By Monday evening, I'd already seen a couple of guys tearing
up their betting chits. Poor saps. All I could do is shrug
apologetically; hey, they'd taken their chances and lost. Suka-chan
(that's my little nickname for him -- I really should check with him
about it, to make sure it's okay with him, but it's so cute!) is
still in the dark about it, and I think the whole situation is
bothering him a bit. I don't think he sleeps very well.
Or maybe it's just that it takes him a while to get to sleep. He's certainly out cold this morning, while I'm up getting ready for my classes. I don't know whether he has anything scheduled for Tuesday morning, but I figure he probably does. So I decide to wake him up.
"Suka-chan! Suka-chan!" He's waking up -- I can hear a rustling noise from behind the bedcurtain. Whoops... forgot something. I stick my hand through the curtain. "Uh, hold on a sec... I'm still changing."
There's more rustling, a sudden, jerking noise as he sits bolt upright. This kid is a real deer-in-the-headlights type. I've got to calm him down a bit. I ask if he minds being called Suka-chan, and get a noncommittal response. I'll take it as permission until further notice.
"Okay, I'm all set; you can come out now. See you downstairs at breakfast?"
There's a bit of a mumble as if he were about to roll over and go back to sleep, but as I leave the room, I hear the 'shhhhk' of him parting the bedcurtains. Yup. He'll be down soon enough.
Mitsuru-sempai joins us in the dining hall, offering to help Suka- chan with his studies. Suka-chan's got his work cut out for him, what with starting classes a month behind. Needless to say, he gratefully accepts. I study with Mitsuru-sempai myself, and I haven't got half of the disadvantages Suka-chan is weighted down with. Unfortunately, Suka-chan and I aren't in the same classes, so I can't help Mitsuru-sempai in bringing him up to speed, and now Mitsuru-sempai's got to tutor both of us in different subjects. Oh well... he made the offer...
Between note-taking and all the other activity involved in going to class, I wonder what Suka-chan's going through. I couldn't imagine missing a whole month of school, and trying to start from scratch like he is. New school, new subjects, new friends... oi!
I can feel a small sweatdrop bursting onto my neck. My looks and demeanor have earned me a bit of a reputation at Ryokuto. What if someone spills the beans about my being a guy?
Then it occurs to me: the sempais had insisted that this was a secret between us four. Anyone refers to me in the masculine sense, and Suka-chan'll just take into account that the guy doesn't know any different. I exhale in relief, a bit too loudly.
Uh-oh. "Uh... I didn't say anything, sensei. Sorry about that."
"Say anything? No, I asked you... what was the answer to question twenty-six?"
You know how in stories and movies, when a character gets into a situation like this, there's a scene cut? I could really use one right about now...
I actually get out of classes with only minor bruises to my ego, and head back to the room to give Suka-chan a proper welcome home from his first day at class. I change back into sweatshirt and jeans, once again troubling to pinch the sweatshirt a few times.
Turns out I have quite a wait before he shows up -- and here I thought he got out of his morning class at the same time I did, too -- but eventually I hear his hand on the doorknob. Just like the first time, he pauses. What's going through his mind as he contemplates whether or not to open the door?
I stand up just before he finally decides to open the door, giving him my best 'kawaii' smile: "Okeri nasai!" I can't sing worth a lick, but I put a singsong quality to my greeting. This is just too much... it's hard to keep from laughing out loud.
It's certainly too much for Suka-chan. He had been wearing a determined look on his face as he stepped in, but in those few seconds, it's completely melted away. He drops to his knees in utter defeat, leaving me to wonder once again if I've gone a little too far. Of course, there could be more to this than I'm seeing, too...
Suka-chan is watching me from his perch on the upper bunk as I get ready for bed. "Say, Shun-chan, you have to try as pass yourself off as a boy, right?" I nod, and begin carefully brushing my hair as he continues. "Shouldn't you at least act a little more boyish? And that long hair, really..."
I cut him off: "Oh, if I tried that, I'd probably screw up somewhere along the line and give myself away. The way I figure it, I'm better off just being myself, and letting everyone assume I'm just weird. They don't bother me this way." I step onto the edge of my bed, and bring my face up to his. "But if you really want me to, I'll cut my hair..."
He turns away, and I think he's actually blushing. "N-no... I wasn't saying you should do that or anything..."
You know, if I really was a girl, I could learn to really like Suka- chan. But I can't quite tell him that.
So I just giggle, "Suka-chan, you're just so cute!" and jump down. And before I can really think too much about how sweet Suka-chan can be, I decide to send him out. "Listen, could you do me a favor?"
"I've got to change, so... could you...?" And he dutifully climbs down from his perch, plops himself outside the threshold, and closes the door behind him. It only takes me a moment to change into pajamas and climb into bed. As I drift off to sleep, I can hear Suka-chan still talking with the sempais about arranging a time to begin his tutoring sessions with them. Looks like they're going to start tomorrow... no time like the present, I suppose.
But right now, I can't even stay awake long enough to hear when.
Disclaimer: Koko wa Greenwood is the creation of Yukie Nasu, and all characters and situations therein are the property of her and Hakusensha Inc., Victor Entertainment, and the Pierrot Project. No infringement is intended.