Chapter 2: Love Letter
Since he said he would, he really did go to the bathroom.
Asaba holed up in the bathroom stall, and even though nobody could see him in there, he properly lowered his pants and underwear and sat down on the toilet seat. It looked as though Asaba wanted to minimize the lie he had told as much as possible.
And so, with his butt exposed, he sat there and worried. At about a ratio of 9:1, Asaba mostly felt ashamed, but also felt annoyed at Iriya.
However, not too long after he began to worry, the bell signifying the start of third period rang. Asaba sighed deeply, pulled up his pants that didn’t need to be lowered, flushed the toilet that didn’t need to be flushed, washed his hands that didn’t need to washed, and staggered out of the bathroom.
“You’re a huge coward.” Akiho ambushed Asaba as he came out.
“W-What are you talking about?” Asaba bluffed. Thinking that it was none of her business, he felt like asking her, “Well, what would you have done then?” But Akiho was making a rather menacing face, so he decided not to say anything unnecessary. Instead, he said, “The ball rang. We should get back to class.”
Akiho paid absolutely no attention to what Asaba said. “Do you know her?”
“No, it’s not like that.” Beyond that, his voice choked up so badly that he felt like he couldn’t breathe.
“Well, what was that then?”
In any case, he had to escape Akiho’s interrogation. “I’m telling you, I really don’t know her. I spent my entire summer vacation up in the mountains with the President, and didn’t Kawaguchi say that she just recently came back from a foreign country?”
Akiho glared directly at Asaba suspiciously, and suddenly declared, “It was at the pool, wasn’t it?”
Asaba felt as if his heart would leap out of his mouth.
“You did ask me something about school swimsuits before first period, Asaba. Besides, unlike the President, you did go home from time to time during the mountain trip. That means that you met her at the city pool or something. That’s why her swimsuit didn’t have a nametag on it yet. Ohhhh. I see how it is. Hmmm?”
“Well, I guess it’s fine if Akiho believes that,” Asaba thought.
Akiho’s grim expression eased up a little, probably because her suspicions had been somewhat alleviated for the time being. “Is she bad with Japanese? Have you talked to her?”
She was saying something similar to what Nishikubo had said. Given Iriya’s introverted nature, and the explanation of her being a returnee student, it would seem that everyone was thinking the same thing.
Asaba’s head was swimming.
His legs buckled.
“What are you talking about? Answer properly. You at least talked to her, didn’t you? When yo— Hey, Asaba, are you feeling okay? Your face is as pale as a ghost.”
It came on suddenly.
Asaba was struck by an intense bout of dizziness, and felt like the world had flipped upside down. In an instant, he was no longer able to remain standing. He sank into a crouch. He felt extremely ill. The feeling was like a combination of carsickness and the stomach flu. It took everything he had to withstand the onslaught of nausea.
“Are you alright!? Hey Asaba, what’s wrong!?”
Akiho was causing a huge commotion. Right outside of his severely narrowed field of vision, he could tell that students walking through the hallway had stopped in surprise. ‘Don’t yell so loud, you’re so embarrassing,’ Asaba briefly thought in his mind; but he didn’t even have the luxury of putting that into words. His face was covered in a cold sweat.
He took several deep breaths.
Then, about as suddenly as it had started, the nausea quickly faded away. He somehow managed to stand up. Wiping the sweat from his brow, he was surprised by how cold his forehead was. The bout of dizziness did leave quite a lasting effect, but still, he felt much better.
“I’m fine now,” Asaba said.
However, from where Akiho was standing, Asaba’s face had gone beyond just being pale, and was now deathly white. Akiho grabbed Asaba’s hand. “No you’re not! Let’s go to the nurse’s office! I’ll come with you!”
“She’s right. I should probably head to the nurse’s office,” Asaba thought. “But still, it’s not so bad that I need to have her accompany me.”
“I can go by myself. Class is starting, go back to the classroom.”
Akiho paid absolutely no attention to what Asaba said. Dragging Asaba by the hand, she began to walk briskly.