Translated and Edited by: ynlucca.
-san: A polite suffix, but not excessively formal.
-kun: A common suffix among friends and younger people.
-chan: A common suffix among people you’re close with, mostly used for feminine nicknames and girls, since it’s cutesy and childlike.
-senpai: A common suffix and noun used to address or refer to one’s older or more senior colleagues in a school, workplace, dojo, or sports club.
“Hey, where’s my toothpaste!? W–Wait, we’re gonna be late!”
“I’ll get you one soon, just wait! I’ll comb your hair. Sheesh, your uniform is a mess…”
“T–That’s ‘cause I overslept, y’know…”
Yesterday, we all stuffed ourselves with ice cream and played at the arcade, at least until we parted ways. That time we spent together meant a lot to me, since before, I always went back home with Eri. That’s why Hayakawa and I almost never played together.
And Reika went home with me for some reason. When I asked her why—
“Ha? Grandpa didn’t tell you? I’m gonna live at your house. It’s closer to school.”
I haven’t heard any mention of that. Not a word… Well, it’s Reika, so I don’t mind at all. Yesterday we even stayed up late just talking to each other, so we both didn’t get enough sleep.
So yeah, that explains this rowdy morning.
We were late for school, but that wasn’t the main thing on my mind. I felt strange since I’ve always gone to and from school with Eri.
Reika, though only on her second day here, garnered a lot of stares from the students around us.
“It doesn’t feel very good to be gossiped about…”
“You’re cute, Reika, so it can’t be helped.”
“Z–Zip it! I’m not talking about me, I’m talking about you!”
I did listen, and I knew many students were not only talking about her but also about me.
“That’s Sawada, right? Seriously, Hiratsuka-senpai lost?”
“He’s just a shady guy.”
“Hiratsuka was just weak, wasn’t he? Such a joke how he went down with such a lame punch.”
“… Hmm, he’s surprisingly lame.”
“Eh~ Fumi-chan has bad taste.”
“He’s probably doing bad things on the lay-low anyway. I’m sure he was trying to blackmail Mashima-san so she could go out with him.”
Rumors are so weird. You don’t know whether they’re true or not, but everyone speaks as if they are. Though I have friends who believe me, so it doesn’t matter.
We headed for our classroom as fast as we could.
“Toshiki! You’re late! Come here, quick!”
Hayakawa called out to us from mid-corridor. Beckoning toward us, he seemed strangely impatient.
“What happened? Did you forget your textbook?”
“That ain’t it! Y’know the fight yesterday? I don’t know why, but there’s a video of it circulating around… I did record a video, but I didn’t upload it anywhere, just took it as evidence in case anything went down.”
“Let me see,” Reika approached Hayakawa.
“F–Fool! Don’t come near me woman! You can see it from there.”
“Ha? Don’t discriminate. What are you so shy about? Are you in elementary school or something?”
“Okay, okay, don’t fight. I’ll hold the phone so we can watch it together,” I butt in.
What we saw on his phone’s screen was yesterday’s fight. Moreover, it was neatly edited, so his aggression toward Eri was cut off. There were even subtitles and comments.
“Hey, what’s up with these comments?”
“This video was uploaded to the Underground Fighting website. It’s like on YouTube, where they can just write whatever comments they want… Sheesh, man, you’re becoming a celebrity at school, aren’t you?!”
A few comments were:
“Hiratsuka is so bad lmao!”
“He really lost to an amateur kekw!”
“Idiot, that guy ain’t no rookie!”
“Is he a new rising star?”
“Hell yeah, HAND PUNCH!”
“A school with fights, huh… What a trash school.”
“Isn’t the way the new guy moved creepy?”
“That was Kenko-ho.”
“Oh! Good morning general!”
“Oh, it’s the General!”
“T–They don’t even have permission… Hmm, no use thinking about it. Let’s just let the past go for now.”
“Oi, the past happened yesterday! Good grief, just don’t regret it later. I hope it won’t come back to bite you… Y’know, let’s just get inside the classroom.”
Hayakawa said that and stepped inside with a smile. I don’t know what he was thinking, but I’m glad he seemed happy. Reika and I walked inside after him.
When I took my seat, I was pierced by gazes left and right. The atmosphere was almost indescribable, so full of so many different emotions.
Reika and I were not bothered by it, though, so we continued talking normally.
“Hey, Toshiki, you free this weekend? Y–You see, I got two movie tickets from my dad… W–Would you like to go with me?”
“I haven’t been to the movies in ages. Of course, I’ll go with you! Oh, should I invite Hayakawa or Nakajima-san, too?”
She let out a small sigh. “Haah… I don’t blame you… It’s been a decade after all.”
“Reika? D–Did I say something wrong? S–Sorry.”
“Hm? It’s fine. Just bad for my heart. You’re right, though, it’s more fun if we all play together! I’ll ask them out later… Haah… For fifteen years, I’ve…”
Fifteen years? Is she talking about when she met me? Oh, it’s been that long…
When I was little, Reika got angry with me because I mistook her for a boy. We did play outside a lot, though. I miss those days… Yeah, I do feel most at home when I’m with her.
… I won’t reminisce on my old memories with Eri anymore. I’ll never get involved with her again.
But still, Reika has grown up substantially compared to when we were kids. She was still short, but she’s become more feminine. And she’s a very pretty girl. She’s always been… I feel a bit embarrassed when I think about that, though.
“What are you looking at? Y–You’re embarrassing me.”
“S–Sorry, it’s just… Y–You’ve grown a lot since way back when.”
“Ha? Are you trying to say I’m fat? I don’t have any flab! Come on, you can touch me.”
“R–Reika, stop embarrassing me! You haven’t gained weight at all! —Look, here comes the teacher!”
I couldn’t escape the teacher’s lecture on me, though.
“Oi, get me some juice, you useless f*cking runt.”
“I’ve been taking some martial arts classes, and my punches are getting su~per strong. Hayakawa~ Can I try them on ya?”
“Just don’t punch’em in the face. Aim for the stomach. —So, about this blind date…”
I, Rio Hayakawa, loathe school.
Rather, I hate the sh*tty students. Boy, girl, doesn’t matter. I hate all of them.
My family is poor. Dad used to be a junkie and an alcoholic, but ever since mom collapsed, he’s just been working himself to death.
I work part-time whenever I’m not at school. If I don’t, we won’t have enough money for my mother’s hospital bills. Due to that, we also don’t have enough money for my sister’s tuition.
My dad regrets being a bum. He says that if he’d saved every penny he spent on pachinko, that luck-based game, family finances would’ve been very easier. but what’s done is done. I’m just happy he’s changed.
We’re struggling a lot with money, and we’re just trying to make ends meet.
I also don’t want my sister to worry about money. I want her to wear the clothes she likes, and to live a normal school life, the way it’s meant to be.
When I told my dad I was going to quit school so I could just work, he responded with, “You’ve gotta finish high school, or else you’ll regret it as I did.”
… Coming from him, it really hits. So I’m going to finish school and get a proper job.
That’s why this bullying means nothing to me.
It doesn’t hurt to be hit by some sh*tty guy. The pain I felt when I mother collapsed was way more heart-wrenching.
“Yo, this guy ain’t got no money. Sh*t, he’s really useless.”
“Ah… You’re really disgusting. Why don’t ya just get into a convenience store and shoplift some sh*t?”
“Woah, he’s really shaking.”
This is what school is like. I get beaten up and no one pays attention. Every day is like this, and no one will help me…
No, it’s wrong to rely on others in the first place.
I know I’m weak. No matter how much I work out, I can’t get any stronger. All I have is the willpower to not listen to these guys.
If I just take it, they’ll get tired of me and quit. Then, I’ll win.
I don’t care about these d*ckheads. I can endure as much physical pain as I want.
My body only shakes because I’m pissed off at myself for not being able to do anything about it.
“… I haven’t been to school in a while, and you’re doing something boring. Hey~ come play with me.”
The bullying ended abruptly that day. It was because Satoshi Hirano, who’d been truant from our class, came to school. He was selfish, violent, and a psychopath. Or was it sociopath?
Either way, he sunk his fist into my bully’s stomach. One hit was all it took to make him cower in fear.
“Aw~ We’re just playing, right? Let’s keep going! … Hm? What the hell, wanna play too?”
He kicked me right in the gut. I hadn’t eaten breakfast, so I had nothing to throw up.
I just endured the pain.
“Good morning~! I’m late ‘cause Eri caught me. Sayuri, how are ya? —Ah! It’s Hirano-kun! Hirano-kun, Hirano-kun! It’s been a month, how are ya?”
“F*ck you. Don’t come here.”
He was a full-blown psycho, but with that bad-boy vibe and good looks, he was the face of Underground Fighting, and also an up-and-coming prodigious outlaw boxer.
Most of the girls in the class liked Hirano. Even though he was tattooed on the whole body, he was more popular than Hiratsuka, a nice-looking guy.
Ironically, when he’s around, all the boys in class become his toys. There was no bullying behind the scenes or manipulation, just violence. That was a time of respite for me, to be honest.
I cringed while staring at a group of girls approaching him, and I covered myself lying face-down on the table. One of them, however, called my attention—
Eri Mashima’s Friend, Hikari Kawano… She confessed her love to me a year ago.
I was so excited by my first confession, I desperately planned out a date. I didn’t even question it when she told me not to talk to her in class. It would be embarrassing, she said. Hikari also told me not to tell anyone we were dating.
Furthermore, I was busy with my part-time job, so our schedules seldom matched up, and we only met once a month.
I couldn’t even buy her a drink since I didn’t have any money, but I managed to scrape out some accessories to give her with what little I had. I gifted her handicrafts and dried flowers that I made myself.
—All my gifts were thrown away in the class trashcan.
A whole year, and I was the only one who thought we were something. I didn’t even tell my best friend, Toshiki, because it was a secret she wanted to keep.
“We aren’t dating, silly! I was trying to see how long I could fool you. Sorry, but I don’t really like you or anything, ehehe~”
All my classmates knew she was tricking me. I did think it was strange that, although she was dating me, she was snuggling up to Hirano, but somewhere deep down, I pretended not to see.
With her words, the classroom erupted in laughter.
That destroyed me more than any violence ever could.
Then, I became afraid of pretty girls. I didn’t want any of them to get near me. It would all be fine as long as Toshiki was there with me.
So I covered my face even more, thinking about my financial situation and wages.
Okay, this is interesting! His friend had more to him than met the eye, so I’m excited to see where this goes.
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