Chapter 6:

"The Crash-Into Hello"


We now return to the perspective of SAITO “FUUMI” FUMI who serves as BUCHOU of the HISTORICAL RESEARCH CLUB and feels self-conscious about how she WEARS SOCKS TO BED with only TWO DAYS UNTIL THE CULTURE FESTIVAL.


I retrieve my boxed lunch from my bag and skip out of my classroom, whistling a merry tune, because lunch is when I get to meet up with Mizushima, who still sucks but has the dubious honor of being my only friend outside of my little sister Michi. Making friends is hard - you gotta piece together all these words and create the impression you’re someone “normal” or at least “tolerable” and sometimes I have difficulty with that.

But as I bound up the stairs, the spring in my step slowly disappears when the reality of the situation dawns on me. I can’t just go and eat lunch with Mizushima yet. To save the Historical Research Club, I need to speak with Mizutami Sumiko, our ghost member and ace in the hole. Since Mizutami Sumiko is scary, I’ll talk to her brother Kouji.

There’s only one issue with that - Mizutami Kouji is the hottest man I’ve ever laid lies upon.

We first met this year when we got assigned to the same homeroom. I said, “Hey,” and he said, “Good morning,” and the rest was history. Sure, I like the way he walks, the way he talks, the way he cooks in home ec, the way he shoots basketballs in gym, the way he fills out his uniform, the way his hair is cut short, the way the nape of his neck disappears below his shirt, but I’m not shallow. There’s more to him than just looks. Kouji’s role as a frontline member of the Hantei is incredibly admirable; the way he puts himself at risk to protect our fair city makes me swoon.

Swoon! He’s the type of guy to make me use words like that.

My plan is simple. Talking to him inside our classroom during lunch would immediately create the (truthful) accusation that I’m madly in love with him. Instead - I know by watching him thoroughly that he likes to grab a cola from the North Wing vending machine because it’s an old machine, a rare one that doesn’t change its price based on the temperature. On his way back, he has to pass down a quiet hallway; I’ll secretly stand at a bend, and right as he approaches, I’ll step out real casual like and ‘accidentally’ bump into him.

I’ll ask about his sister, I’ll make small talk, and if I’m lucky, he might even ravish me on the floor right then and there. This makes tee-hee up the stairs as I approach my hiding spot; I tee-hee and blush so hard that I fail to realize somebody is already hiding behind the bend until I walk into them.

“S-sorry!” I say, bowing. Based on the indoor shoes, the person I bumped into is the same year as me, but I don’t recognize her. She wears the green armband of Hantei that identifies her as a member of the Student Disciplinary Committee. Her brown hair is cut short in a bob like my own and she stands slightly taller than (which is to say, not all that tall).

“Ah, Saito Fumi,” she realizes.

“Um…sorry, have we met before? I-I don’t recall…”

“I’m Rina Nobuko, Under-Secretary of Student Council Intelligence,” she introduces herself, her voice sounding like an easy breeze in early summer. “Knowing people is the name of the game for me, especially club presidents.”

Nobuko sees the look on my face. “Ah, but don’t worry! Your file’s pretty thin. Decent grades and lack of social life usually results in that, so you’re right as rain in my book!”

I can’t refute anything she says, so I mumble out, “...thanks?”

Nobuko glances at the hiding spot behind the bend. “Ah, were you waiting to ambush somebody? I was thinking the same thing. I’m here to ambush Mizutami Kouji.”

This diabolical bitch.

I keep a neutral expression, but deep down, I’m burning with a righteous fury. Rina Nobuko may be prettier than me and has a role that would enable her to speak regularly with Kouji and she seems pretty good at talking and man, it’s hopeless, isn’t it? I can’t compete with this love rival.

“Kouji’s fun to startle, so I was just gonna spook him out of his shoes,” Nobuko says. “But you look like you’re here to ambush somebody for a deeper reason - for love! How noble. Into the file it goes.”

I deflate from how easily I can be read. Nobuko puts a firm hand on my shoulder. “Stand up straight, Fuumi, you’re falling all over yourself. And take pride in yourself, too! Whoever this boy may be, if he doesn’t want to be with you, then that’s his loss! According to my calculations, the boys consider you to be the 71,783rd most attractive female student on the island out of 145,000.”

That’s the upper half! Holy shit!

I can’t hide my grin while I try to wave it away. “Ehehe…oh, it’s nothing.”

“Good luck, Saito Fumi!” Nobuko says in farewell as she departs.

She’s a pretty nice person, all things considered.

I take up my spot on the wall and hum a tiny little happy tune before realizing it would give me position away. Since the hallway is near the outskirts of the school, it’s seldom-used, creating that rare sense of silence in an industrial, self-contained city like Shikishima. A hole in the noise. My mind starts to wander; my stomach rumbles. No rice today - my lunch is spaghetti. My parents don’t really like the rice that makes it to Shikishima - ever since the war with Japan, we can’t import the Honshu rice of their youth anymore, instead relying on rice from our Hokkaido colonies or even the State of China-

There’s a flash of black uniform as Kouji walks right into my ambush. Damn my tendency to ponder and think! With no time to lose, I step out from the bend and land a clean bump against his side. As expected, Kouji’s a big dude, and the impact bounces me backwards a little. Perfect! A nice little bump that will give me a lasting impression of his touch while not making things awkward between us.

“Ehehe…sorry, Kouji-”

I pause. The person before me isn’t Kouji. It’s Turner the American. Since they’re the same size, I mistook him for my love during my split-second moment of action.

“Uh…sorry, Turner.”

Turner’s also in my homeroom. He has this perpetually exhausted expression on his face, a distant look in his eyes as if he’s still searching for something he’s long given up hope on actually finding. I would like to give him a gift to remind him of his homeland - were they allowed in Shikishima, I’d buy him a gun to soothe his nerves. Seeing people sad isn’t fun.

“Sorry, Fuumi,” Turner mumbles. He walks away, carrying his lonesome vigil.

Poor guy. 

In any case, back to love-

“Awww, look at it,” a taunting voice calls out to me. I frown, recognizing the insidious person it belongs to.

And side-note - this is supposed to be a seldom-used hallway!

Steward McOy