Apparently, it doesn’t work every time I want it to.
Which is awful, now that I think about it. How awesome would it be if I could use that all the time, really? If I had the control over that gift, I would be able to prevent disasters, avoid problems and even fight crime. But better than all that, we wouldn’t have been late for Reikoku-sensei’s class by an entire thirteen seconds.
What scared us the most was that not only she was waiting for us at the door but that she didn’t say a single word until we got past her. In fact, there was not a single sound in the classroom and it seemed to me that my classmates were just dolls made of flesh because Ryo, Kouma and I were the only ones moving and it surely was not as if we had much of a choice. The rest of the class was standing dead still, but most likely because they knew that we, who against all odds received a five minute tolerance from the most feared teacher in the school and yet seemingly broke it I defiance were the ones who were closest to death.
It was a mixture of pure respect with a strong desire not to join the about-to-be-killed party, and it disturbed me that they seemed quite used to it. Had anything like this ever happened before? What was the outcome of the previous group or individual’s actions? Who will bury our bodies?
It doesn’t really matter. I don’t think we’ll live to find an answer to any of those questions. Since it is my time to go, I shall leave with no regrets. It was a good life, anyway.
No, not really.
“Take your seats. Class is about to start.” Our homeroom teacher said in monotone and almost mechanically we obeyed: I think it is common sense that we pushed our luck as far as we could for a year or probably, a whole lifetime. Does that mean we’re not going to die today? Well, I suppose at least not immediately. This is great, right? Right? I suppose so, since I haven’t even gotten a chance to lead a good life so far. So, in this situation even having an awful past is a good thing, right?
No, not really…
Full stop. I know where this is going and I don’t want to walk that road again. I need to think positive. Yeah, think positive. This kind of thought hasn’t taken you anywhere in the past and you decided to change this on your own today, right? Keep that in mind and you will be fine. That whole incident wasn’t dangerous at all, and there is no teacher that would kill students just for being late. You are only being over-dramatic, as always.
“Aah, that was dangerous. You could really have died there.”
Theatrically I turned to face the person that uttered those words and tell her ‘you are not helping at all,’ and then I noticed there was someone else sitting by my side other than Kouma Yon. While my bipolar I-am-not-so-sure-if-I-can-call-her-a-friend was quietly on my left side, the high pitched voice that warned me came from the opposite direction.
"Aah, hello! My name is Morimoto Ayaka! Nice to meet you!"
"Oh, hello. I'm Koukishin Shinzou, but you can call me Shin-tsu." I stop myself for a while and think. This girl is not familiar to me, and I have a fairly decent memory for faces and voices. We obviously didn’t meet Monday, otherwise she wouldn’t be introducing herself today. Also, while Kouma was sitting I guess. Oh, right; focus. "Sorry to ask, but I don't remember you being here when I was introduced to class. Why haven't we met before?"
The girl giggled. Clearly, an easily amused person.
"Aah, that day. I had a cold and stayed home. I feel much better now, though!" She surely looked pretty much radiant to me. "Aah, I came to school yesterday and heard about you, but you weren't here. Did you catch a cold too?"
Now, what kind of poor, infantile logic was that? Is she serious? Everyone I talk to in this city seems to be slightly weird, but so far they have been closer to the eccentric genius type than the happy-go-lucky with a stupid and clearly unfitting verbal tic. Even if I accept this world as a fictional work that kind of character won’t fit here at all. Not that I am pleased with the way this world is, but inserting this kind of wannabe-moe character in such a weird story would be unacceptable. Well, unless…
…unless this is just a farce. That would definitely fit and advance the plot. That would also be something that voice would say, so I’d better stay away from thoughts like this. For now, at least.
Suddenly, a piece of paper appears on my desk.
Considering the events that happened so far in the story, I am not sure if I should touch it or not. You know, ‘once bitten, twice shy’ and stuff. However, it came from Kouma’s direction, it was considerably bigger than a business card and it had words written on it. Better-than-decently handwritten kanji (which means Ryo wasn’t the one who wrote them) with small characters above that, different from the kanji, that I could actually memorize; the furigana allowed me to understand what the rather complex ideograms meant.
What I didn’t understand was why Kouma Yon was acting so considerate of me today. I mean, she actually was nice enough yesterday for me to start wondering what was going on with her, but since I made her leave when our teacher arrived (which doesn’t sound very friendly, no matter how I look at it) I assumed she would be slightly more… angered, perhaps? She did whisper something to me this morning that suggests that she got the wrong idea of last night’s events, but why be discrete when she could easily make Ryo suspicious of me by saying it out loud? Maybe that’s how she evens things in her head. I’m not so sure right now, and I might never be: understanding that girl sounds like an extremely hard task to me.
For now, I’d better stop daydreaming and start reading her message.
I don’t really care about your relationship with Reikoku-sensei.
What kind of an opening line was that? Am I supposed to answer that? How? Not only that, why does that sound so absurdly tsundere to me? Was Reikoku-sensei right about Kouma’s personality, then? And why would someone bring an orange ink pen to school, for heaven’s sake? It’s not even practical!
Focus: confusion is exactly what she is expecting from me, because confusion often leads to errors. Right now this is a battle field and I must defend myself while showing my own fangs in order to avoid another attack. Against an ambiguous non-question as hers, a straight faux-answer seemed to be the only way to go.
Good, because there isn’t any. Not of the kind you are thinking there is, anyway.
Then I realized that Kouma Yon is ambidextrous, but I wish I had found that out under more normal circumstances. She barely looked at my reply and started writing back right away with her left hand, while easily copying text from the blackboard to her notebook with the right one (which is a very impressive skill that must require a lot of training and good coordination from the start). I guess it would be safe to assume that she already had her next line ready before I handed her the paper. Soon came the confirmation to that thought, and I was not pleased to find out that my intuition was proven right.
Oh, and what would that be?
Great, now she’ll just play stupid and expect me to keep speaking until she gets enough evidence to prove her points. Well, I’m not going to fall for that. That game is something that can be played by two individuals.
Don’t do that. Don’t pretend to be pure and naïve on the subject when you called me “teacher’s pet’ earlier today. You know exactly what I am talking about.
While I probably should not respond like that to someone playing the role of super detective in her head, I assumed it would be the best way to deal with Kouma: to fight cynicism with more cynicism.
She comes to your house at night and you need to hide the fact that there was another girl with you. Not only that, you knew it was her before you even looked through the looking glass, which implies that you knew she would visit you. Could it be that our teacher has gone to your house at the same time since day one? And what kind of “extracurricular affairs” would a male student and a female teacher have need resolved during nighttime?
So, Kouma does care about my relationship with Reikoku-sensei. To be honest, I even detected a hint of jealousy in her words. However, pointing that out right now would probably just make this discussion worse and not help me at all with my argument. Therefore, my only option is to distract her from the core of the subject as much as I can. Reikoku-sensei would get into serious trouble if rumors like those spread, and I don’t want anyone to be hurt just for caring about me. As a reply, let me see… Oh, I know: reductio ad absurdum seems to be a good way out.
Now you’re just being unreasonable. Seriously, do you really think someone like me would be able to successfully seduce our teacher? Not only that, but in a single day?
When I looked at Kouma Yon after delivering the piece of paper, it initially seemed to me that my argument had found a reluctant target. After a few moments of observation, however, her deep sigh gave me an idea of what would come in the next message. Apparently I had won, although not without some sort of resistance.
You obviously could have talked to her before, just like you did to Ryo-chan before coming here. However, even if you had the chance to talk to our teacher before, it does sound impossible for someone like you to even attract the attention of someone like Reikoku-sensei.
That one actually offended my pride, but I’d better deal with it. A victory that requires some sacrifice is probably better than losing. It comes along with the job, I suppose.
Trying to look completely innocent (which technically, I am), I turned to face Kouma and saw her twirling her finger in the air. I’m not sure if I was distracted or something, but it certainly took me some time to understand what she meant by that gesture. As I turned the piece of paper around I saw what she meant by that hand sign. There was more.
What’s happening, then?
There were two paths I could follow, and choosing between them would directly affect my future, mostly because of the Butterfly effect. However, this time I think the typhoon will happen here in Japan. And yes, I know that’s not exactly how it works. I just needed an analogy, so go ahead and sue me.
I could either lie and keep lying until everyone found out or tell her a plausible yet toned down version of the truth and hope that she doesn’t investigate any further. Despite my reputation, I don’t consider myself a good liar, therefore, the solution to that problem is obvious.
It’s really hard to explain, but Reikoku-sensei is taking care of me, nothing more than that. Truth is, I don’t handle being alone in that big house very well. I’m really sorry I freaked out last night, I don’t know what I was doing. Now that I think about it, I had no reason to make you leave. Could you forgive me?
I saw the eyes of Kouma Yon moving quickly and reading the paper not once, but four times, like it was a business contract where she assumed the other party had planted some kind of trap clauses in microscopic writing font. I wonder if this is how obscure spiritual entities feel when offering deals to people in this century. Now that I think about it, I could have asked how they felt. I’ve had many, many chances to do so. Instead, I would just run to save my life. Now I’ll have to hope to meet another one in order to find out. Wait, what?
She crushed the paper and threw it at her bag, without any apparent intention of proceeding with the interrogatory. Then she looked at me, and her face was the same but somehow looked slightly different. It doesn’t make much sense even to me, and it makes me wonder if I’m the only one on Earth that can see the small hints of emotions in her face.
That was pretty much it.
After that, we went back to that particular state where she practically doesn’t talk to me that is not as uncomfortable as the state where she locks arms with me for no apparent reason. I guess that means things are alright between us then. At least enough for Ryo not to suspect anything during lunch.
No memorable events happened from that moment until the end of classes, except maybe for the occasional small talk with Ayaka, who unlike the other people I know in this town, is not a disguised teenage expert at anything or a grown woman who is probably unreasonably feared by the ones who should feel at ease around her in order to learn as much as they can in an environment they find safe. And yes, since even my dear friend Shiina Ryo showed an exquisite side to her I wasn’t aware of when I needed help, I cannot count her as a ‘normal’ person anymore.
Morimoto Ayaka was just your normal, regular, common, usual, habitual, familiar, ordinary, plain, standard air head girl character that would have no particular characteristic worth describing if it wasn’t for her cartoon-like verbal tic (which she forgets occasionally, and makes me wonder if she didn’t subconsciously develop that in order to blend in). It was nice to talk to someone that could actually speak like someone my age is supposed to speak, even if her topics are a little bit dull when compared to the information dumps I get from everyone.
No wonder I was suspicious of her in the beginning. I never get to meet normal people.
The students quickly left the room after the school bell rang to announce the end of classes for that particular day, leaving behind only Kouma Yon, Shiina Ryo and the transfer student that prefers to be called by a nickname that he doesn’t even remember how, when or why he got it. Said student would have happily followed the hordes to the mystic gates that led to the world outside if it weren’t for his unusual friends who apparently couldn’t discuss how the plot of the game they were currently working on should go and walk at the same time. The student was extremely disappointed at their lack of ability in multi-tasking, but also knew that with those two, the best thing to do was waiting.
“I will speak to you now.” It was not a question or a request, like people usually do when they want to have a conversation with each other. My teacher, just as my friends, seems to have absolutely no common sense. She briefly looked at Ryo and Kouma, who stood by my side. “In private.”
As the girls hurried out like they saw something awfully life threatening (and they probably did, if you think about how the other students react to our teacher), Reikoku-sensei proceeded.
“In the future, please refrain from being late and having the girls conceal the evidence of your laziness. Consider this as a warning, because it’s your first offense. It won’t work, and you’ll just make everyone worry about you.”
Maybe it was because I already expected most of that or because I have a sort of selective attention deficit, but it is fact that the only element that interested me was the one that was completely new in that kind of speech.
“Were you worried, sensei?”
“I don’t know where you picked that idea from. I never said such thing.”
And yet she didn’t deny it.
“…thank you, sensei.”
“You’re welcome,” she said while sorting papers. “Now I would be pleased if you go and stay out of trouble, although I am fully aware that you will ignore the latter part.”
“How much do you know, sensei?”
“Nearly nothing, but enough to see that having two girls walking around asking questions of practically everyone on the school staff is an easy way of getting attention. I won’t ask you to tell me what are you up to, but your group should be slightly more careful. Considering that the three of you are working on something that requires secrecy, that is.”
“Understood.” I bowed, which seemed slightly unnecessary a second after I did it. “We’ll be more careful from now on.”
“Excellent. You may go now. Just be sure to let your friends know that I do not like it when my students stay outside the room trying to listen to conversations I specifically classified as ‘private,’ will you?”
The incredibly fast sound of footsteps rhythmically stomping the floor that followed came from the hallway and seemed to fill the whole school.
“Seriously, how did you know that?”“Oh.” Reikoku-sensei bit her pencil softly and grinned. “I didn’t.”