Chapter 5: Come On, Tell Me Why Are You So Happy
Sosei discreetly looked towards Shiramori Asumi.
She wasn’t looking back at him, obviously. It was in the middle of lessons. There’s no way she could turn around to look at him all the time.
…Don’t get disappointed just because of that, you dunce.
He chided himself inwardly as he turned to face the board. Just then…
Shiramori twisted her head slightly to catch a peek at him.
She immediately faced forward and two seconds later, spied at him again, this time with a suppressed laugh.
After that, she averted her eyes with no direction in particular. It was very much on purpose. He could tell at once from her body language that she was obviously trying to prank him.
The next time she sent her gaze over here, it wasn’t anything as short as a peek.
She stared at him intently with her neck slightly bent and a pout on her face.
S-So cute… Is she a Homo adorabilis or something…?
Sosei clutched his both hands together tightly and clenched his teeth hard, focusing all his willpower onto an imaginary spot between his eyes. It took his all just to keep himself under control. If not, he’d have let out a roar on the spot and go on a frenzy otherwise.
* * *
So long as he was in the classroom, his eyes would naturally wander towards Shiramori.
In the short interval between lessons, people would go up to her to chat, or she would make her way to their seats. They would share photos or videos on their phones to one another and laugh together joyously. There was never a dull moment around her.
A warm, fuzzy feeling filled his chest as he watched her have fun.
However, the warmth soon transformed into a heat that wouldn’t settle down.
Soon, it became unbearable. He realized that it wasn’t wise to stay in the classroom for much longer.
What is this feeling…
Sosei stood up and left the classroom.
To the toilet… No, I’m not urgent…
Unable to pick a destination, he decided to head to the taps on random. After drinking a mouthful of water and closing the tap, he felt someone approach from behind. He knew with nary a doubt who it was without even the need to check.
That’s when he finally noticed.
Whenever I see Shiramori-san having so much fun with the other classmates, it makes me feel a little lonely—no, it’s jealousy, plain as that. That’s why I can’t help but leave… hoping that maybe she would appear before me. Wondering if she would notice that I wasn’t there anymore and would come out to find me. It shouldn’t be, but perhaps… I was expecting her to…?
Shiramori tapped his shoulder.
He took a deep gulp. He had sensed her approach. And yet, he was surprised when she tapped his shoulder.
He very nearly called her Shiramori-san.
“You still can’t get used to it?”
She clasped her hands around his cheeks and his face turned red.
“Oh, but it made me glad.”
She look puzzled and raised her index and middle finger and moved them around.
Her mind somehow linked to that just because he stuttered a bit? Either way, it’s cute so it doesn’t matter. He couldn’t help but thought so.
“N-Not peace. Peas. Or wait, no. Anyway, I’m just happy…”
“…Is it weird…”
She chuckled and pressed her right index finger against Sosei’s chest.
“You’re so amusing, Sosei.”
“…I-I wouldn’t say so…”
“Not only that. You’re so, you know.”
“Wh-What is it?”
“You’re so cute.”
She looked down as she fidgeted left and right. Then, she faced up at him with upturned eyes and said.
“…Do you dislike that? Me calling you cute.”
He shook his head frantically.
“…N-Not at all… yeah?”
“Really? You’re not forcing yourself?”
“N-Not at all. That’s the first time someone called me that though…”
“No one told you that before?”
“I see. So I’m the first then.”
“…Yeah, I guess.”
Shiramori struck out her right fist. In that moment, Sosei’s mind flashed blank.
H-Huh? Wh-What should I do…?
As he fell into panic-mode, the gears of his mind spinned feverishly for the correct answer. At last, he slowly reached out his right fist and lightly bumped hers.
“Now, that’s something to remember.”
She said so with a wide-face grin.
…It was—the right answer…?
His knees almost gave way.
Without a moment’s delay, Shiramori leaned forward and brought her face close. When he leaned back, he almost fell on his rear.
“Later, in the afternoon.”
“Let’s chat. The two of us. After lunch.”
“…Ah. That… would be great.”
“We’ll meet at the passageway.”
This time, she held out her right pinky.
Sosei instantly curled his own pinky around hers, as if he had turned into an automated pinky-promise making robot.
Her finger is so soft. And small…
Shiramori was one of the tallest girls in class even if she was slightly shorter than him. Still, her legs were definitely longer. Of course, their proportions were largely different owing to the difference between the sexes. Sosei’s hands and feet were much bigger than hers.
In any case, her slender fingers did not felt bony at all. They were cold and soft to the touch.
* * *
When morning lessons ended, Sosei promptly made his way out of the classroom, carrying with him the chicken salad and energy bar he got from the convenience store on the way to school. When he was about to walk past the door, Wakuya Koichiro aka Wack called him to a stop.
Sosei pretended he didn’t hear anything and left the classroom behind. It was only at the corridor did he reconsider.
…I probably shouldn’t have ignored him.
He waited for a while there, and Wack soon came rushing out.
“W-W-Wait up! What, what, what? Huh, you’re not gonna eat that in class, Takarai?”
“…Um, yeah. Right, today’s a little…”
“Hmm, is that so?”
Sosei started walking and Wack followed beside him.
“Can I ask you something?”
“…What is it?”
“Takarai, could it be…”
He gave an exaggerated cough and looked around at their surroundings. Then, he slung an arm around Sosei’s shoulders and whispered into his ears.
“Are you going out with Asumin?”
Sosei just continued walking without turning to face him.
…Is it okay… if I say it? Who knows? I mean, it’s not like it’s a secret or anything. But… is it something to flaunt about… maybe? Still, I don’t want to lie about it. Shiramori-san doesn’t seem to be hiding it either…
In the end, he gave a nod.
“Right? I knew it!”
Wack’s expression loosened and he grinned happily.
“It’s like, everyone’s making a hoo-hah guessing this and that, but I’m not a fan of that. Ah, I see. Asumin, huh. That’s great. Not in that sense, okay? It’s not like I need to think it’s great or what. How do I put it. Anyways, I just think it’s great. Yup. Hmm, I see. Sorry ‘bout hounding you like that.”
“…Nah. It’s fine.”
“And that’s all from me!”
He smacked Sosei’s back heartily a few times and made a gesture like a salute.
Sosei reflexively returned the gesture.
Wack gave him a thumbs-up with a wink before running back to the classroom.
For a while, Sosei stood there without moving.
…That’s the first time I did the ‘Sup’.
* * *
Takarai Sosei wanted to be like a normal high school student you could find anywhere.
Is this okay for someone like me? Me, who died ten times alone last night just to finish off Mochizuki…
Sosei and Shiramori were sitting next to each other by the passageway while other students went back and forth, exchanging what appeared to be conversation.
For all intents and purposes, it was only what appeared to be conversation.
He could barely chime in. The best he could do was to utter something inane like “huh”, or “I see”, or “ah”, or “hmm” and so on in response to Shiramori’s rapid words.
She seemed to have a never-ending list of things to go on about. Like what was so-and-so doing, or what was it they said, and what that led to, or what’s the latest video released by this Youtuber or Tiktoker etc. Most of which he had never even heard about before. The range of topics that made for conversation material deeply impressed him.
“Oh, look at me, I didn’t even noticed I was droning on. I’m sorry.”
“No! Not at all!”
“Ugh, I’m all sweaty now.”
She pulled the neckline of her shirt and fanned herself with her other hand. Indeed, she was perspiring a bit. The beads of sweat on her skin glistened under the strong sun rays.
…So she also sweats like everyone else, huh. I mean that goes without saying.
“What do you usually do after school?”
“Uh, a-after school?”
“Yup. Do hang out somewhere? Or go shopping?”
He folded his arms and pondered.
…I wouldn’t call that hanging out. Shopping… that I do, but I feel like that’s not what she’s talking about…
After all the brainstorming, he squeezed out the name of the nearby shopping center.
“I go to Aeon, sometimes…?”
“I go there all the time too! They really do have everything, don’t they.”
“Yup… you could say that. I can pretty much find everything I need there.”
“Exactly! And there’s food too.”
“Oh, you mean the foodcourt…”
“Yes, that! Moena and I just went recently!”
Moena referred to a classmate named Shige Hina. People called her Moena or Moe from an alternative reading of her name.
“You sure are good friends with Shige, aren’t you, Sh-A-Asumi.”
“Ah! You were about to call me Shiramori again, weren’t you!”
She puffed up her cheeks which almost sent Sosei swooning.
…She looks so cute even when she’s pouting! Her face can freeze in this pose forever and I wouldn’t even mind…
“Then, say ‘Asumi’ ten times.”
“That’s your punishment!”
He silently muttered Asumi ten times under his breath. All the while, he couldn’t meet her eyes.
It’s so embarrassing…
And then, she pointed to herself.
Sosei unwittingly stared deep into her eyes.
“Ding ding ding!”
With her fingers still bent, she said his name.
“Sosei, Sosei, Sosei, Sosei, Sosei, Sosei, Sosei, Sosei, Sosei, Sosei.”
After repeating ten times, she gazed deeply into his eyes. He knew immediately what she was expecting.
He pointed at himself and Shiramori beamed. It was so bright and innocent like something delightful just happened.
She called out his name. Just that alone was enough.
…How come? I’m just so happy it feels like I’ve flown into the heavens.
At first, he had been so self-conscious of the looks from the other students walking by. Now, they didn’t even register in his mind.
Why is it…?
“That’s right, Sosei.”
“Huh?! W-What is it…?”
“Why don’t we go to Aeon after school?”
He instantly slammed his right fist up his jaw.
Of course I would love to. But, after school… After school, at Aeon with Shiramori-san. I wonder what are we going to do there? No matter… as long as it’s with Shiramori-san, whatever we do…
“Do you want to…?”
Her voice was tinged with unease. Seeing that made his heart twinge.
Can I? Me, who died ten times and only killing one…