He considers himself an ‘average person’, and that’s actually right. He’s only an average person just until recently. Performing within the middle ranks, and always unnoticed by people unless if he voices out (which he can’t even do). However, unknown to him, he actually ascended to being a better person within the past school year.
He finished in the middle ranks during the entrance exam (which he also expected of himself) as well as within the first month’s exam, yet scooped up to top 2 during the 2nd monthly exam they had last year. You could say that it’s because he was suddenly motivated, and that he kind of wanted to show-off to Kazumi. Ever since, he’s always either Top 1 or Top 2.
That may be nice and all, but he never realized how much he has improved. Simply put, he’s oblivious to how popular he is as well right now (not that it would matter to him if he knew about it). The part where he’s shy and a reserved person still remains, and compared to Kazumi who can communicate effectively with people and share her thoughts without any problems, Hitoshi is still awkward when it comes to other people, and so despite his popularity, he was only able to talk with Toshio and Akio most of the time.
Nowadays, it’s not about “I’m just an average person” that he’s thinking. It’s more like, “Am I worthy of her?” Despite his achievements that he’s oblivious of, what matters to him is for Kazumi to notice him.
Akio meanwhile, the other ‘intelligent’ student, is always within the Top 10.
Silence ensued within the room, and to avoid making it awkward since no one spoke, Haruka decided to follow up with Toshio’s sarcastic statement.
“Yeah, yeah. Especially since we have both the Top 1 and 2 within this room. Imagine! The knowledge that is embodied within this space!”
Haruka grinned and made some sort of funny expressions.
Seeing this, all of them couldn’t help but laugh.
“Hey, hey. Why are you laughing at me now?!”
“Eh? It’s because you’re making such funny expressions, Haru.”
Everyone laughed a bit again.
Soon after, silence followed right away.
‘I need to say something!’
Hitoshi knew that he should at least say something. If he’s looking on to improve himself when it comes to communicating with people, as well as to talk more with Kazumi, he could at least start it right now.
He was able to gather his courage, but before he could even speak, Kazumi was first before him.
“Come to think about it, how about you, Iwasaki-kun?”
“Ha? Yes? Me? What?”
He was simply dumbfounded. He didn’t know how to respond. He was like a robot with his response.
Kazumi chuckled a bit, then clarified the question she was asking Hitoshi.
“I mean, how did you also do on the monthly exam…”
‘Ahhhhhhhhh. Why am I like this?! I’m so dumb! What else could it have been?! I hope she doesn’t think I’m awkward or what…’
Despite how he actually has a lot to say in his mind, due to his unexpressive nature, Hitoshi was always seen as a reserved person more than being shy. So, suddenly reacting like this, it was a new experience for him, as well as to the four other people within this room.
“I think I did fine. You, Hironaka-san?”
“I did fine as well. Though, there were problems that were really difficult to answer.”
“I think I took a lot of time solving for the math problems we had on the last section of the test.”
“Oh! Likewise here. I didn’t even know if I’d be able to solve them before we had to hand over the papers. Good thing I was still able to do them.”
They proceeded to converse non-stop that it almost seemed like Haruka, Toshio, and Akio were not present within the room.
“What are they talking about?”, Toshio wondered.
“They’re talking about the math exam we recently had last month.”, Haruka followed.
“Gah! Why are we talking about exams at a time like this? Shouldn’t we talk about something peaceful? Like maybe club activities or hobbies or something else?”
Haruka already had an answer to it, but Akio quickly responded also.
“It’s probably the only thing they could talk about right now, no? Given that they’re the top students.”
“Ohh, that’s true. Haa. Must be nice being able to converse on a different dimension.”
Once again, Toshio’s sarcastic tone abounded.
By ‘different dimesnion’, he meant that they were able to converse on a topic that only they could understand themselves. Of course, this wasn’t intentional by Hitoshi and Kazumi. It’s just that, it’s the easiest thing to talk about right now. They actually support the two of them for this.
The five of them conversed a lot during lunch time, and after eating, Hitoshi tidied up the materials that weren’t kept by the other club members.
‘They’ll probably use it again later, but best to keep it for now.’
He probably didn’t notice it, but Kazumi was staring at him as he did this.
As they got back to the classroom, it was just a few minutes before the bell rang for the afternoon classes.
However, something was different now, compared to earlier morning, it’s like something miraculous happened this time. That’s how everyone will definitely interpret it. They were just silent the whole time during the morning, and even at most times, to say the truth. These two seatmates were always like that. However, the noise they made right now was noticeable that even their classmates couldn’t help but stare at the two of them. That is, of course, Kazumi and Hitoshi together.
“Alele? What do we have here? Lovebirds sighted!”
“Stop acting like a child. They’re just conversing normally.”
Toshio and Akio were bantering. They weren’t seatmates, but since the teacher wasn’t present yet, Toshio would go beside Akio until the teacher arrives, or when his seatmate was about to seat.
“In any case, it’s good that they’re even able to converse normally now. Rather than him staring at her endlessly like a stalker and not saying a word, this is way better.”
“Haha, that’s true. Concerned about him, are you?”
Toshio was simply teasing Akio as he pointed his finger towards him.
“Ah, you’re no fun.”
Before Toshio could tease him again, Akio’s expression turned slightly serious as he gave off a warm smile, all the while staring unto his table.
“It’s just that, romance is a dangerous path to tread. No one knows how it will end up until the moment you say something that can’t be taken back. And besides, we’re his friends, so what other role do we have other than supporting him?”
Toshio’s jaws dropped. It was like he saw something that was rarely seen. Well, it was indeed rarely seen, which is why his expression to this makes sense.
“I-I had no idea you were into romance, Akio.”
“What are you, an idiot? I was just reading about it. I’m not into it.”
“But couldn’t you say that you’re also into it because you’re reading about it?”
Suddenly, Toshio taps Akio’s shoulder.
“What is it now?”
“I have an idea. Wanna hear about it?”
And so, a plan behind Hitoshi’s back was in motion.
Over the course of last school year, it was then that Akio and Toshio found out that Hitoshi likes Kazumi. However, they never told him that since they know how he’s so awkward about himself. They decided then that they’ll simply support him from behind, and when the time comes that he tells them, they’ll simply respond by giving their full support.
~Afternoon class ends~
Each of them was headed towards their respective club activities, but unknown to Hitoshi, a plan was about to be set in action.
“Hey, Yano-san. Can we talk to you about something?”
Toshio and Akio approached Haruka as Kazumi left for the Literature club already. Hitoshi goes with Akio and Haruka most of the time, unless one of them has something else to do first, so he was just waiting for them to finish talking. He was curious about what they were talking about, but it doesn’t seem like it’s simply the friendly banter, so he simply waited.
‘I wonder what they could be talking about?’
“Got you. Leave it to me.”
Explaining everything and concluding their plan, Haruka agreed and was decided on what she’ll be doing.
~In the Art Clubroom~
“Ah, I’m kinda slow in painting right now.”, Hitoshi muttered out of nowhere.
“I feel you on that, Iwasaki-kun. It hasn’t even been a week since our exams ended, and we’re already bombarded with things to do right now. No wonder one will feel laidback.”
So, what is the plan all about? It is simply to hitch an opportunity to leave time for Kazumi and Hitoshi to be alone. That is, going home together. It probably would've been too fast of a step since they just started conversing yet again today. However, both of them aren't strangers to each other. They've been classmates for a year, both are top-notchers in their respective batch, and actually belong in the same circle of friends, despite that it was always Haruka and Toshio doing the talking. Now that they were able to converse with each other, what better option is there than to let things progress even further?
Haruka doesn't really know what sort of impression Kazumi has of Hitoshi, but since she occassionally looks his way sometimes, it must mean that she's at least interested in him.
'She doesn't really tell anything about that to me. Maybe it's because she can't understand it herself.'
The three of them, Akio, Hitoshi, and Haruka are in the Art clubroom, while Toshio was in his basketball practice.
A bit surprised hearing his name, Hitoshi looked in the direction of the voice. It was Haruka. With her short green hair fluttering just near her shoulders, it was quite the sight to look at.
"What is it, Yano-san?"
"Is there anyone you like?"
" "Gah!"? "
Even more surprised with the question, he blurted out that expression as his eyes widened. He also started to blush, thinking about Kazumi. Akio already knew what was on his mind when Haruka asked the question, and while Haruka had an idea also, she doesn't have any confirmation of it since they weren't really that close compared to being with Toshio.
Hitoshi coughed a bit due to that sudden attack of a question.
"W-what is that suddenly about?"
"Hmm... I'm just curious if there's anyone you like. I mean, isn't that a normal question for teenagers like us?"
"Eh?! Is it?"
"What do you think about Kazumi?"