Arata walked to school as he normally did with Yuriko, still stuck on what Hifumi told him yesterday. There was no way that girl was right in her assessment. Surely, no one other than himself could understand how the boy was truly feeling. Let alone that he had fallen in love with anyone. Perhaps it was because that girl was paying too much attention to him due to her feelings that gave her arrogance into believing to know exactly what he was thinking.
"I swear, you really need to fix that dumb look when you're thinking too hard." Apparently they all were aware of when he was deep in thought. Yuriko glared at him knowing that this was going to entail something she wasn't going to like. "I heard about what happened to Ichiri yesterday, things will be fine, right?"
"I already talked to her with the others yesterday." He assured her things were going to be fine. "It's just that…" The boy hesitated in telling her about Hifumi's words to him. Knowing how this girl felt about him made him want to hold back just in case.
"I can tell where this is going." She instead took the conversation under her control. "Don't worry about me, I can handle some heart break."
"Yuriko…" He was stunned to see her accept her fate so easily. Did they all see what he was blind to this entire time? What was he not seeing that they all already knew about.
"Just go." She told him as they reached the school ground. "You promised you'd see her today too, right?" It was clear who she was referring to here. Yet another thing that made the boy bewildered about her knowledge of the situation. Did someone tell her, or did she just make a good assumption based on the facts?
"I… Okay." There were tears forming in her tears. Perhaps a part of the reason she wanted him to leave was so he wouldn't have to see her crying. This wasn't how anyone wanted to spend their morning, but perhaps it was a necessity given the delicate nature of their lives.
So Arata went inside to get himself ready for classes. Though more importantly as he put on his shoes, there was someone else he needed to be looking for. Where was Ichiri? They made that promise together, so there would be no way she'd consider skipping out today. Which is why he was diligent in paying attention to the lobby area, specifically at her locker to see the girl arrive. It nearly made him seem like a creep, stalking a young, cute high school girl.
But his efforts would pay off as she finally arrived and began getting herself prepared for classes as well. "So, I'm glad to see you're here." Arata greeted her.
"Ah, it's great to see you first thing in the morning." She sounded rather proud of herself. He was glad to hear that she was back to her normal self now a day removed from the incident. Though this didn't mean it was an incident that other student were ignoring. There were murmurs of what happened going on around them, now that the girl had shown her face here.
Some of the students were trying to be quiet, but their words were clear to them all. There were even some stifled giggles in terms of the subject matter of her panties. As much as he wished she couldn't hear them, and that he could put the fact that those murmurs were heard by him thanks to good hearing. The look on Ichiri's face proved to him that she was aware of the discussions of the day.
"Hey, chin up." He tried to make her feel better. "No one's making fun of you to your face, and I'm sure this will all blow over in a couple of days." After some experience in revealing his true passions, the boy understood how people here worked. Admittedly, it seemed that he was being way too paranoid about hiding that he was an otaku. He reality was more that Arata was just using it as an excuse to not have to try and get to know people.
"I know." She nervously played with her hands as they talked. He directed her away from the lobby and made their way to her classroom. "I'm trying to be brave, because I want you to be proud of me."
"That's an interesting thing to want out of someone in the same grade as you." Even though they did refer to each other with their age difference in mind, he wasn't actually her senior in school. If anything, he should be more impressed with a girl who had skipped a grade in school. Well, at least she was getting that out of him.
"You've always tried to help me out, give me advice when I'm feeling low." This was the real reason why she viewed him as this over anyone else who were second years. The boy really did appear to be a mentor over her. "I just don't want you to think you're wasting your time on me, so I try and get better every day."
"That's really nice of you to say." Now it was his turn to feel self conscious. What was this feeling he was getting in his heart? She had said things like this before, but it somehow felt different to him. Was it because of what Hifumi and Yuriko said to him earlier? They had meant Ichiri was the girl he liked?
Well, sure he was cool with her as a friend. The girl was kind, even if a bit egotistical. Though, that was partially because she wanted to make him happy. Honestly, it was nice to see someone put so much effort just for his affections in the manner she did it in. Even before she liked him as a boy, she was someone who wanted to be a good person thanks to him.
"Well, here's my class." She meekly walked inside, beckoning him to follow. This was where she was most afraid to be. Everyone here most likely heard about what happened yesterday with her. The worst part of it being that she'd have to be stuck in here with them for the whole day, dreading when someone would bring it up. Being ostracized by them gave her the fear of being trapped with nowhere to go. "I sit right there."
"Looks like it's a good spot for learning." He was bad at knowing what to say here as they walked over to the seat. "There's still some time before class start. So could you… Stay here with me until it's time for you to go?" Ichiri wanted to milk as much time with him as possible to try and avoid having to confront being alone.
"Thank you." She was glad that someone like him was always around her. Though, how could one expect that for long given their current relationship. "I'm really glad that even though you know how I feel, you haven't changed the way you act around me."
"Yeah, I guess I haven't." When she brought it up like that, it did make him wonder if he did that with the other girls. That was something he never took much note of given there were other things worth concern. "Though I didn't think that would be a good thing." Wouldn't that indicate how he had never viewed her as a girl?
"Because it's nice that you're still the boy I grew to like so much." She explained herself. "But, maybe I just can't grow to be the girl you like."
"Ichiri…" He stood there, as other students of her class walked inside and headed for their desks. This girl really wanted to get him to like her. Some might view it as a little pitiful, yet at the same time also it filled him with warmth. She was trying really hard, which meant a lot to him. Yet at the same time, it made him wonder what exactly she would have to do to make him like her?
Or maybe, there wasn't much in terms of changing who she was. Ichiri was a wonderful girl, but it was her personality, while at times a bit overbearing to him and everyone around them, that brought them closer. There really was something he had been blind to for far too long now. Her confession might've blindsided him and the boy was unable to properly consider his feelings for her at that time. "I…"
"What are you doing?" Now that he had thought about it deeply, those feelings were always there. Arata bent down over to her face while she sat at her desk. "Hey, we're in class…" She was nearly knocked speechless from his actions. A part of her… No, most of her wanted him to keep going.
"I think, you're already the girl I like." With that, Arata leaned in for a kiss on Ichiri. This sight wasn't lost on her classmates, as one of them spoke out and drew attention to it.
"Whoa, I didn't realize Susaki had a boyfriend." Someone spoke out. The others began to talk about it as they witnessed him giving the girl a romantic kiss. Well, if she wanted a way for people to forget about her embarrassing incident, then this was a successful way of pulling it off.
Though, with this becoming a bit of the talk of the school. It was only a matter of time before the rest of their friends heard about this.
"Arata. I, uh, I wasn't expecting my senior to be so bold." There seemed to be a turn of the tables as she was now the shy one in their relationship. Quickly though, she was able to capture her usual behavior once more. "I see my charm has finally seduced you."
"Heh, sure." He chuckled, smiling at you. "But the truth is…" Arata took one of her hands gently. "There's more to your charm than you realize."