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.
There were no movements that came out of him, only continuing to gape at the food ahead of us.
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?”
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.
However, my smile eventually vanished as I continued to observe him.
His jealous eyes started to become no more. His desirous eyes turned into a violet-colored, wide pupil, and lifeless-like eyes.
I removed my arm away from him and stood to his left, keeping quiet as I realized his glum demeanor.
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.
Mutely, I eyed him in dismay, then eventually following to where his emotionless eyes led from curiosity.
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.
Four girls. Four seats.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I gazed upon the final girl, and instantly realized that it was a girl who seemed to be the most mature out of everyone.
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.
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.
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.
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.
But, as I peered at their close friendship, I could see nothing wrong with what was happening.
“... Do you know one of them… Okumori-kun?”
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.
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.
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.
“Hey, Ki-kun!” I shook him. “Do you like ramen?”
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.
“Y-You don’t...?” I asked with an irksome grin.
He then promptly returned his gaze back to the girls, seeming to disregard my presence.
I cleared my throat.
“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!”
I stepped closer as I facetiously insulted him.
He grunted with displeasure, and moved his head slightly towards the right.
“You’re probably one of those guys who like… Erm… Wasabi, or, err, spicy curry! You definitely like spicy stuff, don’t you?!”
There was a brief pause in his livid mood, which became combined with a perplexed one while his left eyebrow arched angrily.
“Ohmigod. You actually like spicy things?”
His expression had the words of: “Is that weird?”
“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?!”
He replied with a diffident nod.
I stepped backward and got into a defensive stance. “You’re scary, Ki-kun!”
This time, he didn’t respond, and now had been avoiding any eye contact with me by looking over to the right.
“I didn’t say I hate ramen...” He violently muttered at me.
A smug look appeared on my face after seeing his passionate reply.
“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!”
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.
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.
“So? Whaddya want, Ki-kun?” I asked in a high-pitched tone, with my head slightly slanted to the right.
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.
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.
After a few minutes, we now had been sitting down on a seat, in front of each other.
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.
Can I really finish all of this? I mean, there’s so much…
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.
I gawked at his bowl and gulped. “I-Is that spicy…?”
He firmly nodded.
“Is that spicy tonkatsu ramen?” I anxiously ask, glancing over to my bowl. “I mean… It’s going to be very spicy, you know!”
I looked up at him again, and saw that he already had been chewing his food as he stared at me stoically.
“... How high is your spice tolerance?”
He swayed his head right to left, as if he was saying “So-so.”
“That’s not ‘so-so!’ That’s extreme!” I pointed at him.
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.
It was just as if he was mocking me.
“F-Fine!” I angrily muttered. “Enjoy experiencing the pain!”
Okumori didn’t seem to care, and tiredly shut his eyes before opening them again as he continued to eat.
I’m going to train my spice tolerance once I get home! I definitely am!
I snared some noodles using my chopsticks and slurped them bitterly, only to regret it a second later.
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.
The excruciating hotness that my tongue was met with was almost unbelievable.
Shoot! I forgot to blow on it!
It felt like it was boiling in my mouth, and I ended up spitting it out from what seemed to be pure instinct.
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.
I’d slowly regain my calmness after a few seconds, breathing in and out due to the panic I had just experienced.
I opened my eyes and caught sight of Okumori. Once I had seen him, I let out a fretful gasp.
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.
I instantly realized what had happened, and the contrition struck me like lightning.
“K-Ki-kun?!” I cried.
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.
“I’m so sorry! I’m so, so sorry! Forgive me, Ki-kun!”
He grunted loudly, but it was muffled as I desperately tried to clean his face.
“Here, Ki-kun! I’ll clean your face for you! You don’t have to worry!”
As we struggled, his tonkatsu ramen started to spill due to how much the table was shaking.
I froze. “W-Wait, Ki-kun! The foo—!”
He wrapped his hands around my wrists tightly, and immediately tried to shake me off of him, which only made the table shaking worse.
“Wait! Stop! Stop!” I yelled at him.
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.
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.
Instantly, I yelped and let go of the paper towels I clenched, now covering my mouth just like earlier.
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.
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.
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.
I reddened and closed my eyes, and switched my attention towards the heat that my tongue was experiencing.
A minute later.
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.
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.
“Sorry,” I ruefully apologized with a squeaky voice, now sitting down on my seat apprehensively.
Okumori had leaned onto the table with his right hand on his forehead; a clear indication of stress that extruded from him.
I felt a lump in my throat as I observed him, but shook my head right to left briskly to get rid of it.
“H-Hey, do you want to, erm, get some new clothes…?”
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.
But, his menacing frown was instantaneously interrupted by a high-pitched voice.