Chapter One: The Beginning


The alarm blaring outside snapped me awake. I groaned loudly, shoving a pillow over my face to try and block it out. Curse the first Saturday of the month – I knew it was essential to test out the emergency alert system, but why did it have to be on the day after exams? After a full week of sleepless nights, I had finally collapsed into my bed last night with the intention of sleeping the day away. A brief glance at the clock through cracked eyelids let me know it was only 9:00 in the morning.

How awful. I rubbed last night's sleep out of my eyes, and sat up. I wasn't the kind of person who could easily fall back asleep – especially not with that happening outside my window. Tossing my legs over the bed, I reached onto the floor and grabbed the earbuds I had tossed there the night before. My phone was on the nightstand, flashing green to indicate a full charge. I unplugged the charger, and plugged the earbuds in. I scrolled through my music until I found my Chill playlist, and let it play on shuffle.

Taking a breath, I relaxed as familiar tunes blocked out the horrible sounds outside. Bitterly, I pushed away thoughts of sleeping more, and got dressed before heading out of my room to the shared kitchen.

Leon, my only roommate, was leaning against the counter, face first in a blueberry muffin. His deep blue eyes watched me as I mumbled a greeting and then went straight for the coffee pot. He might have said something, but I couldn't hear anything with the earbuds in. After a minute he left towards the living-room, and I felt a little grateful for his absence.

Leon was a nice guy - that's why I moved in with him - but I wasn't a morning person by any means.

After coffee was made, I grabbed one of the muffins he had been eating earlier and sat at the kitchen table. Peeling away the wrapper, I took a bite and reveled in the flavors. In my slightly-manic state last night, I celebrated finishing my exams by making blueberry muffins. It was a welcome change from the usual processed garbage I ended up eating for convenience's sake.

Today was my day off. From school, from work, from everything. It was a very rare instance, and I was going to take advantage of it. Starting with a nice long, hot shower.

Leon sat down on the chair across from me and motioned for me to take my earbuds out. I did. The alarms had stopped, thankfully. "What are you going to do today?" He asked, another one of my blueberry muffins in his hand. "These are great by the way, you should make these more often."

"Thanks," I watched as crumbs fell to the table. He'd pick it up though, he was really good about cleaning up after himself. In fact, we really didn't have many problems at all. We were both so busy we really only saw each other in passing, and used the apartment as a place to crash and occasionally cook something. "We'll see. I actually have the day off."

He raised his eyebrows, his eyes sparkling with interest. "Really?"

"Why?" I narrowed my eyes at him. Nothing will interrupt the day that I had already decided would be dedicated to me.

He took a bite of his muffin, and chewed thoughtfully. I took a sip of my coffee while I waited. "I have one class today," He glanced at the clock above the stove, "In an hour. I was just wondering if you wanted to go somewhere today."

"Like where?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. I just thought it'd be nice to do something different."

It was true, we were both kind of caught in routines. Wake up, go to class, eat, go to work, come home, and then sleep. Wake up, rinse, and repeat. It had been a long time since I had gone anywhere just to have fun. And it had been quite a while since Leon and I had hung out as friends, even if we did live together.

"Okay." I agreed.

"Great." He grinned, his eyes brightening. "Think about where you want to go while I'm in class."

Frowning, I said, "Why is it just where I want to go? What do you want to do?"

"Well," He stood up, throwing out his muffin wrapper in the garbage beneath the sink. Walking back to the table, he swept up the crumbs into his hands and answered, "There's a shop on the boardwalk I've heard about. Maybe we can go there?"

"What shop?" I asked, feeling a little bit more excited about the day ahead. "And should we invite anybody? Like Greg and Stephanie." Neither of us had a lot of friends in college, as we were both too busy to spend any time with them. But there was a few people we both mutually knew through one of our shared classes. That shared class was how we had met six months ago, at the start of the first semester.

He didn't answer for a moment, and shook the crumbs off his hand into the sink. "If you want to, you can."

I quirked an eyebrow in his direction, even though I knew he couldn't see me while he washed his hands. "That sounds like you don't want to."

His answer was another shrug, while drying off his hand with a paper towel. "I don't know, sometimes Greg can be a little loud," He paused, "and clingy."

I smiled, "He's got a mancrush on you." I took a bigger gulp of my coffee, which had finally cooled off enough to not burn the roof of my mouth.

"A what?"

"A mancrush."

"What's a 'mancrush'?"

"It's like a bromance." I answered, knowing that would confuse him further. Despite being my age, he was very oblivious to a lot of slang. It made for some great ammunition to tease him with.

He rolled his eyes and walked into the living-room. "Okay, Mao."

I giggled a little and took another swig of my coffee before standing up too. Even if I did have plans for later in the day, I still owed it to myself to have that long, hot shower.


A.N - Thanks for reading. I know this is a slow-moving chapter, but I hope it gives you an idea of Mao and Leon's relationship before the excitement happens. :)

-ZL