Kirisaki's message ended up being the last message of the night. I was worried about the future of this club, but instead of wasting time staying up to see any changes, I slept so that I could be prepared for that thing known as school.
The next day, I was fully ready for club but classes came before that. Maybe even more than usual, my shoulders slumped at the thought of going through another day of school. When I got to school, I started looking around warily, but quickly found out that my fears were only in my head, for now at least.
I anticipated a big reaction once our club was revealed, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone talked about it to their friends and got it to spread like wildfire.
'Speaking of, what should I tell him?'
A couple minutes after reaching my class and taking my seat by the window, Naoya arrived.
"By the way, where did you go yesterday? You left class early but I didn't see you leaving the school."
'Ah, here it comes.'
I would have been more stressed if this was suddenly sprung on me, but since I predicted the question I already had a response ready.
"Oh, I joined a club."
Since it would be revealed anyway, I decided to give him a basic idea of my situation.
"Really? What club did you join?"
'Ah crap, I didn't think about this!'
"Um, it's a new service club."
"Hmm? You finally joined a club and it's a service club? That sounds kind of..."
Watching as Naoya became suspicious, I hastily tried to think of an excuse I could use to get him to back off.
"Uh, what's wrong with me joining a service club? I-I like helping the community."
"Then why didn't you join the other one before now?"
'Damn it! Why are you so uselessly sharp at a time like this?'
Incapable of quickly coming up with a way to dismiss Naoya's suspicions, I decided to just keep my mouth sealed. After all, it wasn't like he could figure anything out if I didn't tell him.
Once I stayed silent, Naoya sat down in his seat which was to the right of mine, while still staring at me. He wasn't the type to obsess over a topic like this for too long, so I was sure that he would get bored soon enough. However, once more Naoya displayed a uselessly high degree of intelligence when I least wanted him to.
He smacked one hand on the other with a face that screamed realisation and said, "Oh, I know! There's a girl you like in it, isn't there?"
Immediately, I froze in place. Shocked by how abnormally on point his answer was, I couldn't even come up with a countermeasure. I could only clench my trembling fist and wait for him to say it.
Naoya continued, "And that girl must be,"
'Here it comes.'
"Your new crush!"
I was sure that he had figured out that I was in a club with Arisugawa, but his answer was more and more off as he went on.
"So, you finally moved on from Arisugawa, huh? Took you long enough."
"What? What makes you think that?"
"Well, there's no way you can be lucky enough to join a new club with Arisugawa in it, which means it has to be different girl. But why didn't you tell me you found a another crush? I always tell you about mine."
Once I was sure that his thoughts no longer matched the truth, I internally breathed a sigh of relief before rolling my eyes and responding.
"It's not like I ask you to tell me about them. I'm not that eager for your weekly report."
"Oh, don't be like that. Maybe I can help you."
"No, how about you keep that help until you can manage to date a decent girl for once?"
"Eh, that might be a bit..."
As Naoya scratched his head with an awkward smile, I wondered if I should tell him the truth but ultimately decided against it. He was a friend I could trust, but his ability to keep a secret wasn't something I thought highly of.
After that incident with Naoya, the rest of the day went by peacefully. There was a time when I passed by Kirisaki in the cafeteria, but thanks to my agility and quick reflexes I was able to flee the area before she could spot me. Before yesterday she had never talked to me, and even when she first did, it was when we were alone, but I wasn't sure if she knew how bothersome it would be for me to talk to her in public or if she had simply taken the opportunity that presented itself. I thought about talking to her about it in club today, but since I would basically be telling her not to talk to me outside of club, I was hesitant. After all, though I didn't mean it that way it was easy to imagine it sounding like I was ashamed to be seen speaking with her. No matter how far from the truth that actually was.
I continued to worry about this issue until school was over and I got up to go to the clubroom. I planned on going straight there, but then I noticed a certain boy following me.
"Naoya, why are you following me?" I asked with an exasperated tone.
"You're going to that club, aren't you? Let me come with."
"No, go home."
"Aw come on, I won't say anything, I just want to see the girl you like."
One look at his expression and I was sure that he wasn't backing down, so I adjusted my original plan.
I pointed behind him and asked, "Hmm, wait, isn't that the upperclassman you confessed to last week?"
The moment his attention was drawn away, I ran away and hid myself behind a corner.
"I don't see her. Wait! Haruto!"
A couple seconds later, he realised that he had been duped and ran after me, but wasn't able to find me.
With him off my tail, I resumed my trip to the clubroom.
"Excuse me. Good evening."
"Good evening, Akishiro."
I was momentarily stunned by the one who greeted me when I entered the room. Sitting with her back to the door, was Arisugawa while Amakawa sat near to her on the right of the group of desks. Arisugawa was typing away on a laptop while Amakawa was fiddling with her phone, which also allowed me to get a better look at her light-purple fingernails. Despite how she acted during confessions, I hardly heard of her getting into any trouble and I doubted that most teachers here would care about her nails. Besides, more than her reputation I was worried about my own.
As I took a seat at the last desk on the left, I couldn't help wondering if I had made a mistake. I was sure that I didn't come late, but it wasn't strange for bosses to find fault in their employees for not coming several minutes early.
'Should I apologize for being late? But wouldn't it be too late now? Ugh, I need to do something.'
"Um, is there anything I can help with?" I asked nervously.
In turn, Arisugawa responded without lifting her head from the laptop.
"No, I've finished the paperwork and I'm having an acquaintance make our website so there won't be much to be done until it's up and running. I'll explain the rest when the others get here."
Maybe I would have felt better if given a task, but I would probably also be worried about messing up so I was neither relieved nor upset by her reply. However, like an awkward employee meeting his boss, I didn't know what I should do with this free time.
My heart fluttered at the fresh sight of a focused Arisugawa, but I didn't want to get caught staring at her so I reluctantly looked away. I then moved my gaze to Amakawa.
'Now that I think about? She doesn't speak very much.'
Within the bounds of the club, I couldn't recall hearing an input from Amakawa a single time. This didn't mean I saw her in a bad light or anything, it just seemed odd for 'the queen' to be so, quiet.
I continued to stare at her with a pensive expression, but the moment she paused her thumb that was tapping the phone screen, and I saw the tiniest movement of her eyes, I swiftly and subtly lowered my gaze.
'As expected, she's still scary!'
I didn't have the guts to go back to looking at either of them so the options left for me to pass the time were my phone and my homework. It was obvious which one I would prefer, but I hesitated.
'Would I seem lazy if I took my phone out?'
Amakawa might have been doing it, but would I be able to get away with it too? Could I really play the cool and apathetic guy here?
I continued to be troubled by this issue until our last two members finally arrived.
'Whew~, I should come up with a plan in case this happens again.'
Once they arrived, Arisugawa took her eyes off the laptop and told them the same thing that she told me. I thought that this would go without conflict, but I was too naive.
"Then is there a point to this meeting?" Zakushi asked.
It would be easy to interrupt his question as a sign of hostility, so I tensed up as I anxiously waited for Arisugawa's response along with Kirisaki. I was worried that I would have to sit in fear while the two waged verbal war, but fortunately Arisugawa didn't take offense to his question.
"Naturally, I have another item on the agenda. Take a look at this."
She turned around the laptop and showed us the template for a website.
"Is this how the club site will be set up?"
I was the first to ask about what was displayed on the screen to prevent any more conflicts that could start.
"That's right. If you're all satisfied with it, I'll send the final product over the weekend and we can have it up for school use by Monday."
"Sounds good. It looks fine to me," I answered.
"Me too. But it could use a few decorations to make it cuter," said Kirisaki.
"Decorations?" Arisugawa asked.
"That's right. Like flowers or ribbons, or maybe we can use the school crest."
"Hmm, that's a good idea. Let's talk about it more after club."
I was surprised by how Kirisaki was able to voice her opinion, but then again maybe I just found it too hard to go against anything Arisugawa decided.
Lastly, was Zakushi, well Zakushi and Amakawa but no one expected her to give a response.
It wasn't much, but once he expressed his approval my body felt much lighter and relief filled my chest.
'The club survives another day.'