Chapter 13:

How I Jumped Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire

Cursed Lines

Daisuke pulled me out exceptionally early on the first day of the new school year, which I resented him a bit. But he couldn't sleep, thinking up plans over the weekend to win my sister's heart, and he wanted my approval. In their case, my skills would be extremely useful, I would like to see how much they fit together, although I thought they just were. Such an assurance, however, might move things a bit further between them.

I watched as more familiar faces entered the classroom, and greeted people with a nod or a wave of the hand. My friend had to put in a little more effort and exchange a few words with many people. Alice, instead of entering the room normally, ran into it with an angry expression on her face and her hair flying. We were unlucky with Daisuke that her anger was aimed at us. We looked at each other and knew we were going to be bad. She slapped his desk with one hand, then mine, and took a moment to catch her breath.

"Why didn't you tell me we could go to other classes?!" she wheezed.

"We might have forgotten to mention it," Daisuke tried to explain.

I knew Alice's outbursts were rather brief but violent. She didn't tend to hold a grudge for long, so I knew she'd forgive us by the end of the first lesson. Anyway, it wasn't a problem, because she came to class with us anyway.

"I come here and the first thing I see is the board with names, I almost had a heart attack when I saw this. Looking for your names like crazy with nerves, I wasn't sure what these signs were any more," she said bitterly, hoping that we would feel guilty about her bad mood.

"No need to be nervous Alice, the most important thing is that we are together for another year." Hamada suddenly appeared behind my sister's back with a wide, kind smile. "With these two, I've been lucky for many years, haven't we guys?"

Daisuke had to nudge me to get her to answer. I was too captivated that even if she was talking about both of us, it was as if she meant only me. I wondered if something had changed in me if Hamada had suddenly become a little more interested in me. I recovered for whatever reason, the main thing was that it was happening, and I had to take advantage of it.

"We're the lucky ones to always find you," I replied, hoping my smile was natural.

Alice looked at me doubtfully, but said nothing, just pursed her lips. A thought occurred to me, and I reproached myself for not thinking of it sooner and asking my sister about some things directly. I decided to make up for it the same day.

Hamada seemed to want to add something else, but there was some confusion at the entrance. We all looked that way. Daisuke and I didn't go over the list very carefully, I just made sure Alice and Hamada were in the same class. I should probably take a closer look to avoid being surprised when Konya entered our classroom and took one of the last free desks.

Everyone was interested in him, but he just stared at our group. I had the impression that there was a challenge to girls lurking in his gaze, but when he turned his gaze in my direction, it was more of simple joy. I looked uneasily at Alice, who was seething with anger, thinking that all she needed to do was growl like a dog, ready to attack. So I grabbed her hand and pulled her towards me.

"Positive emotions, remember," I whispered. "Don't be provoked, don't give him the satisfaction."

She was furious that I was right and had to correct her. Of course, her younger sister's pride wouldn't let her take it easy. But she took a few deep breaths and began to calm down.

"I guess we got a little unlucky this year," Hamada commented on his presence. "Oh, and Alice, my friend, started dating a boy from our school. Could you give your opinion?"

My sister gave me a meaningful look, and I sighed heavily. I knew she was going to drag me into it, but at least she was about to do the interview on her own first. I just hoped that Konya would give up provoking anyone or trying to get close to me, even though our recent interactions have been quite nice.

During the first break, I pulled my sister aside and asked for a favour. She was supposed to tell me using her skill when Hamada met her significant other. If it had been the day we met, I could have hoped for more then, right?

"Even if," Alice replied. "She was able to meet many other people on the same day."

"Alice..." I asked again, trying to put on a cute puppy face that usually looked comical in my performance.

"Let's suppose it was you, no guarantee it was that day, you might as well have passed each other somewhere as kids and waved to each other, that would count as the first meeting," she replied, still not convinced by my idea. I wondered why he was so sceptical about it.

"Sis, please don't take away my hope," I tried again.

She sighed heavily and asked for the date. I have often recalled that day when I met the most beautiful girl in the world, in my opinion. Alice confirmed, everything was correct, I felt a surge of happiness and a sudden urge to act. I was wondering where I could invite her, I was already looking for her to use my courage while I had it.

Searching the classroom with my eyes, I only found Konya watching me, which was strange. His gaze made me feel guilty about wanting to invite Hamada somewhere. I narrowed my eyes furiously, was he using his ability on me in some way? I had no idea what it was, but maybe it was meant to evoke undue guilt.

I had to admit that the next hours bored me, so to wake up a bit, I decided to look at my class through my skill. I closed my eyes and concentrated for a moment, when I opened them again there were coloured lines in front of me. Firstly I looked at Hamada and chose what she had in common with Daisuke, a little over sixty percent, but a line of soft blue. My early conclusions assumed that shades of blue should be associated with something that would end in friendship rather than a real relationship.

Hamada and Konya, only twelve percent and fierce purple colour. I hadn't seen this before but decided to make a note of it at home. That's how I kept a notebook of observations, just in case, although I wasn't much happier for using skills. Alice pestered me about it, wanting me to be more accurate in my assessments.

Terada was sitting nearby, she was generally a nice girl, but easily annoyed when she was interrupted from reading books, and then things could start to get nasty. The lines from her only led to girls. Alice's answer echoed in my head when I asked her, "You can only see potentially romantic relationships."

Then I realized that's why I was seeing almost double the number of lines in Konya's case because he was indifferent to gender. I looked at each of the seventeen possibilities, I had to exclude Konya, me and Alice from our class of twenty. One of the lines even ran to Terada, but the colour faded halfway through, which I understood as possibly a one-sided feeling.

What was worrying, however, was that not one of them showed more than thirty percent, nor did it turn a reddish colour, not even a pale pink. It made me simply sad that even within the class I would not have a chance to establish a deeper relationship. I didn't envy him, and I wouldn't be surprised if he felt lonely.

I had to stop my thoughts and somehow get through the day. Hamada surprised me by stopping everyone and offering to go out for karaoke as part of integration in the new line-up. I had to think of something fast to avoid it. Taking advantage of the enthusiasm of the others, I quickly skipped to the blackboard and wrote down my name as the person responsible for cleaning.

Alice complained that Daisuke and I didn't want to take her there, so of course, she agreed. This traitor friend of mine agreed to go for her sake as part of his plan to win her heart. He hated karaoke as much as I did.

"What about you? " Hamada asked me in a sad voice.

"Unfortunately, duty calls." I showed the board and shrugged. "Maybe next time."

"I'm counting on it," she replied with a smile, but I was more glad that I had avoided this dubious entertainment than her gesture.

It took a while for everyone interested to gather and finally left. Only then did I breathe a sigh of relief and rolled up my sleeves, wondering where to start to finish everything as soon as possible. However, I missed one detail in the form of one person who stayed.

"I'll help you," Konya announced.

"Give me the price first," I said, already learning his penchant for thank-you gifts.

"Only going home together." An innocent smile crossed his lips.

But I felt strangely happy that he stayed, but also terrified that my heart was beating a little faster when it definitely shouldn't have been. I tried to force myself to think about anything else, Hamada, the girl of my dreams, but my eyesight and brain registered only Konya loosening his tie a bit and undoing the button on his collar.