“All right everyone,” the voice of one of the teachers suddenly resounded, along with her hands clapping. “How is everyone feeling today? Sleepy?”
The students all replied with random grunts and loud whispers, all adjusting their luggage in their hands or shoulders.
“The trip here was kinda long and wacky, huh? Anyone else see that boulder we just went through or was it just me? Haha, just kidding! I didn’t see anything like that! I’m not on medication or anything!”
“We totally saw it too, though…”
A few of the students blatantly stated, but she continued to ignore them.
Instead, her focus was on the group of six people huddled around the bus driver who weren’t paying attention to her at all.
“You kids over there! Don’t lag behind, come here!”
Ren and the others all turned to look at her. She was gesturing for them to come stand in front of her where the rest of the students were.
Airi frowned, then turned to look at Cupid again.
“What should we do? We’re still— …oh.”
Cupid was gone.
In his stead, the regular bus driver that brought them here was standing there, looking at them with a confused look on his face.
“Uh… Can I help you?”
“Huh!?” Yusei looked quickly from one side to the other. “Where did he go!?”
“...Let’s forget him for now,” Ren said, hoisting his pillow up and pulling out the handle on his luggage to tug it along, heading towards the teacher.
“He’ll come find us again eventually.”
“Oh, yeah? How are you so sure?”
“I just am.”
“You sure love saying that, don’t you, Dahl?”
Yusei scoffed, but started heading towards the teacher with his own stuff.
The rest of them followed along.
Once they reached the group, the teacher raised her voice again.
“Oookay, there’s twenty of you here, and there’s five cabins total. One cabin is for faculty, the other four are for you all. Five of you on each. Girls with girls, boys with boys. No funny business, y’hear?”
“How old fashioned,” said Rika, hoisting her bag on her back and picking up the rest of her stuff from the ground.
Emma immediately beamed up, adjusted her backpack on her shoulders and rushed in front of Airi and Rika as they prepared to walk away.
“Hey! Where are you going!?”
“We should share a cabin!”
Rika was surprised by her sudden outburst, blinking at her.
“Bro, what? Didn’t you come here with a club or something? Shouldn’t you be with them?”
Emma shook her head.
“Nope. I’m here because I’m failing most of my classes!”
“You are? …Huh.”
Rika was quiet for a moment, examining Emma with a nod.
“Yeah, okay. Guess I’m not surprised.”
Airi looked at Emma with bleak concern, however.
“Call me Emma!”
“E-Emma… if you’re failing all your classes and you’re with us on this trip, does that mean… you’re the designated janitor?”
Rika raised an eyebrow and looked at Airi.
“The trip’s designated janitor. Every year when they organize this trip, they bring along the student with the worst grades, and that person has to clean up after everyone for the duration of their stay.”
“They say it’s for motivation. Bringing them along on a trip with the top students and the delinquents will apparently help them want to be like the best, and avoid being like the worst. The truth is, it’s simply punishment. It’s cruel.”
Rika sucked in her teeth at Airi’s explanation, and rubbed the back of her neck.
“Yikes. I knew our school was the shittiest in the district, but I didn’t expect it to be this backwards.”
“Mm. Usually, it’s one of the delinquents who’s also the one with the worst test scores, but Miss Lovecraft doesn’t seem the type.”
“Well, who knows? Maybe she’s the real serial killer.”
Airi laughed awkwardly at Rika’s joke, looking at Emma with pity.
In stark contrast to their reactions, Emma seemed unfazed.
“Don’t worry! I know how to pick up trash and do dishes!”
“...Bro, that’s not the problem.”
“I don’t mind it, though!”
“You don’t mind how effed up it is that they brought you here for that?”
“Nope! I’ve never been on a trip before, so I’m excited just to be here! I’m glad I’m alive to see it! Can’t believe I almost missed it!”
Both Airi and Rika were speechless.
It’s true, no one had had the time to properly process the trauma they just went through, but out of all of them, Emma seemed to be thinking about it the most. They both felt a pang of guilt as they looked at each other.
“...You’re stronger than you look, huh.”
Emma grinned at Rika’s compliment. Airi smiled warmly at her.
“Then, Emma, if it’s truly okay with you, I would love to share a room with you for the next couple of days.”
“Yeah, me too.”
She jumped high in the air a few times.
Rika looked at Airi.
“So. What are you in for? Top student or delinquent?”
“Fufu. That’s a talk for when we’re inside the cabin, is it not? Like a pajama party?”
Rika raised her eyebrow.
“Sure, if that’s what you want. I was asking ‘cause, if you came with a club or other nerds like you, they might wanna know why you’re hanging out with the janitor and all.”
Airi shook her head.
“I’m not here with anyone, so I’m free to room with Emma and you.”
“Cool. Though now we need to find two others to join us, huh.”
Emma raised her hand and waved, as if waiting to be picked in class.
Rika pointed at her, imitating Cupid’s voice.
“Yes, Emma Lovecraft. Go.”
“We should ask the girl!”
“The girl! The other girl! The girrrrl!”
Airi and Rika were frozen for a second.
“Cupid did say she was here somewhere…”
The three of them looked around at the other students who were awkwardly trying to find a group to room with.
“I mean, I personally don’t mind it since she’s my target and all, but is that really such a good idea for you guys? What are we even gonna say to her? ‘Hi, we need you to love us so we can be alive for real’? She’s gonna think we’re insane.”
“I just wanna ask her if she’s into 2.5D.”
“Riiiight. I forgot about that.”
Airi smiled at their lively exchange.
“I think it’s a good plan, really. I am curious about her, not to mention… keep your friends close, and your enemies closer, as they say.”
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