Chapter 4 – Lunch Break
Entering lunch break, Ryou dashes out of the classroom before he is called by someone. Bread and drink was bought from the school store and while glancing around he went towards the rooftop.
When Ryou reaches the rooftop he confirms that there’s nobody there, sits on the ground leaning against the handrail and began to eat the bread.
They didn’t promise to eat together, so he ate without waiting for Erika and them.
After having eaten three of the breads, the three girls arrived.
They could each be seen with a bag likely to be their lunch.
Erika who notices Ryou goes close to him, takes out a sheet from her bag, and spreads it in front of him.
Why does she have a sheet, while thinking that he was invited onto the sheet and he took off his shoes as they were a hindrance.
“Sakuragi-kun, do you have a key to the rooftop?”
Erika asked curiously.
“No……, ah, do you have a key?”
“Not us, Azusa has one”
When Erika says so, Azusa shows the key to Ryou.
The preparation of the sheet seems to be ready.
Why does Azusa have a key to the roof she shouldn’t be allowed to have and only a teacher can have, he decided to look the other way.
The three open their respective lunches and began to eat.
“If you don’t have a key, how did you enter?”
Azusa asked a reasonable question, Ryou shrugs his shoulders and a lock picking tool was shown.
“Such a thing, to do that……”
Erika has an expression that she doesn’t know what to say, while Azusa has an expression of interest.
“You really are an interesting man……, that reminds me I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Suzuki Azusa. Call me as you like”
To be frank, Ryou didn’t want to meet. Thinking about what to call the other party, the self-introduction was returned.
“I see, Suzuki-san. I’m Sakuragi Ryou. If possible call me by my family name”
“You won’t use Azusa?”
“Jeez, but is that good?”
“You’re not an interesting man…………”
Azusa says in a sulky manner, something which is the opposite of what she said just now.
Erika who saw Azusa’s state, introduced the other girl in a hurry
“Uh, this girl is……”
But the girl with the short hair that was expressionless concisely announced her name.
“She’s a girl who doesn’t talk much……, usually when Azusa and me chat she sits across and listens, and speaks when spoken to”
Ryou who hears Erika’s introduction, thought Saki’s position to be enviable.
“……Best regards Yamaoka-san”
After that Erika said while peeking.
“And, my name is……, did I say it yesterday?”
“Nn? Ah……, is that so?”
Ryou certainly has the memory of receiving her self-introduction, but the motivation to remember her name was non-existent, so he didn’t remember the name.
That is to say, he attempted to alter his recollection so the self-introduction wasn’t received.
“Eh……? I think I said it……, therefore I thought Sakuragi-kun knew my name……?”
He thought a black aura could be seen from behind, his instincts began to ring like an alarm bell so he apologized right away.
“No, my bad……, you weren’t registered in my cellphone, and I’m not really good at remembering people’s names……”
Ryou said honestly. If you don’t register in his cellphone, it is true that he would soon forget.
Then Azusa burst into laughter.
“Erika who introduces herself, to think there’s a man who would forget it”
“Stop laughing, Azusa! Then, register me now and remember it!”
With those words Erika held out her phone, Ryou resigns himself, takes out his phone and they exchange with each other.
“Uh……hm, Fujimoto Erika……, ah, that’s right, it’s Fujimoto-san”
While Ryou confirms it, one bread after another is brought to his mouth.
“Then, next is me”
Azusa says so while presenting her phone.
It was noticed that Saki also silently held her phone out towards Ryou.
To tell the truth, Ryou wanted to refuse, but it felt like useless efforts to try and decline, a sigh of resignation was let out.
Ryou thought that since yesterday there’s an unusually high number of sighs of resignation, not thinking about it anymore, he exchanged with the two people.
Erika that was gladly looking at her phone noticed the bag besides Ryou and asked.
“Do you usually eat bread Sakuragi-kun?”
“Ah……, I don’t always have them. I also go to the cafeteria or a convenience store for box lunches”
“That bag……it looks to be full, do you always buy so much?”
“So much? It’s only 10 pieces”
“10 pieces!? Wouldn’t you usually have two or three?”
Azusa has an amazed expression.
“If you always have so many, don’t your lunch charges pile up?”
“Well, most of my part time job money goes to meal charges……”
Ryou has an expression saying it can’t be helped.
Erika was interested in Ryou’s words and asked about the situation.
“You’re working part time? Can you tell me what you do?”
“It’s not something a high school student really does……. It’ll help if you don’t enquire any further about this”
“I-Is that so? Sorry……?”
Erika at that time seemed to apologize unconsciously and her eyes become upturned.
Because Erika was in front of Ryou, he once again received a direct hit. Nervous because of that, he became flustered, averting his eyes he waves his hand saying not to worry.
Ryou, who doesn’t want to take any more damage to his mind, raised the main issue with the aim to quickly disperse.
“Then, you three”
Ahem, Ryou raises his voice.
“What is it?”
Being stared at simultaneously by three beautiful girls, because of the unusualness, Ryou felt tension as one would expect.
“Not much, I don’t want you to come to the classroom”
“Why, can I hear the reason?”
Ryou hesitant to say was scratching his head briskly said while mumbling.
“You stand out”
Erika doesn’t understand the meaning of it.
“The reason is you people stand out”
Azusa is observing Ryou, looking at him.
“You don’t want us to come because we stand out, is what you said?”
“Ah, however, you can come as you like to the classroom except if it’s to meet me. But stop coming to the classroom if you wish to see me”
Hmm……, after all……, do you not want to be stand out?”
“Well, to be frank, that’s right. I don’t want to stand out”
“Eeh!? Th-then, because you don’t want to stand out, you made that promise yesterday?”
“Ah, because if it’s known that I helped you I would become the target of a rumor. I was impatient after helping, truly”
“Hmm, it is unknown how you helped Erika, however you will surely become the target of a rumor if it’s known you saved her from three men.
“W-Why, he would be the target of a rumor because of me?”
Erika asked with a wondering face, Ryou also asked with a wondering face.
“You, with such a super cute face that would put television idols to shame like its foul play, isn’t that the reason for saying so?”
Lost for words, Erika’s face becomes bright red.
Seeing this Ryou finds it more and more strange.
“What is it? Something like cute, aren’t you accustomed to being called that?”
When Ryou says so, even her ears become bright red.
When Ryou looks inquisitively at Azusa, she laughs in a small voice.
“No, she is surely used to it being said, but it’s from men she thinks nothing of”
Ryou, who doesn’t seem have understood the meaning of Azusa’s words well, kept talking.
“With this plain appearance of mine, I can live without attracting attention, when such a transcendent beautiful girl abruptly comes to me one morning, would it not attract attention, in fact since entering high school this is the first time I stood out……, you, are you fine?”
While Erika becomes red to the neck, she squeezed out her voice.
Azusa who was enduring from bursting out in laughter, took a photo of Erika with her cellphone.
Erika starts to hide her face desperately.
“Hey, Azusa, stop……”
Azusa ignores what Erika said and continues to take photos, and urges Ryou to continue the talk.
“Sakuragi-kun, go on”
“Ah……? Is it fine?”
“It’s fine, go on”
Ryou clears his throat, and said a crucial part.
“Therefore, if possible I don’t want to come into contact with you people anymore…………”
Before he can finish saying so, Erika changes her facial expression, approaches Ryou, and grabs onto him.
With a red face, she questions Ryou closely. Because of Azusa her eyes were also a little teary. Ryou seeing that sort of Erika is confused.
“No……, therefore……you stand out……”
“Hmm……why would you go so far to not stand out?”
To not say anything here, would be bad, Ryou understood so and gave a reason which wasn’t a big deal.
“In middle school I was used by a bad companion, it’s hard to say it was peaceful. Therefore I want a quiet high school, not attracting attention, I only want it to be peaceful”
“Is that the reason? Boring”
Azusa says so in a displeased manner.
Ryou himself understands it is a boring reason, but he doesn’t want to stop his current life.
“Then……, is it no good to meet anymore?”
Erika, with moistened eyes asks Ryou.
Directly hit in front of his eyes by what was like a destruction beam, Ryou somehow settled down his feelings, and frankly said what he thought.
“No good……, say so, before that, is there still business with me? If you’re fixated on gratitude, I’ll receive juice, I thought to accept that……, to take that as gratitude, like that don’t you think there’s no more business?”
“Eh……, su-surely that’s so!”
Erika is confused and says.
“Then, then, thanks isn’t given, I won’t give it”
“Well, from the beginning, I did say it was unnecessary……”
“Ah, it’s different, I’ll give it! But, I won’t give it……”
“Which is it……?”
“Ah, I’ll give it, but not yet!”
“……isn’t it fine with juice from the vending machine around here? That’ll be fine for gratitude in this case……?”
“Juice is no good!!”
“U-hm, I haven’t chosen yet!”
“…………, isn’t ‘haven’t chosen’ incorrect speech? In the case now shouldn’t it be ‘haven’t decided’?”
“It’s fine, such a thing!”
The laughter of Azusa who was enjoying it is raised. As usual she is taking photos with phone she’s holding.
“Slowly, let’s stop teasing my child”
“Teasing……, what my child. More than that you’re teasing her?”
Erika who disliked it became red. Ryou who saw her forcibly taking photos was certain. Ryou was convinced. Azusa is very much a sadist.
Azusa disregards Ryou’s question, and restarts the conversation.
“Let’s return to the talk. You don’t want to stand out, therefore don’t want to meet us in your class”
“Ah, as much as possible don’t want to be seen in front of school people”
“So to begin with for the business of receiving Erika’s thanks it is necessary to meet up?”
“I guess? It is unnatural for you beautiful girls like you to come meet me”
Then, Azusa’s eyes shone with a flash of light.
“What is unnatural?”
“Well, I have a plain appearance don’t I? For people like yourselves with a shining appearance, it’s natural for people with a suitable appearance to be by besides you. Don’t actual attractive guys approach your surroundings?”
“Though I don’t deny that, who we’re together with, appearance, nature or if it’s unnatural makes no difference, it is us who decide”
Ryou also can’t deny that.
“And, if Erika doesn’t have any business with you, it’s said there’s no reason to meet, if it’s the opposite and there is business to meet for will it be fine?”
Ryou felt himself being pressed.
“Besides, to begin with high school students don’t need business to meet. Because they want to meet, because they want to play together, because they are happy together, those are reasons enough to meet. Do you differ?”
“I don’t differ, because I don’t want to stand out, didn’t I say I didn’t want to meet?”
“However, because it is enjoyable for us with you here, we want to have lunch together with you this way again, that’s what we think. Isn’t it, Erika?
Erika nodded vigorously.
Ryou saw Saki who nodded.
Are these three serious about what they said, Ryou asked truly doubtful.
“……, are you serious about what you said……?”
The three nodded at once.
“I’m really serious”
At the end Saki opened her mouth, Erika and Azusa looked surprised.
Ryou, looking at their state and that it seems to be the truth, was understood.
Having understood the circumstance, troubled about what to do, he scratched his head.
“Why, to think…I would……”
Azusa suddenly noticed something said.
“Not taking standing out into consideration, do you find it unpleasant being with us?”
Ryou thought about it a little, and said what was on his mind.
No, it’s not like it’s unpleasant. Looking at it plainly, it’s above all a feast for my eyes”
To Ryou’s words, Erika immediately responded.
To the volume of Erika’s reaction, Ryou was perplexed.
“Hmm, you’re unusual. Usually when a man would be surrounded by us three, they would become somewhat nervous, but you say such things in a dignified manner”
“Is that so, that’s informative”
Ryou shrugs his shoulders while saying so seriously.
Azusa laughs in a small eerie voice.
“Fufufufu, you are after all, interesting. It seems my thoughts weren’t incorrect”
Feeling that his statement may have been rash, Ryou shed a cold sweat.
“Looking at you now, do you want to withdraw the validity of your ‘not unpleasant’ statement?”
“No, he can’t. How about it then? Don’t you feel you want to meet with us again?”
“Even saying so, that you won’t attract attention, can certainly not be said. Any more than this is pointless”
Azusa glanced at Erika and nodded.
“It certainly is so. Then what if it’s not under public gaze? This rooftop and yesterday, the back street which you and Erika returned home through.
Before he became aware his way was blocked, and Ryou noticed he was thoroughly defeat by the woman in front of his eyes.
Turning his eyes to Azusa, she returns a nihilistic laugh.
Turning his eyes to Saki, she was expressionless, and only the glance was punctually returned.
Turning his eyes to Erika, eyes filled with expectation were pointed towards him.
Ryou let out a large sigh.
“If you go so far to say that……, if it’s on the way back home, I don’t know, as much as possible I would like to decline……if it’s like this on the rooftop then its fine”
Azusa smiles from ear to ear, and Erika gave a cheer.
Ryou said while flustered by Erika who approached.
“Ah……, but, will you earnestly not come to the classroom? Also when we meet in the hallway to look the other way”
Only here, Ryou cannot yield.
Erika with a discontent look on her face says.
“Even in the hallway……?”
“Isn’t it because rumors would spread quickly from the hallways?”
Azusa calmed Erika down.
“Erika, this must be done step by step. For now, let’s compromise with this”
“…………, I see”
Erika, who was reluctant, nodded.
Ryou breathed in relief. To some points of Azusa’s words, he felt worry, but for the time being, he avoided attracting more attention than he was necessary.
To the Ryou who took a breather, ah, that’s right, Azusa who saw that state said.
“By the way, return home with us together today. I want to show the thanks from me for helping a close friend.
“Gratitude, again? Also, pardon me as much as possible about returning, didn’t I say just a bit ago……?”
“That it’s preferable? Because it wasn’t said so for a while keep company with us today”
“That’s so, you ran away yesterday, today return home together with us”
Erika who seemed to recall yesterday, suddenly agreed with Azusa in calm tone.
Ryou with a puzzled look shifted his attention to Erika whose mood abruptly changed.
Erika smiled happily.
“Sakuragi-kun, you left me yesterday when I was returning home”
“What if a girl was attacked? Is it hopeless, even a little to expect you to escort home, is it strange?”
“Err, it’s not strange……”
Ryou has his breath taken away when he sees Erika’s state.
“Is that so? I am attacked, but received help. It can be scary after that, to be alone”
Emphasis was put on the ‘to be alone’ part.
“Ah, yeah. Well, I’m sor……”
Before Ryou finishes speaking, Azusa intervened while shaking her head.
“Don’t say so, Erika. Even he would worry for the next day. He was worried. Not for Erika, for himself”
Emphasis was clearly and distinctively put on the ‘for himself’ part.
Though the smile on Erika’s face deepened, her eyes weren’t smiling and Ryou noticed he had no reinforcements. Towards the reinforcement observation, he clearly felt his mouth cramp.
“Uh, sorry, you two, please forgive me quickly”
“That’s what is said, Erika?”
Without a change in her mood Erika says.
“Are you returning with us today?”
Ryou nodded immediately.
Erika who heard those words showed a true smile this time.
(To so suddenly blossom into smiling face like that……)
While leaking a breath in relief, seeing Erika’s smile and coming close to being charmed, he looked away in a panic.
Casually looking at his wristwatch, it was seen that lunch break had almost ended, Ryou said while standing up.
“Lunch break, has already finished. I’ll leave ahead. You have a key? Is it fine to ask you to lock it?
“It’s fine. Then return. And wait in the back street”
Ryou answered, yes, and left the roof.
Erika turned her body to Azusa and bowed her head.
“Thank you, Azusa”
“Don’t mind it. I was able to take cute photos of Erika, I’m satisfied”
“Is that so, wait, delete those photos!”
“Geez, you always, always!”
“There’s no helping it, it’s my purpose in life”
“Don’t live for such a thing!”
The two quarrel, while they put away the sheet and their lunch,
Saki smiled seeing them, while helping to tidy up.
When he entered the classroom five minutes before the end of lunch break, Ryou was again surrounded by classmates.
“Did you exchange phone numbers!?” “What was the expression of gratitude!?”
While retreating from the persecution of questions, he told them he only got juice as thanks and separated at once and phone numbers weren’t exchanged.
That’s good, seeing the glances of the classmates who looked at him and were feeling relieved, Ryou made a triumphant pose in his mind for the success towards his plain and ordinary life.