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.
“I forgot to return Hayakawa’s phone… Reika, I’m going to his class for a bit.”
“Wait, I’m coming with you. It’s too annoying to be alone in the classroom.”
That’s because my classmates try to talk to her when I’m not around. I can’t stay with her every second, such as during PE or when she goes to the restroom. The girls usually ask her to join their group, and boys generally ask for her phone number.
She always responds coldly, though, which worried me a fair bit.
“… Gotcha. But that guy doesn’t like me going into his classroom outta nowhere.”
“Oh, but isn’t it inconvenient to be without your phone? We’re his friends, so we should just give it to him.”
Behind his phone was a Polaroid of his family. We both didn’t talk much about our families, but this made it seem like his was very close.
I’ve never seen him mention that to anyone else either, but he’s always cheerful to talk about martial arts and his own sister. Maybe he’s not a loner like me.
“It’s class two, let’s go!”
Reika and I headed there. It made me nervous to go inside another classroom, even more so when the only one I know there is Hayakawa.
Come to think of it, Eri… I mean, Mashima’s friend, Hikari, is in this class, but I’ve hardly ever talked to her.
Stepping inside, we saw Hayakawa reading a book alone. Meanwhile, I made eye contact with Hikari, who chatted with her friend by the entrance.
“Hm? What’s the matter, Sawada-kun? Ah, maybe you have something to do with Hayakawa-kun? Want me to get him for you? Ehehe~”
Mashima and Hikari have been friends since middle school. They were in different classes now, but they always regarded each other as ‘besties’.
They were both very social, being at the top of the invisible social hierarchy that reigned over the school. I’m sure this classroom was filled with popular people.
However, I sensed something unpleasant coming from her. What is this? I’ve never felt this before… No, I just never tried to see it.
She reminded me of Mashima, and a shiver ran down my spine.
When I said my final goodbye to her and cried in front of Reika, my eyes were finally pried open. I began to see what I couldn’t before.
I noticed that when she mentioned Hayakawa’s name, she had a slightly mean look on her face. Her laugh was too similar to Mashima’s, too.
There’s no need for her to call him here. I should just go in.
“You don’t have to. I’ll just go myself.”
My words made her shrug, and she looked somewhat disappointed.
Does she have a thing for Hayakawa? But I heard from Mashima that Hikari only went after good-looking guys. If you wanted to have a shot with her, you had to be at least as good-looking as Hiratsuka. Both Hayakawa and I couldn’t even try.
“Reika, I’m going in.”
“Okay, I wanted to see his class either way.”
He was still reading a textbook, sitting by himself. I tried to walk up to him, but an unknown girl suddenly spoke to me.
“U–Um, you’re the ‘Unknown Rookie’ from that video, right?” She squealed. “I became your fan after watching that fight!”
“Woah, he’s real! He’s the one who beat up Hiratsuka-senpai!”
“Ey, you’re pretty good. That last kick was impressive.”
“Hm, you’re face is all stiff! You’re so nervous, that’s cute!”
“Hey, did you guys know that Sawada is my friend?” Hikari popped in.
“Seriously? Hikari, that’s su~per awesome!”
My eyes dart around the room. I’m too nervous to talk to girls I don’t already know. Besides, I’m not her friend, and I don’t get a good vibe from these girls either.
I’d rather just go to Hayakawa’s seat.
Seeing I was in trouble, Reika pulled me by the hand and plowed through that wall of girls.
“Okay, okay, he has something to do with Hayakawa. Passing through~”
The girls were like, “Huh? Who do you think you are?”, “Don’t touch my body!”, “What are you doing, transfer student?”, “You’re getting carried away”, but they all moved out of the way.
Reika’s face was too scary, after all. One glance was enough to make them break eye contact with her.
I wonder what’s the thing girls feel that boys don’t. Either way, all I know is that we shouldn’t mess with it.
Then, Hayakawa closed his book with a sigh, his eyes finally meeting mine.
“Huh? W–What are you doing in this classroom?! T–Toshiki…”
“You forgot your phone. Here, you should be more careful with it.”
“T–Thanks. H–Hey, we should talk in the hallway! It’s too noisy here, don’t you think?”
Then, Reika interrupted.
“Wow, you’re studying hard. That’s great.”
“S–Shut it! It’s the only time I can study! … I’m going to the hallway.”
“Okay, okay. Are you easily angered or something?”
His face suddenly turned blue. A group of guys suddenly approached us. They were delinquents, outside even the invisible school hierarchy. Some hung out with the popular kids, others hung out with the losers. Their habitats vary.
These ones in particular were slightly more fashionable and conscious of their own appearances. They were probably popular.
“Yo, Hayakawa, did you really think you wouldn’t be bullied if you invited your buddy over? I mean, this guy is just a foul-mouthed, gloomy criminal, ain’t he? Don’t make me laugh, dude. Just ‘cause Hirano came back, doesn’t mean we’re over with ya. He got the flu, and he ain’t coming back soon.”
“Anyway, your friend over there will love to try out my new punch.”
“Oi, wait a sec…. Isn’t that girl super cute? Is she seriously his friend?”
Hayakawa gritted his teeth, enduring it, and I finally understood what was going on. Behind all the bright smiles and happy jokes, was an effort to hide his suffering. He never whined, and always had a grin on his face.
“Yo, cutie, it’s a waste to be Hayakawa’s friend. Wanna hang out with us? Let’s go to karaoke after school! I’ll even invite him too—”
I’ve been with Mashima for a very, very long time. Maybe because of that, my sensibility was rotten and I didn’t notice it. I can’t believe my friend was in this situation and I only realized it now.
He had a gut-wrenching look on his face, and a murky swirl of emotions rose up from the bottom of my stomach. Unable to hold it in any longer, I take a step forward—
But Hayakawa interrupted me.
“Toshiki, I’ll be fine. I give in to these scum. So, please… Hold back, okay? I don’t want you to get in trouble because of me…”
He gives us the best smile he could muster.
I know this isn’t our classroom, so if we do something, he’ll only be harassed later. To be honest, I’m afraid of just going in and messing with delinquents. Just a few days ago, I was just another gloomy, boring, and blind guy.
But even then… Even then—
“—I can’t just ignore a friend in need.”
Reika sighed oddly close to me. “Toshiki, you’ve gone back to your old ways a bit, haven’t you? Not bad. That’s a good thing about you… Also, I hope these scum delinquents drop dead.”
“S–Scum? You’re just a pretty face, don’t try to one-up me! —Come here!”
One of them tried to grab her hand, and before I could even move, she threw a clean kick on the guy’s chin, and he fell limp on the floor.
The ruffians couldn’t grasp what just happened, and they looked at her in dismay.
“What, you guys gonna hit back? I mean, don’t you guys have some kind of bullying video on your phones or something? If you do, I’ll deck you out in one hit.”
“Reika, I’ll take care of the rest. I don’t wanna see a girl get hit in front of me.”
“… Girl… Hehe~ Okay, I’ll step back.”
“Aw, God d*mn it! I was gonna do something if the bullying got worse, y’know? Sh*t, what if these guys come after me in the dark! I’m all alone in this classroom, guys!”
Hayakawa said so while pulling out a video on his phone. It was footage of him being assaulted. The delinquents turned pale when they realized it, and I was very surprised.
If I was bullied, I’d just whimper and retreat into my shell. I wouldn’t have thought of fighting back as he did. All I did was whine about Mashima, so I wouldn’t have the balls to stand up to the bullying.
“Hayakawa, you’re strong.”
“Huh? What are you on about? You’re the strong one here!”
“N–No, that’s not what I meant…”
“Hey, shut up guys! Pay attention!”
Reika did not let her guard down even though the delinquents visibly lost their will to fight. That was because a man walked in from behind them.
I could tell he was unusually skilled, considering his footwork as he walked. Incidentally, he was also very good-looking.
Hayakawa muttered shakily, “H–Hirano-kun…”
Walking up to us, Hirano wrinkled his brow and stepped over the face of the decked-out delinquent. I then got in front of Reika. I won’t let anyone hurt my precious friends.
Hirano opened his mouth, face burning red, and talked to Reika.
“H–Hey, c–could you t–tell me your n–name? I–It was love at first sight! —Oh, I–I’m Satoshi Hirano, 17 years o–old. I like boxing, making money, and my sister. My ideal girl is one that can… kick a*s… Um, I–I’d like to exchange diaries with you…”
The classroom went dead quiet…
Reika’s eyes darted around.
“H–Huh?! M–Me?! I don’t know what you mean by that! —I’m going home! T–Toshiki, clean up this mess!”
“R–Reika? O–Okay, see you around… W–What should I do, Hayakawa?”
“What the actual hell… Yo, Toshiki, I wanna transfer to your class…”
So Hirano’s burning-red face wasn’t out of anger? Was he blushing with embarrassment? Meanwhile, I could hear screams from the other girls in the classroom.
“W–Why is Hirano-kun…?!”
“Didn’t you like men?!”
“Why did that b*tch… Ugh! Disgusting!”
“Aw, Hirano-kun is embarrassed. So cute!”
“Yeah, he’s annoying, but he’s so handsome…”
“I’ll forgive his rowdiness since I got to see a rare cute expression…”
“… I’m gonna learn kickboxing.”
Suddenly, Hirano grabbed Hayakawa’s shoulder.
“You’re friends with that girl, huh… Okay, now you’re my friend too. I ain’t properly talked to a girl before, man…”
“Huh?! I–I don’t know either! You’re in Underground Fighting, aren’t you? Seriously, give me a break… Besides, aren’t you always getting tangled up with this class’ girls!? They are so fake!”
“Eh? I don’t remember talking to any of ‘em though? … Girls in this class are so annoying, I don’t even remember them.”
“Huh? You were very close to Hikari Kawano though, right? ”
“Who? I don’t care about her. Yo, let’s get on with the strategy meeting.”
“T–Toshiki, save me! Wait, I’m talking to him as if I were his friend… I’m done with.”
“Oi, you’re my friend, so you can talk to me however you want.”
The two of them looked like they would be fine, I could tell from the atmosphere around them.
I said goodbye to Hayakawa and decided to leave the classroom. I have to catch up with Reika, after all.
… But, thinking about it, when this Hirano guy said “it was love at first sight” to Reika, that boggled my heart… I wonder what this is…
I shake my head, trying to forget about it. Still, I can’t help but recall something… Mashima’s friend, Hikari, was kicking the air with an intimidating look on her face. Her burning gaze was directed at Reika, who’d just left the classroom.
I think that she, just like Mashima, is a brew of human malice… But it was not natural like Mashima’s, it was more voluntary and vile.
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