Chapter 12:

First Job (3)

Confession Games

After accepting the request and having it displayed on the front page of the club website, Arisugawa explained that we would start by gathering information and dismissed club. Normally this would be when I deflated and dragged my feet home, but that wouldn't be possible thanks to the girl walking next to me. I should actually be heading to get groceries today, but there was no way I could ask her to follow me, so I just decided to head to the supermarket after sending her to the dorm.

The female dormitory was closer to the school than my apartment complex, and there wasn't much traffic on our way there, but my tension was at its peak as I looked out for any witnesses. The two of us were only a few inches away from touching shoulders because she would always get closer whenever I tried to put distance between us, therefore, I was close enough to be seen as walking together with her, alone.

As if I was a wanted criminal on the run, I flinched at the slightest of sounds and couldn't calm down for a minute. Kirisaki, who seemed to notice this, asked if I was okay, so I tried to show a smile and said that I was fine. However, I was obviously not a good actor as Kirisaki chuckled at my behaviour.

"Fufu, you really are weird Akishiro."

"Uh, I suppose I can't argue against that this time. Am I being too strange?" I asked nervously.

Kirisaki answered with her usual sweet smile that would usually soothe my nerves, but the words she said only made my heart condition worse.

"No, I really like this weird side of yours."

'Please, I'm begging you here. Don't say that sort of stuff to me!'

"Uh, thanks but, you don't need to comfort me."

I tried to maintain a troubled expression while looking away from her bright aura, but on the inside I was very conflicted. Part of me wanted our walk to go on forever while the other part wished that it would end as soon as possible. Almost as bad as choosing between two of my favourite games, I didn't know which side to stick to. Furthermore, rather than pushing me to one side, Kirisaki's response only made my internal anguish more intense.

"Comfort? I was just saying my sincere feelings," she said with an carefree expression.

Unlike that aunty, I was sure that she wasn't teasing me, but that still wasn't helping.

'Is this heaven or hell? I really can't decide.'

"Didn't I tell you not to say such misleading things?" I asked while trying to maintain a straight face.

"Misleading? What do you mean?"

Looking at her who had genuine confusion in her eyes, I finally gave up and just accepted whatever what would happen.

I sighed in resignation, "Never mind. Anyways, do you think you'll be able to handle this job?"

"What are you asking at this point? Weren't you the one who wanted me to take it?" asked Kirisaki with a endearing pout.

Slightly grimacing, I replied, "That's true, but I just want to make sure you don't feel like you were pressured into it."

"Then you don't have to worry, this, is something I want to do."

As she spoke, I sensed a firm will in her tone and nodded approvingly.

"I see."

"But, I do feel a little scared," she added with a dark expression.

"Scared? Why? Do you think there's really a ghost or something?" I teased.

"Of course not! It's just that, I wonder if I can take care of such an important mission."

"Hmph, so that's all. Then you can throw away that fear. I told you didn't I, you're not alone. Do you really think a club with members as amazing as ours could possibly fail?"

Pride filled my voice as I thought of the other members of our club. I didn't think I could reach their level, so I was genuinely honoured to have the chance to work with them.

"It hasn't even been a week since club started, how can you be so sure?" she asked.

"Hmm, I can't explain it, but I'm certain. You aren't just pretty faces, each of you has your own talents and special skills. Even Amakawa, probably. Oh, but don't tell her I said that."

"Fufu, okay."

Honestly that last comment was pretty risky, but I wasn't too bothered by it. After resigning myself, I could easily express my thoughts without thinking of the consequences.

Our conversation took a break for a couple seconds, until the intersection in front of the female dormitory was within view.

'So this is about to end, huh?'

Unsure if I was feeling relief or sadness, I kept my gaze on the tall dorm building, then suddenly, Kirisaki uttered something to me in a small voice.

"Even me?"

It wasn't much to go on, but I immediately understood what she meant and replied confidently, "Of course."

Subsequently, Kirisaki froze in place, so I also stopped walking and looked back at her who lowered her face.

"...Idiot." I thought she said.

"Hmm? Did you say something?"

I tried to double-check what she said, but Kirisaki ignored my question and moved swiftly yet gracefully to get in front and then face me. When I saw her face again, there was the same sweet smile that I had become accustomed to, but now there seemed to be something mixed into it. Something that made the sight before me steal my breath away. Like I was watching a goddess, I stared at her with devout focus.

With the setting sun serving as her background, she asked, "Which do you like better, Spring or Fall?"*

It was an abrupt question so I answered off the top of my head.

"Spring, I guess."

"Got it."

Kirisaki then turned around and dashed to the intersection, but just before she crossed it, she waved back at me and said, "Bye, Haru!"

Stunned as she moved further from me and closer to the dorm, I finally understood why she asked that question.

'So that's what she mean by 'Spring' or 'Fall'. I wish no one heard that.'

[*Note: In Japanese, Spring = Haru, Fall = Aki.]

As she went away, my stomach began to churn as I worried about if my parents would soon be notified of my death. However, just a little bit, I thought it might be worth dying after hearing her call me by a nickname.

After sending her off, I went shopping for groceries. Fortunately, nothing strange happened so the rest of my day was normal. But when I was making dinner, Ms. Aria gave me a suspicious look and asked, "Why are you in such a good mood today?"

I was slightly shaken, but I snorted to throw off her suspicions.

"Hmph, what are you talking about? I'm the same as always." 

She didn't seem very convinced, but luckily she didn't bring it up again.

'I guess Kirisaki really made my day then.'

The following day, the girls started looking into the matter of the strange sounds at the female dormitory, so the excitement about our club was still there. Additionally, someone had spotted me entering the clubroom so more eyes were on me, but I was now prepared for these looks so it didn't bother me as much as before. This was especially since I would be doing small jobs with Zakushi after school today. 

To be honest, I actually missed Naoya, as annoying as he normally was. But he was still stuck in bed so it couldn't be helped.

'He normally confesses around this time too. I missed a good show.'

In a surprisingly calm mood, I met up with the others in the clubroom after school before the girls went off to the female dorm, and I went with Zakushi to the staff room. We could have taken jobs assisting students in other clubs like athletic clubs, but Zakushi said that we should minimise our official contact with other students before we finish our first job. I sometimes envied him for being on equal terms with Arisugawa, but I still respected him as my senior so I didn't argue against his suggestion.

"Excuse me."

"Excuse me."

Zakushi and I entered the staff room and faced my math teacher. I caught a glimpse of Ms. Aria, but I wasn't stupid enough to talk to her here of all places. Especially not in front of this scary teacher.

Mr. Takashi was a middle-aged man experiencing balding season, but the sharp gaze that was behind his glasses prevented anyone from pointing it out. We would be taking his orders until our first job was complete so I really hoped that I didn't mess up in front of him.