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Drums of a Different Song

By WolfManJim

Thriller / Romance

Chapter 1 A Chance Meeting

"You said you'd try…"

"I will, I will, but I'm not mentally prepared."

She was trying, she had been trying. But there was something inside her that frightened her, and made her pull away every time. The touch of a boy made her body, mind and heart not feel right. It was not like in her romance novels, it was too real. How could she be expected to do something that felt so vulgar? Makoto and her had only been dating for a week or more, was this how things were supposed to be?

She said she had something she needed to do, but really she just wanted to leave. Now whenever she was around him, this came up. Was it something wrong with her? Was it wrong of her to not give in to him? Was she unnatural because she was this way? How could she ever expect to be married if she could not overcome this?

Kotonoha padded down the stairs and into one of the halls of the school. She could not feel any more self-conscious than when she was around him. Even now, just leaving, she felt like eyes were on her. She looked cautiously at the other students while trotting through the hallway, not running to go someplace, but to get away.

Out of nowhere, she heard the sound of a set of books spilling out on the floor, it made her jump. She turned and saw someone having trouble.

A male student was leaning against the wall. No one seemed to be paying much attention to him, they just glanced in curiosity and nothing more.

Wasn't anyone going to help? She thought maybe she should, but what if Makoto saw? What if someone else saw and told him, made him think she had betrayed him? Her better judgement was telling her not to do anything and just keep walking.

"Um…excuse me," she leaned towards him. "Are you alright?"

He winced as if he was in pain and was clutching his head of dark flecked hair. His breathing was intense.

He hissed a little through his teeth, "Yeah…I'm okay. It's…just a headache."

"You…you don't look okay. You're pale!"

His knees buckled, "I'm good, it'll pass. I just need to…sit down."

He plopped on the floor. Students passed by slowly, then moved on.

He was a strange sight to look at. He was not wearing his uniform per regulation. The tie was missing, the shirt untucked and hanging unbuttoned under his coat. He had a strong frame and was just a little bigger than Makoto, but seeing him hunched over like this made him seem smaller; weak and frail.

"You don't look in the least bit well. You should go to the infirmary."

He actually managed a laugh, still clutching his head, "I'm not really in the mood…"

"Please…I insist," she knelt down to his level. He wouldn't lift his head any further to look at her.

"Nah, I…I think I'm good now," he placed a hand on the floor and attempted to stand.

"Don't push yourself."

This was futile. He managed get both feet planted, but swayed forward, his eyes rolling into the back of his head.

Kotonoha had to lift her arms out and push him against the wall to keep him from falling.

"I'm sorry!" she pulled away immediately.

He seemed not to notice, his lids fluttering as he spoke, "Well, that was close…"

"You're in no shape to be walking. You look like you could pass out any moment."

"Hm…"

She wanted to help him, but how was she supposed to move him without touching him? His state was too serious for her to just leave him there. Maybe he was right, and it would pass and everything would be fine. Then she could get back to her original thoughts, though now, it wasn't a very welcoming idea.

"Please, you must go."

He was very reluctant, he really did not want to.

He took a breath, "Okay…let's go…"

She hated this, first she could not be around Makoto, and now she needed to help this person, but it made her so uncomfortable.

Slowly, trying the incredible feat to touch him as little as possible, she went to pull his arm up around her shoulders when he stopped her.

"Wait, not like that…I don't wanna' look like a wimp in front of these people…"

She looked at him confused, edgy.

"It's alright…" he said, "But if I fall over, I might take you with me. Just…take my arm…I'll manage…"

"Okay…"

She grabbed his books off the floor and held them against her side. Then she reached out and grabbed his wrist.

"Okay, we're going now," feeling very awkward.

He used his other hand to balance himself against the wall, then pushed away and Kotonoha lightly tugged at his arm, guiding him.

On the way he needed to stop and use something for support here and there. Kotonoha thought they must look very strange, they even caught a few stares. Nothing could have made her feel more like breaking down in tears. She just wanted to go home now and lock herself in her room. She thought of how this must look if she was supposed to be Makoto's girlfriend.

The guy let out a grunt of pain.

"We're almost there," her voice shuddered she looked at him.

Kotonoha stepped through the doorway of the infirmary. The guy in her hand leaned up against the door frame, his chest heaving. A nurse turned and saw them.

"I...I think he has a headache," she said to the nurse.

The nurse took one look at the boy, "Oh, Kuzoka-san. Up for another visit?"

"Hey senpai…I suppose so…" he muttered from the doorway.

"There's a bed right here."

"Um…this has happened before?" Kotonoha asked.

"Oh, a few times during his first and second year," the nurse spoke casually as she laid out a pillow.

"Yeah…just tell her everything why don't ya…" Kuzoka stumbled over to the bed and placed his hand on it for support.

The nurse chuckled, "I'm hoping this year is not as fierce, though he seems to be getting better. His attitude still hasn't changed much."

Kuzoka pushed himself on the bed, "Well, you know how it is…" then kicked his shoes off and stretched out.

"Would you like me to call your brother?" the nurse asked.

"Nah, he's got enough to deal with right now…"

"You can leave his books over there," the nurse motioned to a nearby chair.

After doing so, Kotonoha stepped to the doorway and bowed, "I'm sorry for troubling you."

"You're a dear for bringing him in."

She looked at the boy lying on the infirmary bed, his eyes closed, incessantly rubbing his temple. Then she left.


Before Kotonoha could make it to her last class, she was met at the stairs by members of the school festival group. Otome stood in front, an irritant look on her face.

"Katsura-san, where were you just now?" she snapped.

Kotonoha did not answer immediately, still shaking off the events that had just occurred.

"You have to meet with us after class to work over the materials and planning of the festival. Do you think you can do that without being late every single time?"

"I'm…I'm sorry," Kotonoha clasped her hands tightly together.

"Ah, she's apologizing again," one of the girls behind Otome chimed.

"We have more forms for you to fill out, you've fallen back on them again. I wonder why you're always so distracted."

Otome's eyes pried at Kotonoha's shy gaze.

She looked away at the floor.

Otome waved a careless hand, "I guess it can't be helped. We'll see you then."

She walked past Kotonoha, the other girls following. They fell back into their little group beyond her and she could hear whispers.

"She's so useless."

"I don't know why you bother Otome, she's always going to be that way."

They hurt and pelted her from behind, they knew she could hear them. When they were gone, Kotonoha blinked idly at the steps. Doing her best never seemed to be enough. Everyone wanted something from her and she always came up short. Nothing was satisfactory. It was times like this when she had no will to continue.

But none of that mattered now. She would talk to Sekai about Makoto later. This was the only thing she could look forward to.

She started slowly up the stairs.


After classes ended, her Committee meeting was nerve racking as usual. She sat at the front of the room going over forms while the rest of the Committee grouped up away from her, talking amongst themselves. She had work to do, but sometimes she listened in while they talked and whispered to themselves. It was never anything spectacular, she just wished she could join in. They talked about boys and other things, but never involved her in their discussions.

She turned in the forms and left quietly. She hoped maybe she'd be able to meet with Makoto so he could walk home with her.

On her way down, she had just passed the infirmary entrance when she stopped and turned to look back at it.

Most everyone would be going home right now, except for a few clubs staying late. She wondered this as she set foot in the doorway.

"You're still here!"

"Yeah…" Kuzoka was seated on the infirmary bed, still leaning with his head in his hand.

"If it's that serious, shouldn't they send you to the hospital?" she approached him.

"Jeez, you're nosy for a quiet girl," he sighed and then continued in a dispassionate tone. "No, because it's a regular thing. As long as I'm breathing and not bleeding out of my ears, they just have to keep me here."

"Won't you miss class?"

He shrugged, "It happens, what are you gonna' do?"

He was actually looking at her this time, when before he could barely make eye contact. There was something about his eyes that seemed…objective. As if instead of looking at her, they were trying to read something.

"After all, I'm not collapsing on the floor every Tuesday and Friday. These headaches just come up now and then."

"Is it a health problem?"

A laugh came up, "Boy do I wish," speaking more to himself.

She clutched her tote bag nervously in both hands.

"I want to thank you…"

She looked up.

"For helping me…uh, no one has really ever done that. Well, not here."

"What do they do?"

He shook his head, "What you saw. They must think I'm faking it or something. I guess I earned myself a reputation as a hypochondriac."

"Why would they think such a thing, if you're in here?"

"People see what they wanna' see. They like to judge. It's easier for them."

"I'm not sure I could understand that…"

"Then you're one of few," he pushed himself off the bed and stood, his legs a little wobbly.

"Oh!" Kotonoha moved forward.

"It's fine, I think I can stand on my own now. I'm Eiichi Kuzoka," he bowed.

"Kuzoka-san, I'm Kotonoha Katsura, pleased to meet you," she returned.

The nurse stepped in, "Kuzoka-san, you're – and who is this?" seeing Kotonoha. "Come back to check up on him?" she smiled.

"Oh no, it's not like that!" Kotonoha flustered.

"Oh there's no need to be shy, we see it happen all the time here."

"No please, I just came here—"

"It's alright sensei, I'm pretty sure she's taken," Eiichi said, putting his shoes back on.

"So you know each other?"

He laughed again, "Not really." Standing up, he turned to Kotonoha, "But I'm sure he's a lucky guy."

How would he have known such a thing? Kotonoha fawned over this and couldn't help blushing.

The nurse continued, "Well I came here to tell you, your brother is waiting outside to pick you up."

"I told that bastard not to take work off if something happened…" Eiichi muttered.

"He's your brother, don't blame him for wanting to be there for you," the nurse chimed in.

Eiichi grabbed his things and turned to Kotonoha, "It was a pleasure meeting you and thanks again. If I see you, I'll say hi. Thank you for your care."

He bowed to them, and then he was out the door.

The nurse shook her head and looked at Kotonoha, "He's a spitfire, that boy. I can't think of a student more in need of a companion."

Kotonoha stepped out and watched Eiichi trot down the hall and out one of the doors.


"I'm sorry for calling you all of a sudden," Kotonoha spoke into her cell while seated on her bed. "I wanted to tell you something."

Her figure was swathed over in a fine violet night gown.

"Don't worry, so what is it?" Sekai's voice responded through the line.

"Today Makoto-kun…"

"Makoto? Did he do something again?" Sekai sounded a little irate.

"He touched my chest…" she muttered.

"I got it. I'll set Makoto straight tomorrow. I'll tell him to stop doing things that you don't like, Katsura-san."

"No, it's not that I don't like it, but…"

"But?"

"I'm just not mentally prepared for it yet," she felt like a broken record. "I feel bad for Makoto-kun."

"There's no way that it's your fault, Katsura-san. That pervert is rushing things."

"No, it's just that I couldn't answer his feelings."

"No way. You're worrying too much about him. But Katsura-san…"

"Yes?"

Sekai spoke carefully, an inflection of playfulness in her voice, "Um, do you plan on not doing those things with Makoto in the future?"

"Those things?"

"Like kissing, stuff like that."

"Like erotic things?" Kotonoha felt odd saying it.

"Well, yeah. Like when you two get into a great mood at a nice place. Then wouldn't a girl feel like giving it to him?"

Kotonoha let out a prolonged gasp.

"Well, men are unrefined, so they don't understand stuff like this."

"For instance…" Kotonoha began.

"Yeah, yeah?"

"Horses."

"Horses? Katsura-san, you ride horses?"

"I really love the dashing boys riding at the horseback riding club that I often go to. And then two of us take shelter from a sudden rain while running in the mountain roads of Europe during a summer vacation. Then we decide to a take a break in a cottage, and we snuggled up in one blanket next to the fireplace. Then it gets to that we try to warm up."

Kotonoha talked for a long time while Sekai's voice remained silent on the other end. When she finished, she apologized for being so lengthy. Sekai told her not to worry about it and they said their goodbyes.

Kotonoha left her room and went into the kitchen for a glass of water.

Her mother was in the kitchen, preparing a school lunch for her little sister.

She sat down at the table in the living room and took a drink, "I'm thirsty from talking so much."

She noticed, lying on the table, were two tickets to a water park. She picked them up and looked over them.

"Mom, what are these?" she called to the kitchen doors.

Her mother's voice sounded from behind them, "Your father got them from work. His coworker had a reservation, but he can't make it due to some urgent business."

Kotonoha smiled, "Hey mom, do you think I can have these?"

"Sure, you're going to go with a friend, right?"

"Yeah."


On the train the next morning, Kotonoha looked around the car for Makoto. When she found him, he was leaning against the rail by one of the doors like usual.

"Good morning, Makoto-kun."

"Good morning," there was a lack luster in his voice, but she tried to pay it no mind.

"Um, Makoto-kun?"

"What is it?"

"If you have free time…" suddenly, the train jostled and she fell toward him.

Instead of trying to catch her, as if attracted like a magnet, his hand fell on her breast and she even felt a squeeze. When she could regain her footing, she stepped away and turned.

"I'm sorry! I didn't mean to..."

"It's okay. It's my own fault. You didn't want to be touched, right?" his low voice had notations of dissatisfaction.

"That's not…" hurt and taken aback. "Um, Makoto-kun."

"What is it?"

She wanted to show him the tickets, but things had just set themselves up to be awkward again. She probably could still show them to him and it would eliminate all that, but he seemed too disinterested.

"No, it's nothing..."


The sound of her feet echoed up and down the stairwell as Kotonoha slowly made her way up to the roof, a distraught look on her face. Makoto was beginning to sound more and more like he did not want to be around her anymore. It was because of her, it had to be. There was no other way of looking at it. He was losing interest because she could not pull herself together. She couldn't get herself to overcome her fears, and this is why he was beginning to back off. She was going to the roof because that was where they had spent time together. It was only a few days ago, but it felt a lot longer. Maybe…if she stayed there long enough, he would come.

She pushed open the door to the roof, it felt heavier than usual.

Upon setting foot outside, she noticed she was not alone up here. The door closed slowly behind her and she found herself staring at another person. It was a male student with dark flecked hair, his back was turned, unaware of her presence. She saw a white cloud of smoke lift up from in front of him.

The door clanked shut behind her and it looked like he tensed up.

"Alright, ya caught me, I—" he turned around. "Oh, it's you."

It was Eiichi, with some relief in his voice.

Like before, his uniform hung undone and loose around him. His coat and shirt swayed in the wind as he stood calmly now, a lit cigarette in his hand.

She approached, "Students are not allowed to be in possession of tobacco products."

"So you're a cop now," he nodded.

"I am a class representative and a member of the school festival committee and student council," she said sternly.

"Oh, well color me impressed," he teased.

"I will alert a sensei and there will be repercussions," but she did not move.

"That's alright, I'll just ask them what their thoughts are on a rep skipping class."

Shock broke out on her face.

"I can play that game too," he smiled and took a drag. "You look like something is bothering you."

Another breeze blew the smell of tobacco to her. It was strangely sweet in a way.

"How could you know that?" her hands clasped tightly.

"I have an eye for these things," he patted the butt with his index finger and a mound of ash fell off the ember. "You're scolding me about smoking on campus, but that's not really why you came up here."

"I'm not sure I know what you're talking about…"

She tried not to notice his eyes peering at her inquisitively. She half expected more damaging behavior, this time from someone she had helped.

"Alright, tell you what," he took another drag. "I'll put this cigarette out and I won't light another as long as I'm here, but in return, you have to tell me what's going on."

She was too timid to report him, and his attention to her, coupled with the kindness she showed him before, worked to convince her to go along with his proposition. Without a word from her, he tossed the cig on the pad and stamped it out.

She stood a moment, wanting to walk away, but without realizing it, without intending to, she stepped over to the benches where she once had lunch with Makoto and Sekai. She sat down lightly, smoothed her skirt and placed her hands in her lap.

"I…don't know what to do…" her voiced remained still, though she felt she had to keep it together. "There is a person I'm in love with…"

Eiichi kept silent.

"He…I feel we've been growing apart…we've been dating for a week, I suppose…I want to be with him…but he keeps…making advances…"

"What sort of advances?" Eiichi touched his forehead.

"Those advances…"

"Ah, those."

"I…" she was reluctant to say more now.

This was another boy she was talking to, and her own problems were something she would have rather kept between herself and Sekai.

"You are having trouble accepting his feelings because you are afraid. You've been afraid for a long time," Eiichi inserted.

"Yes! I mean how…" she looked at him.

"It was obvious you didn't want to say why. Your voice changed pitch as well, it's an easy tell."

He was a strange boy indeed.

"Today, we were on the train. I lost my balance and he…" she looked away, she didn't want to show that she was blushing. She hated that she was.

Eiichi stepped over to the bench and sat a good space from her, his elbows on his thighs, hands together.

She continued, "It's not that I don't like it…but…I'm afraid! And I don't know why. I have told him, but he seems to be getting impatient. He won't answer my texts, most days I only see him on the train. Sometimes I've even…avoided him…"

"And you're regretting that now."

"Was it a mistake?" she turned.

"It's hard to say. I'd have to meet him, but in the meantime, there's only so much responsibility you can take. It doesn't sound like you two have been dating that long, so his advances are too soon, especially if you've told him how much it bothers you. It sounds like all the demand is being placed on your shoulders."

"How can that be…it does not feel that way…" she said distantly.

He gave her a moment, "Pressure from others can change your perspective, and there can be things going on behind the scenes that you don't know about. You're a kind person…and you are dealing with a problem that you believe has to do with your own quality, but it sounds more like you're trying to change yourself to suit the wants or shortcomings of others, and that's never good. All kind people have an inner problem. It may even cause others to look at them differently, and make then believe that nothing they do can match up. Being intimate with men is a fear of yours. That's actually natural, only it scares you enough to make you avoid it at all costs, but that is something that can fix itself, as long as you give it the time it needs."

"How am I supposed to do that, when I should be focused on him?"

"You need to give yourself needed attention as well. The fact that you are trying shows courage, but you can move too fast. He's telling you to keep up with him, but you need to go at your own pace. There is a give and take in relationships, and if it's not followed, bigger problems will arise."

He had called her a kind person. She could not remember the last time someone had said that to her. He certainly seemed to know a lot about people for his age. While talking like this, he sounded more like an adult than a high school student. Sometimes when he spoke, he sounded like he was sorting things out in his head as he went along, piecing together a puzzle.

"So…I should keep doing what I've been doing?"

"Nope, because you've been stressing. I'm sure being in love and not being around him must be excruciating… You may not like what I'm about to say, but you need to be patient. Allow him to come around, maybe refrain from texting him for a while. Don't say hello to him when you see him, just go about your day. Try to find things to distract you. If he cares, he'll notice and want to know what happened. It's not going to be perfect, and I think he needs to see that more than anything."

"But I have these tickets I wanted to show him," she brought the water park tickets out of her bag.

"Show them to him if you get the chance."

"But, what you said…"

"If you have them it's worth a try, but if he can't do it, it's time to back off."

She settled down now. Eiichi looked up at the clouds drifting overhead. The wind swept the roof of the school, mingling with their silence.

"Um…can I come up here with you again?" Kotonoha had the uneasy feeling she was doing something wrong, but she tried to ignore it.

"Of course," Eiichi smiled.

She stood, "I have to go now," she turned and bowed to Eiichi, "Thank you so much…for listening to me. And…if he does accept the tickets, I want to know if you'll join us for lunch sometime, I want to introduce you to Makoto-kun and Sekai-chan."

"Just gimme' a call."

"Yes," she took out her cell.

After they exchanged numbers she bowed again, "And…could you please keep this between the two of us? If they knew…"

"You don't have to ask, I got it covered."

"Thank you, goodbye…"

"See ya."

She padded off and opened the stairwell door.

Eiichi had been different this time. Something had changed in his demeanor that he was not the mouthy boy she had met the other day. This made her smile for some reason, she guessed it was because she had made a new friend.


A day later, Eiichi had received a text from Kotonoha telling him with exclamation points, and even a smiley, that Makoto had accepted her offer.

He responded back, 'Way ta' go kid!'

The following week he received a text from her asking him to meet her on the roof during lunch.

Making his way up the stairwell, hands in his pockets, he wondered what this was about and if she was going to be okay.

He opened the door to the roof and saw Kotonoha seated on the benches with two other students. He had forgotten about her invitation.

The three of them looked when Eiichi stepped out. There were several bento boxes stacked next to Kotonoha and a thermos.

"Oh Kuzoka-san," Kotonoha rose. "This is Kuzoka Eiichi…" she introduced them.

Two pairs of subtly peculiar eyes stared back at him with a sense made aware of his unfitting appearance. Of course, Kotonoha had never mentioned his appearance to them, either out of concern for his feelings or pure, indiscriminate, obliviousness. That a girl of her class and nature would befriend such a suspicious looking character as he, was something out of the ordinary for anyone who noticed. And it was likely these two had heard a few of the rumors about him already, where as Kotonoha had not known until he mentioned it.

Eiichi bowed to the two, who introduced themselves as Saionji Sekai and Itou Makoto, and returned the greeting.

"Well, it's nice to meet you two."

"So Katsura-chan says that she met you recently," Makoto inquired.

"Oh yeah, I noticed she was having trouble in the library, so I helped her out. She told me some nice things about you guys and actually offered for me to have lunch with you. I have to apologize, I really forgot all about it."

He noticed, despite their momentary discomfort toward who they would be dining with, his manners only managed to throw them off more. However, noticing his ironicly polite attitude, Sekai had been able to recover with bubbly conversation.

"Oh, I hope she didn't tell you too much," Sekai grinned at Kotonoha, who smiled back.

Eiichi laughed, "Well, no more than what was needed I imagine," and sat next to Kotonoha.

He thought it was strange that Makoto was keeping his distance from her. He was sitting closer to Sekai.

"So Kuzoka-san, what year are you?"

"Third year," the two were surprised even more by this.

"Oh! We're in the presence of a senior. Maybe we should start calling your Kuzoka-senpai," Sekai grinned.

"Oh please, you're gonna' make me feel like an old man."

"Are you in any teams or clubs, Kuzoka-san?" Sekai seemed to be doing most of the talking.

Makoto remained quiet, and Eiichi already picked up that he wasn't liking him as their new guest, either because Eiichi looked like he'd just robbed a convenience store, or because Makoto was no longer the only male in the group. He figured it was a little of both. He wasn't surprised, people avoided him because of his looks, and that's just the way he liked it. However, Kotonoha had not, and this curiosity still prayed on him.

"No, just the 'go home' club."

Sekai laughed, "Like I haven't heard that one before."

Eiichi joined her, "Well, we can't all be sports fanatics."

"This is wonderful, you're all finally meeting," Kotonoha smiled.

Kotonoha seemed much more at ease now, and was enjoying things. However something about this whole situation was causing Eiichi's head to pound.

Kotonoha grabbed the thermos and poured into four individual cups from it. She handed them to everyone.

"Here, have some. This is to our first gathering. Itadakimasu!"

"Itadakimasu!" Eiichi joined in.

Something was wrong. Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw Makoto and Sekai exchanging glances.

He took a sip. It was lemonade, it was hot, but too sweet.

"Is it good?" Kotonoha asked.

"It's fine, but I'm going to need to excuse myself a minute," Eiichi stood.

"That was fast," Makoto remarked.

Eiichi gestured with reassuring hands, "Just a bathroom trip."

"Acting like an old man already," Sekai giggled.

Each step he took was a chore. The world began to sway all around.

'I just...gotta' make it to the door...'

When he got it closed, he stepped over to the stair rail and leaned on it. He carefully set one foot down after the other. When he got to the bottom of the flight, he sat on the last few steps, and clasped his head in both hands, heaving air in and out of his lungs.

Every beat of his heart, every breath had become an effort. Something was horribly wrong on that roof, and it was coming from those two people sitting with Kotonoha. Their guilt hung around them like a cloud. They didn't want to be around her, in fact being here was putting them through some pain of their own. They were hiding something from her.

He had to get away just so he could think. They may have stayed quiet, but their behavior, their atmosphere was too loud. He didn't know what to do from here, but he didn't want to go back up there. He couldn't leave Kotonoha up there by herself though. How much longer was their little lunch going to be?

He waited until the pounding in his head and chest came down to a dull pulse.

"Okay…heading back in…" he pushed himself off the step.

When he opened the door, he could hear them talking.

"Is something wrong?" Kotonoha sounded stressed.

"No, not really," Makoto responded.

"Could it be that it tastes bad?"

"That's not it."

"I'm sorry! My mom told me that the sweetness would be perfect," she had her hands clasped together.

"W-Well…"

"I'll practice and it'll suit your preferences."

"Well to be honest, it was a little on the sweet side," Eiichi stood before them, beaming a polite smile.

Makoto cast a dull look on him.

"It is?" Kotonoha said in desperation.

"Yeah…" he sat next to her again. "Give it another try, I'm interested to see how it turns out." He sipped from his cup, "I've never had hot lemonade before. It's very different." He didn't even look at Sekai and Makoto.

"I'll do that. Thank you. It's my mom's old recipe. She said 'it'll make him yours'."

She was such a sweetheart. In a very sad way, Eiichi thought that it was typical something like this would be happening behind her back.

There were fumes coming from Makoto and Sekai. The worse they got, the worse Eiichi became. Right now, he had a pretty good idea of what was going on. He had not thought much of the situation before. When coming from Kotonoha, Makoto sounded like just some oblivious guy. Her innocent affections for him had clouded her judgement, she really had no idea. The pain surged in his head and he responded with anger, but he had to keep it to himself.

'You two feelin' it now? You fuckin' better.'

Before lunch was over, they stood and said their goodbyes.

"It was a pleasure meeting both of you," Eiichi smiled.

"We should do this again. I really enjoyed it," Kotonoha smiled with him.

"Yeah, sure!" Sekai exclaimed, but he knew it was ruse.

The other three started toward the door, but Kotonoha turned while Sekai and Makoto continued, wanting to get away as quickly as possible.

"Kuzoka-san, are you coming with?"

"I think I'm going to stay up here a bit," he patted the pocket of his blazer where he kept his smokes and Kotonoha got the message.

When the door closed, he reached into his coat and pulled out his pack of cigs. He was so pissed that he needed one. He lit it quickly, took a long drag and exhaled a cloud of stress. He looked to the stairwell door.

"Just teenage bullshit. It'll work itself out," he flicked the cig like he was throwing the ash and looked back at the door.

Kotonoha carried herself like an adult, and was mature in that way, but she knew nothing about this shit. She was so hung up on Makoto, this would…

"I just gotta' be there…"

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