This story begins during the chapter "Detour Ahead" in Act 1 when Shizune, Misha and Hisao have just sat down and received their orders at the Shanghai.
Sometimes you're the hammer, sometimes you're the nail
"Hicchan, have you thought about joining the student council?" The pink haired girl across the table from me asks. She looks like she already knows the answer even before asking.
All I can muster up is a surprised "Huh?", the question taking me off guard.The short haired student council president begins signing immediately with a dull expression on her face. Her slightly squinting eyes let me know that my blunder didn't go unnoticed.
"Don't talk with your mouth full, Hicchan..." Misha says, translating for Shizune.
After washing the sandwich down with the help of the fresh cup of coffee sitting in front of me, I clear my throat to respond.
"You said you understood it was too early to expect me to make a decision this quickly! That was like three hour ag-". My words get caught in my throat as I begin coughing violently into the sleeve of my uniform.
Guess I didn't clear my throat as well as I thought I did.
It takes a minute, but I'm finally able to catch my bearings and keep myself from coughing. "Are you alright, Hicchan? I'm not going to have to give you the heimlich maneuver, am I? Wahaha~!" Mishas voice echos out through the booth we all sit in as she let's loose into a fit of laughter. I see Shizune raising a hand to her tiny lips, trying to catch a few small giggles as they escape.
I'm glad someone is enjoying this.
I regain my composure, blood already rushed to my face in embarrassment. "I'm fine," I force out of my tight throat, taking another sip of coffee before straightening out my uniform and trying to retain what dignity I have left.
I look around the homely little cafe, trying to distract myself from the thought of almost choking to death on a turkey sandwich.
It's pretty empty in here today, I wonder if it's always this slow. The way Yuuko jumped to our aid when we first came in would suggest that it is, but then again, she does seem to take her job pretty seriously.
The two student council members seem to be having their own conversation on the other side of the table, not really paying me much mind.
I continue to scan all the empty seats in the cafe when I notice that one table on the other side of the room is surprisingly occupied.
How did I miss that?
Two girls sit at the far table facing one another, chatting back and forth while a newspaper lies in between them.
The uniforms they wear imply that they're students at Yamaku. Actually, I'm pretty sure I recognize them now.
They're the two girls that sit in the far left corner of my class, right next to each other.
One of the girls has her back to me, facing the girl across the table from her. Her straight sand-colored hair barely touches her shoulders. She must be really into the conversation, her hands are flailing about as I catch small tones of her playful voice echoing through the tea house.
The other girl is listening intently, her chin braced against her hands as she leans over the table trying to absorb all of the words the girl across from her is throwing out.
Short layers of loosely curled auburn hair are lightly resting on her slumped shoulders.
"Hey," I announce quietly, breaking up the student council meeting going on across from me.
"Who are those girls over there?" Slightly nodding my head towards the other side of the room. "They look familiar, aren't they in our class?"
Shizune sits her hands in her lap, obviously annoyed by the fact that I interrupted her conversation.
"Hmm.. Oh! that's Natsume and Naomi. They run the Newspaper club at Yamaku," Misha says in an uncharacteristically quiet voice. "They meet here a lot too when they have Newspaper business to talk about. Wahaha~!" She pauses for breath. "Naomi is the one with light hair and Natsume is the one with t-"
Her voice cuts off abruptly when Shizune gives her a light jab in the ribs before quickly signing something to her.
Misha turns her attention back to me and continues where she left off, only in a more whispered voice now. "Natsume is the one with two different colored eyes and darker hair." She let's out a muffled giggle, probably laughing at the thought of having to be quiet.
"Huh, two different colored eyes?" I ask quietly, leaning in.
My expectant gaze is only met with a quick nod and smile from the duo in front of me. I take the hint to not push the subject any further and lean back into my seat as the two of them begin signing back and forth, apparently picking back up on their conversation that I had interrupted. I was expecting some kind of joke at my expense from the two of them, but all I received was a vague answer to my question. That doesn't sit right with me for some reason.
I finish off what's left of my now lukewarm coffee and begin scanning the room again.
My eyes are soon drawn back to the girls across the room.
I try my best not to stare, but people-watching was always a pretty fun hobby of mine when I used to walk the city streets while my parents were working.
Their conversation seems to have died down a little, as the light haired girl..Naomi, has her hands resting on the edge of the table in front of her now. My eyes drift to the other side of their table as I study Natsume.
The sleeves of her blouse are pulled up to her elbows, and the bow at her collarbone is loosened slightly with the top button undone. It's a good look for her.
She seems to have a similar body type to Shizune, but probably a few inches shorter and a more relaxed posture, it's hard to tell when someone is sitting down though. My eyes trace her cheek and onto her small nose which is holding up a small pair of reading glasses. She's very cute.
Something instantly grabs my attention from her nose; It's her eyes.
Her left eye is a light brown color, but her right eye is a smooth, almost transparent, emerald color. It's...well, beautiful, really.
I catch my self starting to stare and snap back into reali-
My gaze is met by her own as our eyes connect from across the room. I feel blood rushing to my face instantly as I snap my head away as if I was just punched in the jaw by an invisible boxer. The girls in front of me have quit signing and are looking at me as though I just grew another head.
"Why is your face so red, Hicchan~?" Misha taunts, "You could always take a picture, it would last longer! Wahaha~!"
She's not loud enough for anyone but us to hear, but it's still enough to make my head hurt a little from the sudden volume increase.
Yep, I think I'm done with this little lunch date.
The girls must be thinking the same thing, as they start to shuffle around, sliding out of the booth they're in. Shizune is the first to stand up, quickly making her way to the front of the tea house. Misha follows quickly behind, waving for me to follow.
I slide my way out of the booth and slowly stand up, carefully avoiding any glances that I may throw towards the Newspaper club. I think I've done enough to embarrass myself for one day.
Shizune immediately pays for the lunch, which I do really appreciate. Despite the two of them taking pleasure in my anguish so often, they really have helped me to feel like I may not be so alone in this school.
They're not much different than any other group of friends, really. Sure, they have to sign everything they want to say to one another, but it really doesn't slow their conversation down any. I almost feel guilty, thinking about them like that. As if I should be expecting them to be different because of a condition that they can't control.
Maybe I could learn something from them in that sense. My condition doesn't have to define who I am, it's just something I need to adju-
"Are you still there Hicchan~?" Misha questions at me.
"Are you still thinking about those girls in there? We can go back in and introduce you~!" Misha says in a playful tone and one wink of her big golden eye.
"N-no..no." I snap back, "I was just thinking."
Shizune gets a certain look on her face. I can't quite place what it is, but it looks like she's a racecar driver at the starting line of a race, just waiting for the green light.
Her hands disappear into a tornado of signs aiming towards Misha. Before her hands stop, she's quickly pivoted on her heels and burst out into a jog into the direction of the school. Misha bursts into laughter immediately and quickly takes off, right behind Shizune.
"Shiichan says the last one to the school buys lunch next time~! Wahaha~!" She yells over her shoulder as the two girls quickly create distance between themselves and the cafe. I'm about to take off after them when a sudden thought stops me in my tracks.
I shouldn't be running like that with my heart as fragile as it is.
I can feel a frown work it's way onto my face.
I'm just glad the two girls are out of sight by now so they don't notice my absence from the competition.
I doubt they even know about my condition.
I let out a sigh, as I stuff my hands into my pockets and begin slowly walking back in the same general direction we came here.
I think I remember how to get back.
...at least I hope I do.
A few minutes pass and I realize that I may not know the way back like I thought I did, as I end up, somehow, right back in front of the Shanghai.
Crap, I just made a big loop around the block.
I consider going back inside and asking Yuuko if she could give me some directions, but as I turn to the building the front door creeks open and two girls bounce out into the empty street beside me. Naomi lays her eyes on me, tilting her head to side as if trying to remember who the familiar face was or where she knew me from.
Natsume looks a little surprised, her big mismatched eyes almost look worried.
She locks her eyes onto mine and let's a small, nervous smile creep onto her face.
I can already feel the blood rushing to my face again as I try to find the right words to say here.
"Uhm..hey," I state, trying not to sound quite as nervous as I actually am.
Why am I getting so worked up about this? I'm no master conversationalist, but surely I can properly introduce myself to a couple of classmates without my head exploding. "..I'm Hisao Nakai, I believe..uhm..we're in the same class together."
"Yeah!" Naomi, bursts out, snapping her fingers in realization. "that's where I recognize you from~!"
She has a playful, girly voice. It's similar to Misha's, but it has a much softer tone to it, not quite as damaging to everyone who hears it. "Nice to meet you, I'm Naomi Inoue!" She says with a quick bow of her head.
As she snaps her head back up, she's wearing a big grin on her face, it's very welcoming and warm.
I bow my head in response, turning my attention to the girl beside her. She's..blushing?
Huh, I took these two to be social butterflies, being over the school Newspaper, maybe I just caught her on an off day. Maybe I just shouldn't make assumptions.
"I'm Natsume Ooe," she says after a slight shake of her head. Seems like she dazed out for a second there. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Nakai."
Her voice carries a polite tone through the Spring air between us, as her smile pushes her cheeks upwards, revealing a row of pearly white teeth. She has a soft voice, but it's very clear and easy to hear. I bow slightly to her in response.
"Hisao is fine, we're classmates, after all." I state, trying my best to push a smile onto my face, despite still being totally ignorant of where I am. The girls give a polite nod, apparently agreeing that no formalities are necessary.
"You must be adjusting pretty well to the new scene, to already be helping out with student council business!" Naomi points out, apparently trying to start conversation and smooth over my awkwardness.
"Eh, not quite," I answer back, trying my best not to sound bitter at the fact they abandoned me here, although it probably was an accident. "Shizune and Misha have just been showing me around, really."
"So they haven't pestered you about joining the council yet?" Naomi states in surprise.
"Oh, they have brought it up...multiple times," My response coming out in a dull tone. "I can't say I'm interested, honestly."
"I just want to get a feel for this place before I go joining any kind of club, you know?" I ask.
Obviously they don't know you moron, they've probably been here for years.
"Sure, sure!" Naomi responds with a wave of her hand and a small chuckle. "So, where are they at now?" Natsume speaks up in a gentle tone.
"Oh..uhm," I start.
Well, I can't just tell them that they ran off but I'm not able to because of my flakey heart.
Well, I guess I could. I could just say they ran off and hope that they don't ask for reasons why I didn't follow.
I'm wasting time thinking about it, they probably think I'm crazy.
"..they had a race back to school, actually. I..uh..I fell behind and I don't really know the way back now." I state, punching an awkward "ha" on the end of it, mostly to make myself feel better about this situation.
"Hmm, well we can't just leave a fellow student behind!" Naomi lets rings out. "Riight, Natsume~? Haha!"
Oh, thank God, they're not asking more questions.
"Would you like to accompany two girls back to class, Hisao?" Natsume chimes in, with a playful wink.
I'm pretty sure my face has been red more today than it has been it's natural color.
"I guess I can't turn down an offer like that." I awkwardly mumble out in response.
They both give a little giggle before taking their positions by my right side as we begin walking.
Natsume is directly beside me and Naomi sliding in on her other side.
As I walk alongside the girls I can't help but to get lost in my own thoughts for a moment. These two don't seem much different from Shizune and Misha really. They're idly chatting with one another about the Newspaper and upcoming stories and events.
They seem to complement each other well, Naomi seems more outgoing and talkative, while Natsume seems controlled, a confusing mixture of confidence and nervousness about her being. Her purposeful stride almost reminds me of Shizune. Speaking of comparing the two, I was right, she is probably a few inches shorter than Shizune is, and her posture is a little more relaxed.
After a few moments we walk in silence. I'm cautious of my heart beating in my chest, it seems to be doing fine on this little walk. I can't help be feel glad that I didn't risk running after the student council. I'm sure they'll tease me about it later, but as long as I can avoid telling them about my issue right now, I think I'll be okay.
We reach the winding road leading up to the school and everything becomes a little more familiar to me now. The view from the road is a nice one. I can see out over the small town below, everything becoming increasingly smaller as we make our way up the hill.
We soon reach the front gates of the school and as I push it open to let the girls pass through, I can hear the bell ringing out, signaling that lunch is over. Huh, it feels like I've been in town much longer than just lunch.
I guess Shizune dragging us down there in a practical sprint probably made up for any lost time though.
The girls nod their gratitude as we pass through the old gate and into the school grounds.
"I'm going to go grab my books, I'll meet you back in class!" Naomi directs at Natsume. "It was nice meeting you Hisao! Thanks for the company!" She says over her shoulder as she turns on her heel and let's out a small giggle, disappearing into the school building.
A handful of students trickle out of the dorm building, heading back towards their classes. None of them seem to be in much of a rush. That leaves Natsume and me standing in the quiet court yard for an awkward minute before I decide to speak up.
"Uhm..would you like to walk back to class with me?" I ask, awkward nervousness still seeping into my words.
"Heh, s-sure, thank you." She responds back. "By the way, you should..uhm..come have lunch with us some time," she adds as we step off towards the towering building in front of us. "Normally, we just eat in the Newspaper club room, but sometimes we will head into town for a change of scenery."
I'm a little shocked by the offer, but then again, I am the new guy. She's probably just being polite.
"Uhm, sure," I stumble out. "That sounds nice, thanks." I try to smile at her politely as she walks beside me, but I have a feeling I'm just being awkward again.
Why am I so bad at this?
We make our way into class, with Mutou following right behind us, his hands full of papers. I nod my farewell to Natsume and she gives a smile back as she breaks off to take her seat.
I take my seat to find two empty ones beside me. Huh, must be some important council business to tend to, probably tying up loose ends before the festival in a few days.
Speaking of the festival, I wonder if I should go. It might be nice to get out and experience, but I really don't like the thought of aimlessly walking around alone. I also don't like the thought of being dragged around all evening by the student council girls.
Eh, I still have a few days to decide.
Last edited by InSaiyan
on Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:14 am, edited 6 times in total.