Ordinary Days Of Taking Shelter From the Rain With A Gatekeeper Girl - Chapter 3 Amamori-senpai's TRIAL (Priceless)
- Ordinary Days Of Taking Shelter From the Rain With A Gatekeeper Girl
- Chapter 3 Amamori-senpai's TRIAL (Priceless)
I leaned against the wall in the hallway, observing what was going on in the classroom.
The army of spinning bowls was marching at the speed of a slug; the cleaning crew were all talking. Even though I was watching closely, the cleaning wasn’t going very well.
“Makise, I’m running a little late. Can you please hurry up and finish it?”
A girl put her hand on the sliding door and yelled a complaint from the side of the hallway.
Makise, on the other hand, responded with “my bad, my bad” and moved his broom fittingly for a comedian.
A lot of laughter; a page from my youth. I looked at it emotionlessly.
Students who wanted to turn the classroom into a hangout were scattered all over the hallway, waiting for the cleaning to be finished. I was one of them.
Oh well, you know? Of course, I don’t have friends like these guys who sit at their desks with their pastry bags flung open and chatting.
I was so free that I could see that the cleaning wasn’t progressing much.
I couldn’t leave the school building until 5:00 p.m., when Amamori was supposed to give me the “trial.” Though normally, I can kill time by wandering around the city.
But still, that gatekeeper told me not to come to the rooftop except during lunchtime, but what kind of a change of heart is that—
—I suddenly realized. There were several probing eyes on the side of my head.
As I moved my head, my eyes met those of the boys in my class. I could faintly hear them muttering, “oh no…” They might have been playing a guessing game on why I’m waiting in the hallway. Huh, I see. It was an era of many detectives (myself included).
Well… whatever. I decided to leave the front of the classroom. I can’t get used to being observed like a rare animal.
I knew I couldn’t make a place for myself in the classroom. No matter how impactful the attempt, it was meaningless. Today, I’ll go to the library, which I don’t usually go to.
My steps naturally quickened. Passing the trio of girls in front of me, I continued on my way.
An unusual voice called out to me. I turned around and saw the class president there.
It was Kusano Marika. This was the second time that I’ve come into contact with her today, including when she skipped gym class.
“…What? What do you want from me?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t really have anything to do, but I accidentally called you. Ahaha.”
Kusano put her right hand on the back of her head with a troubled smile on her face. It was a deliberate reaction laced with friendliness. One of the girls with her (I think it was Yamadera) looked at me suspiciously for a moment.
“Hmm. I didn’t know Marika was also friends with Aoki…”
“Ah. Yeah, well, just a little bit. There’s been a bit of a mix-up, hasn’t there?”
Kusano continued to smile in a friendly way and asked for my consent. There was nothing wrong with that, but it was not the same as desperately denying it. It was a pain in the ass. I kept my mouth shut.
“I-Is that so…eh, heh…”
One of Kusano’s companions muttered. I think her name is Kawabashi. The girl who saw my face this morning and lowered the volume of her chatter. She was looking at me from a position one step back.
She was scared like a small animal in front of a ferocious beast. That kind of reaction is rather hurtful.
“Hah… what is it, what’s your name again? It’s Kawabashi, right?”
“Eh, ehhh!? A-ahh, umm! Y-yes, I’m Kawabashi sir…”
Kawabashi bowed deeply, as if she were the proprietress of an inn.
“Ah, yes. Kawabashi-san. Can you stop being so openly scared like that? I feel like my glass heart is about to break.”
“Huh? Oh yes, I’ll stop, I’m done, I’m sorry! I’m really sorry!!”
Kawahashi shook her head in an exaggerated manner, almost as if she were headbanging. No, you’re not stopping at all, are you?
Then I got a reproachful look from the other girl (Yamadera’s side). Ehh, I’m really starting to look like the bad guy here. Don’t be a jerk, Kawabashi.
I was about to say something, but then I realized that my presence was disturbing the people around me.
The group that had to stand still in the middle of the corridor was turning into a mayhem obstacle. Because of me.
“Whatever… it’s fine. It’s nothing.”
Giving up, I decided to flee the scene—
“W-wait, wait! Hey, Aoki-kun. I was wondering, do you have a few minutes to spare?”
—I thought to myself, “What is it?” and I accidentally turned around and stopped.
“Ah, I’m sorry. Thanks for stopping. Umm, so. We’re going to a diner now. I was wondering if you’d like to join us.”
Kusano was standing stiff, and looking up at me, waiting for my response.
Hearing such an airheaded — or unwilling — invitation, Yamadera next to Kusano finally frowned, not bothering to hide it.
“Huh? Marika, seriously. Eh, Aoki… you are going to ask him too? Are you serious about that?”
That exasperated response was laced with a strong nuance of “no way.”
I was suspicious, too. What was the purpose of trying to get involved with me, even if she was frowned upon by her friends? She was closing the distance like a beginner. It was creepy.
“I’m serious. I think it’s a good opportunity. Kawabashi-chan and the others should know that Aoki-kun is surprisingly easy to talk to and is a good person.”
“No… way right? A good person… really?”
I was at a loss for an answer.
If I was able to project such an image, I would have fit in with the class by now.
“I don’t know. Speaking of which, I don’t have time for this. I have plans to do something with my senpai.”
With a snap of my wrist, I declined. The unspecified trial that I didn’t want to go through gave me an excuse to turn down a more unwilling invitation. Thank you, Master!
“…Heh. Senpai, who?”
“Who? I don’t know how to explain it, but she’s kind of weird. A confident, narcissistic woman.”
“S-so it’s a girl?”
“Well, yeah. I don’t know what’s going to happen if I cancel my appointment with her, so I’ll decline your invitation to the diner. So long.”
“Ah, that! Is that person the reason why Aoki-kun has been eating lunch outside the class lately?”
I ignored the soft question from behind me. I didn’t feel the need to answer. I was scared. What’s the purpose of her gathering information, anyway?
I have no idea why Kusano was trying to close the distance between us. I don’t have a clue.
Like, say, she had met me before… something like that? And now she has remembered, and she began approaching me—
No, I don’t think so. If I knew a girl as pretty as her, I would definitely remember. And Kusano is an easy name to remember.
I don’t care about them. I don’t need to think about my classmates from now on.
I’ll just—focus on the future in front of the rooftop.
The time is now 16:48. I’ve been immersed in a biography of a bug lover named Fabre, and have succeeded in killing a lot of time.
[ED: 16:48 is 4:48 PM for anyone unaware of military time]
I left the quiet library and started to move to the front of the roof. I took the east stairs of the school building from the second floor to the third floor, and went straight to the front of the roof via the landing.
The person I was looking for was there as usual. I felt a little nervous as I remembered the head stroking earlier, but I called out to her as if it were nothing.
“Hey, Paisen, it’s been a while… are you playing games again? You’re going to make your eyes worse if you play in the dark like this.”
The amount of light in front of the rooftop in the evening was less than in the daytime. The rain on the other side of the doorway, though slower than at its peak, was not about to stop. Through the windows of the aluminum door, the tilted sunset was not shining through.
Only Amamori’s retro video game console was dimly lit with artificial colors. Country-style game music could be heard in the background. It was a rather unusual scene in the school.
“Huh. Thanks for the advice. Don’t worry, my eyesight is already on the decline.”
She took one look at me, and then quickly returned her gaze to the square screen.
“It’s really not safe, but… um, is that game so interesting that you have to sacrifice your eyesight to play it? What are you doing in the game?”
“It’s a ported version of Dorkie Kong 3”
[TLN: Donkey Kong.]
“Huh. I don’t know that game. Is it interesting?”
“Oh, are you interested? Yes, it’s a classic and it’s fun, I’ve been playing it a lot. I often run an Any% RTA for Do-It-Yourself 3, you know? It was hard to succeed in this game with newly discovered techniques, and the 1/60th of a second discrepancy makes me cry. I’ve been up all night practicing yesterday…why does it matter Aoki-kun!!”
[ED: Any% RTA refers to a specific category when speedrunning a game.]
“Whoa!? D-don’t scare me. Hey, you just scared the shit out of me!”
It was a bad day for my heart (Some people thought I was just a scaredy-cat).
“Good grief… it’s a bad trait of yours to try to get into irrelevant chatter like that.”
“You’re the one who suddenly started talking nonsense, aren’t you?”
“Don’t hit me with a valid argument, disciple. I’ll get right to the point, disciple. I’ll explain the strategy for the ‘trial’. Read this, disciple.”
She was a master who was quick to blame me and had a strange accent. Before we start with the strategy, why don’t you explain the ‘trial’ first? Well, I’ve gotten used to this randomness, I don’t care anymore, but…
I took the folded piece of paper bluntly. But the contents are impossible to decipher in this closed-in darkness. I take out my phone and shine the light on the crumpled loose-leaf. On it, in crumpled letters, read the following.
“〜☆ Aoki’s Character Change Strategy!”
NO. 1: First of all, Aoki-kun shows off his harmlessness like a cute character. (Call yourself ‘Uchi-nee”, makes a charming voice that imitates a cat’s, sheds pearly tears when you gets sad, sometimes adds “poyo” to the end of your words, talks about your love for marshmallows, calls all the boys “onii-chan” and all the girls “onee-chan,” etc.)
NO. 2: Let the people in your class say that there is a character “gap difference” in you. If they say that, then victory is at hand! Keep it up.
NO. 3: The class mascot, Aoki-kun, is born in the midst of continuing to be a loose and cute character. This will help you become familiar with the class. YEAH! Foooo!
※ The following actions will be subject to point deduction. Please keep this in mind.
“Make a scary face, use foul language, deep voice, or use surprise attacks and other forms of violence against respected senpai.”
※ With these points in mind, today’s ‘trial’ will have you fighting against enemy characters☆
What’s this weird document… (appalling)
“Um, Paisen. I don’t know what’s going on, but 90% of this is a joke.”
I didn’t want to get into specifics because there were too many things to tweak.
“You’re a rude kouhai again… 100% of it is free love from your great senpai, you know? I took time out of my lunch break to think about it seriously.”
With a blank expression on her face, she dexterously made a heart symbol with the index and middle fingers of both hands.
Prepared during your lunch break, you thought of this? This was ridiculous as expected. I put my hand knife in vertically and smashed my senpai’s love in half. Then she gave me a sullen look.
“Mmm, rebellious. Well, let me put it bluntly. How do you think a newcomer would react to the intimidating attitude of a guy who is estimated to be over six feet tall?”
“Ah? How… I wonder?”
“We avoid them. We build walls before we get to know each other. Walls are built upon on a daily basis, aren’t they? I would have built it too if Aoki-kun didn’t look like he was about to die the first time I saw him.”
Amamori created an invisible wall like a mime. A silent knock.
Well… sounded right. There were a number of things that came to my mind. If anything, I just realized this when I had an exchange with the overly frightened Kawabashi just now.
“That’s why. It’s because human society tends to be decided by first impressions! This is the kind of drastic character reform we need, my disciple!”
“No… but you know, I’m pretty sure I can’t go down the cute character route…”
Amamori was dripping with a positive aura, but I refused with full-on negativity. Her determination to change direction was amazing. She was turning too much. It was 100 percent going to be an accident.
“What about this ‘shedding pearly tears’ thing? Was the Aoki-kun you imagined a mermaid? This kind of thing doesn’t work unless you’re a woman with a fish on the bottom half of her body. Ahhh?”
“Ugh. Well, I did get a little carried away with the brushwork in No. 1, but…”
“At least you were self aware.”
“No, but it’s okay. This is fine as a plan. Let’s take it easy!”
“Ehhh… are you sure you’re not trying to be funny or something? It’s not a joke, is it?”
“Of course not. Let’s aim for a personality gay from the scary appearance. It’s definitely the way to go. The gap is definitely cute. Trust my senses and go, go, go!”
She nodded with a seriously rotten look on her face. I looked at the piece of paper in my hand one more time. But no matter how many times I read it, a monster document remained a monster document. Unbelievable.
“I mean, come on. What is this ‘battle with enemy characters’ at the end? Is this for real? Am I going to be forced to fight others while becoming a cute character? Are you going to hold a fucking disgusting fight club?”
Amamori’s plan, or whatever it was, was generally written with a joking mood, but the last line was the only one that stood out.
Enemy characters and fighting — both game-like, but words that are not suitable for everyday use. The smell of struggle. The trauma of my junior high school days flickered a little.
“No, it’s not going to be a fist to fist anachronism. I’m so pacifist that I’m a future candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, you know?”
[ED: Anachronism means being from a different time period.]
It seems my worries were completely unfounded. I guess so. She’s not really a bad person.
“So, what’s the battle?”
“Yeah. And let’s talk about battle! First of all, Aoki has just changed jobs to a loose-fitting character. Naturally, your level has been reset to 1, right?”
“Eh, don’t assume I’m changing jobs. I haven’t. I don’t even plan on running to Halloween in the future.”
“That is, why. In today’s ‘trial’, we’re going to face the soon-to-arrive enemy characters with our cute characters to gain experience in interpersonal skills.”
Don’t ignore me. Also, don’t make reckless requests like it’s a game.
“Listen to me. First of all, who is the enemy character? I’ve got a lot of questions in my head. I mean, if you’re playing a creepy character against someone you’ve never met before—”
Before I could finish my complaint, I felt someone coming up the stairs. I kept my mouth shut and listened.
Tap, tap, tap, the sound of light footsteps approaching with a bouncy rhythm. I wondered if the enemy character… had arrived. A sense of tension began to well up in my heart.
I couldn’t help but look behind me and saw the door that was still locked. Oh, I see. There was nowhere else to go in this dead end.
The tension was gradually building. Eventually, a woman landed on the landing below me.
Even when I’m looking down at her, I could tell she was taller than average, and her short skirt and sleepy expression were typical of the girls in our school.
“Aye… the ‘acting student council’ has arrived. Ama-senpai, this is for your own good… huh?”
As she walked up the stairs, she looked up at me with a surprised look on her face and our gazes collided. The two eyes that had been languidly looking at each other opened wide.
The model-like beauty looked at me from top to bottom, then compared with Amamori’s. Then she made a pained expression, like a child who has just had powdered medicine put on her tongue.
“Wow, Ama-senpai has finally brought in a stranger! The front of the rooftop has become a place to meet and snatch… You know that impure s*xual intercourse in the evening is not good?”
“N-n-n-no, that’s not it! It’s neither impure nor amorous, Hatoda-chan!”
“Hmmm. But it’s just a man and a woman alone in a dark place like this, isn’t it?”
“No! Your brain is just dyed pink.”
“Ah, I’m serious. Yeah, but? It was the first time I saw Ama-senapi talking to a man other than the president. I can’t help but want to tease you.”
The woman called Hatoda walked up the stairs with a vile smile on her face.
I wonder if this was part of the ‘trial’ that Amamori was talking about — the enemy character? In fact, Amamori is looking at her with a hostile, steely gaze.
“Anyway, Ama-senpai, it’s time to confiscate. I’m sorry, but this is a job I was asked to do by the top. Can you give me the usual one?”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, take it and leave, sir.”
Amamori took out the game console like a habit and presented it to Hatoda. She had the swagger of a common criminal. She doesn’t look like she’s given up.
“Aye-aye, thank you.”
Hatoda, who was in charge of policing the situation, didn’t feel like taking credit for it. It was more of a hand-over-flow operation, like a lineman.
Well, this girl called herself the ‘acting student council’ a while ago. I wonder what kind of relationship they have.
“Thank you for your work~ Mmm, on that account? Ama-senpai, who is this gentleman who looks like he’s from a Yankee manga~?”
Hatoda, who had put away the game console without being moved, pointed at me as I remained silent. Amamori clapped her hands and made a beautiful sound (and her eyes sparkled).
“I’m glad you asked! That was the aim of today. Yes, yes, let me introduce you to Hatoda-chan. This is Aoki Teru-chan, a freshman.”
“Aoki Teru-chan-san. We’re the same age, aren’t we? It’s nice to meet you, I’m Hatoda Mirai desu.”
She greeted me light-heartedly, so I stuck my chin out like a pigeon in the park and bailed. Then Amamori elbowed me in the face. No corporal punishment, no corporal punishment.
“Ah, well, she’s a little nervous right now because she’s meeting someone for the first time, so her attitude is a little bad…despite her scary appearance, inside she’s a surprisingly cute character!”
“Is that so? Eh, no way, I can’t see it at all. Ama-senpai, are you serious~?”
“I’m serious, really, really, serious. The gap between the two is something that I never expected. Come on, Aoki-kun, say hello☆”
The master gave me a bad wink that made both my eyes close.
“Now’s the time. Overcome!” That’s what Amamori wanted to say, but it was impossible. It doesn’t matter how much you set up the place, you can’t do what you can’t do.
I’ll just declare my surrender. I wiggled my index finger at the young face. Signaling her to bring her face a little closer.
Amamori leaned closer to my ear with a look of disapproval, as if she had noticed my intentions. I didn’t want Hatoda, who was standing beside me, to overhear what I was saying. I bent at the waist and gave her an earful of breath.
“…Can I just go…”
Her slim body shook back.
“Y-you can’t do that…that kind of surprise attack is a foul! Five hundred million demerit points, baka, baka disciple! Reflect on this!”
She bit her lower lip and covered one ear with her palm.
The subtle expression on her face, her brows furrowed. Her cheeks flushed and she looked at me as if I’m a traitor.
I didn’t mean to take you by surprise or anything. Though your reaction almost made me take a HUGE shit.
“Oh. I didn’t know that Ama-senpai is a person whose ears are s*xually sensitive. Wow, so that’s soft s*x now? Boyfriend-san, boyfriend-san, if you want to make out, please go to the love hotel~”
The acting student council, or whatever she was, warned me while laughing. Ahh… I see. This senpai has a sensitive ear. If so, then it made sense why she reacted the way she did earlier.
“No, I don’t! It’s non-sexual, and he’s not my boyfriend! Ah just move on, come on Aoki-kun, introduce yourself already!”
After denying everything, she pushed me back to face Hatoda Mirai.
The deadly look in her eyes contained a radical message: “you’ve gotten this far, so definitely play as a loose, cute character or I’ll kill you.” I think.
How much confidence do you have in your “Aoki’s Character Change Strategy”…Hatoda also has a somewhat expectant aura about me. There was no escape in front of this rooftop anymore.
…Fine I get it. I just have to be a loose, cute character, right?
I’m used to being asked to do crazy things by my seniors. I’ll be damned. The rest is up to me. Okay… let’s get it!
“M… my name is Aoki desu. My favorite food is fluffy marshmallows~. I want you to be my friend from now on~! I hope you can get along with me!”
Well done. I’ve successfully made the transition to a loose-cute character.
Then, no joke, this became so painful that I almost shed pearly tears, but I held it in with all my might.
Hatoda froze with her mouth hanging open (of course she did). Only the master, the ponytailed woman, was thrilled, “you’re even more adorable than I imagined…!” (Don’t be silly). Naturally, the air was quite dead (I’m sorry about that). I thought, “Well, that’s what’s going to happen…” and was ready for a nyan-nyan pose (don’t do that). Ah. Ahh. This stress was over half overwhelming. I don’t want to become a cat and quit being a human nyan. Nyannyaan. Nyan. I nyanow, I know.
A voice bursted through the air.
“Ahahaha! Ama-senpai, this person is a different vector from what I expected! You might want to call a yellow ambulance right now!”
Hatoda laughed while holding her stomach. I immediately regained my composure due to her unrestrained laughter.
“…Wait. That was a lie, a joke. It’s a catnip joke. It’s a dead joke that I’ll never do again, so erase it from your memory.”
I shoved the cat’s hand into my pocket and crisped up my facial muscles. Ah, that was close… I almost had my ego shattered and quit school and society…!
“…You’re gonna stop? Why? Ehhhhh, you were so cute…!”
Amamori said in a puzzled tone, not joking. No, it was not cute. Your senses are off. You should learn more by watching Kimari-chan.
“Well, there was nothing cute about it, fukuku, but it’s still funny even now. I don’t mind people who can fake this~!”
“Not like that. I’m not the one who came up with it. If it’s a compliment, please send it to Paisen.”
“I wasn’t really trying to make it funny. I was really aiming for a gap moe.”
“Oh, so it was Ama-senpai’s idea. I guess that makes sense. The person who can do that is also troubled though. Oh, that’s funny, really funny!”
Hatoda Mirai bent her tall back and chuckled.
Her smile was a calculated smile to make her look lovable, like some crying woman. She seemed to be truly amused by Amamori and I.
“Hmph… Hatoda-chan, if you’ve finished your work, you can go and report to the president. I’m going to think of the next ‘trial’, so it’s not good for you to stay here.”
“Hmm? Ama-senpaiii, what trials do you meannn?”
“It’s only between us. It’s top secret to everyone except me and Aoki-kun. Alright, good-bye.”
“Ehhhhh, you’re excluding me. Ama-senpai is cold to me again today… I’m so jealous of you.”
Hatoda gave me a look that seemed to contain jealousy. I guarded myself by averting my gaze with a huff.
“I guess I can’t help it, because of my position… Aiai. I’ll see you later, Ama-senpai! I’ll see you soon, Teru-chan!”
“Don’t call me with a chan, it’s too much of a freshly made trauma. I mean, you’ll almost never see me again.”
“Is that so~? Fufummm…”
Leaving behind an unintelligible chuckle, Hatoda walked down the stairs. As silence descended, I felt exhausted.
…At least, I’d like to hear at least a few words of appreciation for my labor.
I looked at my master, whose sensibilities were out of sync and heard button clicks. She had already started playing the same game, even though the console was supposed to have been taken away.
“Eh, what’s that, Paisen? You don’t happen to have a spare game console, do you?”
“Of course. It’s obvious to have a spare for when the first is confiscated.”
“It’s not obvious.”
I’ve probably touched on part of the reason why Hatoda’s confiscation was so routine.
“Aside from that. What are you waiting for, Aoki-kun? The ‘trial’ that I took the trouble to think of has been a complete failure since day one. A character change is only possible if you stick to it, you know. Your master is very disappointed, but…”
“Eh? Ah, yes, I’m sorry.”
She seemed to be seriously disappointed, so I bowed to her for the time being. That stupid plan would have failed no matter who tried it. Well, if you’re as good looking as she is, it might be different.
“It was probably too much to perform right away. The next ‘trial’ will be in the form of classroom lectures. That’s it for this time. Please leave, disciple. Boo boo, pii pii, go go go!”
“What kind of onomatopoeia is that?”
I wanted to just talk to her, not for the sake of this stupid ‘trial’. But, I’m not in a position to resist and was told to leave. Today, I’m going to take a trip to the city to kill some time.
“Well, I get it. I’m going home. I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ll be back at lunchtime.”
“Then… eh, yes. I’ll be waiting for you. Aoki-kun.”
The reply was in a surprisingly gentle tone. I listened and went down the stairs.
I wonder what time that gatekeeper, who doesn’t seem to be moving, is going to leave. I wonder.
One day after heavy rain. It’s lunchtime on a Thursday with annoying gray clouds hanging over the sky.
“Yahoo Teru-chan! Let’s go eat, let’s go eat. I’m starving to death!”
Hatoda Mirai came to my classroom with her lunch bag in her hand.
Why are you coming to me? I stopped my preparations to move to the front of the roof.
The tall, beautiful girl who was a rare guest attracted the attention of the entire classroom. Even though I’m just talking to her, I’m getting a lot of stares.
I got curious looks from all over the class. I’m sure they’re trying to figure out our relationship.
Bullshit guessing games are exchanged secretly in various places. Everyone was looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary. I headed for the exit without saying a word so as not to give away any unnecessary information.
“Hoo? That silent exit is a message to follow me? Hahaha, the masculinity that speaks with your back is old-fashioned, but it’s not sparkly~”
Don’t take this the wrong way. I wanted to turn around and glare at the tall woman, but that could wait. My priority was to get out. I don’t want to be in a space where I’m surrounded by probing eyes.
“Ah, umm. Aoki-kun. Are you going somewhere with Hatoda-san?”
But then came the aggressive detective who blocked my path.
It was Kusano Marika again. For some reason, she was blocking my path as I made my way to the exit. She was looking up at me with a soft smile on her face.
I could tell her only one thing. I’m sure Kusano, who knows how to get around, understands that if she talks too much, she’’ll look bad. So why is she blocking my way?
How could I know? I couldn’t understand what Kusano was doing these days.
“I-I’m sorry? But, Aoki-kun, you’ve never acted like that before…”
“Mmm~? That’s the way I feel. Haha, this one looks interesting too.”
Hatoda’s voice was somewhat distant. Her sharp gaze piercing me from behind grew more intense. The sensation of increasing mental load. In addition to the ringing in my ears, I felt a fluffy dizziness.
“Yeah, so, um… You know. What kind of relationship do Hatoda-san and Aoki-kun have?”
“Hmm, I wonder what it is. But we seem to be a good match, don’t we~?”
“I don’t know about that…”
When the smiling Hatoda put a hand on my shoulder, I brushed it away with a hint of rejection. Irritation at the source of the conspicuousness is, and it was showing up through my action.
Then someone in the crowd let out a low, “isn’t that awful?” The voice belonged to Nakanishi, a popular boy in the class, who was on the tennis team.
I want to evacuate to the front of the roof right away. This place, this classroom—I have to leave now.
I pushed my way through the gap between Kusano and the door and left the noisy classroom.
As I passed her, Kusano whispered to me, “can we talk sometime?” but I ignored it. I don’t have time for that right now.
I walked quickly away from the classroom. Once I was free from the violence of the stares, I felt a sense of peace return to my heart. I exhaled the carbon dioxide that had accumulated in my body and took a deep breath. I felt uncomfortable.
“Heya, I can’t let Teru-chan out of my sight~ I can’t believe you’re even sprinkling powder on a girl like her, even though you have Ama-senpai already~”
…I’d have a much easier time if this tall, nimble woman wasn’t chasing me.
“I didn’t put any flour, cheese or mayonnaise on it. Hatoda, why did you come?”
“Hmm? Because he was at the same level as Ama-senpai and looked like an interesting new face~? I checked your class in the shoe locker area yesterday, and I came here just after the bell rang!”
Don’t just come to see me. Don’t start disturbing my peace of mind for no good reason.
“What will you do if there are some strange rumors starting in the class…”
A rising question. Finally, I stopped and turned my body to face Hatoda behind me. I had no choice but to explain my irritation—
“Ah, that’s Hatoda-chan!”
Just as I was about to do so, a loud blond guy appeared from the crowd on their way to the cafeteria. What the heck is this “I caught an empty can with my boots” type of chain reaction?
“Oh hey~, I haven’t seen you since you came to our club in May.”
“Hello, Mimura-senpai, long time no see! Are you going to eat now?”
Hatoda looked at the blond boy behind her. I followed suit and looked behind her. A mixed group of boys and girls, also with brightly colored hair, were waiting for Mimura who broke away.
“Yes, lunch. Why don’t you join us, Hatoda-chan? You know, you said before that you wanted to expand your connections. How about joining us as a guest…?”
The blonde guy seemed to think that the big immobile guy (me, in other words) was with Hatoda. He made a face like, “This guy’s with you?” No, I’m not with her, and I wouldn’t go even if you paid me. That’s rude. When I gave him a glare, the blond man’s tension waned somewhat.
“Ah… I’m sorry. Today is a bad day for this. I’ll see you later?”
“Ara, that’s too bad. Well, maybe next time. I was going to introduce you to Teru-chan too.”
I glared at Hatoda with the intention of saying, “don’t you ever see me again, because Teru-chan died yesterday after school,’ but it didn’t work. In fact, she laughed at me and slapped me on the back. It was an unnecessary body touch. The blonde-haired man smiled wryly as he was taken back in response.
“Ha, haha… it’s good to expand your network, but you should do so in moderation.”
With a bitter smile, the boy returned to his original circle. His friends teased him, but they left in harmony.
“That rude senpai… what kind of relationship do you have with him?”
I asked curiously. There probably wasn’t much difference between the detectives in the classroom and me.
“Well, I believe we met when I was just starting school and I was looking for someone interesting, but… I don’t really get along with him. He’s not a bad person, but~”
“Huh. You said you can’t get along with him, but aren’t you getting along with him now?”
“Yaya, if you’d like to introduce me to some new faces, I’ll bring Teru-chan with me. Maybe I’ll get to know someone as interesting as Ama-senpai again!”
Hatoda Mirai’s image was becoming clearer to me.
This is a girl who could expand her circle in any way she likes.
Unlike me, she probably didn’t care about all the rumors about her going to meet the opposite sex in other classes. I was genuinely envious of her freedom.
“Then then, now it’s time for a question from me! Teru-chan~, how did you get along with the unassailable Ama-senpai?”
“No, we’re not getting along… I’m treated like a bother.”
“Eh~, no way. It’s no use for you to fool me, I’m sure I’m seeing things right! It should be… ah-eh? Is that actually the truth?”
I don’t have anywhere else to go, so I’m just going through the motions, being treated like a nuisance.
“Why don’t you just ask the person in question, ‘how can I get along with you?’”
“That’s a tough joke, Teru-chan. Amea-senpai doesn’t like me, so it’s impossible~”
“Huh. She doesn’t like you? It didn’t look that way yesterday.”
“No matter how many times I invited her to hang out, she never seemed interested. If she’s in a bad mood, I’m sometimes ignored~ …Well, she is a person with a high degree of difficulty who tells you ‘you’re too noisy’ from the very first meeting~”
The impression of Amamori from the perspective of others, which I didn’t know.
“Ah, but the more I went, the more I talked, it was not fortuitous that I found Senpai so interesting. And as a condition of my recommendation for the incoming student council, I’ve been asked by the student council to confiscate senpai’s games, you know? It’s a chain reaction, because of that, Ama-senpai’s favorability is dropping every day! That’s a real tearjerker, isn’t it? All of my effort was a waste…”
After miscellaneous talk, Hatoda imitated crying by placing both hands on her eyes—I just ignored her. Part of what she said caught me off guard.
Our student council president is asking her to confiscate Amamori’s game console? What does that mean?
In my experience, violations of school rules of that kind should have been dealt with by the life guidance teacher.
By the way, the name of the student body president was mentioned yesterday. I skipped the entrance ceremony, so I didn’t see him, but I’ve heard (eavesdropped, of course) that he has a reputation for being a good worker, brilliant, and good-looking.
Even the most uninformed person like me knew about this famous person. A person like that is asking for the confiscation of a game console from one of his underclassmen…?
“Hey Teru-chan, where are you headed? The cafeteria is on the other side.”
With a question mark on her face, Hatoda, who had stopped crying, also nodded her head as she tugged on my uniform sleeve. Well, I don’t care about the student council president. I don’t think I’ll ever see him anyway.
“Where… of course the rooftop. I have a prior engagement with Amamori-senpai first.”
“I was going to ask you how to get along with her, and you were heading to her hometown!? Tell me, Teru-chan, you’re just doing it on the spot!”
“No, I didn’t have time to tell you… what are you going to do? I heard paisen doesn’t like you, but you’re following me.”
“W-what should I do? Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever visited her during her lunch break. Would it make a good impression if I shifted the time? I might be able to make a good impression. Hmm, I’ll give it a try!”
She seemed to have made up her mind. Hatoda clenched both fists. She had the guts and courage to go to the person who hated her. She’s not the type of girl I like, but I have to admit I’m a bit impressed.
At the same time, I thought to myself, that senpai has a good reputation.
I came here to the front of the rooftop during lunch break.
“…Late. You’re late, Aoki-kun.”
Amamori, unusually, was sitting on the second step from the top of the stairs. She was sitting like a demon sitting on a toilet bowl, looking extremely unhappy.
“Hatoda-chan came with you today… Is yesterday’s enemy today’s friend? Is she the protagonist of a sports anime…”
Amamori, who seemed to have already finished her bread ear, looked down at us and let out a low voice. Her expression was as stale as ever, but I could tell she was angry. I wonder if she had a tardiness system here.
“I’m sorry for being late. Also, it’s not like our friendship grew out of a fierce battle. This girl is a stranger, no friendship. She just followed me for some reason.”
“Hello! I’m a stranger, I haven’t seen Ama-senpai since yesterday~!”
“…Hello, Hatoda-chan. You’re not welcome here, so go.”
“I’m already told to leave!?”
The attitude of the ruler in front of the rooftop was clearly more curt than after school yesterday. Hatoda, who must have sensed the subtlety of the situation, took a turn and showed a troubled smile.
“Tahaha-. Well, I knew that I wouldn’t be welcomed. Is Ama-senpai the type who wouldn’t want to have lunch with me?”
“…No, that’s… strictly speaking, not impossible, but…”
Amamori clammed up. I wonder if this prideful person has any thoughts about eating lunch with her junior who is in charge of confiscating her game.
“A-anyway. Cough. This place is already over its capacity. I’m only allowing Aoki-kun, who has his own reasons, to exist here with a generous heart. There is no room for Hatoda-chan!”
“Is that so…”
After hearing the ruler of the rooftop, Hatoda shrugged. She took one look at me with her glassy eyes, then lowered her eyes and made a thoughtful face.
The air was beginning to feel faintly weird. I couldn’t interrupt. It was vomitlike unpleasant.
Eventually, Hatoda let out a thin, huffing breath, and let out an even brighter voice.
“Aiai, it’s Okaydesu. I’ll leave with tears in my eyes. Besides, if I interfere with Ama-senpai, she’ll get even more angry than before~”
“Um… Hatoda-chan. If you are talking about that kind of meaning, I told you it’s not it.”
“That’s a serious tone. Sorry! I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I overdid messing with the theory of the girl I like. Well, then, Ama-senpai. I’ll see you on patrol duty!”
“Please do not stop in front of the rooftop. No, thank you.”
“Well, I’ve been asked to do something, so I’ll go. I’m a rather serious person, so… hehehe… see you later!”
Hatoda, who was not accepted by Amamori, walked away with a smile on her face. She had a strong habit of barging in, but was strangely refreshing when she left.
“Paisen… You don’t have to be so cruel to Hatoda…”
I couldn’t bear to look at it and made a suggestion, because I think Hatoda and I are similar in some way.
“She’s too noisy. I’ve strictly forbidden her.”
“Aoki-kun. Did you hear what I just said? This place is already overcrowded. We can’t have any more people trying to get in. Besides, when she tries to confiscate my game console, Hatoda-chan can only be an enemy character. Do you understand?”
“Well, I see your point…”
Hatoda is an enemy character. This may be true in terms of the story. But it doesn’t feel right to me.
What a pain in the ass. I scratched my neck and walked up the stairs, trying to calm down for the moment.
“Mu… wait, Aoki-kun, I don’t want you to get close to me right now because of the complexity in my mind.”
“Ah? What’s on your mind?”
I was in a daze and couldn’t hear her, but she moved faster than me. Amamori hurriedly stood up from the center of the stairs she had been using as a chair.
And she lost her balance, her body swayed…
The outstretched palm of Amamori’s hand inadvertently failed to grasp the handrail.
The person who was right there will fall. My body senses — the world slowed down. My limbs were moving before my head could even think of the danger.
I stretched out my right arm as hard as I could to hold the floating body in my arms. With my other arm, I grabbed the handrail tightly and prepared for the impact. The impact was immediate. The girl’s bony body was placed on my chest. Kuu, I can’t stand it—not even close!
I managed to prevent the accident from occurring by using my legs and feet, which I had developed through my nightly wandering sessions.
I-I’m glad I was able to react quickly to the situation… I haven’t played basketball properly in a long time, but I think I could have used the instantaneous power I had back then.
“Hey, Paisen, are you okay? You didn’t hurt yourself or twist your ankle or something!?”
“I… I’m not injured. Scary, that was scary…”
Amamori was trembling in my arms. The realization that she had almost had an accident must have come to her now.
One wrong move and it would have been a major accident in the midst of everyday life. Just the thought of that possibility sent a cold sweat down my spine.
“Uh, ah… my bad, seriously… this is because I approached you isn’t it?”
“I-it’s not! This was because I overreacted, or rather, it’s not… Aoki’s fault, but… I’m sorry. I’m going.”
Amamori, away from the protective barrier of me, wobbled to the front of the rooftop door. She sat down on the ground with her back to me.
Even though her face was lightly pigmented, it looked pale and white as if it had been immersed in a pool for a long time. Amamori was breathing out in a ragged exhalation, punctuated by a few breaths. She put her hand on her chest to check her own heartbeat.
“You look sick. So it’s not the injury but the heart.
“No, it’s all right… Aoki-kun, today, I can’t… think of any more ‘trials’ or anything right now… I’m a little, I just can’t…”
She felt so out of place. The confident expression on her face, and the dignity of a ruler who can say anything, have all disappeared into the distance. I was perplexed by her weak appearance.
“If it’s too much for you, let’s go to the infirmary. I’m more than happy to tag along.”
“It’s okay. I’ll be fine… I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ll be mentally prepared by then, so today, I’ll just…”
Please go away. She wasn’t even able to give such an order properly.
“… All right. See you tomorrow.”
I decided to walk away from the rooftop. I decided to respect senpai’s wishes.
So this was a temporary retreat. It was not an escape like usual.
I saw Amamori’s head move slowly, and I walked down the stairs.
I skipped lunch that day. During the rest of the break, I patrolled the school for no reason.
It was the usual pattern. No matter how hard I looked for a place to stay, a place to rest, I couldn’t find it.
Nothing was going well.