Chapter 15:

Yet again, Okumori Toshiro finally meets her.


(originally supposed to be posted on tuesday, but i ended up getting busy)
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“O-O-Okumori-senpai?!”Bookmark here

I looked over in confusion and set my eyes to the feminine voice that had called out my name.Bookmark here

A rather short and petite girl stood, wearing a pink sweater with a black rose design that was on it. She also wore light blue skinny jeans that had a few, small rips that were present on her thighs all the way down to her knees. But, it didn’t show her skin, and instead showed the white patches underneath her jeans.Bookmark here

She also had a handbag in her right hand, and was clenched tightly as she pointed at me in a jittery manner.Bookmark here

Though, her face was completely covered by sunglasses and a black facemask, along with a white hat to top it all off. Her brown hair hid under her hat and covered her ears, and reached down to her shoulders, which were silky and shining in the lighted food court.Bookmark here

Miyake and I stared at the odd girl in discomfort, not knowing who she was in the slightest.Bookmark here

But, even if I couldn’t see under her mask, I could sense that the girl was undeniably scared. Her index finger that pointed at me was trembling, and her legs were quivering so much that it looked like she was going to fall any second. Bookmark here

“Okumori-senpai…” She then whimpered.Bookmark here

Miyake and I continued to watch her with stumped eyes.Bookmark here

“E-Erm… I-I’m not following you! I swear!” She then nervously shrieked.Bookmark here

Her sudden declaration made me even more perplexed, and it also caused a swift, cold chill to run down my spine.Bookmark here

Following? Again? What even made you say that unnerving sentence of yours?Bookmark here

“Shiori… Chan…?” Miyake then queried. Bookmark here

… Stalker-chan?Bookmark here

Shiori moved her whole body towards Miyake. “Yes! I am here!”Bookmark here

There was a long, uncomfortable pause between all of us as Miyake and I realized who the girl was.Bookmark here

Shiori’s tone then quieted down. “How did you know…?”Bookmark here

“Your hair. It’s super smooth. I can remember the texture just by looking at it...” Miyake plainly said.Bookmark here

Okay, one, that’s horrifying. Two, how did you even manage to say that so dispassionately? And finally, three, are your eyes sparkling? Bookmark here

Shiori took a step back, undoubtedly embarrassed and astounded by Miyake’s apathetic compliment. Bookmark here

“T-Thank you…” She weakly said.Bookmark here

“Mm.” Miyake nodded with a generous smile.Bookmark here

But, that pleasantness of Miyake’s disappeared almost instantly, and her smile instantly turned into a startled look.Bookmark here

“By the way, Shiori-chan, you’re not stalking Ki-kun again by any chance, right…?” Miyake asked, gawking at her.Bookmark here

“No! I’m not! Not at all!” She argued back immediately. Bookmark here

Shiori then avoided our gazes after finishing her denial.Bookmark here

“Plus, I wasn’t stalking him… It was just a coincidence that I was there. I just observed him, that’s all.” She murmured. Bookmark here

After her quiet response, she quickly looked back up and started to frantically wave her hands in panic.Bookmark here

“But, I-I know what I did is bad, though! I really do! I won’t do it again! You guys got creeped out by me, right? Sorry! Sorry!” She loudly apologized while bowing repeatedly.Bookmark here

While Miyake started to apologize back for misunderstanding the situation, I could only think about what Shiori had witnessed in the café.Bookmark here

You saw the whole mess I made, didn’t you?Bookmark here

I came back into my senses before I could zone out any longer.Bookmark here

“What are you doing here, Shiori-chan?”Bookmark here

There was a squeal that came out of Shiori.Bookmark here

“My caretaker disappeared…” She mumbled while facing downwards.Bookmark here

“You have a caretaker…?” Miyake sounded astonished.Bookmark here

Shiori nodded reluctantly, then started to twiddle with her fingers nervously and quietly.Bookmark here

“I was shopping with her, then we got separated in the crowds…”Bookmark here

Miyake and I met eyes as we heard her overwrought reasoning. Bookmark here

“What do we do, Ki-kun?” She whispered at me with her left hand hiding her mouth away from Shiori.Bookmark here

I shut my eyelids and relieved a deep sigh.Bookmark here

As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t simply ignore her and tell her to stray away. In the end, it’ll probably be my fault if something bad happened to her.Bookmark here

That said, I wasn’t necessarily worried about her specifically. But, I’m also worried about what’ll happen to me if I happened to be the cause of an illegal act that occurs to Shiori. The mere thought of being questioned by police, or even being arrested for not aiding her made me anxious, even if it’s just an exaggerated thought of mine.Bookmark here

With this in mind, I decide not to risk it.Bookmark here

I opened my eyes and simply nodded towards Miyake.Bookmark here

She had a beaming smile upon seeing my reply, and it only made me more annoyed.Bookmark here

“Shiori-chaaan!” Miyake exclaimed with her hands in the air.Bookmark here

Shiori shuddered at Miyake’s loud voice, then continuing to let out a small nod.Bookmark here

She tried to sound optimistic, but failed miserably as it came out in a stutter. “Y-Yes, Miyake-senpai!”Bookmark here

“You’re staying with us now!”Bookmark here

Shiori froze. Her fists became balled up in what seemed like gaiety, and her legs stopped shaking altogether.Bookmark here

But, her hands eventually loosened up, and her eyes directed back onto the floor.Bookmark here

I watched her in silence and observed her actions. Bookmark here

“Okay...” She proceeded to say.Bookmark here

“Okay!” Miyake raised her clenched fist in the air.Bookmark here

“I-I can leave anytime if I’m interrupting anything between Okumori-senpai and Miyake-senpai, though…”Bookmark here

I think it’s too late to say that, Shiori. Miyake’s already pulled you in. Also, what does that even mean?Bookmark here

“Aww, don’t be so fretful, Shiori-chan. We won’t mind!” Miyake reassured her while moving her hand up and down.Bookmark here

It was distinctly clear that Shiori was distraught with this spark of enjoyment she was suddenly getting from Miyake, having a discomposed look on her face every time a word was sent her way.Bookmark here

“Oh, and, by the way, me and Ki-kun over here were planning to go to the clothing store. You wanna come with?” Miyake leaned forwards and grinned towards her.Bookmark here

“Huh?” Shiori stepped back, startled. “I-If it’s fine with you guys…”Bookmark here

Miyake promptly stood up and embraced Shiori in her arms. “Yaaay!”Bookmark here

“Wait-!” Shiori stepped back and raised her hands to try to avoid Miyake, but failed as Miyake’s arms overpowered hers, resulting in a bear hug that wrapped around her body.Bookmark here

“M-M-Miyake-senpai?! I’m not sure-”Bookmark here

“Woah. You smell like vanilla.” Miyake interrupted.Bookmark here

What is this? Am I watching some sort of yuri romance? Is Miyake making a move on her?Bookmark here

“T-Thank you…” Shiori faintly spoke, looking up at Miyake while the side of her face was pushed up against her chest.Bookmark here

“Ki-kun’s mom would go crazy if she realized who you were, right, Ki-kun?”Bookmark here

I responded with an annoyed and small nod. She’d probably be freaking out from extreme ebullience. Her reaction about Miyake frankly petrified me, and I wouldn’t know what I’d do if she figured that I had been with an idol in the mall.Bookmark here

Nonetheless, I should probably keep quiet about this.Bookmark here

Well, not that it’s much of a deal, anyways.Bookmark here

“Miyake-senpai… You can stop hugging me now…”Bookmark here

“Huh?” Miyake looked down at her and soon realized. “Oh, right.”Bookmark here

She let go and stepped backward, then lightly hitting the top of her head with a balled fist with one eye closed and her tongue out. “Teehee. Sorry.”Bookmark here

I arched my eyebrow after seeing Miyake’s odd apology.Bookmark here

“Erm, you guys look stylish today. E-Especially Miyake-senpai.” Shiori pointed out, trying to start a conversation.Bookmark here

“I know, right?! Look how pretty Ki-kun’s mom made me! These necklaces are super beautiful!” Miyake bragged with the pendants in hand.Bookmark here

How does this monkey do these types of actions so confidently?Bookmark here

I watched these two communicate in complete dreariness, yet also annoyance. Bookmark here

I just want to smoke. This stresses me out.Bookmark here

“Oh, also, you can pull down your mask and take off your glasses. I feel like I’m talking to a suspicious girl, like a hitman, or like, some sort of scary person.” Miyake said while in close distance with Shiori.Bookmark here

“I, erm, can’t.” Shiori anxiously said while taking another step back. I’m pretty popular here, so I might get spotted…”Bookmark here

“Hm? What’s so wrong with being spotted?” Bookmark here

Shiori scratched her head and averted her face away from Miyake. “W-Well, I always feel panicky whenever people crowd me…”Bookmark here

“Hmmm?”Bookmark here

Obviously, Miyake couldn’t grasp the simple concept that left Shiori’s mouth. She had a graceful smile, but it gave out the mood of complete confusion.Bookmark here

Personally, I could see nothing wrong with Shiori’s statement. Humans sometimes can’t even comprehend what’s in front of them when conversing with another being due to pressure, let alone being crowded by a group of desperate people with flashing phones. When you put pressure and people together, it creates a losing war in your head. Before you know it, you’re stuttering, or you’re extremely anxious, or even worse, you look rude to others because of your inability to speak properly. Bookmark here

But, that’s just how I see it anyways.Bookmark here

“But, I’ll take it off if I look scary to you… I don’t want you guys to be mad at me for it.”Bookmark here

Miyake, seeing what her careless action did to Shiori, instantly went to solace her.Bookmark here

“Not in a bad way, of course! I’m just kidding, Shiori-chan! Kidding!” She giggled while patting her shoulder in a nonchalant way. “You’re fine! Perfectly fine!”Bookmark here

“H-Huh?” Shiori looked up at her. “Um… Okay.”Bookmark here

“Ooh, by the way, we should probably go. Ki-kun’s shirt is still ruined!”Bookmark here

Don’t say that with pride, monkey.Bookmark here

“Uh… Who’s Ki-kun? Is that Okumori-senpai?”Bookmark here

What? you’ve just realized that now? You didn’t bother to ask the first time she said it?Bookmark here

“Yes. You didn’t know that?” Miyake said with a questioning tone, pointing at me.Bookmark here

“Isn’t his name Okumori, though...?”Bookmark here

“I made it up! If you want, you can call him that too!”Bookmark here

Shiori paused and thought about it.Bookmark here

“Ki… Ki-senpai?” She said, looking back up towards Miyake.Bookmark here

“Mhm!” Miyake replied with a thumbs up.Bookmark here

I couldn’t see Shiori’s expression, but I could tell she was awkward just by spotting her fingers twirling around.Bookmark here

“I’ll stick to Okumori-senpai.” Shiori reluctantly nodded.Bookmark here

“Huuuh? No fun.” Miyake said in a bored tone.Bookmark here

“Sorry… I-I can say it if you want me, though!”Bookmark here

“It’s fine, Shiori-chan. It really doesn’t matter anyways!” She then cupped her hands around her mouth. “I think Ki-kun gets mad whenever I say his name. It’s kinda creepy.”Bookmark here

You are very correct.Bookmark here

I had my chin now resting on my fist, waiting impatiently, so I could get rid of my ruined shirt.Bookmark here

Miyake glanced at me, then back at Shiori. Then, she raised her hands up in joy.Bookmark here

“Okay! Shopping time!”Bookmark here

She started walking ahead, with her arms swinging forwards and backwards every time she took a step. Shiori soon timidly followed after, only staring at the floor while she kept the handbag she clutched tightly in front of her. Bookmark here

I groaned and pushed myself up from the seat, then following the two with my hands in my pockets.Bookmark here

But, as I walked, the feeling of drowsiness only increased, and the thought of wanting to just lay down on a bed and sleep tranquilly was all that was in my mind.Bookmark here

Why am I so tired? Is it because of how many people are here? Is it because I’m tired of Miyake’s relentless talking?Bookmark here

Or am I just this weak?Bookmark here

I really want to go home.Bookmark here

Eventually, Miyake would stop walking, appearing to stop in front of a store. She’d turn around to us and placed her hands on her hips, with a happy grin that made me discomforted.Bookmark here

“Surprise!” She said, followed with a giggle.Bookmark here

Shiori and I both looked up at the red sign above Miyake and spotted the neon white words that spelled out the stores name.Bookmark here

UniqloBookmark here

As I looked back down and scanned inside through the window, there were only a handful of customers that were searching for clothes, with no visible worker present on the cashier.Bookmark here

I could smell the scent of cloth and paper that exuded from the store, as well as spotting the various colors of different jackets, shirts, and sweatshirts that was worn on white mannequins in different poses inside the store that had white colored walls and wooden floors.Bookmark here

“Um, Miyake-senpai?” Bookmark here

“Yes, Shiori-chan!” Miyake pointed at her.Bookmark here

“I’m… I’m pretty good with fashion!” She tried to sound gallant once more. “I can help you guys if you want!”Bookmark here

But, her voice all of a sudden got quieter and more intimidated right after.Bookmark here

“But, if you don’t want me to… It’s fine. I can just watch.”Bookmark here

I stood beside her, watching her cluelessly.Bookmark here

She’s a very hesitant girl, isn’t she?Bookmark here

“Hmm… I’m not excellent with fashion like Ki-kun’s mom, sooo… Sure!”Bookmark here

Shiori gazed up at her under her mask and glasses and froze. Bookmark here

“Really…?” She asked.Bookmark here

“Of course! I mean, you said you’re good at fashion, so why not? I trust you!”Bookmark here

Shiori then hesitated again. “W-Well, I’m average…”Bookmark here

I sighed.Bookmark here

“I believe in you, Shiori-chan! Do your best!” Miyake said, as if she was some sort of cheerleader.Bookmark here

“Y-Yes!”Bookmark here

Miyake turned around and entered the clothing store, as I plainly stood still and watched her gleefully skip inside.Bookmark here

“Um… Okumori-senpai?”Bookmark here

I moved my gaze down to Shiori.Bookmark here

She paused, staring at me, then taking a deep breath.Bookmark here

“Y-Your white shirt is ruined.”Bookmark here

… You don’t think I know that?Bookmark here

“If you want, I can buy another one for you… I’ll even buy a sweatshirt… Or a jacket…”Bookmark here

I opened my mouth, but closed it.Bookmark here

Even if this was my first ever actual communication with Shiori, I could already pinpoint what type of person she was, judging from how she acted. It’s blatantly obvious, and it somehow made me uneasy.Bookmark here

I pointed my thumb towards the entrance, and made my way forwards without saying a word.Bookmark here

“Wait, Oku-” Bookmark here

Shiori stopped herself from speaking, and followed me in silence right after.Bookmark here

But, as soon as I walked in, a head popped out of what seemed to be, well, literally nowhere with a sonorous voice.Bookmark here

“Boo!” The sudden voice said.Bookmark here

I recoiled back and stumbled, then setting my eyes upon whoever it was.Bookmark here

Miyake’s head protruded from a clothing rack, followed with dubious giggling that came out of her while her eyes were closed.Bookmark here

“Pfft! I actually got you! Haha!” She pointed at me.Bookmark here

I viciously glared at her.Bookmark here

Once Miyake spotted my glower, she quieted down with an awkward smile.Bookmark here

“Sorry. I thought it was just funny.”Bookmark here

“I-It was funny!” Shiori added in to our right.Bookmark here

Both of us looked over to her stiffly, rather confused and slightly bothered at her random remark. Bookmark here

Shiori immediately stopped moving upon seeing our stares at her.Bookmark here

“S-Sorry! Sorry!” She bowed.Bookmark here

“Haha… It was funny, huh? You saw Ki-kuns expression, right? It was so funny!” Miyake awkwardly laughed, attempting to console the first-year.Bookmark here

Watching Miyake’s desperate attempt to cheer Shiori was frankly cringy for me to watch. It was nothing more than an obvious act to hide her embarrassment for Shiori.Bookmark here

Of course, I was hiding my embarrassment too, because telling Shiori to stop this desperate action of fitting in would probably kill her soul.Bookmark here

I’d rather keep it to myself rather than make the situation messier than usual.Bookmark here

“Also, Ki-kun, look what I have!” Miyake faced back at me.Bookmark here

She pulled her head back and disappeared from the clothing rack, only to go approach our aisle and wave at me with a clean, white shirt on a hanger.Bookmark here

“Ta-daaa! New shirt!”Bookmark here

I gave her a blank stare.Bookmark here

Well, I was mildly glad, but at the same time, it’s Miyake.Bookmark here

“Ehh? What a boring reaction you have…” She sarcastically said, her head tilted to the right.Bookmark here

She sighed, then lifted the white shirt once more to sway it around.Bookmark here

“I’ll pay for it. It’s just around one thousand, five hundred yen, anyways. I kinda feel bad for ruining your moms shirt, so, like, think of it as a reward, or like, revenge type thing...”Bookmark here

As Miyake continued to ramble on with her dumb, impartial words, I stepped forwards and pleasantly grabbed it from her.Bookmark here

“Like, you know, we’ll be fair and square, or, err, you can be pleased- Hey! What are you doing?!”Bookmark here

I repeated my uninterested stare towards her again.Bookmark here

After seeing my response, she took a deep breath, and cleared her throat.Bookmark here

“I’m going to buy it, duh.” She said in tuneless, bland, and deep voice, then pointing at me and speaking in her usual tone again. “That’s what your saying right now, aren’t you?!” Bookmark here

I nodded.Bookmark here

“Ugh…” Miyake planted her hands on her face, followed with words that were unintelligible due to the muffled voice she had.Bookmark here

“I can buy you something, Miyake-senpai!” Shiori interrupted.Bookmark here

“No, no… It’s fi-”Bookmark here

“See?” Bookmark here

We both looked over in curiosity, and saw that she already had an outfit in her possession.Bookmark here

I raised my eyebrows at it and stared at it attentively.Bookmark here

Woah.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.