Why Does Nobody Find Us Attractive?
"So, are you still in high school?"
Juzo looked to his side to see Shinobu staring at him.
"Uh, yeah, I am. Third year."
"Oh, cool. I graduated last year."
Juzo shot a surprised look.
"Really? But you're just so small. Are you sure you're older than me?"
Shinobu lightly whacked his arm.
"Hey! It's not nice to talk to your senpai like that."
Shinobu mockingly stuck her tongue out at Juzo. He responded by returning the favour. As they walked down the hall a bit more, they reached the tunnel exhibit. The hall was encased by the depths of a river, bountiful in various species roaming their artificial habitat. Juzo and Shinobu looked to the ceiling, getting a view of the underbellies of the fish swimming over top of them. Both stared in awe for several moments before Juzo muttered something.
Shinobu responded, still entranced by the fish swimming around.
The two stood there for a while longer when Nikko and Reina arrived. Seeing the two just standing there, Nikko decided to get things moving.
"Excuse me, but I'd like to see the exhibit, too."
Shinobu snapped out of her trance first.
"Oh, I'm so sorry! C'mon Juzo, we're in the way."
She grabbed Juzo's arm and started dragging him out before he even realized what was happening. She brought him over to a bench and she took a seat, but Juzo remained standing. He glanced over at the exhibit he just left and saw Nikko and Reina, who both gave him a thumbs up. Shinobu called him to grab his attention.
"Hey, Juzo, what did you think of the fish?"
Juzo directed his focus to Shinobu.
"You mean the pirarucu? It was amazing! I saw one once when I was little in Osaka, but this time was just as exciting!"
"Yeah, I know! They're so huge and majestic! I wanted to pet them."
"I don't think they'd like being touched. Maybe they'll ram into you instead."
"No, they'll see how friendly I am. Then they all will come to me to be petted."
"Oh, really now? I'd like to see that."
"Maybe later. I'm tired right now."
Before Juzo could say anything, his stomach interrupted with a growl. Shinobu laughed.
"Sounds like someone is hungry."
Juzo looked at his watch. It read 2:55.
"Oh, wow. It's later than I thought. I guess I should get something to…"
Suddenly, Juzo remembered the bulletin board in the front area. The penguin show would start at 3:00.
"Oh, shit! The penguin show is starting in five minutes! We gotta get going!"
Juzo grabbed Shinobu's hand and ran with her towards the penguin exhibit. The pair arrived just as the trainer started to introduce the penguins, but were stuck in the far corner of the crowd. Juzo was relieved, nevertheless.
"Oh, thank God. We haven't missed anything yet."
Looking around at the crowd, Juzo located Nikko and Reina standing in the opposite corner at the front.
"Do you wanna try and move closer? My friends are further up."
Shinobu shook her head.
"It's not very nice to shove our way through to get a better spot, especially when we came late."
"Alright, then. We'll watch from here."
The show got started with the penguins doing various tricks in exchange for food. As Juzo enjoyed the show, he looked over at Shinobu, who was trying to look around the sea of heads in her way.
"Having trouble seeing?"
Shinobu, filled with embarrassment, refused to look at him.
"Do you want me to boost you up?"
Shinobu turned to him in surprise.
"Huh!? What do you mean?"
Juzo took a knee and positioned himself to give Shinobu a piggyback.
"Hurry up and get on."
Shinobu hesitantly climbed onto his back. After making sure she was secure, Juzo rose to his feet. Shinobu quickly forgot about her embarrassment as she gazed upon the show.
"Oh, look at that one! It's going down a slide! It's so cute!"
The show went on for a few more minutes, filled with more cute penguin action. Following the show's conclusion, Juzo went to reunite with Reina and Nikko.
"Hey, what'd you think of the show?"
Reina responded first, wearing a delighted smile on her face.
"They were so cool! I wanna bring one home!"
Nikko, however, was more focused on the girl standing beside Juzo.
"The show was fun, but who's this you're keeping company?"
"This is Shinobu Nakamura. She loves fish and animals as much as me."
Reina was quick to shove Nikko out of her way to get a better look at Shinobu.
"Wow, you're so pretty! My name is Reina Iwayama, I'm a friend of Juzo. It's good to meet you!"
"Likewise! I always enjoy meeting new friends!"
Nikko took his turn to introduce himself.
"Hello, there. My name is Nikko Murano. Now, you're probably wondering why I'm so attractive. Well, my dear, the answer to that is…"
Reina slapped Nikko in the stomach, abruptly stopping him mid-sentence.
"Idiot! She's Juzo's, remember?"
With Nikko's stupidity temporarily subdued, Reina turned back to Shinobu.
"Well, me and Nikko are hungry, so we're going somewhere to eat. Would you like to come with us, Shinobu?"
Shinobu was surprised by the sudden offer.
"I… I don't want to intrude…"
Juzo saw her hesitation and interjected.
"Nonsense! We all want you to come along. What do you say?"
"Okay, then, if you insist."
The group departed from the aquarium and took a short walk to a nearby cafe. Grabbing a table near the window, the group took some time to get to know their new friend. Reina was the first one to question her.
"So, where do you go to school?"
"Well, actually, I graduated high school last year. I didn't really know what I wanted to do, so I've been going around looking for random jobs."
Nikko was shocked that Shinobu was older than him, but that didn't stop him from talking to her with his mouth full.
"What, really!? You're older!?"
Ignoring Nikko's rudeness, Reina continued her questions.
"How's that been going?"
"Not good. You'd think living in a motel working at a fast food joint for eight hours a day would be a dream, but no. The last few months have been terrible. That's why I came here; I wanted to cheer myself up."
Shinobu's liveliness was completely gone, left with regret over her past choices. Seeing her new friend's despair, Reina decided to try and help.
"Shinobu, would you be willing to move to Uwajima for a job?"
"At this point, I'd be willing to go to Hokkaido for work."
"Well, it just so happens that my uncle's aquarium store has been short staffed for a while. I can let him know if you're willing to help out."
Shinobu dropped her spoon, flinging a small amount of her curry across the table.
"Are you serious?"
Shinobu grasped Reina's hand.
"Thank you so much! You don't know how much that means to me!"
"Of course! I'm just happy that I could help you out."
They group finished eating, but now it was time for the trio to head back home. Shinobu walked with them as they went towards the station. As they arrived outside of their destination, Shinobu grabbed Juzo's hand
"Can I talk to for a second?"