Chapter 3: Enjoy The Ride
Author's Note: Sorry for the long wait for an update! Good news is that this is a nice, long chapter! Enjoy!
"Do you have any idea where you are going?!" I cried as I followed this Seta guy around in circles.
"I've been a researcher here for a few years now! I know my way to the office bit," Seta said with a laugh as he took out another cigarette.
"You can't smoke in here!" I said, absolutely stunned by what was either the sheer indifference or idiocy this man displayed.
"Huh? Oh yeah! I should know that, shouldn't I?"
I couldn't hold in my sheer frustration. This man who was apparently a PhD recipient from this university didn't even know that he couldn't smoke indoors!
"Can we just go to the school office so I can hand in my place confirmation?!" I yelled.
"Yeah, sure, hold on. Let me just get my bearings," Seta replied, looking around while scratching the top of his head. "Let me see, we're in the history department so the office should be nowhere near here."
I collapsed on the ground in complete exasperation. This man had no clue about anything. "HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW YOUR OWN UNIVERSITY?!" I cried, almost brought to tears by frustration.
"No need to be like that!" Seta said with a laugh. "You take things pretty seriously for someone about to go into university!"
There was no point retorting. He would probably just laugh at me again. And for the record, I think this Seta doesn't take things seriously enough for being a member of staff at this university! "Listen son, just take a deep breath and relax. You might enjoy things more that way," Seta said as he finally began walking in a coherent manner and direction.
I took his advice, took a deep breath and said, "Sorry, things are a bit complicated in my life."
"You're too young to have a complicated life!" Seta laughed. "I mean, how old are you? 17? 18?"
"20," I replied sheepishly.
"Really? You look a bit young for your age!" said Seta. Well, I guess that was a compliment from him. "So what's making things so complicated if you don't mind me asking?" Seta inquired.
"Something to do with entrance exams and a girl," I replied.
"A friend of yours didn't get in, huh?" Seta said.
"How did you…?"
"Tokyo University's a tough place to get accepted into. I've heard this story often."
"Well, the thing is, she was first in the national prep school exams and everything. She was a sure bet to get in but somehow didn't. I was near stone cold last in the ranking yet by some miracle, I got in," I explained to a man I barely knew and felt like maiming just a few moments ago.
"She obviously let nerves get the better of her," Seta noted.
"That's not the last of it. She feels really bad about it and because I got in, I think it makes her feel even worse," I pointed out. "She always called me an idiot when we were studying together so this must have really got to her. Ah, crap, what a mess."
"You win some, you lose some. The most you can do is encourage her to try her best for next year's exams," Seta said.
"I guess so. I doubt it'll make her feel any better," I said with a sigh.
"You can only do her best and so can she," said Seta, "so you might as well enjoy the ride."
I looked up at the man and for someone I took for a complete moron and numbskull was actually quite a cool guy. "Here we are, the university main office," Seta said. I was taken aback when he spoke. I hadn't realised that we had made it all the way here. I moved up to the counter and handed my place confirmation over and that was that. "Oh well, that's all that I came here to do," I said.
"Are you heading back?" Seta asked.
"Yeah, I guess so," I replied.
"Well it was good to meet you Keitaro. I might see you in a lecture or two," Seta said with a smile.
"Sounds good. What do you teach?" I asked.
"Well, my PhD is in archaeology so you'll usually find me teaching that. I occasionally take the odd ancient history class as well," Seta answered.
"I'll see you there, then," I said before leaving Seta and Tokyo University behind for now.
He was crazy, admittedly, but he seemed a cool and nice guy. I could almost forgive him for nearly killing me. Almost. I did value my life quite highly, even if I've never achieved much with it. I walked out of Tokyo University's Hongo campus and out onto the streets, heading for the bus station. Maybe now would be a good time to learn how to drive in the months before I start university. That way I wouldn't be at the mercy of public transport, as good or efficient as it was. Then again, I could never afford a car or afford to run it at the moment. The economy is doing badly these days anyways.
On the way to the bus, I walked past a book store and I saw Motoko of all people walk out of it. I waved to her and she raised her hand to about her shoulder height, making the least possible effort to acknowledge me. "Hi Motoko," I said once I got to her. "Buying books?"
"For academic, matters, yes," she replied, rather formally. "Are you heading home now?"
"Yeah," I replied.
"Good. I'll come with you then," she said.
The two of us walked to the bus stop and sat down to wait for the next bus which was in five minutes or so. "So, what books did you buy?" I asked.
"University guides," Motoko replied. "Next year, I'll have to seriously consider it so I was planning ahead."
"Oh, okay. Thinking of anywhere in particular?" I said.
"Anywhere but Kyoto," Motoko replied.
"Really? Why?" I asked, trying to keep this rare conversation between Motoko and I going for as long as possible as to avoid any chance of a beating.
"Don't ask," Motoko said with a grimace on her face. "Actually, Tokyo University is a possibility, although I would have to work hard at it."
"Yeah. I was just handing in my place confirmation there actually," I pointed out.
"So you're actually going?" Motoko inquired.
"Actually going? Well, yeah, there's no point in passing the exam and not going. I got in so I'll go. There's no better university in the country."
"Mitsune and I believed you would get cold feet over the whole Naru issue."
"To be honest, I almost did. I considered deferring my entry for a year simply to make her feel better. But I didn't."
Motoko smiled and said, "Good for you. Naru will pick herself up, I'm sure of it. All of us were just hoping that you didn't do something moronic like you usually do and thankfully you didn't."
If this was Motoko's skewed version of a compliment, I'd gladly take it. "Have you seen Naru around, speaking of her?" I asked next.
"No, I left Hinata-Sou shortly after you did," Motoko replied. "She'll be fine. Probably sleeping off that hangover."
"I guess so," I said, neglecting to point out that Naru had been awake since 6 that morning. Then again, she could have easily gone back to bed. You don't experience a hangover if you're not conscious. A moment of silence passed and my worst fear had come true. All communications had ceased, which meant that Motoko could hit me in the face for no reason whatsoever, probably to fill her desire to cause me great pain.
Instead, she asked, "So how does it feel to be a Tokyo University student then?"
"How does it feel? Well…I won't know for sure just yet but I met a man today who had me worried about it all," I said.
"Yeah, he was an archaeology PhD. He was crazy and almost ran me over," I pointed out.
"He…almost ran you over?" Motoko asked, a bit more surprised about the whole thing than I was.
"Yeah," I replied before yawning.
"Keitaro…you should probably contact the police about that," Motoko said.
I briefly turned to face Motoko before chuckling. "Nah, there's no need. Turns out he's a pretty cool guy," I said.
"I don't quite understand the connection between nearly running you over and being a cool guy," said Motoko.
"Well, after walking around in circles and trying to light a cigarette indoors which drove me insane, he finally started walking in the right direction and we started talking," I explained.
"Right direction to where?" Motoko asked.
"Oh, right, I forget to tell you that part. I couldn't find the main office to hand my confirmation in so I asked him for directions," I replied.
"Okay, I get it now," Motoko said. "I still can't believe you let him nearly run you over."
"I didn't let him!" I cried.
"Well, you forgave him far too easily."
"Maybe I'm a pushover?"
"That sounds about right."
"You're not meant to agree with me!"
Motoko laughed and said, "You're an idiot. Here's the bus." I sighed and followed her on with my head hung low. I guess I'm really only on this planet for the comic relief of others.
The two of us arrived back at the Hinata Inn and I was 'greeted' by Su as soon as I got through the door. Now that I had a bruised cheek from Su's flying kick, I went about some chores, mainly to do with the preparation of lunch. Thankfully for myself, Mitsune wasn't there to slave drive me so I went about at my own pace. I helped Shinobu out in the kitchen as well to pass the time to make sure I served my time to the fullest. Once Shinobu had told me to go away because I 'had done enough already', I went to my room, collapsed backwards onto my bed and blew a deep sigh. I couldn't quite get over the fact that I was now officially a Toudai student. That unattainable dream of mine was now a fathomable reality and it was only all hitting me now. I sat myself up and found myself bursting to the seams with excitement. I raised my arms in the air and collapsed back down on the bed. This weird euphoria was a pleasant experience and I wouldn't mind feeling like this for the weeks to come.
Yet there was a niggling feeling in the back of my mind. I was meant to meet the girl of my promise once I got into Toudai yet there was no such indication. I guess it was a stupid amount of years ago and I did fail twice. Maybe this promised girl had already gotten in and was two years into her course. That would make the whole, 'hey, we promised to get in together' routine seem a bit redundant. Two years into university meant that this promised girl might already be in a serious relationship, possibly finding the man that she wanted to marry. Looking at it that way, my hopes seemed to be dashed. She could still be single, but what's a third year student want from a twice-failed social reject like me? Maybe my dream was dead.
Other than that I was happy! I was in Tokyo University! Things couldn't have been better!
I heard a knocking from the ceiling that only meant one thing. "Keitaro, are you in your room?" asked Naru from hole in the ceiling which was currently covered by a wooden board on her floor.
"Yeah," I replied, not bothering to move.
Naru moved the board and popped her head through the hole. Then her head popped straight back up. I found this a bit odd. Why would she ask if I was in my room just to pop her head through the floor and run off? I got up from my bed and walked up to the hole. When I looked up through it, I saw up Naru's skirt. That is, for a very brief moment. That up-skirt view seemed to grow in size which was, in reality, Naru falling down through the hole. It was quick and painful. I ended up lying face down on the ground with Naru's butt right on top of the back of my head. Naru's expected reaction to this incredibly surreal situation was somewhat delayed. Give it a moment. One. Two. Three…
"YOU MORON!" Naru cried as she got up and kicked me across the room. I rocketed up to the ceiling, bounced off of it and crashed into the floor, resulting in excruciating agony in all the bones in my body, all of which I assumed to be broken. "Sorry…" I said, trying to get up and managing somehow. I expected to see bones poking through my skin but there was nothing apart from a few cuts and bruises. I wondered how I ever managed to survive the thumps I get sometimes. "Jeez, could you not tell I was going to pop down through the hole?!" Naru cried, still incredibly peeved at me."
"No," I said sheepishly. "Sorry again."
"It's okay. Maybe I should say sorry. I should probably treat you differently now, with you being a Tokyo University student and all," Naru said with a sigh.
"I'm not a student just yet," I pointed out.
"Didn't you hand in your confirmation?" Naru asked with a look of worry quickly enveloping her face.
"No, I handed it in," I replied. "I'm just not quite a student yet though."
"Oh, I see," Naru said. "Well, I'm glad you did. You worked hard for it."
"Thanks," I said, not quite knowing what else to say, really. This felt kind of awkward for me.
"Anyway, the reason I came down wasn't to kick you, but to apologise for being a blubbering idiot this morning," Naru said.
"No, it's okay…you…well…uh, you just…"
"I know, I had a lot on my mind. Still, I'm not worth your troubles," Naru said with a weak smile.
I wanted to say that she was. I mean, anybody as pretty as she was deserved to be cared about. Unfortunately, eloquence was forcefully evicted from my body. "Yeah, that's true," I said, cringing straight afterwards.
"…Um, okay," Naru said, visibly displeased with my moronic utterance.
"No, sorry, that's not what I meant! I…"
Naru walked straight past me without looking at me or saying a word. The next sound I heard was the sound of my door opening and closing. Well, I did it again. I caused a lot of hurt to Naru by saying something without thinking. And if I thought about it, I obviously didn't apply it to the words that I blurted out. There are times when I do something stupid and the girls will physically punish me for it and then there are times when I do something so catastrophically and monumentally brainless which does not result in a beating. However, it does result in causing hurt to the girl in question and Naru was the worst person I could have done it to. I tried to thing of something to so but nothing came to mind. I then decided it was a good idea to do the most inappropriate thing possible just then.
"Cheers!" cried Kitsune and I, raising our beers in the air before taking large gulps respectively. Anybody with a dribble of sense would know that my current course of action was far from the right one. However, I felt dried of options at this current juncture. "So, what brings you into my domain of early afternoon drinking?" Mitsune asked, making light of the fact that this was the first time I've ever been in her room.
"I feel like there's nothing else for me to do," I said sadly.
"I know how you feel," laughed Mitsune.
"No, not like that!" I said. "I mean, something's gone wrong and I don't know what to do."
"What? Well, why the hell are you drinking with me then?" Kitsune inquired with a smile.
"I just…I just don't know," I muttered before taking another swig at my beer.
"Well, a good guy told me once that you can only do your best in life, so you might as well enjoy it," Mitsune said.
"That sounds familiar," I noted.
"Probably. It's pretty standard motivational talk. So, what's gone wrong to bring you here with me?"
"Naru," I said.
"What? You pissed her off or something?"
"I don't know. It was just a little slip of the tongue, really."
"Explain it to me."
I did as Mitsune requested and by that point, the two of us were on our second beers. "I see," Kitsune said with her hand on her chin. "Keitaro, are you aware of how complex us women are?"
"Um…I think?" I offered weakly.
"No, by saying you do means you most definitely don't!" Mitsune said. "No man understands a woman! Any man who claims to can't be any farther from the truth!"
"So women are really complex?" I asked.
"Yup. We're complex all right. As complex as it gets. As a man you're genetically designed not to understand the opposite sex!" Kitsune declared.
"So why is Naru so annoyed at me?" I inquired.
"I have no idea!" Kitsune declared next with her drink held high.
I collapsed onto the ground in complete astonishment. "Shouldn't you know about these things?! You are a woman, aren't you?!"
"I just said women are complex," Mistune pointed out. "I never said that we could understand each other."
I collapsed again. She really could build you up only to cut you down at the kneecaps. "So you really have no idea then?" I said, just to make sure.
"Yup," Kitsune chirped. "The only way you'll find out is if you go and speak to her!"
"I don't think she even wants to see my face," I muttered.
"Give her a gift or something to apologise," Mitsune said. "I don't know, like flowers. That usually goes down well."
"That isn't a bad idea, actually," I noted. "I wonder why I didn't think of it."
"Maybe because Naru is actually right and you are an idiot?" Mitsune suggested.
"You didn't have to say that!" I exclaimed. "But flowers are a good idea. I should go buy some."
"Good! I'll come with you!"
"It's okay; I can go on my own."
"You need a woman's opinion if you're buying flowers!"
"Really! Let's go!"
So here I was, in the middle of the street with Mitsune who was still drinking beer, wondering where the hell the flower shop was. "Do you know where the florist is?" I asked.
"How the hell am I meant to know? I thought you would know!" Mitsune said.
I sighed before saying, "Mitsune, isn't drinking not appropriate in public?"
"Well, as long as it's not illegal, I'm good," Kitsune replied before taking another swig of her beer. I sighed again. She really was shameless. Japanese culture hammers into you values of honour and humility yet Kitsune would laugh at them before drinking several bottles of sake just to prove her point. She really was a unique character.
After a while, it became totally fruitless. The two of us, well, it was basically me being followed by Mitsune, were wondering in circles, not getting anywhere. "Maybe I should ask somebody," I wondered out loud.
"I don't know," Kitsune said, throwing her empty beer can into a bin.
"You're not much use, are you?" I muttered.
"I'm just here to look good beside you," Mitsune pointed out with a wink.
I sighed, knowing that she would provide me with no help whatsoever. I looked to the nearest person on the street and asked, "Excuse me, do you know where the nearest flower shop is?"
"Huh?" replied the person I asked, who was a girl grasping a watermelon for reasons unknown to me. "Flower shop? Um…I think I walked past one…was that a flower shop or not…I can't remember!"
I immediately found this girl to be a bit odd but persisted, "Um, which way was it?"
"That way," the girl replied, pointing down the direction she came from. "I'm sure it was over that way."
"Okay, thank you," I said, suddenly finding her familiar somehow. The girl walked off, still tightly clutching her watermelon to her chest where there were, well, other kinds of melons which were rather large to say the least.
"Were you speaking to that girl or her breasts?" Kitsune asked with a laughed.
"What?!" I exclaimed.
"Your line of sight kept drifting down!" Kitsune explained. "You really are a perv, aren't you?"
"No, I'm…I'm not," I mumbled. "I just found her…familiar."
"As a matter of fact, yes. I remember where I saw her. She was sitting right in front of me in the entrance exam."
"You remember her face or her jugs?"
"KITSUNE!" I cried, finally losing it.
"You're too easy!" Mitsune laughed. "You shouldn't be embarrassed. Her boobs are about the same size as mine."
"No comment," I muttered.
"And you've copped a feel once, if I recall," Mitsune added.
"For the record, that was all you, okay?!" I cried.
"Haha, I know. It's just the look on your face when I played the innocence card," Mistune chuckled. "Priceless."
"Great. First Motoko makes fun of me. Now you. And Naru's pissed off with me for nothing. Some day this is turning out to be," I said. "And I nearly got run over today as well."
"Really? When was that?"
"This morning at Toudai. Some idiot nearly crushed me with his van. Turns out he's a university employee and I had to ask him for directions."
"Sounds like you were fraternising with the enemy there. I would never trust anybody who just nearly ran me over!"
"Me neither really. This guy was like no one I've ever met before though. At first, I thought he was a clueless moron who had no idea about anything because he kept walking in circles and tried to light a cigarette indoors. But it turned out he had some decent advice and was a pretty cool guy."
"Sounds like someone I know," Mitsune noted. "There's that flower shop."
The two of us walked in and I picked out a bouquet of mixed flowers. I didn't know what any of them were called but they looked nice. "But yeah, this guy had a PhD in archaeology and was an occasional lecturer which must mean he knows what he's talking about right? Weird thing was that he failed the Tokyo University entrance exam 3 times," I continued as I handed money over at the till.
"Now he really sounds like someone I know," Mitsune said as the two of us made our way outside. "What was his name?"
"Seta or something like that," I replied.
"…Seta?" Mitsune asked nervously.
"Yeah, Seta," I said. "Why? What's the matter?"
"Was he tall, wore glasses, medium length black hair?" Mitsune asked.
"Yeah. Do you know him?"
"I do indeed. So does Naru."
"Yup. She knows him as well in two separate capacities, shall we say."
Now I was incredibly intrigued. It was a small world, meeting someone that knew two people that I was already acquainted with. "Seta was Naru's tutor in high school," Mitsune said. "She also had a massive crush on him…which I don't think ever went away," Mitsune replied.
"She has a crush on him?!" I exclaimed. "I…I never knew that."
"Of course you wouldn't! To be honest, I think Seta will be the last person Naru would like to see again with her failing the entrance exam and everything," Mitsune noted. "I think it would be best you didn't mention this to Naru."
"Okay," I said. "I just can't get over how you both know this guy as well, although I did meet him in less than amiable circumstances."
"He is a horrendous driver," Mitsune agreed. "Man, I need another beer. That was a blast from the past just there."
Shortly after arriving back at the Hinata Inn, I found myself outside Naru's room, holding the flowers behind my back. I thought out the possible outcomes to this scenario in my head. She could be all happy and forgiving and hug me and be my best friend forever. That was the least likely possibility. The other option, the most pessimistic albeit realistic, was that she slams the door in my face and leaves me with flowers which I didn't need nor want. Next came figuring out what to say. I thought of a few lines before realising that I was epically crap when it came to things like this. I then decided not to think about what I would say and knocked the door. I immediately regretted this very poor decision of mine but it was too late to do anything about it know.
The door opened in front of me and there was Naru, looking fairly neutral upon seeing me. "Yes?" she asked with an expression that made it impossible to gauge her mood.
"Um, these flowers," I said, holding them out to Naru, "they are for…me being…an ass earlier…sorry."
It was good to see that I had completely lost the ability to articulate words into coherent sentences. Apart from that, I got a completely unexpected reaction from Naru. She started…laughing, of all things. "Uh…something funny?" I asked, not knowing what the hell to do.
"You're an idiot," Naru said with a huge grin on her face after laughing. "I was just being moody earlier. I don't deserve flowers."
"Well…I'm not going to do anything with them," I said, handing them to her.
"You're an idiot," Naru said again before smelling the flowers, "but you're a sweet one, I guess. Gosh, these smell lovely."
"Um…okay," I said, nodding my head nervously. "I hope…everything is okay."
"It is," Naru said. "I'm just facing up to the prospect of another year of cram school. Maybe you could tutor me, Mr Toudai student."
"Tutor…?" I said, remembering my conversation with Mitsune earlier in the day.
"Anything the matter?" Naru asked, obviously picking up from my facial expression that something was amiss in this simple mind of mine.
"Oh, nothing. I'm just…well, I thought you were really mad at me before," I said.
"I was but like I said, it was just me being moody. You obviously understand why I am," Naru explained.
"Yeah," I said. "Um, that's all I really came here to do. Flowers…for you."
There goes my ability to speak again.
"Well if you're not doing anything, why don't you come in? I could use a chat," Naru said.
"Um, okay," I said, stepping forward before Naru very promptly stopped me.
"Not yet," Naru said before shutting the door. I head some shuffling for about a minute from her room before she opened the door, meaning that she was cleaning the mess that often formed a girl's room. She then opened the door, slightly flush from running about and cleaning and said, "You can come in now!"
"You don't have to clean for me," I said as I walked in.
"Keitaro, there are some things in a girls room she might leave lying about that she doesn't want guys to see," Naru said.
"I see," I noted, getting the hint. I didn't think girls left their undergarments lying about but then again, I'm not the kind of guy who knows a lot about girls.
As I saw down at her table, I saw the flowers I gave her right beside her bed in a small, plain, white vase. I guess girls really do appreciate flowers, despite how clichéd the idea was. "Coffee?" Naru asked. "Or tea?"
"Coffee, please," I replied.
"Coming right up."
Naru set down a mug in front of me before sitting across from me. "So, I appreciate that you've gotten in and everything but that's not the expertise I need from you. You've failed twice, therefore you've had to deal with failure. I'm just wondering what you did to deal with it."
"How I…dealt with it?" I asked.
"Well, for starters, what did you do as soon as you found out you failed?" Naru said.
"Um…well, I moped around for a bit. Then I told my parents. The second time I did eventually caused them to kick me out of my house," I answered.
"That's not really the answer I'm looking for," Naru muttered. "Surely you must have done something to pick yourself up."
"I just…well," I said, struggling to find words to say. "I guess you can only do your best in life, so you might as well enjoy the ride. The ride was what brought me here and…"
"Wait, what did you say?" Naru interrupted.
"Um, you can only do your best in life so you might as well enjoy the ride?" I said.
"Yeah, I was sure you said that. My tutor in high school used to say that to me. Funny that you should say the same thing he does," Naru noted.
"Um, yeah," I said nervously, realising that I shouldn't really let on that I met him today.
"God, thinking about him brings back a few memories. I don't think I could bear seeing him just now with me failing and everything."
Now would be a good time to keep my mouth shut. Usually when I opened it in situations like this, I screw up. "Oh well. That's in the past anyway. He mustn't have been that good if I failed!" Naru said with a laugh.
"I guess so," I said with an uneasy smile.
"So yeah, what did you do to pick yourself up?" Naru said, continuing our previous line of conversation.
"I don't know. Obviously, just after you fail, you're upset, hence the moping around. But I was determined to get it so I bit the bullet, went to cram school once more and tried my best again," I said.
"Surely you must have had a reason? I mean, failing twice, most people would give up at that point," Naru noted.
"Well, there is a reason…"
"Really?" Naru asked.
"You're going to think it's stupid," I said.
"I won't. Any reason to want to get into Tokyo University must be a good one," Naru said with a smile.
"Well," I said before swallowing hard, "fifteen years ago, I made a promise to a girl that I'd get into Toudai with her and find happiness with her. She moved away shortly afterwards and I've been determined to get into Tokyo University since…silly, right?"
"That is," Naru began before bursting with a flurry of emotion, "so ROMANTIC! I wished I had a reason as good as that to want to get in!"
"Well, it was just a child's game back then. And I can't even remember this girl's name or what she looked like," I pointed out.
"Oh," Naru said. "Way to spoil to good mood. I thought you had a match made in heaven just waiting for you."
"Nope," I replied. "If she's in Toudai now, she's probably forgotten all about it. I suck with girls anyway."
"You'll find the right girl someday, I guess," Naru said with a smile.
"What about you?" I asked. "Why do you want to get into Toudai?"
"Well, mine is a little bit silly," Naru said.
"You just said that any reason to want to get into Toudai was a good one, remember?" I pointed out.
"I guess so," Naru said. "Well, remember that tutor I talked about? I had a really big crush on him and because he was a Tokyo University student at the time, I wanted to go to the same place as he did. That's why I originally wanted to get in."
Naru wasn't aware that most of this story was already familiar to me. Apart from the 'wanting to get into Toudai because of him' part. That sprung up on me something nasty. "I've got a new reason now though," Naru said.
"And what's that?" I asked.
"Isn't it obvious?" she replied.
"No," I said.
"The reason is you," Naru said.
My face went bright red at that point. If this wasn't an admission of love then I don't know what was. "…M-m-m-me?" I stuttered like a nimrod.
"Yup! I can't let an idiot like you beat me so I have to get into Toudai!" Naru said with a chuckle.
I collapsed for what must have been the hundredth time today. I was well and truly thrown off my high horse there. Naru found my parade and rained all over it. Then again, my original assumption was quite naïve.
"I guess so," I said, having come back down to Earth fairly hard.
"You should feel privileged! You're my new motivation for getting into Tokyo University," Naru said.
"If this is about who's smarter, it's always going to be you," I pointed out.
"Not until I get into Toudai it isn't! So watch your back; I'll be right behind you!" Naru said.
I smiled. I guess I gave her something and that was the drive to succeed. I've always had that with my foolhardy promise to a girl I didn't even remember so I guess if I gave her a reason to be determined, then things were all right.
There was a knock at the door and Naru got up to get it. She opened it and was greeting by a smiling Shinobu. "Hi Naru. Do you know where Keitaro is?" she asked.
"He's right here," Naru replied.
I got up and said, "What is it, Shinobu?"
"There's a girl in the living room who says she wants to live here," Shinobu said.
"Um…why have you come to see me?" I asked, slightly confused.
"Because you're the manager!" Naru cried.
"Oh yeah," I said sheepishly. "Okay, I'll go speak to her."
Obviously, Naru wouldn't let me make a decision on somebody staying her without the counsel of the girls already living there. When I got into the living room, I immediately recognised the girl, the watermelon she was carrying and her, uh, other melons. "Hey, you're the girl I asked for directions today!" I said.
She looked up to me with a confused face and said, "Eh?"
I collapsed in absolute astonishment before climbing to my feet and yelling, "You don't remember me?! That was just today!!"
"Oh wait, I remember!" the girl said before laughing. "I remember now."
"Agh," I said with a sigh before taking a seat on the sofa across from her. "So, you want a place to stay here?"
"Yes, I do! I heard the Hinata Inn was an all girl's dormitory with a reasonable rent which was a reasonable distance from Tokyo!" she said with a smile. "You see, I just failed the Toudai entrance exam. I want to re-sit the exam but because I live in Okinawa, I thought it would be better to live closer to the university."
"Well, we have plenty of rooms. This place is huge," I said. "So you can take your pick. That is if the other girls don't object."
I turned around and got thumbs up from everyone. "Well, that settles it. Welcome to the Hinata Inn. I'm your manager, Keitaro Urashima. What's your name?" I asked, extending my hand.
"I'm Mutsumi Otohime," she replied, reaching for my hand. However, just as she was about to grab it, she fell onto the ground and dropped that watermelon she was holding. A moment passed and she wasn't moving. "Um…Mutsumi?" I asked, giving her a shake. "Wait…she isn't breathing…"
"YOU'VE KILLED HER!" Su cried.
"WHAT?!" I yelled.
"I didn't take you for a murderer, Urashima," said Motoko, getting reading to draw her sword.
"No, wait! I didn't…you don't honestly think I…killed her?!" I asked. I looked at Mutsumi's body and again saw no movement. Was she really dead?!
This day could not get any worse.