Chapter 12:

Fake it till you make it

Mismatch Romance


Prez: Have big plans for club today. Do not touch anything or do anything until I arrive.

“What do you think this text means?” Tanaka asks.

“Something annoying I bet.” I sighed.

“Hohohohohohoho. Sorry for the wait everyone.” She places a gray circular object, with googly eyes on the table.

“Everyone meet Ai the AI,” she said.

“Oooh, it’s a robot!” Tanaka shouts.

“Artificial intelligence to be exact. My uncle is researching about love, so I decided to assist him. And what better place to learn about love than in a high school.”

“I can name so many reasons why a high school is not the best option,” said Dachi.

“Anyways, I figure it’s best to try out Ai in our club.”

“But, this is just bad experimental design. First, you want a large sample size. Second, the population consists of hormonal teenagers. Lastly, none of us are dating,” said Dachi.

“That’s where you’re wrong, Yamazaki. I want to see if Ai can decipher between real and fake love. For that, I plan to hold a competition for the most romantic couple. In the end, Ai should be able to detect that the romance shared was fake. Interested?”

“Of course not,” Dachi and I said.

“I am!” Shouts Tanaka.

Really, but why? I get it. She probably wants to use this competition as a marker to see how far we come. Well since it is established that we all have no interest in each other, I guess it will be fine to participate.

“I changed my mind, I’ll participate too.”

“Yay, Kazuma-kun!”

“Then, I’ll join too. I love a good competition.”

“Et tu, Senpai. I guess I’ll join as well,” Dachi said.

“Wonderful. Saori and Ito you will be one couple. Yamazaki and Tanaka will be another. Any complaints?”

This is not what I was expecting. But I can’t oppose it, otherwise, it’ll seem like I have a crush on Tanaka. Worse, it’ll be insulting to Saori-senpai as well. The objective of operation L&D is to use what we have been learning on others, so this should be fine.

Let’s begin with round one, compliments. Every relationship begins with a compliment.”

Compliments, again.

“Alright Team Dari you’re up.”

“Dari?”

“Midori loves shipping,” Saori said.

“I’ll start.” Dachi turns towards Tanaka. “Your laughter is sweet like honey. When you drink your tea, I can’t stop thinking about you and me. You are amazing like frosting as you’re the best part of my day.”

What? He can’t be serious.

Saori begins to snicker, “What kind of compliments are those, haha.”

“My turn,” said Tanaka. “I love how caring and thoughtful you can be. How you are always there when I'm in need. You mean so much to me!”

Acting, this is all acting. There’s no way she really thinks of him like that, right?

“Alright Team Kaori you’re up.”

Saori-senpai clears her throat, “Ah Kazuma, I think you’re nice, helpful, and very cool. Your turn.”

“Thanks. You are also very nice, kind, and, um, motherly.”

“Bzzzzt,” said Prez.

“Ito that compliment was horrible. Here, allow me to give you a proper example. Saori you are the moon who lights beams on my darkest night. Your essence gives me strength. My stunning Aphrodite. See, something like that would suffice, instead of just saying nice.”

Hello, dejavú.

“Time for round two. You will be dancing the tango. Is everybody ready?”

We all took our positions.

“Then, tango.”

Romantic guitar music fills the air.

So far everything is going well with Saori and me. Turn here, dip there. We might have a chance of winning this round.

Ouch. Her nails are digging in deeper this time.

“Saori-senpai,” I whispered. “Your nails.”

“Sorry,” she said. “I guess I got a bit distracted looking over at those two. They seem to be doing well.”

She’s right. Her graceful turns, that magnificent dip, they look perfect.

“Ow Kazuma my foot.”

“Sorry.”

After a while, we just stopped dancing. It was too hard to ignore their hypnotizing dance.

“Time!” Prez calls out. “This round goes to team Daika.”

“Daika?” I said.

“Yeah, she likes to switch ship names often.”

Prez walks over to us. “Let me give you two some advice. Comparison is the thief of joy. Or in this case your Achilles heel. Remember, this is a competition to see who’s the most romantic, not the most jealous.”

Jealous!

“I’m definitely not jealous. I just hate losing,” Saori says.

“Yeah, same here.”

“Well, if I were you two, I would restrategize.”

Saori sighs, “Midori has a point. If we don’t restrategize they’ll win.”

“Hey, do you think they might actually like each other?”

Saori pauses. “Of course not! By winning we’re going to prove that those two are not a match! After all, don't you think Rika deserves a partner that’s much better than Dachi? I’ll make sure they won’t win.”

“Yeah, I agree.”

“We just need a plan.”

The two of us begin to think. Then suddenly it hits.

“Why don’t we try Tanaka’s study technique?” I said.

“Hmm?”

“The visualization method she used when studying for the exams. Remember when learning about cells she compared it to a school. Maybe instead of focusing on each other, we should picture our true romantic interest instead.”

“Ah, that might work.”

Prez places two milkshakes on the table.

“For this round, you will be sharing the same milkshake with your partner. Whoever finishes first wins.”

We all took our positions.

“Ready, set, go!” Shouts Prez.

Alright time to visualize, but who should I picture? I’ll just go with Tanaka. By now I’m used to doing romantic things like this with her. With Tanaka in mind, I noticed I started to drink quickly.

“Time!” Shouts Prez. “In a shocking turn of events, this round goes to Team Sazuma!”

“Yes!” We cheered.

“Time for the final round, it’s worth triple points.”

Seriously.

“The final round is couple photos. While I’m taking pictures of one group the other team must turn around,” said Prez.

What poses should we do? I guess I could do one where I grab her close. But I don’t really feel comfortable doing that, even with Tanaka in mind.

“Team Richi you’re up,” said Prez. “Excellent poses you two. Team Kasa your turn.”

“Hey Kazuma, I think what makes a cute couple photo isn’t when the couple is grabbing each other, but when they’re having fun. So for our photo, let's have fun.”

Saori-senapi, you must be a mind reader.

“Sounds good," I said.

We got into position. Once Prez shouted cheese, we put peace signs up in the air.

“Unbelievable,” Prez said as she kept swiping through her phone. “You all made the same poses.”

We all crowd behind her. It’s true, the photos were nearly identical.

“Wow, these photos came out so good! Hey Midori, can we just take some more group photos?”

“On one condition. I join too.”

The rest of the afternoon was filled with all of us taking pictures of each other.

“So Midori who won.”

“Ah yes, the winner is…”

“Wait a minute” Dachi calls out. “This Ai the AI is just a Room-Cha, isn’t it!”

“A Room-Cha?" Tanaka asks.

“Yeah, a Room-Cha. It’s the best cleaning robot you can buy.”

“MIDORI.”

“Hehehehe. Looks like I’ve been found out. You see my uncle's research is true, but at the moment they’re still in the literature review phase. So I decided to do my own research.”

“This competition was fake!” We shouted.

“Well look at the time. Bye.” And with that, she vanished in a cloud of smoke.

“She disappeared?" Dachi asked.

"Wow, she's getting good at that," said Saori.

At the school gate, Tanaka and I were the last ones waiting for our rides.

“Um, Kazuma-kun, what do you think of Saori?”

“Huh?”

“She’s amazing, isn’t she? So mature, and sweet. You guys seem to suit each other well.”

“What no. I’m not interested in her at all. To get through the competition I was using your study technique.”

“What?”

“Well, I mentioned to Saori that we should just pretend we’re seeing the person we really like. I chose you since I’m used to doing romantic things with you. But, if you like Dachi then I-.”

"Eh! I’m not interested in Dachi at all. Funny enough, I suggested the same thing to him.” She turns away, “I imagined you too."

“Well, great minds think alike.”

“Ah, here you go Kazuma.” Tanaka pulls out her phone. "I just sent you a photo of the two of us from earlier."

“I can’t believe we spent the whole afternoon doing some fake competition.”

“Yeah, but it wasn’t a complete loss. We have this cute photo of us after all. Ah, that's my ride. See you tomorrow Kazuma-kun.”

“See you tomorrow, Ri- ah Tanaka.”

minatika
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