The next day, I got up and went to school as usual, but things were different. Early this morning, Arisugawa was able to confirm that the first job was complete and posted it on our club's website, but I knew that wasn't the main reason behind the glares I got on the way to school.
'So it's already spread this far, huh?'
Unless something completely unexpected happened that I wasn't aware of, I was sure that they had heard about the incident that occurred in my class yesterday and also saw me as the villain. I saw it coming so I wasn't too surprised, but I still felt more stressed out by it.
I continued towards school with my head lowered and my back slumped, but not for long as I heard a cheerful voice call my name.
"Akishiro, wait up!"
Although I didn't think I was surrounded by Akishiro's, all of the nearby students including me, turned towards the source of that voice. With her twintails swinging in the breeze as she jogged and a smile that could brighten one's day like the sun, came Kirisaki. However, with absolutely no offence to her, I really didn't like the idea of walking to school with her in my current situation. Still, ignoring her wouldn't make things any better so I reluctantly slowed down until she caught up.
"Hey," she said energetically once she was right next to me.
I responded similarly and curtly with, "Hey," before shutting up and keeping my eyes on the path ahead. Considering yesterday and now, word that I was especially close with Kirisaki was likely being spread at this very moment, but I hesitated to reveal our usual relationship.
Unfortunately, she didn't seem to notice that as she tried to start up a conversation.
"You know, I talked to Hina about celebrating the birth of our club and the completion of our first job and she agreed. We're planning on going out and having fun together as a club, what do you think?"
I wanted to keep the chatter to a minimum, but since the topic was related to the club I felt obligated to reply.
"That sounds good."
I gave my opinion in as few words as possible and hoped that this would be the end, but Kirisaki continued.
"Great. Now we just need to run it by Zakushi and we can start sorting out the details. By the way, would you busy on any incoming weekend?"
"Not particularly at the moment."
"Any places you'd want to visit with the rest of us?"
"Can't think of any."
I tried to convey my intentions silently but either she was oblivious to these attempts or ignored them. Despite knowing that it wasn't her fault, I felt my irritation rising as she kept talking and I was targeted by more and more sharp gazes.
'Damn it, why do I have to suffer like this?'
My growing frustration eventually erupted when we reached the entrance of the first year building. Right as we were about to part ways, I spoke at a volume only she could hear with a firm yet apologetic tone.
"I'm sorry, but could you not talk to me as much outside of club?"
Afraid of the expression I would see on her face, I went on to my classroom so fast I was basically running. I didn't dare to check back on her but when my phone vibrated, I took it out immediately and checked who it was before accepting the call.
"Zakushi?" I said in an uncertain tone.
"Yes, did you not save my number?" A familiar voice asked.
Once I heard that apathetic and slightly rough tone, I quickly went towards a quiet spot near the staircase so that I could hear him better.
"No no, I was surprised since this is the first time you've called me. Even so, I don't believe you called just to say hi. Should I meet you somewhere?"
"No, this shouldn't take too long."
Zakushi then filled me in on his solution for my issue. I was impressed by the fact that he already had a plan, but it required me to confront someone in public so I was reluctant to go through with it.
"The plan itself sounds fine, but isn't there a more peaceful way of proving my worth?" I asked.
I felt shameless for doing this when he was already helping me this much, but my weak-willed self couldn't readily agree to seriously facing someone even if it was an act.
"There is, but it won't be enough. Even if we give you a difficult job to complete, unless they're able to see the entire process they'll just say that you had help from the other members behind the scenes. To brush off the jealous crowd you need to prove that you deserve your position, and in this case the most suitable way to do that is to overpower their envy with your passion."
I wasn't completely convinced, but I wasn't thick skinned enough to continue whining.
"Okay. I'm not sure I can pull it off, but I'll at least try. Do you have a date yet?"
"...Hahaha, you're, joking right?"
"Do you really think so?"
"Well, no, but-"
"Then prepare yourself and make your resolve. See you at club."
Zakushi then hung up. I stayed standing in the corner I was in, with one hand on my head.
'Tomorrow?! Then that means it'll be during the 'special' class. Just great, and I thought I had more than enough to worry about already.'
As I thought about tomorrow, I headed towards my class while ignoring the stinging gazes without even meaning to. I kept my head down but I wasn't really depressed or scared, this was just how I acted when I was walking while deep in thought. However, my focus was broken when a guy who had been missing shouted my name.
Naoya ran up and wrapped his arm around my neck with a carefree attitude as soon as I entered. I had honestly forgotten that he was supposed to return to school today, but I was more surprised by the way he acted. I knew that Naoya was the type to pay attention to what happened at school, and this would be especially the case since he was absent, therefore he should definitely know what happened yesterday in class, but I couldn't tell that from his atmosphere. It wasn't like I trusted him so little that I thought he would be quick to turn his back on me, but I still expected some awkwardness between us. However, he was just the same as always, and I was grateful to him for that.
Before I knew it, a smile popped up on my face as I replied, "You're finally back, huh? You better pray that none of our teachers give a pop quiz."
"Ugh, don't remind me. I had my roommate get the notes for me but I just can't find the motivation to look at them."
"Oh please, when do you ever have the motivation?"
"Hahaha, good point."
We laughed and smiled while heading towards our desks, completely ignoring the glares of our classmates. Since he didn't even question these looks we were getting, I was sure that he knew what happened and so I also didn't touch on it. I thought he would totally avoid talking about the situation, but once we got to our seats he brought it up.
"By the way, didn't you promise me an explanation last time?" he asked.
"Hmph, I don't remember promising anything, but it's not much of a secret anymore so I guess I can tell you. Basically, I was recommended by a teacher to join a certain club that the staff put together. I only found out who the other members were on the first day of club so I was pretty surprised, but well, I can't say I hated it."
I purposefully said this with a higher volume, but I doubted that my enemies would back off just because I explained my position.
"Hehe, sounds like you got freakin' lucky," said Naoya as he slapped me on the back while laughing boisterously.
I chuckled as I replied, "You could say that."
"So you got in a club with your crush, looks like I'm going to need to try harder or else you'll get a proper girlfriend before I do."
"Well, I wouldn't say that."
While I had a better chance than before, I still didn't possess the confidence or the courage to confess my feelings like Naoya.
As I thought about Naoya's confessions, I was reminded of what he had told me before he ended up sick.
"By the way, didn't you plan on confessing to your new crush this week, what's happening with that?" I asked.
"Oh, I'm doing it today," Naoya replied calmly,
He said it so casually that I nearly accepted it without question, but once I properly processed his words I turned towards him in shock.
"Wait, today?! Isn't that sudden?"
"No, I've already got my lines ready. Besides, we have special class tomorrow."
At Yorukobi Academy, on the last Saturday of every month, there would be a special event where students of different class and grades would be put together to socialise. Last time they only shuffled students of the same year as we were new to the school, but this time wouldn't be same.
That special class was another worry of mine so I couldn't understand why Naoya was excited about it.
"Yeah, what about the special class?"
"You see, my plan is that if I can get together with this girl today, I can brag about it tomorrow, and if I fail, I can start looking for a new love. Perfect, isn't it?"
Since I still felt grateful towards him, I held back the choice words that I wanted to slap this idiot with.
'This guy, I really don't get him sometimes.'