own surprise party by getting it out of Tsukasa without much effort.

She didn’t need the incentive; she would have gone whether or not Leo would be present at the meeting. But, really, Arashi didn’t need to make it clear that she knew!

Walking to the café in question, her wrist begins to tingle. Her soulmate has made a strange habit of drawing music notes in that spot for a bit now. When questioned, they only reply with “just felt like it.”

Now that she considers it as she opens the door, a bell above her ringing gently, she wonders if her soulmate is closer than she thinks? She’s in the music business now, surely, they’re a little closer to their fated meeting, right? And the only way to really know if someone is the other’s soulmate is to catch writing on their skin. There aren’t any sparks that fly when they’re close or lightning that thunders through their bodies when they touch.

Perhaps that’s what they’re doing – placing a symbol upon their, and inadvertently her, body to be on display for them to see. Do they suspect the two of them are close together?

“Onee-sama!” Tsukasa calls her over.

“On time, as always. Unlike a certain someone.” Izumi grumbles, eyeing one of the empty seats. “Even Kuma-kun is here.”

“Now, now.” Arashi pacifies, amusement clear in her voice. “Anzu-chan, come sit.”

“What is that supposed to mean, Secchan~” Ritsu grumbles.

“You were up late, yesterday. I half expected you to sleep through this.”

“Oh~? And how do you know that I was, hm~?”

Tsukasa’s lips drop into a worried frown, “Ritsu-senpai, I thought you were trying to rid yourself of that habit?”

Arashi giggles melodiously, “I’m sure Ritsu-chan has a good reason.”

She sits in one of the two empty chairs, watching their bantering with a light heart. It’s always fun hanging out with Knights, the group never resting from teasing one another. Once she is settled, she subtly uses her thumb to lift the sleeve of her light cardigan – spring it may be, but the air is still chilly. A single music note inked in black stains over the sensitive skin on the underside of her wrist, covering the veins that lay just beneath its surface.

She lets out a surprised sound as she is spiritedly hugged from behind her seat.

“You wear watches, Anzu? But don’t check the time, I’m not late.” Leo laughs brightly above her head.

Today, she did wear one, just for the sake of it and nothing more; the strap covering most of the music note away. But Leo doesn’t need to know that if he didn’t already see. Maybe he will think it’s a tattoo of some kind.

“You so are late.” Izumi replies dryly. “And get off of her, you’re heavy.”

“Sena~” Leo whines. “At least I showed up.”

“You were the one who wanted to. You can leave it to us, you know.” Arashi reminds him with a gentle nudge. “It was supposed to be a surprise.”

Tsukasa flushes in embarrassment and looks down after the teasing comment.

“Fufufu, asking Suu-chan to keep it a secret is like shouting it from the rooftops. We knew what we were getting into, don’t worry.”

“Now what does that mean???” Tsukasa gasps, jerking his head up so quickly, she is sure he’s about to get whiplash.

“Hey, Anzu,” Leo calls out as he sits in the last available seat next to her. “You’re getting me a gift, right?”

“Don’t just assume that!” Izumi huffs, reaching over the table and jabbing Leo in the shoulder.

Arashi sighs dramatically, putting a hand to her cheek. “What happened to your tact?”

She waves a hand, appeasing the others. “It’s alright. And of course, I am. Why? Is there something you want?”

“Get me a watch. Like yours.” Leo declares. “Oh, and engrave your name onto the back.”

“Does Anzu have that kind of money?” Ritsu wonders aloud.

“My name?” She asks slowly.

“Leo-san, you’re being unreasonable.” Tsukasa chastises.

Still, Leo ignores the rest of the group, choosing to stare directly at her so intensely that she can see her own reflection in his clear gaze. “Mhm. Your name.”

“How come?”

Finally, Leo shifts his eyes to the others and breathily laughs in a low tone unlike him. “Some people spent all this time trying to get me to understand that names have a meaning and purpose. If you put your name on it, I’ll never forget who gave it to me.”

She doesn’t quite understand the significance, but if that is what he asks of her, then that is what she will give him. A producer listens to their idols, after all. And…

“Sure, you got it.”

And, for Leo, it’s worth it the extra effort.

The watch she purchases and has engraved is not exactly like hers, like he requested, but it is close enough, in her opinion, and it’s styled more to suit him than her, which is much better. Though she has to wonder, when has Leo ever worn a watch? Is he going to start wearing one just because she wore one that once and he liked it? She hopes this watch doesn’t get left to collect dust, but after it’s out of her hands and given to him as a gift, he can do as he pleases with it, she supposes.

May 5th arrives in no time. She shows up early to help prepare everything for the party and make sure things go smoothly without incident. And if there are any incidents, she will be right there to help remedy it in a flash. As she works, the usual wrist tingles with a new message; the tickling sensation nearly making her drop her half of the banner getting hung high. She feels a smile lift her lips, valiantly trying to hide it by facing the wall in feigned concentration for sticking the string onto the wall.

She’s sure it is the usual music note, but she will have to confirm it later when she’s not precariously balanced on a ladder.

Once back onto the ground, she doesn’t get the chance as her phone vibrates in her pocket.

Leo: Come out to the terrace for a second.

Leo: Give me my gift~~~!

Leo: Please?

The array of messages has her laughing, drawing a few curious gazes from the others around her.

“I’ll be right back!” She announces. They don’t question her – they trust her, and she is ever grateful for it. Grabbing the gift she set aside so she could help with both hands, she quickly skips out of the door.

She needs to take the elevator down to the first floor, the wait feeling like an eternity as her heart beats louder and louder in her ears with each passing second. The moment she steps out underneath the bright sky, wind sweeps by and picks up her hair. Through her bangs, she sees him waiting for her at the garden table, emerald eyes staring up at the blue sky filled with fluffy white clouds.

He must’ve noticed her staring in admiration, turning his head and settling his eyes on her instead. “There you are, Anzu! Come here!”

Obeying, she jogs over.

“Leo-san.” She greets the moment she is close enough. “Happy birthday.”

“Thanks, Anzu.” His arms are folded on the table, patiently waiting for her to sit next to him. “For me?” He holds out his hand expectedly.

“Of course.”

Leo’s smile is wide as he accepts the small, wrapped box she puts atop his palm. “I have something for you, too.”

“Huh?” Her own smile falls with the confusion now wracking her thoughts. “But it’s your birthday?”

“I know. I just wanted to.” Leo picks up a package in similar size to hers from his lap and slides it over. “Go ahead and open it.”

Hesitantly, she tugs the bow off, flicking her eyes up to his gaze with every slight movement she makes. “I didn’t do anything to deserve this, Leo-san.”

“Mmm, you do plenty, but do you really have to do anything to receive a present?” He asks with a chuckle. “Just open it.”

With the wrapping paper now laid flat beneath the small box, she does so. Flipping open the lid, she is met with a watch, similar in color to the one she wore the last he saw her, yet not the same design. She carefully picks it up, looking over its beauty. “Leo-san?”

“I engraved my name on it, too. So you’ll never forget.” Leo moves closer, stretching his arms towards her. “Here, let me put it on.”

In his short sleeves, the skin of his arms is in full view. The black ink marred on his wrist catches her attention immediately; a music note in the exact spot hers is at.

“Wait,” She loses her voice, her very ability to form coherent thoughts as her mind races.

“Hi,” Leo greets. He takes her hand, flipping it softly to expose her wrist to the sky. Shifting even closer, Leo lays his own wrist directly next to hers – two, identical music notes inked onto smooth skin. “My name is Leo.”

It takes her another long moment before she can answer him. “Hello, I’m Anzu. It’s…” She swallows the sudden tightness in her throat and pushes back the prickling in her eyes. “…nice to finally meet you.”

Along with the dazzling smile he gives her, their third first meeting is forever engraved into her memory; just like the watches with each other’s names etched into its surface now adorning their wrists.