What greeted me when I opened my eyes was Akane's face, staring intently at me.
"Y-you didn't do anything to me."
What? Were you hoping I'll lay my hands on a sleeping girl? On top of that, it's you who looks like you're feeling the safest with me.
"Is that a new way to say 'good morning'?"
"I can't believe you. You keep bringing girls here but now when it's my turn, you didn't do anything."
Err. Are we still on this topic? She really wants me to make a move on her? This girl.
"Kiss me then."
"I don't want to. It's now your turn to take the initiative."
Listen here, girl. I thought you'd show me your love? Why does it look like you just want to be spoiled by me?
"Is this how you show me your love? You want to be spoiled by me?"
Akane was surprised at my words and it looks like it woke her up. She then turned downcast. Her voice toned down.
"You bully. You know, Ruki. I love you even if you're like this. Maybe, just maybe, there's also something wrong with me but I really really love you. I can't deny this feeling. And yes, in fact, I want to be really spoiled by you. So much that I want you to only look at me. If I give up like Yaeko, I feel like you'll be alone for the rest of your life."
Ah. That last sentence of her sounds possible. No, that's what will really happen. Because I can't learn how to love, I won't be able to settle on a normal relationship. It will only be me fulfilling my desire until the end. Even after hearing all her words, I still can't feel something in me that speaks love.
"I know. Something's broken within me. Thank you for loving me. Though I'm sorry, even now, I still don't get that emotion."
"I don't need your thanks, i***t. I'm not asking for it. I've made my decision. I will never go back from it. I'm going to do my best. So you have no choice but to look forward to me doing my best to make you feel that emotion you don't get."
Akane drags her body upwards lining her face to mine.
"I'm going to kiss you, okay?"
I nod at her.
"I'll teach you until you can finally learn this emotion I'm currently feeling for you. And for the record, last night was my first kiss. Take responsibility Ruki."
Akane says before planting her lips on mine. Like last night. It's just a normal kiss but her arm that is embracing me is trembling.
Not just that. Her whole body is shaking. It's shaking too much that she seems like a very fragile thing. One touch and she might break into pieces.
Ah. I see now. I get it. Akane's putting everything she has on this kiss. Hoping it will reach me. Just how much have I put her to this suffering? Why is it that even at this moment, I can't understand that emotion she's conveying?
With Yae, I didn't try to understand what she's feeling and because of that, she was hurt. Not just her. Probably there's more from the girls I stole from their beloved.
I lift my hand to Akane's face, stroking it with my fingers gently. She's beautiful. Beautiful enough that she's really popular. Like a distant star that I have no means to embrace in my arms like this. That's the truth but I still can't feel my desire kicking in. It doesn't have any reaction.
I separate my lips from hers.
I stare at her eyes full of determination, resolve and that love she's talking about.
"I've decided, Akane. I'll give this a try. This thing where you will teach me how to feel that love."
Then my turn. This time I take the initiative to kiss her. It's not a normal kiss. I start sucking on her apple-red lips. Savouring every part of it. I turned it to a long kiss.
I still don't know why I did this but I felt that this is the right thing to do right now. At this very moment.
When I looked into her eyes, her tears that refused to come out last night immediately flooded and ran down from it.
"I'm glad Ruki. I'm really glad. My feelings. It reached you."
Is that it? Did it reach me? Maybe. I don't know. I only felt that I have to respond to her feelings when she threw it all onto that kiss. Am I lying to her now? I still don't know.
I used my finger to clean her tears that still showed no signs of stopping.
"I'll teach you. And I'll keep showing how much I love you."
I didn't say anything and just nodded at her. She then showed me a smile. Her most beautiful smile to date.
"What are you waiting for? You said you're leaving early."
"Well, I can't just leave you crying here. It'll stain my pillow."
Hearing that, she pouted.
And her tears stopped. That's good. She's more beautiful this way.
"Go. It's still dark outside. I'll go back to sleep. I'll let myself drown with your scent here. I've longed for this. To finally be this close to you again. "
Akane's emotions are overflowing that even I can see how it continues to flood this room of mine. But still, that emotion. It's colourless in my eyes.
Right. I have to prepare now or I will be late. Maemura will be waiting for me. Kana too.
"Do you want pancakes?"
"Yes. Make some for me. I'll eat later."
"Sure. I'll leave it on the table. Eat it okay. Don't forget."
Haa. This girl. I can't clearly remember when we last got this close to each other. Is this what Yae meant? To treasure this girl. Will I feel regret when one day I can't see her again? I still don't know if I can understand that feeling and emotion called love.
"The reason for you leaving early. Is it a new target?"
I can't stop this desire of mine. It will continue no matter what.
I leave the room to prepare the pancakes.
Leaving her share. I ate the rest along with a cup of coffee.
I washed my face and changed into my uniform. I didn't forget to bring my PE uniform. There is a PE class today.
Now that I think of it, a lot happened yesterday. No wonder I was that tired.
Starting the morning with Kana.
Akane confronting me.
Helping Kana settle on the train and telling her to appease Kenji's suspicion.
Andou confronting me on the way.
Dealing with Sakuma.
That time I had with Shio that ended abruptly.
Yae showing up before me.
Akane confronting me again. Deciding to live with me.
Throwing the bait to Maemura
Kana's night call.
And lastly, Akane again, inviting herself in to sleep with me.
Before going out. I check on Akane, she's back to sleep. The pillow she's resting on is still wet from her tears.
I made a note for her. Telling her to eat the pancakes and leave the key on the mailbox. She also has school today.
Good thing that the trains start their operations at 5 am. I got on easily and arrived at school before 6 am. The sun has just started to take a peek from the east.
I haven't gone to the Gymnasium since the entrance ceremony, it's located behind the 3 buildings one can see at the front. It is located in the middle of vast land, around it are various sports-related fields. Track and Field, Baseball, Soccer, Tennis and more. All athletic clubrooms are also located near their practice field. Only cultural clubs and other miscellaneous clubs are located at the Club Building
Even this early, there are already a few students walking by. Most of them are from an athletic club though. They're from serious competitive clubs who take the upcoming tournaments as a priority like the Baseball Club. They're already actively practising on their corresponding fields.
The school's Basketball Club isn't that competitive but still large enough that they only share the Gymnasium with Volleyball and Gymnastics Club.
Even from afar, I can already see Maemura's tall figure. Well, most specifically, her long slender legs and those juicy thighs.
Even while wearing jogging pants, the shape of her legs can be seen because of how fit it is for her.
Maemura waves when she sees me. Looks like she's the first one among her club there. And her outfit consisted of a short-sleeves hoodie and jogging pants. Looks like she ran here from her house.
"You. Did you do your morning jog here?"
"Yes. I ask you to meet here so I just switched my running path to school."
"It's uphill on the way here though."
"Yeah, I had a hard time running but it's fine now, I already rested before you arrived."
I can see her hoodie still wet from her sweat. And her face still looks a bit haggard.
"Do you want a drink? I'll buy from the vending machine over there."
I say and points at the vending machine from a distance
"Looking at you, you probably didn't bring your wallet."
Maemura laughs at me.
"Yes, I don't. Thanks for the treat then."
"What do you want?"
"Okay, wait here. I'll be back."
I declared then ran to the nearest vending machine.
There's a lot of choices and it took me some time to find the lemonade she wanted.
I handed the lemonade can to her. She took it and drank it immediately
"Thank you. If you didn't come I might've died from dehydration."
"i***t. There's a water faucet there. You won't die."
"I won't drink that. I was planning to haunt you at night if I died from dehydration because you didn't arrive on time."
What the hell is this girl saying? Well, she seems fine now. I wonder what she will ask that she had me come here this early.
"Don't worry, you won't die easily from dehydration. You'll just feel weak at best. I can then save you and make you mine in the process."
"What the hell Onoda? You're at it again. And hearing it with your voice…"
"What? Is there something wrong with what I said?"
"Y-you. Ah, forget it. Let's go inside, you'll help me right?"
"Isn't that why I am here? To help Your highness."
And then, she blushes even harder. I can see her red ears redden.
"D-don't call me that with your voice. It's weird."
I close the distance between us and whisper into her ear.
"I didn't know you could be this cute Maemura."
She trembles and pushes me on reflex.
"i***t Onoda. I didn't call you here to tease me. Get a grip!"
I laugh at her and step back.
"Sorry. I just can't resist when you blush like that."
"Wow. You can laugh? I thought you're only all smiles."
"Is that how I look from your eyes?"
I don't know. I only strive to be the Classmate A. It's all about how not to stand out too much.
"Yes. You always have this composed look on you. That even at times you were getting laughed at, you never falter and just smile at it like it's nothing."
Ah. But I am just being normal?
"Do I look weird to you?"
"Well, you are already weird. You can't get weirder right?"
Ah, I give up. I'll just continue how I usually act. That's how I always am. Even at middle school.
I followed her inside the gym. There are no students yet, only us two.
"This place looks different when it's deserted like this."
"I feel you. And this silence where we can hear our own breath. It's calming. Only at this time will this place be like this. Not counting the night of course."
"So, how may I be of service to you, Your Highness?"
"Ah. I give up retorting to you Onoda. Just wait for a bit, I'll go change."
The Basketball Clubroom is located within the gym. Maemura will probably change to her practice uniform in their club's locker room. I just wonder why she brought me here. To help her practice? How will she gather resolve by playing basketball?
I had the urge to follow her and take a peek but that's reaching too high. I might spoil my future chances with her if I act that unscrupulous. A simple teasing is enough for now and if I get some chance to close in on her then I'll work around it so she won't see it in a wrong way.
It didn't take long before Maemura came out while pushing a cart full of basketballs. She's now wearing her practice uniform, a sleeveless shirt and sports pants that only reach to half her thighs. This tall girl really has this sort of charm that you won't be able to resist yourself from looking at her long smooth legs. It's even filling me with excitement to imagine me caressing that. Something that would have been given to Sakuma had they succeed at becoming a couple.
I want to make that mine. Not just that, I want to make her mine. Ah. I'm really hopeless. A slave to my secret desire.
"What are you looking at? First time seeing someone like me?"
"Just admiring a beauty. I'm full now. Thanks for the meal."
"You and your sweet words. If I don't know you I might think you're trying to steal me from Sakuma."
"But I am?"
"Stop the jokes i***t. Come fetch balls for me."
For now, she thought I'm just joking at stealing her. The imprint in her mind is still not complete.
"What will you do?"
"Ah. You see I thought of gathering my resolve like this. If I basket all 10 balls it means I have a great chance at confessing. Every missed ball will lower my chance."
Huh? What is this? What's going on in her mind? How could one resolve herself if she's relying on her skills at basketball and luck?
"Will this be effective?"
I ask. I'm really not sure if this will give her enough resolve. At the very least I want to help them succeed at becoming a couple. That way the excitement I will feel at stealing her will be the highest.
"I don't know. I've already thought a lot of things, even the resolve I've received from you last night was considered. But I still don't feel it enough. Am I hopeless?"
Ah, this girl. She's too afraid to fail. She's harbouring her feelings for him for 4 years. If she fails then in her mind, it will be a great shock to her.
I see. I have to ease her mind here.
"What if I told you that.."
"What? Don't cut it off in the middle."
"Do you really want to hear?"
"You got me curious, don't stop now."
"Keep this a secret."
"Eh? What's that about?"
Yeah. I'll tell her that Sakuma likes her. They have a mutual affection for each other.
"Just tell me if you will keep this a secret or not."
"Okay. I promise. I'll keep what you will say a secret."
I look at her eyes. Her eyes are really filled with uncertainty. She's really a hopelessly maiden in love.
"Sakuma. He told me he likes you."
Her eyes widened when my words reached her ears.
"Eh? What did you just say?"
"He likes you too. You're not the only one that got conscious at the other party. Him too."
"W-what the hell? Onoda. I'll punch you if you're joking with me."
"You promised not to punch me."
"Is it really true? Seriously?"
She asks once again. The uncertainty on her eyes is turning to relief.
"I've always thought he hated my guts."
Isn't that because of your foul mouth?
Ah. It's bad if I blurt that out.
"Well, congrats to the two of you. You have a mutual affection. I guess I'm not needed now."
I act like I'm turning towards the door.
"Hey wait Onoda. Where are you going?"
Good. She stopped me. That had me worried.
"What? I just told you, if you both like each other won't it be a happy ending if you confess to him now? You don't need to gather resolve anymore. Thus there's no point having me here now."
"I'm still afraid. Help me here Onoda. I can only turn to you."
"Ah. You're hopeless. You know I want you too Maemura. I'm not joking about that."
"Eh? Y-you're right. Sorry."
"Huh? Why are you saying sorry?"
"Well, you, you have to give up on me now, right?"
"I want you doesn't mean I want to date you. I'll concede you to Sakuma. He's my friend."
Ah. Using the friend card here. I'm a truly great friend. I'm thinking of inserting myself into their relationship now. I'll make Maemura mine.
"Y-you. You're really serious."
"Alright. I'll help you, Your highness. I just have one request. After that, you can forget everything I said."
Will I let her forget? Of course not. I'll make her mine. This hopelessly maiden in love.
"What is it? If I can, then I will."
"Let me kiss you."