Chapter 1:

An Empty Shell (Ayato)

Escaping Void

AyatoBookmark here

Long time ago, I made a promise to myself that I will never fall in love. To save myself from despair; I created a void. In this void, nobody can get in or out. There's only one thing allowed in there and one thing only. Bookmark here

Myself.Bookmark here

I always considered love as dangerous and fickle. I hate the anticipation, the waiting, but most importantly – I hate to be loved. One wrong move and that love can easily be turned into hate. That’s why being neutral is better. There’s nothing to anticipate or look forward to. I don’t have too feel anything about everything. It keeps me sane and in check. Or so I thought. Bookmark here

So it seems, life have another plan for me. Bookmark here

Just when I thought this is as good as it gets, he appears into my life out of thin air. Every minute, every hour, everyday... my head have been filled with the thoughts of him. My life somehow no longer feels so... empty. I have no idea on how to return to the way I was, so for now... I think I’ll go with the flow.Bookmark here

*****Bookmark here

Around six months ago, my father throw me out from his mansion. I just get expelled from a prestigious academy and naturally he didn’t take the news well. There hasn’t been a single person from Hanai family that has been expel from there before. I was the first one. Obviously, I am bringing shame into our family and for that, I need to be punished.Bookmark here

“Get out from my house! I don’t wanna see your face anymore! Come back once you learn to be a better person.” He shouted at me. That’s my father to you. He’s a no-nonsense man. Everything must follow by his rule of thumbs or you’re as good as dead. It’s no use that he’s a baseball fan as well. Three strikes, and you’re out. I made three mistake so far, and therefore, by his standard – I no longer have a place in his life.Bookmark here

“Young master, are you going to be alright on your own?” I heard my loyal butler, Mr. Shigeru asking. I sighs and give him a painful smile. Bookmark here

When my father throw me out, he put me in this 1 LDK apartment and give some small expenses. I remember my mom crying her eyesball out, begging on my behalf. There’s no way my son is going to make it out there on his own – she said. She keeps on begging and crying to my father so he could change his mind, but she quickly turns quiet as soon as he begin to threaten her with divorce paper.Bookmark here

All her begging and clamoring, just stopped. It all gone, like the wind.Bookmark here

So, here I am – six months later living in a small exile that my father had created for me. Before leaving, I heard about his little ‘bet’ from my mom. He said that I’m going to beg and cry the second I got here, but I never gave him that satisfaction. Instead, I just put away my clothes and dismissed Mr. Shigeru. I told him that he won’t be needed in a shabby 1 LDK such as this one. He cries all the same, but my mind is already made up. As much as he cares for me, nobody have a chance fighting my father. In our household, that man is the KING.Bookmark here

Rich boy. Entitled. Delinquent. I heard those words quite often back in the academy. Honestly, that is a pretty accurate description for most student in Ezen. But it’s the ‘delinquent’ reputation that separate me from the rest of them. Despite of the amount of money my father keeps on throwing at that stupid academy, apparently it is still not enough. Some teachers didn’t took too kindly to my ungentlemanly behavior. They says and I quote, a delinquent like me, shall never confirm to the ways of Ezen. Bookmark here

As a response to that, I decided to rebel even more. My behavior was getting worse everyday and finally the teachers had enough. They could no longer tolerate with my bad boy behavior and decided to sent strings of email to my father about things I have done. They tied it up with attachment of expulsion letter at the very end. Pretty neat and simple, if you ask me.Bookmark here

After my father received the email, all hell break’s loose. I can’t even lie. There are far too much evidence and witness to deny that it doesn’t happened. I was always picking fight and causing trouble at Ezen, but it’s not like I can help it when those kids are so annoying and keep getting on my nerves. Too many politics at hand and far too much drama. I say enough is enough. Bookmark here

If the parents couldn’t discipline them enough, than I don’t mind taking the role of beating those kids on their behalf. I guess the teachers and principle didn’t take too kindly to my approach. So, expulsion is the only way to protect Ezen from its untarnished reputation.Bookmark here

My father cut off his donation into half the moment I left Ezen. He told it straight to my face that if a prestigious academy couldn’t teach his son to be a proper man and a productive member to the society, than he’ll do it with less fraction of the price. There's only one way to do it. He will be sending me off to normal high school. Bookmark here

That’s initially the story on how I got into Kurosawa Highschool in the middle of the year, anyways.Bookmark here

Turns out, being among  the normie's (that’s how kids at Ezen called a normal working-class family) is no better. For all their worth, at least those rich brats at Ezen are more honest and upfront about what they think. Normies are built a bit different. They either too polite or scared to say things to my face. But I still get their message loud and clear.Bookmark here

Rich kid, you’re not one of us so, don’t act too friendly. We know that you’re looking down on us. So, go away. Far, far away.Bookmark here

Better yet.... Go back from where you come from. Bookmark here

The teachers are also the same way. They would smile and nodded, but they never really say what they meant. Underneath their smiles and politeness, hide a mask. I have no intention of ruffling more feathers during my time here, so most of the time – I was cordial. Either they wanted to believe all the rumors they heard or not, I don’t care. I leave it all for them to decide. Bookmark here

*****Bookmark here

Kurokawa Highschool is a co-ed school attend by 2000 students. It was built back in the early 70’s and no matter how one’s look at it, it’s the most bland and normal school that I had ever laid my eyes on. The uniform was boring, the teachers are boring, and the students... well, they are all the same way. The first day I arrive, however – leave an impression on me. For somewhat reason, wherever I go; everyone seems to avoid talking to me or makin an eye contact. I thought they were just shy at first. It’s only later on that I learn that I have earned quite a reputation in my new school. An unfavorable one, at that too... Bookmark here

Kid A: That new rich kid is a bad news. I heard he almost kill one of his classmate from his old school. Bookmark here

Kid B: He’s a delinquent. That’s why he got expelled. I heard even his father disowned him after that incident. He’s nobody now.Bookmark here

Kid C: Be careful with him. I heard he drink his opponent blood like a vampire after a match. Did you notice that he never say a thing in class? He’s scary.Bookmark here

Geez. I guess rumor's flies fast around here too. I wish they could just ask me directly so I could confirm to what they have heard. I blame the teachers for this. They are the only one who knows what happened in Ezen. Apparently now, so does everyone else.Bookmark here

“Ayato-kun, do you have a moment?” ask Reina Sakamoto, the girl from my class. She is one of the most prettiest girl in school and don’t she know it. I stand up and walk towards her in the hallway. Bookmark here

“What is it?” I ask nonchalantly. She smiles.Bookmark here

“Can you help me pick up those boxes, please?” she asks sweetly while batting her eyes. I turn my gaze at three large boxes on the floor. There’s some old handouts and blank paper on those boxes. From the look of it, it doesn’t seem that heavy. But I carry it for her anyways to the teacher’s room. Not because I have a thing for her. It’s simply to get Reina out from my hair. Bookmark here

“So, do you had a partner for the next Chemistry project yet?” she ask, trying to make a light conversation. I shrug my shoulder. She laughs. Bookmark here

“What is that supposed to mean? When someone ask, you should answer. Shrugging in not an answer.” She commented. Yeah, like I need a life lesson from a girl who keeps putting on her make up in class every fifteen minutes. I sighs and turned at her.Bookmark here

“No. I don’t have a partner yet.” I replied. She chuckles. Bookmark here

“Well, what a coincidence. I don’t have a partner too! Perhaps the two of us can...”Bookmark here

“No, thank you.” I interject. She look at me without blinking.Bookmark here

“Err... what did you just say to me? Did you just say ‘no’?”Bookmark here

“Yes, I did.”Bookmark here

“Don’t you know who I am?” she asked back. She already stopped walking. Her face is red.Bookmark here

“Yes, as a matter of fact. You’re the girl from my class who never be able to finish her Chemistry project on time. Now you asking me because everyone else doesn’t want to be partnered with you. There’s a reason for that... It’s because you suck. Now you’re looking for another sucker who will do anything for you as long as you batted those pretty little eyelashes. Now, did I get everything right?” I said without batting an eye. She look at me, her jaw dropped.Bookmark here

I been pretty tight-lipped these past few weeks. I tried not to comment or engage in anything that displeases me. I wonder what has gotten into me today?Bookmark here

Anyway, the pretty girl in front of me is fuming.Bookmark here

“Why you... Well, even if that’s true, you don’t have to be so honest about it! You could’ve say no! I can get a hint!” she exclaim. There's no helping it now the damage is done. I sighs.Bookmark here

“But, I did say no.”Bookmark here

“Shut up! I hate you, Hanai-kun! You’re so mean! This is why you don’t have any friends!” she shouted back. I suddenly stopped walking and turned around. Reina looks a little scared and take one step back away from me. Silly girl. Does she really think that I’m actually going to hit her?Bookmark here

“Yes. You are absolutely right. I have no friends. But, I can still complete my Chemistry project on time unlike someone. So, honestly - I don’t really care what you think.” I slam back. Reina’s face is even redder than before. I quicken my pace towards the teacher’s room and put the box on the floor. Bookmark here

“I think you can do the rest on your own, right? I’m heading back to class.” I said and walk passed her. She’s still standing there, unmoved like a statue. Thanks to Reina little scheme, now I’m going to be late for Mr. Matsumoto math class. That guy temper is horrible and I would hate to get on his bad side. Luckily, he haven’t arrived yet. I sigh off a little relief.Bookmark here

As soon as I opened the door, the class immediately looked up. There’s a few murmurs here and there as I passed by. This is a normal reaction whenever I appear. I walk back to my seat and notice that the boy sitting two seats in front of me is scratching his head. From his body language alone, he seems to be struggling with yesterday homework. That’s too bad. Mr. Matsumoto is going to be here at any minute. Bookmark here

In this class, kids usually shares their homework with one another. But sharing only happens if you’re close. Personally, I don’t prefer it. Wouldn’t it be better if you just teach a person themselves rather than allowing that person to copy the homework? It’s a bad habit and I could never understand it. It’s like that old proverbs says; give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. I think that could also be applied in here.Bookmark here

Don’t this guy have anyone that he can relies on to copy yesterday homework?Bookmark here

I return to my seat and watch the guy with his ongoing struggles. Shortly after I sit down, Reina also arrives. We made an eye contact but she refuse to acknowledge me. I honestly couldn’t care less. A few more minutes passed and finally, the man of the hour appears. As soon as he enters, I can feel the tense atmosphere filling up the classroom. It’s not a secret that Mr. Matsumoto is universally dislike in the class. I may be new to this school, but even I think he’s a little scary. Bookmark here

“Good morning, all.” He said as soon as he put his teaching materials on the desk. The entire class greeted him back.Bookmark here

“Alright, let’s not waste anymore time. Send over your yesterday homework on this desk immediately. Then, we will continue with today lesson.” He said without a smile. Everyone scurry to do as they’re told. I passed by the boy and notice that he’s begin to panic. I don’t know what come over me, but I extend my arm and tap on his shoulder. He turns his head at me.Bookmark here

“Hey, you...” I said. He blinks at me a couple of times. Bookmark here

“Just sent over your homework in front. You’ll be alright.” I said. He looks like he wanted to cry. He seems normal enough. I have no idea he’s such a crybaby...Bookmark here

“But I... didn't finish it yet.” He stutters. I sigh.Bookmark here

“Just tell Mr. Matsumoto the truth. I’m sure he’ll understand.”Bookmark here

The boy seem to be thinking for a moment. Then, he quietly stood up and walk towards Mr. Matsumoto. The man crossed his arms as soon as he see the boy face.Bookmark here

“Well, well... Mr. Asahi. Have you completed the yesterday’s homework?” he asks. The boy paused before looking at me. He turned his head back at Mr. Matsumoto and says;Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, sir. I haven’t finish it yet. It’s too hard and I don’t understand a thing.” He said, pretty straightforward. The entire class almost burst out into laughter, but they stopped as soon as their eyes met Mr. Matsumato. I can see the man shaking his head.Bookmark here

“Hah.... I don’t know what to do with you, Mr. Asahi. Well, you know the drill... Go sit outside until my class is over.” Bookmark here

“Yes, sir.” The boy said and fasten his walk. But, Mr. Matsumoto quickly called him again. Bookmark here

“And take this incomplete homework along with you. You still need to submit it to me before this class is over. Do I have to tell you to do everything?” he added. The class are suppressing their laughter again. After the boy left, it's my turn to put my homework on the pile. But I didn't leave right away.Bookmark here

“Sir, may I have a quick word?” I interrupted. The entire class fell silent. Mr. Matsumoto fixes his glasses that is sliding down his nose. Bookmark here

“Yes, what is it Hanai-san?”Bookmark here

“I don’t feel very well. May I be excused?” I ask him. Mr. Matsumoto look at me intensely. Then, without a word – he grunts. I take that as a yes and quickly leave the class. While walking down the corridor, I noticed that the boy named Asahi is sitting outside of his class. He is looking down at his homework, trying to figure it out the homework on his own. In a glance, I know he’s not making any progress. He seems to have notice me too, but didn’t say a word. I pretend to walk away to the infirmary, only to scoot down next to him after I’m out from Mr. Matsumoto view. Bookmark here

“Shh...” I whispered and put one finger on my mouth. He look surprised, but nodded his head. I show him a sign to turn over his homework at me. He did as he’s told with a confusion. I type something on my phone and showed it to him. Bookmark here

I’m going to help you finished your homework. I type. He nodded his head again. Bookmark here

Fifteen minutes passed by and the boy nearly finishes half of his homework. My back is hurting from sitting on the cold floor but I didn’t say a word. Honestly, it’s a bit challenging trying to teach someone when you can’t use your own voice, but in the end – it all worked out. Bookmark here

You almost got it. I’m going to the leave the infirmary now. See you later. I typed again afterwards. He nodded his head enthusiastically. A part of me is still puzzled by my charitable acts today, while another is just utterly confused. It started with Reina. Ever since I moved here, I have never been that confrontational. The same goes with that boy from my class and Mr. Matsumoto. I tried so hard not to get into any of my classmates business.Bookmark here

Something doesn't feel right today. What is wrong with me?Bookmark here

I went to the infirmary and tell the nurse that I’m not feeling very well. She checked my temperature and it come out as normal. Of course, since I wasn’t actually sick. I finally come up with an excuse that I’m too tired just wanted to catch some sleep. She relented at first, but finally let me me sleep on the infirmary bed with a condition that I won’t be causing her any problem. I take this opportunity to rest my eyes for a bit until Mr. Matsumoto class is over.Bookmark here

-End of Chapter 1-Bookmark here

Golden Boy
Takahashi  Eien
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