Happy: Canada and Reader:
You wished they’d all shut up, the happy families, the laughing couples, the screaming children playing soccer, and the ever persistent chime of the ice cream truck. Somehow they were enjoying the heat that covered the park and persisted to beat down on your back, causing your shirt to stick and making you feel uncomfortable while you worried whether your sticky arm would smear the charcoal picture.
It was a bit of a petty worry, but this picture was for school and there was only so much time you could have your muse sit still before his legs fell asleep.
“Just a bit longer,” you muttered to Matthew, your muse and best friend.
As instructed, he remained quiet while you drew; now working on the shading of his hair and the shine of his glasses. Hopefully this piece would earn you some extra credit in art and some brownie points with your teacher.
“You’re frowning again,” he said.
Your eyes flashed from your pad back to his face, a scowl now evident on your face. “So? I’m trying to concentrate.”
You could tell he was holding back a sigh, and you almost rolled your eyes, but returned to your work. You shouldn’t have to smile all the time, and right now smiling was taking a bit too much effort. It wasn’t that you were unhappy…you were confused, about a lot of things. Your emotions just didn’t want to stay in check lately.
But Matthew…Matthew was a different case, he was quiet and a bit shy, and always had his emotions in check. His large violet eyes were always observing things. “You used to smile more,” he said.
This time you did roll your eyes, feeling a bit testy and annoyed with the heat that buzzed around you. You slammed your sketchbook shut and stuffed it in your bag, “There is nothing wrong with not smiling,” you said in mock happiness, with a hint of sarcasm.
For once Matthew frowned. He looked hurt and you felt a twist of guilt in your stomach, watching as determination creased his brow. He stood looking as if he was about ready to yell, something he rarely did except for that one time when he yelled at his brother for three hours. He knelt beside you, a smile breaking out on his face.
“Do you want to go to the pancake house with me?” he asked calmly.
You pursed your lips. Pancakes did sound good and the two of you did know this great place that served delicious melt-in-your-mouth soft blueberry pancakes made with fresh blueberries and maple syrup that was sweet and equally warm.
“Okay,” you said reluctantly.
“R-Really?” he said. You nodded and your face grew warm when he suddenly took hold of your hand and led you through the park.
“But you’re paying,” you mumbled.
There were few things that entertained you those days, but one of them was watching Matthew eat pancakes. It was a real spectacle watching him wolf down plate after plate of syrup drowned pancakes and easily drinking three pots of decaf almost like he was his brother, who was his exact opposite and had a monster appetite.
You gave him a smirk like smile as the waitress brought him his fourth piping hot pancake stack, and already had a hand on the syrup bottle before she could even set it down. You on the other hand had only half of your own plate done and Matthew gave you a bashful red faced smile when he noticed this.
His smile made your stomach flutter, and your smirk disappeared. Why did you feel so self-conscious and nervous all of the sudden? It was just Matthew, your closest friend, but still seeing him smile made something flutter in your chest.
You stabbed your pancakes with frustration, confused by your emotions and tired of having these feelings when you were with him. You stuffed half of the rest of the pancakes in your mouth, and raised your hand to get the attention of your waitress.
“What’s wrong?” Matthew had noticed your sudden change in attitude and took a break from his pancakes.
“These pancakes are delicious,” you grumbled with a lopsided smile, feeling the twist of guilt loosen when Matthew smiled.
“Maybe we should’ve gone to the pancake house afterward,” you mumbled, nausea twisting through you as you tried to block the smell by pinching your nose.
Matthew had convinced you to go to the zoo after pancakes. He wanted to see the polar bear he swore recognized him, but it was in the middle of the zoo and you would have to go through the Bird Sanctuary to get there and it smelled like a Bird Sanctuary that hadn’t been cleaned in weeks. You wanted to get through there as fast as possible, but Matthew kept stopping.
“Sorry,” he said multiple times as you dragged him through the smelly exhibit.
“It’s fine,” you gasped, when you finally pushed the exit door open and fresh air filled your lungs and nasal passages. You’d probably be smelling bird waste for days. “Now where’s that polar bear?” you asked.
Matthew grinned and took the lead, taking you through the crowds of families who smelled like sunscreen and carried umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun that persistently shined even at six o’clock in the evening.
Finally you reached the polar bear exhibit. You thought you’d never get there because Matthew still stopped to look at the other animals. You, on the other hand, just wanted to see the polar bear and leave, maybe even go back to the park and finish your drawing, but it seems Matthew had a plan to convince you that the polar bear knew him even if it took the rest of the day.
He pressed up against the glass so his glasses rode up on his nose, his eyes watching one polar bear as it lumbered around and sat for a minute at the edge of the pool before trailing back and forth to a bowl of food.
“Hey Kumajiro,” he said and waved to the bear as it sat at the edge of the water. As silly as it was for a moment you almost expected it to look up at Matthew, but instead you giggled when the bear turned away and lay on its side, not even glancing at him.
You realized your mistake when Matthew turned to you, looking hurt either because you had giggled or Kumajiro had ignored him. Either way, you felt awful and tried to look sullen. “Sorry…” you said, glancing at the polar bear and willing it to look at Matthew. Maybe that would cheer him up.
“L-Let’s go get some ice cream. I’ll buy,” you said, trying to smile in the process, but it quickly faltered.
“Okay,” Matthew said, glancing at the polar bear one last time. He turned to you and the two of you walked out of the zoo.
“I can’t believe they actually had maple ice cream,” you said, trying to start a conversation with the quiet Matthew who walked along beside you, slowly licking his melting ice cream and looking down trodden. It was going to be difficult to start a conversation with him. “Well….um…thanks for taking me to the zoo.”
For a moment Matthew remained quiet while he nibbled on the ice cream cone, parting with a sigh he looked away and asked, “Did it make you happy?”
“What?” you asked. Of course it had cheered you up a bit, the crowd of people was annoying but you always enjoyed the zoo.
“What about the pancakes?” he asked, taking the last bite of cone.
“Those were nice,” you admitted, remembering the fluffy cakes doused in warm maple syrup, and stifling a giggle when Matthew swallowed almost his entire first plate before the waitress could leave.
You had some trouble seeing Matthew so sad, so you grabbed his hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “I also liked meeting Kumajiro. You two seem pretty close,” you joked and Matthew gave you a weak grin as his cheeks turned a light shade of pink.
“Yeah, like everyone else, he fails to notice me,” he said.
You frowned. Matthew was a nice guy, but almost invisible compared to his older brother. Finally you sighed and decided to say something that had been on your mind for a while. “I know how you feel, I-I’ve been interested in this guy lately,” you began, “But I don’t really think he notices me…in that way.”
Matthew stopped in place and didn’t dare meet your eye. “R-Really?” he asked.
“Yeah…”you said. “We’ve been friends for a long time…and not knowing has left me feeling all confused and frustrated….but he’s doing his best to make me happy.”
Your hands felt like a blazing inferno as they held onto each other, his grip growing tighter with every word until it felt like he was crushing your fingers. “Matthew,” you squeaked in pain, trying to pull your hand away.
“O-Oh, sorry,” he said loosening his grip, “He must be a lucky guy if-“
You cut him off, a smile quickly spreading across your face along with a blush that matched his, “Matthew, you make me happy.”