I Like You, I Just Don't Know it Yet.
I arrived at my house. Like everyday, I opened the front door that was already unlocked while saying 'I'm home' and closed the door behind me. I took off my shoes at the entrance and was greeted by my little sister from behind my head. I turned my head around and found she was poking her head out from the living room. Although, she quickly hid when realized I noticed she was there.
I arranged my pair of shoes neatly and proceeded to the living room; both to greet my little sister again and see what she was up to. When I entered the living room, I found my little sister was laying on the sofa while reading a certain fashion magazine with her school uniform was still intact. If that was not messy enough, I could also see that she did not bother to put her bag on the table; I found it lying on the floor, far from where she was laying down on.
She was so focused on her magazine that she did not bother to stop reading for a second to look at me and say something. That was until I called her name first. She stopped reading and looked my way.
".... Never mind." I sat down on the very little space left on the sofa, "How long have you been like that?"
"Thirty minutes or so. Why?"
I sighed as I sat down and put my bag on the table.
"Maybe this is why your sight isn't getting any better." I said in a scolding manner, "Sit straight when you're reading." I told her as I took her glasses by force.
"What! Give them back!" Said Rin as she was struggling to get back her glasses.
I did not have enough gas to keep teasing her today and she seemed to be in a bad mood for some reason. I gave in which made her successfully got back what was hers. She put them back on and pouted.
"Shouldn't you be studying for the entrance exam?"
My little sister, Kaizaki Rin, was on her third year in junior high school. She was smart, the smartest kid in her year. Ranking almost always first and a humble person at that. Truly a girl adored by her peers and the girl the teachers praised.
And that admirable little sister was close to entrance examination. The high school she was applying to was my high school, Aoyuusha high school, which known as one of the top schools in the city. If she did not study now, I might be worried about her future.
Rin sat down.
"I tried to, but World History is hard to memorize after all." Rin scoffed, "Well, a genius since born can't possibly understand, can he?"
"..." I hummed, "Yeah, I can't relate."
"The way you say that is irritating." Rin sighed, "Maybe if you could help me...?"
"Sorry. World History is hard to teach."
The very small amount of motivation left in her heart was blown away as she sighed disappointedly. Her shoulders relaxed and dropped herself to the couch.
"I know riiiight." She said sarcastically.
I got up, left my bag and walked toward the kitchen to get a glass of cold orange juice from the fridge. On my way there, I found myself thinking of solution for my sister. I could not teach her nor could Suzuki, I had yet tried asking Toho so I might just do that.
Anyway, I got myself a glass, opened the fridge and poured the cold orange juice into the glass. Even though the orange juice must be cold, it did not feel so in my hand. I always had a condition where I did not, more like could not, feel cold. No matter how cold something was touching me, or when 'cold' wind hit my face, I felt none of that.
That would be a story for another time.
The juice was refreshing. I always bought canned coffee from the vending machine when outside, but I preferred orange juice when at home.
I put the dirty glass in the sink, drowned in water for washing later. I returned to the living room to grab my bag, but instead I found my little sister did not listen to what I said. This was not the first time, so I chose to left her be.
I still had information from Hashimoto, so it was best to be alone when it arrived. I went up to my room at the second floor. I took out my phone from my bag, put the bag on a study table, and dove right onto my own, comfy bed.
I told Rin to not read while laying down when I myself was committing the same crime. The very example of the pot calling the kettle black.
As I was fiddling with my phone with browsing the web and such, I soon began to realize that the room was rather warm. A little too warm to my liking. It was still February, but it already felt like the sultry late summer. I proceeded to open the window to let some nice, 'chilly' wind in.
Together with the window opened, I could feel wind hitting my face gently. The sweats from walking home from school quickly evaporated in a second. It still was not 'cold' enough, but this would have to do in the meantime.
I got back to laying down. Still no messages from Hashimoto. She might be on her way home right now, so I figured I should wait a little longer. For the note, it was not like I was expecting a message from her or anything, okay?
Room temperature, gentle breeze, and silence combined with everything that happened thirty minutes ago really took a toll on me. I was worn out and before I knew it, my eyes were shut and I fell asleep in a matter of minutes.
Until my phone suddenly rang once.
The notification from my phone woke me up. My nap, or in this case early good night sleep, was rudely interrupted by a single phone notification ring. I grabbed my phone to see who it was from. It turned out that one message was from Hashimoto.
I opened the message.
One new message from Lovely Iori ♡
Senpai, please pick up.
Just as I finished reading the content, my phone rang again; this time, it was a phone call. Yep, you guessed it right: it was from Hashimoto herself. What a surprise. Answering the girlfriend's call is the boyfriend's duty... or something like that.
I picked it up.
"Good afternoon, Senpai. I hope I didn't interrupt your nap." Hashimoto chuckled, "Just kidding." She sounded playful when saying that.
Hashimoto's voice sounded a little different in phone call than when we talked face-to-face. The microphone made it sound higher than it actually was. No problem there, since I could still recognize that it was, without a doubt, Hashimoto herself.
The way she greeted me also sounded different. She sounded more calmed now and were speaking in a polite tone.
"Don't worry. You didn't." I yawned after I said that, not sounding convincing at all.
"Senpai, I totally interrupted your nap, didn't I?"
I yawned again.
Even through the bad microphone, I could still hear the helpless yet understandable sigh coming from Hashimoto. The guy she asked for help from was sleeping right after he came home from school. It did sound pathetic when you put it into words, but I digressed.
"Let's get right into it. I'm going to give you the details as well as 'the plan' I've come up with for the event." Hashimoto explained seriously.
While Hashimoto was giving details about time, place and her 'well-constructed plan' to me, I was there sitting on my bed in my own room still wearing uniform listening to her. I had to agree, she was very knowledgeable when explaining everything and her explanation was easy to follow, making it easier for me to digest everything.
She spent quite some time explicating before asking for my input. After hearing all of that, there was nothing I could add.
"That's it from me." Hashimoto then asked, "Do you think something is lacking, Senpai?"
"I think it's a very good plan." I paused, "I know that you thought about this really seriously. I don't have any." I said in a delightful tone.
After that, Hashimoto weirdly fell silent for a moment. All I could hear was her breath through the microphone. I called her several times before she answered me.
"What is it? I thought something happened to you; getting quiet all of a sudden."
"I just... it feels I'm being unfair here."
Even through the phone, I felt the atmosphere around us both drastically changed. It was the same feeling I had back in the school. This girl, Hashimoto, her depressing aura was reaching out to me through the call.
"What do you mean?"
I changed my sitting position from leaning against the wall to sitting straight. Hashimoto took the time to think of her next words.
"I'm asking for your help and yet... you still haven't told me what you want in return."
I had felt the same thing too in the past. Whenever Suzuki ended up helping me, getting in trouble for me, and all sorts of things he did for me, I could only feel helpless and began hating myself. I began getting mad at myself. I was sick of my own helplessness.
Because it was always me that was on the receiving end. I never reached out my hand for him to take. When he fell down, he would smile and get up by himself. When I was knocked down, he would rush and knock down the other person.
To the point I told Suzuki I did not want to cause him any more trouble. I said everything out loud; how I hated myself for being so weak, how I disliked causing nothing but problems for him. However, the guy, after hearing all that, he did not get mad or scold me or anything.
Instead, he smiled and brushed it off. We were friends, so it was only natural for me to help you, or so he said while having the biggest smile ever. I was flabbergasted. To think such a person, who wished nothing in return and thought it was the obvious thing to do, blew my mind. Suzuki was and would always be my friend; not only that, he was someone I set to be my goal.
So I knew how Hashimoto felt. This could probably her first time meeting someone like that. Without me realizing, I was already like Suzuki to her.
But I was no Suzuki and I had a different approach to this matter. Because I knew how frustrating the feeling of not being able to give back was, because I knew how infuriating it was to owe someone something, I could say something else to her.
"How about this." I paused for a second then continued, "I'm going to help you on one condition."
"One condition?" Hashimoto then doubtedly continued, "And what might that be?"
"After everything is done, you'll have to do whatever the one thing I tell you to."
"Geh. Are you for real, Senpai?"
That response really hurts my fragile heart.
"I'm being dead serious here." I said and continued, "I won't help you if you don't agree to this, you know?"
That was a lie. I would still help her even if she did decline. I was only teasing her. Besides, I already knew she would comply to my 'geh' of a condition.
"I understand." Hashimoto made a quick pause before continuing, "Just to make sure, one request, right, Senpai?" She sounded suspicious.
"Don't worry. I won't play dirty."
"Very well. I shall comply."
After all is said and done, I still prefer not to be paid back, though.
Our little deal was settled. Hashimoto agreed to listen to whatever one thing I told her to in exchange for being her boyfriend for a day. There was only one command I had in mind, but that would have to wait for now. I did not want Hashimoto to be grossed out by me.
"Well then, Senpai, I will be in your care." Hashimoto politely said.
After that, she hung up the phone.
I put down my cell phone next to me. I sighed and covered my face with a pillow. Was this the correct thing to do? I knew that I said I wanted to be like Suzuki, someone who helped people out. Still, was accepting her request, being her boyfriend, a fake boyfriend for a day, the correct thing to do when I already had someone in mind?
When I already liked someone else?
I felt like betraying Sakurai and my feelings for her. It felt like I threw all of them out of the window. Hashimoto said this was nothing but an act, a theatrical performance, a play, but did she really mean that? She did not have a boyfriend at least not the real one, but what if she had someone she liked? Wouldn't that mean I was helping her betraying her own feelings?
I didn't know anymore. It was a rough day already, so I should not stress myself with unnecessary negative thoughts. I should just stop here.
The next day came.
Second period had just finished and now we were having recess. Some students went to the cafeteria to grab a quick bite, some went to buy drinks, some took the time to go to the restroom, but most stayed here in the classroom. Talking, sleeping, reading or even reviewing previous lessons. There were lots of things one could do by staying inside the classroom.
Suzuki, Toho and I, were having light conversations about various topics we found interesting; for example, world peace. That was, until another classmate of mine called me from the door. He said that someone wanted to see me.
"I'll be right back." I said to Toho and Suzuki.
"Take your time." Toho replied.
Seeing I was on my way there, the guy who called me went back to his chair. Without having to see with my own two eyes, I already knew who that person was. When I did get to the door, my guess was right.
It was Hashimoto, dressed the same way she did yesterday.
"Yo, Hashimoto. What's up? Did you forget to tell me something?"
It was at that moment, I swore to myself to never do this again. Do what again? Pretending to be someone's boyfriend, ever again.
"Please go out with me, Kaizaki-senpai."
Everyone in the class fell silent.
Not only them, but I, too, was taken aback by this declaration. I did not expect her to confess to me during recess in the morning or worse yet, I did not hear anything about this at all.
A sudden love confession from Hashimoto that was witnessed by everyone in the class. no small talk, just a love confession straight to the point.
In a very short time when everyone's jaw was on the floor, I had to get a hold of myself and play along in this small charade of hers. After all, the play had already begun. Right now, at this very moment.
And so I replied—
"F-fine by me."
"WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!" Or so everyone screamed in unison.
Kaizaki Najimi, age seventeen, year two in Aoyusha high school, got a girlfriend.
This is going to be harder than I thought.