Chapter 1-3

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Chapter 1: Part 3

The next day, we had a choice for gym class. Our school took feedback from students seriously, so they often implemented nice systems like this for us.

We could either go to the pool or play basketball in the gym. Naturally, I picked the latter. Orito seemed really displeased by that, but if that was the case, then he should have just picked the other option. There really wasn’t a reason he had to come with me.

It goes without saying that the majority of the students picked the pool, but because of that, we had this huge, spacious gym all to ourselves.

Fufufu. It was finally time for me to show off my zombie abilities.

“Aikawaaa~~!” Tomonori called my name.

“How should we split the teams? We don’t really have enough to just do boys versus girls.”

“Whatever. Let’s just split them somehow.”

Orito stared at the girls as they stretched. First, everyone gathered in the middle of the room, and we decided teams fairly based on rock-paper-scissors. Everyone picked either rock or paper, and the ones who matched were on the same team.

“Yeah! Aikawa and me are on the same team!”

I was put on the same team as Tomonori, who was as pumped up as a military leader from a belligerent country who had just captured an enemy general. As for the other people I knew on my team…

There was another quiet-looking girl with bound twin tails that dangled down in front of her chest. She was a pretty girl who looked like she came right out of a tragic fairy tale.

Her name was Hiramatsu Taeko. She was in my class, had top grades, and was an honors student who had even won a Hyakunin Isshu (1) tournament in the past. I had been lectured about her by Orito before.

“Gahaha!!” Orito’s indecent laugh echoed through the gymnasium. “I think we’ve got this one!”

When I took a look at Orito’s team… Uwah! There were some really tall people on his side. That was just way too unfair! There was a blue-eyed guy with a face that could have come from an English prince.

“That’s pretty amazing… Was someone like that really in our school?”

“Aikawa-kun… All this time… Did you never notice Anderson-kun?”

Hiramatsu whispered towards me. At some point, Tomonori had left to get the ball.

“His name is Anderson?”

“Actually… his name is Shimomura-kun… but he just looks too much like a foreigner…”

Ah, so they made “shimo” into “ander” and “mura” into “son.” I see. (2)

Also, he wasn’t a foreigner? He definitely didn’t look Japanese no matter how you looked at it!

“Someone as handsome as that must be popular with the girls.”

I wanted to talk a bit about him.

I was honestly surprised at that. I had always heard all about our classmates and what happened around the school from Orito, but I don’t remember ever finding anything he told me interesting, not even once. After all, how did any of that have anything to do with me?

I’d seriously changed in the time since I met Yuu.

Everything was because of her.

“Yes… He’s very… very popular… Sorry.”

“Hm? Sorry for what?”

“I’m… really bad at physical things… so… I might hold our team back… and if we lose because of me…”

“We go to the gym for exercise, so it’s much more important to enjoy ourselves than to think about who wins and who loses.”

“…Yeah. Thanks… Aikawa-kun.”

“All right! Aikawa, let’s go! Well, it’s not like you’re going to win, though. We have Mihara and Anderson on our team! And two basketball team members too!”

Because of Orito, the nice atmosphere Hiramatsu and I had going on all came to nothing… What a tactless guy.

Tomonori brought the ball back and headed for the center circle.

Orito might have tried to take on the role of team captain, or the two basketball team members might just showing be restraint, but it was Orito who came to jump for the ball. Well then, it looked like I had no choice but to go myself to meet him.

“All right… Let’s start!”

Tomonori tossed the ball up, Orito and I jumped… Dammit! He stepped on me!

The ball flew towards our opponent’s end and was picked up by a girl.

“Here I gooooo~~!” She gave us a smile brimming with confidence. That girl had her brown hair tied up. She was pretty tall, and had a bit of a mature air about her. The way she was dribbling the ball made me realize that she was a member of the basketball team.

“Mihara is dangerous! Someone guard her! Hurry!”

A guy on my team yelled out and moved to guard her himself, but Tomonori yelled out.

“We need to put two people on Kanami!”

But that command came a bit late. The girl cut from right to left and easily slipped through the defense. Another panicked member of my team moved in to guard, but she smoothly evaded him.

So that girl was named Mihara Kanami. There were some pretty cute girls in Tomonori’s class too… Wait, why am I talking like Orito now?

Tomonori went for Mihara and reached for the ball. She flapped her arms around as if trying to forcibly take the ball, but Mihara just smiled and dealt with it easily.

And then she threw the ball, passing it to Anderson-kun.

Ugh, dammit. There was no point whatsoever for me to be guarding Orito like this.

In the end, the point was scored easily with a dunk. Wow. And then there was a burst of applause around me.

“Aikawa, run!”

When Tomonori spoke, I began to run with all my might towards our opponent’s basket. Tomonori was probably thinking of trying an extremely long pass. Everyone has tried this at least once, right?

Mihara and the others were also probably not playing seriously, so the pass actually succeeded. All that was left was to do a layup and even the score.

I softly flew through the air, and the minute the ball left my fingertips…

“Naïve, Aikawa!”

Orito was defending… not the basket. Rather, he sent his shoulder right into me in a bomber’s tackle, and I crashed into the gym wall. Didn’t he care about fouls?!

Fufufu, all right then! If that was how he wanted to play it…!

At that point, basketball ended. What then started from there was… a game of death basketball. (3) It was a game without any respect for the rules.

Every time Tomonori tried to shoot, Mihara would start tickling her. I would hurl the ball at Orito, and some of the other boys also started to play dodgeball with the ball.

Even though I had taken Anderson-kun to be a serious person, I saw him pass the ball to Orito, and when Orito went to take a layup shot, Anderson-kun knocked the ball back with a block that belonged more to a volleyball match. Orito’s face rubbed against Anderson-kun’s trousers.

And Hiramatsu, who wasn’t good at sports, just watched from afar and kept on laughing.

The only person who was actually trying to play proper basketball was the basketball team member Mihara.

She passed the ball under her legs and seemed to be enjoying herself as she dribbled across the court. I stood in front of her and blocked her progress.

I just had to stop her lightning-fast drive down the court. I figured out her intended path from the hand she was dribbling with and bent down.

“Aikawa, that’s a pretty good defense there. You play often?”

“Just a few times during gym.”

“If you can stop me from scoring, I’ll acknowledge you as Yuki-chan’s (4) husband.”

“What? It’s not like I want that to be acknowledged by anyone.”

“Hmph. Oh look, Orito is sexually harassing Yuki-chan.”

For just a single moment, I glanced to the side, and…

“Hyah.” Mihara shot the ball. That was a damn nasty feint.

At that moment, I made a mistake. Perhaps I had gotten worked up by this ridiculous battle of fouls, perhaps I just suddenly didn’t want to lose, or perhaps I felt something as a result of Mihara’s words… I don’t know what caused me to do what I did.

But at that moment, I chased after the ball and jumped a meter into the air.

I had used my zombie abilities just a bit.

I caught the ball and fell back to earth. A meter-high jump wouldn’t be enough to make them suspicious, right? As I nervously glanced at the others, I saw that everyone had frozen to the spot as if paralyzed.

…This probably wasn’t good.

“A-Aikawa…” Mihara pointed with a hand that shook in fear. She looked very frightened. It seemed that my superhuman powers were-

Krch. Hm? What was up with these bizarrely long hands? Why were my arms now being pinned behind my back? Indeed, what Mihara was pointing to was Anderson-kun, whose eyes were sparkling with happiness.

“Aikawa! Please join our basketball team!”

Anderson-kun breathed raggedly as he held me tight.

“No, that jump would be perfect for volleyball!”

A guy on my team seemed really excited.

“No, no, he needs to join our accidental panty shot research club!”

Huh? A club as interesting as that existed in our school?

“Hey, aren’t you all forgetting one thing?”

Orito had one hand on the wall and was sweating heavily. He spoke while he ran a finger through his spiky hair.

“Aikawa collapses really easily.”

It seemed that they all agreed with Orito; the spectators’ shoulders drooped and they seemed to fall into depression.

“I guess nobody can be good at everything…”

Anderson-kun was crying. I don’t care. Just let go of me, dammit.

“Anderson should know this better than anyone else here, shouldn’t he?”

Hm? What did he mean? Orito swept up his bangs and walked towards us.

“Ah, Aikawa probably doesn’t know, but the person who always brings Aikawa to the infirmary is Anderson. I mean, he’s the biggest person here, after all.”

“Ahh…” After I let that sink in, I bowed my head to Anderson. “Thank you for all your help.”

“Don’t worry about it. Everyone needs help sometimes.”

Anderson-kun flashed his white teeth as he smiled at me. Ahh… he sure was a good guy…

And so, for the first time in a long while, I was able to fully enjoy gym class.

Tomonori and I happily collected the balls and headed for the warehouse. On the way there…

“Ah, right, Aikawa. Did you know that we have hands-on cooking lessons tomorrow?”

“Really? I didn’t know.”

“I didn’t think so. I mean, you were sleeping. But we invited a chef here and they’re giving us cooking lessons tomorrow. We’re also in the same group, so let’s do our best!”

“So both our classes are doing it together?”

“Yeah. Tomorrow, fourth period is being changed from gym class to home ec. So today was the last day of gym.”

I see. Tomonori was in the class next door, so we had gym class together. And that class had changed to home ec tomorrow? To think that they hatched a plan like that while I was asleep…

“So, also. My rule is that you have to put potatoes in miso soup. Aikawa is in charge of the potatoes. So make sure you bring the potatoes tomorrow.”

“Yeah, all right. So who else is in our group?”

Like a slow kid, Tomonori searched her memory while counting on her fingers.

“Ummm… There’s Orito and Aikawa and me, and then Kanami and Hiramatsu… and then Anderson.”

Those guys? Hmm… I wondered what was happening. I’d never felt like that about school before.

For some reason, I found myself looking forward to our cooking lessons.

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(1) A card game where players have to match the front and back halves of poems.

(2) Shimo is written with the kanji for “under,” while mura and son are both valid ways to pronounce the second character in his name.

(3) He actually writes out “basukettobouru” with kanji that all have some sort of violent meaning. For example, “ba” is written with the kanji for “blade” and “ketto” with the kanji for “spitting out blood.”

(4) For those who forgot, Yuki-chan refers to Tomonori.

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