1The community center where Isshiki and I were set to meet was rather close to our school. It took no more than a few minutes to get there by bike.
Truthfully, I’ve yet to step foot in the community center. But since I tend to see it quite often in my everyday life, I didn’t have any problems finding it.
Immediately next to the station was the large business MARINPIA (aka: MariPin). When it became evening, the sight of many housewives from the neighborhood would stick out. And amongst them were students. Thanks to MarinPin being in the area, it was a suitable place for high school students to stop by and have fun on their way home. In the same way, I would occasionally stop by the book stores, arcades, and even the batting centers.
When I arrived at the community center, I parked my bike in the bike parking area.
I took restless glances around the area briefly, but Isshiki was nowhere to be found. Well, it’s not like we specified an exact time when to meet.
If this was going to happen, maybe we should’ve come together at the beginning…
But there was no other way except to meet off-campus to keep the fact that I was helping out Isshiki by myself from being disclosed to Yukinoshita and Yuigahama. To accept a request connected to the student council right now in front of Yukinoshita was a cruel thing to do. That being said, it would be irresponsible to outright reject Isshiki’s request. There was also the choice to exclude Yukinoshita, but that felt like a terrible betrayal. Considering how the Service Club was at the moment, choosing to take on this request as a personal favor should’ve been the best choice of action.
I reconfirmed my conclusion in my head and sat down on the forming stairs near the entrance of the community center.
I sat there in a daze and coming out from the convenience store on the other side was Isshiki. In her hands were seemingly heavy bags. Upon noticing me, she trotted up to me.
“I’m sooorry for making you wait. I had to do a little shopping…”
Isshiki let out a breath as if the convenient store bags were heavy.
“…No, that’s fine.”
As I answered her, I turned towards Isshiki and extended out my hand. When I did, for some reason, Isshiki softly avoided my hand and looked at me fixedly. She tilted her head unsure of the meaning behind what I did.
“What’s with that irritated face of yours? Wasn’t that your appeal to have me hold the bags for you because it was heavy just now?”
Hearing that, Isshiki rubbed her hair and softly averted her gaze from me. Her face was slightly blushed as if she was surprised or confused.
“Haa… Aah, no, I was just being myself there…”
Ah, that’s right, huh? In her case, she tended to see guys only as laborers so I ended up thinking that was the kind of appeal she was doing. See, it’s just like how Tobe naturally became the errand boy.
Isshiki froze up for a moment, but she suddenly poised herself with a sudden realization and took a step away from me.
“Ha! Could it be that you were making passes at me just now, I’m sorry, for an instant that made my heart skip a bit, but now that I think about it rationally, it really wouldn’t work out.”
“Aah, I see…”
Just how many times will I have to be rejected by this girl…? Even her rejection was becoming a hassle now…
Still, if that was enough to make her heart skip a beat, then she had better be careful because she wouldn’t even be able to go on trips peacefully. There’s no way your heart would skip a beat while the flight attendant onee-san on the plane carried up your luggage. It wouldn’t, right…? No, it definitely would (flight attendant correction). No, wait. It didn’t have to be a FA since a blue-collar onee-san would make your heart skip a beat too… As expected, women with physical careers were wonderful! (aspiring house husband correction).
I wholly ignored what Isshiki said and snatched the bag out of her hands.
“Ah… Thank you very much…”
Isshiki squeezed the sleeves of her cardigan and vigorously bowed her head. Thanks to that, I couldn’t get a grasp of what her expression was like, but her unexpected, polite words of gratitude made me feel embarrassed.
“…It’s fine. It’s just a part of my duties.”
If she was insistent in expressing her gratitude every time for something like this, eventually, she’d end up adopting Komachi’s habit of saying “thank you so much onii-chan, I love you”, darn it. My intention was to tell her indirectly not to make a fuss out of it, but in the next instant, I quickly regretted it.
“Waaa! Sooo reliable! If that’s how it is, then I’ll be counting on you next time ♪.”
She linked her fingers in front of her chest and suddenly made a radiant smile.
Aah, the luggage felt like it got heavier all of a sudden just now… Still, what’s in here anyway?
Since the bag was heavier than I was expecting, I found myself peeking into the bag and inside were an assortment of snacks and juices. Well, for a conference like this, it was common to have things like tea-cakes and catering.
When a conversation shriveled up, people would fill the silence temporarily by eating their snacks and drinking their tea. It resembled the situation where you made a dry “haha” laugh in the middle of a conversation and took a FRISK immediately right after. Once they did that, you couldn’t help but assume “aah, this person’s completely at a loss when talking with me…”
By the way, if someone who wasn’t even talking suddenly offered, “do you want a FRISK?”, it was a sign that he was indirectly saying “your breath smells”! Be on your guard! There’s a chance he might have an internal disease! Of all things, that’s the thing to watch out for?
Well, still, the selection of snacks was rather difficult as well. Snacks that were loud and had a strong odor could conversely be a bother. That being the case, I peeked into the bag to see what Isshiki bought.
Fumu. Light-sized chocolate snacks, fruit flavored throat candy and soft rice crackers… Yep, this wasn’t a bad selection. All of them were in their own wrappers so this earned a lot of points too. With this, you wouldn’t need to prepare plates and the sort and you could also avoid dirtying your hands. On top of that, it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle to deal with once it was time to go home.
“Hooo, you’re surprisingly considerate, aren’t you?”
I asserted, slightly impressed, and Isshiki made a vexing, swollen expression.
“What do you mean by ‘surprisingly’…? I’ll have you know I’m a very considerate person. Well, the other side also prepared some too though.”
“Oh. Do we even need this then? All the expenses will be on their side anyway. Why not just eat all of theirs instead?”
“We can’t really do that…”
When she answered, Isshiki’s expression hardened.
I see. Indeed, it looked like she really was being considerate in various ways. If the other party had prepared something, we couldn’t just come empty handed every time. It was basically something like that.
It was actually more bothersome to be this considerate in the case where we were invited as complete guests. But as long as the two sponsorships of this union regarding this event were of equal standing, then they had to at least maintain this equal relationship even if it’s something simple as bringing in snacks.
Having to work along another school was a rather troublesome issue. Since that would extend into the actual work as well, the question of how it would influence things made it feel like the bags in my hand got one level heavier than it did before.
× × ×
Invited by Isshiki, I proceeded into the community center.
At any rate, I never really visited the community center before, so what exactly was it that you did in here? Did they recover your community with the Ten Ten Terorin ♪ BGM or something, I wonder? What monster center was that?
Once we actually entered, the inside resembled a government office with the cold, peaceful atmosphere continuing on. It was an atmosphere that made you think twice about shouting out with a loud voice. The library that was on the first floor may have been the reason for that.
I followed Isshiki to the second floor and the atmosphere changed slightly. The sound of people talking and music could be heard.
The stairs continued further up. There was music coming from the third floor.
“What could they be doing, I wonder?” As I thought this, I looked up the stairs and so did Isshiki.
“There’s a big hall on the third floor. It looks like they’ll be holding the Christmas event up there.”
It looked like there was dance of the sort or a club in the middle of their activities up there evident by the tremors coming from the third floor.
Fumu… Basically, this was the same thing as those government community centers. It was an establishment where the locals would gather for various activities and events. So, how was this any different from government community centers? The scale?
I wasn’t too familiar with the establishment so I restlessly looked around. Isshiki who advanced further ahead was stopped in front of the door to a particular room.
Above the door was written “Training Room”. It looked like they rented out this room to hold the conference.
Isshiki knocked on the door.
“Yes, please come in.”
When a voice called out from inside, Isshiki took a small breath and then placed her hands on the door.
Upon the opening of the door, a clamor of voices poured out the room. The presence of desks and chairs made the room feel like a classroom at school.
“Thank you for your hard work.”
Isshiki gave her bubbly-like greetings as she went into the room first. Even after I followed her in, there weren’t any signs of the chatter dying down. On top of that, not a single person directed their gazes at me. Everyone was seemingly engrossed in their own conversations that they had no particular interest in me.
But it looked like Isshiki was properly recognized as a voice coming from the group called out to her. On closer inspection, the one who called out to her with a raised hand was a boy wearing the Kaihin Sogo High uniform.
“Iroha-chan, over here.”
“Aah, gooood evening.”
Isshiki waved her hands while she headed towards that group. I naturally followed right after her. When I did, now that I was in front of him, the boy that called out to Isshiki looked at me with a puzzled expression. He then quietly whispered into Isshiki’s ears.
“Aah, one of our helping workers!”
That’s one crude explanation for how big your grin was, wasn’t it, Isshiki? But even with that kind of introduction, the boy let out an impressed “ooh” and turned towards me.
“I’m Tamanawa. I’m Kaihin Sogo’s student council president. Nice to meet you!”
“…Ah, nice to meet you.”
Suddenly given an erratic, prompt introduction, I dillydallied over whether I should give my name as well to which Tamanawa didn’t seem to mind as he continued on.
“I’m really glad we could plan together with Sobu High. I was thinking about how we need to form a PARTNERSHIP that’ll bring about a SYNERGY effect where we both can RESPECT each other, you see.”
…Don’t start off with such a good punch, maaan. Half of what he said went through one ear out the other, but it looked like Tamanawa was the one who organized this Christmas event conference. I realized it from select words he was saying.
Because of Tamanawa’s position as the student council president of Kaihin Sogo High, just talking to him caused the people nearby to shuffle into the conversation. In that time, people introduced themselves, but, frankly speaking, I couldn’t remember all of them. Well, once this event was over, we’d never meet again, so it wasn’t necessary to commit any of them to memory.
Just having to face so many people was pretty tiring. I reflexively breathed out a sigh. I left the rest to Isshiki, sat in a seat further away and watched Isshiki and the others.
When I did, my eyes met with the eyes of an individual who had a perplexed face in the mob of people. The person blinked in surprise after seeing me. And then that person stood up and came my way.
When my name was called by a surprising person, I was startled and responded late. Unknowingly, a drop of sweat ran down.
That girl’s Kaihin Sogo High uniform was slightly crumpled and she was combing through her black perm with her fingers.
She was a classmate from middle school and also the girl I confessed to long time ago. Just recently, we had an unexpected reunion and then I was thrown into an unexpected situation. What happened long ago and just recently weren’t very pleasant memories.
Speaking of which, Orimoto went to Kaihin Sogo High, didn’t she? The fact that she was here meant she was involved in the student council, huh…?
That suspicion was also held by her as well it seemed. She let out a surprised voice.
“Hikigaya, you’re in the student council?”
When I answered, Orimoto nodded convincingly.
“Aah, I see. Then I guess we’re on the same boat. I’m here because a friend invited me, you see.”
As she said that, Orimoto peeked behind me and looked around restlessly. Was she looking for something?
“Hikigaya, are you alone?”
“Yeah, the same as usual.”
After I answered, Orimoto snorted and burst into laughter as she held her stomach.
“What the heck, that’s super hilarious.”
“No, no it isn’t…”
There’s nothing hilarious here… Besides, I wasn’t the one taking it! Nor was I the one giving it2!
Still, thanks to Orimoto, I had a slightly better grasp of this group. Although this was an event conference between the student councils of the two schools, Sobu High and Kaihin Sogo High, it looked like even volunteers were participating.
“Isn’t your side, like, missing people? Is it just ours that has a lot?”
Seeing that today was my first time here, I wasn’t too aware of the situation in the room. But when I looked throughout the room, Kaihin Sogo High had just about ten people. On the other hand, Sobu High’s side had…
Huh? Our student council was… Aah, there they were. They’re huddled together in the corner over there. The number of people other than me and Isshiki wearing their uniforms was one, two… four people, huh? On top of that, unlike the guys from Kaihin Sogo High, ours looked dwarfed in comparison. It looked kind of shameful.
“You’re right, there isn’t that much of us…”
“Duh, you can tell from just looking… Well, not that it matters.”
When she said that, Orimoto looked like she lost interest and quickly left my side to her original place. Isshiki returned as if she tagged in. Isshiki fixedly stared at Orimoto closely and slipped out.
“Senpai, there was someone you knew?”
The way you’re saying that sounded like you’re actually saying “you had someone you knew?” Let’s stop that okay, Irohasu? Also, you, you’ve seen her at least once before, haven’t you? Well, she probably didn’t remember because she was so far away at the time. At first, I was a little unsure about how to go about explaining it, but thanks to that, I was able to shoot out the usual answer in the end.
“Yeah. Well, just a classmate from middle school.”
Although Isshiki inquired about her, she didn’t look particularly interested as she sat down and began spreading out the snacks that she brought. Seeing that, the people from Kaihin Sogo High began preparing their snacks and drinks as well.
It looked like the meeting was going to start up any minute now.
Both the Kaihin Sogo and Sobu sides went to their designated seats. Everyone sat at their seats lined up around the C shaped desk. Now then, which corner should I sit at…? Protecting one of the four corners made me seriously think I was one of the Four Holy Beasts3 or so I thought until my sleeves were pulled on.
“Senpai, please have a seat over here~”
“Eh, I’m fine with just the corner…”
Despite saying that, Isshiki wouldn’t let go of my sleeves. I tried to pull away from those hands that had me caught, but Isshiki continued to hold onto them. What’s with this strength? The way she was holding onto me was so cute, but I couldn’t even pull away at all…
“C’mon, c’mon, it’s going to start, you knooow~”
She pulled on my sleeves even more.
“Okay, okay. You’re going to pull them off.”
Well, regardless of where I sat, I wasn’t going to say anything anyway, so it’d be the same in the end. In that case, the seat with snacks right in front of me would serve me well. I reluctantly gave in and sat next to Isshiki.
Although it was a C shaped desk, directly in the middle was the birthday seat occupied by the Kaihin Sogo High student council president, Tamanawa. We, Sobu High, were sitting in the right half of the desk.
And when I took another good look, just as Orimoto said earlier, the other side had a lot more people. As far as numbers were concerned, they had two times the people, but it felt like there was even a bigger difference in the substance of their numbers. The prime reason probably had to do with their noise levels. The girls and boys on the Kaihin Sogo High seemed lively while the Sobu High side was dead in comparison.
Well, seeing that the other side was the one who suggested the idea, the difference in motivation was something that couldn’t be helped. I suppose it’s something like between those who were the organizers and those who were the supporters. This disparity was clearly demonstrated in the seating order.
Judging from the situation, it looked like the power balance was tipped in favor of Kaihin Sogo High with them as the main for various things while Sobu High was designated as the supporting side.
When the president of the other side, Tamanawa, confirmed that everyone had taken their seats, he clapped his hands.
“Eeerm, we will now begin the conference. I look forward to working with you all.”
He spoke looking like he was used to it and everyone bowed their head.
Finally, the conference had begun.
Tamanawa called to one person in his group of teammates who moved to the front of the white board. As the sound of the pen pushing down echoed, Tamanawa opened his mouth as he watched with a sidelong glance
“Similarly to last time, let’s do some BRAINSTORMING.”
Eh, what the heck? That’s so cool. I can’t use that kind of skill though?
Or so I thought for a moment, but he was actually just referring to BS. There were various set definitions, but it basically meant that a group of people would freely throw out their ideas.
“The topic of discussion will continue from last time and we’d like some IDEAS regarding the CONCEPT and content of the event…”
As Tamanawa continued on with the business, the Kaihin Sogo High side began raising their hands one by one, respectively giving their thoughts on the matter.
I observed them for a while. I mean, see, it’s basically that. Giving your ideas when you didn’t even have a basic grasp of the situation would just end up being a bother. It’s not like I was trying to cut corners or skip out, I was just being considerate!
Someone on the other side said this.
“If we consider the demands towards us high school students, we definitely have to make INNOVATIONS in the areas concerning the MINDS of younger people…”
Fumu, I see. Good point.
Again, another student over there spoke up.
“In that case, that obviously means we’ll have to think of forming a WIN-WIN with the COMMUNITY side as a prerequisite for sure.”
O-Okay. Well, I get that.
Once more, another person from their side spoke up.
“If so, then we’ll probably have to put strategic consideration into the COST PERFORMANCE. So we’ll take a CONSENSUS on that…”
As I watched them quietly to that point, it suddenly hit me.
…What’s with this conference?
Not only did I have no absolute clue about what they were doing, I had no idea what they were even talking about. Could it be that? Was it because I was an idiot that I didn’t understand, I wonder?
As I anxiously thought, I looked at Isshiki sitting next to me and she was nodding her head while letting out a “Whoa…” with an impressed voice. You know it? Phone4.
It’d be bad if I was left behind even though I was here to help, so I quietly confirmed with Isshiki.
“Isshiki, what’re they doing right now?”
When I whispered to her, Isshiki slightly rotated her head my way. She cutely tilted her head.
“Eh…? Who knows?”
“Who knows?”, don’t tell me you… What are you, the table tennis player, Ai-chan5?
This girl, she didn’t understand a single thing and she still had that kind of reaction? I looked at her with a shocked face, but Isshiki didn’t seem to pay it any attention. Her light smile said nothing but “don’t wooorry, it’s all fine.”
“Well, the other side’s giving out all their ideas.”
So if the other side did all the thinking, then our side only had to put everything to action… Well, in that case, just me alone would be enough it seemed.
I didn’t hate simple hard work. Mechanically repeating the same task endlessly eroded the spirit, but my spirit was already completely far off the deep end, not to mention shameless to boot. If I didn’t have to be considerate of others and I could avoid using my head, then that was paradise in its own way.
Mmkay, then I better listen to what’s going on so I could at least do what I needed to do. But it felt like their conversations lacked any kind of substance to it though…
Regarding that point, Tamanawa who was leading the conversation looked like he felt the same way.
“Everyone, isn’t there something more important…?”
When Tamanawa uttered with a heavy tone, chills ran through my seat. As expected of being the student council president, his magnificence was something to behold. Everyone gathered their attention waiting for what he would say next.
And then, Tamanawa glanced around the entirety of the Training Room and made slightly exaggerated hand movements that seemed like he was turning a potter’s wheel and spoke out.
“We need to use LOGICAL THINKING when we logically think about things.”
Aren’t you just saying the same thing? Just how many times are you going to think?
“We need to make a stand on the CUSTOMER SIDE from the view of the customers, you see.”
Like I said, aren’t you just saying the same thing? Just how many customers are you going to have?
I felt like I had a twitching smile floating on my face. But everyone else had “I see” expressions and was looking at Tamanawa with sparkling eyes.
…That’s not good. This president and the others were people that followed the same patterns.
Rather, this was a gathering of similar people or maybe a gathering of people looking to aim for something. The flow of the conference didn’t change as it continued on.
“Then we’ll have to consider OUTSOURCING as well.”
“But with our current METHODS now, it might be a little hard, SCHEMATIC-wise.
“I see. Then, there’s the possibility that we may need to RSCHD things.”
An innovated INNOVATION! A discussed and negotiated NEGOTIATION! A solved plan is a SOLUTION! That repetition continued. I thought their ideas weren’t HIP – HOP because their consciences were clearly HOP – UP instead.
Fueee… My conscience was so hiiigh up… It felt like my poor, little conscience was ascending high up somewhere…
× × ×
Where did we come from and where were we going?10
It was a conference where that thought suddenly came to mind. Where in the world did this conference come from and where was it heading?
The conference eventually came to an end with no decision resembling a conclusion.
But BRAINSTORMING was typically something like that. A BS was typically something where you threw out a variety of ideas. It was held with the objective of making progression. As such, this conference itself may not have been that near useless after all.
There was one point that slightly caught my attention and that was how most of the suggestions came primarily from Kaihin Sogo High. Although present, Sobu High for the most part didn’t say anything. Well, if the things earlier like “highly conscious proclamations” were repeatedly thrown out, then being nervous was reasonable. Even the president Isshiki didn’t look like she was going to say anything either.
And speaking of that Isshiki, she seemed to be chatting up a storm with the president of Kaihin Sogo High.
At the moment, I didn’t have anything to do, so I watched Isshiki in a daze a little far off. When I did, Isshiki noticed me and cut the conversation at an appropriate spot and approached me.
“Senpai, did you get a good idea of what’s going on?”
“Not at all… I don’t have a single clue.”
Isshiki was probably asking me whether I had understood what was discussed in the conference. I was aware of that, but regrettably, I could only say a placeholder because it would’ve been odd to say I had actually understood what was going on.
Presuming how I felt in my expression, Isshiki let out a short sigh.
“Aah, they are saying a bunch of difficult stuff after all.”
Well, it’s not so much that the words were difficult, but that it was too vague, making it really hard to understand. But that difference was trivial to Isshiki as she made a poppy smile.
“But when I say “amaaaazing” and “I better try my beeest too!”, they really seriously take it. After that, I just have to reply to the mails every now and then and it’ll be okay for the most part.”
“Someone’s going to stab you someday…”
It may not be now, but at some point she’s going to severely suffer from the karma backlash and that made me worry. Really, unpopular guys tend to be pulled along too easily, so all sorts of poor tragedies would come about… Unpopular guys tend to be strangely pure with a one-track mind and because of this honesty, they tend to misunderstand easily. What the heck? Thinking about it again, unpopular guys were totally great guys! Why weren’t they popular? What a mystery!
As I thought that, Isshiki groaned seemingly thinking about something.
“…But senpai, you give off that feeling sometimes, you know? Like how you would seem like you’re smart or how you’re one of those overly conscious types.”
She had a half smile as she said that. Right after the overly conscious type was a (lol) attached…
“Don’t group me with them. I’m not an overly conscious type. I’m an overly self-conscious type.”
Overly conscious types (lol) were, well, basically the people who strongly appealed to others with the intention of showing they were grown up. They were a group of painful kids who used the most appropriate business and management lingo terms to demonstrate how capable they were compared to others. It wasn’t all that different from chuunibyou.
On the other hand, overly self-conscious types were just normal painful kids. It wasn’t all that different from kounibyou.
“Haa, I don’t really get it.”
Isshiki answered tiredly. Well, I didn’t get it either. Regardless of either, the common point of both being painful to look at didn’t change.
“Anyway, now that we worked out what we needed to do, shall we get started?”
Isshiki quickly presented a stack of papers.
I see. So what she was doing earlier wasn’t just a friendly chat, but she was asking about the details of what our side, Sobu High, that didn’t bring up anything during the conference would do.
Occasionally, there were times when holding a conference was meaningless. Nothing important gets decided on at the conference because most of it would get decided behind the scenes by the more important people which were common occurrences.
She was particularly tactful in that area herself. She was a cute first year girl and she was treated quite well.
“You got pretty close to them.”
“Mm. Well, I guess so.”
Isshiki placed her index finger on her chin and groaned as she tilted her head. She then let out a “aha” with a smile.
“…Wait! You’re the one that taught me that, senpai. That a younger girl looking to be taught was cute.”
“I don’t remember teaching you that…”
True, I did teach her how to take advantage of the merits of being in her position, but I don’t remember telling her anything that specific. No, if you were to explain it the Isshiki way, then that’s how it’d turn out… Not good, did I accidently give birth to a monster? This would definitely lead to a circle crash11, huh…
“But, well, in that case, then you could just leave it up to them then. You don’t really need me, right?”
“Aah, um, that’s actually…”
When I asked, Isshiki looked down, reluctant to answer. She looked like she had something worrying her as I waited for her to continue. But that never happened.
That was because there was someone tapping on our table.
“Hey, Iroha-chan. Can I ask you to do this too? I took care of the bigger portion already.”
The one who appeared was Kaihin Sogo High’s student council president, Tamanawa. It looked like he had some additions to the content they talked about earlier. He handed Isshiki a few more printouts.
Isshiki took it in good graces. Not a hint of her downfallen face from earlier was shown.
“I’ll leave it to you. If there’s anything you don’t understand, just let me know. I’ll teach you how it works.”
Tamanawa made a fresh smile as he waved his hands and left the area. Isshiki waved back and saw him off.
“Okay, shall we get working then?”
She turned back to me, reorganized the added printouts, and began handing them out to the other student council members nearby.
“So that being the case, our work here is to record and organize the minutes of the conference. Okay, I look forward to working with you.”
Even though she spoke to them as she distributed the work to each person, the response was weak. The difference in motivation was staggering compared to the other lively student council.
Well, being even remotely motivated towards a job was odd anyway. No, that logic itself was odd.
But seeing that our job was just to break down what was given to us by the other party, I could understand why our student council didn’t want to get on board with it. That’s because the student council that they envisioned was completely different from the current reality.
I also took some of the printouts of the minutes as well. There were other things like the plans in the future and a checklist of topics. It looked like our job for now was to brush these up.
We all did our work in silence.
As we did, one of the members of the student council quietly stood up and handed a printout to Isshiki.
“President, is this good?”
“Ah, let me take a look.”
Isshiki with the paper in hand had a stiff expression somewhere. The boy in question spoke up as if he wanted to say something.
“Aah, about this…”
“No, then again, never mind…”
The faculty looking boy swallowed up his following words and looked away. He then said “thanks” in a small voice and returned to his seat.
When I followed him with my stare wondering if I had seen him somewhere before, Isshiki noticed this and told me with a secretive voice.
“He’s the vice president.”
When she told me, I realized it. Aah, a second year I think… Then again, I didn’t know his name, but I think I’ve seen him before on the same floor. So he was our vice president huh? You could be aware of the president’s name but this wouldn’t apply to the others since their popularity wasn’t as significant.
Still, the same year as me, huh? That explains why Isshiki was being polite.
Fumu. Quite complicated, I’d say. The subordinate being older in age made him hard to work with, but the superior younger in age wouldn’t let you feel at ease. Even at my convenience store part time job, the new employee who was older in age was really hard to work with… You’d be considerate while teaching the job to him and the other party would be bothered about something too.
Even for Isshiki who was adored by people older than her for having trouble with things, it looked like it wasn’t any different.
“Seems pretty tough for you.”
“Aah… I guess I’m not too well liked. But it’s always like that at first. We’ll get used to it eventually, right?”
Isshiki’s expression shook for just a moment. But immediately, she made a provocative smile as she said that.
Well, true, everyone getting along smoothly at the beginning was difficult. Usually there were just some things and opinions that wouldn’t ever see eye to eye.
However, there existed possibilities in growing from that. If it’s at the very beginning, there would be things you could change. At the very least, it was different from being shut in a room together somewhere.
When I was spoken to, I quickly raised my head. When I did, Isshiki’s puzzled face as she looked at me was there. It looked like my hands had stopped working. I jumped right back into writing in order to brush off the strange pause while speaking.
“Even so, just how long are we going to be doing this?”
“I suppose so… It’s almost time for us to head home, I think.”
When Isshiki followed up, I looked at the clock near the entrance of the room. It was just about time. It was also just about that time for clubs to start heading home as well.
The door under the clock then opened up.
“Oh, working hard.”
The woman in a suit with a white coat who came in speaking was Hiratsuka-sensei. As she flicked away her long black hair, she approached us with the noise of her heels clacking.
Why was this person here…? As I thought mysteriously, Hiratsuka-sensei let out a dissatisfied sigh.
“For the most part, this was a job entrusted to me again… Good grief. Being given all the work because I’m young sure is a problem.”
I suppose so. Sensei was young, after all… Unintentionally, I looked at her with gentle eyes. When I did, Hiratsuka-sensei looked at my eyes as well. Somewhere, there was a hint of kindness in them.
“…Are you alone Hikigaya? Where’re Yukinoshita and Yuigahama?”
From her tone, she assumed that if I was here, then the other two from the Service Club would be as well. Aah, speaking of which, Isshiki mentioned that Hiratsuka-sensei was the one who told her to do this, didn’t she…?
In other words, Isshiki’s request was something that she planned on getting the Service Club to accept. True enough, if things were like they were before, then this request would’ve been accepted by the Service Club as a whole.
However, it was different now.
“Aah, no, I’m helping out here as a personal favor.”
I moved my eyes back to the printouts at my hand.
Hiratsuka-sensei looked at me as I worked and didn’t say anything for a while. I didn’t explain anything further and moved only my hands. The only thing I did was mechanically copy over meaningless sentences and words on to other papers.
“…Well, that’s fine.”
Hiratsuka-sensei let out a short sigh and alternated looks between me and Isshiki.
“Still, Hikigaya and Isshiki, huh…? A rather interesting pairing.”
“What’s that about…?”
Being stuck together wasn’t that interesting to us. But Isshiki looked like she thought the same way as she made a slightly dissatisfied face while groaning. Aren’t you being a little mean, Irohasu…?
Hiratsuka-sensei looked at our faces and amusingly laughed.
“Oh no, it’s nothing… Anyway, it’s about time. Leave the rest for next time and head on home. The other side seems to be doing so as well.”
Being told that, I took a look and the people from Kaihin Sogo High were getting ready to leave one by one.
“I guess so. Why don’t we get going too?”
When Isshiki said this to every other member, every individual started to clean up. Isshiki then lowered her voice in consideration of Hiratsuka-sensei. She spoke to my ear in a quiet voice.
“I’ll be eating with the people from the other student council and going home after that. Senpai, you can go home first.”
There wasn’t the choice to invite me, was there…? That’s a load off my chest. She sure understood well.
“Okay, I’ll be heading home then.”
“Yes. I look forward to tomorrow as well, senpai.”
Isshiki made a silly bow again as she answered while lightly waving her hands and I headed for the door. And I didn’t forget to ask one more thing.
“Aah, right. It’s okay to assume that tomorrow’s going to start around this time as well, right?”
“Well, it’s the standard.”
“I see. Got it.”
The time was probably designated at a specific time since they anticipated it would take some time for the Kaihin Sogo High students to get here. In that case, for us in particular, there was plenty of time before the beginning of the conference.
As I thought about how I would spend that strange amount of free time, I left the community center.
× × ×
What is happiness, dare I say?
That would be the kotatsu.
“Ah, onii-chan. Welcome baaack.”
With the long day over, when I made it back home, in the living room was Komachi. She had drowsy looking eyes. It looked like she had been sleeping quite a bit.
And the reason for why she was sleeping was because of this kotatsu that was brought out into the living room at some point.
At long last, it was revived… This demonic mechanical contraption. The kotatsu was a device that produced good-for-nothing people. I could even propose we send out kotatsus to all our enemy nations during the winter season because we’d easily be able to conquer them.
“Komachi, don’t study in the kotatsu. You’ll just get sleepy and you’ll catch a cold when you fall asleep. The kotatsu turns people into good-for-nothings.”
When I told her briefly, Komachi stared at me sarcastically. Dear me, oh my. Could she be in her rebellious phase right now…?
“Wait, that’s not something you should be telling me while you’re getting comfy in the kotatsu…”
Hahaha, just what are you saying, Komachi-chan? I’m not getting comf… Oooh! I was already in the kotatsu before I was even aware of it!?
Just kidding. I enacted out that worthless little play as I entered the kotatsu.
With the long day over, the far infrared rays felt comfortable to my body that was chilled from walking home in the cold, night streets. When I stretched out my legs, my feet hit against something soft.
When I did, that soft something wrapped itself around my leg. What could this soft something with a mind of its own be…? Now then, could it be Komachi’s legs? I looked at Komachi and when our eyes met, Komachi returned a grin.
To think she’d want to tangle our legs together under the kotatsu… Recently, my little sister’s been a little unusual12. Actually, what was this? This was so embarrassing…! This darn pampered girl.
I pushed back against her to tell her to stop. When I did, the soft feeling went away.
And then, something came crawling out from under the kotatsu. It was our cat, Kamakura. Apparently, it wasn’t Komachi who was wrapped around my leg, but this fellow. Just why did cats tend to use your legs as a pillow, non?
When Kamakura left the kotatsu, he stretched and let out a long sigh. Was it that? Was this guy an old guy who just came out from a sauna or something?
When he looked at my face, he snorted. He must’ve been dissatisfied from being driven out from the kotatsu by my stretched legs. Or maybe it was because my feet were smelly… That made me worry, so please stop with that reaction, okay…?
“Onii-chan, you’re staring awfully hard at Kaa-kun. Is something wrong?”
“Nothing at all…”
Even though Kamakura came out from the kotatsu, apparently it was still cold as he hopped onto Komachi’s legs in the loaf position and started to sleep. All he did was sleep in the afternoon, yet he was still going to sleep more? Being a cat sure was nice. I want to live that kind of lifestyle too.
Komachi began petting Kamakura as he slept on her legs. Aah, no matter how much time passes, whenever I did that, he’d just go somewhere else…
Er, that’s right. Looking at Komachi made me remember.
“Heeey, Komachi-chan. What could this be, hmm?”
I took out the letter that was still in the breast pocket of my uniform. Komachi leaned over to look at it without waking Kamakura. She then calmly spoke.
“Eh? It’s exactly as you see it.”
She really wanted a house appliance…? Just what was my little sister?
Komachi looked like she didn’t feel like explaining any further and hummed as she petted Kamakura.
…Well, if I pressed any further, that message on the letter would come up and it’d be really embarrassing. I’ll use the list just as a reference when I think of different presents to get for Komachi.
We both spent the time silently in a daze without making much conversation.
Suddenly, Kamakura stood up. He scratched his ears with his back legs and made a posed expression as he left the living room. He then went towards the entrance.
Apparently, our mother was home. Kamakura was pretty amazing when it came to meeting mom and Komachi when they got back. By the way, he would never greet me and my dad at the entrance at all.
In just a moment, the sound of the entrance opening could be heard. The sound of footsteps echoed as they climbed up the stairs and in the living room appeared our mother. Behind her was Kamakura.
“I’m baaack. Aaah, so tired.”
My mother put her bag in that area and blew on the coffee she either bought on her way back or from some café. Komachi and I greeted her tired appearance appreciatively.
“Welcome back, mooom.”
“Aah, good work. Where’s pops?”
If pops was home too, then I thought I could demand some money from him for Komachi’s presents, but my mother had a surprised expression.
“What’s that about?”
HEY, HEY, MY MOTHER? YOU are MY FATHER’s WIFE13 aren’t you? Don’t you think you should be a little more respectful towards him? Or was it because you had no interest in your husband?
“During this time of the season, he can’t really come home since he’s just barely scraping by with his schedule, maybe? I came home with my work too.”
Our mom said so completely natural without trying to smooth it over. Rather than having any interest, it was more like it was a very natural thing that she didn’t pay it any attention. Hohmm, it varied depending on the type of industry, but office workers during this time of the season were quite busy, weren’t they? There’s no way I could handle working when it was nearing Christmas, seriously. I wanted to be an adult who would spend time with his family during the Christmas season. I will definitely not work. As I strengthened my stubborn will, my mom spoke up when something came to mind.
“Right, Hachiman. You’re free, aren’t you? Reserve a party barrel14. Also cake.”
Why do I have to? Then again, it’s not confirmed that I’d be free though? My “ahn” response was that in a nut shell. There wasn’t a single “okay” to be found anywhere.
“I usually ask Komachi to do it, but this year might not work out so well…”
“Aah, sure thing. Give me money.”
If that’s the reason, then I was all the willing to do it. Up until now, I was never really too aware of it, but when I was a test taking student, Komachi probably did quite a bit for us too. Actually, Komachi did most of the house chores anyway. At a time like this, I should at least do it.
When I answered, Komachi broke in.
“Komachi can do at least that much though?”
But for some reason, our mom had a half smile while she waved her hands.
“That’s okay. Our job’s already forcing onto you a lot of responsibility as it is, Komachi. At least let onii-chan do it.”
No, wrong. That’s wrong. I had plenty of motivation to do house chores. But that’s only whenever I thought “I’ll do the chores”! At that point, they would all be done already15 (by Komachi’s hands)
Having a competent little sister was a blessing and a curse was an excuse I was going to give, but my mom didn’t look the least bit interested in my reaction as she took out her wallet from her bag.
“Ah, I forgot to withdraw money. Is next time okay?”
After I shortly replied, my mom said thanks with a sigh, cracked her shoulders, and left the living room.
As Komachi watched her tired back, she slipped out a few words.
“She doesn’t even need to worry about Komachi too.”
“Well, it’s just parental love. Don’t worry about it and focus on your studies.”
When I said that, Komachi squinted for an instant. But to play it off, she had a strained laugh.
“Mmm, saying that is just a little bit…”
“Ah, no, my bad. Couldn’t think of anything else to say…”
I reflexively told her to try her best with her studies, but from the perspective of a test taking student, it was phrase they were absolutely tired of hearing. Besides, there was no way, Komachi, my idiotic little sister could be slacking off16.
Telling someone to try their best when they were already doing it wasn’t something you should do, I suppose. In the first place, being told that by someone who wasn’t trying hard would just be irritating instead.
So how could I cheer her on then? As I moaned, Komachi smiled.
“Onii-chan, you just need to say ‘I love you’ at a time like this.”
“I see. I love you, Komachi.”
“Komachi doesn’t feel that way, but thank you, onii-chan!”
A sudden tear drop fell from my eyes. Just now, onii-chan put a lot of heart into it too. I even flashed the brake lights five times too17.
Komachi smiled amusingly for a bit and then she stood up. It looked like she was going back to studying in her room.
“Okay! That was a good change of pace.”
“I’m glad for you…”
“Onii-chan, changing your pace’s good for you okay? Like, if you get driven to a corner, it’d be better to distract yourself with something else, you know?”
“That’s… Well, yeah, that’s right.”
That’s just an excuse to run away, wasn’t it? I tried to say that.
However, when someone somewhere who averted his eyes in that same way came to mind, I couldn’t say it at all.
- The Congress Dances ↩
- Fujioshi speak. Orimoto says “ukeru” which is also used in fujoshi speak, uke and seme. ↩
- Digimon Sovereigns ↩
- ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” maybe. ↩
- Ai Fukuhara — This has to do with how Isshiki says “Who knows?” which is “saa” and Ai Fukuhara apparently says “saa” in her matches or whatever. It’s sort of like a scream to pump herself up in a match. ↩
- Reschedule. ↩
- Watari actually eats out quite a bit so I’m assuming this is a restaurant that he’s been to that offers beef tongue. ↩
- As you noticed, there were a lot of words fully capitalized and this reflects which words were in katakana which is one of the writing systems typically used for foreign loan words. That being said, the way they’re used so often here as duly noted by Hachiman is akin to buzzwords. I don’t think it’s possible to translate this to English unless you’re being extremely liberal so I went with capitals to emphasize the words instead. ↩ ↩
- Ruu Ooshiba — He spells his penname in katakana. ↩
- Where do we come from? What are we doing? ↩
- The situation when the relationships in a club turns to crap because of various issues usually related to love. ↩
- Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiinda ga ↩
- This is said in English. ↩
- Kentucky Fried Chicken. ↩
- Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. A line spoken by Prosciutto. The original line “Whenever we think of that word (Kill)… In reality, it has already happened!” ↩
- OreImo ↩
- Morse code that spells out “aishiteru” which means “I love you”. ↩