The dull blank feeling cleared up quickly the moment Yuki stepped into the classroom. Hiroshi watched him stroll in with Saki, a smile on his face as always. Everything he knew looked so fake now. ‘How does he do it… If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was genuine… What’s really buried under all of that?’
A flash of another false memory jerked him off his desk. It overlaid on top of the entire classroom. Everyone was in their seats and then something scared them. Fear captured in their eyes spoke volumes. But the terror was missing. It was incomplete.
Just a fake.
Yet one constant, Yuki stood at the center of it all.
‘What’s wrong with me? Such a weird day…’
Their homeroom teacher, Miss Kuniyoshi, arrived bringing the class to order. Hiroshi wasn’t one to pay much attention to homeroom regardless of the day. However, he quickly began to zone out of the class, fading away into his memories. He wasn’t certain what prompted the thoughts, but his nostalgia carried him back to his junior high school days.
Chapter 56 – Splitting the Dream
It wasn't much different for him being a first year junior high student than it was being a first year high school student. He had dealt with things in the same fashion. Joking and mischief were his tools. They allowed him to get through the days without becoming bored by everything. Hiroshi managed to keep himself barely above getting into trouble, knowing almost uncannily when to stop (a trait he always failed at with Saki).
School life dragged on for him. His behavior gained him attention, but not friends. It never really bothered him greatly since he always felt like he had someone near to him. However, during the summer term in school there had been a lot of troubles between some of the students. It had been an unusually hot and humid year putting a lot of people on edge. Tensions got to the breaking point and things quickly spiraled out of control.
During the lunch break on one of those summer days the entire first floor of the school was in an uproar. Hiroshi had been munching on some school bought bread looking bored when he heard a tidal wave of screams. They came from the far end of the hall and distinctly girls. He poked his head out of the classroom catching someone running away from the trouble. Hiroshi grabbed the boy with his free hand. “What’s going on?”
The boy looked nervous like he knew, but didn’t want to say anything. Which only made Hiroshi even more curious. A little pressure from a well placed lean and stare opened the boy’s lips, but briefly. “The girls in Class 1-E…”
“Yes…” The boy flipped his head back and forth down the hall looking suspicious by the moment. He then leaned in towards Hiroshi whispering to the rest of it. Upon hearing what happened Hiroshi’s eyes widened immediately in surprise. “You can’t be serious! That’s enough to get you expelled!”
The boy nodded to him. “It’s true! And I saw Tatsuya Mori and Kazuhiro Nanase coming out! Everyone’s already saying that it was them!”
Hiroshi roughly let go of the boy and marched off down the hall with anger building up on his face. “There’s a line that no man should ever cross! I’ll show them where their stupid prank has taken them!” He stomped through the hall pushing everyone that got in his way. He found the two boys trying to flee from the screams only to bump into Hiroshi with the eyes of a demon staring them down. “Where do you two think you’re going!?”
“Who are you?!” Kazuhiro shouted as Hiroshi grabbed his uniform roughly to keep him from running away.
“We didn’t do anything?!” Tatsuya pleaded as he was restrained as well.
Normally not very strong, Hiroshi gained a significant surge that allowed him to pin both of them against the wall. His piercing eyes refused to turn away from them. “What you did was unforgivable!”
“It wasn’t us!”
“Honest! I swear!”
“Disgusting you can’t even own up to what you did!” His teeth began to grind together, staring at them with contempt. He pressed the two against the wall even more, having difficulty controlling his anger in front of them.
Kazuhiro began to choke and cough under the strain. “It wasn’t…I think it was Minori Nakano’s group!”
“Shifting blame now!?”
“Caught the creeps, Hiroshi?” said a girl behind him approaching from another classroom having heard the noise.
Having heard someone speaking to him cut off the rage that boiled in him. He looked over his shoulder to the girl and nodded. “Yeah, Sakura…I’ll take them to the principal’s office right now. Can you make sure the girls are alright?”
“Thanks, Hiroshi!” She smiled at him and ran off to see what she could do to calm everyone down.
The talk with Sakura cooled him down enough that he was finally thinking straight. As he stared at the two boys his gut spoke to him. ‘Something’s off…’ He hadn't really been listening clearly to what the two said; he just reacted. Yet the longer he looked at them the more that he was uncertain about everything. ‘He said something about Minori…wait!’
His mind turned back for a moment when he ran through the hall. It had only been brief and he didn't think much of it, but he had seen Minori with his three friends. ‘In all the rage I didn’t notice them, but they…’ Minori wasn’t strictly known as a troublemaker, but what he was known for was holding a grudge worse than the Yakuza. ‘…something doesn’t fit…’
Kazuhiro and Tatsuya began to look at each other, feeling a little more comfortable in their confinement by Hiroshi. They were uncertain why he had suddenly stopped and looked deep in thought. However, neither could go anywhere left to Hiroshi’s mercy. The moment disappeared though as Hiroshi’s dark look returned and he dragged them away down the hall. “You two are coming with me.” An air of doom came about his words.
When Hiroshi came to pass Minori in the hall he exchanged a brief glance with him. There was a very smug look on his face. The boy looked far too relaxed for all the chaos. ‘…I hate people like that even more…’
Hiroshi presented the two of them to the principal, dropping them in chairs near the desk. While word had reached the faculty of the school, none of them knew much. The principal was at a bit of a loss to their presence in his office. Hiroshi quickly explained what he knew of the incident while withholding any names.
“I can’t believe…are you implying that it was these two that caused this?!”
Hiroshi stepped up to the edge of the desk looking closely at the principal. “No! I dragged them along as witnesses. They saw who did it!”
“Then who did it?”
Kazuhiro was about to speak up when Hiroshi stepped in. “I did, sir!” He pointed to himself. Kazuhiro and Tatsuya both looked at each other stunned. “I can see what I did now was wrong and regret doing it. So I’m turning myself in.”
The principal’s eyes were twitching furiously. “Are you serious?!” A determined nod came as a reply from Hiroshi not flinching. “I can’t believe this! In all my years…” The principal dropped down into his large office chair having to rest from his disbelief. He required a pause to collect his thoughts before looking back at Hiroshi. “I respect your honesty, but regardless I can’t allow you to stay in this school. You’re here by expelled and your parents will be called.”
“I understand! I’ll have these two escort me back to my class to take my bag and leave school. I’m sorry.” Hiroshi bowed deeply to the principal and turned away. He pulled Kazuhiro and Tatsuya along with him to get them to move, both still unable to even react.
Once they were out of the principal’s office Kazuhiro stepped out in front of Hiroshi forcing him to stop. The cowardly look from before had disappeared. “Why?”
“Because I believe you.” Hiroshi continued to walk around him.
Tatsuya reached out grabbing Hiroshi’s arm to stop him again. “But that doesn’t make any sense! Why would you stand up for us like that and take all of the blame when you did nothing?!”
Hiroshi looked back at them giving a smirk like what he did was just a normal thing. “I can’t stand people that would do that. They have no pride just for a grudge. And this way he’s failed at his revenge.”
“But how can you be fine with getting expelled?!”
There was no reply to their question. He simply gave them a smile and walked away. A strange knowing look that said more than words could. While they weren’t certain, something inside understood the meaning. They chased after him and followed quietly behind him as he entered the class, still in lunch. He left without a word and, for what they thought would be the last time.
The next day Hiroshi showed up to class as though nothing had happened. He had been the talk of the entire school, the rumors that he confessed to the incident were well known. It made everyone uneasy about him still being in the school. Kazuhiro and Tatsuya heard he returned to school and rushed into his class, homeroom was still not starting yet. “Hiroshi!? It’s true then! You’re back!”
“But what about what the principal said!?”
Hiroshi leaned back in his chair with a devilish grin on his face. “The principal called late last night apologizing to my parents. Apparently, Minori was actually the one that did it and ended up confessing to it late after school.”
“What did you do?”
The smile on Hiroshi turned innocent, almost frightening to be seen on him. “Nothing.” In spite of his words, there was a sense of mystery behind them that implied more than he was letting on. However, Kazuhiro and Tatsuya weren't able to get any more out of him and with homeroom starting they were forced to leave.
During lunch, the halls felt much safer for everyone. Hiroshi walked down the hall catching sight of Sakura passing him. He gave her a knowing grin that she responded back with in kind. Nothing more was said on the matter, but the rumors fell away about Hiroshi when they learned he had been falsely accused.
‘…huh? I fell asleep?’ Hiroshi pulled himself up trying to not draw much attention himself, while figuring that everyone already knew. It took him a moment to figure out what class was being held at the moment. He quickly shifted around his books to look like he followed along while his mind felt a little drowsy still. ‘Can’t believe I was out for two hours…and the teacher said nothing.’
His hand combed through his hair trying to straighten himself out a little. ‘Kazuhiro and Tatsuya…I wonder what brought that on? It has been a long time. I guess at lunch I’ll see if they want to hang out after school. It’s been a while. Just need to talk to Yuki first…’ A relaxed smile pulled up on his lips as some of the stress disappeared. He leaned back in his chair looking towards the window. ‘Maybe it won’t be such a bad day after all…’
The pencil on the desk to his neighbor fell on the floor alerting him. He went to pick it up for them when suddenly books and pencils started all dropping on the floor. It didn't take too long for him to realize what was happening. “Earthquake!” The shouts from the students bounced around the room as everyone tried to go under their desk for cover, but it was too late.
A massive crash of breaking cement and earth pounded through the room followed by shattered glass in all the windows. The ground literally felt as though it had jumped under them followed by repeating resounding thuds from neighboring rooms of classrooms falling apart from the sudden cracks in the structure. Outside a jagged cut sliced into the middle of the school from the split earth.
A voice came through the air with clarity despite its distance. “Yuki Hayashi! Come out!” Down at the school entrance stood Demosthenes staring up towards the school making his declaration to the entire school without any regard to secrecy.