Chapter 3:

Cool Oddball, Cheeky Character

Unconsciously Interested

Lunch break.Bookmark here

I rarely bring a bento mainly because I don’t want to inconvenience my brother about it, and I am not fond of making it either. I usually buy my lunch with Minori at the school cafeteria. Unfortunately, she won't join me for lunch today because of an important meeting regarding the student council elections. Bookmark here

I scanned the classroom to look for Kyashii, but she was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps she went to her usual spot for lunch with Nazumi-san? Bookmark here

Well, that's what you'd expect; Kyashii and Nazumi-san are a well-established duo, just as Minori and I have been since last year. Bookmark here

At times, I wonder if Kyashii and I really are best friends. It doesn't seem that we fit the mold of best friends who spend a lot of time together. And while it's probably more appropriate to refer to Minori as my best friend, I feel more connected with Kyashii. After all, that's what best friends are, no?Bookmark here

“. . . .”Bookmark here

Welp! I'm thinking about trivial things again. Whatever. Bookmark here

Anyway, I’m cool having lunch alone. Now then, let’s go grab something to eat at the cafeteria.Bookmark here

“Heading to the cafeteria, Shibasaki-san?” a husky yet gentle voice called to me.Bookmark here

I turned to see who it was since that voice didn’t ring a bell.Bookmark here

Behind me stands Hiro Ezaki, a tall and good-looking guy with smoky blue hair flashing a sympathetic smile at me. Bookmark here

“Ohh. Ezaki-san, hello. Yeah, I am on my way to the cafeteria.” I casually replied.Bookmark here

“Do you mind if I tag along? I was about to grab my lunch too.” Bookmark here

“Sure, I don’t mind at all. Let’s go then.” I replied nonchalantly. Bookmark here

He just smiled as we strolled to the cafeteria together.Bookmark here

Although I am not personally close to Ezaki-san, I don’t feel awkward in his presence. Besides being classmates since our freshman year, both of us are members of the literature club, thus we sometimes bump into one another. It wasn't surprising he approached me first today. Thanks to his friendly disposition, it has always been easy for me to talk to him. Bookmark here

Moreover, I think he is pretty smart. It was his ability to articulate his ideas during the club discussion that made me take notice of him. Plus, he has quite a following. It's not hard to see why, especially since he has a dashing, cool, and knowledgeable personality in addition to his good looks. Bookmark here

“I see you’re not with Kamiwaki-san today?” Ezaki-san asked.Bookmark here

“She has a few errands to run. What about you? Why are you not with your friends?” I asked back.Bookmark here

“I don’t know about friends. All I have are acquaintances,” he casually said.Bookmark here

I chuckled. “You’re overthinking things, aren’t you? With a personality like yours, you can easily make friends.”Bookmark here

He stared at me intently. I could tell his eyes were saying something I couldn’t understand.Bookmark here

“What?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Nothing...” Bookmark here

What’s up with that look? Bookmark here

Ezaki-san can be weird sometimes.Bookmark here

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After buying lunch, Ezaki-san stayed in the cafeteria after a so-called acquaintance called out to him. However, I prefer to eat in the classroom, so I excused myself.Bookmark here

As I walked back to the classroom, someone wrapped their arms tightly around me out of nowhere!Bookmark here

"Hyaah!" Bookmark here

"Yu-chin! I miss youuuu!" Bookmark here

"H-hey, Tomoka! Quit torturing me every time you do that! Are you really determined to make me suffer a heart attack?!"Bookmark here

I've been tackled twice in a row today! Bookmark here

I'm so abused, thanks to my friends.Bookmark here

Tomoka giggled at my reaction but made no attempt to untangle her arms around my shoulders.Bookmark here

 Jeez! This girl really takes pleasure in attacking me like that. Bookmark here

This honey-haired girl who loves assaulting me like that is Tomoka Mizuno. She is also in my class and is known as "Congeniality-san" throughout the school. That's because she gets along well with just about everyone she meets. Bookmark here

The amount of energy she has makes me wonder how she deals with serious life's challenges. To top it off, she's the only person who ever brings up my name in error and calls me by a moniker! I’ve made several attempts to get her to refer to me by my real name, but she always ignored it, so I just gave up.Bookmark here

"Still not used to it, Yu-chin?" she grinned. Bookmark here

“I get startled easily, so that’s out of question.” I glared at her. “Wait… Did you just get here? I don't remember seeing you this morning.”Bookmark here

"Ehehe! I slept in.”Bookmark here

“Figures. That's right up your alley.”Bookmark here

She just laughed. “Want some of my bread? I see you only got one."Bookmark here

"No, thank you. I'm fine with just one. Now, get off of me. It's hard to walk this way." I tapped her arms. She let go of me this time.Bookmark here

“Why are you alone? I rarely see Yu-chin by herself.”Bookmark here

Hmm? Rare, huh? Bookmark here

If anything, there are times when I would rather be alone. It’s just that most people I know take the initiative to hang out with me whenever they see me by myself, that’s why I’m constantly surrounded by people.Bookmark here

“Minori is off to a meeting,” I replied curtly.Bookmark here

“Oh, yeah?! I’ll keep you company since I’ve got you all to myself. That way, you won’t get lonely eating your lunch.” Tomoka hugged me again, wrapping her arms around my waist this time as we walked.Bookmark here

Uff! She sure loves skinship. Bookmark here

I’ve been dealing with her like this from that moment we became friends, thus I’m indifferent to her behavior except for those startling attacks.Bookmark here

“Fine. But could you get off me? We’re still on the first-year floor, and some students are staring at us. You, walk straight!” I chided as I gently pushed her away from me. Bookmark here

“Owh! ~ Yu-chin is feeling shy. I don’t mind them at all,” she grinned, keeping her hands around my waist.Bookmark here

“Well, I do mind! You’re making it hard for me to walk. At this rate, lunch break will be over by the time we get back to our classroom!” I snapped.Bookmark here

She chuckled but didn’t move an inch. Bookmark here

Jeez! She’s taller than me, plus I’m not as athletic as her so I can’t keep up with her strength. Bookmark here

Ah, whatever! Bookmark here

Let's just get back to the classroom before lunch break ends.Bookmark here

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Tomoka is still chained to my waist, smiling from ear to ear as we walk into the classroom.Bookmark here

This girl! Bookmark here

Pant! Bookmark here

I’m totally exhausted! I’ve literally dragged her all the way up here. Bookmark here

Some of our classmates laughed at the sight of us entering through the second door. Bookmark here

“How nice... You two are extremely close,” someone commented. Bookmark here

“Yep, you said it right!” Tomoka exclaimed as she let go of me. “It’s implied because Yu-chin is my wife after all,” she said in jest while puffing up her chest with her right hand. Our classmates just laughed at Tomoka’s antics as they were also not new to it. Bookmark here

I sighed as I took my seat—what a cheeky character. Bookmark here

I don’t have the energy to come up with a retort to that wife joke as it feels like I just had my PE class. Bookmark here

Besides, Tomoka has been making jokes about it ever since we became friends, therefore it’s nothing new to me. I felt awkward about it at first because endearments and callsigns aren’t near my wheelhouse. But then again, just like all of her other shenanigans, I eventually got used to it.Bookmark here

I suddenly noticed Kyashii and Nazumi-san were back in their seats when I caught a glimpse of Kyashii looking at us. When I gestured with my left hand at her, a frosty stare greeted me in return. Bookmark here

Hmm? Is she in a bad mood?Bookmark here

“Here, Yu-chin. I’ll give you my bread. I know you’re tired.” Bookmark here

“Just who’s fault is it anyway?!” I snarled at a grinning Tomoka as I took the bread she offered. “Thanks!” My energy meter runs out just by dealing with this energy monster.Bookmark here

It's only the first day of class, yet I feel like I have already burned all my energy for the week. Bookmark here

Haah! A school day can be draining at times. Bookmark here

But regardless, I am looking forward to a semester filled with both fun and learning.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.