Chapter 45:

Birth of Life

Couple That Can't Touch

I was told what Narumi's friend had done and what happened after I was taken to the hospital. Even though they approached Narumi when she was alone, it never felt sincere. Still, I couldn't complain because they did something for her, whilst I had believed the rumors and hated Narumi for no reason.

I hadn't fully recovered by the time the midterms started. The last thing I wanted was to miss them completely. So, even though I felt dead, I studied for them and went to the school only three days after being poisoned.

Sadly, I didn't even get into the top ten. It was my worst grade this year. But I wasn't the only one to drop places. Kawahara fell to ninth place—distracted by her research on the swapping. Narumi to eleventh—heartbroken by her friends' betrayal. And Tsuga-san to thirteenth—stressed about his mom's situation.

Meanwhile, Hisa, Rem, and Tarō gained places. And I hadn't had the opportunity to see Koji's level yet. He was thirty-fourth. Not the best, but hopefully enough to shut down the rumors of him buying his admission into Kasen—probably not.

Even after Koji apologized for what had happened a week later, I was still a bit mad at him for trying to swap bodies with me so I wouldn't have to suffer. It was kind of him to think about me, but I would've felt horrible knowing he was the one suffering. Later, I realized I would've done the same in his position.

Nothing much happened during the next two weeks. The experiments had stopped because I was feeling unwell and to avoid increasing the swapping cooldown. Then, Hisa's birthday arrived.

Everyone wished her a happy birthday as she walked into the classroom. Some people gave her gifts—mostly men. It was somewhat funny, knowing that she was already taken by someone they never would've guessed. After chatting non-stop for several minutes, the teacher arrived and classes began.

The bell chimed. Instead of heading to the laboratory, we headed to the cafeteria. As days passed, we had become quite a large group. We didn't fit in small spaces anymore, so the cafeteria was one of the few options left.

Narumi and Tsuga-san had been intermittently sitting with us. Slowly but surely, everyone started to befriend them. Or accept their presence, at least. We understood them more. They acted snobbily because they were like that and not because they wanted to be popular—which was what Hisa and I thought of Narumi.

Also, Narumi's and Tsuga-san's relationship kept getting weirder. Frequently, they would look away from each other and even blush. Having just gone through that, I quickly realized what was happening. Yet, I wasn't going to make fun of it.

As we ate, a couple of girls approached Tsuga-san.

"Tsuga-san," one of them timidly called.


"We just wanted to wish you a happy birthday."

They each handed him a small box with a cute ribbon on top.

"Thank you! I will open them at home and tell you my thoughts tomorrow. Maybe I'll even post a Snapping of me opening them."

The girls grinned. "Sure! See you tomorrow, then."

They walked away. Whilst Tsuga-san inspected the boxes, we stared at him in silence. He realized after a long moment.

"What?" he asked.

"It's your birthday?" Koji asked back.

"It is."

"Why didn't you tell us?" I wondered.

"Because you didn't ask. And we've been together for more than two years, I thought you already knew."

"Well, none of us cared about you until recently," Hisa replied.

I could feel the words piercing through Tsuga-san's heart.

"At least you're honest," he giggled.

"Happy birthday, then," I said. "I'll get something for you tomorrow."

"Thanks, but don't feel obligated to. I already appreciate the thought."

Not much was said after that. The break ended and the rest of the day flew by. What Hisa didn't know was that Rem's parents had lent us their house to throw a surprise party for her. They were even kind enough to prepare everything for us. But, after finding out that it was Tsuga-san's birthday too, we texted them to ask them to prepare stuff for him as well.

We all met at the entrance of the school. After we showed some anxiety, Hisa realized something wasn't right.

"What's going on?"

"Hisa, we'll cover your eyes for a bit," Rem said.

She gasped. "A surprise?!"

"Just close your eyes," I replied.

She closed her eyes and Rem and I wrapped a blindfold around her head. Meanwhile, Tsuga-san didn't seem to be suspicious at all.

Koji had asked Yoshimura-san—his chauffeur—to drive us all. He parked in front of the school and we hopped in. Since there were eight of us, we barely fit inside. Koji had to sit at the front beside Yoshimura-san and Hisa sat on Rem's lap.

Hisa was confused for most of the trip. She would've never imagined us getting someone to drive her. Eventually, she guessed that it was a big taxi or Koji's SUV.

Even though he struggled to admit it, Tsuga-san was impressed by the fanciness of the car. Still, the important thing was that he didn't suspect that the party was for him also.

Almost half an hour later, we arrived at Rem's house. We carefully helped Hisa to get out of the car and we grabbed her hands as we walked to the door. Everyone followed behind.

Once inside, we headed to the living room—where Rem's parents told us they had prepared everything. We took Hisa's blindfold off and signaled Koji to turn the light on. Rem and I stood in front of her.

"Open your eyes," we said.

She opened them.


Balloons floated around the room. The table in the dining room was full of chips and soda, including two cakes with candles forming the number eighteen. Gifts awaited to be opened on the sofa and floor. And colorful signs with letters spelled Hisa's and Tsuga's names. We didn't ask for them, but it was a cute addition.

Hisa gasped in excitement and jumped at us to squeeze us. Tsuga-san stood still with his jaw dropped.

"What do you think?" I asked him.

He stared at the hanging signs. Suddenly, his lips arched down and he swept his eyes with his arm.


"Tsuga-san?! Are you okay?"

"Yes, sorry. I just… didn't expect it,"

"You're stealing half of my surprise party," Hisa accused. "But I'll allow it. Just this once."

"Thanks," he smiled. It probably was the first sincere smile I had seen on him.

Rem continued, "Sadly, none of these gifts are for you because we didn't know it was your birthday. But we promise we'll get something for you in the next few days. Because we want to."

Tsuga-san grinned. "Sure!"

Since we were very hungry, we made Hisa and Tsuga-san blow out the candles. Rem and I pushed Hisa's face into the cake. It seemed that Narumi wanted to push Tsuga-san's in his, but she didn't dare. We took many pictures.

The table wasn't big enough to fit everyone to eat, so some of us had to sit in the living room. Then we gathered around so Hisa could open her gifts.

"When did you plan all of this?" Hisa asked.

"Last week," Rem answered.

"Everyone brought their gifts here," I added.

"How did you know I wasn't going to come over?" Hisa wondered.

"I would've said no," Rem responded. "Even if I wasn't able to, the gifts would've been hidden."

Hisa laughed. "Well, let's start with the biggest one! Whose is this?"

Koji raised his hand. "Mine."

Hisa hastily blinked. "Really?"

She ripped the gift paper and threw it to the floor. A cardboard box appeared underneath and she opened it. Her eyes sparkled and her jaw dropped. She took a fancy-looking bag out. And another. And another.

"Cannale?!" Rem shouted. She peeked inside the box. "There are like ten more bags!"

"Cannale?" Tarō wondered.

"It's a luxury fashion brand. Insanely expensive," Narumi replied.

"I didn't expect Araki-kun to know about it," Hisa said. "Or that I have wanted these clothes since I was little."

"I must admit that I asked for Suzuka's help," Koji confessed. "I barely know you, so I didn't know what to get for you."

"I don't mind at all!" Hisa giggled. Then she gave me a thumbs up.

After taking all the clothes out and inspecting them, she continued with the rest of the gifts. Narumi gave her makeup, Tarō made a very pretty origami for her, and Kawahara also gave her makeup—which no one expected. She said she looked up 'what to gift a girl' on the Internet.

Then it was time for Rem's gift. She asked Hisa to be careful because it was fragile. It was a framed picture of Hisa, Rem, and me when we were kids. Hisa couldn't help but jump at Rem and kiss her. Everyone stared at them, not knowing how to react.

"Ahem," I coughed to make them stop.

"Oh, sorry," Hisa apologized and they giggled. "I think we haven't told everyone officially. Rem and I are dating."

"What?!" Narumi and Tsuga-san shouted.

Apparently, they were the only ones that didn't know yet.

"Open my gift!" I said.

"Sure. It's the last one," Hisa replied.

She unwrapped the paper just to find more paper inside.

"A letter?"

I nodded. "Let me read it."

She handed me the letter. I stood in the middle of the room. I opened the letter and started reading it.

"Hisa, we've known each other for so many years that I didn't know what to gift you anymore—and also because I don't have money right now. But I still wanted to give you something meaningful, so here's a letter.

"We have gone through so many things together, good and bad. Even when we argued and fought, we kept being friends without even needing to apologize. We knew nothing dumb was going to end our friendship.

"I remember when we were little that I used to dress like a boy and you tried to make me look more like a girl. I hated it. But it ended up helping me to realize who I wanted to be.

"I remember when you told the kid I liked that I liked him. I panicked so bad that I ended up lying to him that you were joking. I was scarred for so long, but it seems I got over it.

"I remember when you and Rem helped me go through my depression. You never abandoned me even when I was so stubborn. You still treated me like a friend. You talked to me normally, you got mad at me as anyone would, you cared for me just as my family did. So, I want you to know that you are family to me."

Almost tearing up, Hisa jumped at me and squeezed me, followed by Rem.

"Wait, wait. I haven't finished," I said. "P.S: I'm still a bit mad about you not telling me about Rem and you sooner."

Hisa and Rem laughed and they playfully pushed me.

"Also, I want to say something to Tsuga-san," I said as I turned to face him. "Tsuga-san, we have known each other for two years now, but we haven't talked much until this year. I'm very happy to have the opportunity to know you more. You and Narumi are showing me that I judge people by their exterior and miss what is really important. I don't care what people think about you or how difficult your situation is, I want to be your friend. Because I want to and not because I feel forced to."

Everyone smiled at Narumi and Tsuga-san. Narumi smirked, whilst tears dropped from Tsuga-san's eyes.

"Thank you…," he said. "And you can call me Hisaki. Everyone can call me Hisaki."

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