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“Is something the matter, Mizusaki-kun?”
I mentally ran through anything I might have done to piss him off. Mn. Probably something to do with the Pivoine again.
While we were standing together in the hallway I noticed him shoot a harsh glance in the direction of the classroom.
Fellow Stalking Horse shifted his position so that he was shielding me from it.
“Are you okay?”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“…Aren’t you being extorted?”
Extorted? Me? By Umewaka-kun and the others?
“Um, might I ask how you came to that conclusion…?”
“I’ve had reports about them using coupons with the Pivoine’s crest. At first it was something to just keep in mind, but I was patrolling just now when I saw them pester you for something, so I stopped them just in case.”
So that was it. It wasn’t just the tickets that set him off, but the coupons with the red peony symbol. After all, given the brown hair and piercings, they didn’t exactly look the part of somebody closely acquainted with a Pivoine member.
“Kisshouin, if they’ve been pestering you for money but you’re finding it hard to refuse, I’ll talk to them.”
“Umm, Mizusaki-kun, it seems that you are misunderstanding, but those people over there are actually my friends.”
“Friends? Yours? Those guys?”
I didn’t know a face could look so doubtful.
Yeah, they were my friends. True, when we first met I thought they were annoying, and loud, and gaudy-looking, but even after I was cold with them they kept trying to befriend me. I considered them real friends now.
“Kisshouin, are you sure you’re not being tricked? A lot of the students here at Zui’ran are sheltered, so they make for easy targets. You might not even have realised.”
“Hold on, Mizusaki-kun.”
Fellow Stalking Horse really didn’t think well of them. Look more carefully, Stalking Horse. Umewaka-kun might be wearing gaudy silver earrings, but those are actually pad pads, you know? And none of the group are all that uncultured. I think you could say they’re well brought up, relatively speaking. It’s easy to get the wrong idea at a glance though.
“I am grateful for your concern, but not once have they pestered me for anything. We interact a lot at cram school, but never have they asked or expected me to treat them. Actually, they are the sort of people who gathered in the middle of the sweltering summer in order to help me with my exhibit for the Handicrafts Club. And I cannot know how exactly you see them, but let me tell you now that every one of them is a better student than I am, with far better grades.”
And it was true. Even though they knew that I was a rich girl, nobody had ever asked me to shout them. Actually when I gave Umewaka-kun that bag for Beatrice he even treated me to some popular convenience store treats as a thank you.
“Incidentally, what you overheard earlier was my friend begging me to give him the dog plush toy I made. I modelled it off of his beloved dog, but apparently it looked so close to the real thing that he could scarcely help but ask for it. I suppose without context it might have been easy to misunderstand though.”
“Indeed. In fact, he has been waiting quite excitedly for this day. As for the coupons, every Pivoine member ends up with much too many to ever spend on their own, so since they were coming here anyhow I wanted them to enjoy it.”
I peeked into the club room for a moment only to find Umewaka-kun still being restrained by everybody. Hadn’t stopped him from burying his face in Bea-tan though.
Yeah. That guy was not giving up until I agreed.
Spying on the same scene from behind me, I think Fellow Stalking had finally seen the truth.
What’s wrong, Fellow Stalking Horse? Is this your first time seeing a Dog Maniac? You’re naive if you think this is his worst. Shall I show you the Bea-tan role-playing emails? Ah, but if I showed you those you’d probably be wary in a different way, and try and convince me to break it off anyway.
“I hope that this has cleared things up.”
“…My bad. Sorry for doubting your friends, Kisshouin. But as the Student Council President I have an obligation to protect the students.”
“I see. Well, I sincerely thank you anyhow for your concern. I must say, however, that I am a tad surprised. I would never have expected the Student Council President to concern himself over a Pivoine member like myself.”
“That has nothing to do with it. If a student at Zui’ran is in trouble, then it’s the Student Council’s job to help.”
“…Even if this was the Pivoine’s President?”
“Of course,” he nodded.
There was no hesitation in his eyes.
Hmmm~ But he’d gone through a pretty hard time because of her. Not only had she completely thrashed him with her mouth, he even got in trouble with the school staff because of her. In his position I definitely wouldn’t help her.
With that in mind, I realised once again what an impressive person Fellow Stalking Horse was. I thought a little better of him.
“Well then, since things are clear, please excuse me. I have to return to my post.”
“Sure. If my behaviour has upset them, please let them know that I’ll be happy to apologise.”
“Also Kisshouin, I might have overlooked it last time, but you’re not allowed to bring that fan to school anymore. I doubt anybody would disagree with me at this point that it’s a weapon.”
Eeehhh!? It’s not a weapon, it’s just a Rococo Queen’s prop!
“That guy just now was so cool! Who was he? Do you know him? Doesn’t the hot-guy ratio seem higher in Zui’ran?” the girls asked me, the moment I stepped back into the classroom.
Moriyama-san, what happened to Umewaka-kun…?
Speaking of Umewaka-kun, since he was still begging to adopt it, I told him to wait until the School Festival was over.
Umewaka-kun was overjoyed, and finally parted after giving it a kiss goodbye.
Anyhow, apparently everyone was going to the Science Club next for the planetarium. Also I think Moriyama-san had completely given up on him. Not that anybody could have helped it… He loved his dog so much that the love even extended to plush toys that resembled her. You’d be hard pressed to find a high school girl willing to accept a boy like that.
“That was an experience…” Minami-kun murmured after they left.
Once my shift was done, I met up with my group to tour the School Festival again.
“Reika-sama, apparently Kaburagi-sama went to Enjou-sama’s class again and had some of Takamichi-san’s biscuits.”
“My, I see.”
Kaburagi, huh… I suppose that settled things then. Things were going to get bothersome again after this school festival…
But I could enjoy what time I had left. Umewaka-kun’s crew said that the Soccer Club’s piadini was good, right? Maybe I’d try some.
So I suggested it to my group and we headed right over. When we arrived the Soccer Club President began pushing food onto me.
“You don’t need to pay!”
The same thing happened when we arrived at the Baseball Club and Basketball Club.
Eh-, wasn’t I doing the extorting then? Now it looked like I was travelling from place to place collecting protection money, didn’t it?
Maybe Fellow Stalking Horse had a point about the fan…
When I returned to my classroom I changed and began serving again. I was going to do my best for the remaining hours! Oh, huh? Umewaka-kun and the others hadn’t contributed to the Xu Fu’s sales? Tsk, what worthless friends.
“Kyaa! It’s Kaburagi-sama and Enjou-sama!”
The squeals of girls filled the store as the pair entered. What were they doing here. Oh, right, we were selling tea here.
Although the room suddenly got a lot noisier, at least the number of female customers was increasing. I suppose that was all right then.
Then I realised it wasn’t just these two. Popping out from behind Enjou was Yukino-kun. Immediately my mood soared.
“Good afternoon, Kisshouin-san,” began Enjou, “Yukino said he wanted to come here, so I came with him. I see you’re wearing a cute Chinese outfit today.”
“Good afternoon, Reika-oneesan!” said Yukino-kun.
“Good afternoon~ Yukino-kun, I am so glad you came! And welcome, Enjou-sama, Kaburagi-sama. Is it okay to leave your own class’ café, Enjou-sama?”
“My class has been packed since morning, so we’ve already sold out. That’s why we closed shop.”
“My, that is certainly…”
Tch. Thanks to the Enjou Effect, no doubt. My café still had plenty. If we still had some by the end we were going to split it between us.
“What the hell, Kisshouin,” Kaburagi exclaimed, “Where’s the dragon on your back? The road to completion is harder than it looks, isn’t it.”
“I do not harbour such an eccentric ambition, so…”
What the hell! Stop saying weird things in front of Yukino-kun! And look! Enjou was sniggering to the side! I knew it! That rabbit from the other day was some sort of harassment!
Anyhow, Kaburagi went with Tieguanyin tea, Enjou with chrysanthemum, and Yukino-kun with the flowering tea. Their orders reflected their personalities, didn’t it.
When their orders were ready I added some mooncakes on the house. After all, harassment or not I was still treated with a latte art without a ticket. Not that Kaburagi ate any.
“I’ve had enough sweet things for today,” he said.
Kaburagi, did you have too many of Wakaba-chan’s biscuits?
Still, although Kaburagi didn’t eat any, he didn’t ignore the moon cakes either. I watched him stuff some into his pockets. I guess he was taking them home. He was surprisingly dutiful about these things.
Yukino-kun was watching his tea flower in the water with a smile, so I couldn’t help but smile myself. Maybe he’d like some annin tofu as well.
The time passed with mostly Yukino-kun and I doing the talking. When it was time for them to leave, I saw them off in the hallway.
“I had a lot of fun today, Reika-oneesan,” he smiled.
“I was glad to see you too, Yukino-kun,” I smiled back.
We shared a little laugh. How on earth was this little angel born to the same household as that scoundrel Enjou?
Kaburagi was headed back to his own class, since they were holding a party to celebrate their hard work. I guess Kaburagi wasn’t as anti-social as I thought.
I had only come out here to see them off, but somehow I ended up in another chat with Yukino-kun. He was just so darn cute after all. Enjou just stood to the side with a smile on his face.
That was when a girl’s voice interrupted.
I looked on reflex, only to find Bird Brain Katsuragi, and some delicate-looking girl with black hair down to her shoulders. Eh? Who was this?
“Yuiko,” Enjou noticed her, looking a little surprised.
Was it somebody he knew?
Enjou smiled gently and approached her. Standing beside me, Yukino-kun gripped my hand. Hm? What’s wrong, Yukino-kun?
“What are you doing here, Yuiko?”
“I heard that you were doing latte art at your school festival so I had Haru bring me,” she said with a soft voice. “Was I a little too late?”
She tilted her head a little in question.
It was a striking sight, with her stark white skin and faintly moist eyes.
The previously noisy hallway was silent now, and all eyes were on Yuiko-san. Even the ordinarily noisy Katsuragi Boy was behaving himself.
“My class’ café closed quite some time ago. But if you wanted to see some latte art there was no need to come here. I’ll draw you as many as you want at home.”
“Really? Then I’ll look forward to it.”
The two of them seemed rather close. I wonder what this meant…
“Yukino, it’s about time to go home. Yuiko, what are you going to do?”
“Hmmm… I think I’ll go home with you too, Shuu. It wouldn’t be very fun without you, anyhow.”
Yukino-kun let go of my hand and returned to his brother’s side, his expression a little stiff.
“Well then, Kisshouin-san. Thanks for today.”
“Gokigen’yoh, Enjou-sama. Good bye, Yukino-kun.”
“Good bye, Reika-oneesan.”
Yuiko-san gave me a smile before comfortably slipping her arm around Enjou’s, the two of them leaving the hallway.
I stood there stunned for a little as the subdued Katsuragi Boy ran over to me.
“Yuiko-san is Enjou-san’s lover, and don’t you forget it,” he whispered in my ear before running after them.
When the four of them were out of sight, the hallway erupted.
“Who the hell was that!?”
“Don’t tell me that was Enjou-sama’s girlfriend!?”
“Nobody told me about this!”
“She was so beautiful… ‘Yuiko-san’… I wonder if we’ll meet again…”
That was when, oblivious to their surroundings, my cram school friends happily approached me, having had their fill of the planetarium.
“Whoaa! Kisshouin-saan! You’re wearing a cheongsam! Camera! Where’s my camera!”
“Wearing a cheongsam with your ringlets is kind of fresh in its own way.”
In the face of all the excitement and their care-free mood, I kind of just gave in and stopped thinking as I started striking poses for them.
“Maybe I should get Beatrice to wear a cheongsam too…”
Hey. Why not.
TL Note: Incidentally, Tieguanyin (Iron Guan Yin) tea is my favourite.
It has a pleasant flavour, and this lovely and sweet aftertaste.