"Matsuno-kun…" Homura began, looking down at the boy sitting in front of her. "Did you try to go home again?"
Jyushimatsu shook his head. "No, no! I've remembered now! Being in the school living club means being in school 24/7!" He looked off to the side. "I was just looking for ESP kitty!"
"Huh? ESP kitty?" Homura scanned the clubroom.
"Yeah! He's gone!"
"I gotta go to class… but I'm still worried…"
"It's ok, Matsuno-kun. I'll look for ESP kitty."
"Huh? Don't you have to go to class too?"
"I'm on a reduced timetable, remember?"
"Oh yeah!" Jyushimatsu jumped to his feet. "That's the bell! Gotta go, Homu-chan!"
He skipped down the hallway, a huge grin on his face.
"Jyushimatsu!" A voice called out.
He spun around and met eyes with his brother.
"Wait for me, Jyushimatsu!" Karamatsu caught up, and put a hand on Jyushimatsu's shoulder. "You seem awfully happy this morning."
"I know! I used to be so mad all the time, but now I've joined the School Living Club, everything's been a blast!"
"Yup! Everyone's so nice now that I'm a respected club member!"
"You still haven't zipped up your fly, though." Karamatsu quietly remarked.
"What was that…?" Jyushimatsu replied, suddenly serious.
"Oh, uh, I-"
"Haha, I'm only kidding, Nii-san!" Jyushimatsu laughed. Karamatsu-niisan got scared so easily!
He opened the door of the classroom. It seemed like Karamatsu and himself were the last to arrive.
He sat down at his desk.
"Oh, Jyushimatsu's here!" Said one girl.
"He's so cute!" Another gushed.
Karamatsu sat down next to him. "You seem really popular… especially among the girls."
"It's all thanks to the school living club! Which, of course, was started by you!"
"Yeah… where's my popularity…? My club leader cred… my... karamatsu girls ?"
"I'm sure some girl will come to appreciate you, nii-san."
"Aw… you think so?"
"I know so!"
The teacher cleared his throat and began the lesson. Jyushimatsu would usually find class super boring, but somehow, he couldn't stop smiling.
When Homura reached the rooftop, her attention was first drawn to a large hole in the chain link fence, and then to the student standing peering through it.
Atsushi was standing with his back to her, gazing down at the school grounds, so he didn't notice her presence until she spoke.
"Hey, you should probably stand back a little…"
Atsushi sharply turned to face her. He let go of the chain link fence and sheepishly took a few steps back.
"Seriously… why is this hole still here…? We need to fix it."
Atsushi remained silent.
"Are you ok?"
"I'm… fine. I'm just. Thinking."
Homura narrowed her eyes. "Thinking about what…?"
"...Nothing in particular..."
Homura frowned. She looked down at her feet and inhaled. "Things aren't that hopeless yet…! We need you, Atsushi-san!" She looked up at him, her eyes wet and shiny.
"No! No! I wasn't thinking about doing that!" Atsushi bowed in apology. "I'm sorry! It's not like that at all!"
"I'm sorry. I guess I'm just used to jumping to the worst case scenario."
"It's ok." He mumbled. "Let's sit down."
They leaned against a part of fence without a massive hole, and looked up at the sky.
"I think we should talk to Yowai-san about the hole, see if we can patch it up somehow."
Atsushi nodded. "Hm."
"I mean, we'll know to avoid it but…"
"Are you worried about Jyushimatsu-kun?"
Homura paused for a good while. "I know he's not a complete idiot, but…"
"Why were you on the roof anyways?"
"I said, I just came here to think."
Atsushi turned to her. "Why did you come here?"
"I came here to-" her eyes widened. "Oh crap! I'm supposed to be looking for ESP kitty!"
She looked around the roof. "Is he here?"
"I'd try the classrooms… he likes to curl up in the desks."
"Thank you, Atsushi-san!" She ran off, leaving Atsushi standing alone.
"You can just call me Atsushi, I don't mind!" He called out, but he wasn't sure if Homura heard had him.
Her footsteps resonated throughout the corridor, so loud Jyushimatsu could hear them.
"Huh." Karamatsu whispered. "I wonder who that is?"
The classroom door flung open, and Homura marched in. She began to open random students desks, making stationery and textbooks fly everywhere.
"Hey! What are you doing?!" Karamatsu exclaimed.
Homura ignored him and continued to sift through the desks.
"Homu-chan!" Jyushimatsu said, which caused Homura to turn around.
"Oh sorry. I hadn't noticed you were here, Matsuno-kun… I was so focused on finding ESP kitty. Atsushi-san said he might be in the desks."
"Huh? But there's a class here, how you not notice?"
She looked at him.
"The teacher's super angry, Homu-chan!"
"Oh right." She turned to the front of the class. "Sorry miss."
She walked out and slowly closed the door behind her, letting out a huge sigh.
I miss the old you, Jyushimatsu. Maybe you didn't smile as much but… those smiles were real.
Homura felt something fluffy rub against her leg. She looked down to find ESP kitty nudging her shin.
"Oh, there you are."
She picked him up, and patted him on the head, making him purr. She briefly considered going back into the classroom to tell Jyushimatsu the cat had been found…
But she wasn't sure if she could face it.
"Ok, Homura," she said to herself. "It's your first day at your new school. So go in there, work hard, and make some friends!"
She marched through the front doors, into the corridor, before remembering that she had to change into her outdoor shoes and running back to the lockers.
She got so caught up in remembering that she ended up not looking where she was going and colliding with someone.
"Hey! Watch where you're going!"
Homura looked up to see a menacing upperclassman standing over her. He was definitely a delinquent or something, and he seemed pissed as hell.
"Um… I'm sorry…?"
"Yeah, you better be."
Homura dusted off her skirt and silently walked to the lockers. After changing shoes and checking her bag, the bell rang, and Homura made her way to class.
While fighting her way through a sea of fellow students, Homura briefly wondered if she would have to introduce herself in front of the class. Y'know, like in anime.
What would she even say about herself? Well, she supposed the fact she used to live on a farm was kinda interesting… or maybe that was seen as super uncool? Ugh…
Luckily, the teacher seemed to not care less about her presence, simply telling her to take a seat at the back of the class. She was right in the corner, which she guessed was ok, since that would mean no-one be staring.
Well, maybe except the guy sitting next to her.
And, as if the universe was reading her mind, the boy occupying that desk appeared. He was slightly taller than her, with blonde-ish brown hair and bangs that completely covered his eyes. He tossed down his book bag and then stopped when he (presumably, Homura had no idea what his eyes were actually) finally noticed her presence, which prompted Homura to awkwardly smile and wave.
He opened his mouth to speak, but the teacher began the class before he could. She hoped the class would pass without incident, but the teacher did end up introducing her after all.
"Everyone, this is Kanokichi Homura. She's a new transfer student, so I expect everyone to be welcoming and friendly, ok?"
The class responded with a sluggish, "Yes, sir…" while Homura sat with a face red as a tomato.
She spent the rest of class staring out of the window, and when the bell rang for lunch, she wasn't too sure what to do.
She felt a tap on her shoulder.
The boy sitting next to was trying his best to grin.
"Hello!" He said, obviously a little nervous. "I'm just wondering if you have anyone to eat your lunch with?"
"No, I don't."
"Oh, cool! I mean, no that's not cool… uh, do you wanna eat lunch with me? 'Cause my friends are busy today and you seem nice so…"
"Really? I mean, thanks!"
The both took out their lunch, and began eating. Homura looked over at the boy, who was wolfing down his meal.
"So… what's your name?" She asked.
He quickly swallowed the food in his mouth, "Oh! Right! I'm Kouzaki Kerou, but everyone calls me Happi. It's nice to meet you!"
Homura smiled, "Well, the teacher already told everyone my name, so I guess you already know it, huh?"
"...You weren't paying attention, were you?"
She giggled. "It's Kanokichi Homura. It's nice to meet you too!"
Happi smiled back at her, and then went back to inhaling his food.
"Hey, new girl." Someone from across the classroom yelled. "Some upperclassman wants to see you!"
"An upperclassman? Does someone have a crush on you already?" Happi asked.
She got up out of her chair and nervously made her way to the door of the classroom. As she predicted, the upperclassman she bumped into this morning was standing there.
He still looked pretty angry, so Homura, almost reflexively, bowed in apology.
"Sorry about this morning, senpai!"
She glanced up to see him looking away, and holding out a keychain with a little blue bird on it.
"You dropped this."
She reached out to grab it and at the same he put his hand down to give it to her, causing their hands to brush past each other. He quickly gave her the key chain and wobbled off.
She stuck her head out to see where he was going, only to see him completely lose his tough demeanor.
"I just touched a cute girl's hand… wow…" he said to himself, smiling widely. He suddenly snapped back to normal, and glared at Homura. "What're you looking at, huuuh?"
Homura, of course, found this hilarious. She started laughing, almost hysterically, and the upperclassman's expression softened ever so slightly.
"I'll see you later, senpai!"
"Oh. Good morning, Homura-chan." Totoko said, as Homura put ESP kitty into his pile of cushions.
"Have you had breakfast yet?"
"No." Homura slumped into her chair, "I guess I just haven't found the time."
"I made some Miso soup. Would you like some?"
Totoko put the bowl in front of her and sat down in her own chair.
"Itadakimasu!" They both said in unison.
"Careful, it might be a bit hot."
Homura didn't listen, and ended up burning her tongue as she shoved a spoonful of soup into her mouth. She briefly panted before taking a huge swig of her water.
"Are you alright, Homura-chan?"
"Yeah, I'm fine" she blew on her soup, "By the way, I saw Atsushi-san on the roof. There's a massive hole there, too."
"Yes, I know…"
"Shouldn't we fix it?"
Totoko looked at her. "You know, I don't actually think it's that much of a problem. I mean maybe if it was on a lower floor…"
"What if someone falls out of it?"
"How likely is that to happen?"
"We have other priorities, Homura." Totoko said, suddenly firm.
Homura frowned. "Fine."
Atsushi entered the clubroom, a worried look on his face, "Hey, guys." He said, trying to force a grin.
"Good morning Atsushi-kun! Would you like some of the miso soup I made?"
"I'm not hungry…"
"Hey, even if you aren't, I don't think you should let the food go to waste."
"Ugh, ok then."
Homura continued to frown, feeling the room's tense atmosphere.
"Hey, has Matsuno-kun eaten yet?"
"Huh. I don't think he has." Totoko responded.
"Well, shouldn't he?"
"He's in the classroom right now, right?" Atsushi carried his bowl of soup to the table. "I don't think we'll be able to get him to leave until lunch time."
"Hm… I have an idea. Hold on." Totoko quickly exited the clubroom. She returned with Jyushimatsu by her side, who had his arms folded.
"What's this emergency meeting all about?" He said, tapping his foot.
"Sit down, Jyushimatsu-kun, we'll discuss it as the table." Atsushi said, pointing to his chair.
"Have you eaten yet?"
"Would you like some miso soup?"
"Sure!" He sat down in his chair, and waited for his bowl to arrive.
Suddenly, Karamatsu appeared in the doorway. "Ah! What's going on?"
"Oh! Karamatsu-niisan! You did make it after all!" Jyushimatsu waved his hand, "Totoko-chan! You should get some soup for Nii-san too!"
"Of course." Totoko smiled.
Karamatsu sat at the head of the table, licking his lips when Totoko placed the soup in front of him.
While the two brothers ate, Totoko sat down and laid out the agenda of the meeting. "Since the school living club is all about creating a home life inside the school, it's important to remain stocked up on food items and other essential things. However, put simply, we are running out. So we need to get some more!"
"Really? Is that it?" Jyushimatsu said through a mouthful of soup.
"I hadn't even noticed we were running out of stuff." Karamatsu piped up.
"Hah? And with you being the club leader as well? You should take more notice nii-san!"
"You didn't notice either!"
They bickered for a bit, causing Homura to fidget uneasily in her chair.
"If that's all, can we go back to class now?" Jyushimatsu asked.
"Yep. That's all."
"Great! Let's go nii-san!" Jyushimatsu ran back to classroom.
"Remember to come back at lunch! That's when we're going!" Totoko called out.
Homura stared into her empty bowl.
"Why can't we just tell him the truth…?" She asked, utterly wretched.
"Because," Atsushi said, "You he'd never believe us."
"It's not that, I don't think…" Totoko paused. "I don't think he can believe us."