The four girls were laid across three beds that were pushed together, a deck of cards and a spinner from the truth or dare game in the centre.
"So, let's do this then!" Saki smiled, her legs swinging playfully in the air behind her.
Underneath her, she was hugging onto a panda plushy that was almost half the size of her, it's head sticking out in full view.
'Hehe... tonight, Aya, I will figure out who it is you like...!! And then I will crush him like a little bug!' Saki was thinking excitedly to herself. 'I didn't believe it at first, that there was a possibility that Aya could have a crush on someone else. Aya's busy all the time between helping out at the school, her studies, volunteering at school clubs, archery after school, aikido before school, her family's banking empire, yada, yada, but I can't forget about what I overheard....'
Back a few days ago....
A fluff of daffodil blond hair bounced at the corner of the school building, but no one noticed her presence amongst the lively students walking around the school grounds on their lunch break.
Saki was hiding behind the school building, dressed in her school uniform, her hair tied up behind her head modestly. In contrast to the cutesy outfit she wore casually, Saki maintained a low-presence style when at school.
She bit onto the end of her thumb, glancing around the grounds for something.... and then, she spot it, her face brightening up instantly like sunshine on a rainy day.
A girl, dressed in the same school uniform as everyone else around, and yet, the girl exhibited an outstanding beauty like a single diamond in a box of marbles.
Raven black hair with every individual strand seemingly to yield an impeccable perfectness falling over a moonlight white face that should had been on the front cover of a model magazine and not on a schoolgirl in her second-year of senior high.
The girl was walking by the side of three other girls -- one with brown hair and round glasses that seemed like the typical girl you'd find reading a book somewhere in a library, one with light-purplish hair that was done up in a fashionable knot, expensive make-up complimenting a pretty face with a smug smile, and another girl, black-hair and small, her presence barely noticeable.
"Waaah....." Saki mouthed to herself, blushing, as she raised her hand preemptively to stop any would-be nosebleeds. "Aya looks so beautiful today..... as she does every day....."
Saki wanted to walk up and greet Aya, and her legs almost subconsciously walked forward too without her knowing, but then she noticed a group of girls had the same thought as she did.
The group of girls approached Aya from behind, rushing to chase up to her, and then the light-purplish hair girl turned around and growled.
"Aya's busy today!! Leave her alone, okay?!"
With that, the group of girls froze in their spots, one was even shaking in her knees.
"Ah, is that right..." One girl from the group said disappointedly.
Aya and the three girls continued walking ahead, students around the grounds staring at Aya, but not approaching, learning from the mistake made by the group of girls.
"Grrrr, damn that Fumiko....." Saki mumbled to herself, still hiding behind the corner of the school building as she watched Aya disappear from her sights. "If she wasn't there, then I could go up and say hi to Aya...."
Sighing, Saki turned the other way, walking back to the classroom as she pondered how she could create an opportunity to greet Aya.
Walking past the corridors inside the school building, Saki was deep in her thoughts when....
"--missing archery these days, isn't she?"
"It's not like Aya at all, I just thought that was interesting..."
Saki's ears twitched, overhearing the word 'Aya' in the background and she stopped in her spot, listening carefully now.
"Perhaps Aya has something else to do after school."
"Someone with a perfect attendance like her? What could she possibly be doing?"
"Maybe, Aya's seeing someone? Hehe, who knows..."
Saki felt her heart twisting, and she bit onto her lower lips, turning around to walk to the other side of the shoe lockers where she heard the conversation coming from.
A girl and a guy stood by the lockers, glancing at Saki when she appeared.
"There's no way that Aya's seeing anyone else...!!" Saki blurted out, her face flushed in anger, "Dating is against the school rules and Aya would never break the school rules...!!"
After a moment of surprise, the girl laughed, brushing her umber brown hair away from her glasses, "Those are archaic school rules from long ago, you know? As long as you be discrete about it, everyone's doing it and the teachers don't really care these days."
"Wh, wha...?" Saki mouthed.
"Don't tell me.... you still haven't been on any dates....?" The girl stiffled a giggle, staring at Saki. "Oh, you poor child..."
"T, that's none of your business...!!" Saki blushed furiously, "A, anyways, Aya's not the type of person to break school rules... even if everybody else is doing it!"
"Oho," The girl's scarlet red eyes sharpened at Saki, behind her glasses, "I wouldn't be so sure about that."
"What do you mean...?" Saki asked, feeling a bit more cautious, seeing the look in the girl's eyes. Something told her that this girl was no ordinary girl despite her inconspicious appearance.
"Her grades are falling, she's skipping out on club volunteering some days, missing her archery sessions," The umber brown haired girl sighed with a shrug of her shoulders, "I mean, it's obvious, isn't it?"
"What's obvious...?" Saki asked, crossing her arms defensively, "I don't get what you mean, just say what you're trying to say...."
"Kuku..." The girl giggled, again glancing at Saki with those sharp scarlet-red eyes as though mocking her. "Of course you wouldn't understand... I mean look at you... you look like you still haven't graduated elementary school..."
Saki glanced down at herself confused for a moment, then realised that she was referring to her height and child-like figure.
"G, gah-- y, y, you meanie...!!" Saki glanced back up at the girl, clenching her fists by her side.
Despite her outer appearance, Saki was still one of the top 20 ranked students in Hibiya High and the youngest heiress out of her siblings from the prestigious Haruna houeshold -- a family that operated a monopoly in the oil and mining sector in Japan. To be insinuated that she was a 'child' was an attack on her family name that she wouldn't take sitting down.
"Ka...." The umber brown haired girl palmed her face, shaking her head. "I'm going to just pretend that you didn't say that stupid insult..." She lifted her head from her hand, trying to be serious. "What I'm trying to say, is that she's obviously seeing someone, silly!"
"S, seeing someone....? Aya....?" Saki couldn't comprehend those two things in the same sentence together.
"Yes," The girl sighed, leaning her shoulder on the locker next to her. "I mean, it has to be, right? If you put two and two together..."
"Th.... there's no way!!!" Saki exploded, then turned sharp on her heel and ran.
When she was gone, the boy besides Yui sighed, having been silent throughout the conversation.
"So... you really think she will be of any use...?" He asked doubtfully.
Yui turned to face the boy, her scarlet-red eyes piercing him.
"Don't underestimate that girl, Hiro..." Yui said in a serious tone, "She might have... a few loose screws in her head... but she is a daughter from the Haruna family after all. Their family didn't manage to dominate the whole of Japan's mining and oil industry out of sheer luck."
"..." Hiro was silent at Yui's comment. He trusted Yui's judgement over his own. "Well... was what you were saying true?"
"About Aya Kuramoto...." He elaborated. "Is she really dating someone...?"
"Like hell I would know," Yui yawned, stretching her arms up in the air. "Maybe she is, maybe she isn't. I don't really care about that. I just said that to get Saki's head turning."
Saki was running with no idea where she was going, her vision blinded by the tears running down her face. However, even with her blurry vision, she could see faces turning to glance at her from the corner of her eyes, and then, the quiet giggles.
"She's crying again..."
"That crazy obsessed Aya fangirl..."
The whispers followed her, wherever she went. She thought she had grown used to them by now, but the sting in her heart suggested otherwise.
Finding a restroom door ahead, Saki ran for the restroom, turning in and slamming the door shut behind her.
Then, she went into one of the empty stalls, locking the door as she sat down on the closed toilet, huddling to herself and weeping silently.
Her sobs echoed quietly in the empty restroom where there was no one around to hear.
Of course, there was no one around.
She had somehow made her way to the usual toilets where she would hide in during lunch times or whenever she was feeling depressed at school. This was a toilet located at the top floors of the school building which was seldom used.
She didn't have any friends at school so she often ate lunch in here to avoid the judging stares of other students.
Despite being from a wealthy family like most of the students at Hibiya High, Saki was what the other students considered a 'weird' girl.
Unlike her peers that were interested in the latest luxury fashion, make-up, boys, or gossip, Saki preferred to play games from her childhood like tag, hide and seek, things that everyone else had grown out of after entering junior high. The only fashion she was into were lolita outfits, which other students considered crude and childish (partly because those were the only clothing that ever fitted her).
"When are you going to grow out of it....?"
"We're not in elementary school anymore, Saki...."
"Do you even know how old you are...?"
It wasn't long after junior high when the bullying and the social isolation started.
Her old friends stopped talking to her and the teachers had grown tired of trying to help her fit in.
The only one that was ever kind to her was....
"Hey, don't talk to her like that."
A voice, out of nowhere, like an angel coming down from heaven.
The girls from the popular crowd that had been taunting Saki at her desk froze, seeing who had spoken up.
Saki glanced up wearily from her desk and her eyes lit up when she saw the most beautiful girl she had ever seen in her life.
Raven black hair, falling like silk, and striking hazel eyes that stood out distinctively amidst the storm of perfection of a face, her slender maroon lips pursed into a frown.
This was a 14-year old Aya from junior high, but her beauty was still indisputably pronounced though with a younger face and shorter hair.
"A, Aya...." The ringleader of the girls that had been taunting Saki stuttered. "W, we were just..."
"Please, I know what you were doing. Don't take me for a fool."
"So what if she doesn't like the things you like?" Aya said, "That's no reason to pick on her."
The girls remained silent, their eyes glancing downwards, afraid to meet Aya's eyes.
Aya stood up from her desk, strolling over to where Saki was sitting.
Saki's heart was beating so fast in her chest, she was surprised that the rest of the class couldn't hear it.
"I think that's unique that you have different tastes to everyone else," Aya said to Saki, her deep hazel eyes staring into Saki's eyes with a gentle kindness, "It's boring when everyone else likes the same things and talks about the same things."
The whole classroom was now silent, staring quietly at the scene, while the girls that had been bullying Saki stood by the side of Saki's desk awkwardly, backing away from Aya.
Aya bent down, picking up the lolita fashion magazine that Saki had been reading and that the girls had knocked down to the ground besides Saki's desk.
"If everyone in the world was the same," Aya stood back up, placing Saki's book back on her desk, then she smiled at Saki, "then, we might as well be ants. It's our differences that makes us human."
At that moment, it felt like Saki's heart had just exploded out of her chest and she was left speechless, staring up into Aya from her seat on her desk.
Aya turned and walked back to her desk, and the classroom gradually resumed activity again, with the girls from the popular crowd walking out of the room silently, amidst judging glances.
"Uh, uhm....!!" Saki stood up from her desk with a flushed face, staring at Aya's back.
Aya had almost walked back over to her desk, she turned around, hearing Saki's voice.
"Yes?" Aya asked, a gentle smile on her elegant face.
"I, I love you...!!" Saki blurted out, her face burning red, but she didn't care about that.
Now the whole classroom was staring at Saki in bewilderment and Aya was blinking at a loss of words.
Saki could still remember that moment like it was just yesterday, the feelings she had at that time still as strong as ever even today.
Glancing across the bed at Aya, Saki placed her hands over her cheeks to hide her blush, trying to act casual.
'That's why.... I can't lose Aya to anyone...!' Saki thought to herself. 'And with this game... I will figure out if there is anyone out there that Aya has a crush on...!'
"I've finished shuffling the deck!" Mika announced, placing the deck of cards back at the centre between the four girls.
Saki shook her head, trying to concentrate.
"So we just have to pick a card, then do what it says...?" Hikaru asked.
"Not exactly," Saki said, "For this version of the game, we take turns picking a card, and then spin the spinner -- whoever the spinner lands on will have to perform what is written on the card, for example, answer a question written on the card, or sometimes the card will have a dare that the person who the spinner lands on will have to perform with the card picker."
"Okay..." Hikaru said unsurely.
"Don't worry, it will be a lot clearer when the game starts," Saki laughed, "we basically just have to follow whatever it says on the card."
"Isn't the cards usually separated between a truth pile and a dare pile?" Aya asked. "But we only have one deck of cards."
"Well, this version of the game is a bit different," Saki replied, glancing with a blush at Aya, "Cause usually everyone always picks truth, which is no fun. That's why truth and dare mixed up in this version!"
"Alright, I got it!" Mika said energetically, "Let's do it!"
"Ohkay~," Saki said, then picked up a card from the top of the deck.
"H, hey--! Why do you get to go first?!" Mika complained.
"Whaat?" Saki pouted at Mika. "The rules are always that the youngest player gets to go first, so I'm going first."
"What?" Mika said. "How do you know that there isn't someone else here that is younger than you?"
"Well, I just turned 15 a few months ago." Saki replied, the card she picked still unfolded in front of her.
Mika went silent at that.
Almost everyone at their second year of senior high was generally 16 to 17 years old.
"What the hell?!" Mika exclaimed. "Why are you so young?!"
"I skipped a grade, okay..." Saki sighed, "Anyways, let's begin!"
Saki flipped her card over, and the four girls leaned closer to read what it said.
TRUTH: Do you drool in your sleep?
"Hah!" Mika stiffled a laugh, "I bet that's a yes from you, Saki..."
"I don't answer the question, you sillyhead," Saki responded, "Now, I spin the spinner and it will decide who answers the question."
Saki gave the spinner a spin, and the pointer started going around between the girls.
Slowly, it landed on Mika.
"Wh, what the hellllll?!?!" Mika glanced at Saki suspiciously. "Did you do something to the spinner?"
"What do you mean?" Saki asked.
"Did you rig it obviously?!"
"Wh, what?! Is that how low you think of me? Of course not! I play by the rules of the game!!"
"Hurry up and answer the question," Saki said, "Do you drool or not?"
Mika glanced away, blushing.
"Yes...." Mika said.
Hikaru giggled lightly at that, while Saki bursted out laughing.
"Hahahhaha, and you were the one...." Saki could barely speak amidst her laughter, "You were the one saying.... Hahahahhaha....!!"
"What?!" Mika blushed, "Stop laughing! Okay?!"
"Hehehe...." Saki breathed, placing her face into her panda doll to try to stop her laughter.
"A, anyways, it's your turn!!" Mika said to Hikaru, trying to move the topic away from herself.
"R, right...." Hikaru said, feeling a bit nervous at what card she might pick.
Taking the top card, Hikaru flipped it over at the centre so that everyone could read it.
DARE: Striptease for 30 whole seconds. Do not spin the spinner.
The four girls went silent, reading the card.