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 studied hard for this test. So hard in fact, I didn’t even have to look at the book to know all there would be in the test. My memorization was perfected to a tee after countless hours of work. Not only that, but I also shouldered tough questions until I couldn’t anymore.
“It’s about time, isn’t it?” Saki mentioned as we walked to school together. She had insisted on crashing at my place the night before, so I had no choice but to allow her to.
“Mhm. I’m nervous,” I admitted. I had never studied so hard in my life, so these two weeks were an eye-opener, to say the least. As a bonus, the element of competition always loomed behind me as a drive; I couldn’t take it easy, or else. How could I not be anxious?
Still, the more effort I poured into it, the more I gnawed at myself, wondering what I would do if I lost. My anxiety must’ve been quite obvious, as she suddenly grabbed my hand.
“You’ll be fine, Akito. You won’t lose,” her words rung as a clear day: not a cloud of doubt muddling her beliefs. Losing wasn’t even a possibility for her.
Though she says that… My mind’s words trailed off. Regardless of how she felt, all my worries were not so easily dispelled.
“Ah.” She must’ve noticed that too because she clasped her hands as an invisible lightbulb popped above her head. “I’ll cast a motivational spell on you!”
“A spell?” I parroted.
“Yes. If you beat that rotten trashbag to the ground, I’ll do anything you ask of me.”
“Anything…?” Will she really?
For a moment, unspeakable fantasies out of my control played in my mind before I choked them out. No matter how little my face moved, Saki’s eyes were of an eagle’s. She grinned.
“I wonder why you’re blushing?”
“Nope, it’s nothing,” I tried putting up my defenses, knowing they never really worked against her. As if to hammer that nail, Saki pulled my arm and brought her lips to my ear.
“Aw, Akito. What a perv, thinking things like that~”
“—!” I tried jumping away, but my arms were like roots deep in the soil; she held me quite tightly.
“I’ll do everything, including those things, y’know?”
“W-What are you on about, hm?!”
Our conversation, far from what befit two students like us, was cut short as the school encroached on our views. Saki looked away from me with a face laced with regret. After all, there was a possibility other students would catch us intertwining arms.
“Good luck then, Iwaki-kun.”
“Mhm. Thanks for everything, Mizumoto-san.”
We parted ways at the lockers and headed to our respective classrooms.
Taking my seat, I looked around and saw that it was brimming with students reviewing for the tests. I thought Matsuyama would try something with me just before them, but he was reviewing at his desk instead. I turned to my own textbooks instead, figuring this was a good chance to concentrate.
This school’s tests consisted of five subjects and had a maximum of 500 points. However, the breakdown of each subject was quite detailed. They were:
- Modern and Ancient Japanese, and Chinese literature.
- Japanese History and Geography, paired with Social Studies.
- Mathematics II or B.
- Science, Physics, and Biology.
Counting everything correctly, there were about ten subjects. Compared to the junior high tests, the scope of this specific school was much stricter than any other. Regardless, I had to get high scores in each and every one of them to beat Matsuyama.
Morning would be Japanese, Social Ed., and Science. Meanwhile, the afternoon would have English and Math. It would be a full day, so physical endurance was also paramount.
I took out my mechanical pencil and eraser, plopping them on my desk. Everything was ready, so I opened the textbooks and waited for the teacher to arrive with the papers.
He’ll be here in about ten minutes or so. Just enough for me to go over any one of the subjects in their entirety. I decided to re-read my contemporary for what seemed like the umpteenth time.
“Okay, take your seats—” The teacher walked inside, so Matsuyama, one of the class reps, tried to give the customary order. But he was stopped.
“You may continue reviewing until the allotted time. Each one of you has prepared well for the test, so just give it your all,” he gave a small pep talk.
It was nice to get some extra time, even if it wasn’t much. We did as we were told, and reviewed up to the last second.
“All righty. Put away your textbooks, notebooks, etc.”
I did as I was told for everything except my writing materials. A deep exhale escaped my lips. If I lost, it wouldn’t be just me losing face. Saki would be in trouble as well. I felt my hands clammy, and I couldn’t stop sweating from the tension.
Then, the teacher handed out the proper tests. When they were properly distributed to everyone, he raised his voice, “Start!”
My pencil ran across the papers.
“It’s over! Turn in your answer sheets.”
The first half of our tests was over, and we were free for the time being. Japanese, Social Ed., and Science were all incredibly easy. In fact, I had to have gotten a perfect score, more so after the tens of times I’d reviewed them… Still, they were so trivial, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy. Matsuyama probably got a perfect score in these too, so this afternoon would probably be the endgame.
While I was making a general review of the first half, Saki had come to the classroom and beckoned me over. However, that guy interrupted us even though he wasn’t called.
“Saki. So how was the first half, hm?”
“Iwaki-kun, c’mon quick.”
“Okay,” I answered.
It seems Saki’s natural ignorance was extremely effective on the guy. Though he ended up glaring daggers at me instead. Just don’t take it out on me… I sighed inwardly. He was so hostile, it was as if I had been the one to wrong him.
“Let’s recap the first half of our tests. We can’t use the student council chambers today, so we’ll meet somewhere else,” she suggested.
“Uh-huh,” I nodded in response.
“Hey, Saki, it’s useless to ask him stuff like that y’know? Besides, if you want to have a good review, it’d be more fruitful to do it with me, m’kay?”
Matsuyama still tried to appeal to her. Frankly speaking, even to me—a guy he so relentlessly bullied—he was pathetic. In the end, Saki hadn’t even shot him a glance.
After that, we both went to the rooftop and sat down shoulder-to-shoulder by the fence. She had prepared lunch.
“So, how did it go?”
“Well, I think I got a perfect score. It was quite easy,” I told her as it was.
“At your level, sure…” She pouted a bit.
“I think I did so too, but I’m just not sure about a few.”
“Oh, no shot.”
Is there even a question in those tests that was hard enough for that? In response, an imaginary blue streak bulged on her temple.
“I get you, but at the same time, it just makes me feel angry, y’know?!” She mushed my cheeks like dough.
“I’b showy,” I apologized through the mushing.
“…By the way,” she continued after she had enough of my face. “What was the answer to the last Japanese question?”
“You mean the 蘊蓄 one?”
“Ah, got it right then.”
She sighed in relief, and I could understand why so. After all, Kanji was a hard deal, and only memorization could help you understand whether you’d put a dot or a streak anywhere. Even I had my doubts here and there. Still…
“If it was that easy for the most part, will Matsuyama manage a perfect score?”
That was my main concern. Saki put a hand to her chin for a moment, thought, then nodded. “I think so.”
“This afternoon’s tests will be the important ones. Make sure you don’t lose any points in both Math and English, alright?”
“Well I don’t think he’ll get full marks but…” Her already low voice trailed down even more, and I couldn’t catch anything.
“What did you say?”
“Nothing,” she smiled at me, and I was certain she hid something. However, I didn’t pursue it. If it was important, she would tell me later.
“Just,” she started.
“His strongest score is Math, by far. His scores in that subject are always around mine.”
I felt a tad uneasy.
“Well, you’re you, so worrying is useless.”
“I mean it,” she told me as if stating one plus one was two. I wonder where her bottomless confidence stemmed from. “More importantly…” She opened her lunch box as if Matsuyama and the tests didn’t even exist. “I’ve made you something to raise your spirits. Please savor it.”
“Thank you for everything. Though, where are my chopsticks again?”
“Woe is me! I was careless and ended up forgetting them!” She stuck her tongue and knocked on her head.
“Okay, ahn~ ♡” She propped some food up to my mouth, and wouldn’t stop feeding me with a sweet beam on her face all the way through, intercalating between us.
Though my strength recovered, I felt my spirit crumble like a crouton.
“Let’s do our best now, ‘kay? Don’t let your guard down.”
“You too. Let’s get this bread.”
After lunch, we both separated and went to our respective classrooms. As soon as I rattled the door open, I saw most of the students still reviewing for the upcoming tests. However, Matsuyama—who had more time to spare than anyone, apparently—walked up to me.
“Creepy Panda, how did you do on the test, hm?” He tried to look down on me.
“Hmm, yeah. Good enough, I figure.”
“I see, I see. So you’ll be on your knees then. Don’t run away when all’s said and done, capiche?” He pointed at me defiantly, and I nodded without a hint of hesitation. Running away and hiding was the last thing on my mind, after all.
Then, the bell rang, signaling the end of our short respite. Almost immediately, the teacher walked inside.
“Okay. Let’s start with English.”
After eating, I couldn’t help but feel a tad sleepy. It didn’t take me too long to get back into the swing of things, though.
“Phew,” I breathed to calm my nerves, then gripped my pen with resolve.
Regardless, what I had to do didn’t change. If I saw a problem, I just had to solve it as usual while reviewing so I didn’t let a single mistake slip.
As a result, things went as well as they did in the morning, so there was probably no problem there. The English portion soon ended, leaving only the hardest subject to be tackled: Math.
English hadn’t been a real challenge, so Matsuyama would probably get full marks there as well. No surprises there. That’s why Math would be the great divide, and every decimal of a point would count.
Come to think of it, what will happen if everyone got perfect scores and it ended in a tie?
Such a thought came to mind, but I dispelled it. There was no use thinking about useless things right before the test of fire.
I’ll think of it after I get a perfect score.
I took out my textbook and decided to review it until the teacher arrived.
I couldn’t, for the life of me, find my math textbook. I was sure it was there until this morning. As I scoured around for it, every minute ticked by. When there were only five minutes left, someone spoke up.
“What’s wrong with Iwaki?”
It was Matsuyama. He had an eerie smile on his face, more so than usual. I figured I was wasting my time, so I decided to let it slide this once.
“I doubt it. You’re looking for something, aren’t you?”
He spoke as if he knew my math textbook had disappeared.
“Don’t look so scared. Here, your book was on the floor, so I just picked it up.”
Surprisingly, he seemed to have kept an eye out for me. But I couldn’t take my mind off it. He may have done something…
He wasn’t the type who’d return my stuff easily. As I thought these things, he spoke up.
“Even if I don’t do something unfair like stealing your textbook, there’s no way I’ll lose, yeah? I’ll bash your head in, fair and square. Be prepared for that.”
“R-Right,” I couldn’t help but rethink him a little. Sure, he was a terrible guy and that wouldn’t change, but he seemed fair in his own twisted way. “Thanks.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it.”
I returned to think about the test, reviewing its portion. I had about three minutes left, which was enough for me.
Okay, I’m done with everything…
Then, the teacher came. I was fired up, expectant, and ready like a seasoned soldier for war. However, my excitement proved to be in vain.
“Oh, there’s been a change to the test.”
“Huh?” I made a dumb sound to the bomb that was dropped.
“We’ve decided to expand the scope of the test in a hurry. This was an order from the chairman himself. The reason for this is so that you’re all nurtured to deal with sudden crises. Thus, I’ll give you all a ten-minute lesson beforehand. So, open your textbooks to page X.”
Naturally, I expected the whole class to be in an uproar. Against all my expectations, however, the class was unexpectedly quiet. I opened my textbook with a sense of discomfort, only to see…
Huh? What? The page’s been torn…
Out of every page, only the one the teacher had specified had been tor. That’s when I realized what Matsuyama had been up to. I looked behind me to see the disgusting scum trying to stifle his laugh. I noticed everyone else looked at me sideways while doing the same.
I realized everything, including the sudden change in the test, had been Matsuyama’s doing. The lack of surprise in everyone but me was enough proof of that.
They got me!
I felt like the dumbest of all idiots to even consider having a slightly better view of him. Meanwhile, the class kept marching on.
This isn’t good. If I don’t do something, I’ll lose marks on the expanded scope!
You thought you had it in the bag!
I begged my dad persistently to let the format of this test change. I told him it was to prepare the students against the sudden crisis the world periodically inflicted upon people. He reluctantly agreed.
Thanks to me, the class would get higher scores, I’d be first in my grade, and Saki would be freed from the disgusting paws of that Creepy Panda. She would end up in my arms. Three birds with one stone!
Tearing up his book was insurance. Even in the unlikely event he was at the level to teach Saki how to study, that would be in the old scope of the test. Anything more than that would not have been possible to study without prior knowledge.
My brain juices flowed wildly as I realized once more I was a genius strategist. I was so confident in my (sure) victory, my mind wandered to the future I’d have with Saki.
However, Matsuyama was unaware he was up against a bonafide monster, way out of his league. As if to corroborate, that same monster thought wild things to himself as he watched that last-minute class.
I thought this would be a challenge, but a textbook’s not even necessary for this kind of stuff. Besides, we studied this two weeks ago.
After I’d finished the urgent lesson, I went ahead and solved every problem as I always had. My pencil slid across the paper.
T/N: Yup, I wanna bash Matsuyama’s head in.
In the concrete.
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