Chapter 18:

Chef Swap

Couple That Can't Touch

"Kozue Suzuka-san," Kawahara called as she gently shook my arm.

I opened my tired eyes. I was standing still next to a stove with my arms crossed. Cookware above the stove hung in front of my face. A pan? Wait, he fell asleep standing?

More people in the room stood in front of other stoves and long tables, which made me realize what was happening. Araki-kun joined the Cooking Club?

Standing next to her, I replied, "Kawahara," after a long scan of my surroundings.

"You took a minute and a half to wake up," she said as she wrote something down on the small notepad she was holding.

"You stared at me for a minute and a half?" I asked.

"No, I've been observing Araki Koji-kun since we met outside of the room."

"That's even worse!"

"I need to gather all the information possible to help and solve this faster," she replied. "Oh, I also observed both of you since you touched each other's hand at the library."

"Yes, I noticed that you stared at me throughout the entire day once we finished the study session. It was kind of creepy."

"So you noticed. It's an important step to understand this supernatural phenomenon."

"You realize you're basically calling us a supernatural phenomenon, right? It's weird."

"Talking about weird," —she said, completely ignoring my comment as she prepared to write in her notepad—"do you feel anything out of the ordinary now that you have swapped bodies?"

Though it was obvious that swapping bodies was weird, I looked around the room while trying to find any different feelings apart from the obvious. Everybody else was happily chatting with each other, even the people at the tables next to us.

"Well, it's weird that I'm talking to you after saying goodbye, but I don't feel anything in particular," I answered after thinking for a bit. "I do feel taller because I need to look down more than usual to see your eyes, but that's an obvious feeling."

Kawahara kept writing as I talked. "Even if it's obvious, tell me everything you can."

Just then I realized that it was the first time I had seen her write in a notepad.

"Since when do you write in a notepad?" I asked her.

"Today," she responded and slid the notepad into the pocket of her shirt.

"Didn't you use your phone before? And bumped into five strangers or more…"

"I did, but I've seen my mother use a notepad since I was a baby, so I'm testing to see if this improves my research process. What if this was her secret this whole time?"

If there's one, it's probably far from this, but who am I to judge?

"Interesting," I replied. "Does she need to keep track of a lot of things?"

Kawahara nodded. "She's a bioscience professor at Hosei University. She makes multiple investigations daily."

"That's awesome!" I said.

But Kawahara didn't seem to care—which was hard to know because she wouldn't express it anyway.

"She keeps pushing me to make an investigation because she had already written her second scientific article about her research when she was seventeen."

"What? She's a prodigy!"

"Yes, but I'll beat her at her own game," she added, pushing her glasses up with a piercing gaze.

"S-Sure," I stuttered.

I didn't know she could be that competitive.

"Does your father work too?" I asked her.

"He's a videogame director," she answered.

"Really? That's awesome too! What if he worked on one of Araki-kun's favorite games?"

"There's a possibility that he did. Last time I checked, the last game he worked on had sold eight-million copies."

"That's a lot!" I said. "But it sounds like your parents need to work a lot."

Kawahara nodded. "It's rare for them to take their weekends off and they even work at home."

"I see. I guess it's fine as long as they enjoy it," I smiled.

We stopped chatting and stood still in awkward silence. Everybody kept talking in the background while Kawahara stared at me; I didn't know where to look.

I started talking just to break the ice. "D-Did Araki-kun tell you why he chose this club?" I asked her.

"He did."

"Oh, really? Why?"

"Because he wanted to try something new since he has never cooked. And he didn't know what else to choose."

"He has never cooked? That's weird. I would've thought that his parents were making him take cooking classes because they own a restaurant chain."

There's probably another reason to that, I thought.

"Are you good at cooking, Kozue Suzuka-san?" Kawahara asked.

"Eh?" I uttered, surprised by the unexpected question. "Well, I have cooked before…," I giggled nervously as I scratched my head.

"You don't know how to cook."


I thought she wasn't good at social cues!

"Even if Araki Koji-kun's expressions are hard to read, your lies are obvious even when you are in his body," she added, piercing my chest like an arrow. "Oh, I should write that down."

"You're going to keep track of even that?!"

"Any detail could be important, Kozue Suzuka-san," she answered. "Maybe I'll need to record our experiments from now on."

I sighed just thinking about what we would go through in the future.

"By the way, I haven't asked why you joined this club," I said.

"Because cooking is the closest I can get to alchemy in real life, aside from chemistry class and the Science Club."

I blinked repeatedly before replying, "Are you serious?"

I swear I understand her less and less the more time we spend together.

"Why wouldn't I be?"


The teacher finally arrived at the club room after a few minutes: Yasue-sensei. When I first learned that he was the Cooking Club advisor, I couldn't believe it since he was the P.E teacher.

I took a deep breath to prepare for the worst.

Seems like Araki-kun and I are on a similar level when it comes to cooking, but there can still be a problem.

"Good afternoon, chefs!" Yasue-sensei energetically shouted at the front of the room. "As eager as we all are to talk about our holidays, let's first welcome the new member and also the newest student at Kasen!"

Already?! At least let me think about what to say!

"Araki Koji-kun, please step to the front and present yourself!"

My arms started shaking and my legs became jelly-ish. Presenting myself was already scary, but doing it in another person's body was nerve-wracking! What could I say?!

I pinched my thigh as I walked to the front. Calm down, Kozue Suzuka! Araki-kun wouldn't be nervous about doing something like this! I think…

I arrived. Everybody in the room stared at me, probably expecting something exciting because of my background. But I tried my best to keep a straight face as Araki-kun would.

"I-I am Araki Koji," I said.

Wait, Yasue-sensei already said that!

I pinched myself harder.

"I transferred here for the last year of high school. I joined this club because I wanted to try something new."

At least I can say that with security, I thought. Good thing I asked Kawahara just now.

The room stayed silent while I was thinking, so I rushed to finish. "I hope you'll help me to learn," I continued and bowed.

Everybody clapped.

I nailed it! Araki-kun should reward me, I told myself.

But as I started to head back to my place, Yasue-sensei slapped my back, making me stumble forward and let a groan out. "Good job, Araki-kun!" he shouted.

I forgot he always does that…

I returned to my place with Kawahara.

"Good job indeed, Kozue Suzuka-san. You're getting better at acting like Araki Koji-kun," she said as she wrote in her notepad.

She's still writing…

She stopped and said, "By the way, your team won second place in the hunt, didn't they?"

"We did," I responded.

"Have you decided when to go to the theme park?"

"Well, we—"

A flash of insight suddenly struck my brain. I remembered that I had two of the three tickets in my skirt's pocket. I completely forgot! But there's no reason why Araki-kun would check what's in my pockets, right?

The club meetings ended after an hour, one hour less than its normal length since it was the first day.

Araki-kun and I still had to get back to our bodies. Luckily, he was waiting for us at the entrance. We touched each other to begin the process.

"We should find somewhere to fall asleep," I said.

"Yes, but it's going to be hard if we have someone next to us recording all the time," Araki-kun complained.

"It's necessary for the research," Kawahara replied, recording up-close with her phone. "But I also need to write notes down and I only have two hands. What a dilemma…"

People couldn't help but stare at us as they walked out of the school.

I don't blame them, but this probably is my only chance to do it.

"A-Anyway, why don't we go to the park?" I asked.

"Sure, but is there any specific reason?" Araki-kun questioned back.

"Oh, well…," I giggled nervously.

"She recommended we meet at the park after class to talk about the swapping," Kawahara said. "We didn't plan it today but, since you're already swapped, there's no reason not to go. Good idea, Kozue Suzuka-san"


I had completely forgotten about that, so thanks Kawahara, I owe you one!

We left the school and walked to the town while the sun was barely sticking out from behind the mountains surrounding it. We also called our homes; I let Dad know that I would arrive thirty minutes later and Araki-kun told Yoshimura-san to wait for his call. Though we had already done it a couple of times, having someone recording us all the time didn't make it any easier.

Even though Araki-kun had already told me his phone password, it wasn't bad to hear it again so I could try to remember it. I told him my password, too.

We tried to start a conversation a few times, but Kawahara kept making us act awkwardly with her recording.

My entire body started trembling the moment the park came into our sight.

Should I really do it now? Kawahara's here, wouldn't that be weird? Maybe it's better if I wait a bit more. Or is it better if I do it now?

"Kozue, careful—"

A stop sign suddenly stopped me when Araki-kun called me. Luckily, he made me turn so I didn't crash into it with my face.

"Are you okay?" he asked me.

My heart raced as I stared at his eyes. "Y-Yes, I was thinking about something!"

We crossed the street and arrived at the park where fewer kids than before played, probably because it was getting dark already.

"Let's sit on the same bench," Araki-kun said.

"S-Sure!" I replied.

I can't even look him in the eyes! My heart is going to explode if I do!

"Are you really okay? You've been acting strange since we left the school. Did something happen at the club?" he asked.

"N-No, everything went perfectly!" I replied. "I should be the one asking you, you probably had it harder."

"It was unexpected and a bit complicated because of your reputation, but it went well overall, I had some help," he said.


"Oh, before I forget," he interrupted my thoughts. He reached into his skirt's pocket and took the two tickets out.

"Why do you have these?"

He found them!

My face melted and my heart sunk. I wanted to scream my existence away, but a pinch on my thigh made me regain control of myself again.

Calm down, it's not the end of the world! You won't find a better opportunity, just do it, I told myself. That's what Hisa and Rem would say, at least…

I took a deep breath and followed the plan; Operation Rollercoaster.



My heart hammered against my chest. Something in my throat wanted to come out—aside from words.

But the words came out first.

"W-Would you go on a date with me?!"

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