Why Does Nobody Find Us Attractive?
The school day had ended, and Juzo was standing next to Nikko's desk waiting for him to pack up his things.
"Hurry up, I wanna get going."
Nikko was trying to shove everything into his bag.
"Yeah, just wait a sec."
Forcing all of his things into the bag, he desperately tried to close the zipper. The bag swelled as if it was about to burst, but the bag did close.
"Yes! Alright, let's head out."
"Don't go yet! Wait for me!"
A few desks over, Reina called over to them as she clumsily pushed everything off her desk into the bag. Seeing her frantic actions, the two boys kept going towards the door.
"Did you hear something, Juzo?"
"No. It's probably nothing."
Reina finished closing her bag and ran after the boys.
Suddenly, the teacher called out to them.
"Hey, you three! I know you guys like to slack off, but the term exams are starting in a bit more than a week. You got summer break afterwards, so just spend some time studying, okay?"
Nikko gave the teacher a thumbs up.
"You got it, coach!"
The teacher sighed.
"Don't call me coach."
"Yeah, whatever you say coach."
After arriving at Nikko's house, the group gathered in the living room. They just chatted for a bit, then Reina brought up an issue.
"We really should study for the exams. We barely passed last year, and there's even more pressure now being our last year."
"Aww, but studying is so boring. Can't I just be allowed to enjoy my last year?"
"But if you don't study, this won't be your last year. Do you really want to be known as the guy who had to take an extra year to graduate?"
"Fine, whatever. How do you feel, Juzo?"
Juzo sat comfortably in his chair.
"Uh, it doesn't bother me. I'll get marks higher than you guys anyways."
Nikko instantly recognized the challenge.
"Oh, really? Wanna bet on it?"
Reina raised her arm.
Nikko settled everyone down.
"Okay, then. The bet will be whoever gets the lowest score will be forced to receive a punishment chosen by the others. Are you guys fine with that?"
The others responded in unison.
"Okay, let's get to studying."
The days leading up to the exams were used for only essential tasks, which prevented the group from doing anything fun and stupid. However, all three were prepared for when exam week arrived. The gruelling week took every bit of energy and motivation of the trio to withstand its punishing tests and essays, but all three successfully made it to the other side. Following the final test's completion, the group visited a restaurant to have a celebratory dinner. Once they received their food, Nikko raised a toast.
"Alright everyone, we did it! For the first, and probably only time, all three of us actually worked hard for something. Good job everybody!"
They all dug into their feasts; Nikko inhaled his mackerel, Reina horfed down tempura, and Juzo shoveled down chicken curry. After finishing their meals, Juzo started a conversation.
"So, what do we do now?"
Reina looked at him, confused.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, we won't get our marks back until we go back to school, and we got a month off. How are we gonna spend our break?"
Nikko scratched his head.
"Dunno. I guess we can do anything we want now."
Reina shot her arm up.
"Ooh! How about we go out somewhere fun tomorrow?"
Reina thought for a while before finding an idea.
"Ah, I know! I went to an aquarium in Matsuno a few years ago, and it was pretty cool! Wanna go there?"
Juzo processed the idea.
"Yeah, if we take the Yodo line from Uwajima station, the trip shouldn't be too long. Okay, let's do it!"
Nikko supported the idea.
"Alright! Meet up at my house in the morning and we'll go to the station together, okay?"
"Aww, man, I'm so excited!"
She glanced at the clock on the wall to see that it was almost 9:00pm.
"Damn, it's getting late. I'm going to head home and get ready. Okay, I'll see you guys tomorrow. Don't be late!"
Reina got up and started to leave, waving at the two as she got to the door. Juzo and Nikko waved back, then started to get ready to leave themselves.
The next morning, Juzo packed a bag with some snacks and drinks. Once he checked to make sure he had everything, he said goodbye to his family.
"Hey, I'm heading out now. I'll be back in the evening."
A chorus of voices called back in unison.
He opened the front door to leave and stepped out. To his surprise, Reina was standing just outside the door.
"Jesus! What are you doing!?"
"Oh, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to scare you."
A voice called out from the house.
"Is everything okay, Juzo?"
"Yeah, Reina just scared me."
"Oh, Reina’s here?"
Another chorus of voices bellowed from the house.
Reina turned to Juzo.
"How many people are in your house again?"
Juzo took a moment to count.
"Um, let's see… ten people."
"Well, let's get going. We don't want to be late."
The two reached Nikko's house after a short walk. Upon arriving, they found Nikko outside playing with a bouncy ball. Once he saw the two enter his property, he whipped the ball at Juzo.
"Hey! What was that for?"
Nikko made a pouting face.
"You guys have kept me waiting for over half an hour. We gotta hurry or we're gonna miss the train."
Adding Nikko to their ranks, the group hastily jogged to the station, getting onto the train with only a couple minutes to spare. They entertained themselves with various stories until they reached their destination. They stepped onto the platform and figured out their route to the aquarium. As they walked, Nikko brought up a question.
"Have you ever been to an aquarium, Juzo?"
"Not in a while. I visited one in Osaka during a trip when I was little, but that's it."
"Did you like it?"
Juzo stared directly at Nikko with a most serious expression.
Juzo's strange behaviour confused Nikko.
Soon, they arrived at the front gates. After buying their tickets, Juzo went to the bulletin to check out the events.
"Ooh, they have both penguin and otter events! We gotta check them out!"
Reina pointed at the board.
"We gotta wait an hour before any of them start. Let's go look around first."
The group entered the exhibit surrounded by walls of fish and other creatures. While Reina and Nikko just casually viewed the displays, Juzo stared in wonder at each and every organism. As he passed through the smaller exhibits, he eventually reached the giant salamander.
"Woah, you're one big dude."
"Yeah, he is."
Juzo spun around to see a girl standing near him. She had a shorter stature with tidy black hair tied in a ponytail. Looking up at her face, Juzo saw her lively brown eyes and excited smile. Juzo's surprised reaction caught her off guard.
"Oh, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to frighten you. You just seemed so fascinated with the salamander."
Juzo realized his mistake.
"Oh, there's no problem. I was just surprised someone was talking to me."
The girl's smile returned.
"If that's the case, would you like to look around the place with me?"
The girl did a little celebration.
"Awesome! I'm Shinobu Nakamura. Please call me Shinobu. It's good to meet you!"
The girl outstretched her hand to Juzo, so he shook it.
"My name is Juzo Kawahara."
"It's good to meet you Juzo, let's go this way! The tunnel section is over there."
Juzo followed the girl down the hall. Meanwhile, Nikko and Reina watched the entire encounter. As Juzo left, Reina stared at Nikko.
"Did he just…"
"Get hit on? Looks like it. Let's follow them."
Reina nodded, and they followed Juzo's trail.
And so Juzo's first date began, though it was completely unbeknownst to him.