Umi was walking out from school as she normally did. It was a beautiful day in the spring; birds were chirping from the trees right outside the campus. She hummed one of her own songs to herself absently -- Maki had done an amazing job as usual with writing the score for their songs. They had a performance over the weekend, and despite everything, she was looking forward to it.
She was startled when a boy on a bike came riding by -- no riding right toward her, stars in his eyes. She blinked.
He stopped right in front of her.
"U-Um!" said the boy. "Hi!"
Umi tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "Hi," she said nervously. She hadn't grown up with a lot of boys in her life, she wasn't sure how you were supposed to talk to them. And this boy was kind of short, not like the tall men in the awkward romance movies that Kotori liked to drag her and Honoka to watching.
"U-Um!" the boy said again. He'd hopped off his bike and was fidgeting, rubbing his knuckles together. He was obviously nervous.
It made Umi nervous too, that she made someone else nervous. She thought she was a pretty approachable girl, other than when the one time she and Honoka and Kotori had went camping and she'd wanted to walk five kilometers in the woods, and then they had to spend the rest of the day making their way back. But other than that.
Umi felt her cheeks start to grow warm, the longer the boy just stood there and stared at her and didn't say anything. "Ah," said Umi, trying to meet his eyes. "Is there's something you wanted?"
"Oh!" The boy looked surprised, like he'd entirely forgotten that he was the one who'd stopped in front of Umi in the first place. "Yes, there was -- there was something I wanted to ask you!"
Umi waited. The boy had big round glasses that made him look kind of dorky, but also kind of cute. Like a small animal, Umi thought, though she was usually scared of rodents and other small crawly things. But the boy was easy to look at, easy to talk to, even though he wasn't saying much to her at all.
"Y-You!" said the boy. "You're beautiful! Like a-an idol!"
Color washed over her face.
"A-Ah," she said, looking down and shuffling her feet. "I-I mean I guess I am, um... I don't think I'm that beautiful, but I guess my voice isn't, um." She was blushing and stuttering like mad and now she wasn't any better than this boy. Though she hadn't thought he was in the first place -- she thought that he was being the confusing one, but now she was being confusing too. "Isn't bad," she finished.
The boy's eyes shone at her. "You're amazing," he said, even though he'd never interacted with her until now. Maybe he watched their performances? Even though he hadn't asked Umi for her autograph, or even mentioned Muse, or anything.
"I'm Onoda," the boy told her.
Umi inclined her head. "Umi," she replied.
He repeated her name, kind of slowly like he was testing the way his lips moved around her name. She blushed again, trying hard to look at him without feeling too embarrassed or overwhelmed.
"Do you want to, um," said Onoda. "Do you want to go on a date! Sometime!"
He blushed as soon as the words left his mouth, covering his face with his hands.
Umi had never been asked out on a date before, in her sixteen years of living. She had thought it would be one of those confession type things, in a school hallway, even though she went to an all-girls' school and couldn't imagine any of them confessing to her.
But here was this strange boy who had called her beautiful, asking her out.
"Sure," she found herself answering. "Should we, um. Exchange numbers?"
"Exchange numbers!" Onoda bobbed his head up and down. "Yes, let's do that!"
They did so, Umi trying hard not to fumble with Onoda's phone as she punched her number in. Onoda had nearly dropped her phone too when she handed it to him and their fingers brushed; when Umi handed his phone back, he was beaming from ear to ear, and she felt pleased.
It was at that moment when someone ran up to her, calling, "Umi Sonoda?" Umi spun around to see a first year from her school with a poster of Muse, running toward her and waving.
"Can you sign this for me?" the girl asked breathlessly.
Umi could feel Onoda watching them. Oh no, he was going to think that she was weird for being an idol. She looked at herself in the picture -- her skirt was so short, her thighs visible.
Umi tried not to blush too much as she scribbled on the poster. She had become long accustomed to signing things properly, after Eli had scolded her. "Thanks so much!" the girl called, before running off.
Onoda was staring at Umi, mouth hanging open, when Umi turned back around. Umi felt her cheeks heat up, and scratched the back of her head.
"So," she said, biting her lip. "I'll just. Um. Text you later?"
Onoda kept gaping at her.
"Um," said Umi. She couldn't meet his shocked gaze. "Yeah." She turned away and walked back home, hoping that Onoda didn't think she was too weird. Hopefully he'll text her later and they forget about the whole thing.
It was so embarrassing, being a school idol.