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A Reason to Change

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“You have been assigned a tutor until your grades improve.”

Shin had expected this. His teachers had informed him that his grades were slipping and if it were to continue he would not pass his classes. If he were being honest with himself he didn’t even want to go to highschool, it was just more time and money that he could have used if he went straight into the workforce. Then he could move out on his own but his mother would not hear it. It’s not that he thought himself too dumb for school, he was actually quite smart. It’s just that he dozed off or couldn’t pay attention during class and would miss important dates. Nevertheless Shin nodded to his teacher’s comments, putting his hands in his pockets.

“Luckily one of my best upperclassmen has agreed to tutor you after school. Ah, th-there he is now.”

Shin turned to see a boy with bright green hair in small half curls and a cheerful smile behind him. When did he come into the room? “It’s nice to meet you, Tsukimi. My name is Sou Hiyori! I hope we get along.” His eyes slit open to reveal light green irises that peered at Shin. He was stunned silent to his surprise, despite being a top student, he seemed a bit unsettling.

“It’s uhh… nice to meet you too.” Shin answered back confused.

“We’ll start tutoring after school. I’ll be sure to meet up with you when you get out of class.” Shin really didn’t want to be lectured everyday about why he was a bad student, but he smiled and nodded. He was met with Sou’s closed eyed smile.

After class the next day Shin had planned to make a quick exit from school as he didn’t join any clubs. However as soon as he made it out of class a familiar smiling face greeted him. “Good afternoon Tsukimi. I hope you’re ready to do some studying!” He said excitedly with what Shin believed to be false enthusiasm. Shin was ready to give an excuse that would help the both of them and gave a fake smile back.

“I’m actually not feeling well and figured I’d head home, you don’t have to worry about tutoring me.” Shin figured a top student like Sou didn’t want to bother with a slacker like him. Without hesitation, Sou placed his hand, pushing up Shin’s bangs, on his forehead to feel. “Hey, that’s unnecessary.” Shin replied brushing Sou’s hand away and stepping back.

“Well, if that’s your fever temperature I’m surprised you haven’t froze to death.” Sou looked amused with himself but then concerned. His smile had faded. Shin was worried he just didn’t know how to relax those muscles.

“It’s not like that, I’m just tired.” Shin said a bit exasperated now. What an annoying guy.

“Well this one can be quick. I just want to see where you are.” Sou grabbed Shin’s hand to lead him to the classroom they would be studying in. Why was this guy so touchy? Sou sat down beside him and began taking out his notes. He then asked for Shin’s notes in his classes. Sighing, Shin produced a notebook filled with very little, disorganized notes.

“Well, I suppose if you had good notes you wouldn’t be in this situation.” This guy didn’t have to say it, Shin thought defensively. “A few of your teachers noted you sleep during class, why don’t you go to the nurses and take a nap?”

“I’m already a slacker, like the teachers will let me go…” he pointed out which Sou frowned at yet again.

“Don’t you have someone you can ask for notes?”

“Nope.” Shin replied, resting his head in his hand.

“Oh. Well that’s no problem my little pupil. I’ll just let you copy my notes.” His usual smile returned as Sou pulled out of his book case a huge stack of journals. Shin stared blankly at them, opening one up it looked as though a robot had created its own textbook.

“Why don’t I just use these for the rest of the semester?” Shin said and was met with a laughing Sou.

“No, silly. How are you going to learn the material if you don’t write it down in your own words?” Sou pointed out. Oh, so this was his way of punishing Shin. Great. “But before that, do you have any homework due tomorrow?”

“I don’t know.” Shin responded. “On account of sleeping through class.” Sou gave him a scolding look but sighed, giving up trying to chastise him.

“I suppose you don’t know when your next test is either.” Sou accused.

“Nope.”

“.... That’s ok, for now just focus on copying these notes while we’re here and study them at home. Then I want you to ask one of your classmates when important dates are.” Shin groaned inside his head, this guy wasn’t going to let him off easy was he.

Since Shin was lost on where he was in his classes, he had to start from the very beginning. It was like taking notes from a textbook. Shin didn’t make conversation and neither did Sou, in face he didn’t do anything besides watch Shin take notes. It was off putting to say the least. Deathly silence and a smiling maniac watching everything he does. What was until he kept leaving the room for long bouts of time. Eventually Shin kept getting bored and began falling asleep only to have Sou wake him up whenever he came back. It was strange but Shin could smell a hint of smoke, maybe he dreamt it.

The sun was orange in the sky as it touched the pink horizon and came in through the windows when Sou told Shin they did enough today. Shin was relieved but couldn’t help but wonder what Sou was up to when he left.

They walked to the school’s entrance but Sou stopped just short of the exit. “I left something behind and need to get it.” He announced before turning back. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Shin eyed him as he turned back. Despite being a top student he gave Shin a strange feeling like he’s hiding something.

The next day Shin was tired as always but at least when he was trying to listen he could follow along more. Maybe a few more days before he wouldn’t need tutoring anymore. He was preparing to leave before Sou would come but right as the bell class was let out he was already there. “Eager to study today?” Sou asked stopping Shin in his tracks. He already knew the answer.

Shin managed to give Sou some information about classes but didn’t bother to ask anyone when the dates were. “You catch on quickly Tsukimi, I’m very proud of you!” He flashed his perfect smile at Shin which did not affect him in the slightest.

“Guess I won’t need tutoring very soon then.” Shin said back.

“... We’ll see about that.” Sou retorted back earning him a bit of a glare from Shin.
The rest of tutoring went without much talking, just Shin copying notes and Sou’s usual staring. After a week of this Shin had gotten used to it, he wasn’t going to let this guy get the better of him. Each time their tutoring ended Sou would always make an excuse to go back into the school.

“Have a nice rest of your day Tsukimi!” Sou called the following monday. Curiosity got the better of Shin as he watched Sou walk back inside. If he had to go to a club after Shin’s tutoring why not just say so. Even with his apparent perfect record it seemed like he was hiding something. Shin kept his distance but was sure to keep tabs where Sou was going. Was it weird that he was doing this? Well Sou was a weird guy, Shin is just looking out for his own well being.

Once inside, Shin saw Sou go into one of the bathrooms and waited for him to come out. He didn’t want to get close or think about it but he was there for a while. Shin was going to regret this wasn’t he? Sneaking over to the bathroom, he opened the door slowly, and was hit with the smell of smoke, cigarette smoke. Shin looked to see one of the stalls had a thin line of smoke coming from it. The faint sound of burning paper and tobacco could be heard and Sou’s breathing.

Well, this was a surprise to Shin, the perfect student had a secret smoking habit. Shin could use this to get out of tutoring, but when he thought about it he didn’t mind it so much. It was better than failing but maybe if he could get Sou to just relax around him. It was also better than going home.

He quietly closed the door and walked out of the school to return home. His mom was still at work and he rifled through her drawer where she kept a carton of cigarettes and returned to his room to smoke it. On the first inhale he had the incredible urge to cough out all the air he just inhaled. His face was red and drool surrounded his lips but he continued, feeling quite the head-rush and relaxed for the first time in years.