幸山 -sakiyama- Chapter 2: Routine Changes

Author’s Note: Pat your own back, Tobby, ’cause you’ve made an update for this series! And Gogopria friend of mine, made character designs and covers for this story and its chapters too! I guess she’s gonna be this story’s illustrator, then? Well, as long as she’s willing, I’m okay with her drawing for this story, yo!

Also, 10k+ words in a single chapter…wait, hold on, length shouldn’t be the most important thing in writing stories, ’cause nobody will like length without substance, yo! And again, dear readers, I highly encourage and appreciate honest constructive feedback!

Now, here’s the next chapter of sakiyama! Also, mature guidance is advised while reading this, especially if you’re under the age of 17, yo.

For a few seconds, in that moment of silence between two smiling boys, Johnny Rockpile felt like he was set on a straight, smooth road to eternal happiness.

Indeed, Johnny honestly felt like he was living the dream. Really pretty girl, probably heartrending plot–

“Yay, I have a new friend! Yay!”

and a screechy tagalong kid’s voice.

“Okay, damn you, Johnny,” the tan blonde cursed within his mind. “You’re still deluding yourself, huh?”

While the middle school boy’s high kid voice scratched Johnny’s eardrums, the high school boy wallowed in self-loathing yet again. Stuck in a battle between his delusions and reality, he groaned, noticing the former being in the lead again.

Fortunately, a certain ghost girl’s smile calmed him down.

“At least there’s a real pretty girl, Johnny…” Johnny silently told himself. “Be a good guy for the pretty girl, you idiot…”

“Alright, Kou!” Saki’s (“Really angelic!”) voice rang in Johnny’s ears. “We’re gonna have fun with Johnny, but we should go to class first, and we should be there on time!”

And then she looked at him.

Undeserving Johnny Rockpile, in the presence of an angel.

“I think God is real,” the undeserving human boy declared with widened eyes and a monotonous voice.

The angel giggled at that.

“Of course He is!” she replied.

“Yeah! God is real!” added the angel’s brother (“Who’s really anno–Wait, no, bad thoughts! Good thoughts, Johnny! For the angel! Kou is a sweet kid! And I have to find proof for that! For the angel!”)

Johnny fixed his face, moving its muscles to form his best friendly smile.

But there’s this twitching in his eyes, though…

“See you later, Johnny!” he heard the angel say. “And please don’t forget your promise.”

And that’s when Johnny became more serious.

Her words were like a bucketful of cold water on his body.

Cold water.

Cold body.

Dead person.

Dead bonds.

[It’s all your fault!]

[Why should we hang out with a criminal?]

Johnny grit his teeth.

“Should I really…ugh, why me?”

Furious, Johnny sent a kick to the air. He didn’t feel the need to care about whether the ghost girl and her middle schooler brother saw him do that or not, because at that moment, the tan blonde strongly felt the need to run away, the need to go to the normal life…the need to forget.

If someone were to get in his way, he would hit them…although a part of him wished that he wouldn’t need to hurt other people.

As he ran to the school, he quickly recalled what day it was and what he was supposed to do on that day.

The class list.

After another blink, he saw the stairs right in front of him, causing him to abruptly stop and hold the support handle beside the staircase. Quickly turning his body to the direction leading to his current target, he pushed himself towards it.

“Ugh!”

“Agh!”

And then he bumped into someone, although he managed to right his body and prevent himself from falling by tensing himself as he tried to freeze in place.

“Who do you think you–Oh. What a surprise.”

Another annoying voice drilled into Johnny’s ears.

So, as usual, he shot a glare at the girl in front of him.

Yet again, she wore that red armband on her right arm. And yet again, a condescending smirk was on her deceptively doll-like features.

Indeed, this girl was one doll that Johnny wouldn’t mind breaking…if only his memories didn’t hinder him…

“Delinquent Johnny Rockpile,” she continued, still smirking as she looked him up, down, and while circling around. “Not skipping in the morning. Now in the school twenty minutes before homeroom. Quite a conundrum. Maybe it’s the end of the world now.”

Johnny wanted to pour his boiling kettle of emotions on her, one way or another, but he didn’t want to do that while so many class list checkers had their eyes on them.

The last thing he wanted was a repeat of that middle school day.

Still, he thought that some lighter one-upping wouldn’t be so bad. A spark of inspiration lit in his mind, lighting up a flame with the fuel that he had gathered during the morning.

“As you once said, Ace Detective,” Johnny said, speaking with his infamous condescending voice and smirk, “‘There are reasons for everything, and they’re not impossible to understand.’ And you know, the reason…hm, it’s you. You and your doll-like features.”

Johnny heard the typical gasps that came out from the crowd whenever he dueled like that with his high school’s Student Council President, and they kept the fire going.

“Hm?” Ace Detective wondered, wearing a look that seemed to be…actual surprise?

“Have you actually reformed during the break?” she added.

Still, Johnny thought that she showed her usual mock surprise, so he decided to go through with the usual burning.

“Heh. With you as Student Council President, the school will still be a dump. And as for your doll-like features, I’m not saying that you’re pretty. I’m saying that you’ll be toyed with and then thrown away quickly.”

And then there was laughter from the crowd.

There was a smile on the Ace Detective’s face, but one of her blue eyes were twitching, while her long reddish hair trembled with her body. Her fists were also clenching, but despite the fear of being immediately suplexed or something, Johnny felt sure about her not going wrestler on him while near a crowd.

She had a big ego, and Johnny could also see that she worried a lot about her reputation.

Feeling good about himself, he passed through a parting crowd and looked for his name in the class lists.

“Hm…Class 3-3, and I am…with those three idiots…and…Ace Detective too. Hm. Should I feel happy? Or should I feel pleased?”

For a few seconds, Johnny pondered that. But he shrugged it off.

“Eh, whatever.”

He then looked around, looking for those three “friends” of his.

“They’re not here, so…” he continued, still talking to himself, “…to the classroom, then!”

Ignoring the glare that seemed to be trying to stab him again and again, Johnny ran to his classroom.

He quickly reached the place, and then he saw them through the open doorway.

His three “friends” looked strange, though.

Dark-skinned Lex was bald. Beside him was Bent, wearing shorter brown hair. Both of them were wearing their uniforms properly. And sitting on a distant seat while looking out the window was a sulking Zach, whose hair remained in the messy “Blazing Orange” style that was supposed to be a part of his circle’s “Blazing” hairstyles. His dark blue uniform was still worn without the red tie and with an open blazer.

Johnny didn’t know a lot about what happened during the break in between second year and third year, ’cause he was mostly busy with his family and the things he had to do for them. And he also blamed that family for his wasted time…and yes, he also counted the time he spent while procrastinating through the world of 2-D.

Indeed, that was another reason for Johnny’s frequent self-loathing.

But hey, there’s strangeness happening in front of him already, so he decided to grab the opportunity and make his boredom commit suicide.

“I was out with my annoying family and really pretty girls during the break,” the tan blonde spoke as he entered the classroom, “And it seems like strange things happened while I was out.”

Johnny only got silent looks from Lex and Bent, while Zach just grumbled incoherently.

Again, the standing one among the four wasn’t sure about whether he should feel happy or angry at the strangeness happening around him.

Taking a seat in between his divided “friends,” Johnny put his satchel beside a leg of his chair, and then he put his rubber-shoed right foot on his table.

He then heard a sigh to his left.

And there was Lex, shooting an annoyed look.

Johnny raised an eyebrow at that, because Lex usually didn’t mind Johnny’s little delinquent habits.

“‘sup with you today, Lex?” Johnny decided to ask while keeping his foot on the table.

His darker-skinned friend alternated his eyes between Johnny’s face and Johnny’s elevated foot. Then, he sighed, looked away, and rubbed his forehead.

With communications apparently blocked between them, Johnny decided to shift his attention to Bent, who was staring hard at the whiteboard.

“Hey, Bent!”

“Gah!”

“Ugh, still wimpy,” Johnny mentally groaned. “Bent!” he continued.

“…”

While the brown-haired “friend” ignored Johnny, Bent was visibly shaking while frowning.

“Bent!” the blonde among the four decided to try for the third time.

“Tch…” was the only word that Johnny got from Bent.

With his two “friends” at his left seemingly pissed at him, Johnny looked to his right.

“Zach!” he called. “‘sup with you three? I thought we were gonna be united in 2.5-D or something.”

“Killjoys…2-D being less important…fucking traitors…”

And those were the only coherent words that Johnny got from the response of his “friend’ with messy and orange-dyed hair.

“Okay…seems like now’s not a good time for talking with you three, huh…?”

Johnny felt disappointed at not knowing the issue immediately, but he decided to stop pressing them for info, because he didn’t want unnecessary trouble.

So, with boredom reviving itself yet again, the tan blonde put his raised foot down to the floor, placed his face on the top of his wooden table, and tried to sleep in his usual “Delinquent’s Corpse” position.

For an uncounted number of minutes, Johnny tried to dive into Dreamland while letting his arms hang loose…adjusting his body parts here and there for more comfort…

“Ow!”

And then he got a very painful whack to the back of his head.

While wondering about whether the hit actually formed a large bump on his head, he saw the back of a familiar Ace Detective stomping back to her seat in the front row.

“Miss Firelight, I don’t think you needed to hit him that hard…” said the short homeroom teacher standing on the podium.

“Ma’am, such treatment is required for such a delinquent,” the Ace Detective replied, her voice as hard as steel.

The homeroom teacher only sighed at that before greeting her class again.

Johnny didn’t really see the point in paying attention to the boring people around him, so he put his chin on the table and stared into the distance in front of him, trying to filter out unnecessary sounds.

“Alexander Forest,” Lex introduced when his turn came. “For those who are wondering about the career–no, vocation…that I want to take…I want to be a teacher, like you, Ma’am Mary.”

Johnny raised his head to look at the dark-skinned boy to his left. He also noticed the redheaded Ace Detective raising and turning her head to Lex as well.

“What the fuck…?” Johnny whispered, while he noticed the Ace Detective being silent during her expression of surprise.

“Yes, I will admit that I have not been a good student during the past years,” Lex continued, still looking serious, “But thanks to so many good people that God sent to me, I have found a better path.” And then he looked to his right–at Johnny and Zach, specifically. “Perhaps certain people would hate me, but rest assured, I do not hate you. I only hate your sins. I am not averse to hanging out with you, but please remember that there are activities that I will not engage in.”

With that, Lex decided to sit down and take a deep breath.

Then, silence dominated the classroom.

There were looks of surprise from many classmates, with the Ace Detective’s being the most prominent in Johnny’s vision. Bent was still shaking, but his eyes were closed now, while Zach’s frown went deeper.

The teacher then said something…praise, probably, judging from a glimpse at her expression, but Johnny was more occupied with processing the shocking news.

Yet again, Johnny wasn’t sure about whether he should feel happy or angry. Teachers were a part of his nightmares, but at the same time, a part of himself felt relieved at the end of perverted Lex.

And then the delinquent blonde felt loathing for himself and others again. It was a really complicated mixture of feelings, indeed.

Did Lex turn from one idiot to another? Or was he going to be like that precious old man who passed away last year?

For the sake of not causing trouble, Johnny put his forehead on the top of his table, eyes open and aimed at the tiled floor.

He grit his teeth, angry at himself, angry at everything around him.

He didn’t want to hear more from his surroundings.

He didn’t want anyone touching him.

He hated his difficult and complicated life.

And if another person were to look down on him then and there, he would beat them up.

“I wish I had superpowers or something…” Johnny desperately thought.

And so, yet again, he imagined himself wielding various superpowers.

Specifically, the eye powers of a certain group of children.

Those powers looked really awesome, but he also remembered their disadvantages, leading him to fruitlessly ignoring those problems.

Again, Johnny fought and fought against himself.

The chatter of whoever was talking in the classroom buzzed in his ears, and time seemed to be going slowly while Johnny went through internal suffering.

He did manage to get some hits against his annoying self when he remembered that angel’s aura, but then he remembered his promise to her and all the heavy things that were associated with it.

And then the heavy memories of his middle school days attacked him again.

“Should I…should I still–“

“Hey, Johnny.”

Still angry at himself, he decided to throw some of his rage at whoever decided to interrupt him and his thinking.

“The fuck do you want?”

The blonde then found himself facing Lex.

“Uhm…sorry…”

And then there was Bent, being as timid as usual while standing beside Lex.

“Well, first…” Lex continued, wearing that familiar but currently odd demeanor. “Classes are over already…First day’s just until noontime, you know?”

Johnny sighed, making his exhalation scrape the surface of his throat.

“I don’t know if you can see it,” the exasperated delinquent said with raised arms, “But right now, I’m having teenage angst here, and if you don’t have enough patience to deal with me randomly going ‘Fuck you’ at whoever or whatever’s nearby, then go fuck off and don’t waste your time with unnecessary trouble.”

A momentary glance at the dark-skinned “friend” seemed to have shown a twitching eye. A longer glance showed that “friend” sighing and then taking a deep breath.

“Johnny…” Lex called, “Do you wanna know about why we’re looking and acting strange lately?”

Johnny waved a hand.

“More than that sulking guy over there,” the blonde answered.

“Hey, Johnny! Are you leaving a friend behind too!?”

Tilting his head back, Johnny gave Zach a tired look.

“Since when did I consider you three, let alone you, a friend? Like, a freaking actual friend that I can trust?”

“Oh, fuck you, Johnny!” Zach, now reddening with rage, shouted back and stomped forward, not caring about the few pairs of eyes that were focusing on the four of them. “We all promised, you know? United in living the 2-D life! United in being 2.5-D! United in looking for pretty 3-D girls who are very much like the 2-D girls we like! We promised, man! We promised! What the hell, man?”

“I’ve seen how pornography and all our sick fantasies hurt, Zach,” Lex declared, without that really relaxed tone that Johnny was familiar with. “I’d rather get a girlfriend after I finish going through university, ’cause I wanna be a proper husband and father.”

Zach then grumbled a bunch of curses while vigorously ruffling his already messy hair.

“My former friend…infected by idiots!” he hissed to the ceiling. “And of course, Bent the wimp went along. And then there’s Johnny, who is still unaware of the bond that we share.”

“Hey, stop being delusional, you idiot,” Johnny retorted.

“And I will willingly admit that I am an idiot as well,” Lex continued. “We’re all idiots, but unlike most people, I don’t like treating people like they can’t be saved.”

“Yeah…” Bent, wimpy as usual, agreed.

“I ain’t taking any of your ass-shoved ‘lessons’, you fucking traitors!” Zach spouted, emphasizing “lessons.” “But Johnnyboy, you still have hope…” the boy with Blazing Orange hair said, turning his begging eyes to Johnny’s annoyed eyes. “Won’t you hang out with me later? At the mall? I wanna buy and play an erogame that I’ve been really really looking forward to…and by the way, it has lots of pretty girls…including someone who’s like your favorite girl…”

Facing a grinning “friend,” his waggling eyebrows, and his “tempting” offer, Johnny had a sure answer for Zach.

“I was thinking of saying no…” Johnny replied, intentionally trailing off, “…but from the moment you said ‘including someone who’s like your favorite girl,’ I became sure about saying no. So yeah. No.”

And Johnny enjoyed watching Zach freeze up in shock.

“‘Sides, I have plans for today,” Johnny added, making it vague for the sake of riling Zach up. Among his three “friends,” Zach was Johnny’s favorite target for trolling.

To Johnny’s pleasure, he found Zach brightening.

“‘Plans’? Is it with a pretty girl? Or with pretty girls?”

Johnny smiled silently for a few seconds.

“Big Bro Johnny!”

And then, reinforcements arrived.

“…what?” Zach immediately asked.

“What?”/”Huh?” Lex and Bent followed, speaking at the same time.

Standing on the doorway to the Class 3-3 room was Kou (and Saki, of course, but only a few people could see her) and a girl who was probably Kou’s classmate.

“Oh, hey, Kou!” Johnny answered, wearing an unexpectedly warm smile. “And Saki,” he added mentally, his smile growing while he felt her presence more and more. “How did class go?”

Kou frowned upon hearing that question.

“Everybody laughed at me because they thought I was crazy…but Mira and the teacher didn’t!”

Kou was smiling brightly when he made way for a twin-pigtailed girl who was a few inches taller than him. She was also smiling, and she wore round-framed glasses over her green eyes.

“Hello! I’m Mira!” greeted Kou’s classmate.

“Nice to meet you, Mira!” Johnny greeted back, with a warm tone that drew out whats and huhs from his nearby classmates. “Is your blue hair natural?”

“Nope! My older sister and I dyed our hair blue!” she replied, giving a touch to one of her shoulder-length pigtails. “My natural hair color is black! What about you, Big Bro Johnny?”

“I had it dyed too! My natural hair color is black too!”

“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!?”

And then silence, for Zach could not take the weirdness anymore.

“Oh hey, a cute loli,” Zach continued, tone taking a very sharp turn.

Not a surprising behavior to Johnny and his “friends,” but still, that declaration hit a nerve in Johnny very very hard.

Zach’s declaration, along with the behavior associated with that, was a reason behind Johnny’s hatred for Zach.

“Hey,” the glaring blonde called. “Pervert.”

“Okay, what’s with the glare now, Johnny?” the orange-haired lolicon asked with an awkward smile. “I remember you not being against my liking for lolis back then…and I’m not doing anything bad!”

“Note to self: Be a better big brother,” thought Johnny to himself. “For Kou and Mira, at least. They’re a part of society’s shining hope…unlike me…”

“It’s small, but it’s still bad, dumbass,” Johnny scolded with a low voice. “Put your dirty hands on Mira–or even any other girl…and I will kick your balls until you stop being a perv.”

Zach started shaking with fear, and then he gulped. He tried to open his mouth in an attempt to speak, but no words came out.

The glaring blonde then moved to point his glare at Lex and Bent.
Lex was just staring silently, eyes and mouth wide open in shock.

As for Bent, he was pale, and he seemed to be trying to control his breathing.

To Johnny, his “friends'” reactions to his reprimand for Zach were what he needed to see, so he decided to turn around, take a deep breath, and smile for the two middle schoolers.

“Thanks, Johnny.”

Oh, and the angel too.

“Let’s go, Kou, Mira,” Johnny called. He walked past the middle schoolers and the ghost, leading the way. “I know a nice place where we can hang out today!” he added as he looked at them over his shoulder. “It has some really sweet cakes!”

“Ooh, cake!” Kou exclaimed, and then he gripped the shoulder straps of his bag while marching with heightened energy.

“Hey, I want cake too!” Mira followed, right behind Kou and running past Johnny.

“Watch where you’re going, you two!” Johnny shouted, and the two kids stopped advancing, although they still excitedly marched in place. “Just follow me, and we’ll get there quick!”

“”Yay!””

And they went down the stairs, feeling excitement and happiness.

“Good day, Ma’am Mary.”

“Oh! Oh…good day to you too, Mister Rockpile!”

Johnny even gave a comfortable greeting to his homeroom teacher!

And so, they walked. Out of the school building, and out of the school premises.

On a sidewalk of a road that they were going through, Johnny suddenly felt the relaxing aura of the angel.

He turned to his right, and he saw her smiling as she looked ahead, little ponytail lightly swinging behind her. Then, she turned to him with a smile.

“I really wanna protect that smile,” Johnny immediately thought.

“I’m aware of your attraction to me, you know,” she added without moving her smiling lips.

Johnny blushed upon hearing her response, and then he looked away, pouting.

“Don’t worry, I don’t hate you,” she replied with her relaxing tone, but Johnny still felt a lot of embarrassment. “…but I’m sorry for not being able to be your girlfriend.”

That made Johnny’s heart race.

“Wait…you mean…”

“Hm…I guess it’s just me regretting not getting a boyfriend before I died,” Saki interrupted, sighing. “Although I’m kinda stupid…I easily get attracted to shy boys and bad boys.”

“You being stupid…hm, in terms of your ideal type of guy, I guess I can believe your claim.”

“Yeah…I’m really stupid…”

The air around Johnny suddenly felt heavy.

“Is…is there something you wanna talk about?” Johnny asked, worrying about his precious angel.

Saki’s transparent and mostly blue form flickered for a moment, showing some things that made Johnny blink in surprise.

Bruises.

Blood.

Bruises on her face.

Blood leaking from her head.

“Please don’t call me an angel, Johnny,” Saki requested, causing more twisting feelings in the tan blonde’s stomach. “I’m…I’m not as perfect as you think…”

Johnny looked at her for a few more seconds, stopped walking, and then looked at the ground.

Memories of several failures flashed in his mind.

He didn’t want to remember them again.

He didn’t want to remember his weaknesses.

He wanted to tear himself and the world apart, thinking that there will be no more problems if he did that.

“Me too, Saki,” he answered with gritting teeth. “Me too…so why me? Why choose me for this job?”

Of all the people Saki could pick, she chose him, a delinquent. There were better people out there, so why him?

“No human is perfect, Johnny,” she told him, with a tone that seemed to be trying to cause leaks in his tear ducts. “But I know that all of us can do good. One person just can’t do everything.”

Johnny felt the need to wipe his eyes with his sleeve at that point.

“And…I was desperate,” Saki added. “I’m…I’m sorry for bothering you.”

“Big Bro Johnny? Big Sis Saki? Why did you stop?”

For the younger ones following behind him, he felt the need to look strong.

He didn’t want them to be like him.

“I’ll still take them to the cake shop, Saki.” Johnny told Saki before taking a deep breath. “They don’t deserve a ruined day.”

“We should talk later, then,” Saki said. “First, we should have fun with these kids behind us. I’ll help you. I know that we can do it.”

“Yeah…we can do it.”

“Big Bro?”

“Hey, Big Sis!”

“Sorry,” Johnny reassured, turning to face the two younger ones with a smile, a smile that was also powered up by Saki. “I had problems, and I was talking about them with your Big Sis, Kou.”

“Did she solve them?” Kou asked.

“Not fully…” answered Saki, who turned around as well, “But he’s getting better!”

“Alright!” Kou shouted with a jump. “I told you, my Big Sis Saki is awesome!”

“She’s an awesome ghost, indeed!” Mira shouted, pigtails swinging along.

“She’s not a ghost, Mira! She’s just blue! Blue, but still alive and awesome! Like a superhero!”

“Ah! I mean…she’s alive! Yeah, she’s alive! And blue! Blue, alive, and awesome!”

Were Johnny more like his “friends,” he would’ve cracked a joke about how much it looked like the world of 2-D.

But at that time, Johnny didn’t want to think about those irritating matters that he had to deal with everyday. He couldn’t draw enough energy for being cynical too.

Then and there, he was feeling genuine understanding, genuine hope, and genuine love…even though he still felt painful things.

Trying to hold his tears back, he smiled and turned around.

“Let’s go, Kou, Mira, Saki! To Aurora’s!”

Feeling lighter, Johnny started running, facing forward, with two middle schoolers right behind a ghost girl.

And while he ran, something that Johnny recently heard knocked on his mind, making him slow down for a few moments.

“Wait…that girl…Mira…She can see Saki too?”

Kou gained a new friend!

“Yay, I made a new friend! Yay!”

Indeed, it’s a day for celebration! Maybe he should look for cake…does Johnny know where to find some tasty cake? His Mom, his Dad, and his Big Sis often bought cake for celebration days, but will Big Sis Saki consider it a celebration day?

Hmmm…perhaps he should ask his Big Sis…

“Alright, Kou!” Big Sis suddenly said. “We’re gonna have fun with Johnny, but we should go to class first, and we should be there on time!”

“Ooh, ooh, will there be cake?” Kou asked, jumping up and down in front of his Big Sis…who was staring at Big Bro Johnny?

Why are they staring at each other? Are they…are they in love?

“I think God is real,” Big Bro Johnny said. He didn’t sound sad, but he didn’t sound happy. He was…emotionless? Wait, but he looked surprised!

Kou’s Big Sis giggled. Hm, Johnny did look funny with his face and his voice…

“Of course He is!” Big Sis also said. She was talking about God, right?

“Yeah! God is real!”

Well, Kou would definitely agree! Otherwise, there wouldn’t be good people like his really awesome Big Sis and his new friend!

And then, Kou saw Johnny smiling again! But why was his eye twitching? Hmm…he seems to have seen that before somewhere…

Wait…no…

Was Johnny wearing a fake smile?

Was Johnny a villain all along?

‘Cause if he is, then Kou will unleash an army of Shadow Clones and then do a Kou Sorayama barrage, because he won’t look heroic without an awesome-looking move!

“Let’s go, Kou,” the middle schooler suddenly heard from his whispering Big Sis.

Of course, for the sake of his Big Sister’s happiness, he would follow her immediately.

“See you later, Johnny!” she also said while they walked past the blonde maybe-villain.

“I should watch him more closely…like a ninja…after class…” Kou thought while he spared a momentary narrowing of his eyes at the maybe-villain. “I’ll be watching you!” he also added with a sudden and momentary look over his shoulder…

…but that momentary look became a stare, because he saw his Big Sis standing behind Johnny. No, it wasn’t the fact that she was standing behind Johnny that made Kou stare. It was…

It was…

“Big Sis is standing there. Big Sis looks scared and sad. Big Sis has b******. Big Sis is b*******. Big Sis is ****.”

Everything suddenly went black…

“Kou? Kou?”

…but it turned out that his eyes were just closed while he stood…and for some reason, Kou felt his head aching…though it began going away quickly when he heard and saw his Big Sis!

“I’m okay, Big Sis!” Kou shouted with a thumbs-up at his blue Big Sis. “Let’s go to the classroom!”

And then he looked up to the sky.

“Where is my classroom, though?”

Big Sis laughed at him a little, making Kou laugh a little too. Indeed, his Big Sis was pretty when she laughed!

Oh, but he had to find his classroom!

“Hey, Big Sis, do you know where I can find my classroom?”

“Well, I was going to tell you that,” Big Sis warmly told him with her pretty smile. “Follow me, okay?”

“Okay! Let’s go, Big Sis!”

And so, Kou and his Big Sis went to some tall buildings. He saw some parents leaving kids as short as him when they were at the big door of one building. Seeing them reminded Kou about the fact that he was gonna get new classmates.

And speaking of classmates…he missed his old classmates…but his uncle said that he didn’t have enough money for Kou and Saki’s old school. Their uncle also told them that they were lucky because their parents had left enough money for the siblings’ previous year at their old school.

If only Kou and Saki’s parents didn’t die…

Kou shook his head, trying to forget that painful fact.

He wished that his new classmates were as nice as his old ones…

Many nice friends…Kou wanted that.

“Look for your name in the lists, Kou!”

Kou and his Big Sis arrived at the boards filled with papers. Written on the papers were class names and students’ names. Struggling to look by jumping and pushing through (with apologies, of course, because he was being rude), Kou went to look at the names.

And then he saw “Sorayama, Kou” under the list of Class 1-2. He took a look at the other names, but none of them were familiar to him.

He sighed and hung his head in disappointment.

But then, he felt a familiar warmth behind him, and he smiled.

“Don’t worry, Kou,” Big Sis told him. “Big Sis will help you, okay?”

Kou nodded, and he gave Big Sis Saki a wider smile.

“Thank you, Big Sis!” he told her.

Kept away from running while being guided by his older sister, Kou marched toward his classroom.

It was on the first floor of the Middle School Building, and beyond its door were a bunch of his new classmates.

Kou just stood there, staring.

So many people, with likes and dislikes that were unknown to him…and what if he made a mistake?

Failure. Being unable to make friends.

Kou wanted to go away, because he might fail.

“Kou…I’ll help you, okay? You can do it.”

But he moved forward and entered, because his older sister said so.

Maybe he can’t make friends, and he felt a lot of doubt when his Big Sis said “If I can do it, then you can do it!” Still, he wanted to see his Big Sis smile, because she had believed in him a lot, even though some dummies didn’t like him.

So, for Big Sis Saki, Kou would try.

Still, his nervousness didn’t go down a lot.

He sat on a corner seat at the back row, right beside a window.

The trees, the sky, the other school buildings, the roads…those things and the other things that he could see outside the window were soothing…unlike the noisy classroom that he was in.

After watching the scenery for a while, he started thinking about his favorite superheroes again. They transformed with belt buckles or wristwatch thingies or cellphones or whatever snazzy gadget they got from weird people or weird places. And hey, where did all the power in those things come from? How do their weapons and vehicles work? And do aliens really exist? What if aliens really existed?

Kou, after watching his favorite superhero shows several times, started thinking about the deeper things. “You don’t need to think about it” had become an answer that bugged Kou a lot. He felt empty when he didn’t know.

“But there are some things that you shouldn’t be knowing, you know.”

And then there was a tightening in his chest.

Why was he even thinking about such deep things? They were only going to hurt him. He should just leave the deep thinking to the older people. Like his Big Sis! Yeah, Big Sis Saki is awesome…hmm, she did want to be a superhero…with the power to make people happy! But hey, how does that work?

“Eh, I guess I shouldn’t think about it,” Kou told himself in his mind, “But I hope she has that power! I see a lot of sad people in the news everyday…”

“And you’ve seen your uncle crying because *** *** *** ***** *** ******, right?”

Kou suddenly felt tired.

“Argh, I’m thinking too much!” he shouted.

He noticed the looks some classmates gave him, and he immediately turned to look at the scenery beyond the window beside him, imitating the whistling and pretending that certain funny animals made.

The younger Sorayama then frowned and grumbled when he heard giggles and snickers from the side where his classmates were.

Really, where was his Big Sis when he needed her?

“Did you call for me, Kou?”

Finally, she arrived! And indeed, her smile heals a lot!

“They’re laughing at me, Big Sis…” he muttered with a pout while he looked down at his wooden table.

“Patience, Kou,” she told him, earning her a deeper pout. “They can be friendly, and you can be friendly. I won’t be here for you all the time, you know.”

“But they aren’t being friendly…and I don’t know if I can be friendly…and I don’t want you to leave me…”

“Come on, Kou…please?”

One really sad look from his older sister, and Kou decided to do what she wanted…although he grumbled a little.

“…it’s your fault if I fail…”

“Kou. What did you say?”

And then Kou remembered why he shouldn’t make his Big Sis angry.

She usually had a scary face and a scary voice when she was angry, and he didn’t want to describe them. So, he would follow her orders and spare himself from the nightmare that is an angry Big Sis Saki.

“Class, get to your seats now!”

At that moment, Kou heard the teacher who was calling from the podium. She had a gentle voice. Not as gentle as Big Sis Saki’s, though! Big Sis Saki’s voice is the best, you know!

The teacher on the podium was a tall woman with brown hair that was stuffed into a bun. She also had light brown eyes, and a smile that made her pretty too!

Hey, maybe school won’t be so bad!

“Okay, class,” the teacher said when the rest of Kou’s classmates had taken their seats, “Good morning!”

“Good morning, Ma’am,” Kou and students chorused.

“Hm? Did all of you eat breakfast today? You don’t seem so energetic…” she replied, pouting and raising an eyebrow.

“Good morning, Ma’am!” her students greeted with more volume.
At that, the teacher smiled.

“Good morning to you too!” she said. She took a marker that she brought with her, and then she turned around to write her name on the whiteboard.

“My name…is Windy Breeze.”

There were some giggles at that, and although Kou frowned at the rudeness, the teacher still continued.

“But you can call me ‘Ma’am Windy,’ ‘Miss Windy,’ or ‘Teacher Windy’!” she added, turning around to face them all with a smile while the cap of her marker clicked shut, covering its inky tip. “And I know that my name sounds funny. My parents wanted me to be funny, see! I don’t know if you’ll like the classroom if it’s windy, but a little breeze doesn’t sound so bad every now and then, right?”

“…”

Silence.

There was silence.

And then there was head-scratching. ‘Cause some students were having itchy scalps. Kou could see their raining dandruff.

Oh, and there was coughing too. ‘Cause one of the students was having a kinda itchy throat. Probably.

Really, Kou didn’t get the j–“Wait, did she make a pun? Or was she just talking about a windy classroom…? Big Sis?”

Big Sis Saki shrugged, not sure about whether there was a pun or not as well.

“Umm…Miss Windy…” one student spoke. “…what are we supposed to do now?”

For a moment, Miss Windy’s eyes and lips lowered, and then she sighed before showing another smile.

“Well, it’s the first day of school today,” she said as she clapped her hands, “Which means that we’ll be introducing ourselves to everyone here!”

Excited sounds came from a lot of Kou’s classmates. Some were shaking, though, like Kou.

“We’ll do it in the alphabetical order of your last names!” Miss Windy declared while taking out a clipboard.

“You can do it, Kou,” Big Sis Saki whispered to Kou from behind, making him wear a more serious look.

Kou then thought of introducing himself with an imitation of a certain flashy transformation pose of a certain favorite set of superheroes.

“I’m Jack–Ah!”

And then Kou saw a classmate of his knock his chair and table down while he actually tried to imitate that transformation pose.

Their other classmates laughed at Jack. Even Miss Windy looked like she was holding back a laugh.

Kou immediately crossed “flashy Ranger transformation pose” out of his “Definitely Awesome Friend-Gathering Moves” list. He had to look cooler than that! Superheroes are supposed to look cool, not funny!

“…in…li…ks…”

“Umm…can you speak louder?”

“My name is Trina…I like books…”

Okay, maybe “silent bookworm” and anything like that should be crossed out too. It didn’t look as good as it was in Kou’s mind.

Now, what’s a good way to introduce himself?

“Big Sis, please help me…” he whispered while he placed his forehead on the top of his table. Really, he should be getting a reply now.

One second passed…

And another second…

And…wait, how many seconds passed already? Argh, where is Big Sis Saki’s response?

“Big Sis!” Kou tried to whisper softly, afraid of being caught while clearly looking scared.

“Do it the normal way, Kou,” Big Sis, finally, replied with speed that was fast but not too fast. “No need for flashy stuff or dark stuff or anything weird.”

A light bulb in Kou’s head finally got a power source, making a lot of light in the dark depths of Kou’s mind.

“Why didn’t I think of that?” Kou thought, grinning widely. “The normal way is really easy, after all!”

“Sorayama? Where is Sorayama?”

“I’m here!” Kou shouted, shooting a hand up. “Present!”

“Well, please introduce yourself now,” Miss Windy told her, still smiling.

Kou felt like he could survive the whole school year now!

“I’m Kou Sorayama, twelve years old, now in my first year of middle school, I like Power Rangers and Masked Riders very much, and I have a really awesome big sister!”

Ending his self-introduction with two arms at his Big Sis, who was standing behind her, Kou–wait, not done yet…

“Oh, and my Big Sis is here right now!”

And now, all the other people in the room were staring at him. Some of them were tilting their heads and raising their eyebrows. A lot of them were going “What?” or “Huh?” or some noise that reminded Kou of confusion.

Wait, confusion…Oh yeah, Kou forgot one more thing!

“You can praise my Big Sis too!” the younger Sorayama shouted, throwing his arms back for that spectacular feel. “She made me braver here, ’cause I was scared of talking to you all! So come on, praise Big Sis Saki!”

“…”

“…”

They could see Big Sis Saki…right?

So why…why were they staring at him like that?

“There’s no one there,” said one classmate.

“He’s probably crazy,” said another.

“Is he serious?”

“Are you joking? I think it’s funny.”

“Yeah, just look at how he introduced himself!”

“He looks like one of those ‘chuunis’!”

“Oh yeah, I remember that anime about them! They’re really funny!”

“Haha, next, he’ll be trying to unleash Dark Flames!”

“Ew, I hope he doesn’t go chuuni on me…”

“…”

Why couldn’t they see her?

Nobody else but Kou can see her?

But Big Bro Johnny saw her.

Everyone else should be able to see her.

So why?

Why?

“They can’t see her because–“

“I CAN SEE HER!”

Everyone else turned their heads.

But not towards Kou.

“I can see her, Kou!” shouted a girl with glasses and blue, twin-pigtailed hair. “I can see your sister!”

Kou’s face brightened. His smile was probably sparkling too.

“See? I told you that she’s here!” Kou insisted, pointing behind him.

“But I still can’t see her…”

“Maybe she’s just imaginary?”

“Our class now has two weirdos, then!”

“I’m definitely not gonna date that weird girl…”

Not like the rest agreed, though.

“Class, please do not make fun of your classmate.”

The noise stopped.

With a tone that was lower and louder than her normal, relaxed voice, Miss Windy wore a deep frown at her students.

“Maybe you cannot see Kou’s sister,” she continued, “But that does not mean that you should bully him.”

There were lowered heads at that statement.

“But his sister really isn’t there! Why are you defending him?”

“Yeah! Are you crazy too, Teacher?”

Still, there were very stubborn kids.

Miss Windy gave a stern look to those kids.

Those kids battled with their teacher in a staring contest.

“Do you like being bullied?” the unblinking teacher asked them, crossing her arms.

Those kids blinked, and then their faces became sour while they lowered their heads as well.

“…no,” they said.

“Then don’t be bullies,” Miss Windy ordered. “You won’t get real friends that way. The people you bully will hate you too.”

“Yes…”

“What did I say?”

“Don’t be bullies.”

“And why should you not be bullies?”

“Because we don’t like being bullied, because we won’t get real friends that way, and because the people who bully us will hate us too.”

“Good, you understand.”

Kou smiled at this development. He sat down, feeling like a bunch of heavy things were thrown away from him. He looked up, smiling at his smiling Big Sis.

Meanwhile, Miss Windy smiled, lowering her crossed arms before taking her clipboard back. “Okay, next up is…”

“Me!” shouted the blue-haired glasses girl who can also see Big Sis Saki. “Mira Taffy! I’m twelve years old, my birthday was last month, I’m in my first year of middle school, I like chocolate, and I like ghosts! Oh, and my family believes in ghosts! And I can see ghosts too!”

Mira gave a wink and a thumbs-up to Kou.

Kou answered with a wink and a thumbs-up as well.

A friendship has been formed! Hooray!

A certain victory theme from a certain famous fantasy-themed video game series played in Kou’s mind, and he also heard the sound of levels rising!

“Kou, Mira, please sit down now.”

“Yes, Ma’am!” Kou shouted and followed, saluting. Mira also shouted the same words and sat down.

Oh, and Kou remained saluting even while seated.

“It’s okay to lower your hand now, Kou,” pretty Miss Windy said.

Kou smiled and lowered his hand silently.

The younger Sorayama then spent the rest of the self-introduction period smiling at Big Sis Saki, at New Friend Mira, at Tough Miss Windy, and then repeat cycle until Miss Windy led them around in a tour around the Middle School Building and a bunch of other places within the school.

The boys’ line stood to the left of the girls’ line, while Miss Windy was in front of both lines. Kou saw a bunch of interesting things and places…well, he would have seen them if his classmates didn’t get in the way of his eyes. Because of that, Kou wished that he was taller, and then Big Sis Saki told him to keep on drinking more milk.

After who knows how many times he got blocked, Kou stomped on the concrete corridor floor in annoyance.

“It really sucks to be short, huh?”

Kou turned his head, and he saw New Friend Mira, frowning at the crowd of their taller classmates too.

“Yeah!” Kou agreed. “Can’t we grow taller, like…overnight?”

Mira shook her head.

“I wish we could, but we can’t break the laws of the universe!” she declared, placing her hands on her waist.

“Eh, but what about reality warpers?”

“They can change things, but not the laws of the universe! If they do something bad, then something bad will happen to them eventually! They are not God! They are another form of humans!”

Kou tilted his head at that.

Maybe he should talk about less deeper stuff…?

“Umm…” was the start of Kou’s response. “I once watched a weird show that has a girl who can warp reality…but don’t tell my Big Sis about it, okay?”

Mira smiled at Kou, making the boy raise an eyebrow, and then she pointed to a certain Big Sis behind Kou.

“Kou…have you been watching those shows without me?” Big Sis Saki said from behind him, whispering right near one of his ears.

Kou did not waste time in apologizing.

“I’m sorry, Big Sis!” he let out, turning around and bowing to his sister.

“I’m going to be watching you more closely when you’re going to watch TV, then. And I’ll be making sure that you don’t stay up late too.”

“Awwww…” Kou groaned. Seriously, he was fascinated by that show, its weirdness, and its pretty girls!

“Kou, it’s time to go to the next place!”

And then Kou got dragged along by Mira. Big Sis Saki followed them, of course.

“You know, Kou, there’s a lot more fun things than just staying inside your house and watching TV or using the computer!” Mira started, her speech going faster and faster. “Mom and Dad and my Big Sis and I walk our dogs together, eat outside together, play games together, plant trees together, go to Mass together, and do many many things together!”

Even though Mira’s speech speed kept on increasing, Kou understood what she was trying to say…but the “doing fun things with the family together” speech didn’t make Kou think of a lot of good responses.

“My parents are dead, Mira…”

Mira suddenly stopped, face turning into a horrified look at Kou, even though the lines of their class were going farther and farther away from them.

She looked to the side, closed her eyes, bit her lower lip, shook a little, and then–

“Whoa!”

Kou almost fell to the ground when Mira rushed in for a hug.

“I’m sorry, Kou, I’m sorry!” she said, her muffled voice causing vibrations in Kou’s shoulder. “I didn’t mean to make you feel sad!”

The shorter boy felt warm and fuzzy at her new friend’s friendliness…and the kinda strange but really sweet scent of her blue hair.

Blushing, Kou considered talking with his Big Sis about all those weird feelings that he’s been having whenever he sees pretty girls that aren’t a part of his family…which were feelings that he were feeling while Mira hugged him…and rubbed her face on his shoulder…wait.

“Mira looks prettier without glasses…” Kou thought, mouth unable to form words properly after his new friend rubbed her green eyes while holding her removed glasses in one hand.

“I’m sorry, Kou…”

Kou blinked, remembering why they stopped walking.

“Ah, it’s okay…” he said, still blushing while playing with his fingers. “I forgive you…and please don’t make me sad again, okay?”

“Thank you!” Mira shouted and hugged again, making Kou’s face go redder…maybe redder than a tomato. “And I’ll really really try not to make you sad again!”

Really, Kou was feeling more confused about the rising heat in his body. Sure, Kou thought that having a friend like Mira was nice, but he preferred being friendly with her without the really weird feelings, which means no close physical contact with Mira.

“Mira, they’re leaving us behind!”

“Wha? Oh man! We gotta go, Kou!”

And so, Mira let go of Kou, causing Kou to breathe out a sigh of relief. Then, they ran, looking for where their classmates were, although they had to slow down after a teacher in another classroom shouted “No running in the corridors!” at them.

Eventually, they found a classmate of theirs looking for them, and they went back to their waiting classmates and homeroom teacher. Putting aside Mira talking too fast and some quickly silenced teasing from their classmates, explaining to Miss Windy wasn’t a hassle. After explaining, the two went back to their respective places in the lines.

While they continued the tour that had a few locations to go, Kou and Mira exchanged glances and smiles while in line. Mira would also drag Kou along to whatever interesting thing she found. Then, she would talk to him about complicated stuff related to those things. Kou couldn’t understand a lot of what she was saying, though, so he often showed a confused face to her.

“You really need to study more, Kou,” a pouting Mira told Kou while their class walked back to the classroom.

“But you’re talking like an alien!” Kou complained.

“Muu…I don’t like your complaints…” Mira folded her arms and looked away. “But I think I’m understanding why my Big Sis tells me off a lot about that…”

Hoping for a chat which requires the use of simpler language, Kou decided to move the conversation to siblings.

“Hey, is your Big Sis awesome too?” Kou asked.

Mira blinked, and then she beamed.

“Yeah!” she declared with a thumbs-up.

“Does she massage your shoulders when you’re tired?”

“Nope! But she hugs me a lot! And we wrestle a lot too! She wins a lot, though…and I wanna win more!”

“Whoa…your Big Sis wins a lot in wrestling…? Does she have super strength?”

“Well, she says that she doesn’t…but she wins a lot in wrestling, so maybe she has!”

“Does she like Power Rangers and Masked Riders?”

“Hmm…I don’t know…but she likes RWBY!”

“‘Ruby’?”

“R-W-B-Y! ‘RWBY’!”

“Whoever spelled ‘Ruby’ like that is dumb. It sounds like something that bad guys would spray-paint on walls.”

“It’s a team name, silly Kou! Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang! And they’re awesome girls! With awesome weapons! Like a sniper-scythe!”

“Ooh, a sniper-scythe? That sounds awesome! But how does that work, though?”

“Hm! Looks like you’ll be watching RWBY with me sometime, then!”

“Sure!” Kou accepted while they entered the classroom. “But…hmm…I’ll ask my Uncle…and my Big Sis too!”

“Big Sis Saki, can Kou go to my house and watch RWBY with me?” Mira asked Big Sis Saki.

“It’s okay!” Big Sis Saki warmly answered. “But don’t go home late, or Uncle will be worried.”

“”Yay!””

“Class, quiet down now.”

The sudden request for quietness made Kou and Mira jump in surprise, but they managed to get back to their seats quickly. Kou noticed changes in seating arrangements, but it seemed like Miss Windy didn’t mind. Kou, who still sat on that back corner seat beside the window, didn’t mind too, because Mira was sitting beside him.

Ah, yes, Kou now has two friends!

“Wait, two friends…Whoops, better not shout, better not shout, better not get Miss Windy’s serious face…Hm, maybe I should listen to Miss Windy…but I should tell Mira about my other awesome friend, Big Bro Johnny!”

He looked at Mira, and he saw her moving her gaze back and forth from Miss Windy and a notebook page that she was writing on.

“Kou, don’t forget your studies too,” Big Sis Saki whispered to him.

Kou pouted, still feeling restless because “I gotta tell Mira about Big Bro Johnny! I’ll forget if I don’t tell her now!” but also feeling bad about disobeying his dear Big Sis.

“I wanna tell Mira about Big Bro Johnny…” Kou said with a soft voice, and then he felt lighter before his Big Sis spoke again.

“Don’t worry, Kou. I’ll remind you about that later. Now, go write down what Miss Windy wants you to write.”

The younger Sorayama nodded with a wide smile, and then he opened his backpack, which stood beside a leg of his table. Taking out a notebook and a pen, he began focusing more on Miss Windy, who was talking about what to bring for the next day.

After a while of listening, reading, and writing, a bell rang.

“The first day of school is done!” Miss Windy declared with a clap. “What do you think of it, class?”

Various reactions were shown, but the happy ones were the loudest. Kou was thinking of shouting “Awesome!” too, but he kept his hand down when he suddenly remembered the attention he got after he introduced himself.

He shuddered when he kept on remembering…but relaxed when he looked to his left.

“Good job, Kou,” Big Sis Saki praised.

Her smile was like an angel’s smile. “God is real and He’s awesome,” Kou thought while he smiled back at his Big Sis.

“Oh, and Kou, tell Mira about Johnny!” she added.

Kou blinked, remembering, and then he turned to the girl sitting beside him.

“Mira! Mira!” Kou shouted along with the students’ goodbyes to Miss Windy.

“Pancakes!” Mira suddenly shouted, almost throwing her notebook and her pen off her table.

“Pancakes?” Kou repeated in confusion.

“Ah, sorry, I’m easily surprised, ehehe…”

“Oh, I’m sorry about that too…”

“It’s okay, Kou! So, whatcha wanna say?”

“Well, I got this other friend. He’s in the High School Building, I think? He’s Big Bro Johnny, and even though he looks like a bad guy, he’s an awesome good guy!” And then Kou suddenly remembered the high schooler boy’s creepy smiles. “I think…”

“Ooh! Is he my Big Sister’s classmate?”

“Hmm…I don’t know…maybe we should ask him?”

“Or ask my Big Sis instead!” she declared. “I’m gonna need to tell her that I won’t be walking back home with her today!”

“Okay!” replied a nodding Kou. “I wanna meet your Big Sis too! And we shouldn’t forget about Big Bro Johnny!”

“Meet my Big Sis, meet Big Bro Johnny, got it!” Mira repeated with a fist pump and a flip of a pigtail. “Let’s go, Kou!”

“Yeah! Let’s go! Lead the way, Mira!”

And they picked up their bags and ran out of the room, with Mira leading the way.

They ran through the big and grassy field in the middle of the school, they ran to the High School Building, and they slowed down, trying to catch their breath while going up the stairs to the third floor of the High School Building. They were tired, but they laughed after all that running.

“There’s my Big Sister’s classroom!” Mira pointed. “Class 3-1!”

And then her eyes focused on a tall and strong-looking girl with long and kinda messy blue hair.

“Big Sis!” Mira called, waving her hand while running towards her.

Mira’s Big Sis noticed, and she waved her hands, bending her knees a little to catch Mira’s glomp.

Kou was amazed at how Mira’s Big Sis didn’t fall down from that.

“Heya, little Mira!” Mira’s Big Sis greeted, ruffling Mira’s hair and rubbing cheeks with her. “How’s your first day of middle school, crazy little sister?”

“My classmates call me ‘weird,'” Mira answered with a pout.

“Not all weird things are bad, Mira. Show them that you can be good! But if somebody tries to beat you up or do something worse than teasing…I’ll teach them some lessons.”

Kou got creeped out by the smile on the face of Mira’s Big Sis. Was she a villain too?

“Don’t be violent, Big Sis Fira!” Mira told her Big Sis sternly.

“Of course, sister!” Big Sis Fira answered, hugging and laughing with Mira again. “Now,” she said while letting go of her sister, “Have you made new friends in your class?”

“Yeah!” Mira answered with a thumbs-up, followed by pointing that thumb to… “Kou!”

Big Sis Fira looked at him…and then her eyes and her smile became really really wide.

“Awwwww, he’s so cute!”

And then Kou found his face in her warm and fluffy chest.

“Mmph!” Kou said, although he was trying to say “Thank you!” and “I need to breathe!”

“Oh, sorry!” Big Sis Fira said, releasing Kou immediately. “Couldn’t resist your cuteness back there, see!” she added while ruffling the blushing Kou’s hair a little. “So, what do you think of my crazy little sister?”

Kou then put a finger to his chin, thinking about what he and Mira did during class time. “She talks like an alien, but she’s really awesome! And she can see my Big Sis, Big Sis Fira!” And then Kou, remembering where his Big Sis stood, quickly raised his arms and pointed at his Big Sis. “Oh, and here’s my Big Sis Saki!”

Big Sis Fira raised her eyes, and then they widened. Then, one eye lowered, while another one rose.

“Hey,” the older Taffy greeted, voice sounding more serious. “You okay there?”

For some reason, Kou didn’t hear his Big Sis answering. He turned to look at her, and then he saw her smiling at him.

“Well, Big Sis Saki is smiling, so nothing’s wrong, right?” Kou thought with worry, but he shook his head quickly. “Yeah, nothing’s wrong.”

“Huh, seems like she’s pretty shy,” Big Sis Fira said with a small but strange smile. “No worries, I won’t talk with her if she doesn’t wanna talk. Now…” and then she turned to Mira, who was wearing a small but strange smile too. “Whatcha gonna do now?”

Mira blinked, and then she spoke.

“We’re gonna be hanging out with Kou’s other friend, Big Bro Johnny! He said that he’s here in the High School Building!”

Big Sis Fira raised an eyebrow again.

“‘Big Bro Johnny?’ As in, Johnny Rockpile?”

“”Yeah!”” Kou and Mira confirmed in unison.

With a hanging jaw, Big Sis Fira blinked quickly and repeatedly.

“Uh…sure…but…”

“”‘But’?””

“…yeah, you can…you can go with him…” she said, tilting her head here and there. “Just…just don’t go home late, okay? And don’t go causing trouble.”

“Yay! Thank you, Big Sis!” and Mira hugged her Big Sister’s waist.

“Where’s Big Bro Johnny, though?” Kou asked, looking around, especially at the classrooms with really tall students coming out.

“Class 3-3, right there,” the older Taffy pointed.

“Thank you, Big Sis Fira!” and Kou also hugged her waist.

“Uh, yeah…you’re welcome…” Big Sis Fira replied in a strange tone, but when Kou looked up, she saw her smiling brightly again. “You’re welcome! And if you need help, you can call me, okay?”

“Okay!” Kou said with a nod, and then he and Mira ran to the doorway to Class 3-3.

Looking within the classroom, Kou spotted the tan blonde quickly.
“Big Bro Johnny!”

“…what?”

“What?”

“Huh?”

There was a boy with orange hair that looked messier than Big Bro Johnny’s, a bald and dark-skinned boy, and a tall boy with brown hair.

“Oh, hey, Kou!” Big Bro Johnny greeted, wearing an awesome smile that made him look heroic! “How did class go?”

Kou frowned, suddenly remembering all those bullies.

“Everybody laughed at me because they thought I was crazy…but Mira and the teacher didn’t!”

And then Kou stepped aside to show New Friend Mira.

“Hello! I’m Mira!” greeted Kou’s New Friend.

“Nice to meet you, Mira!” Big Bro greeted back, and Kou heard whats and huhs from the other students in the room for some reason. “Is your blue hair natural?”

“Nope! My older sister and I dyed our hair blue!” she replied, giving a touch to one of her shoulder-length pigtails. “My natural hair color is black! What about you, Big Bro Johnny?”

“I had it dyed too!” Big Bro Johnny answered, his tone reminding Kou of a certain bushy-browed fighter in green. “My natural hair color is also black!”

“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!?”

The orange-haired boy had shouted, fists clenched and raised in front of him. His sore-looking and widened red eyes (“Are they natural red eyes?” Kou wondered) were looking here and there, and then his grinding teeth turned into a smile as his eyes focused on Mira.

“Oh hey, a cute loli.”

Mira didn’t look affected, but Kou…Kou suddenly felt a shiver.

Also, it seemed like that shaking boy beside the bald and dark-skinned boy was giving him shivers too.

“Wait, why am I scared of that guy?” Kou thought while looking at that shaking boy. “He’s the one who’s scared!”

“Hey. Pervert.”

Kou heard Big Bro’s angry voice again, but this seemed really really scarier than when he heard it last time. And from his words, it seemed like Big Bro Johnny was dealing with a bad guy.

The middle schooler boy didn’t quite understand what “loli” meant, but he felt like he had heard it before. He also felt like he should make sure to remember that if somebody calls a little girl that, then that person should be reported to the police or a responsible adult.

“Okay, what’s with the glare now, Johnny?” the orange-haired villain asked, smiling like an idiot and sounding really annoying with his “I remember you not being against my liking for lolis back then…and I’m not doing anything bad!”

“It’s small, but it’s still bad, dumbass,” Big Bro Johnny growled, like those awesome old men. “Put your dirty hands on Mira–or even any other girl…and I will kick your balls until you stop being a perv.”

The orange-haired villain started shaking with fear, and then he gulped. He ended up speechless too.

Then, Big Bro looked at two other people–the bald and dark-skinned guy, and that really pale and really shaking guy.

And then he turned around, meeting Kou’s and Mira’s eyes with a smile. He looked up a little, nodded a little, and said:

“Let’s go, Kou, Mira,” Big Bro Johnny called. He walked past the middle schoolers and Big Sis Saki, leading the way. “I know a nice place where we can hang out today!” he added as he looked at them over his shoulder. “It has some really sweet cakes!”

“Ooh, cake!” Kou exclaimed, and then he gripped the shoulder straps of his bag while marching with heightened energy. Indeed, cake is Kou’s favorite! Especially if it’s chocolate cake with mangoes!

“Hey, I want cake too!” Mira followed, right behind Kou and running past Johnny.

“Watch where you’re going, you two!” blonde Big Bro shouted, and the two kids stopped advancing, although they still excitedly marched in place. “Just follow me, and we’ll get there quick!”

“”Yay!””

And they went down the stairs, feeling excitement and happiness! Kou wanted to go faster, since Big Bro was going down fast, but “Be careful with stairs, Kou” was what Mira told him while going down the stairs.

“Good day, Ma’am Mary,” Johnny quickly said to a short and young-looking teacher who was going up the stairs.

“Oh! Oh…good day to you too, Mister Rockpile!” Ma’am Mary greeted back.

“Good day, Ma’am Mary!” Kou decided to say when he passed her by too. Mira also did the same, and Ma’am Mary gave them a smile that made her really pretty as well!

After going down the stairs, Johnny stopped, waiting for Kou and Mira before moving again. They walked out of the school building, out of the school premises, and onto a sidewalk beside the school.

“I wonder where we’re gonna go, Kou?” Mira asked while she held her hands behind her back.

“I dunno,” Kou answered. He looked up, and then he looked ahead again.

“Huh…why is Big Sis in front of me?”

The younger Sorayama checked behind him, just to be sure, but Big Sis Saki wasn’t there, which meant that she really was walking beside Big Bro Johnny. The two older people in front of them weren’t letting out sounds, though, for some reason…

“Big sis is a *****.”

Everything went black again.

“Kou? Are you okay?”

He felt his head being turned to the side.

“Kou? Hello? Earth to Kou!”

Kou opened his eyes, and he saw Mira looking at him while being really close to his face.

“Ah!”

The middle schooler boy jumped back, contents of his bag shaking as they jumped along with him. He didn’t fall over, but he was blushing at their closeness back there.

“Umm…umm…”

And Kou really wasn’t sure about how to deal with all those weird feelings properly…

“Oh, and Big Bro Johnny and Big Sis Saki stopped too!” Mira stated, looking to her right. “And they’re pretty far from us too! We should catch up to them!”

For some reason, Kou felt…heavy. But still, he nodded, and he ran with Mira.

“Big Bro Johnny? Big Sis Saki? Why did you stop?” Mira shouted.

They weren’t turning around when they called, so they tried again when they got closer.

“Big Bro?” Mira called.

“Hey, Big Sis!” Kou called.

“Sorry,” Big Bro Johnny suddenly said, turning to face the two younger ones with a smile. “I had problems, and I was talking about them with your Big Sis, Kou.”

“Did she solve them?” Kou asked, giving a smile to his awesome and heroic Big Sis.

“Not fully…” answered the blue Big Sis, “But he’s getting better!”

“Alright!” Kou shouted, jumping with happiness because of the progress. “I told you, my Big Sis Saki is awesome!”

“She’s an awesome ghost, indeed!” Mira shouted, pigtails swinging along.

Big Sis Saki is a ghost? Really?

“She’s not a ghost, Mira! She’s just blue! Blue, but still alive and awesome! Like a superhero!”

Really, why can’t they remember the fact that Big Sis Saki is alive?

“Ah! I mean…she’s alive! Yeah, she’s alive! And blue! Blue, alive, and awesome!”

Yes, that’s better.

“Let’s go, Kou, Mira, Saki! To Aurora’s!”

Hearing Big Bro Johnny calling for them, Kou went to follow him, running when he started running as well. As they ran, Kou remembered why they were running through streets.

“I wonder if they have chocolate cake with mangoes…?”


Next Chapter: Unexpected Effects

Previous Chapter: Golden Opportunities

幸山 -sakiyama-

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