Chapter 11: Things to be Unraveled
Okay, I’m fine with that.
Then, excuse me.”
It was after school on Thursday, the day before the class gathering.
Normally, I would have had a part-time job today, but I was consulted by the manager of my part-time job about adjusting my shift.
The girl who had a shift on Saturday had an appointment that she just couldn’t miss.
Therefore, instead of taking Saturday off, it was decided that the person would work a part-time job today, Thursday.
I took Saturday off and was originally supposed to leave for a part-time job today, Thursday.
However, after some adjustments, she asked me if we could swap shifts, and I agreed.
I know I said a lot of things, but in short, I was no longer scheduled for my part-time job today.
Instead, I would be out on Saturday, but that was fine with me.
The problem was that I have a lot of free time on my hands.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.
Sorry for making you wait.
I was just going to return a textbook to the next class, but a girl grabbed me and…wait, Kouta.
You look kind of bored.
Could it be that your part-time job shift has been adjusted?”
“Are you going to be a great detective in the future?”
“I’m thinking that might not be a bad idea.”
Natsuki, who jokingly laughed about it, amazes me every time with the sharpness of this childhood friend.
“It’s just as you said, great detective.
My shift has been adjusted, and now I have a whole lot of free time.”
“Well, well, well, let’s go somewhere and have fun together then.”
I’m not busy.”
“Really? It’s been a while since I’ve been out with Kouta.
Let’s go to the arcade.
Just today is the day that a new character is added to that game we always play.”
“Let’s go, then.”
And just as I got up from my seat, the classroom door opened and a teacher entered.
“Oh, there are still some students left.
Well……all of you who are left in this classroom right now, I’m sorry to bother you out of the blue, but I need a little help.
I’m going to need you to move some old desks and chairs.
……Well, of course, it’s not mandatory, but we’d appreciate it if you’d give us a hand.”
Though it was not compulsory, if you ignored them and left without doing anything here, it would not make a good impression on the teachers.
In effect, it was like a compulsion.
My classmates who happened to remain in the classroom felt the same way as I did, and no one left, though they looked reluctant to leave.
……and also by coincidence.
Among those who remained in the classroom was Kazemiya.
Then come with me.”
We, the poor go-home club members, followed the teacher, lamenting our misfortunes.
It’s too bad because it’s a rare chance to hang out with Kouta after school.”
“Well, we don’t have a choice.
Besides, it’s not a loss to do this kind of thing.
It’s more constructive to think of it as a gain of a few extra points.”
“I remember Kouta taking the initiative in accepting requests from teachers like this.”
“I wanted to earn as many points as possible, and I didn’t want my mother to get a bad reputation.
For me, it’s a win-win event.”
I had always taken the initiative to take on these things in order to avoid people around me and teachers saying that I was not raised well because I was from a single-mother family and that my mother’s education was not good…….
Mom got remarried, so I guess I don’t have to take the initiative on these things anymore)
Mom had already remarried.
I now had a new family.
However, I still hadn’t gotten rid of the habits I had when I lived with my mother.
I had not yet adapted to my new family, my new home.
It was very troublesome for me to be confronted with this fact at such a casual moment, and I felt like a troublesome person myself.
“I need you to take all the old desks and chairs in this classroom outside to the back of the school building.
I’m sorry, but I’m counting on you.”
The empty classroom to which we were led was crammed with rusted and outdated desks and chairs.
At a cursory glance, there were enough desks and chairs for two classes.
All this to behind the school building……is going to be a painful process.”
“I agree with you completely, but now that we’ve taken on the job, we have to do it.”
I could very well understand the feeling of wanting to complain.
I told Natsuki we had no choice but to do it, but I felt like complaining in general.
However, complaining here wouldn’t make the pile of desks and chairs go away.
And fortunately or unfortunately, the act of killing time was a welcome one for me, and the reason for “helping the teacher” was a very good one.
It was a more wholesome reason than lingering at the family restaurant, and my stepsister, who was a class president type, would have nothing to criticize me for it.
I, probably the most highly motivated (even if only by the height of an acorn) of all the students present, took the lead into the ancient castle of towering desks and chairs.
“Well, I guess that’s something to be expected.”
Shrugging his shoulders, Natsuki also got to work, and seeing this, the other classmates around him followed suit as if they had no choice.
Among them was Kazemiya.
There were only enough desks and chairs for two classes, and there were only a small number of the go-home club members who just happened to be staying in the classroom.
It was obvious that it would take time.
Was that why they became impatient?
“Stop being so lazy.
You can’t carry that much.”
“I’ll be fine.
Besides, I want to get this over with as soon as possible.”
One of my female classmates was trying to move with a large number of chairs in her arms.
Her muscular strength was not up to the weight, and her steps were unsteady and dangerous to watch.
Sure enough, I should say.
The girl lost her balance when her foot got caught in a chair.
I was prepared in advance, and before I could move—a girl supported the girl who was about to fall.
The body of the female classmate cowered slightly.
Kazemiya Kohaku’s behavior in the classroom was, simply put, intimidating to those around her.
From the perspective of those who didn’t know the circumstances, that reaction was–sadly– natural.
“……are you ok?”
“Eh? I-I’m fine, but…”
“Well, you can’t carry all that much.”
As she said this, Kazemiya took back half of the chairs from her female classmate.
“I’ll carry half of it.
The rest, just take it a little at a time, and be careful carrying it.”
I was not the only one who saw the exchange.
All the other classmates in the room were watching, and all of them were surprised.
The person that everyone knew as Kazemiya Kohaku in the classroom was overbearing and rejecting others.
Even to the prince of the school, Sawada.
I doubt she had ever shown such a soft demeanor before.
I didn’t know how it was last year, but at least not during the second year.
It was a surprise to me, as someone who knew Kazemiya’s situation.
That attitude must have been her own way of defending herself, but now she had let go of that self-defense.
Despite such a small incident (?), the work proceeded without further trouble.
And by the time everything was finished, the area was enveloped in a fiery sunset.
“Ooh, good job.
Thank you so much for your help.”
“Teacher~ are you here yet~?”
Natsuki’s words seemed to speak for all of the classmates’ presents, and the teacher, with a wry smile, held up a small supermarket bag in his hand.
“I feel bad.
I’ve bought you some juice and sweets in exchange.
You can eat whatever you like.”
“Yes! You know what you’re doing, teacher!”
Classmates, who had overcome this hardship together, were excited by the juices and sweets that he must have bought with his own money at a convenience store.
“Kouta is melon soda, right? Here you go.”
“I think most of them have already received it.
I think the only person who hasn’t received it is……Kazemiya-san.”
Natsuki gave a carefree look to Kazemiya, who was leaning against the wall of the school building outside of the group.
This kind of unobtrusive approach to everyone was one of the things I respected about Natsuki.
“Kazemiya-saan, do you have anything you want to drink? Seems like the teacher bought a lot of drinks.
We have a lot left over.”
The juice had already gone to almost everyone, but there was still a variety left.
Orange juice and lemon soda.
Water, tea, coffee, and tea……
“Black tea right, Kazemiya? Here.”
Suddenly, I picked up a cup of tea that caught my eye and tossed it straight to Kazemiya.
Kazemiya’s eyes widened in surprise for some reason, then she caught the tea.
“Hm? What’s wrong Natsuki.”
Around the time Natsuki was about to say something—
Thank you for earlier…….”
A girl who had just almost fallen down with a large number of chairs was talking to Kazemiya with awkward movements.
“I just happened to be nearby.”
“S-still, thank you…or rather, I’m sorry.
It seems that I misunderstood you, Kazemiya-san.
Somehow, I thought you were more unapproachable…and there are also rumors…ah…”
The girl turned pale as she slipped up about the rumor right in front of her.
However, Kazemiya did not seem to be bothered by it.
“That’s, I-I’m sorry…!”
“It’s fine, I don’t care.
I know I’ve had a bad attitude……or whatever that rumor is about.”
“That’s because……is a misunderstanding.”
“I’m not playing around at night, I’m just killing time at the restaurant and I don’t socialize with people who……aren’t very nice.
It was probably just because someone saw me being scouted by some fancy-dressed entertainment agency guy.
I turned that down too…….”
She proceeded to give the same explanation that she gave me yesterday.
“So……that…… It’s just a misunderstanding, that’s all.”
A rumor she dared to leave aside.
The protective gear for self-defense.
Now it was being unraveled in front of our eyes.
—You know, Narumi.
Do you hate the fact that there are rumors about me?
—I never liked those rumors in the first place, and now that I’m friends with Kazemiya, I just don’t like them anymore.
I understand that it’s self-defense for you, so I’ll try to be patient from now on.
I recalled the last conversation I had with Kazemiya at a family restaurant yesterday.
What exactly did she “get it”?
It was as if she answered the question I had in my mind.
It felt that way.
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