I don’t even know why I need to be here. This is so stupid.
“Mary-chan, we need to talk.”
Dr. Mori had called me in for a one-on-one meeting. It felt weird, since I don’t think I’ve ever needed to talk to her before. The only times we’ve really talked was when she assigned me those tutoring sessions with Kaz-
Looking at Dr. Mori, she seemed annoyed to be here too, since it was afterschool. Judging by the fancy dress underneath her old white lab coat and the make-up on her face, I guess she had something to do but had to deal with me first.
“Look Mary, the school’s been concerned about you recently.”
She skims through some documents on her clipboard.
“You’ve been slipping on grades, and the teachers are saying you’re not paying attention during class at all. Even though you won that track meet, your track statistics have been declining, and just looking at you I can tell you’re tired.”
It was true I was doing a little worse than I usually did. Everyone has a slump don’t they? I don’t know what’s happening, and obviously I would do something if I knew. That’s all!
“I don’t know. I-I’m only a little tired!” I pouted.
Dr. Mori gives a long sigh and puts down the clipboard.
“Is it Kazuki-kun?” she reluctantly says.
The mention of his name catches me off-guard. I suddenly feel a sharp tingly feeling inside my chest.
“W-Why would I care about that idiot!” I yelled.
Dr. Mori smugly takes a sip from her coffee mug.
“What do you like about him?”
T-This is so embarrassing!
I wasn’t sure how to answer her. Even though I met Kazuki as a kid, I’ve only begun speaking to him ever since high school started. Even though we were at odds at one another in the beginning, he’s become one of my closest friends, even closer than some members of the track team.
At least until recently…
It didn’t help that Kazuki couldn’t really give me an answer after the school trip, and that I sort of forced him into pretending to be my boyfriend as a result. Ever since that incident, Kazuki and I somehow drifted further apart; with the only thing binding us together was my stupid and impulsive decision.
I’m such an idiot!
Were we friends out of convenience? Are my feelings for him simply nothing more than a crush?
N-No! It can’t be…can it?
If only I could somehow talk to Aka-nee about it. But the fact was our whole group hasn’t spoken to each other at all. It only seemed like Akane and Daisuke-kun had gotten closer together.
I was oblivious of Daisuke’s feelings for me. Being my classmate in 2-A, I just never saw him like that. He was just my friend I would talk to and mess around with in class. Sometimes I would see Daisuke-kun a little down, but he kept dodging the questions, so I thought I was just another friend to him. Kazuki-kun had been on my mind ever since our tutoring sessions. Kazuki has been honest with me since the beginning unlike Daisuke. Maybe I shouldn’t have said how I felt. Was I being selfish and thinking of only myself when I didn’t even think about Akane-chan’s feelings? Kazuki was someone genuine; someone who treated me didn’t treat me differently than others.
“It’s the way he makes me feel when I’m around him. He accepts me for who I am, not just the Roadrunner.”
I like him a lot though…
“B-But it’s not like I l-like him or anything!”
I bury my red face into my hands.
Why did I say that? Why am I lying to myself?
Maybe it was just a defense mechanism for me. For some reason, I just couldn’t admit my feelings to her.
Dr. Mori spits out her coffee into my face followed by a fit of laughter. She hands me a handkerchief as I dry my soaked face.
“Kids these days!” as she laughed even harder.
I shouldn’t have let that slipped!
Finally, Dr. Mori composes herself, clearing her throat with a cough.
“Mary, it seems to me you have some very interesting people in your life.”
She wheels her chair closer to me.
“To be honest, the way you describe him, it makes it sound like you’re in…love.” she reluctantly lets out.
“L-Love?!?” I sense my face getting warmer and warmer.
“But you’re the one who has to decide what you want.” she says. “It pains me to say this, but you can’t fix these problems unless you face those head on.” she explains.
She was right. I’m in denial. Real life doesn’t have a reset button.
“I’m not saying it was wrong of you to confess your feelings for him, but you need to know those words come with a weight. Did you really mean those words?” she asks.
I take a deep breath.
“Yes.” I say with confidence. “I love Kazuki Kaneshiro so very much.”
I can feel tears welling up in my eyes, but I refuse! I’m not gonna cry anymore.
Dr. Mori smiles at me.
“Ah, young love, isn’t that the greatest?”
Dr. Mori extended her right pinky towards me.
“If you ever need to talk about something, come to me. I’ll always listen. I promise.”
I didn’t need any stupid adults to help me. I’ve never relied on anyone to get what I wanted my entire life. But for some reason, I didn’t want to push her away. It just didn’t feel right with me.
“Us girls have to stick together don’t we?” she says with a smile.
I take up her promise and wrap my pinky around hers.
It was another normal day at school I guess. Except that I haven’t seen Yuki-san or Daisuke around at all. Usually by now, Daisuke and I would’ve grabbed lunch together or something, but not today.
Would we ever do that again…?
Someone calls for my name. I turn my head behind me, to see the new transfer student Al walking towards me.
Oh crap! Is he gonna fight me for Mary again?
I start jogging away, moving as fast as I can without attracting much attention, though I guess it’s futile since everyone else in the hallway trained their eyes on us.
Gotta go fast!
I start running outside of the buildings, and find myself at the edges of the school campus. Thankfully, there was no one around us.
“Hold up Kazuki-san!” he shouts.
Before I knew it, a hand appears on my shoulder.
“Jeez, did you not hear me? I’ve been looking for you all day.” as he tries to catch his breath.
“L-Look Al, I d-don’t want any trouble here.”
Al’s been suspiciously quiet the past few days. Maybe it was his friend reining him in, but he hasn’t said anything about Mary for a while. Last I recall he explicitly said that he was going to marry Mary.
And I’m still pretending to be her boyfriend.
“Trouble?” Al raises an eyebrow. “Actually it’s sort of something else.”
“What?” I say, confused.
I thought Al hated me? Aren’t we supposed to be enemies or something along those lines? It felt uncomfortable to suddenly feel as though we’re friends.
“Listen Kazuki-san, I got a problem.” Al moves closer to me.
He looks around us, making sure no one was eavesdropping.
“I think that girl Shion likes me.” he whispers.
“Okay…” I reply. “Does that mean you’re gonna leave Mary-“
“No, no, no!” he interrupts me.
“I’m never gonna give up on Mary!” he says passionately. “But this other girl, oh boy! She’s cute, she’s funny, and like we even shared our phone numbers.” he explains.
“That’s it…?” I respond, still confused as to why Al was telling me his love troubles.
“That’s it? That’s it? C’mon Kazuki-san, not every girl gives away her phone number so willy-nilly. I don’t even know how you managed to land Mary with your lack of knowledge on women.” he sighs.
I can’t believe I’m getting a lecture on this…
“So anyways, what should I do? I’m not exactly sure what the women of this country like.” he asks.
“I don’t know, why are you asking me?” I say, a bit annoyed.
Al steps away for a moment, and ponders in thought.
“Hmm…because you’re my rival in love? You must have some good advice since you’re with my Mary.”
That’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard yet.
I suppose there was no way for me to get out of this without giving somewhat of an answer.
Okay Kazuki, here’s the plan. Just say whatever he wants to hear.
“Ask her out?” I suggested half-heartedly.
Al snaps his fingers. “You’re right!”
“Having done my research, I believe that the best idea for a date would be a movie! Yes, that’s it!” he says with excitement.
I cheer him on sarcastically.
Al suddenly hugs me. “Thank you very much Kazuki-san!”
He then bows his head.
I try to recollect myself from this cringey situation, but I suddenly feel a pressure around me. I turn my head, and my chest immediately tightens.
There he was, walking down the hallway towards me. But for some reason, instead of Yuki-san like usual, Shion was accompanying him.
“What’s that guy doing with my Shion!” Al says with his mouth agape.
“My former best friend.” as I immediately avert my gaze from him.
“There you are Al!”
Shion waves frantically at him.
“S-Shion! N-Nice to see you.” he says, holding back his anxiety.
“Wanna eat lunch together? I made us a lunch box...” she invites.
Al immediately accepts.
“See ya Kazuki.”
Shion drags away Al. Now it was only Daisuke and I. Suddenly it felt as if we were at a Mexican standoff, waiting for the first person to blink.
“I’m glad to see you’re chummy with a new best friend.” says Daisuke with contempt in his voice.
“It’s not like that…”
Daisuke scoffs at me. “Is that so?”
I stay silent. The awkward silence is interrupted by Daisuke’s phone. I clearly see it is Yuki-san calling him. He ignores it, and puts it back into his pocket.
Was he trying to antagonize me? He made his phone obviously clear.
“Why didn’t you pick up?”
Daisuke shrugs. “The less she knows the better.”
I feel my fist instinctively curl. I suddenly wanted to punch him so badly for treating her like that.
“What’s wrong with you?” I stand up to him.
Yuki-san had pleaded me to break through to him. I’m not sure what exactly happened, but Yuki-san was on edge the entire time. It was like she wanted to say something to me, but she couldn’t. Was she scared? Afraid? I’m not sure.
Daisuke tilts his head slightly.
“What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with you.” he points his finger into my face. “And to believe that you said nothing to me, your best friend, this entire time.”
“What are you talking about?” I ask.
Daisuke reveals the truth.
“I know about your other life.”
Time feels as if it slowed down. Suddenly, I can hear my heartbeat racing faster, as my hands get clammier and clammier.
“Yui doesn’t have much time left, and I need a cure.”
This is the best!
“Here you go Al.”
She reveals the two lunchboxes she had been holding onto. Obviously, there’s no way I could say no to homemade lunch! I’ve always wanted to experience something like this in this country.
Maybe we could go to the rooftop? Or outside? Oh boy!
My heart starts racing with excitement.
“Yes! Thank you so much for inviting me.” I instinctively bow my head.
“Tee-hee!” she smiles. “How about we eat outside here today? It’s nice and beautiful.”
Shion is literally the cutest girl I’ve ever met. I think she’s even on par as Mary in how adorable she is. W-Well maybe not as cute as Mary, but still! Very cute!
Say something idiot!
Being the prince of a country, it didn’t really provide me many opportunities to speak with girls often. Sure I’d get attention from them at parties and galas, but in terms of one-on-one experiences, I practically have none! Thankfully I did some research before I arrived, and based on the books I bought, the first sure way to steal a girl’s heart is to compliment her. Being the only people around, I better take advantage of this opportunity!
“N-Not as beautiful as you…” I say, brimming with confidence.
Shion looks at me with reluctance.
“Haha…thanks?” she forces a smile.
I want to kill myself. Ah! How cringe was I? Frederick and even my new friend/enemy Kazuki would’ve done better than I.
Smooth move Al…
Shion picks up a sausage shaped like an octopus.
“Say ahhh…” as she moves it towards my face.
Immediately I could tell she cooked the meat to perfection. It melts in my mouth, as my taste buds are covered in sensations I’ve never felt before. I keep eating my lunch box.
“Did you like it…?” Shion asks.
“Like it? I loved it!” I respond with affection.
I keep eating, but I drop my chopsticks.
Suddenly my vision starts to wane. My head starts feeling dizzy as it looked like the world around me was spinning around. I want to lie down for a second, but before I knew it, I was already on the ground.
Was there something…?
I make out Shion’s silhouette, looking down on me. I can’t hear what she’s saying as I think I’m about to be unconscious in a few seconds. I don’t even have enough time to process all this.
“I’m glad you enjoyed your lunch…” I make out.
My eyelids automatically close, and I pass out.
Pick up Daisuke!
I do not know what’s happened to him, but it has been almost a day since I have seen him. Usually by now he is with me, here, by Yui-chan’s side.
“Is big bro coming big sis Akane?” she asks.
“Of course…” I say to console her. “Maybe he is picking up some food or something?” I smile instinctively.
I turn my attention back to my phone, trying my best to put on a brave face for Yui.
I message him once more, and I await his response.
Is there anything else I can do?
I scroll through my phone’s messages. The only other people I had in my contacts were Kaneshiro-san, and Mary.
I muster up my courage and message Kaneshiro-san first.
“Kaneshiro-san, have you made any progress with Daisuke?” I text him.
I had spoken to him recently about Daisuke’s increasing instability. I am not sure what happened, but for the past few times I have met up with him, he seems much more aggressive and standoffish. I know there is a good person underneath, but right now, Daisuke is almost reverting back to his old ways.
Even Junpei warned me about it.
I lightly slap my face, as I try not to worry too much about this. I look back at my phone, only to find that Kaneshiro-san still has not replied back.
That is strange…
Usually he would respond almost immediately, but it has been over fifteen minutes at this point.
Maybe I should…?
I click the dial button on the phone. Kaneshiro-san’s number is disconnected. I try again, and I hear the same dial tone. Suddenly I can feel my heart rate increase.
“Are you okay big sis Akane? You look a little pale…” Yui points out.
“I am fine Yui. Thank you for asking.” I try to play it off as best I can.
Now Kaneshiro-san…? What is going on?
Doubts begin to form inside my head. I know that Daisuke and Kaneshiro-san have not been getting along together recently, but he would never go that far…would he?
Maybe Mary knows something…?
“Yui-chan, I will be right back. I need to…go to the bathroom.” I make up an excuse.
I quickly exit the hospital room, and dial Mary’s phone number. She picks up to my surprise.
“A-Akane?” I hear her shrill voice. “Akane? Are you there?”
“Y-Yes.” she snaps me out of my daze.
“Have you seen Kaneshiro-san or Daisuke recently?” I ask.
“Kazuki and Daisuke? No, not really. I think I saw them here at school earlier in the day. Why?”
I instinctively gasp in shock.
“I have not seen Daisuke in almost a day. I am a bit worried that he might have done something with Kazuki…” I explain.
“I-I do not know what to do.” my voice quivers.
“Just calm down Akane! I’m sure they’re fine.” she tries to console me.
Suddenly, I get a message notification from Kaneshiro-san. I immediately check it out. It reads:
“Call the police, I’m held hostage with-“
The message is cut short. It seems he did not have enough time to write a full message.
“Akane? Are you still there? Hello?!?” Mary shouts through my phone.