I apologize to all of my readers for the previous submission of Chapter 13, and for the delay in this one. It was rushed and not up to the standards that I normally put, and I realize that I should not sacrifice quality for more updates. So here's the new and improved Chapter 13 of Let Me Be with You, and I hope you all enjoy it. And please feel free to drop a review. Also, it's incredibly long, which I hope makes up for the delay and the screw-up. ^w^
Let Me Be With You
Chapter 13: Painful Downs
"Why, why, WHY am I stuck here?" I whined mentally as I sifted through yet another stack of paperwork, though I was able to prevent my discomfort from spreading to my face.
I was currently holed up in the Student Council room, buried neck-deep in a massive pile of budget estimates, material costs and all sorts of club-related nonsense, angrily asking myself how I had gotten myself into this bothersome situation.
To answer that question, we merely need to look but a mere two and a half weeks into the past, on the middle of the second week of school.
The second semester had begun once again in Gekkoukan High, and as a proud second-year student I was happily enjoying being reunited with many familiar faces, both student and faculty. I was on my way to my homeroom to hang out with Aigis when the familiar clacking of high heels behind me piqued my curiosity enough to make me stop.
"Ah, Minato-san. May I have a moment of your time?"
I turned around to be met with worried look of the slightly distressed Mitsuru Kirijo, who was currently biting her nails, an act of which I had never seen her perform.
Something must be wrong.
"Mitsuru-senpai, good morning." I greeted, bowing slightly. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"You don't have to be so formal, Minato-san. You may address me Mitsuru-san if it suits you better." she smiled. "But back to the matter at hand…"
"I have a… request, if you don't mind." she began. "You see, seeing as how the new school year has just begun, there's a large amount of paperwork to be done for all of the sports and arts clubs… and a good deal of that paperwork has to be handled by the student council."
"And, unfortunately… there aren't enough student council members for us to be able to handle such a massive workload… mainly because the majority of the students who we recruited last year pulled out…"
I can see where this is going… and I don't like the looks of it.
"And I was hoping that you might consider helping us process the paperwork until we are able to get some new recruits." she finished, holding her arm as a guilty expression spread through her features.
"I will understand if you don't wish to join, even if only for a short while." my red-haired senpai continued. "I know that you have a strong relationship with Miss Yamada, so I…"
Mitsuru paused, her hands clasped together in frustration as she fumbled with her words.
Kirijo Mitsuru… fumbling with her words… a prospect that I previously thought impossible yet was occurring before my very eyes…
Oh dear god, she must be freaking out inside.
A tense silence formed between us as I debated my next course of action. I wasn't especially close to Mitsuru-senpai the way I was with Aigis, Yukari and Junpei, but…
A friend in need is a friend indeed… oh God, I'm going to regret this…
"You don't have to make a decision now, but-"
"I'll do it." I declared, ignoring the sense of impending suffering that slithered down my spine as I said those words. "I'll help out after school until all of the club paperwork is done."
"Thank you very much. You don't know how big of a help this will be." Mitsuru breathed, relief and gratitude quickly replacing the worry in her expression. "And I promise, it will only be for a short while." she smiled, before departing from the classroom with a brief farewell.
"Yep… only a little while longer." I murmur to myself, snapping myself back to reality. The paperwork wasn't horrendously difficult, but… with only two other student council members besides Mitsuru-senpai and me, the workload that loomed before us was quite fearsome. And the fact that Mitsuru took it upon herself to go out to recruit new members meant that the gigantic pile of paperwork had to be divided between myself, one Nakamura-san, and the apparent supervisor of the Student Council, Hidetoshi Odagiri. Needless to say, none of us were too thrilled being stuck sifting through this insurmountable pile of shredded trees.
Of course, Aigis wasn't very pleased when I told her the "big news", but she was surprisingly understanding of my desire to help Mitsuru-senpai in her time of need. So in order to maintain our tradition of walking home together, she agreed to wait in the library for me until I was finished with Council duties, a gesture which I greatly appreciated and recognized as a large favor for me from the goodness of her heart. Even so, the brief time that I was able to spend with her after school just barely satisfied my desire to spend time with her.
The first week that I had been helping out with student council, the aura of the room had been somewhat optimistic, and my comrades in arms were rather friendly in the beginning when friendly banter would be tossed across the room as we worked. Though the Student Council was only supposed to meet on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we had to work every day after school since the workload was so large. Still, it was in good company, so we didn't really mind at first.
By the second week it was clear that we had barely made a dent in the monolith of to-be-sorted. Although it wasn't necessarily hard work, the amount of files that we had to dig through was… just too much for the three of us.
And so we enter the third week of this… this paper and ink hell of ours, and as a collective group we were just completely demoralized by this "Mission Impossible" of ours.
No, not demoralized. Completely exasperated with this endless task, that's a more appropriate description of how we feel.
"Arisato-san, please keep your head up." Hidetoshi droned from behind his own mountain of forms and official documents. "You'll fall asleep if you keep your head down."
"All right, all right…" I couldn't help but sigh, the sound reverberating slightly in the otherwise empty council room as I lifted my head from the desk. "This is getting really old, you know that?"
"Don't you think we all feel the same way?"
"I… guess so…"
"Well then… back to work for me."
I started to sift through the papers once again, making sure that forms were filled out correctly, student signatures were properly written on recruitment forms and a whole bunch of nonsense like that.
"Okay, that's it." I grumbled.
My chair squeaked slightly in protest as I quickly rose from my seat with a huff of frustration. "I'm going out for a bit. If I don't get some fresh air I'm going to-"
It was right at that moment that the door to the council room clacked open and Mitsuru-senpai entered with a triumphant smile on her face. She was shortly followed by a thin, delicate-looking female student (who I assumed was a freshman) with chestnut-colored hair that reached about an inch past her shoulders, whose eyes shone with surprise from behind the round rims of her glasses the moment she caught sight of the rest of the occupants of the classroom.
"We have a new recruit." Mitsuru announced proudly, motioning towards the now-quivering student behind her. "This is Fushimi Chihiro-san. She is a first-year student at our school and will be filling in the role of Council Treasurer."
Treasurer? But that's the stuff I've been handling…
So that means…
"Fushimi-san, this is Arisato Minato-san, he's been assisting us while I recruit more members. You'll be taking over Minato-san's duties." Mitsuru concluded, pointing at me.
YESSSSSSS! I'm FREE!
"Of course, I would appreciate it if you could stay for a while longer to help Miss Fushimi get settled in."
"I'd be happy to." I smiled, going along with my helpful good-guy façade despite the fact that every other cell in my body was screaming bloody murder.
"Take a seat." I smiled, patting the empty chair beside me as everyone got back to work while Mitsuru left for parts unknown. However, after a few moments with no detectable movement, I turned my head to see that the formerly quivering brown-haired girl had turned into a blushing, shaking, and frantic mess in the past few seconds.
"Uh… Fushimi-san? Are you all right?"
"AHH!" Chihiro yelped, jumping backwards I reached out to her. "I- I'm sorry. I can handle this… by myself…"
"Uh… okay then… I'll leave this to you then." I sighed.
Despite the fact that I was a bit shaken by the bizarre outburst from my exceedingly nervous kouhai (which Nakamura and Hidetoshi had studiously ignored in favor of getting back to work) not to mention my mind's screeching protests to do otherwise, I decided to attend to a different mound of forms that sat across the now-busied young lady in order to keep an eye on her.
"Permission slips and consent forms… what fun." I thought to myself as I delved into my paper hell once again.
Truth be told, the particular stack of forms that I had decided to take care of was much easier to sort through than the material that had been taken over by Chihiro. So, since my adopted task wasn't awfully difficult to sort, I found myself with more time to keep watch over my aforementioned underclassman.
I paused every few minutes to glance up in the direction of the confounding young girl, watching for any hints of uncertainty or confusion. And yet, much to my surprise I saw the exact same sight every time I looked up from my work: Chihiro's eyes bright with concentration as she attacked her paperwork with a zeal that I had yet to see from either Nakamura or Hidetoshi.
"Wow… look at her go…" I thought, thoroughly amazed by the effort by my brown-haired kouhai was putting forth.
I have no idea how long I was staring at her work, nor was I at all aware of the fact that I was staring at all. But when I finally snapped out of my little trance, I suddenly realized that I was leaning forward on my desk with my head resting on my hand. As I blinked back into full consciousness, I had to wonder how she hadn't noticed me yet.
"Still, she looks a little cute, all focused and tearing through her stack of forms…"
"Wait, why the hell am I thinking this? I already have a girlfriend-"
And it was the exact moment after that thought crossed my mind that her eyes wandered upward and met my gaze.
Her warm, chocolate-brown eyes widened in surprise as bright red blush spread across her features, the shade of crimson rivaling that of the blushes I had incited from Aigis when I had first met her. I half expected the girl to run out of the room screaming, but I let out a sigh of relief as Chihiro quietly turned away and began to fly through her paperwork with even more fervor than before, her auburn hair conveniently covering her eyes as if to shield herself from my gaze.
"That… was a cute reaction." I chuckled to myself as I quietly return to my work.
Then I slammed my head into the desk for thinking strange thoughts about Chihiro when I already have Aigis as my girlfriend.
The rest of the lengthy hours that were allotted to afterschool activities dragged by slowly as the four occupants of our classroom busily dealt with our individual tasks. I was just beginning to doze off for the nth time today when the glorious sound of the school bell rang like an angel's chorus, signaling my long-awaited release from Student Council.
"Well then, great work everyone; we made a lot of progress today, et cetera, et cetera… Let's just get out of here." Hidetoshi droned as he stretched his back from exhaustion.
Taking his comment as a signal for a tactical retreat, I quickly gathered my belonging from beside my metaphorical prison chair and was just about to make it outside of the classroom door-
Only to be stopped by a slight tug on the sleeve of my jacket.
Who dares to bar me from meeting with my girlfriend after a long, hard day of unpaid work? Who dares to deny me my hard-earned freedom? WHO?
I turn around ready to strike down whoever it was that halted my departure, only to be met with the sight of a certain brown-haired student clinging on to the elbow of my jacket, her downcast eyes hidden by her long, brown locks as she mumbles something incoherently.
"Can I help you…?"
I received no visible response from the silent young girl who clung to my sleeve, but the moment I tried to pull away her grip tightened and I could not free myself from her grasp.
"Fushimi-san…" I began, allowing a slight edge of annoyance to creep into my tone, "Could you please let-"
"I- I'm… sorry…"
Chihiro raised her head slowly while she tried desperately to avoid my gaze, her warm brown eyes struggling to remain focused on a single area.
"I… want to apologize for the way I acted earlier… I know that I treated you strangely, so… I wanted to say that I'm… really sorry."
I watched the young girl intently as her head lowered once again in a bow of apology. No matter how annoyed I was at her, I acknowledged the courage that it took for her to apologize to me in such a straightforward manner, especially since she seemed to have some strange issue dealing with me, so…
"Hey… come on. It's all right." I sighed as I slowly reached out to her, only to have her pull away from my grasp once again.
"I'm… sorry… I-I can't… let you touch me…"
I could feel my annoyance at my kouhai's strange behavior building up once again as she fearfully retreated backwards into a desk… and fell over with a loud thump and muffled yelp, the odd yet surprising display quickly replacing my frustration with worry.
"H-hey, are you all right?"
I hurry over to the fallen first-year and offer my hand which she gratefully accepts as she slowly sits up from the floor while laughing embarrassedly.
"I-I'm okay. I must have looked really foolish, huh?"
"Not at all. Accidents happen, you know?"
"I guess so."
"By the way, what were you saying about me not touching you…?"
At this comment, Chihiro's eyes widened as the light brown pupils slowly traced her arm to the place where her hand was firmly gripped in mine, and in one swift motion she jerked her hand from my grip, stood up from the gray-tiled floor, backed up again and turned away bashfully.
"This girl is really, really weird." I think to myself agitatedly. "First she says that I can't touch her. Then she falls over, casually takes my hand, and freaks out when she realizes it. What gives!"
"Did I do something to offend you?" I sigh, finding no other suitable way to start the conversation again.
"I mean, we've just met and you're acting like I'm… infected with some kind of disease or something. I mean, I can understand being shy, but this is just taking it too-"
The girl's fearful tone stops me dead in the middle of my rant. Judging from her ashamed expression, quivering shoulders, cowering form and arms against her chest as if to shield herself, I realize that I may have gone too far.
"I… I'm sor-"
"… Can you keep a secret, Senpai?"
I'm too confused by the odd nature of her question to respond properly, so I simply nod to answer her question.
"I… I'm an androphobe…"
The unfamiliar term clatters around in my mind for a few brief moments before I respond.
"I… A-androphobia… it's the abnormal fear of men… it's also why I've reacted so strangely to you up until this point…"
She looks away again as if she were ashamed at what she had just admitted to me.
"Please… please don't tell anyone about this, Senpai… I'd rather keep it under wraps if at all possible…"
She slowly looks up at me with a clouded gaze, and it seems as if she'll burst into tears if I refuse her request.
Not that I was planning to, but…
"I won't tell anyone." I assure her, smiling warmly at the now-joyful Chihro. "But really, it's nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone has their own irrational fear…"
"I-I know that, but… I would rather decide who to tell by myself, so…"
"I understand. I won't say anything." I nodded, which prompted a relieved and joyous sigh from my kouhai. "But…"
"If you're so scared of men, how come you didn't seem to mind me helping you up?"
A weird chill blew through the room as I awaited Chihiro's response, although judging from the flustered expression on her face she was either having a hard time coming up with a response or her androphobia was kicking in again.
"U-umm… well, it's… kind of embarrassing…"
"You can tell me, its fine."
She paused for a brief moment to regain her composure as she took a deep breath, and hesitantly spoke after a few moments of preparation.
Sheesh, what does she want to say? It can't be that bad, can it?
"I-I only felt comfortable holding your hand b-because… your hands were soft…."
"L-like a girl's…"
The smile that was forming on my face quickly froze as I heard that statement, and the rest of the words that came out of her lips were lost to me as two powerful thoughts resounded in my mind.
One: Never let Yukari use me to test hand lotion ever again, no matter how much she pleads and begs me.
Two: This girl is just plain weird. She clearly has no ill intent behind her words, but… my hands are not as soft as a girl's…
Aigis' hands are much softer…
My flash-frozen face thawed quickly as my mental alarms indicated that a presence that I was not familiar with had invaded my personal space. Blinking myself back into reality, I immediately noticed that Chihiro was leaning in close to me, peering at me with a look of worry in her eyes. However, she immediately initiated a hasty retreat at the first sign of life from me.
"I-I'm sorry… y-you stopped responding all of a sudden, so I got worried…"
Chihiro's cute face, flushed with embarrassment while simultaneously filled with relief that I hadn't suddenly shut down on her was too cute for me to not notice.
And so, I blanked out once again as an internal conflict raged within my mind as the chestnut-haired girl continued her apology.
Goddamn it, she's too cute for her own good.
Why do you care? You already have a girlfriend!
So I can't appreciate it when I have a cute kouhai?
Not this much! It's disrespectful to our relationship with Aigis!
Hey, what the hell do you mean "our relationship"? Aigis is mine!
You're one to talk. I'm the one who's defending our relationship with Aigis. If anything, she's mine!
No you shut up!
"Please don't call me that." I blurt out in order to cover for my embarrassment.
I could tell from the confused expression that she had been confused by my odd statement, so I continued before any misunderstandings could arise.
"Being called 'Senpai' only reminds me that I'm getting older… why don't you call me 'Minato-san' instead?"
Up until that proposal left my mouth, I had been completely confident that Chihiro could at least manage talking to me on a first-name basis.
Clearly, I underestimated the fear-inducing power of her phobia of men.
"W-W-WHAT?" the girl protested, her face now colored a fierce shade of deep crimson. "I-I CAN'T D-DO THAT!"
"Yes you can. C'mon, it's easy." I encouraged her.
The flustered first-year shook her head adamantly and backed up in a manner that nearly sent her crashing into another desk again, her eyes shut in an attempt to deny my request.
So, I simply stared at her.
"W-what's wrong with calling you 'Arisato-san'?"
"That makes me feel old too…"
"Minato-san, please, you're just being-"
And those were the last words that escaped her lips before it dawned on her that she had just complied with the very thing that she had been resisting all along.
And she blinked once.
Then, in an instant, her face lit up like a Christmas light as her face adopted a fierce crimson hue. Clearly embarrassed, the young girl drew back as she struggled to contain herself.
And with that, she stood up, quietly muttered a quick excuse then bolted from of the room post-haste after a brief pause in front of the classroom door which she quickly flung open.
Damn, a phobia is a powerful thing…
A familiar voice rang in my ears a moment before Aigis appeared in the doorway and checked the Council Room for any other occupants.
"That… was my kouhai, Fushimi-san."
"I see… why did it appear like she was fleeing the premises…?"
"I seem to have scared her off…" I murmured guiltily.
Aigis' expression didn't seem to change, but her eyebrow twitched in curiosity as she quietly approached me, her footsteps resounding in the empty classroom.
"It wasn't necessarily my fault though; she did say that she has a phobia of men…"
Taking Aigis' relatively unenthusiastic responses and odd stare as signs that she wanted to leave, I quickly gather my belongings and follow Aigis out of the deserted classroom and into the silent hallways.
We had made it all the way Iwatodai station, and yet Aigis hadn't said anything ever since we left Gekkoukan's school grounds. The only thing she had done was to take hold of my hand the moment after we left, and had yet to release it.
And yet, with that alone I could tell that something was bothering her. Aigis' expression wasn't any different than normal, yet her grip wasn't soft and affectionate like it normally was. She held my hand with the kind of firmness that told me that she wanted to say something to me, but couldn't figure out how to bring it up. Also, since her hand would occasionally quiver slightly, I figured that whatever issue Aigis wanted to bring up was important to her.
So, in the spirit of good boyfriend-ness, I decided to try and break the ice in her stead.
"Is there something you want to talk about?"
My girlfriend's hand twitched at my question, and for a brief moment she pressed her lips together as if she was ready to discuss what was on her mind. And yet, a look of hesitation flashed in her eyes the moment after, and she turned away from me as we continued our trek down the street.
As worried as I was over what could be bothering my beloved blonde-haired companion, I felt that it would be best to leave the question in the air instead of trying to elicit the truth from her. So I could do nothing except silently plod along while I waited for Aigis to respond.
As we continued our quiet trek down the road to our homes, I couldn't help myself as I took in the way Aigis' hair caught the light of the setting sun and glittered like strands of polished gold as they rose and fell in the breeze. Her eyes glowed like azure jewels and her skin shone in the light from the twilit sky, and for a moment I felt a pang of regret towards my decision to help Mitsuru-senpai.
Another thing I was reminded of was of my girlfriend was absolute and stunning beauty.
"Minato-kun… we're here."
The sound of Aigis' voice quickly drew me out of my daze, and a quick glance upward confirmed that we really had arrived at the ever-familiar Yamada household, which caused me to wonder exactly how long I had been staring at her.
And it also meant that Aigis still wasn't ready to confide in me about what was bothering her.
"I'll see you tomorrow morning. Bye."
Aigis gingerly released my hand as those words were spoken, and yet the way her fingers lingered in my grasp for the briefest of moment told me that whatever was bothering her was extremely important to her. So, against my desire to let Aigis decide when to talk to me, I decided that I couldn't leave her without trying at least once.
"Aigis… is there something you'd like to talk about?"
My words stopped Aigis in an instant, and for a few seconds I was afraid that I had misread her actions. But that fear was quickly swept away by the relieved and joyful expression that had graced my girlfriend's features.
"I would, actually." She said as she smiled warmly at me. "Do you think it would be possible for you to take the day off from council duties tomorrow? We are only having morning classes, so I was hoping that we could go on a date… but only it that idea is acceptable."
"I can call Mitsuru-senpai and ask her, but… why so suddenly?"
"Well… you see…"
Aigis' gaze shifted downward as she bit her lip nervously, and she fidgeted nervously while she mumbled something that couldn't be heard over the drone of passing cars.
"I didn't quite catch that…"
"I… I cannot endure this any longer… just being beside you during class and walking home with you, it… it's not enough… not anymore."
"What…? I thought you were waiting for me every day for me…"
"You thought… that it… that I…"
Aigis looked up at me with an expression that clearly displayed the great confusion that she had voiced, and blinked several times before she regained her composure and continued.
"I… haven't been doing this for your sake alone… it did start out that way, but I also feel a need to spend time with you that I desperately need to fulfill…"
She shifted her weight onto one leg and leaned to the side as she held her arm at the elbow. After a few moments with a hesitant look on her face,
"And… sadly, just walking home with you isn't good enough anymore."
"I realize that this is very selfish of me, but I wish to return to the way we used to spend our afternoons… Together, enjoying each other's company, not apart with only enough time for us to say good bye… I understand your desire to assist Kirijo-senpai, but I do not know how much longer I can stand this…"
An awkward silence fell between us as we stood there on the sidewalk, the mid-spring breeze ruffling my girlfriend's hair as the drone of passing cars filled our senses. I felt a chill go down my spine as I took in the solemn expression that tainted Aigis' features, paralyzing me with the sheer longing and sorrow that radiated from her being. After a few moments of suffocating silence passed between us, I heard a soft sigh escape from the lips of my blonde-haired companion as she smiled weakly at me and slowly bowed.
"I am… sorry for troubling you with my selfishness… I will see you tomorrow, Minato-kun…"
With those sorrowful words left to hang in the air, my girlfriend gently pulled me into a quick embrace before she hurried inside, which left me to stare blankly at her retreating form as she quietly closed the door. And the sole thought that ran through my otherwise blank mind was something completely out of character for me:
"This shit ain't gonna fly anymore. Time to crack down and think about this seriously."
"It's been a while since the last time I came here…" I thought to myself as I stepped onto the polished wooden floor.
And indeed, I felt that it had been ages since I had set foot onto the indoor archery range of the Takeba household, a place that came to be in the spring vacation during our transition from middle school to high school. In order to secure her entrance into Gekkoukan's archery club, Yukari decided that she needed her own place to practice her archery as often as possible, which meant it had to be close to home. Thus, two weeks and several thousand yen later, the Takeba archery range for two was open for use.
Why two? Because Yukari also tried to drag me into the club with her.
"And I still can't believe that this gear still fits." I laughed gleefully as I adjusted my hard-leather chestplate once again. "It's been what, two years since I last wore this?"
I smile to myself as melancholic feeling stirs inside me at the familiar scene: the light of the setting sun glimmering through the glass ceiling and highlighting the exquisite sheen of the vigorously cleaned floors and the lone wooden-stand target about twenty meters away from me, fresh with a new foam target attached to the front.
"Yukari's taking very good care of this place… and my equipment is still clean. I'll have to thank her when she gets home." I thought to myself as I filled a quiver with about twenty practice arrows, my freshly-polished bow resting beside me.
Why am I here when I should be thinking about what to do tomorrow?
Put simply, even though I had refused to join Gekkoukan's archery club in order to pursue my own interests, I found that I could think much clearer while using a bow and arrows. Or rather, the eight stages of archery, Ashibumi, Dozukuri, Yugamae, Uchiokoshi, Hikiwake, Kai, Hanare and Zanshin, were a procedure for training mental focus in themselves. Therefore, archery helps me think clearly.
How so? I can't really explain. Why now? Because I haven't been faced with a decision this important in a very long time. And this ritual is reserved especially for mental debates of great importance.
"Let's do this, then…" I murmured to myself as I took my sleek black longbow in my hands and pulled back on the bowstring several times. After only a few seconds I winced as a familiar pain shot through my fingers and forced me to release the bowstring.
I grumble to myself as I give the taught bowstring a few extra pulls to re-accustom my fingers to the pain. After a few minutes the pain finally dwindles, and I pluck an arrow from the quiver set beside me, notch it on the bowstring, pull and release. The blunt metal arrow whips through the air, carrying the sunlight that shone from the ceiling above as it sinks itself into the target.
Satisfied at the results of my first shot, I let my body flow through the motions of the shots unconsciously as I began the debate in my mind.
I envision three podiums lit by three individual lights on a hardwood stage. To the left is a podium labeled "Pro-Aigis" with an exasperated-looking version of myself wearing a white t-shirt and dark navy jeans. To the right is the representative of the "Pro-Council" side, a stoic, glasses-toting Minato in the Gekkoukan school uniform, with the collar buttoned up and looking equally agitated. In the middle stands the mediator, an Arisato Minato dressed in a judge's robe and gavel in hand. After both sides acknowledge each other and the mediator, the debate begins.
"The Pro-Aigis side may make the opening statement." Judge Minato bellows, rapping his gavel twice before nodding to the casually-dressed Minato.
"Thank you." He nods as he walks forward from behind his booth. "Your honor, I submit to you that we should request a day off from Student Council activities tomorrow to Kirijo Mitsuru-san in favor of going on a date with our girlfriend Aigis."
"Blasphemy!" Student Council Minato roars, "We gave our word to Kirijo-san that we would participate in Council activities until more members are recruited! We understand that Aigis-san is despairing, but we have an obligation to fulfill-"
"Bull! If you really took Aigis' feelings into consideration we wouldn't be having this discussion!"
"We are aware of Aigis-san's frustrations. But we made a vow to Kirijo-san and gained Aigis-san's initial approval to participate in Student Council even after explaining the situation in detail. A simple change in opinion is not reason enough to suddenly jump ship from our agreement-"
"We told Aigis that it would only take a few weeks like Mitsuru-senpai said!" Casual Minato counters angrily, pounding his fist into the wooden podium before him. "And it's been more than a few weeks! I think that alone should be a good enough reason to at least ASK for a day off with Aigis, wouldn't you say?"
"And how do you think Kirijo-san will answer? She'll probably rain righteous fury on us until-"
"Why would she do that! She was the one who hesitated to ask us to join Student Council out of concern for our relationship with Aigis! Why on earth would she be angry at us if we ask permission to skip tomorrow to take Aigis on a date?"
"Even so, if we do that then that's going back on our word! We specifically promised to participate in Student Council until-"
"Until more people join, I get it. But we never made any promises, we only agree to join for the "short while" that Mitsuru-senpai promised."
"No, we agreed to stay until the Student Council got more members. The "short while" Kirijo-san assumed was only implied."
"Even so, she assured us that our stay would only be a short while. So why would she get angry if we ask for a day off when we've clearly gone over "a short while"!"
The frustration I felt from my inability to come to a proper decision transferred itself into my actions, as the black steel arrows flew faster from my hands while my anger mounted.
"BECAUSE WE AGREED TO STAY!" Student Minato roars. "Regardless of what circumstances we were guaranteed, we specifically promised to stay until the Student Council could recruit enough members to sustain itself once again!"
"So you're just going to ignore how Aigis is feeling? Is that what you're saying!"
"I already said that I see how Yamada-san feels! But we cannot shirk our responsibilities because of what we want to do! Priorities man, priorities!"
"Screw priorities! We've given over two weeks to priorities! All we'll be asking for is one day off. Is it really that unreasonable to ask for just that!"
"Yes it is! If we ask for one day off then we'll expect another, and another and another until we just stop going! It's madness!"
"You're the one who's crazy! Aigis thought that her request was selfish! She thinks that it's selfish of her to want to be with us! Is that not enough for you to find justification in at least asking for one day to spend time with her?"
"She is being selfish! She agreed to wait for us at the beginning of this ordeal, and she knows full well that we can't leave until-"
Pro-Council Minato's argument was interrupted as an enraged Casual Minato hurled himself at his bespectacled counterpart with a bestial battle cry, a loud thud echoing throughout the room as the two blue-haired males hit the floor.
"Take that back! Aigis is not being selfish!" Pro-Aigis Minato roared as he throttled the gurgling mess pressed to the wooden floor underneath him. "She's waited patiently for more than two weeks without a single complaint! If we don't at least try to get tomorrow off we're neglecting her as our girlfriend!"
"Nonsense!" Student Council Minato bellowed as he regained his senses and attempted to stop his raging counterpart. "If she waited three weeks for us then she can wait a few more! We agreed to help Kirijo-senpai and we need to stick to that agreement!" he growled as the two began to wrestle on the wooden floor.
"You're just being an ass!"
"You're being negligent and irresponsible!"
"You're a terrible boyfriend!"
"At least I uphold my word!"
"That's stupid, especially since we've spend nearly THREE WEEKS 'upholding our word'!"
"It is not!"
"Yes it is!"
"No it isn't!"
"Yes it is!"
"No it isn't!"
"Yes it is-"
I was interrupted from my currently pointless mental argument as a sharp pain shot through my right hand that forced me to drop my bow. As I winced in pain and dropped to my knees, I looked down to find that I had not only run out of arrows and had solely been plucking at the bowstring for God knows how long, but my fingers had also bled to the point that I found multiple drops on the floor as well as a few stains on my archery uniform.
"Oh no… Yukari's not gonna be happy about this…"
"No she isn't."
I quick whirled around in shock as I saw, both to my surprise and dismay, a certain brunette seated on the wooden floor near the doorway of the archery range in her usual house attire of a white sleeveless shirt and pink shorts quietly sipping from a can of melon soda.
"U-uh… Y-Yukari… hey…"
"Don't worry… I'm not too mad." Yukari murmured as she rose, and produced a first-aid kit from behind her back. "I came just as you were down to your last few arrows. You must have been really caught up in what you were thinking to not notice the cuts…"
"It was a very heated debate… though it ended in a mindless fight as usual." I sighed as Yukari began to bandage my injured extremity.
"It was something about Aigis right?"
"How'd you guess?"
"You looked really passionate about what you were doing, so I guess that was my first guess."
I silently watch my stepsister as she quietly places cloth bandages on my numerous cuts, pausing only when I occasionally wince in pain. After a few minutes of fidgeting on the cold, wooden floor of the archery range, Yukari finishes with a contented smile and releases my hand with a warm smile.
"There you go, all better."
"No problem. Just make sure you don't keep Aigis waiting too long, okay?"
"I won't. That's what I was debating about."
"Good. Don't keep her waiting, it's probably really painful for her..."
With that comment and a friendly pat on the shoulder she walks out of the dojo to leave me to my own devices. Even so, despite the idiotic end to my mental arguing, I had come to a conclusion while Yukari had been bandaging my fingers.
I knew what needed to be done.
I had summoned up all the courage in my being and asked Mitsuru the fateful question with Aigis at my side. And to be honest, her punishment was quite fair and just.
…Come to think of it, it isn't even much of a punishment to begin with.
"All I ask is that you assist me in tracking down the Student Council's no-shows."
That was the response that I received from my scarlet-haired senpai after the few tense moments that followed my request. As it turned out, she was also feeling guilty about separating me and Aigis for so long, so she devised a solution that would satisfy everyone. She explained to us that out of the twelve students that had signed up for Student Council last year, six recruits had officially pulled out at the beginning of the new school year, while six had not given such notice and simply hadn't shown up. Thus, Mitsuru proposed that if we could find all six of the missing recruits during our lunch period, there would be no need for me to constantly attend council meetings anymore, a response that elicited an excited cheer from my elated girlfriend.
And so the three of us had spend the last forty minutes of our one hour lunch period hunting around for the six missing Council members in the expansive hallways of Gekkoukan High. Out of the five that we had managed to find, two students had legitimate changes in their circumstances and couldn't attend, so they withdrew; three had conveniently forgotten to attend, but quickly apologized and promised to show up from now on. We were rather happy that our search had been so successful, and were en route to our last escapee with about eighteen minutes to spare.
Aigis and I walked together, hand in hand and with happy smiles as we followed our scarlet-haired senpai down the crowded halls packed with a vast multitude of students to the school foyer, where one Sahashi Takeru was reportedly chatting with a few of his buddies. After a brief trek down the main stairwell we found the tall, black-haired second year chatting with a small group of very excited first-year girls.
"Excuse me, Sahashi Takeru-san?" Mitsuru addressed the lanky junior, which caused the small crowd of girls to disperse with a chorus of giggles. "May I have a word?"
The addressed junior dramatically spun on his heel and greeted us with a cheerful smile that froze as he became aware of Mitsuru's presence.
"Err… this is about student council, isn't it…"
"Yes, yes it is."
After a moment of silent contemplation, the junior rubbed his chin as if he were contemplating something and then…
He bolted, his quick footsteps echoing down the halls as he hurried towards the Laboratory hallway of the first floor.
"…I was afraid this was going to happen…" Mitsuru sighed. "Aigis-san! He's heading to the track field behind the school, so see if you can cut him off. Minato, you're with me."
"Yes ma'am!" my girlfriend and I responded as I squeezed Aigis' hand for good luck before she ran with her arms flung behind her to the shortcut to the track field.
Mitsuru and I gave chase down the hallway that Takeru had disappeared into and barely caught him trying to sneak into the kendo gymnasium. However, once he caught sight of us he threw himself into the room and attempted to slam the door shut, which I luckily (and painfully) stopped with my foot. Mitsuru brushed past me while our prey murmured a stream of curses and fled back into the hallway through the opposite door. Mitsuru and I continued to give chase through the rest of the sports hallway; occasionally bumping into club members until finally, our victim had no choice but to flee outside to the track area.
"You'll never catch me!" the lanky young man laughed as he threw the double doors open-
And that was all he managed to get out before a yellow and black bullet flew out of the side and knocked Sahashi Takeru to the ground. Bruised but otherwise unharmed, the black-haired junior attempted to get back on his feet, only to be stopped when Mitsuru planted her boot in the poor guy's chest.
"W-What do you want?" he quivered as I helped Aigis back to her feet and helped brush her shirt off. "I-I haven't done anything!"
"That is precisely why we are here." Mitsuru frowned as she dug her boot into the guy's chest.
Oh no… she's mad. Must have been all the running.
"You haven't been attending Student Council activities despite the fact that you signed up for that club last year. Why is that?"
"I-I-I had to help m-my mom w-with some stuff! Don't hurt me!" the poor guy whimpered as he tried to remove himself from underneath Mitsuru's boot.
"Then is it safe to assume that you're finished with whatever you've been assisting your mother with?"
"Then please start attending student council activities from today onward." Mitsuru smiled as she removed her boot from Takeru's chest.
The three of us watched the retreating back of the Kirijo heir, and judging from Aigis' and Takeru's expressions, we were all thinking the same thing: "That's it!"
"Oh, and Sahashi-san…?"
Mitsuru turned back to the lanky junior once more, an icily strict expression haunting her normally elegant features.
"Since my father owns the school, I have certain… privileges, which includes access of the student records. So please keep in mind… I know where you live."
With that final warning, our scarlet-haired senpai once again turned around to the sports clubs' hallway, leaving a sobbing young man to quiver in place as Aigis and I followed silently.
"Now that that's been taken care of, why don't I go inform Nakamura of the good news?" Mitsuru hummed to herself. "Oh, and Arisato-san, consider yourself relieved from Council duties until you feel the need to return."
With that, she waved a brief farewell at us before heading off to the school foyer, leaving Aigis and I to stand there in wonder.
Well, at least now I can go on a date with Aigis today…
"Minato-kun…?" Aigis questioned softly with a somewhat frightened look in her eyes.
"Please remind me never to get on Mitsuru-san's bad side…"
"… Hey Aigis?"
"We should both stay on Mitsuru-senpai's good side…"
With that out of the way, we quickly returned to our classroom to eat our lunches in a slight rush. Even so, Aigis and I couldn't help smiling and relishing the fact that finally, after two weeks of painful separation, we once again had our time after school to enjoy ourselves in each others' company. And as Ms. Terauchi waltzed in for our fourth period class, I couldn't help but smile in gleeful anticipation of my date with Aigis after school.
"Finally…" I thought as Ms. Terauchi started her lesson. "I get to go on a date with the girl I love again."
Wow, it took me a loooooooooooong while to revamp this -_- Anywho, I think I've done a better job on this chapter this time around, so feel free to leave reviews. Hope you enjoyed it, and all constructive criticism is greatly appreciated.
And the next chapter with Aigis and Minato's long-awaited date will hopefully be coming soon since I already have everything set up in my mind. Thanks for reading and hope you stay for the next installation of Let Me Be with You!
Also, sorry for the… four-month delay lol? xD I was busy x_x Really busy... sorry.