Chapter 6:

The High School Life Assistance Club (HSLAC) (2)

Confession Games

It took some time to convince Kirisaki that we actually liked her idea but Arisugawa's was more suitable. If it was anyone else I would just write them off as whiny, but when she made a sad frown it was extremely hard not to feel guilty.Bookmark here

I was a little nervous when the time came to exchange contacts, but thankfully I didn't have to cough to declare my presence before awkwardly being let into the chat group.Bookmark here

Did something like that happen to me before? Pfft-! What, of course not, how could I have such an embarrassing moment like that? Hahaha, haha...Bookmark here

Anyways, I was glad to be included in this group of good-looking people. I still had trouble wrapping my head around why I ended up in this position, but since I became the Vice-President I started to face the fact that I would no longer be able to chill among the average crowd.Bookmark here

"Man, I can't even imagine what the reaction will be when people see me with them," I said in an exasperated tone as I made my way home.Bookmark here

As our club earned recognition, obviously my name would also be seen among the members, probably. I wouldn't mind if they just treated me like an extra, but I wasn't very optimistic that they would be nice. For the umpteenth time today, I sighed. Bookmark here

Once the apartment complex was in sight, I was reminded of the culprit behind my current issue. Bookmark here

'Ms. Aria better have an explanation for me.'Bookmark here

I doubted that she would be home yet, but when I got to the fourth floor,h I skipped my door and went straight to hers.Bookmark here

I knocked, but there was no answer. This didn't assure me that she wasn't home yet, only that there was no point in continuing. I then went back to my apartment to change and left my phone to charge before heading back to Ms. Aria's door. I was in possession of her spare key so I was able to enter without her presence, but I rarely did this on a school day since something didn't seem right about barging into her home when she wasn't here.Bookmark here

The first thing I did was take off my slippers and turn on the lights, before I went straight into the kitchen to prepare her dinner. I was very upset and eager to interrogate her, but my job came first. Bookmark here

While I stirred the pot of miso soup, I heard a click from the door.Bookmark here

"I'm home, darling. Mhmm, dinner smells great."Bookmark here

"...Welcome back."Bookmark here

I didn't even want to know what irritating expression she had on her face so I kept my eyes on the pot and said, "Before you change, sit down. I have some things I want to ask you."Bookmark here

"But I'm pretty tired-"
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"Who's the one cooking your dinner again?"Bookmark here

"Understood."Bookmark here

Hearing as Ms. Aria walked by and took a seat on the couch, I clicked my tongue. I didn't want to act like an ungrateful brat, but she brought this on herself.Bookmark here

"Is there anything you want to say to me?" I asked before I expressed the rage bottled inside me.Bookmark here

"Um, you're welcome?"Bookmark here

I immediately glared at her who had a playful expression and watched it rapidly change to a dignified face. However, in my current mood, even her mature aura wouldn't affect me.Bookmark here

"And what should I thank you for?"Bookmark here

"Isn't it obvious? Thanks to me, you get to be in the same club as your crush. You should be making me a feast for my help."Bookmark here

"Your 'help' was unneeded," Noticing the instability in my voice, I paused and returned my gaze to the pot so that I didn't lose control.Bookmark here

"Really? If it wasn't for me you would still be wistfully looking at her from afar. I've given you a chance to win her heart. Be honest with me, weren't you happy to see her there?"Bookmark here

I couldn't respond right away. Just as she said, beneath my anxiety and confusion, my heart fluttered in joy when Arisugawa walked through that door. Furthermore, my heart wasn't only racing in fear when I stood up to say my name. After all, that was the first time I spoke to her. However,Bookmark here

"...Yes, I was happy. But that doesn't excuse the fact that you tricked me into entering that club. Why didn't you tell me who the other members were?"Bookmark here

"You didn't ask."Bookmark here

"Kuh, then what about Kirisaki? Did you put her up to-?"Bookmark here

"Haruto."Bookmark here

Even though she didn't shout or use a cold tone, her voice immediately made me stop what I was about to say and filled me with shame. As I became even more reluctant to meet her eyes, she stood up and slowly approached me.Bookmark here

"Haruto, I know you're in distress, but you should know better than to question the feelings of another person. Besides, didn't we already agree on this? That wasn't a confession."Bookmark here

"..."Bookmark here

I couldn't say anything. I started off with the intention to blame her for throwing me into this situation, but now I was the ashamed of my actions. And as I thought it over, I couldn't find a good reason to blame her. In the end, I was the one who said yes.Bookmark here

As I became emotionally deflated, I felt a warm hand land on my right shoulder.Bookmark here

"That aside, I actually had little to do with the selection of the other members of your club. It wasn't made for the sole purpose of messing with you, I'm sure you know."Bookmark here

"Mhmm, I know. But, why me?"Bookmark here

"Because I trust you of course. I'll be going to change, okay."Bookmark here

Without waiting for my response, she removed her hand from my shoulder and walked off. This could have ended as a heart-warming moment between teacher and student, but then before she entered her bedroom, Ms. Aria turned around and said with a serious expression, "Oh, and don't peek on me."
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"Like I would do something like that?! Didn't you just say that you trusted me?"Bookmark here

"Yes, I trust you as a person. But you're still a boy after all so I also trust that you have those desires."Bookmark here

"Just go change already!"Bookmark here

"Are you that eager to see me change?"Bookmark here

"Grr!"Bookmark here

Ms. Aria entered her room before I could turn around, leaving me feeling conflicted.Bookmark here

'Why did you have to go and ruin the moment like that?'Bookmark here

I respected her as a teacher, but I still shook my head at her adult self. Bookmark here

'Wait a second, should I ask her how she knows I have a crush on Arisugawa?Bookmark here

... Probably not.'Bookmark here

Temporarily clearing my mind, I focused on making her dinner.Bookmark here

As usual, after I finished working at Ms. Aria's place, I went back to my apartment. Wondering if I missed any messages, I checked my phone while it was still charging, and the only thing that popped up was an invitation to a new chat group.Bookmark here

The name of the chat group was 'High School Life Assistance Club', so I accepted the invitation without a second thought. Now that I read it, our club name seemed kind of long, but I put that thought aside for now.Bookmark here

{This is Haruto Akishiro. Sorry for being late.}Bookmark here

After I sent this text, I scrolled up to see what happened in the group before I joined. I was prepared for a long binge since the group had been created two hours ago, but it was surprisingly, barren.Bookmark here

Not only due to my bias but also from my experience, I believed that popular kids would be pumping out several texts a minute. However, when I looked at the chat group, it seemed less like a personal group and more like a business one.Bookmark here

Furthermore, since only two persons actively participated it was hardly a group either. Arisugawa only sent texts that were related to serious club business and though Kanami tried to change the mood, her jokes would only fall flat among us.Bookmark here

For example, when no one had sent anything after Arisugawa stated when we should meet tomorrow, she posted a cricket meme.Bookmark here

Honestly, the meme wasn't bad, but even if any of us found it funny no one would bother to let the rest know. Bookmark here

As I started to realize that my job in keeping this club afloat would be harder than I imagined, a reply came from Arisugawa.Bookmark here

{It's fine. Please browse through the materials I've sent in the group chat.}Bookmark here

{I'm finishing the paperwork for the club but I'll be here if you have any questions.}Bookmark here

'Oh my gosh! So cool!'Bookmark here

Even through text, I was elated to get this much consideration from her.Bookmark here

{Can I help?}Bookmark here

{No, I'm almost done. But thank you for the offer.}Bookmark here

{Well, I am supposed to be the Vice-President.}Bookmark here

She took longer to reply this time, so I had the time to detour into imaginary land. I pictured a faint smile on her face as she read my message and felt satisfied with just that. However, her response made me even more happy.Bookmark here

{That's true. I look forward to working with you, Vice-President Akishiro.}Bookmark here

It was a standard phrase that was mainly used to be polite, but though my mind could understand that, my heart took any slightly positive things she said and beautified them. Bookmark here

I wasn't a simp, I swore I wasn't a simp, but the more I talked to her the more disdain I had for myself. Still, I couldn't let that permeate my texting.Bookmark here

{I also look forward to working with you, President Arisugawa.}Bookmark here

Overcome by bliss, I stared at the screen, wondering if she would continue our conversation despite how busy she probably was. It felt like a long time, but the moment I saw someone typing my fading excitement burst forth once more.Bookmark here

{Um, this is a group chat you know.} Sent by not Arisugawa.Bookmark here

I couldn't help but be irritated by Kirisaki's interference, but at the same time it also gave me the will to exit the app.Bookmark here

"Maybe I should thank Ms. Aria."Bookmark here

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