Cat's Hour ~猫の時間~
After looking up on the roof for what seemed like eternity– I mean, few minutes, the calico cat finally came down and landed to my face purposely as if pissing me off.
However, more than irritated, I’m on bliss right now~
Sanji finally opened up to me! He’s not minding when I touch him anymore. Though, he was doing mischievous tricks like this, at least he’s not charging towards me and trying bite or scratch me.
“Geh. What the heck are you doing?” I heard a disgusted voice from nearby.
I gently take off Sanji on my face and look at the source of the voice. There was Mikejima-kun and Toujo-kun walking together.
Well, it was obvious that the insult just came from Mikejima-kun as he is also looking at me in disgust.
“Look! Sanji is getting along with me now!”
As if ignoring what he just said, I bragged about the cat while I shove Sanji to his face.
“S-step back, you’re too close…”
I put down Sanji and he quickly ran over towards Mikejima-kun’s side.
“By the way, Mikejima-kun…” I said. “You wanna go?”
I gave him a sharp glance as if challenging him into a fight.
“Ooh~ are you two fighting?” Toujo-kun butted in.
“I-it’s not like that, Asahi! She’s talking about the class dance!” Mikejima-kun retorted.
“Class dance…? Oh! You’re on the same class! If I remember correctly, your class will be dancing by partners, right?”
“That’s right! Since Mikejima-kun started attending classes regularly and he’s also helping with promoting the event, he was recognized by the class now. Our class rep suggested that the two of us should partner for the dance since we’re both from student council. However…”
“I can’t do it…” Mikejima-kun mumbled and looked away.
We’ve been trying to practice our dance for the few days already. And it’s not going well…
Mikejima-kun is showing his fear once in a while so I have no choice but to step back. In the end, we just settled with shadow dancing for practice but it’s still different from having a partner dance with you personally.
I smiled at him. “Don’t let it bother you, we could quit if you really can’t take it. We could just reason out the we’re busy with facilitating the event!”
It’s been a few days since we finished the AVR case. But even then, Mikejima-kun still looks uncomfortable around me, which is understandable.
He’s not hostile around me anymore so it was still a progress. I was fine getting closer to him but not to the point of being a touchy feely.
Different from that is this clingy Toujo-kun latching onto him. Well, he doesn’t mind it because it’s not a girl, but he looks slightly irritated by now.
“Heh. Since when did you two made up?” I asked, with pointing finger on my chin and giving them a playful smile.
The last time I remember, these two are awkward around each other because of the ordeal in the Mirage Garden.
Looking at them now, they seem to be getting along well.
“Listen here, senpai-chan! You see, Tsukasa-senpai—”
“Damn it, Asahi! You don’t have to tell her that!”
“Heehh~” Toujo-kun and I gave him a smug look in unison.
“S-stop it! Don’t make fun of me! I won’t apologize to you again, Asahi!” With his cheeks flushing red, he retorted to us with a flustered expression.
“Heeh~ So you apologized to Toujo-kun?”
“That’s right, senpai-chan! It was a great apology and all!” Toujo-kun proudly declared.
“You bastard! Quit it!” He gritted his teeth at Toujo-kun but the later just looked away while whistling.
Looking at them, I let out a small chuckle.
It’s good that they are getting along now. Everyone seems to be on good terms with each other.
Mikejima-kun scratched his head, a subtle hint of pink tinted his cheeks while he has an anxious look on his face.
“I… I just want to say thanks… if you have something that you like, I’ll try to give it–“
“Then, let me touch the cat ears!” I exclaimed.
“Except physical touch.” He deadpanned at me.
I pouted in disappointment that he won’t let me touch his cat ears but… it’s fine.
The corners of my lips curved into a smile. “It’s okay. Just continue getting along with everyone, not get into fights, and learn to trust others, that’s enough for me.”
“A-re? Tsukasa-senpai, are you crying?” As if not reading the mood, Toujo-kun butted in shamelessly.
“You brat! You haven’t learned your lesson!” Mikejima-kun snapped and grabbed Toujo-kun’s necktie.
“Ahaha, let me go. I’m just teasing you.”
With a sigh, he lets go of him.
They might be like this but at least they’re not that tense compared to before. Might be how friends fool around with each other.
After that, other people also arrived.
“I’m glad that everyone gets along well now, especially the second years,” Kurokawa-senpai said with a smile. Along with him is Haibara-kun carrying a tray of breads.
“Everyone, please have some.” Haibara-kun offered the breads to us.
There were all sorts of bread there. The smell is also good as if it was freshly baked.
“Uwaaah! What is this? There are different breads!” Toujo-kun delightfully stared at it.
Now that he mention it, there really are. Melon pan, curry pan, donuts, croissant, and other more.
Isn’t it too much?
“Well, we’re making breads for the bread eating race. We made all kinds to see which one is the best that we could have on the event.”
“I see.” I nodded and glanced at the breads. “Can I have some?”
“Sure! Feel free to take anything you like!”
I grabbed the melon pan and put it in my mouth without hesitation. I could feel its subtle warm as I bit into its crispy crust up to its fluffy inside.
Mmm~ It’s so good!
“H-how is it, Terushima-san?” Kurokawa-senpai asked anxiously.
“It’s perfect! If you’re going to put the melon pan on the bread eating race, I’ll participate!” I said with my eyes sparkling in delight.
“I-I’m glad… Thank you…” he sighed in relief.
Hmm? Did Kurokawa-senpai made the melon pan? I thought it was Haibara-kun that made it, but if it was really him then he’s really amazing!
“Terushima-senpai, Kaichou is the one who made the melon pan! Isn’t he the best?! He’s so cool, right?!” Haibara-kun started to sing praises to Kurokawa-senpai which caused the latter to become flustered.
“Hora, Aoi-kun! I’m still incomparable to you! It’s not that great!”
“Oh! It’s true. This is delicious.”
“Mmm~ this is the best I’ve had so far!”
“Asahi-kun, your opinions doesn’t count, you’ve been saying that whenever you eat something good.” Haibara-kun looks at him in disdain.
“Urgh… so harsh.”
“Well, it’s true that it was the best! Kaichou made it after all! He helped making others as well but he made the melon pan specifically!”
I see, he really made it himself. I have to admit that it was great, it tastes better than what I got at that time when we tour around the school before.
Wait… did he made it because of that?
There’s no way, right? I shouldn’t assume things.
We spent a while there tasting everything. It’s too bad that Mashiro-senpai is not around, I’m sure he was on the library and searching for hints right at this moment.
Kurokawa-senpai hasn’t been going to classes lately because the students are still unable to perceive him. Different from others who are starting to be recognized by everyone, only he… was left behind.
Mashiro-senpai is definitely worried about him that’s why he’s working in secret. I’m sure everyone feels the same.
To be honest, after I saw Kurokawa-senpai cried when everyone in the school can’t see him, I arrived at the conclusion that he doesn’t want to disappear as well.
For his reason why he won’t tell us, it must be something that may bring harm to us.
After all, he was that kind of person…
Why am I speaking as if I know him well?
This… doesn’t make any sense.
I glanced at him. He was innocently talking to the others, with a genuine smile on his face, he was having fun interacting with them.
What is this uneasiness inside my heart…?
It was frustrating.
What was that?
I noticed his left hand covered in bruises, there are some bandages wrapped in his fingers. I guess it could be from when he was cooking and accidentally burned himself. However, that’s not the only thing that caught my attention.
It might be a glimpse but I saw a black patch on his skin. It was mostly covered on his wrist by the long sleeved blazer, which is part of our school uniform.
The others didn’t seem to notice it.
I rubbed my eyes to ascertain myself about what I’m seeing.
When I looked at it again, it disappeared…
Am I just seeing things?
I closed the file of a document that I just finished reading. It was the information about Ono-san, the ghost of the AVR room.
Kazuya Ono, a second year student who died 5 years ago. At first, the fact that he was an otaku was not known. However, he would go to the AVR room to play some games, being part of the school’s game club gives him privilege to use it. And then, a girl who hates otaku found what he was doing. His secret was exposed and he was soon ostracized, and then, driven to death.
This is really dark… I can’t continue to read these kind of stuffs.
“It was the harsh reality that happens to most of the evil spirits haunting the school. That grudge keeps them from passing on and somehow made them seek revenge to the living for what they suffered.” Glasses Toujo-kun explained. “Ai Toyama is also similar, right?”
“Yeah…” I mumbled absentmindedly. “Ne, back then, is Irosaki-sensei the principal of Nekoji Academy?”
“No. She was the principal of our middle school before she transferred here when the third years entered the school.”
I see… she was watching them even from their middle school. But how come they didn’t know others made a wish when they are already that close to each other?
“It was a dormitory school. We have different rooms so we don’t interact much with each other. It was Kurokawa-senpai who gathered us together. When I look back on it, it was as if he knows that we all made a wish to that god. It was too good to be a coincidence.”
Toujo-kun faced me, a serious expression is written all over his face. He tapped the frame of his glasses as his expression darkened.
“Indeed, it might come out as suspicious. However, kaichou doesn’t have any malicious intent. He’s definitely hiding something but his emotions that he showed us all this time are genuine.”
Mashiro-senpai, who was reading in the corner of the school archive silently since earlier, finally spoke and joined our conversation.
He didn’t even look at us, he just continued scanning the book that he’s reading.
“That’s true… there is only one liar among the five of us and it’s not Kurokawa-senpai. But we can’t deny the fact that he started being downhearted all of a sudden when the school year starts. It’s somehow bothering.” Toujo-kun stated.
One liar…? Also, Kurokawa-senpai became weak-willed when the school year started?
I don’t know much about what happened since I transferred here two weeks after the start of classes.
But why all of a sudden?
“What kind of person was Kurokawa-senpai before?” I asked without hesitation.
Silence remained in the room as the two looked at me in unison.
C-crap! I spoke my mind again!
“S-sorry, it was a slip of the tongue…”
“No, it’s fine.” Mashiro-senpai sighed.
“I also think that it was about time Terushima-senpai learn about the true nature of the contract.” Toujo-kun also added.
“Eh? Would it be fine?”
“Why not? You already proved yourself useful. It’s not just after talking with Hanako-san, you are also a huge help to Tsukasa, and more than that, to everyone of us in the student council.” Mashiro-senpai gently said as he closed the book that he’s reading.
Toujo-kun and I remained silent as we just stared at him in awe.
“W-what are you looking at?”
“It’s the first time…”
“It’s the first time that Mashiro-senpai’s words make sense. Somehow, I feel like I should pray…”
“Agreed. Let’s go to the shrine now.”
“You two… are you mocking me?” He glared at us coldly.
“No, no, don’t misunderstood. It’s a good thing, you know. Mashiro-senpai is also making progress when speaking what he really wants to say,” I said in a matter of fact tone.
“I agree with Terushima-senpai, just take it as a compliment,” Toujo-kun added.
Mashiro-senpai squinted his eyes to us and seriously said, “Why do I feel like your words doesn’t match what you said earlier?”
We looked away from him awkwardly and whistled as if we did nothing wrong.
Well, we’re actually making fun of him at first. We can’t deny that.
“You two are synchronized in useless things.” Mashiro-senpai sighed. “Whatever, let’s tell Terushima-san what she wants to know for now. We don’t have the time to have leisure talks.”
And so, I asked three questions to satisfy my curiosity. They said I could ask more but I settled with three for now because knowing too much might put me on a risky situation soon.
First, I asked the consequences of making a contract with god.
After making a wish, the cat spirits possessed them and they became guardians of the school. It sounded unbelievable but I just accepted it as it is in order to not complicate things.
Also, the people directly related to them and their wish will forget their existence. That means, their family, friends, and other relatives completely forgot about them after they made the wish. When I think about it… it was kind of sad.
However, everyone doesn’t look too much affected by it. It was as if they were better off with the others forgetting them.
Well, if I would also make some kind of wish that was equal to being spirited away and serving a god, it was better if I won’t be remembered by my father. That will surely make him really sad.
When Kurokawa-senpai denied that the recognition loss phenomenon has something to do with the contract, it might be similar, but the school is not directly related to them or their wish so it’s not possible that it was part of the contract.
As expected, it was an outside force.
Second, I asked what kind of person Kurokawa-senpai before I transferred in Nekoji Academy.
Kurokawa-senpai and Mashiro-senpai are classmates from their first year of middle school, and Kurokawa-senpai is the most popular student at that time.
He’s not particularly handsome or a stand out but he has a charm to attract people to him. He’s kind and he understands the problem of every students which made him earn their trust in no time.
When no one dared to approach Mashiro-senpai because everyone thought that he was out of their reach, Kurokawa-senpai is the only one who became his friend.
And on their first year, Kurokawa-senpai became the student council president in no time.
Kurokawa-senpai was once an optimistic person, he’s the kind of person who works hard more than anyone and think of others more than himself.
As the time passes by, the others also entered the school and Kurokawa-senpai also reached out to them.
As for the reason why he became as he was today…
“I think kaichou was cornered now that the contract for us third years will soon be over.”
“What do you mean, Mashiro-senpai?”
“If you put one and one together, you might come up with something.”
“I’ve been searching for hints about the mission all this time but I have yet to find something. However, I’ve come up with a theory about what will happen when our contracts end without completing the mission.”
Mashiro-senpai gave us a dead serious glance. I found myself breaking a cold sweat and swallowing my saliva.
“Pray tell,” Toujo-kun said.
“I don’t think that the god is so heartless to take back the wishes that we made, however, that doesn’t mean that they will let us off without giving something in return.”
“Do you mean…”
“Yes. They will take something precious in return. For example, our lives…”
“However, Kaichou is in a different situation. What I think is that… whether we finished the mission or not, he will disappear, or in other terms… he will die.” Mashiro-senpai’s clenched his jaw as he raised his fist in the air.
My eyes widened when I realized what he’s going to do again. I reflexively stood from my seat and took a step back.
He will break another table!
“Stop that, Mashiro-senpai. I won’t let you damage school properties, I let you off before, but this time, the student council will be held accountable if you did it again.”
Toujo-kun grabbed Mashiro-senpai’s wrist and stopped it from hitting the table.
Silence spreads in the room as I just stood there and slightly scared that the two of them is now quiet.
Good looking people can be really scary if they are silent! It was like the coldness and fiery heat were clashing inside the room!
“My bad. My feelings got the best of me.” Mashiro-senpai emotionlessly said.
“It’s alright. Just get yourself together, you’re not the only one who is worried about Kurokawa-senpai.” Toujo-kun sighed.
I also got relieved for some reasons.
And lastly, I asked how does the student council get nominated. The fact that all of the members are fellow people who made contracts with god, is outright suspicious.
In both Nekoji Academy and their associated middle school, only the president is elected. The president would then choose other students to be part of the council.
There are three factors that could decided who will be the next president.
First, the recommendation from the school principal. Irosaki-sensei obviously gave her approval to Kurokawa-senpai before.
Second, the recommendation of the former student council president. Kurokawa-senpai proved himself to his senpai even in his first year, it was too good to be true. However, it’s definitely possible if it was him.
And third, the opinion of the student body. Because Kurokawa-senpai was once the person who stood at the top, it’s not surprising that he gained the trust of the students.
When I asked about the former student council, Toujo-kun said that the council before them is just a regular one. However, there are records in the school archive that states that this isn’t the first time there are people who made contracts with the god.
“I see… I think I understand most of it.”
“Say, Terushima-san, aren’t you too calm about this? A normal human should be panicking by the sight of something strange.”
“I don’t know, I feel like it was normal. Ahaha, maybe I got used to it that my definition of normal got twisted already.” I chuckled awkwardly.
“Haah… you’re definitely strange yourself, Terushima-san.” Mashiro-senpai nonchalantly sighed.
“I know.” I simply beamed at them.
“What are you looking happy for? It’s not a compliment, senpai.” Toujo-kun deadpanned at me.
After our discussion in the school archive, Mashiro-senpai and I left the library together.
On our way back to the office, I decided to speak to Mashiro-senpai about something.
“Mashiro-senpai, I’ll convince Kurokawa-senpai to talk about his condition.”
Mashiro-senpai stopped on his tracks and faced me with a serious face.
“What are you saying?”
Night. The sky is also cloudy right now.
I looked up on the sakura tree beside the dormitory. The flowers are falling one by one as time passed by. It was the signal that the spring season is coming to an end.
“Hello, Dad? Are you doing well over there?” I spoke to the phone.
Dad just gave me a call. He’s calling me once in a while and it was one of those times that he wants to check up on me.
“Un. I’m fine over here. It’s starting to get warmer since the summer is coming closer now.”
I hummed to myself and stretched my hands outside the window. A sakura petal fell on my palm, I looked at it intently… what a gentle color.
“My plans for vacation? Before that, we still have a lot to do in school. I’m sure Dad will just have one week vacation so it’s not like I will spend more time with you.” I chuckled lightly.
Our talks continued like that all night. I was glad that I could speak to Dad every once in a while like this. We might be far away from each other but I feel like we’ve gotten closer than ever now.
I just hope that he’s not overworking himself. It’s really a bad habit of his.
“By the way, Dad, do you remember why Mom made me stop painting?”
“Hmm? Ah, you don’t know? It’s alright. Sorry for asking.”
“Eh? You have a photo? A-alright, please send it to me. Thanks, Dad!”
As soon as our call ended, I opened my laptop and looked at the file attachment that my father sent to me.
My eyes widened when I saw what kind of painting it was. I covered my mouth in disbelief as I stared at the photo intently.
“D-did I… really made this when I was a child…?” I mumbled to myself, dumbfounded.
W-what’s going on here…? Am I seeing things?