The Line That Separates Them. — Line 2

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Their Second Encounter, and Her First…

Takumi had left an everlasting impression on me after our first encounter. I just couldn’t get him out of my head. I had begun to daydream a lot more, oftentimes entering a state of trance amid a conversation. I couldn’t even concentrate in my classes, resulting in my evaluation dropping. In retrospect, I must’ve worried my friends and family a lot.

I was curious about him, about the boy I knew not even the name of… Could you blame me though? He literally toppled my understanding of men. Prior to that incident, I had only known two sets of men: Those who didn’t hide their ulterior motives, and those who did. Men of the former category were still fine since they were at least honest about it. The men of the latter variety are those that I really despise. I loath those who act gentlemanly but conceal motives that’d put the former ones to shame. 

Anyway, I had wished to learn more about Takumi… His name, his class, his hobbies, and whatnot. Those were trivial details when considering the grand scheme of things, but I had to start somewhere. I know much more about him now, or at least I think I do. However, back then, I couldn’t even figure out his class, let alone his name. 

I was so desperate that I wandered about the entire first-year campus in search of him. I had even asked my friends from other classes about him, but since the semester had just started, my interactions were limited to the students from classes on the same floor as my class, that is, classes 1-B, 1-C, and 1-D. It may sound rude, but Takumi wasn’t the most popular boy out there back then, so even though I had remembered his features quite vividly, I couldn’t find anyone who had come across him from the aforementioned four classes. 

I believe I couldn’t find him back then must’ve been because I had kept my questions limited to the girls I trusted since Takumi would’ve definitely gotten in serious trouble if the guys had come to know that I was interested in him. It’s not me being narcissistic, it’s a fact.     

I had to do my best to suppress the urge to run all over the school to search for him. It would’ve not ended well if I was discovered running around aimlessly.

And after about a week of extensive searching, it was as if heavens had heard my call.

It was the day I had encountered Takumi for the second time in my life and had set the stage for many more to come. It was also on that day that I realized that it wasn’t just simple curiosity that drove me to look for him to such an extent.

It was something else…

***

“Today we have P.E with Class E.”

Our school had this rule that stated that each class had to attend four periods of P.E every week, that is, two days of the week having two consecutive periods of P.E. And since there were so many classes in each grade, it was practically impossible for a class to have a P.E class without another class joining them. And to promote intermingling of students, each class had to attend P.E with every other class before the cycle would restart. 

For example, if Class B and Class F had P.E together, they’d have to go through the remaining eight sections each before getting matched up again. And considering we have two days of P.E in a week, the classes would have P.E together every ninth class, that is, around once a month. 

“Is that so…”

My best friend, Yukimura Chiaki, nudged me with her elbow and informed me while I was lost in the barren fields of my mind, searching for the presence of that one person.

“I heard they have a really handsome guy in their class, Aoki Fumiya. Girls are going totally crazy over him. I heard that the boys are going to play soccer today, I wonder if I’ll be able to talk to him?”

Another friend of ours entered the discussion as she leaned on Chiaki’s desk with a lovestruck expression on her face. 

“Is that so…”

I was in a trance, wondering if I’d spot him in Class E. There’s no harm in wishing, right?

“Hey, Miya-chan, you’ve been spacing out a lot recently, are you okay?”

Chiaki questioned me as she placed her palm on my forehead, a concerned frown covering her temple. My other companion, Ayasaka Sakura, also seemed to have noticed it since she also worriedly placed her hand on my cheek.

I’ll let slide the fact that she’s caressing my cheek with an inappropriate smile on her face.

“U-umm, yeah, I am fine. Thanks for worrying about me Chi-chan. You too, Sakura-san”

Sakura retrieved her hand from my cheek and stared at me with part awe and part jealousy.

“W-why are you looking at me like that, Sakura-san?”

“I am so freaking envious. I can’t get over the fact that you look so stunning even when you’re in a daze.”

Chiaki chuckled as caressed my head for a moment before reclaiming her hand as well.

“I agree with her, you know?”

“Et tu Chi-chan!? Please stop teasing me…”

Chiaki has been by my side ever since we started middle school. She was in my class and we hit it off quite well. She witnessed my transformation first hand and the consequences that came with it. She had taken the role of my guardian in school and made sure that I didn’t end up in an alarming situation. I am very grateful to Chiaki, more than I’d like to admit because I am too embarrassed. Without her, I probably wouldn’t even have permission to leave my house except for school. The only reason my parents let me outside the house is that my best friend makes sure I reach home safe and sound. 

Chiaki is a beautiful girl with pretty brown hair that falls to her shoulders. Her sharp nose goes well with her oval face and sharp jawline. She is a little taller than me and has a rather muscular build for a girl, but she is not flat, on the contrary, her curves are quite pronounced. She once told me that she has trained in Taekwondo since she was a child, and I’ve had the opportunity to witness her skills in action quite a few times. 

Chiaki is generally very gentle and understanding, but she can be as fierce as a tigress when the situation calls for it. Chiaki is a very desirable woman that any man would be blessed to have by his side, but she gets overshadowed since she always stays with me, and I am sure she is aware of it as well. However, she still keeps me company with a smile on her face. I absolutely love her, she’s the most precious person in the whole world to me.

“I am not teasing you though~ You’re the only person I’d go lesbo for, Miya-chan~ I wanna grope those big mel-”

Bonk~!

A chop fell on Sakura’s head that made her wince in pain. retracing the hand to its origin, I could see Chiaki who was looking at Sakura with an amused expression.

“Let’s stop that right there. Ayasaka, please return to your seat. Class is about to start.”

Chiaki firmly said, completely disregarding Sakura’s pout and teary eyes.

“Yes~~”

Sakura settled in her seat and waved at me, I waved back and placed my chin on my palm with elbows on the desk as I got absorbed in the land of fantasies once again.

I couldn’t even tell what transpired that day, but I suddenly found myself getting changed for P.E class in the girl’s locker room. 

“Miya-chan~ It’s really a mystery how you maintain such a voluptuous yet delicate figure.”

“What do you mean, Sakura-san?”

“I mean, just look at those impressive assets, and then there’s your zero-figure wait and delicate arms. What unfairness!! For us peasants, it’s either chubby or flat! There’s no in-between!”

Sakura dramatically lamented as she started walking towards me with a playful gleam in her eyes. I sought to back away, but she pounced on me, and somehow managed to get behind me.

“Ah~ They’re so soft~”

She firmly grabbed my bosoms and commenced a session of wholehearted groping.

“Ahn~ Stop it!! Sakura-saaan~”

My breasts were in Sakura-san’s grasp, she was feeling them with unexplained enthusiasm. She seemed to enjoy the experience, but the same couldn’t be said for me.

“Hey, Ayasaka, what do you think you’re doing hogging the goddess of our year to yourself?”  

The other girls finished changing and came over to see what was causing all the commotion. I thought that I was saved, but I couldn’t be more incorrect.

“You guys wanna join in~?”

Sakura peeked over my shoulders and grinned pervertedly.

“Nobody is joining in anything!”

I retorted with all my strength, but it was all in vain.

“Pardon the intrusion~”

Several voices overlapped as the girls closed in on me and surrounded me from all sides, their inappropriate gestures filled me with a sense of foreboding. I wanted to escape but couldn’t even move as Sakura had a firm hold on me from behind. 

“NOOOO~~~!”

After a while, the teacher found us and kicked us out of the locker room after making us apologize for all the noise we were making. We made our way to the ground and met up with Chiaki who had left earlier since she was the sports representative and had to get all the equipment and such. She left soon after though, the teacher had called for her to help with some work.

We joined up with the girls of Class 1-E and stood in uniform lines so that the teacher could divide us into groups. We were playing dodgeball today, but it wasn’t the serious kind of dodgeball with two teams, instead, we formed a circle and had a person stand in the middle. The girl in the middle had to dodge the ball for as long as she could. She would be replaced by the girl that managed to hit her. To make things balanced, only hits on the legs would count, so the person in the middle had to make sure to not let others hit her legs. 

“Hey, hey~ I wonder when the boys will come out? I wanna see Aoki-kun.”

One of the girls from my class said aloud, and it wasn’t a surprise that everybody in our group managed to hear her words, including the girls from Class 1-E. 

“Yeah, you’re right~!”

Sakura exclaimed. I had heard about him before, some girls had mentioned in passing that he was very handsome. I had even heard the girls say that we would look perfect together as a couple. 

I don’t agree with that statement of course. However, I couldn’t deny that this person did interest me.

“Yeah, our Aoki-kun is really charming~! I wonder why he always hangs out with Kawashima-kun though?”

One of the girls from Class E said in puzzlement as if it was a mystery that had no explanation.

“Yes, I was wondering about it as well. They didn’t attend the same middle school… They don’t seem to have much in common… It may sound rude, but to me, it looks like Kawashima-kun is just sticking close to Aoki-kun to gain popularity.”

“I don’t think so at all… They seem to share a great friendship in my opinion. They must be childhood friends or something.”

“Could be. They’ve been calling each other by their first names since school started, right? That wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t know each other before.”

“You shouldn’t talk about someone behind their backs like that, and it’s not like Kawashima-kun is bad or anything. He’s very gentle and kind, somewhat enigmatic as well. He’s got that mysterious charm to him, you know? It’s just that… He always gets outshined by Aoki-kun.”

One of the girls from 1-E said as if to reprimand her classmates. I couldn’t see her features from where I was standing since she was surrounded by her classmates, but her voice was very sweet as if a soothing melody. One could lose themselves in her voice, and I wished to know just how the owner of such a voice looked like.

Must be an adorable girl, right?

I mused.

“You’re right.”

I had expected a rebuttal considering the flow of the conversation, yet the sweet-voiced girl’s opinion was met with a unanimous agreement. It seemed that everyone believed that this ‘Kawashima-kun’ was an attractive guy but was overlooked because of Aoki-kun. Their situation somehow seemed to resemble Chiaki and my situation.

I wonder who this Kawashima-kun person is? He and Chiaki could get along if their situation is even a little similar to ours.

I was facing away from the soccer field where the boys were supposed to have their soccer match momentarily. It’s not like I wasn’t interested in it, but the girls begged me to not turn towards the field because I would supposedly ‘distract’ the boys. I was too mentally occupied to argue with them, so I simply complied and assumed the position in the circle that faced away from the soccer field. And unless I manage to hit the girl in the middle, I wouldn’t be able to view the match. Not that I have any hope of doing that considering my atrocious physical ability.

“The boys are here~! Hey, Kobayashi-san, please don’t turn around, I want the boys to look at us too~!”

One of the girls from my class, whom I hadn’t really associated with before, said in a pleading tone with her hands clasped in front of her. The girls from Class E didn’t seem to care much except for looking triumphant for some reason.

He’s just a single guy, why do they look so smug? What about that sweet-voiced girl? I can’t see her from here… 

“Yeah, yeah, you guys have fun.”

I said dejectedly and concentrated on the game. I picked up the ball when it bounced towards me and threw it with all my strength in an attempt to hit the girl in the middle, but it was to no avail whatsoever. The ball might as well have been thrown by a toddler considering how slow it was. It didn’t even manage to roll all the way across, a girl had to run inside the circle to grab the ball. In contrast, all of the other girls’ throws were stronger and faster than mine, and many managed to hit the target and replace them as the target as the game progressed.

Ah~ Where is my lovely Chiaki~? Why was she chosen to help out the teacher with her work? Can’t the teacher do it by herself?

I was made aware that the soccer game was also underway as the girls had begun whispering amongst themselves with slight giggles leaking occasionally. They were taking discreet peeks at the football field as they talked about various guys from both the classes, but their attention was mostly focused on Aoki-kun as I could hear the girls admire him with flushed faces on more than one occasion.

The girls continued to talk about the boys, and whenever one of them showed favor to a particular boy, the other would tease and encourage her to go for it. The game slowed down as everybody lost interest in playing and passed the ball to each other to keep up appearances for the teacher. I panned my gaze around our side of the ground and noticed that the other groups were in a similar situation as most of the girls were watching the happenings on the field with awed expressions. For so many women to be entranced while watching him, is this Aoki-kun really so exceptional? 

Now I am really interested!

“Kawashima-kun sure is athletic, huh.”

The familiar soft voice echoed again, I turned my head in her direction, but my sight was blocked by the girls who had moved from their positions to get a better view of the field, deforming our initial circle into an unknown shape.

“Yeah, you’re not incorrect. However, he gets overshadowed by Aoki-kun here as well. Look, both of them seem to be discussing something. Is it just me or does Kawashima-kun seem to be really annoyed? Is he bitter because Aoki-kun is stealing his limelight?”

“Of course not! Kawashima-kun is not like that! I am sure it must be Aoki-kun bothering him like he always does in class.”

The girl with an angelic voice spoke loudly, but it could only be perceived as soft and polite because of her honey-like voice. And as soon as she finished, several girls from Class 1-E began to chuckle, eventually laughing out loud.

“Don’t tell me you like him, Minami? That’s news to us. Now that I think about it, you’ve been defending him since earlier, haven’t you? You guys were acting quite intimate in class as well.”

“Really!? Minami-chan likes Kawashima-kun!?”

“It sure is an interesting choice considering there are so many good ones in our class, including Aoki-kun. You sure, Minami?”

So the name of this sweet-voiced girl is Minami, huh? That seems to be her first name. I couldn’t contain my curiosity about her anymore so I moved a little from my position and finally managed to glimpse at the appearance of the girl that had apparently been caught having a crush on her classmate.

How lovely. She is absolutely stunning. 

That was all I could think as I stared awe-struck at Minami’s visage.

It might be just me, but she seems like a very warm and fluffy person. A girl who can get along with anyone irrespective of age or gender.

Minami’s every gesture, every facial expression, and every sentence radiated warmth and gentleness. Her eyes were pure without a speck of maliciousness. Although their personalities might be different, she somehow reminded me of Chiaki.

I want to befriend her. I want to protect this pureness. This Kawashima-kun must be blessed by the heavens for him to have attracted such a wonderful girl. 

“Uuuu~ Don’t be so loud~! I-it’s not like that! I just think that he’s very interesting… Yes! I think he’s interesting!”

Cute. So cute. 

“Fufufu~ It doesn’t sound very persuasive when you’re redder than an apple, you know?”

“Even her neck is red~”

“So cute~ If Kawashima-kun were to look at you right now, I am sure he wouldn’t be able to resist you~”

“Ahaha~ Jokes aside, we all support you, Minami-chan~ Kawashima-kun seems like a very nice guy, and we trust your judgment. If you ever need any help, please feel free to come to us~”

Minami appeared as if she wanted to deny their conjectures, but their amicable and understanding attitude seemed to have melted her. She simply nodded with a lovely smile across her face. 

*WHOOSH* *BAM*

“Ah~!”

I reflexively raised my voice as I felt an impact at the back of my head, throwing me off balance. I was so unintentionally engrossed in their conversation that I couldn’t react in time and ended up falling over. Fortunately, I managed to twist my body in time so that I landed on my butt instead of crashing face-first into the ground.

“Kobayashi-san!”

“Miya-chan!”

I heard voices of concern coming from my immediate vicinity, and I could make out some male voices mixed in that probably managed to reach here from the soccer field. Somehow, the voices from the soccer field seemed more concerned about me than those around me. It must be my imagination.

Though I didn’t feel much pain since the velocity of the ball was very low, I still couldn’t find it in me to stand up. I was about to take a friend’s hand when I heard a vaguely familiar voice calling out from the same direction as the soccer field where the ball originally came from.

“Oi! You alright?”

I snapped my head in that direction to confirm my suspicions, and there he was, jogging towards us with light steps.

*Badum* *Badum* *Badum*

I could feel my face heating up and my heart wildly beating as the distance between us decreased, the slight pain that I was experiencing vanished instantly with his appearance. I couldn’t comprehend my body’s reaction to seeing him, but one thing was sure that I wouldn’t have time to contemplate as the girls from my group and some from other groups that scurried over because of the commotion had surrounded me, only leaving a small space as if inviting him in.

I suddenly realized that I had been staring quite intensively at his figure, but I failed miserably when I attempted to avert my gaze. 

He finally reached our location and was sucked into the crowd as the girls besieged him, looking at him with a sharp glint in their eyes. 

That person, however, seemed indifferent to the cold gazes as he looked at me sitting on the ground. His eyes widened in surprise before returning to their usual tranquility once again. 

“So it’s you, huh, Princess? Should’ve guessed.”

He spoke with a wry smile and held his hand out. I saw the others raising their hands to intercept him, so I immediately seized his hand and he lifted me easily, just like before.

“What’s with you and these unfortunate injuries? You should be more conscious of your surroundings, Princess.”

“That’s rude, it was you who hit me from behind, you know?”

I was nervous, yes, a lot. But I couldn’t let anyone else interfere with this conversation. This was something I had been craving for more than a week, a simple conversation, and I was determined to make the most out of it.

“Please don’t utter such misleading things so carelessly, Princess.”

Huh? What does he mean by tha-

As soon as I realized how my words could be perceived without context, my face went completely red from embarrassment.

“T-that’s just a misunderstanding!”

“Is that so? Then let’s leave it at that, shall we? Now then, can I ask you to release my hand?”

When he reminded me with a whisper, I looked down and realized that both my hands were gripping his right hand strongly. I retracted my hands in a panic and it resulted in my right hand’s nails grazing his palm, leaving some light scratches on his otherwise sturdy palm. I gasped in nervousness as I had my head lowered, waiting for him to say something about it.

“How’s your foot, by the way?”

He ignored it!? W-well, he’s a boy, after all. It must’ve not cut too deep. 

“I-it’s fine… Thank you for that.”

“Just so you know, I can’t do the same thing to your head. If it hurts, go to the infirmary.”

“I-I know!”

Why am I getting so flustered over a normal conversation!? And how is he so nonchalant about all this? If I were to receive death stares from over ten angry women, I’d probably break down crying.

Anyway, I wanted to ask him so many things, get to know him better because of my excessive interest in him, but if I were to mingle with him here with so many people watching, I would just bring him unnecessary trouble. 

I should at least learn his name since it’s obvious that he’s from Class 1-E. Maybe even his phone number… No, that’s being too greedy. The name and class are enough for now. I would be able to find him quite easily if I were to find out his name.

“Hey, you! Kawashima or whatever, where do you get hitting our Miya-chan like that! And you even held her hands for so long!”

One of the girls from my class said with a huff and instantly received support from others, while the girls from Class 1-E were looking at us with a complicated gaze.

Huh? HE is Kawashima!? The guy they’ve been talking about for a while!? I couldn’t tell since my back was turned to the field, but it was understandable that others from my class were aware since they took part in teasing Minami about it.

Speaking of Minami… I gazed at her with the corner of my eye and saw the panic in her eyes as she tried her best to defuse the situation, only to fail miserably. The girls in my class were too fired up to get swayed by her soft voice. It was my responsibility to defend him since it was me who was gripping his hand, not the other way around.

“N-”

I composed myself enough to speak up in his defense but was cut short by Kawashima himself.

“It’s not every day that you get to hold the hand of the renowned ‘Goddess’ of our year. I might’ve overstepped my bounds in excitement. Please let it slide for today. Also, would you be so kind as to return the ball?” 

How can he say something so embarrassing with a straight face!? On the other hand, my composure was blown away yet again, giving way to the immense embarrassment that made my face turn red.

“No! This will not do! You didn’t even apologize properly for hitting her! You ain’t going nowhere without an apology!”

PLEASE STOP!

“Hmm~? Apologize? It wasn’t me who hit her, you know? It was that idiot over there.”

Everybody moved their gaze to where he was pointing. There was a really handsome guy with both his hands joined above his head, he was bowing as if to apologize to me.

“Oh, it’s Aoki-kun? Then it’s fine, I guess.”

Sakura. It seems like I need to have an elaborate conversation with you about double standards afterward.

“But still, you have to apologize for touching her sensually. Do us one better, apologize while doing a dogeza.”

SAKURAAAAA STOOOOOOP!

“Dogeza? Am I in ancient times or something? It’s ironic considering I call her Princess, but still, I’d rather not.”

I grabbed the ball from Sakura’s hands in desperation and presented it to him with my eyes lowered. 

“Thanks, Princess.”

He extended his hand in my direction to grab the ball but I pulled away.

“Stop calling me Princess.”

I said while looking him in the eyes. Yes, it didn’t matter how he addressed me as long as we could maintain our relationship and talk more often, but I wanted him to call me by my name. 

“Yeah, you’re right. You’re more like a Queen aren’t you?”

Huh? Queen?  

“Fine, fine. Tough crowd, huh. We should introduce ourselves then. I am Kawshima Takumi.”

He seemed to have sensed my displeasure as he quickly spoke up. I couldn’t help but smile at his antics.

“Hello, Kawashima-kun. My name is Miya, Kobayashi Miya.”

“Take care of yourself, Kobayashi-san.”

I had made sure to emphasize my first name, slightly hinting at the fact that I wanted him to address me by my given name instead of my surname, but it seemed to have phased through him.

Well, this is fine as well. There was some progress. I sighed in disappointment and passed him the ball. Nobody interrupted as he received the ball as it was me who was sending him away, insinuating that the victim herself had forgiven him. As he was about to turn around and leave, something seemed to have caught his eye as he said in surprise.   

“Oh, is that you, Minami? Play well and have fun.”

“U-umm, yeah. You too, T-Takumi-kun.”

Wait, did he call her by her first name? She’s calling him by his first name as well. What’s happening? Have they already started dating? I thought I had found someone special, is it gonna end just like this? 

I was so shocked that I couldn’t even react when he left with the soccer ball and joined the other boys on the field. 

I was brought out of my reverie by an excited voice coming from behind me.

“Did I hear that right? He just called her ‘Minami’, didn’t he?”

One of the girls from Class 1-E spoke up with surprise evident on her face.

“I think he only calls Aoki-kun by his first name.”

“Minami, when did you make your move on him?”

No, I shouldn’t be so dispirited! It’s not necessary that they have to be dating to be calling each other by their names. I looked at Minami, waiting for her answer like all the other girls. 

“I-it’s not what you think, we are not in that kind of relationship. At least not yet. I just mentioned in passing that we should call each other by our given names since we are neighbors and all, I didn’t expect him to accept so easily.”

“But you are happy that he addresses you by your first name, aren’t you?”

“W-well…” 

“You’re blushing, you know?”

“You’re surprisingly bold, Fujiwara-san.”

“B-bold…?” 

“Phew.”

I released a sigh of relief as I heard Minami’s confirmation. I ignored the whole ‘yet’ part, let’s not take on too many burdens at one time.

This whole episode made me finally realize the feeling that has been brewing in my heart ever since I first encountered him.  

“Sigh, I can’t believe that fell for someone. And after just one encounter as well? Gosh.” 


“Kawashima-kun.”

I was contemplating on some matters before the homeroom began when I was broken out of my reverie by a sweet voice calling out to me. 

“Fujiwara-san? What is it?”

I asked after turning my neck around just enough so that I could see her face. Fujiwara Minami, the girl that was seated behind me, had one of her hands covering her face from the sun rays that barged in from the window beside us. 

Since May was in full swing, the temperature had started to climb and the sun had begun shining ever so brightly. The sunlight falling on Minami’s face brightened up her visage, making her appear even more ethereal than usual.   

“Here, this, can you help me with this?”

I turned my body around to settle sideways on the chair and scrutinized the booklet that she had passed to me. It was a thin booklet filled with questions that we were provided the day before. The booklet contained questions from each subject in our course, and even from those that we hadn’t had the opportunity to exclusively study, like coding and business studies.

It wasn’t necessary to solve these questions as they wouldn’t add to the grade, but our homeroom teacher had encouraged us to solve them as these problems were specifically designed for students undertaking entrance exams for high-end colleges.  

“Are you sure you want me to help with these?”

I could solve these without any problem. However, I hadn’t displayed enough academic expertise in the classroom for someone to seek my help in solving these advanced questions, so her request was rather unorthodox. 

“Yeah… I want Kawashima-kun to help me… Is it no good…?” 

Minami responded with a dejected expression. Even if her tone wasn’t jovial, one couldn’t deny that her sweet voice was extremely soothing. I always found myself relaxing a bit when I conversed with Minami. Her pure personality and soothing voice helped me forget all the strenuous worldly affairs and reminded me that I was in school instead of work.

“Of course not, Fujiwara-san. Come on now, tell me where you have difficulties. I will see what I can do.”

I smiled as I witnessed Minami’s expression brighten up. She gathered her blonde hair behind her ears as she straightened her back and leaned forward. 

“What an adorable girl.”

I muttered as I rotated my chair and sat facing her. She was busy retrieving her stationery from her pencil pouch to hear anything.

“Let’s start with this one.”

Minami said with a bright smile and rosy cheeks as she pointed at one of the questions from the mathematics section. 

***

We had been solving questions for over twenty minutes, and the time for our homeroom teacher to arrive was edging closer and closer. The wandering students had returned to class, and those who had arrived barely on time were breathing heavily on their seats and arranging their disheveled appearances.

“Let’s end it here for today, Fujiwara-san.”

I said as I placed down the pencil I had borrowed from Minami. I stood, turned my chair around, and settled down as I faced the back of the one sitting in front of me once again.  

“Okay~ Thanks for the help, Kawashima-kun~ By the way, did you know…”

As I was squirming about in my seat, trying to discern the most comfortable position to fall asleep in, Minami thanked me and continued to say something but her voice trailed off, as if waiting for my reply before she continued.

“Hmm? What is it, Fujiwara-san?”

I looked at her over my shoulder, beckoning her to continue. However, her bright smile from a moment ago had vanished, replaced by a somewhat bitter expression.

“Fujiwara-san? What’s with that face?”

“Minami.”

“Huh?”

“C-call me Minami, Kawashima-kun. We’re friends, right?”

I mean, it’s not that I mind. However, it could get troublesome if I were to suddenly call a girl of Minami’s caliber by her first name all of a sudden. I could already imagine the chaos it would cause amongst her admirers. 

Fujiwara Minami was one of the most popular girls in our grade. Her popularity wasn’t as pronounced earlier as all the attention had been focused on Kobayashi Miya. However, it was a matter of time that she got exposure and people realized that there was another girl on par with Princess in our year. The only reason she was overlooked is because of her soft and timid nature. 

She doesn’t appear to have any interest in being the center of attention. On the contrary, she seems to hate her popularity as her soft nature creates trouble for her when she rejects confessions. I have overheard her rant as she deals with the pain of rejecting someone and crushing their feelings. 

Minami is a very attractive girl with caucasian features. Her shiny blonde hair tied into a cute ponytail falls to her back and bounces whenever she moves. Her blue eyes have an innocent glint to them and combined with her long eyelashes and perfectly shaped eyebrows give a very delicate aura to her. She has a cute round nose and full succulent lips. In contrast to her endearingly innocent appearance, her body has a rather feminine build complete with voluptuous curves and white porcelain skin.

It seems her mother is from Europe and her father is Japanese, and it’s clear as day who she takes after in the family. She had once told me that she spent the majority of her life in Europe, but her Japanese was surprisingly very fluent, though she had a bit of trouble in Kanji.   

If I were to call such a beauty intimately, I’m sure the peaceful life I desire would be an unattainable dream.

“I-I’ve been sitting behind you for the last month… I-it is justified!”

“It is?”

“It is!”

It was apparent that she was on her wits end as her cheeks had gone red and her head was slightly lowered. She looked at me with upturned eyes that were pleading for me to yield to her demands.

How could I possibly reject such an adorable creature?

“Minami it is then. It’d be unfair if it was just me using given names. Do feel free to call me Takumi.”

“Yes! Takumi-kun!”

Her expression brightened up in an instant as she cheerfully called my name and started fidgeting unnaturally, seemingly in a state of trance.

“So, what was it you were about to tell me before?”

She snapped back to reality and took a moment to process my words.

“O-oh, t-that. Yeah, we have our P.E period with Class 1-A today.”

I was wondering why she had gone out of her way to explicitly inform me of our schedule. It has been quite some time since the semester started and we were already familiar with the school’s mechanics to a certain extent. The only class that hadn’t joined us in our P.E period was Class 1-A, so it was obvious that we would join up with them. Then it hit me… 

“Now that I think about it… Isn’t Princess in that class?”

“Princess?”

Minami cutely tilted her head and asked with a confused expression.

“Oh, I meant Kobayashi Miya.”

“Kobayashi-san? Princess?”

Minami’s eyes scrunched in confusion, but she leaned back into her chair instead of asking me as the sound of a bell had just echoed throughout the whole campus, indicating the start of the academic day. 

No different from any other day, I passed my time either sleeping or contemplating over matters I’d have to take care of after school. The teachers that didn’t mind me taking a nap in their classes were few and far between, so most of my time was spent gazing out of the window.

Eventually, P.E class came around and we were asked to head over to the locker room to change. The class A boys had chosen to change in their class itself as the locker rooms were designed to accommodate no more than thirty students at a time. Conversely, the girls of our class had changed in the class, and girls from Class 1-A had taken the locker room. The boys were rowdy as always, shouting and cursing filled the narrow locker room. I managed to find myself a corner locker and changed quickly while making sure nobody took a look at my body.

No, I don’t have any strange protrusions or tattoos, it’s just that I don’t wish to showcase my body for certain classified reasons. 

And after I was done changing, I closed my locker and looked around, only to see Fumiya walking over with a sly grin on his face.

“What is it?”

“What’s the plan Takumi?”

“Same as always.”

“That so?”

He said cheerfully as he swung his arm around my shoulder. Since both of us had changed and were ready to head to the ground, we found a bench and sat down side by side, waiting for the others to finish changing. 

However, instead of quickly changing into their gym clothes, the boys were all giggling with creepy smiles plastered on their faces. The surprising thing was that everybody had the same creepy look as if they were part of a perverted cult or something.

“We get to see Miya-chan in shorts~”

“This is why I was born~”

“Miya-chan in shorts~”

“I am living my best life right now.”

“I’ve seen photos, but nothing beats the real thing~”

“There’s Miya-chan, but there’s also Minami-chan, y’know?”

“Yeah, you are right!”

“The two most beautiful girls of our year together! This is heaven~!”

“Ah~ If I could just touch them once~”

“I would be satisfied by just sniffing them~!”

“Sigh~ No use discussing the realm we can’t reach.”

“…What is wrong with them?”

I asked the person beside me in a concerned voice. Trying my best to conceal my disgust.

“Your guess is as good as mine, Takumi. It’s not like I can’t understand them though.”

Fumiya said with a wry smile. Oh, how I worry about the youth of today.

“Well, if it’s you, you can get any girl you want, Fumiya.”

I said in a resolute voice as if what I said was the absolute truth.

“…Shut up.”

“Don’t you want a girlfriend? If you keep spending all your time with me, people will have the wrong idea, you know.”

“You just want to get rid of me, right? Not happening! I’d rather spend time with you rather than some girls…”

“Don’t say things that could be misinterpreted easily.”

“Hehehe~”

Fumiya laughed creepily as he rocked back and forward while panning his gaze around the locker room. 

“Aoki, Kawashima, let’s go!”

One of the boys came over while scratching his hair and pointed towards the exit. We got up from the bench and followed him and the others to the ground. We met up with the students from Class 1-A along the way and headed over to the soccer field.  

The teacher came over while holding a soccer ball under one of his arms and made us stand uniformly in straight lines. 

In soccer, no more than twenty-two players can be present on the field at the same time. And because we only had one field, the teacher had come up with some new rules. Two teams would enter the field while the remaining three would wait at the sidelines. The team that scores a goal would stay on the field while the other team would be replaced by one of the other three teams. This cycle would go on until the end of the class. And coincidentally, the number of boys in Class 1-A and Class 1-E came out to be 55. As such, each team consisted of eleven players, fulfilling the condition of a normal soccer team. Not that we’d care if there were one or two less or extra in a team. 

It was a very simple and practical game that provided everyone a chance to step on the field. Even if one team turned out to be overpowered, they were bound to be tired at some point and would be replaced.   

“Without further ado, let’s begin the game!”

Our teacher shouted as he randomly selected two teams to step on the field. Fumiya and I were on the same team, but our team wasn’t selected for the initial game, so we had to wait until one of the teams scored. In about ten minutes, our wish came to fruition and we were allowed on the field with our team that consisted of students from both classes, mostly from Class 1-E though. We had already discussed our positions beforehand, or rather, Fumiya had assigned everyone positions and nobody refuted.

The opposing team was very uncoordinated so we managed to secure a goal quite early thanks to Fumiya’s efforts. I was playing in the middle and continued to snatch the ball from opponents and passed it along to those at the front.

We had won four games in a row and were once again facing the team we had entered the field against. However, this game wasn’t as fast-paced as our previous matches because our team was already quite worn out. And because our opponents couldn’t score a goal because of how bad they were, we were stuck in a stalemate. 

The game was getting quite monotonous and I could tell that the teacher wanted to pause the game and make our team forfeit for now. However, he didn’t have the opportunity to act as Fumiya had accidentally kicked the ball so hard that it had actually managed to reach where the girls were playing dodgeball.

I could hear the field erupt in worried chatter as even the most daring ones didn’t know what to do because the ball had actually landed near the group that had both of the first year’s absolute beauties in it. The students were quite intimidated, and it was surprising to see that even the teacher appeared to be quite hesitant.

I was about to find myself a clean patch of grass and settle down when I noticed Fumiya running towards me with his hands joined in front of his chest.

“Hey, Takumi, please go get the ball. You’re the only one I can count on.”

“Why?”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

He asked while pointing towards the other students.

“I guess so.”

I said as my concern about the youth of today flared up again.

“And why aren’t you going over?”

“I can’t handle women well, and you know that. Please… I’ll apologize from here.”

Fumiya pleaded with his head lowered.

This kid… 

I massaged my temple and headed over to where the ball landed. As I approached the group, I could see a circle forming around a girl who was sitting on the ground, seemingly having fallen. The crowd around the girl had left some space for me to enter, it appeared as if they were waiting to engulf me with their formation.

“Oi! You alright?”

I could see that the girl on the ground had turned her head and in my direction and was staring at me as I approached her, supposedly waiting for me to reach her so that she could yell at me. I squinted my eyes, trying to figure out the identity of the said girl but couldn’t because of the shadows of those surrounding her. 

I reached the group and filled up the space they had left for me. I could finally discern the identity of the girl that had tumbled because of Fumiya’s mistake.

So it’s her, huh? 

“So it’s you, huh, Princess? Should’ve guessed.”

I mean, who else could attract a crowd like that? Maybe Minami, but I am sure I wouldn’t be receiving such cold stares if it was her who had fallen over.

I offered my hand to her, and she immediately grabbed it with unexpected vigor. I decided to ignore the fact that the other girls had somewhat bitter expressions as I helped her on her feet.

“What’s with you and these unfortunate injuries? You should be more conscious of your surroundings, Princess.”

I mean, crashing into someone standing still, getting hit by a flying soccer ball. I sure hope she doesn’t get into a serious accident because of her clumsiness.

“That’s rude, it was you who hit me from behind, you know?”

“Please don’t utter such misleading things so carelessly, Princess.”

Pfft. She went completely red. We may reside in completely different worlds, but she sure is an interesting specimen.

“T-that’s just a misunderstanding!”

“Is that so? Then let’s leave it at that, shall we? Now then, can I ask you to release my hand?”

I whispered.

She seemed dazed for a moment, but then she suddenly pulled both of her hands with considerable force, making my palm itch for a bit.

“How’s your foot, by the way?”

I lowered my gaze, wanting to take a look at her foot, but my eyes were caught by her plump white thighs that were completely in the open since her shorts were a bit crumpled. My gaze lingered over them longer than I’d like to admit, but I recomposed myself and raised my gaze to look at her face, which still retained a bit of the red hue.

“I-it’s fine… Thank you for that.”

“Just so you know, I can’t do the same thing to your head. If it hurts, go to the infirmary.”

“I-I know!”

Her voice almost seemed desperate. I seem to have teased her a little too much. 

I was about to ask her to return the ball that was currently held hostage in the arms of a girl from Class 1-A. I didn’t know her name so I hoped that Princess could get it for me. However, before I could say anything, the very same girl who held the soccer ball spoke up with a frown on her face.

“Hey, you! Kawashima or whatever, where do you get hitting our Miya-chan like that! And you even held her hands for so long!”

Hitting on her? Me? Really? Was that how the situation seemed to an observer? And about her hand… Yeah, it sure was soft. However, she was the one holding my hand, not the other way around. 

I took a look at the Princess, and her eyes seemed to be lowered as if contemplating something. Does she not want others to find out that she was the one holding onto me? Is this some girl thing I am not aware of?

“N-”

“It’s not every day that you get to hold the hand of the renowned ‘Goddess’ of our year. I might’ve overstepped my bounds in excitement. Please let it slide for today. Also, would you be so kind as to return the ball?” 

I hope this works. It isn’t such a big deal, is it? 

“No! This will not do! You didn’t even apologize properly for hitting her! You ain’t going nowhere without an apology!”

How stubborn. I should just use Fumiya, his face can solve 99% of issues that involve women.

“Hmm~? Apologize? It wasn’t me who hit her, you know? It was that idiot over there.”

I pointed towards where Fumiya was bowing with his hands joined, and mouthing the words ‘sorry’ and ‘I apologize’ over and over again.

“Oh, it’s Aoki-kun? Then it’s fine, I guess.”

See? Easy as that. I don’t know how I feel about the difference in treatment though.

“But still, you have to apologize for touching her sensually. Do us one better, apologize while doing a dogeza.”

She is kidding, right? Is that something a girl her age should be saying in public?

“Dogeza? Am I in ancient times or something? It’s ironic considering I call her Princess, but still, I’d rather not.”

I could tell that she was about to reply with something irrational by her irritated expression, but before she could speak, Princess acted and snatched the ball from the girl, presenting it to me soon after.

“Thanks, Princess.”

I was about to grab the ball from her hands but she pulled away and looked me in the eyes.

“Stop calling me Princess.”

“Yeah, you’re right. You’re more like a Queen aren’t you?”

Her eyes narrowed in displeasure. To be honest, her gesture seemed more seductive than intimidating. 

“Fine, fine. Tough crowd, huh. We should introduce ourselves then. I am Kawshima Takumi.”

Princess’s expression brightened in an instant, reminding me of Minami to a certain extent. What’s with these girls and names? 

“Hello, Kawashima-kun. My name is Miya, Kobayashi Miya.”

“Take care of yourself, Kobayashi-san.”

She passed me the ball without any further obstructions, and as I was about to leave, I spotted a certain someone from the corner of my eye. 

“Oh, is that you, Minami? Play well and have fun.”

“U-umm, yeah. You too, T-Takumi-kun.”

With that, I left the girls, ignoring the squeals and giggles coming from behind me. I walked over to the guys and returned the ball to Fumiya after hitting him once in the head.

We continued to play until the period ended and then parted ways with Class 1-A boys. Even if it was for today, our classes seemed to have gotten along quite well. I was even approached by some boys to exchange Line IDs. 

It was my second encounter with Princess. I hope we don’t come across each other often, or it could get quite troublesome.


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