Chapter 7

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[l/n]'s thoughts have weird effects and drawbacks on my powers. Last night I tried to think of an explanation, but got nothing. If she has effects on my telepathy, I can't help but wonder if there are other powers that could be affected as well.

So far nothing else has been different, but I'm still on edge. I can't decide if I'm better off avoiding her or trying to find the cause. It may just be her, and it may just be a slight drawback to using my telepathy, but what if that changes? I can't afford to let that happen.

I glance at [l/n] as she sits next to me. I'm conflicted. Do I avoid her or not?

"Alright class, we're going to do portraits again today since last time half of the class only drew Teruhashi. You must have a different partner than last time, I don't want anyone to draw the same person twice."

Right, art class. Seriously, why do we have to do portraits again? Oh well, at least I can't be partners with Teruhashi this time. But why does something feel off?

'Now I get the chance to partner up with [l/n]! I'll show her who's better, I'll show Saiki who's better! I'm obviously disappointed that I can't be with him this time, but it's for the best. No matter how talented, she won't stand a chance trying to portray my beauty.'

After Teruhashi's request to partner up with her from before, even [l/n] seems to know what she has coming. She sinks slightly in her chair, glancing at Teruhashi from the corner of her eye as Teruhashi stares at her, determination in her eyes. It's not subtle.

'I hate competition.'

Yare yare. This will only irritate Teruhashi more, but I suppose I might as well spare [l/n] from whatever Teruhashi has up her sleeve.

'Hey.'

[l/n] shifts her gaze to me, silently urging me on.

'Partner with me. Unless you want to be with Teruhashi.'

She seems confused by my offer, but gives a hesitant nod of gratitude. Now that I think about it, I don't really know why I'm helping her. Is it pity? Sympathy? Whatever the reason, it won't change anything in the long run.

We grab our sketchbooks and turn to face eachother, making it obvious to Teruhashi that her plan is off the table. I don't look at her, but I don't need to see her to know the current expression on her face. Her thoughts are almost deafening.

'What!? Again!? I mean maybe it's just because they sit next to eachother, right? Saiki only partnered with her out of convenience, that's all! But didn't I tell her I wanted to be partners? I know she didn't forget, and no one rejects an offer like that, not even a girl!'

Well in a way she's right about the convenience part. Partnering with someone else to avoid dealing with Teruhashi is convenient.

Taking my attention away from her, I look down at the page in front of me. I realize once again that I'm not going to be able to draw anything. I guess I have no choice but to leave it blank again.

Teruhashi's thoughts go on. 'Either way, at least he shouldn't leave the page blank like he did with me to represent her beauty. She's too plain looking for him to do that twice. If he did, he'd have to think she's perfectly beautiful. But she doesn't even come close to my beauty, so that won't happen. I'm sure of it.'

Seriously? What does that even mean? I fiddle with my pencil out of agitation. How am I supposed to leave a blank page now? I can't have Teruhashi thinking I find anyone "perfectly beautiful". Unfortunately I can't draw [l/n] either. So what now?

I must've spent too long staring at my page because [l/n]'s calm words suddenly interrupt my thoughts. "You don't like to draw, right? You don't have to."

She eyes the pencil in my hand. It hasn't touched the page once.

I hesitate. 'It's not that. I can't.'

[l/n]'s expression relaxes. "Most of the class can't either, they won't judge it either way."

This is difficult. It's not like I can explain the reason to her. 'No, I mean I just- Can't.'

She's still confused, but she doesn't question it any farther. Instead she just sighs. "Don't worry about it then. Just pretend to draw for now."

My eyebrow raises. I'm surprised she dropped it so easily. To someone who doesn't understand it just sounds like a lame excuse, so why doesn't she care?No matter her reason, there's still a problem. 'I still need something to turn in.'

I'm not too worried about my grade, but if Teruhashi asks to see my drawing and I have nothing, it'll be a disaster. I have to come up with something-

"I'll take care of it."

'What?'

She continues. "I can draw in a different style so it doesn't look like mine if that's what your worried about."

Even if she can pull that off, is that a good idea? Either way, if she did that, I would be in her debt. I don't like the idea of owing her anything. Besides-

'You wouldn't have enough time to draw two portraits.'

"Not well. But if I do poorly for both of us, Teruhashi will be satisfied, and you will have a final product. If I don't try, the drawings'll be average at best."

Her eyes shift to mine. "That's what you want, isn't it?"

My eyes widen slightly. Why does she always sound like she knows more than she should? Keeping her around really isn't smart. But how can I figure out what's going on if I don't?

Whatever. There's no time to worry about that. I've been given a solution, the best thing I can do now is take it.

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