I was surprisingly calm when Arisugawa turned to face me. She seemed to consider my words but wasn't able to decide easily. At this time, Kirisaki and then Zakushi also showed their support.
"That doesn't sound too bad."
"He's not wrong."
Once both of them agreed with me, Arisugawa also nodded in approval and we split into two groups based on what rides we wanted to try out. Of the two groups, two pairs were decided from the start. Arisugawa & Amakawa and Kirisaki & Hitsuji, these two pairs couldn't be separated so it was just a matter of which team Zakushi and I would be on. In the end, our groups were like this:
Group A - Arisugawa, Amakawa and Zakushi
Group B - Kirisaki, Hitsuji and me.
Thanks to Zakushi giving me the first chance to pick a team, I was able to avoid the worse of the two options, an opinion which was the opposite of my previous self.
We decided where to meet for lunch and then parted. Since we split up due to preference, we already decided which ride to go on first.
"Let's go to the Great Crash roller coaster!" shouted Kirisaki.
"Slow down, it's not going anywhere," advised Hitsuji.
Hitsuji then grabbed Kirisaki's hand and held her back like a veteran. I could tell that Kirisaki wanted to run all the way to the roller coaster, but she restrained herself.
'She's a professional alright.'
I was both surprised and impressed by how easily she could control Kirisaki when she was this excited, but I still couldn't relax near her. After being restrained by Hitsuji, Kirisaki stretched a hand out to me with pure intentions. However, as if there was a blade brushing across my neck, I didn't dare make any sudden movements. When I glanced at Hitsuji, she wore a disinterested expression, which was similar to Amakawa's, but in her eyes I could sense a hidden pressure that made the KKFC look like jokes.
With no choice, I gently refused Kirisaki's hand.
"Nah, I'll be fine."
"You don't want to hold my hand?"
"No! That's not..."
I panicked once I saw that pout on Kirisaki's face, and became scared of upsetting both her and her friend, but this time Hitsuji threw me a life jacket.
"It's okay Kana, he's just too embarrassed to hold your hand in a crowded place like this," said Hitsuji.
"Oh, embarrassed! Fufufu, is that true Akishiro?"
I desperately wanted to deny what Kirisaki was asking, but I couldn't think of a better excuse so I had to take what I was offered.
"Yeah..." I admitted reluctantly.
"Fufufu, that's so cute. Well don't worry, I'll make sure to hold your hand all you want when we're alone," proclaimed Kirisaki while proudly puffing out her chest.
At first, I chuckled and felt warmth in my heart due to Kirisaki's attempt at looking out for me, but my chuckle became an awkward laughter when I noticed Hitsuji's expression.
As if she was looking at a disgusting bug on her sweet cake, that look of contempt was something I could never replicate or endure for long. After a few seconds of taking it head-on, I felt tears well up in my eyes so I hastily looked away.
'Damn it! Why is she more scary than the entire KKFC put together?! She's definitely the type that's better as an ally than an enemy.'
Unlike with Kirisaki's fan club, I didn't think she would do anything to me, but something in my blood told me to avoid confronting her.
When we arrived at the line for the roller coaster, it wasn't too long so we patiently waited and I admired our surroundings in the meantime. I noticed a lot of customers, but due to the large space and wide variety of attractions, nowhere was particularly crowded despite it being the weekend. I wouldn't know without asking, but business seemed to be doing well here.
The attractions were all dinosaur-themed and there was also a mascot in the form of a classic red T-Rex wearing a golden crown. There was apparently some lore behind it, but I didn't remember.
While I was looking around, we reached the front of the line and got seated in the carriage. Kirisaki was beside Hitsuji, while I was in the seat behind Kirisaki. I was worried that this would make it easy for Hitsuji to glare at me, but that worry was became irrelevant soon after the ride started.
Both because of my own misconception and lack of awareness, I thought the first part of the ride would be gentle so as to build up anticipation. However, I soon found out why this was called the Great Crash.
'Huh? Why can't I see the traaaa-?!'
After a two second moment of peace, we were flung to the mercy of gravity and air resistance as we lost several metres of elevation down a steep slope. With the ground suddenly getting closer, even the safety measures strapping my body down couldn't dampen my terror.
I knew it was ill-advised to open my mouth, but a scream came out of reflex. Furthermore, after that sudden drop was a spiralling disaster that made me clutch the 'emergency' bag they gave us. Thankfully I didn't need to use it, but some of those riding with us didn't read the warning about eating before this ride.
As I restrained my fear from both the ride and the possibility of getting barfed on, I understood the true meaning of a 'thrill' ride.
However, the two in front of me were having a much better time. Hitsuji was smiling like she was getting a massage while Kirisaki lifted her arms up in air and was laughing cheerfully.
"Yay!" Kirisaki exclaimed.
I didn't know how she could enjoy this, but as I looked at her instead of the ground, my fear began to fade as well.
By the end of that roller coaster, I was a little dizzy, but as soon as I planted my legs on the ground again I raised my head to the sky and shouted.
Soon after, I heard a similar 'woo' from Kirisaki who was beside me. Both of us then looked at Hitsuji in anticipation. She seemed reluctant, but eventually acceded to our silent demands.
Without realizing that the worries that had been plaguing me had been thrown to the wind, I plunged into more fun. Next we went on the teacup ride, followed by go-kart racing and then a human-sized whack-a-dino. With each attraction causing my body to pump out endorphin, I couldn't describe the level of my exuberance.
"What next? What next?"
After the whack-a-dino, Kirisaki and I were eager for the next ride and looked around in a frenzy like kids high on candy. Fortunately, there was still someone left to reel us in.
"You two, it's about time for lunch. We need to meet up with the others," said Hitsuji with an exasperated look on her face.
I wasn't sure when, but at some point she stopped looking at me like a pest, though naturally Kirisaki still took top priority. Based on what I heard from Kirisaki, she had many younger siblings at home, so maybe she let her guard down once I released my childish side along with Kirisaki.
Kirisaki pouted at Hitsuji's reminder, but then she touched her stomach and agreed. Couldn't play on an empty stomach after all.
The three of us headed to the food court and met up with the others. While they had also explored the attractions, they went for more tame ones like the maze and a mini museum of animated dinosaurs.
We quickly moved to secure a table for all six of us and then let Arisugawa input our orders into the tablet that was fixed into the table. As she carried out this task, Zakushi asked an important question.
"Should we split the bill by the total or by our individual orders?"
Arisugawa's response was, "It's fine. Our pass includes free meals."
Thanks to the money I had saved up from working for Ms. Aria, I was in no way strapped for cash, but I wouldn't complain about not having to spend money. It would be one thing if she was treating us, but since free meals were already included in the package, no one raised an objection. In fact, one of us even added more food to their order, but for their sake I'll seal my lips about who it was.
Once the order was done, we also needed to decide on who would go to the drink bar to make our preferred beverages. Arisugawa and Hitsuji went with simple fruit juice so they could just wait for their drinks, that left four people.
"We should have at least two people take on the task. I'll volunteer-" Arisugawa tried to decide who would go, but then Kirisaki interrupted her.
"What about rock paper scissors?"
Everyone paused for a moment before agreeing to her proposal. At the end of the tense match that could have gone any way, the losers were............me and Zakushi.