Oddball wrote: ↑
Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:19 pm
Much to my surprise, however, the place is pretty packed, having about the same population a typical high school.
This is wrong though (although to be fair it could just be Hisao being wrong). The school is somewhere between 200 and 300 students depending on who you ask.
This is a mistake on my part, definitely. However, Hisao being wrong could work in my favor, so I'm considering it a happy accident for now. I'll try to be more consistent with the canon next time, though.
I decide to stay in the classroom after the final bell rings, mainly to finish the questions Mutou assigned to us. Even though I don’t have any plans for the festival, I’d rather not spend the day doing homework. To be honest, not knowing what I’m going to do for tomorrow is a bit depressing. I’m sure everyone else has plans or is working the stalls. Then there’s me, with nothing to do. It’s probably my own fault, given how I’ve acted the past week. I wonder if I should ask Shizune if I can work the class’ stall... That would beat walking around aimlessly, I’d imagine. But… I also don’t want to stand around, serving food or handing out prizes. So there goes that idea. Maybe I could ask Miki if she had any plans, but, even after hanging out with her yesterday, I doubt she considers me anything more than an acquaintance. I really have no favorable options in this situation, it seems.
Regardless, I just need to focus on getting these problems done. However, nobody else seems to share my willingness to do the work early, given how empty the class is. It's silent, save for the soft chirping of birds whose sounds are muffled by the windows. The only other people here are Hanako, who I assume is waiting for Lilly, and Miki, who casually walks up to my desk with her signature smirk.
“Yo. Working hard?” she asks, opting to sit in Misha’s seat.
“Yup. Don’t wanna forget to do it. What about you?”
“Eh, not gonna worry about it.”
I glance over, confusion written all over my face. “Does that mean you’ll do the work tomorrow, or does it mean you won’t do it at all?”
“Uh… Probably the last one. Sounds pretty ‘Miki’ to me.”
“Yeah, no kidding…”
She scowls, kicking my leg weakly. “Didn’t ask for your opinion.”
I shrug off the hit, opting to focus on the problems on the paper rather than the distracting girl. It's not that I don't enjoy her company, it's just that her company is probably the second worst company to have when doing work. The first being Misha... without Shizune that is.
She sighs as my attention slips through her grasp. “Anyway, that’s not why I’m here. So, first off, do you know Emi? Short, pigtails, pretty cute, runs really fast.”
“Yeah, I know her,” I answer, eyes still on the paper as I write out my answers.
“Well, she told me that you two were supposed to run in the mornings, or something. I wasn’t really listening to all that, but she asked me to take you out jogging.”
I look over, slightly confused by the prospect. “Where’s that coming from?”
Miki shrugs, “I dunno. I think she probably saw us all buddy-buddy yesterday. Still, I’m fine doing it if you are. I already exercise with someone else after track practice anyway.”
“Wouldn’t you already be tired from track practice in the first place?”
“Bold of you to assume I attend track practice,” she says in a rather serious tone before beginning to laugh. “No, no. I don’t work that hard during practice. Kinda pisses Emi and the Captain off, but they know I run afterwards so it ain’t that big a deal.”
“Fair enough… Who else do you practice with then?”
“Suzu Suzuki, from class. Blue hair, pretty short, sits in the front row to my left.”
It takes me a moment to realize who she’s talking about, but the mental image is pretty clear. She’s exactly as Miki describes her, as basic of a description as that is. Most of the time when I look over at her, she'll have her head down. Sometimes I even catch her sleeping in class, which Mutou never calls out. It must be the reason she’s here then. That, or Mutou doesn’t really care.
I soon realize I’ve been thinking for a bit too long, and nod frantically in response. “Right, right. I know her.”
“Nice! You two are super similar, you know. Both nerds. She’s even in the literature club, funnily enough,” she says, rubbing her chin as she tries to think of any other comparisons she can make. “Uhh… That’s it, really. But hey, it’s something, right?”
I’m a bit surprised Suzu would be in the literature club, though I don’t know why I would be given how populated the club apparently is. Besides, I think I've seen her in the library at least once. “Good to know, I guess.”
“So what do you say, then? Exercising with two cute girls has gotta be every man’s dream, right? It’s as good a deal as you’re gonna get.”
I don’t know if cute is the best word to describe Miki, but I choose not to voice that opinion. Regardless, I definitely need to exercise regularly. That trip to the town I made with Lilly yesterday definitely shows me how out of shape I am. “Uh, sure. I was thinking of starting again anyway.”
She claps my shoulder a few times, startling me enough to make me drop my pen. “Alright! So just show up at the track before dinnertime, like around five,” she explains, picking up the pen and handing it back to me.
“Oh good, I get to be all sweaty before dinner time,” I say in my usual sarcastic tone. “Why not just run in the morning like Emi?”
“Pfft, you expect me to wake up at that time?” Miki chuckles at the thought. “I can barely manage to wake up before class. Besides, she’ll probably be there and then get on my ass about it.”
“Yeah, fair enough.” I say, sighing in defeat. “Alright then, I’ll be ready.”
“Sweet! Seeya then.” she says, getting up from the stolen seat and giving me a quick salute before disappearing into the hallways. Finally some peace and quiet. Miki’s not as loud per se, but she's a chatterbox for sure. I don’t mind that much, but it’s a definite distraction from work. After she leaves, I end up finishing the problems without too much trouble. Though it’s only after I finish that I realize I have nothing to do until the evening. The silence of the room seems to invade my thoughts, as any idea I have for wasting a few hours gets dismissed one after the other.
I opt to just spend the rest of my time in the library
The sun seems to have barely moved an inch by the time I head to the field. Waiting in the library proved to be fairly boring, as Yuuko doesn’t really have anything that I haven’t read already. The little that is new to me doesn’t hold my interest at all, mainly because a lot of it is in braille. Regardless, time passed like a snail until inevitably the time came to meetup with Miki and Suzuki.
I find the field to be fairly empty, save for a few students conversing on the bleachers. It’s a bit like the morning, only with an extra five or so people. It’s more silent though, given the clacking of metal is absent. It makes the place feel much more peaceful, with the sounds of birds, soft voices, and cicadas having no rhythm to them. Much more natural, I'd say.
It doesn’t take me long to spot Miki stretching by the side of the track, alongside a blue-haired girl I recognize as Suzuki. They both have their gym clothes on, though Miki seems to have ditched the bottom portion of the uniform, opting for black compression shorts instead. Not a bad look for her, I must say. What does strike me as odd is Suzu’s black knee brace, which I remember having seen before in class. There’s probably some story behind it that I’ll idiotically ask about. Miki quickly spots me as I walk up, flashing a quick smile before finishing her stretching.
“Yo! Right on time, Suzu just barely got here too.”
I nod in response, looking over to the girl with a smile. She is relatively small compared to Miki and me. Her eyes are baggy, as if she hasn’t slept in days. It almost looks as if she’s only half there, staring through me.
Regardless, she holds her head up with a smile. “Hello,” she says in a soft voice. “I’m Suzu Suzuki. You probably don’t know, but I’m in your class. Though… I admit that I have forgotten your name. Sorry.”
Her genuine apology hits me in the gut. It makes me feel bad, even though I had nothing to do with her forgetfulness. “Ah, it’s fine, it’s fine,” I quickly reply with a chuckle. “Hisao Nakai, but you can just call me Hisao.”
She stares blankly for a second, blinking slowly. It’s a bit weird, though she quickly reverts to normal with a smile. “Ah, nice to meet you, Hisao. You may call me Suzu, if you want to.”
“In that case, it's nice to meet you too, Suzu.”
I spot Miki staring at us with a grin. Honestly, I'm not sure why, but it can't be for a good or normal reason.
“How are you enjoying the school?” she asks, causing my short bout of paranoia to disappear.
“It's been alright. The people seem nice, and the food is... average. Not much I can complain about.”
She tilts her head, looking as if she didn’t actually hear me. I almost repeat myself before she speaks up, “Ah. Well, I’m glad it hasn’t been bad, at least. If you need a club… The literature club would be happy to have a new member. That way you can meet people easier…”
“Oh? I heard that the literature club was full.”
A small pause, as her face goes blank again. “Ah!” she exclaims suddenly, “That’s right, I’m sorry… I must have forgotten.”
“Uh, don’t worry about it,” I say, chuckling awkwardly. “We should, uh, start stretching.”
She nods, beginning her stretching exercise. Normally I wouldn’t do any sort of warm-ups, but I just needed to end the conversation as soon as possible. When I look over at Miki, it’s clear she’s trying to suppress her laughter. I just glare at her as I stretch, which just makes her even more pleased. She seems to find Suzu’s quirkiness amusing. I, more or less, am concerned for her. It looks as if she exits our reality for half a second before returning, without her even noticing. Exhaustion can make you do that, as I have personally experienced, but Suzu is more extreme in that regard. Though admittedly, she could just be weird, and that weirdness has nothing to do with her condition. Or it could be both. I'm leaning towards the ‘both’ side, personally.
After a few warmups, Miki beams at the two of us and points to the field with her thumb. “Alright, let’s get rollin!”
Before I can even respond, she’s off. Suzu doesn’t waste any time either, bolting towards Miki with surprising enthusiasm. Not wanting to be left behind, I follow suit. It's about as hard as it was a couple days ago. Once I pick up my stride, I notice how slow I am compared to Suzu. That’s when I notice how slow she is compared to Miki. I knew she was in the track team, but I didn’t think she’d be that quick, especially considering her laid-back demeanor
My breathing starts to get sporadic. Probably because my focus was on the girls rather than myself. I find myself starting to give way around the same time as my last session with Emi. This is seriously as good as I can do? I get that this kind of stuff takes time, but at this point I don’t feel as if I’ll ever get any better. Maybe I need to go all out. Maybe I need to push beyond whatever restrictions I put on myself. Maybe I'm just an idiot. As I begin to falter, I consciously increase my speed. I'm definitely an idiot, it seems. However, my concentration is broken as Miki begins to jog next to me, having lapped around me a couple of times by now.
“Yo,” she says in between her breaths. Her smile is betrayed by a concerned tone. “Probably should take a break, yeah?”
She speeds up, leaving me with those words. It’s a punch to the gut, but she’s right. I slow myself down to a sluggish walk, focusing on my breathing as I do so. It’s not hard to keep it steady at the moment, though to say I feel exhausted would be an understatement. I walk over to the bleachers to sit down for a second. After stabilizing my breathing, I look back over the track, seeing Miki and Suzu still going strong. The shorter girl is noticeably slower however, and seems to be running out of gas quickly. Miki, on the other hand, barely looks tired at all, bolting along the track at speeds that would make a cheetah jealous. It's an impressive sight, seeing someone like her or Emi run. It seems natural to them. I suppose that's what practice gets you. That or talent. I can never tell the difference.
Suzu eventually gives in, panting as she heads over to the bleachers to take a seat next to me. Miki follows suit, looking like she could go for some more laps, maybe around a couple hundred. Seriously, aside from the sweat, she looks as if she's still brimming with energy.
“Alright! You guys did pretty good,” she says with a grin. I half expected sarcasm, given I did less than half the laps they did.
“No I didn't…” I reply with a bit more dejection than I had wanted.
Miki frowns, which is a first. “Ugh, don't be so depressed. It'll give you grey hair.”
Suzu's previously blank face scrunches up. “It will?”
“No it won't,” I say before Miki has a chance to mess with her further.
“Oh…” Her tone is a mixture of relief and disappointment all at once. I don't know what to make of it, and neither does Miki it seems, as she laughs about as awkward as one can manage.
“Anyway. Don't be such a downer, Hisao,” she explains, taking a seat next to me. “You'll just end up gutting your motivation. Gotta stay positive. You'll get there soon.”
Suzu nods in agreement, “As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day…” she says with a blank face. I don’t know how to feel about her words of encouragement. Still, I appreciate it. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s easier to say all this than to put it into practice.
I opt not to share my pessimism though. “Thanks,” I say half-heartedly, which the two girls seem to notice judging by their concerned faces. However, I’m saved from a lecture by my stomach growling, which gets a chuckle out of Miki.
“Hungry man, I see,” she remarks with a smug grin. “Don’t worry, Suzu’s got you covered, right girl?”
“Uh…” Suzu looks over at her gym bag, trying to work out quantum mechanics in her head judging by her expression. “No, I only made two meals.”
“Gah?” Miki utters, before realizing her mistake. “Ah, right, I forgot to tell you about Hisao…”
“No, you told me someone would be joining us. However, you told me about a minute before Hisao met up with us. That’s not enough time for me to prepare another meal, I’m not that skilled yet.”
I just shrug in response. “It’s fine. I think I’ll just get something from the vending machine and call it a day”
Miki scowls at me. “That shit isn’t healthy for you. You need meat! Protein! Stuff that’ll make you all roided out without having to use roids, you know?”
“Uh, no thank you,” I say, thoughts of big bodybuilders from America flooding my thoughts. God, do they look scary as hell. Not to mention unnatural. “I’d rather be skinny than be a bodybuilder.”
“Hey, I don’t mean like a bodybuilder. Can’t really get that
kinda look through cardio anyway. Besides, just a little muscle will look good on you, I bet.” Miki says with a wink. “Ain’t that right Suzu?”
The girl is startled out of a trance once Miki elbows her. She looks at the two of us, partly confused, before smiling and nodding. “Yes, I agree.”
Their comments cause a bit of red to seep into my cheeks, even if Suzu probably had no idea what she agreed with. I rub the back of my head, trying to think of something witty to say back to Miki just so she doesn’t get the last laugh. However, I’m drawing blanks. “Yeah yeah… Fine, I’ll get a protein bar or something.”
Miki grins, patting me on the shoulder. “Good boy. I’m sure Suzu will have something for you to eat next time, right?”
The short girl, looking awake this time, nods in reply. “I think I can make an extra meal next time. Protein, right?”
“Ugh, yeah,” I give in, much to Miki’s delight. Getting up from my seat takes a bit more effort than I expected. My legs are sore even after a little bit of running, which is too embarrassing for me to admit. “Guess I’ll see you two… Monday?”
Miki tilts her head. “Aw, not gonna hang with me for the festival?” she asks with a fake tone of disappointment.
“Don’t you have your group to hang with?”
“Eh…” she shrugs. “I think they’re all busy with stalls or some shit. Either way, I’m all alone.”
I look towards Suzu, only to notice she is completely devoid of consciousness at this point. She looks that way, at least. All that I can do is sigh and nod. “Yeah, sure. Where do you wanna meet?”
“I dunno. How ‘bout by the dorms? Like at noon or something.”
That doesn’t sound like a very concrete plan, but I shouldn’t really be surprised. “Alright, see you then.”
“Seeya!” Miki says before elbowing Suzu, knocking her out of her trance.
She looks around for a moment, only to stare at me for a few seconds before nodding slowly. “Until next time.”
With goodbyes out of the way, I head off to the vending machine to get my crappy dinner. Once I get there, I find that most of the good things are gone. All that’s left is a piece of bread with some weird flavor to it. I almost contemplate just heading to the cafeteria. That’s when I notice the sweat stains on my shirt. The choice has been made for me, it seems.
I end up walking to my dorm with my gourmet meal, which tastes pretty bad. My mind keeps wandering over to the festival. Being alone tomorrow was an unspoken worry for me. I didn’t want to say it, but I’m grateful to Miki, even though I am just a fall-back. It seems that’s becoming a theme with her. A part of me worries about being abandoned after tomorrow. Given she already has a big group of friends to hang out with, I sort of doubt she’d go out of her way to hang out with me regularly. With that on my mind, it feels less as if I’ve made a legitimate friend and more like being pitied. She doesn’t seem to pity me, though, which just confuses me even further…
I end up showering and heading to bed with a blank mind.