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Everything keeps breaking at work, but that’s okay. Only three weeks left until the holidays.
Come at me, fucking dickhead RPC shitcunt program!
And thus the idyllic scenery of lambs grazing in the sun was suddenly intruded upon by the fearsome black beast Mary──
As the sheepdog I was charged with protecting these lambs but before this creature’s savage gaze there was nothing I could do but cower.
Wait, no- wasn’t I supposed to be a lamb as well?
Ahem. The herd of harmless lambs (also known as the Handicrafts Club) was lost to panic and fear at the Zui’ran Emperor’s sudden appearance.
The little first years who had until a moment ago been praising this same Emperor were now petrified, wide-eyed, mouth agape.
Kaburagi spotted me and boomed, “Kisshouin! Didn’t I tell you yesterday to stop ignoring my messages!”
“Oh my, welcome to our humble club room, Kaburagi-sama. You must forgive me. Your messages only just arrived,” I replied with a feigned smile to try to protect my trembling lambs.
“How many times do I have to say it? You have a mobile phone for a reason.”
That’s what I want to ask. How many times do I have to say that you have to consider the other party too.
“Let’s go,” he said, apparently not even considering that I might refuse.
I put on my most apologetic expression as I bowed to him.
“I do feel terrible that you have come all this way, but I am afraid I am in the middle of some handicrafts. Unfortunately I will be unable to accompany you on this day.”
“…Handicrafts?” he asked.
“Yes. As you can see, this is the Handicrafts Club, and I am participating in club activities. I am also the President and therefore it would be inappropriate to leave on a whim.”
If you think it’s always going to go your way then you’ve got another thing coming, buddy. The world doesn’t revolve around you!
Unfortunately I was betrayed by my allies.
“Reika-sama, if you have business with Kaburagi-sama then would it not be better if you left?” said my Vice President, selling me out. “I will take responsibility for looking after the club in your absence.”
Next, all the other club members started chiming in too.
“She’s right, Reika-senpai.”
“Please don’t feel like you need to stay because of us.”
They were blatantly washing their hands of me…
The Emperor was alone right now so by all accounts this was their perfect chance to get close to him. So how come my club was filled with girls who would rather choose peace than take their chances?
I wouldn’t give in so easily though.
“I am afraid not. I myself am in the middle of something and it would hardly do to abandon this midway. My apologies, Kaburagi-sama.”
Hehe. How’s that?
I held out the proof in my hand like an imperial seal.
“What are you doing?”
“My kouhai wanted to make a bead and lace hair accessory for her pet so, so I am helping her with that.”
And with that I also got to casually flaunt having underclassmen. Ho ho ho.
“A hair accessory for a pet dog…?” he muttered before narrowing his eyes.
Chairs fell over and pencils clattered to the floor as Kaburagi stalked over to the 1st Years’ panic.
“…Where is it?”
Kaburagi’s expression grew ever stormier at my lack of comprehension.
He stopped at our desk, and looked down at our work and took Natori-san’s beaded lace into his hands.
After examining the design documents and snorting, he sat down on the chair I had been using until recently.
“Give,” he demanded.
I looked at his outstretched hand.
Don’t tell me…
Losing his patience with me, Kaburagi simply took the shuttle from me, lazily crossed his long legs, and then began nonchalantly knitting!
The Zui’ran Emperor was sitting there, knitting.
The sight of it was so surreal that the entire room was silent except for the loud ticking of the clock.
“You messed up this stitch here,” he commented.
“…It was too much work to redo it, so it was better to leave it,” I contended.
“Tsk, are you for real? And you’ve tangled the thread here.”
“…I am very sorry.”
And thus the Club President’s inadequacies were exposed for all the club to see.
I had to keep myself from trembling in embarrassment.
I glared at my sworn enemy, and tried to crush his hair whorl with the power of my gaze.
Third Eye, Awaken!
Damned Kaburagi, I hope you’re stuck in the toilet suffering from the runs!
But he must have sensed something because suddenly he turned his head and gave me a sidelong glance.
Third Eye, Deactivate.
I watched Kaburagi easily undo a knot and smoothly continue knitting. Maybe he’d found the trick to it or something because he wasn’t even looking at the design sheet anymore.
“You are very skilled… Have you laced before?”
“As if. If you just do what the instructions tell you to, anyone can do it.”
He was taking all my effort for a joke.
Third Eye, Awa-… Wah! He glared at me!
How’d he notice?
“Don’t stand behind me.”
Are you some kind of hitman?
While everybody in the room held their breath and watched him work, Kaburagi let out a small sigh and looked up at me.
In his hands was a little beaded lace flower, the result of his fluent and confident knitting.
It was carelessly tossed over to me, so I examined its handiwork.
Already I could hear my club members sighing in amazement.
“In so short a time..”
“As expected of Kaburagi-sama.”
I hated to admit it but it was a much better job than I had been doing.
I took Natori-san’s hand and placed the completed product on it.
Her eyes were wide teary in disbelief and she shook her head at me, but I simply smiled fondly at her and shook my head in return.
After watching out silent exchange for a bit, Kaburagi came over and took it from her hand.
Pointing here and there he said,
“The crooked bits here where the wrong holes were used are her work,” Kaburagi jerked his thumb at me, destroying any remaining face that I had left as the Club President.
While he wasn’t looking I’d slip the smallest bead into his shoes. Suffer the discomfort as you walk!
Natori-san reverently received the beaded lace flower from her Emperor.
She was now in possession of beaded lace knitted by the Emperor of Zui’ran himself, handed to her directly while speaking to her directly.
Even without the little tricks we came up with, Natori-san would definitely be the centre of attention for tomorrow──
“Right. Time to go to the supermarket,” Kaburagi announced.
This was what he had dragged me to the classroom to say.
I confirmed that the surroundings were clear of witnesses before I began my counter-attack with a smile.
“How many times must I say it before you understand that I have my own considerations? My schedule is simply filled after this, so I cannot accompany you.”
“What? You’re not gunna say that you have cram school or something, right?”
“Oh no. I have an appointment with my personal tutor today.”
What the heck is that look for?
How about you stop messing around so much and go study for a change?
The mid-terms are coming up, you know.
I opened my bag and retrieved the supermarket flyers I printed out last night.
“…What’s this?” he asked.
“Supermarket flyers. This should be enough for your purposes. Now then, take these, go shopping, and educate yourself.”
He took them from my hand and began studying them with great interest.
“Meat day… Fish day…?” he muttered to himself in thought.
“Well then, please excuse me,” I said, and made use of his distraction to escape.
“…Just now I saw some baked goods in your bag,” he muttered.
I stood stock still.
“Those were from the Pivoine, weren’t they?”
It wasn’t as if there was a rule about bringing the snacks home with you or anything.
…I did still feel a little guilty though.
“…Kaburagi-sama, please allow me to accompany you on this trip.”
The President of the Pivoine smirked at me.
What an odious character. Mine, that is!
Damn my hateful gluttony!
Why did you have to bring some back with you, Reika!?
And why did you have to let him see them, Reika!?
Just barely managing to hide this complicated sense of defeat, I forced myself to change gears and began thinking about my trip to the supermarket.
On the one hand it made the most sense to take him to the luxury supermarkets in upscale areas like Hiroo or Aoyama.
Aaah, but then on the other hand, that would also make it that much more likely to bump into people we know, huh…
“Ah, I was simply wondering which store to visit…”
Taking my words at face value, Kaburagi took out one flyer from the stack and held it out to me.
I took a skim of its contents.
‘A bargain every day!’
‘Frozen products, half off!’
Basically it was promoting a discount supermarket for commoners. It was from a totally different world to him.
“Might I ask why this one in particular?” I inquired.
“Of the pamphlets you gave me, this one was the most enthusiastic in trying to sell things to me.”
Well, this one was far away, and the chances of anyone I knew spotting me was pretty much zero, I guess.
Haaah. What a bother…
“What?” he demanded.
I hadn’t meant to do that aloud.
“Ah, nothing… By the way, I am surprised you knew to find me in the Handicrafts Club.”
“Oh, that? I asked some of your friends who were in the salon.”
Could it have been Fuyuko-sama?
“She told me that you two had been chatting but you had to leave for your club activities. Then she told me it was the Handicrafts Club and where to find it too.”
Fuyuko-sama, did you have to go out of your way…?
But I hadn’t realised that she knew I was in that club either.
We were in the same social circle but Fuyuko-sama always seemed lost in her own world. I’d never really seen her looking particularly close to anyone, myself included, so I assumed she hadn’t had much interest in us.
I suddenly found myself thinking about Natori-san’s situation.
Fuyuko-sama was a Pivoine student from primary school, and you could say she was part of the largest clique. In that sense she was as far from Natori-san as you could get, but…
Fuyuko-sama had come over to talk to me because she noticed I seemed to be worrying about something. I thought back to how happily she suggested using the ouija board together…
She always sits with our group but never starts a conversation on her own, just smiling in her dreamy way.
Because of that I figured that was just who she was, but maybe she actually wanted to talk more with us, but just couldn’t get the timing right.
At the very least she must have wanted to get to know me better, or she wouldn’t have tried so hard to start a conversation with me.
Well, this was just my conjecture though.
Still, if there was a chance it was true, then what I did earlier was rather cold, huh?
I decided to strike up a conversation with her tomorrow.
…About anything other than the occult.
“Oi, Kisshouin! We don’t have time for this. Let’s go!”
“What kind of answer is that!? Show me some spirit!”
But first I had to deal with my current problem.