Chapter 6:

The Calm Before the Storm

[ON HIATUS] Beyond the Horizon, Farther Than the Eye can See

If I were to describe my current life, I would say it’s…perfectly normal right now. Bookmark here

It’s what you would expect from your totally average high-school student. Waking up, walking to school, meeting friends, waiting for classes to end, walking back from school, studying at home for the next day and looking forward to any vacation and day-off to come. Bookmark here

But you know what? I like this routine. They say you get tired of something if you’re used to living with it for a really long time. Certainly, it’s not wrong, but that’s not the case for me. Not anymore. Because I’ve found the place I know I belong to.Bookmark here

[But I wouldn’t mind if something different were to happen.]Bookmark here

*Bookmark here

I suddenly feel something on my shoulder.Bookmark here

‘’Heya, Eru!’’Bookmark here

Oh, it’s just Yukino’s hand. Bookmark here

‘’Daydreaming first thing in the morning? And not to mention, in front of the school gate, that’s quite the sight!’’ Bookmark here

Is that supposed to be her daily dose of sass or something? Bookmark here

‘’You sure haven’t changed at all!’’Bookmark here

Your attitude is what hasn’t changed at all. Bookmark here

‘’But you know-’’ I say with an overjoyed face ‘’-this is my life right now! A normal one! It’s all I ever wanted! This is what I love! I love this school!’’Bookmark here

Yukino seems astonished when she heard what I said. Bookmark here

She pats my head wearing that angelic smile of hers saying, ‘’That was to be expected of you! It's great your wish was fulfilled, isn't it?’’ Bookmark here

She takes a few steps forward and then turns around to look at me, her long, black hair swaying harmonically in the air. Bookmark here

‘’That’s what I like about you! I hope you stay like that forever!’’Bookmark here

I instantly feel my heartbeat accelerating to an absurd speed, unable to say a word in response. Thank goodness she was heading to the main building in a hurry and didn’t look back, otherwise it would have been too awkward for me!Bookmark here

How many months has it been by now? They went by so fast I remember my first day like it was yesterday. Looking back at it only makes me feel all the more nostalgic. I got the chance to be in this school for so long because I strived my way here. Bookmark here

Walking in the endless hallways reminds me of the very first time I entered this building. Yukino was holding me by the hand and we were running fast like the wind. Bookmark here

I eventually reach my classroom. B-1, huh? So many memories are inside this one room.
[These memories will always make me happy.]Bookmark here

I open the classroom’s door saying ‘’Goooooood morning!’’ as loud as possible. Utter silence prevails. Just my voice echoing and nothing else. The front row desks are also missing.Bookmark here

What’s going on? Bookmark here

‘’Karasuma Eru, happy birthday!’’ is what I get in response by literally everyone in the class. Bookmark here

They popped up like jacks-in-the-box. I should have known they were onto something. Bookmark here

Nothing can describe the amount of happiness I’m being overwhelmed with right now. Bookmark here

‘’You guys…you remembered…even though I mentioned it, like, only once… Thank you so much!’’ Bookmark here

Something’s off. Someone’s missing. Bookmark here

I hear the door opening. It can only be one person, the only one I can think of.Bookmark here

‘’There you are! We thought you would never come!’’Bookmark here

Honoka-chan’s worries seem way too over the top sometimes. That’s what actually makes her lovable. She always puts others over herself.Bookmark here

Yukino is holding a cake with a lit candle on it. I’m pretty sure she wants me to blow it.Bookmark here

‘’Haven’t I told you not to worry about me, Honoka? I’m always fine!’’Bookmark here

‘’But also tardy.’’ points out Yuu-kun.Bookmark here

‘’What was that?!’’Bookmark here

‘’Oh, am I in the wrong?’’Bookmark here

As if this question wasn’t already rhetorical enough.Bookmark here

‘’...HOW DO I ANSWER, ERU?’’Bookmark here

‘’Probably…d-don’t?’’Bookmark here

That’s it, it’s game over for her…Bookmark here

Yuu-kun is always sharp-tongued. He rarely makes jokes since he’s generally a serious person, but he never hesitates to speak his mind, be it a joke or not. Bookmark here

And this time, he managed to hit Yukino where it hurts.Bookmark here

‘’Are you sure about this? Giving such a delicious cake to me?’’Bookmark here

‘’I’m eating it then.’’ answers Yukino provocatively.Bookmark here

‘’I never said you could!’’Bookmark here

Of course, our little ‘’act’’ made everyone crack up. We’re an unrivaled comedy duo after all!Bookmark here

‘’Now, Eru, make a wish!’’Bookmark here

‘’Here I go then!’’ Bookmark here

I take a really deep breath and blow the candle. Bookmark here

After that, everyone starts clapping saying ’Happy birthday!’ as loud and cheerfully as possible. Bookmark here

‘’Thank you guys! It really means a lot to me that you remembered!’’Bookmark here

‘’Don’t you dare get all emotional on us again.’’Bookmark here

‘’In your dreams!’’Bookmark here

That comment was really unnecessary, but unfortunately for me, it’s true. Last time they were all here to welcome me, I couldn’t stop crying. Bookmark here

‘’If you don’t mind me asking, who bought the cake?’’Bookmark here

‘’We all paid for it, but Yukino was the one who came up with the idea. I helped her pick it.’’Bookmark here

Doesn’t really come as a surprise. Honoka’s parents own a bakery after all. Bookmark here

But what’s interesting right now is...Bookmark here

‘’Wha-What is it with that smug look, Eru?’’Bookmark here

‘’So it was YOUR idea, no?’’Bookmark here

‘’W-Well, y-yeah…’’Bookmark here

‘’Is that so~?’’Bookmark here

I throw myself at her and hug her as firmly as I can so that she wouldn’t let go. It was the only thing I could think of to show my gratitude to her, and I think she knows that better than anyone else in this class. Bookmark here

Of course, she’s not the only one I should be thanking, but she IS the one I’ve been relying on this entire time.Bookmark here

After some seconds of complete silence, I hear some unexpected stuttering echoing the quiet class.Bookmark here

‘’Gagagagagagagagagagaga-!’’Bookmark here

Everyone’s gaze is on us, and specifically, on Yukino, who is red to the ears. I instantly let go.Bookmark here

‘’Yu-Yukino, what-?’’Bookmark here

There she goes again…to the infamous melancholic side of the class. The corner where sunlight is unheard of. Bookmark here

‘’I will never get married I will never get married I will never get married I will never get married!’’Bookmark here

That’s her shy side, what she’s actually like. She can only get comfortable around people who understand her embarrassment. This is what she shows to everyone she doesn’t know. Bookmark here

I was the only exception. When we first met, she tried to look as normal-ish as possible; a cheerful high-school girl who doesn’t let go of her happiness. Needless to say that it worked like a charm…at first.Bookmark here

‘’Um, Yukino-chan…’’Bookmark here

Yukino turns her head around slowly as she hears Honoka calling at her. Bookmark here

‘’What is it?’’ Yukino murmurs in a trembling voice.Bookmark here

She is still red like a tomato. One single squish and it could explode. But it’s actually too cute to just ignore or unsee. Bookmark here

‘’M-Moe~ Moe~ Moe~’’ go the fanboys and fangirls. Bookmark here

I shouldn’t omit the fact that someone like Yukino couldn’t not have a supportive fanbase. She’s like the princess of the class, if you can call it that.Bookmark here

Much to her embarrassment, she returns to her original position. Crouched, looking at the pitch-black parts of the room. Bookmark here

‘’She’s helpless…’’ I sigh. ‘’Shall we eat the cake then?’’Bookmark here

‘’Here’s your slice, Eru-chan!’’Bookmark here

‘’Aah, thank yo- Wait, I didn’t turn my back even for a second! How did you do that!? No, WHEN did you do that!?’’Bookmark here

‘’A magician never reveals their tricks!’’Bookmark here

You work in a bakery though…Bookmark here

I take a bite off my slice. Bookmark here

‘’This is friggin’ delice! Whatcha put in this!?’’ Bookmark here

‘’Your accent’s showing again.’'Bookmark here

It's as Oreki-san said, my accent tends to change when something excites me. Pathetic, but true.Bookmark here

‘’Here’s Yukino-chan’s too.’’ says Honoka as she hands me over Yukino’s slice.Bookmark here

‘’Oh, thank you.’’Bookmark here

I approach the melancholic side of the class and crouch just behind Yukino. Bookmark here

‘’Yukino~, turn around~!’’ Bookmark here

She turns around, just according to plan!Bookmark here

My finger is touching her cheek. Bookmark here

‘’You fell for it!’’ I giggle while flashing a huge smile at her. Bookmark here

Yukino can’t help but also giggle at my childish side. Bookmark here

‘’Want a bite?’’Bookmark here

Yukino nods in agreement. She seems really happy all of a sudden. Such an open book…Bookmark here

‘’Say ‘Ah!’ then.’’Bookmark here

Her face when she eats something she can’t get enough of is out of this world. Seeing such a smile makes you believe there’s nothing more fulfilling in existence.Bookmark here

‘’It’s not like me to admit such things, but this friendship is just beautiful. I’m jealous of how much they understand each other.’’Bookmark here

‘’What would Akiya have done without Karasuma though?’’ Bookmark here

I think I heard Oreki-san and Mirai-san say these. Bookmark here

They are right. How would have things ended up if either of us weren’t here at all? Bookmark here

‘’She wouldn’t have probably gotten out of her shell if it weren’t for Eru.’’ Bookmark here

‘’Can’t prove you wrong there, Mirai!’’ replies Yukino confidently.Bookmark here

‘’Thought so!’’ Bookmark here

Despite being the ‘’thug’’ of the class, Mirai’s cute side is something worth pointing out.Bookmark here

‘’Karasuma would get by somehow though, but-‘’Bookmark here

‘’But it wouldn’t have been the same as now. I’ve been transferring schools my entire life, so ending up a loner was a possibility. I was reserved even on the first day. Watching how Yukino was trying to change though made me want to do the same!’’ Bookmark here

[I wish things could stay like this forever.] Bookmark here

Me, Yukino, Mirai-san, Honoka-chan, Oreki-san, Yuu-kun, and everyone in this class to be together for as long as possible. Bookmark here

’’That’s not the case now, is it!? I’m more than happy with how awesome you guys are! I’ve finally found the place I belong to! And no matter what happens, I’m not transferring again! I won’t leave this class!’’Bookmark here

I was ranting on and on while everyone kept silent for some reason. Bookmark here

‘’[Nothing’s going to change right now!]’’Bookmark here

*Bookmark here

This single sentence was the biggest mistake of my life. Bookmark here

Because on that particular day, a certain rumor reached everyone’s lips, even at my school. Bookmark here

[And we were bound to become a huge part of it.] Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.