The emptiness of the changing room wasn't such a unusual sight. Instances of trying to skip P.E classes back in middle school flashed through my mind like a bullet-train, not like I was trying to avoid anyone mind you. Being partnered with Zaimokuza by itself was a nightmare and one that has persisted through time. In being late, I always have an uneasy amount of happiness swell up inside me! Just the thought of poor Zaimokuza on his lonesome was enough to make me cry tears of joy!
But the thought of him joining the loner master-race was also a terrifying prospect so those joyful tears quickly turned to a silent weeping.
Ahh! No time for that! Gotta get this over and done with.
Blazers and ties lay all over the place in a disorganized fashion guaranteeing confusion with the guys. Considering our state of the changing room, I wonder if girls also left their bras and other various assortments of treasures lying around. Some Black Lacy material there, a neatly folded bra there and a pink-
Oh yeah, that reminds me...
My thoughts were luckily back on track shortly after derailing into forbidden territory. It was also by pure coincidence Yumiko Miura turned up in my head when I thought of particularly feminine colours. With Yumiko also came her request and with her request came explicit instructions. The type only espionage experts can be relied on.
Sadly, I had no cardboard box to hide in. Just my own form of stealth camo, Stealth Hikki. This special ability however only worked in crowds however and it proved ineffective inside interior environments such as this one.
Anyway, enough fooling around! The plan was deceptively simple. Slip the note in and run but as someone who's a veteran of being rejected, I note that they never turn up and instead stick with an army of friends for protection from creepy, vile creeps (I just happened to be in their list of suspects). The only option was to take away that choice and nothing was better then resorting to thieving.
Looking through Hayama's bag, I find the checklist of assorted school equipment. Books, pens, maths equipment, the works. I needed something much more personal, more important.
A sleek, metal device found it's way onto my fingertips and by pulling out, I had just what I needed.
His phone was the latest model and naturally the most expensive. It's sleek-white casing contrasted with my own barely comparable phone with greasy fingerprints that covered it entirely. Now to pawn it off somewhere...
Woah, sensei was right! I almost resorted to stealing but I just now prepped a counter-argument. One couldn't call it stealing now! It was just uninformed borrowing!
For right now though, this wasn't mine to borrow but for a certain infatuated maiden. Not that the phone was apart of the plan but it was the only kind of security measure we would need. Slipping the phone in my own pocket, I slipped the note detailing the time and place to meet and I walked back out with a future career choice in mind.
Burglary was easier then I thought.
"Yo, you hear? Someone took Hayama-sans phone."
"What? For real? That's pretty low."
"Must be real jealous of him, he's rich, charming, he's got everything huh?"
"You're sounding like you're the jealous one here. How can I be sure you're not the prime suspect eh?"
Because he's right next to you dumbass.
Not long after it was stolen, the whole class and perhaps even the school was in an uproar. If I had known otherwise, I wouldn't have even tried. If they find out, I'm sure they'll brandish knives and pitchforks. Luckily enough, all the uniform checks in the world wouldn't bring them any closer to finding it.
The object was hidden in a safe place no one would look. Funnily enough, Hayama was also hiding onto of something of his own possession no one knew about. Hayama being-well, Hayama stayed indifferent throughout the ordeal and kept that stitched on smile on his face.
Being the son of an influential family, the staff took it far more seriously. Riots in the classrooms, riots in the staff-rooms and Hiratsuka weeping in the corner.
Wait, that last bit was unrelated or wait, maybe it was actually.
Either way, the random thoughts in my brain wasn't doing such a great job in distracting me. Maybe by looking around, there would be something that would be perfect.
Despite all the groups gossiping about this new outrage, one group was surprisingly quieter then the rest. Namely Hayama's own little clique. The majority of which separated into their own respective little groups. The boys with no names "cheering" the ever smiling guy up and the girls making empty conversation knowing full well the thieving isn't as simple as it looks.
Miura looked restless and next to her, Yuigahama who had a more calming look of concern to her. In the short period of time I stared, fierce green olive orbs met my own gray ones kicking my survival instinct to full gear causing me to look away.
"Ahem, sit down. Now let's put this incident behind us for now until after this lesson. The school staff will get to the bottom of this but for now, your education requires your attention. Today, we will get started on arithmetic."
I never looked back for the remainder of the lesson.
Sliding the door of the club-room open, I was met with the absence of the omnipresent figure of this room. For once, book-worm-inoshita was nowhere to be seen and I for once, didn't find true solace in the absence of company.
I only had the stray thoughts and mild anxiety at the back of my mind to keep me occupied along with the thing at the heart of the ruckus. Proceeding to the back of the room, in the locker was the same missing phone keeping all sorts of secrets. Those same secrets I would wonder about sometimes, resisting the urge to just clarify somethings. A passing thought, a bothersome worry, just anything to find out some things.
The lock on his phone was expected and most likely filled with not only Haruno's playful, flirty messages but also anything belonging to her sister's...
Ignoring that line of thinking, I slipped it into my bag and brought out my book instead. The plan would hopefully be fail-safe. All Hayama has to do is wait in a certain classroom for his secret admirer to come in. Whatever answer he gives, he'll get his phone back and he leaves. Give or take.
I only read a scant few words before the door opened again.
"Hikigaya-kun? You're here unusually early." Her suspicions were absolutely founded though something told me that hitting expectations was too sad to be true.
"Aye, people are too loud. It was irritating." She narrowed her eyes though not in a mean way, I hope.
"And I'm sure you didn't have anything to do with that?" I detected a hint of concern in her voice, likely the result of my delusions or perhaps worse, my wishful thinking.
"Maybe? It depends on your sources."
"Straight from the horses mouth, it was you who stole it right?" Her voice held a mutuality to it. It was pleasing to the ears that I had done no wrong, at-least not given the context. I'm sure just keeping silent makes her feel dirty being the goddess of righteousness and all. I responded candidly.
"You know, it was something paved with good intentions and all. He'll get it back."
At a steady, refined pace, she packed her things on the table and sat down in her usual place. Book at the ready.
"Yeah but all he needs to do is say your name and you're expelled. The last thing we need is you burdening all the other girls at that other school, Sougou High."
"Yeah, I know. At this rate, Hayama will get ill due to Hikigerma. But yeah, lets hope he isn't a snitch."
We sat in an incomplete silence. The events of today still awkward in my mind, I hope that Yuigahama would get here sooner. The slide door opened again only this time, it was with far too much strength with a loud thud and in came Breastzilla.
In a voice too high for my tastes, she ran towards me and pointed her long, glittering fingernails towards me.
"I knew it was you! My woman's intuition is always right!" I didn't know what hurt me more. The fact her first thought was me being the lowly thief or the fact she was actually correct.
But wait, I borrowed it! So she's completely wrong!
"Stop doing that. Actually just stop assuming I'm the suspect here."
"For such a baseless assumption, you are actually correct Yuigahama."
Before the end of the conversation, I heard footsteps and the royal highness came in. Fierce and almighty, less then a little fair with her fury.
"You were meant to slip the note in. Not take his damn phone." I had expected this reaction. It was going according to protocol and in accordance, I repeat the same line I was mentally rehearsing beforehand.
"I needed to be sure he would actually show up. There was no name and also no reason to go. After you do what you need to do, you can give it back to him."
Her furious breaths lessened but her gritted teeth and scrunched eyebrows didn't betray her anger. In truth, I was scared shitless. So much so, my fists were clenched partly out of fear and instinct.
Eventually, she simmered down and replied in a meager tone. "I think I get what you mean but do something else next time."
"Next time?" Yukinoshita coldly asked.
"Y-yeah, it's too much of a bother right now. I can try again later. It's just too risky right now an-and I'm not sure if now's the right time." She only grew more eager as she grasped her cuffs in a hasty tone. Her voice was shaky and her previous confidence was severely lacking.
"Excuse me?" A follow-up for a cold retort, Yukinoshita made a rediculing stare. She continued.
"Are you saying you wasted our time?"
"Haah? Of course not but-"
"Then why give up at the end? There's been moral support, preparations and my club members personal reputation doing something stupid at stake here and you want all that to go to waste?"
"I see your point but there's no harm in doing it later." Being a proud girl, she argued to stand her ground. It was too bad her opponent was the ice queen of Sobu High herself.
"Do what you want. Postpone it, don't come running to us for help when graduation comes. Unlike this time, we will permanently decline your request for further support." She stated factually. The other girl slumped back down in defeat.
She had one ace in the hole however. Yuigahama standing behind her calmly patted her hand on her friend's shoulder relaxing her.
"Look Yumiko. It's better to ask now then never ask at all and regret not ever taking the chance. I want to see you happy believe me! But you and I know both know that won't be possible with the way its going right now..."
Yui's sincere, gentle smile almost warmed my heart and with Yumiko's eyes on the edge of tearing up, she quickly wiped them away before making a change of plans.
"Yui, you're right. I'll do it now, just be there for me every step of the way will you?"
She gave a large nod. "Sure thing, Miura."
She then looked towards the frosty girl at the far side of the table with her own nod of appreciation.
"Thanks to you too."
And finally, her eyes turned towards me. My hopes raised and I knew my efforts would not go unnoticed.
"Hikio, give me the phone."
Or maybe they do...
With the ongoing moral support from Yuigahama, Yumiko left the class and pursued her object of affection. If this was some sort of light novel, I was sure I'd be the useless supporting character who's fate it was to never end up with any girl of any sort. The fate of the expendable supporting guy is unavoidable.
Nevertheless, the advantage of being a supporting character was that they always avoided bad drama and in this case, Hayama Hayato's confession. The stilted silence of the club-room wasn't exactly adept for relaxing and the longer I stayed in here, the longer I kept thinking about it.
"Yo, I'm getting some coffee. You two want anything?"
"No, I'm fine Hikigaya-kun."
"N-nah, I'm not thirsty Hikki."
The question itself was a front-faced excuse for reconnaissance. I usually stayed as far away as I could from these sorts of things but now, I couldn't get rid of the sinking feeling residing in the deepest part of my gut. Even with that in mind however, I still couldn't stop my morbid curiosity taking over. I went outside and decided to loiter around in the corridors at a slow pace. Before I could make it to the classroom however, I saw a mop of beach-blonde hair on a sturdy man outside.
Hayama Hayato was apparently pretty early to be outside today. No Miura with him. Hayama alone outside. The pieces told the story itself. Still, there was the possibility Hayato could've at best, post-poned it. That was the best logical conclusion I could think off. It was obvious he would never accept but I needed to hear it, right from the source.
I took a brisk walk down the stairs resorting to the fast-loner wallk. A special technique used specially for escaping crowds to catch up to the man that attracts the most. The breeze of the wind outside did little to slow me down.
My voice sounded strangely light but I chalked it down to moving so quick.
"Oh, it's you." Hayama Hayato wore a cynical smile I had seen a hundred times before. Suffice to say, it was old, drawn out and tiresome. Disgustingly tiresome.
"What are you here for?" He gave me a challenging stare. I returned the favor with my own prodding one.
"So what'd you say?" I lick my lips in anticipation.
"What did you expect me to say?"
The answer in my own head was all I needed. Hayama then dropped the smile and replaced it with a cross stare. Something more refreshing to look at, letting me peek into the real Hayama Hayato hidden from the public.
He walked towards me and I brace myself for anything. A punch, kick or worse. He then continued to speak in a stern, deep voice. "Hikigaya. You had no fucking right. No right at all."
I could say I agreed with him but I still felt some kind of twisted satisfaction at the acknowledgement. He turned and walked away but not before one last thing.
"You know when news gets out, Miura won't be much good protection anymore right?"
I didn't receive a reply as my jab of a question was ignored instead. His mistake.
Annoyed, I went back inside. Back to a good calming drink to get and a soft warm bed to curl up in later on. Safe from the cold winds outside, I went back to fulfill my original directives. MAX won't drink itself and thus, fine loners like me were needed to keep the economy going after all. Making my way to the vending machines, a muffled sniffle, a quietened weeping was getting louder.
Resting against the vending machines laid a flowing fountain of blonde hair hunched down on the ground. Being alerted to my presence allowed a abnormally guilty feeling to wash over me.
"O-oh, it's you Hikio."
Trespassing on hunter's territory was risky, I have to be extremely careful.
"Sorry, Just was going to fetch a drink but..."
"Well you're here aren't cha?" As a threat and invitation in one, I hurriedly chose my beverage of choice out of the vending machine. The silence of the hallway interrupted by the clashes and bangs of the can being released from it's prison.
"You were rejected before weren't you? You must've tried to ask someone out before right?" Asking forcefully, I was compelled to argue back and refute her for against my better judgement.
My better judgement however was pretty solid and I complied. If anything could be of help then surely I could at least try.
"A long time ago, yeah."
"What was it like?"
A dull ache made it's unwelcome return in my chest. Something I thought I've done away with entirely but then again, mistakes can never be forgotten.
"It was pretty crushing but I eventually got over it."
As a charitable person though, A second set of bangs and clashes fell down the machine.
"Here you go."
Having spare money, I handed out her orange juice to her sat form. She gingerly reached out and took it after a glance with shiny, teary eyes I felt guilty just glancing at. I couldn't deny the masculine pride of the gesture as irrelevant as it was.
"Nah, no need. Just..."
I then thought back to the club-room. Of those two girls I left behind for longer then usual. For now though, it wasn't the best time or place.
"Not right now but Yuigahama is there for you. And Ebina too."
"I know that idiot."
O-oh right. Sure, being treated harshly by women is a Hikigaya trait for sure. Pops has the worst genes by far.
"Right, well. Get better soon I guess..."
With her silence as my answer, I scurried away like a mouse leaving her to weep by herself.