I Accidentally Killed The Protagonist
A loud thunk erupted, followed by the sound of clattering metal chains.
Brandishing the baseball bat back onto her shoulders, the girl who had just attempted a home run tapped the bat against herself in frustration. Her short, tousled brown hair was clear away from her neck, and so was barely disturbed.
"Waste 'a money..." she spat to herself.
"I think it's fun to watch, at least. Not that I understand any of it. It's like when you watch someone who is skilled at anything, the first part of the process is being fascinated by how they are able to do it in the first place." Another girl spoke up from the bench nearby, arms drawn into her lap, daintily flicking her toes. Her blue eyes twinkled in contrast to the orange of the setting sun, mellowed by the evening.
"Oh yeah? I thought you were having a go too? Or, let me guess, you dragged me out here to talk about you-know-who again."
"I-I'll have a go..." she responded, a blush creeping along her cheek as she scratched it with her finger awkwardly, averting her eyes.
"Ah whatever, you're no good at baseball anyway."
The girl on the bench brushed the back of her neck with her sleeve, glancing away. "Heh, that's true..."
The short-haired girl spread her feet at shoulder width, priming herself by pitching her weight back and forth and taking some practice swings. She mimicked the sound of the rushing air of the bat cutting through the air with her mouth each time. As if exaggerating her observation, the other girl on the bench pushed her glasses up her nose, pressing her hands onto the wood and leaning to claim a viewing angle on the opening of the pitching machine at the far end of the batting cage.
...Wait, why am I narrating for these guys? Let me check my file.
Okay... I see I see, that makes sense. Some background on the other characters to build investment. The short-haired girl is...
"I have a few coins left if you miss this one, Yuuna," spoke the glasses-wearing girl.
Yuuna Butou. Which makes the girl with the glasses...
"That supposed to be a joke? I shouldn't even have spent this much today... you totally owe me a sandwich tomorrow, Tsugumin," pleaded Yuuna.
Tsugumi Otonashi. You know, I appreciate the opportunity here. It provides me with a chance to gain intel on Shintaro's classmates and prepare Ezu ahead of time. Ahead of time... Wait. Something about this situation doesn't seem right. The sun is setting... yet, it wasn't that close to the end of the day last time I checked. Does that mean...
"What kind of logic is that? You spend all of your money at the batting cage the day before school starts and that means I have to buy you something?" grumbled Tsugumi quietly.
Right, this is a flashback. The evening before the first day of school. With two characters that have never appeared before. This storytelling business is a mess...
"Well... when you say it like that..." Yuuna's lips curled and scrunched.
"...Fine, but only one."
The pitching machine fired a fastball at Yuuna and, newly invigorated, she swung her bat with clean form, a satisfying scrape crackling from her shoes and she twisted into the attack. The ball flew straight toward the home run pallet, unleashing a loud ring. For a moment she stood there, bat held high at the end of its movement.
"See?" she responded along with a hefty expulsion of air from her lungs. "It was worth it in the end, too. Sandwich for me. Home run for me."
"I don't see how I'm benefitting from this..." bemoaned Tsugumi.
"You were the one that asked to come out and join me tonight. 's not like I wouldn't have come here without you. Speaking of which, I don't think we've actually gotten on to that topic yet."
"So..." pressed Yuuna.
"I-It's a little embarrassing."
"What, having a crush on a guy? It's no big deal, is it?"
Tsugumi's increasingly reddening face begged to differ.
"Alright, I'll hear you out. But you'll have to point him out at school tomorrow. I'm not making my position known till I know how this guy acts and how this guy looks."
"Well, sure, but... is that really necessary? Are you my mother?"
"No, but I am your friend."
Tsugumi looked genuinely flattered by this, but her reaction soon turned quizzical.
"A fair point, but... why did you decide to be my friend?"
"Because you look pathetic," Yuuna slipped out with a deadpan gaze.
"You didn't have to answer it like that so quickly."
"Like a puppy. A little puppy. With glasses."
And that brings us back to the present. So... where were we. 'Shintaro' had just met with Shigenori and they were, hopefully, on their way to homeroom.
"So, where is the guy?" Yuuna asked, leaning over a desk in the classroom, her elbows splayed across the surface.
"I don't know... homeroom is about to start any moment and he's not arrived yet. He was never late last year." Tsugumi replied, fidgeting while sitting at the chair of what I assumed was her desk, the same one Yuuna was leaning on.
Moments later, our questions were answered. 'Shintaro' and Shigenori arrived accompanied by the clattering of the door opening. They were being held by their collars by the teacher, Ezu's downcast face bringing images of a sodden cat let in from the rain to mind. Shigenori held his stack of UFO photos loosely in his grip, but some fell to the floor. After they were released and reprimanded by the teacher, Shigenori snapped them up from the floor and clutched them close to his chest, skulking to the back of the room. It was as if he were a different person around anyone that wasn't Shintaro.
Ezu took a few seconds to come around, but as soon as he did, he fumbled around looking for where to go, darting his eyes around the room. I raised my eyebrows, pointing my nose at his desk, the one that was right beside where Tsugumi was sitting.
(That one. That one. Quickly.)
"Ah... there he is..." Tsugumi sighed softly, her anxiety melting away.
"That's him? That's Shintaro?"
Yuuna, even with her unusual viewing angle as she had her head turned from her position on the desk, lingered in disbelief.
"No comment," said Yuuna.
"Is that it? But, I mean... look at him!"
"Yeah. I am."
"Isn't he great?"
As Tsugumi was saying this, Ezu sat dead still in his seat, staring at the blackboard in front of him. I was egging him to at least find something to make him look busy, but for the time being our options were limited, and Ezu was deathly afraid of giving himself away if he spoke to anyone, lest I... punish him? I'm... not that scary, am I?
"He's... not talking to anyone."
"He's... he's just getting used to the new homeroom. I bet the way things went this morning is making him feel anxious," proposed Tsugumi. "O-Oh, look! He's started talking. I wonder who he's talking t-"
"He's talking to himself." Yuuna took no time in filling in the blanks. I'd love to correct them and say he was actually talking to me, but I'd rather Ezu look a fool than risk exposing myself.
Tsugumi's face warped into one of defeat, and Yuuna placed a hand on his shoulder.
"So he's a little lame. But don't worry. I'll soon get him into shape."
She started to stride toward him, but Tsugumi grabbed her skirt before she had a chance to move anywhere.
"Please. Anyone but you."
"Huh... Rude, but I guess leaving him for a bit longer won't hurt."