Baka to Tesuto to Syokanju:Volume6.5 Yuuji and Shouko and All the Childhood Memories

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Yuuji and Shouko and All the Childhood Memories[edit]

Yuuji and Shouko and All the Childhood Memories

“...Okaa-sama.”

“Ah, good morning, Shouko-chan.”

“...Good morning.”

“Shouko-chan's so pretty, it'll be a waste to be a couple with our Yuuji.”

“...That's not true, I'm not pretty...and Yuuji's the coolest person in the world.”

“Oh my, Shouko-chan, you really haven't changed up till now.”

“...Nn, because—”

“Because of what?”

“...Because I've always liked Yuuji ever since that time.”


A prodigy appeared in the 5th year of Minazuki primary school.

Of course, it wasn't really enough to be country-wide news, but to the people around, it's enough for them to talk about him.

For example, if they put an elite high school entrance paper for him, he can easily write out all the correct answers.

For example, he can read the rules of Shogi and Go, understand them for a little while, and still match the top player in school.

For example, his IQ was 200.

There were all sorts of rumors on the streets. They weren't all facts, but they weren't baseless. In fact, in a mock test against freshmen in middle school, he came out top even though he was only a fifth-grader. On hearing this news, the teachers at Minazuki primary school immediately alerted the neighboring schools, and this student became even more famous, and even highly recommended.

Perhaps since he had such a sharp mind, that boy used to view himself a little too highly, but he never created much problems. He was even a student who had a thirst of knowledge, and a high academic achiever.


--However.


“You're saying that our Yuuji...used violence?”

On hearing the form teacher of her son say that, Sakamoto Yukino immediately started to doubt her ears. Though her child was somewhat cold, he wasn't someone who would use violence. Even though he had some friction with the people around him, he wouldn't be too bothered about it. It's alright if it was just a quarrel, but a fight...Yukino can't imagine her son doing that.

“Yes, Sakamoto-kun's an outstanding student, so I can't believe that he would do that...but after I continued to ask, he himself insisted 'I beat them up because I don't like those guys'.”

It seems that the homeroom teacher had the same thoughts as Yukino, as one can hear the disbelief in her voice. One can even tell that she's even more confused than Yukino.

“I see. So Yuuji did such a thing...”

“I let him go back home first, so after your son reaches home, please ask him what happened. If this keeps up, perhaps his application to enter Shimotsuki High—Middle School will be affected...”

“I understand. I'll ask him once he gets back.”

“I'll leave it to you then.”

“I'm sorry that our Yuuji created trouble for sensei.”

After this conversation with the teacher, Yukino hung up the phone and started thinking through the reason behind the violence. The other party involved 3 upperclassmen, and Yuuji seemed to have taken them on himself, resulting in this fight.

“It doesn't seem like something he would do...”

Yuuji's really a smart child. Even when removing the bias of the parents, this fact still remains. This prodigy actually took on upperclassmen, 3 of them at that, and no matter what, Yukino felt incredulous about it. Even if Yuuji did beat them up because he hated those boys, with Yuuji's intelligence, he would plan to let himself win. At least that's what he would do.

“What exactly happened...”

So there should be a special reason why Yuuji would fight them himself.

“If that's the case, I do need to ask the truth from him...”

Thinking about that, Yukino got up to prepare tea and biscuits to calm her son down somewhat when she speaks to her son.

But at this moment--

“Ara?”

Ding dong—a sharp doorbell sound could be heard from the quiet living room. It seems that she has a guest.

“If that's the case. Please hold on...let me see...”

She wanted to see who pressed the bell through the indoor surveillance camera, but pressed the wrong button, and ended up turning the LCD completely black. If she pressed a few buttons, she should be able to see the image, but when the same thing happened the last time, she randomly pressed the buttons and caused the bell circuit to break down. If this happened again, her son would explode in anger.

“Sorry to keep you waiting. May I know who that is—eh?”

“...Aunty, I'm sorry...”

On opening the door, she found a little guest standing over there in front of her, looking really depressed.

“...Yuuji's really amazing.”

As the afternoon and evening went together, the boy and girl were sitting opposite each other in the empty classroom where no one else was at as they work on their homework.

“Don't say that now, Shouko, hurry up and finish this so that we can go home.”

Without looking at the girl, the boy—Yuuji, looked bored as he makes a guidebook for extra-curricular teaching.

“...But I want to talk to Yuuji.”

“I don't want to talk, I just want to finish this troublesome thing and hurry back home.”

“...I want to talk to Yuuji.”

“No.”

“...I want to talk to Yuuji.”

“No.”

“...I want to talk to Yuuji.”

“...”

Since he said that he didn't want to talk, Yuuji decided to ignore her.

“...Yuuji.”

“...”

No matter how Shouko called him, Yuuji didn't lift his head up as he just works on the assignment in his hands silently.

Shouko saw that she wouldn't be able to get the reply she wanted, so she decided to change her method.

“...Yuuji, listen to me.”

“...”

As expected, he continued to ignore Shouko and pretend not to see her or hear her.

“...My breasts' been growing slowly recently.”

BAM—Yuuji's head slammed against the table surface, causing a huge thud.

“WHY DID YOU JUST SAY SUCH A RIDICULOUS THING!”

“...Because Yuuji's been ignoring me. I just said something guys would be interested in.”

“I, I'M NOT INTERESTED! OKAY, HURRY UP AND FINISH YOUR WORK!”

“...I finished what I need to do. But I just want to talk to Yuuji.”

“Just talk to your friends then.”

“...Mn, that's what I'm doing now.”

“The friend you're referring to is me...?”

Yuuji revealed a 'can't bear with you' look at Shouko. The girl didn't hesitate at all when she told Yuuji that he's her friend as she looked by with a cute and radiant smile.

Seeing her like this, Yuuji couldn't help but think.

“What the heck. Recently, this person's...been livelier than before...”

He recalled the moment when she first transferred into Minazuki Primary school. She didn't smile at all. If she smiled like that from the beginning, she should be able to get along well with everyone.

After she transferred in, Shouko wasn't bullied, but she obviously attracted a lot of attention.

The presence she gave off was really different from the other students. She's always slow when talking, and unable to catch up to others in conversations. She's quiet, and gave others a gloomy image. Most importantly, in a certain sense, her presence was really exceptional.

That long black hair that didn't have any blemish and looked as soft as thread.

The long, narrow and beautiful eyes that reminded people of jade or a blue crystal.

She would be one heck of a beauty in the future. Right now, her slender and dazzling figure is already charming.

At this age, children would start to know more about their genders, so her existence alone undoubtedly made the other girls jealous of her, and it made this boy who's of the same age shy and scared.

5th and 6th graders will start to realize the differences between themselves and the surroundings. In other words, it's an age when they started going through puberty. Shouko, who's pretty, had a good heritage, brains and athleticism, has a wall against the students around her in terms of what's right and what's not right. If done well, this wall would make her like someone worth admiring as they will start to worship her. On the other hand, everyone will just treat her as a weirdo.

Unfortunately, the latter case seemed to happen to Shouko.

(Oh well. It has nothing to do with me anyways.)

At that time, Yuuji just treated her normally because 'I have no interest in this childish world', and unknowingly, Shouko began to get close to him. Both of them had outstanding grades and were class representatives for two consecutive years, and this may be one of the reasons why both of them got close together. Though Yuuji did feel that Shouko wanted to get close to him, he didn't really have too much feelings for her.

“...Yuuji, shall we talk?”

Yuuji couldn't feel any hint of malice from her, and at this moment, she's staring at Yuuji with eyes like a kid. Perhaps her naïve personality of being unable to understand ugly made her annoying to her fellow gender.

Rumors had it that before she transferred in, since 2 years ago, Shouko was studying in some noble girls school. Though people would have their prejudices, Yuuji felt that the ojou-samas would see themselves as superior. Letting such a girl stay in such a school would not create as much interaction as a normal school. Maybe that's the reason why she transferred to such a primary school...Yuuji hypothesized.

“...Yuuji?”

Seeing Yuuji suddenly became silent, Shouko tilts her head, not understanding what's going on.

Truthfully, it's troublesome to talk with Shouko, but if he ignored her, it'll be even troublesome if she mentioned that fatal topic.

Taking the lesser of the two evils, Yuuji decided to talk to her.

“Oh yeah. What did you say was amazing?”

“...Eh?”

“Didn't you say that I'm amazing or something?”

“...Ah, mn,. It's about the mock test just now.”

Yuuji's tone was really unfriendly, but Shouko didn't feel unhappy or angry with his attitude as she answered back like normal. In fact, Yuuji's tone was always cold, or rather he would be slightly gentler to Shouko. Yuuji's personality was so cold he wouldn't say more to people he's not interested in and ignore them.

“The mock exams aren't anything much.”

“...But you're only a fifth-graders, yet you could study better than middle school students. That's really amazing. Even those sixth grade senpai looked troubled.”

“I got a question wrong on social studies. I would have gotten first if I didn't get that wrong.”

Shouko's studying at primary school level, and her ability was able to match middle schoolers. However, Yuuji was bothered that he could not get a first on a 'mere' middle school level exam. Shouko's learning ability wasn't bad, but it was vastly inferior to Yuuji's.

It's good to learn more, but Yuuji's superiority complex towards the rest was like what they said. Of course, his personality mostly annoyed the other students. Shouko's statement that the 'sixth grade senpai looked troubled' was an understatement, since they must be furious at Yuuji. If they find out that the arrogant boy who's one year younger in time looked down on them, they would be really fuming.

“That doesn't really matter anyway. Let's hurry and deal with them so that we can go home!”

Yuuji knocked twice on the pile of paper that's on the table and prompted Shouko. Shouko didn't stop, but asks,

“...Is there something today?”

“Nothing, nothing at all. It's just...if I go back too late, I'll be bothered by a few irritating guys.”

“...Irritating guys?”

“Don't worry too much. It's just some idiots who I don't need to remember about.”

Yuuji gave a look of disdain as he looked down on them.

“...I see.”

“Yeah. Really, if they have the time to envy, they should use that time to go back and study. But they won't beat me no matter how much they studied.”

Yuuji said arrogantly.

“...But more than that, I feel happier at school.”

“Huh? Happier at school? Are you talking about yourself?”

“...Un, is that weird?”

“It's not that it's weird...”

But it's really surprising that she would say that.

Like what Yuuji knew, even if there were some more people, Shouko didn't really have much friends. She wouldn't play with the other classmates enthusiastically, and didn't take part in any clubs, so what makes her like school?

Though not at Yuuji's level, Shouko was a really smart child. Thus, she realized what Yuuji was about to ask and calmly answered before he did.

“...Because no one would play with me at all, and no one would talk to me. My house's too big that it made me feel lonely...”

“You really don't know when enough's enough. Saying that your house's too wide, I'm rather envious about that.”

“...If that's the case, do you want to come to my house to play?”

Perhaps expecting something, Shouko looked up and asked Yuuji.

“No way. I'd rather study more than play with you, it's more meaningful that yet.”

But Yuuji's reply caused her to be unable to get closer, and she looked somewhat unhappy.

“...You're so bad.”

“Whatever you say.”

“...Petty kid.”

“Humph, so what.”

“...Yuuji likes me.”

“ACK ACK!”

Yuuji choked on his saliva.

Girls do mature earlier than guys in the psychological concept of like and hate, and Yuuji's no exception.

“...You like me, so you don't want to come to my house to play because you're shy.”

(...It's not just me. It'll be the same if you find other guys...)

The notion appeared in his mind, but boys at this age can't say such things.

“Why did you ask me to go to your house? Did something happen?”

Yuuji didn't take her taunt as he threw a question over. Now, Shouko's looking somewhat troubled.

“...It's not something that would happen immediately...”

“What do you mean by that? Explain clearly!”

“...Recently, grandpa's been talking about the 'Holy Ridge' Girls School.”

The school that Shouko mentioned was the name of the famous school that's affiliated to a university. Speaking of which, the students there were all children of financial players and politicians, a really famous school of nobility . They were said to accept rich students from the other states, and the student dorm that's situated behind that large and heavy entrance were often in short supply.

“Fuu, so your gramps want you to transfer over?”

“...He hasn't said that yet...but I guess so.”

“Ah, really.”

“...But, I don't want to transfer schools...”

Shouko looked somewhat melancholic. Yuuji, who wouldn't really pay too much attentions to other people's hearts, had a deep impression after seeing her expression. He didn't know why she would like this school, but Shouko really looked like she wanted to continue staying here. Maybe...she just hates those rich girl schools.

“I see. So you want to bring a friend back to get rid of that thought.”

“...They often asked me whether I was bullied at school.”

“Because you always looked like you would be bullied easily. You wouldn't talk no matter what they did to you.”

Someone who backs away like her would always be viewed as someone who's easily bullied. It's understandable that Shouko's grandfather would be worrying about her situation in school.

But to what Yuuji knows, Shouko wasn't bullied. If she was really bullied, she wouldn't tell her family members no matter what. If she said it, she would have to transfer schools.

“...I finally managed to make friends other than Yuuji...”

“Then bring those guys back home to play with.”

“...I wasn't really on that good terms with them...”

“Humph, your answer's rather delicate.”

“...Mn.”

The introverted and quiet Shouko needed a lot of time to get along with everyone. Having finally quelled the troubles of transferring in and get along with her other classmates, Shouko's grandfather would want her to transfer schools. Yuuji felt that it was rather strange.

“Oh well. It doesn't involve me anyway. It doesn't matter to me even if you're going to transfer schools.”

“...You're too much.”

“No way.”

“...You're too much.”

“No way.”

“...You're too much.”

“No way.”

“...You're too much.”

“No way.”

“...You're too much.”

“No way.”

“...You're too much.”

“No way.”

“...You're too much.”

“No way.”

“.....Actually, my breasts are the largest in class.”

“ACK ACK!”

After that, Yuuji could only follow Shouko's pace, and by the time they finished their assignments, every other student in school had gone home.

It wasn't early now. Shouko, who normally wanted to talk with Yuuji until she reached Yuuji's house, went home directly, and Yuuji could only go back on his own alone. Just when he was thinking about the 'theory behind sound transmission', a few figures suddenly appeared in front of him.

“Oi, Sakamoto.”

One of the three boys who appeared said hello with a pressuring call.

Yuuji snorted and glanced at him before turning his eyes on the road back.

He avoided the boys like they're telegraph poles.

“Damn brat—ignoring us like that!”

“You arrogant brat!”

Thus, the other two people standing on both sides blocked off Yuuji's path.

Yuuji glared at them irritatedly and softly opened his mouth,

“What's wrong? I don't have time to hang around with you people.”

“SHUT UP! WHO ASKED YOU TO RETORT BACK!?”

“FOR A FIFTH-GRADER, YOU'RE REALLY COCKY!”

Haaa—Yuuji sighed.

It's not the first time he was stopped by his upperclassmen, but it didn't really happen a lot of times. But ever since the results of that mock exam were released, these people kept looking for him. Yuuji would continue to ignore them at the beginning, but after so many times, he really felt irritated by them.

“I say...what do you want to do? Are you lonely because you guys have no friends?”

Having been told off like this by Yuuji, who obviously didn't have many friends, how could those boys hold their anger in? As expected, the 3 upperclassmen were so angry that their faces were flushed red.

“DAMN YOU, BEHAVE YOURSELF!'

“KNOW YOUR PLACE! YOU'RE JUST ABLE TO STUDY BETTER, THAT'S ALL!”

“WE'RE SIXTH GRADERS! USE SOME HONORIFICS WHEN TALKING TO US!”

No matter how loud they spoke, they wouldn't go up to do anything to Yuuji. In the end, these three boys just looked like thugs, but they're just spineless cowards. Besides, they were just here to find trouble with Yuuji for having better grades than them, and they're not like delinquents.

Yuuji shrugged his shoulders in an exaggerated motion, and then continued,

“Honorifics? You're just idiots. Honorifics are 'terms that honor the person'. Is there anything I can give respect to you with if you people can't even do your homework well?”

He taunted them arrogantly.

“WHA—! WHAT DID YOU SAY!?”

“WE'RE UPPERCLASSMEN!”

The upperclassmen were even more agitated after Yuuji clearly told them 'your grades are worse then mine'. Yuuji continued to enact verbal revenge to remove the anger he didn't manage to vent up.

“It's because you're upperclassmen that I couldn't respect you further. You studied one year more than, but you lost to me, isn't it? Forget about being unable to respect you, you can't grumble even if I treat you as idiots. You should be the ones saying honorifics to me.”

“WHA, WHAT DID YOU SAY!!”

Being belittled like this, they could not remain silent. One of them was so angry he reached out and grabbed Yuuji by the collar.

Once he did that, Yuuji said something to shake their confidence.

“Oi, can you really beat me up? Sensei will notify your parents if something happened to me, because I'm a special student here.”

“Uu...”

Yuuji's words made the three boys tremble.

It's true. It wouldn't be wise to beat Yuuji up here. It was the same back, but after the results of the mock exam came out, those teachers treated Yuuji really differently. If they did anything to Yuuji, they will get a bad rep for their recommendation to school, and the scariest thing is that their parents will be notified.

“If you understand, scram. Also, don't appear in front of me again.”

Yuuji deliberately knocked his shoulder into them and continued on his way home. The 3 upperclassmen could only watch him leave dejectedly.

“That guy really infuriates me!”

“I really want to deal something to him!”

“If we can't wreck him up, at least mess his locker up!”

“Right! We'll do that!”

“We must teach him what 'respect' is!”

If they couldn't beat him up directly, they would wreck his stuff. Those childish thoughts were expected by Yuuji, the one called a prodigy. If he could catch them wrecking his stuff, he could punish them without being caught. Yuuji taunted them while expecting this, and those three didn't know that.

“I'm back.”

Yuuji opened the door and muttered. Even though Yuuji felt that this greeting was meaningless at all, he couldn't resist the notion of 'remembering to be polite, thank and greet others' his mother would emphasize all the time. Though she wouldn't be angry all if he didn't listen—she would look depressed and continue to nag at Yuuji.

“Welcome back, Yuuji. You came back really late today. Did you go to Shouko-chan's house to play?”

Dressed with an apron around her, Yukino came out to invite him in. That's what normally happens when Yuuji returns home.

“Why would I go play with her? That's ridiculous.”

“Ara, aren't you two friends?”

“No way.”

“Really. You're saying such things again...Shouko-chan will become a beauty in the future. It'll be too late the moment you say 'I should have treated her well like what mum said. I really didn't expect her to become a beauty like mom'.”

“Who would do that? Besides, you're not a beauty, mom.”

“Ahh, you're too much.”

Yukino puffed her cheeks unhappily, but she continued to maintain a casual presence. It's just that Yukino was pretending not to be concerned.

“I came back late today because I had to deal with the roles of being a monitor. I will be a little later tomorrow too, because I got to teach some upperclassmen a lesson.”

“Teach what to your upperclassmen?”

“A lot of things.”

Should I prepare a camera to take the scene of the crime? This notion appeared in his mind, but Yuuji immediately rejected it. By then, it will be too troublesome if anyone were to ask him why he brought a camera along, and it would be too much of a waste to use a camera on them. It would be easy to just call the teacher in after checking what they did. If his things were wrecked, he just need to ask them to pay up.

After deciding the course of action tomorrow. Yuuji raised the question he had on his mind up till now.

“Oh yeah, mom...”

“What is it?”

“Why are you wearing an apron...are you intending to cook dinner?”

“That's right. I'm making potato and meat stew. I just peeled the sweet potatoes.”

“WHY ARE YOU PEELING SWEET POTATOES WHEN YOU SAID YOU'RE GOING TO COOK POTATO AND MEAT STEW!”

“The last time I cooked it, the potato was cooked until it was so soft, so I chose the sweet potato s that's hard to cook.”

“FORGET ABOUT MESSING UP THE DISH, YOU ALREADY MESSED UP THE DEFINITION OF THE POTATO AND MEAT STEW DISH!!”

Though he retorted back, Yuuji muttered, 'Ahh, nevermind...it feels like it's edible this time...'. 'Habit' could really be a terrifying thing.

“Oh yeah, mom forgot to buy meat, so it's a potato and meat stew without meat~”

“YOU'RE JUST COOKING SWEET POTATOES!!!”

It's been 5 years since he started attending primary school, and this time was enough for Yuuji to understand the difference between his family and other people's families.

The next day, after school,

Waiting for the sixth graders to show up, Yuuji went to the library immediately after lesson and spent the time studying there. He intended to wait until the sixth graders finished their lessons and messed up the place before checking it out.

(Arre? Speaking of which, Shouko didn't follow me today...)

He thought as he walked towards the library.

Normally, Shouko would tell him to go home with her or talk together, and today, she didn't follow him. Something felt strange about that.

(Did she start to hang around with those people who became her friends recently...oh well, it doesn't matter.)

Yuuji didn't think that it would end up like that in one or two days, but he didn't think too deeply into it as he wasn't interested. Also, he had more important things to do, like making the upperclassmen suffer.

It doesn't matter if they didn't come over. Besides, it wouldn't benefit him anyway. However, Yuuji was thinking about letting them get retribution if they dared to come over to mess up the place.

(I hid my shoes the moment I came to school in the morning so that I won't get affected. But...did they detect my plan?)

If he were on the other side today, he should be able to tell what the other side's thinking about. Since he hid his shoes, the other people belongings had to be kept away. They would be idiots if they didn't discover them.

(Well, even if I could discover them, those guys probably wouldn't be able to do so. They're a bunch of idiots anyway.)

If he went all out, he can't possibly lose to an adult in terms of wits. Even though they're sixth graders, they're just primary school students, so they couldn't possibly match his intellect. Yuuji opened the door to the library as he imagined those guys being caught in the act and crying.

Normally, Shouko would use lots of excuses to stick with Yuuji and go back with him, but after everyone went back home today, she stayed alone in the classroom to do her assignment. Since she was talking to Yuuji so much yesterday, she didn't manage to finish her own guidebook.

She folded about 20 pieces of paper down the middle, put the cover over it, and stapled them together. After making one booklet, she lined some more papers to the corners and stapled them together. Shouko would follow the rules seriously and line each piece of paper together properly, and once all four corners were lined up properly, she would then file them up into a book. It looks inefficient to others, but Shouko liked this simple job.

Unlike Yuuji, who was able to finish the work while talking away, Shouko spent time and effort to finish it. It was already evening when the work was done, and it was about time for school to close.

Stretching the body that was stiff due to the continuous work, Shouko packed up the guidebooks. She carried the ones Yuuji did yesterday as well, and left the classroom to head to the office.

Shouko knocked on the heavy wooden door, and muttered 'excuse me' before entering the office. On seeing Shouko, the busy homeroom teacher stopped her work and stood up.

“...Sensei, the booklets, they're done.”

“Thank you.”

Shouko passed all the booklets to the homeroom teacher, who thanked her back courteously.

“...I'll be off first.”

After saying goodbye to the teacher courteously, Shouko went back to the classroom alone. Now, she just needed to pack her bag and go home. Since she couldn't say much to Yuuji today, she would say more the next day—While thinking about this, she heard voices from the classroom that's supposed to be empty.


“THAT DAMNED SAKAMOTO HID HIS OUTDOOR SHOES! THAT BASTARD!”


That was a a voice that was completely different from her classmates.

Feeling that this was weird, Shouko peeked in from the corridor.


“THAT GUY MUST BE BULLIED OFTEN THEN! SINCE HIS SHOES ARE GONE, SOMEONE MUST HAVE HIDDEN THEM SINCE HIS INDOOR SHOES WERE GONE IN THE MORNING!”

“Wouldn't it be too much to mess up his locker if that's the case?”

“IT'S ALRIGHT, IT'S ALRIGHT! WHO ASKED THAT BASTARD TO BE SUCH A TWAT!?”

“THAT'S RIGHT! IT'S TO EDUCATE OUR JUNIORS!”


There were three boys making a ruckus. They looked strong, and she had never seen them before. Thus, Shouko guessed that they would be sixth graders.

But why would sixth graders appear in a fifth-grader's classroom?

Without realizing that Shouko was looking with doubts in her mind, they pulled out something from their pockets.


“LET'S JUST WRITE THINGS FULL OF BAD STUFF ABOUT HIM!”

“HOW ABOUT, HE CHEATED IN ALL HIS EXAMS!?”

“OOH—! THAT'S NOT TOO BAD!”


They took out an oil-based marker, and the targets were a notebook and sports attire from the locker.

(Ah...? Tha, that's from Yuuji's locker...)

The locker that was opened was undoubtedly Yuuji's. In other words, they wanted to bully Yuuji.

Something bad will be done to her friend. Thinking about this, Shouko couldn't remain silent even when knowing that they're upperclassmen.

“...Tha, that...”

She walked into the classroom and summoned her courage to speak up.

Thus, all the upperclassmen knew that someone was at the scene of the crime, and trembled. They turned to look at Shouko.

“Who are you?”

A boy said menacingly.

Shouko didn't dare to look at him in the eyes as she lowered her head and protested softly.

“...Tha, that's Yuuji's, stuff...don't, do that to him...”

She said that so softly that it didn't sound like a warning. To Shouko, this was a warning that she could muster with all her strength, but it was too weak to control a group of boys who were older than her.

“What do you want?”

“It has nothing to do with you, right?”

Facing Shouko's feeble resistance, the boys said that even forcefully.

“...But, Yuuji will be pitiful if you vandalize his things, and also...”

“AND WHAT!?”

“...Yuuji's my friend, so it does involve me...”

Shouko said that with a faint voice.

There's no other meaning to these words,

But it didn't feel the same to these boys.

That guy's a lowerclassman, yet he could study and had lots of privileges from the teachers. He's unlike us though. He has no friends.

That's the one advantage the boys thought they had over Yuuji.

But this girl in front of them declared herself to be Yuuji's friends. She was trembling so hard, yet she stepped forward to advise them against doing so. That girl had a stunningly pretty face, and she looked like a pushover. The 3 growing boys realized that besides friends, it's important to have someone of the opposite gender who they can view as an important part of their lives'. This fact made them feel really inferior.

“Oi! Ignore this girl and hurry up!!”

“That's right! Finish the job properly!”

The boys turned from Shouko and looked at Yuuji's belongings. One of the boys took off the marker and aims the marker point at the PE shirt on the table as he gets ready to draw all over it.

“Sto, stop!”

Shouko couldn't ignore the prank that's to be done in front of her, and subconsciously reached her arms out to stop his hand.

“St, stop bothering us!”

“No...Yuuji will be really pitiful...!”

She continued to grab onto the boy's hands that were trying to shake her off.

If anyone else in class knew of it, they might just say 'it's not like they did any damage'. Of course, Shouko doesn't want to see Yuuji hurt, but she didn't want to see Yuuji getting used to it until he doesn't bother with it.

“OI, LET GO!”

“ARE YOU DONE YET!”

“...Uu!!”

The other two boys moved forward to grab Shouko and pull her off. But even so, Shouko continued to hang on as she continued to try and protect Yuuji's personal belongings.

Those boys who wanted to vandalize Yuuji thoroughly seem like they were willing to take action on the girl as they tugged at her.

“This twerp's really annoying!”

The one who finally broke the balance of power were the boys, who won the power struggle. A boy wrapped his arm under Shouko's armpit and opened her chest wide open to restrain her—her hands being held up.

“Haa...haaa...go, mess her...”

The boy holding the marker was finally released, and took a deep breath.

And then, he subconsciously looked down at his own body to check the state he was in, and the white shirt that was dirtied became quite an atrocious sight.

“WHAT! HOW DO YOU INTEND TO REPAY ME NOW!? LOOK! MY SHIRT'S ALL MESSED UP ALREADY!”

The hand holding the marker and the elbow were okay, as they could be washed off since they're oil-based. However, the trails on the shirt would be bad. He couldn't possibly wear this shirt again.

“That...wasn't my fault...!”

Shouko glared at him and forcefully tried to break off.

“You twerp...FINE! I'LL LET YOU EXPERIENCE HAVING YOUR SHIRT VANDALISED TOO!!”

After saying those words, the boy moved the marker near Shouko's shirt.

“THEN I'LL DRAW ALL SORTS OF THINGS ON YOUR SHIRT LIKE THAT SAKAMOTO!”

“THAT'S RIGHT! LET'S DO THIS!”

The boys' enthusiasm and arrogance went up a notch once they robbed her of her freedom.

To the boys, it was just vandalism, just a little act on others.

“Do, don't do this...”

But to Shouko right know, it couldn't be just treated as a little vandalism.

It wouldn't matter if it was just a few streaks of the marker lines, since she could find an excuse. However, it would be different if it were an all out vandalism. Once they draw some pictures on the clothing, it means that the stains on the clothes weren't an accident, and the outcome—would be the best proof that Shouko was bullied at school. No matter how hard Shouko tried not to avoid it, she would have to transfer schools.

“Don't...”

Shouko kept trying to curl her body up, but still couldn't avoid the marker tip that was closing in on her.

At this moment, the marker was even scarier than a knife.

“I...I DON'T WANT TO TRANSFER SCHOOLS!”

Yuuji quickly walked back to the classroom.

The reason why he did so was because he was so engrossed with the book he randomly picked up in the library, and accidentally forgot the time.

(That book was really interesting. Anyone other than me would have found it hard to understand that book.)

Yuuji recalled the contents of the book he was still reading just now as he moved forward. The theory that lightspeed doesn’t change, but that time changed; such a theory was really interesting. Also, what intrigued him more was that the content couldn’t be understood by anyone other than himself.

From an adult’s viewpoint, this is a proof of a kid enjoying himself, but Yuuji’s immature mind wasn’t able to realize that.

(Then, did those guys mess up my locker properly?)

He immediately changed his thoughts on seeing his own classroom.

He would check the situation out before calling the teacher over. He would check if they messed the place up before that though, as he would be looking for trouble if he didn’t check it before bringing the teacher over.

He softened his footsteps and looked into the classroom from afar. He couldn’t see what was going on inside, but he could hear voices.

(Those guys sure are idiots. Well, blame them for choosing the wrong target.)

Yuuji was grinning after seeing that his plan was a success. He was 99% certain that the plan was a success, but for precaution, he went to check for evidence to see if there was anything that could be used as evidence, so he approached the classroom further.

And then, he looked into the classroom—and something totally unexpected happened in front of him.


“OI, LET GO!”

“ARE YOU DONE YET!”

“...Uu!!”


Shouko was curled up as she tried her best to protect something. The familiar 3 upperclassmen surrounded her and roughened her hair and grabbed her arms. She just looked bullied out there.

(Eh? Eh? What’s going on? What happened?)

This completely unexpected situation stunned Yuuji.

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Yuuji had never seen Shouko being bullied by anyone, and neither did he hear anything about her having a problem with those three. However, the trio who had nothing to do with Shouko at all were definitely bullying the weak her.

The only connection she had with them was,

(Is...is it because of me? Is Shouko being bullied because of me?)

Yuuji did not know how this happened. Is it because Shouko saw them pulling that prank and went out to stop them? Or is it because Shouko met them over something trivial and got into a quarrel with them? Or is it because of something else?

However, the only undisputed fact was already right in front of him--Shouko got involuntarily involved in the personal squabble between Yuuji and the 3 sixth-graders, and was a victim because of it.

(I, I have to save her!)

The childish sense of responsibility and justice prompted Yuuji, who only thought about trying to help the girl who was being bullied in front of him as fast as possible. I want to save her like an anime hero in a cool and suave manner! Those guys are all idiots, and I'm the smart one here, the most special one here. I'm different from them. There's no need to be scared.

There's no need to be scared.

(Ugh...uu...mm...)

But Yuuji could not take that step forward.

The only thought he had was that they could not beat him even if they ganged up on him. But at this moment, he needed powerful arm strength to beat the enemies instead of a mind that could accurately seek out an answer. He was just a fifth grader, and the trio were older than him. The difference between those two sides was obvious.

(Yes, that's right! I just need to call in a teacher!)

It was different from what he predicted, but this was definitely a bullying case. If he reported it to a teacher, those guys would become bad kids, and he would get his objective. Wouldn't that be what he wanted?

Yuuji thought about this, and got ready to storm towards the staff room.

(Wait...but if I do this...what'll happen to Shouko?)

The sixth graders who were bullying would be brought to the staff room, and told off by their parents once they returned home, which was fine. However, what would happen to Shouko who was bullied?

(If I report it to the teacher, the school will also contact her parents. In that case...)

In that case, perhaps Shouko's parents would know that she was bullied at school? Then, even if Shouko doesn't want to transfer schools, she would be forced to do so. No matter how much she tries to explain that this was all a coincidence, and that she had never been bullied on other schools before, Shouko's family would definitely not believe this. To Shouko, she would rather avoid having this situation develop instead of being bullied.

In other words, if he called the teacher here, it would force Shouko into despair.

(Wha, what should I do? What am I expected to do here!?)

There’s a girl who’s bullied because of him.

If he ran out to call for help just to save her, she will end up being hurt.

But even if he went alone to save her, his opponents were three upperclassmen. In contrast, he was alone, and a lowerclassmen who have never fought before. The outcome of the battle could already be seen.

(Wh…why did it end up like this? I just wanted to take revenge on them!)

Even if he called the teacher here, it wouldn't change the fact that he caused Shouko to be bullied.

But if he didn't do so and leave while pretending like nothing happened, the strong guilt would continue to torment his conscience.

And even if he used all his strength to stop them, he would be beaten up.


No matter what he chose, he couldn't retreat completely, and there would be an emotional or physical scar.

His mind was in a completely blank slate. The normally logical reasoning of his couldn't operate at all. Yuuji wanted to cover his head, squat down, not look and ignore it.

(What should I do...someone...someone save me!) A weak begging cry could be heard in his mind.

Actually, Yuuji already knew that if there was only one correct choice, it would be to summon his courage and take the first step forward. However, fear distracted him, forcing him to be unable to make the correct decision.

(Damn it, those guys are sixth graders. Three of them…I can’t beat them on my own!)

Would he be beaten up by them? Would he be walloped by them? Would he cry because of the pain? Yuuji’s mind started to imagine tragic things, causing him to tremble. Thinking it through, even if he rushed forward, there wouldn’t be any benefit at all.

But while thinking about that, another thought crept into Yuuji’s mind.

(Why must I be scared here!? Shouko’s being bullied because of me! I should be taking responsibility for that! Why am I thinking about those useless things here!)

This was the first time Yuuji felt so ashamed of himself. Whether it’s the hero of anime or the male lead in a manga, none of them would be looking so ridiculous. Even though they knew that they couldn’t beat the enemy, they would leap into danger without hesitation just to save the girl. But right now, he could only stand outside and tremble. He was actually trembling in the face of those idiots he looked down on, rooted to the spot. He was, he was the one who caused that girl in front of him to be bullied.

Thinking more into it, he found himself pitiful, shameful, belittled. His intellect would only bring him to that level. Right now, in front of him, he had something he had to do, something he had to be angry about, something he had to fight for, but yet his mind was confused, thinking about everything else. Was that his so-called intellect? If that’s true—wouldn’t the stupid guy who doesn’t think and get angry when appropriate be the cooler person to him?

Yuuji bit his lower lip so forcefully until tears were about to come out from his eyes, yet he just stood there, unable to take the initial step.

Just when Yuuji was having that internal conflict inside his head, there seemed to be a new development to this incident.


“Don’t…”


Shouko’s feeble cry entered his ears.

As he was hiding, Yuuji didn’t really understand what was going on in the classroom. He just saw a boy spreading Shouko wide open from behind, and another one boy with his arm out at her chest.

At this moment, Yuuji suddenly remembered what Shouko said the day before. Shouko did mention that her breasts grew. Would there be a prank of that kind happening?

(She’s a girl. There’ll be emotional scars on her if they really did that!)

Children at this age would only vaguely understand things about the opposite gender, so Yuuji didn’t know how much emotional damage it would cause to the girl.

(Just call for help, Shouko! I’ll get sensei to save you once you shout for help!)

Once Shouko’s willing to call for help, it’ll be what she wanted. At that point, Yuuji just needed to get the teacher to solve the problem. Then, Yuuji wouldn’t lose anything. Even if she were to be forced to transfer, it would be her mistake in making such a decision, and it wouldn’t be Yuuji’s fault.

People forced into desperation would often come up with some ridiculous reasoning.

(So what about transferring schools? At least it’s better than being hurt…so just hurry up and call for help!)

Yuji kept waiting for Shouko to voice out.

Just one sentence, one magic spell that could save him and Shouko. Once she said it, he would be freed, and he would be freed once he heard it.

Trying to run away from the guilt and terror, Yuuji continued to wait for that sentence to pop out. A ‘save me’, a ‘somebody’, anything would do. Anyway, he just hoped for her to call for a third party—especially an adult—to interfere. He would rather have her choose this, since he preferred her to transfer out than to be bullied.

Yuuji just kept wishing, wishing and wishing…


And then, Shouko finally opened her mouth,


“I...I DON'T WANT TO TRANSFER SCHOOLS!”

“Oh, OHHHHHHHHHHHHH WHAT ARE YOU DDOOOOIINNNNGGG!!!”


That voice made Shouko doubt her ears.

The owner of that voice shouldn’t be here. He shouldn’t be here to save her. Even if he’s here, it shouldn’t be him.

The person overturned all these possibilities that shouldn’t have happened; the most important friend to Shouko stood up for her to save her.

“WH, WHO IS IT!?”


The boys all then looked over. They looked so awkward, probably because they thought of the possibility that it could be a teacher.

Thanks to this unexpected passer-by, the force holding onto Shouko relaxed.

“…u!!”

In that moment, Shouko shook her hands off and got away. But to the boys, it seems like it doesn’t matter even if Shouko got away now.

“The, THERE ARE THINGS THAT CAN BE DONE AND THINGS THAT CAN’T BE DONEEE!! YOU GUYS ARE THE WORST!!!”

That’s a shout from Yuuji that was never heard before, and it was loud and trembling. It’s hard to imagine this Yuuji in front of them shouting with such a panicked tone.

“Wh, what, so it’s Sakamoto.”

“I thought that sensei was here……you scared me, you punk!”

“Oh, just nice of you to be here. We were looking for you.”


The boys got arrogant after knowing that Yuuji came alone. The excitement they had in the little scuffle is now overwhelmed by the superiority they feel as they threatened him.

“I…have nothing to say to you.”


Yuuji got overwhelmed by their presence, and his voice got softer.

Even though they’re not so bad that they can be called delinquents, the three boys were neither cowards nor kind folks. They won’t back away after seeing a lowerclassmen.

“You don’t, but we do.”


“You’re too haughty, twit.”

The three of them closed in on Yuuji to prevent him from escaping.

“I’m busy…we’ll finish it off next time. Let’s go, Shouko.”

Yuuji muttered and walked over to grab Shouko on the hand, wanting her to leave.

“I TOLD YOU TO HOLD IT THERE!”

An upperclassman grabbed Yuuji forcefully on the shoulder, and the other two boys stretch their arms wide to prevent Yuuji from escaping. Now that their prey came over while they’re all excited, the boys wouldn’t let him go easily.

“What? I’m busy here…oi!”

Yuuji wanted to swing that arm aside, but the boy wasn’t so weak as to be pushed aside with just one hand. He was finally shoved aside with both hands, but the other two boys blocked his exit. He couldn’t escape no matter what.

Yuuji stood in front of Shouko to hide her behind, and whispered to her without looking back.

“Shouko, you…go back.”

“…But.”

“GO BACK!”


Yuuji shouted with a trembling voice. Shouko was so shook up to the core, and she found Yuuji’s fist shaking as well.

“Yu, Yuuji…”

“JUST LEAVE ME ALONE AND GO BACK! YOU’LL ONLY MAKE TROUBLE FOR ME HERE!!”

Yuuji gritted his teeth and shouted out the thoughts in his mind. It wasn’t just his voice and hands trembling, as the terror of the three bigger and stronger upperclassmen struck Yuuji, causing his entire body to tremble.

“…I, I’ll call sensei here—”

“SHUT UP! JUST HURRY UP AND GO BACK!!”

Yuuji knew how Shouko wished to stay in this school, and he knew what Shouko’s grandfather would do if this situation was voiced out. Since it happened, he couldn’t let Shouko call the teacher over.

Also, more than that—Shouko kept resisting, yet if Yuuji was only worried about himself and let her call the teacher over, it would end with her transferring schools, and that would be too embarrassing and ugly of him. He doesn’t have the right to cover his head and tremble because ‘Shouko got bullied’.

Cowering in fear of the upperclassmen he looked down on, and being pitied by the girl he should be saving; these were enough to crush Yuuji’s cockiness yesterday completely.

The complaint came from Yuuji’s stammering mouth—or rather, it would be an apology to Shouko who got involved in this.

“I…I was able to study well, so, I thought I wouldn’t lose to adults, I thought I was someone amazing…”

“…Yuu—ji…”

“But it wasn’t like that…no matter how much I studied, how many foreign languages I learnt, I’ll still be afraid, scared that I’ll be beaten by these guys who’re doing such things…!”

Shouko couldn’t see Yuuji’s expression from her direction, but she noticed the water droplets dripping down Yuuji’s face.

He could only stand down there and imagine his destiny of being beaten down by them, let alone protect the girl beside him. Yuuji could only grit his teeth with regards to that inevitable outcome and his own uselessness.

Seeing Yuuji like that, Shouko forced herself to hold back her own tears and answered back.

“…Un…, …I, I’ll be…going…first…”

Most likely, Yuuji didn’t want to let others see him get beaten down like that. He probably didn’t want to admit being beaten to a pulp, crying, rolling on the floor like that. Shouko held back the frustration of having to leave Yuuji behind and running away, and escaped the classroom as what Yuuji had told her to do.

“U…uu…UWAAAAAAHHHH—!!”


Running away from Yuuji, who screamed and cried as he attacked, Shouko’s tears continued to fall.

“Welcome back, Yuuji.”

Like usual, Yukino welcomed Yuuji back once he got home.

“…”

Yuuji wordlessly took his shoes off and stepped into the house.

Yukino stared silently at her son, who didn’t explain anything, and asked.

“The school called…you had a fight with the upperclassmen?”

Yukino’s words made Yuuji stop.

“Did something happen?”

“…Nothing…nothing at all.”

Yuuji answered without looking back.

“Something did happen, right? You actually fought with your upperclassmen.”

“I just didn’t like those guys, so I beat them up. No special reason, none.”

He repeated the same reason he said at school. The teachers at school were asking ‘did something happen’ and ‘they beat you up first, right’, but Yuuji just continued to stubbornly answer ‘I beat up them because I just didn’t like them’. The sixth graders didn’t deny that too. Though the teachers were wondering what the sixth graders were doing in a fifth grader’s classroom, but since the person involved himself kept repeating the same answer, they couldn’t pursue the matter further. This incident could only be treated as a scandal caused by Yuuji, a scandal of a model student that removed any possibility of him being recommended to a famous school.

“They irritated you…is that why you fought?”

“Yeah, so!?”


“Mommy thinks that this isn’t good.”

“…”

Ignoring those words, Yuuji wordlessly went up to his own room upstairs.

Yuuji only managed to land a punch at the beginning, and then he was beaten badly. Of course, he couldn’t say that, and it was only because of a teacher walking by coincidentally that he was saved. He didn’t say anything once he was brought to the classroom. Of course, he didn’t say anything about what happened before the fight as well.

“Hey, Yuuji, wait. I haven’t—”

“SHUT UP! I JUST BEAT THEM UP BECAUSE I FOUND THEM ANNOYING! THERE’S NO OTHER REASON!’

“Ah, Yuuji.”

He grumbled as he ran up the stairs, and then, a loud slam of the door could be heard.

“So you beat them up because they irritated you, is it…”

She repeated what her son just said. The words that should have only ill intent in them were etched on her mind.

“…Aunty…”

Realizing that Yuuji wasn’t around, Shouko walked out from the living room. Yukino told her not to appear in front of Yuuji.

“I’m sorry for making you hear mother and son quarrel, Shouko-chan.”

“…Unun. It was, because of me…”

“Ara, Yuuji didn’t say that. He just said that ‘I beat them up because those guys irritated me’,”

“…But it’s because Yuuji was protecting me. Yuuji—”

“Un. I understand. You already told me what really happened, Shouko-chan.”

Shouko ran out of the classroom, found the school’s number at a public phone booth, made an anonymous call to the office, and came to Yuuji’s house to explain what Yuuji really did.

“…Aunty. Why didn’t Yuuji tell you what really happened? He saved me…Yuuji will be treated as a bad guy…”

Perhaps considering Yuuji’s future, Shouko’s expression darkened.

But as a mother, Yukino said to Shouko without any malice,

“I think it’s best for that child.”

“…Best…but, he’ll be a bad guy…? He finally managed to earn the praises of the teachers, got recommended to Shimozuki Middle school…he won’t have them now, right…?”

“U~n…perhaps that might happen.”

“…Wou, wouldn’t Yuuji be, sad or something…?”

“I don’t really know about that, because that’s a choice that kid did after thinking it through. As a mother, I can only pretend not to know anything.”

Perhaps Yukino might have seemed cruel to Shouko as they had different reasoning, but Yukino’s expression was completely different from what she said—it was a kind expression anyone could comprehend.

“…? Yuuji couldn’t go Shimozuki Middle School anymore, but aunty looks so happy…”

“Yes. I’ve never been so proud of being that kid’s mother like today. I’m happier about that rather than having a kid who can study.”

Yukino gave a bright smile. Rather than having full marks for an exam, first in a national mock exam, the scandal today made Yukino more proud than ever.

“…Yuuji’s…so kind…”

Not making any excuses for anyone, Shouko murmured to herself.

‘’Yuuji protected me.’’

‘’He couldn’t fight, he suffered, he was treated as a bad guy, yet he did that all to protect me. He even lied to his mother for that cause.’’

On thinking about this, a gradually expanding emotion grew up inside her.

“…excuse me, aunty.”

“What is it, Shouko-chan?”


“…I want to be Yuuji’s bride when I grow up.”

“Ara ara, that’s too early.”

“…I’ll definitely, definitely make him happy.”


“Fufu, that’s something Yuuji should be saying to Shouko-chan, right?”

“…That’s not true.”

“Then, I hope that Yuuji would say that to Shouko-chan one day. Aunty will cheer you on.”

“…Really?”

“That’s right. As long as Shouko-chan won’t hate Yuuji, right?”

Once Yukino asked that, Shouko again confirmed her own feelings. Would her feelings for Yuuji cool one day? Would she lose her feelings for this boy who protected her while trembling and crying? She continued to ask herself.

And then, she told the answer she got clearly to Yukino.

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“…No problems. I will love him forever, definitely.”


That’s—a firm belief that could be a prophecy of her own heart.