Why Does Nobody Find Us Attractive?
Nikko reached into the vending machine dispenser and grabbed his drinks. He walked towards Reina, who was sitting on a bench in the station platform. Nikko took a seat and handed her a drink.
"What happened to Juzo?"
"Shinobu wanted to talk to him. Privately."
"Real shit!? Damn, that bastard is gonna beat us."
Reina gave Nikko a confused look.
"Since when was this a competition?"
"Everything is a competition. You just pretend it's not, because you always lose."
Outside of the station, Juzo leaned against the wall while Shinobu stood in front of him.
"What'd you wanna tell me?"
Shinobu looked at the ground, dragging her feet in small strokes.
"I had a lot of fun with you today, Juzo. I've never met anyone like you before."
"Wait, am I being complimented? That's never happened before."
"Well, you're a very kind person. I don't think anyone else has ever hoisted me up on their shoulders to help me see something better. Maybe my dad when I was little, but that's it."
"So, are you telling me you want me to be your dad?"
"No, why would you say something like that!? But that's the thing, being around you is so entertaining. I never know what new, fun thing you'll do next. I want to spend more time with you, Juzo. I think… I think that I like you."
Juzo stood silently for a few moments. After collecting his thoughts, he spoke.
"First of all, your courage to tell me this is very admirable. Thank you. I've had a wonderful day with you today, and you're already an important person to me. But we've only known each other for a short time. You only know a small part of me, and I know a small part of you."
Tears started rolling down Shinobu's face. She wiped them with her arm while she responded.
"Yeah, you're right. I'm so stupid, saying all of this to you when I've only met you today. I'm sorry for doing this to you."
Juzo put his hand on her shoulder.
"Don't say that. You expressed your emotions, there is nothing to be sorry for. I'll tell you what, if you move to Uwajima for that job, let's spend some time getting to know each other better. After that, we'll see what happens."
Shinobu looked up at Juzo, still with her eyes watering.
"Okay, I think that's a good idea."
An announcement echoed from the station, informing Juzo of his incoming train. He checked his watch to confirm that it was his train coming.
"I gotta get going. Oh, crap, I didn't give you my phone number, did I? Quickly, pull out your phone."
Shinobu whipped her phone out swiftly and added Juzo.
"Okay, I got it. You better get going."
"Yeah, I know. Goodbye!"
Juzo ran into the station as Shinobu waved farewell. He speedily scanned his pass and jumped into the train, the doors closing only a handful of seconds later. He strolled down the car and took his seat in the row behind Nikko and Reina. He sat quietly for a bit, but the other two couldn't contain their curiosity. Nikko leaned over the back of his seat.
"So, what happened?"
"Yeah, tell us."
Juzo shrugged and leaned back into his seat.
"I dunno. Nothing, really."
Nikko didn't buy it.
"Bullshit! Tell us!"
"Keep your voice down. There are other people on this train."
"Well, you better start talking before I cause a ruckus."
"Uhh, fine. Shinobu just wanted to talk, so we talked."
Reina reached out and whacked his arm.
"You're starting to piss me off. Tell us what she said."
"Uhm, well, I guess she confessed to me."
Reina was skeptical.
"Confessed what? Knowing you, you're probably gonna say she confessed that she's a criminal, or an alien, or something else ridiculous. Please, clarify your answer."
Juzo finally caved in.
"Shinobu confessed that she likes me. Are you happy now?"
Nikko grabbed Juzo's hand and attempted a one sided handshake, shaking Juzo's limp arm around.
"You did it! You crazy son of a bitch, you did it!"
Reina also couldn't hold her excitement.
"Oh my god! What did you say to her?"
"I told her to ask me again when we got to know each other better."
Reina and Nikko stopped in their tracks.
"I've only known her for a few hours, immediately going into a relationship with her would be irresponsible."
Reina started yelling.
"So you told that sweet, kind girl to ask you again later? It takes a lot of courage to confess your feelings, and you shot her down. You are an asshole."
Juzo was becoming irritated with their response.
"Hey! It was my decision to make, so I did what I thought to be in the best interest of both of us."
Nikko was making sure his disappointment was known.
"You were given the chance of a lifetime. A girl fell in love with you at first sight, and you turned her down. You blew it, man. You threw away the best opportunity you'll ever get, and now you look like a bitch. Congratulations, you'll be alone forever."
Juzo confusingly glared at Nikko.
"What kind of shit are you spewing out? I turned her down for now because I didn't want her to end up being in a relationship without having a better idea of me. The worst possible thing that could happen is if I ended up hurting her because we rushed everything. I didn't want that to happen."
Nikko and Reina realized what Juzo's intentions were. Remorseful for their comments, they both apologized.
Juzo had calmed back down and nestled into his seat.
"Yeah, it's fine. It's been a long day and I'm tired, so excuse me if my patience is short."
Reina was impressed by Juzo's actions.
"You know, it's really admirable that you considered Shinobu's feelings that much. You're a good person, I hope you know that."
Juzo blushed a bit from the comments.
"I try my best. What kind of friend would I be if I didn't think about their well-being? Anyways, I'm tired, so please let me sleep."
Juzo leaned back and closed his eyes, ending the conversation. Reina turned back to Nikko.
"What a strange guy. Wasn't he the one who would always say that he couldn't talk to girls? Seems to me that he is more than comfortable."
"Who knows? I don't really know what's going through his head, but I wonder if he's just been acting a certain way at school. Maybe because we're away from that environment, he can interact with others the way he wants."
Nikko's hypothesis confused Reina.
"What are you trying to say?"
Nikko took a moment to organize his thoughts.
"Well, by the time we met Juzo, he was already a social outcast at school. We don't know what he was like before we met him. I think he might have been an outgoing and considerate person, but stopped all that once his classmates no longer wanted anything to do with him. Because we're in a place where no one is treating him any different, I think he's able to act like himself."
Reina still looked confused.
"I understood a bit of what you said, but I'm just going to pretend I got all of it. I'm going to rest for a bit, so please leave me alone."
Reina turned to face away from Nikko and closed her eyes. Left by himself, Nikko began to reflect on the day's events.
"Wait, how come Juzo got hit on, but I didn't!?"
And so, Nikko cried depressingly during the train ride back.