Chapter 20:


Will The Stars Remember My Name?

The homeroom teacher assigned Hinata the seat in front of Ryouta. She smiled politely and walked to her seat. Ryouta looked at her warily wondering how she would behave with others. She sat down slowly, without even glancing towards him. When the teacher left, Futaba was the first one to approach her along with a group of her friends. Bookmark here

"Hi Hinata! My name's Futaba Sakamoto. I hope we can be friends!"Bookmark here

She smiled politely and said, "Of course, Miss Sakamoto. I would love for us to be friends."Bookmark here

One of the girls said, "Wow, so polite..."Bookmark here

Futaba chuckled and said, "Now, now, if we're gonna be friends, you should call me Futaba or simply Fu-chan if you wish."Bookmark here

"Then so be it. I hope you don't mind me calling you Futaba."Bookmark here

"Of course."Bookmark here

The rest of the girls introduced themselves to her and soon the math teacher walked in. The girls rushed back to her seats but before going, Futaba looked at Ryouta and mouthed the words, "Don't hesitate to talk to her."Bookmark here

Ryouta made a straight face and sneered at her. She chuckled to herself and rushed back to her seat. When Ryouta looked back in front, he noticed Hinata peeking at him. She turned away as soon as he saw her Bookmark here

During the class, Hinata managed to pass a note to Ryouta when nobody was looking. Bookmark here

'Your girlfriend?'Bookmark here

Ryouta scribbled something on the back of the note and handed it back to her.Bookmark here

'No. She is Ryuuji's girlfriend. Also, passing notes during class is bad.'Bookmark here

'-_- you're no fun. What happened to the old Ryouta?'Bookmark here

Ryouta hesitated when he read the note. Bookmark here

'He's gone forever.'Bookmark here

'And it seems like Ryuuji's taken his place instead. That's why he scored the girl, not you.'Bookmark here

'But it seems like you haven't changed. You're still hiding your true self behind that polite mask.'Bookmark here

Hinata glanced behind as she read Ryouta's message. Bookmark here

"Ahem..." Bookmark here

The teacher cleared his throat while looking at them. Hinata turned her gaze back to the books. The teacher continued explaining the formula to the students but Ryouta, unable to focus, found himself lost in memories.Bookmark here

———————Bookmark here

“Ni-chan! Ni-chan!” cried out a young boy. Bookmark here

8 year old Ryuuji struggled to catch upto his big brother who ran ahead. He panted, out of breath, his small legs unable to keep up with the long ones of Ryouta. His hair was black and a small tuft of blond was blooming at the top of his head. His eyes were round and innocent and his voice weaker than most kids his age. Kid Ryuuji was a meek, introverted and soft-hearted child. He had a few friends because most boys of his age were rowdy, loud and well… filthy. Bookmark here

Ryuuji was not like that at all. He was scared of the other boys, afraid that they would pick on him. His eyes would always look down as he walked in his school. Bookmark here

Though he wasn't popular with kids his age, he was loved by the adults. He was a well-groomed child who liked to be neat, clean and tidy. He loved dressing up for an occasion and was very well-behaved which had earned him the appreciation of the adults around him. Bookmark here

“Wait for me!”Bookmark here

Ryouta turned around and looked at his kid brother panting heavily, as if he was almost about to faint. He slowed down a bit and threw his hand out towards him. Bookmark here

"C'mon Ryu! Better catch up or else we'll leave you behind and see the fireworks ourselves."Bookmark here

Ryuuji somehow managed to grab his brother's hand. Ryouta quickly flung him on his back.Bookmark here

"Grab on Ryu, I'm gonna run really reaaaaally fast."Bookmark here

The other boys ahead of the brothers looked back to see Ryouta with Ryuuji on his back. Bookmark here

One of them challenged, "Giving yourself a handicap huh? Don't get ahead of yourself idiot."Bookmark here

Ryouta grinned wildly and shouted back, "Whoever gets first gets an extra takoyaki and whoever is last will have to give his to the winner!"Bookmark here

Another boy looked back and said, "You sure?"Bookmark here

"I'm sure. Oh, and by the way, if me and Ryu get first, the loser loses both his takoyaki to us."Bookmark here

"You still think that-"Bookmark here

Ryouta had already slipped past him when he turned to speak. Bookmark here

"Ni-chan, slow down! I'll fall."Bookmark here

"Just hold tight Ryuuji." He grabbed the small hands of his brother that were wrapped around his neck. "I won't let you go this easy."Bookmark here

———————Bookmark here

Ryouta lay on the ground panting. His legs hurt like hell after running with Ryuuji on his back. Bookmark here

"Damn it! We just missed it. I was so close!"Bookmark here

"I'm sorry ni-chan, because of me you los-"Bookmark here

Ryouta interrupted, "Huh? What're talking about? I couldn't have run this fast if I didn't have you along Ryu. Be more confident in yourself kiddo!"Bookmark here

He grinned at his brother who looked up in wonder. 9 year old Ryouta had short spiky hair, barely a nail's length. He had a wide toothy smile and a strong physical body. Bookmark here

Ryouta was the complete opposite of Ryuuji. A troublesome, naughty boy who always kept getting into fights, Ryouta was the insensitive brat of the house. Yet, because of his outgoing nature, he made friends as quickly as he fought with them. A daring boy who couldn't ever reject a challenge or a bet, he would often wind up in the principal's office being scolded. The reprimands didn't really have any effect on him. The next day, he would be found playing a prank on his classmate. Bookmark here

He was street smart and funny, and managed to garner some appreciation from the adults but not as much as his little brother. They were often compared to each other but both of them didn't mind. Their relationship was stronger than to be hurt by mere words of adults who, in Ryouta's eyes, were the enemies. Bookmark here

Of course, things were much different now... Bookmark here

Ryouta sighed softly as the period ended and the girls came back to pester Hinata with more questions.Bookmark here

He quietly took out the books for the next period and listened to the girls talk. Suddenly, Hinata asked one of the girls, "Hey, the guy who sits behind me, what kind of a person is he?"Bookmark here

Ryouta didn't look their way and pretended not to hear. Bookmark here

One of the girls nervously replied in a low voice, "Well... Uhm- I- We don't really know. I mean, uh, he's Futaba's and Haruto's friend so he's a good guy, maybe? We haven't really talked to him much..."Bookmark here

She looked at him, hoping he wouldn't get angry or something. Ryouta simply flipped through the pages of his book, still pretending that he wasn't hearing. Bookmark here

"Ehhhhh, is that so?"Bookmark here

"Do you know him Hinata?"Bookmark here

"Yes. He was my boyfriend."Bookmark here

The girls gasped and Ryouta was forced to turn his gaze up to face them. Bookmark here

He shook his hand and said, "She was not even in Japan for the last 5 years."Bookmark here

Hinata chuckled softly, "I'm just kidding. We used to be friends in elementary school."Bookmark here

Ryouta's left eye twitched on hearing her say friends. Bookmark here

"Oh... So that's how it is."Bookmark here

Hinata's behaviour took a 360 as she politely bowed and said in a formal tone, "I'm sorry I confused everyone with my joke. I hope we can still be friends."Bookmark here

"Whoa! So formal. Don't worry about it Hinata, of course we'll still be friends!"Bookmark here

"I'm glad." She said with a bright smile on her face. Bookmark here

Futaba, who was busy talking to someone else, looked towards them from afar. She saw Ryouta's uncomfortable face behind Hinata's smiling one. She frowned to herself.Bookmark here

"I have a bad feeling about this."Bookmark here

———————Bookmark here

By the end of the day Hinata had become pretty popular. She was really friendly and polite to everyone and the boys had already conferred her the Goddess of Class 2-A. Hinata didn't talk to Ryouta after the joke. They had a lot of catching up to do, but it was just her first day. Bookmark here

When the day ended Ryouta called Futaba and Ryuuji to the old clubhouse. Outside the much battered building, Ryouta was waiting for them.Bookmark here

Ryuuji exclaimed, "Whaaa! You serious? This old building!?"Bookmark here

Ryouta nodded, "Yep, this old building indeed. There wasn't free space in the new clubhouse so we'll have to make do with this. It's not that bad, y'know."Bookmark here

Futaba said, "Well, let's not judge a book by its cover. There's only one way to find out."Bookmark here

"Book nerd."Bookmark here

"Spineless philanderer."Bookmark here

"Tch"Bookmark here

"Don't tch me blondie."Bookmark here

"Blondie sounds hot."Bookmark here

"Blondie looks stupid though."Bookmark here

"Ahem..." Ryouta cleared his throat, interrupting the couple's spat. "Shall we?" He asked, showing them the way to the entrance. Bookmark here

They walked up the stairs to the third floor. They could hear students' voices from different rooms. Ryouta told them that there were still a few clubs like the Astronomy Club, the Gardening Club and the Poetry Club in the old building. Just like them, they hadn't found space in the new clubhouse and used the old one. Bookmark here

Ryouta came to a room and took out his keys. He unlocked the door and opened it. Entering the room, he said, Bookmark here

"Welcome to Odd Jobs Club."Bookmark here

"The what!?" Exclaimed Futaba and Ryuuji.Bookmark here

"Calm down. Let me explain. This is the perfect club I could come up with. Technically, we're a club that supports other clubs with any work but since we're only three people, and I doubt other people would join, there's not much we can help out with. So that way, we can be busy with our part time jobs and stuff on most days, and hang out here on our free days."Bookmark here

The clubroom had been recently cleaned out. There was a table in the centre of the room with a few chairs. There was a whiteboard on the left along with a few emptied out small table drawers. There was a small stove on the right side of the whiteboard for cooking. On the right side of the room there was a bookshelf with a few books in it. There was also a cupboard beside it with cutlery and glassware. Bookmark here

In front of the entrance, there were two large windows that faced the western hills. The view was perfect and the yellow sun's shade was slowly turning redder as it was about to set. Even though the old clubhouse was in a bit of a bad shape, it still had its perks. The new clubhouse had no view like this. In fact, the gas supply was also limited to certain clubrooms only, and could be used in the presence of club in-charge. The old clubhouse had no such restrictions.Bookmark here

Ryuuji walked in and touched the table. There wasn't a speck of dust on it.Bookmark here

"Ryouta," he asked, "During recess, were you here cleaning the room?"Bookmark here

"Oh... Yeah, I was."Bookmark here

Ryuuji didn't say anything and Futaba tried to change the topic, "Well, even if there won't be a lot of members joining us, we should still make posters and stuff for our club!"Bookmark here

"Oh, I- Um, I did that too and I already posted it in a lot of places."Bookmark here

Futaba sighed, "Ryouta Ito, you need to stop doing everything. If we're going to be in the club, we want to help out and do stuff together. Wouldn't it be more fun if we all did it together?" Bookmark here

Ryouta looked down, feeling guilty. He was used to doing all the work all by himself. He worked up courage and stuttered out, "Ah, I- I'm sorry. I didn't realise that. I- I'll try not to do that again."Bookmark here

Futaba smiled warmly at him. Bookmark here

Ryuuji clapped his hands together and said, "Well then! Who's going to be the club president and vice president? Since I am an irresponsible brat, I appoint Ryo as the president and Futaba as the VP. How does that sound?"Bookmark here

Futaba looked at him squinting her eyes. Bookmark here

"Lady, don't look at me like that. I really wanna avoid club responsibilities."Bookmark here

"Huh. I'm fine with it actually. What about you Ryo?"Bookmark here

"Club president. I'm not so sure..."Bookmark here

Ryuuji patted his shoulder, "You'll be fine, you'll be fine. Don't worry bro. Be more confident in yourself kiddo!" He said while grinning with sarcasm, throwing Ryouta's own lines back at him. Bookmark here

"Hah. You still remember that?"Bookmark here

"Of course I do 'Ni-chan'."Bookmark here

Ryouta was about to reply when they heard a knock on the door. Bookmark here

His eyebrows scrunched together as he wondered who it was. He had put up the posters just today. There was no way someone would join this early. The other clubs were also busy with their activities, maybe one of the neighbouring clubs wanted to welcome them. Seemed doubtful.Bookmark here

It couldn't be Hinata, could it? She had just joined the school. There was no way unless... She was still the same as she was back then.Bookmark here

Hesitantly, he said, "Come in."Bookmark here

The door flew open as the person in front of them opened it with a bang. Bookmark here

"Who... Are you?"Bookmark here

The girl in front of them had pink hair with twin braids. As she adjusted her glasses and frowned at them, she walked over to Ryouta. Though she was short in height, her each step towards him was intimidating. She slapped a paper towards him and said, "I'm joining this club and here's my filled out form."Bookmark here

Everyone stared at her with confusion and surprise as she pointed a finger towards Ryuuji.Bookmark here

"Ryuuji Ito! I forbid you to date Futaba Sakamoto. From this moment on, I have one goal as a member of this club-"Bookmark here

She breathed in deeply and almost shouted,Bookmark here

"I will make sure you break up with Futaba-senpai!"Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.