Act 1: Rising Son
Scene 5: A Turkey Sandwich and an Odd Confession
When I got up this morning I was unsure of whether or not to come to class today. Yesterday's events have left me a bit knackered and nervous to say the least, despite even Miki's advice. I went as far as to debate on whether or not to put my hair up in a ponytail again,considering that's what lit the fuse on the whole shit show that was yesterday. It didn't matter though, if It wasn't the hair it would have been another thing. Saki was just looking for a way to start a fight, I would have been chewed up either way. It’s always the same with people like here, looking for a way to tear down others as they try to build themselves up. Still, some of the things she said rang true and got to me. Even after a decent sleep and some helpful advice I still feel unsure of everything, my life and the problems I’ve faced.
Somewhere around in my hectic thoughts I manage to find myself standing outside the classroom door obscured from view and more than an hour late. My legs buckle and shift nervously beneath me as my stomach flops around inside like a loose flounder. My nervous behaviour has resurfaced, this time with a reckoning. It seems all too possible that the progress I have made has been thrown out the window; lost forever.
Every time my hand reaches for the door, I retract it, terrified to the bone about what may happen next. My heart beats uncontrollably quickly , my legs shake, and my stomach throws a fit as my mind swims with doubt.
I don't want to let my shyness and fright get the better of me, but it's so hard. The very insecurities I thought I had finally wrestled into control find themselves seeping into my thoughts and taking over my body. I wish you could cure shyness like you could a stuffy nose or a cough, take a pill and you're good to go. But..but nothing in this life is easy, we have to fight for every inch. If we don't try, then what's the point?
I inhale deeply and let out a slow tentative breath in an effort to put my mind at ease. I tighten my grip on my school bag and reach out towards the door, my hand shaking somewhat. My legs begin to wobble beneath and my heart begins to pound away in anticipation. The metal handle feels like ice when contrasted against my sweaty palms. I turn the handle and let gravity do the rest, leaving me to stand in the doorway as the door creaks open.
I hear the class go silent as the door opens and reveals me standing there, nervous and terrified, caught like a deer in headlights. I hate it! I hate that everything is a fight again, it makes it so hard. I keep thinking, 'what's the point?'. The point is rather simple, to live, live the way I want to.
“Kiri?” I hear a voice call from within the class sounding concerned.
I ignore Okazaki's voice and step into the room, my legs shaking with every step and a cold sweat trickling over my body. I let my feet take me to my seat, never lifting my eyes off the ground for fear of making eye contact. A nervous blush creeps across my face as I navigate between the rows of desks, but I think I managed to avoid drawing any more unneeded attention my way.
I set my bag on the hook of the desk and sit down, doing my best to remain a shadow. It's not hard,considering that it's one of the only things I'm genuinely good at.
I look up at the class and find that nearly everyone is looking at me, dying to ask so many questions. Dying to know what's going on, about yesterday, about my tardiness, about anything regarding my skittish flight from the class yesterday. This is one of the reasons why I didn't want to show up, the attention makes me even more nervous than I should be. So much for being a “shadow”. I guess even shadows get attention sometimes. Just why does that attention have to come today?
A few moments pass by as the class stares at me like some sort of painting or a convict in chains. I feel my heart rate increase and I grow scared.My eyes open wide as they dance from person to person, passing over the cold inquisitive gaze of the mob. I reach for my bag planning to pick it up and exit the room quickly, refusing to be the centre of attention. I was hoping Okazaki would do something, but it seems she is just as curious as the rest of the class. I lift my bag off the hook and begin to stand up when I hear a loud bang and the eyes turn from me to the front of the class.
“Sorry about that~!Haha~!” Nori yells louder than usual as he bends over to pick up a stack of textbooks. The entire class has their attention on him and his clumsy mistake. I managed to lock eyes with Nori for a brief second and I can swear I can see him give me a wink.
Was that really just a clumsy coincidence or something more? Was that on purpose?
He picks the books up and ushers in a few sincere apologies before sitting back down and inquiring where we last were in the lesson prior.
“Ugghhh. Yes. We were just beginning the next unit, The great depression and the expansion of Japanese trade dominance.” Okazaki says, starting off stunned before returning to her normal authoritative voice.
She begins to talk as she writes a few things on the board, distracting the class from the past few moments; saving me from so much unwanted attention. As she writes on the board the sound of chalk echoes around the now quiet room and I sit back down unhindered. I relax in my chair and let out a sigh of relief, proceeding to take out my books and copy down the note. If I forced myself to show up, I might as well make an effort I think to myself as I begin to click my mechanical pencil into action.
Thank you, Nori. Thank you. I find myself smiling and not quite as nervous, he saved me there. I guess he really does care, I thought he was just being nice yesterday, but nice people don't just distract the class to save someone. I wasn't in any real danger mind you, but I was scared. Nori the life saver. Maybe my pessimistic behaviour is more damaging than what I'm being pessimistic about.
The class proceeds rather smoothly and nobody asks me questions or approaches me thankfully. The class goes on with their daily routine, as if they forgot the events of this morning and yesterday afternoon. The idea causes me to visibly relax, but I still remain on edge for fear of them remembering, you can never be too careful after all. Class dredges on slowly and tediously, the tired expression once shared by one student spreads around the class like a common cold. I guess this is why they call it “The great depression” because it's a boring subject to cover let alone teach. If it saves me from the pestering and attention of my classmates, who am I to complain?
Somewhere near the start of lunch, I notice that I wasn't the only one to not show up, Saki appears to be missing as well. I suppose after an emotional breakdown and terrifying confrontation like that, most people would hide with their tail between their legs. While I'm still resentful and scared of her, I can't help but feel sorry for her. I don't know what business she and Yuuto had, but somehow I was involved. I'm left curious, it must have been important based upon the aftermath it caused. I suppose one of these days I'll find out, but the more days without Saki the better I feel.
The rest of the school day goes by uneventfully, which it has my thanks for. The only thing worth noting was Nori's request at lunch. He asked me if we wanted to hang out and head into town after his baseball practice was over. I was in no position to decline, considering how he saved me from an inquisition earlier today,so I agreed. That's what brings me here, waiting on the metal bleachers at the back of the school watching the baseball team set up for practice.
It's a nice day, the sky is clear and only shows one or two clouds, the temperature is rather pleasant too. It's warm, but not overbearingly so,still retaining that hint of spring. The other students seem to think it's a nice day as well, choosing to hang around outside rather than studying, most choosing to watch a bit of baseball, all in all preferring to stay outdoors. I have to admit I know next to nothing about baseball. Dad used to take me to soccer and baseball games as a kid, but I was more interested in going home than I did about what was happening in front of my eyes. All I can say is “Strike” and “Homerun” are about the only things I understand.
Unfortunately,I'm not the only one on the bleachers, a few other students decided to come and watch the baseball team's practice. All of them dressed in school uniforms, carrying some sort of canned beverage or snack of some kind. My stomach lets out an audible grumble, making me realise how hungry I am. I really should have eaten more than an anpan bun from the cafeteria. I guess when Nori and I head into town I'll get something there, hoping that we can run into a cafe or tea house. At least I hope they do, otherwise, I'm walking straight into the convenience store and eating whatever food I find. I don't think I've ever explored the town much, only ever going to the convenience store for food and such on ocassion, even my mail gets brought to my door! How awesome is that?
Yamaku is amazing, If I wanted to, I don't even have to leave the school grounds for food. I only do such, because I like a variety in my diet and I'm a very picky eater. I guess I could eat the same few meals over and over again, but that would get boring. Man can not live on anpan alone! I wonder if there is any anpan left in the cafeteria? Probably not. When I bought mine there was only about four left in stock and a large line-up of hungry students. That's where having diabetes is a bonus. I get to go into the express line at the school cafeteria. I get my food before anyone else, along with my other special dietary linemates. That probably isn't something to brag about, but you got to count your blessings even when they don’t seem that great.
I shake my useless thoughts from my head and bring my attention to the baseball practice going on. Maybe I can learn a thing or two from this game?
I find myself watching the game in a similar manner to that of a cat observing a television screen; more so watching than understanding. To me, it just seemed like a whole lot of catching and running.How do people even watch that? It's so boring, no fighting, no explosions and not even one moving speech. Nori can have his baseball, I'm gonna stick with what I know. What's the entertaining value of hitting a ball with a wooden stick? I mentally sigh and roll my eyes before coming to the conclusion that I'm just not a baseball person.
I shrug to myself, standing up on the metal bleachers with a big stretch and yawn.
I walk down the bleachers like a set of giant stairs, finally hopping onto the ground below to meet Nori. By now he has changed back into his school uniform, rather than his team outfit.
“Hey~!” he smiles as he cleans his glasses with his tie.
I give him a friendly nod and smile, waiting patiently for him to start our trek into town. I look at Nori as he cleans off the smudges on his lenses, he looks different than usual. For starters, his eyes are a lot smaller than you would expect them to be, but I guess I am used to the magnified version of his eyes after all. His green eyes remind me of small little marbles, not sure if that would be a compliment or an insult if I said such, so I refrain from saying anything and remain content at staring at their shimmering jade tinge.
After looking into the lenses of each eye he slides them back onto his head deftly, only to give me an exaggerated thumbs up. “Let's go~!” he booms, his voice causing some of the students to fall off the bleachers in shock. Oh well...
We begin walking out towards the main gates, making idle talk, mostly about class or practice. He avoids the mention of yesterday's events or how he helped me out earlier today which makes keeping up on my end more natural. He has a knack for conversations, I'll give him that much. I wonder if he talks like this with everyone, making them feel at ease and relaxed even if they're naturally not. I almost forgot about school entirely until he says.
“Oh, by the way, Yuuto is coming along.” He says nonchalantly, as if he was speaking about the weather, shameless.
“Wa-What?!” I yell flabbergasted, stopping in my path. My eyes opened wide in abject horror and confusion. Why did he invite Yuuto? Why would anyone invite Yuuto? Especially after yesterday, he left me to the ravenous wolf!
Then I remember the text that Nori sent me yesterday.
...[K, u missed Saki get a talking to btw. U wouldn't guess by who either...Yuuto~!]...
Is that what he wanted to discuss in town, what Yuuto said to Saki? If that’s the case, I think I understand why he invited him, but he should have at least told me instead of dropping the bomb like he did. I relax a little, I'm sure he has a good, solid reason for doing this. I decide to let him continue before saying anything else.
“Woah~! No need to get so feisty, little lady~!” Nori jests, clearly expecting this reaction from me.
“Listen. Do you remember what I texted you about yesterday? About how Yuuto and Saki had a talk in front of the class?” he continues, suddenly becoming serious at the drop of a hat.
I give a cautious nod letting him continue. He motions for me to come closer before whispering in my ear.
“Well, it turns out that the day prior, when we were studying. Saki approached Yuuto when he was out walking. Then she confessed and asked him out. He turned her down and she got mad, started going off about how she wasn't good enough and how he must have liked you. Now, of course, he rebuked those claims, saying he liked another girl, but Yuuto is a bit of a wild card if I do say so myself. Anyway, she clearly didn't believe him and that's what started the fight between you and her yesterday.” Nori says, trying to fill me in on the latest Yamaku gossip.
Really? She confessed to Yuuto? I'm surprised, but I'm more surprised that Yuuto shut her down. Saki is pretty, very pretty, even though she is rotten to the core and her personality probably has less appeal than an open sewer grate. To make matters worse, she's used to getting her way. From the fashion club being created on her behalf, to her being able to cut in line for food for no proper reason.Everything thus far in her life has more or less went her way. I guess if you continue to fuel the fire it will eventually get out of hand until it rages out of control. That still doesn't explain why we're inviting him to town with us though.
“That's not all either~!” Nori says, clearly done whispering for the day as he quickly moves away from my ear.
“When you left the class I woke up to Yuuto talking to a crying Saki!” he says gleefully, clearly enjoying being in on the latest gossip.
Remind me not to trust Nori with any of my secrets anytime soon, he seems to get too much joy out of this...
“He told her 'Saki, you can't do stuff like that, It's wrong, I'm flattered, but you shouldn't take it out on Kirino. She had nothing to do with anything.' He said that! So~!” he says ecstatically, after doing a horrible imitation of Yuuto's deep voice and gesturing with his hand like some magician waiting for a response from the crowd.
He pauses for a few moments which leaves me somewhat confused before he finishes his point.
“I invited Yuuto to come with us. To thank him and get his side of the story~!” Nori yells loudly, practically throwing his hands up in the air as he does so. I swear I saw birds fly out of a tree right then...
I let out a sigh and hang my head low and gesture for him to continue walking. I'm too tired to fight, just take me to food.
We walk the next bit in silence, me pouting while Nori practically skips around like something out of a child's cartoon. How in the world does he have that much energy?
Yesterday he was practically out of action for his tired behaviour. Yet here he is, skipping, humming, and acting like the typical Nori. I'm not sure whether to be impressed, worried, or something else? I feel my stomach rumble and groan from within me causing me to shudder. Maybe I should feel hungry. I only hope I have enough money for a decent meal. I have my credit card just in case, but I hate using that thing. Physical money is so much simpler and less intimidating. I let out a silent groan as we approach the gate.
We step out of Yamaku and out past the gate only to be welcomed by a very expected sight, Yuuto.
He leans up against the gate's brick wall, his hand in his pocket, leg pressed on the back of the gate and coat draped over his other shoulder, held lazily by his free hand. I can feel my eyes zone in on his obscured hand, as If expecting his pocket to suddenly become see through, only to reveal a horrifying crab claw. That would be quite the sight If I saw that I would probably cry, run away, and never eat crab again, ever.
“Yo,” Yuuto says as we step up next to him.
I give an acknowledging nod at him, albeit somewhat awkwardly as I try to act cool and unbothered by his presence. Nori, on the other hand, takes a far more liberal approach, throwing an arm around Yuuto's neck and forcing him into a headlock before yelling “Hey~! Yu-kun~!”
Yuuto looks absolutely mortified, yet remains too shocked to say anything. His mouth his wide open like a fish out of the water and his eyes look at me as if they were pleading for help.
Sorry can't help you...Yu-kun.
I laugh at his new ‘nickname’ and his current predicament, maybe this won't be as bad as I first thought. Nori is certainly making it fun to watch, I like seeing Yuuto squirm. Does that make me a bad person? Nah, I think it just makes me like any other person, happy to see an annoyance put into an uncomfortable position.
“Hey, ugh...Akiyama?” Yuuto says curiously his voice somewhat strained and hoarse.
“Yesss~,” Nori says, carrying the word on for longer than he should.
“Can you, maybe, let me go? You're...you're hurting my neck.” Yuuto gives a nervous laugh before being released from his captive bonds.
He lets out a forced laugh before proceeding to rub his neck awkwardly in mild annoyance. He returns from his slumped position back to standing straight, his neck cracking in the process. His posture reminds me of a soldier at attention, that can't be comfortable, so why is he doing it? I want to ask, but refrain doing so for fear of being the only person among us who prefers a lazy posture.
In fact, I think I'll only talk to him if I have to, I don't care how much he “helped” me. I shoot off a sneer in his direction, letting my gaze linger for too long as he turns and looks my way, giving me a somewhat quizzical stare. He catches me mid-sneer and I turn away quickly blushing, damn, caught in the act. Thankfully he doesn't bring it up instead wishing to continue his conversation with Nori.
“So Akiyama, where are we off to?”
“Yu-kun~!” Nori pouts, doing his own imitation of the puppy dog eyes, which I confess may be better than mine.”I told you to call me Nori.” He flares out his cheeks and looks at Yuuto, almost looking like a child. Nori’s disposition has reverted to that of a young child that grows sour as they find difficulty getting their way.
“Ughhh. I'd... rather not..”Yuuto trails off taking a step back from Nori who quickly closes the distance again.
I can see Yuuto begin to shift nervously and awkwardly at being put in this situation. Nori is practically breathing on him, causing Yuuto to lean backwards uncomfortably. Cheeks puffed out, puppy dog eyes boring into what would be Yuuto's soul as he stares at him waiting for either one of them to break. Yuuto runs his hand through his messy brown hair trying to act cool under the understandably awkward situation. Nori doesn't back down, unwilling to adhere to Yuuto's rules, or the rules of social conduct for that matter. I have to admit, that’s a good way to live, not worrying about societal rules.
Yuuto lets out a loud sigh before quickly mumbling “fine.”, he sounds exhausted already and we haven’t even been here for more than five minutes.
“Yay~!” Nori claps and smiles, letting his pout disappear into oblivion,replaced by a gleaming smile.
“So...Aki..N-Nori.”Yuuto stutters, clearly uncomfortable with referring to Nori by his first name. Is he really that much of a dick? Or is he just struggling with his posh, rich manners? The former feels more possible, but then again I might be a bit biassed.
“Where are we going in town? You're not just gonna drag Kirino and me around town for fun are ya?” he jokes, going to nudge me in the shoulder, but then realises I'm too short and retracts his elbow while I glare at him irately.
“How come you have no trouble calling Kirino-Chan by her first name, but not me~?” Nori asks, doing his best to pout again.
“Ughh...well..she’s...she’s...a girl?” Yuuto stutters at a loss for words.
“What's that supposed to mean?” I grimace, looking up at him somewhat ferociously. To be fair it is quite poor, especially considering I have as much intimidation within me as a newborn rabbit.
“N-Nothing...forget I said anything. I'm just gonna shut up now.” He says, visibly slouching where he stands, much to the amusement of Nori; who can barely contain his laughter. Yuuto on the other hand, looks as awkward as I think anyone could possibly be.
“Relax, Yu-Kun~! I'm only teasing!” Nori jests offering a wink at Yuuto ”We're heading to the Shanghai!” he announces, raising his hands towards the sky dramatically as if he were trying to call down the very forces of lightning to guide our way.
Yuuto only grunts in agreement, but I'm left confused. What's the Shanghai? Is that a shop in town? Well, I guess I'm about to find out soon; so there really is no point in me asking any questions. You think with living in this town for almost three years I would have at least known all the shops around here. I guess I'm the only I can blame for this situation.
Well, if they had an anime and manga shop in town, maybe I would leave my room once In awhile. I find the layout of the nearby city far more familiar, which is almost odd considering it takes almost forty minutes by bus to reach there and it takes less than fifteen to get into town. How can someone, let alone a social awkward midget be more comfortable in a city than a small town? Maybe the anonymity of it all? Ignoring my inner questions I give a shrug, letting Nori lead the way down the hill into town.
As we head into town the older wooden buildings and tiled roofs become more visible and distinguished, adding to the allure of this so-called adventure. The sounds of the birds can still be heard quite visibly, while the sounds of cars seem increasingly more rare as we enter the town. Usually, when you get closer to civilisation you hear more cars not less, odd
At least the three of us aren’t alone, I can visibly see a few other students mulling about, not bothering to change out of their uniforms. Most are carrying plastic bags and are heading back to the campus, I suppose that means today must have been ‘grocery day’ for those adventurous souls.
As we venture deeper and deeper into town the once sparse friendly waves grow ever more fierce and my arms soon begin to grow sore after constantly being lifted to wave back to the cheery town folk, many of which consisting an older generation. I honestly consider whether or not I should just keep my arm up in the air in case any more people wish to wave at us. Eventually, we approach a cafe of sorts and Nori holds the door open for the three of us, gesturing for us to enter. We walk in and I realise it's one of those stereotypical tea places teenagers like to visit in high-school mangas or romantic visual novels. With the name Shanghai, I was expecting an old imperial Chinese setting, filled with whatever stereotypes one could imagine.
It seems more western than anything though, despite the name. Even though it's close to school, it looks relatively empty, actually,it is empty. The only people who are here are the three of us standing in the waiting area along with the waitress, wait, is that...Yuuko?
“Yuuko?” I ask curiously at the freckled waitress. Can this actually be our skittish librarian?
“H-Hello, T-thank you for patronising our establishment!” Yuuko erupts in a ferocious blush followed by equally fierce bowing. She bows so quickly and low that I don't even have time to move as her forehead smacks into my head. A loud thunk echoes around the room from the bone on bone conclusion as I stumble backwards rubbing my forehead and wincing, nearly swearing that I can see stars. Yuuko apologises profusely whilst rubbing her forehead in what I can easily empathise with as pain.
Remind me to stay away from her in the near future, that hurt..a lot
“Yu-Chan~!” Nori yells causing Yuuto to jump to attention at the sound of his new nickname. After realising it was directed at the waitress and not him, he visibly calms down and shuts the door behind us gently, “How are you?” Nori continues, his grin spread widely across his somewhat pudgy face.
“I’m not good, not good at all! My head hurts, and I don't really like it here. I'm just here to raise money for my university education. It really wasn't my first choice,but..” she says not even stopping for a breath before she is interrupted by Yuuto who holds his hand up casually.
“Umm Yuuko?” Yuuto asks, wondering what she was going on about I'm sure.
“Sorry, I'm sorry. You asked me a simple question and I start ranting, even though I hate my job. I wish I could just quit.” Yuuko begins another rant before Yuuto brings her back to the real world again.
“Yuuko,” Yuuto says, putting his hand on her shoulder which causes her to both jump back about a foot and blush from ear to ear. “It's fine, don't worry about it. May we please get a seat?” he asks politely, giving her an encouraging smile.
“Y-yes.” Yuuko stutters, embarrassed by her social blunders.
I'm not sure whether to be impressed by Yuuto's skills at solving Yuuko's rant, or confused at how he can go from king of the douches to nice guy with the flick of a switch.
Regardless, we sit down at the table farthest from the door and get comfortable. Yuuto flops down in the booth seat opposite Nori and me, looking irritated and rubbing his stomach as if he was trying to calm it down. I'm guessing I'm not the only hungry person here then. I feel like I'm about to fade away from hunger. I rub my stomach in unison with Yuuto, but my arm keeps hitting Nori. I can't say that when we sat down I got comfortable, as Nori squished me against the damn wall without even noticing. Nori's shoulder digs into my cheek and causes my head to be sandwiched between him and the wooden wall. I let out a groan of discomfort, trying to get Nori's attention in hopes of giving myself even the slightest bit of room.
“Oh, sorry Kirino-chan~!” He apologises, sliding over on the bench to give me more room.
I let out a sigh of relief and get myself more comfortable, folding my hands in my lap and closing my eyes, waiting for Yuuko to come and take our order.
Our red-haired and freckled waitress comes over, still nervous and more than a little flustered. How can one person be so nervous anyway? I feel like I shouldn't be the one to argue this, it’s like the pot calling the kettle black.
“C-Can I take your order?” She asks hesitantly taking out a small pen and pad of paper.
“Do you have any menus?” Yuuto asks, raising an eyebrow.
“We...We do, but.... we're out at the moment......” she trails off quietly.
How can you be out of menus? We're the only people here, where would they go?
Yuuto looks around slowly, as if he was trying to see the very people who had them, but he can't find a single soul other than us four.When he finally does give up, he smacks his lips together and places and order.
“I'll have a black coffee, and a sandwich I suppose.”
“Wh-What kind of s-sandwich do you want. We have umm..” she puts her finger up to her chin as if she was thinking. If she works here shouldn't she know what they serve? Yuuto just looks over at Nori and I confused, to be fair, I am too.
“BLT, Turkey, Tuna, Egg salad, and a few others I think..”
“Well, what do you suggest Yuuko?” Yuuto asks. He instantly releases what he has done and his eyes grow wide as saucers in horror as he realises that just asked the wrong person that question.Yuuko makes the sound of a dying seal, causing both Yuuto and myself to panic in our seats before we realise the source. I look up at Yuuko and see her in a state best described as abject terror. By the reaction alone somebody might gather that either Yuuto just threatened her entire family or asked her a rather lewd question.
“Okay,Okay. I'll ughh take a turkey sandwich.” Yuuto responds awkwardly, holding his hands up as he tries to calm our panicked hostess down. It only seems to work slightly, or at least shift the attention off of him and onto Nori and myself.
Yuuko writes down Yuuto's order on a pad of paper before asking us. Her face remains twisted into a horrified expression as she looks over at us, her mouth slowly closing itself and her eyes are left to continue their horrified gaze alone.
“I'll just have a cup of green mint tea, please,” Nori responds, not missing a beat. I guess he's a regular then.
“I-I'll take a BLT and the same tea as Nori.” I stumble for words, shrinking back in my seat, scared she's gonna panic again. I slide down on the bench and bring my shoulders close together as I try to move away from Yuuko. Unfortunately, I can't move any farther over considering I'm right next to the wall.
“O-Okay, it...will be here soon.” Yuuko bows low before leaving us causing me to loosen up from the small ball I was beginning to huddle myself into.
Yuuto and I let out a sigh of relief at her leaving; she does seem to cause problems where she goes. I’m reminded of a time when I was in the library reading one of their mangas when she quite literally ran away from a student as they asked her whether to read a mystery or science fiction She's not exactly comfortable in her own skin I guess, which is a surprise, especially considering that both of her jobs involve speaking to people.
We wait silently for Yuuko to come back with our drinks. In the meantime, Nori seems pleased as peaches. He has his eyes closed, a smile glued on his face, and his hands are folded neatly on the table in front of him. Compared to Yuuto and I, he looks like it's just another part of his regular routine, which only begs the question, how many times does he go here? More than either Yuuto or I apparently. Yuuto looks fairly bored across from us, playing with his thumbs and scrunching his face around. I guess I probably would do the same in his position; If I even made it that far in the first place.
Yuuko comes over and sets down Yuuto's steaming black cup of coffee in front of him, nearly spilling it in the process due to her shaky hands. She also sets down two cups and a teapot for Nori and me to share. She says something about getting the food in a minute, but all I care about is the tea in front of me. I quickly pour a cup and take a long delightful sip. Ah, not exactly filling,but refreshing. I let out a content sigh and wait for my sandwich. She eventually comes back over and drops off the food which causes my stomach to let out another grumble from within.
I take a bite of my sandwich and quickly swallow, not even giving it the chance to be tasted, or savoured. I let out a sigh of relief and sit up in my seat doing my best not to choke as I almost inhale my food, throwing ladylike manners to the wind. Yuuto took the same approach as I did, starting to eat his sandwich quickly and viciously like a wild wolf. I guess he really did leave his rich-guy manners at the door.
“So, Yuuto. Kirino-Chan and I would like to thank you for yesterday?” Nori says, setting down his tea and looking over at Yuuto, cutting straight to business and throwing away the newly designated nickname.
“For yesterday? I didn't do anything?” Yuuto says confused.
“But you did. You talked to Saki about her fight with Kirino-chan, and effectively defused the situation.” Nori nods as he motions to me.
“I wouldn't say giving her a hug and apologising for turning her down is helping anyone really. Kinda neutral reaction really”
“You did something though, and doing something is better than doing nothing”
“When you put it that way, I guess I did do something.”
Nori nods and motions for me to thank Yuuto, he gets a terrified expression from me in return. He wants me to thank him? Me? The girl who can barely hold a conversation and is scared of attention? I look around quickly, panicked. Hoping to find a way out of thanking Yuuto. Instead, I'm confronted with a chuckle from the boy across the table. I look at him and tilt my head slightly, did he seriously just chuckle?
“She doesn't need to thank me, besides, she doesn't exactly like me.” he says, taking a bite of his sandwich and a sip from his steaming beverage.
Wait. He knows? Well, then again I didn't exactly do a good job of hiding the fact that I didn't like him.
“Oh, I'm sure that's not true. Kirino-Chan likes most people. She's just a tad shy.” Nori laughs in return. What is he talking about? He knows I don't like Yuuto, don't lie to him! Don’t try to sway my feelings!
“Oh? Is that so~? So I guess her sneering at me every class is merely how she says hello?” Yuuto laughs and gives a grin while looking at me.
“Okay, I lied. Sorry Yu-Kun~!” Nori laughs as he takes a sip from his tea. “She only hates you because she doesn't know you~! I don't hate you.” Nori teases with a wink.
I feel Yuuto visibly shudder and a blush spreads across his face. I don't think I've ever seen him blush before, it's kinda adorable. I giggle quietly in the corner at the two of them. Yuuto coughs slightly and tries to return to his normal disposition. The two of them get along surprisingly well, I would never have guessed.
“You barely know me yourself.”
“I can see a good person inside of you. She, thinks you're a jerk though~!”
“A jerk? Well, I guess I do give off that kind of vibe. Hehe”
“Please, Yu-kun~! I think the only thing softer than you is a marshmallow. I saw you gush over that kitten that Hayashi-san snuck in yesterday~!” Nori laughs, causing my tea cup to shake on the wooden table. I'm almost afraid it's gonna tip over and spill its hot contents on me.
A kitten huh? I'm pretty sure the dorm has a strict policy on no-pets. What's even more surprising is how Yuuto “gushed” over it, using Nori's words of course. I can't see him gush over anything, let alone a kitten. He continues to surprise me. Where did this Hayashi kid even get a kitten in the first place anyway? Did he just pick up a stray and smuggle it into the dorm without anyone being the wiser? How much trouble could you even get into?
Yuuto just lets out another sigh before he eats more of his meal, trying to change the subject from anything that could ruin what some would call his ‘reputation’. Nori and Yuuto joke around a bit more, and idly gossip, all while I sit there awkwardly eating my sandwich and drinking my tea. They start talking about how Ritsu Tainaka of Class 3-3 and our own Saya Kousaka are trying to form a band. It’s not really new really, the two of them have been trying to form a band since first year, however, there is still only the two of them. The only other interesting thing that they talked about is the festival coming up in the next few days. Even then I barely say more than a few words, mainly just asking if Nori can refill my tea cup and ordering another sandwich.
We stay at the Shanghai for an hour or so and Yuuto tells us he has to go, he has to meet his “running schedule”, which surprises me. I didn't know you needed a schedule for running, I always figured it was spontaneous. He goes to pay his part of the bill, but Nori refuses,insisting that it's his way of paying him back for the pizza. He eventually relents after a stubborn Nori refuses to budge. He bids us both goodbye and says that we should do this again, albeit on better circumstances and hopefully less awkwardly.
It wasn't all that bad honestly, while I can't say I like Yuuto. I definitely don't hate him, at least as much. Besides, it seems like Nori has made yet another friend. Nori and I pay our bill and head back to Yamaku shortly after keen to return and relax for the remainder of the day. My stomach is full, and I enjoyed hanging with Nori, so I can confidently say that today was pretty good. We part at the dorms and I feel the exhaustion of today's efforts overcome me, practically begging me to head to bed.