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A School of Morality

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The door was closed and Sano sat on his bunk, leaning his head against the frame and gazing up at the bottom of the mattress above him. His arm was draped casually over a bent knee and were it not for the faint trembling of his body he might have been more statue than man.

The door was closed and through it Sano could hear the muffled sound of running water. He tried to blank his mind but the water pounded through his thoughts like a drum until he could only draw up his other leg and rest his forehead against his knees in frustration.

His head snapped up as the door slammed open and Nakatsu bounded through, a bag of senbei in hand. "Hey Sano, Where's Mizuki?" he asked, looking around.

Sano's fingers twitched, a waterfall sounding in his ears. Impatience made him careless. "Sh-" He broke into a coughing fit and Nakatsu turned to him in concern, asking, "Hey, you okay?" and Sano waved away his concern, saying, "Yeah, just some dust."

It was so easy to say it. He had grown used to covering for his mistakes, day by day, little by little. The lies piled up like autumn leaves around him - a little wind would blow them all away.

"He's in the shower," Sano said, seemingly recovered.

"Sano-" Nakatsu began, but before he could say anything more, the bathroom door opened and Mizuki stepped out, toweling her hair dry.

"Hi," she said, looking at the two of them in some confusion, steam seeping out of the bathroom behind her.

But Nakatsu was busy trying to stem a nosebleed and Sano was simply looking at her quietly. A liar, a pervert - he didn't care what anyone called him. His lies were as insubstantial as leaves, but hers were a badly stacked house of cards. He couldn't let them fall or his world too would crumble.

He stood swiftly and walked past Mizuki, casually rubbing the towel against her hair as he went by. "Better dry off quickly." She smiled.

With a violent twist of his wrist, he closed the door.

His hands were shaking and he clenched and unclenched his fingers. The bathroom was thick with steam and he breathed it in. He turned the shower on and ducked his head under the freezing cold stream until water dripped into his eyes and icy rivulets dribbled down his shoulders and inside his clothes.

Outside the closed door Mizuki's voice rose and fell.