Chapter 1:

Chapter 1 - Two Sides

Youth


Note: The first chapter is double-length. (6.7K words) the chapters after should be around 3k words or 1k for SS except for more important chapters in which case it will probably have a few thousand more words. Secondly, the names are written with the surname first, then the first name. e.g. Katsuragi Yuugo, Takahashi Alice.Bookmark here

1Bookmark here

   They say that Youth is the most critical stage of one's own life. It’s what we decide to do in this period that will influence our future. The choices we make, the actions we decide to take, and the path we choose to follow. The things we learn in school and in real life, our experiences, our successes and failures, our struggles, and the hurdles we face, it’s all of these that shape our future and help prepare us for the eventual adulthood.Bookmark here

   It's no exaggeration to say that this period is the make it or break it of our entire life, we only get one shot, no do-overs, as it is only during this youth that we can be the most free in our entire life, once we pass that and that freedom is taken away from us we become adults bound by the chains of rules and laws.Bookmark here

   However, people take their youth for granted. Some worry too much about the future and before they know it their youth is gone in the blink of an eye. Some are not so fortunate and are forced to fend for themselves at a young age. Some are foolish and enter into adulthood earlier than the rest, and most waste their time by indulging themselves in sloth, but is this all… wrong? Is it wrong to worry? Is it wrong to be pitiful? Is it wrong to be foolish? Is it wrong to be lazy?Bookmark here

   How can you say that the life you lived has been "correct"? Is there truly such a thing as correct choices we must make? Correct actions we must take? And the correct path we must follow? Can you say that your life is correct if you’ve achieved your life-long goals? If you’ve lived a life without shame? If you’ve lived a life with no regrets? If you’ve lived a life doing what you want? If you’ve lived a life that’s satisfying and fun? Bookmark here

   What is your "ideal" way of living? What is the life that you wish to live? The answers to all these questions are different for each and every one of us, after all, we are our own person, living our own lives. But throughout my life until now, I’ve never found an answer. How do I want to live? I’ve repeated that question over and over in my head, for the remaining 3 years, I have left of high school… Bookmark here


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—I, Katsuragi Yuugo, resolved myself in finding an answer to that question.
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2Bookmark here

   "Good morning Yuugo!" As I was walking down the school hallway, I hear a sudden shout come from behind me. Stopping for a moment, I turn my head behind to face the owner of the voice. I see a figure of a boy with spiky blond hair running towards me. Waving his right arm in the air, the sunlight from the outside hitting the windows and refracting onto his golden hair, shining like the morning sun. He, Sugiwara Kyousuke is a good friend of mine.

   "Hey Kyou, how you doing?"Bookmark here

   "Not good, me and Himiko-chan got into a fight recently..." He said.Bookmark here

   "Poor Kyou, there, there," I said, whilst patting his head.

   "Bah! Stop that man, it’s embarrassing!" I give a laugh at his reaction then put my hand away.

   The two of us continue talking about mundane things as we made our way to our classroom.

   Ascending the stairs, we arrive at the 2nd Floor where our classroom was located. Turning to the right corner. We continue to proceed, eventually reaching our destination. Class 1-2 is written on the sign above the door. I took the handle of the sliding door and opened it.

   Greeting us on the other side is a pair of boys. "Boss, you’re finally here. Let me copy your math assignment." Immediately after I opened the door. In a nonchalant voice, the short gray-haired boy wearing a hoodie greeted me with that demand.

   That boy is my friend Shibata Takuya. Sometimes I wonder how he can stand the heat from wearing that especially as summer just finished.

   And the other person beside him... "Shut up Takuya, you don’t need to copy shit! I'm the one who needs it! Jeez Yuugo, what took you so long? class is almost starting goddamn it!! If I don’t get this done I don’t even want to imagine what Manabe-senpai is gonna do to me! So hurry it up!"

   With a sharp tongue and a really loud voice, the average height, brown-haired boy practically screamed at me to give him my homework. I put my two index fingers inside my ear to block out his excessive screaming. I wonder if he even realizes that everyone in that class can hear him. Anyway, he is Kondo Tetsuya, another one of my close friends.

   "This time do it yourself, also turn down the volume, I ain’t deaf," I complained.

   "S-sorry Yuu! But please! My grades are on the line here!" Tetsuya apologized.

   "I don’t care. It’s your grades, not mine." I said firmly. I decide to ignore him and make my way to my seat until— I felt a weird sensation coming from my legs.

   "H-hey, the hell do you think you’re doing?" I said as I looked down at my legs, Tetsuya was holding on to it like his dear life depended on it. Does this guy have no shame?  "G-get off me dude." I tried shaking him off, to no avail.

   "Come on just this once! Just this once! I’ll study from now on so just this onceeeee!"

   "Y-you, say, that, every, single, time, now get off me already!" I said while continuously trying to shake him off, every attempt resulting in failure. At this point, I was getting annoyed at this pathetic display.

   "Noooo!! I’m begging you! My reputation as a proud virgin in riding on this math test!"Bookmark here

   "You never had any, to begin with, you virgin! After this cringy stunt, you pulled you’re definitely never gonna get laid! Also, what does that have to do with the math test exactly?!" I can feel Tetsuya getting more and more desperate as his excuses become more and more nonsensical.

   "Argh! Y-You, want a girlfriend right?! I know some upperclassmen interested in cute underclassmen like you! I’ll introduce you to some hot singles in your area so please, please, pleaaaaaaseee!!!"

   "Alright, alright, I get it, now get off me already!"Bookmark here

   "Really?!"Bookmark here

   "Good grief, is there something wrong with that head of yours?"

   "Yeah yeah now just let me copy it, please! So I can show you off to some hotties."

   "No need, in the first place you don’t even know any!"

   "Oooooh, Yuu! You break my heart!" Looking around, it seems Tetsuya’s cringe-worthy display has attracted an unwanted audience. Not only were our classmates looking at him like he was something less than human but students from other classes also witnessed the embarrassing situation with disgust on their faces. I quickly ran off to hide from their gazes, my face turning beet red from embarrassment.Bookmark here

   "Stupid Tetsuya…" I mumbled.

  I reached my seat located in the back row beside the window. I sit down and slam my forehead against the desk.

   "Ughhh, this is the worst"
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3Bookmark here

   After some time passed, it was now lunch period. The talk about the incident from this morning started to die down a little and I was eating with my friends in the cafeteria, with a new addition—Okamoto Daisuke, he is the only one from a different class than the rest of us. Daisuke has peach-colored hair and is in Class 1-1. He would usually join us during lunchtime. We all have been close friends since middle school.
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   "They are apparently releasing the year rankings later this afternoon," Takuya said. It quickly caught my attention as I turned my attention away from eating my bento and focused my gaze on him.Bookmark here

    "Do you think Yuu will be able to top the entire year?" Asked Tetsuya
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   "Of course, I’ve got faith in Boss," Takuya responded confidently.Bookmark here

   Our school has a special ranking system based on academics. There is the normal class ranking. Then there is the Year Rankings which rank the entire school year, and finally, there is the School-Wide Rankings which rank the entire student body, because of this, the students are very competitive. Bookmark here

   "You guys really think I can top the entire year? That's impossible." I denied. Bookmark here

   "Nothing’s impossible, you got 3rd last time losing only to Takahashi Alicesan and Akase Ryouma-kun from my class who are the 1st and the 2nd respectively." Daisuke said.Bookmark here

   "Alice huh..." I murmured her name to myself. Then I feel someone poke on my shoulders, I turned to my right and saw Kyou who was seated beside me look at me with a mischievous smile. I was confused but when I found out what it meant I was already too late— Bookmark here

   "Heh. Yuugo's too busy being hopelessly in love with Takahashi-san to ever beat her." Immediately after hearing that I reached out to him trying to silence him.Bookmark here

   "Shut your mouth, before anyone hears us, Kyou you little..."Bookmark here

   "What it's true isn—"Bookmark here

   "Ahh!" I lunged at him and our chairs fell on their side causing both of us to fall as well. The rest of the boys began to laugh at us.Bookmark here

   "You should really make your move Boss, I heard she's into some upperclassmen." Takuya teased me then holds out his hand to me. "Oh shut up... Not you too." I take his hand and stand up, then I give Kyousuke a hand as well. We both clean ourselves off, fix our chairs, and return to our prior seated position, and just like that, as if nothing happened, we continue the conversation.Bookmark here

   "She's like the star of the entire 1st year, there must be a lot of guys that are into her. You’re gonna have a lot of competition Yuugo-kun but I’m rooting for you." Daisuke took my side.Bookmark here

   "Nah, she's waaay outta your league Yuu, I mean you just freeze in place whenever a girl speaks with you, who knows what would happen if it was Takahashi-chan. Don’t worry though there's plenty more fish in the sea." Tetsuya snarked.Bookmark here

   "Why are you saying that like she's rejected me!?" I shouted.Bookmark here

   "I get it, I really do alright? But actually doing it is easier said than done…" I added.Bookmark here

   "Hehe..." I hear weird laughter come from Kyousuke, I turn towards him.Bookmark here

   "W-what is it?" I asked.Bookmark here

   "It's nothing, just leave it to me."Bookmark here

   "Wait, leave what to you?"Bookmark here

   "Hehe, you'll see my dear Yuugo." He said with his arms crossed. Bookmark here

   I have a bad feeling about this... but before I could ask anything else, the bell rang, signaling the end of lunch period. I put what Kyousuke said in the back of my mind for now as we pack up our things and prepare to go back to class. Bookmark here

4Bookmark here

   Later that afternoon I decided to go check the ranking that was posted on the large bulletin board located in front of the school building's entrance. When I arrive I notice that not a single person was there, which makes sense since it's class hours and I just used an excuse to use the bathroom to check the results. I go to the bulletin board and began to search for my name.Bookmark here

   "No changes huh," I said to myself, sighing in disappointment. The rankings were the same as before for the most part. I was at 3rd with Alice and Akase at the top 2, though the rest shifted quite a lot. Kyou went from 64th to 44th, Takuya from 29th to 23rd, Daisuke went down from 15th to 17th, though not by much, and then there’s Tetsuya… He used to be at 112th now he is even further at 144th, that guy is just hopeless.Bookmark here

   "Well that was mostly uneventful" I sighed once more with a defeated expression and decide to go back to class, but then—I turn to my side, and I catch a glimpse of something familiar from the corner of my eye. There, I notice it— Bookmark here

   I turn back and notice the sight of long white hair pass by me. Long white hair..? The sight was distinctly familiar to me but I couldn't exactly remember until... it hit me. Bookmark here

   Wait a minute! I yelled in my head. Bookmark here

   I glance back at the bulletin board. In front of the bulletin board stood a beautiful young lady with long untied white hair reaching up to half of her back, a small petite frame, and is hugging a clipboard to her small chest. She was wearing her school uniform, consisting of a short-sleeved black blouse with a red ribbon attached and a knee-length matching black skirt and black shoes.Bookmark here

   She's really cute. Is all I can think of at this moment as I gaze at her figure, it was like time had frozen all of a sudden in her presence, her beauty enough to even force the strongest of men to submit to her, I could probably go on and on and list a thousand more things to describe her but it wouldn’t be enough. I didn't even notice that I've been staring at her for a weirdly long time now. It's her! it's Takahashi Alice.Bookmark here

   What should I do? I repeat that question over and over in my head. Should I talk to her? Should I leave? Should I stare at her some more hoping for a reaction? What the hell am I even thinking about?! Bookmark here

   What should I do? What should I do? What should I do? What sho— Bookmark here

   "Uhm, excuse me."Bookmark here

   Wha..? I hear Alice’s soft and gentle voice call out to me.Bookmark here

   "Y-You're Katsuragi Yuugo-san right?"Bookmark here

   "H-huh?"Bookmark here

   S-she's actually talking to me..? Come on me, say something, just do it, talk to her. Come on, say some—Bookmark here

   "I must have mistaken you for the wrong person, I’m sor—"Bookmark here

   "S-s-something..."Bookmark here

   "Something?"Bookmark here

   "N-no! T-That's uh..."Bookmark here

   "Is there something the matter?"Bookmark here

   What the hell did I just say..? This is so embarrassing, I can't even look at her face anymore, she must be thinking I'm some weirdo or something.Bookmark here

   "S-sorry! T-There's something I've got t-t-to d-do..!"Bookmark here

   "Ah... Alright then, sorry for—"Bookmark here

   "B-byeee!"Bookmark here

   "B-bye..?"Bookmark here

   After leaving the ‘conversation’ there. I got out of there as fast as I could, in the opposite direction. What's wrong with me?! I’m running like my whole life is depending on it.Bookmark here

   But... "You're Katsuragi Yuugo-san right?" Hearing her say my name, in that cute voice... I could die a happy man now but... what the hell?! I blew it! I blew my chance to speak with her! Ugh, I’m so hopeless… Bookmark here

   After running and running, I finally arrive back at my class, "Hah..." "Hah..." "Hah..." Panting heavily like I just ran a marathon… I don't think I ever ran that fast before... not even during Sports Festivals...Bookmark here

   I open the door and— "Woah Yuu what the hell happened to you? It seems like you just ran a 5-kilometer marathon in under 20 minutes." Joked Tetsuya seeing my sweat-filled body and ragged breathing.Bookmark here

   "Hah... S-something... like hah, that... hah..." I said in response.Bookmark here

   "You're seriously drenched dude, gross!"Bookmark here

   "Oh shut... hah.. up… you... hah..."Bookmark here

   "That's enough, Kondo-kun, Katsuragi-kun please return to your seat now." Said Ms. Kawasaki, our science teacher reprimanding us. Bookmark here

   "Y-yes... hah... ma'am..."Bookmark here

   I practically dragged my entire body across the room trying to get back to my seat. The fatigue and weight of my body is unbearable, it’s like I was carrying the entire world on my back.Bookmark here

   I eventually reach my seat and welcomed the feeling of relaxation from sitting down, almost passing out right then and there. "Psst, seriously man what were you doing?" Whispered Kyousuke seated in front of me. "It's a long story…"Bookmark here

5
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   "Pffft Hahahaha, seriously?! You chickened out?" I was met by a barrage of laughter from my friends.Bookmark here

   "You really messed it up big time Boss."Bookmark here

   "..."Bookmark here

   "Come on Taku don't be so hard on him, we should be there to mend his broken heart. It's alright Yuu boy."Bookmark here

   "Again why are you saying that like I got rejected?! Also, you have no room to talk about that after laughing at me so much!"Bookmark here

   "Yeah. Yeah. Sorry, bro."Bookmark here

   "So now we'll have to wait for Dai-kun, huh? He’s taking quite a bit of time." I said, attempting to change the topic.Bookmark here

   "Also has any of you seen Kyou? He's nowhere to be found as well." I added. Bookmark here

   "Commander does have his soccer club, so maybe that’s it?" Responded Takuya. Bookmark here

   "Hey! Sorry for making you guys wait, cleaning took a bit longer, also you're here too Yuugo-kun, that's great." While talking about the missing members of the group, we hear a shout come from behind us, it was Daisuke, with that only one person was missing. Bookmark here

   "Do you need anything Dai-kun?" I asked himBookmark here

   "Kyousuke-kun is asking you to meet him in the Film Club room, he says there's something he wants to talk to you about."Bookmark here

   "The Film Club Room? Does he even have any permission to enter it?"Bookmark here

   "Sorry I don’t know, he never told me anything other than to tell you to meet him there."Bookmark here

   "If I'm not mistaken, his girlfriend Ueno-chan is a member of the Film Club. Maybe he got permission from her." Tetsuya interjected. Bookmark here

   "Is that so?" I replied.Bookmark here

   "Well hurry up Boss, Kyou must have been waiting for a long time already," Takuya said, slapping my back.Bookmark here

   "Oww, jeez. Fine."Bookmark here

6
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   There’s something really fishy about this, what does he want to talk about? And why the Film Club Room? Why not just talk to me directly? Thinking to myself then I sighed.Bookmark here

   Walking up the stairs I continue to ponder about the circumstances of why he requested me to meet up with him. I arrive on the 3rd floor and began to walk towards the Film Club Room, it's the 3rd rightmost room of the floor. I arrive in front of the room and checked the sign. 'Film Club,' it says on the sign, after affirming I place my hand on the handle. Bookmark here

   Hesitating for a moment, I took a deep breath and slid the door open, I entered the room then closed the door behind me. Oddly no one was there, Kyou didn't even call out to me when I entered. At that moment, my mind started sending out distress signals, nothing made sense. I scanned the room and then there… I saw it— Bookmark here

   A figure of a white-haired girl sleeping with her head resting on the table using her arms as a pillow.Bookmark here

   —Alice Takahashi was sleeping in the Film Club Room. Bookmark here

   Thinking what I just saw was simply my imagination, I blink my eyes, over and over to make sure if what I’m seeing is real, but once the reality of the situation caught up to me, all I could do is panic.Bookmark here

   I quickly motioned for the door handle all the while keeping an eye on Alice as to not disturb her. I tried to be as quiet as possible to not wake up the sleeping beauty, however, as if the numerous problems weren’t enough, more and more start to pile up. The door handle was…Bookmark here

   It's locked?! I screamed in my head. Why? Why? Why? Why is it locked? I don’t remember ever locking it! I couldn’t properly process everything that’s currently happening, questions upon questions floated in my head, but not a single answer ever came.Bookmark here

   I desperately try to open the door again and again but to no avail. Once again attempting to slide the door open however, my feet slips and I slide on the concrete floor making a loud thud when my whole body crashes against the table, in turn causing the table to violently shake. I saw Alice's lower half body suddenly move in reaction to the frightening sound then from under the table I peek my head over to see if Alice woke up. Bookmark here

   There I saw her head raised still groggy from being violently woken up, her messy face scanning the entire room for the source of the sound then she looks in my direction, our eyes meet for a moment before she freezes then suddenly jumps out and screams, causing the chair she was sitting on to fall on its back. Then from her frightened and frail figure, slightly shaking from shock and bewilderment, the words came out— Bookmark here

   "W-who are y-you, w-why are you here?!" She said this in an angry and embarrassed tone, with her clipboard, pressed up on her flustered face, covering her head up to her nose.Bookmark here

   —And this is the unusual start of my relationship with Alice Takahashi.Bookmark here

7
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   My whole entire life, all I ever did was run away. From my problems I ran away, from the things I feared I ran away, from everything that bothered me I ran away. Bookmark here

   My whole life all I ever did was leave things behind. The so-called friends that held out their hands to me, I shunned them and left them behind, the place I once called home I deserted it and left it behind, the me that everyone hated, I threw it away and left it behind.Bookmark here

   At this point, the only thing left for me is an ever-growing mountain of regrets, ever since that day, I decided to run away and leave everything behind. I wanted to restart my life, to do it over again, that’s why I ran away and left everything behind, to start a new life.Bookmark here

   And so I decided to live this life in the way that everyone wanted me to, if that’s what it takes so that I don’t repeat the same mistakes, then I’ll do it, I’ll lie to myself, and I’ll continue to lie to myself over and over until this lie becomes the truth. Bookmark here

   Is it wrong to live a life of lies? Lies that I’ve repeated again and again that I’ve convinced myself that they are the truth. Is it wrong to want to forget? To forget about my past full of regrets. Is it wrong to wish for a new life? A new life where I can enjoy myself more and where everyone can accept me.Bookmark here

   All I want is to be accepted, and if lies are what’s necessary to achieve that then I’ll use it. I’ll leave behind my past full of regrets, forget about it all, burn it away from my mind, abandon myself in the process, and start an entirely new life, crafting an entirely new me that everyone can love and accept. I’ll put on a mask that no one, not even myself can ever remove, and slowly that mask of lies will eventually become my true face. Bookmark here


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—That is what I, Alice Takahashi have decided.
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8Bookmark here

   Walking past the Samija High School’s front gates, I lay my eyes on the familiar sight of the large school building. I’ve grown accustomed to walking to school by now, it was difficult when the year first began but I became more used to it by now, looking around I set my sights on the many figures of students walking to school, some with their friends and most alone. Bookmark here

   "Ah, Alice! Good morning!" As I was enjoying my pleasant walk on the school grounds while basking under the morning sun, I hear a familiar cheerful voice call out to me, she quickly ran up beside me then slowed down to match my pace, it was a good friend of mine, Ueno Himiko. we’ve been through a lot, and she’s honestly the closest friend I’ve ever had.Bookmark here

   "Good morning to you too Himiko," I replied to her greeting with my own.Bookmark here

   "I heard from the Prez that they will be releasing the year rankings today," Himiko said.Bookmark here

   "Not a worry for you I bet? I mean you blew the competition out of the water last time." She added.Bookmark here

   "It’s true that I topped the rankings before, but I don’t want to get the rug pulled from under me, and besides, there are some really talented students in this school, I need to work harder if I want to maintain the top spot," I said in response to her, and admittedly, it was true, this school is famous when it comes to its competitive nature. I’ve never studied so hard before until now, and I didn’t know that with enough effort and hard work I can even achieve this much. I was ecstatic and in disbelief when I first learned that I became the top student of my year, but I shouldn’t let myself get conceited and let my guard down for even a second. Bookmark here

   "That’s true, in the top 5 last time there’s you, Akase-kun, Shiori and Sayuri from our class, and then there’s also Katsuragi Yuugo-kun from Class 1-2." Katsuragi? That’s a familiar name, it’s the same surname as the Student Council Vice President. Bookmark here

   "Katsuragi? Is he perhaps related to Katsuragi Yuuto-senpai in some way?" I asked.Bookmark here

   "Yep, he’s the vice prez’s younger brother."Bookmark here

   "I see, I wasn’t aware of that, though it’s quite odd that I haven’t heard much about him considering his big brother is quite a big deal here, the rest of the top 5 from our class on the other hand are well-known and quite popular."Bookmark here

   "I had the same thought too but apparently, Katsuragi-kun is more popular than we thought, he recently ranked as the 3rd Most Good-Looking 1st Year Guy in the poll we made, beaten only by Daisuke-kun and Akase-kun."Bookmark here

   "Oh really? The results are quite surprising indeed."Bookmark here

   "Want to meet him? My boyfriend is good friends with him so I can get you two to meet up."Bookmark here

   "No need." I turned her down, "Although I’m particularly interested in meeting him, the chance will present itself eventually." Regardless of whether I want to or not, there will probably be a lot of chances for us to meet, there are still, 2 semesters and this is just the first year of High School, I’m also going to be busier especially with the Student Council Election in less than 3 weeks and a meeting regarding the election this afternoon. Bookmark here

   "Hah… I guess so" Himiko sighed and said sounding defeated. Bookmark here

   "Well anyway, I’ll go on ahead, I have something else to do. See ya in class Alice!" Himiko said while waving her hand.Bookmark here

   "Yeah, see you at class" I replied and wave back at her.Bookmark here

9
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   I continue to make my way to class. I reach the 2nd Floor where my classroom was located, turning the right corner and proceeded to head towards the Class 1-1 Room. Bookmark here

   As I pass the Class 1-2 Room I hear a sudden shout. "Jeez Yuugo what took you so long?—" I was shocked for a moment then the name the boy said out loud caught my attention almost immediately after I hear it, Yuugo. I turn around to look and I could see four boys standing between the doorway of the Class 1-2 Room. Bookmark here

   The person who blurted out that name was a brown-haired young man, beside him was a short boy with a hoodie, Eh seriously? Weird fashion sense, especially since summer just finished. I thought to myself. Then there are two other boys facing them, one is a blond-haired young man, who is Sugiwara-san, Himiko’s boyfriend. I’ve met him once before, and the last person who was beside him is a plain black-haired young man, I assume he must be the Yuugo the brown-haired guy called out to. Looking closely he does resemble the Vice President a bit but his build doesn’t match at all, he’s tiny in comparison and he seems very messy. Bookmark here

   I continue to observe the group when all of a sudden the brown-haired boy grabbed onto the black-haired boy’s legs, I could vaguely hear what they were talking about, something about Math homework and copying. Then the other students outside started noticing the commotion and some took a peek inside the room to see what was going on. Bookmark here

   After a while, the Class 1-2 room had maybe 10 to 15 students gathered outside watching the spectacle unfold. I sighed at the embarrassing situation and left to make my way to my original destination, the Class 1-1 Room just beside it.Bookmark here

   I kept pondering about that Yuugo person. At first glance, he doesn’t seem to be the intellectual type, rather he seems like a lazy person, in fact, his hair is a mess and his actions and the way he speaks is rather crude, though if I would say, he is kind of good-looking, now I can understand a little bit why he ranked 3rd in the poll. Bookmark here

   What am I doing… this is really a bad habit of mine… I said in my head. I have a bad habit of analyzing others and making judgments purely on external factors and you know what they say, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ Bookmark here

   I eventually reach the door in my classroom that’s just beside it, I took my mind off that Yuugo person for now and I opened the sliding door, after doing so I am immediately greeted by a barrage of welcomes.Bookmark here

   "Good morning Takahashi-san!"Bookmark here

   "Morning class rep"Bookmark here

   "Morning Takahashi-chan!"Bookmark here

   "Alice, good morning!!"Bookmark here

   Greetings of all kinds came one after another, "Thank you, everyone, good morning to you all as well." I said in response to their warm greetings.Bookmark here

   Entering the classroom, I close the door behind me not before taking one last glance over the Class 1-2 room which now had a lot more people gathered than a minute ago.Bookmark here

   Then I’m approached by my friends Himiko, and with her was Shimizu Sayuri and Shinomiya Shiori.Bookmark here

   "Good morning, Alice-san" Sayuri greeted me politely bowing.Bookmark here

   "Heyo Alichi, whassup" Shiori saying this in her usual weird dialect while licking a lollipop, I also noticed she was wearing a yellow sweater, which I found rather odd.Bookmark here

   "Why are you wearing a sweater at this time, isn’t it hot?" I asked tilting my head, her attire reminding me of the boy from Class 1-2 who was wearing similar clothing in the sense that both are unusual choices of clothing for this time of the year.Bookmark here

   "Ah well, whas wrong with wantin’ to wear a sweater sometimes y’know? Though it’s pretty damn hot now did ya mention it." Shiori admitted while crossing her arms.Bookmark here

   "Ah I see, but why wear it if it’s hot..?"Bookmark here

   "Jeez, cuz I wanna alrite? Nothin’ deeper than that." I gave her a strained smile and a short laugh. It’s interactions like these that I value a lot, and I was grateful I was able to make a lot of friends this early on in High School.Bookmark here

   I proceeded to go towards my desk located at one of the front rows. I place my bag down and took out my election candidacy form and started filling it out.Bookmark here

10
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   It was now currently lunch period. Me and my friends are getting ready to eat together inside the classroom. We bring our desks together, then take out our bentos, placing them on the desks and we started to eat. Bookmark here

   "Alichi, your bento looks uber good as usual, I’m jealous… Alichi is really a good cook. I don’t even know how ta cook, my sis does all the lunches."Bookmark here

   "P-Please, it’s nothing special, I already told you I just know the basics! If anything, I’m the one who’s jealous here!Bookmark here

   Being able to eat the food made the student council president every single day is really enviable!" I exclaimed. Bookmark here

   Shiori is the younger sister of the current Student Council President, Shinomiya Kyouko, who is also the most talented student in the entire school, and has been the case ever since she first enrolled, everyone knows about her and looks up to her as a role model and as a rival, she’s the definition of a genius.Bookmark here

   "Huh?! My sis is terrible at cooking! Why would ya be jealous over her trash?! I have to put up with this every single day!" Complained Shiori. Bookmark here

   At Shiori’s complaints, I gave a short laugh then we all moved away from that topic and continue eating lunch. We would start to talk about anything like we always do, eventually losing our track of time as we immersed ourselves in idle chatter, time continuing to flow, second by second, minute by minute. Bookmark here

   "Any guys you interested in Alichi?" Shiori suddenly shot me with that question.Bookmark here

   "So we’re going to talk about that now? No, no one really, I think I want to focus on my studies first right now."Bookmark here

   "How about Akase-kun? You two seem like a good match. Both of you are reaaally smart." Himiko chimed in. Bookmark here

   "I already told you I want to focus on school right now but Akase-san? No, I don’t think so." I briefly looked towards Akase-san who’s a few seats ahead of us, he was casting us a sidelong glance with a seemingly disgruntled look on his face, he probably wasn’t happy being in our conversation.Bookmark here

   "Eh Akase? Ya mean that loser? He ain’t nothing like Alichi."Bookmark here

   "S-Shiori-san that—" Sayuri tried to interject. Bookmark here

   "Heh, if that’s the case, then why not Katsuragi-kun?" Himiko suggested.Bookmark here

   "Eh?? What suddenly brought on that suggestion? I haven’t even met him." I responded with a shocked expression on my face.Bookmark here

   "Wha? Katsuragi? You mean my sis’s boyfriend?" Shiori asked.Bookmark here

   "You don’t know? I’m talking about his younger brother, Katsuragi Yuugo from Class 1-2"Bookmark here

   "Had no idea."Bookmark here

   "Also why are we only talking about me here? How about the rest of you? You Shiori-san, wouldn’t Katsuragi-san be a good fit considering your older sister Shinomiya-senpai and Katsuragi-senpai are dating." It wasn’t fair that everything up to this point was to make fun of me, so I threw one back at themBookmark here

   "Hah? Haven’t I already said I have no idea who that musclehead’s younger brother was?!" She screamed seemingly annoyed.Bookmark here

   "Stop! Stop! That’s enough you two!" Himiko said then hitting me and Shiori’s heads with a chopping motion using her hands. Shiori clicked her tongue in response. Bookmark here

   "Now that’s settled, how about you Sayuri-chan?" Himiko then passed the baton over to Sayuri.Bookmark here

   "Do you have anyone in mind?" Himiko continued to press forward. For a moment Sayuri flinched as Himiko threw her that question, I notice Sayuri’s eyes wander around for a second before returning to face us. Bookmark here

   "Not really…" Sayuri replied as she cast her gaze down. Bookmark here

   "Eh. Boring." Shiori said, resting her head on her hands. Bookmark here

   "Anyway Alice, shouldn’t you be preparing for the meeting this afternoon?" Himiko reminded me.Bookmark here

   I take out my phone to check the time. It was already 12:40 PM. "It’s almost 1!" I said. I quickly rise up from my seat and began to pack up my things. I promptly took my chair and desk and returned them to their original position. "Sorry to leave you all like this but I got to go now," I told them.Bookmark here

   "Nah, it’s fine Alichi."Bookmark here

   "Please take care Alice-san."Bookmark here

   "See you, Alice."Bookmark here

   "Also Alice, the meeting ends at around 2:30 right?" Himiko added. Bookmark here

   "Yes, that’s right."Bookmark here

   "You can go rest up in my Club Room then if you want, I don’t think it’s required for you to go back to class after the meeting. Take a nap if you want and I’ll wake you up after class."Bookmark here

   "But I would like to make it back if possible, I can’t just skip classes just because I’m allowed to."Bookmark here

   "Don’t sweat it, you need to rest up and take care of yourself or you’ll lose your cute points, you know?"Bookmark here

   "I get it. I get it. Well, I’m off now. Also Himiko can you look after my things while I’m gone? You can bring it to the Club Room after class."Bookmark here

   With that, I put my bag on my chair then set off to the Student Council Room where the meeting was going to be held, waving goodbye to my friends in class as I was leaving the classroom. Bookmark here

11
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   Some time has passed and the meeting just concluded, it was now around 2:45 in the afternoon. "Haaaah…" I yawned and stretched out my arms. The meeting was more exhausting than expected considering it was just talking for the most part.Bookmark here

   "Well that’s that, now I just have to rest, I’m feeling really sleepy," I said to myself. I thought of heading to the Film Club Room to rest when I remembered something.Bookmark here

   "Come to think of it, Himiko mentioned that the year rankings are supposed to be released this afternoon." With that, I decided to head off to check the rankings. Bookmark here

   After walking for a few minutes I arrived at my destination, in the building entrance, the rankings are supposed to be displayed on the large bulletin board just up ahead. Looking around, the place is silent, there was next to nobody there apart from a single black-haired boy in front of the bulletin board, I assume he is looking at the rankings. Bookmark here

   As I was making my way towards the bulletin board, the boy seems to lose interest as he turns towards my direction and heads off, we pass by each other for a moment, I cast him a sidelong glance. Where have I seen him before? He seemed familiar but I can’t seem to put my finger on it, I decided to leave it for now. Bookmark here

   I reached the bulletin board and took a look at the rankings. "No changes huh," I said to myself feeling relieved. The top 3 were the same as before, I was at the top then Akase-san then Katsuragi-san, then it clicked to me. Katsuragi, Katsuragi, Katsuragi Yuugo!Bookmark here

   "The black-haired boy I saw before…" I turned towards the direction he went, expecting disappointment, he’s probably long gone by now but—Bookmark here

   W-Why is he staring at me..? I said in my head at the sight in front of me, I felt a weird feeling inside me and my skin started to crawl. Weirdo. Is what I thought of the person standing a few meters away from me, intently gazing at me.Bookmark here

   "Uhm, excuse me." I decided to break the silence. Bookmark here

   "Y-You're Katsuragi Yuugo-san right?" I added.Bookmark here

   "H-huh?"Bookmark here

   N-no? Did I perhaps get the wrong person? No, I’m sure I saw him before from the incident inside the Class 1-2 Room, there’s no mistaking that, or maybe I misunderstood and he wasn’t actually Katsuragi Yuugo, in the first place it was simply an assumption of mine so—Bookmark here

   "I must have mistaken you for the wrong person, I’m sor—"Bookmark here

   "S-s-something..."Bookmark here

   "Something?" Something? What is this guy talking about? This is really creeping me out.Bookmark here

   "N-no! T-That's uh..."Bookmark here

   "Is there something the matter?"Bookmark here

   "S-sorry! T-There's something I've got t-t-to d-do..!"Bookmark here

   "Ah... Alright then, sorry for—"Bookmark here

   "B-byeee!"Bookmark here

   "B-bye..?"Bookmark here

   After saying that, the boy runs off. What was that? I thought to myself, I don't know what to think of this situation, who exactly was that person? Being filled with the feeling of perplexion and frankly disgust I choose to depart immediately, in the opposite direction that he went. I decide to just go and rest in the Film club room, it was a tiring day and the situation that just unfolded mere moments ago was still fresh in my mind but I just wanted to forget about it entirely.Bookmark here

   While heading towards the Film Club Room I made sure to keep an eye on my surroundings to make sure I wasn’t being followed by any suspicious black-haired guys. I arrived and before opening the door, I made one last look at my left then after confirming that no one was there I open the Club Room door, entering the room then hurriedly closing the door behind me.Bookmark here

   I take one of the chairs and sit myself down. I stretched my arms and relaxed my body, I was feeling really sleepy at that moment so I surrendered myself, and I passed out then and there on the table.Bookmark here

12
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   What awoke me was the sound of a loud thud coming from inside the room. It made my body jump in reaction to the sound. I raise my still groggy head, my hair was all over the place but I was more concerned about the source of the sound, I scanned the room to see if anyone else was there. Then that’s when I saw it.Bookmark here

   I saw an eye looking at me just over the table. I couldn’t hold back so I stand up and scream as hard as I could. The chair I was sitting on falling when I stood, I take my clipboard on the table and used it to cover my embarrassed face.Bookmark here

   At that moment, all sorts of emotions well up inside of me. Confusion, perplexity, bewilderment, fear, anger, frustration, disgust. In my frail voice nearing tears, I said. "W-who are y-you, w-why are you here?!"Bookmark here

   —And this is how I first met the unusual young man that is Katsuragi Yuugo.Bookmark here

Cover

Youth


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