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My phone buzzed.
‘We’re here~’ read the message from Umewaka-kun.
Umewaka-kun was really eager to see the Bea-tan doll but the others, Moriyama-san in particular, wanted to go around and check out the attractions and food first. That’s why we agreed that we could meet up during my shift at the Handicrafts Club.
I hoped my Bea-tan doll was good enough for Dog Lover-kun. Oniisama fixed up the face quite nicely, so it looked a lot like the real thing I’d like to think. Still, considering that it was Dog Lover-kun I could imagine him roaring,
“This is no Bea-tan of mine!”
and storming off…
What if that really happened…
If that wasn’t enough, my phone received an email from Sakura-chan too.
‘I was able to give the Track Club Manager a warning without issue.’
What did you do, Sakura-chan…
During my shift break I listened to the blushing Class Rep report on how the four of them had explored the School Festival yesterday. It seemed like quite a good time. Apparently they bought sweets and shared them. That’s fine. I had fun too with just my girl friends.
Class Rep said that they had the most fun with the haunted house. It was even scarier than they’d expected.
“Just remembering it…” shuddered Class Rep as he covered his ears.
My shift in the Handicrafts Club was in the afternoon. Not that I really did anything. My job was basically just to sit on a chair and watch out for anybody touching the exhibits.
Minami-kun was on shift with me. Speaking of which, didn’t he and the rest of Ririna’s gang go to Kaburagi’s haunted house yesterday?
“How was it? The haunted house, I mean.”
“It was terrifying. I’m ashamed to say that I took my headphones off midway… And then Kotou-san noticed and yelled at me afterwards for having no guts.”
“Goodness. I am sorry you went through that. Let me have a word with her later.”
“No! It was my fault for being a wimp…”
Geez! That Ririna!
Anyway, I had to say, we weren’t getting an awful lot of guests… I think I was starting to understand what the sports clubs were thinking…
Just as I thought that, Umewaka-kun’s crew came along.
They had quite a few bags on them. Spoils from all across the school, no doubt.
“Thanks for inviting us, Kisshouin-san. The school festivals at Zui’ran are freaking amazing!” said Kitazawa-kun.
The group was all smiles as they thanked me.
“I am glad to hear you say that. Did any of the attractions stand out?”
“I had clam chowder. In a bread bowl. It was really cool that you could eat the bowl too.”
“What about that piadini stuff! The crepe-thing with the meats and vegetables inside. That was amazing! There were like lines waiting up for it, yanno. That’s why we tried it. Thank god that we did.”
“Ahh, the Soccer Club’s refreshment booth,” I realised.
Damned Soccer Club. Seems like you weren’t just all talk.
“Oh and gosh, those donut bites were great too. And the fruit juice.”
“I liked the phở,” added one of the boys.
“You seemed to do nothing but eat,” I noted.
“No, no, we played some games too. Like darts. And it wasn’t even just some dart board, but a darts machine! That’s Zui’ran for you. It was like we went to a real darts place.”
“And you know? We went to the haunted house too! I have to say, that was the best thing here. It was so freaking scary! I underestimated it because this was just a school festival but hot damn was that scary. It was like my ears really were being torn off!”
“Kitazawa was in tears~”
Yup, yup. I was really glad to see that they were having fun. There was a lot of money put into this, so it made sense that the attractions and food stalls were better than your average school.
“Oh yeah. By the way, when we were entering the school, the ticket person got really flustered about this red flower on the ticket. Does it have some special meaning?” Kitazawa-kun asked.
It meant that the holder of the ticket was somebody that a Pivoine member invited.
“Hmmm… But when they gave us all these complimentary tickets so I thought that it might. Oh, and the girls here call each other ‘-sama’ don’t they? Could it be that they call you ‘Reika-sama’ too!?”
“Reika-sama. It sure fits you~ How about we start calling you Reika-sama from now on?”
Absolutely. Do. Not.
They all seemed to find the idea really funny and laughed away.
“Oh hey!” began one of the girls, “A while back when we were tired we found this café, but when we entered there was this hot barista guy who was like a prince! Who was that? Do you know, Kisshouin-san? I think he should be in your grade. And he was really popular too, with all these girls around. Are you two close?”
Hot barista guy… Enjou then.
“We know of each other.”
“What the heck. What a shame.”
Both Moriyama and Sasaki-san looked crestfallen.
“Are there any other hot guys?” they tried instead, which prompted the boys to ask,
“What about cute girls?”
Cute girls? There’s one right here, isn’t there?
“More importantly! Let’s go see Bea-tan already!” Umewaka-kun said impatiently.
The time of judgement had come…
“This way. Follow me.”
I anxiously led the group towards my Bea-tan doll.
Umewaka-kun seemed deeply moved.
“How is it?”
“It’s perfect… It’s perfect, Kisshouin-san!”
I did it! I passed!
“You’ve really outdone yourself in capturing Bea-tan’s loveliness. You’re amazing, Kisshouin-san!”
I see, I see. So this is what it means to have your hard work pay off.
“Hey, Kisshouin-san? Could I touch this?”
I mean, it was technically against the rules to touch the exhibits, but since it was just my one I didn’t mind.
“Go ahead. But please take care not to bend it. That can happen with too much force.”
Umewaka-kun gently held the Bea-tan doll. And then just stared. What the…
The moment I began to wonder…
Overcome with emotion, he gave the doll a tight hug.
“Bea-tan, Bea-tan! You’re so cute, Bea-tan!” he said as he began to nuzzle it against his cheeks.
I was watching a tall high school boy with piercings shower a doll with kisses as he exclaimed ‘Lovely!’ in English over and over… This was surreal…
Kitazawa-kun went to stop him while everybody else looked this way and that for onlookers.
I realised that Minami-kun had actually been staring, slackjawed. The few guests we had were quickly leaving the room…
“Aah, sorry about that. I got a little too excited. But Kisshouin-san, how come this Bea-tan doll smells so good? Could it be that this is the smell of your house?”
He brought it close and began sniffing at it. Hu hu hu, so he noticed.
“The truth is that there is rose potpourri inside.”
That’s right. I decided not to mention it, content to let just the people who noticed it realise. This was how you did casual classiness! It was by keeping little additions like this casual that you could show how good your taste was! Ohohohoho!
“Wow, I see. But she really is cute. She looks just like Bea-tan. …I want her. Hey, Kisshouin-san, couldn’t you give her to me?”
“Come on, please! I’ll take care of her, I swear! She’ll be like Bea-tan’s adopted little sister. Come on, Kisshouin-san!”
“Come on, please!”
The intensity of his eyes was kind of scary… Everybody else was creeped out too. Moriyama-san, didn’t you have a crush on him?
I turned to find Fellow Stalking Horse, standing by the doorway.
“I’d like a word.”
With a stern expression, Fellow Stalking Horse called me out into the hallway.
Eh? What had I done this time?