“Claire. Claire!” A faint voice called out to her. “Stop daydreaming or else the teacher’s going to get mad at you again.” It was her friend and seatmate, Kaname.
“Oh, right.” She immediately came to her senses, turning her head back towards the board and her attention towards the book in front of her. “Where were we again?”
“Enzyme functions. He’s talking about the basics of pancreatic cancer again.”
“Not again. This really isn’t worth listening to anymore. How many times must he repeat it?”
“Look who’s talking big. Don’t forget, who came to me and asked to be tutored before last month’s exams?”
“Ugh. Don’t remind me. That was the worst seven days of my life. Besides, I’m not as gifted as you.”
“Well, if you don’t want that to happen again, you better listen in class more. What good would it do if the little princess of the great Reinfeldt family couldn’t pass her exams?”
Claire Reinfeldt, the eldest daughter of the prestigious Reinfeldt family. With an uncanny desire to help those in need, she decided to become a doctor and attended the most renowned medical school in Veronica City.
And Kaname Tachibana, a foreigner and a top-ranking medical student of his generation, easily surpassing anyone in their year or even his seniors. Though regarded as a genius by many of his peers and professors, and considered to be a prospect of not only being a gifted but also a kind doctor, he has kept his feet to the ground, still humble despite his achievements.
A few hours later, the bell finally rang, just in time for lunch break.
“I have incredibly good luck because I have the top student in school as my personal tutor. That’s even better than than a personal professor!” She exclaimed.
“Please do remember we’re in public. Contain your temper tantrums to a minimum.” He answered. “And if your luck doesn’t change by the time the next exams come, I promise I’ll be worse compared than last time.”
“I got it! I got-“But before she could finish, a sudden sharp pain gnawed on her skull. She stopped in her tracks and held her head, barely enduring the pain.
“You okay?” He asked, holding her up and keeping her from collapsing just in time. “Do you need to lie down?”
Kaname escorted her to the infirmary, letting her rest for a bit after her usual episode of headaches.
“Thanks Kaname.” She said. “I should be fine after getting some rest. You should go back to class. I’ll be fine.”
“No,” he then grabbed a chair, putting it beside Claire’s bed. “I’ll stay right here.”
“But you’ll miss class!”
“It’s fine. It doesn’t matter.” He answered. “Class isn’t really worth attending if you’re not there.”
All of a sudden, she felt her heart skip a beat by his words alone. There was a gentle yet warm feeling in her chest that she could hardly contain.
And then, she giggled. “Be careful Mr. Tachibana, I might just fall for you.”
“Don’t be silly. There’s no way you could fall in love with someone like me.” He answered. “In fact, I should get paid by the hour of what I do. I feel like I’m I’m your babysitter.”
“WHAT WAS THAT?!” She tried to get up but Kaname quickly grabbed her head and pushed her back down on bed.
“SHUT UP! Go to sleep already! Sheesh. You’re too noisy for someone who’s not feeling well.”
“You’re really mean, you know that?”
“Yeah, I know. Now get some sleep.”
Claire smiled as she tucked herself in and closed her eyes. Little moments like this with Kaname were more than enough to make her happy. As she slowly calmed herself, she eventually lulled herself to sleep with Kaname beside her. And then, she reminisced the time from when she and Kaname first met.
It was two years ago. After a few months of transferring to Veronica City, I decided to enter medical school. Being one of the most advanced and well-developed cities around the world, Veronica City’s medical school was prestigious and top class, with only the most gifted students being able to enter. It was hard adjusting to a new environment, especially when you’re alone.
I belong to the prestigious family of the Reinfeldts, the family that owns a number of companies all over the world, especially in Veronica City, and basically controlling the economical chain of the country. And being the eldest daughter of the Reinfeldt family, it was hard to make friends. I couldn’t find anyone trustworthy and sincere whenever they knew my family name. Most people would just get close to me to be in good terms with my family. Girls usually aren’t a problem but they spread rumors around fast and they’re usually the ones doing the bullying. Men, on the other hand, are rather persistent. A lot have been trying to court me just because they want to taste the status of my family. That’s why I’d rather be alone.
During the entrance ceremony, freshmen were called in to be welcomed to the university. It was a tradition that the top students would be presented in front of the whole university. It was a groundbreaking moment as a freshman was able to get a flawlessly perfect score in the medical entrance examinations, a first in the history of the university. And since it was a first, the student was given the opportunity to give a speech. However, as his name was called, the student was nowhere to be found.
The speech was canceled but the name that resounded in the auditorium would never be forgotten.
Honestly, I thought it was a waste that he didn’t give out a speech. Something like that comes out only once in a blue moon. But he had his reasons.
A few days after the opening of classes started, we had our regular classes. And that’s when my usual problems began. People started sucking up to me like parasites while some were so scared to get close to me just because of the name “Reinfeldt“. The bullying also followed not long after. From being thrown with crumples of paper with hate messages written inside them up to my things being messed with. But I did my best to hold my ground. I didn’t talk much nor did I get close to anybody. This was just the usual. But it would be nice if I had someone as a friend.
I didn’t think anything would change. And then, I met Kaname.
After being gone for a couple of days after the opening of classes, he was introduced to us (quite humbly) as the top student of our year and achieved a perfect score in the entrance examinations. The first time he was introduced, there was nothing outstanding about his simple guy with glasses, but he was calm, collected and radiated that sort of “genius” aura.
“Good morning. My name is Kaname Tachibana. Pleased to meet you.”
He introduced himself with such brilliance. Everybody stared at him with admiration, knowing that they’re looking at the guy who got a perfect score in the entrance examination.
“You can take your seat, Mr. Tachibana.” The professor asked him.
Naturally, he would take the immediate empty seat. And the only seats were the ones in front, behind and directly beside me, on my left. Of course, no one would sit beside me because the class treated me like I was some sort of plague. Anyone who knew my name would probably think twice before sitting close to me. The only logical move for him to make is to take the seat in front of me so he could have the very least interaction with me.
And so, he made his way towards his potential seat. Everyone watched him as he walked down the aisles. Whispers and murmurs started coming on like flies as he neared me.
“Bad luck for him. He’s going to sit next to Reinfeldt.” They said. “Poor guy.”
It was loud enough to be heard by almost everyone in class. I admit. It hurt a little bit to hear that much from them.
All of a sudden, he stopped and the without hesitation, took the seat BESIDE me.
“Look! He sat beside her!” One whispered.
The whispers and gossips kept coming, loud enough to be bothersome already. But he didn’t flinch. He took his seat and took out his pen and notebook, ready for class. He didn’t really notice me but honestly, I felt a little happy.
Even though we sat beside each other, we had minimal contact. His attention was mostly directed towards class and nothing more. No wonder he’s a genius.
But even that didn’t change how people treat me. And eventually, they started picking on Kaname too, just because of the mere fact that he sat beside me. Some people started writing hate messages on his desk. They started avoiding him too, but either he didn’t notice or he didn’t mind it. But things grew from bad to worse. Even during class, they subtly picked on Kaname even when he didn’t do anything at all. I felt guilty because he was being treated like that because of me.
All of a sudden, a piece of paper came towards my desk. I wonder who it was again. I thought it was just another hate message. I looked around and saw him. It was Kaname. He was pointing at the paper and telling me to open it.
I slowly opened it, peeking on what was inside.
Something was written on the paper. Well, barely. It seems like it was written with a pen that was about to die.
“You have an extra pen? Mine just ran out.”
As I read that simple message, I felt really, really happy. It was the first time someone sent me a paper message during class which wasn’t a hate message.
In accord to his request, I took out a pen from my case, wrote back on that same paper and placed it quietly on his desk.
“Here you go.” I wrote.
Kaname picked up then pen and started writing on the paper again. And then, he threw it back to my desk again.
“Thanks-and I’m glad you wrote back.”
And that’s where we continued our silent exchange of our written messages. I was hesitant at first, since he’d find out my family name, but I felt I like could trust him.
“I’m Claire. Claire Reinfeldt. Nice to meet you.“
“Wow, that’s a pretty name. I’m Kaname. Kaname Tachibana. Nice to meet you too.”
“Thanks. But it’s kind of hard to pronounce.“
“???Really??? It’s not that hard actually.”
“Most people have trouble reading my family name.“
“What I meant was your first name.”
I paused for a moment, trying to collect my thoughts. It was actually my first time meeting a person noticing my first name rather than my family name. It made me happy, and also the fact that he said my name was “pretty”. But I had to know whether he was just flirting or he really didn’t know my family.
“Thanks… You familiar with the name Reinfeldt?“
“Nope. Not that I really care though.”
Now I felt at ease. He really didn’t have any idea of my family. That put me at ease. So we continued to play around. The paper eventually became filled and we had to provide more paper for our conversation to continue. Little by little, words became doodles, and doodles became drawings. We giggled as we exchanged messages. It was my first time having fun with such a simple thing.
“So, can you tell me why everyone is avoiding you?”
I felt pain as I wrote back my reply. I don’t know why. Maybe because this is the first time anyone ever showed me pity.
“That’s because I’m a Reinfeldt. It’s like a curse.“
“All that just because of your family name?”
“Don’t worry. This is normal.“
“Don’t you ever get lonely?”
“Don’t you have any friends?”
This time, he took his time to write on that piece of paper.
“Would you like to be my friend?”
Then, without hesitating, I wrote my answer.
“I’d be happy to. Please take care of me.“
And from that day on, I never had to feel lonely in school ever again.
A few weeks passed, little by little, I got to know a bit more about Kaname. I found out that he’s living alone for many years because his parents have passed away. Unlike me, he’s a bit athletic-playing tennis, a little basketball and even some martial arts. He’s turns on his weird switch whenever he’s around gadgets and anything tech-ish. He loves to eat sweets. And finally, he has an uncanny love for dogs or anything small, cute or adorable. He literally turns stupid. That’s why I tease him a bit. But it’s kind of weird how he maintains a mild-spoken image in front of everyone else. It made me happy to know these little things about him and how he opened up to me. However, becoming connected with a Reinfeldt was a burden. That’s why the bullying even affected Kaname.
Wild rumors started spreading around. They said Kaname and I are going out. And they said that Kaname was only doing it because he wants the Reinfeldt family fortune. These despicable rumors even said that Kaname was financially desperate because he’s living alone. But it didn’t stop there. They also started avoiding Kaname too.
“Why are you crying?” He asked me.
I didn’t realize I was already crying while he was talking to me. “It’s because… because people are already starting to avoid you because of me… and bad rumors about you are being spread too.”
“That again? I told you already. They’re only rumors.”
“Why? Back then, my friends before would usually leave me alone because of the rumors and bullying. It would be better if you stayed away from me…”
“You’re being too naïve.” He answered. “As I said to you before, over and over again, they’re just rumors. I’m not saying that I don’t care. Rather than letting those rumors affect me, I think you’re more important.”
His words immediately comforted me and eased all my worries. He assured me that he would stay by my side.
“Don’t worry.” He patted my head and then smiled. “I can take care of myself.”
However, even the calm and collected Kaname couldn’t hold back once things get out of hand. It was during when a group of boys were, as usual, talking about me and my family heritage again. But I guess they got carried away a bit too much.
One of the guys insistently approached me, his face quite close to mine. But I didn’t even bother to face him. He had that annoying smug look on his face. And then, he said to me, “Hey, Reinfeldt. You’re single, right? Why don’t you hook up with me, the school’s most popular guy?”
Naturally, I just ignored the guy. But he was really annoying. He kept forcing me to do dirty things with him. He was just the same as the others who kept pestering me.
“Come on, Reinfeldt. You’re a beauty. You should consider yourself lucky for hooking up with a guy like me.” He put his lips closer to my ears and then, he whispered, “Wouldn’t you want your first to be with me?”
Not only was he rude, but his laugh made it worse. I wanted to slap him so much but I knew I couldn’t. If I did, my family’s name would be tarnished and there’d be talks around town even from a minor thing such as this. I was about to cry. I could feel tears welling up as he humiliated me. But all I could do was leave it as it is and stay silent. I felt pathetic.
Suddenly, I heard a loud thump and by the time I raised my head, the next thing I saw was the guy already falling to the ground-face first.
“What’s the big idea, you idiot?!”
I was quite surprised that he was already up after taking a punch like that. But what surprised me more was the person standing before the guy who just went down.
It was Kaname.
He didn’t speak. His daunting figure was more than enough to send chills to the guy’s spine. Even as I looked at him, he was extremely intimidating. However, his stunt caused quite a commotion. Everyone turned their attention towards Kaname. Of course, anyone would take notice if the usually composed and relaxed Kaname would suddenly lash out.
“You have no idea who you’re messing with, do you?!” He continued shouting. “My father’s a senator! He practically controls the country in the palm of his hands! And with what you just did to me, I’m sure that he’ll make ways to lock you up for a pretty long time. NOW WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT?!”
I was familiar with his father and he was right. His father was indeed an influential senator who owned parts of numerous companies and corporations. He could probably put someone in prison with just one say. It’s despicable but it’s a fact. However, Kaname’s eyes showed no fear. He didn’t say anything but his actions were more than enough to make a statement.
“Sorry. My hand slipped.”
He was obviously making fun of the idiot. But seriously, how could your hand slip towards another guy’s face? I knew Kaname wasn’t very good in making up excuses. However, his intense gaze was more than enough to tell that he meant business. Just by looking in his eyes, you can sense that sheer hostility. Everyone around him could feel his murderous intent just by looking at him. And by this time, the rude imbecile became unusually quiet.
“I don’t really care what you think,” Kaname declared. “Next time you try that again, you won’t be waking up.”
The guy was visibly shaken by Kaname’s words. It’s rare for Kaname to speak out of class and when he did, everyone would listen. But this time, it was different. He was making a statement.
“Hah! You… You think you can scare me? My father runs this country in the palm of his hands! I’ll make sure you never show your face in this school ever again!” His underhanded threats were so cowardly, using money and power against Kaname.
“Ah, is that so?” Gradually, the hostile look on his face changed into a bored expression.
“I’d like to see you try then.”
He then calmly walked towards his seat and relaxed on his desk, taking out his notes and pen. His confidence was reassuring. I don’t know exactly how, but I feel can handle it. But thanks to what he did, I was no longer being bullied or picked on by other people. It made me feel secure.
He’s so cool.
That’s right. I’ve been getting this uncomfortable but warm feeling on my chest lately whenever I see Kaname.
At that point, I was completely oblivious of how Kaname could become something so terrifying.