No. I must be mistaken.


It’s just a picture of a few lines. A few lines on a cold, inorganic canvas can’t have a temperature.


That’s what she thought in her head, but in the back of her mind, a ridiculous hypothesis blossomed.


‘What if Rutger sent me to ….?’


No way.


It’s an age-old trick. He’s the kind of guy who shows interest in you, but when you take a step toward him, he sneers and moves away. Anita has been hurt countless times by walking into obvious traps.


If she falls for it again, it will be proof that she’s dumber than a chicken.


Funnily enough, Anita had believed for the past ten years that there might be progress between them.


But it’s been ten years now, and nothing has happened.


In that time, if nothing has happened, that’s all there is to it. All this time, Anita has been trying to mend a broken thread. They were never connected in the first place.


Her parents’ relationship, her next-door neighbor. She was relying on one small link.


If they hadn’t been parents if they hadn’t been neighbors, would they have ever spoken?


Anita’s fingers wandered over the painting but never reached the portrait. It was unmistakably her portrait, but for some reason, she thought it resembled Rutger. Sometimes you reach out and you’re close enough to touch, but you can never touch.


It’s not like paper can talk, but for some reason, touching the painting seemed to reveal truths she didn’t want to know. Staring at her own lips in the tightly closed painting, Anita took a step back.




She hadn’t heard anyone’s footsteps, but she heard a voice that shouldn’t have been there, and judging by the ragged breathing, it must have been running. Anita’s head turned slowly as she backed away.


Anita hesitated for a moment. Should she pretend not to notice and leave, or should she come up with a plausible excuse?


“…Rutger, it’s been a while.”


When I finally saw him standing in the doorway, I couldn’t come up with a plausible excuse.


His disheveled black hair and unfinished shirt buttons. His free-spirited exterior was his usual self, but his rapidly rising and falling chest and his unnervingly shaky eyes were anything but relaxed.


“What’s wrong, are you okay?”




I guess his really not okay, The Rutger that Anita often says harsh words, she’d know that he’s not one to completely ignore her, even if he often returns the favor


Why does it feel like she’s the one on the outside looking in, like she should invite him to sit down?


There was an uncomfortable silence in the room for a while. Rutger, standing in the doorway, simply stared at Anita with his characteristic cold eyes, and Anita observed him in her own way.


“…Did you see that?”


She didn’t need to ask what he was talking about, because he was glancing back and forth between her face and the canvas next to her, quite blatantly, with no intention of hiding it.


Anita took a moment to choose her answer. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see it. But telling the truth would get her in trouble.


It’s obviously unbecoming to look at someone else’s work, and….




Anita couldn’t understand him. If she had done Rutger’s painting, it would have been tucked into a thick book on her bookshelf, or tacked to the back of a painting on her bedroom wall. Eventually, Anita would have hidden it so thoroughly that even she would have forgotten its whereabouts.


“If you need a model for the painting, why didn’t you tell me? I would have done it myself.”


In the opposite situation, Rutger would have teased Anita for the rest of her life, asking her every time they met why she’d painted his face.


Of course, Anita wasn’t always a nice person, but she felt vulnerable and embarrassed that Rutger would take advantage of her weakness.


In the end, her choice was acquiescence.




His lips parted, as if they would never open again. He spat out the words slowly, seemingly unsure of what he was about to say, even to himself.


“Will you do it for me, model?”


For a moment, Anita almost blurted out something stupid, but she managed to keep her mouth shut. Maybe it was the unfamiliarity of his uncharacteristic hesitation, the way his face was staring at the floor as if he has nowhere to go.




It’s just a matter of sitting still.


“There’s nothing you would do.”


Anita swore she didn’t want to make a fool of herself in front of him, but when she couldn’t find a chair to sit on, she turned around.


“…Where do I sit?”


The words loosened his jaw. His eyes crinkled with laughter, and Anita sighed inwardly. She was screwed. She must be screwed again.


“Do you want to sit on the floor?”


After rolling her eyes for a moment, Anita bent her knees. As she started to sit on the floor, Rutger, who was laughing, quickly tugged on her arm.


“Why do you want to sit on the floor when there are chairs all over the place.”


“I don’t think the floor is so bad.”


“Why can’t you take a joke as a joke?”


“You should be able to tell the difference.”


Anita blinked for a moment at his answer, then shrugged.




He had a lot more to say, but he wasn’t going to say it. Anita didn’t bother asking, knowing the answer would be less than favorable. Compliments were about 500 million light-years away from him.


Anita, who knew from long experience that it would be her own loss if she took it seriously, just ignored it


“Sit here.”


He pulled up a wooden chair in front of Liliana’s easel. Anita hesitated, not knowing when Liliana would return from delivering the papers to Professor Chapman. Sensing her hesitation, Rutger opened his mouth.


“She’s not coming.”




“Does it matter now?”


It was very important to Anita. I don’t know exactly what kind of relationship he has with Liliana, but there’s nothing wrong with being sure.


Rutger, on the other hand, was absent-minded, fiddling with his drawing tools.

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