Yuki-san was sitting quietly in front of me, with her long black hair draped over her shoulders. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I was going to accomplish my mission, but now I had an additional mission of helping out Daisuke and Kaneko-san. Quite frankly, I was barely making any significant progress on getting closer to Yuki-san, even with Akane’s help. After the Valentines’ Day incident, I can feel that there was an awkward tension between us since then. We just haven’t had an opportunity to talk more yet. The meek class president was still standing idly by for the class to calm down.
“G-Good morning everyone! T-Today we-e need to discuss what we are doing for the school festival…”
The class president was a pretty timid person. Tsubasa Takemi was chosen since she was “always the class president” according to the people that knew her. Although we weren’t really close, I can tell that she was a nice person, and at least tries to organize our class for activities and stuff. Class prez frequently misplaced her glasses, so it was common to see her sport a variety of back-up pairs just in case. Today however, she was wearing her standard clear-framed glasses that made her look somewhat like a librarian. She had a very soft-spoken voice like a mouse, but her diminutive demeanor demonstrated she was at least capable of swaying the hearts of our class.
People like cute stuff I guess.
I almost forgot that the school festival was coming up! Kasumigaseki High’s school festivals were the talk of the town. It seemed that we had a strange tradition of something going wrong one way or the other. For example, there was an infamous incident of evacuating the building because a class burned rice enough to set off the fire alarms, or that one incident a few years ago were a bunch of cats were set loose from a makeshift petting zoo (animals are forbidden now). Last year however, things went smoothly except the big relay race with the classes. I was the last option to be picked to participate since all the other substitutes had food poisoning the day before. Kaneko-san had a large margin when she passed the baton to me, and I managed to almost reach the finish line, until I tripped from my untied shoelaces. She still has not forgiven me for that. But besides the disappointing loss, all the classes were supposed to come up with an activity or some sort of event. If your event big, you could get help from the other classes, as long as you could also complete your own class’s event. Our festival lasted three days and your event had to be active for at least once a day. There would be a big fireworks display at the end of the last day at night, and it was great for couple to see together.
Maybe I could go with Yuki-san…?
“So let’s go around and ask for suggestions, is that ok with everyone…?” said class prez.
Class 2-B (unlike Class 2-A) wasn’t as energetic as the other class. We could already hear the random suggestions being screamed from Class 2-A through the walls. It wasn’t until Renge, the president of the literature club suggested something.
“I know, how about a maid café? That attracts a lot of people and all we have to do is serve coffee and snacks!”
She seemed really enthusiastic about this!
I could see class prez was embarrassed at the thought of dressing up as a maid, but all the boys (except me of course!) would love to see the girls dress up as maids.
That means I can see Yuki-san in her natural state!
“Of course, because of the boys here, why don’t we make them dress up as butlers too! So we can get boys and girls!” said Renge-san.
That’s a price I’m willing to pay!
“I’m willing to do that!” said one male student.
“Yeah! That sounds cute!” said another female student.
It seemed that the class decided on an activity. Maid and butler café it is!
“E-Everyone’s in favor…? Let’s do it Class 2-B!” clamored class prez.
The only person I could see that wasn’t in favor of it was obviously Yuki-san. After all, she still worked at the Purrfect Café here in this world. If anyone was an expert at being a maid, it was her. Me being one of the people that raised their hand in favor of the idea didn’t sit well with Yuki-san, who gave me a slight look of embarrassment.
“You better not tell anyone Kaneshiro-san!” she whispered.
“Of course Yuki-san! I’d never tell a soul!”
At what price do I have to pay to see Yuki-san in a maid outfit?!?
“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?” said Daisuke.
It was another day, another tutoring session with Kaneko-san and Yuki-san. Only difference this time was Daisuke joined us to help remember his lines. Apparently the students of Class 2-A chose to stage a play on the final date of the festival, and chose Romeo and Juliet of all things. Being the two most popular students in their class, Kaneko-san “the roadrunner of Kasumigaseki High” and Daisuke were picked as the two leads respectively. I couldn’t help but laugh at the idea of Daisuke repeating classical Shakespeare, and Kaneko-san trying to act. Nevertheless, these two were put in charge of learning their lines and carrying the class play on their infamous reputations. It was smart really, Daisuke would attract his low-key female following, and Kaneko-san already had a following of fans that would love anything she did. Even the school staff was looking forward to their play. Our maid café was going to rely heavily on Yuki-san leading us, even if she didn’t want her secret to come out.
“O…O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo…?” said Kaneko-san.
Kaneko-san tried to hide her face with her track suit after painfully reciting her line. It was obvious that the two of them were not looking forward to being on stage.
“Argh! This is so embarrassing! I couldn’t believe I got picked with you!”
She pointed her tiny index finger towards Daisuke.
“W-Well…it’s not like I wanted to do this either! It couldn’t be helped.” said Daisuke.
This is perfect!
Since Kaneko-san and Daisuke were a couple in the other world, this was the perfect opportunity for them to get closer together. It was like divine intervention that forced them to interact with each other. It was going to take a lot of work for them to admit their feelings for one another. It was the classic romantic-comedy situation! In the meantime, Yuki-san was visibly annoyed at our tomfoolery. She had no time to waste on drama. She closed the book she was reading loudly.
“Ahem…If we could get back to studying that would be pleasant.” said Yuki-san.
Her orders managed to shut down Kaneko-san and Daisuke’s arguing instantly. But she wasn’t cruel since she said she would help them remember their lines after studying.
“Akane! You’re so cruel!” said Kaneko-san.
After the incident, surprisingly Kaneko-san was trying very hard to get closer to Yuki-san, if not even more than I was! Even though Yuki-san didn’t want to admit it, Kaneko-san was the only other female she could relate to, being rivals and all.
Kaneko-san’s casual attitude towards Yuki-san catches her off guard and she tries to hide her blush.
“Ahem…will you be joining us also Akatsuka-san?”
“I guess I’ll stay here for now. Might be good to study some more since Dr. Mori has been hassling me.” said Daisuke.
As of now, our group expanded to me, Yuki-san, Daisuke, and Kaneko-san.
What an odd group of people…
My train of thought is interrupted when Yuki-san snaps at me.
“Kaneshiro-san, it would be best if you stopped day-dreaming and went back to looking over my literature notes.”
As the Ice Witch, she coldly stared at me.
I better get back to work.
A few hours passed by with our studying, and Daisuke was the first to leave due to something coming up. With his time here, I don’t think he managed to make any progress studying or learning his lines for the play. All I could do was wish the best for my partner in crime.
If only they picked something like the Masked Avenger or something.
Yuki-san was the next to leave since it was time for her shift at the Purrfect Café. I thanked her for her help on memorizing the lines and asked if she could give some input on how a maid café would work. Needless to say, she wasn’t very thrilled with that idea.
“I’ll think about it Kaneshiro-san. Good work today. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
For the first time in a while, she smiled to me as she left the room. She suddenly stops and turns around back to me.
“Oh! Before I forget, h-here is my contact information. Just in case you have questions to ask me of course.” said Yuki-san.
“Thanks Akane-chan! I’ll message you every night!” says an excited Kaneko-san.
Kaneko-san and I exchange information with Yuki-san, before she finally bids us farewell again. Strangely enough, Yuki-san’s phone number was identical to Akane’s from what I remembered.
I’d better keep that in mind, but one step at a time.
Now it was only me and Kaneko-san alone together again. It felt nostalgic to be just me and the roadrunner, when I was the master and she was the student. But now the tables have turned, and honestly she’s probably smarter than me (for now). She was working on her lines as Juliet, but I could notice she was thinking about something. I looked at her, and we had that moment when someone makes eye contact and immediately looks away.
I should say something.
“How are your lines Mar-?”
Oh crap! I thought I was in World A(kane)!
“I-I mean Kaneko-san!”
She became flustered at my sudden outburst and started to cover her face with the dirty sleeves of her trademark red tracksuit. She started to take some deep breaths and tried to recompose herself. I tried to hide my slip of the tongue.
“U-uh…it’s going well Kazuki! O-of course this is easy peasy no problem! I hope that idiot Daisuke can learn his lines!” said Kaneko-san.
Phew! I guess she didn’t notice…
“I’m sure Daisuke will; he never lets anyone down.”
Kaneko-san went back to her script, randomly repeating the lines aloud.
“Say Kazuki. Are you busy right now?”
“Just going over more of the literature flash cards, why?”
She stood up and went towards my side of the table. I put the rest of my literature flash cards in a neat stack. She held out her rustled script, marked with notes.
“D-Do you mind being Romeo for me? It’ll help me remember my lines better if I had someone to practice with!” said Kaneko-san.
“Of course, Kaneko-san, a master always helps his student in need!” as I give out a hearty laugh. Her expression said otherwise and instead she cringed.
“Anyways, just help me out ok? From this part.”
Reading the script, it was pretty complicated. Most of the words and lines were not modern and instead translated traditionally. I’m not sure if I could remember these lines, but clearly Kaneko-san was trying really hard. Her whole class depended on her and Daisuke being able to nail the roles. We both stood up and tried to act out the lines.
“Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, which mannerly devo- devotion shows in this. For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do not touch, and palm to palm is holy palmers’ k-!”
She was annoyed at my response to her pausing.
“I know the line idiot! It’s just too embarrassing!”
We’re never gonna get this done.
“Let’s just keep going then. It’s getting late, lets at least finish this part.”
I warm up my voice to try to project it. If I recall anything from that play in elementary school where I was the tree, it was important to project your voice clearly and loudly.
“Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take. Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is purged!” I say.
“Then have my lips the sin that they have took.” said Kaneko-san as Juliet.
“Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged! Give me my sin again.”
“You kiss by the book…”
Just now I notice how close Kaneko-san was to me. During our whole act she stepped closer and closer to me, almost like she was in a trance as Juliet. She was close enough to me that I could smell her shampoo…
“Ahhh! Good job Kaneko-san!” as I step away from her.
My sudden movement alerts Kaneko-san, and she snaps out from her daze back into her usual energetic self.
“Th-…Thank you!” said an embarrassed Kaneko-san.
We got wayyy into character here.
Remember she likes Daisuke! Remember!
We thought it was best that we call it a day and start to head home with her.
We are walking along the road together and since the small rehearsal we had, and it’s quiet. Things are awkward between us. So far, I haven’t pushed Kaneko-san and Daisuke closer together at all, and I better think of something fast.
“S-So…Kaneko-san, do you like anyone?”
Time for a direct approach.
Kaneko-san was obviously shocked by my blunt question. She ran in front of me and lightly punched me in the shoulder.
“Wha…what kind of question is that?!?” she asked.
Her face was a cherry tomato red this time. She was really embarrassed.
She sighed and thought about her response.
“W-Well…there’s one person I like…”
“Who is it Kaneko-san?”
Kaneko-san lightly punched me again.
“I-I’m not gonna tell you idiot! You won’t believe me when I say it!”
A maiden’s got to have her secrets. It seems I won’t get a name from her.
“At least tell me what he’s like. Please?”
Kaneko-san hesitated a bit. I hoped that spending time with her this past year or so had at least cemented my status as someone she could depend on and trust.
“He’s…an idiot, annoying, and stupid! I don’t even know why I like him!” she said.
Women are weird…
“But he’s one of the nicest and most thoughtful guys I’ve ever met. He’s strong, and not weak like I am. Despite that, he accepts me for who I am… I’ve known him for a while but I don’t know what to say to him…ahhh it’s useless!” pouted Kaneko-san.
Yep strong sounds like Daisuke. Your secret’s safe with me!
Time to commence the first step of Operation Maiden’s Heart!
“Maybe…I could help you get closer to this guy Kaneko-san?”
Kaneko’s attitude changed. She gave a confused look at me.
“How are you gonna do that?” she said.
I got her attention.
“Let’s say I have a feeling who it is…and maybe I can tell you what he likes and stuff. I’ll help you get closer together!”
“So tell me what he likes!” she asked. Her embarrassment was gone!
Knowing Daisuke for so long, he was a pretty simple guy to please. In fact, to be honest he and I had similar interests, being partners-in-crime after all. But there was one distinct difference between me and him. I always liked the Masked Avenger, but he preferred the “villain” of the show, the Phantom Defender. The Masked Avenger fought for truth, justice, and all that was right. The Phantom Defender was the opposite. The Phantom Defender in the TV show had a different set of principles than the Masked Avenger, willing to do whatever it took to administer his “twisted” sense of justice. The Phantom Defender believed in the “ends justifying the means,” which led to a lot of interesting episodes in the series, and conflict with the Masked Avenger. Sometimes however, the monster might be too strong for either single one of them to fight, so they teamed up together, making the Phantom Defender sort of like an anti-hero. The Masked Avenger and the Phantom Defender seemed like two sides of the same coin.
Man this kids show is deep!
“You know that Masked Avenger pin you have? Maybe that guy kinda likes the villain more, y’know, the Phantom Defender. Maybe that could help you?” I respond.
Kaneko-san nodded her head and her eyes gleamed at the helpful information.
“No problem Kaneko-san, good luck!” I say.
We both separate when we reach the usual crossroads.
Mother and Dad are home now. Dad’s been away again on another business trip, but he’s back to make up with my mother for missing Valentines’ Day. Apparently they planned to go on a night out, somewhere simple and relatively close by.
“Oh! I’ve heard of this café that’s very underrated, it’s called the Purrfect Café. A couple of my co-workers recommended it to me! They even have this new challenge that no one’s ever completed yet.” said my Dad.
My mother was trying to hold back her excitement in front of me, but everyone in the room knew she was interested.
“Maybe. If you don’t mind that place darling…”
My dad wrapped his arms around my mother.
“Then it’s settled honey! I bet you could complete that challenge since you always ate a lot when we were dating!” replied my Dad.
It was then that he just noticed he made a huge mistake with his wording. My mother was chopping veggies a little too vigorously that they sounded like hammering a bunch of nails. My dad was always like that; unknowingly say the right thing, but the wrong way. Mother was always serious with me, but with dad she was like a completely different person.
Adults are weird…
“See you my boy! We left you some dinner! Try that new herbal tea I got for you!”
My parents left soon after. There wasn’t much for me to do besides sleep and wake up tomorrow in World A(kane).
I begrudgingly look at my phone and it’s my boss. It’s one o’ clock in the morning…couldn’t he wait until sunrise?
A girl needs her sleep y’know! It was a tiring day at the maid café!
A customer got a little too touchy with me until I had to put him down. Thankfully I didn’t blow my cover with manager-san since he was “used to women in the workplace.” The light from my phone is too bright that it takes a second for my eyes to adjust from my pitch black room. I try to feel for my glasses that I left on the bedside counter but I couldn’t find it in the dark. Though it will probably be blurry, I could still see things up close.
“I WILL BE ARRIVING SHORTLY. EVERYTHING WILL BE TAKEN CARE OF. KEEP AN EYE ON HER UNTIL I COME. THANK YOU FOR A GOOD JOB -J.”
It looks like he’s going to come face-to-face with her. Finally…It feels like we’ve come to the end of a very long journey searching for her. I just hope that he can finally realize that I’m cut out for this job and give me the recommendation I need. It’s going to be an interesting reunion for the two of them…