“Senpai, listen to this… I spotted my crush drinking water the other day. It made me happy because it means we have something else in common!” Takashi-san is spouting a horrible joke while we’re sitting on a bench.
A muffled sigh escaped me as I looked at her with dead eyes while forcing a smile.
We found ourselves in this situation as a result of an activity designed to promote communication and interaction between members of the student council.
The idea is that every time we have a new member, the current members should spend some time with them while working on student council stuff. That way, working together and getting to know each other would be a more enjoyable experience.
The activity can take place in the student council room or elsewhere on campus if we prefer. In this case, the new member gets to pick the location.
Minori announced the pairing activity earlier. I'm cool with this arrangement since pairings will be shuffled eventually.
That horrible joke has to go!
I turned my focus away from the student council files I was reading and tried to strike a casual conversation with Takashi-san.
“Say... Takashi-san, are there any other clubs you belong to besides the student council?”
“There aren’t any, senpai. I’ve decided to focus on the student council.” Takashi-san smiled.
“Hmm… Speaking of which, what made you join the student council?”
“Why you say... Ahm... Not really anything noteworthy. I just thought it was interesting since you’re a member, senpai.”
“Ohh… I see–” Huh? “Hold on... You’re not saying you joined simply because I’m a member, are you?”
“No. That’s exactly what I’m saying, Shibasaki-senpai.”
“Have you mistaken me for someone else?” She’s pretty forthright. Akin to Kyashii, she somehow manages to catch me in an unguarded moment.
“No, senpai,” Takashi-san’s smile faded as she cast a stern look at me. “I joined the student council primarily because of you.”
Why is she staring at me like that? Is she trying to get an amusing reaction from me?
Whatever the case may be, I will not let this underclassman to catch me off guard any longer.
Just like our first encounter, our eyes meet squarely once again.
Hmm… Now that I have had some time to stare into those eyes, I realized she has lovely pair of amber eyes. She may not have thick eyelashes, but hers are so fine that they match her eyes.
“. . . .”
Takashi-san's eyes drifted away from me. Looks like I won that stare-off, huh?
I guess my eyes lingered on her for longer than they should have been.
“Just as I expected, those eyes are too much for me,” Takashi-san muttered.
“Am I making you uncomfortable, Takashi-san? If so, I apologize.” This makes me feel terrible as this is not what we were trying to accomplish. That’s not the purpose of this activity.
Right, we are still in the middle of our activity!
What the heck am I doing trying to win this nonsense staring competition?
“Certainly not, senpai… It’s just that you seem to have a penetrating gaze. How should I put this? Umm… When you gaze into someone’s eyes, it’s as if you were peering into their soul. Yeah… That’s how I’d describe it.”
What a profound statement from someone I barely know. My aim here is light years away from what she describes. I’m only scheming to compete in a fictitious contest with her, but she’s actually taking it seriously.
My words fail me in this instance.
“You see, senpai..” Takashi-san started talking again before I could respond. “I just think we started on a poor note. I have to say that our first meeting was memorable for me, maybe not for you. For the first time in my life, I felt nervous simply because someone glared at me.”
Was I really that menacing then? I wasn’t aware of it.
“After realizing that I had acted up, I decided to apologize because I think it left you with a negative impression of me, senpai,” Takashi-san added.
“I won’t argue with your last statement, though,” I replied straight away.
“I saw that coming, senpai,” she tittered.
Takashi-san seems to be more comfortable around me now that she talks about these things.
Great! It appears that this activity was a success.
“Takashi-san, does it bother you when people think negatively about you?” I asked with casual curiosity.
“Probably, senpai. That seems to be the case with most people, doesn’t it? Not to mention, the look in your eyes bothered me. It made me feel restless until I apologized properly.”
“Why are you so into my eyes? The way you’re blaming it, it’s relentless.”
I had no idea I could make someone feel that way just by gazing... umm, glaring at them.
She smiled. “It might be because I find your gaze enticing and fascinating, senpai.”
What a straight shooter!
How does she do that? She just says whatever is on her mind.
And does my stare really appear that way? I have no idea how it comes across to others.
Wait... Hold on...
Let's just leave it at that.
My curiosity about her keeps getting me sidetracked! We still need to complete several documents for the student council. We did not come here to recount our own personal experiences.
Just as I was about to suggest we end this discussion, Takashi-san started talking in a melancholy tone.
“When I apologized to you after the ceremony, senpai, I figured you had brushed off the incident as something trivial. That, however, was a real issue for me. During our first talk, I immediately felt that I could be comfortable around you, senpai. I get a sense of familiarity with you as if I’ve known you for a long time, although I’ve never met you.” She added with a soft smile.
“Uhmm...” I’m becoming uneasy about this situation.
This is an overly personal discussion, something I’m not used to. It’s as if someone random has walked up to me and started talking about their personal woes, and I’m utterly unprepared for it.
“However, senpai...” I see she still has more to say. Does she not want me to respond at all? “I doubt you will remember me for very long after that incident. So, I got you gummy candies as a gift. My goal was to make sure you would remember me favorably.”
Ohh.. So that's why...
I guess that explains why we constantly run into each other.
I feel fuzzy after I finally understood what she was saying. But for some reason, I just can’t seem to wrap my head around it. Something seemed out of place about her interest in me. Not to mention that she wanted to get close to me just because she felt familiar with me.
What makes her feel that way, considering she's aware that I'm not that friendly towards her?
And, I had no idea that I would have made such impression on someone just by the nature of that incident.
On a related note, it's amusing to learn the childlike yet endearing reason behind those gummy candies.
I think the gist of it is that she wants me to remember her in a positive light because I’m a remarkable senpai in her eyes. Moreover, she found my nature comforting, and therefore she had a strong desire to be near me.
A remarkable senpai, huh?
". . . ."
Now, hold on a sec...
Aren’t all these things pointing to a senpai-kōhai bond? Isn’t this what the senpai-kōhai relationship was all about?
Ohh... I see now.
Well... I can understand her unusual interest in me if that's the case.
That idea didn’t come to me right away since I wasn’t close to my upperclassmen even during my first year. I have always considered the title of senpai to be sufficient in and of itself.
Even so, having a kōhai in this sense intrigues me.
It seems to me that she’s searching for a proper senpai, and she believes that I am capable of fulfilling that role. Personally, I think I can handle that role just fine.
In practice, it’s pretty handy to have a senpai-kōhai relationship at school.
“Senpai?” Takashi-san called my attention.
“Oh! I’m sorry, Takashi-san... I'm just thinking about what you said. I guess I understand why you would want to get close to your upperclassman like me.”
“You do?” She seems pleasantly surprised.
“Yes, of course!” I can’t help but feel smug right now.
“That’s a surprise, senpai! I didn’t expect you to understand me right away. It’s so amazing how quickly you understand me. As expected, you’re so cool… You may seem stoic, but you have a soothing presence that can calm others simply by being with you. This is why I enjoy being around you, senpai.”
Wait... What’s the deal with these flatteries? And did she just refer to me as a stoic?
“What’s with that kind of thinking you have about me? Anyway, I realized you were hoping for a senpai-kōhai relationship. So… I may not be perfect for the role you’ve imagined, but I’ll do my best to be a good senpai to you, Takashi-san.”
“Senpai-kōhai relationship?!” She looked even more surprised now.
“Yeah. That’s what you were going for, wasn’t it?”
“No… Ahh... Not at all, senpai. I mean...” She started fidgeting. “And here I thought you really understood,” she muttered under her breath.
“What? Did I get it wrong?”
“We-well… Senpai-kōhai sounds nice. B-but could we at least become f-friends, senpai?” She asked with an embarrassed smile.
“Oh!” Right! I was way off the mark. Friends, huh? “I see... So that’s what you mean.”
“Is it possible, senpai?”
“Sure, Takashi-san. I have no problem with it.”
“Uh-hum…” I nodded.
Thanks to this activity, I now feel comfortable around her. Though we nearly did nothing in terms of paperwork for the student council, this activity achieved part of its primary goal.
Even better, it resulted in us becoming friends.
“Then, can I call you by your first name, senpai?” she asked adoringly.
“No,” I replied bluntly. “It’s too soon for that.”
“Ehh? Come on, Yuyo-senpai~…”
“Hey... The defiance is real here. You shouldn’t call me that.” I reacted nonchalantly because I wasn’t particularly bothered by it after all.
“We’re friends now, Yuyo-senpai, so it should be alright.” she grinned.
“Fine. Just don’t expect me to call you by your first name. I’m not sure I’m ready for that.”
“Yatta! It’s okay, Yuyo-senpai. I’ll wait until you call me by my first name.” She had a bright smile on her face.
I just smiled. Strangely, I feel as though I’ve gained a younger sibling here.
“Alright. Let’s go back to the student council. Since you didn’t do anything with these documents, let’s get it done there.”
“Urrk! I’m sorry, Yuyo-senpai. I’ll finish this as quickly as I can.”
“We’re back.” I stepped into the student council room while checking Takashi-san’s work. She’s lurking just behind me.
“Welcome back… So, how did it turn out?” I heard Minori asked.
“Kamiwaki-senpai, our date was a success!” Takashi-san excitedly exclaimed from behind.
Her words caused me to wrinkle my brows quickly. “It appears you have a strange vocabulary. That’s not a date. Moreover, as a student council member, you must remember that dating isn’t allowed on campus premises, Takashi-san.”
“Aww… I got scolded. Roger that, Yuyo-senpai!” she snorted and gave me a playful nod.
“Aha-ha. Ahh... Yeah… I think the activity turned out well. You even refer to Yuyo by her first name already. That's great, Takashi-san.” Minori commented in an apprehensive tone.
There was something in Minori’s tone that pulled my attention to her.
Minori is smiling awkwardly, but never mind that. It's more surprising to see Kyashii reading a book next to her.
Actually, it’s the fact that she’s reading a book that really surprises me.
“Oh, Kyashii… What are you doing here?” I asked.
“Waiting for you,” she answered without looking at me.
Huh? Why is that? Did I forget something?
I don’t remember making plans with her after school.
“Hold on a second...” I turned back to Takashi-san. “Here, Takashi-san. Please work through this part. If there’s something you don’t understand, please let us know. Do you think you can finish at least half of it?”
“I will try my best, Yuyo-senpai!”
I smiled at her. “Thank you. Then, just leave it on the desk when you’re done with it. I have to finish mine as well.”
She nodded as she sat down with the others. I then made my way toward Kyashii.
Minori had her eyes glued to me as if she were worried. I gave her a perplexed look, but she nudged me as though she was saying that it wasn’t a big deal.
“Hey... Did we make plans after school that I forgot about?” I asked Kyashii shortly after I took my seat next to her.
“No,” she replied rigidly, her eyes still set on her book.
There was an air of agitation about her. It made me wonder what brought her here.
“Are you all right? Something wrong?’’ I asked quietly, trying not to disturb the other members working on their tasks.
“None at all... I’m just wondering if you’d be willing to tag along with me after this. I plan on going to the bookstore later.” She said coldly when she finally looked at me.
“. . . .”
Her demeanor really bothers me.
But I still have a task to complete, so let me deal with that later.
“Sure… Wait until I finish this.” I replied.
She went out of her way to wait for me; it would not be very kind of me to refuse her.
I looked at Minori, who was just staring at us sheepishly. Kyashii probably said something to her. When I puffed up my cheeks and narrowed my eyes at her, she just brushed me off.
“Yuyo, lend me your phone,” Kyashii said after a few minutes.
“Why? What happened to yours?” I asked without looking at her.
“It’s dead. Let me have yours. I’m bored.”
I silently handed her my phone to avoid unnecessary interruptions and quickly get my task done. Since Kyashii has been using my phone quite often, she already knew its passcode. She constantly asks for it when she wants to play with it.
“You two are so adorable.” Our student council president said out of nowhere.
When I glanced at her, it was obvious that her eyes were directed at us when she said that.
“What is, senpai?”
“You’re so close that you’re letting your friend use one of the most sacred belongings of a person nowadays.” Her smile widened.
Most sacred belonging?
“Ahh... I take it you mean the phone, senpai?”
“Ohh, yes, Shibasaki-san. Not only did you hand over your phone, but you did so without hesitation.”
“She’s been using my phone for quite some time now, so I’m used to it, senpai. I don’t think she’ll do anything nefarious with it anyway.” I wryly smiled at Kyashii, who sneered at me in response.
“My… What a wonderful friendship you have, Shibasaki-san.” Senpai is still beaming at us.
I simply returned her smile.
“Thank you, senpai. It goes without saying that Kyashii and I are best friends.”
The daily distractions today seem endless. I can’t seem to get my task done on time.