____ has been acting weird lately. Ever since Valentine’s Day passed, she would slip in and out of practice sessions and whatnot. Sometimes I would catch her sneaking around past midnight outside the dorms. Sometimes I trailed her when she would go out by herself without telling me, her boyfriend. I told myself that maybe she was out getting something for Haruka’s apprentice lessons. QUARTET NIGHT wasn’t the only people to have apprentices; Haruka also needed a composition Master, and that was where ____ came in. As her boyfriend it made my life much easier. But if being a Master meant that she could sneak around town without telling me, that I would rather have her leave the course.
But of course, I didn’t say anything. It would be a hassle if I pointed it out to her, and I didn’t want her getting hurt. That would break the promise I made to her when we first got together. And if I wanted to propose to her soon, hurting her would put everything way off my calculations.
So as the days passed, I acted like my normal self, not letting anything slip past my emotional borders, except for when I needed them to.
It’s been almost a week since I took to sneaking around the dorms without telling Ai, or any QUARTET NIGHT members. I hadn’t meant to look sneaky, but it was all for a good cause—Ai’s birthday was coming up and I needed to find him a present. I’ve tried to find him something that he would like, but so far, I’ve had no such luck… And Ai’s birthday was in three days…
What was I going to do?
I looked left and right, scanning every window of every shop, but I couldn’t find anything that caught my eye. Suddenly, I stopped. Ai liked gadgets and necklaces, but why was I looking for clothes? So I turned around and headed towards an accessory shop I saw a little ways away.
I had been trailing ____ for about an hour now and saw that she was heading towards the store I was hiding behind of. I quickly went back around the corner and held my breath. I wasn’t wearing a disguise or anything so it would be bad if ____ caught me here.
I hadn’t actually planned to follow ____ today. I only went out because the necklace I usually wore broke and I had noted in my mind to go out and try to find something. But then I saw the familiar (f/c) cap that ____ loved wearing and decided to trail her. My data was 100% sure that it was ____ I was following and nobody else. And look what I’ve gotten myself into.
I peeked around the corner and saw ____ going into the shop. I followed her in, grateful that I had been wearing a fedora to hide my electric blue hair. I scanned the shop for a bit until I found her cap by the necklaces. I was about to go inside this shop myself because they had really good accessories. But I couldn’t roam around it now, considering ____ was exactly where I wanted to look. I didn’t dare go to that section and instead focused on the stall beside me that was full of bracelets. I pretended to look through them, straining my ears for any word that came from ____’s mouth.
The minutes passed and I was surprised to find that ____ was already at the cash register holding a paper bag with the shop’s logo. She turned around and walked out of the shop. I followed and looked left and right as soon as I exited, but couldn’t find her in the sea of people.
What did she buy? What did she buy it for? Was it for her? Or was it for some other guy? But, according to my data, she wasn’t the type to fool around with another person while being in a committed relationship. So why go through the trouble of always sneaking around and not telling me what she was doing?
Dejected, I just went back to the dorms, my mind still reeling with numerous questions.
The three days until Ai’s birthday quickly passed, and it was now the first of March. Ai’s present was already prepared and wrapped up—at least, his half of the gift. I was already wearing the other half of it tucked behind the shirt I was wearing.
I speeded to the fountain where I knew Ai would be, and clutched the present tightly in my hands. The bright sun spilled out above my head as I walked out of the building. The heat was welcomed since the days before had been really cold. Breathing in deeply, I started for the fountain, intent on giving Ai his first present of the day.
“Ai!” someone shouted behind me. I knew it was ____. My brain had recorded her voice already, and I would know it was her speaking even if she wasn’t talking to me. I turned around.
____ had a bright smile on her face, though for what reason I didn’t know. Was today a special day or something? Regardless, I put on my usual poker face and just looked at her.
“____,” I said, addressing her as she sat down beside me on the edge of the fountain. “What is it?”
She held out something to me—a small rectangular box with a lavender-colored ribbon at the top right corner. “Go on,” she said; I looked at her. “Open it. It’s for you, after all.”
I wanted to open it quickly, eager to see what was inside. But I first had myself analyze the box, to have a small glimpse of what was inside. But after a few quick scans, my brain couldn’t come up with anything. So I just lifted the lid off the box and stared at the contents.
In the box was a necklace. It was made out of silver and was shaped into a key. The key didn’t have any extra embellishments—just the usual antique key design. But the design wasn’t too old-fashioned that I wanted to just keep it inside a drawer. It was fairly my style and wasn’t too big for my taste. I stared at it a moment, studying the necklace, the box, even the sponge it was resting on. My eye caught a faint imprint of something that looked a lot like that of the necklace and I asked,
“Where’s the other one?” I looked to ____ and saw that she was fairly amused by the question. Then she reached behind her shirt and held out a necklace with a heart-shaped charm. She took the one she gave me and put it over my head. Then she took the key and slid the long end of it into the keyhole that was cut into the center of the heart..
____ looked at me. “You have the key to my heart, Ai.” She smiled softly and kissed my cheek. “Happy birthday.”
And at that moment, every question I held in my mind was answered. ____ had been sneaking out to find me a birthday present. She didn’t tell me about it because she wanted it to be a surprise. She had gone into my favorite shop to search for something that I liked, something she thought I would wear.
And I really would wear this. The design was my type, but even if it wasn’t, I would still wear it. Anything that she gave me was and will be cherished.
For a while, I couldn’t say anything. I was just too overwhelmed by what she did for me. But I kne I had to make my body move—it was just too hard in my current condition. I was even thinking if my system would short circuit.
But, without my mind making commands, I hugged ____ and said, “Thank you, ____. This is a good gift. I’ll always wear it.”
I felt her smile and her arms would themselves around my torso and hugged me back. “Anything for you, Ai.”
Ever since I was created, I’ve never felt this much love. In my system’s core, I felt that this would be the most special birthday I would have in a while.