Kinda been awhile. No excuses for that really, just going to saying sorry for the wait. Hopefully it was worth it for you guys!
Mutou’s lecture seems to have put Suzu to sleep, along with a majority of the class. I’m well awake, but not because I’m listening. Instead, I’m busy people watching, as creepy as that sounds. To be exact, I’m trying to get a few students’ names down, or at least the students whose names I can somewhat remember. There are the obvious ones, like Misha, Shizune, Suzu and Miki. Those are the people I tend to interact with regularly or who I at least need to know. Then, there are the people whose names I can barely recall. I only know them because Mutou randomly calls them out in the middle of class, or I just overheard their names. The only ones I can actually remember are Maeda, who sits to Shizune’s right, as well as Kapur, who sits in front of me. Then there are the unknowns, which is pretty much anyone I haven’t interacted with yet. I could just ask people what their names are. I’m sure they wouldn’t care if I didn’t know their names. Still, it’s embarrassing. I suppose I could just ask Miki if I’m really that curious.
What I’ve come to realize is that Miki chats with everyone in the class, save for Hanako and Shizune for obvious yet differing reasons. Sometimes she’ll have long-winded conversations with a random classmate, though normally it’s just a few pieces of small-talk with whoever is around her. The person she tends to bug the most is Haruhiko, who often counters her playful jabs with unrelenting taunts. It’s confusing to try and piece together what their relationship actually is. Their friendship seems to be completely one-sided, but Haru never tries to get away from her. He just follows her lead more often than not, with nothing more than a few complaints. It’s odd to me.
Maybe I’m just being a jealous idiot. It’s very possible. I know that they’re not romantically involved, at least I think I know. It doesn’t matter, though, right? I’m just her friend, nothing more. Besides, she’s like one of the guys. She’d more likely hook me up with another girl than go out with me herself. I couldn’t date her, it would be like dating one of my guy friends. It wouldn’t work.
Who the hell am I kidding…
The bell snaps me back to reality, along with waking up just about everyone in class, save for Suzu who’s still face-down on her desk. Miki, having woken up from the lecture, runs over to me as soon as the wave of students leave. She stands in front of her desk with her mouth open, but her voice refuses to come out. She closes her mouth, pondering her words for a second before she grins her big, smug, grin. “Hey, so, you know how we were like, supposed to study today?” she asks in an expecting manner.
“Just get out with it,” I say, squinting my eyes as I prepare for the impact of whatever excuse she can manage to conjure up.
“Well…” she says, before abruptly pausing. Her eyes begin to look as empty as Suzu’s before she goes on. “So, Emi… She like told me I have to work overtime today. And the next day. For the track meet, you know? She uh… Told me over the ph-”
“You’re making this up as you go along,” I interrupt.
That’s about as much confirmation as I’ll get out of her. I sigh, shaking my head at her. “Why even agree to study with me if you are going to constantly ditch, anyway?”
Miki tilts her head, working out the question in her brain. “That’s a good question, Hisao. Real good. Never ask it again,” she says, before chuckling to herself.
“Look, if you’re gonna skip, I’ll just have to tell Haru and Suzu so they can help me drag you to the library…”
“Woah!” she exclaims, looking at me with a scowl. “And I thought you were cool… But you’re just a damn snitch. And here I had the hots for you…”
Her words are enough to cause a torrent of embarrassment to wash over me, breaking my composure enough to make me forget what I was going to say. I only come back to reality once Miki starts laughing. My bashfulness turns to annoyance immediately. I just stare at her, my irritation adding fuel to her amusement.
She calms herself, clearing her throat before she flashes me a wink and a grin. “Too easy, Hisao. Too easy.”
Before I can retort, a voice comes from behind Miki. “Miki, stop toying with the poor guy and hurry your ass up,” Haru says with a tired tone. Not sure whether to thank him or not, but it at least got me out of a potentially embarrassing conversation. I have to admit, though, it was amusing at least.
“Yeah yeah,” Miki grumbles back at the boy before she starts to walk off with him. She turns around to wave me goodbye. “Seeya at five, Hisao,” she says before walking out with Haru.
With the two of them gone, the classroom falls silent. Everyone has left at this point, leaving me the lone student remaining. I can’t help but feel disappointed by that.
Around this time, the library is devoid of life. It only has a few students sitting around as they lazily read some random book. I peek my head towards the beanbags at the end of the library, and sure enough, Hanako is there as engrossed in her reading as usual. This time, I decide not to disturb her. With some time to kill, I start to look through the shelves of books to try and find something that catches my eye. A few books do, and I take them along with me as I search for more. Eventually, I have a hefty stack of various novels. In fact, I think I have a bit too many books.
Eventually I settle for the reading material I gather and retreat to the tabled area of the library. It’s just as devoid of life as it usually is, save for a familiar, sleepy face. Suzu, whose focus is solely on the book she’s reading, sits at a circular table with four chairs surrounding it. The book that has her attention seems to be the english textbook that our teacher assigned us to read. Either she’s completely engaged in the textbook, reading every line with careful analysis in order to take in as much information as possible, or she’s completely out of it. I really can’t tell with her.
She spots me as I approach, her eyes now fixated on the stack of books that I have in my hands. “That’s too much to read,” she whispers as I place the stack down onto the table.
“Yeah, probably,” I say in a subdued tone as I take a seat next to her as I continue. “But, I’m probably not going to finish half of these anyway.”
“Why not?” she asks, tilting her head and narrowing her eyes as if I just said something blasphemous.
“Uh, well, a lot of times I don’t end up liking the books as much as I expected. So, I just return them a quarter of the way through. Some of them are good, but not great. I’d rather read the great stuff first, honestly.”
I clearly didn’t explain as well as I could have, considering the look Suzu is giving me. She seems confused, almost hurt even. What the hell did I say? I don’t think I said anything to offend her, and yet she’s staring at me as if she was a kid I’d just told Santa Claus wasn’t real.
“I see…” she says, turning her eyes back to the english textbook in front of her. “I like to just read the whole book. Even if it’s bad, I figure that it might get better, you know?”
Ah, that might explain it. I rub the back of my head, nodding in agreement. “I mean, yeah. It might get better, but I figure it isn’t really worth the trouble or time to read the book, you know?”
She closes her eyes, nodding slowly. “A bad book is a waste of time, yes. But nothing is as big of a waste of time as only cleaning half the rough off a diamond, and then ignoring it as if there was nothing of value there in the first place.”
“Huh… You got a point,” I say, shrugging in disbelief at her thought process. It’s not like what she said is groundbreaking or even something that I particularly agree with, but it made me think, at least.
“Ah, but, watching paint dry is probably a bigger waste of time. At least with reading you get a kinda bad story to laugh at. Paint… It’s just there.”
I should have seen that coming.
The two of us read in silence for a few minutes before I spot two familiar faces out of the corner of my eye. Miki looks depressed for reasons that I’m fairly certain I can figure out, while Haru looks as annoyed as he always does. Miki looks at Suzu and then at me, chuckling rather loudly. “Of course you two nerds would be starting early.”
Suzu and I collectively shush her in nearly perfect sync. Miki just frowns as she takes a seat next to me. Haru then takes the remaining seat across from me. “So, what’s the plan,” he mutters, looking towards me specifically. All of a sudden a wave of responsibility hits me.
“Er, well… Let’s start with our worst subjects so we all know what to focus on. Then we’ll go through any subjects a majority of us are weak in.”
Haru nods in agreement before clearing his throat. “Alright. Social studies is my worst. Next?” He asks, looking towards Suzu.
Suzu looks around for a second before answering. “Um… I’m not the best at math.”
“I’m pretty bad at english and social studies,” I say, looking towards Miki expectantly.
She looks back at the three of us, shrugging in response. “Well, you see, I’m actually amazing at every subject. I just, uh, don’t try cause it’s boring. But if I have to have one weakness, it’d probably be math-... No, actually, science.”
Miki seems unsatisfied with with either answer. I guess she’s bad at both. “Lucky for you, I’m actually pretty good at math and science,” I explain, which just gets Miki to scoff.
“Figured,” she says with a smile. I nearly open up my science textbook before I notice Suzu looking at me with puppy dog eyes. Looks like I’ll have double the workload.
“Hey, Suzu,” Haru calls out, seemingly breaking Suzu’s concentration as she looks over to the guy. “I’m decent at Math. Could help you out if you help me with Social Studies.”
Suzu looks up, probably thinking the offer over, before nodding slowly. “I can help you with that,” she says, inching closer to Haru as she pulls out a math book. Before the two converse any further, Haru looks to me with a nod. I don’t really get why, but I have a hunch. I’ll have to ask him about it later.
I look towards Miki, who is completely unaware of anything at the moment save for the dreaded physics textbook in front of her. “Don’t look so scared,” I say, turning the pages to concepts we’re currenting learning in class. Miki quickly groans as she looks over the numerous formulas on the page.
Even though she complains non-stop, she does manage to pay attention to the things I teach her. Whether or not she gets what I’m telling her is a different story, but she is at least listening to what I’m teaching her. Miki is also good at asking questions. Now, a lot of her questions are pretty obvious ones, but I’d rather her ask them to figure out the obvious answer than have her be ignorant completely.
She’s definitely not good at science as a whole, but she’s passable at certain aspects of it. What she’s really good at is understanding and applying the concepts to real life. Even with problems that don’t necessarily tell you what formulas to use or what concepts are in play, Miki will take the time to figure them out thoroughly. The issue she has is in solving the problem. Her math is pretty awful. Formulas seem to be her worst enemy, as her brain seems to shut off anytime a problem goes beyond basic algebra. It’s frustrating to be honest, but it’s nothing I can’t work with. Still, with every problem she attempts, the more her annoyance grows. Eventually I have to go over the problems step by step for her to solve them. Even then, it takes a while before she finally completes them. Well, she completes half of the required problems, at least.
“Ugh, this shit makes no sense,” she says, letting her pencil fall onto the table in defeat.
“You just need to get the concepts down and you’ll be fine,” I explain, which just gets a sigh out of her.
“Hisao… I’mma lost cause,” Miki states, looking towards me with an annoyed expression. “I don’t got the brain for this kinda work. You’re just wasting your time.”
“No, I’m not, you’re just being too hard on yourself, Miki.”
“Yeah, yeah…” she mutters, getting up from her chair and packing all her notebooks and pencils. “I appreciate the effort, at least. But, I think I’ll end up brain dead if I do this shit anymore. Sorry.”
I open my mouth to protest, but stop myself before I say anything. With a sigh, I nod in light agreement. “Yeah, might be time to call it.” It seems Suzu and Haru are done as well, with both of them chatting about various subjects as they put their stuff away.
Suzu gets up from her chair as well, giving Haru a short and sweet bow. “Thank you,” she mutters in a tired tone. Haru just responds to the gratitude with a nod.
Miki grins and wraps her arm around Suzu as she approaches. “Seeya guys later! C’mon Suzu,” she says as she leads the smaller girl out of the library with little to no struggle. Suzu looks like she doesn’t care either way.
With their departing, I’m left with Haru in lonely silence. He gives me a smirk as I look over at him sitting in the chair comfortably with his hands behind his head. “What?” I ask him in a confused and awkward tone.
He shrugs, keeping the same smug expression. “Nothing, nothing. Just, you know, spectating.”
“Spectating, huh? Then why’d you do what did back there?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, New Kid,” he says, feigning ignorance.
“Don’t play dumb, dude…” I say, scowling at him. It just makes Haru chuckle. “I was planning on having it be a legitimate group study, but you separated the group into pairs on purpose. Though I’m not sure why.”
Haru drops his grin, adopting a more mellow expression. He casually looks around, as if to make sure nobody was listening. Once he deems the coast is clear, he leans in and speaks in a softer tone. “Listen, I feel the need to help you out a bit. Mainly because of the pattern every guy goes through.”
“Pattern?” I ask in a halfhearted way.
He holds a finger up, prompting me to hold any further questions I have. “I’ve been her friend for… a few years now? I dunno. Anyway, the pattern usually goes like this: A guy tries to get closer to her, she starts to show some ‘signs’ of liking the guy back, he confesses, and then she rejects him. Happens all the time, without fail.”
Haru’s pattern causes my stomach to drop. It does sound an awful lot like the progress of my relationship with Miki, especially the first point. Hell, part of the reason I formed the study group was to try and get to know her more, do something more with her than just be the guy she runs with.
But, this pattern only really matters to me under the assumption that I want to date her. I don’t, I just want get to know her more, become good friends, stuff like that. A relationship with her should be this faraway concept that I shouldn’t even think about. At least, that’s what I want to tell myself. I sigh, scratching my head as I try to piece my thoughts together. “Okay, well I don’t mind being a friend to her.”
“Yeah, yeah, sure buddy,” he says, chuckling and shaking his head. “Even if you are telling the truth, which you’re fucking not, eventually you’ll get the hots for her anyway. And when you do, the patterns gonna start up.”
“Then I’ll worry about that then,” I mutter as I start to get annoyed. “Why do you even care, anyway?”
“I got my reasons,” Haru says, quickly dismissing my question as soon as it exits my mouth. “Look, New Kid, I’m helping you out cause I like you. And I can tell Miki likes you too just based on the fact she hasn’t ditched you yet. If you don’t want my help, then just say the word and I’ll leave you be.”
Haru sits there, patiently waiting for an answer that I don’t have. I really don’t know Miki enough to have feelings for her. Does that really matter, though? I mean, feelings are something that just spontaneously happen, there’s no set line to cross. And to say I’m not interested in the idea of dating her would be a lie… Dammit, why the hell am I even trying to fool myself, anyway?
“Fine, help me out,” I say, sighing in relief.
“Great! Looks like you got a wingman, New Kid,” he replies, getting up from his chair and throwing his bag strap around his shoulder. “Let’s head out before the library closes.”
I nod in agreement, packing up all my books and heading out of the library with Haru. The entire trip to the dorms is littered with small talk about various random topics. I can’t help but wonder if he has any ulterior motives for helping me. One thing that I wonder is if he went down the same pattern he warns me about. If he did, why would he want to help me out in the first place? I have a lot of questions, but every time I try to ask, I get cold feet. I do manage to get one question out as we approach the dorm.
“Hey, Haru. How many people has she rejected, anyway?”
Haru looks back at me, wearing an expression that I can’t quite place. He rubs the back of his head, contemplating his next words pretty carefully.
“Ah… Honestly man, it’s probably best if you don’t know.”
WORDS WORDS WORDS
I'm too young to have ever used forums before.
Turns out Haruhiko's ulterior motive is just to recreate his favorite rom-com in real life.