Inside that locked Room contained an odd duo. Yuugo and Alice were
blankly staring at each other, frozen in place.
"I-I," Said the young man who was sitting on the floor. To him, his entire day has been miserable. One unfortunate event after the other. First, there was the incident with Tetsuya this morning, then the encounter with Alice a few hours prior then the situation that’s currently unfolding. It wouldn’t be surprising if all he wanted was to go home and play his games, yet what he truly wanted was the opposite, he was fine with this, spending time with Alice, to him it was a one in a millionth chance.
Then. All of a sudden. The young lady, Alice shrieked in horror, loud enough to be heard in the entire 3rd Floor. She widened her eyes, as she recalled a faint repressed memory locked away in the deepest parts of her mind. A memory she so desperately wanted to forget.
"P-Please s-stay away f-from me! P-please d-don’t h-hurt me!" She cried out as she pleaded to the young man.
Dropping down to the floor, the girl’s delicate body continued to tremble in fear. Her weak hands pressed up against the sides of her head, her snow-white hair covered a part of her face, her brown eyes were downcast refusing to look at the man in front of her. She was hyperventilating, her body was profusely sweating. The young woman was currently experiencing a panic attack.
Feeling like she was slowly losing control of herself, as a part of her she once left behind, now buried deep inside her had begun to resurface, the frail young girl was on the verge of breaking down into tears.
The young man however simply sat there on the cold concrete floor. Continuing to stare at the young girl. He felt like she was slowly growing smaller and smaller, like she was about to disappear at any moment, leaving nothing behind. The image of the stern yet kind person he knew as Alice was instead replaced by the sight of a weak and vulnerable girl in front of him, who was one step away from breaking.
What should I do? The young man asked himself. However, is it even right to do anything? Alice clearly told him to stay away, is it right to trample upon her wishes? But even so, is it right to let this situation persist?
Search. Search. Search. Answer. Answer. Answer. The young man kept searching for an answer, for what it is he must do. Time continued to tick, moving forward. Second by second. Minute by minute. Ultimately deciding to leave her alone in that state, was it consideration for the girl’s feelings? Or did he simply not know what to do?
At that moment. A single tear trailed down the young girl’s face. Rubbing it off, she took continuous deep breaths, as she attempted to calm herself down. She didn’t want to revert back to that, she wanted to forget all about that and so she must do everything she can to not become that.
The young girl slowly but surely regained her composure, steadily stood herself back up, and picked up her fallen clipboard. Her body was still trembling, but she eventually turned to face the boy who was yet to move from his initial position. Still continued to sit on the floor a few meters away from her.
At that moment she immediately recognized the man, He’s the boy from before. she thought to herself. "W-who exactly are you?" She asked all the while continuing to breathe heavily.
"A-Answer… answer me clearly please!" She shot at him.
The young man understood that she was simply putting up a front. Her body was out of balance like she was about to pass out. Her voice was stuttering, and her breathing uneven.
"I’m…" The young man repeated.
This isn’t the time to freeze up… this is the moment that I have to take that step forward. He said to himself as he slowly stood up and hardened his resolve.
"I’m… Katsuragi Yuugo!" He shouted with confidence.
"Katsuragi... Yuugo? So you're him, then why?— No that's." Suddenly her slender body began to fall. At that moment, Yuugo immediately ran off to catch her falling body.
W-What is this? Why is everything so blurry..? I’m losing my balance, everything is growing dark. I’m falling, falling into a deep abyss, it’s pitch black. I wonder what’s waiting for me at the bottom? I’m slowly losing my consciousness, am I dying? Those thoughts filled the young woman’s mind as she neared unconsciousness, then suddenly—
"—ey! Pull yourself together!" She heard that familiar voice.
H-Huh what’s this feeling? It feels so warm and cozy. She slowly opened her eyes, at first everything was white, but eventually color started to take over. She rested on the young man’s chest, feeling the warmth of his body. This doesn’t feel so bad… it’s so comfortable. I wouldn’t mind sleeping here… She closed her eyes and once more began to doze off, but then—
"—ke up! Hey! Hey!"
So noisy… just let me sleep… forever.
"Takahashi-san! Takahashi-san!" The voice called out to her, over and over. Each time she would pay the voice no heed, perhaps if she ignored it hard enough it would eventually go away. Yes, that’s it. She convinced herself, yet the voice never stopped calling out to her, time and time again just as she felt like succumbing to that feeling of liberation, in that world of black, the voice would be there to pull her away. Why? Why are you so persistent? She complained.
Why?! She screamed into the void.
With that final call, it was all over. The world of black slowly turned white as the young woman regained her consciousness. She slightly opened her eyes, as she was forced back to reality, she felt that familiar warmth, as her body was being embraced by the young man. She turned her gaze to the young man’s face.
"Are you alright now?" The young man asked in concern, they locked eyes with each other before the young woman widened her eyes and forcibly pushed her body away from him.
"W-What do you think you’re doing?!" She asked in a frustrated tone.
"I mean, y-you nearly fainted!" Yelled Yuugo trying to defend himself.
"Anyway, how are you feeling now?" He added.
Alice cast her gaze downwards and answered Yuugo. "I-I'm okay."
"Are you sure? Cause you don't look like it." Yuugo said while looking at her figure which still swayed from side to side ever so slightly.
"I-I told you I'm fine!" Exclaimed Alice as she placed a hand on her brow. She took a chair and sat herself down.
"I-If you say so..."
"U-Uh right… what is it?" Yuugo gulped as he asked, and averted his eyes.
"Can we talk, about this whole situation from the beginning? Please…"
The pair were now sitting on opposite sides of the large table in the middle of the room, facing each other.
"You think we were intentionally set up?" Alice asked.
"That’s the only possible explanation I can think of," Yuugo replied.
"But why… and who would even do such a thing? Even going as far as locking as up."
The two pondered about who might have been behind all of this. Eventually reached their own conclusions as to who might have orchestrated the plan, suspicions were drawn at their respective closest friends, who also happen to be in a relationship with each other, Ueno Himiko and Sugiwara Kyousuke.
"Katsuragi-san, can’t you call any of your friends to help out?"
"I’ll try, how about you? Can’t you do the same?"
"I… actually left my phone in class…"
"Nothing we can do bout that I guess…" Yuugo said then sighed, he took out his phone and tried to open it. But nothing happened, no matter how many times he presses the power button, his phone never turned on. No way, don’t tell me the battery is dead… I really should have just bought that new battery last week..! Yuugo cursed his own stupidity.
"Is there something wrong?" Alice wondered as she tilts her head to the side.
"Bad news… battery’s dead."
"That has got to be a bad joke right..?" Alice tried to deny it.
"Unfortunately not." Yuugo bluntly stated.
"Katsuragi-san, could you not just break the door down?" Alice gave that violent suggestion in desperation.
"I can probably do that, but I would rather not resort to it…"
"Let’s look around! Maybe we can find something that can help us get out of here." Yuugo interjected. Alice briefly narrowed her eyes but eventually went along with his plan.
"Fine. Let’s do that."
With that, the pair began searching the entire room. Looking through every crevice, checked the cabinets, the lockers, everywhere. They spent the next 30 or so minutes searching.
"Is this it?" Alice asked while holding a small silver key with her left hand. She had found it in one of the nearby drawers, it was quite well hidden like it was deliberately stored there.
"Found one? Try it out on the door." Yuugo told her. Alice promptly made her way to the club room’s door. She took the key and puts it inside the keyhole, fitting perfectly. She turned the key and unlocked the door. "It’s open!" She announced to Yuugo in a cheerful tone.
"Wait really?!" Yuugo said eagerly as he practically ran towards the door.
Alice took the handle of the door and slid it open, the pair welcomed freedom and celebrated. "Finally!" They both shouted at the same time. They step out of the room and locks the door behind them.
"I felt like I was trapped in there forever! It’s getting quite late now actually." Alice said as she looked down at the corridor that slightly bore an orange tint from the setting sun.
"It’s supposed to be around 6 pm now, give or take. We should get going, it would be problematic if anyone saw us still in the building together." Yuugo worried.
"True, I would rather not be included in any sleazy rumors with you." Alice said in a bunt tone.
"W-Why so blunt?!" Weeped Yuugo, heartbroken from her provocation.
"Haha… hahaha." Alice laughed softly. "Katsuragi-san, you really are a weird guy, maybe being locked up in that room wasn’t the worst thing ever after all." She said and continued her adorable laugh.
"…" Yuugo replied with silence as he averted his eyes from her and starts blushing. Alice stops laughing and tilted her head in confusion at his silent response.
"Anyway, I have to get back to my classroom to get my things." She informed him, while walking down the corridor, she took one last look back at Yuugo. "B-Bye, so see you at school… I guess... Katsuragi-san." She added.
"Y-Yeah… see you…"
"Oh and also…"
"About the breakdown, I had before…" Said Alice while she kept her head down, her back faced Yuugo. "Can you forget about it..? Or at least… just keep it between the two of us." She continued, as she asked Yuugo in a serious and melancholic tone.
"Please. I’m begging you." She turned her head back to face Yuugo as she pleaded.
Yuugo stood there, facing down, frozen in thought as he recalled that
horrifying moment with Alice. He turned to face her and replied. "I understand…
it’s our… secret."
"Thank you…" She left him with that as she continued walking down the orange-colored corridor, then descending the stairs until her figure can no longer be seen.
At that moment, the orange hue subsided and was then replaced by blackness, the halls were filled with an eerie darkness, Yuugo looked out the windows as gray clouds began to cover the sky.
"Rain?" He asked himself.
"So are you stalking me now?" Alice blurted with a disappointed tone at Yuugo who had followed her downstairs to her classroom.
"I-I.. It’s just that… I can’t just leave a girl alone this late here…"
"I would think you would be more against it."
"At the very least it feels more secure with you being my bodyguard, but your statement seems contradictory when you said before that it would be bad if anyone spots us alone here."
"Is that all I’m good for now?! Also, I don’t want to hear that from the person who says she doesn’t want to be involved with any weird rumors with me."
"For once I don’t have anything to say…"
The two finished their exchange as Alice entered her classroom to pick up the things she left, she made her way to her desk. She had asked Himiko to look after her belongings and bring it with her when she would go to the Club Room, which never came to pass. Her bag was still on the chair. "I asked her to keep an eye on it jeez, what will I do if something gets stolen…"
She took her backpack and checked the contents. "Oh good, it’s still here." Alice sighed in relief as she took out her phone from her bag. She promptly wore her backpack and made her way out of the classroom where Yuugo was waiting for her.
"So did you find it?" Yuugo asked her as she opened the door.
"Yep, my things were still here thankfully." Reassured Alice as she was holding up her phone to Yuugo with her left hand.
"It’s already 6:08 so it’s quite late, we should get going." She continued.
"Yeah but this heavy rain seems like it won’t be going away anytime soon."
"Rain?" Alice asked puzzled as she went to the window and looked outside.
"First let’s make our way downstairs and wait for it to subside for now." Suggested Alice as she turned her gaze away from the window and towards Yuugo.
"R-Right. Let’s get going then."
The pair began walking together alone in that corridor. "Oh, I just remembered something," Said Alice suddenly before coming to a halt then turned around. "What is it?" Yuugo asked her.
"I haven’t properly introduced myself yet."
"You don’t have to, I’m already aware of who you are." Yuugo rejected.
"It’s customary manners to introduce yourself." Alice insisted.
"Alright. Alright." Yuugo eventually gave in.
"Well let’s start from the beginning then. My name is Takahashi Alice, a 1st Year student." Alice firmly stated, she slightly bowed and for a moment held out her left hand but quickly retracted it and replaced it with her right hand. W-Wow, so prim and proper, this is really embarrassing. Yuugo thought, as his body started shaking from the awkwardness of the situation.
"I-I-I" he stuttered and gulped.
"I-I b-believe I’ve a-already i-i-introduced m-myself b-but…" Why so much stuttering? Alice wondered while sneaking a glance at the young man.
"I-I’m Katsuragi Y-Y-Yuugo Yuugo, n-nice to meet you, T-T-Tak… Takahashi-san!" Yuugo struggled but eventually was able to finish his introduction, he nervously held out his trembling hands to shake hands with Alice but just as their skins were about to touch his hand promptly stopped moving.
B-Bow! That’s right I nearly forget to bow! This is all just too formal for my liking. Yuugo reminded himself as he bowed slightly matching Alice’s form, yet he could not take that last step, he could not take her hand, and so Alice took the initiative and took his hand instead and shook it.
Yuugo couldn’t handle it, his entire face was starting to turn red and his brain started to malfunction. H-holding hands with Alice!! I’ve always dreamed of this day. He thought to himself.
"Nice to meet you too then, Katsuragi Yuugo Yuugo-san." Teased Alice as she straightened her back.
"W-why the r-repeat??"
"Hahaha, I’m just kidding, Katsuragi-san." Once again Yuugo’s whole body shook and his brain overheated, he was overjoyed at this moment, after all, he was able to hold hands with the person he likes. He wished this moment would last longer, in fact, he wished that this would keep going forever, but alas that feeling was short-lived as the sensation of Alice’s soft and slender hands went away.
"So Katsuragi-san… you’ve been fidgeting all this time…" She teased him as she put her hands on her back and walked closer to the boy. Yuugo took a few steps back before freezing. Then Alice went up to his ear and whispered.
"Katsuragi-san, have you perhaps not held a girl’s hand before, I wonder~" She said in a suggestive and playful manner.
"N-No t-that’s n-n-not it!!" Yuugo desperately tried to deny her. Afterall he had a lot of experience with holding hands with the opposite sex, holding hands with his mother, that is… when it comes to young girls like Alice or even older women, he had zero experience in holding hands.
"Hahahahaha, you really are weird Katsuragi-san." Alice laughed hysterically, clutching her stomach.
"Jeez, stop picking on me already…"
"Yes. Yes. Hahahahaha." Yuugo wasn’t exactly happy being made fun of but the sight of Alice’s laughing and smiling face made him relieved. He thought back to the situation inside the Film Club Room where Alice mentally broke down and even nearly fainted, he pondered, just what horrible things have that young girl experienced that made her so weak and fragile at that moment, and her desperate in wanting to keep it between the both of them? He was curious but at the same time he was afraid, he didn’t want her to hate him for prying into her life.
"Anyway, let’s get going already," Alice suggested.
"Y-Yeah." Yuugo complied, for now, he would set the matter of Alice’s breakdown in the back of his mind, even if he would continue to think about it he wouldn’t reach a solid conclusion.
The two then continued walking together in that dark hall side by side, as they began to make their way down to the building’s entrance.
—This is the beginning of the relationship between Yuugo and Alice.
Note: I'll be releasing an SS/Chapter 2.5 after this chapter that's like 1k words long, please don't skip it as it's important for future events.