Chapter 14:

And so, Youko Miyake tries to sympathize...


Authors note: to whomever chose this as staff pick in featured novels, i shall forever praise you.

Also, since I'm currently in summer, I'll be experimenting with my writing and will try to see if I can manage to push out more chapters in a single week. Thank you for being patient with these weekly release dates!

“Hey, are you hungry, Ki-kun?” I said mockingly.Bookmark here

There were no movements that came out of him, only continuing to gape at the food ahead of us.Bookmark here

I leaned forwards and rested my arm onto his shoulder with the speculation that he was just heavily absorbed in the food that we could smell. “You’re hungry, aren’t you?”Bookmark here

Okumori didn’t nod nor shake his head to my joking question, causing me to form a difficult smile on my face once I had realized his ignorant silence.Bookmark here

However, my smile eventually vanished as I continued to observe him.Bookmark here

His jealous eyes started to become no more. His desirous eyes turned into a violet-colored, wide pupil, and lifeless-like eyes.Bookmark here

I removed my arm away from him and stood to his left, keeping quiet as I realized his glum demeanor.Bookmark here

As I continued to observe him, I'd soon realize that his eyes were spiritless and more lusterless than ever before; more dead than his usual stiff glare.Bookmark here

Mutely, I eyed him in dismay, then eventually following to where his emotionless eyes led from curiosity.Bookmark here

I’d spot a single table with four chairs, with each hazel chair occupied by what seemed to be a group of girls around our age. Unlike us, they had been conversing in glee and giggling every few seconds.Bookmark here

Four girls. Four seats.Bookmark here

All wore trendy outfits, such as ripped jeans or skirts, jackets or plain-loose sweatshirts, canvas sneakers or sandals, stylish hairbands and hair ties, and even bracelets that seemed a little too big on their delicate, smooth wrists.Bookmark here

While Okumori continued to focus his eyes towards them, I took the chance to land my eyes at one of them, which was a girl who had a perky, and vibrant smile.Bookmark here

She had straight brunette hair that reached down to her nape, followed with a cute bun on top, and a pink hairpin towards the right that stopped her bangs from reach her face.  She seemed to be the most extroverted out of them all, having an aura of exhilaration that came out of her every time she spoke.Bookmark here

Then, beside her, was a girl’s whose jet-black hair stopped at her shoulders. She had crystal-like blue eyes, and a grin that was evidently fabricated to make it seem that she fit in with the group. It was clear as day that she was an extremely sheepish, and bashful girl who was just trying to have some type of felicity in her life.Bookmark here

Beside the withdrawn female, was a short girl. Supposedly a first-year, her attitude seemed to be alike with the first girl; a jaunty and festive personality. Bookmark here

She had platinum-blonde hair that touched her spine, and a face akin to a doll. Though, the only difference between the two in terms of personality was how air headed the short one seemed. Currently, she had been laughing extremely hard, holding her stomach and wiping her tears concurrently, which caused her almost to fall backward from her seat.Bookmark here

There was a feeling of panic that flowed throughout my body as I spectated her. But, thankfully, the fourth and final girl beside her, caught her chair with ease, supposedly due to how light the short girl was.Bookmark here

I gazed upon the final girl, and instantly realized that it was a girl who seemed to be the most mature out of everyone.Bookmark here

She was a little shorter than the black and brown haired girl, but instead overpowered them in maturity. The feeling of matureness from her stood out as if she was some type of black sheep that herded along with the white ones, and it could even rival something like a lion itself.Bookmark here

Her silver hair bangs covered her forehead, and had some hair sticking out on the side which looked cute. The rest of her hair was also styled in a three-strand braid, that also reached down her lower spine. Bookmark here

It was seemingly clear that she had taken a shower before arriving in the mall due to her shiny hair. She also had glossy, smooth white skin, along with a mole that was present on her left cheek. Bookmark here

Her eyes were of like a yellow-gem that sparkled in the bright sunlight, and her smile was of a generous and compassionate one, combined with soft-hearted nods that she gave out towards the short girl she was helping as she pushed the seat back to its original place.Bookmark here

But, as I peered at their close friendship, I could see nothing wrong with what was happening.Bookmark here

“... Do you know one of them… Okumori-kun?”Bookmark here

He stood still, not responding to my query. His eye bags were heavier than usual, and the atmosphere of what seemed to be abomination started to overwhelm me.Bookmark here

His breathing was non-existent, his eyes didn’t scan anywhere else, and his body didn’t move a single inch. The only visible movements were his black hair that swayed in the wind every time someone walked past us, to which his bangs would fly upwards for what seemed to be a second, then eventually landing back onto his temple.Bookmark here

I breathed in, then out. I lifted my hand and hovered it above Okumori’s shoulder with hesitation, then lowering it and firmly grasping it.Bookmark here

“Hey, Ki-kun!” I shook him. “Do you like ramen?”Bookmark here

His cold stare disappeared almost instantly as he felt my grip on his shoulder. He shut his eyelids and opened them in repetition, seeming to snap out of his zoning out session. Then, his head sluggishly moved to face mine, only to present a catatonic face.Bookmark here

“Y-You don’t...?” I asked with an irksome grin.Bookmark here

He then promptly returned his gaze back to the girls, seeming to disregard my presence.Bookmark here

I cleared my throat.Bookmark here

“Huuuh? You don’t like ramen?! You’re one of those guys?! You’re weird, Ki-kun! I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like ramen!”Bookmark here

I stepped closer as I facetiously insulted him. Bookmark here

He grunted with displeasure, and moved his head slightly towards the right.Bookmark here

“You’re probably one of those guys who like… Erm… Wasabi, or, err, spicy curry! You definitely like spicy stuff, don’t you?!”Bookmark here

There was a brief pause in his livid mood, which became combined with a perplexed one while his left eyebrow arched angrily.Bookmark here

“Ohmigod. You actually like spicy things?”Bookmark here

His expression had the words of: “Is that weird?”Bookmark here

“B-But it’s so painful! It’s like… Bleh! Or…” I stuck my tongue out and panted as an example, then retracting it. “And like, my tongue goes on fire! It’s so super-duper hot! I think I cried when I first tried wasabi!” I exclaimed, followed with a shudder. “You like experiencing that type of pain?!”Bookmark here

He replied with a diffident nod.Bookmark here

I stepped backward and got into a defensive stance. “You’re scary, Ki-kun!”Bookmark here

This time, he didn’t respond, and now had been avoiding any eye contact with me by looking over to the right. Bookmark here

“I didn’t say I hate ramen...” He violently muttered at me.Bookmark here

A smug look appeared on my face after seeing his passionate reply.Bookmark here

“Well, you could have just said so!” I said, with my hand currently placed on his shoulder as I rattled him around. “It’s decided! We’re getting ramen!”Bookmark here

Okumori finally faced me and watched me with a face devoid of expression. He bobbed his head after hearing my declaration, then started to relocate his eyes back onto the group of girls that continued to merrily converse with each other.Bookmark here

I grabbed his wrist and jerked him forwards before he could land his eyes on them once more, and pulled him over to the nearby ramen shop. It only took us a few steps, but it was enough to grab Okumori’s attention and pull it away from the girls he scowled upon.Bookmark here

“So? Whaddya want, Ki-kun?” I asked in a high-pitched tone, with my head slightly slanted to the right.Bookmark here

He appeared to be startled, presumably from how suddenly I had pulled him over. He took a deep breath, seeming to recollect his thoughts, before looking upon the menu.Bookmark here

It took us a few minutes to actually get our orders due to Okumori's lack of communication towards the woman who stood behind the counter. The mood between them was frankly humiliating to watch, so much so that I had to intervene and order for him.Bookmark here

After a few minutes, we now had been sitting down on a seat, in front of each other.Bookmark here

I pulled out my chopsticks while eyeing the miso ramen I had ordered. The smell of noodles as well as the steam that rose from the bowl smacked against my face, and it made me blink furiously. Bookmark here

Can I really finish all of this? I mean, there’s so much…Bookmark here

I looked up and spotted Okumori’s order. The soup was in the color of dark orange, and the aroma that it gave out was purely menacing. Bookmark here

I gawked at his bowl and gulped. “I-Is that spicy…?”Bookmark here

He firmly nodded.Bookmark here

“Is that spicy tonkatsu ramen?” I anxiously ask, glancing over to my bowl. “I mean… It’s going to be very spicy, you know!”Bookmark here

I looked up at him again, and saw that he already had been chewing his food as he stared at me stoically.Bookmark here

“... How high is your spice tolerance?”Bookmark here

He swayed his head right to left, as if he was saying “So-so.”Bookmark here

“That’s not ‘so-so!’ That’s extreme!” I pointed at him.Bookmark here

His eyes formed into droopy eyes, which seemed like an irritated stare. He’d use his chopsticks to pick noodles up from the bowl, then inserting it inside his mouth, all the while continuing to eye me. Bookmark here

It was just as if he was mocking me.Bookmark here

“F-Fine!” I angrily muttered. “Enjoy experiencing the pain!”Bookmark here

Okumori didn’t seem to care, and tiredly shut his eyes before opening them again as he continued to eat.Bookmark here

I’m going to train my spice tolerance once I get home! I definitely am!Bookmark here

I snared some noodles using my chopsticks and slurped them bitterly, only to regret it a second later.Bookmark here

Because of how envious I was about Okumori’s extraordinary tolerance of spice with his tonkatsu ramen, I had completely disregarded my own miso ramen. Bookmark here

The excruciating hotness that my tongue was met with was almost unbelievable.Bookmark here

Shoot! I forgot to blow on it!Bookmark here

It felt like it was boiling in my mouth, and I ended up spitting it out from what seemed to be pure instinct. Bookmark here

I shut my eyes and squealed loudly with my hands cupped over my mouth, as well as my legs under the table kicking up and down in a frantic manner to try to cope with the throbbing pain.Bookmark here

I’d slowly regain my calmness after a few seconds, breathing in and out due to the panic I had just experienced.Bookmark here

“S-Sorry—”Bookmark here

I opened my eyes and caught sight of Okumori. Once I had seen him, I let out a fretful gasp.Bookmark here

His whole face was drenched, with noodles sticking onto his face. His bangs that usually covered his forehead was now swept aside, looking like some sort of middle-part, and his forehead had small specks of brown liquid. He was completely frozen in place, his chopsticks mid-air as he had a dangerous glare directed right at me.Bookmark here

I instantly realized what had happened, and the contrition struck me like lightning.Bookmark here

“K-Ki-kun?!” I cried. Bookmark here

I snatched the paper towels that were sitting serenely on the table between us, then lunging forwards and slamming them onto his face as I shrieked.Bookmark here

“I’m so sorry! I’m so, so sorry! Forgive me, Ki-kun!”Bookmark here

He grunted loudly, but it was muffled as I desperately tried to clean his face.Bookmark here

“Here, Ki-kun! I’ll clean your face for you! You don’t have to worry!”Bookmark here

As we struggled, his tonkatsu ramen started to spill due to how much the table was shaking.Bookmark here

I froze. “W-Wait, Ki-kun! The foo—!”Bookmark here

He wrapped his hands around my wrists tightly, and immediately tried to shake me off of him, which only made the table shaking worse.Bookmark here

“Wait! Stop! Stop!” I yelled at him. Bookmark here

But, it was to no avail. I opened my mouth to attempt to warn him once more, but I was promptly stopped by Okumori’s ramen soup. Bookmark here

Because of how much the table had been trembling due to our frantic actions, the ramen started to spill everywhere, and somehow, Okumori’s soup managed to reach my tongue by flying in the air.Bookmark here

Instantly, I yelped and let go of the paper towels I clenched, now covering my mouth just like earlier. Bookmark here

Since I was just burnt a minute ago by my own careless actions, the spice that touched my tongue caused some type of pain that I had never endured before. It was just like there was fire in my mouth, and I couldn’t get rid of it.Bookmark here

I fell back onto my chair with a loud thump, followed with wails of pain that was muffled by the hand that I covered my mouth with.Bookmark here

I glanced towards Okumori, and saw that his previously t-white shirt that was under his denim blue wool jacket now present with a reddish-color splattered around the stomach area. He had a distressed look on his face while raising his shirt up to try to avoid the boiling hot soup that was on his shirt, which revealed his whole abdomen towards me. Bookmark here

I reddened and closed my eyes, and switched my attention towards the heat that my tongue was experiencing.Bookmark here

A minute later.Bookmark here

We ended up causing a scene in the middle of the food court, to which we both had to clean our mess in discomfiture as the people watched us in all types of emotions. Bookmark here

There were remorseful stares, antagonized stares, and somehow even grinning stares that were directed at us as we desperately tried to scrub our table with the remaining paper towels.Bookmark here

“Sorry,” I ruefully apologized with a squeaky voice, now sitting down on my seat apprehensively.Bookmark here

Okumori had leaned onto the table with his right hand on his forehead; a clear indication of stress that extruded from him.Bookmark here

I felt a lump in my throat as I observed him, but shook my head right to left briskly to get rid of it.Bookmark here

“H-Hey, do you want to, erm, get some new clothes…?”Bookmark here

He had still been wearing his ruined white t-shirt, and hadn’t been responding in any shape or form as he continued to scowl towards me.Bookmark here

But, his menacing frown was instantaneously interrupted by a high-pitched voice.Bookmark here

“O-O-Okumori-senpai?!”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.