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“Listen Reina, it's not that I doubt your ability to survive on your own, but I just don't want you to get hurt!” Kosuke had been trying to receive forgiveness from Reina for his actions the previous night.

“Actions speak louder than words.” Reina said, as she placed her bike with the others at the high school.

Kosuke did the same, before catching up to Reina. He said, “Maybe so, but I just couldn't leave you in the company of the class playboy, okay?”

Akira suddenly approached the two with a box of chocolate-coated biscuit sticks. He handed them to Reina, saying, “I'm sorry for the other night. I've been thinking about what Daichi said, and I think I know why people like Natsuki simply aren't interested in me. Would you like to hang out later? Maybe not as a date, but as friends, maybe?”

“Perhaps. When is a good time?” Reina asked.

Akira's eyes lit up and he said, “Cleaning time, of course! Just so we can avoid any embarrassing moments.” He laughed awkwardly, before his eyes darted around and he left. He did have an anxious reputation.

Kosuke watched Akira leave, and he remarked, “I can't believe that the class clown and the class playboy are both boyfriend prospects for you. But then again, you're the one calling the shots.” The two exchanged their shoes inside the building and started toward the classroom. Kosuke added, “Then there's the guy who just moved in from Tokyo. Have you decided who you'll choose yet? I doubt you can keep people from finding out about your three dates.”

Moriko caught up to the two and said, “Hi, I'm sorry for bothering you, but could you please come with me for a minute, Reina?” She seemed cheerful per the usual, but there was something about the way she was holding herself that denoted the very opposite. Reina followed Moriko to the girls' restroom, with Kosuke standing in the hallway and watching the two leave with mild concern.

In the girls' restroom, Moriko asked Reina, “What do you find attractive about Daichi?”

This was a bit unexpected, but Reina would answer nonetheless. “What makes you think that I'm interested in him?”

Moriko sighed, then said, “Reina, it's as clear as day. You and Daichi seem close, so I was wondering why you liked him.”

So Reina was that obvious? Then again, she wasn't one to put forth much effort in disguising her intentions. She said, “It is hard to not like a boy who comes from another prefecture.” A weak stance, but one nonetheless.

“Because he's different, right? It's okay Reina, you don't have to hide anything from me. But weren't you dating a boy last night?” Moriko inquired.

“Just as you were.” Came Reina's response.

“But do you really need Daichi if you already have a boyfriend?” Moriko asked, with no malice whatsoever.

“Nothing has been determined yet. I am merely seeing what's available.” Reina responded.

“Well, if that is true, would it be too much to ask for you to avoid Daichi? I like him a lot, and if you already have someone who you are looking into courting, then I don't see much of a downside to letting one boy go.” Moriko was trying to keep a amicable tone, but she seemed to be shifting her weight frequently from one leg to the other. She seemed anxious, as anyone reasonably would be in such a situation. She must have hated confrontation.

So Moriko was going to be a problem after all. She would have to be removed from the equation. Reina's future depended on it. Reina knew it was best to sound neutral, so she gave a vague, “I'll think about it.”

“Alright, but could you please tell me by the end of the day before we head home? Daichi and I were going to go on another date after school, and I don't know how long it will take.” Moriko requested.

“Of course.” Came Reina's answer.

“Thank you, Reina.” Moriko said, before leaving the restroom. Reina followed, and to her pleasant surprise Kosuke was nowhere to be found. This meant that she could investigate the surroundings of the school for elimination ideas. So, Reina went to switch back to her outdoor shoes so she could scope out the outside of the building. Masaru just arrived to school and was changing his shoes out when Reina came to change hers. Masaru's shoe locker was directly below her own, so Reina had to stand aside for a bit so Masaru could grab his shoes and go on into the school. However, the boy had other plans.

Masaru glanced at Reina as he was reaching for his shoes, and he stood at full height and asked with a smirk, “Like what you see?” He then tried to strike a pose just because he could.

“I am waiting to grab my shoes.” Reina responded, unfazed by the flirting.

“What for?” Masaru asked, as if it were any of his business.

“I am going for a walk.” Reina replied, before an idea hatched in her head. Masaru could provide a decent alibi for why she headed back outside to look around. “Care to join me?” She asked.

“Depends, what's in it for me?” Masaru teased, but he was almost coming across as rude.

“Could be a kiss, or perhaps a hug. Anything could happen.” Reina replied.

Masaru seemed to like the sound of that, as he looked smug and he closed his shoe locker door back. He said, “Meet me outside.” He still had his outdoor shoes on, and he went to wait for Reina outside the building. Reina changed her shoes back, and joined Masaru outside. The two joined hands, mostly due to Masaru's doing, and they walked around the outside of the school. Masaru would try to sneak a lewd squeeze off Reina every now and then, and she responded by breaking away from him and putting some space between herself and the boy. Masaru would eventually grab Reina's hand once more, and the cycle repeated.

What caught Reina's attention was the incinerator, and the lack of a camera anywhere around that area. The camera that usually sat there was absent that day, but a new one was on the ground underneath the wall mount. Reina took Masaru in behind the incinerator, and hugged him. Around here, hugging one's lover was viewed as obscene, and a kiss in public was even more frowned upon. Masaru chuckled and he returned the hug, before he asked, “How old are you, by the way?”

“Eighteen.” Came Reina's answer. “And you?”

“Eighteen as well.” Masaru chuckled, before giving Reina's backside a squeeze.

Reina had no reaction to the squeeze, as she personally cared nothing for it, but she would comment, “It is fascinating that you just now asked my age.”

“Well, we're both Third Years and are in the same class, so I figured that we were close enough in age that it wouldn't be a big deal.” Masaru responded, before moving to press Reina up against the back of the incinerator.

He went for a kiss, but Reina moved her head aside and asked, “What did I tell you about kissing?”

“Yeah, yeah, wait until the third date. But since we're alone, it was just too good of a opportunity to pass up, you know?” Masaru dismissed. Reina freed herself from him, and she started for the building. She had a plot in mind, and the missing cameras were lucky as anything. She changed her route to the camera that had yet to be installed, and she picked up the box and started taking it elsewhere. She needed to sabotage whomever was installing the cameras around the school in order to buy herself some time for this afternoon. She took the camera to the incinerator, and Masaru regarded Reina with confusion. He asked, “What are you doing with that?”

Reina opened the incinerator and chucked the box into the furnace. She then closed the doors and turned the incinerator on. She replied, “So we can have some more privacy later.” It was a manipulation tactic, since she knew that Masaru was the type to think not with his brain, but with other parts of his body. Reina took him by the hand, and ran back to the entrance with him, anticipating the camera inside the incinerator to explode.

Masaru chuckled and said, “I see.” He glanced back at the incinerator as they were running, asking, “Why are we running from the incinerator? It's not going to chase after us or anything.”

“It might explode. This is just to be safe rather than sorry.” Reina replied, before changing the subject with, “Meet me where that camera was right after class. We could probably get another session in.” She was referring to the event that happened behind the incinerator.

Masaru teased, “What happened to saving a kiss for the third date?”

“I never said it would be a kiss.” Reina replied.

Masaru pulled away from Reina, both of them paused, and he said, “Yeah, I need something more than a hug and a squeeze, if you catch my drift.” He seemed displeased.

“Very well then, so you may receive a kiss later.” Reina said, trying to lure him in.

“Just a kiss? Well, at least I don't have to wait until the third date!” Masaru said, grinning to himself. Reina returned to her shoe locker to change her shoes out, then she made her way to class.

Upon arrival to her desk, Kosuke looked up from his phone and asked, “What took you so long? Did Moriko really keep you locked in conversation for that long?” He was visibly concerned.

“Something like that.” Reina replied, before setting her bag on the top of her desk and searching for what she was going to need for class that morning. She caught sight of Akira going past, and she said, “Akira, we are going to have to postpone our meeting until after the school closes.”

Akira looked at Reina with innocent confusion. He really did have some of that childish nature despite his age. “Really? What came up?”

“Nothing in particular. Where do you want to meet up at?” Reina asked Akira.

“Want to give the Rangu Mart another try? This time I'll try to come on time, I swear!” Akira suggested.

“Whatever it takes. See you then.” Reina said, before setting her supplies on her desk and taking the schoolbag to the back of the classroom to stuff in the shelves with the rest.

When she returned, Kosuke said, “Let's date after school tomorrow. We can head over to AMANO. They should have their seaweed sets back in stock.” Reina glanced at Akira, who had snuck some earbuds into the school, and was listening to some music on his phone. He had taken out his homework and was finishing it up before class. He was unlikely to overhear Reina.

“That's a little pricey. Do you have the money for that?” Reina asked, keeping her voice low.

“Of course. My dad gives me an allowance every month, and he makes good money.” Kosuke replied, a smile finally on his face. He was also keeping his volume down since the classroom was gradually beginning to fill up.

“Very well, I keep forgetting that you get allowances. When do you plan to meet up?” Reina responded, figuring that she could amuse the boy. Besides, who could turn AMANO down? It was popular for a good reason, and it wasn't because of the tourists. Besides, if she accepted Kosuke's date, maybe he wouldn't be in her way as much.

Kosuke seemed thrilled at the acceptance of the date. He said, “I'll come get you around eighteen-hundred hours. Don't be afraid to wear a nice dress or something, because I also plan to dress up.” He got back on his phone again, seeming to be surfing the web. Reina got the book she had been reading for Daichi's sake out and picked up where she had left off.

Submitted: October 17, 2020

© Copyright 2022 A. Rhetters. All rights reserved.


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