The final school bell rings, dismissing students for the day as the hallways fill themselves with busy heads, finding a way out of the school gates. Among those heads is Aaron, squirming from one crowd to another when he finally reaches the gates, but as he quickly checks his phone, an arm comes around his shoulder.

”Yo! I checked the schedule yesterday and saw you have today off. You normally never request a day off. So, whats going on? ”

Aaron didn seem to mind the gesture and flatly says, ”Im not obliged to answer, am I? ” he sighs, ”Where is Rebecca? ”

”Hmm? ” Ethan curiously peeks his head at the crowd of students surrounding a cart, ”are they selling something over there? Lets check it out, Aaron! ”

”W-Wait, Im not…ugh, ” Aaron gives up as soon as Ethan pulls him closer to the cart, only for the two to get lost within the crowd of students.

”Sh*t, where is Ethan? ” Aaron murmurs when he gets pushed to the front of the cart, only for an overly excited guy to greet him to the home-make jewelry pieces hes selling.

When the two made eye contact, the guy paused for a second until Aaron felt a weird chill down his spine when he looked away, why was he staring? Do I know him? Its creepy.

”W-Welcome, welcome, is there anything, in particular, you
e looking to buy? ”

Aaron put his guard up when he heard the guy welcome him, ”no thanks, ” he was just about to walk away.

”Wait, young man, I am having a discount. ”

Aaron turned around to look at the jewelry protected by glass, ”I don need… ” he paused to think, actually, I haven bought Valene a gift for her birthday. With that thought, Aaron came closer to the glass and carefully looked through every jewelry piece when he asked, ”Im looking for something to gift to a girl. ”

”Ah, yes, yes, I got the perfect gift. But, is this gift meant for a special someone? A girlfriend perhaps? ” the vendor kept bothering Aaron for answers.

What a nosy creep Aaron clears his throat before shrugging indifferently, ”sure. ”

”This is a necklace that resembles the moon. Its my recent piece and the last one I have in stock. Ill wrap it up nicely for you to give to your girlfriend! ”

Aaron didn care about the assumptions and paid quickly because he couldn stand being near the guy another second since he kept getting chills from him.

”Hmm? ” Ethan glances at his surroundings, looking for a redhead, ”Ah! There she is! REBECCA! ”

Many heads turned to Ethan and Aaron to see who he was calling until out of the crowd came out a red-headed girl dressed in a plain green shirt and formal black pants. She annoyingly slaps Ethans arm off Aarons shoulder.

Aaron curiously glances at his friends, bickering in front of him, ”Rebecca, don you have band practice after school today? What are you doing here? ”

”A-Ah, Oh! About that…mmm, ” her expression grew red until Ethan teasingly comments, ”she couldn wait to see you off, Aaron. ”

”Shut the f*ck up, Ethan! ” she loosely punches his arm.

Aaron kindly smiles, ”Cool. I have plans today, so Im afraid I won be able to hang out. ”

Ethan blocks him, ”wait, Aaron! Where are you going? ”

”Tsk! ” Aaron does not bother hiding his displeased expression, ”Look, Ethan, I get that you know my work schedule because you
e the bosss son, but that does not give you the right to know my business. ” Finally, he calms down after seeing Ethans determined expression, ”fine, fine, I am celebrating someones birthday. There, you happy now? Catch you guys later… ” he casually walks away.

WACK!

”Owwwch! ” Ethan whines, carefully rubbing the back of his head, ”Rebecca! ”

”Whyd you gotta get your nose into his business, Ethan? You know better than I do that Aaron hates us asking him questions about his life. ”

Ethan reflects, ”doesn it bother you that weve been friends with him for almost four years, and yet we know almost nothing about him? When we invite him out, he can only last an hour with us and immediately has to go home or work. ”

Rebecca understood Ethans point because she too wants to know more about Aaron, but at the same time, there is something she knows that Ethan doesn know when she whispers, ”its probably HER birthday…. ”

***

In an all-girls academy high school, the final bell for dismissal rang, and a bunch of girls in uniform came elegantly walking out of the gates. The girls caught a glimpse of Aaron waiting patiently by the gates for Valene. Many girls began to murmur amongst themselves in admiration of Aarons handsome looks.

”Is he someones boyfriend? ”

”I don know, but he looks like a celebrity, doesn he? ”

”An actor, perhaps? Picking up his sibling? ”

”Hes so freaking hot! ”

”I wonder if hed talk to me if I ask him whos he here to see. ”

The comments went on and on about Aarons handsome features, slim, thin build, and most importantly his piercing grey eyes.

I could hear them… Aaron thought while trying his best to control his expression by showing that he was mostly annoyed rather than calm, I hate coming near this school. I only ever drop Valene off from a distance, and I always meet up with her at the corner of the stop sign so others wouldn notice.

”Aaron~! ” Valene steps closer, waving happily to Aaron, ”Im sorry for keeping you waiting. I came as fast as I could, ” her angelic cherry lips smile brightly upon Aaron when he sighs with a tilt of his head, ”its no problem. Come on, lets get home and change so we can celebrate your birthday. ”

”MHM! ” Valene can hide the joy in her heart when Aaron casually carries her backpack like usual.

Wow! He really came near the gate this time…for me, Valene thought while walking next to him, I can stop my heart from beating for him. Aah, I must be dreaming. Finally, we get to spend some time out together. She giggles to herself. Aaron peeks and slightly raises a brow but doesn say anything.

She sneaks a peek at Aaron without his notice, he may seem aloof and cold to others, like a quiet mouse that does not want attention, but Aaron is such a chatterbox. He likes to complain a lot and is honest whenever I ask him about anything. When we were little, I remember fighting with him a lot, but after going through that…well, weve come to depend on each other more now that our parents are gone.

***

It didn take long for the two to enjoy their time at the pier as they visited lots of vendors, participated in small games with no luck in winning, and ate snacks here and there.

Hours later, the sun had gone down when Aaron was getting ready to walk Valene to the park to give her a gift. Still, as they passed a mini antique shop, Valene begged Aaron to wait for her outside the shop while she went in to buy something that caught her attention.

The shopkeeper welcomed Valene as she was getting ready to close for the day.

”Oh, Im sorry, is it closed? ”

”No worries, honey, you
e my last customer for the day. So, feel free to look around, ” the kind shopkeeper smiles.

As Valene glanced through the jewelry section, she thought, for a shop that sells antiques, the shopkeeper sure is young. I thought itd be an old person…oh! This looks nice! ”

The shopkeeper surprisingly appears beside Valene, ”this piece is a rather unique taste for girls. Are you shopping for yourself or for a special someone? ”

Valene blushes for a moment when she nods, ”I guess you can say that, ” she chuckles, ”this chain bracelet is nice, but I don think itd suit the person I want to give it to…. ”

”If the person you give this to accepts it, then its a green flag, wouldn you think so? I think men who are in touch with their feminine side are even greater! ”

Valene was unsure, but then again, the shop keepers words were persuasive, ”okay, can you please wrap this up for me. ”

Moments later, Valene and Aaron were already walking to a nearby lake, where they found a bench to sit at, ”the moon is full tonight, ” Aaron casually notices aloud.

”It is, huh, ” Valene stares at the moon only to look at Aarons grey eyes, ”the moon resembles your eyes, Aaron~! ”

”You think so? ” Aaron stares at the moon only to ask, ”you can take your contacts off if they
e bothering you. Its night, and I doubt well run into anyone, so allow your eyes to breathe, ” he laughs.

After Valene removed her contacts, she stares at the lake, ”it definitely feels a lot better, ” she blinks.

Aaron tilts his head at the sight of Valenes ruby-red eyes, ”…No matter how many times I see them…the color of your eyes amazes me, Valene. They
e beautiful, ” he grins.

Seeing his pink cheeks makes Valene blush when she coughs, ”y-you think so? ” she lightly touches her eyelid, ”I never thought my red eyes were so rare…I thought you were going to say they
e freaky. ”

Aaron notices her silky blonde hair shine underneath the moonlight, ”no, your eyes are different, but that doesn change who you are…you
e Valene Xina, ” he smiles.

”Oh, umm, I want to give you something, Aaron, as a token of my appreciation for fulfilling my birthday wish! ” Valene shyly hands out a gift wrapped in newspaper.

Aaron was flabbergasted because he wasn expecting to receive anything when he kindly accepted, ”but I didn really do anything special. I just did what your mom would do if she were here. Wed celebrate your birthday. ” He reaches for his pocket and takes out the gift, ”I got this for you. Happy 18th birthday, Valene, ” Aaron kindly pats her head, ”we
e officially adults, huh. ”

Valene carefully unwrapped the gift with Aarons permission when a loud gasp escaped her mouth, ”this…this is beautiful! ” she placed the necklace to her collarbone ”its like carrying a miniature moon on my neck! ” Valene excitingly slips the necklace on easily.

Contrary to Aaron, when he opened Valenes gift, he was taken aback to see a chained-fingered bracelet. ”Mm, this is… ” he didn know what to say when he swallowed his actual words and put on a happy façade, ”different! Haha, Ive never received something like this. ” He notices her excited gaze as if pushing him to put it on when he swallows his sigh, and reluctantly secures the bracelet on his left hand, and carefully slips his long slim fingers through the rings. ”Is this how its supposed to look like? ” he shows Valene, only to see her happily nod, ”yes! ”

He can help but smile despite not being too fond of the gift, ”thank you, Valene. ”

A loud thump began to ring in his ear as if it were his heartbeat until he felt a burning sensation coming from his arm, ”what the? ”

Suddenly the earth shook when Aaron hurriedly turned to Valene. She screams in a panic to see the tall trees collapse. ”Va-! ” he was just about to reach for her until the burning sensation began spreading throughout his left arm.

”Augh! ” Aaron fell to the ground, unable to keep his painful groans to himself, when he grabbed his arm and quickly reached to remove the bracelet. That is until Huh? Why won it come off?! he tries again, this time aggressively, f*ck! Why won this thing budge!?

The more Aaron struggles to remove the bracelet from his hand, the stronger the burn is beginning to devour his body, ”ha…ha… ” hes panting at the heat, ”why…can …I. ”

”KYAAAA! ”

”V-Valene! ” Aaron musters up the strength to push Valene away from the lake, ”run…RUN! ” he yells at her to run away.

Her eyes shook in horror, her body trembling like a feather.

As the burn progresses, he can help but grunt and grabs a rock smashing the chain-fingered bracelet with force, to the point of his hand bleeding by how intensively hes gripping onto the sharp rock.

”AARON!! ” Valene yells in agony when Aaron looks up to see a black hole dragging her inside like a vacuum.

Aarons expression widens in despair, seeing Valene struggling with tears in her eyes. He rushes to her, but just as he is close to touching her fingertips, hes pulled by something else. Looking back, he notices another black hole pulling him, but Aaron tries his best to reach Valene, ”HELP ME, AARON!! ”

”VALENE!!! VALENE! ” he desperately shouts, unable to do anything but hopes to somehow grab her hand.

In an instant, Valene is swallowed by the black hole. In his last attempt, Aaron tries to escape the vacuuming hole, but the daggering pain on his left hand continues to burn within his veins and has begun to spread throughout his entire body as he gets swallowed up by the darkness.

He tiredly mutters, ”Valene…I don want to leave her alone. ”

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