There is one certain truth most people acknowledge as they grow up: our world is way more chaotic than we'd like. No matter how much we strive to organize it, the world just laughs at us and continues carrying out its own sophisticated schemes.
Sometimes the schemes are tricky, almost wickedly malevolent. Other times they are more good-natured, although still tricky.
Always looking for some good laughs, our world.
The trigger to the world's next such scheme may be very trivial. Like bumping into someone in the street. Or getting a mail dropped into your mailbox by accident. Or-
"Hey guys, did you know there's some box under those desks? Like, in the farthest corner?"
Or one Yui Yuigahama dropping her pen, crawling down to reach it and announcing that there was some box under that pile of spare desks in our clubroom. Like, in the farthest corner.
That was quite unexpected. So unexpected, in fact, that I put my book away and looked at Yuigahama with mild wonder. So did Yukinoshita.
"Go check yourself."
Curious, I kneeled down and looked under the desks. And what do you know, there really was a brown leather box roughly the size of a medkit. The box had round edges and a neat handle on the top.
"That certainly is a nice box," Yukinoshita noted.
"Yukinon, did you know anything about it?" Yuigahama asked.
Yukinoshita in turn looked at her with bewilderment. "No, not at all. When I got this room, checking out every corner and especially reaching under the desks wasn't exactly my top priority. It wouldn't be exactly anyone's top priority, mind you."
"Anyway, I suggest we leave it be," I said. "Don't really want to move those desks."
"Or crawl into those piles of dust, for that matter," Yukinoshita added.
Yuigahama cutely pouted.
"Oh come oon, there's, like, a treasure chest and you're not interested at all?"
"Not in the slightest."
Our resolve was starting to fade, though.
One more chunk of resolve floated away like an iceberg from Antarctic ice shield.
I think we could have held our defence for quite some time, but then came the overkill move. Yuigahama raised on her tiptoes, made wide eyes and said:
I was certain she didn't watch late-night anime before…
Well, late-night anime or not, our resolve evaporated. Neither me nor Yukinoshita simply couldn't resist her in such cases.
"Okay, okay," I resigned, "we'll do it. We only have to decide how."
"Disassembling that barricade will take at least a week, and you know that both me and Yuigahama-san are of not much help," Yukinoshita remarked. "I suppose someone will have to crawl there."
"Thanks for consideration. And since you both are smaller than me, I guess it's one of you."
"True. Though I'm honestly afraid of letting Yuigahama-san do it, because we'll have to dig her up from the debris at some point." I saw Yuigahama pouting again behind her. "All right, I'll do that."
And so we decided to do a Yukinoshita crawl. Which is kinda like Moogle throw, only with Yukinoshita and crawl.
Going to the gym and fetching Yukinoshita's sports uniform took about ten minutes. Changing took five more. I politely exited the room as usual, though her quiet "thank you" without any hint of sarcasm was a nice added bonus. And lastly, after another two minutes of worriedly watching our president's dangerous maneuvers between the desks' legs, we finally dragged very dusty and very sneezy Yukinoshita out, along with mysterious box.
If I'd shown her like this to her fangirls, they'd have died from shock. Probably not before lynching me and Yuigahama first.
"Whoa, thanks, Yukinon! We owe you!" Yuigahama excitedly said while helping Yukinoshita dust off.
"I suppose you do. I'll consider the reward," Yukinoshita dryly replied, though the effect was spoiled by yet another sneeze. They just can't let you look serious, those pesky sneezes.
Side note: Yukinoshita is a cute sneezer. At these moments she looks a lot like Kamakura, even down to briefly shaking her head after every other sneeze. Though I don't think I'll ever tell her that. I mean, I don't even know what she'd death-glare me for: saying "Yukinoshita" and "cute" in one sentence or making up the definition.
Meanwhile I approached the box, opened it and peeked in.
The contents were strange by any means: pile of photos and a stack of papers. As I was laying them one by one on our "conference" desk, the girls finished cleaning and came over.
"Hey, isn't that… Hiratsuka-sensei?!"
And Hiratsuka-sensei it was. In jeans and Hawaiian shirt, with that never-changing mane of gorgeous black hair, occasionally with a cigarette in teeth. And always smiling. Easily more smiles than I've seen from her this year combined.
Accompanying her on all photos was a tall broad-shouldered man with a thick trimmed beard, wild black hair and that million-dollar smile I've only seen in magazines. He was clad in the same jeans and Hawaiian shirt. They, what, bought them from the same vendor? And he seemed very close to Sensei. Like really close. Like "hugging her waist without any Sensei's attempts to beat him up" close. Or "stroking her hair without any Sensei's attempts to beat him up" close... You get the picture.
Strangest of all, though, were the backgrounds of the photos. It was either ramen restaurants (and quite a lot of them) or kitchens with what looked suspiciously like ramen equipment. Not that it was really surprising, knowing Sensei and all.
"I'm surprised and amazed at the same time," Yukinoshita noted, "It seems Hiratsuka-sensei' love life does exist after all."
"Yukinon, that was too harsh. We should congratulate her or something."
"Yeah, right. Maybe we even won't get beaten up for that," I remarked.
"I suppose there is still an option to use you for that, since you're experienced in dealing with Hiratsuka-sensei's, shall I say, anger management issues."
"Oh, is that how much you value me? For your info, she may come back to destroy the evidence along with the witnesses. She knows how to do that, she watched Golgo and all the Statham movies... Among other things."
Yukinoshita thoughtfully rubbed her chin.
"Yes, now that I think about it, it's definitely not an option."
"So you changed your mind only after facing potential death threat? Show some damn empathy for your fellow club member."
"Why, I did show it. I was worried about Yuigahama-san's well-being here."
"You know what I mean. At least pretend to."
She made an over-the-top sigh and wiped a nonexistent tear with her finger.
"Oh, Hikigaya-kun. I'm so sad when I think of your future sacrifice. I shall promise you it will not go in vain."
"What is it now, 'Gone With The Wind' or what? And I'm not convinced anyway."
The answer to that was just a brief cheeky smile. So much for trying to win the argument. Not that I would complain, though.
"Hikki? Yukinon?" Yuigahama tried to draw our attention. She was pointing to pieces of paper I left out earlier. "Check it out, those are recipes."
I took one of the pieces.
"Hm. Pig trotters, pork bones, chicken bones, garlic, sesame oil..."
"Almost the same here," Yukinoshita replied, reading her piece, "Looks like it's all recipes for some kind of stock."
"Ramen stock, yeah. Don't know why it had to be kept along with those pho-"
At this moment I heard a door sliding open and familiar heels clicking on the floor.
"Heya, how's it going- what the?!"
The world and its tricky schemes, remember? I'd do exactly the same if I were in it's place.
I slowly turned back and saw Hiratsuka-sensei. Her eyes were wide, and her mouth was constantly moving as if she tried to say something.
Yukinoshita made a long sigh: "Sensei, I told you many times to knock. Why won't you listen?"
Sensei in turn finally closed her mouth and shifted her wild look to her.
"Wha- How- W-Where did you get that?!"
"Those were in that box under the desks. We accidentally found it and decided to check. We sincerely apologize for peeking and promise to keep it secret." Calm, composed and looking straight in the eye. That's Yukinoshita for you. If it'd been me, the bloody murder would have occurred on the fourth word. Probably. I'm not totally sure about the exact number.
Hiratsuka-sensei finally calmed down and straightened her hair with both hands.
"Ah… Nevermind… Doesn't matter", she murmured, then approached the table and gently stroked one of the photos with a nostalgic smile. "Was so long ago and not for kids' ears anyway. It's between me and Kenji, and I can't bring the old times back."
So his name's Kenji. The most useful information in the Universe right now.
"Sensei, what's with those recipes?" I decided to ask.
"Reci- oh damn, I missed those!" She eagerly snatched the piece of paper from my hand. "That's what we got when we we experimenting together. The best, almost perfect stocks. Take this one, for example. Imagine a restaurant in the middle of nowhere somewhere on Okinawa. All we got was some-"
"There's something scribbled on the back side," Yuigahama suddenly said.
"Yuigahama, didn't your parents teach you not to interfere?" Sensei said, clearly irritated. Still, she turned the piece over. "Here I am trying to tell you a cool story and all-"
Then her eyes widened and she dashed out of the clubroom almost faster than a speeding bullet. All in the span of five seconds or so. We were left with silence and a piece of paper slowly soaring to the ground.
"What was that?" I finally asked, dumbfounded.
Yukinoshita reached the dropped piece and read it aloud.
"'Miniyon build, floor one, five-five-one Roppongi Minato-ku, Tokyo. September 30th. I'll wait every year.' That explains a lot. I wonder what's with this address, though."
"That's Tenka Ippin in Roppongi, and 30th is tomorrow. I suppose he'll wait her there." I tiredly replied. Previous events were akin to a hostage situation that just suddenly resolved itself, so I naturally felt a bit exhausted. Too many danger per minute. Give me a break.
"Wonder if Sensei's gonna be alright," Yuigahama said.
"We brought the horse to a water, Yuigahama-san," Yukinoshita answered, "Drinking is very certainly not up to us."
"Hmmm… Does it make for a club's solved case? I think I even got the right sticker."
"That again? People already come to see our club plate like it's some museum exhibit, you know that?"
"Hikki, you make it sound a bad thing."
"Oh jeez… By the way, Yukinoshita, thanks for earlier, I guess."
"You're welcome. I decided this wasn't the right time to sacrifice you." My frown was countered by another smile. Not fair. "And while we're on the subject, Yuigahama-san, I'd like to remind you about the reward."
"Ah, sure, Yukinon! How about we go to a nice cafe? I'll treat, it all started because fo me and all."
"I don't mind. Hikigaya-kun, you?"
"I don't mind either."
"Then it's settled."
A/N: I was proofreading my previous story, and this silly little idea came on my mind. Too much green tea at 1 AM will do that to you, I guess.