Chapter 10:

Broken Bonds

Somehow, I fell in Love With My School's Biggest Gal!

Sora glanced over at the back corner. It was the middle of the period before lunch. Everyone was supposed to be reading their history textbook and filling out a worksheet. The teacher, Zazban-Sensei, had left early because he felt like he was getting sick and had left Nana-Sensei, the English teacher, in charge. Bookmark here

But Sora couldn't focus on that right now he was too busy engaging in his new habitual action of spying on Ryo.Bookmark here

Ryo was sitting with his head laid down on his desk, not even pretending to do his work. Ever since Aki had gotten beat up, it was like someone had flipped a switch in him. The normally outgoing, flirtatious, and joking Ryo had become very quiet and there was something sad and heavy in his demeanor. Bookmark here

Sora glanced in the opposite direction at En-Kun and Mirho. The two were working together without a care in the world. Ever since the fight, Ryo had been shunned by the other two boys. He had moved his desk away from them, to the very back corner of the classroom. He was always by himself, partially by choice and partially as a result of the other two’s behavior. Despite the fact that Ryo had been very popular and well-loved by the whole school, and particularly their class, En-Kun was the number 1 ranked student and the class representative, and Mirho was the most popular student and star athlete of all the boys’ sports teams. According to the school's unwritten social norms, if they hated Ryo, who had been their best friend, then something must be wrong with Ryo and he therefor had to be treated cautiously. Their class hadn’t exactly been cruel to him, but they definitely weren’t as welcoming of him as they had been. Now the shoe was on the other foot.Bookmark here

Sora, while confused and wary of his ex-best friend, was still worried about him because he saw signs that pointed to him being bullied by the other two boys. He frequently ended up bruised from falling every time he walked near Mirho or En-Kun, and it was so discreet that Sora couldn’t prove that Ryo hadn’t just fallen even if he had said anything. During cleaning duties, he usually ended up covered in dirty water or dust if they were working in the same area of the school. He came to school bruised and bloody frequently and, just yesterday, Ryo had come into homeroom late, with his fingers bandaged and his uniform shoes shredded. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that someone had pulled the old ‘razors in the school shoes’ hazing trope on him. Bookmark here

Sora wasn’t sure what, if anything, he should do. On the one hand, Ryo had abandoned him and treated him like crap for a petty, nearly non-existent reason. On the other hand, he was fully convinced that Ryo had literally saved his and Aki’s lives. He had a sense of right and wrong, despite his over-inflated ego. Bookmark here

While he really didn’t feel like poking the beehive with a stick, Sora still felt bad for the guy. Not only was he being mistreated for being kind and protecting someone who hadn’t done anything, but he seemed…Sora didn’t know how to describe it, but it like it wasn’t just the bullying weighing him down. It was like Ryo had retreated inside of himself. Sora’s eyes narrowed in thoughtfulness.Bookmark here

Suddenly feeling eyes on him, he looked to his left. One desk over and two desks up, Aki was staring at him, clearly wanting to work on the assignment together. Sora locked eyes with her and slowly shook his head no. She stared back for a moment, then nodded in reply, understanding his silent message.Bookmark here

As quietly as possibly, Sora raised himself up out of his chair and picked up his textbook and papers.Bookmark here

“Hey, Ryo-Kun? Want to work on the assignment together?” Sora asked quietly, startling Ryo as he appeared next to his desk.Bookmark here

Ryo turned his head on the desk so that he could see Sora. He looked as if he was suspicious and trying to gauge if Sora was plotting something. “Me?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, you!” Sora snorted. “Does it look like we have another Ryo in this class? It’s not like you exactly have anyone else lining up to work with you, and I happen to know that you’ve hated world history ever since we were kids.” Without waiting for a response, he sat down in the empty desk next to Ryo’s and started flipping through his textbook in search of the correct page. Bookmark here

“Okay, so we’re supposed to be reading the part on the Hattian Revolution.” Sora skimmed over the worksheet. “I think you’ll like this, Ryo! It’s one of the world revolutions that tends to get overlooked, according to my dad, but it’s really interesting! I’ve read a couple of the books that dad has on it in his office and it was really intense, but I’d say that it was the revolution that resulted in the most actual change!” Sora gushed, trying to motivate Ryo to show some real emotion of some sort.Bookmark here

“…okay.” Ryo slowly pushed himself back into a siting position. “Do…you want to read the introduction overview paragraph?”Bookmark here

“Yeah.’ From August, 1791 to January 1804, the self-liberated slaves of the sugar growing colony of St. Domingue rebelled against French rule. To this day, it remains a strong case against the commonly held belief that slaves and the disenfranchised were incapable of standing up for their rights and maintaining their freedom’.” Sora looked over the page.Bookmark here

“Okay, so, I think that we need to reread the sections on slavery in the sugar colonies, the French Revolution, and Napoleon Bonaparte, because they are all intertwined with the Hattian Revolution, and I can’t remember anything from when we covered those.” Sora sighed. “Honestly, I like history, but there’s way too much that we’re supposed to just remember with no review in this class!” He rolled his eyes. “I think that Zazban-Sensei is just too lazy to actually teach because it seems like all we’ve been doing since the start of the year is worksheets!”Bookmark here

“…What are you doing, Sora-Kun?” Ryo asked, eyeing him with exhausted suspicion. Bookmark here

“What do you mean?” Sora asked, surprised.Bookmark here

“You hate my guts, so why are you acting nice to me?” Ryo asked accusingly.Bookmark here

“Who said that I hate your guts?” Sora snapped in annoyance, turning to face his former best friend. He knew who had told Ryo that, and he was pissed.Bookmark here

“I swear to God himself, Ryo, I’ve had it with En and Mirho’s crap! They hate my guts and only care about themselves, so please don’t go acting like anything that comes out of their mouths is reliable in any way! They’re master manipulators! They just want to make you think that everyone hates you and they want to make everyone hate me” Sora snapped angrily. Bookmark here

He knew that Ryo wasn’t his enemy, but he was fed up with the constant judgement and harassment from his ex-friends. After what had happened to Aki, he wasn’t going to play nice anymore. If those jerks made any more comments or threats, he fully intended to do to them what they had done to Aki, regardless of how she would hate it. And, to be honest, he simply wanted to get his guilt and rage out in some way. He was sick of feeling guilty for not protecting Aki, for being stupid enough to ever think that the three had been his friends, for being too weak to protect Aki, for wishing that he could still be friends with Ryo after everything that he had done.Bookmark here

Ryo jumped in his seatnand winced away from Sora. Sora felt terrible and paused, calming his voice and relaxing his face so that he didn’t look angry.Bookmark here

“Hey, sorry! I didn’t mean to scare you!” He gave his very disheveled and upset-looking friend a concerned look. “Hey, Ryo-Kun?” He started softly, unsure if this was a good idea or not. “Are…are you okay? Are you sick? You don’t look too good.”Bookmark here

“I…I can’t…” Ryo looked at the floor and clenched the fabric of his pants tightly. “I…don’t want to answer that.” Ryo said, so softly that his voice was very audible. “Please. Don’t…” He trembled, clearly just barely holding himself together.Bookmark here

Sora knew that he’d probably be better off just walking away, but...he stared at the boy that had been his best friend since childhood...Even so, something inside of him couldn’t help but pity Ryo. The guy was clearly suffering and Sora couldn’t bring himself to abandon him. It just killed him to see the normally lively and cheerful Ryo acting so dead. Besides, jerk though Ryo may be, he was still the same person as the little boy who had promised to protect Sora from bullies when he was weak.Bookmark here

He looked Ryo dead in the eyes, more serious than Ryo had ever seen him before. “En and Mirho, they did something to you, didn’t they? They turned on you, too." He sighed, knowing how vindictive and low they could go. "What did they say?” Bookmark here

Ryo looked up and nodded 'yes' slowly. “They…beat me up after you and Assagi-San left. Mirho…overpowered me.” He whispered. Bookmark here

Sora remembered the day after the...incident. Aki had stayed home to recover, so she never knew, but Ryo had come to class with a black eye and a large cash across his right cheek. He'd briefly wondered if En and Mirho had taken their anger out on Ryo, but quickly put it out of his mind. Bookmark here

“They said…horrible things. Called me names. They…said…” Ryo shuddered . “They said…Things about…my grandfather. They made fun of my family, of the family secrets that I told you guys. They…said….that I was scum, like him. That I was the worst, like you and Assagi-San. That I was a traitor who should just go kill myself because I didn't deserve to live.”Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, Ryo.” Sora whispered. He knew the Hatsumei family secret, their mark of shame from the actions of Ryo’s grandfather. He'd found out about it when they were kids. It was a secret so awful, so dark, and so shameful, that all the old man's living relatives had changed their names.Bookmark here

“That…is a cruel and low blow.” Sora said, unable to respond to such cruel and hateful behavior. The beating would have been one thing, but mentally and emotionally torturing Ryo over something that wasn't even his fault was...was...Sora didn't even have the words!Bookmark here

'Those ass-holes, they better not be so vindictive as to spew Ryo’s dark secrets to the school out of spite!' He though, quickly realizing that things could get much, much worse.Bookmark here

 “I’m so sorry that they did that, Ryo. They…shouldn’t have done that. It's so awful, that I really have no way to describe how upset it makes me. But, for what it’s worth,” Sora shrugged his shoulders. “Your secret is still safe with me. I promise that I won’t tell anyone. Don't worry. If I can, I'll make sure that they don't try anything else. You don't need to deal with them anymore. They are the worst type of human scum possible.”Bookmark here

Ryo looked at him, clearly struggling not to burst out crying in despair. “Sora-Kun? I’m…I’m sorry. I’m so sorry!” He dug his nails into his legs. Bookmark here

“I’m sorry for being so mean to you. You were right all along. You didn’t do anything wrong. Everyone thinks that your dense’re a nice person. It shouldn’t have surprised me that you befriended Assagi-San. But…I guess listening to the other two poisoned my mind or something, that’s the only way that I can explain why I’d be so stupid as to hate someone I didn’t know and turn on my best friend! I still don’t particularly like Assagi-San. She seems like a floozy but.... she’s harmless. Other than dressing like a street girl, she's normal. They never…should have bullied and harassed you the way they did. And what they did to that poor girl...” Bookmark here

Ryo trembled, flooded with horrible memories of Assagi-San crying out as she hit the floor and blood running down her face. He remembered her begging them to stop, pleading that she didn't even know them and had never hurt them. The other two had gotten a sick kick out of her begging and laughed in her face, mocking her for being weak. “I…I never should have went along with them! I never should have agreed with them when they came up with the idea to get even with Assagi-San for seducing you!"Bookmark here

Sora felt sad, like he was going to cry! He had felt so betrayed by his friends that he hadn't seen the truth right away, and he still couldn't see the whole truth! He had lumped Ryo in with En and Mirho as a trio of evil, cruel jerks. He never thought about the fact that they could have manipulated Ryo and strung him along the way that they had done to him, despite how close the three seemed. He thought that Ryo didn’t care about him, but now he realized just how much his old friend had been suffering. Ryo was human; he’d been stupid and made poor choices that he regretted. But he could see clearly and knew what he was doing was wrong. Unlike the other two, he was troubled because he knew that they were doing something wrong. Sora had the feeling that, thanks to the manipulations of Mirho and En-Kun, Ryo actually felt just as betrayed by Sora over the situation as Sora had felt betrayed by him! After all, they had known each other since they were toddlers! Sora knew now for sure that Ryo wasn’t like the other two. He had a bit of a mean streak, sure, but he wasn’t vindictive like the other two were. He didn't think that causing pain in others was enjoyable and didn't toy with people for his own amusement. Bookmark here

Of all the three, he knew that Ryo had actually been his friend all along, in spite of his own character failings and the negative influence of the other two boys. He was sure of it. All the times that Ryo had supported him and been the strong one when Sora felt weak and hated himself. All the shared laughs and tears and dreams. All the sleep-overs and birthdays. It wasn't just in Sora's head . They had had a close friendship and it was real!Bookmark here

“You two…” Ryo sighed in shock at Sora's kindness.Bookmark here

“You and Assagi-San…you’re both better people than I am.” He sighed sadly yet again. “You didn’t do anything wrong. You just befriended a girl that no one liked. Even though everyone thinks that she’s a slut, you saw her as a whole person, not the person that the rumors said that she was and not a toy whose emotions and feelings that you could play with. To you, the opinions of others and any possible negative character traits of hers weren’t an excuse be rude to her. That took guts. Far more guts than what we were planning to do on the roof that day. Tricking her into thinking that the most popular guy in school was in love with her? Playing with any romantic feelings that she had for Mirho and then humiliating her for being in love?” He shook his head. “In what world would that be considered okay to do to any human being? Even after what they did to me, I wouldn’t even put En and Mirho through that!”Bookmark here

Sora fidgeted uncomfortably. “Yeah, you’re right. That’s downright sadistic! Especially because Aki-Chan…” He blushed.Bookmark here

 “How do I say this? She’s not a slut. She’s never been with a guy and romance isn’t a priority for her. She’s one of those people with big dreams, who wants to live in the moment and enjoy life and achieve great things. We're in 6th grade! She isn’t a slut, not even close. She’s one of those sweet and innocent types. All this hate she’s gotten…” Sora grimaced, aware that he had also judged and looked down on her and that only a weird coincidence had changed that. Bookmark here

“…she didn’t deserve it. She still doesn’t deserve it. She didn’t ask for it. All she did was walk around being... herself. It’s not her fault that she developed early and naturally looks like the gal stereotype from a late-night adult anime! She can't change her anatomy or biological make-up!"Bookmark here

Sora was personally embarrassed because of just how much he had underestimated her moral fiber. She wasn’t even interested in dating, much less Mirho! Unlike him, Ryo, and everyone else at school, she saw right through Mirho's vanity and sadism. She had brains, even if she didn't show them much, sass, and sweetness. She had Standards and was looking for a 'good guy'. Mirho was the dumb and shallow one, thinking that girls were too stupid to care about anything beyond the physical appearance of either themselves or others! Bookmark here

Ryo looked even sadder. “I know. I’m still not fond of her and trying to get my mind out of that judgmental thought pattern, but I know that we were wrong. Even after what we did to her…she never told on us! At the very least, we deserved a suspension, or even an expulsion, because of what we did to her! We could have permanently crippled or injured her! But she didn’t tell! The other two probably think that she’s waiting for the right opportunity to blackmail them, but I know that that isn’t true. When we beat her up…I could tell right away that she wasn’t what everyone said she was. Before it started hurting and bleeding she...she begged us to stop because she was worried about us getting punished and ruining our futures!” He shook his head in shock. Bookmark here

“I’m sure that she isn’t holding a grudge against us for beating her up and that she’s forgiven us! I…I can’t understand it! How could she be so kind to monsters like us?” He turned to Sora. “And you! You’re the same! You’re so nice! Too nice! I was an idiot for letting the other two drag me along!”Bookmark here

“Wha-me?” Sora flushed his eyes jumping out, as he pointed to himself in confusion. What was Ryo playing at? Hadn’t he himself stated that Sora was useless and boring? First Aki, and now Ryo? Why was everyone seeing him as some strong, cool guy when he obviously wasn't one?Bookmark here

“When I was an ass to you for no reason, you didn’t say anything cruel or threaten to expose my secrets. You were respectful and all I did was make every sort of cutting remark possible! You didn’t…retaliate…even though I deserved it and would have done it if I'd been in your position! We’ve known each other since we were toddlers and called each other best friends, but I didn't even realize how much I valued that friendship and though I didn't need anyone! But I threw that away and treated you like total trash! just ignored us and went your own way and made new friends. You were happy. You didn’t our pettiness get to you. In fact, you basically gave us an indirect 'screw you.' ” Ryo sighed deeply again and clenched and unclenched his fists.Bookmark here

“You’re a much better person than me. I was wrong, okay? And an evil, malicious jerk. And I’m sorry. You have no idea how much I regret how I treated you and how I helped them hurt Asssagi-San. I-I-I….” Tears gathered in his eyes.Bookmark here

“I regret being a horrible person! I hate myself! I wish…I wish I could turn back time and do it all over again! I know that I can’t fix what I did, though. That’s what’s been eating at me this whole time. The fact that you’ve become more outgoing and happier and well…I got what was coming to me. I know that it's exactly what I deserve, but it's what really get's me because it's like our lives were flipped!...I've lost everything. The whole school knows that I’m not the cool person that I pretend I am. Between knowing that I’m alone and friendless now and not being able to forget what a terrible person that I was back then…” Ryo sighed. “Life is miserable and pointless now. I…” He trailed off.Bookmark here

“Shut up and stop spewing stupidity, you moron!” Sora snapped, slapping Ryo as hard as he dared on the side of his head. It made a dull, but very audible, Thwack!Bookmark here

'Oh, geez!' Sora winced. 'I hope no one else heard that! We don't need any attention right now!'Bookmark here

“W-what?” Ryo clutched the spot that stung and stared at Sora in shock. “Y-y-you hit me! You actually hit me!”Bookmark here

“Well, someone had to bring you back to reality and smack some sense into you!” Sora rolled his eyes. Bookmark here

“You need to stop talking about yourself like that, and you need to get over it! I get why you feel guilty, but you said yourself that worrying won’t fix what you did! All you’re doing is torturing yourself and making yourself physically ill! If you hate the kind of person you were, then change! You chose what kind of character you will have. You get to decide who you want to be. The person that is going to ruin your life isn’t En, Mirho, Aki, or even me. It’s you. If you want to be different, if you want to be a better person, then change! Be that person! Don’t expect someone else to take responsibility for your own actions!” Sora demanded, suddenly feeling bolder than usual.Bookmark here

“So, what if other people don’t like it? So what if they are upset that you aren’t the cool, perfect music artist anymore? You that that's who you really are, right? That you were basically playing a role and letting En and Mirho give you a box to put yourself into? Well, I think that that says more about everyone else than it does about you, that they would be upset that you’re not being fake anymore! In fact, do you really want to care about what those people think? You’re just going to waste your life and hate yourself even more, whether you wallow in your misery or you just chose to keep being someone you’re not. This has nothing to do with anyone else but you. The ball’s in your court now. What are you going to do with your life?”Bookmark here

Ryo blinked at Sora in slow confusion. “Does that mean…do you forgive me?” Bookmark here

Sora sighed. “While I admit I’m hurt by what you did and that I’m not in any hurry to trust you again, I do forgive you. You did save me and Aki, after all. Besides, we have thirteen years of secrets, pinky-promises, and weird ideas between us. As annoyed as I am with you, I can’t just throw that all away. En and Mirho, my relationship with them was always shallow and fake. Our friendship kinda died over the years thanks to them, but we could still probably rebuild it. It won’t happen right away…but you aren’t a jerk like them. You have a heart deep down and can see beyond yourself and what makes you happy. I'm willing to give you another chance, if you won't waste it.”Bookmark here

Ryo slumped in his chair. “I feel like such a loser! All these years, even though we're still only kids, I've been chasing meaningless, stupid things and pretending to be something that I wasn’t! And for what, empty praise from people who don’t really care and aren’t interested in me as an actual person? How could I've been such an idiot?”Bookmark here

“Well, again, you can change if you want to.” Sora replied, picking his pencil back up. “But I get it. I’ve realized recently that…I don’t know…that I was conditioned towards apathy by En and Mirho, I guess. I’m not smart or strong or creative, so I just became a passive doormat that was prodded along by whatever you three wanted. I never really had any ambitions or dreams of my own. But hanging out with Aki and these three others girl-friends of hers…I guess I realized how empty my life was and how little meaning it had. They’ve been teaching me how to have fun and enjoy life. They all have unique personalities and talents and interests and dreams. It’s kinda shoved me out of my comfort zone.”Bookmark here

Sora twirled his pencil around as he looked down, trying to find his place in the world history textbook. “I still don’t know who I am or what I want in life, but I’m trying my best. I’ve just started trying to figure out who I really am, so I understand feeling lost and identity-less.”Bookmark here

Ryo gave a small, dull laugh. “You really have changed, Sora-Kun! You’re…more assertive now and less timid. You have...a personality and attitude now, one that's starting to become distinct. Reading me the riot act, picking a fight with Mirho and En, and hanging out with a bunch of girls? You…really are different, aren’t you?” His gazed turned curious and a glimmer of his old, mischievous self surfaced. “Are you sure you don’t like Assagi-San?” He smiled.Bookmark here

“Wha-? That’s-no-it’s- not-!” Sora turned bright red and flailed around in his chair. “I-I-I-I-I’m just me! Still! I promise! And me -Aki- it’s not like that at all! Why does everyone keep thinking that?”Bookmark here

Sora inwardly smiled to himself. He now had hope that maybe, just maybe he could repair his friendship with Ryo. It would probably take a while and be difficult, but he thought that it was worth it. He was amazed by how strong and intense he had come off. He never would have thought that he would ever have the confidence to tell Ryo off! But every word was true. He was trying to figure out who he was, and this confidence boost was, perhaps, a result of that.Bookmark here

‘It’s funny,’ he thought to himself. ‘He kinda reminds me of Ichigo! Maybe, someday, if we actually do become friends again…it would be really cool to introduce him to everyone!’Bookmark here

       *                                                                         *                                                                         *Bookmark here

“Hey!” Ichigo snapped at Mitsu-San, choking on some juice as the other girl elbowed her in the ribs.Bookmark here

“Would you quit making those obscene, annoying slurping sounds with that straw?” Mitsu snapped back in annoyance. “Drink properly like a normal person!”Bookmark here

“I’m hunrgy, Aki-Nee.” Rina complained, staring up at Aki. Bookmark here

“Well, we’re going to ACE Games, remember?” Aki assured her. “It’s like an epic otaku mall and there’s lots of yummy food vendors and restaurants there! Right, Sora-Kun?” Bookmark here

“Wh-huh? Me? Uh, yes! Yeah!” Sora jumped, shocked out of his absent thoughts.Bookmark here

“I want to go to the manga café.” Mitsu said, adjusting her bag strap. “The university's science, math, and history clubs are hosting a trivia competition and the prize is two complete manga series of your choice!” Mitsu got a devious look on her face. “I’m going to ask for all the current One Piece and Dr.Stone volumes!”Bookmark here

“Geez, Mitsu-San! You can be scary when you want to be!” Sora flinched. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I honestly assumed that you would find anime and manga stupid.”Bookmark here

“Well, of course!” Mitsu-San laughed. “While I am not intense about it the way you and Aki-San are, don’t most people in Japan like anime and manga to some extent? Everyone loves One Piece, but it costs so much to buy the manga because it has been running so long. I went over every inch of the bylaws and rules and I know that they can’t deny me all 95 volumes just because it will cost the café a lot of money. They can’t go back on the official rules, and the rules say nothing about limitations of any sort!”Bookmark here

“Eh, that sounds like you.” Sora sweated. Mitsu-San could be conniving. Not in an awful way, but she was very intelligent and knew how to get what she wanted.Bookmark here

Dr.Stone, huh?” He continued. “I can’t imagine you liking an action-Shonen series, but I can see you liking an educational-Shone.” He smirked. “Let me guess, you also like Cells at Work and How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift?, right?”Bookmark here

Mitsu looked vaguely surprised. “How did you know, Kusagi-Kun?” Bookmark here

“Oh, wild guess.” He smiledBookmark here

'...those are the only educational anime that I know of right now, even though I'm sure there's more. You're just an education nerd.' He though to himself.Bookmark here

“I can’t wait to try out the fighting games!” Ichigo made a fist. “I know that I’ll be able to set a new record in all of them!” Bookmark here

She jumped around, pretending to fight someone. “Hiyah! Gah! Take that! Die! Wooooo!” She suddenly stumbled and flailed rapidly as she fell backwards. “Ahhhhhh!” Ichigo just managed to evade gravity and stay standing. “Whoo!” she sighed.Bookmark here

“Be careful, Ichi-Chan!” Rina insisted.Bookmark here

“Ah, please don’t call me that, please.” Ichigo smiled awkwardly and cringed. “It sounds creepy.”Bookmark here

“Hey…Sora-Kun.” Aki said softly, laying her hand on Sora’s shoulder as the lively group made their way across the school courtyard. Bookmark here

“What is it, Aki-Chan?” He paused and turned towards her.Bookmark here

“Look.” She pointed. A few feet away, Ryo was also heading for the front gate and he had paused to stare at them. “It’s that guy from before. The one who saved us.”Bookmark here

“H-hi, Sora.” Ryo called sheepishly, giving a slight wave, aware that he had been caught staring.Bookmark here

“Hey.” Sora stopped and called back.Bookmark here

“Ummm…” Ryo tucked his arm behind his head. “Thanks…for earlier.”Bookmark here

“It’s no big deal. Just…take care to yourself, okay?” Sora shrugged it off. All he’d done was give Ryo a piece of his mind. He’d just been the first person to do what needed to be done to set Ryo strait.Bookmark here

“Hey!” Aki bounced over and shoved Sora aside. “Thank you so much for helping me and Sora-Chan!” She gave Ryo a wide grin. “My name is Aki Assagi, what’s yours?”Bookmark here

“Uhhh…” Ryo blinked in shock. “…Ryo. Umm, Ryo Hatsumei.” Bookmark here

“Nice to meet you!” Aki smiled even bigger. “Hey, what are you doing right now?” She asked, not giving Ryo a chance to answer. “We’re all going to the ACE Games complex. You should come with us!”Bookmark here

Ryo glanced over at the other three girls who had paused to wait for Sora and Aki. “I-it’s okay!” He gestured nervously. “I’m good, thanks!”Bookmark here

“Come on!” Aki pouted. “Don’t be like that! You’re coming with us and it’s going to be fun!” She grabbed Ryo’s arm insistantly and marched him over to the other girls. Bookmark here

“Hey! Guys! This is Ryo Hastumei, and he’s gonna be coming with us!”Bookmark here

Sora laughed to himself at Ryo’s deer-in-the-headlights look as he was dragged around by Aki. Good! Let someone else get yanked around for once! He smiled. This was just like Aki; she didn’t have anything against anyone and was always looking for a new friend to drag into her insanity! Leave it to her to instantly forgive and befriend one of the guys who assaulted her when he was trying to slowly repair his friendship with the guy!Bookmark here

“Hey! Sora-Chan! Move it! Let’s go, come on!” Aki yelled at him.Bookmark here

Sora smiled and ran after his friends. “I’m coming, I’m coming!"Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.