Chapter 2:

|The hidden cut


On the usual route, the two siblings walked to school.This time, there was no reason to hurry. Less intense but more time consuming. It didn’t happen too often, but Yuuki loved taking walks and occasionally used the opportunity to do that if time was allowed. This was one of those days.
---Self-discovery….Another word with a concept I don’t fully comprehend yet. I’m like a hermit crab that is constantly changing shells. None of it feels right. As much as I want to say this isn’t the real me, I can’t. More like I don’t have a reason to do so. As much as I want to say life changed me, I’m still doubtful. All these thoughts sound like nothing but the ramblings of a mad man. It already looks that way in my eyes. I imagine how another person will react if they could hear these same thoughts.
A week had passed since his first day at Akate high school and everything had gone downhill.The environment in the classroom had worsened overtime with hostility so redundant that normal human interaction seemed just about impossible. His hopes of blending in got crushed pretty quickly. Behind his problem was an obstacle named Akate Eric, and he wasn’t letting Shirou go scot free. You could say he fanned the flames already present. Despite this, Shirou wasn’t troubled by that.
“Shirou look, a cat.”
She pointed to the cat stuck on the tree in front of them. He folded his arms and grinned.
“Hey, that’s creepy.”
“Doesn’t this remind you of something???”
“Ohh..Violet clouds..You remembered??”
“Of course I remembered.. It’s your book.”
“Back to the cat.”
“Do we have to?”
With the compelling look on her face, he had no choice but to give in.
 “Alright, let’s get the cat.”
“I can’t reach the tree myself so….”
“I want to climb on your back.”
“Because I wanna.”
“Oh, well.”
She hopped on his back and slowly grabbed the scared cat. Luckily for them, it didn’t make a fuss.
“All done.”
She stepped down from her human ladder and placed the cat in his arms, and it was warm. He never liked animals in general so this was a sort of new experience for him.
“It’s surprisingly soft.”
“Huh.. You sound like you’ve not held a cat before.”
“That’s because I haven’t.”
With a bewildered look, she repeatedly poked him.
“Hey hey hey…What do you mean by you haven’t held a cat before..What are you, allergic?”
---Unfortunately I hate pets, cats specifically. Cats are the worst. They are these cute creatures that turn you to their slaves.
She sighed heavily and took the cat off his arms in the manner of an adult snatching candy away from a child.
“Isn’t she adorable??? Makes me want to keep her.” 
The cat let out a loud ‘meow’ and behind them was a little boy that jumped up with a new sense of relief. 
---I’m guessing that’s a thank you.
“Hey Miss, that’s my cat.”
Upon hearing this, Yuuki plummeted the cat back in his arms.
“He was the one that rescued your cat from the tree.”
“Thanks a lot, Mister.”
“Actually, I was the ladder.”
Yuuki stepped on his feet as the young boy approached him.The little boy waved as he walked away with his cat, and they waved back. Yuuki took her time to rub her hands and gently slapped his cheeks with the little bit of heat that she had generated from the friction.
 “What’re you thinking about?”
“I saw what you did there…”
“Never mind.”
With a wry smile, she skipped a few steps and gestured him to walk faster.
“I bet you’re relishing the memory, right?”
“Wrong..Also, could you stop talking now?”
“You’re so mean.” 
”You could say that.”
---She teases me practically all the time, but she never seems to run out of material. Today is just a normal day like any other, but I’m having a good feeling.
“It’s great that we woke up really early, we hardly get to take our time like this.”
---No matter how you look at it, we are still going to the so called ‘best learning environment’ called school. It’s so ironic when I hear things like that.
“Shirou, do you think I’ll be able to find her??”
---The famous writer in Akate high school known as Nuella. Her identity is shrouded in mystery, but Yuuki believes she can find her. That hope makes me want to join in her seemingly impossible journey but I’ll stay neutral. For now, at least.
“I got to speak to Angie-senpai though, and she asked me if I was interested in joining the literary club.”
There are two famous writers in Akate high school, the other is Angie Lin. She is a classmate of Shirou but he has never seen her.She chose a unique approach and revealed her identity from the get go. Maybe she thought of it as too bothersome to leave as a mystery.This is one reason Yuuki acted the way she did.Uncontrollable excitement but Shirou called it “Overflowing passion”. With a few change of words, you could turn something bad the other way around.
“Goodluck finding Nuella.”
He listlessly uttered these words and focused on the task at hand, which was getting through the day with no trouble.
“Alright.Time to learn and stuff.”
They parted ways on the way to the school gate. She went ahead of him to talk to some of her classmates while he kept the same pace.He reached the classroom and found quite a few people there.However, his desk had been defaced, every part of it. He was about to burst out in laughter but pinched himself, desperately holding it in.
---I’ve gotta say. For a bunch of “elite high schoolers”, this is disappointing.
Before he brought out the tissue paper from his pocket, ready to wipe off the marks from his desk, he took a moment to read the words on it. “Just get lost”.. “Could you kill yourself??”…” You don’t belong here”..” Go to hell, Fire demon”. “Could you help me kill my uncle?”
He shook his head and wiped it but the marks refused to come off.
---Whoever did this has the brain of a 5-year-old..Whatever.
 There were more than enough desks to switch for 2 days at least, unless the rest were also defaced. Those chairs belonged to those people who got expelled due to their “low” grades. This school is elite, so any grade below a C counted as failure and the individual would be notified. Similar to a first strike. If they didn’t get a B or higher after the first warning, they were expelled..The bell rang, signifying the start of the first period.The teacher walked in and once again, Shirou was poked by Lucas.
“Hey..What’s that on your desk??”
Despite the state of the classroom, there were two known exceptions. Nagesame Lucas and Akate Misaka. Also, aside from those two, there were other students that remained neutral and preferred to keep their distance while there were those that despised him for no good reason.
“I think you should ignore it. Really though, this is absolutely unnecessary.”
“It doesn’t bother me.”
“That’s good to hear..Don’t give them what they want.”
“I won’t..Besides, it’ll probably be switched out in a day or two.”
“I guess you’re right..You’re really good at this.”
---I have had enough experience.. So much that this doesn’t faze me. I might have been trying to avoid this but that doesn’t mean I can’t handle it.. 
---Is she staring at me or the desk??
The hours flew by and the bells rang once more, signifying lunch break.He waited for the right moment to walk out of the classroom and head for the rooftop. In his left hand was a bobby pin in case of any unprecedented situations, and in his right was his lunch and his favourite manga, broken helm… 
“Finally, some peace and quiet.”
As he flipped through the pages, he felt uncomfortable. He felt like he was being watched, so he turned to the door that was open. 
---Did I leave it open??? I doubt that, but I can’t be sure. It’s either I left the door open by mistake or someone is there watching me. I have no choice but to confirm. It’s rather windy outside so in this case the door should be moving but nothing’s happening. This means someone must be holding it in place. I could be wrong though.
“I know you’re hiding there, so come out.”
The door moved slightly, and Shirou felt somewhat relieved that his suspicion was correct. A sense of relief mixed with little surprise.
--- I can’t be fooled. Whoever is holding the door must have let go.I wonder who the stalker is..Did they run away???
“You must be really observant.”
---I can’t tell who it is by the voice alone, but it’s definitely a girl’s voice.
The first thing he saw was the pale colour of her hair that looked brighter because of the sun. Her red cheeks that became clearer and clearer as she moved away from the door. It was Brent.
“Huh….Hey….How did you know I was there??”
---She never seemed to me like the stalker type.. Maybe she wants something..
“I noticed the irregular movement of the door and I figured it couldn’t have been the wind..That’s all.”
She nodded her head in approval, then suddenly blushed upon realizing how weird her actions must have been.
“Uhh, I’m not a stalker or anything. Although I followed you up here.”
---That definitely gives off stalker vibes.
“Wait, what are you doing here?”
“I just wanted to thank you for that time.”
---That time?? She must be talking about Akate..
 “I’m sure you could have handled it perfectly without me.”
“I probably wouldn’t have..People hardly do that for me. Especially when it’s him.. Don’t get the wrong idea. We aren’t dating or anything.”
“Rinta had to stop eventually. Anymore and their relationship might have gone sour. I had to sort the issue out myself but you helped me.”
“I was also helped by someone. So at the end of the day, I really shouldn’t be getting any credit. It just shows that I was pulled into doing something irrational again.”
“Who helped you? Was it Harry?”
---This is getting really awkward.
“Was what you said about the club information a lie?”
“Yes, and no.. I decided at that moment that I was going to do it but for some reason it feels too convenient to take as the truth.”
“I’ll take that as a no then. So,what club are you in???”
---I really wanted to talk to her at first but …I’m not enjoying this..Perhaps it’s the set up..It just feels..wrong.
“No..I have given little thought to it.”
“I could show you all the clubs if you want…Having a neutral, reliable tour guide will do the trick.”
---This is one of the reasons why I hate being the hero. You would always ask yourself if everything around you is real or not.
“If this is because of yesterday then please don’t, I wouldn’t play along with your transient feeling of gratitude.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I don’t like this. You are only talking to me because I saved you, right?”
“No, I’m not.”
“Exactly what I’m trying to tell…Huh??”
“I wanted to talk to you last week but I didn’t have an idea of what I could have said to you. That was even before you helped me. Not because I saw you as some sort of hero. Don’t be so full of yourself.”
---This wasn’t how I wanted it to go. Just a simple ‘No, thank you’ would have been fine. Why did I have to say all that?
“Fine. I needed help, I was also stalling with him.That was me being plain pathetic and I fully accept that but it has nothing to do with now. I figured this might be the best chance to talk since you didn’t seem comfortable in the classroom but it seems like that was a mistake. No matter where, you’ll still be an arrogant, condescending jerk. I’m……..I’m sorry for bothering you…..Enjoy the view.”
“Before I leave.
What’s the point of differentiating between positive and negative when you are not ready to see anything but negative?”
Before he could say another word, she shut the door and left him with the unexpected question. It kept spiralling in his mind, over and over and over.
---She’s right. I see everything good as too good and see it as a trap filled with nothing but a bad conclusion. Since when have I been thinking that way? It’s nothing short of hypocritical and arrogant. Well,as much as I hate to say this. Maybe, it was better this way.I need fewer icons drawing attention to me.No going back now…
Completely guilt ridden, he focused all his attention on his manga but was too distracted.It was truly difficult to focus on anything else. The bitter truth wasn’t the only thing he was worried about deep down. He had acted in “consideration” of both of their feelings but only ended up acting like those he hated. All the hostility he was given had been passed to another innocent person. Even after staring into the sky, it appeared that this was one of the few things he couldn’t shrug off.He returned to the classroom few minutes later and it didn’t seem like anyone noticed his absence. Either that or they chose to pretend like he wasn’t there.
“We meet again, Yato-san.”
---Well we are in the same class.
“I’ll like you to consider joining the Kendo club.You’re not in any clubs, right?”
“Kendo club, huh…”
“Yeah, it’s really fun. Judging from your reaction, I don’t think you’ll be interested, but please consider.” 
---Nothing gets past her..She’s so scary.
“Thanks for the info, I’ll consider it.”
---She seems genuinely nice to me. Perhaps I was just misjudging her from the start. I can’t let my guard down though.
“Hey Wendy, are you okay?”
Wendy’s unusual response built up her best friend, Rinta Tenkawa’s curiosity. From someone as inept at reading the air as Rinta, this meant a lot more than it seemed. “Are you trying to hide something from your bestie?” was written all over her face. This was a wall too long for Wendy to jump over. In other words, no escape.
( “---” represents the thoughts of the main character. “--” represents the thoughts of any other character. “[]” represents an important event, most likely past events. “{}” represents various sounds made.)