Misunderstood: the Friendship Project
I always hated History. It wasn't that I didn't understand the material—no, it was such a boring class, I always found myself falling asleep. I walked in behind Syaoran for Morality, aka social hour.
I never understood why Seijuu included a class like morality as part of the standard curriculum. Apparently, it was because the school had a responsibility of educating “well-rounded individuals” or some other nonsense like that. All we did was talk about social issues but everyone knew it was the best time to gossip without being told to shut up.
The moment we were seated, Kenji-sensei announced, at the beginning of March for Pete's sake, we have a project due at the end of the school year.
A "Friendship" Project.
We're in groups of four and we receive instructions a bit at a time.
"Some will be paired with friends, others with strangers. This is supposed to be a project to strengthen and gain new friendships. All right? Okay, here are the groups!"
He went on and on until..."Daidouji! You're with Hiiragizawa, Kinomoto, and Li. Go to Table Four."
Several students whispered, "Who's Kinomoto?" until the kaijuu stood up and joined us at Table Four, silencing the room with one simple movement.
"Okay, we're supposed to introduce ourselves. I'll go first," Daidouji said, reading off the sheet she pulled from the center of the table. "I'm Daidouji Tomoyo, sixteen, and I'm in the choir as a hobby."
I went next. "I'm Hiiragizawa Eriol, seventeen, and I like to read." I pointed at Syaoran, who said:
"Li Syaoran, seventeen, and I'm in a band." His gaze rested on the kaijuu, who glared at him, and replied to our unspoken queries in a cold voice,
"Kinomoto Sakura, sixteen, and I refuse to tell my hobbies and activities." Her arms were crossed in front of her chest and she eyed us suspiciously.
An uneasy silence settled over our table. From all sides, groups were excitedly discussing their lives and shared interests.
“So…” I said, breaking the silence.
“You’re a musician aren’t you? A pianist,” Kinomoto cut in.
I looked at her in surprise. I didn’t think she would remember that one time we ran into each other in the music room.
“You’ve played for many years,” she added. “I can tell from the way your fingers curl inward when you rest your hand on a tabletop.”
Daidouji glanced at my hand. True to her word, my fingers did curl slightly inward when my hand rested on the table.
“I didn’t know that. That’s amazing, Kinomoto-san!” Daidouji gushed before she looked at Kinomoto with wide, curious eyes. “What about me? What can you tell about me?”
Kinomoto snorted and leaned back in her chair. “What don’t I know about you is the question. The majority of the student body can list of your entire student profile and record by heart.”
“Can you?” Syaoran asked pointedly.
“No. I don’t need to,” came her cryptic remark.
The silence settled again. I was beginning to hate it, not when I just heard Kinomoto Sakura speak more in the last fifteen minutes than I heard in my entire life.
“Cosplay. You cosplay,” Kinomoto finally said. “The silver ring on your right hand is from Nana. Nakashima Mika wore an identical ring on her finger in the live action version when she played Oosaki Nana.”
Toying with the Vivienne Westwood ring around her finger, Daidouji nodded slightly, the tips of her ears red. I raised an eyebrow at the admission. Seijuu's Perfect Girl is a secret otaku? I couldn't imagine her in Akihabara on Sunday afternoons, strolling down the streets in purple pigtails with a parasol in hand.
“And me? What can you tell about me?” Syaoran finally asked. Curiosity finally got the best of him, I guess.
She stared at him for a long time, refusing to say anything.
The bell rang. We took up more time attempting small talk and listening to Kinomoto reveal our closest secrets than I thought we did.
"Okay, homework! Fill out this form for 100 points. Due tomorrow. Class dismissed," Kenji-sensei yelled to the rapidly retreating class.
“Well?” Syaoran pressed her as we stood up to gather our books.
She looked at him again and smirked. “You don’t know who the hell you are.”
We stared at her, stunned, before we realized the room was emptying quickly. The statement hung in the air even after I grabbed a sheet from the table and headed out the door.
As I walked towards my locker, I looked at the form, the last few minutes forgotten.
Date of Birth:
Hobbies (list three):
Tell us a fun fact:
What kind of homework is this? More like a weapon for espionage.
-Last hour: gym-
We're doing gymnastics. Oh, joy. My ultimate favorite sport.
It's the bars today. Tanazaki-sensei, the other gym teacher, told us that we have to do a simple flip on the bars. "If you can do more, then show us all what you can do," the hyper sensei yelled.
Most people were only able to do one flip but they weren't very good. Daidouji, Mihara, and Yanagisawa did two flips on the bars and their form was almost perfect. I went next. I did two flips too except...
"Hiiragizawa! Straighten your legs a little more!" Tanazakai-sensei yelled.
Syaoran did three consecutive flips on the bars and his form was perfect but his landing was atrocious. Everyone clustered on the mats near the bars that lined the floors in the area where we practiced floor gymnastics, fussing over Syaoran, who lost his balance during his landing and fell face-first. Hardly anyone paid attention to the last girl in line with the determined look on her face. The few people who noticed her still standing there snickered and remarked she would be the worst one yet.
Tanazaki-sensei nodded her head and blew her whistle for the kaijuu to begin. “Kinomoto, you better not be holding out on me!”
Syaoran told me of the conversation he overheard between Toshi-sensei and Kinomoto the other day. What was up with the teachers and the great pains they take to give her special encouragement?
She nodded curtly before running towards the bar. Three feet away, Kinomoto jumped and her hands landed on the first bar. She flipped once and let go. Many students sniggered, saying the kaijuu can only do one flip.
Boy are they wrong.
Tanazaki-sensei sighed before blowing her whistle. “Kinomoto, I told you not to hold out on me! Oh nevermind, you're perfect as usual. Class, I hope you were paying attention to that because that is the definition of a perfect bar performance!”
You'd think that all the students would be swarming around the girl, firing her with questions, but this is the kaijuu we're talking about.
There were no swarming, awe-struck students.
There was no volley of questions.
There were a bunch of snobby idiots who denounced the girl after she accomplished a feat no one else had done.
"That was amazing," Syaoran whispered to me. “I've only ever seen Meiling do a flip perfectly.”
"I know. But they're too stuck up to even admit it" I said, before realizing I had no idea who Meiling was.
I turned to ask Syaoran who he was referring to, but I caught sight of Daidouji instead. She kept glancing at Kinomoto, wanting to ask her something, but was pulled away by her friends to the locker rooms.
Interesting, I thought.
Why would the Perfect Girl want to do anything with the kaijuu?
Expect the unexpected.
I left by myself today.
On my way home, I ran into Hiiragizawa-san. I completely forgot we lived across the street from each other.
Racing to catch up to him, I called his name. "Hiiragizawa-san!"
He paused and stopped, waiting for me to catch up before walking again. "Daidouji-san, how are you?"
The same old polite conversation.
I smiled brightly. "Well. You?"
He gave me an enigmatic smile before softly replying, "I'm excruciatingly paranoid. Did you see that homework Kenji-sensei gave us?"
In all honesty, I haven't even looked at the sheet. I just shoved it into my folder and ran out the door for last hour gym.
Which I also had with Hiiragizawa.
"No... what about it?"
Handing me the homework, I scanned it over before choking on my saliva. "What? Is he serious?" I sputtered as I gave it back to him.
Hiiragizawa chuckled humorlessly. "I'm afraid not. I think it's a weapon for bloody espionage."
You got that right. I don't even think my closest friends know half the stuff on that sheet.
We walked in silence until the last corner before our street.
"Hey Daidouji-san... would you be able to tell something about a person if he or she was constantly surrounded by friends?"
What a strange question.
"No. What is that supposed to tell me—he's not lonely? People who are constantly swarmed by others may be some of the loneliest people in the world."
He stared at me for a long time before he gave me another mystifying smile and dropped me off at my front door.
"I see. Thank you."
“Are you thinking about Sakura-san?” I called out at the last moment. I don't even know why I mentioned her name. She was the last person to fit Hiiragizawa-san's question.
He didn’t answer me.
“No,” Hiiragizawa-san finally said. “I’m thinking about Syaoran.”
I watched him leave in stunned silence.