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Let Me Love

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Week 0, Friday

Ayano was empty. For as long as she could remember she barely felt anything. The only things she could feel were boredom and content. When she was young, she learned fairly early that to avoid being in the spotlight was to act ‘normal’. As in, act like the other kids. It made her dad happy, but she was sure he knew deep down she was pretending. But it got her through school, acting like the other kids. She has a few friends but they aren’t close. But it’s enough to keep the spotlight of gossip off of her.

Ayano looked over at her phone as it’s alarm blared at her. She was quick to turn it off and get ready. She was soon downstairs making a basic breakfast of eggs and toast that would contain her until dinner. She’d have some change though in her bag in case she got hungry so that she could buy something from a vending machine.

Once she finished her breakfast, she turned to the clock and saw it was almost 6:30. She quickly washed her plate and left the house. She soon made it to Akademi High at 7 o’clock and changed her shoes. She then wandered around the school taking note of who was in each club as new first years joined as the year three students were gone. She held her bag close as she made her way to her class in room 2-1.

“Oof,” the sound escaped her as she was knocked over and fell to the ground. She shook her head and looked up when she heard a gasp.

“Are you ok?” standing above her was a third-year boy. She nodded her head and gripped his pro-offered hand and her heart started beating rapidly. Her face flushed as she was pulled up from the ground. “I’m sorry about knocking you over, kouhai. I’m Taro Yamada,” he introduced and Ayano gave a slight bow of her head and torso.

“I’m sorry, too, Senpai. I should have paid more attention to where I was going. I’m Ayano Aishi,” she introduced and Taro shook her hand.

“I hope to see you again, Aishi-san,” he said and she nodded agreement before he went his own way and Ayano gripped a hand over her chest.

“Is this love?” she asked quietly. She soon made it to her classroom with much time to spare. She sets her bag down on her desk and goes down to the first floor and finds her friend Kokona’s classroom. The girl is just setting her bag down when Ayano enters the room. Ayano has known Kokona for a couple years since they’re in the same neighborhood. Kokona sees Ayano looking nervous and goes over to her.

“What’s up?” she asks and Ayano gestures with her head to follow and they head out to the fountain in the corner of the school ground that had a cherry tree behind it with flowers surrounding it. Along the path were two benches near the fountain.

“I-I just bumped into a third-year boy a-and my heart is beating really fast. My face feels really warm too,” Ayano said and Kokona smiled encouragingly. She knew what Ayano suffered as Ayano told her after a year when they become very close. At hearing this Kokona clapped happily.

“You’re feeling love!! This must be what your mom talked about. How are you going to win him over?” she asked pulling them down onto the bench and Ayano bit her lip in thought.

“Um, I wanna try winning him over by being his friend. I hope that he’ll love me back naturally while being friends. But if that doesn’t work. Then I guess, I hope we’ll still be friends and he’ll be close,” she said and Kokona nodded agreement.

“I’ll help you in any way I can. Ok? I’ll encourage you, advice you, anything. I want this to work out,” she said and Ayano nodded her thanks. Right as she did that, the school’s warning bell sounded. “We can talk more at lunch!” she called out and Ayano nodded agreement and they both walked back to their classes.

In class, her teacher asked them to start reading a chapter in their book and then answer questions on a paper. She looked around the classroom as she worked and noted a few people that interested her. There was a drama member, one that she’s seen Kokona with, and there was a cooking club member. She recalled Kokona’s other friend, Saki, being in the club and talking to him.

The lunch bell rang and she went over and introduced herself to the two who seemed happy to see her. “Riku Soma,” the purple-haired boy introduced and Ayano shook his hand, “Kokona talks about you,” he commented and she smiled at that.

“Seiyo Akanishi,” the other, a blond-haired boy introduced, on his head he had a bandana on that was patterned with the British flag. “I’ve seen you talk to Saki,” he said and she nodded.

“I was wondering, how are each of your clubs? Saki and Kokona have talked about them and I wanted another person’s view,” she said and the two smiled.

“The drama club is pretty awesome. We do many plays throughout the school year. It helps students build their confidence and speaking publicly. Though the president can be a bit arrogant. She’s away for competition in the USA right now. She’ll be back in a couple of weeks,” Riku said and Seiyo nodded his agreement to that.

“The cooking club is relaxed. We meet up after school but who can see some members go in before or after to try out recipes. Our main goal is to improve and bring smiles to other people’s faces. Our club president loves to make people smile through her goods. But she’ll be gone for another week as she’s been asked to compete on a baking show called The Confection Connection, ” he answered and she nodded understanding and thought a bit.

“Can a student be on more than one club?” Ayano asked as they started walking out of the room to eat.

“Well, it’s not banned but it depends on the leaders. A student needs to attend at least one club meeting a week. So, if you asked all leaders involved you could,” Riku explained and Ayano nodded understanding. “If you want to join Cooking and Drama, for example, you could since Kokona does both. So the leaders would be ok with another person doing the same thing,” he continued and Ayano smiled at that, knowing she’d be content with that.

Seiyo nodded assessment to that. “Exactly. You’ll just need to confirm with Tsuburaya-senpai, though I imagine he’ll say yes.”

“And just ask Yamazaki-senpai, and you’ll be set,” Riku finished and Ayano nodded with a slight bow.

“Thank you for your help, I’ll talk to them after school,” she said and the two nodded.

“See you around Aishi-san,” Riku called walking away with Seiyo. Ayano then left to find Kokona who was waiting at the stairway closest to Ayano’s classroom.

“Yan-chan!!” she called waving and Ayano smiled back, content that she didn’t feel fake smiling at her friend. “How was class?” she asked as they went up the stairs to sit on the roof. 

“It went well, I meet your club member, Riku, and a cooking club member named Seiyo,” Ayano said as they made it to a bench against a wall.

“Oh! That’s cool! Riku is pretty awesome,” Kokona commented with a slight blush.

“Do you have a crush on him?” Ayano asked and Kokona’s blush increased. “You so do! Are you waiting for him to ask first?”

“Sorta. I want him to say it. But I guess if he doesn’t after a while, I’ll confess myself,” she answered and Ayano nodded. “So, why did you talk to them?”

“Well, I wanted more info on the two clubs. And well, I think I’ll join both of them like you,” Ayano said and a squeal left Kokona at that.

“Awesome!” she then attacked Ayano with a hug which caused a laugh to actually bubble out of Ayano which shocked the two. “Did you just actually laugh?”

“I-I did!” A smile broke across Ayano’s face at that which Kokona mirrored.

“Ok, so I’m guessing you’ll go to both clubs after school to ask and then whichever you went to last you’ll join them for the day?” she asked and Ayano nodded. “Alright. I would suggest going to cooking first as the drama club is doing auditions for Shozo-sans play, The Ivory Heart ,” she said and Ayano nodded.

“What’s the play about?”

“It’s about a girl who’s terrified to love. Every person she’s loved abandoned her for another person. Her love interest shows her every day that he has eyes only for her and at the end, she finally knows that he won’t leave her for anyone else. Shozo is going to be the love interest since well, it’s his play, he deserves it,” Kokona explained and Ayano nodded.

“Sounds interesting,” Ayano commented and Kokona nodded as she handed Ayano a bento.

“I know you don’t eat lunch, but you really should,” she said and Ayano shrugged.

“Usually, I’m not hungry,” she replied back eating the food from the bento Kokona gave her.

“Well, I’ll keep bringing you bento’s until you bring your own,” she commented and Ayano gave a small laugh at that.

“Ok then,” she replied. The door leading to the roof opened and there was Budo and Taro talking.

“So where’s Osana?” Budo asked.

“She’s sick. She’ll be here on Monday,” Taro replied and Budo seemed to notice the two girls on the roof.

“Hey,” Budo greeted and they waved to them, though Ayano had a slight blush as Taro looked over at them.
“Aishi-san, nice to see you again,” he said and Ayano nodded her head.

“Same, Yamada-senpai,” Ayano replied.

“Would you guys care to sit with us?” Kokona asked and the two shared a look.

“If you don’t mind,” Budo replied.

“Nope,” Kokona answered and Ayano shook her head which had the two sitting on the ground and Kokona and Ayano moved to sit on the ground too. “So, I heard you talking about someone?” she asked and Taro nodded.

“Ya, my childhood friend, Osana Najimi is sick,” Taro said and Ayano nodded.

“There were a couple of seats empty in my class, I heard Fuka-sensei mutter Osana’s name along with Raibaru. Who’s Raibaru?” Ayano asked and Taro smiled which had Ayano’s heart beating faster and had her looking down at her bento.

“Raibaru is Osana’s best friend,” Taro replied and this time Budo nodded while he finished chewing.

“Yeah, Raibaru became Osana’s friend after she left the Martial Arts Club when I defeated her in a spar,” Budo said and Ayano looked up at that.

“Really? Wow,” she commented and Budo nodded. “So how do you two know each other?”

“We’re in the same class. We also knew each other since we started Akademi,” Budo explained and Taro nodded agreement.

“Exactly. How did you two become friends?” Taro wondered and Ayano smiled at Kokona.

“We live in the same neighborhood. We’d talk a lot and just became best friends naturally. I’m also fairly close to Kokona’s other friend Saki-chan,” Ayano replied and Kokona nodded.

“That’s nice,” Budo said and the two nodded. The warning bell then sounded. “Well, we’ll see you again on Monday, here at lunch?” Budo asked and Ayano nodded slowly, not trusting her voice when Taro smiled at her waiting for an answer. “Cool, see you then!” With that, the two left the roof and Kokona smiled at Ayano.

“Man, you’re crushing hard on Taro. But no worries, I’ll help you win him over!” she said happily as they walked down the stairs and Ayano smiled.

“I’ll see you in the drama room after I sign up for cooking club,” she said and Kokona nodded agreement before heading down the last set of stairs. Ayano made her way to her class and continued the work the teacher gave.

Soon, the bell rang once more and Ayano got up and cleaned the windows. Once cleaning time was done, she grabbed her bag and made her way toward the cooking club and looked inside to see the temporary president with a couple of members there. “Yan-chan!” Saki greeted happily had the few members there turn to the door. Ayano waved and they all smiled. Seiyo was already there with the club leader.

“Hi there. Your Ayano Aishi right? Seiyo-san told me you’d possibly be coming. I’m Shoku Tsuburaya, the temporary club president,” he greeted and Ayano gave a hesitant smile.

“Yeah, I was wondering if I could join the club while being in the Drama club?” she asked and Shoku nodded with a smile.

“Of course, Kokona-san does it. Just make sure it’s ok with Yamazaki-san. Once you do, you can come in when Kokona does or a different day,” he said and Ayano nodded.

“I’ll ask Yamazaki-senpai right now,” she said and he nodded.

“Well, see you next week then!” he said happily and Ayano left the cooking club and went over to the drama club. Inside, Kokona was sitting while Shozo talked about the play. When he was finished he turned to Ayano.

“Hello,” he greeted and everyone turned to look at her while Kokona smiled.

“Hello, I’m Tsuruzo Yamazaki. Kokona told me you’d be coming,” the leader greeted and Ayano nodded.

“Yes, I’d like to join the drama club while being in the cooking club,” she replied and Tsuruzo nodded.

“Of course! Just make sure you go to each club once a week at least to reach club requirements,” he answered and Ayano nodded. “Now, would you like to join us for auditions?” he asked and Ayano nodded. “Good. Just so you know, the play is in two weeks. It’s for when our president Kizana returns,” he continued and Ayano nodded. “Shozo, you may begin auditions,” Tsuruzo said and Shozo nodded.

“Alright, Ayano would you like to audition first?” Shozo asked and Kokona nodded encouragement and Ayano nodded.

“Sure,” she got up and went over to where Shozo stood. “What part do you think I should audition for?” she asked everyone since she only knew the basics of the play.

“How about the main role?” Kokona said quietly and everyone nodded their agreement.

“Yeah, let’s have you audition for the role of Aika. I’ll be your scene partner, Sora, also known as Aika’s love interest,” Shozo said and Ayano nodded as she looked at the script quickly. It seems in the scene is when ‘Sora’ would be showing ‘Aika’ that he truly loves her.

“Ok,” Ayano said and rolled her head a bit then took a deep breath. She then had her face go to one of disinterest but mild interest, looking about as if somewhere else. “You wanted us to go here, why?” she asked in a dull voice.

“Because, my dear, Aika, these flowers reminded me of your sweet beauty!” Shozo said, spreading his arms out.

“You’re not the first to compare me to flowers, Sora. But I can give you this, you are the only one to take me somewhere that reminded you of me,” she replied and Shozo smiled in character.

“Well, I’m glad to surprise you! But this is only one of many, I hope! For I will show you how much I care for you!” Shozo said and grabbed her hand and gestured with his other out around the park before turning to face her and held both hands. “I will take as long as it needs to prove my love for you,” he said quietly with a smile and Ayano gave a small smile.

“I-” her character started but stopped to think. “I hope you’re prepared for it,” she said and Shozo nodded before leading them off.

“I am,” he replied then dropped her one hand and clapped as the others did too.

“That was amazing Yan-chan!” Kokona replied while the other members continued to clap and voice their agreement.

“I think she’d make a great Aika,” Tsuruzo said and Shozo nodded agreement to that.

“I think we have our Aika,” he said and everyone clapped more. Ayano then took her seat and the rest of the club auditioned for the remaining parts. A couple of students auditioned for two parts as there were two extra characters. Soon everyone was done auditioning and Shozo was in front of everyone once again.

“Alright! That was a good audition. I’ll have the list of characters posted in the room on Monday. We start rehearsal Monday afternoon! Kokona, Ayano, you’ll need to figure out when would be good to get in your club requirements for Cooking club. But besides that, have a great weekend!” Shozo said and everyone nodded agreement before heading out.

“I hope I get Aika’s best friend!” Kokona said and Ayano nodded.

“You did good,” Ayano replied as they made it to the lockers and they both quickly changed shoes before heading out and walking together.

“You did too! You’re perfect for Aika!” she said and Ayano smiled at that.

“So, when should we go to the cooking club?” Ayano asked and Kokona smiled.

“When I first talked to them, they said coming during lunch one day is fine if the drama club is doing a play,” Kokona replied and Ayano nodded.

“That’s nice,” she replied and Kokona nodded.

“I know right?!” at that, they continued to walk in peace and soon arrived at Ayano’s place. “See you tomorrow!” she said and Ayano nodded with a wave as she unlocked her door and entered her house. She got ready quickly and finished her homework and then went to bed with a smile as her day went well.