Ordinary Days Of Taking Shelter From the Rain With A Gatekeeper Girl - Chapter 2 Evasion-Specialized Character Aoki-kun
- Ordinary Days Of Taking Shelter From the Rain With A Gatekeeper Girl
- Chapter 2 Evasion-Specialized Character Aoki-kun
I’m being made to run around the gym and I was way past my limit. But I didn’t feel any physical discomfort, something like blood spurting from my throat.
So, this is…a dream that recreates the past. A dream I often have, I realized immediately.
“You have to run faster. You never know when the old advisor will show up.”
“Always make it look like you’re doing club activities! Protect our paradise, the club room~!”
A group of rude people that were reading manga in the distance issued a warning to us, new students. How did we end up in this mess? I always wondered that.
First of all, it was rumored that the basketball team at our junior high school was traditionally full of greedy kids.
All the bad kids who graduated from elementary school who wanted to make a name for themselves would join the basketball team. It was a good way to get noticed. They would be feared in class and could do whatever they wanted. That’s why.
Even those who joined the club without knowing what was going on, like me, were gradually tainted in the wrong direction.
The older students, who loudly boasted about smoking underage, would pass the younger students off as loving guidance. It was a completely vertical society — a world of seniority.
I want to be like this in the future, I want to be in a superior position, I want to act like a big shot, I want to be a joker. With such ambitions and a sense of camaraderie as our only support, we continued to endure all sorts of recklessness in our first year.
As we continued to endure such difficult days, I became a sophomore. I automatically became a senpai. My wish had come true, and I was finally in a higher position.
And yet, I didn’t know why I couldn’t be like the other guys around me, trying to pass them off as kouhais. I think it was because I’ve been projecting myself onto the new students for the past year.
The resentment that I never had a chance to clear was standing like a mountain of garbage somewhere in my mind.
Then one day, in the late afternoon of June. Takeuchi-senpai said to me.
“All right, you guys, let’s do this next one. Penalty games! Let’s fight!”
It was about the time when I was getting tired of playing Millionaire — or maybe I was getting tired of skipping class to play — and everyone in the room was looking for some stimulation.
Punishment games became a good spice. The game turned out to be spicy. The result was that I came in last.
My opponent was a timid-looking person called Taiboku. He was a freshman. He was the poor guy who was forced to skip class by his senpai who considered delinquency as a norm.
He was so tall that someone might have recommended him to join the basketball team. It was somewhat similar to my situation.
“I’m telling you, guys. This is a game. It’s the same as a kid’s plaything. It’s just a game, you know? Heh. Do you know what that is?”
The people around us, acting as spectators, clapped their hands treating us like monkeys to encourage our fighting spirit.
The other guy, a first-year, stood with shaky legs and feet. He had too little experience. He hadn’t even participated in the brawl that the older students had forced him into.
I mean, it’s too much to ask a guy who was in elementary school a while ago to do something like this.
This is how my exasperation exploded. I wanted to destroy the twisted vertical society.
As my impulse took over, I punched Takeuchi-senpai, who was one of the spectators, in the shoulder as hard as I could.
Takeuchi-senpai, who lost his balance and hit his back on the locker, didn’t understand what just happened.
“Damn, that hurts. …… Hey, hey hey, Aoki-chan. What do you think you’re doing… do you know what you’ve done? It’s not me you’re fighting against, you know!”
“That’s right. Why don’t we just do it like normal, instead of playing fight? You guys have been over this for a long time. I’m going to crush this basketball team’s paradise of shit. Come on.”
Because of the sudden action, the people around me still didn’t seem to grasp what had happened. So I grabbed Minakoshi by the chest, who was stunned.
This was the signal for the junior members of the team to take over.
“What? Let go of me, you creep! Have you forgotten that I bought you juice, Aoki?”
“I haven’t forgotten. Though, it’s not worth it only for a drink.”
From then on, it was a brawl. No one knew who was friend or foe. The bloody fistfight continued until someone went to call the teacher.
The result. Most of the club members were suspended from school and forced to leave the club.
Just as I had hoped, the basketball club was closed down.
After that, I stopped going to school. The basketball team was the only human contact I had, and I couldn’t see the point in going to school anymore (I was slacking off too much and couldn’t keep up with my studies).
The senior members of the basketball team might come to retaliate. If they did, my family would be in trouble. So I didn’t stay at home but spent my days wandering around the city until late at night.
Of course, my truancy and daytime wandering became a problem in my family. My parents were disappointed in their second son, who, like his older brother, had run away from home. Now we don’t even get to say hello to each other.
It was the worst thing that ever happened to me.
I found myself at the end of the fourth period, basic biology.
My back and neck aches tightly. It was just another stupid dream. A lame replay of a domestic dispute.
The eyeballs peeked out at me. The students around me, who woke up after lunchtime, gave me a subdued look. Don’t look at me. Or rather, wake me up oi.
Oh, I feel uncomfortable again today. Let’s get to the front of the roof. I took my bag and left my seat. As I was leaving the classroom—
On the way, I made eye contact with Kusano Marika, a member of the class council.
She smiled. The smile was so well done that I almost mistook it for something else. I pretended not to notice and looked away.
Kusano Marika interacts with many different groups of girls, and the people she eats with vary from day to day. In other words, she seems to be friends with most of the girls in her class.
At the same time, this also means that she doesn’t have a close friend. The fact that she doesn’t make you feel that is probably a result of her virtue.
Well, now that I’ve decided to run away from the classroom, Kusano doesn’t matter to me anymore.
I went out into the corridor and walked up the stairs, with the students heading for the cafeteria behind me.
When I arrived at the third floor, I walked from one end of the corridor to the other (the stairs on the east side of the school building were empty again today), vaguely checked that there was no one in the science room, and went up the stairs again.
“You’re here again…how can you keep coming back when you don’t even have a logbook?”
And I could hear her blatantly disgusted voice even before I saw her face.
Her name is Amamori. I don’t know her first name. She’s a senpai who became my lunchmate last week by chance. She’s the only person I can talk to at the moment.
When I reached the scaffolding, I bent at the waist and bowed to the senpai sitting next to the door.
“Good work, Amamori-paisen. I’m looking forward to having lunch with you again today. Good morning!”
I greeted her with both hands in the style of a shadow puppet, saying hello.
Of course, I didn’t forget my kouhai colleague’s mischievous humor. Phew, that was a good decision.
“Haaaaaa…I hope the rhinos stab you to death after the lion eats you alive…”
It hadn’t been decided yet. Amamori sighed and stared down at my hands with a jittery stare. Moreover, I had been killed by a ravenous beast twice in my senpai’s desire. Poor me.
“What a nice greeting, Amamori-senpai. Didn’t you tell me a week ago that I should improve my kouhai ability?”
“Yes, I did say that, but…that’s too much polishing. Didn’t you learn that too much kouhai power can sometimes destroy you? Didn’t they teach you that?”
I didn’t learn any of that in middle school.
I sat down on a step down from the scaffolding in front of the roof. Then, I took out two plum-flavored rice balls from my bag.
I’ve been coming to this landing for about a week now. It’s been a long time since I’ve had an ongoing relationship with someone like this, and our lunch break interactions are the only thing I can look forward to.
So, let’s be lunchmates again today!
Well, let’s see. First of all, let’s talk about something…as usual, I can’t think of a topic. I’m sad about my rusty interpersonal skills.
I was wondering how to talk to her when I noticed that Amamori was eating differently than usual. Okay, this is the perfect topic for lunch. That’s it.
“Oh, that’s it, Paisen. You didn’t eat any ears today, did you?”
Today, Amamori was munching on a green melon bread. There was a bottle of nutritional drink beside it. I thought to myself, wow.
Up until last week, Amamori had always eaten only bread crusts, so I thought that was her fixed lunch menu. Isn’t that how she saves money?
“Mmm. It’s not like I’m a woman who loves ears and eats human flesh on a regular basis, Aoki-kun.”
“No, that was not my intention.”
“Yeah…well, I eat more than just the bread ears, too. If I didn’t, I’d collapse from malnutrition.”
“Ah, yes. That’s true, if you think about it normally.”
The economic situation of the Amamori family was not good. It was just a selfish guess on my part. The reality of the situation was unknown. In fact, they may not be poor at all.
However, I couldn’t help but notice Amamori’s thin, lean body. Her legs, stretching out from her skirt, were sickly thin. I wonder if she eats breakfast properly.
“It’s just… What are you doing staring at me without my permission, Aoki? Suddenly an adulterer? I’m going to hit you in the butt 500 million times with a metal bat.”
“Ah. No, I’m sorry.”
I apologized and looked away (too late). If her words were to be carried out, it would probably result in the complete destruction of my anus. But it won’t happen.
“My goodness…good grief. You can’t be too careful, can you? No matter how much you admire my good looks, it’s impossible. Please reflect deeper than the Mediterranean Sea.”
“I-I’m sorry…but you don’t have to overreact like that, do you? It’s not like I was trying to look at your panties or anything.”
“Ah, of course. If Aoki-kun is trying to look at my panties, I’ll slap him back and forth with my clenched fist until his memory flies!”
It was Amamori who shook my hand, squeezing it tightly. That’s not a slap anymore, it’s called a slam. I believed in the possibility (estimated at about 35%) that this woman was joking.
However, it would be very bad to spoil Amamori’s mood. I was allowed to eat here.
It’s a relationship that’s built on delicate ground, and I feel like it’s slowly deteriorating.
This place is literally the last resort. If possible, I’d like to get along with her, is my honest intention.
It’s been a while since I’ve done that. I checked the condition of the tongue around my mouth.
“You know what? Forcing me to look at your underwear is not a common sense thing to do. It’s a crime. You can’t even see them because of your position and location. Oh, but…”
“But? Counterintuitive? What is it?”
“It’s like my eyes are drawn to you. I find myself staring at you.”
Amamori released the melon bread she was holding into her bag. And then she froze for a while.
“Why is that?”
“I mean you know, Amamori-senpai has an idol-like face, right? Just looking at you makes me happy.”
“Eh…ehhh!? Wha…what is it all of the sudden!?”
The reaction was more than I expected, but I ignored it and continued (momentum is important in these things).
“You see, your face is impossibly small and your eyes and nose is well-defined. And your legs are long for someone of your short stature. And if you can talk—wait, you really have experience as a child actor or idol?”
“I-I-I-I don’t have such a background.”
“Ah, really? You’ve got that kind of aura. Those are hard to hide. You’re unconsciously emitting negative energy, aren’t you? The next time you go to a proper hospital, you should have it checked out. Well, looking at Amamori-senpai, my fatigue disappears at once.”
The secret technique of killing praise. I made the best use of my old skills as a kouhai colleague and spoke up with gestures. It’s a trick that even the delinquents on the junior high school basketball team liked.
But I can’t expect it to have that much of an effect. If you’re as good-looking as Amamori, you’re used to getting compliments on your looks, of course.
She’s a very confident person, and I’m sure she’ll just let it slide. She would say, I’m used to being told that.
That’s what I thought, but—
For some reason, she replied in a vanishing tone, and Amamori turned her head to hide her face.
I think she was chewing in a weird way, but I don’t care about that for now. But more importantly—Eh, doesn’t she look really embarrassed?
If you look, you’ll see that Amamori’s cheeks are more flushed than when I heard that big, demonic sound of hunger.
Eh, no, if you take it as a compliment instead of a trick, I’ll be embarrassed, but I’d rather you didn’t kill the compliment…well…
“Paisen, are you chewing now?”
I hurriedly covered my embarrassment with teasing.
“Wha, hah!? Not only my appearance, but even my tongue is praised as perfect, and I’ve been persistently recruited by the drama club. Yes, yes, I’m not chewing on anything.”
She clasped her mouth with her hand and turned away from me, with a deceptive smile on her face.
“No, you definitely said ‘ahm’ as ‘unyu’. What is that? That’s a miraculously cute way of chewing.”
“I’m not chewing! By the way, the word ‘unyu’ refers to the right bre*st, and the comment I just made was an expression of admiration for the fact that my right bre*st is now in its growth phase.”
Amamori, with a red face, patted her rather assertive right breast. What kind of deception is that? If that’s the case, why don’t you let your left bre*st go through a growth spurt?
“Fu… Ah, I’m sorry, I’m not questioning you. It’s fine. It’s fine.”
I laughed at the unexpected reply. And then she stared at me with a grudge.
“Aoki-kun…if you’re going to act like a pick-up artist with such a relaxed attitude, I won’t be chatting with you again.”
“…Who’s the pick-up artist?”
It’s rude for her to call me that. This was too much of a sudden accusation.
In fact, I was just trying to get in a good mood by exaggeratingly praising the appearance of a person of the opposite sex that I don’t get along with—
—I’m starting to think that’s what they’re calling me, isn’t it…? That was me a few minutes ago.
While I was wondering how to excuse myself, Amamori coughed deliberately.
“Please don’t try to take the initiative. What I’m talking to you about now is just a whim…or a sideshow to pass the time. It’s just a playful way to take care of a wounded dog that happened to wander into your territory. I’m allowing you to stay here temporarily because you looked so dead, Aoki. If your injuries have healed, then go away quickly.”
Amamori put her fingertips on her chest and spoke crisply, giving off a graceful aura of a medieval noblewoman (no wonder she was scouted by the theater club).
Her argument is logical. In short, she’s saying that this is her territory, and strangers should get the hell out.
In fact, she’s probably right, and the fact that she’s talking to me is just a whim. The overly confident aura that Amamori exudes must be the result of her mental strength.
“Fuuu. I’m sorry, but I’ve lost my fun today…ah, no, this is not a rudimentary gag. I’m not going to be chatting with you anymore, Aoki-kun. See you tomorrow. Goodbye.”
As she said this, Amamori took out an old-fashioned game console from her hoodie pocket.
It had a bulky form that was typical of old machines. From the two-folded cube, a light startup sound drifted out and disappeared.
A-ah…I’ve seen that game at my relatives’ house once. Why did you bring a retro game with you?
A stare. She gave me a disinterested glance and ignored my question to prolong the conversation.
The way she rejected me was as if she had closed the door.
After that, the meal continued quietly.
It was now 22:35.
I was sitting on a bench in the park, staring at a tall electric lamp.
The orange light seemed to be bad for my eyes. Beyond it, the June night sky is spreading out.
A while ago, I was at a burger place on a street corner, sipping a cup of coffee and relaxinga around. Before that, I was watching an old man playing on an old arcade machine and looking at clothes I would never buy. I tried to spend as little money as possible, and just pass the time well.
Why do I make so many detours after school? The answer is simple: if I went straight home, I would have met my parents and it would have been awkward. A less significant reason is that it is common in adolescence.
I don’t come home until my parents are asleep. It’s a habit I’ve developed since middle school. I haven’t spoken to my family for two years now. The most I could do was leave a note in writing.
Apparently, a broken relationship is very difficult to repair.
That’s why I want to do something about the relationship with the gatekeeper who sits in front of the rooftop before it’s broken.
My interactions with Amamori have not gone well except for the first day. As soon as she finished eating, she would just tell me not to talk to her and concentrate on the rectangular screen of her phone.
In addition, Amamori tucks her bread ears into her mouth as quickly as if she were a starving squirrel. The average conversation lasted less than ten minutes.
Although Amamori is willing to engage in conversation during meals, she may not be looking for lunchtime interaction with others at all.
Even so, trying to talk to her was my last desperate attempt—
Boom! The sound of something hard hitting the ground. My consciousness was pulled back to the ground.
Near the fountain in the central square, a group of young people riding skateboards were making a lot of noise. Apparently, it was the start of a demonstration of technique.
A young man with a skateboard was trying to spin in the air, but failed. A tall man stumbles and rolls on the paved ground.
The unrestrained laughter of his friends echoed in the damp night of the park.
That’s right, the general public, who don’t share the same groove, can’t help but sigh.
The sound of the wheels scraping on the ground and the loud laughter spreading in the inner circle. Both of them are noisy.
But hey, skateboards…Hmm. I wonder if I’ll be able to join them if I buy one of those mobile boards. I’ve heard it’s popular these days.
Such a naive thought came to my mind and I quickly erased it from my mind. No. There’s no way. I wouldn’t fit in with that group anyway.
A chain of traumatic memories replayed in my mind.
It was two summers ago, when I started to seek a place outside of junior high school. I once came across a group of rappers in the park in front of the station at night.
There were about five of them, I think. I was impressed by a neat-looking guy with a cap under his hood.
Surrounding a small speaker, they were playing up-tempo music, one after the other, in ear-splittingly pleasant Japanese (this ritualistic relay of words is called a “cypher”).
At the time, I saw the scene and saw an opportunity. Freestyle rap as a common language. If I could learn it, I could be included in the circle.
From that day on, I read introductory books on rap at the bookstore and practiced alone on the riverbed in the afternoon. I felt like I was having a hip-hop dream.
The next time I saw them, I was ready to show them my polished skills as a business card.
After that, I met up with the group of rappers in front of the station park, just as I had hoped, but—
—As a junior high school student, I was intimidated by the testing glances of these young men who were many years older than me.
I couldn’t get on the beat, my tongue was biting and I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. In the end, I ran away with my tail between my legs. I still remember the sneer I heard from behind me.
I’ve experienced this kind of failure and defeat many times during my years away from school.
For example, I once tried to join a volunteer cleaning group.
That was a serious endeavor for me. I thought I would fit in someday, even though I stood out from the mild-mannered crowd, I tried my best to pick up littered cans and cigarette butts.
Well, I stopped going to school because it was awkward after a well-dressed lady staff member found out that I was truant and lectured me for a few minutes, telling me that I should go to school properly.
It’s the same with the other attempts. I couldn’t fit in with any group, and I kept losing.
I’ve become a coward because I’ve made so many terrible mistakes. I’ve been running away from everything and everyone. The only place left for me to go is in front of that dimly lit rooftop.
When I look back, I can’t think of anything other than why my life turned out the way it did. I’m so hungry. I want to go home. Or rather, I want to go back to when I was a baby. I want to regress.
I lifted my head to look at the round clock in the park and saw that it was now 23:00. I wasn’t going to be able to leave for at least another hour. I was tired, very tired.
Oh, sleepy, sleepy.
It was time to go to school on Wednesday. Fighting back a yawn, I changed into my shoes at the noisy gate.
Of course, morning comes when you wake up after sleeping. And then I go to my uncomfortable classroom. After school, when I finally arrive, it’s just doing homework to pass the time.
A trivial routine that repeats itself; is there a way out of this tunnel with no end in sight?
I don’t know anything about that. Oh man, I can’t think straight. It’s definitely due to lack of sleep. I know I’m not a good sleeper, so why don’t you go deeper into sleep, you stupid brain.
Feeling like a zombie, I walked into the classroom. Then, the girl who was happily talking to me — I think her name was Kawahashi — saw me and for some reason lowered her voice.
I didn’t want to think about it. I dropped my bag and ass in my seat and quickly got into a sleeping position.
I rested my weight on the wooden backrest and folded my arms like a noodle shop owner. I pull down the curtain of my eyelids and I’m ready to sleep.
After a while, the voices of the people around me start to fade away.
My consciousness…gradually becomes blurred. I’m falling into a more comfortable state.
Well, good night…
“Ki-kun, hello, Aoki-kun? It’s time for you to wake up.”
Wobble. Wobble. Someone was shaking my body.
The discomfort peculiar to waking up from sleep came over me and I felt sick to my stomach. My neck and back ache even though I’ve only been asleep for a short time. But then, it’s…awfully quiet around me.
“Ah, you’re up. Hey, good morning. You’re waking up late, so maybe you slept late?”
My consciousness…hadn’t fully awakened. For now, I just replied to the cheerful voice.
I opened my eyelids. There is not a single fluorescent light on in the classroom. And there was no one there but me and her.
…Huh? No one here?
“Oh, a birthday party…”
It’s some kind of surprise, isn’t it…?
“Oh, it’s your birthday today? No way, I don’t have a present.”
“No, it’s not for me. It’s…for someone.”
“Someone?… who is that? Ahaha? Don’t make me panic. My heart just skipped a beat.”
“Don’t panic on me on my birthday…if you watch a horror movie or something, your heart will skip to the end of the universe…”
…I’m too sleepy. I dug my fingernails into the skin of my upper arm, the pain sending me back up.
I look to the side with firm eyes. Kusano Marika, dressed in a jersey, stood with her back to the raindrop-stained window. She clasped her hands behind her back and smiled. She gives me a mismatched smile in the background.
“Nothing like that. I have a pretty good tolerance for horror movies. Yeah, I’m good.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you think that the murderer and the man-eating shark can’t touch you, you won’t be so scared, right? But all of a sudden—boo!”
Kusano put her hands together and struck a pose like a bear on her feet.
“If someone threatened to kill me, I’d be scared, wouldn’t I?”
“O…oh. Seriously, that’s…”
Oi. Don’t suddenly start shouting in the silence. There might be kids in this classroom who don’t like horror stories. Me, me, me, me… Be considerate, Kusano.
“I mean, I don’t care about horror. More importantly, class president, what’s with the outfit?”
I asked the question bluntly to change the subject. She tugged at the chest of her dead grass-colored jersey and stretched it out.
“As you can see, it’s gym. Volleyball in the gym today. It’s been raining a lot lately.”
“So the second period has already started. I’ve slept too much…and more importantly, no one has ever woken me up before?”
I felt somewhat blue there.
“What? That’s not true, is it? The first-period teacher was trying to wake you up.”
Kusano denied it, tilting her head slightly.
“Seriously? What? Surely you’ve been paying attention to me at least.”
“Yes, but…I mean, Aoki-kun, you really don’t remember, do you?”
“You know, Aoki-kun, you gave Yoshiko-chan a scary glare when she warned you, muttered, don’t wake me up, you baka, and then promptly fell asleep again.”
“W-what’s that…I don’t remember What, I, no common sense shitty student…”
Apparently, I was sleeptalking through a rant against my new language teacher. Which one of us is the baka who can’t control himself? I felt as blue as primary colors.
In contrast, Kusano laughed, hiding her mouth with her palms. She’s a class president who laughs a lot. I guess the secret of her popularity is her smile.
“I also have one more question for you, Kusano.”
“What’s that? Ask me anything.”
“What’s wrong with your class?”
If I look at the clock, I can see that the second period is just about over. In a quiet classroom like this, an honor student who ran for class president is chatting with me…it’s weird, isn’t it?
In response to my question, Kusano gave me an embarrassed look, as if the prank had been exposed.
“Ah, haha…I pretended to have a stomachache and got out. It’s a chance for me to talk to Aoki-kun alone without worrying about people’s sympathy or concern. There’s no way I’m going to miss this.”
It was a shocking statement, but I managed to keep a cool face.
“It’s a chance for you to talk to Aoki-kun alone, so you skipped class to be here.”
However, if I repeated Kusano’s aim, the story would not be so shady.
Just as the woman who picked me up on the street wanted to sell me a worthless pot, this contact from a beautiful woman on all sides must have some kind of nefarious motive. It’s a troublesome story.
“Yah, haha. Well, that’s true. It’s bad when you repeat it, it’s bad.”
“And what do you actually want?”
“Eh, what do I want?”
“Punishment games among friends or…something like that.”
You want me to go make the dull opposite sex dream? I know this because it was popular in the basketball club. For example, a well-built senpai tries to seduce a plain girl on the library committee and discard her immediately as a punishment game.
Thinking about it, my resentment against the basketball team probably accelerated from that time. Well, the older students found out that I had warned the unassuming girl that he was cheating on her, and they treated me like a cold kouhai for a while. I pushed it to the bottom of my memory, a negative event that I wish I could forget.
“Eh, ehhh…it’s not a punishment game though? I don’t want you to take it too seriously~. I just want to have a chat. You know what they say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I think this kind of exceptional first step is necessary in order to get along with Aoki-kun, who is the most difficult person to talk to in class. Yeah, yeah, a compromising attitude is especially important.”
Kusano spoke quickly and flippantly, then folded her arms and nodded her head. The twin mounds on her chest, which are considered large for a first-year high school student, are well emphasized.
Somehow, every single one of her gestures is so scandalous. While I wondered what kind of backstory this class president had, I didn’t particularly want to know.
“Is that so? Well, I guess we’ve talked enough and you’re satisfied. I’m going to go now.”
“Eh? W-where are you going, Aoki-kun?”
“I’m skipping the morning. Honors student-san, you should go back now. They’ll think you’re a woman with a long toilet vomit.”
“Eh, w-wait! Let’s see, the story is still to come—”
Ignoring Kusano’s attempts to stop me, I fled the classroom as fast as I could.
Don’t let such a sweet trap roll over you like this now. When I was out of school, I had a dream that I would study for the entrance exam and bet everything on my high school life. I threw away that dream just a few days ago.
I had already fled the classroom.
My footsteps naturally lead me to my destination in front of the rooftop. I skipped down the stairs and walked with ease.
It was still class time, but walking around with a “I’m late” look on my face didn’t make the upperclassmen in the classroom look at me suspiciously.
But in front of the science lab on the third floor, that method didn’t work either. Unfortunately, one of the classes was conducting a science experiment.
If I were to be discovered, it wouldn’t be a big deal…but it would be messy.
I was on my way. Leaning forward while keeping sounds and presence to a minimum, I quickly ascend the stairs and reach the front of the rooftop—
I looked up in response to the voice and could see the panties in a skirt.
Hmm, I’m too sleep-deprived to understand. Panties?
Oh, right, panties. Those triangle-like clothes that are used to cover up sexual and anal things. That’s what I was looking at right now. Polka dots that shouldn’t be visible are saying hello through the gap between one knee and the other.
Amamori, who is letting the cute polka dots greet me at her crotch, quietly put down the game console.
“Oh, I’m not embarrassed at all even if people see my panties, you know? I’m a woman of strong spirit, I can handle this much, you know.”
Amamori stood up with agile movements and dusted off her skirt.
Then, with an expressionless and red-faced face, she turned her shoulders in an extremely dull manner and said,
“But my pride won’t allow it. I know it’s a classic method, but as I’ve declared, I’m going to keep slapping Aoki-kun on the front of the head with a boom to erase the underwear information from his short-term memory.”
“W-wait…! It’s not intentional! This is really just an accident…!”
My feelings went limp. The air seemed to be buzzing with noise.
“Hmm. It was probably intentional, anyway. You saw that I was down on one knee, and you secretly approached me to get a close-up view of my beautiful panties, didn’t you?”
“No, not like that, I’m not going to act like a ballsy type of pervert like that.”
It’s a false accusation, and I don’t think I’m the only one responsible for this accident.
“I’ve got something to say too. What are you doing on your knees facing forward, Paisen? You’re the one who’s being an exhibitionist. Huh? At least lean on this side.”
I knock on the sidewall. The sound of knocking disappeared with the downpour outside.
“Sharap. Whatever position you’re in, it’s up to me, the ruler of the rooftop front.”
It sounds like a joke word, but it’s not. Perhaps Amamori was being serious.
Even with her expressionless face, the faint hint of warmth that I could usually feel was fading.
“Normally, I pay attention to the sounds coming up the stairs, so I can deal with visitors. This time I couldn’t handle it because some pervert moved in with the sound of the rain.”
“Seriously, wait a minute. That’s not what happened.”
“What could possibly be different?”
“I can’t help it. We’re in class. I rushed upstairs while blending in so that the guys in the science lab wouldn’t find out. Then I saw a paisen with polka dots for a face.”
I explained the situation firmly. Then, Amamori opened her mouth and let out a small ah… But the look of conviction that had finally appeared on her face quickly returned to a cold, serious expression.
“Then don’t skip class to have a lucky event. You’re a bad pick-up artist and a spoiled kouhai. Please do your duty as a student.”
A warning and retaliatory chop was given to my shin. It didn’t hurt as much as it should have, but some part of me felt bad. I was as unhappy as a little boy after being scolded.
“…That said, you’ve been skipping school too, haven’t you? You’re also a gameboy advocate. Don’t be so absorbed with your game.”
“No, I’m an excellent student. I can skip classes that I understand perfectly. Besides, I’m talking about Aoki-kun now. Do you understand?”
The pompous ponytailed woman easily put herself on the shelf.
Too much tidiness, too much clarity. I’m getting pissed off, to say the least. Why don’t you come down to where I’m standing? Don’t keep looking down at me!
I quickly calmed down. What am I going to do if I have to confront my senpai again? There was clearly a lot of blood in my veins right now. The aggression I had been raised with was not going to go away.
“You know what? I’m going to say this again…this rooftop front is my personal domain. For you, it is only a temporary temporary loan. I don’t want you coming in and out of my place. Please move to another place as soon as possible.”
The Amamori peep didn’t even look at me anymore and resumed playing her retro game.
I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.
The familiar helplessness that comes from failure is whispering to me to get out of here too.
“Okay, I’m out. I’m going to disappear, goodbye…but will you ask me about my situation at the end?”
I didn’t want to run away like this. I wanted to leave some kind of souvenir behind before I left.
“Huh. What’s the matter? But more importantly, Aoki-kun, talking to a respected senpai in a casual manner is an extremely disrespectful act—”
“Oh, come on. The relationship between senpai and kouhai at school depends on when you’re ready to sire, as you said.”
The respected senpais are astonished by the profane undertones.
“Huh, you’ll be a stranger tomorrow anyway, right? It’s okay if you just say something random at the end. More importantly, do you want to listen or not?”
Amamori put her cheeks on her hands and showed signs of being troubled, but she quickly gave an answer.
“It’s fine. It doesn’t cost anything to ask. There is nothing cheaper than free. Free is the best. Long live free. Before the sensei comes, please be brief.”
“Haha. No problem. I don’t have that much time, so I’m okay with that. So, where should I start—”
I sat there and one-sidedly talked about my past.
I had been suspended from junior high school. And because of my failures as a truant, I couldn’t get along at the high school I was expecting to attend—
—I’m not a good student in the classroom. My relationship with my family is also at its worst. I talked about all of this and more.
The other side of the room, Amamori, was silent without giving a word. She did not move a muscle but kept her big eyes fixed on me.
“—And that’s about it. That’s all. Thank you for your attention.”
In the end, Amamori didn’t open her mouth once until the story was over.
I felt like I was talking to a stray dog in a back alley. That was fine. The truth is, I think I wanted someone to listen to me.
“So, that’s why. It’s…fun to chat with you in front of the rooftop. I’ll never go near Amamori-senpai’s territory again, so don’t worry.”
Tomorrow, the days of running away from school, looking for a place to stay…and roaming the streets aimlessly will resume.
As long as there was at least one person who knew that fact, I could be okay with it.
“Wait, you baka.”
“Ouch!? What, huh? What’s with the violence this time?”
Before I could get up, Amamori stood up and gave me a vertical chop. What the hell, don’t pull my hair back.
“What’s wrong with you? Violence on the verge of parting is a hell of a parting gift, you bitch. Take care of your kouhai’s brain cells, will you—!? Why are you crying!?”
“….bubuu. Incorrect. I don’t like this. I’m known for being a super cool beauty, but it seems like I have a weakness for tears.”
For some reason, Amamori had teary eyes. Her brow creased as she tried to keep the drops from spilling out of her moist eyes. I was puzzled by her bare emotions.
“Aoki-kun…why don’t you tell me about those complications from the beginning?”
“Eh. No, you can’t really talk about such dark things with someone you just met.”
“You still should have told me…Baka. You’re a baka kouhai. Give me back the wasted effort of putting up a warning. Baka baka bakaaa. No matter how intelligent I am, I don’t actually know if you actually have lunchmate syndrome, do I? It’s even possible that some frivolous delinquent has come to invade my territory, disguised as a lone man with a face like death. Baka baka baka!”
A vertical chop was thrown in with a nice rhythm. I’m sorry, I’m a delinquent. Please give me a break. My brain cells are dying.
It didn’t hurt, but as you can imagine, I twisted around and tried to dodge the attack—
“That’s enough. For now, cheer up, Aoki-kun.”
—Then she patted me on the head. The gentle touch moves back and forth across my scalp in a steady rhythm.
“What is it this time? Isn’t that a little too much candy and whippings, are you the queen of those stores?”
“If you keep accumulating dark emotions day by day like that, they will burst with a crack one day…enjoy this level of charity with an open mind. Let’s be cheerful. Energy is important, it’s as important as health.”
I think the reason I couldn’t resist was because her usually pompous voice sounded like she was honestly about to start crying.
For a moment, the front of the rooftop, where no lights were on, lit up. After a delay, a thunderous roar echoed through my body.
On a rainy day, the rooftop is chilly, noisy, and not at all comfortable to be next to the outside air. It’s one of the worst places to slack off.
But still. I still wanted to stay in front of this rooftop.
I didn’t really want to run away from here. I wanted to know more about Amamori, who was confident, surprisingly expressive despite her default expressionlessness, and suddenly sadness — I wanted to know more about her.
I think some crying woman said earlier that it’s important to be approachable.
“What do you plan to do now, Aoki-kun?”
When she finally pulled away, Amamori stood up, put her hands on her hips, and looked down at me pompously. The tears that had been welling up in her eyes had receded, so she must have regained her composure.
“You’re not doing so well in class, are you?”
“…Well, yes. I was thinking that maybe I should stop coming to school.”
If school didn’t work out, I would have to leave. I didn’t have a specific idea of what I wanted to do. When I didn’t say anything, Amamori held up her index finger and said.
“Now that you’ve told me what happened, I can’t ignore Aoki, who seems to be under serious pressure…That, is, why! As the owner of a compassionate and virtuous spirit, I, as your ‘master,’ will guide you out of this dead end. This is a kind of noblesse oblige, isn’t it? What do you want to do, Aoki-kun? Will you accept my charity?”
[TLN: Noblesse Oblige = the inferred responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged.]
I know it’s a fucking uptight thing to say, but I knew that Amamori was reaching out to me. Physically and mentally.
There doesn’t seem to be any other choice, and there’s no willpower or pride left for me to protect now…sounds about right.
“Ah, I get it… that’s fine. I’ll take it. I don’t know what that means, but I’ll take it. I’m volunteering to be your apprentice.”
I took Amamori’s helping hand and gingerly stood up. Since I’m already here, let’s go a little further, I might as well try to get my foot in front of this rooftop.
“Yes, good. You can count on me. If you go through the trials and tribulations of my ‘rare mastery’ you will quickly fit in with the class and become the most popular student at school. Eventually, you will become, let’s see…someone amazing!”
“The lack of vision for the future is amazing. Are you sure it’s safe to study under you?”
“Shut up, disciple. I’m excommunicating you, disciple.”
“Don’t be so quick to excommunicate me.”
I don’t know why the master and disciple thing doesn’t feel right. It’s not a very realistic relationship for a student. It would have been better if we had remained as senpai and kouhai.
But for now, I’m going to follow Amamori’s plan.
Well, as of now, this is the only place that accepts me, right? I don’t think I’ll fit in with the class anyway.
That’s right. My goal is to maintain the status quo. I’m going to stay in front of the rooftop and maintain the status quo.
“So, Aoki-kun, today after school at 5:00 p.m., I’m going to give you a serious ‘trial’. I have some preparations to make, so please don’t come to the rooftop during lunchtime!”
“Oh, okay. I’ll see you after school.”
I agreed as usual, but I don’t know what the ‘trial’ is.
I don’t know, but I had a bad feeling about it.
[TLN: Thank you Mel for editing! Hey guys, chess tournament signup in discord, winner can choose series for bonus chapters, though how many would depend on the length of the chapter. Join to pick Dead’s series
please don’t pick me. OH yeah, point out errors if you see it I’ll correct them, luv you guys.]