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The People Around Me Are Only Weird Towards Me
Morning classes were over, and lunch break had begun. I had given it a lot of thought during my first four periods, but I couldn’t figure out how I could resolve this issue, once and for all. No matter how often I tried to get in contact with Mashiro during class, I couldn’t get that reaction I was hoping for. The only things I received from her were LIME messages, saying stuff like ‘Don’t stare like that… it’s embarrassing (//▽//)’, but that’s about it. And the one who was staring was actually Mashiro…
Let’s leave that aside, because I have another idea right now. Time to send Mashiro a message.
[AKI]: Hey, got any plans for lunch break?
[Mashiro]: No, not really. Mashiro was thinking of getting some onigiri at the school store.
Perfect. From the looks of it, she probably won’t be eating lunch with our classmates either. If it’s just the two of us together, we should be able to carry a normal conversation.
“Mashiro. How about we go buy something, and eat it together?”
“Eating together with you would be so tiring. How about you go enjoy your loner meal somewhere else?”
Why? That was the last thing I could think of. I’m all out of ideas over here, chief… Whatever. I’ll forget about Mashiro for now and go get some food at the school store alone.
Getting up from my seat, I swiftly made my way towards the school store. An adequate speed is necessary in order to arrive before the wave of students, of course. Taking a shortcut, I was able to arrive before the other students.
Not saying how many I wanted, I pointed at a single one with my finger. With a minimal amount of conversation with the old lady, I got my bread in the most efficient way. Shortly after, I headed over to the school cafeteria and sat down at an open seat at the counter. This is the most efficient, shortest route to receive enough energy for the afternoon.
Taking the bread out from its plastic wrapping, I was about to take a bite, when…
“I’ll be taking your side~”
Iroha came out of nowhere, sitting down next to me.
“Feeling bad for the loner she came across, this caring and kind-hearted angel descended to keep you company!”
“Did you sniff me out or something? You’re just like a dog.”
“Now now, no need for the tsundere play. I know you’re happy~”
Seeing Iroha wholeheartedly poking at my cheeks and laughing, I let out a very deep sigh.
“I happened to spot you walking down the hallway, so I followed you~ I’d assumed that you’d be eating all alone, filled with sorrow, like always, so I thought I should spend some time with you!”
“Eating alone doesn’t mean that I’m sorrowful. Rather than forcing myself to suffer, enduring that mass of people, eating over here by myself is much more pleasant. Instead of getting wrapped up in some useless, idle chatter, I’ll finish my food quickly.”
“Ahaha, you’re as complicated as always~”
I already have enough things to worry about, and she’s got the nerve to make it even worse. I mean, after she sat down next to me, we’ve attracted the gazes of some students around us.
“Kohinata-san is eating with a boy, see?”
“Who’s that? Was there someone like him?”
I can hear envious voices around me. Like if you’re that jealous, then just switch with me, how about that?
“You’re making us stand out.”
“Is it because of the fake girlfriend setting~? Would it be that bad if you were on good terms with another girl?”
“That’s exactly it. I’m trying to get us into Honey Plays, so just help me out here.”
I have a contract with the company president Tsukinomori, after all. After our graduation from high school, he’ll unconditionally take us, the members of the [5th Floor Alliance], under his wings at Honey Plays Works, regardless of academic performance. But in exchange, I have to play the role of Mashiro’s fake boyfriend, supporting her throughout her school life and protecting her from the worms who could bring harm to her. Apparently it was important that I didn’t have a girlfriend in the first place, and for the duration of this contract, I’m not allowed to get one either, or the deal’s over with.
“Mmm… Well, it should be fine. There aren’t many students who know about Senpai, after all.”
With those words, Iroha opened up her lunch box. Though I wanted to complain about my peaceful lunch being interrupted, when I looked at the juice carton next to her lunch, I understood why she was here. It was a brand exclusive to our school cafeteria, containing 100% concentrated tomato juice made from Chiba Prefecture tomatoes. That was her aim, I see.
Well, looking at her like this, it really doesn’t seem like she has any intention of leaving me alone. Not to mention that she doesn’t seem to care about the stares we’re receiving in the slightest.
“Just act normal, I tell you. They’ll start being doubtful if you act strangely.”
“Might be right about that, yeah.”
“Of course I am~ Now now, you’re enjoying lunch with a total cutie like me, so please enjoy it more. Ah, do you want some rolled egg? I’ll feed you if you want?”
Iroha’s laid-back attitude made me heave another sigh.
“You’re making such an exasperated expression again. They say that every time you sigh, a bit of happiness leaves your body, you know? Well, a loner like you wouldn’t have a high happiness gauge to begin with!”
“Sighing helps me relax my autonomic nerves, so it’s actually good for my health.”
“Is that so~~~ (indifferent)”
Why’d you speak out that indifferent part in the first place? You looking down on me?
“Also, you’re one of the reasons I’m sighing like that, so reflect on that a little, will you?”
Iroha took out a smartphone, and with the expected speed of a JK, started tapping on it.
“Lookie!”, she proudly declared as she showed me a formula she had quickly scribbled down on one of those memo pad apps.
“A sigh equals good health, and I equal the origin of the sigh… So basically, I equal good health, don’t I!? So Iroha-sensei’s annoyingness is actually a detoxin! You can start by showing me your gratitude!”
“If only your head would work as fast with other problems.”
And thus, I let out another sigh. If I have to keep up with Iroha’s conversation any longer, my happiness might actually run away from me. If I have to talk with her, I’d like to have a conversation that I can actually benefit from.
—A beneficial conversation, huh.
Well, she is a live example of an adolescent high school girl. Maybe she might have some hints for me as what’s going on with Mashiro’s attitude. Not to mention, she’s the only other person who knows about the LIME confession. The reason that she’s not teasing me about it is probably a bare-minimum level of consideration on her side, so I might as well test my luck.
“Hey, Iroha. I know that it doesn’t fit your knowledge at all, but I’d like to ask something concerning a maiden’s heart.”
“Aren’t you being bit rude with that!? I’m a fully-fledged maiden, you know?”
“Mm? Ahh, now that you say it.”
“Senpai, do you think that you can say anything just because it’s me?”
“I let loose what I want to let loose.”
“You’ll regret it if you don’t treasure me enough, you know? A girl this cute who doesn’t even have a boyfriend, who flocks to Senpai’s side at all times, you should consider yourself lucky, you know?”
“Yeah yeah, can we get to the main topic now?”
“Hmpf. I’m actually serious… Well, whatever. What is it?”
Iroha was the first one to get back to the topic at hand, puffing out her lips in the meanwhile.
The moment I uttered Mashiro’s name, Iroha’s shoulders twitched.
“About that, you know… The message, you’ve seen it yourself, right?”
“…Yes, that’s right?”
“And I was giving it a lot of thought as to how I should respond—”
I gave her a simple overview of the situation.
About how I wanted to give Mashiro a response, and how I ended up being completely ignored. About her cold treatment towards me in reality, but her oh-so-sweet maiden-like blabbering via LIME. I really want to honestly face Mashiro and her feelings, not with a LIME message, but rather face to face. But in the end, I haven’t gotten any opportunities to do that yet.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been confronted with such a situation, so I’m a bit lost on what to do…”
Bracing myself for the incoming embarrassment, I laid bare my feelings before Iroha. Being troubled by a girl’s confession like this, and I’m showing her my weak point…
Why did I come up with the idea to ask Iroha for advice again? I don’t know. Maybe since she’s the only one who knows of the confession?
“Hey, Iroha. What should I d……… Iroha?”
I realized. That Iroha not once reacted in any way during my monologue.
Looking at my side,
Puffing out her cheeks like a blow-bag, small, glimmering tears were building up in the corners of her eyes.
Eh, what? What kind of reaction is that?
Iroha is a human palette of emotions, and she’s constantly throwing the weirdest expressions at me, but this is the first time I’ve seen her like that. Just out of curiosity, I’d feel like poking her with a needle, but that idea is better off staying confined within my head. This reaction isn’t something I can even to try to understand, but there’s one thing I can say with confidence.
—She’s seriously pissed.
“Hmmmpf. So you’ve been racking your head this earnestly about Mashiro-senpai’s confession, of all people. Hmmmmmmm.”
“What do you mean ‘all people’? This is the first time in my life that someone has ever confessed to me, you know.”
“Ahhh, is that so? I see~ I see~”
“W-What’s with you.”
“First time, in your life, that someone, confessed to you, huh. The first time you’ve ever been appealed to with an ‘I like you’, huh?”
“That way of phrasing it makes it sound like there’s something I missed, but what’s a first is a first. What are you so mad about?”
“I see, I understand it veeeeeery well now. It seems that Senpai only counts grown-up, pure, beauties that you want to protect as girls, I see!”
“No, that’s not really it… Hey, where are you going?”
When Iroha suddenly got up from her seat, I called out to stop her. As I did, she turned around, and…
“I’m casting a curse against this dense devil so that every girl around him turns into a pure type!” she said, sticking out her tongue as she pulled one eyelid down, and walked away.
“Ah, hey! You forgot your lunch box!”
“Wash it and give it back to me later!”
Forcing me to wash the lunch box that she brought with her, this is way too annoying, even for Iroha. At first I thought she was joking, but she completely ignored my words and tramped out the school cafeteria. And of course, nobody in our crowd of spectators missed that.
Kohinata-san was really mad as she left, right?
He probably got rejected. Eat shit!
Well, never mind that. Whatever those idiots are all talking about doesn’t have anything to do with me. But, making Iroha mad like this is a big problem. But, how? Did I step on some landmine by accident?
“What’s up with her now…?”
So in the end, I didn’t get any advice about Mashiro. Rather, it feels like another problem is in the making.
Wondering if this was my unlucky year or something, I felt the smartphone in my pocket vibrate. It was a LIME message, from none other than Iroha.
[Iroha]: SENPAI, YOU IDIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!!!
Honestly, nothing makes sense anymore. It’s relatively rare for Iroha to insult me head-on like that. In her vocabulary that compromises of many ages, countries, and places, it’s less about abusive language, but it feels rather like, how do I say it, some fine arts. There were times when she’d playfully insult me when she lost in something, but not at a time like that.
What a blunder. Mashiro, then Makigai Namako, and now even Iroha, they’ve all went crazy on me. What in the world is happening around me?
As I was frozen, staring at the screen absentmindedly, the speakers in the cafeteria crackled, and a transmission came in.
“2nd year, Ooboshi Akiteru-kun. 2nd year, Ooboshi Akiteru-kun. Please come immediately to the student counselling office.”
What came from the speakers was Sumire’s voice, in her queen mode.
“I don’t know who that’s supposed to be, but he’s been called in by the queen, you know?”
“Hey, hey, hey, hey”
“That guy’s done for.”
After the sudden transmission, the people around me started to get noisy.
Cold sweat ran down my forehead. Of course, it’s not like I was afraid, being called out by her. Knowing that good-for-nothing woman’s personality, nobody would feel any fear when it came to her. It’s not that.
Mashiro, Makigai Namako-sensei, Iroha. It’s been a storm of problems, one after another, so far. This shouldn’t be happening.
Currently, Sumire—Murasaki Shikibu-sensei’s deadline is in about a week. She should still have time. But with the current flow of things, I can’t shake off the possibility that there might have been some sort of problem.
“I have a mountain-load of stress already, and you’re also trying to get in my way, Murasaki Shikibu?!”
Holding my head to quell my raging headache, I made my way to the student counselling room on heavy feet.
“Akiteru-sama, I have finished the illustrations one week before the deadline!”
“Why are you all taking me by surprise today?!”
The student counselling room. After being called by the ‘Poisonous Queen’s orders, I made my way to her castle. The room with several torturing devices (replica) bought as necessary material for her work. Entering the room, I was greeted by a procrastinating Sumire, showing me the screen of her laptop, forcing those words out of my mouth.
“Eh? Eh? Why am I being scolded?! Even though I did a good job?!”
“Why is it that out of all days, you make it in time for your deadline?! Ahhhh, my plans are being shredded apart! What’s going on?!”
If you finished it, show it to me the normal way! Why are you prostrating in front of me!?
“Haa…Huff…Ugh…Shit, to think that I’d be this weak against the irregular today.”
Putting one hand on my chest, I took a deep breath. Throwing all the information at hand and all the happenings I had to deal with into a bowl, I mixed it all up to come up with the most efficient way to move forward.
I had anticipated Murasaki Shikibu-sensei would miss her deadline like always. Of course, actually making it in time was good for me, and she’s not to blame, but with all these unexpected happenings, my head can’t keep up. It’s overloading.
“D-Did I do something bad…?”
“No, you didn’t do anything bad, Murasaki Shikibu-sensei. Excuse my sudden outburst just now.”
I gave an honest apology to Murasaki Shikibu-sensei, who was looking up at me with tears in her eyes. That’s justified, it’s completely my fault for screaming at her. Still, to think that the day would come where I would be the one apologizing inside the student counselling room, of all places. Well, Sensei’s the one prostrating, not me.
“Anyways, good work on that. Please don’t overwork yourself for the next request. Watch anime throughout the night as much as you want, and, uhm, draw OneexShota with your fantasies running wild, or whatever…”
Giving my words of gratitude(?), I turned around on my heels, until Sumire once again called out to me from behind.
“U-Uhm, Akiteru-sama. Actually, I have a request, see~ Something like a reward for finishing the illustrations this early~ It’s a favor I’d very much appreciate from you.”
“Favor? Will that end up taking much time?”
“Y-Yes, it might end up taking a bit of time.”
“I’m sorry. Can we move that to a later date? I’ll be leaving early today, since I have a fever.”
“E-Eh, are you okay?!”
“I’ll just have to cool down my head a bit… If you’d excuse me.”
Leaving the confused Sumire behind in the counselling room, I stepped into the hallway on unsteady feet.
Mashiro’s confession, the rift between her soft, sparkly LIME messages, and her cold treatment in reality.
Makigai Namako’s happy-go-lucky horror game script.
Iroha’s unreasonably pissed-off mood.
Sumire’s illustrations being finished before the deadline.
Today of all days, irregularities keep piling up, one after another. Concerning Mashiro’s feelings, I gave it some serious thought, and I wanted to give her a straight answer, but I wasn’t able to find a good chance for that. And then, all these confusing happenings that normally wouldn’t happen keep messing with my mind—
I feel like a PC, forced to boot up one program after another in rapid succession. Of course, I’d end up lagging behind in my capabilities. Anyways, I’ve gotta take it slow today and get a good night’s sleep.
…Damnit, even though this isn’t the time to be stalling. There’s no time for us, no time for the members of the [5th Floor Alliance] to take it easy like this. Naturally, they’re not the ones at fault.
Not to worry, tasks of this degree won’t make me break down so easily.
「Ahahaha. They’re all cute, but they can be pretty hard to deal with.」
「Why aren’t there any worthwhile girls around me…」
「What does it matter? They’re all beautiful, right? You’ll be cursed by everyone if you accept this as something natural, you know.」