Part 12: An OutingPart 12 - An Outing
Everyone chattered about where they planned to go next. While the students in clubs gathered with their fellow club members and headed off to different rooms, there were also a lot of people preparing to head straight home.
As soon as the closing bell rang, I, too, usually got my stuff together for going home.
But today I fretted in my seat, making an effort not to meet my classmates' gazes.
Ordinarily, it'd be ultra exciting to be waiting to head out somewhere with a girl.
But right now I was nothing but melancholy.
I couldn't calm down. My stomach ached.
It was the first time I'd promised to meet with a girl, so I had no clue how to handle myself.
In a certain sense, that might be better than if she really came....
In fact, there was no need to wait for her so faithfully. Wouldn't it be fine if I forgot all about her and left?
Alrighty, time to go home. Whatever the case, we were in different grades, and if I stood her up today, we'd probably never meet again for the rest of our lives.
Decision made, I stood up.
Someone pounded me on the back. I didn't have to see his face to know whose doing it was. Misumi-kun was the only person in the class curious enough to call out to me.
"You aren't going home? You always disappear right when the bell rings. I'd secretly named it 'Takumi's supersonic flight home,' man."
"I, I'm leaving now...."
How'd he know....!?
"Cause you looked extra fidgety. And you kept checking out the classroom entrance."
But it'd be better not to saying anything careless here. You mustn't forget, Takumi. At this school, you've gotta stand out as little as possible. You've gotta be like air.
"I'm not really waiting for anyone...."
"Oh? Then what was with that pause just now?"
"Th, that was...."
Shit. Misumi-kun wasn't a bad guy, but he could really get obnoxious at times like this. Learn to read between the lines.
What a mess.... It was Misumi-kun's fault that I'd lost my chance to escape....
Unusually for him, Misumi-kun seemed shaken. Throwing an arm around my shoulder, he looked at me steadily.
"Hey, Taku. Explain yourself."
"She's your girl?"
"It, it's not like that...."
I'd told Misumi-kun a million times that I had no interest in the third dimension.
"You're a hikikomori. Where and how the hell did you get to meet a hottie like her?"
"Ye, yesterday she started hanging around me all of a sudden...."
"So, in other words, you got reverse-picked-up, huh? Ehhh, you little!"
He grabbed me by the jaw until I started to wobble. With that, Misumi-kun finally released me.
"Got it, so I guess there's some pretty curious types out there. But hey, I'm a little relieved to see you've got normal inclinations."
"Anyway, we're not really...."
"Heheheh, is that so? Keep it up, Taku!"
Misumi-kun wasn't listening to me. Getting single-handedly worked up about it, he thumped me on the back even more fiercely than before. Uuh, he was definitely teasing me.
"I, I'm telling you, she's not my...."
As Misumi-kun drove me away, I stumbled up to Yua. In the end, I hadn't been able to run away....
It'd caused me tons of trouble.
When I took a look back at Misumi-kun, he grinned and stuck his middle finger up at me. I had a hard time telling whether he was picking a fight with me or trying to encourage me.
It'd be aggravating to keep dealing with him. I'd better get out of school posthaste.
OST: Tender Hearts
S, so nervous....
Going home from school together with a 3-D girl, why, that almost made it seem like I had a life. I'd thought that kind of thing belonged in a world with no relation to me.
I'd never have dreamed of being able to experience it....
But at the moment, I was coming under silent pressure from Yua. How could I be so nervous when all we were doing was walking side by side?
And I had no clue as to Yua's true identity or her goal. What could she expect from a creepy otaku like me....?
"Ah, forget it...."
Since she'd started talking so suddenly, startlement had made my voice come out weirdly....
It seemed that Yua was nervous as well. Her expression was strained. It made her seem rather innocent, for an older girl. She might be unexpectedly moe....
That said, though, it was all I could do just to glance at her out of the corners of my eyes. Looking at her straight on shouldn't have been a big deal, but sheer embarrassment made it impossible for me.
"The day before yesterday, did you watch Burachu?"
"Eh, ye, yeah...."
"There was one part that I still don't understand very well."
"Th, that got, er, foreshadowed the week before. They inserted a quick scene where Seira's cell phone starts ringing, and the caller display shows Susumu's name...."
"Now that you mention it, there was a scene like that."
"Yamataku likes sticking in lots of minor foreshadowing like that. You can find the same kind of thing in Kingoru."
"Ya, Yamataku is a fan nickname for Burachu's director. And Kingoru is the anime he directed before Burachu."
"Hmm. So Yamataku-san must be a famous director."
"Well, I like his stuff. If I had to say why--"
I'd gotten so into it that I'd talked way too much....
It was because Yua was good at listening. She heard me out with true interest while I showed off my knowledge in all kinds of areas.
That was why, even though I was aware it had to be a trap, I found myself wanting to tell her everything I knew.
"Haa. My heart's kind of started racing...."
"Um, please don't leave before me, okay?"
I'd been casing the place for a chance to escape, but Yua kept throwing anxious looks at me, so I couldn't move an inch.
Afterward, at Yua's request, we looked around the rest of the store.
An overjoyed Yua told me, "No matter how much money I brought here, I'd want to buy more," but I didn't have the energy to smile back at her.
She seemed gentle and timid, but she was actually pretty stubborn. She'd couch her demands in such a way that they didn't seem at all demanding or selfish.
That was dark of her, man. Yua had to be one of those dark characters.
Yua abruptly asked me right as we arrived at the station.
A cell phone, huh.... I feebly shook my head.
"You don't have one.... is there no other way to contact you?"
What did she plan to accomplish by contacting me? Surely she didn't intend to make me mail her over every little thing?
"Ah, but Nishijou-kun, don't you have a computer?"
"When the figure comes out--"
"I'll have to go pick it up."
"Could we, well, go together again....?"
"I still don't quite have the courage to go to Animeight.... by myself, so...."
How skillfully done.
This girl was ingenious.
Even though I understood that, I couldn't refuse her. I'd feel bad if I turned her down....
The third dimension was truly terrifying....
Was it because I wasn't used to talking to people? Or because her conversational skills were just that good...?
Whatever the case, it didn't seem like Yua would be ready to return until I gave her my email address. Yet she anxiously looked up at me through her glasses.
For some reason, it stole away my will to resist.
Despite the fact that goose bumps covered my whole body, and chills were running down my spine, I could neither run away nor reject her.
There was something bizarre about Yua.... This atmosphere.... wasn't normal....
I couldn't clearly explain why it wasn't in normal words.... But in any case, it was abnormal....
I stood there, dazed, for a full ten minutes, feeling as though my soul had been sucked out of me--