"A tremendous ordeal?... Eh, it's probably nothing to worry about. But still, I heard some people say the fortune teller has made accurate predictions today... I can't let it bother me."
After departing from the fortune teller stand, Taiki was on his way to the backstage area for his class's play. He thanked his lucky stars that he did not have to take the stage - he instead coordinated the preparation of the play, along with making the costumes. Knowing the majority of his work was done already, a smile crept onto his face as he entered the backstage room.
"Minamiyama's in the hospital? The prince is in the hospital?"
Taiki's smile drooped into a shocked frown.
"Yeah, apparently she was doing a ninja warrior obstacle course and fell right at the finish line. She hurt her leg, so they took her to the hospital. The good news is it doesn't sound like she broke her leg, but... there's no way she'll be able to play the prince, obviously," another classmate reported.
"Oh my, who will be able to play the prince now?" A third classmate asked.
About twenty pairs of eyes then shifted towards Taiki, who stood still at the doorway.
"Ah," they said in unison.
"Huh?" Taiki mumbled.
"Be the prince, Taiki!" A girl said.
Taiki had to pinch himself. The idea of having to become the prince at the last moment sounded like some clichéd daydream that one would have, perhaps if they even had a crush on the princess in the play. But that was not the case for Taiki.
The princess was Hina Chono, the one who liked him.
"No. No! I can't do it. I - "
"Taiki, you know all of the lines, and besides, you aren't doing something during the play already. You have to do it!" A classmate responded.
"Here, the costume fits you too, look!" A boy added.
He then stuffed the costume over Taiki's torso without any hesitation or retort from the newly minted prince.
"Well, it does fit... but I can't do it. Seriously," Taiki said.
Just as he finished his next excuse, his eyes caught the gaze of the princess, Hina. She had a look on her face that conveyed many emotions - despair, worry, nervousness, and perhaps greatest of all, hope. Even Taiki managed to realize this. He looked away to avoid any more potential awkwardness.
"I've seen them practice. So I know how hard this is. But still..." He thought.
"Guys. Taiki doesn't want to be the prince," a masculine voice called from the other side of the room. He readjusted his glasses as everyone took notice of his analysis.
"Kyo?" Taiki said, snapping back into reality.
"I mean, you're not wrong Kyo, of course Taiki doesn't want to be the prince. But what other choice do we have? We've worked too hard for this moment, we can't squander it when it counts the most," the same classmate answered.
"Well, I'll just be the prince then," Kyo said.
"Kyo?!" Taiki nearly screamed.
"I know all of the lines, so why can't I be the prince?" Kyo said.
"Yeah, I remember now, Kyo had to study all of the lines while we were making the scripts! I say he should be the prince too!" Taiki said.
Hina sighed, to the ignorance of everyone else in the room.
"Well, it's decided. Kyo will be the prince!" The class declared, as everyone high-fived and cheered with one another.
Taiki and Kyo then left the room so they could swap the prince costume.
"Kyo, you saved me. Thank you," Taiki said, now away from everyone else in a hidden hallway.
"Or perhaps I saved myself," Kyo said, taking the costume from Taiki's hands.
"Saved yourself, huh?"
Kyo gave a faint smirk. "Anyways, I'm sure Chinatsu-senpai will be relieved to know that you won't be the one kissing Hina," Kyo said.
Taiki's face burned from pink to red as he remembered that part of the script. "Okay, you really saved me, I wasn't even thinking about that back there!" Taiki said, again prompting Kyo to smirk.
"See you after the play, Taiki," Kyo said, putting on the last article of the prince costume.
"Alright, Kyo, go break a leg! On second thought, um, don't break your leg," Taiki said, as the boys shared a laugh.